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April 25, 2017

FILED IN: Business, Tips

I‘ll never forget the time I entered the bridal room at the start of the day and the bride had every single item to be photographed set aside on a table, ready for me to photograph. She hadn’t forgotten a single detail. I have told her numerous times since that day how much I appreciated that. Because the truth is that wedding days are chaotic. Sometimes the bride and her ladies are traveling from the salon to the church to get dressed and they don’t have everything in one place. Sometimes the best man, in all his well-intentioned foresight, already confiscated the rings for safekeeping that morning, not knowing that I’d need to photograph them. Sometimes the bouquets have been delivered to somewhere other than the getting ready location, maybe the church instead of the hotel. There’s just so many pieces that can be misplaced.

And while those detail photos are gorgeous, they serve a bigger purpose than just being pretty on a blog post. I recognize that you, my clients, have paid a lot of money for those gorgeous full-suite invitations, the personalized gown hanger, the brand new bottle of perfume, the jeweled peep-toe heels. You have a lot of sentimental value attached to the family heirloom jewelry, the veil that Grandma sewed, and the piece of lace from Mom’s wedding dress that was hand-stitched into yours or wrapped to your bouquet. These are the little details of the day that don’t necessarily show up in portraits, but they are no less valued in the memory of the day. And since the entire purpose of my job is to help my clients remember, it’s important to me to help you remember even the small parts that aren’t center-stage during the day.

While I do remind my brides multiple times before your wedding days what to have and where to have it, I realize there’s a lot going on and sometimes things just get misplaced. One time, I beat the ladies to the final getting ready location (they were still coming from the salon), but was told that everything was there, ready to be photographed. It was such a calm, ideal situation. I had the room to myself to start photographing all these gorgeous details before makeup bags and dress bags and people started filling the room. I got everything photographed before the ladies got there. I felt awesome. Only when the bride went to put on her shoes did I realize that I had photographed the wrong pair of shoes!! A bridesmaid’s pair of shoes had been left in the room instead of the bride’s! Thankfully, I caught it and was able to grab some quick shots of the shoes before having the bride put them on, but it’s little things like that that make a big difference in the timing flow of the day. (We certainly don’t want to get behind on the timeline at the very beginning of the day!)

Here’s a list of items I ask my brides to have ready to be photographed when I arrive:

  • wedding gown
  • a pretty hanger for the gown (It doesn’t have to be personalized; just a plush lingerie hanger or a simple wooden hanger will work! It’s best if the hanger has notches or stops to prevent the dress from sliding off.)
  • veil / hair pieces
  • wedding rings (all three: engagement ring, her band, & his band)
  • shoes
  • bouquet
  • jewelry
  • perfume
  • invitation suite (save-the-date, invitation, RSVP, envelopes, programs, etc.)
  • borrowed & blue items

Once I arrive on the wedding day and say hi and give out hugs, I get started with photographing those items. I can maximize my time if everything is set aside and ready for me to grab. Sometimes, if the room is crowded, I’ll take them to another area or I’ll set up a little space to do detail shots right there in the room. But the most important thing is that if I have everything from the start, I can swap things out as I go and photograph quickly, not having to break to find missing pieces or make sure I have everything. And if I can maximize my time there, we’ll have more time for photos of people! It’s a total win-win for everyone!

So what’s the best way to make sure everything is where it should be? Assign the task to someone you absolutely trust who is very responsible. Maybe your wedding planner, a personal attendant, one of your bridesmaids, or a good friend who won’t need to be getting hair and makeup done that morning! The easiest way to organize everything is to put everything (including the shoes; only excluding the gown and veil, of course) in a small bin! Then you’ll know that everything is in the same place, ready to go!

Now that you know what to have ready, let’s look at some other detail photos and how I shot them!

I’ll often grab a bridesmaid’s or mom’s dress to use as a background for the detail shots. Since those dresses will definitely be keeping with the color scheme of the day, they’ll tie in the wedding colors while also adding some texture! The background in this photo of the bride’s earrings was the mother of the groom’s dress!

This next photo was in the bride’s childhood home by the fireplace. You can see where the stone ledge of the fireplace hearth drops off in the very lower left corner of the photo. To add texture and interest to the photo, I pulled in her bouquet on the right and a beaded clutch she had.

