Hey everybody, Bob and I wanted the take some time and write about a important shift in our business or at least how we think about our business.  … Even writing that doesn’t quite seem to capture what we are talking about. I guess maybe I’ll just start at the beginning and try to explain how we got here.

Roughly six years ago we started this business because we loved photography. We still do … more now than we did then.

So in the beginning we did what any eager young business people would do. We jumped and bought the equipment we needed, we worked hard in getting better, rented studio space and went about the journey of building a business together. It’s been harder and more rewarding than I can possibly explain. We’ve had times where we really wondered if it would work at all. Then we developed relationships with clients who make us feel like there is nothing else in this world that could be more rewarding. And on a lot of levels we have enjoyed remarkable success. But as we were always told growing up, with success comes responsibility. I’m not sure I ever really understood that but in the past few months it has been increasingly clear to me what those lessons were about.

We are in the celebration business. It’s one of the great things about this work. From weddings to high school seniors to newborns. All of them mark important milestones and reasons to rejoice. It’s funny, I used to think we were in the photography business. Haha. Bob and I often often talk about how fortunate we are. We get to go to a lot of parties. We get to be part of massive celebrations. I keep looking for the word to capture the feeling. The closest I come is community. We are welcomed into families. We have been welcomed into the family of people who provide services for couples getting married. From venues to churches to caterers and florists, we are part of a community. With that comes the responsibility of being a good citizen in that group.

So from now on, Bob and I will be making a contribution to the charity of our couple’s choice for each wedding we shoot. We will also ask each vendor involved with the wedding to do the same. We will also hold more mini-sessions at our studio and partner with charities in hopes that we can give back to the community that has supported us as we have grown our business. We have benefited from the generosity of our friends, clients and those we work with.

We think it’s time to give back.

Thank you so much for reading and if you want to be a part of this, please feel free to contact us. A community works best when everyone offers their help, ideas and inspiration.

Sincerely,
Bob and Chad

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Well better late than never. So when I woke up today, I was fishing around for some ideas to write about for this blog. (It’s not always as easy as we make it look. Haha). Then I thought, “Hey this is the beginning of a new year, well sort of, but why not a post about some of our favorite images from the past year.” So I started going through some older blog posts. That’s always a dangerous move. I started doing that at about 5:30 this morning. It’s now almost 8:30 and my fingers have just now hit the keyboard. It’s tough business picking my favorite photos. It also turns into a little stroll down memory lane, hence the three hours of cruising through images.

Some of my favorites might not be the best photos from a technical standpoint but they captured a moment – a moment that moved me in some way. Others might be really technically solid, but I can always find something that annoys me a little or something I wish I did a little differently. Bob and I can be pretty harsh critics of our own work. But all of these photos are for some reason or another my favorites. I suspect if Bob wrote this post he would pick different images. We never know why an image is going to move us, and for each person it’s different. I’d never even consider ranking them. I wouldn’t know where to begin. These are my favorites. We hope you like them, and we can’t  wait to start making more images so we can do this again next year – maybe we will even do it a little closer to the new year!

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Jenn

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Stroudmoor Country Inn wedding of Lindsey and Matt

Jess and Sam wedding portraits at Penn State, Wilkes-Barre

 

Hey all, we wanted to share some photos from a wedding we shot this past weekend, two days after Christmas. It was for friends Katy and Cisco at the Radisson in Scranton and it was a great time. It was also surreal. I mean, when do you get to stroll outside to do some photos in December around here when people aren’t shivering. But it wouldn’t have mattered if it was minus 10. This was going to be a celebration no matter what. I understand the reasoning of most couples to get married in the spring and summer. It makes sense. Warmer weather kind of makes everything a little easier. I also watch those couples struggle with booking venues, matching dates with the church and, yes, finding a photographer who is not already booked.

Enter the winter wedding. Take your pick of where you want to get married, take your pick of pretty much everything and maybe even get it a little cheaper because it’s not peak season. If you’re getting married in a church, you can check flowers off your to-do list, because poinsettias are already there. What about snow? So what? A fresh blanket of snow is amazing in photos. If you are lucky enough to have snow on your wedding day, it’s almost magical.  Anyway, what struck me as I was starting to edit Katy and Cisco’s wedding was how perfectly the day went … in the dead of winter. And it had me wondering why more couples don’t pick winter weddings. Heck, you even get to leave the cold and go honeymoon somewhere warm!

