**Please note that if you’re at work, the video contains beautiful music. **

There’s a first time for everything! Today I’m happy to share a quick behind the scenes of the Palo Alto Plantation video. I was part of an amazing styled shoot at this beautiful new eastern North Carolina wedding venue. When I arrived, Taylor, the manager, told me there was going to be some video, and while my immediate internal reaction was, “OMG, I’m not dressed for it! I haven’t even done my spring wardrobe shopping yet!”, I got over myself pretty quickly and loved my day out at the Palo Alto.  My favorite part was when we took a quick break to chat with Stephanie, the owner of Dream Makers Wedding Estates, about the history of the Palo Alto Plantation. I love when wedding venue owners see an older property, recognize that it has potential, and then respect it’s history and their place in that history. She did an amazing job restoring the house and grounds while keeping in mind it’s place in the community of Maysville and eastern North Carolina. In doing so, she created a space that invites intimate and beautiful moments to occur and be captured in a very natural, very special way.

Allie Miller of Allie Miller Photography is really great to work with. I loved her friendliness and outgoing personality, and chatting with her about lighting and film, and her total willingness to hold a reflector for me. Collaboration between photographers is hard to come by and I’m so glad I met her! Here’s to many more exciting collaborations in the future, and I’m so glad I was able to be part of her behind the scenes of the Palo Alto Plantation video.

Kelly at Silver Ceiling was a dream model. She was fun to work with, she rocked the eve of Milady dress that Taylor picked out and together we created some of my most favorite images of the 2017 season, and maybe EVER.

Taylor Hackett, the general manager of the Palo Alto Plantation was so fun, very professional, and most of all, very proud of the work that she has done with Stephanie and Dreammakers Wedding Estates to bring the Palo Alto back to it’s former splendor. It’s a beautiful venue, and I can’t wait to share more of my pictures of it- this week! I promise!

Enjoy the behind the scenes of the Palo Alto Plantation video as much as I enjoyed being in it and being part of the day- which was a lot!




Venue: The Palo Alto Plantation

Model: Kelly Farrell

Dress: Eve of Milady

Hair and Makeup: Silver Ceiling Beauty Consulting


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This is part 3 if a small series on how to be featured on a wedding blog. Part one is here, Part 2 is here. Part for will be about crafting an intro to the editor.

Todays section on how to be featured on a wedding blog is about details. And everyone, details are the agony and ecstasy of wedding photography for me.

The best way to describe the relationship between me and the details of a wedding is love hate. I love looking at them, but sometime find it tedious to photograph. But I realized one day that I didn’t have a philosophy or system to photographing them, and that made it harder than necessary on me. So now my approach is two fold. Shoot for me and my clients, shoot for the editors.

When I shoot for myself and my clients, I’m shooting in the style the hired to me shoot. That means shooting details in context. Either in the brides hands, or on her stationary. I don’t do fancy stacking, or lay flats.
But I’ve discovered that some editors like details to be more styled, more editorial, so that their viewers have a clear look at what they’re interested in. This is the detail stuff got hard. I didn’t know much about styling. So I learned about styling, and about layflats, and then the first thing I did was to isolate various elements. I photographed rings, other jewelry and shoes together, them broke them out to do separately. Then I did paper goods- stationary, invitation suites etc., together and then by themselves, then with the rings. I learned a little bit about patterns and styles. I discovered I like really simple style elements. Leaves Berries, left over flowers from bouquets, center pieces that were flat. This upped my game in terms of the details, and I found that I had 2 to 3 ways to present details. Time wise, I’m not spending more timeon details, I’ve just organized the process better and created a mini workflow out of the details themselves. If my second photographer is there, she helps arrange and photograph. I spend a total of about 10-20 minutes max on bridal details, including the dress. I do the same for the grooms, gifts to the bridal party, and flowers. It helps me to to send a list to the bride or planner and encourage them to put the following things together for me on the day of the wedding: Dress, shoes, rings, stationary (menu, program, invitation suite, thank you card if they have one, grooms details, shoes, watch, 1 sample gift to bridal party members, and anything else they want photographed. Sometimes it’s a huge pile of stuff. And my second and I just go for it. But after 5-6 weddings of huge amounts of details, we got a flow going, one that I can use if I’m shooting by myself as well. Simplicity is always more.

