Discovering My Photography Style

It was that time of year.  Snow was falling, festive lights lacing houses, a regular winter wonderland in Ontario.  It was December of 2010 and time for Ben's annual company Christmas dinner.  

This year we celebrated at a Edelweiss Tavern.  A dimly lit Alps themed banquet hall with buffet style service.  Ben had been telling me about this photographer who he worked with.  At the time they were a husband and wife team, shooting weddings and family portraits.  The lead photographer was John and his second shooter, Kerry.  I wanted to meet them, so badly.  At this point, I was an island, doing this all on my own.  

I was a bag of nerves.  As a brand new photographer, I didn't think anyone would take me seriously.  My work needed improvement, but my desire and hustle were absolutely there.  


Branding and headshot circa 2011


We sit down at our banquet table with them.  Ben, bridges the conversation.  He tells them that I'm a photographer, while I blush, "Well, I'm a new photographer".  They don't miss a beat.  They start opening up immediately, graciously welcoming me into the elusive "photographer club."  We chat about business, the art of it all, I am treated as a colleague.  

A few months later I was second shooting my first wedding for John.  I still remember the advice he gave me, how to prepare.  Things like, "Bring Gatorade to hydrate, always clean your car in case someone needs a ride, be ready to jump in and help with anything for the bridal party."  That day I pinned boutonnieres on the groomsmen, held reflectors, and nervously shot from other angles, as he directed.  It was the kindest introduction to wedding photography that I could have experienced.  



The Experimenting

I knew that weddings were my passion.  With weddings, there is no style experimenting allowed.  I had to find my niche.  When booking a wedding, you must be true to the images that couples see presented.  Consistency.  This was my dilemma.  I hadn't decided what my aesthetic would be.  I liked so many styles!

Pinterest was still new in the spring of 2011.  It was very helpful as I learned what pulls at my heart.  

Somehow, I needed to stand out.  At first, I thought this was through actions and filters.  Hello, texture overlays.  That yellow tinting, gahhh, now I cringe.  

I went through some suuuuper bad editing days, you guys.  Not with my weddings, but a few portraits and my own, personal projects.  


The Discovery

Then, I came across a book.  This book would transform my mindset and reveal my true style.  Jose Villa's Fine Art Wedding Photography revolutionized my business.  His fine art approach spoke to me in every way.  

In the book he describes approaching a wedding as a collection.  From start to finish you are thinking about the album and creating a cohesive gallery of images.  Just as a museum curates an institution's collections. 

Look at the wedding and details that speak to the personality of the couple, that is a part of their story.  Take that in, then create custom wedding art out of the entire day.

His humble and high end art perspective revolutionized my approach.  He shares about capturing authentic skin tones and creating timeless wedding work.  He pushed me to make my images amazing, not the post processing.  When your work is solid, you only need a little polish.  


The Medium

I am often asked, by those in the photography world, if I shoot film.  That may seem like a strange question to those outside of the photography world.  

It sounds total old school, and it kind of is, but with a modern twist.  Using older medium format cameras do create a certain quality that digital has not mastered.  

So, the next question, would I use film?  Jose Villa is the master of film photography.  Any photographer who inspired me also shot medium format film.   

I wasn't alone in my search.  In the summer of 2011, it was the early beginning of the niche explosion of fine art film photography.  

I was given a 35 mm Nikon which I used to experiment.  It was scary, no back-of-camera affirmation.  I had to go with my technical knowledge and gut.  I loved it!  But, the further I explored, the more doubts I had about it.  

The outcome of a Contax 645 can be right out of a dream.  But, there are risks as well involving old equipment, film sourcing, and the ongoing processing expenses.  

For the way I wanted to run my business, it wasn't a true match.  

I'm still a passionate lover of film photography, and likely always will be.  I will also continue experimenting and maybe even incorporate it into some of my work on a wedding day.  But, I'm primarily a digital photographer who takes a fine art approach to my work.


The Results

So it began, learning to curate a wedding, from start to finish.  Telling a story through styling pretty details and portrait backdrops that fit the aesthetic of that wedding.  Searching for the very best light, harnessing it for a special glow.  All while still capturing candid moments and emotion unfolding all around. 

Throughout a wedding day I am continually thinking about the cohesiveness of the collection.  First, finding good light.  Second, styling my details and portraits with backgrounds that are in line with the overall aesthetic.  Also, keeping an eye out candid moments.  

This approach gives me life and feeds my creative soul.  When others connect with that feeling, it makes me so happy.  Because, at the end of the day, my job is making wedding art that brings joy to couples. 


These images are from my very first official wedding as the main shooter.  

Mark & Ainslie are always going to be a super special couple to me.  They designed a gorgeous wedding (It was featured on Style Me Pretty) and took a chance on a newer photographer.  They are now a family of four with two little ones just as gorgeous as they are.

Looking back, I now see all of those little pieces that came into my life, setting my trajectory.  I am so grateful.  

I am thankful for that first wedding where I second shot.  Thankful that John and Kerry gave me a chance, welcoming me.  Grateful for experts like Jose Villa who share generously so that we can all grow in our craft.  

