Justin & Mary's Blog http://justinmarantz.com/ Justin & Mary's Blog en-us The First Ever J&M Cocoa & Cookie Swap http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2028 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2028 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:06:00 GMT different about this season.

Justin ... I still have all the normal to do's we always do each year of sending out our client gifts, getting in those last few albums, having our final client meetings of the year ... booking our December new J...M brides (love all you ladies!!) But this year, I just feel....peaceful. Or maybe more to the point, peace-filled. I just have this calm over me that it's all getting done, it's all coming together, it's all going to be great. And in the midst of it all, we have still had time to really enjoy the holiday season ourselves. That is definitely a FIRST for us in a looong time!!

So far we have gotten to see the lighted boat parade in Mystic, watched a ton of Christmas movies, made homemade soup ... sat by the fire. We've decorated our house, we've gone to friends holiday parties, and this weekend we are going to see The Nutcracker! It's really been so amazing to see that change and I'm just so, so grateful for it. And I think if I had to put my finger on it, it's just been this great season of exchanging striving for being still. Of relinquishing control ... trusting that someone much better has got this. It's in the slowing down, the taking deep breaths, the letting good things come to us rather than trying to force them all the time. It's been such a huge blessing! And there's not a doubt in my mind that God has had a hand in all of it. I am so thankful for His peace!

Last night, we gathered some of our favorites together and hosted our first ever J...M Cocoa ... Cookie swap! We lit every candle in our house, turned up the Christmas music, and filled our home with friends and a ton of laughter (watching the guys act out the Heads Up game will do that!). When it was all said ... done, the party didn't end until close to 2am. And we went to bed tired, but oh so happy! And as an extra bonus: we are stocked in cookies through the rest of the year!

If you are thinking about hosting a holiday part (either this year or next), I highly recommend the cookie swap! It was a ton of fun seeing what everyone made ... we all walked away with such an awesome mix. I wanted to include our set up here in case you're looking for any inspiration!

Happy Friday friends!

One of my favorite things we did was these tray boxes for everyone to put their cookies in to take home. They were striped boxes with a polka dot tissue paper liner and these metallic imprinted Merry Christmas tags. We got all of them at Hobby Lobby on their 50% off sale for like $1 each!

Jars of marshmallows, chocolate chips ... crushed peppermint for everyone to customize their cocoa. And chocolate dipped Oreos there on the right!

Red ... white striped straws for the cocoa ... hazelnut pirouettes.

Sugar cookies with the peppermint hershey kisses on top. Justin did all of our baking while I did the decorating, and they were DELICIOUS!! He cooks ... he fixes stuff....I'm the luckiest girl ever! :)

I just draped these tags into the mugs ... it was such an easy ... fast way to make them a little more festive!

Candy, CANDY CANES, candy corn and .....syrup!

Cooper was definitely wondering if Santa would put some of those cookies under the tree for him!! :)

Yale Engagement Shoot: Mary & Mike http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2027 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2027 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:33:00 GMT
Whew, this post is going up so late today, but that's just because I was having the hardest time narrowing down my favorites (definitely a good problem to have!!) And when you see this amazing blue dress and this gorgeous couple, I think you'll understand why!!

Mary ... Mike came all the way up from Virginia to hang out with us in CT only a short while after they got engaged. We hung out all around the Yale campus, chased some incredible light, and finished everything off with some pumpkin apple ciders (yes pumpkin!) These two are just the sweetest! Mary is actually a photographer herself ... that is always such a huge honor when another photographer asks us to do a shoot for them. Plus we always LOVE it because photographers know how to work the camera! These two! Half the time I felt like I was doing a shoot for Vanity Fair...and just wait until you see the ones with the vent! All time favorites!


Made to Last http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2024 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2024 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:02:00 GMT
Actually no, scratch that. There are THREE things that happen when you buy an 1800s era home:

1) The projects are never ending
2) There isn't a straight wall to be found in the whole thing, and
3) You wouldn't change it for the world.

We LOVE this house. Everything about it has character and style and history and legacy, and you KNOW that's speaking our language. It's everything we love and want to stand for ourselves in our own work! In CT, there tend to be two general types of homes; there are the old historic homes (with all the challenges ... extra effort they bring) and then there are the new constructions, which can be gorgeous...we actually looked at a lot of them when we were looking to buy and there are so many pretty ones out there. But every time we walked into one it felt like something was just missing for what we love. And that something I think is the "what makes them different" factor. That is something that's really important to us. In our own work, the last thing we ever want to be is the exact same as everyone else. We always want to make sure we are never compared as a photographer is a photographer is a photographer, all lined up side by side. And we knew that's what we wanted for our home too.

