Thursday, April 23, 2009

Need a Wedding Photographer?

If that's an affirmative - we're glad to help!

But you can't visit our wedding-website right now. We plan to be back online soon, so till then, feel free to browse balance's other portfolios and check out the wedding pix we have on our Flickr account!

Gracias ~

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Notes from one of our Beauties...

And now... a blog from one of our boudoir clients!

I remember when I first came across the Balance Boudoir website and thought to myself, "This is perfect!" What better gift to give your man than a book full of beautiful photos! Once I met Rissa, I felt totally comfortable and trusted she would make the experience exactly what I wanted. Obviously I had a lot of work to do, so I planned my boudoir shoot for about 3 months after the consultation. I planned on doing 3 different looks for approximately 2-3 hours.

Besides being nervous, I was completely obsessed with how my body would look in pictures like these. I am your average girl with those "certain areas" I don't love so much. I really put myself in gear by working out 4-5 days a week, keeping up with my hair & nails and tanning. 

An extra boost was a Body Lift wrap I got the Friday before the shoot at Wraptured which helped me tighten up & tone all over. It really made a difference! Then morning of the shoot, I made sure to shave extremely well and lotion up - I was so excited, the day had arrived!

My excuse for my fiance was that I was participating in a walk-a-thon (which by the way, works like a charm!) So I planned my shoot for a Sunday morning and he didn't suspect a thing. I have to admit my stomach was in my throat. It took me pretty much the whole first look to begin feeling comfortable. But Rissa & Ashley (Up Do's for I Do's) were so down to earth and we just talked and laughed the whole time. They really helped pose me and direct me in what would look best, because I had no clue whatsoever! I did the shoot at Rissa's place & you'd never know it from the photos. She really came up with unique ideas and poses and made sure I was comfortable. It was so much fun and before I knew it, I was done!

When I saw the pictures, I couldn't believe it. Really could not believe it! I couldn't even believe that it was me. They were absolutely amazing and all my worrying & hard work had paid off.

My advice to any girl considering this is:
#1 - DO IT!! If you're nervous, self-conscious, unsure... Trust me. It's totally worth it.
#2 - Do what you can. Obviously you want to look your best for a shoot like this, but don't kill yourself. Just make sure you take care of your body inside and out. 
#3 - Try to loosen up. I wish I would have been a little less nervous, because I felt so stiff at the beginning. Just remember it's normal to feel nervous but trust Rissa & the girls to help you pose in positions that make you look GREAT!
And lastly #4 - just think of how much your fiance/husband/boyfriend will LOVE this gift! There is nothing he would like more, I am pretty sure about that. It's a special experience that he will love and it will boost your confidence in the process.

I could not be more satisfied with this experience. From the hair & makeup to the comforting support throughout the shoot up until the final product, it was so much fun and so worth the time & money. 

Believe that you are beautiful and definitely put a Balance Boudoir photo shoot at the top of your 'To Do' list!! 

Thank you so much!! 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tasty Catonsville

So, for the past several years, I’ve been juggling around the idea of  “what do I want to do when I grow up,” meaning what category of photography am I most interested in turning into a career after college? For years, “photography” is as far as I got. I eventually had my sights set on doing  newspaper photojournalism. THEN, I met Rissa and Nathaniel, and documentary wedding photography, a type of photojournalism that was strange and new, yet  fascinating to me, came into the picture.

Now I’ve worked with balance photography for over a year, and I’ve assisted “I don’t even know how many”  weddings, but I would have never guessed my sweet tooth would guide me on my career path. Funny enough, weddings brought me to wedding cake, which brought me to food photography, the category I love best so far in the world of photography.

 The Candlelight Inn

Knowing where my enthusiasm lays, food, Rissa and Nathaniel have been amazing enough to grant me as many opportunities in photographing cakes and entrees at weddings as possible. And this past February, they gave me another chance to practice my passion.

