Garden Engagement with J + S | Florida Fine Art Wedding Photographer

Garden Engagement with J + S | Florida Fine Art Wedding Photographer

Jordan found me on Instagram and picked me as her wedding photographer last year. We bonded over her romantic proposal story—let's just say she got a ring AND two golden retriever puppies. Naturally, when it came down to planning her engagement session, Emma and Nash were invited. And if you know anything about me, I am an animal lover. If my husband would allow me to have a zoo in my house, I would. He doesn't so I settle for engagement sessions with high energy pups...

The Wedding Photographer Styling Kit | For Photographers

the wedding photographer styling kit | Ashley Holstein photography.jpg

Being a wedding photographer means I have a game plan on how to tell a couple's story. I like to keep it simple with their details because less truly is more, which is where my styling kit comes into play. 

The first thing I noticed when I started doing weddings was that brides would forget their details the day of! They'd get so overwhelmed by a million different things so rather than assuming they would bring the cute hangers and little trays themselves, I decided I would serve them best by having a styling kit of my own. I'm so excited to be sharing my wedding styling kit with you today!

I have to mention that I take inspiration from each couple's love story, wedding venue and overall feel of their day. That determines what, if any, item on the styling kit is used. With that said, I don't always use what I bring—it truly depends on the couple! Some have their own carefully curated styling kit they have chosen to be photographed, others don't. Personally, I like to play with the details and have fun styling them. It's such a fun surprise when my brides get the images back because often they don't see me photographing the details and have no idea I use little things to tell their story.

styling kit with apron and pillowcases inside bag camera | Ashley Holstein Photography.jpg

My styling kit can be found in a floral rolling bag. It's technically my camera bag when I travel since it meets the requirements for overhead compartments. There's an Oatmeal and Lace custom apron I wear when my dresses don't have pockets and the Hold Fast Moneymaker Camera Strap. This is just gear and not really "styling" material but it gives you a glimpse of my most used items on a wedding day. Another thing to note is that when I travel, I will take pillowcases and pieces of fabric instead of the styling boards since they make great surfaces when traveling.

styling bag kit camera ribbons bride and groom stamps | Ashley Holstein Photography.jpg

Bride Tip: If you're a bride that cares about details, have the conversation with your wedding photographer about it! Not every photographer owns a styling kit so please make sure you communicate your expectations with details (no pun intended!).
Don't have a wedding photographer yet? I'd be honored to be considered!

styling bag camera hanger ring dish pillowcase | Ashley Holstein Photography.jpg

Wedding Photographer Style Kit favorites:

  1. Ribbon [The Poetry of Silk, Nettle Textiles, froufrou chic]
  2. Styling Surfaces [Heirloom Bindery, Pilgrim & CoSimply Rooted, Pillowcases]
  3. Ring Boxes [Amonie Ring Boxes, Weft and Whimsy, The Mrs. Box]
  4. Stamps [Vintage Postage Shop, Postal Service,  thrift stores]
  5. Lens Wipes
  6. Hangers [Wood Hangers, Personalized Hangers, Bespoke Hangers]
  7. Command Hooks
  8. Trays [thrifted]
  9. Ring Dishes [local potter, Marbella Dish]
  10. Organizer for the ribbon and ring boxes pictured above.
  11. Carry On Camera Bag and Used Film Pouch

I'm a firm believer that it's the little things that count! You could make your styling kit bigger or stripped down depending on your artistic voice. I like to keep it as basic as possible for integrity's sake. The previous examples are just a few from my most recent work.
Join me next week for an insider's look to my camera gear.

I'd love to keep the conversation going, do you have a favorite item in your styling kit? Did you find my post helpful? Leave a comment below!

Grace | Senior Session by the Sea

First Look: Should you do it? | Dear Clients

Should I do A First look? | Ashley Holstein Photography | FL + Destination Wedding Photographer

Perhaps the most popular question couples ask me is, should we do a first look?
I decided to shed some light on why couples choose to do so in case you're on the fence too.
When it comes to timelines, I'm here to guide my brides into curating their day to tailor what they value most.

