History is important. We review it and learn about it to grow from it, but also to be inspired by it—hopefully to make a difference with our lives. As a wedding photographer, we want our images of family beginnings, as small as each individual family’s impact on the world is, to be a reminder to them of their own history…and their love and what was important to them. That's why we consider our work “investing in a marriage," rather than just covering the events of the day.
Will & Jen's faith was woven deeply into every aspect of their wedding day, especially during their emotionally melodious ceremony. In all its movement, tears, expression, and gratitude, it is a rich piece of their history they'll never want to forget.
As we spend nearly every moment with both the bride and groom (Eastlyn with the bride, Joshua with the groom), we realize more and more that the treasure of photography is a humbling thing to take part in. During weddings, we have front row seats and backstage access to our couple's favorite day—one of the most life changing days of their lives! Being this close to our couples on their most personal day, is almost like being part of the family and we feel the emotion as such—tearful, heart aching joy.
Will & Jen both got ready in West Alexandria, Ohio at Ascension Life Church, the church that Jen grew up attending, and had their ceremony in its backyard. The bridge crossing the creek was built by Jen’s father for his very own wedding so many years ago, so before the ceremony, with the brook trickling beneath their feet, he said a blessing over the couple on it.
Jen’s 20s-style veil was partially sewn by her grandma who she also calls her best friend. When Jen was a little girl, she would pick wildflowers with her grandma and put them in baskets, so for their wedding, Jen asked her grandma to be her “flower-girl” and carry a basket of flowers to represent this part of her story.
Children from both their families announced the processional of the bride by ringing bells, and the remaining children carried her train. Like a dream dipped in gold, each angelic little one was wide-eyed and bursting with excitement to be part of this storybook wedding day.
Friends played live music, and the couple took communion together. At the recessional, the guests yelled “hurray!” and threw lavender in the air, and Will and Jen ran away with the kids.
For their sunset portraits before the reception, we drove down a country road and stopped at a soybean field. Jen wrote a little bit about the location on Instagram: “When I was a little girl, I'd walk this country road with my friends down to the old, white school house. We'd swing high till sunset and talk about the sort of men we thought we'd marry one day. Between the giggles and silliness, I told them about a blonde-haired boy with blue eyes who took piano lessons from my stepmom. Will and I lived 12 minutes of back roads from one another while dating. The halfway spot was just a jog beyond the simple schoolyard of my childhood. We drove the road often for three years, and witnessed countless evenings of soybean fields painted gold, faint pink skies fading to dusk. On the day of our wedding we told our photographers that we didn't want to think much about where our portraits would be after the ceremony, that we trusted them to choose. It was a pleasant surprise when they unknowingly led us to this familiar road, our secret middle-place. The sky seemed to burn for us that October evening. In these small details I find evidence of God's rich presence and faithfulness.”
We concluded their perfect day with a dessert & coffee pour-over reception in Jen’s grandma’s barn; and surrounded by a community of family and friends, they nearly danced right through the floor (literally)! _____
Although they knew each other since they were children, Will and Jen spent most of their dating relationship apart as they both went on separate 9-month mission trips around the world…9 months for Will and when he came home, Jen went away for 9 months too. Their story is that of patience and adventure and growing love. Truly, their impression on our own lives has been full of blessing and grace; and we can't wait to see where life take them next.
Jen & Will, thank you for inviting us into your lives to be part of your story as your wedding photographers. It was an extreme blessing and honor.
Set in the quiet countryside of Findlay, Ohio, otherwise known as “Flag City USA,” is a brand new and enchanting wedding venue called Scarlet Oaks Estate. Surrounded by huge trees and a white picket fence, it’s grand and old, full of character, wood floors and victorian-style windows that fill the home with rich natural light.
It was the perfect setting for Sierra & Gentry’s handcrafted wedding. Sierra’s dad built the teepees for both the ceremony and the reception, and Gentry’s mom, by trade an interior designer extraordinaire, helped with arranging the florals and tables and overall reception and ceremony decor, including the bagel boards, flower crowns and bouquets. The tambourines were each handmade and used during the recessional and the send-off. The bride designed her own dream dress using a lace romper from The Dolls House Fashion UK and a tulle skirt by Daria Bukreevaand—it was one of the most gorgeous dress we’ve seen for a wedding!
