Personal Post: A Little Self Employment Celebration

Posted by / March 25, 2017 / Categories: Personal / 0 Comments

This week has been special to me because I’m celebrating my 5th year of owning my business without any other side job or financial help. I’m proud of where I’ve come and even surprised by what I’ve built. I never enjoyed showing up to work for someone else and it took a while for me to realize I was on the path to becoming self employed. My friends and acquaintances supported me, pushed me and encouraged me to keep growing, and I listened. I feel that my career fell into my lap thanks to those people and I couldn’t help but to embrace my talent. I’ve set my business up to allow my schedule to be flexible. At my day job it was the set schedule that I battled with the most. I didn’t want to be forced to create, I wanted to plan for it in my own time and then let it flow. This time 5 years ago, I said goodbye to my day job and hello to SHP full time.
So! Here’s to my 10th year of photographing weddings and my 5th year of being able to support myself solely on the support of all of you. Thank you and happy weekend!


SHP Winter Series | Floral Highlights

Posted by / March 15, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / 0 Comments

As Storm Stella engulfs the north-east with all of its cold and snow, we thought this was the perfect time to reflect on our summery floral portfolio. We think it’s definitely time for a reminder that Spring is right around the corner! In this installment of the Winter Series, we’ve picked some floral highlights to share. We love flowers and we take a special interest in seeing the awesome works of art local florists manage to create for centerpieces, boutonnières and bouquets! This post highlights floral bouquets, and with all the snow around here… it’s just so necessary!

It’s important (and fun!) for us to capture floral bouquets and centerpieces since their beauty is so fleeting. We also like to use the flowers to enhance detail shots, so when planning for your big day, make a point to have the flowers arrive at the beginning of the day. It may even be a good idea to assign someone flower duty! This way, the flowers are sure to be in the right places at the right times. Flowers enhance formal photos and are a great prop for portraits, and for as valuable as they are, it’s important to us that they are documented in creative ways for our couples.

To our fellow Storm Stella captives – stay safe & warm! We hope this post warms everyone with reminders that the future is bright.

Featured Vendors || Whistlestop Florist | Village Floral | The Clinton Florist | Westcott Florist | Olney’s Flowers |

SHP Winter Series Blog Posts || The Value of an Engagement Session | Parent DancesThe First Look | Getting Ready Moments | Boutonnières & Ties | Dress Portraits |

SHP Winter Series | The Value of an Engagement Session

Posted by / March 8, 2017 / Categories: Engagement, Weddings / 0 Comments

In this installment of our Winter Series we’ll highlight the value of an engagement session.

Engagement sessions, or an e-sesh, as Sarah likes to call it, can last sixty to ninety minutes (or longer – if beers are in order after!). Sarah and the couple meet at a previously agreed upon location for these sessions. We encourage the couple to center the location choice around some of their favorite activities or their favorite locations. But don’t worry if you don’t have an idea or may be from out of town! We have many lovely local suggestions to offer.

When you inquire with us, you’ll notice that each of our packages includes an engagement session, but before you’re tempted to ask – no, we’re sorry, removing the engagement session will not lower the price of a package. We’re happy to explain why – engagement sessions are invaluable if we are working with you on your best day ever.

Working with our clients means getting to know them. It’s important to feel comfortable with your wedding photographer and be sure you come to share the same vision! Engagement sessions allow for an opportunity before the big day to understand what to expect and get comfortable working with Sarah. Sarah also gets to know you and the directions she may need to give to achieve the best photographs! Hanging out can also ignite creativity, and collaboration is always fun. These sessions also give our clients a chance to get comfortable in front of the camera and have some practice for the big day. Clients can even maximize this opportunity and plan their trial hair and makeup around engagement sessions.

An engagement session can be the best trial run for your big day, which will allow for less worry once it arrives. We think that’s pretty invaluable! Our engagement session adventures have allowed us to turn clients into friends, network with local businesses, and preserve our clients’ memories forever.

We’d thought it’d be fun to show some of our portfolio off in a different way this week! We picked some highlights from past engagement sessions and paired each one with a portrait from the couple’s wedding day. We truly find that getting to know our clients as best we can enriches our work and art as a whole and increases the quality of our work on their big day!

