View my portfolio and set up your session.

How to Prep for Your Couple Session

5 easy tips to get the most from your couple session.

What to wear for Senior Portraits

A few tips and styles you should look out for.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Wedding Photographer

Make your pictures as painless as possible.

Package Prices

Check out prices and set up a session tailored to you.

Saturday, April 11

Check Out the New Blog!

Over the past few weeks I've been a little quiet on the social media front and here's why - I've got a new blog! My incredible fiancĂ© (for the next 62 days) has been slaving away on this blog and has put up with the endless revisions, critiques, and wish-lists I've thrown his way. We designed this blog to go hand in hand with my website we launched last January and are so excited about the new and improved features this blog has to offer both me and my readers!

So now's the time for my thank you speech:

Showit (the AHMAZING company I use for my website) just recently added blog hosting to their resume and they completely rock it out! They responded to our many, many "HELP" emails  and instant chats quickly and patiently answered questions I'm sure they thought were silly.

My impromptu tech crew (a.k.a. Jesse and Jon) when Blake and I came up against some hurdles that were a little too big for us to get over on our own, they stepped in to save the day. We could not have refined the rough edges on this blog without you!

And of course my incredible soon-to-be husband, Blake. I cannot express my thanks enough. You took off running with this project and accomplished more than I ever thought possible. You have the patience of a saint and deserve a medal for continuing to work even after the 100th "ooooohhh what if we did this instead!?!?".

I can hear the music playing cutting me off so I'll end with this: I started to transfer over some of the posts from the old blog, but quickly realized that it wasn't going to happen. So if you're a past client and notice that your post didn't make it on to the new blog, don't worry! This old one will remain online so you'll always be able to go back and visit it if need be!

Please, click around the new blog and let me know how Blake did!

Keep smiling!

Friday, March 27

Envisioning Your Wedding Day

As a wedding photographer I might have had a leg up on your average bride when it came time to start planning my own wedding. I've been to more weddings in a year than the average person in a lifetime so I've had more of an opportunity to identify what I did and did not want to do at my wedding. But I'm also a huge Pinterest addict, which means that I have 5 different boards about weddings alone and over 700 pins to consult before I make a decision. 

So I decided early on that I needed to reign myself in and hold myself to the decisions I made about my wedding day so that the next time I saw a pretty idea online I wouldn't change my course. As a solution I made what I call my "planning book" - it's a place to keep all of my inspiration photos and detailed notes about decorations in one place. 

I take a picture that I found either on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram and I put it in the book with notes about how I would tweak it or a detailed list of what I need to buy to make it happen down to the inch. I also use it to keep myself in check and make sure that I'm not getting too wild - does everything flow together, is everything on theme?

You can check out a few example pages from mine below...

wedding planning tool

wedding planning tool

On the day of the wedding my planning book will definitely come in handy. My venue has a wedding the night before, which means that all decorating needs to be done the morning of my wedding while myself and my bridesmaids will be getting ready. I'm going to recruit some helpful family members to decorate for me since I chose not to hire a wedding planner or coordinator. That's where my planning book will come in. It has an overview picture of each detail of my wedding (centerpieces, aisle decorations, etc.) so that my helpers can see what the finished product should look like along with measurements and any instructions they might need.

If you're not going to be able to help with the decorations of your own wedding and are, let's be honest, a slight control freak, I would definitely recommend coming up with a one-stop-shop for people to reference for an overall vision of your day. It doesn't have to be fancy - mine isn't going to win any graphic design awards - it just needs to have everything in one place to take one more thing off of your plate so you can focus on being a bride.

Keep smiling!

Monday, March 23

Making BFF's and Friendship Bracelets

Recently I got an email inquiry from a bride that included a brag about how much Netflix she watches and a proposal story involving a kitten. And I went, "Uhhmmm, hello!? Where have you been all my life?". Seriously, if Myspace was still a thing I would put her in my Top 8.

