Timing Your Spring Senior Session
 high school senior model with denim jacket in front of flowering dogwood tree

If you want jaw-dropping senior photos, start planning right now! The trees are starting to blossom and nights are coming later, which means that you can get the same color-injected, gorgeous backdrops featured here! Ever wonder how photographers get that warm, deliciously amazing light that makes their photos glow? I certainly did. After lots of soul searching this month, this webinar watching, cash-dropping light chaser vowed to stop saying to myself "I'll just fix it in (computer software of choice)", and decided to get. that. glow.

It all starts with paying attention. If you are planning a shoot, look up when sunset is, and plan your shoot an hour or two before that. Carrie was graciously flexible and patient and we adjusted our start time to make sure her photos would be kick-you-in-the-face gorgeous. Usually somewhere between 5pm and 7pm is a good place to start!

HOW $20 DRASTICALLY CHANGED MY PHOTOS

Photography is expensive. Gear is pricey. Time is valuable. The cost of both is critical is this business, but some simple, good decisions can help you reap major benefits! I bought this $20 reflector in keeping with my vow to never "fix it in (computer software)" again. It makes a HUGE difference in lighting your portrait subject's face, and gives you the freedom to position your new friend in front of those beautiful golden backgrounds and still make sure the light is just right. Plus now you can call yourself a light bender and that sounds kind of cool.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these shots of Carrie's senior session! She is quite an amazing lady - manager of a baseball team at school, a solid member of the volleyball team for years, an advocate for MS, exchange program participant, AP class all-star, and lover of ice cream! Meadows, anyone?
 

 high school senior model behind volleyball net with Westchester University college shirt
 high school senior model posed with purple volleyball wearing a west chester university college hat
 high school senior model with off the shoulder yellow lace top posing in front of arches at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania
 high school senior model with yellow lace off the shoulder top holding melting ice cream with rainbow sprinkles in front of the meadows ice cream store in Indiana, PA
 high school senior model with denim jacket in front of flowering dogwood tree
 high school senior model standing in front of covered bridge wearing a floral summer dress
 high school senior model twirling floral summer dress on a back country raos with trees
 high school senior model wearing light blue shift dress and blue floral heels looking over shoulder and laughing on top of a parking garage in the city
 high school senior model in light blue shift dress standing on top of parking garage overlooking city of Indiana PA
 headshot using reflector of high school senior model in light blue shift dress standing on top of parking garage overlooking city of Indiana PA
 top down shot of high school senior model laughing in light blue shift dress standing on top of parking garage overlooking city of Indiana PA
 
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The Perfect Font for your Treasured Photo Collages

Are you putting together a collage or scrapbook of your favorite wedding photos? Making a keepsake gift with some family photos? This post explains how to create a font as unique and meaningful as the photos you already love!

Brandon and I were just getting back from our honeymoon when I got a call from my mom with some pretty horrific news. My beautiful wedding gown, AND my mom's lace veil, were both destroyed in a fire. She had taken it to get preserved and the structure went up in a blaze, taking my "something old" and "something new" up with it. 

It's never easy to recover from a tragedy like that. It makes the photos even more important, and my job as a photographer even more meaningful. Here's some shots of my wedding day pretties of past, taken by the lovely Jessica Oh! Photography

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Visuals like these photos have so much impact, so much significance in the process of remembering. I have been very blessed by an amazing husband who probably cried over this more than I did. It sort of set the tone for our marriage, really. Him being so deeply, genuinely caring with his gentle love and willingness to help.

CHOOSING A BUSINESS NAME

We have weathered many storms since the fire, including the death of both of our fathers in 2015 and 2016, just 8 months apart. I get a lot of people ask me why I don't change my business name to my married name, Stiffler. Maybe up until now it was just the laziness of a total overhaul, but now my maiden name, my dad's name, is more special to me than ever.
 

MAKE YOUR OWN CUSTOM FONT

A few weeks ago when I was home visiting mom, cognitive wheels spinning about the new website and branding, I asked her for as many samples of dad's writing as she could find. He had a very unique script. He was an absolutely brilliant man, but sometimes mixed his capital letters and had a tough time spelling. We found lots of samples on old e-bay  printouts, part numbers and product names scrawled on the receipts from whatever engine he was rebuilding that month.
 

With the help of calligraphr.com, I was able to take these samples and trace them onto a template and make a FONT - yes a font! - of my dad's handwriting. The process is super simple. First you create an account (it's free, for this purpose anyway), then you download a template to print out. The template is just a bunch of blocks where you write your characters. Then you scan the template, click "upload" and just like magic, you have a font! You can then download your font (a .ttf file), double click the file, and hit "install." Done.

CREATING A LEGACY

My "Kevin" font about knocked the wind out of me when I saw it for the first time. You may also notice that I have his handwriting tattooed on my wrist as well, paired with a green cancer ribbon.  I never realized how much of an impact a person's handwriting can have on your memories. If there is someone significant in your life, I encourage you to take a few moments and make their handwriting into a font. It's a really powerful memory that can evoke emotions much like a photograph. 

