12 things to ask at your first meeting with a Wedding Photographer

A part of my job is getting to know other photographers and “talking shop” with local wedding vendors. We often discuss nightmares we have heard about or seen happening to local brides and cringe. It helps keep me on my toes and thinking of every different contingency to protect my clients from heartache. Here are just a few tips I think are imperative to ask your potential wedding photographer and yourself. It is great if a person comes to you highly recommended by a friend or other vendor but I cannot stress enough the importance that you do some digging yourself first before booking.

1. Will they be available the entire day of your wedding in case you should desire more hours of coverage?

I recently stepped in and shot just one portion of a wedding day for someone because their photographer informed them the week of the wedding that they would not be coming prior to 1pm that day. You need to know that you have that day booked off with them and what their limitations are concerning hours of coverage (some will not work over a certain number of hours). You don’t need to know exactly what your timeline will be before reaching out to book a photographer but it will give you peace of mind to know they won’t be booking other gigs or making other plans the same day as your wedding.

2. How many weddings do they shoot on a weekend?

This is controversial. Some photographers are full of energy and they can keep up with 3 weddings in one weekend. Sometimes these weddings are located hours from each other meaning your photographer will be up pretty late and driving very early to get to you on time. I personally have turned away weddings for this very reason. I know my physical limitations and try to work within them. It will be up to you to decide if you are ok with this. This is by no means a deal breaker. Go with your gut on this one and don’t be afraid to ask.Untitled-2

3. (This is one to ask yourself) Could I be friends with this person? Are they “likeable”?

Yes they are doing a job for you but this is a job that involves a level of comfort. Someone may charge the right price but you just don’t jive with them. Trust me when I say that on your big day you want someone who you AND your wedding party will like. Finding the perfect combination between a person who brings an awesome experience to your wedding day on top of bringing their artistic eye and technical expertise is the perfect combination when searching out the right photographer for you. Another reason why this can really pay off for you is that photographers who easily make friends usually have a network behind them that they can use in a pinch. For instance; they know who to go to in case of emergencies, and those people are happy to come to their aid. This means they know who to call if for instance a card malfunctions after the fact. They know who to ask to replace them if they should all of a sudden get appendicitis. Never underestimate the power of networking and genuine kindness.

DISCLAIMER: Just because someone is your friend or a family friend does not mean they are a good fit. They may not have the same artistic style as you, or they may be LESS professional than another photographer, in a way that could and has ruined a wedding day for many brides. Having said this if your friend happens to be super professional and very talented, hire away! (but get a contract).Untitled-3

4. Do they use a wedding contract?

If a photographer’s contract is done properly it will not only protect them it will also protect your best interests as well. It will clearly state expectations for your own peace of mind. It can also give you an indication of what the “in case of emergency” procedure is with your photographer. ALWAYS get a contract. Friend, family or not. Anyone who shoots weddings without one is a huge red flag.

5. Do they have insurance?

This is important, and in fact I was asked this by a bride not long ago, because her photographer friend had told her to (now that’s a good friend). Insurance covers many things that could happen on your wedding day. Including any property theft of the photographer’s equipment or damages any drunk guests may inflict – to their equipment or perhaps to themselves (if they trip over a stand). The very fact a photographer has taken this precaution speaks volumes about how seriously they take their business. And trust me, you don’t want amateurs capturing your big day.

6. Do they have a back-up camera and lenses?

Professionals always have two camera bodies at least with them and several different lenses for different purposes. This means that if for some reason one camera dies inexplicably (yeah it happens) they aren’t deterred and just grab their other camera and keep going. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. They have to have two camera bodies and several lenses or do not hire them. Unless iphone pictures of your big day are fine with you.Untitled-1

7. (Another one for you) What does your spidey sense tell you?

Having worked with other photographers and hearing all about how some do business I can say their are a few bad apples ( LOADS of great sweet awesome apples too!). Some unsavory photographers WILL lie to your face to get the gig. It’s a very saturated field and a lot of people are clamoring for a piece of the wedding pie and not all brides are savvy about what to watch-out for. They can’t tell the difference between a highly interactive and hands on professional photographer (one who eats sleeps and breathes what they do) and one who is moonlighting and will show up on the day-of and be nothing like what you had hoped. Money is their only “why” factor and they will say what it takes to get yours. Yes we all need money and we should get paid for our hard work but a good photographer should have an actual love for their clients and weddings. In fact it happens from time to time that people steal images from much better photographers and pass them off as their own online on listing sites like Kijiji or even on websites they create. One of my absolute favorite photographers had this happen to him and it was a long while before the matter was discovered and could be dealt with. In the meantime the unscrupulous photographer booked weddings with unsuspecting brides using stolen photos as bait.  Be thorough about researching your short list of potential photographers. Look at their FB page. Check out their Instagram. Some due diligence may save you a ton of issues down the road. If they don’t have any social media presence, there could be something amiss.

8. Will they be the one shooting your wedding?

Many photographers subcontract others to work for them. This means that you may not be working with the person you wanted the day of your wedding. Be upfront and ask them. If they intend to give you another photographer ask for a portfolio of images ONLY taken by the photographer you will have so you know exactly what you will be getting.

