Documentary Photography...What's that!?!?

Like most other careers, photography is a field that is constantly evolving and reacting to trends, customer preferences, and the personalities of families. As I've evolved as a photographer and father, I'm finding that the moments I cherish the most and want to be captured most frequently are those personal, very intimate, unscripted moments that no traditional photography session will ever capture. So, what's a guy to do? Enter "documentary" photography...Something different, authentic, and as unique as you and your family are.

What's it all about? Well, I'm going to let a few other photographers delve into that for you. These are some incredible photographers from around the world and their insights and approach are very interesting, inspiring, and fun! Click here or click the photo below!

Let me know what you think, and don't forget to click here to bebop on over to the family photo FB group where you'll find tips, tricks, videos, and a community of other photo-centric families that want to capture and enjoy the beauty of family, seasons of childhood, and milestone events. 

As always, feel free to leave some comments, follow Henson Creative on Facebook or Instagram, book your photo session, or shoot me a message! I'm looking forward to connecting with you soon.

An Open Letter to the Bride Looking For More

Dear Bride-To-Be,

Maybe I'm crazy, but I looked around the St. Louis wedding market and struggled to find something unique, creative, and artistic. Sure, you can find incredibly beautiful photography! You can get photos taken of you that look as though they belong in a magazine, and you can experience services that the photographer providing them rightfully describes as luxurious, chic, and upscale. 

Just one question, is that you?

See, it's easy to find incredible photography, but is it easy to find something that speaks to you? To your lifestyle, creativity, eccentricities, and the unique-ness that all combine to form your identity? Can you easily find a photographer that validates your identity, celebrates your creativity, and tells the love story that is yours alone? That's a task that is much more difficult, and its the one that I tackle.

My purpose is to provide what others have not. A photographic style that is beautiful, understated, and 100% focused on you and your story. You won't be the canvas that I force my latest experiment or the trending photographic technique on. Instead, your photos will not only preserve your heritage, they will do it justice. They will celebrate the patina that time has left on you and your life's story. Like the beauty and individualism of a handcrafted heirloom, quality leather, or lovingly created piece of art, the flaws, the rough edges that make up your story - that make you completely unique - will be captured. And that's what is so captivating.

You plan for months, maybe even years, for this one day. Then you have a shadow.  Someone follows you around capturing you at your most vulnerable, nervous, excited, and emotional. You deserve someone that is going to be a calming, relaxing influence. Someone that's quick with a smile and mischievous wink. Someone that can help put out fires, capture the important stuff, provide some comedic relief, and, most importantly, remind you exactly why you are here today. To ink a new chapter heading on the page, to celebrate the love that draws two stories from the sidelines to run together along the same track for the rest of your lives...The important stuff...

We're human, you and I. While I love the shots (and take my fair share) featuring tiny people in an epic landscape, the images and moments that really matter to me are those that feature humanity. The love two people celebrate on their wedding day. The hope for the future, the nerves about the same, the excitement, the tears...these raw, honest moments are the moments worth remembering. These are the moments you cherish.

These are the moments, the style, and the benefits that I provide. I would love to join you on this adventure! Thank you so much for considering Henson Creative, St. Louis' only photographer for the creatives, adventurers, and wanderers.

Sincerely,

Michael

Quick Tips for Beginning Your Wedding Planning

How do I start!?!?

That's possibly the most common question in the entire wedding industry. It seems simple, but it's overwhelming once you start looking at all the moving pieces you must put together. To shed a little bit of light on the question, I asked a couple local St. Louis wedding professionals to weigh in with their experience and expertise.

Some quick tips from Inspired Design Wedding Events, a 14 year veteran in the industry, include:

  1. Budget // How much do you want to spend? Who is contributing?
  2. Goals // What are your goals for the event? If it's just to "get hitched" you could do that at a courthouse! What do you want to get out of the event itself? Photos, memories, time with family? 
  3. Important Elements // What is most important to each member in the couple? Don't just assume that you both care about the same things!

I also had a couple questions that I sent over to VSM Event Creations and Vanessa gave me some great feedback as well. Budget topped the list and she mentioned some incredible resources for those struggling with budgeting - The Knot & WeddingWire are great starting sources. In addition, she mentioned:

  1. Venue // The next step when getting into the "nitty-gritty" is to look at your ceremony and reception venues and get them booked. She suggests making a list of the top 3 places you'd like to check out and to start communicating with them as soon as possible.
  2. Wedding Planner // Hiring a wedding planner is an investment in your sanity. They can certainly help in choosing high quality vendors and really help out with the tiny details that make your wedding everything you want it to be!

Hopefully, this is beneficial and gives you a bit of direction as you start planning your St. Louis wedding! If you have other topics you'd like to chat about, shoot me a message or drop me a comment. Also, check out our bridal resource group on Facebook and join up!

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St. Louis Wedding Venues | Six Incredible Venues to Check Out!

St. Louis Wedding Venues

Perhaps one of the most impactful decisions you will make in your wedding planning process is the decision regarding which venue(s) you will use for your ceremony and reception. In the midst of figuring everything else out, that singular decision can be absolutely overwhelming!

I mean, you have to think about themes, colors, food and beverage options, is the place interesting or meaningful, how much space is there, what's included...the list is lengthy at best! Well, I've decided that I'd like to do a little bit to help you along the way. As such, I've compiled a list of quite a few of the most interesting and in demand wedding/reception venues and am working through them to get some of the most important information for you gathered into one place. It's a much larger undertaking that I imagined it would, so rather than taking forever to create a huge list, I'm going to move forward with sharing six of my favorites with you and then will be periodically adding a few more in subsequent blog posts (so keep checking back!) 

If you have a venue you would like to learn more about or think should be added, just let me know! 

So, without further ado, I give you.....drum roll....the first six!

The Majorette

This St. Louis wedding venue is a brand new space designed by the minds behind the Boo Cat Club and features a huge, open floor plan with tons of room for dancing and tons of really cool amenities. Some of those traits that differentiate The Majorette from other St. Louis wedding venues include a large deck, a mezzanine, a well-appointed bridal lounge, a marble staircase (um, photo opps anyone?), and beautiful lighting. Pricing falls into the lower mid-range category with non-Saturdays running $3,000 and Saturday’s starting at $4,500 for the main floor + mezzanine. Other amenities available for additional cost include uplighting, in-house event planning, valet parking, and other.

