Oh me, oh my…I’ve been putting off this post for way too long! I wanted to blog about WPPI the minute I got home, but the project became more and more overwhelming the more I thought about how much I had to share! So I tried to tackle it in chunks! Before the trip, I shared a bit about my schedule for the week. When I got home I shared some of the headshots I took of my beautiful friends, and then I shared about my experience at the Katelyn James Vegas Workshop. So, in an effort to put the rest of the trip into one post…here is the final chapter of my WPPI experience! :)
5:00 a.m. I crawled out of bed. I forgot that un-Godly hour existed. I’ll spare you the details of my agonizing fight with the pre-sunrise morning. At least our flight to Vegas was full of amazing views! (…and, er, lots of sleeeep)
We arrived to Vegas just in time for lunch and our first class with Kenny Kim. I learned a ton about destination weddings, and I seriously cannot wait until I book my first oversees wedding! For real, anyone want to hook me up? :) After my first class, Chris and I met up with my New York girls for some fun Vegas headshots followed by dinner at Cabo Wabo with about 40 other photographers! On the way I got to see “fake Paris” – one of the things I anticipated most – and a whole bunch of Johnny Depp impersonators! Apparently he’s the new Elvis! :)
Trade show day!! One of the main things I was looking forward to was the trade show/expo – and it did not disappoint!! I had a list of over 40 vendors that I wanted to see…from album companies to printers to accessory designers and more! I bought a fabulous new camera bag by UNDFIND; got to see some of my favorite books in person from Vision Art, Artifact Uprising, Red Tree Albums, Cypress Albums, & Couture Books; got to meet some of the faces behind my favorite business card printer Moo.com; and I got to meet one of my favorite musicians Marie Hines at the Music Bed booth!
Later, Chris and I learned from the incredible Lawrence Chan on how to create worthy blog content. Hopefully I can apply some of his tips so ya’ll will still like me! :) That night Chris and I were lucky enough to attend the sold-out Madera party! I must say, it was my favorite night of the trip!! The party took place in the Penthouse suite at The Palms, and in case that wasn’t impressive enough, Madera also brought in an incredible band, had cigar girls in full costume actually serving cigars, and had bartenders creating Sidecars and Monte Carlos all night long! On top of all that, we met so many incredible photographers from all across the globe! It was so great being able to connect and bond with other small business owners who face the same struggles and successes as me. Here’s to some new friendships!
Remember that time I told you that I don’t really get along with 5:00 a.m.? Well, I SURELY don’t get along with it after a night of socializing and drinking Sidecars! But, I truly adore Katelyn James so I dragged my sleepy butt to her 6:30 a.m. posing workshop! You can check out my post on that here. We also attended Elizabeth Messina’s and Jasmine Star’s classes – they are so great! Another highlight of the trip was dinner with Fotofafa at Lotus of Siam! I’ll do a full post on Fotofafa another day because they are that awesome! We made so many new friends, and I just felt crazy honored to be sitting at a table full of so much talent! I mean, you have to be REALLY talented to make faces like these! Thanks Angie Sloan for the collage!! :)
And thanks Fotofafa for taking a “normal” photo of us! :) [PS: That's my hand in the bottom left corner, and that's my husband chewing on his hand in the bottom right haha!]
We ended the night at the much-anticipated Lazers & Blazers party – held at the Hard Rock’s private nightclub called Vanity! Dear Lazers & Blazers, you had me at…photobooth!
There was also lots of dancing! Lots and lots of dancing women in stilettos…stilettos that like to attack my ballet-flat wearing feet! :(
Ahhhh, our day of rest. Kind of. This was a day of no WPPI, but it was certainly jam-packed! We walked the strip, spent hours in the arcade (my version of gambling), played some slot machines, explored the lobbies of the really fancy hotels, rode the roller coaster and ate at the famous Bacchanal Buffet at Ceasar’s Palace!
