One question I get a lot from friends and family who are just getting their feet wet in the world of digital photography is “What kind of camera do you suggest??”. The truth is, most entry level camera are pretty similar and most of them do everything (and more) that the average person will need them to do. One thing you’ll learn as you get more and more into photography is, it’s less about the camera you choose and more about how you use it. My first DSLR was a $200 used Canon Rebel XT that I bought off of Craigslist. I made great images with that camera, so I definitely believe as long as you have a camera that can shoot in manual, you can do amazing things with it! I actually recommend to my friends and family that they focus more on the glass (lenses) they invest in as opposed to the camera body itself.

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First of all, for the most part, I would recommend everybody who’s interested in taking better pictures with their DSLR run out and get a prime lens. The nifty fifty (the Canon 50 1.8) is an amazing choice! At right around $100 it’s very affordable and it will change your images and the way that you shoot. I got this lens with Christmas money the same year I bought my DSLR and it opened up new doors for me!

Why is this lens better than the lens that comes with the camera? The simple answer is, it lets in a lot more light, so you are able to shoot in lower light situations. It also allows you to open up your aperture and get a nice depth of field (the blurry part in the backgrounds of photos).  This is a lot more difficult to accomplish with the lens that comes with the camera. As photographers we know that the lenses are much more important than the camera body itself. Camera bodies essentially all do similar things, so the differences for the types of photography you’re looking to do for most amateur photogs is not much.

Here are a few of my old images shot on my Canon Rebel with the nifty fifty!

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With this lens you can experiment with shooting techniques and get effects that are much more difficult to achieve with the kit lens. I DEFINITELY suggest this lens to anyone who’s a budding photog!! If you’re interested in learning more about digital photography basics and also about how I use my 50mm lens (and even playing with one, if you shoot with a Canon camera!), make sure you sign up for Photography 101! It’s a class geared towards anyone who’s interested in learning how to take better photographs with their DSLR by me, a full time, working wedding photog! This is great for bloggers, wedding pros, moms who want to take better pictures of their little ones, people who want to take better travel pictures, dog pictures, cat pictures, food pictures, etc, or anyone else who has an active interest in photography who’d like to learn more about how to use their DSLR! I have two seats left and I’d love to meet two more awesome people on December 6th! Go here to register or find out more info!

 

About a month ago, one of our 2012 couples, Gary and Holly celebrated their second anniversary, and Gary surprised Holly by ordering a custom wedding album from us! I thought that was just the sweetest surprise! I worked with Align Album Design on this one (my first time trying them!) and they really created a beautiful story of Gary and Holly’s wedding day! I was so pleased with how it came out, I wanted to share it with you guys

Here’s a peek at it! It’s another black leather book and it’s so, SO incredible to look at in person! It makes me so happy to know that Gary and Holly will have this to share with future generations. Albums are really about creating a legacy and this one hopefully does that really well!

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Double header weekends can be crazy, but I think the key to doing them is making sure you really connect with the couple who’s getting married on the second day.  I do my best work and enjoy myself most with our couples we connect super well with, so when we booked a double wedding weekend for the weekend of Matt and Claire’s wedding, I knew it was going to be great! These two are not only wonderful and extremely likable (as evidenced by all of the guests who came to celebrate with them!), they’re so much fun to be around, and they literally were up for anything I asked picture wise. I loved working with them on portraits because I’d ask them things like “Hey, can we try shooting over here by this tree?” or “Do you guys mind actually turning around and letting me shoot from the other direction?” and they’d say “Sure! Of course! Totally!” to whatever I asked. I love it when people trust me and are so willing to do what it takes to get awesome images!

For the second weekend in a row, the rain started DURING the outdoor ceremony. Instead of putting a damper on things though (HA), it actually seemed fitting for these two laid back souls who are always up for a good time and a new adventure. Instead of being stressed out or upset about the rain, they laughed, fist pumped, and took shots of whiskey after the ceremony. I loved their positive outlook and I’m so glad the ceremony was still outside even with the rain, because the photos are so much more beautiful outdoors with that overcast lighting!

Here are a few of my favorites from Matt and Claire’s the Oaks at Salem wedding!! Huge thank you to the team there, who was EXCELLENT to work with!!

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Notice how much the weather changed in the 20 minutes or so between when the above photo was taken and the rest of the ceremony photos. Holy cow!

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One thing I’ve learned is, when two Virginia Tech alum get married, it’s a PARTY. For real. I don’t know if anyone tops their hype level. Ha!

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I first met Ashley and Rilee at their engagement session back around Christmas time, and I’ve been looking forward to their wedding ever since! They are such a great couple, and so much fun to be around. Their wedding day didn’t disappoint. Despite the fact that it rained almost the entire day, it miraculously cleared up in time for portraits and we got as many as we could into about a 10 minute window! These guys were pros though…and a perfect example of why it’s great to do an engagement session! They were able to nail every one of the poses I called out immediately, so we flew through portrait time! It was pretty bad ass.

