For some reason, I just get the best clients. They’re organized, have a great taste and know how to let loose and have fun on their wedding day. This couple and their crew of friends was no exception. The couple has been together since they were fifteen and their love and affection for one another was evident.
The chose Park McCullough House for their ceremony and reception, a beautifully preserved vintage mansion set among 200 acres in Bennington, Vermont. The property has endless gardens and no shortage of beautiful places for photographs. The couple is drawn to vintage items and incorporated that into their details.They gathered, with the help of family, vintage containers for their tabletop floral arrangements. As a guest sign-in book, they opted for vintage postcards. Casey’s Kate Spade bridal shoes even have somewhat of a vintage vibe and when paired with her lace dress from Anthropology, she looked stunning.
A few special touches included jars of honey harvested from the couples’ beehive as wedding favors and Casey honoring her late father by wrapping one of his ties around her bouquet.
Thank you Casey and John for choosing me as your photographer to document all the beautiful details and fun moments of your day! Wishing you both many years of happiness!
Venue: Park McCullough House
Table Rentals: New England Country Rentals
Floral Design: The Tuscan Flower
Catering: Vermont Farms Catering
Stationery: The Printery
Entertainment: Business Time
Second Shooter: Delaina Carlson for Amy Donohue Photography
For a couple of years, my husband and I have been wanting to do a big family road trip out west exploring the National Parks. We’ve been to Colorado, hiked the Black Canyon of Gunnison, but nothing really outside Colorado or anything farther west.
The first challenge was finding three weeks in our schedules that didn’t conflict with work or school. My husband travels frequently for work, often last minute, and I book weddings up to a year in advance. Since pulling our kids from school was not an option, we knew we’d be going during summer break. While we realized July wasn’t ideal, it was the only three week period we had on the calendar without conflicts so we blocked it off and started planning.
We knew that we wanted to hit the big parks of Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, but we weren’t sure if it would be too much trying to pack that distance in after driving across the country, so the Grand Canyon was loosely planned. We knew that if things were rough, we could always head back east sooner. We used the website RoadTrippers.com and put in Yellowstone National Park to start the planning. This is a great tool as it also has an app that we used the entire trip. It allows you to see your drive time between each location. It also has certain features you can turn on or off depending on your interests. If you want to see camping locations or hotels in the area you simply select your preference and plan from there. You can also turn on local attractions, museums, hiking, etc. The other great thing about this tool is you can input your vehicle make and model and it will figure roughly how much you’ll spend in gas for your trip.
Since getting out west and returning home was at least four days drive both ways, we decided it would be best to split up this portion of the drive with two solid days of driving, a full day break in between to explore, and then two solid days of driving. This ended up being super easy. We never felt like the driving would never end, as having that one day break in between two days of driving was huge. On the way out West, we stopped at Badlands National Park for a day of exploring and on the way back we stopped in Kentucky to visit with family. We decided that we’d like to camp as much as possible unless we were at a location only one night since it was a lot of work to set up camp for just one night. This ended up being a great balance for us. We booked all our campsites ahead of time so we were guaranteed a place to land each night. If you’re considering a trip like this with camping, you need to book at least 6-9 months ahead of time. We booked campsites in and outside the National Parks. Depending on the national park, we found there to be more amenities at campsites outside the national parks. We mostly booked hotels on the way out since we wanted to knock out as many hours driving as possible. Once we were out West, we stayed in a tipi outside Yellowstone one night which was really cool and similar to glamping. We also had a hotel in Jackson Hole which was a nice break from camping and camp food.
We set out to visit seven national parks but ended up adding one more on the way home. We visited Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest. We drove through many national forests and hit a few places that we hadn’t planned on visiting such as Niagra Falls and the Meteor Crater along Route 66 in Arizona. We also added a few stops along Route 66, because you just have to. In all, we spent over 125 hours in the car driving over 7,241 miles through 20 states and loved every bit of it.
What are the takeaways from this trip?
I think this type of trip was perfect for our girls, ages 11 and 13. I think any younger and it may have been a little more challenging, but as they get older schedules become even more challenging. We know this because our son was transitioning to the University of Vermont and therefore couldn’t join us.
I took four cameras but ended up shooting entirely with my Canon 5d Mark III with my 24-70L.
The thing I loved most about this trip was the simplicity of being on the road and living with the basic necessities. It was the cleanse I needed, breaking away from the confines of life and reconnecting with family through nature. This type of travel invigorated my senses and left me with such wanderlust that I can’t wait to start planning our next road trip.
You can read more about my thoughts on how traveling fuels the soul in an article I wrote for Dear Photographer Magazine in their Epic Summer, September 2017 issue.
We didn’t plan on stopping here, but it had been so long since our last visit that the kids barely remembered. We explored for a bit, had some lunch and got back on the road heading to the Badlands.
We needed gas, time out of the car and it looked interesting so we spent a little time roaming around this ghost town where Dances with Wolves was filmed. It was the perfect stop.
This was perhaps one of the parks I enjoyed the most. It may be because I was originally thinking that our time might be better spent getting out West and exploring there instead of spending a full day exploring the Badlands. It turned out we needed that break in driving and the park also surprised me in many ways. We saw several wild animals and got extremely close to a buffalo. There was a fence between us but had I known they can jump fences and run 35 miles per hour I probably would not have gotten out of the car to grab this shot but I’m glad I have it and I’m alive to share it here.
We ended up camping in the park at Cedar Pass Lodge Campground. We were really happy with the campgrounds but our first night we were sent running for the truck. A micro storm with lightning came through waking us up in the middle of the night. The wind was so strong and our tent was being challenged as it bent over, nearly on top of our faces. We could hear everyone out hammering down their tent stakes. We got out and did the same moving our heavy stuff from the truck to our tent and sleeping the rest of the night in the truck. Similar storms also brought a beautiful rainbow during dinner one night.
We did a sunset hike the night before heading out which was one of my favorites.
