Anji Monique Photography: Blog http://anjimonique.com/blog en-us (C) 2009-2017 Anji Monique Photography info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Tue, 06 Feb 2018 18:31:00 GMT Tue, 06 Feb 2018 18:31:00 GMT http://anjimonique.com/img/s/v-5/u551874444-o623566630-50.jpg Anji Monique Photography: Blog http://anjimonique.com/blog 86 120 To Have An Unplugged Ceremony or Not To Have An Unplugged Ceremony..... http://anjimonique.com/blog/2018/2/to-have-an-unplugged-ceremony-or-not-to-have-an-unplugged-ceremony Me, early 2018: I'm going to write a blog post once a week for 2018!

Also me: Holy cow, it's already February?????

 

To Have an Unplugged Ceremony or Not to Have an Unplugged Ceremony?

(one of two Unplugged signs from a wedding I photographed in Florida)

  So let's talk about the Unplugged Ceremony. The goods. The bads. The in-betweens. And things that guests should consider when attending a wedding ceremony.

 First, what is an Unplugged Ceremony?

  An "unplugged ceremony" is when a couple that is getting married requests that guests refrain from using cellphones, pads, and cameras during their ceremony. The general rule of thumb is that a sign is posted and/or the wedding officiant will make a request to the guests to put away their devices and stay present in the ceremony. The goal for most is to have their guests there with them watching the event unfold without having their eyes glued to a device. It also intended to keep the pictures clean for the photographer who isn't having to contend with Aunt Elisa's giant hulking iPad sticking out into the aisle during the kiss. But let's talk more about that with the pro's.

Pro's of having an Unplugged Ceremony

  As mentioned above, there are reasons for why couples regularly request their ceremonies be unplugged.

1. Guests are actively present in the experience. The couple invited their guests to be there with them, to watch them exchange vows. They didn't ask their guests to be there to take their pictures, that's why they hired a professional photographer. It's hard to be present and enjoy an experience when your eyes are glued to a screen.

2. Guests' cellphones and pads and cameras can be a huge distraction to other guests who are there trying to watch the wedding take place.

3. Guests sometimes don't realize they're in the way of the photographer who is behind them taking a picture of a key moment, like that first kiss as a married couple. Nothing ruins an image faster than sticking your hand out into the aisle to get a picture with your device and blocking the view of the hired professional. And short of yelling at you from their position or running down the aisle and drop kicking your phone from your hand and creating a scene, there's nothing the hired professional can do and now the couple doesn't have the image they paid the professional to take, and it's not the professional's fault.

 

And now, the con's of an Unplugged Ceremony

  As with anything, there's also potential con's to unplugged ceremonies.

1. IF the couple hired an inexperienced photographer who isn't familiar with their camera or exposure and the images come out awful, the couple does not have any back-up images of their ceremony. Or if the photographer's memory card fails or their equipment fails, or something happens and the images can't be delivered (this is another blog post in the making on why it's important to hire a legitimate professional if you can afford it). No matter the reasons, the couple doesn't have pictures of their ceremony.

2. A photographer cannot be everywhere at once and sometimes it's nice to have multiple viewpoints, especially if the couple only hired a company with one photographer. (This is actually why I include a second photographer in all of my packages)

 

So you're attending an unplugged ceremony....

  As a guest how can you honor their request? Silence your cellphones and put your devices away. Respect their wishes. Whatever you do, don't be that person who ignores the request. No matter how well intended you may be, it's really rude.

 

But what if you're attending a ceremony that isn't unplugged?

  As a guest, here are some considerations you should keep in mind so you aren't hindering the hired professional and you aren't blocking the view of other guests.

1. Try to sit in the back or off to the side so the light from your screen isn't distracting other guests and you aren't blocking anyone's view from behind you. ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A LARGE PAD you're recording with. By sitting in the back, you can raise your device a little higher without ruining anyone's view or distracting them with a glowing screen while also getting a nice "audience viewpoint". Alternatively, shooting between the heads in front of you will frame an image nicely, but you'll want to keep your device low at shoulder level to achieve this look and get nice results.

2. TURN OFF YOUR FLASH completely. All your camera/phone/pad flash will do is light up the backs of the heads in front of you and darken everything else. You're much better off without it, trust me. Plus, it's incredibly distracting to everyone else and in some places, flash photography is banned.

3. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES put your phone or device anywhere near the aisle. Don't do it. If you want to get the bride walking down the aisle, keep your device close to your body and follow her as she passes you so you aren't accidentally blocking the hired professional's view, who may be shooting down the aisle.

4. Just be mindful of your place in the audience and considerate of other guests and the hired professional.

 

Can you think of any other tips to add? Let me know!

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) anji monique photography ceremony guest photography pictures unplugged unplugged ceremony wedding wedding photography http://anjimonique.com/blog/2018/2/to-have-an-unplugged-ceremony-or-not-to-have-an-unplugged-ceremony Tue, 06 Feb 2018 18:28:54 GMT
Two Things My Ideal Client Has http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/12/two-things-my-ideal-client-has   Ivana & Phil engagements, wedding September 28, 2018 at Mill Creek Barn in Watervliet, Michigan.

 

  The year 2017 has been a year of growth for both myself as a person, and for my business. It's also the year I chose to join a professional business network, aptly named Business Networking International (or BNI for short), which helped me to focus on several key business points that I either hadn't considered in the past, or hadn't put as much focus on as I should have.

