Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran’s Day to each and every one of you who has served our country. With immense gratitude, we thank you for your sacrifice and commitment to our country!

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As a small way of saying thank you, we offer a military discount to all members of the service. Just let me know when you book your session!

Do I Really Need to Hire a Professional Photographer?

"Do I really need to hire a professional photographer? They're just snapping pictures, how different can it be from hiring my friends daughter who has a camera?"

Hiring a professional to take your photos is crazy important when it comes to big milestones. Even for non events (update your profile pic anyone?), the difference between a pro and a beginner photographer is huge. Now, please know I'm not bashing beginner photographers here. I, along with every other photographer in the world was once a rookie. We all start somewhere. My hope is simply to show you the difference between a beginner and a professional photographer (via my own personal experiences) and let you decide how you want to invest your money into photography on your own, especially when it comes to important occasions.

 The very first wedding I shot on my own in 2011 on the left to one of my more recent weddings.

The very first wedding I shot on my own in 2011 on the left to one of my more recent weddings.

 There I am at my first wedding with the sweetest bride.

There I am at my first wedding with the sweetest bride.

When I first started out in wedding photography, I was lucky enough to start as an assistant photographer to a local wedding photog, exclusively second-shooting all of her weddings. With only two weddings under my belt, I was asked to photograph my first wedding that first summer; I was nervously excited. I knew I wasn't a pro yet and clearly communicated this to my client. She completely understood, said she trusted my skills and I accepted two hundred bucks as payment. I got all the important shots that day and the bride loved her photos, kindly referring me every chance she got. My photos weren't bad, but I had a huge learning curve ahead of me to get me from where I was then to the work you see from me today. I am SO grateful to my first clients for trusting me and giving me the opportunity to photograph such special days for them without lots of experience.

I've spent so many hours, weeks, months of my life pouring into education, practice and honing my skill since then. Listen, I know I will always have more to learn, but I'm certain of my value as a professional photographer (and price of my work) where I'm at today. While I was able to capture the wedding day as best as I knew seven years ago, I wasn't able to offer my clients the skill, security and style I can deliver today. I get asked all the time how I get my photos to look like they do, what software I use to edit, what kind of camera I have and the honest truth is the combination of those things aren't going to make you a professional or not. Only experience can do that.

The difference between a beginner photographer and a seasoned professional doesn't just boil down to simply the price you pay. When you hire a pro, you're paying for high-quality photos that can only come from years of expertise and education. You're paying for a business that is licensed, insured and able to protect itself (and you). You're paying for experienced guidance on your wedding day that can't come from someone without experience. You're paying for a photographer who can work in any sort of lighting and who is trained in making you look your best. You're paying for a service that requires skill beyond the expensive tools and gear used. This is only the tip of the iceberg my friends. 

Since photography is my language, let me show you some THEN and NOW photos from my first wedding in 2011 to now. 

So, when you start to compare photographers for your wedding day, keep in mind that while you can get a steal of a deal and decent photos from a new photographer, the level of service you'll get from a professional cannot be beat. Just like you wouldn't go to a hospital for surgery and opt for the med student to perform it for a cheaper deal because you know they don't have professional skills it takes, you cannot expect professional quality service from a photographer just starting out. 

Do what you feel is best for you and your budget, but I encourage you to manage your expectations so you know what you're getting and you end up with photos you LOVE. In the end, that's all that matters.
 

Tipsy Tuesday | How to Prep for my Photo Session

It's Tipsy Tuesday and today's tip is on feeling prepared for your photo session. While you should trust your photographer (if you've hired a professional you love) to help you to look your best, it's natural to still feel a little nervous and unprepared before your session. Here are 5 quick tips to help smash those jitters!

1. Bring an extra outfit, accessories, jewelry and easy-to-walk in shoes. Even if we don't end up using them, having options in the car is helpful in case you have a wardrobe malfunction, want to change up the feel of your photos or want to venture off the beaten path in something other than those adorable new heels you just bought.

2. Dress accordingly to the weather and/or bring warm-up gear for breaks. Warm jackets and boots, hand warmers, dry socks and a thermos with a hot beverage. If we've made a day of it, feel free to bring snacks to ward off the hangry dragon.

3. Communicate clearly with your photographer in advance if you have a specific vision in mind that you want created in your photos.

4. Create a SOS bag with chapstick, bug spray, spf, lotion, safety pins, hairspray and a comb for quick touch-ups in between in case rain or weather gets you down.

5. Hire a professional stylist and hair and makeup artist if you can! This will help immensely when it comes to choosing colors and outfits that look good on you, as well has having photo-ready hair and makeup. Professionals can help your look to look killer and last longer. 

I hope these 5 tips help you feel a little more prepared before your upcoming photo session! As always, my online door is always open if you have any questions! 

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Tipsy Tuesday | What Family Photos Do I Need At My Wedding?

