Cleghorn Photography: Blog https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Cleghorn Photography andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:33:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:33:00 GMT https://www.cleghornphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u266251695-o1024220954-50.jpg Cleghorn Photography: Blog https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog 120 117 Most Unique Honeymoon Location I Have Ever Seen! https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/3/most-unique-honeymoon-location-i-have-ever-seen We went to Burning Man for our Honeymoon and it was magical!

When Jason asked me to marry him in 2014 I had one prerequisite:

That we could go to Burning Man for our honeymoon.

     That however, was easier said than done, but he kept his promise and with all the trials and tribulations that went along with that promise, I would do it all over again in a HEARTBEAT! The planning that went into our honeymoon was INSANE and the money that we spent could have funded a trip around the globe. If you are planning a visit to Burning Man, you might want to read this post. We learned a lot (the hard way) and someday hope to be back on the Playa again. Next time though we will do things a little different. Let me explain. 

     Luckily for us, we didn't put too much planning into our actual wedding because 3 weeks before it was supposed to take place the owner of the venue died and our wedding was cancelled. That is another story, for another day, but the planning we focused on mainly was our honeymoon to Burning Man and Black Rock City in Northern Nevada. It was a good thing too, because it took way more time planning that, than we initially thought. We didn't have a place to stay. We didn't have a way to get there. Hell, we didn't even have a ticket to get in. What we did have was time, and it's a good thing because we NEEDED it. 

     As we researched the whole process of going to Burning Man, we knew we needed to be completely self reliant and self contained. The ONLY thing they sell at Burning Man is coffee and ice and that definitely was not enough to survive on for an entire week. We needed somewhere to stay, and since we are definitely not "tenters" we knew we needed an RV or Camper for the week. We did have a truck, but it was over 10 years old and the wear and tear of the 20 hour drive and playa dust was NOT appealing to Jason at all. I knew I had to figure out a solution that would make both of us happy. After all, it was his honeymoon too, and I did want him to enjoy himself. 

    The first thing I looked into was renting an RV for the week. I discovered that option would be  unsuccessful for a number of reasons. First, there were no RVs available to rent that week within a 500 mile radius of us. Second, if I did find an RV available, it was close to $3500 for the rental PLUS a cleaning fee because of the fine playa dust that would encompass the inside as well as the outside of the rig. Third, certain companies would not rent to anyone going to Burning Man due to the harsh conditions the playa (and renters) caused the camper. My dreams were quickly being squashed and I hadn't even had a chance to apply for the tickets to go. UGH!!!

     Now for those of you that know me well, you know I'm not going down without a fight. I could have rented an RV for $3500 but to me that is pure insanity. If I'm going to spend money like that, I might as well buy an RV right? Well guess what? That's exactly what I did and to this day we still use that camper and LOVE the memories we make in it.

Problem #1 solved.

Now onto the next hurdle and this one was a dosey!

     Since Jason was uneasy about driving his existing truck almost 600 miles to Lovelock, Nevada where Black Rock City and the Burning Man Festival was, I had to find another way to pull it. It wasn't a big camper, at only 25 feet and weighing in under 5000 pounds, but we still needed a strong truck to pull it and unbeknownst to me you cannot just call a rental company and rent a truck with a trailer hitch attached. WHAT?!?!?! How did I not know that? I was floored when I found out I now had a place to stay and no way to get it there. I was devastated and really feeling defeated because I spent so much money buying the dang trailer and I knew we couldn't pull it with our own truck. Like the crazy person I am, I continued to search for a solution and eventually, something came to my attention. I found that Enterprise had a commercial division that if you had a company, you could rent commercial vehicles for use. And guess what...they had 3/4 ton trucks that were equipped to haul a trailer. The best part was that these trucks were new, heavy duty, and meant to get dirty because contractors use them on the job sites. PERFECT! We were able to use our own company profile to secure the rental and for the second time in my planning process I was a happy girl!

Problem #2 solved!

Now to get the tickets, yay!!!

     The final piece of the puzzle was securing tickets and they don't make that easy either. I actually consider us very lucky because it was our first year trying to go to Burning Man and we did get tickets. From what I found out later many people try year after year and never get tickets. The process starts after the first of the year and like an obsessive girlfriend I had to watch daily postings for information when the burning man registration would open up. At the time you had to register on a certain day, at a certain time, and hope to get accepted into the lottery. I do not go to a lot of concerts but I think it's similiar to getting a numbered wristband to hold your place in line to buy your ticket. Once we were accepted into the lottery, we had to wait about a week until they opened up ticket sales. The lottery did not guarantee us a ticket because there were approximately 120,000 people in the lottery and only 70,000 tickets available. I was able to purchase these tickets of gold at the cost of only $980 (if I remember correctly) for the whole week. Not bad considering it WAS our honeymoon!

Problem #3 solved!

     By March 2015 we had everything secured. We had a new trailer, a rental agreement with Enterprise, and our tickets purchased. We would receive a whole packet of Burning Man info along with our actual tickets around June since the festival wasn't until the end of August. So, me being a crafter, I kept myself busy doing more research and making burner costumes. I think this was my favorite part of the planning process. We watched videos on you tube, made countless lists of things we needed to bring, and mapped out our drive up north. We meticulously planned where we would stop to fuel the truck, take breaks, and our final shopping trip before the last stretch out to no man's land. It was an exciting time and although I was very excited for our wedding day in July, I was eagerly waiting for our honeymoon that was over a month after our wedding. It would be the longest month of my life!

     The drive up to Black Rock City was long and we decided to leave in the middle of the night on a Friday to get to our destination early and have time to grocery shop and fill our water tanks, shower, and just get in one last day of full hook-ups before our week long boon docking trip. We drove straight through (only stopping for gas) to Reno, NV where we bought all our food, beer, and ice we thought would be enough. We would soon learn that we didn't have enough beer and leaving the Playa to get more was not only a bad idea, but it would be a very expensive one! We made it to Pyramid Lake by Saturday night where we had reservations for one night and that is where we did our final preparations for our Burning Man stay. It was a beautiful lake, on Indian Reservation, and it only cost $25 for the night for full hook-ups. We both enjoyed one last hot shower and knew it would be missed dearly in the upcoming week.