I've talked before about how important it is to click with your wedding photographer and the further I get into this business, the more and more I believe it. Wedding photography is my passion, but not everything about it is as glamorous as it sounds. I spend a lot of time writing emails, fending off telemarketers (if I ever screen your call from an unknown number, you can blame them), and the amount of time it took me to file my taxes this year almost made me cry. Literally. But there is one single thing that makes all the self-doubt, hours of stress, and hand cramps from editing worth it - my couples.

Warning: this is about to get cheesy - but I mean every. single. word.

As soon as a couple books me for their wedding I add them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram. I like to be able to get a glimpse into their lives as a couple and get to know them a little better through social media. It allows me to interact with them, and since people like to talk about their wedding a lot, I get to see sneak peeks of the wedding itself. So by the time the wedding itself rolls around, I'm genuinely excited for their big day.

Last year I had the pleasure of shooting 3 weddings for a group of girls who were all bridesmaids in each others' weddings. By the time I did the last wedding in October, I felt like part of the group. There's one comment that I hear a lot from my brides, and it's the best compliment I could ever think of - "I keep forgetting you're my photographer, you just feel like one of the girls"! 

Yes, photography is a lot of work and is probably not a great field for someone with high blood pressure, but I am constantly reminded why I do it when I get to meet the most amazing people, document their love stories, and form a genuine friendship with two people at such an exciting time in their lives. It's an amazing feeling to be able to shoot a friend's wedding.

Keep smiling!

P.S. If any client ever made me a friendship bracelet I would die happy.

Wednesday, March 11

Planning Our Wedding: Registering for Gifts

wedding registry tips

As I grow up I quickly learn that more and more things are not what they seem like in the movies. Do you know how many movies I've seen brides-to-be joyously walking through an immaculate home goods store carefully picking out their fine china, good crystal, and spotless silverware to be added to their wedding registry? I don't have an exact number, but I do have a ballpark - too many. And let me tell you something - that is not how it really is.

All of the wedding websites suggest you register at stores that will gives guests a variety of choices in both products and budgets, so when it came time to register for our wedding, Blake and I chose to register at 3 stores: Sur La Table, Target, and Crate and Barrel. And similar to a romantic comedy, I learned a lesson at each one until it was just right.

Lesson Number 1: Make an Appointment
We registered at Sur La Table on a whim one night. We were already at our local mall and had about an hour to kill and I decided that the best use of that hour was registering for wedding gifts. So with no preparation or forethought I walked in to the store and announced that we would be making a wedding registry. We quickly learned two things - Blake and I do not have the same style when it comes to anything related to kitchen ware and neither of us had enough cooking or baking knowledge to even be in that store in the first place. That's where an appointment would have come in handy. Sur La Table offers appointments for gift registries so that they can have a staff member ready to answer all of your questions - even the silly ones. The store and its products are amazing, so please take advantage of their offer to set up an appointment so you can get the full experience and be confident in your decisions instead of wondering out loud the difference between a cookie sheet and a jelly roll pan.

Lesson Number 2: Be Ready to get Weird Looks
Taking a cue from lesson number one, we registered at Target on a week night when we knew that store wasn't going to be too busy. At Target they have you do your registry entirely on your phone - you download their registry app and use your phone's camera to take a picture of the product's barcode and you're done! Simple as that. But unfortunately without an official looking scanner, you just look like a crazy lady wandering the aisles of Target taking pictures of everything. It was only when I turned around to find a little girl staring at me with a look I can only describe as equal parts terror and concern in the bedding aisle, that I realized Blake had wandered off and I was having a conversation with myself about the merits of down alternative pillows.

