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




Photo Con 2016

I attended Photo Con 2016 right here in Oklahoma City on Friday, and it was awesome!  The vendors were great, ranging from Canon to Nikon, Sigma, Radio Popper, Bedford's (of course), Sony, Lowepro, Westcott, and a number of speakers.  I was able to go in stealth mode with my Fuji, and shoot from the waist.  You see, the X-T1 has a tilt screen, so I can take pictures of what is going on, and people think I'm just fiddling with my camera.  

I finally got to meet Xavier from XP Photogear.  He was great to talk with, and was happy to show me all the latest and greatest.

Radiopopper and their line of triggers.

Sigma had some beautiful new lenses on display!

Met Eric Epperly, and yes, I thought this photo was hilarious.  Didn't catch it at the time, but hey, I was a journalist today. 

There was a lot of folks on-hand to educate.  You could bring your camera, ask questions, test out new lenses, it was awesome!

The Sony rep (pictured right) was awesome.  He showed me the new Sony Alpha a7R II (they are currently running a special price during the expo if you wanted to get one).  Wow, what an amazing system.  I seriously regret not checking them out before I upgraded to the Mark III.  

Need a tripod?  Well... here are a variety that you can try out BEFORE you buy, and here is the one guy that knows them all like the back of his hand.

I did get to see Robert Trawick and Jim Felder in action using that cool Podcast machine.  Being interviewed is a Canon rep, he was talking about the new Canon printer that had come out this year.  If you stop by their booth, they will print out a photo for you! Check out Robert and Jim on their Fotofacts Podcast (available in iTunes).  They are a wonderful bunch, and interview so many great photographers and vendors.

I wish I could have stayed longer, especially since Sue Bryce was there.  I actually saw her when she had first arrived, and I should have approached her then, but didn't.  I was trying to be as much of a photographer today as possible, but at 3 p.m., mom duty calls.  There is dinner to be made, and kids to pick up from school.  My friends are posting photos online of her speaking, and I am totally jealous- but that is ok. :-)  I know when the time is right, we'll meet again.  Was it a great experience?  Sure!  Many vendors on hand to answer questions, and to let you try out the products firsthand.  I had my mind set on a few things, but after playing with them at the Expo, I changed my mind.  Which was awesome, it saved me time and money.  So yes, today was a success because I got a chance to network, try things out, ask questions, and see the new and upcoming toys.  

I did walk away with a couple of things:  The MagMod Basic Kit, I'm interested to see what it can do to change my OCF (off camera flash).  I love being creative with light.  I especially love the selection of gels it comes with, and the cool magnetic feature.  I also got a TetherTools Kit- something I have been wanting to try for YEARS.  They say it will prevent Lightroom from quitting and kicking me out while I'm tethering during a shoot.  This is SOOOOOO annoying- not to mention embarrassing.  Will I be returning next year?  Probably.  I say it was worth the $75 ticket.

Until then, happy shooting!

~Leia

Fuji X-T1 28 days later

Back in early January I wrote about my Fuji's.  Now that some time has passed and I've crossed over into "Fujiland" throwing all inhibitions to the wind- I've got to say- this system is really amazing.  As I have mentioned many times over the years- I follow Zach regularly- and one thing in his last blog really stuck out.  He mentioned how he had shot a print catalog for a clothing company and 90% of it was shot with the 56mm and the X-T1.  That got my attention.  I mean- yes, you can take a photo with any camera and have it printed- but knowing that he had used this on a bigger job, and knowing what the ultimate goal of those photos really was- it was really intriguing that he chose that system.

While I have played and played and played- I had never taken any Fuji out on an 'official' shoot. There is always that stigma.  If I show up with this camera, the client I'm working with isn't going to take me seriously.  If I show up with this, their confidence is going to disappear.  If I show up with this... (and on and on).  Two weeks ago, I took the X-T1 (and my Canon just in case) on an engagement shoot.  Not only did the clients NOT care what camera I was using, but I never pulled my Canon out once.  I switched from the 35mm to the 56- and it was fantastic.  Changing the aperture and seeing how it will affect the image in real time through the EVF is simply amazing.  I can't do this in-studio however- because it won't account for the fact that you are using OCF.

