Film Photography

Kelly and Cody| Milwaukee Art Museum Wedding Photography

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Inspired by one of their favorite memories – sipping wine under the starry night sky in Napa Valley – Kelly and Cody decided to recreate the experience for guests at their Milwaukee wedding. They transformed the Milwaukee Art Museum into California Wine Country, with help from planning experts, Événement, and floral design by Impressions. The result is a modern, rustic blend we can't get enough of, and it's all featured this morning on Style Me Pretty! 

Designing a modern and organic wedding at Milwaukee Art Museum

Kelly and Cody shared some amazing memories during a visit to Napa Valley and wanted to recreate that for their guests. They chose a show-stopper of a venue in the famous Milwaukee Art Museum that gave the sense of staring up at the starry night sky sipping wine – their favorite experience together. They chose a venue that gave them that feeling of looking up at the stars at night, strung cafe lights to create some romance, and put a great glass of wine in everyone's hands. Add in top notch catering for that quintessential Napa culinary experience, and they had created something truly distinct for their favorite people.

Kelly and Cody wanted their florist, Esther Fleming, to have free reign to soften their modernist space. They shared how they loved the way the vines grew in Napa Valley and showed her some samples. She took things from there, building them a long pergola for their head table and wrapping it in greenery and vines. Kelly and Cody recreated one of their favorite experiences together for their guests, and the result is pretty incredible!

Creating a personal experience for your guests

Whatever you do, tell your story in your wedding design! Not in a literal way, using words, signs, or photos plastered around, but in an experiential way by creating an atmosphere, beloved memory, or favorite experience together to share again with your guests. 

Many thanks to the following talents:

Event planning and design: Evenenment Planning | Florist: Impressions by Esther Fleming | Venues: Villa Terrace Museum of Decorative Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum | Bride's Gown: Nouvelle Amsale | Wedding invitations: Paper Envy | Catering: Calatrava MAM

The 6 Floral Design Elements Editors Love

If you want to see your wedding featured, floral design is a key player. Blogs adore showcasing innovative floral design, but what are they really looking for? Here are the top elements that will catch an editor’s attention.

1. Use composition and structure to grab their attention

Floral design is all about shape and movement. Gone are the days of compact, rounded shapes and simple vases of flowers. Blogs and magazines want fresh ideas and are looking for florals composed in interesting shapes.

The Japanese practice of Ikebana is making a huge impression on floral design right now with shapes that showcase natural movement, growth, and organic shapes. And, conveniently enough, bouquets that are created in this style are much more photogenic and much lighter than a standard bouquet!

My favorite florists showcasing composition are the talented ladies of Studio Mondine. While I think they nail all of these floral design elements, they always catch my attention with their ikebana inspired compositions.

What to skip: designs that are compact and rounded (even if the florist adds in a few sprigs of greenery)

2. Create an interesting floral color palette

Original color palettes in floral design are a clincher in getting a feature. Though they’re classics, consider skipping the ivories and blushes in favor of something with caramel and gold tones, peachy pinks, and deeper hues, such as chocolates and deep wine tones. Alternatively, pair ivories and whites with interesting cool tones, like pale blue for a refreshing and interesting take on a pastel palette. Caramel, chocolate, wine-I mean...could it really be a bad thing?

Tip for palettes: If you’re keeping your palette classic, pair it with at least one of the other important elements like composition or texture. Otherwise, skip the ivory and blush for something more fresh and innovative.

My favorite designer for original and interesting color palette is Sinclair and Moore. Even when Steve opts for a classic ivory palette, he pairs it seamlessly with iconic shapes or interesting textures to create something publications line up to show.

3. Incorporate layers of texture into the floral design

Along with palette is texture. Texture is another massive floral trend right now-adding in dried leaves and pods, soft grasses, painterly smokebush, or leathery magnolia create a head-turning effect. If you’re opting for a simple color palette, consider adding textural interest in this way.

What to skip: I do love olive leaves and eucalyptus-I probably always will, but they’re done a lot. Try broadening your horizons and having some fun.

My favorite floral designer for textural components (and really, all of these) is Kelly Lenard. With a fine art background, she creates florals that have so much dimension that you can feel them, even in a photograph. Her work is distinctive, creative, and deeply thoughtful.

