Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars 2018

We never imagined we would be writing this post.

However, it is with great elation and shock that we announce that this year, we were selected for Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography of 2018!

Through the past several years, we’ve been lucky enough to capture beautiful couples in love in so many different places. And through that, we attended workshops and built relationships with some of the most amazing talent in our industry; colleagues whose work and heart moved us so incredibly. A few of those became close friends, of which we are forever grateful. They pushed us to form our own unique vision. Some of the most inspiring artists we’ve known have been named Rangefinder winners in previous years. So when we got the email notifying us of our nomination for this year’s bid, we screamed! And that was it, we never thought we had an actual chance to win this competition. We were so happy to even be nominated because about 300 deserving photographers are nominated every year from all over the world! We submitted our gallery with no expectations. When we received the final email saying that we had won and subsequently offered a chance to speak at the WPPI Conference in Vegas next February, we felt what pure shock feels like. So it’s hard to adequately express just how grateful we feel about our supportive community of clients, family, friends, colleagues and mentors who have shaped us into artists that are deserving of this honor. You have all made this possible and we are so excited to see what opportunities come from this bright new chapter in our business and our lives! We are proud to share our official submission gallery with you. You can also see this in permanent display along with the other winners on Rangefinder’s website!

www.rangefinderonline.com

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Artist Story | Blake Eiermann, Los Angeles, California


 
 

“I chased a daydream and woke up by the sea”

 

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I’ve always been different.

For the longest time, I felt that I didn't quite fit in but later learned I am able to adjust anywhere. I wasn’t made to settle into one place so I feel most inspired when I’m traveling or experiencing a new adventure. From a young age, I have always felt that I had an old soul. I sense a deep understanding of life and strive to see the big picture of every situation. With that, as I’ve grown, I've struggled through challenges that life and age has brought me. But throughout those times, I have always known there was a reason for these struggles and have tried to take away a lesson from each one. At times, life is quite difficult, especially because I'm pursuing a career that is not drawn-out or straightforward.

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I always had an interest in observing things and consider myself a visual learner . Around the age of 16, I started taking photos for my school's yearbook and fell in love with the task, specifically portraits. It was such a developmental time in my life. I consider myself an extrovert now but when I was younger, I found it very hard to connect with others and struggled with social anxiety. Photography really allowed me to come out of my shell and presented opportunities for me to build a future. I started college majoring in journalism but quickly switched to filmmaking. The transition was natural and it enabled me to express and speak through a new medium, film. I have always admired the magic of movies growing up and it was so cool to be able to study something that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be a part of while living in the south. I can’t imagine finishing college if I had majored in anything else.

 
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  Like many, I dealt with bullying growing up and found myself to be an easy target. But as I grew more into my own and stopped caring so much of what others thought, I realized that I had a knack for modeling. To me, modeling is more than just standing in front of a camera and trying to look pretty, I love the art of expression. I’ve been told before that I exhibit a since of confidence in front of camera that I don’t carry around otherwise. I guess it’s because I feel more comfortable in front of a camera than people. It’s a sense of therapy for me because I feel like I’m allowed to be whatever I want in front of the lens that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to be. When shooting other people, I always tell them not to stress, it isn’t a big deal and to just have fun with it. Over time, that is the attitude I’ve adopted.

 
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"To me, modeling is more than just standing in front of a camera and trying to look pretty.
 I love the art of expression."

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While growing up in the deep south, acting was never an option but I always dreamed of doing it. Photography allowed me to come out of my shell and led to modeling and filmmaking. As I was learning about scripts, character development and directing along with my knowledge of how things look on camera, I naturally picked up acting.  Now that I live in Los Angeles, I am free to peruse opportunities that will let me expand this new craft.

 
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I’m first to admit that I’m never really sure of what I’m doing, but who does? People will always try to fit things into their own understanding and I feel that I’m constantly given options of what I “should” do. Honestly, I do care what others think, almost too much sometimes, where I struggle to find my own voice. But what I’ve learned is that you can’t make everyone happy and your life is YOUR only chance around so you have to ultimately do it the way you want. I’ve been told constantly that I need to pick one thing and stick with it or I won’t succeed. But I simply cannot function that way. I’m constantly growing and changing and don’t see why my interest or expression of art shouldn’t as well. I've never conformed and it has gotten me this far, so why stop now, you know?  And I didn’t come this far to be shoved into a box and do as I’m told.

