I'm mthree. Those are my initials. Always have been, and thanks to a hubby with a "M" last name; always will be.

I've been a designer for over ten years, I was an animator and a filmmaker once, I was a bride before I was a photographer, I'm a new business owner, but I've always been an artist.

You can get a glimpse of where I've been, a better look at where I am and a peek at where I'm going right here.

You gotta S -T-R-E-T-C-H your browser window to see the BIG pictures...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Eagles Ballroom

I know I promised a post with pictures today - but the day is almost over and I'm just now able to sit down and blog - so I'm saving that post for tomorrow morning and giving you this one instead. It has a link to some really cool pictures though. I know, I've been a bad little blogger this week. I will endeavor to shape up.

So tonight hubby and I went to the Kid Rock Concert at the Eagles Ballroom. Great concert - a nice stripped down version (pun intended) of his larger stadium shows that really allowed the music and performance to take the lead, not some of the distractions he has been pumping them full with in recent years. Hubby estimates we have been to about 8 or 9 of his shows (in four different states), and I would count this in the top three, he would not, for those of you who care. Reverend Run also appeared, with great results. But the real beef of this post is the ballroom itself.

Have you seen this place? I've been to dozens of concerts here (well almost dozens) and each time I am taken by the beauty that this ballroom and the whole building must have once possessed. In the dim and jazzy lighting of a concert, you can easily be taken in by the proportions and scale of everything all around you. It is an awesome venue for a concert, no doubt, and I will forever be mesmerized by the juxtaposition of the elegant vintage ballroom with hard rock concert. But what has been done to this venue since it's hey-day really is sad.

Hubby and I actually considered the Eagles Ballroom for our wedding reception. By considered, I mean it was one on a short list of possibly acceptable Milwaukee venues that could comfortably hold 400 people and that wasn't a hotel or banquet hall. Really, there are few choices with these parameters. One step inside this building in daylight though and all the magic is gone in a flash. It is garish - bright purples and gold paint sloppily cover up what was once beautiful plasterwork and carved wood mouldings. All the outer surfaces are covered in flat black and the floors and carpets are stained and spotted with old, mashed in gum. The bars are just 4x8 sheets of plywood screwed together and painted black. Not to mention, the place has a bit of a permanent odor. It is sad really, because I love to stand there during a concert and imagine what it must have been like once. And if it were even half as awesome as it once was - it could easily be one of Milwaukee's premiere event venues. I know its current life as a concert venue is a big part of why the building even still stands proubably, but it is sad to see something so intregal to our city's heritage treated with disrespect and history ignored.

While looking for pictures for this post - I came across this fantastic little site. I can't pull the pictures off to post here, so you will have to go there yourself - but there are about 20 or so fantastic historical photos of what the ballroom was like orginally. Some are funny, most are gorgeous. Apparently there was once a pool, bowling alley (which you can still see traces of on the floor of the Rave downstairs) and barber shop in there. And they seemed to have enjoyed seeing how many people they could line up neatly in the massive ballroom.

With the Ambassador Hotel across the street cleaning up and renovating their act and Marquette marching its progression down Wisconsin further, I have to wonder if the Eagles Ballroom will ever follow suit and restore some of its former grandeur.
I hope so. It was amazing once, and you can still catch glimpses of that former life now, hopefully it won't all get covered up in black paint and gum. I think there could be a fine balance to be found between suitable for concerts and perfect for special events such as weddings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wisconsin Bride

If Wisconsin has a fabulous wedding magazine - this is it: Wisconsin Bride. Beautiful, well edited and chock full of actual, real, local information; I know I loved this magazine as a bride, and I continue to love it as a wedding professional. The cover featured above is on newstands now. The fashion photography in here is gorgeous - so many beautiful settings, styles and compositions. There is an article about Trashing the Dress, which was fun, but I think it misses the mark a bit creatively.

This magazine is also well known for it's "Best of XXXX (Year)" contests. Each year they take nominations and votes from the general public (you!) and compile them to award their "Best of" awards. The voting for 2008 is underway. I know I don't stand a chance in winning, but it would be nice to be on the radar screen. If you would like to cast your vote for any or all of the categories - here is the link. Just a little something fun to do on this dreary, icy day. Nominate everyone you feel served you well for your wedding, who you have heard great things about or who you are thrilled with so far in your planning. There are so many great vendors out there that don't get recognition. Of course, if you would like to add me to that nomination, I would be thrilled!

