Gardella & Granduca Hotel Austin Wedding

You know how sometimes you meet the perfect people at the perfect time and they are just the most magnificent puzzle pieces that fit perfectly in your life? Yup. That's what happened when the Hotel Granduca, Austin, came into my world. I love every single thing about them, from their timeless design to their impeccable service; and at the heart of everything they create, no matter how huge, is a love for family that is unparalleled. I'm smitten.  

I am so honored to have worked with this gorgeous wedding team on a few campaigns already, and I cannot wait for what lies ahead! 

Here are a few favorites from our Spring/Summer Austin wedding collaboration. 


Makeup and Hair: Ashley for Belle Marie  (who used a needle and thread to sew her braids!!)

Flowers: Posey Floral 

Dress: Jenny Peckham from Joan Pillow Bridal 

Artifact Uprising + River Story™

I am often asked about my experience with Artifact Uprising and River Story™, so I thought I'd take a few moments to share, from my heart, how I see the whole experience now that time has passed. 

I remember when I was first coming up with the idea for the Kickstarter and felt absolutely terrified. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find another book that featured a single photographic series interwoven with the intensely vulnerable inner-workings of the photographer herself. I’d drive from bookstore to bookstore, and soon realized, it is almost impossible to just find a female photographer’s voice in the vast ocean of male titles on the art shelves, let alone a specific pocket of specialization. I remember one particular afternoon, sitting cross legged on the floor, feverishly, and tearfully, texting a friend, “In this entire giant store, there are only two, TWO books featuring women photographers. And one is a bunch of babies with cabbages on their heads shoved into watering cans. And the other is, of course, Sally Mann.”

Day after day I was riddled with doubt. There were no guideposts, no previous mistakes to learn from, no women I could roadtrip to and politely ask for advice over tea in a local dusty cafe. The traditional publishing world, with it’s fierce boy’s club aphorisms, was not an option for my prose, and yet I knew this was something I needed to do. So, I set off in my little camper, a ship immediately lost at sea with not a lighthouse in sight, determined to find my way (spoiler alert: I am still finding my way).

Early in the planning stages, a small startup company called Artifact Uprising crossed my path and after a few phone calls with the sister owners, I soon realized it was a match made in heaven. Through the many, many months (years!) of working together, Artifact became the force that both kept me rooted to my goals, and also, in even the stormiest of times when it seemed all was destined to be reduced to nothing more than a pile of splinters, remained steadfast in their support. If my husband and children served as my compass throughout this entire process, it can be argued that Artifact Uprising was my anchor.

I am always super hesitant to offer too much praise at the risk of sounding like an after-bedtime infomercial, but the truth is what it is. I am a relatively unknown, opinionated, unapologetic female photographer and writer. And while I, and my work, may not fit the mold of the artists they typically feature and celebrate, these unavoidable truths are what made Artifact Uprising such a welcome piece of the River Story puzzle.

They have created a magical space of “and” that allows for creative freedom like few others. I could photograph and write. I could publish and have creative control. I could be my ridiculous, unabbreviated self and be taken seriously.

And that’s sort of what River Story has always celebrated. The center of the pendulum swing. A resting place where I, they, we, can be stripped of the rules and expectations so heavily placed on women, and just sink into the unwavering nucleus of it all. That is where empowerment, and radiance, and courage truly reside. Harvard scholars and bankers and zealots and hippies and gay and old and lost and found. It doesn’t matter. And that’s the point.

I mean really it all comes down to this: every woman deserves to feel whole and the entirety that I was seeking I couldn't find so I created it, and Artifact Uprising granted me the permission and outlet to do so. I didn't invent water images. I didn't invent flower crowns. I didn't invent any of it. All I did was grant myself permission to make a list of what made me, Michelle, feel the most beautifully undiluted, and then I put those elements together and waited to see if other women felt it, too. It turns out, I'm not alone. Which has been the most comforting awareness. It turns out, there are other women who feel their strongest, most confident selves with muddy feet, sweaty brows, and hair tangled with wild ferns and flowers. And, it turns out, there are other women who feel their own internal, primal divinity rise up when then sink down into life-giving river waters.

So if this book stands for nothing else, my hope is that it stands as evidence. Evidence that us wild hearted, sure footed women are not alone, and we, with our diverse and hopelessly gorgeous and complex narratives, do not have to remain silent and suppressed any longer.

There is always a way when we follow our most divine callings. Always. And while the process isn't always easy, if you stand true to what is good and fair and honest, in the end, it will be so gorgeously worth it. 

To order a copy of River Story™ click here

Alana + Max // A Wedding Day Preview

July 18th... I sometimes wonder what each of them were doing on this day for all of their lives up until this point. Did they know? Did something inside of them feel brighter? For all those years, I choose to believe that part of their hearts told them, even in the faintest whisper, that, someday, this day would be theirs...

A 3-shot preview of yesterday's wedding, as captured by Thomas Gardella:

A Few Kind Words

I am often asked why I am not on certain wedding websites that harvest reviews from previous couples and then offer up "rewards" based on how many people signed on to pat you on the internet back. My reply is pretty simple, and honest.  

It feels cheap. It feels like something a car dealership would do. And at the end of the day, like a little old lady, I am convinced that these sites really just want your client's information so they can contact them with ads and other promotional nonsense. 

The relationships I forge with my couples isn't something you can assign digital stars to. I'm not an umbrella you got on sale at, I am a human being with a beating heart who takes photographs with the eyes of someone who loves, like really actually loves, your story. 

I never feel like I am missing out by not participating in the "rate-me!" game because my cup is filled with each in-person giant hug or handwritten thank you note. And I like to believe that the couples who find me, and choose me to capture their wedding day, are from my same tribe and aren't really into that whole industry machine, either.  

OK, I say all of this, and then, AND THEN, Laura Max Rose shows up today and leaves my eyes filled with happy tears and my heart just glowing. Because, it turns out, having someone you photographed shower you with love, publicly, and in such a genuine and heartfelt way, is a whole different kind of beautiful magic. 

I love my couples. Every single one of them. And this gift Laura has given me, means the world:

A blog post by Laura Max Rose about what it was like working with Michelle Gardella, Photographer. 

A blog post by Laura Max Rose about what it was like working with Michelle Gardella, Photographer.