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SUPPORTING #DEFENDCVILLE

Hi friends,

Many of you know that I was in Charlottesville yesterday, August 12th, as part of an anti-fascist demonstration against the Neo-Nazi/white nationalist gathering "Unite the Right." Everyone in my group made it home un(physically)scathed, but not everyone was so lucky. If you want to contribute but aren't sure how/where, here's a list of resources/ways to get involved that I will try to keep updated. Thank you all so much for the love and support.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

IN-PERSON SUPPORT

THINGS TO READ

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Three Things To Do Before Your Engagement/Couples' Shoot

Photo by Wojtek of Voytek London Wedding Photography

Photo by Wojtek of Voytek London Wedding Photography

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to present at SNAP Photo Festival as part of the Catalyst team and while teaching about how to break out of traditional gender roles when working with couples was AWESOME, I was blown away by how much I learned from the other teachers and my fellow photographers. (Thanks Wojtek of Voytek London Wedding Photography for the photo of my class! I'm hiding on the far left)

Post-SNAP, one of the things I'm really inspired to push myself further on is engagement/couples' sessions. As someone who hates being photographed myself, I'm excited to start fine-tuning my process in order to create the MOST fun experience -- and the MOST beautiful, true-to-who-you-are photos.

SO as a starting point, I'm sharing my three best engagement/couples' session prep tips. I'm planning to share this article with my future couples so they know what to expect and how to get the most out of our time together, but hopefully it can be helpful to others as well!

THREE TIPS FOR RAD ENGAGEMENT/COUPLES' PHOTOS

1. Plan what you will wear. I'm often asked what a couple should wear for a photo session, and I love to respond with the not-super-helpful "whatever makes you feel fab!" but that is really the most important part. You don't have to worry about "matching" each other, color-wise, but instead try to plan outfits that are comparably fancy (or not-fancy). For example, if one of you is wearing a cocktail dress, the other should avoid a beachy maxi dress. Or if one person is wearing cargo shorts and a polo shirt, the other should go for something more casual than a suit and tie. Other general tips: opt for solid colors whenever possible, avoid logos and items with words on them, and wear comfortable shoes. 

2. Fuck expectations. Overwhelmed with the amount of "should"s involved in this process? Guess what: fuck 'em. Are you dying to wear androgynous clothes but think you "should" be more femme/masculine? Fuck it. Do you hate getting bug bites but feel like you "should" do your photos in an epic meadow of wildflowers? Fuck it. In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, there are countless poses and themes to emulate; we're not copying those. Instead, we'll go someplace you like (Art museum? Farm? Cafe? Mountaintop?), and do something you like (Look at art? Milk cows? Drink coffee? Fireside sing-a-long?) and I'll take photos. There's usually some off-roading, some go-stand-over-there-no-wait-over-there-ing, and we'll probably play some silly games. The goal of the session is to capture your relationship in a series of photographs, so the only thing you should be worried about is being yourselves, in love -- not trying to recreate something from the internet or doing what you feel obligated to do.

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3. Mentally prepare to get be in front of a camera (and ignore it). My engagement/couples' sessions are designed to feel more like a fun date (albeit with a third wheel) than a cheesy posing experience, so my priority is to help you forget about the camera and enjoy one another. In most cases, that means you'll be squeezing/snuggling/smooching/hand-holding/etc quite a bit, but I promise if you go with the flow and focus on each other, it won't be as awkward as it sounds. Remember: a (consensual) butt grab is always appropriate. If you're extra nervous and are a person who enjoys adult refreshments, it can help to partake--in moderation!--beforehand. If you're more of a meditation person, that also works. 

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That's it! I'll help you find a good spot, advise on the best time of day, and bring my camera. If you're wearing something that gives you some swagger, not worrying about doing it "right," and focusing on loving each other, you're golden. 

