30 April 2011

A guest at the Royal Wedding

29 April 2011 was an amazing, yet grueling day for me. As an American living near London, it seemed only fitting to take the earliest train possible in to London to see the Royal Wedding. My husband, ever supportive, agreed to make the journey with me. So we set out on the 06:20 train from Burnham-On-Crouch, Essex to London Liverpool Street station. We jumped on the tube and headed to Green Park station. We walked and walked, only to be told at the entrance to the park that we wouldn't be able to get any further than the big screen in the park and that the area nearest the Palace was full and closed. I almost believed the guy, but my husband knows better. So we walked some more. And we ended up just to the side of Buckingham Palace. Then the wait began.

Not much happened. A few cars came and went. We listened intently to the radio as events unfolded and the description of the Alexander McQueen wedding gown was revealed. We were advised that both hats and fascinators were indeed still in style! We learned of the arrivals of Elton John, the Beckhams, dignitaries, politicians, family members, friends and royals. We got a description of Westminster Abbey and the hoards of people there. We passed the time, got an official brochure and held on to our precious spot.

The band came through, but on the other side of the roundabout, so we couldn't see much. Finally, the band came back around and everyone got in to place for the arrivals!

I switch to the longer lens! Many shots done with my camera held up to get over everyones heads!

The Bride and Groom arrived on the balcony first.

The rest of the Wedding party arrive.

The long awaited kiss!

My favorite moment, just after the kiss.

Then the WWII planes and RAF fly by.

I am both honored and pleased to have been able to attend such a momentous occasion.

23 April 2011

Wallasea Island, Essex and Vintage Spring Samples

As a photographer living in Burnham-On-Crouch, Essex, I have leaps and bounds of great locations to scout and think about. Now I'll be the first to admit, I'm no landscape photographer. This tends to be very hard to understand to my husband, who thinks any kind of photographer should be able to take great landscape photographs. The thing is, I got my degree from the Art Institute of Colorado. I studied Ansel Adams and his Zone System. I get when a landscape image is great. I don't see greatness like that in any landscape image I've ever taken. (Except maybe a couple in Santorini, Greece- and oh!- I have some nice ones from a visit to Cambridge too.) I DO however, love to work with people. Now put a living being in a landscape and I'm happy as a hamster!

Regardless of these facts, we decided to take the dogs on a little boat excursion to Wallasea Island. It was the first boat ride EVER for our 2 fearless friends, and, per usual, it was a bit of a challenge for Molson. (He's our golden retriever.) These 2 have been in cars, on planes, in parades and all sorts. They are real troupers and always up for an adventure. So we piled on the boat and went to the other side of the Crouch River. I took my Nikon D2X with my 35-80mm lens.

I don't actually think these images are  over the top thrilling, but I do love the textures! Turns out this island is mostly farm land, so there really isn't much to see. We did, however, have a wonderful walk in the sunshine and for Molson and Zuzu, that's the best!

So I thought I'd take a couple of images and show the before and after of what I can do to add a vintage touch to them. Vintage seems to be all the rage right now and I love the looks. It's not for everybody though, but I thought I'd take a stab of showing you the possibilities.

And for the finale, to keep things interesting and a little bit racy... Butterflies procreating!

Give me your thoughts on the Vintage look. Do you likey? Do you think it's a bit too trendy?

19 April 2011

Photographing Borough Market, London

This last Saturday I had the pleasure of an adventure with friends in London's Borough Market. If you're not familiar with this part of London, it's a wonderful weekend food market under the London Bridge. Now I'm going to give you the straight up truth here. One: I love food. Two: I don't always take my camera on my adventures. So this is a little out of the box for me and I mighta, woulda, coulda took more pictures than I did, but mostly I was stuffing my face! This place might not make it in to your tourist book or things to do in London list, but it should. If you love food, the hustle and bustle of a busy market and strange and wonderful things, this is the place to go. If you see me there next time, I just might have my camera around my neck again!

