Skycroft Convention Center: Middletown, MD Wedding: Leland + Danielle

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"Where you go I follow
No matter how far
If life is a movie
Then you're the best part" - H.E.R.

When you get married on the camp grounds that you lived on for 22 years, then you see your groom for the first time on your wedding day under your most favorite tree in all the world, there's bound to be a river of tears & so much celebrating. Did I mention that guest were invited to camp out with the bride & groom at the end of the night, right there by the reception tent, under the stars in an open field?

Leland & Danielle's mountain top, camp site wedding was everything I'd imagine it'd be.
It was laid back, so personal & fun, & the weather was perfect! The forecast called for rain but the Lord moved the clouds for us & gave us cloud cover for the ceremony, a light drizzle during the first dance & a gorgeous sunset to polish off our day. 

And my oh my were their tears. From the first look where Danielle & Leland shared their personal vows in private, to best man who's love for his best friend was so evident & so endearing as he cried during most of the ceremony standing next to the groom, to Danielle's father's speech that literally had the entire tent of people weeping with tears. I've never seen a speech have such an impact on a wedding day, but when you have a father like Danielle's, who spent countless nights praying over Danielle's future husband while she was still a baby in her nursery, every single word was drenched in powerful love.

Leland & Danielle, thank you for being one of the most loving & generous couples I've ever had the joy of working with. You both love BIG & love deeply, and now I see that it's because of the incredible love you two were raised in & the immense love you two have been surrounded by all of your lives, & of course, because of our great God's perfect love. I love you both so much & I feel like the luckiest girl not only because I got to capture your wedding day, but because both of you, your friends & family all invited me right in to the celebration like I was family all a long. 

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Mount Airy Mansion, Upper Marlboro, MD Wedding: Brandon + Loydel

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It rained a bit today but we barely noticed because Brandon & "Del" got married & it was all joy & sunshine inside Mount Airy Mansion. The rain cleared up just as the ceremony ended so all our portraits were done outside, rain-free (thank you, Lord!), the DJ had the dance floor packed with happy guests & Del & Brandon beamed with joy all day long. God is good & He's started a good thing when he brought Brandon & Del together.

Brandon & Del, I love you both & I'm so happy for this new chapter of your lives. 
It's been so sweet to see the Lord work in your stories, allowing His perfect timing for both of your stories to intertwine. Praying for blessing upon blessing over your new family & for the ministry, I know your marriage will be to everyone around you. Congrats, you two!

Swan Point Yacht and Country Club Wedding, Southern Maryland: Mike + Cassie

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This weekend two of my dearest friends, Mike & Cassie got married!

It was the first time I've ever been asked to be matron of honor AND photographer on the same day & for Cassie, I'd gladly do it all! Cassie is one of my heroes & one of the greats in my life. Long before she met her husband in our home, I made a promise to photograph her wedding one day & this past weekend I got to deliver on that promise as her matron of honor.

I'm not sure any wedding experience will ever compare to wearing both hats on a wedding day & it would not have been possible without the kindness, talent & flexibility of my new found friend & fellow photographer, Shannon of Shannon Ensor Photography. Long before the wedding day arrived, Shannon, Cassie & I found a balance in dividing up the wedding day in a way that allowed me to fully participate & fulfill my role as a bridesmaid, yet also capture the photos Cassie always pictured me taking. It takes lots of communication & partnership to make sure everyone is happy in a situation like this & I'm so grateful to have worked with the very best this weekend.

Mike & Cassie, I love you both so fiercely.
I'm a mess of words & tears as I write this because I am overjoyed to see you both so beautiful & so incredibly happy. It's so kind of the Lord to allow both Tim and I to have you in our lives & allow us to watch your love grow since day one. Cassie, thank you for allowing me to celebrate all that God has done & your marriage, in all the ways I know how to celebrate best (tears, words, photos & dancing!!!). It was an honor to stand by your side as you became a wife & I've said over and over again, knowing you & having your friendship in my life has made me a better woman.