  Almost all of my business is through word-of-mouth referrals from past clients, vendors I've worked with, or people who have followed my work or saw me published somewhere. I do not pay to advertise, nor do I pay anyone to refer me or offer any kickback for referring me. I take a little bit of pride in this, because it means whoever referred me, referred me of their own accord--and most likely based on the quality of my work and the service I provide. Happy people refer you to others and I like to make sure my clients are happy.

  That said, I do get several inquiries a week via e-mail, phone call, and social media. I try my hardest to respond to everyone who reaches out to me. But I felt maybe this would make for a good blog post, to point out two key points that I look for when connecting with a potential client to see if they are a good fit for me, as well as me being a good fit for them.

 

 

Kriss & Brad wedding at they CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

What I Look For in My Ideal Client

 

1. My Ideal Client will take the initiative.

 

  I sometimes explain it with "I don't chase clients." To understand this, let's talk about value. Value is what we decide to place priority in. A client who values me is looking for me.

  More importantly, they value themselves and don't want to waste their time unnecessarily chasing the wrong people. They've done their homework. They've asked their friends and family for referrals, they've asked vendors, they've looked at websites and figured out who they want to connect with. They have an idea of what they're looking for and they come to me to see if I will fit their expectations.

  So my ideal client isn't floating along, unsure of the direction they want to go. That is someone who needs to be sold to and that's not what I like to focus my time and energy on.

  Likewise, just as I don't chase potential clients to reach out to me, I also don't chase potential clients to follow up and book me. Take the following analogy, two people go on a date. Everything seems to be going well and the future seems promising. But at the end the gentleman says "I'll call you." We all know where that usually goes.

  My ideal client is the gentleman at the end of the date who says "I'd like to see you again," and follows up by setting up another date.

  I am confident in my abilities and what I have to offer, and my ideal client will not want to risk losing their opportunity with me by dragging their feet.

 

Samantha & Evan, engagements. Wedding to come, June 16, 2018 at Blue Dress Barn in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

2. My Ideal Client takes a sense of pride in being able to afford me.

 

  I can usually tell what direction a client inquiry will go based on their first 3 sentences. If the first thing a client asks is about my pricing, I know they aren't likely to be a good fit for me because this is a person who values price before quality.

  With my average local wedding price at around $3,000 usd, I am not a budget photographer. I am a professional business that carries a cost of doing business to provide a service--often called "overhead"--and I also limit how many weddings I will take on in a year so I can still maintain the high quality imagery and care my clients have come to love. This is reflected in my prices.

  While I am not against educating the public and others who are looking into going into business about how to price for profit, I do take issue when I have to validate my business and why I'm priced where I am to a potential client. That is not someone who values what I provide. That is not my ideal client.

  My ideal client values quality before price. As I said in point 1, my ideal client has already looked at my website and checked my portfolio and reviews, and while doing so would notice my prices published on my website. So they've done their homework and they know what it costs to hire me.

  The client that usually hires me is someone who reaches out and tells me how they found me and what they're looking for, and asks if I'm available for their wedding date. There's rarely a mention of pricing in that first inquiry.

 

Dawn & Rich Wedding at Venture Pines Cottage, a private estate overlooking Lake Michigan in Holland, Michigan

 

  I'd love to hear from you!

  I've made it my resolution for 2018 to blog at least once a week on a topic of interest in the photography industry for both other professionals, and the general public. If you think of something you'd like me to bring up in a blog, please e-mail me at blog@anjimonique.com. I'm always interested in hearing what people want to know more about!

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) anji monique photography booking client photography pictures pricing value wedding wedding photography http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/12/two-things-my-ideal-client-has Thu, 21 Dec 2017 16:39:29 GMT
Stonegate Manor Stylized Wedding Photoshoot http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/8/stonegate-manor-stylized-wedding-photoshoot Love's Gentle Kissphotography by Anji Monique Photography

Love & Lace at Stonegate Manor

I follow a lot of the online wedding planning pages that prospective couples use to communicate with each other about their planning process and experiences with vendors. One of the most common issues I saw was (usually brides) trying to locate vendors local to them that maybe weren't the most popular because they wanted something different from everyone else. They wanted options and they didn't want to have to drive all over to get their needs met.

Stylized shoots happen all the time and a lot of them will use some local vendors but I noticed a lot of overlapping, using the same vendors and models across multiple shoots and most of them were already well-known vendors in their area. If brides are wanting options, then they want to see some of the lesser-known vendors.

What if I created a stylized shoot that did just that? What if I was able to put together a wedding using only local small business wedding vendors? What if I showed couples the options they're looking for? An idea was born--or should I say, a Stylized Shoot was born.

Figuring I would start local with Southwest Michigan since it's a popular destination wedding spot with our rolling hills and vineyards and forests and beaches, I connected with Gretta Volkenstein, marketing director of Stonegate Manor, after seeing her post on Facebook about a venue that was opening in the area. I told her about my idea and she loved it so I made an appointment to come out and see the venue and hear more about it.

I was blown away with how gorgeous the location was! Tucked away in the countryside and surrounded by lush green trees and sprawling lawns, is a Victorian era mansion that once belonged to the Siriano family and is considered a local Historic Landmark.

 

 

Stonegate Manor's Manor HouseStonegate Manor's Manor House, now a Bed and Breakfast photography by Anji Monique Photography

 

 

Stonegate Manor Manor House view from the Riverside Roomphotography by Anji Monique Photography Originally one of the largest cherry farms in Berrien County, the property began when it was purchased and farmed by the Dickinson family in 1830. They eventually turned it into their homestead, adding a tiny farmhouse in 1847 with gas lighting and no electricity or running water. Over time, more was built onto the home with electricity and running water added by 1890.