After learning from Jill LaFleur (a super talented wedding planner & friend of Jose Villa) and Jeremy Cowart (philanthropist photographer), we relaxed by the pool and enjoyed every last bit of the beautiful Vegas weather.
It was an AMAZING week. We filled our brains and bellies to the brim! We both came home motivated and excited! This trip was particularly enlightening for Chris – who used to just like shooting because it meant spending time with me, but now gets just as giddy and excited as I do with a camera in hand!! This trip was the PERFECT jump start to our 2013 season!! Beyond excited to see what’s in store for this year!! :)
Once upon a time I bought a Canon Rebel XTi. I thought I was the bees knees. The cats meow. The end all be all. The Queen of Camera Land! Being the clearly unstoppable force that I was, I couldn’t wait to photograph my very first wedding! With my fish-eye lens attachment in one hand and my camera in “P mode” in the other, boy oh boy did I think I hit a home-run! I remember coming home from the wedding day, uploading my cards, and anxiously waiting to see how I did. Then….I remember being so crushed at the results. I remember being frustrated that so many images that looked sharp on my LCD were actually blurry. I remember posing the bride near the window in an attempt to get that beautiful glow that Elizabeth Messina gets in every single photo…and being so sad to find an underexposed, barely salvageable image. And I remember the moment where I said “It’s okay, I can fix it with…Photoshop ACTIONS!”
Even though I was over-the-moon proud of my first wedding, and I bragged to my then-boyfriend (now husband) about how these are going to be the best wedding images they’ve ever seen…I was truly motivated to actually learn how to USE my camera after this wedding. A friend of mine said “Cassi, you just need to put your camera in manual mode and don’t let yourself switch it back to P. You will learn.” I thought of it as a challenge and a game! Every time I was in a new lighting situation, I’d play around with my camera settings until I was able to create a pretty picture and then try to memorize the settings! I’d get it right, then mess up all the settings and try and get it right again on the first try! I’m pretty sure I can accomplish anything as long as it’s in game format!! :)
What seemed like the most daunting project of all time, ended up being the most freeing experience ever! I was finally able to do all the things that I wanted to do, but use to only be able to do if my auto-focus made a mistake (like that bokeh shot below). I was in control finally! Here are some before and after samples of the huge difference it makes to know your gear!
So today I want to encourage all of you to tackle something daunting…whether it be learning your camera or cleaning your basement or finishing that book by Marcel Proust…it may take time, but start today. And if that’s not motivation enough, here’s the internet meme that inspired this post! :)
Have you got the Quirk Factor? asks Lisa (Bride & Joy Editor) on her Irish wedding blog. Lisa describes the Quirk Factor as “that indefinable spark that we all show when we express ourselves.” How fitting it is that she fell in love with David and Allison’s wedding – an event completely decked out in self expression!
Check out their awesome personal details on Bride & Joy!
Photography is a field that is constantly evolving. Technology is constantly improving, new software/apps are created daily, fantastic and drastically different products are offered by companies across the globe. Complacency is really not an option in this field. So, to be a truly great and relevant photographer, you must be constantly learning. And THAT is one of the things I love most about my job. I loved school, I loved classes…and I love learning! Sure most days I wish I knew it all already and didn’t have to learn anymore…but where’s the fun in that? :)
For those who’ve seen some of my last few posts, you know that I recently attended a photography conference in Las Vegas. WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) hosts an annual conference for over 15,000 photographers each year. And while there are classes galore (don’t worry, I’ll fill you in on those soon), this particular workshop was one of the highlights of my trip. Katelyn James is one of my absolute favorite photographers, and when I heard she was going to be teaching a small, private workshop for only 18 students…well, I think I bought my ticket without even looking at the cost! I feel such a strong personal connection to Katelyn (even though we didn’t meet until Vegas!) because she wears her heart on her
sleeve blog. Every time she shares something I’m like “Me too Katelyn! I’ve felt that way too!” But the main reason I love this girl is because her style and photography most closely resembles everything I strive to be.
