What month did/will you get married in?

It likely comes as no surprise to those of you who know me well, but I really like data for some reason. I have never been a math wiz and I struggled, to say the least, with computer science during my undergraduate degree, but there is something about thinking my way through formulas and reports to get the information I'm looking for that is just plain old fun! Yes, I am a bit of a nerd.

I actually have a spreadsheet that I have to keep track of every wedding I've ever photographed. Names (obviously), date, ceremony location, reception location, and even the number of shots I took versus what I kept and how many gigabytes the folder of their final images was. Yes, nerd, I know. But it does come in handy! As I anxiously await the start of my 2015 wedding season next month (YAY!), I was wondering what month was my most popular month for weddings since I started back in 2008.

Low and behold, a few quick key stokes gave me the answer! Based on my past and future wedding couples, August has proven to be the most popular month for couples to book me. I always thought that September or October would be at the top. As an August bride myself, I certainly understand its appeal though with the potential for cooler temperatures than July (especially later in August), the advantage of not juggling it around school schedules... the list goes on. Good choice, my dear couples!

I also found it interesting that I have yet to photograph a wedding in February or March! So, if you know someone getting married in either of those months in 2016, please send them my way and I'll work out a deal for them. I love winter weddings and it would be fun to have those months actually rank on my nice little graph.

What month did/will you get married in? What influenced your decision to pick it?

I Remember: My Five Year Anniversary

I'm going to take a moment to get a bit more personal around here.

Today sneaked right up on me. Today marks 5 years since I shot my very first wedding (Happy anniversary, Meghan & Henrik!). Even then, if you had asked me if I would be doing this in 5 years, I likely would have looked at you like you had ten heads. No way. The stress was crazy. It's a ton of responsibility! But I fell head over heals in love with wedding photography. Capturing love. I am still insanely grateful for Meghan and her push to get me to shoot her wedding. Being coworkers at my day job, I still see her all the time. It makes me heart happy to know she trusted me way back in the day.

My First Wedding on August 8th, 2008

Fast forward five years...

and I'm about to shoot my 80th couple getting married this weekend. Eight. Zero. Holy. Smokes.

I cannot wrap my brain around how luck I am.

Some people look at that number and think 80! Wow! And yet I think about all of the memories that I've captured over the years. Every so often I run in to one of my past couples or they send me an email. "Hey, we got married back in 2009! We're the ones that..." and they tell me something about their day that they see as an identifier. The couple with the Mack truck. The couple who got married in the hurricane. The list goes on.

But they really don't need to do that. Because, even after all these years, I remember....

  • Where your parents live because that's where I met you both the first time. And your parent's dog, who was the size of a horse, sniffed the top of my head while we were talking about your day. I can't drive by it without thinking of you even though you just celebrated your second anniversary.
  • When you jumped up in the air on the beach during our post reception portrait time and you ripped your pants right down the front. Thank goodness there wasn't a bigger audience for that wardrobe malfunction.
  • When we were doing portraits outside, in the winter, and I had my sister rush to cover your with my down jacket in between every shot to keep you from freezing. And I remember how gorgeous you looked despite the freezing January air.
  • How excited your husband was to find that aforementioned Mack truck in the middle of the grown up field next to your reception venue. And how absolutely happy I was with the way the light was hitting you both as the sun set.
  • When I asked you two to stand on a rock jetting out towards the ocean with the most gorgeous blue sky behind you. I snapped one of my favorite photos ever. And you hustled back to the "main land" as soon as I said ok and only then told me you were afraid of heights. You, my darlin', are a trooper.
  • You asking me to make the decision if your ceremony should be held inside or outside despite the chance of showers. I said outside. And a triple rainbow broke out as you were saying your vows. I don't think my smile could have been any bigger.
  • As the weather report came in during the week leading up to the wedding, you called me in a panic wanting to delay your outdoor wedding knowing there was no way it wouldn't rain. Even after the delayed date, it still rained. And yet it was the most perfect day complete with fun umbrellas and your baby girl jumping in the puddles in her flower girl dress.
  • You picked a gorgeous, ocean side venue for the ceremony and reception. Your vision was amazing. And then a hurricane had to come through. We couldn't even see the ocean. And yet you both were completely game for portraits outside. The three of us loaded in to a super long golf cart. I felt like a kid in the back of a minivan as we bombed all over the golf course. You came up with the idea to capture the cart racing through a huge puddle. Almost four years later, still makes me giggle at the thought.
  • When I showed up at your suite to capture you getting ready with your ladies and it was like an episode of small world syndrome. We already knew you had gone to school with my husband, but we didn't realize that I would know both of your ladies from being in the bridal party for two different weddings that I had photographed. It was crazy (and so much fun)! I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing you again as one of those ladies ties the knot next year.
  • The roar of your absolutely massive John Deer tractor as you arrived at your reception. I think enough said on that one! xoxo
  • Your two little pups running around the tent set up in your parent's backyard with their huge, floppy ears dancing in the wind before the festivities really kicked off. And talking to you about everything photography: you never wanting to shoot a wedding and me being in awe of your amazing nature and wildlife photography.
  • The little jars of honey that you had for favors. So very adorable!
  • The fireworks and sparklers that you had back when fireworks were still illegal for residents to fire off in all of Maine. I felt like a rebel. And your guests found your Dad's sombrero out in the garage somehow and it because of the center of attention as it moved from head to head around the dance floor. I hope it survived the night!
  • How excited you were to wear such a dapper tuxedo with your awesome boots to marry your gorgeous wife on the beach in New Hampshire.