Lesson Number 3: Go to the Pros
There's a reason that everybody and their mother has registered at Crate and Barrel for their weddings. Not only are their products stylish and extremely durable, they know what they're doing. My local Crate and Barrel hosted a wedding registry event on a Sunday morning where they allowed engaged couples to come in before the store opened and register. They had a plethora of sales staff ready and willing to answer questions, give demonstrations, and help in any other way they could think of. When we entered we were handed a list of commonly registered items sorted by type and use and I could have kissed them. You know how I feel about beautifully arranged lists. The pros at Crate and Barrel let Blake cut things with insanely sharp knives, let me arrange a pretend dinner party with the cups, plates, and silverware of my choosing, and even gave us a gift on the way out the door! Crate and Barrel by far was the closest to the Hollywood registering experience I had imagined.

Keep smiling!


Wednesday, March 4

My Secret Wedding Planning Tool: Trello

If you read this blog often you've probably seen a trend - I'm obnoxiously organized. And while a lot of my tendencies are natural habits I've picked up over the years, I recently acquired a secret weapon: Trello. Trello is an online project management tool that allows even the most unorganized person to take control of all the crazy projects (big or little) they have going on in their life. 

Trello to me is a way to make checklists, give yourself reminders, and stay organized all in one place. Trello creates "boards" for each project you have going on. And on each board you can add "cards" which can have anything on them. So let's walk through this really quickly...

Let's take a look at my wedding board - I do not think I would have gotten through the wedding planning process with all of my hair still intact without Trello. When things started to get overwhelming at the very beginning of planning, I made a board. I first split things up in two ways: 1) things I need to do and 2) things Blake needs to do. I made a card for each item that I thought of and put it either in Blake's list or my list. Then I assigned each task a due date so I could prioritize them. 

wedding planning tool

Since Trello is free and super easy to sign up for, I added Blake to the cards that were his responsibility. Now, when a due date approaches, Trello will email Blake a friendly reminder for any card that his picture is on and I will receive an email reminder for all of the cards that I've given to myself. I went an extra mile by assigning color labels to some of the cards (purple for anything related to my dress, orange for anything having to do with our vendors, and blue for decorations) and you can also attach images, files, and link to cards to keep all your resources in one place!

I use Trello for everything and Trello is such a flexible tool that it allows me to shape every board in a unique way that works for me.  In my photography business each client has their own board so I can keep track of emails I need to send, due dates based on their wedding timeline, and of course when their big day is. I also have a personal board that I set up with both small reminders, like when the bills are due, and long lists, like things I need to get done around the house.

As I mentioned before, Trello will send you an email when a due date is approaching, and again when something is due to keep you on top of things. I still hop on Trello about once a week to update my boards - when something is done I drag it from "To Do" to "Done" - and keep an eye on things that I want to get done over the next few weeks.

If anyone out there is looking for a free, easy tool to help them organize their lives - check out Trello. And I especially recommend it to anyone out there trying to plan a wedding - it will save you from quite a few meltdowns!

Keep smiling!

Wednesday, February 25

Products I Love: Miller's Signature Albums

2014 was a record breaking year for Kaylina Norton Photography - I like to say that in my best ESPN announcer voice - record breaking! And by records I mean that the spreadsheet I keep of all the weddings I shoot in a year had a larger number on it than ever before. But still - records. One of the most exciting things about growing your own business is being able to invest in new, amazing things that you can share with your clients. And the things that I'm most eager to share with my happy couples this year? Albums.

I recently switched over to Miller's Lab as my sole provider of print products and I could not be happier! They are absolutely AH-MAZ-ING. Yes, they're three-syllable-amazing. They're just that good. Their turn around times are so fast, sometimes I'm confused when I find a box on my doorstep - "really? I JUST ordered that!" And the quality? Impeccable.

wedding albums columbus

This particular album is a 10x10 Millers Signature Album. It has flush-mounted, thick (1/16") panorama pages that allow me to design spreads that cover both pages without worrying about splitting the images at the spine.

wedding albums columbus

This album cover is black, genuine Italian full grain leather meaning it ages well and is easy to take care of. If black leather isn't your style, Miller's has got you covered - 23 colors and textures of leather, 10 different patterns you can have etched on leather, and 15 colors of linen to choose from. And if you want to spice your cover up with an image (or 2 or 3) Millers can do that too. You can also add your name and wedding date to the cover if you're interested.

