April Bridal (Kinda) Check-Up // HF Photo

Hannah is a kindred spirit that I was lucky enough to stumble upon in my central NY life. Absolutely smitten by her dark and moody photos, I followed along with her instagram and fell in love with a dreamy tree landscape she had posted. We became fast friends after she stopped to drop off said print that I had purchased and I bombarded her with two shoots I wanted her to participate in with me. 

I probably speak to Hannah at least once a day to share a funny story, vent, and also find inspiration. She even credits herself with the start of my relationship :) It's an amazing thing to connect with other creatives and encourage and support one another wholeheartedly. We've collaborated on multiple shoots together with so many more to come, and it's wonderful to see her grow on her photography journey. 

Hannah has a deep love for natural light and nature and it's so evident in her photos. I asked her to be the April Bridal Check-Up as she truly captures couples in the intimate settings of their homes. Read more below:

Q: Hannah, as a natural life photographer, you truly capture in home sessions and the beauty that is in “being home.” What draws you to these moments?

Ahhh, in-home sessions are one of my favorite things to photograph. It's the intimate moments between two people who love to be around each other that I cannot get enough of. It's almost like... You know how everyone takes selfies? Usually it's just a planned, face forward, smiling picture? The in-home sessions really give you a chance to relax. It gives you a 'still life moment' when you may look at your partner a certain way after they kiss you on the cheek, or that real, authentic belly laugh after they say something ridiculously silly in your ear or the touch of your partners fingers through your hair... I absolutely love when the couple forgets I'm there and they are simply, home. 

Q: For those that are interested but nervous about having a photographer in their home, what do you suggest? What’s the best way to capture those relaxed, candid moments?

LIQUID COURAGE! (just kidding... kind of.. ahha) A lot of people are nervous in front of the camera, let alone in your house trying to be cute, in love and intimate with your partner. I try my best to talk to people like they are truly my friend. Like we've known each other for so long and we are just hanging out while I snap a few adorable photos. 

I also explain to people not to have this idea of what the perfect picture is suppose to look like. When I start, I usually just say "Ok let me test the exposure to see if everything's looking right" and I snap a few photos. This "breaks the ice." I can tell when people are uncomfortable and if we get shooting and they aren't really feeling the pose, or their hair is stuck behind an elbow, I'll crack some jokes to get them laughing again!  I'll also sit there and make fun of myself to get the awkwardness off them and put it on me and beeeelieveeeee me, there is plenty of ammo in that department.

Q: Do you offer direction or styling?

Absolutely! Once we get reallyyyyy going it gets easier and easier, but in the beginning I'll get them in the most comfortable pose possible. When I start shooting I gage how 'intimate' or touchy feely they want to get... and usually it feels silly when I say "just a lil closer.. ok ... yep just like half inch closer to her nose...yep! Perfect! right there!' and they start to laugh because they are like "ummm ok I'm pretty close now" and then you get those cute laughing moments with their noses touching, looking down, etc. I'll typically keep them in a pose for about 20 shots and i'll move around them while slightly adjusting their pose for the best possible shot. If something looks totally awkward and weird, I will definitely tell them!  Sessions tend to take on a life of their own and I let them flow but with some correcting here and there. 

Q: What are some of your favorite photos?

Hardest. question. ever. but I'll try haha! If I HAD and I mean, life or death situation HAD to choose... It's gotta be when the couple forgets I'm there for a second after I tell them to go in and kiss each other. I've had people peck on the lips, and I've had couples full on make out for a few minutes... I just let them go with the flow. I just love when people forget I'm there! Ok but my second favorite is when I tell them something like....  "okay, whisper your partners favorite vegetable in their ear in the sexxxiest way possible" that always gets a good laugh and the next ten shots are GOLD because they are truly laughing and close and in love and ahhh.. all the feels. 

Q: Do you offer other sessions other than in-home?

I do! I absolutely LOVE photographing families, content for local businesses and events!