4. Make a floral statement

While simple vases of florals make sense, blogs and magazines die over floral designs that make a statement. Think of hanging installations, a statement centerpiece for a welcome table, a floral arch and aisle arrangements like you’ve never seen before, and centerpieces that create movement and conversation.

Individual elements don’t really clinch an editor’s attention. They love seeing comprehensive design throughout an entire day.

5. Give ample time for photographing your florals

The proof of your stunning floral concepts is in the photos. Make sure your photographer has ample time to photograph the design elements without being rushed. This allows us the creativity to move pieces to ideal lighting condition and photogenic settings when needed, which will be the pivotal key to an editor wanting to show off your day.

6. Avoid these 3 floral mistakes

One of the biggest pitfalls I see with floral designs is this: a bride shows them some inspiration and, though it’s not what they typically do, they promise they can deliver. They have an understanding of what the bride wants, but have never actually created anything like it. =

The problem is that they don’t deliver-they go back to their traditional shapes and compacted designs, just adding more flowers to make the bouquet bigger, but also making the bouquet really heavy to hold.

Additionally, because they don’t really understand how to achieve the voluminous bouquets, they add in “big flowers” to take up space, even if they’re dated. This is basically a death sentence to publications.

  1. Hire a florist whose body of work shows an innovative mindset and and understanding of current design ideas. Don’t hire someone who simply says they get it and can deliver but doesn't represent your vision with their body of work.

  2. Ask questions about how where they find inspiration and how they stay educated and current. When was the last time they attended a floral design workshop? Even if a shop has been in business for 30 years, if they’re constantly educating themselves and pushing to create fresh work, you’re likely in for a treat. And bonus points if you’re hiring someone who teaches floral workshops-look for workshops photographed by fine art photographers and picked up by blogs afterward. Then you know that, if florals are high on your priorities, you’re getting the most skilled of artisans.

  3. Avoid dated flowers: Flowers go in and out of style. And the out of style flowers are often less expensive and easy “fillers.” But you’ll lose your chance of publication if an editor spots lilies, carnations, standard roses (like the ones you can grab at your local grocery store) and even traditional hydrangea.

Thank you to these talents for providing the gorgeous content for this post: 

Floral design: Kelly Lenard | Styling: Lacy Geary | Venue: Foxfire Mountain House | Workshop host: Jake Anderson | Film Scans: Photovision | Film Photography: Booth Photographics

Intimate Catskills Lodge Upstate New York Elopement

The beauty of elopements is in the feel of intimacy they portray. So when shooting this elopement at the Jake Anderson Workshop at Foxfire mountain house in the Catskills, my goal was to see everything through that lens of intimacy.

Intimacy & Warmth

The styling from Lacy Geary and stunning floral works by Kelly Lenard lent themselves perfectly to this intimate approach, wrapping you with a sense of love and warmth.

Workshop: Jake Anderson | Stylist: Lacy Geary | Florist: Kelly Lenard | Silk: Frou Frou Chic | Paper Goods: Plume Calligraphy | Ring: Susie Saltzman | Film Lab: Photovision | Venue: Foxfire Mountain House

Fine Art Travel Photography | Why We Photograph While We Travel

We recently finished sharing a series of posts from our 3 week trip to Europe. I really didn't want to post the last part of our trip because I knew that meant that it was really over. I miss it and have talked non-stop about going back since we've returned. And the reality is, I know that we will! (and I hope you'll join us for a session!) 

It's not easy to take camera gear with us while we travel. In fact it's a nerve-wracking risk that could lead to loss or damage! So...why bother? Why not just enjoy the travels?

Our Why

Our cameras are our tools to reflect how we learn about our subjects, whether a bride and groom, or a new place.

We approach working with our clients by first listening, understanding, observing, and building connections with them for weeks and months before we every photograph them. It's a vital part of our creative process and helps us create original and influential work. I thrive on understanding our couples and it drives how we photograph them.

Listening and Learning

We have the same approach to our travel work! Photography has always been a tool we use to listen and learn, then express. Before we travel anywhere, we spend extensive time researching places and learning about their history, culture, and community. We strategically plan our time to immerse ourselves in these communities and natural settings to learn.

