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Author Archives: Stephanie Messick

Born and raised on a family owned dairy farm in Fauquier County, along with two siblings, Amanda and Eric. Graduated Liberty High School and went to James Madison University, where I participated in Kappa Pi Honors Fraternity as well as the Marching Royal Dukes! GO DUKES! Graduated in May of 2012 with my B.F.A. in Graphic Design. I worked as a graphic designer in the D.C. area for almost a year after graduating college and then resided in Warrenton, VA to work for the Piedmont Press & Graphics as one of four graphic designers :) Currently, I am managing to balance my full time graphic design job along with my photography business! It's a hectic lifestyle, but I enjoy it!!! About my photography business: I have learned in the world of photography that it is not just about pretty photos, it is all about the EXPERIENCE the photographer gives to the client. And that is what I am out here to do! Give YOU the best experience that you will not forget! From the moment we schedule the session... to the laughs/smiles we share the day of the shoot... to the moment I hand over the package of your images... I make sure that every step of the way leaves my client smiling :)

Weekend Recap | Happy May!

HAPPY MAY everyone!!! This sunny weather has me in an energetic mood and I’m excited to go to the gym today to run off this energy. I realize I need to go when I feel that motivation … who is with me on that? This past weekend was pretty awesome but also super busy. All worthwhile of course. :)

It started with an event I hosted for my SMP Brides (Stephanie Messick Photography Brides). I have DRASTICALLY slowed down my schedule for this month in preparation for the weddings I have booked. My dad texted me earlier last week letting me know that his fields were covered in yellow flowers! This makes my heart sing and I knew I needed to make a session happen there after photographing in the yellow flowers last year. :) Instead of hosting it for only one couple to enjoy, I thought why not open it up to my couples! There were ten minute time slots from 6:30-8:00 p.m. and I was able to document couple after couple during that short time we had together for whoever was interested. It was great for both parties because I was able to push myself due to the limited amount of time we had together while my couples were able to have updated spring portraits in a field of flowers. :) It was so much fun and a huge hit! Cannot wait to showcase more this week!

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Saturday was finally Sean and Zari’s wedding day!!!! It was a jam packed day with events from the moment I arrived until midnight. It was SO much fun seeing Sean and Zari celebrate with their family and friends … and boy do they know how to party! Cannot wait to share more from their big day this week!!!

Sean & Zari | Heritage Hunt CC previewSean & Zari | Heritage Hunt CC preview

Oh and just a little side note! I FINALLY met one of my social media photog friends, Jennifer! She’s beautiful inside and out and I’m so glad we are officially not internet friends, but real life friends! :) Haha! Oh and my lovely second shooter, Ali, and I were SO thrilled to have had the chance to have henna done during the reception! I couldn’t sit down long enough for them to finish mine because I wanted to be on the dance floor but at least I had a little bit done for the experience. So cool! Unfortunately, Ali’s rubbed off pretty fast but I can see a little bit of the markings left at least. :) What a fun night!

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Sunday was my relaxation day! :) While I cleaned my equipment from Saturday’s wedding, backed up my photos and played housewife by cleaning the house/making dinner, I could not help but to be on cloud nine after a joy-filled weekend! The sun really brightens my mood and I am so glad I was able to enjoy a sunny Sunday for once! It feels like forever since I have had a work-free sunny day so I am glad Kyle and I were able to enjoy it together. We hung out in the sun with Kyle’s family/nieces/nephews/cousins just purely enjoying God’s beautiful masterpiece. Afterwards, we took a little lunch of cheese and crackers and drank some yummy sangria at Phillip Carter. If you have never been, you have to try their sangria. :) It’s so so SO good! I hope everyone was able to enjoy the lovely weather! HAPPY MONDAY!

2015 Wedding Photographer | Goals

This past winter blew by faster than I could keep up and tomorrow is May 1st, the month I have been anticipating after all of this time. Months and months of preparation, all to make sure I was ready for the wedding season and finally it is here! Even though I wasn’t photographing as much as the busy season, I was still keeping myself busy from week to week. At the beginning of the winter season (December), I wrote out this list and continued to add when I thought of another goal. This was my master list and from week to week, I would assign myself 2-3 tasks (depending on how heavy the load was) so it was more manageable. :)

2015 Winter Goals:
Logo Tweak
Website Design/Photo Update
Blog Design Update
Install External Hard Drive Disks
Redesign Office Space
Design and Print Two Sample Albums
Modify Package Design/Gifts
Purchase and Prepare 2015 Packages (Portraits/Weddings/Gifts)
Taxes
Simplify Client Profile
Update Questionnaire: More in Depth Questions
Design and Print Welcome Magazines
Update Email Templates
Sell Equipment
Update Album Guide / Album Contract
Design Print Order Form
Update Investment Guide
Apply Google Location (still waiting for verification from Google)
Head Shots
Calibrate Cameras / Lenses
Email 2014 Brides End of the Year Survey
Redesign / Organize Client Photo Site
Purchase Postage Supplies / Create USPS Account
Figure Out 2015 Budgets
Optimize Website / Blog for Mobile Devices
Work on SEO
Submissions (definitely still working on this)
Redesign / Print 2015 Planner
Insert all 2015 Client Information into Planner
Backup Computer Designs
Plan 5k Bride Run

I drew out this crazy list of goals I wanted to complete and somehow I just about crossed everything off. The funny thing is that even though I accomplished most of these tasks, THIS doesn’t define me.