Since the day I defined my style as “clean, colorful, bright, and fun” I searched for others who did the same. At the time, every photographer that I admired had a very soft, gentle and romantic style with muted tones and a certain lack of “pop.” And while I LOVED their work (and obviously so did Style Me Pretty)…it just wasn’t me. I’m kind of the opposite of soft and gentle…I’m loud and bright and I laugh WAY too much. I wanted to make sure that my photos communicated that…I wanted to show warmth and fun and vibrance and POP! But it was hard carving my own path in a world that I didn’t think was quite ready for my colorful contrast. And then I stumbled up Katelyn James. As I started to scroll through her images my jaw slowly made it’s way lower and lower until it hit the floor. This girl was doing what I was doing! And she was doing it REALLY well. And it made ME want to do it really well. It’s almost like she gave me permission to be me. I know it sounds silly…and maybe it is silly. But I loved having permission to be bold and bright in a world of unsaturated softness.
So, that’s Katelyn James. My permission giver. And my fellow bright and giggly red head! Now that you know who she is, let’s talk about what I learned. THIS GIRL IS A POSING MACHINE! Her Vegas Edition workshop was focused on The Posing Evolution. I thought I was pretty good at posing until I watched this girl rock dozens of poses with the couple never even moving their feet! So, 2013 couples…I hope you are ready to reap the benefits of barely needing to move at all…get ready to get lazy haha! Just kidding, there is no laziness allowed! :)
And while this was definitely a POSING workshop and not a shooting workshop, Katelyn did let us grab a few cute shots while we practiced what we learned. After all, this couple looked way too cute not to be photographed! I am in looooove with the florals from Layers of Lovely. I want that headpiece so bad!
These images aren’t really a great example of what I learned since I only brought my 100mm macro lens with me to the shoot, and in order to be truly successful with the posing evolution you should have variety in your lenses to capture wide shots (35mm) and “normal” shots (50mm) and intimate shots (85mm). But, I think it’s a pretty good amount of variety considering I was shooting with 18 other photographers in the same teeny tiny space with only one lens! :)
We took a group photo on someone’s camera, but I haven’t seen it yet. Once I can find it, I’ll add it into this post! For now, you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was an AWESOME group of photographers who are all extremely talented. And it was wonderful learning along-side them! And they were extremely patient with my millions of questions haha! Thank you Katelyn for bringing us all together for such a wonderful morning!
…because I am spending monies like CRAZY! Today is like Christmas and my birthday and the first day of summer and Coney Island and all-things-wonderful, all rolled into one! I started off this morning by purchasing the camera I’ve been drooling over since it was first announced…the Canon FIVE DEE MARK THREEEEEE!! More commonly known as the 5DMIII. What does that mean? Well, it’s basically the more awesome version of the camera I have currently (the 5DMII). Canon VASTLY improved the focus on this new addition to the family, and they also souped up the ISO capabilities. Side note: Who decided that “souped up” should be spelled like that and not “suped up?” They’re dumb.
While the camera does not define the photographer (I shot my first year of weddings on a Rebel T2i), having the best professional quality gear makes my job much easier! :)
Reason number two of why today is awesome. I discovered Kate Spade’s new line called SATURDAY. It’s like it was made just for me! Bright colors and stripes galore!! I feel like I’m finally understood…thank you Kate for validating my taste. You can find all of the goodies below in their Home section and soon to be in MY home section! :) I have like a million point five more things that I want, but I’m going to have to wait until I work my
little (who am I kidding?) butt off some more! For today, my office will be getting a little spruce…not my closet. Although, April is coming up soon which means spring is almost here which means it’s almost time to clean out my closet and *maybe* fill it with some cute new things! Bwahahaha! :)
The whole trip I kept referring to “my New York girls.” And how we’re all BFFs and how we all came together to Vegas. “My New York girls” this and “my New York girls” that. People were shocked that we could all be friends…“but you’re all wedding photographers? In the same market? Isn’t that…difficult?” The answer in short is NO! It’s the complete opposite of difficult. These ladies keep me focused, challenge me to be better, are who I go to when I’m having a crisis…we turn to each other, because we are each other. We are all young small business owners. We are facing the same struggles, learning the same topics, and we live in the same “world” – the world of weddings, all things pretty, and LOVE! Without these women, I would not be the photographer I am today…I would not be the person I am today. So, here are just a few of the lovely ladies who each hold a little piece of me up, so I can stand tall and feel confident in who I am and what I do.
