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 that....it'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 now....you 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!

Wed. Apr 2, 2014 by Mary    Get Fired Up

On Boundaries

Last night I sat in a new Belgian coffee shop that just opened in New Haven with two of my closest friends. And over steaming mugs of caffeinated frothiness... we let it rip. Because lately, all three of us have been feeling the exact. same. thing.

Call it the tank being empty. Call it the fuse being short. Call it Chronic Self-Employed Creative Fatigue Syndrome (or CSCFS as it shall now be known).

But it all boiled down to one thing: boundaries. Or rather, as it applied to us, the absolute and utter lack of them.

Not that we didn't have them in the first place mind you. Not that we hadn't all at one point or another sat down and scribbled out office hours on the third page of a notebook with golden retriever puppies on the front of it. Or typed out auto-responders about how we answered email between the hours of 2-4pm, so please, please pretty please don't feel the need to follow up again to see if we've gotten your email before then, thankyouverymuch. No, it's not that we didn't have them. We did. It's just that we hadn't ever really figured out the whole enforcing them part. The sticking like glue to them part. And it's been taking its toll. With those mugs scattered checkerboard between us, we laid it all out on the table.

We were exhausted. We were cranky. We were empty.

We're living in a world of 24/7 electronic stimulation. It's Instagram and Facebook and the direct messages and the blog comments. And all of this "tweet me the info so I can text you the directions and then I'll snap chat you the location" had been taking it's toll. Lately, my remaining mental space has been down to nill. Null. Zip. Zero. Zapped of all it's innate capacity by a stream of constant demands made in 140 characters or less.

Honestly, lately I can't even sit down to write out an entire thought before the world is interrupting. With all it's dings and beeps and cursed little red bubbles telling you exactly how many messages you have waiting.....it's interrupting. It's plugging in to my very core and taking....and it's taking too much. I feel tired way too often, even though we're sleeping plenty. I feel overwhelmed at sitting down and starting even the simplest of tasks. My brain feels fuzzy & unfocused, like I'm trying to think my way out of some cotton stuffing. The kind our grandmothers used to turn into quilts and pillows with pinwheels stitched on them. Because they had the time to just be. I will start to do one thing only to find myself five layers deep into link-clicking and no recollection of what it was I was supposed to be doing in the first place. At the point that it took me three solid days of not making it to the mailbox on time to send a letter because I had gotten distracted by something or other on my computer, I knew there was a problem.

I think my friend Hannah put it best when she wrote this:

There’s this strange sort of paralyzing feeling that rushes over when you wake up and realize that you’ve got just two hands. And two feet. And only one mouth. And two little eyes. And that there is only 15 or so waking hours. And yikes, just 7 days in a week?

It’s not that we are running out of time, it’s that we are realizing we are just one person. That our hearts were not actually designed to be pulled in too many directions. That flesh, spread too thin, hurts more souls than it helps. That we must learn to preserve our lives, and make intentional breathing room, if we ever want to avoid brokenness and burnout to the Nth degree.
(you should definitely read her whole post on boundaries HERE).

And here's the real bomb I have to drop here, the mirror I have to hold up in front of my face: it's my fault.

It's my fault for not putting enough value on my own creative space, my own dreams, my own health, my own laughter, my own happiness, my own quiet time, my own time with God, my own time to sit and sip tea without a phone growing out of my fingers.....it's my fault for not saying, "no world, I'm sorry you'll just have to wait another hour before I get to that email you tweeted me to tell me about to remind me that you sent me a Facebook message. Because right now, there was work that I was BORN to do to be done. There is a Calling ringing off the hook that I have to go answer. There is a fire that needs fueling. And a reason I was put on this earth. And I just can't for the life of me believe that the greatest purpose of my one wild & precious life, the crowning reason I was put here, was to bring an inbox to zero. Dear Lord, please don't let me die and have my headstone say, "at least she got her inbox to zero." What a waste that would be. There is more that I was put here to do. And there is so much more that YOU were put here to do too. I say, it's high time we get to doing it, don't you?

So I've decided. I'm taking this life back.