Winter Wedding in Somerset, Keep it Simple Album

Ah. You remember that post a while back about the winter wedding in Somerset? Well, after a couple of revisions working with the couple, the final album arrived. It's a KISS wedding book. It's simple. It's elegant. It's virgin white. It's top grade leather. And it's on it's way to the newlyweds! This is a classic, good looking, long lasting, sturdy album and one of my best sellers. Have a looky!

11 April 2011

Brides speak out on what they want from their photographer

I just read an interesting article on another blog about what brides want from their photographer. Seems today nearly 80% of (American) brides want a disc only package. This is up quite a bit from 6 years ago, when only about 20% were after the same thing. Seems the shift happened due to some frustration on the bride's part toward their experience with their photographer. Interesting concept, you might ask? I thought so. So a poll was done and this is what came up:

1. Brides were disappointed in how long it took to see their images. They were expecting to see them in days, not weeks! I'm glad to say, I've pretty much got that covered.  If you're on a social networking site, I'll give you several images straight away and usually have the rest up to your web gallery within a week!

2. Brides didn't like that the photographer presented so many images and didn't offer to help make the selections for the album. They want the expertise of the photographer to help them through the process. Oh good! I've got that covered too. Once your gallery is up, I predesign your first album draft. You then have the chance to view your images and make 2 full sets of changes which are included in your album price! I won't leave you hangin'!

3. Brides wanted to proof their album online. They've done the majority of their planning online and are surprised when they have to meet with their photographer so many times. After the wedding, things get busy, picking up where every day life had been put on hold. No worries. All album design approvals are done online with Faith Stone Photography. If you want to get together, I'm happy to, of course. But if life is just really busy for you, and the only time you have is your lunch break, then do it online!

This is all just part of the experience that I've been delivering for years. Now you know one of the differences between a full time professional and a weekend warrior. I strive to make your photography experience enjoyable and easy. So sit back, relax and enjoy your images!

28 March 2011

Some unique options available with Essex Photographer, Faith Stone Photography

As an American photographer in Essex, I understand that I'm different. As I've said in a previous blog post, I was a little uncomfortable with this at first. Not much, just a little. But after living here in the UK for over 5 years, I feel like this is home now. I feel comfortable now. I understand that it's the DIFFERENCES that work for me! So I thought I'd share a few things that I do differently when it comes to wedding photography collections. If you're looking for an Essex (and surrounding counties) wedding photographer, these options might interest you. If you're a wedding photographer, you might consider adding some of these options to your collections!

1. My collections are straight forward and I offer a contract with every wedding booked. This is important because my bride and groom know exactly what they get before they make the first payment.

2. It's easy for couples to choose me as the person who will provide them with the lasting memories of their special day. Once we've chatted about which collection will suit them best, payments can be made via cash, cheque or Paypal. My standard payment plan is in 3 installments, but other arrangements can be made, depending on how far in advance they book. Note to couples: The earlier, the better, the easier!

3. Any couple can choose to have a Gift Registry with Faith Stone Photography. They set the limit and guests can easily purchase Wedding Photography Gift Vouchers using Paypal via my secure website. This is great for established couples who want extra product credit toward their album.

4. The majority of my collections include a FREE engagement session. This is like the walk through on a bride's hair and make up. It's important to see what great results we can produce and to feel more confident on the wedding day. Many people have never or rarely been photographed by a professional. This is the time to get some great images and have some fun! I offer some great product options like Guest Books, Signature Mats, and Save the Date cards or magnets that will help the couple make their wedding unique and special.

5. My collections don't lock couples in to a specific product before I've even taken the images! This is where the Product Credit, mentioned above, comes in. I understand that it can be enough just to find the right photographer for your special day. That done, let's think about the final products once we've seen the images. Every couple's day is different and reflects their own personal style. As a specialist in Wedding Albums, I'll take the couples style in to account when recommending an album choice. A product credit is included in the collection, so the funds are already in place.