And BOY did we get it!! There is nothing about this house that is the same as any other. And for us, that is both the greatest thing in the world....and also presents an ongoing, ever-growing list of challenges. The walls are curvy, there are all of these quirks in the floor plan we have to work around, the joists are in weird spots. And when you try to bring in modern amenities, with all of their standard measurements ... placements, it takes a lot of improvising ... shall we say "creative thinking" on the spot to make them work! :)

But again, as frustrating as that can be, I think that's what we also love so much ... are so grateful for about this house every single day: absolutely nothing about it is cookie cutter or the same as everyone else! (even though sometimes that would definitely be the easier, faster way to go!)

We were talking to our contractor, who was in to take measurements for our next wave of renovations on the house, and he said something that really stuck out to me. He said he actually really loved it when things don't happen so super quick ... easy in a home. He said he loved it when the homeowners have had to get their own hands dirty in helping to make it happen. Because he said it made them appreciate it more, it made them care more than if it was all just handed to them.

And I think it's like that with our businesses too. At some point or another, I think we all wish we could just snap our fingers and we would be "there" (wherever there is). We wish it could be easier. We wish it could be faster. We wish we could just follow the step by step instructions that were included in the box. We are ready to show the world the "after" to our before. We are ready for the highlight reel. We are tired of the behind the scenes.

But it's exactly those behind the scenes- It's the hard work and the getting your hands dirty and the having some skin in the game...it's the problem solving and figuring out how to make it happen and the quick thinking on your feet- it's all of those things that are what make it YOURS. It's all of those things that you'll get to be SO proud of one day. It's all of those things that allow you to get out of the box and stop just following someone else's instructions. Because I promise you, if I just handed it all to you tomorrow... it wouldn't mean nearly as much. It would just be something you were willing to walk away from when the highlight reel was over.

But this. The building it with your own two hands, the learning a new craft as you go, the refusing to take short cuts.... now THAT is how you make something that's different from everyone else out there.

So today, I want you to give yourself permission to slow down. The enjoy the process. To see the work that you're doing on this dream as a privilege and a gift.

And whenever it gets hard just remind yourself....this right here is how you build something that was made to last.

Rock it out friends!

Our New Favorite Holiday Drink!! http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2025 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2025 Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:13:00 GMT Jennifer Olmstead, all of us were putting in a lot of long hours! And that kind of diligence and effort definitely requires some reward at the end! :) So at the end of Day 3 when the last to do had been check marked, we decided to raise a glass to celebrate! When Jen asked if we wanted to try her favorite new drink, I was honestly just expecting a glass of wine or something like that. But this girl is the QUEEN of hospitality, so I should have known better! She started breaking out cutting boards and spices and fresh rosemary. And that's when I knew we were in for something really good!

Enter: The Bourbon Bomber!!

I don't know about you, but when bourbon, nutmeg, apple cider and bitters all come together, it sounds pretty much like a holiday dream come true to me! And I can tell you that it was even better than it sounds.....they were delicious!! And I may have just had two! :) We know that a lot of you are heading to holiday parties this time of year or maybe even hosting one of your own, so we asked Jen if she could share the recipe so we could pass it along to all of you too. And in true Jen fashion, THIS is the gorgeous design she put together (did I mention she's amazing?!)

We hope you guys love it as much as we do! Cheers!

Amazing design by Tonic Site Shop, recipe from The Boys Club.

December J&M Mentoring Sessions http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2023 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2023 Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:29:00 GMT
Last week, we finished up our last mentoring session of the year! We took two sessions in December: one of them- with the adorable Jamie Rae- was done over Skype because she is all the way out in Oregon and the other was last week while we were down in Virginia with the amazing Amanda Manupella! I just adore both of these girls and I am SO excited for all of the incredible things they have planned for their businesses in 2015! They both came to us totally ready to shake things up and come out swinging like never before next year, and after sitting down with both of them I have no doubts that that is exactly what they are going to do!