Sunday was a long day.

     The Burning Man gate would open at noon and we wanted to be there at a reasonable time. We woke up excited to venture the last 45 minutes on our journey through two towns: Nixon and Gerlach. These were small towns and the people there welcomed Burners for the most part by selling items and costumes geared towards the festival. It was a busy time for them and I'm sure they made a good chunk of change, because our 45 minute drive turned into an 8 hour line. We sat in our cars ALL DAY moving a mile at a time every 30 minutes or so. Getting through the gate was time consuming and by the time we got to our camping spot on the playa we were both exhausted. We set up, ate some food, drank a few beers, and went to bed hoping to wake refreshed and able to enjoy the Playa on its first full day.

     Monday was a great day and we got to see a lot of the art displayed on the Playa. The weather was amazing so we took our bikes and headed out to every one we could ride to. They are not close together by any means. Picture yourself trying to ride a bike to every hotel in Vegas. That is how vast Black Rock City feels and with 70,000 visitors parts can be crowded. We took our time and stopped to take photos of every one. I was in costume so Jason took lots of me too. I loved every minute of it. This is what I had been waiting for, for months, and now I was experiencing something few actually get to do. I was in Heaven, and it was BEAUTIFUL!

     After dinner Monday night we ventured out again to experience Burning Man after dark. No joke, it is DARKER THAN DARK out there on the Playa and unless you and your bike is well lit, it can be very dangerous. We took some photos but that was even challenging because of the 750 art cars that you have to be aware of driving around everywhere. You have to be careful out there. You have to be lit well, and you have to keep your head on a swivel at all times. It was an experience to say the least, but not my favorite part of Burning Man at all. Here are a few of the images we got but since we were not out too long, we really didn't take many.

     Morning number three brought us a beautiful sunrise that we made sure not to miss. The weather was once again perfect, and although our butts were sore from all the riding we did the prior day, we once again got on our bikes and headed straight for the Temple. It was a beautifully structured temple and I think the best one Burning Man has ever seen. Every year the design of the temple changes and this one was simply breathtaking. 

     As I walked through it, the Temple reminded me of a massive cornucopia that had such a beautiful collection of curves, it drew you into its center. It seemed to stretch on and on, its slats beaming with the morning sun as it rose up over the horizon and the morning air getting warmer by the minute. And the amazing thing was, it was eerily quiet because of its sacred state. People came here to honor loved ones that passed, pray, meditate, and think. It was something to see and inspirational at the same time. A week ago this didn't exist here one the Playa, and a week from now it would be all gone. Burnt to the ground like the man, lost forever.

 

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     After we got sunrise images we decided to go back to our camper to eat some breakfast and take a nap. We had big plans later that day to go visit the "Man" and another costume to model. We didn't know it at the time, but today would be the last day we got good weather and clear photos. We had a great time and really enjoyed visiting the Center of Black Rock City where "The Man" resided.

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     By the end of day three we were exhausted! We got a great night sleep that night but woke up to lots of wind and ZERO visibility. It was awful. We decided to venture out anyway because there were still some art installations that were being built and we really wanted to see them completed. We had scarves to mask our faces and bags to shield our cameras so we figured "why not". We were here and we were determined to get the most out of our stay. If I had this day to do over again there would be SO MANY things I would change. This was one of the hardest days in my opinion because I'm not a fan of wind so I was miserable to say the least. We did get some cool photos though:

     It didn't take long for the wind to get to both of us and soon we were back in our camper trying to get the Playa dust out of places that it just doesn't belong. We noticed that we were getting low on beer so we decided to go into town to get more. Burning Man strongly frowns on people leaving the Playa and so they charge $20 PER PERSON to leave the gate. Next time we go to Burning Man you bet your damn ass we will have enough beer for a MONTH because wasting $40 is not my cup of tea! To add insult to injury an 18 pack of beer was $58 and since I HAD to have a 2015 Burning Man Poster, we were well over $100 for our little trip to town for beer. Lesson learned. Never again.

 

     The rest of our stay ay Burning Man is unfortunately a blur for me. When we returned to the Playa we decided to have a few drinks with our Playa neighbor who earlier in the day invited us for Bloody Marys. Since Jason doesn't like them I was the only one who drank them and got completely HAMMERED, passed out around 5pm, and slept until 6pm the next day. I still to this day am convinced I got roofied. Long story short, we left the Playa Thursday evening after I had a small breakdown about being so vulnerable to this harsh atmosphere that my 40 something body could not handle. I thought Burning Man would be easy, fun, inviting, inspirational, spiritual, life changing, and Bucket List worthy. I'm here to tell you it was all that PLUS difficult, intimidating, sleep depriving, hot, dusty, and definitely not something to take for granted. Only ONE person warned me about the difficulty Burning Man would present and I wish I would have listened to him more, asked more questions, and just BELIEVED him.

 

     We spent the duration of our Honeymoon back at Pyramid Lake in the very spot we started our journey. We washed all our laundry, took hot showers, dumped our tanks, and cleaned our new trailer inside and out. We had an amazing weekend on the lake with no wind, dust, or Bloody Marys. We ate Indian Tacos made by a local Indian woman that were so insanely delicious I had never tasted anything like them! We had the most peace and quiet I think I have ever experienced and I discovered a part of me I didn't realize was there. We didn't get a chance to see the man burn, or the sacred temple for that matter, but I got so much more out of my experiences that weekend. My incredible new husband gave me the honeymoon of a lifetime even though all the odds were against us to get there. He took care of me when I was so drunk and unable to take care of myself. And when I couldn't take The Playa anymore he got me away from the very thing I would have given anything to go to because he knew I did my best and it was just too much for me at the time. I realized that weekend I didn't need a Honeymoon to Burning Man to make my life complete. I needed the man that made my life complete and although it took me 44 years to find him, I am determined to get 44 more with him. He is my saint and savior and that man, that incredible man, keeps me grounded. Keeps things real. Keeps me alive. To him, I say "Thank YOU" for believing in ME. I love you, Jason xox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) Black Rock City Burners Burning Man Camper Gerlach Honeymoon Husband love Nevada Nixon Playa Pyramid Lake Reno Road Trip Soul Mate The Man Wedding https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/3/most-unique-honeymoon-location-i-have-ever-seen Tue, 10 Mar 2020 04:05:56 GMT
Most Beautiful State Park I Have Ever Seen! https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/3/most-beautiful-state-park-i-have-ever-seen "Valley of Fire" wears its name well!

