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  • Humbly serving Missouri in St. Louis, St. Charles, O'fallon, Wentzville, and Troy and surrounding areas.

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These guys are total geeks. In our initial wedding photography consultation, the conversation went from weddings to Skylanders to first person shooters to Guitar Hero to which super hero would beat who? If you’ve known me for five seconds, then you know that these are my kind of people. Sometimes when you do photography, especially wedding photography, your clients hired you for a service and that’s it. You like each other, they dig what you do, you dig them, it’s awesome, but then it’s over. You spend ALL this time with them and after the wedding when everything is all wrapped up, we may not see each other until you need me again. That’s totally ok, it’s normal. You will probably hire me again, but it’s unlikely you’re going to call me on a Friday when you’re bored and ask me to get a beer.

These guys will, and if they don’t, I’ll call them. I can honestly say that I have a new set of awesome friends that I will know for the rest of forever. They’re getting married super soon and I cannot wait. It is going to be a total total blast. Wedding photography for the win! More of the story on the next post! #FaceFullofPokemon
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FAMILY PHOTOS - Cover Image

What are your biggest complaints about getting your family photos done? I surveyed my 1600 Facebook friends to see what they had to say. Fortunately for me, I have a very outspoken group and received a TON of good feedback. Here we go!

8.  Kids Have Limited Attention Spans

“Squirrel! Hey what’s that over there? Mommy, can I have candy? Oo, I’m gonna hit my brother! Ooo, a dirt pile!” Sound familiar? Kids are a million miles a minute. The trick for a good photo? Let them get out the wiggles a bit. Let them play a bit. Capture some lifestyle type shots. Let’s get them to smile and have a good time. Some of my best, most genuine kid photos are when I’m chasing them around and playing. Then, once they’ve got the wiggles out and I’ve got them liking me, the regular photos are so much EASIER!

Family Photos - Carson

On a personal note, parents with special needs children:

Depending on where exactly they are on the spectrum, family photo shoots can be especially difficult for special needs kids. I understand. My son is autistic.  Your photographer may not have any experience with special needs kids. Don’t blindside them. Please be honest with your photographer and explain the challenges you might face on the shoot and together you will be able to overcome them.

A few tips and tricks:

• Realize each child is unique. Different approaches work with different children. Some kids don’t like loud sounds and fast movements. Be sure to communicate to the photographer so he or she can adapt to what’s needed.

• Be happy and NEVER show frustration.  If you or the photographer get anxious or frustrated, it makes things worse.

• Be PATIENT. This goes for the photographer and parents. Take your time. Do it right. Don’t rush.

• Ask the photographer if they have a good telephoto lens if your child is uncomfortable with strangers.

• If your child has a special bond with an item or an individual, MAKE SURE IT’S AT THE SHOOT!

• If all else fails, Photoshop. It’s hard to get everyone smiling in the same photo. Sometimes you have to do some faceswapping from multiple photos to get one PERFECT photo.

These are all special needs children. Two of the images are of my son, and the other two are the sons of some very dear friends of mine. See parents, it can be done. Have faith.:)

Family Photos - Photos of Autism Kids

7: Uncooperative Dads and Teens

Let’s face it. Most family photo sessions are set up by Mom. Unfortunately, Mom usually has to lay down the law to the Husband and Teen to get the family photos done.

Dad wants to be home watching the game. Teen wants to be on their smart phone. Mom wants to punch them both. The solution here is to make it fun. Let’s get Dad and Teen involved and do something outside the box. Believe it or not, my family does NOT like getting their photo taken. The solution that worked for me was the “Personality Pano”. Multiple shots in the comfort of my kitchen with the involvement and input of my children then stitched together in Photoshop. They loved it. It was fast, quick, and painless.

