Valentine's Wedding at the Rustic Lodge, Indiana PA
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Besides their love for their Sphynx cats Luka and Loki, Kenny and Christi are completely in love with their best friends - each other. These two knew each other all the way back in elementary school when Christi actually hated Kenny! Luckily, she decided that her opinions at 7 years old my not have been correct, and gave him another shot! I loved getting to know these two over coffee a few months ago, and quickly realized that if you ask Kenny about his cats and he lights up - but not quite as much as he did all. day. long. at his wedding. There’s not a single photo he’s not smiling in - be it that he felt super shy and awkward, or my favorite explanation, that he was totally in love with his bride and having the best day ever!

There were so many sentimental touches at this wedding, and a lot of really sweet tributes to Christi’s late father and brother. Her bridesmaids showered her with touching gifts such a shoe charms with these men’s initials and birthstones so they could “walk her down the aisle”, a beautiful bracelet featuring a portrait of her brother, cameos of her brother and father on her bouquet, and her brothers watch, which she presented to Kenny as a gift for the morning of the wedding! (I had strict instructions that the only stipulation with the “watch shot” was that Kenny take off his Livestrong bracelet for the photo, and I didn’t even have to ask him! Already learning that a happy wife = a happy life!).

The rose and burgundy touches and chocolate kisses favors at the tables gave this sweet wedding a Valentine’s vibe without being over the top. White fitted chair covers rented from White Lace totally transformed the Rustic Lodge. I had my wedding there too almost 7 years ago and was shocked at the change these seat covers made! I also had serious envy of her blush pink Moraliee by Madeline Gardner gown and totally would have picked the exact same one if I could get married all over again!! Christi also did her own stunning wedding makeup and hair and it was absolutely perfect! She shared with me that she honed her skills watching YouTube videos and practicing on her mom!

I hope you enjoy all of my favorite highlights from this sweet day!

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How Many People Should You Have In Your Bridal Party?
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

One of the first decisions you will make as an engaged couple besides your date and venue will be who’s in your bridal party! It can be hard to narrow down the list, especially if you have lifelong friends from high school, college, work, or even family that are like best friends. Where there’s no “rule” for who to include and who to not, I can share a bit of insight into my approach from when I was in your shoes 7 years ago.

Remembering that your wedding is one of the biggest, most significant days of your adult life, you want people there to support you. That’s the whole POINT of a bridal party - to surround yourself with people who will support and help you create amazing memories on your wedding day AND pledge to live life with you in the days after, both good and bad. I chose people that were vital parts of my childhood and high school years - my best friends that stayed the test of time. I chose people that were also close to me at the time, having moved to a new town and made friends there the past year. Has my friend group changed since? Of course. But I have no regrets with who I chose to be involved in my wedding day because they were so significant in supporting me through different seasons of my life.

If you are very blessed with lots of friends that fit into all of those descriptions above - don’t panic. It’s perfectly ok to have a big bridal party. Because I was on crutches freshman year in college and commuted the rest, I didn’t make many close friends in college, which was a big reason I could keep my bridal party to 5 women. But if you find yourself including 8 or more, that’s ok!! I’ve photographed bridal parties up to 12+ on each side! All it takes is a little more planning ahead! Hopefully these tips help (speaking from my experience as a wedding photographer AND 1 or 9 bridesmaids in a friends wedding a few years ago!)

What if the Maid of Honor or Best Man isn’t good at planning?

If your “best friend” isn’t quite on top of things and the thought of them coordinating something like a shower or bachelorette party seems laughable, just have an honest conversation with them. Being the Maid of HONOR doesn’t necessarily mean the Maid of Responsibility. Ask them what they would LIKE to do and realistically could do. Being your best friend, they should understand, and feel honored that you want to make sure their responsibilities play to their strengths. If there’s someone really “type A” in your bridal party that would LOVE to plan and organize, have them be the logistics. Your maid of honor can still make decisions and offer the ideas, but there’s nothing wrong with having someone else be the “do-er.” Your Maid of Honor can still HONOR you by sharing a toast at the reception, getting you a special gift, reading a passage at your ceremony, come with you to dress fittings to learn to bustle your dress, or any other important job you feel is appropriate!

