Hope is the most Beautiful Thing in the World…Trust Me.

This is my fabulous niece, Hope.

When I researched the name Hope, and also looked up general definitions for the word, my favorite was short and simple…but profound.

Hope: (n) A feeling of trust.

Hope is a pre-teen.  I think they call them “tweens” nowadays.  Watching this beautiful girl grow up made me want to ask her questions, and talk about all the crazy feelings that accompany the journey from child to teenager.  It’s a confusing transition, at least for a girl.  And trudging the windy road from fifth grade through the beginning of sophomore year can feel like forever…a corn maze of mind-games and social rules that all contradict each other.  I think it’s safe to say they were the most indescribably awkward years of my human existence…I trust many others girls feel the same.

Because of this, I stole Hope from her family, and we ran off to a local coffee shop to talk about all the stuff no one has words for.  You see, there is a sensation in the soul that keeps wondering “who am I,” but no answer seems to satisfy.  All the answers just point to something else…a new identity to be denied or embraced.  In the end, the stillness comes in the asking – not in solutions – which is why I believe that simply listening (with maybe a head nod here and there) is such a powerful act of love.

Do I sit at the kids table, or the adult table?  What do I like?  Am I still allowed to like what I used to, and am I going to be allowed to like what I’m drawn to?  What does being cool even mean, anyway?  Is it something you just are, or something that happens to you?  And is it the same thing as status?  I thought adults didn’t care about being cool – they tell you not to care – but then they act different in front of each other…if we aren’t supposed to care about fitting in, then why would anyone even have secrets in the first place?  Is this feeling loneliness?  No, it’s not that…it’s something else…I don’t know what it is.  I’ll have the blended drink with extra-whipped cream.

Good questions, Grasshopper.

Unfortunately, having survived the same type of identity storms, I have no answers, my Dear.  I do, however, have some other things to offer…like a hug, an over-sized chocolatey milk-shake thing they call coffee, and a stroll along beach-town sidewalks with an aunt that loves you.  And some outrageously embarrassing stories – I had to tell her some of those, too.

I suppose this is why we all need a little Hope – a little feeling of trust.  Trust that things will turn out Ok.  Trust that discomfort is temporary.  And trust that girlhood, all stages of it, are pretty awesome.

We need to trust that we are the most beautiful things in the world…because we are.

Hope and I talked about more than our struggles.  We also talked about popular boy-band music, sibling relationships, her oh-so-adult coffee beverage, religion, and Disney princesses…it was amazingly eclectic. Yes, be jealous.

Cheers to you, Hope.  Keep drawing princesses.  Keep pursuing your own sense of fashion.  Keep exploring…and don’t feel like you have to grow up too fast.  It’s definitely overrated (*wink).

Summer Beach Pics!

So, as many of you know, I recently wrote a post about not photographing my family enough.  Well, featured below is my husband’s brother’s family, who I love as my own.  Mark and Melanie have four beautiful kiddos – three girls and a new baby boy.  We all took a trip to Carlsbad, CA a few months back, and I’ve finally made the time to edit and post some of my favorite photos from our trip.

For anyone who would like to schedule Summer Beach Photography for next summer, please keep me in mind!  I would love to travel out for a weekend or two during the dreadfully hot Arizona months.  You can contact me through my main website, or by clicking the contact button in the main menu of this blog.

Thank you for allowing me to share my family with you!

Benefits of Staying Organized & Loving Your Workspace

 

It took me a long time to prioritize loving my workspace (see my new desk below!).  I’m lucky enough to work out of my home office, but I’m not a naturally organized person – it takes extra mindfulness and effort.  Now that I work from home, I label everything…I mean everything!  And I am meticulous about putting things in their place.

When I had a storefront in Scottsdale a few years ago, keep equipment, mailing supplies, papers, and marketing materials in their respective spaces was easy; after all, the laundry wasn’t calling my name, the door bell never rang, and I wasn’t distracted by the possibility of cooking dinner early.  Once I moved my office back home, however, I found myself getting behind with keeping a systemized work place. I had to nip this in the butt, and fast…

…so I did!  And I have since decided to share a few of the benefits that accompanied my serious organization:

1. More Time.

Spending the few minutes each day it takes to stay organized helps us save the hours of time it would have taken to find things or play “catch up” otherwise.  This includes electronic filing and online documents.  You know what more time means?  Well, for me it means more dates with friends, my husband, and my dogs.  Pretty good trade, huh?