 

     Valley of Fire is a state park located 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off Interstate 15 at exit 75. Recently on a trip to Vegas that included last minute changes, (Cher cancelled her concert 2 days before we were supposed to see her) we ventured out to this spectacular state park to see what all the fuss was about. I'm happy to say, I have never been to such a beautiful state park, and I didn't mind missing a concert I've waited my whole life to see. Literally. 

 

     I consider ourselves pretty well traveled and love seeing new areas, but I have to admit this park was a pleasant surprise considering we go to Las Vegas often and I had no idea this was out there. It wasn't until the concert was cancelled and my husband suggested to venture out and find something new to do that we decided to make the one hour drive. We didn't realize how vast this park was going to be, or that we would spend the entire day there. I took over 400 photos and although I don't want to "bore" you with all of them, I have quite a bit to show on this blog post so you can actually see the variety this park has to offer.

 

 

     In order to understand how and why this park exists, we stopped by the visitor's center to get more information. The park opened in 1934 and officially became a state park one year later in 1935. It is Nevada's oldest state park, that began with a transfer with 8,760 acres of federal land to the state of Nevada in 1931. Work on the park was initiated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. During the years of their employment the CCC workers built campgrounds, trails, stone visitor cabins, ramadas, and roads. These are still visible today and the two campgrounds that exist inside the park are still available for camping. We are planning on going back for an entire week to really get to explore all the hiking trails available because one day was definitely not enough time to explore everything.

     The variety of stone from the shapes, to the colors, to the types, is unmatched compared to any other place we've been. There is jagged rocks that contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years oldComplex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion, have created the present landscape. Some of our favorite photos came from smooth, pink and yellow passageways we accidentally found while exploring. Rock within these caverns was created from water rushing through the area and although there is no moving water today, we did discover a few puddles. I have to say this was not a designated area on the map we were given but it definitely was my favorite spot to stop and explore, and I felt like a pirate on a treasure hunt. These are some of my favorite photos I took on this trip:

 


 

     As far as designated "Points of Interest" in the park, we got to see most of them. Some by car, some by foot, but all were very easily accessible to the common person and I'm happy to announce you do not have to be a skilled hiker to see this whole park. Plus, for a $10.00 entrance fee (per car) you CANNOT beat this price! Here are a few park features from our trip and their descriptions right out of the brochure we received at the entrance when we paid the entry fee:

 

Beehives:

Unusual sandstone formations eroded by wind and water. 

 

Fire Cave and Windstone Arch:

This is not in the brochure we received at the entrance but it was the first spot we stopped and I'm so glad we did. Windstone arch is inside a tiny cave and very hard to photograph because of that. I did not know about this particular arch but I did get many photos of this cave and plan to go back and photograph it correctly next time!

 

Atlatl Rock:

Outstanding examples of ancient Indian rock art, or petroglyphs, including a depiction of the atlatl, a notched stick used to throw primitive spears. The atlatl was a predecessor to the bow and arrow.

Arch Rock:

Exactly as its name describes, it is the most famous arch in the park. It is however off limits to climbing due to its fragile structure. We got to enjoy its beauty from the front as well as the back.

Petrified Logs:

Logs and stumps, washed into the area from an ancient forest about 225 million years ago. They are exposed in two different locations and although I was not too impressed with them, it is crazy to think they are that old!

Balanced Rock:

Another amazing formation that was not included in our brochure but was so breathtaking we felt it deserved a mention. This is a short walk from the Visitor's Center and very hard to miss if you stop by there for info or even a bathroom break.

 

Rainbow Vista

is a hiking trail with many viewpoints including Fire Canyon and Silica Dome. Although we did not do this particular hike, we were able to see both Fire Canyon and Silica Dome by car and even got out to take a few photos. As you can see the sandstone formations that are so prominent in the Valley of Fire are made of sand grains that are almost pure silica. The Silica Dome is the finest example of such a deposit, creating the change from white to red when small quantities of iron in the rock produces a rust-like stain:

Gibraltar Rock:

This massive collection of rocks is comprised of red sandstone and resembles the famous Rock of Gibraltar in southwest Europe. It's so big we only got a chance to photograph it from our moving car but there are several hikes you can take to it and even to the top if you dare.

 

Seven Sisters:

Fascinating red rock formations are easily accessible from the road. 

 

Cabins:

Historic stone cabins that were built with native sandstone by the CCC in the 1930s as a shelter for travelers of the Arrowhead Trail.

 

Elephant Rock:

Located at the East Entrance to the park perched high on the side of the road is Elephant Rock. Although this formation is accessible by trail to the back as well as the front, we only got shots of it from the front due to the sun setting and it was getting dark.

Two hikes that we didn't have enough time to do were Mouse's Tank and Fire Wave. Because we didn't hike those trails we do not have photos of them but, we are planning another trip and when we go back I will be updating this blog post to include them.  

 

In closing, I want to stress the variety of rock formations this park has to offer. I have a few more photos to post and I really hope you enjoy looking at them. I will be back to this park to see the areas we never had the chance to get to and discover new formations by exploring ourselves. I'm thinking one week the next time and my next post will have LOTS more photographs!

 

 

Park hours are Sunrise to Sunset and the best time to visit is Spring and Fall.

