I love doing this post every year because I love going back through all my pictures (mostly on my phone) and seeing where and how I worked the past year. I love to look at the behind the scenes pictures and then think about the pictures that resulted. I think it’s a great practice to review what went well in the past year and what could be improved. So for the 2020 Behind the Scenes blog post I have actually gone through and paired the image that resulted from the 2020 behind the scenes image! I’m also going to link to the blog posts of the original images so you can read more about it or look at more pictures from the event! 🙂
Our first wedding of 2020 was for my roomie from PSU, Carrie and her husband Nate. It was in upstate New York by the Finger Lakes. You can view Carrie + Nate’s Wedding here!
I’ve created a list for packing for weddings that I always use and I update each year – this is a positive practice that definitely makes sure I don’t miss anything! Ben carries most of my gear during a wedding day when he is with me, but I had just had a herniated disc replacement surgery 6 weeks earlier and so he was really cautious over what I carried.
Here’s our first image of me working! There are 3 things to note:
1. When I enter the house for detail shots and getting ready, I always am looking for a well lit area (by windows) and a nice plain and neat area. In this case I also knew Carrie + Nate’s colors were blue and gray so this little hallway was perfect with lots of light!
2. Do you see how Ben MacGyvered the hanger to hang with a rubber band? I have a whole slew of things I bring with me on a wedding to MacGyver whatever I may need to and I have used most of those things!
3. Since I had to limit how much I carried on my shoulders, I went from carrying my ShootSac (which I love) to a ThinkTank belt with two pouches: 1) Pro Speed Belt V3.0 and 2) 2-Skin Changer Pop Down V3.0. (I love that I can fit a lot in the pouch and that I can unzip the bottom of the pouches to make them deeper for carrying longer lenses or flashes. Also there’s velcro on the pouches, but you “silence” the velcro by pulling another velcro tab down. This works great during ceremonies when you need to be as quiet as possible.) I was worried that the belt system would cause my hips and back to hurt, but as long as the belt is tight, there doesn’t seem to be a problem. Also in the distance of the photo you’ll see what looks like a black suitcase, that’s my ThinkTank Airport Takeoff that houses my main camera bodies, lenses, flashes, and a bunch of accessories. I swear by it because it rolls like a suitcase and I have bags that actually slide on top of the handle to make for easy carrying (As you can see Ben using it in the above photo.).
I frequently crouch and bend into small places to get the perfect picture, especially if the light is perfect.
I try to always leave time when I get to the ceremony to strategize and get our settings ready for the ceremony processional. Once the groom comes down and starts the processional it goes quick! Ben was my 2nd photographer since we had to travel for this wedding. Here he’s standing where would Carrie walk down the aisle with her dad so I could get a test shot.
And here I’m standing where Nate would eventually stand so Ben could get his test shot.
Note: This wedding was on February 28, 2020 so before Covid. However, Carrie + Nate had a small wedding and so they streamed it for friends and family to watch. Some of our PSU friends were watching it and they took pictures whenever I stepped into the video…whoops! But you can see the images that resulted below these two video images.
This is a side-by-side comparison of a photo I took on my phone and then one I took on my camera so you can see how much better the quality is.
I felt so bad, it was in the 20’s and we were by a lake so it was windy, but the bridal party came outside for pictures. I was in my long coat and changed into snow boots, but in all fairness the bridal party took turns outside and I was out there the whole time. haha
Once Ben and I got to the reception we once again strategized which lenses we’d be using during the reception so we didn’t end up with similar shots. (And there I am doing a major lean to get a picture instead of just taking a step forward.)
I don’t know what it is about Ben, but he always ends up making friends with the kids! (I use that to my advantage during family sessions.) He’s 6’1″ so you’d think he’d be a giant to them, but I’ve seen it time and time again where kids want to hang out with him.
Another side-by-side of the picture I took with my phone and the one I took on my camera.
I know Carrie was my roommate in college so it was easier at this wedding, but one of my favorite parts of weddings is getting to know the family and friends, how they’re all related, and slowly slipping into where I feel like more of a guest than the photographer.
Spark! I had a goal of going to Spark more in 2020. It’s a group of Christian photographers and some creatives that get together once a week in New Jersey (we always love new members!). Unfortunately it’s an hour away (and my neck doesn’t do so great with long drives) so my goal was to try to go once a month.
However with Covid, Spark was moved to Zoom for a couple of months. It’s definitely not the same as being in person, but I loved that I could go almost every week!
I was doing a little Instagram challenge and I just think it’s funny because this is the image that I would like you to think of when you think of me working in my office. It’s clean, organized, I look cute, and I have my hair and makeup done.
But this is real life! I stay in my pajamas and my hot pink robe so long that sometimes it’s not worth changing out of since I’m just going to change back into it in a couple of hours. My desk is a mess with papers, drinks I’ve finished and I’m usually watching something on my iPad, like Friends. The one common denominator is that I love to have real flowers in a vase on my desk.
