IMG 3976 why I like engagement sessions

Do you naturally take great photographs? Do you look at the camera and immediately know what to do? No? Perfect, you’re just like everyone I’ve photographed. Each engagement session starts with a few caveats from the couple. Warning : we are not very pose-y, we don’t know what to do and I blink a lot in front of the camera. It doesn’t scare me. In fact, it’s probably why you hired me in the first place.

After over six years as a photographer of people (and couples specifically) I know how hard it is to be yourself. I know that because it’s true for me when I’m photographed. You need to have permission to laugh, to reminisce about your first date, to remember forever what it feels like to be held close in each others arms. That doesn’t always happen naturally – not because you aren’t in love – but because you just tore apart your closest changing your outfit last minute or were stuck in traffic on the way to the shoot. We all need to be invited to slow down, to take a deep breath and reflect on what it is that’s important.

Engagement sessions do that for us. They introduce us slowly – without the pressure of the wedding day – to the process of documenting our relationships.

Getting to know each other happens best in person, and I really want to get to know you. I want to make sure you are so comfortable having me at your wedding that you can greet me like a friend and know that I’ll take care of everything you are worried about. All of the other obvious benefits of engagement sessions still apply : experience being photographed helps so much on a wedding day, pictures can be taken in a different location and season then the wedding…. and you can easily bringing your dog along for a few shots.

It’s because of those things that I invite couples to plan for something fun. Think of it as a date you always wanted to go on, or maybe one that you always enjoy, and set the framework to start planning. This could mean spending an evening on a boat, walking around the city you call home, enjoying the scenery at a gorgeous estate, or shooting at your favorite restaurant. It can be complicated, it can be simple, but most of all it should be you.

Yesterday I photographed Jim and Dana (who you see above) and they are tying the knot this Saturday. Distance kept us from shooting this any sooner, but I don’t think the proximity to their wedding will make these images any less special. We took advantage of the tall grass and rocky rivers here in the country and captured some images that speak to the laid back nature of these two beautiful souls… and it was beautiful.

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plumbush chatauqua wedding mary dougherty photo01 Chautauqua Wedding at Plumbush Bed + Breakfast

This was no ordinary day. The hours spent planning for it and dreaming up every detail exceeded the preparation for perhaps any other day in Chelsea and Adam’s lives. Vintage handkerchiefs and carefully selected bridesmaids dresses – each in a different style and color – were surrounded by custom wedding bags and thoughtful letters from the bride. This Chautauqua wedding at Plumbush Bed + Breakfast began with the girls right at the house that they conveniently had access to for all of the weekend. The barn and tent had been decorated beautifully and were within a stones throw of each other. A giant game of Jenga awaited guests on the lawn as well as corn hole, custom drinks, and a family history through wedding photos. It was beautiful.

When the time was right, Adam waited outside and Chelsea walked out the front door to meet him. They began their wedding day – together – in those quiet moments, which were few and far between for the rest of the day. She was radiant and he was beaming and within the hour they pledged their love at the very church parents and grandparents had wed. In fact, they chose the date in part because it was the anniversary Adam’s grandparents also shared.

Adam and Chelsea, you two know how to throw a party, and make it look effortless. Thanks for being willing collaborators and for allowing me to document your wedding day. Enjoy these favorites and open the post to see a more complete look of this day.

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Invitations : Minted | Favors + Gifts : The Wedding Chicks | Dress : bought at Brides against Breast Cancer |  Veil : Veils by Roxanne | Equipment Rentals : Jamestown Awning | Linens : It’s Your Day | Caterer : Rowdy Rooster | Cake : Fifth Avenue Cake Works

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wedding invitation styling styling wedding invitations

I love paper goods and my brides do too. Hand written letters, deeply imprinted or just kissed letterpress, the most amazing collection of vintage stamps on your envelopes – I’ve seen it and I love styling wedding invitations to document them.

It all starts with that envelope, the one that contains the details of your day and invites them to join in. Everyone does this differently which is partly why I love seeing what people come up with. The other reason is… I just love paper. Call me crazy – “crazy!” I heard one of you shout – but the days I spent touching paper samples and deciding what to print on while I was a graphic designer have never left me. That’s really all I did back then… sit at my desk and sip iced coffee while deciding what beautiful things to use… I’m kidding! Most days as a designer (and a lot as a photographer) are locked behind your computer until you find ways to work outside of that box.

I guess this is one of those ways. Sure it has to be edited and blogged and posted and shared, but until I find someone to do that for me the escape to the tangible world is enough to keep me coming back.

Oh, and in case you’re looking for inspiration a few of my favorite invitations have recently come from : Bella Figura  |   Nota Bene  |  Minted – which is the one you see above!

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sherwood inn wedding skaneateles photo011 793x1024  Sherwood Inn Skaneateles Wedding

Skaneateles, New York held a lot of memories for Meghan, as a place her family would come to on special occasions and to mark certain events. Today it would be the place that she and Jeremy wed. With the lake out their front door at the Sherwood Inn a cool breeze drifted through an otherwise hot summer day. Meghan readied with her bridesmaids in monogramed fluffy robes and braided pearl necklaces, having their makeup perfected before they slipped into their dresses. She wore her grandmothers shoes, and a cascading bouquet filled with succulents and peonies accented her bridal look. Jeremy wore a classic tuxedo and met her at the front of the church as she walked with her father down the aisle. It was an elegant affair for a couple who continued to celebrate in style and honeymooned in France.

Take a look at some of my favorite images from this Sherwood Inn Skaneateles wedding and open the post to see a complete look at the day. Enjoy!

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Ana37 819x1024 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraits

For just over an hour I got to know Ana. We talked about school, her plans for college, and the difference between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist (one is an MD who is in school for 8 additional years, the other is an OD with 4 years of school). She plans to be the former, and follow in her dad’s footsteps. For now, she is finishing up high school, entering her senior year and applying to colleges. I love this time of life. Everything changes and everything is a possibility. For all the plans and hopes she shared I have no doubt that she will accomplish them.  I can’t wait to see where the future takes Ana and loved getting the chance to photograph her in my nearby backyard : Letchworth State Park.letchworth senior portrait02 875x617 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait03 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait04 875x617 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait05 875x875 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait06 875x617 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait07 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait08 875x617 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait09 875x617 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait10 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraitsletchworth senior portrait11 875x617 Letchworth State Park | Senior Portraits

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