Every so often I get an email from a couple, and they’ve attached some images they found on Pinterest. I LOVE these sorts of images and receiving these emails. It’s a beautiful sign that a couple is really excited for their session. The photos are beautifully authentic, people laughing, talking, showing clear, genuine real emotion. So today, I wanted to share 3 easy ways to encourage authentic photos in your session. So without further ado, here they are:

3 easy ways to encourage authentic photos

 

First, talk to each other. Talk about your favorite memory together, the moment you met, and your initial thoughts about each other. When I ask a couple to talk about these things in a session, the result is something that falls somewhere between elation and embarrassment, but no matter how it starts, it ends in laughter and connection. That’s what I look for, that’s what I love and what I’m always so thrilled to see.

3 easy ways to encourage authentic photos

Next, be playful! A lot of photographers like to use the “Walk toward me” prompt. I do it, and it’s beautiful. But while you’re walking and holding hands, maybe pull apart a little, have some playful tension where you pull on each others hands and spread apart, or see just how close you can walk together without looking awkward.

3 easy ways to encourage authentic photos

Finally, when you’re in a pose a photographer sets up for you, say, maybe you’re facing each other and holding hands, try having a conversation that consists of just one word, like spatula. Use voice inflections, or just say it over and over in between kisses until you laugh.

3 easy ways to encourage authentic photos

The thing I love most about these 3 easy easy ways to encourage authentic photos is that you can use them independently of your photographer.  There’s a lot of room for interpretation, and talking and laughing create beautiful light hearted images. And beautiful light hearted images are always unique to you, your own love story, and your life. When you look back on them, you’ll remember some of the things you talked about, and the emotions you felt while taking those pictures.

 

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The Palo Alto Plantation makes me think of this quote I read somewhere that said that a house isn’t a home until there’s been a birth, a wedding in it. Countless families have lived and loved at the Palo Alto. It’s a house that’s seen a lot of history, both good and bad.  There’s been joy, sadness, and hope in the house. And now in this new phase of the Palo Alto Plantation’s life, there’s weddings and love. Tons of Love.

The Palo Alto Plantation in Maysville, NC,  embraces these ideas. The Team at Dream Makers Wedding Estates brought the Palo Alto back from a worn out tired state and breathed into it new life. Stephanie and her team created a space that honors the history of this place  while bringing it into a new place and time. I think it has to be one of the most satisfying jobs to be honest. To walk into a tired old property, one filled to brim with other stories, and to see the new stories that this place can launch. Countless marriages, laughs, tears, all happy, all joyful. It’s beautiful new time for this space.

One of the things I love personally about the Palo Alto Plantation is the beautiful job of restoration. I especially love the floors. When you walk in they’re the one of the first things I noticed and I asked Taylor if they were going to be refinished and she said, No. This this their natural look and that’s how they’ll stay.” I loved the floors, the original bricks in the hearth, the way the rooms all had these lines, built for airflow, but lead from one space into another. It makes my heart skip a beat, people. It was almost too much for me.

I’m looking forward to going back to the Palo Alto to photograph a beautiful coastal North Carolina wedding some day.

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This scene below was my very favorite in the house. Doors leading into each other, providing privacy, but also openness that isn’t an oppressive openness, and how the floor boards direct traffic patterns- inviting you into the house, up the stairs, into the most private parts of the life of the house. I loved that.  If you can spend time dwelling on the concept of hospitality in design, I think the way the builder laid the floorboards is definitely something to consider. The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation The Palo Alto Plantation

Venue: The Palo Alto Plantation/ Dream Makers Wedding Estates

Hair and Make Up: Silver Ceiling Beauty consultants

Dress: Eve of Milady found in The Wedding Dress Shoppe, Wilmington NC

Photography: One Crazy Love

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**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!

XO,

Charity

 

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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