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Goodbye: A Shift by +Raven

Raven was an Intern during Season Three – and happily – she just kind of hung around for the next few years. She has been instrumental in the growth of our business and the overall Intern Experience for the seasons following hers. She has also been our go-to photographer whenever we were already booked and need someone to help out with clients. Over the past few years she’s criss-crossed the country photographing weddings and helped out tremendously with the education of our Interns. 

Even with me being much more critical than needed, and often times generally difficult – she’s put up with a lot from me – and at the same time there has been no one else that I would recommend more often to clients over the past few years when Leah and I were unavailable. Raven is everything that she says she is and more than she realizes. – Mark 

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– Posted by +Raven

This, officially, is my last post with LeahAndMark.com.

It’s extremely bittersweet to be writing all this, because though I’m very sad to be leaping out of the nest, I’m SO excited to be breaking out on my own.  I’ve been a part of LeahAndMark.com since October of 2010, about 2.5 years.  WOW.  Two and a half years.

And really, I was involved even before that, because I’d applied for Seasons One & Two of the internship, too.  {Though my timing was off both times.}  And even before THAT, I was signed up for the LeahAndMark.com newsletter.

So it’s weird, saying I won’t be such a big part of it anymore. But it’s time for me to leave, to go out on my own, stand on my own two feet.

I’ve always said I was “part of the LeahAndMark.com family of photographers,” because that’s what it’s been to me. A family. And family never truly leaves you.

Having said all that, I’ll still be around the place. I’m still going to be involved in the seasons of the internship, teaching the editing class, shooting with interns {and occasionally with Mark}, and helping out wherever I can, simply because I love it.

But I’ll also be out on my own, still at YouAreRaven.com Doin’ my thang.

Thank you, Leah and Mark {man, it’s hard not to type those as a run-on} for everything. For taking me on, and helping me grow, both as a person and as a photographer. I love you guys, and I don’t plan on disappearing, so get over it. You’ll be seeing me again.

Thank you, interns, for being so awesome and eager and willing and READY.  You’re great.  Let’s go shoot something.

And thank you, dear readers.  You’re so beautiful, inside and out, and I can’t WAIT to meet you all.

Thank you all, for a wonderful and unforgettable last 2.5 years.

You.  Are.  Awesome.

Hunter & Misti’s Wedding Preview by +Raven

Well, it’s my last official wedding post for LeahAndMark.com. From now on, you’ll have to get your Raven fix from YouAreRaven.com.

But anyway, I have a ton of stuff coming up for you, including “glamoir” shoots, singer/songwriter portraits, Renaissance paintings come to life, and as always, weddings.  Weddings from all over the US, including Florida, Connecticut, New York, California, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Hunter & Misti’s wedding, however, was in GA.  It was simple, elegant, and incredibly sweet. They were married at Red Top Mountain State Park, right by the edge of the water, on a gorgeous day.
They had tons of bits they made themselves, even the cupcakes, which were made by the bride herself!

Thanks, Hunter & Misti. You guys. Are. Awesome.

The Beautiful People by +Raven

And by “The Beautiful People,” I mean you.  <3

At the very beginning of my decision to become a photographer – well, I say decision, but really, it just HAPPENED – I was timid about a lot of things.

Weddings, for example. They terrified me. After hearing countless horror stories, I had pretty much made up my mind that I would never be interested in shooting weddings. And then something changed my mind, and now I’m kind of obsessed with them.

A similar thing happened with me and boudoir. I had never been interested women’s portraits, and boudoir was scary for someone who was a bit of a prude {well, I was}. I didn’t understand it.

Now, I do. I understand how important it is to have images of yourself that you LOVE. I understand that some women don’t think of themselves as beautiful, even though they are. I understand that absolutely everyone can have a beautiful portrait taken, even if they think they’re “unphotogenic” {which is a word not found in my dictionary}.

I don’t really shoot “boudoir” in the traditional sense. I like to call what I do “Glamoir.” {Pronounced “glam-wawr,” with a bit of a purr. And yes, I’m patenting that.}

What I shoot are portraits, plain and simple. But they combine elements of boudoir and elements of modern glamour into simple images that make women feel AWESOME.

The awesome thing about the way I shoot, is that it covers pretty much any level of shyness. So if you want to stay in a regular and fully-dressed state throughout your whole session, let’s do it! And if you want to get down to your skivvies, or even less, we can do that! And if you want to run the complete gamut, we can do that, too.

My entire mission, if it could be boiled down into a sentence, is to make people FEEL GOOD. Feel good about themselves, feel good about their pictures, feel good about LIFE in general.

And glamoir, or glamour, or boudoir, or whatever, is an awesome way I’ve found to do just that.

Thank you, ladies. You. Are ALL. Awesome.

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Eileen & Alex’s Wedding Preview by +Raven

Well, I finally visited New Jersey. And it was more than a little terrifying, for this slow-moving Southern tortoise. BUT Eileen & Alex’s wedding MORE – way, way more – made up for dodging all those quick hares and their no left turns on the highways. And no convenience stores.

There’s a lot of traveling left to do this year, and I’m STOKED that this one was in the list.

Grounds for Sculpture is one of THE most amazing places I’ve ever been. And it’s right smack dab in the middle of Jersey. Who knew?! You should look it up. It’s crazytastic.

Aside from having completely breathtaking and amazing sculptures every five feet, there’s a whole aviary dedicated to peacocks, which wander the property.

