Meet Kailyn :: Summit + Co (United States)

We kicked off a new series in January featuring traveling photographers from around the world (most recent feature here; to date, the list includes Italy, Canada, United States, Vanuatu and Australia). We make no secret of the fact that we love travel. We love learning about other cultures. We love contributing to a smaller, more interactive space. With this in mind, we are going to be sharing local stories by local photographers from around the world throughout our posts this year.

This month takes you to North Carolina (with a couple of extra places included - just for good measure)! Lovely Kailyn has some fabulous local recommendations for ice cream & coffee and some thoughful musings from her international travels. It has been a pleasure to get to know her through the dialogue that is inevitable when coordinating these features. Kailyn, would love to take you up on your invitation to reach out if we find ourselves in your beautiful neighbourhood. Thank you for joining in and for sharing stories from your part of the world (and world travels) with us! Enjoy!

 

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South Carolina (Image by Summit + Co)

Hey there! My name is Kailyn. I am a creative who thrives on adventure. I seek out emotion and the ever-present hum of humans experiencing this amazing life journey. Thank you so much for giving me a bit of your day to read about one of my favorite things - TRAVEL!

For the last few years, I have been hanging out in Charlotte, North Carolina. My fiancé and I are a photography + videography team specializing in birth, love, and life in between. We have a pup that is part-coyote (don’t tell anyone) and a cat who is 100% attitude. 

If I am being really honest, I am a mountain girl. I moved here from Colorado, and that is home to me. We will be back home before long, but for now Charlotte is so good to us. One thing I love about this city is that it is so entrepreneur-driven. Everywhere you look, someone owns a business, which means there is someone you can learn from. This community is so supportive—definitely community over competition—and we love to lift up our small and local businesses.

Camp North End - Charlotte, North Carolina (GIF by Summit + Co)

I have traveled quite a bit, but the United States has always been my home base. One thing that amazes me is how diverse this country is. You can get a COMPLETELY different experience based on where you go and who you interact with. I love the outdoors, so if you make it to the states, I definitely recommend the Rockies. Colorado’s back-country has soooo much to offer and is plastered with beauty. If you’re on the west coast, Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park are my two favorite NPs. Yosemite was the only time that I have ever entered a national park and was immediately speechless. The rock faces are old with wisdom. Regal and breathtaking, yet unforgiving. They are something everyone should experience.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah (Image by Summit + Co)

Colorado Springs, Colorado (Image by Summit + Co)

Asheville, North Carolina (Image by Summit + Co)

Boulder, Colorado (Image by Summit + Co)

Boulder, Colorado (GIF by Summit + Co)

If we’re talking world-wide, one of my favorite recent trips would have to be to Australia. I was blessed with the incredible experience to photograph a wedding at the Whitsunday Islands, and it was AMAZING. There are plenty of reasons to go to Australia—the friendly people, the free city tours that dive into incredible history, getting punched by a kangaroo or eaten by a spider in one bite—but what I loved was the coral reefs. We got the opportunity to snorkel in The Great Barrier Reef, and the colors were spectacular. The most vibrant, neon colors occur naturally in the coral and the fish. That said, the reefs are dying due to a whole slew of man-made causes. I think if more of us take time to really appreciate this beauty, we will put more energy into protecting it. Whether it is in your own back yard or all the way across the globe, we can help nature and we can help each other, so don’t be afraid to do just that—help.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia (GIF by Summit + Co)

Whitsunday Islands, Australia (Image by Summit + Co)

Whitsunday Islands, Australia (Image by Summit + Co)

If you ever find yourself in the states and we happen to be in the same area code, I would love to meet and hear about your journey! You can also follow along with our adventures (we will be in Ireland soon!) at www.instagram.com/the.girl.and.her.dog or www.summitandcophoto.com/blog. In the meantime, if you make it to CLT, here are a few great local pit stops: 

Everyone loves coffee, right? Actually not me. I don’t drink coffee at all, but I know my fellow travelers do! If you are ever in The Queen City (Charlotte, that is), we have a handful of coffee shops called Not Just Coffee. I can’t speak for the taste or quality of the coffee because, well, I don’t drink it… but every one of these shops is so Instagram-worthy. From a photographer’s standpoint, the lighting is awesome and the energy in the shops is so chill. If anything, stop in for a photo.

