Top Five Friday :: Why You Should Consider an Underwater Engagement Session

:: Why You Should Consider an Underwater Engagement Session ::

Guess what? We have a MRSter approved photographer who does underwater photography, even engagement sessions! We thought this would make a fascinating ‘Top Five’ feature. So as a result, we are presenting the “Top Five Reasons Why You Should Consider an Underwater Engagement Session,” featuring photographer extraordinaire Alyssa, of {MRSter Approved} Alyssa Campbell Photography.

1 :: Anyone can have an underwater engagement session. You don’t have to have special skills to be photographed underwater except being able to swim, being able to open your eyes underwater, and being able to hold your breath for brief, intermittent periods of time. Alyssa says, The most important thing in my experience, is that people feel relatively comfortable underwater. If having your head underwater makes you feel panicked, then an underwater session isn’t for you. I’ve found most people who are interested in underwater sessions naturally are “water people”. You definitely do not have to be a professional swimmer/freediver, etc however! I can’t hold my breath that long, so we are generally only under the water for maybe 30 seconds at a time.”

2 :: An underwater engagement session is a truly unique and awesome experience and underscores the specialness of your love for one another. Per Alyssa, “Water has this interesting, almost magical quality of making things look so beautiful and graceful. People often tell me that they are amazed at how graceful and beautiful they look when they see the finished photos. This is due in part to good photography and coaching, but mostly, that’s just the effect that water has! My style is also based heavily on natural emotions and interactions between couples. I have a psychology degree, so I draw on that in observing couple’s natural interactions and personalities, and bring that into the shoot in order to make the shoot reflective of each couple’s unique personalities and relationships.

3 :: Your photographer is highly experienced and will let you know what to do every step of the way. Alyssa states, “ I’ve been doing underwater portraits for at least 5 years, and professionally for about 3 years. I have been a photographer for over 6 years and a scuba diver for half my life. I draw on all of those skills for my sessions.”

4 :: As far as where to shoot, Alyssa tells me: “I currently have a “home pool” in Mesa, AZ where I do most of my sessions, however I am happy to come to clients’ homes if their pools are suited for a session, or travel – especially to places such as Hawaii! 😉 Water clarity is the most important factor for the shoot success. If someone wants portraits somewhere that the water clarity might not be as ideal, there are lots of other options to still get some underwater portraits. For example, let’s say that a particular beach in California is especially meaningful to a couple and they want some beach portraits, then some underwater portraits. Oftentimes on beaches, sand gets stirred up by the waves, making the water clarity pretty bad until you swim out pretty far, at which point that makes most people a bit nervous and uncomfortable because of the water depth. Not to mention it’s a lot more physically taxing. So, in that case, I would do regular portraits on the beach, then move into the water and have the couple be half submerged. It still gives the look and feel of underwater in a location that is meaningful to them and mitigates the issues of water clarity. You could also do this same idea for example at a river, as long as it was shallow and posed no safety concerns. Safety is where working with a professional UNDERWATER photographer – not someone who wants to try it for the first time – is essential. Any time that I am in a place where my clients can’t touch, I have an assistant for safety.”

5 :: Underwater engagement sessions give you an empowering sense of freedom and an ability to express yourself like no other venue. Alyssa agrees. “It’s such a unique way to express your personality and get something different from ANYTHING else out there. That’s the number one reason people come to me – they want their engagement photos to look different. Underwater photography is a very small niche with only a few photographers doing it currently. The possibilities are endless. You can have a simple session with just you and your partner, or you can bring a theme which opens up a lot of potential fun ideas to explore. You can also do a half underwater, half more traditional land shoot as well.”

Well, I have to say that this blogger is impressed. Kinda wish I had known about this a long time ago! Thanks Alyssa, for opening up a new world of photographic possibilities for our readers. How would you feel about an underwater photo shoot?

Wedding Wisdom Wednesday :: Why the Wedding Industry & Engaged Couples Need MRSter

:: Why the Wedding Industry & Engaged Couples Need MRSter ::

We hate to brag (not really), but MRSter serves a valuable purpose to both the wedding industry and ALL engaged couples. We believe that all engaged couples should be treated equally. We recently interviewed MRSter co-founder Cicely Rocha Miller and MRSter Approved Photographer, Justin McCallum of Justin McCallum Photography on the subject of why the wedding industry and engaged couples need MRSter. We thought it was a good idea to present these questions from our point of view and that of a candid vendor, and hope you agree.

