Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Exciting New Twist on a Sand Unity Ceremony

If you're getting married, chances are you've heard of a sand ceremony, where the bride and groom pour two sands together as a symbol of being inseparable. It's a sweet tradition.

But what happens with that sand when you get home? You put it in a pretty vase, and then it just... sits there. Well, it sits there till your Labrador puppy or two-year-old bumps into it and the symbol of your unity is now embedded in your carpet for all eternity. Till it gets sucked up by your vacuum.

Last week, I was talking to a business associate of mine who described a fantastic twist on this tradition. Instead of combining sand, the bride and groom combine tiny pebbles of colored glass. After the wedding, they deliver the glass pebbles to her studio, and she fires them together in her kiln into a beautiful, functional work of art.

I became instantly smitten with this idea. Today I photographed samples of her work, and wanted to share it with you.

The glassware is available in numerous colors, styles and shapes. Contact Helen for more details at Get Fired Up, here in Sanford Maine. 

...And if you're from out of town, out of state, or even farther, contact Helen anyway - the kit is easy to ship wherever you are. 

At the beginning of the ceremony: Two vessels, two colors.

During the ceremony, the grains of glass are poured together.

Once combined, they're virtually inseparable. 

Several types of containers are available for the kit - or you can use your own.

A closeup of the two colors before, and the finished piece of fused glass.
Stunningly beautiful, and surprisingly durable.  

Choose many different colors, shapes, styles.  Personalizing is also available. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Books - 2014 Remix

There aren't a lot of things that are used less at a wedding than a guest book.  Not everyone signs it, and once the wedding is over, you realize that it's one of the first things to get thrown out.

The ugly truth is that guest books aren't all that great.  Guests file in and sign their name, and for most weddings, only one or two pages are used.  Of course, a great idea is the matted wedding photo, where you have your guests sign the mat with their thoughts and best wishes.

Would you like another great alternative to a guest book?  We've got one for you!

This is a wildly popular alternative to a guest book: The Irish Blessing Stone Tradition. (originally featured on, a now defunct website) It's rich in meaning, and costs next to nothing. You'll need about as many palm-sized smooth stones as you'll have guests, a white or silver waterproof paint pen, and a pretty basket.

Couples in Irish tradition married by a body of water because these places were considered sacred.  Guests of the wedding were invited to toss stones into the water along with their wishes and blessings.  Keep this sweet tradition alive by inviting each of YOUR guests to write their name and wishes on a stone, then drop it into the dish of water on the table.  After the wedding, dry the rocks and keep them in a glass vase or basket as a sentimental decoration.

What do you think?  As a Maine wedding photographer, I would love to see more meaningful guest "books".  Have any good ideas of your own?  Share them with us!  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Take a Better Selfie

I'm going to start out by saying that I HATE selfies.

Not of you, darling.  I hate selfies of me.

Of course, it makes sense; I'm the one who stays behind the camera.  Don't get me wrong; I don't have low self-esteem.  I don't think I look fat. I just would rather have a naturally-happening photo taken of me than one I posed and took myself.

That having been said, I think there are times you've just got to take a self-snapshot.  So, I'm going to share some tips with you (and some photographic examples) on how to take a flattering, non-obnoxious, outside-the-box selfie.

What got me thinking of this?  Well, I was looking at my friend Alaisha's selfie today.  (She has this irresistible spunk and unexpected gorgeousness... and she's also a successful portrait photographer!)  You know what struck me about this photo?  It's different.  It's real.  It captures HER.

Here it is:
Oh my gosh.  Look at how her nose crinkles.  It's adorable.  There's so much LIFE in this picture.  xoxoxox

My first tip for taking a great selfie is to not take yourself so seriously.  You don't have to act like a moron, but lighten up a bit... and please, PLEASE... give sexy a break.  You want to think of expressions we need more in self-snapshots?  Irony.  Mystery.  Mirth.  Subtlety.  

Give me joy instead of duckface.
Show me charm instead of cleavage.

Well, you get the idea.

But from a technical aspect, what kind of things could you be doing to make a better selfie happen?

  1. Get in some great light. Seriously... phone cameras are getting better and better, but as a general rule, the lower the light, the grainier the photo is going to be.  Granted, we're not necessarily going for portrait quality, but a decent photo should have SOME detail.  Some of the most flattering light you'll find is near a window on a sunny day.  Put your face toward the light.  
  2. Position the camera lens slightly above eye level.  Notice I said SLIGHTLY.  The snapshot-from-above makes the subject look vulnerable and small.  Tiny Face With Doe Eyes may be the pose of choice when you're a freshman in high school, but we're moving past that.  
  3. Mind your background.  A cluttered background will detract from the subject: your face.
  4. To make the best expression, think of someone who makes you laugh, and remind yourself of why.  Or try imagining physical pain (fingernail being ripped off is a great one) while remaining your composure.  The slight eye squint may be all you need to take a flattering picture.  Finally, as the immensely talented Nigel Barker says, imagine chocolate melting in your mouth.  (If you love chocolate!)  Your eyes are already smiling!  
  5. Experiment, but limit yourself.  What do we mean?  Go have fun, take lots of shots.  Try new things! But limit yourself in the amount of selfies you have online at one time.  After all, a selfie is inherently, well... selfish.  If you have 200 of them on your Facebook profile, others are likely to get the impression that you're a bit self-involved.  
I would love to see what selfies you come up with after reading this article. Feel free to post links to your self-snapshots and share.

Keep smiling!