Monday, March 30, 2015

Senior Guys: Looking Good and Making it Look Easy

*** This advice applies to everyone, by the way, but I think it especially helps the guys.***
So, I've recently stumbled onto a fun-loving and informative video by Peter Hurley, who explains to us common folk how to look sexier, more confident, photogenic... just plain BETTER in photos. His technique is simple, but surprisingly difficult to explain. Take a peek at the video below to see what I mean.

So... 'squinching', as Mr. Hurley calls it, (or if you're Tyra Banks, it's "smizing") is a quirky little thing that the muscles in your lower eyelids to when you are naturally:
  • smiling,
  • suspicious/ skeptical,
  • in love.
Don't believe me? Think about it.  Now try out the expressions in front of a mirror and focus on how your eyes reacted.
I recently re-designed my website and was digging through this past year's files and found this photo of Jordan that I LOVED, and it HIT me that the reason was: he was doing this "squinch". Check it out.
Jordan's Senior Photo
This is Jordan. Good looking kid. Nice shot, nothing too crazy. Not really phenomenal either.
Senior photos guys
Hands down, my favorite shot of Jordan in this session. Why? It's because he's ever-so-slightly scowling at me. (He really was. I think I was teasing him at the time.)
So what can you do with this information? Well, most of us are not professional models; we find ourselves at a photo shoot, in front of a camera, and feeling painfully awkward.
My trick is to have in mind something to think about that causes your face to adopt this expression. Here are a few ideas to get you rolling: (Or make you laugh, which also works for me!)
  • Imagine your lower eyelid, and literally try to make it form a smile. Think happy thoughts.
  • Make the expression that matches this statement: "I'm really happy to see you, but my eyes are feeling quite dry."
  • Go full-out Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. "I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself."
So if you've got senior pictures coming up, or are contemplating them for next year, you still have time to practice.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Exciting New Twist on a Sand Unity Ceremony

If you're getting married, chances are you've heard of a sand ceremony, where the bride and groom pour two sands together as a symbol of being inseparable. It's a sweet tradition.

But what happens with that sand when you get home? You put it in a pretty vase, and then it just... sits there. Well, it sits there till your Labrador puppy or two-year-old bumps into it and the symbol of your unity is now embedded in your carpet for all eternity. Till it gets sucked up by your vacuum.

Last week, I was talking to a business associate of mine who described a fantastic twist on this tradition. Instead of combining sand, the bride and groom combine tiny pebbles of colored glass. After the wedding, they deliver the glass pebbles to her studio, and she fires them together in her kiln into a beautiful, functional work of art.

I became instantly smitten with this idea. Today I photographed samples of her work, and wanted to share it with you.

The glassware is available in numerous colors, styles and shapes. Contact Helen for more details at Get Fired Up, here in Sanford Maine. 

At the beginning of the ceremony: Two vessels, two colors.

During the ceremony, the grains of glass are poured together.

Once combined, they're virtually inseparable. 

Several types of containers are available for the kit - or you can use your own.

A closeup of the two colors before, and the finished piece of fused glass.
Stunningly beautiful, and surprisingly durable.  

Choose many different colors, shapes, styles.  Personalizing is also available. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brides - Be Ready... for Anything.

When you get ready for your wedding, chances are there will be a moment when everyone says, "Do you have a ____?" and nobody will have one. 

Do you know who knows with almost certain accuracy what that thing will be? 

Your photographer.

Believe me... hanging out with dozens and dozens of brides again and again before the wedding has taught us the things that bridal parties most often need but don't pack.

The top two?  Scissors and tissues.

Tissues? Really?
Yes, believe it or not, brides and bridesmaids often forget to pack tissues. There are a lot of girls walking down the aisle with toilet paper tucked away somewhere. 

We're excited to say that you can win our custom-created Bridal Emergency Kit at the Sanford/Springvale Wedding Expo on October 26, 2014. Come see us at the Town Club from 11 to 2 and enter to win.

Brides, do you want to make your own kit?  Here's a complete list of what we recommend to be in the bag.
safety pins
needle and thread
double sided tape
breath strips
earring backs
lint roller
stain remover pen
granola bars
first aid kit

tylenol or advil
water bottle
dryer sheet (gets rid of static cling)
a 1-shot bottle of whiskey or vodka (or your beverage of choice)

Voila!  A great kit that you're sure to use.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Do Brides Have All the Fun?

Let's face it.  When the day of the wedding comes, all eyes are on the lady in white.  But we can't resist the charm and charisma of the guys too.  Here are just a few of our fun moments hanging out with the guys.  After all, it's the groom's wedding too.  Right?  :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bridal Bouquets

Simple or detailed, inexpensive or elegant, we love bridal bouquets of all kinds.  What is most important is that the flowers match the feel of your day.  Here are a few of our most recent brides' bouquets.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Family Fun

I've been so happy to be busy this summer taking family sessions into my schedule.  All of these sessions have included beautiful, vivacious kiddos.  They are a fun type of challenge!

Here are a few favorites from just one of these sessions:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Books - 2014 Remix

There aren't a lot of things that are used less at a wedding than a guest book.  Not everyone signs it, and once the wedding is over, you realize that it's one of the first things to get thrown out.

The ugly truth is that guest books aren't all that great.  Guests file in and sign their name, and for most weddings, only one or two pages are used.  Of course, a great idea is the matted wedding photo, where you have your guests sign the mat with their thoughts and best wishes.