It’s likely that if you asked us about the socio-economic status of each place we visited, we could tell you the average income, cost of living, the cultural breakdown, and the neighborhood and lifestyle values. If you go back and look at our travel works with fresh eyes, you'll see that understanding in every photo.

 

Travel photography as a form of understanding culture

Each photo we take while traveling represents a reflection on something we’ve learned in this process of travel. Every single photo is crafted through the lens of an understanding and appreciation for a culture or history. Every travel piece you see has that thought process super-imposed on it.

"So these photos are not just pretty pictures. They are the lessons we’ve learned. "

They are the history we experienced. And they are a reflection of how we became stronger people, filled with more grace, more understanding, and more care for people who are different from us.

Each of these photos reminds us that God is an incomprehensibly creative God. It reminds us that, in his creativity, he created people and lands that are vastly different than I am as a celebration of that creativity. How inspiring is that?

May these photos also give you pause, bring you to admire that same creator God, and help you to see what we learned from this most recent trip.

See all our travel posts here: 



 

Paris | Fine Art Travel Photography in the City of Love

Paris is called the city of love so often and I resisted the idea that it would charm me. I felt like it was way too cliche and I just wouldn't let it happen to me!

Why Paris really is the City of Love

But it did and here's why: The Parisian way of life lulls you into a romantic dream.  But as I type this, Paris still has a piece of my heart. Not because of the romantic architecture and chic street styles. If you're not there long enough, that will likely be all you have time to remember. No, Paris stole my heart because of it's lifestyle. 

It was here in Paris, after almost a month of travel, that we finally found a routine we loved. It was in Paris that the structured French ways made us feel relaxed and at the same time free to explore this historic city. 

We stayed in a 5th floor walk up (and herein lies the case for fitting everything into a carryon. I so wish I had done this! But what a great workout!!) in the enchanting and walkable Le Marais district. As we unpacked in our tiny but beautiful artist loft, I noticed that we were above a courtyard containing 6 cafes. 'What. We're never going to sleep," I thought. 

But our first night there, we opened the windows and the soft sounds of conversation, clanking glasses, and laughter actually lulled me to sleep. I listened to Nora Jones amid the sounds of life below me and held Stephen's hand and asked him "Could life really be any better?" It seemed perfect.

Our evening aperitif routine

Throughout our trip, we hadn't quite grasped the idea that dinner was later than in America. We were always the first ones waiting for the doors to open at a restaurant and would eat alone. We knew it in our heads, but hadn't found a way to adjust. Finally, in Paris, everything clicked! We had the happiest routine of finding fresh croissant in the morning at the nearest patisserie, then setting out for a day of wandering the winding, shop-laden streets of Le Marais, St. Germaine, and Canal St. Martin, then seeing some key attractions, like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero, Tuilleries Gardens, and the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre

By the time early evening hit, our feet were so sore that we needed a break. We'd meander back to our Le Marais flat, stopping by our favorite fromagerie, patisserie, and boucherie for cheeses, meats, and some fresh bread for our snack. We'd go back, try new cheeses, do a little work, and take a nap, then change and go out again with the locals for dinner around 8-9 pm. 

One foot in the past, one foot in the modern world

It was this slow, meandering way of life, with one foot in the past and one foot in the modern world that won me over.  The lifestyle here is forward thinking and modern, but people know when to disconnect. They balance the frenzy of modern connectivity with the charms of a slower, disconnected life.

It was here in Paris that we looked up real estate costs. It was here where we re-evaluated what we truly valued enough to keep in life. (whyyyy do we Americans have SO much stuff??) and it was here where I told Stephen "we have to come back. I'll do whatever it takes to replenish our travel fund." 

A Parisian lifestyle of fewer, better things

Paris confirmed things that I already loved in life but didn't know where they fit into my culture. I love a less is more mindset. I love fewer, better things. I adore connecting with people over long, relaxed meals, and I love kindly helping people. All of these loves made perfect sense in the Parisian culture. 

While I know that no culture can really be fully assessed in a handful of days, I found myself in Paris. And that won't be the last time we're there. Paris, je'taime.

