August 13, 2018
Katie and Andre were married on November 18, 2018 at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco. The day was planned and designed by Kate Siegel who transformed what the bride called “the white box” into a gorgeous lush space full of greenery and florals using gold, acrylic and a custom painting by Yonder Designs to inspire the design for the day. The gallery is two levels and Kate’s team did 4 incredible installations flipping both spaces throughout the evening. Katie and André began the day at the St Regis, which is located right next to the SF MOMA. They had their first look outside the distinctive grey slate walls of theMOMA and then took portraits in the courtyard of theMOMA with their iconic Richard Serra sculpture and a few other outdoor installations, which served as the perfect backdrop to match their art gallery wedding. Their wedding party joined them dressed all in black suits and bridesmaids dresses of their choosing for photos at theMOMA and against a fun art wall nearby.
Guests began the evening with the ceremony on the upper level which took place at sunset. Cherries Flowers spent 2 days installing hanging florals and lightbulbs from gold structures custom made for the wedding day which ran the entire length of the aisle. Kate installed real hedges strung with twinkle lights behind the ceremony space with a candle installation in front of the hedges the bride and groom stood in front of during their ceremony officiated by a judge and old family friend. The sides of the room were all draped hiding the walls and creating a more intimate space.
After the ceremony guests made their way downstairs for cocktail hour, which featured high top tables with grey velvet tablecloths and large floral installations on both bars with custom gold and acrylic drink signs created by Underwood. Guests made their way back upstairs to find the room transformed with the drapery taken down and showing the art from the gallery on the walls and the dinner tables all brought in, including long rectangular tables tucked into the gold structures that had created he ceremony aisle. The tables used the same grey velvet tablecloths and rich florals that had been used downstairs and were paired with acrylic and gold Details. Underwood created a custom seating chart with the guests names printed on an acrylic slab bolted to another acrylic slab with gold leaf on it creating a beautiful 3-dimensional work of art. The same acrylic and gold leaf was used on the table numbers and the signs for the cocktails and guestbook. Underwood created a custom logo for the bride and groom using a K & A in an abstract way on the bride and groom’s guestbook and on each place card held in acrylic holders at their seats.
Yonder designed an abstract purple and grey painting for the invitation that was used as a layer underneath a piece of vellum which had the text printed on it creating a beautiful multi dimensional effect and was tied together with a piece of black string also used on the ceremony programs. The same painting was used in the creation of the menu and the guestbook a lot with the abstract K & A logo. Each guest had an individual menu tucked inside a purple velvet napkin which featured the menu on one side and a thank you note from the bride and groom on the other with a selection of quotes printed on each thank you, to thank their guests for celebrating with them. The Bay Bride was visible from the venue and the bride and groom decided to embrace their love for their city by creating a custom post card with SF icons on a sketch on the front.
While guests dined upstairs the cocktail space was transformed with lighting and new lounge furniture was installed for an evening of dancing with an incredible stage with custom lightbulbs reminiscent of the ones on the 2nd floor. A champagne tower was set up in the entrance to the dance floor and a large dessert table with all the bride and groom’s favorite desserts light with purple and blue lighting to highlight the art on the walls and transform the space for an evening of dancing. The bride and groom kicked off the night with parents dances and then their own first dance before inviting everyone to the floor followed later in the evening by two special dances led by their friends including both the bride and groom crowd surfing and being thrown in the air during Magic Carpet Ride and a group sing-a-Long to Piano Man with all 200+ guests singing along. See more from their day on Martha Stewart Weddings.
April 13, 2018
So the question is what happens next? What happens after the pretty? I’ve been humming Hamilton all week and thinking of Jonathan Groff’s King George singing “What happens next? Do you know how hard it is to lead?” Who will take up the lead and fill this space? And more importantly what should? I feel that the closing of Style Me Pretty, for whatever reason it may have closed, is a wake up call to our industry for some change. I am not placing any blame, I am very much a part of this, but when did everything become so much about the pretty and so much less about everything else? Weddings are not about just the pretty details, they’re about the moments. They’re the celebration of a new family coming together and a love being declared to the world. They’re intensely joyful, sorrowful, anxiety producing, crazy, loving, beautiful and wonderful moments all jam packed into one little day so why is the only adjective we focus on right now pretty? I talk about this quite often on my social media platforms- I think the need to be “pretty” is starting to interfere with being authentic. I am in the middle of writing my detail flat lay styling course, and I say about 100x throughout to style MINDFULLY and THOUGHTFULLY and PURPOSEFULLY. It may be about details, but it goes so beyond that and teaches the compositional theory and why we see things the way we see them. I want to help people create beautiful images not just for the pages of a magazine or style me pretty, but also for their clients wedding albums, because that’s why we’re doing this. I think that end game has gotten a little blurred. I was so excited this year to finally put out my course More Than Pretty Tones and publish a mini e-book of my Behind The Frame series, which is an intro to semiotics and aesthetic philosophy. For years I told everyone I would never teach because I was feeling discouraged by this onslaught of styled shoots and the same content being made over and over again with every portfolio looking similar. I had no interest in adding to that space. I stubbornly said everyone wants to pad their portfolios and no one actually wants to do the hard work and learn. Who wants to listen to me lecture about Sontag and Plato I asked? But you know what- a lot of people do. And that excites the hell at me. It gets me so excited about what could be next, because I do think people genuinely are craving more than pretty. Getting into the teaching space these last few months has made me so inspired and so excited by our community and all the amazing voices I’ve met who are so passionate about what they do and wanting to create amazing imagery for their clients and for themselves just as much as for the publications.