If you tend to be anxious or nervous, the private tender and quiet experience of the First Look is for you. Seeing your groom before you exchange vows will calm those nerves and provide you some time to enjoy each other before the whirlwind. 

If you want to spend time with your guests during cocktail hour, you may want to opt-in for a First Look. The logistical challenge of the bridal party, family formals, and bride + groom portraits after the ceremony means that you will miss out on mingling with your guest during cocktail hour.

If you're planning to do something meaningful with each other before the ceremony, a first look is a must! Reading each other letters, exchange private vows, or praying beforehand are done before the bride walks down the aisle. 

If you're getting married close to sunset, a first look is your best bet. During the summer, waiting until after your ceremony to take the bulk of your wedding photos works beautifully; long summer days mean generous light into the late evening. But in the winter, the sun may be completely set by the time your ceremony is over.

If you said "Yep—That's me!" to all the above, then a First Look has to be included in your timeline. The biggest objection I always hear from brides is, "but if we do the first look, it will ruin the moment when he sees me walking down the aisle for the first time!" I'm here to assure you that could not be farther from the truth. That moment when you walk down the aisle is special and nothing can take that away, not even a First Look! The couples who decide to do a First Look never regret it, in fact, they highly recommend it to others couples. Ultimately, this choice is yours to make. Consider what is most important to you on your wedding day and make arrangements to fit your timeline.

Do you have more questions and you're ready to talk about working together? Or you just want to say hi? Leave a comment below or message me—I’d love to chat with you!

Engagement Session in Lakeland, FL | Florida Wedding & Family Photographer

You know the kind of person that is crafty, artistic, beautiful and easy to get along with? That's Loren. You meet her and it feels like you've known her forever. I'm so excited to see her marry her best friend whom she has a lot of things in common (think adorable twin girls). Our session was spent chasing the girls and rolling around the grass. It's not your typical engagement session but then again, they're one of a kind! The moments between them are pure perfection. l Can't wait until the end of this month to photograph their wedding!

Dear Clients: 8 Tips for a Successful Wedding in 2018 + a gift for you!

Happy 2018 brides and gents! I can't believe this year is finally here. For many of you, that means your wedding is around the corner. And like any bride, you may be struggling to stay above the stressful waters that come with wedding planning. But don't worry, I got your back!

8 Tips for a Successful Wedding in 2018 | FL Film Photographer | Ashley Holstein Photography.png

1. Don't let that To-Do list pile up!

I get it—you're juggling plenty of to-do lists at once! Let's try to combine them all in one place. I suggest you use an app like Google Keep to keep track of all your lists. This way, you can tackle them more aggressively. If they're really long lists, set days to focus on one at a time. This is how I "batch" tackle my lists since I'm allergic to having to-do lists. Just thought I'd keep it real and through you a lifeline my friend!

2. Communicate with your vendors on a monthly basis.

You might think this is overkill but, so much can change during the planning stages of a wedding and you want to make sure everyone is on the same page. If your wedding date is around the corner, make sure to touch base weekly to make sure there's nothing else they might need from you. Oh, and if there's a difficult situation in the family like, let's say the sudden passing of a family member or how grandma can't be in the same room with step-grandma, let the vendors know, especially your photographer. This is a must if you want to avoid an awkward situation. Trust your vendor team but keep 'em in the loop.

3. Make a list of the small details you don't want to forget.

I ask all my brides to gather all the items I will photograph and put them in a bag or a box that I can quickly take when I first arrive. I suggest they make a list of the small details they want photographed so they can keep track of what they are putting in the bag. Items like the invitations suite, jewelry, rings, shoes and any other details you might want photographed need to be together for your photographer to access. The pin that belonged to your grandpa that is being used on your bouquet? Throw it in there. The gift you're giving your groom before you exchanged vows? You bet it has to be included! If you want something specific photographed, don't wait until the last minute to get everything together. You'd be surprised at how often the details get lost and misplaced before the Big Day! Don't wait until then and keep track of the list & items.

