chantal stone photography: the blog

May 4, 2008

Handmade Plantable Wedding Invitations!

Filed under: Green,Make A Difference,Weddings — chantal @ 11:20 pm

Have I mentioned before that I LOVE my clients?!? I think that what helps to make great Wedding photography is to have a great relationship with your clients, and I am so happy to say that I LOVE them! It’s such a huge honor to part of their day, to be trusted with their memories. I take my job very seriously, and by investing in the relationship, it makes documenting their Wedding that much more important to me personally. Good or bad, the personal investment I have in my clients is what I love about my job, and they seem to like it too!

So how excited was I to receive an invitation in the mail to one of the Weddings I am photographing next month?!? I was ecstatic! Natalie & Michael are getting married soon and they sent me an invitation!! I have been looking forward to this wedding since our fantabulous engagement session last year, so to receive an invitation makes me feel like so much more than just a vendor, it makes me feel like a friend and I am so honored to spend the day with them!

But not only was the fact that sent me an invitation so great, the actual invitation is the most amazing thing! They purchased their invitations from Botanical Paperworks, a company that makes stationary that is “plantable paper”. The papers are made with post-consumer waste and has real seeds in the paper, so that once you’re finished, you can PLANT THE PAPER and grow real flowers! Isn’t that cool?!?

I know there are plenty of people who are looking for GREEN alternatives when planning their Weddings, so I thought this was a fantastic idea and I wanted to pass it along!

Also: Notice the stamp on the envelope? Another great idea for engagement photos. Make your own stamps at Stamps.com!

Thanks Natalie ๐Ÿ™‚

April 2, 2008

Mid-Week Round-up vol. 7: SoFoBoMo & Cool Links

Filed under: internet,News,Photographers/Artists,SoFoBoMo,Weddings — chantal @ 10:13 am

1) My SoFoBoMo project officially began yesterday. But I haven’t really started shooting anything because yesterday was just a regular Tuesday with me spending the majority of my day driving back and forth, picking kids up, dropping kids off, drinking too much coffee, and not getting anything done. And since the main subject is my family spending time together, it would probably be better if we were actually all together. That didn’t happen until after 9pm, at which time my nerves were completely gone and I just made everyone go to bed. The best photo-op of the night was around 11pm when the house was quiet. My camera was the furthest thing from my mind.

2) Are you Bride who wants the coutour Wedding gown, but you only have the David’s Bridal Budget? You soooo need to check out Encore Bridal. Get gently used designer gowns at a fraction of the original price. And a portion of all profits got to charity!

3) One of my favorite photographers… Nissou*. Do yourself a huge favor and check out her work. Better yet, take a peak at her photoblog. She’s a Belgian photographer and she inspires me like no other. Her work is delicate, intimate, and feminine. She has the unique ability to capture a moment and make you feel like you were there in it. Amazing!

4) I love great writing. I love movies and TV shows with intelligent and quick dialog, I love books and magazines that massage my brain with eloquently placed words and phrases. Which is why I LOVE this article written by playwrite and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz, on the Huffington Post: Not Until The Fat Lady Sings. Politics aside, it’s just a well written piece. And yeah, it helps that I agree with it.

5) I photographed a really fun couple’s engagement pictures over the weekend.ย  I will be posting them here very soon, but my 5 yr old just informed me that I’m a “mean mommy” because I won’t get off the computer and lay on the couch and cuddle with her.ย  Yes she’s spoiled, but then again, so am I for being able to just stop what I’m doing to indulge her.ย  So bye for now…I’ve got some cuddling to do and cartoons to watch.ย  Pictures to follow soon!

February 8, 2008

The Photographer’s Viewpoint: What I Look For In A Wedding Couple

Filed under: Photography,Weddings — chantal @ 1:15 pm

When planning a Wedding, most couples now cruise the myriad of wedding websites and blogs and there’s a TON of invaluable information out there. Among the lists, checklists, do’s and don’ts, and advice, it’s very common to find the “What to look for in a Wedding photographer” list. They all say pretty much the same thing. Here’s a great example found on Weddingmuseum.com:

from: “The Top 10 Things Couples Look For In A Wedding Photographer” by photographer Jack Saady

10. Negatives/Digital Files One thing that couples want these days is the opportunity to purchase or have included in their package the option to buy the negatives or (in the case of digital) the digital files. Many couples feel that they should be able to make as many re-prints as they would like, whenever they want. While many photographers do offer their negatives, many do not and feel that the labs that they use will be able to give a higher quality print rather than just taking a negative to the local drug store for printing. In addition, many photographers will sell their negatives after a certain amount of time, for example a year after your wedding date.