Cell phone coverage is spotty but best around entrances and White Domes Area.

Pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

Drones are not allowed.

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andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) Arch Area Atlatl Beehives Cabins Camping Canyon Center Daily Desert Dome East Elephant Entrance Fee Fire Fire Wave Gibraltar Group Hiking Information Las Vegas Logs Mouse Tank Nevada North Park Petrified Picnic Rainbow Rock Rules RV Seven Silica Sisters South State Station Valley Valley of Fire Visitor Vista West White https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/3/most-beautiful-state-park-i-have-ever-seen Wed, 04 Mar 2020 05:27:51 GMT
That one time I got kicked out of Disneyland. https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/that-one-time-i-got-kicked-out-of-disneyland Was it really worth getting kicked out of Disney?

 

     I've been kicked out of many place in my 35 years of being a photographer, but one in particular stands out above all. It's no surprise that if you are inside one of Disney's theme parks, and you are making money at a photo session, Disney wants you to obtain a permit to do so. That permit will cost you money, and since I never purchased one I'm not exactly sure how hard they are to get or the cost for that matter. The question is, was it worth getting kicked out because I didn't have that said permit? You be the judge of that.

 

     Now you're probably scratching your head and asking yourself, "Why on EARTH did you not purchase a permit if you knew you needed it to photograph professional pictures inside a Disney theme park?" I actually have a great answer for that question and thought it was genius at the time. In 2010 I had a couple come to me requesting a photo shoot for their engagement announcements and wanted to take their photos in two locations. The first location was Angel's Stadium in Anaheim, CA and the other was down the street at Disneyland. Since they were paying me for the session and they also had to rent out Angel's Stadium for an hour, there wasn't much room left in the budget to buy Disneyland entrance tickets AND a permit to shoot in the park. We settled on shooting in Downtown Disney and although I really didn't know what I would be working with, I figured my couple would love how budget-friendly it was and appreciate the photos because of that. Plus, we wouldn't need a permit at all since we were not "inside" the theme park. Little did I know that was not the case at all!

 

    I really didn't want to draw attention to our little photo shoot because in the back of my mind I think I knew there was a slight chance we would get asked to leave if we looked too "professional". The fact that I had a company shirt on and a HUGE camera was probably a dead giveaway but, we tried to be as incognito as we could. I had them sitting on benches talking to each other like I wasn't even there and stroll down empty alleyways to give the illusion they had the whole place to themselves although the place was packed. I hid in bushes with my big old camera so as to not draw too much attention to myself and at one point one of the Disney "guest service" employees assisted us in crowd control so I could get a particular shot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found how helpful they were and even suggested my couple climb into a fountain for an unusual setting. We of course obliged at the employee's request and had an amazing time shooting in that particular area with the assistance of them. We let our guard down as we moved to different locations within Downtown Disney and had a lot of laughs shooting silly poses and just enjoying this experience now that we wouldn't get asked to leave. I took more photos than I usually would given the location and knew what I was capturing was gold. I was wishing every photo shoot was this rewarding and as we were wrapping up and getting ready to leave, I saw one last spot I HAD to have. It was a doorway that simulated a bank vault and it was screaming my couple's names! 

 

     Like a kid that just spotted Santa, I screamed for my couple to head towards the vault door and I started posing them in a dozen different poses. I guess my excitement was what ultimately did me in because it took no time for another guest service employee to approach us and ask for our permit. Apparently we were NOT in an area that allowed for professional photo shoots to occur and when I tried to explain that I was unaware we needed one to shoot in that area, he asked us to IMMEDIATELY vacate the premises or turn over my camera. Knowing I was done and had already captured a ton of amazing photos, I scurried towards the exit with a huge smile on my face feeling like I just conned a conman! My job was done, and it was done well. I was excited to go home and see the results. To this day I do not think I've achieved that same "high" shooting in a forbidden area. 

 

     As far as my couple was concerned, they were completely delighted with the photos we were able to get in the short time we spent downtown. Disney holds a special place in their hearts because they are season ticket holders and have been for many years. They now have two kiddos and I'm sure take many family photos inside the park these days. Ten years ago I was asked to leave but the memories I got from that photo shoot can never be taken from me. I work well under pressure and I got the photos to prove it. I look forward to my next "RUSH" so if you have any suggestions please comment below. I'm always open to new adventures and the thrill of the chase. Thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

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andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) Bride Canon Disney Engagement Groom Park Permit Photos Professional Theme https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/that-one-time-i-got-kicked-out-of-disneyland Mon, 24 Feb 2020 00:39:44 GMT
How and Why you should pick your wedding vendors in a certain order. https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/how-and-why-you-should-pick-your-wedding-vendors-in-a-certain-order So you just got engaged...now what?

     

     I'm probably going to get a great deal of backlash from this article so I just want to state first and foremost that THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION so if you don't agree with something you read here, that's totally FINE with me. 

 

     I experience a huge number of brides that get engaged and immediately start planning their wedding only to get overwhelmed because things don't go like they played it out in their head over and over hundreds of times since they were a little girl. They know what they want the end result to look like, but they never played out what it takes during the planning process to get their desired results. I end up coaching them through the process like a wedding coordinator (which sometimes makes my job easier) but since I'm not a wedding coordinator, if anything goes wrong, it's on me to make it right. I'm here to tell you, if you don't want to be one of those brides read this before you start your planning process. Hopefully it will be a good guide to easy your stress and make your planning process an enjoyable one. 

  

   Let's talk about the most common way a bride typically books her vendors. The first thing a newly engaged bride looks at is her wedding dress. She will search hundreds of photos online via Google or Pinterest to find the perfect dress and as soon as she has an idea of the one she wants to get, she immediately searches local bridal shops to book an appointment to go try on a bunch. Usually this is done with her mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, and her bridesmaids if she already has them picked.  This is great if budget is not a factor, but in my past experiences, budget is ALWAYS a factor. I got my dress for $7.47 at Macy's since I had $100 gift card and a 20% off coupon that my daughter found while crawling around on the floor in between the clothes racks. Yes, I am the "QUEEN of FRUGAL" and not ashamed to flaunt it! I'm here to tell you you can buy your wedding dress anytime as long as you take time for alterations into consideration. It definitely does NOT have to be the first thing you get.


