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Concord, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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I always try to schedule outdoor portrait sessions or wedding photos within a few hours of sunrise or sunset because afternoon sun is just not fun. If you luck out and have clouds then it can be great, but on sunny days it is better to just wait until the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. The light gets warmer (more golden), and you don't get the horrible shadows and squinting that you have in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, wedding schedules aren't always as flexible as we'd like so you have to learn to work with the sun.

On one recent sunny (and ridiculously hot) day, I shot some photos at the park with sisters S&L. We got some keepers, but I also took the opportunity to snap a few shots that show exactly why afternoon sun is not ideal for outdoor photos.


This shot of the ducklings is a good example of one of the problems we face on sunny days. Even when you can find shade, it is often broken up with patches of bright sunlight. While our eyes are able to accurately view a scene like this, the camera can't expose for both the dark shadows and bright highlights. I actually combined two different exposures to get this one that isn't completely over or under exposed.
Fun in the Sun... or not

You can do some cool shots with full sun, but it is really the worst lighting in my opinion for formal portraits. The three shots below are straight from the camera. The first shot is in full sun. If you don't have any shade and have to shoot in these conditions then you would need to use flash to fill in the shadows on the face. Unfortunately, she was wearing white which, as you can see, is way overexposed in the sunlight. Trying to get an even exposure is tricky enough without having to worry about bright white clothing.

The second shot is of her standing in the uneven shade of a tree (notice one patch of sunlight hit her shoulder). I exposed for her which resulted in a blown-out background. She obviously looks the best in this photo, but you lose the beautiful scenery.

I took the third shot exposing for the background, but this obviously leaves our subject in the dark shade. To fix this, I would need to light her with flash or reflector. That scenario would give the most even lighting, and the white shirt wouldn't be as much of a problem.


Fun in the Sun... or not

Flash can help a lot with photos in the sun, but it will have to work very hard and can overheat on a day that's already super hot. To avoid some of those problems on this day, I just tried to shoot with both the girls and the background in the shade. I also used a reflector to help light some of the shadows. We ended up with some nice shots, but if you want to really take advantage of your surroundings and get some great wide shots then it's best to just schedule your outdoor photos for the morning or evening.


Fun in the Sun... or not

Fun in the Sun... or not

L wore a little brown dress that belonged to her grandmother when she was a little girl. I photographed S wearing it when she was 7 as well.

Fun in the Sun... or not


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Dara's Garden, Knoxville, TN

Saturday, June 28, 2008
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Tessa and Bruce had a fun wedding at Dara's Garden last weekend. Dara's has beautiful grounds with several different locations for an outdoor ceremony and reception. We also took advantage of the property's barn for a few photos of the couple. I've been blessed to work with some wonderful couples this year, and these two were no exception. They chose to meet and get all of the formals out of the way before the ceremony, and I had time to do photographs of the two of them together both before and after the ceremony. Of course I could never have enough time with great models at a beautiful venue, but Tessa did a really good job at staying on schedule so that we would fit in all of the photographs. It is so much easier to get great shots when you aren't rushed.

As always at Dara's, Rothchild Catering kept everyone happily fed. Ogle Entertainment provided the DJ, and Leah at Whimsical Gatherings did an amazing job with the flowers. I'm thrilled to see so many brides using peonies this year. I love, LOVE those flowers, and they look so great with English or garden roses. The maids wore brown dresses with blue sashes, and the men wore brown vests with their tuxes. Like many brides, Tessa changed into more comfortable shoes (flip-flops) for the reception, and she also changed into a little white dress later in the evening so that she could relax and dance more easily.


Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21


There were supposed to be two ring bearers, but I knew that the chances of getting two down the aisle were very slim when we couldn't convince one of them to even be in the group photograph.

Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21
We did see one come down the aisle... running. He hung out for a minute before turning around and running back the way he came.

Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21
I love brides who aren't afraid of getting a little dirty even on the wedding day.

Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21

Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21

Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21

Summitt/Jones Wedding June 21

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Knoxville, TN

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
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I often shoot weddings in other cities or for couples that are coming here from other places, and we don't always have an opportunity to meet before the wedding day. Candice and Ryan are one of those couples that booked me without meeting so it was fun to finally put faces with the names and spend a few hours getting to know them during their engagement session last week. They're a great couple, and now I'm really looking forward to their October wedding at Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville.


