12 December 2010

Christmas Weddings

I've been thinking about what I'd like to say about Christmas and the thought came to me that I'd really just like to skip it. Make like everyone is too busy this time of year, no one will read this post and I won't have to be witty about a holiday that I'm not so keen on anyway. Bah humbug, right? Ok. I admit it. I'm a halloween baby, so Christmas is an after thought to me!

So then I got to wondering, what positive things can I say about this holiday that everyone seems to cherish so much? I needed to think about what Christmas means to me, 'cuz I don't have the same take as other people, I think. So what did I do? I cleaned the house. And joy of joy, my husband just picked up a mop and cleaned right along with me! "Ha" I thought. Now THAT'S what my Christmas is about.

And it really comes in all kinds of packages. This morning I was remembering some of my favorite teachers. You know the ones. The ones that made a difference. One of those for me was Mr. Hunt at Upton Junior High, St. Joseph, Michigan. He was my english teacher. I remember he hollered at me one day because I was scribbling away in a note book when I was supposed to be listening to some boring lecture on grammar. I was a bit embarrassed, not at being hollered at in front of the whole class, but for my excuse for not listening. (Actually, I've always been a good multi-tasker and in fact WAS listening!) So when Mr. Hunt asked me what was so important that I should be writing away instead of listening, I, uh, told the truth. I told him I was copying a poem I really liked from a book. He paused, probably a bit stunned, then smiled from ear to ear! "Carry on, Ms. Stone. Carry on." And so I did.

I'll never forget Mr. Hunt. He gave me a love for literature, for poetry, for language. Later, I had a lit teacher called Mr. Driscoll at Interlochen Arts Academy, Michigan, where I went to High School. I think most of the girls at school were head over heels for him. I guess I might have been a little bit too, but I found a boy that year that was my own age. That made more sense to me than some silly crush on a teacher who seemed happily married anyway. Mr. Driscoll, did, however, keep the fire in my heart for literature alive. Like Mr. Hunt, I'd like to thank them for that.

So what's all this got to do with Christmas? Well, when I think of these people who made such a difference in my life, I think of how great I've got it. I figure I got it so great because these people shared a passion with me. They shared their love of literature. And it made a difference. It made a difference to ME. It made me a better person and it made me want to do something similar for others.

Christmas is, if nothing else, a time to be grateful for loved ones- past and present- and celebrate the love we have to share. As far as photography goes, some can look at it like- UGH! I don't want to work over the holidays and the light is so, well, not there much! Personally, I choose to look at like this: Heck, I think it's a great time of year to share love. That makes it a great time of year to get married. It also means you may not need to spend so much on flowers because most venues decorate for the holidays anyway! Bonus!

So here's a couple of my favorite Christmas wedding images. I've got a great one coming up too. I'm so excited because we're going to have loads of those "bonus" decorations in Dunster Village, Somerset, UK. It's a medieval village. It's gonna be so cool. But mostly it's gonna be cool because the couple are in love. They're excited and their happy. So whether I believe in Santa or not, even if I'm not over the moon about the day itself, I do embrace the spirit. And I'm open for a Christmas wedding 2011!

06 December 2010

Essex Baby Bump Photography

This post is a long time coming and apologies to those who waited so long! See, I'm an American in England. Of course, England doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving- I mean, why would they? Although this American holiday is lost on a few Brits, I think many WOULD  like to have a similar holiday. But I digress so quickly. This is all leading up to my excuse as to why it took so long to blog this Baby Bump session. According to my excellent record keeping, I shot this the second week in October. So really, I have no excuses! There, now on to the shoot.

