Last summer, I was attending a small gathering and I saw this AWESOME piece of wall art, that featured some simple words, in one of the most beautiful fonts I had ever seen. I was incredibly drawn to the piece and asked the owner where he got it. "Oh that? It's just my handwriting, I just made that one afternoon." I was totally in awe of this hidden talent that my friend, and talented designer, Mitch Kelly, had. A few weeks later, I just couldn't get that piece out of my head and I also felt like his handwriting was just too gorgeous to keep to himself. I know I wanted him to make a special piece of art for me, and I also thought, "If I am so in love with this, why not share it with the world?" So, I called up Mitch, and we decided to collaborate on a special little side-project together. The idea is simple and it's just something we have been working on, little by little, on the side. We are both incredibly busy people, but this has turned into a little passion project that we are now ready to share with you all! Our designs can be seen, and purchased on my Society 6 page! Thru this website, you can purchase these lovely scripts for your iphone case, wall art, stationary - and even clothing or a cool tote bag! To make this even better, Society 6 is also offering free shipping, worldwide, from now until this Sunday!
On Friday morning, when I woke up, I had no idea who Hannah and Matt were, nor that I would be taking their wedding photos that day. These spontaneous moments are what I live for and I am SO happy that I was available at the last minute! Hannah and Matt have an incredible story. This past September, they both found their way to Chino Latino on night. Little did they know that their lives would change that night. It was literally love-at-first-sight and just a few short months later, Matt proposed! The couple chose to stick to their 'non-traditional' ways and planned a mini-elopement this past Friday. I asked each of them what they loved so much about the other and Hannah had the perfect, simple answer, " I love the way he loves me." It was SO refreshing to photograph this couple and their non-traditional love. The thing is whether you plan out every last detail for years or whether you wing it, a wedding is a wedding and love is love. That message is the same, no matter how you go about it! We spent an hour together, right before Hannah and Matt went to the courthouse, along with their immediate families, to officially become husband and wife. I couldn't be happier to have been a part of their magical day. It was simple, genuine, authentic and embraced absolutely all the love a wedding day is made of!
Congratulations to Hannah and Matt! I wish you nothing but a life filled with happiness!
Molly and Patrick's story is out of a romantic-holiday-chick-flick. You know, the perfect love story that also involves holiday cheer, mistletoe, your family and a glass of bubbly? That pretty much describes these two! Molly and Patrick first met thru mutual friends and then 6 months later, while on Christmas break, they ran into one another again and there was an instant connection. Four years later, Molly woke up one morning to their dog, Kirby, with a note tied around his collar. There was a trail of flowers, followed by notes, leading downstairs to Patrick. Together, as their little family, Molly said Yes and for their engagement session, we felt there was no better place to begin this day, rather than their home. Molly and Patrick have an amazing home! It's bright, open and incredibly charming and welcoming. I'm also a sucker for books, so to see that Molly had Vogue Brides and Design Sponge on her coffee table, made me incredibly happy! We really do have the best clients! After a fresh snow, winter is a magical time here in Minnesota and it was absolutely the perfect time of year for Molly and Patrick's story.
Congratulations to Molly and Patrick on your engagement! We're so excited to continue the winter tradition with your wedding this year!
Hello friends! If you have been following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you might have been noticed that I have been audited! It's been going on for months now, and we just wrapped it up this last week. I've learned a lot during this process and thought I would impart some advice and tips to all of you other photographers in Minnesota who this could potentially happen to someday! Now, for those of you out of state, some of this advice could apply to you as well, but make sure that you look into the specific guidelines for where you live. So, the first thing that comes out of people's mouth's when I say I'm going through a tax audit is first a 'gasp!', followed by the question, "Why are YOU getting audited? How did that happen?" The answer is, there is no real reason. For me, it was kind of like being called up for Jury Duty. I hadn't done anything wrong, ever, and I was simply just chosen by the state to have a Sales and Use Tax Audit. Photographers, if you are ever audited, it is probably going to be for Sales and Use Tax. My audit went back from January of 2009 to June of 2012. That's a giant chunk of time and I have never been so happy to have ALWAYS, like from the beginning of time, been incredibly organized when it came to receipts and paying in my sales tax on time. During the audit, the government takes 'samples' from random months within this time period and you have to look up receipts and prove the payment of sales and use tax. Because I have always been so organized, this was the easy part. Many times people see audits as a very scary thing and it's mostly due to the disorganization far before the audit. Here are some words of advice to either put into practice and/or keep in mind, should your photography business every get called up for an audit:
1 // Know When you File:
Over the course of our business growing, we have gone from filing our sales tax from yearly, to quarterly to now monthly. I. LOVE. FILING. MONTHLY. For us, paying in each month simply works best with the cash flow of our business. Every month, we have our bookkeeper to come in and reconcile. At that time, we also pay in any sales tax that was due. On the slower months, we owe less and when we're busy, the proper amount of money is in the bank to pay. I'm not saying this is the perfect way, but it has really worked for us and makes paying in taxes as stress-free as it's ever been. No matter how you pay in your Sales and Use Tax, make sure you know when things are due - those penalties on filing late are quite steep! Check your states Department of Revenue for their filing and payment schedules.
2 // Have Patience, Communicate Clearly and Assemble your Dream Team:
From the get-go of my business, it was important for me to have the best CPA/EA that I could find. I go to Fox Tax, which is a tax firm that is geared specifically towards working artists! As time went on, I realized that I couldn't handle QuickBooks all myself, so I hired my (amazing) bookkeeper thru Fox Tax. Hiring my bookkeeper was honestly life-changing and worth every penny. When it came to being audited, my auditors didn't really understand my photography business. It took a lot of patience to explain what certain things were and determine with them whether or not a certain program, piece of equipment, print sale, or wedding booking was taxable or not. The reality is, these auditors might be working with a construction company, a photography business, and a mechanic all at the same time. You want to make sure that they understand your business, so you don't get charged for something unnecessary. Your CPA/EA and bookkeeper will also be a giant help in explaining your filings and financial reports as well.
3 // Double Check the Work:
It is VERY important to look over the documents that the auditors present you with. Remember that part about not knowing your business, specifically? We caught a giant amount of areas where our auditors accidentally doubled-up on things, which was ultimately asking us to pay in more money than necessary. Double checking could save you lots of money!
4 // Know Your Exemptions:
For us photographers, if we are every selling prints or products for re-sale, we should not be paying sales tax to our labs. During our audit, I realized that our album vendor was not charging us sales tax, but our print lab was. This is because I hadn't filed a Tax Exemption form with my lab. This will save us TONS of money. Basically, since our clients are purchasing prints, they are paying us tax, which we will pay in for Sales Tax. However, when we go to fulfill that order with the lab, since the prints are being made for re-sale, make sure you aren't paying that tax twice! You can download the MN Tax Exemption form HERE!
5 // Pay in Use Tax:
What the hell is Use Tax? This is also referred to as the 'hidden' tax, and for a reason, because no one really teaches you to file it. However, if you get audited for Sales and Use tax and have never paid it, this is more than likely what you will end up paying in. Use Tax applies mostly to those purchases made on the internet. For example, lets say you purchased your new camera online. You're probably not charged sales tax when purchasing it online. Use Tax is paying in the tax that would-have-been-charged, had you purchased your camera at the local camera shop. Technically, we should all be keeping track of our online purchases and paying in Use Tax at the same time we pay in Sales Tax. The Use Tax should be the same percentage that you pay in for Sales Tax. Here's the catchy part... you might be able to get that tax back...
6 // File a Capital Equipment Refund:
Photographers may claim a refund of Sales and Use Tax on equipment purchased to make the photograph. That means that whether you purchased your camera at the local shop (and paid sales tax there) or ordered the camera online (and paid in your Use Tax), you can fill out a form to get ALL of that tax money back! WOO HOO! The kicker is that it takes a little time to fill out the form, but can ultimately refund you a hell-of-a-lot of money. The other kicker is that your refund will be considered Income and will be taxed, but more money is more money. Some examples of equipment that may qualify are:
- Posing Equipment
- Batteries (YES! ALL OF THOSE BATTERIES!)
- Production Computers and Software
- Lighting Equipment
- Printing Equipment
- Accessories and Attachments
7 // Ask Questions:
It's entirely okay to feel like you have no idea what's going on. However, not matter how stupid you feel, it's important to ask questions so you can understand - even if this means asking them over and over until it clicks. This is your business and it's important to understand the process! Overall, being audited isn't a scary thing, but it is time consuming, so if anything, prepare yourself for that! Cheers to owning a small business and living the dream!
