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Styled wedding session gives brides a second chance at memories.

Once I realized I didn't fear weddings and had a strong desire to shoot them, I kind of panicked! How do you shoot weddings when you've only ever shot a few? And by a few I mean the kind that I wasn't comfortable posting pictures of on my site. Sorry dear cousin, the Halloween wedding was amazing, (and seriously one of the most fun), but not exactly the vision I had in mind. With that, I decided to start where a lot of photographers start out - and that's with a styled session. If you aren't familiar with the term styled session, it's basically when you shoot models in a controlled environment. In theory the images look like a real wedding, but in reality, it's SO utterly different from shooting an actual wedding! However, there is an art to posing people, so it was a good start for me. Styled sessions can be deeply involved - complete with table set-ups, held at a venue, bringing in hoards of vendors, and highly posed and controlled. However, I knew I wanted the core of my styled session to FEEL genuine, so that meant hair and makeup, and REAL couples. With that in mind, I was off to plan it! I immediately made a friendly connection with an amazing make-up artist, Victoria Ronan. Victoria offered an extremely fair price for the project and brought her obvious talent and expertise! What I loved most was that I felt like I was with an old friend! I don't always expect those types of interactions, but if I'm being honest, it's my favorite thing! Victoria has a gorgeous in-home studio (and seriously she has a knack for home design). She’s on my very short list when people want recommendations. So, once make-up was checked off the list, it was on to hair. I wanted to create a vision of the brides having the same level of detail and professionalism they'd have on their actual wedding day. On a raving recommendation, we found Krystine. Krystine Vincent is just as cute and friendly as the day is long, and I’ve called on her once or twice since this styled session. I just love her work! (sidenote: she’s extremely busy!) Last was flowers and, confession – I did most of them, with the exception of one that was donated by Days of May Florals who gave us a gorgeous orange wildflower bouquet (below) to use. The other were bouquets that I handmade! Many moons ago I spent tireless hours working for a quaint little flower shop on the west coast so I learned a thing or two along the way! All in all, anyone could have model for a styled session, but I wanted to know that if I was devoting this many hours to something that it would MEAN something to someone (other than just photos for my portfolio). Plus, do you know how hard it is to find guys to willingly put on a Tuxedo in August? So I searched for couples by posting a model call to my facebook page.

Krystine Vincent, Left and Victoria Ronan, Right.

Krystine Vincent, Hair Stylist at Morgan and Gerard Salon, Left.

Victoria Ronan, Owner of Natural Looks by Victoria, Right.

Whimsical Floral Bouquet by Days of May Florals

Bouquet donated by Days of May Florals.

Bouquet created by April Corey (me!) of Persimmon Lane Photography

Another bouquet created by April Corey (me!) of Persimmon Lane Photography

So an model call is kinda a mixed bag, so I didn't know what to expect. Plus, being new at this I was just nervously expecting it to be somewhat of a disaster, but I knew I needed some parameters. I wanted to first and foremost consider couples who had experienced something negative surrounding their photos or wedding day. Whether their photographer was a cousin who botched the job, someone who didn't have money to hire someone to begin with, or someone who had bizarre circumstancing crushing the vision of their photos. No matter what it was, I had a strong desire for my couples to cherish what I was about to do; I was all in so they needed to be too. I was honestly overwhelmed at the response. I received emails from brides in other states! I got messages from brides who were recently married, brides who had been married for decades , and everything in-between. I had the difficult job of paring down the applicants. I decided on 4 couples, one of which couldn't make the date, so we ended up with 3. Can I just mention, that never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined JUST HOW MUCH this would mean to these couples? I mean, I knew what I was getting out of it, but the couples were SO amazing to work, and it REALLY reaffirmed that I was heading in the right direction.

