Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet the Crew...

The second biggest draw (next to our award winning photography) our brides have toward booking their destination wedding at Honeysuckle Hills is the staff.  Every single one of us are dedicated to the part we play in making your wedding as beautiful as it can possibly be.  We all feel so blessed just to be able to do what we love every day that we develop a strong bond with all our brides.   YOU are the reason for the smiles on our faces every single day! 

Regina is the one you'll find behind the camera if you choose to book your wedding with our photography.  The family farm is owned by her mother, (aka the "Queen.")  Regina grew up with a camera in her hand and knows every nook and cranny of the Honeysuckle Hills wedding venue.  She also made sure the entire farm was landscaped specifically for the photography.  No matter what time of day, there's a place to create jaw-dropping wedding photographs.  Photography has been her full-time career for over thirteen years, and she continues to study and compete each year to make sure her brides receive the best.  This year she had her fifth image published in the PPA loan collection, along with another in the General Book collection.  Nothing is "part-time" to her when it comes to your wedding images... it's all or nothing.   

Leslie is Regina's property manager, photography intern, and equine assistant.  They grew up together, rode the school bus together, and are pretty much "peas and carrots" when it comes to pulling all the details together for your wedding.  Regina answers all the email, phone calls, and texts, then pulls it all together for your wedding itinerary.  Leslie takes over from there making sure everything you need is ready and waiting when you get here.  Sand ceremony, guest books, table arrangements, music... these two will make sure it's all the way you want it.

Occasionally Regina and Leslie have a photograph made with their brides...  As I mentioned earlier, we get pretty attached to all of you!

Uncle Bill (yes, he's really our uncle!) makes sure everything works when it's supposed to.  He's also been hired to hang lanterns, put out signs, and park cars for the larger destination weddings.  He's pretty much our most prized asset here... 

Let's not forget gardener Tommy!  Always with a smile on face.... this man manicures our lawn, plants flowers, mulches, and decorates.  Hours upon hours go into making Honeysuckle Hills the little paradise we share with all our brides and grooms.  He even hangs the pretty white lights you see in our reception hall, on the bridge and in the trees...

As you're browsing through the hundreds of destination wedding sites for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, keep this thought in mind.  We actually WANT to meet you, get to know you, and make your wedding or photography session the best it can possibly be.  You're not a number or a statistic here.  You're a bride with specific desires, even if at first you have no idea where to start.  If it's in our ability to make it happen for you, we WILL.  We deal with different themes, budgets, and wish lists all the time.

This is your official invitation to be part of the Honeysuckle Hills family!  Come on.... we're waiting for you!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Smoky Mountain weddings in full bloom!

Weddings with a vintage theme and rustic barn atmosphere are still in high demand...  This isn't surprising, given that an atmosphere such as this tends to slow down time.  It gives you the opportunity to enjoy your wedding.

We shared an excerpt from some upcoming wedding vows on our Facebook fan page earlier this week, but we'd also like to share them here.

"Your wedding day is one that seems to fly. It's a day filled with emotion, friends, rings and dances. Many people remember how fleeting their own wedding day was. So, I want you to take a few seconds to look into each other's eyes. Think about the happiness you're feeling in this place, in this moment. Really let that feeling register in your heart and your mind. Now, I want you to think about your life together in twenty years. Where are you? What are you doing? We all know that your visions of future are not identical, but always complimentary. John Lennon once said, "a dream you dream alone is only a dream; a dream you dream together, THAT is a reality." That new reality starts now."

To add to the back-in-time theme at Honeysuckle Hills, Leslie added an antique replica chandelier in the reception area of the barn.  Michelle and Will were the very first to be photographed beneath its romantic, glowing lights.

The Honeysuckle Hills flower gardens always slow our guests down... to "stop and smell the roses" so to speak.  After the outdoor wedding ceremonies, guests tend to meander around our farm taking in all the beauty.  No one ever gets bored.  No one ever wants to leave.

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smoky Mountain area in general is the perfect place for a destination wedding.  There are so many options from a party with all your family and friends to just a simple, intimate ceremony for the two of you.  We can help you decide what will work best.  It's important to us that your wedding is everything you dream it will be.

Here's hoping your summer is as beautiful as ours so far!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

"Just a Swingin"

Each year at Honeysuckle Hills, we try to add to our outdoor wedding venue to keep things fresh.  One of our favorite additions for this year is the swing in the sycamore tree.

If you think about country, a swing hanging from your favorite shade tree is certainly one of the first things to come to mind!  It's an all-American symbol of a free spirit.  It's a romantic gesture as a means for an excuse to get closer or interact with someone you care about.  It's a childhood memory with a smile attached!  