Eventually the home was abandoned for 40 years and fell into a state of disrepair. Scheduled for demolition, Patsy Siriano discovered the property and acquired it before it ended up with Chris Siriano, a local historian with the House of David museum and a realtor, who lived on the property with his children and began the work of restoring the home to its former glory.

 

 

Over the next 30 years, Chris would add more incredible features to what is now called The Manor House, including the three story turret you can see from the front of the house, as well as an adjoining wing addition to the original Victorian home.

Inside the Manor House, now a Bed and Breakfast, Chris added three ornate fireplaces, carved columns and accents, elaborate tin ceilings, to name a few.

Chris took the existing carriage house and completely remodeled it into what is now used as the Bridal Cottage where brides and their bridesmaids can get ready surrounded by Victorian inspired furnishings and modern comforts.

 

 

 

...more pictures from Stonegate Manor...

The Riverside Room was built by Chris for his House of David Museum and is now used for wedding and event receptions. Able to accommodate groups of 175, the reception hall showcases several floor length windows and french doors that open onto the long sweeping covered porch where guests can wander for fresh air or just to relax away from the music and dancing. At night, the porch lights up with twinkling white lights for a soft, romantic touch.

 

So join our bride Devyn Roberts and groom Matthew Rubley as we take you on their Love Story at Stonegate Manor!

 

 

 

Ceremony Sites at Stonegate Manor

The Pergola

 

The Fairy Garden

 

Wedding Gown & Tux

Bridal Gown & Suit provided by Wedding Belles Bridal Salon in Stevensville

Bridal Gown, Veil, and Accessory Sash from Wedding Belles Bridal Salon

 

Hair Stylist

Bridal Hair styled by Elizabeth Eggert of Robert Michael Salon & Spa

located in Watervliet

 

Makeup Artistry

Lexi Pollock - Makeup Artist from Buchanan

 

Wedding Jewelry

custom Wedding Bands designed by Jewelfire Diamond Center in St. Joseph

 

bridal jewelry designed by M's Jemz Bead Shoppe in St. Joseph

matching necklace, earrings, and bracelet set

 

Bridal Bouquet & Boutonniere

provided by Sandy's Floral Boutique in Buchanan

 

Cake Designed by With Love Cupcakes and Cakes from Buchanan

 

Table Bouquet and Arch Bouquets from Crystal Springs Florist in Benton Harbor

 

Furniture & Accessory Rentals by Celery City Trading Company

from Decatur, delivery available

 

Menu Design by Maxon Graphix, LLC from St. Joseph

dinner menu items available with CK Catering from Benton Harbor

 

View the Entire Gallery!

 

 

 

 

 

Complete List of Vendors and Contact Information:

 

Wedding Venue Location

Stonegate Manor

Prudy Nelson - Owner

2251 Riverside Road

Benton Harbor, Mi 49022

269-930-0617

http://stonegatemanorevents.com/

 

 

Models

Devyn Lenae Roberts & Matthew Rubley

 

 

Hair

Elizabeth Eggert with Robert Michael Salon & Spa

324 N Main Street

Watervliet, Mi 49098

269-463-3200

 

 

Makeup

Lexi Pollock Makeup Artist

Lexi Pollock

Autumn Moon Hollow Salon and Spa

105 E. Front Street

Buchanan, Mi 49107

269-697-3629

lexipollockmua@gmail.com

 

 

Wedding Gown & Suit/Tux Rentals

Wedding Belles Bridal Salon

Patty Sanders - Owner

4209 Red Arrow Highway

Stevensville, Mi  49127

269-429-7518

http://www.weddingbellesbridalsalon.com/

 

 

Engagement and Wedding Bands

Jewelfire Diamond Center

420 State Street

Saint Joseph, Mi 49085
269-983-6111
Jewelfiredimondcenter@gmail.com

 

Bridal Jewelry

M's Jemz Bead Shoppe

Miranda Skibbe - Owner
269-313-0697
https://facebook.com/MsJemz/
msjemz@gmail.com

 

 

Bridal Bouquet and Boutonniere

Sandy's Floral Boutique

Sandy Huyvvaert - Owner

105 Days Avenue

Buchanan, Mi 49107

269-409-8358

www.sandysfloral.net

s.huyvaert@comcast.net

 

 

Cake Design

With Love Cupcakes and Cakes

Jessica Paskiet - owner

3106 Hilltop Drive

Buchanan, Mi 49107

269-357-4459
http://withlovecupcakesan.wixsite.com/site
withlove.cupcakesandcakes@yahoo.com

 

 

Table Bouquet and Arch Bouquets

Crystal Springs Florist

Shaya Sherwood - Wedding Consultant/Designer

1475 Pipestone Road

Benton Harbor, Mi 49022

269-925-1167

http://www.crystalspringsflorist.net

crystalspringsflorist@yahoo.com

 

 

Furniture & Props Rentals

Celery City Trading Company

Jennifer Northrup & Amy Rose - Owners

41110 80th Avenue

Decatur, Mi 49045

*Delivery Available*

269-423-8260

www.celerycitytrading.com

jennifer@celerycitytrading.com

amy@celerycitytrading.com

 

Stonegate Boutique

(available for use at Stonegate Manor)

 

 

Menu Design

Robin Maxon with Maxon Graphix, LLC and Robin Maxon Watercolors

St. Joseph, Mi 49085

http://www.robinmaxon.com

 

 

Reception Menu Items

CK Catering

2430 Plaza Drive

Benton Harbor, Mi 49022

269-849-0693

http://www.ckcatering.biz/

ckcateringstaff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) anji monique photography bridal bride couples groom love michigan photography pictures portraits stonegate manor venue wedding wedding photography wedding vendor http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/8/stonegate-manor-stylized-wedding-photoshoot Wed, 09 Aug 2017 14:55:39 GMT
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer PART 2 http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/4/things-to-consider-when-choosing-your-wedding-photographer-part-2  

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer - Part 2

 

Unsure where to start? Check out the First part of this series,

Congratulations, you're engaged! Now what?