So instead of photos of one part of the wedding, I just grabbed some that I liked from the whole day. We hope you enjoy them.

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I feel like I talk a lot about how much I love this gig. And I’m pretty sure I’ve devoted blog posts to the emotions that come with shooting weddings and what a rush that can be. And I’ve probably touched on the perks of the job, like getting to be a part of very private moments and having the privilege to be the one who captures it. I could probably go on and on, but I was reminded the other night of why we do it.

You see, Jenn and Joe, a couple whose engagement, bridal shoot  and wedding we handled earlier this year, stopped by the studio to pick up their canvases and album. (More on the album later) This is the moment it pays off. Seeing their reaction as their canvases were unveiled and their eyes widening and smiles spreading across their face is the pinnacle to me. It’s like watching the emotions of the wedding come back for a visit. We love the photos they picked for their walls. One is a bridal portrait of Jenn walking through the trees and the other was a portrait of them on their wedding day taken at the University of Scranton. They’re also 32 by 48 inches. It’s really touching when clients treat our photos as art and choose to display them in their homes. It’s not really something we take for granted. It means a lot.

The album is one of my favorites. The images are toned to give them a timeless feel and each page is home to just one photo. We like it enough that we wanted to show you the whole thing and how it came together. In the end it was 38 pages and a mix of Jenn’s bridal session and the wedding day. So enjoy.

And a big thank you to our friends Jenn and Joe who gave us another memory and another reason to love this job.

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Sometimes we just shoot to shoot. It’s not a wedding day. It’s not a day for a senior portrait. It’s just an open day on the calendar. What better thing to do than to grab the camera and maybe experiment a little. It’s a funny thing sometimes. Part of this job is on-the-spot creativity. It’s certainly a part we love. But every job has expectations. I suspect almost every person who has hired us has looked at our website and scrolled through our blog posts and galleries first. Well, except maybe the first few who hired us before we had a website. Thank you. You know who you are! With those expectations comes the need to reach and exceed them. No problem. That’s the way it should be. We believe that anyone who does come to us deserves great photos and work that matches what we put out there for everyone to see.

Still, it’s nice to have the freedom to do whatever you want – to maybe shoot a little differently, to maybe edit a little differently, to take a few chances. That was my idea Saturday. I’m just going to shoot. Now, the thing is, I photograph people. It’s what I love to do. I give a lot of credit to landscape photographers. It’s clearly an art and clearly takes talent and patience and a ton of other skills. I can’t stand doing it myself. I like the interaction of working with people. I like getting photos that really capture them relaxed and at ease. Those are the ones that do it for me.

So with that, I called some friends and said, “Hey let’s do some portraits of your son at the studio.” Thank God for Jon and Sarah. I said I just wanted to shoot.

“What time is good for you,” Jon  asked.

That was it. One phone call and they were there. I’m really more grateful for that than I probably let on.

So we did photos of Sam, just about a half hour’s worth. Nothing elaborate. Just Sam and I hanging out grabbing a few photos. It felt great. I warned Jon. “I don’t know what’s going to come out of this.” For most shoots I prepare quite a bit and try to map out the session and what we are going to shoot and where. I pick backgrounds and other stuff. This was not that at all. This was show up and let’s try some stuff. I figured I was going to spend a fair amount of time editing too. I knew I wanted a black-and-white and timeless look to the photos. That was it. What came out of it was exactly what I had hoped for. Sam relaxed right away. The shoot was simple and full of energy. The photos are clean and simple and hopefully timeless. So I wanted to share them here. I think I’ll be doing a lot of these type of sessions. If you’re interested in throwing caution to the wind and trying some different stuff, give us a call and we’ll work something out. Here are the pics.

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Maybe there are times I take things like the Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel for granted. And then I walk inside.  It’s like 1920s dishing out a giant slap in the face. What an unbelievable spot that is! The architecture is amazing, the lobby is jaw dropping. In so  many ways they have preserved a step back in time, and anyone who lives here or has had the fortune to stay there should take a minute to just look around. If for no other reason, look at the amount of shaped and carved and smoothed stone in there. It’s mind-boggling.