I'm so excited to share these few photos as a preview
to all the photos Shannon will soon share with the world! 

Venue: Swan Point Yacht & Country Club
Bridal Gown: Love & Lace Bridal Boutique
Bridal Alterations: Annapolis Bridal & Tuxedos
Groom's Suit & Shoes: The Black Tux
Hair Stylist: Christina Piper (friend)
MUA:  Natural Looks by Victoria

Franciscan Monastery, DC Engagement Portraits: Nella + Tyler

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Nella & Tyler had to travel to the opposite side of the world on a trip to the Philippines to figure out that their Maryland made friendship was much more than just friendship. It was basically an honeymoon before the relationship even began & now they are just a few short months away from saying "I do" then they'll be off on their actual honeymoon. 

When I asked them what they love about each other I nearly cried at their responses. Nella spoke so kindly of Tyler's never-ending thirst for knowledge, & his burning desire to change the world (these were direct quotes). While Tyler shared that Nella is simply inspiring, she is so hard working, patient & is one of the most caring people you'll ever meet. These two are the kind of people who are humbly & gently changing the world with their love, their passion for building others up & helping all those around them with all their skills & knowledge.

When these two are in each other's arms, the admiration in their eyes & the incredible joy on their faces when held by the other is the kind of magic that inspires love songs & movies. It's such a gift to be able to call these two some of my newest friends & I'm over the moon excited to be shooting their wedding in a few short months.

Tyler & Nella, Your love for each other & your passion to change the world for good is so inspiring. Thank you for bringing that encouragement & beauty into my life. I could not have asked the Lord for sweeter clients in this season of my life & I'm so blessed to be working with you two incredible souls. I love you both & your wedding can't come quickly enough!

Photography tips to take on vacation

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It's almost summer & your next big vacation is right around the corner. Are you ready to capture some amazing photos of your trip? Here are the few of tips & tricks I keep up myself when taking photos during vacation. 

(All these photos are images taken during a day trip with family & friends to Wilmington, NC)

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TIP #1. The best camera to use on vacation is the one you have one you. Use it!

One of my best friends went to Greece for a mission trip during our teen years & all she took with here was a disposable camera. There was no such thing as Instagram or Google at the time & I'd never seen anyone's personal photos of Greece before hers. To this day I still remember the impression those photos made on my heart, when she came back & shared her photos with everyone. Greece was stunning in all the graininess & harsh shadows from her disposable camera & that day I saw those photos was the day I put Greece on bucket list of places to visit.

All that to say, YES, more expensive cameras do take better quality images & as a photographer better quality is always ... well better. But sometimes remembering special moments on vacation, means simply taking out your cell phone, or the Polaroid camera you just loaded with film & snapping away. Better a moment remembered than a moment forgotten. 

All the tips I'm sharing today apply to any & all cameras.

*** If you are interested in renting a camera for your next vacation, check out Borrowlenses.com This post is in no way sponsored by them but here is a $20 off discount code just for the Ica Images fam. ***

https://www.talkable.com/x/vfgUEk

TIP #2. Be present on vacation. Truly soak in real, undiluted moments & take photos of friends & family who are soaking in the moments too, these are the good memories you'll want to look back on one day. You don't need to turn every second of your vacation into a full-on photo shoot because real life is sweet & beautiful all on it's one.

But there is a time & place for everything so there are bound to be posed photos of the people you love most. When it comes to taking those group family photos don't simply keep the moment in mind but think about how you'll want to remember it when you get home.

TIP #3. When taking group photos take the photo both horizontally & vertically. 
Someone in the family might want to print out vacation photos to show off at home.
Give them the option to frame it or print it either way.

TIP #4. When you have to ask a stranger to take your photo, first take a photo of the composition you want, then show it to them before they take the photo (or else who knows what you'll get when they hand you back your camera). 

Example: Photo 1 was my composition, Photo 2 my husband & I ran across the street & posed in the spot I wanted.

