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 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 :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

danika + jason | winter wedding at the strathmere lodge

I remember driving home from the wedding and thinking, wow...that is a love that will last. 

Danika and Jason are meant for each other in every sense. I know that because throughout the entire wedding day, they never stopped being a team. I know that because Danika let Jason wear a top hat and cane for their first look photos, and because Jason let Danika write his thank you speech. I honestly believe I've ever met two people who cared about including their families in their wedding as much as Danika and Jason; it was beautiful to see. 

I am so thankful to have been a part of their wedding day, as a vendor in the Hot 899 Hide the Bride contest that took place this past May. This is the very first time that I've ever been a wedding photographer for someone who didn't necessarily "choose" me, but I'll tell you this...they welcomed me into their day with open arms. Danika and deserve the most wonderful things in life, and I hope you enjoy this little peek into my favourite photos from your wedding day...!

After I placed Jason for the first look, I captured Danika's snowy walk through Strathmere.

Remember I said Danika let Jason wear a top hat and cane during their first look? Well, she maintained the right to throw the top hat out of the photos immediately after :) 

The original plan was to have the ceremony outside, beneath the flowers and a beautiful chandelier, but the weather was starting to take a turn and there was talk of rain. We ended up moving the ceremony inside about 45 minutes before the start time. 

I am so glad Danika and Jason chose to do a first look because the weather was still gorgeous in the early afternoon.

Without a doubt the best photo of the day. Their first moment as husband and wife...

Strathmere puts on an absolutely amazing cocktail hour, complete with hot apple cider and delicious appetizers.

A shot of Danika and Jason's guestbook, made using their engagement photos! This is my most common engagement album that I offer to my clients. I love the way the sharpie messages look on the thick pages.

For their first dance outside, Jason had a little surprise. He arranged for all of the guests to light was such a sweet moment and I can tell it was just the icing on the cake for Danika.

On my way out, I spotted this adorable print from the day of the Hide the Bride contest. I thought it would be a perfect way to end this post...

Danika and Jason, thank you for EVERYTHING. I am so glad we met this Summer and your wedding was the perfect way to end an amazing wedding season. From the gorgeous dusting of perfectly white snow, to the beautiful moonlight during your first dance...I think we can honestly say it was a perfect wedding day. All my love, you guys!

Wedding Venue: The Lodge at Strathmere
Photography: Laura Kelly Photography and Second Shooter: Brittany
Decoration and Styling: Melissa Lafleche Design
Florals: Passiflora
Dress: Mori Lee - Angelina Faccenda Bridal
Dress Store: Alliance Bridal Boutique
Suits: Black by Vera Wang
Bride's Shoes: Bagdley Mischka
Cake: Serendipity Cakes by Olivia
Donuts: Suzy Q
Rings: Maple Leaf Diamond
Bridal Jewellery: Stella and Dot