The lovely Michelle of Michelle Lange Photography! Not only does this girl rock from behind the lens, but she obviously works the front as well! She is all things glitter and girly, full of giggles, and sweet as pie!
Then we have the beautiful Amy of Amy Rizzuto Photography! Amy is a cheerleader, a motivator, an energizer bunny, a goal-setter and accomplisher, and one of the nicest people I know! She is genuinely interested in everyone she meets, and I’m so excited to be on this journey with her!
Angela, oh Angela. A true Southern charmer. Beautiful inside and out…she radiates warmth and hospitality! I just want to hug her every time I see her! I love having her around me, and not just because we can wear heels together (yes, she’s the only other tall girl in the group!). And her work is gorgeous!
I absolutely love these pictures of Mikkel (of Mikkel Paige Photography). They embody her personality to a T! Funny, fierce, and fantastic! This is the girl I turn to when I need a good ole slap of honesty! When I’m about to do something desperate or lose focus, Mikkel is the one who calls me out (lovingly of course!) and reminds me of the big picture. She is my second set of eyes and my good dose of comedy! Oh heyyyyy Johnny! :)
I don’t even know where to start with Jaine (of Brklyn View Photography). She was my very first friend when I moved to Brooklyn and has become one of my closest. She patiently listens to my rambles, we are each others “vents,” and our conversations are about so much more than photography. This girl has picked me up time after time, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. We started our businesses around the same time and have nourished each other along the way. And her work is seriously swoon-worthy. Like, seriously.
And last, but certainly not least…maybe not a “New York girl” but definitely the one I would be lost without. My darling husband, Christopher! He had to have his turn hamming it up for the camera…work it babe!! But seriously, this is going to be sappy. I would have quit a year ago if it weren’t for this man. When I’m having cry-fest after cry-fest because this business is just too hard, and I’ll never be good enough, and am I following God’s plan for my life, and ugh, why are taxes so difficult…etc., he is the one who holds me tight, whispers all the reasons he loves me, and reminds me of all my blessings. He is the one who turns my tears to smiles, and then giggles, and then full-blown laughter. He is the one who inflates my ego probably bigger than it needs to be, but just enough so I can still fit through doors! He is the reason I can walk through NYC feeling like I own the place. And he is the reason I fell in love with weddings to begin with. Because my wedding day was easily the best day of my entire life…and because every day since has been just as magical. I love you darling-face, babels, Christa-poo, and yes, snuffle-uff-a-gus. I went there! :)
And I also want to thank my beauties who couldn’t make it to Vegas this year…your face might not be on my blog today, but it’s written on my heart! :) Love to Caroline, Melissa, Lisa, Kristen, Judy, Lindsay, Sidney, Christina, Jackie, Mekina, Diane, Bethany…and I’m sure I’m missing someone, but you know who you are!
Cassi Claire Photography is headed to Vegas all next week! I am so excited to get to be a part of some shoots, take classes with other amazing photographers, learn from the best, eat tons of food, and
party like a rock star…er, Dad, I mean go to bed early and behave like an angel! I’ll tell you all more about it when I get back, but for those of you who want a sneak peek at my schedule…especially if you are going and want to meet up…here are some things I’ll WE’LL be attending (my hubs Christopher is coming too!)…
SUNDAY: Kenny Kim‘s class on Destination Weddings & Cabo Wabo with the Showiteers
MONDAY: Lawrence Chan‘s class on SEO & the sold-out Madera Party
TUESDAY: Katelyn James’ workshop, Elizabeth Messina‘s class, Jasmine Star‘s class, a special Fotofafa dinner, Photographer’s Ignite, and of course…the Lazers & Blazers party!!
