Photographing a Wedding in Hawai’i: What to Wear

[My hair may have found it's way into a pony tail (the wind was INSANE) and my glasses aren't getting much use, but I was thankful I had slippahs in my bag that day! From put together to hitting the beach in a moment's notice, gotta always be Hawai'i ready! Thanks to Shannon Forbes for the photo]

You’ve got your gear packed and ready, memory cards formatted, and the family formals list snapped tightly to a clipboard. Everything is ready to go as your stare blankly at your closet “what do I wear?!?!?”. There are plenty aspects to shooting a wedding in Hawai’i that are different than other locations in the U.S. With varying terrain, quick changes in climate (okay, not HUGE changes, but there’s a possibility of some rain ya know) and a mix of styles and cultures, it’s important to dress for the occasion being comfortable and practical while still looking fab. While the standard “photographer’s uniform’” is considered all black pants and a blouse, I have heard stories of shooters being mistaken for the careering staff….and worse, split britches. Anytime I head out into public I want to present my best self…unless it’s a run to Target, then you’re getting my “did I just wake up or work out, you will never know” self. Everyone is different with their own personal style, and while I attend events I want to look put together and professional, feeling confident yet super comfy in my wardrobe choice.

Bag  |  Dress  |  Earrings  |  Bracelet  |  Necklace  |  Slippahs  |  Shoes  |  Hair  |  Watch

the Clothes: With typical trade winds, Hawai’i is breezy, but while working it’s easy to get smoldering hot…and not in an attractive way. That’s why I find it oh so important to wear a semi form-fitting dress (to prevent any breezy catastrophes) as well as a material that is lightweight and breathable. Covering yourself in baby powder when getting ready like Lebron tends to help prevent swvetzy. You’ll thank me for that one. Lots of people choose to wear black, which looks chic, however it’s personally not all I wear. Investing in a quality black dress makes for a versatile outfit to shoot in, but sometimes mixing it up with colors or prints is fun as well, especially since it’s Hawai’i! Just make sure it’s appropriate for the day’s attire and MOST of all isn’t the same hue as the Bridesmaid’s. When buying I look for a great fit that won’t billow in the breeze, a modest length (with lots of kneeling and working I need to wear and slip and don’t want to go flashing people!), and quality material that will hold up for multiple wears–but also won’t suffocate me. The dress and the shoes are where you want to invest, as these will be staple pieces in your wardrobe.

the Hair: Speaking of being hot, Photographers: good luck keeping your hair and make-up from melting off. I am considering posting on this one soon and great products to use to keep everything in place, but let’s just face it–there’s a good chance you’re going to be a sweaty mess at the end of the night no matter where you are shooting. I always seem to have the highest hopes for my hair, thinking it will look great down and today will be the day it won’t get all sticky but 15 minutes in I am wrong wrong wrongggg and my locks get tied into a low ponytail. From here on out, a stylish, low ‘do will work just great. With the soft winds that can turn to gusts mixed with humidity and sometimes passing showers, I find it’s the absolute most fool-proof look and still keeps you looking put-together.

the Shoes: Often times an event can start in a beautiful church or venue, lead to portraits on a volcanic rock cliff, can linger at thick, sandy beaches and can end in a glamorous ballroom. These changes in terrain are treacherous and hard to maneuver and with the wrong footwear can slow you down leaving you with mounds of sand stuck in your soles. In addition to supportive kicks it’s helpful to bring along some cheapo Surfahs or Locals to slip on. This flip flops (referred to as ‘slippahs’) have extra thick bottoms that protect your tootsies from the sharpest of rocks and won’t leave you devastated if they wind up busted (because they cost all of $3). For the rest of the day I opt for comfortable and stylish closed toed flats (unless it’s a casual beach ceremony, then I wear dressy sandals). I love metallic and wild prints or simple black with embellishments. It’s hard to find shoes that are supportive AND good looking which leads to many of pairs being fitted with custom orthotic inserts (I refuse to wear grandma shoes just for the comfort. I just… I just can’t…). This is ridiculous of me, considering I have a mean case of heels spurs AND plantar fasciitis, but my desire too look good over feeling good got me where I am today. On top of pretty J.Crew flats (that hold up beautifully), these Dexflex flats are cozy and affordable and THESE Orthopedic shoes are actually pretty cute and good to your arches. Worth the investment. Keeping Icy Hot in your bag or car for post wedding rub-downs helps aching feet, too.