9. Have they shot weddings alone or as the lead photographer?

Every photographer starts somewhere. I certainly seconded a bunch of weddings before I felt comfortable enough to shoot one of my own. Pricing should generally reflect experience, but of course, your style and taste are important factors too.  Most often though, you get what you pay for.  Consider if having a more experienced photographer will give you peace-of-mind.

10. What is their process for protecting image files?

Instead of film, most photographers now shoot digitally. Cards, like film, are not failsafe. Photographers all have different ways of protecting your images from this happening. One way is to shoot on smaller cards and keep switching out. This way if a card fails, it will only be a small number of images affected, not your entire wedding day. Another way is the one I use. I shoot to dual card slots. This means that I capture RAW images to two different cards at the exact same time. This method has never failed me once. The one time I had an issue with a corrupted card I simply pulled the other card and all of the images were intact on that one.

11. How long should you expect to wait for edits? Will they provide sneaks?

This only matters if you want your images pronto. We all have different work volume, process and editing style. For some, delivery may take one week, for others, several months. Neither process is wrong. The important thing is that your contract should specify your wait time so you know for sure when you will be getting your images. Do you love the photographers editing style and feel it’s worth the wait? Are you keen to hire someone who is so in-demand that it pushes their editing schedule back? These are all trade off’s. There is no right or wrong answer it is simply important to know the timeframe and set your expectations accordingly.Untitled-4

12. Will they be staying after shooting and do they drink at weddings they shoot?

This is more a note to you then a question for them and it depends on what you are comfortable with. We often get asked to stay and have fun after our shooting hours are over. While at this point we usually consider you good friends, it is not always a good idea. Through the day your guests have identified us as the photographers and will continue to come up to us asking for us to shoot pictures pretty much until we leave. Also, our cameras and cards now contain the images from your entire wedding. Leaving them in a car or at a table is not a good idea.  I do not drink at weddings and I like to run home right after the shoot day is done and I have said my goodbyes, to immediately transfer all images to my editing rig and backup drives. I then look through to ensure all images are accounted for and to pick out the “sneak-peek” images to put aside to edit first. Sometimes errors happen during the conversion process so it’s important to watch for and correct these. This can be a lengthy process, and not something I’d want to do after a few drinks or while exhausted. Having said that, I have mastered the art of dancing with my camera in-hand. Sometimes it makes people laugh or smile which makes for some sweet pics. Finding the delicate balance between fun and professional in a photographer can be like hunting down a unicorn so when you find it, snatch it up! 😀

One last note: If a price is too good to be true, odds are, it is! So read the fine print and do your research. I have heard of people getting a “good deal” and the photographer literally forgetting to bring their camera to the engagement shoot. Photos are the record of your day and 50 years from now, you and your family will still be enjoying them. Invest in a high quality and experienced photographer and you won’t regret it.

I hope this helps a few brides. The best way to ensure the best experience for everyone is to ask as many questions as possible so everyone knows exactly what to expect.

Have a beautiful day!

Janelle

 

 

 

 

 

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My Clients Rock

DSC09870Im not just saying that because they pay my bills. Im not just saying that because they help feed my 6 year old son and I. I’m saying it because it’s the truth. Somehow along the way I made a pact with myself. Cool people only. By cool I mean genuine, good natured and sweet. Real and true salt of the earth people. That’s my clients.

Early on in my career I worked with another photographer to help hone my skills. I also offered free shoots to build my portfolio as most photographers do. These were invaluable lessons. I learned that first of all never do anything for free (Even if it means charging 20 dollars for a day of work). Oddly you get the most demanding and unappreciative clients when you work for nothing. Secondly I learned to not take on just any client that comes along. Sometimes I am just not the right fit for a client but I know someone whose personality and style would groove perfectly with them so I always refer in that case.

Not everyone needs to appreciate what I do. Not everyone needs to like my style of shooting or appreciate the value of having precious photographic keepsakes. I get that. I won’t sell it to anyone who doesn’t want it or for a second try to convince them otherwise. Luckily I have found amazing people in our community and outside who get what I do. They get the way I do it. I don’t just want to shoot your wedding day. I want to be a positive part of it. I don’t just want to shoot your kid’s mini session, I want to be someone your child looks forward to seeing for sessions and asks to carry them between shots.

In my job and at a wedding for a day I’m in the family. Im a part of it all. And I love it. Somehow I seem to attract the sweetest clients on earth. Not sure exactly how I do it but I continue to be in awe of it all. The love, the sweetness and the beauty of this job of mine and the beautiful people it introduces me to is something I am forever grateful for. Kind people. Full of grace, gratitude and kindness. Im such a lucky girl and as usual can only say to you wonderful people(you know who you are) Thank YOU.

 

 

Respecting Client Wishes in a Digital age: Is sharing really caring?

I am taking a break from my interviews, shoots and editing schedule for a moment to address an issue I see brought up often in photographers communities regarding sharing images from shoots. How do we as photographers follow our clients wishes for privacy and still do the level of promotion demanded in a digital age?12124257_10153601589364326_1935397683_o

Photo cred: the oh so lovely Nikki Rennie of Niche Photography

I sometimes get asked by clients that images be kept out of social media (usually this happens before the shoot is booked). Boudoir shoots for instance have a higher rate of requests for privacy.

