5 Tips for Styling Detail Photos

If you couldn't tell by the looks of my instagram, bright and lively details are my jam. The love for styling up small vignettes has always been in my blood ever since days as an interior designer/freelance photographer taking shots of beautifully styled food. So when it comes to pretty wedding details the girlie girl in me loves to let her imagination run wild. I adore them so much so that photographing them has become a trademark of mine and has remained one of my favorite parts of a wedding day. I truly enjoy piecing together the baubles and bits that curate a wedding and take great pride in producing bright, eclectic images of celebratory trinkets for couples to treasure. Typically tucked away into a small, well-lit corner of a hotel room, Brides often peek over to take a look at the behind-the-scenes, declaring they had to see the set-up in action. Below are my Five Tips for Styling Detail Photos:

Educate Your Client

Setting up fabulously coiffed images takes time, and for a detail oriented perfectionist such as myself, lots of it. Getting a ring to balance inside a flower petal is no easy feat, and the smallest breeze of wind can send your entire invitation set-up scattering across the room. Well before the timeline planning stages of their wedding day inform your Bride or their coordinator exactly how much time you need for detail shots. When I arrive on a wedding day I immediately get to work photographing these meaningful elements: rings, shoes, jewelry, flowers, etc. and require a minimum of an hour; totally uninterrupted (as my client's have fabulous taste to document, an hour and a half is preferred). I explain to them while they are getting their hair and make-up done I will be close by photographing their details, emerging for "getting ready" shots when their make-up is nearly complete. Prior to the wedding day I also request these special elements be gathered and ready to be styled upon my arrival and suggest they bring along any extras they'd like to include (i.e. Invitation suite, any ribbon used in arrangements, guest favors, wedding day stamps, etc.). Having those additional accoutrement makes sure the pieces of their well-thought out day are fully documented. Plus, all those tidbits add some extra styling umph.

Set Up in Good Light

The key to visually appealing images is the right light. Before getting started I find a well-lit area to "set-up shop", typically in front of a sliding glass door or large hotel window. In this small 4x4 space is where I curate most of my detail shots in even, diffused light. Bonus points if it's on a white bed or neutral ottoman! If lighting is scarce this is where an assistant holding a video light (still by a window if possible) is clutch. I've been known a time or 10 to fling open every curtain in a room like Cinderella to her stepssters. Let in the light, baby! In the photo below (shot in film) the room was very dark with one small window. I placed the shoes on a white bedspread and asked my assistant to hold a small but mighty video light to my left side. bonus tip: Having a piece of white foam core board on hand is versatile, great for a simple background or in a pinch as a reflector.

Be Resourceful

Knowing the couple's style I look around my location for colors, textures or elements that compliment the feel of the day. For a vintage farm wedding I'll head into the kitchen to use a wooden table to photograph a boutonnière on, snag a Bridesmaid's glitter gold clutch as a backdrop for rings, or even add touches of "partly in the frame" styling extras. My assistants are forever out picking leaves and foraging for berries (literally!) that I can incorporate (don't worry, they don't mind...) or borrowing decor from the reception site (that we put back, of course). In the ring photo below the hula dancer print is actually a photo I took off the wall at the Billabong House. Open your eyes, get creative, and see the possibilities! bonus tip: If you have a good relationship with the florist, email ahead of time and ask to include a few loose flowers when they deliver the bouquets to the room. This way you have some on hand for styling!

Study What's Around You.

I know it sounds ridiculous but details have always come naturally to me, it just takes time and practice to hone your eye and continue to define a signature look. I credit my passion for curating to my affinity for eye candy, I am always ooh-ing and ahh-ing over perfectly placed things. If you don't know where to begin, start absorbing the way things are around you (not just photographs). When thinking of a scene I consider a lot of things: colors, composition, textures and elements that add an extra thoughtful touch and dimension in framing (I love to have pieces on the edges of a photo), but most of all how items would lay naturally. As a girl I pay close attention to how my shoes drop onto the floor, how my bangles stack up when I strip them off onto the counter, and how artfully my laundry draps over my chair (truly!). Then I try to recreate those realistic settings and often times take pictures of details at events simply as they lay instead of putting one grubby finger on it. As much as crafting to perfection can be an art, so can shooting something just as it is. bonus tip: Anthropologie is a GREAT store for styling inspiration and their catalogs are always impeccably done.

