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2016 Behind-the-Scenes fun from Wendy Zook Photography

Wendy Zook Photography had an AMAZING 2016 -- it was our first full-blown, full-time year of wedding photography, with more than 20 weddings captured. About 12 other love stories started their photographic journey with WZP through engagement sessions in four different states! 

We've been looking ahead to 2017 for the past few weeks of "slow season" -- working on a quicker turnaround process for our next clients, improving business management things here at the desk and already participating in our first educational event, thanks to a one-on-one Skype mentoring with Hope Taylor Photography

However, I find it hard to completely focus on 2017 until I take just a few more moments to reflect on the gifts and blessings 2016 brought to me. And there will definitely be some embarrasing behind-the-scenes images of Yours Truly acting awkward, goofy and all sorts of in-the-moment.

I'm extremely proud of this 365-day journey. I began 2016 sitting in a coffee shop with a potential bride. Sweaty palms, nervous giggles and a lot of coffee... and now, a happy WZP bride and a sweet new friend. Beyond any beautiful image I've taken (and I'm really proud of so many), I'm so happy with the new friends I have made -- fellow photographers and couples. I'm proud of the ways I have improved my craft -- finding a style all my own and not conforming to popular colors or edits or anything that's not true to me; improving myself technically, too. 

It used to be really tricky for me to be a leader or in the spotlight. Unfortunately, a wedding photographer is not a field that allows for one to be a quiet or meek wallflower. So, this year, I really grew into the moment-capturer I wanted to be. I'm not exactly dancing on tabletops or screaming through a megaphone, but I've again found my way, wrangling large and loud bridal parties and excited, well-meaning mothers-in-law with snafus in weather predictions, medical emergencies and everything in between, and doing so with grace and confidence and kindness. 

I'm also taking leadership to a new role as leader of the Rochester chapter of the Rising Tide Society's monthly Tuesdays Together meetings -- an opportunity for local creatives of all fields to gather and network, talk business and have all those much-needed "you get it" moments. 

On a personal level, 2016 has been very, very good to us, too. We celebrated seven years of marriage and 10 years of our love story (which began with a blind date!). Our son turned 6 and started an amazing school sure to bring out amazing potential. And our firecracker-personality gal turned 4 and began full-day Pre-K recently. I started practicing Yoga and indulging in occasional Hikyoga adventures, too. And we started the year with celebrations with the National Down Syndrome and the incredible experience had while photographing models with an extra chromosome last winter. I feel truly, truly blessed for all the great things I've discovered and uncovered these past 12 months. 

And now, a little less mushy and a whole lot of awkward. I present insanely goofy images of myself deep in thought and on the move and testing light and making my couples laugh. 

Thank you to my phenomenal second shooters this year -- Kristin, Jenny, Dani and Stacey -- for keeping me sane, organized, laughing and dancing. Enjoy the photos! And Happy New Year! 

{Some backstories:
For one of these weddings, I was REALLY sick with a stomach bug. In the middle of trips to the country club bathroom, I was trying to set up settings with my second shooter outside in FREEZING temperatures for a glowstick departure. 

I apparently really like to take romantic walks with my couples as a third wheel. The prettier the location, the better, haha! 

Dislikes: Speckled light and uneven terrain. 
Likes: Funny faces, my new FitBit and pretty wedding day dresses. 

If I realize I've walked into my second's shot, I try to cover my face and act like I'm invisible. 

Final thoughts: I LOVE my couples. I'm so happy.}

 

Caroline Logan Workshop Recap -- Headshots & The Future of Wendy Zook Photography

So I've already shared a bit about what I loved most during the Caroline Logan Photography Workshop last month, and now I want to share my beautiful new headshots from Caroline and also what all this learning and daydreaming means for you and for Wendy Zook Photography.

 

There are no gigantic shifts in my business -- I mean, in the last year I've already rebranded and consistently given a fun and personal client experience (not to mention some of my favorite images so far!). Rather, I'll be emphasizing those things that are important to me, thanks to some "aha" moments at the workshop:

 

- Blessing my clients with my business

I don't want to just deliver photos -- I want to deliver an incredible experience from first phone call through consults and e-mails and engagement sessions all the way to their sparkler exit at the end of their special day. I want them to feel that in some way Wendy, and not just WZP, has brought joy and all sorts of good things into their lives.