 
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"Often times I think I may be a little crazy because the way I think and perceive things isn’t shared by the people I’ve found myself around. But I think it takes the right amount of madness to see the world just differently enough to change it. "

 
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One of my big inspirations is James Dean. I love how he was a symbol of masculinity and a rebel. I constantly find myself feeling on the outside marching to the beat of my own drum. I also admire his iconic timeless style. And with my own style and expression I like to ride the line of masculine and feminine qualities. 

 
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And I think the world needs to keep a sense of mystery.  So many people move to L.A. to be someone else but I moved here to become more of who I am. And I've learned that success really comes with perseverance. It's a gift to be a nobody in a city of  "somebodies".  It allows the freedom to move around the city and develop your own voice so that if and when you get the platform to speak you actually have something to say. And it is very true that life is about the journey not the destination. 

 
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"I always tend to be drawn to the grays in life, nothing is truly black and
white. In the grays, we find the complexity of life. No person or situation is as simple as it seems.
That’s the fun in trying to dive deeper into it."

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I have struggled a lot with depression in my life.

 
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What has gotten me through the lowest parts is the idea that I am loved regardless by the One who made me. My perspective is that life is a mosaic of good and bad. And that together creates an image of God that we can spend our whole lives learning about. And if we are created in his image,  we can spend our life continuing to learn new things about ourselves. That is what drives me and why I always desire to fully experience what life throws at me. 

 
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Faith is a big aspect of my life. It's as if we are all on a big map trying to find our own way. No one fully knows the right way but we are all trying and all you can do is help those you meet along the way. I am a Christian who believes in a personal relationship with a God that created us. And in that I find the beauty in life, that we were created with so much complexity that our purpose is to live and experience life to the fullest.  No one is perfect, but that’s not the point. Imperfection is a beautiful example of love because God loves us regardless and He will let us work things out on our own.

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Aside from faith, the greatest sources of my inspiration for creating come from music, cloudy days and novel adventures. What I'm listening to is certainly reflected in my work so I love projects that evoke a mood.

 
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I believe that artists reflect the world as they see it. So with an image that I create, I’m able to share with others how I see the world. 

Kata and Austin's Love Story in Northern California

Fashion styling and dressing up has always been my bliss, that passion has grown, evolved and eventually lead me to this beautiful life and moment in time.
— Kata Mari
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At my core, I am still that little girl who would spend hours playing dress up, idolized Barbie, and discovered a passion for sewing at a young age. I was five years old when I was introduced to my first sewing project; my mother and I made pillows together. I remember we took white fabric and hand dyed the fabric pink. We then traced out three small heart shapes and my mother proceeded to machine sew the pillows together as I watched her every move intently. She taught me how to fill the little pillows and once we had them assembled, we hand embroider each pillow with a single word. Love. Joy. Hope. I was so proud of those little pink heart shaped pillows we made together that day!

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My interest in sewing really took flight during a visit to a friend's house whose mother was a seamstress. As I walked through the workshop, I was intrigued by everything around me: the machines, the fabrics, threads of every color, all the strange and beautiful notions... all of it. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was sew and create beautiful clothing! My mother was always one to encourage creativity and surprised me with a beautiful gold and white 1950's Singer sewing machine. She taught me a few sewing basics and set me to creating.

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As a teenager, I discovered a love for all things vintage and would often take vintage pieces and alter or re-design them into something new and beautiful. I would spend hours styling and pairing pieces together, mixing vintage with modern, creating a style of my very own. Through hair, makeup and fashion, I would create a different persona and reinvent myself on a daily basis. What fun I had! I can remember spending hours pouring over fashion magazines, enthralled with the images and super models of the era, studying the scenes, fashions, hairstyles, and the makeup. Dreaming of someday being a part of that beautiful and magical world.