I am so grateful for these mentoring sessions and things like Skype and travel and this blog that have brought so many amazing hearts in our lives this past year! It is such a gift to be able to sit down with someone and hear them pour out their hearts for the big dreams they have for their businesses ... their lives. To look them in the eye and know that they have what it takes to go do it. And then to sit down side by side, shoulder to shoulder with them and come up with a plan for getting there. I'm just SO thankful! This work doesn't feel like work at all....and that's when you know you're on to something you love!

Here are some of our favorites from the mini-headshots we did with Amanda! And if you are interested in mentoring with us for your business in 2015, we say why not make it a Christmas gift to yourself this year!! :) You can find all the info by clicking HERE.


J&M Behind the Scenes Recap 2014!! http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2022 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2022 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 21:48:00 GMT incredible people (heyyyyy J...M Brides!) we got to meet along the way.

It is also the time of year where we can look back at all the shenanigans we got up to behind the camera in making those shoots happen.

This is one of my favorite posts of the whole year because it gives me the chance to look back through the whole year and stand in wonder at every good thing that has happened (and remember Who every good thing come from) rather than it all just be a blur and then be on to the next thing! And it also gives me the chance to remember just how very lucky I am to do this all side by side ... shoulder to shoulder with my very best friend and the cutest boy in the world.

So here it is, our 2014 Behind the Scenes Recap! Try not to be jealous of all our utter coolness, especially when you see that very last shot! :) (hint: it's the exact opposite of cool!) Since this post is so massive, we've broken it up into some very appropriately named categories, as you'll see below!

Cheers to an incredible year you guys!

**First up, we call this first section, "This is how we DO, New England Style!!"

There WILL be lobsters on my clothes, do not be concerned. I'm from Connecticut, not crazy.

Polka dots and plaid.

Navy ... white is my jam.

Polka ... pink. Real men wear pink! :)

Striped sweaters ... puffers for those chillier months.

Next up is our "Anything to get the shot!" category. We'll wade right into the water, get down in the grass....

We'll shoot one handed while we share a bottle of wine with our couples...obviously!

We'll shoot in tight spaces....

We'll shoot in the rain....

Like, a LOT of rain!!

We'll shoot in high heels boots on the snow.

We'll actually get IN the fountain...

We'll wrap ourselves around this random post because that's where the angle needs to be.

We'll create makeshift backdrops...

And we'll get dangerously close to the cliffs (even when warned against it)!!

This next section is our "Profoto on the GO-GO" category!

Really on the go in NYC.

True story: this nearly turned into a Mary Poppins moment. Chim Chimeroo. But it's really good in case of rain.

And Profoto on the go to these awesome steps in Chicago!

Which leads me into our next section...."Oh the places you'll go"!! On location in the Garden of the Gods, CO.

The top of Foss Mountain in NH for sunset.

A catamaran in Antigua with one of my all time favorite J...M Brides, Lauren Wakefield!

The shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. With a bird.

On our own personal sailboat for the day in Rockport, Maine.

And on an almost totally frozen Belle Isle...it was beautiful!!

Next up is our "Justin looking dapper" category! Naturally!

One handed. Just how he rolls!

But he always makes time to groom the next generation of photographers!

Laid back J.Crew for those more casual days.

Suspenders and satchels for the win.

And when in doubt, add a sailboat and a puffer vest in Nantucket! Plus that adorable smile! :)

His trusty Fuji with the leather strap.

This brings me to our "Stuff that happens at weddings" category. Bridal party of 20? NO problem! Big groups totally think I'm funny! Totally.

Do that thing that makes your heart smile.

The Well Groomed Groom.

Breaking out the longer lenses.

Ride along on the party bus!


Group photos with our AMAZING J...M Couples, like these two- Rene ... John, who were one of our absolute FAVORITES!!

Mazel, Mazel.

Light testing for epic room shots.

More light testing. And more polka dots!!

Photo booth fun! Even better if there are shark heads. Actually, there should always be shark heads.

Annnnnnnd then there's.......THIS. Which I'm pretty sure gets a category all it's own. :)

Happy Friday Friends!!

Christmas Fun w/ Friends in Richmond!! http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2021 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2021 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:14:00 GMT
We had dinner at the absolutely STUNNING Jefferson Hotel that was decked out to the nines for the holidays, complete with a huge christmas tree and giant gingerbread house. This hotel is gorgeous and the meal was pretty amazing too! But the best part of course was the company with Annamarie ... Ryan Buddy ... Jill , Katelyn ... Michael and Matt ... Carissa. We just LOVE all of these guys and getting a chance to have a night off of just pure fun with them was just what we needed!

