want to have a fun, fabulous reception?

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Your reception is typically the part of your wedding day that gets the most attention.  There are seemingly endless decisions to make when planning a celebration for your family and friends, so here are a few ideas to keep in mind.

Choose that band or DJ wisely, because when it's a mismatch it can be...awkward.  These vendors are not only supplying tunes for your dancing pleasure, they also serve as a sort of emcee for your reception.  You want to feel comfortable that whoever you choose knows how to keep things on track and work with you (and perhaps a planner) to create the vibe you'd like.  I've seen DJ's/band leaders who say the bare minimum and stay in the background, and those who say, well, a lot.  Some couples like that energy and some prefer less intrusion.  I've also seen perfect pairings where the musicians are professionals at reading a room and keep everyone dancing their pants off until the last possible minute.

Another tip, eat!  It is so easy to get caught up in the fun and find yourself making the rounds during dinner to visit all the people you care so much about.  Just try to keep it short and sweet so that you and your love can get back to your seats and enjoy the meal that you likely put a fair amount of planning into.  Plus, you need to fortify for the sipping and shaking to come.

Lastly, try not to rush through any planned dances on the agenda.  Whether it's your first dance or dances with parents, give them the time they deserve.  It can feel strange to be waltzing around in front of so many people, the center of attention, and some couples are self-conscious.  Some will invite everyone to come up and dance with them to alleviate this feeling, which is a nice sentiment, but try to at least wait until the end of the song.  You only get to do these things once!

Just a few thoughts to ponder!

(photo from a rockin' fun party at the John Peters Estate in Blue Hill, Maine)

getting your pictures off of your phone

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Photographer Chase Jarvis said that the best camera is the one you have with you. So true.

When I'm toting kiddos, their gear, and maybe the dog, slinging a camera on my shoulder may or may not happen as often as I wish it did (my Happy Sunday feature is a direct effort at changing this). I always have my iPhone tucked in my back pocket, however (and actually wondered if designers are making back pockets more roomy these days with the popularity of this spot, Googled it, and voila! This article popped up), a godsend, because sweet little moments happen everywhere and it's a piece of cake to whip my phone out (like a Wild West fast draw!).

Great. So I have all sorts of iPhone pictures of my life which I sometimes post to Instagram (my favorite social media app by a mile. I'm photoemilie. It's a private account, so if I don't know you, apologies, but I don't want you seeing these personal pics) or send in a quick text to the hubby or the grandparents.

I used to have phone and IG prints made from PostalPix, but wasn't impressed with the quality (they are cell phone pics, after all) and without a printed date on them, I drove myself mad trying to sort them chronologically into the 4x6 Kolo albums I use for my (pro-camera) family pics. In fact, all of my family images from 2012 are still sitting on our dining room sideboard waiting to be filed. I haven't even bothered to order our 2013 family images yet because I knew there had to be a better solution.

For me, it was realizing that iPhone pictures and the pictures I take with my pro camera don't need to live in the same place. Artifact Uprising, a Colorado based paper goods company, has a piece-of-cake application for having 5x5 (or 8x8) 30-page books made of your IG pics (and a host of other non-smart phone pro product options). One night, I went through the past two years of IG pics and designed 11 books in about two hours. I used their desktop album builder, but you can do this right on your phone as well. Just yesterday AU announced that dates and captions can be included from their mobile app, too- huge!

A week after placing my order these little beauties arrived! Finally, images aren't just living on my phone or in a box on my dining room table, but in a format that we can easily browse. I'd call that a success!

What do you do with the pictures you snap with your phone?

engagement session overview

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You will be the subject of many photos on your wedding day, but time for you and your spouse to sneak away privately for photos is often limited. You are the main event of the party after all!  Engagement sessions are a fun way to take photos and spend time with your photographer in a relaxed setting. Plus the images are great to have for save-the-dates or a wedding website.

We aim to make your engagement session as natural and personal as possible. My first advice is to start thinking about what is meaningful to you as a couple. Are you foodies or caffeine addicts with a favorite cafe nearby? Do you love wandering the streets people-watching, spending time at the beach or playing a particular game? Although we'll take your typical posed portraits, we'll spend just as much time documenting your interactions, and we want the activity and environment to be comfortable and fun.

In terms of logistics, once we have a tentative schedule we will work with you to select an optimal time of day. For a quick frame of reference, if we're shooting outdoors the light tends to be nicest an hour or two before sunset. Engagement sessions are one to two hours. Chat with your photographer, but depending on your itinerary, we may have time to photograph at a couple of locations, stop for a drink or squeeze in an easy outfit change, too.

(More images from the Higgins Beach and Old Port engagement session above can be found here)

say hi to emilie inc. intern Allie

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We were approached by Greely High School in Cumberland to establish an internship program late in the fall, nearly exactly at the same time as we were packing up our office to move to the Old Port. Totally ok, they said, and continued with the process to pair us up with senior Allie, who visits us a few times each week in our Portland office. We love her sweet disposition and her curiosity for all things photography, weddings and business. When she asked us if we had an emilie inc. bumper sticker for her car because "it would be cool," she had our hearts!