WEDNESDAY: Relaxing & Going to see “fake Paris“
THURSDAY: Jill LaFleur‘s class & Jeremy Cowart‘s class
But to get a real sneak peek of what I’ll be experiencing along with thousands of other photographers…check out this video! See ya’ll when I’m back to reality!
Oh yeah, and there's THIS!
You’ll remember Rory + Kaitlin from their City Hall ceremony a few weeks ago. For being such a young couple, they really do have a forever-kind-of-love…the kind you don’t really see until a couple has been together for 40 years. Although, I guess the 10 years they have been together really helps! :)
Rory and Kaitlin chose to have a very New York City wedding day – which I couldn’t be more excited to have been a part of!! We started the day at the Washington Square Hotel, caught a cab over to the Jefferson Market Library (thank you Frank for allowing us to grab a few photos!), and eventually landed at the Manhattan Penthouse for the rest of the evening.
Love all the red accessories! Kaitlin and her maids found these unique clutches at various vintage shops in the city!
I think this moment had us all in tears!
The First Look on the stairs at the Washington Square Hotel…
You have to be pretty much the coolest couple in the world to be able to have such joy on a rainy wedding day! I absolutely LOVE how happy Kaitlin + Rory are, even as they wait for a cab in the cold and rain!
February 23rd was finally in the 10 day forecast…and they called for 80% chance of rain. Our hearts sank while we frantically tried to come up with an alternative to beautiful outdoor portraits in Washington Square Park. While searching Google street view (my bff), I stumbled upon the Jefferson Market Library! With permission from the library director (thanks Frank!!), we quietly made our way through some of the picturesque spaces. What’s truly amazing is that Kaitlin had planned red vintage books for her centerpieces – completely unbeknownst to me!! I super thankful that the rain forced us indoors, and into a MUCH more cohesive story for the day! :)
I adore Kaitlin’s red Badgley Mischka pumps!
Thank you Allison for grabbing this adorable shot of Kaitlin laughing on the stairs, and for lending an extra hand all day long!! I should also thank my hubs Christopher for being my amazing assistant and second shooter. Not only did he carry most of my gear, but he also kept an umbrella over my head all afternoon! We definitely made the most of the rain, and everyone was so positive!! :)
There were incredible views from every side of the building!
This is an old Irish tradition of tying a ribbon to symbolize the joining of two. This is actually where “tying the knot” comes from!
Oh Manhattan Penthouse…you so pretty! Kait, I LOOOOVE the red vintage books with one simple stem…gorgeous!
And of course, the classic end-of-night-pose-with-the-photog shot! Rory + Kaitlin, I hope you are living it up in New Zealand!! xo!
Credits // Venue: The Manhattan Penthouse // Hotel: Washington Square Hotel // Hair & Make-up: Miss Harlequin // The Dress: Elianna Moore via Demetrios Bridal Salon //Shoes: Bagdley Mishka // Hair Piece: Haute Bride (handmade Swarovski crystal) // Pashmina: Stella Dallas // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lela Rose // Guys’ Tuxes: Jean Yves via Jack Silver // Invitations, Programs, Golf Ball Design: Simple GD // Florist: Ariston Florist & Wholefoods // Vintage Books: Various book stores & vintage shops around NYC // Wedding Bell Wands, Table Numbers, Placecards: DIY // Favor Golf Balls: Golfballs.com // DJ: Mike Banfield (Ultimate DJ Entertainment) // Special Musician: Steve Reilly // Cakes: Buttercooky & Reinhold’s Bakery // The End!
*Special thank-you to DJ Mike for introducing me to Rory and Kaitlin! It was such an honor working with you again! :)