Getting Ready for your Engagement Session

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SPEND THE DAY TOGETHER.

I know it's not always possible, but if you can, take the day off together. We'll photograph your session about an hour or so before sunset, to allow for the most flattering light, so plan a day date! Sleep in, go to brunch, play your favorites tunes, have a cocktail (or two) and re-connect. You could also use the time to pamper yourself a bit with hair + makeup. (Massage, anyone?) By the time you get to me you'll be so darn in love it'll be sickening. And I'll friggin' love it. (And so will you when you see your gallery.) 

If I'm not prompting you, you're doing it right.

If you remember nothing else, remember this! During the first few minutes of an engagement session, someone (usually the groom-to-be...ha) will ask "What should we do? Are we doing it right?" And I always tell them, "if I'm not giving you direction, keep doing what you're doing!" Even if that just means chatting or laughing with your partner. Just relax. I am a real person just like you, and I promise that if you're not "doing it right," (you are) I'll let you know! 

THE IN-BETWEEN MOMENTS ARE MOMENTS worth photographing, TOO.

When we're moving from place to place, whether that's a new pose or a different location all together, keep lovin' on one another; hold hands, get cozy, get handsy, whatever! These always end up being the most genuine moments I capture and a true representation of your relationship. 

GET THOSE INSIDE JOKES READY.

During the session, I might ask one of you to whisper something funny (or dirty) to the other person in order to get you guys laughing. (Don't worry, I'll be far enough away from you and won't be able to hear it.) Cant think of one? No problem. The awkward silence will make you laugh, too. ;) 

TRUST ME.

You might be surprised at some of the prompts I give to evoke emotion. You also might be standing so close to your partner that you get an up close and personal show of their nose hairs. Trust me that I'm creating something special for you. Leave your inhibitions at home, be confident, and I promise you, you're going to love your photos. 

SPEND TIME PLANNING YOUR OUTFITS.

Want some advice on what to wear to your session? Check out my Engagement Session Style Guide here. 

The Do's + Don'ts of Boudoir Photography

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Earlier this month I was interviewed by Martha Stewart Weddings (going live next week!) on the Do's + Don'ts of Boudoir Photography for girls preparing for their bridal sessions. Here's a preview! 

What percent of your brides are scheduling boudoir sessions? About 50% of my brides are scheduling boudoir sessions with me. I think the other 50% are either a bit more on the conservative side or don't think their bodies are beautiful enough to be photographed in this particular style. I've noticed that the more I fine tune my niche market and attract more of what I consider an ideal bride or couple, that percentage increases. Over the last year or so my brand has exuded more of an off-beat and unique style which attracts a more specific bride; these brides are usually more interested in boudoir than some of my more conservative, traditional brides. As for the percentage of folks that lack the confidence to book a boudoir session, I'm working on that! I think every woman deserves to look and feel beautiful in their own skin, and I love when a client has the ability to see and feel that way about themselves through my work; it's pretty much the only reason I've chosen to explore this style of bridal photography.  The Do's and Dont's I've included are meant to lift up and encourage all brides (and even non-brides!) to have the confidence to totally rock a boudoir session. 

Do...

Get dolled up // Lots of brides are apprehensive about their boudoir session. In order to relieve some of that stress, I encourage my brides to get their hair and makeup done by a professional or someone they trust to make them feel their best. (Lots of my brides treat themselves to the day off from work, too!) Also, be sure to have a fresh mani and pedi before your shoot, even if it's just a clear coat. This is just a little added extra that will make the shoot look and feel complete and polished!

Wear lingerie that makes you feel beautiful //  Choose lingerie that accentuates the parts of you that you want to show off and embrace, and don't forget to stay true to your personal style. If you feel sexy in your fiance's old band t-shirt then rock that! If your more of a classic, bra + panty set girl, that works, too! Bring what you have and let your photographer help you choose what's going to photograph best. And if you don't have anything that you love in your closet, use this as an excuse for a shopping date with your maid of honor!

Choose the right photographer // In order to feel comfortable during your session, you'll need to hire a photographer that you trust. Hire someone that has experience in boudoir, has a rock solid portfolio,  is open to answering all of your questions, and makes you feel like Beyonce before you even step foot in the door. I never push my clients to do anything they’re not comfortable with, but I do ask that they trust me to create beautiful, natural images that make them feel their very best. Developing a relationship with your photographer is key!