Photographers will tell you that they have all rights to the images they take and that is true. Photographers are seen as artists and the work they produce is considered “theirs” by copyright laws. I often see posts in photographers community groups where a photographer is complaining openly about a request for privacy from a client. So who is right and who is wrong? The client for wanting more privacy or the Photographer who feels they have created something amazing and wish to share it with the world?

The answer to me has always been both are right. Yes it’s a confusing issue but I believe with transparency up front a lot can be gained for the client and the photographer. Here are my recommendations:

For a photography client seeking privacy: State what you want in the very beginning. Photographers that have established careers and a large portfolio are more likely to gladly grant your request for privacy. We are often too busy to post anyways. However they may charge you a service fee for this. Consider that the majority of clients are fine with sharing and that these images could potentially get a photographers work published or they could win a competition with it or garner more clients once they see them. This means they will have to forgo many things that are considered to be the norm for photographers. If they are in demand they may turn you down at this request simply because they know another client will want your time slot and not have such a request. I have to keep notes on file to remind me of which shoots are to remain private. Many photographers may worry they cannot possibly keep track of what is to remain private (although this sounds like a small feet it is not when you consider the volume of shoots we must store). So be upfront at the very beginning and see how the photographer handles your request. Whatever you do dont make this request AFTER the shoot as you may not like the response.

For a photographer: If you’re starting out you may think this is a deal breaker but if it is a paid shoot think again. It’s still you getting paid to hone your craft. If it is a FREE shoot for your portfolio and privacy is an issue walk away. A long time ago artistic works could only be seen by those in the presence of the physical work. Now everything is blasted across the globe. Perhaps you are protected legally by the law to share your work as you see fit and have even had clients sign releases as an extra guarantee (a good idea if sharing to promote is a non-negotiable for you) BUT are you morally behaving in a way you wish to be known for by clients? Only you can answer that question.

For myself I will continue to protect my clients desire for privacy in a world where privacy is almost non-existent. Even if a picture looks amazing to me and I wish so badly I could share it (this has happened a few times). I will not. Does this limit my ability to book more shoots as I cannot fully promote my brand when I can’t share all of my shoots? Perhaps. However in my experience having overjoyed clients has meant more bookings for me than any online campaign. The work I have been able to share and maintaining a reputation as someone who loves and appreciates their clients has been enough for me.

To understand the copywrite law in regards to Photographers in Ontario take a look at this amazing article on CAPIC.ORG

And that brings me to another hot topic photography issue: How much social media sharing (on facebook and Insta) is appropriate for a photography business. I have compiled a few notes from the experts on what is appropriate and what is overkill and will in fact lose you clients and followers at the end of the day. That will all be covered in my next photography blog post!

Have a beautiful day!

Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: Bridal Creations & Murano’s Formalwear

Picking out THE perfect dress should be an amazing, exciting and fun experience.  Stephen Murano, owner of Bridal Creations and Murano’s Formalwear has helped countless brides achieve just that. I have known Stephen for several years now and a story he told me about playing in the Bridal Creations back office as a child, sticks in my mind.  He grew up immersed in the family business.  Training in all things wedding began early.  Stephen is a true expert in his field. I am so happy to have had the chance to interview Stephen and I can say first hand that shopping at Bridal Creations (where I found my own wedding dress) is a wonderful experience. The atmosphere is luxe and you’re pampered by the terrific team.

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  • What are some of the advantages of going with a local boutique for wedding attire?

    A local boutique will always go that extra mile for you. With having a small business our goal is to give the customer the total bridal experience and not just a simple sale. We become friends with our clients and it’s a rewarding aspect for both sides as we gain a customer for life. Another big reason is that we local boutiques understand that business is all about referrals and word of mouth, so simply put if we do our job and treat you as well as you deserve than you will be helping us find our next client!20160120-112133
  • What advice do you give to a bride and groom if they aren’t sure what style of clothing they should go with?

    Be open to suggestions. We always like for a bride to have a style or shape of dress in mind when visiting us however we do like to be able to give expert advice or potentially alternate looks to showcase. If for nothing else, showing different options will help determine “the one”.20160120-111328
  • Who should the bride bring with her while she is dress shopping?

    This is definitely not a standard answer as each group should be different depending on the bride and the personalities of her group. Bringing mom, maid of honor and bridesmaids (some if not all) is very common and it makes for a fun experience in most cases, however it’s crucial for the bride that she is given honest feedback from her group. (for example sometimes we run into the “too-positive-mom” character, and they are the sweetest people, however they love every single dress the bride tries on and doesn’t help in the overall decision when it comes down to narrowing options). More often than in years past we are seeing brides come in alone or with just one other person and make an easy decision finding the dress. Truthfully this is a grey area and it all depends on the bride and the type of support she needs.20160120-112328
  • What are the Wedding dress trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

    The main style we are most frequently asked from brides walking into an appointment is for “fit and flare” or “mermaid” style dresses. Designers have done a great job of making these fitted styles more comfortable and versatile than years past where lack of mobility in the dress was a complaint. Empire and A-Line dresses are still strong for us and continually being looked at by our clients and tried on. The main change going forward is the stronger implement of satin dresses and less lace going forward as designers push for trends to change.20160120-111345
  • How much time does a bride need to order a dress in and have it ready for the wedding?

