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Charleston Photography Tutorial

5 Tips for Better Styling

April 6, 2018

I love styling.   It plays a huge role in both our wedding and lifestyle photography and I think the more you practice, the better you get.    I recommend finding some photographs you really love and then attempting to re-create them; it’s a great way to practice and you often end up with something original anyway.   Here are some other tips I live by:

Keep it simple.   Sometimes when a photograph isn’t looking exactly right, we tend to add more layers to it when the best practice is to keep unnecessary elements away.   The simplest things are often the most striking.

We read a photo from left to right, so try not to block the left side too much.   If I have a whimsical or larger element, I tend to place it in the lower right hand corner and find that it works well.  I do this a lot with flat lays or our wedding invitations — the ribbon or flower works best in the lower corner.

Keep your colors consistent or complimentary.   Nothing busies a photo more than a mess of colors.   While I love to break this rule from time to time, I try to do it very strategically and thoughtfully as it often ends up being messy rather than purposeful

Try it a few different ways.    I often find that the first photo I take is my favorite, even though I have tried a million variations after.  It’s much more about gut instinct than you think!

Make sure that the subject matter makes sense and is feasible, i.e.  make sure that the wine glass would be in that spot, or the cheese is realistically cut into.  Oftentimes, our most natural tendencies are the most translatable and read the best in camera. xxx

Home Personal Tutorial

How and Why to Develop a Three Year Plan

February 16, 2018

I know that this post is a bit of a departure from our regular content but I find this exercise so constructive, I think it’s worth sharing.   I know that so many of you also run your own businesses, but even on a personal level, this exercise can be very clarifying so I recommend it to anyone, no matter what stage of life.

Just over three years ago, Will and I took a crash course in business.  It was a wonderful, life-changing investment.    The lessons were very straight forward and helped us think strategically about what we wished to achieve and how to get there.    One of the first lessons in the course is to develop a three year plan.    The thought is daunting at first and so it is important to recognize that this is an evolving document, there is no right answer.

The guiding principal is that the more clear your vision is, the more likely it will be to come true.   Perhaps it’s even more difficult to decide what you actually want than it is to get there, although of course that’s not without its hurdles either.  She, the teacher, uses this example:  say you’re designing a kitchen and you say that you’d love it to be white and blue, but you don’t specify whether you’d like it to feel like a French country kitchen or a modern and clean.   You will most likely end up not loving what the designer has chosen, which is why the more specific you are with your vision, the more likely you are to end up exactly where you wish to be.

In ours, we were living in Charleston (we hadn’t moved yet), had a baby, were in a loving relationship with a solid group of friends around, in a financially stable place where we could live comfortably, had a house and an office which we could walk to.   I even imagined the outfits I was wearing, and of course it was way more specific and in depth but I know that this is what we had in mind in March 2014 because I found our exercise when I was clearing out the closet preparing to move into the office.  I couldn’t believe how much of it had come true in just three short years.

Why three not five?  It’s just a more manageable number; we all have changing visions and expectations; this exercise is designed to give you enough time to meet specific goals but not think so far ahead that you’re likely to not be able to predict where you are.

Now, to the exercise, which is spin off from this course which I recommend whole-heartedly:

Write a journey entry three years from today, where are you sitting?  What are you doing?  What’s it like outside?  What have you just done?  What did you do this morning?  What will you do this evening?  What have you eaten today?  What is it you do for work, for pleasure?  How many people do you work with?  What’s the status of your relationship?  Your family?  Your friends? Your finances?  How do you feel emotionally?  How is your health?  And so forth…

The idea is to think through the state of well, everything.  You can even separate it out onto different sheets of paper, say one for each:  family, personal, work, emotions, health, etc.  and do a brain dump in each category to help you distill what is most important.    As ridiculous as it sounds, this exercise helped us decide to move to Charleston (because the warm weather is very important to our emotional state) over Seattle, where we had lots of family support.   We were surprised to draw this conclusion but are very happy where we live.  Of course, introducing a child to the equation has shifted our priorities a bit so now it’s time for us to make a new plan too :)!

