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…they were a gift from her husband the day Alyson was born.  Given with love, respect and admiration for the beautiful baby girl that they brought into this world.  They were worn frequently and commented on often and as time wore on the string of pearls came apart.  Never to be worn again, saved – for a special moment.  That moment was Saturday.  Breathing new life into that strand of pearls so that they could be worn to tell more tales.  Breathing new meaning for that special something old that only a mother could give.

Alyson, those pearls started their life with yours and now you and Bob have started a new chapter in your lives together.  Walt and I had a blast with you and your crazy awesome friends.  Leaving your reception after a zillion hugs and being told frequently how much you loved us only serves as further proof to myself that working with the right people makes working not like work at all.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping us not to work ;-)

I couldn’t possibly end this post without a huge shout out to my friends over at Proud to Plan.  I missed not seeing Erin but only till I saw Lisa and Jen.  Ha, ha – I kid, I kid.  I still missed not seeing Erin but…  Lisa has her shiz together and completely read my mind all day.  These ladies have the ability to be in the right place at the right time and assisted in making it feel like “not work”.  I love my planner friends and you all should too.  They work hard behind the scenes to keep the day flowing seamlessly.  I’m a task master regardless but anytime I can free up one side of my brain so that the other can take over, well, I’m a Fan holding that big ole foam #1 fanning in the air!!!

oh yeah, the pics…  We took a few ;-)

I couldn’t help but post this one of Lisa – surveying the scene like a good little ninja. Hi yahhhhhhh.

This is an inside joke as I pay homage to one of the best, best man’s speeches ever.

Wedding Day Haiku’s

Bride- we put on flip flops

sing, dance and drink

always smiling

another…….oh if I must, hee hee

Coke-a-cola

in a pitcher with ice

better shared =)

awww jeez you can tell it’s late but just one more.

Bob

Alyson thinks is perfect

repeat after me

after me =)

They flew in from in from San Diego to visit with family and work on the plans for their wedding.  We felt that this was a great opportunity to shoot their Us Session.  Visiting the very spot where John proposed to Christina was both fun and magical in the sense that this space was special.  Once again I find myself on hallowed ground =)  Seeing you, see each other and revisiting such a monumental memory will always trump just a “pretty” location.  I’m often asked why I shoot where I do.  Well, that’s why.  I’m not the photographer for you if all you want to do is make pretty.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do love me my fair share of making pretty pics but I prefer to make “real”, to make “fun”, to make “meaningful”, to make time stand still if for only the moment necessary, to slow down to see, to breathe, to smell, to live, to laugh, to love…  Thank you so much to Christina & John for sharing in soooooooo many special and memorable moments on that beautiful day in Cape May =)

I’ve been consulting a ton over the past few months and the single most frequently asked question that I get from prospective clients is how come my images look like there is real emotion in them?  Well, cuz there is.  It is that simple.  If you want someone to truly see you and what is within then you have to show it.  It’s not as difficult as you may think.  It is easy when you agree that we don’t set out to just shoot and make pretty pics.  As Alana has said to me (you will meet her and Steve soon) it is an adventure that we share together.  You see, when asked what I do for a living I tell people that I am a Treasure Hunter.  I don’t need a map- I have one built in…  Too often people live with regret for things they never did, said or shared with a loved one.  I seek that while you are in my presence you will never have that issue.

JMR

There’s very little that I love more in life than the love of a parent to their child. It’s this indescribable feeling that no matter how old your children become you are rendered helpless when looking into their eyes in moments of pride, love and hope. We wish so much for you Rory but I’m sure that your mom and dad more than have those bases covered =) Here’s a little sneak to their “we” story.

Jen-Michael-Rory A {Beloved} we story trailer from Cindy Guessford on Vimeo.

We are strolling around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, casually chatting about how they met, the things they love and their plans for their wedding day.  I snap a few images,  every so often stopping as I see the change in light and as inspiration strikes.  We walk and soak in some of the spaces and places that have meaning to them.  We visit the very spot where Michael proposed to Jen and from a distance I document this beautiful interaction, they look so happy.   We climb hills.  They swing in swings. We blow dandelions into the wind. We crawl into a secret little tunnel within a row of small trees and bushes. ( Why yes, we do climb trees, crawl in bushes, hike hills and so much more over here at CG studios.  It’s always an adventure!) We visit their home on the waterfront and as the sun sets we finish our session with a beautiful chat about the fun that we had that day and how much they were looking forward to the images that we will create on their wedding day.