I love families because it's a time capsule for the parents. I photograph in a very journalistic way, letting the session take it's own course. I love how fun kids are and I tend to tell the parents to just let them do their thing and let me take care of the rest. 

Content for local businesses is also a huge passion of mine. Giving a business a gallery of images that they can use for promos, social sharing and content for their website is an amazing feeling!!!  And events? That's just a ball. I once photographed a high school reunion and it was probably the hardest I've laughed at a session, ever. Everyone was in such a good mood and ready to have a good time that it made my job easy! 

Q: What kind of camera do you use?

CANON BABY! I have two bodies, a 40D that I've had since college and I recently bought a 6DMII and OMG i am in love with this bad boy. I also shoot with a fixed 50mm 90% of the time, but also have an 85mm and a 24-105 lens. 

Q: Anything else?

Being able to work creatively and express myself through photography is literally a dream, a ten year old dream in fact.  I never thought I'd have the guts to work with real people... or have people even like my work... I thought I'd be too awkward or people would not how I operated, etc.  When I hear people compliment me – its still a shock. I just love what I do and I want people to have amazing pictures. That's all.

 Hannah, thank you for being a wonderful person, artist, and friend. I can't imagine not being on this journey together. Visit Hannah at her website here.

March Bridal Check-Up // Pretty Little Vintage Co.

With another month came new adventures since my last post - I've traveled a whole bunch for Adirondack weekend getaways, took some time off from work (for the most part), and have been trying to go to bed at a decent time (does midnight count?).

Working in the wedding industry, we've seen everything from the good to the bad, the beautiful to the omg-what-were-they-thinking, and my favorite – the ever-so-perfect, let the happy tears flow now kind of shindig. 

I'm incredibly fortunate to work with so many talented vendors that believe in the same vision that I do, and more importantly, believe in community over competition. Over the past year, these people have not only become co-workers but great friends as well.

My lovely and strong friend Bri of Pretty Little Vintage Co. allowed me to ask her some questions about their process. This lady is tough, friends. At 5'7" with an athletic background, I'm pretty strong - but this girl moves whiskey barrels and sofas like nobody's business. She drives the same truck I do (yea!) and can maneuver a trailer without taking anyone out. Her hard work is evident in everything she does and I'm proud to call her a friend. 

Read below to learn more about Pretty Little Vintage Co.:

Q: When should a bride meet with you?

We recommend that couples meet with us as soon as they have a wedding date and location set! Pretty Little Vintage Co. carries one of a kind rentals that are on a first come first serve basis. We would love to make an appointment to go over our packages and pricing at the warehouse so they can see everything in person before booking. It is very common that we book multiple events in a weekend so if there is something that they just have to have at their wedding , booking early is best!

Q: Do you have any recommendations to help couples envision their dream wedding?

Our in-person meetings are just for that! Couples come to the warehouse and we chat about colors, details, themes, must haves and go over their wedding inspiration photos. We love to recommend pieces and design one of a kind displays and lounges that speak to the couple and show off their personality.

Q: Vintage rentals, do you have modern pieces as well?

Yes! While the majority of our inventory is vintage, we do carry other specialty and more modern pieces that complement our vintage pieces flawlessly. 

Q: Coordination and styling, whats the plus?

We don’t offer coordination or planning of weddings but are happy to recommend some talented vendor friends that do! If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you can see our signature style and design.  Our styling services help tie everything together and guarantee that you get the desired look you’ve dreamed about for months. We love to style our pieces in the event space while incorporating your floral and other decor. 

Q: What can a couple expect when working with you and Chris? 

When you choose us over other rental companies, it means the absolute world to us. We make the rental experience easy and go above and beyond to make sure you have nothing to worry about on our end. 

 PLVxHD Collaboration - Rustic wood, pretty letters, a gorgeous table - perfect for my annual HarvestFest!

PLVxHD Collaboration - Rustic wood, pretty letters, a gorgeous table - perfect for my annual HarvestFest!

Q: Your dog, Maggie, makes a lot of cameos. Does she have a favorite piece?

