My Embarrassing Confession as a Wedding Photographer

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My Embarrassing Confession as a Wedding Photographer

I have a confession: I disliked planning my own wedding. Granted, the year we got married I was finishing my last year of undergrad with a double major, working part-time, building a business, and holding down an internship (while I slowly drove myself insane). I thought planning would be all cookies and taste testings, but for someone who isn't the best decision-maker on the planet (raise your hand if you can relate 🙋) , wedding planning turned into a constant wearing down of my patience. One decision after another - flowers, seating charts, tuxes, bridesmaid dresses, shoes, hair, makeup - the list went on and on, and sometimes it felt completely endless. Maybe you're in the same boat.

I remember complaining about all of the decisions I had to someone, and then it struck me: the only decision that REALLY matters at all is the decision I've already made: to marry Nick. The toughest, most important one was already done. And somehow, that one realization brought so much peace into my life, not because it made any of the other decisions go away, but because it shrunk down the importance of any other decision I WOULD make from then on out when it came to anything wedding related.

So if you're a bride and you're in a similar season, remember: your choice of venue, direction of details, and even your appearance on the day of your wedding all pales in comparison to the man you've chosen to spend the rest of your life loving, serving, and respecting.

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What's in My Bag (Part 2): Lighting & Accessories

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What's in My Bag (Part 2): Lighting & Accessories

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from fellow photographers (or those looking to get into photography) is “what’s in your bag?” I decided to finally write a series of blog posts detailing the current gear that I use because, when I was starting out, I knew how much it helped to know what gear those in the field found useful, because, let’s be honest – there is SO MUCH gear out there. How are you supposed to know what will work best for YOU and the type of photos you love to shoot?

So if you just so happen to be interested in the tools I use to create photos, you are in luck! Second up in the "What's in my Bag" series are my favorite lighting tools and modifiers!

These are probably some of the least expensive lighting products on the market, but I LOVE them. These Yongnuo speedlights and transceivers are SUPER easy to use, and have always been very reliable in terms of firing (for me). I usually have to replace these every one to two years, but they are so cheap that I don’t even mind!!

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Lighting Equipment:

(3) Yongnuo Speedlight YN 560 III for Canon

These speedlights can be used on Canon cameras or off camera, using a receiver or transceiver (see below for more info on those!)

(3) Yongnuo YN-622C Wireless ETTL Flash Trigger Receiver Transmitter Transceiver

These transceivers are inexpensive and work with the above speedlights!

Light Modifiers & Stands:

(2) Westcott  43" White Shoot Through Umbrella

I love these white shoot through umbrellas for clean, evenly spread light, and typically use one or two of these with speedlights for family formals at weddings!

(1)  Westcott Rapid Box 26" Octa Softbox

In addition to having a few shoot through umbrellas, I love having at least one softbox I can bust out if need be! This softbox is incredibly easy to set up and is perfect for photographing portable, on the go sessions and events. In contrast to umbrellas, softboxes provide more concentrated light. I love using this one in particular for couples or individuals!

(3) Ravelli ALS Full 10' Air Cushioned Light Stand

These air cushioned light stands are my favorite for lighting receptions and dance floors! Their height allows me to place speedlights high above guest heads for less disruption during reception activities.

 

 

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More Than a Wedding Vendor

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More Than a Wedding Vendor

One thing I hear most from people when talking about wedding photography is their fear of choosing vendors who care only about booking more jobs, not about the couple themselves. But I truly believe that couples deserve more than just a vendor - they deserve a friend and encourager who can come alongside them before, during, and after the wedding planning process - not just on the day of!

"Jenna is absolutely AMAZING. I can't imagine any aspect of my wedding without her. From the minute I found her, to meeting with her in person, to our engagement photos, to my endless emails and her very speedy, friendly, knowledgeable responses, to her meeting me at a local coffee shop and helping me create a wedding day timeline, to my wedding day itself. Also, can we just take a minute to go back to that day at the coffee shop when Jenna met with me? Yes, this wonderful, talented photographer took an hour and a half out of her extremely busy schedule to buy me coffee and help me create a detailed wedding day timeline. Jenna is the most genuine, thoughtful, positive person. Her passion for both photography and people is very apparent. It was a true joy working with her and her husband, Nick. My husband and I consider ourselves very lucky and blessed that they captured so many special moments for us. I would hire her again in a heartbeat. We're so grateful for everything, Jenna and Nick! We truly can't thank you enough." - Lyndsay, 2017 Bride

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Hilary + Luke: Mellon Park Winter Engagement Photos

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Hilary + Luke: Mellon Park Winter Engagement Photos

I am so excited to introduce you to this couple! Hilary and Luke drove in from Ohio for their engagement session and were absolute champs in Pittsburgh's freezing temps! We started off their session at Coffee Tree Roasters in Bakery Square, then made our way to (an empty) Mellon Park where we were able to catch some of that beautiful afternoon winter light.

