This next photo session was what all family sessions dream of being! Nestled in the beautiful greenery of the Berkshires, I met with Avery and her family at renovated Berkshire Playhouse (which is the most gorgeous home I've ever been in) while they were staying there on vacation. My favorite part was watching Avery's kids warm up in front of the camera; I had such a fun time catching them grinning in each one of their family members' arms! Their family was so sweet and friendly, and I am so excited to share my favorite moments from their day with you.
A few weekends ago, I traveled down to the DC area to photograph some amazing families I had worked with when I lived there in 2013. It's such a joy to see how much they've grown, and such an honor to continue being their photographer (even though I live in New England now!). Here are a some of my favorites from the time I spent with Lily, Juliet, and their super sweet mom, Emily.
A few weeks ago, I met up with Krista and Alex up at the Everett Mansion in the (now blooming) Bennington, Vermont! Not only is the Everett Mansion BEAUTIFUL, the surrounding mountains and forest are just as stunning! We went all over the grounds and up towards ancient fountains behind the mansion, taking in all the greenery and enjoying the nice weather. Krista and Alex have the kind of chemistry that make photographing them seamless, and I still am gushing over their finished gallery. Not only do they create music together (check out their band here: Woven Collective) they also make WONDERFUL juice (check it out here: Humble Bee Juice)! Here are my favorites from the day! Cheers!
Hello, friends! We have had a lot of snowy weather lately, and I was fortunate to have my cousins visit today. Isn't it the best being around people you miss? Life lately has been busy with a lot of freelance work, both with hand lettering and photography, so today was exactly what I needed! We ended the day with some Zootopia and a roaring fire (thanks, Amy!). Hope your weekend is going great! xx A
Jenna and Myrtle are best buddies!
The littlest Kuhlman
I love pine trees any time of the year!
My cousin Joshie is always on an adventure.
We had fun trying to guess animal tracks --- our forest was full of them!
Hi all! I hope you are having a spectacular week!
One of the many awesome things about working in New England is the supportive and helpful wedding vendor community that exists here! When I was creating this blog, one of the things I wanted to write about was the other fantastic professionals that I have met and worked with! So, I am kicking off this Friday with our first guest spotlight! I hope this gives readers inspiration as well as a unique peek behind the scenes!
Our guest today is a professional I met through a networking meetup last year. Since then, we've collaborated on projects together and I've gotten to see how talented she is! Without further ado, I want to introduce my colleague and good friend, Pamela D. Contreras, Owner and Lead Makeup Artist of KiSSandMaKeUp!
Tell us about yourself! Who are you, what do you do, and how did you get started?
My name is Pamela D. Contreras and I am the Owner and Lead Makeup Artist at KiSSandMaKeUp. We specialize in on location and in studios beauty for weddings and special events. Our award winning team of makeup artists and hairstylists are the experts in creating the look you envision for your event. We also do in house and on location one on one private makeup lessons, group workshops and Spa parties. We take beauty seriously, and are currently working on giving you some great beauty maintenance services.
(Here's her official bio, too!)
Pamela has always had a passion for art. She has been coloring, drawing, and painting since before she could walk. Today she loves to paint and draw and express her creativity. While putting herself through college she worked at a makeup counter. It was there she developed a passion for makeup as well as people. With no formal training, Pamela perfected her talent as the years passed. She educates herself on the current trends and what's hot in makeup. She attends national events, learning new skills and techniques to deliver to her clients. She also invests in only the best products for her kit, so that her clients will look their best. Pamela is a Navy veteran and proudly served her country for over 5 years. Being in the military made her very organized and disciplined, and attentive to timing. All good characteristics for running her makeup business. She respects your time and your budget and is willing to work with you to make your makeup application a positive, exciting experience!
What is your favorite part about your craft/business/work?
My favorite part about being a makeup artist is taking part in one of the most important days in a woman's life. We love hearing their love story at the trial, and seeing everything unfold come wedding day. Knowing that I was able to make a bride feel and look their best on their wedding day is so rewarding!
What has been a challenge and how did you overcome it?