Maggie does have a favorite piece! When we first moved into the warehouse, we were working in there a lot trying to get organized. Where we go, Mags goes - and she would always jump up on our pink sofa and take a nap when she got bored. If we couldn’t find her, we eventually knew to look there. She loves that sofa. So much that we even named it after her. 

Bri, you're a wonderful friend and an incredible business woman. Thanks for taking time out to answer these questions! Your dedication continues to encourage me every day!

**Photos by HF Photo

January Bridal Check-Up

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Happy 2018! I almost can't believe that I just typed that, I'm one of those people that thinks the 90s were only 10 years ago. Last year, I worked with 26 couples, participated in almost 10 styled shoots, and hosted 16 workshops on calligraphy + hand lettering. Thank you for keeping my dream alive - I truly owe it to the couples who love the extras during their big day and the events leading up to it. 

One of my goals for 2018 is to check in more - be present more. Part of this will include a monthly bridal check-up. We'll chat with vendors, recent brides, even couples who have been married for 50+ years (holy moly!). I'm fortunate to work with and meet so many wonderful people who have so much to share that I'd love to share that with you too. 

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First up, our Catskills bride, Danielle. I had the privilege of meeting Danielle at NYSSSA, a summer program for incredibly talented high school art students. She took me under her wing and I'm so grateful for her friendship. I even have "my spot" on her couch, don't try to steal my favorite blanket either ;) After 10 years of dating, Mike finally popped the question and in less than 6 months (yes - you read that correctly), they were married in a beautiful Hudson, New York barn. Read more about her story:

Q: What’s the first thing you did as a newly engaged person in your planning process?

A: Immediately we started looking at venues and calling and to check the availability. We realized that the fall was only 5 months away and realistically finding a venue to fit what we wanted would be difficult. We also knew that we had an idea for a vision, and without the right venue that wouldn’t be something that could happen. Obviously we looked online first and then made a list, calling each of them to find out available dates. We set up site visits that at venues that had dates that worked for us. That was how we ultimately booked The Hill and were able to put a plan in place for our vision from there. 

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Q: You had a tight deadline, what would you suggest to brides about staying sane? 

A: Yes 5 1/2 months!! I would say the way I stayed sane was by making a priority checklist. We locked vendors in quickly, and we lived by the checklist. As a DIY bride I had a lot of projects so I needed to keep to a timeline to get everything done. I had deemed the dining room the wedding room for those months and kept everything in there organized by supplies, projects, and finished things. As I finished them, I stored them in boxes and labeled them with not only what it was but also a little direction/description for others on that day to know what it was and how to use it. I also made a binder with directions and pictures of things to hand to day of coordinator so she could follow my vision (I’m kind of a control freak a little).

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Q: Did you have to make any compromises?

A: Um... I wouldn’t really say compromises exactly. There were a few parts of the experience I think we missed because we were in a hurry that could have been fun. I think going to wedding shows would have been fun. Having a tasting at the caterer would have been fun and delicious but because of our quick timeline these were things we skipped. We also were unsure of our DJ and ultimately took a chance on him and he was fine, but it was one of our most difficult vendors to find as most we had recommended to us were already booked. 

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Q: You had rain at your outdoor ceremony - how did you make that work?

A: I had a plan before hand and realistically knew it was going to happen and if it did, some of my planning (unfortunately a lot of it) would be wasted and realizing I would just have to deal! I had planned for rain too by ordering matching umbrellas for the bridal party in case (they could be returned if not used). Going over possible photo options with our photographer if it was raining during first looks, photos, etc. Discussing with venue people how ceremony would change if it rained and caterers with how cocktail hour would change. Most of it was communicated to people in the days leading up to the wedding as the forecast didn’t look favorable. Then, on the day of, we were waiting and watching the weather and had a deadline on when the decision had to made and changing the plan. And to be honest at that point it was disappointing but it works and everything works out and it’s fine! 

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Q: Looking back, is there anything you would change?