How do you easily share the cost of things?

Ideally, when your shower or bachelorette party is being planned, your bridal party would split the cost and responsibilities evenly, including spreading your expenses (like tickets, travel, meals, etc) evenly among them as well. When I was a bridesmaid in a party of 9, the amazing maid of Honor, Mary, used a shared Google Sheet to keep track of expenses and who paid for what. We were like a little business, submitting receipts and everything! (this job doesn’t have to be your maid of honor either! Find your “accountant” among the group and they will eat this up.)

At the end of each event, Mary would take the total spent by everyone and split it 9 ways. She would then “invoice” us if we still owed for our portion of the total expenses, or “reimbursed” us if we spent more than our share. For things like going out to eat where everyone pays for themselves, she would pay for the brides meal and we would reimburse her for our part of it. Having people set up with Venmo or PayPal accounts made transferring money super easy!

What if everyone lives far apart?

Start. Planning. Early. It might seem crazy to commit to a weekend a whole year out just for a shower or a bachelorette party, but doing so will increase the chances that everyone can be there. And if they can’t? You as a bride have to have grace for those who can’t financially commit to traveling in for every event. Your friends are going to spend hundreds on their clothing and their share of all the fun events before the big day, so you can’t begrudge them for wanting to cut down costs by not buying a few more plane tickets. If possible, host them at your apartment or house to cut down on their losing expenses!

Another great thing to consider is WHERE to get your gowns or tuxes/suits. While it may be tempting to shop local (and in any other case, yes! Do it!), this is one decision that may be best handled by a big box chain store like David’s Bridal or Men’s Warehouse. You can decide the color, the style (if you want), and any accessories, and then your girls or guys can go to the nearest franchise store (bonus points if you choose a place within an hour of each of their homes!) and ensure everything will match. Shipping times at these stores are usually a lot faster too, which is always good!

How do you make sure wedding day isn’t chaos?

Talk to your vendors and come up with a plan. Your photographer is a HUGE part of managing your bridal party - mainly because we are with all of you the entire day long! Timelines are SUPER important the more people you add into the mix, so talk with your photographer, wedding coordinator, and DJ to make sure all parts of the day mesh with each other, and then be proactive communicating the info to your bridal party. If you know the guys (or girls!) won’t read a detailed sheet, consider making a version just for them that says where they have to be, when, when they have to be dressed, when pictures are and where, and when they are “done” with responsibilities (after the grand entrance, usually). It’s usually a good idea to give this info out at the rehearsal dinner, that way no one loses it ;)

Remember, these are the people you love the most, and with open communication and planning, I promise that having the squad there, however big and crazy, will be as sweet and as fun as you are imagining it to be! Check out some of the fun memories my couples shared with their big bridal parties!! And be sure to check out other blogs fulls of similar great advice for planning your wedding!

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I Married a Groomsman from the First Wedding I Photographed
Photo by Nathan Ballash Creative

Photo by Nathan Ballash Creative

Most people secretly hope they will find their soul mate in college if they don’t currently have a high school sweetheart. That wasn’t the case for us. Each year after college, we both wondered when and who our spouse would be, and the saying “you will find them when you least expect it” or “when you aren’t looking” was certainly relevant in our case. I was in a relationship when I first met my husband Brandon, but that didn’t stop my high-school friend Seth from desperately trying to set us up. Call it prophesy (I called it stubbornness), but he would not give up - not for 4 years!

Seth and I knew each other from high school, and when he went away to college at IUP, he met Brandon and was determined to get us together. Seth would invite me up to Indiana to visit him in his dingy college apartment where he roomed with Brandon, then “mysteriously” had urgent errands to run, leaving Brandon and I to kindle our forced relationship over some Guitar Hero. I would be lying, though, if I told you our loved was sparked over rounds of Even Flow on Intermediate. It was still a few years until I grew the confidence and self esteem to end a long-term relationship that wasn’t right for me and give Brandon a chance.