2. More Money.

If I need something by tomorrow and can’t find it by tonight, I buy it…again.  Do you know how many double A batteries I found when I packed up my old house to move?  Like, a bajillion.  There were a few dozen in the refrigerator, a handful in the kitchen drawer, a few in the garage, and about twenty loose ones in various camera and luggage bags.  Listen, batteries are expensive!  I don’t know what it is about me and electronics, but I can’t count the number of USB extensions, memory cards, and i-phone chargers I purchased before making a commitment to stay organized.  Since keeping things in their proper place, my husband and I could probably refinance our house on the money I’ve saved on batteries alone.

3. Less Stress.

Being organized = putting things away.
Putting things away = less clutter.
Less clutter = less stress.
Less stress = happier Rachel.  :)

4. Reliable Character.

We are less likely to disappoint ourselves and others with the forgetfulness that results from “rushing out the door.”  Believe it or not, there was a time when I forgot to take my camera to a wedding shoot!  I’m not even kidding – I had all the equipment I’m prone to forget for event photography gigs: tripod, flashes, extra batteries, my back-up camera, cash for valet, directions to the venue, etc.  In the midst of gathering all the “extras,” the most obvious item was missed by my mind’s blind spot.  Had I been organized, set out my equipment, and reviewed my checklist the night before, I wouldn’t have been so flustered an hour before departure.

And just in case you’re wondering, everything turned out just fine – I called my assistant and asked her to pick up my camera while I used my back-up).  It’s certainly a mistake I’ve never made since (and will never make again!).

5. Transition Management.

Being organized allows us to manage transitions with ease.  If I’m aware of an event’s schedule, where things are located, and how to contact others easily, last minute changes are no longer obstacles – I can simply ride the waves and go with the flow.  Paradoxically, being strict about responsible organization helps me retain a relaxed, easy-going attitude.  Why?  Because I can trust my preparation and consistency.

New Work Desk

And just for fun, check out my new work desk (above)!

When I moved, I recycled a bunch of old, wooden storage boxes to build a dresser/desk specifically designed for my workflow.  It was super fun, and has helped me truly cherish my workspace!  With a little cabinetry wood from The Home Depot, some drawer glides from The Container Store, a screwdriver, and a willing husband, I enjoy the coolest and most eclectic piece of furniture around *wink.  It took some hard sanding and staining on my part, but it’s been worth it!

Get creative and love yourself by loving your space!

___

Check out Rachel’s tips on Creative Business Branding!

Live in Arizona and need a personal Q&A session?  Get the scoop on ONE2ONE sessions here!  I love helping other photographers – let’s get together and chat about the wedding industry, organized workflow, tricks of the trade, and coffee (of course, coffee) *wink.

Visit the main website: http://rachelcurryphotography.com

On a Personal Note…My Family.

I don’t post a lot of photos of my own family, probably because I don’t make enough time to take them!

I was lucky enough to spend some time with my entire family this last Mother’s Day (both my brothers, my parents, my husband, and my older brother’s family).  It was very special.

Here are a few snapshots that help me remember how important family really is.  :)

The Button Family – Making a Splash!

Oh, how I love the Button family!  Meet Melissa, Tyler, and Miss Bee.  A delightful trio with big time creativity!

A month or so ago, Mel emailed me this photo from the internet:

poolcouple

Sadly, I don’t know who took the photos, nor where to give credit (I’m happy to do so if anyone email’s me the information)…however, I thought it was a GREAT idea, and a wonderful option for us Phoenicians here in the super hot summer!  Considering temperatures are over 100 degrees this June, this was an awesome art project – way to go, Mel!

First, we documented her growing family in front of their beautiful entry way doors.  After some quick standing, sitting, and walking photos, we moved to the pool and celebrated Arizona style.  *wink!

Happy summer, everyone – stay cool!

 

Paige and Derek – Grey and Yellow Color Scheme

I don’t know if you’ve heard about it yet, but there is this amazing color scheme sight called The Perfect Pallette.  This year, I’ve seen a few yellow weddings, which have turned out beautiful.