Would you like another great alternative to a guest book?  We've got one for you!

This is a wildly popular alternative to a guest book: The Irish Blessing Stone Tradition. (originally featured on, a now defunct website) It's rich in meaning, and costs next to nothing. You'll need about as many palm-sized smooth stones as you'll have guests, a white or silver waterproof paint pen, and a pretty basket.

Couples in Irish tradition married by a body of water because these places were considered sacred.  Guests of the wedding were invited to toss stones into the water along with their wishes and blessings.  Keep this sweet tradition alive by inviting each of YOUR guests to write their name and wishes on a stone, then drop it into the dish of water on the table.  After the wedding, dry the rocks and keep them in a glass vase or basket as a sentimental decoration.

What do you think?  As a Maine wedding photographer, I would love to see more meaningful guest "books".  Have any good ideas of your own?  Share them with us!  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Love Letters

I just got the most wonderful email from one of my clients and wanted to share it.

Hi Gretchen!!

I wanted to let you know I am finally sitting down to look through these pictures again to pick out my final order and I am having SUCH a good time! I will be in touch soon to let you know the ones I want, but I just had to share with you what joy your work is bringing to me! :) We just celebrated our one year anniversary and looking back at these pictures is bringing back so many memories of that special day! I am also noticing little things I didn't notice a year ago when I was looking through, and it's funny some pictures have more meaning now then they did then for some reason!
Anyway, I am sure you have a busy wedding season lined up but I just wanted to thank you again for your beautiful work!

-Randi Sanborn

Oh! One more thing! I have been telling EVERYONE about the "first look photo shoot" that we did... It was truly the most special part of our wedding day so I like to share that with others who are getting married! Feel free to pass that along if people are wondering if they should do it or not!

Friday, June 13, 2014

We're on Thumbtack!

I just recently discovered a great website called Thumbtack, where you can collect bids and get in contact with potential clients who may have particular needs and wishes.  I love this idea, so I signed up!

View First Frame Studio's Thumbtack profile!

This site apparently works for many different fields, including home improvement, tutoring, cleaning, and much more.  Looking for a vendor for your wedding?  This might be a great place to get the word out.  :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dealing with "Thriller" and Finding a Wicked Good DJ

Being a wedding photographer is great - and besides the obvious love of photographing people, I love traveling to new places in the picturesque states of Maine and New Hampshire.

Over the years, I've gotten the chance to meet some great vendors: caterers, florists, DJs, as well as reception venues.  

While I won't elaborate on experiences that have been bad, I am glad to share some of the more memorable vendors I've worked with over the years.  I have no vested interest in any of these companies, and none of them know I'll be writing about them (all the more reason to only talk about the good ones!). 

First up:  DJs.  

Let's talk about wedding music for a second.  At 80-90 percent of the weddings I attend, the crowd is fairly predictable and just a little bit reserved.  Take for instance, "Thriller" by Michael Jackson.  At the opening bars of the song, lots of guests will flood the dance floor, because it's a hit.  It's memorable, and it makes people happy...
Sometimes "Thriller" works.

Except (as everyone realizes after about 25 seconds) nobody really remembers how to dance to it.  There are rare exceptions (and we love that!), but in the vast majority of cases, people laugh and shrug their shoulders and start trickling off the dance floor until one or two people are left who valiantly make their way through it.
In other cases, the dance floor is either completely evacuated within 30 seconds, or no one gets up to dance at all.
What then?  
Since it's my job to attend your wedding with the sole purpose of watching your guests, I can tell you that a little awkwardness hangs in the air.  There are those that would dance if they could just get the right vibe, but what's playing isn't working for anyone.  So they get up to get a drink... or go to the restroom... or walk out on the deck, never to actually come back to the party.  
The thing that has always baffled me about almost every DJ I've worked with is that even if it isn't working, they usually let the song play out.  Then they'll continue with their playlist, which will sometimes feature a similar song, creating more dead time on the dance floor.  

I was in Newry, Maine at Tim and Alanna's wedding a couple of years ago, and something similar happened.  The people weren't feeling the particular up-tempo song, and they melted off the dance floor like a stink bomb had exploded.  The music continued to play...

For about 20 more seconds. Then it faded into a slow song - a classic that everyone knew and loved, and in a flash, the dance floor was packed with young and old couples, and I was working my 'tuches' off again.  It was remarkable.

Last year, I was with Charlie and Page in South Berwick at Spring Hill.  Staring at the emptying dance floor, I heard two songs cross-fade and I knew who the DJ was:  Seth McCall.  

I have to admit; Seth is a pretty reserved guy in person.  In fact, he made me a little bit nervous with his cool demeanor.  (Or maybe he was a little overwhelmed by my compliments!)  But if you're looking for a polished, professional, no-cheese DJ, I've not seen anyone better.  He doesn't come to your wedding to sit in the spotlight, or talk more than he has to.  He makes introductions and announcements like a gent and then plays great music on a great sound system with great lighting.  

If, however, you are looking for a wild DJ with a lot of out-there personality (cause they can throw great parties too - it takes all kinds!), Seth is probably not the guy you're looking for.  

Have you had a great experience with a Maine or New Hampshire DJ?  Why don't you share with us in the comments section below?  It's a tough task to find a DJ that works with your personality and style.  You could be doing an up-and-coming bride or groom a big favor.

Till next time - keep smiling :)