FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER ON MYNTD

If you’re not familiar with MYNTD let me fill you in really quick. It’s a fantastic company operated by a swell guy name Michael. He specializes in a one day website design session using Showit software. He helped me design my website and is the reason why I am now capable of building websites myself. You can check out more of his work at myntd.com. It was great to see that Michael added me as a featured photographer on his site (which is of course designed beautifully). Simple and honest website design that looks terrific. I really appreciate the gesture and hope he continues to do as well as he has been!

Cheers,

RZ

Featured Photographer Pittsburgh

PERSONALIZED WEBSITES . . . A LITTLE BIT OF AWESOME

I wanted to take some time to better explain a unique feature that I offer all of my clients who purchase ‘The Engagement Package’ or ‘The Complete Package’. I call them personalized wedding websites and they are awesome! If you are a bride in the midst of planning a wedding you might have seen them before through big names like TheKnot.com. I think it is great that this feature is being offered on some sites, but they are template designs that are bland and will be used for countless other couples. I design and create all of my personalized websites, so only my brides will get something this personal. Let me show you an example of one before I start going through all of the benefits. You can find a recent one that I have created here. Now that you have one in front of you, let me walk you through the benefits.

Let’s start along the top. I always like to include a story of how the two of you fell in love. Every single wedding I shoot is completely unique. It is important for me to get to know my clients and learn about their own love story. This also will be a great way to fill in the plot points for people that don’t know the entire story of how you got together!

The top navigation will also include two storyboard links for your engagement session and the actual wedding. These are set up similar to my own website. I will write a few words from the day on the left and then you will be able to scroll through all of the images on the right.

The last link on the top navigation contains all of your wedding details. In this example I have included the date and time of the wedding and then two separate links on the page. One is for addresses and directions to the ceremony and reception. The second opens a page that will connect the couple’s guests with the hotel that they can book rooms at a discount. These pages are fully customizable so you get exactly what you want out of your website!

Again, all of this info is in one place. If any of your guests have questions you can just simply send them here for all the information. Couples usually put their personal web address on their save-the-date cards or formal invitations. They have found that this is the easiest way to relay information to their guests and share all of their photos with friends and family. Simple. Easy. Smart and elegant design. That is what I am all about.

At any point during a visit to your personal website you can click your names at the top to get back to the homepage. Here we can find a few more options for you and your guests to check out. There are a variety of options you can choose to add here or leave out. It’s all up to you 🙂 If you click the first circle titled ‘View the PASS Gallery’ you are taken to a page that explains how the online gallery works. It’s an amazing way to view and share your photos. After all, that’s why we’re taking all these great photographs right? From this page you can click into the different galleries to look at all the photos from either the engagement session or wedding. Simple and easy. I don’t like to complicate things.

When you head back to the homepage you can see that they have chosen to have an online guestbook that all their friends and family can sign via their Facebook accounts. It is a great way for guests to type something up before the wedding letting the couple know how excited they are to attend the wedding or to let them know what a good time they had. You can also include a registry link, which can connect your guests to all the locations you registered at so that they can easily make a purchase. The one option that this particular couple chose not to include was an online RSVP link. Using Google forms we can create an online way for your guests to RSVP to the wedding.

Personalized websites are the one place that contain all of your wedding info for both you and your guests. You wont have to fuss with passing DVDs of images to all your family members. You won’t have to remind everyone again and again of times, locations, and details. Your personal website alleviates all the little parts of wedding planning that usually make things complicated. Instead, you have something you can be proud to share with all of the people closest to you. I love it and my brides do as well!

 

Cheers,

RZ

Personalized Wedding Website +Site

BREAKING BAD

I’m a pretty big fan of Breaking Bad and am thoroughly disappointed that I have to wait until July for the last half of the season. What is everyone else watching these days? I need a new show so I can be over excited about knowing something is waiting for me on the DVR. Boadwalk Empire starts soon which I am a fan of, but there has to be more out there. Help me out please 🙂 I made this for Abbey to kickoff the start of this Breaking Bad season. The mug was easy enough to find but I struggled getting my hands on the blue Crystal Meth… I kid…It’s just blue rock candy. Happy Friday everybody. Hope you have an awesome weekend!

JESSIE & ALEX | BOTZUM FARM

It rained. It poured. There was heavy thunder, and Zeus even threw some of his best lighting bolts at us but that didn’t matter. Jessie and Alex’s wedding was not to be messed with, and their resounding love overpowered any storm that could be thrown their way. The two of them were such a laid-pack couple, which made taking photographs even more enjoyable than usual. They were willing to pose anywhere I recommended, and even did it with hug grins on their faces. Jessie shuffled through fields and old barns just to get the shot I wanted. What a trooper. Thank you for such an amazing day you two. You are seriously awesome!

