photography

Brett + Susan | Savannah Documentary Romantic Intimate Wedding Photographer

Springtime Savannah Wedding - Brett + Susan

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“This isn’t sometimes / yeah, its for alwaysif I’m gonna love you with all of my heart / and if there is no more time,this always remains / even as the world spins itself apart…”
— - Alabama Shakes, I Found You (Brett + Susan’s first dance song)
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If you know me at all, you probably know how much I adore Savannah. I’ve been exploring the cobblestone streets + seafood restaurants every summer of my life, which only made shooting Brett + Susan’s dreamy wedding that much sweeter! Brett + Susan gathered with their closest family + friends in Savannah, Georgia on March 2nd, 2019 to promise to spend the rest of their lives together.


documenting the 'getting ready’ portion of the day

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Often, couples think the “getting ready” portion of the day is just “fluff,” but it’s a time of such sweet moments between some of the people that have been through the moments that have made you who you are. Who zips up your dress, who straightens your bowtie - those moments are beautiful, and they deserve to be remembered too! The two exchanged letters before their first look, and I loved the emotional moments we were able to capture.

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first look in downtown savannah - chippewa square

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Brett + Susan met for a first look in Chippewa Square, in the heart of downtown Savannah. I loved capturing the emotion on Susan’s face when she and Brett looked at each other for the first time on their wedding day! We took some fun portraits at Chippewa and the Savannah Theater and I love how much excitement comes through these!

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a sweet + emotional ceremony at Bethesda

after the first look, we got to Bethesda to take family photos + bridal party photos - here are a few of my favorite posed + unposed images!

just before she walked down the aisle with her Papa, Susan had a quiet moment alone outside

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Bethesda is a small chapel that meant so much to the couple because Brett’s parents actually got married here! People gathered on the same wooden pews that were there decades before when his parents said “I do.” A friend officiated for Brett + Susan, which always makes for lots of laughs. The couple then exchanged hand-written vows together that were incredible!

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candid + authentic couples portraits in Savannah

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Afterwards, we hopped on a trolley to take portraits in front of the iconic arch at the Bethesda gate. These feel so romantic and classic. When Brett + Susan first reached out, they emphasized how they loved my documentary style! Capturing moments that feel candid + authentic to each couple is vital to my work. Rather than put each couple in a one-size-fits-all pose, each session/ wedding day is customized to reflect the personalities of the couple I’m shooting! This makes the experience feel so much more natural and organic.

After the church had emptied out, we went back inside to grab a few shots of the two alone. It was a quiet moment inserted into a day that was moving so fast, and the two of them got to connect and just spend time with each other for a few minutes.

a beautiful wedding reception at soho south bistro in savannah

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When I first started talking to Brett + Susan, they told me they wanted their wedding to feel like “one big party, with all of our closest family + friends” and y’all, this reception was nothing less! It was so clear to see how much love they were surrounded by and the dance floor didn’t empty all night! The night ended with one last dance alone on the dancefloor, a super fun sparkler exit, and the two rode off in a pedicab.

What do you think of this gorgeous Savannah day? Tell me in the comments below!

Lance + Abi's Intimate Wedding | Long Beach Elopement Photographer | Los Angeles Elopement Photographer

Okay before we get started here, I gotta let y’all know in advance this might be a long blog post! I had so much trouble deciding on favorite images to post + little snippets to tell, so see if you can bare with me here!

On January 18th I had the infinite pleasure of documenting the wedding of Lance + Abi and ohmygosh it was so freaking sweet. About a year ago, I shot them up at Leo Carillo with their WOLFDOG and absolute sweetheart, Luna. Straight off the bat, the four of us (well, five of us - my husband, Krisz, came too!) got along so well. I loved capturing them during that insanely gorgeous golden hour, with the rolling hills behind them and their beautiful pup by their side.

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Then in December, I had organized a styled shoot but every model couple I’d set up seemed to fall through! So I asked Lance + Abi to step in for me and they were amazing. They’d gotten engaged just a few days prior, and on the way there my uber driver jokingly said “maybe they’ll enjoy this so much they’ll decide to get married even sooner!” I laughed + went on to my shoot, only for a few days to pass and Abi text me saying over the holidays they’d decided to move to Texas and that they’d be getting married in January! She said they’d love for me to photograph it for them and of course, I was totally up for it!