Food/beverage spend is determined by the caterer, however, there is a $500 minimum charge if you choose to use a non-preferred caterer.

Capacity is 600 total and 400 seated. Included in the venue rental is parking, lounge access, deck access, wireless mics, bar staff, event security, projector and 15’ x 9’ screen, lighting and sound, tables, chairs, clerestory, LED lights.

To reserve this space or for any questions, you can call 314.224 5775 or email them at hello@majoretteevents.com. You can also visit www.majorettevents.com for more information!

The City Museum

If you are familiar with St. Louis attractions at all you’ve probably heard of the City Museum. It’s an incredible attraction that blows you away from the moment you pull into the parking lot. From the installations on the roof to the wire tunnels suspended dozens of feet above the ground, it is exciting and completely unique. In addition, it offers incredible spaces for weddings and events, and access to an attraction that guests can explore that is special and different from any other  St. Louis wedding venue.

Once you start digging into pricing, the City Museum becomes even more attractive. Definitely falling into the more budget friendly range for incredible St. Louis wedding venues, it runs anywhere from $1,000-$3,300 (plus tax) depending on the space requested, the date, and the time of day). They do require you use an approved caterer and all food & beverage policies are provided by the your chosen caterer.

The spaces they offer can hold anywhere from 30-2,000 guests and include up to five hours of private use, tables, chairs, and admission to the museum for your guests.

For further details and to reserve space at the City Museum, call 314.231.2489 (x11&) or email Kelly at Kelly@citymuseum.org. For more details about the City Museum, you can visit www.citymuseum.org.

The Foundry Art Centre

If you’re looking for something unique, spacious, and near to some historic spaces and a thriving nightlife, The Foundry might be the St. Louis wedding venue for you! What makes it unique? Well, it’s that it’s a functioning art center and not just a wedding venue. The architecture of the building is actually a converted train car factory located on historic main street in Old Town St. Charles, MO. This makes it easy for guest to find things to do before the event, and provides the bride and groom many options for pictures, etc.

Pricing falls into a relatively budget friendly range with Saturday rentals starting at $3,500 during peak season. (April - December), and $2800 any other day of the week and Saturdays in the winter months (Jan. - March). Any additional requirements regarding food/beverage spend must be discussed by the caterers themselves. The Foundry has five preferred caterers that you can choose from, and provides bar service with pricing ranging from $12-$20 per person.

Their capacity is up to 400 seated and they provide all tables, chairs, projector, and sound system.

To reserve, call The Foundry and ask to speak to Melanie Sanders at 636.255.0270 and visit www.foundryartcentre.org for more information.

The Caramel Room at Bissinger's

Heather Roth Fine Art Photography // Planned by Absolutely In! Events

Heather Roth Fine Art Photography // Planned by Absolutely In! Events

If you are looking for a higher budget option that’s an absolutely incredible St. Louis wedding venue, The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s might just fit the bill. It blends equal amounts of chic and innovation as St. Louis’ newest event venue. Beaming natural light, hardwood floors, a 4,500 sq. ft. outdoor terrace featuring river and skyline views, state of the art lighting, and chocolate-infused culinary adventures, are all encompassed within a working chocolate factory.

Pricing is based on their full service packages including bar, hors d'oeuvres, plated dinners and service charges start at $125 per person plus tax. Their minimum food/beverage spend runs $25,000 on a Saturday evening or holiday weekends, $15,000 on a Friday evening, $10,000 on a Sunday evening, $1,500 weeknight room rental plus food and beverage. Interested in capacity?Without a dance floor, they can accommodate 400 guests. With a dance floor they can accommodate up to 320 guests.

Venue rental includes private use of The Caramel Room and terrace, full service by Bissinger’s staff, parking, tableware (china, flatware, glassware), tables, chairs, sound system and microphones, multiple screens and a projector in the main ballroom.

Interested in reserving or have a few questions? You can call at 314-615-2480, send an email to caramelroom@23cityblocks.com or visit www.caramelroom.com for more information.

The Moulin

This is another incredible, historic St. Louis wedding venue rocking incredible brick, hardwood floors, beams, and doors from 1876. They have managed to preserve amazing rustic charm while providing functional modern capacity. There are 8 private event spaces, each very different from the next, and in addition have public areas which enrich the private event's experience. The Moulin’s sister restaurant Vin de Set is on the top floor with an amazing rooftop area, breathtaking views of the arch and downtown not to mention delicious French-American cuisine.  Not your style? PW Pizza is a non-traditional pizza shop on the first floor featuring amazing house-made pies, sandwiches, salads, etc. Still not digging it? Check out 21st Street Brewers Bar. It is located in the basement and offers an expansive selection of local and craft brews. Plus, there is an outside beer garden is THE place to be after weddings and private events---stays open until 2am on Saturdays!

All of the weddings held at the Moulin are fully planned and organized by one of our professional on site planners and all set-up and tear down is included. A bridal attendant is there for each couple and handles their specific needs such as help in the restroom, an exit out of a long and boring conversation or just a strong need for one more BBQ Shrimp left over from the cocktail hour! The staff’s goal is that the couple and families are TRULY guests at their own wedding! Catering is all onsite and is hand crafted in their kitchen and offers more of a restaurant style experience.  

Pricing varies…with 8 different options of different sizes it can range from $250-2300 depending on day, timing and room combinations.  This is in addition to food, beverage, service charges and taxes. Regarding minimums, they do not have a set minimum in place as we work with a variety of budgets.  Capacity can fluctuate quite a bit due to the flexibility offered by 8 different venues within The Moulin. Typically between 20-300 is most common however restaurant buy outs and room combinations with no seating can expand this capacity upwards of 600 using multiple floors.  

What’s included? House chairs, house tables, house table clothes, black or white napkins, flatware, china, glass stem ware, (3) votives per guest table and a copper "trivet" or mirror to go under florals.

Interested in reserving your date or have more questions? Just give them a call at 314.241.4949 or visit www.moulinevents.com.