TRIPS | KENNERDELL CAMPING

Camping never seems to go right for my brother and me as far as weather is concerned. We like to “rough-it” when we head off to the wilderness. I would say our hardcore level is somewhere between Bear Grylls eating something nasty and sleeping in a campground. We have matches and don’t eat worms so I can’t brag about being a true wilderness man. Needless to say, when there is precipitation it is a problem because we sleep in hammocks strung between the trees. What’s better than falling asleep under the stars? The last two times we headed off into the woods it rained and snowed. Kennerdell was no different. Before we even found a spot to set up shop the rain started to pour down on us. And it wasn’t the nice kind of rain that you see in a romantic comedy when the two leads finally realize that they are meant for each other and kiss in the rain. It was the kind where you take shelter in fear of a flood. So in darkness we set up a MacGyver shelter to keep ourselves as dry as we could. You’ll see in the photographs below. All the cold and wet left us when we finally were able to build a fire for the night. We woke up to the most amazing morning light peaking through the dense forest branches. Cheers to waking up to nature’s beauty!

RACHEL & JOE | ENGAGEMENT

This past Saturday Abbey  assisted me on an engagement shoot with Rachel and Joe down in the Burgh. For those of you who weren’t wrapped in a terrible towel at birth that is short for the great city of Pittsburgh. We found ourselves strolling around Duquesne campus where Rachel & Joe’s relationship first started to flourish. I can’t wait to tell that story later on! It involves Rachel borrowing money off her friend to buy Joe……cliff hanger (sorry). Rachel and Joe are the kind of couple where loving each other just comes naturally. Joe had a knack for getting Rachel’s beautiful smile to show itself again and again. He opened doors, helped her with her shoes, and was a gentleman the entire engagement session. Way to go Joe… you are the man! After we did our best to dodge new freshman from sneaking into the background of our shots we headed down to Allegheny Commons Park for some shots at sunset. I think you will agree with me when I say Rachel and Joe are a photogenic couple. I loved the light we had to work with and enjoyed my time with them even more. So excited to shoot their wedding this upcoming June!

MARY BETH & PAUL | THE HAYLOFT

Woody Allen could make one great romance flick about Mary Beth and Paul. They have all the necessary qualifications for one of his foreign romance films. They are hopelessly romantic, full of love, and have spread that love all around the world with their infatuation with travel. Now when I say they like to travel the globe that is a severe understatement. They actually made me a little jealous when they started to list all the places they have seen. And that’s coming from a guy who has been to over 15 different countries. Their list is endless. I was actually surprised that Atlantis and the hidden gardens of Babylon weren’t on it by the end. I used to play a game when I was younger where I would close my eyes and spin a globe. I would randomly let my finger fall onto the spinning sphere and say that I would visit the place where my finger landed (okay… I still might do that). Now if you could win at this game Mary Beth and Paul would have the high score by a mile.  My point is that for a couple that travels around the world soaking up new cultures I don’t think there was any place they would have rather been than in Somerset, PA celebrating their love with family and friends.

Ready for a love story that could easily be the next Hollywood romantic blockbuster? Okay good. Mary Beth and Paul met in the 5th grade. She drew a purple puppy made of crayons and he gave her a frog he found at recess. It was love at first sight. Okay the frog and the crayons might not be true but it WAS love at first site. I photographed their wedding if you don’t believe me. I think that makes it official. They attended different colleges, but that wasn’t going to stop them. During their last term they ran into each other and learned that they both would be studying abroad in Italy. They exchanged all the pertinent info and made sure they would see each other in the Tuscan countryside. Yes this is true. Yes it is romantic as heck. It was through travel that they built their foundation for their love, and what a way to do it. They adored seeing the world so much that they decided to do a little bit more after they graduated. Egypt, Australia, India, Switzerland…. you’re going to need an almanac if you want the whole list. They ended up in New Zealand where Paul got a job to save up to buy plane tickets for a trip around the world. Like I said…this is one awesome love story. Once they circled the globe they thought that they should see a little bit more of the US of A together. They both got a job that let them travel the states. They hiked the great forests, camped in the Dakotas, and partied with bikers in the Badlands. They ended up in Pittsburgh and have their own successful business in the Steel City. I’m so thrilled to share this amazing wedding. It was full of surprises including getting locked out of the cabin where all the groomsmen were staying and a full out hippie dance during the reception. I hope you enjoy this one, I know I did! Thank you Mary Beth and Paul for a fantastic evening. I wish you all the best in your never-ending love story!

