May Day

For love of light and life. This is why I do what I do. Sometimes, I’m inspired simply by the blooms on a tree, knowing their ephemeral nature. Sometimes, it’s a person, or a glance. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS by beautiful light. But more than that, it is that there is life running through all of this…coursing, breathing, beaming…and this is the true reason to be inspired again and again.

Oh, and Happy May Day! I remember making baskets out of construction paper and filling them with wild flowers, forget-me-nots and daisies, then placing them on our neighbors’ doorsteps, ringing the doorbell and running to our hiding spot to watch their reaction! This day has a very special day in my heart. Have a very wonderful day full of happy, little surprises!

{ ♥ ♥ ♥}


p.s. I also shot some Kodak Portra 400 & Fuji 400H with my medium format camera that I’ll be processing and posting soon!



Synergy in a Styled Shoot


noun, plural syn·er·gies.

1. The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism.

This is the exact definition of what came to pass this weekend…
Melinda Sandberg of Melinda Rose Design, Michelle DesCombaz (hairstylist), our model, Elizabeth, and Janine from Bloomers all worked together to create a styled product shoot to introduce Melinda’s 2013 collection. This is the first full collection of bridal head pieces Melinda has created…it’s something she’s been working on tirelessly for the past six months and it just seemed right to be a part of it…
We had worked together before and I truly loved what we had produced during that shoot back in June. I am beyond inspired by her designs, her passions and her vision!
I was inspired, awakened, beaming from the combination of people, creativity, design, light and location! Working with professionals who care deeply about their craft is a creative’s dream, And “when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements”  It truly was a harmonious synergy! Here is a preview of the Melinda Rose Design 2013 collection “A Vintage Romance”…
I am proud of Melinda for creating the gorgeous collection, which will be fully released on Valentine’s Day 2013 on her Etsy Shop!

Holiday Party Bubbly with a Twist!

I practically live on these babies throughout the holiday season (no, not the drink, silly, the Satsumas)! I LOVE satsuma mandarin oranges and buy boxes (plural) from December 1-the new year. Remember last week’s blog on how to make homemade eggnog? Well, read back and you’ll discover eggnog is part of my holiday diet, and essentially Satsumas are the other half of it. So, I thought why not find a way to drink them as well! Here’s what I came up with!

We’ll be heading to our good friend Dan’s house next week to celebrate his birthday. I’m pretty sure we’ll make a few of these to celebrate!




My Secrets to Putting On a Styled Shoot

A few weeks ago, a group of wedding professionals and I put on a styled shoot. When I set out to do this, it wasn’t because I knew what I was doing. No. That was not it. It wasn’t because I wanted to do something I have done before a hundred times… It wasn’t because it was going to be easy. No. It was precisely because it was going to be hard. Right in the middle of my wedding season, I saw an opportunity to make this happen, and well, I didn’t want it to pass by… Another thing, that I’d just put off until…later. The funny thing was, I wasn’t nervous to do the shoot itself. I wasn’t even nervous about the work involved beforehand in putting it all together. But there was this one thing…it’s the one thing that trips me up in much of what I do…I was terrified to ask.

I couldn’t just ask people to participate?! Could I? But that’s what I did. And that’s my secret to putting on a styled shoot: “Just Ask”. Stunningly simple, right? On its face, that sounds super simple. In reality, putting myself out there, with the knowledge that I might be rejected, is intensely nerve-racking for me. Rejection is probably my number one reason for not doing something. Wow. That sounds silly as I write it. But, I know it to be true for myself. Putting on another styled shoot has been something I’ve been wanting to do since the first one I did before I even began my business. But, that fear of rejection kept me from even contacting other professionals. When the opportunity arose for this latest styled shoot, I guess I just didn’t have the luxury of time to think about what that rejection might feel like. I had to either do or not do. On or off. 1 or 0. So, I did it. I just asked. And, it was like ripping off a bandaid. Once I did it, I realized if it did hurt, it only hurt for a moment. And, surprisingly, it didn’t hurt. So, I did it again, and again. Until I had a team of people together. And guess what? Not ONE person said no. Not one. Even if they had, what is the worst thing that could have happened? I would have asked another person. That’s it! When you put things into perspective, all of that ridiculous fear washes away.

So let’s review: Step 1 (the secret to putting on a styled shoot): Just ask.

Step 2: Have a strong theme in mind. If you, as photographer, are the overall coordinator of the shoot, make sure you have a strong theme and even visual examples of the theme. Often, we use words like, “vintage” or “modern” that mean something to one person, and something completely different to another. So, get specific about the theme in order to get everyone involved on the same page.

Step 3: Get your models set up. The models you use make a huge difference, so make sure you get them squared away right away. And don’t base everything on their looks. Their personality and their vibe make such a huge difference on the day of the shoot.

Step 4: Solidify your location as soon as possible. The location, whether a wedding venue, like the IvyWild (seen below), or in the midst of a forest, make sure that location is set, before moving forward. That involves coordinating with the owners/managers of the venue, or looking into permits and scouting the exact place you’ll be shooting to make sure it is precisely what you need and won’t change drastically from that point to the day you’re shooting (i.e. all of the leaves fall off of the trees and the park maintenance removes them from the ground).