When it comes to details in submissions then, I usually include the styled details, and maybe 1-2 of the details I shot for myself and my client. I submit the max amount of the images the publication suggests. So if the editor says 75-100 images, I submit 100 images. Almost half that is details. Every centerpiece and bouquet by itself, bouts and grooms details, gifts, dresses, shoes- everything. The rest of the images are the 50 best images of the day.


I hope that this helps those of you out there newer to publishing and submitting to feel more emporwered when it comes to how to be featured on a wedding blog. Details are (literally), half the battle. Have fun practicing on whatever you have! Your own jewelry, flowers, left over bouquets you can take home. Shoes, books, etc. The more you practice, the better you’ll get!

Happy Styling!

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There times I long to write what goes through my head as a photographer. It’s not the typical things photographers are known to write, like, why photography costs so much (taxes, yo!) or some other pedantic weirdness. But I think tonight, I’m simply going to be super brutally honest.

Sometimes, I want to quit.

I’m occasionally overcome by this intense desire to close my studio, sell my gear, take down my website, toss my gallery wall, turn my office into a play room, tell the IRS to peace out, and walk away from the 7 years of weddings, friendships, and tears and elation I’ve experienced. I have no idea what I would do, but I think about it at least once a month. I sometimes sit down in my office after school drop off and wonder if I have what it takes to move my studio from typical ho hum Raleigh wedding photography to an exceptional sought after wedding studio. Sometimes I think it’s not ever meant to be like that, and I’ve fallen victim to one too many dream peddlers that prowl instagram offering me 5 steps to Instagram Fame. No thanks, dream peddler, no thanks.

I also sometimes find myself caught up in the idea that if I just don a weird hat I would never wear in everyday life, a tulle skirt, and have head shots of me twirling on the middle of Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh while drinking coffee and holding my camera in front of my face like everyone else, that it would do the trick and I’d have some sort of break through. But twirling, tulle skirts, hat doffing, coffee drinking and camera wearing for picture taking purposes aren’t me. So that’s out.

So I’m left to wonder what I keep doing this for.

The answer is you.

I do it for you. Because when I think back on my roughest moments of 2016, the ones where I spent way more time than necessary crying into my arms on my desk, I get emails from brides who love their images. It’s the emails from grateful parents, families who lost a wife and mother, where that one picture I don’t even remember taking was the last one they have of her healthy (cue the bawling in the car while at a gas station after a wedding!) is now one of their most treasured possessions. It’s the moment at a wedding in March where I had to stop shooting while I wiped tears from my eyes as the bride became the 5th generation bride in her family to wear a  wedding headpiece brought over on a boat from Hungary over 100 years ago.  Everytime I look at my gallery wall filled beautiful moments, the happiness and hope of so many people remind me that I do this for you. I love entering into your joy. It’s my highest honor.

The moments you experience now are ones I’m going to share with my children one day, and your most beautiful day helps me anticipate my own future moments. Your joy is a small foreshadowing of my own future joy. That’s exactly as it should be. It’s grace to me to see that and hope for it for my children. You amazing couples keep me grounded. You’re real, you’re raw, you’re killing it at life, at work, at marriage, and at parenting. Some of you overcame incredible odds to reach your wedding day. You inspire me to keep going, to keep documenting beautiful memories of greatest day anyone could ever have. This is what buoys me on the rough days, the long days, the days where there are so many NO’s and very few yeses.

And for that, I thank you all so very much.


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I’m happy to blog this elegant and simple Pavilion at Angus Barn engagement session today.

The Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC, is one of the best known restaurants in NC. It’s been the sight for many a celebration from birthday’s to weddings, to proposals. I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t love the Angus Barn. Part of it’s charm lies not only in its amazing food, but also in it’s history. It was built with beams and stones salvaged from Sherman’s march through Raleigh in the Civil War, which makes it something of a historic landmark as well. Another claim to fame is that its Chef, Walter Royal is an Iron Chef Champion. He’s one of many local heroes in Raleigh.

