Tuesday, January 20, 2015

announcement: the school sessions

I have some really exciting news :) 

A friend of mine (actually, this girl was my inspiration to become a photographer way back when!) has embarked on the most amazing project. Many of you will have already heard of Jamie Delaine or maybe you've seen some of her beautiful wedding and engagement work on Pinterest...

Along with her husband, Randy, they've created The School Sessions:  
The School Sessions is a one-day event across the globe on Sunday, April 12, 2015 to raise $200,000 to build a school in Haiti. Portrait photographers can sign up online to photograph one (or more!) portrait sessions and donate 100% of fees to The School Sessions. 

$200,000 will buy land and build a ten-classroom school for 220 students. The previous building was destroyed by the 2010 earthquake and these children (ages 3 to 16) are in need of a earthquake and hurricane-proof school to learn and grow. 

By empowering hundreds of photographers across the world with a simple way to give back, together we will meet our goal. Join us in Making Haiti’s Future Bright. 

I am really excited to be one of the photographers who is helping to raise the funds needed to build this school. 

I think what Jamie and Randy have put together is simply amazing. I've been in awe of them since the launch of The School Sessions, and their message about putting their business to good use. 

I'll be offering THREE MINI SESSIONS on April 12th to support the cause. A mini session can be used for family photos, an engagement, maternity, even headshots. Totally up to you. 


DATE: Sunday April 12th, 2015
TIME: 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am
LOCATION: To be determined closer to the Spring
COST: $250
PHOTOS: 25-30 edited images in an online gallery for download to your computer.

100% of the proceeds will go to The School Sessions, and instead of sending in a payment, you'll be donating to their website and showing proof of your donation by email.

In order to grab one of these three mini sessions, please fill out the contact form on my website :) 

If you would like to find out about some other ways to donate, please visit The School Sessions' website. It's so beautifully designed (Jamie wouldn't have it any other way, that's for sure!). 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

goodbye 2014, hello 2015

2014 was a whirlwind. I photographed some of the most beautiful weddings in the history of Laura Kelly Photography, and welcomed a new member to our family

A year ago (almost to the DAY), I wrote a blog post about some of my intentions for 2014. The word was "balance." I wanted my life to have less clutter, less noise, more purpose, and more passion. Reading that now, I can't help but feel proud of how I spent the last 365 days. I learned a lot about balance while spending more than half of the year as a working mom. The passion was there. The clutter disappeared. 

And I rang in the new year on a family vacation in Florida, with the love of my life by my side. How does it get any better than that? 

I also booked my ticket to the next Making Things Happen conference (woohoo!). Booking that ticket is the best thing I can do for myself in 2015. I always come out of it feeling inspired, refreshed, and energized to make my life even better than before. I've realized that if you just keep letting the days run into the next without stopping to set your goals and intentions, you're missing out on the opportunity to improve your life.

2015 is going to be an exciting one -- I know this because my calendar is filling up with AMAZING couples who are planning truly beautiful weddings. I know this because Coop will take his first steps this year and life will change yet again. I know this because I ALREADY feel fired up to work and create beautiful things and it's still off-season! 

Happy 2015, my friends!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

robyn + matt | a surprise christmas proposal

Matt has been planning this proposal for months. He first contacted me in the Fall to ask about my availability over the holiday season, and once I found out he was planning to surprise Robyn with a diamond ring under the Christmas lights in Confederation Park, I told him I would make myself available WHENEVER. 

Robyn and Matt are so incredibly worldly and I loved hearing a little bit of their love story from Matt during our planning. She's from Ottawa, he's from New Zealand, they met in India, and currently reside in London, England. They were planning to fly "home" to Ottawa to spend Christmas with Robyn's family -- he knew it would be the perfect time to propose. 

It was a cloudy day with a minor freezing rain warning in the AM, but I knew the weather would cooperate for Matt's plans...

As they walked down the steps from the Rideau Centre and into Confederation Park, I could almost feel his nerves. They swung around the fountain, careful not to slip on the icy sidewalk, and I took photos of my decoy models (my husband, Ryan, and my girlfriend, Britt). Paparazzi style surprise proposals are NERVE WRACKING, you guys!

Just as planned, Matt got down on one knee, and I watched Robyn squeal through my camera. She clapped her hands together, pulled him up from his knees and wrapped her arms around his neck. It was an absolutely perfect moment. 

I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story...

I snuck in a few portraits after Matt revealed that I was taking photos. I love these...

My sincerest congratulations go out to you, Matt and Robyn! 
What an exciting time :) Thank you, Matt, for choosing me to be a part of it. 

It's a true honour. 

A note about the Christmas season:
First of all, it's upon us! Today is Christmas Eve and I wish you ALL a wonderful holiday. I hope you've left work for the day and you're spending the evening surrounded by people you love, great food, and tons of excitement for Christmas morning to arrive. 