Getting home and pulling the RAW images up in Lightroom, the sharpness, skin tones, and image quality was stunning; zooming in to the images in PS at 200% and the images are finally start to pixelate... the quality is astounding.  The RAW files are roughly 33 mb/each- there is plenty of file to work with.  Another interesting thing to be noted, is that it appears to shoot so much sharper than the Canon.  It focuses dead on everytime, unless I accidentally hit the button.  With my Canon, it's not exactly sharp everytime.  Some images are soft- even after I have carefully focused on the subject- that is something that has always bothered me.  The Fuji has really surprised me.

The following Tuesday, I had a 70's editorial shoot here in the studio.  Not only did it work flawlessly with my triggers and lights, but I was able to make some adjustments to the screen in order to have the best studio experience.  Again- the images came out amazing, and I love having a half-second preview (in the eye piece) of the image I just took.  This saves times, and lets me make any camera adjustments quickly- without having to pull the camera away from my face to 'chimp.'  As usual, using a combination of the 56mm and the 35mm.  I'm learning these are my two favorite lenses.  

This morning- guess what?  Another engagement session downtown and I didn't even think twice when it came time to decide what body to take.  I now have a dedicated camera bag with all my Fuji gear.  I grabbed that- and headed out without a care in the world.  I did add a grip this week to my kit, and it has made a big difference.  It's easier to handle (no pun intended).

I know I was the one with the hangup.  The clients know I'm going to take care of them.  They know they are going to get some amazing keepsakes.  I think the last thing they are worried about is what tool I'm using for the job.  On a shoot, the subject is nervous about how they are going to look- I am nervous about what camera I'm using.  In the end- it works out everytime.  

Happy Shooting!

~Leia

Bridals in Chicago- Sign me UP!

Emily and I have been planning her wedding since last year and we have had so much fun doing it!  A few months back she asked if we could shoot her bridal session in Chicago, her hometown.  I excitedly said "YES!"  Since then we've been furiously emailing and texting back and forth coming up with ideas and places she wanted to go.  While this blog sadly won't feature photos from our AMAZING shoot-(you'll all have to wait until after March for that!)- I will share the awesomeness of my trip!

We left Thursday night, the 14th, and of course I couldn't resist a few photos of the beautiful city before we landed.

The moment we landed, Emily and her dad promptly introduced me to my first Chicago-style hotdog, which was really tasty.  Not like any hotdog I've ever had- full of flavor, spice, and awesomeness. 

 Here we are getting a hot dog minutes after getting off the plane. :-)

Here we are getting a hot dog minutes after getting off the plane. :-)

After a good nights sleep, we are on our way to Mario Tricoci's salon where Emily went in for hair and makeup.   

While she was getting dolled up for the shoot, her Maid of Honor Shauna stopped in- I was so happy to meet her, they've been best friends since early grade school.  In short, they're sisters.  :-)

We took so many epic photos that day, and I can NOT wait to share!!  I mean... I'll have to wait- but seriously- I can't wait! 

This was State St. with my favorite store Zara! 

To get nerdy for a quick moment, the Canon 5D Mark III performed flawlessly.  This was my first shoot with it, and I loved it.  The performance was really spot on.  Of course I had my Mark II as my backup, but it was pretty easy to slip right into the upgrade.  Thanks again Emily, and Family for being such amazing hosts, and making me feel so welcome.  Can't wait to see you again in March!

Just how organized am I???

