Phone Photo App Round-up

Whether you’re a professional or so far over on the amateur side of the spectrum (*ahem* ME), if you love taking pictures on your phone, you’re always on the lookout for fun and helpful photography apps. I’ve rounded up a few I think you’ll love.

Instagram (free, iOS and Android) Obviously, we’ve already discussed the fun of this app. add filters, blur, and share to multiple social networks simultaneously. A must-have for social media addicts.


Pocketbooth ($0.99, iOS). Turns your phone into a 1950s-era photobooth. Fun and adorable, perfect for entertainment at your next get-together.


Snapseed (free, iOS and Android) Tons of editing options, from straightening to adjusting balance, this is one editing app that, while a little tricky to learn how to use, is well worth it.


Pic Stitch (free, iOS and Android) A simple and effective collage app for when you just want to drop a few pictures together and don’t need all the “fancy” frames to sort through. Easy to use and export photos.


Retro Camera (free, Android) “5 cameras, 5 sets of vintage vignetting, film scratch, black and white & cross processing effects for that off-the-hip analog look.” Inspired by Hipstamtic and the like.


Color Splash ($0.99, iOS and Android) Keep an element in color while fading the rest to gray tones — definitely a fun effect that screams drama. Apparently there is a slight learning curve with this app, but it is user-friendly and intuitive.


Camera+ (on sale now for $0.99, iOS and Android) Supposedly the cream of the crop for editing, it has it all. Edit, add effects, set separate focus and exposure targets, and make iPhone’s flash into a continuous flash. It has been downloaded over 10 million times, and reviewers say it’s worth the price.


Fast Camera ($1.99, iOS) (I got this for free, so I assume it goes on sale periodically) There are multiple fast camera apps out there, but this is the one I have, and I love it. Turn it on, it starts snapping pictures until you hit stop. Preview, save the ones you want, and ditch the rest.  Great for sports or trying to get group shots with multiple wiggling children.


There you have it. Which apps would you add to the list? Leave a comment and share with us!

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on Twitter, and InstagramFeel free to stalk her. She encourages it.


Suffering from sticker shock? It might not be as bad as you think…

For the last month or so, I’ve talked about ways to make your wedding planning a little easier (Check out my posts about the dress, flowers, cake, and invitations). Today, I want to go over a few things that a lot of people might not realize.

Some of the major complaints I hear from couples afterward is that they were too stressed over minor details, or that they had too much to do the day of the wedding. A lot of couples wish that they’d hired a planner to just handle ALL of it, and Veronica did write about the merits of hiring a wedding planner a few weeks ago, so I won’t repeat what’s already been said. I’m going to go off my own personal experience here, and talk about using a venue that’s all inclusive versus hiring individual vendors for everything.

After picking a wedding date, I started calling a TON of venues in my area. As a florist, I was familiar with most of them, and knew several locations that I could envision my wedding taking place at. Everyone was all-inclusive, and to be perfectly honest, this term scared me. To me, it sounded like money. Lots, and lots of money. I broke out in a cold sweat when the first coordinator started going over pricing with me. $52 a plate. Each person that I was inviting to my wedding was going to cost me $52. I freaked out, and decided that this really wasn’t for me. I mean, with my family, and my husband’s family, we were looking at 200 guests, if not more. That would have worked out to roughly ten grand. Ten thousand dollars on what I was looking at as food and bottom shelf booze. Sounds a little insane, right? Wrong. What I didn’t think about was the fact that you’re getting way more than just food and drink for your $52. You’re getting SERVICE.

  • You’re getting the hall itself.
  • Most of them allow the ceremony to take place on their grounds, at no additional charge. Huge plus, since it’s expensive to rent a church.
  • Given that most of these places were country clubs, they were beautifully landscaped, and there was no need to go off location for photos. Another huge bonus, and time saver. It also saves a little money, if your photographer charges more to travel to another location.
  • All of these places have an event coordinator, so even if you don’t have an actual wedding planner, there is still a person at the hall to help you out with coordinating other vendors and any issues that might pop up.
  • It does include your food and drink.
  • It includes chairs and tables. Seriously. Some off the wall halls don’t have these available, so you have to rent them.
  • Someone on staff to cut and serve the cake, so you don’t have to bother Aunt Fran with this task.
  • They. Clean. Up. …this one I cannot stress enough. You come in, you party, you leave. Priceless, in my book.

