Y’all know I love the National parks! If I could spend all my days driving around the U.S. camping in National Parks I would! But alas…I can’t abandon my whole life to chase buffalos in Gran Teton or hike through the Grand Canyon.
BUT, I do ensure that I get in as much outdoor time as I can afford and intentionally plan these trips into my year. This weekend (tomorrow!!!) I’m off to the Great Smoky Mountains to continue my National park journey, and I’m super pumped! I can’t wait to explore this gorgeous park AND run the #GSMhalf. P.S. – If you’re a runner and you love the outdoors, you should check out Vacation Races!
While I love my park adventures, they do take some planning! Set aside some time to do a little research about the park you have in mind. Trust me, a little planning can go a long way! Here are some things I’ve found helpful in planning National park trips efficiently and on a budget:
01. Find out when free entrance days are! If you’re like me, you’re all about those discounts (#ballinonabudget)! There is normally a small fee to enter National parks, however there are multiple days throughout the year you can go for free! There are still 2017 dates left in September and November. Utilize those free days while you can!
02. If you plan to do lots of exploring, sign up for an annual pass! This will save you money in the long run, and bonus you’ll be giving your hard earned money to a great organization!
03. Do your research! Some companies like Cosmos have tour deals with National parks! This could help guide your whole trip if you’re having trouble going the DIY route.
04. It can be as much as $30 per vehicle to drive through some national parks! Instead of driving, consider riding your bike or walking through instead, it will be much cheaper!
05. Each National park has a trip planner! Be sure that you check it out before you leave home. The planner is filled with loads of great information from where to camp to the best things to do at that park. I’ve been checking out the GSM trip planner, and I think I’m in for some amazing treats!
06. Check out the National park trip idea homepage! There are lots of unexpected options here!
07. Pick off peak travel times (especially for the big name parks)! It’s no fun to prepare a get-a-way trip to then realize that hundreds of other people also had the same idea. Do some research and find out when the peak travel times are for the park you have in mind and then avoid them! For example, I went to the Everglades and Biscayne in December last year, and the parks were pretty empty…it was awesome!
08. Pack lots of everything! Water! Snacks! Sunscreen!
09. Lodging around the big parks like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone can fill up up to a year in advance. Consider camping instead or search for lodging in less known areas.
Are you planning any National park trips this year? If so, I’d love to know about it! AND tell me all about your planning process!
Now…I’m off to pack for my #nationalpark adventure….I may have procrastinated a little too much this time…
Ladies, have you ever been surrounded by a group of women that are continuously positive and loving? Have you ever been totally embraced and welcomed into a group of women without judgement? Have you ever had friends that would drop anything to help you in a time of need? Have you ever sat in a room of women looked around and thought, “THESE are my people!”?
I really hope you have, because women like this are one of the greatest blessings in my life.
I had never met a group of women (and quite frankly didn’t even know it was possible) like this until I moved to Athens, GA. In 2015 I was in search of a dance studio that had adult classes and stumbled upon DanceFx. I didn’t have high expectations because most adult programs I attended in the past have been lackluster at best. But nonetheless, I simply wanted a studio that would allow me to exercise and stretch a few times a week….it seemed like DanceFx would do. Luckily, DanceFx and the community there is nothing like past adult programs I’ve been to.
I stumbled upon a burlesque aerobics class (no it’s not what you think…all clothes are kept on at all times!). I thought it sounded like fun. I nervously entered my first class and a room full of new women, but to my surprise, this group of women instantly welcomed me. We danced and had fun and I started to drive home with a huge smile on my face feeling totally refreshed after each class. So I kept coming back week after week…
Before I knew it these lovely ladies let me join The Modern Pin-Ups and I started attending rehearsals and perfecting pieces to perform. I love support, excitement, and joy that brings everyone together before each show. Each performance was so uplifting and empowering. It was unlike any other group I had danced with before. It felt (and continues to feel) amazing to perform with the most positive, beautiful, and life giving women I know!
My dance time quickly turned from just a work out to me finding a community of women that are like family. Today is an exciting exciting Monday for sure! Today we start a new season together. Today I get to meet some new friends and faces and I can’t wait to welcome them into our little family. I know we have an amazing year ahead of us.
