Personal

On a personal note, six months later...

It has been quite a while since I posted anything other than photos of my gorgeous couples that I have been fortunate enough to work with this season. And what a season it has been! Beyond the business side of things (which I'll talk about later after my season has officially wrapped up), it has also been my first wedding season as mom. It has been filled with so many amazing moments and a few challenges as well as I got accustomed to having Bri dependent on me. So many of you have asked about her and I thought it was about time that I shared another photo of her. It is hard to believe, but she just turned 6 months old last weekend. YIKES! Time has flown by so fast.

Brianna at 6 Months

Thank you to everyone for your well wishes and for your support this year as I balanced life as a mom, wife, and photographer. It has been one heck of a good time!

xoxo,

Happy 5th Anniversary to.... Me! (And my hubby, too.)

[caption id="attachment_671" align="aligncenter" width="267" caption="Thank you to Meg of Rodeo & Co. for capturing my own wedding for me!"][/caption]

If you had asked me five years ago if someday I would join the wedding "industry", I likely would have told you it would be fun, but likely not. Five years ago yesterday, I was the one walking down the aisle to marry the *cue sappy music* man of my dreams. We were both recent college graduates and I had been teaching classic black & white darkroom photography for over a year. I loved photography, but my subjects were flowers and mountains. Things that didn't move. But, like many of my brides have said, when the wedding planning is over, you are stuck asking "Now what?" Fortunately, one thing led to another (read my story here if you haven't already) and here I am.

Now, why am I bringing all this up when the title to this post is what it is?

Simply because if it weren't for my insanely supportive husband, my life would not be a fraction as amazing as it is today. He has stood by me during our first couple years of marriage when I was a crazy, out of my mind new teacher. Then, when I was just starting up Suzanne Simmons Photography, he had the most amazing faith in me and encouraged me to keep pushing myself (and told me to buy an even better camera than I had planned to since he knew I had the skills). He listened to me when I was going crazy trying to complete my Master's degree, in less than two years, while shooting over twenty weddings a year and teaching full time. He has been my rock. I think I would be in the nut house by now if it weren't for him.

For those that know us and how crazy we tend to be, it would likely not surprise you that we celebrated our five year anniversary yesterday at 12:05AM. Next to us was our sleeping baby girl, who is almost three months old. On the other side was our first "baby", Digby, who we adopted four years ago this month. We were both exhausted. I likely still had bits of baby spit up in my hair (gross, I know). And yet it could not have been a more perfect way for us to celebrate how far we have come together. We reminisced about what it was like for us five years ago. The nerves, the tears, the laughter, the smiles.... it feels like yesterday.

We spent the day away from each other. Alan had to work and I was off to Danielle & Joe's incredible wedding (YAY anniversary buddies!!). Remembering how far we've come together in just the first five years, I'm excited to see what we are blessed with as we approach the next big anniversary. I dare say it has a tough fight to beat this first five which was filled with the wedding, building our house, adopting our first "baby", earning degrees, starting our careers.... it has absolutely flown by. But I dare say, with watching Bri for just the first three months, it is going to be filled with tons more milestones for us all.

Happy 5th anniversary, Alan! My love for you grows by the second. Thank you for being my rock and voice of reason. xoxo, Wifey

[caption id="attachment_670" align="aligncenter" width="266" caption="Alan's gift to me was this ring with an emerald, which is Bri's birth stone."][/caption]

Introducing Brianna Gweneth

Last month, I formally announced that my husband and I were expecting our first baby sometime around the end of April or early May. Well, the official due date came (and went) as our sweet baby decided that it was much too comfortable right where it was. We finally welcomed Brianna Gweneth to the world on Thursday, May 10th. She was born with a full head of hair and her eyes wide open. We are home and getting settled in as a family of four. Big "brother" Digby is slowly getting used to this squirming, crying thing that has suddenly taken over our lives. And Brianna is getting used to having a camera pointed at her more often than most babes.