Sure it’s great to cross off ambitious goals but after everything is settled and done, it’s just a list.

2015 Wedding Photographer | Goals

I do have peace of mind knowing I don’t have to balance these tasks during the busy season so I can solely focus on my couples/portrait clients. So yes, that does make it seem worthwhile. Next winter I will continue to value goals but I won’t put it first priority like I did this past winter … and not as many tasks. Haha! Set your goals high but also remember at the end of the day, it is just a list and you have a life to LIVE! What I am hoping for is that my hard work will allow me to continue working for this dream. It is so so so hard being a business owner because from year to year, it can be unpredictable! Sometimes I worry with raising my pricing that I won’t have brides booking, but God always seem to provide when least expected! So many changes are happening this year and I am scared out of my mind, but I have faith. :) Dream, pray and make it happen!

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | WhatWhen I was planning my blog for this week, I realized I haven’t done a “What’s in my bag” series! I have been asked many times what equipment I use, so why not write a blog post about it? :) This will be a new series I will continue for this spring/summer with this post being the introduction to my equipment. We will get to know every piece of equipment and their importance over the weeks to come. If you come across any questions when looking through this list, write in the comment section and I will be sure to answer them throughout the series. :)

These are the lenses I keep on hand for every wedding (photo not including the lens I used for this photograph: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G). I LOVE prime lenses so really I barely touch the 24-70mm, but it is a great lens for a super wide angle ceremony shot or reception shot. Again, I’ll be going more in depth for each lens over the weeks. From left to right I have lined up: Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G, Nikkor 35mm f/2.4G and the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.
Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

Below, is a photo of my baby, Nikon D4!!! I cannot tell you enough how amazing this investment was … and definitely an investment!!! I will go in more depth about this camera and what led me to this purchase 1.5 years ago. Oh and of course, I am in LOVE with my leather customized Fotostrap! The quality of this camera truly stands out from the line up … not to mention, the ISO creates beautiful photos when I am in darker environments.

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

It is SO necessary to be prepared for anything to come your way, especially as a wedding photographer. Backups ARE absolutely an important investment. I actually started with my D700 before purchasing the D4 and it has gone through so much, but still use it as a great backup camera. :) I purchased the D750 last year as a backup to my backup since I had my second shooter using my D700. Better to be over prepared than not prepared enough! Even though they honestly sits in my bag, I feel reassured and confident during a wedding day.

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

Speaking of being over prepared, it is also necessary to cycle through cards! My cameras take Compact Flash (except for my new D750: takes SD cards and I still use the same brand) and I really trust SanDisk Extreme! They have been SO reliable from portrait sessions to the wedding day. I feel at ease when I have these cards because I am able to continue photographing portrait sessions throughout the week while having the original copy of the wedding photos sit on the card until I am completely finished with the edits. I also backup the wedding photos on three different sources on top of the original copy on the cards. Extra reassurance. :)

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

This is important! I love the D4 because it has an extra slot for BACKUP photos!!! Take advantage of that slot my friends! If something happens to that card, it is so good to have a backup just in case! My Nikon body takes XQD cards and even though it was an investment to purchase these … SO SO SO worth it! Again, a wedding day can only happen once so extra reassurance is absolutely hands down necessary. I use these for both wedding day and portrait sessions.

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

Every photographer is different with their light set up but I prefer speed lights during reception shots. I use my two SB-910s (one on my camera and one off set up on a stand) and have the SB-700 as a backup. Again, backups are crucial. ;) I’ll be talking more about these in my future blog post but I currently love my set up at receptions!

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

If you use speed lights, you know how many batteries you can go through EASILY in just one night!!! Gosh, I remember the days of throwing away 12-16 batteries PER wedding … such a waste. I am SO thankful I purchased Eneloop batteries years ago because it has saved me so much money! I have eight sets of four (32 rechargeable batteries) so I am all set! I only go through 12 batteries per wedding (two speed lights + 2 triggers) and cycle through these sets from wedding to wedding. LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!!