I know I promised a post with a photo today (does the cover above not count?) I'll try for something more substantial tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

It is Miscellaneous Monday. This style post is inspired by the uber-fabulous Becker, so I can't take full credit. But Monday is a good day to have a post about a lot of little tiny things:

Did anyone out there see the Miss America Pageant? (Miss Wisconsin was in the top 10) It was so, so different this year - in some good ways and in some bad ways. As a former participant in this program I was sad to see some of the "Paris Hiltonizing" they were trying to instill and happy to see some of the realness and spark they were trying to inject into it. Sad to see a truly sub-par singer win, and sadder still to see that all three dancers did routines that were polished but technically quite basic. Talent was always the hardest part of the competition for me, and most of my tap routines were technically more difficult than anything I saw on the broadcast. The saddest part of all was we only got one question to measure the intelligence and poise of these women by. No interview, no discussions - not what I thought Miss A was about. Hmmm.


I'm excited for the Super Bowl. I know we are all recovering from the Packer's devestating loss, but the commercials are always worth sitting through the game - AND - this year Tom Petty will be performing the half-time show, which is freakin' awesome.


Lost starts this week. I can not express how excited this is making me. It has been a long, long drought with no Lost. Hubby and I have a standing date with two friends for "Lost night" - we take turns making dinner and watch the show together with all of us searching for subcontext clues and pausing, rewinding and studying each episode. I realize this is sounding fairly nerdy. I don't care. And this week we are being rewarded for our patience with 2 full hours!


I cashed in one of my birthday gifts this weekend and finally got to see WICKED in Chicago. It was so amazingly good. The sets were intricate and beautiful, the staging breathtaking, and the performances were top notch. Especially the woman who played Elphaba (the wicked witch) - her voice was unbelieveable. The theater was awesome too, old and so amazingly ornate, it really suited the show. Hubby and I had a great time - thanks to mom and dad and my sister and brother-in-law for the wonderful gift!


Hubby and I have tickets to see Kid Rock this week - woot!


I have a uber-fun photo shoot to look forward to before the Super Bowl this Sunday. Watch for a post about it next week, but it has to do with Monica and The White Box.


I promise a post with pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What You Can Do (Part 3)

This is another entry in my continuing series on what you can do to help make your photography spectacular. All of these posts are merely suggestions and not requirements. You'll have beautiful and wonderful photography from me regardless. But take some of these things into account and your investment will have much larger dividends. I'm not a magician and some of these suggestions can make a huge difference in how stunning your photographs can be. If you want to see the other installments in this series, look to the post organizer on the right side of the page and choose the one labeled "What You Can Do".

What you can do: Hire a Professional Makeup Artist

Even if you are really great at doing your own makeup, hire someone professional. Why? Let me itemize the reasons:

-Because a professional knows how to do your makeup not only for real-life beauty but also so that the camera interprets your face correctly. There is a certain amount of contouring, etc that can be done (and imperceptibly for real-life viewing) that will make you look that much more fabulous on film (or in my case, pixels).

-They are also able to gage just how much makeup you need for photographs. Your normal everyday amount is, more times than not, going to leave you looking a bit washed out in photos. It is similar to that saying "the camera adds ten pounds", so actresses are all at least ten pounds underweight. Well, the camera also removes a layer of makeup on most occasions, so you have to wear a little more to have your features accentuated correctly. (this is more true of situations where the flash may be used, or lighting may affect the shot)

-Many makeup brands, particularly foundations and concealers, contain ingredients that will reflect light (like a flash at your reception, even when it is bounced) and make your face look flat as a pancake. A good makeup artist knows which brands to use to avoid this. On the same accord, a foundation that you think makes you look "tan" will look much too dark and unnatural on camera.

-Your favorite shimmer shadow that you wear to go out at night will reflect light and not look so great on your wedding day.
I'm as guilty as anyone here - I own almost exclusively eyeshadow with shimmer, but on my wedding day I defaulted to the
makeup artist's choices and it looked great.

-Professional makeup has staying power. You are likely to cry, sweat, dance, be hugged more than you have collectively in your entire life and have cake smashed into your face. A good professional makeup job will stand up to all of this, and you'll still look great at the end of the night.