The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce (GCCC) asked balance to do the photography for  the upcoming Taste of Catonsville event. To prepare for this event, it was necessary to get photographs of all the restaurants and an entrée they’d want to “show off” for various areas of advertising. So, one night after work, they sat down to tell me they’d like me to organize and photograph the first set of restaurants, which added up to 15 restaurants! It literally took my breath away.  They were letting me out on my own - they had faith in me - and I like to think I was the little bird being pushed out of the nest, praying I could fly.

Indian Delight

Like I said earlier, I’ve worked with Rissa and Nathaniel for a while, but I’ve never had the responsibility of organizing my own project, and this was certainly a big first project. My job was to call each restaurant, somehow reach a busy manager or owner and make an appointment to stop by and make pictures of the dish they wanted to feature. So I'd call. Call again. And eventually get someone to help me make the appointment.

The Catonsville Gourmet

Once I made an appointment, all the while making 14 other appointments at the same time, I waited in anticipation for shoots to begin, and this all occurred in just a couple of weeks. My visits were always pleasant, and a full learning experience. I was part of the food industry for a moment. I handled the business world on my own, I networked, made friends, and most of all, I got to meet people who loved what they do, whether it was working over the stove, decorating the entrée, managing the restaurant, or taking the pictures of it all.

I could not have asked for anything better. And I'm so proud of the pictures I created. They will be used in the program for the Taste of Catonsville and have been printer on flyers and currently are the main feature in the GCCC's display window at 1002 Frederick Rd in downtown Catonsville.

The Rumor Mill

All in all, there are 25 restaurants featured in the Taste of Catonsville. The list includes The Candlelight Inn, the Catonsville Gourmet, Cafe on the Grove, Dimitri's International Grill, Edible Arrangements, El Nayar, G.L. Shacks, House of Audrey, Indian Delight, Jennings Cafe, the Rumor Mill, Ships Cafe, Tiffany's, Chef Paolino's, Duesenberg's - An American Cafe, Lucy's Paradise Cafe, Spicy Garden, Sugarbakers, Moontimes Cafe, Prime Central Sandwich,Catonsville Village Bakery, Sam's Bagels, Whitehouse Catering @ Overhills Mansion, McDonald's and The Rolling Road Country Club.

El Nayar

The Taste of Catonsville will be held at the Rolling Road Country Club on Monday April 20th from 5pm to 7:30pm. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. It's the kick-off event for Restaurant Week in Catonsville and I have to say, having sampled the goods at so many Catonsville eateries - I can't wait!

See you there!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Romance at The Colony

When we were in Florida recently, we had the pleasure of shooting at a West Palm Beach landmark, The Colony Hotel on Hammon Avenue. It was the epitome of Palm Beach posh ~ extremely elegant, beautiful ~ obviously for those with discriminating taste. Like gorgeous couple Marissa & Rudy, whose wedding portraits were taken there.

Marissa's hair and make-up were done by Ashley, from Up Do's for I Do's. Her jewelry was created by Kim Reyes Wearable Art and her dress was by Beaches, accented with a lavender silk sash. Ashley also made her birdcage veil! Ash, you're so multi-talented! Wow!

Marissa's bouquet of roses and delphiniums was created by the inimitable Carole from A Garden of Earthly Delights.

Groom Rudy was sporting clothes by Calvin Klein. He's also a professional model for Ford Agency! Cool job you have there, Rudy...

The Colony was an incredible backdrop for romantic wedding pictures. The lobby, ballroom, gardens and Presidential Suite were all stunning ~ each area was more incredible than the last! If you are in the Palm Beach area, you must check it out! If you a bride considering a destination wedding, I would highly recommend The Colony for a top-notch experience! They just completed a huge renovation and every aspect of the facility was amazing ~ from the ambiance to the service to the fantastic, manicured gardens!

~ Rissa

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dropping Our Drawers

Okay, maybe we aren't literally dropping our drawers, but we ladies @ balance are hard at work. We've been back in the boudoir, creating seductive gorgeous images for loads of girls these past few months. 