And Bonus - each album comes in it's own protective album box to help you keep your priceless memories safe when you're transporting or storing it.

But the absolute, hands-down, best thing about Miller's Signature Albums? They let the images speak for themselves. While they do give you an insane amount of design options, they never forget the most important part of the album - making your pictures stand the test of time in a beautiful, elegant format.

wedding albums columbus

wedding albums columbus

This is the album you'll drag around to every family event for a year after the wedding. The album you'll sit on your coffee table that you flip through with friends when they come to visit. The album that will eventually make its way to a bookcase that your kids will pull out in 20 years and pour over excitedly. And eventually, this will be the album that your children pass down to their children to show them just how beautiful their grandmother was. That's the journey I imagine for each and every album I design for my couples and I'm so happy to be able to provide that to them now.

Keep smiling!


If you have any questions about albums or other print products and services I offer, please reach out to me through my website!

Wednesday, February 18

Video Games + Spreadsheets = Love

When people ask me what Blake and I do in our spare time, I cringe. Never do I feel more boring than when explaining to someone that my favorite things to do are to eat, watch Netflix, and sleep while Blake is out rock climbing, camping, and playing music. But I often forget (or block out) that there is one thing we do together regularly - we play video games. No, I am not a diehard and you will never find me on Xbox Live insulting anyone's mother, but I do use my love of spreadsheets to make gaming even more nerdy than it already is.

If you're unfamiliar with video games let me explain something very quickly before I get back to embarrassing myself. Most games come with achievements/trophies that you can earn by completing certain tasks within the game. These achievements are linked to your gaming profile, and people can see what games you've played and what trophies you've earned. This is where my very strange competitive nature comes out. Challenge me to a race or football game and I'll laugh in your face while stuffing mine with ice cream, but say that some guy in South Korea has more PlayStation trophies than I do and it's on!  

Before Blake and I start a new game, I sit down with my computer, open up a new tab on our trophy spreadsheet and chart out all of the trophies. I mark anything that's missable, anything that may require some extra effort, and I read any trophy walkthroughs that are available online. Sometimes we both play games - we'll drag the tv from our bedroom out into the living room and play different games side by side. Sometimes he just plays the game and I shout out directions to the nearest collectible or scold him for his lack of digital morals. It's very serious, slightly embarrassing business, but it's quality time that we get to spend together. And that's all we're really looking for.

Keep smiling!

Monday, February 9

7 Easy Things Brides Should Do for Better Wedding Photos

I'm going to be really honest here - I've been wanting to write this blog for a long time. As a photographer, I am always trying to help my brides get the best pictures possible and over the past five years I've collected a short list of the easiest things brides can do for instantaneously better wedding pictures. These items range from something more abstract (like having a conversation with your photographer) to very tangible (bring your invitation suite!) but they're all things that should take less than 20 minutes of your time and will have you thanking yourself for years to come.

1. Walk Your Photographer Through Your Day
I love to meet with my brides about 6 weeks before the wedding to talk about timelines. I know six weeks sounds a little early, but it's never too early to nail down the backbone of your wedding day. In addition to talking wedding day timelines at this meeting, I like to ask more about the wedding itself. Specifically I want to know if there is anything they have planned for their wedding that is truly unique and personal to them. If you have a surprise planned for your groom/parents/bridal party tell your photographer so they have their camera ready to capture the reactions instead of being surprised right along side of everyone else. Talk about specific decorations. If you've incorporated vintage books into your centerpieces your photographer will definitely take pictures of the decor as a whole, but if they don't know that the titles of the books themselves are important to you, they might not include those in the pictures. So make sure to point out anything and everything that's important to you. As photographers our goal is to capture your special day in a way that you're going to cherish forever. So don't hesitate! Over-sharing is still caring!