Today's Tipsy Tuesday post is brought to you with the hopes of helping you plan out a simple family shot list at your wedding and sample cup of Viognier at the farmers market. 

Family formal photos at a wedding can get pretty chaotic. Especially with big families. Elderly grandparents. Crying babies. Stressed mamas. You name it. Everyone seems to want a photo with the newlyweds, but the bride and groom can only hold those smiles for so long before those happy cheeks need a break. As the photographer, I ask each couple to provide me their family shot list of who is the most important for them to have photos with. The responses are different with each couple. For few, it's important that they get their entire extended families all together in a photo with them. Others, would rather keep it short and sweet and have maybe 4 photos total.

When asked for tips on how to plan a good family shot list, I try to keep it simple and easily flowing to keep everyone from being burnt out from too many photos and recommend the couples to choose only the photo combinations that will probably be printed and framed or ones they can't live without. While every cousin, aunt and old classmate may want a photo with you, I suggest keeping family photo time for your closest family members and getting the rest of the photos with your other guests during the cocktail hour or reception. Despite contrary belief, there are no rules to what you do or don't have to do when it comes to family photos.

Below are the 10 most common photos I typically try to aim for during family formals in 30 minutes or less. If you have more time, you could break these down further (i.e. Bride + her Mom or Groom and his siblings) and if you have less time, you can combine some of the combos to make sure everyone gets in who needs to. Because the day is about the Bride and Groom marrying into each other's families, I like to take a majority of the family photos with both of them together unless they've made different requests.

1. Bride with Bride's Parents

2. Bride and Groom with Bride's Parents

3. Bride and Groom with Bride's Entire Immediate Family*

4. Bride and Groom with Bride's Entire Immediate Family* + Grandparents

5. Bride and Groom with Bride's Grandparents

6. Groom with Groom's Parents

7. Bride and Groom with Groom's Parents

8. Bride and Groom with Groom's Entire Immediate Family*

9. Bride and Groom with Groom's Entire Immediate Family* + Grandparents

10. Bride and Groom with Groom's Grandparents

*= immediate family indicates a bride or groom's parents, siblings, spouses and children

Maybe you're wondering what to do if you have bad blood with someone in your family who will be at the wedding. I would never force a bride or groom to take photos with anyone they don't want to, but I highly encourage having at least one photo with immediate family members you may not be close with if they show up to your wedding. Someday, it may be important to you to have a photo of them and you don't want to end up with regrets over any short term family issues. If you're extremely uncomfortable, don't worry about it. You only have to take the photos you truly want

To sum it up, keep it simple. Don't schedule yourself to smile in the same spot for an hour (I assure you'll get annoyed/bored/tired). Don't plan for super lengthy shot lists just to please each guest. Remember, you still have to take photos with your wedding party so don't burn out your beautiful smile in one sitting. It's your day, celebrate it how you want!

Cheers!

Tipsy Tuesday | Wedding Detail Shots

Today's Tipsy Tuesday post is brought to you with a glass of merlot and on the subject of being prepared to have your wedding details photographed. These details may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Wedding rings
  • Wedding dress and groom suit
  • Garter
  • Something old, new, borrowed and/or blue if you're going traditional
  • Any special jewelry, hair pieces, clips, brooches, veil or heirloom pieces
  • Paper Suite (Save the Date, Invites, Envelopes)
  • Florals (bouquets, boutonnières and any extra pieces your florist may leave for styling photos) 

When I arrive at your getting ready venue, I like to photograph the details immediately so everything is ready for you when you need it. I especially love when everything is grouped together in one area of the room, out of bags and with the tags already off.

If you'd like your wedding gown or groom's tux photographed, please have them hanging (with the tags) on the hanger you'd like them photographed on. Wooden photographs much better than plastic. If you would like bridesmaids dresses photographed as well, be sure to have them all hanging in the closet, on a curtain rod or anywhere they can neatly fit together. Many couples want their wedding attire photographed in full so please keep your shoes, ties, cuff links and veil nearby if you'd like them all captured. Keeping all of your getting ready items in one spot will keep my shooting and styling flowing efficiently and help you to not lose track of anything at the last minute.

If you'd like your invitation suite photographed, I can find just about anywhere to do this, but it's a total bonus to the photo if they can include bits of wedding details in the shot. This may include a couple scrap flowers from your florist, extra fabric from your gown or wedding favors you'll be sharing with guests later in the night. Anything small that ties in to your day.

It's always a good idea to get your rings polished before the big day as I'll be getting nice and close detail shots of them. It also helps to have both the bride and groom's wedding bands, plus the engagement ring in the same room so I can photograph them all together.

There you have it! A few simple tips to being prepared for your photographer to show up the morning of your wedding.
Cheers!

Tipsy Tuesday | Where Should I Get Ready For My Wedding?