As a reminder, I will be on maternity leave for this month as I get accustomed to life with Ms. Brianna. I will be taking a selective number of portrait session bookings for next month, but am fully booked for weddings for all of 2012. Consultations for 2013 weddings during this time are limited as well although next year is filling up fast, so please contact me as soon as possible to ensure I'm available.


Thank you to everyone who has sent us their well wishes and for your patience as we settle in. It has certainly been a whirlwind around here lately, but we are so tickled pink to have Brianna home with us at last.


And congratulations to all of my couples who have also become new parents recently (or will be doing so in the next couple months)! There are so many of you that I am hearing about. I am so excited for you all!


xoxo,


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?

xoxo,

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!


xoxo,


Feeling like spring

For those of us who live in Maine, or northern New England in general, the past two days have been a tease of Spring from Mother Nature. Today's temperatures were rumored to be up in to the 60s. Teenagers were running around in shorts and flip flops. Any snow that was clinging to shingles was melting before our very eyes and pouring off of roofs. With this being the last Thursday before we "Spring forward" on Sunday, many are praying that the warmth is here to stay. To take advantage the sunshine while we had it, my furry "son" and I lounged on the back deck of our home today. Yay for vitamin D! While we were relaxing, I also broke out my camera to snap some shots of him since he made a trip to the groomer yesterday and is looking very dapper, if I do say so myself.





 

I hope that you got a chance to enjoy the sunshine and warmth today! As much as I love winter, I'd prefer to either have enough snow to enjoy it or no snow at all. Given that this winter has felt a bit lack luster in the snow department, I am ready for Spring!



A Belated Goodbye to my Sister

It has been a couple weeks, but I still felt that it was appropriate to give my baby sister a proper "blog" send off. Being three years apart in age, we've always been tied together through thick and thin. We went to boarding school together and then eventually followed each other through our Bachelor's degrees at the same University. We even lived in the same town for a while, her in her apartment and me with my husband in our house a few miles away. Saying we are close is an understatement. My husband never had to worry about my father when we were dating. He had to worry about my sister.

So you can only imagine my reaction when her plan for after graduating from graduate school became to go to a far away land for at least a year to teach English. Heartbreak would be putting it lightly. But she went at the end of July. Before leaving on a jet plane, our mother had just one last request for some family photos. My mother does not ask for anything. Ever. So, with my tripod in hand and a well trained assistant (my husband), we snapped a portraits at my childhood home. This is a tiny look at what came from the session.

To my sister: I miss you more than I could ever begin to tell you. The next eleven months, fifteen days, four hours.... could not go by fast enough. I can't wait until you come home again.

Happy Spring!

I dare say that we can officially welcome Spring of 2011. Here in Maine the buds are popping, the lilies in my flower beds are starting to reach for the sun, and my husband's allergies are driving him crazy. Ahh.... spring! It is such a great time of year. Time to air out the house from being sealed up all year and time to plan the outdoors projects. For photographers in Maine, it is time to get ready for the up coming wedding season (it takes a hardy bride to tie the knot in Maine in the winter).

For me, Spring time is always a chance to wipe the slate clean and to start off with a fresh plan, both personally and professionally. As many of you know, I have been teaching digital photography at a local community college for this academic year. It has been an incredible journey and an amazing addition to the teaching I already do at the public high school level. I have loved nurturing my students' love of photography and teaching them how to better their skills. Although cliché, I truly feel that I have learned as much from them as they have from me this year. It has been quite a trip! Tonight I wrapped up teaching my last class for the college. But, before hanging up my professor title for the time being, my classes headed outside to a local park to capture the new flora and fauna as well as the roaring river. Here are my favorite shots that I captured during our trip out.

The photo on the left (below) is actually a pin hole photo that I took using an adapter on my digital camera. If it looks "fuzzy" to you, you aren't the only one. It so much fun combining one of the oldest photography tools with one of the latest and greatest.

Thank you to all of my students who made my year as a professor such a blast. I am sad to see it come to a close, but I'm looking forward to focusing on my own shooting more now. Keep in touch and never stop shooting!

The countdown is officially on. Less than two weeks until the wedding season officially kicks off for me. I am so excited for it to start! I'll be shooting in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and venues that range from lake side ceremonies to a "castle" on a hill before 2011 wraps up. It's going to be an awesome year!