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Patricia and Sammy

There were too many luscious details at Patricia and Sammy's wedding to mention them all, but if you saw the photos up there you probably already guessed that. Because their home base is NYC and they have lots of family living abroad, the entire ceremony was live streamed for international/east coast friends and family who couldn't make the trek. Each element of the celebration was thoughtfully blended: it was a little bit glam (that gown!), a little bit pool party (that gown underwater!); a little bit Dominican (Patricia's side), a little bit Egyptian (Sammy's side); a little bit cozy and warm (hookah and s'mores station) and a little bit chic and funky (Patricia's blue hair)!  

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WELL THIS SUCKS.

It happened nine days ago, but I'm still struggling to accept that DJT has been elected president. I have spent much of these nine days--with the exception of a weekend facilitating Catalyst's (un)convention at the Quirk Hotel--lying in bed or wandering like a zombie around my house. I've felt mostly numb trying to wrap my mind around this new reality. Trying to adjust to the confirmation that hatred, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia, and disrespect for basically everyone except American-born straight white men aren't only present in our country (DUH) but are powerful and admirable assets.

This shit is devastating, yet predictable. This sucks.

I've seen a lot of amazing critiques from (queer) women of color calling out (white, straight) women like me for the newness of this revelation; many point out that oppression isn't as salient to us when it doesn't directly affect us, but now that Trump has come for all women (in addition to hating on every other minority group), we care. Y'all are 100% right, and I'm sorry. Part of working to be an ally is recognizing my weaknesses and trying to improve in the ways that I can. So instead of sulking around the house more, I'm ready to get shit done. I'm ready to cultivate my own hopefulness through my very own actions. Here's what I've got planned so far:

  1. Organizing a bus of folks to attend the Million Woman March in DC the day after inauguration. We will be doing pre-march get togethers at my house for sign/banner/tshirt making, and training everyone on how to safely demonstrate. We will pay special attention to how the white folks in our group can be active allies during these types of events.
  2. Stocking up on healthcare-related items and non-perishable foodstuffs in the event that access to healthcare or EBT/food stamps is diminished/eliminated. This includes Plan B (emergency contraception).
  3. Doing my very best to take action beyond the internet as much as possible, and not allowing myself to get too worn down by this administration, despite knowing that that's their goal (to tire us out). This includes calling my representatives, talking to my friends and family (especially the conservative ones), confronting hatred whenever possible (including racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic/xenophobic/ableist microaggressions) and not being afraid to be "that girl" in my personal or professional life.
  4. Accepting feedback and criticism gratefully. 

It still feels hard and a little wrong to share blissful beautiful things on this blog and on social media. I'm hoping that changes soon. When it does, though, don't worry: I'm not forgetting all the work we have to do. I'm not forgetting how awful it is that we elected a narcissistic sex criminal to the white house. I'm just trying to share some love across the airwaves. 


With so much love to all of you who are also struggling,
Carly


**I want to send a special thank you to all my clients/friends who have had to wait extra time for their images over the past couple weeks. Kathryn + Nick, Camille + Mitchell + Ollie, Hannah + Everett, Seo, Evan + Emily, Ashley + Charlie: I love you. I really appreciate your patience and I hope the photos will be worth the wait!**

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Photographs IRL: Why All C. Ro & Co. Couples Get Albums From Now On

Picture this: It's 1999, and 13-year-old Carly sobbing the entire ride home from Nerd Summer Camp, cradling a pile of disposable cameras in her lap, inconsolable until her parents promise to take her directly to Target's 1 Hour Photo desk. Hold that young woman in your mind, and then picture her 30-year-old-self's joy at finding a box of those same photographs buried in the attic and you'll start to get a feel for how strongly I feel about the power of physically printed photos. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful that technology has advanced in such a way that photography is so accessible and shareable; in many ways, it brings us closer together. But something about the printed image—the surrealism of seeing yourself half a lifetime ago, the physical sensation of holding a moment in your hands, the security of knowing that no matter how far technology advances, it won’t affect prints—is special.