Drove through on our way to Yellowstone. This was a quick stop, really the majority of these photos were taken from the road, and we could have made it quicker by not going in but we did. We drove to Crazy Horse but didn’t go in because it was so far away from completion. If it is ever completed though it would be worth the drive in since it is so much larger than Mount Rushmore.
Four nights camping, three days exploring.
Our first night we opted to splurge and upgrade our camping experience to see what glamping was all about. We spent the night right outside Yellowstone at Dreamcatcher Tipi Hotel in Gardiner, Montana. This was really fun since we didn’t tell the girls about it until we pulled into the parking lot. There were approximately 10 tipis at the site with really nice bathrooms nearby. Our tipi had a king sized bed and chaise lounge with electricity and had enough room for two twin rollaway beds. However, since we arrived late, they didn’t have enough. They were very kind and apologetic offering a credit on our bill so we made it work for the night. Each night they have a communal campfire with s’mores, and beer and wine for the adults. It was nice meeting and chatting with fellow travelers about their journey.
The next three nights we camped outside Yellowstone on the west side at Wagon Wheel Campground. We were surprised to see this campground in the middle of town. It seemed like a nice RV campground but the tenting area was rather small. Luckily, there were only one or two other tenters so we were able to expand beyond our small site into other sites.
Day one we explored the northern part of Yellowstone as we drove in through the park to our campsite. We stopped at Boiling River for a dip. It was really cool as the water was a combination of freezing cold river water mixed with extremely hot water coming from the spring. You definitely have to be careful though as some areas would get really hot. We also saw a few of the lesser known geysers.
Day two we explored Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake. It was rainy part of the day but that made the red rocks that more vibrant.
Day three we spent exploring the bigger known geysers of Old Faithful, including the geyser trails beyond Old Faithful, Morning Glory Pool, and Grand Pristine Spring which was breathtaking. It would have been great to get a drone shot of this one with the changing colors from yellow to blue but, FYI, drones are not allowed in any of the national parks. I should have read up on this before our trip as I could have saved some space in the car.
We drove in from the North and the view just kept getting more spectacular around every turn. The girls pretty much slept through a lot of these views since we hit the road so early and this was about half way through our trip. It was nice driving into Jackson Hole and relaxing in a hotel bed.
Funny note about this. We were telling the girls that Grand Teton translated to French means Big Tits as the early French trappers named the mountains. When we got to our hotel I uploaded these photos and for the caption just put “Grand Tetons” which to my horror Facebook translated to read….yup, you guessed it. Big Tits. I got a few private messages alerting me to it and one from my son saying “nice mom”. Damn you Facebook translate!
Two nights and one full, hot day of exploring and hiking.
It was 103 in Moab and we ended up getting a late start the one day we had to explore because our camp site had a bees nest in the tree. They seemed to like the smell of bacon!
With this late start, we didn’t get to the trail head of Delicate Arch, the arch you see on Utah’s license plates, until 1:00. It’s approximately 1.5 miles in and out and takes approximately 3 hours. Because of the heat, we weren’t sure the girls could handle it so we opted for the half mile hike where you could at least still see Delicate Arch. Although we got to see it, it was small looking at it from a mile away. Next time we’ll plan better and do the hike early enough that we avoid the hottest time of day.
Although the heat was intense and the girls were seeking every bit of shade they could, this southern girl was soaking it up. Except at night. I wish I had an air conditioned Airstream at night. In fact, because our campsite had electricity, we bought a fan and put it in the tent to keep from sticking to the outside of our nylon sleeping bags.
Approximately one hour drive to through with a few stops on our way to Zion National Park.
This park is pretty close to Arches so we hit it early in the morning after packing up from Arches and on our way to Zion. It was so early that getting a shot of all four of us in front of Mesa Arch without having to wait for other tourists to move out of the way was nice.
1-2 hour drive through on our way to Zion National Park.
I loved the beautiful colors of this park and wish we’d had more time to do a horseback ride. At this point, the girls were getting pretty giddy getting in and out of the car and racing out to the lookout points.
This ended up being one of my favorite places for hiking, and the star gazing at night from our tent was unbelievable. We stayed inside the park at Watchman Campground. We purchased one of the last sites back in February when we were planning our trip and it was a hike-in site. It wasn’t much of a hike but it was more effort to get our food and camp stove to our site so we opted to eat our dinners out here.
We wanted desperately to hike the narrows but the park rangers advised against it. Although it was sunny and beautiful where we were, there were potential thunderstorms developing north of us which meant that the narrows could flood, and flood quickly. Although we had that warning, we did hike the one mile to the beginning of the narrows and was surprised to see so many people not letting that stop them. We decided that we’d take a quick dip in the river before making our way back to camp.
Our Last night in Zion and our view from a fantastic pizza place, Zion Pizza & Noodle.
One full day exploring and one night of camping. We had originally scheduled two nights camping here but we thought it would be wiser to start our journey home and give ourselves one full day break with family inbetween two days of driving.
We drove into the park from the east exploring Desert View Watchtower first. Then we drove through the park and setup camp at Mather Campground before heading out for a sunset view of the canyon at Mohave Point. Many people got off at Hopi Point but we kept going to get away from the crowds and we knew from our research that Mohave point would also give us a spectacular view. It was a smart move because for the longest time there weren’t a lot of people around and we were able to get a shot of the four us before it became more crowded.
This wasn’t on our original list of national parks but on the drive home we thought we’d make a small detour and check it out. It was amazing to see wood that had turned to stone and the beautiful colors it made.
The other interesting piece about this park was learning about the ancient Puebloan tribes that lived in this area and seeing the abundant petroglyphs on rocks that were over 800 years old.
Also, we tried to take a photograph of at least the kids at each national park sign. Cheesy, I know, but it’s great for the album we made. We discovered towards the end that most national park signs also have a camera “post” or “pod” so you can do selfies in front of the sign instead of mom or dad being left out because they’re taking the photo.
Located in Winslow, Arizona this crater site is unbelievable. The white patch you see in the bottom center is the dig site where you can see cutouts of the American flag and a 6’4″ tall person only visible through binoculars. The crater is nearly a mile wide, 570 feet deep and approximately 49,000 years old. A must stop if you’re in the area and it doesn’t take long to see the crater and walk through the informative museum.