True story, I've had a bride get dressed outside before. Now before you freak out at what a weirdo photographer I must be, you've got to understand that we were at a venue only the bride and her 'maids were to be at. We were surrounded only by trees. The indoor light was brutal and the bride cared more about her photos than the thought of a bird flying through the sky seeing her. So I asked and she said yes. The fresh air + space to move was so appreciated and her prep photos turned out so stunning!

Hey guys! Today's Tipsy Tuesday post is to help all of you future bride and grooms to choose the best room to get ready in! Now, this may not be something that has even crossed your mind. You've probably figured you'd throw your dress on in the teeny church basement. Or in the chapel's nursery, because it's bigger. Or you and all the guys would get ready in your childhood bedroom at home. And you've asked your photographer to be there for the getting ready portion of the day, to capture all of the details and little moments. You've seen the beautiful photos of the best friend lacing up the dress and the mother helping her daughter put on her pearl necklace. The sweet moments as everyone huddles around the bride and prays with her. The groomsmen helping each other put on their ties. Beautiful happy moments that us as photographers love to capture for you. But let me caution you in advance, we aren't magicians and can't turn a Motel 6 bathroom into a Four Seasons Penthouse.

Next, can the space comfortably you and your wedding party inside? Your makeup artist, hair stylists, photographers, videographers, your mothers and grandmothers? Think of everyone who needs to be in the room (with all of their bags, equipment and accessories) and be sure you've chosen somewhere with enough space. If you're someone who gets claustrophobic easily, be sure to find somewhere with extra space so you feel comfortable to breathe and move around.

Now let me tell you about the importance of getting ready in a place with great natural light. While I can bring in extra gear like lighting stands and speed-lights and umbrellas to create lovely light everywhere I go, a wedding day doesn't always allow the time or space for all of this. My goal is to be capturing all of the little moments and details are they are happening, not focusing on dialing in settings on my gear or trying to move my light stand out of everyone's way as they're busily moving around. Keeping my gear as low-key as I can manage and relying on natural light, I can better turn my attention to the emotions and moods around me. So to get the best possible photos in your getting ready room, pay attention to the lighting in there. Is there just one florescent lightbulb to light up the entire room or big windows with nothing outside of them blocking the light from coming in? Are there light neutral colored walls or will the blue lightbulb be bouncing off of red walls on to your skin? If you're not sure, look in a mirror or take a good ol' selfie, noting if the light is flattering on you or not. It doesn't have to be perfect, I've got skills for that. You just have to like what you're seeing and be prepared for your photos to kind of match the feel of the room.

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Maybe you're thinking, I have nowhere to get ready with good lighting and my pictures are going to suck! Before you give up, consider renting a spacious hotel suite or conference room, getting ready in a family friend's home, getting dressed before you get to the church or putting the final touches on out on the deck/sunroom. If you have no other options, don't worry! Honestly you can make the best out of the space you have. Clean it up, take out the trash, hang everyone's attire neatly on a rack, ask everyone to put their bags away when they're done getting dressed, close any closet doors and take down any decor you don't want to see in your photos. (P.S. Please always clean up a little regardless of what your room looks like; I'll be capturing the day as I see it). A professional is always ready to tackle whatever lighting situation we walk into so don't stress if you don't think your getting ready room is ideal. If you have the option to choose somewhere better than what you planned on using though, go for it!

Cheers!

Tipsy Tuesday | First Looks

Today's Tipsy Tuesday post is on whether or not you should plan for a first look before your ceremony. Let's talk this out.

 shooting for andrea naylor photography

shooting for andrea naylor photography



Wait, rewind. What is a first look? 
Okay so a first look is the first time a bride and groom see each other on their wedding day (before they walk down the aisle).


Why would we want to see each other before walking down the aisle? Aren't we supposed to wait?
There are no rule books. Seeing your bride before the wedding is not bad luck. Sorry to ruin the fun, but it's simply an old tradition. Your wedding is between the two of you and how you want it to flow! 

Now, some couples prefer tradition and want their first time seeing each other to be during the ceremony and in front of all their guests, which is totally respectable. There are no if's and's or but's about it. No problemo, we just plan your timeline around avoiding seeing each other until the ceremony. 

There's another variation off of this tradition called a "First Touch". This is when the couples meet up before the wedding (without seeing the other) and hold hands, share a closed eye kiss, exchange gifts, or pray together. It's a sweet way of letting the other know, 'hey, I'm here with you. I can't wait to see you.'