Book a room // I strongly suggest booking a hotel room or a cute Airbnb for your shoot (think minimal design and natural light!) to allow for beautiful, clutter-free images. This takes "folding the pile of laundry on my bed" off your to-do list so all you have to do is focus on yourself (for once!) After the shoot, you can surprise your guy with an overnight getaway at the place you rented, complete with new, sexy lingerie! He'll have no idea what you were up to until he sees the album on your wedding night. This adds a bit of anticipation for you, and you'll both end up with a super special hotel in your city to celebrate in for years to come!

Don't...

Go in with a bad attitude // Look, I get it. We weren't all blessed with the body of Heidi Klume, but when it comes to boudoir photography, it's more about how you feel than how you look. Almost all of the girls I photograph walk into their boudoir session feeling a little apprehensive but all of them (and I mean all of them) have walked out feeling like Beyonce. I tell all of my brides to act like they're seasoned models. At first, they usually laugh at me but as soon as they give it a try, the entire mood of the shoot changes. It's so liberating to just let go! Boudoir Sessions allow us to quiet our insecurities by encouraging ourselves to love, cherish, and celebrate our best selves. 

Change your look // You want your boudoir session to be as stress-free as possible, so stick to what you love about yourself and stay away from things like fake tans and the urge to try a new hairstyle. While I do encourage my brides to pamper themselves before their session with professional hair and makeup, I suggest keeping the pampering to what you're used to, whether that's a fresh mani/pedi, a waxing, or a massage for relaxation.

Wear tight clothing to your shoot // Wearing tight clothing such as a thong or ankle socks can leave marks on your skin that'll be visible once you change into lingerie for the shoot. Also, don't skimp on the water leading up to your shoot and stay away from alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate your skin. 

Wait until the last minute // If your boudoir session is a gift for your soon-to-be groom, make sure you schedule your session with enough time for your photographer to edit the images and design + ship your album. You'll also want a chunk of time before your scheduled shoot to prepare by taking care good care of your skin, finding lingerie you love, and booking a hotel room. 

Use Pinterest // You can use inspiration websites like Pinterest to figure out the style of Boudoir you like, but don't compare yourself to what you find online or ask your photographer to recreate poses. Everyone's bodies and personalities are different so trust that your photographer will pose and photograph you in ways that flatter your uniqueness. 

Creating a Signature Cocktail | Washington DC Wedding Photography

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Lot's of couples are opting to have a Signature Cocktail for their guests upon arriving at their ceremony or during their cocktail hour before the reception to add to the uniqueness of their day (and to save on their bar bill!) The last couple of weddings I've shot, the bride and groom served two; one that's more traditionally masculine, like a bourbon and one that's traditionally feminine, like vodka. (The Burnt Sugar Old Fashioned + The Blueberry Vodka Mojito have been my favorites so far!)

You can also turn the creation of your signature cocktail into a fun date night. Spend the night at a bar trying different concoctions or take a mixology class together. Or, you can do like Glen + Jenny did, and come up with a drink that tells a bit about you as a couple. Since both the bride and groom are Geminis and love St. Germain, they chose The Gemini from Martha Stewart! (Scroll down for the recipe.)

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The Gemini

Ingredients 

2 oz. of Vodka

4 oz. of fresh Grapefruit Juice, strained

3 oz. of St. Germain liquor 

Topped with Prosecco 

Ice

Grapefruit-rind Twists

DIRECTIONS

Mix grapefruit juice, St-Germain, vodka, and ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake and strain into 2 chilled glasses. 

Top with Prosecco. 

Serve each with a grapefruit twist. 

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Looking for more Signature Cocktail ideas? Visit Port + Palm Co's blog for one of my favorites, The Lemon + Lavender Spritz

Boudoir Photography FAQS | Washington DC Boudoir Photographer

Gentlemen? If you're reading this, it's time for some serious chick-talk so now is your time to step away from the wedding planning (you're welcome) and let us do our thing. GIRLS // You want to do this. And the excuse "But I have no one to give it to" has officially gone out the window because you're about to marry the dude that makes you feel the best you've felt in your whole darn life. You've chosen each other, so it's time to say goodbye to those insecurities and start celebrating the bad-ass lady that you are. Whether you're doing this just for you or you plan on gifting the images to your fiancé as a wedding present, you're about to feel like A QUEEN.  