Third Degree Glass Factory

Last but not least in our inaugural list of incredible St. Louis wedding venues, Third Degree Glass Factory is housed in a working glass studio and art gallery. The galleries and studios have been carefully restored and transformed into urban art galleries.  They have over 6,000 square feet of open space can accommodate up to roughly 275 guests for a seated dinner or up to 500+ for a cocktail-style party. In addition, they offer something not offered anywhere else! A couple can have a live Glass Blowing Demonstration at their wedding or they can have a custom Glass Ceremony. The Glass Ceremony is similar to a sand ceremony. However, instead of using sand, they use color glass crystals that can then be brought back to the glass studio and crafted into a custom glass piece for use or display. (Click here for a couple examples and a more in-depth explanation of the Glass Ceremony.)

Pricing varies quite a bit depending on the amount of space needed and the number of galleries you would like access to. In general, pricing starts about $2,000-$2,800 for both galleries and goes up if you are looking to add catering. The only time there is a minimum food/beverage spend is on Saturdays. It is $6,000.

Capacity is 250 seated and 500 if you are only looking for standing room for a reception, etc. Amenities included in your rental include tables, chairs, an events coordinator, parking and a lot attendant with a golf cart that can transport guests, and an outdoor patio.

To reserve, give them a call at 314.367.4527 and for more information visit www.thirddegreeglassfactory.com.

There you have 'em!

Hopefully, this was valuable and gives you some ideas for places to look for your St. Louis wedding venue. If you have any others you would like added to the list, leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Don't forget! If you'd like to get a copy of our free e-book on how to pick the perfect engagement photo location, click here!

And, finally, if you are a St. Louis bride caught in the throes of wedding planning and are looking for some support, check out our St. Louis Brides resource group on Facebook! You'll love it!

Rock Your Photo Sessions | Here's How to Look Your Best!

Okay, so we’ve covered several questions from real brides over in our St. Louis Brides Resource Group regarding how to choose your photographer, questions to ask, things to avoid, and some details regarding the services that you should consider when planning the preservation of your big day. If you missed it, check it out here!

Today, I’d like to take a look at some other topics that I’ve heard countless people reference when discussing getting their photos taken, how to look your best! I am going to focus on how to plan to look your best for your photos whether you are getting photos for your engagement, family, children’s portraits, or your wedding day!

We’re going to cover quite a bit and there’s not really a rhyme or reason to the order of these questions so I’d definitely recommend reading all the way through. I promise there are going to be little nuggets of awesomeness scattered all throughout the rest of this post!

Before diving in, if you are engaged and planning an engagement photo session, I’d recommend you check out my e-guide on how to pick the PERFECT spot for your photos! Check it out here.

Now, onto the awesomeness!

What to Wear

The first question I have to ask is, “How many people in the photo?” This makes an obvious difference. Let’s take a quick look at “universal truths” and then move into considerations for solo portraits.

General Guidelines

Fit

Take from someone needing to lose weight, I get it! You are nervous about getting photos done already, you might not like your body, and feel like you don’t look good in anything. The tendency is then to choose clothing that you feel comfortable in. While there is typically a boost in confidence (or at least some decreased anxiety) regarding the whole photo session when you’re rocking your favorite pair of broken in jeans and that shirt you know feels “just right,” it might not look the best.

To avoid this, you need to ensure that your clothing fits properly. Not too tight, not too loose...we’re looking for “just right” here. If you are nervous about your wardrobe selections, you might schedule some time with the most style conscious friend you have to get some tips, schedule a shopping trip with a professional wardrobe stylist, or even invite your photographer over for a styling session (provided they are comfortable with the idea and have the time in their schedule).

It’s worth extra effort to ensure your clothing choices look and fit great. The greatest photo in the world will end up less than stellar if the wardrobe isn’t up to snuff, so put in some additional thought so you get results you’ll be happy with.

Body Type

Oh, happy day! Body types aren’t always fun and can be incredibly frustrating, but there are steps that can be taken to ensure you look your best. I won’t go into too much depth here, but check out this article for dressing for your body type and keep the tips in mind when planning out your wardrobe. 

Complexion

Another of those frustrating, “I’m just stuck with it” aspects of our physicality is our complexion. While there are steps that some take in order to modify their complexion, it’s something that we all have to embrace.

Again, I’m not going to delve too deeply into this topic, but I’ve found some great resources that provide some valuable tips for ensuring you are dressing appropriately for your complexion.

Check them out and feel free to shoot questions my way!

The Most Flattering Color to Wear for Your Skin Tone

Best Colors to Flatter Your Skin

Layers

While layering isn’t in the same category as the previous topics, it is definitely something to discuss. Adding layers to your wardrobe adds a lot of visual interest, adds or breaks up patterns, introduces different textures, and helps “polish” a wardrobe. Depending on the time of year, this can come in the form of an undershirt, cardigan, jacket, or scarf, basically anything that adds a different texture or complementary color to your primary wardrobe pieces.

Accessories

Once you’ve taken the above considerations into account, consider adding carefully selected accessories to finish off your look. Adding a necklace, bracelet, or watch can add a final layer of polish to an image without having to do anything crazy or different than what you would normally do.

Alrighty! Let’s move on to some session specific tips...

Solo Portrait (lifestyle images, senior sessions, quinceñeras, etc)

When you are the only subject in the photo, your wardrobe is pretty straightforward. Pick items that you love and feel supremely confident in. Select items that feel “authentic” and definitely consider adding layers to make things a bit more interesting.

Group Portraits (more than one person - engagements, family portraits, etc.)

A lot of what I discussed in the solo portrait section is still applicable with groups. The primary additional consideration is the color palette of all the wardrobes involved.

When planning a group photo, you want to be on the same page with the others that are going to be in the photo with you. That’s not to say that you necessarily want everyone to have the exact same shade of midnight taupe, half baked salmon, or whatever the trending shade is on Pinterest.

Instead, you want to pick colors that are complementary. Varying shades of the same color family and the incorporation of interesting layers and textures are what will help your group portraits look amazing. After that, it’s simply a matter of getting some solid posing advice and you are good to go!

Posing Tips

Ladies, I’m going to go ahead and apologize because the vast majority of posing advice is directed straight at you. A few simple tips are all it takes to rock some awesome poses!