A: Lol, the weather! Haha no I’m kidding. We were lucky enough to at least get to take pictures before the rain. If I could do it again I would find a day of coordinator that I trusted more or even maybe someone I knew. I had hired someone through a company and realized too late that my confidence in her was not what I wanted it to be. I think that worrying if she was doing something was my biggest stressor that day. I was right to feel that way because she wasn’t as competent as I would have liked. 

The only other thing is I would make sure to eat if I could do it again! Everyone raved about the food and I can’t really tell you about it because I never really ate! Bummer. Because we skipped the tasting, I missed out on it then, too!

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Danielle truly took DIY Bride to a whole new level and the results were just stunning. She made it possible in less than 6 months by keeping her cool, going with the flow, and being optimistic. Danielle and Mike are now expecting their baby girl this April and I can't wait to meet their new little one. I'm so excited for them and this new adventure they are about to embark on. 

Venue: The Hill, Hudson, NY
Photographer: YTK Photography
Save the Dates/Invitations: Handmade Darling

The Hand Lettered Difference - Does it Matter?

In many of my workshops, I'm often asked on how I began my lettering journey (usually right after the question on why I left the big city for small town living - but that's another story). I began graduate school in 2012 at Pratt Institute and was submerged into a world that was quite foreign at the time - incredible designers, breathtaking work, professors who not only worked with the great but were the great as well. 

In my second year I began working closely with Tony Di Spigna who served as my thesis advisor. Tony was a ball buster – he pushed me past limits I didn't know were possible, I cried, he yelled at me when he thought I could do better. I took away phrases like "You can drive a truck through those characters!" and "Go for a walk! Get a beer! Go get laid!" as part of my everyday conversation with him. In the midst of my classes and thesis work, I was also running Handmade Darling, the studio apartment-sized business that featured handmade greeting cards and less than a year old. 

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Tony had worked for the Lubalin studios when Herb Lubalin was still alive, and created a vast amount of work that is recognizable and downright brilliant. Tony's hand work was something that was no longer seen as a young designer - I entered Pratt still wet behind the ears with a fancy computer and hoping for the best with a good eye for design. Although, my one strength was simple - drawing. What I lacked in Adobe knowledge I made up for in hand skills which got Tony on my side. I signed up for his hand lettering class and finally felt like I knew what I was doing. I dove head first into lettering and studied the designers that I had loved but never had a name for. Over the course of my time at Pratt I developed skills that allowed me to tackle this journey with visual hierarchy, negative space, correct line spacing, and the way a letter curves from a downstroke to a hairline. I was introduced to typography, traditional spencerian and copperplate alphabets, and the ability to see what worked and what didn't. 

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Five years later, I've honed those skills and Handmade Darling is now a business that continually serves others on their special occasions. The best reward is the feedback and response from every happy couple, birthday girl, bride at her shower and more.

Many times, students will ask me about vinyl signs, cricut templates, pinterest "inspo" and the like - I do my best not to cringe and I'm sorry in advance if I do in conversation with you. There's absolutely nothing wrong if you're a crafter and enjoy adding pieces to your work. However, as someone who has apprenticed and is trained in this art form, I truly value the time, patience and skill behind each piece. Whether a custom sign or a new piece, each goes through an intense creative process. Multiple drafts are created, a variety of pencils and markers and inks are used, copy after copy, and then a final execution – making sure each letter, each character, each curve is where it should be. I still practice, even five years later, and it's a journey that is ever evolving. 

If you're new to hand lettering, I encourage you to go beyond pinterest, past the motivational quotes, past what you think is just good. Find inspiration in the tried and true artists who live and breathe typography, who see letters that form shapes and characters, who have studied this movement long before this craze took place. So the question, does hand lettering really make a difference? Yes, a million times yes.

Happy writing and learning. Looking for suggestions on typographers to check out? Let me know!

Bohemian Elegance in Upstate NY

A gypsy soul is the perfect way to describe myself... and this shoot. Full of rich colors with ambers and jewels, this bohemian shoot is quite the stunner. I may be biased because this is my style but I am just in awe of the collaboration that took place. 

