Eva + Greg’s first date at MacQueen’s Apple Orchard ran long. So long in fact, that she had to call her sister to let her know that she was okay. “When you know, you know.” Eva told me, “With the right person, with Greg, it just feels right.” Eva + Greg have been coming back to MacQueen’s every year since, at least once around that same date, so we rolled their engagement session into their annual visit.
Recently I started including an engagement shoot with all of my wedding packages which was confusing for some of my brides, so I wanted to take this opportunity to explain a little more about why it’s so important to do an engagement shoot, and a couple of tips to help you feel CONFIDENT on the day of.
Engagement shoots are a great opportunity to spend some quality time, not only with your soon to be spouse, but also with your photographer before the big day. Doing a shoot before the wedding gives you, the bride (or groom!), an opportunity to get a feel for the way you guys are going to work together and should give you a sense of whether or not you really want this person to be an integral part of your wedding day.
It can also give the photographer some cues about what you like and dislike, and things that they should be sensitive of to make sure YOU like the way your photos are coming out. For example, if a bride to be is a little sensitive about the way her arms look, it gives me a chance to work with her ahead of time and find poses that will make her feel great about the way that she looks in her photos. Other times, it lets me know that a couple prefers either more or less direction during their photo shoot. One couple I worked with recently were completely comfortable and spent the shoot completely wrapped up in one another, so minimal direction was perfect for them, while others aren’t used to being in front of the camera and need a little more direction to get them started.
A couple of tips for what to wear to your shoot: 1. I like to recommend bringing one more formal outfit, and one more casual one for the regular length shoot, and starting in the more formal of the two. 2. You can go as formal as you like, sometimes really formal is a good idea, sometimes not so formal fits you better, go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. It’s a good idea to think about how formal each of your outfits are and keep them on a similar level (for example, if you’re wearing a cocktail dress, your fiance probably shouldn’t wear shorts). 3. Cream and beige colors are great for the fall season, as are grays, whites, deep reds and navy colors. If you want to add something bright, a brightly colored scarf or jewelry can add a nice pop of color and can be taken off or added to some shots. It’s a good idea not to wear the exact same colors, but to wear colors in the same color family, so cool tones (blues, whites, beiges and grays) or warm colors (creams, reds, tans). 4. Simple, solid colors tend to look nicer in photos than patterns, and large patterns like plaid work better than smaller ones like checked shirts. If one person is wearing plaid/ patterns, it is better for the other person to wear something more neutral.
Most importantly, these are just suggestions, so don’t stress too much about what you’re going to wear. In the end, confidence translates on camera, so if you feel great in what you’re wearing, you’ll look great too.
I had so much fun shooting Kara + Frans’s gorgeous, sun-soaked engagement shoot at the Nichols Arboretum last Friday. These two were so sweet and so much fun to shoot with, I know Kara personally from our time as students at the University of Michigan and it felt so fitting that she came back to Ann Arbor for her engagement shoot. They took all the silly games I had them play totally in stride and even when I asked them to get in the water, they were totally game to try it.
If you loved these photos and are getting married soon, let’s chat! I’m still booking weddings and engagement sessions for Fall 2017-Summer 2018. You can either email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form on my investment page here.
I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for quite a while, Selina + Evan’s wedding at the Howell Opera House was one of the few opportunities I’ve had to shoot in a historical location, and I have to say, it is one I would gladly go back to! The Opera House was built in 1880 by famed Detroit architect Almon C. Varney, and served as a theater and the heart of the Howell community for more than 40 years before its closure in 1923. The venue was partially restored in 2001 by the Livingston Arts Council which is in the process of fundraising to restore the upper level to full theatrical functionality. Selina + Evan decided to get married here in the lower section of the building which serves as a community center and wedding venue. They met as students at Central Michigan University back in 2011 and got engaged at the Tree Tops Resort while on a weekend trip in 2016. From getting to know Evan + Selina throughout this process, I could tell they were the perfect match for one another. While he was laid back throughout this process, Selina was detail-oriented, charming and vivacious. Throughout the day, Evan was there for her to lean on for emotional support, and you could tell that no one made him happier than she did. I was also lucky enough to get to meet their spunky puppy dog, who was all dressed up for the big day when he came to their first look.
