Get To Know Your Photographer Better – The Importance of the Engagement Session | South Carolina Wedding Photography

So…you just got engaged. Congratulations! You’ve just said “Yes” to the love of your life and have finally settled down to start planning the big day. So many big decisions have to be made, like choosing the perfect date to get married on, and all of the vendors that will help make your day even better. It can be very frustrating or stressful, but once you pick out the best people to join you for the biggest day of your lives, things start to fall into place.

Once you’ve found the photographer of your dreams (wink, wink), maybe you’ve already had some engagement photos done. Maybe it was a family or friend that has an interest in photography, or a professional that you just wanted to work with before you found your current wedding day photographer. And that’s okay! But you noticed that the package or collection you chose includes an engagement session. Now, some photographers are flexible if you choose not to use the engagement session or may want to substitute it for a bridal session or some print credit. We all understand. BUT! I am here to tell you to USE. THAT. ENGAGEMENT. SESSION. And here are the reasons why.

JennMarie Photography - South Carolina Wedding & Portrait Photographer | Couples

I include engagement sessions into ALL of my wedding collections. Why? Many reasons. First, I want to know you better. To me, it’s important to form a bond between myself and my couples. You love my work? Awesome! You want to be friends? YES, let’s! You don’t want a stranger documenting your wedding day, you want someone you can trust that will capture everything around your perfectly. Think about it though, your wedding photographer will be spending the entire day with you. So, getting that engagement session with your wedding photographer gets rid of those “I’m kind of nervous in front of the camera” jitters. And you don’t want those on your wedding day…promise.

You’ll also get a good idea of how I am behind the camera. To me, it’s really important that you are comfortable working with me.

Doing an engagement session with your wedding photographer is crucial. The engagement session not only helps break that barrier, but we also get to know you better. What makes you laugh, what prompts work best for you as a couple, are you a “Blinky Bill” (sorry to anyone named Bill, lol) and to easy any anxieties you may have during our session. I also get to deliver images that are unique to your relationship and personalities.

I hear it a lot, “We are really awkward in front of the camera”, “My fiance really hates taking pictures”, or “I don’t know what to do”. Y’ALL, this is where I come in. I have some tricks up my sleeve that make you feel not so posed and give your photos natural emotion and movement, so you’re not just standing there all stiff like mannequins, haha.

Most importantly, take it easy! Think of this as a break from wedding planning. I know that’s easier said than done, but during your engagement session, you don’t need to think about anything other than being with the one that you love and just having fun. Other reasons to have engagements done? Save the Dates, cute new outfit, possibly do makeup/hair trial runs, make it into a date night later, and “Y’ALL, we’re getting married!” pictures 🙂

Josh & Jenny – Married | Calvary Baptist Church – Simpsonville, SC | South Carolina Wedding Photographer

Meeting Josh & Jenny was a whirlwind because of their distance apart.  Josh was in Michigan working and trying to find a job in the Greenville area, so I only meeting Jenny at first.  I was initially contacted by Josh because, as Jenny told me, he likes planning things out, so she just let him do it, lol.  Which was a great change for me.  I like speaking with both the bride and groom in the planning process, and there’s been times when I won’t meet the groom until the day of the wedding.  But they were both part of every process every step of the way.  It was just refreshing.  Also?  Josh & Jenny are just the kindest and sweet couple anywayyy, so they made me feel like I had the easiest job in the world.   I also photographed their engagement photos, you can see those HERE.

I arrived at their gorgeous venue, which was Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville.  I don’t typically enjoy photographing in churches due to the lighting, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were lots of windows in the front foyer and plenty of lighting showcasing them during the ceremony.  It was a lovely day.

Josh & Jenny opted for a first look, which I always recommend, for that extra intimate moment together before the big moment.  But theirs was just as wonderful as any other.  I try not to intrude on their moment, so I keep a little bit of distance away if I can.