Everything is online these days.  Want to order a Pizza? Go online.  Want to schedule an appointment? Pay a bill? Check your account balance?  Heck...book your wedding photographer?  Go online! So much is done online today- I can't even remember what thumbing through a phonebook was like!  It's so easy to 'google it' or 'look it up on your phone!'  I have moved to an online system this year, and I am loving it.  My clients are loving it- skies are blue, we're all dancing in fields- life is amazing! :-)  I want to share a little secret with you.  I am absolutely, positively crazy when it comes to my schedule.  I wasn't always this way believe me.  People used to ask me, "Hey! What are you doing next week? Let's go for coffee!"  I would happily reply, "Yes!  Let's!"  All without looking at my phone, a calendar, or schedule of any sort.  

In recent years, TOTALLY different story.  Want to go for coffee? I'm going to have to check my schedule and get back to you.  No! Seriously!  I am as organized as I can possibly be.  Not only do I have my calendar that has everything scheduled on it, but I have a cloud based calendar as well in case something happens, THEN I have a regular calendar book with all my shoots written in pencil and highlighted, THEN I have my contracts within arms reach, (dates highlighted) so that I can absolutely verify with 100% accuracy whether a certain date is available for a client.  Can you imagine the horror of double-booking a wedding???  Holy Crap!! I couldn't even begin to imagine having to call a bride to let her know I accidentally booked another wedding on her date!!  I would seriously want to crawl into a hole.  

 This is organized chaos.  I know exactly where everything is at, and what needs to happen next.

This is organized chaos.  I know exactly where everything is at, and what needs to happen next.

Have I ever screwed up?  Yes.  I had a guy call me last summer out of the blue who wanted to book an engagement session with me.  I had it written down on a Post It because he wasn't sure where he wanted to shoot, or what time, so we were still in the planning stages.  I was supposed to meet with him to put together a game plan.  Well... I was standing in the kitchen cooking dinner for the girls when my phone rang.  It was him, wanting to know where I was at.  My heart froze- I realized that I didn't insert our meeting into my calendar, so I completely forgot all about it.  I was mortified, embarrassed, and every other bad feeling you could imagine.  We ended up not meeting, he canceled with me- and you know what? I don't blame him one bit.  If I can't even remember a meeting, how could I possibly remember the shoot itself?  It made me look incompetent.  All I could do was shake my head, I was so disappointed in myself.  

From that evening forward, I knew in my mind that something like that would NEVER happen again.  I have a strong workflow that prevents things like this from happening.  

So, before any lead books I'm checking the date they want to shoot first with my online calendar, secondly with my calendar book.  It's crazy I know- but it's a safe guard.  I know everything is online, and I know it's meant to make my life easier, and it has- believe me!  BUT- I still need paper.  I still need something written, highlighted, and underlined.  Meetings are entered in, retainers collected, shoots are scheduled, contracts signed, printed, and highlighted, entered automatically into my online calendar, which syncs with my cloud calendar, then handwritten again into my planner.  

It would be interesting to see what your workflows are, whether you are a photographer, a florist, or a DJ.  How do you keep your businesses organized?

Have an awesome week everyone!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia 

My Editorial Kit

I'm frequently asked what lenses I use for headshots, or fashion work.  This week is the perfect chance to share because I'm putting a small kit together for my trip to Chicago.  It is a bridal shoot, but I love to treat bridals as "fashion" because really- that's what it is.  Beautiful Bride's showing off their dresses- yeah. It's fashion.  

First off, my trusty Mark II is my main body.  I will be using my Fuji more (I talk more about that here!)  My Canon has been with me for 3 years, and I love it.  I send it in once a year for a checkup, it and just keeps shooting.  While there are a few things I would change about it, it continues to be a trusty way to get my shots.  A few close friends jokingly ask when I'm going to upgrade, or get out of Canon completely and embrace that cool new Sony A7- I do plan on upgrading to the Mark III here very soon, but as far as leaving Canon completely- I honestly don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever.  I'm actually wondering when they'll stop fooling around and just come out with a mirrorless already.