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Featured Locations || The Frog Pond | Hotel at The LaFayette | Landmark Theatre | Virgilio’s Event Centre | MKJ Farms | The Lake Placid Club | Orchard Grove Farms | The Oncenter | Turning Stone Casino | Now & Later | Al’s Wine & Whiskey | Franklin Square | Armory Square | Baltimore Woods | Cazenovia Lakeside Park | Upper Onondaga Park | LeMoyne College | Skaneateles Pier | Inner Harbor | Thornden Park | Breitbeck Park |

SHP Winter Series Blog Posts || Parent DancesThe First Look | Getting Ready Moments | Boutonnières & Ties | Dress Portraits |

SHP Winter Series | Parent Dances

Posted by / March 2, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / 0 Comments

In the fifth installment of our Winter Series, we reflect upon our parent dance portfolio so far! “Parent Dances,” or “The Loved Ones Dances,”  are cherished wedding traditions our clients often chose to include in their wedding receptions. We’ve come to find that the day goes smoothly when these dances are planned after the couple’s first dance and before toasts and dinner. This allows guests to enjoy their meals and head right into partying in honor of the happy couple once finished. Once it’s decided when the dances will happen, it’s super important to let the photographers know when to expect them! This way we are completely prepared to capture these unique moments.

Throughout the years, we’ve seen many interpretations of this tradition. Brides and grooms pick a parent or another special person in their lives to share a spotlight dance with. We’ve seen brides dance with their moms, the newlyweds dance with their children, grandparent dances, sibling dances, and we look forward to more iterations as the years go on.  We absolutely love music and have documented our couples dancing to a variety of different songs. We’ve even photographed a quickie 60 second parent dance (bye, spotlight!) which was just long enough for them to get that special moment with their loved one, and for us to capture that moment! No matter how long or short, they are all special and it’s a tradition that over the years seems to be a keeper.

Here are some highlights of these special dances from our portfolio:

Feature Vendors | Marriott Syracuse Downtown| The Frog Pond | Hotel at The LaFayette | Landmark Theatre | Virgilio’s Event Centre | The Brewster Inn | Wolf Oak Acres | MKJ Farms | DoubleTree Inn | The Lake Placid Club | Orchard Grove Farms | The Oncenter

SHP Winter Series Blog Posts | The First Look | Getting Ready Moments | Boutonnières & Ties | Dress Portraits |

SHP Winter Series | The First Look Experience

Posted by / February 23, 2017 / Categories: Uncategorized, Weddings / -

When we meet with our prospective clients, we ask them about the vision of their big day and if they have considered the idea of a “first look”. While we can certainly make a wedding day shot list work without one, we do enjoy when clients opt for the first look experience. Working a first look into the wedding day timeline has a few advantages. It allows the couple to get their personal photos done and out of the way so they can be apart of some or all of their cocktail hour. It can also allow the couple to spend more time together on their best day ever! Additionally, it gives Sarah more time with them to explore the venue and make creative images. So, if you are thinking of choosing a first look, we would recommend planning at least 30 minutes for family photos (more if you have an extensive list for photos), 30 to 40 minutes for creative and formal wedding party photos, and at least 30 to 40 minutes for a first look, including a mini session with the couple. Two hours would be the ideal time allotment for completing these 3 sets of photos before the ceremony. Some people chose to modify this timeline a bit and do just the first look along with their mini session and wedding party beforehand and family photos after the ceremony, which is also a great way to lay out your photography timeline.

With that being said, this brings us to the fourth installment of our Winter Series! When clients opt for the first look experience, they are choosing to see each other before their ceremony. By doing so, this may allow for a combination of things – shaking some jitters (you’re about to see everyone you love in one room!), allowing more time for the lovebirds to be side by side on their big day, and/or providing a more relaxed or ample timeline for photography.

We’ve chosen a few first looks from our 2016 season to briefly explain how we provide a special first look experience for clients that choose to incorporate one!

First, we have Caitlin & Tom‘s first look. Jenn spent the morning with Tom and his guys documenting their experience as Sarah and Wesley did so for Caitlin. Tom got ready right at the wedding venue, so at one of our pre-wedding day meetings, we all decided the best place for the first look would be the Everson Museum – right across the street from the wedding venue, The Oncenter. Once the men were ready, they met on the courtyard side of the museum to wait. Jenn and Sarah communicated their whereabouts to each other to ensure the love birds would not get a glimpse of each other too soon. Once Tom, Sarah & Jenn were in place, Wesley instructed Caitlin to walk up to her soon to be husband… This is what happened next:

Next, is Stephanie & Alan‘s Lake Placid first look experience. Sarah and Wesley met Stephanie at her hotel room, while Jenn met up with Alan and his fellas at a condo near by. Once the guys were ready, they graciously drove Jenn to the First Look location. While they waited for the ladies, Jenn grabbed some shots of the guys and Alan with his parents. Once Stephanie arrived with Sarah & Wesley, we communicated via phone call to make sure Stephanie was in place without Alan seeing her. Then we got Alan in place, his back to the corner where Stephanie stood, and Sarah gave Stephanie the go ahead to allow this to happen:

