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Thursday, May 31, 2012

AHP 52 Week Photo Challenge - Week 23

AHP is starting to notice a pick me up lately! The nice weather + wedding season = busy Amy (and a happy Amy!!) It is going to make this weekly photo challenge even more challenging for me this summer but I am determined to keep it going! I hope with the craziness of the summer...and life that you all will keep up with me! And by the way... we're almost HALF WAY THERE! Can you believe it????

Last week's PEACE theme was nice for me. Many of us gravitated toward nature which I feel is so fitting! I had a graduate school professor who would always advise us to find water when we were having a problem. Water would help calm the mind and solutions would come. 
He was a very wise man.

This week is going to be hard for many of you because, well I want a NEW photo! Don't cheat!! But the reason I'm picking this theme is because today, the first day of this week's challenge and next Wednesday, the last day of this weeks challenge are both birthdays (my Grandmother's 94th and my...ah-hem 29th...respectively). 
Since most of you won't experience a birthday in the next week, I still want you to think along the "birthday" theme lines and interpret this theme in a fitting way. Remember a NEW photo!!!

The AHP 52 Week Photo Challenge theme for Week 23 is: BIRTHDAY!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

AHP 52 Week Photo Challenge Week 22

Our creativity was stretched as I gave you a quote to interpret as the theme last week.

"The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness." 
Lao Tzu

In my mind the quote immediately pointed me toward the growth occurring in my garden and how I've felt about gardening this year. I've had a backyard vegetable garden many years in a row but had to take last year off because we were moving. Having my garden back this year is therapeutic and I've already got bigger and better plans for next year! 

This week we'll take a step backward and focus on a more straight forward challenge....I think. 
The AHP 52 Week Photo Challenge Week 22 Theme is:

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!!
Happy Memorial Day :-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kaelyn - Child Portrait Photography - Albany New York

I've been photographing Kaelyn for quite a few years now. She is one of my daughters "besties" and we get together often. I love it when I get to photograph her and see how much she's grown over the years. She was so great in front of my camera this time around- posing, taking direction, smiling...she's growing into such a beautiful little girl!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Boudoir Sneak Peek- A. Hedges Photography- Albany NY

I have been dying to show these images!!! These images were put into an album by a lovely bride-to-be for her wedding day gift EVER, right??!!! 
So I had to keep things under-wraps until he was presented with his album. Well I'm happy to say they're hitched so now I can share!!
The transformation that took place blew my mind! She was beautiful before but, just like me, she's a busy mom who doesn't always have time to rock out with glamourous hair and makeup every day. Her personality even shifted...she was strong, confident, sexy in front of my camera! 
Sarah McDonald did an incredible job with her styling which resulted in an amazing session! 

Let's just start with the amazing before and after shot- SPEECHLESS!!!

And the rest of the session, just breathtaking!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A. Hedges Photography Wedding Blog Series ~ Pt 5 ~ The Winding Brook Country Club

At first I was going to apologize for this's a BIGGUN! But after putting it together and reading it over I'm just going to say "you're welcome"!! This is a special post- the bride, her florist and her DJ all contributed. It will give you an idea of how one vision comes together to create a kick butt wedding!!

If you haven't seen the photos from this wedding you've obviously been living under a rock.  I mean epic!! The location, the decor, the bride, the cake, the food- I could go on, but you get the point. This wedding had it all.

Before reading on take a gander at their wedding blog post HERE ....seeing more of these wedding photos are a must!!!

This wedding took place at the groom's family owned business, the beautiful Winding Brook Country Club in Valatie, New York. I asked the bride and groom to contribute to this series from the position of a couple getting married at the family business.

Here's what Meredith had to say:
Winding Brook Country Club can offer an array of vendors with whom they often do business, but since I knew a bank of djs, an amazing florist, a killer photographer (you may have heard of her!), and a couple of incredible cake shops, I didn't need to take them up on those particular vendors. I did use their linens and chef (OMG!) and their party rentals guy, Aviator Tent Rentals, for the settings. 

Because I knew the Head Chef, Bob Yates, at Winding Brook was a culinary artist, I only had so many particulars. Once Bud and I chose the three main dinner choices - Filet Mignon, Sea Bass and Seasonal Ravioli - and went over the salad, soup and some hors d'oeuvres that we specifically wanted, I really let him have culinary control. Because not only did I trust him, but I described my desire to have the Harvest/fall theme come into play with the food, and he completely understood and enjoyed the idea. He loves to incorporate fresh, locally grown food into Winding Brook's kitchen. It is not surprising to find his own vegetables from his garden making their way into a dish. I love that! So when I found lamb with mint julep (no, we had never discussed this) at one of the tables and mini reubens being passed around, I was more than pleasantly surprised.