6. Which brings me to my unique line of albums on offer. Not many photographers offer the album lines that I do. I've been documenting weddings for over a decade and have tried and true suppliers. I started these vendor relationships while I lived in Colorado and wouldn't think of changing them. Luckily, they all are happy to provide their services and products to me in the UK! Lucky you. This means you're album is going to match your personal style and non of your friends will have the same book! (Well, unless you referred them to me and they chose that book. But it will still vary in style and substance, of course!) 

You can check out my collection of albums on offer here.

7. Finally, if an album is not your thing, I also offer the latest and greatest in wall art. You can choose to use your product credit toward anything you want that I offer. HURRAY! Easy peasy. You can see our latest wall art on offer here.

27 March 2011

Essex and Hertfordshire Wedding Fairs

Come and meet up with me at one of these upcoming wedding fairs!

17 April 2010
Hanbury Manor
Ware, Herts. SG12 0SD

08 May 2010
The Warren Golf Club
Woodham Walter, Maldon CM9 6RW

RSVP on my Facebook page if you like. I look forward to seeing you soon!

25 March 2011

Floating Gallery Blocks

I am VERY excited to announce a new product line available immediately! They are quite unique and you won't find them from just any photographer. You WILL find them with Faith Stone Photography! They are Floating Gallery Blocks.  A professional print is laminated and adhered to solid wood with perfect 90 degree corners. It's modern. It's dimensional. It's easy to hang. It's NOW! Take a look.

This is the Storyboard Floating Gallery Block. It is 25x22 overall with 3 6x6 floating blocks. 

This one is the Double Focus Floating Gallery Block.
It's 30x13 with 2 8x10 blocks.

If you'd like more information and pricing on this unique and fashionable wall art,
just give me a holla!

08 March 2011

An American Photographer in Essex

Being an American photographer in England isn't always easy. I get the "mick" taken out of me on a regular basis. I'm used to it now, and find most people do it in an amicable way. I've even learned to EMBRACE it. Sometimes I take a little "mick" back, in an amicable American way, of course. It's true, I probably say "awesome" a little too often. I forget that "groovy" isn't a commonly used word anymore, but I use it anyway. I once told people after the group shot at a wedding that they could "take off" for the reception, only to hear a few chuckles and gentle jousting. Hey, I'm not always the hippest person in a crowd, but once you meet me, you won't soon forget me! I figure that works to my advantage, as long as I'm behaving myself.

I just read an article by Julia Boggio in the April edition of Photo Professional magazine. Julia is an American who has been living in Britain for over a third of her life. She's got a bit of time on me for that one! I've only lived here for 5 years. She's also married to a Welshman. She's got me on that one too. I'm married to an American. An American from Michigan at that. If I really think about it, the men from Wales and those from Michigan are quite similar! Anyway, I digress, as usual. Back to the article. Julia starts the article by talking about the American work ethic and how she's worked most of her life, even while in school. She goes on to say how ingrained us Americans are about customer service. Now I've often spoke with friends from all walks of life and from different countries about customer service. It comes up most easily when customer service is lacking. But one time, this couple we were speaking to had gone on a cruise run by Americans and actually complained that the customer service was over the top- too much. I gave a big "huh" and contemplated that. Now having been in the UK for some time, I get it. When one becomes accustomed to, let's say, lesser customer service standards (whether it be Britain or anywhere else!,) one can be overwhelmed by 3 different girls in a shop asking how they can help you. This now irritates me when I go back to the States.

Here's the thing. It doesn't really matter where you're from, I'm sure you'd agree that GOOD customer service is likely to bring you back to that supplier again. EXCELLENT customer service will even get you referring that business to friends. If a business is referral based, believes in the product and/or service that they provide and enjoy what they do, awesome customer service is a no brainer. Photography is such a business. Yet occasionally I hear horror stories about what has happened to people concerning their wedding photography. One story was so sad that I offered her a free "Cherish the Dress" photo session so she could at least have some nice images. I won't say who the photographer was, but the venue she got married at still refers him. The last thing the girl said to me was that he didn't even TRY to make anything right in the end. He could have offered her the same "Cherish the Dress" session as I offered her.