We had planned to photograph Heather & Matt‘s first look at her father’s golf course, but the weather would not cooperate. Heather was getting ready at the wedding ceremony location, DoubleTree Inn, so Matt, his guys, and Jenn decided to head there instead of the golf course. While the guys had a drink in the bar, Sarah, Jenn & Wesley scoped the hotel for a photogenic area to do the first look. Once we found a nice corner, we placed Matt against the wall so he would not see Heather approaching. Sarah then instructed Heather to pause as she approached to allow her to grasp Matt’s hand before seeing each other; at this point, they exchanged letters to each other and the rest unfolded as such:

Finally, we have Kalee & John‘s first look experience at Hayloft on the Arch. While the weather didn’t cooperate for the outdoor ceremony they had planned, but it did give us a lovely hazy break so they could at least have their first look outdoors. After Sarah and Wesley moved about a million chairs (anything for the shot!! [We all put them back after – phew!]), Sarah placed John at the arch with his back facing the venue. Kalee was escorted down the stairs by her mom, which was so sweet. Once she was close enough to touch John, Sarah asked Kalee to pause and instructed John to turn to look at her:

After the first look experience, we have time to photograph the couple together in various settings and alone for formal portraits. Sometimes we even have time to photograph the bridal party and family! Once these things are complete, it allows for the couple to go into their ceremony with a lot accomplished and a lot of fun to look forward to experiencing!

SHP Winter Series Blog Posts | Boutonnières & Ties | Dress Portraits | Getting Ready Moments |

SHP Winter Series | Getting Ready Moments

Posted by / February 16, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / -

When we’re hired to arrive while the wedding party is getting ready, it allows us to capture a unique behind the scenes look of the couple’s big day. It’s an honor to be asked to document this part of the day. The beginning moments shared by the couple with their VIP are fleeting and precious, which is why it’s important for us to start our days documenting our couples’ getting ready experience.

This time of the couple’s big day is an important link in the art of our storytelling. We are able to capture the emotions in the motion of getting ready for such an exciting life experience. We also get to photograph some of the most important details, like the dress, ties and boutineers, handkerchiefs, important pendants, pins, honorary medals, mementos, and jewelry – cherished items from loved ones present or being remembered forever.

However, the people are the most significant subject of this time of day that we enjoy.  The people who surround the couple with love on this special day, who help fumble with buttons and ties, jewelry latches, and perhaps calm some nerves; the people preparing to make a very serious commitment, while they shave, get their hair done, read a note from their significant other, or button that last button.

Here are some highlights of getting ready moments from our portfolio:

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SHP Winter Series Blog Posts | Boutonnières & Ties | Dress Portraits 

SHP Winter Series | Boutonnière + Ties

Posted by / February 8, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / -

This installment of the SHP Winter Series is all about being dapper AF (you can find the first installment here). It’s the first word that comes to mind when we see a well cut three piece suit or some seriously stylin’ wing tip shoes! Every client has a different take on the traditional wedding attire. We like to capture a fraction of this in Boutonniere and Tie Portraits. It’s our go-to GQ shot!

The variety of boutonnieres we’ve seen is notable. We’ve photographed DIY flowers, artificial flowers made from clay, paper, or sheet music, and beautifully crafted pieces from florists. We’ve seen beer caps and nods to Harry Potter incorporated in some (we’ve even caught the coveted yet not easy to achieve Broccoli boutonniere!). There’s endless possibilities when it comes to the creativity of some of our clients. We enjoying documenting this creativity along with capturing images of the special details each client decides to include, be it a tasteful watch, lucky cufflinks, or funky socks!

The most important question when one chooses to wear a three piece suit to the wedding? Tie or Bowtie? or Bolo? The final piece, and highlight, of the Boutonniere + Tie Portrait is, of course, the tie. Color, style, pattern – it all has to be captured! We’ve photographed ties with tiny sea creatures, handcrafted bowties and ties of all colors.

Here are highlights of Boutonniere + Tie Portraits from our portfolio!

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Vendors | Whistlestop Florist | Mens Wearhouse | Tuxedo Junction | Affections Floral Design |

SHP Winter Series | Dress Portraits

Posted by / January 24, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / -

We’re about to embark on our 8th wedding season as a team (and Sarah’s 10th year shooting weddings)! We’ve been reflecting a lot this winter – on our portfolios of work, where we crushed it, and as always, where we can improve. During this process, we decided we’d like to share some highlights from over the years by creating a SHP Winter Series.

Today, for our first Winter Series installment, we’re reflecting on wedding dress portraits. Deciding on what to wear on this very important day is always an exciting and daunting task. We like talking with our clients and hearing their shopping adventures and experiences. We also like to see sneak peeks during meetings when possible (we are great at keeping secrets!). Gushing over the plans and possibilities is a lot of fun, but seeing it come altogether on the big day is the best.

We’ve seen all sorts of styles with our diverse clientele – some short and fitted, some short and puffy (and great for twirling!), some long and sleek, others long and billowing with lovely layers. Each and everyone is perfect. You know why? Because it makes the person wearing it shine with unique beauty inside and out!

