If you follow me on Instagram you know I’ve had crazy wanderlust lately. I just want to get on a plane and go somewhere new. I promise, I don’t actually need to go far, but I just need to go. This weekend I’m heading to the East coast of Florida- to Saint Augustine for a wedding at the Lightner Museum. Enter, traveling florida wedding photographer extraordinaire! I’m excited that its a new city and new venue! I haven’t been to Saint Augustine in a really long time and it’s been at the top of my list for a weekend getaway because it’s a Florida buff’s dream vacation. We’ll be just a stone’s throw away from Jacksonville Beach where I stopped on my way to Savannah last August and I never posted these images from my exploration of a driftwood beach, known as Boneyard Beach (how cool is that name?!) These pretty much just remind me of how I’m no Ansel Adams but I was in love with this little nook using our brief hike down to the water. I really hope we start getting some more couples with a sense of adventure who are willing to walk a mile for an interesting location less traveled. My goal is to travel all around and hit the many places on my Florida-specific bucket list. Hope I can bring Remy here someday!
What a week! I had an incredible time visiting Las Vegas and the WPPI convention this week. I got home late last night and I’m exhausted mentally and physically but it was so very worth it. I learned a ton and am jazzed about changing some things in the business and implementing new skills and ideas. Plus, today I went through all my catalogs and WPPI swag and I ordered some products I am really excited about. I’ll post photos on our Instagram page as they arrive. I’ll post some more behind the scenes images later but right now I want to share some photos in Red Rock Canyon from Emily & Brian’s couple’s session I shot at sunrise yesterday morning. This was of course after staying out way too late and getting a total 2 hours of sleep, Vegas should be renamed “the city of bad ideas.” But, this sunrise session was stunning, and Red Rock Canyon Conservation area is gorgeous. Emily is a wedding planner in Vegas and I got connected to her through a fabulous mutual friend. I also brought my new photographer friend Merinda, of A Sweet Focus, from St. Louis along on the shoot! A lot of the actual red rocks were blocked because of construction but there were still some really cool areas we got to explore and I got to climb on boulders which, it turns out, I don’t often do during my Florida weddings. Emily & Brian were so easy going and cool with stopping wherever we felt like hopping out to shoot a little bit. It was an awesome experience and I am so happy to finally have done a shoot in the desert.
I’m waiting to board a plane to Vegas and I have quite a few thoughts about this trip: what it means to me as a professional photographer and what it means to me as far as personal envelopment as well. Also, this was definitely the shortest wait I’ve ever had at any airport. That’s what I get for choosing a flight during the damn Super Bowl. But that’s not the point. Why am I even going to Vegas? Why go to a conference you’ve attended 3 times already? You’re going to party, aren’t you, Caroline?! Don’t get me wrong, there will be parties to attend and lots of wine to drink. But this is so much more for me about learning.
So what is WPPI anyway? Well, WPPI is like the photography Super Bowl. How you ask? Well first of all, at WPPI, big companies like Canon and Nikon launch incredible new gear (or maybe newish gear you haven;t seen yet in action). There is a huge trade show filled with camera companies, album and print companies, software companies and business resources. You name it- it’s there. WPPI is how we found our amazing albums company, KISS books in 2012, and how we found our studio management software, 17 Hats, in 2015.
Secondly, many top photographers from our industry around the world teach classes on everything from better lighting set ups to making your business more profitable. Continuing education for Evan and I has been high priority since the beginning. I think the fact that we learned our craft in actual art school plays a factor there. When we first saved up to attend WPPI, we were in our 3rd year of business and in the middle of a re-brand. There was a lot changing for us and we took classes on everything we could fit into our schedule. The second year wasn’t as valuable because we had implemented tons of changes and were letting them work for us. It was more inspiring for us that year. Then two years and a baby later, I attended WPPI solo. After having Remy I really just needed a creative recharge and to be re-inspired by my business. It was terrifying and exciting and I loved it so much. I came home with incredible information and immediately starting implementing changes. An it was huge for us. Now, 2 more years later, I’m going to refine my technical skills and take some new lighting classes. That seems silly for someone who has been a full time professional photographer for 8 years. But no matter how long you’ve been in this business, you’re never perfect an you can always get better. I never ever want to become too comfortable in my business. You end up in auto-pilot and I think that’s when your art becomes just work. I always want to be inspired.
Third, meeting other photographers. There are lots of newbies and veterans alike at WPPI and it’s crazy to be able to just casually say hi or hang out with photographers whose work you have followed your entire career. It’s humbling and inspiring and sends my heart racing all at the same time. I have met some amazing friends from lots of places and found some incredible networking communities too. WPPI brings me outside of my comfort zone. Honestly this business has gradually done that- turning this once very shy person into someone who will just walk up to people and start a conversation and invite people to dinner. 20 year-old me would think that is crazy! I LOVE going to WPPI with a flexible plan. In 2015 I explored one night completely on my own and visited a museum and took photos and it was a blast. I have plenty of friends attending this year an I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of them throughout the week, but being willing to put yourself out there and talk to strangers is always rewarding.