Hilary brought a beeeautiful dusty blue skirt, which she had tailored from a previously used bridesmaid dress. Talk about some beautiful upcycling! The blue tones complimented the wintery backdrop perfectly. I can hardly wait to photograph Hilary and Luke's wedding in just a little over two months! ♥

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Victoria + Kevin: Historic Harmony Engagement Photos

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Victoria + Kevin: Historic Harmony Engagement Photos

One of the most beautiful days in all of January here in Pittsburgh happened to fall on Victoria and Kevin's engagement session day! These two - Victoria from Michigan, and Kevin from Pittsburgh - met in Florida on spring break in 2010, started dating in 2014, and got engaged November of 2017 when Kevin proposed in ARUBA on the beach at sunset - talk about magical!!

Victoria's two dresses are from Amazon (can you believe it?!) and they complimented the warm color tones around Harmony perfectly! I am so excited to share this one. Congratulations on your engagement, Victoria and Kevin! :)

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What's In My Bag (Part 1): Cameras & Lenses

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What's In My Bag (Part 1): Cameras & Lenses

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from fellow photographers (or those looking to get into photography) is “what’s in your bag?” I decided to finally write a series of blog posts detailing the current gear that I use because, when I was starting out, I knew how much it helped to know what gear those in the field found useful, because, let’s be honest – there is SO MUCH gear out there. How are you supposed to know what will work best for YOU and the type of photos you love to shoot?

So if you just so happen to be interested in the tools I use to create photos, you are in luck! First up in the "What's in my Bag" series are my favorite cameras and lenses!

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(2) Canon 5D mark iii’s

Why two, you might ask? When photographing weddings, I like to make sure I have one fully functioning camera, and one back up (just in case!) - you never know what can happen, and I would hate to be left without a camera on the biggest day of someone's life!

(1) Canon 70-200 f/2.8 USM ii

This is most certainly one of my favorite lenses. I often use this lens for couples and families because of the compression (here is a great article about compression, for those of you who are interested!). I also love to hand this lens off to my second shooter to grab super tight close ups of couples and bridal parties while I am getting the main “safe” shot!

(2) Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4

This lens is by FAR my favorite lens for photographing seniors. I love the low aperture (more about that here!), which lets me create an almost dreamy-like backdrop! I also love using this lens for couples when I want to get super close up!

(2) Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4

These are my standard go-to lenses many a time for getting in large backdrops (buildings, church ceremonies, etc.), as well as for tight spaces, like getting ready photos for wedding days in small hotel rooms! I also love using my 35mm for detail photos (wedding invitations, usually!) on wedding days!

(1) Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro

In my bag, this lens really has one sole purpose: the ring shot! For wedding days and engagement sessions, I always love to have my 100mm on me to ensure I can get an epic ring shot! I also love having this lens, because it has a similar compression style to the Canon 70-200, so it can act as a backup if need be for that specific lens!

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Montana F: Winter Mellon Park Senior Photos

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Montana F: Winter Mellon Park Senior Photos

How brave is Montana for scheduling a winter senior portrait session?! Luckily enough, her session ended up falling on one of the few 50+ degree days we had in January - which was a huge blessing, considering we had rescheduled multiple times for rain and extremely cold weather! The wait was truly worth it for such a warm, beautiful January day!

Montana actually currently attends Westminster College and is right in the midst of her freshman year! (It's never too late to have senior photos taken!). This sweet lady loves reading, along with gothic architecture, making Mellon Park the perfect location for her photos. Montana also has the most beautiful green eyes that popped SO well in her photos!

