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?



Time to Ditch Your Pinterest Account?

Take a break and think about how well connected people are to social media these days… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.  All are great tools when planning a wedding or could be if used correctly.  Lately I’ve noticed a decline in Pinterest fandom among professional creatives and although some valid points were made, I have to agree with NOT using much of pinterest in wedding planning.  Before bringing out the pitch forks and torches.. let’s discuss.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 10.00.54 PM*It’s Recycled Ideas.  I’m all for inspiration however it should be taken lightly in planning.  The best weddings photographically in my opinion are those with a touch of the couple’s personality more so than handfuls of pinterest recreations.   I still remember weddings where the couple made DIY items or creations that may have had some pinterest inspiration, however they twisted it to fit their wedding design dream which made their celebrations even more personalized.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.48.05 PM*Stylized Images.  Okay hope you’re sitting for this one, but a lot of those pinned couple images are stylized sessions.  Stylized shoots are fantastic for inspiration, but should be known that it’s designers, photographers, or publishers who are setting these up, gathering every detail surrounding the couple and the photographers have hours to shoot with perfect light.  Not every image is from a “set up” session thankfully but be aware that some are and although can be “inspiration” for your own images, will take time to set up, so plan accordingly for your timeline if that’s a heart set item.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.37.28 PM*Backfire on Trying to be Unique.  Although I don’t believe that every plan in a wedding needs to be unique, I do feel the couple IS unique and shouldn’t aspire to recreating poses in images that may not fit the personalities of both you and your spouse.  If you’re a fun and goofy couple, pulling off that sensual pose you pinned months ago is going to be more work than one would think, especially to make it look natural and “fitting” for who you guys really are as a couple.

*Out of Date Boards or Unrelated Pins.  I tend to look up pinterest boards of our clients to see where your image preference is more so than the details planned.  Like your guests, I want to be a little surprised when I walk into your reception to enjoy my own personal ‘Oooo’ and ‘Ahhh’ moment.  Don’t laugh.. I seriously love this part of the day:)  The hardest part of scoping out boards is that preferences and poses may change over time and with trends (i.e the jump shot.. hated personally but done upon request although I’ll sigh internally as I shoot it).  Also pinterest is tricky and it’s so darn easy to pin tomorrow night’s dinner recipe up with your wedding inspiration boards. Although I love new recipes, I’d rather just cruise your inspiration on it’s own.  Keep it clean and keep it up to date.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.56.48 PM*Does it Match?  There are tens of thousands of wedding venues all across the nation and most rarely look the same.  Pinning a grand ballroom photograph of a couple’s first dance in NYC doesn’t really match your chic rustic B&B style wedding here in central PA.  When looking over boards as a viewer, it’s hard to see why a couple may have pinned an image that isn’t the same “feel” as what was described for their wedding venue, especially if the pin remarks at the bottom of the image are passed along from pinner to pinner.  Best recommendation, if you’re going to pin and have others ogle them, make appropriate inspiration remarks such as “Love the lighting, love the pose, love the dress” to avoid that ‘Say wha…’ moment to your viewers.

So to ditch or not to ditch is up to you, however when it comes to wedding posing, inspirations and creations, trust your professionals such as your wedding planner, DJ, or photographer… after all, they’re typically at a wedding almost every weekend in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Where’s Your Wedding Inspiration Coming From?

storm_0010j_mmpWedding planning is never an easy project for most couples, however it amazes me how many fantastic planning and inspirational tools are available for today’s couples within a few short keystrokes!  Actually.. it makes me downright jealous!  Eight years ago when we were planning, we had magazines, books, and a few select websites which were all heavily geared towards more traditional style weddings.  Today you can find a blog or site that is specifically catered to your personality, orientation, or wedding style.  Did I mention I’m jealous?  For those new to your engagement or looking for a little special something to make your wedding more customized, here are a handful of our favorite inspirational sites.

*Offbeat Bride– One of our fabulous couples turned me on to this site a few years ago (thanks Rebecca & Mason) and I’ve been an avid creeper on their real wedding posts ever since!  Offbeat Bride caters to non-traditional couples who can pop over to their site for a daily dose of ‘wedding porn’, advice, and inspiration.  What I love most is there isn’t a one size fits all to their real wedding posts- GLBT, plus size, cultural traditions.. nothing is off limits and every type of offbeat style is covered.  Also after the wedding, you can still check in for your daily dose of offbeat with sister sites of Offbeat Home, Families, and Empire.

davis_0498_mmp*Wedding Chicks– I love poking through this site for the mass amounts of pretty, very much trend-setting, wedding images and of course real wedding inspiration. The coolest part of this blog is the DIY section for those ueber creative couples who not only save a buck or two but love the hands on details portrayed at their wedding.