During that time, Seth got engaged and asked if I would photograph his wedding (because I took a shot at engagement photos and didn’t royally screw them up I guess!). With my $500 Rebel in hand, I shot my first wedding and guess who was in the bridal party? My future husband! Spending time together “on-the-job” re-kindled our interest, and a few months later I was once again visiting my newly-wed friend Seth in Indiana. And once again he had urgent matters to attend to with his new wife, leaving Brandon and I to grow our relationship, this time over trips to Walmart!

It was important to both of us that we took this relationship seriously, and I still remember standing on Seth’s porch one night, Brandon and I alone of course, when he said to me, “I want to make sure I want a relationship with YOU, not just a relationship. You deserve the be respected.” PUT A RING ON MY FINGER NOW!! Two months later, lots of trips to Indiana later, lots of sleepy, late-night trips home FROM Indiana (seriously, my dad kept a tow rope in his truck to pull my car out of snow banks when I fell asleep coming home and got stuck), we were FB official. Our first kiss was in front of Seth’s house, a desperate tactic on his part to stop me from driving home after my dad accidentally filled my windshield fluid reservoir with tire shine and my windshield was a greasy mess.

In those early days, it was important to Brandon to teach me about faith, and help me develop and grow a relationship with the Lord as we were growing our relationship with each other. Ministry has always been at the foundation of our relationship, and I started attending and serving in church for the first time because of Brandon’s example. His calling to be a pastor came young, we suspect - as young as elementary school when he was a VBS junkie, begging his mom to take him to all of the programs in town each summer. He turned his sweet, babe-luring guitar skills into something that glorified the Lord, leading worship in college ministry and then later at the contemporary service at our church. My first servanthood experience was on the soundboard after hearing his frustration with being able to hear his strings from the front pews when he played electric guitar. As we pushed the decibels up and grew closer together in faith and love, we started volunteering in the youth ministry, where we were leaders of our current pastor! How times change us all!!

I have fond memories in the church where I really found and grew my relationship with the Lord, where I learned about serving, and where we were eventually married. But as God grows us, there are growing pains as well. Our own made-up path of getting Brandon on staff was not the path God wanted to take us on, which lead us to another church in town in the Indiana Theater. Here we experienced the most amazing, life-giving support through some hard times in our marriage that led us to counseling, leaders that saw the potential in us, pulled the skills out of us and developed our gifts. To Ed and Brian I am forever grateful.

This past weekend, Brandon and I and the young kid we were youth leaders over (with a team of incredible people that are literally closer than family to me), started a church. It’s not just the same thing in a new wrapper - it’s the opportunity that has been waiting for Nick and Brandon for all these years. It’s the opportunity the three of us dreamed about back in those youth group days. It’s the opportunity for my husband to step into his calling, having been prepared so excellently by leaders before us. So proud of this groomsman from my first wedding, this guitar-hero legend, this youth group leader that proposed at a youth group concert, this now associate pastor, this soul mate.

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

Photo by Jessica OH Photography

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
Photo by j.jae Photography

Photo by j.jae Photography

Photo by j.jae Photography

Photo by j.jae Photography

Photo by j.jae Photography

Photo by j.jae Photography

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Best of 2018 Wedding, Engagement, Family, and Senior Photos
From our incredible time in Waco, Texas shooting my first destination wedding!

From our incredible time in Waco, Texas shooting my first destination wedding!

Here you’ll find all of my favorite images from the 2018 season! There’s no better way to get a good look at the scope of a photographer’s work than by cruising through their top picks for the year! Read on for a snapshot of the people and places that helped shape my year, OR just skip on down to the galleries!!