Thanks so much for a wonderful session, Montana! And good luck with the rest of your freshman year! :)

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The Pros & Cons of Scheduling A Photo Session During the Winter Months

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The Pros & Cons of Scheduling A Photo Session During the Winter Months

Have you ever considered having family, senior, or engagement photos taken during the winter months? Here in Western Pennsylvania, where winters can be long and cold, not quite as many people venture out on location for photos in the dead of winter when they can curl up in front of the fire with a cup of coffee instead (I’m totally putting myself in that group of people!!). BUT if a winter photo session has ever peeked your interest as a possibility, I’ve put together a little pros and cons list to share the good and the not so good of scheduling a winter photo session!

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Pros:

We’ll get to utilize breathtaking and unique backgrounds. When I’m driving past a mountain of freshly snow covered trees, I often stare in awe. There’s something so beautiful about freshly fallen snow that makes for a clean, gorgeous backdrop, not just when you’re driving to work but when you’re having your photos taken!

You’ll have that “cozy feeling” in your photos. There’s something about having your photos taken in the winter that immediately creates a “cozy” feeling, especially during engagement and couple sessions where you are going to be close and cuddled up anyways!

You’ll have more times to choose from with a higher probability of weekend dates being available! Because there’s less demand for photos in the winter, I usually have more timeslots available, both during weekdays and on weekends. Essentially, scheduling in the winter means you’ll get a fast pass to the front of the scheduling line!

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Cons:

The obvious one: it’s COLD! Consider this test: does thinking about being out in the cold for 60 to 90 minutes make you want to never leave your house again? Then a winter photo session might not be the best choice for you. While some people don’t mind being out in the cold for an extended period of time, others would much rather wait until the warmer months (which is completely understandable!).

There’s a higher chance that your session might be cancelled or postponed due to extreme temperatures or inclement weather. Flexibility is key for winter sessions. There’s a chance your session could be snowed out (while snow is beautiful in photos, it’s not worth endangering your life for) or postponed due to freezing temperatures (who even likes to walk to their car in -5 degree weather?!). Being flexible is KEY!

It might not be the most enjoyable hour/hour and a half of your life. This one kind of speaks for itself – hanging out in the park in 15 degree weather isn’t nearly as fun as watching the sun set on a 70 degree day. The truth is, having a photo session the winter means you might be cold to your core!

What do you think? When considering the pros and cons - where do you fall? I write none of this to persuade anyone out of a winter session, but only to educate based on what some clients wish they would’ve known in the past. If you’re still interested in a winter photo session, be sure to check out my blog post “How to Prep for Your Winter Photo Session” for tips on preparing for a cold weather shoot!

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How to Prepare for Your Winter Photo Session

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How to Prepare for Your Winter Photo Session

There are SO many things I love about photographing people in a winter setting. There are lots of unique and picturesque backgrounds, and the photos always end up having an overall “cozy” feeling to them! But what does it really take to have your photos taken in the dead of winter when it’s 20 degrees (or less!) outside? There are a couple of tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years that have helped make winter sessions more enjoyable for those who are brave enough to step in front of my camera. So if YOU are planning on having family photos, couple photos, or senior photos taken during the winter – these are my best tips for you!

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Make sure the first thing you’re thinking of when planning your outfits is WARMTH!

  • Add accessories like scarves, hats, jackets, long boot socks and boots.
  • Consider actually wearing a coat for your photos!
  • Add layers underneath your chosen outfits – socks, long johns, an extra t-shirt – anything that will insulate you a little bit more!
  • If you’ll be walking around in the snow, consider bringing a pair of snow boots for walking between locations so your “nice” boots or shoes don’t get ruined!
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Bring some EXTRA warmth with you for in between shots!

  • I always bring a blanket or two with me to my sessions in the winter, but I highly recommend bringing extra for yourself if you think of it! This can be a lifesaver while walking between locations or even just between shots!
  • Hand warmers are a LIFESAVER for cold winter shoots. You can put them in your gloves, shoes, and pockets without the camera picking it up (for the most part!)
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Be willing to be flexible if the weather calls for it.

There’s a higher chance of inclement weather, especially in Western Pennsylvania in the winter months, which means that a session could easily get snowed out or cancelled due to extreme temperatures. It’s not fun to have your photo taken in negative degree weather, which can make the session (and memories associated with it) somewhat unenjoyable, which is the very LAST thing I would ever want!

As a firm believer that photo sessions can be (and should be) enjoyable, incorporating these tips and tricks into your winter photo session will ensure that you stay somewhat warm and toasty throughout your entire session!

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