And I could go on and on. I feel like I have a database of memories in my head of everything little thing from the past five years. And I absolutely love thinking back on all of those memories; thinking about where some of my couples, especially the early ones, are now. It has been such an amazing journey!

I have always said that I do this, Suzanne Simmons Photography, because I absolutely, 100% love it. And I still do all these years later. When that stops being the case, then I'll pursue other avenues. But, as cheesy as this sounds, I love this little "job" of mine more today than I did on the first day. I have grown so much as a person thanks to all of you. I am still shocked that I can call this a job because it is just so awesome to be there for it all. You are all on my mind all the time.

So, on that note, thank you. Everyone. For being there for me over the past five years. For trusting me to capture your memories for you when all I had to prove to you that I could do it was a gorgeous couple at the end of a dock on Sebago Lake. For having faith in me to do it. For referring all of your friends to me! Seriously, that is the biggest form of flattery there is and you all have done it with such skill. I even have to give a shout out to my favorite "you got married before I was in the business" couples who has likely referred more of their friends to me over the years than just about anyone. I am honored to be able to call you my friends and I really wish you would find some younger friends that still have to get married because I think you've run out of single friends. I'm sad.

Anyways, to all of you, the past five years have been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having my back and watching me grow. I've come a long way since Meghan & Henrik's wedding and it's been fun to be on this journey with you all.

Happy Earth Day 2012!

Happy Earth Day 2012, everyone! In the spirit of the day, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few of the steps that I've taken to help diminish the impact that Suzanne Simmons Photography has on the environment.

I feel that the biggest change that I have made within my business is to limit the amount of paper products that I use and, when I do need to use them, I make the choice to use products made from recycled sources. The biggest reduction in my paper product reliance came when I began to use my "client portal" on my website. Through this portal, clients are able to sign contracts electronically, check account balances, obtain receipts for payments, and keep me up to date on their plans. Prior to implementing the portal, I would accomplish all of these tasks through traditional mail which not only meant that I had to use paper (and stamps), but also meant that it was less convenient for my clients since they would need to wait for the mail to reach them. Therefore, not only has the portal helped to reduce my paper use, it has also made the planning process that much smoother and stress free for my clients. It's a win/win!

Client Portal Login

Looking beyond my "client portal", I proudly extend my support for the environment to the packaging that I have chosen to use to send my clients their much anticipated photographs. I provide my clients with their photographs on a disc labeled with Lightscribe technology instead of the traditional printed disc. I made this decision for several reason. First off, Lightscribe technology enables me to "print" the image on to the disc without the use of traditional ink cartridges, which eventually wind up in the environment. Instead, I use a special drive in my computer to burn the image in to the front of the disc before flipping the disc over and using the same burner to write the data to the disc.

Once the discs are ready to go, I then package them using very eco-friendly products. Back in the day, I would mail the discs to my clients in thin, plastic cases but they were prone to breaking while in the mail and they aren't recyclable. Bummer! Enter the ReSleeve from the fine folks at ReBinder, which "is made from 100% Recycled, FSC™* Certified Chipboard (85% Post-Consumer Recycled / 15% Post-Industrial Recycled)". The cases also won't break and are completely recyclable. The finishing touch for the cases is the band of chocolate brown Sinamay natural organza mesh ribbon from Nashville Wraps, which is hand made from 100% natural fibers. What is even cooler? The ribbon is made by fair trade artisans in remote villages around the world through an amazing foundation called Distant Village Packaging. So, not only is it eco-friendly, the ribbon is also helping to employ people with good paying jobs. YAY!