I haven’t done the blog yet (On my to do list!), but whenever I get in an album that I designed and ordered for one of my couples I love to photograph it. Not just the cover, I photograph every spread. My set up is anything but fancy and I have to do it during a certain time of day when the sun come through the window the right way, but it’s my make-shift studio and it works.
Zoom Chat Lighting Tip: If possible, have window light on your face rather than behind you. In my office I have a window on the left hand side of my desk. For years I’ve had my laptop on the right side. When I Zoom chat I obviously have to look at my laptop since it has the camera, not my big screen. Well that meant the window was behind me on all my video chats so my face would be dark and the window behind me would be blown out (really white). So I switched my laptop to the left side of the big screen (I mainly work off my big screen so that has to stay center.), that way my face is now pointed more towards the window light and I get a well lit video for video chatting! Bonus: Since I’m right handed, I have more room for my elbow on my desk now when I write!
After my sister, Maddy’s baby shower we did some maternity pictures around my parents’ house. (If I lived in Pittsburgh I’d be using my parents’ yard for pictures all the time!) You can see the beautiful picture that resulted from the BTS shot, she was glowing! Here’s Maddy’s Pittsburgh maternity pictures!
On our way home from Maddy’s baby shower we stopped to meet our newest niece, Evelyn! We did a family newborn session with Ben’s brother Matt, our sister-in-law Laura, and our 3 nieces! This was also my first session wearing a mask!
I love watching Ben with his nieces and nephews, he’s so good with kids! He kept Evy happy while I set up the shot on the right.
I love when I see family, friends, and past couples or families print their pictures and put them in frames around their house! Do you see Paul looking up at his newborn pictures on the left? And on the right are pictures from Chloe’s maternity and newborn session (Matt + Laura’s 2nd daughter).
2020, the year of the masks!! I was thankful to have N95 masks, but man do they leave some nice imprints on your face!
My best friend, Kate was due in August so we stopped by to see them and do a family maternity session on our way out to Pittsburgh to meet my newest nephew. Since we were going to be around a newborn, Ben and I took extra precautions with keeping a safe distance and wearing masks.
I hadn’t seen Kate and her family in over a year because they were living overseas so it took everything in me not to hug them!! I still haven’t actually hugged them! So sad!
I never posted my nephew, Ford’s newborn session. But here’s a little BTS of my sister Maddy calming him down so we could get a Christmas picture in July! (Also look at him hugging her back! So sweet!)
While I was in Pittsburgh, I also did some pictures of my best friend, Jess’s grandparents. I just really felt like I was meant to take some pictures for them. I have to say, I love capturing love that has lasted for so long and weathered many years. It is just so special! I would love to photograph more sessions like this with elderly parents or grandparents that have made it through the many years of marriage.
If you can tell on the left, I kept a very far distance from them while I photographed them and wore a mask. Thank goodness for zoom lenses, it looks like I was right in front of them!
In August I decided to do mini sessions in the summer for the first time! Some of my past families had added new family members and I just felt like it was a time when people wanted family pictures because they had made it through so much with the pandemic.
All packed up for Grace + Craig’s wedding! They had to change their wedding plans due to the pandemic, but it still meant just as much gear! I also carry backup gear in the camel Kelly Moore bag (It’s a couple of years old and has held up wonderfully. I’ve linked to the bag that is the closest to it now.) and Ben likes to use the Peak Design Messenger Bag (We got it in a Kickstarter campaign so it’s a few years old, but I’ve linked their newest version.) to carry around his lenses.
The 3 Phases: 1. A nice picture before we started, 2. N95 masks for when we photographed indoors for detail shots and getting ready, and 3. Mask for while we shot Grace + Craig’s outdoor ceremony and reception.
I’ve decided the ThinkTank pouches make me look like a pack mule lol! But I love having all my gear right on my hips so I have a range of lenses to take pretty pictures!
A side-by-side of my phone picture and my camera picture.
I basically laid on the ground to get the groomsmen’s matching socks, but it was worth it for the picture!
Sometimes I also shoot with two cameras, which means I use my RL Clydesdale Light Harness. It allows me to have two cameras attached so I can use two different lenses and quickly switch between the two lenses (It makes me feel like a work horse! haha). I use this during getting ready, the ceremony, sometimes portraits, and the beginning of the reception with the entrances, dances and toasts.
My friend Rosemary was my 2nd shooter so she did a good job of grabbing some behind the scenes on her actual camera during the wedding.
I love a good veil throw and Ben is great at assisting with it!
I love having a second shooter with me, not only as a backup, but because they get different versions or angles of the same setup! To do this we communicate the whole time to make sure we’re using different lenses. Rosemary is to the left of me and she’s using a zoom lens which is her image to the right. And I was using a wider lens to get the grove of trees so my image is the image under the BTS photo. And the other random camera in the BTS photo is the videographer. I often have to remind people to look at my camera as the main photographer because there are so many professional cameras all capturing the same thing!