the Bag:  I’m here to admit–I’m annoying particular. Not just any ole bag will do, it has to be my style and I’ve found with most ‘photographer specific’ bags I  haven’t found a fashionable fit, which led me to creating my own. While shooting I carry a lightweight, medium sized cross body bag (that’s metallic with studs! duh). It holds my film and memory cards cellphone and whatever else. With a simple top it’s roomy and easy to access and is super helpful on wedding days. It doesn’t have to be expensive, I snagged mine up at TJMAXX, just something that will hold all your necessities.

the Accessories: the best part of the look! I love to style my simple dresses up with giant lively jewelry, it’s the crux of my style. Statement necklaces are apart of my personal signature look, and I usually pair them with interesting studded earrings (since my hair is up) as well as simple, pretty bracelets (that are sure won’t snag the bride’s gown!). A watch is an absolute necessity for staying on track and not Hawai’i time.

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A True Birthday Gift : Back to Thailand

When I packed up for Thailand last year, I knew I wouldn’t come back the same. Everyone told me it would be life changing and I would be surprised by how much I would take from the experience, but little did I know how much my relationship with Jesus would truly blossom…scratch that…EXPLODE in the year after my return.

Thailand, the country of my first ever mission. Home of the Hill Tribes where I said my first public prayer out loud. Where I first heard the unclear murmurings of a prayer language I mistook for Hawaiian and months later found flowing from the depths of my own spirit. A place where I paired my passion with my calling and saw that there is, in fact, much purpose in photography. A welcoming and jungle thick country that immediately felt like home. It was unmistakable that first mission trip was what God was calling me to do, the whispers from him were so clear and divine I couldn’t have denied it if I wanted to. “I got it, God. You want me to head to Thailand!”. And just as clear as the trip called, so came the provisions of donations that sincerely blew my mind where God showed up and said “I’m here! This is happening, girlfriend!”(because God totally says ‘girlfriend’ you know ;)). All you wonderful people showered with generosity, prayers and financial support. I was grateful, in awe, and full of endless faith.

When I returned to Hawai’i I was excited and anxious, practically hollering out “Okay Lord, where to next?”. And…nothing. Not radio silence, but I certainly wasn’t pulling out my passport in my near future. In fact He made it clear I had some work to do, some heart softening to be made, some serious learning and spiritual maturity to happen along with downright prayers to be prayed. For a year it was clear: my mission field was at home, in my own life, and building a stronger rock solid ground in my savior, Jesus Christ.

Time passed, I’m not perfect but my relationship with God flourished exponentially (and does every day), and I still wasn’t sure where my next mission would be. But eventually I found myself back dreaming of Thailand. Seeing mesh tennis shoes and tribal print flowy pants thinking “I’ll get those for when I go back”, reminded every day of the beautiful children as I look down at my handmade friendship bracelets. With Thailand certainly in my heart, it wasn’t BLARRINGLY obvious like last time that the location would be luring me back…until I got a message from the trip leader. Bob kindly let me know that Chiang Mai was a go again in August, they were putting the team back together, and they were excited to let me know they’d love to have my sister, Sarah, come along and meet us this time as well.  And the signs couldn’t have been clearer. My sister and I have been growing in our relationship with Christ together, biblically helping each other navigate this earth we live on, praying for one another, and sharing some crazy cool experiences in Christ. It’s obvious our journey in God together is with reason (and great purpose) so I am more than thrilled to have my sister join in on this trip to Chiang Mai.

So today, on my TWENTY NINETH birthday, I’d like to officially put it into the universe that along with my sister and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am excitedly heading back to Thailand August 31 – September 10th. If everyone on my Facebook page donated just $1, I would reach my goal in NO TIME! Sadly doesn’t accept $1 donations, so if only 580 generously gave $5 each, I would be GOLDEN….and so would you. :) So will you help make my wish come true + wake me up with some serious Birthday Fundraising Provisions? Or at least spread the word and send a few prayers up? It would make for the best birthday a girl could ever hope for.  xo

Thailand Mission Trip 2014 [get the scoop + donate here]:

And if you’re feeling super generous and would like to contribute to getting my loving sister Sarah across the globe to Thailand too, please do so here!