I remember the drive home from Baltimore that night and thinking about the ease of the session.  By ease I mean the authentic and organic feeling of the session.  I felt like I was in the company of two really sweet and adorably in love with each other people.  You know, “Those People”… Ha, ha!  You know that I know that you know what I’m talking about!  Those people, the ones that you see in the streets, in stores, on television, in magazines…  The ones that seem to have found the perfect partner, one who balances them.  The ones who everyone loves and rightfully so because “those people” are generally the ones that make it easy to build genuine lasting friendships because they are so likable.  So,  yup.  I’m gonna say that I felt very at ease with them and I feet so very lucky to consistently attract the types of clients who just blow my mind  in such a good way.  Seeing the way that Michaels’  eyes light up when he looks at Jen.  The look is full of happiness and kindness and strength and all the things that you would want to see in a gaze.  There is also the way that Jen fits so perfectly and looks so safe and comfortable in his embrace. Then there’s the sincerity and beautiful spirits that they both share as characteristics. So many things that afternoon that I learned about them.

Being emotionally & mentally present and invested in building a relationship with those around me is the backbone of my success as a photographer.  Hearing your stories and getting this inside scoop into the how and why of you as a couple helps me to be in tune on the wedding day and mentally available to document moments both as they occur and those that I anticipate.  I remember feeling excited to get back to the studio and edit the collection. I also felt a strong sense of duty to not let them down after hearing their excitement about the session and seeing the lovely interactions between them.  In my mind I know we made some beautiful images but it’s always nerve racking until the cards are loaded and edited.  In all of the years that I’ve been shooting, that particular feeling never goes away.  That feeling of always wanting to live up to and to exceed the expectations of those that place their faith and trust in my studio.  Consequently, several of the images we made that day are in my favorites of all time folder.  It was a day that started our journey and one that has spawned so many connections with their friends, families and guests with which I have been fortunate to have become the photographer and at times filmmaker as well.

Fast forward to the wedding day, we have canvassed the city of Philadelphia from day into night shooting at various locations.  Everyone that day is so helpful, the Bridal Party are individually and collectively amazing and act like they are there for the sole purpose of  assisting the bride and groom in any way and to celebrate with them. Yeah, I was pretty excited to discover that their friends and families were just as friendly, down to earth and fun, just like they are!!!   I hit the mutha freakin load!!!  How could this be?  A Beautiful couple inside and out and an entire bridal party who were helpful, fun, did not complain or try to steal the show, were closely connected to each other and later demonstrated some pretty bad-ass dance moves =)  There was a beautiful and emotional ceremony followed by an equally emotional and super fun reception at The Ballroom at the Ben.  I have a 24×36 canvas from their day hanging in my studio.  Yes, easy…

Fast forward several more years.  I run into them while shooting a wedding…  not just any wedding.  The lovely Alex and Tabatha’s wedding (you will see them in a blog post soon enough), they are friends of Jen and Michael.  Let’s just say that there is a certain little glow that someone who is expecting has and Jen had it =)  I spy them from the corner of my eye and we hug and chat for a few.  A few months later we were planning their Newborn Beloved Cinema “we” session.  A session that will fluidly combine still photography and video to create a keepsake that will capture not just the beautiful stills of your family session but also showcase the way that you felt using audio and video to create a film that is edited in a cinematic style, a short film.