I feel right now the wedding community is so segmented. The photo-journalistic photographers capture emotion and the fine art ones capture details. Well I call bullshit. I have collections in my lightroom catalog, which for any non-photographers is what I use to store my photographs, and I make one for each couple’s slideshow, one for their album and one for my submission to whatever publication I’m submitting to. In making this blog post I went straight to the slideshow or album folder and ignored the submission. I knew none of these photos would be in the submission folder. I didn’t include them because I knew they wouldn’t be chosen or used. That’s on me. I think whatever comes next needs both. Show the pretty- brides and grooms crave and want that inspo, but lets also show them those emotional, gut-wrenching, make you laugh till you cry or cry till you laugh moments that wedding days are really all about. Lets have a space for better content! Articles written by photographers and wedding planners, fashion for all types of brides and grooms and more inclusiveness of all types of weddings! There can still be a space for the most gorgeous of weddings but lets show more photos from them! And photographers lets rise to the occasion to care more about those photos. I’ve looked through hundreds upon hundreds of portfolios in the last few years through my mentorship program and while looking for second shooters and assistants and time and time again I see portfolios full of pretty images from styled shoots that fall apart on real wedding days.
Photographers and stylists are bringing in items that have nothing to do with the wedding day, creating fake invitation suites for weddings that didn’t have one, setting up scenes with fancy chargers or stemware that weren’t part of the wedding day, just to get published. This astounds me and I’m hoping this comes to an end. I’m all for making what you have in front of you look its best and I teach these tactics, but lets keep it to the authentic! Lets make sure when our couples and their friends and families look at their photos they don’t say wait is this the same wedding? I’ve been saying for years it would catch up to the industry and I think it finally has. Style Me Pretty’s readership was down and I think it’s because it created an echo chamber of the same work being created in styled shoots, copied in weddings and back and forth. This is a wake up call for us all to do better, to be better and to show that better work.
At least 60% of these photos are ones I haven’t posted online in my blog or portfolio. I used to post much more of these but I cut back because I didn’t see my colleagues doing it, but I’m done with that, I’m showing what I love from now on and I love these photos! I’m changing the way I blog and share my images and I encourage you to do so as well. I use my full galleries to sell myself and prove I’m worth what I’m worth through these images, but I hardly ever show these images publicly. I’m ready to change that. Remember that your couple’s favorite image probably isn’t that posed portrait with the pretty tones, it’s most likely that slightly out of focus photo of them on the dance floor feeling pure joy and a champagne buzz. So instead of investing in all these workshops- invest your time in learning to use light in all situations- including artificial light since a lot of the wedding day happens after dark! Learn how to capture the decisive moment! Learn how to be thoughtful and how to create a narrative with your images. And you can use the pretty to create a narrative, that’s what my whole details course is about. This is what I think comes after the pretty. More real life, more real moments. Real moments can be really pretty too. I think its a shame the photojournalistic photographers look down on detail styling because its “inauthentic” and thats because there’s too many people approaching it that way. We need to get back to using these tools to tell a story. It can most certainly be a pretty story, but there should be a story in there! This is what sets us apart as photographers, as artists, as storytellers and I think the revolution of showing these alongside all the other pretty details is coming. I hope you join me in it. Style Me Pretty, you will still be incredibly missed. I truly am mourning losing this resource and am heartbroken and wish I could do something to bring it back or at least keep what’s already there online. But I’m trying to see a silver lining and I think that silver lining is the push we all need to be more mindful. More purposeful and show off a little more of what we’re capable of than just pretty pictures.