It was also amazing place for Jennifer and Andy’s classic wedding. Something about a wedding dress and a tuxedo in that place. It’s like they were made for each other. In a lot of ways, I get pushed toward vintage thoughts and black and white photos. In my head or maybe in reality I’ve seen images of well-dressed men and well-dressed women captured in candid moments on old black and white film. They are grainy photos. They have movement and they have a ton of character. I love those photos! So I really hope Jennifer and Andy don’t mind that I played with these images a little for the blog and tried to again capture that feel.

Thank you so much to Jennifer and Andy for inviting us to be a part of an unbelievably fun and cool day. Maybe in the another post, we can talk about the 50 people all having a shot at the same time during the reception.

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Any time you can knock out some cool engagement photos and snag some cold cuts along the way, it’s been a pretty good day in my book.

Ok, what the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about Michele and Kelvin and we’ll get to the cold cuts soon enough.

We’re asked to do some engagement photos in pretty unique places. Actually we really encourage unique places, but the Weis Market, formerly Mr. Z’s in Hamlin, was a new one. But it made perfect sense to Michele and Kelvin. They met there when they were teenagers. That’s right, teenage sweethearts about to get married. I love that story. And honestly, I love their photos from the grocery. I love that it has special meaning to them. I love the uniqueness of it. I love shopping carts. And as it turns out, so do they. Now, I go into most jobs with a pretty good idea of what we are going to do, some nice ways to pose a couple and ideas of how to use the light … that type of stuff.

I had no friggin’ idea what to do in a grocery store. Bunch of long aisles, fluorescent lights.  I don’t want to say I wasn’t optimistic because that would not be my nature. Concerned? Hell yes. Which brings me to my next point. How the heck did I not think about shopping carts when I was getting a game plan together for this? Fortunately it eventually occurred to someone in our group that they would be a damn good time. So we raced around the aisles. Kelvin hopped in the cart while Michele pushed. Michele hopped in the cart while Kelvin pushed. They had races down the detergent aisle. At one point during one of the races, we threw Bob in a shopping cart while I pulled it backward as fast as I could as Michele and Kelvin raced down the aisle. It was like a rudimentary steadi-cam.  Anyway, we  loved our time with these two and wanted to share just a few shopping cart photos. There will be more to come!

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Bridal shoots are pretty common. Hop in the dress and we’ll will grab some photos at the studio and get something sent to the newspaper. Yes, people still do that and off we go.

Jenn’s bridal shoot was a little different and the way I’m going to recommend every bride do it from now on.  She did hers a few weeks after the wedding. Now I know, some brides might not exactly relish the idea of throwing the dress back on. Sweatpants on a Sunday probably sounds a whole lot more appealing. But there are benefits and the biggest might be not having to worry as much about the dress getting dirty. There is a whole bunch of photos that can be done in a wedding dress after the wedding that I wouldn’t try before for fear of it getting dirty. Plus, the bride has already worked with us for engagement photos and her wedding, so her comfort level is really high in front of the camera and that can really show in the photos.

So Jenn and her mom and her new husband Joe met us at Spring Hills Farm. We did a wedding there last year for Mark and Jess – it’s their family’s farm and a wonderful place. It has a grove of trees that is spectacular for photos and a barn that can be really cool too. So we wandered around for a couple of hours, trying to stay warm and taking photos. We told stories about their engagement session in Long Beach Island  and the great time everyone had at their wedding.

We also decided afterward that we had something really special in her photos. So you’ll notice they had a little different look. We really wanted them to be pieces of art. The setting just worked perfectly for this kind of treatment, and we are really happy with how they turned out. And so are Jenn and Joe. They got to see them a few days ago. We even produced an album with the bridal session and their wedding combined. I’ll share that another time. So here are the photos we’d love the chance to produce for every bride. Enjoy!

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The directions went a little like this. Take a right at the light, go a little while and you’ll see the castle.