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Fast forward to several years later, as I was just starting out on my journey as a fashion designer. Little did I know, in a few months time, I would be meeting and falling in love with the man of my dreams on the set of a photo shoot. I laugh a bit to myself because I was never the girl who believed in soulmates. Although, a soulmate was exactly what my heart was searching for.
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As I reflect on where the path to each other really began to take shape, I'm taken back to the spring of 2008, during my first excursion to Fayetteville, Arkansas. I instantly felt at home and fell in love with the young, artsy culture and vibe of that funky little city in the Ozarks. Later that year in the autumn months, I made the leap and set out on an incredible journey of self discovery, that would forever change me and the way I viewed world. In that pursuit of my passions, I found struggles, chaos, and uncertainty; it was in those moments of turmoil, I found my voice and called upon my inner goddess.

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The year before Austin and I met, our life journeys and creative pursuits were simultaneously paving the way to each other. My path and passion for fashion design was just starting to take shape and Austin's love of fashion photography was taking flight. During that time, we were both on a journey of becoming. Our hearts were adrift, searching for something to connect to; our paths were destined to collide even if we didn't fully realize it at the time. The path to each other was fraught with storms and struggles, life lessons and growing pains; in that search for our place in the universe, striving for independence, encountering loss, heartbreak and emotionally unfulfilled relationships. We were learning what we were made of in these endeavors, misadventures and triumphs.

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In that pursuit of my passions, I found struggles, chaos, and uncertainty; it was in those moments of turmoil, I found my voice and called upon my inner goddess.

As I recall the days, months, years leading up to our first encounter, I see the connections, the twist and turns of our lives, and the choices made, both in and out of our control that have been woven together, leading us to that fateful moment in time; that moment in time where I would find my soulmate and the love of my life.

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Our hearts knew instantly that we were kindred spirits just waiting for the other. On that journey to each other, through all the chaos, struggles and heartache, we found a driving force and inner strength to follow our dreams and embrace the talents God had given; following those dreams to our mutual destiny and finding a home within each other.

Anna's Proposal at Petit Jean National Park

Words by Robert Brooks | Illustrations by Anna Hunter


The Beginning

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  I arrived at Hendrix College at Conway, Arkansas in 2008 and needed to overhaul my image and try to come into my own. One different method I wanted to try was to be more assertive and outgoing. One night I finally had my chance to not be the shy, silent boy I was and take that leap. Her name was Anna Hunter. Ever since that night, and one rather terrible pick-up line later, she would prove indispensable in making me the person I am today. Though we did have a rocky patch towards the end of our college days, she never left my thoughts. I often wandered, ‘how is Anna doing today?’ or ‘I wonder what she’s been up to recently’.


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The Accident

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  Simultaneously, both of our personal lives both took a turn for the worst. I was involved in a workplace accident that nearly took my life. I was exposed to sulfuric acid and steam when our reactor failed. I was rushed to the hospital where I lost consciousness, awaking later in another hospital 12 days later. I spent the next month in the hospital undergoing surgery after surgery and wound care after wound care in order to stabilize and heal the burns I received. A complex process of grafting was used to help speed up my recovery. This involves taking skin from different areas of my body and applying it to the burned parts of my body. For the longest time, my back and legs were tender and unable to withstand prolonged exposure to pressure. This made lying in a hospital bed that much more severe. When the doctors deemed me stable enough to return home, I was discharged from the burn unit where care and recovery was a grueling process. On the average, baths and wound care would take upwards of 3 hours on a quick evening. Therapy to prevent the seizing of my effected limbs and appendages began shortly after my discharge.
  I spiraled into a dark place between a constant dull pain of my burns and the acute pains of wound care and therapy. Unfortunately it was around this time that Anna suffered the devastating loss of her brother to a natural disaster accident.  The pain we were both enduring through these dark times was deafening. We did everything we could to support each other. But I can definitely say that these tragedies were the catalyst that brought us together. It was in this darkness that I could really see the lights in my life. Family, friends, hobbies… and Anna.


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The Recovery

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  The best part of my day was her. It was always her. I knew in my heart that she was the one. Just the thought of her was enough to bring me out of my slumps.   She would come over just to read to me while I was recovering. The books were usually Harry Potter. I often listened to her cite The Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows. I'd have to say the Goblet of Fire was always my favorite because Harry finally learned magic and became able to defend himself. It was the first time he started showing real maturity.