*A Bicycle Built for Two– ABB2 is definitely geared towards lesbian couples celebrating their weddings and engagements but I love sneaking a peek at how other photographers are capturing these gorgeous ladies and customized details couples choose to incorporate in their wedding day.  This site is all about real wedding inspiration but the best part is reading about how couples made the planning decisions for their wedding day and of course their back stories which are always heartwarming.

*Green Wedding Shoes– Fabulous finds and gorgeous imagery geared towards the fashionista bride is what this blog is all about.  Along with a DIY section and the real wedding gallery, my favorite feature of this site is the Galleries section where images are broken down into different categories based off of what inspiration you’re on the hunt for.  There’s even a section for honeymoon planning which who wouldn’t want to ogle some fantastic vacation hot spots?

*When Geeks Wed– Okay so I married a geek, I have friends who married geeks, and a good chunk of our MMP client family are geeks in some fashion so this site was a given on my daily blog check in’s.  From ideas on how to DIY a Star Wars themed wedding to the best bridesmaid dresses for the geeky gals, this site is jam packed with unique awesomeness that caters to all forms of geekdom.Cullison_0350_MMP

This is of course not the end all, be all of amazing wedding inspiration out there but just a few of our favorites.  What blogs or sites can you not live without or do you recommend we check out?



Post 100- Be Inspirational

With this being our 100th post since 2009 when we broke open this blog, I thought it’d be entertaining to look back personally on our first few blog entries.  I saw our first portrait sessions and the comments I wrote up to our first wedding and smiled thinking about how far our little business has come since we photographed Tina and Ben’s wedding back in May of 2009.  I still check in with and follow (thank you Facebook)  a large majority of our couples, even Ben and Tina who now have a gorgeous daughter, Nevaeh.  I love seeing that almost all of our couples are still as happy and in love with each other as they were the day we photographed them at their very best.  I also get all warm and fuzzy knowing that we’ve touched other people’s lives, hopefully inspiring them in some fashion.

The latest inspiring story was from a Maid of Honor at one of our weddings we captured in the fall of 2012.  She sent me a message which beyond warmed my heart with the following words “I just want to thank you. I have had this love and passion for photography for so long… You and Jason really fueled my fire and gave me such inspiration to really start my journey!  I really just wanted to thank you for giving me the extra push, without even realizing you did…”.  Words cannot express how much I appreciated her taking time out of her day to email me.  Starting our journey with this business has been hard but rewarding, time consuming but so worth it, and inspires Jason and Myself to be better people and better spouses to each other.  We started to venture into weddings because our very own wedding photographer, Mary Steinbacher, inspired our creativity, so to help others along their journey is one of the most rewarding measures we can do.  Each of our couples inspire me in different measures and truly one of the reasons we have all 90+ couples hanging on our office wall.  Regardless if it’s photography, the love you share with your significant other, a hobby or profession- realize that you can inspire others! 5507_4948183355288_129106882_n

Whatcha Staring At?!

I remember as a kid being told that it’s impolite to stare. Don’t stare at strangers, they might offer you candy and we’ll never see you again. Don’t stare at different nationalities, the disabled, the elderly… About the only thing that was “allowed” to be stared upon were those terrible autostereograms from the 90’s! Who could see that crap anyway?! Oh and the cat, stare at the cat as much as you want.

This weekend I came to the realization while I was staring at an image in Vogue- i don’t think people stare to be nosy but to study the person or even maybe be inspired by that person? What kind of light is shining on their face? How did they position his or her body for the image? Dear God what is he wearing? Ooo.. I should so wear my hair like that! Remember the adage when caught staring of “Why don’t you take a picture, it lasts longer”? Brilliant! Okay I’m sure when said it was meant
‘stop staring at me, you make me uncomfortable’, but in a picture you can stare and study the details and features without making the other person twitch. Unless of course you’re staring at his or her picture instead of themselves in person.. That’s just creepy:).

Be inspired and look around! Who knows the next trend or idea might be just a glance away:).

(my staring wall of friends and family)

Top 5 Questions Wedding Sites Forgot to Mention

I absolutely LOVE when couples we meet with come prepared with questions about booking a wedding photographer:). To me it shows they’re not only looking for the right fit but they’re thinking through an investment that they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives. Usually in January most wedding sites start to roll out the top questions you must ask a photographer, DJ, florist, etc. Given these are all great questions and ones we hear the most, I wanted to touch on a few we rarely hear but are just as important. Even though these are geared towards photography, some are great to ask your DJ or DOC (day of coordinator).

1. Ask to see 3 full galleries or events from your prospective photographer. Why 3? Ever hear of the saying even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once and a while, well some photographers can be categorized the same. By having the option of looking at three different wedding portfolios you can compare consistencies, poses, lighting, and content. Do you really have to look through each image in the galleries, No, but take note if the gallery contains elements that you want to see in your portfolio? Besides some of those super creative couples might have an idea or two that might spark your interest!

