Unkept Secrets

I LOVE SURPRISES. Like love LOVE LOVE. I love being both the supriser and the suprisee. There's just something about not knowing about something awesome that someone else has thoughtfully selected/planned/purchased for you. A big chunk of my clients do a boudoir session in order to surprise their significant other with an incredible gift. Don't get me wrong-boudoir photos are always a crowd pleaser. But it can be tough and even a little stressful to put something so elaborate together. There have been a few clients who had the surprise get spoiled/found out early-but every single one says that they're significant other finding out actually made the entire process more fun. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Let me explain. If you're doing this as a surprise, usually you buy some new lingerie that you have to purchase on a card he doesn't have access to you can shell out some cash for. You also use that method of payment to book the session with me. I legit had one client take $20 cash back every time she went to Kroger for a year. She brought a huge wad of cash to her reveal. Nothing wrong with that-it may have felt a little like a drug deal, but that just made it funny. However, I know she planned and worked for a year to save enough in such a way that he wouldn't know about it.

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Then you hide any new lingerie until your shoot. For some girls this is easy and for us open-concept loft owners, there's a bit more of a struggle. From the trunk of your car to the drawer beneath your over-there are some crazy places my clients have chosen. The vegetable drawer of the fridge included (because "he never eats his veggies anyway!") Then you have to figure out some reason for you to be gone for 4-5 hours the day of your session. Followed by a reason you leave with no makeup on and come back with a face full of the stuff and big, voluminous hair. Uhhhh...Sephora was having a makeover day? My bestie wanted to play around with some new makeup and hair stuff? Some guys will buy any lie and others (like my hubby) would be skeptical and just ask more questions...

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

Most of my clients take everything off again before they leave and just throw their hair up-which kinda sucks because you looking freaking H-O-T! You should be on your way out to paint the town red! Plus, you have such a great time at the actual shoot all you're going to want to do is tell him all about it...and you can't if you're trying to keep the surprise a secret. Finally, you have to figure out a way to come back for the reveal and purchase the pics so he doesn't know what you've done and still doesn't suspect anything. That's a lot of mental gymnastics. You can totally do it-lots of my clients have-but I think sometimes my clients underestimate how much fun it can be to have your significant other along for the ride. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

First of all, you can still surprise him with the fact that you've chosen to do this for him! Maybe you get one new lingerie outfit and wrap it for him. When he opens it, you let him know that you decided to book a boudoir session for him and this is the first outfit you've selected to bring along. But he gets to help decide on the rest. Talk to him about what he likes and what he'd want to see in the images. Make a pinterest inspiration board together or go through the some lingerie websites. 

 Atlanta Boudoir Photography | www.meaganophotography.com

On the day of your session, have him drive you and pick you up when we're finished. Make sure y'all have a babysitter for the kids/furkids and reservations somewhere special because you are going to be looking SO fine! Shoot, maybe even book a hotel room and stay in the city that night. That way, over a candlelit dinner you can gush about the details of the session. Finally, let him come along with you to the reveal to see the images and experience seeing them for the first time together. You'll get to see what he really wants and y'all can decide together what to purchase. Just be sure to discuss budget beforehand because he's gonna want it ALLLL! 

Top 10 Fave Boudoir Images

The past few months the studio has been BANANAS! NUTS! CRAY-CRAY! Like one meal some days and 3-4 hours of sleep most nights for weeks at a time...so crazy, but so so good! I've met and shot so many incredible women. The downside when you're so busy is you don't really get to take a hard look at your work and figure out what new things you've learned. So to combat that, here are my favorite ten boudoir images from this year (so far!) Plus, this gives all of you guys a chance to see how gorgeous my clients are! 

Full Disclosure: I am in LOVE with all of these images. There may or may not be excessive use of emoticons, exclamation points, use of the word "love" and bold type. You've been warned. :-)

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

10.) This gorgeous bride was such a joy to shoot! So many of my clients are brides and I adore this image! The traditional way to pose "bridal boudoir" is to use a veil. As an alternative, I LOVE the little veil panties this client found that matched her garter. I thought this was an amazing alternative for those brides who may not be wearing a veil at all for their wedding.