-There are a number of non-photography reasons to get a pro to do your makeup, if you are interested, J.Cricket did a great job of pointing them out here.

There are several very good local makeup artists available to brides on location at their getting ready space, or in salons. If you need some recommendations, feel free to ask.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Website Under Construction

I've had just about as much as I can take with hosting, domains, html, servers, redirects and about all other internet gobbledygook today.

There is a new and fabulous Mthree Studio site on its way. I'm endeavoring hard right now to redirect everyone to the old site while I work on the new one, but there is no telling how long this might take to fix.

So, if you are wanting to see my site, please go to www.mthreestudios.com

Thanks everyone for your patience!

**Update** I figured it out. There is a hold page there now, it is far from fabulous, but I swear the new one will be worth the mundane-ness of this hold page.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I had a different post planned today, but in my morning blog reading I came across this clip on Dane Sander's blog. It is so remarkable and it made me tear up watching it. You can just see the determination and hardwork falling out of this man as he performs. It is an accomplishment hard earned over years of cultivating and growing a talent that just couldn't be supressed. Dane really puts it so much better - but it is the work we do behind the scenes, when no one is looking or giving us credit that allows us to do the great things that get noticed. It is so true of many things in life - success is in the preparation. I know anything that I have done really well in my life has taken truckloads of preparatory work to get there, that no one really saw. I wonder how well we could do things like service our clients if we just committed to putting in the time in the trenches?

Happy Tuesday and enjoy the clip!

Oh, and by the way, he won the contest and has his own CD now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The New Rules of Bridal Shows

This post is inspired by Terrica's "New Rules Fridays" and "Why you won't hire us" posts, except that I have tweaked it to apply to Bridal Shows. Monica over at The White Box is doing a sister post with me today, so be sure to check hers out too.

In the month of January I have already attended three bridal shows. In the past three years that number is much higher, as I attended as a maid of honor for my sister's wedding and then as a bride myself. But this year, I got to attend as a vendor (who didn't have a booth) and really look critically at was was going on. Since I'm newer to the local industry, I went largely unrecognized by most vendors. So they approached me like they would any bride until I stopped their pitch short to mention I am a photographer (I did not pretend to be a bride, nor did I promote myself to the brides present). How they reacted after that was a mixed bag (and the subject of another post possibly). But the point is I got to walk thru the shows as a bride would see them, except with the experience of having already been married and a perspective from the other side as a vendor myself. What I found was very interesting. And very appalling. I took pictures of the most laughable stuff, but I just don't have the heart to post them. Sorry.

Seriously, do brides want to be pandered to in this way? I don't know why I wasn't more offended as a bride, but I was certainly offended as vendor for my brides. Seriously, there has got to be a better way to showcase local vendors without insulting the intelligence of every area bride. Mind you, there were fabulous booths and vendors at each show and they did a wonderful job of treating the show like it was a great opportunity to get exposure, meet new clients and show off their creativity and professionalism. It is not those people who I am talking about. I just don't think a lot of vendors give brides enough credit. What follows is a combination of many observations over the years, written from the perspective of a bride. Please if you have any "New Rules for Bridal Shows" you would like to add, please leave them in the comment box!

So, For the Vendors:

1. Do not hawk to me like you are a cell-phone salesperson in the mall. I don't like it there, and it certainly isn't going to make me want to hire you for my wedding. If I am interested in your booth, I will come over and talk to you - I promise.

2. Sticking your arm out to put your brochure in my face will likely get an equally adverse reaction. Approach me, introduce yourself, even ask if I am looking for xxxx type of vendor. But come on, shoving a brochure in front of me?

3. Stop hiding your pricing! Brides and their entourages come to these events not only to meet the vendors but also to gather all the pricing research they can. When I see you go into your secret vault behind the tiny table in the back corner, scan your retinas and chant a series of secret passwords before you can hand me any significant information, my opinion only starts to sink. What are you hiding? Are you afraid that some one else in your field will find out how much you are or aren't charging? Do you not want potential clients to know how much you charge for your services? Why not? Stand behind your prices proudly people! This should not be secret information. If you aren't confident your pricing is good, then you need to work on it some more.

