Grand Rapids, Michigan | Bookmark Product Photography | Blue Fox Engraving

About a month ago I had the privilege of working with Becky from Blue Fox Engraving, photographing her wooden bookmarks! We ended up photographing at a coffee shop and at a gorgeous mural in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can check out Blue Fox Engraving on Etsy, she has an amazing assortment of wood engraved products that are absolutely beautiful! 

The thing I love the most about Becky's products is that they are made from locally sourced Michigan wood. From her Etsy: "The maple and walnut veneers we use for these bookmarks is made at a multi-generational family owned business right here in West Michigan. Their wood products adhere to the strictest environmental policies and forestry guidelines. Their logs are purchased from well-managed forests in Michigan maintained by foresters who practice and follow sustainable yield harvesting procedures." How awesome is that? I love seeing businesses use the natural local resources to create beautiful products!

Thanks again for Megan for modeling for us, and check out the images below of Becky's beautiful bookmarks (Please be aware, there is swearing on one!)

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Michigan Product Photographer | Paper Finch Designs

This winter I had the opportunity to photograph some product pictures for Paper Finch Designs in my own home. When I was taking to Amy she was looking for images of what it would look like in a customer's house. Sounds easy right? Photographing anything in your own home isn't as easy at is sounds, especially waiting for the sun to come out in a Michigan winter. 

Amy's work is absolutely amazing and I had so much fun photographing them. To buy these products and many others check out Paper Finch Design on Etsy

Grand Haven, Michigan | Winter Promo Session with A River Runs Through

I've known Nash for a few years now, we use to work together and I also did some product pictures for him when he was building guitar pedals. When he contacted me about promo pictures for his new album when he was visiting Michigan, I couldn't wait. We've been trying to plan something for awhile, but it wasn't working with either one of our schedules. When I asked Nash about location/style he said he wanted pine trees, which Rosy Mound Natural Area in Grand Haven fit the bill perfectly. The night before we were confirming the time and location and Nash said he hopes that it snows. Call it fate or sheer luck, but we were only suppose to get a dusting but ended up with a few inches by time of the shoot!

I had so much fun catching up with Nash and hearing more about his new project A River Runs Through. I can't wait to hear the new music, here is a link to his Facebook to keep updated on his new album!

Wedding Day Advice from a Wedding Photographer

I always try and give my couples some last minute advice if they are nervous before their big day. Weddings are very stressful, and sometimes you need someone outside of your friends and family to give you that extra boost of confidence that everything is going to be fine. Here are just a few of the most common pieces of advice I give to my couples.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Personally, I try to come prepared for things like hair malfunctions, dress slip ups and timing issues by bringing simple necessities that may have been forgotten. When you are focused on enjoying time with family, each other and taking in the celebration, the photos are more genuine!

Tip: Check out this Miniemergency Wedding Kit, it even comes with two wedding rings! (yes, those have been lost too!)

Have a solid timeline, and go over it with vendors/wedding party.  I want my couples to have fun and not be worried about the photos and everything else they will be thinking of that day. So with that in mind, I make sure to go over the timeline for photography a month before the big day. I also go over the must have photo list of important people or certain locations at the venue that are musts for pictures. This definitely helps set the tone that you will be not only the main focus of my time, but that I will be working hard to keep the day all about the wedding and not all about the wedding photos.

It is about your commitment to each other and not about the planning. The planning is over, let your vendors worry about what is going on and enjoy getting married. I always try and schedule in a little bit of time for you two to be alone and take a breath with each other. It creates beautiful genuine images, and also gives a moment to relax from the hustle and bustle.

Be emotionally present and take in every moment, because the day flies by faster than you can imagine! This is one thing I say OVER and OVER again, its one day and it goes by SO FAST. When things get tough (and they just might) stop and look around and remember all those people showed up for you and your fiancé. They are celebrating the both of you getting married and starting a new chapter together.

Something will go wrong, something always goes wrong. Hair/makeup runs late, something is missing and needs to be found, the ceremony ends up starting late. IT HAPPENS! It is a rarity that weddings are 100% on schedule and that’s okay! Just expect that and roll with the flow because the important thing is you will be married at the end of the day and that’s what matters.

Take a deep breath if things don't go exactly as you planned. Relax, have fun and remember you are getting married to the love of your life!

East Lansing, Michigan | Michigan State University Elopement | Miranda + Matt

Miranda and Matt eloped on Valentine’s Day privately in their apartment, saving their vows for during the middle of their portrait session at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. When Miranda first contacted me about doing a Valentine’s Day elopement; I was excited and nervous at the same time. Michigan winters are very unpredictable (especially this one!) so in my mind, worst case scenario blizzards came rushing into my head. Luckily, the weather was absolutely perfect for the middle of February!

