Styled Shoots

Caroline Logan Workshop Recap -- My Five Favorite Moments

My last blog shared the background of the Caroline Logan Workshop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, last month. Today, I want to brag about my five favorite moments from the adventure.

 

1. Surprise Birthday Cake!

Caroline's workshop was special for several reasons and one of them I tried not to make known too much was that it was my birthday! I love taking advantage of my birthday to reflect on the year behind and the year ahead. Surrounding myself with such amazingly-talented people and beautiful spirits was a wonderful way to do just that. Even better than the well-wishes and hugs from my new friends? A surprise singing of "Happy Birthday" with an adorable pink macaron and candle AND a beautiful birthday cake to take home. I felt like I was taking away from Caroline's special day and hard work but I appreciated it so, so much.
 

 

2. The "A-ha!" Moments

I caught myself often during our sessions somewhere between frantically writing quotes, book recommendations and ideas in my notebook and just sitting, staring, absorbing all that I wanted to do and be.

... Be a friend, not a vendor...

... Numbers don't matter...

... They're not actually buying the product; they're buying the heart...

 

3. A super styled shoot

Caroline and her team created such a beautiful vision at Hingework that day -- from the flowers to the gown and the amazing couple that was patient with the paparazzi in front of them. I loved Caroline's patience with us and our questions and I'm grateful that in never felt like there were a dozen photographers tripping over each other or stepping on each other's toes. I can't wait to share images in the future!

Styled Shoot Vendors:

Caroline Logan Photography

Kortney Cooper Dowell

Hingework

Posh Bridal

Treasured Events

Couture Cakery

Unfading Beauty by Kristen

Dove House Homemade

 

4. Giveaways and Goodies

Caroline is a force to be reckoned with and she has the support of INCREDIBLE companies and organizations, as evidenced by the sponsors and giveaway items in her workshop. KISS Photo Albums, PASS Galleries, Align Album Design, Shoot and Share, HoneyBook, ONA Camera Bags, MileIQ and Agree.com, just to name a few! I was the happy winner of an entire year of PASS galleries and I am SO grateful for that! It's going to mean more credits to apply to client gifts and surprises!

5. Meals, a tour and the parking garage

Caroline probably didn't imagine when planning her workshop that my favorite part might involve a parking garage downtown, but I swear it's a good thing! You see, Caroline managed to assemble some ladies that could easily be my friends in real life (and who hopefully will be) from different states and ages and backgrounds and families. It says a lot about her in who she gained in her class. Some of my favorite moments were chatting with other ladies in the thick of this balancing business and life thing -- gathering around our dinner table chatting about struggles and laughing and taking selfies while Caroline's mom took us on a walking tour around downtown Lancaster. And then, at the end of the very long, informative, incredibly motivating day, I said goodbye to the last of the ladies in a parking garage nearby and felt such happiness and joy that she was in my life now but also sadness that this whirlwind of a day was over now. I can't wait to watch each of them succeed.

Not sick of my excited rambles from the workshop yet, are you? One more post coming your way soon about what all of this means for Wendy Zook Photography in 2016! Stay tuned!

 

Dreams & Realities, Friends & Rockstars -- National Down Syndrome Society New York City Photo Shoot

***This is one in a three-part perspective on the #rockinNDSSstudios experience with the National Down Syndrome Society. To see more of this journey, visit my co-photographers Nicole and Sherri who are also sharing their adventures in blogs today. ***

 

 

Months of planning, new and old friendships and a gathering of wild imaginations and big dreams came together earlier this month in what will most definitely be remembered as one of the absolute highlights of both my professional and personal stories.

A little background and then a lot of fun memories:

In mid-October I shared my friend and newborn photographer Nicole Starr's donation of photography sessions to families affected by Down Syndrome with my never-met-but-feel-like-true-friends friend Sara Weir, President of the National Down Syndrome Society. I thought it was a long shot and I thought I might be bothering with Sara's already busy schedule, but lo and behold, Sara requested a conference call with us. We were excited, but puzzled. Perhaps, we thought, Sara had some connections in Nicole's Boston area for some well-deserving families to receive photos.

But Sara is a dreamer. A big dreamer and a big believer. And that's what makes her and the NDSS so fabulous -- they're almost afraid of the word "no" when it comes to advocacy, human rights and possibilities and futures for those with DS.

She offered up her idea that maybe, just maybe, we could all collaborate for a NYC rock-and-roll-themed photo shoot to use for the NDSS annual fundraising Gala, held in March at BB King Blues Club. The rest of that phone call is a blur because I felt such extreme emotions overtake me.

When Nicole and I hung up with Sara (after agreeing that YES YES YES we were in!), we of course called each other and simply alternated between shocked silence and excited squealing. And we took off running from there. We joined forces soon after with Kandi, Kristie, Maddy, Amy and several others from NDSS. There were conference calls and Pinterest boards and model calls on Facebook and then e-mails, phone calls, Excel spreadsheets and travel plans.

Sherri, a mom to a daughter with DS and Nebraska-based photographer, volunteered her time and efforts, too.