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Before their ceremony, we explored fun vignettes around City Hall (rooftop decks are a personal fave!) to get some variety in their couple portraits! I loved the motion of Abi’s dress, so I made sure to get shots of her playing with it and that breeze sweeping it up. It was uncharacteristically chilly that morning, so I told Lance to come in and warm up his bride with a few squeezes!

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I loved the urban feel of this shot! Putting it in black + white gave it a very nostalgic feel, and I thought the perspective between the walls was an interesting + unique view.

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I feel like I’ve done a disservice to this sweet Luna, Lance + Abi’s wolfdog/husky rescue by not showing her more here! She was a five-star bridesmaid and major comfort to the couple all day. She barely let them leave her sight! Documenting the prep/behind-the-scenes is something I love to do. These little moments, full of anticipation and emotions are so sweet and often overlooked. Showcasing these is just as important as the couple portraits for me!

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The city clerk brought the family to a small ceremony room in the back, where Lance + Abi exchanged rings and OFFICIALLY became a married couple!

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After their city hall ceremony, Lance + Abi brought their family back to L’Opera Ristorante in Long Beach, one of their favorite date night spots. As they were leaving for Texas just a few days after the ceremony, it was a great excuse to eat their favorite pasta one last time before their big move!

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We snuck away from our killer pasta and the reception brunch for a few moments to take some portraits of them enjoying the small-town Long Beach feel one last time. I loved how even though these have more of an urban backdrop, they still feel intimate + so emotional. Wishing many many trips around the sun together for these two and I can’t wait to go visit them (and sweet Luna) in Texas sometime!

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3 things you can do to rock your engagement shoot!

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Engagement season is here, y’all! If you haven’t already heard, I’m doing a giveaway through January 27th (my birthday!) to celebrate. One couple will win $300 towards a 2019 engagement or wedding! Today I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips for making your engagement shoot a super success! Here are 3 of my top tips; to get a PDF download of my top seven tips, sign up for my newsletter (and you’ll get entered in my giveaway, too!)

y'all - I get it! you're not professional models. here's a little secret: almost no one is!

Some people are naturally comfortable in front of a camera - others (um, me, for example!) not so much. Honestly, the majority of my clients start off a session by saying "we're SO awkward!" In my experience, here are 3 tips to make you feel more prepared for your engagement shoot (no matter who's photographing it!)


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Tip 1: KEEP MOVING - even just slightly

The number one mood killer in engagement shoots is bringing mannequin moves to the shoot. instead of staying stiff + static, keep moving! It doesn't have to be drastic. For instance, if I asked you to stand still and embrace each other, you could simply move your fingertips, sliding them just a little along your partner's neck/back/waist. Those simple gestures will keep you in the moment with your partner and make the moment feel more natural!

tip 2: DANCE TO THE BEAT OF YOUR OWN DRUM... LITERALLY

Imagine dancing at sunrise on top of a gorgeous beach with your best friend. Now imagine it with your favorite music in the background! Dancing with music > dancing without music. And I can almost guarantee you're gonna do some dancing at your engagement shoot, whether it's on a mountaintop or in your kitchen making waffles. I always do my best to come to shoots with some music ready on a bluetooth speaker or just ready on my phone, which makes a shoot so much more fun! However if you like a specific genre or have a certain playlist in mind, I'm always happy to play music off the couples' phone instead. Music is a great way to tune me + the camera out so you can focus on what's most important: each other!

tip 3: "NO ONE LOOKS STUPID WHEN THEY'RE HAVING FUN." - Amy Poehler

Be ready to have a good time! Before your shoot, try to relax and do something that puts you both in good spirits - maybe grab a tasty meal or hit up your favorite coffee shop. Treat your shoot as part of a super fun date! For so many people, the only professional photos they've had taken up to this point are school yearbook photos. This will not be like that! Be open to a new, fun + memorable experience and try not to take yourself too seriously!

if you enjoyed reading these tips, you’ll love my freebie, My Top 7 Tips to Rock Your Engagement Shoot! subscribe to my email list now to receive this super helpful download.

