What? You mean my phone makes CALLS?

Hey, sometimes I forget.  I mean how many hours go by where you are staring at your phone, emailing, texting, replying to Facebook messages, and all without using the phone for its raw intended purpose.  MAKING A PHONE CALL.  I've ended that.  Well.. as much as I can anyway.  If a client is emailing me and it's going to be a long conversation, I'm picking up the phone and calling you.  If your text can't be answered simply- you're getting a call.  If your Facebook message is way more involved and includes a bullet list of questions- expect to answer your phone when it rings.  

Sometimes all of the messaging back and forth with our fingers really disconnects us from the fact that we are dealing with living breathing beings.  It's like we're all afraid to talk all of a sudden.  Hey, I won't bite.  Not in the first meeting anyways. :-)  My new goal is to reach out and talk more.  Hear my voice.  Let's have a real living conversation.  Let's laugh, joke, stutter, and share an awkward silence.  Sometimes I miss the art of conversing.

It may be startling for some, but every time I get a new lead and you leave your phone number, I'm picking up my phone and I'm dialing your number.  I want to talk to you, hear about your wedding day plans, and put a voice with an email.  

I hope you all have a great weekend!

~Leia

Happy Anniversary to me!

I guess it's my anniversary.  I didn't realize it until I kept getting notifications from LinkedIn that people were messaging me.  I checked it this morning, and I see all of these notes of "Congratulations!" Oh yeah.  Congratulations on 6 years of officially being an LLC.  On 6 years of hard work, keeping my nose to the grind-stone.  6 years of failing, succeeding, pushing myself, struggling, and winning.  Not every day is a winner, believe me, but not every day is a struggle.   

Some days my desk is so crowded with books (that I never have time to read), batteries that need to be charged, Post It Notes EVERYWHERE, receipts, calendars, contracts, bills, that it's enough to want to make me turn immediately around and crawl back into bed.  I don't have To Do lists, I have To Do BOOKS.  It can be...how do you say...OVERWHELMING.  

Every year gets better and better though; I have fallen into a rhythm.  It's like a dance, and rather then constantly stumbling and tripping over my feet to keep up, I'm beginning to glide.  I want to thank all of the clients that I have worked with over the last 9 years.  This career is more than I could have ever asked for.  Here's to 50 more years! Cheers! 

~Leia 

 

  

Jonathan + Minh

She said she read my blogs, loved my personality, and wanted me to shoot her wedding.  I was flattered.  I met Minh and Jonathan and immediately could see how perfect they were together. I have to have a connection with my brides, be it personality, common interests, TWD, dog lovers, ANYTHING.  I have been sooooo very fortunate to have had a connection with each bride I work with.  When they mentioned they were incorporating Star Wars into their wedding- I was taken.   We gathered around the table getting more and more excited about April 16th!

Here are some gorgeous photos from their engagement and TWO weddings (that's right, we shot 2 wedding ceremony's in one day) and it was really an epic experience.

I loved the story of how they met.  Minh should be a blogger because I love how she tells her story:

We met on match.com.  We emailed back and forth for about a couple weeks and then we exchanged phone numbers and texted/called for another couple weeks until our first date in October.  He came to pick me up in his awesome 1985 Mazda RX-7 and we went to eat sushi at his favorite sushi place Sushi Hayashi in Moore.  It was delicious! Then we went to see Seven Psychopaths.  I thought it would be funny and had a lot of actors that I liked, but nope.  I mean it was funny but it was dark humor and definitely not a good date movie.  Jon kept trying to find time to put his arm around me but then someone was brutally murdered, so yeah.  Needless to say, there was no good time for flirtatious gestures.  Fast forward a few dates, on our 4th date, we wanted to go somewhere and talk because all other dates were movies.  So we went to Tapwerks for some beer.  After a little drinking, we were sharing stories and came up on the topic of sad movies.  I mentioned Titanic and how I surprisingly didn't cry but when I watched Armageddon, I meant to say, I cried my eyes out or I bawled my eyes out, but instead, I said "I cried my balls out".  So embarrassing! I attempted to keep talking while I see Jon biting his cheek trying not to laugh.  After that everything was great, he is so funny and kind.  He is my big, hairy, cuddly bear and I love him for all that he is.

His Side

She knows me pretty well.....what she said and I do love her. 