According to Bourne Creative, yellow is associates with “freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honor, loyalty, and joy…”

Find out what your favorite colors stand for and how they make you feel – after all, these extraordinary life events are an expression of, well – you!  :)

Featured below are photos from Paige and Derek’s yellow and grey wedding.  These two met in college (see Paige and Derek’s engagement session here), and eagerly awaited their Arizona wedding!  Paige and Derek were married in Scottsdale, Arizona at their family church, and had a gorgeous ceremony at El Chorro in Paradise Valley (check out Tiffany and Brendan’s wedding at El Chorro)…Congrats you two!

Father’s Day Pics; a Husband’s Dream Come True…

So, we all know that the men in our lives don’t always love getting photos taken (*wink).  However, the men I photograph are total super-troopers.

The catch?  Their entire shoots only last 30 minutes.  Yup, thirty.  Three – zero.  That’s fifteen times two.  For real, Girlfriend!  I mean, anyone can smile for half an hour, right?  That’s not even five whole minutes in football time.  If my husband can do it, your can too (PS: Moms and daughters, don’t forget to reward the men in your lives with lots of kisses…and beer, of course…maybe a golf weekend, too…whatever it takes.  Photos are forever!).

The Borst family (featured below) are great friends to my husband and I, and it was such a pleasure photographing them again this year!  Their shoot took place at DC Ranch Marketstreet – check out a recent engagement shoot at the same location to see how much variety it offers.

A quick tip for photographers: Always read your clients. Remember, working with energy is more important than achieving that one “perfect” photo.” It’s important for people to feel as though the session was as enjoyable as possible (or, depending on personalities, involves the least amount of suffering possible). Many artists throw customer service aside as they pursue their “art.” Reality check: we may be photographers, but we are providing a service to deserving, paying clients. Take care of ‘em with love!

Find more information about Mini-Sessions and other portrait FAQ’s, click here.

 

2nd Photographers & Good-bye to Emma!

Today’s post is about the importance of having multiple photographers.

These photos are of my associate Emma, who has been shooting with me for the last year and a half.  She graduated from NAU with a degree in photography, and is moving up in the world as she starts her own business in Seattle (*tears of pride and sadness that she’s leaving!).  Over time, I’m hoping to post a small series of all the things Emma learned from RCP, in hopes it can be shared with others who want to get started building their own business.  :)

Assocaite EmmaI know it’s popular to have second and third photographers included in wedding packages (I provide at least two, sometimes three), and want to offer some tips on how to make the most of having multiple shooters onsite.

One of the reasons experienced photographers prefer to have extra shooters is for multi-angle coverage.

As much as it’s “easy” to stay in one place during the ceremony, I ask my second photographers to quietly travel about, sure to cover as many angles as possible throughout the event (from the ground upward, from a chair downward, through layers of f/stop blur, etc.  Why?  Because, as a primary photographer, it’s important for me to stay in “the safe place” – that magical spot with beautiful light, and a clear view to the couple at all times.  I don’t want to miss a special laugh, a ring exchange, or the first kiss because I was laying on the ground behind some oleander bushes.

It’s also important to have duplicate coverage of the same happenings.

Why?  Data loss.  Image blur.  Blinks.  Over-exposure.  You name is, and it’s happened to someone.  By having a second or third photographer with me, I have the guarantee of knowing everything was covered twice.  There have been times when I’ve opened up Lightroom, reviewed some of my images, and realized one of my favorite moments was captured slightly out of focus (a flower girl’s adorable sneeze, for example)…but I don’t freak out.  Why?  Because I’ve got two other shooters who (hopefully) had their eyes in the same place.  Chances are, they took a pretty darn good photo of whatever it was I missed (and visa versa).

Even during pre-ceremony events, I ask that one shooter stay with me and simply provide double coverage of what’s happening, while the other photographs event details, guests at cocktail hour, etc.  If possible, I’m sure to be everywhere, even if something has “already been covered.”  Insurance.  You know.  😉

Hey Rachel, I’m a photographer – what should I pay my second shooters?