Sierra and Gentry didn't do a first look, but they did do a first touch and worship. At this time Gentry gave his bride a letter he had written to her for this moment and then they sang and prayed together. In the images it looks like Gentry can see Sierra, but he actually kept his eyes shut the whole time. They were planning on remaining back to back during this moment, but they wanted to put their faces together. Sierra’s eyes welled up with tears when Gentry kissed her cheek, and Gentry resisted opening his eyes to see his soon-to-be wife.
Sierra and Gentry’s circle of friends surrounded them with hands of sincere love and poured their hearts out in prayers of blessings throughout the entire day.
The sun painted the ceremony with it’s unrelenting, but welcomed, light and cast leaf shaped shadows across the congregation of cheering guests. It followed the couple throughout the evening with its soft, romantic glow until it melted into purple twilight as they danced the night away.
See their stunning desert inspired engagement session at Silver lake Sand Dunes here. Click played and and relive their day through the images below.
As Photographers, the very first time we experienced the “fog” effect during a photo shoot was by accident during engagement photos with Kyle and Sam over a year ago. When we planned the session, Samantha's only request was to use smoke bombs. When the day of their session arrived, we went to Hoover Dam reservoir in Columbus, Ohio and there, found a beautiful grove of pine trees. Because it was late evening, the sun was low and creating harsh directional light and long shadows. After taking a few shots, we decided that this was the perfect spot to use the smoke bombs. We positioned Kyle and Sam in a light streak between two shadows, and then Josh lit a green smoke stick and ran around them. As the smoke moved through the air, Kyle and Sam embraced and kissed; and with a Mark iii and 35mm, I photographed the back-lit subjects, taking one shot after another. It wasn't until we looked through the image playback that we realized what we created together.
Originally we were imaging that the smoke would create clouds of color around them, but because of the sun's position on this cloudless evening, the effect was much different from we expected. In fact, because of the direct sunlight the original color of the smoke was not even recognizable (as seen in the images below).
Because of this breathtaking result, we wanted to add this effect into more of our sessions. However, because of the toxic nature of smoke, we decided against it since it really isn’t healthy for our clients.
Several months later, at a proposal shoot our friend and videographer, Daniel, pulled out an aerosol can and started spraying it in the air, filling the forest with a gorgeous environmental haze. Amazed by this ‘magic fog in a can,’ we asked Daniel about it. He explained that it’s called Atmosphere Aerosol, the brainchild of Knoxville wedding photographers Joe and Kathleen Adkins. As soon as we got home, I got online, and excitedly ordered a case of twelve cans.
We now add its rad effects in various sessions. Through trial and error, and a lot of practice, we have been able to meet a variety of looks using this unconventional product. In our review below, we give tips on using it, and five reasons why you should have a can of Atmosphere Aerosol in your camera bag too.
1. It's Long Lasting
If you’ve ever tried using smoke bombs during a photo shoot, then you know that almost as soon as you lite the wick, the smoke dissipates, really only allowing a few seconds to get the shot—you may even have to use up to twenty smoke bombs before you capture the mood that you envision. With Atmosphere Aerosol, if the air is still (not windy/breezy) the haze lingers, giving you ample time and more creative freedom to capture the mood you want to invoke. According to Adkins, if sprayed continuously, an 8 oz can empties in about 5 and half minutes and the haze will linger for around 8 hours!
When we use it, we spray for 5-15 seconds at a time, and around 5 sprays for each shoot. So according to the makers behind Atmosphere Aerosol, that’s enough to last for about six shoots.
We do not use this product daily or during every shoot, only when we feel it matches the personalities of our clients; but still, a single can has lasted longer than we ever expected. As mentioned before, we bought twelve cans over six months ago and just finished off the first one! Because of its quality and longevity, we believe that it's a great value and definitely worth every penny.
Atmosphere Aerosol - Spray Time - YouTube
Pro Tip: Unlike smoke it’s great to use indoors. Since inside air is still, it’s a great place to practice using it. However, make sure you open a window because if near a smoke alarm the aerosol's flammable nature (similar to a can of hair spray) will certainly make it sound.
2. Unlike Smoke, It's Nontoxic to Breathe
You can feel free to use it liberally without causing your clients to pass out. Although it’s safe to breathe in during normal use, it's unwise to ingest. According to its designers, “Never aim sprayer directly toward your face. If ingested, seek medical attention.” After reading this warning, we were curious, and researched its ingredients, which include propane, butane, and mineral oil. According to Adkins on PetaPixel “Hair spray cans, aerosol shaving cream cans, and other pressurized canned products such as PAM cooking spray use propane and butane as a propellant. When Atmosphere Aerosol is sprayed, a small, non-harmful amount of gas propels the spray and quickly dissipates, leaving the mineral oil in the air.”