New Year. New Changes.

Another snow storm is currently sweeping through Maine as we speak. The flakes coming down are big and fluffy. It looks like a winter wonder land outside my office window right now. I have my camera batteries charging in preparation for my first wedding of 2011, which is happening tomorrow in Ogunquit. It should prove to be a GORGEOUS, albeit chilly, day to tie the knot.Along with the increased pile of snow outside, there are a couple other changes that I wanted you all to be aware of. Although they should all (hopefully) be relatively unnoticeable to you, I feel it's only polite for me to share them with you just in case any issues arise. So, drum roll please....


SuzanneSimmonsPhotography.com is now officially


SuzanneSimmons.com!


You can get to the site no matter which address you type in, but save yourself the characters and use the short one instead. You might remember my acquisition of the new address this past fall and the change has now been completed.


Along with that change, comes subtle adjustments to other places that you can find me online.


The address for this blog is now: http://blog.suzannesimmons.com


Last fall I unveiled a new feature on my site, which I lovingly call my client portal. The portal can now be found at http://client.suzannesimmons.com in addition to through the link on my main site. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the portal, I decided to offer it as a way to reduce the use of paper within my business in order to become more environmentally friendly. To access your portal, please visit the client portal login page and click on forgot your password. It will send you a password and help you to set it to one of your choosing. (If your email address is not recognized, please double check it is the one that you have provided to me. If it still does not work, please contact me to ensure that I have enabled the portal for you.) Once you have logged in, you will be able to update your contact information, check your balance, view (and sign) contracts, as well as make your initial retainer payment. I'm going to be adding all kinds of new features so you can keep me up to date with your plans and so you can find all of your information in one convenient location. It's just one more thing that I'm trying to do to make your planning process be as stress free as possible.


Along the same lines, I have also added another email address () that I will be using in addition to the one that you currently have on file for me. You can use either one to get a hold of me, so just do whatever is most convenient for you. In the end, it is simply to try and reduce the amount of characters you need to type just to get a hold of me. Remember. My mantra is less stress. Sometimes that means getting a hold of me even quicker than you could before.


That wraps up this update from the snowy, froze corner of Maine that I call home. Stay warm and dry, everyone. It's going to be a chilly weekend!











Where I spend the majority of my time: Office at Home

P.S. Other changes are in the works for the site in between album designing. But I promise those changes won't change where you find me!

First Storm of 2011


 

Well, 2011 is officially under way. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, the sleep deprivation from all of the celebration is starting to go away, and resolutions have been set (even by those of you whose resolution is to simply not have one). Mother Nature has been relatively unenthusiastic so far this year until today. Beyond being a photographer, my first passion is teaching and that is where I grew my roots in photography. I am committed to have both my teaching career and my business because I feel they both feed off of each other. Teaching forces me to keep learning and challenging myself so that I can better teach my students. At the same time, my business means that I am actually teaching what I am doing. I am not one of those people that tells you what the book says because it must be right. I try to keep it real. So, it goes without saying that the teacher side of me woke up this morning anxious to see what Mother Nature had finally decided to bless us with last night and, at the same time, how fast I would need to clean off my driveway to make it to work.

It is downright nasty outside today. School is closed. I can't see my driveway to even know where to shovel and snow blow. The snow outside my office windows is blowing up because it is so windy. Although I know I will have to venture outside to dig out this afternoon, I wanted to put it off a bit by sharing what my world looks like today. It looks downright picturesque when I ignore how cold it looks.

How are you spending your day?

Letter Photos


Suzanne, originally uploaded by Suzanne D. Simmons.

This past weekend, after meeting with Tarryn & Sean, I spent the gorgeous day in the Old Port of Portland, Maine. In my "day job" as a high school photography teacher, I assigned my photography students the term length project of taking photos of every letter of the alphabet. So, instead of just preaching it, I spent the day doing it, too! So, here is a snap shot of what I captured. We have been absolutely blessed with gorgeous weather this spring. I hope all of you have been able to go out and enjoy it!