But I digress, It was a typical night like any other. I was probably playing WoW or staring blankly at my computer screen. I suddenly remembered I had matches to go through on Match.  So I went through my daily matches and read profiles and looked at pictures.  I  came upon a beautiful woman with a profile name that I didn't understand. It read MinhsterCheese. Not knowing what I know now about her, (muenster being her favorite cheese and her name is Minh) I was intrigued and confused.  I read her profile and sent a wink to her thinking that would be the end of it. Low and behold she emailed me!  I remember that day because it made me extremely happy she was interested in talking to me. So this is where my story meets hers. She pretty much nailed it on the head.  It was crazy because everything just clicked with her. Even with our poor choice of movie, that first date was a lot of fun. We often look back on it and laugh.  I've said my fair share of goofy things, like telling her cooking is better than nothing. What I really meant was I couldn't think of anything better than it. I also once told her I loved her "so so" much, which could be confused with "meh" .  But she knew I meant I loved her a lot. Man, I could write a book of my word "mess-ups" haha. Having her in my life has been the best thing ever.  To quote a well known singer, "It's like you're my mirror, My mirror staring back at me, I couldn't get any bigger, With anyone else beside of me, And now it's clear as this promise, That we're making two reflections into one".  I can't wait to start our next chapter together and see what lies ahead.

She got her dress from David's Bridal-Vera Wang and isn't it gorgeous!  It was perfect and she rocked it!

The Skirvin did a beautiful job setting up the reception area.  From the table settings to the cakes, Jonathan and Minh's wedding day was really spectacular.

I caught a few snaps as they were practicing for their grand entrance into the reception.  

They had a second ceremony at the Skirvin, her dad walked her down the aisle twice in one day which I thought was truly awesome.  Jonathan's grandfather officiated the second ceremony.

They made their grand entrance, and had an epic battle!

The guests were completely surprised, and loved every second. 

It was so great to see their outfit change into traditional Vietnamese attire.

Jonathan and Minh incorporated the Vietnamese tradition of walking the tables to thank guests for their blessings and accept cards, gifts, and well wishes.  

Spending the day with Jonathan and Minh was really an amazing experience.  What I truly loved about it, was how Minh shared her family traditions with Jonathan.  There was so much love- and you know me. In love with LOVE!  Thank you for making us a part of your night you two.  Seriously- it was the best.  

Madison's on Main - Cake
Nexus Productions - DJ
Inaru Creations - wedding day of coordinator
Tori Hlad - Hair
Victoria Jakola - Make up
Hosty Duo - Band
Mom (Hong Truong) - Florist

Do Dinosaurs have lips?

I have no idea.  It's a question I heard yesterday, and I've been wondering ever since.  On another note, I've read countless articles over the years about musicians, artists, photographers, (and many other professions) being introverts.  I never knew what an introvert was growing up, I just knew that I preferred to be tucked away in my bedroom with a good book.  Alone.  Photography has changed that for me.  All I knew was that I wanted to shoot.  Never even considered that I'd have to actually market myself, sell to clients, meet people and talk about myself and what I could offer... that never even crossed my mind.  Plan 1: Get Camera, Plan 2: Shoot.  Plan 3: Come out of my shell. Wait. WHAT?!  

Many of the clients, and friends, and fellow photographers that know me, absolutely cannot believe that I am quiet, reserved, and completely content to just be alone by nature.  I'm a homebody.  I'm more than happy to run the office at home, and just hang out taking care of everything.  

The me that now exists since photography-is thrilled when it comes time to meet with clients to discuss their wedding plans-I immediately perk up.  I get just as excited about their plans as they are.  The intricate details, the invitations, the decor, the cake(s), the food, the dress, THE DRESS, the shoes, the jewelry, there are so. many. things!  Aside from the details, I am thrilled when the wedding party has ideas of their own on the wedding day.  My hands shake when I am in the room photographing mom buttoning up her daughter's dress, and the bridesmaids slowly walk in so as not to disturb the moment, and I catch them in the background, smiling, crying, eyes wide with excitement--their reactions are important, and absolutely MUST be documented. When my husband catches the groom writing a quick love note to his beloved, or when his friends gather around him for some last minute laughs.  When the reception area is completely prepared and pristine, and ready for pictures- I think of all of the magazines I've thumbed through, looking at pictures of these very moments knowing that magic is about to happen.