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

9.) This stunning woman was SO SO SO incredible to work with. On really intriguing aspect I love in boudoir is this feeling of motion. This client was such a trooper as I asked her to take her hubby's jersey off over and over again. I love the way you can see she is actively taking the jersey off, instead of just holding the shirt open. Not to mention, we were both laughing so hard the entire time because across the street there was an entire construction crew on their lunch break. They of course couldn't see her, but it was fun to know that this was going on right under their noses. :-) 

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

8.) Man, oh man! How beautiful! It's so intriguing when you can weave a little story into boudoir images. I love that you don't know why this woman is undressing, who she's undressing for, or what's going to happen next. I love that you can see that the bra is mid-swing and I love that she's barely holding onto it-clearly about to drop it on the floor. Boudoir photography shouldn't just be a sexy image. Boudoir images should make you want to know more about the woman in the picture. 

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

7.) I LOVE this pose. I love that she seems to be gasping for breath. I love that there is tension in her legs, but not as much in her hands. I love that you can't see her eyes. And I love that we decided to give her a lipstick change right before we moved on to this outfit and pose because the pop of red is heavenly!!

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

6.) If there was one thing I'd want to exist in all of my boudoir images it's for the woman in the image to seem unposed. Particularly because each and every one of these clients would tell you just how posed they truly were when we were shooting. My ultimate goal is to capture an image of a confident, sexy woman. Not an image of a woman who seems like she was told to pose "sexily." This picture is the ideal balance of a stunning woman in a natural pose. She is not aware of the viewer. The viewer just happens to be allowed a glimpse at her beauty. It is that additional veil of mystery that makes any boudoir image more successful than a more overt form of posing. 

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

5.) GAH! A woman's smile is truly the most gorgeous, sexy part of her body. A woman who is acknowledging her own beauty while smiling is even more beautiful. At some point, all of my clients absolutely get the giggles as they attempt to follow my crazy directions to "inhale with an open mouth on 3!" or "sit on your hoo-ha" or "wiggle your butt to your shoulders". I say RIDICULOUS things in every session, that have all involved lol-ing for real. But I also always tell them to give into the giggles. Laugh and laugh and laugh. I will continue to pose them through that laugh and those always end up being some of my favorite images.

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

4.) O. M. G. I love this. I love the way she's looking at me like she knows something I don't know. (Which was probably that it looked like I was going to topple off that ladder any second.) I love her body position. I love the swoop of her hair. I love the way this looks like art. I would totally frame this and hang it in my house. I just think it's beautiful.

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

3.) Wowza. This image is HAWT. So often my client's want really sexy images, but they are terrified that they'll have to go fully nude or spread eagle to get it. Not the case at all. To me, the hottest images don't give it all away. She was in a corset for this picture and I told her to squeeze her shoulders together and arch her back while breathing through her mouth. I love the texture of her skin. I love exactly where the light is hitting her body. I love how the lines across her body draw your eye and accentuate her curves. This woman is boldly beautiful. 

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

2.) This was something completely new (for me) that I tried. It was such a blast figuring out how to light her for this pose. I got to pull out my gels and play around. I think this is the first spread eagle pose I've ever done, now that I think about it. But it works beautifully in silhouette. I love how you can still make out the bows that were on the backs of her stockings and a little bit of detail on her face. And I love that we went with the color red cause, let's be honest and throw it back to my cheerleading days. That girl is R-E-D RED H-O-T HOT!

Atlanta Boudoir Photography

1.) GAH. This is my favorite favorite. And this gorgeous woman was so patient with me as I tried different ways of shooting her between the sheets. We also laughed a ton as I was squatting at the end of the bed with my camera under the sheet calling out poses, fanning the sheet at the same time and attempting to focus and compose my shot. It was so much fun! I seriously could've kept shooting her forever. The thing about this image that is so striking to me is how intimate it is. I love that her tattoo is barely in the frame. I love that it's between sheets, which is one of those places only your significant other gets to see you. And I LOVE the way she is looking at the camera. She is absolute perfection. 

Thanks for reading this weeks blog! Just a heads up to those of you interested in a boudoir session: I'll be raising my sitting fee at the end of August. My image and product prices will stay the same, but the new sitting fee will go into effect for all sessions beginning in September. Don't want to pull that out of the blue, so this is your heads up, buttercup! :-) 

Studio Update!

We have a studio. A fully functional, albeit not completely decorated, studio. It's amazing. It's beautiful. I've already shot ten gorgeous women in it and the images are stunning.

I am going to post the pretty pictures of where my studio is currently. This has been fun. However, in the interest of keeping it real, this has also been the most panic-inducing, hair-pulling, head-banging, mind-spinning, stomach-churning experience of my life.