I faced one of my biggest challenges at the beginning of this year. Growing pains! While it is a positive problem to have, it was still a risk I was taking. I had to make the decision to be a solopreneur, or build a team to help me carry out my vision. I was to the point I was turning down business because I was only one person. I was afraid to grow a team because I was very cautious about trusting other professionals with this brand I build from the ground up. All it takes is one bad apple to destroy what I've worked so hard for. At the end of the day I thought of my clients and what they want. We are in demand so it was my job to deliver them only the best. I hand picked my team, and they have made me so proud! We've added four hairstylists and seven makeup artists to the team. We are opening a second location in 2017 to accommodate the growth and also be able to offer additional services. So happy I trusted my intuition and only wish I grew a team sooner!
What advice would you give to a small business owner just starting out in the wedding industry?
Network! Network = Net worth. Get to know other professionals in your industry. Collaborate, create together, share experiences and refer your favorite professionals. It all comes back to you full circle. It's also rewarding when your client goes with a vendor you recommended. Not only because you know they will get top notch service, but also because you know you will work well and be in sync with that vendor.
Baby steps for growth. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Sure everyone wants the biggest, brightest shiniest pretty things for their business. But with that comes more overhead, more expenses and more pressure. For the first five years of my business, I was traveling to my clients. The money that could have been spent on rent for a studio I invested into my brand in other ways. I preferred to grow my clientele first. Marketing was key, as well as giving my clients an exceptional experience so they'd use me again as well as refer me to others.
What advice would you give to engaged couples who are planning for their big day?
Enjoy every moment. Don't get stressed. Leading up to the day and all the experiences of planning a wedding are just as important as the wedding day. Embrace it and enjoy this special time in you and your fiance's love story.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
We will be opening our second location in 2017. Please follow our social media where you can be updated with more details!
Instagram handle: @kissandmakeupct
Thanks for an awesome insight into your journey and business, Pam! And happy Friday to everyone!
If you are a wedding professional and are interested in being featured, please contact me at email@example.com!
Hi all! Wow it has been a long time. Since the last post, a lot has been going on in my neck of the woods, including a new online print shop debuting tomorrow (yes, wedding crafts turned art shop!) I will for sure announce when it's live in case you are in the market for some decor. :)
So here we are --- almost 5 months since our "big day" and I finally have collected my thoughts for a (not so short) blog post about the wedding planning process! I also am calling this Part I because I know there will be more things popping out of my brain. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy!
I. We didn't spend the night before our wedding apart, and I am so happy about this decision: The day before the wedding, we just decided to book an extra night in the hotel and stay together, and this is what I found out: it was perfect. Instead of being away from each other (we have been living together for a long time, so we were used to sleeping in the same bed), it was normal, comfortable, and stress free. With all the excitement and commotion of the impending day, it was nice to have some semblance of routine together. We are both social people, but having some quiet alone time let us prepare for the next day without feeling overwhelmed. We also got to talk about how wonderful the rehearsal dinner was, how we were so excited to see everyone again, and all the things we were looking forward to the next day -- this not only allowed us to have more time together that weekend, it also gave us time to reflect and process together what was happening. Not traditional at all, but totally worth it if you ask me!
2. We included our pups and made plans early: Our two dogs Frodo and Roni are our children, and we couldn't imagine having our day without them. Along the way, it got a bit tricky as the church would not allow pets to be a part of the ceremony and the reception only allowed service dogs. What we did very early on, was make sure a friend of the family (thanks, Madeline!) could watch them the day-of and bring them to the photos post-ceremony. It was such a great moment watching them run up to us and stand in all the group photos!
3. I planned a 'craft day' extravaganza and it helped SO MUCH!: Since day one of being engaged, so many of my friends and family showed support and asked "how can I help"? If you have started the process of planning, it can be overwhelming even to delegate what needs to be done or how exactly you can receive help. When I really thought about it, the thing that made the most sense were things that took the most time, and the intricate decorations I had Pinned and planned for were starting to make me a bit anxious. So, I planned a day for my local friends to come over for snacks, drinks, and crafting! Not only did it help tremendously with my planning and work, it also was an awesome way to casually hang out with my friends without the stress and rush. I love that day and will remember it fondly!