I have become a different person.  That shy quiet mouse disappears, and out comes a strong, confident woman.  One who coaches the bride into position.

who's not afraid to fix the dress for the perfect shot.

Got to make sure everyone looks sharp!

Veil feels loose?  Gotcha!

This job has done so much for me, how can I ever repay it?  Not many people can wake up in the morning and say, "I love my job.  This is where I'm supposed to be."  I get to say that.  I will forever be grateful.  

Moving here 10 years ago was a big change- but now, when the mailman asks me how business is going, or my UPS guy asks how big Angus is, or the lady at the post office doesn't even ask me what kind of shipping service I need when sending out photography stuff because I'm in there practically everyday... I know I am in the absolute right place.  I'm in the right place in my life, and the right place in personal growth.  Photography in itself is the right passion for me to pursue.  I was meant to do this.  I wasn't meant to hide out with a book.  I was meant to photograph the bride and groom's special day, the moments leading up to it, and the moments after.  

This is totally my job.  Pinch me, I'm dreaming. :-)

Until next week!

~Leia

Chris + Mandy

Chris and Mandy are completely enamored with each other.  You can tell by the loving glances, the funny stories they share, the flirting- each time we meet they are more and more in love.   Add in their beautiful daughters, and they have the most adorable family ever!  This is nothing new- this love started back in 2012 when they crossed paths online.  After dating for awhile, Chris decided to plan a weekend in Dallas where he had decided to propose.  He was so excited however that he couldn't wait that long, and caught Mandy in the kitchen.  As Mandy says, "He told me that he couldn't wait another moment to ask me to be his wife.  We still had our amazing weekend in Dallas celebrating our engagement!  He also "proposed" to my girls before he married me.  It was important to him that they knew we were a family now.  I love that he loves not only me but my kids as well."  

Here are the beautiful photos of their day:

The love they share is rare and intimate.  You can feel it when you are around them.  This couple proves that love is not just shown, but felt.

Thank you Chris and Mandy for inviting us- your wedding rocked! 

Joe + Kayla

We met at Sara Sara Cupcakes downtown last year, I remember having an album on the table, and my notebook out ready to take down some details about her wedding plans.  She walked in, and the first thing I noticed was her big bright smile.  We got settled and dived right into what she had planned so far.  As she flips through the album, I ask her how she met Joe.  I love the romance behind it.  Yeah yeah yeah... I love all the mushy details.  No I don't watch Lifetime. (Anymore).  

Kayla was studying abroad in England when she met Joe.  I KNOW!!  ENGLAND people!  They have so much in common, they fell in love.  Despite the challenges of having a relationship that is super long distance, they were determined to make this work no matter what.  He proposed, and she came back home to Yukon to get going on the wedding plans.  So here we are sitting in a cupcake shop while the love of her life is half a world away.  It got me a little choked up.

Fast forward to April 3rd and the sight of them together nearly brought tears to my eyes.  I had a small idea of what it took to make this day happen, airline flights, family coming over to witness the moment, and in that moment I just thought it was the greatest thing that Kayla and Joe brought two family's together from different parts of the world.  Now these family's are joined together forever.  Yukon and England.  It was a pretty big moment and definitely made an impact on me.

Here are a few snaps from the day (as the English say). :-)

2016-05-11_0001.jpg

Congratulations to Kayla and Joe, what a simply amazing and elegant couple.  She is packing her bags as I sit and write this, prepping to move to England.  This story has all of the makings of a movie, I'm telling you!  I hope to keep in touch with her so that I can live vicariously through her on Facebook. lol  So happy to have met both of you.  Cheers!

Michael + Emily

He saw her on TV when she first started at KFOR, and told his buddies at the firehouse that he was going to meet her, ask her out, and marry her.  He had been a big fan of hers for a few years, and by pure coincidence, they happened to be at the same gas station one day.  While she was grabbing something to drink after a workout, she noticed this totally hot guy out of the corner of her eye. He struck up a conversation with her, and the rest is, as they say...history.  

After two engagement shoots, Bridals in Chicago in January, and the actual wedding day itself- I've come to know Emily outside of the public eye.  She is kind, generous, and beautiful inside and out.  Both her and Michael are an exact fit for eachother- perfect in every way- they seem to revolve around eachother like a pair of planets.  