When I was going through these shots, trying my best to narrow down the ones I wanted to post on the blog, I was dumbstruck – AGAIN – by the sheer amount of LOVE and JOY that exude from Eileen and Alex. In every single shot I have of them – except for the ones when I made them do “apathetic model face” – they’re GRINNING. Ear to ear. Superbly happy. I loves it.

Thank you, Eileen & Alex. You. Are. Awesome.

Gabi & Marc’s Wedding by +Raven

Gabi & Marc are kind of amazing. And I seriously mean that.

They’re two of the healthiest, most positive, and genuinely fun people I’ve ever met. Hands down. They run marathons together. They cook together. They’re raising 5 amazing and uber-talented kids. They have crazy-impressive jobs {rocket scientist and a government agent!}.

And their families are unbelievable, too.

Almost every single aspect of Gabi & Marc’s wedding was lovingly handcrafted by either themselves or a family member. Marc’s daughter made their cake & cupcakes. All of the flower arrangements, including the bouquets, centerpieces, and corsages, were made by Gabi’s sisters. Her mother rolled and styled her hair. Her sister-in-law did her make-up. Her younger brothers & friends set up the reception space. Her sister helped her dress, and Marc’s youngest son helped him get ready.

Because both Gabi & Marc have children from previous marriages, they were married by the water in Annapolis, Maryland in a ceremony that not only combined the two of them, but their children, as well. Each of them spoke to the others’ children; telling them how they weren’t coming in to replace anyone, how they promised to be good, and fair step-parents, and how they love them and were so happy they were a part of their lives.

Shoot, I’m tearing up again.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous ceremony. Then there was the unique unity ceremony: the building of a rock cairn. Gabi, Marc, and their kids took turn building a pile of smooth stones, followed by everyone in attendance adding on their rocks to the pile, as well. All symbolizing the building of a strong foundation that blends the two families.

What made the biggest impression on me is how much of the entire day reflected who they are as people. From start to finish, it all spoke of their love: for nature, for their families, for each other.

They’re such fantastic people, and I’m so thankful I got to spend the day with them.

Thanks again, Gabi & Marc. You. Are. Awesome.

It’s a Trap! by +Raven

I follow a lot of people on my various social networks. Between Facebook, Twitter, and now – gods help me, my newest addiction – Pinterest, I probably follow about 1 billion photographers. Well, maybe one million. And that’s not to mention all everyone whom THEY follow.

Basically, I’m constantly inundated in photography. Which, most of the time, is FANTASTIC. I eat, breathe, and live photography. And I’m always thinking about some facet of it.

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in photography that I don’t much like. It’s STUFF. So many people are wrapped up in the STUFF that they MISS the actual PHOTOGRAPHY. Here, let me explain: I love details. I love styling shoots. I love planning and organizing. But at the end of the day, those shoots are still about the PEOPLE IN THE PICTURES. They’re not about the trappings that people seem to be getting so wrapped up in. And it sure as HELL isn’t about the post-processing or editing.

I don’t ever want to look at my photos and think, “Hmm, look at that editing” or “Hmm, look at that STUFF.” It detracts from the feelings, the emotion, the REAL REASON WE TOOK THOSE PICTURES: you.

Yes, take pictures of the details. They need to be paid attention to and remembered. Yes, shoot the things that the clients brought. Those things are important. Yes, have styled props. Have bits and bobs. Have an entire living room suite out in a field somewhere. But USE them. Don’t let them take over the shoot.

This is Chris & Sabrina, a couple of really awesome people. Since Chris is a Jack Sparrow impersonator {which he’s amazing at} and all-around huge fan of Johnny Depp, we decided to do a fun Benny & Joon-inspired couples shoot before Sabrina left for college across the country.

It was, to say the least, A BLAST.

Chris, Sabrina, and Intern Krista: You. Are. Awesome.

Custom Cupcakes: The Sugar Dolls

La Coco Rouge by +Raven

Accessories by La Coco Rouge. Make-up by Athena Hodges.

I met Stephanie, of La Coco Rouge, almost a year ago at The Clockwork Carnival, a steampunk event put on by The Artifice Club. She was a performer with The Hot Toddies, a flaming cabaret group who were just FANTASTIC.

She and I have collaborated a couple of times for her line of accessories, and I REALLY love working with her. Shooting products isn’t like shooting anything else. The models have the task of being models, showing their best sides, giving you what you’re asking for, while still highlighting the products first and foremost. And the photographer is charged with highlighting the product in a natural way, while directing the model to look her best, also naturally.

One of the reasons that I – and the whole of the LeahAndMark.com family, really – shoot EVERYTHING, is because it’s so challenging. Every type of photography requires something different. Product photography without models is a different bird entirely from shooting with models. Shooting families is different than just shooting the kids. Shooting weddings is different than just shooting an event.

BUT EVERYTHING OVERLAPS. And everything you do at one shoot will help you TREMENDOUSLY with all of your other shoots. It’s like learning to skateboard when you’re a kid, and then picking up wakeboarding or skiing when you’re an adult. Though they’re completely different, there are enough similar pieces to make it somewhat familiar. You’re better prepared for having done different things.

And, perhaps most importantly, it allows you to think outside of the box. It’s so easy for people to pick just one thing that they do and keep doing it in that same way. Again, and again, and again. But you can’t. You can’t stop. You can’t stagnate.

It’s why companies and people who started their businesses – in photography or otherwise, heck, it happened in Mad Men – a while ago fall into the cookie-cutter of their way of doing things. They just stamp out a product with no thought. Not paying attention to what’s going on today in music. In films. In clothing. In fashion.

You have to be constantly evolving. Constantly challenging yourself.

Constantly. MOVING. You. Are. Awesome.