We also have the MOST AMAZING ICE CREAM. Listen, I don’t like ice cream. I know, I know: it’s amazing that you’re still listening to me. However, we have a few shops called Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and, let me tell you, they know what they are doing! They have super fun flavors like wildberry lavender and sweet cream biscuits with peach jam. They also have options for my fellow vegans, like dairy-free Texas sheet cake. Our CLT locations have great murals right by the shop. Get a scoop, snap a pic.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – Charlotte, North Carolina (GIF by Summit + Co)

I hope that you get to travel. I hope that you get to experience culture. I hope that you get a chance to embody a new perspective, and understand life from the eyes of another. More than that, I hope you get the opportunity (and take the opportunity) to help another person—to lift them up. I’ll close it with my girl Mother Teresa, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving better or happier”. 

Hang loose,

Summit + Co.

Crested Butte, Colorado (GIF by Summit + Co)

Wilmington, North Carolina (Image by Summit + Co)

Canyonlands National Park, Utah (Image by Summit + Co)

Crested Butte, Colorado (Image by Summit + Co)

 

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You will find Kailyn here:

Information :: What Makes an Image Important

Narrowing down the options when choosing a wedding photographer is typically multifaceted. You want to love the photographer's work. You want a personality that "gets" you as individuals and as a couple (put simply, you want someone relatable!). You need to be able to afford them. With this is mind, some of the most important reasons for why we blog regularly (fyi: we blog once a week and this is our 128th post) are:

  • to tangibly demonstrate how passionate we are about our role as wedding photographers

  • to show who we are and what this means to you as our client

  • to share tips and ideas

Essentially, the kind of information that we are hoping will be important during your decision-making process. Today, we are sharing a little more about us & some food for thought for our clients. A recent discussion about some of our most memorable & personal images to date was the catalyst.

We work really hard on perfecting our craft. We focus a lot of attention on people skills, composition, chasing the most ideal light, depth of field... have we lost you yet? ;) We decided to strip all that back during our discussions and we challenged each other to think of our personal favourite images (rule time: we could only pick a maximum of 2 images). Of course, we both gravitated to ones that have all three of us in them. However, we currently do not share images of our daughter, Chloe, online. So we started again. Naturally, our minds drifted to favourite shots of the two of us - mostly taken during travels. With that in mind (and as the exercise was beginning to feel too easy!), we narrowed the criteria down even further: Pete had to choose two images that featured only him and I had to choose two that only featured me.

{Try this for yourself! You might surprise yourself with what you end up choosing. Actually, why don’t you stop reading now and pick out your two all-time favourites. We’ll come back to yours in a moment.}

In the end, Pete settled on one image. He felt that this one summed up everything for him:

I chose two as they are from a similar time period (same year) but during very different experiences and I find the polarity striking:

Interestingly, all three are “okay” images (definitely not terrible). However, are they perfectly composed? Was the lighting nailed? Honestly, does it even matter? All three tell a story that is important to the subject. Pete chose his representative image for a range of reasons. Skydiving was a dream come true. He was proud of himself for taking the risk. Pete experienced freedom that comes with… well, jumping out of a plane with all risks carefully calculated. I chose my graduation image as I was (and am) so proud of this achievement. It is something that was the result of hard work & dedication. I chose the one from my first time experiencing snow. This moment features in one of the top 10 days of my life to date. Experiencing snowfall was (in my case, anyway) a magical moment. I don’t usually take selfies but this was a moment I wanted to freeze forever - literally.

When you selected your two images, did you think anything along these lines, “I really like x one but I can’t possibly keep it! If I took it again, I would make sure I was a little more off-centre. If it followed the rule of thirds, I think I would be more inclined to keep it”… “Hmmm, this is a good one but the shadows on my face are too pronounced. I think I will scrap it. Shame really as it always makes me feel happy when I look at it!”… “Oooops - the highlights are blown! Forget it! …

Correct me if I am wrong but I am guessing that you chose based on how looking at those images makes you feel?

Capturing an image in such a way that the subjects feel something for the rest of time is at the heart and soul of wedding photography.

In conclusion, we wanted to take this opportunity to re-frame the importance of capturing the moments that are important to you. Yes, we will strive for perfect composition, image processing, lighting, timing, & storytelling. However, we will not compromise storytelling & capturing raw emotion at the expense of perfection. We want the resulting images to tell your story; not be representative of our “brand” per se. We want you to love your wedding photography for a lifetime.

