Winter Wonderland

On our Christmas journies we photographed the Paschke family. It was a true Norman Rockwell experience. Pictures in front of a beautiful tree, in a beautiful home, in a beautiful small town, with beautiful snow falling outside.

Then John took the family outside to build a snowman and play in the snow. I love the family dynamics in these pictures and think they belong in a outerwear catalogue!

Paschke's, thank you so much for inviting us into your home...here are our favorites from your session!

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Happy Holidays!
Freshly Picked

I have had the pleasure of meeting Ashley Fox this year. She is a fabulous floral designer and an even more fabulous person! The thing that has struck me over the time I have known her is her dedication to customer service.

Case in point, I was photographing a bouquet for her when she told me that the bride had loved these specific pods, but they would be out of season for her fall wedding. So unknown to the bride, Ashley bought a bunch of the pods months early and saved them for her bouquet. Now THAT is service!

Here is my interview of Ashley Fox Designs...

How would you describe yourself as a florist?

I am fun, resourceful, creative to a passion/illness, and I am highly dedicated to the customer. Floral Design, my art of choice.

You are really into fashion, how does that affect your floral designs?

Textures, colors and lines really inspire me. It doesn’t even have to be a wedding gown; it can be any cool dress I see in fashion magazine. If I see a photo that inspires me I will tear out the page and put it into my upright file titled “Inspiration” located on top of my desk to keep it on my mind. I use these images occasionally after I meet with a bride and something she said triggered my memory of one of those inspirational photos. I use this photo in our future conversations to help visualize ideas.

The line or texture of a bride’s dress informs me so much about the final design that I will create for her. The bride’s sense of style really comes through when I see the dress. Its all about the dress...

Where do you see floral trends going in weddings and events?

I wish brides wouldn’t be afraid to try a bigger bouquet with more space in between the flowers and greens. The trend has been tight bouquets with many, many flowers packed together. I am not talking about bigger as in a huge cascade of flowers, but more of a “just picked in the garden” sort of feel. I love romantic look of English roses, with jasmine vine. Of course, not all brides' styles lend themselves to a more open arrangement, but I think this idea is great because you don’t need so many flowers in a more open arrangement as you would in a compact one. Depending on flower choices you can end up with a less expensive bouquet!

Also, a fashion trend I would love to see come back…

I like the 1950’s look women are embracing lately. I would really like to see ladies wearing elegant and delicate vintage gloves at their weddings. The feet get so much attention these days when it comes to fashion, why not the hands? Vintage gloves really finish a look and many dress styles can be paired with them. I collect vintage gloves and the most I have ever paid was $12.00 for a pair in perfect condition. Gloves. I stand by my prediction.

Do you use any unusual flowers in your designs?

I love using things that I see growing in my garden or along side the road or in a meadow. Whether it is a small grass, berries or large dahlia. I pair those items with flowers from the wholesaler cooler and “Voila!” A bride receives something truly unique. I am really in love right now with the Blushing Bride Protea. White with a hint of pink. I used it in a bouquet I created for MN Bride Magazine Jan 2010 issue (shameless plug) along with some pinkish-red sedum flowers I had growing in the garden.

What is your favorite color scheme at the moment?

Is green too obvious? It’s always fresh looking and there are so many combinations whether it is a traditional, contemporary, vintage or a backyard style wedding. My favorite green item to use at the moment is the Brazillian fern. It is an unexpected, soft and chic way to make a bouquet really stand out.

I also think yellow will be popular in 2010…watch for it, consider it. Yellow = Happy! It doesn't have to be super bright, could be a muted yellow or tone on tone. A yellow flower bouquet I would love to do would be yellow Gina Lollobrigida English roses, fresia, feverfew, and mimosa; very different textures and all beautiful.

My [artistic, floral] mouth would water if a bride asked me to…design her bouquet using 1940-50’s glamour with a soft black, gold and bit o’ cream color palate. The flowers I would use in this arrangement would be Camel roses, black mini calla and cream Majolica spray roses. Yum. My advice to her would be: wear a fur stole or caplet with this look, hair up, and large, single flower in the hair. It doesn’t have to be a real one.