 

 

3 - 2 - 1, First Contact!

Congrats, you've done your homework and now you're ready to start contacting those photographers on your list!

One. E-mail Contact Request.

The first step I recommend is an email to establish your paper trail. I'd suggest sending each photographer a contact request with your name, contact information, and wedding date and venue location(s). I suppose it should go without saying, hold off on contacting vendors until you've secured your venue because until you have your venue, you really don't know what your date will be. By having a solid date, you can narrow down your selection to those photographers who are available.

Once you've sent the email, I'd suggest waiting 24 to 48 hours to give them a chance to respond. If the photographer does respond favorably by email (they're available!), see if you can set up a scheduled time for a consultation or phone interview. If they aren't available on your date, strike them off your list and move on. Most photography businesses (myself included) want to connect with you and will generally respond to you within that first day, but please keep in mind that we are not 24/7 machines. We usually work weekends and will sometimes take a weekday off to rest the mind and body and refresh or spend time with our loved ones. So don't be discouraged if you don't hear back right away. That's why a follow-up call is great to do if you don't hear back from someone.

 

 

Two. The Follow-Up Call.

After waiting a day or two, now would be a great time to do a follow-up call to those photographers who haven't responded. A follow-up call can go one of two ways. One, you get their voicemail or answering machine. I'd suggest leaving a message like "Hi, XXX, this is XXX. I sent you an email on XXX about my wedding on XXX at XXX. I wasn't sure if you got it, but I'd love to see if you're available and if we can chat! My phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX and the best time to reach me is XXX." Remember to speak clearly and repeat your name and phone number back at the very end of your message, in case the first time was hard to hear for any reason.

Again, don't be discouraged if get their voicemail. I tend to keep my phone on silent because I can't tell you how many times I've been scared half to death in the middle of an edit, darn near jumped out of my skin, and had to start over. Plus, I like to give potential clients my undivided attention and that includes being in a quiet area where I can be ready to answer your questions. I also don't answer calls when I am driving (for obvious reasons) or when I'm in the middle of dinner or at a child's school event. But I do check my messages often and I return calls promptly, even if I'm not available for a date.

Sometimes you may actually get a hold of the photographer on your follow-up call and can find out if they're available immediately. If the photographer DOES answer your follow-up call, please DO NOT take this as an opportunity to jump into a consultation interview. Think back to high school when your teacher caught you off guard with a pop quiz you weren't prepared for - it's a similar reaction. Most of us understand that this is a huge investment for you and know you deserve to have our full attention, free of distractions. So instead, use this call as an opportunity to give your contact information across and ask to set up a more formal consultation at a later time or date. This could be just a few moments to give the photographer a chance to gather necessary materials before calling you back, or it could be another day when you are both able to talk.

 

 

Three. Schedule a Consultation.

While I don't advise waiting too long to book your photographer, I do suggest taking your time to thoroughly vet your options. I'd suggest setting aside a week's time to interview potential photographers and consider how you feel about your different options before making a choice. Unless  you're just really excited and know without a single doubt that this is your photographer. In that case, you may want to nail them down yesterday! But for the rest of us who may not know without a doubt who we want, it's time to start preparing for the consultation.

 

Stay tuned for my next blog post, Your Consultation


 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Anji Monique Photography bride couples how to how to find a wedding photographer love photography pictures tips wedding wedding tips wedding vendor http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/4/things-to-consider-when-choosing-your-wedding-photographer-part-2 Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:30:00 GMT
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer PART 1 http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/4/things-to-consider-when-choosing-your-wedding-photographer-part-1  

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer - Part 1

 

 

Congratulations, you're engaged! Now what?

Well, like most engaged couples who are planning their wedding, you're going to want to find your perfect venue and secure it so you have a formal wedding date to work with. Once you've done that, it's time to find a Wedding Photographer. Lucky for you, there is a plethora of services out there for couples to utilize that help put a wide range of wedding vendors in a single location, both virtually (online) and literally (think local Bridal Shows) so that you can easily view their portfolios, pricing, products, and get a general feel for who they are without a commitment.

Some great sites for researching vendors include:

Wedding.com

WeddingWire

TheKnot

and there's always a Google keyword search!

 

Whatever method you choose, PLEASE narrow down your choices and research them before you contact them.

Why? Because I can't tell you how often I get random emails and text messages from a prospective client saying "please tell me more" or "I'd like to know more about pricing." That is so vague, I have no idea where to even begin because I have no clue what it is about me, my business, or pricing you'd like to know. Not to mention, I know that all of this can be found readily on my website so that tells me they haven't looked at my website so they probably don't even know what kind of work I do. This is not the time to be lazy with your research. This is an important investment and just as you want to invest your money in the right photographer, as a photographer, I want to invest my time in the right couple. So whatever you do, please make sure you aren't asking vague questions in your first contact that are easily answerable on their website.

Additionally, doing your research before opening up contact helps you better prepare yourself and narrows down how many emails and phone calls you're going to have to make which can save you valuable time in the long run. Treat it like you're window shopping so you can study and compare features and then narrow down to what you want, and then go into the store when you're actually ready to buy. This way you can avoid getting trapped into buying or committing to something you don't actually want or can't afford just because you weren't prepared and you got caught up in the moment. So do yourself a favor and hold off on contacting anyone until you've gone through the following steps...

