Wednesday, January 30, 2013

sleepless nights


I'm a good sleeper. As in, I'm that person who can fall asleep on a plane (aisle seat or window seat), on a bus, on a boat, train, you name it. 

I can sleep sitting up in a chair. I can sleep lying down on a hard floor. I can take a 3 hour nap at 11am if I wanted to. 

And I fall asleep quickly. Effortlessly. 

But every once in awhile, I can't sleep. Because of my amazing relationship with sleep, this never really annoys me. I mean, if I can't sleep for one night every...oh, I don't know...three months, what do I have to complain about?

Instead, I use those 7 or 8 hours to the best of my ability. I read things! I scour the Internet for photographic inspiration! I work on my blogging calendar! I think, and digest, and write. 

It happened last night; my one night every three-ish months...I couldn't sleep. My eyes just didn't feel like staying shut, and after about 30 minutes of lying in the dark, totally awake and alert (note: in my world, this is an eternity and I could have otherwise fallen asleep about 5 times over), I realized that there was no use tossing and turning. I might as well turn on the nightlight and get to work. 

I started with my typical reading of all my favourite girls:

and Nancy Ray


And moved on to some of my favourite Instagram feeds: 



Which lead me to check out Lara Casey's blog for the first time ever! (How I've followed this woman's Instagram feed for MONTHS but never visited her blog is beyond me). And this lead me to all kinds of reading about branding, marketing, and eventually finding much inspiration from Southern Weddings Magazine

Let me tell ya, if you're looking for an interesting 
corner of the internet to read up on, this is the place to look. 

My reading tonight (because what you're reading was written at 4:13am) has lead me to these thoughts:

I need to set goals for myself.
I need to be more vulnerable in my blogging.
I need to blog more frequently.
I need to take more photos for ME.

I want to go to workshops and meet other people with the same passions.
I want to work harder at documenting beautiful wedding days.
I want to make changes before this wedding season begins.
I want to declutter. 

The fact that these thoughts are pouring out of me so quickly convinces me that they are important and that I deserve to explore them over and over until it feels like second nature. I feel that over the last couple months I've lost a bit of the blogging spark, and I've grown accustomed to blogging wedding A, and then waiting a couple days before posting wedding B, and repeat, repeat, repeat. 

I've forgotten what it's like to stare at a blank screen at 9am with my morning coffee and think, "what's on my mind today?" That carefree blogging attitude lead to posts like this, or this, or this...and when I look back on the posts of 2011 and 2012, I'm so grateful to have them. 

That was so easy to do when I was working (or...should I say...AT work...), because it was part of the routine. And back then, there weren't emails waiting to be answered and wedding inquiries to get to, and shoots with pending edits...

But blogging IS part of the business day, or at least it should be! 

I'm giving myself a challenge for the day:

To post some version of this lengthy word scramble I've written tonight, 
and to take a photo that makes me happy.


This photo reminds me of the places I've been, the things I've read, 
my desire to write, and my general restlessness.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

winter weddings: what i've learned


I'm so excited to be sharing images from Kristie and Brad's GORGEOUS winter wedding on the blog this week. 

I'm almost finished putting the final touches on their collection, but in the mean time...I want to use some of these sneak peeks to touch on what I've learned about shooting Winter weddings, because let's face it...it's a completely different ball game. 

1. THE FIRST LOOK IS KEY

First looks are magical in terms of creating the perfect timeline for your wedding day...but when we're talking Winter weddings, where the sun sets around 4pm, it couldn't be more important. 

Rearranging the wedding day events so that all of the bridal portraits, wedding party formals, and family shots are done BEFORE the ceremony, gives us the best use of the natural light. Sneaking in family photos before the reception is rarely a problem for a July wedding because we have sunlight until after 7pm! 


Kristie and Brad's timeline was superb...so much so, that I think it could be helpful to share it here. 

8:00am: hair and makeup for Kristie
10:00am: photographing details of Kristie and Brad getting ready
12:30pm: everyone makes their way to first look location
1:00pm: first look
1:30pm: wedding party joins us for wedding party photos
2:00pm: immediate family joins us for family photos
3:00pm: ceremony
4:00pm: a few final photos with extended family
5:00pm: cocktails & mingling at the reception

Because of the first look, Kristie and Brad were able to join their guests for the reception much earlier, and everything was done using natural light.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that first looks are the CUTEST bride & groom moments ever?!

