Raffaldini Vineyard Wedding: Cassandra and Brian Wed! (Charlotte Wedding Photographer/Cass Bradley)

This wedding.  Perfection from start to finish.  Intimate. Elegant. Outdoor.  Full of emotion.

Cassandra and Brian wed at the stunning Raffaldini Vineyards surrounded by their closest friends and family.  The ceremony (which included a ‘Unity box’ ceremony in which the couple sealed letters to be read in future years inside a box alongside wine to toast the years to come..) and overlooked acres of vines.

One of my absolute favorite moments of the day came just before Cass walked down the aisle with her father.  –Complete silence fell upon the ceremony site, a soft breeze rustled though the trees and the song ‘Down to the River and Pray’ by Allison Krouse was played in its entirety.  It was truly goose-bump inducing.

Cass Glided radiantly down the aisle with her father remaining stoically-faced until he placed her hand into Brian’s.

Their vows were filled with both laughter and tears…  And, the sun set over the vineyards They ate, drank and were definitely merry under a beautiful clear tent exposing the night sky as their only ceiling.

Cass and Bri–it has been a distinct honor to get to know you and your family this past year.  You two embody everything we love in our clients.  Vibrant, life-loving and fearless.

Thank you for choosing us to be a part of your day.

 

Amazing Wedding Pro Team that helped Cass and Bri create their magical day:

 

Wedding Site/Reception:  Raffaldini Vineyard

Wedding Planner: Zan Oliver

Photographers: BlueSky Studios

Floral Design: Philosophy Flowers

Catering: Queen City Catering

Tent and Rentals: Party Reflections

Hair and Makeup: Mother of the Bride/Debbie Eaker

Wedding Gown: Bridals by Lori

Videography: Carolina Video Productions

(amazing) Cake: Christina’s Dessertery

Music: ZBrothers DJ’s

 

 

** if you would like to hear he amazing song mentioned above..here is the link: ‘Down to the River and Pray’

“You’re being a little ridiculous.” (why everyone needs a friend like this)

 

 

”You’re being a little ridiculous.”

 

My head tilted slightly right. My eyes narrowed. And for a moment I was silent. (A rare occurrence, I know.)

My cheeks flushed and I felt the heat of approaching ‘annoyance’ rising to the surface.

Pause.

Think.

Inhale.

Exhale.

“You know…you are right.” I replied sheepishly. “I am.”

 

I can’t even recall the subject. Perhaps I was thinking of quitting a job…quitting a boyfriend…spending a ton a money…being angry that so-and-so did such-and-such…

It matters not.

 

She assessed the situation and instead of flowing with the current as many ‘friends’ will do…she, taking in all of my history, taking in all of the scenario, pushed against it and genuinely weighed in.   She refused to let me believe my own nonsense. Instead, she forced me to take a step back and assess that maybe, just maybe: I was wrong.

….and being ridiculous.

 

And, This. To me–is the ultimate of friendships.

 

She could have simply replied:

‘Yes—he is such an ass.’

Or

‘Yes—you should spend that money”

or a million other obliging ‘you go girl’ kind of mantras.

 

Instead, she took the more challenging route—to weigh in. To give opinion. To force me to stand up to me and truly see the situation without the self-focused blinders.

 

-And I adored her for it.

 

In life we will find many a ‘friend’ to sip coffee or cocktails. To celebrate. To cheer. To take our side.  However,  to me—finding those few ‘you’re being a little ridiculous’ friends is priceless. They should be cherished when you find one of these.  For when the going gets tough (and rest assured–it will.)   They are most likely not going anywhere.

 

Today—I am thankful for my ‘you’re being ridiculous friends.’  Those that don’t just ‘nod’ and ‘yes’   (or worse yet–run from my ridiculousness..)   Both of which are the ‘easier’ route.

To you my few whom are in it for the long haul–to you,  I say:  ‘I’ve got your back too.’ And most certainly will let you know when you are being, well,

….a little ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ranson House Classic Bridal Session: Cassandra (Charlotte Timeless Wedding Photographer)

Cass may in fact win the ‘most laid back bride’ award–and that is saying a lot considering most of our brides are pretty darned ‘chill.’ :-)   We met just a few weeks before the big day at the charming Ranson House. –A classic, white Southern home with a wrap-porch, a rope swing in a giant oak and some of the prettiest backlight our eyes have seen.  (Cass and Brian come in next week for their viewing party. But in the meantime…check out her timeless bridal images.)

 

backlit bridal portrait at ranson house

 

If you could see what I see. (A photographer’s thoughts on what is really beautiful)

In the 4 years since ‘accidentally’ falling into photography again and leaving the corporate world behind- I have seen a lot.

 

I have been privy to some of the most intimate moments in the lives of others: warm, wedding tears flowing down freshly-made faces, anxious tugs to now-too-tight shirts to cover the few pounds lingering as you hold your new baby.   Awkward body language relaxing into genuine embrace when you ‘forget’ my camera is near..   Each experience uniquely beautiful.

 

Yet—Almost always,  each interaction begins with “I am just not photogenic” or “Can you Photoshop my hips/eyes/wrinkles/teeth (insert your own insecurities here.)

Sigh.

 

Dear YOU, (yes you.) I wish you could see what I see.

 

Where you see embarrassing, ‘ugly cry’—I see joy spilling behind blinking eyelids.

Where you see ‘baby pudge’—I see glowing skin and the beautiful connection between you and that 8 lbs 7 oz. staring up at you.

Where you see ‘wrinkles’ I see the way your nose forms the perfect ‘bunny’ as you roll your eyes, then break into laughter at your busband-to-be’s attempt at a joke.

 

I see:

 

The way your eyes light up when you speak about how you met your wife.