I continuously think about how incredibly grateful I am to have stumbled upon the best group of women in Athens (I may be a little biased). They have transformed the way I value my relationships with other women. I’m pretty sure I would go crazy without them!
These women know how to celebrate beauty and friendship in such a genuine way. This group truly breathes ‘community over competition’ and I think everyone needs a group like this.
I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!
P.S. – If you haven’t found your ‘Modern Pin-Ups’ you need to!
P.P.S. – My beautiful friend Logan also wrote a lovely piece on this great group of women that you should check out! Y’all it’s hard to not write about how great these ladies are!
“He just doesn’t take good pictures. He freezes up in front of the camera.”
“My fiancé is so goofy, I’m not really sure how seriously he’ll take these engagement pictures.”
“He’s a little awkward taking pictures.”
“My fiancé isn’t really comfortable in front of the camera.”
Do any of these sound like something you’ve said or thought? These are all exact quotes from some of my brides talking about their fiancé when it comes to taking pictures.
I would say a good majority of my brides ‘warn’ me that their fiancé isn’t the best at taking pictures. I hear this all the time, and let me tell you….all the grooms have been great and are awesome at taking pictures.
Part of helping your groom take quality engagement photos that you’ll love, is by helping him know what to expect. Most often they just aren’t sure what they’re getting into…heck…they’ve never taken engagement pictures before, how are they supposed to know!?!?
So, how do you help prep your groom?
First of all, remember that this is supposed to be FUN! This is a shoot with no pressure and no hard and fast timelines. This is your time to have fun as a couple and get to know me as a photographer, and understand how I work. This session will help me figure out how you two move best in front of the camera, help me find all your best poses, and allow me to get to know you better! It’s always a good time! Encourage him and get excited about your session.
Again, he has never done this before so of course he doesn’t know what to expect. He may think he’ll just show up and will take just a few photos and be out the door in 15 minutes.
But that’s not what is going to happen….
Usually my engagement sessions last ~ 2 hours and include 2 outfit changes. This gives us plenty of time to have a calm engagement session, and get you a variety of different poses and photos to choose from. Let him know how long a session will take so he knows what he’s up for.
Walk him through your photographer’s website so he can get an idea of their style and see the variety of poses couples are usually in. This will help him get a visual of what to expect. I would sit down and show him a few of your favorite engagement sessions so that you are both on the same page.
You can read this earlier post all about how to pick out good outfits for your engagement session.
Remember that your photographer knows that you’ve never done an engagement session before, so they don’t expect you to be an expert at all. Your photographer on the other hand photographs these sessions all the time, so they know where to take photos and how to pose you both so that you’ll get the best images possible. I walk through what to expect to each of my couples at the start of an engagement session and guide them every step of the way. So it’s your job to just relax and go with the flow!
If you prep your groom and help him relax, you’ll have a wonderful time at your engagement session.
Do you have any other questions about how to prep for an engagement session? Leave your questions below, I’d love to answer them!
You’ve got dreamy, glowing wedding images pinned all over Pinterest (common…admit it), and that’s what you are envisioning for your wedding day photos. Soft light, romantic images, and glamorous shots are filling your head!
Well…the good news is you could have those images, but you have to plan out your timeline well. When planning your wedding day timeline with a film photographer, the first key to remember is that it’s all about that natural light!
So what are the proper steps you need to take to make sure you get those vivid glowing fine art images you’ve been dreaming of?
When picking your getting ready room, try to find a space that has as much natural light as possible. The rooms with large windows where natural light can fill the space are the absolute best! This way your photographer can capture your getting ready moments (those sweet ones with mom buttoning up the back of your dress) in film!
If your getting ready room is in a church basement with dim lighting, don’t fret! You will still have getting ready photos, but they may have to be staged. That’s right…staged! You would be surprised how many ‘getting ready’ photographs are staged. You can take your dress to a room with better lighting (or outside) and do a few getting ready photos in film. Allow yourself to be a little creative with this process and trust your photographer. They do this all the time!
Prepare any details you’d like to have photographed in advance. This helps your photographer out a tremendous amount. You can read more about how to organize your wedding details well here.
The ceremony is the part of the day that the photographer has the least amount of control. That’s okay, we just have to be a little more creative to make sure you get all the images you need and deserve!