I mean, look at this little twirl...


2. FIND A GREAT SPOT FOR INDOOR PHOTOS

If you're a newer photographer, there are many ways to find locations that allow indoor wedding photos (and at the same time, you'll figure out the locations that definitely DON'T allow photos). 

Joining photographer networks for your city on Facebook will be a great resource for finding out information like this. Or, if you're less social, do a google search for Winter weddings in your area, and take a note of where the photographer did the formals.

The Museum of Nature is a location that was recommended to me by a fellow photographer, and I'm REALLY happy that Kristie and Brad decided it would be the location for their photos. 


One thing to be conscious of, is having enough room to photograph groups of family members in the chosen location, without having people in the background. 

Also, note the reflection of the huge window directly behind me, which is allowing me to use the natural light as my only light source. 



3. BUILD IN TIME FOR YOUR CAMERA TO CLIMATIZE.

Your camera gets nice and toasty warm when you're shooting indoors, but as soon as you step out into the cold, your lens will likely fog up over the next few minutes. 

I always do a test of my gear by stepping out into the cold the morning before a shoot, to see how long it takes for the fog to clear away on its own. On this particular day, it only took between 5-7 minutes, so I made sure to build that little bit of time into Kristie and Brad's timeline. 

My assistant, Lisa, and I stepped outside while Kristie and Brad were making their way down the stairs from the Museum, so that by the time they were in position, my camera was already ready to shoot. 

I use this same principle for shooting destination weddings too, and because of the humidity in the Dominican Republic when I was there for Stephanie and Richard's wedding, my camera needed close to 35 minutes to climatize. Simple fix though, I just brought it to breakfast with me and ate outside :)

(P.S...don't be deceived by Kristie's bare arms, it was a chilly one and she's just a rockstar!) 



4. WHITE BALANCE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER.

When you're dealing with a snowy background, having the correct white balance is so important. Any orange or green tints will show up EXTRA harsh when you're looking at a white dress in front of a snowy yard, so this is certainly an example of how shooting in Kelvin comes in handy. 

Before Trevor Dayley's workshop, I really only shot in Auto White Balance, but by the time he finished with me, I was shooting 100% manual, also known as Kelvin. If you are well on your way to setting your shutter and aperture manually, then this is definitely something to look into :) 


Shooting Winter weddings is something that I wish I knew more about when I first started, so that I could have avoided shooting bridal portraits at 5pm in the DARK, with the snow turning up slightly BLUE and my clients' cheeks turning bright pink while I wiped the fog off my lens before every photo. 

Not fun. Not fun.  

Anyway, I hope this proved helpful for some of my photographer friends who are just starting out! And as I said, I am super excited to share more from Kristie and Brad's wedding day :) 

Happy Tuesday my friends!

Monday, January 28, 2013

the end of an era (EVERYBODY DRINK!)


We wanted an excuse to have a party...

And I wanted to set a hard date on when my last glass of wine would be before we started trying to have a baby. 

Yes, friends...we've done the marriage part, and now we're starting to think about the next chapter. The sore feet, weird cravings, sleepless nights, goo-goo-ga-ga chapter :)

And thus, the "We're Not Pregnant, EVERYBODY DRINK!" party was born. The concept was simple...it was going to be my last night of partying before cutting myself off. And for all of my other girlfriends...it manifested in them celebrating their years of religiously taking their pills and NOT skipping to the baby chapter a little too early.

I know it's alright to keep drinking occasionally until you find out you're pregnant...but I'm 23. It's better to just throw a hard limit on it and know for sure that we've done everything we can to make a healthy baby. 

So, I made your typical spread of baked goods, you know...pregnancy test sugar cookies, planB cupcakes, rockets as birth control pills...



And then I gathered up your typical props, like oversize baby bottles, booze, cigarettes, soothers, "My Mom is Hot" bibs...

And we all had a great time being unfit parents in my living room photobooth:











And we even had faux-baby-shower games. Like who can name the most mixed drinks or brands of alcohol that have baby names in it...


