Hey guys! Jess here, straight off my triple-header weekend. Between Friday and Sunday, I took well over 10,000 photos. I’d say I have some homework cut out for myself!
Today I want to share Jackie and Terry’s engagement shoot! The moment Jackie stepped out of the car she took my breath away in her stunning flowy purple dress and fantastic red lipstick! I love women who aren’t afraid of a little color, especially on photo day!
Terry has lived all over the country and moved a lot in his life. I asked him how he liked Columbus, and his answer was just perfect. He said something to the effect of, “Of course I love it- I met the love of my life here.” AWE!!!
We did most of the shoot in German Village, a very eclectic part of town. During our shoot, we met a guy who couldn’t find where he parked his car the night before (no comment). We also met an older lady who made Terry try and fix her flower box because he was tall enough to reach it. People in Columbus are so like that- there just aren’t any strangers, LOL. Needless to say, we were making memories all over the place but one this is for sure: The weather was amazing and these two worked that camera to no end! I just love their bright and colorful collection. I can’t wait for their beach themed wedding!
My job often has twists and turns. Sometimes I’m not even sure where I’m going to be the next weekend. Karen and Jay booked me less than a week out from their wedding. I was excited, to say the least, but I also had no idea how much fun I was about to have at this wedding. When I walked in, Karen and Jay were in the same room putting together bouquets for their wedding day. After a few minutes of this, Karen rushed Jay out the door to go get ready. As I photographed her dress, different family members came in to visit her and see how she was. Her daughter carried her dress into the bathroom and helped her get dressed. Weddings are such a whirlwind. Karen had been dealing with so many little details from the day, it didn’t leave her much time to get ready, but Karen was nothing but jokes, laughs and smiles as everyone rushed about. Finally, with her dress on, she was flawless and it was time to tie the knot.
On a sunny and hot July evening, Jay and Karen exchanged vows in the outdoor courtyard of the Granville Inn. I have been to over 250 weddings, and I had never seen this before: the minister allowed for people to individually stand up and “bless” them with something, such as patience, peace, etc. It was so special and meaningful.
From the ceremony, just the three of us walked a bit around Granville. That day there happened to be an outdoor carnival. Karen and Jay immediately lit up and decided we had to stop there for some fun photos. I totally felt like a little kid again. These two are incredible in every way. At the reception, I asked Jay about Karen and how they met. He said he was tired of the dating scene because it was usually very superficial. When he met Karen, he was immediately drawn to how spiritual she was. It was her authenticity and devotion to God and him that he fell in love with. I can see why. She has an electric personality and I wish these two endless years of carnivals, dancing in the street together, and an unending love that grows with time.
I think the single biggest gift being a wedding photographer has given me has been reconnecting with people from my past on such a loving an important day as their wedding. I have photographed the weddings and special moments for people I’ve gone to high school with, people that I’ve gone to college with, people I’ve gone to graduate school with and people that I’ve met in while living in other cities. 17 years ago I was lucky enough to find myself working at ACCAD as a summer counselor for a women in technology program. Little did I know that program would change my life probably more than it changed any of the other girls attending the week-long camp. The other counselors became lifelong mentors to me and women that I continue to look up to and aspire to be. One of those women is Samantha. When she contacted me about her wedding day, to say I was honored would be an understatement. We FaceTimed together where I got to both meet her fiancé Lisa and start the ball rolling on planning their romantic Via Vecchia wedding.
Fast forward to their wedding day. It’s not often I get choked up on a wedding day, but when Samantha walked into the room with a blue sequined dress, I kinda lost it a little. She was so radiant. A little later, I was able to meet Lisa in-person for the first time in her suite down the hallway at the downtown Westin. It had felt like I had known her for years. Her brother and best friend were hanging out in the room with her and they had such great senses of humor, I immediately felt a connection with them all.
Lisa and Sam wanted so badly to get married in the alley at Via Vecchia, but the universe had other plans for them. It not only rained, but it down-poured to the point it was testing the capacity of the gutters. The entire ceremony setup was moved indoors at the last minute thanks to Via Vecchia owner, Michael, and Lisa and Sam’s friends and family. Let me tell you- it looked so amazing. I couldn’t get enough of the hot-pink uplighting. It ended up being the ceremony with the biggest visual cool-factor of the year. I know it wasn’t what they had envisioned, but it was just perfect.