Amalfi Coast | The most beautiful (and stressful) trip

Amalfi Coast. Goodness, where should I start? This was the destination I was MOST looking forward to visiting, but I wasn't anticipating the sheer volume of tourists (you know my thing with tourist traps...) and honestly had a tough time getting over that.  Isn't that weird? But really, expectations are the enemy of travel and I hadn't let mine go. Don't be like me :)

Sorrento food tour

We drove to Sorrento, where we did the smartest thing ever and took a food tour. I'm still not over the lemon sorbet, saltimbocca, or the sweet layers of sfoliatelle. More importantly though, food tours have an amazing way of teaching you about the lifestyle and culture in a place and served as our 101 course to Life on the Amalfi Coast. 

We loved our time in Sorrento and during our stay in Nocelle, ended up changing our schedule so we could go back. It was charming and, though a bit touristy, we could easily navigate toward the more local areas.

Driving along the Amalfi Coast

From there, we drove the roads to iconic Positano. What initially reminded me of the breathtaking roads of Highway One in California, soon became a drive of panic-inducing hairpin turns on a single lane road with oncoming tour buses (don't get me started on those blasted tour buses).

As we approached Positano,  we found ourselves in a line of traffic as the Caribinieri worked to reduce the inevitable bottleneck along the winding one way drive through town. Scooters whizzed past us with abandon, waving at the Caribinieri, following an unwritten set of rules somewhere between a car and a pedestrian.

We laced our way through Positano, folding in our side view mirrors so as not to hit parked cars or tourists-really the only way vehicles can make it through the crowded streets.

Our stay in Nocelle

From Positano, we wound our way up the side of a cliff to our Bed and Breakfast in Nocelle, a teeny town just above Positano. We loved our stay there-the views were stunning, the town was quiet, and the 17 flights of stairs  to get there was a great workout! It felt like such a Mediterranean escape.

It was here, though that Stephen got sick and, as he tossed and turned with a fever and nausea, I stayed up all night researching how to drive a stick shift and how to get care in an Italian hospital. (he worked it off and was fine, thankfully!)

Path of the Gods and a beach day!

After Stephen perked up, we hiked the Path of the Gods, grabbed fresh squeezed lemonades, and hit the iconic beach for a bit. It was truly everything I had hoped for in my ideal day in Positano. As we sat at a beachside cafe after hanging out on the Spiagga Grande, I felt the relaxation sink in. 

Exploring historic Ravello and my tourist retribution

After that relaxing day, I wholeheartedly enjoyed our visit to Ravello, where we explored Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone before our client's destination anniversary session. Ravello seemed quieter and I fell in love with it's historic charms! Everywhere I looked, a patina covered every surface, lending a nostalgic feel to every turn in the path. 

After my embittered attitude toward the busloads of gawking tourists, I felt like I got my retribution in Ravello, much to my delight! As I sat in the pedestrian only town square waiting for Stephen to get something from our car, I noticed in wonder as a car zoomed through the tunnel, past the ZTL sign (uh oh...) and into the town square, where the driver stomped on his brakes upon seeing a road now filled with cafe tables, shops, signs, and pedestrians leisurely strolling. I rolled my eyes at first, but couldn't look away. I watched as the couple in the car argued over a map, gesturing wildly to each other and shaking their heads. A small crowd was starting to gather in curiosity, which seemed to stress the driver out.

Finally, the exasperated driver whipped his car into gear and began an approximately 17-point turn to get out of the crowded square. In a final act of frustration, the driver backed up forcefully...SLAMMING into the side of Villa Rufolo! With a shocked look on his face, he accelarated quickly, gunning his way back through the tunnel as a crowd of onlookers stood videoing the poor guy.

I laughed incredulously as the female passenger shielded her face with their crumpled map as they blitzed past us. I felt this teeny sense of justice at their foiled attempt to zoom thoughtlessly through the quiet town, hanging out the window snapping photos...

We explored, marveled, and made notes-to be honest, our time along the Amalfi Coast was the most beautiful but the most stressful. I created a list of tips for a trip back and would love to share those with you too! Sign up below to get our Amalfi Coast travel tips delivered to your inbox and start planning your trip.