Without going on forever and ever, here are some favorites from Josh & Jenny’s wedding 🙂

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I want to thank you, Josh & Jenny, for asking me to be a part of your wedding.  It was truly a pleasure meeting and working with you and also meeting your wonderful families!  I wish you both the absolute best in your lives together and marriage 🙂

 

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Kevin & Kelly – Engaged | Furman University – Greenville, SC

I met Kevin & Kelly at a Starbucks back in September.  We talked over the main details of their wedding, laughed mostly, and got to know each other a little better.  Kelly was actually referred from one of my long time clients, Jessica (Ya know that super adorable couple I’ve done my styled shoots with?  Yeah, them!  Most recent session with them HERE.), who she use to work with.  Said that loved my work and chose me to be their wedding photographer.  How awesome!

Their engagement session was so much fun and we had MANY laughs, as I’m sure there are many more to be had from the way that we interact with one another, lol.  The day that we were at Furman University, there was either a football or soccer game going on (don’t remember which) and they had been playing Black Eyed Peas, so it could be heard all over the campus.  While I was switching out one of my lenses, I had my back turned for a minute, and in true “me” fashion, I started rapping a part of the song in this deep, burly voice.  Totally professional.  And from behind me, I hear this burst of laughter coming from Kevin & Kelly because apparently I had interrupted a romantic moment they were having.  Whoops!  😛  One of the many perks of working with this ‘lil gal.  I break out into song at any given moment, be prepared folks!

Here are some of my favorites from their engagement session 🙂

Kevin & Kelly are to be married on May 6th, 2017.

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Thank you Kevin & Kelly for making a part of this process in your lives.  I can’t wait to do Kelly’s bridals soon, and then the big day in a few months!

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Matthew & Kalee – Married | Lake Robinson – Greer, SC

I received a phone call from Kalee about a month prior to their wedding saying she needed me for a couple of hours to photograph her small intimate wedding at Lake Robinson.  I love small, intimate weddings just about as much as big, elaborate weddings, so I of course said yes!

Matthew & Kalee had been together for several years before deciding to tie the knot.  They wanted something small with just immediate family and that’s just what they had.  The view of the Lake from the dock was just beautiful.  It wasn’t too cool or hot that day (Even though it was early/mid December) and the sky was just gorgeous.  I couldn’t have asked for better weather for an outdoor wedding!

Here are just some of my faves from their big day

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Also!  Matthew & Kalee had been trying to have kids, but never would take.  I’m happy to say that they are expecting TWO precious bundles of joy!  Again, congratulations to you both for your marriage and the babies!

Thank you again for allowing me to document this amazing day for you both.  I wish you both the absolute best with your wonderful family 🙂

JennMarie Photography - South Carolina Portrait & Wedding Photography

Calling Yourself Out: Dealing with Jealousy & Admitting Mistakes

I’ve had (emotionally) a rough past few weeks, I hate to admit.  I’ve doubted myself more than I should and I let my emotions impair my judgement professionally.  And I’ve done this on more than one occasion, but I have yet to meet a photographer who hasn’t made some kind of mistake like this.

We’ve all heard of “faux-togs”, right?  People who go out and start photography “businesses” after just buying or receiving a BRAND-SPANKIN’-NEW-RIGHT-OUT-OF-THE-BOX DSLR and have no intentions on improving their skills or any desire for a real passion in photography.   Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more of these people…everywhere.  You’ll hear most photographers talk about these types of people at weddings as “Uncle Bob” or “Aunt Sally”, who are pretty much photo bombers for the hired professional.  I mean, the list goes on and on.

BUT!  As you get better and better (as long as you try to improve), you’ll see all of these mistakes that you made back when you first started, and you work hard to make sure that those things never happen again.  But there are SOME people who don’t even try.  No real passion for the art and only see it as some extra cash in their pocket.

This is where I made the mistake.

The mistake where I let jealousy and my true love for photography get the best of me without even thinking.  I sounded off about how these photographers were taking away business from “real” professionals by only charging a very small amount ($25-50) per session.  I also went about saying how much I had worked hard in the past three and a half years and how I improved my skills, but these people where getting all of the business.  It’s not fair.  Why would these people who are charging such cheap prices and low quality get all of the praise & business that I wanted/needed?  But then I remembered (a little too late, might I add)…….I USE TO BE ONE OF THEM.