Candi & Ryan's Engagement Session

Candi & Ryan's Engagement Session
Candi & Ryan's Engagement Session
Candi & Ryan's Engagement Session
Candi & Ryan's Engagement Session
Candi & Ryan's Engagement Session

Earlier in the session, I took a photograph of a brick wall with some peeling paint, and I used it as an overlay this last photo to add even more texture.
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The Great Smoky Mountains, Townsend, TN

Saturday, June 21, 2008
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I need to first apologize to a couple of people who are waiting on slideshows and prints. This is my busiest month of the year, but this week I had to take it easy for a few days due to a migraine. I'll be working extra hard next week to catch up with everything, and I appreciate everyone's patience. One thing that I promised to do this week was to blog a few preview photographs from Sarah and Michael's wedding, and here they are.

Sarah and Michael had a destination wedding in Townsend last weekend. After traveling from Missouri, they spent several days relaxing with their family and friends at Valley View's Little River Lodge. Saturday's ceremony was held on the banks of the Little River. The sky looked threatening all day, but it stayed dry long enough for the two to be married. It did begin raining before the ceremony had ended, but it was only a mountain shower that passed by after a bit.

Once the rain had passed, the guests were treated to a sit down dinner catered by Miss Lily's Catering with dance music provided by the Rough Edges bluegrass band.

The weather may not have fully cooperated, but the mountains put on a show of animals including a black snake, otters, and a blue heron.

Ludwig/Risch Wedding June 14
Kids are amazingly resilient. One minute they're unhappy and the next they're off playing in a wet hammoc.
Ludwig/Risch Wedding June 14
Ludwig/Risch Wedding June 14
If it's going to rain, be sure to have an umbrella nearby!

Ludwig/Risch Wedding June 14

Ludwig/Risch Wedding June 14

Sarah and beautiful baby Luna who looked adorable in an outfit made by her grandmother.

Ludwig/Risch Wedding June 14

I am ending this post just after midnight on Friday. It is now officially the weekend, and I am finally getting off of the computer. Everyone have a great weekend, and cross your fingers for nice weather on Saturday. I have another outdoor wedding to photograph.
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Farm, Greenback, TN

Monday, June 9, 2008
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Being 06/07/08, this past Saturday was probably one of the most popular wedding dates of the year so congratulations to all the newly married couples! It also turned out to be super sunny and hot, but Malinda and Del took it all in stride. Their 6:30 ceremony was held on Malinda's family farm in Greenback.

The girls wore bright aqua blue dresses and carried bouquets of pink peonies and green hydrangea. I love, love peonies, and the colors were perfect. As always, Mulberries did an amazing job with the flowers. The ceremony programs were attached to fans for the guests to use in the heat and backed with either the aqua or a green that matched the groomsmen's ties.

Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7

The ceremony was held on a hill with amazing views. As I arrived at the site, I noticed several cameras pointed to the sky and no wonder... I've seen light coming from behind a cloud, but this huge cloud was really amazing in the way it was lit from within. After hearing some thunder, I was afraid that we would end up wet before the end of the ceremony and formals, but it seemed to rain everywhere except the Burkhart farm. You may also notice part of a golf cart and classic car in the background - rides for the bridesmaids and bride respectively. We later rode the golf cart back up the hill for a few photos with the sunset.

Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7

The wedding was a beautiful blend of the rustic and the refined.

Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7
Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7

Most people are a little reserved or uncomfortable in front of a camera, but these candid shots really show Malinda and Del's joy shining through.
Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7
Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7
After the ceremony, we shot a few, quick photos in the fields on the hill overlooking the reception tent.
Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7
Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7

Finally, one of my favorite shots of the day. As she was pulled down the ceremony aisle in a red wagon, the flower girl Alaina threw handfuls of petals but wouldn't crack a smile. Whenever I pointed a camera in her direction, she would drop her head and chew on her bottom lip. That was until the reception when Malinda kicked off her shoes and left them on the side of the dance floor. When Alaina found them, she sat down and traded her own shoes for Malinda's before looking up for everyone's approval. She was so proud of herself and, even though she could barely move in them, she wore those shoes for much of the night.

Burkhart/Harris Wedding June 7


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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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