OK, so that’s a right and then look for the castle. Got it. Seemed simple enough. I’m in the middle of New Milford. How hard can it be to find a castle. Harder than you might expect. Bob was in front of me as we were driving and looking for it, and he missed it. I seriously only caught it out of the corner of my eye. But there it was in a backyard – a replica of a Scottish castle called Valhalla built by Ron Hall. Now Ron’s an interesting cat. Turns out his ancestors are from Scotland and at some point he got the idea that he wanted to build a castle in his backyard as some type of nod to his ancestry. It also turns out the mountain behind Ron’s house has a lot of rocks. So for the 27 YEARS, Ron would take his wheelbarrow up the mountain and he would pick rocks and bring them down to his house. One at a time, he built Valahlla. Now you might ask, why didn’t he use a tractor or something along those lines to haul the rocks. In my brief conversation, I learned Ron is no dummy – crazy maybe – but not dumb. He would have preferred to use a tractor but the hill was too steep. So a wheelbarrow it is. I should also point out Ron didn’t use anything other than rocks. This place is just one stone stacked on another, stone, stacked on another. He repeated that process about a billion times. It’s freakin’ amazing!

But there is a point to this story – as if you needed more. We were there to do engagement photos for Emily and Jordan. Emily was actually the one who said, let’s do the photos at the castle. I had no idea what she was talking about but what the hell, let’s do it. Sounds cool. It totally was. Nice call Emily. We had a great place to do the photos and hang out for a couple hours and we met maybe the most interesting guy I will meet all year in Ron. All in all, a pretty great day.

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I guess I can’t really call him a wedding crasher. I mean he was dressed nicely, with a good suit. He didn’t really cause any problems. The sneakers were a little bit of a weird thing. The blue fur was definitely odd, but I like odd so that was OK, too. And hell, he could dance! Welcome to Jennifer and Andy’s wedding, Champ! The Scranton/Wilkes-Barres Railriders‘ lovable mascot dropped in for a dance with the bride and groom and pretty much everyone else over the weekend at the Radisson. It was awesome! I’ve been doing this long enough to know that when a seven-foot -tall pile of blue fur hits the floor, the party is about to get real.

This dude can work a room. Champ cut it up for awhile with Jennifer and Andy . He posed for some selfies. (Apparently mascots like selfies too.) He danced with all of the kids. It was such a cool moment in a day filled with them. Here are a few shots of Champ bringing the party to a whole new level!

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Somewhere laying around my house is a book that was really really popular like 20 years ago. It’s called “Men and from Mars, Woman are from Venus.” I haven’t read it but I can only assume it talks about the differences in the sexes and how to better navigate them. I really wonder if the author spent a day with a bride or a groom getting ready for a wedding. You could do a case study on that.

First, the guys. Guys tend to be cool and relaxed. Not all of them, mind you, but most of them. Their responsibility a lot of times is to make sure they get into their tuxes, get the tie on reasonably straight and BE ON TIME. The rest of the time is usually spent watching college football, maybe having a beer and chatting with the boys.

The girls can be a different scene. Usually there’s a bit more chaos and more taking care of last-minute details. And let’s face it, getting into the dress is a bit trickier than throwing a tux on. Plus, mom wants to be there to zip up and dad gets to see his girl in her dress. Those are unbelievably great moments. They are also moments that are unique to the bride’s day. For me, I love the  energy of photographing the girls. I love the details of last-second makeup touches and the moment when the flowers show up. I love getting shots of the bride against some beautiful window light just moments before she walks out the door to head to the ceremony. I love the chaos that often accompanies all of it. The excitement and adrenaline of those times is addicting.

And that’s the way it was this past weekend for Melissa and Will. The guys relaxed and told stories and laughed. The girls did all those things too. They also went to the salon, touched up make-up, tweaked their hair, helped Melissa get ready, made a bunch of phone calls and everything else you can imagine. And both were great. So here are a few shots form everyone getting ready for the ceremony. We’ll post more photos from their day later. A huge thank you to Melissa and Will for letting us be a part of it.

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So what do you do when you just run out of light and the bride and groom only have a few minutes until they need to be introduced for the first time as husband and wife?

Panic?

Well yeah maybe, but that’s not doing anyone good. If you’re Bob, an eternal optimist who believes there is always a way, you head for the edge of the lake and hope it’s reflecting enough light to give you  a cool background. That tiny crescent moon be damned; we can make that work too. So facing a tight deadline, Bob and our terrific couple, Nil and Jay, walked verrrry carefully through the dark to the water’s edge for just a couple more portraits Saturday night at Woodloch Resort in Hawley. I really like what Bob did here. He didn’t try to fight the elements. Instead he used them to his advantage to create a couple of really striking shots in less than ideal conditions.  In the end, they are a couple of really nice shots that I’ll admit I had my doubts about when they headed to the water. And Nil and Jay got back to the reception in plenty of time for introductions and a great party. We loved working with you guys, and we will post more photos soon. Until then, enjoy!