Before we knew it, a sunny, mild December Monday morning arrived.

I sat on my seat on the plane, smiling out the window as I texted a picture of the plane to my aunt for the kids to see. I half-wanted someone to ask me where this plane was taking me, just so I could answer, "To the most INCREDIBLE opportunity I've ever been given! You would not believe how lucky I am!"

At the NDSS New York offices on the 600-block of Broadway in the heart of the NoHo neighborhood, it went from a big dream to a huge reality. We tested our lighting and camera settings, took a tour and scoped out corners. Poured some coffee, grabbed our lenses and for about the longest five minutes, just stood in our own little quiet worlds. Then the first models arrived, hair and makeup began their work and it began!

We had more than 200 volunteer applicants and wound up with more than 50 models. We represented just about every genre and style of music and every age between infant and 50 years old. Men and women, boys and girls. Quiet and shy and confident and strong.

You know how they say, "It's the little things in life"? It is. Truly.

I felt so many powerful moments.

Many of my 15-minute sessions were outside in a side street off of Broadway, with cobblestone and wrought iron gates, graffiti, cool staircases and a true NYC skyline and vibe.

I remember crossing over the cobblestone with one of my older models holding my hand, tenderly gracing her feet over the bricks as she told me in one breath about her recent ankle surgeries and a trip abroad for advocacy work.

A teenage boy was painfully shy and his parents warned me he may not come out of his shell. But just a couple of minutes later, I saw the most beautiful smile. His mother wrote me that the photo shoot has changed his confidence and self esteem.

My Billy Joel sang "Uptown Girl" while acting smooth on the front steps of a nearby business. My Elvis Costello suggested wonderful poses and locations along the street and nodded, "That looks so good!" when I showed him the back of the camera.

I received hugs and got so many hand squeezes. I took selfies with my new friends and just couldn't stop smiling.

(Photos below are camera phone behind-the-scenes shots:)

 

It wasn't just the rockstars. It was the tough Momma who gracefully balanced her other children with love and attention. The Dad who wasn't afraid to make a fool out of himself to get his son to loosen up in front of the cameras and strangers. Proud aunts and grandparents and friends, too. Big sisters who helped little brothers and all of those behind the scenes, holding fans and lights, grabbing coffees, allowing flexibility and not worrying about who won't wear their wig or whether or not glasses are part of the costume. Some of the best moments were when I wasn't holding my Nikon -- instead I was blasting and dancing (poorly) to some Taylor Swift or asking about hobbies and hometowns and listening, truly listening.

Moms who learned I have a son with Down Syndrome offered resources, phone numbers and the best of bear hugs. The kind that say "I get it" and "Our lives rock!"

There was talk about fighting for the right classroom, open-heart surgeries on sweet babies, scars from tubes and so many battles that are fought on a daily, hourly basis. But there was no complaining. There was no 'why me.' Over the course of two days, we had one common purpose with some sunshine and a lot of love. We created beautiful art with our experience and equipment and all of those big dreams. But our models and their families are the reason for the success of those days. Their patience and open-mindedness and their incredible positivity.

 

I was keeping it together pretty well.

And then, in the most unlikely of moments, it all hit.

Nicole was photographing our little Buddy Holly and he needed a little encouragement from his big sisters and Mom who were watching from the back of the room. They were great -- a little dancing and some laughter and he was ready for his time in the spotlight. But the moment that truly defined his time as a rockstar? Not the solo photo that Nicole nailed in the camera of him with a guitar and a little black suit. It was the instant before when he stood in the center of four of his family members, all of them grooving and giggling. THAT, is what NDSS celebrates and strives for and that is why I think we all wanted to be a part of this. That reminder of hope and beauty. Of a life that is absolutely remarkable. A life lived like a dance party.

But, I couldn't put that in words, and I quietly retreated and broke down in tears in the hallway.

I apologized for being weak and creating a scene, but then Kandi of NDSS, also a mom to a little boy with DS, held my back and said "This is all for Zack."

But this is for all of them. The 400,000 people living with DS in America today. The moms and dads who have been through it all and the new parents of the 1 in 691 births with a DS diagnosis every year. This is for my new friends who have college degrees and who dance or sing or act. It is for their past accomplishments and their future successes. They are all rockstars. They are all role models for us all.

 

 

Several families have sent me/us thank-you messages. I am appreciative and yet I shake my head and whisper, "No, thank YOU."

You who rearranged doctor appointments and missed school and work. You who traveled five hours in the morning for one hour in our little makeshift studios just to turn around and drive five hours back home -- because you told us you 'just had to do this.' You who trusted a stranger with a camera. You at the NDSS who travel multiple times a month, endure difficult phone calls and long Senate meetings and House bill lingo. You who march and fundraise and do not sit quietly with the status quo.

 

(Images below are of some of the models I worked most closely with, emulating the following rockstars: Usher / Pink / Elvis Costello / Billy Joel / Elvis / Michael Jackson / Lenny Kravitz / Lady Gaga / Gwen Stefani / Janis Joplin / Pat Benatar.)