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The Ring

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  It took some persistence but I was finally able to get coffee with her one morning. At that time, I revealed how I felt and that I wanted to try again. It was do or die as Anna had just informed me that she might be moving away to Washington State. Thankfully, she remained in Arkansas, and after several dates and a couple months, we decided it was time to go all in. Later that year, I started designing the ring.


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The Perfect Plan

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  We then began talking about the future. Myself, a pursuit in pharmacy, and Anna, the pursuit of her Masters in Illustration. After a tortuous time waiting for responses, we finally heard the good news from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I then resolved to propose to her before we left for Georgia. For anyone who’s seen The Office, in many ways, I felt similar to Jim. I couldn’t wait any longer as I was just too excited to be engaged and married to Anna, my Pam. I wanted her to know just how much she meant to me and how much I loved her. I knew it had to be perfect! I finally narrowed in on what was to be the proposal: a private event with the two of us and our favorite photographer. This was my chance to show Anna how serious I was about our future together. I knew Danielle was the one we wanted as our photographer so it was imperative that I snag her before she was booked. The serendipitous part of contacting Danielle is she had every intention of contacting us with a special project she was wanting to undertake. By May 2017, Danielle and I decided in on July 2nd to be the big day.
Now came the fun part, getting Anna involved. I was able to avoid suspicion to my plot AND secure the day in question. About a week later, Danielle reached out to Anna according to plan. We had the perfect cover. Danielle introduced Anna to the idea of doing a love story photo shoot as a set of ‘test subjects’ and though this was no lie, it did not give way to the secret. Anna read to me the conversation betwixt Danielle and herself. Trying to keep my joy and excitement from spilling out, I could only make the comment, ‘yeah, that sounds really fun’ as Anna kept describing the events of which I was very well aware. Things were moving smoothly toward the big day.


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The Wait

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  Sunday finally came and I was all versions of happy, nervous, excited, and anxious. As I donned my outfit, I discreetly took the ring out of its cozy box and placed it into the pocket on my waist coat. Though I knew it was securely tucked away in the pocket, I couldn’t help but nervously check to make sure it was still there every 15 minutes. Every hug, embrace, or form of contact caused me anxiety as I was always scared it would give away my ultimate goal before I had the chance to pop the question. As the day pressed on, I began to calm down and get into a groove with my girlfriend and hopefully-soon-to-be-fiancé. After a full day of photos, our final shoot location was all that remained.


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The Big Reveal

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  Anna unfurled her folded piece of paper, on which contained the reasons she loves me, or so I had planned with Danielle. What was actually on the piece of paper was a poem that encapsulated everything I ever needed to hear from Anna to know that what I was getting myself into was exactly what I’ve always wanted. As she finished up and I wiped the tears from my eyes, it was my turn. The words began to flow from one idea to the next. Each one building off the other, but through my nervousness and anxiety, I can’t recall most of what I said in the preamble but the one part I will never forget is the reaction I received when I gave her the line, “…and from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry.” At those words, her expression went from joy and cheer to confusion and worry. Knowing I had a very short time to keep happiness intact, I continued on. “I’m sorry that I lied to you one more time.” After that, I dropped to one knee and pulled the ring out of my pocket. As I presented the ring her eyes lit up and she was rendered speechless. When I finished speaking, there was a silence that continued for much longer than I anticipated. Pretty sure she was stunned! The moments dragged into what seemed like hours until her words finally caught up with her stuttering nod. She said ‘Yes’…. ‘Yes’, ‘Yes!’…. ‘Yes!’ and we embraced with Debussy’s Claire de Lune playing in the background. It is my belief that Anna deserves fun surprises for candid memories, pampering to her hearts content, and most of all, someone who will support her in all her endeavors with all their strength, all their heart and all their soul. That is what that ring represents. Until death do we part.


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The Great Adventure

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  When people discuss a proposal, they always talk about how it’s one of the scariest things you will do in your life. As someone who has recently done such as that, they are correct! What they don’t tell you is the exhilaration and the elation you feel alongside those anxious worries that creep in. For all that I am and all that I will become walking side-by- side with Anna, this event is one I will cherish for the rest of my life.