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At some point I’m going to write a tip section for our website. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do now for awhile. I’m putting it on my list of stuff for this winter. We can put stuff on there like how to plan a wedding with less stress, how to pee in a wedding dress (yes we know) how cuff links work, the best way to attach a corsage and maybe some stuff on how to dress for an engagement shoot! Maybe we’ll even have a guest blogger or too. I can invite Kaitlyn to do the “how to dress” section.

As a little background, Kaitlyn is Kaitlyn of Jim and Kaitlyn. So that should clear that up,  and we just did there engagement photos. Kaitlyn nailed it! Now, I sent Kaitlyn an email that morning to say, “Hey, it’s pretty effin’ cold out, make sure you dress appropriately. Don’t pretend it’s summer outside or you will freeze.”   And then she ignored me. She had her stuff picked out and weather be damned. I was worried about her but then she showed up and put on a clinic of how to look great and be yourself during photos. She was comfortable, mostly warm and it showed in her photos.  We absolutely loved spending the afternoon with them. They are fun to be around and had a good time during the shoot. god bless them,  they were patient when we kept saying, hey how about one more photo. It was pitch black when we finished. I should mention again that we just love our clients. All of you, seriously, put up with all of our, “Hey let’s take just one more shot. I think this will be cool.” It could be competely dark or minus 10 and every single one of you is like, “yeah, sure let’s do it!” We love you guys!”

Anyway here are some photos from Kaitlyn and Jim’s engagement session. Enjoy!

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Anyone who has read this blog before knows we love the Colonnade! It’s a truly unique space and in a lot of ways a photographer’s dream. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies and places to find great photos. Now we have shot there plenty of times but for various reasons have not been able to take advantage of a giant mirror that sits in a downstairs hallway. Every time I walk past it I kind of drool, thinking there are some great photos that could use that mirror!

Well, we finally had our shot at Jenn and Joe’s wedding. Bob and I mentioned before we like to get one final photo at the end of the night for our couples. Well, it was mirror time. I think we probably saw it as a black and white image as we were imagining it so that’s how we have it here. I just love the mood of the images, the reflection and the light. This was the photo I was thinking about every time i walked past it. For the record, we used just one handheld light off to the side.

These end of the night photos- which I love – just don’t happen, though. So I wanted to say a special thank you to the stars of the show, Jenn and Joe. They  are just a dream to work with and always listen to our sometimes crazy ideas. They are up for anything and that’s such a an amazing attitude. Thankfully, their story with us doesn’t end at the wedding. We are so excited to be taking Jenn in her bridal dress out this weekend for another shoot. We can’t wait to share more photos!

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As we toil away and edit our weddings (OK, it’s not actually toiling – It’s a friggin’ ton of fun) I find myself stopping longer on some photos more than others. Well, I’ve been working on Amanda and Brian’s images and came across their first dance. Now first dances are special anyway. Bride and groom with the dance floor all to themselves, dancing to a song they picked together for the first time as a married couple. What’s not to love? At the Scranton Cultural Center it also usually means your initials in lights behind you. It’s splashy and beautiful and a really nice touch.

So I just thought Amanda and Brian’s shots captured a really nice moment for two great people and wanted to share them. There are a ton more photos to go through and I’m loving every minute of it! I can’t wait to see what else turns up.

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I honestly have no idea where to start with this one.

I guess I’ll just go to the beginning, sort of. I’ve been flipping through some images of Cassie and Matt’s wedding this past weekend, looking for things to write about for the blog. OVERLOAD. There are so many stories to tell, laughs to share and a few tears of joys. I swear I will try to get to all of them as best I can. For now, there is one thing that’s important to remember. I see a lot of people in love. It’s really a great job when I think about it in those terms. I see people in love every weekend. I meet families and hear stories that fill your heart.

Cassie and Matt are very, very special people who Bob and I consider ourselves very fortunate to know. Yes, they are in love. They care for each other. They have each other’s backs. Cassie has been through some rough times in the past couple of years. I’m not going to detail them here but it takes a special woman and a special man to persevere through those problems to get to this moment when she walked down the aisle to marry her guy. It was impossible to watch and not be moved.