Tell us a little about you.
My name is Allie. I am 18. I'm very friendly and shy. I have loved photography since I was little, and singing.

What is your favorite subject in school? Do you have a favorite sport?
My favorite subject in school is English. I love writing and reading in my free time. My favorite sport is tennis. I have been playing since I was three.

What do you do for fun outside of school?
I play tennis and sing. I love riding horses, hanging out with friends and watching movies when it's raining. I teach skiing at Sugarloaf Mountain in the winter.

You have been accepted to two colleges already, congrats! Share what you plan to study with our readers.
Hospitality, lodging and hotel management.

What is your dream job?
To become a famous singer.

What has your experience been like interning with emilie inc. so far?
I have learned a lot. I have learned how you do the bookings, which will be great for hospitality experience.

Have you been to a wedding before? What is your favorite memory?
I have been to a couple of my cousins' weddings. I love watching the bride get her hair done, when everyone is on the dance floor having a good time, and when the husband and bride cut the cake.

Do you have a favorite restaurant/place/store/hike, etc., you would recommend we check out?
I love the restaurant Foreside Tavern in Falmouth. I love walking around the Old Port and going to fairs with friends- all of the animals are so cute.

What will you miss most about Maine when you go to college?
My friends, my family and my teachers who have been there the whole journey with me, and driving through the same town every day where memories were created.

tips for the best formal photos

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I once had a guest say to me during family formals, “Gosh, it’s like herding cats!”  I laughed out loud and conjured a visual in my mind of dressed-up cats posing for photos while others roamed around them not listening to my direction.  Needless to say, that line has stuck with me. 

Many couples tell me flat out, they really “hate posed photos” and they don’t want to take a lot of time to do them.  While emilie inc. is of the documentary ilk, we still value these wedding party and family formals.  These photos are true historical records.  Often, they are the photos that get framed by grandma and displayed on the console table, that mom hangs on the stairway wall, or that dad takes to work and proudly displays on his desk.  So these photos are important and they matter. 

Formal photographs can be very quick and painless.  A few weeks in advance of your wedding, we will provide you with a questionnaire and on it, you will let us know what groups and combinations you would like. I'll refer to that list on the wedding day, ensuring everything runs smoothly and according to the schedule. I am happy to recommend the best time to do each photo.  Usually larger groups, like college friends or cousins, can be done during the reception.  Immediate family photos will take precedence.

I typically shoot the family photos after the ceremony, which usually means during the cocktail hour.  I always ask the couple how important it is for them to be at their cocktail hour.  If I know they really want to be there for it, I might recommend building in a little extra time for the formals before the cocktail hour or possibly extending the cocktail hour.  The other option is taking the family formals before the ceremony.  Naturally, a first look would be recommended if that were the case. 

Often I pick a location for the formal photos that is shaded and slightly away from the guests who are most likely mingling at the cocktail hour.  What I’ve found is that if formal photos are too close to cocktails, I start to lose people, guests come to watch and chat, and then I’m in cat herding mode.  Choosing a spot a little more private and having folks arrive on time for the photos helps move them along more quickly.  Shade helps for even lighting, no squinting eyes, or hot, sweaty bodies in the direct sun.  Also, a simple, clean background is desirable.  I usually prefer a swath of dark green bushes or trees, compared to a busy background – the people pop off the simple, dark background.  And no sunglasses – I want to see your eyes smiling!

With all of this advice and tips, remember that there is no right or wrong way to do anything on your wedding day.  Every wedding is unique, so you do what works for you and we're happy to help anytime.

(Lovely ladies pictured above from a wedding at Wentworth Lodge in Cape Elizabeth)

happy sunday

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prepping for prep photos

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I love beginning wedding day coverage by photographing preparations. It's a great time for me to say hello and for you to get used to the camera. With all of the excitement and anticipation in the air, it is also a great time for images.

We typically prefer to start photographing about two hours before your ceremony. Similar to much of your wedding day, we like to adopt a fly-on-the-wall approach to documenting these pre-wedding memories but there are certain things you can do to help.

For instance, we love using natural light whenever possible, so try to select a bright and clutter-free room to get ready in. We'll take photos of your wedding attire during this time so it's helpful if you can lay these items out ahead of time (i.e. hang dresses and suits on nice hangers--not plastic ones--and leave any shoes/ties/pocket squares you want photographed accessible). If you are having your hair and make up done, be sure to request that you go last so we can try to document some of this.

As for the social aspect, some people like to get ready in a loud, bustling room of friends and family while others prefer a solitary and calm experience. It is personal preference, though I recommend having at least one or two close friends or family members nearby as there are often sweet emotional moments to capture. Plus, you very well may need help buttoning that dress or tying that tie.