I’m packing my bags today because I’m heading to Las Vegas, NV for my 4th WPPI convention. WPPI is the Wedding and Portrait Photographers’ International convention that is held yearly using our off season in fabulous Las Vegas. Vegas is such a great place for a convention of about 15,000 photographers because there is so much to do and see when you need to get out of class and have some vacation time. As a seasoned photographer, people often ask me how to get the most out of their WPPI experience. These are my top tips for arriving prepared, but also being willing to be spontaneous and not being a slave to the schedule.
- RESEARCH CLASSES AHEAD OF TIME. I cannot stress this enough. Study the schedule on the WPPI website and write out your top priority classes and backup options in case those classes fill up (an many of the popular speakers do hit capacity.) I also note ahead of time the ones I absolutely don’t want to miss and the ones I’m flexible on. This helps me with last minute decisions about seeing a spontaneous speaker on the trade show floor or even giving myself a break and catching a nap.
- BE FLEXIBLE. Don’t pack your schedule too much. Or if you do, let yourself change your mind last minute and miss some things to rest a little bit or grab dinner with random friends you just met.
- COMFORTABLE SHOES. Seriously. Don’t be a hero. You will need the support of your running sneakers. You will walk many miles each day going back and forth from classes, exploring the trade show and then exploring the Strip at night. If you must wear heels for parties then pack flats in your bag. Trust me.
- BRING YOUR CAMERA. Not only will you want to document things but there are tons of shooting opportunities and chances to try out new lenses right in the trade show. I’m even going a shoot in the desert for the first time! But you will be happy you brought your gear, just pack light. Maybe leave the 70-200mm at home.
- BUSINESS CARDS. Not only for networking and meeting tons of awesome photographers but for contests. Yes! Each booth an many classes will have things to give away and they often have people put their card in a bowl and have a drawing. You will want the awesome free stuff. And speaking of free stuff…
- AN EXTRA BAG. Or at least room in your suitcase to bring him tons of catalogs, brochures, samples, books, you name it. Many booths give out all kinds of swag (I personally love getting my two rolls of film from Kodak each year).
- OTHER ITEMS: Notebooks and pens for taking LOTS of notes, juice pack charger for your phone, chapstick and other things to prepare for the dry Las Vegas air. The temperature fluctuates a lot our there so prepare.
The WPPI website is a great reference too. I already bought my monorail pass at a discount through their link. My favorite site-seeing things to do: The Bellagio Fountain, the bakery & cafe in Paris, Wicked Spoon buffet in The Cosmopolitan, shopping- I love shopping everywhere in Vegas. There are lots of websites that can direct you to other ideas, including this one with lots of Vegas deals.
The most important thing though is don’t be afraid to meet people. Just walk right up to them an start a conversation. You never know when you’ll randomly be talking to someone whose work you really admire. And if you see a girl with glasses wearing the Straight Out Of Camera shirt pictured above, please come and say hi to me! I love meeting people and will totally grab coffee or dinner with you.
We absolutely love all the bright colors of Emily & Steven’s engagement session in downtown St. Pete. Of all the murals in St. Petersburg this one is definitely my favorite. I knew I had to submit it somewhere and Knotsvilla loves color! So excited to be published today. Check out the feature here!
I’ve had the idea for this shoot for about 8 years….so the entirety of our career as wedding photographers. The Abstract Expressionist movement has been my favorite since my AP Art History class in high school. Abstract Expressionism doesn’t exactly scream weddings, so the concept has been in the back of my mind until I met the right team. I’ve literally been saving those amazing stamps for 8.5 years!!! After a conversation with Jennifer from Bourbon & Blush Events about our mutual desire to work in Savannah, it seemed to be the perfect place for such a shoot because of SCAD and it’s rich arts community. A lot of our vendor team members for this shoot have art degrees in one way or another and were perfect to work on this art wedding inspiration.
Abstract Expressionism was the first American art movement to make international acknowledgement, because it was all about color and movement. During this time, artists were keen in creating an “event” on canvas and we intended to do the same with our expression. The culture was one of intense art form, some expressing that through wild fields of color and others who approached it with a more vigorous expression using blots and splatters to convey an idea or expression. Shooting our set up in a museum was important and The Jepson Center of Telfair Museum is a gorgeous space. For color, we drew inspiration from Jackson Pollock and similar artists with dark colors; purples and magentas with contrasting yellows, and lots of black which isn’t typical of wedding inspiration. We wanted to create an emotional response for viewers and think the result is bold, artsy but still completely gorgeous.