4. Delegate, delegate, delegate!

Have to touch base with the venue? Pick up your wedding dress? Shop for the perfect wedding shoes? You have a bridal squad that's there for you! Don't take for granted their support and ask them if there are tasks they'd be willing to help you with. Chances are, they've been waiting for that 9-11 text from you.

5. Deliver the Wedding Day Timeline ASAP

Wedding Timelines are worth gold. They are the maps to the wedding experience you dream of and want your guests to be a part of. You may be a bride that likes to stick to the hourly schedule or you may be the bride (like I was) that enjoys the event order even when the time is slightly off. Regardless of what kind of bride you are, you need a timeline. It's not as overwhelming as you might think it is. In fact, I have a Wedding Timeline builder available for free in this post. Just skip the next 3 tips and the link to get your freebie will appear. There's a helpful checklist included because I'm awesome like that. You can get started on that today!

6. Pay off your vendors before the big day!

Weddings are expensive, am I right? The investment for your happily ever after is not taken lightly but try to pay your vendors in full before the big day. I know it's hard but you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day, not have vendors trying to ask for payment while you're doing the first dance... or cutting the cake... or waiting for you as you do your sparkling exit... and yes I've seen this happen way too many times. If it takes getting on a payment plan to enjoy your day without worrying about money, do it.

7. Take time to show appreciation to your team.

Has your florist gone above and beyond to create the bouquet you wanted? And the coordinator too? Showing appreciation goes a long, long way! Leave them a review on their business page or tip them a little extra. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, treat them to dinner with a gift card + a handwritten note and give it to them the day of. It takes a lot of work to bring what you envision to life so, find a way to say Thank You. Anne Frank said it best, "No one has ever become poor by giving".

8. Have a Spa Day and a Date Night.

Yes, you read that right! After handling the to-do lists, navigating through stressful family dynamics, and still trying to stay on top of every little thing, you deserve to pamper yourself and have a little time away with your groom. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, sometimes getting your nails done and Netflix movie date will do the trick.

Getting married this year and you don't have a wedding photographer yet? Look no further!
Contact me for pricing details.
If this resource was helpful to you, let me know in the comments below.

For this child she prayed.

If I write about this couple I will cry. Not the cute kind either, the red-eyes-can't-stop-ugly cry. So I will let the images speak for themselves as a true artist would. But I must clarify two things: one, she prayed fervently for this child, I'm a witness to this truth. And two, it was a necessity to document her body at this stage of her pregnancy with this rainbow baby. Her gratitude for the miracle of life within her is beyond words and measures. I'm excited to meet you baby M, I love you so so much already.

In-Home Maternity Session
HP5 on the Mamiya C330 + Fuji 400H on the EOS 3
Processing: The FIND Lab

The McMahan's | Mulberry, FL Family Session

When we moved to Mulberry about 5 years ago, people thought we were nuts. After all, this town couldn't offer us anything. But the Lord placed us here and we decided to make the most of it. We were generous when others stole from us, we were grateful when we felt like complaining, we came alongside artists and encouraged them, we were kind when we experienced persecution. We built a community out of thin air! Unity didn't just happen in this city, we made it happen. We've prayed for God to send more faithful servants to this town and this family has been an answer to our prayers.

The McMahan are not strangers to this town, they both graduated from Mulberry High (hello high school sweethearts). But for such a time as this, they have felt called to come back to Mulberry and spread the message of a greater hope. They were gracious enough to invite me to their home and allow me to document the beginnings of this new season they are in. For one, they just welcomed baby Zander a month ago. It's not a coincidence that his birth coincides with the launch of Greater Hope. If you're looking for a place to belong, stop by their Sunday service. God has so much in store for the McMahan's this year, I'm happy I've had the chance to witness a little of what's to come. They are encouragement and testament of God's faithfulness!

Want the details to book a family session? Drop me a line!