Not saying this will work for you, but it’s an example of what some outside the box thinking can get done! Let me partner with you and figure this out.:)

Family Photos - Personality Pano

6: Hard To Get Everyone Looking Their Best for Family Photos

Clothing, hair, and all the rest is important. You definitely want to do what you can to have everyone looking their best. The Facebook comment that really struck me was that this Mom didn’t know where the shoot was going to take place. This made it hard to coordinate what you should be wearing. Communication is the answer here. It is SUPER important for an AMAZING image that everything ties together. Communicate your thoughts and ideas to your photographer. This is why you hire a professional; we will help you.

Family Photos - Mabie Family

Random Tip: Keeping a small child clean on a family photo shoot can be tricky. One thing that works is to wear darker colors. Don’t put a rambunctious toddler in a white shirt. You won’t be happy.

One thing to remember, while clothing and hair is important, it all takes a backseat to the expressions on people’s faces. In my experience, it’s much more important to capture a genuine personality and expression. Stains and little hair issues can be photoshopped, so don’t stress. Just communicate with your photographer to make sure he or she can help with the little stuff.

Having said that, please have realistic expectations.  If you are 40 and want to look 25, a good photographer will tell you no. I will tell you no. You want to look like you, the best possible version of you, but you. You don’t want to look at your photos later and say, “Who is that person in the photo?”:)

For a TON of ideas on what you and your family can wear, click the image!

Family Photos - Pinterest Clothing Board

 

5. Not Happy With The Way You Look

This I completely understand. None of us are 18 anymore. Bye bye chiseled abs! (As if I ever had chiseled abs…) My wife gives me crap all the time for saying “I’m fat.” She basically tells me to accept the fact that I am getting older and I’m not always going to look like a Rock Star! In a recent survey, it was found that over 75% of adults are unhappy with the way they look. 3 out of 4 people. At the end of the day though, these photos aren’t just for us. We need to get over it. It’s for the rest of our family, it’s for our kids. At the end of the day, we are loved and accepted by the ones who love us just the way we are. Not saying we shouldn’t always improve, but never wait. Never, ever wait to document your memories with your family. One day we won’t be here anymore. Prioritize life and not the insecurities. It doesn’t really matter in the long run.

Family Photos - Hoag Family

4. Schedules and Getting Everyone Together for Family Photos is HARD!

This is always a trick isn’t it? Especially if you have a big family. The best solution I can offer is to be super flexible and open to some outside the box thinking. Choosing a photographer who is flexible can be key to success as well. A lot of photographers will tell you that they only shoot at certain times of the day due to the best lighting. Well, sure. There ARE certain times where you have better lighting. However, sometimes those times just aren’t going to work. In those situations, partner with your photographer and get CREATIVE! You’ll be impressed with what solutions you can come up with when you take the limitations of “normal” away. You might have to shoot at night, in your house or place of business, or you might have to do your shoot SUPER FAST! With a little outside the box thinking, a well-organized plan for the shoot and a good photographer than can help you with this, YOU CAN GET IT DONE!Family Photos - Holschem Family

3. Not on the Same Page with the Photographer.

One of the biggest and easily fixed complaints I heard was about the actual photographer. Sometimes photographers can get a little artsy and forget what they’re really there to do; create awesome images that showcase your family in a beautiful way. The flip side is that the photographer lacks creativity and does the same boring shots, boring lighting, boring color, and does not do all that he or she can do to make your family look their best. When you pick a photographer make sure you are picking one that fits YOUR style and what YOUR vision of the images should be. Make sure you communicate this vision to your photographer! If you don’t like what you’re seeing or hearing, MOVE ON! There’s a billion photographers out there, that do things in a billion different ways! Don’t settle!

Family Photos - Ficklen Family

2. I Can Just Do Family Photos Myself!

You can and you should! You cannot hire a photographer for every little thing that happens in life! Just do me a favor. Put the camera down once in awhile. Believe me when I say, there’s a difference between photographing and participating.