(See more from this emotional backyard wedding above here)

emilie inc. team love

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There are many things I miss about my newspaper days: the unknown of each new assignment, the forming of fast friendships while photographing new subjects, the pressure to meet deadlines, the travel, rubbing elbows with celebrities and the most obvious, covering major news. Missing the camaraderie of the newsroom is the answer I hear most when talking to other former photojournalists or photo editors who are now freelancers or who have started their own business when we reminisce about the days gone by.

Do I miss those conversations around a light table or in the film developing room (what's that, right?)? Absolutely! But I truly feel like I found the best of both worlds when I added associate photographers to the emilie inc. line-up in 2008. Our current team has been together for several years and I adore each of them like family. We make the time to come together for weekly meetings and monthly critique sessions to keep connected and keep learning. We attend workshops, take on editorial and charity projects, shoot together and shoot the breeze. But most importantly, we are there for one another. And that's incredibly awesome.

Whitney, Denise, Steve, Megan, J, Alina and Nicole: y'all rock (thanks for the cute pic tonight, Whit!)!

have you been to Boone's?

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The emilie inc. team joined the Convention and Visitor's Bureau of Greater Portland at their first 2014 member mixer held at Boone's. We ran into old friends and met new members as we enjoyed an evening filled with networking and delicious food.

Have you had a chance to visit this new hot spot on Commercial Street? Officially named Boone's Fish House and Oyster Room and casually referred to as Boone's, the newest Harding Lee Smith hangout opened late last summer and has been drawing crowds to taste the freshest oysters and enjoy fabulously named cocktails such as the Casco Bay Breeze and Desperate Housewife. The completely renovated restaurant has two outdoor decks offering water views and two distinct menus in their upstairs and downstairs dining rooms.

Evenings are bustling with happy hour at both 4-6p and 9-11p Monday thru Thursday (10p-12a Friday thru Saturday). Yes, that's right, TWO happy hours! You now have no excuse to not stop in to try their Maine lobster wood oven flatbread pizza. Yum!

The upstairs dining room can be rented for meetings and private events, including rehearsal dinners! It fits up to 150 for a cocktail-style event, and 75 for a seated dinner. Still hunting for your Portland area rehearsal dinner location? They currently have only a few Friday evenings still open on their calendar. Reach out to events manager Heather (who is getting hitched herself this year! You can compare notes!) to learn more.

Take a peek at some of Emilie's photographs below. Can you just imagine how wonderful this will be in warm weather?! We'll be there for sure!

the custom album design process

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Hi there! I'm Alina, and I've been the graphic designer for emilie inc. since 2011. This is my first time writing a blog post here and I thought the best first topic would be the most obvious one: album design!



I believe the most important thing you will spend money on for your wedding are the photographs (and Emilie didn't tell me to say that). As years pass, they greatly increase in value to you and your family. They are cherished memories and like every great love story, yours deserves to be told in a gorgeous, easily accessible way that can stand the test of time. A custom designed Queensberry wedding album is the best way to preserve and share your images. And I just love working with emilie inc. couples to design them!

The process begins with the creation of a favorites folder in your online image gallery of 100-200 of your all-time favorite images. Giving me a lot of options to choose from, knowing that they might not all make it in, however, to ensure a beautiful and simple design. I recommend choosing images that document the day from beginning to end. Including important people, special moments, scene setting images and also some decor details will help the design flow in an interesting way, and showcase some of the special little things that made your wedding unique. I typically assist with image suggestions as well, once the design begins to take shape.

The Queensberry album style that we see couples typically ordering is their Duo Album. The Duo is a mix of matted, full-bleed and flush mount pages. Combining classic beauty and contemporary design for infinite possibilities!



Once I download all of your favorite images, I like to look them over a few times, getting a feel for what the wedding day was like and sometimes feeling like I might have even been a part of the event myself! Then using a professional software design program, I start to lay out the pages letting the images inspire me to create designs for each major section of the day: the preparations, first look, ceremony, formals, dinner, reception etc. I try to balance a variety of large sweeping image layouts mixed with fun, multiple image layouts, always keeping in mind that there are 30 pages to work with. Sometimes I will even take a peek over at Queensberry’s Pinterest page for some inspiration.

Another great feature of the Duo album is that you can create flip-open pages. So, if there are parts of the story that would benefit from a little element of surprise, I like to add at least one or two of these hidden treasures in as well.

For cover options we suggest using the classic leather material and you can select a color choice to best match the wedding, unless you have one in mind already. You can also choose to add an image and/or title on the cover or I can make suggestions here as well.



I can't even imagine what it was like before the digital age to build and edit an custom album like these! With Queensberry the proofing process is easy. When the design is ready, the layouts are exported to our very own proofing site. I will then send a quick email to let you know the album is ready with a link giving you access to both view and leave feedback for me on each individual layout. With a little collaboration and back and forth, soon enough we have a lovely design approved, a very happy couple, with a great album on its way!

Below is an an example of what a digital album proof looks like from a wedding at the Newagen Seaside Inn including a few of those surprise flip-out pages.

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