And, that’s a wrap until our next road trip adventure.
Julia and Matt are tying the knot soon but wanted to do engagement photos before the big day. We met at a location they both love, Shelburn Farms. It’s such a beautiful venue on Lake Champlain and the view never gets old. We had so much fun walking around exploring the property and talking about their wedding day plans. I’m excited to photograph their day but until then, here are some gorgeous shots from their engagement session.
What a sweet session this was for this new mom and dad. We met early for a sunrise session at a new-to-me location, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park in the heart of Woodstock, Vermont. I’ve visited Billings Farm but have never really explored the park side of the road. It is absolutely stunning and a great place to walk your dog, hike, tour the gardens and buildings OR have your family portrait session! Check out all the sweetness of this family!
Chelsea and Connor had a storybook wedding celebration last weekend at The Woodstock Inn & Resort. Chelsea’s parents and grand parents both got married at the North Chapel so the couple thought it was only fitting to exchange their vows at the same spot. Upon exiting the church, the couple, along with their friends and family, were led to their reception through town by two members of the band Young Love and the Thrills based out of Boston, MA.
The couple worked with Birds of a Flower to create a classic, romantic feel. Bamboo sticks were used as place card holders set in moss covered boxes. Moss was also used on the bridal table as a beautiful base that was topped with glassware from Simon Pearce holding beautiful floral arrangements and candles.
Chelsea adorned a gorgeous gown by Christos that allowed her to move so eloquently throughout the day from the first look to the dance floor. She wore her grandmother’s seawater blue ring as her something borrowed, something blue. Her bridesmaids wore a mix of navy and light blue lace dresses by Self Portrait. The groom and groomsmen wore blue blazers and pants with ties from The Tie Bar.
Chelsea and her family worked with Post Road Press at Two Ems to create their paper goods. Chelsea’s talented sister created the artwork and collaborated with Post Road Press to create beautiful stationery from the dinner menu to the save the date cards. Having her sister’s artwork on their wedding papers provided a perfect special touch.
Another thing the couple did was in addition to opting for a first look, they pre-organized their timeline to have all their formal portraits out of the way before the ceremony, including family formal portraits. I have to say that I was a bit nervous packing this much in before the ceremony but we approached it with some flexibility knowing that if we weren’t able to get through all the portraits before the ceremony, we would finish them up during cocktail hour. With proper planning, we made it happen so that the couple ended up enjoying ALL of their cocktail hour with friends and family. Now that I’ve done it and see how much more the couple enjoyed their cocktail hour, I highly recommend it. Chelsea and Connor were able to enjoy mingling and catching up with guests they may not have seen in a long time.
By the way, speaking of first looks, how adorable is the mini-first-look Connor had with his mom right before the first look with Chelsea? Lots of good take aways from this wedding and so much fun!
Thank you, Chelsea and Connor, for choosing me as your wedding photographer! It was so much fun being with you on your day and capturing all the fabulous in between moments!
Venue: Woodstock Inn & Resort
Floral Design: Birds of a Flower
Stationery: Post Road Press at Two Ems & Lily Andrews artwork
Tent and Table Rentals: Rain or Shine Events
Catering & Cake: Woodstock Inn & Resort
Entertainment: Young Love and the Thrills
Makeup: Maison Roug
Hair: Woodstock Inn Spa
Wedding Dress: Christos Bridal
Second Photographer for Amy Donohue: Jennifer McKenna Photography
They’ve been together for nearly a decade and they’re planning to say their vows with their families in just one week!! I can’t wait to photograph all the beautiful details of their Woodstock wedding now after photographing their engagement session. These two want the focus of their wedding to be celebrating two families coming together and it shouldn’t be any other way. Stay tuned for more gorgeousness from these two and their soon to be wedding day!!
Meg and Aaron chose to get married in such a beautiful venue, Enfield Shaker Museum located in Enfield, New Hampshire. They wanted a woodland themed wedding that reflected their love the outdoors and their passion for foraging. They chose a foot bridge in the woods for their first look which turned out to be so magical. Meg was not afraid to get barefoot and get closer to the stream in her wedding dress to capture some gorgeous photographs. I love that Aaron was there to help her navigate as a true gentleman. And, can we talk about how he gazes at her? It was absolute admiration. I can’t say that I don’t blame him though, as Meg was astunning.
The couple wanted to foster a sense of community with their bridal party opting for a mix of bridesmaids and bridesmen as well as groomsmen and groomsmaids. I love how they mixed it up and also that Meg’s brothers fulfilled their bridesmen duties by helping her with her flower crown. It was so sweet to be able to photograph this.
The couple, being foragers, collected sea glass near their home on the coast of Maine and distributed to each guest as they arrived at the ceremony. They asked each guest to say a special blessing on the glass. The glass was then collected and put in a vase the couple will keep in their home. I love it when couples do away with traditions that don’t make sense to them and create ones that mean something to them. It’s one of the best things you can do on your wedding day.
To Meg and Aaron, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to photograph your gorgeous day and for being adventurous and willing to go unique places to capture beautiful photographs of you on your big day.
Venue: Enfield Shaker Museum
Tent & Table Rentals: Blood’s Events and Catering
Catering: Maple Street Catering
Pie Desserts: Made by family and guests
Second Shooter for Amy Donohue Photography: Mike Tracy
Hallie and Brendan wanted to get married in Vermont, a place they hold dear to their hearts since attending Middlebury College. They wanted a simple but elegant wedding and what better location than the Basin Harbor Club located on Lake Champlain. The day was absolutely beautiful with a few rain showers that only provided some dramatic skies during their portraits but held off during the ceremony. Hallie wore a dress by Amy Kuschel which she looked amazing in. A Schoolhouse Garden created gorgeous flower arrangements and Emily Rose Ink created stationery for the couple.
Hallie and Brenden, I cannot express enough how beautiful your day was and what an honor it was to be your photographer. I wish you both the best of luck as husband and wife!