And, finally, the discs are mailed to my clients in plastic-free, cushioned mailers from CareMail which are made with 95% recycled content and 55% post-consumer waste. Sure, it isn't glamorous, but I know where the packaging is going to eventually be going and I like knowing that it is recyclable and will break down in the environment much faster than most other options out there.

Last, but certainly not least, the business cards that I use are made with ecofriendly, 100% recycled, Green Paper through the amazing company, Moo. To say that I love Moo would be such an understatement! If you haven't tried their printed goodies before, I highly recommend that you check them out. I love the feel of my green paper business cards and feel even better when handing them out knowing that only recycled content was used to make them. Sweet!

There are a plethora of other things that we do in my house, which is where my office is located, to make our impact on the environment as small as we can. We compost, recycle more than we throw out, ensure that "vampire electronics" are unplugged, use CFL or LED light bulbs in almost every light fixture, and donate our unwanted goods to Goodwill whenever possible (instead of simply throwing them out). Although I drive a larger vehicle, I *gasp* drive without air conditioning as much as humanly possible because I know it improves my gas mileage A LOT when I do so. And, with the baby on the way, we are also going to be using cloth diapers to help minimize the amount of waste our little bundle of joy creates.

I am sure that I am overlooking a lot that we do on a daily basis, but hopefully this post gives you some insight in to what I do to make my business more eco-friendly and also some ideas for what you can do to minimize your own impact on the environment.

What do you do in your own house to help reduce your impact?


New Photography Assistant!

Well, I might be about 14ish years early making that announcement, but...

I am very excited to finally share with all of you that my husband, Alan, and I are due with our first baby at the end of this month! Digby, who will always be our first "baby", can tell that something is about to change and he can't wait to shower our newest addition with lots of kisses. And I just can't wait to photograph the lil' babe! I am technically in to the "any day now" stage of pregnancy at this point, so now we just wait and see. We have decided not to determine if it is a boy or a girl ahead of time and are anxious to find out!

In terms of what this means for Suzanne Simmons Photography, I will be on maternity leave for the month of May while we all get adjusted to our new lifestyle. During this time it may take me a bit longer to reply to emails and return phone calls, but I will certainly still be checking in as the baby allows me to. I will resume shooting portrait sessions in June with limited availability, so make sure you schedule your portrait sessions with me as soon as possible. In terms of weddings, I am officially fully booked for all of 2012 and have started to book for 2013. When Alan and I decided to start a family, we determined that it would be best for us if I became more exclusive and limited the number of weddings that I would book, especially during our baby's first year. Therefore, you will likely notice that I will have fewer wedding-related blog posts and sneak peeks this summer. Last summer I celebrated shooting my 60th wedding, which still blows my mind! I am so incredibly honored to have been a part of so many couple's nuptials and can't wait to capture many, many more.

Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of my couples who I have worked with, especially over the past nine months. The time has certainly flown by and your support has been incredible. And a super thank you to Melissa & Rocco who gave me (and my husband) the honor of photographing their wedding last weekend (at 37 weeks pregnant!). You two are rock stars!


The New & Improved Suzanne Simmons Photography

It has been in the works for a while now, but I am very excited and proud to unveil the new & improved Suzanne Simmons Photography!

Suzanne Simmons Photography

When I started Suzanne Simmons Photography in 2008, I designed my own logo and created my website from the ground up. However, as the years have gone by, I longed for a new identity for my lil' business that would better represent me and my photography. In 2011, I celebrated shooting my 50th wedding and decided that making my dream of a new identity a reality would be the perfect way to celebrate. So here I am!

For those of you that are long time fans, you can already see that a lot has changed around my online "home". Not only has my logo received a HUGE facelift, but I redesigned the entire site to be more compact and easier to navigate. But, one big thing has not changed. If you have ever been a client, you can still find all of your photos, as well as order prints and other goodies, no matter how long ago we last got together! Just look for the link under Clients in the menu and you will be able to select your name from the list. As always, you will need a password in order to access your galleries.

I am very excited about this new chapter for Suzanne Simmons Photography and I hope that you love the change as much as I do. Thank you to all of my clients who have helped to make the past three years so incredible. I am incredibly honored to have worked with all of you. And I can't wait to work with all of my 2012 couples! It is going to be such an amazing year!

Stay tuned for lots more news coming soon!