Category: for photogs

3 tips for capturing gorgeous wedding details in any space

Filed in for photogs, mentoring shot by on at

Details 03

Part of our job as wedding photographers is to make everything look like the best possible version of itself. This includes our couples, their families and friends, their details, their venue – everything about their day!  At the same time, we have to remain true to our own style and aesthetic, and create images that we’re proud to deliver. Sometimes though, especially for people who are having very large weddings, there are serious limitations on venue options. As soon as your guest list surpasses 200, the pool of venues you have to choose from shrinks dramatically. There are really only a handful of locations in Buffalo that can comfortably hold more than 200 people, so sometimes our couples have to choose between style and function, and function usually wins.

So, what can you do as a bride if you end up having to be in a space that isn’t a good fit for your style? Hire an excellent photographer who can make a place you feel “meh” about look like the venue of your dreams. And, what can you do as a photographer who has to work in a space that isn’t really a good fit for your overall vibe and style? Get creative and make it your own. I love the challenge of taking a space that I’m not wild about and creating images that are a perfect fit for my style and brand aesthetic.

Details 04

These are beautiful detail shots that look like they were taken in a bright, white, clean space with perfectly diffused lighting and lots of room to work. Some of those things are true, but overall, it was a space that wasn’t a good fit for my style and our couple didn’t love the style of it either. I took an iPhone photo that day to show you what I had to work with. Check out that gorgeous brass railing, dark wood, 80’s wall paper, and fabulous casino carpeting:

Shooting details in hotels that aren’t a good fit for your style is a common challenge for wedding photographers, so here are three tips to help you conquer the cheesy carpeting and emerge victorious:

1. Find ANYTHING white to use as a backdrop and/or reflector. In the above situation, I was short on time and wasn’t able to go on a quest to find white things, so I grabbed the only white things I could find: the bride’s veil and the white plastic dust bag it came in. Yep, that’s right; the background of these detail photos is a white plastic bag. In the past, I have used white table cloths, white bedspreads, sheets, and even the bride’s dress or a bridesmaid’s dress – all of those things will work to give you a nice clean backdrop for your details. Using a white background is a great idea because it will make the details pop and reflect beautiful light throughout the frame. Pro tip: don’t use a dress as a backdrop to style details if any part of it will touch the floor.

2. Bring your own bag of tricks. I started doing this a few years ago, and it really made a huge difference in the end result of my images. To every wedding, I bring a giant piece of poster board that is white on one side and black on the other. I bring various ribbons, vintage stamps, and other little accents that I use to style photos. I also bring a piece of blush fabric and a piece of lace that can be worked in if I need something extra. There’s no need to walk away from a situation feeling like it wasn’t everything you wanted it to be when you can just bring your own bag of styling goodies!

3. Shoot close, tight, and manual. There are times when I shoot details to include the environment I’m in, and there are times (like this hotel situation) when I choose to shoot close and tight to avoid an environment that doesn’t mesh with my aesthetic. For these photos, I used a very shallow depth of field and a macro lens to highlight the beautiful items and take attention away from the background. Using the veil or other textured items in the foreground creates a beautiful creaminess (bokeh) that draws the eye to the main subject in the photo and away from the background.  Tulle and sparkly things are especially great to use!  Also, using manual focus when shooting details close and tight allows YOU to choose what’s in focus rather than letting the camera choose for you, and that can create some really unique, stunning images. Manual focus takes practice, but it’s worth the time investment!

Details 05

So, if you’ve ever been in a situation where you struggled to capture the details in a way that represented your style and brand aesthetic, I hope these tips were helpful to you! If you have questions, please feel free to ask!  You can comment below or shoot me an email at info@ayresphoto.com. :) 

3 things I did to overcome self-doubt and a major creative block

Filed in for photogs, mentoring, personal shot by on at

A common misconception about artists and creatives is that they can simply turn their creativity on and off like a faucet; but, that’s not even close to true. It takes really hard, consistent work to maintain it. You have to challenge yourself continuously, and push really hard to have creative breakthroughs. To be honest, it can be exhausting. There are times when you just lose your confidence and feel uninspired. If you have felt this way before, you’ll be happy to know that it’s 100% normal, and something all creative people have to go through. I would even go so far as to say that feeling uncomfortable is a necessary part of the creative process, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier. I experienced my first major creative block two years ago when Elsie was born, and it took me a full year and a half to break out of it.