Also, Anything in the brown family. From the lightest cream and latte colors to deep rich browns, when all used together to create a tone on tone scheme it looks perfect (in photos too!) Also, any shade of brown can be paired with the palest pink to a striking cobalt blue.

What is your ideal client?

Someone like my mom, she likes everything I do. =)

Joking aside, my ideal client is someone who has come to the first consultation to decide if she and I mesh well together. A bride will work almost a whole year with their designer of choice. She should make sure she feels comfortable with that designer.

What piece of advice you wish everyone knew about choosing flowers for their wedding or event?

Choose quality over quantity, less is more and always use an abundance of candles.

Check out Ashley Fox's website www.ashleyfoxdesigns.com where she has more beautiful images of her work, as well as her own blog!

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The Truth About Prints

Quality prints of your photos are as varied as the photographer that took them.  There are some photographers that have invested thousands on high quality printers and specialty, archival papers and print in house.  There are others that print on the cheapest photo paper from a big box store on a standard ink jet printer. 

I was so bummed when I went into a high end kids portrait studio and saw that they used an $80 printer with the cheapest brand of photo paper out there.  And they sold their prints starting at $45!  But their customers didn't know the difference.  It is up to you to educate yourself.

There really is a huge difference between printing from an online discount lab, to a local big box lab, to a mom and pop lab, to a pro lab.  There are differences of paper used and ink used...heck, most places don't even use ink anymore!  Linhoff Photo in Edina does beautiful Giclee prints and Fast Foto in Edina has this fabulous soft matte paper.  Fast Foto only has two people working on prints, so you get very consistant results and they actually will reprint if they feel the image needs a little tweaking.  National Camera does a fine job on prints as well.  Some pros swear by Costco printing, they their quality of color is spot on (I'm not a fan, but wanted to be truly unbiased, and there are quite a few photographers that send their clients to Costco if they own their negatives).  So it really takes paying attention to where you are printing, and though some prices are outrageous, print quality does tend to fit the mold of "you get what you pay for".

Each professional photographer has their own opinions about where to go for printing.  Photographers are picky about print quality because that is usually how others will see their work.  Word of mouth is so important in this business, so if you have a green toned, horribly printed 4x6 of your baby, and tell someone it came from a professional, it can hurt their business.  That is why a lot of us don't give out the negatives, we want to have that quality control. 

So if you are a client that has been giving their negatives, make sure to ask your photographer where they would recommend getting prints made.  And take their advice! 

How Do Photographers Spend Their Time?

Here is an amazing blog entry about how people think about the business of photography, and how it really is.  It is so well written and SO accurate...check it out!

http://www.ispwp.com/the-secret-life-of-wedding-photographers.html

 

 

Pictures Before the Ceremony

Most photographers like to do pictures before the ceremony.  It is much less stress, you get to have all the photos taken care of at the beginning of the day, and everyone is fresh and excited. 

There are many couples that like the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony, and that is just fine.  However, some couples choose not to do pictures before hand for other reasons...the big one is that the bride doesn't want her dress to get dirty before the ceremony.

The solution?  Do all of your portraits before the ceremony with your dress bustled.  There really aren't that many pictures that incorporate the entire dress.  Most formals are from the waist up, or the back of the dress isn't seen.  So keep it off the ground and clean before the ceremony, and do the fun location pictures with the full length of the dress after the ceremony.  See?  The best of both worlds =) 

One tip, though, if you are going this route for your photography, make sure to have a steamer on hand so you can smooth the dress out before going down the aisle. 

 

 

Ordway Circle of Stars Gala

I am officially in the Christmas spirit. There is nothing like walking through Rice Park with all of the twinkling lights, hearing the crunch of snow under your feet, and seeing the friendly smile of the Ordway doorman, complete with top hat.

The Ordway Circle of Stars is the volunteer organization that helps school children experience the wonder of theater. Once a year, they hold a gala that brings the who's who of the Twin Cities out for a night of fine food, socializing, and a show. Tonight was no exception.