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Others, would rather their first look to be an intimate moment, with no one (but the photographer) witnessing or distracting them. They want to take it all in privately, not feeling awkward or embarrassed to show emotion in front of everyone. Occasionally either the bride or groom (maybe both) dislikes being the center of attention and are uncomfortable with the pressure of giving the "right" reaction in front of all of their guests. Not every groom will throw his hands up in the air, not every bride will cry. A private first look helps to alleviate the stress of all eyes on you and puts your focus back where it should be - on your husband or wife-to-be and allows whatever natural reaction to happen, happen.

 shooting for Riutta Images

shooting for Riutta Images

Sometimes couples don't care about others watching, but find a first look helps to set a relaxed vibe for their day. Without the pressure of waiting and waiting to see each other, they meet up before or after getting ready so that they can actually spend as much of their wedding day together as possible.

For others, a first look simply fits better into their timeline. These are the couples who would rather take all of their photos before the ceremony so that they can enjoy the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception without having to leave their guests again. Gathering all of the family after the ceremony for photos when everyone is trying to hug you can get chaotic. Instead, since these couples have already seen each other before the ceremony, they can ask family to come early to get the photos out of the way so when it comes time to celebrate, they have nothing else to do but relax.

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I can't decide....What would you do?
While I have nothing against a traditional aisle look, I personally chose to have a first look with my Beau for a few reasons. First, we were getting married in the early evening on the beach. We had all day to get ready, but didn't want to spend the entire time apart. We flew to Mexico to get married to each other and wanted our memories to actually be together! We also didn't have much time before sunset after the ceremony to get tons of photos and our reception dinner wasn't long after the ceremony. Therefore, we met each other a little earlier privately and got to spend some beautiful quiet moments in each others arms before everything began. It was great getting to assure the other that we were there, we were ready and nothing else mattered. We got some stunning photos during that time that we may not have otherwise gotten before we ran out of time.

 shooting for andrea naylor photography

shooting for andrea naylor photography

Will I regret it?
While I can't answer this for you, I can say I haven't met anyone yet who claims to regret their first look. Even if you see each other from the second you wake up, nothing will make your groom more happy then seeing his bride walk down the aisle or take away from a bride's experience of seeing her groom waiting for her at the alter.

No matter what you decide, be sure it's based on what you and your fiancee want. Stay traditional or opt for whatever sounds the most fun to you, just keep it true to your desires and base your timeline around that. If you need help with the timeline, stay posted for tips or shoot me an email and I'd be happy to help you coordinate times! 

Are you or did you have a first look or keep it traditional? Let us know in the comments! 
Cheers!

How to Prep for a Photo Session

You just realized you scheduled your anniversary photos to be taken this weekend and you're so unprepared! What will you wear? Should you bring anything? How should I do my hair? Fear not my friends! I'm going to help you out with a few tips to remember before your next photo op. 

1. Don't stress. Put your confidence in the photographer you hand selected and trust their vision. Let go of control and listen to their recommendations for better locations, lighting, posing. Take a deep breath and relax.

2. Avoid alcohol the night before the shoot. Alcohol bloats, dehydrates, and dulls your skin out. Hungover bloodshot eyes are not sexy. Pump extra water into your system! Take care of your skin by moisturizing any skin showing in the photos and keep chapstick handy for dry lips.

3. The same goes for foods, if you don't want to feel bloated or sluggish during your session, avoid McDonalds greasy burgers for lunch and opt for leafy greens, nuts and proteins which are beneficial for the skin.

4. If you can hire someone to professionally do your hair and makeup - do it! It will save you alot of stress and give you a confidence boost. If you can't swing one, the other or both, watch a couple tutorials on YouTube, have the ladies at the Ulta or Sephora help you find the correct shade of foundation, and blend well! It's tricky to balance a very bronzed face with a forgotten pale neck in Photoshop. If you're going to tan or spray tan pre-session - try to avoid doing this the night before. Burnt or super orange-y skin won't flatter you in the best way.

5. If you're having a hard time deciding what to wear, remember neutral colors photograph best! Matchy-matchy (classic all white tees and blue jeans) is out and mix and matching is in! Patterns are fun, but be sure only one of you is wearing a bold print while your S/O rocks a more neutral look. When in doubt, head to Pinterest for inspiration (check out my board titled Engagement Inspiration), send a couple photos of the outfits to your photographer to help decide, or enlist the help of a fashion associate at a retail store if you need something new! Make sure whatever you're wearing is comfortable or your feeling of uneasiness may show up in your photos (constantly pulling at a too-tight shirt, red skin from an itchy material, etc). 

6. Only bring props to your session if it's something that makes sense to the subject, for example: Don't bring a tandem bike to pose on if you normally dislike biking. Do bring your favorite beverage to pour into your favorite mugs if you and your S/O share a love for coffee. Do bring your family pet. Get out on your paddle board if it's you and your wife's favorite hobby. You get the idea.

7. Have fun with it! Leave your phones behind, laugh and play with each other. Be fluid and feel free to move around. Tickle him, spin her around, and don't focus too hard on the camera. If you're a bit awkward like some of us, let your photographer guide you.