Step 5: Talk with your stylist about what the models will be wearing. Or, if you’re the stylist, begin to pull ideas from your sources (wedding dress stores, like Bella Sera, tux shops, like Mills Brothers, antique shops, online) and make sure these items will be available the day you need them. Also, double-check here that each of the items of clothing, the accessories, and hair pieces all fit the theme you’ve selected.

Step 6: Talk with your coordinator/event stylist about the details of the shoot e.g. any tablescapes being creating, props used, backdrops being made or used, to make sure they fit the theme (like in this styled shoot created by Janine Davis of Bloomers Flowers and Amy Aguigui of Etcetera). And, if you (as the photographer) are the event stylist, again, make sure each of the items you’re looking for are available that day, from the rental house, or store you’re purchasing/renting/borrowing from.

Step 7: Talk with the floral stylist. When describing your needs to your floral stylist, be specific. It is incredible how much the florals can set the mood for the shoot. Make sure you have several conversations with them about which flowers they have in mind to use, or ask them to use specific flowers, if you know you want them to be highlighted in the shoot. For our autumn wedding themed styled shoot, I was really excited about using one of my favorite flowers, dahlias, so I made sure to talk to our floral stylist, Patti Bosket of Au Naturel about using those.

Step 8: If you’re including a cake or other food items in the shoot, begin to ask around about who is doing new and innovative things. Incorporate something that’s never been seen before. This is a great way to liven up a shoot and provides lots of details to shoot! Also, talk to your event stylist to find out if they plan to create a dessert table-scape, or how they envision highlighting the food and dessert.

Step 9: Details details! Again, go back to the theme and think of each of the details that make sense to incorporate into the shoot. That might be a hair piece or veil (like the one below by Melinda Rose Design, jewelry, boutonnieres, paper goods (such a menus, invitations, banners, or even a sweet hand-written note from a bride to a groom), anything that makes the shoot come alive and feel authentic.

Step 10: Be original. In all aspects of the planning all the way through the shoot. Think: original, fresh, new. The idea in doing a styled shoot is to try new things, play, be inspired, so don’t try to copy something you’ve seen…be innovative! Shoot with lenses you don’t normally shoot with, try new angles, new lighting techniques. If you aren’t used to directing your clients, try directing their every move. If you haven’t been one to focus on details, do it! If you are a detail-queen, but aren’t as versed in candid moments, try to look for the real, un-scripted parts of the day. I know I fall short when it comes to this step quite often, so it’s a constant struggle, but it’s worth it to me to at least try.

This, of course, is just the way I do it. But, for me, by following these steps each time, I can see myself learning from the process and moving forward in what I’m trying to achieve with a styled shoot.

As I said in this previous blog post, the most important part of a styled shoot for me, is collaboration. So, if I do nothing else, but bring great people together to work together in a creative environment, I’m happy!

And, if you haven’t put on a styled shoot yet, but have truly wanted to, start with step 1 and I promise it will all happen from there.



Collaboration & Sharing! | Why I love styled shoots…

The collaborative process that is a styled shoot is something I crave. The excitement when ideas are flowing, the rush to get everything finished, the great energy that wonderful people bring to the table just fuels me! This among a few other key ingredients is why I love styled shoots!

Here are the top 3 reasons I do styled shoots:

1) It’s a chance to collaborate! I love working with people! And working with professionals who are just as passionate as I am about creating wedding-related pretties just puts it over the top for me! From the very first phone call discussing the ideas in my head and hearing their wisdom and contributions, to the last push the day of to get all your ducks in a row, to actually photographing all of the gorgeous details brought together by everyone, collaboration is the top priority for me.

2) Sharing is caring. Second only to collaboration on a styled shoot is sharing. One thing I tell the vendors involved in the shoot is that the images I create are just as much theirs as they are mine. Because they put in so much time and talent into the work (for free!) I make sure the vendors receive all of the images I take free from watermark, so they can use the images however they’d like for marketing purposes. Some argue that the images should have your logo on it, but I’ve taken what I believe to be good advice, from Justin and Mary Marantz, and believe that if vendors are elated with the work we’ve done together, they will happily share my name with people and potential clients. And if you’re not convinced, see point #1 again.

3) To spread the word. Whether the images are used solely for vendor’s marketing purposes, or if they go on to be published on blogs or in magazines, the end goal, for me, is to get the word out about all of our businesses. And going back to reason #2, I believe that sharing the work that I do with others, will get people excited about my business and will talk about it. And, in my opinion, a word-of-mouth referral is by far the best you can get! Of course, having your work published is a wonderful way to spread the word farther and possibly faster, so it’s a goal that stays top of mind throughout the entire process!

Yesterday, I photographed a styled shoot, which I will share with you after it’s published. But, because I just can’t help myself, here’s a little look at our gorgeous bride…

Isn’t the bouquet simply stunning (Patti, your work amazes me every. single. time!)

A very special thank you to my collaborators (and now friends) who made this amazing shoot happen!

Beecher Hill House
Libby Harrison of Sweet Bliss Events
Patti Bosket of Au Naturel
All Seasons Events
Michelle Bainard DesCombaz (hairstylist)
Autumn Miller (makeup)
Bella Sera
Mills Brothers
The NCW Dahlia Society
Anjou Bakery
Mission Street Bistro
Models: Kristen, Erica, Luke and Avery!

p.s. In the coming weeks I will tell you how to put together your own styled shoot (including the number 1 tip that is so simple, you won’t believe it)!