Introducing…

So a little thing happened about two weeks ago for our family whom we like to call Miss Finley George Sutton McClain.  She came screaming into the world at 12:59pm on February 11th weighting 8lb 10oz and 19.5″.

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Thankfully everything went relatively well with our scheduled delivery by comparison to when her brother joined the family.  I did sadly have to make an unplanned visit to the ER the day after we were discharged (which I didn’t take well at all) for a spinal headache, something I would never wish upon anyone for how painful that was. We are counting our blessings for two happy, healthy children which have made our family complete (insert our no more kids happy dance here).

I’m slowly getting back to my day to day routines and finding our new work/life balance but also very much looking forward to getting my camera out of the bag in a few weeks for the kick ass wedding season we have in store this year.  I’m also chomping at the bit to get back to physical activity asap- Bring on the dead lifts and kettle bells!

Until then, feel free to follow our journey on Instagram (Mel/ Jas).  Photo Cred: Klose Photography

Getting Personal

Circa early 2000’s, I remember sitting in a college course discussing the sociology of everyone’s favorite topic- themselves and self reflection.  In 2005 when I graduated, social media was just starting to gain popularity (OMG I feel old typing that) and picking the right song to play on my MySpace page was a really big deal.  People started hopping on social media like it was free coffee day at Starbucks, creating even more of a release on personal information sharing… which over the years I started to shy away from to a greater extent.  I never really liked talking about myself- opting more for getting to know others instead.  We’re talking to the extent that Jason and I often say “Really? We’re not that interesting?” in light of certain social circumstances.

This past year, I fully admit on clamming up a bit more, especially after the spring when we learned about the very untimely and unexpected loss of a favorite client we’ve had over the years.  Her news was highly publicized, with lots of speculation and hurtful comments around her disappearance.  We had reporters contacting us for wedding and session photos which became locked down and hidden.  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and heartache within her family but it took me back a little from getting more personal as we had in years past, keeping our circle tightly wound and offline. Seeing how people speculate on very little information that someone might share, or blow out of proportion, was disheartening.

Late spring we had another surprise, a planned one, but never the less a very happy moment in learning we were expecting our second (and final) kiddo in February 2017.  Although sharing the news would have been spectacular, we kept things under wraps as a personal choice.  The only snafu is our network of friends and family is so spread out that sharing our moments online is almost easier.

Have we had experiences in our life that we’d rather not share- of course!  Everyone does- but my main goal this year is to step a little outside of my sharing comfort zone. I’m hoping to keep both friends and our client family more in the loop of our day to day that makes us who we are (without being this guy), which I guess makes us somewhat interesting?

 

From Three to Four

I’m all about change.  I like change- it brings a fresh new perspective, no matter how scary the forethought might be. Every year, it seems we’re embracing some sort of new change.  Last year it was a new office location which is amazing and we LOVE being able to service our business and boudoir clients in a gorgeous new space. This year.. hell, let’s add a new member to the family:)

In about 20 days we’re expecting the arrival of our second kiddo, completing our own little  McClain clan family of four.  I say kiddo as we have no idea the gender of the babe but did make a friendly bet between the two of us.  A damn fine bottle of scotch if it’s the girl Jason thinks it is and a Spa day for Mel if it’s a boy.  This pregnancy thankfully has been a bit easier than our first and we’re remaining hopeful the delivery process will be completely different given it’s scheduled.  We are counting our blessings though that kiddo’s due date is between events and thankfully won’t affect any wedding clients:)

For the next 20 days I’m staying crazy busy (and REALLY missing my workout time) catching up on our website and social media, plus we’re hitting up one more bridal show this weekend before the delivery. Feel free to creep our Instagram pages for baby updates and a peek in our day to day lives outside of the business (Melissa/ Jason).

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About 20 Weeks ❤

Photo Cred: Cyndi Klose of Klose Photography

Why Can’t We Appreciate Differences?