Brick by brick, concrete by mortar....I'm taking it BACK! I'm taking back my energy, I'm taking back my creativity. I'm taking back my ability to go five minutes without being ON for somebody else. It's like Michael Scott in The Office when he declares bankruptcy.....


And here they are...

1. No checking of email before 9:30am or after 6:30pm during the weekdays.
2. I will get serious about responding to email only twice a day, during set times. No more of this throughout the day nonsense. Because you know what happens when you write someone back on email.....they write YOU back! And then you're both just sitting behind your computers going back & forth like some Atari game of ping pong, seeing who can keep their inbox at zero. It's madness!
3. No responding to email on the weekend at all.
4. I will use from when I wake up until 11:30am to create. To fuel my body & mind. To work out. To shower. To feel like a human being with purpose again. Amen.
5. We've had this one for a while, but I'm putting the official smack down on it: NO checking of Facebook messages. EVER!! Email is where it's at, BABY!! justin@justinmarantz.com
6. For 2-3 hours every afternoon, my phone will be turned off & put away so I can crank out the BIG work.
7. Social media off at 8pm. Phones turned off & put away. Holding on to the hand that's right beside me.
8. No more taking my phone to bed with me anymore. Seriously, when did I become the person who goes to bed with her phone?!
9. Unless it's a true emergency, no more honoring the "we need it five minutes from now" or "I know you're on vacation, BUT" requests. In this constantly on, instant-gratification world we're living in, we've ALL started to think that we need everything RIGHT NOW. That is very very rarely the case. I also think it's really interesting to note that it's almost NEVER our clients who are the ones who are sending requests like these. It's magazines, industry stuff, and fellow photographers....so we're doing this to ourselves! It's time we put a stop to it.
10. Even if it's not the popular thing to do (people like you a whole lot better when you're saying YES!) I will say "no" to more of the good things.....so that I give myself the chance to say "yes" to the really great ones.

So here's to BOUNDARIES friends! And taking our lives back, one brick at a time!

Tue. Apr 1, 2014 by Mary    Weddings

Silverbrook Farm Wedding: Ashley & Jeremy

Well now, today is an EXCITING day!!!

We shot Ashley & Jeremy's Silverbrook Farm wedding back in October, the day before our own anniversary actually! And we've kept them off the blog until they were featured over on Southern Weddings!! That feature is officially live so now we can share with you our full post recap of their incredible day.

So how do I even go about putting into words what it was like to shoot their wedding? Let's start with the fact that they are now some of our best friends. We have had the absolute honor to document some of their biggest moments over the years, from their "engagement shoot" at the sunrise shoot out to their elopement in Vegas, to now the big party or what came to be known as #mitchellstaketwo. And we fully expect to be the ones who get to document their 50th anniversary party too! I'm just sayin.

Ashley & Jeremy are some of the most giving, thoughtful, above & beyond friends I could have ever asked for. They constantly push me to be a better person. To think kinder, to always look at the positive, to be the kind of friend who just shows up. My life hasn't been the same since these two came into it, and to watch them promise their lives to each other was one (wait, two!) of the happiest moments of my life.

Ash & Jer, I fully expect to be old & wrinkly with you guys. And to still be going on adventures. Thank you for letting us be part of the ride. Your love will inspire a generation.

We LOVE you!

Photographer: Justin & Mary Photography / Videographer: Josh Gooden / Planner: Antonia Christianson Events / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Silverbrook Farm / Florist: Floral and Bloom / Dessert Baker and Caterer: Sweet Water Cuisine / DJ: Amanda Pearl of Fat Cat Productions / Photo Booth: Liz & Ryan/ Bride’s Gown: Vera Wang “White” / Paper Products: Paper Dolls Design / Hair Stylist: Ian McCabe / Makeup Artist: Sarah Rillon / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan / Groom’s Attire: Levi Denim, J.Crew Shirt, Forever 21 Blazer, Etsy Bow Tie, and Aldo Shoes / Groomsmen Attire: J.Crew Shirt, Levi Denim, and H&M Shoes / Chalkboards, place cards, and window panes: Coastal Calligraphy and Design

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