 

 

First. Determine your budget.

Before you even begin to look for a wedding photographer, you need to know how much you feel comfortable spending on a photographer. For most people, wedding photography is an investment and can take up a significant portion of their wedding budget - as much as 12% [for both photographic and videography services], according to the WeddingWire Budget Guide 2017. But you may find yourself spending more, or less, depending on your individual needs and wants.

I suggest finding out your total wedding budget and then configuring two separate budgets for your photography and videography services since not all companies provide both services and this helps give you a clearer idea of how much you're able to spend for each. I also recommend you leave yourself a little cushion to negotiate with, in case you find the photographer of your dreams but they're slightly above your comfortable budget or you want to add services to a photographer's package. So have an ideal budget that you're comfortable with, and then a max budget that you don't go over.

Please Note: If you are a low budget bride and are willing to take a risk, then I suggest checking some of your local colleges and photography clubs to see if anyone is willing to do your wedding for a lower price to help their portfolio. While this carries its own risks (and your photographer is usually not licensed, insured, or experienced) you could also get lucky and find someone naturally talented. It's a gamble but I understand not everyone has a large budget available. Even if you go with a relative no-namer/unknown, the following tips may still be of use to you.

 

 

Second. Options. Options. And More Options.

NEEDS vs WANTS

It's time to sit down and figure out what you're actually looking for - what you need, verses what you want. I'd like for you to take out a piece of paper and write down a few things for me. This will help you figure out what kind of coverage and products you'd like to be covered by your eventual photographer.

1. How long will you need coverage for? The average wedding is 8 hours from the getting ready to the send-off. Overestimate how much time you will need. It's better to plan to use them for 8 hours and only use 6 than it is to say you need 6 hours and you actually need 8. Please don't assume that your photographer will stay longer for free.

2. Do you need additional services beyond just wedding photography? Do you want an engagement session? A bridal shoot? A bridal boudoir shoot?

3. What kind of editing will you want done? Photography portfolios are typically a collection of a photographers best works. Those images you see are often edited. Don't assume that your photographer includes this editing automatically in every package, it's often a representation of what you could get but could cost extra. So figure out what kind of editing you are going to want done.

4. What kind of products do you want?  Do you want albums? Do you want physical prints? Do you want digital prints with a reprint release so you can self print? Do you want an online gallery? Figure out what you want to be included in your budget.

5. If you're getting digital images, how will you want your digital images delivered? Do you want a physical DVD or flash drive of your images or are you okay with downloading your images directly from your photographer to your computer?

Now on a separate piece of paper, write a line down the middle and on one side, write NEEDS and on the other, WANTS. From each question above, write down what is an actual need, and what is an actual want. Do you need 6 hours but would like 8? Write "6 hours of coverage" under NEEDS and "8 hours of coverage" under WANTS. Do you need an Engagement Session or is it something you want, but could live without? Write it under the appropriate category. Do this for each item and anything else you can think of that may be a need or a want.

This will help you later when it comes time to look at pricing and potential negotiations.

 

 

Third. Show me that STYLE!

So you've got a budget and an idea of what kind of options you want, now what? Well, now you need to determine what kind of photography style you want your Wedding Day images to look like? Do you like bold colors and dramatic light? Do you like the soft and light look of film style? Do you like the somewhat brooding look that's very trendy right now? Whatever it is you like, try to keep that in mind when you begin reviewing photographers' portfolios. Stick to photographers with portfolio images that embody the style you like and write down their contact information and website addresses for further research. Please be realistic, though. If you want natural light photography but are having a nighttime wedding or indoor reception, you may have a problem.

Side note: As for Lifestyle photography, let's assume for all intents and purposes that weddings are a Lifestyle event. The vast majority of images will be purely candid with a few posed images thrown in for good measure.

 

 

Fourth. Packages and Pricing.

So you've got your list of photographers you've written down after viewing their portfolio and you've got your list of things you want to look for in their packages (NEEDS vs WANTS), so now it's time to look at pricing!

I suggest a notepad or notebook for this part. Give yourself plenty of writing room for note-taking. On every-other-page or so, write the name of a photographer/company at the top, along with their contact info so it's easy to locate.

Now, go to each photographer's website and check to see if they have their pricing/packages listed. Figure out the photographers who have packages that fall within your budget AND cover your list of needs (bonus if they cover your wants, too!!!). Strike photographers off the list who are way beyond your budget. If you have a photographer you like but they're just a little above your budget, you can choose to keep them on the list to contact in case they are willing to negotiate their package with you. This is where the NEEDS vs WANTS tally comes in super handy. I'll talk more about that later in a future blog post on Your Consultation.

Now you should have a narrowed down selection of photographers who have both a style you like and are within your budget range and cover the services you need. IF YOU FIND YOURSELF WITHOUT ANY CHOICES, it is time to determine if you may be unrealistic with your expectations vs your budget. You can't expect a $10,000 wedding photographer and all that includes, on a $1,000 photography budget. You will need to be realistic with yourself and either lower your expectations to fit into your current budget; or raise your budget to fit your expectations better.

Congrats, you've done your homework and now you're ready to start contacting those photographers on your list!

 

Stay tuned for my next blog post on 3 - 2 - 1 First Contact!

 


 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Anji Monique Photography bride couples how to how to find a wedding photographer love photography pictures tips wedding wedding tips wedding vendor http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/4/things-to-consider-when-choosing-your-wedding-photographer-part-1 Wed, 19 Apr 2017 21:15:21 GMT
A Harry Potter Themed Wedding http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/4/a-harry-potter-themed-wedding When two ultimate Harry Potter fans decide to commit their lives together, what do you think their wedding will be like?