Skip to the wedding day, March 19, 2016 was perfect in every way.  Once again, as if the heavens curated the entire event!  While there are thousands of favorites, here are just a few.

Dress: Moliere Bridal, Flowers: Camden Chitwood, Emerson Events

Dress: Moliere Bridal, Flowers: Camden Chitwood, Emerson Events

Writing a little love note before the ceremony.

Her mom Molly was helping her get dressed, and I loved this shot of them both.

Their first look was awesome.  I'm going to nerd out for a second and tell you that the lighting was absolutely perfect.  In fact I actually made Emily wait for a cloud to pass over the sun before she came out.  We hurried up and shot some wonderful photos, then as soon as the sun came out again- we changed locations.  His reaction was EVERYTHING!  Aren't they a beautiful couple??!!

The cutest cake ever- little Okie is peeking out of the last layer!!! 

The cutest cake ever- little Okie is peeking out of the last layer!!! 

Grooms cake.  Doesn't this look like a real helmet??

Grooms cake.  Doesn't this look like a real helmet??

Precious Okie was the ring-bearer; he had the rings tied around his collar.  I remember Emily telling me, "He's our son, of course he's going to be in the wedding!"  Another reason I really like her so very much. 

The moment they were pronounced husband and wife, the crowd cheered.  So did Okie!  He barked with excitement and made everyone laugh- it was adorable. 

The moment they were pronounced husband and wife, the crowd cheered.  So did Okie!  He barked with excitement and made everyone laugh- it was adorable. 

Quite appropriately, their get-away car was the KFOR storm chaser vehicle driven by Reed Timmer. 

Quite appropriately, their get-away car was the KFOR storm chaser vehicle driven by Reed Timmer. 

Michael and Emily's wedding was not just a wedding, it was an exclusive event.  Everything was carefully planned, and Camden from Emerson Events was freaking fantastic.  I'm not gonna lie, that girl was on top of everything!  She was a pleasure to work with and gave us the creative freedom and time we needed to get some spectacular shots.  With the KFOR band, and a dance performance (several actually), it was awesome to photograph, and a privilege to experience.  I'm so thankful that I met Emily and Michael and had the chance to capture some of the most important moments of their life and love.  Thank you Emily, and thank you Michael, I'm so lucky to call you the best of friends.

Dress: Moliere Bridal Cake: C.Birds Cakes, Grooms Cake: E Michelle's Cakes, Venue: Gaylord Pickens Museum, DJ: Jeremy Miller of BTP Productions, Videography: Ty Uhles, Photography: Leia Smethurst, Wedding Planner: Emerson Events, Catering: Abbey Roads Catering

So yeah, I have a photo booth.

Most of my life, I've tried to be the nice girl.  Not wanting to make waves with anyone- wanting to keep things running smooth, always enjoying friends, never wanting any enemies.  I mean who does?  Business is hard.  It's this delicate dance of wanting to succeed, wanting to pay the bills, put food on the table, wanting to really win at this thing called life, but being aware of how to go about it so that no one's feelings are hurt.  I've never wanted to step on anyone on the way up- and I have a hard time even acknowledging that I am climbing the photography ladder because again, I consider myself to be humble, private, I've never been interested in showing off- I have a really hard time giving myself credit and patting myself on the back once in awhile.  Hell, I hardly post on Facebook... I'm old school.  If you want to know what is going on in my life, freaking call. lol.

My colleagues and acquaintances are important to me.  I enjoy meeting new people in the industry, or people that I'm friends on Facebook with, but have never actually met face to face (I have a few of those).  At this point in my photography career, I know that I don't have any competition.  I know- we've ALL HEARD THIS BEFORE...YOU are your only competition, BLAH BLAH BLAH...but it is actually true.  My photography style is not everyone's cup of tea, and I'm ok with that.  Seriously.  I think we all try to pull away from what everyone else is doing to define ourselves; I've definitely pulled away from the pack, and over the years have isolated myself so much that really I only associate with a few other photographers.  No I'm not a snob, a bitch, a loner.  I'm just busy 'doing me.'  There is nothing wrong with that.  I'm busy focusing on running my business, meeting brides, shooting weddings, obtaining commercial work, focusing on raising my kids, finishing our house (yes, 11 years now for those who are interested....).  I really just want to give clients the best possible experience, and in order to do that I have to be in this office day in and day out, scheduling engagement sessions, working on timelines, getting contracts sent out, bookkeeping, scheduling, marketing... If I don't do this, there is no reason for me to stay at home.  I might complain about sorting receipts, and bookkeeping now and then, jokingly on Instagram... but I enjoy the work.  I was born to run an office.  I've always been really good at that- any past employer can attest to that.  I check in on Facebook now and then, sometimes a few days go by.  I don't have time to scroll and troll.  Again, not being bitchy- just honestly busy! Plus now that I've turned another year older, I'm at that point in my life where I'm thinking... "Am I too old for Facebook?" That's another blog.