Venue | Basin Harbor Club
Catering & Dessert | Basin Harbor Club
Stationery | Emily Rose Ink
Floral Design | A Schoolhouse Garden
Hair | Simplicity Salon
Entertainment | Star Dust Band (Boston)
Wedding Gown | Amy Kuschel
Second Photographer for Amy Donohue Photography | Delaina Carlson
Once again, I have teamed up with my talented friends at Birds of a Flower for a collaboration with fairies and all natural products made by Crystal Gardens Herbs. This collaboration took place in a magical location nestled in the woods in Bradford, Vermont. Heather and Piper created a fairy tale with their beautiful work and it was so much fun watching these little girls play in this magical place and photograph every detail.
Who says headshots have to be boring? Why not infuse a little creativity in them like this client. Meg wanted something that was different but reflective of her creative side. To make sure we were on the same page, she sent over a few sample photos to help convey what she was hoping to achieve with her portrait session. I suggested that we meet at Cedar Circle Farm since the location had elements that were important to her. This was my first time shooting in a greenhouse and I love the even lighting it provided. In just a short time we were able to achieve many different looks that she can use for different purposes.
Want to do a creative session like this one? Let’s chat and collaborate to create something you love.
Jenna and Tyler had the sweetest and most romantic wedding at Dowd’s Country Inn last weekend. I’m pretty sure I cried more at their wedding than any other wedding. I cried happy tears because they are such genuine people who are so madly passionate for not only each other but life and living gently on this earth. From Tyler’s dad playing and singing during the ceremony to listening to all the speeches from friends and family recounting so many fun memories allowing me the opportunity to really understand a little about these two. What I do know is how lucky they are to have found one another and what an honor it was to photograph every detail of their day and their love for one another.
Jenna and Tyler wanted to keep things simple and have a meaningful wedding. This meant cutting out a lot of traditions that they didn’t understand or connect with and instead let family and friends create new and meaningful elements in the form of speaking, art, and music. This meant no formal entrance, no bouquet toss, no cake cutting, just lots of fun celebrating with their closest friends and family. Tyler’s dad played and sang two beautiful songs at the ceremony. A mutual friend of the couple created artwork that they incorporated in their stationery and paper goods. Jenna used vintage table clothes that were her moms and grandmothers. The couple used vintage door knobs as table card holders. Tyler made the beautiful arbor and flower pots around the arbor for their ceremony. Jenna and Tyler live a homestead life and wanted to use flowers from Cedar Circle Farm but had a talented friend, Still By Nicole, work her magic with the wedding florals. Jenna surprised her bridesmaids with a new and different dress from what she had previously picked out because she fell in love with a Alexandra Grecco dress at Everthine just four weeks before her wedding!! Her bridesmaids were shocked, but I think Jenna made a good call as she looked simply stunning in this dress and the best part was that it had pockets! A wedding dress with pockets? I didn’t know it existed but what a clever idea!
Jenna and Tyler, your day couldn’t have been more romantic and beautiful. The love you have for one another is so abundantly clear and there is so much love that surrounds you among your friends and family. You have touched so many people’s lives, another reason I cried so much at your wedding and why I think you two make a perfect pair. I am so incredibly honored that you chose me to be a part of your day and that you allowed me the opportunity to document every detail celebrating your love for one another.
Venue | Dowd’s Country Inn
Catering and Dessert | Dowd’s Country Inn
Stationery | Silk and Willow
Invitation Calligraphy | Earnest Bee Calligraphy
Escort Cards and Table Number Calligraphy | Still by Nicole
Wedding Gown | Alexandra Grecco at Everthine Bridal
Wedding Favors | Handmade Tea Bottles by the bride and groom from plants they foraged
Second Photographer for Amy Donohue Photography | Mike Tracy
This year I got to kick off the wedding season with one of my favorite couples and I knew it was going to be perfect when Sasha filled out her wedding day questionnaire with all the details of her day. She was well organized ahead of time and selected a great team of wedding vendors that created a magical day. The weather was absolutely amazing and the sunset was mesmerizing at the end of the night.
Sasha and Aaron were surrounded by so much love from their friends and family. They chose their siblings as their bridal party. Sasha wanted hues of purple and plum with her floral arrangements including sea holly, something that grows in abundance near their home. I’d say Erin from Nectar and Root did an amazing job. They wanted to include their dog, Lila, in the ceremony who behaved so nicely. For something different, but local, they chose Vermont Maple Sriracha sauce as both a wedding favor and seating chart for guests to find their seats. Sasha found her wedding dress and hair piece on Etsy creating the most gorgeous and classic ensemble. She borrowed a blue and diamond bracelet from a family member which served as her something borrowed, something blue piece for good luck. One very important element of their day was the ten-piece band from Brooklyn, NY, called The Cool Rulers, who put on a show making it difficult to leave when my time shooting was over. The couple wanted their wedding to not only be a celebration of their love but also a celebration ending their three-year stay in Vermont before making a big move to the west coast for Aaron to complete his residency.
Sasha and Aaron, I wish you both the best of luck as you start this new chapter of your lives and embark on this new adventure. No matter what, I’m confident you will always be surrounded by love and you will most definitely make sure fun is had!
Venue | Shelburne Farms Inn & Coach Barn
Floral & Decor Design | Nectar & Root
Stationery & Paper Goods | Lulu & Roo Design Studio
Table Rentals | Vermont Tent Rental
Catering | Let’s Pretend Catering
Cake & Dessert | New Moon Cafe
Entertainment | The Cool Rulers
Hair | Sarah Jean @ Di Moda Salon
Makeup | Heather Garrow @ Makeup Artists Guild
Videography | Juharo Productions
Second Shooter for Amy Donohue Photography | Emily Pogo @ Pogo Photo
Wedding Gown | Via Etsy – Milamira Bridal
Balloons | Rubber Bubbles
Wedding Favors | Vermont Maple Sriracha
What happens when creative entrepreneurs get together to play? You get some pretty amazing things in my opinion. Creating for the sake of creating is a great reminder of why we do what we do. It fuels our souls to create for ourselves and can be more freeing than when working within the constraints that often accompany client work.