8 // Above All, Stay Organized:
It's taken years, but we finally have a really awesome system. I hang onto ALL of my business receipts,and have a special 'inbox' where I put everything for the month. Before our bookkeeper comes in, I set aside about 10 minutes to organize all of those receipts in my 'in box' and other important documentation into a binder, which is categorized by month. It's pretty easy and we know exactly where to find everything, so reconciling and filing is easy breezy!
Here are some documents, from the State of Minnesota, that I highly recommend reading. It's not the most exciting thing you'll ever read, but it does state the rules and might help better answer some further questions you have about Sales and Use Tax:
The very first time I saw Valerie and her band, Starlight Orchestras perform, I was blown away. I mean, they sang Beyonce better than Beyonce. They had every single person in that room up on the dance floor, busting a move the entire night. This group is FAR bigger and better than any wedding band you can possibly imagine. They are full of incredible musicians, artists and performers that come together to completely entertain you. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Valerie Romanoff, who is the founder and leader of her band, Starlight Orchestras. Valerie is an amazing musician herself, and even more motivated business women. I love her pure passion for what she does and the way she can literally lead her crew into a performance that guests will remember for a lifetime. We caught up with Valerie and wanted to learn a little more about her vision for Starlight – and how she became to be such a bad ass!
Q. Starlight Orchestra is such a unique and incredible thing. And with that, you really form together based on what is best for the event that you are at. Can you explain a little bit further on how exactly you work?
A. Years ago when I first started, I developed a roster of talent and a repertoire of material that would give me a wide range of exciting and useful tools to please a variety of audiences. As time went on, not only did more music come out, but entirely new genres of music were born. We were challenged to continue to expand our musical styles; both in sound and presentation. Starlight excels in producing a high level of live performance that is custom crafted and geared for each specific event. It takes a team of great minds to produce and a group of uniquely talented performers to execute the concept that is Starlight.
More specifically, we start with the question, “how good can it be.” Then we create the tools needed to put forth this vision. We source and train musicians, singers and dancers; we design wardrobe; we create popular yet unexpected musical arrangement of songs; we study psychology, learn about energy, and hone our intuitive skills so we can tap into the hearts and minds of the guests. We use all of these tools to create a platform for celebration, and we gear each performance to each specific event. An enormous amount of work goes into planning for each party, and we delight in how much joy it brings people.
Q. You guys cover such an array of music, from jazz to the Beatles. Do you find that one is more popular than another?
A. Each client has a different vision for their event. We like to get to know everyone so we can best represent their personal style and merge it into our playlist. This means that the ratio of songs in different genres is completely different for each event. We actually specialize in being able to cross genres yet seamlessly weave them together into one cohesive performance.
It is interesting to note that although much of the music we play is for dancing, there is another aspect of “underscoring” meaningful moments, and using music to create different moods throughout the different rooms and segments of each event.
Q. Your clientele is broad, and you’ve worked with some seriously big names. Would you say a perk of what you do is meeting people from all over the world?
A. Absolutely! It has been a thrill to be chosen to entertain some of our biggest musical heroes. Playing for Jimmy Buffet’s birthday party was one of those amazing nights where we shared the stage with Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, James Taylor, among others. There have been so many highlights over the years. I must say though, some of my happiest moments have been performing with the incredibly talented people that make up the Starlight family!
Q. You are based out of New York, but traveling is also part of the gig. Any places that you can recount that were a favorite?
A. Minneapolis of course, because there are the nicest people!! (and because you can get anything on a stick!) Ha-ha! (that wasn’t for the article.) We are so honored when clients go to such great lengths to fly us all over the country and all over the world. We love traveling because it bonds us together in the spirit of adventure, and also because it widens the reach of our sharing and spreading love.
You can also check out Starlight Orchestras on Facebook.
Emily and Matt are one of the boldest couples, style wise, that we have photographed. Emily is currently studying fashion design and it is very clear that her sense of style and vision for fashion are unlike any other! As a bride, Emily most definitely wanted every detail of her wedding to not only look perfect, but also give her guests a total experience. She wanted everyone to be whisked away to a new space and leave her wedding feeling charmed. One thing I love, in particular, about the Trevor's wedding was their attire. Matt chose a very slim cut navy suit and Emily chose a simple dress, accompanied by a big, bold necklace and red lip to add in her style. After the ceremony, Emily put on a custom, sheer coat that was soooooo stunning in person, it was absolutely gorgeous! I love it when brides not only take risks on their style for their wedding day, but also understand the balance between making a statement and keeping a timeless look to their attire. Personally, I think Emily and Matt achieved this perfectly, so we interviewed the Trevor's to see what their thought process was like when planning their wedding! Q. You have incredible style. Hands down. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration for your wedding?
A. When I first got engaged I looked at a ton of blogs, one of my favorites was oncewed.com. I loved the idea of my wedding being so much more of mine and Matt's personal style than a typical traditional wedding. I searched Etsy all the time as well for cute little things I liked, or got ideas from. Once I got one idea stuck in my head it sort of blew up into a bigger idea. The doily chandeliers for example - I found a cute DIY how-to in Martha Stewart magazine, took that, made them five feet long, super wide and made three of them. 2500 paper doilies...ha ha ha, my parents (both retired, sweet deal for me) were folding doilies for weeks. As a clothing design student, I am pretty anal about design details and went a bit crazy with my ideas...I honestly didn't think I'd be that bride. I learned to trust my instincts. I was driving to yoga about a year ago and saw a free desk on the side of the street. Matt and his best friend, Chris, picked it up for me. I painted the whole piece white and put my place settings on it.
Q. What were the first steps you took in designing your big day?
A. Booking YOU! Seriously. I then found my wedding dress. I believe we bought Matt's suit next. I knew I wanted an outdoor wedding, but for me, those two items, our clothing, were number one. I wanted them to make sense together. I couldn't completely visualize my day or start designing the details until I knew the general feeling I got from our clothes.
Q. How did you choose your vendors?
A. You were EASY. I grew up with you and you have been my rock in some pretty heartbreaking times for me. Not to mention, you are the most KICK ASS photographer in the Twin Cities, maybe the world? Do I dare? But seriously, you were always my number one vendor priority. If I remember accurately I planned my wedding date around your schedule. My best friends cousin, Alex Lehr owns Thistle Floral Design. We have been friends for a few years and I am in love with her floral aesthetic. We had very similar ideas for my flowers during the whole planning process. She is incredibly creative and is able to get her hands on some amazing flowers. When she said she could get me my King Proteas, I peed a little. (Is that legal to say?) Honestly, I chose Common Roots because they were delicious. We looked at a few caterers and they were all pretty scary. Bonnie from Common Roots was the biggest blessing to work with. I felt so taken care of and she got my humor, which was a delight. Lime Canary Vintage Rental was my vendor for those sweet vintage chairs. I really wanted to mix a vintage and modern aesthetic throughout the whole day as that is pretty true to my personal style. With the vintage chairs during the ceremony I wanted to keep the decor for the ceremony clean, hence, just the chairs and the chandelier. I have never been happier with a decision. Those vintage chairs made my heart swoon. And honestly, they are around the same price as fancy white chairs. I found that vendor through a Facebook page and got really excited. The only other things I rented were the tables, white chairs and some of the dessert table plates. All the decorations were either handmade or bought from IKEA.
Q. Matt's suit was ordered online from ASOS. How did you two choose his attire?
A. RUSSEL BRAND. We were watching the Oscars in 2011 and he showed up wearing this ridiculous outfit- all navy and black and so delicious. We both were like "whoa, that's it." I went on the hunt for it, a navy skinny suit with black details. I die for navy and black together. Since I had already been obsessed with ASOS, I dove into their site every day and finally found the perfect suit. Luckily, it fit Matt perfectly. His tie was eight dollars or something too from ASOS. Ridiculous. The night of our wedding, we were giggling in our room and discussing the day. We decided his outfit was one of the best purchases for the big day. Matt has never looked so good. He has made a new mission to add 16 pieces of clothing to his wardrobe- one piece, every week for sixteen weeks. His suit inspired him. I'm cool with that :)
Q.All of your bridesmaids dresses were custom made. Why did you choose this? How was that process?
A. First off, I knew I really wanted the dresses to be able to be WORN again. So custom made or something super casual and modern was always a hope of mine.