So we wanted to put a couple photos up of them together. Through the tough times – together on their wedding day enjoying every single moment of a day that at some point probably seemed awfully far away.

Our most sincere congratulations to Cassie and Matt.

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  • October 16, 2014 - 1:34 pm

    joyce davies - Amazing job done by TWO STICKS. They TRULY love their job and it shows when they are working with the birde and groom and the whole wedding party. So pleasant, so professional, so caring, so artistic, and soooooo much fun. If you are looking for a photographer, you will not find anyone better than BOB and CHAD. Bob and Chad thank you so much for all you did to make Cassie and Matt’s Day so special. You are the best.ReplyCancel

There is just something about being able to shoot at the Colonnade in downtown Scranton. It’s such an unbelievable place with great character. And when you get to photograph upstairs in the perfectly appointed rooms, it really gets cool.

So I was looking forward to spending time with Jenn on Saturday as she got ready for her wedding to Joe. When I walked into the room, Jenn was hanging out with a couple of friends. Now the first order of business is usually to find a nice place to hang the dress for some photos. When I got there it was already hanging in front of a window. Absolutely perfect. I wasn’t even going to touch it. All I had to do was hang out and shoot.

Now our friends Josh and Paul, owners of the Colonnade, like mirrors – maybe more than I do – but there are always a few mirrors hanging around the building. They are a photographer’s best friend sometimes because if you use the angles right, they can help produce some images that have a lot of depth. The light coming into the rooms is usually great, too. You can see why this kind of stuff gets exciting to us.  I just spent a couple hours just hanging out with Jenn, telling stories, listening and taking photos. It was great. I love the stuff that I was able to get. Even better than that, it was relaxed time getting to talk to Jenn and her friends. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

So what did Bob do with his time? He spent time hanging out with Joe – a good photographer in his own right – getting some really natural and cool portraits with some window light. I absolutely love how they came out. They’re a really good example of the kind of intimate and relaxed portraits we love having the time to do on a wedding day.

So enjoy the photos. And thanks to Jenn and Joe for trusting us to capture their day.

I love that sentiment that every day is an adventure. Something about it just strikes me, but like most people it can be hard to live up to it when we get caught in routine and the stuff we have to do every day. But every day is an adventure with possibility and challenges and a chance to do something you’ve never done before. The whole idea marries well with photography, especially wedding photography.  Bob and I often work pretty hard with brides and grooms on their timelines for the day because we’ve been to lots of weddings and can help. It also let’s us know what kind of time we will have to do photos. Are we gonna have a lot of time for an elaborate setup or do we need to work more quickly to get our shots? Usually the answer is work quickly. Hey, there is a lot the bride and groom wanna do on their wedding day and they should do it all and love every second of it. So it’s our job to work fast and get great shots. No time is not an excuse on a wedding day! But it can be an adventure.

So this past weekend, we joined our friends Amanda and Brian at the Cultural Center for their reception. We had just gotten back from Mellow Park and some photos with the whole bridal party there and the cocktail hour was getting going. Amanda wanted to make sure we could still do some portraits at the Cultural Center. Who could blame her? It’s an amazing place to get photos done. We love it there! So while they had a quick drink, we started getting a plan together. We decided on the stage. Here’s where it gets fun.

We wanted it to have that stage look with spotlights and all the cool things that go along with being on stage and having your moment. This was gonna require more lights. So we started dropping flashes around the building like hand grenades to get the right effect. We then threw our friend Steve Serge, who was tagging along to help out, on the stage to serve as a quick model to test the light. Perfect!

The total time from idea to “go back to cocktail and enjoy your friends” is 14 minutes. The total shoot time for Amanda and Brian was 8 minutes. The first six were used to get the lights positioned properly and make sure everything was ready. We’re pretty happy with how the photos turned out. It was an adventure. We really hope you like the photos!

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Normally we like to throw a bunch of photos in our blog posts, but today I’m just going to do one because it’s pretty different from the other shots we produced that day. We were lucky enough to do Kyle’s senior photos. Kyle is on the Dunmore football team. He is the third Dunmore player we have been able to shoot this year, and they’ve all been great guys. They would have to be for some of the thing we ask them to do.;)In Kyle’s case, his photos were almost done when I handed him a Solo cup full of mud.

God bless him, he didn’t say anything when I said “would you mind go smearing this all over your face? I want you to look like it’s right after a night game played in mud.”