So there are a few things to ask yourself:
What is the lighting like in my ceremony space? Is my ceremony outside? Is it under a tree or covering? Is it in direct sunlight? Or are you getting married in a church? If so, what is the natural lighting like inside the church?
If you’re getting married in a dark church without lots of light, film images won’t be possible. Film just doesn’t do well in dark situations, BUT it is possible to get beautiful digital images that can match the look of film pretty well (so no worries!). You’ll still get wonderful images of your ceremony, but they just won’t be in film.
Maybe you’re getting married outside! If so, think about what the lighting is like. Is your ceremony under lots of trees or is it in direct light? Do you know what the light looks like in the ceremony space during the time of your ceremony? What kind of space will the photographer have to get different shots of the ceremony?
If the light is particularly good at a certain time of day for your ceremony site then think about that! Maybe you should plan your ceremony during those beautiful light times.
If it’s not possible, then no worries! Your photographer will make it work no matter what the lighting situation is like.
Try and have all your family portraits taken outdoors. By taking your family portraits outside this will ensure all your portraits (family + bride and groom) all have the same style and lighting. All your portraits could then flow together filled with beautiful lighting! You want family portraits that you can display proudly, and taking them in natural light will ensure you’ll get those dreamy images.
If I could plan every wedding, I would plan them all around bride and groom portraits. In order to get those dreamy images you’re thinking of, it’s best to take them 1.5 – 2 hours before sunset. So if sunset is at 8pm, we should schedule our bride and groom portraits for around 6pm.
If possible, I would plan your ceremony with these portraits in mind. I would schedule your ceremony right before portrait time so you can leave the ceremony and go directly to portraits.
Think about what your reception space looks like.
What is the lighting situation like? Is your reception outdoors or indoors? If your reception is indoors is the space filled with lots of natural windows or is it in a dark ballroom? Is there light hitting the reception space from all directions?
Again….we’re back to talking about that natural light! The ideal situation for capturing your reception on film is to host it outside. I would recommend underneath some big trees or underneath some big beautiful white tents or even out in the open (depending on the time of year).
Usually actual exits happen late in the evening at the very end of the night. If you’d like your exit to be captured in film consider planing a ‘fake exit’. You can schedule your fake exit during the beginning of the reception while there is still daylight, and get beautiful exit photos. Sometimes fake exits are nice for a few reasons:
Do you have any questions on how to plan your wedding timeline? Leave your questions below! I’d love to hear them.
This is my grandpa. This is my mom’s dad. This is Cecil.
P.S. – He’s the one in the black shirt! 🙂
I never had the opportunity to meet Cecil, he passed away quite some time before I was born. Oh how I wish I could have known him. Cecil raised my mom on his own for most of her life, and loved her well. While I actually never had the opportunity to meet, talk, touch, or know Cecil myself; I feel like I know him through my mom and who she is today. I feel like I know a little about him through the stories my mom tells and the photographs we have.
I don’t have many pictures of my grandpa, and I’ve only seen a few photos of him in my life.
While I may not have my grandparents here today, their legacy still lives on in our family. I love listening to my mom talk about her family and hearing about the stories she remembers. I love searching through our family history getting to know my ancestors better and piece together our legacy. I love knowing how I got to where I am today. Knowing my family better helps me understand that.
Cecil’s legacy has lived on through stories my mom tells and the few precious photographs we have.
This is why I love photography.
I believe photographs are more that just pictures. I believe when you take a picture, it is not only cherished in the now, but will be held onto with love and passed on for generations to come. I believe that photographs preserve memories. I believe that my job as a photographer is to help you capture your most precious memories to keep forever.
I think it’s so important to take QUALITY photos documenting your life. You don’t need a million images on your iphone and on social media (I’m pretty sure your children will never sift through all those anyhow!). Just document the important moments and spend the rest of your time living.
I challenge you to take the time to document your most precious moments and print them. That’s right print them! Showcase them in your home where you can see them every day. Print them so you can easily share them with others. I’m pretty if you don’t print them you’ll forget about them and they’ll get lost in the electronic abyss (speaking from personal experience!).
I hope you preserve your most precious memories so your granddaughter can some day have the fondest memories and stories of you through your photographs.