2. Think About Where You're Getting Ready
A lot of Brides don't put a lot or any effort into where they're getting their hair or make-up done and it's really a missed opportunity. When planning where you'll be getting ready make sure to consider the following things: 1) natural light - not only will the pictures be significantly better, but this will help your make-up artist out as well 2) space - make sure it's not going to be a cramped area for you, your bridesmaids, moms, hair dressers, make-up artists, or anyone else you'll have hanging out with you while you get ready 3) Wherever you go, keep it tidy - nothing ruins the effect of the first photo of you in your dress like noticing a bra hanging out of a duffle bag in the corner of the photo. Getting ready in hotel rooms or salons are normally safe bets as long as they have plenty of windows. And don't forget to apply these rules to the guys as well!

better wedding pictures tips

3. Organize a Details Bag for your Groom
Now that we've talked about where you're getting ready, let's shift our attention to the guys. While I'm with the girls, snapping pictures of hugs and happy tears, the guys are normally somewhere else awkwardly sitting around, drinking, and watching TV. Since there's not as much going on with the guys, it's a great opportunity for, Blake, my fiance/second shooter to take some male detail shots. So prepare a bag of small things that your groom will be carrying around with him on your special day and have him give it to the photographer when he arrives. This does two things: 1) it rounds out your wedding pictures as a collection for your album or prints - now you'll have some more masculine pictures to compliment the bride's detail photos 2) it helps the guys get acclimated to the photographer in the room - it might sound silly but guys generally have a harder time warming up to the camera so if Blake spends the first 20 minutes taking pictures of things, instead of them, we can all avoid 20 minutes of fake smiles and stiff bodies. To help you brainstorm, here's what we love to take pictures of: shoes, socks, cuff links, tie, flask, belt, watch, handkerchiefs, and cologne.

4. Bring Your Invitation Suite
Most brides know that their photographer is going to want to take detail photos of their shoes, jewelry, dress, perfume, flowers, etc. but a lot of brides forget to bring a copy of their invitation suite. This means everything: the save-the-date, the invitation, the RSVP card, any other inserts you included (directions, registry information, etc.) and the envelopes! It's a good idea to create your own bag of bridal details for your photographer and stick the invitation suite in there as well. You spent a lot of time and money on your invitations so you deserve to get a great picture of the finished product. Not to mention, if you're interested in having your wedding in a publication/blog afterwards, the invitation suite shot is a must have!

5. Ask your Officiant to Step Aside
This might sound a little rude, but in your last meeting with your officiant before the wedding (ideally at your dress rehearsal) ask if he or she wouldn't mind stepping aside after they pronounce you "man and wife". When the time comes for the first kiss you will always find me at the end of the aisle. I want to get the best, straight on shot of the first kiss I can and then be ready for the recessional. So if I'm at the end of the aisle and your officiant is still standing in the middle behind your and your now husband, his or her head and body can be a little distracting in the photo - you might end up with the top of a bald head sticking out above you guys or an extra set of legs down below that appear to come from nowhere. I'm not asking that they dive off the stage after they say the magic words, but just a single step to the left or right will normally stop the phenomenon of extra limbs popping out of you.

6. Don't Forget About Reception Details
Generally, the bulk of your wedding budget is going toward the reception. Food, drinks, music, and decorations add up very quickly. So don't forget to give your photographer some time (at least 20 minutes) to photo the reception in detail before any guests have access to it. You'll want to document what the room looked like before your guests have rearranged their place settings, thrown their coats over chairs, and left their bags in the corners. I realize that sometimes this is difficult, especially if your ceremony isn't at the same location as the reception, but talk to your photographer, the venue, and wedding coordinator and see if there's a way to keep the guests in a separate location for cocktail hour or some other creative way to sneak your photographer in for a few photos ahead of the guests.