Practice at Home

Walk around your house and collect things to pair together. Dig into your  jewelry box and find some bling to photograph. Take your time and test what works and what doesn't on your own time so when you arrive on a wedding day you are comfortable, confident, and ready to make it fabulous. Bonus tip: You'll wind up with some fun "stock" instagram + blog post photos. I mean, really, you don' t think I get boxes of donuts THIS often do you?!?!  Okay, maybe I do, I'll never tell. 









Oh, Herro! Back on December 1st with a VENGEANCE + excitedly with some Cyber Monday deals. Am I the only one creeped out by the word "cyber"? Yes? Okay whatev.

Happily announcing 50% off ALL prints at www.AshleyGoodwinPrints.com, including client galleries, Thailand and even my favorite Hawai'i prints! All orders ship directly from my print lab straight to your door. Use the code "SPIKETHEPUNCH" at checkout all throughout the wee hours. Offer expires Tuesday, Dec. 2nd at midnight. Just added 10 new Waikiki beach photos, too, perfect to fill all those sale picture frames you snagged on Black Friday. Go check it! xo

My New Storybook Albums

It took me quite a while to start offering albums to clients, not because they can be tedious to design but because in my search for the perfect heirloom I simply couldn't find anything that I loved. I am a huge huge hugeeeeee advocate of tangible print products so offering beautiful quality storybooks along with heirloom prints only made sense, however picking the perfect company that fit my style, brand, desire for modern materials that was also financially accessible to clients was a task (there are some nice albums out there, but $3,500?!?  YIKES! I actually want people to have these babies). So when I finally came across these gorgeous linen products from Millers, I was obsessed. They're chic, stylish and totally affordable. Images look absolutely stunning laid across their thick (not bulky) pages and with the option of simple silver or gold embossing, I'm obsessed. Fabulous keepsakes with lasting power, the perfect Newlywed's coffee table book. Even the manliest of men, my husband, cracked open the pages and said "wow, this is nice...". That, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest test of all. So pretty even a MAN loves it! ;)

I'm super proud to offer these new beauties, Storybook Albums to past and current couples. Available in 8x8, 8x10, 10x8 or 10x10. Parent albums make great holiday gifts too, just in time for Father's Day!

Email for pricing: Ashley@AshleyGoodwinPhotography.com

New Wedding Packaging

For years pulling together this final element of my brand felt nearly impossible to complete. I'm the type of person who envisions precisely what she wants then finds it exceptionally frustrating when I can't track down exactly what I dreamed up at 4 o'clock in the morning in stores. When compiling ideas for my brand I knew that I wanted to deliver a final package to clients because let's face it, nothing is more exhilirating than receiving something in the mail -- why else do people order their toothpaste from Amazon?!? As a girl who is easily excited over carefully packaged goods, slowly peeling away stickers and opening envelopes, soaking in every little pristine detail, I knew I wanted my clients to have the same experience delivered to their doorstep, to feel the love and appreciation I have for them, and to relive the celebratory moments of their gorgeous event as they pulled copious amounts of tissue paper out of their postal delivery. Finding just the right elements to specially curate these goodies took sincere time, patience, emails to china ("$52 for each box?!?!?") and a whole lotta trial and error. Inspired by the playful packaging of some of my favorite brands, I wanted it to be a complete reflection of me, beautiful and intricate, less of the fancy ribbons and lace + burlap fine art look and more of laid-back festive fun...dashed with beautiful and local touches in the mix, filled to the brim with things I love and quality heirlooms to treasure. Sadly I did not get the 'perfectly hand-crafted gene', that's my sister. I can come up with the ideas, but executing hand-made and DIY goods isn't typically my strong suit, so I'm pleased to have found custom products I didn't have to straight up make myself, and putting on the finishing touches is something even these stumbly little fingers can carefully manage! An homage to my obsession with old keys, a gold USB (found on Etsy-no longer available--but try ebay!) is adorned with brightly colored handmade tassels brought back from my travels to Thailand. Custom boxes (designed by me with CC artwork from Kt Smail for Design Love Fest) add the perfect touch, with a few small surprises left uncovered. I'm so proud my vision has FINALLY come to life!