When Heather and Piper of Birds of a Flower floral shop in Woodstock, Vermont called me saying she had an abundance of flowers and had this terrific idea of creating an English Tea Party on a beautiful horse farm nearby with their daughters, I completely cleared my schedule to make this happen. It sounded exactly what I needed after taking somewhat of a creative break to focus on other things.
Heather wanted to showcase a new local startup called The Purple Cookie Company with delicious cookies. She also envisioned using British made products such as Hunter Boots, Jelly Cat Stuffed Animals and Mini Boden clothing to complete the English look.
I envisioned capturing a scene that included the girls and horses but of course when you’re working with young kids, babies and animals sometimes you have to throw all expectations out the window. If it works, great. If it doesn’t and someone starts to get upset, you shift gears and go with another idea. So, to capture exactly what I had in my head for this shoot was an absolute dream. These girls and their moms were simply the best to work with I hope you enjoy viewing the fun we had just being our creative selves and how adorable these cuties are.
Katie’s grandmother contacted me about gifting a “coming of age” portrait session to her granddaughter and I thought to myself what a fantastic idea! I had never considered this type of session but I was excited she asked. We met at a location that is dear to Katie and her grandmother, Ohana Family Camp on Lake Fairlee, Vermont. I love this camp and the people who work there. It provides many opportunities for gorgeous photos, even when it’s an overcast day as it was during this session. There is the area near the lodge that provides vistas of the surrounding mountains and a short walk down to the waterfront provides more opportunities for gorgeous photographs. We almost didn’t go down to the water since it was getting dark, but we got lucky and ran into a friend on the grounds who offered a golf cart so we quickly seized the opportunity and I’m so glad we did. The water was so serene and reflecting gorgeous light.
Since this was my very first “coming of age” portrait session, it makes me wonder why more people don’t do these types of sessions. It’s a BIG milestone in a young person’s life and the changes between middle school and high school are drastic ones. It has certainly made me think about documenting this time for my own girls when they reach this milestone. It’s such an exciting time and one that should be documented. I’m so glad Katie’s grandmother contacted me for this session. It has brought light to how important and special this time is and that we should try to preserve it as best we can.
In January I went to a relatively new photography conference called Photo Native in Provo, Utah. I chose this conference because it had a lineup of star-studded educators that I really wanted to learn from that included Summer Murdock, India Earl, and Ben Sasso. The best thing about this conference, over other conferences that I’ve attended, was that I could go to any class I wanted. I didn’t have to sign up ahead of time and I didn’t have to stress about paying for a conference ticket first and then move to the next step of registering for classes to only learn the ones I had my heart set on were full.
The conference offered add-on dinners and photography shoots with various photographers and educators with limited seats. These add-ons were limited to preserve the learning atmosphere, creating an intimate environment to learn and an opportunity to connect and ask questions with the instructor. I was fortunate to snag a dinner seat with Summer Murdock and a styled shoot with India Earl, two photographers whose work has inspired me for a while. I love Summer’s documentary style of photographing her own family and India’s dreamy work with couples and weddings. It was amazing to have dinner with other creative photographers in a laid back atmosphere and chat all things photography. The photo shoot with India Earl was also laid back and a great learning experience. I was able to play around with India’s 45mm Tilt Shift lens which creates a pretty dreamy.
I learned so much at this conference and walked away feeling inspired on many levels and with new friendships. I love the photos I captured. They represent a very different feel from what I have experience shooting and that’s what I like. These images make me feel something and make me want to take my work in an entirely different direction. If you’re a couple who likes what you see and you want to create unique, dreamy and intimate portraits, let’s chat and create something amazing!
Are you a wedding and portrait industry creative struggling with pricing your services? You’re not alone. I’m here to tell you that there is a systematic and strategic way to price yourself and be profitable.
When I first started my photography business I had no idea what to charge for my services. I did what most everyone else does in the creative industry. I scoured websites of fellow photographers to see what the range of pricing was and then set my prices based on what I valued my work and services to be.
I wasn’t considering what I needed to make for income or what my costs would be.
Don’t get me wrong. You absolutely need to know what your market will bear and what clients perceive as value. But, you should also know what your costs are for each client, make sure you are making enough to cover those costs, pay your taxes and at the end of the day pay yourself a livable wage.
During my first year in business, I was able to cover my costs, pay taxes and make a small amount of money. And because I am a spreadsheet nerd, I tracked my time spent with each type of client, my overall expenses but was I making enough to pay myself a livable wage and support my family?
Hardly. I was fortunate that for the first few years of starting my business I could focus solely on growing it as my husband’s salary covered our monthly household expenses. But, I quickly realized that I needed a more formal way to check in and make sure I was achieving my goals, not just waiting until the end of the year, seeing whether it was a good year or not and then paying myself if I had anything left over. With this in mind, I developed the Profitable Pricing Workbook to keep me on track. There are a few steps involved in using the workbook and I will outline them briefly below.
First, you need to know what your household needs are for income. If you don’t already know this information, you can track your monthly expenses for a month and get an idea of what is needed then adjust as needed. I use financial software to track all our accounts and spending so I could easily pull this information. There are many options for financial software such as Quicken, Quick Books, Mint, You Need a Budget, Fresh Books and even free excel spreadsheets although you’re going to have to do a bit more work with a spreadsheet.
Once you know what your household expenses are, you can now see what you need for income. This spreadsheet takes into account tax rates so you’ll need to figure out what those are too. This will work nicely for Sole Proprietor Limited Liability Companies that make less than $118,500 annually. The IRS taxes amounts above $118.500 differently and also different types of Limited Liability Companies. It is best to check with your accountant to for an accurate tax rate.
Figuring out how much of your gross pay goes to taxes and setting it aside will also help when tax time comes because you have been fiscally responsible in your planning. The worksheet takes your gross income, tax rate and figures out what you should be charging to make enough to cover your household expenses.