First, you've gotta go online and check out the new additions to our boudoir portfolio. Several beauties have been added and we think they look incredibly hot. One girl even posed outdoors in her sexy lingerie and jean cut-offs. 

Next, we're introducing a new package: The Uptown Girl. This new option is a step between the Fantasy Girl and the Supermodel, and is designed for girls who want a fabulous book, but aren't as into the idea of a calendar. The Uptown Girl includes a shoot with 6 changes of wardrobe, 3 looks of hair & make-up by a stylist from Up Do's for I Do's, all images on a proofing disc and pass-word protected viewing website as well as a classic black leather-bound 6x9 flush-mount (the Black Book) album featuring 20 pages of retouched photographs of you and a stunning 16x20 canvas wrap to display in your boudoir at home. The Uptown Girl is a stylish, timeless and exceedingly elegant option for your boudoir photo session. 

More news: Because all but two of our clients have added on false lashes in the past six months, we are now including lashes with the styling for every package. We love them because they really add an extra level of glam!

What better gift for your guy ~ or yourself ~ than a collection of sultry, sexy boudoir images ~ an intimate portrait of you!

~ Rissa

Vera Beautiful

During our recent trip to Florida, we were lucky enough to do several incredible photo shoots. One of my favorites was of bride Cece in her slinky, pale pink, silk Vera Wang gown and I wanted to share some of the images.

Cece's flowers were created by Carole from a Garden of Earthly Delights.

Her hair & make-up, as well as those of bridesmaids Lauren and Katie, were done by Ashley from Up Do's for I Do's.  All the girls are wearing pearl jewelry by both Kim Reyes Wearable Art and Kourtney Pulitzer. The pix were shot in downtown Delray Beach.

Cece and her girlfriends really captured the sunny spirit of southern Florida to me. They were gorgeous, glamorous and radiant.

~ Rissa


We attend a lot of events and one thing that is incredibly striking is the amount of waste involved. Weddings and parties create a lot of trash and are not usually very environmentally friendly. Experts say that the average wedding can create 14.5 lbs. of carbon ~ as much as the average American creates in an entire year. So that said, I'd think that anything, even one thing, you can do to be less wasteful would make a difference.

I know, I know ~ it's already overwhelming to plan a wedding, nevermind also trying to make your wedding eco-friendly.  But you don't have to be a dirty hippie to have a greener wedding. Seriously! It can still be chic, upscale and downright gorgeous ~ while having less impact on the Earth.

We've seen lots of great ideas at real weddings as well in magazines and at wedding shows. Last spring one our brides used potted magnolias as her table centerpieces, and folks were able to take them home and enjoy them. Several of our brides last year decided against favors and instead used that part of their budget to make a donation to local charities.

Here are some more great, greener ideas...

* Look for reusable items as decor. Potted plants and flowers are one idea. You could try stylish glass cylinders of  live goldfish as centerpieces, or artfully arranged fruit. All of which can be given away to guests.

* Rent as much as you can ~ things like linens, vases, chairs, tables, plates/glasses/silverware. It can be reused and you won't be stuck with 25 matching vases to store in the attic.

* Instead of traditional paraffin candles, use beeswax or soy candles. They are readily available everywhere now, even Target and Kohl's!

* Use recycled paper for all your invitations, place cards, menus, announcements and other stationary. Consider an online RSVP through your wedding website to cut back on paper. Many designers also offer stationary printed with soy and veggie based inks, which are as bright and clear as any traditional ink.

* Search for florists that source their flowers locally and organically. And if you go with more traditional centerpieces, either give them away to guests or have a friend take them as donations to local nursing homes or hospitals, so folks can continue to enjoy them.

* Make a donation to charity instead of giving favors to your guests.

* Ask your caterer if they offer any organic food, or could source your ingredients locally. Inquire if your caterer and bartender if they can recycle food/drink containers. Finally, see if the caterer will box up leftovers from the reception to give away to family & friends instead of the food ending up in the trash. Waste not, want not. 

* Go with local or organic wines, liquors and beers for your bar. Maryland has many well-known vineyards and breweries  - and even an organic winery - Black Ankle Vineyards!