Custom boxes: H-b Photo  |  Metallic stripe tissue Paper:  Target (in store)  | Black + white dot tissue paper: Target (in store) |  "Hooray" tape:  Target (in store)  |  Mint ribbon: Benjamin Franklin Crafts (in store)  |  Muslin bags: Etsy  |  Custom Proof Prints: Richard Photo Lab |  Aloha stamp: Locally made (ph: 808-591-2122 | Gold USB: Ebay | Tassels: Chaing Mai Market (brought from Thailand) | Album: Miller's



Wedding Welcome Guide 2014

I am oh so happy to announce that Ashley Goodwin Wedding Welcome Guides are FINALLY complete + exclusively distributed to current couples, HIP HIP! I feel like it was a birthing process, whew! What's a Wedding Welcome Guide, you ask? A digital magazine complete with details on the experience of working together, outlines of the process of wedding day photography, and is jam packed with helpful insider tips and ways to stay on track while actually enjoying your wedding day. In the past I relayed all of this information via conversation (usually during the initial consultation) and email, but found it possibly overwhelming for both myself and engaged couples. I wanted an aesthetically pleasing, exciting and creative way to not only display pertinent information and share learned expertise, but also something tangible couples could go back and reference. So what better way than a digital (+printed) magazine? Issuu is a great platform for that, as it allows uploading of pdfs and the ability to include interactive links!  JACKPOT!  With my new Wedding Welcome Guide client's get the full run-down on what to expect from inquiry to weeks after the wedding, along with behind-the-scenes advice, saving valuable time searching through emails.

Issuu offers both free + paid memberships and is a beautiful online source for sharing digital information. Best of all, you have the choice of publicly listing magazines (like pricing and investment guides) for easy access or unlisting documents, viewed only by those the link is shared. The Ashley Goodwin Welcome Guide is offered exclusively to current wedding couples, however there are lots of online templates (via design aglow) and resources listed here to get inspired for Photographers to design their own creative babies.


The photos worth framing.

I once heard another photographer say "if you'd frame it and hang it on your own wall, blog it".  As a child I'll always remember walking the path to my Mommalou's, climbing high into the light dappled trees scattered througout her front yard.  The way the metal front door to her brick house clangs as it widely swings open.  Picking daffodils from the mix of her well tended flower beds kept by my Uncle Billy.  The way Mommalou would shoo us from behind the mesh door frame when we brought company, covering her mouth saying she's 'in her house coat'.  Our babies, Napoleon and Leo, claiming their territory on the sofa, pillows, laundry, whatever they can find, forever in need of a haircut.  The giant wooden table I proudly made and drug into the dining room without one ounce of help (Pinterest doesn't count).  The time I cut branches off our neighbor's tree at one o'clock in the morning to decorate our Thanksgiving table...and she caught me.  Going all out for the holidays in 2013 and the piney smell of our very first real live Christmas tree.  The moments that turned into days, and the little things I realized I never want to forget.  These are the photos worth framing.   All images shot on film with a Contax 645 + Fuji 400h

10 sources for inspiration (other than Pinterest)

The internet can be a daunting place.  An endless source of ideas, talent,  perfectly lit photographs and images of brides wrapped in overflowing florals and veils.  It's a place where everyone is a little bit famous, and ideas are seemingly 'never new'.  As awesome as it is to constantly be introduced to beautiful, inventive concepts and glorious artists of every kind, even the most self controlled Creative can get sucked into the deadly washing machine that is the comparison trap...sometimes even unknowingly.  Multiple blog posts simultaneously filling your newsfeed showcase "featured on [insert wedding blog here]" boasting gorgeous images.  Fashion blogs adorned with the trendiest of graphics that leave to wondering "why didn't I think of that?".  And Pinterest, providing hours of delicious eye candy but somehow leaving you battered and bruised all the same.  It's nice to step away from the computer monitor and let all the ideas of others  unravel, leaving space for something more exciting and new.  Opening up the door for true inspiration.  If you're feeling a bit lackluster, here are a few of my favorite ways to find inspiration: Engulf yourself in fiction.  The ability words on pages have to completely transport you to another place and feel something is incredible.  Note eloquently devised paragraphs and pull character stories for future reference.  Some of my favorites are The Time Travelers Wife, My Name is Memory + of course, Harry Potter (so magical!  Literally!).