A HARRY POTTER themed wedding, of course!

What better way to combine your love for each other and your shared interest than to put together a unique wedding day for all to enjoy!

Photographic Services by Anji Monique Photography (as featured on WeddingSite's Bride Magazine)

detailed vendor list below

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography.

Photography

Anji Monique Photography (Angela Jones and Justin Johnston)

Venue

Estate on the Halifax in Port Orange, Florida

Bridal Gown

Solutions Bridal in Orlando, Designed by Mariska K

Bridesmaid Dresses

Bill Levkoff

Tuxes

Men's Wearhouse

Flowers

SongsFromTheGarden shop on Etsy

Cake

Cakery Creations in Daytona Beach (Liz, as featured and winner of Cupcake Wars)

Champagne Flutes

Things Remembered (online)

Decorations assembled by the Bride & Groom, family, and wedding party

 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Anji Monique Photography DIY DIY bride DIY wedding Harry Potter bride cake flowers groom inspiration photography pictures themed themed wedding vendor venue wedding wedding inspiration http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/4/a-harry-potter-themed-wedding Thu, 13 Apr 2017 00:25:41 GMT
Planning Your Own Wedding? http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/3/planning-your-own-wedding Are you planning your own wedding? Here's a few books I highly recommend to help get you started and keep you on track!

 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) DIY books bride creative guide love materials planning reading resource wedding wedding planning http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/3/planning-your-own-wedding Fri, 24 Mar 2017 21:50:19 GMT
{Laura+Justin} Wedding Sneak Peak http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/3/-laura-justin-wedding-sneak-peak Enjoy this sneak peak from Laura and Justin's wedding from February 25th, 2017 in Titusville, Florida!

Location(s):

Ceremony: Titusville Garden Club (Titusville, Florida)

Reception: Knights of Columbus Hall (Titusville, Florida)

Photography by Anji Monique Photography

Lead Shooter: Angela Jones

Second Shooter: Justin Johnston

Wedding Coordinator & Florist: Susan Erlanbach of What Really Matters, Inc

Officiant: Brenda Barton

Cake Artist: Brenda Barton of Moments to Remember

DJ/Music provided by Complete Music

Make-Up Artist: Tenacious Glam

Hair Artist: Samantha

Bridal Wear and Tuxes from Aurora Unique Bridal

Bridal Gown Designed by David Tutera

Stationary by The American Wedding on Etsy

 

 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Anji Monique Photography Florida L o V E Photography Titusville bride family groom love photography pictures reception sneak peak wedding wedding photography http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/3/-laura-justin-wedding-sneak-peak Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:26:39 GMT
Why is Wedding Photography an Investment? http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/3/why-is-wedding-photography-an-investment  

Why is wedding photography an Investment and why is it important?

 

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

 

Weddings are expensive when you consider how much time and money is poured into an event that will last (generally) a day. Almost everything involved will only be used or worn or experienced for that one day. If you sit down and think about how much money you're investing in: a venue, catering for a meal, alcohol if you're serving adult beverages, music and entertainment, the dress, the cake, the flowers, the tiny tokens of appreciation for your guests..... it adds up pretty fast.

 

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

 

Additionally, on your wedding day you're experiencing things through your eyes. You don't get the see the way your dress sweeps across the dance floor when your husband spins you during your first dance. You don't get to see the huge smile on your face when your new husband goes in for the garter.

 

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography.

 

And then there's the memories. Wouldn't  you rather have something to look at, to remind you of the cake and flowers and the smiles on your guests' faces? Your photographer is who makes that single day turn into tangible memories you and your guests can look back on for years--often generations--to come. It's how your mother shows her co-workers how stunning her daughter looked walking down the aisle. Or how your future grandchildren get to see the look on their grandfather's face when he first laid eyes on his beautiful bride. It's how you look at a picture and it takes you back 20 years and you laugh as you remember the tussle that went down over the bouquet toss.

 

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography.

 

This is more than just pictures. This is your love story that you get to re-live over and over.

 

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible. Edited by Angela Jones of Anji Monique Photography.

 

Don't you think it's worth the investment?

Let us know in the comments!

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Anji Monique Photography cost investment memories pictures wedding wedding photography http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/3/why-is-wedding-photography-an-investment Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:46:18 GMT
Happiness is a Lifetime of Love & Togetherness - Ortel Wedding http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/1/happiness-is-a-lifetime-of-love-togetherness---ortel-wedding As the sun started to set on the banks of the Peace River, Erika and Mark exchanged vows to join together and love and cherish one another while their young son watched on with his grandparents and their guests.

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

The morning and early afternoon as the bride and groom prepared with their wedding party had been rainy and windy and overcast, leaving many of us to question whether the ceremony was going to be held indoors or outdoors as originally planned. Thankfully about a half hour before the ceremony was set to start, the sun broke through the clouds with a beautiful display of warm colors as if to bless the new family's wedding day.

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

Every last detail was beautifully arranged, from the dress to the flowers to the table arrangements.

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

Their day was all together a glorious celebration spent with the closest family and friends.

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. As the day came to a close, the newlyweds and their guests released lanterns over the River.

Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Justin Credible Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography. Wedding Collaboration, Main Shooter: Anji Monique Photography. Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography. Photos by Anji Monique Photography, Edited by Anji Monique Photography.

Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club on January 7, 2017 in Port Charlotte, Florida.