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

Here are some random stuff that I carry in my bag … Expodisk for color correcting on the spot, BACKUP CAMERA BODY BATTERIES (again, so necessary!), cleaning equipment, Compact Flash holders (Pelican is amazing) and of course my Yongnuo trigger set (2)! I’ll go more in depth regarding the triggers when I talk about the speed lights. :)

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

Personal random stuff: Extra pair of shoes for reception, a little snack, Ice Breakers (absolutely!), hand sanitizer, Burts Bees (ohhhh I have these in every bag possible), Advil, Business cards, flashlight (why not?), Tide to Go pen and a pen! I have other little knick knacks but I find these used often from wedding to wedding. :)

Warrenton, Virginia Wedding Photographer | What

Looking forward to continuing this series with you all! Happy Wednesday!! If you have any questions that you want me to go over in the future posts, write your question below. :)

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom’s Birthday and I wanted to give her a shout out on my blog. :) Growing up in a home of entrepreneurs gave me the confidence that I can establish a business, all thanks to my parents! I admire my mom so much for her work ethic, support and enthusiasm. Without these qualities, I am not sure where my family would be. Her and Cheryl joined forces to create M&M Quilting … gosh, it seems like yesterday but I believe they are not too far off of a decade in the next couple of years. Their business has taken off over the years and I am so proud!!! My mom has so much joy when she is around others, it’s seriously contagious! She absolutely needs to be in a profession surrounded by good hearted people and it seems like the quilting business has just that! I know her customers admire her SO much and I love how she pours out her heart to them. That’s exactly what I want to do in return to my couples. <3 I look forward to see what the future brings to my mom’s life. She deserves every bit of happiness!

But today, work can be put on hold in order to truly celebrate her well deserved day. We are going to hang out by the campfire, drink some wine and have some yummy food this evening to celebrate! So thankful to have you in my life, mom! Happy Birthday!!! Oh and because my beautiful grandmother’s Birthday was last week, I thought it was appropriate to include a three generation photo on the blog. :) Happy Birthday to both of these special role models of my life!

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  • April 28, 2015 - 9:47 pm

    Cyndi Messick - Thank you, my dear! Love you, and we’ll have a great time tonight!

    BTW … the quilting is 5-1/2 years now! ;-)

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I realized this past weekend was my last free weekend for the next ten weeks due to the wedding season. Plans were made to enjoy the outdoors and soak up the warm sunshine by the water while camping … that changed when spring went on a little vacation! It’s okay though because I was excited when my friends were able to have a girls day Saturday! Doesn’t happen very often with our typical conflicting schedules. :) It is so good to the soul to get away from the working mind and be spontaneous with dear friends. Yesterday, Kyle and I didn’t make any plans except soak up some sunshine, run out for some yummy cheese and crackers and rent a Redbox movie, The Imitation Game. :) A wonderfully spent Sunday! By the way, the movie was awesome! Be sure to pick it up and check it out yourself!! Cheers to a beautiful start to this last week of April!

Last week, I was a part of a beautiful Cinderella styled shoot and I am excited to share with you a little sneak peek!!!
Cinderella Styled Shoot | Warrenton, VA wedding photographer

This week, I am hoping to take advantage of these yellow flowers!!! I hope the weather cooperates to make this work. :)
Wildflower Field Virginia Spring Engagement Photographer

Enjoy the spring weather this week! 70 degrees and sunny tomorrow for my mom’s Birthday! :)

Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding Photographer

I remember meeting Kaitlin for the first time and thinking, goodness she’s stunning! On her wedding day, she was nothing less of striking! Her dress hung in the corner of the room where her bridesmaids and family admired because … it was FINALLY the big day after months of planning!!! She slipped gracefully into her gown and had her lovely bridesmaids help with her accessories. Laughs and giggles were shared around the room as the bride cracked a few jokes. But in between those laughs, I found myself in awe with how classy and elegant Kaitlin looked in her beautiful lace with tulle overlay dress! We walked outside to the stoney creek backdrop at the gorgeous Mill at Fine Creek to start taking portraits. Despite all of the cameras surrounding her (two photographers / two videographers), Kaitlin was effortless and graceful! This also reflects who she is because besides her enchanting appearance, Kaitlin has a sweet heart. It’s clear why Jared asked her to be his wife. :)

Thank you Kaitlin for honoring me with documenting your wedding day and these bridal portraits. :) You looked amazing! Wishing you and Jared the best marriage! xoxo!

Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerThis is a bracelet Kaitlin’s father gave her to wear on her wedding day. :) We joked that it must have a tracker on it because it won’t come off! Hahahha!
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerKaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerLOVE this left shot!!! Gorgeous smile!
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerGorgeous lace trim on her dress … not to mention the straps were handmade for her dress. Great touch!
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerKaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerKaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerHer grandmother’s ring tied on to her bouquet as a little memorial. <3
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerThanks Krysta for the behind the scenes photo! :)
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerI love that smile!!!
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerKaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerKaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerGosh, I am in love with this photo! Kaitlin, you look so pretty!!!!
Kaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding PhotographerKaitlin Bridal Portraits | The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan Virginia Wedding Photographer

Again, CONGRATS Jared and Kaitlin!!! xoxo!

Venue: The Mill at Fine Creek, Powhatan
Day of Coordinator: Colleen, The Mill at Fine Creek
Photographer: Stephanie Messick Photography
Second Shooter: Krysta Norman Photography & Paperie
Hair and Makeup: Jennifer Saunders and team
Florist: M. Henry Designs
Videographer: The Girl Tyler