“Sure. No problem.”

I love this kid! (We also checked with Mom. She was all for it!)

Honestly, Bob and I only had an idea what we wanted but no real clue if it was going to work. This was going to be a little trial and error, but we figured we already had some nice shots of him. No harm in a little experimentation. Step one was get mud all over your face. Step two, was make it look like it was raining. Well we don’t have a rain machine in the studio. Don’t get me wrong, I really want one, but so far no dice! Step three make Kyle look tough and get the lighting on this right. To get the rain, Bob had to use a spray bottle and hide behind Kyle. For Kyle’s part he had to hold his pose really steady while the two of us tried to figure this out and get the timing right. You’d be surprised how hard it is to get the studio lights to capture the water from a spray bottle. Occasionally, we had to do some mud touch up. But finally, we had a workable image.

We really wanted it to have that Sports Illustrated portrait look so there was a step four. I took the photo and increased the clarity and contrast and adjusted the blacks a little to get the effect. We’re pretty happy with how the photo turned out. Here it is in color and black and White. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One of the thing a lot of photographers struggle with is portraits. You might be thinking, “how is that possible, you’re a photographer, shouldn’t that be your bread and butter?” Well it should. But with the number of semi-pros and photo enthusiasts out there it’s not really all that surprising that portraits have taken a back seat to photojournalism. And that’s fine, but portraits are still important and they don’t need to be daunting. I’ve watched too many photogs try to control every little part of the photo, down to the tiniest detail. While that’s admirable, on a wedding day it’s going to slow you down.

So our advice  - and it’s advice we remind ourselves to follow – is to keep it simple. It’s so easy to complicate photography, especially as you grow more confident and collect more equipment. You can start thinking well I know this technique and I have this new toy. It can get you away from what you enjoy doing and that’s taking photos that look natural and capture the person you are shooting in a genuine way. So there are two set of photos in this series, one of Michael and one of Lauren.

I did Michael’s photos. We weren’t rushed for time really, but where we were doing his photos was kind of dark and the backgrounds weren’t something that I loved. But there was a window. A window can give you options every single time. So in this case, I simply put Michael in front of the window and we chatted about the day while I grabbed some shots. Simple as that. As far as the technique, I shot on manual and underexposed by at least a stop. That let me concentrate on the light falling on his face and let everything else in the room fall away.  It’s one of my favorite ways to shoot because you can really isolate the person you are shooting and get rid of any clutter. In the end, they have a really classic look. I made them black and white to add to that feeling.

Bob shot Lauren’s images. These were done while she was still getting ready in the bedroom. Yes, that’s not all that uncommon, especially if you are looking to save a little time. Think about it. She’s already there, the light is usually decent. From there, it’s minor adjustments. So Bob snapped away as she was finishing up. He made minor adjustments to put her in nice positions for photos. Just like that a series of portraits are done that are very relaxed, beautiful and didn’t take a ton of time.
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This could be a long post. There’s so much ground to cover and it’s only about first dances. Wait, how can it be a long post if it’s just about first dances?

Well let’s start with our stars, Mandy and Brian.  Do you ever watch couples dance, I mean the couples that just come together and fit together like they were made for each other. It’s really remarkable to watch. They move together and just wrap themselves in each other on the dance floor like they were born that way. Well, meet Mandy and Brian. They are that couple – and two of the nicest people you could ever hope to spend time with. So when their music started, they locked eyes, it was game over. All Bob and I had to do was push the button on the camera and voila. Check out the photos and you’ll see what I mean.

But the story doesn’t stop there.  Maybe my favorite part of any wedding is the parent dances, especially dads and their little girls. As a dad with a little girl, they will choke me up every time. So when DJ Thomas Nat pushed the button to start the song “Butterfly Kisses” and I heard Mandy’s pre-recorded voice over the speakers telling her dad that he will always be the most important man in her life, all bets were off. The emotion almost blew the roof off the place. And then they danced, her dad, Joe – a remarkable man who I had the pleasure of talking to for awhile earlier in the day – holding his daughter tight for one more dance. Are you kidding me?! Their families are just so close and so loving. You could see it in Brian and his mom’s face when they danced. You saw it with Mandy and her dad, and, of course, you saw it with Brian and Mandy.  I don’t see first dances like that  very often in my years of doing this but I hope I do again.