After some soul searching, I've decided that in order to give Carly Romeo & Co couples the best experience possible, it's important to me that I include a physical album in all of my packages moving forward. The logic here is that sharing your photos through the internet is awesome, but having images of your celebration that actually live in your space is profoundly different. You can grab your album off the bookshelf and look at it on the couch when your relatives visit from out of town. You can bring your album over to your friend's house who couldn't make it to your wedding because of a family emergency. Your kids can touch your album with their grubby little loving fingers, and grow up in a household decorated with prints that display your commitment to love and community. I want your future selves to treasure your album and prints like I treasure my summer camp photos. 

Of course, past couples can also benefit from this epiphany - so keep an eye out for some holiday album and print specials I'll be running. Those of you who never got around to printing your photos (or who did, but want even more) will be able to gift yourselves a nice album or framed print which I hope you enjoy for years to come. 


TL;DR: When I first started my photography business, I did a lot of research about different business models and all the services and products photographers offer the couples and families they work with. My gut instinct was to avoid feeling “salesy” and focus on providing digital files for my couples along with a personal use print license so that they could print their images however they want, and I still believe in that freedom to choose how and where to print. That being said: after seeing (and experiencing) the joy that printed photographs bring year after year, as time wears on, computers stop being made with CD drives, and thumbdrives are lost, I am committed to including a physical album and a printing credit as part of all of my packages moving forward.  

Oldest known photo of me and my boo, circa summer 2001?

Oldest known photo of me and my boo, circa summer 2001?

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Fall 2016 Mix Tape

It feels cliché to say, but music has always been a really important part of my life: I grew up looking through my dad's collection of 1000+ vinyl records and rocking out to classics like The Jackson 5, Paul Simon, and Fleetwood Mac. Now that we all have millions of songs at our fingertips, it can be kind of overwhelming to try to sift through the detritus and find the songs and artists who really speak to you. This fall, I'm dedicating more time to finding music that makes me feel things: the determination to finish a hard workout, the good vibes to turn a grumpy day around, the reassurance that you're not alone in sad moments, the extra dash of delight when you find the perfect song to blast with friends. Here are twelve tunes that are on heavy rotation right now. 

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laura + dean // norfolk, va

Every wedding is beautiful, but some weddings have elements that stick with you for months and months afterward. Laura and Dean's wedding was one of those gets-in-your-heart-and-stays-there types of weddings. Favorite details included: they intentionally only hired women- and/or LGBTQ-owned business as their vendors; Laura specifically requested that guests not stand when she walked down the aisle (badass feminist bride much??); a wedding ceremony that included a reading of Brandi Carlile lyrics; and a bright blue vintage VW "getaway van." Thank you for inviting us to document such a beautiful, sweaty-dance-party celebration, you two! 

Check the vendor list at the bottom for details, including where she got that killer dress.
Second/support shooting provided by Shawnee Custalow



VENDORS

Venue: Hermitage Museum & Gardens
Planner: Tanya Keller @ Jane of All Trades

Caterer:  East Beach Catering 
Event Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals
Florist: Laurel & Sarah @ New Leaf 
Baker:  Incredible Edibles 
Dress: Reem Acra
Suit: Suit Supply

Quartet: Harbor String Quartet 
DJ:  Roger @ Astro Entertainment DJ 
Makeup: Blushtones
Hair:  Flawless 
Videographer: The Girl Tyler 
Paper Products/Graphic Design: Pat @ Pat Squared Design (Laura's Mom!!)

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Why TSP became Carly Romeo and Co [+ GIVEAWAY]

Hello dear friends! Over the past month or so, you may have noticed that a couple things are looking different around here— specifically, a brand-new name, URL, color scheme, and logo (those last two courtesy of Flight Design Co). I’ve been telling myself for just as long (if not longer) that I should write about why and how this change came about, but have been putting it off in favor of editing piles of weddings (with a few family sessions and travel stuff thrown in there). But the time has officially come for me to share with all the world:

Two Spoons Photography has become Carly Romeo and Co! And to celebrate, we're doing a giveaway!

