We have been home for the past 12 or so days straight (which is pretty strange for us!) and we will actually be mostly home for the next two weeks as well. And that has been awesome because it's given us a chance to get caught up on those projects we have been pushing off, like finally getting around to making a book of our travels in Germany & Austria this past March.
It's been so fun going back through the pictures & we thought we would share some with you guys as well! We're breaking it up into two parts so it isn't too overwhelming & this part covers our time in Heidelberg & Stuttgart. Over these couple of days we got to walk through castles, roam down cobblestone city streets, sip warm beverages in cafes, eat some of the most amazing Italian food I've ever had (funny enough), visit the Porsche flagship store & museum and....roam through more castles!! You do a LOT of castle roaming in Europe! And I LOVED it! One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet up with a long time blog reader, Rici, who came to our Stuttgart stop on the tour and stayed to hang out with us the next day! We had spaghetti ice cream together (don't worry it just looks like spaghetti!), visited a castle (of course!), and got the sweetest card from her! I think it's SO amazing that the internet is this crazy thing that brings us all together & that we can make friends over the years that we finally get to meet in real life thousands of miles from home. It just makes me so so grateful for this blog & all of the amazing people it has brought into our lives because of it.
Speaking of amazing people coming into our lives, we are also super grateful that we had Philipp (who organized the tour) and Jennifer & Conrad from Jennifer Hejna Photography along to adventure with us & show us around. Most of these pictures are from Jennifer & we are SO thankful that she was there to capture so many amazing memories & moments for us! We LOVE you guys!
Looking back through all of these pictures is getting me so excited because we are currently in the process of planning our NEXT European adventure for October! We're heading to a wedding in England & while we're there we're also going to try to hit up some combination of Paris, Scotland and/or Ireland!! So I'm just saying....if there is anyone out there who has been dreaming of doing an engagement, elopement or anniversary shoot in any of those place....we're going to be there the last week of October! I'm just sayin!! We should definitely make that happen! :) :) Wheee!!
Enjoy Part I!
How adorable are Jennifer & Conrad??
Philipp, Conrad & Jennifer hiking up to the castle!
Recently our friends over at the newly launched Lace and Loyalty wedding & marriage blog were posting pictures from their shop, including this amazing grey hoodie with gold foil writing that says "Wifey for Lifey." I instantly fell in love with it & left a note saying how awesome it was. And not more than a few days later a box was sitting on our front porch with my very own shirt as a gift from these amazing ladies! How INCREDIBLE is that??
What's even cooler is that they also agreed to give us one to be able to give away to one go our lucky readers! This makes my heart happy because so many of our giveaways are just for photographers, but this one can be for photographers AND our brides (past, present & future!!)
To enter, just leave a comment in the box below saying hi & we are going to announce the winner on Friday! And...GO!!
And do we have just the thing to kick this week off right!! A while back we were contacted by Deanna to see if we would ever consider doing a maternity shoot for her & her husband Matt. She said that she had always wished that she would have been able to have us there with them for their wedding & that this was the next best thing. Now, how am I supposed to say no to THAT! ? :) Normally, we do tend to just focus in exclusively on "couples" with engagement shoots, weddings & anniversary shoots. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our version of a maternity shoot could be just that: a focus on a couple who happen to be starting a very big, exciting new stage in their lives! And as long as we kept it about that and focused on their interaction and excitement, who they are together & who they are going to be as a family, then it could still fit very much with our style and what we love shooting! So we said yes!
And y'know what...I LOVED it!
I already knew that I loved shooting anniversary sessions because it shows what a love has grown into. And I think you just see that even more when a man is looking at a woman who is about to be the mother of his child. It's a deeper love. An awed love. A love that deserves capturing.
These two are due next month with a baby girl, in the same month when they will also be moving into a new house. So BIG things on the horizon! And it was just such an honor to capture them right now, right here, right before life changes forever for the better.
Deanna & Matt, we had the best time with you guys! We wish you a lifetime of happiness!
And boy do we have something to send you off into the weekend right: Emily & John's sweet engagement shoot all around NYC!!
We met up with these guys & had the best time roaming around some of their favorite streets, taking pictures, and finishing up at their favorite Mexican restaurant. And along the way we got to hear their amazing story! These two first met when they were both in the tropics for family weddings when they were teenagers. They saw each other, struck up a conversation and then a friendship. And Emily joked even then that that was the boy she was going to marry.
Fast forward a few years and they bumped into each other in passing in college. Fast forward a few more years after that and John was still in Emily's heart. As she says, just like in that movie Serendipity, she just couldn't shake the feeling that she was supposed to find him one more time. And so she took a chance and sent him a message. And pretty soon that message turned into dating, into John moving from Denver to NYC to be with her, and now....a wedding next year back in the tropics!!
How AMAZING is that!!? Incredible, right!!
Emily & John, we had the BEST time hanging out & getting to know you guys and talking about big dreams. And now we are even MORE excited for the big day next year! Until then, here are a few of our favorites from our time together!