As a lasting legacy to my dad, not only have I decided to stick with Jill Gearhart Photography, I have used his handwriting in my new logo and various places throughout my website. I've provided a download below of my dad's font, if you would like to use it, too :)

10 Lessons You Can Learn from Mary's 11 Trips Down the Aisle
tips for bridesmaids

Are you a bridesmaid? Do you have friends that are girls? Chances are, you will be in or involved in a wedding at some point in your life, and there's no better way to support your bestie than by being the most kick-butt bridesmaid or friend you can be on the wedding day. In this first ever guest blog post, the beautiful Mary Kuehn shares 10 lessons that bridesmaids can learn from her vast experience - 11 I do's and counting! Mary was a great sport as I drug her around town to capture all of these dresses, toting a literal box of them, changing in cars, venturing down locked stairwells, climbing on landscaping, twirling like a fool in view of band camp students... she's really quite amazing!

Without further ado.... here's Mary!

Hello!  No, I haven't gotten married eleven times--not even once, in fact!  I've just stood to the left with flowers in my hands a bunch of times while other people did.  I'm no Katherine Heigl, but hopefully I've learned something from these dresses, and I'm excited to get to share that with you.  As a bridesmaid, you are not the point, and there's a lot to do.  But, cheesy as it sounds, it also really is an honor to stand up and support your friend/relative/future in-law as she gets married, so make sure you enjoy it too!  The less stressed you are, the more you will enjoy it, so here are a few tips to make things a little easier.

P.S. One thing I didn't learn from being in weddings is how to wrap a sari, much as I loved wearing one!  My apologies to those of you that know what it really should look like and recognize that I can't dress myself.

 Bridesmaid in two piece bridesmaid dress with a periwinkle or sky blue skirt and grey spaghetti strap crop top standing in front of an ivy wall
 Bridesmaid in two piece bridesmaid dress with a periwinkle or sky blue skirt and grey spaghetti strap crop top standing in front of an ivy wall

Communicate

You, the bride, and the other bridesmaids are on the same team! Talk to them, and be nice to each other. If you're in different geographies, start an email thread or a group text and introduce yourselves.  You'll be glad!  You don't have to be BFFs with them all, but it will be so much more fun to collaborate if you know each other's names.  And who knows, maybe you'll even find a new friend.  The only reason I know the lovely Jill Stiffler is because we were both bridesmaids in a wedding last year, and now I can't imagine not knowing her!

More specifically, talk about duties and costs for the shower, bachelorette party, etc.  Costs add up quickly, and no one wants to be caught off guard having to suddenly pay for something they can't afford, so it helps to be sensitive to this and plan together.  Here's a spreadsheet template I used to keep shower costs organized and split them evenly, and the rest of the bridal party really appreciated it!  You can customize the formulas (don't worry, they're super simple!) with your bridesmaids' names and then just toss in anything anyone pays for.  You can also use an app like Splitwise to do the same sort of thing.

 purple and gold Indian sari floating in the breeze worn by model in front of a black garage door in an urban setting
 dark haired model wearing a purple and gold sari for a bridesmaid dress looking confused on how to tie a sari
 purple and gold Indian sari floating in the breeze worn by model in front of a black garage door in an urban setting

Plan Early

Your biggest job when it comes to planning will be putting together the bridal shower and bachelorette party, if the bride wants them.  The maid of honor is in charge, but she can't do it alone.  Start planning as soon as you can so you don't wind up rushing to throw things together, and don't be afraid to ask for help!  Find out what the bride would like since these parties are for her, after all, and don't forget to involve her mom in the shower if she wants that.  Moms always like to be thought of, even if they don't want to help with planning!

Another part of planning early is to start saving money for your dress, shoes, shower costs, hair appointment, etc.  Unfortunately, being in a wedding can be expensive, and that can be frustrating.  Even if you're doing things as cheaply as possible, you'll be glad if you set some money aside as soon as you know you'll be a bridesmaid.

 bridesmaid in a long silver sequin gown in front of city-scape
 bridesmaid in a long silver sequin gown in front of city-scape

Get Your Dress ASAP

Don't leave dresses until the last minute!  A lot of this depends on the bride deciding what she wants you to wear (and remember, that's ultimately up to her! don't be a dress bully), but the earlier you can get this worked out, the better.  Depending on where you get them, dresses can take several weeks or even months to come in, and you may need alterations.  Hopefully your friends have good taste like mine do, but even a hideous dress will look way better if it fits you properly.  