After dinner we headed back to Katelyn ... Michael's house for some games (hello Ellen's heads up game!), hot cocoa, and delicious square cookies :) where we got to meet up with Ali too! And of course maybe the best part of the whole night...getting to meet Matt ... Carissa's new puppy!! Ahhhh SO cute!

In short, it was a magical night spent with some of the best people we know! Their friendship is such a huge gift!

Happy Thursday everyone!

**Photos stolen from everyone's various Instagrams ... a couple from the Fuji....don't judge the quality!! :)

Featured: The Shoot Dot Edit Recharge Your Business Guide http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2020 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2020 Wed, 10 Dec 2014 09:50:00 GMT
We are so honored to be included in the latest marketing guide from the amazing folks at Shoot Dot Edit, Recharge Your Business: The Wedding Photographer's Off Season Checklist! This is such an amazing resource on everything we as business owners should be doing in these quieter months (y'know besides drinking a ton of hot cocoa ... watching Elf, which are obviously at the top of the list! :) to set ourselves up for success next year! It covers everything from marketing, social media, systems, SEO, blogging ... workflow. And the best part? It's absolutely FREE! All you have to do is click over HERE to grab your copy!

For our part of the Recharge book, we have listed out four things you can do to market your business ... reposition yourself to attract your most ideal clients right now! And if you want to read more about our entire strategy for how we went from getting clients who saw us as merely transactions to getting our name out there ... booking a calendar full of people we absolutely love ... who love us in return, you can read the full story ... our step by step marketing plan in our e-book The Guide. Head on over HERE to purchase your copy and get set up to make 2015 your best year yet!


We just got some emails from people who grabbed The Guide recently ... it's been amazing to read what they had to say about what it's doing for their business!

From Sarah Beth:

"I just finished reading the Guide...my goodness, what a WEALTH of information! I'm not a huge reader, but I couldn't put it down! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom!"

From Laura:

"I purchased The Guide a few weeks ago and not until a few days ago did I get the chance to actually started reading it. I haven't been able to stop and we've already started implanting the NEW ways we interview clients. PLUS, making website changes, even home changes, to reflect more of US. What an ah-ha moment!"

Click HERE to grab your copy of The Guide too!

Branding Strategy: 5 Things We've Learned http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2019 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2019 Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:10:00 GMT
We are currently snuggled up in the mountains of Virginia wrapping up the final work on our brand new website (we can't WAIT to show you!!) with our insanely talented designer ... friend Jennifer Olmstead! It has been so incredible to watch her work and the genius that she can come up with on the spot over and over again, and it's been amazing to watch the whole thing come together right before our eyes. We are so so so SO grateful to have found her!!

All of this talk of branding combined with a really good question we got asked the other day- what do you recommend for people who are just getting started, who might not know what they want their style ... brand to be yet?- got us thinking about the top 5 things we wish we would have known to think about when we were first getting started with our business and needed to put together our first polished brand. Read on to find out what they are! :)

1. A good brand is a matter of trust. I think a lot of times, people feel like a good brand is a splurge or a luxury thing that they will do "someday." That it's not a requirement for right now. But you have to keep in mind that the website/blog is often the first experience a client is having with you. And if what they see when they get there is out of date work or a very amateur looking logo, then there is a very good chance that they will start to worry that your work will be amateur/not established too. And whether or not they can TRUST you to do a good job! A good, polished brand says to the world we're here to stay ... we're taking this seriously.

2. Get a bird's eye view. When you're trying to figure out what would even feel like you for a brand, it is very easy to be inspired by what other photographers are doing in the same industry. Instead, try to get a step removed. Flip through magazines and books that inspire you ... put sticky tabs on things that speak to you. Don't think about it, just go on gut reactions. Now do the same thing by doing a "scavenger hunt" on Pinterest. Let one thing lead you to another and another and just pin anything that speaks to you. Now give it a few days to walk away from it. When you come back, ask yourself what do all of these things have in common? What am I naturally drawn to without even thinking too hard about it? Chances are that's going to give you a really good place to start.