For the most part, the principles are pretty straightforward and if you can keep them in mind, you’ll be much closer to how you look 99% of the time. Those principles are:

  • Pop your hip!

    • How? Just push your hip the way you do when you want someone to know that you aren’t playing around. Give it some attitude! It might feel a little unnatural because you’ll be focusing on it, but it helps your posing by creating curves and helping you avoid the square block, Minecraft character look. Despite feeling like you might be overdoing it, I promise that it comes across as a subtle shift in the camera that makes a huge difference!

  • Shift Your Weight

    • You accomplish this by popping your hip to one side (toward your significant other if your are getting engagement photos done), and then moving the foot on the “unpopped hip side” so you either gently drag a toe behind you or rest on its tiptoe while crossing that knee over the other one.

  • Bend Your Elbows

    • Simply put, you don’t want your arms hanging straight down at your sides. That looks unnatural, makes your body look “Minecraft-y,” and can push the shape of your arms into less than flattering positions. So, put your hand on your hip, partially behind your back, or somewhere so it will have a bend at the elbow.

  • Smile for real!

    • All too frequently, people plaster a really fake, painful looking smile on their face and keep it there for the bulk of their photos. Stop! Relax your face if you need to, and when the time comes for the photo think of something funny, tell a stupid joke, or do something to make yourself laugh or smile involuntarily. It’s those authentic smiles that really shine through and, take it from someone that sees a TON of photos, it’s a HUGE improvement over the frozen smile.

This may seem simple (or overwhelming), but taking the time to ensure these quick tips are implemented will help you look your best. People tend to “lock-up” in front of the camera and start doing all sorts of uncomfortable looking posing. These tips help you bring some of that relaxed, natural look back into your images.

Within about 5-10 minutes of a photo session, most of my clients are doing these things naturally with only the occasional reminder or correction from me. As a result, we’re able to focus on having a blast, laughing, getting to know each other a bit better, and creating the fun mood that shines through in the photos.

Grooming Tips

Tips for the Fellas

Okay guys, we got off a bit easy with the posing advice, but we have to make up for it with a bit of conscientious thought when it comes to grooming. I’ll keep things as simple and painless as possible.

Hair

Your hair needs to be presentable. Don’t go get a haircut the week before your shoot, go get your haircut a couple of weeks before your session. This will give your hair time to grow back out a bit and reach the “happy medium of awesomeness” (Yes, that’s the technical term.) that we all strive for.

Face

Don’t neglect it! If you normally rock a beard, goatee, handlebars, or other type of facial hair, ensure that it has been cleaned, trimmed, and cleaned up around the edges, etc. If you are going to be clean shaven, consider getting a quality shave at a salon or somewhere like The Art of Shave. You’ll be less likely to end up with razor burn and/or nicks this way.

If that’s not in the budget, take your time shaving to keep from doing something that might irritate your skin. (Photoshop and editing can help if the worst were to happen, but if the work necessary is extensive, you can most likely look forward to an additional retouching fee and a longer turnaround time between the session and delivery of your images.)

Hands

I know you might not like it, but your safest bet here is to go get a manicure. If this idea is appalling or uncomfortable, I would suggest you take some headphones and listen to sports, watch some MMA on your phone, watch Ron Swanson video clips, or just blast some RAWK to get you through.

If you prefer to avoid that scenario, I would recommend you invest some time in the weeks before the session to get some lotion on those mitts and get your fingernails and cuticles cleaned up. Your hands might not even make their way into a photo, but if they do it’s worth the effort you put into cleaning them up.

Ladies, your turn!

The tips from above (ahem, go ahead and disregard the facial hair part...) are still applicable. Use your photo session as an excuse to go get your hands and feet pampered with a mani/pedi so they’re looking nice! Chances are that your hands will more than likely be in the photo, especially if you’re going to be showing off an engagement ring or accessory.

If you're looking for ideas on what type of manicure to get, go the French tip route. It’s a classic, clean look that won’t look out of place or clash with other aspects of your wardrobe.

Professional Makeup

If at all possible, I recommend getting professional makeup and hair styling done. Not only does it take the stress off of you, but your stylist should be able to give you a natural look that will look great on camera. It’s easy to overdo makeup where it doesn’t give you the look you desire. So getting it done professionally is one of the best ways that you can ensure it will look flawless.

If professional makeup is out of the question and you still want some makeup, keep it natural without much additional color, especially around the eyes, etc. Also, avoid products that contain a metallic component or glitter as these tend to catch the light and create sparks of light in photos that are time consuming to edit if it becomes necessary.

Props or No?

This is one of those concepts that could go either way on the awesome scale. From what I’ve seen, using props can either be an incredible addition to a photo session or they can be cheesy. If you have ideas for props that you would like to try, put plenty of thought into all of the details.

It’s the details that bring together a styled session with props. Pull out all the stops on Pinterest, collaborate with your photographer and have a ball with it! I would even recommend contacting a rental company or event planner to discuss your ideas as they tend to have a lot of resources and ideas on how to bring the details of your vision to life in a classy, polished way.

These guidelines are the homework you should complete prior to your photo session. Once you’ve put in the effort and thought to go through each category above and implement the advice given into your wardrobe and grooming prep, relax! You should now be able to show up at the photo session with confidence that you have done your part to create the images you want. The photo session is the fun, creative part of this process.

At the session, it’s the role of your photographer to remind you of posing tips, come up with new & different poses for everyone, and to look for creative ways to capture whatever story or season you are wanting to capture.

Are there any other topics, ideas, or questions that I haven’t covered here? I’d love to hear from you and get any feedback you’d like to share. Feel free to drop a comment down below or shoot me an email!

If you’d like to ensure you pick the perfect location for your photo session, take a look at my guide to locations here. Just enter your email address and I’ll get that e-guide sent over to you!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by, I hope to hear from you soon!

 

9 Questions Brides Want Answered | St. Louis Wedding Photographer

For an industry with what seems to operate under a fairly basic premise, the wedding industry certainly contains a lot of pitfalls, questions, and unknowns that couples have to address as they prepare for their big day.. Recently, I asked the members of my St. Louis area bridal/wedding resource group (if you’re planning your wedding, check it out!) what types of questions they have and what they would like to learn more about.