First Wedding - JennMarie Photography

This was my FIRST wedding.  I think I charged them $50 for the whole wedding.  I swear to God, this is all true.

First couples session - JennMarie Photography

I done this……..yes.  I did.

Couples session - JennMarie Photography

Oh yeah, and I done this too.  Not sure what’s so awesome about that strand of grass and their blurry selves, but mind you…I has just started.  And that angle?  MY GOD MAN!  WHAT WAS THINKING?!

Now that I go back and look at my “work” back in 2010-11, I realized that there were probably people who were saying the SAME EXACT thing as I have said about those other people.  And if I would  have known back then what was being said about my work, I’d feel like a pile of poo and just quit.  And that’s when I realized that I was being a big, fat jerk and a bully.

Now, I’m not sure if you know how I feel about bullying, but I DESPISE it.  I’ve had a sibling who has been a victim of bullying so there’s no way in the world that I’d ever condone it.  And at the moment when it clicked that I was doing something so hurtful to people, without even speaking directly to them, I hated myself.  I immediately pulled down everything and started working this blog post in my mind because I know I’ve had past clients who saw what was posted and even if you didn’t see it, you deserve to know how I felt anyway.  And then, I got a message on Facebook from someone that I unintentionally hurt.  I felt like a sack of garbage, like someone should’ve just thrown me in the bin, because I. felt. awful.

To all of you who are just starting with photography, whether or not you are doing for extra money or because your truly love it;  I was once in your shoes.  But, it gets better, it really does.  If you work on improving your skills, making sure that you have the best equipment that you can possibly have and LEARN how to use it, you will be SO much better, in time.

I told this to the person who messaged me yesterday and I wanted to say it here, that I was truly jealous.  I was so angry with these people who were getting SO much business and praise for doing so very little.  That’s what I wanted (still want, to be truthful! lol) and I couldn’t handle it anymore.  My mind just threw out all professionalism and went crazy.  I have a great friend, whom I once felt intimidated by.  She had started taking pictures and I thought of her as one of “THOSE” people at first, because I really felt like she would take away my potential business.  Living in such a small town, yeah…..it was possible.  So I was kind of snobbish towards her at first…whether or not she realized it.  Why would I give her all of my advice and knowledge?  Why would I just throw everything I knew away to someone who could potentially put me out of business?  Not too long after that I watched something from Jasmine Star (or someone else I truly admire, I can’t remember for certain) that told me (something along the lines of) that no matter how much you help someone or what advice you give them, it’s not gonna make a huge difference if they don’t know what to do with it.

And again…I felt like a huge jerk.  So, I started helping her out as much as I could and if she didn’t fully understand something, I’d explain it to the best of my abilities with examples of what I do in that certain situation.  And now?  I love her to death and I can truly call her a great friend.  Also, she started upgrading her equipment and LEARNED how to use it and she is getting so much better every single day.  I couldn’t be any more proud of her than I am right now.  By the way, she knows that I’m talking about her, lol.

I guess you need these moments in your life and career to push you forward and to be the best professional that you can be.  Dwelling on others’ mistakes can get you nowhere, and getting angry because of their small success doesn’t make you a better photographer/person either.  If someone is having trouble with anything, help them and push them in the right direction to be better photographers (as long as they want it).  I mean, the only way that you’re gonna see yourself getting better is by trial and error and trying new things.   And how are gonna be able to do that if you don’t know that what you’re doing is wrong?  I had the pleasure of having some friends who were gracious enough to help me when I asked questions about settings, equipment, etc.  I can’t imagine where I’d be without that kind of help back then.  Shewt, I still need help NOW with certain things.  No, I’m not the perfect photographer….buddy, I’m far from it! lol  But I can at least help others with what I DO know.

Have a great week,

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