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planning a Joshua Tree elopement | Joshua Tree elopement photographer

Joshua Tree is all the rage in recent years. Couples - including us - flock to this unique desert from all over the world to elope! There’s something incredible about the landscape: somehow between breaks in the barren desert beautiful things find their way through. And we’ve always been fans of a good underdog story.

Having eloped ourselves, we figured we might have a unique perspective for those planning an elopement of their own - in Joshua Tree or anywhere else! In this post we’ll incorporate some shots of our own elopement process + some from a recent intimate wedding in Joshua Tree!

@ Vic Bonvicini Photography

@ Vic Bonvicini Photography

at the LAX courthouse, doin the official thang! (phone photo!)

at the LAX courthouse, doin the official thang! (phone photo!)

1. Finding an officiant: this step is one of the less glamorous parts of planning a elopement but technically the most important! If your paperwork doesn’t get filed, you didn’t elope - you just went on vacation and gave each other jewelry. In an officiant, you need someone that is highly organized, personable, available, and able to travel to your elopement spot. because we planned things pretty short notice, we weren’t able to find someone that met all of those requirements within our budget. if you can’t find one that suits your budget, style, or availability you can do what we did: go to the county courthouse! We did this in LA the day before we went to Joshua Tree, because it fit our availability, was super affordable + we were sure the paperwork would get filed correctly.

If you’re planning with a bit more time, here are some local to Joshua Tree that have a great way with words and wonderful reviews:

Let’s Get Married by Marie : I love that she proudly claims her title as an #antiboringweddings officiant! LA based, Marie offers elopement packages specifically for Joshua Tree and the Pacific Northwest. From her reviews + blogs, it’s clear that she does her due diligence when it comes to preparing for her couples!

LA Wedding Woman : LA Wedding Woman offers a variety of packages to suit couples’ needs, perfect for an elopement!

Wedding in the Desert  : As a Joshua Tree local, Celine offers a unique perspective. She also is a certified American Sign Language interpreter, which she says has given her insight on how to “speak for” people without injecting a personal agenda.

captured by @Vic Bonvicini

captured by @Vic Bonvicini

2. Simple but significant. Eloping in a beautiful place (hi, JT) means you can really minimize costs that would have been spent on a venue (besides a park permit), decor, etc.

We stayed at AirBnb’s instead of renting a hotel + wouldn’t have it any other way. cactus mountain & joshua tree house.

Joshua Tree House - source: Airbnb

Joshua Tree House - source: Airbnb

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Cactus Mountain - source: Airbnb

Cactus Mountain - source: Airbnb

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

Megan + Jade, shot by Morgan with Eden Strader

3. Injecting your personality. Eloping is a fun way to magnify elements of your relationship that are unlike any other! We for instance are total coffee nerds. Moments after saying “I do”, we were saying “I brew” with a French press. We picked up local coffee from Joshua Tree Coffee Company the day before for our sunrise vow exchange + joked it would be our form of a unity candle. We packed a blanket we picked up during our cross-country move the day we went to the Grand Canyon and packed it all into our little Mini Cooper (RIP) to sit on as we sipped. Another thing we like nerding out on is gardening! Hopefully we’ll have a little farm of sorts down the road, but in the meantime we love visiting plant nurseries + watching gardening shows (yes, if you’re wondering, we are actually 60 years old inside). That’s why we decided to make the bouquet an adventure too - we went to the iconic flower market downtown early Saturday morning and picked our very favorite flowers. That night, we carefully crafted a gorgeous and MASSIVE bouquet and tied it up with bakers’ twine.

If you’re not down to make your own bouquet, there are several super talented florists in Joshua Tree! We loooove the bouquets from The Blooming Gypsy. Check out the hanging flower wall in this post and the wildflower-vibes here.

Vic Bonvicini Photography

Vic Bonvicini Photography

Vic Bonvicini Photography

Vic Bonvicini Photography

One of our favorite photos of the whole day. This is a truly candid moment, fixing each other up one last time before heading on a short hike to the spot where we exchanged vows. We love that it incorporates some of the most memorable parts of the day - our Mini Cooper, the homemade bouquet, and the camping pack where we’d tucked away all our coffee goods.