This is one of my favorite rings shots ever and it’s by far one of the simplest shots I’ve set up. The writing in the background was the envelope liner of their invitations, a beautiful script of their names.

This ruffle background was actually a tablecloth on the cake table. Everything was held in the same venue so I was able to use reception elements like that tablecloth to add interest to the detail shots!

I loved the bold hues in this bedroom. That green looked gorgeous behind the creamy wedding gown and shoes!

Adding loose pieces of floral elements is an awesome way to make a uninteresting photo really interesting! Ask your florist if you can have a few of the loose stems they don’t end up putting into the bouquets! I love using them in the detail shots!

This was a marriage booklet of the bride’s grandparents that they signed on their wedding day. Because of it’s significance, I wanted a shot of the bride holding it, but I also wanted a photo of just the book so I placed it in front of the bride’s bouquet.

Here’s another example of using a dress for the background.

In an ideal world, I’d have clean, white shelves in every getting-ready suite, but it’s only happened this one time.

I love the visual here of the classic invitation suite against a blue background against a floral background. There’s a lot of things happening in the picture that stimulate the brain and make it say, “Ahhhh, something about this looks nice.” It’s the soft variety! The floral pattern is a rug and the blue pattern is an ottoman.

For this shoe shot, I grabbed all the bridal bouquets and laid them in a semi-circle to create a background that would make these shoes pop!

Not everyone has access to a dress form, but this is a fantastic way to make your gown look glorious! Gowns aren’t meant to hang up; they’re fitted to be worn and they look best when they’re on! Using this form gave the dress it’s ideal shape for photos. In the paper suite photo on the right, I was able to use some floral elements (that fern) mixed with some confetti (that would later be used for their exit) against a board that had been covered in coordinating blue fabric!

I used a bridemaid’s gown for the navy background on the left and the bride’s bouquet for the earring photo on the right!

Silk ribbon is one of my favorite ways to add something special to photos!

This is another one of my favorite ring shots and I simply balanced the rings on the bride’s beaded clutch. If you look closely in the groom’s wedding band, you can see me. More importantly, you might also also see that I was in a narrow sunroom in the bride’s childhood home. There was lots of stuff around, but the light was great there (makeup was also being done in this room due to the large windows to the right) and all I needed was a small space for these little detail shots.

September 29, 2016

I don’t know how the idea came about, but I do know that it was Kevin who suggested hosting a dinner party for my past clients. I was admittedly reluctant about it because I knew it would happen right in the middle of my busy season (as would the planning beforehand), but I also loved the idea of being able to see past clients again as well as give them my thanks.

It does not go unnoticed how much trust they have given to me over the years, especially at the beginning when I was just starting out. Each weekend when I walk into a wedding, I am reminded of how blessed I am to be able to be part of the first day of these marriages. For their trust, their friendship, and their graciousness, I’m so thankful. And I hoped this dinner would show just a small portion of my gratefulness.

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There were many people who helped pull this whole thing off and I must properly thank them. I was so grateful that Little Lights Event was available for us! I fell in love with the space several months ago when I was there and they made it so easy! Shelly Sarver was one of the first people I contacted because I have always loved her floral design and she did not disappoint! Jacky Mills makes the most amazing cookies so I sent her my logo and branding and she created gorgeous, edible pieces of art. Zephyr Weddings took my ideas and put them all into the most beautiful invitation paper suite I’ve ever seen. The day before the dinner, I realized I didn’t have anything to put the cupcakes (from Molly’s Cupcakes) on, so Brenda came to my rescue, giving me free reign of her warehouse and providing me with candles and platters. Hy-Vee on Dodge Street was amazing to work with and the food was so delicious (and we’re still eating leftovers!). Lastly, Kevin flew my older sister, Carla, in (hers was one of the first weddings I photographed!) and she used her previous experience working in event planning as well as her big-sister status to help get everything set up while I ran around like a crazy person trying to photograph it all before guests started coming. And my younger brother Payton gave us his Friday night schedule and helped keep the serving trays full and cleaning up afterwards.
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Right before dinner, I made everyone step outside for a group photo. I’m so grateful for these people. This group of people. They range from many years, and being able to catch up with each of them brought such happiness to my heart. There were over 180 people invited (over half of those now live out of state), and I was so excited for each RSVP that came back with a yes.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Florals: Shelly Sarver Designs

Design Elements: Town or Country Event Design

Cupcakes: Molly’s Cupcakes

Cookies: Jacky Mills

Catering: Hy-Vee Dodge Street

Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings

Venue: Little Lights Events

September 6, 2016

FILED IN: Business, Tips

When my husband got me an Apple Watch for a gift, I started to protest and roll my eyes. I didn’t need a fancy watch. I didn’t want a fancy watch. And mostly, I didn’t like how it looked. I like gold linked watches with clean faces and pave diamonds around the outside. The Apple Watch was unnecessary.