Another thing to remember is that a true professional photographer is going to partner with you and help create AWESOMENESS. We know how to pose you so you look your best. We know how to shape the light around you so you look your best. We know the best places, we know the best combinations of color and texture. We don’t take photographs, we MAKE photographs. If the photographer is worth their salt, you will see the difference.

Think about why you hire a professional anything.  We solve problems. For example, I can fix my air conditioner with tutorial videos off YouTube, but when I need a higher level of work done, guess who I’m calling? Someone who is going to get it done and done right the first time. Again, please, please, please take photographs of your family, please take photographs at an event, but for when it REALLY counts and when you want a HIGHER LEVEL of work done, don’t rule out working with a true professional.

Family Photos - Sieb Family

1: Family Photos are too expensive!

The most mentioned difficulty was price. Things like:

• It’s too expensive.

• The packages are confusing.

• I feel like I didn’t get enough for the money.

I get it guys. Family photography is a weird animal. It’s one of those things you definitely WANT to do, but at the end of the day, it’s not food or electricity. You CAN live without it. Sometimes it can be hard to make it a priority.

My family has 3 big 60 inch canvases of our kids in my living room. It is the last thing I see when I leave my house and the first thing I see when I walk in. Adds a little pep to my step as I go through my day.  My wife and my kids are my world.

Family Banner

Family photography is important. I want to remember them at 5 when they’re 30. I want to be able to get lost in all the memories of them growing up and what better way to step back in time than through the doorway of a photograph.

 

I’ve come up with systems to help make it incredibly easy. Let me partner with you and help you have an awesome experience. My process is simple, and I will help you every step of the way:

• $350 Session with Digitals Included

• Delivery Guaranteed within 3 Days of Shoot

For more details, click here – Family Photo Info Page

Fill out this form, answer the question, and I will send you a $100 Discount Code (Yes, that would make your shoot and digitals only $250!) just for participating!

 

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Most epic cake smash at any wedding I have ever photographed in my life. Seriously. I have documented more than my fair share of weddings throughout the years. Never have I seen a bride not able to see through the icing afterwards. Never have I seen a groom happier for having done this to his new bride. Never have I seen a bride retaliate with such fervor. It was life changing.

Venue: Herman Hill Weddings

DJ: Rock Star DJ’s

First, the staff at Herman Hill Weddings is amazing. Everything is in house, and everything is always perfect. They have a staff that cares. If I’m not mistaken, I think I may have seen them getting slightly choked up when John & Chelsea tied the knot. Very relaxing day.

Second, I love this couple. Good, down to earth, fun people. They were very interested in having a good time, and I love Chelsea’s signature move. Both hands up, ready to rock and rock they did! This was one of the most fun parties I’ve ever been to!

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Mrs. Wentzville beauty queen? I get to photograph a beauty queen? Really? Awesome.

I recently had the pleasure of photographing Melissa Harbaugh, Mrs. Wentzville and I have to say it was pretty cool. The goal with the photo shoot was to create all her Beauty Pageant materials and headshots. These materials are a big deal. It is the first impression the judges would have of her. No pressure right?  Also, we wanted to show the judges that Melissa was a nuanced, intelligent, hardworking individual and not just another pretty face in a dress and crown. Ultimately, we grabbed a ton of outfits and headed down to Main Street St. Charles to start creating awesomeness. I think the shoot went really, really well. Melissa is super easy to work with and her energy is infectious.

 

Check out below to see the 4 things I learned on this project!

 

 4. People are really intrigued when you are working with someone in a crown!

So, as we are taking this shot, this random guy comes out of the bar (which is just out of the right hand side of the frame) and starts hitting on Melissa! He was slightly drunk, but polite and cute in a funny way. He didn’t realize that this was MRS. Wentzville, not the possibly single MISS Wentzville. After we explained the difference and Melissa flashed the wedding ring, we were good to go. Can’t blame the guy for trying.

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3. Most beauty pageant contestants can probably kick my butt!