There is a dream in America. It's called the American Dream. It's ingrained in us from an early age. We are taught that ANYONE can become president. (Well, anyone who is American, that is. And YES, Obama is an American, despite those who would like to believe otherwise. Last I checked, Hawaii is still a state!) It reminds us that whether we're from the Carolinas or from California, whether we're yellow or white in skin, whether we're richer or poorer, we all have the chance to become somebody. If we work hard and keep picking ourselves up when we fall, we can all become something great. I'd like to think that I've acclimated to life in Britain and I'll be down the pub with the next guy. But in my heart, I will always be an American. I own a British flag and fly it with the rest of the Brits. I also own an American flag and fly in on the 4th of July. I agree with Julia that business is business and that solid principles are the same no matter where you're from. I, for one, will keep offering my brand of American customer service. I know it works and if you want to take the "mick," go for it! I'll just smile and nod my head.

05 March 2011

A Selection of Albums on offer from Essex Photography, Faith Stone Photography

I know I  just wrote a post on an album, but I just had a consultation with a couple who were gifted a customized album to use for their wedding. Although designing story book albums is my specialty, I understand that different couples have different desired products from their wedding photography. For that matter, every client has slightly different desires on how they'd like to use their images. And I think that's great! I'm recording moments in time. That's what I do. I do this for the client. That's what they hire me to do. I don't tell people what they should or must do with their images. But evidently, some photographers do. Just sayin'.

I thought I'd take a moment, however, to show you some images of the wide variety of albums that I offer. I offer a variety, well, because there are a wide variety of people out there. Some couples are having very traditional weddings and want a more traditional looking album. Some are having a funky groovy wedding and want a funky groovy album. I want my couples to have an album that compliments their style, their vision. For the most part, a wedding day is one of the most fantastic days in a person's life. (The honeymoon can be pretty special too:) Why shouldn't they have a fantastic album to match? Whether it's one of mine or they get prints for their special album, I'm just glad when they have a keepsake to share with the people in their world. That's what it's about.

The above album is from our Cameo Art Album collection.
These albums start at £549

The above album is from our Coffee Table Story Book collection.
These books start at £399

This album is part of our Couture line.
This line starts at £549

This album is part of our KISS album line.
They are high grain leather covered and available in punchy colours.
These albums start at £499

This album is from our Leather Craftsmen line.
There are a plethora of leather colours to choose from, as well as the option of text and images
inset in the cover. They start at £599

We also offer a selection of parent albums. 'Cuz parents want memory keepsakes too!
Visit the website at Faith Stone Photography.

If you'd like to find out more about our products watch our little video.

21 February 2011

Albums with Essex Photographer, Faith Stone Photography

One of my specialties is albums. I love designing them (after all, I do have an Associate of Art degree- I guess it's good for something!) and I love working with couples to make it perfect for them. When an album is part of a package, I predesign the album. Some photographers just leave it with the couple to choose the images for their album, but I have found this to be overwhelming for the couple. In the predesign, I work up a first draft so the couple at least has a place to start. It is designed with their budget in mind (usually in the form of a Product Credit within their package) and the knowledge that I gain while attending and witnessing their event. Some photographers farm out their album designing, but I like the personalization of doing it myself. 

Louise recently looked over her 1st draft and made some very precise and wonderful changes. I'm happy to say, it's ready to view. Every couple gets 2 sets of changes after the 1st predesign. The first set of changes are typically major and the couple takes their time with this one. The 2nd set of changes is so we can tweak anything that didn't come out just right. Of course, more changes can be made, but these first 2 are included in every album ordered. It takes a little more of my time, but it's worth it to my couples. And that's what my business is all about.