MRSter :: What is it that makes MRSter unique?

Cicely :: We vet all of the wedding vendors that want to list with us through an application process; researching them and confirm their marketing materials are inclusive. We also aren’t just about gay weddings, we are about ALL weddings, as we welcome and celebrate straight couples as well.

Justin :: I was thankful to come across MRSter not only as a wedding vendor myself, but as a member of the LGBTQ community. With rhetoric dividing the conversation surrounding same-sex weddings between exclusion or normalization, it is inspiring to see an online resource that presents couples as they are, without judgement or emphasis on the ‘wedding-industrial-complex.’ MRSter is a space for couples to seek out inspirational and aspirational wedding planning resources with real examples and vendors who are actually reflective of them.

MRSter :: What is the most common error(s) vendors make specific to LGBT engaged couples?

Cicely :: Constantly referring in print, social media and on their websites, to their clients as “Brides”.

Justin :: Having mistakenly landed on the receiving end of many a wedding vendor e-blast, nothing makes me hit “SPAM” faster than immediately calling a wedding planner the “bride” and mentioning a “hubby-to-be” later on. To make such assumptions in today’s day and age is so short-sighted, that it immediately makes me call into question whether they can understand the nuances unique to any relationship, let alone a LGBTQ partnership. In a similar vein, however, couples shouldn’t look exclusively for LGBTQ vendors. Just being queer doesn’t guarantee they’ll vibe with you or your boo, so make sure you meet with vendors before you hire them, since they have to be a good fit for every nook and cranny of you.

MRSter :: How can we best assist vendors?

Cicely :: We offer education, tips and ideas on how to attract the new demographic through an email marketing series that will help them BUILD MORE WEDDING BUSINESS. Click here to sign up!

Justin :: Although I think MRSter has a burgeoning social media presence, I have never seen any marketing or other efforts to grow the network. I think it may be a great website for couples to Pin photos or look at the occasional wedding, but it is lacking a bit of the authority necessary to make couples outright book vendors based on being featured or seeing a profile. That could also be improved with sharper web design.

Cicely :: (in response to Justin). We are aware, and that is something we greatly desire to change. We are working with designers currently to try and work out an easier way for our MRSter Approved vendors to be booked. Thank you for your insight, Justin! We are always open and grateful to hear feedback as to how we can make this resource as user-friendly as possible!

MRSter :: How can we best assist engaged couples?

Cicely :: We offer an amazing list of vendor partners through the FABuLIST. These MRSter Approved vendors are those that celebrate your engagement and love; not merely tolerate it. We offer stories of other wedding days and tips on planning as well.

MRSter :: What still needs to be done to engage greater acceptance of LGBT couples?

Cicely :: Practicing what you are preaching. It’s not about adding a rainbow to your website and assuming that will take care of being inclusive in your business. It’s about you, as a professional wedding vendor, being among the first to practice and implement the tips and suggestions we offer to attract more wedding business.

Justin: MRSter is on the right to track to hasten acceptance of LGBTQ couples by presenting their unique love stories and avoiding stereotypes. Similarly, presenting same-sex couples alongside straight counterparts without division legitimates their love as ordinary, and removes the stigma of being “other.” Continued, honest representation of LGBTQ couples is the clearest path to greater acceptance.

MRSter offers heartfelt thanks to Justin McCallum for his forthright and honest responses. If any of our readers have something to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Phoenix, ARIZONA :: Melanie & Laine :: Key To My Heart // Real LGBTQ Engagement

:: Key To My Heart  ::

Submitted & Photographed by :: {MRSter Approved} Elizabeth Douglas Photography

Life is a journey in so many ways. In lives we lead, in the relationships we have, and sometimes, in the bodies we were born with.

I met Melanie {MRSter Advisory Board Member} and Laine last summer, as they had won an engagement session at the Phoenix Pride Silent Auction in June. Before our face to face meeting, Melanie had sent me a link to their website, I think to “prep” me for what I was going to be experiencing during my time with them. Take some time and enjoy the “journey” with them by taking a look at Melanie’s blog here.