According to my husband, the pros outweigh the cons in hosting your own wedding at your own place of business. Seeing that Winding Brook Country Club is family run, all of those details of ordering and preparations and final adjustments fell to the family of the groom. I could only help so much because I don't know the ins and outs of running a golf course and banquet facility. The hardest part for them was the month and final week leading up to the wedding. Fortunately, Bud said the day of the wedding didn't feel like work. A huge pro was, obviously, the cost benefit of holding it at the family business. Of course we saved money. The wedding we put on would most likely have cost double. A humorous pro that Bud mentions, and I quote, "We could do anything we want." Aside from bringing in circus elephants, the Austin's were going to be very accommodating for their first born e.g. special ordering golf carts for the ceremony procession. 

Because my and Bud's favorite time of year is fall, it was a no-brainer that we'd get married in October. Plus, the golf season was coming to an end, so it was a bonus that we wouldn't have to worry about the club being TOO busy. The colors were easy to choose because I love the reds and browns and oranges of fall. All I did was tell my floral genius, Martin Dodge of Drops of Jupiter, the colors I wanted, and he chose each flower. I knew I wanted different levels of centerpieces on different tables and green apples incorporated into cylinders with branches (I had seen something similar years before at a wedding), but that's where my creativity ended. Where he took my idea was above and beyond amazing. And he put maple trees up in the dining room. Additionally, it was his idea to do a chocolate linen, so the settings really stood out. A simple, yet perfect idea. It looked incredible.

An outdoor ceremony is no easy task especially when you're on a golf course. There were people golfing! It was not necessary to shut down the course as our ceremony would be very short (approximately 15 minutes). I think that's really the only way you could do it, and it most likely wouldn't have happened if I said I wanted to get married in July ie busy season. The golf pro informed the golfers before they want out that they should replay whichever hole they found themselves at at 3:00. Another con is deciding on how many chairs you'd need for such a short ceremony where you assume many will just stand and when exactly to put them out, for you don't want to interrupt someone's golf game. There had to be flowers put out to indicate the aisle and where the wedding party and officiant would stand. Plus, you needed something to inform the guests where to go when they arrived. The biggest con of all is the weather. It rained all day. By some twist of fate, or act of God, the wind died down and the sun came out right at 3:00. Pure dumb luck. The only pro of holding it outside is that if all conditions are right, and you can pull off a procession of golf carts while timing it to the music, you have a completely unique and memorable way of saying "I do." And we did.

I see no cons to having a First Look. I guess because I was nervous and jittery - it all was about the outdoor ceremony, and if it would work - I forgot my veil and jacket. That wasn't a big deal to me. Your makeup is fresh. You've only been wearing the dress for a short while. And you get a moment alone to appreciate how each other looks without getting into all the nervousness of standing in front of people repeating your vows. Plus, it allows you to get to the party a lot quicker. I had never heard of it until Amy told me about it, and Bud and I were like "hell yes, we wanna do that!" It would never ruin the moment of the traditional walking down the aisle and seeing your bride for the first time, because you do get to see your bride for the first time...all by yourself."

And those AMAZING florals...Thank you to Martin Dodge- Meredith's bouquet could take over the world I think and between his amazing design and my photo we're pretty much everywhere ;-)

I asked Martin about working on this wedding- 

1.The vision and inspiration for Bud and Meredith s Wedding came from "Meredith". My Primary goal as Floral/Event Designer is to bring all of my brides visions into reality and to reach even further beyond their expectations. Meredith was a fantastic Bride to work with, she knew what she wanted and the rest she left to my artistic discretion. It was a Fall inspired wedding, she explained all the elements that she was drawn to, such as...... beautiful autumn leaves, green apples, miniature pumpkins , uniquely shaped gourds, pheasant feathers and more. 

2. As an Artist, I think, breathe and dream “Creativity”   having an endless stream of ideas. Combined with my hard working ethic and construction knowledge, I “know” that anything is possible. Bringing the outside “in”. ( Large Autumn trees) is just one tiny example of the infinite possibilities of how far Drops of Jupiter will go to enhance your wedding day experience. 

3. Flowers have always been a symbol of Beauty. They are beautiful, vibrant, elegant and calming. Not only pleasing visually but also has a fresh, sweet fragrance. We are capturing the beauty of Nature and sharing it with your family and friends. 

