Thu. Apr 10, 2014 by Mary    Stuff we Love

Stuff We Love: Mark Seliger & The Coolest Gift Ever!!

When people ask us who we look to for inspiration, one of THE top names that always comes up first would have to be Mark Seliger.

We absolutely adore what he does with portrait lighting and his black & whites are incredible. He has an ability to capture people in the in between with an honesty that tells you more about them in a single frame than an entire interview could. And of all his work, one of the first pieces that Justin ever showed me back when I was first falling in love with photography was his "In My Stairwell" series: an entire series of portraits of people, some famous-some not, taken in the exposed brick stairwell at Seliger's studio.

While we were out at WPPI last month, Justin got to go attend an evening with Mark Seliger put on by Profoto while I was out at another dinner. He came back raving about it & we put it on the blog here as one of our highlights of the trip. And that would have been that. Would have been, except for one incredible person who was reading it....someone we were about to meet in Denver.

We had plans to meet up with Miss Rachel Gomez (who you met yesterday) for a mentoring session in Denver. And when we got there and met up with her in the lobby of our hotel, boy did she have one HECK of a surprise for us!!! You see, Rachel went to Brooks Institute for photography and one her good friends had gone on to be the first assistant for Mark. So she called in a couple of favors, and not only did she have the book "In My Stairwell" for us when we got there.....She had gotten Mark to SIGN it!!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!! Our names, written out by Mark Seliger, right there in black & white!!! Seriously, what a DREAM come true!!

It just blows my mind how this little business & this little blog have brought SO many incredible, amazing, above & beyond people into our lives. People we do not deserve. But we are all the better for knowing. People we would have never gotten to meet if we hadn't started typing a few words in a free Blogger blog seven years ago. Don't be afraid to put yourselves out there, friends. Don't be afraid to put words up for the world to see. Don't be afraid to let people in. Because those people could change everything for you. Rachel, we are so so SO thankful for you!! There are no words. You're amazing my friend!

Happy Thursday y'all!

Wed. Apr 9, 2014 by Mary    J&M Mentoring Sessions

April Mentoring (Part I)

We just got back from an awesome, whirlwind trip to Denver! We were there to do an engagement shoot for one of our incredible J&M couples (more on that to come!), but since we were already making the trip we decided to add on a couple of workshops and a day of mentoring sessions. While we were there, we were so lucky to get to spend the day with two amazing photographers who are ready to take their businesses to the next level: Rachel Gomez & Kathryn Dokter!! I LOVED sitting down with these two and hearing their hearts for where they want their work & their businesses to go. And I am SO excited for this new season for each of them! A season of making BIG things happen and building up crazy momentum, and most of all creating work that sets their hearts on fire and is exactly the kind of work they want to be shooting!

I think when we try by ourselves to figure out how to make these BIG dreams happen, it's really easy to get stuck. And that's why we LOVE mentoring so much! Because we can be the ones to help people get un-stuck! We are able to sit down with people & push them on the hard things, ask the tough questions, and come up with ideas together that they wouldn't have thought of alone. In particular, we really love sitting down & helping people whose bookings might not be where they should be for this year or next, or who are having a really hard time getting people to value their work at higher prices. I feel like those are two areas that we can really make a big difference, so if that sounds like something you've been having trouble with, definitely grab a mentoring spot & we will come up with a "rock it out" next action plan together! We have just ONE spot left in our April Mentoring on April 16th & we are also bridging our June 11th mentoring to Baltimore and have just one spot left for that one too. All the remaining dates are at the bottom of this post, so grab yours before they fill up!


Meet: Rachel Gomez

Meet: Kathryn Dokter

April 4th AM SOLD OUT
April 4th PM SOLD OUT
April 16th AM SOLD OUT
April 16th PM SOLD OUT
May 9th PM
May 29th AM
May 29th PM SOLD OUT
June 11th AM SOLD OUT
June 11th PM SOLD OUT

J&M's Lighting Intensive- New Haven, CT on May 8, 2014
J&M Lighting Intensive - Seattle, WA on July 8, 2014
Walk Through a Wedding w/ J&M - New Haven on November 5-6, 2014

Tue. Apr 8, 2014 by Mary    Pancake Sessions

Short Stack: Our Secret Weapon

Happy Tuesday friends!

Here is a little bonus short stack addition to the letter I wish I could have written to myself my first year of shooting weddings.

I think we've all found ourselves in that position where there is just nothing to hang the dress on. Or maybe there is a pretty cabinet to hang it on, but it is nowhere near the good light or not in the direction that we want the light to fall on the dress (we like it to rake in left to right or right to left to create direction & dimension). And it can be super stressful trying to get a good dress shot.

Well in those cases, we have just learned to turn to our go-to secret weapon that we try to always carry with us: a silver 3M Command Hook!!

We keep one of these little babies in our Think Tank Airport International bag, along with some refill strips. You just peel off the back of the strip and now you can hang the dress anywhere you want! Plus it still looks really nice because we spring for the pretty "silver" looking ones ($3.88) instead of just the plastic white ones. :) Then when you're done, you just pull the tab on the bottom and it pops off the wall and no one will ever be any the wiser.

A few words of disclaimer. This will work on most dresses, but if it's an extra heavy dress it won't be able to hold it. Also, we have never had any trouble getting the hook to come off without leaving any marks/taking off any of the paint, but still be extra careful and just pull the tab really slowly so you make sure it doesn't cause you any problems.

Ok, that's it! Go rock it out friends!