     Bridesmaid in orange dress with mint green peep toe pumps and turquoise accent jewelry
     Bridesmaid in orange dress with mint green peep toe pumps and turquoise accent jewelry

    Don't Forget Your Feet

    Break your shoes in a bit before the day of the wedding!  You'll feel (and look) so much more comfortable walking down the aisle if you've already walked around in your shoes.  Wear them to the rehearsal, so you'll know how they feel on the actual floor/grass/stone path you'll be walking on.  Besides, you'll spare yourself the horror of realizing as you're stepping into the aisle that your shoes are too big and literally flopping off your feet, when at that point there is nothing you can do but smile and desperately try not to trip.  Trust me and those gorgeous mint green peep toes on this one...seriously.  And bring some flats for the reception!

     Bridesmaid standing in front of white doors beside a column wearing crimson red satin floor length dress with red elbow length gloves
     Bridesmaid standing in front of white doors beside a column wearing crimson red satin floor length dress with red elbow length gloves

    Make an Emergency Kit

    This is for the day of the wedding.  I once had a dress split up the side just moments before I had to walk down the aisle!  No one noticed.  There are always a few little last minute fixes that someone in the bridal party needs, so it's helpful to bring a few things with you, such as:

    • Makeup--even if you're getting it done by someone else, you usually have to bring your own foundation and mascara, plus anything you'll need for touchups at the last minute
    • Tissues
    • Bobby pins
    • Safety pins, and maybe even a sewing kit
    • Hairspray
    • Deodorant
    • Dental floss, mouthwash
    • A razor--why does someone always forget to shave their pits?!
    • Clear tape--for sudden dress or shoe emergencies
    • Steamer--not as crucial, but slightly miraculous if anyone's dress is wrinkled
    • A non-messy snack--see below
    tips for bridesmaids

    Be a Problem Solver

    This is always a good thing to be, but I'm specifically referring to the morning of the wedding.  Remember, you're part of the bride's team.  Make her day less stressful, and protect her sanity in any way you can.  If people are peppering her with questions you can answer, answer them.  If someone wants her to solve a problem you can take care of, solve it.  Just do what needs to be done.  She has plenty to think about, and part of your job is to make hers easier so she can fully enjoy her wedding day!  

    tips for bridesmaids
    tips for bridesmaids

    Know What's Expected

    Pitch in, stay afterward, and help clean up.  The bride and groom's families will be SO grateful for this.  Bring a change of shoes, or even a full change of clothes if you want, so that this is easier.  Random last minute things will come up in the few days leading up to the wedding, so be prepared to help the bride out with whatever she needs (both practical needs and emotional support) that week.  Again, just do what needs to be done, and when everyone does that, things go pretty fast!  This day is not about you, and remembering that will make you so much happier about serving your friends and helping out.  

    tips for bridesmaids
    tips for bridesmaids

    Don't Get Hangry

    It took me a few weddings to remember this one.  While the guests are snacking on appetizers before the reception, you will be taking lots of pictures.  Breakfast, if you even ate it, was a while ago by now.  You will definitely get hungry.  Anyone who thinks to bring snacks (or commissions a guest to bring them a tray of appetizers) will be a bridal party hero!  Also, make sure the bride eats at least a little bit on her wedding day.  She will forget, and even if she remembers, she'll find she's too busy and has too many people to talk to.  Be a dear and just bring her some food.

    tips for bridesmaids
    tips for bridesmaids

    Have Grace for Yourself

    Things will go wrong.  It's okay.  They will probably be tiny things that no one will notice, but even if they're not, just look for where you can help, and do what needs to be done.  As long as the bride and groom wind up married to each other, it's been a successful day!  This leads us into:

    Remember the Why

    Even though yeah, we already know this and it sounds trite, it's way too easy to lose sight of the most important thing of all when the details are overwhelming.  Remember the reason you are here, and help the bride remember it too. You love the bride and groom, they love each other, and they are about to commit their lives to one another.  Wow!  At the heart of all this, your most important job is not to avert disaster, plan a shower, look pretty, or smooth the train of a dress. You're here to support two friends in their marriage, not just in the details of their wedding day.  Marriage is a big deal!  It is exciting and serious and life-changing!  The bride and groom are building a life together, not just planning a party, and if you or they forget that, none of the wedding details matter.  

    Stop for a minute and let that really sink in!  Their marriage matters the most.  Remind the bride of this when she gets overwhelmed, too.  Pray for them, for their relationship and their marriage, and let the little planning details fall into perspective.  Make sure you remember it again when the ceremony is about to begin.  Give her one last hug as a single lady, smile down the aisle, enjoy your front row view of their vows, and have fun celebrating your friends!

    So He's Not Into Photos - This Type of Session May Be Perfect For You
     @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

    If you have a grumpy groom-to-be that's not jazzed about engagement photos, a lifestyle session may be the perfect thing for you and your hubs-to-be. Picture this: you are recently engaged, and besides staring at your amazing bling and grabbing every copy of bridal mags out there, your are pinterest-obsessed with planning the perfect engagement photos to make it Facebook official. But what if your new fiancé is totally not into photo sessions? At all. Enter lifestyle engagement sessions. This is were a photographer comes into your home and photographs you doing everyday things, but cutely! They may be posed, they may be totally candid, but they will always be fun! Guys are usually much more comfortable in a familiar environment, and definitely more comfortable when they know what's expected of them and they have things to do or clear directions. 