4. The flip side of number three - I came here to meet you, get a feel for your personality, hear what you offer in a wedding experience. Do not hand me your pricing and then walk away or turn to the next bride. If that was all I wanted, and all you wanted to offer me by coming to this show, then skip the show and put it on your website.

5. Please, please, please do not serve seafood at your booth - I can smell you two aisles away - and it isn't a "OOOooo, I wonder who belongs to the smell?" reaction, it is a "Ugh! >gag< ::covering my nose:: Where is that smell coming from?" reaction.

6. Your somewhat covert glances at my ring to see what "level" bride I am are absolutely noticed by me and are offensive. I could have a 100,000 budget and have been given a sentimental heirloom ring for my engagement. Or I could be on a shoestring budget and my fiance thought it prudent to take out a 30,000 line of credit to buy me a whopper of a ring. It just isn't a good barometer.

7. A partial continuation of number four - Be personable. Seriously, you paid $$$ bucks to have a booth, spent even more on the booth setup and marketing materials and gave up your entire weekend to stand in said booth, and when I approach you and am interested you have nothing to say?

8. Yes, I will assume that if you are dressed sloppily here at the show that you will do the same for my wedding day.

9. Rest assured that if you are ignoring my presence in your booth and all of my ways to look obviously interested because you are in a fascinating conversation with the vendor next door - I will not be hiring you -- or that other vendor. And I will probably tell all my bride friends about how snobby you were too.

10. I will not be buying the lingerie for my big day here today, no matter how fabulous your model looks in it. And no, I don't want to touch it, and please do not hold it up to my body. That is all I'm going to say about that.

11. No, I will not be handing over my most prized possession - my engagement ring - to you so that you can drop it into your organic, chemical -free green goo to make it "sparkle". Next booth please.

12. No, I do not want to step behind the flimsy curtain you have duct-taped up in the corner of your booth and try on that dress. I did not shave appropriately, nor wear the right type of undergarment for testing dresses today and would prefer not to expose such things to half of greater Milwaukee. If I like the dress, I promise I will come into your store and try it on.

13. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT follow me into a limo or bus and close the door behind you, especially if you are a male. It is creepy and scary. I am happy to look at said vehicle with whomever else would also like to step on board after me. I do not need a private tour.

14. If your booth looks like it was recycled from your teenager's high school play I am not going to be impressed.

15. I have come to your booth, expressed interest in your product/service, mentioned that I have seen it elsewhere at a friends wedding and heard many good things about you. Yet you continue to smile at me with a vapid expression, stand between me and your samples so that I can not look at them and then you dismiss me and pull a new bride out of the aisle to talk with. This one I just don't get.


1.The Bride sticker has got to go. It is like a giant beacon to vendors to attack. DJs in particular are excellent at sniffing this out. Why can't brides walk the ballroom floor without this annoying label emblazoned on their shoulder? Have you ever noticed how many vendors will only look for the sticker and only talk to the labeled "brides"? If they have brought someone with them, they are probably worth addressing as well, as the bride values their opinion and impressions.

2. Edit your vendors. Not saying you have to be exclusive - but did you know that the "free vacation contest" in that booth over there is really just a way to get a mailing list for credit card offers and condo time shares? Don't be so greedy that you are letting just everyone into the show.

3. Balance your vendors. As a bride, I want to be able to come to the show and get information I am looking for. That will be different for all brides, each will have different types of vendors they are looking for. Having 10 photographers and just one or two of every other category is not only annoying to the brides, but to the vendors as well.

4. Don't allow your vendors to pack up early. No lie, Monica and I sat down to take in the fashion show at a bridal show this weekend and after being told by the MC of the fabulous vendors that contributed to the show and that we should go check out their booths at the end of the show, we got up to do so only to find "each and every" booth in the place half dismantled and packing up. The show wasn't scheduled to be over for a good twenty minutes.

5. Think about the music you are playing during the fashion show - it is great to showcase a local DJ, but when "Sexy Back" and "Let's Get it on" comes on, and I have to cover my five year old niece's ears, I'm not pleased.

6. Have a coat check. Every single one of these shows is in the dead of winter. We arrive, pay our $8 to get in, are labeled with a sticker, handed a shopping bag and several publications to carry around and inevitably have our coats on our arms. This leaves no hands free to collect vendor's materials, shake a hand or much less try the sample cake. I will gladly pay a dollar or two to the coat check guy - please make him available.