Pancake Session: 5 Steps to Better Bridal Detail Shots
One of my favorite parts of the day is shooting the getting ready. I love all of the anticipation, I love when things get emotional, I love that we're photographing a part of the day when the bride & groom aren't together so that through our pictures they can still see what the other was doing as they were getting ready to promise forever.
And I also love it because I really do just love shooting all of the pretty details that a girl will put on as she gets ready to become a bride. Her grandma's locket, that beaded belt she spent months searching for the perfect one, her perfume that will remind her of the day every time she smells it, that amazing pair of shoes.
As anyone who has ever heard Justin & I teach on pretty much anything can tell you....we're big on starting with Why. On doing everything with purpose. And letting every choice you make as a photographer flow from that place
And for me, getting amazing shots of the shoes, the jewelry, the dress....this all fits with our own Why because we believe that the fashions of the day can be as much a part of the nostalgia of images as what's happening in them. Think about Jackie Kennedy in a pink Chanel suit or Grace Kelly in long lace sleeves, I think about my own parents on their wedding day with my mom's lace flower child dress and my dad's powder blue suit. Or my grandparents at City Hall, and my grandma's suit and pillbox hat. When I see those pictures, when I see what they were wearing...it makes me feel like I was there. We love giving that gift to the future kids and grandkids yet to be.
And, over time, we've figured out a few things to make those shots even better.
1. Shoot the details where they feel natural. In keeping with part of our Why which includes the phrase "exercise the restraint to tell those stories through the veil of authenticity," it is very important for us that, even if we are styling the details and changing where we found them, they should still be placed somewhere that it's reasonable that they might have actually been found. So for example, shooting the shoes on a chair or side table, which is normally where we find them anyway...we just move them to some good light. Or hanging the dress on an armoire or on a door, where a bride would most likely hang her dress. So in keeping with our own Why (and we know that our Why is not the same as everybody's out there! and if it's not yours that's ok!), for us we would never want to hang the dress in a tree or put it in the bath tub or do anything with it that a bride might not actually herself do. Because when she gets those pictures we want her to remember how excited she was to put on the dress.....not wonder "hmm...when did my dress go outside!" :)
2. Create simplicity of background. If you're shooting something like the dress full length, remove as many distracting elements as you can out of frame. Either crop them out or actually move them. Simple is beautiful. And nothing will ruin a beautiful shot like having a plant in the corner of the frame or random things sitting on top of the armoire. In the same vein, when you are shooting the small details, try going closer. For example, when I'm shooting the shoes on a chair, I almost always try to have the background of the chair fill the frame. It gives me a nice clean background and makes the eye focus in on the subject!
3. Try to shoot across the subject rather slightly down at it. When I'm shooting those smaller details like the shoes & jewelry, I'll sit down right on the floor so that I can bring my lens to be able to shoot right straight across it at an even height as the subject. What happens when I do that, is that by shooting at a wider aperture I am able to keep the subject tack sharp but then use that shallow depth of field to make the background fall off really quickly which makes it soft & pretty. I'll even make sure I enhance that effect by moving the subject toward the front of the chair & even further off the background. If I were instead shooting slightly down on the subject then the subject would be in focus, but so would a good bit of the "seat" of the chair because it's not that far from the subject and the planes of focus wouldn't fall off fast enough. The result is that it looks like I'm shooting at much more stopped down aperture, which tends to have more of a point & shoot look. Also, because we now see so much more of the detail & fabric of the chair, it becomes a lot busier (i.e. not as simple) of a background! I will say though that sometimes shooting straight down on the subjects can make for a really interesting shot...just stay aware of your background!
4. Keep your lens parallel. In addition to shooting straight across the subject, we also take care to make sure we're holding our lens in a way that it is staying parallel to the subject. What I mean by that is that even if you are low enough to shoot across the subject but you are tilting your lens up or down, then it will distort the parallels in the background of the image (like the lines or edges of the chair). Our eye is really attracted to images with very little distortion because we understand them more. They make more sense/look how they should look in real life. So just that simple change can create a much more simple, beautiful image.
5. Try to make it feel like they were found that way. Now obviously this rule has kind of a gray area, because the truth is that we often find the shoes still in the box or the dress still wrapped in plastic. But I guess what I mean is to try to shy away from setting up the details in an overly staged/too perfect/shot in every combination possible way that makes the viewer feels like "oh look what photographer did" and instead feels more like someone is just getting a behind the scenes glimpse into what that morning really felt like. What the dress looked like hanging there waiting to be put on. What the perfume bottle looked like that she was about to spray on. Which is really what we're trying to capture! So allow in some of what we call "benign neglect" where it's pretty but not necessarily perfect, to make it feel more like real life. And so sometimes, the best way to get details shots is to simply shoot them as the bride is actually about to put them on!
As always, we hope that helped!! And if you would like to receive even more free tips & tricks, be sure to get signed up for our newsletter below! We are going to be sending out one next week about "5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Portfolio" and it's going to be a GOOD one! :) You don't want to miss it! We have been really loving our newsletter community so far & we've had thousands of people sign up in just the past few weeks! We would love for you to join 'em so you don't miss out on a single one!