 

- Consistency, consistency, consistency

I want consistency not just from Corynn and Kevin's wedding in June to Melissa and Patrick's big day in September but from my first wedding in May through my last wedding in 2017. I want consistency in my workflow (I'm slooooooowly moving to all-digital for contracts, invoices and bookkeeping) but also in my editing. I really want to stay true to my style and also make all of my events look like they truly belong to the same person. Will you hold me accountable to this?!
 

- Staying true to me

This is one that I'm getting better at, but, in a field that can be competitive and stressful and overwhelming with talent, I just want to make sure that the reason I take each wedding on is the same as why I chose this path originally -- to observe and capture the greatest moments of unique love stories and to embrace true moments of the day as they happen. I want to always tell romantic stories and fun anecdotes through images that are as natural and authentic as my couples. I want to come home after each long wedding day and say "YES, YES, YES" on repeat. I want to stay friends with my clients and watch their lives explode with beauty and joy and the ups and downs of life. I want to be a capturer of memories.

 

 

It got pretty serious there! Let's take a deep breath and enjoy some pretty photos from someone else, shall we?

Photos are courtesy of Caroline Logan and took place in the beautiful Hingework co-working/studio space in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Camera strap is from Casie Marie Photography's Etsy store.

 


Which headshot is your favorite?

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The other side of the camera (Who is Wendy?)

I've been so overjoyed meeting new friends recently, thanks to the only-slightly-creepy world of social media and following and being followed by amazing peers and neighbors and everyone in between, that I thought I should do a post all about me. OK, that sounds a bit narcissistic, but consider it a "hello" more than anything else. Even if you've trusted me with capturing a memory in the past, I trust that we will meet again and I think it's important to know who's behind the camera.

Speaking of behind the camera, I found myself on the OTHER side of the camera recently during my mentorship with Hope Taylor Photography and Ms. Hope captured my awkward, uncomfortable self with great skill and a keen eye and transformed me into something worthy of a headshot! Haha! So clients, don't worry, I completely understand what it's like to have someone putting you in angles that maybe don't make sense in the moment because chances are something great is happening and you are going to be very pleasantly surprised.

View More: http://hopetaylorphotographyphotos.pass.us/wendy-headshots

So, hello! Who the heck is this Wendy Zook?

First and foremost, I'm Momma to Zack and Addie. Because of Zack, I am a lover of hugs, sloppy kisses and advocacy for Down Syndrome. Because of Addie, I am a lover of coffee, imagination and colors.

My husband bought me my first "serious" camera in the weeks after our son was born. Two years later, a friend needed a last-minute wedding photographer and the adrenaline, creativity and fun I felt in that day led to part-time pursuing of photography opportunities.

After leaving my full-time job one year ago, I began to dedicate time to Wendy Zook Photography. 2014 was about training and learning and reinventing myself and my passion. 2015 will be about even more incredible things. My hope is that in December we can all look back on this post and this moment I'm freezing in time and shake our heads with how far I've come and how far WZP has journeyed in just a few months.

I am an old soul trapped in a young heart.

I love classic films and current chick flicks but would rather have the radio on (Van Morrison on Pandora lately) or a book on my lap than see a TV on in the room. I wear ballet flats every chance I get and have a silly amount of shoes that look very much alike.

I love it when I capture a story with my photographs. Two people in love strolling through Christmas lights weeks after their engagement. A groom fighting tears as he watches his bride walk towards him. A new business professional finding himself. A woman who feels like a princess for the first time in her life. A woman discovering her sexy side after a boudoir session.

There is adrenaline and emotion (I'm probably crying behind the camera during your vows) in every session I do and I care about each client like a friend.

Aside from my family, photography is what brings me great joy.

It's been a slow journey, but it is a great adventure. And I'm glad you're along for the ride.

Fall, Photos, Families... and what's coming up!