For the last 7 or 8 years, Shane (my husband for those who don't know his name) has been wanting a photo booth.  It's never really been something I've been interested in.  I love holding a camera in my hand, and being a part of a moment.   He however (and this is another reason why I love him so very much) is ALWAYS thinking of the "Next Step."  "So what are we going to do? Shoot every weekend?  Ok, but what about ________________" (insert his "Next Step" here).  He's talked about photo booths for years.  How fun they are, how easy it would be, how it would be another way to work and stay busy within the community, and still within the business of photography.   Again, I've never felt it was an exciting thing, never really seemed interesting to me, I never really cared.

So, he is researching them, and we decide to take the next step.  This makes me nervous as hell, I'm not going to lie.  First of all, I know a few photographers who have photo booths, and because I'm always concerned about peoples' feelings- I'm afraid that feelings will be hurt, even though I barely know these people.  Crazy right?    I'm also concerned that I really know nothing about running a photo booth, how to market it, it's like loving to cook, but then being asked to start a farm.  Now starting a website and ordering business cards, registering it with the state and getting a tax ID?  Sign me up- I can do that all day.  Business checking account here I come... again... I have no problem running an office and starting a business on paper.  I have a problem publicly saying that I am starting another business, because I don't want to hurt or piss people off.    

Here goes: Yes, I am the proud owner of TWO businesses, completely separate from eachother, but can be run together if a client wants both.  It's been running since February, and I've never publicly acknowledged it or advertised it on my personal page.  Some might think I'm nuts (my husband being one of them), others can sort of understand where I'm coming from.  

I want to be respectful of the other people I know in Oklahoma who are working hard, putting food on their tables doing the same thing I'm doing.  It's hard, it goes back to that delicate balance of working, wanting to be successful, yet wanting to still be friends with everyone.  Sometimes it works, sometimes you just can't do it.  At this point though, I do realize that I just have to work, and this photo booth has to work, and I will be advertising it, and booking jobs with it.  It's years in the making- in fact had I not said "no freaking way" 7 years ago to a photo booth I probably would have had that first before I started photography.  I love what I do, I love the people I've met.  That I'm aware of, I've never hurt anyone- I'm sure this blog is not even necessary- but if I feel it is, than it probably is.  

We had our first photo booth job last Saturday and it was amazing.  I'm not gonna lie, I had a smile on my face the WHOLE time.  The kids had a blast taking photos, I had a blast watching them... it was SO MUCH FUN.  OH MY GOD.  When we were done, we both felt like we were high on life.  It was energizing.  Photography is too, don't get me wrong, but in a different way.   It felt so strange to stand there and watch people have a good time.  Shouldn't we be running around with cameras??  I discovered this firsthand:  People are more willing, and more comfortable acting silly and really just being themselves to a box, than if it were me holding the camera.  You can cover a wedding all day long, but to have a photo booth at your wedding and seeing how genuinely silly, happy, daring, (insert other good verb here) your guests are- and having those additional photos as part of your night really is a huge bonus.  People will do things in front of a box that they WOULD NEVER do in front of me.  The smiles are even bigger, the laughs are even louder, I can't even describe how cool it is.  We are definitely fun photographers, and we make people laugh all of the time but this was SO. DIFFERENT.  

Now I can see the appeal of running a booth.  I can understand why it's coming back and why it's so popular.  This blog is also meant to say to the world, "Yes Babe, you were right."  :-)  We are excited about putting our own spin and style on this business, and I have some really great ideas on how to do that.  Let me just say- no one else is going to be offering a style like this in Oklahoma THAT I KNOW OF.  It all goes back to: there is no competition, people are either going to hire you or NOT!

