Wedding photography

Katlyn and Justin Wedding (The Barns at Chip Ridge)

I was so excited when I received a message from Katlyn. I was good friends with her fiancé when we were kids. Growing up I remember hanging out with his whole family after church. I think it’s cool how God can bring people back into your life at the perfect time. I was told it would be a normal church wedding but that changed when Katlyn’s dad surprised her by booking the venue Barns at Chip Ridge. I’ve mainly done church weddings so I was super excited to have a chance to take pictures at a beautiful venue. When I first heard the news I rushed to google pictures of the venue and I was blown away. To say I wasn’t nervous would be a lie. However, I knew I was going to do everything I could to make this day special for them and capture some of my best work.

We planned our double date at Cracker Barrel to go over wedding details and to get to know each other. Justin and I quickly picked up where we left off many years ago. It was so awesome to see how he has grown over the years. They told me that they met while they had worked at Wendy’s together. They had no idea that their relationship would turn into what it did. Their relationship started with a bang apparently as Justin almost killed her with his driving lol. They said it was snowing which made the road a little rough. Justin was saying he was surprised she didn’t break up with him when she got home. As I was chowing down on some of my favorite Chicken and Dumplings, my wife asked Katlyn how Justin purposed. She was telling us that she was actually mad at him that day. Apparently there was supposed to be a church revival that day but Justin was telling her he couldn’t make it. She was confused because it was raining but he said he had to help build a fence. Little did she know that it was a setup. When she got there she saw Justin waiting for her and he proposed. There were decorations and signs setup for her. She was completely surprised and was excited to share the moment with her family who was also there. After many more stories and laughs we all finished up and headed back home.

It was finally the wedding day! Boy was it hot! Lol. I arrived at the venue and started taking detail shots. Everyone around was so friendly and helpful the whole day; always offering to help and an overall very inviting atmosphere. It was time for me to do some getting ready shots and man it was hot! Not sure how everyone didn’t pass out from the heat. AC on full blast didn’t even seem to help as it was still very hot. Both of the bridal parties refused to let it take away from the experience though. There were laughs all around and many good stories. Once I finished up with all of the groom’s party photos I was getting ready for all the ladies in their dresses. I quickly found Paul, Katlyn’s dad, and asked if he had seen his daughter yet in her dress. He told me he hadn’t so I got super excited! I got him to stand around the corner and wait so he couldn’t see her come down. I asked him if he thought he would cry when he saw her and he said “Nah, I doubt it.” I got Katlyn closeby then told him to come around the corner. I think we all cried in that moment. I was very excited to capture that moment and probably one of the most beautiful memories I will never forget.

It was ceremony time and everyone was excited to finally see Katlyn and Justin get married. Other than everyone being blinded by the sun it was a perfect wedding. Everyone there could see how much they loved each other and everyone was very joyful for them. We got all of the family formal photos done and everyone headed inside to eat and cool off from the hot sun. After the bride and groom ate they cut the cake and then had their first dance. It was a very sweet and lovely moment that brought back memories of my wedding day. My wife and I only danced in front of 20-30 people and we were nervous. However, Justin and Katlyn danced in front of over a hundred people! I’m not sure how they did it so flawlessly and effortlessly. It was time for Paul and Katlyn to have their father daughter dance so I was ready to go. I knew Paul and myself were about to cry again lol. I captured many good photos and had some time to take a quick video. Very glad I did, it was a powerful statement to capture.

We finished the Bride and Groom portraits shortly before it was time to do a bubble exit. If you don’t know what that is then let me tell you. Its one of the funnest things you can do at a wedding lol. You get people to form two lines and blow bubbles in between the lines at the newlyweds. I got Justin and Katlyn to walk into the bubbles and captured some fun photos and video. It was so much fun and everyone was full of laughter. I got some of my favorite wedding photos so far! It was so fun except maybe for the bubbles coming at my eyes and mouth with a vengence I’ve never seen before lol! In all seriousness everyone done so well. I was so excited that everyone was wanting to blow bubbles and be a part of those shots. I will always remember how friendly and open everyone was there.