Could you imagine a world of people who all like the same things, believe the same things, wear the same things.. so on and so forth?  Yuck!  Not just yuck but “What the F, Yuck!”.  I’ve kept pretty mum on politics and societal expressions that have emerged and I promise this will be my only public comment but seriously, why can’t we appreciate that people in this world are beautifully different.  Let’s stop getting offended by the smallest things that might be contrary from the so called “norm”.  Stop bashing others for their choices, political or not and just be decent to one another.  Maybe realize that we’re sharing this planet together and the age old rule that many are taught, ‘Live and let live’, should apply.

One of the best things about what we do photographically is meeting so many diverse people from various beliefs, backgrounds, and views- many of which become friends we aim to keep in touch with through the years.  Have prospective clients judged us by showing images from these so called “non-traditional” weddings or couples?  Oh yeah!  I’ve been told a few times that we were passed on because we support or show a certain type of client, wedding style, or belief. I’m usually pretty thankful on the passing as I want to work with clients who are and appreciate that we’re all created differently from one another.

One of my favorite things when I walk into our office/studio is our wedding client wall- all amazing, all gorgeous, and all have their own unique story.

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In closing, be thankful for one another; be kind to one another; and respect everyone’s beautiful differences not just around the holidays but every day.

Holiday aka “Print Your Darn Images” Sale!

Some might call it a Holiday Sale (and we have) but I’d prefer to market our November discounts as a “Print your darn images” sale.

I’ve read a few articles now and heard first hand from so many people (clients included) that digital images are rarely being printed these days.  The term “Digital Dark Age” is the most common reference to this sad trend.  Folks are so quick to post memories on social media but printing to preserve is a rare circumstance. Sure we can save images to a USB, DVD, or Hard drive but at some point in the near future these staples will become nothing more than a paper weight- remember the ever popular floppy disk from the 90’s?

Now before I kick over my soap box, I’ll fully admit I’m one of those who constantly forget to print images.  I want to, but time constraints always seem to be my fall back excuse.  Anyone want to guess what my winter project is?

Which leads me to offering some great discounts passed on from our manufacturers for the month of November, some of which we’re partaking ourselves to get our memories printed as well!

Any of our clients can log onto the Client section to access your gallery- even if you were married years ago- it’s still there and accessible.  Just enter code Holiday16 at checkout for 25% savings on your archival print order.  Looking for something a little fancier or create a wall collage?  Take advantage of our FREE Room View service with your wall art order for the best size/layout in your own home.  Most of our mounted wall art items are under $200 plus have an additional 10% off for the rest of the month.

Missed out on your wedding album?  Great news here as due to a fantastic grandfather program with our manufacturer this year, albums start at $500 for a simple lifetime rated album to a top of the line $1500 family heirloom album.

We’re also offering 20% savings on gift certificates purchased during the month of November for portrait sessions.  Also a reminder to our wedding clients of your lifetime session discount- $100 off future portrait sessions (can’t be combined but the greater discount will be applied… you know because we love you guys).

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Jason’s 40th!

Gee golly it’s darn cold out there today!  Days like today make me reminisce to one of my two favorite seasons, Spring and Fall… Fall being my favorite.  This past fall was super special as we celebrated Jason’s 40th birthday (yes, I did get permission to post his age).

First off, to those currently planning a wedding.. I feel your pain.  It’s hard lining up everything needed, continuously thinking about the details and price per person.  Crazy!  To set my mind at ease, while focusing on the business and our one year old, I found the most AMAZING event planner.  Dana McGinley, who you might remember from a few months back when we blogged her wedding, just recently started her business planning both weddings and private events.  She was able to help with every detail and provide an outside perspective on “Will this sledge hammer work well with the decor?”.  Not kidding- totally had a sledge hammer.

Finding vendors was the easy part, as all were our friends and we knew they would do an amazing job.  Decor was largely DIY, with some details reused from our own 2008 wedding and some from old tools and manly items found in Jason’s workshop.  With most of our friends playing some part in the wedding industry, I wanted zero “wedding” appeal in the decor, food, or activities.