 


Images from this photo session will be used in promotion for and on display at the NDSS 30th Annual Gala and Auction. This year's honorees include ABC and actor and advocate Chris Burke. Final posters of our rockstars will be available for purchase. All proceeds from this event will go toward the NDSS.

Boho Bridal Shower {Styled Shoot} -- Part Two

Yesterday, I shared some of my favorite images of the details of our boho-themed bridal shower styled shoot -- the food, candles, table set-up and all of the fun decorations and favors. Today, it's all about the models! This part of the shoot is where I am most in my comfort zone and at my happiest behind my camera. As fun as a creative detail shot like ring close-ups or flowers can be, capturing a story -- friendship or family or a love story -- is what brings me greatest joy!

We had eight female models who portrayed our bridal shower attendees at various stations along our shoot and then one of the ladies and her boyfriend who were not only SO cute but also SO in love! They braved a super-quick rain shower right before sunset photos and were patient as three photographers directed them towards their own styles. Me? I love a good romantic, fun shot. If there's a serious face, my camera might get sad, haha!

So, we created a calm, fun, laid-back atmosphere and we tried not to make any photograph too boring, slow-paced or uninteresting. Conversations, questions and always planning your next move while working out your current one make the entire process a little easier for everyone involved.

Enjoy the photos and please check out the amazing vendors who shared their talents, time, space and love with me this week! And a very big thank-you to our fantastic models!

Patchwork Planning {Planner}  Forget Me Not Vintage Inc {Rentals & Styling}  Monzie's Floral Design {Flowers}  Peculiar Culinary {Desserts} Woven the Shop {Dreamcatchers} The Hunter Collection {Pillows}  The Post Home and Body {Soap Favors} Christine Conrad {Jewelry}  Make Pie Not War {Rings} Thrift Store Decor {Candles} Ryan Kenton {DJ}  The Dusty Daisy Shop {Feather Name Cards and Driftwood Decoration} Momental Designs {Invitation Kit} TattooByYou {Tattoos} Confeteti Warehouse/Lavender Linens {Linens} Jammin Barefoot (Karen) {Jamberry Favor} Erica {makeup}

Wendy also worked with some FANTASTIC photographers, including: Kelley Spurlock Photography / Elizabeth Lilly Photography / Chelsey Travelpiece / Photography by Seneca -- thank you for sharing your talent and many, many laughs!

*Special thanks to Mandy and Doug Chapman, for allowing us to use their property and disrupt their lives for a few days! Your family is beautiful and we are all so grateful to you.

You can see more images, including behind-the-scenes snapshots at WZP Instagram and WZP Facebook!

Boho Bridal Shower {Styled Shoot} - Part One -- The Details

Sometimes, when all of the T's are crossed and I's are dotted, and a group of amazing creatives gather together and rainclouds hold off, magic happens. When models are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside and everything around you inspires you, special moments are captured. Such was the case with a styled boho-themed bridal shower shoot that took place earlier this week. Led by Candice of Patchwork Planning and Renee of Forget Me Not Vintage Rentals and Styling, our images now inspire others!

We were surrounded by the most beautiful color palette -- pinks and greens with a touch of whimsy --  and the most beautiful textures -- woven vibrant rugs and decorative dreamcatchers, lace dresses and floral crowns. Fabulous food with even more delicious displays and the blingiest chandeliers ever!

Tomorrow, I'll highlight some of my favorite moments between our models -- a group of eight lovely ladies (and one handsome guy!) near a fabric teepee, enjoying a delightful dinner set-up, wrapped up in a sunset in a field and more. Today's blog, however, is showing off all of the tiny little details that helped create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

I'm going to let the images tell the story, but please take a moment to acquaint yourself with the terrific vendors I've listed below!

All photos taken with my Nikon D700, switching up between my 24mm/50mm (with and without macro filters) and 85mm.

Patchwork Planning {Planner}  Forget Me Not Vintage Inc {Rentals & Styling}  Monzie's Floral Design {Flowers}  Peculiar Culinary {Desserts} Woven the Shop {Dreamcatchers} The Hunter Collection {Pillows}  The Post Home and Body {Soap Favors} Christine Conrad {Jewelry}  Make Pie Not War {Rings} Thrift Store Decor {Candles} Ryan Kenton {DJ}  The Dusty Daisy Shop {Feather Name Cards and Driftwood Decoration} Momental Designs {Invitation Kit} TattooByYou {Tattoos} Confeteti Warehouse/Lavender Linens {Linens} Jammin Barefoot (Karen) {Jamberry Favor}

Wendy also worked with some FANTASTIC photographers, including: Kelley Spurlock Photography / Elizabeth Lilly Photography / Chelsey Travelpiece / Photography by Seneca -- thank you for sharing your talent and many, many laughs!

*Special thanks to Mandy and Doug Chapman, for allowing us to use their property and disrupt their lives for a few days! Your family is beautiful and we are all so grateful to you.

You can see more images, including behind-the-scenes snapshots at WZP Instagram and WZP Facebook!