Photography Tutorial

5 Photographer’s Tricks to Take More Flattering Photos

October 16, 2017

We all want to take more flattering photos. As a photographer, I always try to make our clients feel happy and relaxed because I believe that is when beauty shines through. When I am in front of the camera, I am pretty nervous! I want that relaxed, natural vibe to come through but I often freeze up. Here are five tricks I use to take a more flattering photo.

1. Loosen up.  Movement and action are your friends.  My great friend taught me that throwing your arms above your head totally relaxes your shoulders. I love this trick, I use it all the time. This isn’t realistic for brides necessarily but we can get walking, and I find that’s often when the best photographs are taken. Any kind of movement you can employ is great, it gets you to stop fixating on putting your arm on your hip, etc.

2. Wear bolder makeup. The camera washes out our features. Filling in brows, a bolder, brighter lip, and a curling your eyelashes with lots of mascara all help your features look more like they do in real life. I’m not suggesting that you totally over do it, but it doesn’t read the same way in real life. I also love lots of blush/bronzer and am constantly surprised by how pale I look. I recommend testing it out a few times at home.  I have been known to get an organic, vegan one hour spray tan (made from walnuts).  I’m into it.

3. Find a great light source. If you’re taking a selfie or iPhoto, turn towards the light. If you’re inside, face the window and put the phone between you and it rather than having the window behind you. If you’re outside (preferably late or early), you can face the sunset for a nice glow. Often times the greatest background doesn’t match up with the most flattering light. For example, you might wish to have the ocean in the background but the sunset is behind you. As a photographer, I will always favor the flattering light over the background, it’s often cropped out anyway. And of course when it lines up well, fantastic!

4. Shoulders back, elongate your neck, chin slightly forward but not up. These are three instructions I give to people behind the camera. If it feels funny, it’s usually working. The other old trick is to rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth when you’re smiling to avoid a wide grin. It works!

5. Shoot from slightly above. I find that shooting people from slightly above (especially if they’re sitting) is more flattering that straight on. It slightly thins out the face. That’s why we hold our selfies slightly above when we’re taking them. Too much with a full body makes you look short, but for a tight shot it works wonders.

And a bonus trick for those of you shooting on a professional camera:  I tend to slightly over expose my images and to shoot on a shallow depth of field.   We don’t need to see every line and detail!  Hope this helps, as always xxxxxxx!

Photography Tutorial

10 Ways to Boost Creativity

September 27, 2017

The dreaded rut. We all have them.  I find that I am especially drained after wedding weekends (which explains my lull in posting). I absolutely love photographing weddings, the joy and the beauty of families coming together is very special.  I am so emotionally committed that it takes several days to recover!  It is a happy type of drained but makes it challenging to bounce back and focus on other creative projects.  I have taken to using these ten tricks to get me back on track.

1. Look through coffee table books.  I find Pinterest, online inspiration and other people’s blogs and Instagram to be a total overload.  Of course I am inspired by friends and I LOVE looking through to see what everyone else is up to, but I try to draw my own creative inspiration from books or art rather than online media.  My best creative ideas often come from one photo, color or even a poem or phrase. I know the latter might sound a bit ridiculous but I always find when I go back to my style icons, I feel creatively refreshed and ready to trudge forward.  I look at a wide range of topics, from interiors to outdoor adventure.  I also love all of the Vogue books and collect the magazine as well as Vanity Fair.  

2.  Try a different medium.  If you’re a photographer, take a painting class (or just pick up some water colors from a local shop).  I love taking a break from photography to express creativity in different ways.  It always leaves me refreshed, or so frustrated that I am reminded that I should stick to what I know 😉  

3.  Take a break!  Exercise is critical for me.  I find that I am a totally different, much more clear headed person when I work out.  It has been left behind this year between work and the baby, and I am determined to get back to it!  Even a walk outside is refreshing.

4. Mix up your surroundings.  I work from home and I find that getting out of the house boosts my creativity – a walk in the park or taking my laptop to the coffee shop nearby really does make a big impact.