My favorite parts of the reception were the speeches, as always, the shoe game where we got to see a little insight on Sam and Lisa’s relationship, and the sibling dance-off which was judged by Sam and Lisa’s parents. I’m not sure I’ve laughed that hard in years. Later that night, the rain stopped and so we snuck out and did a few evening shots under the Via Vecchia bistro alley lights. I can’t thank Samantha and Lisa enough for having me photograph their wedding. I hope you all love these as much as I loved taking them! XO Jess
When I think back to this wedding, I still think it was a wonderful dream. Everything from start to finish was so beautiful, laid-back, and genuine. Kaila and Brittany started their day getting their hair and make-up done in the same room. They then separated into two different rooms to put on their dresses for their first look. We did their first look in the heart of German Village on hot but beautiful June day. Both of their dresses were a pale blush color and very similar as far as the cut. The details, however, were very different and so striking on each of them. Their two dresses together were so breathtaking and all my second shooter and I could say was, “two dresses are so much better than one!” After a few shots on the streets of German Village, we headed over to Schiller Park. The beautiful park mixed with these two gorgeous ladies made for some seriously romantic photos.
Now it was time to go get married! The outdoor ceremony took place in Frank Fetch Park in the heart of German Village. The park had a small fountain that provided a warm ambient background noise. Each bride was escorted in by their immediate family up to a central arbor. They had their neighbor perform the ceremony and she read one of my favorite readings, “on marriage” by Kahlil Gibran. Vows were shared, tears were shed, and before you knew it, Kaila and Brittany were wife and wife!
From Frank Fetch Park we headed over to Dock 580 where we were able to get some of my favorite portraits from the day! After that, the real fun began and the night was filled with some seriously funny speeches, lots of laughs and two radiant souls surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Kaila and Brittany, for having me as your wedding photographer. This was truly one of the highlights of my year! XO Jess
Elaine, Marcus and their adorable mini Goldendoodle, Lola, met me out on a hot summer day last month for a seriously fun engagement shoot. We started the session at the Topiary Park in downtown Columbus and wound our way around the city to all sorts of cool hidden little spots. Lola was with us every step of the way. She got so many hugs and snuggles in the photos. When she wasn’t in the photos, she was supervising from the sidelines making sure mom and dad looked perfect.
I left this shoot with a natural high, and not just because it was 90 degrees and I was becoming dizzy. These two are SO MUCH FUN to be around. They are both laid back and have great senses of humor. They are so goofy and don’t take themselves too seriously, which honestly makes for such refreshing photos. Elaine’s pink flowy skirt matched the well-manicured gardens of the topiary park and some of the late-blooming trees in the area. Lola’s tongue matched the skirt perfectly as well, so you can just see how great the color compositions were!
From the park, they changed outfits and we went and had some fun in downtown Columbus at the new-ish “COLUMBUS” mural. They brought out their sunglasses and we all had so much fun sweating our asses off in the direct sun. My favorite is the jumping photo. I usually don’t have people jump for photos, but this year I’ve done it twice. It’s pretty great when they work out. Elaine and Marcus look like they could be in a Mentos commercial from the 90s! Thank you guys for braving the heat with me! I seriously can’t wait for your wedding. Until then, I hope you love these photos as much as I did taking them! XO Jess
On the day of Griffin and Dan’s wedding, I met up with Griffin at her parent’s house. Griffin had told me that she wanted some of her portraits taken in her mother’s bathroom and of course, I said yes! But what I didn’t realize at the time, even though she explained it to me, was that her mother (being an artist) had transformed the entire bathroom space into the most stunning work of art. Everywhere the eye turned were the most beautiful mosaics made from broken tiles, beads and egg shells. I feel like you could spend hours in that room and only see a very small part of it. I loved the symbolism of taking Griffin’s portraits in this room. Her mother had started it as a tribute to her own mother, so in that bathroom was the warmth of multiple generations of women and an outpouring of creative love that only a mother can have, and only an artist can convey.