A big shout out to the fabulous Rev. Mary Bengtsson who carried out the sweet, and lovely ceremony and was kind enough to introduce herself to me earlier that day. Also one great big shout out to Cadence Music and Entertainment for keeping the dancing going well into the night. Great job guys!
Megan + Mark met as students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and I think their love of their old college town may have had something to do with where they picked to do their engagement shoot. We started at Angell Hall where Megan fondly remembered taking English literature classes, before moving on to the University of Michigan Art Museum (UMMA) for a ride on the swing sculpture. No trip to campus for a former engineering student (Mark) would be complete without a stop at the Engineering Arch. Where, rumor has it, you will marry the first person you kiss underneath it before the end of your first semester in your freshman year. Mark + Megan may not have made it quite early enough, but it looks like the Engineering Arch won’t have to work it’s magic for these two to get hitched, as they’re planning their wedding for this August. To round out the perfect Ann Arbor Engagement, we had to stop by the peony garden at Nichols Arboretum. The Arb has long been a mainstay for students, and both Mark + Megan remembered coming often while in college. We were lucky that weekend the annual Peony festival was in full bloom and the garden was bursting with color. I had an absolute ball working with Mark + Megan for their engagement shoot and I can’t wait to photograph their wedding this August. Congratulations guys!
In my time as a wedding photographer, I can honestly say that I have never met a couple as excited to be marrying one another as Mary + Aaron. They met while attending graduate school at Chapel Hill, NC, where Mary (studying Public Health) and Aaron (getting his PhD in Russian History) met through a mutual friend. In their time together, they’ve traveled well and often, and spent significant time apart, Mary in Africa, and Aaron in Russia. That time apart only made them stronger. That strength and steadiness came up time and again during their wedding day where they exchanged vows on Mary’s family farm. In the pole barn that was used for dancing, photographs of the couple and their families on trips all over the world adorned the walls. Mary’s aunt gave the couple a quilt made from fabric that Mary brought back from her studies in Kenya, and their cake toppers were a pair of golden dinosaurs that Mary had sent to Aaron in Russia. To highlight their love of travel, and connection to home, during the ceremony, friends and family from all over the country brought soil from their homes to help Mary and Aaron pot a houseplant, that in time will grow stronger with the richness and diversity of the mixed soils.
Despite all the traveling these two have done, they always manage to find their way back home to each-other.
Leah + Richard met in High School, and now, seven years later, are engaged to be married. Before the shoot, Leah was full of ideas for the perfect shoot, and we decided to try a bunch of them during their shoot a week ago Saturday in Ann Arbor’s Nichols Arboretum. I can’t wait to work with these two again as they are so sweet with each other and willing to try new things. Many congratulations on your engagement!
Will + Tamara met on their first day at the University of Pittsburgh, so it’s only fitting that their engagement session took place in the college town of Ann Arbor where Tamara’s studying for her Master’s in Architecture. We spent Saturday morning dodging the rain all over the University of Michigan’s gorgeous downtown campus. From the moment we sat down to discuss their wedding a few months ago, it was pretty obvious that Will + Tamara were made to be together. They were so in love and so at ease immediately, I don’t think they could have made my job any easier on their shoot. All I had to do was sit back and let them be themselves!
We started early at Angell Hall, and though it was a little chilly out, they were troopers. After getting cuddly at Angell, we headed over to Tappan Hall for some quick shots outside the Art History library. When we crossed the street towards the University of Michigan Law Quad we found it totally closed off and under construction. Not a problem for these two! They were happy to get in close under an awning nearby and then headed over to give the legendary Cube a spin. With the weather clearing up, we made our way down to the Nichols Arboretum, just in time, as the sun came out and we got some glorious shots down by the river. Though Will was initially a little reluctant to get in the water, with a little persuasion Tamara had him rolling up his jeans in no time flat.