Sat. Apr 5, 2014 by Mary    Pancake Sessions

Pancake Session: Notes to Myself My First Year of Weddings

This journey with photography is just's a long & winding road that, if you do it right, it never ends. You never, ever, ever stop learning. And if you really love it, you Forrest Gump it. Just when you think you've arrived, you turn around and start running back the other direction. Just so you can get a look at the opposite side. While a Bob Seger song plays in the background.

But y'know, I recommend not growing the beard.

Still, even though I know there are many more miles to go and even 8 years in, this journey is really just getting started for us & photography....there are a few things that we've picked up along the way. Things that if I could, I would go back and put in a letter to the first year of shooting weddings me. The me who had no idea about aperture and shutter speed and ISO (funny enough, they don't teach that in law school). The me who thought the "Exposure Triangle" was a new gameshow that just started on NBC. Hosted by Howie Mandel. The me who was still just trying to figure out where the road even was. Let alone whether or not she had it in her to run.

Yea, I would like to give that girl some Cliff's Notes.

Dear Boo (I think I would call myself Boo),

A lot of this won't make sense yet, but you just gotta trust me on this. Kind of like Bill & Ted and their excellent adventure. But without the phone booth. And George Carlin. And all of the causality problems.

Here are some things you're GOING to want to know about weddings:

1. You will be served some shockingly bad things in some shockingly bad seating conditions (like that one time you're given actual fried spam for dinner and are asked to stand INSIDE an unfinished wall with open electrical wires to eat it). Always, always, always pack apples and protein bars.
2. Let's just get this one out of the way now. Holding your camera at a crazy tilted angle does NOT make you artistic. Please stop doing that. You'll regret it later.
3. While we're at it, trying a totally different action at 100% on each image in a blog post also doesn't make you look artistic either. It makes you look like you don't know who you are. Which I guess is part of the process, because right don't yet. But don't worry too much about it, someday you will.
4. Now this is a biggie. Those stunning bangle bracelets at your first Indian wedding? Yea, they go in a specific order. Don't mess that up.
5. This is another biggie. Try to remember that the mom's of the brides have also been looking forward to this day for the past 27 years. It's an emotional day. Don't forget to take care of them too.
6. Start this early. Try to train yourself to never get so caught up in what you have to get done and the way you like to do things that you miss real life unfolding right in front of you. It's way more beautiful that some shoes on a chair.
7. Learning to shoot manually is a great, important skill. You should know your camera inside out. That being said, there will come a time in the industry when people try to make "shooting manually" the pinnacle of what it is to be a professional. Trust me on this, there are far, far, far more important things (like developing a lifelong love affair with light, cultivating an instinct for anticipating moments, and pursuing simplicity of background) you will need to push yourself on to make yourself the photographer you want to be. Because the truth is, it's really hard to be a storyteller if all you're ever doing is looking down at your camera.
8. You are going to put the dress, shoes, rings, and pretty much anything else they'll give you in some CRAZY locations. Do yourself a favor: if you can't tell a logical story for how those things might have ended up where you put them without you being there, then mayyyyyybe don't put them there. Authenticity, simplicity & honesty are beautiful things.
9. When you're posing people, figure out ways to add in movement to everything, even the still poses. And for the love of man, please stop having them do the "back to back" pose. Unless you happen to be photographing Kid N' Play. Then I guess it's ok.
10. And finally, STOP trying to be like everyone else. Just stop it. Take this deep breath with me and listen. Everything about your work and the way you see the world that's different....well that's the best thing that could have ever happened to you. And there's a reason you were created that way. Stop tying yourself in knots trying to be not that. No, run with that. Do MORE of that. Make yourself known for that. Because when you're not like anyone else, guess what. It means you're not competing with anyone else either. And more importantly, it just might be that the world is waiting for your voice.

That's all I have for now Boo. Except to say never stop running. And never, never, never give up.

Oh and listen to more Bob Seger. Because he's just awesome.


And if you're looking for some more advice on the wedding day, they have officially announced all the release dates for our new Profoto videos (whoop whoop!!!) You can see the full schedule of dates in the ad below, but a brand new one- The Girls Getting Ready- just came out today. So head on over HERE to watch it & to catch up on any that you may have missed so far! Happy Monday you guys!

Thu. Apr 3, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

Five Things #1

Ahhh yay. Well here's something new!

Five Things is a brand new blog series we're trying out starting today, that is basically five little snippets into what's making up our lives lately. Stuff we're loving, places we've been, places we're going, things that are on our mind, tv shows that we're obsessed with. You name it! It's just five things that are making up part of our world right now. And then in another week or two, there will be five more. You see how this works! :) Let's give it a go!

**And a huge shout out to the lovely Emily at Cupcakes & Cashmere who gave us this brilliant idea! Her awesome blog is definitely making up part of my world lately! You should definitely go check it out!

{My latest obsession: water w/ fresh squeezed lemon in it AND this awesome mason jar water bottle from the Pursuit 31 Conf. Is anybody else obsessed with this stuff?}

{Making the photographer's hardest decision: D4 or iPhone. #instagramproblems. PS: You can follow us on IG HERE!! }

{It's official. I will never ever EVER get tired of our front porch view. Putting "watch more sunsets" at the top of my to-do lists this year!}

{Weekend plans: flying off to Denver to teach all weekend!! Looking forward to meeting some ahhh-mazing people & putting this book to good use!}

{True that! Lighting another's fire only makes your light burn brighter b/c of the way you rage against the darkness. Make sparks fly friends! }

Happy Friday!

**So tell us, what do you think of this fun little new series of ours? And are any of our Five Things, some of YOUR five things that you're loving right now? Tell us about it!

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