• some people look for a beautiful place;
    others make a place beautiful.
    - hazrat inavat khan -

jenna & carter :: engagement session in little mountain, sc

Believe it or not, photography has not driven me to be a money-seeking type of person. Sure, I’ve enjoyed being able to capitalize on a passion and have fun while doing what is now considered work, but it’s not really what keeps my interest and the creative juices flowing and my desire that once I reach my best, to keep going.

People keep me going. Creating friendships keep me going.

Before I book a bride and groom for any photography services, I always like to sit down with them face-to-face. With Facebook and email and texting, it’s very easy to continue impersonal conversations without the need to meet until the day of the session or wedding. Too easy.

In person interaction is extremely important to have with your photographer. I’ve mentioned this before in my blog entry about booking a photographer, and I’ll say it again. Assuming you book me for the whole shebang (engagement, bridal, wedding), I likely become the single most contacted and visible wedding vendor you work with (other than your wedding planner if you have one). It’s vital that you mesh well with me, or your wedding experience is going to be a bumpy ride. As any non-verbal communication goes, it’s very hard to read people: face-to-face interaction at least helps you become more acquainted, and frankly, decide if you want to see my face and hear my voice for the next 8-12 months. Bottom line: it’s an interview – my work can only do so much talking for me, and it’s a way to prove myself from behind the computer, the phone, and ultimately, my camera.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m interviewing you too. While you’re trying to figure out if I’m a good fit for you, I’m trying to figure out if you’re a good fit for me and my portfolio. I’ve jumped into many business situations that become just that: business. Boring. I’ve also taken on brides that I knew were going to be a handful from the beginning based on our clashing personalities – lets just say we don’t talk anymore. Over the course of 3 years of me doing this now, I’ve become more confident it making my own rules and breaking others as I see fit. Here’s one of them: I don’t care how money someone throws in my direction, if I do not feel comfortable and/or I get a weird feeling in my gut that we’re not meant to work together, then, simply put, I wont.

Funny thing, I didn’t get to meet Jenna and Carter in person before I rode out to Carter’s family’s land to scope out the location of their engagement session which was planned for the following weekend. Jenna and I emailed and texted, but through it all, I had a great feeling about her, and her vision, and her love for Carter.

When we met out in Little Mountain, SC, I was greeted with big smiles and tight handshakes, and by the time we were done, I left with warm hugs and excitement to see the both of them in 6 days. We passed each other’s interviews enthusiastically.

Our mutual comfortableness made the following Sunday so much fun and magical. I felt good enough to ask them to do outside-of-the-box things, and they felt good enough to try them; even lying down in the tall field grass SANS blanket with chiggers and ticks and God-knows-what-else-could-there-be’s crawling underneath them. In the midst of us working for each other and making amazing images that I’m oh-so-proud of, we became friends.

People keep me going. People like Jenna and Carter.

Jenna & Carter, thank SO much for being so awesome to me! You welcomed me with open arms from the beginning, which makes everything so much easier for all of us. I am so glad our lives have crossed paths, and I’m truly a better person and photographer because of it. Can’t wait to capture the rest of this journey with you two, and becoming better friends in the meantime!:)

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bansri & anish :: a cultural wedding experience :: part 1

I have a confession to make: I’m a total knowledge nerd.

I loved school. I love museums and reading every single plaque beneath each exhibit. I love traveling and seeing the world and completely immersing myself other cultures. Yep, not the girl you’ll find eating at a McDonalds while in another country. It makes me have more appreciation for differences and how God didn’t make us all the same. Learning more about others makes me learn more about myself.

Totally just nerded you out too, didn’t I?

So when my friend Bansri from high school reached out to me with interest to shoot her traditional Hindu wedding, I straight up squealed. The mental pictures of bright colors and tasty food and elaborate decorations filled my head, but I wasn’t too sure the format and significance of the ceremony and events that take place over 3 days. So like the recently-mentioned nerd that I am, I jumped online and read all I could about Hindu tradition.

What I didn’t research online was the amount of fun I was going to have.

Seriously. They know how to throw down.

Everyone dances. Everyone sings. Everyone genuinely enjoys themselves [including me] to the Nth degree.

I left their wedding reception at 11pm with everyone still dancing, smiling, and cheering for the newly-wed Patels, and I felt as much as a guest and part of the family as their photographer.

Here are some of my favorites from Bansri’s Mehndi Ceremony which took place on Thursday night!