What are your most cherished photographs? What memories do you have associated with those photographs? I’d love to hear your stories! How do you preserve your legacy?
Welcome to Part 2 of the Film Series!
You can read Part 1 on why I love film and why I value this medium here.
One question I get asked a lot from potential clients is, “So do I still get digital pictures or am I only getting prints?”
This is a great question!
And the short answer is….Yes! You do get high quality digital images in return, just as you would from a purely digital photographer.
But there is more to it than that short answer….it’ such a cool process how we get from taking an image at an event, to delivering a high quality jpeg image to you. I think the details are totally worth sharing!
Film is a little different now than it was when I was a kid. Do you all remember the days of disposal and 35mm film cameras? I would carry those cameras around…take pictures of random things that I just had to capture (mostly animals and plants), and then drop off the rolls of film or disposable cameras at Walgreens. I’d come back a little while later, and there I’d have an envelope full of 4×6 photos. If I was lucky I got a few keepers, the rest would have a finger in the top corner of the screen or would be blurry! Anyone else have those experiences?
Well, the kind of film I’m talking about is much different! I use what is called a medium format camera. This camera has a bigger frame than a 35 mm camera and produces beautiful images like the ones you see here!
I load the camera with film, make sure the lighting is good (another lesson for another day), and shoot away during the session, wedding, or whatever the event might be.
Once the event is over, I am one happy photographer with a bag filled with full rolls of film. I ship off all the film to Indie Film Lab (my favorite film lab…you should check them out!).
The film lab then develops and processes all my rolls of film, scans all the images in, and then does any color correction if needed. As far as I’m concerned….magic happens in the film lab. 😉
Once the film lab is done processing everything, they send me high resolution scans of each photo I took. So now, I have high quality jpeg images that I can share with my clients. These images are beautiful and full of life and rarely need any additional corrections on my end.
P.S. – 99% of the photos on my website are film images! Check them out! See what you think!
All my clients then get beautiful gallery full of digital images just as they would from a digital photographer. But of course I still think you should print your favorites!
Do you have any lingering questions about film photography that you’d like to know? I’d love to hear about them!
Till next time film lovers!
Congrats on your engagement! I’m sure you have a million ideas rushing through your head and you’re now on the hunt for the best vendors to make your wedding day happen just as you want it! One of the first things I would think about as a bride-to-be is, who is going to capture your big day?
Your wedding day will be wonderful and magical, and you want to preserve those memories and that important step in your relationship. Your wedding photos are what you will have to hold and look back on for years to come, so you want to make sure you book a photographer that fits well with you as a couple!
Here are my tips on how to book the best wedding photographer for you:
Look through different photographer’s websites and social media to get an idea of what their work is like. What is their style? What kind of weddings do they usually photograph? Are they usually rustic and low key, or classic and timeless? What does their website look like (this may give you a clue to what their style is like)? Do you have a similar style to this wedding photographer? What do their social media platforms look like? What is included in their wedding package? What have past clients said about them? The list of questions goes on and on….
Ask your photographer a lot of questions! You want to make sure you are both on the same page about what you are going to get out of this relationship. Trust me, your photographer wants to make sure you are 100% satisfied with their products and services, and most importantly they want you to be happy and have a wonderful experience.
Film or Digital – Film and digital photographers have a very different look and also work differently. Flip through photographers websites and start to recognize what you like. If you keep getting drawn to film photographers, then maybe that is the way to go for you! If you find that you like digital work better, then go that route! Just start to refine what it is you like about the images and make sure you pick the appropriate medium (film vs. digital) for you.
Fine Art – These images will have a more artistic approach to them. While they will still reflect reality, the images will be more dramatic and gorgeous. Often fine art photographers are film photographers as well. These images tend to be dreamier and have a very soft feeling to them.
Documentary – These images tend to capture the moments of the wedding day as they are happening more. There are more spontaneous images and less things are styled. You would rarely see people staring into a camera for this type of style. Together all the moments tell a story. (Now fine art photographers can also have a documentary sort of style as well, they are not mutually exclusive.)
Moody and Dark – This kind of a newer style of photography and has rich and dramatic images. If you are looking for a more artistic and different perspective to tell your wedding day, this may be for you. If you love bright and bold colors, then the moody style is probably not for you.