Cory is another American in England. Only she's now in Scotland and soon to go back to America. I met her when a coworker of my husband's brought her out to England for a week. She was young and very pretty, so naturally, I didn't really like her much at first. Hehe. Just kidding! We were at a mutual friend's house and Robert and I were outside chatting. I asked him about this girl he brought over and what was the scoop. Yeh, I know. Sounds like his mom, right? But being the perfect gentleman that he is, he voiced his opinions on the subject in a diplomatic way. I was like, whatever. YOU SHOULD MARRY HER! I mean, she wasn't going back to America to just hang out and wait. I guess he gave that advice some thought, 'cuz he married her. That was great for me, 'cuz I got a new friend with the deal. She's a great friend and I have been privileged to document many special moments in their lives. The most recent, of course, being Cory's first pregnancy. And WOW! it's a doozy. I never seen a 5'3" women with such a protrusion!

Cory, her husband Robert, Lily the Wonder Dog and little Miss Amelia are moving back to the good 'ole USA in January. They will be much missed. Here's a taste of what a Baby Bump photo session can bring. (And yes, I always get permission before sharing images.)

Faith Stone Photography can make collages like this into beautiful Essex Baby Bump wall art as framed prints, canvases or acrylics. Contact us for details.

16 November 2010

Peak at our latest Wedding Guest Book

Here's a peak at our latest guest book design, an Asuka Book, 7x7" 20 page hard covered coffee table book. It's a lovely keepsake and goes perfectly with a wedding album of the same style. These books are offered exclusively through Faith Stone Photography and are one of our many unique books on offer. We will even design them with your own images if you like! 

11 November 2010

Essex Engagement Portraits

Playing catch up here and about to show you a couple I photographed back in July 2010. Lucina found me at wedding fair and took me up on a limited time offer of a deeply discounted engagement photo session here in Burnham-On-Crouch, Essex. First we did some lovely Mother-Daughter pics, then Daniel came along and we went for a wee walk down to the waterfront and park. Burnham is a great place for location portraiture because there's such a great variety of places to choose from. This couple doesn't have a date picked yet, but I know I'd be honored should they choose me to document their wedding day!

05 November 2010

I'm so Lucky

So the light is dimming earlier and winter is upon us. I actually love fall, but I have to admit, winter is not my favorite season. I'm from Colorado and there never seems to be a lack of light there. Although I've been in England for about 5 years now, I'm still not quite adjusted to the lack of light this time of year! Sometimes I even get down right bummed and home sick. I'm very lucky, though, because I have a wonderful golden retriever named Molson (he's Canadian, therefore the name) a mixed breed dog called Zuzu (her original name was Juju, but I misunderstood the lady at the rescue centre and just decided Zuzu sounded better. She seems to be ok with it too. The dog, not the lady at the rescue centre.) and Matilda, my 17 year old cat. I have to admit, though, and not playing favorites, but Matilda is my pride and joy. (Ok, maybe I am showing a little favoritism. But she's 17. And we've been hanging out for almost 16 of those. You get it, right?)

Now when I have a couple over for a consultation or a shoot, I try to keep the dogs out of the way. As lovely as they are, not everyone is a dog person. And if they show up in black, they won't leave without some golden hair all over their clothes! Matilda, on the other hand, is, well, a cat. There's really no telling a cat what to do, so I just don't bother much. When Samantha and Andrew came by for their consultation, Matilda wandered in. I immediately lost Samantha as she oohed and aahed at Matilda and just decided to go with it. I left the room to make some tea or something, where upon Matilda decided to release a hair ball not 100 yards from the lovely couple. Oh geez. I quickly cleaned it up and tried to make light of it. It didn't seem to throw the couple off too much and they booked me. Whew.....

Here's a composite of my favorites from the engagement session.

I actually think the above would make a lovely canvas or acrylic. Beautiful wall art is one of the many options I offer a couple. Albums, however, are my specialty. This couple is getting the most unique book in these parts, a guest book with their engagement images. If you'd like to have a look at the layout of these kinds of books, go here: http://www.faithstonephotography.com/SamAndrewGuestBook2/

If you join me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Somerset-UK/Faith-Stone-Photography/62282506577?ref=ts) you'll find out about a great offer I have on right now so you can get your hands on one of these babies.