So without further adieu, I'd like to introduce Take Your Pic, LLC.   It's our newest baby, born in early February, growing bigger and heavier by the day (hopefully the midnight feedings and diaper changes will end soon).  So yeah.  I have a photo booth.

Until next week (I'm currently buried in editing and papers)

Happy Shooting.

~Leia

Rachel

The title says it all.  Rachel.  I know the moment my phone lights up and displays her name, there is a beaming beautiful girl on the other end.  I am honored, truly honored to have met Rachel and her husband Brandon last year.  I was chosen as their wedding photographer, and what a great time we had.  From engagement photos, to Bridals, to their actual wedding in November at Noah's Event Center, to more Bridals... we were all too happy to take pictures.  Their wedding was gorgeous, but also private- however I CAN share Rachel's gorgeous Bridals that we took here in-studio.  We had planned this for awhile, and wanted to photograph her in her traditional dress.  

There are no words to describe how wonderful the shoot went, and how freaking spectacular the photos turned out.  Her makeup was meticulously applied by the wonderful Ciara Amir.

Not only was this bridal shoot a lot of fun, but we are trying to come up with reasons to shoot again!  I can't wait for next time! 

Happy Shooting!

She said "YES!"

It all started January 20, 2016 when I received an email from Austin.  He was planning on proposing to his girlfriend Chelsea on March 5th, and was wondering if I could capture the moment.  I was immediately excited, and quickly replied, "Yes!!"  I could tell by the mood of his emails that he had been thinking about proposing for a long time.  Chelsea means everything to him, and he wants this thing planned out to the T!!  Heck I couldn't wait to meet Chelsea, I felt like we were already good friends, we hadn't even met! He works hard in Texas all week, while she is here finishing school; on weekends they are inseparable.  

We went back and forth a few times, working out a date and time in February where he could sneak away to discuss the details of the shoot.  

Along with his proposal, there are a few things I have to plan for as a photographer.  

  • Where are we doing this?  (What vision do you have for the photos themselves)?
  • What time of day?  
  • Where are you going to stand? 
  • How are you going to ask?
  • What are your plans afterwards?

So on February 20th, we met, and discussed all of the above.  You absolutely have to have a plan for the moment.  The proposal itself goes by so fast, that you really really really have to be on top of your game.  He sent me photos of him and Chelsea together (awwwww!) and a photo of the location itself with a clear vision of what he was aiming for.  Austin was definitely very organized, and knew exactly what he wanted.  This helped me out a great deal.  (When clients tell me exactly what they want complete with pictures, believe me- it's extremely helpful)!  We talked about the direction we wanted him to face, where we thought he should stand, how he was going to start the proposal, and what we were going to do after the surprise had ended.  

The day we met was beautiful.  I had never been to the Skydance Bridge in Oklahoma before, but I plan on visiting a lot more.  At the time of this blog, I've already shot there twice!  It's a magical spot!!  At this point, we are all extremely excited.  Austin is laughing and excitedly talking about the moment, and how happy he'll be when they can just celebrate!  We offered to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to celebrate, and we were off to the races, looking forward to March 5th! 

March 5th arrives, there is less than a 30% chance of rain.  Skies are a bit overcast, but othewise perfect!  Shane and I are in our usual stealth positions, pretending to take photos of the bridge with our 70-200's. (LOL).  Shane signals to me that they have arrived and are walking towards the bridge.  What happened after that, literally had tears running down my face.  I didn't even realize I was crying.  It was one of the happiest proposals I had ever witnessed.  Genuine love? YES.  Genuine surprise and excitement? YES.  Complete and utter shock.  YES. YES. AND MORE YES.  

So there you have it.  The longest secret proposal EVER.  It was TORTURE!  I am so glad that I met them both, and I hope to work with them again when it comes to their wedding.  What a gorgeous couple.  

On a technical side note, I used my Mark III with the 70-200 to capture the proposal from a distance, and after the surprise was finished, I switched to my Fuji X-T1 and 56mm which worked like a dream!  Sharp, LIGHT, and just plain awesome.

Anyone else have any surprises coming up?  Give me a call.  I can keep a secret. :-)

~Leia