 

 

     The next thing that is on a bride's "To Do" list is picking a date. The most popular dates are the ones that have a certain pattern or fall on a certain holiday. ie: 09-10-11, 02-02-2020, 11-11-11, or Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, Halloween. This is great if your church or venue has the date you want available but 9 times out of 10 they don't. Unless you are booking YEARS in advance, dates get taken quickly and usually you settle for what's available, not for what you want. This becomes the first step in discouraging a bride into thinking her dream wedding is far from happening. 

 

     Depending on the venue a couple decides to book there are vendors that sometimes the venue will suggest in a list form for them to call to help them get through their day. This list includes (in no particular order) Officiants, Florists, Photographers, Bakers, DJ's, Videographers, Limos, Furniture Rental, Photo booths, Makeup Artists, Hairdressers, Tuxedo Shops, Candy Bars, Popcorn Bars, and in some cases entertaining things like Jumpers for kiddos or artists that draw characters while you wait. Although this is valuable information, they don't tell you who to call first or what vendors get booked the fastest and thus become unavailable because of availability. Most couples start by booking the fun stuff first, ie: cake tastings and dinner choices, while forgetting about the things that will be unavailable if they wait too long. I constantly hear that I am the LAST thing on a bride's list to book and to this day I can't wrap my head around that. I even had a bride and groom once tell me because they paid $800 for  their cake they only had $500 left in their budget for photography. As much as I wanted to help that couple I just couldn't do it. Call me crazy but I know I would have regretted taking on a wedding for that amount of money.

 

     If I can help one couple with this information I am about to give then I will consider my job done. AGAIN, if I offend anyone, or you don't agree with what I am about to say, THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION. I cannot stress that enough and I know someone will lash back at me, but again, I'm only trying to help. So, read at your OWN RISK! Let's begin...

 

     I'm going to start at the beginning assuming you are already engaged and have your ring. That is hopefully something the groom took his time to pick out and you absolutely LOVE it because he did that on his own. Now the fun begins, and you the bride is in control. So where do you start? The very FIRST thing you should look for is a professional wedding coordinator. So many brides skip this step because they think they can do it themselves and when they realize how hard that actually is, they turn to family and friends for help and that can turn bad very quickly. Wedding coordinators are trained to LISTEN to what you want and guide you in the best direction for your situation. You may think that you can save money by not hiring a wedding coordinator but PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say this is money well spent and you will not regret getting a good, professional, wedding coordinator. I have worked many weddings in my 35 years with and without wedding coordinators and let me tell you how appreciative I am when I know there will be one at the wedding. They help the flow of the actual wedding day as well as the planning process so the stress level involved is virtually gone. They help you with budget and timelines, the best of the best vendors, and generally they can give you the best advice around. It ranks #1 on my list of vendors you should get.

 

 

      #2 on my list I suggest you look for is a location to have your wedding and your coordinator can be a HUGE help in this. They can really get down to specific locations once they know what you are looking for and the budget you want to stay in. There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of places to get married so this can be the most overwhelming part of the planning process, but once this is figured out, not only will you have your date but you will also feel relieved that you are making progress.  The best part is most locations have "day of" coordinators and vendors they recommend and they will give you a list to call and find some you might want to work with. Problem is, which one do you call first?

 

     There are two types of wedding vendors and it is important to know the difference between them. The first kind of vendor can only do one wedding at a time and they are the ones that usually cost more. These generally include venues, photographers, DJ's, videographers, and coordinators. The second type are the vendors that can serve several weddings in one day and generally cost less. Examples include bakers, florists, hair dressers, make-up artists, candy bars, limos, and a few more I cannot pinpoint at the moment but I'm sure will come up. Most couples will book the later first because cost is lower and I think they want to feel a sense of accomplishment by booking a bunch right away, while neglecting the crucial ones, and that can be a total nightmare. If you consider the order of importance we have already talked about you should have the coordinator and venue booked. Why not book your photographer, dj, and videographer next? After all they will be the bulk of your budget and THAT should give you a sense of accomplishment once tackled. 

 

 

 

 

    

I want to stop right here and point out some very important things about booking your photographer, videographer, and dj. Things you probably didn't think about but they will make PERFECT sense and once I tell you, you will not be able to get it out of your head. Think about this for a second: You meticulously pick out your dress because after all this IS your wedding dress and it HAS to be amazing! You pick out your beautiful flowers because you want everything to look spectacular because after all YOU are going to be breathtaking. You pick out the most classy tuxedos for the men to wear because they deserve to feel special too. And you pick out the most beautiful cake you have ever seen because you want this to be the centerpiece to your reception. But after all this is over what will you have to remember all these particular things you spent so much time choosing? Enter your photographer and videographer. Your memories will be the best thing you take away from the wedding but the photos and video will be your preserved memories for you to share with people that were at the wedding and people that weren't. This I think is the most powerful thing about photos. You can share them with anyone, anywhere, anytime. WOW! Powerful. Since the photographer and videographer can only do one wedding a day please don't wait to book them. They book up FAST and very early so PLEASE don't hesitate on this step. If you have a good wedding coordinator they will tell you the same thing. This is my #3 and #4 on my list of importance. 

 

      Next up: the DJ. Your guests are going to be the people in your life that are most important and you hold nearest and dearest to your heart. They took the time to come out to your wedding, bring you a gift, and get dressed up. They may not remember what song you walked down the aisle to or what you said in your vows. They may not remember what color your bridesmaids wore or your first dance song either. Heck, they may not even remember what they ate for your wedding dinner. BUT I can honestly say 99% of the time they will remember if they had a good time. If you have a good DJ that is gonna make a world of difference. When my husband and I got married it POURED all night but because we had the most amazing DJ everyone danced all night, in the rain, soaking wet, and they still talk about it to this day! I can use my wedding as a personal example but because I have done hundreds of weddings I've seen some of the best AND worst DJ's in my time. IT CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR WEDDING so please choose wisely when picking a DJ. This ranks #5 on my list of importance.