Samantha and Andrew are getting married in May 2011. I can't wait 'cuz this couple are so relaxed and easy to work with. I hope they find it dido with me. Seems so, as Samantha said they laughed all the way home after this shoot. That makes me feel awesome! If a couple goes away from an engagement session just a little more in love, just a little happier, and on top of it all, laughs on the way home, then I've done my job. The images, of course, need to look great too. That's not luck. But finding a couple like this makes me feel lucky. Lucky that I have a great feline and lucky I get to hang with great couples like this.

Friends Make Great Clients!

Wow. I recently got a little slack on keeping up with my blog. I feel like I let some people down. I mean, my last wedding was a dream job. They're friends first and became clients. It meant so much to me that they even considered me to document their wedding day. We went back and forth a bit to get the package just right, and it all worked out in the end. That's how it should be. Get the package YOU want.

Ross and Christy manage one of my favorite pubs in Watchet, Somerset. Here's the thing. There are quite a  few pubs in Watchet and it's hard to say which one is my favorite as we have friends that frequent any number of them. So I don't want to tell the world one pub is more favored over another because I really don't want to offend anyone. Pubs in Watchet, I think, are like moods. Sometimes I'm in the mood to go to the Anchor. Sometimes I'm in the mood to go to the London. But for the most part, The Star Inn was the easiest, closest to home, REALLY good ales and that warm comfy feeling one appreciates in a pub. Bonus is, Ross and Christy are great publicans! (And yes, Christy, your pepper sauce is still superior!!!)

Having said that, their wedding day did not disappoint. Ross made the cake and it was really clever. Christy's dress was amazing and her sister was THE most, so on top of it, helpful and excited person I've ever encountered at a wedding! She really made my job easy and big Kudos and thanks for that:)

The ceremony and reception were held at Raleghs Cross Inn, Exmoor, Somerset. Although I've done a wedding fair there and know the place, I'd never shot a wedding there. The team there were so great in helping me find my way around and organizing the day. Kudos to them!

Although we've relocated to Essex, I always love the opportunity to go back to Somerset to visit friends and shoot. It's outstandingly beautiful and there's never a shortage of shooting locations. This wedding, in particular, was a great event for all the reasons I stated, but also one more. This couple knows ALOT of people, as you can imagine. They kept their wedding a little more on the intimate side, though, and the reception grew in numbers. But it seemed to me that ALL the people there were genuinely happy and supportive of these two people getting hitched. It was gratifying, because I have a pretty good record of my couples still being together. I like that. It means they might have kids. It means they might call me to shoot their pregnancy, then their baby, then their family pics. But most of all, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside that THESE sort of people are the ones that choose me to shoot their wedding.  The kind of people who are genuine. The kind of people who value their bonds with others. The kind of people like Ross and Christy. Thanks guys, and hope you have a great Mexican honeymoon! Vayas Con Dios.

24 October 2010

Another lovely Leather Craftsmen Album

I've blogged a couple of times about this couple, but the thing is, I just got their final album and I gotta blog it, well, because this is a bit of a run on sentence and for sure, it's a LEATHER CRAFTSMEN! So have a look-see, 'cuz it's DA BOMB!!

If you're a Leather Craftsmen fan, this is a 9x12 Vertical, 3500 Flush Series, Split edition with standard black pages. It's Top Grain Ivory Leather with Gold, Modern Imprinting and a 2.5x3.5 Inset Cover Image.

29 September 2010

Finding the Right Wedding Photographer within your Budget

Finding the right wedding photographer for your big day is an important and lasting decision. It's an investment, much like buying a car. Here are some ways to get started.

First, you and your fiance should make a list of all the vendors you'll need for your day. You would then each rate your top 3 in order of importance. These may, and very likely will, vary. The bride may rate her dress as the utmost important and the groom may tend to rate the band much higher. It's ok! Don't worry- but remember the first rule of marriage (or is it the third?) COMPROMISE! You'll be doing a lot of this over the coming years, so let's start practicing!