2. Do you provide a sample timeline for our event? You want to make sure that a plan is in action for your event so that each moment is captured and time that you’re paying for isn’t wasted on 200 images of your shoes (even though they’re sure to be awesome). Timelines are meant to be flexible, especially on your wedding day so be sure to go into more detail on how it may be followed by your photography team. No one wants a controlling, watch beating photographer, or any vendor on their wedding day, especially if flukes happen, however they should be able to help guide the natural flow of a wedding day.

3. Do you educate yourself on photography techniques or upcoming wedding trends? Photography as a whole is an innovative and ever changing creature. Gone (thank heavens) are the days of stiflingly posed photography which made way to my personal favorite: highly creative, fresh photography. If you’re a fan of editorial and fashion inspired images, you want to be sure the photographer you’re about to hire knows a thing or two about telling a story and capturing the emotion of a wedding day with various lighting techniques and poses like you might see in Vogue or Vanity Fair. Don’t mistake education of techniques and trends to a collegiate degree- even some of the absolute best photographers out there have degrees in other areas of study, or none at all.

4. How do you determine the best way to pose us? Imagine this, you open your album to a friend or a co-worker and she says ‘Wow we did the exact same pose… all of them..” Okay she might not say that or even notice, but posing isn’t a one size fits all technique. Posing should feel natural but different than standing around the water cooler at work. Some couples have more outward emotion to one another and look great in a snuggly pose, where other couples might feel uncomfortable kissing on camera. The photographer you choose should talk with you on what you’re comfortable doing on camera as a couple and be respectful of wishes… not too racy, oh my mom would love this pose, I hate looking at the camera, etc.

5. Have you ever turned down a wedding or event? Okay, yes it was odd for me to write this down on my post-it note as well. Here’s my thought with this question. I believe you should look for a photographer who knows what a good fit is and what isn’t. I personally wouldn’t want to book a client who is looking for very traditional, on camera flash photography, because that’s not us. I also want to make sure that our personalities mesh well because you’re hiring us for one of the most important days of your lives and we’re with you for 8 hours or more. Your consultation with a photographer, and almost any vendor, is an interview on both sides of the table. 100% comfortable is the goal for any vendor you book for your wedding day!

Bonus points: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Creative! We’re in a creative business and inspiration is all around. Some photographers find this through education and learning, some through paging through wedding magazines or blogs for trends, and some by networking with other photographers. My best example of personal inspiration is being outdoors, watching the light patterns and textures, and educating myself with great sites and courses for photographers in our field.

Sure this isn’t the end all, be all of questions you should ask your photographer or any other vendor for your wedding, but these are the offbeat questions that may help in narrowing down choices.

Happy Planning!


Who Has Inspired You?!

We (Jason and I) like to think that everyone has at least one couple who a person might have looked up to for months, years, or their entire lives.  This couple might have been his/her parents, grandparents, or even friends, who through thick and thin, they are always together, fighting through everyday life but not forgetting about each other.  These couples are strong, loving, and compassionate towards one another and are truly inspirational couples. These couples inspire our own romances!

For Jason, his inspirational couple is his parents.  Watching his mother and father taught lessons of putting another person’s needs before oneself, always finding ways to tell the other person that they’re in the forefront of their thoughts, and establishing that a family bond should never be taken for granted.  Melissa’s inspirational couple is her grandparents who’ve just celebrated 51 years together, always call each other dear and honey, and can laugh and share openly with one another.

In celebration of these couples we’re opening up another session giveaway for the month of April.  If you’d like to recognize an inspirational couple and nominate them for a free session, please email a brief description of why you find them to be an inspirational couple, their names, and an image of the couple to no later than April 14th, 2012.  From April 15th-April 30th, voting will take place in the Inspirational Couple Facebook album on the Melissa McClain Photography page.  The couple who receives the most likes or comments on their image will win a free session at a location of their choice, an online gallery for a year, and 2 free 8×10 images.

Be sure to nominate the couple who has helped shape your romance!


Jason’s Parents

Melissa’s Grandparents

Dearest 2012

Dear 2012,

As we feel truly blessed and honored to work with so many people in 2011, we’re looking forward to adding more unique and fantastic people to the MMP client family in 2012!  Thinking back to where we started in late 2008/ early 2009 of shooting our very first weddings, learning the ins and outs of running a successful photography business and keeping our priorities in line, I never imagined where we would be today!  I look forward to seeing how each of our goals tie into this year’s events and two words I personally will be leaning on.  Inspiration and Hope.

I want each of our clients to feel inspired!  Inspiration is everywhere from Pinterest, to conversations, to hopes and dreams.  Inspiration is my drive and hope is my dream.  Hope is always keeping the positive side in mind, even if things go awry or out of plan and yes this sounds a little Miss America like, but such is the life of an empathetic optimist.

Wishing all of our friends, families, and especially our clients who are a part of the MMP family, a very happy, hopeful and inspired 2012!


[2008- Taken on our honeymoon to Ocracoke Island during our trash the dress session.. i.e.  Camera on a Tripod, Trigger in hand: Hope’s origination]