Last weekend, Wendy spent time on a beautiful Autumn afternoon photographing two special families. The "E" family -- two young girls, a teenage son and Mom and Dad, are the epitome of beautiful inside and out -- they are constantly giving back to their community and instantly create a positive, upbeat atmosphere. I so enjoyed my time at their property and appreciated their patience and hospitality. An excited pup followed us around (and joined in some pictures!); the youngest girl was a model in the making; the older girl was quiet with a gorgeous smile; son was so cooperative in what is clearly not a dream afternoon for a teenage boy; and mom and dad looked like they were newlyweds or even dating!

The "A" family met me at the public squares of a nearby downtown where Mr. R, almost two years old, let me play in the leaves with him and bask in some great late afternoon sunshine. Nothing puts a smile on a little boy's face quite like a goofy photographer with a dancing leaf on her head! I love it when parents put their trust in me even when I know they're worried we're not getting any shots because of a running and exploring toddler -- we wound up with some GREAT final shots of R's blue eyes.

I had rented a beautiful lens for these sessions and I'm so excited to share that Santa is bringing me not only me very own version of this lens, but also an INCREDIBLE new camera body! My future sessions will have not only my practice and trainings and experience, but now also some really amazing technology behind it!

I have several sessions in the rest of November and then December and am still booking weddings for Spring, Summer and Fall of 2015!

AND THAT'S NOT ALL! At the end of this month, I am doing an entire day of mentoring with a very talented, very stylish photographer named Hope Taylor. (You MUST check her out HERE!) We've got some models lined up and I have a list of questions for her. I'll have new head shots and most definitely, new enthusiasm, passion and ideas! I can't wait to start yet another exciting chapter with YOU! Let's get together in 2015 and capture some life moments!

Without further ado, some Fall Family photos to brighten your Monday!

Autumn Engagement (McKenna & Kyle -- and Wyatt!)

I was on my way to an engagement session with one of my 2015 wedding couples recently and while enjoying some country music in the car and a rainbow to my right, I knew it was going to be a special morning. McKenna and Kyle and their son Wyatt celebrated their love on a beautiful Fall morning -- crisp and a little drizzle here and there, but nothing was going to dampen their day.

We were so fortunate in that we didn't even have to stray off of their property to enjoy some great backdrops -- barns and farm buildings of all different textures, a wooden rail fence, a calming creek and of course tons of Fall foliage.

Wyatt was a ham and Kyle was a good sport and really, when your groom starts coming up with fun and creative ideas during the session, you know you've made him feel comfortable!

I am so looking forward to their wedding next year. I know their rustic touches and fun, laid-back personalities will shine through and I'm so grateful to have been chosen to be a part of their journey!

Witches & Wine (special events)

Wendy recently was invited to take part in a charity fundraiser for the Luzerne County Dress for Success. The event, called Witches & Wine, was held at the Woodlands Inn and featured about 40 vendors from all different areas (food stuff, crafts, jewelry, clothing, makeup, etc) and hundreds of women behind and in front of the tables dressed up in costume! It was a fun event for sure and I felt so incredibly welcome -- a blessing when you're new in town! -- and met several great ladies I hope to call friends.

I've already been invited back to next year's event and you better believe I'll be there -- with camera and witch's hat!

(Check out their FaceBook page HERE.)

Do you have a special event coming up soon? Do you need a photographer to donate time to help publicize your hard work and capture some images for future use? E-mail me today!

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Giving back

Community service and volunteerism has always been important to me. We're only given one community, one world -- when given the chance, I feel we should do our small part to make it better or richer in some way. Wendy Zook Photography will be represented at two events on opposite sides of the Commonwealth this weekend!

On Friday, Oct. 17, there is a fantastic event -- the 2nd Annual Witches & Wine event at the Woodlands Inn in Luzerne County. The event, 6-9 p.m., has raffles (including a complimentary session from me!), swag bags (they look AMAZING), and, best of all -- I'll be photographing the whole thing! I can't wait to capture some images of dressed-up attendees, excited winners and just a special event with all proceeds benefiting the Luzerne County Dress for Success.

I'll be creating an online photo album of photos from the night, so e-mail me your contact information if you'd like to view this!

Then, on Sunday, there will be a Multi-Vendor Bingo event at Memorial Park in Martinsburg, Blair County, PA. I'll be there in spirit, but my businesses will be there in the form of a complimentary photo session and $100 worth of Mary Kay goodies! All proceeds go towards the park, which is an incredible and invaluable place for our community and our family. Zack and Addie and their friends had a hundred playdates on that playground and Zack went to a special-needs classroom on property. The public library and a bowling alley are there, too.