We've found that our high school seniors also love having their photograph made in the swing...  It's simply one of those props that will never go out of style. Our staff Master Photographer even enjoys watching other photographers use it...  This year we've opened up our venue to any photographer who wishes to pay the venue rental fee and establish themselves as a vendor with their business license and appropriate insurance.  Farm scenes are becoming more rare as days go by...  We are happy to share this beautiful environment we are so blessed with.  Our Master Photographer is also well pleased to provide you with a Honeysuckle Hills photography session herself...  Families and brides are still drawn from all across the U. S. for our style of wedding and family photography.  

The tree swing isn't the only new additional to the Honeysuckle Hills Barn wedding venue...  We also have a full-size swing complete with a heart and two doves!  Seated beneath our willow tree in the back gardens near the creek, it has been a close second favorite to the sycamore swing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Smoky Mountain spring weddings are coming!

Spring is on its way in the Smoky Mountains!  We've already seen a few trilliums poking out their heads on our morning walks, as well as some healthy green leaves for the purple geraniums in our wildflower preserve.  Pretty soon the yellow field flowers will be in abundance, making the perfect setting for outdoor bridal portraits.
If you're considering a last minute elopement in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, there are still a few openings for spring weddings at Honeysuckle Hills.  Wedding chapels are almost as plentiful as the spring wildflowers around here, but if you're looking for something a little more off the beaten path, we're your destination wedding dream-come-true.
Remember, we welcome all of our brides whether their guest list reaches 100 or if it's just a private elopement for the two of you.  Our Master Photographer can tell your wedding story (and who knows... maybe even enter one of your images in the next professional print salon!) or you can simply rent our venue and bring your own wedding photographer.  The choice is yours.
Wedding receptions are no problem!  We've got that covered, too, with plenty of seating, tables, and table cloths.  Regina's assistant hand-made burlap table runners this year complete with white lace.  She also added several mason jars wrapped with twine and lace... with romantic tea lights to set the mood for a country barn wedding.  
Want a unique spring bridal photograph?  Trash the dress is still in style... so find a dress on e-bay, or use your own wedding gown.  We'll set the stage for a portrait that will be a conversation piece for years to come!  
Spring is in the air at Honeysuckle Hills!  Come join us...  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our Promise...

When I was a senior in high school, having your portrait made by Larry Miller in Sevierville, Tennessee was a mark of prestige.  Not necessarily because he was expensive, but because he knew how to pose and light images so that you looked your absolute best.  There was no mistaking a "Larry Miller" image.  After all, he wasn't inducted into the Tennessee Professional Photographer's Hall of Fame for nothing.  

I missed out on my own "Larry Miller" session back then (instead seething with jealousy over my younger sister's senior portfolio by his studio.)  But... his style and ability was the bench mark of what I deemed the requirements to be called a professional photographer.  Every time one of my friends said, "you should be a photographer," I would look at my work compared to his and say, "no, I just don't have what it takes.  I could never compete with his work."  

Eventually, the opportunity presented itself so that I could learn in a professional photography setting.  I craved the words of the eldest and most experienced photographers I could find.  I pushed myself continuously... Once you make the leap from amateur to professional, your friends' compliments mean absolutely  Less than zero, actually!  One Certified Professional Photography exam down and several agonizing years of Print Salons later, I finally grasped the title of "Master Photographer" through Professional Photographers of America.  Only then did I feel worthy of being in the same room with Larry Miller.  Better?  No... but I humbly felt that I could now call myself a professional photographer, just as he did.

Larry Miller has since retired, and the world of photography has changed by leaps and bounds.  For one, Larry shot film for well over 75% of his career.  Technology has now over-saturated the market with photographers by the ease of obtaining DSLR cameras in today's digital revolution.  Thus, the bench mark of what constitutes a professional photographer has unfortunately declined. 

Our standards, however, have not changed.  That is our promise to you.

We still believe nothing replaces quality.  We still believe in delivering images to our clients that stand out above and beyond what the general public presents at large. 

Our clients are the ones who know and demand this difference.  We are thankful every day for those who still believe in investing in things that last instead of settling for a cheaper substitute that will only leave them with the same regret I still carry over missing my chance of having my own "Larry Miller" portrait on my mother's wall.  

Thank you...  We promise to continue pushing ourselves and learning more ways every single day to preserve your legacy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Much like a photograph is worth a thousand words, so is a look.
While photographing our weddings, we like to capture as much feeling as possible, and in Ciara and Craig's case, this wasn't difficult at all!  

Craig is an MMA fighter, and Ciara was simply drop-dead gorgeous in our eyes.  If you ask me, I think either one of them could model for the cover of countless romance novels.