Our ideal wedding day schedule allows time for dress portraits. We know the task of finding the dress was trying, and we also know for most people, it’s the most money they will ever spend on a garment. Plus, each dress is so beautiful in its own way – the details (the beads! the lace! the neckline!), the craftsmanship – it’s what the client fell in love with, so it’s important to us to capture these things in high quality, artist images. Allowing time for us to take the dress somewhere before it’s put on gives us the chance to get creative, especially when we can incorporate the scenic outdoors or symmetrical architecture.

Here are some dress portraits and dress details that we chose to highlight from our portfolio:

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Vendors | Mirror, Mirror Inc. | NY Bride | Alfredo Angelo | Spybaby | David’s Bridal  | Light in the Box | Bliss Bridal |

Vernon Center, NY | The Hayloft on the Arch | Kalee + John

Posted by / January 17, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / -

We quickly connected with Kalee and John when we met at a Syracuse Wedding bridal show, and by the time their big day came around, it’s safe to say they were not only our clients, but our friends. Kalee and John have two adorable children we’ve had the pleasure of photographing in the past. They also both love good food and craft beer. It was just inevitable we’d connect on the friendship level!

Our final meeting before their big day happened to land on National Taco Day! We didn’t know this until Facebook told us. We couldn’t help but be a little bummed we had to hang out at the office instead of drinking margaritas and stuffing our faces with tacos (Sarah REALLY loves tacos), but hard work and dedication takes some sacrifice!! Once John and Kalee found out about our situation, they asked us for our taco orders from Otro Cinco (Sarah’s favorite downtown taco spot!). Were they really going to bring us tacos to their final meeting???!!!

They sure did! And we ate them altogether as we finalized the details on the shot list for their wedding day. BFF’s for LIFE!

Once the day came, the weather put a little bit of a hitch in their plans. They had been looking forward to exchanging vows outside on the Hayloft on the Arch‘s beautiful property, but the rain was just not going to allow for it; however, we did manage to get their romantic first look and some wedding party photos in before the skies opened up!

The staff quickly adjusted to the change in plans, and Kalee and John were able to exchange vows under their beautifully handcrafted book arch – inside! Kalee’s brother made the most epic arch for them to marry under out of real books and steel. It doubled for a great setting for family portraits as well! Each table was named after one of their favorite books, adorned with the cover of the book, stacks of vintage books and flowers. It was a lovely and unique DIY.

Kalee’s Maid of Honor was our first rapper of the season! She surprised Kalee in the best way as she rapped about their friendship and Kalee’s love for John to the tune of Ice, Ice Baby. All the while the bridesmaids were up on their chairs dancing away with encouragement. It was a great way to top of a night full of dancing! Everyone, including little 4 month old Felix and his big sister Remy, boogied down on the dance floor. Did we mention there were s’mores?!

Here are some highlights from Kalee & John’s best day ever:

Vendors | Venue & Coordinator – Hayloft on the Arch | DJ – The DJ Company | Catering – Diamond Catering | Florist – Affections Floral Design | Hairstylist – Tease & Makeup | Video – Justin Mayer | Dress – Mirror Mirror Inc |

Syracuse, NY | Landmark Theatre | Heather + Jeremy

Posted by / January 11, 2017 / Categories: Weddings / 1 Comment

SHP has known Heather and Jeremy for a long time and considers them great friends. Sarah has had the pleasure of photographing each of them on separate occasions in and around Tymeless Tattoo, as well as getting pierced by Jeremy a few different times! Jenn had the honor of photographing their adorable newborn, Tegan, back in July. She put the cutest little hiccup in their original wedding plans! However, having some extra time allowed them to plan their wedding close to Thanksgiving, so lots of family members were in town.

The Landmark Theatre provided the perfect backdrop for their masquerade theme. Jeremy and Heather picked out the most fantastic and appropriate apparel too. Heather’s intricate gown was simply stunning, and Jeremy’s gold embroidered jacket accompanied Heather and the venue perfectly. They provided the guests with supplies to make their own masks and had their own gold filigree masks waiting for them at the sweetheart table.

Since SHP has known this lovely couple for a while, a lot of our mutual friends were guests. We knew they’d deliver on an awesome celebration. It was a blast photographing the party that ensued on the dance floor! Oh to have been able to split ourselves into two for this one! One to photograph and one to party with all of our pals. Just a little FYI we did get to celebrate a little after we were finished photographing. A big glass of cheers to Jeremy and Heather for their amazing wedding day and letting us be a part of it in such a big way.

Here are some highlights from their best day ever!

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Congratulations & best wishes, Mr. & Mrs. Mastine!

Vendors | DJ – Dean Clarke| Catering – Carnegie |