better wedding pictures tips

7. Take Time for a Sunset Shoot
While first looks are gaining popularity, a lot of couples still prefer to not see each other until the ceremony. Regardless of your feelings about a first look, you should without a doubt take time during your reception for a sunset shoot. I ask all my couples if they'd be up for sneaking outside for 15 minutes during their reception, about 30 minutes before sunset. The pictures that I get to capture during a couple's sunset session are seriously indescribable and priceless for two reasons: 1) the lighting during this time is absolutely gorgeous - there's a reason photographers call it "the golden hour" 2) the bride and groom are generally in party mode at this time - they've already eaten, the groom generally has a few drinks in him, and all the things that might have been making them anxious or stiff in earlier pictures are over; now it's just time to party. And bonus: it gives the couple a few minutes to be by themselves and soak everything in. All of these factors combine into great, intimate pictures that really can't be captured any other time in the day.

better wedding pictures tips

So that's it - 7 easy things you can do to help your wedding pictures WOW you for the rest of your life! 
Married couples - did I miss a tip that you did on your big day that paid off in your pictures? Leave them in the comments below!

Keep smiling!


Wednesday, January 21

Planning Our Wedding: Shopping for Engagement Outfits

I think the most common question I get from brides after we've scheduled their engagement session is: What do I wear? That is a pretty difficult question for me on a day to day basis, let alone when I'm considering what to wear in photos that I'll cherish forever. Talk about pressure. So when it was my turn to have my engagement pictures taken, I used all the advice I normally give my clients and went shopping!

Before I really get going, the pictures you see in this post were not taken by me because I'm in them (I'm not that good). Instead, they were taken by the amazingly talented Angela Fortin.

1. Have a general idea of what you're looking for before you go shopping (and know what you already own)

Before you open the doors to your local mall I would have a game plan of what you're looking for. I generally tell my clients to have 2-3 outfits ready for their session. That way they'll have some variety between pictures but also have enough time in each outfit to get some good pictures. I also suggest that the outfits should be a mix of dressy and casual.

Blake and I knew that we only wanted to do two outfits - one dressy, one casual. We weren't going to buy a new suit for Blake so we already knew that he'd be wearing navy, which meant I just needed to find a dress that would go with his suit. The casual outfit was a little more up in the air but we knew that we'd probably only need new shirts for this outfit since we could wear pants and shoes we already owned. So at this stage we were looking for a new dress shirt and tie for Blake's dressy outfit, a dress and necklace for my dressy outfit, a shirt for both of us for our casual outfits.

2. Start timeless

I always tell my clients to stay away from giant logos, crazy patterns, or anything that's super trendy at the moment. You're going to have these pictures for a long time and you don't want to look back at your pictures like an episode of "Friends" and go "what were they wearing!?!" - try to stick to solid colors, classic patterns (stripes, polka dots, plaid), and timeless silhouettes. 

When Blake and I were looking for our casual outfit, I found a solid burgundy t-shirt and Blake found a nice blue and white striped t-shirt. The building blocks to your outfits should be timeless.

3. But don't be afraid to go big

This is going to sound like it's in direct contradiction of the last tip, but it's not. Find a good balance of classic staples with trendy accessories. I don't want my couples showing up to sessions in plain, frumpy, nondescript clothes that don't show off their personality at all. So if you find something that makes your heart stop - buy it!

After I bought the solid burgundy tee, a ridiculously large floppy hat also caught my eye. So I bought it. I am fully aware that the hat might look silly in 10 years (if it doesn't already) but I wanted it in a few pictures and took it off for the rest. Blake's dress shirt that he ended up finding was chambray. Chambray is very in right now, but it might not be in the future. That's okay, because the solid navy suit he was wearing should stand the test of time. Like I said, find a balance.

4. Never be afraid of accessories

Accessories are exactly what Emeril was always looking for to take something up a notch. Throw in some amazing accessories and BAM!! Your engagement session just made your photographer swoon. I always tell my brides to bring heels to their sessions if they are heel wearers at all. They don't have to wear them for every outfit, but having heels in just a few pictures will be magical. At the risk of sounding like the man from Men's Warehouse - You're going to like the way you look; I guarantee it. 