Here are a few of my favorites from their wedding day at Trump National Golf Club near DC.

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Their ceremony church was extra special to them…Ashley’s sister was married there too a few years ago!

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This place isn’t what your typical golf club looks like! It’s crazy gorgeous…and the view from the ballroom is to die for!

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We all have those moments when it starts to feel like it really is a small world. I have more of those being in the wedding industry than I ever did before! One of those moments happened recently when I learned that two of my 2015 brides not only know each other, but are going to be in each others weddings! And neither of them found me through the other! How crazy is that? Nicole is one of those brides!

Meeting Nicole and John Paul last week at Tuckahoe Plantation for their engagement session was a ton of fun. This is one of my favorite locations to shoot at because everywhere you look there’s something beautiful! It was a perfect fit for Nicole and John Paul, who love to spend time outdoors. They also really love riding bikes, so they brought a vintage two person bike! How cute is that? When people personalize their engagement session and put a lot of thought into it, I get so excited for the wedding because I know it will be amazing!

Here are a few of my favorites from our evening with these two!

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This morning’s post will be short and sweet since I have lots of things on my agenda today (and really, for the rest of the week!). We had our first two state double header ever over the weekend, and it was AMAZING! And I woke up on the third day feeling not as tired as I thought I would be….I thought I would be super wiped out like I have been in past  years, but I woke up feeling like I could have shot a third wedding! I was definitely sore, but still feeling like I could go out and get things done. Surprisingly, exercising 4 times a week this wedding season has been so beneficial to how I feel before, during, and after shooting a wedding! A lot of people might not realize how physical wedding photography is…but it is, and being in better shape definitely has made a difference!

Here are two quick peeks from our weekend. This first one is from Friday’s wedding at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling. How pretty is this place?? And this is the back of it!!

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This one is from Saturday’s wedding in Raleigh, NC at the Oaks at Salem! Another wonderful day! And, the second weekend in a row where we’ve gotten rained on during the ceremony. A little water never hurt anybody, and the photos from the ceremony are so beautiful due to the overcast light! I can’t wait to share them :)

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All in all, I’d say the weekend was a success! I’m looking forward to sharing more from these two weddings later on this week :) Hope you all have a great Monday!

 

 

Oh man, where do I start this post?? I knew from the initial inquiry email from Leslie and Dan that this was going to be one heck of an amazing wedding day. First of all, Leslie is a super talented photographer so I knew her vision was going to be incredible. But Dan is also in the wedding industry…he’s a DJ! Two wedding pros who have been to a bajillion weddings are bound to have a ridiculously awesome wedding day. What I didn’t know back then was that not only are they skilled wedding pros, they’re also the kindest two people I think I’ve ever worked with. I was lucky enough to get the chance to get to know them at this year’s WPPI and they are not only one of the most genuine couples, but they’re also super fun!

Being asked to photograph their wedding was a huge honor. Out of all of the people they’ve met through their years in the wedding industry, they somehow decided to pick John and I. We’re really grateful they did, too, because getting to know them and being a part of their wedding was such a wonderful experience!

Leslie and Dan’s wedding day was at the beautiful Trump Winery in Charlottesville. Leslie’s vision of a French inspired wedding day was thought out and executed so well. From the soft romantic florals by Amanda Burnette (our bride two years ago!!!) to the wedding logo Leslie created, it was almost a dream come true to photograph! Here are some of my favorites from their day.

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The ring bearer was also the reader! He read “Falling In Love is Like Having a Dog” by Taylor Mali.

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The reception was the best! Such a fun party. We had a blast!

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Vendors:
Venue: Trump Winery
Planner: Natalie Seng
Stationery: Paper Stories
Flowers: Amanda Burnette
Catering: C&O Catering
Cake: Pearl’s Cupcakes
Gown: bhldn
Hair and Makeup: Sass Factory
Music: Johnny with Premier DJ Services
Bridesmaid attire: Jenny Yoo
Men’s attire: Joseph A. Banks

I am loving this time of year! The weather is absolutely perfect and we’re getting to meet a lot of our 2015 couples! Can you believe I just wrote 2015 COUPLES?? That’s crazy to me! Back when I started the business I had no idea if it was going to work out or not, so the fact that I’m still doing this and my business is going to live to see another year, is just amazing to me! We spent Sunday afternoon exploring Church Hill with Bonnie and Quentin, whose wedding is next June. This area of Richmond is my favorite to shoot in because there are so many adorable spots to photograph that no two sessions shot there look exactly the same. We really enjoyed getting to know these two a little bit better over the course of the session…and is there really a better way to spend an afternoon than outdoors photographing couples like these two??

Enjoy my faves!

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10.07
2014

The Journey

Last year at this time I was training really hard for my first half marathon. It was the first really athletic thing I’d ever done in my life! For me, it feels way more natural to be curled up on the couch with a book or a Netflix marathon than it does to lace up my sneakers and go out and sweat. I was the kid that hated gym class and wanted to be inside reading Babysitter’s Club books instead of playing outside. So for me, starting to run was weird and foreign. For weeks I trained and foam rolled my sore muscles and did twice the amount of laundry (the pile of sweatpants is twice as big when you’re self employed and you start exercising!). It was such a struggle, especially during busy season, I was so proud of how hard I had worked up until that point. Little by little I was proving to myself that despite all my doubts I could actually do it!