Detail wise, we had craft beer samplings from 6 different breweries, a whiskey and cigar bar including fun table games like Cards Against Humanity and Poker, Vintage furniture was brought in from Swoon Vintage Rentals, very tasty cupcakes and heavy hors d’oeuvres, including a bacon and nacho bar, was provided by The Uncommon Caterer, and Ryan Miller Entertainment was kicking out the great tunes all night. Our venue, which was hands down amazing, Historic Acres at Hershey, is highly recommended if planning any sort of celebration.

Overall we had an amazing night and I took pictures of the set up but totally went into relax and enjoy mode and missed any active party shots.  It was one of the best evenings celebrating the man who continues to support every aspiration and dream I have, who will most definitely give me early wrinkles from laughing and smiling so much, and who is the best daddy ever to our little one.  <end sap>

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DJ Tom Stank and DJ Ryan Miller photo bombs:)

Behind the Image- The Butterfly

The wedding day goes so incredibly fast that moments are captured but as readers you may not know the stories surrounding the image. Behind the Image is a bi-monthly post featuring one of our favorite images and the story behind it- Why was it captured and what does it mean to us as photographers.

When entering images into competitions, I never like to name my print.  I feel like adding a name to an image puts the creativity into a box and directs viewers into one line of thought, versus allowing imagination.  I know- pretty deep for a wedding blog.  One of my favorite recent captures was of a butterfly, or moth, as some may refer.  In all actuality, this was not the butterfly I was trying to capture on Amy and Bobby’s wedding day.

During their ceremony, a beautiful monarch butterfly was fluttering around the apple tree overhead as they exchanged vows.  I tried to grab the shot but from where I was standing it looked like a speck in the sea of green leaves. Spiritually, I feel that a butterfly on the wedding day may be a loved one who has passed, shining down on the couple as they celebrate their union.  Just a week before Amy and Bobby said I do, Bobby’s grandfather sadly passed.  By capturing this second butterfly (found in a patch of weeds as Jason photographed the couple), it reminded me of the monarch floating above them earlier, perhaps his grandfather’s way of saying hello.

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Can a Photographer Have Maternity Leave?

One of the biggest things that worried me when counting down the months to delivery was ‘What’s going to happen during my recovery period?’.  ‘Who is going to take care of my couples…Capture their most precious moments…Edit Images.. Pay Bills.. Meet with Clients..’.  You get the point, I’m sure!  Before announcing our pregnancy, Google and I became besties on finding other photographers who added Mommy to their resume.  Most women sadly had to cancel weddings and take a sabbatical from their business for a few months- not an option for me.  I’m a workaholic who adores both the industry and our clients yet all of that can change with the words ‘Emergency C-Section’.

Prior to delivery we had leads in place for events that I may potentially not be able to attend from July to September.  Thankfully, I made it to mid-July until my body had, had enough.  With one wedding booked at the beginning of August and two at the end, I hoped and prayed our son would arrive just a bit earlier than his 8/26 due date.  He came through but with extra complications; Jason attended the first wedding back only days after leaving the hospital.  We were so fortunate that our couples are beyond amazing and caffeine is a legalized drug, as Jason was most definitely sleep deprived!  As weeks passed, sleep became ample again, yet the hardest part was watching Jason leave for weddings that I REALLY wanted to be a part of.

During the recovery period, I can’t even express the amount of love felt for baby snuggles however I never imagined how hard it would be to juggle parenting with entrepreneurship.  Instead of napping when Declan napped (seriously whomever came up with this idea needs hip checked into a pile of pampers), I edited, held meetings with Skype or over the phone, kept up the business, and prepped for upcoming events and shows.  Still, I had no strict routine, and felt all over the place and interrupted with trying to maintain business items while feeding, snuggling, and caring for the new addition.  I’d love to say there was a quick fix or a 360 moment… not so much.

If you’re a new photographer parent here are a few tips that I discovered:

1. Don’t Give up on the Routine.  By the time I thought I was set, we’d hit a growth spurt and it’d be all mixed up the following week.  It took about 6 months to get a good strong routine down that was easy to say “I’m available between 9 and Noon and after 3pm”.  For me, I slipped back into the FT day job/ FT photography job lifestyle again with my workflow.