The final step of the worksheet once you have gathered all the numbers and input them, allows you to play around with how much you want to work, how many bookings do you anticipate and will adjust according to what your household needs are. Perhaps you only want to work part-time but realize after doing the numbers you aren’t covering your business expenses, let alone your household expenses. You would need to make some decisions to either cut out some business expenses or increase the amount of time you work and/or your bookings.
Obviously, if your end results show you should be charging an amount that is outside what your market can bear, then you need to evaluate and make some adjustments so that you’re in line with what your market can bear.
I hope you find the Profitable Pricing Workbook to be helpful and please reach out if you have any questions along the way!
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” – Brene Brown
I love the group of photographers over at the Luminance Project and the continual push to create. As always, I’m incredibly honored to have an image included in the posting.
I was first introduced to double exposures through a tutorial offered on the Project Life 365 blog by Ravi Vora using an iphone and various apps. I thought the images were really creative and cool but never had a chance to really try it out. Then, one day I stumble upon the blog of Dylan and Sarah Photography, a husband and wife team with an insane amount of talent for wedding portraiture living on the west coast. Sarah had blogged about how she created an image for which she received a Fearless Award for by creating a double exposure using her Canon 5DIII. For those who don’t know, double exposure isn’t new, in fact, it originated with film and Sarah explains all this in her blog post. Sarah’s tutorial (with video) made it seem so easy that I wanted to give it a try.
Fast forward to now and I’m attempting, along with some other very talented photographers, to get in the frame more often and let go of my insecurities of being on this side of the lens. First off it’s challenging just to get in front of the camera when you’re way more comfortable on the other side taking photos of everything you see as beautiful. It’s not easy letting go of what I perceive to be imperfections within myself. Secondly, it’s hard to be creative each week doing self-portraits and for me, my creativity is at an all-time low during those last winter months when all I can think of is winter ending and seeing signs of spring.
For this particular photo, I thought it might be fun try something different and try a double exposure. I had no preconceived idea of what I was capturing. I just set up my camera on my tripod and did a few test shots in double exposure mode and then tried a few different things. I ended up trashing lots of them but loved how this one turned out. This is why I love digital photography, there is no cost involved in experimenting and trying new things. It makes me realize I need to give this a go more often and just see where it takes me. Who know, maybe I’ll end up creating something I love like this self-portrait.
If you’re like me, January is a time to set goals for the year, clean out the old and get organized for a successful year. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a local group of small business women entrepreneurs about how I use innovation in my photography business. In speaking with this fabulous group of women, I realized this was something I was very passionate about, sharing information that has helped me along the way. So, this is the first of many posts to come related to business talk, where I share insights that I’ve gained in running a small business the past few years.
Let’s face it, we’re all stretched beyond our limits a large percentage of our time these days. We have more distractions than ever pulling us in many different directions. I know I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed trying to live a work-life balance. I’m a mom, wife, part-time business student, community volunteer and solo entrepreneur who doesn’t outsource any part of my business at this time. I’ve found it necessary to rely on tools and systems that I’ve established through the years to keep me organized and able to manage the various aspects of my business and personal life.
Below are some of the tools I have found to be most useful in keeping me organized. Please know they are not the only option and may not work for your particular business depending on what industry you are in, but they have helped me significantly in my photography business.
I am not an affiliate with any of the companies whose products are recommended below. My opinion is based solely on my personal experience using these products.
- 17Hats – I started using 17hats a few years ago for client management software which has been a huge help in keeping all my clients organized. It allows me to create quotes, contracts, and invoices all electronically lowering my businesses’ carbon footprint. It works seamlessly with Stripe and allows me to create workflows for the different types of clients I have so that every client gets the attention they deserve.
- Quickbooks – When it comes to finances, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Sure, it’s one of my least favorite things to do, but checking in on your business numbers at least twice a month is a really important habit to get in. How do you know how your business is doing if you don’t have a pulse on the finances? Quickbooks makes it easy. It allows me to track expenses and categorize them so that when it’s time for taxes I can pull the information I need painlessly. It also syncs with my bank accounts, so reconciling statements is a snap.
- G-Suite – This is one of my favorite collaboration tools from Google Sheets and Pages to Google Calendar. I made the switch from a pen and paper calendar a few years back, and although it took a little getting used to, it has made my life so much easier. My husband recently jumped on the Google Calendar bandwagon so we could share one another’s schedule making it easier to plan things such as vacations and doctor’s appointments. Google Sheets makes it easy to collaborate with brides and grooms on finalizing their timelines and formal portrait list.
- Boomerang for Gmail – Gmail is the best email platform, but even better when paired with Boomerang. Boomerang is a third party plugin that allows you to schedule emails. It also allows you to filter incoming emails by scheduling when you want to see the message again. For example, if you’re out running errands and see that a client emailed you but you don’t want to forget to respond you can set the email to come back to you at a later time when your in the office. For me, I like to use the feature to schedule outgoing emails. If I need to send an email in the future, but I’m afraid I’ll forget, I can draft the email and set Boomerang to send it out when I schedule it. It allows me to get things off my plate while they’re fresh on my mind. It also helps if you a have a re-occurring email that you need to send out regularly. You can set it and forget it.
- Mailchimp – If you aren’t building an email list, you should be. Social media is great for reaching the masses, but social media is rented space. If Facebook and Instagram went away tomorrow how would you share content with your target clients? Email has been around longer than any other media platform, and it’s the only sure way to deliver the content to your target audience. Mailchimp makes the process easy by embedding subscribe forms right on your website (see below!). This way your clients, or potential clients, don’t miss out when you’re offering exclusive deals or have valuable information to share with them.
- Skype – Skype not only allows me to chat with the hubby when he’s traveling it allows me to chat with potential brides and grooms. The majority of my wedding clients don’t live in the area so chatting through Skype when we can’t do it in person, allows us to get to know one another a little better before the big day. Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the biggest decisions during the wedding planning process, and I think it’s important for couples to feel comfortable with who they choose. Skype allows both myself and potential couples to get a feel for one another to see if we’re a good fit.