As far as lenses, I love using my 50 1.2 for pretty much everything. It's my favorite focal length for weddings, engagements, small groups, fashion- almost anything I can think of, I always use my 50 as a starting point, and change focal lengths from there.  My 100 2.8 is a great lens for portraits and details.  It is completely versatile.  I don't have to worry about camera to subject distance, because it will focus either way.  I can shoot from a distance, get some great compression, OR shoot a little closer to the subject, crop in-camera and get a great tight headshot.  For engagement sessions, I love getting ring shots- the beautiful bride-to-be looking up at her fiancé smiling, her hand showing off that gorgeous ring.... as with any prime, all I have to do is move my feet.  For real versatility I love what my 24-70 does for me.  If I'm in a tight spot, and I know there will be some issues with space, or if I know we'll be outside and my clients will want wide as well as tighter shots, I trust that the 24-70 can handle it.  This was the first piece of L glass I bought, and while it's not 'version 2' it is still a really wonderful sharp piece of glass.  I love prime glass though; I love using my feet to move in and out of a space.  Zooms are great, but primes are greater.  Give me a 50 and an 85- and I'll be shooting all day.  I only use zooms out of convenience.    

I don't upgrade at the drop of a hat either.  I know there are several lenses that have had the second version come out- but my lenses work great for what I am capturing.  They are all very sharp, and they just work.  I'm sure someday if I try the 24-70 II, I'll think myself a fool for not upgrading sooner.  I'm not always on the lookout for the next lens, the next body.  If something works, I stick with it.  

I have my trusty 580EXII, (we have 2 of them), and love them.  We use them off camera, on camera, with a diffuser, without, they've survived falls, drops, mine even came crashing down onto our tile floor from 8 feet up.  I sent it in to CPS and they repaired it- but it came back good as new, and is still firing.  I don't see the need to go to the newer flash- yes I know the 600's do more- but these work just as well for what we use them for.  

This is my Speedbox 65 that I've had for over a year.  I take this thing with me on every single shoot-weddings included!  It is the most perfect speedlite diffuser that I have found.  It collapses perfectly, opens at the drop of a hat, and again- it just works.  I only have one, but would like to get the Speedbox 70 this year sometime.  I love the perfectly diffused light that comes out of this when we are outdoors.  The subjects face is perfectly lit, all shadows disappear, it's as if magic took place... seriously.  For weddings, it works great for the cake cutting, and formals.  

I'm going to have to take it apart completely for my trip- but I'm excited for the shots I'll be getting.  All photographers have certain kits for certain things.  There is no right or wrong here, you use the best tools for the job.  I mentioned my 85 1.2 earlier, that is a great lens- no complaints- but I love it most for studio work.  It is a nice heavy lens- tack sharp but love it most in a controlled setting.  

Let me know if you'd like to see blogs on anything else.

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia

Let's Dance

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The radio was ALWAYS on as a kid.  Either high or low, never a day went by that we didn't have music.  Waking up Monday morning and hearing that David Bowie had passed made me reminisce about the times we danced to his music growing up.  I remember Let's Dance and how my mom used to turn it up full blast, and we would dance in the living room, the car, or wherever we were at.  

Music has the ability to make you feel.  Music drowns out the world, or lets it in.  You pick songs that mirror your feelings, and you almost feel as if you have a friend there- someone who is there that you don't need to have a conversation with.  While I'm not a huge David Bowie fan (there were really only a few songs I liked) I am saddened to hear that he is gone.  Cancer is a bitch that must die.  It has taken too many loved ones.  RIP to all of our friends and family that are gone, we miss you.  

 

My Second Love.

I'm coming clean this week and letting my friends know that I can't hide anymore.  Time to call it what it is.  I started my marriage with Canon 10 years ago.  It was a handsome silver little point and shoot that lured me in.  I moved forward through the Canon line.  Just over 2 years ago I was introduced to the Fuji x100 online. It made me a better photographer.  It forced me to do things I had never done with Canon.  I took chances, risks, shooting was fun again, it was liberating.  We hung out downtown, in parks, it fit into my hand so nicely- we were a match. We went to weddings together, and the shots of reception details were fantastic.  I couldn't tell what I shot with my Canon vs the Fuji.  Yes, it is THAT good.  Friends wanted to know more about Fuji, I happily shared stories and photos of the moments we shared together.  