Their engagement session ended up being a combination of an engagement and holiday photo session with Melanie’s four kids, who were just a hoot! They weren’t too keen on an actual photo shoot, but by the end, three of them had become my “helpers” and were asking if I’d ever need any models in the future! It was so wonderful to see how excited they were for their mom and Laine, and made the shoot even more fun with some of their antics (as you can see from the images!).

Laine’s transformation from a woman to a man has been quite incredible. They’ve planned their wedding around the time when Laine’s journey would be complete. Their engagement session took place close to the half way point of this journey, as they wanted the process documented through photos as well.

I’m so grateful to have been a part of this “journey” with them, and am so excited to follow their love story as it continues to unfold.

DISTINCTIONS

Engagement. Journey. LGBTQ Transformation. Family Photos.

THE PROFESSIONALS

Photography :: {MRSter Approved} Elizabeth Douglas Photography

LOCATION

Granada Park, Phoenix, Arizona

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part Four // What Wedding Moments Are Overlooked The Most?

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part Four // What Wedding Moments Are Overlooked The Most?

We hope that after your wedding day when you sit down to look at the beautiful photographs, you don’t have regrets over certain significant memories being overlooked. It is a great idea to discuss any of those must-have moments with your photographer ahead of time. 

MRSter :: What kinds of shots are often overlooked during the wedding day?

Parker :: Every photographer has their favorite parts of weddings to capture, and for me it’s the details. I know some wedding photographers aren’t interested in photographing all the beautiful details, and when I view their work I feel they are overlooking so many beautiful shots! Always make sure you hire a photographer who is prepared to capture what is the most important part of your day, to you. That’s just my personal two cents. I am also a huge believer in capturing images of the venue. A lot of photographers automatically grab these shots, but rarely do I hear couples requesting them. If you’re spending money on it and putting time and energy into it, make sure you’re hiring a photographer who is going to capture it! I’m a huge fan of images of parents seeing their child that’s getting married all dressed up for the first time. Basically, a parental first look. There is so much emotion during this time, and setting up a specific part of the day right after getting ready to capture this makes the moment even more special. Other frequently overlooked on the wedding day, are portraits of the couple! During the hustle and bustle of the wedding day, as the couple gets tired and just wants to relax at the reception, the romantic portraits of the two of them can feel less important in the moment. These are the images that you’ll be putting on your wall, the images that you’ll be showing to your children and grandchildren, and are the single most important portraits of the whole day… Don’t overlook them! In addition, a lot of couples will include very special details into their wedding day, (heirloom jewelry, engraved rings or watches, etc.). Always tell your photographer about these items and anything else that is special to you about your wedding so they can capture these items in a way that helps tell the story of why you included it. These are the images you will still treasure in 15 years because they’re all the more meaningful.

MRSter would like to thank Parker of {MRSter Approved} company The PK Photographs for joining us in providing his professional advice to some common questions regarding wedding photography. He is pretty awesome, huh?! Don’t forget, you can check out his {MRSter Approved} photography company here. And, don’t miss part one, part two, and part three of this blog special.

Psssttt :: MRSter is proud of the dynamite team of experts that we have assembled on our ever growing FABuLIST, and are so happy to have offered these professional tips from one of our seasoned professionals. Be sure to check our website regularly for expert advice and inspiration as you plan your wedding, and remember that MRSter is a leader in wedding equality!

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part Three // Proper Lighting During Wedding Pictures... Does It Really Matter?

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part Three // Proper Lighting During Wedding Pictures… Does It Really Matter?

As we already mentioned, wedding photography is one of the biggest investments for many couples on their wedding day. You are likely to spend thousands on hiring a professional wedding photographer, so believe us when we say they certainly know best… This detail is truly one best left to the professionals.

MRSter :: How important is proper lighting?

Parker :: Proper lighting is the most important aspect of photography. Very few couples think about it, and it’s the aspect that the photographer has the least control over during a wedding. I’ve seen so many couples fill Pinterest boards with bright, daylight images, but their portrait time isn’t until after the sun has gone down… The images will look completely different. If the ceremony is taking place at noon (when the sun is the highest in the sky and produces the most unflattering shadows), it will have a huge impact on how the images look. If the ceremony is under a tree where light is shining through some of the leaves, it will often produce an unattractive pattern of shadows on everyone in the shade. With regard to indoor venues, some churches have a lot of natural light, while others are quite dark, (and generally it’s difficult to incorporate flash in a church during the ceremony). If having an indoor reception that the photographer can light well is important, choose a place with a white ceiling that isn’t too high. This gives plenty of options to direct and bounce light around. 