    Most designers take a maximum of 6 months to arrive and it’s always great to have at least 2-3 months for alteration fittings to ensure a perfect dress. However, if it’s possible to give yourself a full year, it will be more of a relaxed process, given that you will be in no rush or stress and time is on your side to make any changes if they come up.
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  • Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you get into the wedding boutique business and what is your favorite part about your job?

    I’m not sure if there’s anything about myself worth highlighting, however I am a pretty lucky person to have a business like this at a young age and be able to help so many people yearly with their special days. When my mother Pina Murano, the original owner, got diagnosed with cancer a second time, i decided to leave school a year early and come and help run the business and as her health declined I took more and more of a role running the business. It’s a very rewarding type of work, my favorite aspect of this job to be honest is sitting down with a couple and giving them as much free vital advice for them going forward as I possibly can. I always say I am the best “free wedding planner” out there. I love to help people and it’s a pleasure seeing so many happy married couples out there we had the pleasure to work with.20160120-113604
  • What should a bride look for when selecting a bridal boutique to work with?

    Our first objective when a bride comes to our store is not just to find her a dress, but to show her that we can be trusted and we want to go the extra mile for her. Once she realizes that we will do our best to make her as happy as possible and the perfect atmosphere is established, then the dress selection will be easier than they thought. Being a big store having much stock as we fortunately do, we have a style of dress and a price point to match for every bride. But as I learned many years ago from my family “Price is only an objection in the absence of value”. Our small bridal boutiques will always go the extra mile and give brides a service that will never be matched. It’s the reason we have been successful for over 21 years and counting!!!!

    Always so fun to talk to Stephen and he really is a wealth of knowledge on the subject of local weddings. Always humble and ready to help he is a joy to work with.

Click here for Bridal Creations and Murano’s Formalwear website

Click here to like their Facebook page

Kingston Ontario Designer Interview

I am a huge fashion enthusiast and an accessory junkie. I love meeting with local talent. Designer and owner of Wicked Stitch, Jess Boland creates scarves for all seasons, and her designs are one of a kind. 20160122-00005

  • Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you decide to start Wicked Stitch?

    I am 29 years old, and I was born and raised here in Kingston. When I was 22, I moved to St. John’s Newfoundland for three years, which is where I acquired much of my appreciation for fashion, art and music. There is such an amazingly rich arts culture there, it is hard to spend a significant amount of time in the midst of it all and not come away changed in some way. Wicked Stitch is in its third year and it still sometimes feels like it sort of started itself. I acquired a super sweet sewing machine from a coworker for a great deal (cheap would be an understatement), and spent much of December 2013 sewing at my kitchen table and selling simple fabric infinity scarves to friends and family for next to nothing. It wasn’t until I started putting faux fur and repurposed leather pieces in the scarves and sourcing unique fabric that the demand increased to the point where I had to start putting customers on a waiting list – that was when I realized I had a legitimate business opportunity on my hands. It is a weird feeling when you reach the point where your immediate family members aren’t your only customers! I guess that is the goal, right?Quote
  • What inspires you creatively when designing a scarf?

    I am inspired by a lot of different things when designing scarves. Sometimes it will be something like an interesting thrift store leather coat that speaks to me. Sometimes it’s a friend’s shirt, or an outfit of my own that is lacking something specific. I am never one to jump wholeheartedly on the bandwagon with whatever is super trendy… I tend of go for classic, comfy and cozy style, and timeless colours, patterns and materials. This is true in my own wardrobe and I think my scarves reflect that to a certain degree. You just can’t go wrong pairing leather and flannel – it’s like they were made to be together.01-Gold-Confetti
  • Do you have any advice for others wanting to start a local business?

    Network, network, network! Your greatest resource is the community of local business owners around you. The more people you can connect with and learn from, the better. I have found that people are often very receptive if you take the time to reach out. In addition to that, if you try to think in terms of how you can help other business owners and what you might have to offer them, rather than what they can offer you, it is a super effective way of building long-lasting connections and mutually beneficial relationships. It feels great!
  • What is your favorite part of making the scarves?

    I really love everything about making my scarves – from design, to sewing, to connecting with customers. I am really obsessed with fabric – I may or may not have an entire room in my house dedicated to fabric storage – so I love scrutinizing over fabric colours, patterns and textures. BUT, if I have to choose a favourite thing about Wicked Stitch, I know hands down that it is connecting with my customers. When people get excited about my stuff, or feel like they’re purchasing the perfect gift for someone special in their life, it feels incredible. It is especially cool when I get to do commissioned pieces and I am able to make someone’s vision come to life for them. For example, before Christmas I was asked to create a set of flannel memory scarves for a lady using her late father’s old flannel shirts. It was an honour to be trusted with repurposing such treasured garments. I am told that they went over very well with her mum and sisters!
  • Can you give us some info on what is coming up for Wicked Stitch?

    It’s going to be a big year! I am looking forward to getting my online store up and running in time for my spring/summer line. Without giving away too much, I will just say that you can expect more classic Wicked Stitch, but in breathable, light-weight materials and designs that will be perfect for summer evenings spent on the water, by the campfire or on a patio downtown… my favourite places. I am also hoping to acquire some studio space outside my home this year, so stayed tuned for a place that you can come visit me in person! No doubt, my husband will be ecstatic to reclaim some table space at home ☺20160122-00001

I am really looking forward to seeing this lady’s spring and summer line of scarves! To follow Wicked Stitch online, like these pages:

Wicked Stitch Facebook Page click here

Wicked Stitch Instagram Page

And you can shop Wicked Stitch Here!!!

Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: Choosing a Videographer

I often get asked for referrals from brides looking for a videographer. Now more than ever wedding videography has become one of the most artistic and beautiful ways to honor and forever cherish those special moments when you say “I do”. I sat down with someone I truly enjoy working with, Erica Groves, to ask her a few questions for brides trying to decide on the right Videographer for them.

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What should brides ask a Videographer before booking them?

The Bride and Groom should first and foremost ask for some examples of their work. Preferably several different videos and their most recent work. Although training, experience and knowledge of the equipment they use is good to know, the work speaks for itself. If you like what you see, ask about the steps you need to take to secure your date. Usually a deposit and a contract are required to secure your spot. It is very common practice for companies to have several different freelance workers hired to shoot or edit for them during a busy wedding season. Reputable companies would of course hire professional and talented people to work under their name but always clarify who will be shooting and editing your footage. If it is not the business owner, ask to see examples of the freelancer’s work.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you decide to become a Videographer?

There wasn’t really a point in time that I decided to become a videographer. I’ve always known that video was my career path. A friend of mine actually has some dusty old VHS tapes of us kids putting on productions in her basement. I think that might have been the beginning of my love for video! So thank you Megan’s parents for having a video camera in the early 90’s! haha! In high school I had a wonderful Com Tech teacher, Mr. Freestone. He knew I had a passion for video and really nurtured my love for production. He even created a course just for me so I could continue to work on those skills after I had taken all of the Com Tech classes that were available! After high school I was accepted into the Television and New Media Course at Loyalist College and graduated in 2004. This course was incredible. It taught us everything from script writing, studio production, post production, news gathering, business and marketing etc. That three year course was invaluable to me. I learned so much and I utilize the skills and training it gave me still to this day. A few years after graduation I built up the courage to start my own production company. I took a 6 week business course at Trenval and with their support, along with the support of my friends and family, I continue to happily work in my field of choice. I feel very blessed every day.
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How do you inject a couple’s personality into their video?

Whenever a Bride and Groom send me an email after receiving their video expressing how happy they are with the results, my heart fills with joy and my first instinct is to always say “You guys did it!”. I know that I’m the one that films their day and edits the footage but I really do feel like the Bride and Groom are what make the video special. Photographers are very hands on when it comes to Bride and Grooms on their wedding days-they have to be! Posing and setting up shots is part of their job. My job as a videographer is a bit different. I’m there to capture the day as it unfolds. I get all of the candid stuff in between poses. That’s what makes a video so special. I love hearing the giggles between the Bride and Groom as they are staring at one another inches away from each others faces … *sigh*. It never gets old.
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Why should couples hire a Videographer?

Couples should hire a videographer because at the end of the day, what are you left with? 20 years down the road you aren’t going to pull out seat covers, flowers or centre pieces to remember your day. You will pull out your photos and video. Not that the decorative details don’t matter. I had my wedding and those things were important to me too! That’s why budgets are so tricky. Ever since I started I have tried to keep my prices as competitive as possible because I know how important video footage of your wedding day is. Not just footage of the Bride and Groom either! When I shoot a wedding I always make sure to get footage of Parents, Grandparents, friends and family. There is something special about watching and hearing your wedding day on top of having still photographs of it. So many times I hear from past clients that hiring a videographer was the best decision they made. I always encourage people in the wedding party or family members to chip in if budget is a concern. They are getting the couple a wedding gift anyways, why not get them a gift that lasts a lifetime?ERICA4

What are one of your favorite memories from a wedding you shot?

That is such a tough question! There have been many. One that I can think of was from this past summer. The Bride and Groom had purchased these very large sparklers for their guests to light and stand in a circle around them as they had their first dance. When Jess (the Bride) first mentioned this I have to admit, I was concerned! But when they took to the patio outside of their reception hall and those sparklers lit up … it was magical. The video looked amazing.
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What is your favorite part about your job? Editting? Shooting?

My favourite part of my job is hearing how happy the couple is with their video. And not for ego reasons haha! I really think it’s so rare that someone gets to do a job where you bring happiness and joy to other people as a result of something that you made for them. Making people happy is the best feeling in the world. In terms of shooting and editing … I can’t really choose! Shooting is great because I’m a people person so I love getting out there and being smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of wedding days. Plus I meet so many great people along the way! Guests AND other people in the wedding industry! But I also love being a hermit too, so at the end of a very busy wedding season I am perfectly happy to close the door to my office to start reliving all of the beautiful wedding days I had experienced all summer long. Once April hits though I am usually vibrating to get back out there. I get the best of both worlds I guess! 🙂

You can check out Erica’s work at

And like her Facebook page here

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Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: How to Select an Event Planner for your Wedding

I met with Event Planner Krista Stechyson of Smart Weddings and Events to find out as much info as possible for local brides and came away with a lot of helpful information. I can see why brides would want someone like her there for them leading up to and on their wedding day. I know as a photographer it always makes my job easier when the couple has booked a good planner.

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Why should couples hire a Wedding Planner?