- Mile IQ – This app is on my phone, and because my phone goes everywhere with me, it tracks all my mileage for tax purposes. It’s easy to use and allows you to categorize your drives as personal (charity, medical, etc.) or business (between offices, customer visit, meeting, errand/supplies, airport/travel, etc.). The app paid for itself the first two months I had it.
- Wunderlist – This app is on my phone and computer, and I use it for both my business and personal life. Because my work is seasonal, there are some things that I do during the “off-season” but need to keep those to-do lists stored somewhere so I don’t forget, and this is where Wunderlist comes in handy. It allows you to create lists for everything, set reminders and due dates and even invite others to collaborate and join your lists. Often when I am out, I will think of things I need to do and will add it in the app, so I don’t forget. I use it for my grocery list and have my husband as a collaborator so he can add items too. This way either one of us can swing by the store when we’re out and pick up what we need without having to run home and grab the list from the side of the refrigerator. We also have started a list of movies to watch, places to travel and a house list of things to do.
- Grammarly – I just started using this plugin and then purchased the app this year since going back to school when one of my business instructors advised the class to use it on our work. Since it is installed on my computer it works with pretty much all the programs I use. It basically allows me to type as fast as my fingers will go, getting all content out there, but then acts as a proofreader. It catches many things that I would otherwise gloss over after staring at my computer screen.
- Evernote – I started using Evernote before I started my business to take notes when I was at meetings. Now, I use it to organize web pages, notes, and thoughts when doing research for blog posts and for my classes.
While all these things help me stay organized, I still rely on a good old spiral notebook and pen for a daily list of items to do. I have lists within Wunderlist and also within 17hats of what needs to be done with my clients, but writing down in a plain spiral notebook what needs to be done each day the night before helps me stay focused and productive during the day. I don’t always get through the list, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever gotten through a list in my notebook, but if I can check off a few things, I’m feeling like it was a productive day. It’s the one thing that I don’t think I can give up, even with all the innovative digital tools I’ve listed above.
What about you? What tools do you use that have helped you in your business or personal life? I welcome you to share in the comments below what you have found most helpful along the way. And, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you don’t want to miss out on more chat about running a small business.
The slow season for Vermont wedding professionals provides a great opportunity for vendors to collaborate and create inspiration without the confines that often accompany client work. It allows for a free flow of creativity from the vendors and provides inspiration for the bride to be. Creating just for the sake of creating, without any restrictions, can be very liberating and helps keep us inspired as well. Winter can be a beautiful season to get married and we wanted to showcase just how beautiful it can be.
We started with a palette of blue and gray in choosing a beautiful dress by Claire LaFaye. From there we wanted to compliment the blue and gray tones with warmer tones of gold and yellow. Because we chose an elegant, but unorthodox wedding dress color we balanced the look with simple and traditional elements in the jewelry provided by Von Bargen’s Jewelry and a headpiece provided by Fiori Bridal. The gown looked beautiful paired with gorgeous gold shoes also provided by Fiori Bridal. Warm touches also balanced out the floral arrangements created by Petals Floral Design. Instead of going with just one cake we wanted a display of cakes which together looked like a work of art designed by Irene’s Signature Desserts. We included hand-calligraphed invitations by Calligraphy Arts and a watercolor painting of the venue, Apple Hill Inn in Woodstock, Vermont, crafted by Michelle Boleski of Petals Floral Design. We couldn’t help but to include one of our favorite wedding favors from Red Kite Candy who can create custom wedding favors to suit your needs. Vermont Tent Company provided tables, chairs, linens and tableware. And we couldn’t have done this shoot without our fabulous model Lulu Lovering who looked equisit with makeup by Jennifer Perellie makeup artist and hair by Studio Tress.
We hope you find this winter styled shoot as inspiring as we did!
Featured on Artfully Wed.
Last winter I had the most amazing opportunity to collaborate with other vendors in my first style inspiration shoot. This type of collaboration gives wedding industry professionals an opportunity to create a wedding look without having the influence of a client. It’s a great way to experiment and create something truly inspiring. The vendors donate their time and products and in return receive the images for their own marketing purposes. I’m so excited that this shoot came together beautifully with the vendors listed at the bottom participating. Even better, the inspiration can be found on Burnett’s Boards, where you can find lots of bridal inspiration.
Stylist: Caroline Reusen of Belles and Bubbles Wedding Blog
Floral Design: Petals
Dress: Cathy Telle
Cakes: A to Z Cakes
Table Rental: Blood’s Catering and Party Rentals
Tableware: Simon Pearce
Hair Accessory: Melinda Rose Designs
Silk Ribbon: Silk & Willow
Ring: Trumpet & Horn
Stationery: Linen & Leaf
Bow Tie: Beau Ties of Vermont
This summer I had the opportunity to work with Birds of a Flower based in Woodstock, Vermont on a beautiful wedding. Their work is so gorgeous and I was super excited when they asked me to participate in a collaborative fall shoot that involved the cutest little four-year-olds and Icelandic ponies. I was certain that I’d need to rely on my experience photographing horses previously and my bag of tricks for the little ones. However, it turned out that none of that experience was needed. These two girls are the best of friends who love riding horses and the horses couldn’t have been more gentle. The stone wall, nestled under trees adorning bright yellow leaves, was decorated with complementary florals, creating a magical place for the girls to romp and play with their ponies. The day was so much fun and full of laughter. Although I’ve never even been on a horse, it makes me want to be a little girl again and have a pony party for my birthday. I hope it does you too!
This collaboration was featured over on Beyond the Wanderlust.
One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is Riverview Farm in Plainfield, New Hampshire. It’s full of pumpkins, apples, and corn maze. All fall must haves! And this family was game for exploring the farm with me. We had the most gorgeous weather and how sweet is this little guy putting flowers in his pocket!
Jenn and Kent tied the knot this past weekend in what seemed like a fairytale wedding at the Woodstock Inn, “the most beautiful address in Vermont”. Although this was a destination wedding for the couple, Vermont holds a special place in their hearts as Jenn frequented Woodstock growing up with visits to a family home, a home that sits right next to the stone chapel where they said their vows. Jenn adorned a stunning dress by Peter Langner and opted for an extra full bouquet and florals made by Randy Paxton at Little Flower Shoppe. Adding more class to the day the groom, accompanied by his groomsmen, arrived at the ceremony via vintage bikes from the Inn. The day was absolutely exquisite and filled with so much gorgeousness and love.