This year was iconic for me in starting to realize my dream of being a destination wedding photographer! Cody and Faith were so kind to invite us to Waco Texas to shoot their incredible wedding in June, and while nothing else can really beat that, a few venues back here in Pennsylvania came close! 2018 took me to weddings at PNC park, the Renaissance Hotel, Jumonville, a city rooftop, country clubs, beautiful local barn venues, a private horse farm, a sheep farm, a cattle farm (lots of farms this year!), and a romantic outdoor campsite just to name a few! How incredible it is to be a photographer!!

I was so blessed to shoot a total of over 40 family shoots, 8 senior sessions, and 22 weddings, some as a second shooter with amazing local photographers like Karen Plate Photography, j.jae photography, Carolyn Renee Photography, and Sparks Ignite Photography. I got to attend two workshops, one right here in Indiana PA hosted by the awesome Jon Blanchard, and one in New Jersey hosted by the girls of NJ Spark!

This was a big year of knocking out some big personal projects like creating a wedding magazine chock full of advice just for my brides, converting to all digital contracts for the convenience of my clients, a styled shoot in coordination with j.jae.photography, and over original 30 blog posts! While it’s certainly a struggle to keep the momentum going in the off season, the sheer volume of exciting people, experiences, and images that I’ve had this year make me fall in love with photography over and over again! I can’t wait for 2019 and some of the incredible places (Lingrow Farms!! South Carolina!!) that it will take me!!

WEDDINGS

ENGAGEMENTS

FAMILIES

SENIORS

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Renaissance Hotel Wedding | Pittsburgh, PA
Wedding couple on the terrace of the Heaven Suite at the Renaissance Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Renaissance Hotel in Pittsburgh is a gorgeous venue to have your wedding - with a sweeping grand staircase, cozy but elegant reception room, and incredible views of the city from it’s modern suites, it’s everything you could want for your wedding AND after! Not to mention the city’s most iconic yellow bridge, The Roberto Clemente, just steps away from its doors.

This year I was blessed to second shoot for Jackie Anderson of J.Jae Photography, and we worked together for this insanely beautiful wedding at the iconic Renaissance. The happy couple even had reserved one of the private top floor suites, which is where the unreal cityscapes were taken! I hope you enjoy these few highlights from this unforgettable wedding!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
Wedding party celebrating by the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh, PA
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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You Can Take Better iPhone Photos at Night
 
These photos are not pretty. This post is intended to show you how to use your phone better, and the photos here were taken with my crappy phone. If you want to see pretty photos,  CLICK HERE!!!

These photos are not pretty. This post is intended to show you how to use your phone better, and the photos here were taken with my crappy phone. If you want to see pretty photos, CLICK HERE!!!

 

If you want to up your photography game, but all you have or can use at the time is a cell phone, there are still some basic tips and details to pay attention to that will take your photos from looking like your grandma took them to seeming like you actually know what you are doing! Since we are in the middle of Christmas season, there are TONS of photo opportunities, family events, and fun things to document. Unfortunately most of those things involve darkness, decorative lights, and otherwise less than ideal photo taking scenarios.

On a recent trip to Overly’s Country Christmas in Greensburg with my family, I used my smashed iPhone 6plus covered in packing tape (playing to the lowest common denominator here) to show you some common mistakes that people make when using their phone cameras at night, and the difference just a small adjustment can make to your photos! If you liked this post, please be sure to comment below - I may just do a harsh sunlight version if you think that would be helpful!

COMPOSITION

This is the easiest one to fix, and also the easiest one to miss in the moment! To take better photos, you simply have to pay attention. That’s the biggest trick from cell phone photographers to those of us toting around 5 pound DSLR rigs! In the snowman photo below, notice the symmetry. It’s important to not only pay attention to the things you are photographing, but the spaces between them as well. By moving myself directly in front of the center snowman, rather than standing off to the side like the first shot, I was able to get a much more symmetrical and better looking image. Also, just because what I’m photographing is tall, doesn’t mean it always has to be a vertical image! Look at your subject as a whole and determine if it is wider, or taller, and shoot accordingly.