3. Go your own way, but don't go it alone Don't be afraid to do something different from everything else that's out there at the time. Stay away from questions like "what am I supposed to do? what's everyone else doing?" Because if they've already done it, then it's already been done! And the last thing you want is to box yourself in just looking like everyone else. Be willing to be the purple cow in a sea of brown ones. It's scary to be different. It's scary to step out. But there are rewards for those who are willing to do just that! At the same time, bring along people who are really good at making you look better. Just like we all say that just because a friend has a camera and can shoot your wedding, it doesn't mean they should! Well in the same way, just because you can use photo shop ... make a logo, it doesn't mean you should! Be willing to go with people who are especially gifted in the area of design. If you don't have the budget to hire someone to do a custom design just yet, there are still some really GREAT resources out there of customizable website designs that will get you most the way there with beautiful design and functionality. But then you can still really make them your own with the customization abilities! One of our favorite resources for that, that we tell EVERYONE about, is the Tonic Site Shop (started by Jen ... our other good friend Jeff Shipley) that has all of these incredible, editorial, luxury styles, so that you could really have a beautiful brand up and running in just a few days. If there's any chance at all that you are losing inquiries because of the first impression your current brand ... website are making, then there is NO time to wait on this. After all, the inquiries you are getting (or not getting!) now will shape what your bookings ... calendar are for all of next year!

4. Don't be defined by past mistakes I think a lot of times we see photographers who started with one name or brand, and because they have already invested time ... money in it they have a hard time changing it or moving forward if it's simply not working. Let go of that! Be willing to trim the fat of what's not working ... move forward in 2015 lean ... mean! When we first started, we chose the name "Imagine Imaging" and it was kind of a disaster! :) We got everything from "Images Imaging, Imaging Imaging.....and my personal favorite, Imagine Imagining (that's really deep when you think about it....just imagine imagining!) Even though we got off to a rough start, when we realized it wasn't working we were willing to change it. Even though we had already invested in it, even though some people already knew us as that, we decided instead to let our mistakes just be these steps on the way to success. Not something that had to define us. So if you don't love your name, logo, colors, website design business cards...whatever it is, be willing to just change it and not miss a step. While you keep sprinting toward your dream for what this business could one day be!

5. Go with a platform that will allow your brand to grow with you. When we were first getting started, things like customizable websites didn't exist. So every time we wanted to change something, we had to hire a designer and start from scratch. And the second that the website was done, we were locked into it until the next time we hired a designer again. I can't tell you how THANKFUL we are to now live in a world where something like Showit exists (I've said this before, but I think it always bears repeating....we don't get ANYTHING for mentioning Showit ... we still pay for our subscriptions just like everyone else! We just love them as a product!) And what we love the most about them is that as we grow with our brand, it can grow with us. So if you're first getting started and you end up choosing something that doesn't ultimately fit where you're going, there's nothing lost if you have a platform that can be changed and updated and made to go live in an instant. Trust me, it's a HUGE blessing!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Boston Public Gardens Wedding: Annmarie & Gil http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2018 http://justinmarantz.com/index.cfm?postID=2018 Mon, 08 Dec 2014 09:33:00 GMT
Today we have the stunning Boston Public Gardens wedding of Annmarie ... Gil to kick your week off right! These two got married on a day when they were calling for it to absolutely pour all day. And it did rain quite a bit in the morning, but the second that we were ready to step outside for the First Look....it stopped! And it stayed that way ... beautiful for all of their portraits and the rest of their day!

Which is exactly what these two deserve, because they have two of the most beautiful hearts we've ever had the honor of meeting! Annmarie ... Gil found us from when we shot one of our all time favorite past Clients Turned Friends, JC ... Esther, several years ago. Which totally just reaffirms my belief that awesome people are friends with awesome people! :) Because honestly, it just doesn't get any sweeter than these two. They are kind and thoughtful and neither of them has a selfish bone in their body. They love their families fiercely and their friends with their whole heart. To know them is to feel like you've been friends with them for years. And everyone who is lucky enough to be around them feels like they are witnessing love in action.

Everything about this day was so incredible. From Annmarie's gorgeous lace dress (and those awesome blue shoes!) to the guys all decked out in gray tuxes to the Kenyan choir that Annmarie surprised Gil with at the ceremony....the whole day was elegant and classic and full of joy. In short, it was a DREAM to photograph and we just feel so lucky to be the ones who were there. Annmarie ... Gil, we ADORE you guys! Thank you so much for letting us be there with you on this perfect, perfect day!

SO much love!