weddings

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

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

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

New Website, New Client Experience!

As you have probably noticed, many many changes have taken place on my website in the last week.  I made a big move.  After hearing Robert of Trawick Images rave about his website, I was interested.  What really gave me the push was a client who was flipping through one of my wedding albums who commented on how sharp my images were in print compared to how they appeared on my website. Ummmmm. WHAT?  This needed to get fixed immediately!

Needless to say, I started my journey to figuring out what I needed to change to give clients the best possible viewing experience.  Unfortunately it didn't come without a learning curve, lots of emails to customer service, 3 or 4 calls to my good friend Robert, and 24 hours of hard work, configuring, sweat, failures- and triumphs.  I built my last website and the sheer amount of work that goes into something like that is an experience that you just don't forget.  Digging through hard drives trying to find images from 2 or 3 years ago, writing a new bio for your 'about me' page- wording it so that you sound sincere, but wanting to be quirky, funny, and relatable at the same time- then realizing that you can't transfer any of your blogs, you will have to completely copy and paste everything over one by one- then...... and the list goes on.  

If you hang around me long enough, you will know that once I put my mind to something- that is IT.  Consider it DONE.  Did I go from not knowing anything about Squarespace at 9:30 a.m. to having nearly a complete website by 9:30 p.m.?  Yes.  Yes I did.  It was totally insane- and while images were loading what was I doing?  Laundry, breakfast, laundry, lunch, folding said laundry, dinner, playing with the girls, I was on fire Wednesday.  The idea that my current and future clients might reach a 404 "page not found" error was horrifying- so I knew I had to get as much done as I could stand.  Now....the logical person, the smart person, would have had this new site set up already BEFORE they let their other site go- but not ME!  I like to keep life exciting- you only live once right?! 

The response has been amazing.  Let me explain how huge the response has been.  New brides are reaching out to me simply because of how amazing the images look on their phones, their ipads, their computer screens.  They are sharp, colorful, brought to LIFE!  My images are being seen the way they were meant to be.  I am extremely glad I switched, and so happy that the client flipping through my albums made that comment.  If anyone is seriously thinking of changing their website over Squarespace really worked for me.  I'm completely happy with the way it looks, check it out: www.leiaphoto.com. There is still work to be done; photos still need to be loaded, settings tweeked here and there but for the most part, I'm up and running.  Clients will still receive their online galleries with print purchase and download options- so nothing has changed on that end.

Now, time to get off of this computer and go shoot!  Hope you all have a great week! 

~Leia