Because the ingredients are clear, using it will not stain wedding dresses, suits, other fabric materials or walls.
Pro Tip: Although it does not stain, when used indoors, the mineral oil in the Aerosol makes the floor slick so try to keep it contained in one room. When we used it heavily in our attic, the door was open, allowing the haze to drift down the stairs and fill most of the rooms in our house, finally settling on the floor. Some reviews say that it does not leave a mess, but we had to mop our entire home. Despite the sticky floors, we’re still super excited about the indoor image results.
Atmosphere Aerosol using artificial light behind the bride
Atmosphere Aerosol used indoors during sunrise
3. It's Easy to Carry and Use
Unlike an expensive fog machine that requires electricity, Atmosphere Aerosol comes in a lightweight can that is smaller than a 70-200 lens, so it easily fits into most camera bags.
When the conditions are right, all you have to do is spray directly into the light.
Check out this video to see it in action:
Atmosphere Aerosol - How to use it at a wedding - YouTube
4. It Illumines in Light Rays & Gives Extra Dimension to Your Photos
If you have ever driven down a country road shortly after dawn, then you’ve likely seen how the morning mist makes the rising sun’s rays visible. This natural occurrence is one of our favorites because the environmental conditions make the light seem tangible, as if it's touchable. Atmosphere Aerosol has given us the ability to create this mood almost anywhere—as long as direct rays of light are not obstructed by clouds, it works flawlessly.
Pro Tip: In order to get the best results outdoors, the sunrays should be low and direct, like in the morning or evening. We have found that it also works best when the beams are split-up with something like trees or barn wall slats. This allows you to see multiple rays, instead of just one solid section of light. When using the aerosol indoors, it's best when the sun is directly shining through the window—the time of day varies, as it depends on the window's location. If you see patches of “chunky” light contrasted by shadow on the floor (like seen in the video above), this is a good indicator that the conditions are right for a little fog inside.
(Notice in the video above how the slats on the staircase railing is separating the sunlight into sections? So cool.)
The Atmosphere Aerosol allows you see the shadows of Ari's fingers in the haze--invoking the feeling that the light is touchable.
5. Our Clients Love the Results
The best part of using Atmosphere Aerosol is that our clients, their friends and family have loved the dynamic results of their photos.
Although scenery and special effects create gorgeous imagery, the goal of every session we shoot is to accurately document the honest connection of the couple. Using Atmosphere Aerosol may not fit every client’s personality or relationship. That’s why long before we take their photos, it’s important to find out what visually makes our clients feel alive so that we can accurately assess whether to pull out our “Fog in a Can.” For those sessions that we have decided to use it, the true beauty to us is each couple’s unique connection--the illumined sunbeams just actuate it.
You can pick up your own can of Atmophere Aerosol by clicking on the image below, be sure to use the code Eastlyn15 during check-out to get 15% off your entire order:
In the middle of the rainiest May, the sky greeted Ben & Hannah’s wedding day with nothing but the sun’s golden beams and warmth. Because the unrelenting spring had been flooding the area, no one knew what to expect. However, when the long-awaited thirteenth finally arrived, the ground was dry and the weather was flawless.
When Ben & Hannah reached out to us about photographing their wedding day, they originally chose an old Victorian style AirBnB home in northern Indiana. Not long before their date, however, the host had to cancel their reservation. It was definitely a trying and heartbreaking situation, but after some digging (and a little pleading with the owners) they were able to book Terrapin Village Bed & Breakfast in Oregonia, Ohio; and this site was better than Ben & Hannah could ever imagine.
As their family members arrived at Terrapin Village, they drove down into the valley and saw sights of a historical covered bridge over a pristine dammed creek and a waterfall cascading over its stones. On the right stood a red-roofed mill house, shaded by towering sycamore trees. Just rustic enough to give it that aged charm, the mill house was in every way a pleasing ascetic to the eyes. Its wooden floors, stone fireplace, gigantic beams and huge cross paned windows, allowing the rooms to be filled with natural light, added to its appeal.
Right beside the mill house, Ben & Hannah had their intimate ceremony. The runner that they used is special to Ben’s family because it is handcrafted by the Amani women in Africa. As they waited to adopt their littlest sister, Ben’s family lived in Africa for a time. True to the culture, the tapestry is arrayed with bright colors and sayings about marriage, and it was used by both his sisters at their weddings.