Check out the latest album draft for Louise and Ben. It's gonna be a KISS album!

Fun Essex Wedding Photography!

Getting married can be an expensive undertaking, as most of you know! A great way to save some cashola is to choose a wedding date during the week. There are discounts on almost every vendor for such a choice. This isn't the perfect decision for everyone, but if you're having a little bit more intimate wedding and you know all the perfect people will be able to join your perfect day during the week, go for it!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011 was a magical day for Keisha and Shaun. They exchanged rings at Prested Hall in Colchester, Essex. It wasn't even believable what good weather we had!

Keisha found me through a site that I advertise on. I responded to her inquiry with a rough estimate and the chance to look over my website to see if she liked my style of photography. That, I believe, is a very important start! If you don't like the photography, the price is meaningless. We scheduled a consultation and found a suitable package for them.

Turns out Shaun is in the Army. This prompted me to offer some bonuses to their package as a way of saying Thank You. Thanks to all the guys who make this country a safer and nicer place to live. Whether your in the American armed forces ('cuz I'm American,) the British armed forces or any other man or women who defends their country, hat's off to you!

On to the day: I can't even describe how much I laughed at this wedding. It was clear that everyone there was there for this couple. When I checked in with Keisha before she entered the ceremony, she was relaxed and OH SO READY to become Mrs. Wildney. While waiting for her to walk down the aisle, there was laughter and good hearted jibbing with Shaun and just the sense that everyone was relaxed and ready to have a great time. I thought to myself as I laughed along, what a great day this is going to be!

And indeed it was. For this blog post, I'm going to share more UNconventional shots that I took at this wedding. This couple is young, vibrant, alive and full of fun. Their friends and family were in the same spirit, so why not go with it? I believe I captured their day, their way.

20 February 2011

Frequently Asked Wedding Photography Questions and Anwers

1. What should I look for when choosing a wedding photographer?
     There  are 4 main things you should look for:
1st- Do you like the style of the images that the photographer is
  displaying? Can you picture yourself happily in the same
  style of images? If the answers are yes, press on!
2nd- Do you like the photographer and do you think you’ll feel
comfortable with them on your wedding day? It’s 
important that your personalities are compatible so that you
feel confident and at ease with your photographer. This 
makes for relaxed and natural images. Doing an engagement
session with them before your wedding date will not only
help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera, it will
also give a preview of what’s to come. Most of my packages
come with a free engagement session.
3rd- Think of your photography as an investment, like buying a
car or an appliance. You want your wedding memories to
  suit you and your requirements. Ask yourself what you
want in the end- an album? traditional or story book style?
artwork for your walls? digital photo frame? Does the
photographer you’re considering offer the type of keepsake
that you’re looking for?
4th- Stick to the wedding photography experts. Find out how 
much experience they have and get a contract that outlines
your expectations. Photographing weddings is unlike any
other type of photography. The day moves fast and 
typically there’s a list of  “must have” shots. Lighting 
conditions vary and posing people is an art form! An 
experienced and professional wedding photographer will be
able to handle all these variables.

2. How do I tell the difference between an amateur & a professional?
One simple test is to look closely at their work. Do the poses 
look natural and fun? Do the images look properly exposed?
Do they seem to have a good grip on design principles in their
albums? Ask them if they do photography full time. Do they have
a professional looking website? Do they have references on their
site or another site? Find out if they are a member of a
professional organisation like SWPP. Do they have any special
training or a degree? Are they insured? Do they offer a contract?