Loading my car with all of our gear, myself and my cinema team, we travel to meet the little man.  We are off to the burbs of Baltimore =)  I road rage for most of the ride.  I’m sure that I probably made the guys feel sick at least 10 times.  I’m not exactly sure why it is that in Maryland on that stretch of road and on that day the fast lane was the slow lane and the slow lane was best used as the passing lane!?!?!? weird… Anyways, after my road rage incident(s) we exit off the highway and it’s smooth sailing from there.  Seeing Michael and Jen as new parents really made me feel special to be witnessing such a private and new moment.  The timidness of first time parents mixed with the indescribable sense that by the way they look at, talk to and cradle Rory, anyone can see the excitement, love and pride that they have for their new addition to the family.  Here are a few images from that day.  We will be working on their trailer soon for the film and trust me, that’s not something that you will want to miss.  Thank you Jen and Michael!  You both inspire me and I wish you so much joy with Rory.  He doesn’t know it now but one day he will know how simply wonderful his parents are…

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I’m not going to lash out or show a slideshow of a thousand images that illustrate my point.  It’s sad but it’s completely unnecessary.  It’s so much sadder that it is unnecessary because almost anyone I have talked to knows exactly what I mean when I ask about guests over-shooting at weddings.  You see, ask any Photographer or Cinematographer/videographer and the front will be united and trust me when I say that the front between photo/video is generally not a united one.  There is one thing that us photo/video guys and gals struggle with more than settings, lighting, timing and each other etc…  And that is the sheer number of guests these days that refuse to simply be in the moment!

As a bride and a groom and family of brides and grooms, you all spend countless and sometimes thankless hours planning the perfect day up to and including who you choose to document your day via images, motion and audio.  We love the trust you place in us.  It is the singular driving force behind my studio.  I pride myself on holding this trust carefully and delivering to you a finished collection of images that we MADE!  Yes, we Made that image and all of the others included in that collection.  We didn’t just pick up a camera and push a button, attach a flash and push a button, hit record and walk away….  No, dammit, it’s a MADE image.  Meaning that the lens used was carefully selected for the scene, there is a why as to what aperture or shutter speed was set.  The ISO rating and exposure comp set to ensure exacting results, light added or subtracted where needed, image framed with storytelling in mind, waiting for either the moment to unfold or posing you for a portrait.  Either way, an image or film is Made in the the eyes of a professional.

I’m not going to post the hundreds of examples that could potentially embarrass my clients because that is not what this post is about.  You can google unplugged wedding images and get plenty of samples to understand why this issue has become rampant.  I’m finishing culling and editing a wedding today and my blood boils every time I hit the delete button or use the crop function to eliminate a guest who felt that his position should have been directly opposite of mine.  Meaning now Mr wanna be photog, you are in all of my shots.  I have parted ways with at least one second shooter for committing this crime.  Never, ever, ever, ever, ever and when I say ever I mean EVER place yourself in the direct line of sight of the primary photographer or cinematographer shooting that day.  It’s a rule that enables us to work as a team, shoot with MAKING images in mind based on content rather than precariously framing each other out of images that would have otherwise been great.  These guests at your wedding didn’t get the memo…  They think they are doing you a great favor by shooting your wedding and giving you the images.  They don’t understand that what they are doing is hindering the people that you have paid THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars to actually shoot your wedding.

I’m not saying that this is a new problem with guests taking pics at weddings.  The guest taking pics with phones, ipads, point and shoots etc… have been around and will continue to be around shooting at weddings and although they can sometimes interfere they usually aren’t a problem.  It’s the guests that feel the need to bring gear, SLR’s, lenses, flashes, handycams, flipcams, camcorders etc… and these particular guests are now jockeying for position to get the shot.  So, this post is a plea.  Please, please, please, please, please with sugar on top….  To all our current and future clients.  I beg of you, please look into having an UNPLUGGED wedding.  Your collection of images will benefit from it, you will benefit from it, we will benefit from it and believe it or not the guests who you have so thoughtfully invited to be a part of your memories that day will benefit from being forced to BE IN THE MOMENT…

What is an Unplugged Wedding you say?  It’s a wedding that is planned the same way as what you are already doing except for one small personal request from you to your guests.  You invite them to be fully present during the witnessing of your ceremony, vows, kiss, exit, reception, toasts, first dance etc…  You invite your guests to experience the day without their cell phone, camera,video device.  You invite them to allow the professionals the courtesy, respect and freedom to make the kinds of images and films that you are paying for.  You invite your wedding planner if you have one to properly communicate this to the guests via signage, a small note in the invitation  and countless other ways that only they can so brilliantly convey.  So let’s embrace this please.  Say we can =)  I will love you forever and a day!  I’m serious, I really will.

M o r e   i n f o
M o r e   i n f o