Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wedding Photography Vermont Style : Northeast Kingdom Wedding

The Northeast Kingdom, for the uninitiated, is a large swath of Vermont that is largely rural area bordered to the West by mountains and to the East by the Connecticut River. You wouldn't think that it would have made the National Geographic list of best places for Geo-tourism in America...but it isn't really surprising to anyone who has been here. What is more surprising is that more people don't know about this fantastic place. It is a land of dichotomy. Home to the acclaimed Kingdom Trails...one of the best mountain biking trails in the world. You about can't swing a stick without hitting a talented chef or musician yet you probably won't end up here unless you plan to. It isn't like you will happen to come across the Kingdom on your way somewhere else so do make the time and come. You will be happy you did. It is often called the "Vermonter's Vermont" and you should stay a while and experience this for yourself.

Here are some of my favorite wedding spots...some of them have amazing people to run them and others don't have any one at all (strictly do-it-yourself). With catering going mobile and tent rental businesses that won't say "you want it where?" A great many weddings happen in gorgeous locations despite there not being any venue to speak of...take this wedding:

Shot at Lake Whilloughby. Whilloughby is called the jewel in the crown of the Northeast Kingdom. There is an inn (Willow Vale) but this couple decided to have their wedding at the park and their formals at North Beach. The reception was in a rental cabin with a tent outside. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful venue than this.

Jay is another fantastic option. Romantic Gondola rides to the top of the mountain are a must. With views all the way to Burlington on one side and Lake Memphremagog on the other your wedding photos will be unforgettable.

The Inn at Mt. View Farm is about as "Vermonty" as you can get. Located on Darling Hill in Lyndonville, the most beautiful road in the area...lined with mature maples it winds a ridge with views to the North of Whilloughby Gap.  Get married in the gardens or in the meadow that over-looks Whilloughby Gap. The Inn has accommodations for the entire wedding party to make for a stress free day.  It is the perfect blend of rustic and modern-comfort.

What do apples have to do with choosing a photographer?

You work so hard to put together the perfect wedding.  So many details fall or are wrestled into place.  All those people coming together...each one invited for a reason.  And then there's the cost...don't get me started on the cost!  It's expensive!  And I know we photographers don't help.  We charge a lot for our services and sometimes I wonder about the person on the other end of the deal because they don't seem to know why.  They feel that they need to hire a photographer, it's on their "to do" list but they have no idea which one they want or why this one costs x number of dollars and that one costs x number of dollars squared.

I created a guide so you can ask the right questions and compare apples to apples as far as features go.  You can get that right here  But what about quality?  Many photographers are working out their pricing schedule and scratching their heads too.  They work VERY hard, make no mistake.  A wedding is a pressure cooking meat grinder of a photography job.  You are on your feet for 8 hours shooting, thinking, reacting and trying to be on your toes to capture everything.  Then you have more than a thousand images to edit, perfect and cull the duds out of.  So it takes time and care...and know how.  That's the reason for the pricey price tag.  But how do you recognize experience and quality?

If you hire someone because they cost less and all the pictures are terrible you might as well have just thrown that money away...or purchased an expensive camera and hand it over to a bride's maids boyfriend to use or go the "I'm just going to put disposable cameras on every table and hope something good comes of it" route.  So here's some stuff to look for.

Over processed images or lots of black and white This is usually done because they got a great pictures but they didn't expose it properly or they couldn't get the color balance right.  Throw on a black and white filter or grunge filter and viola...great picture saved.  This is something we all do to save pictures worth saving but there shouldn't be a lot of "ooops" moments in your portfolio.

As I say in Apples to Apples, ask to see a full wedding gallery We all have them, hopefully more than just a couple.  Remember that experience I was talking about?  This is where you can see it.  If I've been shooting for 20 years and I have five weddings to show you, I'm probably not an experienced wedding photographer and should be priced accordingly.  You pay for that experience but you get what you pay for.  Nobody comes back 50 or even 20 times to something they fail miserably at and believe me, if what I've heard from Brides over the years is even partly true there are some doosie failures out there.

Are you seeing THAT photographers work?  Some places have a stable of photographers working...if you aren't seeing that particular photographer's work you won't have any idea what calibre work you can expect from them. Don't go down that path.

Leave me a note if this helped you!  And good luck in your search for that perfect photographer...may your wedding day be perfect and may you have the images to prove it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rainy Day Wedding at the Alerin, St. Johnsbury Vt

 Nobody wants rain on their wedding day, but if it must rain, the Alerin in St. Johnsbury is a great place to be.

 The ceremony had wonderful diffused light and the many umbrellas that stand ready kept everyone nice and dry.  The wedding took place in the new Pavilion.
What a perfect place--with views of horn-pout pond and lush lawns, you get the best of both worlds.  A nice dry roof and an outdoor wedding.

 The officiant was AWESOME, with just the right amount of humour and wit to carry everyone through a very romantic (and teary eyed) recitation of hand written vows.

 And then, the bride and groom were fantastic.  They had given so much thought and injected so much fun into their wedding just with their personalities.

 This was one group that wouldn't let a little rain dampen their spirits.  The Alerin has large porches so we could take pictures without getting wet.

 Like I said, the bride and groom were fantastic.  A lot of people won't go outside in a wedding dress...lest the hem get wet.  Unfortunately this makes the pictures dull.
 This bride and groom knew that this is their one and only wedding and were ready to take on the elements and celebrate their marriage.  It never fails that the people who are the most willing get the best pictures!