I have a lot of respect for Melissa. She’s a rockstar that takes her physical health very seriously while balancing work, life, kids, and a husband. Pretty awesome. That and I wouldn’t fight her, she’d probably win!

Mrs. Wentzville Working Out

2. You can always count on photoshoot bystanders  to help you be obnoxious!

We wanted to send in a natural smile for a headshot, something that just screamed how friendly and personable Melissa is. Well, if you have ever been in front of the camera, you know that giving a perfectly natural, awesome expression can be tough. So, I started to make random zoo noises to make her laugh. Hey, it works on kids and bridal parties right? Then all of a sudden, these random kids start making the same zoo noises. It took us a second to realize what was going on, but when we did, we both started belly laughing.

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1. It was amazing to hear how much impact Mrs. Wentzville has on young ladies.

I started to hear stories about the appearances Mrs. Wentzville gets to do. She told me a story about a little girl who thought she was a real princess and super excited to talk with her. Think about it. In the hands of the right individual, the ability to speak into a person’s life is amazing. Melissa uses this privilege to build people up, to be a role model to these little girls. She teaches them that life is more than just being a pretty face. As a father of a young 10 year old girl, I really appreciate it.

The big competition for Mrs. Missouri is in just a few days. Our hearts and prayers are with you Melissa! If you would like to support Melissa on her way to becoming Mrs. Missouri…

Click here to donate to her GoFundMe!

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So, I love weddings. I love weddings in St. Louis, I love weddings in St. Charles, I love weddings everywhere. Back in college, I used to be a wedding DJ. Most of the time, I am a wedding photographer and filmmaker. If you know me at all, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I’m actually a legally ordained minister as well! It all started when one of my very good friends asked me to be the officiant at their wedding. Of course, I had to bring my own special flair to it and when the bride asked me if I would “Whip my hair back and forth!” Well, let’s just say who am I to deny a bride on her wedding day. So, channeling the spirit of Willow smith, I let her rip!

Image courtesy of Two Become One Photography in Kansas City.

Image courtesy of Two Become One Photography in Kansas City.

All joking aside, whether I am DJin’g, photographing, filming, or officiating, I totally dig weddings and here’s why:

 

10. I love this couple’s outlook on life!

Priorities

9.  I love making dudes look awesome!

Awesome groomsmen

8. I love playing with the light!

You never know what you’ll get to play with each location.

Wedding Light

7. Ummm… I Love Shoes….?

This one is for my wife. She made me do it.

MJ

6. I love passion.

Sometimes when I peek around a corner, I see couples sneaking away for a kiss.

Sneak a kiss

5. I get to travel to really cool places!

And see really cool things!

Wedding in El Paso

4. I love the ceremony!

A declaration to the world is made in that moment. We are one. We are together. Bring it on world, together we will rock you.

Wedding Hooray!

3. I love to laugh!

So, we all know the cake cutting. However, I don’t think this groom knew that her finger wasn’t part of the wedding cake! Oops! Literally everyone in the entire wedding reception started to hardcore belly laugh.

Hus

2. I love to make cool stuff!

Nuff said here. I really, really like to make cool stuff.

Rafael & Julia - St. Louis

Rafael & Julia – St. Louis

1. I love my wife!

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Seeing these couples first starting out is invigorating. Let me ask the old married people reading this: Do you remember how you felt on your wedding day? Do you remember the hope, the anticipation, and the excitement of walking down that aisle? All the big plans, all the “We’re really doing it!” moments. I love it. I think it’s super important in today’s world that we remember those feelings, that we always come back to them, so that when life wants to punch us in the face, we remember that we are fighting FOR our significant other and not against them. How many little problems would just disappear if we truly got a hold of that concept? This is why I shoot weddings. To always remember that my wife and I are a team, we got married on purpose because we love each other deeply. In the words made famous by that little band called the Beatles, “All You Need Is Love.” If you haven’t heard it in awhile, you should. Just sayin’!