I know, I know...you'll be half naked in front of a stranger and you have stretch marks and you think your sexy face is lame. I've heard it all. But listen. Almost all of the girls that I've photographed walk into their boudoir session feeling apprehensive but ALL of them (and I mean ALL of them) have walked out feeling like a total BAD.ASS. We flip those insecurities a big ole' middle finger by encouraging ourselves to love, cherish, and celebrate our best selves. 

YOU ARE A MODEL. YOU ARE A QUEEN. OWN IT, GIRL. 

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"Okay, Okay. I'll do it. But I have a few questions, first..." 

What should I wear? // Wear pieces that make you feel comfortable and beautiful. Choose lingerie that accentuates the parts of you that you want to show and embrace, and don't forget to stay true to your personal style. If you feel sexy in your fiance's old band t-shirt then ROCK it. If you and your partner are big Harry Potter fans then that HP onesie you found on Etsy will do just fine. (Yep! That happened!)

How many outfits should I bring? // Around 3-5 different pieces of lingerie. I always suggest having a matching base you can throw accessories over; a solid color lace underwear and bra works well for this. But the rest is up to you...teddies, a comfy sweater, baby-dolls, slips etc are great! While my personal philosophy is "less is more," you can, however, bring extra accessories like a piece of jewelry, a shawl, or heels, as well. I

So, uhm, can I go nude? // YES! All boudoir sessions are photographed tastefully and as an art-form. I never push my clients to do anything they’re not comfortable with but I do ask that you trust me, as your photographer, to create beautiful, natural images that make you feel your very best. While most girls are apprehensive at first, these are always the images they end up choosing from their galleries.

Do you edit the images? // I sure do! All images you receive will be edited, high resolution images. While I do smooth out obvious blemishes and/or scars, I don't alter who you are. These sessions are about celebrating yourself and embracing your true beauty; they're about being a total bad-ass and owning it!

Should I get my hair and makeup done? // That is completely up to you! For most of my clients, getting their hair and makeup done means one less thing for them to worry about. They feel beautiful and confident and it shows in their images.

Quick Tip // Be sure your fingers and toes have a  pretty mani/pedi and/or are clean before the session, even if it's just a clear polish!


Ready to book a session? Email me at lauren@laurenlouisephotography.com 

Local Bridal Party Gifts | Washington DC Wedding Photographer Tips

 

For Men // .01 On the Rocks Coaster by Miks Letterpress .02 Partisan Chocolate by Harper Macaw .03 Three Stars, Two Bars T-shirt by District of Clothing .04  Face + Beard Wash by Stubble + Stache .05 Leather Card Case by Almanac Industries

For Women // .01 Coco Rose Body Scrub by Be Clean Shop .02 Hook + Eye Bangle by Mallory Shelter Jewelry .03 Sydney Hale Candle at Salt + Sundry .04 Tilly Mini Pouch by MATINE .05 Necklace by Kicheko Goods

SHOP SMALL //

If you're saying your I Do's in the nation's capitol, why not shop  and support the local makers, while you're at it? We've put together a list of our favorite bridal party gifts all designed and created locally by makers in the DC area. Whether the bridal party member is a DC local or an out-of-town guest, you'll be able to thank them with something meaningful and special. Happy Shopping!

The Perks of a Second Photographer | Washington DC Wedding Photography

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A lot of my couples ask for my opinion when it comes to adding a second photographer to their wedding package. My immediate response used to be "only if you want coverage of the both of you getting ready separately." The groom would usually say "no" and that would be that. But the more weddings I photograph, and the more my brand finds itself storytelling rather than solely documenting, the more I see the need for it. 

It's not to say that I'm not comfortable photographing a wedding solo; that's not it at all- including a second photographer has little to do with the amount of guests or a time limit, but rather finding importance in the in-between, less-sought after moments that help to tell the whole story of your wedding day, not just bits and pieces. 

Last week I got to second shoot for a good friend of mine at Lindsay Stephany Photography. Lindsay was my boss when I used to work as a student at the Office of International Education at SUNY Brockport but we both started exploring our passion for photography around the same time. Getting to grow in the industry along side Lindsay has been a constant source of encouragement and support. Every year we try to photograph at least one wedding together. You'll see in the images below that I was able to focus on setting the scene while Lindsay photographed the details of the dress, rings, and the girls getting ready. 