I’m embarrassed to admit that despite being an ardent feminist and lifelong loudmouth type, when I started TSP I was too scared to name my company after myself. It felt conceited to me, even though I know and love plenty of other companies that are named after their founder(s), to which I don’t ascribe that narcissism. I was afraid that people would think I'm self-obsessed; I was afraid that by making my name into “my brand,” I would be inviting scrutiny and pressure that I would prefer to avoid (designer Emily McDowell touches on this in her essay about this topic, which basically advises to not do precisely what I’ve done). Ultimately, I chose a name that was meaningful to me (Two Spoons refers to a tattoo that I share with my best friend Steph). It was cute, memorable, and comfy. And it worked for a while.

In March of 2015, I was about to start my second full-time year of shooting weddings when I met my now-friend, musician Marie Danielle. Marie is a gifted singer and songwriter, and she invited me to join her in Woodstock, NY to capture some behind-the-scenes photos as she recorded her first full album (which happened to be produced by one of my favorite musicians, Simone Felice.) I leaped at the opportunity and spent a few days completely out of my (photography) comfort zone. It was an experience that still sticks with me, a magical creative process on many levels. The only problem was that I didn’t want to tell anyone that my photography business was called “Two Spoons Photography” — it felt cutesy and un-serious. She used some photos from that time on the album art, and I’m credited on as just my name, but that first sense of discomfort started the ball rolling towards a transformation.

Unfortunately like most things having to do with small business ownership, changing the name wasn’t an easy decision to make. I sought the advice of trusted friends and fellow bosses, and had many debates. Some folks thought the TSP name was unique and colorful; some preferred “Carly Romeo Photography” or “Carly Romeo Studios” or simply “Carly Romeo.” 

I wish I could tell you about an AHA! moment that pointed to Carly Romeo and Co but the truth is that there were many factors that got us here. Three main reasons are:

  • I wanted my company name to give me space to work on other projects besides specifically photography, including mentoring and producing events.
  • I wanted my company name to be inclusive of other folks that may someday join the team. 
  • I actually really love my name (despite the lifelong “wherefore art thou” jokes….yuk yuk) and think that it’s memorable enough, as far as names go, to carry some weight.

So there you have it! Carly Romeo and Co will still be providing feminist, inclusive, no-bullshit wedding photography services for the foreseeable future, and you just might see some new projects popping up as well! 


GIVEAWAY

To celebrate this new chapter, we're doing our first-ever GIVEAWAY! Here are the details:

PRIZES
FIRST PRIZE: One free couples, engagement, anniversary or family photography session by Carly Romeo - $500 value. The session will last approximately two hours and you will receive no fewer than fifty photos. Travel fee not included. 
SECOND PRIZE: "Carly's Favorite Things" Box of Treats created with help from Vessel Brooklyn - $200 value. Goodies include items from Aesop, Fig + Yarrow, Nunu Chocolates, and more! 

HOW TO ENTER

  1. Sign up for our new mailing list, above! We promise not to spam you.
  2. Like us on Facebook
  3. Follow us on Instagram

NITTY GRITTY
One entry per person; entries will be accepted from September 5, 2016 until 11:59pm on September 13, 2016. Winners will be selected at random on September 14, 2016 and must have completed all three requirements to be eligible to win.

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#BLACKLIVESMATTER and Minding Your Business

Ugh. This week sucks. I’ve talked to so many folks in my community over the past few days — as much as possible despite being abroad until last night — and the exhaustion, fear, anguish, and utter despair can’t be overstated. I keep wanting to write that my heart breaks for the black community, but that centers my experience too much. My heart isn’t the point. My sadness isn’t the point. The point is that BLACK LIVES MATTER and white folks need to get on board or get out of the way. 