Tears streamed down Ben face as he watched Hannah approaching him with her father; and Hannah gleamed with excitement as she breathed in deeply, taking in every moment. Both their dads officiated the wedding, and when they were married, every one threw flower petals in the air.
The blacksmith barn on the other side of the creek is where Ben and Hannah had their family dinner.
Ben’s siblings prepared the cocktails, espresso and coffee pour overs (checkout Juniper Coffee Cart); and for supper everyone enjoyed homemade Indian food. Owner of the Bakiest in Cincinnati, Hannah wanted to make her own cake for their wedding. It was the best collaboration and most celebratory family dinner we’ve experienced.
Bistro light strung across the property created the perfect mood for the emotional speeches given by Ben’s brother and Hannah’s sister. And as the sun set, and the stars came out, the tribe danced the night away.
We’re grateful for intimate experiences like this, and even more so for the people who invite us into them. Ben & Hannah, you’re both incredible people and we’re thankful for you and thankful to be your wedding photographers. We will always remember your celebration as one of the very best of our career.
When we first met with Chase & Kasey for their rock quarry engagement session last September, we knew that we were kindred spirits. In the months leading up to their wedding, we have been honored to get to know them and hear more of their story; they have shared with us, not only through conversation, but consistently and publicly through social media. With each new #chasingkase post they shared--whether it was a letter, a memory from their nine-year relationship, or an open prayer--our hearts have been inspired and uplifted by their selfless love. Their public praise of the other's character and their ceaseless gratitude toward God for what they repeatedly described as their most treasured gift, demonstrated to us the purest truth found in love.
Finally the wait was over, and their May wedding day at Pine Springs Estate literally arrived with the sureness of spring rains. It intermittently poured, but misted continuously from morning to night. Most of the time, rain is not welcomed on a wedding day, but for Chase and Kasey, only thinking of their future together, they chose to embrace its blessings; and it certainly was a gift for the senses.
To tell stories in their context and give a reference of time, Joshua and I like to walk around venue properties and take photographs of the location's surroundings and capture elements of the weather. So as we strolled through the wondrous mist around this Union, Ohio home, low and soothing sounds like a cello bowed, met our ears. With each droplet that kissed the garden landscape, a new and resonating song rose through the atmosphere with the calm wind. The ozone released its perfume, as it accentuated the fragrance of earth's skin; the vibrant foliage and its muddy home smelt heavenly under the precipitation.
In rain boots and under clear umbrellas, we walked back to the Estate home, utilized every ounce of window light we could find and left plenty of time for them to just be. Reflection and enjoyment are words that embody two very priceless gifts on a wedding day--and this beautiful couple, their best friends and family, never feeling rushed or worried, had both.
After the sweetest first look and family portraits on the big front porch, everyone walked through a row of towering cedars to the white canopy for the ceremony. The ceremonial moments were filled with love brimming to overflow. At one point, the bridal party gathered around the couple and literally prayed over them. At the amen, all where in joyful tears, and embraced one another with deepest gratitude for this long awaited event. After saying their handwritten vows, Chase and Kasey were at last pronounced husband and wife; and the celebration was in fullest motion in everyone's hearts.
The day was coming to a close, and we thought it could not get any more wonderful; but then, the setting sun broke through the silvery sky and transformed it with a gradient of brilliant oranges. Its crescendo, as you may have already guessed, was the most radiant double rainbow we have ever witnessed. It was a visual representation of their covenant on that day.
In closing, we hope Chase and Kasey's story inspires future brides & grooms to let go and embrace whatever may happen on their wedding day. Amidst dark skies and unrelenting rain, there is still beauty and perfection. After all, a wedding is not a marriage, and wedding is just a momentary commemoration of a lifelong commitment to your best friend. You can't control the weather, but you can choose to dance in the rain.
In the brutal wind, sand swirls up and off every dune crest as it is slowly recreating its own landscape. Its shape is in constant change, but moving forward, it is only becoming more beautiful. Like Gentry and Sierra's relationship; in this moment in time, they may feel as if they know each other fully and love as much as possible. However, as the days go on, and life's constant wind of change continues to take hold in their lives and bring them closer together, their love will only grow deeper, never to fully settle. There is always a deeper picture in creation. A way to remind us of relationship, and ultimately perfect restoration and harmony.
When we started planning the stylization of their engagement session, Sierra told me that she loves the desert aesthetic because of the band, The Killers. When She and Gentry were first starting to get to know each other, Gentry made her a mixtape of their songs and sang them to her. She shared that certain songs quickly take her back to different times in their relationship. Because of this, I knew we had to incoropate this idea into their photographs.