Photo Dec 14, 7 11 32 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 14, 7 11 48 PM.jpg

COMPOSITION AGAIN… (it’s that important!)

In the photo below, a nice lady offered to take our photo and was kind enough to get us both a landscape photo and a vertical photo (probably because I just did it for her family). Just like in the paragraph above, it’s important to pay attention to EVERYTHING you are capturing in your photo. If you want to get a wide shot, make sure that everyone keeps their hands and feet inside the vehicle (that is, don’t cut limbs off - see the bonus tip below!) Notice the nice PVC pole that’s in the wide photo that’s mysteriously not in the vertical one. If she were to move directly in front of us or have US move (don’t be afraid to make people move!), it would have been a cleaner image.

Photo Dec 14, 6 38 20 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 14, 6 38 11 PM.jpg

ANGLES

“Angles we have heard on high…..” (because, Christmas.) There’s a reason that teenage girls hold their phones way up by their foreheads when they take selfies (remember MySpace?) - its because flattering angles matter!! Never, ever, ever, everrrrrrrr take selfies with the camera down by your chin. Always make sure your lens (NOT the screen where you can see yourself, the LENS) is eye level or a bit higher!

Photo Dec 18, 11 34 12 AM.jpg
Photo Dec 18, 11 34 10 AM.jpg

LIGHTING

Please please don’t ever ever use your phone’s flash. Ever. It’s terrifying, horrible, and will make your photos look like junk. You can learn composition and angles until they become second nature, but something even the best photographer in the world even has to think about, chase after, and outsmart is light. Don’t. Use. The. Flash. Find some great light and stand IN or BEHIND it!

Photo Dec 14, 8 05 47 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 14, 8 06 02 PM.jpg


This goes for selfies too. Grab whoever you are taking a selfie with and twirl them around to face the light! (If it’s sunny, find shade, stand IN it, and face the sun!)

Photo Dec 14, 7 38 57 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 14, 7 39 05 PM.jpg

EXPOSURE

It took me way too long to realize you could adjust exposure on your phone. When you have the camera open, hold your finger down and slide up and down to adjust the brightness (exposure). Now granted, neither of these photos below are ideal, but sometimes you have to pick and choose what’s most important in the photo and make sure it’s not blown out (aka way too bright).

Photo Dec 14, 8 04 01 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 14, 8 03 56 PM.jpg

ZOOMING

Digital zoom is not your friend. The only thing you should be pinching at Christmas is pennies or the cheeks of your adorable kids, cousins, husband, whoever! Don’t pinch to zoom!! Why? Remember Silly Putty? Remember pressing it onto newspaper to get an imprint of the ink, and then you would stretch it out? That’s how digital zoom works. It’s not getting any new information to your camera (just like you aren’t putting any more ink on the putty) to keep it looking clear and sharp. You are literally stretching out what’s already captured until it looks blurry and terrible. So how do you zoom? USE YOUR LEGS! Literally get closer to ensure the best quality photo. In the photo below, I only walked about 15 feet closer. It’s worth it!

Photo Dec 14, 7 16 21 PM.jpg
Photo Dec 14, 7 17 05 PM.jpg


BONUS TIP! CROPPING

Anytime you are taking photos of people, never ever ever do the following thing. I need you to find the nearest bible and place your hand on it. Ready? Read this aloud: “I promise to never cut off body parts near the joints.” Now that the nearest person thinks your Hannibal Lector, let me explain: if you are unable to get a person’s whole body in your photo, if you are way taller or shorter than the person, or if you want to get a close up, you will need to crop, of selectively cut off, your image. Make sure that you are cutting people off in the middle of their joints, meaning halfway between the shoulder and elbow, or halfway between the elbow and wrist, or halfway between the hips and the knee, or halfway between the knee and ankle. If you cut people off any closer to these joints, they look deformed and you look like a rookie!

Cute, but my legs look like stumpy legs!