That being said, I want to acknowledge that I did not follow my own rule for this - I am vertically blessed as a girl and Blake is my height (or an inch taller if you believe him) so I don't wear heels around him. But if you and your partner are a good mix of heights and heels work for you, please bring them to your session! Since I couldn't accessorize with woman's real best friend, I bought a super cute necklace from J. Crew for my dressy outfit and the hat I mentioned before for the casual outfit. They were the perfect small things to make the outfits pop.

5. Be comfortable in what you're wearing

This tip needs to happen on two levels. You need to feel physically comfortable in what you're wearing. Make sure it fits correctly and makes you feel good about yourself and your body. But you should also feel comfortable with what you're wearing in a personal sense. Is that an outfit that feels like you? Is it something that you might normally wear or your ideal you would wear? It's okay to dress a little nicer for an engagement session than you normally do, but the outfits should still reflect your style.

When shopping Blake and I went to our local outlet mall to get some great deals on some bigger brands we normally only dream about wearing. And we found some great bargains and were able to curate outfits that felt like us or at least the us we wished we could afford to be. Except for one thing - I found a pair of shorts that fit me fine and that I felt I looked good in, but after taking them home and trying them on with the rest of the outfit it just didn't feel like "me". So I returned them and wore a pair of shorts I already owned.

If anyone has any other great tips for what to look for when shopping for engagement sessions please leave them in the comments below! If you're looking for outfit inspiration check out my Pinterest board or check out the engagements gallery on my website! I love the effortless yet fashionable styles my clients always bring to their sessions.

Keep smiling!

Wednesday, January 14

Using Pinterest as a Professional Photographer

Hello, my name is Kaylina and I'm a recovering Pinterest Addict. When I first discovered Pinterest I was in college and spent most of my part time job as an office assistant on the site pinning crafts I would never complete, recipes I would never attempt, and decorations for a house I would never own. Pinterest is kind of known for that I think - aspirations of a picture perfect life most of us will never have, but it's always fun to dream. I will say though that I've found three very useful purposes for Pinterest as a photographer.

1. I use Pinterest to get a feel for my brides on a personal level 

When I first meet with a couple I ask if they're on Pinterest and, if they are, to send me a follow request because I find that I can learn so much about a person from their Pinterest boards. Not only can I get a sneak peek at their wedding from any wedding boards a bride might have, I normally can get a good understanding of their sense of humor, if they're animal lovers, book worms, movie fans, or fashion forward. Now obviously, I'm making a lot of assumptions by doing this (if you looked at my profile you'd think I like to cook. I actually like to eat. I have no idea how to cook), but it gives me a rough idea of who the bride is as a person and allows me to interact with them on another level before the big day.

2. I use Pinterest to guage my brides' photography style

If a bride doesn't already have a wedding and engagement photography board, I ask her to make one. And no, it is NOT because I want to copy all the pictures she pins. I ask a bride to make a photography board so I can see what kind of pictures she is drawn to and what kind of pictures she would like to get out of the experience. I might notice that a bride has posted a lot of super snuggly, flirty pictures so I know to plan for a fun, candid session. If I notice that a bride pins more editorial, high fashion images I'll plan for more serious, intimate poses. Sometime brides will post 5 or 6 different pictures of the same pose so that obviously lets me know that we should at least try out that pose or something similar.

3. I use Pinterest to give some last minute tips to my brides

I normally check out my brides' boards about 2 weeks before a session to gauge their style and give out any last minute tips. If I notice that the bride has posted a lot of pictures of girls in heels, I'll suggest they bring heels to the session, even if just for one outfit. You'd be surprised how much high heels can change a picture. If they've posted a lot of pictures with props (blankets, baskets, balloons, etc.) I'll check in and see if they're planning on bringing anything with them to their engagement shoot. I also check in to make sure the pictures she's been pinning are realistic. If she's the same bride that posted a bunch of snuggly, flirty pictures but her man is adamantly against PDA, we're going to run in to a problem. 