The highlights of tonight's gala were a silent auction full of fabulous items, R.F. Moeller's jewelry room with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jems for viewing (and yes, trying on!), and savory food provided by The St. Paul Hotel. All of the festivities were followed by an exclusive viewing of Beauty and the Beast, and a dinner with the cast.

Here are a few images of the decor and food. It was so lovely!

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'Tis the Season of Giving

Tonight, Muddy Paws Cheesecake had their 17th annual Toy Drive, Cheesecake Tasting and Holiday Bazaar. This event is thrown each year for STEP, and gets such a great crowd. There were many delectable items to taste...lavender ginger shortbread, candy cane cheesecake and plum amaretto butter were my favorites =)

Definitely make sure to have this event on the calendar for next year! A lot of the artisan pieces were at a huge discount and there were some truly unique and amazing gifts.

Please make sure to become a fan of Muddy Paws Cheesecake on facebook! They do such wonderful things for the community and make the world a better place with their amazing cheesecake =)

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Sweet Joys of Life

Tonight, I had a fantastic pregnancy session. Sarah and Ben are both creative people, and had a ton of ideas for these portraits. Ben even brought his old matchbox cars for some shots of him playing with his future baby boy!

This session was a piece of cake, I just asked them to stand next to each other and they were both beaming and smiling like crazy. Having a baby will do that to you =)

Sarah and Ben, thank you so much for letting me document this lovely time in your lives! Here are my favorite images.

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Support Your Local Teachers

Have you been seeing teachers more than usual lately? School districts who haven’t settled on a contract with their teachers may be feeling a little heat. If teachers want to negotiate, they need support. To get support, you need to get the word out. To most people, teachers on strike waving signs around is what stands out - it gets A LOT of attention from TV stations and usually forces districts to settle quickly. But that’s usually a last resort and I would wager that most teachers want to avoid going that far. I’ve been seeing and hearing of smaller steps from teachers that help put pressure on school board members to hopefully curtail extreme measures.

Take the Edina picketers in these images as an example. They weren’t on strike – in fact, far from it. These photos were taken after school on the teachers’ own time. There they were - perched at the corner of 50th and France in the heart of Edina, waving signs and handing out flyers while battling the cold and wind. Over two days around 50 teachers (maybe more) braved the weather and even had smiles on their faces. Many horns were honked in support, and it was good to see the amount of positive response the teachers received.

Edina Schools are an exception to many rules and are known for their dedicated teachers, however, there are certain facts that many peopld don't know. I learned that Edina Public Schools consistently rank very high in Minnesota (often #1) and other national measures (Newsweek, Family Circle, others), yet teacher pay doesn’t match that. These teachers rank number 28 in pay in the state. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if their efforts change that.

If you’re interested in supporting your local teachers, first find out if they’ve already settled their contract (no need to help then). If not, ask what you can do. Teachers, as a whole, are selfless people, yet sometimes, they need our support. Be active in your child’s education!

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Sweet Evie

Evie had her portrait session today. We decided on a lifestyle shoot, so I went to her house and followed her around while she showed me her room, played guitar, read a book, and played with her hobbie horse.

Evie is a bundle of energy and loves to play hide and seek. On the promise of a special treat afterwards, she was also enticed to sit still for a while to get some sweet portraits to accompany the action shots.

What a fun afternoon! Here are a few of my favorites from the session.

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Wedding Photography Charges

It is time for another chapter in the wedding photographer user manual.  A good decision is an informed decision, especially when dealing with photography.  It is very important to make sure that when you're shopping for your wedding photographer, that you compare apples to apples.  There is a huge variety of talent, pricing, styles, and mindsets when it comes to photography, and it can be confusing if there isn't some preplanning involved. 

Here are few questions that don't pop up on most FAQ's pages, but are important to ask all the same.

Definitely ask your photographer to give you a basic run down of how they would shoot your wedding day.  It is good to not only get an idea of how many hours to expect, but also lets you see how much time your photographer spends shooting formals versus images of just the bride and groom and so on.  It is also a good conversation starter to see if you gel personality-wise, which is a very important part of choosing your photographer.  You want to make sure you feel comfortable with them since you spend more time with your photographer than anyone else on your wedding day. 