Cute, but my legs look like stumpy legs!

crop it closer!

crop it closer!

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Andy + Megan | Fall Wedding at The Barn at Rayne Run, Indiana PA
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Even though this wedding was early in early November, we really got lucky with a gorgeous and vibrant Pennsylvania autumn where the leaves decided to change AFTER Halloween, giving us some of the most stunning and colorful fall wedding portraits!

Andy and Megan were some of the sweetest people I ever had the pleasure of working with! These two met when they were I grade school, and I was thrilled to learn that Andy’s older brother got the very special job of being their chaperone when they were dating!! Andy and Megan also went to college together, and needless to say they are best friends - you can that tell right away when talking to them! In fact, they are so precious together that it was hard for me not to ball behind my camera seeing Andy so emotional over seeing his gorgeous bride for the first time!

The timeline for this one was very unique but made my life sooo much easier as the couple opted for a first look before the evening ceremony! Megan and her mom made really smart decisions about the when and the where for photos, renting photo time at the beautiful Barn at Rayne Run in Marion Center for the first look and family photos before everything got started. Then, the ceremony and reception were at separate locations that fit the size of their crowd and the time of the year! Just wait until you see the vibrant orange trees at the barn!!

These two have a beautiful future ahead of them, all built on a strong foundation of faith. Andy is planning to be a Chaplain in the military, and Megan’s parents both work in the church they were married in! I Megan’s grandpa was also a minister and co-officiated their beautiful ceremony in Clymer!

I hope you love some of the highlights of their day - and as a fun bonus I threw in the snapchat video I took of us as we drove to the ceremony!!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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Driving the bride to her ceremony!

Quinn + Whitney | Windber Country Club Wedding, Johnstown PA
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

Whitney and Quinn had a beautiful fall and winter themed wedding at the Windber Country Club in Salix this past October. With lots of jewels, white pumpkins, pearls, ivory and red, her decor was equal parts Cinderella inspired and charmingly rustic with colorful nods to the upcoming Christmas season! There were also so many special moments with family, including a lovely ceremony officiated by Whitney’s grandpa, and her younger brother Nebraska stole the show on the dance floor all night!

6 years ago I was lucky enough to photograph Whitney for her senior photos where we had lots of fun wading in streams for some unique shots - and she was just as adventurous as a bride! Her 4 inch heels didn’t stop her from walking around the golf course without fear, and when we found a mushy spot, her Prince Charming picked her right up and carried her!

This was also one of the most fun and rowdiest bridal parties I had the pleasure to work with! Everyone was so so kind, and I was happy to be treated as a friend all day. One of the groomsmen even took an interest in photography and was thrilled to practice taking some shots with my backup camera during a few down-time moments during the reception! (most of them were blurry but back-button spot-focus is hard to just pick up!)

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite shots from this fun and unique wedding!

 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
 @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com
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Setting up a Christmas Tree Siphon | Fleming's Christmas Tree Farm
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There's two schools of thought on Christmas trees: real? or artificial? There's definitely pro's and con's to both (I think my definition of purgatory is fluffing artificial tree branches for eternity), but one of the biggest con's to a live tree (the watering part) can be solved once and for all by reading this awesome "hack." Side note - my husband hates the term "hack". You should text him right now that you're reading about my tree hack. He'll love it. 

Growing up, we always had a live tree. My dad was firmly on #TeamReal, and I remember fondly the sight of his legs sticking out of the tree as he watered it with an empty 2 liter bottle. Brandon and I have carried on this tradition, and how lucky are we that we live in the Christmas Tree Capital of the World, Indiana PA?! Every year we head out to Flemings Christmas Tree Farm and pick out the perfect tree. Three years ago, I got a little tired of the 2-liter method, and went searching for a better way to water the tree that didn't end up soaking me or my carefully curated and wrapped Amazon haul. Behold, the tree siphon. Using things you can find at home and at your nearest hardware store, you too can keep your presents nice and dry and stop army crawling under your festive shrubbery.