Well, I think it depends on the photographer, their loyalty to the business, and, of course, their work.  Students who want to intern with me, for example, are paid with my permission to use the photos they take for their classes in school, their portfolio, and the development of a website (I also buy them dinner, reimburse their gas expenses, and teach them all my secrets, of course!).  To avoid conflict of interest, I simply ask that they do not use any of the photos from my weddings for advertising (theknot, wedding wire, style me pretty, etc.).

If I find a photographer I love and trust, I pay them very generously.  Why?  Because I want them to know they are appreciated for (1.) their hard work (2) their willingness to save a date that could otherwise be booked for their personal business, and (3.) their loyalty to RCP.  In today’s world, people change careers faster than ever…give your photogs a reason to stick around – share all the love you can afford!

Ashley & Charles – Favorite Engagement Photo Shoot Locations

Here is one of my favorite couples – getting hitched in Belize later this year, Ashley and Charles will totally have an album to-die-for.  I mean, they seriously look like super-models!

I absolutely love Market Street.  It’s full of all sorts of great restaurant and areas to walk around.  Just in this one shoot, we were able to capture a variety of different settings.

For both photographers and couples, here are some of my other favorite places to take engagement photos:

For more photography tips, click here.

Can’t wait for your big day, Ashley and Charles!

____

Thanks for visiting the blog at rachelcurryphotography.net!

Welcome the Spring Newborns! Newborn Photographer Recommendations in Arizona

I love babies, especially since my brother and sister-in-law just had the first baby in the family… watching my niece grow has given me a greater love for all little ones!  :)

Featured here are Nicole and Lori’s babes.  Nicole and her husband gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and the Cauthen Family (Lori and Chris) have enjoyed their little bundle of “boy,” as well.  You might have noticed that the style of these shoots is very different – when it comes to newborns, the baby is the boss!  Because I take photos according to the temperament (changes with age, sleepiness, and personality, of course) and comfort of each child, I’m always excited to see “what we’re gonna get” for every newborn shoot.

For newborn photo tips, feel free to visit this blog post by Lisa Holloway.  I can only dream of taking photos as amazing as this woman.  Most photographers who “specialize” in newborns are absolutely incredible.  Since I tend to focus on lifestyle photography (photojournalistic flare), I only offer generic newborn sessions.  For those who are able to invest in staged infant photography, here are a list of amazing artists here in Arizona:

For my all-time favorite newborn shoot, check out my visit with Britany Simon and her daughter Harlow.

For more photography tips, click here.

Thanks for sharing your families with me, Nicole and Lori – enjoy your amazing new family!

Cassie & Greg – Sun-kissed Wedding at Gainey Ranch

Congrats to Cassie and Greg – two fabulous people who tied the knot this last March on the grounds of Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale.  I wish I had gotten this blog out sooner, but my dear (!) this Spring has been busy!

One of my favorites part about this wedding was Cassie’s sister as a fully-involved coordinator.  From decorations to dresses to dances to dessert, Miss Danielle had it down pat!  I’m sure we could all use a sister like that.  😉

I hope you enjoy your first year together, and wish you all the best, Cassie and Greg!

Miss Emma – Senior Portraits with Style

This is Emma – a graduating student of Chaparral High School, and future student of ASU (Congrats!).  I love student photo shoots because they are somewhat similar to fashion and styled shoot.  With focus on fun and artistic style, it’s hard to love them!

Thanks, Emma, for the amazing photo session this Spring.  I can’t wait to see your family in a few months!

_____

Check out frequently asked questions when it comes to portraits!
See pricing information for portrait sessions here, or for mini-sessions here.

 

Adorable, adj: inspiring great affection; delightful.

I loved these two families that shared a Spring afternoon with me!  Although it’s not Spring everywhere in the US, it certainly is here in Arizona.  Thanks for the wonderful company, Tricia and Crystal – I hope to see you and your families again next year!

Check out frequently asked questions when it comes to portraits!
See pricing information for portrait sessions here, or for mini-sessions here.