 

     Once these "Top Five" are chosen and officially booked I can assure you that you will feel a sense of accomplishment and now you can relax while choosing the rest of your vendors. This is the part you can really have fun doing by bringing guests with you to experience and enjoy the planning process. Bring your girls with you to help pick out your wedding dress while sipping champagne and snacking on cheese and crackers. Go cake tasting with your groom because after all, cake is cake and grooms like cake! Include your mother and mother-in-law when picking out your flowers because you want them involved and moms love flowers. And have a "practice run" with your hair and makeup and then go on a really fancy date with the groom if you don't mind him seeing a "sneak peek" of what he's getting on the BIG DAY. And since you have a wedding coordinator, if any of this gets overwhelming, call her! That is WHY you have a wedding coordinator, after all, and she (or he) is there for you to lean on if you need help and get you back on track so you can enjoy the planning process. Your wedding day will go by SO FAST, so you need to enjoy the planning process because if you don't, you will be so unhappy and regret not having done that. 

 

     In closing I would like to offer a dozen little budget-friendly tips to keep in mind when planning your wedding:

1. Look for dress sales happening in your area because you can find "last year's styles" at significant discounts and believe me when I say NO ONE will know it's a "Last Year Style" at your wedding.

2. Pick flowers that will be "in season" when your wedding date arrives so you do not have to pay premium prices to get certain flowers that may not be locally available. A good florist can make ANY types of flowers amazing with their creative touch. 

3. Select a beautiful cake for your reception and "cutting of the cake" photos but don't worry about buying a super huge cake that feeds all your guests. You can buy separate cup cakes for the guests or even sheet cakes that no one sees that can be cut and served after dinner.

4. Get married during the week if you want the biggest discount when booking a venue. Don't worry about your guests not being able to attend because it is during the week. With enough notice, the ones that want to be there will, trust me. If it is important to them, they will make it.

5. If you are a veteran or active military, use this to your advantage. Just about every vendor offers military discounts so don't be afraid to ask. 

6. Renting tuxedos can be expensive so consider buying suits instead. There are suit outlets that sell suits for around $99 and that can be cheaper than renting a tuxedo for the weekend. On the plus side, the groomsmen will be able to keep them.

7. On the flip side, bridesmaids can rent dresses (believe it or not) because let's be real, no one wears their bridesmaid dress EVER AGAIN. You can even rent your bridal gown if you really want to save money and because you will NEVER wear that dress again.

8. Invitations can be pricy so I like to point out what your ultimate goal when choosing them. If you are going for a certain "look" to introduce people to your wedding you might have to pay extra for that. ie: Halloween wedding, Masquerade wedding, New Year's Eve wedding, Winter Wonderland wedding, etc. But if your ultimate goal is just to invite guests to your wedding with certain info, save money by making them yourself. This can be super fun, personal, intimate, if you are a crafty person, and you can include family and friends in helping you make/design them.

9. The exact same can be said for your wedding favors so if you can get creative and frugal make them. If you really want to save money here you can also eliminate then altogether. I do quite a bit of weddings that have no favors at all. They are not a "necessity", more a "luxury" and if the budget does not allow for such luxuries, don't be afraid to exclude them.

10. If you think you can save money by holding a backyard wedding, I'm here to tell you DON'T! Professional wedding venues include so many things you don't even think of from tables and linens to bathrooms and trash bins, that if you rent all the things you NEED to hold a backyard wedding the amount of money you will pay along with the amount of stress you will deal with, you will WISH you booked a professional venue. 

11. The best way to cut your budget is cut your guest list. This can be VERY hard to do, but if you can do it, you will reap the biggest savings.

12. Lastly, if none of these savings are possible, this is the best advice I can give. Figure out your best budget and the DOUBLE IT. 

 

     Weddings are expensive but there are things you can do and help you can get. If I am missing anything, please let me know. I have been shooting weddings for 35 years and have seen a lot. If I think of anything else I will update this article. Happy planning...

 

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andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) bride bridesmaids budget centerpieces coordinator dj dress florist frugal groom groomsmen guests limousines location money officiant photo booth photographer rentals rings stressful tables tuxedos venue https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/how-and-why-you-should-pick-your-wedding-vendors-in-a-certain-order Wed, 19 Feb 2020 02:50:45 GMT
The Most Epic Destination Wedding I have ever photographed! https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/the-most-epic-location-i-have-ever-shot-a-wedding  

"What is your favorite Destination Wedding to date?"

 

     This is probably the single most popular question I get when it comes to traveling and shooting destination weddings. In order to answer this question though, we must first talk about what exactly qualifies as a "destination wedding". There are several definitions in my mind and believe me when I say I've shot them all. But I want to define what people are asking me when they want me to answer that question, so here goes.

 

     The first definition I think of, is when a couple comes to California from somewhere up north, to get married in the beautiful sunshine. They book a beach wedding or even one at the more popular wineries here in Temecula as their "Destination Wedding" because they are planning it via emails and telephone and not "hands on" like they would if they lived here. I (on the other hand) do not REALLY consider that a destination wedding but I have to be careful when talking to them and keep in mind they are booking a "Destination Wedding". I have photographed so many couples this way since I moved to California more than 20 years ago, I couldn't even begin to count how many.  