Another example of TIP #4 but this time with the added challenge of a shallow depth of field. Always make sure you tell the person taking your photo to focus, however your camera focuses. 

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TIP #5. Take in the sights! Literally, take photos of all the pretty places you pass by. Look up or down, check around the corner, turn back & you might like the view even better. Instead of taking trinkets home I like to take photos with signage or flags that are only found in that particular place. It's the same as keychain, but it's saved on my computer instead of my key ring.

And there you have it! A perfect combination of people, places & moments that will help tell the story of your vacation adventures.

Are you in the DC metro area & want to practice out these tips with me during a day trip to Alexandria, VA? Or want to follow me on Instagram as I play tourist down in Oldtown?

Come join the fun in person or online,
on Saturday, April 28, 2018, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.
as I do an Instagram take over for the
Visit Alexandria!

Get your free ticket for InstaMeetALX: HERE
Or follow me over on Visit Alexandria's Instagram on Sat: HERE

Waldorf, MD family portraits: The Proctors

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If there is room to run, and time to play, if there are trees to climb & kisses to share, do it.
Life is too short to miss out on the good stuff. 

An afternoon with the Proctors reminded me of all the sweet stuff that fill up this life.
It's funny that children are so tiny yet they know how to live & love so big!

I love you, Proctor family & thanks for adding more of that good stuff to my life.

Alexandria, VA Confetti Engagement Portraits: Brian + Lyssa

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I've been so eager to share Lyssa & Brian's colorful engagement session from way back in February. This confetti filled engagement session was one for the books as Union 2016 studio served as the perfect crisp & white backdrop.

Brian & Lyssa are just the sweetest.
They love video Gaming, dining and joking & laughing together,
& in each other's arms, they are so at home.

I can't wait for their Rust Manor wedding later this year, especially with Lyssa's graphic design skills. I'm almost certain that as much as I adored shooting their confetti engagement portraits, their confetti & glitter filled wedding will take a run for it's money. 

Strong Mansion at Sugarloaf Mountain, MD wedding: James + Claire

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If you've been following me on social media (Instagram or Facebook), you know that I was recently hospitalized (numerous times) for a lung collapse that ultimately required lung surgery. It was a two month battle that has since,finally ended & this weekend I got to go back to work with the most beautiful wedding of my career, thus far.

Saturday's weather was a perfect 80 degrees, sunny and gorgeous & the views at Strong Mansion were the most glorious backdrop to James & Claire's spring, mountain side wedding. All the wedding details were drenched in beautiful cool hues, using the loveliest greens, & blues with a pinch of blush pink, basically the most perfect spring palette. 

A few of my favorite details from the day were the bride's lace BHLDN wedding gown, the handmade bouquets she crafted herself, the mix & match bridesmaids dresses, & of course Strong Mansion itself. I felt like I was transported to Europe as I walked around the mansion grounds, but we were only an hour away from home.

Claire, your dad said it best before he said goodbye to me on Saturday, “There will always be more love in the world than hate, always more good than evil, love conquers all & God always prevails.” And love is exactly what drenched your wedding day more than the sun that shone in the cloudless sky.

James, the part of Sarah's maid of honor speech where she spoke of how you always celebrate every part of Claire ... oh my lands, she described your love for your WIFE so perfectly.
Never stop celebrating her & never stop celebrating life.

James & Claire, I'm struggling to find the words to describe my gratitude for your friendship & your wedding day. Both things have helped bring even more healing to my soul & I am overwhelmed with joy because of you two.

VENUE // Strong Mansion at Sugarloaf Mountain
BOUQUETS, SIGNAGE, DECOR // Handmade
DJ // 27 entertainment (DE) Aaron Morris
CATERER // Carterque BBQ
HAIR & MAKEUP // Bride & friends
BRIDAL GOWN // BHLDN

 

Ica Insight - How to friendwork instead of network

 
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“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people
than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” 


Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence People


On Friday I got on Instagram Live to share tips to help wedding newbies get referrals from seasoned pros. Without having the proper dialog or not knowing how to approach other professionals with the right intentions, may lead to missed opportunities to gain new friends or gain referrals. I'm reviving "Ica Insight" by sharing more networking tips as promised to all my friends who joined me on Instagram this weekend. So let's get to it!

