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Wedding at Pleasantdale Chateau Who? : Rachel + Joseph

What? : Preparations, portraits, and reception at a chateau in West Orange, New Jersey.  Ceremony at a nearby church.

Where?  Pleasantdale Chateau

When? : April 2019

Springtime is a tricky time of year to get married.  You might find yourself with a brilliantly bright day, sunlight streaming through trees, birds chirping, and a new warmth making the day shine.  You also have a chance of living out that saying of April showers bring May flowers.  Let’s be honest, while we love the idea of a flowery May, no one wants their April wedding to be a washout of rain and wind!

When I talked to Rachel the week of their wedding, we talked about how we had a 100% chance of rain on their day.  We discussed all of the amazing indoor places that Pleasantdale has to offer for rainy-day wedding portraits – The greenhouse!  That pool! – but I knew her heart was really set on some outdoor images.  Luck was with us, and the rain stopped long enough for us to create some gorgeous images on the foggy, dreamy grounds of the chateau.

Rachel and Joseph, thank you.  Thank you for darting out into the fog with me, mist in your hair and wet grounds underfoot.  Thank you for laughing with me, trusting me with your memories, and allowing me to spend such an important day with you.  Thank you, thank you.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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Wedding at the Loews Hotel Philly Who? : Alexa + Ryan

What? : Preparations in a hotel and an AirBnB in Philadelphia, ceremony at a church, portraits in the park, and a reception in the Loews Hotel Ballroom

Where?   The Loews Hotel Philadelphia

When? : April 2019

The bold documentary style has drawn us both in. We like the creative and artful touches (fades, bokeh in lighting, mirroring and strong angles are very nice). We are both drawn to the colorful/psychedelic styles and would love to capture this if possible.

Bold documentary style?  Creative touches?  Mirroring?  Strong angles?   Colorful style?  When I read this note from Alexa and Ryan in regards to their wedding photography I knew I was all in – as if I wasn’t already.  Alexa and Ryan are the sort of people that bring the sun with them wherever they go, from the incredibly sweet way they are with each other to the way they laugh and forge bravely into some of the craziest Philadelphia wind I’ve ever experienced.

From the wind sweeping them through a shower of rose petals down the steps of their church to crawling under scaffolding in the pitch dark for a breathtaking rooftop view of the city, Alexa and Ryan are the kind of clients that wedding photographers dream about : bold, creative, artful, and strong.  They themselves are colorful and extraordinary, so it’s no surprise that they wanted that reflected in their wedding images.

What a dream, what a windy dreamy dream their day was.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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Estate at Florentine Gardens Wedding Who? : Deanna + Francis

What? : Preparations at home in Staten Island, ceremony at a church on Staten Island, portraits and reception at a hall in River Vale, New Jersey

Where?  The Estate at Florentine Gardens

When? : April 2019

Spring weddings are incredible.  We get to see the sun, which we’ve been missing for months.  The days are longer, sweeter, lazier.  Timelines have room to breathe, because we’re not rushing against an early setting sun.  Deanna and Francis had just one of those days.  Gorgeous weather, a sweetly emotional church ceremony,  a delightful amount of time to create portraits in between the ceremony and reception, and two of the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet committing their lives and futures to each other.

Deanna and Francis have a special kind of magic.  They’re gentle to each other, make each other laugh, and despite disagreeing about the excellence (or lack thereof) of ABBA-based musicals, they’re a perfect fit.  It was no surprise that their day was also a perfect fit for the two of them, balancing sweetness with humor, a gorgeously grand venue with an intimate, family feeling.  Watching a couple like this become family is one of the great joys of my job, and being there to document it?  Indescribable.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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Susan Stripling Photography by Susanstripling - 1M ago
Nassau Inn Wedding Who? : Freda + Da

What? : Preparations and tea ceremony at a Princeton hotel, ceremony at the University chapel, portraits on the college campus, and a sweet, small reception inside an inn.

Where?  The Nassau Inn, Princeton University

When? : March 2019

“Tingting and Andy are friends of mine and they spoke highly of you and your service. We would love to have you as our photographer for our wedding.”