Set in central New York amongst the hills and farms, Pretty Little Vintage Co. hosted this incredible shoot. Working along seasoned wedding vets was quite the honor and I became immersed into this beautiful world. From custom globes to banners, Handmade Darling had a little touch throughout and I couldn't be happier with the final photos. See below for rustic, bohemian inspiration:

 The most perfect dessert table!

The most perfect dessert table!

 You are my greatest adventure. Available on  etsy.

You are my greatest adventure. Available on etsy.

 Dream A Little Dream of Me.

Dream A Little Dream of Me.

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Vendors included:

Vintage Rentals & Styling: Pretty Little Vintage Co.
Photographer: Jovial Photography
Hair & Makeup: Backwoods Beauty
Dress: Asher Bridal
Donuts Bar: Just Donuts
Macrame Backdrop: Tied by Loretta
Macrame Chair Swags & Plant Holders: Fig & Fiber
Linen: Party Crush Events
PhotoBus: Snapshots Photo Booth
Invitation suite: Louelle Designs
Calligraphy: Handmade Darling
Florals & Styling: C&A Event Planning
Jewelry: LaaLee Designs
Video: Horizon Aerial Media

Cold Barn, Warm Heart Wedding Styled Photoshoot

A few months ago I had the absolute pleasure of working with Bri of Pretty Little Vintage Co., the cutest vintage rental company in New York (actually anywhere!).  We met through instagram and she was kind enough to introduce herself and invite me to participate in my first styled shoot. 

I poured over pieces I could bring and embarked on my journey to NNY to the Iva Smith Memorial Gallery, a big ol' barn turned gallery turned venue. I did not dress nearly warm enough but had the best time hanging out with my new friends and being behind-the-scenes. Little did I know I would make a truly wonderful friend and then be asked to participate in even more shoots!

These photos are sure to make any barn-lover swoon, we had an incredible photographer, Anna Elizabeth Perkins, truly capture the moodiness of the venue. Candlelit, rustic, and oh so perfect... see below for the details of this incredible day.

One Year Later...

I am not someone who easily establishes roots. I make decisions in haste, I think quickly without fully weighing my options, and I often both enter and leave a situation in a whirlwind. I know this about myself, and understand how frustrating it may be to others who care and love me. When talking with a friend and her mom one weekend, I spoke about all my transfers throughout college and all the half-hearted applications I put through but never fully completed. My city existence has been replaced now with country roads lined with corn stalks and Mayberry-esque towns where not only does everyone know my name, but they know my dog as well. 

I'm sure someone has taken bets on how long my central NY living would be, but y'all, last month was one full year, and I'm still here. I did move (shocker) but from a townhouse to a big beautiful house all to myself. I know that moving 4 hours away is not a dramatic thing to do, but I did leave behind all that I knew. I had to say goodbye to my family and friends, and the ability to see them whenever I wanted. It's still hard to say goodbye and every now and then, my heart aches when I see photos or know of plans I can not partake in. My best friend is getting married in April, and it killed me to not be able to go home and try on bridesmaid dresses with her. However, my life in CNY has been 100% curated by me. Past decisions and poor choices were no longer part of my everyday, and I've had the ability to rework my journey. Sure, I've hit hiccups along the way, some little and some big, but each day I'm tackling things head on.

So here I am, one year later, and roots have started to develop in the little town I now call home. I feel safe, and I'm so thankful that I trusted my journey to get to this point. 

New Beginnings // Fall 2016 Collection

Full of white pumpkins, whimsical lettering, and vintage goodness, I'm thrilled to introduce my very first video for HD's fall 2016 collection. I'm so happy to see my little studio apartment business slowly coming together. The journey is a journey for a reason - it's more than overnight luck, or knowing the perfect way to make things happen, it's about figuring it out as you go and working hard along the way. There have been sleepless nights, both happy and sad tears, and a lot of life lessons that I've learned - but I wouldn't change it for anything. Visit my etsy shop to see these listings, they are live! Music by the talented @dustyleeelmer.

More to come on this new blog... Stay tuned!