So because the couples were so amazing, I feel like I need to tell you about them! The first couple, Holly and Russel were ADORABLE! They were a younger couple who had a beautiful wedding in the mountains of Rocky Gap State Park. They did most of their planning remotely, so when they hired their wedding photographer, they did so based on the venue recommendation (It seems like a solid logic though in all honesty). The photographer wasn't awful, I mean - there were some great shots - but overall many of their photos missed the mark, interestingly enough I met this bride because she contacted ME about doing bridal redo photos so the timing gave me chills! She had dreamed of reshooting for quite some time. Truth be told, I'm quite sure Holly was the bride gave me the inspiration to look for authentic couples! Photographing Holly and Russel felt like being on the set of the Notebook! Had it been raining I could have just imagined him lifting her up in a warm loving (and steamy) embrace! Every photograph just oozes an overwhelming sense of love. They're just one of those couples that's so adorable you can’t help but love them! I'm over the moon with their photos, and so are they. I hope they cherish the photos for a lifetime!

The second couple, Chele and Justin got married during a hurricane! Can you just imagine? I can because I was once a bridesmaid at a hurricane wedding and sidenote: my hubby proposed to me during a hurricane, but my wedding certainly was not DURING a hurricane! The hurricane prevented them from having ANY outdoor formal photos taken, which left Chele heartbroken! They also opted for a friend option for having photos taken, so I'm sure the friend was probably a bit wide-eyed working with indoor lighting on a dreary day. I know I loathe those conditions so I can only imagine was an unseasoned hobbyist felt! Chele explained that bridesmaids dresses that were brown in real life, but in the photos they looked purple. I feel that; I had this happen to me before I delved deep into the world of photography! Anyway, not to disrespect the friend for her efforts, but it was time to take some outdoor photos that they longed for! So Chele and Justin, along with their boys met with me on the beach and we clicked away the afternoon! The weather was perfect and I love that you can see the personality of the bride and groom in the photos, and that says it all! While my first couple were romantic and cozy, Chele and Justin were the epitome of FUN! The two of them gave some of the greatest expressions, and my face hurt from laughing during their shoot! The groom gave an unscripted a piggyback to the bride, which is just funny when you think about that big ole dress up on his back! What I loved most: Chele and Justin were able to do something they physically couldn't on their wedding day, but these photos were even more meaningful because her husband had gone through a dramatic lifestyle change. and lost about 100lbs since their wedding! How amazing is that?!

The last couple, Krystle and Jimmy had a story broke my heart most of all and it's the thing brides fear that most. The bride, Krystle explained that she ended up having to go to court to get her wedding images from her original photographer, and that photographer (whose name was never revealed to me), ended up giving them about 100 images after the court case. Now I’m definitely not the type of person to ever bash other photographers...if you know me you know I love working with other photographers. I love meeting them and connecting because we share the same passion and I've never met a photographer either green or seasoned that I didn't learn something from. If you know me, you know that I love to learn!. So, without dwelling on things that didn't concern me, we focused on the goal of creating new images since the old ones made the bride feel a sense of anger and resentment. While it wasn’t part of the original plan, the bride brought her mother and a big focus of our shoot was her getting ready with her mother. I love this because we all know that our parents won't be around forever. We were able to get some wonderful photos of her mother lacing up her dress, and kissing her on the cheek. Jimmy casually waited in an air conditioned space while we sweated it out shooting her formals! In hindsight, August was a tough month to shoot but we made it work. It’s been close to a year since the styled session and it warms my heart when I see Krystle’s profile picture pop on Facebook because it’s a photo that I took. Oddly enough, Krystle and Jimmy were a mesh of the first two couples! They were both romantic AND silly. It’s crazy to think we had three very different couples, yet the photos meant so much to each of them.

OKAY, so maybe that wasn't quick but I felt like I needed to tell you guys all about them! Seriously, I could NOT have asked for better couples! I'm so proud to have been able to offer them truly authentic photos that mean something! Anyone can photograph couples, but at the end of the day, finding real couples who weren't acting like they were in love is something I’ll carry with me for a long time. So that’s it...The start of my motivation to shoot weddings! The experience with the couples also helped relieve my “what if I’m hired by a bridezilla” anxiety. I now realized that this was where I belonged, I never looked back. I’m so thankful each and every time a bride even considers me to be their photographer because I hope they understand just how much it means to me to create their memories and be trusted on the biggest day of their lives!

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