5.  Draw inspiration from objects. When I set the table,  it is usually build around one piece.  For example, I fell in love with these napkins  and wanted to build a table around these colors.   I am currently plotting a holiday table built around these olive green candle sticks.  Sometimes it’s a shade of flower, sometimes it’s a fabric, but it usually stems from one thing.  I recently slid a silver tray underneath some candles (just tidying up) and couldn’t believe how much light it reflected back in the room, we set a table built around that.  Don’t be afraid to keep ideas simple and base them off of one thing that makes your heart skip.

6. Which brings me to, if it doesn’t make your heart flutter don’t do it! This is Such a toughie!! When we’re trying to produce regular content, which is new for us, sometimes I’m tempted to throw it all out there — the good the bad the ugly.  I read that KonMari book a few years ago and keep reminding myself to go back to that principle.  It has to inspire joy.  Don’t let what other people are doing side track you, if you’re true to yourself and what you love, it will shine through!  So hard, I know! 

7.  Travel. What a luxury, but it works…

girls holding lilac

8.  Collaborate. Two minds are better than one. Once you find a creative partner in crime, don’t let her go!

9.  Don’t be afraid to mess up. It happens, move on! 

10.  Push through it.  Sometimes we have to create some really terrible stuff to get to the gold, keep at it.  Don’t give up! And Use these rules, they really do help! xx 

Fitness Tutorial

5 Fitness Moves to Take on the Road

August 9, 2017

Why hello!  This is just a quick post to show you five moves which you can take on the road with you (video below).  It has taken me a bit of time to get back in the groove after baby but we’re focusing on getting back into shape and it feels great!  We travel quite a bit and I am one of those people who always packs workout gear but never takes it out of the suitcase.  Jamal, our dear friend and trainer, has helped us perfect 5 easy moves which we can take with us between cardio workouts so that we don’t totally fall of the wagon.  For me, exercise is mostly about feeling great mentally, and it makes a huge difference.  I also finally invested in some lovely new fitness gear from Lululemon (I can’t believe what a difference it makes to feel great in your workout clothes, wish I had figured that out sooner!!).   Jamal has been a tremendous help — he makes working out challenging but so much fun and doesn’t put any pressure on us.  I absolutely adore him and hope that this video helps you too, or at least makes you giggle 😉 xx

Edited by Nick Blatt.

Photography Tutorial

Inside Our Camera Bag

May 23, 2017

Hi all! We have received a lot of inquires about what camera equipment we use so I thought I would share a list of our cameras with you as well as a breakdown of how we use them.   We work with many camera systems: Leica, Contax, Pentax, Canon, Sony and the iPhone 7+.   I studied photography throughout high school and college and have a Masters in Photography from SCAD.

Those of you who are familiar with our wedding work know that we are “hybrid” shooters; this means that we shoot with both medium format film (as in ‘old school’ methods, not video) and with digital gear, too.   For weddings, engagement sessions and family portraits, I work with two Contax 645 bodies with 80 mm lenses and I shoot with two types of film:  Fuji 400H and Ilford Delta 3200 (both 120).  I send all of our film to Richard Photo Lab in California, we have our own color profile set up with them (feel free to test it out). I prefer the Nortisu scanner for most of our work — it’s fast and I love the way it looks, particularly with soft backlight.    I also use a Canon Mark iii and Mark IV for weddings, mostly after dark and for receptions.  I love shooting on very high ISO for the glowy, grainy look.  I use video lights and flashes for dancing.  I often shoot on a 30th or even a 15th (or 8th!) of a second inside — risky I know but I love the way the images turn out.

I also shoot our Fine Art Series on our film cameras and also use our medium format digital camera — the Pentax 645Z.  I love it, the images are huge and you can do a lot with them when editing.  I find it a bit slow and clunky and unmanageable for weddings.  In my opinion, it works best when we are staging a scene and I have it on a tripod.  I used it a bit for our Serena & Lily nursery shoot.   Most of our recent commercial work which I have used this camera for is still under wraps but I will share when it’s out.  For now, here is an image we took for our Fine Art Series (it hangs above our bed and prints beautifully):

Swiftly moving on then, I love love love my Leica M and 35 mm lens — most of the images you see on our Instagram and blog are shot with this camera!  Here are a few examples:

We just bought the Sony RXRII and I am excited to use it as my everyday point and shoot.  I also love using my iPhone 7+!  xx


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