MRSter :: Ditto what we said about the timing of your photo shoot… When it comes to the intricate details of photography, it’s best to trust in the professional you hired.

Check out Parker’s {MRSter Approved} business The PK Photographs here.

Don’t miss Parker’s professional wedding photography advice part one and part two.

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part Two // Timeline Question! When Is The Best Time For Formal Pictures?

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part Two // Timeline Question! When Is The Best Time For Formal Pictures?

MRSter :: What is the best time to have your formal photo shoot?

Parker :: Personally, I love being able to do formal images of the family, bridal party, and couple before the wedding ceremony, (this typically involves the couple doing a first look). As a general rule, you want to be able to take these images in the daylight. Morning and late afternoon are two ideal times, and with the average wedding timeline, late afternoon seems to work best. Not only is this typically a great time for natural light, but everyone is looking their best. Bridesmaids haven’t lost their flowers, groomsmen haven’t accidentally headed off to the reception yet, and people are typically less drunk than they might be later in the evening! There are still a lot of couples who do not want to do a first look, and want to see their spouse for the first time during the wedding ceremony. In these situations, I ask my couples to inform everyone ahead of time who will be needed for these portraits and that they’ll need to hang back at the end of the ceremony, and then also have the officiant reiterate this at the end of the wedding ceremony. This helps everything flow smoothly and we stick to the timeline much better.

MRSter Tip :: You two have enough on your mind on your special day. So, when it comes to memorializing your wedding day, trust your professional photographer to take care of the details… That is what you invested in them for, after all.

Check out Parker’s {MRSter Approved} business The PK Photographs here.

Did you miss part one of Parker’s professional wedding photography advice? You can find it here.

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part One // Is It Rude To Ask Guests To Not Take Photos At The Wedding?

Wedding Photography Tips :: Part One // Is It Rude To Ask Guests To Not Take Photos At The Wedding?

Photography has been rated as one of the top investments when planning a wedding, so we understand the value and importance of it. It holds that moment, that memory, for a lifetime, and those photographs become everlasting moments captured in a flash. You may find yourself with questions regarding this aspect of your wedding, so it is a good idea to brush up on some basic wedding photography tips, and of course, be sure to talk it over with your chosen wedding photographer before the big day.

Today, MRSter is so excited to present a four part blog post with Parker Radbourne of {MRSter Approved} company The PK Photographs. Parker will be offering us some professional wedding photography advice to some of the most common wedding photography questions…

MRSter :: Why and when is it important to ask your wedding guests to refrain from photo taking?

Parker :: I truly hate the idea of asking guests to completely refrain from taking photos. This is a huge, emotional event, and when people who rarely see each other are together, it only makes sense for them to be taking photos of themselves, with others, and of course of the couple getting married. That being said, as a professional wedding photographer, I always advise my couples to consider having an “unplugged ceremony”, where the guests are asked at the beginning of the ceremony, (some couples include it on their invitations), to refrain from taking photos, to sit back, and enjoy the event by being present. This usually sets a precedent for the rest of the event, as well, by just making the guests aware of the fact that professional photography is important to the couple.

There are two reasons for an unplugged ceremony. The first is flash, and the second is guests accidentally getting in between the professional/s and the couple… Causing missed shots. Occasionally, guests will use flash at the same time as the photographer is shooting. The photographer’s camera is set for a specific lighting situation, so the guest’s flash will completely ruin the image, and most wedding ceremonies can’t be redone to recapture images that were ruined by external factors. In addition, most guests at weddings, (even those who bring expensive cameras), aren’t used to having to work around, and constantly be aware of the location of hired photographers. When they get in the middle of the aisle to get a great shot of the couple during their first kiss, they don’t even realize that they stepped between the professional wedding photographer that the couple hired, and the couple. Then the photographer just has an image of the guest’s back… And that’s not what most couples are paying thousands of dollars for! Most guests stay seated and are quite polite during wedding ceremonies, but by asking guests to refrain from taking photos during the ceremony altogether, it rules out a lot of potential issues. Same idea during formal portraits and events during the reception. I don’t think guests should necessarily have to put away their cameras/phones during these events, but it’s very important to be respectful of the fact that the couple spent a lot of time and energy hiring a specific professional photographer.