9. Black and White Everything old is new again. Almost all couples want a mixture of color and black and white. Black and white gives that photojournalistic look to a photograph as well as a fine art look. If your photographer is shooting digital, any photograph can be converted to black and white. If your photographer is shooting film then most likely they will be shooting with B&W and color film separately.

8. Unlimited Time When hiring a photographer couple like to have the security of someone who will be with them to capture all of the wedding moments. Having unlimited time can give you the peace of mind to know that those moments will be captured.

7. Experience Does your photographer have the necessary experience to handle the stresses of wedding photography? There are many things going on at once during a wedding. The experienced photographer knows how to bring everything together and in an orderly fashion.

6. Price This can vary a lot and price was not the main criteria in choosing a photographer. Prices can range from several hundred dollars to over $10,000. At the low end are usually people who do wedding photography part time. In wedding photography, you usually get what you pay for. As you go up in price, so does the “art of wedding photography”.

5. Professional Being a professional means many different things to different people. Those photographers who didn’t respond in a timely manner and/or who were rude (and amazingly, some are) were axed off the potential list immediately. Being professional also meant that couples wanted to know the photographers “style and philosophy”. Things that also bothered couple: rudeness, disorganization, insulting comments about other brides or photographers and other unprofessional comments.

4. Flexibility Brides put flexibility high on their list. To many flexibility is key. They said, packages are nice, but a photographer that refuses to be flexible, is not going to get very far with brides. Brides also commented that photographers get caught up in the OLD way of doing things, and never change with the times. Again, this relates to being flexible.

3. Style/Approach Today couples are looking for something different – artsy photojournalism, not the same cheesy photos. Brides are drawn to photographers who have developed their own unique (but consistent) artistic style/approach. Details are very important to brides. They appreciate a photographer who focuses on details.

2. Personality What can you really say about this. It is obvious. When you spend upwards of 10 hours with someone on an important day like your wedding you had better clique. Brides often said that they “just knew” when they met their photographer that they were right for each other.

1. Listen And the number [one] thing that kept on coming up […] that brides wanted from their photographer was that they “LISTEN”. This means that a photographer really heard what a bride said before they started speaking about the next topic. This is really important because it is the ability to understand what a client wants that will make a photographer really deliver what a bride was expecting.

I agree with this list 100%. The Wedding photographer is the one vendor (besides the wedding planner, if using one) with whom couples will spend the most time. And the relationship continues well after the ceremony, when it comes time to ordering and delivering prints, designing Wedding albums, etc. And if you really click with your photographer, then you’ll likely hire her again for future family photos, baby pictures, etc.

I’ve heard horror stories from people who have said their Wedding photographer was rude, did not deliver what was promised, who’s style ended up being totally different from what was shown or described at consultation. It’s upsetting because there are so many AMAZING wedding photographers out there who work hard to raise the industry standard, and it only takes a handful of bad apples to make things difficult for the rest of us.

I particularly agree with #6 in the above list. “In wedding photography, you usually get what you pay for.” That’s it right there. Let’s face it, all photographers have to start somewhere. And most of us usually start off 2nd shooting for a more established photographer, doing weddings for friends, or shooting weddings for $500 based on a craigslist ad. And there’s a definite market out there for that price range. Some people simply can not afford the 2-3K average price tag for a professional photographer. But when you hire a professional with a killer portfolio, who’s invested in his photo-education, who shoots with pro-grade equipment, and who offers tons of experience, don’t expect him to shoot all day, and offer tons of prints and extras for the same price as the craigslist guy.

The bargain photographer can very likely be a diamond in the rough and you may very well strike gold when hiring him/her. But remember this: Good photography is expensive, yes…but to be a good photographer, and to offer a quality product…that’s expensive too.