Writing love notes on the mirror of our antique wedding chapel mirror is becoming a big hit these days.  Ciara wrote, "I love you forever plus a day," because that was what was in the card Craig gave her when they became engaged.  Priceless wedding memory...
No outdoor Smoky Mountain wedding is complete without all the family, namely beautiful sisters!  Ciara's wedding was on a rare 55 degree February day, so everyone had plenty to smile about.  After all, I dare say the Honeysuckle Hills groundhog did NOT see his shadow this year!  Bring on the spring!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Honeysuckle Difference

Meet Megan...
Now, it's pretty difficult to take a bad picture of Megan.  I mean really...  She's young with gorgeous flowing hair, a nice curvy body... so how could one go wrong?  Oh, if only we all were blessed with Megan's features! (Want to see more of beautiful Megan?  Keep reading.. I promise it's worth it!)
OK... We are NOT all built the same.  Photographers are not all the same, either.
Technology has saturated today's market with literally thousands of photographers.  The general public is so inundated with photographs via social media that they have temporarily forgotten what constitutes a quality image.   Quality today is subject to the comments generated by impulsive emotional attachments to “friends.”   For instance, ten years ago any client of mine would have raised the roof about sun flares and washed out images. They simply would refuse to pay for inferior work… now it's a sought after trend.
I must admit, it is disheartening to the die-hard, old-school photographers (like me) who've spent years studying with the Masters and having their hearts ripped to shreds in print competitions (even though it made us ten times better,) to see all these "newbies' crop up left and right.  It seems all it takes these days to be a photographer is a camera and a Facebook page.  Price seems to be the deciding factor over all.  But after much thought, I've realized the photography industry has been hit just like many other industries before it.  Cars were once made of metal, and I used to hand-write my Dad's invoices. 

Photography is easy to love.  I can honestly see why so many people dove head-first into the profession, especially those seeking a means of making money in today's failing economy.  I can also see how tempting it is to a bride who wants to save money when her best friend offers to photograph her wedding for free.  Problem is, photography is so much more than clicking a button.  (Free has dire consquences sometimes...)

Down to the nitty gritty...  Here's Megan again, in a trendy black-and-white filter. 

All the photographs of Megan in this post were taken with a Nikon D-7000, one of the most popular consumer level cameras on the market today.  The first two you've viewed so far have been with the camera in program mode using on-camera flash.

Now, many photographers these days will tell you they prefer "natural light."  So, here's an example of Megan photographed in program mode without the use of any "unnatural" interference. 

Note there are unflattering shadows on Megan's pretty face.  However, this image actually has one step of improvement, because the photographer backed up and zoomed in, instead of using a wide-angle, in-your-face move.  Take a look at the difference in the shape of Megan's face in this image vs. the one above in black and white.
And now...  The use of a little carefully placed professional lighting.  The photographer also used the shape and textures of the grasses behind Megan as leading lines to her gorgeous face. 

Professionals also have a creative story inside that simply MUST come out...  In the good old days, photographers had to compete with other professional photographers' style and level of creativity.   Now view an image of Megan that shows her inner-most, mischievous side... (And while you're at it, scroll to the top and see if you still like her original image quite as much as you first did...)

Let's look at another example.  The photograph below  was taken with the Nikon D-7000 in program mode once again, and Megan was asked to "pose herself."  A vignette was later added in Photoshop.

Now, let's delve into the mind and techniques of the Honeysuckle Hills Photographer...

Notice that we prefer the gradual fall-off of vignettes so there is no harsh distiction.  And if you haven't already noticed by now, our images are color calibrated for rich, pure skin tones.  (And we didn't have to "fix it" later in the computer, either.)

Let's go even further...  Everyone loves Pinterest these days, including us!  One of the most fun things to do is write your names, wedding date, or special note on a blackboard, mirror, or other prop.  While these things shouldn't take up 100% of your story, they certainly do add flavor and smiles. 

The image below was taken in program mode, photographer standing directly above.

Ahh... you just gotta love the "heart" shaped fingers, too!  If you viewed this photograph alone, you'd be overwhelmed with the cuteness and fun-loving nature of it. But Megan is a bold, powerful woman.  While she thought this photo was cute, too, she absolutely loved the next image (and so did her fiance!)  How many times have you chosen fad and followed the crowd without doing more research on what's possible?

Notice the three dimensional lighting on Megan's face.  Some photographers will tell you that "shadows are bad."  Well, yes, and no.  If the shadows cause black circles under your eyes... yes, they are bad!  But if they mold and shape a delicate face, making the image "snap" into existence... they are gooooood....  I would like to also mention here that if a photographer can't make you understand that Megan "loves the outdoors" by her clothing, pose, and choice of background, a sign just ain't gonna make you understand it any better...

So... what will your choice be?  Sure, it may cost just a little more today, but just imagine the long term benefits of choosing the right photographer the first time.  There are so many things not even mentioned in this article such as group posing (so some of your family doesn't appear as giants in the foreground,) depth of field (so you'll still love that photo in both a 4x6 and a 16x20,) and exposure (so you can see all those layers of lace in your wedding gown instead of a white blob.)  Honestly, it's difficult to cram in years of learning in one small article, (not to mention I'm STILL learning even after ten years of being a professional!)

The one thing that is still true today despite technology...
 You get what you pay for.