This was 2019

It’s a little late, but here’s my annual blog of my favorite photos from 2019. Bits from weddings, engagement sessions, family sessions, my own kiddos and family and of course, storms.

Hope you enjoy this look back!

The Arreola family & newborn session

Gosh I loved this session so much. The photos came out so beautiful and warm and full of love. Hope you enjoy.

Charmaine & Richard’s maternity at the Salt River

I don’t do a ton of maternity sessions, but I wish I did more! Thoroughly enjoyed hanging with Charmaine and Richard back in the fall!

This was 2018

One of my annual traditions around these parts is to post a nice recap of the year in photos. They range from road trips with friends,  family pics, wedding, photoshoots and of course, storm images. It felt like a different year overall, a little more subdued, with spring chasing offering slightly less excitement this time around and a couple less weddings. But wow it was a blast of a year regardless!

The year kicked off at a little shoot with a former bride and groom from Australia and their new baby girl, and then I was off on a road trip with Jay, Jason and Andrew to Death Valley and the eastern Sierras. From there it was wedding season, then storm chasing on the plains, followed by epic haboob and lightning action across Arizona during the monsoon, and finally fall weddings and family portraits. Toss in some wonderful family moments, it was a year to remember.

It also marked my fourth year as a full-time photographer and it keeps getting better and better. I still feel incredibly blessed that I get to do this everyday.

Hope you enjoy this look back at some of my favorite images, including at least a photo from almost every wedding and family session!

The Shell Family

Just over a month ago I did a photoshoot for the Shell family. I know Emma and Brian from their wedding years ago and then a couple of family shoots since then. Very special people to me, such a beautiful family.

The purpose of the shoot was to get the entire family together to capture some memories, especially with Heather, who had gotten real sick and was going through chemo. At the time of the shoot they had gotten some bad news that the cancer had spread more than they had thought it would.

I am just so devastated to hear that Heather passed away peacefully with her family yesterday. To meet someone so beautiful, so happy and funny, and to watch her enjoy being with her family, her niece and nephew…and then a month later to be gone. I have no words for this. Shoots like this remind me of how important photography can be to people who lose loved ones. I’m honored to have been able to be with the Shell family for a bit and capture some moments.

If anyone has anything extra, they are trying to raise money to help pay for her medical costs. Give it a thought if you have a moment.

https://www.gofundme.com/healing-fund-for-heather

The Helman Family

Love this family!

The Pratcher Family

This family just had another baby and I realized I never did share this beautiful portrait session from a few years ago!

The Stewart family

I photographed Jessica and Mason’s wedding FIVE years ago. It was hard to believe when they reminded me! So good to see them and their little boy, we had a blast hanging out again!

This was 2016

This past year took me all over. A road trip to Utah and Colorado for our annual Lost//Discovered adventure. Weddings in Montana, Buffalo and Las Vegas. Engagement sessions in California, Sedona, Tucson, the Mogollon Rim, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Storm chasing in the spring across nine different states while driving 25,000+ miles. Seeing a dozen or so tornadoes, including the first time capturing one in 8K. Then chasing storms and haboobs all over Arizona this summer with a couple film crews.

I also won an Emmy in October, which I need to write about at some point on this blog.  I photographed 31 weddings, 41 family/engagement sessions, ran a tornado tour and a monsoon workshop. I put about 50,000 new miles on the 4Runner.

There is no way around it: 2016 was everything I hoped it would be. Thrilling, exciting, daunting, fulfilling and yes, completely exhausting. The end of the year has been great for me to take a break, reflect and refresh. Going over these images has been therapeutic. When you see your entire year laid out like it is below…well for me, it’s emotional. You see all the work you did, the smiles, the laughs, the love, the tough times, the storms, my kids, the moments and the celebrations.

Hope you enjoy this look back! This was hard to narrow down and painful to leave things out. But I tried to keep it “tight” as much as possible haha. It begins on New Year’s Eve just a 1/4 from my house at a blast of a wedding and ends with a treasured photo of my three kids with our amazing nanny Emma who will soon be leaving us for school full-time.

I included the three films I made as well!

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Zion by Moonlight

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The Million Dollar Highway in Colorado has some sharp drop-offs and incredible scenery, plus this amazing switchback. I spotted it on Google Maps a few days prior and was hoping it would look amazing from the air...and I think it was better than I imagined.

A final bit of light hits Shiprock in New Mexico as the sun sets on a chilly day.

Lost//Discovered: The Other Side from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

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Sometimes I wish I could just stand and watch a storm like this and not rush around trying to capture it with a million cameras. To just be in awe of God's majesty and creation without agenda. Sometimes I forget that's where my love of storms began. Being there and watching.

A beautiful, sculpted supercell roams the plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

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A powerful, EF4 tornado spins through the small rural community of Katie, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

A powerful, EF4 tornado spins through the small rural community of Katie, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

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The stunning Wynnewood/Katie tornado eventually roped out as it crossed Interstate 35 in Oklahoma.

A mile-wide wedge tornado hangs out in the dark area beyond the trees as it slowly moves towards the town of Sulphur, Oklahoma.

A beautiful, elephant trunk tornado touches down near Connorville, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016

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A tornado developed in the rain of this supercell and slowly emerged as it moved in the completely opposite direction from the storm itself.

A shelf cloud passed over minutes before, leaving in its wake low hanging clouds that looked as if you were staring up at a crashing wave in the ocean.

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A shelf cloud slowly rolled over our position at Leoti, Kansas, revealing a gorgous sunset shining through the rain and lightning on May 30th, 2016

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This gorgeously structure supercell churned over the dusty farmlands southeast of Lamesa, Texas on May 31st, 2016

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A lighting bolt pierces the cloud decks as it slams into the ground southeast of Lamesa, Texas on May 31st, 2016

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A gorgeous supercell hovers over the farmlands near Ackerly, Texas

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A gorgeous supercell slowly moves over the farmlands of Texas near the town of Ackerly.

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An isolated supercell south of Paducah, Texas, explodes upwards in an eruption of cumulus.

A bolt of lightning escapes an isolated storm south of Paducah, Texas

A supercell slowly dies out as it approaches Benjamin, Texas on June 14th

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A powerful downburst of rain dumps over the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction, creating strong outflow winds that kick up tons of dust, lowering visibility to zero at times.

A lightning bolt lands in the Four Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Phoenix, seeming to fork into two directions at the last minute as it strikes the side of a mountain.

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A gorgeous couple of lightning strikes hit the Sand Tank Mountains just after sunset on July 1st, 2016

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