It was now time for the wedding so we headed a few streets over to Griffin and Dan’s place where they were to get married in their backyard. Everything was immaculate and perfectly groomed for the ceremony. Dan had tears of joy as he read a note from Griffin right before the ceremony. Griffin and her sister shared the sweetest moment in the garage right before the entrance music started. The flower girls had the best senses of humor. They walked down the aisle, stopped right in front of Dan and dumped out all of the petals in their baskets at his feet. The ceremony itself was probably no longer than 10 minutes, and before you knew it they were husband and wife and drove off in a white convertible!
I got to hitch a ride in their sweet ride and we rode around downtown Columbus for some portraits. When we made our way back to their backyard party, the food truck had arrived and was serving up hot bagel sandwiches. I always forget how ridiculously good a bagel sandwich is and the Short North Bagel Deli did NOT disappoint! My favorite part of their reception was Griffin’s dance with her Dad. In the middle, her Mom and sister joined them. A couple minutes later, all four of them turned to Dan, arms wide open, and welcomed him into their family hug-dance. His face as they did this was priceless. As the sun set, you could hear relaxed laughter, see amazing dance moves and feel the love in the air. I am beyond honored to have been with Griffin and Dan on this day. It was one of the highlights of my professional career! XO Jess
This wedding was everything to me. By the end of the night, I was so star struck with both Justin and Mike. Today I’m super excited to announce that their wedding was published earlier this year on Gay Weddings and Mariage Magazine! Check it out!
I’d also love to share the link to the blog I wrote about them here. XO Jess
Kate and Chad met up with me in late April along the banks of the Scioto Mile. We ended up walking for about two hours around downtown exploring, which is actually my favorite way to shoot. Kate wore a beautiful lace blue dress which looked fantastic in literally every photo. You can’t go wrong with a solid color on your engagement shoot- but especially blue, red or green. I had mentioned the Ohio theater to them before the shoot and Kate loved the idea because she and Chad often go and see performances. As we were walking up and standing under the marquee, all of the glittery lights turned on- it was magical!! It was so well timed I thought someone working there had seen us taking photos and turned them on for us, but alas, there was a matinee they were getting ready for. From there we wandered around the Statehouse and took advantage of the Classical architecture. Kate told me about some of the Statues on the Statehouse grounds. Two of my favorites were the Statue of the famous military and political leaders from Ohio, and the new Holocaust memorial that was unveiled in 2014.
After our tour of the Statehouse, we ran across the street and walked through the Columbus Commons. I told you we walked a long way! By now we were in the groove and having fun. On our way back to the Scioto Mile we found a few nooks and crannies that were super picturesque. The grand finale of the shoot was getting to photograph these two in front of the Columbus skyline. The sun was direct and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but it was still so spectacular. I can’t thank Kate and Chad enough for being up for anything! I am so excited for their Grandville Inn wedding. XO Jess
Man oh man owning your own business is such a rollercoaster. Maybe it’s because you feel obligated to always think about your business, or maybe it’s just instinct. If you are your only employee, maybe it’s because you have so much time to think by yourself so your inner voice can be extra loud. Either way, it’s super easy to have ups and downs emotionally and feel like you’re in a rut sometimes, especially if your business is seasonal like wedding photography in Ohio. Today I’d like to share some tricks I use in my off-season to create my own momentum. Changing focus and investing yourself in something other than those negative voices will literally change your life and your business. Please use the comments section to let me know what tricks you use also! I’m always looking for a good life hack!
1) Ask For Reviews
I would say this is the one thing that helps most in owning a small business. Good reviews can help you emotionally feel good about where you’ve been and get you excited for what’s to come. It’s super great for your business and SEO. It’s also going to build an online trust-factor for your company. Reviews are the word-of-mouth you can trust from people you don’t know. I know I’m constantly looking up reviews for everything from gutter repair to restaurants to see how other peoples experiences were. If you think you did a great job for a client you love, there’s no harm in asking for them to share their feedback with the world. There are also review-based awards like “The Knot’s Best of Weddings” which you can proudly display and let those good reviews speak for themselves.
