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 thedesertbride.com, 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 :)


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How Much to Drink?

I was just chatting with one of my brides who is getting married later this year, and she expressed to me her frustration about how overwhelming the wedding planning process is.

I would have to agree with her.  I'm a pretty 'keep it simple' person myself, and can't believe the enormous amount of preparation and forethought that goes into wedding details.  How do brides do it?  I am amazed.

I found a really cool infographic today on HomeAway.com and thought I'd share it.  After all, if you're taking care of the alcohol yourself, you want to make sure you have enough to go around.

wedding alcohol calculator - infographic guide to how much beer, wine and liquor to buy for small weddings.
Travel Ideas infographic from HomeAway


Monday, May 19, 2014

Progress on the Studio


I'm a lover of old things; things cast off, abandoned.  Crumbling buildings lost to time, covered in poison ivy and Virginia creeper: the mind races, preoccupied with wild notions of what once was.  Old furniture, covered in layers of paint, its flakes revealing small kaleidoscopes of color.  I am drawn to tangible objects that fire mystery and imagination.  

Years ago, I was driving along Rt. 111 near Kennebunk and spied at the end of a driveway a pile marked 'free'.  In it was a beaten up picture frame, once gold, but a good portion of the plaster had fallen off.  I almost put it back down, thinking it was useless.  Predictably though, I started thinking of what could be. Then the thought, "why can't old things be admired too?"  

Three color changes later, that picture frame now hangs in my studio.  It is the focus of my wall art in a fiery red.  Even under casual inspection, the imperfections are clearly visible.  I love it for that.






All of the frames in this collage are used, found, and discovered by me through the years.  Through my long journey to my new home and new studio, I've collected them, knowing we were going to do something great together.  

It only took me about 15 minutes to hang the frames, with the assistance of a level, a hammer, and a few finishing nails. New prints are in order to fill in the blank spaces.  
Our new bench can be found at Target, and the rug was made here in Maine. 

*photograph by Kathleen Leggett for First Frame Studio

Thursday, March 27, 2014

...and Babies Don't Keep.

Once upon a time, I stood on the rocky shores of York, Maine and took photos of a wedding.  It was a cloudy day in Autumn, and I fell in love.  I fell in love with the stunning house that stood beside the pounding surf.  I fell in love with the bride and groom, who were absolutely adorable, and so obviously, deeply in love with each other.  I fell in love with their family; they held hands and laughed and cried.  They had lost loved ones, but they remembered.  And at the reception, I fell in love with their Red Sox/ Yankees family feud... 

Some time later, I was honored to visit the family again for another beautiful Maine wedding.  More tears, more smiles, lots of hugs, lots and lots of laughter, and of course, confetti and New York, New York.  

You can't imagine how excited I was when I found out "my" Mr. & Mrs. O. were expecting.  I actually got a little teary when I was asked to take pregnancy portraits.  



See?  They just make your heart melt.  

Of course, I have three little ones (three and HOLDING)... and I remember well how wonderful these moments are.  Life runs at a frantic pace, and it's incredibly difficult to stop and savor moments that are soon lost.  

This is why I love photography.

And also, why this poem by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton is one of my very favorites about parenting.  It's called "Song for a Fifth Child,"  and I quote excerpts of it below.

Mother, O’ Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
 
 
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
  
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

So whether you're a mother, father, grandparent, auntie, cousin, friend... whatever - spend time with your little ones. Give those babies of yours extra hugs. (And take their picture!)  They're changing and growing every day.  What they are now will soon be gone.  It will be replaced with something else wonderful, but as we all know, we can't turn back time.  

We will only have the comfort of knowing we savored what we could...
and yes, we'll have the photographs. 

So keep smiling :)  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Take a Better Selfie

I'm going to start out by saying that I HATE selfies.

Not of you, darling.  I hate selfies of me.

Of course, it makes sense; I'm the one who stays behind the camera.  Don't get me wrong; I don't have low self-esteem.  I don't think I look fat. I just would rather have a naturally-happening photo taken of me than one I posed and took myself.

That having been said, I think there are times you've just got to take a self-snapshot.  So, I'm going to share some tips with you (and some photographic examples) on how to take a flattering, non-obnoxious, outside-the-box selfie.

What got me thinking of this?  Well, I was looking at my friend Alaisha's selfie today.  (She has this irresistible spunk and unexpected gorgeousness... and she's also a successful portrait photographer!)  You know what struck me about this photo?  It's different.  It's real.  It captures HER.

Here it is:
http://www.coffeeandkidsphotography.com/
Oh my gosh.  Look at how her nose crinkles.  It's adorable.  There's so much LIFE in this picture.  xoxoxox

My first tip for taking a great selfie is to not take yourself so seriously.  You don't have to act like a moron, but lighten up a bit... and please, PLEASE... give sexy a break.  You want to think of expressions we need more in self-snapshots?  Irony.  Mystery.  Mirth.  Subtlety.  

Give me joy instead of duckface.
Show me charm instead of cleavage.

Well, you get the idea.

But from a technical aspect, what kind of things could you be doing to make a better selfie happen?

  1. Get in some great light. Seriously... phone cameras are getting better and better, but as a general rule, the lower the light, the grainier the photo is going to be.  Granted, we're not necessarily going for portrait quality, but a decent photo should have SOME detail.  Some of the most flattering light you'll find is near a window on a sunny day.  Put your face toward the light.  
  2. Position the camera lens slightly above eye level.  Notice I said SLIGHTLY.  The snapshot-from-above makes the subject look vulnerable and small.  Tiny Face With Doe Eyes may be the pose of choice when you're a freshman in high school, but we're moving past that.  
  3. Mind your background.  A cluttered background will detract from the subject: your face.
  4. To make the best expression, think of someone who makes you laugh, and remind yourself of why.  Or try imagining physical pain (fingernail being ripped off is a great one) while remaining your composure.  The slight eye squint may be all you need to take a flattering picture.  Finally, as the immensely talented Nigel Barker says, imagine chocolate melting in your mouth.  (If you love chocolate!)  Your eyes are already smiling!  
  5. Experiment, but limit yourself.  What do we mean?  Go have fun, take lots of shots.  Try new things! But limit yourself in the amount of selfies you have online at one time.  After all, a selfie is inherently, well... selfish.  If you have 200 of them on your Facebook profile, others are likely to get the impression that you're a bit self-involved.  
I would love to see what selfies you come up with after reading this article. Feel free to post links to your self-snapshots and share.

Keep smiling!
Gretchen