7. Have someone at the entrance to the show who knows what is going on. "nuff said.

Just imagine if all of the wedding vendors out there stepped it up a notch. Every wedding would benefit and the class level for all would be higher. Hmmmm......

Friday, January 18, 2008


Sorry dear readers, no fascinating posts today - I'm much too busy with about five different simultaneous graphic design jobs and a bunch of Mthree needs. I do have time for a quick "Miscellaneous Friday" post, in other words - all my thoughts at random in list form.

1. Cheyenne found a good home in about 24 hours. Thanks to all who looked, mentioned, notified and otherwise helped her out. She really is a good puppy and deserves a great family. Her story is a good lesson about really researching the breed you want to adopt before you do so. It is only fair.

2. My older sister set a wedding date for August! I'm so excited for her and her fiance. It will be a nice break in the middle of the busy wedding season to attend one. Though the chances of me leaving my camera at home are between nil and zero. And this means that one of us girls has gotten married every year for three years in a row. Whew! Our poor parents! It has been like constant weddings back to back...to back.

3. If you haven't read the huge announcement that J.Cricket made this week - get yourself over to The White Box. Wedding
Planning in Milwaukee will never be the same!

4. I'll be at the Wedding Planner and Guide Show on Saturday and the Save the Date Show on Sunday - just as a spectator, but
if you are there too and see me, please say hello!

5. How cool is all the new stuff Apple announced this week? I saw one blogger (sorry don't remember who) who said something like "As usual, Steve Jobs left the stage and left us all with our mouths hanging open". So true. Hubby saw some of his presentation and apparently he walked onto stage with the new macbook air in a manilla envelope like it was nothing. Presentation - they have that so figured out. I've been an apple fan since about elementary school, but it still astounds me how they have changed life as we know it again and again. And I'm so glad they didn't introduce a new powerbook or iphone that would make mine instantly obsolete.

6. This one should be obvious - GO PACK!

Have a great weekend all! See you come Monday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trash the Dress 2 - Installment 5 - Behind the Scenes

This will be the last post about this shoot - I've got other stuff to talk about, I swear.

I've always loved a good behind the scenes picture, book, or story. Knowing how something was made is completely fascinating to me. I have been entranced many a Saturday afternoon by that show "How it's Made" and the segment on Mr. Rogers where he put the video on the train and we got to see how they make bubblegum was always one of my favorites. My bookshelf is filled with behind the scenes type of books on various films and shows. I think this was a big reason why I got a Master's degree in Animation and Film. I wanted to know how they do it. Of course, now I know, and I've made some myself too. And I LOVE the process of all artmaking - it is food for the soul. A photoshoot is no different. And lest you think it is all just putting people in good light and pushing the shutter (which is how it should feel if you are my client), there is much more that goes into a photo shoot like the Trash the Dress Sessions.

On Judy and Jeremy's shoot I had my trusty assistant Harmony with and I handed her hubby's Point and Shoot to capture some behind the scenes shots. I'm all over the place on a shoot like this and I come home utterly filthy, but it is always worth it. And any really fantastic shot takes some work on my part. And Harmony worked hard too - she was in the middle of a cold and it was a chilly 40 some degrees that day and I'm so appreciative that she powered thru.

Here is a collage of shots Harmony took of me working. See a description below it.

In the top left corner is a shot taken right after I said to Harmony "Make sure I don't fall into the water, okay?" Mind you, Harmony was at least six feet above us on the track platform and could have done absolutely nothing to help me. But my camera wasn't around my neck here so that if I did fall in I could throw it onto the concrete and save it from a watery death - I do have my priorities in order, see? I think the shot on the top right is when we discovered Harmony is afraid of heights as I leaned fearlessly over the ledge to get a sweet shot. I'm pretty fearless in general, which I think is a good quality to have as a photographer. Just under that is me and Judy climbing back up onto the track platform (her doing so in a full ballgown of course). At the bottom is on the train platform obviously, shortly after I realized one misstep could mean a broken ankle. And yet, we continued... The pic in the middle on the left is me taking this shot I think:

These men in a black SUV suddenly started following us, and then this guy stands up thru the sunroof and starts filming us. Crazy! Who knew we were this interesting? He didn't say anything, but I did get his liscense plate just in case. He had a pretty serious camera though, so I'm thinking not just some random dude. We attracted a lot of this sort of attention actually, a MIAD student also stole a few shots.