Milestone <3

This is our 107th blog post.

Odd number, we know.

However, it marks 2 years of hitting ‘save & publish’ on our weekly blog. We have been shooting together since 2009 (10 years - what?!) but blogging for 2 years. Our first post (here) was from Terrence & Rebecca’s 2016 wedding.

We all know that we should slow down a little more than we do so, in honour of celebrating the little milestones, cheers to us!

Topics we have covered have included:

  • Weddings

  • Creative shoots

  • Photography tips

  • Travel (both domestic & international)

  • Brisbane (local events, our recommendations & so on)

Thank you for following along with us! We have appreciated every single one of you. Looking forward to the next 107 blog posts and the growth that comes with the journey.

Information :: Our Personalities

Pete & Em. We have already introduced ourselves here. We have shared our priorities in blog posts regularly (such as this one). However, there is a little more about us that might be of interest to our clients.

From our wedding by Lady Jayde Photography; the parent life means that we don’t often get shots of just the two of us these days ;)

Our personalities.

We are very different. Pete is the extrovert; Em is the introvert. Pete is driven by logic; Em is driven by emotion. Pete embraces posing & taking the time to set up the perfect shot. Em embraces photojournalism & allowing the moments to unfold. Pete enjoys interacting with people & helping them to relax in front of the camera (sometimes Dad Jokes play a role; after all, Pete does get a lot of practice with little Chloe). Em enjoys making sure the raw emotion & details of the day are captured. Pete works best with lists and makes sure that our shooting follows the plan. Em goes with the flow and works best in the background. Opposites attract.

We celebrate our personality differences (as well as our individual interests and “eye”). We play to our individual strengths. I guess you could say that our personalities and different strengths are some of our unique selling points. When you choose Poppy & Sage Photography, you sign up for your story to be told two different ways. We look forward to working together to capture Your Day. Feel free to contact us here:

Information :: Wedding Budgeting Tips (The Photography Version)

Wedding Budgeting. Two words that are almost certainly guaranteed to induce tachycardia in brides & grooms the world over. Where do you start?!

Figure out your priorities and budget accordingly.

Is it the dress? Is it car hire? Is it the honeymoon? Only you two as a couple can figure out what should be at the top of this list.

Of course we are biased. ;) We could regale you with all of our personal reasons for why professional photography should be somewhere in the top 3-ish but we will limit ourselves to just a few (please do not think that any mention of other vendors serves to minimise their contribution to the day - all vendors are equally important!):

Plan for the event that the budget could be blown due to unforeseen costs.

We have listed the cost of photography with us on our website. If the numbers line up with how your budget looks, we’re happy to meet up and have a chat in person. The next step is to see if we’re a good fit personality-wise. Feel free to contact us here:

Lavender & Berries Wedding Inspiration at Country Weddings Queensland, Australia

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend! We are thrilled to share one of our most recent shoots. The shoot took place at an exciting new wedding venue: Country Weddings Queensland. This stunning property is located on Maitland Road, Burpengary 4505. David & Kerri, the personalities behind it, are a delight to work with; their warmth and hospitality is memorable. Any couple that chooses to celebrate their big day at Country Weddings Queensland is in for a treat.

The entire team behind this shoot made the process seamless. Special mention, though, of the talented duo behind Emunah Events. Carissa & Serena are responsible for the 1) planning, 2) styling and 3) floristry! Thank you, once again, for all the hard work (mostly behind the scenes) that goes into a project of this size. It all came together perfectly - thanks to your determination and efforts - and matched our initial vision to a T! Emma Blakey & Dorrion Kroon made shooting a breeze; such a delightful couple. Finally, a big thank you to each of the businesses; we enjoyed working with all of you and your individual outstanding products/services! Looking forward to seeing each of you around in the near future.

Vow Renewal: G+C <3

Greg & Claudine renewed their vows at beautiful Newstead Park, Brisbane. When we had coffee with them initially to make sure we would both be a good fit, we were struck by how family-oriented they were. Nearly everything came back to family. They were renewing their vows as family had been unable to make their overseas wedding. They wanted the focus of the images to include candid family moments. On the day, we offered to over-deliver on time but they were concerned that they would keep family from going out and celebrating together. A truly special and lovely couple. We wish them many adventurous holidays around the world on their motorbike. The location was beautifully styled by Beach & Garden Ceremonies and we worked alongside Simply Special Events on videography. Here are just a handful of highlights from the day. <3

The way Greg looks at Claudine <3

Claudine looking like a queen <3

Elephant in the Room :: Pinterest

tl;dr: The best outcome is borne out of compromise.