I took a serious cross country road trip with it, leaving my trusty Canon behind.  Scary? Yes.  Worth it?  SO MUCH YES.  The photos that came out of that trip were so gorgeous, sharp, and clear that I published a book with them.  In print- wow.  You can't even imagine.  I wanted more.  I moved on to the Fuji X100s, then the Fuji x100t.  My husband and a few close friends were really surprised I didn't move straight to the X-T1.  But I had my reasons.  

Last week I decided to finally try the X-T1 with the 35mm and it is everything I imagined, and more. So. Much. More.  

 Fuji X-T1 with 35mm attached, Fuji X100t

Fuji X-T1 with 35mm attached, Fuji X100t

Just in the 2 days I've been shooting exclusively with the X-T1 I can see the appeal.  From the shutter speed, the tilting screen, the fact that you can CHANGE LENSES, the array of options and settings- it's incredible.  This morning I took some amazing headshots with it, and I just love the ease of use.  My triggers connected easily, and I was in business in minutes.  I love the way I can control the light- in my opinion my lights are easier to control with the Fuji line, than they are with my Canons.  It's like they just KNOW what to do with the light.

 The tilting screen is going to be excellent for those times when I need to get a nice wide overhead shot- I can tilt the screen so that I can see what I'm shooting!  

The tilting screen is going to be excellent for those times when I need to get a nice wide overhead shot- I can tilt the screen so that I can see what I'm shooting!  

It is a crop, so any lens you get, you've got to remember what it really is after the 1.5 crop factor.  The 35mm that is attached is really a 52.5 and that is perfect.  50mm is really my most used focal length and this was the lens I wanted to start out with.  

Anyone who is curious about anything Fuji really should follow Zach Arias on his blog.  He is an absolutely fantastic Commercial photographer and I've secretly stalked him for years- since his One Light days.  He can tell you what is what when it comes to Fuji.  He shoots with a Phase 1, and I see that he is slowly getting out of Nikon.  He primarily shoots all of his Editorials with either his Phase or his Fuji's.  

Am I breaking up with Canon completely? No.  I believe we can all live in the same house together with minimal disagreements. :-)  You see, I use my Canon for everything, but I'm learning that I can use the Fuji for everything too.  At 8 fps, RAW/jpg, transferring photos wirelessly (oh yeah-it has built in wireless)- that in itself is already more than my Mark II can do.  I'm really excited to be flying to Chicago this week to shoot Bridals for one of my brides with this camera- of course I'm taking my Canon too- but this is going to be a wonderful opportunity to really see what this baby can do!  I can't wait to post the photos from my latest adventure, but that probably won't be until late March- after her wedding.  Hope you all have a fabulous week!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia 

New Year, New Me.

Everyone has that one candle that they've never burned.  It's ok to admit it- I know because I have them all over the place.  This one is from Mom from 3 years ago, it smells great, I want to save it forever.  This one is a pretty color and I may not find it again anywhere- so I'm saving it. This one over here has a really good smell that is sold out, I'm saving it.  I started really thinking about all of the things I'm saving.  Saving for what?  After I had my accident last year, I started thinking about the house, and the way I left it.  Unburned candles, an unopened bottle of wine, a few shirts that I want to wear someday but haven't found the right occasion.  I don't care what anyone thinks of that, but I care.  What am I doing? What am I waiting for? You never know when your number is up.  I guess the point of this blog is some sort of written affirmation that I plan on living.  Although last year ended a little rough, this is a new beginning.  A rebirth of sorts. I'm letting go of the bad of 2015 and starting fresh.