On the contact form of my website there is a section to tell me who referred you to my business.  Da wrote the above, and it just goes to show that the best marketing is happy clients.  I’ve said that for years, I say that when teaching other wedding photographers, and it’s been a constant throughout the nearly two decades that I’ve been a wedding photographer.  Make your clients happy, and they’ll tell their friends.  It’s really that easy.  Tingting and Andy had an AMAZING wedding several years prior, and it is so heartwarming to know that they still remembered me, and that they’re still telling their friends about me!

Da and Freda were married on the kind of late-winter/early-spring day that makes you love this time of year.  It was cold, yes, but the light was brilliant and bright.  The Princeton campus was quiet, and we had the kind of timeline that wedding photographers dream about : ample time to create portraits, no rushing, an easy experience for the couple and their families, and space to breathe and enjoy the day.

From getting ready at the Nassau Inn to long walks across the college campus, everything unspooled and unfolded like a dream.  There was gorgeous light, a wonderful collaborative team, and a reception that ended with a shower of sparklers and a sweet kiss at the bottom of the steps.

“Simple.  Quiet.  Classic.”

When asked how they envisioned their wedding day, Da and Freda told me those three words.  And their day was just that : simple, quiet, and classic.  Full of love and sweetness, calm comfort and beauty.  It was an honor to document the day for them.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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Wedding + Vow Renewal at the Vizcaya Who? : Christine + Jared

What? : Wedding in Miami in 2009, vow renewal at the same venue in 2019

Where?  Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

When? : March 2009 and March 2019

Talk about full circle.  I met Christine and Jared for the first time way before their 2009 Miami wedding – we were all living in Tallahassee, Florida, and I’d been commissioned to photograph their engagement session.  I still remember walking around downtown Tallahassee (remember Gallie Alley, you two?) as vividly as I remember traveling to Miami for their wedding.  Since 2009, I’ve photographed many other things for this remarkable couple as they have since added three hilarious, wonderful children to their family.

Christine and Jared are, simply put, tremendous people.  Individually they are hilarious, warm, welcoming, razor-sharp smart, charming, gorgeous, and kind. Together?  They’re a supernova of sunshine.  It was a ferociously huge honor to travel back to Vizcaya for their vow renewal on their tenth anniversary to create some more images, this time with their children.

See you back in Miami in 2029?  I’m there if you’re there.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their portrait session in 2019:

And a few favorites from their wedding in 2009 : time flies, am I right?

The post Wedding + Vow Renewal at the Vizcaya appeared first on Susan Stripling Photography.

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Susan Stripling Photography by Susanstripling - 2M ago

I have sat down to write this several times, and the only words that keep coming to mind are “Holy sh*t. I did this.  I finally, finally DID THIS.”

WPPI GRAND MASTER.

To explain to the muggles out there (that’s non-photography folk), WPPI is “the largest show for professional, amateur and emerging wedding and portrait photographers and filmmakers, drawing attendees from all over the world for 4 days of conference, content and business building interaction.”* It’s a convention that I’ve been attending for eighteen years. It’s a place where I’ve met friends, friends who became loves, loves who became family. It’s a hectic, batshit crazy adrenaline rush of a week with classes, parties, meet-ups, competitions, camaraderie, trade show wanderings, and so very much more.

In short, it’s one of the best weeks of the year.

I went to WPPI for the first time when I was a brand new photographer. I knew maybe two people attending, had no idea who any of the speakers were, didn’t even know what the classes were all about, but I hopped that plane to Vegas from Florida ready to learn it all. I went back the next year, when I was pregnant. I went back the next year, and the year after that, and the years after that. I learned. I made friends. I met my husband in a hallway en route to some social event or another. I met contacts at the trade show that are dear collaborators and supporters of my business to this day.  Every industry friend that I have can be traced somehow  back to WPPI.

I began speaking and teaching there. First small classes, then to larger ballrooms. I stepped foot on a demo stage at the trade show for the first time at WPPI, graduating to bigger stages, culminating in being a speaker for Canon USA. I fumbled with my words, my keynotes, my ability to translate technical ability into tangible takeaways for class attendees.

I also started entering print competition.