Expectation vs Reality

Ah, Pinterest - in short, it's both a blessing and a curse.

When we were in the position of the client, we printed off the images we found that resonated with us and provided them to our wedding photographer. We get it. Totally. When it comes to weddings, there are so many different styles and concepts out there. Pinterest really gave me (Emily), in particular, some much-needed clarity during the planning process. Not even sure how brides figured it all out before Pinterest, to be honest!

We (Poppy & Sage Photography) have set some boards up to (hopefully) make life easier for our clients:

We are on your side, of course. However, like most things in life, Pinterest is not simply black and white for us. ;)

Tammie Joske (a photographer) states: "Photography is one part art, one part science, one part math, and that extra something else we can never put our finger on - usually we call it a 'good eye', or natural talent". We agree. You need all four components for a truly outstanding image. When you are busy focusing on replicating an image produced by someone else, there has to be compromise somewhere along the line. In addition to the above-mentioned components, there are usually environmental variables to account for, too: lighting, colours, natural elements*, to name a few. If everyone is okay with that, we can work with any situation.

[*For example, the image sourced from Pinterest might have a lot of movement in it from wind. We may need to bring along a leaf blower to replicate this situation. ;)]

I (Emily) worked at a small pharmacy on the Sunshine Coast for several years. One of the pharmacists I worked with was equally left- & right-brained (we'll call her Anna). To keep both sides stimulated, she worked as a pharmacist some days of the week and a hairdresser on other days. Hairdressing clients would come to Anna with cutouts from magazines or from hair colour boxes with the request to make their hair the same colour. Anna would ask the client a couple of questions to gauge what was motivating that particular colour choice (especially if she thought that the colour might not suit them best and she needed to find a diplomatic way to suggest a slight variation). One day, she mentioned that she had noticed an interesting phenomenon. Anna said that it very often became apparent that the client was more attracted to the image of the person rather than the hair colour per se. She found that stripping the situation back and addressing the colour alone was, in some cases, quite challenging. Sometimes the client genuinely seemed to think that they would look more like the model if their hair colour was similar.

This is just one aspect of how the concept of expectation vs reality can play out.

Some would say that this grey situation can stifle creativity and limit the creation of unique content. We would not disagree.

In addition, spending time replicating images has the potential to disrupt (to one degree or another) the organic flow of the day.

HOWEVER, a lot is dependent on the situation for us. We will explain where we are coming from.

If we are doing a personal project for our portfolio, we'll go out with a model and experiment... explore our creative realm... take risks... push boundaries; that is our personal creative release.

If we are shooting an event for a client, we are respectful of your wishes - including inspiration derived from Pinterest. No questions. No judgement. It is not our day.

Ultimately, you are hiring us to capture your story your way. One big aspect of our business model is to work closely with our clients. In fact, one reason for why we provide two photographers for weddings is so that one can be responsible for ensuring that we meet the brief given to us by the client. We print off communication from our couple (including Pinterest suggestions and the questionnaire) and that shooter has the responsibility of keeping the brief on track.

In addition, we love that Pinterest means that we see less matchy denim pants and white shirts, peeking awkwardly around trees, terrible studio backdrops that are Awkward Family Photo-worthy, and so on. Pinterest definitely has a place in the wedding photography world. On a personal note, my travel board is bursting at the seams and I am okay with that. ;)

Final Thoughts

Feel free to bring your lists from Pinterest to us. We will happily work through them.

One final thought is buried in this adage:

Don't give the client the images they want. Give them the images they need.

Information :: Offer for Engaged Couples

Hope this finds everyone well. We have introduced an offer for engaged couples into our packages. This offer allows you to book your engagement session with us ($350) and then if you choose to book your wedding session with us, too, you are entitled to $250 off the total package price. You can read more about what we offer on our FAQ page.

Elephant in the Room :: Wedding Tax

tl;dr: Things are rarely as black & white as they might appear.