It was seriously such a pleasure to work with these two, I can’t tell you how over the moon I am that they’ve asked me to photograph their wedding early next year. I can’t wait!
If you’re looking for someone to photograph your wedding in 2018 I’ve just started taking bookings. Head over to the About + Contact page to get in touch about your date!
What a day for photos! I met up with Amy + Anatoli and their nsweet family at Gallup Park right on the edge of Ann Arbor late last Sunday. Amy wanted to use the soft, natural background of her family’s favorite park to show the innocence and warmth of the kid’s love for one another. Parker, her youngest, was just a couple of months old, and definitely had all of his older sisters completely smitten.
Beth + Zach’s gorgeous spring wedding at Calvary United Methodist Church was so beautiful, relaxed and welcoming. Despite April’s tenancy for showers, we caught a lucky break in the weather and it was a glorious sunny day. The warmth of the day though, wasn’t even a close second for the warmth and love that radiated from this family. It was clear how easily and completely Beth + Zach’s families had embraced their children’s choice of partner and I feel so honored to have been chosen to capture such a special group of people. Enjoy a few of my favorite snaps from this gorgeous wedding!
Wedding Coordinator: Delicia Kimball at the Sheraton Ann Arbor
DJ: Mike Staff Productions
Hair + Make Up: Sarah Heddleston
Cake + Desserts: Tiffany Keller
Venues: Calvary United Methodist Church | Sheraton Ann Arbor
Picking a photographer for your wedding can seem like a daunting task on the best of days. The prices seem exorbitant and yet everyone knows someone who went with a bargain photographer and ended up with terrible photos. You don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, but you also want to find someone who will deliver quality images that you will cherish for years to come. Take a deep breath and relax, it’s going to be okay. Here are 5 easy tips that will make finding the best photographer for you much easier.
1. Book your venue(s) first.
Before starting your search for a photographer, it’s very important to have your venue booked. Having an idea in mind of what you want your wedding to look like will help you figure out what style of photographer you’re most interested in. Venues tend to have lists of preferred vendors (Florists, DJ’s, Bakers, Planners, Event Staff, and yes, Photographers) who have worked there in the past. These lists can be a good place to start, as you can ask these photographers to see photos that they’ve taken at your venue previously.
2. Local professional associations are your friend.
Having booked your venue or venues, you’ll be able to look up wedding professionals associations local to that area. Wedding professional associations typically vet their members, so the quality tends to be higher than simply getting a list from your venue of vendors who have done work there in the past. Most associations will have a directory that lists a range of wedding professionals from photographers to florists who cater to a range of price points and creative styles. In Ann Arbor, Borrowed and Blue (link) not only has a directory, but annually gives out awards to vendors who have done outstanding work over the past year. These kind of awards can help you pick out the best vendors for whatever your price point is.
3. Look at tonnes of pictures.
Having booked your venue, and come up with an idea of what you want your photos to look like, go browse the portfolios of the vendors you found through the local wedding professionals association and preferred vendors list at your venue. When you see an image you like, try to describe what you like about it, look not only at the pose, but also the light, and the style of editing. See if you can come up with words that describe what you like about it (i.e. high/low contrast, golden light, soft or sharp backgrounds) to help tell the photographer what you want during a consultation. Browse pinterest, instagram, and google and search with hashtags and keywords (like wedding, wedding inspiration (weddinginspo), real wedding, and wedding photography) to browse a variety of styles. Save pictures you like and bring them to a consultation when you meet photographers you’re interested in.