Miranda and Matt are transplants to Michigan; their families are both in Virginia so planning an actual wedding with them living here in Michigan just wasn’t going to work out.  So they decided to elope, and what better day to do it than Valentine’s Day! My favorite part of the day was Miranda and Matt’s private vows to each other. I just thought it was such a unique and personal way to express their love for each other in their vows.

Miranda and Matt, your elopement was perfect for the both of you. I am beyond happy that I had the privilege to be there to witness the beginning of your next chapter as Mr and Mrs. I hope this new adventure together gets better each and every day. Cheers to many more years of joy and happiness together!

What to Expect at Your Engagement Session

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I regularly get asked if an engagement session is important or really needed. For me as a photographer it helps me learn more about you as a couple, and get you use to being in front of the camera before your wedding day. Having the engagement session preps you for your wedding day so formal pictures run as smoothly as possible, and if there is a time crunch you already know the style of posing I do.

Having engagement pictures taken is completely different from being photographed on your wedding day. You aren’t dressed in your wedding attire and it’s just the two of you and me, so it’s a bit more intimate and at a slower pace than your wedding will be.

I’ve taken the time to answer questions that come up regularly and also have a few tips and tricks to making your engagement session fun and successful.

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WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURRING THE SESSION

Here’s an idea of how a normal engagement session flows. I always say the first fifteen minutes are the most awkward, and that’s okay (it’s normal I promise!) We’ll walk around the location to find a good spot to stop and start taking a few pictures. As we are walking I ask your comfort level on how touchy feely you are with each other and just some fun questions to get the nerves out. Once we stop to take pictures I will walk you through some basic posing and just have you naturally interact with each other.

Knowing your comfort level is huge for me, I don’t want anything to make you feel uncomfortable and I want you to enjoy yourselves.  Most of my posing is more natural with prompt cards, it’s all very easy and fun, I promise.  The prompts are super fun and meant to make you laugh and be more natural and not stiff. One of my favorites is where I have you look at each other and without breaking eye contact tell me an embarrassing story about your partner. I’ll also ask you questions like “What are you most looking forward to about being married?” I’ll usually ask you to cuddle and kiss during the session but I want to make sure you don’t feel at all self conscious or uncomfortable. The basic poses we go over are mainly for your wedding day portraits. It gives me an idea of what poses will work best for your wedding and also so you know poses if there is a time crunch or just to make your day flow easier.

LOCATIONS

Locations really depend on what look you are going for, and your comfort level with being intimate with your other half in public. If you’re very nervous about the shoot, you probably don’t want to head to a busy area full of people. 

I regularly look for new locations around Michigan, so I’m always happy to help find a good location based on what you are looking for. I get asked a lot for engagements and even weddings if I’ve photographed the location/venue before, and honestly I love the challenge of photographing somewhere new. As a creative a new location gives me that extra edge to find new places instead of using my “to go to” locations. I do still love photographing a location again, so if you are set on a certain place I am more than happy to photograph you both there.

I love locations that are multiple location types in one. For example a beach town, where the downtown area is a quick walk away from the waterfront. This gives two different looks, especially if you can't decide which one you want. 

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TIME

Living in Michigan, the weather is unpredictable and we have very noticeable seasons. I have no problem taking pictures at any time of day; but the softest light can either be found around an hour before sunrise or around an hour before sunset.  Whenever possible I do try to schedule sessions around these times, soft light is more flattering and creates beautiful colors and tones in the images. I do want you to be comfortable, so in the middle of winter a before sunrise session isn’t going to be the most practical. We will figure out what works best for the time of year and what works best with your schedule.

CLOTHING

First and foremost, wear something you feel comfortable in. You don’t want to be fiddling with your clothes and feeling self conscious during the session. You won’t enjoy the session as much, and it will show that you aren’t comfortable in the images.

I usually suggest couples dress up a bit, as that will make the shoot feel more special. However the most important thing is that you feel comfortable. You don’t have to wear suit and tie (unless you want to!) but try to stay away from clothing with words and big logos on them.

Almost all my sessions include some form of walking a little bit of a distance, so comfortable shoes are a must. If you do want to wear heals bring them along in a tote bag, it can easily be set aside for when we are taking pictures. I do try to bring an assistant with me during the winter to help with carrying coats and other winter accessories. Again, I want you to be comfortable and as warm as possible while we are out taking pictures. I do my best to remind you, but please be mindful of any bulky items like keys and phones in your pockets. They will show in the pictures and it doesn’t look good.

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I love engagement sessions, they are a ton of fun and are really helpful if you are nervous about being in front of the camera. If you have any other questions about engagement sessions with me, please email me at sydney@sydneymariephotography.com or fill out my contact page.