SOME OF OUR FAVOURITES:

Bailey's
Jack Daniels
Alexander Keith's
HeineKEN (this was Beans' addition, and it counted for a half-point)
Margarita
Sherry
Sam Adams
Prince Igor
Jose Cuervo
Martini
Kahlua (stripper names were deemed acceptable)
Stella
Captain Morgan
Bud (hillbillies are people too)
Tom Collins
...you get the idea.

Or who can blow up the biggest condom in 30 seconds...




I love my friends. And I love that the next party we throw might be an actual baby shower...






Beans telling a riveting story:


We have this one friend who makes the BEST faces everytime the camera comes out. I couldn't resist this collage.


Savouring my last glass of wine...


Onto the next chapter... :)


special thanks to my buddy Chris for taking a ton of these pics :) 
i was off duty for the majority of the evening thanks to him!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

stephanie + richard | gran bahia principe cayo levantado - samana destination wedding


I am lucky to be able to say that I've seen a lot of beautiful places. I've spent my fair share of March Breaks in Florida with my family, seen the East Coast with Beans' family, and of COURSE, ventured to the DR and Paris for wedding related festivities. 

But there is something to be said for places of luxury...places that look more like screen-savers than real life. 

And the Gran Bahia Principe in Cayo Levantado (AKA "Bacardi Island") is one of those such places. When Stephanie described the resort to me over an iced coffee at Starbucks, it sounded like paradise. And when she told me that her wedding date fell only FIVE DAYS after Joelle's wedding in the DR, I took it as a sign that I needed to attend and photograph this one. 

Switching resorts by myself was an experience in and of itself...but seeing this beautiful place and witnessing Stephanie and Richard's wedding day, was worth it about 20 times over. 

So what do you do when you wake up on the morning of your wedding and it's pouring rain?



You change into a bikini and get outside, silly! Some photo-ops are worth having to re-shower...



And while the girls monopolized the pool, the men played around by the beach! 

(Is this one of the perks of being a destination 
wedding photographer? I think so.)


This is one of those moments where the guys make a suggestion for a photo and you just have to go "SURE, LET'S DO IT!" ...and then when you're editing, you actually kinda like it. 


Back in Stephanie's bridal suite, the girls were doing the usual girlie things: curling their hair, applying some last minute nail polish, toasting the bride-to-be, you know 




Stephanie made the sashes for her girls' mint coloured bridesmaids dresses. I swooned over them all day. 



And how cute is this 4-tiered wedding gift from the ladies in Stephanie's family -- one gift for each of the something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. 




I cannot get enough of this handmade fabric wedding bouquet that Stephanie made... It reminds me of the ENDLESS hours I spent hot-glueing fabric flowers for my own wedding bouquet!











Stephanie and Richard opted for a first look (LOVE them for this!), and their reactions were so sweet...

Everyone loves a teary-eyed bride... :)


After the first look, we took off for some poolside photos. One of the best parts of doing a first look is getting prime lighting (& ALONE TIME!) to do photos of just the bride & groom. 






Umm...I just died. Stephanie -- this has to be one of my favourite bridal portraits EVER. 







Stephanie and Richard chose the garden terrace for their wedding ceremony, and with the blue blue sky, the sunshine, and all the palm trees...it was simply perfect.


Fans to keep the guests cool during the ceremony...too cute. 



For the procession, I was told it would be just like "Titanic." Obviously for a movie-freak like me, there was no other explanation necessary. How cute is it that the groomsmen picked up the ladies and brought them to their spot at the front?!






Officially MARRIED!




A couple family portraits :)



I love that Stephanie's family brought this vintage umbrella as an heirloom for some photos. I think we decided it was late 19th century? That could be wrong, but regardless...it looked beautiful :) 


Have you ever seen a better looking wedding party? These people made my job SUPER easy. 






Just your everyday (but intense) game of tag on the beach... :)






Oh the sunset...




After the sun sank behind the clouds, we made our way to the private reception for speeches and dinner and cake... 



When the father-of-the-bride starts to get emotional, I lose it. 








First dance as husband and wife...


Stephanie, Richard -- what can I say?! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share your special day in PARADISE. 

I am positive that I'll be back to that resort, so if you're thinking of taking an anniversary trip, let's talk!! ;)