4. Set a budget.
Think carefully about how much you have to spend and what exactly you want from your photographer. Are you looking for prints? An Album? Or maybe you want digital files and a print release. There are many options out there, and it’s important to consider what you’re most likely to look at and use over the years. Many photographers will also archive your photos, so if you have your heart set on a package you can’t afford now, you may be able to order extra prints or copies, or an album from them at a later date. If in doubt, compromise on a package, rather than a photographer, you can always order more prints, but the photos taken on a wedding day are what you have to work with. That said, it’s always a good idea to ask what their photo storage policies are to be safe.
5. Don’t be afraid to set up multiple consults.
I cannot overstate how important it is to have a good rapport with your photographer. You’re inviting them to your wedding after all! If you set up a consultation with a photographer who’s work you like, but you don’t jive with, you probably should take the time to consider other options. Trust your gut, particularly as you want someone you can trust not only to behave professionally on the day of your wedding, but who will go the extra mile to make your experience excellent every step of the way. That person will be easy to contact, responsive and helpful. They will make deliver your images on time it’s a good idea to meet
After nearly a semester long hiatus, it’s a privilege to finally be able to share some of the best moments from last semester. We covered fashion inspired by everything from classical ballet, and Kanye, took in the art deco architecture downtown Detroit in our shoot with the Somerset Collection, and got to know american designer Bill Blass in our vintage shoot. Finally we took a hard look at the double standards collegiate women are held to when those who party’s actions while intoxicated are commonly subjected to far harder scrutiny than those of their male counterparts in our Last Night was Legendary shoot. More info, how tos, and behind the scenes images from these shoots and more coming over the next couple of weeks.
If you liked these, check out the print edition of SHEI Magazine, the Legends Issue avaliable at sheimagazine.com
Soultana Schiavi modeled as the girl to be chased through the decades. Elusive and mysterious. Hard to pin down and always in control, she was pursued by Zach Whitford, Fashion team member and now model, in SHEI Magazine’s Fall 2014 Issue. The Vintage Shoot included an amazing golden dress from Dear Golden Vintage in Ann Arbor, as well as several pieces from The Get-Up, a vintage store on State St. The idea behind this shoot was something akin to Helen of Troy, mixed with the Time Traveler’s wife, asking the age-old question, ‘What wouldn’t a guy do for the girl of his dreams?’
The answer, it appears, is very little. He followed her from the 20’s through the 40’s, across the 60’s and eventually into the 1980’s in his quest for that recognition. For some acknowledgement , and hopefully the return of his affection. Check out what happened below, in our first guest directed film, by Andrew Amine.
The experience of shooting images concurrently with film being shot was exciting, not only because of the challenge inherent in ensuring that the images do not look
Last Wednesday evening, I had the privilege of working with University of Michigan graduate and aspiring model Jonathan Glymph. Since graduating, he has become a correspondent and fashion blogger at Hauet is Magazine and is currently pursuing a career in the industry in New York City. He generously donated his time to model for our team of photographers and videographers at SHEI Magazine during our team’s studio lighting workshop this week.
Jonathan will be a familiar face to many of you as he featured in SHEI’s shoot at Shinola Detroit last semester. We got comfortable dancing around the studio to Mariah Carey before getting down to business. Our first challenge was to change the lighting set-up to recreate an image that he had brought in. The background was light grey, and the subject, a woman peering over her bare shoulder across the image and off camera was lit from above and off to her left by a beauty-dish. Our backdrop was white and had been lit to appear pure white, and we had to remove a key-light that we had been using to give Elden, our first model, a professional looking head-shot. It took some time maneuvering through front, three quarter and over the shoulder shots, until finally, we tried out a side profile shot. Bingo! This was the dramatic look our client wanted. Check out the final shot below.