After the accident, I had some pretty bad internal injuries that needed to be urgently addressed; it was a miracle I was able to work like this and it wasn't even until this month I actually started feeling like myself again.  You have no idea how important your health and wellbeing are until you temporarily lose them.  Your health is everything.  EVERYTHING.  Don't ever look at someone and think that just because they look fine on the outside, that the inside matches.  I'm proud to say that I have one more month of medication and I'll officially be 100%.  I never let my injuries affect my job.  Six days after the accident, I was shooting another wedding, then another.  

I'm going to say this: I'm burning every candle in my house.  Yes, even the beautiful candle picture above from my mom.  It smells amazing, and I'm enjoying it.  I went on a photoshoot this week, and wore a bright red blouse that I love.  I picked it out because it was daring, beautiful, the material felt good, it made me feel alive in the dressing room- but I've never had the guts to wear it anywhere.  Why?  I don't know- so much of my job is 'blending in.'  This week I put that blouse on and felt good about it.   2016 is going to be different- I'm going to live more this year than I did last year.  I'm making every moment count.  

I have some personal goals this year with my photography as well- and I can't wait to put them into action.  I have implemented new software this year that is really going to streamline my studio- quotes, invoices, workflows, contracts, EVERYTHING is going to be online.  So far the response from clients has been wonderful.  The studio has really jumped ahead by leaps and bounds- not only has it made the first week of the new year so much easier, but it will really keep everything organized and in one spot- not only for me, but for clients as well.  You will be able to access your invoices and contracts all online- so if you happen to lose anything- there will always be a copy online.  All existing clients should have received an email last week introducing the new system.

So my friends, don't be afraid to live this year.  Don't be afraid to burn that special candle, and bask in the ambiance.  Don't be afraid to let your hair down and enjoy life!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia

2015. It was nice knowing you.

Pictures tell a story.  We all know that.  But when we are the story-tellers, who is telling OUR story? We manage to sneak in a few behind-the-scenes photos at every wedding, much like our clients, we like to remember the moments too!  Looking back, this year has been very good to us.  This year has been full of a lot of great memories, meeting a lot of great people, working with a lot of great clients, and vendors.  We have much to be thankful for.  We are happy doing what we do.  I honestly believe I am doing what I was meant to do.  Weddings are my thing!  I tear up at every one, I get it.  I really do.  I can't believe this is my JOB!! EEEEEEEEK!!! I am so lucky.  

 I realize I use my hands a lot.  Pointing, directing, shifting.  And constantly reminding my clients that only  ONE  ring rules them all.  That's right. ONE.  

I realize I use my hands a lot.  Pointing, directing, shifting.  And constantly reminding my clients that only ONE ring rules them all.  That's right. ONE.  

 Hang the dress, cut the cake, stand like this, check our lights.  We love it.  We really do. 

Hang the dress, cut the cake, stand like this, check our lights.  We love it.  We really do. 

We are incredibly grateful to do what we do, and we are so excited to be welcoming a new year.  2016, I'm not going to get ready for you.  You better get ready for ME! 

Jake and Kayleigh Disney

It was a beautiful Fall day in October when we arrived at Southwind Hills for Jake and Kayleigh's wedding.  The hustle and bustle was on, and we worked ourselves right into the flow of preparation.  Kayleigh was excitedly getting ready with her bridesmaids and family, and Jake was upstairs with his groomsmen.  Laughter was heard throughout the venue, the sound carried due to its size.  

Not a "First Look" per se... but close! 

We absolutely loved how animated this group was!!

So many congratulations go out to you both!  It was a totally awesome evening filled with laughter, excitement, love, tears, and plenty of dancing.  Congratulations, and heres wishing you both a lifetime of happiness! 

Venue:  Southwind Hills

Dress: David's Bridal

Cakes: Buttersweet Cakes

Flowers: Southwind Hills

Catering: Southwind Hills

Photographer: Yours Truly!! 