    What if we don't have a house together yet?

    That's totally ok!! If you love the style and relaxed vibe of lifestyle shoots, your photographer can find a cozy living room, nice kitchen, and cute dining room for you to do photos in. My current house is perfect for this! It could even be at one of your family members homes or a friend who has a floorpan you admire. Most people will be flattered that you asked them to use their home because that says "I think your home is beautiful enough to photogrpah."

    What do we do during our shoot?

    This is where your personalities and preferences can really shine! A lot of couples opt for sharing a cup of coffee together with some cute pastries for props, playing a favorite board game together on the living room rug, snuggling together on the couch, jumping on the bed, pillow fights, 

    What if my house is ugly?

    Keep in mind that only a select part of your home will show up in the photos, so if you have a couch that you like and you don't mind the wall paint color, you will have some killer photos. Is there an area or room that you love? Incorporate it and plan activities that would make sense for you to be doing there. If you love your kitchen, you can do lots of photos making coffee, baking cookies, or just kissing on the counter :) 

    How much do I have to clean?

    You don't. I mean, minimally. Depending on the room you want to be photographed in, go ahead and run the vacuum, do the dishes, and make your bed. Look around at the "stuff" in each room too, and if you don't like it or it looks cluttered to you, chuck it in another room temporarily. As as far as the rooms you are NOT photographed in? Don't even think twice about them! You can also check out this sister blogpost about getting your house ready for an in-home shoot!

     @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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    What Are You Willing to Do for Great Photos?
     high school senior photo of girl with glasses leaning against a tree in the fall at Chimney Rocks in Hollidaysburg PA

    Do you have one of those people in your life where they have a complete disregard to personal safety, comfort, and convenience? Yeah, I'm one of those. Over the years, I have done some pretty weird and stupid things for the sake of photography. To gear up for senior pic season this spring, I'm sharing some of the strangest locations, stunts, and situations that I've survived to tell about during a senior shoot. Just kidding, it's not nearly that ominous.

     High school senior laying on stomach with sun flare on Indiana University of Pennsylvania Campus in the Oak Grove

    LAYED IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUSY COLLEGE CAMPUS

    Okay, so this one is pretty tame, but to get this beautiful shot of Hannah, we both crawled on the ground on the main walkway of one of the biggest party schools in the country, good 'ol IUP!

     redhead high school senior model in tree during the fall or autumn

    CLIMBED A TREE

    Tree, bleachers, railing, fencing... if I can hoist myself up there, you better believe I will! This golden sunlight was  TO DIE FOR during Joelle's shoot, and I was totally willing to get up in the trees with her to make sure I captured it!

     High school senior model wearing sundress sitting on wooden chair in a field of flowers

    BUSHWHACKED THROUGH JAGGER BUSHES

    I love getting foreground in my images, and sometimes the only way to do that is to grit your teeth, walk through the jaggers, and crouch down in the middle of it all! These little flowers behind St. Bernard's perfectly matched Kayla's dress, so it was really a no-brainer to go play in the flowers

     High school senior boy in between brick building in urban setting

    RISKED GETTING ARRESTED FOR TRESPASSING

    Brendon was a great sport when I asked him to crunch up and sit in-between these two brick buildings near Grace Church! The light coming in from the back was awesome, and I love the vanishing point perspective the patterned walls gave! Too bad we looked SUPER shady when we came back out onto the street! haha!

     blonde high school senior model in vintage car with petina

    TOOK A CHANCE WITH TETANUS

    I. love. classic. cars. Maybe it's because my dad was a gear head, but I am always drawn to cars. Abby was a great sport when I asked her to romp around a rusty classic car graveyard to get some cool, colorful, textured shots!

     blonde high school senior male model in red ford mustang claifornia special

    STOLE AN EXPENSIVE CAR

    Just kidding! I only borrowed it!  Adam was a big Mustang fan, and my mother graciously let me take her baby out to a photo shoot at Greenhouse Park - it was the easiest way to get Adam to smile, that's for sure!

     high school senior model standing in water by rocks for senior photos

    GOT WET. REALLY WET.

    There's at least one shoot a year where I will wade into a lake, but this shoot with Whitney called for a whole other level of dedication. Waist deep in a slippery, fast moving creek doesn't come without consequences! The previous year I did a similar shoot and slipped backwards. Luckily my camera went straight up into the air, safe and dry, but my iPhone in my back pocket however...

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    Make Your Senior Session Totally Amazing | Indiana, PA Senior Photographer
     Blonde high school senior model with white lace dress standing by a tree and sunset.