2. Stay Active and Eat Properly.  If you invest in yourself, everything starts to fall into place. Too many times it seems Mother’s give up on themselves in place of fulfilling the needs of their child.  By taking care of yourself both in fitness, nutrition, and fashion, you’ll feel amazing and be less fearful of getting back in the swing of those networking or client meetings.  10 weeks post-op I was heading back to the gym and personal trainer, getting back to my routine and health happiness.

3. Be Honest with Clients and Yourself.  Communicate honestly to clients.  Pre-baby I knew I could hold two meetings one evening, an engagement shoot the next, and then hit up a double wedding weekend and I’d be good to go.  Obviously things change when you have a child, however priorities and schedules need to be more fixed to allow for family and personal time.  I have certain evenings that are designated to work and clients and others to family time.  It also allows me during the day to know that Mondays are always my catch up day from the weekend (also known as Get Shit Done Monday) after enjoying Sunday completely off and devoted to my family.

4. Have a Healthy Support System. There is no way on this green Earth I would have been back on my feet as quickly as I was (even though it felt like months) without my husband and mother-in-law.  Both were amazing and beyond helpful with little things, such as dishes or laundry.  Business wise I knew I could count on my lead photographers to help with client communication, capturing events I was unable to attend, and keep Jason smiling and laughing.

5. Count your Blessings Every Day!  Regardless of what or who you believe in, life is a gift.  Seeing the progression from newborn to now almost 9 month old, every day, every baby smile is a blessing.  Although it can be frustrating having a mound of work on your desk or thousands of images to edit, nothing beats the simple things in life.

What tips might you offer to a full time business owner on maternity leave?

In Retrospect… 2014

As I look at my icalendar, I’m in sheer panic that the end of another year is right around the corner.  Have I accomplished everything I wanted to for 2014.. are we ready for 2015?  Where did time go?!  Wait.. we had a baby.. all makes perfect sense.

2014 was both an amazing and stressful year for us at MMP.  The amazing… We’ve worked with some seriously AWESOME couples!  I can’t say it enough- we are truly blessed with the best clients in the world.  They’re beautiful both inside and out, have the most delightful personalities, and just downright a blast to be around.  We love you all!  The stressful… expanding the family.  Who knew that one little 9lb kiddo could shake your life completely upside down and back around again!  Let’s just say I’ve become an expert in the “Change in Workflow” systems over the past 4 months.  He is a pretty amazing kid though!

Somewhere in the middle, we’ve gained hell of a line up of clients for next year.  These guys are going to blow you away with the details of their wedding days.. seriously!!  I’m so excited to share!  We’ve gained a new office location and studio with three additional wedding professionals (insert plug for Devanna Donofrio of White Starlet Bridal, Jamie Brown of Bombshell Brides, and Cyndi Klose of Klose Photography).  Our amazing team has shrunk a bit with new and exciting directions for Heather Casey and Julia Holub, both of who we love and will miss in 2015.  We also have started the works on some evolution for 2015 and beyond including eliminating a few services and adding better ones in their place.  More details to come in 2015!

With that crazy of a year, I can’t imagine where 2015 will take us but damn I hope it’s a little less hectic and a little more relaxing!  In closing we give hugs to these couples who we’ve had the pleasure of working with this year!

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Welcome Baby!

Declan2014.08-1005I won’t be going into extreme detail but we’re ecstatic to welcome our son, Declan Glen Patrick McClain, born on August 22, 2014.  The nurses, doctors and staff at PennState Hershey Hospital were amazing and so helpful during our 6 day-I’m-Losing-My-Mind visit!  Future posts may be a smidgen delayed as we settle in to our new status of Family of 3 (technically 5 if we count Kooper and Rhiley).

Special Thanks to our good friend and fellow amazing photographer, Harmony Boore who captured breathtaking images of Declan!

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