First/Lead Shooter: Anji Monique Photography

Second Shooter: Justin Credible Photography

Edits: Anji Monique Photography

To view the full gallery: {Erika+Mark}

 

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Anji Monique Photography Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club Erika Ernst Erika Ortel Mark Ortel Ortel Port Charlotte family florida friends love marriage ortelwedding photography vows wedding wedding photography http://anjimonique.com/blog/2017/1/happiness-is-a-lifetime-of-love-togetherness---ortel-wedding Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:13:23 GMT
New Wedding Venue in Southwest Michigan http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/9/new-wedding-venue-in-southwest-michigan Nestled in the heart of Southwest Michigan's premier Wine Country is what one Michigan family hopes to be the next biggest thing to hit the wedding venue scene. Dan Nitz and his daughter Ashley have been working together with their family to create what promises to be *the* place to get married at in Berrien Springs, Michigan with plans to be open and operating in the spring of 2017.

I don't want to give away too much, but I can tell you with certainty their vision has me incredibly excited to be partnering with them as their preferred Wedding Photographer. If you'd like to inquire about booking your wedding at their venue, please contact Ashley at 269-363-3234.


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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Ashley Nitz Dan Nitz Nitz barn berrien springs country grapes michigan photography rustic southwest venue vineyard wedding http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/9/new-wedding-venue-in-southwest-michigan Wed, 07 Sep 2016 21:38:03 GMT
Samantha M. 2017 High School Senior Portraits http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/9/samantha-m-2017-high-school-senior-portraits I'd like to introduce you to Samantha, or Sam as she likes to be called. Sam is a class of 2017 high school senior at Lakeshore Public Schools' in Stevensville, Michigan.

In addition to school, this vivacious young lady works at Domino's Pizza and in her free time enjoys hanging out with her little brother and her friends and watching movies. Her interests include racing, music, and traveling. After graduating, Sam hopes to move to Nevada to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas to pursue a degree in criminal justice, child counseling, or animal protection services.

Sam was an absolute delight to work with and really enjoyed living it up in front of the camera with her pint-sized pooch. We did her portraits at Riverview Park in St. Joseph as the sun was dipping low so the light was very warm.

If you are a high school senior in Southwest Michigan and would like to have your senior portraits done, contact me for the current Senior Session  special.


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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Lakeshore Michigan Morris Riverview Park Saint Joseph Sam Samantha St Joseph Stevensville high school park photography pictures portraits school senior southwest http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/9/samantha-m-2017-high-school-senior-portraits Wed, 07 Sep 2016 19:18:47 GMT
An Adventuring We Go http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/8/an-adventuring-we-go They say you never really know someone until you've traveled with them. Well, for anyone who has ever had the "pleasure" of traveling with me, they know that I'm not the kind of person who wants to just sit around the hotel room ordering room service and watching pay-per-view movies on the television. I. Want. Adventure. I crave adventure. I want to do all of the things.

One such adventure took place last weekend with a road trip with two of my very close friends to Wellston, Michigan where we planned to kayak the Pine River. Starting off, all I knew was we had a cabin and we were going kayaking at some point--in other words, lots of wiggle room to explore. I don't even know how to put into words just how great that weekend was, but I'll try.

We arrived at our cabin Thursday afternoon, too late to start kayaking due to time restrictions from the park service, so we opted instead to go exploring. Since the three of us like craft beer and since none of us had been to Traverse City, we headed out on the first leg of our adventure: to try as many of the local Traverse City breweries as we could fit in that night. I'll just say we did pretty good for ourselves. But the best part of that night was being treated to one of the most brilliant displays of stars that I have ever seen. I'm not even able to fully describe how clear the sky was. Like, the kind of clear that I've never in my life seen before. And OH MY GOSH, the Milky Way! It stretched across the skyline from horizon to horizon! It was awe-inspiring but sadly I forgot my tripod in Florida, so no pictures to show. Boo.

Anyway, day two found us waking up at a decent time to head out and wrangle ourselves up some kayaks. So the three of us embarked on what I'd like to call a pretty awesome kayaking expedition that included lots of rocks, lots of rapids, lots of sun, and lots of fun. We did make a stop at the infamous Moon Mountain (a giant dune on the river with a steep incline dubbed by my friends because you climb to the top of the dune and moon everyone. Hey, it's tradition!). Did I mention it was steep? Because I think that's an understatement. It was like climbing the dang thing 3 times just to get to the top because it took so much effort to get a few feet. I might have died about halfway up but sheer determination to not be "that chick who can't keep up" had me hang on and continue to the top where I was treated with a spectacular view of the Manistee National Park and the Pine River below. Again, no camera. I know, right?!? What kind of a photographer am I???? Just take my word for it, it was epic.

By the time we finished our lovely little kayaking jaunt, we'd built up quite an appetite and thirst. So.......back to Traverse City we went! Because it's Traverse City. Haha, can you tell I love that place? And since we woke up on Saturday still hungry and thirsty from all that kayaking from Friday, and because it was raining all day anyway, we decided to make our own Craft Beer Festival and proceeded to attempt the Traverse City Ale Trail. We gave it a fighting chance but realized we were running out of time that night and opted to spend the last few moments at some of the local restaurants grading their Old Fashioned's. I blame the late start to our inability to finish. And thank you to our designated driver for somehow managing to coral the cats that night and get us all home safely.

Sunday, our final day of adventuring, we packed up pretty early and headed over to see Sleeping Bear Dunes, dubbed one of the most beautiful places in America. It really is. We climbed dunes, we climbed trails, we drove and climbed and drove and saw and just really enjoyed ourselves and for once I actually had my camera! Notice the pictures below...