    Thinking about getting your senior photos done, but worried they won't represent you accurately? I'm sharing some tips on how to dress and choose the perfect location to make sure your photos capture everything that makes you amazingly and uniquely you. When I photograph my seniors, it's one of those most fun and magical aspects of my job. I love making your photos fun, vibrant, and "different" from everyone else's.

    Lots of seniors come to me because of the colorful, joyful style my photos take on. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 90's with a Lisa Frank Trapper keeper, or maybe it's because I have a penchant for all things rainbow, but one thing is for certain -  I. Love. Color. When I met Erin, after noticing her striking beauty, I couldn't help but be excited about her cool outfit choices. I always encourage my seniors to bring a variety of outfit styles from dressy to casual, colorful to neutral. Above all, I want everything about the senior session to reflect their amazing personalities. Check out Erin's awesome wardrobe and how we were able to pair her choices with the perfect backdrops!

     Blonde senior model in black dress standing by roman column at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
     Blonde senior model in black dress sitting on wrought-iron bench in front of Fisher Auditorium at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
     Blonde senior model wearing maroon blouse leaning on a stack of books
     Blonde senior model in maroon blouse sitting on white rocking chair on the porch of Sutton Hall at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
     Blonde senior model with long curly hair flipped to one side
     Blonde senior model reading a book outside at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

    Interested in seeing more of the cool places we ventured to? Want to see more awesome outfits? Curious about how I get to know my seniors before the session starts? 

    HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR SENIOR PHOTOS HAVE PERSONALITY

    It pays off in huge ways when seniors take the time to shoot me an email, message me on Facebook, text, whatever, to help me get to know them! I've posted some of my favorite questions to ask seniors below (and your answers just may help us figure out location choices!)

     Blonde senior high school model with white shorts and hot pink crop top standing in front of royal blue wall
     blonde high school senior model in white shorts and hot pink crop top throwing glitter at camera
     blonde high school model in grey crop top and skinny jeans in a seated pose between two brick buildings in an urban environment
     Blonde high school senior model with skinny jeans and gray crop top in urban setting between two brick buildings

    QUESTIONS FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

    . Do you like to spend time outside?
    2. What's your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
    3. Do you have any hobbies?
    4. Do you like to dress up, or are you more of a casual dresser?
    5. Do you like dogs/have a dog?
    6. What's something you're passionate about?
    7. Pick some of these words to describe yourself:  classy, fun, hipster, trendy, elegant, relaxed, sporty, academic, funky, edgy, introvert, extrovert, (and any more you want to add!)

     blonde high school senior model standing on lake dock wearing white lace summer dress
     blonde high school senior in nature park during golden hour

    PAIRING OUTFITS WITH LOCATIONS

    Start by going through your closet and choosing outfits that make you feel totally awesome. Don't be afraid to pair old things with brand new things as well. You want to be comfortable and confident throughout your session, so while there's definitely room to go out and splurge on a new top or shoes, mix in the tried and true favorites that really represent you. From there, we can look at the overall feel of the outfit and pair locations that make them shine! If you come with beanies and ripped skinnies, we will probably be heading to the city! If you have a flowered dress, we're going to find a field or a lake! Super colorful top? You already can guess I have colorful places around town scoped out just for you!

    Having senior photos done can be a super fun, confidence boosting, and rewarding experience for everyone if you take a little time to connect with your photogrphaer and curate your outfits. This is a milestone you will look fondly back on for the rest of your life! I can't wait to make colorful memories with you!

    The Moving Advice No One Gave You
    Photo Mar 01, 10 21 58 AM.jpg

    It's been a while since I've shared a personal post, so if you are looking to learn a bit about what's been going on in my life, read on! If you are looking for some "regular" blogs showcasing beautiful weddings and other work of mine, click here!

    The past month or so, I've been spending every free minute doing something I hardly ever did these past 5+ years after moving out on my own: thinking about, caring about, and working towards having a beautiful home that I love. I am so grateful for the Lord's provision of a nice home with space for my husband and I, but since we both prioritize quality time and memories over material things, most of our extra time and money went into experiences. Trips to Pittsburgh, trying out new restaurants, we rarely had a whole entire weekend at home! And we loved it!

    People described my home as "cute" and "cozy" which I have to remind myself isn't a bad thing. But I wanted amazing. Who doesn't?! This new year, my resolution was to, and I quote, "give a crap about my house." Little did I know that an amazing place was right around the corner. Literally. I moved our entire life as a married couple right around the corner. And as with any major life event, I couldn't have gotten through without my amazing church family!

    Please enjoy a lighter take on the moving advice no one gave you! I hope it saves you from a few headaches and disasters during your next move! *all photos are from my iphone, as you probably realized. I'm a better photographer than this lol.