But…I started using it and I loved tracking my workouts with it. I loved being able to put my phone away and still get text messages on it. I loved being able to see my calendar and that led me to, finally, falling it love with it on wedding days.

There are a few ways you can use your Apple Watch on wedding days, but I’m going to simply show you how I use mine, specifically in regards to the photography timeline.

While I typically have the “color” watch face on regular days, on wedding days, I change the face to “modular”. This is very strategic for my wedding timeline. The modular face is laid out like this:

Apple Watch Modular Face

  • Day/date
  • Time
  • Current event or upcoming event
  • Temperature
  • Activity
  • Time of sunset

You can customize all of those, with exception to the time display. Again, this is the layout works for me.

The week of the wedding, I have several tasks for myself, including cleaning my gear, charging my batteries, reformatting all of my memory cards, and making sure everything is in my bag and ready to go. This is when I prep my timeline in my Mac Calendar. (I wait until this close to the wedding day in case there are any last minute changes to the timeline.)

On a computer, I open up my Calendar app and go to “day” view and enter in all of the events of the wedding, including when we need to leave. Each timeline item is a separate “event” and I can customize it to alert me as well. I don’t always use this feature, but it’s particularly nice when I’m photographing the bridal party, for example, to have the alert on my watch that I have 10 minutes to finish up bridal party before moving on to family photos.

Apple Watch Timeline

The time of sunset that shows on my watch face is particularly helpful for those sunset photos in the evening. I list sunset photos in the timeline (ideally 30 minutes prior to sunset), but know that I have very little control over the actual flow of the reception so knowing the exact time of sunset helps me make a quick decision if I see some downtime 45 minutes before sunset, let’s say, and know that I won’t get that downtime again for another 30 minutes. I can make the call to go out a little early rather than miss it completely.

Hope that helps! If you’re on the fence about an Apple Watch, I cannot recommend it enough for wedding days. It has many obvious bonuses the rest of the week, but it really does much more than a traditional watch when it comes to keeping me on time while photographing a long wedding day.

For those wondering, I use this band from Amazon in gold 38mm.

May 5, 2016

FILED IN: Business

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Believe it or not, I’ve been putting off this blog post for a few weeks now because I still don’t feel like I have really had the time to sit and wrap my head and heart around all that I learned at Justin & Mary‘s Walk Through a Wedding workshop in April. I already posted about a tiny bit of sight-seeing that I was able to do both at Yale University and at Lighthouse Point Park, but that was literally just minutes in the course of the two days in Connecticut. The bulk of the days were spent in the workshop.

I flew into Connecticut on Tuesday. After picking up my rental car and driving an hour to New Haven, I got settled into my hotel and met my roommate, Morgan. All the workshop attendees were invited to a dinner at Justin & Mary’s home that night. I wish I would’ve taken photos, but I forgot. Their living room was transformed into a beautiful styled tablescape with fresh flowers, place settings, flickering candles, and jazz music playing in the background. We mingled, laughed, and sipped cocktails before sitting down to dinner. Mary said that since we’re all in the wedding industry, we don’t get to be wedding guests; when we’re eating at a wedding, it’s fast and vulture-like (I added that, but it’s true). Tuesday night was our chance to be treated to a full course dinner, the kind that we usually don’t get to partake in. After helping with dishes and rearranging furniture to flip the living room into workshop mode, we all went home for some shut-eye before Wednesday morning arrived.

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Day one of the workshop started in session, learning, discussing, and dissecting our “why”. Why do I work weekends away from my child, long hours, physically exhausting work to do this job that I love? We dove into nitty-gritty stuff like goals and “why”s to lighting and posing. We put it into practice and tried it out right there on the spot.