4. The process of hiring Drops of Jupiter from start to finish is a very smooth and stress free experience. It’s a very simple process, which can be done in person or remotely via computer or telephone. We first begin with logistics – the day and time of your wedding, location, numbers of guests, tables/ centerpieces, the number of Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, (Bridal Party) etc….

Secondly, we ask that the couple have clear budget in mind, (a maximum amount that they wish to spend on the flowers and décor). Once we have the logistics down and budget in mind, then the fun part begins. “The Flowers” (varieties and types) , the style, the colors and the overall look/design. Often the bride has photos or some sort of inspiration that allows us to have a clearer picture of how she envisions her special day. Throughout the meetings/correspondences Drops of Jupiter will frequently offer unique design suggestions meant to even further enhance the brides vision/wedding day atmosphere……… 

Finally, once all is accounted for and there is a very clear and vivid idea of the brides vision … then an proposal is typed, listing all the items with a detailed description of each item, as well as its monetary value. If everything looks good on the proposal, the bride and groom sign it and you have officially booked DROPS OF JUPITER FLORAL DESIGN STUDIO for you wedding day. 

5. Aaawh yes.... Budget constraints. 
Creating is my passion. For me the greatest magic of all is to take something so "intangible", like an IDEA ........and bring it into REALITY. like Magic. However, bringing those ideas into reality takes MONEY. Flowers, Supplies, Labor, Taxes, Transportation, it all cost Money. I want each Bride and Groom to know that above anything my primary goal is create their vision and push beyond their expectations. Creating a beautiful experience. I've worked on dozens of Muti-Milllon dollar weddings and dozens of $1,500 weddings and everywhere in between. So its all very relative as to where each client stands financially and how much they value beauty, atmosphere, aesthetics, flowers and design. 

6. popular trends.... Well for decades now there has been an ever increasing divide between the very common local Florist/Flower Shop and a new generation of artists called Floral Designers opening Floral Design Studios and Floral Boutiques. Now that the floral industry is a Global Market we are getting not only new and unique flowers from distant countries but also an enormous variety of unique tropical leaves. Leaves have now become a large part of each design. Designers have learned methods of manipulated leaves, folding, cutting , bending them in stylish ways. Carnations are Back. when properly used in groupings are great for structural arrangements of floral art. 

7. Now a days in the high style main stream Floral industry there are many trends that are fading or that the standard local Florist still uses today however very cliché .... Fading trends .....such as ..... the classic oversized bow on Flower vases, "Baskets" in general, arrangements composed of a "mish mosh" of colors, There are many "old wives tales" or random out dated tips on how to care for flower arrangements. Often in small local flower shops or super market floral departments you'll find Flower arrangement with a "mish mosh" of colors. This a Modern Floral designers nightmare. 
Now that we live in the age of technology and the internet, getting ideas across are easier then ever. Drops of Jupiter encourages our clients to use any means Necessary to truly explain there vision. And for those who might wish to be inspired we have an arsenal of photos and ideas.

8. A few tips: 
a. Have a Budget in mind when you sit down with your Florist/Floral Designer. It helps us come up with a design plan that fits within your budget.
b. Its always best to have some sort of inspiration to share, a photo/photos to help get your vision across .
c. Enjoy every moment. 

9. I certainly respect the “DIY” (do it yourself) attitude. And there is a bit of romanticism in the idea. Although the reality is, there are endless details to planning and setting up a wedding that many “DIY” couples don’t realize at first glance. It’s a lot of work and stress. Its your ” Wedding Day” , its a very important milestone in our lives. It should be a magical experience. Leave the details, the work and the stress to the professionals. We are masters of our trades, its our passion and our mission to make your “Wedding Day” as wonderful as possible. 

10. Drops of Jupiter’s design style is endlessly evolving. We can design everything from earthy Adirondack style weddings, to Ultra Modern, to “over the top” celebrity style designs. We gather our inspiration from the beauty of Architecture, Nature, and Art.

And finally Brother Lou Roberts was the incredible DJ that evening. Here is his take on great wedding entertainment: 
Being a wedding dj is different than being a radio dj. They are BOTH personalities. When you’re on the radio, you don’t see your audience. You interact with people in a different way, whether it’s on the phone or email. You’re always thinking about what people are doing when you’re on the air. Radio is a personal thing. One of the first things that I learned was you’re talking to ONE person, as opposed to a group. I’ll use the word “you” a lot. I don’t say “everybody.” That makes the person listening feel like you’re talking to them, and not anyone else. Think about this when you’re driving in car by yourself. For weddings (and parties), you’re talking to a group of people that are in front of you. This is where you walk out from behind you equipment, and talk to people. I love seeing people’s reactions when I say or do something either in person, or on the mic. There’s a great feeling that I get when I see that I made someone smile or laugh. 