Now. I decided to be stubborn, and not pay a huge sum of money for my guests, and this is what I had to do instead:

  • We had to rent a hall to get married.
  • We had to rent chairs for my guests to sit on at the ceremony.
  • I wasn’t fond of the idea of all of my wedding photos being taken at the plain halls, so we traveled to a different location for photos.
  • We rented a hall for the reception. They DID have their own tables and chairs, but they weren’t that nice. And we had to set them up, and take them down ourselves.
  • We bought all the food (yes, for 235 people), AND cooked it.
  • We had to transport the food to the hall.
  • We had to make sure we had enough crock pots and serving/warming trays to accommodate the food.
  • We had to serve the food.
  • We had to buy all of the plates, silverware, napkins, cups, etc.
  • We had to buy all of the beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). That’s a really fun guessing game.
  • We had to hire a bartender.
  • Everyone looked at each other when it came time to cut the cake … we had no one to do it for us.
  • AND we had to clean up immediately after the reception, instead of riding off into the sunset on our wedding night.

Do you see a common theme in the above list? “We had to rent” appears far too often. Somewhere in there, we were supposed to actually get married, too. So many extra vendors, so many extra tasks, so much extra scheduling … so much extra STRESS. For example, unnecessary stress came when my husband-to-be called me two hours before the ceremony was supposed to start, and the chair people hadn’t shown up. Really? My guests were going to sit on the floor? AWESOME.

My wedding did turn out beautifully, the chairs showed up, and no one sat on the floor. I am in no way saying that the way I did things is the wrong way to go. If you’re on a super tight budget, this is probably going to be the route you take. But once I added everything up, and factored in how much time it took not only myself and my husband, but all of the family members assigned to cooking, cleaning, and hauling …well …I’d have been better off with the all-inclusive venue. I don’t think that this is something most people take into consideration. Lots of small charges add up. Quickly.

Can you really put a price tag on peace of mind?

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Hey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit us on Facebook and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the lighter side, hit me up on Instagram, you can find me under AmandaBellaire.

If You’re Going to Choreograph …

To choreograph or not? That is the question when it comes to first dances.

Originally, this just referred to whether or not you would spend one night a week for a few months taking ballroom dancing lessons and putting together something with a lot of box steps, twirls, and a dip at the end. However, these days it can mean a lot more.

You’ve probably seen a few of the first dance videos that went viral on youtube, like the evolution of dance first dance or the “original” surprise first dance. However, I’ve got an all-time favorite.

Back in 6th grade I decided I WOULD do this at my wedding. I was certain. As the years went by and I evaluated my wedding plan checklist (Spring time, check; in a botanical garden, check; bridesmaids wear pink dresses, check; do the Dirty Dancing dance, check), I was in love with it all. It was only a matter of time before it all unfolded magically as I planned.

Then I met Jeremy. When he proposed, I couldn’t wait until spring to get married. I was happy to get married in the dead of winter. That eliminated two things on my sacred list right off the bat. Then there was the small detail that Jeremy was … well, he was not the type of guy to do that dance.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s not as if I asked him and he struck the idea down. I suppose if I told him it meant the world to me and I wanted nothing more for our wedding day, he would have grit his teeth and gone along with it, but that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to force him to do something so totally out of character, on this, of all days. I knew the man I was in love with, and I loved him for good reason. I knew that dance wasn’t on his to-do list, and therefore, we had a wedding that reflected us together, which is what it should be.

HOWEVER. If you think a fun dance to shock your guests reflects you as a couple, then DO IT! Please, please, do it! Then send me the link on youtube so I can watch it! I believe my role in life is now to convince other couples to just do it! Choreograph a fun dance! Make people laugh! Laugh with your new spouse! And, consider the Dirty Dancing dance, won’t you? It really is the best.