Let's see, how to sum up the past two months. Well, to give you an accurate idea of what my life has been like, imagine that someone hands you a Rubik's cube puzzle to solve. Now imagine that each of the individual cubes are just smaller Rubik's cubes. Now imagine I give you 10 seconds to solve said demon-puzzle or you'll never ever see your family again. Bleak, no? And I freaking suck at Rubik's cubes to begin with. But that's kind of how I've felt for the past two months. It's been terrifyingly awesome. To sum up, since October 20, I have:

-Found, negotiated and signed a lease for a studio space.

-Negotiated all changes & remodeling that needed to be done to the space.

-Taken down two walls.

-Tried to "expose the beams" and heighten the ceiling a bit.

-Realized said "exposed beams" are really just the interior structure and therefore not esthetically pleasing. Actually, downright creepy looking. In fact, they'd probably require me to promise my clients I was just going to take pictures of them and promise not to murder them.

(Excuse the iPhone pics)IMG_8145IMG_8166 IMG_8174

-Replace the murder-beams ceiling.

 

-Rip up the carpet upstairs and put down beautiful, light hardwoods.IMG_8202

-Shop. Shop. Shop. And then, when finished, shop a little more.

-Painted the entire space.

-Complete the renovations 36 hours before I had my first client coming in.

-Guilt every loved one I have to come out and spend all night getting every single piece of Ikea furniture ever made put together.

-Realize the "floors" that were put down were actually wall-paneling installed upside down.

-Shoot marathon boudoir sessions that I had already scheduled on terrible wall-floor.

-Replace wall-floor with a beautiful, new, floor-floor.

-Completely re-branded Meagan O Photography including logo, website and direction.

-Existed on less sleep than I believed was possible.

-Gone more days without showering than I'd care to admit.

-Had more wine than I'd care to admit.

-Attempted to completely suck dry my husband's incredibly deep well of patience.

-Attempted to remain somewhat jovial and enjoy my favorite time of year.

I'd love to say I handled this all with ease and grace. No sweat. Come out with make-up in tact and hair perfectly quaffed, but my husband would probably tattle on me. This has been hard. I've been more insecure about my abilities with my craft than ever before. I've also been more excited and energetic about photography than ever before. The ten clients I've had the pleasure of shooting ion the studio thus far have reminded me the bigger reason I am doing this.

I am doing this to show women they are BEAUTIFUL. That they are worth it. To the adorable, elegant, 80 year old grandmother who can barely make it up the steps and packs all her outfit accessories in little baggies, you are worth it. To the 30-something wife who has never donned lingerie, but wants to surprise her husband with something special, you are worth it. To the mom of two grown children who only has her yearly school pictures to serve as professional portraits, you are worth it. 

There's still a lot to do, but if I keep reminding myself the reason I'm doing all this is completely worth it.

So! They studio is up and ready! If you're interested in glamour portraits, shoot me an email! (meagan@meaganophotography.com) Also, I'll be doing more boudoir minis the weekends of Jan 17-18 & 24-25 in preparation for Valentine's Day! Email me for details!

Now, without further ado, the updated studio pics! 

Downstairs from entrance-www.meaganophotography.com

Meeting area (where we have yet to hang our Black Friday 55'' tv)www.meaganophotography.com

 

 

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Coffee & refreshment area-www.meaganophotography.comwww.meaganophotography.com

 

Shooting space with gorgeous, new floors-www.meaganophotography.com

 

Make-up area hallway (where we are installing a wardrobe system)-www.meaganophotography.com

Make-up area-www.meaganophotography.com

 

It's certainly come a long. LONG. way!

A STUDIO! It's a MIRACLE!

It has happened. I have a studio. As in lease signed, walls coming down, hardwoods being put in, paint going on walls-the real deal. I'm getting everything ready for the first boudoir marathon I'll be shooting there on November 21. Yes, that is  a couple of weeks away. Yes, I do realize how insanely crazy I am. And yes, my husband will probably need some sort of therapy after all of this is finished. What? How? When? Well...the story is pretty incredible. Two months ago I reached out to two separate real estate agents for some help finding a space. One never called me back (probably because my ridiculously long "requirements" list was a tad overwhelming). The other was a sweet guy who graduated from 'Bama and couldn't quite grasp exactly what my space would be used for. Alas, the whole glamour photography thing completely alluded him. Thus, we went to see a ton of properties that wouldn't really work. I wasn't being picky. One didn't have a toilet-anywhere. Another started with a 20 minute speech from the property manager about how great their security system is...which is never a good sign if someone is selling you that hard on the safety of the area. Yeah. It wasn't going well.