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In the late afternoon, we traveled to Bill Miller’s Castle to really work through a wedding day. One of the things I appreciated most about this workshop was that it wasn’t easy. What I mean is that we didn’t have soft, amazing lighting to work with or perfect backdrops at our finger tips. It was real life. This is how a wedding really is. We had to think on the fly and figure it out. It’s easy to take photos in perfect light. But that doesn’t help me learn. The hands-on experience was invaluable.

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We finished up the evening at the castle around 9 PM, which was great because my mental capacity had reached its limit about an hour before and I just didn’t know how much more I could take before completely shutting down. #overloadoverload

With day 1 under our belts, we all tried to get some rest before hitting it hard Thursday morning.

April 26, 2016

FILED IN: Business

Over the past few months, there have been some changes in the works for the business. Not a whole rebrand, but rather an update. I use Showit for my website and they recently came out with Showit5, which brought some killer updates to the system. Knowing I loved my branding that Jen Olmstead created for me a few years ago, but wanted it to be on the new, fresh platform, I hired David Mendoza III to do the upgrade for me.

And today, it’s live! It feels so fresh and beautiful, don’t you think? Go, play around!Website_EmilyCrall_Photo_0135 Website_EmilyCrall_Photo_0136 Website_EmilyCrall_Photo_0137

 

 

April 21, 2016

FILED IN: Business

I‘ve been using CoSchedule for just shy of a year now. I could tell you 5 reasons why you should be using it too (which I will down below), but first I’ll tell you what it is.

So CoSchedule is a WordPress plugin for your blog posts so you can easily plan and schedule your entire blogging calendar. So that’s a little bit of a mouthful, but the best part for me is that once you have your blog post scheduled to publish, you can also schedule your social media accounts to market that blog post! Honestly, that was the reason I started using CoSchedule; the social media aspect. The bonus, of course, is that I can also keep my blogging calendar organized. But the social media planning tool? That makes CoSchedule worth it by itself.

CoSchedule

Some new features that I’m incredibly excited about include the inclusion of Pinterest (so now you can schedule out your pins!) and the “best times” scheduler, which looks at the best times on each social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) for interaction and viewing. Since social media algorithms change often, this is a huge perk!

I like to think of CoSchedule as a sort of outsourcing. (You know how I love outsourcing! It’s so freeing.) While I’m technically still doing the work, CoSchedule acts as my assistant to allow me to work faster and smarter.

It’s also incredibly organized. I love my color coding and detailing so you can imagine my delight over this:

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There are multiple ways to use the calendar. You can add blog posts, social media messages, or content. You can also add events, notes, or tasks. This is especially helpful if you have more than one person on your team.  Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.08.54 PM

Okay, so let’s break this down. Here are 5 reasons you should be using CoSchedule.

  1. Organize yourself. Organization helps me de-stress. If I’m cluttered, I’m stressed. It’s easy to stop blogging or social media-ing or whatever else it is, but the reality is that blogging and social media are our (currently) free marketing resources. Use that to your advantage and get organized. You know you have a wedding every weekend from here until October? Go in and start jotting down what days of the week you’ll be blogging those images and sharing them on social media. You won’t have the content yet, of course, but by listing it out, you’ll have a clear guide when you’re neck-deep in work and don’t have the time to figure out what to post, when to post, or even how to post.
  2. Live your life. You can get your social media queued up for publishing and live your life. It doesn’t have to be connected to a blog post! Have a pretty photo you want to share tomorrow afternoon on Facebook? Do it. Have a clever tweet you want to go live next week? Do it. Release yourself from having to think too hard. And for goodness sakes, schedule it for a time it will actually be seen. Hallelujah and amen.
  3. If you’re a visual person, you need to take advantage of seeing your day, week, month laid out in front of you. I used to cramp up my iCal with my blogging ideas. Now I can use it to schedule play dates.
  4. Easy to use. It’s drag-and-drop. So, yeah, it’s pretty user-friendly. It’s also visually clean so, back to number 1, you will feel less stressed.
  5. Save time and increase your traffic. So by some sort of obvious reasoning, if you are organized and not stressed, you are probably also saving yourself some time somewhere. Let’s take a blog post, for example. If it’s a great blog post that has been doing really well, go ahead and schedule a tweet a month from now. Don’t let great content go under the rug. If you have something to say that is helpful for others, they’ll want to read it, especially if they missed it the first time.

If you’re still not convinced, watch this video. Then go over here, rejoicing all the way.

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