Once you've got an overall budget in mind and a list of vendors in order of their importance, attach a percentage to each vendor. The list might look something like this and this is a good place to start:
(As taken from "Getting Married" by Andrea Rotondo Hospidor)

                                          Total Budget £20,000
Category                                % of Budget                   Amount
Food and Beverage                       30%                         £6,000
Attire                                             10%                         £2,000
Site Fees                                        10%                         £2,000
Photography and Video                 10%                         £2,000
Flowers and Decor                         10%                         £2,000
Music & Entertainment                   10%                        £2,000
Transportation                                 8%                          £1,600
Miscellaneous                                  5%                          £1,000
Gifts and Favors                              5%                          £1,000
Stationary                                        2%                          £400

Now you can move some things around and make adjustments. Does your Uncle have a cool car and he'll drive you for free? Then splash that money in to another category. Is your best friend a florist and wants to give you half price on your bouquet? Then pop more money on the dress. You get the idea.

Now you have a budget for your photographer. You've got a little flexibility because you decided to go with a DJ instead of a band and have a little extra room in the budget. Visit some local wedding fairs to see what the choices are and bop around on the internet. Wedding fairs are a great resource and happen primarily in the spring and the fall. You can look over many different vendors and photographers will have samples of their albums, products and price lists. You can chat one on one to see what they have to offer and ask any questions that are specific or general to your requirements. If you see a photographer that you particularly like, book a consultation to chat further about your day.

When you're looking at a photographer's work, see if they offer a variety of albums and products. Do you like the albums on offer? Do the images in the albums represent how you'd like your lasting memories? There are many different styles of photography and it's important to choose a photographer that will capture your memories in a way that pleases you.

Now the part where I remind you that investing in your wedding photography is like buying a car. Let's face it- the kind of car we drive says a lot about us. Some people live in smaller homes just so they can drive a nicer car. They'd rather get a heap of a car, then pimp it out so it's all good inside, even if the paint job screams! Some people like a mid budget car with all the add ons- nice stereo, sunroof, tinted windows. Maybe they need a car that fits all their kids, so they go for the 4 door SUV instead of the 2 door convertible. Others prefer a nicer car with just the basics. Some want quality over quantity. Some just want to look cool. The thing is, you likely have a starting budget to buy a car. You might end up with something a little over budget that doesn't have the right stereo, but you can get that stereo later. Maybe you go for something a little less than what you wanted, but you get the sunroof of your dreams! What matters is, you get some of what you want and you budget the rest for a later date.

Here's how I figure it, at the risk of being hounded by Top Gear fans!
Ford Escort- affordable, good gas mileage, small, gets you to work
Mercedes C Class- more pricey, very reliable, mid size, nice to go to France on holiday in
Porshe- pricey, affluent and says it all!

Now relate your kind of car to the type of photography you're after for your wedding. Perhaps you really just want the basics, the Ford Escort- coverage of your  ceremony, some group shots and some lovely images of you and your fiance. You can always add on the stereo later- ie- album and prints Are you budgeting for those upgrades in the long run?

Maybe you'd rather have the Mercedes. You want more coverage, an album included from the start and an engagement session to get the jist of it all before the once in a lifetime day.

Or maybe you've got the budget to do it all from the get go. "Let's invest in the Porshe, honey." Get a full days coverage, a main album, albums for the parents, an engagement session with a unique Guest Book, a videographer and 2 photographers for more angles and coverage.

Here at Faith Stone Photography, we offer Escort, Mercedes and Porshe packages. What we don't offer is used cars. Your wedding memories are considered by me to be the most precious images you will ever have and I take this very seriously. I've been in business for over a decade, have won numerous awards, am a member of SWPP, and fully insured. Once I've captured your images, I post process them, perfect them, design your album, give you a few for your Facebook profile, put them in a web gallery, process your proof book and fulfill any further orders you may have. I offer excellent customer service, as my clients testify to. The work it takes a wedding photographer to make the images that you see at the wedding fairs may take hours, days or weeks. You'll be able to tell the Escort from the Porshe in this  instance. Could your Auntie take the same pictures? Could your sister make that album?

Finally, I leave you with this thought: If you're house was on fire, what would you grab first?
You'll grab what means the most to you.
Then you'll put it all in your car....