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on Twitter, and InstagramFeel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Tuesday throwback “Two ears and one mouth”

You know…sometimes it’s important to remember lessons learned from the past.  So today, for a bit of Tuesday-Throwback, I’m revisiting one we talked about last year.

Picture  When I was a kid I remember my Grandmother telling me, in no uncertain terms, that children were meant to be seen and not heard.  Really?  I’m not allowed to talk?  Seemed kind of rude at the time but now I wish I could go back and thank her.  Not only did I manage to stay out of trouble more often than I probably would have if left to my own devices, but I’ll never know how much I learned because I wasn’t busy talking and I was able to actually listen to the stories being told around me.  A few years down the road, I taught students that anybody could be reached emotionally because everybody had a need.  If you met that need, then an emotional connection would be made.  Some people need to hear how awesome they are, some to hear that you have what they want in a monetary sense, and in one humorous case, someone needed to hear how cool they were because they had recently purchased a rare type of racing pigeon.  Hey, to each their own.  What really mattered was recognizing the individual’s need so you could make a plan address that need.  Note that wasn’t “meet” their need, just start to address it.  People are surprisingly forgiving if they feel that their need is a legitimate priority for you.   There are literally hundreds of photographers in my area just jumping to tell my potential client how amazing they are and how tack sharp their latest photograph is.  Hey, I’m no different.  I usually chomping at the bit to release every image that I think is just technically awesome!  For example, look at the recent shoot with the one and only photog rock star, Huong Forest and the lovely Gianna and Manila in front of the lens.  I couldn’t stop jabbering about how incredible these ladies were and how I did this, that and the other thing during the shoot.  Well, to the potential client who is considering contacting me, is this really what she or he wants to hear?  Maybe, if they’re another photographer, but probably not.  They don’t know Gianna, they might not care what Manila’s story is and might not have anything in common with either of these ladies, but they absolutely do have needs of their own.  They may want me to sit and listen about their college years, how I’m going to deliver amazing wedding or portrait photos to THEM, or how they are completely cool for choosing to have their wedding at the local dairy.  Sure, I mean doesn’t everybody want to get married with cow manure in the background?  Well, after taking the time to listen and learning that her Grandfather, who recently passed away, owned a dairy when she was a little girl and those summer visits are her favorite childhood memories, yeah the dairy is a pretty stinking cool idea (no pun intended).  The problem is that if all I did was spend the entire consultation talking about how incredibly awesome I am (compared to the other hundreds of photographers she shouldn’t choose) and how I use that light and this filter, my overactive mouth wouldn’t allow me to actually listen and realize that what she needed was the affirmation of her decision on the dairy wedding.

  If you ever needed proof, I saw this in action at a recent wedding during which I was lucky enough to assist Jennifer Halen and Desiree Rohlfs.  Jennifer had spent so much time and built such a strong relationship with the couple that the photography team was an invited guest of the wedding instead of just another vendor.  It completely changed the dynamic of the photos for the better.  The product delivered to the customer was better because the photographer listened to the needs of the client…not just the bottom line.  Stay tuned for more on that wedding in future installments.  All I can say for now is…a-maze-ing!!

There’s an old saying…”We’re born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  If you’re speaking more than you’re listening, you may have figured out why nobody seems to be listening to you.

ImageHey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit me on Facebook or Twitter and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the light side , lets share our odd little worlds on “Instagram” at Sean_spphotography.

See you next time everybody :)Sean


Did someone say cake??

For the last few weeks, I’ve been been posting helpful tips for smoother wedding planning. From the dress to the flower consult to the invitations. Now, we’ve moved on to…
The Cake. (yes, I know I capitalized that. It’s CAKE.)
    Years ago, it didn’t seem like there were many choices when it came to wedding cakes. Everyone had pretty much the same thing – a 3-5 tier round cake. Sure, some people had columns between the layers, and some people didn’t. You could customize them in small ways to make them your own, but for the most part, all cakes were the same.Not these days.Almost as mindboggling as the invitations, the cake process can be quite overwhelming, too. So many options. I’m not going to try and steer you toward one route over another. I’m just going to lay out some of more popular options these days, and explain why couples go with them. Maybe it will help you make a decision, and maybe it won’t.Traditional cake – Still a pretty popular option, there are SO many ways to breathe life into what could otherwise be a run of the mill cake. See the one below. Sean shot this at a wedding last summer, and I just LOVE what the bride did to bring her theme and personality into it. Beats plain white, doesn’t it??