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(sidenote: marathon day photos are the least attractive photos you will ever have taken of yourself!)

Then one day, on a day so random I couldn’t even tell you anything else about it, John and I got on the subject of running the half. He said to me he knew that he could run the half if he had to tomorrow, with no training, because he believed in himself enough.    Oh HELL no. That statement made me so mad. I was indignant. I think I might have even cried. How could he run it tomorrow? Was he just saying that to be mean?? He hadn’t trained at all. He didn’t put in countless hours of sweat and tears like I did. As mad as I was, I (eventually) had to admit that he wasn’t wrong. And though he’s never really been much of a runner, he’s an athlete by nature. I’m not. So while it hurt my pride to hear that he could run the same race (and probably do it faster than me) without a single training mile logged, it was true.

If you’re wondering, the point of this story has nothing to do with running, nor does it really have anything to do with our marriage, which has happily survived me being incredibly indignant over what John said. The point of the story is, it doesn’t matter that John could run 13.1 miles easier than I could. What matters is that even though my journey was twice as hard as his would have been if he did the race too, I still fought through mine and made it to the finish line. There are times in the photography industry (and in regular life) when I look around at my friends and my peers and think to myself “Man, they have it easy”. They get twice as many likes on everything they post, they book the most incredible weddings, they’re booked way farther in advance than me, and they just seen to have so many wonderful opportunities that I don’t. I get caught up in that same emotion I felt when John said he could do what I’d been training for weeks and weeks to do in just a day. That all my struggles are basically for nothing since these random other people seem to have gotten everything so easily. It’s so easy to think like that! It’s hard to stay positive and not compare yourself to others. Especially when the world keeps getting smaller and smaller thanks to the internet and social media! In my opinion, the internet is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever invented. THANKS A LOT AL GORE.

In the same way that it comes naturally to John to do athletic things, some things come more easily to others than they do to me, and that’s just how it is.  Does that mean those people are not working hard? No, not necessarily. Even if John did run a half marathon without training, it would have been challenging for him, though twice as challenging for me. I try to remember this when it comes to my business. When I’m looking at other people’s successes and comparing them to mine, I consider my handicaps and how hard I’ve worked to overcome them. Every training mile I ran was a metaphor for how hard I had to work to book clients when I was starting out and literally didn’t know anyone getting married and only a few people even in that age group. I didn’t go to college and we had next to no money when I started the business so for me to compare my journey to someone who might have had a dozen sorority sisters book them or wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck and had more money to invest in their business up front does me a huge disservice. I’ve fought hard to get to where I am and to basically discredit all of it because I didn’t get it as quick as so and so or because I still don’t have x, y, or z? That’s crazy. Don’t diminish your successes. Own your own journey and remember that 13.1 miles is 13.1 miles  and no matter how long it takes you to get there, the finish line still feels pretty damn great. I like to think that most things happen for a reason, and I’ve been telling myself that things don’t come easy for me because I’m tough enough to handle it and ambitious enough to still go out and make them happen. So instead of feeling defeated when you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, use that negative energy to pump yourself up and get out there and do whatever it is you’re wishing you could do!

My last little thought before I go: At the end of a race, the last runners to finish are cheered for the hardest. Why is that? Because everyone knows it took so much more for them to get there. Cheer for the people around you. Cheer for yourself. And be proud of all the struggles because they’re what made you who you are!

It’s crazy to me that we’re already into October now! It seems like the 2014 season just started not too long ago, and now we’re only weeks from the end. This time of year is the most beautiful time of year, which for us means it’s also the busiest! Not only do we have a large chunk of our weddings over the next couple of weeks, we also have lots of engagement sessions and lots of traveling on our schedule. Lots of balance is required this time of year to stay sane. This weekend our wedding was on Friday and we had an engagement session on Sunday, so I intentionally scheduled Saturday as a day off so we could rest…especially since we have a double wedding weekend next weekend AND the week after that! I’ve learned over the past couple of years that it’s so important to take time to recover. When we do, we’re at our best for our clients, and that’s important to us!

As busy as things are right now, I am so excited about our Fall schedule. Lots of great couples are getting married this month and we get to spend time connecting with a bunch of our 2015 clients too at their engagement sessions. Bonnie and Quentin , who are getting married in 2015, met up with us last night in Richmond for theirs!

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And on Friday, we had the pleasure of shooting Leslie and Dan’s wedding at the Trump Winery in Charlottesville! This was definitely a day to remember! I can’t wait to share more with you guys later this week!

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This afternoon we’re shooting yet another 2015 couple’s engagement session! So pumped to spend time getting to know them! Til then, I’ll be in the office, catching up on emails and editing. Hope you guys have a wonderful week!