In business "your network is your net worth". But I believe you can gain an even stronger network by doing what I like to call "friendwork", it's networking but with absolute intention to be a friend, with authenticity & love.

Here are 5 ways to "friendwork" instead of network if you are just starting a business OR if you are stuck in a rut & are looking to try new ways to network. These apply to any industry, but I'll be sharing ways to do this specifically in the wedding industry.

1. SERVE OTHERS FREELY - “The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage.” -Dale C arnegie

If you are just starting out, consider collaborating with another business for free on a project you really love. If there isn't another business you want to partner up with for a project, consider doing a creative project with individuals who are your "dream clients". As a photographer that can be something as simple as hosting a styled shoot or mini portrait session. 

I believe there is a distinct difference between working for free without specific intentions and making a creative investment to grow your portfolio & your "friendwork" for free. If you are afraid of being taken advantage of, work on a project you truly love & believe in, then put stipulations on the exchange of work. I don't suggest offering endless amounts of free projects, but put your energy into at least one passion project that can propel you & your business forward.

2. MAKE AN INTERNET FRIEND A REAL FRIEND: GRAB COFFEE OR DRINKS!

Social media is meant to be social, but I find that we sometimes forget that there is a much deeper way to connect with others, oppose to emojis & likes. Offer to get drinks with & for someone whose work you admire. If meeting up in person isn't possible, meet on Facetime or Skype! 

If there is a topic or something specific you are dying to ask another business owner, be honest & make your request known. Most people can see right through hidden intentions if you don't verbalize it with honesty that you'd love their sage advice because you respect & admire them. If you simply want to connect & become friends, share that intention too.

Last year I hired business coaches & an online friend reached out about my experience, so we Skyped & talked through my awesome experience, thus solidified an even sweeter friendship in the process.

Is it me or is making friends/networking is a lot like dating?

3. FIND AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP A STRANGER/FELLOW CREATIVE IN NEED

Ever see people post on social media asking for help? Find a way to help someone you don't know, but you want to know & again, do it with a genuine heart to help. On Instagram Live I shared how I offered to help a fellow photographer in need because she posted an SOS on social media, and that connection led to 8 weddings in the last 7 years.

Helping might not mean doing physical labor or offering your services, it might be something as simple as sharing some encouraging words. You never know until you try.

4. PROMOTE SOMEONE ELSE ONLINE, JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN

When's the last time you promoted someone else's business on your Facebook feed or Instagram, and not your own business? How would you feel if another professional promoted your work on their social media accounts or even promoted you on their website? You'd most likely feel loved & encouraged that your first reaction would be to promote them right back, am I right?

It's the gift that keeps on giving. If you are on Instagram, join in on the love & do a Follow Friday post where you share a few other instagram accounts you follow & want others to know about. Heck, you don't even have to wait until Friday ... share the love anytime! Or do a blog giveaway for products or services you love from other businesses. I've seen some Cinderella, collaboration stories come to life from people avidly posting about businesses they love, Like this!

Disclaimer: I'm not talking about any of that "follow for follow" or "like for like" business. That doesn't build authentic friendships, my friends! Sow love & you might just reap it in return.

5. ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS & "friendwork" your guts out

This is SUPER obvious, but I'm surprised that so many people don't or haven't gone to any networking events for their industry. Are there any local events that are happening in your industry? Sign up & bring a trusted friend with you for added insurance that you will have a great time regardless of how new connections you may or may not make. 

You don't get better at making new friends if you don't have new people to make friends with. Simple as that.

Before I go here's one last great resource in learning to network & make friends:
 Dale Carnegie's book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Was this helplful any or want more tips? Let me know in the comments below. I love having your feedback & I hope your "friendwork" grows because of this!