Here's where I have to pause my current story to share a background story. It's a story within a story. Story inception. Promise it's completely relevant. Scout's honor.

So, two years ago I'd been having a busy, intense week and I decided I needed to just get out of the condo for a bit. Get some fresh air, meditate and pray. Well, two blocks from my condo I see this space that's available that looks like it'd make a cool studio. Now, at this point I had no desire to have a studio. Zip. Zilch. Nada. But I was curious, so I cup my hands around my eyes to peer in. Suddenly, a woman turns the corner and starts walking towards me. I (aware that I look like I'm casing the place to rob later) stammer an explanation about me being a photographer and the place looking like it would make a nice studio...yada yada yada. She looks at me and says, "Do you believe in God?" Huh. Weird response. But I tell her that I absolutely do and she tells me to lay my hands on the space and claim it. She then proceeds to tell me about her son who's been wrongfully convicted of murder, is in jail awaiting trial and whom she's believing the Lord will deliver. Now, again, at the time I didn't even want a studio. But my interaction with that woman was so random and encouraging that it made quite an impact. So much so, that I even told my best friends, husband, parents and sisters about it.

Now, fast forward back to current day.

I'm having no luck finding a studio, so I do what any desperate, slightly insane business owner would do. I get on Craigslist. It's 11:00 at night and I'm clicking through some rather interesting properties when I happen upon quite a gem. It's 1,400 square feet and has 2 floors (a wish list item of mine). It has two huge windows that span the entire wall on both floors. It's under my budget (say whattt??). It has two bathrooms-one upstairs and one downstairs. I glance at the address and realize it is walking distance from my house. I continue to click through the pictures, my heart pitter-pattering faster and faster when I get to the last picture. It is the EXACT space that I was peering into the day I met that woman. The one I thought would make such an awesome studio. The one she told me to believe in God for. WOAH. Chill bumps everywhere.

Since then, the landlord and I have worked together so well. She is putting hardwoods in upstairs, taking down the popcorn ceiling upstairs and making it flat, painting the entire facade of the building, adding new deadbolts, getting a more upscale door installed, and pressure washing the windows. I'm paying for two walls to come down upstairs (so the light can flow uninterrupted) and for the walls to be painted. There has been a TON of changes made, and I am SO STOKED!

Now, I want to put a disclaimer on this. I don't know if you believe in God. I don't know where you've been in your life, or what your interaction with christians has been like. We can unfortunately be quite a hurtful, judgmental bunch. I certainly don't want you to feel like I'm shoving God down your throat. But I felt this was too incredible a story not to share exactly as it happened. God has done some things in my life that are far too big for coincidence. This was one of them.

Check it out!!!

www.meaganophotography.com

Where my sign will hang...I'm gonna have a sign!

www.meaganophotography.com

The downstairs lobby/viewing area. (Pardon the ladder-this was the day they began construction and I didn't want to ask them to move it. Come on, I can't be that girl.)

www.meaganophotography.comwww.meaganophotography.com

Adorable little mail slot. Never thought I'd get excited over a mail slot. But, come on! It's so cute! I think I'll name it Betty and give her lips and eyes or something.

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And then upstairs...www.meaganophotography.com

We have the make up/hair area to the left.

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As well as another bathroom.

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And then right at the top of the stairs, we have two weird walls with window glass. No worries, those are coming down to open the entire space up.www.meaganophotography.com

And to allow this gorgeous natural light through!www.meaganophotography.com

The crazy thing is, they've already ripped up that carpet and taken down the walls. I'll be taking more pictures soon to keep you guys updated on the progress! And be sure to send me a message if you'd like to be included in the first boudoir minis in the space. It's going to be a BLAST!www.meaganophotography.com

 

2013 A Brand New Year

Ahhhhhhhh. (That was a combination sigh/stretch.) After a BUSY Autumn season, I have really given myself a break. I've seen family and friends, slept in, read new books, taken long baths. It has been a few weeks of desperately needed R&R. The final quarter of 2012 kicked my tail!! That is the wonderful thing about being a wedding photographer-the year is solidly busy from March-December. So I use January & February to re-cooperate, make new goals for my business, go hang out with my accountant, and figure out my marketing strategy for the year. It's awesome that the beginning of the year happens to coincide with the off-season for weddings! I've always been one of those people who loves when things are brand new. I loved the beginning of the school year or semester and getting new notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. I love starting a new book. I love beginning new friendships. I even love the beginning of the day. I am also a list maker. You see where the formula's going here...lover of beginnings + list maker = resolution maniac!