4. Write down what you won't remember: Our dear friend Kathleen actually was the one who suggested doing this! Since the day goes by so quickly, it's almost hard to keep up with what's happening in the moment, let alone years down the line. My husband and I spent some time the day after writing down our thoughts, feelings, and memories from the day before. For example, I wrote about what the bridesmaids and I chatted about the morning of and what music we listened to! I love remembering little things like that, and now I have them recorded forever. Our plan is to bring out our notes on each anniversary to remember the day. :)
5. If it's not your jam, don't feel obligated: There are soooooo many things you can buy/rent/make/etc. for your wedding (look at the bazillion pins on Pinterest!). In the beginning, I was living the "treat yo' self" mantra pretty hard, but after I started planning, the expenses started eating away at my (very unhappy) bank account. Things like personalized 'thank you' cards and those super cute chalkboard signs (I wanted them all) were so tempting, but every little thing added up to a major expense or time commitment. Even the Pinterest boards filled with "cost-cutting" ideas did cost something - my time! I knew if I kept going at that rate, I'd be stressed out, overworked, and without much of a savings account left. Instead, I took a step back, wrote the top decorations and crafts I wanted, and let the other stuff go. Instead of feeling obligated to have every customized detail or paper flower, I put my $ and energy into the things I really wanted. Not only was I a lot happier both financially and stress-wise, I also was able to spend more time relaxing and giving myself enough TLC. That's totally worth it in my book!
Thanks for reading and happy planning!
Happy Wednesday, everyone! I wanted to share a few photos from a shoot I did this past fall --- I used to do in-house photography when I worked at UConn, and this was from one of the last shoots I did there. In the midst of the move, I totally forgot to post and share these. Lauren Biernacki is such a friendly and hard-working student, and I miss getting to see her! Thanks for this awesome session, Lauren! The day could not have been more beautiful!
Oh. My. Gosh.
One of my favorite things about my job is getting to photograph adorable, happy babies! Angela and Maurice's little ones are sooooooooo cute, and a few weeks ago we had such a ball playing in the leaves and taking family photos. Colton loved trying to eat rocks, and Amelia could not stop staring at the camera. :) I first met Angela and Maurice when I shot their wedding a few years ago and I am so thrilled we continue to work together. Thanks for an awesome day!
Hi friends! I have been meaning to post more about my own wedding planning experience on the blog, and photography seemed to be the best place to start. :)
"How does a wedding photographer pick THEIR wedding photographer?", was the #1 question I got when I announced my engagement last September! Here are some tips I have for brides who are currently planning for their big day.
Although you would think this would be the toughest detail to decide, it actually was the simplest. Why? Because there are very specific things I looked for and considered from the get go. Here are the top eight things I recommend focusing on when choosing a photographer for your big day:
1. They have a contract that's legit - When it comes time to "officially" book with someone, make sure they present a contract that has been looked over by a a lawyer or someone else with that knowledge specialty. Having it in writing will deliver peace of mind to both parties and insure both have a great experience working together. (Note* handshakes and verbal agreements don't count!)
2. They have more than three-four photos on their website - The way a photographer brands and markets himself/herself is through the work they show. Of course, they aren't going to show you thousands of sample images on their front page, but you want to make sure they do have the right style and experience you are looking for. If they only have three-four photos on their site, you aren't getting the full identity of their work. Someone who has the right amount of experience will have the photos to go along with it.
3. They have wedding photography experience - Now, before I say anything, I am not at all implying that photographers specializing in family/newborn/corporate, etc. photography are less skilled than wedding photographers - I totally respect that area of photography and still marvel at the expertise required to do it. HOWEVER, I am saying that wedding photography challenges a photographer in a variety of ways that are different than other types of photography. For example, not only can it be fast-paced and high-pressure, it also is physically demanding and requires both mental and physical stamina. Whenever I got to a wedding, I always pack almonds or an energy bar because I'm going to have a 30 lb bag of equipment on my back for most of the day. I also make sure I get a lot of rest the night before, because I know I need to be alert and focused in order to think quickly on my feet; not everything goes as planned, and problem-solving is a huge part of the job. In sum it's just a different ballgame than other types of photography, and you are going to want to choose someone who is familiar and prepared for it.