    Photo Feb 28, 5 59 15 PM.jpg

    INVITE YOUR FRIENDS WITH KIDS

    You may shy away from asking for help from your friends with kids, but it's actually a great opportunity to put young legs to work! We had some help from a nifty hand cart from Harbor Freight, which made moving fun for the kiddos! They actually argued about who could pull it. How's THAT for free labor?! Shout out to Jill and her amazing kiddos. Love you all!

    Photo Mar 01, 6 33 04 PM.jpg

    EVERYTHING IS A STEPSTOOL

    You know that feeling at Christmas when you are wrapping a present and you lose the tape? That's how moving is when you need a stepstool. It's always, without fail, in another room, or on another floor. Luckily, if you are reckless like moi, everything can be a stepstool including appliances. As my husband knows all too well, my motto in life is that there's a solution to every problem!!

    Photo Mar 01, 10 21 48 AM.jpg

    MUSCLES + TRUCKS

    I honestly thought I could get around this one since we were, after all, moving literally three houses down and around the corner. Even if it's a baby move like mine, you'll always need muscles and a truck in you have furniture. I personally apologize to everyone involved moving that 34234 pound hutch. Love you guys.

    Photo Mar 01, 9 40 28 AM.jpg
    Photo Mar 01, 9 40 35 AM.jpg

    HUMANS > RATCHET STRAPS

    Have you ever used a ratchet strap? It is very likely that I am just mechanically challenged save for camera gear (watch me open a lock sometime, haha!), but I cannot for the life of me figure out ratchet straps. Chalk that up to one more thing I should have learned form my dad when I could. But the funny thing is, almost everyone else I've talked to struggles with those buggers too. So, in the same reckless fashion as the stepstool thing, hop up in that truck and use your greatest asset - yourself - to hunker down that hutch. (Please don't actually do this unless you are, again, moving around the corner. I'm pretty sure it's illegal and all that good stuff).

    Photo Mar 01, 12 07 55 PM.jpg

    LOOK UP THE MANUAL

    What happens when your new appliances are High Efficiency but your brain is not? The photo above. I know you might be excited to not have to haul your laundry down three flights and into the basement and all you wanna do is take that Whirlpool for a whirl, but please read the manual first. Also, even though the detergent reservoir can hold a lot and the soap disappears as your pour it in, it does NOT, in fact, hold a half bottle of soap to dispense the proper amount on it's own. You still have to do a little bit of thinking to measure your soap, unfortunately.

    Photo Mar 02, 7 41 11 AM.jpg

    KNOW WHERE YOU PACKED THE COFFEE

    I think the photo pretty much explains this one. Things that you use all the time and pack last should also be unloaded last, so you know where to find them! I knew where my trusty pink water bottle was at all times. But the connectors to hang the shower curtain? Box of kcups? Silverware? Who knows...

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    TAKE TIME TO REMINISCE

    I never thought I would miss our old house, the peeling wallpaper, the floors that offered fun sounds as you walked and the occasional splinter. But something weird happened as I mopped each room after cleaning all day, shutting out the light as I finished each. I was just a tiny little bit sad to go. This is where our marriage was built. This house is the first real home Brandon has had since moving out on his own, the house where we hauled all of our wedding stuff as we left for our honeymoon. The house where we got a puppy. The house where we built and grew relationships over dinner and board games. The house where we accomplished great things to set us on the path to achieving our "adult goals." Brandon finished his undergrad here. We were both unemployed here and had summers with fishing and $3 minnow buckets for fun. We had some serious conversations here, we started marriage counseling here. We lost our dads here. We found a church here, and new purpose and passions and dreams. I was sad to go, but it makes it so much better to know that now, in our new home, is where all of our hard work and heartaches are going to bear fruit and we can finally say "we made it."

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    How to Get Your House Ready for a Photo Session | Johnstown PA Family Photographer
     @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

    If you have a photographer coming over to do a session in your home, don't panic - here's some great tips and things to prepare to get your house ready for a photo session with amazing results. Maybe you have a brand new bundle and your photographer is hauling their gear to come to your place, or maybe you have all the relatives in for the holidays and would love a session around the fireplace where you all grew up. There's definitely amazing benefits to having a shoot done in your home, even if you don't feel like your place is quite up to par with Martha Stewart's. Here are some great things to zero in on to help your photographer out a bit before she gets there, and some things to not worry about at all (you'll be surprised!)

    LIGHTING

    Because I adore natural light, when I travel to people's homes for sessions, the first thing I look for is a window with some great light coming in, or light colored walls. If you are doing a newborn session, head shots during a family session, or a lifestyle session with only two people, natural lighting can most likely be used for your session. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box!  You can get some amazing close up shots with gorgeous light even if we are all standing by your bathroom sink! Some things you can do to prep: clear furniture or other items away from windows that have great light coming in! But what if I don't have great light anywhere?! Don't panic! Good photographers (ahem!) will always bring lighting equipment with them that can light the whole room softly, regardless of the lighting options you have.