Shelby and Tom | Artifact Events Chicago Wedding Photography

Tom had always hoped to visit Italy, where his family came from. But as a guy who pours his heart and soul into everything he does,  he knew a trip this special was one he would only take when he'd met the lady he wanted to spend his life with.

A proposal in Tuscany, Italy

So when Shelby, the kindest and most beautiful woman came into his life, he began planning for this trip. He carved a ring box (yes, carved!!), bought tickets and while on a sunset hot air balloon ride over Tuscan wine country, Tom proposed to Shelby, filled with the care and romance that's a hallmark of everything Tom does.

An architectural, garden-inspired wedding

Tom and Shelby planned for a distinctly elegant and organic wedding in the heart of their first home together, Chicago. They are an incredibly romantic pair and wanted to reflect that in their event design. The end result was like Restoration Hardware meets the gardens and if you know me, you know just how much I loved the design!

Just as he carved a ring box for his beloved fiance, Tom hand carved leather tie clips for each of his groomsmen and had his wedding date embroidered into the collar of his Enzo Custom suit. And Shelby's Lian Carlo gown is still one of my favorites from the entire year!

A wedding designed with the setting in mind

They wanted to create a garden feel in an urban environment and, after finding Artifact Events, drew inspiration from the curation of architectural and museum artifacts in their venue. Then they worked with their florist to create fern focused floral installations in front of dramatic Corinthian columns for the ceremony-when I saw the ceremony setting, I lost it-so beautiful!

 Along Shelby’s walk down the aisle to Tom, she passed her loved ones in historic church pews lined with tree stumps, lanterns, and ferns giving just the sense of intimacy and romance they envisioned.

As guests found their seats for the reception, they tucked away under cafe lights to place settings adorned with fragrant rosemary, soft florals, and lantern light (so romantic, right??) I love how they created an inviting environment for all the senses-smell, sight, sound. This is the hallmark of great design and we loved that Shelby and Tom cared about that. 

Tom and Shelby, I still look back and get misty eyed at the photos from your day. We’re honored you asked us to join you for such a beautiful day and wish you all the best in your life together.

Many thanks to the following talents:

Florist - Stems | Caterer - Jewell Events | Hair - Debra Petrielli  | Make-Up - Joanna B Artistry  | Cinematography - Old North Film  | Ceremony/Cocktail Band - Sunnyside Up  | Reception Band - Chicago Catz  | Lighting - Event Brilliance  | Late Night Food - Big Star  | Invitations/Programs/Table Numbers/Placecards - Anna Kate Design  | Signature Cocktail Signs/Other paper goods - Lauren Monaco  | Groom’s Suit - Enzo Custom  | Bride’s Gown - Lian Carlo via Ultimate Bride  | Planning and event design: Shannon Gail Weddings and Events

Rome | A City Most Ancient and Interesting

I totally assumed Rome would be an overwhelming, touristy experience and DREADED our visit there. But my darling husband wielded his expert travel knowledge, taking us directly into the quiet and beloved Trastevere neighborhood, and I quickly became spellbound by the colorful charm of Roma.

Wandering in charming Trastevere

After we enjoyed our first bowl of Cacio e Pepe together, we took to the winding alleys and narrow streets. I immediately fell in love as we wandered warm, frescoed alleys scented with ample restaurants cooking slow, simple and delicious food, covered with vines, and lined with shops. 

Our fourth wedding anniversary

It was in Rome that Stephen and I celebrated our fourth anniversary and marveled that we had been married that long and that we got to celebrate in Rome, of all places! What a dream! It was a magical way to celebrate four beautiful year together.

I have so many unconnected observations from our time in Rome that I am just going list them below. Our time in Rome was far better than I expected and I absolutely loved learning about this nuanced, historic city and the people whose daily routines carry over from ancient times.

Tips for a trip to Rome

  • Bring shoes with a sturdy sole. Of all the cobbled streets we walked that month of travel, the unevenness of Rome's cobbled streets absolutely destroyed my feet! 

  • Don’t drive in Rome. Roman drivers are like dogs: they can sense fear. A short jaunt to a local post office to send off a few dozen rolls of film on the way out of town was the thrill of a life time—and not the good kind.