The weight of the black chairs against the table remind us of a Robert Motherwell or Mark Rothko painting. To tie in this period, it was important to use the romantic elements of that time, which was ideal for the floral to portray. Lush and full textures adorned the tables and a full and colorful bouquet cascaded and Natalie from Belle Fleur incorporated Amaranths into the table florals and bouquet to mimic paint drips. The model was sleek and bridal gown was incredibly modern.
We put lots of work into the custom art for the shoot- the main painting done by Pat of A&P Designs was used in the invitation suite and as the backdrop for the escort display. Using Pantone cards amid the bold and expressive canvas of color for the escort display, we felt tied in the importance of color in the Abstract Expressionist movement- Pantone is after all the artists of today’s platform and style guide- and a perfect touch of modern day expression. The cake was an ideal expression of modern and classic paired with our interpretation of the artist Jackson Pollock and the pieces for which he became an infamous piece of art history. We wanted to highlight the marriage of Surrealism and Cubism, which Abstract Expressionism stemmed from, while holding on to what Pollock was so well known for- his drip paintings. Hands on Sweets did a fabulous job of creating that splattered drip look for the cascading canvases on this three tiered cake. It was the connection of the artist, the venue and the cake, which made this piece so perfect! Jennifer did a mix of modern calligraphy and block lettering for the place settings and also on the place cards that I painted. I also created individual paintings for each place setting- another nod to The New York School and the postwar painters like Pollock and Cy Twombly; completely colorful, bold and expressive, but also, a terribly romantic era of American art.
Venue: Jepson Center For The Arts | Planning: Bourbon & Blush Events | Florals: Belle Fleur | Stationery & Custom Painting: A&P Designs | Cake: Hands On Sweets | Linens, Napkins, Glassware & Emma chairs: Kate Ryan Linens | Copper Flatware: Ever After Vintage Weddings | Romona Keveza bridal gown: Isabel O’Neil Bridal | Hair & Makeup: Royal Makeup & Hair |
The Celebration Society is one of my favorite wedding magazines covering the Southeast- Georgia & Florida. This month our Abstract Expressionist styled wedding shoot, that we traveled to Savannah, Georgia for, is published! Celebration is right!!! They also featured our shoot with additional images on their blog this week. Because The Celebration Society has one issue per year now we will be on newsstands for all of 2017. How cool is that? And our photo is even part of our feature with an excerpt from the write we did with Coordinator Jennifer from Bourbon & Blush Events. Here are some images of the feature I grabbed this weekend. We have just loved the response to this shoot- especially the original paintings that Caroline created. Putting that art-school education to use!
Being published is incredible every single time, and seeing our images in a magazine is definitely even more amazing. The fact that people can buy your feature in a store and that you can actually hold it and feel the pages is top notch. This is the first styled shoot we’ve submitted for print publication, so there was definitely some cheering when our box of magazines arrived. You can find your own copy in Publix, Target and other stores soon and I might also have just a few extra copies if anyone needs one ;)
The day has finally come! Our Abstract Expressionist styled shoot at The Jepson Art Center, that we traveled to Savannah, GA for, has finally come out in print! Yesterday, The Celebration Society featured the shoot on their blog an today a beautiful stack of magazines arrive on our doorstep. I am so thrilled to have this Savannah shoot published in a magazine. Our vendor team was incredible, and this was an amazing trip as well. We hope to shoot many more weddings in Savannah in the future. I’ll be posting some shots of the magazine spread soon but until then you can check out the blog feature on The Celebration Society’s site.
Yes, it’s true. Evan and I did a lip sync battle with other local being professionals in honor of Marry Me Tampa Bay’s 5 year anniversary. People who have met me less than 10 years ago don’t believe that I have a huge fear of stage fright actually because I am so outgoing as a business owner. But believe me that I use to shake when giving speeches in school and even for my best friend at her wedding that time I was Matron of Honor. But being up on stage was kind of liberating and I had so much fun. I still felt like throwing up before hand, but, really, fun, I swear. Evan however is a different story. He thrives under attention. He was quite the actor as a film student once upon a time and definitely used to perform frequently at camps as a kid. He was not nervous at all. And he knows how much wedding professionals love gold and glitter so he threw confetti at the end of his performance. It was a BLAST!
Performances | Caroline: Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes | Evan: Total Eclipse of The Heart & Footloose.
He loves Kevin Bacon so much you guys. It should be scary but I think its adorable.
We first met Alexandra & Sam over cupcakes and coffee and immediately loved them. Besides being super cute, they were really fun to hang out with and their engagement session was no different. We started at Ballast Point Park to get some more casual portraits and then switched outfits and headed to Bayshore Blvd for sunset.
♥ They’re getting married this March at David Island Garden Club.
♥ Alex & Sam recently bought their very first house together!
♥ That’s actually how Sam proposed, how adorable!
We just can’t wait to spend the whole day with these two! And seriously, how gorgeous is Alex’s smile? She is so photogenic.
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