Unfortunately, as all tales must go, our adventuring ended there and we headed home to a rather anticlimactic Sunday night of over-exhausted and un-restful sleep.  I may be sunburned and covered in bruises but I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not already trying to configure another trip back to see the sights with the famous Michigan fall colors. Also, I have to go back because I haven't finished the Ale Trail and I'm not a quitter. And I'm bringing my camera along this time! So......who wants to go on an adventure?


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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Michigan Pine River adventure blog dunes hike hiking kayak kayaking photography road trip scenic sleeping bear dunes trails travel wanderlust http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/8/an-adventuring-we-go Wed, 31 Aug 2016 14:31:10 GMT
Baby Fiona http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/8/baby-fiona Sometimes we are called to do things we don't think we are prepared to do, and for me that calling came from a friend late Thursday night while I was grocery shopping.

"I have a huge favor to ask you," he began before diving into a story of heartbreak. A mother and a father found out their pregnancy had to be cut short. At the time they had hoped to find their baby's sex,  they were given devastating news that their baby had a genetic defect called Triploid Syndrome. This is when a fetus is carrying a full extra set of chromosomes (69 instead of the normal 46) and almost always results in the death of the fetus.

"She's being induced at any time now and they are planning a funeral and everything and April [a mutual friend who had contacted him] thought it would be awesome to give them pictures. I want to take the pictures myself but I don't know when she'll give birth and I don't know if I can do it because of my schedule. Is there any way you could do it if I can't? I know it's a lot to ask, I'm sorry."

"I can't do it," I told him as I explained it was only a few short days before I did the big migration to Michigan with my children and I had so much to do before then.

"But," I assured him, "I can post it to my photography network and see if I can find someone local that can help them."

I finished my shopping and headed home, the story weighing heavy on my mind. I posted it to my Florida HOF Tribe (a sisterhood of photographers) to see if anyone local to the Orlando area could help this family out. Someone mentioned Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a foundation that specializes in this kind of birth story. I searched their website for contact information but with each passing minute, I began to realize that maybe this had fallen into my lap for a reason.

When I was a little girl, I told my stepmother I wanted to be an Angel when I grew up. "You can't be an angel," she told me. "You're mortal." Fast forward to me at the age of 20, working as a Respiratory Therapy assistant at the hospital as I did my clinicals. I'd gone into a patient's room to administer his breathing treatments while his family watched on. He was a dying man, we knew this. His family knew this. He'd been sleeping for several days, they were just waiting for the final moment to come. So I come in and I place the mask with his medicine over his face and for the first time in days his eyes flew open and he grabbed my arm and pulled my hand with the mask away from his face and asked me as his eyes searched mine, "are you my angel?" while his family gasped in shock and amazement. I was just as shocked but I just smiled and took his hand in mine and told him everything would be okay. He relaxed, closed his eyes, and passed away a few hours later. But that moment that he looked at me with such an intensity.....it's forever burned in my memory.

So maybe this family was meant to have me there. Maybe I had a job to do and it was to tell this family's story. So I texted my friend and asked him to cover that night (I couldn't leave my children overnight) and if she hadn't given birth by the next morning, I would go to the hospital to be there with them.

I got to the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando a little after 2pm on Friday afternoon. I'd told the family I was coming but they did not know me and not wanting to impose on their private time, I introduced myself as soon as I got there and then went to the waiting area to give them privacy. After some time, one of the nurses waved towards me and said "are you here for Jessica? She'd like to see you."

And so begins the story of how I met Jessica and her husband Kyle. And the story of little Baby Fiona.

"I went to find out the sex of the baby last Friday," she began. "I had to pay for the ultrasound myself because insurance didn't cover it, but (she) was rolled up in a little ball so the ultrasound tech couldn't even see what she was. So I wasted my money but apparently (the technician) had seen something that alarmed her because I got a call from my doctor on Monday to come in for another ultrasound.

"The amniotic fluid levels were extremely low and there were signs of serious problems with her heart. Her heart only has three chambers. But that can be fixed. They told me that there was a possibility she would be born and survive but require a lot of surgeries and we were okay with that. Then they told me that she probably wouldn't survive for long after birth but I could carry her full term and donate her organs. And so I was going to do that. But then, after they did the amniocentesis, they told me that it was far worse. She did not have kidneys and she was deformed and she wouldn't survive much longer in my womb. They told me they were surprised she'd made it this long."

And so they had given her the news that the child she carried was going to die. Suddenly their happy moment was thrown into a whirlwind of planning for a birth and a funeral. "She will be alive when she is born but she doesn't have lungs or kidneys and she has hyrdrocephaly [fluid on the brain]. I'm 18 weeks but she's underdeveloped. So she will not live very long."

I hugged her. It was all I could do. And then I stayed with her and Kyle through into the evening. I was starting to worry because I needed to get back to my children and still Fiona had not come.

And then on Friday August 19th, 24 hours after Jessica and Kyle had gone to the hospital, little Fiona Madison Crowell made her grande entrance into our world at 9:55pm, weighing 2.12 ounces and 5.7 inches long. And while her moments on this Earth were few, they were incredibly precious and she was very much loved.

And she was perfect in our eyes.



You can view more about Fiona and her family and make a donation to her funeral fund at https://www.gofundme.com/2k9xmb8

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info@anjimonique.com (Anji Monique Photography) Baby Fiona Triploid Triploidy babies baby birth chromosome death defect family florida genetic high risk hospital infant mortality newborn orlando palmer pregnancy rare syndrome winnie women http://anjimonique.com/blog/2016/8/baby-fiona Sat, 20 Aug 2016 20:22:31 GMT