When I’m asked to stay and play overtime, to keep the party going, I keep in mind what songs that I haven’t played that I know are usually songs that people love to dance to. This comes with many years of experience. As with most djs, I use a computer program that allows me to have a category of songs that I can just drag in to the playlist and play them. This can be done with a list that a dj can have when he needs it (a cheat sheet). I also use a request list. Most of the time, the guests will request great party tunes. A little note about overtime: Make sure that it’s ok with the management of the facility. Sometimes they only have their staffs hired for a certain amount of time and frown upon staying longer.

To book a dj, there are a couple of ways to so that - email, phone or a dj service. This is how the dj and customers can get the information that they need to start the booking process. I prefer the old fashioned way - by phone. I think it’s a little more personal when you talk to someone as opposed to writing an email.This is where you’ll set up the date and time of the contract of the event, and the amount of money needed to hire the dj, including deposit and overtime fee. When I get a deposit (which is non-refundable), that goes towards your balance of for the total cost of your event. All of these factors makes sure that your date is guaranteed. The contract protects both the dj and the customer. Ask as many questions as you can about the dj’s services, and also give the dj as much information that you can. I did some work for Piano Man’s DJ Productions. They have djs that work for them, and they take care of the booking of the djs. I actually learned how to do some different things at parties and wedding better from working for them. 
As for meeting with the bride and groom, I leave that up to them. Most of the time, I have just done everything over the phone. 

When I send the contract, I also include an information sheet. This is what I’ll be using when I’m playing at the reception. This is filled out by the bride and groom. It’s the list of names of the people in the bridal party and the songs that you want to have your first dance to and who’s doing the toast and/or blessing. It also tell me if there’s anything special that you would like (someone’s birthday, special songs for people, nicknames of friends and relatives, dollar dance, throwing of the garter and bouquet, and any songs that you would like played or not played) Something that you may want to keep in mind -  if you don’t want something played, for example “The Electric Slide” , your guests may want it. What I do is ask permission. I usually ask if it’s alright to play if I get some requests for it. Most of the time, that’s fine. You want your guests to enjoy themselves. It’s YOUR special day, and that’s entirely up to you whether you want that played or not. 
Most people choose a few songs for me to play that they want to hear. Sometimes they’re not songs that you can dance to. I’ll suggest playing them during dinner, after all, you’re hiring a dj to keep people dancing. 
I’ve had brides and grooms set up entire playlists for me to use. There’s nothing wrong with that, although it might be a good idea to allow guests to make requests to play, too. 

If there’s a specific music style or genre that you want played, you must let your dj know. In my case, if it’s something that I don’t think I will do well, I’ll suggest getting another dj that may have more experience with what you want. I want to make sure that YOU’RE happy. I’m on the air at WGNA. I’ve had people call me and say that they just want country music played. I almost always explain to them why they may want different  kinds of music mixed in. Unless you’re having a reception that all the guests are country music dance fans, you may end up having a lot of people just sitting around, and maybe leaving your reception early. 

When you look for a wedding dj, you may want to look into what they will do. This is what separates a dj from an entertainer. Will that dj interact with your guests or does the dj just sit behind their equipment and just play music? Can your dj handle something special that you would like? ie: If you want to acknowledge and spotlight someone special at your reception. Can your dj recognize that a certain kind of music isn’t working, and can change it to get your guests dancing? These are also reasons that would want a dj (a human being) instead of an iPod or MP3 player. Your dj will make your reception something extra special and personal, that your MP3 player can’t do. Each wedding reception is “taylor made.”
(watching the mother-son dance)

For music requests from guests, I try to play as many as possible. If I know that a song isn’t something that people can dance to, or is something that’s really off the wall, I’ll tell them that I don’t have it (which I probably don’t), or I will try to play it. A song can change the atmosphere and fun factor of your reception. I will admit, I’ve played some songs that I didn’t think would work, and that song turned out to be one of the best songs that I played all night. 

When you’re planning your wedding, make sure that your dj has as much of the information they need to help keep your reception go smoothly. The more prepared the dj is, the better they can give the bride and groom the reception that they want, and EVERYONE that was at your special day will be talking about how much fun they had for a long time to come.