In addition to some of the topics I already planned to address, I received quite a few others to add to the list. Many of those included questions about St. Louis wedding photography and picking a St. Louis wedding photographer.

(Quick note:  If you have any questions about a topic that aren’t addressed, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll certainly get to work on it!)

If you'd like to be the first to hear about new resources and would like to snag a copy of the guide I created for "How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Engagement Photos," click this link, enter your info, and I'll get a copy of that e-book sent over to you ASAP! 

Ready? Let’s get started!

Should I hire one wedding photographer or two?

The easy answer? Two!

If you have a very strict budget and simply CANNOT afford the additional cost for a second photographer, I get it. In this case, I highly recommend that you take some extra time to talk to the St. Louis wedding photographer you are interested in booking to ensure that you are on the same page. They will need to be aware of the details surrounding the timeline you’ve created for your wedding day, and you will need to add a bit of extra time around each “phase” of your wedding day to allow them to move and setup new gear, take a restroom break, etc. You will also need to keep in mind that things that might normally be shot at the same time will need to be scheduled for separate times as photographers are normal people too and can’t be in two places at once...yet!

This is one of the main reasons why I recommend having two wedding photographers. Two photographers shooting throughout the day allow for a lot more photos of every aspect of your day. You will end up with more details covered, more candid, emotional moments captured, and you can streamline your timeline by having one photographer covering one aspect of the day while the other is somewhere else.

(Note: I recommend hiring a photographer that will have a trusted second photographer with them, not two separate photography studios. The established team will work together more efficiently and your end result will be much more cohesive than it would be with two completely different people shooting whatever they think you want in completely different manners.)

Should I have both photo and video?

This is mostly a personal preference scenario. My opinion? You are spending countless hours, sleepless nights, and tons of money putting together this one epic celebration of your love for your spouse. After you leave the venue, the vast majority of that investment is gone forever…unless you’ve considered the importance of preserving those moments, details, and memories in the form of photography and video. In order to do so, I would highly recommend booking both a wedding photographer and a videographer if your budget allows.

Do they have to be (or should they be) from the same company?

No. Not necessarily. I recommend finding the best of each within your budget and booking them, or at least talking to them. These folks are going to be all up in your business the entire wedding day, you need to LIKE them. So find the ones you like and book ‘em, Dan-o! Whether they are from the same company or not…

How many hours of coverage should I plan for?

ALL OF THEM! Seriously, read my response to the photo + video question (above). It might seem silly to have a photographer hanging out while you just chill with your bridesmaids or hanging with the guys at another location, but those times are when the magical, intimate moments happen. Those are the moments that bring tears to your eyes 20 years from now.

Another reason you want to consider scheduling as much coverage as you can, because NOTHING ever works according to schedule. Think about it! It takes way too long just to get a group of friends out the door for breakfast or dinner when you’re all hanging out. Add the dress clothes, high heels, nerves of the day, the fact that someone is always going to forget something and have to run back inside and someone is always going to be hanging out in the bathroom holding everyone else up, and you have a recipe for stress if you haven’t prepared! Add in tons of cushion time, extra time before and after photos, and have your St. Louis wedding photographer there for as long as you can!

What questions should I expect from an experienced photographer in an initial consult?

This varies quite a bit based on how well they know you, how much you choose to reveal, and how engaged you are in the photographic end of the process. During the course of an initial meeting, you can reasonably expect to discuss these topics:

  • Your story! Photographers are visual storytellers and we want to tell the story of your relationship, so be prepared to share details!
  • Your hopes and dreams for the wedding. How many guests, bridal party size, venues, themes, details, etc.
  • The types of shots you would like to see, if any. (If you don’t have any at this point, it’s all good!)
  • Favorite date spots, etc. if you are going to be having an engagement session with them. Although, these questions might come as you begin to plan your engagement session.
  • What questions do you have?

What information should I know before hiring a photographer?

First and foremost, you should be comfortable with them. There needs to be some camaraderie and comfort there. So take some time to ask them about themselves and get to know them on a personal level a bit. Make some small talk, drink some coffee, and relax a bit before diving into your interview.

(The better you get to know your photographer, the smoother your photo sessions with them will go, the more comfortable you will be with their judgement, and the more amazing your photos will be!)

Once everyone is comfortable, some questions to ask include:

  • What do your packages include?
  • Do you shoot with a second photographer?
  • What is your style?
    • Are they mostly documentary style (minimal posing/interference) or are they fine art where they’ll do most anything to get the shot they envision?
  • Are you comfortable with off camera lighting or are you natural light only?
    • This comes into play quite a bit depending on the venue you are using. If someone is comfortable with using additional lighting, they will be able to provide a different level of final image than someone that is strictly a natural light photographer.
  • What are the payment terms if you book with them?
  • How long does it take to get images back?
  • What’s your stance on digital files?
    • Many photographers charge a flat fee and provide unedited images on a CD/USB. Many others truly value printed products and want to offer something of heirloom quality and they will approach things a bit differently. I fall into the latter camp and would certainly want to discuss this with potential clients early on.

How can I tell between an experienced vs. a novice photographer?

Ask them! That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Talk about their experience. Look at their work. If possible, ask them to see an entire wedding gallery with all of the pictures from a wedding, not just their portfolio shots. If they are willing and able to show an entire gallery with shots that you like, chances are you are going to be satisfied with the images they provide you. There’s a big difference between a photographer that can nail 5-10 portfolio images and those that crank out hundreds of solid images from a wedding.

What are some things a photographer should never say or do?

Something that makes you uncomfortable on a personal level. If it’s an accident, that’s one thing, but your photographer should be professional, conscientious, and respectful of you and your ideas. They might (respectfully) argue with you about something or point out if something might not work (they do this in the best interest of your final photos!), but in the end they should ultimately defer to your preferences with a smile and good attitude. If they don’t or if they act ignorant, I’d recommend you find someone else. Your wedding day is going to be stressful and crazy enough without spending it with a cranky photographer that doesn’t know how to work with you.

How do I plan for/minimize problems or issues before they arise?

The hard part of planning for problems before they arise is actually thinking of what problems might crop up. I subscribe to belief in Murphy’s Law - anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Beyond actually predicting the future, your best bet is to work closely with your wedding vendors. Discuss your concerns, talk to them about the issues they’ve seen in the past and what they can do to avoid those things occurring in the future.