One of our favorite photos of the whole day. This is a truly candid moment, fixing each other up one last time before heading on a short hike to the spot where we exchanged vows. We love that it incorporates some of the most memorable parts of the day - our Mini Cooper, the homemade bouquet, and the camping pack where we’d tucked away all our coffee goods.

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

Phone photo - In-N-Out after our courthouse ceremony!

4. Good food = good times. After leaving the courthouse from our short little ceremony, we stopped at In-N-Out, of course! And then Donut Friend in Highland Park because what wedding is complete without a little dessert? We brought fresh food & champagne down to JT and cooked in our AirBnb the night before because we love to do that together - homemade shrimp tacos + fresh guac! The next day after our ceremony, we grabbed lunch at Crossroads cafe - we had the most amazing portobello mushroom burger + we attempt to recreate it at least once every other week! Getting some of your favorite food - whether that’s Chick-Fil-A or a fancy steak dinner - will make the day feel so personalized. Maybe this is where you want to splurge, and that’s totally ok! But don’t feel pressured to. Our advice is to make sure it’s something you FEEL is worth a billion bucks, even if it doesn’t cost much.

Phone photo - realizing we’re stuck in a ditch.

Phone photo - realizing we’re stuck in a ditch.

Phone photo - realizing we can’t get out.

Phone photo - realizing we can’t get out.

5. Understand that things may go wrong. Elopements aren’t immune to unpredictable moments any more than traditional weddings! We grabbed some phone photos to document this moment because we knew as ridiculous as it felt, we’d be laughing about it soon. We had wrapped up our portraits + headed back to our airbnb, and we got STUCK in the desert. Literally stuck. In the sand. Like, had to be towed out by AAA kind of stuck. The joke that day was “well it can only go up from here!” Sometimes as a photographer you walk into an intimate wedding and ten minutes later you’re sewing a grooms’ pants seam, or helping dig your couples’ car out of the sand (thanks, Vic!).

We hope you enjoyed these tips for planning an intimate ceremony! Tell us in the comments if you’d like more posts like these + what tips you found useful!


Megan + Hans

It's hard to believe it's been SIX months since this intimate Malibu ceremony. Megan + Hans were the perfect example of significance in the simplicity. It was such a privilege to shoot this with Marlies Hartmann of M. Hart Photo! 

 

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One of the most incredible things about this wedding was the way it unfolded in the grand scheme of things. The couple's intimate Airbnb gathering started off in the planning stages as quite the opposite, but somewhere along the way they ditched the big venue and endless guest list so that Hans could have a heart surgery he'd literally been waiting a lifetime for. 

an energetic niece opted to watch the ceremony from several angles in the surrounding yard

an energetic niece opted to watch the ceremony from several angles in the surrounding yard

I loved the unique additions the couple integrated into the ceremony that made it truly a reflection of their relationship: a close friend officiated the ceremony, with a memorable introduction quoting Tolkien about the adventure they were about to embark upon; a notebook containing both the bride and groom's vows, that they took turns reading out of; and an unmatched level of comfort and relaxation as they raised glasses of wine with their closest friends and family. 

After the ceremony, the group made their way to the nearby Nobu restaurant, where we snuck off to the beach below before dinner. It's such a thrill to capture two people so genuinely in love. Six months in to forever! 

Point Dume Adventure Session

One of my favorite parts of planning a couples' shoot is discussing location. The planning of these shoots should do anything but stress you out-  a day spent together with your partner is something to look forward to! With Jessica + Jason, I was absolutely blown away by the location we chose: Point Dume. 

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If you know Point Dume at all, you'll know it's beautiful. But more than a gorgeous backdrop, it was where Jason took Jessica on their first date about three years ago. Watching them revisit old memories- while making new ones- was so special. 

Learning these intimate details about a relationship makes connecting so much easier and by the time the day comes for us to work together, we already feel like good friends. This was our first time meeting in person, and it was so comfortable! To help reach that level before my shoots, I start every inquiry with a conversation. I want to know the story behind the relationship. 