Some people think that hiring a wedding planner is only for the rich and famous, but that is not true! I work with all kinds of different couples with all sizes of budgets. Wedding planning can be stressful and time consuming and many couples have work, family and personal commitments that don’t allow for enough free time to plan the wedding. Having a professional planner can take a lot of that pressure off and allow the couple to enjoy the process and their big day! Just a few things that wedding planners and coordinators can assist you with include:
– We have experience with vendors and suppliers that we know are trustworthy and reliable, and we can provide you with guidance on who will meet the needs of your wedding.
– We will keep your budget on track and can suggest the venues and suppliers that will work best for you.
– We will liaise and be the main point of contact with all of your vendors and create a timeline for the day so that everyone knows when and where they need to be at all times.
– You have amazing ideas and a vision for your day and we will know how to execute it in reality.
– Many couples live outside of the area where they are planning their wedding and want someone local to be responsible for getting the details of the wedding together.
– We will be there in person on your wedding day and available throughout the entire process to ensure the set-up, rehearsal and big day go off exactly as planned.
– We can think of logistics ahead of time that someone planning a wedding for a first time wouldn’t think about – who is picking up the flowers, will the bridesmaids have a meal prior to the ceremony, how are the groomsmen getting to the ceremony if the limo is picking up the bridesmaids, who is taking the gifts and cards home after the ceremony, etc.
– We’re there for guidance, support and encouragement throughout.
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 Give us some examples of emergencies that a Planner can be of great help in fixing on the big day?

I try to plan for every eventuality ahead of the wedding. I always confirm with vendors, ensure everyone is paid and that all parties involved know when to arrive and where to be, but there are some things that can still be out of your control. A few small emergencies where I was able to manage the unexpected this past year include:
– I had to drive a guest back to their hotel during the reception, in a blizzard, because they forgot the game that the couple asked them to bring to the dance.
– I rushed to pick up eyelash glue because the Bride’s false eyelashes were starting to fall off.
– I had to move the ceremony chairs inside last minute because of an unexpected storm.
– I fixed the icing on the wedding cake when a small child decided to take a bite while no one was watching.
– I arranged last minute transportation for an elderly family member who had a fall earlier in the day and wasn’t able to make it into the family limo to go to the ceremony.
– I sewed a groomsman into his pants because the suspenders broke and he didn’t have a belt. I bring an emergency kit with me to every wedding to fix makeup, clothing, décor and anything else that may occur. My job is to ensure there is a solution to any issue that may come up and that the couple and their families continue to enjoy the day without having to stress over these details!
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What are three questions couples should ask planners before they hire them?

I always encourage an in-person meeting prior to reserving with a couple so that we can get to know each other and ensure that it will be a good fit. This is a great opportunity for both the bridal couple and the planner to ask questions so they can get to know each other. My suggestions for questions to ask a wedding planner during an initial consultation:
1) Ask what their wedding and event experience is. Find someone with real knowledge, contacts and a background in event planning. Don’t be afraid to ask for references!
2) Ask what is included in each package. Most wedding planners offer a day of coordination and a full wedding planning package. Ensure that the package that you are interested in is the right fit and that it works with your needs.
3) Ask for ideas for your wedding to see how creative they are and whether your visions line up. This one is a bit trickier and the planner may have to get back to you with a proposal with ideas but it is important to see what they can come up with. You want to ensure that the planner sees your vision and doesn’t provide “cookie cutter” suggestions. We may not divulge all of our trade secrets until after a contract is signed, but most planners would be happy to provide complimentary suggestions and ideas.
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 What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

I am noticing that there is a trend towards classic weddings, instead of rustic. For the last few years rustic chic was the look that was in fashion but I see that a lot of couples are moving back towards the more formal and traditional reception. I am sure we will still be seeing mason jar centrepieces for a few more years to come, though! Naked cakes are all the rage this year! This is when you have a traditional tiered wedding but it is not covered in fondant or buttercream icing and is left un-iced. It creates a gorgeous natural look.
I also think we will be seeing more bright colours for weddings in 2016. The palette for weddings over the last few years has been soft, ethereal and romantic – think blush, cream and ivory. In 2016 we are seeing bright, vibrant pops of colour everywhere. Purples, reds, yellows and lots of tone-on-tone colours (different shades of the same colour) will be the new trend!
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How do you inject a couple’s personalities and taste into an event?

I think the measure of a good planner is to be able to read the clients’ needs and desires so you are able to provide them with their vision for the day. I always have an initial consultation where I ask all kinds of questions in order to get a full picture of their wedding. I also ask for plenty of photos (or their Pinterest board) so I can get a good idea of their style. Once I get to know the client I am then able to make suggestions for vendors that will fit with their personalities and that will work with their aesthetic and point of view. Every event is unique and I pride myself with being able to provide a one of a kind day for each couple.
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Why did you decide to become a planner and how long have you been doing it?