Lauren & Mike – Winter Wedding in Forest Highlands

Lauren and Mike had the perfect wedding at Forest Highlands of Flagstaff, Arizona – the colors were just beautiful!  There was bright white snow on the ground and clear blue skies, which shined brightly through the glass of their indoor ceremony.  These two artistic personalities even incorporated their huskies, which were a fabulous fit for this winter wonderland wedding.  Lauren and her sisters grew up dancing, and boy did it show on the dance floors – I’ve never seen such ambitious movin’-and-groovin’!  Their enthusiasm for music and reception fun spread throughout their crowd of guests, and it seemed everyone was enjoying themselves to the fullest.  :)

Trista and her team from BTS Event Management was behind planning the get-away wedding.  We all stayed at Little America, which was conveniently located just a few miles from their wedding site.  A brunch was awaiting all guests the morning after the wedding, and it was just as elegant as their marriage celebration…plus, I never turn down free coffee!  😉

Congrats, Lauren and Mike – thanks for allowing me to be a part of your special day!

Amy & Josh – Earthy Wedding in Arizona

So, this is a love story I am especially fond of because Amy is a friend from childhood.  We met when I was 15 years old, and keep in touch a few times per year.  She’s an amazing high school teacher, has a love for literature, and cares for people with compassion and wisdom.  Pretty much, when I met Amy, I hit the friendship-jackpot.  :)

Amy and Josh met at ASU, which is why they decided to have their ceremony at the Secret Garden on campus.  I really had no idea how cool this could be; not only is the garden a pretty large ceremony space with lots of green grass, but it’s free to all alumni, which is great for brides that want to invest in other areas, such as flowers or photography.  Here is a blog about the ceremony site, and here is a virtual tour.

These two were much more concerned with sentiment and special symbols than they were with all of the trendy bells and whistles.  Here are some other adorable things that represented both their relationship and Amy’s love for literature:

  • Their i-phone photo backdrop for guests was covered with a poem about love (here are a few wedding quotes from Pinterest).
  • A sign-in book…no, really – a book.  A real book with text all over the pages.  It was fun to pick one of the hundreds of pages to write all over!
  • Their wedding rings were carried down the isle, not on a pillow, but tied to books titled The Procession and The Ring of Return.
  • Since Josh’s dad is a pastor, their first dance was to “Son of a Preacher Man.
  • Amy loves kids, so all of the kiddos in her family, along with a few of Josh’ friends kids, played a special part in the ceremony.
  • Josh and Amy are both musicians.  Because of this, they played a song for their guests during their ceremony (I know, super sweet).

During the getting ready portion of the day, there was a few ENORMOUS trees growing in the front yard of someone living across the street – this was an awesome coincidence, since it provided a setting for some of my favorite photos this year!  My other favorite photo op was at ASU – just outside the Secret Garden, I was able to use an old building for interesting pictures.  Such large (and mostly plain) architectural walls allowed for great negative space.  (If you’re a photographer wanting to know more about negative space, here is a simple post by Tara Hornor with some great examples.)

If it isn’t clear in the photos, Josh and his friends are especially funny, and kept everyone laughing during the portrait hour.  They also provided one a cornhole toss for their guests during cocktail hour, which was a big hit.  Here’s a link to a search on Esty, which has lots of examples of customized wedding cornhole boards.

Congratulations, Amy and Josh – I hope your first year of marriage is full of amazing memories!

Hugs, Rachel

 

Check out frequently asked wedding photography questions!
Interested in Collection pricing?  Click here for more information.

Elissa & Matt – Perfect Reception at Scottsdale Resort

Elissa and Matt were an awesome couple I met only a few months back.  So about their wedding…

Talk about a beautiful reception!  I was in love – floral chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, a desert bar and wedding cake… it was stunning.  The kiddos were fully equipped with glow-sticks, legos, and play make-up, which helped them have as much fun as the adult guests.

My favorite photo op?  Definitely the dances.  First dance, mother-son dance, father-daughter dance; the Scottsdale Resort provided amazing back-lighting and glass windows that reached to the roof tops.

Blessings to both of your this New Year!

___

For wedding photography questions, click here.
For more information about Arizona wedding photography with Rachel, click here.