When you get your images back after the wedding, make sure to ask if they are edited images.  Some photographers don't edit any of their images.  Some edit just the top few.  Some edit all the images.  Some will turn and image black and white or work on an image in photoshop for no charge, some will charge for any retouching.  It is important to know how finished your images will be when you see them. 

It is always good to ask how quickly you will get your images after the wedding.  Industry standard is 6-8 weeks.  It takes time to edit the hundreds to thousands of images taken on your wedding day.  Some photographers put a due date in the contract, some don't.  If you have a specific timeline in which you want your images, be sure to mention that before signing a contract.

If you get an online gallery, see if those images will be online for only a set amount of time, or if they will be archived on the site for years. 

If you get your images on disk, ask what size they will be.  Will you be able to print an 8x10 from the file and get a nice print?  A 16x20? 

Getting a general idea for album design and print time is also a good thing.  Albums can take months to get back from the printers or can have a turnaround of a couple weeks.  During holidays, some album companies get very backlogged and albums get delayed.  Having an idea of when to expect your album is important. 

Your photographer is also a good source of general wedding information.  They are behind the scenes and there all day.  So it can always be helpful to ask if there are any pieces of advice you can use for your wedding day.

Apples to apples comparison shopping can be difficult.  Every photographer charges differently, so try to have a set of questions you ask at each consultation.  It is also important to remember that a wedding photographer's fee doesn't just cover their time the day of the wedding, but also their equipment, experience, and editing time after the wedding.  And make sure to check a personal reference and/or research the company online.  Do your homework, so you can feel confident in your decision. 

Muddy Paws Cheesecake

Studio Laguna has worked with Muddy Paws quite a bit over the last few years and I asked the owner, Tami, for some info that I could pass along to any of this blog's readers.  Here is all you need to know about Muddy Paws Cheesecake!

"At Muddy Paws Cheesecake, Weddings are our specialty! It is how we started our business 17 (11 year incorporated) years ago and created a name for ourselves in the Twin Cities. Today, weddings are still the core of our business. Not only are wedding couples our favorite client but they make for a beautiful, decadent Wedding Cake…. AND the guests go crazy to be able to have Cheesecake! We take great pride our creamy New York style cheesecake. Made only with the best of ingredients: cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and cream…and no fillers. Our award winning Cheesecake is offered in over 200 flavors & is hand made in small batches from scratch with love:). We one of very few bakers that make each cake to order and offer true New York/Chicago style cheesecake.

Special Flavors:
While we have 222 Flavors of Cheesecake, we take special requests! Have a favorite combo in mind? We’re fearless with flavors! Also, we have had an increasing number of requests for our Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Vegan, and Sugar Free Cheesecakes @ Events/Weddings. We off several flavor choices in each of these categories.

 

Personalizing to each bride:

We work with brides and grooms individually to find cheesecake options that fit their personalities, budgets, and wedding themes and colors.  A classy but comforting dessert, we can fit any style and budget!

Popular ways to serve them are:

An assortment of cheesecakes in a dessert buffet.

Tiers of cheesecake set on a traditional wedding stand

A cheesecake on each table as a centerpiece

Mini cheesecakes

Additional personalization can be tied in with ribbons around each cheesecake, lady fingers, cake toppers, fruit and flowers.  You can even make your own cheesecake sauce bar!

 

We are open daily too! If you just have a craving for cheesecake or would like it for your next party, gift, shower or your own freezer call or stop in. Directions can be found on our website: www.muddypawscheesecake.com

(We have over 100 cheesecakes in stock daily for purchase and have 12 flavors available by the slice.)

 

Awards:,

"Best All American Dessert" MN Monthly

"Best Cheesecake To Go" MSP Magazine

"Best of the Knot" 2007, 2008, 2009

"Best Eats" Coffee Festival, 7x

"Outstanding Business Achievement" Twin Cities"

Another cool thing about Muddy Paws?  They are less than a mile away from our studio.  So after your next portrait session or wedding consultation with us, stop over and grab some cheesecake.

P.S. have you ever seen the word Cheesecake written so many times in on blog?  =)