23 September 2010

Leather Craftsmen Albums Available In Essex, UK

Comes with a lush velvet bag.
Yummy! After a bit of worry, my Leather Craftsmen album arrived for Helen and Tom. I relocated to Essex from Somerset and the album was sent to Somerset. Luckily, my ever so studious bride contacted me to see when the album would arrive. I thought it should be soon, but could still be a week away- so I checked on it. That's when I found out it was sitting in a FedEx mail room in Weston! All sorted now and just have to share!
Branded Text on the Spine, Comes in a fab box with my logo!

My favorite spread
This is the 3500 Series, 8x12 Size

These albums are guaranteed for a lifetime!

Branded text can go on the cover or the spine. Lush....

The Cover is Designer Leather, Cedar Colour

Simple, Elegant, Classic. This is currently my best selling album line. Tom and Helen just celebrated their first anniversary and it took us some time to get the layouts right, but it was all worth it! They are going to love this album and I wish I could keep it. Alas, the woes of a wedding photographer!

17 September 2010

Unique Guest Book by Essex Wedding Photographer, Faith Stone Photography

This is the engagement photo session from Louise and Ben. I have put together a unique guest book using the images and blank space or I've faded back parts of the images and backgrounds where guests can sign their best wishes. Couples love these books and it makes a wonderful companion album to their main wedding album. I mean, just think, a guest book that you'll actually want to look at time and time again. I believe that makes it pretty timeless! This is an add-on to any wedding photography package that I offer and is included in my ultimate package, called "Hearts on Fire." If you'd like more details on my guest books, pop over to the website and give me a jingle. If you'd like to view the entire guest book from this event, follow this link:

Essex Wedding Photographer Goes to Somerset

Ok. So I did, in fact, used to live in Somerset. I still have some bookings there to fulfill and I LOVE going back to Somerset. For Gill and Tom's wedding, it was an added bonus. They got married at the gorgeous Taunton Registry Office. We just bopped around the corner for some great Bride and Groom shots and, of course there are some lovely ones with the stylin' car they hired, an Austin Healey! What a beautiful day, and even though Tom doesn't like having his picture taken, he looks fab and I thank him for adhering to my ever popular "Just one more shot, just one more!" Congratulations, Gillian and Tom. I hope you had a great honeymoon in Vegas, and remember: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

24 August 2010

"Going Home" -An Essex Photographer's Blog

I'm thinking of a title for this post and this one seemed the most logical. I recently had the pleasure of doing my niece's senior pics in St. Joseph, Michigan. I lived in St. Joseph for 9 years, the rather informative ones. My dad was transfered there from a little town in Ohio called Chesterland. From living memory until the end of 4th grade, Brooklane Road was my childhood. I mostly rode things in that phase of my life. My mom set me in front of her in the saddle of our mare, Chica, before I could even walk. The next thing you know, I have a Big Wheel (oh geez, some of you are guessing my age, aren't you? Do they still make those things?) After that it was a banana bike, then a 10 speed bike. And yes, I had my own pony. But after 4th grade, we packed up the inside of our world and moved to St. Joseph, Michigan. Snowball the pony and Chica did not go. Luckily, my dog, Spanky was invited!!!

But we couldn't take Brooklane Road with us. We couldn't take the expansive woods, the creek I used to play in, the vines I used to swing on or the tree houses we used to tell secrets in. We couldn't take my best friend, Renee and we couldn't take the long driveway where we used to play Mother-May-I and Red Light, Green Light. We couldn't take the acres of neighbors yards where we played Hide and Seek. We couldn't pack my childhood....

It was a hard move for me, but eventually I settled in to St. Joseph. I made some excellent friends, one of whom I still keep in touch with. She's still my best friend. Her name is Jennifer, but please don't call her Jenny! From 8th grade on, we shared our secrets, our fears, and of course, our boyfriends (although I'm not sure "share" is really the word!) And even though I went o a different High School 3 out of 4 years, she was always there to hang out with during school breaks. She's the only one who never dropped a beat. So naturally, when I got to Michigan earlier this month, I gave Jenn a call. She doesn't live in St. Joe anymore, but I was able to hook up with her around Grand Rapids when I was on my way to Cadillac. (Probably gotta know a little about Michigan to figure this map out...) As always, she didn't drop a beat.