 

     The second definition I think of when it comes to destination weddings is when a couple is getting married close to where they live and they hire me to come to them by flying me across the country. It makes my definition of their wedding a "Destination" while to them it is a local wedding that they just happened to hire a destination photographer to shoot. This is probably the most complimentary way I get hired considering there are so many wedding photographers out there and for them to hire ME over a local is simple astounding. Weddings I have been to this way include:

 

Waikiki Beach in Hawaii

Mountains in Whitefish, Montana

Mansions in Newport, Rhode Island

Colonial Inn Sterling, Massachusetts

Plains in South Dakota

Forest in Flagstaff, Arizona

Apple Orchard in Vermont

Ocean in Anacortes, Washington

Lakeside in Wisconsin

Colonial Inn Pelham, New Hampshire

Frozen Lake in Minnesota (Ten Degrees Below ZERO)

Winery in Florence, Arizona

Riverboat Cruise on Lake Tahoe

The State Room in Boston, Mass

Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada

High Rise in Downtown Miami, Florida

Tiki Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

     

     I'm sure I'm missing a few on this list but to say I am truly blessed to travel and take beautiful photos would be an understatement. There are so many more places I would like to add to that list and I'm sure some day I will get the chance. The only regret I have is that some of those weddings were in my "film days" and I no longer have the ability to post photographs of them on my website because I gave all my couples their negatives and no longer have them, lol. So, use your imagination and trust me when I say they were all so uniquely different and insanely beautiful in their own way!

     

     The third and last definition of a "Destination Wedding" is when everyone travels to the wedding from different locations for an extended weekend or mini vacation. That my friends is the ultimate destination wedding and I think the most fun because everyone is experiencing the same thing. I have always dreamed of going on a cruise for a week to achieve this status or even a foreign continent like Europe or Australia, but I do have one wedding on my list that qualifies for this ultimate experience. It is what I think of every time someone asks me the "Destination Wedding" question and definitely ranks #1 in my book.

 

                                   Can you guess where it is?

 

     There's something romantic and sexy about a destination wedding and if you are one of the lucky ones to be able to have one, then consider yourself very fortunate. If planning a wedding wasn't stressful enough, imagine planning one far away like in another state, or better yet, in another country. Back in 2010 that's exactly what one of my couples was trying to do and I was blessed to be invited to shoot it for them. I am happy I do have photos of this wedding to share and I really hope you enjoy them.

 

    

     Now I had already worked two other weddings for this family so I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say they considered me part of the family to ask me along on this spectacular journey. Not only was I invited on this trip but my husband (at the time) was also invited and guess how long we were going to be gone...NINE GLORIOUS DAYS! The original plan was to have the wedding in Jamaica and since I had never been there I was completely excited. To be able to go to an island in the Caribbean was a dream come true for me especially when I was also getting paid for it. As I impatiently waited for travel confirmation from my generous couple we got some good and bad news. The bad news was that they couldn't secure the location they wanted in Jamaica. The good news however, was that they found another location instead and that we were going to CANCUN!!! WooHoo!!! 

    

     I consider myself pretty well traveled because I have been to Europe twice, Canada, The Mexican Riveria, and about 50% of the states, but I had never been to the Caribbean or any tropical islands for that matter. I'm not a big fan of swimming in the ocean because if you know me, you know I am deathly afraid of sharks. (Sidenote: My mother took me to see "JAWS" when I was 6 and I'm still scarred from it.) I am however a big fan of heat, sun, food, drinks, and swanky hotels so it's pretty safe to say I was excited for this trip. I did as much research I could before the trip but honestly, there isn't enough info in the world that can prepare you for a foreign country you've never been to. Experience is key and I was in for one wild ride let me tell you!

 

     

     It was lucky for us that the travel package we had was so inclusive it included airfare, the taxi to and from the airport, and all the food and drinks at resort we were staying at. Lucky because we were not actually in Cancun but a bit further south in the Playa del Carmen area almost 45 minutes away at The RIU Palace Riveria Maya Resort. The shuttle that drove us down there was excellent too and I'm so glad we didn't have to hire a separate driver to take us there. If you ever consider booking a destination wedding like this they have travel packages that are so inclusive they think of everything. I STRONGLY suggest booking this way to avoid and unexpected charges or fees once you get there.

 

     Our resort was in a gated area that encompassed dozens of inclusive resorts and the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. I was only familiar with cold water beaches in New England and Dirty sand beaches in California so when I set my eyes on the beaches in Playa del Carmen and saw that the water was so crystal clear blue and the sand was soft and white like baby powder, I was simply in awe at it's beauty. I'd never seen anything like it and I don't know if I ever will again. I will never forget that sight. I knew at that moment there was no possible way I could take a bad photo at this wedding and I was ok with that!

 

   

     If my memory serves me correctly we arrived on a Wednesday and the wedding was the following Saturday so as quick as we got settled in a routine I was shooting this beautiful wedding in a hotel with marble floors, stone columns, impeccable landscaping, crystal pools, and again the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. It was surreal and I never wanted to leave. If you can imagine a world with no stress or financial worries, delicious food, endless drinks, entertainment galore, dancing till the sun comes up, room service, and simply being treated like a Hollywood star, then that was the world I was in. Looking back now I truly regret I haven't gone back as Cleghorn Photography with my current husband. Any takers?

 

     

     Since there are no words that can describe fully how spectacular this wedding location was I want to post a few photos for you to enjoy. If you are one of the fortunate ones that is planning a destination wedding and want a recommendation, The RIU chain is a good one. They have hotels and resorts all over the world and I cannot say enough good things about them and the way we were treated there. Go to http://www.RIU.com  to find your perfect destination and then sit back and ENJOY! I know you won't regret it!!! 

 

Tell them "Andrea the Photographer" sent you!

 

   

      In closing and to sum up my final answer, this wedding back in 2010 tops my list as my #1 epic destination wedding. I have been waiting 10 years to top that shooting experience but to date nothing has quite done it for me. I challenge any one of you to be my next EPIC Destination Wedding and I promise if I get to go to another amazing continent with my amazing hubby it will definitely be my new #1. Iceland? Scotland? Africa? Australia? Germany? I'm not picky, you choose!!!