Part of the reason couples have loved the Pavilions at Angus Barn, is  because of it’s natural setting. The Angus barn is located right next to Umstead State park, so there’s no construction to it’s south, and it has it’s own natural beauty. The Pavilion is set against Angus Barn lake, which has a beautiful nature path. A terrace overlooking the lake is perfect for waterside ceremonies. There’s a bell column with couples named etched in it, lending to it’s romantic charm.

It’s also conveniently located to Brier Creek. Hotels and stores abound for last minute snack runs during wedding prep. It’s perfect for out of town guests to easily find the venue. Hotels can also easily transport guests back to the hotel after weddings. Between history, location, and amazing food, the Angus Barn is the perfect choice for a beautiful luxurious, romantic wedding.

I love when couples choose places that are special to them. A lot of couples often express hesitation about saying where they’d like their session to take place, but once they choose a place that has meaning for them, they relax, and enjoy their time together. So my one  “protip” for all the brides and grooms to be, if you’re interested in having an engagement session, choose a place you love, that has meaning for you, that you can easily go back to reminisce and plan for the future. It’ll be your private sanctuary in a way for for your relationship, and having your session in a meaningful place allows you to have one more reason to always love it.

Thanks for reading.


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Today’s post is a short and sweet one, dedicated to all you future brides out there who are attending a bridal show soon, or just attended one. Chances are, you’ll only go to 1-2, and as someone who’s been to several, I wanted to offer some tips for you on what to do after a bridal show.

But first, I wanted to chat about Bridal Shows in general. The best ones in NC are held by Forever Bridal, and they happen about 4 times a year at NC State Fair Grounds here in Raleigh. They usually take place in large conference like room, and there’s a lot happening. Dj’s are playing music, people handing you food and drink, there’s a fashion show, lights, and pictures. People are asking you’ve if you’ve found your version of whatever vendor they are everywhere you turn. It can be overwhelming in the best way possible.  A lot of brides have told me they don’t know what to do afterwards, so I thought I’d share 8 quick tips on what to do during a bridal show and what to do after a bridal show.

What to do at a Bridal Show

  1. When you first come in, you’ll get a bag to carry all the swag you’ll receive. Get out a pen and have it handy because you’ll be able to sign up for info, giveaways, and coupons. If you can score a second bag, grab it, and I’ll tell you what to do below next.
  2. If you’ve been engaged a while, and have most of your vendors, go right to the ones you don’t have. It will be hard, but skip all the other ones. Unless they have food, and you want to eat it. Then stop and get food! At the Southern Bridal SHow and Expo, there’s usually champagne! I like that, even though I have a company policy not to drink on the job.
  3. If you’re newly engaged, take your time. Let this be your opportunity to see what you see and strikes your fancy.
  4. ABOVE ALL, have fun! Make a date of it, or a bridesmaids outing, or bring whoever wants to come along. Don’t go alone. I love when I see both sets of parents and the couple, or a bride and her maids come by. They’re having fun, and I love seeing the excitement and anticipation from everyone.


What to do AFTER a Bridal Show

Remember that second bag I told you about? It’s for presorting. If you come across a vendor you loved at the show, put their printed goods in one bag. Put everything else in the second bag, but don’t throw it away. If this idea is overwhelming to you, then use a pen to put a star on vendors you like a lot and keep everything in the same bag.  Then do the following.

  1. Take a day. Seriously. Let your bag or bags sit. Enjoy some wine or a beer and Netflix.
  2. The next day, or whenever you’re ready, sit down with the bag, and start sorting. If you used the two bag method, go into your favorites bag and pull out the material and sort into vendor types, venues, DJ’s, Cakes, Caters, Photographers, etc. Over the next few days, email or call them for more information. Set up consultations or ask about pricing. If those vendors are out of budget, or turn out to not be a good fit or are booked on your date, then repeat with the second bag. You’ll find someone you love!
  3. If you used the one bag method, sort through dividing by vendor types, and then pull out the materials you marked as a favorite. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Take a break when you need to. Don’t let wedding planning drag you down. Pair the sorting with some netflix (I like netflix.), wine ( I also love that) or friends. Do you.


Have any more questions? Need more suggestions? Contact me! I’d love to meetup and chat about what to do after a bridal show, or weddings, or anything else on your mind!

Happy Planning!


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