Most of all, grateful to each couple who gives me the gift of entering and capturing their lives.  

xoxo Lovelies

My Wedding Day - Things I Would Do Differently

Ben and I sat on a bench at the new Citrus Park Mall in Tampa.  Well, it was new then.  It was February of 2005 and I was on winter break from teaching in China.  We were soaking up every moment together before half a world separated us again. 

We have an easy way with each other.  We were good friends before things became romantic.  Distance had a way of forcing a lot of communication in our lives. 

His tone changes, I look into his eyes.  He holds my hand asking what type of ring I might want – you know, should a proposal happen.  I immediately felt giddy (and a little nervous).   We soon began discussing theoretical wedding dates, asking how long I would need to plan a wedding.  

While unconventional to discuss wedding ideas prior to a proposal, our relationship wasn’t really typical.  We lived half a world apart and this was our last time seeing each other for the next four months.  We were young and in love, the months seemed like years. 

A proposal did come, during his first visit to see me when I returned home.  That’s a story for another day, but it involves a beach, a guitar, Beach Boy song, and lots of mushy gushy squeals of delight. 

I dreamed big over pages of Martha Stewart wedding magazines.  I cut out pages of inspiration for my ever-growing notebook. 

My color palette was a sea green with lots of white.  I’ve always loved simple beauty.  I opted to go for short bridesmaid dresses, they were the latest thing in 2006.  I liked that they didn’t feel too stuffy. 

I brought in coastal elements with chocolate seashells as favors and topping our white three-tiered wedding cake.

Probably my favorite reception décor piece came from a department store.  We were friends with the owner of the Bealls department store in our town.  He graciously lent us their tall white palm trees for the head table. 

Would I do things differently now?  Absolutely.  Now that I am past the trivial and immediate regrets, here are my bigger picture regrets.

Things I Would Do Differently Now



If I could do it over again, I would have been married on the beach somewhere.  I love the beach, and who cares about crazy logistics.  I should have just done it. 


Wedding Planning Team

I should have hired a wedding planner to help me with all of the logistics.   Leading up to the wedding, I did everything.  My bridal party and family were scattered all over and weren’t able to help. 

The two days before, and during, the wedding I used a lot of friends and family for projects.  While there were fun moments, I wish I would have been spending more quality time with everyone visiting me.  They will never be in one place, all together, again.


Guest List

We had 300 guests on our wedding day, far too many.  I wish now that we had been surrounded by our very closest friends and family.  Of course, this is totally personal preference.  I was trying to please too many people in the planning process.  We should have limited our guest list and put some of that budget towards other areas. 



While I feel good about my vision skills, having someone to help me execute that vision would have been super helpful.  A stylist would have been a huge asset for my wedding day.    That kind of expertise would have been worth every penny.



Dun, dun, dun.  Here it is.  I wish I’d looked for timeless photography.  You guys, I have selective color pictures in my album!  Ahhh.  I wish I had found someone I loved and flown them to my wedding and paid them well. 

I have about three images that I absolutely love from that day.  They are black and white images of Ben and me and I am so grateful for those few treasures. 

The biggest regrets are not investing in high quality professionals who could have made life easier (for everyone) and more beautiful. 

I was the kind of person who took great pride in coming in under budget, well under budget.  I wish I had used the difference to invest in a few key places.  A budget is very important, I’m a big believer in wise financial living.  But, a wedding planner can help you navigate that budget, maximizing your dollars. 

There you go, my top regrets for my wedding day.  Nothing earth shattering, because, really, the most important thing happened.  I married the love of my life. 

We still have that easy way with each other.  He is my happily ever after. 






Our Little Valentines

Valentine's Day of 2003 I was sitting at a restaurant table with my girlfriends in Michigan. We celebrated Galentine's Day before it was a thing.

Ben entered my life by Valentine's Day of 2005, my first time celebrating this holiday in a romantic way. He overdid it with the gifts, chocolate, and all around boyfriend sweetness. Not that I'm complaining. 

Picture of a mother and her son, looking at each other in Ormond Beach, Florida.

Then, there came the littles. Life changed around here. Like, a lot.

I'm a believer that any holiday is what you make it.

My hope is that my children remember this holiday surrounded in the love of their family. We have an annual tradition of the Eby Family Valentine's Date Night.

Each of the Eby boys takes each of the Eby girls out on a date - all together. Since we have three of each, it works out perfectly. Well, you know, as perfectly as it can be taking four children under 8 to a restaurant.

We ask fun questions in between, "No, Davis, sit back down, you'll fall and crack your head." and "No, Juliet, don't touch the fire pit, that's dangerous!".

Larissa tells us about the time when she was afraid to jump, but she did it anyways and, "It was AWESOME!". Carter tells us that if he were a season it would be fall because, "you know, it's not too hot and it's not too cold and all of the leaves change colors. I like it for the colors." (of course, this is only when visiting Canada).

After dinner we let them run on the beach - after all, there's only so much sitting still these guys can handle. I love seeing them be wild and free.

Carter comes up with a game to play. Larissa joins in with all the smiles and laughter. Juliet twirls in the sand, in her own little world. Davis gravitates to the sign with numbers, trying to figure it out, just like Carter would have done at his age. He's happy just hanging out.

I watch it all, knowing that in this blip of time, I have four little valentines.  That makes me quadruple the lucky one.