2012 was a beautiful year. I grew more in my business than I thought possible in one year. I grew a lot in my marriage and can honestly say I know how to be a much better friend, lover and supporter now than I did a year ago. Somehow I feel like I transitioned into "grown up" mode more this year than any other. I'm not really sure how that happened-it just did. I can tell that I'm more aware of big life changes that are coming in the next 5 years than I was in 2011. Things like having kids, buying a new house, and putting down roots. Those things used to really threaten what I thought was my independence, but now they are things in life I look forward to. I'm not looking to quicken their arrival by any stretch, but I look forward to the fact that they're coming instead of feeling like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz watching the giant hourglass running out. That's progress my friends.

2013 is going to be a big year. This is the year Matt and I will finish paying off all our debt. Last year we paid off the rest of Matt's car and all student loans-all we have left is a bit on my car. Once that's done, we'll actually be able to take the next steps in our life together-EXCITING! (FYI-We've been following Dave Ramsey's debt free guide to pay off our debt. It's an incredible program that can help anyone get debt free no matter how much debt you have or how much you make. HIGHLY recommend!)

All things considered, here are a few "resolutions" or "places I'd like to see growth for the foreseeable future" I've made for 2013. Both personally and in my business.

Commit and implement a new direction creatively. 2013 is also shaping up to offer some interesting new opportunities in my photography. I am beyond thrilled with all of the different directions it could go. In fact, narrowing the options down and picking one is proving to be the most difficult part. (That's what I'm currently doing now.) I cannot WAIT to get started!

Read more books and draw inspiration from them for my own art. Good books. I'm not talking about my chick-lit (although it has it's place too!) I'm talking about the classics. Works of art in themselves. Unfortunately, in college I thought it would be a waste of space to have hard copies of all the classics so I gave them away. Now I know I really want copies of every classic I can get my hands on. My way around this? Thrift stores. They are chock FULL of every book that ever appeared on an English class syllabus-for mere pennies!

Become a student again. No, I'm not going back to school. But another huge way I grow in my craft is by studying. Not other people's blogs. Not my endless pinterest boards. But art. Art in music. Art in sculptures. Art in paintings and drawings. Art in fashion. Art in nature. I promise I'm not trying to be some nose-in-the-air snob over here.  I've done this before sporadically and it helps me stay fresh and keeps me excited about what I do. I want to dedicate at least 2 hours per week researching, admiring, pontificating and marinating in art.

Be more consistent reading my Bible. It really does changes my ability to love people. To have patience. To show grace. I doesn't matter if I'm reading endless lineage or Jesus' teachings, God uses me more (or I'm more aware of it) when I'm in His Word.

Meditate more. I pray a lot, but meditation is completely different. It helps me learn how to be a spirit with ears, not just a mouth.

Pay more attention to how I treat my body. What I do with it. What I put in my mouth. How much rest it's getting. This isn't a fancy way of saying "lose weight". I just want to be healthier. After quite an indulgent holiday season, I began this year with a 10 day fruit, veggie and water fast. It really helped flush out my system and set my taste buds straight on what eating well means. I've since continued to be mindful that I want to eat real food. Not "food-like products". I've also signed up for Crossfit. Yes, I am nervous. But I'm also excited. Apparently it's going to change my life...I'll keep you posted.

That's it. Those are my hopes/desires/wishes/prayers for 2013. It's funny to think about what the year has in store for my life. However, I'd hate to completely say good-bye to this year without sharing a few of the highlights from my busy, crazy and wonderful holiday season..

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2013. Let's do this.

So you want to save money on your wedding photographer...

Oh, yes. We are going to talk about the dreaded M word. There's no turning back and I promise that although this will be lengthy, it will have a lot of information you need to know. Money. 

There. I said it. It's out there. Breathe. Money is a really stressful part of planning a wedding. How do I know? Because my husband and I paid for the majority of our wedding ourselves. And I totally understand why brides freak when they hear the price of wedding photography. Some photographers pull a random number out of thin air, slap it on a website, and expect you to write the check. Honestly, that's even what I used to do when I first started. Now I use a formula that includes the amount I pay into my business, taxes, advertising, and post production.  I then recalculate using the formula once per year and adjust my prices accordingly.