And finally, here is Harmony helping make that veil behave and do what we want it to. The top one meant she had to ignore the water she could see between the railroad ties below her and bravely confront that fear of heights. Gold Star Assistant, I tell you.

We also layed down on countless streets, stood in the middle of the street (Harmony stopping traffic), climbed a cherry picker, explored abandoned wearhouses, ran on very unstable loading platforms, crouched down in brambles, climbed trees, hung from girders, and played with a blow-up Bucky Badger. (Some of these things were done by Jeremy). When you are up for anything, anything can happen.

And for all those photographers out there who might be reading - yep, that's a Shootsac by the uber-fabulous Jessica Claire I'm carrying. It is the most fabulous photography bag ever. It was one of the first purchases I made for my company and I wouldn't shoot with out it. As you can see, I'm not particularly careful - and yet it keeps all my lenses safe, secure and close at hand for quick change-ups. I don't have any of the beautiful covers for it yet - I rock it in just plain black.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dear old Dad's birthday. Hard to believe, but he is 69 today. He has always owned his age fairly well, though no one has ever believed he is as old as the numbers say. We have kept him young I guess. We are all getting together tomorrow night as a family to celebrate.

All my life I remember that he was my father first, but he was also always my friend. I call my Dad just to chat sometimes - and I am grateful I have that kind of relationship with both of my parents actually. He is a true optimist and delights in the simple pleasures of life (like Diet Pepsi right out of the can) and lives fully that adage of "the key to happiness isn't getting what you want, it is wanting what you already have". I hope we have many more birthdays ahead of us to celebrate.

Here is a picture of us when I was little, on a random Christmas morning:

And on my wedding day:

(photo by Heather Cook Elliott)

Happy Birthday Dad!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Help Cheyanne find a new home!

I'm tapping into the power of the blog and all of your collective networks.

This is Cheyanne. She is my little sister's former dog. She is wonderful, sweet and highly energetic. My sister had to give her up because she can't be at home enough with her to give her the attention she deserves. Her new family has had her for three months, and unfortunately the other (previous) dogs in that family aren't getting along with Cheyanne. So, she needs a new home. If you, or anyone you know is thinking of adopting a dog, please forward this post to them. My sister is trying to help the new family find her a new home. All of the important information is below:

Breed: Puggle
Sex: Female
Spayed, up to date on all shots and vaccinations
Age: 1 year, 3 months
Size: Medium size, about 20-25 pounds.

Loves to play, run outside, great with kids, highly energetic. The ideal home would be one where someone is home a good deal of the time, (she gets bored when left in her crate for long extended periods), doesn't have any other dogs or cats and is prepared to provide her with the exercise she needs. This dog has a lot of energy to burn and needs to be played with and walked every day. The pictures are a little old, she is a little bigger than that now.

Please email katiejensen1982@yahoo.com for more information.
Thanks everyone.

Trash the Dress 2 - Installment 4 - Just Beautiful Portraits

We now return to our regularly scheduled Trash the Dress programming.
Here is a collection of shots that I'm labeling "Just Beautiful Portraits" because I just think they are, and they didn't really fall into any other categories. Well, I guess I could have made up some more categories, but then this blog would have been in danger of becoming a Trash the Dress blog. So this post is a big one, with all the remaining shots I wanted to share. The only installment left now is "Behind the Scenes". There are a variety of locations and setups in this group. The last place we stopped was two abandoned warehouses where we played around in the alley in-between them (like anyone would, right?). It was super dark by then so it all has a different feel to it. Jeremy even ventured into one of the buildings pretty much into pitch darkness, much against Judy's pleas. This is also where I infamously injured my knee rather seriously with a super big thorn.

Don't forget to stretch your browsers - and enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What You can do (Part 2)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled TTD posts for a "What You Can Do to make your Photography Better" post. It's been awhile since I've done one of these, but I've been planning a few, this one in particular, for awhile. As always, these posts are meant as educational, and all are ways you can help me (or any photographer) take even better pictures for you. If you don't do any of these, you will still have great pictures, because I am equipped to handle these situations. But do take some of this advice and you can expect a super happy photographer who will hand you stunning photos that take your breath away.