Both are great events with important causes -- and a bit of WZP, too! :-)

(Another exciting event this weekend? I'm photographing my latest 2015 wedding couple for their engagement session -- and I am SO excited!)

Stay tuned for photos from Witches & Wine and my engagement session!

Have a great weekend!

Megan & Joe (Wedding)

Megan and Joe are a dream to work with if you're a wedding photographer. Let's ignore the blatantly obvious fact that they are both gorgeous people inside and out and let's focus on their love and their beautiful day.

I loved that when I first met these two lovebirds that they were so easy to talk to and share ideas back and forth; it was like hanging out with old friends. They have been organized and stuck to their vision every step of the way.

Their wedding day, honestly, was one of the most special ones I've ever been a part of (no, seriously). Whether their own vows they wrote and read to each other (Joe's actually had grown men tearing up in the church) or the never-ending laughs and smiles from the entire bridal party, it was so much fun and so sweet. Their love is undeniable.

We took a small risk in creating a no-look First Look-type picture. (Without seeing each other, Megan and Joe met on a corner of two walls and held hands and talked for a few moments before the ceremony.) I'm so glad we went through with it as it was a couple of minutes of pure emotion. They joked ("So, you still want to go through with this?") and they both dabbed moist eyes (It's amazing what a simple "I love you" means to two soulmates on such a day). I loved that moment.

In between the ceremony and reception, the bridal party stopped at Megan's mom's nearby property to take photos. It was gorgeous! Rolling hills and so much green around us on what was a fantastic day, weather-wise, too. Megan and Joe were not afraid to walk through some wildflowers or sit on the grass in order to grab a couple of really beautiful images.

Below are a few of my favorite shots. Do you have a favorite?

Megan and Joe, thank you, truly, for allowing me the absolute honor in sharing in your day and in the beginning of your marriage. You are the epitome of true love, beauty, fun and joy.

Megan & Joe 8-16-14 Bedford County, PA

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Handsome boys

My camera has spied several handsome boys lately! While I love the lace and pigtails of a shoot with a couple of girls, there is something to be said for the soft, serious side of boys of all ages.

Last week, I photographed two little brothers, Owen and his 'Baby Alex.' They were so cooperative and very, very photogenic! (The last time I photographed Owen, he screamed for at least 75% of the session!) We had fun around a local park and kept it easy and fun for the boys, just grabbing great shots here and there in between playing and climbing and exploring. I think it worked out great!

Then, a couple of days ago, I photographed my first senior, Zach. Although he was not a big fan of the session idea, he was a good sport and we captured some great images of him in his soccer uniform and then out and about on the family farm where he works. I love how comfortable he got at the farm. He's got a great smile when he lets one slip out!

I have a few more photo sessions coming up in the next week or so, including the long-awaited wedding this weekend of Megan and Joe and a beautiful girl I photographed about a year and a half ago.

I'm booking photo sessions for next week in the Blair/Bedford counties areas and then am working on filling up my schedule in the Scranton area at the end of August and September in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre areas. Schedule your session now! The camera is the last thing to be packed.

And now, some handsome gents:

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Some lovely lil ladies

I'm overdue in sharing some of my recent magic! In May, I photographed a two-year-old beauty who has my heart and could be a model. The best part was that we did most of the photographs right here in my backyard. I've always wanted to take advantage of the beautiful fields and mountains out back and this was our chance.

And this week, I capped off a celebration of a sweet lil (almost) one-year-old and her parents at their home nearby. She too could have been a model and we came out with some really special shots.

Bright blue eyes and deep brown eyes comin' up!

(BIG NEWS COMING SOON!... but for now, enjoy Ms. Aubrey and Ms. Brynlee)

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Lil Aubrey

Ms. Aubrey, a favorite of my heart and my camera, got some Christmas photos taken recently. The photos were taken at a beautiful resort all decked out in holiday decorations, but even their grandeur couldn't compare with Aubrey's big brown eyes and sweet smile. (Not to mention the cutest little dress!)

Merry Christmas, Ms. Aubrey and family!