Now, photography is important to most brides. Not all, but most. It is the only service that you get to enjoy after the wedding day. It is the only representation of all the rest of the money that was spent. It is also the only service that increases in value as time goes on. Yes, that is a true statement. Why? Well, for example, Matt and I were married on September 18, 2010. Unfortunately, the following year my aunt was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away last December. I can honestly say that I would pay more today than I did two years ago for those "silly shots" I have of her on the dance floor. They are that special to me.

That all being said, there are some brides who flat out just don't have the money. They've hunted through the couch cushions, broken their childhood piggy bank, and they just don't have the money to hire me. For brides in this situation, I really do understand and I really do want you to have the absolute best photography you can afford. I don't want you going into debt or having long, drawn-out fights with that wonderful man you're marrying because you wrote me a check. Here's what I suggest:

1.) Don't totally rule out hiring an awesome professional photographer. There are a ton of them out there and there are a lot who are willing to give you a discount or let you have a payment plan. Do you have a really cool theme that would make your wedding a great addition to their portfolio? Is your fiance in the military? Are you getting married on an off month (Jan-Feb) or on a day that isn't a Saturday? Do you want 4 hours or less of coverage so that a professional photographer is covering the important portion of the day? If so, ASK. Find out if they are willing to be a little more flexible with their pricing. Now. Important side note: be honest about what you can afford. It isn't really fair if you drive a desperate photographer down to $1,000 only for them to show up to your lavish $50,000 wedding. Give them your bottom line and see what they say. Emily-29

2.) Look for a photographer who is newer at wedding photography. You do get what you pay for in photography, but that doesn't have to mean that you don't get beautiful images. It just means you won't have the same assurance that you will get beautiful images that you would if you were working with a professional photographer who has a track record in the industry. Reach out to local arts schools like the Creative Circus or SCAD. Contact a professional portrait photographer whose work you love and see if they are trying to break into the wedding industry, and if they'd shoot your wedding at a discount. Talk to your friends and find out if they know of an up-and-coming photographer who hasn't quite filled up their calendar. The only thing I would caution you about is this: Be SUPER careful about hiring someone who has never shot a wedding before. Weddings are incredibly fast paced even for professional photographers. You have little to no time to get in position, frame your shot, check your exposure, focus, etc. and take the picture before that moment is gone. Not to mention, you as the consumer really need to see exactly what level of product you're going to end up with. If you are considering someone who hasn't shot their first wedding yet (which-again-I do NOT recommend) see if they'd be willing to come out and shoot an event you're having (engagement party, shower, etc.) It won't be the same thing, but it will at least give you a better understanding about what their candid photography looks like. Edit-15

3.) SIGN A CONTRACT!!!!!! Brace yourselves. I am stepping up on my soapbox with my megaphone for this one. I do not care what your reasoning is, there is absolutely NO REASON not to have a contract. Seriously. None. Zilch. "He's my uncle." Sign a contract. "She's my best friend." Sign a contract. "They are doing it for free." Sign a contract. "She didn't give me one." Then grab that McDonald's napkin in your car, write down what is being exchanged and SIGN A CONTRACT. Ok. I'm done yelling. But seriously, this is how serious this step is. One of my best friends (whose wedding I was in, and therefore couldn't shoot) didn't sign a contract. *Insert facepalm here.* She won a photography "competition" this particular photographer was running and was getting her wedding shot for free. Well, the photographer showed up with a terrible attitude, half-heartedly shot the wedding, put up 12 beautiful photos on Facebook for all of her followers to see and then handed the my friend a CD of 400 non-edited, horrible photos that took three months longer than she originally verbally stated to get. Yeah. Shots of the back of people's heads. Shots of the floor. Now I realize when you hire someone to document one of the most special days of your life, you'd think they'd have more integrity than to screw you over. On your wedding day. Unfortunately, there are many photographers who see brides as a walking paycheck and they really don't care if you don't have the pictures you wanted.