I was absolutely obsessed with Bansri’s mendhi! Nirjary Desai with KIS (cubed) Events did an amazing job on it, as well as Bansri’s hair/makeup the whole weekend!

And on this night, I got to experience my first legit Indian meal! Big thanks to Bansri’s sister, Nandi, for explaining all the dishes to me. It was delicious!

Part 2:: Pithi/Haldi Ceremonies for Bansri & Anish will be next!

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to first look or not to first look: that is the question.

Number one question I get asked: “Paige, what color is your hair going to be for your wedding?”

Second most asked question: “Paige, how do you feel about brides & grooms doing a first look?”

This is definitely the most taboo/controversial subject when considering change in traditions of weddings.  Inside/church ceremonies? Outside venues are becoming more popular. Blusher-veils over the face? Thing of the past, but still done for the vintage look .Bride’s parents paying for the whole wedding themselves? Pshhh. Tell that to an independent bride and she’ll laugh in your face. Letting the groom see you before you walk down the aisle? YOU SAID WHAT?! Now that’s when everything gets a little tricky.

So exactly how did this tradition start?

During the times when arranged marriages were the norm, the couple to be wed were never allowed to see each other.  Marriages in the olden times were like business deals between two families.  A father especially wanted his daughter to be wed to a man from a rich land-owning family.  But if the groom met the bride before the wedding and saw that she wasn’t attractive, the groom could back out and cancel the wedding.  This is something the family of the bride wanted to avoid, especially if they wanted to secure marrying into a wealthy family, so they kept her from him until the ceremony when the chance of him interrupting the ceremony to bail was unlikely.

So why do we still follow this tradition today when the historical reasoning for it no longer exists? I am all about some ooey gooey love and excitement feelings… the whole idea that the suspense of making him wait until the big moment, and the pretty picture it creates: when she walks through those doors and he sees her for the first time. I make sure no matter where I am, that I swing around and capture his expression locking eyes with her.

Some moments have been magical. Smiles are big. Eyes tear up.
And some, not so magical. Sweating. Nervous blinking. Eyes darting everywhere except on his bride. Emotionless.

It wasn’t until I became a photographer that my views have changed on the “first look” faux pas. Ask me 4 years ago and you betcha I would make McKinley wait until I walked down the aisle to see me in all my bridal glory. Now that I’m on this side of the fence and seen the not-so-perfect reactions the bride had envision differently, and know the logical [and emotional] benefits of having a first look before the ceremony, I do suggest them. Will I make a bride uncomfortable by pushing my non-traditional banter on her? Definitely not. But if she’s curious about them, I’ll give her my opinion.

And since this is my blog and I do what I want, I’m gonna give y’all my opinion too. ;]


Pro-First Look Reason # 1: Pre-Wedding Jitters/Emotions
Some people are cool as a cucumber under pressure. Some are not. Some people have to run a marathon in order to sweat. But if some people are anything like me, they will sweat in a snow storm when nervous. Seeing your groom/bride before the ceremony helps relieve some of that suspense and pressure. It gives you a chance to chill and hang out and talk and be normal. Not saying that it relieves all the fear of forgetting vows or not to lock your legs, but it helps some… at least enough to control a nervous tick he may have and smile at you at some point. It also helps with the fear of crying. A lot of girls aren’t sure if they will be able to hold their composure while walking down the aisle. Crying faces aren’t the cutest, and neither are the mascara smears down cheeks. Most likely, you’ll get your crying out when you see him, then touch up the makeup, and be good to go for the ceremony.

Pro-First Look Reason # 2: Time
First looks are a HUGE time saver. After you see each other and have your intimate moment, you can go on and knock out the traditional post-nuputial pictures prior to the ceremony. What does that mean, you ask? It means you get to stroll right into your reception along with everyone else, meaning no missing out on the shrimp that ran out an hour before you arrived, no pictures to cut into your epic Wobble Baby Wobble dance moves, and no impatient guests waiting on you to be announced who end up dipping out early.

Pro-First Look Reason # 3: Attitude
First looks are a HUGE attitude saver. Hopefully you see where I’m going with this. Not even gonna lie – post-ceremony pictures are miserable for everyone involved. Frankly put, your wedding party and family who just stood/sat during your ceremony crying happy tears for you, will turn into the biggest assholes if you delay them from indulging in food and alcohol by making them stand and smile for pictures afterwards.  But no worries – they won’t be an asshole to you, they will be one to me. And then most likely, you’ll follow suit and be an asshole to me too. It’s okay – I can take it and be an asshole back. But in the big scheme of things, this isn’t my fault. It’s yours. Just remember that.