 Heaven forbid it rains on your wedding, but if it does, don't let it put a damper on things.  If you are lucky, you'll only get married once.  Make it a great day!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wedding on the Cheap

 Sometimes I get a little concerned about where weddings are going in the United States.  Here is a young couple (usually) starting their lives with a very expensive party.  Throwing themselves into debt or having to save for years and put off their wedding  until they can amass the small fortune to throw a wedding.

The average wedding, we are told, cost's $30,000.00.  That's a nice down-payment on a house!  Here is a real wedding that we went to last weekend that cost $3,000.00.  Some of the expenses were defrayed because family members were willing to do a lot of work.  The center .  peices were all hand made by a family member and the wonderful food was cooked by the father of the bride.  Other things were just sheer brilliance.

I'll start with the venue:  $100 to rent Maidstone Park in Vermont.  It is their family summer get-away and a State Park.  Tent rental: $100 with all the tables and chairs.

Drink glasses: mason jelly jars imprinted with the bride and grooms name.

 I love this: Guest Book--an old oar.  The guests sign in sharpy and it's going on the wall as a rustic reminder of their out-doorsy life style.

 The bar: a table with pre mixed margaritas and mojitos.  Wine and beer were in whiskey barrels to the right.  Self service.

 The mother of the bride decorated simple shakers with the themed rustic ribbons and flowers.

Flowers:  For the bride, white roses.  For the tables: wildflowers in bottles and mason jars covered in burlap decorated with hearts.

Big expenses : DJ (dance floor came with the tent).  They danced and danced so it was well worth the expense.  Much cheaper than a band too.

Here are those hand made table centerpeices.  They have photos in hand-made twig frames of the young couple and birch rings to stand on.

 Bride and groom: Mason Jars glued to candle sticks decorated in the themed burlap lace and flowers.  Too cute!

The cake was made by the mother of the groom.  Again the theme matches the State Park: rustic, cute and very tasty.

We asked the mother of the bride how much she spent and she told us $3,000 for 80 guests.  This theme won't work for everyone's taste but the humour and sweetness of the young couple and their families made this the perfect motif for them.  I will be on the lookout for more stylistic and inexpensive ways to make your special day even more special without putting you in debt...stay tuned!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weinachtmarkt, Trier

Every year when we think about taking a vacation for Christmas break  our thoughts turn to warmer climes and sunny beaches, even though we know in our hearts that the holidays in warm climates just don't seem right somehow.  Those fake Christmas trees flocked with foam feel about as authentic as the shopping mall Santa, if not as creepy.  Christmas carols about chestnuts roasting and sleigh bells ringing sound eerily out of place.  Anyone experiencing Christmas in a place without winter knows the melancholy feeling of being disconnected from the holiday.

For the opposite effect one need only visit Trier, Germany and take in the Weinachtmarkt. Why Trier, particularly?  Trier wasn't of particular interest to Nazi Germany and as a result was not bombed out of existence by the liberating forces...the old buildings, some dating back to 200 AD are still standing and gracing the cobbled roads with their mystery and majesty. 

 Coming from the North you see the Roman Black Gate (Porta Nigra) which dates from 180-200 AD.  Do not miss the opportunity to tour this amazing structure. It is in remarkable shape inside for it's age and the bas relief sculptured walls will not disappoint. It is well worth climbing all those stairs.

The markt, itself  is located in the Haupt Markt just a short walk from Porta Nigra,  with the imposing Dom presiding over the antique carousel and wood fired bread ovens. To find it, just head South towards the massive spires.  If you have any interest in history the Dom (more formally The Cathedral of Saint Peter) built in 349 - 386 AD, is a collection of religious art dating from medieval times with notable Medieval, Rococo, and Post Modern pieces standing side by side.  It has been the Bishops seat for the Catholic church since it's infancy. With constant up-dating with each new Bishop trying to out-do his predecessor. It is truly a unique collection of art and history.  You can take a tour for a fee but you can wander freely for nothing and spend as much or as little time as you like.  There is a tourist's guide brochure that will give you more detailed information and the entire structure is worth at least an hour to explore and well worth the time.

Just outside the cathedral you will find a village of temporary Tudor style booths selling food and crafts that will surely please.  We found an entire booth filled with nutcrackers of every shape and size, next to another filled with ceramic candle sconces with intricate designs, followed by another filled to over flowing with garlands and wreaths.  One thing that surprised me is that the shopping wasn't as financially crushing as what I experienced in England or France.  I wasn't in constant sticker shock but felt that I was finding wonderful bargains among the lovely Christmas crafts...and as anyone soon discovers "made in Germany" means "made really, really well".

All this open air (and by open air I mean open and o-my-gosh it's cold air) will certainly give you an appetite so be sure to stop by the Bratwurst stand and also grab a gluvine (hot spiced wine) from the gluvine stand while you are at it.  You will be substantially warmer and infinitely happier.  Gluvine comes in a ceramic mug with the year and market on the side -- great for warming cold hands and waning spirits.  Other "must haves" are wood oven bread piping hot and roasted chestnuts (also great for cold hands).  What could be more like Christmas?

Before you go be sure to check the schedule...there will be concerts and puppet shows not to mention the coronation of the "gluvine queen" and other special events throughout the market time.  The markt runs from around November 25th to December 23rd.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

East Side, Newport

 There is a saying: "Live, Laugh, Love" that you find on plaques and signs that you can buy to remind you of the important things in life.  This family should have that saying on their family crest...heck, they probably are who it was written about!

I don't think I've been to a wedding where there was so much laughter and love.
The little flower girls were literally flowers.

 Kim and her son look so happy as they make their way to the ceremony.

 John lit up when he saw Kim on her way.

The heart was the most appropriate theme for the whole day.