Mitch and Ashley Hiebert

This blog is long over due, we traveled to Guymon in May to cover Ashley and Mitch's big day, and what a blast!  I remember how excited Ashley was when she came over to my house the week of her wedding- we were all gathered in my livingroom going over last minute details.  Ashley's family is so beautiful, so sweet, and so close.  We couldn't wait!  Here is Ashley's story: 

"Mitch and I met through some mutual friends while I was attending OU. We instantly hit it off and exchanged numbers. After that we didn't see each other for about a month because we couldn’t seem to find a weekend where we were both free or where I wasn't heading out to my parents, so we texted and even Skyped some nights. He was one dedicated guy! 😊 He had already planned what our first date was going to be and it was supposed to be a complete surprise, but I sweet talked him into telling me. He wanted to take me to Frontier City, but I kindly explained that I wasn't much of a rollercoaster fan, and asked if we could go to the OKC Zoo instead. So on September 15, 2012, we finally had our first date! I stayed with my grandparents in Covington that weekend and met him at the mall in Enid. He got out of the car holding daisies (I had mentioned earlier that was my favorite flower), and gave me a hug. I remember being so excited, yet nervous at the same time on our drive to OKC. But of course, he ended up being a total sweetheart, and we never once had any awkward silence the entire day. That night when he dropped me back off at my car, he asked me to be his girlfriend, and of course, I said yes! (I only needed one date haha considering we had talked constantly for an entire month before this day.) Anyways, from that weekend on, we spent almost every weekend together. And two years later on August 1, 2014, while we were on vacation with my parents in Colorado, he asked me to marry him! He had asked my dad in June during harvest if he could marry me, and so my parents helped plan the whole thing. My dad even recorded it, which is a great memory to have! After that, we began planning the wedding!"

I'll never forget the moment she threw me this killer look before going back inside!  I mean come ON Ashley!  She's got the man of her dreams and we couldn't be more excited.  Cheers to love and happiness Mitch and Ashley!  You are both so perfect! 

Jared and Mary Jo Silsby

Jared and Mary Jo met at Chesapeake Energy Arena  in downtown Oklahoma City.  They both work there, and are huge sports fans.  With so much in common, this was a match made in heaven.  On a crisp beautiful Fall day in October, Jared and Mary Jo promised their forever love in front of family and friends.  As Mary Jo and her amazing bridesmaids were preparing for the evening, laughs, hugs, and smiles were a constant.  

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With a beautiful gold sparkly curtain in place and a basket full of props, I knew she had planned a fun evening with her guests.  

Oh the excitement.  "Look at my dress!!"  

Mary Jo and her crew!  She was definitely feeling the excitement!  There is always an electric buzz on a wedding day.  It's hard to describe, and there is no other moment like it.

There was a game that day, so in between getting dressed, Jared and the guys HAD to watch the game! 

Beautiful Bridal Photography happening here!

There are many posed photos on a wedding day, but we all love the spontaneous things that happen.  The in-between is just as important as the intentional.  We had the chance to have a lot of fun with Mary Jo and Jared before their ceremony, but they were waiting to see each other for the first time as she was walking down the aisle.  

We have witnessed many gift exchanges between a bride and groom- but nothing like this.  Jared made a scrapbook of ALL of the dates they had gone on over the years.  From games, to movies, it was all there on the pages, complete with pictures.  

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Her dad walking her down the aisle, Jared's big smile, standing together as husband and wife.  It was such a beautiful ceremony.  I loved it when Mary Jo leaned her head on Jared's shoulder.  So. Much. Love. 

We love the First Dance.  With family and friends gathered inside as darkness fell, it was time to cozy up to each other and let the night slowly unfold.  