* Consider a dress made from organic silk. Canadian designer Adele Weschler offers an entire eco-couture line.

* Release butterflies, throw dried herbs or use live doves instead of sparklers for your send-off.

* Instead of going with the usual registries at Macy's or Bed Bath & Beyond, try an antique shop like Retropolitan in Ellicott City, or a store with eco-chic options, like Nest in Clarksville or bluehouse with locations in Inner Harbor East and Towson.

We are also lucky enough to work with several other vendors  who are committed to making events greener.  Carole at A Garden of Earthly Delights is very serious about eco-friendly weddings.  Paul at Dionysus' Kitchen was one of the first in the catering biz to offer local and organic options in menus. Michael at ZBest Limos can tell you about their new hybrid SUV limo options. Ellen at LoCoFlo offers only Maryland-grown flowers.

Another great green vendor is event planner Lori Hill.  Lori specializes in planning greener events and has shared some of her wonderful tips for brides: 

* Invitations ~
Print on 100% post consumer recycled paper that is non-chlorine bleached. Encourage guests to recycle their invitations. Use paper with embedded seeds so that guests can plant the invites and enjoy the flowers that grow from them. Use a reply postcard (no envelope) and forego the inner envelopes. Use corks from wine bottles as escort card holders. Instead of escort cards, stamp guests' names on stones.

* Transportation & Venue ~
Transport guests with hybrids or bio-diesel vehicles. Choose a destination that requires minimal travel. Encourage guests to use mass transit & provide information, passes and maps in guest packages. Choose a venue that requires few added decor items such as a botanical garden,  a farm or a seaside resort. Hold the ceremony and reception at one place to minimize driving.

*Decor ~
Use local, seasonal and/or organically grown  flowers that minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and eliminate cross-country shipping. Choose centerpieces and decorations such as living and/or flowering plants that can be reused.

* Food & Beverage ~
Work with caters who can provide locally & organically grown food, wine & liquor. Opt for vegetarian or vegan meal options. Provide filtered water served in glasses instead of bottled water. Ask the caterer to compost unusable leftovers or ship them to a local farm. Donate leftovers to a local shelter.

*Wardrobe ~
Consider vintage dresses for the bride and bridesmaid. Purchase vintage rings, or ones made from 100% recycled, reclaimed, responsible gold.

*Gifts ~
Provide guests with handmade gifts, such as pottery. In lieu of gifts for yourself, ask for donations to a favorite charity.

See... a greener wedding doesn't mean granola. All this should get you started and headed in the right direction. Happy planning & stay green !

~ Rissa

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Dreams Come True

There are people who like to vacation, and those who yearn to travel. Travelers love to delve into a new culture for the first time; to see new light at sunrise on the horizon, to taste new flavors, to exlpore the fabric of a society that makes up its individuality. To get lost in a place and a people, and embrace the unfamiliar.

I knew I was a traveler even at a young age. My parents took my brother and I on many vacations: together we explored over half of America as well as Canada, England, Scotland, France, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. At 17 I experienced my first solo adventure ~ a 60 mile canoe trip in Canada. There is nothing I love more than going to a new place for the first time. You see things differently in this first visit than you ever will again. No matter how many times you go back, it will never be like that first exploration. You truly see the place with new eyes, so to speak. And for more than a decade, it has been my dream to both travel and make pictures of the places I go.

Being a photographer marries perfectly with my dreams of travel. This year I have been lucky enough to travel or am going to travel all over the world. And I'm also lucky because now I can share some of it with you. I'm launching my first online gallery of fine art prints for sale. Hosted by two of our favorite companies, and Facebook! The site will be available only for the next four months at which time it will be replaced with an new online gallery from another locale.

Traveling renews my spirit and gives me an appreciation for both my destination and the familiarity of home. I hope you enjoy stepping off the beaten path as you explore my pictures from Costa Rica and can experience some of the magic of the rainforest for yourself.

Thanks for sharing in my dream --