3. Why is there such a wide variety of prices among wedding photographers?
The answer to this question is largely a part of question 2. 
Wedding photography is a rather specialised field. Some
photographers design albums themselves and others contract it
out. The onset of digital is a double edged sword. More people
are getting in to wedding photography, which is great because it
gives you more choices. On the other hand, many of these new 
photographers have not yet acquired the proper tools for the job. 
This means not just equipment, but training and experience. We
now do post production ourselves, rather than a lab processing
film. Post production is a whole other set of skills and can be done 
better by some than others. There is also a great deal of products
that a photographer can offer. As with anything, some of these
are much better than others. Lasting keepsakes, like a good car, 
are worth what you pay for them. If a photographer is offering
you a price that seems too  good to be true, like anything, it
 probably is! Saving money in the short term may end up costing
you more in the long run. Again, be sure you know what you are
getting before you sign the contract!

At Faith Stone Photography, we believe your images are the most important investment of your day. Our albums are guaranteed, Faith holds an AA and an AAS in photography, has over a decade of experience, is fully insured, a member of SWPP and has award winning images. I want you to find the “right fit” photographer, even if it’s not me! The best way to find out is for us to meet and chat. Visit my website and give me a call for a complimentary consultation.

Live, Love, Laugh. I’ll take care of the memories.
Faith Stone Photography
07792 670 461

27 January 2011

Psycho Dog Photography

Ok. So maybe the title is a little over the top! But seriously, these four dogs have a blast together and I couldn't even begin to keep up with their combined energy fields! Here's some favs from a walk on St. Lawrence Beach, Essex starring: Kramer, Zuzu and Molson. Florence was there too, but I didn't manage to get any images of her- she may be the runt of the litter, but she's bouncy!

I chose to run some of my new Vintage action on these. Storyboards are available as prints, acrylics or canvas art.

20 January 2011

Christmas Wedding In Somerset

Don't you know, this is a long time coming! In all fairness, the majority of the Western World seems to shut down around the holidays. So I went ahead and took some time off too. I managed not to get the sickies that were going around, as my nephew and brother came for a visit from the states. We met up with some friends in Edinburgh and had a hoot of a time at Hogmanay. The day I put my relatives back on the plane, the sickies descended upon me full force! Timing is everything...

But enough about me, let's talk about this excellent couple who waited patiently for their images!
This is Ben and Louise. Louise found me at a wedding fair when I still lived in Somerset. By the time we got the chance to chat, I was half way moved to Essex. I explained my situation and that I don't charge additional for mileage anyway, so no worries that I'll be on the other side of the country. They must of really liked my photography, 'cuz they took it all in and put a contract in the mail.

You may have seen this couples engagement images last year. We had a great time in Dunster, Somerset shooting in the gardens and at the Railway Station. Of course, Ben told me that he's not photogenic. Like I haven't heard that before! Well let me tell you something, this couple shines from the inside out. They are natural, funny and full of spirit. And that, my friend, is what makes a great image.

Before their wedding date, the sky opened up and dumped snow all over this country. Snow like the UK has never seen before. Mind you I'm in Essex now and planning my trip to Somerset to photograph the event of a lifetime for this couple. So I call Louise a couple of days before the wedding and ease any worries she may have about me making it there. Hey, I'M FROM COLORADO! Say no more...

Although some guests didn't make it to this wonderful wedding, I'm blessed to have been a part of the magical day. Louise and Ben spent hours upon hours of planning and it showed in every detail. I can only imagine what memories they'll have and what stories they'll tell of the snowy Christmas wedding that they enjoyed. Their day was unique, thanks to Mother Nature and careful planning.

Rumor has it that they're going with a "Virgin White Kiss Wedding Book." I love this book, because it is bound with a seamless spread that lays flat. The leather is sumptuous and it's a meaty book to hold. The colour choice will compliment the snowy atmosphere of their day and bring it all together. See, I'm not just a photographer, I'm a designer. I want to think of everything my decade of experience allows me to and make the perfect product for my clients. Ok, ok. I only SUGGESTED this book. Of course, Louise (and maybe Ben) have the final word!

If you'd like to see more of this album layout and details about my photographic style, please have a gander at my website at Faith Stone Photography.