Before I met up with Jenn, as you can see, I spent some quality time in St. Joe at, of course, the beach! When I was a teenager, Silver Beach was THE place to hang in the summer. I am happy to report that it still is! But WOW, it's changed a bit. The older houses look more posh now and the newer houses are practically ostentatious.  I used to park my little '74 VW Super Beetle right on the beach. Those days are gone and they now charge $6.00 to park for the day! The pier to the lighthouse looks much longer, (although I'm sure it's NOT!) they've built an indoor carousal and a fountain to play in. But despite all the changes, I still felt the familiarity of the sand, the gentle lapping of the lake, the cool, fresh water and the warm Summer-In-Michigan sun.

Megan, my niece, picked some fabulous locations to do her senior pics. The first place we went to flooded me with long filed memories of Jenn and I just hanging out. In those days the little stretch of beach at the south end was like a secret, quiet paradise. In many ways, it still is. The huge boulders, rusted metal and water logged pylons made for a simple and textured background.

Later, Megan and I went down to the pier, with the muchly photographed lighthouse at it's end. Megan is a great dancer and we had done some shots at the dance studio, but I really wasn't feeling the love there. I wasn't too sure if a teenager would feel comfortable in a tutu on the pier, but Megan didn't blink an eye when I suggested it! She even put on her point shoes and gave me some seriously elegant ballet poses. As I do, I wanted to make the most of her shoot and ended 3 times with, "Just one more location, just one more." It was a day well spent, and I'm still editing the images over a week later!

So why am I settling on "Going Home" as the title of this post? I haven't called St. Joseph home in a very long time. I've lived in over a dozen places since then and if you ask me where I'm from, I'll tell you Colorado- a long way from Michigan! In the end, I decided that "home" IS really where your heart is. And your heart lies in your memories. I have some awesome memories in the cobwebs of my brain- about St. Joe, Silver Beach and Jennifer to name a few. And Megan may not live in St. Joe all her life, but I hope that her Senior Pictures will keep some of the cobwebs in her memories away in her later years. Although it's hard to imagine young, vibrant, fun Megan as she'll be at 30 or 40 years old, I'm glad I got to play a part in her future's past.

I'd love to record special memories for you too. Contact Faith Stone Photography if you'd like more information on our Senior Packages, Portrait Packages, Wedding Packages or any other project. And if you live in St. Joseph, Michigan, I can be there next summer to do some pics for you too! (I gotta free place to stay:)

Now Live, Love, Laugh. I'll take care of the memories.

20 August 2010

Essex Wedding and Portrait Photographer offers new Album Line, Hurray!

I just got my new sample albums that will make their debut, well, right here on the bloggity blog! But the real debut will come 19 September at the Rivenhall Hotel Wedding Fair in Witham, Essex. You'll want to drop by and see these wonderful new albums in person, 'cuz they are LOVELY! One of them will stay with me to show clients and one will live at Newland Hall, Roxwell, where this particular wedding took place. It's the wedding I blogged about earlier for Rachel and Neil. I don't even have a price sheet going on these puppies, but I'm working on that next. These are stand out albums from the others I offer, but of the same caliber quality and WOW factor. ASA Books are only available for production by professional photographers, as are all my albums. I know of no other photographers in the area offering these, so you know yours will be unique! They are made in Washington state, USA by a company that was founded by photographers, for photographers.

I got loads of pictures here and here's a little info. on them:
First album- Covered in a Pearly Weave fabric with a vertical, centered, light wood cameo inset. It is 12" x 12" size with matted prints.

Second album- Covered in Brushed Metallic fabric with a horizontal, centered, metal cameo inset. It is also 12" x 12" size with metallic prints.

Want to know more about ASA book? Visit their website at http://asabooks.com/Catalog/view_7