Having an additional photographer allows for more time to experiment. You'll see in the images above that I shot through a layer of the bride's dress to get an increased blur to the left of the bride's face while she was getting her makeup done. I was able to provide the main photographer with something unique, that will later on give the full gallery some variety. 

Photographers tend to be bride-focused during the preparations and sometimes, throughout the day. (This goes for same-sex couples, too! One of ya'll is always going to get a little more love, depending on your timeline.) Having a second shooter allows the groom to get more camera-time, and not only during the preparations but during the portraits, as well. A second shooter will get different angles and perspectives, often focusing on the groom. After all, marriage is the union of two people, not just one. 

If you're having a short and sweet ceremony but you want different angles, I suggest a second shooter. This couple's ceremony was only about 5 minutes long so it was hard for the main shooter to get interesting angles without worrying about missing important moments. I was able to shoot from the sides of the arch to get the bridal party and guests' reactions as well as pan back to get a wider shot to include the gorgeous view. 

During the bridal party portraits, the second shooter is able to capture individual or small group expressions which are often times lost among larger, pulled-back group shots. Seeing your best friend's laughter and happiness on your wedding day is almost as heart-warming as seeing the two of you for the first time as husband and wife. 

Having a second shooter will also give you a variety of focal lengths; meaning you'll receive images that appear to be taken from both far-away and up-close along with different angles and compositions of the same pose or action. 

Photographing the couple while they're focused on the main shooter can also create images that seem more "in-the-moment" rather than posed which also adds to the variety of the gallery. 

Using a lens with a different focal length than the main shooter can create a completely unique image. In the images below, I was shooting with a 135mm lens and was actually standing quite far away from the couple; creating images with a blurry background and crisp foreground. The main shooter was photographing the couple with a wide lens, and standing quite close for more intimate, expressive shots. 

My second shooter usually leaves after the introductions and first dance at the reception. The beginning of the reception can be a bit hectic and unpredictable with bridal party members' choreographed entrances and increased alcohol levels, so having two photographers on the dance floor is helpful so as to not miss anything. 

How to Style Your Home as a Couple | Washington DC Interior Design Photography

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THE STORY //

Earlier this week I got to spend some time with new homeowners Tina + Ricky at their newly designed apartment in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in Washington DC. Tina, the owner and media strategist of MAVN, a new public relations consulting firm in the area, shared with me a bit about what it was like to design and style their new home together as a couple, how they overcame some of the challenges that home ownership brings, and where they sourced all of their inspiration for their absolutely beautiful home! Let us know what you think by leaving us some love and scroll down for a chance to win a free photoshoot of your home! //

THE INTERVIEW //

How might you describe the style of the space? 

I love that with this new space, I was able to integrate some of my favorite old pieces in with the new. At the moment, I would call my style boho with a mix of mid-century modern. My pinboards are currently filled with tons of Scandinavian design -- I love any space that is simple and clean looking.

Did the design of the space include both you and your husband's style? How were you able to successfully fuse your unique individual styles into a brand new hybrid style that works for the both of you? 

Yes! Ricky and I’s taste has definitely evolved since we first met. It kind of started as rustic/vintage, and has now changed into more of a mid-century look. He prefers the clean lines, but is okay with me adding a little bit of my boho style. It’s all about compromise!

As a new home owner, what's your advice for couples styling their new home?

I would say, getting rid of the clutter and keeping your design choices simple makes for a nice looking home -- no matter what! Keep old pieces, and mix them in the with the new. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color here and there. It’s always good to remember that your home is a work in progress.

Any DIY projects/elements in the space?

The hanging light chords in our bedroom are my favorite DIY project so far.

What are your favorite pieces in your new home?

My favorite part of our condo is the all of the amazing natural light. It allows me to keep everything white, clean, and crisp -- and let our furniture and textiles pop. The white walls and natural light makes our 900 sq/ft condo feel so much bigger.

Our West Elm bed frame is a second favorite because it was the first “nice” piece of furniture Ricky and I ever bought together -- six years later, it's still my favorite piece.

The antlers hanging in our office gallery wall are another favorite of mine because we paid $50 for the pair at an estate sale in SF almost five years ago. I always love a good vintage find!