I use to work at a local St. Paul boutique called Picky Girl. One of the local lines we sold was Calpurnia Peach. Luci Kandler and her friend owned the line. Luci has since began her own line. What I love about her clothes are her prints and really simple silhouettes. I knew I wanted Luci to make my dresses from the first time I saw her garments at Picky. I love mixing different prints and I knew I wanted my bridesmaids dresses to have a print as I was already utilizing numerous prints at my wedding. Working with Luci was amazing. Her talent for screen printing makes me jealous and she totally mixed the modern and vintage styles that I love not only within the silhouettes but within the print itself. The process of working with her was super easy. We met, I showed her stuff I had already planned for my wedding, she fed off my ideas and designed dresses I loved. We emailed frequently and I went to her studio to check out print ideas and mock dresses. Her pricing was incredibly reasonable for all the work she put into my girls dresses. Custom made was really sweet as my lady friends met with Luci a couple times for fittings as well as decisions about their own dresses- pockets, length of belt... My favorite was the halter one with the slight cowl. :) I want it.
Q. What was your philosophy in investing in the details of your day (money wise)? What were the priorities for you?
A. Heh heh...to be honest. I did that all wrong. I planned my wedding much like I have lived my life thus far. Just sort of buying things as I go and hoping I have the money for everything I need. Matt just graduated from the U of M and I am in school at St. Kate's...so being students and trying to save up for a wedding was pretty frightening. I am happy that that part of the wedding is over. My priorities: photography, clothes, location and food. I am pretty grateful for some great in-laws and my parents to help us with some of the financial aspects of the wedding. Matt and I had an envelope in his underwear drawer (yeah, we're old school) that we would cram cash in- watch it accumulate and try not to stress out. One thing that we did do, was spend throughout the process. That was helpful, we were engaged for almost two years, so I really started buying stuff right away and tried to spread it out. That way, I didn't need to have a ridiculous amount of money at a certain point- it made it feel a little less intense. (and by a little, I mean a little)
Q. Why did you choose the Round Barn?
A. We really wanted an outdoor wedding. I searched the internet for a couple weeks nonstop browsing all the local outdoor locations. For some reason I didn't come across the Round Barn for a couple weeks- it was really hard to find online if you didn't know the place existed, which I didn't. When I saw the website I freaked out. It was exactly what we wanted. When we visited the location we knew it was the spot. The yard was gorgeous and I saw a very large tree that I ached to be wed under. Not to mention- you rent out the entire b & b for the whole weekend and get a three course breakfast both mornings you are there. Seriously. It was also WAY less expensive than any other outdoor location I found that I liked. Red Wing is beautiful. The barn was bad ass. The rooms in the b & b were super cute. We booked it immediately.
Q. When it came to your actual wedding dress, how did you choose 'the one'? You also made the perfect sheer coat to go over your dress. How did that come about?
A. Yes. Okay. So I could have gone two ways with my dress. Super over the top OR simple and clean. When I tried on my dress, I just knew. It felt right. Everyone I was with was freaking out. It just felt like me. With choosing a simpler dress I was able to wear tons of accessories which I love. I don't think I would have worn a huge necklace with a more highly detailed dress and I would never have collaborated with my friend Heather on that sweet jacket (which I get to see in my closet every day and smile at the memory of my wedding.) So, that being said, I went the simple and clean route. However! As it was simple, I really wanted a statement piece to wear during my reception. I searched so many stores and websites for the perfect chiffon jacket and alas, couldn't find anything. So I asked my good friend Heather King to sew me one. We gave each other sketches during work one day and kept adding on and slightly changing details until we felt really good about it. Fabric shopping was a breeze, we both are drawn to similar textiles and colors and I found my pretty hand dyed ribbon at a flower shop :) I 'm obsessed with my jacket. I want to do a photo shoot with it, a body suit and my boots from my wedding. Yum.
Q. Aside from your vendors, who did you collaborate with to bring your ideas to life?
A. I knocked a lot of ideas around with the great minds of my husband, my best friend Mary, my sisters Anne and Liz and my mom. Not only that, but my entire family seriously helped out with the DIY stuff. My mom was my own personal sweatshop. She sewed all the grey and white tablecloths, photobooth back drop and my dessert tablecloths. During my winter break from school me and my MOH Mary spray painted all those books and frames (after I primed them all twice) while my dad watched us, incredibly weirded out that I was doing this for my wedding :) Six months later, that man was busy helping me with crafts. I am so grateful for my family and their willingness to be of service and help me with all the projects. They really helped me bring my wedding to fruition.
Q. What advice do you have for brides who are planning a stylish wedding that incorporates so many DIY details?
A. Be yourself!! Try and spread out all your projects- they are way more time consuming than you think they will be. Don't be afraid to ask for help- people seriously want to help. Make lists- they relieve stress. Try and buy/make things that you can use in your house after the wedding. Bulk wholesale fabric sites are a good thing. Paint primer is your best friend.
Krystle and Aaron currently live in nice, warm and sunny Texas. So, when it came to planning their wedding, they loved the idea of coming back home to the Indiana / Chicago area for a winter wedding! The morning of their wedding began with the perfect, light and fluffy snow falling, which was the perfect start to their day! It was almost like a snow globe as we arrived at the church, where Aaron had waited to see his bride until she walked down the aisle! I absolutely loooooove the church these two got married in! There's something about an old, traditional church - and especially in the winter - that is just so romantic. With poinsettias and twinkle lights setting the scene, they tied the knot in front of their closest family and friends! When it came to the portrait session of their day, we took the wedding party to one of Krystle and Aaron's favorite locations - right along the shoreline of Lake Michigan! I must say, everyone in this wedding party were troopers, because the air was SO frigid and cold, and they were brave enough to see it thru to make the couple's day! For us, this marked the last wedding for the 2012 season and it's been one fantastic year of weddings! We now have a break until late April when things start up again for 2013. The night ended with lots of celebration - cheers to marriage, a new year and new adventures!
Congratulations to Aaron and Krystle on their wedding day! We are SO happy for you and all the adventures ahead!
Hello blog readers! Today, I find myself with some extra down time, which is a complete luxury for me. I had no intentions of writing a new-years-goal post, because I feel like so many others are doing this to the point that I feel it's a bit over done and watered down. In fact, I've been thinking a lot about this social-world we live in these past few months and to be completely honest, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, being able to reach out to you via this blog, twitter, facebook, pinterest, and instagram are absolutely amazing resources and great business tools. On the other hand, I feel like it's become very overwhelming and I'm searching for how to effectively connect with you all in a more genuine, authentic way. I'm not sure what and how that is yet, but I will definitely consider this one of my goals. Every year, I reflect and set my goals for the next year on my birthday, which is at the end of October. This year, my birthday came and I was SO INSANELY BUSY, I couldn't even think. I couldn't really reflect or decide what-the-hell I wanted to do or where I wanted things to go for the next year, since I didn't even have enough time to comprehend what I would be doing the next hour. I am SO grateful and thankful for our thriving businesses, but holy shit. Things got too busy for my own good. Luckily, I was able to take a vacation in Costa Rica for a few weeks in November and that absolutely helped clear my head and hit the re-set button. When the trip started, I knew I wanted to set some goals, but I also didn't want to force them. I needed some clarity on where I wanted to take things, and finding clarity is a bit of a process. After about 4 days on the beach, literally doing nothing but being in the ocean and waves, I started to feel my mojo returning. Forgive me for using the word mojo, but you know what I mean? It's that feeling, that passion and that drive that you get when you are really excited about something - you know - when you HAVE to write down your thoughts and ideas RIGHT that moment? As I'm sitting here today, I looked back on those lists I had made less than two months ago, and I'm happy to report that we are well on our way for reaching and making our dreams happen for 2013. When I think about what has happened in the last few months alone, it's crazy to then think about this last year. In just one year, our crew...
- Launched Rivets and Roses as an official studio
- Hosted an art event called FOUND
- Re-designed the Photogen Inc. Website
- Started our blog features for brides, vendors and photographers alike
- Hosted a few MINNeSHOPS
- Mentored 4 amazing photographers thru LOVEe Consults
- Spoke to 5 college classes filled with some serious talent
- Restructured our business to be more cost effective - doing business smarter is so freeing
- Survived a tax audit
- Documented another season of beautiful weddings for our truly, amazing clients
- Showed the commercial book much more in NYC and to our dream clients.