Everyone had a blast, right up until the moment they left.  Congratulations Jared and Mary Jo!  Cheers to the start of your happily ever after!! #silsbygothope 

Venue:  Chisholm Springs

Dress: Moliere Bridal

Catering: Swadley's

Photography: Leia Smethurst Photography

Table Settings and Decor: Marianne's Rentals

Cake:  Stacie's Cakes

Chance and Liz Elliott

It's 3:30 when we arrive at the Festivities Event Center in El Reno.  It's warm, skies are clear and there is a refreshing breeze.  Inside, the old building is cool and has a lot of good history and old stories attached to it.  Today it is nicely decorated with beautiful tables, chairs, and photos of Chance and Liz together.  I smile at the photos, remembering when we took them during their engagement session.  We are wheeling our equipment in, when suddenly I hear giggling upstairs.  I look at Shane and we both smile.  The day is here.  After much planning and anticipation-the day is here.  After timelines, shot lists, emails back and forth- the day is here.  I go upstairs to let Liz know we've arrived and I am greeted with just love, happiness, and excitement.  Her dress is hanging near the bed waiting for photos.  She is sitting in a chair getting her hair and makeup done- her friends are gathered around, and there is love.  So. Much. Love.   

Liz's mom had a brilliant idea of using a crochet hook to button up her dress.  Genius-and it was soooo fast!

We were setting up the first look, and Chance was getting into place.  I caught the girls peeking on him before I ran downstairs.

I've never seen a ceremony like this.  This touched my heart to the very core.  Chance and Liz were not the only ones exchanging vows of love and commitment, Liz also exchanged vows with Jaci.  It was so emotional and so gripping that I had tears running down my face as I was shooting.  It brings tears to my eyes again as I'm writing this.  As a mother with 4 children- I absolutely understand how meaningful this was.  There wasn't a dry eye to be seen.    

We had the best time, and loved every minute.  Chance, Liz, and Jaci are a beautiful family, and we can't wait to see them again.  Thank you so much for welcoming us to the party.  Much love from us to you!  

How to save time AND waste it quickly and efficiently

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how I completely replaced my laptop with a tablet.  Of course I have a desktop- but for on-the-go work, showing client albums, replying to emails quickly after business hours, keeping up with my website, social media, reading, or passing time in a doctor's office- a tablet is really the way to go.  This week, I am focused on one single app that has completely revolutionized the way I keep up with my favorite blogs.  

Feedly.  Feedly has changed my life.  If it cooked and did dishes, I'd probably marry it.  Seriously though, this little app is truly amazing.  Just as my title says- this app can help you save time by collecting the feeds from all of your favorite blogs all into ONE place.  Of course it will help you waste time in such an organized way it's hard to feel guilty about it.  

You can search for topics that are of interest to you and start following those just to get started.  You can also search for specific websites and whenever a new blog is written from that site, it will automatically import into Feedly.  You can also discover blogs that you never knew existed! (hence the wasting time part).  I open this app every 2 or 3 days- sometimes depending on how busy I am- it might be a week or more.  All of my favorite blogs are on here, just waiting to be read.  It's like magic.  

All of your blogs show up on the left hand side if you feel like looking to see what you are subscribed to-otherwise the list stays hidden.  It's easy to see what you have available to look at, the interface is simple and clean.  If you feel like reading a blog at a later time, you can save it to Pocket- which is a handy app that collects blogs or stories on the net- so that you have one single place to read them.  

Another great thing, is that you can share whatever blog you are reading to social media.  I love sharing blogs about weddings to my Twitter account.  Occasionally I'll share a blog on Facebook, or copy a link and share it somewhere else.  

So there you have it!  This app is completely awesome, helps me stay organized, but also allows me to keep up with my favorite blogs without wasting hours on the internet searching for them.  If I have to search for so many- I will end up forgetting a few- so having them imported to one app is fantastic.  Anyone can use this obviously- not just photographers.  Teachers, educators, engineers, students... you can tailor this for YOUR interests.  I've included links within this post so that you can check it out for yourself.  Feel free to leave questions or comments, and I will respond.  If you do get it, be sure to follow MY blogs if you aren't already! Hope you all have a fantastic and productive week!

Until next week!

~Leia