Here's what needs to be detailed in the contract: the location of the event, the specific hours the photographer will be shooting, whether or not they will be editing the pictures, who owns the rights and where you can have the images posted/printed, WHEN you will get your images, if there is a penalty if the images are late, what happens if the photographer has an emergency and can't come, and any additional services the photographer will be providing (engagement session, second shooter, etc.) This protects you and it will go a long way to ensure you receive your final images in a timely manner. And feel free to write in, or scratch out anything you don't feel comfortable with and have the photographer initial the change.Atlanta, Worldwide

4.) Choose a photographer you enjoy being around. One of the things I find I have to educate my brides on is the fact that your photographer will be with you your entire wedding day. Until the reception, you will be with us more than you'll be with anyone else including your fiance. Make sure you sit down and have a real conversation with whomever you're considering.  Weddings are amazing, but the emotions and tensions are high and you need a photographer who will help enhance the experience you have, not detract from it. I have been at a wedding where the father of the bride called the morning of to say he wasn't coming because he didn't realize the step-father was the one walking his daughter down the aisle. I have been at a wedding where the groom didn't show up until 30 minutes after the ceremony started and no one knew where he was. I have been at a wedding where the mother of the bride and the bride got into a shouting match in the hotel hallway. No matter what drama the wedding day brings, I'm still there to do my job, which involves witnessing all of that. I will give a hug when needed, make a joke to laugh something small off, or give the bride space-just like a friend would. Conclusion: free photography from your foul-mouthed, beyond-annoying, inappropriate-comment-making Uncle Bobby will have a negative impact on your wedding day and it won't be worth the free photography. Truth.Edit-26

5.) Educate yourself. If you are considering what we in the industry call a "budget photographer", make sure you do your homework. It's amazing to me how many brides don't look up reviews. This is definitely a step I wouldn't skip. Oh, and "reviews" or "sweet things'' people have said about them they have posted on their own website don't count (not saying they aren't true, just saying you should do a little more digging than that.) I once worked with a photographer (who works a LOT and is still actively shooting today) who was terrible. He left weddings early, booked the bride by throwing something in (unlimited coverage, Blue-Ray DVD, etc.) then would up-sell her on that same service down the road and charge her for it, called a bride fat on her wedding day, you name it. Well, as you can imagine, he got some really AWFUL reviews. However, once one popped up, he simply made 10 new accounts that were rave reviews so that that really bad one would bump to the next page. If you paid attention, you could see that they were all written on the same day and had the same style of writing and emoticons, but most brides didn't notice that.  He did this on the knot, wedding wire, google, etc. Actually read the reviews. And if there is ever a photographer that has really high scores across the board except for a handful who have given incredibly low scores, I would avoid them like the plague. There shouldn't be that big a discrepancy between what the brides experience. I also highly recommend asking your photographer to put you in contact with a few of their clients so that you can actually talk to someone about their experience. Any photographer who has shot even one wedding should have the ability to pass along their contact info. www.meaganophotography.com

6.) Ask questions. You know what they say about when you assume something...if you don't understand something, ask. There really is no question that is too stupid. You need to feel comfortable with the decision you're making and the only thing that will bring you that comfort is information. What happens if there's an equipment failure? Do they own back-up equipment or would they be willing to rent it? What if you don't like the pictures? Are they willing to do re-edits? Is there a limit to the amount of re-edits they'll do? Why is Justin Beiber a world-famous icon? Hey. I didn't say they could answer all of them.  Whatever you don't understand, just make sure that it's clarified before you finalize any decisions. Emily-1

Whew. If you're still here, HIGH FIVE! You made it!

Also, if you have any additional questions, please feel free to message/email me (meagan@meaganophotography.com). I promise not to give you a hard time about the fact that you didn't just get a second mortgage on your house to hire me. No. Joking aside, I really would be happy to help answer any questions you have.

 

Super Creative is Super-Fly!

So I just shot a gorgeous wedding a week and a half ago for the lovely Jamie and Jon Buttry and I realized that I never blogged their awesome engagement session! It. Was. Epic. Seriously! They were totally down for a little costuming and creative shooting. We wanted to do a dual session-which you've heard me mention before. Basically it's like two engagement sessions in one. One side represents the brides personality and the other represents the groom's. In this case, the groom was represented by a very "Great Gatsby" type of feel and the bride had more of a "Free People" personality. I LOVE LOVE LOVE dual engagement sessions. Yes, it's more work. Yes, it takes longer. And yes, it may or may not mean that I make my clients run between trains in 90+ heat to get the shot. But they are always worth it. Plus, me being the cheese-ball I am, I love the idea of him stepping into her world and her stepping into his. It always makes for a more dynamic day of shooting with some awesome benefits! Enjoy