After that, it becomes a matter of rolling with whatever comes up. If you go in with the understanding that things are going to go wrong, you can be in a much better mental state and will be able to trust your wedding professionals to do their job and overcome whatever arises.

How do I deal with Mother Nature when I’m having an outdoor wedding?

Plan for the worst, hope for the best!

There are steps you can take to minimize the impact of inclement weather such as having tents to keep the ceremony and guests dry, heaters if you are planning something for when the weather might turn chilly, umbrellas, etc. However, the main thing you can do is properly plan. Look through the Farmer’s Almanac to get an idea how the weather might turn out.


Once you’ve done all of your planning, it comes down again to trusting your vendors to help you out and overcome whatever might occur. If you’ve selected your vendors carefully, your wedding will turn out great despite what Mother Nature throws at you. No matter what, keep your cool and stay focused on enjoying your big day!

What questions do you still have?

I know that there are countless questions still floating around out there and that I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all that can be covered here. I would absolutely LOVE to hear your questions, comments, stories, and real-life experiences! Feel free to leave comments below, shoot me an email, or bebop on over to Facebook and strike up a conversation

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

Michael

Jon & Erin | St. Louis Engagement Photographer

From a photographer's perspective, it wasn't a great day for photos, but part of being a photographer is taking the uncooperative days that Mother Nature throws over top of your schedule and make them work. I've discussed this a bit in previous posts, but Erin & Jon's session provided some fun challenges - wind and blinding sunlight. In addition, my schedule provided us some hoops that we had to jump through in order to get our session in, but Erin & Jon were incredible. They were understanding and accommodating, and I am VERY grateful!

What about the session?

Well, we battled crazy gusts of wind that threatened to carry various gear away on a regular basis, worked around the sun's blinding rays, and we even had to overcome my tumbling over my camera bag to land flat on my back! (Try recovering from that!!)

From old industrial buildings in downtown St. Charles, MO, to the always amazing Moonshine Blues Bar in the basement at Hendricks BBQ, and our final destination for sunset shots at Creve Coeur Lake, we had a great time! We talked dogs and TV shows, complained about the wind, enjoyed the day and I even got to hear an acoustic attempt at metal and a duet (however short lived) of Banana Pancakes before Erin stopped singing!

It was great fun, these are two very cool people, and I'm honored to have had the opportunity to capture these moments! Congrats on the engagement, Erin & Jon! Looking forward to your big day!

~Michael

Glamour, Fashion & a Wall | [re]Fresh Model of the Month | March

For the most part, I'm a pessimist. I spend about 75% of a photo shoot second guessing myself, knowing that I got the shot, but wondering if I GOT THE SHOT that I envisioned in my head. Much like a musician being able to hear a great lick in their heads but struggling to translate it to instrument, I like to fight myself.

This was not the case at our latest photo session at [re]Fresh Boutique. Abby, the model absolutely KILLED it! She was easy to work with, easy to pose, and completely comfortable in front of the camera. 

I'll let the images speak for themselves...

If you'd like to schedule a session with me or have a project for your store, business, or brand that you would like to collaborate on, just shoot me a message! I love meeting new people and working on fun projects!

Styled Wedding Shoot in Old Waterworks Building | St. Louis Wedding Photographer

Styled Wedding Shoot

Boy! February started off with quite the bang!

I put together my first ever styled wedding shoot at the amazing Hendricks BBQ in historic downtown St. Charles, MO. Besides myself and the venue, I was able to coordinate with 12 other AMAZING wedding vendors in the St. Louis area.

Amazing St. Louis Wedding Vendors

Once I received confirmation from Hendricks that they were on board with our using their venue for the shoot, I settled quickly on a rustic theme with rose quartz and serenity blue as our primary colors. Flowers & Weeds rocked this color scheme with an unbelievably beautiful bouquet, centerpiece, and bud vases in a variety of interesting styles. White Traditions Bridal and Ruby Francis provided amazing dresses for Jacqueline, and Porter Wilson, Goosehaven Bowties, and JM Knots got Nick looking super fly! The Cakery went big with their “nearly naked” cake, Margaux Paperie and Dana Michelle Calligraphy collaborated on hand addressed envelopes, incredibly detailed stationery (matching lining inside the envelopes anyone?) and Designs by Chas (thanks Ryan & Chas!) blew my mind with incredible tablescapes complete with wood ring place mats, two-toned silverware, custom decorated wine bottles, and antlers.

Makeup and hair was applied and styled perfectly for our theme by Emily-Miller Hair & Makeup, and jewelry from Chloe & Isabel provided the finishing touches.

Bring It!

After seeing the effort and quality of my vendor collaborators and all of the flexibility and assistance I received from my models, I certainly wanted to honor their efforts by putting my best into the images. The inside of the venue was quite dark (for my camera) and needed additional lighting get me the vibe I wanted. I used my HUGE octagonal modifier with a studio strobe and the results speak for themselves!

Take a look around – I hope you enjoy the images!

If you would like to schedule a session, discuss your wedding, or collaborate on a project, shoot me a message! I absolutely LOVE working with and meeting new people so I hope to hear from you very soon!

The Photos!


When should I book my wedding photographer?

A great question and something everything bride needs to think about as she makes plans for her big day. Understandably, the madness and chaos, the nerves and the excitement surrounding an accepted proposal can the coolest of cucumbers break into a cold sweat. Eventually, things will calm down and the all-important “list” will result in clear direction and understanding of the tasks facing you.

In the initial stages of your planning, there are two components you want to consider.

  • Your Venue
  • Your Photographer

Each of these are subject to scheduling constraints that are difficult to work around, and if they are booked before you are able to book them, you miss out. Seeing as how I’m a photographer, that’s what I’m going to focus on here…If you are looking for information on booking a venue, I would browse through some tips over on The Knot. However, the generally accepted booking time is nine to twelve months in advance.

So, consider exactly what you are looking for in your photographer

  • Find a photographer whose style you like. 
  • Schedule some time to get together and chat about your vision for your wedding day, your dreams, and what you would like to end up with once the wedding day is past and the honeymoon is over.
  • Make sure that you like the photographer and that they are someone you are comfortable with as you’ll be spending a lot of time with them both before, during, and after the wedding.
  • Once you determine that you like their style, are comfortable with them, and that they offer the services you are looking for, BOOK 'EM DAN-O!