    CLUTTER

    Don't feel like you have to clean and clear away every last shred of proof that people live in your house. Zero in on one or two spots (and your photographer can help you identify these) that you will be using, and pay no mind to the rest of the house. The places I usually shoot are living rooms, nurseries, and bedrooms! For living rooms, clear away anything stored on the floor or coffee table like magazines, blankets, and remotes. For nurseries, focus on the crib and a nearby chair. Choose sheets that have a simple or understated pattern, and let your photographer know if you're up for rearranging the placement of furniture for the best lighting and backgrounds! If there are certain decor pieces that you just love and speak to your style, or sentimental things you want represented in your photos, absolutely let your photographer know! Otherwise, it's usually a good idea to clear away any holiday decor, floor lamps, framed photos, etc. The more simple the background and surrounding area, the better!

    FURNITURE

    Regarding furniture, I tend to find that when I do a session in your home, unless you can sit on it, I usually won't include it in the frame. Meaning, sofas, beds, chairs, and ottomans are all great props to use! If you are able, push any small tables (if there's room!) away from anything you can sit on to create not only a place to sit, but simplicity around it! Sometimes, furniture or design features of the home make a great statement in the photo, such as arch-shaped doorways or fireplaces. Let your photographer know what you love, and they will figure out the lighting and posing to pull it all together!

    Recently, I had the privilege to photograph sweet new parents Alicia and Brian with their baby girl and their amazingly cute pup, Throcken. Not only were they all amazing to work with (even the doggo!), their house had a ton of cool design features, great natural lighting, and simple but seriously cute decor. It made for the perfect in-home session - even if the Corgi did steal the show!

     @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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    What Your Groom Wont Tell You During Wedding Planning
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    There may be things your groom isn't telling you during the wedding planning process - opinions, preferences, concerns - and maybe just maybe, this will be a great spring board for some good conversations if you're in the throws of picking out cake flavors, napkin colors, and florals. After all girl, it's YOUR big day, right? In a recent survey I conducted with 20+ brides, some my clients and some not, they gave us the scoop about what their men were concerned about with the wedding. Some of it may just surprise you!

    It's my hope that you can look through these things together and have a great time connecting with your groom-to-be to ensure that your best day ever is exactly what HE was hoping for too! And for the guys reading, don't be afraid to speak up! Marriage is a UNION of two amazing lives and people, preferences and tastes, and your loving bride will definitely want you to be excited and happy about the decisions you two are making!

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    HE CARES ABOUT THE COST

    Sure, both of you care about cost, I'm sure. But your Mr. may be a little more frugal than you realize. One bride disclosed that her groom wanted to make sure the purchases they were making were necessary. Ask your vendors if they have customizable packages to not only pare down on cost, but get exactly what you need. Many DJ's have the option to add (or take away) uplighting, monogramming, and games packages. Photographers may be able to give you a discounted rate if you only use them for the hours that you need. Maybe you can opt for the less expensive florals while still getting the same look. Just be honest with your vendors and ask! 

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    HE WANTS TO LOOK GOOD

    Nearly every survey response I got talked about how the groom wants to look good, dress nicely but be comfortable, and rock his photos. We fuss so much about the bride and her gown (as we should because gowns are EXPENSIVE), but the groom deserves just as much attention to look super sharp. Talk to him about details like cufflinks, belts, shoes and socks, suspenders, hats, suit or tux (do you know the difference? because I didn't! Comment below if you want me to explain!), colors, fabrics, etc etc etc. The fun thing about the grooms outfit is that there are so many details and layers to it. Your fella can literally design a custom look by layering fabrics and colors, and choosing details that he wants. The only thing my husband and I fought about during our wedding planning was his boutonniere, of all things, so trust me when I say your man will care about every last detail of his look! (We did paper flowers and he was convinced it was going to look like a clown boutonniere that sprayed water, LOL!)

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    HE CARES ABOUT THE CEREMONY

    Maybe your man isn't much for details with tablescapes and outfits, but there are many grooms out there that care about the ceremony. One bride told me that her fiancé had a lot of input with planning special elements about the ceremony. In fact, he wants to do a foot washing ceremony, which is a super special and tender act of service, imitating how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before sitting down for a meal. Another bride said that her now-husband had similar concerns with making sure everything went right because "he is very religious." The ceremony is the part where you make a covenant with each other, and if this your belief, with God. You definitely want to make sure that your hubby is represented here! Also, be sure to talk about how your husband hopes to incorporate family in your ceremony. It's easy to look out for and honor your own family, but remember that you are now becoming one and blending your families into one as well. 

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    HE WANTS TO KNOW WHAT HE'S IN FOR

    Unless you are hiring an event manager or a crew to set up your venue, there's a good chance you are going to rely on the men in your life to build, transport, lift, and set up things for your wedding. Make sure to have the conversation early and fully with your hubby (and anyone else!) so he knows exactly what is expected of him day-of.