I have been planning events for as long as I can remember. I organized my first “real” event, a large conference for teachers when I was 15, and I haven’t looked back since. I studied commerce in university and continued to work in the event industry during those four years and that is when I first started working with bridal clients. I was a catering manager for the University of Guelph and we held all types of weddings on site, from intimate ceremonies in the Arboretum to 400 person sit down meals in a grand hall. I moved to Kingston after graduation and started working in the hotel industry managing the catering department at a downtown property. While there I worked with many wedding couples, as well as planned corporate and social events. While living in the United States for a few years with my husband I decided I was ready to start my own business, a dream of mine for a while. I opened the business slowly while I was there and then when we moved back to Kingston a few years later I ramped the business to what it is today. I have worked on hundreds of weddings over the past 12 years and have operated my business for just over 2 years in Kingston. It is my passion to bring my years of experience, my organizational skills and creativity to my clients.
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What is one of your absolute favorite memories from a wedding you planned?

It is a bit of a bittersweet memory: I helped an amazing couple plan their wedding extremely quickly, in less than one month, because they received devastating news that the bride’s father had an aggressive terminal illness. They wanted to ensure that they would not have to compromise on their day, even with the short timeline. We pulled out all of the stops and made sure the wedding was fabulous. The father daughter dance was so touching; there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was a privilege to help this family have this wonderful memory. The father passed away two weeks after the wedding.

Thanks so much to Krista for taking the time to give us all this great information and I’m sure she shares with me in the sentiment that we hope it helps many a bride while planning her big day!

Kingston Expert Interview Series: How to select a Makeup expert for your wedding

To start off my series of interviews with local wedding event experts I thought I would speak with one of the first vendors you see the day of your wedding. As head makeup and Esthetics person at FAB Hair & Esthetics Kristin Melo was a natural choice to interview.

  • Why is it important for brides to get an expert to do their makeup?

The #1 thing for Brides is the photos; you will be looking back on them for years to come. You want to look flawless! All eyes will be on you. A expert MU has the training, tips and tricks to take you out of your comfort zone and ensure that it lasts from start to finish.

  • What important questions should brides ask a makeup specialist before booking?

Just one question needs to be asked, “Is there anything I need to do in preparation for my makeup?” I always ask my clients to come with clean and HYDRATED skin. Hydration is key to having the foundation look natural. If a customer has extremely dry, flaky skin I will suggest a series of facials and products to prepare their skin for a perfect Make-up application.

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  • How much time should brides give themselves for makeup?

Minimum 45 minutes to an hour. Application of false lashes takes additional time. Make sure to let your artist know if you want to wear them.

  • What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year in makeup?

Soft and fresh-faced is one that is being seen on the runway a lot this year. Think rosy cheeks, pretty pink lips and lightly lined eyes. This look plays up your natural beauty. You may think that this is easy enough to do on your own, but it’s not! Make-up looks very different in photos. Less is not more in this situation. A expert Make-up artist knows how to give you a natural look and still have it show up in the pictures.

  • Are there any must have beauty products you think a bride shouldn’t do without?

Eye and face primer. It’s the only thing that will stop your makeup from wearing off through the day.

  • Why did you decide to become an Esthetician and how long have you been doing it?

My best friend was going away to college. There was no way she was going without me! I flipped through various College course books. I had no idea what I wanted to do. When I came across the Esthetics program it was like a light bulb went off inside my head. “Ah-ha!!” I instantly knew I had chosen the right career. I have always been interested in the beauty industry. As a young girl I would play pretend and make a Spa in my parent’s living room. My mother would come home from work and I would massage her feet and hands. She loved it! Sleepovers were the best at my place. We would lay in the sun, tanning, with cucumbers or tea bags on our eyes and a hair mask in our hair made from mayonnaise. None of my girlfriends were surprised to hear I had chosen to be a Esthetician, I was OBSESSED with all things beauty. I watched my older sister do her makeup with envy. I used my mother’s firming face masks at the age of 10 and stole her nail polish every chance I got. I’ve been doing Esthetics/ Make-up for over 15 years. I absolutely love my job and it shows through in my work.

  • What is one of your favorite parts about your job?

I love the interactions with clients. It’s a very social career. You develop a friendship and a admiration for one another. I’ve met some amazing people over the years.

 

Lets Get Gritty in 2016

3 Practical Ways to Get Your Grit on

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I saw an amazing talk by Angela Lee-Duckworth not that long ago and it inspired me to build up my grit. A new year is upon us  and that old desire to change and grow is surfacing within most. Here are three ways to focus on how to build grit.

 

1)Take the challenge and make it compelling:

You must set goals or resolve to make change happen in your life to see any growth and be clear about what you want. If you don’t set goals for yourself now you will not find yourself in a magically better situation later. If your goals are hazy so will be your results. You can’t build a muscle without using it and you cannot build grit without pushing yourself in some way towards something of true meaning to you. So set a goal today. Not because it’s the first day of January but because that’s who you are or genuinely want to become. To achieve your goal, you must be a gritty, tenacious and dedicated person. Make that goal compelling. Let passion be your guide and then build that passion to a fever pitch. I say build because that is what must happen. Like an ember is tended to and built upon before it becomes a roaring fire, you must find that which ignites you and then focus intently upon it.

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2)Failure is a yield sign, not a stop sign:

Thomas Edison is attributed with the quote “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Be grateful for failures as they give us the ability to course-correct. Resilience is the persistence to push on in the face of set-backs.  Success can only come by accepting risk and embracing challenge and the possibility of failure.  If the idea of failing is daunting, just do as Edison did and refuse to see anything as failure again but rather a crucial part of your journey to success and nothing more. Thinking of set-backs in this way is called having a “growth mindset”. It’s the ability to see that even in the darkest hour something can be learned and growth still achieved. It’s the idea that failure is not a permanent condition.