  • Yeah, you should definitely see the Colosseum & Forum. In fact, just swallow your pride and take a tour for this one. Yeah it will be crowded. Yeah, you'll feel like a tourist. But the deeper insight you'll get of this massive ancient ruin is worth it.

  • Enjoy those Roman evenings! I still long for warm evening aperitifs as dusk settled in along the charming and buzzing streets. The evening is really the main event here, so learn to stretch it out a bit. If you're eating dinner before 8:30 or in bed before midnight, you're not trying hard enough!

  • Watch those ZTL signs man. You may regret it otherwise—thankfully not speaking first-hand experience here. But then again, if you take my previous advice and don’t drive in Rome, you don’t have to worry about it. 

  • Walk the Tiber River for a spell. You won't believe how still and serene it is in such a bustling city!

  • Just stop for a minute and stare at the bridges there. Holy moly, they are beautiful!

  • Don’t dress or act like a tourist. Have I said this before? Yes? Well, if you haven’t listened to me yet, now’s a good time to do so because the petty theft industry is a thriving one in Rome. But if you look around at what residents look like and act like and at least try to fit in, you’ll just LOVE your time there!

  • Watch out when wandering! Romans do not share sidewalks well and will confidently walk side-by-side without regard to bidirectional traffic.

  • I’ve heard Rome can get unbearably hot. We were there at the end of September and the weather was absolutely perfect-sunny days in the mid 70’s, long pastel sunsets, and a slower, welcoming pace after dark. Be like us-go in September.

Chelsea and Morwin | An Art Institute of Chicago Engagement Session

She's the yin to his yang. Chelsea, a vibrant stylist in New York City with a penchant for vintage fashion breezed into our initial consult wearing a fabulous fur coat and leather leggings and I knew immediately that I loved her. Morwin, a thoughtful and visionary entrepreneur followed her quietly, assessing the situation without saying much. He's a behind the scenes kind of guy, but I noticed it right away.

Opposites really do attract

As I connected with them, I loved their dynamic. Chelsea is energy, life and light. Morwin is calm and thoughtful. She pushes him outside his comfort zone and he pulls her back into hers. She makes him laugh and shake his head, he decides if 5 seconds is enough time to make it through a crosswalk.

The creative process for a meaningful engagement session

I loved collaborating with Chelsea to bring their session to life. With her background, she was able to clearly describe their relationship in a way that immediately gave me loads of ideas. We worked together to create an inspiration board that depicted a mood, style, and sense of place that best commemorated their dynamic. 

One of the things that gives me profound joy is listening to a couple to understand the core of who they are, processing that in a visual way, like a moodboard, and applying that to bring something to life that they will treasure in the future years. This is a key part of my creative process and Chelsea got that so clearly. 

Chelsea and Morwin, thanks so much for choosing us-we can't wait for your wedding with Cherry Blossom Events this summer. It's going to be a blast!

Sleigh Ride in a Northwoods Winter Wonderland

I think that if you follow us on instagram or facebook, you're WELL aware of the fact that Stephen and I don't enjoy winter. I'll sit in my warm house (thank you Jesus for our cozy home!), grumping about the short, gray days, raise a fist at the falling snow, and wish for warmth and sunshine for probably half the year. It's a miserable way to live, really.

The time I actually enjoy winter

There is a loophole though. Leading up to Christmas, we relish the excitement of snow, the coziness that comes with candlelight, glittering ornaments, and chilly evenings, and actually want to do things to commemorate the nostalgia of a wintry holiday season.

A sleighride that almost convinced me that winter is okay

This year, my dad arranged a sleigh ride in the northwoods of Minnesota. It was bitterly cold, which I initially grumped about (surprise surprise!), but I noticed that, being in the winter and not just begrudgingly spectating from a warm window gave me a shift in perspective. As we listening to the calming stillness of a snow-covered forest, jingle bells ringing as the horses trotted, and laughter as we talked together, I had a little inkling of "like" for winter. The cold melted into cozy conversation and the falling snow quieted our spirits to a sense of hushed anticipation.

I don't know how to channel this feeling beyond the holidays and welcome any suggestions. How do you get out and enjoy the cold winters? 

Thank you, Photovision for the lovely scans!