Last night I met with a potential client who inspired me to post on this particular "What you can do" immediately. In every consultation, I ask a lot of questions about the couple's plans for their wedding day. And last night this bride mentioned, almost off-handily, that she has hired a lighting designer for her reception. I discuss lighting with all of my clients, but this is the first time a client valued it enough to already be three steps ahead of me. I got seriously excited about this one aspect of this wedding because it means I can really get some amazing shots that are going to positively sparkle with personality.

What you can do: Think Critically about your Lighting.
"My venue has lights, and they said they can dim them for us" - that is what the majority of you are thinking. Let me tell you, 90% of the really stunning wedding pictures you have seen and love are that great because of lighting. Great lighting in the space, and a photographer who knows how to use it. And a huge portion of your day - your reception- occurs in a venue where you have complete control over the lighting if you want to. Your ceremony may be outside, or in a church (where likely you have no control, but there is natural light windows) and natural light is fantabulous to work with-I'll choose that over all else in fact. But at night, during your reception the lights are low, maybe your DJ or Band has some lighting set up, but for the most part, the rest of the space is dark and flat.
You know when you walk into a really great restaurant or club and a feeling takes you over that this is something special, and inside you go "Ooooo". That happens because the mood and tone have been set very deliberately with lighting. Great lighting can enhance every one's perception and experience. It can hide things you aren't crazy about and direct attention where you want it. Think about your venue for a moment - unless you chose a knock-down architecturally amazing space, it could probably use a little help. Not crazy about the mauve-ish walls? Add colored light to change the tone. Dealing with what is essentially a big windowless box? Add some lighting and suddenly your space has dimension. I can guarantee you that the big fancy chandeliers hanging from the ceiling aren't going to be enough to transform the space. Lighting is NOT only for those eligible for "Platinum Weddings" ! The rest of us can have amazingly lit weddings too. I swear.
Hiring a lighting designer isn't as expensive as you would think and the value it adds to your look can be tremendous. You can get away with much simpler linens and centerpieces if you have lit the space beautifully. And that is just the basics. Pin-spot your cake for high drama. Add a monogrammed gobo light to your dance floor for a signature look sure to get noticed. Let the color change from dinner to dancing time. Project a beautiful silhouette on your plain tent walls to transform the feel.
The possibilities, if you are open to them, are endless. It doesn't cost you anything to get a quote. "Light My Wedding" has a really great article detailing some of the possibilities. Click Here to read it.
Some examples:

So say you do get a quote and it just won't fit in your already tapped-out budget. Now what? Candles people. Lots and lots of candles. I can testify this works with experience - for my own wedding we had over 700 candles. Everything that stood still had a candle on it, and the effect was gorgeous. Surfaces glowed, people were surrounded in some of the most flattering light available and the romance factor was high. I have also seen couples use Christmas lights or Chinese lanterns in very smart ways to elevate the wow factor. Here is some inspiration from around the Internet:

Still not convinced? Think about when you and your friends are out having fun - you look around on the dance floor or at the bar and everyone looks great. Then you get home and look in the mirror - and ugh, how could you have thought you looked good? The lights in your bathroom are usually harsh, not flattering. The lighting in that club - flattering. (The same holds true for just about any dressing room - fluorescent lighting is not your friend) At the very least make sure your DJ or Band comes with a lighting package of their own. I can do a lot with a spotlight and/or a well used disco ball.

Happy Planning!

(pictures are from Stortz Lighting, The Lighting Guy, TRLEvents, Light my Wedding, Bentley Meeker, Get-Light)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Trash the Dress 2 - Installment 3 - Just Fun

You might think we spent the entire session recreating all of our best America's Top Model poses, but we actually spent a good portion of it laughing. Jeremy is a ham and it shows. Here is a collection of all the fun and funny results:

Doesn't just about every girl have this look for when her guy is being totally silly?

I think I said "Try to look cool". I wonder if people still use that word...

Like I said, Jeremy was up to any challenge:

Including jumping in a dumpster (entirely his idea). Judy was going to join him, and she got up the ladder but the moment she saw what was really in there - she quickly changed her mind. So they kissed:

Do we ever get tired of the chairs in front of Design Within Reach?

I think we have two more installments left. "Simply beautiful portraits" and "Behind the Scenes".
Stay tuned!