3. They ask to meet with you (or phone/Skype with you) beforehand and have an obvious interest to get to know you - Wedding photography is more than a show-up-and-shoot kind of deal. A photographer should want to get to know your personality, your fiancé's personality, your chemistry together, your comfort levels, your stories, etc. This was a huge deal in choosing our photographer. We wanted someone who felt more like a friend rather than a stranger, especially since the photographer is with you practically the whole day. They also are the ones who are telling your story through images, and the relationship (between photographer and couple) will also play a significant role in the way your photos will turn out. No couple is exactly the same. For example, I've had couples who liked PDA and couples who didn't, couples who were great at naturally posing and couples who needed very specific instruction, couples who had very specific photo requests and couples who didn't at all; you never meet the same couple twice, and it's sooooo important to KNOW them before you show up at their wedding.
4. Your personalities work well together - As a continuation of #3, you want to make sure that you personalities are compatible. Once you've chatted and met up with your photographer, make sure you pay attention to the "vibe" you get. Did it seem like they were on the same page as you during the conversation? Do they have a flexible and helpful personality? Did it seem easy to have a conversation about your photography goals? Did they try to persuade you to make any decisions? Long story short, you don't want to end up with someone you feel uncomfortable or awkward with, even if they have photos you like. Go with your gut (as my mom always told me). If your personalities don't "mesh", it's OK! Don't feel obligated or pushed to sign a contract on the spot; it's a huge investment and should be thought through. Be open to meeting with a few more photographers and then weigh your options.
5. They are willing to show you an entire wedding album - Like most things, people have differing opinions on this one. Some feel that it is overkill for a photographer to show you a full one, but my opinion is that you are investing a great deal of money into your photos, and you should be confident in what the end result will be. Would you purchase a movie before seeing a trailer? Would you purchase a car without looking it over? Most modern photographers use a platform like pixieset.com or zenfolio.com --- ask them if you can preview a full album.
6. They follow-up with you and are organized with details - There are a lot of checkboxes to clear even after you choose a photographer. Does the church/venue have specific guidelines for where a photographer can stand? Does the venue require liability insurance? What happens if it rains? How much time do they typically need to finish family/bridal party portraits AND bridal portraits? Is the address to the venue location tricky to find in Google Maps? Although these seem like small details, they can be HUGE if there isn't follow-through. Make sure you find someone who not only follows-up on the details, but also shows they are organized and remembers them. You don't want to be stressing the day-of whether or not your photographer has the right time, address, etc.!
7. Their prices are competitive with other photographers in your area - I'm definitely not suggesting that you find the most expensive photographer and hire them straight-away; they definitely need to show you their work and experience before you ever sign with them. However, I would strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with the median price of photography in your area (I say this because pricing does differ depending on the region you live in) and be wary of those who advertise their services for "all-inclusive $400". Why? It's shady. If you offered the same product as everyone else, why would you reduce your price $2000? You get what you pay for, and photography is no exception. Again, expensive doesn't always mean great, but like all things, be cautious in your decision-making, especially with such an important one.
8. They don't complain about their past clients (or vendors) - As someone who has had a ton of sit-down meetings with clients in a Starbucks or Dunkin', it's easy to forget formalities, especially if you are trying to be open, candid, and approachable. BUT, the one thing that should NEVER happen is a vendor putting down their past clients or other vendors they've worked with. Not only is it in bad taste, it also signals to you that someday YOU could be the couple they are complaining about. It also is just plain unprofessional and a red flag that he/she may be difficult to work with. This person is there to create a beautiful, visual story out of your day. Choose someone who is positive and ready for the challenge.
Whew! That was a lot, but I hope it helps! If you're planning your wedding right now, I wish you nothing but the best and encourage you to keep asking questions! I am happy to respond if you do. :) firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi friends! Happy Sunday!
I am so excited to announce that Allison Hopkins Photography is now a part of the Berkshire Wedding Collective!
Along with several other talented wedding professionals in the Berkshire region, we work with engaged couples and all of their wedding day needs. We also get together periodically to talk shop and engage in professional development. I am thrilled to be a part of such a fantastic group and look forward to working with future brides and grooms getting married in the mountains! To visit our official page with the collective, click here.
Some of our featured work!