2) Write Yourself Notes
I’m addicted to my notes app- you know, the plain one that comes with your phone. It keeps all of my train of thought ramblings, my blog post ideas, and most importantly, an on-going to do list. I learned to become a list-maker when I was in elementary school and had trouble concentrating on homework. It has since been a fundamental part of everything I accomplish. I think the act of writing something down, aka taking it out of just the thought realm, brings a new life and certainty to it. It helps to clearly define a direction you’d like to go and makes that first step of making it become a reality. There’s a lot of great resources out there that can help you build your self note-writing skills.
I use the Passion Planner daily planner to develop clear broad paths I’d like to go in both my personal and professional life. This is 100% not an ad. I’m just letting you in on one of the game-changing tools I’ve used the last four years. So much of owning your own business is looking inward and figuring out what you really want to accomplish with your life and work. This little book gives you the step-by-step guide on how to pinpoint what your goals for the year should be. The creator of this planner believes in it so much that she even gives it away for free as a downloadable PDF. I have to say, I just love the covers of the books so I buy mine each year. It’s a little package of endless possibilities!
3) Write Loving and Thoughtful Blog Posts
This is such a great, challenging process that has filled my soul with such joy and appreciation. Blogging forces you to stop and dissect each shoot. What it meant, what that brief moment in time was like, and how it felt to be there. In a lot of ways, when I blog about a shoot I’m living it over in my mind which does a couple of things. It helps you remember the details better. Let’s face it, a lot of times you don’t know your subjects very well so blogging about them can sometimes feel overwhelming. What do I say about people I don’t really know that well? When you make it a practice to write about the experience, you’re almost building a muscle in your brain that can recall, describe and be more present in your everyday life. You start to notice things that maybe only people in intimate relationships tend to notice. Like the little squint someone might get when they’re genuinely smiling. I also try to use blog posts as love letters. Sometimes I see photographers gifting clients with actual gifts, and I suppose that depends on what your love language is (Google this if you haven’t heard about it). But my love language is Quality Time. Writing thoughtful and loving blog posts is my way of spending quality time and sharing love with people. This is the most genuine way I can relate to the outside world. Through blogging, I’m trying to continue to build a deep and meaningful relationships with my clients and let them know how much they mean to me.
4) Look At The Larger Picture And Not The Day-To-Day Slumps
Oh man, this is a big one that I often get caught up in. It’s in the nature of the business that you don’t get every wedding that comes through the door. Because of that, it can easily feel like the world is against you sometimes. When I start to feel like this, I’ve taken to crunching numbers, and often feel a lot better when I can visually see the upward trends I’ve been taking my business over the past few years. Keep track of the numbers when it comes to leads, consults and booked weddings. When you first start out, maybe the industry came easy to you and as you raise your prices, you find yourself booking less. Are you still making more money? If so, then consider it a success. This is a good trend that often can feel like a failure. You expect to book the same number of weddings at a higher price the moment you up your prices. Unfortunately, sometimes that can take time. How many weddings have you sold each year? If you shot a ton of weddings three years ago compared to what you have booked for this year, that can feel like a failure. If you dive in and see that you actually booked a record number of weddings last year but they were spread out over two years of shooting, then you’ll realize you’re still on an upward trend for selling. The key is to keep your eye on the big picture (pun totally intended).
Blog twice a week with at least 300 words about the shoot or an interesting topic, Instagram every day and repost all to Facebook. If you aren’t doing at least that, consider yourself having some homework to do. And no, I’m not the best at consistency either. The idea is present over perfect. Strive for these challenging goals. Sometimes social media can feel a lot larger and more of a task than it actually is. I know so many people who find blogging overwhelming. Posting to Instagram every day? I don’t even make my bed every day so how can I find the discipline for this? I think the key here is breaking everything down into manageable pieces and not feeling like you’re doing everything at once. For Instagram, I use the app “Preview“. You can easily plan future posts, make hashtag groupings, and move posts around so they look cohesive on the page together. For blogging, I break up my actual writing of it over the course of a week. I try to post Tuesdays and Thursdays. So on Monday, I’ll put the photo collage together for Tuesday’s post and on Tuesday I’ll write the text, and so on through the week. I’m not sold that Facebook is all that beneficial for social media anymore so I just use it to re-post content I’ve posted elsewhere.
I hope these few ideas help! Again, please use the comment section below to fill me in on your ideas! I’d love to make a communal thought dump on this page. XO Jess