Venue: The Hayloft

Flowers by: Betty Lou Svonavec (Owner of The Hayloft)

Catering: The Chuck Wagon

Dress by: Marisa Bridal

Dessert by: The Pie Shoppe

 

MY BOOKS | THE GREAT LIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS

Sometimes I catch myself getting stuck pouring over images from the wedding photography scene. I look over countless blogs and check-in with my favorite photographers to find the best compositions, poses and lighting for my clients. After about the 20th wedding blog something clicks and I say to myself I need to try something different. Inspiration can come from anywhere, not just pictures of all those good looking brides and grooms. Sometimes the best inspiration can come from the least expected places. Now I’ll admit a photography book from LIFE photographers is definitely not the last place I would look to find inspiration for my photography but it still works. These photographers define dedication. They spend weeks, sometimes months with their subjects just so they could get that one shot they want. That being said, I don’t think I would mind spending a few weeks with Winston Churchill. Well….at least until he called me a cheeky little bugger. After reading the bios of these photographers and the ambition behind the book I quickly realized what those men and women sacrificed to get some of the most compelling photographs in the past century (golf clap for them).  And before anybody asks, no I don’t plan on using a monkey creeping in water as inspiration for my brides. I did, however, get some great ideas from this book. The most significant take away for me was the realization of how beautiful film is. With so many digital cameras that make light metering and getting the right exposure a heck of a lot easier it makes film somewhat of a lost art. I am going to learn, though. At least enough that I can feel confident to bring a film camera to my weddings and take a few shots.  I would love to offer my clients beautiful prints from film as well as the option to scan the negatives to help tell their story when I print their albums. That’s the idea at least. I know it will be a challenge, but I am definitely up for it. In case you want to check out the book for yourself you can find The Great LIFE Photographers on Amazon by clicking on the link. It makes for a great coffee table read. Everyone that has seen it in my house has picked it up and has flipped through its many pages.

JANEACE & CONNER | OHIO WEDDING

He thought he was going to get to play grill master for his buddies. She thought she was finally going to meet her brother’s roommate. Conner’s cheeky personality made an early appearance and to his surprise his witty comments were reciprocated quickly by Janeace. He teased her early on to which she quickly responded by letting him know his plan of having a BBQ on Good Friday wasn’t the brightest  idea. Conner smiled and so did she. Facebook messages were exchanged and he asked her out on a first date. Little did they know that this first encounter would lead to a marriage. But they both smile ear-to-ear knowing it did.

I again found myself surrounded by loving people that warmly welcomed me into their inner circle of awesomeness. I love it when that happens. It always makes for better photographs. Candid smiles showed up again and again because the situation naturally presented them to me. Janeace and Conner are certainly made for each other. It was evident throughout their entire wedding day. Conner’s love and appreciation for Janeace was unyielding. When we were taking photographs before the ceremony he took every precaution not to sneak a glance of his bride. Which had to have been hard for him because she looked stunning. Anytime he crossed the doorway that looked over the foyer and into the room where Janeace was getting ready he would shut his eyes to make sure he didn’t see her until she walked down the aisle with her father. Every time he did this it brought a smile to his face. I can only assume he was imagining what his bride would look like it because I saw that same smile again and again every time he glanced at his bride the rest of the day. And that’s exactly how the rest of the day was. Conner loyally at Janeace’s side, making sure she was having a fantastic time on their wedding day.

The day was perfect. Perfect light. Perfect temperature. Perfect people. I could not have asked for a better day for a wedding with such an amazing group!


 

WELCOME TO THE BLOG

Firsts of anything are sometimes hard for me. I feel like they need to be perfect. Perhaps that’s why writing this has been so difficult. I scribbled down too many topic ideas and culled over all of my image galleries to try and put together the ultimate first blog post. The fact that I just called it the ultimate blog post just goes to show that it was never going to happen.  It turns out creating something of that superior quality that has everyone and their mother likes it is close to impossible the first time around…at least for me. So instead I am going to take the exact opposite approach. Keep it simple. That always seems to be the cure for any stress related situations I find myself in.

This blog will be used to connect with people. Some will be clients, some will not. The point will be to make a connection. Connecting with other people always makes a mark with me. One person’s stories are so vastly different from the next. So if you are a bride and are getting married I would love to make a connection with you. What do you want out of your photography? What is going to make you ooh and aweee when you seen your images? Whatever it is I want to capture it. I want to see the smile on your face after looking through your album for the first time…and the second….oh hell every time you look at your album I want you to smile. If I can do that then my mission is accomplished. So send me an email and lets get the conversation started.

This blog will be a mix of my business and my personal life. Someone once told me that your website is your handshake and your blog is your voice. I like looking at it that way. It gives me an excuse to have a laugh or two on here. Hopefully you can join in on the joke as well.  My girlfriend will be acting as Editor and Chief. Thank god. Lord knows I need her help. Plus doing it this way means if you see any mistakes on here I can just say ‘”Oh Abbey must have missed it ;)”

Like everything in my business I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this, comment, like, tweet, or whatever else you can pass along via social media. I look forward to talking to all of you soon!

Cheers,

RZ