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Thanksgiving 2016 | Denver Portrait Photographer

I was just talking to a friend about the stress of traveling for the holidays and I started to realize that despite all the stress, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite family holiday. We have solid traditions that I love. Our family grows and shrinks and changes every year, but it is always a group I feel so comfortable with and loved by.

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There is a Passover tradition where families are supposed to invite strangers in to share their meal with. We never did that at our Passover Seders but I feel like we make up for it with Thanksgiving. In addition to my family, there are always a few friends and neighbors who join our table, along with some regular honorary family members who join us each year.

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One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is the themed meals. Thanksgiving in our family is at my aunt and uncle’s house. My uncle is an amazing chef and my aunt is an outstanding baker and they love to get creative. Each year, Thanksgiving dinner has a new theme. Sometimes, it’s a country. One year, the theme was ravioli! We made all different kinds of ravioli and sauces to mix and match.

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Last year, Thanksgiving was a few weeks after my grandma passed away. So our theme was Nana’s takes on Thanksgiving classics. Nana was known in our family for having some weird recipes. She loved collecting them from friends and writing them down for her recipe box. She brought us my favorite cheesecake in the world but also the purple chicken, which did not get such great reviews. Whether the dish was amazing or awful, it always sparked conversation, so we wanted to honor all of it. Well, we were sort of a mess this year so the theme fell apart and became deconstructed Thanksgiving classics, with little bits of Nana’s memory here and there.

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Let’s get to know each other! Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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Total Solar Eclipse | Denver Photography

August 21st, 2017 had been saved in my calendar for two years. My partner loves space and watches astronomical events closely so when we realized that a total solar eclipse would be within a couple hours of us, we knew we had to be there. We tried looking for hotels and airbnb’s near Casper, but they were either sold out or out of our price range. Then we found a campsite, in the path of totality and even closer than Casper. It was perfect, but I was a bit worried. We had never been camping together and I hadn’t been since I was a kid. We’ve been through far more stressful experiences together, so I knew we could handle it, even if I’m not the most outdoorsy person in the world.

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Camping turned out to be lots of fun. There were so many other people there who were excited to see the eclipse! Our camp was in an old rodeo arena and within walking distance of the Oregon Trail ruts. The ruts are where over time, the wagons carved a path in the rock as they traveled across Wyoming. It was incredible to see stone so clearly altered by humans, hundreds of years ago. And yes, there were lots of jokes about dying of dysentery!

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Even though our campsite was in the path of totality, we wanted to get even closer. We drove to a spot where we would be on the line of perfect totality. That means we would get an extra few seconds with the black hole in the sky. We were also near a bunch of cows, which I was really excited about. I wanted to see how animals reacted to the eclipse. The farm was very large and they were probably scared off by all the people, so I couldn’t really see them but I did hear them mooing!

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I was intent on experiencing the eclipse unencumbered but my partner wanted to photograph the event so I set up a camera and left him to it. I had another camera on a tripod taking video of the cows and the 360 degree sunset. You can watch the whole video below, just excuse the shakiness from when I picked it up to get a glimpse of the eclipse itself.

There is no way to describing the sight of a total solar eclipse, that would do it justice. I had seen so many photos and videos and heard from people who had seen them before and I was completely unprepared. And being near the path of totality, but not in it, is not even close.

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The “diamond ring” shot

As it got closer to 100%, it started getting darker around us, but not quite like the sun was setting. The sky looked hazy, and the sun was still visible, high in the sky. Then the sunset in all directions started to appear and we could hear the cows mooing and crickets chirping. But when it got to 100% totality, I immediately started crying. It was the most incredible sight. We had about two and half minutes of totality, but I don’t think any amount of time would have been enough. As the sun came out from behind the moon, I was able to see the “diamond ring” effect and my partner was able to capture it! I then raced over to the nearest white car to see the “shadow bands,” the snake like shadows from the edge of the sun shining through the moon’s mountains and valleys. And just like that, it was over and we had to head home.

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A composite showing the sun’s corona

The trip home was not quite as easy as the way there. It took us 8 hours to get home. It would have taken 2-3 hours normally. Eventually, we made it back to Colorado and stopped in Fort Collins for some much needed tacos. We already have plans for the next one to go through the U.S., seven years from now!

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Wanna meet me and chat? Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

9/11 Stair Climb | Denver Event Photographer

We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001. I was still young and I remember my 4th grade teacher telling us to sit on the carpet as one by one, my classmates got picked up by their parents. When my mom picked me up, she told me what happened. I could see the Sears Tower from my house and I was convinced that it would be the next target. I was also convinced that it would fall, from 2 miles away, onto our house. I made an emergency plan to hide under the coffee table in the basement. For years, I was scared every time a plane flew by the building. At that age, I wasn’t quite able to process the loss of life or the sacrifices the first responders and others made that day.

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In college, my partner was a volunteer firefighter. Every Friday night, he would be on duty crew, waiting at the station for calls to come in. Even though most of his district was a college campus where the biggest calls were for dumpster fires or alarms because students forgot to put water in their Easy Mac, there was always the slight fear that something worse might happen. That he might not come home that night. That is the reality for so many family members of first responders, especially those in New York City in 2001.

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Each year, around the county, firefighters come together on September 11th and converge on the tallest building in their city. In teams, they climb stairs equal to the number of floors in the World Trade Centers. In Denver, they climb 1801 California St, twice, in order to equal the height of the twin towers. Stations from all over the state were represented. Each one wears the name tag of a firefighter who lost their lives at Ground Zero. Some of them represent the same firefighter each year and maintain a relationship with their families.

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I photographed the ceremony before the climb and then waited on the stairs for teams to come up. Once some of the teams had finished, I went out to the roof, which has some incredible views of the city. My favorite part of the day was when the news crews on the roof interviewed the first woman to finish the climb. I was so moved by how many women were participating. The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is such an important event and I’m so honored I could be a part of it.

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If you have an Denver event coming up, let me know. I would love to be a part of it and document all the most important moments. Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

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Getting in the Frame | Denver Family Photography

This year, I’ve been trying to take professional self portraits of my little family. I actually made it one of my new years resolutions to be in one professional self portrait (meaning I took it with my big girl camera) each month. I failed that goal pretty much immediately. These were the first “pro-selfies” I took of us and they were from Valentine’s Day.

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Each Valentine’s Day, our tradition is to plan out a meal and cook it together. We’ve made pizza from scratch a couple times. One time we just made cookies; I guess we got lazy. This year, we decided to make homemade pasta. We had just bought a hand crank pasta maker and found a great mushroom sauce recipe.

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It turns out past is pretty easy to make! Our meal was delicious and we had a lovely Valentine’s Day together. I learned a few important lessons from this attempt at self portraiture:

  1. I thought I could use my phone as a trigger but the app kept disconnecting from the camera’s wifi, so I used my wireless trigger instead.
  2. My camera kept turning off so I had to set it to never fall asleep. I thought it would die after being on all night but it hardly drained the battery. Win!
  3. Setting the trigger to 2 second timer mode made for more natural, less posed, and less awkward photos. (Notice us holding the trigger in the header and the first photo as opposed to the last two images.)
  4. All the lights in my apartment flicker ever so slightly and in photos, it drives me totally crazy.
  5. Taking self portraits all night makes everything more annoying but also more fun! And the memories are totally worth it.

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Every day is a story. I would love to help you share yours and document all of life’s little moments. Find out more about Storytelling sessions and tell me about your adventure at jamie@jamiekraus.com

Women’s March on Denver | Colorado Photographer

On Saturday, January 21st 2017, I marched on Denver with my brother and two friends. We joined almost 200,000 people, marching through the streets of Denver.

This was probably the most positive, respectful march I’ve ever been to. I saw a woman with a backpack that said First Aid on it. Everyone cheered any time a helicopter flew above us. I drove past the park after the march was over and it was spotless, aside from a few barricades left over. People were asking each other to pose for photos, all along the way. Everyone was kind, respectful, and caring. It felt incredible to be a part of such a big movement and moment in our history.