 

 

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andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) Beach Beautiful Bride Camera Cancun Destination Favorite Groom Hotel Location Mexico Photographer Photography Playa del Carmen RIU Sand Tropical Wedding https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/the-most-epic-location-i-have-ever-shot-a-wedding Sun, 09 Feb 2020 20:00:00 GMT
How & Why I Became A Wedding Photographer https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/why-i-became-a-photographer Celebrating 35 years as a Wedding Photographer!  

Andrea Cleghorn owner of Cleghorn PhotographyFind your passion and celebrate life by using it to your fullest potential!

     Few people can say that they went to high school for a specific career and then carried that same career throughout their life. I feel very fortunate to say that I am one of those few, and at 14 years old I knew I wanted to be a photographer. It happened by accident really, although I would love to take credit for making that career choice all on my own. As a young girl growing up in New England, I had the amazing privilege of going to a vocational high school, Shawsheen Tech in Billerica Massachusetts, for my education and to learn a trade. At the time I was an aspiring artist and loved to draw so naturally I chose classes to help me pursue that career path. I was accepted into the "Commercial Art/Technical Illustration" department and to say I was excited and anxious to start would be an understatement. Fortunately for me, I had a brutally honest teacher and he pointed out one minor detail flaw in my plan: I sucked at drawing. 

    Now I'm a big believer of the "everything happens for a reason" theory but when you're 14 years old your brain does not reason this way. I'm not gonna lie, I was really offended that my teacher (who I looked up to) didn't think I was a good illustrator or even an artist. But he had a plan and although I didn't see it at the time, it was genius. He convinced me to construct a pinhole camera and experiment on making paper negatives. I had no idea how to do this, or even WHY I had to do this because to me it was stupid. It was NOT why I was in school and definitely not in my career path plan. Against my better judgement  I made the camera shoe box, brought it outside, took my finger off the pinhole and counted to 10. Easy enough. Task completed. Now what?

    At this point in my daunting task I was completely unimpressed but not wanting to fail an assignment, I was determined to see it through. As the final step, I needed to process my paper negative to see what my shoebox camera captured and obtain a grade for my assignment. In a photo darkroom with only a red light to help me see what I was doing, I took the small piece of exposed but undeveloped photo paper out of the shoebox and dropped it in a tray of liquid developer. What happened next changed my life. As small as that moment sounds, it completely captivated me and changed me forever. In an instant, and almost like magic, that little plain white piece of photo paper held an image of nothing but a walkway and some trees but to me it was so much more than that. I was hooked, I was going to be a photographer, and I had NO IDEA what to do next! Writing this now I really wish I still had that symbolic piece of photo paper.

     As time went by I took photos whenever I could but still couldn't find that "career" purpose I was longing for. I bought a camera, shot sporting events, recorder several vacations, and photographed family and friends, but none of these things seemed to click with me as a way to support myself and evolve into a career. I was a teenager doing life, going to school, playing sports, and really wasn't stressing on my career anymore, just having fun like most kids that age do. Looking back I wish I was more focused on figuring out what kind of photography I wanted to do. What I didn't know was that once again, by chance, my future would be spun in a direction that would carry me the rest of my life. Let me explain...

     Now in order for you to understand how this all played out I need to explain to you the kind of high school I went to. Back east, specifically New England, there were vocational high schools that focused on teaching kids a trade that they could use after graduation if they chose not to go to college. But, in order for you to graduate you needed either a college acceptance, military acceptance, or job in you trade of study. These trades were broken down into "shops" and each shop was designed to look like it would in the real world to simulate a working environment. There was a cosmetology department that looked like a hair salon, an automotive department that looked like a mechanic shop, a culinary department that looked like a bakery and restaurant, etc... All together if my memory is correct, there was 22 shops to choose from so the choices were vast.

     Along with students learning in a working environment, the school allowed the general public to come to the school to use their services at a fraction of the retail cost. You could order your wedding cake in the bakery, get your hair colored in the salon, order business cards from data processing, get you car fixed in the auto shop, and so many more things at significantly lower prices. Knowing this, one of my photo teacher's former students came back one day and asked him if he had a student that was good enough to photograph her wedding in a few months. Her budget? $300 and that was more than I made working part time in a month! Without hesitation he chose me and although I wanted to temporally freak out, I also didn't hesitate at this amazing opportunity. I had never shot a wedding but something inside of me knew I could totally do it and I jumped at the chance. I was 16 and this was my very first wedding.

     After shooting that wedding my career purpose was so clear it has carried me through 35 years and served me well. They say most wedding photographers become burnt out after several years but not me. I am proud to be a wedding photographer and proud to say I have become a master at my craft. To this day I am still going strong shooting upwards of 50 weddings a year and traveling all over the United States doing it. I want to give a big shout out to the teacher that made me a photographer, Mr Gene Hailson, for he is 100% the reason I found my way. Without his faith and guidance I can't say that I would ever have become a photographer or even picked up a camera for that matter. From the bottom of my heart I thank him and I know he knows exactly how I feel. As for that bride that gave me the amazing opportunity in capturing her big day, well I'm ashamed and a little embarrassed to say I cannot remember her name or her hubby's. I would love to know that they are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary this year and I would love to find them someday for a little reunion and maybe even a photo shoot. I have started my search and hopefully I will find them soon.

     In final thoughts, if you are able to turn your passion into a career, DO IT! There is nothing better than working at a job that you love rather than one you despise. I consider myself so blessed I was able to create a life I could enjoy rather than work, work, work, only to retire and then try to enjoy whatever life I have left. I was able to stay home, raise 4 kiddos, and although we didn't live in a mansion we did alright. Life is tough but if you enjoy what you are doing and who you are doing it with it can be so rewarding. 


 

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andrea@cleghornphotography.com (Cleghorn Photography) Billerica bride camera career couples groom high school learn Massachusetts milestone New England photo photographer photography. Shawsheen shoot teacher Tech trade wedding https://www.cleghornphotography.com/blog/2020/2/why-i-became-a-photographer Mon, 03 Feb 2020 00:30:20 GMT