Again, the idea is not to copy any of the pictures from Pinterest - I've just found it to be a helpful tool to make sure that both myself and the bride are on the same page going in to an engagement shoot or wedding. Knowing a bride's style and expectations before hand makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone. And getting another person addicted to Pinterest is always a bonus.

If you'd like to check out my style or make assumptions about my personality, you can look at my Pinterest boards here.

Keep smiling!

Wednesday, January 7

Planning Our Wedding: Hiring Vendors

Hiring Vendors for Wedding

I'm an extremely organized and punctual person. If Google Maps tells me I can get somewhere in 24 minutes, I'll give myself time for 36 minutes, and somehow end up 45 minutes early. I have a notebook in my purse that I keep to jot down notes so I won't forget them, and in case I forget I wrote them in the notebook, I also put them in the "reminders" and "notes" app on my phone. My inbox is so immaculate that the Queen herself could eat out of it (if it was a tangible box, of course). I always respond to emails within 24 hours of receiving them and then file them away neatly in their respective places. These are all traits that make me a great wedding photographer, but might turn me in to a slightly controlling bride.

Those traits, combined with my 5 years in the wedding industry, have made me a little high maintenance when it comes to finding and hiring vendors for my own wedding. When looking for a DJ, florist, photographer, videographer, caterer, etc. I've been looking for a few key things.

1. They share my style

This was the hardest for me when it came to choosing a photographer and videographer. I found myself drawn to a few different styles because I could appreciate the technical aspect and talent in their final product, but I had to remind myself what I ultimately wanted. For me, I wanted pictures and video that were altered and edited as little as possible. I want candid, documentary like coverage of my day but with an artistic view. Blake and I are envisioning a simple, classic wedding. So hiring a photographer or videographer whose final product is a low contrast, matte version of the day didn't really make sense. Even though there are incredibly talented people out there with that style, it's just not for me. You can apply the same logic to caterers, bakers, florists, etc - while I might be attracted to some ornate, over the top things I've seen out there on Pinterest, I had to remind myself that our wedding day is going to be simple. So I had to find vendors that can do simple well.

2. They're personal and prompt

This comes back to the insane personality traits I confessed to earlier. In addition to being a wedding photographer, I still work full time. So email has been my primary means of communication with all of my vendors. It's important to me that I can get a good "feel" for this person over email. I want them to show an interest in me and my wedding. This might be their 500th wedding, but it's my only one. So them taking the extra time to read my email and actually remember the details I provided them with is very important to me.

Part of the requirements of me getting a good "feel" is that they answer my emails and questions in a timely manner. I'm going to be honest with everyone - this is where I've been the most disappointed. I'm going to give an extra helping of honest by saying that it has and has not been a deal breaker in certain instances. I have crossed certain vendors off my list if I didn't receive a response within a week (no, I don't hold everyone to the 24 hour rule) but I've also sent out follow up emails to some vendors that I REALLY LIKE hoping to give them a gentle reminder that I exist. I understand that people are busy and that some artist types (obviously not me) aren't self described punctual, email slaves, but it does make me a little nervous hiring them. If they're bad at answering emails now, are they going to magically get better at it the closer my wedding day gets? Which leads me to my last decision factor...

3. They're trust-worthy

As I said before, I have a somewhat unique view of wedding vendors because I'm a wedding photographer myself. So while I encourage everyone to put a lot of thought and effort into finding the right vendors for them, I also encourage people to trust the vendors they decide to hire. Once you've found that person for you, whether it's a DJ, baker, florist, or photographer - trust them. Communicate your vision for the day with them but let them do their job. Weddings can be stressful but you'll have the best experience on the big day if you've surrounded yourself with great, talented people you can trust. When you do turn the reins over to your vendors you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. There's a reason they're the professionals. They've got this.

Keep smiling!