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“How do you get business while moving so often?” | Gypsy Collective

Divvying out hugs and gratitude for getting together for the evening, Rachael, Yusuf and I discussed many things we had in common. Moving to the islands from the South, our slight twangs, and the perks + perils of military life which can sometimes send you on unexpected adventures all over the place. Just before she hopped in her car to head out she asked the one question I’m always asked: “How do you get business while moving so often?”. I laughed and gave credit where all the credit is totally due:


She exclaimed that’s in fact how she found me, a referral from another gracious photographer on Maui (thanks, Caitlin!) and I was honored to feel the love. When I decided to follow my heart and officially switch careers from Interior Designer to Wedding Photographer my husband (then boyfriend) had just joined the military and to be quite honest the future of my business wasn’t something I had really considered…or the years to follow via the Army (OR that most ‘Army Wives’ get stigmatized as “Wannabe Photographers“, but let’s just ignore that crap because it’s B.S. and will send me into a rage). I never considered having to pick up and move and certainly didn’t put much thought into building a business I could confidently take anywhere until we found out we were relocating from North Carolina to Hawai’i (in which we did a little dance). I knew business was going to be tough as hell. A sincere struggle from that moment forward, and just as making new friends was going to be daunting so was starting all over again. From scratch. Knowing no one. Then starting over again one day after that, too. It was that realization where two things became the crux which determined my ultimate life as a photographer wherever I may be: a strong online presence and genuine connections. If I’m being totally honest there really isn’t much ‘business’ to my business. I like to keep it real. I tried to make that sentence sound more ghetto, kinda how I would say it, but it looked more like I couldn’t type. So I skipped it. Just imagine it in your head.

1. Friends: I will happily say I am fortunate enough to have to have friends I grew up with who also became photographers. Collectively it made learning the industry and building a foundation a lot easier, paired with my an undeniable passion for meeting new people–connecting wherever I go–has developed relationships all across the world, spreading the word naturally. By constantly (and possibly annoyingly) proclaiming “Hey, I’m a Photographer! I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER.  I’m a phooottoggraphhherrrrr” means colleagues and BFFs are more likely to give you a shout out to their engaged pals “Hey! I know a photographer…” Couples are always heading from the mainland to O’ahu to get married, these relationships with friends and photographers (both via the internet and real life) have been pivotal in helping my business blossom and help me work with couples off-island. Thanks, ya’ll!  :)

Majority of my local business comes from besties on island (who either happen to be Photographers or in the wedding industry themselves) and past clients turned friends. Spending time with people I enjoy is important to me, as are authentic, genuine connections. They aren’t just Coordinators, Florists, or Photographers. They are friends who’s babies I watch (okay that happened once but MAN are they cute!), whose families I adore, and peers I can sit and talk to about life all day every day. When I am friends with someone I am in it, invested and I’ve got their back, so I’m grateful that the people I’ve met scattered throughout the Hawai’ian islands that are equally thoughtful and have become a big part of my life that extends far beyond business. I consider the people I appreciate more than clients or vendors, they’re legit friends.

The Internet: I don’t know much about SEO. Okay, in fact I don’t know a single thing, but what I do know is that I love being a photographer and shooting film, and I let my passion for my craft seep out into everything I put on the web. I use the social media sites that feel natural (instagramming like a fool!), I keep up with people via Facebook, and I try (ohhhh do I try!) to consistently update my blog. I am an advocate of connecting online (but not living there) and love when internet friends become real life ones. Again–I find it incredibly important to keep media presence fresh with updated content to help spread the word of where you are and what you’re shooting (and what you had for lunch, duh) but most importantly I use it as a platform to continue to harbor sincere relationships with fellow photographers, colleagues, and the people I love. Yes I just saw that video you posted of your dog eating bubbles, it was the cutest thing in the world *like*. My website doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the first page of Google and I’m not gracing the covers of Martha Stewart weddings (one day!) but being featured on reputable of-the-moment wedding blogs and simply being Ashley online does the trick.

Having real genuine relationships on the web (but mostly real life!) while showcasing an authentic online presence has helped me to create a sturdy foundation for my photography business that I am confident I will be able to easily carry on wherever God may lead us next. (please be Italy, pleaseeeee be Italy).




Week of Lasts

This week wraps the last of “get all the things done” before my wedding season truly begins, the last FULL week of being two years away from thirty instead of one (omfg), and last few #hilife days for my yoga loving and should be flute donning friend Danica as she will no longer be an island girl as she relocates her adventures to San Diego.

Le sighhhh.

North Shore iphone instagram

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