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    HE WANTS GOOD FOOD

    I mean who doesn't? But for the guys, it seems to be super important, according to my surveyed brides. Definitely allow him to come with you to taste test, and if you're budget allows, allow him to choose the "second option" for a meal. A few weddings I've been to had a catered BBQ with smokers and the whole deal, which is something the groom really enjoyed. If your man has a favorite type of food or dish, it is a really sweet way to honor him by pulling out all the stops and getting the food he loves. After all, the way to a man's heart.... 

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    HE WANTS TO INCLUDE HIS FRIENDS

    One bride told me that her groom asked specifically to have a head table as opposed to a sweetheart table. This may seem like an oddly specific thing for a groom to have a preference on, but it really makes sense when you think about the relationships he has with his groomsmen. This likely may be the last time all of them get together to spend an entire day making memories, so be sure to ask your groom how he wants to honor his friends.

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    HE WANTS TO HAVE FUN

    It's said that the ceremony "belongs to the bride" and the reception "belongs to the groom". While that may not be true (you just read why!), so many grooms definitely care about music. This might be a great responsibility to hand off to your fiancé, allowing him to talk with the DJ's and select the music that's important to him. A good DJ can make or break the reception, and if you're hosting your friends and family for the most epic party ever, your hubby wants to be sure that everyone is having fun.

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    HE REALLY DOES CARE ABOUT EVERYTHING

    You know why grooms actually DO care about most things in the wedding process, even if they don't vocalize it? Because they care about YOU. If it's important to you, the man who loves you will count it important as well. While it's really important to do as much of your planning TOGETHER as you can, plan to take some time AWAY from planning together too. Trust me on this, the rest of your life will be a struggle to carve out quality time and have conversations that aren't centered around what you need from the grocery store. Step away from the details and logistics every once in a while and just take time to connect. It's conversations like this that made you fall in love in the first place, after all.

    Thank you to all the brides who participated in the bridal survey! The winner of the free session will be drawn later this week! And if you missed the entry period, don't worry. You can catch it again next year! Don't forget about the other special I'm running through March! Read about it below!


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    YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD WITH A PHOTO SESSION! My sweet friend Jessie Duca is going Lilongwe, Malawi this summer to work with Mission SOS International! They will be preaching the gospel, healing the sick and sharing the love of Jesus with the people there through outreach, drama, dance, and festivals! When you book an hour session during February or March and you mention this post, 100% of your session fee goes to Jessie and her trip!


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    Why Styled Shoots are Important For Your Wedding | Winter Wedding Styled Shoot at The Barn at Rayne Run, Marion Center PA
     @Jill Gearhart Photography | www.jillgearhartphotography.com

    When planning your wedding, do you rely on your friends recommendations, a google search, local magazines, or maybe bridal shows to find the best vendors? How can you be really sure that you are getting the best of the best, while still getting a good price for your area? It's become more and more popular for photographers and other local vendors to participate in "styled shoots", that is, a fake wedding that pulls together the best local wedding vendors to show off their services in as "real" of a setting you can get!

    Styled shoots are great for you to look out for and pay attention to because it literally shows you a "trial run" of all the best, hand selected vendors in your area. Who better to pick a team of super services that those that are in constant community with each other in the wedding industry? As wedding professionals, we have worked with nearly every local vendor there is and can recommend the best to you through our styled shoots - because we picked them ourselves! For the guys reading this - think of it like your fantasy football draft of all the best wedding vendors in town, and they are facing off to show you their stuff!

    The idea is that local vendors all come together in collaboration, donating time and services, to show you, the bride to be, the best of what they can do or offer. It's better than a recommendation, search engine session, perusing a magazine, or waltzing around a bridal show because you can see exactly what your wedding would be like if you were to hire them.

    My great friend Jackie and I have been planning this styled shoot for months! We were over-the-moon excited when vendors one by one gave enthusiastic "yes!"s to help us pull off an unforgettable day! Be sure to check out the local vendors, hand selected by us for their excellent services, for your wedding, and be sure to like them on facebook and give them a follow on Instagram!


    Photographers: J.Jae Photography + Jill Gearhart Photography

    Venue: The Barn at Rayne Run

    Rental Furniture: Penn Rustics

    Gown: White Lace Bridal featuring Stella York

    Shoes: Jewel by Badgley Mischka

    Tuxedo: The 700 Shop  featuring Stephen Geoffrey

    Jewelry: Luxenberg's Jewlers

    Florals: The Flower Gallery

    Calligraphy/Invitation Suite: Wood+Grace Calligraphy

    Hair: JC Penney

    Makeup : Beth Arnold

    Tablescape: The Gathering Co. by Carolyn Carey + Hollie Davis

    Models: Adam + Tara Maruca

    Evergreen Swing and overall awesome manly help: Ryan Anderson


     @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
     @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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