The most important thing for me though, is simply a good fit, a connection with my clients. So here is my list of What I Look For In A Bride & Groom:

  1. FUN. I laugh a lot and joke around a lot. I love what I do and have fun doing my job. I need a couple who is interested in having fun in front of my camera, Camera-shy is okay, as long as there’ a willingness to try something new.
  2. EASY-GOING. I’m not a particularly traditional photographer. I like to push limits and do new and off-beat things. I love couples who are up for the unexpected and not bogged down by traditional expectations.
  3. SEE VALUE IN WHAT I DO. This goes back to #6 above. I need a couple who sees the value in good photography and is willing to pay for it. Most couples I meet agree that my prices are VERY affordable. And most couples that I’ve worked with will agree that I spend a lot of time with them, giving them much more than they expected. And I do my best to customize packages that suit a couples needs and desires, within their budget. But unfortunately we all still run into the occasional couple who wants the $5K package but at a $600 price tag.
  4. GREAT TASTE. First and foremost, I’m an artist. And I like pretty things. And I LOVE couples who are fashion-forward, who have an eye for style. It’s my goal to provide each and every couple with wedding pictures that are fit for the magazines, to give images that are beyond their expectations. If you can provide me with right details and settings, that’s butter!
  5. FLEXIBILITY. This is key. I do my best to work within the time-frame and parameters given to me by the bride & groom. But what I need is time. Often, couples I meet will have already seen my portfolio, either through my website or through a friend who’s Wedding I’ve photographed, and they love the many, MANY images that are provided, and the relaxed, unforced, story-telling quality that they have. This is achieved when the couple gives me adequate time (either before the ceremony or after, usually just an hour or so during really great light) to really capture the essence of their love. I want to give each couple amazing photographs that will make their friends’ jaws drop. I need for my couples to be flexible when planning their day to allow for the time to do this.

So that’s that. I think I can speak for most wedding photographers when I say that our needs are simple. I do this because I love it. I love Weddings, I love beautiful and unique photography, and I love to make people feel great when they see how gorgeous they look in their pictures. You don’t need the $50K wedding, or the ornate decorations, or the expensive venue. But if you want great Wedding pictures, then you want a photographer who’s invested in making you feel good and look fabulous. Hopefully, you’ll agree that that’s me ๐Ÿ™‚

**if you like this article and look for other tips in choosing your Wedding vendors and ideas for wedding planning, then be sure to check out the new Wedding Feature to premier next week on Blogcritics Magazine.

February 1, 2008

Mid-Week Round-Up

Filed under: Good Reading,internet,Nonsensical/Randomness,Weddings — chantal @ 12:17 pm

I’m definitely an internet geek. I love the internet…LOVE it. I could easily live without television, phone, even my cell phone. But a day without internet access is like TORTURE. And what’s not to love? Anything you need, you can find online. And I’m always surfing around, browsing different websites, wedding-related, and not. So once a week I’m going to try to post a handful of things I find online that I think my readers will enjoy. I’m calling it the “Mid-Week Round-Up”, but don’t be surprised if you see it on a weekend….or a Friday ๐Ÿ˜‰

So here we go…

1) Nervous about that speech you’re forced to give? Here’s a site that will help you to write a Wedding speech… whether you’re the Groom, the Best Man, Maid of Honor, whatever! Of course you have to pay for the service, but if you’re stuck for words, it just might help– who knows!

Wedding Speech 4 U

2) The Nest!! Do you not know what this is?? All I can say is: I LOVE IT!! SO many of my clients are from The Nest, it’s not even funny. And thanks to the message boards and member profiles, I get TONS of Nestie hits! To the un-informed… the Nest rocks, quite frankly. From the website: “The Nest […] started out as an online community of girls grappling with the emotional issues–and enormous to-do list–that couples face in the first few years of marriage. [It] is a 24-7 virtual married-best-friend whoโ€™s been there before.” Where, oh where was The Nest when I first got married?!? (Haha that was like 100 yrs ago ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

3) Instyle Weddings. The current issue of Instyle Weddings is currently out. I’m a wedding magazine junky and read several different ones. They all are great and are loaded with tons of awesome ideas for brides. But this particular issue of Instyle Weddings has some really cute ideas for place cards that I think you might like (page 237). There are also some tips on hiring a Wedding photographer (pg 249). (ONne tip they left out: HIRE CHANTAL STONE ๐Ÿ™‚ )A lot of you’ve seen before or probably already know, but most importantly, the final thing they list is “Consider Chemistry”. The article points out that you spend more time with your photographer than any other vendor (with the exception of your planner most of the time) so it’s really important to have great chemistry with your photographer. Fortunately I have fallen in LOVE with all of the couples I have photographed! It’s mush better to have a great photographer you “click” with (no pun intended) than someone who offers the cheapest package.

Another reason I live this magazine issue…. Elisabeth Rรถhm is on the cover, and I’m a closet Law & Order addict!