What is that? Well, to also borrow words from WPPI’s website , “WPPI’s The Annual: 16×20 Print, Album and Filmmaking competition is the most prestigious wedding, portrait and print competition in the world, and the capstone event of the WPPI Conference + Show, with an awards ceremony honoring the most illustrious photographers of the year, many of whom spend their entire year preparing for this competition. The competition culminates with live judging at WPPI’s yearly conference and a gallery exhibition at the show taking place in Las Vegas. Prizes include the Grand Awards and crystal trophies.”

Every year I took the time to sort through my images from the year prior, culling and culling again to get that final dozen or so of the best of the best. The images that made my heart sing. The images that depicted the decisive moment. The best light, best pose, best examples of my technical and artistic ability. I had them printed, packed them with gentle hands into their shipping cases, sent them to Vegas, crossed my fingers, and lived and died over the two days of judging until I saw how I did.

Sometimes I did well. My scores were great, I won awards, I managed to get two coveted Grand Awards, I gave some speeches, my trophy case grew. Sometimes I did terribly, and I’d find myself hiding in a Vegas bathroom stall angrily wiping at my eyes with tissues until the hurt of a bad score stopped stinging. Sometimes the yearly glass of champagne post-awards ceremony that I shared with my friend Justine was a glass of celebration, sometimes a “we blew it this year” drink of misery.

But you know what? Every good score, every bad score, every lovingly assembled print case – it all made me better. A better photographer, year after year. A better teacher and educator, as I balanced between entrant and judge. A better human being. A more sympathetic creator of images. A more careful holder of the frantically beating hearts of every other entrant who put their feelings and their work on the line when they dared to share their work with a panel of judges.

There is an Honors of Excellence point system with the WPPI competition. Your top four scoring entries (no matter how many you enter) go towards your Honors of Excellence point total. I could tell you about how the point system works, or you could just read it here – their site describes it better than I ever could.  Your points and “wins” help you rise up through the WPPI Titles and Designations, which are:

  • 

5 points = Associate of WPPI title.
  • 15 additional points (for a total of 20+ points) = Master of WPPI title.
  • 15 additional points (for a total of 35+ points) = Double Master of WPPI title.
  • 15 additional points (for a total of 50+ points accumulated) = Triple Master of WPPI title.
  • 15 additional points (for a total of 65+ points accumulated) = Grand Master of WPPI title. NOTE: In order to actually receive the Grand Master of WPPI, the member must have also received 5 gold awards or above and at least 1 Grand Award from The Annual: 16×20 Print, Album and Filmmaking Competition (past Premiere Grand Awards don’t count) at some point during their time in the program. The Grand Master of WPPI title holds a lot of prestige. It will be difficult to obtain because of the amount of skill and longevity that is needed to achieve it. But it is still attainable enough to encourage members to work towards that title. No one who earns this award will be unworthy of it—they will have earned it over a number of years and with consistently highest scoring prints.

I have been entering The Annual: 16×20 Print, Album and Filmmaking Competition since 2007. I have entered a total of 107 prints. I have lived, died, breathed, cried, rage-screamed, and cartwheeled over my cases of images every single year.

And this year, I became a Grand Master.

I am only the seventh person in WPPI history to do this. The second woman. And the first and only female wedding photographer.

To say I am overwhelmed is a vast understatement.

Here are some of the 107 images over the years that have helped me reach this point:

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Ocean Club Bahamas Wedding Who? : Jenny + James

What? : Rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception at the Four Seasons resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas

Where?  The Ocean Club

When? : January 2019

I first met Jenny and James at Jenny’s sister’s Philadelphia wedding.  I was immediately besotted with Jenny, Meredith, their brother, their parents, and their entire family.  At once loving, tight-knit, warm and welcoming, they’re also funny, sweet, and know how to throw a spectacular party.  When Jenny’s amazing event planner Tracie Domino called me about Jenny’s destination wedding, I practically tripped over myself with my excitement to work with this amazing family again.

