So FIRST, did you know we launched a new YouTube channel? We did! It’s called Engaged In Arizona. January 31st, our first video went live and I’m working hard at building up our library of videos to be a resource for couples here in AZ who are planning their wedding. If you are amazing and want to help me out, I need subscribers! YouTube will only let me grow if I have subscribers so click here and hit subscribe!

Shortly after launching this project, I had the idea to produce enamel pins. If you don’t know, I’m a total enamel pin enthusiast. I have at least 20 in my collection of camera pins, Hamilton pins, a pin from the KeSha concert, a pin from our trip to Washington, a cactus pin, and NOW…a pin for Engaged In Arizona!

A lot of people have been asking about the process so I am happy to share each step with you!

  1. The concept. I put together this super rough concept and let it sit on my computer for weeks. Was I supposed to hire a Pin designer to make a real mockup of this to send to a producer? And how much was that going to cost? Google was giving me little help as I searched for “Enamel Pin Designer” and I was embarrassed to take this to any pin producer. One day I was clicking around The Studio’s site and a chat popped up. I decided to ask if they had any pin designers they could recommend. They asked to see my design and I sent them this image. They said their designers would make it look awesome from there once I paid for an order. Elated, I paid for 100 pins ($267) and waited for the design to come through.
    Enamel Pin Design Process
  2. That night I got my first mockup and I was thrilled. The design was absolutely adorable and I was so excited to see them in real life! I realized the line however looked like it was going through the word engaged and looked a little like a strike through, so I asked for a revision to move the line down.
    Enamel Pin Design Process
  3. The next image was what they sent back and I approved the design.

Enamel Pin Design Process

4. Then they sent my first sample image. This is what it would actually look like. I got super scared because the background colors look like off white and beige while I wanted white and pink. Also, the line though the D looked weird to me so I sent back at request to have those things fixed.

Enamel Pin Design Process

5. This was the final sample I approved. I was still really nervous because the lower part still looks beige to me and the edges showed bleeding – especially along that lower line. After I received this last sample photo, I still had to wait a month to get them in the mail.

Enamel Pin Design Process

6. Then they came! And I love them! Each one is absolutely perfect, clean lines, beautiful colors, the whole thing!

Enamel Pin Design Process

7. I ordered some quick and easy cards from VistaPrint and voila!

Want one? You can get one by clicking right here

If you’re an AZ wedding pro and want these as gifts for your couples, contact me for wholesale options!

If you’re looking to produce your own enamel pins, check out both The Studio and Made by Cooper. Both are awesome options that people have had great success with!

Denise Karis is an Arizona wedding photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

Strong is the new pretty notebooks

Something happened over the last few nights of Netflix and I wanted to share it with you here.

Raffi has been allowing me to share my love of musicals with him by watching several movie musicals with me. In an effort to get him up to speed with all the musical references that fly around our house every day, we have now watched Hairspray, Chicago, The Greatest Showman, Little Shop, Moulin Rouge, Into the Woods, and most recently, Les Miserables. I saved Les Mis for a later date since it’s more intense, while Hairspray might have been a better starter musical. Trust me, I’ve put a lot of thought into getting people into musicals.

Les Miserables has one of my all time favorite characters in a musical and her name is Eponine. I started listening to this musical when I was three years old (no joke) and I loved Eponine because I was a dramatic child and Eponine was the unloved ingenue. Not only was she a great character, but she also got to belt out some awesome songs through the show. In Junior High I used to sit in my bedroom and sing On My Own with all the emotion my little thirteen year old heart could muster. And my thirteen year old heart could muster A LOT of emotion.

About halfway through watching the movie Les Mis, I turned to Raffi and said “Taylor Swift was almost going to play the role of Eponine.” Fun movie fact, right?

But then I thought about it. I thought about Samantha Barks (the girl who landed the role of Eponine). I thought about her showing up to audition and hearing that Taylor Swift, the Queen of everything, was also going out for the role. I’d imagine she assumed Taylor would get the role. I mean, why wouldn’t she?? It’s Taylor Swift! So Samantha auditions…the slays it…and still believes TS will get it because…well…it’s TS…and days later, she gets the call that they’ve casted her. Can you imagine that feeling?

I mean, I don’t know the reason Taylor Swift didn’t land the role or how the actual events unfolded … maybe Taylor decided she didn’t want it. Maybe it wasn’t in the budget. Maybe the producers thought it would take away from the reality of the movie. Whatever the reason, most hopeful Eponines would have not even tried once they saw Taylor Swift was also going out for the role… and yet Samantha did, AND ended up getting it.