Sorry for the HUGE number of photos, but I feel like it’s almost always better to show a story than it is to tell it. We got up at 5:30, having spent the night on Anna’s living-room floor and made the drive from her cottage to the dunes in under 45 minutes, clothes steamed, fabric ironed, model with hair and make-up done and ready to go, which was a minor miracle in and of itself. The sun was rising just as we arrived, and began to burn off the mist that had settled close to the ground and surface of Silver Lake. We set up quickly and had barely started with test shots when all of a sudden, the sun burst through the clouds, orange and gold, and everybody started shouting to shoot. We grabbed the model, ran towards the edge of the dunes and… missed the shot. By the time we started, the clouds had already covered the sun again. It was windy and cold, but we turned around and started shooting back into the dunes, having Lexie, our model, walking into the wind to make the fabric spread out and ripple. Eventually, we realized that the fabric wasn’t moving as much as we wanted it to and lightened the layers to either one layer of the dark plum fabric, or the gold chiffon. The wind picked up and we got this shot.
But, was it the ONE? We decided to keep shooting. It took some time, but eventually our patience was rewarded; the sun came out again and madness ensued.
So how many frames does it take to get THE shot? Short answer, A lot.
The long answer: (see below).
Dying to see it? We were too. Here’s the final version.
Some more bits and pieces from the shoot that never made it to print. Sometimes you’ve got to be silly to get the most out of a shoot. Despite the serious nature of what we were trying to accomplish, I had so much fun working with all of these incredible people.
I had initially intended to post about our trip to Chicago earlier in the semester on the blog yesterday, but decided that since we had exciting news, today’s post would be a little more up to the minute and interesting. Our light kit came in! It’s taken some time and effort, but my co-editorAlex Holmesand I have spent the past several months gathering the equipment necessary to build a permanent studio location for SHEI Magazine. Elden, a member of Fashion Team, was kind enough to pose for us in the SHEI office.
The light kit itself comprises of a pair of Genray SpectroLED light panels, each with 500 LEDs that can be color temperature and brightness adjusted by both the touch screen on the back of the light, and by remote control (how cool is that!). Since there are so many individual LEDs on the panels (and each of them emit light not just directly forward, but in all directions, the lights are soft enough to use without softboxes, or shoot assistants/Fashion editors holding diffusers in front of them as has been necessary in the past. As far a permanent light kit for the Magazine, I think we’ve done good. -In addition to having the lights come in, we’ve spent the past week without classes organizing locations, models and clothing for the Winter 2015 issue. With five of six shoots already conceptualized, we’re putting out feelers to stores we can get clothes from and starting to make the phone calls requesting access to locations in downtown Detroit, and Ann Arbor. This afternoon, we had the opportunity to scout a potential location for our first shoot which will be taking place when we get back from winter break in January. While the theme of the new magazine is still a secret, I can say that sometimes you need to get a little bit dirty in order to best appreciate the light. On location, entering the basement itself, felt a bit like being in a horror movie. We descended a narrow staircase into the bowels of one of the more infamous party houses in Kerrytown carrying camera equipment, stands, and the new lights, lit only by a string of bottle green christmas lights. The first room underground held a washer and dryer set and peeling linoleum floor with an old duvet piled on the ground. Our host, Achilles, was on his way to Chicago, so we had no guide as we searched for a light switch in the dark. We moved further into the basement through two more rooms and finally into one at the back with a tiny window where we tried plugging the light kit into a powerstrip that was lying on the ground which had no effect. Plugging it directly into the outlet? Nothing. Eventually we found a master switch and were able to get some Christmas lights strung up on the ceiling on. The LED light kit turned out to be even better on location than it seemed in the office. It stayed cool the entire time we were shooting, and we even figured out that the panels could be rotated sideways to sit vertically on their stands and directed into long narrow strips of light. We took a couple of test shots, where Aaron took one for the team and sat down on the floor among the bottles and other detritus of parties past. For our purposes, the location is going to be perfect.
Thanks to our lovely Fashion Editors, Aaron and Sola.