I'll be out of the office and spending time with both sides of our families until just after Boxing Day, and then we're taking Coop to FLORIDA! Our first family vacation...we couldn't be more excited. I'll still be checking emails periodically before we leave, but I officially return to my desk on Tuesday, January 6th. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

how to create a styled shoot (when you don't even know where to begin!)

The biggest question on a new photographer's mind...how do I start shooting the kind of weddings and engagements that I want? I get asked this all the time and I always pull from my experiences of starting a photography business back in 2011. At the time, I was shooting very low budget weddings for practically nothing. I knew that if I could only get my hands on a fancy wedding dress or an adorable sweets table, I could really do it justice and show off my work. 

So instead of waiting for that to magically arrive, I put together my very first styled shoot. (If you want to go back in time, you can check that out here!)

(inspiration board by Brittany Frid)

Here are a few things to get you started if you're thinking of creating a styled shoot, but don't even know where to begin:

ONE: Start with a small idea.
Each shoot needs to have a very simple, tangible idea to get the ball rolling. When it comes time to approach a few vendors to help out, you don't want to confuse them with a long-winded explanation of what you're trying to do. As an example, my most recent styled shoot started because I wanted to show my clients that an engagement session in the winter wasn't scary. I wanted to show that shooting in the winter could be beautiful. That was it. 

TWO: Find a partner who can help. 
I know my strengths, and coming up with the current trends in the wedding industry is something that I choose to leave to the pros. I sought out Brittany Frid, stylist at Satin & Snow, to help me with my idea. From following Brittany's social media for quite awhile, I knew that the natural look was definitely her forte. I told her my simple idea, gave her an approximate date I was working with, and let her use her creativity to make it beautiful. 

If you're new to the wedding industry, you might not have close relationships with planners or stylists yet -- that's okay. My advice is to do your research, take an active interest in their social media (that means genuinely following their posts, reading them carefully, and finding out about their style and their brand). Read their "about me" section and look at past examples of their work. The last thing you want to do is approach a planner about a shoot that's totally not their style.

THREE: Find a creative team.
My advice on finding a creative team: it's better to have 3 dedicated players than 10 vendors who aren't really invested in the project. Feel free to keep it small! Sometimes the best shoots only have a handful of members on the creative team. Think about the things you know you need, like photography (check!), someone to help pull the shoot together, and maybe someone to donate a wedding dress for the afternoon, depending on the shoot. But not every styled shoot needs a sweets table, and if it doesn't support your original small idea, maybe your time can be better spent elsewhere.

FOUR: Give creative control to others.
When it comes to creating something original, it's important to give creative control to the members of your team. A shoot like this works because each vendor is working on something that fires them up, and no one likes to be told exactly how to do their job. When you come together as a team, make sure everyone feels they have the capacity to push the envelope and do something different. That's what will set the shoot apart from others. 

Below you'll see a screenshot of Brittany's blog, Satin & Snow. After coming up with an inspiration board for our shoot, Brittany used her blog as a platform to generate some excitement about what we were working on. It's important for you, as the photographer, to do the same. Make sure you're using your own social media to show off the other members of your team.

FIVE: When it comes to shooting time, give it everything you've got.
This isn't just a regular shoot. Since a team of people have donated their time and either their products or their services to create the shoot, you need to focus on giving them photos that really show off their work. For example, Brittany and I worked with the lovely ladies at Amy & Jen Decor and they donated a few pieces of furniture for our set up. I made sure to get some detail shots of the furniture, styled in a variety of ways, so that they have photos that are meaningful to them.

I love this photo of our set up because it shows that magic can be created ANYWHERE, and in this case, even in front of a bush in a residential neighbourhood. See the houses in the background?

You'd never know from seeing the finished product:

Getting behind the scenes photos is great because you never know which of your vendors might want to use them on their website! Pictured below: Brittany's talented hands styling the little plate of treats.

SIX: Photos are your currency.
Offer to do some informal head-shots for the members of your team following the shoot. It's such an easy way to thank them for being a part of your small vision, and making it great.

I'll wrap up this post with a little teaser of some of my favourite images from this styled shoot. For now, most of the photos will have to remain under wraps while we work on getting it published, but this should give you an idea of how an inspiration board can be brought to life with the help of some amazing people...

P.S. If you liked this post, stay tuned for a post that will focus on HOW to get your styled shoot published! Lots of tips and tricks I've learned along the way :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

o'brien family | barrhaven fields family session

You'll recognize this girl. You've seen portrait shots of Melissa on the blog before, and you might remember that she photographed my maternity session last March! After a busy wedding season for both of us, we finally found a chance to get together for some family photos of Melissa and her husband, Kelly, and her adorable little boy, Lochlan. 

The O'Brien family and their three hair colours were so lovely to hang out with on Saturday afternoon. I can't wait for a session just like this one when Coop's a bit older!!

I love everything about their looks, from Lochlan's leather jacket to Kelly's wool sweater and Melissa's camel boots. Winter shoots can be so beautiful. 

Finishing off with my fave photo from the day :)