Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday Feature: Shari + Mike Photographers

Today is the last feature of our photography week. It's been so fun getting to know each of these photographers in a new light then I already did, and learning a little more of their history. Even for as long as I've know each of them, I myself, have gained more insight into how each of them came into their dream of being a photographer.

Today's photographer, and sadly our last, has a special place in my heart, as this is the photographer that captured the most important day of my life…the day I married my best friend.

I  met Shari and Mike Vallely (although at that time, they were not married yet) just over 9 years ago at Eagles Nest Ranch, just outside of Medicine Hat. My first memories of Shari were of a quiet individual with a sweet and sincere countenance, who was down to earth and very easy to like. She also has a hidden crazy side that bubbles to the surface, now and then, and if you're fortunate enough to see this side, it is quite a delight. Wherever Shari went, there went her camera as well, always at hand, taking pictures around camp of the campers and staff. I liked Shari from the very beginning and I'm so glad that we became friends over the years. Likewise, Mike was equally easy to like. With his bold personality and excited energy, you find yourself equally so, when around him. He's a talented break dancer and all around really nice guy. Shari and Mike compliment each other perfectly and when you meet them, you see why they fell in love. It was so meant to be. :)

I've watched Shari's photography grow from impressive to amazing to extraordinary, and saw her make the jump from a mere hobby to professional and, it seemed, become a sensation overnight. I was so excited when my husband and I booked Shari (as at that time it was still just Shari doing the photography) to be our wedding photographer, because I knew she would understand our theme, vision  and our personalities and shoot in a way that would encapsulate those very ideas through pictures that we could treasure for a lifetime. Shari would capture the magic, preserving the moments and bringing to life the memories of that special day, with every glance. I couldn't have been more right! :) Not only did Shari blow me away with her ideas and creativity, but her ability to re-tell the story of our wedding day through the photos she took, was amazingly mind-boggling. To this day, I never tire of going through our album.

Here's a smattering from our wedding. I had a hard time choosing just a few, but I did narrow this down from a LOT more. Shari did such an amazing job at capturing our perfect day, almost exactly 3 years ago to the day :)

And of course, clients now have the pleasure of having both Shari and Mike document their special moments, together. They are the perfect mix of fun, relaxed, and energetic, and maybe even a bit crazy (good crazy of course :) ) and those traits rub off while they shoot, to relax you, get you excited and allow you to have fun and be a bit crazy, while getting your picture taken.

It took a bit to get to this place in their photography, however. Shari recalls "I remember falling in love with photography during a family trip, 11 years ago. My dad let me experiment with his old canon camera + I remember the anticipation I felt while I waited for the images to be developed. That was it. I was hooked."

That Christmas, Shari's parents bought her her very own film camera. That camera would find a permanent place at Shari's side and she was rarely parted from it.

"I took several classes and workshops to learn as much as I could about photography, and shot my first wedding in 2003. I never imagined, back then, that my love for photography would have ever gotten me to the place I am now. If you would have asked me, 10 years ago, what I wanted to do with my life, although deep down I would have wanted to say photography, it just didn't seem possible."

So instead of pursing the dream of photography, Shari pursued another career path, but still continued to shoot a handful of weddings each year and also several portrait sessions.

"I think a huge turning point for me was moving to Vancouver, three and a half years ago. I remember sitting at my job, feeling unsatisfied with what I was doing. I called my mom and I remember her asking me the question, "What do you really want to do?" And for the first time I didn't let fear dictate my answer. Without reservation, I blurted out "Photography" and wow, how that moment has shifted my life."

From that point on for Shari, it was all about pursuing an 11 year dream and turning a passion into a full-time career.

"By nature, I am not a risk taker, but going after something you are passionate about, it's definitely worth every fear, every 14 hour day, every let down, and uncertainty."

And if you're wondering where the "+ Mike" in Shari + Mike Photographers fits into the story, well that started 6 years ago.

Shari continues… "When Mike and I got married, he started to come to weddings with me. His job of "bag carrier + kid entertainer" quickly changed to photographer after I handed a camera to him at a wedding and said "shoot". He had a natural eye, so I knew that if I taught him the technical side, he could be a second pair of eyes at weddings."

"When I had my epiphany, three and a half years ago, we made the decision together that this is what we were going to pursue. Mike got a new job to support us as I stepped out + started to build the business. Last October, we rebranded and decided that a name change was just what we needed to take our business to the next level. And we are so glad that we did.

We have a quote on our wall that says "Live What You Love" and we can honestly say that we are doing that. We get to build OUR business together, meet rad people, and use our cameras as a tool to inspire + tell peoples stories."

"We always say that we are people photographers. Although we love old buildings and wide open spaces, we love them even more when we can add an adorable family or a beautiful couple to these settings."

"We have had many highlights over this crazy journey. Traveling to Africa + getting to capture a culture really ignited something on the inside of me. I don't know what the future holds, but getting to merge three of my most favourite things (people, travel, photography) would be my ultimate dream.

I fell in love with the people of Nigeria and I am so proud of the images I captured on that trip. I was even more proud when one of the images won 5th place in the People category of PhotoLifes Magazine's Images of the Year." Way to go Shari!!!! "I always dreamed of having my photos in magazines + it was surreal the first time I opened the magazine and saw my photo. I hope I get to experience that more in the years to come."

I can say, with all certainty, you WILL see Shari + Mike Photography's photos in various media, and we'll watch it expand across the world over. I totally believe this, from the bottom of my heart.

For more information, please visit Shari + Mike's website/portfolio at
You can contact them via this website by filling out the form in the "contact" section.

Or, you can email Shari + Mike Photographers directly for more information concerning packages, pricing etc at

Check out Shari + Mike Photographers facebook page and "like" them here

Shari + Mike Photographers also have a fantastic blog that you can take a look at.
Go to to visit it today!

Shari + Mike Photographers are a great couple to have capture your day, whether wedding, family, baby etc. You're sure to be pleased with the ensuing results. Book today to ensure your date!

And finally, for my Growing Green readers, your incentive of the day!

Book a session with Shari + Mike Photographers and use the PROMO CODE: shmike and receive a free 11x14 Print with your session. This PROMO CODE expires March 29th, 2013, so book soon! Your session date can be scheduled for anytime, the session just needs to be booked before the expiry date in order to use the promo code.

I hope you've enjoyed this week of celebrating photography with me. It's been fun taking a look at 6 different photographers across Western Canada and I hope that you have loved looking at their photos and reading their stories of journeying to their dream of photography.

Next week we resume to normal, Monday features only. My family will be appreciative of this, I'm sure, as this past week has been filled with hours and hours in front of my computer, in order to bring you these features on time. It's been an absolute delight though.

Monday's feature hint: goodies wrapped up in style :)

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