These two were up for just about anything! I knew they enjoyed the outdoors and going to the beach beforehand, but their adventurous spirit was contagious. These are just a few of the moments I captured that morning. There were so many great shots I had trouble narrowing it down to the number I intended to deliver! 

I had the best time, saw a new part of my new city + got to do work that brings joy to people's hearts. 

 

If you enjoyed reading about Jessica + Jason's shoot, leave a comment below or share with someone who might be interested! 

Getting Started

“It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know”

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This cliche is true is some industries more than others, but it definitely rings true for the wedding photography industry. Getting to know other photographers, both established and up-and-coming, is pivotal to working in wedding photography.

Several years ago when Instagram was still new, I started following anything and everything that I found to be inspirational and fun. As an avid photography + art enthusiast, I found this applied to A LOT. I followed magazines, illustrators, art directors, street photographers, dog accounts, cat accounts, product designers, tech companies, nonprofits, poets, painters, animators, foodies, night photographers,  friends from high school, models, wildlife photographers, clothing brands, coffee companies, and wedding photographers. Gradually, my taste became more curated and my eye settled into this new social media landscape. My "following" number whittled down as one by one I unfollowed account that no longer spoke to me but one trend remained: wedding photography. But these weren’t the posed, awkward stances of yesteryear. No, these photos were flawed and fearless: they were intimate and close, raw and unposed, and they translated as a documentary-style art form rather than an interfering, uncomfortable bystander’s work.

A girl in my design school program but a year ahead of me at Georgia State University was taking photos that I found myself absolutely in love with. She captured romance and weddings in a dark, moody way that I found mesmerizing. One day on her account I saw a photo of her and her boyfriend in front of the camera rather than behind it. The photo was taken by Vic Bonvicini Bedingfield - I looked at this account and was blown away. The level of vulnerability her photos portray and the intimate connection you can see between couples is inspiring.

So I did what any normal person would do. I emailed her out of the blue.


From: Morgan Pirkle

To: Vic Bonvicini Bedingfield  

Subj: Aspiring Atlanta photographer!

 

Hi there!

I came across your Instagram and was really blown away by your beautiful photos. I'm a senior at Georgia State studying design & trying to enhance my photography skills outside of school. I'm trying to reach out to photographers I admire in hopes of learning more. I was wondering, are you local to Atlanta? If so, I would absolutely love to grab coffee sometime. If not, would you mind if I sent you some questions I have about photography (wedding + travel particularly).

Have a great weekend!

Morgan Pirkle



To my great surprise, this sweet sweet angel replied back. She wasn’t able to meet up for coffee, but she encouraged me to send her any questions I might have.

She signed off:

Looking forward to helping you!

Vic

 

Over the course of almost a year, our email thread grew. Whenever I had a question about posing, gear, talking to clients- I’d try to find information online, and whatever I was still curious about I’d send in a short + sweet email. Within a few days she always responded. She was so generous and open with her advice and her guidance helped me so much more than she could possibly know!

During that time, I worked with other photographers assisting and shadowing weddings. No two were the same, yet I got goosebumps at each ceremony (and I might have cried at one). I began photographing my own clients. I photographed couples, portraits, events, products, festivals, maternity, and families; basically, anything I could get my hands on to gain experience.

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Over the summer of 2017 I was offered a job in LA and was beyond excited to move out there. My only stipulation was that it HAD to be after Vic’s workshop in Atlanta, Reset to Rise. On August 3rd, I attended her workshop and at 10:30 p.m. that evening my fiance and I hit the road on our five day cross-country adventure to the west coast.

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Her workshop was amazing. Vic brings such a unique perspective to photography and her energy is absolutely contagious. She shared her personal journey with photography and the role it has played in her life since. She brought in models and gave attendees the behind-the-scenes version of her photo shoots. She explained how she talks to models, how she makes them feel comfortable - she was so helpful and full of advice.

Since moving out to California I've shot mostly portraits and couples. Before that workshop I knew I had a passion and admiration for couples photography, but that day I realized that's where my passion lies; in creating this everlasting time capsule for couples to look back on. Photographs are a method of documenting our lives. To be able to capture a place and time for a couple, to document this season of life for them is the work I love to do.