I want to thank Justin and Katlyn for allowing me to be there and celebrate their day with them! Every wedding I get to photograph changes how I see things. I realize it’s about moments like that and being with family and loved ones that really matters. Hopefully these photos and video show you all how perfect this wedding was. Excited to watch Justin and Katlyn seek the Lord together. :)


The Barns at Chip Ridge


14235 Branch Street

Abingdon, VA 24210


What's a First Look? Should You Have One?

I wanted to make a blog to educate brides and grooms on what a first look is. The funny thing is I had no idea what it was before I got into photography. Close to half of the brides I talk to usually haven't heard about first looks. My goal for this blog is for you to know what it is and if it's right for you. I'm going to give you some pros and cons of having a First Look so you can make an educated decision. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide so never feel pressured or forced to have one.


What a "First Look" is:


First, I want to tell you what a First Look is. It's the time right after the bride and groom have gotten ready when they decide to meet at a secluded area. This is an area where the photographer usually decides on that has really good lighting and is very appeasing to the eyes. The first look is often just the Bride, Groom, and photographer/videographer. It's a more intimate moment because it takes away all of eyes that would be staring at you. Usually the First Look starts by having the groom facing the opposite direction of the bride. Once the photographer tells the groom not to turn around, the photographer then leads the bride to the groom. The bride then touches the groom shoulder and that's when he turns around. Some bride and grooms decide to have photos and video of the whole First Look. Now that you know what a First Look is lets get into some pros and cons.


The pros of having one:


1. Intimate

First Looks are so intimate because it's just the bride, groom, and a camera. There aren't many eyes staring them down. There isn't any screaming children or anything to draw attention away from the moment. Also some men and women hate showing emotion in front of others so this allows them both to feel comfortable showing emotion. I know us guys like to act tough and hold it together but when it's just us and our lady that's when we let our guard down typically. It also gives the bride and groom time to talk and just enjoy the moment. During the ceremony once they see each other the ceremony proceeds to start. A First Look stops everything for just a moment so they can just spend time together.

2. Less picture taking after the ceremony

After a First Look the photographer then does the Bride and Groom portrait session. This will get that out of the way earlier so after the ceremony you can go straight to partying at the reception. After the bride and groom portraits, if the photographer also does the bridal party or family portraits, you can just relax the whole time and take everything in. If not then the only thing you have to do after the wedding is family portraits and bridal party and then you get to party. That is better than being in pictures for 45 minutes or longer right after the wedding. Doing this also saves your guests from waiting for you at the reception for too long. Obviously it's your wedding so they shouldn't have a problem waiting anyway though.

3. Controlled environment plus more time

The photographer picks the place for the first look so you can bet it's going to have perfect lighting and everything is going to be well controlled. During the walk down the aisle it could be dark, someone could be in the way, or etc. Obviously a photographer will be in a good spot beforehand but light and other factors could be a problem. A controlled environment means everything is planned out and all parties are ready. Also doing this means the bride and groom get more pictures together. What if after the ceremony it starts raining or the weather turns sour? That means less pictures of you. However, after the First Look it's just the bride and groom getting as many pictures as possible. No one is waiting around or distracting the couple.


The cons of having one:


1. Your wedding day starts earlier

Since the First Look and the bride and groom pictures are happening before the ceremony this means you have to get an earlier start. This means at least an hour less of sleep unless you can go to bed earlier. You have to make sure you both are all dressed and ready to go at least an hour before the ceremony. That way you have an hour to do a First Look and the bride and groom portraits beforehand. If you also do family portraits afterwards then you might need to give yourself even more time.

2. Prevents family from seeing actual first look

Doing a private First Look means both families won't see the actual first time the groom sees the bride. If this bothers you then you might not want to do a first look.

3. It's not traditional

First looks aren't traditional so your family might not like it. Some families are heavy on tradition while some are laid back. If some family members get upset or just do not prefer it and that bothers you then you might not want to do it. Remember, it is your wedding so carefully think on what will make you both the happiest.




At the end of the day it's your wedding day. Do what you two want and not what someone else is forcing. If the pros for you are way more beneficial then do it. If any of the cons would really effect you both then don't do it. Regardless if you do one or not your wedding is going to be a special day that you remember for the rest of your life. Also be sure to watch some YouTube videos on First Looks. See what they look like and hear what brides thought afterwards. You can never do too much research.



First Look Photo