However, living in the Midwest, we're far from any real desert. That why we chose the Silver Lake Sand Dunes in Michigan. With the harsh lake winds blowing across the vast and rolling dunes, and the horizon line being unobstructed for the sunset, the elements are perfect for creating depth and the perfect illustion.
Before their session, Joshua and I met Gentry and Sierra at MadCap Coffee in downtown Grand Rapids, and spent nearly two hours getting to know them, laughing at Gentry's hilarious jokes, and learning more about what's important to them. When we finally arrived at the dunes, it had become colder and windier. The gusts blew sand in our eyes and ears, and Sierra endured the biting and frigid breeze against her bare skin; but despite that, she and Gentry never complained. They were lost in the moment of experiencing this majestic place for the first time. They were with one another, embracing, laughing, dancing and creating memories for the rest of their lives.
In all honesty, we couldn't have created any of the images below without this incredible couple's willingness to put their full trust in us. We honor that and are beyond humbled to document this irreplaceable time in their lives. That may sound like something a photographer is suppose to say, but we genuinely mean it. Joshua and I often have conversations about how blown away we are that we get to work with people like Sierra and Gentry. It will always be a gift, and we want to steward it well.
As dawn broke on this cold February day, the brisk southwestern wind whistled through the surrounding woodland, and the first light of day filled the tree house cabin with its warm good morning rays. Stephen started the morning by making Dagger Mountain Coffee pour-overs, and he and Kaity enjoyed the warmth of their mugs as they cuddled on the corner couch. The rest of the day was filled with music, worship and a little bit of forest dancing.
Stephen and Kaity are incredible people and truly are shining lights in this dark and hurting world, and we wanted their photos to compliment that truth. So as it illumined their genuine love, and formed around their embrace, Joshua and I were determined to make the morning rays feel tangible. With a special technique, and the use of shadows and harsh lighting, we were able to accomplish our goal for their photos in the tree house.
Joshua and I are so humbled and honored to be part of their lives, not only in photography, but also to be their friends. We love them.
For Joshua and Rachel's portraits, because the Midwest winter is dead and brown, we decided to go to a Christmas tree farm to incorporate the lively colors of the evergreens. Eclipsed in the rainbows of sun flare, Joshua and Rachel's joy shone brighter than the sun.
Below are a selection of my favorite portraits from their beautiful December wedding.
October is Iceland's storm season, especially the Snæfellsjökull Peninsula on the west coast--it's known for the worst storms on this island nation. When we first read about Icelandic Octobers, we imagined just a lot of rain--"oh, we can handle getting wet"--we were (so very) wrong. We learned that when Icelanders talk about storms, they're referring to the incredible winds.
On this day, the gales were measuring up to 80 mph, and we shouldn't have even left the cabin. We did drive to the local grocery to pick-up food for lunch and dinner, but even that was dangerous. We could feel the wind force lifting our 4x4 off the ground and pushing it sideways--almost off the road into the ocean near Kirkjufell waterfall.
After spending most of the day trapped in our cabin, we braved the elements for these images. Running outside behind the house on the side of Kirkjufell Mountain, and trying to keep my camera dry and our feet on the ground, we created, together, my favorite photo set of all time.
The wind's force was battling against us and the horizontal rain felt sharp, like ice, as it hit our faces. The expressions on Jenna and Kellon's faces throughout these frames really do allow you to see a glimpse into how these moments felt.
Freezing cold, aching ears and wide awake from the rocket adrenaline, Snæfellsjökull Peninsula's biting cold clutched our bones and seared its beautiful memory in our souls for all time.
A wondrous mist, along with eerie, hovering and constant moving fog filled the air above the over-worldly landscape. Like an unwound watch, it was like time ceased to move forward. There was a quietness, almost to a silence, and it was mystifying. With drenched hair and chilled bones in the fight against the sky's continuous icy tears, we still felt this volcanic land's symphony of peace and it warmed our hearts with awe.
Jenna and Kellon met us for the first time in Dyrholaey, and after posing for Jenna at the Black Sand Beach in Vik, they stepped in front of my camera. That's when I realized the depth of their affection and love for each other.
Our time with them in Iceland was so real and special. We'll always remember it and fondly wish to relive it. There's no doubt that God arranged our plans to meet for this week and kindle a friendship to last for the rest of our lives.
Part II of this adventure is some of my favorite images ever, so be sure to stay tuned for the upcoming post.
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