 

Your freckles that spill onto your cheeks like stars

 

Your brilliant smile, which also spans the faces of your sister, mother and grandmother too.

 

 

I so wish you could see what I see. (And sometimes you do when seeing your images for the first time and finally catching a glimpse of what the rest of us see and sheepishly proclaim “I look kind of hot.”)

 

However, I cannot wait for the day you sit in our hair and makeup lounge and instead of  apologizing for your ‘wide nose;’ you begin with ‘I have always love my curly red hair’ or ‘my curvy hips are my favorite part of my body.’

 

Until then.

I will do my best to remind you.

 

 

Dear ‘Big Name’ Photographers: STOP Giving Shi@@y Workshops! (6 tips to creating a photography workshop worth attending)

**Update** after all of the awesome feedback (both here and in private messages)  assuring me I am not alone in my thinking–we have decided to start an online group for reviews.  Just a simple facebook site and we can see where it goes from there. Join us  over here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/plainjane/ :-)Cheers to finding awesome educational opportunities!

 

Original Post:

 

As I unpack my bags after yet another disappointing misadventure in photography, I can’t help but feel like I need to shout from the roof tops “For the love of all things pixel-related—please STOP taking advantage of other photographers with your half-baked, ill-thought out and self-promotion-filled workshops!” Let me back up—I have been to around 10 workshops in the past 4 years (as well as and a few of the major teaching conferences and purchased quite a bit of online training –Creative Live etc) and have in fact learned a decent amount from the likes of folks like Cliff Mautner, Susan Stripling, and Sue Bryce …

 

However, sadly, the vast majority have been completely underwhelming and a few—just plain insulting. (Note: let me go on the record and state I only consider myself  an ‘intermediate technical photographer.’ I have TONS to learn…and I am extremely eager to learn….so it is not my supreme photographic mastery getting in the way of my learning.)

 

All that said: I thought I would offer a few tips from ‘your average workshop attendee’: (listen up-yo!)

 

1.)   As Jessie J. would say…’Its not about the money, money, money!’ If your heart and soul are not into teaching—do us all a favor and just say no. If the idea of ‘just making a few extra bucks’ springs to mind…move on. Workshops are about the attendees learning something—not just fattening your wallet. (Though, make no mistake, I believe GOOD educators should be compensated accordingly.)

 

2.)   Deliver what you advertised you would: if you say ‘lighting intensive’—make sure we are walking away knowing how to use light. Workflow instruction? We expect to walk away with an improved workflow. Workshops should not be ‘buyer beware’—this is your name. Make good on your website’s promotional promises. #nosnakeoilplease

 

3.)   Save the ‘dog and pony”: We already respect you/your work. (or we wouldn’t have signed up!) Therefore, we do not need an 4-hour presentation on ‘your story’ complete with resume and ‘look at how amazing this shot is’ review of your portfolio. We’ve probably followed you for quite some time and we were already impressed; we are here to learn. Not be ‘sold’ on why we should be star struck.

 

4.)   This is not your paid chance at a styled shoot- my demon horns (compete with fire breathing) emerged at a recent workshop billed as ending with a fully styled shoot where the instructors would ‘ensure you walk away knowing how to get it right in camera.’ Instead—I spent a great portion of my time with instructor-Heisman-hand-to-my-face/pushing me out of the way of “getting his shot.” (Note: I have heard the excuse of ‘needing to get the images for the participating vendors.’ I have an idea-shoot them after we leave, hire an assistant to shoot them or select the best images from the attendees. Or better still: actually pay the models/floral designer etc—I mean, we did pay you collective thousands…you can afford a model casting and some flowers.

 

5.)   Take that book and shove it! – So you charged me over a thousand dollars for your workshop and I see you bring a stack of your books. Awesome! …And then you announce they are $50. Really? Just include the freaking book vs. trying to squeeze us out of an additional few Benjamin’s. (Same goes for your DVD’s, fancy re-branded flashes etc. If we want them.. We will find them at a later date. (Especially if we now value your opinion after an awesome workshop)

 

6.)   Give a Rats arse about us—if your workshop is small enough, spend an hour or so. Look at our website, see where we are in our careers –get a general sense of you are teaching newbs or more advanced photographers and cater your teachings to that specific class.

**Bonus points: If you are actually a good teacher! (Being a good photographer in no way implies you are a good teacher anymore than me being amazing at eating French pastries implies I can bake them.) Let me say it again–great photographer does not equal great teacher. Know the different BEFORE firing up PowerPoint…especially before charging hefty fees.

Please look at this from our perspective—though your workshop may ‘only’ be $1000. Once you add in flight, rental cars, gasoline, meals etc (not to mention the days out of our studio which =$$) An average workshops is in the thousands of dollars. (and can escalate to 5K+ for the ‘big ones.’) For many of us—this equates to one workshop per year. (if we are lucky)

 

If a fellow photographer has chosen you (out of the maaaaaany others) giving workshops out there—should you at a minim care to make certain they receive the benefit of some actual education?

 

Respectfully,

Your Average Workshop Attendee

**Steps off of soapbox (insert mic drop)

 

This is how I feel after spending good $ on a shi@@y workshop:

 

PS:  Workshop attendees.  How would  you feel about a website  like wedding wire/yelp etc) that allowed attendees to post reviews on specific courses?  I was speaking with a prominent photographer whom I respect and he mentioned someone once tried to start this and it lost momentum.  Thoughts?  Would you want to able to look at reviews that are the ‘bright shiny’ ones posted on the instructors website prior to attending?  (personally–I think educators should be held accountable.  Amazing teachers should be praised and the others…well, should stop receiving thousands of our hard earned dollars for putting out garbage workshops based on having a ‘big name..)

M o r e   i n f o