Equipment & Preparation

organization2

So, here are all the goodies I pack in my camera back before a big shoot:

Cameras:

Lighting:

Lenses:

Smaller Items:

  • Nine 8GB memory cards (2 extra)
  • Two extra camera batteries
  • 10 double-A batteries (2 extra)

The Checklist:

  • Directions to the venue/location
  • Snacks/meal if necessary (protein bar, carrots, almonds, etc.)
  • Phone numbers of client, friend/family member, coordinator, and venue
  • Coordinator or DJ’s schedule of events
  • Photography timeline
  • The Emergency Kit (bandaids, needle/thread, scissors, bobby pins, etc.)
  • List of client preferred shots

___

Live in Arizona and need a personal Q&A session?  Get the scoop on ONE2ONE sessions here!  I love helping other photographers – let’s get together and chat about the wedding industry, organized workflow, tricks of the trade, and coffee (of course, coffee) *wink.

Visit the main website: http://rachelcurryphotography.com

The Johnson Family – Brotherly Love for a Sister

Gotta love this family!  Sara and Joseph have been with me since their engagement a few years ago.  This is my favorite thing: watching clients grow their family as the years go by.  Hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough to take these kids’ senior portraits someday!  So thankful for your four…  :)

Check out frequently asked questions when it comes to portraits!
Interested in portrait pricing?  See information for portrait sessions here, or for mini-sessions here.

Happy New Year to All!

Special Life Events of 2013:

Bob and I adopted Safina the Boxer from Boxer Luv Rescue.  She is a mushy-faced ball of snuggles, and her brother Brinkley (our Golden Retriever) loves her to pieces.

A few friends and I founded The HART House Foster Center, which serves as a safe haven for animals in transition.  We should have 501c3 status in June – yeah!

We were blessed with a new nephew and a new niece to play with.  :)

We found home a (only a few miles from our previous Arizona address), and have been settling in over the holidays.

Sending love to all!

 

Creative Project for Branding Business

This post is dedicated to the importance of keeping “business as usual” fun!  We all know branding is important – so use your brand’s logo to create innovative marketing projects.  This week, my craft extravaganza turned out so cute, I want to share it with DIY junkies!  If crafting isn’t your this, check out other photography tips here.

craft ideas, gift tags, wine

Although I created branding tags specifically for client gifts, these small paper cards can be created in all sizes, used for gift tags, or stationary inspiration.  I’ve seen bride’s and wedding planners use them to brand weddings, tying them to guest reception favors. I love logo tags because I use them to brand everything I do with Rachel Curry Photography…

Supplies include:

  • Craft Scissors
  • Colored paper (scraps are best – recycle!)
  • 1 Large sheet of card stock of any color
  • Mode-Podge or a liquid glue alternative
  • Medium sized paint brush or sponge brush
  • Large book for paper flattening (hardcover preferred)
  • Stickers of any kind
  • Standard-sized hole punch
  • Ribbon colored to match
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Pencil (optional)

Step 1.  Cut your scrap paper into strips – the more variety the better.  Make large strips, small strips, crooked strips, etc.

Step 2. Modge-Podge your scrap paper strips to your card stock in any desired pattern using your sponge brush.

craft ideas - gift tags

 

Step 3. Add any stickers (if desired).  Be sure to space them according to the size of the tag/card/stationary you prefer (remember to leave a little cutting room).  Next, apply a thin layer of Modge-Podge as a final coat over the stickers.

 

craft ideas, gift tags, wine

 

Step 4. Let the card stock dry about 98% (at this point, the card stock shouldn’t feel sticky to the touch, but may make sticky sounds when a piece of test paper is applies and removed).  Lay the card stock on a flat surface (decorative-side up), and use your book as a giant paper-weight by laying it across the card stock.  Let the project sit for at least 2 hours (this is when I do laundry…if my husband is lucky *wink).

 

paper flatten

 

Step 5. Cut out your tags and/or cards.  If straight lines are very important, use your ruler and pencil to measure and lightly draw lines before cutting (remember to draw lines across the front if stickers have been used).  I would suggest avoiding the use of a paper cutter due to the sticky effect of the Modge-Podge; this can cause problems for the blade since washing paper-cutter blades is rather difficult.

 

Step 6. Hole punch ribbon or string hole if desired, and thread ribbon through your brand new homemade project!  Who-hoo!

 

craft ideas, gift tags

___

Live in Arizona and need a personal Q&A session?  Get the scoop on ONE2ONE sessions here!  I love helping other photographers – let’s get together and chat about the wedding industry, organized workflow, tricks of the trade, and coffee (of course, coffee) *wink.

Visit the main website: http://rachelcurryphotography.com