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3)Get back-up

While there is conflicting data on whether or not it is a good idea to share goals with others it is definitely a great help to surround yourself with those with grit themselves. I can say that I have seen the advantage of having a support system around first hand. Along my path, my husband has been there with me. He has supported and listened to me while I complained about running my own business, and also when I’ve been discouraged chasing health goals. His empathy, steadfast support, and cheering me on has been an immense help in getting me through tough times. There have been many instances when I’ve felt like giving up on so many things, and he was there to keep me afloat. Find your own cheerleader. Having even just a single truly supportive person, with whom you can share your journey to your dreams, can make all the difference.

Go do it!

Hopefully these ideas will help you to become the grittiest animal on earth, tearing down limitations to become the person you intend to be this year. Get out there and live the life you want to live. Don’t stay comfortable. For added motivation check out Angela’s TED Talk.  I hope you all stay hungry in your pursuit of growth.

 

See Angela’s TED Talk HERE

 

10 Gifts for your favorite Photographer in 2015

‘Tis the season for gift-giving and if someone on your list happens to be a lover of photography (and well, feminine, like moi – SORRY GUYS!!), you have come to the right place!! Lets get to it. We’re losing daylight and shopping days here.

  1. Camera straps are like shoes to a lady photog, you can never have enough. These ones made by FotoStrap are not only customizable but a portion of the proceeds goes to charity. You can have your loved one’s name or even business name, if they are a pro, monogrammed for that extra touch that says you care.On-Camera_Scarlet_Monogrammed_grande

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If she happens to be more into the look of a camera scarf these days, you CAN NOT go wrong with Bloom Theory.

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2. Camera shaped USB Flash Drive: Who doesn’t need an extra flash drive? These camera shaped ones are sure to please even amateur shutterbugs just getting started. 31Rn9msUy5L

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3. Think CUSTOM. Photographers are artists and they love to know that you like their work or see something special about it. That’s why ZAZZLE is a tremendous resource for anyone hunting for the perfect gift for that artistic friend. If you have access to some high resolution jpegs of their work now is the time to get sneaky and put it on a  shirt, mug, iphone case, stickers, notebooks, totes, buttons… ok you get the idea. The options seem endless with Zazzle. My personal favorite is the old customizable mousepad. That way when they are working away on edits they can periodically think of what a supportive sweetie you are. Not to mention the customizable tote with a shot they love on it or business name.

 

Get them here

4.Speaking of totes, that brings me to our next gift that is sure to please your fashionable photographer loved one. Just like straps, you can never have enough camera bags, and the Hanover, made by Jo Totes is the perfect cross between fashion and function. A nifty feature in this bag is the removable insert that could even be used in other bags of similar sizes instantly turning them into camera bags too!! Who doesn’t love options.

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5.What gift gives instant gratification better than an instant camera! I received my first Polaroid camera when I graduated grade 8 and I was overjoyed with it and still have photos I took with that little red number. Now people can really get their craftiness on with Instax cameras and Project Life. It’s the modern woman’s version of memory keeping and journaling and the Instax camera is a great way to get started in documenting life. Or she can simply hang them from the wall with decorative clothes pins. If she is really crafty she can turn her insta pics into tree ornaments. Look here to find out more about Project Life. Project Life products and Instax cameras are sold at Michaels stores.

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6.A Photobook company gift card. This is a very versatile gift as it can be used towards a variety of things that will spark that special someone’s creativity. They could design the perfect canvas, photo book or even coasters. They can have fun showing off their work thanks to you. Many companies offer gift cards. Two of which are Photo book Canada or Shutter Fly.

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7. Creative Live online classes. This is a gift of learning for that budding photographer or seasoned pro alike. In the field of photography, one HAS to be a lifelong student as our industry is ever-changing. The BEST online resource for this is Creative Live. Unfortunately, they currently do not offer gift cards, but Giftly is an online resource that will allow you to give an amount of money with a suggestion of how to spend it, but the recipient has complete flexibility (you are a considerate one, aren’t you). This way you tell them that you know they love photography and getting their creative learning on but hey, if they would rather buy another camera strap, that’s cool too.

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8. Give the gift of inspiration. Books and Magazines are great for this but not all are created equal. My eyes tend to glaze over whenever I look at the photography section of the magazines at my local book store. Every article preaching about gear and the covers heavy on print and light on artistic expression or thoughtfulness. Enter Click Magazine to save the day. Created by an online forum of very talented female photographers who happen to be moms it is a world apart and yet still manages to delve into that technical side of photography. A subscription to this magazine is a gift that will keep giving all year round and they can be proud to have it on their coffee table.

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9. Sometimes the only gift better than jewelry, is jewelry based on your passion. My hubby surprised me with some gorgeous silver camera earrings one year and my clients always notice them. This pendant will be sure to please your shutterbug too.51SHDoQobbL._UY395_

 

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And if the lady prefers rings there is always this gorgeous and budget friendly choice…

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10. And when all else fails go with a mug!

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or here

I hope this list helped and I wish you the best of luck with your gift giving this season. Happy Holidays!!!