Be sure to check out Parker’s FABuLIST listing here.

MRSter Tip:: Letting your guests know when they can take photos themselves is quite acceptable. Ways of doing so could include; having the officiant let everyone know, have it written in your ceremony program, a sign at the entrance of your ceremony, or asking your reception entertainment to announce when it is okay to take photos.

For more suggestions as to how to politely inform your guests that you are having an unplugged wedding, check out our blog post here.

Psssttt :: If you are searching online to find your wedding photographer, of course we hope you have checked out the badass MRSter Approved vendors on our FABuLIST!! Let us help connect you with the PERFECT wedding photographer!!

Scottsdale, ARIZONA :: Erika & Roberta :: Proposal Picnic // Real LGBT Engagement

:: Proposal Picnic ::

Submitted by :: Maria of Elizabeth Douglas Photography

Erika and Roberta (Robbi) were in from Harvard visiting Erika’s family for the holidays. Erika is a true Zonie (aka unicorn…born and raised in AZ), where Roberta is an East Coast gal. They took a day trip down to Southern Arizona where Erika LOVES to hike and explore. Roberta had something else in mind, so they stopped to pick up some wine, cheese and crackers, and turned it into a proposal picnic! I was completely taken in by the lovely ring, as I noticed a hint of blue in it…sure enough, it’s an aquamarine! What a wonderful choice for a beautiful bride to be (hey, and she’s already got her “something blue” for their wedding day!).

Needless to say, Erika said, “YES!” and we had the pleasure of capturing their Engagement Session, along with family portraits for Erika’s family. Keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be meeting back up with them, either in Sedona or Hawaii for their wedding day as well!

CONGRATULATIONS, you two! Oh, and Erika, you still owe me a slice of Egg Nog Pie! LOL! (Erika is an AVID baker, and her goods look and sound scrumptious!).

DISTINCTIONS

Surprise. Proposal Picnic. Something Blue.

THE PROFESSIONALS

Photography :: Elizabeth Douglas Photography

LOCATION

Scottsdale, Arizona.

Concord, NORTH CAROLINA :: Little Red Riding Hood & The Huntsman // Justin & Bridgit // Real Wedding

:: Little Red Riding Hood & The Huntsman ::

Submitted and Photographed by :: Ellen of Due West Photography

Both Justin and Bridgit are incredibly creative people, and I knew their wedding was going to be beautiful and unique to their personalities. I love weddings where you can see the love, excitement and effort that the couple have poured into it, and this was the most personalized wedding I’ve ever seen.

They went with a Little Red Riding Hood and the Huntsman theme, and it was beyond anything I could have imagined! The venue was perfect (cozy and in the middle of the woods) and the decorations were out of a fairy tale. This wedding was an accumulation of an absolutely giddy couple who were delighted about their wedding, two incredible families and some seriously amazing bridesmaids and groomsmen who really took the day to the next level.

Everything seemed to cooperate with this wedding, even the weather; the rain held off just long enough for the ceremony and couple shots, and the woods were vibrant green and smelled incredible from the storm the day before. It cooled the temperature down perfectly on what would have otherwise been a typical hot and muggy North Carolina September day. And most importantly, it could not have been more obvious how happy everyone was for Justin and Bridgit. This was one of those weddings that reminds me why I do this, and why this is one of the best jobs in the world.

If you’re thinking this beautiful couple look familiar, you may have spotted their ‘Roadtrip Romance’ engagement shoot on our blog before! Take a peek here.

DISTINCTIONS

Nature. Creativity. Fairytale.

THE PROFESSIONALS

Venue :: Farm at Brusharbor
Photography :: Due West Photography 
Apparel {Bride} :: Nordstrom 
Hair :: Jessica Nicole Myers with Ashleigh P Hair Studio 
Makeup :: Megan Deputy Cooper 
Apparel {Groom} :: Gentleman’s Emporium
DJ :: DJ Marty
Cake :: Ruthie Fernandez at SoDelish

LOCATION

Concord, North Carolina.

COLORS