- Hosted our 3rd ELEVATE Workshop in NYC
- Attended Bridal Fashion Week for the first time
- Collaborated on some seriously cool commercial shoots
- Won a few awards
- Got published on some cool blogs and sweet magazines
- Said good-bye to one of our favorite magazines, METRO, who had to sadly close their doors
- Booked (and still booking) a seriously awesome roster of wedding clients for the 2013 season
- Louisa transitioned onto going on her own and we are SO excited for her!
- Hired Thea, our new photographer for Rivets and Roses
- Went on vacation
WHEW! No wonder I felt so busy, that is an insane list! I definitely think we achieved beyond what I had set out for us to do; however, I also feel like there is a lot missing from this list and a lot of those things are personal things. You know, the seeing friends and family more or going to see more live music. Maybe instead of going on vacation once, I want to take more breaks to experience things. As the years go one, we change, we grow and our wants and needs change. This last year was definitely a year of business for me, and it was so so so good. I want this next year to be a year of life-and-business. Finding more balance is always the trick, but if I have one intention, it is to experience things more. People, food, fun, photos and the world. The business end of things will always be strong. I've worked my ass off to make our businesses incredible and that isn't going to stop. In fact, I am proud that I feel like we're at a point where things are running and doing well. I am so excited to enjoy that this year! I suppose my point to the post is to reflect on all of our accomplishments this past year and to THANK MY AMAZING TEAM for being with me thru all of it, you are all truly the best! My other point to this post is that if you, too, are feeling a little overwhelmed with it all, it's ok to take a moment to redefine, restructure, re-evaluate and renew yourself. Life isn't all business, there's also a lot of living to do!
And back to the idea of getting wrapped up in the 'social' world, I will very much so still be a part of it, but maybe I'll take a little step back. Instead of posting 'happy birthday' on someone's Facebook wall, I think I'm going to try and pick up the phone or have dinner with them.
Cheers to 2013 and the year ahead...I know it's going to be even better than the last!
When it comes to throwing a party, it's all about creating an amazing experience for your guests. Last night, we photographed a private holiday party and let me tell you, this client knows how to throw a party! Lindsay Piram Creative did an amazing job with bringing this vision to life! Every little detail was perfectly in place to surprise the guests throughout the evening. It was a cross between a Hawaiian Luau meets an Winter Chalet theme - the best of both worlds! Guests were greeted by fire throwers, Mai tai drinks and an amazing spread of food. As the night went on, the crowd moved to other areas of the home to discover an ice bar and a totally transformed space that was 'Cari's Chic Chalet'! It was a great night of celebration and we had a blast!
Mike and Melissa are a gorgeous couple. The two live in San Diego and totally have that easy-breezy-California-free look about them. However, when it came to their wedding, they chose to come back to Melissa's home state of Minnesota for an intimate winter wedding! They experienced a true winter day here in Minneapolis, complete with chilly temperatures, a little fog and even a little snow; but despite the dreary looking weather, spirits were high and it really was the perfect day! One of my favorite 'themes' of the day was how much family history they incorporated. For starters, there were family heirlooms everywhere. Melissa's bouquet was filled with broaches from past family members, there were old photographs and even old love letters that her grandparents had written to one another back in the day. Old jewels were worn and Melissa even wore a veil that was passed down from two of her best friends. What I love about this the most is that there was a true presence of SO much love, over time, at their wedding. The idea that love is absolutely timeless, as well as very solid, was a message that was heard loud and clear! Melissa and Mike chose some of Minneapolis's top vendors to bring their romantic visions to life! The Bliss Life was on top of the planning and Carra of La Petite Fleur did a jaw-dropping-job with the florals for the day. (That amazing bouquet took 5 hours and 2 people to assemble!) Linen Effects helped beautify the tables, and The Depot was the perfect venue for such a classic themed wedding. Melissa and Mike were absolutely stunning in their attire and they danced the night away to music by Generation Now DJ's. The fellas over at Copper Clover Films also joined us for their day and we can't wait to see the footage!
Congratulations to Melissa and Mike on your absolutely gorgeous wedding day! We are so happy for you two and this new adventure you are embarking on! You are truly perfect for one another!
Gretchen Culver is a women who I've known for years in the wedding industry. A few years ago, she started her own company, Rocket Science Weddings and Events, and business is booming for this lady! One of the things I appreciate most about Gretchen is that she started her own company to really be different and challenge couples to take risks with their weddings. She's bringing out the fun and no idea is too crazy. Of course, Gretchen brings in her great taste and advice to the couples she works with as well, to ensure that their wedding is equally memorable and one great party! We interviewed Gretchen to see what makes Rocket Science Weddings and Events so different and how she just might be your perfect wedding planner.
Q. How did you start Rocket Science Weddings & Events and how long have you been planning /designing weddings?
A. Although I have been planning weddings in some capacity or other for ten years now, I only started my own company in 2009. It came from the desire to work more closely with brides and grooms, plus shake up the wedding industry a bit. I was tired of seeing the same old thing and I thought that I could bring a fresh take to weddings that people would respond to. I started the company out of my house with a shiny new laptop, website and two clients.
Q. What were the first steps a couple should take in designing their big day?
A. Have a glass of wine. Or beer. And then take a look at your surroundings. What is in your home? What do you wear? Are you drawn to certain colors, patterns, styles? Look for inspiration everywhere, not just in "wedding world". My best design ideas come from everyday life.
Of course I think it is helpful to have a professional designer/planner because I think they are a great collaborative resource for couples. They can refine and curate your ideas so that only the best ideas get implemented, but also bring ideas to the table that you may not have thought of that are brilliant. Additionally they will know how to find you the right vendors for your budget to execute your ideas.
Q. How do you help your clients choose your vendors?
A. I look for the right style in their budget and give them limited choices. No one wants to be overwhelmed and that can happen very easily in the wedding planning process. I also feel it is important not to work with the same vendors every time, because not all vendors fit every couple. The personality of the vendor and the client need to mesh.
Q. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration for your weddings?
A. You name it, I use it. The Restoration Hardware catalog is phenomenal. But I can find ideas anywhere, hotel lobbies, the sidewalk, shopping, watching Kung Fu Panda (there is some fabric on a jacket a goat wears that I love!)… art is a major inspiration for me too. Pretty much my client is always in the back of my mind and when I see something that works, I take a photo or tear the page out of the magazine to add to their idea board.
I rely heavily on my Pantone color swatches when creating the perfect palate. Of course I use wedding magazines, books, blogs and online resources like theknot.com
Q. Describe the difference between a wedding planner and designer? Where do you fall in this?
A. To over simplify, a designer makes things pretty, a planner makes things happen. I think I am an unusual balance of creative and logical, right and left brain. I love the creative aspect of colors, design, new ideas... but equally love making timelines and spreadsheets. I could never be a "designer only" or a "planner only", because I like to be in on the whole picture. By doing both I am giving my clients a better end product.
Although I really love the design aspect, I do sometimes collaborate with other designers, which is fun and takes some work off my plate. The result is a cool fusion of Rocket Science, the designer and the couple.
Q. What was your philosophy in investing in the details of your day (money wise)? What were the priorities for your clients?
A. I say pick three things that are important, invest your money there, and the rest doesn't matter. I heard a really good piece of advice a long time ago, I can't remember where I heard it even, but they said, "Go to a wedding as a guest and try to soak it all in. Then two weeks later sit down and write out what you remember from the wedding. Those elements should be important to you in your planning process." It is amazing what people don't remember, even two weeks later!
If I had my wish, people would ALWAYS prioritize photography AND videography. I hear all the time, "Oh I wish I had hired a professional videographer."
I am a big foodie so I think that good food and beverage are important, and of course the entertainment. Nothing kills a wedding like a bad DJ or band.
Q. Describe the perfect 'Rocket Science' Couple.
A. I had one client fill out on their evaluation (I make all clients fill this out prior to reserving my services) and in the "other comments" section they wrote: We are awesome!
That pretty much sums up my ideal client.
I enjoy working with people who are laid back and fun, that really want to do things differently and plan a memorable wedding.
Q. When it comes to choosing a venue, what are the most important things to keep in mind?
A. Choosing a venue is SO hard. There are so many things to think about. First, size. Will it fit your guest count. Many venues list their total maximum occupancy, not is what is actually comfortable for seating. If you don't want tables on the dance floor or your guests to be bumping elbows, you need to ask what the venue can realistically seat.
Second, does the venue fit within your budget and find out what the actual total cost is to have your event there. There are a growing number of venues that don't have on site caterers, so couples think they are inexpensive because there is no food and beverage minimum. Then they realize they are spending the venue's rental fee PLUS a huge amount on food and then they have to cut and sacrifice other elements of their wedding.