We (Kevin, Mary, Alex, and I) arrived in Pentwater, up on the shores of lake Michigan well after 10 pm on a Friday night. The drive wasn’t that long, but all there’s a point when the concrete highway barrier disappears and the area between the two roads becomes separated by trees that you truly feel as though you’re heading North. When the trees parted and the city lights faded off of the horizon, the stars were brighter than you ever see back home. We were the only car on the road, no headlights in the rear-view mirror and no looking back. We had a job to do. Anna, Lexie, our Marketing Director Shannon, the model and a friend of Anna’s had already arrived. After an evening of strategic planning, bonding, dancing, and sharing secrets, the nine of us who traveled up to Anna’s cottage at Pentwatter collapsed into a heap of sleeping bags on the living room floor, knowing that our wake up call was only a few hours away. We woke up to the smell of cinnamon rolls and made it to the dunes just before the sun started to rise.
The concept for this shoot was based around our partnership with Shinola Detroit, a luxury watch and bicycle manufacturer based in Detroit, Michigan. We wanted to showcase the emphasis Shinola places on craftsmanship, boldness and simplicity of design in our images. The best part of this experience, for me, was the challenge of showing off the beauty of the watches and bicycles they provided without compromising the editorial integrity of the shoot. The warehouse behind the flagship store in Midtown was particularly well suited to our needs and made the most sense to shoot in. It was a clean, well-lit, open space that still featured some of the grit that Detroit is known for, and as we were given free range of the space we were able to build mini sets throughout the shoot with beer kegs from Motor City Brewing Works. We were extremely excited to work with Shinola as the brand has been recognized nationally and internationally in publications ranging from HOUR Detroit, and The Detroit Free Press to Forbes, Time Magazine and Vogue.
Lighting and Location
One of the most important pieces of information that came out of our location scouting trip the weekend before the shoot was that the warehouse that we would end up shooting in had sky-lights. This lighting situation turned out to be ideal for the shoot because it allowed us to amp up the drama of the images by metering for the light on the models’ faces and allowing the background to appear a little darker in the final images. The light fall off ended up looking especially nice in some of the black and white shots, and using reflectors allowed us to redirect light onto the models when we moved to areas within the warehouse that did not have skylights directly overhead.
Some Final Thoughts
While Shinola has come under some fire for being a luxury goods brand in a city struggling with bankruptcy, the representatives, employees, and crafts-persons that I spoke to were all extremely proud of their city. Many were born in and around Detroit and had watched, first-hand as the city struggled in the wake of the Bailout and from the bad press associated with the scandals surrounding ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Many of them felt that it’s abut time Detroit began to be associated with innovation and quality as it had been during the years that it spent as one of the nation’s largest manufacturing hubs. While gentrification in and around the city is a significant problem, especially when rising housing prices cause problems for current residents, the presence of brands like Shinola in the city of Detroit do bring in people who are willing to invest in the city. My personal thoughts are that in times like these a balance must be struck between preservation of the established culture and the mechanisms that will enable the city to build its future in a financially stable and sustainable way. It’s not a problem that I can solve, but I do think that it’s important to acknowledge that at some point in the past, all of the manufacturing that came to Detroit was new and untried, and frankly, scary to some people. Innovation, I think, should scare you sometimes, if it doesn’t, you’re not moving fast enough.
Our first time working with an international brand was a partnership for a watch and bicycle based shoot with Shinola Detroit. The week before the shoot, Photo, Fashion, and our EIC came down, en masse, to scout locations. Midtown near the flagship store is full of nooks and crannies, including a Green Alley down near the Traffic Jam bar. Our Fashion Editor, Aaron had some concerns. Despite the warm weather that weekend, the forecast was windy and cold for shoot day, and while bicycles would have been easier to shoot outside, cold models do not compelling images make. Back inside the store, our contact Amy offered to show us the workshop and a warehouse in the back belonging to Motor City Brewing Works. In the warehouse, we found a half-pipe covered in graffiti and tossed around the idea of shooting with the bikes there briefly, but decided in the end that the floor was safer. Stay tuned for shoot day in the next installment.