Traditional – Captures the staples of a wedding day. You can expect some posed photos and family portraits and also a focus on details that are important to you.
I believe that picking your wedding photographer should not be done in isolation looking at websites alone. Set up a time to meet with your top choices in person. By doing this this allows you to see if your personalities match and if they would be a good fit for your wedding day. This is key! You will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than any other person (more than your future spouse), so you want to make sure you really like them! You want to feel comfortable around this person. You’re probably going to be changing, crying, laughing, and everything else in front of this person.
At this meeting, be prepared to talk about your wedding. Tell your photographer what you are looking for. Share details about your wedding party, your venue, your style, and what you envision for your photos. Again, communication is key! You want to make sure you are a good fit for each other and are on the same page.
Different wedding photographers have different contracts. Some photographers own the rights to all the photos taken at the wedding day and can use them promotionally (on their website or blog or submit them for publication in wedding magazines, etc.). Some photographers let you use the images however you’d like (but please do give your photographers proper credit when sharing images). Regardless of what their contract says, just make sure you understand the contract and understand what you CAN and CANNOT do with your wedding images.
Some photographers have multiple wedding packages where you can add on additional items if wanted (engagement session, bridal session, etc.) and some photographers have one total wedding package. Some photographers include a variety of coverage in their wedding packages and some do not. Just be sure that you understand what you are getting in your wedding package before you sign a contract.
I would think about the following (Goodness this list is longer than expected…):
The list can continue on, but I’ll stop there! I think you can get the idea that a LOT goes into your wedding photography package. So think about what is important to you and what photographer and package best suites your needs.
Often photographers post a few images in their portfolio of a given wedding or share a few images on social media. While I am sure those images are gorgeous, this does not give you a sense of what a total wedding day full of pictures looks like. You want to know what to expect after your big day is over! Most photographers would be more than happy to send you over a gallery to look at full of wedding photos. This will give you a better idea of what you’ll get for your wedding photos.
It’s your wedding day! Enjoy yourself and celebrate. You know you did a lot of research to hire the right photographer so trust their judgement on your wedding day. Worry about spending time with your loved ones and your new spouse!
One of the biggest questions I get as an engagement session approaches is…”What should I wear?”
Good question! I want to help you look and feel your absolute best during your engagement session!
Here are my tips and recommendations on choosing the best outfit(s) for your engagement session:
Most of my couples wear two outfits during their engagement session. One outfit that is a little more causal and comfortable and one that is dressier. This will allow you to get two totally different looks during your session, and add more variety in your images. I think it’s nice to have options. But be sure that you are totally comfortable in BOTH outfits!
If you don’t feel good in your outfit you are not going to have a good time. Just make sure you feel comfortable and like the way you look in your outfit. You want to be able to move, laugh, and play with your significant other….not spend your time pulling on your dress and rearranging your clothes. I’m all about the comfort!
You know that one outfit that everyone gives you compliments in? That’s the one you should wear for your session! There are certain things that you know make you look great, so go with it and embrace it. For example, I don’t like the way I look in strapless dresses. I get those weird fat areas that go over the dress by your armpits. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about?!?! I’m not a fan, and I don’t like pictures of myself in strapless dresses for that reason. So, guess what? I shouldn’t wear a strapless dress to my engagement session.
If you know you don’t like the way your body looks in certain outfits or colors, then don’t wear them to your engagement session. You don’t want to look at photos of yourself in an outfit you don’t love! You want to be confident and happy in all your photos.
Make sure you both match in terms of style. For example, if the bride is wearing a formal evening dress, then the groom shouldn’t be wearing jeans and a t-shirt. One is way more formal than the other! That would look plain silly. Be sure you chat with each other and prepare your outfits together.
Coordinate and plan your outfits together. This doesn’t mean you need to be wearing the exact same colors (actually please don’t!), but just make sure your outfit colors and patterns look good together. Glance at your outfits and make sure they fit together.
If one of you wants to wear a bright vibrant pattern, that is totally OK! Go for it! Just make sure that your partner wears an outfit that has some neutrals in it. You both don’t want to be competing for attention with all these crazy patterns going on.