I hope you enjoy some sweet and fun photos of our annual trip to the tree farm! Keep scrolling for the how-to details on setting up the tree siphon!

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How To Start A Tree Siphon:

Materials:

  • 3-4 feet plastic hose (1" diameter or less),

  • empty gallon jug with the top cut off. The opening should be big enough to put your fist through.

  • 4 cup glass measuring cup or other container to pour water

  • empty box big enough to hold the gallon jug and container using to pour water, wrapped like a present except for the top (left open)

  • wrapping paper

  • sharpie

  • 6" cut straight section of plastic hanger (optional)

  • zip ties (optional)

Method: 

  1. Place your tree in the stand and secure it, but don't loosen the bailing ropes yet.

  2. Keeping track of how much water you put in, fill the base of the tree stand until its 2" or so inches below the brim of the stand.

  3. Place the gallon jug in the wrapped box.

  4. Pour the same amount of water into the gallon jug as you did the tree stand, and draw a line on the jug with a sharpie where the water stops. This will be your water line so you can see what's in the stand at all times.

  5. Place the pouring container in the box beside your jug of water.

  6. If you are using the hanger piece and zip tie, place the hanger piece along the end of the tubing and zip tie, creating a "splint" at the end of the tube. Place this end (or just AN end if not using the hanger) into the tree stand.

  7. With this of the tubing securely in the stand, place your thumb over the other end of the tube

  8. Move your thumb just slightly back from completely covering the tube, and put the tube and your thumb in your mouth and being sucking the air out.

  9. Yep. You read that right. You WILL get water in your mouth. Sorry if that grosses you out, but it's so worth it not to crawl under the tree. Simply spit the water out, covering the tube with your thumb right away each time. You don't want to let air back in the tube.

  10. Once all air bubbles are out of the tube and it's completely filled with water, cover it with your thumb while it's still in your mouth. Look at the end of the tube where you're holding it. There should be no air in it at all. Keeping your thumb on the tube as you suck out the air helps IMMENSELY with this. Trust me.

  11. Put your entire hand (with the tube) into the gallon jug and submerge it.

  12. Let go of the tube and push it to the bottom of the jug.

  13. You may see little particles flowing through the tube. This is a GOOD SIGN!

  14. Slide the wrapped present box with your jug full of water and pouring container under the tree.

  15. Go brush your teeth.

  16. The next day (and after), re-fill the jug to the water line.

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Karate Twins | Senior Session at Yellowcreek Park
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Sometimes even when it’s gross and rainy out, your senior session can still be amazing, like Josh and Jacob’s shoot at Yellowcreek Park in Indiana, PA. Josh and Jacob are twins (obv!), and definitely have similar interests like karate and their love of the outdoors, but when I finally got their names straight and spent a little time with them, I discovered they are definitely very different! Josh was the goofball of the group, hugging trees and sticking his tongue out - and I was excited to grab a few candid shots showing that side! Jacob was very outgoing and enjoyed making small talk - he plans on being a PA someday, and I think his easygoing personality will benefit him greatly! Josh is thinking about going into the military, and his polite and attentive nature with take him far there, too - not to mention the discipline both of them have learned through years of karate! They are both 2nd degree blackbelts in Tang Soo Do karate, and were very knowledgable. It was fun for me to learn about what “correct” form is and to get the timing right for kicks and punches! (Big shout out to my friend Jackie for letting me rent out her studio for these shots!)

Both boys were very friendly and good sports, not letting the cold, drizzly day before we got to the studio get the best of them. So what happens when you schedule a senior session and the weather is just awful? I know it sounds super “basic”, but base it off of your hair. If you have hair that tends to frizz, and you don’t want that in your photos, then it would be best to reschedule. Literally anything else, like mud, snow, drizzle, light, can be overcome with a creative photographer and a willing subject! Downpours can also be fun - but maybe for the extreme among us! I’m okay under my umbrella if you want to get drenched, we can create something awesome!!

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