So in that spirit, this is a post for all my fellow white business owners. Every article I’ve read and conversation I’ve had about how to join this fight in an effective, meaningful way advises: BE VOCAL. TAKE PART. Many of you have done that, in private. You are upset. You are reading and sharing articles. You are offering words of support. But not on your business accounts. Not on your websites. And while, yes, online activism can only go so far, I urge you all to do more.

Here are a few common reasons I’ve heard from friends and colleagues who say they are supportive of the movement but don’t post in support of #BlackLivesMatter on their online business platforms.

  1. “My business is meant to serve my clients/audience, not be political.”
    Making a pro-#BlackLivesMatter post on your business page and as a business owner does serve your clients. It might not serve all of them (e.g. the #AllLivesMatter types or the people who are lucky enough to be able to be ignoring this whole hot mess) but it will serve the ones who are personally affected by the continued violence against the black community. And those are the people who want to be seen. Standing in solidarity with them is an important service to your clients/audience. It’s not the be-all, end-all of helpfulness, but it makes a difference to stand up and say, “I hear you. I see you. Your struggle matters." And although some people do think it's radical to insist that black lives really do matter, it’s not the same as endorsing a candidate for office. That would be an issue of politics; this is an issue of basic human rights. 
     
  2. “I don’t want to alienate people”
    Similar to #1, this comment means that some folks in your audience feeling uncomfortable/abandoning your business is something that concerns you more than being a vocal advocate for justice. You already know that the movement is real and necessary. I saw your awesome Facebook post on your personal page eviscerating the naysayers. I know you know that #BLM is essential and legitimate. So why won’t you be supportive on your larger, public platform? Are you afraid of people un-following your page or not booking you because they disagree about whether or not black lives matter? Would you really want to work with someone who denies that systemic racism is enabling these murders? Let them go. It's a part of white privilege that our fear, when considering speaking out, is merely losing customers.
     
  3. “I’m afraid I will say the wrong thing”
    You don’t have to say much. You can just say #BlackLivesMatter. You can just say their names. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown (to name a few). Just don’t be silent. We have the capacity to reach so many more people through our businesses — past and future clients, their families, their friends. And because of our whiteness, we are more likely to be listened to by fellow white people (sad, but true). So let's be the leaders in these conversations.
     
  4. "I don’t want to co-opt another group’s movement."
    OK, then don’t co-opt. Be a voice of support and don’t make it about you. Make it about your friends, family, clients, and strangers who are denied basic freedom that we white people experience, simply because of the color of their skin and the racist fuckery that our country was founded on. 
     
  5. "It won't make a difference."
    You are partially right: online activism can only go so far. But I believe that white folks need to be vocal wherever we can. Start conversations with other white folks about privilege, racism, and oppression. Call other white folks in (or out) when you see bullshit. And strive to make sure your concern for justice trumps your concern for white fragility. Here are a few lists (one, two, three) of more things that white people can do to help support the movement beyond being vocal online. 

 

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emily + sam // richmond, va

Anyone who has spent time in the land of wedding photography knows that most weddings found on the internet (blogs, photographer websites, etc) share the common qualities of being pristinely curated, insanely expensive, production-value-aware, and seemingly perfect. But these are not the things that make our hearts go pitter-patter. Instead, we are excited by the low-key, the simple, and the gorgeously un-perfect. When Emily and Sam came to the studio to talk about us shooting their wedding day, which consisted of a 30-guest ceremony at a local park and a stroll back to their home where the reception would be held, I was so excited I could burst. I knew that their celebration would be beautiful, but I also knew it wasn't going to be all about the perfect shot of her engagement ring emerging from a flower (WHY) or an overly-polished, strict-to-the-minute timeline. Their wedding day was relaxed. It was honest. It embraced and celebrated the work-in-progress spirit of their home (and their relationship). It included a special, sacred, personal portion of the ceremony during which photography was not allowed--even by me (and I wasn't mad about it). It was exactly the kind of thing I started shooting weddings to be part of: personal, un-fussy, and romantic in its realism. I am so excited to share their day as my first 2016 wedding on the blog.

// c

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