NOTE: you CANNOT venue shop without an accurate guest list and budget. Selecting the wrong venue for your size and/or budget is the most common mistake I see couples make.
Q. What do you, as a planner, want in collaboration with your vendors on a wedding day?
A. I want everyone to have fun. When all of the vendors work well together, the client feels it and can enjoy the day more. I think that lends to more successful end results for the vendors and clients, i.e. better photos, staying on time, etc. Also, I want everyone to be respectful of the others working the wedding. When everyone understands that their job will be easier and the client will be happier if they work together, the event is the better for it.
Q. What advice do you have for brides who are planning a stylish wedding that incorporates so many details?
- Hire a planner, obviously. But in all seriousness, sometimes it is better and more cost effective to hire a professional.
- Personalize and forget what everyone else does. If you like it, do it. Tradition doesn't matter anymore.
- If you have a lot of DIY projects, plan accordingly and don't procrastinate. And assign people small, manageable tasks to help execute your DIY ideas (or see #1). You can't rely on people to problem solve or take on a lot, even if they volunteer to help. Make sure someone is in charge of tearing everything down and it isn't you!
Q. What are some innovative trends in weddings right now?
A. This is always the toughest question! Are there any new ideas? I would really like to see place mats catch on. I also love pattern, I think pattern is the new monogram. I am hoping to bring in houndstooth to a fall wedding I am doing.
Q. Hiring a wedding planner and designer in Minnesota is a bit of a new concept. Why is this important?
A. When you hire a wedding planner, you are hiring an expert. You haven't planned a wedding before, they have. Their experience is invaluable. A good planner will save you time, money, and stress while taking your ideas and making them better than you ever imagined. The end result is an overall cohesiveness to your wedding visually (like you see on Pinterest or in magazines), but also in how you and your guests experience and "feel" the day. Every detail is thought through and executed like magic.
If you had to get major, once-in-a-lifetime surgery, you would want the best doctor… you wouldn't think of doing it yourself. Same goes for weddings. (This may be an extreme analogy, but I like it.)
You can also check out Rocket Science Weddings and Events on Facebook.
12/12/12 is a day that Tamara and Russell will never forget and either will I! As a wedding photographer, each and every wedding is very different and special in it's own way. This is the second wedding I've had the pleasure of documenting for the Carlyon family and I found it very refreshing for a few reasons. First, Tamara and Russell spent their money on only things that were a priority to them, such as their flowers (who the mother-of-the-bride did a lovely job arranging the bouquets!), food, and photography. Secondly, they kept the entire day very intimate by only inviting their immediate family to the wedding. And lastly, they totally and completely enjoyed themselves. Tamara and Russell's day was simple, thoughtfully put together and a true reflection of what matters most to them.
If you remember a few weeks back, I traveled with Tamara and her friends to San Francisco to document their bachelorette party. I REALLY love this idea and I think it might be an up-and-coming trend for brides. For Tamara, she had the best of both worlds. A bridal party photo session with her favorite women in her life, along with the small and intimate wedding day. Both were planned to a T, but her and Russell also left enough room to totally go-with-the-flow.
On the wedding day, Russell came and picked up his bride at the salon she was getting ready at. A couple of her friends took some time off of work to be with her during the 'getting ready' part of the day and had lots of laughs together! Before the ceremony, we decided to pop over to Tilia for a quick drink, and about 5 minutes before the ceremony was to begin, we decided to mozy on to the location, which was a little gazebo by Lake Harriett, right in the heart of Minneapolis. Their ceremony was short, sweet and full of love! For the reception, the couple rented out the 110 North Loop Loft and all of the food was catered in by Gastrotruck Catering, which, I must say, was to die for! The venue was set with all of the little DIY details that Tamara, Russell and their families had crafted together and it was simply a gorgeous and perfect venue for this intimate winter wedding!
Congratulations to Tamara and Russell on their marriage! Thank you SO SO SO much for inviting me along this entire journey with you to document this time in your life. I've loved every second of it!
Winter is upon us and it's time to cozy up with the one you love. I've been doing quite a few boudoir photography sessions lately and I'm in love with the winter light in the studio! Maybe it's the time of cheer, but I decided to offer a special on boudoir photography session for the month of January! This might be the perfect holiday gift (if you're a late shopper like me) or a great excuse to surprise him or her with a Valentines day gift! Each session comes with 20 images and a 5x5 mini album, along with some other goodies! Boudoir sessions during January will be $300 (a $650 value!). If you are interested in purchasing a winter boudoir session for you or someone you know, click here!
The idea of having a stylist for your wedding is a new idea to the Midwest crowd; however, brides all of the world have been hiring professional consultants to help style their looks and their overall event for their big day. Style-Architects is a company that not only offers brides professional design services for their event, but they also offer the fabulous talent of Faith Brue. Faith is the official stylist for Style-Architects and has stunning taste when it comes to choosing what to dress her clients in - and especially when there is a party involved. With the world of Pinterest, endless amounts of wedding blogs and magazines, brides know exactly the look and feel that they want for their weddings; however, they might be looking for some extra help to pull off the dream-look both flawlessly and effortlessly. We caught up with Faith and asked her some questions on why it's valuable to hire a stylist for your wedding day looks!
Q. No matter what you are doing, you always have incredible style. How did you start as a stylist?
A. They say that you should do as a profession what you do when you procrastinate. With all of my other jobs and even when I was in school, I spent my free time reading magazines, style blogs and going out looking for the newest trends. When I graduated college, I was a wedding planner and I found that my favorite part of the job was styling the bride and groom and their wedding party. People in my life kept telling me that I should turn my passion into a career and just go for it. I finally found my perfect place at Style-Architects as a wardrobe and fashion stylist. I love giving people the confidence and tools they need to look and feel good.
Q. What is your role at Style-Architects?
A. My official title is 'Wardrobe + Fashion Stylist.' Within that, I wear a few different hats. One part of my job is to style photo shoots for magazines and photographers. For instance, I do the Style Transformation section for MN Monthly magazine every month where we do a complete style overhaul for a client. I also do various fashion spreads and look-books for our clients. I also work with individuals that need to revamp their wardrobe; weather that be through a closet detox, personal shopping or a combination of both. I also do bridal styling which has many facets. One thing that many brides need help with is styling their engagement shoots. These photos show who you are as a couple and you will have them for a long time to come. You want to look like yourselves, but the best versions of yourselves. I can help make that happen. I also help brides find their wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses and the men's attire. Sometimes you need a third party, a discerning eye to help you keep your vision in focus.
Q. What were the first steps a bride should take when styling her wedding?
A. One thing that is very important for brides to keep in the back of their mind when styling their wedding is timelessness. You are going to have these pictures for the rest of your life and you don't want to look back and regret following a fleeting trend. Also, remember to dress for your body and accentuate the features that you are most proud of. For instance, if you are sensitive about having a larger bust, don't buy a strapless gown that you will need to be pulling up all night. When it comes to your bridal party, don't feel that you need to follow all of the rules about matching dresses, shoes and jewelry. Your bridesmaids will thank you if they get to show a bit of their personality in their ensemble. It is almost impossible to find one silhouette that will look good on six different body types. When it comes to the groomsmen, they usually need a bit more structure or they will end up looking pretty sloppy. One idea that I have seen lately is to have all of the men wear bow-ties with different patterns on them. Just remember this is your day and you only get to do it once!
Q. Do you have any advice for grooms and how to be stylish?
A. There is no need to take all personality out of your look when you are the groom. This wedding should represent you and your bride and part of that should shine through in what you wear. At the same time, don't go so crazy that you will regret it in a couple of years. Bring out your style in interesting cuff links, an unusual tie or quirky socks. Another thing that a groom can do is keep it buttoned up and classic for the ceremony and then spice it up for the reception with a different jacket or funky shoes for dancing.
Q. There is a current trend to have the bridesmaids choose their own (and different) dresses. What is your opinion on this?
A. I think that this could go over fabulous or be a total bust! Read your bridal party and how they would feel about it. Some may love the idea of being able to pick out their own look while others panic at the thought of having to go shopping and be responsible to find something that the bride will like as well.
Q. What was your philosophy in investing in the details of your day (money wise)? What should the priorities be?
A. There are usually a couple of things that are most important to both you and the groom. Hone in on these things first and see where your budget finds you. For instance, photography and location were most important to my husband and I when setting the budget for our wedding. From there, decide within your own look what is most important to you. For some brides, the shoes or the jewelry are more important than the actual dress. I don't think that the designer of the dress needs to sway you one way or another because there are so many gorgeous gowns that you can get for half the price. The main objective is to find a dress that you feel stunning in and the rest will fall into place.
Q. How does the time of year and venue effect the style of the wedding party's attire?
A. Make sure when you are shopping for your self and your wedding party, that you put yourself in the season that the wedding will be in and what colors and fabrics will be appropriate. I also think that it is important to dress for the venue that your wedding is at. For instance, if you are getting married at a country club, you will want to keep your attire classic and timeless with a simple silhouette and tuxedo's for the men. Bring elements of your surroundings into the overall look of the bridal party to make it feel seamless.
Q. Do you think brides benefit from using a professional stylist for their wedding day? Why?
A. Having a stylist for your wedding takes the pressure off of the bride to make all of the details fall into place. Having the stylist there who's goal it is to make everyone look their best. There are so many weddings where the groom and groomsmen don't know how to wear a suit correctly and end up walking down the aisle looking disheveled. There is also a lot of confusion surrounding the bride's veil and train. Although there are very specific directions given to the mother of the bride or the maid of honor at the final dress fitting, it is hard to remember on the wedding day when there are so many other things going on. I also help to make sure the dress looks its best during your photos, when the photographer can miss little details that are out of place.
You can also check out Style-Architects on Facebook.
For those of you who know me, you know I never miss a thing. Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon, I was struck with a sudden illness that kept me from being at the AMAZING event put on by L'atelier Couture Bridal for Tara LaTour! The good thing is that I was able to photograph some details for the event earlier on in the day - and I have an incredible team of photographers and friends who were able to step in a capture this incredible evening! I have to seriously thank Marc, Louisa and Nate for stepping up to the plate last minute and doing an amazing job! As many of you know, Tara and I have collaborated for a few years now on her collections. We photographed her 2013 collection a couple of months ago and it is absolutely one of my favorite! L'atelier Couture is the premier bridal salon in Minneapolis and when they began carrying Tara's gowns, they found the perfect opportunity for a party! Last night's event was a true celebration of the Minneapolis wedding industry! Munster Rose put together some amazing florals and Gateaux Inc created some amazing deserts - all styled around the inspiration of Tara's collection, which was the children's story "Where the Wild Things Are." Paperista made the stellar invitations, Emily J offered a super-fun Lash Bar and the brand new clutches and perfume (yes! perfume!) were on display in the Nelle Showroom!
Even though I wasn't able to be there, it was great to have some BIG images around the space of our shoot with Tara! We are so lucky to be in a market and an industry that is centered around collaboration and encouraging one another! For those brides out there that are still looking for their perfect gown, definitely make an appointment at L'atelier - I'm convinced they carry nothing but the best!
Lisa Roy is one of our favorite people! The woman has a smile that is just as warm and inviting as her flower arrangements and she is just as awesome of a vendor to work with as the work she creates! Her work is simply gorgeous and each bouquet, centerpiece - you name it - is handcrafted with a lot of love! We think that your flowers add SO much to your wedding and that they are also a big reflection of your personal style. We wanted to catch up with Lisa and learn more about her company, Flora Bella, and we also wanted to pick her brain on what inspires her as an artist!
Q. You have incredible style. Hands down. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration for designing florals for your clients?
A. Thank you! We draw inspiration from so many sources. The top industry blogs, current fashion trends and Pinterest are chock full of goodness but we also draw from modern, timeless and classic design/art from the past. Our natural environments also have plenty to offer. A walk through a busy city can be just as inspiring as a quiet walk in the woods.
Q. What are the first steps a bride could should consider when booking their florist?
A. Experience and expertise are extremely important elements to consider as well as personal compatibility with your florist. An exceptional florist will be able to work within many different styles while still expressing elements of their own design aesthetic. As with any good designer/artist/stylist, over time they will develop a strong, consistent, prolific body of work while maintaining the ability and openness to collaborate with a client. Hire a florist whose work you love and whose personality is compatible with your own. Hire who you trust and in turn, trust who you hire and the entire collaboration will be a smashing success.
Q. How would you describe the style of Flora Bella?
A. We love to create lush, textural and vibrant floral with unusual or unexpected elements. We strive for an artful balance of color, texture and form. We work with modern, clean and classic elements as well as textural organic, natural forms with lots of movement and depth - all while staying true to the honestly of the materials. Our emphasis is on handcrafted floral and personal attention to details.
Q. You tend to go above and beyond as a florist. What is a unique piece you have made for a client?
A. We tend to attract our perfect clients - smart brides and grooms who share our obsession with good design, quality and attention to details. With the help of several Minneapolis talents, we recently dramatically transformed a local cafe into a stunning environment for Joynoelle's latest collection debut and runway show called the Caged Bird. Our installation was complete with vintage furniture vignettes, bird cages bursting with floral and garlands dripping with amaranths, seed pods, roses, hydrangea, moss, unusual orchid varieties and pheasant feathers. We carefully curated collections of flower and feather filled apothecary bottles, urns and cloche covered orchids, succulents and oddities. The result was a warm, candlelit, unforgettable evening.
Q. How does the venue choice and time of year effect the choice of flowers and design?
A. The choice of venue is extremely important. Choosing one that fits your style and the vibe of your day will make it much easier to provide complementary floral elements, resulting in an integrated feel throughout.
Choose a time of year consistent with your favorite blooms. If you're in love with peonies, then plan a May or June wedding. Choosing seasonally available blooms is not only cost effective, but also an environmentally responsible choice.
Q. What was your philosophy in investing in the florals / details of a wedding day (money wise)?
A. Be honest to your season. In-season blooms are not only best in size, color and quality, but also a smart investment. Trust your florist and allow for flexibility in seasonal flower varieties as well as color tones within your desired palette. We know our materials and will always have your vision in mind.
Q. How many weddings to you do each year?
A. All of our floral elements are laboriously handcrafted with love, and that takes time and skill. This number can shift from year to year, but generally we like to take one large wedding per weekend in order to offer the best personal attention to our clients. Sometimes we take several smaller weddings per weekend depending on the details involved.
Q. What are some hot trends for florals right now?
A. Although I've been working with succulents and various unusual botanicals and foliage my entire career, they seem to be a hit again lately. In recent seasons, I've noticed a shift to more eclectic, variety rich decor elements, which we find inspiring. Vibrant, textural, natural bouquets with movement have replaced compact, round bouquets. Organic elements with an abundance of texture, depth and pattern have also been in vogue.
Q. What advice do you have for brides who are planning a stylish wedding that incorporates so many details?
A. An experienced florist will have the ability to see the entire picture and can style your wedding with grace and artistic integrity. Allowing us flexibility and freedom to create beautiful floral and decor will result in a more beautifully unified wedding. Use quality vendors, and trust their expertise. Grant them the freedom to do what they do best.
You can also check out Flora Bella on Facebook.
When Tamara and Russell first booked me for their wedding photography, their plan was to have a destination wedding in the Caribbean. However, as the planning went on, they realized that a big wedding was simply just not them. So, they scrapped their plan and are now having a very intimate winter wedding here in Minnesota! First, I have to say that I absolutely love that this couple switched gears and are really having a wedding that they feels suits them, instead of what 'they think they should do.' It's very refreshing! However, when all is said and done, it was still incredibly important to include some of her favorite ladies in the wedding festivities! What Tamara decided to do is, in my opinion, going to be a big trend amongst brides. She invited me along to her bachelorette party, had her ladies bring their bridesmaid dresses and had a photo shoot in one of the coolest cities in the country - San Francisco! Our shoot was the perfect activity to do on this trip and it was also super fun for the girls to get all dressed up, have a session and a night-on-the-town afterwards! The next day, we continued the party and headed to Sonoma's Wine Country to tour and taste various vineyards along the way! What I love about this is many things. It was purposeful and a great excuse to simply take photos. It was definitely more casual, since it wasn't the actual wedding day and everyone was able to experience an amazing trip together - and have it documented as well! It was also great for Tamara, because she is incredibly close with all of these women. Some of them are sisters, others are friends from high school and college - and she even surprised her mother with a ticket out to join them! Overall, the weekend was an adventure and a true celebration among these women to 'send off' their friend to be married!
Congratulations to Tamara on being such a trendsetter and doing exactly what makes you happy! I am SO excited for your wedding day!
As a photographer, you look at a lot of other people's work. I think we have all gone thru a phase where you simply can't get enough of it all and then you hit that point of overload, where you need to take a break. I feel like it is thru this process that you also find yourself constantly keeping track and looking at just a few artists for inspiration - or maybe to just simply follow their story. These are the people who become your constants and who you resonate with. For me, Ashley and Jeremy, otherwise known as The Parson's,who are a husband-and-wife photography team who have me constantly in awe with their photos. They are genuine and authentic to a level that not many others have matched and they also seem to be constantly challenging themselves as artists to create better and deeper photographs. Another thing I love about these two is that they are based out of the Midwest. There's something very special about our market here in the middle-land and we're so lucky to have them be a part of it! We caught up with the Parson's to see what their philosophy's on art, life and love were...and it's incredibly inspiring!
Q. You describe yourself as 'not your typical wedding photographers'. Why is this?
A. We initially said that on our website a few years ago because we kept seeing a flash of terror or disgust rush across people's faces when we would tell them we were wedding photographers. it seems that the poofy-armed wedding gowns and cheesy poses of the photographers of the 70's and 80's were haunting our identity wherever we went. one of our first brides wanted a checklist of 85 required photographs to be checked off as we photographed the wedding. another really wanted "that jumping picture" or "the one where you make me black and white, but my flowers all in color". and it became clear really quickly that we didn't fit in the categories of what people had grown to expect from a wedding photographer. so we started to shoot from the heart of who we are and name our business just that - we are the parsons. and the parsons just happen to be simple, honest, raw photographers who don't work off of shot lists or "do" poses. we stopped trying to get everyone to book us, and started trying to detract people who were looking for something typical. we didn't want to make checklist photographs, we wanted to make photographs that were true to how we were experiencing the world - and those don't fit on any checklist. So we did them a favor and turned away people who didn't get that, and drew in those who really, really did. since we are us, no one will ever be us. we see the world in the way we do, communicate it in the way we do, and offer it to others in the way we do. it's nothing like the traditional checklist approach that used to be, and still is embraced by some wedding photographers. because we are just us, and we make images from a place that is true to that, our photographs seem a bit atypical. not because they are wildly out of the box creative, but because they are from us, and we are 'not your typical humans'. :)
Q.What made you fall in love with being a wedding photographer?
A. What first really made us fall in love with making wedding photographs was being married to each other. we l o v e marriage! we think this adventure of learning another person and then traveling with them through a lifelong journey of beauty and mess, highs and lows, wins and losses, babies, work, and history is a pretty incredible thing. so when we have the chance to be a part of the start of someone's marriage, we consider it a great joy to make photographs that champion them on through it all. and we love that our photographs are the ones they are going to look at on their wall as they fight for and against each other and grow old.
Q. You have a very unique and freeing vibe to your photos. How did you define your style as an artist?
A. Wow. thank you! the funny thing is, we never defined our style as artists. most days, it still feels strange to call ourselves "artists". we never planned to have this life, never went to school for this, never dreamt we would be who we are today. we literally just picked up little metal machines called cameras and tried to communicate with them how we were experiencing the world. I think because the photographs we make flow naturally and organically out of who we are, they are definitely freeing because we are free. that can also mean that they are a bit raw and rough around the edges, because we are those things as well. ;) but all in all, they are honest because we are honest. so I guess our style as "artists" ;) is just our character as humans, being communicated through some metal and glass.
Q. Being in the Midwest market, it's different than the east of west coast. What is your approach to marketing and finding your perfect client?
A. we don't really have an approach for marketing. and we don't really have "clients". we have people, imperfect, wonderful human beings with really good stories and great taste in wine who we happen to be blessed to spend a day or a weekend with. we are who we are, display that in authenticity, and our couples, or our people, find us. :) we love dwelling in the Midwest. it's a great place to raise our family, and the friends we have here are more beautiful and valuable than any stunning landscape we could ever seek elsewhere. but a good majority of our work is done outside of the Midwest, and we are OK with that. we have a thirst for adventure, and love experiencing new places and people together - we go to where our people are because they are worth it, and being a part of their story is worth it to us.
Q. Describe the perfect 'Parson' client.
A. oh man, there aren't enough words! to describe that would mean telling you hundreds of stories and bringing you into the worlds of our couples. they are all so brilliant, so unique, so open and passionate, so committed to the good things, so inspiring and captivating in different ways. it's almost like asking us to describe our kids - we just couldn't ever do it justice in words. I guess that's why we communicate who they are in photographs. so . . . if you want to see who they are, look at our photos, they're all on the blog! :)
Q. Where do you gather your inspiration?
A. We wake up. that's about all it takes. we wake up in the morning and it's like God is whispering in our ears, sometimes shouting . . . "hey guys, look over there! look at this sky I made for today! look here, at this person - isn't she remarkable!? watch these two and see how I created them to interact . . . isn't it the most beautiful dance you've ever witnessed? walk here, speak here, breathe in deeply now and move slowly. . ."
and I realize that may sound like the cheesiest load of shit anybody ever said, but it's honestly our experience. he is making us see everywhere we go. we are caught up in the wonder and delight of it all, what he's doing and who he's made.
Q. What do you see is a current trend when it comes to wedding photography?
A. While we recognize that there are trends, we tend not to follow them or know what they are. a few years ago when we started, we really tried to keep a pulse on wedding trends, and adopted the mentality of shooting what was "cool" or what would make us more popular in the industry. The longer we spend as a married couple, the more we realize how outdated and meaningless many of those trends will be in 50 years, because the photographs we make aren't commercial, they're personal. so, in 2009 we went on a self-inflicted "blog fast" and stopped looking at wedding and wedding photography blogs. we didn't look at a single one for 6 months, and have never returned to wrapping ourselves up in it. we only look at about 1 blog post a month - if that - and it's always one of a dear friend we hope to encourage. what flowed out of our work since the fast has resulted in authentic and un-trendy photographs that reflect the heart behind our work and mean a lot to our couples, both now and in the future.
Q. What advice do you have to photographers just entering our market?
A. work hard.stay humble.remember you are a tree in a story about a forest.
Q. What advice do you have to photographers who have been in the industry for a while?
A. same as above. the longer we do this, the more we recognize the tendency to get arrogant or just fall into "rhythms" that rob our work of authenticity or make it about us. we say these things to ourselves and each other almost daily.
Q. What vendor relationships do you think are most relevant to the success of your business?
A. while we respect wedding vendors that we have the privilege of working with, we don't have any particular relationships that have contributed to the success of our business. we tell our couples that we are not a vendor, because we aren't. when they invite us to their wedding, they do so with an invitation understanding that we come to enter into their day as a close friend or family member would, and we have a place at the table at their wedding. their openness and willingness to invite us in is the thing that makes us succeed.
Q. If you could photograph anyone, who would it be?
A. this is a funny question for us because in the past couple of years we've had the privilege of making photographs for many of the names we would have put down to answer this question. we never could have asked for it or even hoped for it, but we have been a part of making photos for some incredible people and remarkable stories. and we are very aware that the same God whispering in our ears when we wake up in the morning is the one who has brought these lovely souls to our doorstep. and we are also keenly aware that he isn't done surprising us yet. we always ask that he would bring to us whomever we are supposed to be with, and keep everyone else away. so there's a lot of excitement in knowing no matter who we could put here as a name, the surprises he has for us are always better than our hopes or expectations.
Q. Explain the Don't Give Up Project...Why did you begin this movement?
A. there is a very long version of this story, but for now we will spare you because it's a lot, lot, lot of words. :)
in 2009, my dad passed away. he was a best friend to both of us, and our worlds were rocked by his leaving. Jeremy photographed the last day of my dad's life, and after his passing, we realized how much power a photograph can hold. we began to ask why to everything and that question permeated our philosophy and our photographs. we realized how trying to follow all of the wedding trends to gain popularity and attention had robbed us of focusing on making images that would be meaningful to our couples after they were gone. we started to ask "could we take this photograph to their funeral?" We looked out at the wedding photography landscape and although there were many people making images that mattered, there were also a lot who just didn't know how. we saw photographers trapped in the same game we had been trapped in - comparison. we wanted to start a movement of photographers who would be willing to ignore certain trends in order to make images that mattered. we wanted to share the things we were learning, but we just couldn't picture ourselves lecturing in a conference room trying to pretend we had it all together. most of what we know or believe is because of losses we have experienced or mistakes we have made. so we decided to invite them into our world in the only way we know how. we found a lodge in the mountains of Colorado where we invite 20 photographer strangers to come be our family guests. we bring 4 friends along to help with the preparations and the food (one of them is an incredible chef!). and then we gather for a few days. and between sleeping in bunk beds, eating all of our meals family style around one b i g table, bottles of wine, campfires, laughter, tears, sunrises, and long family meetings where we dig deeper - we all become a family. and we watch the same divine whisperer show up and change things in us all. they open up, we open up, and everyone leaves knowing why they were there and why they will go forward from there. it gets progressively more powerful every time we do it, and we just feel amazed that we get to be a part of facilitating such a life changing experience for everyone there. the workshop then lives on in the lives of the photographers who are charged to go forth a part of this family. they take a poster and use it, particularly in telling stories that are not always the easy, happy ones, but in stories where lights shines through darkness, and hope shows up in unexpected places.
Q. What is next for The Parsons?
A. our lives are proving that you just never know the answer to that question. but we have some great hopes and dreams. in the immediate future, what's next for us is to play with our baby Zion, go on a run, have some lunch together, and then have a Skype date with one of our potential couples before picking our two other boys up from school. :) we have several adventures planned out of town for weddings, shoots, and mentor sessions and are excited about those, especially the ones that we get to take the brothers along to. :) we are currently planning the details for the don't give up project to possibly go global, with our first overseas workshop - eek! we also have another Colorado don't give up project on the books, and could not be more excited for the stories we get to be a part of and tell the rest of this year and in 2013. in between all of that, we plan on loving on each other and loving other people. feeding them good food. hearing their stories, and telling them ours. and as long as God keeps whispering, we will keep seeing and communicating that through a little metal and glass box called a camera.
Be sure to check out Ashley and Jeremy on Facebook!
Woo hoo! Attention all Minneapolis wedding photographers: Our sister company, Rivets and Roses, is looking for 1 perfect photographer to join our company as a lead! Our amazing photographer, Louisa, has been with us for two amazing seasons and is embarking on her own journey after this year, so we are looking for one more incredible individual to join our team! We have incredibly high standards and expectations for this position, so we are looking for someone who:
- Has experience
- Has developed their own photographic style and processing
- Loves to shoot (but not necessarily loves to run a business)
- Loves weddings
- Is incredibly passionate about photography
- Believes in outstanding customer service
- Loves working in a team
- Inspiring Personality
If this is you, then we would LOVE to consider you for this position! Please send samples / links of your work and a resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is Friday, November 16th, 2012.
We're excited to be growing and can't wait to see all of the talent and opportunity out there!
I first met Kristy at a conference called Engage, and yes, if you have noticed, this is the place where I have met so many fabulous people in the wedding industry. I remember when I first saw Kristy, I was sitting behind her during some speeches and she was doodling. But this woman's 'doodling' was pure art and I noticed that she was really drawing every speaker that took the stage. As it turns out, all of these little drawings were for a specific purpose during the conference and that Kristy was the genius behind Momental Designs and her blog Rice Ink.
Kristy turned her incredibly talent into custom, hand made wedding art and invitation design and has since launched a lifestyle line of pillows and iPhone cases! She has been a brilliant business woman and also collaborator with other designers to create unique and timeless pieces for brides and beyond. Whether you are getting married - or just adore her style, there's a place for you to have a piece of Kristy's wonderful designs!
Q. What was your inspiration for starting Momental Designs?
A. I’ve always been a level-headed gal so the decision to follow an art education program in college was an easy one, even though I was instinctively more artist than teacher. Doing the safe thing, at that stage in my life was paramount so off I went towards a life in teaching, or so I thought. Very soon after graduation, struggling to land a teaching job and not being too upset about that fact, the realization came. Teaching wasn’t for me and I swiftly started looking deeper into my lunch break sketches for career inspiration!
Married only a few months and fresh off late night DIY projects for my own wedding in June of 2000, I wondered, “could I make a living doing this for others?”. Quickly I noticed stationers online were limited to staunch catalog types or uber expensive design houses where nothing too artful or handcrafted met in the middle. I saw my opportunity and never looked back.
Q. How did you begin as an artist?
A. All artists have that profound moment from early childhood where they just knew what they were meant to be. Mine was drawing cartoons at age 7 by flashlight on cold bathroom tile, way past bedtime. When my mother found me, flashlight and watercolor pencils in hand with a mischievous 2 am grin on my face, she knew too. So it is hard to say where my art stops and my life begins because I don’t know one without the other.
Q. We are all about collaboration and working with a team. How does your staff allow you to best serve your clients?
A. Building a team was quite the purposeful decision and had to be made years ago to ensure Momental could grow. Embracing the idea that I, as the owner could not to do it all was key. The need to cultivate and inspire a team came as a surprise and is a skill that takes practice! There are 9 human beings, living, working, breathing in this studio everyday. That is a lot of passion, voice and verve all in one place. To channel our varying talents and energy takes strong process, first and foremost. We developed systems and spreadsheets that keep us constantly in sync with each other. A favorite to be honest is Wunderlist for keeping our tasks and schedules easily accessible whether we are in studio or mobile. Part of the magic in developing and sustaining a strong team is having the right person in the right job. Matching talent to task is key and ultimately is what allows me to flourish with my growing painting and licensing projects.
Q. Where do you gather inspiration for your custom designs?
A. It can be difficult to stop the inspiration. I find my mind spinning with ideas in most places, but especially when I travel or rummage through a vintage shop. Lately I've been incredibly moved by old book covers from the Victorian Era. The embossed artwork and gold edged pages are captivating. Travel keeps my creative juices flowing too. Recently I toured the Physick Mansion in Cape May, New Jersey and fell in love with the textured/pattern treatment of the walls. You will likely see remnants of both in upcoming collections launching later this year/early 2013.
Q. What is the coolest invitation / piece of art you have designed for a wedding?
A. Most recently this project for Melanie and Rob was a big hit! Each invitation was designed around a vintage Nancy Drew book. 3 different book covers were featured throughout inspired by the Bride's love of Suzani fabric, all done in a watercolor technique. The main invitation featured our original artwork inspired by Chagall paintings:
Q. What do you love about designing for a wedding day?
A. The wedding day is about so much more than a day. It is about all the time in anticipation of that day. Those hours and weeks and months filled with planning the intricate details of an emotional celebration where two people decide to join their lives, is what I appreciate most. Helping a couple discover and learn more about themselves through stationery design is empowering for all involved and I'm grateful to be part of that process. Telling our couple's beautifully intricate, complicated and profound stories with paint and paper has become the joy of my days.
Q. You have expanded beyond paper products. Tell us about your new lines!
A. Licensing my artwork is a natural extension of what I do everyday in the studio. Being able to share my artwork with a larger audience is a dream come true. I began my licensing career with the well know paper brand Envelopments®, with a pattern named Trellis. Trellis was built entirely from my watercolor painted elements. We have a new pattern in the works set to launch in January 2013. Papyrus, the much respected name in artful stationery and gift wrap commissioned a custom painting for a card release later this year. We're also enjoying our most recent collaboration with Wildflower Linens and soon to follow is an exciting project with a well know gown designer! Creating artwork for another brand teaches you to be a better version of yourself as an artist. It forces you to see your art outside of yourself and your ego. Licensing requires incredible patience and a thick skin, but can be incredibly rewarding.
Q. What are some trends happening in the paper industry right now?
A. Unique materials are huge. A simple brushstroke of watercolor won't wow our couples any longer. They want meaningful techniques, innovative materials and emotional statements involved in every aspect of their stationery ensemble. A few examples: We recently designed invitations mailed in cigar boxes with glass specimen jars inside, filled with the couples favorite things, from beads to bug wings. We're currently water coloring sheets in deep, murky shades to be letterpress printed with the couple's white save the date text.
Q. Describe the perfect 'Momental Design' client.
A. Decisive and confident, someone who is curious about fine art but doesn't necessarily need to be educated in art, grooms who love details and lots of choices. Brides who enjoy the minutia of wedding planning and love mulling over every last detail or couples who don't like to sweat the small stuff and want an artist to vision for them all make the very best Momental client.
Q. What is the best part about your job?
A. I love what I do because each day is different. In my world, boredom and monotony don't exist.
Q. How do you hope to inspire others?
A. My words and actions are just as important as my art and hopefully equally as inspiring. I want to inspire a bride and groom by wowing them with an unexpected moment of art or impromptu phone call during their process. I want to inspire a fellow creative with an impactful blog post. I want to energize my employees by my own example of devouring life and work with enthusiasm.
You can also check out Kristy on Twitter.