The Cupcake Cake – A reasonably priced alternative to a traditional cake, this is becoming more and more popular. Most bakeries charge less per cupcake than they do per slice of wedding cake, since they’re easier to mass-produce. Plus, there’s no cake-cutting fee imposed by the reception venue, since there’s nothing to cut. For photo ops, some couple choose to have a small cake at the top of their tiers of cupcakes, since tradition is ..well, tradition. Check out this one.
    The other alternative that I’ll go over with you tonight is something that most guests don’t even realize is HAPPENING….the “fake” cake. This is where the bride and groom decide that though they love the look of a traditional wedding cake, they just can’t afford, or don’t want to go to the expense of $3-5 per guest. (Yeah, it doesn’t sound like much when I put it like that, but if you have 200 guests, you’re spending upwards of $1000 on … cake.)What’s a “fake” cake, you ask? It’s a Styrofoam shape of a cake, typically frosted and decorated like a normal cake would be.  There’s usually a real layer on top, for the bride and groom to be able to cut into for photo ops. But where’s the rest of the cake? Simple! It’s all in the kitchen, made into sheet cakes. Sheet cakes made the exact same way as the wedding cake cost WAY less. There’s no extensive decorating, there’s no set-up …it’s ingenious, really. And as long as it’s done properly, you can’t even tell. See the one below.
Would you EVER have guessed that there WASN’T cake under that delicious buttercream? Yeah … me, neither.

PictureHey, don’t just stop here, let’s get social 🙂  Come visit us on Facebook and join in on the fun.  Or if you’re looking for something on the lighter side, hit me up on Instagram, you can find me under AmandaBellaire.

Breaking wedding traditions

From the desk of: Veronica
As someone who loved planning her wedding and would do it over a hundred times if my budget (and convention) allowed, I am always thinking and reading about weddings.The other day I was thinking about the balance between traditional and non-traditional and how fun it is to show up to a wedding and see where the couple falls on that continuum. For my own wedding, we kept with many traditions, but did a fair amount of things “our own way.”Some ways that brides and grooms buck tradition are particularly interesting to me, and I wonder if they might even become the new traditions! Here are a few of my favorite:
1. Bridesmaids. Most specifically, their attire. Traditionally, bridesmaids would wear the same dress, same shoes, same jewelry, and often the same hairdo. Now it’s trendy to have the same dress in different colors, different dresses in the same color, or even all different dresses! Shoes, jewelry, and hair need not match!
2. Headgear. A veil is not mandatory these days. Wear a headband, a fascinator, or nothing at all! Whatever you think looks good with your dress is the best way to go! Heck, you can even have different headgear for the ceremony and the reception.
3. Shoes. You’ve seen enough expensive white bridal shoes in your life to know that they all pretty much look the same, no one will see them if you wear a long dress, and you will never ever wear them again. These days, more and more brides are using their shoes to add a pop of fun and color to their attire, whether they show them off or keep them a fun secret.
4. Giving away the bride. Father of the bride not the person to walk to you down the aisle for whatever reason? Let the most significant person in your life walk you, whether it be your mother, brother, uncle, or son … if you even have anyone walk you down the aisle at all!
5. Seating. More and more receptions are including the much-pinned sign proclaiming guests should sit on either side of the aisle. It’s an interesting idea! If the wedding is about bringing two families together, then why separate them from the beginning?
What do you think? Love these changes? Hate them? Which do you think are here to stay and which are the flavor of the week? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment and take some time to peruse the website to see some of our lovely brides and grooms — some traditional, and some not! 
101713_1813_BookReviewI4.jpgYou can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on Twitter, and InstagramFeel free to stalk her. She encourages it.