Pro-First Look Reason # 4: Fresh Look for Pictures
Ladies, you know this: Girls cry. Makeup runs. Hairspray loses it’s adhesiveness. Frizz happens. Is your makeup artist or hair stylist planning to stick around to touch you up for the formal pictures after the ceremony? Probably not. Get pictures done when everything is fresh and bright. That way, you don’t have to worry about looking like a hot mess in the same pictures after the ceremony.

Pro-First Look Reason # 5: One-on-One Intimate Moment
This is by far my most favorite reason for suggest a first look… yes, even over avoiding asshole-ness. I take you off by yourselves – preferably no family, no wedding party. Just us three. I shoot from a distance, and just let you two be. The emotions are overwhelming. Yea, I sometimes tear up too; I especially did during Callie & William‘s first look. I just let both of you enjoy each other and take it all in with my camera. These images are special. After a good 5-7 mins, we roll right into a small mini-shoot to get some good frame-able, newspaper announcement-worthy images. Usually these are done right after the ceremony or right before the reception. More times than I’d like to admit, brides and grooms opt out at the last minute on the intimate mini-shoot with me – they are in a tizzy after the formal pictures and feel rushed to get into the reception. I advise them otherwise – sometimes it works and they spare me another 10 minutes – they end up thanking me later. Other times, it doesn’t, and they regret not having those images. Twice now I’ve been contacted by past brides asking me if I’d be willing to stage those shots with them again. They would get into their wedding attire, she would get her hair and makeup done identically, and we’d go off to the location where we intended to have these images taken before. I’m totally up for it, but it takes every ounce of me to say “I told you so.” I otherwise settle by being able to tell this story to you and my current brides to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else, instead.

At the end of all of this, it’s you and your fiance’s preference. I am willing to give my brides suggestions on what makes the whole process a lot easier for everyone involved, but logic doesn’t always beat out tradition which I completely respect. But sometimes, it’s fun to go against the norm. Magic happens for rule-breakers, too.
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lauren & ben :: engagement session in trenton, sc

I don’t always get to shoot how I want to. Sure, I suggest locations; I give my two cents here and there. But for the most part, time is my biggest enemy and there’s just not enough of it to fully get what I want out of the session.

Particularly engagement sessions: they’re set up rather quickly. It’s usually the first thing to mark off the todo list as a newly engaged couple. It usually goes, “Hi, I got engaged yesterday and would like an engagement session with you tomorrow.” And there isn’t anything wrong with that! Nothing says we’re engaged more than some cutesy formal pictures together. I understand the excitement, trust me.

But once in a blue moon, I get one of those couples who want to take their time; who don’t want to rush the creative process… the type that trusts me fully and lets me take control. This session was one of those.

I actually met with Lauren and her mom back in February for a consultation. They booked me soon there after. Lauren and I started touching base in March and chose a late May date for her and Ben’s engagement session. We sent emails back and forth every couple of days – occasionally some texts – brainstorming concepts, locations, pinning down the overall look Lauren was hoping for. Sure, I do this for all of my brides, but the difference with this one was that I had time on my side. I had time to do research and make lists of things I wanted to bring. I had time to run it all back by Lauren and have her give her input, and me make tweaks as they came along. I had time to rummage through my house and find fun props to stage their picnic – I even made the time to go to the grocery store to buy real fruit for it… all because I had the time.

Long story short, the finished product was magical. Lauren & Ben had fun, I had fun, and we walked away with some pretty awesome out-of-the-norm images.

And most importantly, I got to shoot how I want to.

Despite the poison ivy I sat in during the picnic location, and the $206 Doctor’s Care visit to get rid of it, this experience was a win-win for all.

Yep, it was an awesome day. :]

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bralyn :: bridal session in columbia, sc

Just look at her. Gahhhh!

If her husband Jared is the luckiest person alive, then that means I’m the second luckiest person to be able to photograph this gorgeousness! Seriously though – I do get the prettiest brides!

I’ve known Bralyn for some time now – I met her 6 years ago when she was coming through USC Aiken Orientation as an incoming freshman. Jared was actually a part of my Pacesetter group I led through orientation at the same time. Coincidentally enough, in passing, I introduced Jared and Bralyn. Who knew I was introducing them both to the love of their life?!

Now he gets to enjoy this. All day. For the rest of his life.


Hate it for him, right? 😛

Sneak peek from their wedding celebration festivities soon! But first, take this beautiful bride allllllll innnnnn…

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