Wedding vs Event

When talking about organising weddings, one often hears two words bandied about: wedding tax. When we were busy planning our own wedding, we had well-meaning people give us advice along these lines: "Call up x business and say that you are enquiring about an event. Call back a few days later regarding the same date but state that it is for a wedding this time. You can bet there will be a significant difference even if you mention that the same number of people will be involved. It's the wedding tax".

At the time we thought this was a great suggestion. We did not have time to implement the process ourselves but the concept sounded plausible, for sure. However, since starting our own business in the wedding industry, this additional cost concept has popped up again but from a different angle.

Personal Experience

We own a photography business. Here are just some of our personal expenses: Camera bodies. Different lenses for different purposes (macro, portrait, landscape, to name a few). Travel. Continuing education. Legal paperwork. Software licences. Website host. Website build. Memory cards. Hard drives. Flashes. Batteries. Computer. Insurance. Registration. Marketing. Advertising. Accounting. Tax. Liability. And, of course, time.

Time for: Planning. Emailing. Culling. More emailing. Editing. Emailing (again). Oh, and sick days and limited holidays (necessary for health, contentment and the opportunity to work to the best of one's ability) also need to be factored in there somewhere.

All of these costs need to be accounted for. Moreover, the higher your costs, the more you need to charge the customer for your services. The more you charge the customer, the less competitive your pricing becomes. Adding an additional cost on top of the cost to run your business reduces your business' perceived value. We have a cost-of-doing-business spreadsheet and I can assure you that there is no column for "wedding tax".

So why can wedding services cost so much? The short answer is that different businesses work from different models depending on individual market drivers. We will explain.

We have an amazing business mentor in Las Vegas: Josh Line from Josh Line Photography (professional headshots). One of the first things Josh recommended that we do was to read "Oversubscribed" by Daniel Priestley. Daniel lists four main drivers of market imbalance: innovation (these businesses secure for themselves a niche position in the market), relationships (these businesses invest time in their clients and really get to know them), convenience (these businesses focus on producing the most frictionless solution to client needs), and price (these businesses create an imbalance in the market based on price). You will find these applicable to most, if not all, industries (wedding-related or not). The specific individual driver for each business you approach during the planning process will influence the price you are quoted - more than any arbitrary and ambiguous additional cost in the form of a wedding tax.

Furthermore, we recently read an article entitled The Wedding Tax Is Totally Real Except When It Isn’t. In it, the author (Rachel Sugar) interviewed a high-end planner who works in New York state. He explained the reality of his job like this: “If I ask a corporate client what kind of chair they want, I show them one or two options, and they say yes. If I talk to a bride and groom about what kind of chair they want, it’s a 25-email exchange. Your mom has a chair she liked sitting in at the last wedding she went to; your dad has an issue with pillows and seats; your groom wants long, rectangular tables; and you want round tables. I price so I can stay sane.”

Real Life Example

Lovely Anna, owner of Raw Cotton in Swan Valley, Western Australia, sums up how most of us feel in the bespoke small business industry: "When buying from a hand maker, you're buying more than just an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experimentation. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of Pure Joy. You aren't just buying at thing. You are buying a piece of heart. Part of a soul. A moment of someone's life. Most importantly, you are buying the artist more time to do something they are passionate about. So thank you for supporting me". (Check out Anna's instagram @rawcottoncollection.)

Final Thoughts

Our advice is to find products and services you love and/or people you value and want to support. We all have a story so find one that resonates with you and your priorities and get behind that small business. Even if you are someone who would score much the same as your cat on an empathy quiz, we are sure that you can appreciate why Rolex charges the amount it does as compared to Quartz. If you're on the market for a Holden, you won't go to a Lambourghini dealership and ask them to match Holden's price.

Work out your wedding budget and set your upper limit. Be realistic. Source your three quotes and get to know each of the businesses at the same time, if possible: you might find you're not ultimately drawn to the lowest price. Perhaps you don't feel like a number with one and they allocate more than enough time to get to know you. Perhaps another one is a standout based on product or service alone. Perhaps another one is hard to beat for price. Or another one offers the most convenience at an already stressful time in life. Figure out where your priorities lie; perhaps you want a unique venue or designer dress or stunning cake? Whatever it is that adds to your story as a couple, find the product and/or service that meets your criteria and support the hardworking people making it all happen. We want to wish you a smooth, fuss-free (wedding tax-less) journey of wedding planning!