Becoming a mother was such a major lifestyle change, and I struggled so hard in every way imaginable. I was constantly tired, and every ounce of energy I could muster up was directed toward figuring out how to function in this new reality. I felt empty creatively, and this might sound dramatic, but it was heartbreaking for me. That was always the one thing about myself that I have never had a doubt about. I am a creative person; it’s been part of my identity since childhood. I knew that everything about my life would change when I had a baby, but I really wasn’t expecting to lose such a defining piece of who I was.

For the first six months of her life, I stuffed my personal feelings away so I could focus all my attention on learning how to be a mother. Then, my wedding season started, and I was so excited to get back to doing what I love to do! I showed up to every wedding with so much love and gratitude in my heart for the people I was photographing, and I gave it my all, but I just felt…different. Something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was; all I knew was that I wasn’t who I used to be, and I was literally mourning that loss. I felt awkward in my new post-baby body, which led to a complete loss of self-confidence and a creative void. When I finally acknowledged that I needed to move forward and start the process of reinventing myself, things started to feel a little bit less awful. I researched “how to bust through a creative block,” made a list of action steps that were relevant to me as a photographer and business woman, and started following through with them. Slowly and surely, I rebuilt my self-confidence and creativity, and made a full return to joyful living. I will never be the same person I was before I became a mother, but that is as it should be. It really was a full transformation that made me into a much better person, artist, teacher, and friend, but it was not without growing pains.

There were three things that really helped me break through my creative block, and these things can be applied to any one in any creative field:

1. Reach out to people outside of your industry. I needed a source of inspiration that was outside of the wedding realm. Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings. I love weddings because I love people, and emotion, and the intricacies of relationships. Weddings are my comfort zone, and I needed to get uncomfortable in order to grow. So, first, I reached out to a friend and did a “no rules” shoot with her just to get my creative juices flowing. Then, I reached out to a couple of local fashion bloggers. Fashion shoots are NOT within my comfort zone. I’m not a fashion oriented person; I’m a people person. I don’t think too much about what I wear, and I don’t typically read fashion blogs, but these ladies were so awesome to work with. It was challenging for me, and made me feel uncomfortable, but I pushed through it and created a few images that I’m really proud of, AND I made some really good friends in the process.

2. Take on a new creative hobby. This is kind of hilarious because I barely have time to take a shower, but I decided to give hand-lettering a try. I purchased an online course, bought some special paper and pens, and would practice every night after Elsie went to sleep. Spoiler alert: I never became good at hand-lettering. BUT, putting my creative energy into something that was not photography or related to photography really helped me find my way back to a place of self-confidence.

3. Make time to breathe and meditate. I am a person who loves to work, so believe me when I say that I had to FORCE myself to do these things, and it was not easy. When I say “time to breathe,” I mean I put the baby in the stroller, put in some headphones, and went for a 30 minute walk. I listened to audio books, I brainstormed ideas for shoots, and sometimes I even talked to myself. It was great. As far as meditation, I did some actual meditations with chanting, but it also came in the form of journaling, free writing, collaging, and reading. “Meditating” can be anything that helps you work through the “stuff” that is holding you back. I had some of my best creative breakthroughs during these sessions.

One of the most important lessons I learned through this awkward transitional phase of life is that creativity is tied to our emotional health, and that self-doubt is the driving force behind creative blocks. If you’re feeling blocked or “stuck,” don’t fret; it’s only temporary. There are many ways to break on through to the other side and find your creative spark again. If these three things worked for me, then I’m willing to bet they would work for you, too. Self-doubt is a tough thing to overcome, but it’s totally do-able. It’s always worth it to do the hard work that gets you to where you want to be. Motherhood is an incredibly beautiful blessing, and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity; but I think a lot of people just walk away from themselves when they have a baby, and in my humble opinion, that’s not okay. For me, becoming a mother doesn’t mean putting my dreams on hold until my children are 20; it means that I now have to fight even harder to go after them, because someone else is watching every step I take. My daughter just turned two on Sunday, so it’s been two full years since I started this journey, and I’ve finally made my way back to a place where creativity flows freely. I’m sure there will be more self-doubt and creative blocks in my future, but I know I can overcome those easily now.

Have you ever experienced a creative block? What did you do to break through it?

PS – Come hang out with me on Instagram :)