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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!