4) DOOCE! Have you not seen this website yet? Dooce is the title of the blog by Heather Armstrong. It’s funny, it’s crazy, it’s heart warming, and most importantly is FUNNY! Just go read it, you’ll see what I mean….read the last few posts. She talks about her daughter, her crazy dogs, her life. She even gets serious and talks about her issues with postpartum depression ….but it’s always in a well-written, humorous way. Go read it now. GO!

I have more to share, but my daughter is begging me to watch Sesame Street with her, so I gotta go. More to come next week ๐Ÿ™‚

January 23, 2008

Wedding Tips During The Slow Months…

Filed under: Photography,Portraits,Weddings — chantal @ 11:18 am

January is typically a slow time for most Wedding professionals. Aside from meetings with potential clients for Weddings later in the year….there really isn’t much going on right now. And although I miss shooting, and if called to shoot a wedding THIS AFTERNOON (I really miss it!) I’d grab my camera in a heartbeat, I’m glad for this slow period. It’s giving me a chance to organize my files, re-think my branding, plan for the busy season ahead, and spend much-needed quality time with my family (more on this later). So during these cold winter months (frigid here in the Midwest), aside from the occasional portrait session and snap shots of my kids, I’ll be posting about some other Wedding-related stuff I come across. I know a lot of my clients who are currently planning their Weddings for later this year read my blog (hi!!!), so maybe what I dig up will help them, and help those I have yet to book ๐Ÿ˜‰

One thing that I include in all of my Wedding Packages is an Engagement Photo session. Most couples absolutely love this idea, but occasionally I’m asked if it’s necessary. My answer is always yes. The Engagement photo session is so important for so many reasons. Not only does it give me and my clients a chance to get to know one another better, it will help for the couple to be much more relaxed on their Wedding day, which is so important. And you get all these awesome photos too!

The Wedding Channel is such a great resource for couples planning their wedding, with tips, advice, and planning tools (no I don’t work for them!). Here is what they say about the Engagement shoot:

Q: Do You Need Engagement Photos?

A: While it is not necessary to take engagement photos, there are plenty of reasons why you may want them. Establishing a relationship with your photographer long before your wedding will make a difference in the outcome of your wedding images. Your photographer will be able to watch you and take note of your individual personalities, which will help him capture images on the wedding day that are unique to you.

The other benefit is that you get to know your photographer and see how he or she works. You will get to see images of yourselves long before the wedding, so you can tell him what angles you like and what shots you donโ€™t care for. Hopefully, youโ€™ll have more confidence in yourselves and in your photographer, so on the wedding day you will look forward to having your picture taken…

…Whatever you choose to do, get creative and have some fun with your photographer. In the end you are the ones who win. Knowing and liking your vendors, especially the photographer, is significant in the success of your wedding and will help keep you focused on the real reason you are having getting married in the first place — each other.

(Read the article in its entirety here.)

And let’s face it, once you’re married, and Life settles in, you become busy with your careers, your family, eventually children… the likelihood of having a fabulous photo shoot just for the two of you is slim. I always tell my couples have the Engagement shoot now, while you still can …and I don’t charge extra for it either! ๐Ÿ™‚

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January 21, 2008

One Great Project & One Great Offer

Filed under: For Photographers,News,Offers,Photography,Weddings — chantal @ 11:19 am

I came across two awesome ideas, neither of which are mine, but I just had to spread the word…

The Great Project:

Solo Photo Book Month…or SoFoBoMo

What is it? It’s Paul Butzi’s brilliant idea for photographers to assemble an entire book project within one month. Writers have NaNoWriMo, musicians have NaSoAlMo, and now we photographers have this. This is perfect for me too because I just had an idea for a month or so long photography project involving some stuff that will be happening with my family this Spring. I’m not ready to say what that is yet, but stayed tuned, I’ll be posting about it soon enough.

So if you’re a photographer brimming with project ideas, check out the SoFoBoMo post on Paul’s blog and sign up. The time period is roughly from April 1 to May 31, allowing wiggle room for people’s varying schedules. But the photos, text and editing must all be created within a 30-day time period. It’s looking like there will be a website for the project fairly soon…I’ll be sure to post the link.

The Great Offer:

Deborah Fraime, from “For You” Event Consulting & Catering Services is running a special for all 08/09 Brides: a 15% discount for all Wedding planning packages, including a FREE 2 hour planning session. Deb is a fabulous planner with whom I have had the pleasure to work, and she is also a beautiful person….and I can’t wait to work with her again soon!

Check out her website and give her a call. Planning a Wedding can be so stressful and overwhelming, when it should be such a happy time. Having a professional planner makes all the difference in the world!

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