From the rehearsal dinner by the beach to dinner and dancing under a tent covered in fairy lights, the entire weekend was perfect.  I know that words on wedding photography blogs start to sound the same after awhile – everyone has amazing clients, everyone has amazing weekends, every venue is amazing.  But these people?  This weekend?  These families?  Amazing is the only word for it.  I can’t wait for the next wedding, the next party, and the next time I get to work with these spectacular human beings.  Jenny, James, Meredith, Meredith’s James, Andrew, Carol, Bob – you’re the best.  Always and forever.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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Wedding at Philly’s Union League Who? : Sophie + Vincent

What? : Preparations and reception at an iconic Philadelphia venue, ceremony at Christ Church

Where?  Philadelphia’s Union League

When? : December 2018

Sophie is a wedding photographer’s dream.  Sweet, soulful, and willing to do whatever it took for a great image.  Whether it was getting ready next to a window in the dark, sitting patiently with her wedding party for a dramatic group portrait, or perching on the Union League’s grand staircase for a solo shot, Sophie was all in, all day.  Sophie and Vincent are warm, loving humans with warm, loving families so it was no wonder that their day was warm and loving as well.  Winter weddings in the dark?  I’m there, every time.

The post Wedding at Philly’s Union League appeared first on Susan Stripling Photography.

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Susan Stripling Photography by Susanstripling - 4M ago
Winter wedding at Front and Palmer Who? : Samantha + Eric

What? : Preparations at the Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia, ceremony at Christ Church, portraits in Headhouse Square, and reception at a former Philly barrel factory.

Where?  Front and Palmer

When? : December 2018

All wedding photographers have favorite venues : it’s just a fact.  Some might love a space because of the sweeping lawns.  Some might be drawn to a particular venue’s swirling spiral staircase.  Some might love how the light plays across a patio at cocktail hour.  Me?  I’m most drawn to light, to the dramatic juxtaposition of shadow and highlight, to warmth, kindness, and more than a healthy sense of drama.

Front and Palmer is one of those venues.  Cozy, intimate, theatrical, unique – it is all of those things and so much more.  It also holds a huge place in my heart, since this is where my husband and I were married!

This whole winter wedding was pure Philadelphia through and through.  From their preparations at the iconic Hotel Monaco to the classic grandeur of Christ Church, nighttime portraits across from my favorite pizza place in the crisp cold winter air to the most charming of receptions, the whole day was Samantha and Eric through and through : just wonderful.

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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Wedding at Quantum Leap Winery Who? : Kalen and Zachary

What? : Preparations in an AirBnB, first look at a nearby park, ceremony and reception at a winery.

Where?  Quantum Leap Winery, Winter Park, Florida

When? : December 2018

I fell in love with Susan’s work because it is pure art. Her creative eye and ability to capture the unexpected is unprecedented. We love her elegant, documentary-style photos and want her to feel free to get as artistic as she wants! We trust her fully and will be so proud and honored to hang her pictures on our walls and share them with friends, family, future children, potential employers, the checkout lady at Publix — Really just anyone we can.

As if I weren’t already enough in love with Kalen myself before she filled out my Wedding Day Worksheet, this paragraph above sealed the deal!

I first met Kalen and Zachary through email, as is often the case with destination clients.  However, we also got to meet – which is not often the case for destination clients.  Kalen and Zachary are both incredible performers at Universal Studios in Orlando, and I got to see them sing when I was there on vacation this past summer.  Seeing them in their element like that was electric; they’re dynamic talents with huge stage presences, and their love for what they do is so palpable.

I knew their wedding day was going to be uniquely, amazingly them…and it was.  From Kalen’s Broadway-themed playlist while she got ready to her sparkly makeup-kit-on-wheels-with-lights, they had me at the very beginning.  Add to that custom leather jackets, a first look near an alligator pond (we didn’t see alligators, thank goodness, Florida I’ve missed you), nighttime portraits lit by the headlights of Kalen’s dad’s vintage car, a first dance by a barbershop quartet, a sparkler exit from the ceremony to the reception, and one of the best bands I have EVER HEARD, the day was a heart explosion from start to finish.

Kalen and Zachary, you two are magic.  There is no other word for it.  I am deeply thankful from the bottom of my heart that you brought me to Florida to document your day.  And I hope you managed to get packed by the time your flight took off for Germany on Monday…

Here are a few of my favorite images from their wedding:

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