(Side note - Photographers work with other wedding vendors all the time and might be able to point you in the direction of a phenomenal venue, planner, florist, baker, etc. Let them be your ally!)

Finally, please, please, please, ensure you end up with tangible, physical products from your photographer. Trust me, the memories will fade and if you simply walked away with a CD or USB drive that hold your images, you’ve missed out and may end up losing treasured memories! CD's get lost or scratched. USB drives stop working, disappear, or break. Large prints on your wall are beautiful reminders of your day.

Your wedding album is your very first family heirloom and provides laughs, tears of joy, nostalgia, and refreshed memories every single time you open it. Don’t miss out on that!

Make the investment and book your photographer today!

If you have any questions, experiences, or thoughts, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments!

And, if you would like to schedule a time to meet with me and chat about capturing your big day, shoot me a message! I'd love to grab a cuppa coffee and get to know you!

 

PSA: It's Time to Get a New Headshot!!! | St. Louis Headshot Photographer

Photography is a cyclical business. When most of your time is invested outdoors, you fall prey to the whims of seasons, weather, and the nasty combinations they can create. The result of winter's arrival in St. Louis is a short window of daylight for shooting during the day and the pesky effects of wind, rain, snow, sleet, and all the other little surprises Mother Nature throws our way.

As a result, I've spent most of my time the past couple months working with people updated their headshots for professional usage, company websites, and various social media platforms. If you haven't updated your headshots recently, I'd suggest you get on the ball! Personal branding and marketing is the name of the game these days. Whether you are looking for images for personal usage, or needing to ensure your LinkedIn profile rocks the way you want it to, an updated headshot will certainly help get the job done!

I'd love to help and can come to you! Just shine the Bat Symbol in the sky (aka: shoot me an email!), and I'll come running (on our scheduled date at the appointed time)!

Hope to hear from you soon!

[re]Fresh Model of the Month (x2!) - St. Louis Fashion Photographer

Well, it's a new month and that means a new write-up about my latest Model of the Month session at [re]Fresh Boutique in Brentwood. January's photo shoot was a departure from others because we added an additional model to the mix! We ended up with two sisters, Emily and Allie, that rocked several wardrobe changes and worked great together!

Since the sun has been setting early in the evening and due to our constraints (needing changing rooms, etc.) we have been stuck indoors for the past few sessions. I've not wanted to end up with similar settings and backdrops in every session, so I knew this session would take a little bit more thought as most of our settings have been tapped out.

I'm happy to say that we worked it out! From the conference room to a shot I organized from the parking lot outside, we had a great time and came away with some unique settings and shots!

Enjoy!


[re]Fresh Model of the Month - St. Louis Fashion Photographer

Well, it's Thanksgiving weekend and amongst the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie, I have another batch of photos from my [re]Fresh session to share with everyone!

This month's model was fresh from a business trip to Detroit and still managed to completely kill it the whole evening! We had a blast with Christmas decorations and winter clothing and even had a few of the fabled [re]Fresh volunteers hanging out to help with wardrobe and decor.

Check out the video for a very quick behind-the-scenes look at the session and bebop on over to [re]Fresh's website to submit your application to get in on the fun!

For more from Henson Creative, check out our Facebook page (don't forget to LIKE and follow it to stay up to date)! To schedule your session, click here!


Cake Smash with the Twins | St. Louis Family Photographer

A First!

When I was given the opportunity to take photos for a cake smash session featuring one-year-old twin boys, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect! I knew that there would be cake and the smashing of said cake, but beyond that? I dunno! As with any of my photo sessions, I spent a good deal of time looking for inspiration and thinking about how I wanted to approach it.

I showed up a bit early to the session with a solid game plan and a lot of excitement. Once we got mom, dad, and the twins ready, we started off with a few shots in the backyard. I was able to track down a vintage Radio Flyer wagon, add a blanket and a couple Winnie the Pooh bears, the twins, and you have a great combination for some classic baby cuteness! When the boys weren’t focused on waving at every car that drove by (they’re a friendly crew!), we snagged a couple great photos and moved inside for the part that everyone had been waiting for.

Cake Smash

The cake smash area was set up in front of the perfect wall, on top of the perfect table (love the reflections!). While the twins were prepped, I got my trusty studio lighting ready to go, and then we let the smashing begin! After several moments of tentativeness, the boys got into it and got their hands dirty. A few short moments later and it was all over!

Now that it's over and I've had some time to reflect, I must say, I had a blast! I mean, babies are cute anyway but add some sugar and some icing and you have quite the combo! I’m certainly looking forward to my next one!

Contact me to schedule your session today!

Ryan & Larissa | St. Louis Wedding Photographer

From the first time I saw these two friends of mine together in the context of them as "a couple," I just knew that it felt right. They're fun, they're super smart, and they just seem to be made for each other! Having known Ryan & Larissa for years, it's been fun watching them as they've moved through the various relationship stages and eventually announced their engagement. Since that time, I've had more opportunity to spend with them (check out their engagement pics!) and have had an absolute blast!

We entered the wedding day with gusto and had a good time throughout despite the nerves, the emotional moments, the various member's of the bridal parties headaches (real ones...probably from nerves, late nights, pre-wedding stress, or just not eating...), and the intense prep. As far as I know, everyone survived, Ryan & Larissa did end up hitched, pictures were taken, and they made their getaway. All in all, it went smoothly and I had an absolute blast with these two and their bridal "gang."

Thanks to R & L for letting my lurk about with my camera!

Here's a quick preview of just a few of my favorites. Congrats again!

Chasing the Light | St. Louis Music Photographer

A Zesty Evening

Variety and new experiences certainly add zest to life! So, it’s safe to say that last night was a bit…zesty…I had the opportunity to shoot an interview video and get some live shots of a friend’s band, Chasing the Light. As with most of my photo opportunities this fall, the lighting wasn’t the greatest for photos and I had to make adjustments in order to come away with the shots I wanted.

