Blue Springs, Mo Family Photographer: Clarke Family

Wow! This session combined three of my favorite things! 1) Return Clients! I know I’ve said it so many times before, but my absolute favorite part of this job is watching families grow and change and seeing them again and again for different milestones. I have been lucky enough to join this family for their wedding, new baby, and family sessions! It is so obvious that as their family grows, so does their love.
2) A new location! I have many locations that I can recommend when a client contacts me and has no idea where they want to do their session. They are all tried and true and it can be handy already knowing where all of the “good spots” are at them, but I really love it when clients want to try a place I’ve never shot before. It’s like finding a treasure! Although sometimes it takes a little more walking to find the “good spots” for the first time, it’s almost always worth it. I can’t believe I didn’t even know this place existed!
3) Clouds (and even a little rain). As always, I had been watching the forecast for this session days ahead. I was a little concerned. It was supposed to be a sunny day with no clouds or rain. I was happy about the rain part, but I suspected this location was going to be out in the open and as any good photographer can tell you, full sun is not our friend. So I was a little surprised when a couple of hours before the session it POURED. I mean like “can’t see across the street” poured! I texted the family to see if they still wanted to give it a go and they were up for it. As you can imagine it’s not easy to get a family of 6 all together at the same time so they were more than willing to try and get this done that day. Thank goodness! It was the perfect day for great photos (well, other than the insane humidity and bugs that appeared). The light was great and I love the depth and contrast the slightly wet concrete added to the images.

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Blue Springs, Mo. High School Senior Photographer: Camron

There were so many things I loved about this session. I loved how easy this Senior Guy was to work with and how he was a natural in front of the camera. I loved that we had a Cello! In the woods! I loved that we were able to capture both his Elementary School and childhood home in the same shot! I could go on and on, but I will let the images speak for themselves.

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From the Heart

This post has been weighing heavy on my heart for a while. I have known I was going to write it but had no idea what it was going to say…until tonight. It’s something I have prayed on, thought about, prayed on some more and tried to remain patient while waiting for some kind of answer. Tonight it came to me clearly…”If you want it, fight for it!”. So here it is- the honest truth.

This little business that I have spent the past 6 years building is not having a great year. As a matter of fact this is one of my worst springs that I can remember and after my busiest wedding season ever in 2016, my wedding schedule is pretty bare as well.

Also, being honest, I just wrote a very long theory as to why I believe this is happening but to spare you all of that I will sum it up by saying there are A LOT of DSLR (or in other words…big, fancy cameras) floating around out there and a lot of people know someone who is willing to take some quick photos for them for free or next to nothing. This makes it hard for people to pay big bucks to a true professional (although it is soooo worth it) and I get that. I spent a lot of time on my pricing when I started my business and changed it as needed through the years. I started out low while I was still fine-tuning my personal photography style and still perfecting my skills and increased it as my photography kept improving so that my fees matched the artwork that I was delivering to my clients. I paid attention to other photographers and made sure my pricing was competitive with those who’s work was similar quality to mine. I took into consideration all of the expenses (taxes, business license, website expenses, marketing fees, equipment upgrades and upkeep, marketing, etc). I have always tried to keep my pricing reasonable. But times have changed at least for now and what is reasonable to MY ideal clients might have too. While I know that my work is worth every penny that I worked my way up to, I also know that many quality photographers are charging less now and many clients are just going with that “friend with a camera” to save money. So the dilema I have been praying on…Is it time to hang up the towel? Should I go back to shooting personal photos like when I first fell in love with photography and give up on the idea of a growing business? I thought about it but my heart said “NO!”.

Soooooo at least for the time being I am going to take it back a few steps. I have changed my pricing and my 2017 clients will be getting amazing deals! I will be working more for less money but hopefully in the process will be builiding new relationships with new clients who will fall in love with the artwork and memories that I create for them and stand by me as I fight for my business and dream. I hope that you will be a part of it and I can’t wait to start capturing your memories this year.

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Grain Valley High School Senior Photographer: Dawson and Troy

Parents of High School Seniors…I feel your pain! Your babies are almost all grown up and time has flown by so quickly. Every year I get requests for Senior Sessions right before graduation or even the summer after. Everything just happens so fast! I did these last minute “Mini Senior Sessions” this year for these handsome golfers so they could get some last minute photos for their grad party invites. They have been best buds for a long time and it was great to sneak in a shot of them together. I have now done three senior sessions on golf courses and it is always so much fun. The scenery is always great and getting from one location to another is always more fun in a golf cart than walking. I’m thinking of offering these mini senior sessions at this time every year to take a little stress off the parents that realized they haven’t gotten around to Senior Photos yet and need some NOW! It turned out to be a great way to get some awesome photos fast and without adding a lot of cost to all of the other expenses graduation brings!

How to Plan a Picture Perfect Wedding…Kansas City and Blue Springs Area Wedding Photographer

As a wedding Photographer, I have obviously attended my fair share of weddings and had the honor of being behind the scenes and seeing all of the highs and lows of the day that is otherwise only witnessed by the wedding party and the family. I also usually become not only the photographer, but a wedding planner or problem solver as well at some point. The more weddings I shoot the more qualified I become to take on that role and also the more I learn about what you should, and should not do to have a beautiful day that runs smoothly, avoids bumps in the road and of course…results in photographs that you will cherish for years to come. Since a lot of these tips are most helpful during the planning stages, I thought I would share them.

1) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: The location can easily make or break your big day…and your wedding photos. How fancy or expensive the location is isn’t actually important at all. Some of my very favorite weddings that I have photographed were actually at parks shelters!

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

And can you believe this wedding was in the groom’s parents’ backyard?!!
Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

When checking out locations keep these things in mind-
Is it important to me to have everything at one location (both wedding and reception)? This comes in especially handy if you have several out of town guests that might have a hard time finding their way from one place to another. It also allows more time to get your photos done and enjoy your big day.

How is the scenery for photos? The inside of your venue may be gorgeous but you aren’t going to want every one of your photos shot in the same location or up at the alter. Are there a few different places outside that will make nice backgrounds for your portraits? And keep an open mind when looking for these places. It doesn’t have to look like a park or forest. A stone or brick wall, gazebo, some nice stairs will always work. If you have your heart set on a particular location that doesn’t have a lot of outdoor photo options, think outside the box. Is there somewhere nearby that does? I have had several brides and grooms shoot their portraits at a second location.

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

2) PLAN AHEAD. As you start working on the details of your big day, the sooner you decide on some of the small details and designate special people to help you out the better. Will you see each other before the ceremony? We call this a “first look” and it can not only provide a very intimate and special moment and photo opp, but also frees up time to do as many photos as possible BEFORE the ceremony!

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

It’s also a great idea to find a close friend or family member who can be by your side most of the day (possibly a bridesmaid or MOH) that knows most of the important people you want photos with. Then make a list ahead of time and have that person keep track of and direct those people to make sure they are ready when it’s time for their photos. At one wedding this person even stood beside me and called people in and out of the photos so all I had to do was keep shooting!

3) COMMUNICATE! Get your paperwork in on time with all of your vendors. Read over contracts early and address any questions or concerns that come up. Schedule one last consult with them about a month or 2 weeks prior to your big day to go over changes that have been made since your last consultation and any last minute questions.

4) LOOK WEDDING READY! Think of how what you are doing in the weeks leading up to your wedding will affect how you look on your big day. Guys- don’t wear sunglasses or ball caps out in the sun for long periods of time. They can leave funky tan lines. Girls- same thing with bikinis or hanging out by the pool. If the bride or bridesmaids are wearing strapless dresses, a tan line can be VERY noticeable both during your ceremony and in your photos and that’s not something your photographer can just easily fix in photoshop. Eat healthy so you look and feel your best. Exercise but also get plenty of rest too. Look how Wedding Ready these beautiful girls are!

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

5) LEARN HOW TO… Many of my brides and grooms learn DURING their wedding that there are a few typical wedding traditions that they really don’t know how to do and didn’t think of until it was time to do it. There are a few that seem to pop up at almost every wedding I shoot. Pinning on the boutonnieres for instance. Who is going to do this? Often the mother of the groom will do his, but what about the rest of the guys? And does ANYONE actually know how to do this? (If not this video is helpful) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3D1wl4-oiU

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

What about the cake. I mean everyone knows you are supposed to cut it together and then feed it gently to each other (or smash it in your new spouse’s face). But where do you cut from? How big of a piece or do you cut two small ones? These are good decisions to make ahead of time. Here is a good article to help: https://www.everafterguide.com/bride-and-groom-cutting-cake.html
Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

Last but not least… bustling the dress!!! This never seems to go well or quickly. Every dress is different so go over this thoroughly during your last fitting at the dress shop. Make sure you have the same people with you that will be helping you on your wedding day because honestly the bride isn’t going to be able to do this or see at all to help so she’s not the one who needs this information.
Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

6) DON’T FORGET THE DETAILS! Don’t forget to personalize your day with little details that tell who you are as a bride and groom and/or as a couple. Favorite sports teams or hobbies are often incorporated into the ceremony, reception, or photo ideas. Instead of a cake do your favorite treat…cupcakes, a pie buffet and coffee bar, etc. Several of my 2016 couples even included their dogs in the portraits. Don’t forget, this is the beginning of your story together. It shouldn’t be just like everyone else’s.

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

Wedding Tips, Blue Springs Wedding Photographer, Kansas City

My final piece of advice is don’t rush through your day. You (hopefully) only get one. I have several couples that inform me that certain shots are very important to them during their consultation. Then when their wedding day comes and they have gone through hundreds of photos and start seeing the reception and the chance to let their hair down in sight and I remind them of those shots they suddenly don’t really care about them anymore. When you are making your “must have” shot list put stars by or circle the ones that you absolutely don’t want to skip. If they are important to you before your wedding date, they most likely will be important after. You don’t want to make these decisions when you have wedding brain going on. 😉 I (as well as any experienced wedding photographer) will make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy yourself. Same advice for all other aspects of your big day too. What will be important to you when it’s all over? What can you live without? You may have every detail planned but time won’t allow for all of them and you have to cut some things in order to relax. Be prepared to consider some of your ideas just that…ideas. As in “we will do that if time allows but let’s make sure we relax and have fun and take it all in first”. Don’t let the possibility of going without something ruin your wedding. Remember what it is really all about in the first place. Not the dress, the cake, the flowers or location. It’s about your journey as a couple and the first day of your life as husband and wife!

Happy Weddings!