The heart and the mission behind ONCE WEST

a new brand with a long history

HELLO!!!  Thank you for being here!  Whether you’re a bride or a groom, a mom or a dad, a photographer or a wedding planner…if you’re looking for something different than the tiresome perfection that has taken over social media, than you’ve come to the right place. While this is the first post here on ONCE WEST, this is actually my 1,007th post (seriously) since beginning my career as a photographer back in 2004.

It’s been 15 years since my husband, Mark, and I started IN Photography, a business that we ran together up until 2017.  We specialized in photographing destination weddings throughout the Rocky Mountains for those 13 years until we began to crave a change.  That craving led to a year traveling the Mountain West, living and working from a 100 square foot RV, while we searched our souls for what was next.  A new state, new career, new lifestyle…we weren’t sure what we were looking for but we got a little bit of everything.

We ended up settling down in Idaho (though I still spend much of my time in Colorado) where Mark would hang up his hat as a professional photographer in exchange for becoming a professional pilot.  In that time, I would learn that being a photographer is a large part of who I am and I didn’t want that to change.  But I was still having to confront the fact that trying to keep up with everything the wedding industry and social media has become had worn me down.  Something had to change in order to bring meaning back to my job.

So I spent the better part of 2019 redefining my identity as a wedding photographer.  I came out the other side with a mission to solely create photographs that matter to the people they are given to, rather than photographs that “perform” well on social media.  

While searching my soul for a new perspective I was reminded that life is fleeting.  Photographs are meant to grow old with us, to give us comfort in times of difficulty, to show us how loved we are and how beautiful life can be regardless of how flawed and complicated it gets.  At least those are the photographs I want to give.  I’ve learned that creating for the sake of likes is an unfulfilling mission.


With that, I decided to close the doors on IN Photography.  A business that was good to us for nearly 15 years but didn’t have a clear mission.  It was time to start fresh with a brand that would keep me focused on the only thing that mattered…the people that step in front of my camera and trust me with their memories.  ONCE WEST was created with one simple mission at it’s core:  to capture the fleeting moments that happen once but want to be remembered always.  I went as far as deleting my business account on Instagram so that I could focus all of my energy on honoring my clients in the most honest and authentic way possible.  It turned out to be the most liberating decision I made all year.

Now I’m here, publishing the first post on this brand new blog.  Ready to share stories, in photos and in words, of the beautiful families and couples that give me the privilege of documenting their lives.  In short, I am a photographer that splits my time between Idaho and Colorado.  I specialize in mountain weddings and at-home documentary-style family sessions.  When I’m not working I’m usually flying with my husband, Mark, in our two-seater bush plane or camping in our Four Wheel truck camper somewhere around the Mountain West.


These stories of celebration, history, family, legacy and adventure are what I can’t wait to share and hope you enjoy reading here on the ONCE WEST blog.



Hi there!  I’m Michele, a Colorado wedding photographer.  I’m here to give you authentic, joy-filled photographs capturing the moments that happen once but want to be remembered always.  When I’m not working you’re most likely to find me camping or flying with my husband (and bff) somewhere around the Mountain West.


Your wedding photographs should not contain my fingerprints.   My role is to see life through your eyes, not mine.  To witness and preserve, not stage and manipulate.  I want to give you photographs that will bring you joy for a lifetime.