I pondered the best approach while watching the last part of soundcheck and decided that I would prefer to stay a bit further out from the action and us my telephoto lens to get close. This let me stay unobtrusive and helped me keep the focus where I wanted it by blurring out the backgrounds as much as possible. A combination of camera setting tweaks, a steady grip, and a little bit of post-processing magic enabled me to come away with some fun shots that look great!

The More You Know

It just goes to show, knowledge and experience are vital. Without these things, difficult lighting situations, poor weather, or ugly venues can ruin what might otherwise be an amazing photo opportunity.

For more from Chasing the Light, check out:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Enjoy the pics and be on the lookout for the interview in the near future!

Caleb | St. Louis Senior Photographer

Fall Photos

Fall = gloom.

At least that’s the way that this fall seems to have worked. From mini-sessions to November’s [re]Fresh Model of the Month, the sun has remained conspicuously hidden. Fortunately, having the proper lighting equipment and knowledge can make everything better! It’s a good thing, too! The Saturday of Caleb’s senior photos promised rain but the showers held off long enough for us to sneak our session in.

Black Suit & a Bow tie

An open field, black suit, and a snazzy bow tie started off the morning followed up by a few shots in the beautiful Forest Park World’s Fair Pavilion. Caleb rocked and posed almost as though he were involved in theater or something at school. (Quick note: He is.) Everything was going so well that the next step was fairly obvious, introduce a sword to the mix! The resulting pictures are very cool and, again, Caleb made everything look great!

Getting Gladitorial

Since we’d already introduced weapons to the setting, we went ahead and had him suit up in his authentic Roman armor. That’s when things really got fun! From silly juxtapositions to frames that look like they are out of a movie, we had an absolute blast! I loved getting to spend some time with Caleb and we were able to create some phenomenal shots.

Take a look around and if you want to work with me to create some awesome-ness that is as much “you” we were able to create with Caleb, shoot me a message! I love trying new things! So, if you have a crazy vision that you would like to try, I’m your man!

Give me a call or shoot me an email and we’ll chat about how to create your vision!

Contact Me:

Phone: 314.703.4408

Email: Michael@HensonCreativePhotography.com

[re]Fresh Boutique - November Model of the Month | St. Louis Fashion Photographer

Another month, another model!

As I mentioned in my first Model of the Month post, I’m loving the opportunity to work with [re]Fresh on this and look forward to each session. November’s model, Mallory, didn’t even know that she’d been entered in the program until she heard that she had been selected. That didn’t stop her from rocking it though! With sunsets coming earlier and earlier in the day, we began our session outside to take advantage of the last little bit of light. From there, we had a few different wardrobe changes and explored some new locations inside the [re]Fresh Boutique. At every opportunity, Mallory showed herself to be a natural and did a fantastic job!

We did run into some issue getting her to cut loose a bit. She’s pretty serious by nature and despite Jacqueline’s and my antics, she didn’t actually let out a laugh until the camera was put away and we were all chatting…Through it all, we had a great time and ended up with some awesome shots of Mallory that you will be able to see in marketing, social media posts, and printed and displayed at the store! If you haven’t already, definitely go check out [re]Fresh and sign up to be our next Model of the Month over on their website!

Our next model will be December and I’m thinking of tracking down some fake snow…If you have any ideas or want to schedule a fun-filled session for yourself, don’t hesitate to contact me and we’ll get to work on it!

Adam, Emily & Kids! | St. Louis Family Photographer

St. Louis Family Photographer

It started as I drove home. I was on my way to drop my family off before heading to my session with Adam & Emily when the realization that the ridiculous amount of cloud cover and dreariness is going to make our “perfect sunset” scheduled time not so perfect. The result? Raised blood pressure and tightened nerves as I rushed against a deadline I couldn’t control. Fortunately, I was able to safely deposit the family at home and meet Adam & Emily a couple of minutes earlier than originally scheduled. Knowing that the clouds and dreary, overcast lighting wouldn’t translate well into fall photos (you know, the warm, vibrant, “glowy” vibe), I decided to break out my trusty flash and umbrella to use throughout the session. Dialing the intensity of the flash down a bit, I was able to get good lighting that didn’t have that “that-dude’s-obviously-using-a-flash” shine.

After a busy day and the dreaded 20-minute car nap, the youngsters took a minute to wake up but managed to look incredibly cute despite their initial grogginess. Throwing a few leaves and having older sister drag little brother around a bit seemed to brighten them up and by the end of our time, they were more than ready to hit the playground we passed on the way to the park. Naturally, Adam & Emily looked great and were a lot of fun! I had a great time with the family and we ended up with some great shots despite Mother Nature’s attempts to bring us down!

[re]Fresh Boutique - October Model of the Month | St. Louis Fashion Photographer

Not just photos, passion!

When I first began this photographic journey, finding a way to align my passion for photography with my desire to do something valuable was a top priority. This year, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with [re]Fresh Boutique, an upscale, non-profit resale shop in Brentwood, MO, and their parent company Foster-Adopt.org to provide photos for their store décor, marketing, and social media efforts. Foster Adopt works to make foster homes permanent by support foster and adoptive families in the St. Louis Metro area. Since my daughter is adopted, this mission is near and dear to my heart and made the decision to work closely with re[Fresh] and Foster Adopt easy.

Model of the Month

One of the ways that I’ve been able to work with them is through the Model of the Month program. In this program, one person is chosen each month, given an hour long photo shoot on location at [re]Fresh, given a free photo print, and has their photos featured in the store, on social media, and in emails.

Taylor

Our first model is named Taylor. A St. Louis, MO area high school student, she looks great and we had a blast getting some photos of her! From fall inspired outfits, to homecoming dresses, she pulls the model look off well. Unfortunately, I discovered over the course of our shoot that she is immune to horribly ridiculous jokes (apparently, I only know dumb jokes), but she made up for it by opening up once I was able to convince the director of [re]Fresh, Jacqueline, to sit down and make her laugh.

All in all, it was a great time and I’m looking forward to more of these sessions over the coming months! If you have any ideas for locations for our photo sessions near the Brentwood, MO area, or would like to submit your name for the Model of the Month session, visit [re]Fresh Boutique online and let us know!

If you own or work for a boutique or business that would benefit from regularly updated photos, shoot me a message and let's chat! I'd love to work with you to create marketing materials and photos for your business! 

Email me today!