How did you collect/manage the inspiration for your design?

Pinterest has been a major source of not only inspiration, but also a way for me to manage and collect all of my design ideas. I also follow a ton of design brands and designers on Instagram -- which gives me a ton of inspiration. Rue Magazine, Lonny, Domaine are a few of my favorites.

You guys just moved to Washington DC from San Francisco this past winter. Have your past homes or travels influenced any of your pieces? 

Ricky and I have lived in a few different cities together including DC, San Francisco, and Austin -- and I think our place kind of represents a little bit of everywhere we have lived. I think it's a good mix of east + west coast styles!  

WIN A FREE PHOTOSHOOT!

Are you a home owner or renter with a beautifully styled + designed space? Send us a few snap shots to lauren@laurenlouisephotography.com and tell us why you'd like to be featured on our website for a chance to win a free photoshoot! 

Using Pinterest to Plan Your Wedding | DC Wedding Photography

 Image from  Deb + Zack's Portland, OR Wedding  last fall!

Image from Deb + Zack's Portland, OR Wedding last fall!

I love Pinterest! And I know that my clients do, too. From planning a party to planning healthy dinners, Pinterest is a great tool to help you stay organized and on-track in a sea of google-searches and great ideas. But if not used correctly, Pinterest can be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to planning your wedding day. There is just so much out there, and if you're not an organized pinner, like myself, it's easy to lose your ideas. Today, I'm going to share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly when it comes to using Pinterest to plan your wedding. 

The Good.

Find Your Style //

Pinterest is a great tool for planning your wedding when it comes to finding inspiration for the style of your celebration. My suggestion is to start with one board only, at first, and pin 30-40 different images you find aesthetically pleasing. (In other words, the stuff you like to look at, whether you can explain why or not.) Once you've done that, open the board and note what the pins have in common- Do they all have a Rustic feel, or are they geared toward a Glitz + Glam style? Maybe it's Bohemian or maybe it's Black Tie. Whatever it is, take note and begin the next step. 

Describe It //

Now that you know the style of your wedding, create additional boards for each aspect; floral design, hair + makeup, attire, cakes, invites, etc and a general board for wedding planning tips. (Check out more of our Tips + Tricks here!) As you pin, be sure that the content you're pinning aligns with the style of your wedding. Whatever you pin, describe what it is exactly that you like about the pin or image in the description box, so that your vendors know what to be inspired by.

You can see that I've divided the different aspects of wedding planning into multiple boards: 

Share With Your Vendors //

Sharing your Pinterest board with vendors can help them understand the style of your wedding day. Even though your hair might not be long enough for a certain style that you've pinned, pinning other hairdos within a similar style, can help your hair stylist figure out an alternative. Another vendor that also might want to see your Pinterest board is your calligrapher! If they know the style and the color palette of your wedding, they'll be able to choose fonts and colors that will compliment it. 

This is what my Invite Inspiration board looks like:

 

The Bad (And Sometimes, The Ugly.)

Blocks Creativity //

Pinterest is, occasionally, my worst nightmare, if used incorrectly. The worst thing you can do is send a Pinterest board to your photographer with a list of must-have shots. Wedding photography, like any other type of photography or art medium, is a creative process. As a photographer, if I am worried about creating every pose you've pinned on pinterest, I am no longer paying attention to what is in front of me, but rather creating pictures from someone else's wedding day.

Lacks Authenticity //

You want your wedding images to be a genuine and authentic representation of you as a couple, and in order for me to create that, I need to photograph the feelings and actions at YOUR wedding day, instead of copying and re-creating them from someone else's. 

 

So How Does Pinterest + Wedding Photography Mix?

Photography Style //

After you've created that first board I talked about, take a look at the style of images you've pinned from a photography stand-point. Are they all "light and airy?" Or are they darker and maybe a bit moodier? Use the style of photographs you've pinned to help you determine what photography style you'd like to have at your wedding! This will help you hire the right photographer.

My Pinterest Boards //

I've created Pinterest boards that can help you plan for your wedding. Everything from Decorations + Favors to Wedding Menus and Hairstyles, I've got you covered across a ton of different wedding styles. We pin almost every day, so be sure to follow along with us for updated, relevant content daily!

 

Check out more of our Wedding Tips + Tricks below!