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The most emotional, inspirational, moving part of the day was that hundreds of thousands of people in other counties, across the world, marched with us and for us. People who will never be directly effected by most of our laws and policies, protested the ones that could hurt people they will never meet, on the other side of the world. Click here to see a great compilation of photos from marches around the world.

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This is absolutely my favorite photo of the day. It was so incredible to see young kids participate in the march. It was especially inspiring to see kids with their own signs and outfits, laughing and smiling and chanting. This supergirl wasn’t just along for the ride. She clearly knows the power of girls!

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I just love the sentiment of this sign. We are the storm!

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The most important thing to take away from this event is that this is the start of a marathon. From here, we move forward, we work harder, we keep fighting.

  • We have to give what we can (time, money, skills, resources) to organizations like the ACLU, CAIR, and Planned Parenthood as well as to candidates running in local elections.
  • Stay vigilant and informed. With the spread of fake news and other lies, it is so important to stay informed, find sources we can trust, fact check, and be skeptical of un-cited information.
  • We need to engage in conversation, even when it’s uncomfortable (especially if it’s uncomfortable), so that we expand our own views and help inform others.
  • We must vote! Midterm elections are in two years. There may be local elections before then. We need to vote any time we get the chance.
  • Write and call your representatives. Voting is not the end of your part in democracy. You still have influence and power to change laws and government policies. When enough people write and call about the same issue, it absolutely can pressure a representative enough to take action. To start, here are the phone numbers for Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. womens-march-denver, denver-social-justice, denver-event-photographer, denver-womens-photographer, denver-womens-march-photos
  • If you can, run for office. There are plenty of small, local government positions across the country that need filling. Many of them don’t even require a huge time commitment, so you can keep your day job.
  • Comment below with your suggestions on how to move forward and make waves.

Interested in working with me? Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

Best of 2016 | Denver Photographer

Wow, 2016. I’m not going to lie and say that 2016 was great. It was a very difficult year, for the world as well as for my personal life. But, of course, there were good parts and some really good parts. And now, it’s over! So let’s celebrate with some photos!

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This is my 2016 photo review. My favorite images from my favorite sessions throughout the year. My business, my work, my clients were consistently positive throughout the year. And for that, I am so grateful. When I was at my lowest, crying alone in an airport, I got an inquiry for a really fun photo shoot that I knew would fuel my soul. It didn’t lessen all the pain, but it did give me something positive to look forward to and something to be grateful for.

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In 2016, I started working more closely with Opera Colorado, taking portraits of the Young Artists, and working with Inside OC. I got to photograph one of my dream dance companies, Streb. I started offering headshot sessions and was able to work with some incredible people one-on-one. I was hired by Naropa University’s Theater Program and photographed three shows for them. I worked with a lot of dancers around the country, making creative portraits together. Perhaps most exciting, I started a new dance project, which will be announced later in 2017!

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Interested in working with me? Send me an email at jamie@jamiekraus.com.

Christmas with Mike | Denver Family Photographer

I hope everyone who celebrates, had a very Merry Christmas and first few nights of Chanukah. I didn’t take too many pictures this year because I wanted to remain present, but here are a few that I did take. 

We celebrate early, in Colorado, by decorating our Christmas tree/Chanukah bush, opening presents and watching the fireplace channel on Netflix with some hot cocoa. 

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We always go back to Mike’s hometown to celebrate with family. We get up early on Christmas morning to open presents in our pajamas. Then we have breakfast and get ready. We spend the afternoon with Mike’s dad and grandparents and then we go to his other grandparents’ house to have a big, family dinner. Mike got a thermal camera for his phone. Just like a little kid, he played with his new toy all day. 

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Every day is a story. I would love to help you share yours and document all of life’s little moments. Find out more about Storytelling sessions and tell me about your adventure at jamie@jamiekraus.com