You might want to use your engagement photos on your Save the Dates! Many couples do and I think it’s a great idea. If you have certain colors in mind for your wedding day and Save the Dates, you might want to make sure your outfits coordinate with that theme.
Yes, I went there….with that cheesy line. But it’s true! Don’t overthink it too much. Just wear something
You can check out examples of engagement outfits I love on my Pinterest Board to get more ideas! I am a big fan of neutral colors (as you’ll see if you look at my Pinterest Board) and would always recommend those. You don’t have to be as plain as I am about my style, but I think you’ll get a good idea of what looks good on camera.
If you ever have any questions or aren’t sure about something, email your photographer and get their opinion! I’m sure they’d be more than happy to give you advice.
Do you have any other tips or suggestions about what to/what to not wear during an engagement session? If so, leave your tips below! The more tips the merrier!
Good luck picking out those outfits!
You’ve put so much careful thought and planning into your big day, you want to ensure that your most important details get captured. All your details tell a story of your relationship and I think these details serve as an important reminder of your style and relationship. Before you know it, the day will have flown by, so make sure your photographer captures your most meaningful details.
Make sure you are both on the same page for how things are going to on your big day! Be sure you know what to expect from your photographer and what your photographer can expect from you.
Tell your photographer where all your details are so they don’t accidentally miss it. If there are details that you love that are in hidden or obscure places, be sure to point them out to your photographer because they could miss it.
Good communication helps the whole day run smoothly!
By putting all your cherished details in one place, your photographer can show up to your wedding day and quietly take those details and photograph them in a beautiful setting before everything gets going. It’s best if your photographer can photograph these details before you put them on.
The most common details to set aside are:
Just make sure to communicate to your photographer what is important to you. As a photographer I want to make sure my brides have plenty of coverage on their most important details.
I usually take between 45-60 minutes to style and photograph your details at the beginning of the day so that I have enough time to capture them and display them in the most beautiful way possible. By giving your photographer this much time, it allows your photographer to take all your details to a well lit location (remember film is ALL about that natural light) and photograph them well in a calm fashion. Remember, the more hours of coverage that you book with your photographer, the more time they will have to style and photograph your details. This does take TIME and trust me you get the best results when your photographer has time to be creative.
Again, communication is key! By having your photographer and wedding coordinator/stylist (or mom or friends) keep in good communication, it will allow your photographer to know when your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception space will be ready for photos. This will allow your photographer to know where they need to be and when. As a photographer, it is important to me to document all the beautiful details and the calmness of the day before everything gets started. Trust me, you’ll want those photos too!
If you have any detail/styling tips that helped your wedding day go smoothly please share them below!
I love film. I love shooting in film. I’m obsessed with film!
If you’re not a photographer, you’re probably thinking, “I didn’t realize people even still used film!” and “Why are you so weird about this whole film thing?”.
Well….I’m happy (Actually thrilled is more like it!) to tell you that many incredible and talented photographers use film to photograph weddings and all sorts of events. Film photography is a huge part of the fine art photography industry today because film images are breathtaking. Film photographers are capturing memories in the most gorgeous way possible(at least I think so!), and I am so grateful I can be one of them.
I realize that for all my non-photographers out there that all this ‘film talk’ can be kind of confusing and seem unimportant. I totally get that! It is weird. But I have a love and passion for film because film photography is classic, timeless, and lovely. So here we are. My goal is to help you see why I’m such an advocate for film.
Welcome to my film series!
I’m super excited to share with you my heart behind my love for film photography, and why I choose to capture life in film. I hope that by the end of this series that you too will see the beauty and value in film photography, and feel more educated on it’s purpose in preserving your memories.
So why film?
The color in film photographs is stunning. The color quality is true to life and gives a rich and classic look to photographs that digital images simply can’t match. Film images have classic color tones that are timeless and will never go out of style.
Film has a way of softening skin tones and creating a beautiful warmth in every image. The skin tones and feeling you get from a film image bring so much life and dimension to every photograph.
Film images have an heriloom feeling about them. They capture details in an image that digital photography doesn’t pick up on in the same way.
I truly believe that film photography is so valuable. I believe that film photographs capture and preserve legacy in a beautiful way. I can’t wait to share more and continue this series about my why behind film photography and why using this medium best serves my clients. I can’t wait to dive into the details with you all next week.