Jenn & Kent, thank you for choosing me as your photographer to document every detail of your special day. I wish you both years of happiness and may you always dance through life the way you danced on your wedding day, passionately and effortlessly.
Venue: Woodstock Inn & Resort
Cake & Catering: Woodstock Inn & Resort
Tent & Table Rentals: Rain or Shine Tents
Floral Design: Little Flower Shoppe
Entertainment: RipCord Music
Favors: Red Kite Candy
Hair: Kristen Moshiek
Makeup: Deb Houghton
Second Shooter: Mike Tracy
Sasha and Aaron are getting married next spring and for their engagement session, they thought it would be fun to meet at White River Junction, a place that is dear to their hearts and where their relationship started. I’ve always wanted to do a session in White River Junction as I love the architecture and vibe of the town. There are so many great backdrops that are fun and funky and how perfect is this heart carved in the side of a building for these two love birds? I’m looking forward to documenting their day next June against another gorgeous Vermont backdrop, Shelbourne Farms.
I seriously have the best clients. Clients who are laid back and don’t let a little rain dampen their wedding day. I’m so glad a mutual friend suggested that Kaitlin and Matt contact me for photography services when they got engaged. They are the kind of clients that I hope will turn into friends. During our initial meeting, they shared some advice that was given to them which in turn I have also shared with every one of my couples. It was too good not to share. And that is to pick three things that really matter to you on your wedding day, focus on those, and forget the rest. Wouldn’t you agree?
A few noteworthy details that made their day pretty special included Kaitlin pinning her grandmother’s wedding ring to her bouquet, Matt arriving at the ceremony in a canoe and the percussion frogs they asked their guests to use as a symbol of expression during the ceremony, which made for a beautiful sound.
Their affection for one another and the people they love are apparent. I could have photographed just them together all day, but we had a ceremony to get to. And yes, Matt entered the ceremony via canoe. So cool.
Congratulations Kaitlin & Matt, I wish you many years of love and happiness!
Venue: Lock Lyme Lodge
Florals: Valley Flower Company
Tents: Vermont Tent Rentals
Catering: Duck Soup Catering
Second Shooter: Mike Tracy
Lizzy + Amit said their “I do’s” at one of my favorite venues this past weekend, Ohana Family Camp on Lake Fairlee, Vermont. I was so excited to photograph their wedding here as it’s such a beautiful place to get married with views of Vermont’s mountains and Lake Fairlee in the background. This was a special place for Lizzy as she camped there as a little girl. Lizzy wore a gorgeous vintage inspired lace gown that matched her grandmother’s handkerchief which was wrapped around her bouquet made by Michelle Boleski at Petals. Lizzy had beautiful mehndi (henna) on her hands and feet. They decided to meet at the waterfront for their first look which turned out to be a stunning and secluded spot, perfect for the two of them. Lizzy’s mom announced the entrance of her daughter by ringing the camp bell when she got the thumbs up from Amit. It was a true honor to photograph this beautiful couple, on their beautiful day.
Lizzy & Amit, I wish you many years of happiness!
This wedding was published in Vermont Bride Magazine!
Tristan and Peter contacted me about a year ago when they started planning their DIY, navy and cream, nautical themed wedding. Although they are American they were planning their wedding all the way from Australia where they currently reside. They wanted to have a simple, but elegant wedding at Tristan’s family camp on Sabago Lake, Maine, the same location they became engaged. During their interview they said that Tristan really wanted to book a good photographer and Peter really wanted to have good food, two things that made me know instantly that they had their priorities straight and that we would make a perfect fit.
They chose passports as their invitation and mailed out luggage tags as save the date cards. Tristan organized all the florals and no detail was overlooked from the nautical cuff links to dilly beans they canned themselves as a wedding favor. Tristan’s aunt who is 101 years old, but still retains her beauty, whit and mobility, became an officiant for this special day. In fact, she’s now the oldest woman in the state of Maine to officiate ceremonies. She’s officially the coolest woman in my book and I think this has to be one of the most touching gifts to give someone.
Another special element of their day was after their first look they wanted to exchange personal promises in a row boat. When Tristan told me about this I was so excited. Most couples barely remember the time they spent together on their wedding day as they are constantly visiting with guests. It was so cool seeing them carve out 45 minutes together before the festivities began doing something they love to do. Again, my kind of people.
Thank you Tristan and Peter for choosing me as your photographer. It was a true honor documenting every detail of your special day and if I could do it all over again, I’d be right there with tissues when you need them, become a seamstress when you need one and take my equipment out in a row boat to photograph your love story. Thank you for making me feel like a friend and a guest, not a vendor, and I wish you many years of happiness together.
This was my first time photographing newborn twins and I admit that I was super nervous, mainly because there were two babies to get to sleep and they were half the size of my own children when they were born. However, I ended up feeling super comfortable holding these precious little girls. They ended up being so good that we were able to do it in the same amount of time it takes to get one newborn asleep. I’m not sure there is anything sweeter than having a baby to snuggle, but having two is the cherry on top.
Typically I prefer to shoot in locations that I’ve at least had a chance to scout out and determine if it has good light, but for this session there wasn’t a lot of time to do that as we had a limited schedule when figuring out a date that worked for both of us. This girl really wanted to have her session at Feast and Field in Barnard, Vermont, a location known for mixing good local food, art and music in the field. It’s definitely a place to check out this summer if you haven’t already done so. I arrived a bit early to see if I could find a few spots that were away from the crowds and weren’t in the open sun. I was a bit nervous having a session at a location that I hadn’t scouted out, but it ended up being one of my favorite sessions as the light was so beautiful once I found an area to filter the sun a bit. And, this girl is a total natural in front of the camera. It was so much fun spending the evening with her and her family creating some beautiful portraits.