A few days later, we turned on the Reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix, low key hoping we might see ourselves screaming in the audience. About twenty minutes in, Taylor introduced her backup dancers & singers… and I noticed, they were not all size two gymnasts with perfect wavy hair, long legs and big boobs. They looked like you, they looked like me. They were REAL, amazing, talented, gorgeous women. And my thoughts went back to Samantha & Taylor. Can you imagine being a hopeful Taylor Swift backup dancer, Standing in line to audition and thinking, “I won’t get it. Look at all these perfect dancers. My thighs touch, I don’t have a six pack, they won’t like my tattoos,¬† they won’t like my nose ring, these other girls are all super hot professional dancers,” and then, nose rings, tattoos, and curvy booty, THEY LANDED THE GIG.

Inspired to show up

Way too often I think, “I won’t go visit that venue because they already have [this or that] superstar photographer on their vendor list, I don’t have a shot in hell.” But what if they’re not looking for Taylor Swift?
What if they’re not looking for the sexiest backup dancer?
What if they’re looking for real?
What if they’re looking for new?
What if they’re looking for different?
What if they’re looking for exactly you? Or exactly me? And I’m not there. Because I didn’t have the guts to show up and try because the fact that Taylor Swift was also up for the role scared me away.

Does this resonate with you? Have you felt these exact same things? Believing you’re out of your league when you’re actually hands down, exactly, perfectly what the world needs?

So do me a favor. Get out a notebook and write down ten goals that make you nervous AF. Write down the ten things you’d totally do if you didn’t think someone bigger than you wanted it too. Then go after them without thinking about what people will think or say or whisper. Without thinking about the Taylor’s of the world who are also going after it. The time for the unknown with the nose ring has come….we just have to show up.

For more on goal setting and making stuff happen, check out day 80 in my 100 day series right here!

Denise Karis is an Arizona wedding photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

These are roads I’ve never walked before. I feel like I keep stopping to look around and ask myself “Is this the right way? You’re not too far, you can turn back. Is this normal? Are you staying true to yourself? Are you walking a path that’s going to lead you to fulfillment and happiness and serve others on the way?”

It’s a lonely road, there aren’t many people here, and I’m learning why. In the meantime, I am depending on my own self and my own knowledge to lead the way. And it feels incredibly dangerous.

Yesterday I was reading my notes from Showit United, a photography conference here in Arizona and circled ten times, written in all caps was a line from Ben Hartley’s keynote that said:

Most meaningful things are dangerous.

I remember sitting in the audience in complete awe that someone could stand up on a stage in front of 400 of their peers and shed their skin. To stand there and say “Here’s where I fall short. Here’s my ugly truth. Here are the things I hate most about myself.” That IS dangerous! He had no safeguard, no guarantee people wouldn’t respond poorly … but it was meaningful. Because it’s what’s going to get me through to month six.

In month one, I learned that everything is a trade off
Month two I learned I am more than what I thought I was
Month three I learned that my legs are sore
Month four I learned that it’s 100 little things
And month five, I learned the importance of having a strong Why.

Have we all hopped on that bandwagon yet?

About ten years ago, Simon Sinek gave a Ted Talk that became one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time. He outlined the importance of defining your “Why.” Why do you do what you do? What’s the underlying purpose? That when you’re building a business, potential customers and followers won’t buy into what you do, rather they will buy why you do it. That making your beliefs known and acting in a way that reflects those beliefs is what truly builds a lasting brand.

So you create a Why and people tell you “You’re going to need a strong WHY statement for those times when you face adversity in your business. It is what will keep you going.” And you think “Yeah, okay, cool” and then one day, maybe, I don’t know, in month five, it all makes sense.

Because this IS dangerous. When you decide to be a full time artist, you understand the term “Starving Artist” didn’t stem from nothing. You understand you will be putting a piece of your heart, your blood, your sweat, your tears, and your creative soul out there for judgment. You accept not everyone will love you. And sometimes, you learn that people might even believe the worst of you.

On this road, I’ve felt scrutinized, misunderstood, and judged. I’ve also felt accepted, loved and appreciated. But somehow, those negative experiences carry more weight and are brought to the forefront of my mind…. somehow they cast a shadow on the good, even if they are outnumbered 100 to 1. So I pause, I look around the road I’m on and I think “Is this the right way? You’re not too far, you can turn back. Is this normal? Are you staying true to yourself? Are you walking a path that’s going to lead you to fulfillment and happiness and serve others along the way?”

As if it were a lifeline, I ripped through my box of half written journals and notebooks in search of my Why statement. I wanted to see it, written in my own handwriting from a time that my feet were firmly planted.

“To create beautiful windows into the past to as proof of all the love that exists in the world.
To give to people something I don’t have and desperately want.
I believe photos are one of the few things we ever own that can achieve a priceless status.
I believe every love story deserves to be told.”

So when I pause on this road, when I look around, when I doubt, when I wonder if the people who think the worst of me are right, I can read this statement. And if it’s still true for me, I keep going.

Having said all that, you will definitely see me for month six!

Denise Karis is an Arizona wedding photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris

Going full time Month 5 Denise Karis Photography Blog