Last week, I received some of the biggest news of my career when I found out I was named one of just five midwest-based photographers in Martha Stewart Weddings’ Top Photographers in their new Spring 2014 issue! To say I’m thrilled to be on this list — in the company of some of my favorite photographers in the country — is an understatement. Thank you so much to the wonderful team at MSW for including me and being so supportive of my work, and to all of my clients for selecting me for their day and the amazing vendor teams I work with for creating such beautiful events.
The issue comes out today (March 3) and is also available on the iPad.
Since starting my business seven years ago, it had been a dream of mine to shoot a Milwaukee Art Museum wedding. I have always had a special connection to the water, Lake Michigan, especially. Being there makes me feel calm and centered, and there is such a beautiful and tranquil quality to the water. Coupled with a love for architecture, its easy to see why the Santiago Calatrava building is my favorite in the country. Since first visiting, I always thought it would be the most gorgeous setting for a wedding, with the lobby of the museum almost creating a church nave-like feel, and the crisp whites easily lending itself to a very modern wedding look.
Fast forward several years, and I was so excited to have Andie contact me about shooting her wedding there. Andie and I had known one another casually from in the industry, so aside from my excitement about her venue, I was equally thrilled to be asked to photograph her day, as it’s so flattering to be selected by fellow industry friends! Andie and Tom met working in Chicago and then decided to return back to Andie’s home in Milwaukee for the wedding. Tom’s family from England made the trip over, and I was so happy that we had some of the most beautiful weather of the year for their time in the States! Their day was truly perfect, with Andie and Tom’s extremely laid-back approach to the making my job so very easy, and their friends and family making for lots of great photo opportunities on the dance floor! The decor was also top notch, with Andie insisting on ghost chairs for the ceremony (it’s hard to imagine anything else in that space after seeing them!) and Lauren Carter helping to pull together her bold and preppy-modern decor scheme. Thanks so much too to Louie Abellera for shooting with me and taking a few of the great shots below!
Venue: Milwaukee Art Museum | Fascinator: Alice Padrul | Cake: The Cake Lady | Dress: Anne Barge | Flowers: Belle Fiori | Music: Megan Taylor/Fig Media | Coordination: LOLA Event Productions | Second Photographer: Louie Abellera
Now that we’re in the slower season, I’m excited to look back at some shoots from last year. One of my favorites was this session I did for Olivia and JD in Indianapolis on a perfect summer day. We started the shoot at their gorgeous home with their pups as JD prepared the beginnings of dinner, and then moved onto a family friend’s sprawling farm before we returned for wine and some of the best soup I’ve ever had (thanks, JD!). This was one of my favorite shoots ever, with the perfect combination of personal locations that held meaning to the couple and great styling that really beautifully complemented the feel we were going for. I love photographing in more outdoorsy locations—being able to stroll through a field on our own timetable is so relaxing and refreshing, and even lends itself to shooting some film as we did here! I can’t say enough how important I think sessions are—spending a few hours with Olivia and JD really helped me learn more about their personal style, humor, and energy so that on their wedding day (which was equally lovely) we had such a well-developed bond that allowed for the most natural photos possible! Thanks again for having me down, you two! I had such a wonderful time and can’t say enough about your hospitality.
This most recent winter polar vortex is something awful, but I’ll be darned if winter weddings don’t make for some of the most romantic and cozy celebrations. As proof, here are a few from Lauren + Jeff’s wedding on a day when it started to snow about 8 inches. More to come soon…
I always love doing these posts. It’s really neat to reflect back on the year and think about where I started and how the course of the year changed both myself and my work. 2012 was honestly a rather hard year for me. Olivia Leigh Photographie was more successful than ever before and we photographed some truly amazing weddings, but finding a work-life balance was proving difficult and my personal life wasn’t as fulfilling as I would have wanted. I realized this at the end of the year, and really focused on taking proactive steps to changing things I was dissatisfied with as I moved into 2013.
I started the year with a solo trip to Big Sur, a place that really helped to set off a chain reaction of me traveling independently and saying “yes” to as much as possible in 2013. I went on a life-changing solo trip to Southeast Asia in February, visiting Laos, Hong Kong, Cambodia and Thailand and also went to Paris and Provence in the fall and Art Basel in December—all trips I was extremely lucky to be able to take but ones that were also so fulfilling and inspiring for me and my work.
Along with all of the amazing things in personal life, 2013 was also a great year for business. I photographed weddings for the kindest couples and truly loved every wedding and every couple I photographed this year. Everyone was just lovely. Our industry can be difficult at times, especially when you look at others’ work and wonder if you should adopt more of X or Y style. But in looking at this post, I’m so happy with the work myself (and all my amazing assistants!) did this year. My happiness with work has always come from shooting the authentic joy and happiness in people, and scrolling through these images I’m once again reminded how insanely lucky I am to do what I do. To be around such kind couples, be given creative freedom and photograph this type of emotion on such a key day? What a gift.
Thanks to everyone from this year, from all my clients to the amazing vendors who make the events come together; from all my assistants and colleagues to my family and friends. 2013 ended up being the best year of my life, all thanks to you!