I’m a hands-on photographer, I do my best to give instructions, but sometimes I just have to show what I’m talking about or move something. 2020 changed this, but thank goodness I’ve had Ben with me so I can use him to demonstrate what I’m going with. He fortunately generally knows what I want the groom to do! Rosemary took this picture of me demonstrating what I wanted with Ben to Grace + Craig. I love how the picture came out!
On the left is a phone shot and the right is a shot I took with my phone. I love this picture of them dancing, but I also love how the lights in the tent turned out!
I love this picture so much! (I know I’ve been saying that a lot! haha) I photographed Grace’s brother’s wedding first – Kaitlyn + Tommy and Grace was in the bridal party and she was dating Craig at the time. Myself, Rosemary and Ben all photographed both weddings! At this point they make us feel like part of the family!
I don’t even know why I put makeup on my nose and around my mouth anymore! You can see how much makeup came off of my N95 mask, but the picture on the right is of me at the end of the day and my makeup looks pretty good still! It took awhile, but I’ve found some good makeup that lasts the whole day of a wedding. Maybe I’ll have to do a post on that someday!
We went to visit Max a week after he was born for a Williamsport family newborn session with my best friend Kate and her family.
I love this family so much! Their kids are so much fun and they did great with all the pictures. So we did some silly pictures as a little reward 🙂
Just some test shots for lighting that I took of Ben 🙂 Doesn’t his eyes show how thrilled he is?
We also did a family session in PA for Ben’s older brother Josh and his family in the fall. I held Olivia’s birthday gift until the end so I could use it as bribery 🙂 I am not ashamed that I will use bribery and also encourage parents to use it during family pictures!
Once again little kids love Ben! At the end of the session I was excited to get some cuddles from my niece and nephew!
This was such a fun fall maternity shoot in Bedford! We shot their whole maternity session in their yard. Lauren had planned so well with so many fall decorations that it was such an easy shoot because there were so many options and ideas.
I like to challenge myself and go into a shoot with a certain picture in my mind that I’d like to create, that may be a little different from what I may normally photograph. For some reason I really had this idea of Lauren + Rob laying on a blanket while I shot from above. I even brought my step stool in case the opportunity presented itself and it did! I love the image that resulted and I’m so happy that I pushed for something a little different!
For the past couple of years I’ve done fall mini sessions because families tend to want updated family pictures for Holiday cards. I’ve actually stopped doing most individual family sessions in October because it’s a busy month with weddings as well so taking one weekend to do mini sessions works out well with all the clients coming to me at a designated spot. I love to go scope out the spot for mini sessions so I have some ideas so each session doesn’t look the same. I like to take Ben to check out the place, at the time when the mini sessions will take place, so I can use him as my subject to test out lighting and locations.
Ben decided to climb the dam’s rock wall. He got a little higher than I would have liked! We used to go rock climbing, but we had on harnesses then!
Ben was able to take some behind the scenes on his phone so that then you can compare it to the image that I took! The BTS pictures are limited because Ben is also my secret weapon during family sessions. He’s usually right behind me with a toy getting kids’ attention.
Ben is also a great assistant, he’s an engineer so he’s also a problem solver! He used one of our extra masks to wipe down one specific wet bench that was in front of the pretty yellow bush that I liked.
Giving kids things to do is one of the best ways to get natural pictures.
I usually don’t photograph weddings in November, but my friend Kristina needed a second shooter for a micro wedding. Micro/small weddings are my new favorite things to photograph! I still get to capture a wedding, but it’s usually not as long of a day (this one was just 3 hours).
Robbie arrived late, but I went back to Lauren + Rob’s to photograph Robbie’s newborn session. Like with their maternity session, Lauren had a couple setups ready that were Pinterest worthy. Ben came with me to assist and he took some behind the scene images.
This year Ben and I strategized the whole year with Covid: Ben got Covid tests through work, but who were we seeing and when, and we also wanted to make sure that my clients felt completely safe around us. I had chats with my clients before their shoots on how Ben and I were protecting ourselves from Covid, how we would be careful during their session, and then making sure that they were comfortable with our plan. Sometimes clients had additional measures that they wanted me to take and I did my very best to do that for them.
We did one more additional mini session and Ben and I went earlier in the week at the same time of the session to look for locations and check the lighting. I was very happy with the results!
My final piece of work every year is getting my business holiday cards and gifts in the mail. I tried to get all of them out extra early in 2020 because of the overload with the post office. All the red envelopes are mainly our personal holiday cards, but all together I sent out over 130 cards! I know it’s a lot. But it’s something I have looked forward to doing since I was a kid and I saw my mom send out Christmas cards and then I saw the Christmas cards we got in return! I love sending and getting snail mail (getting emails, not so much haha) and I hang up all the cards we get back in our apartment so I can see all of them!
And that’s my 2020 Behind the Scenes blog post! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to zoom out and see the overall setup of a picture, where I was standing and where my subjects were and then see the photo that resulted. I’m looking forward to using my camera a whole lot more in 2021! Please contact me if you’re interested in an engagement session, you’re getting married, you want updated family pictures, or if you’re pregnant and want maternity and newborn sessions!
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