Thank you to all of my wonderful clients for supporting me since 2010! I couldn't have done this without you. :)
Hi friends! This past weekend seemed to blow by so quickly! Sometimes I am convinced that weekend time moves 3x faster (or more) than week day time. On Saturday, I drove down to East Hartford for the University of Connecticut's Homecoming football game to photograph the UConn Marching Band. The coolest part about working with this group, is the abundance of new things to capture every. single. time. Also, there's something about hearing a drumline warm up that is irreplaceable; it still gives me the chills whenever I hear it!
It's been quite a long time since I last had time to tend this blog, but that definitely is about to change!
This summer has been a whirlwind of newness! Joe and I got married (yay!), I accepted a new job in BEA-UTIFUL Vermont (which, I already love!!!), we left our Connecticut apartment and moved to The Berkshires (right in time for prime leaf peeping season... yes, it's as magical as it sounds), and I officially accepted a spot with the Berkshire Wedding Collective (think about a dream team of wedding professionals representing all of the Berkshires!).
Whew! What a ride.
I am so thankful for the amazing opportunities that have happened over the last six months, both good and challenging, and I know that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. :)
I have a lot of exciting new things to share in regard to photos, and I am so excited to be back in the saddle! Here's some of the photos I took right after we moved into our new home:
Follow me @ahopkins.photo on Instagram to follow my photo adventures. :)
We had the pleasure of meeting Karen last weekend for photos to celebrate her master's graduation from American University! Idyllic and newly green, the campus was buzzing with commencement excitement as students and families flooded the grounds. Karen looked fabulous her blue, floral dress (and of course her snazzy commencement robes) as we walked around snapping photos. Surrounded by family, it was a pleasure capturing her celebration in the beautiful DC Spring.
Congratulations, Karen and best wishes in the upcoming months!
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of taking photographs at a beautiful bridal shower in Glastonbury, Connecticut to honor Colleen Nightingale.
At the beautiful 2 Hopewell American Bistro and Bar, the venue could not have been more perfect. The interior, decorated in vibrant colors and beautiful accents, truly made the space celebratory and intimate.
// floral crown for a lovely bride //
// set sail //
// that cake though //
// it's all about the details //
// selfie station is a must //
// love the gold //
// quintessential new england //
To book a photography session like Colleen's shower, contact us here! We would love to hear from you.
Vendors for this session:
Floral Crown: Stylish Blooms
Centerpieces/styling/design/rentals: Nightingale Events
Cakes: A Little Imagination Cakes
Calligraphy: Grace and Lace Designs
Cupcakes: Lindsay J
Henna: Jamilah Henna Creations
Hair: Hair by Amber Gaudreau
Fall continues with this beautiful family! We had fun running, jumping, and playing in the leaves a few weeks ago. One thing I've learned about kids?
1. They get really excited to tell you what they've eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
2. They like being able to hug. Especially legs.
If you like what you see and would like to set up a session, please e-mail Allison at email@example.com
Oh what a beautiful day it was.
The leaves had just begun turning, the weather was crisp, and the two little ones, Alina and Olivia, were as cute as could be. We started on the cobblestone streets of Old Town, Alexandria and ended up in Founder's Park. The Kennedy family was a pleasure to work with and I hope you enjoy their previews.
If you are interested in a session like the Kennedy Family's, please e-mail Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org
About a year ago, I met the sweetest little sisters named Lily and Juliet. One year later, we met again to do their second shoot in Brambleton, VA. Lily loves to twirl, jump "way up high", and show off her barbies. Juliet follows her sister in a curious little way; she is quiet, but she is determined. Both define what it is to live simply and sweetly.
Fall is my favorite time for photos. The colors are rich, the sweaters are out, and everything seems a bit more magical. A few weeks ago, I got to spend a sunny, Sunday morning with my little friend, Taylor. Here is a peek at our session:
If you are interested in a session like Taylor's, please e-mail me at email@example.com
Cat and Melissa got married on a sunny, summer day on Labor Day Weekend. As their photographer, it was impossible not to smile while taking their photos; their happiness is infectious and anyone who knows them will tell you the same.
These two are what most couples strive for; being in love with your best friend. Here are some of my favorites from the day, more to come!
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes....