Tips for planning your wedding day timeline! by Keira Lemonis

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One of the biggest days of your life... you're marrying your love & getting all of your closest friends & family together in one beautiful place to help you celebrate! Aside from all the joy & fun your wedding day will bring, there is a lot of work that goes in to planning it - assembling your wedding team (photographer, caterer, venue, florist and so on), planning all the little details & sorting out logistics such as transportation, hotel accommodations, etc.. So, once the big day arrives, you'll want to have time to relax, party & completely enjoy the day you spent so long working on.

 I know that the idea of having a "plan" for such a celebration sounds a bit rigid and like it couldn't possibly be any fun, but I'm going to tell you that from my years of experience, having some sort of outline for how the day will go is the best thing you can do in order to have everything go as smoothly as possible & relieve some stress.  Everyone will know what to expect ahead of time, which is awesome because a large group of confused individuals is never a fun time!  Here are some tips to help you come up with a road map for your big day (as far as photography is concerned anyway) - 

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Spread things out & plan ahead.  You are hiring your photographer for what I'm assuming is a good chunk of time... probably somewhere in the 6-10 hour range.  There is no need to try and force all of the "creative" portraits, family portraits & detail images in to a 30 minute period of time.  This is stressful for the couple and for the photographer as we're rushing to accomplish everything in this tiny time frame and you're feeling overwhelmed by all there is to be done when you really want to be hitting the dance floor and sipping on some champagne!  Of course, the rest of the day we'll be hard at work capturing the moments unfold naturally and getting great candid shots, but if possible I recommend planning out adequate time, for any formal photos, prior to the big day, for things to be accomplished in a way that doesn't feel so hurried!  There are a couple of ways to do this, the first being my top suggestion. 1.  Have a "first look"!

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What is a "first look", you ask?  It's when a couple see one another, dressed and ready for the ceremony, prior to the ceremony beginning.  Now, you will have to have a more non-traditional approach to the day in order to be comfortable with this, but I'd say that 90% of my couples do this and it makes the day so much more relaxed.  I can't stress this enough!  Here's what I think of the first look - 1.  I think that seeing each other alone, and not in front of a huge group of family & friends, is actually pretty sweet.  You get a private little moment to talk to each other, touch and alleviate any nerves you had about seeing each other at the ceremony, prior to the ceremony beginning.. pretty cool! 2.  Now that you've seen each other, you can do all of your portraits prior to the ceremony starting.  This way we make sure we've planned enough time for photos, we get them all done and you have nothing to do after the ceremony... it's off to cocktail hour to hang out with all of your guests.  3.  This makes artistically capturing your detail shots & cocktail hour very nice for us photographers, which ends up meaning more creatively thought out images for your collection!  We've already done all of your portraits, prior to the ceremony, so while your mixing and mingling, we're hard at work capturing details of your reception space, with candles lit, all ready for guests to enter.  

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OK, so what if you really don't want to do the first look... Hey, it's not for everyone and if couples really don't want to do it and prefer to have that walking down the aisle moment, I do have some suggestions.  *In the case of not seeing one another before, keep in mind this one thing- You will miss your cocktail hour or a good portion of it.  You must be OK with this because this will be the only time to do your family photos, couple & combined wedding party portraits.  There is no other time to do them, sorry!  I hate to be the bearer of bad news :-)  Some tips...  1.  Consider doing some portraits separately, prior to the ceremony.  Anything that you can get done before, with out seeing one another, is less that you'll have to do after the ceremony.  So that's great! 2.  Consider extending your cocktail hour to an hour and a half.  This works really well for more laid back weddings where there are yard games or other things to keep guests entertained.  But games aren't needed.  Guests are usually totally entertained with food, drinks, mingling and any musical entertainment at the cocktail hour.  This extra time will allow us more adequate time to accomplish family, wedding party, couple and detail images within this one portion of the day. 3. Prior to setting up your day without a first look, consider when the sun will set.  If you're hoping for gorgeous, softly lit images, but the sun will set ten minutes after your ceremony ends, then photos after the ceremony aren't going to work out.  I recommend that couples take daylight in to consideration when planning their ceremony start time, etc.

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Lastly, make sure that you're on the same page with all of your vendors.  Hiring a wedding planner is usually a great way to make sure things get off without a hitch too!  

We're all here to help and happily give suggestions based on our professional experience!  No matter which route you end up taking, around the timing of your formal photos, the day is sure to be a whirlwind of excitement and love.... we want to document that as best as we can!

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Introducing Brand Vamp, a collaboration to grow / start your business by Keira Lemonis

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Branding and engaging & compelling visual content is something that I've always been pretty passionate about as a photographer and I'm very excited to announce this new collaboration between myself and Elizabeth of Social Static!  We are two creative women, combining our talents and experience in order to help business owners "make over" their brands, grow their audiences, stand apart and move forward looking & feeling totally awesome about their presence both online and off!

Who is Brand Vamp for?  It's for the business owner who wants to refresh and grow or for the entrepreneur who is just starting and wants to launch with beautiful images and a clear social media strategy.  

Brand Vamp may be for you!  Feel free to reach out with questions and to receive more information!  

Snap Sessions! by Keira Lemonis

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We are now offering in studio only "Snap Sessions".  They are just as they sound... quick, simple and perfect for anyone looking for a few good headshots for their website, social media, etc.  Learn more about these sessions here.  Feel free to contact us to book one today!

How to take AMAZING Family Photos anytime, anywhere! by Keira Lemonis

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As a lifestyle photographer, I've learned a few things over the years about family photos... how to make them meaningful, fun and something that can be accomplished at anytime.  As a professional photographer I in no way want to minimize the importance of hiring a pro for your portraits! :-)  There are some things (artistic vision, experience & technical acumen, to name a few) that can't be rivaled easily.  That being said, as much as I'd love to, I don't always have my professional gear with me and often take everyday images of my daughter with my iPhone, in between the opportunities I get to do a professional session with her.  I feel like between my camera and my phone, special moments with her have been pretty well documented!  I'd like to help you make the everyday moments that you capture just a little bit more special!

Remember, the best moments in life are not "staged" and happen naturally!  Always keep this in mind when you're snapping away :-)  Whether you're shooting with your camera or phone, here are five tips to help you along!

1. Show Connection.  Families share a special bond.... You want to demonstrate this in your images.  For example, I look for (and encourage) family members to interact, touch, play and do anything they normally would!  This will help to capture natural reaction and individual personalities.  Touch will visually show connection as a family.

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Love this image of a Mama and her new baby!  In this image connection is established by both their physical connection and the way they are looking at one another.
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Nothing connects a family like laughter!  Here little Rowan clearly said something hilarious that got a reaction from his mom.  Not only are they looking at one another, and clearly having fun, they are also sitting close together.
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Here the family is all looking at their new addition and sitting in a close grouping.  This makes for a sweet moment and tells the story of the connection they share.
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A mom and her little girl, clearly having fun!  Here we have a physical connection and two, obviously happy ladies!

2. Pay attention to light.  Whether you're shooting with a camera or your phone, lighting makes a huge impact on the quality of an image and also helps to convey a mood.  Nice even lighting is one of my personal faves!  I try to avoid harsh sunlight as it's often not as flattering and creates many shadows.  This is just my opinion and the way I roll :-)  You can also use light to create a certain mood.  Natural side lighting, from a window, for example can be beautiful and also have a more dramatic effect.

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One of my favorite lighting conditions going on here!!  Even light with a bit of back light from the sun makes for a warm glow.
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In this image we have natural side lighting from a window.  This contributes to the emotion in the image and makes for a pretty black and white.
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Again, nice even natural light from a large hospital window is spread across little Stella.

3. Use personal props.  I love to see families incorporate family heirlooms, special blankets, favorite toys, and so on, in to a session.  You can easily do this on your own.  It adds interest, marks a place in time, and commemorates objects of importance in your lives.

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In this image Rowan is sitting in a chair that's been passed down in his family.  It's an adorable photo prop but also holds meaning.
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This series is from my daughter's fourth birthday session.  She loves her Fisher Price camera and it makes for the perfect photo prop as it's fun, vintage and colorful!
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For Vivi's fourth birthday, she had her first trip to Build A Bear!  What better way to commemorate this birthday then to include her new friend in the photos!
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Another image of Vivi with her bear :-)
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Lastly, here's Vivi with a #4 balloon from her party decor!

4. Get multi-generational and include the whole family (including pets)!  Getting together with grandparents, cousins, other family members you haven't seen in a while?  This is the perfect time for creating some lasting memories and images from that time spent together.

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Grandparents with their teenage grandchildren.
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A cousins photo!

5. Have your photos printed.  I can't stress this enough!!  It's easy to let digital images hang out on our phones and hard drives, but they look so much better displayed in our homes.  I print both professional images as well as photos I've taken with my phone.

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Here are just some of the images that hang on my wall at home.  Some are taken with my pro camera, but some are from my phone!  Actually the one of Vivi wearing the "not just a pretty face" t-shirt is one of my favorites of her and was taken with my iPhone while she laid on the lawn laughing hysterically!  I just feel like it demonstrates her smart & feisty personality so perfectly!

Hope these help!

Looking for some professional family images?  I have mini sessions coming up on Sunday, June 4, 2017.  Feel free to email me at hello@keiralemonisphotography.com with questions or to book your session!