Stream a documentary on HBO Go (or Netflix).  It doesn't have to be photography related (however HBO's series Witness on current war photographers is captivating), but venture your brain outside the realm of where you live and what you know and dive deep into other cultures.  I could watch hours of VICE on HBO (those guys are hilarious and the topics they cover are all completely new to me and eyeopening) and was super inspired by Beyonce's self recorded 'Life is but a dream'.  Some other greats are the September Issue, Katy Perry's Part of Me , Love, Marilyn (the way she approached her career had me fascinated), and Marina Abramovic the Artist is Present is killer.

Catch up on reality TV.  Hahahaha.  No, really!  Hear me out!  Yes, it is full of  drama and typically makes your eyes glaze over sending you into a hypnotic marathoning trance that you just can't. stop. watching...or dvring , however, there are some great reality shows centered around different business models that can be informing and enlightening, sharing perspectives on ideas that are fresh and new.  I loveeeeeeeee seeing two talented girls try to make it in the biz on Empire Girls (the Style Network).  It's like going behind the scenes on photoshoot via America's Next Top Model, and Rachel Zoe has gone from styling in a garage to a legit office on the Rachel Zoe Project.  There are lots of inspiring real life (ish) entrepreneurs on TV and no matter what their profession there is always something to learn from one another.  Tune it and take notes! (on the great points, not the cat fights of course....but can we talk about Brandi calling Joyce Jacqueline for a minute...?)

Go shopping (without any actual money).  Wander boutiques, window shop, and take in all the fabulous and creative store displays that luxury brands have to offer.  Kate Spade is perfect for fun, quirky designs and brilliant color mixing, and Anthropologie's set-ups makes every woman in the world swoon.  When you find something you love, take a photo!  It could be the crux of your next styled shoot.

Venture Out.  Traveling to other countries is a sure fire way to get your creative juices going, however that isn't always feasible, so instead set aside one day to worry to simply travel outside your area.  It can be somewhere as close at 15 minutes away.  Ride up that side street you've always wondered about.  Put your Hunter boots on and trek out into the snowy forest during sunset to finally scope out the light.  Set aside a day to ride around, not just to 'location scout' (although that would be great if you found some places), but to simply see what's out there.  If you DO find some great locations, Pocket Scout is a fabulous app to document them all.

Explore new mediums (+ the artists behind them):  For me, it was picking up film that helped shift my perspective to my heart's desire.  But trying out completely new things is a great way to expand your horizons, find confidence within yourself, and learn lessons new lessons to apply to your business and life.  Pick up some acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby and go to town, or sign up for a dance class (tahitian, anyone?).  You may just make a new friend, too, and that always feel awesome.

Check out performance art:  Maybe buy tickets to a band you aren't that familiar with.  Head to a museum's opening.  Go see the nutcracker for crying out loud! (aheeemmmm, Marshall...).  And if none of those things feel up your alley--check out Jay-Z's "Picasso Baby" documentary (also on HBO) and thank me later.

Get lost in an antique store.  Walk around a true junk shop and learn to train your creative eye to be able to pick out the diamonds in the rough.  It ain't easy, but it's an acquired skill.  Honing your eye in the middle of a cluttered vintage shop is like exercising your creativity eyeball.  Zeroing in on that one unique piece in a sea of trash that catches your attention is an art form that can help curate your own personal tastes tremendously--and help in more dire situations--like perusing the aisles of TJMAXX.  If your creativity eyeball is exhausted from the day, just dig through boxes of vintage photographs and let your imagination run wild.

Pay attention during a movie.  I know you're like "why WOULDN'T I pay attention during a movie?  But really, pay attention.  Analyze the scene transitions.  Step back for a minute and note the color rendering of the film (when oh when is that awful cheeto orange and bright blue look going to go away? Wonder what I'm talking about? Watch Transformers + This Means War).  Learn to appreciate cinematography and compelling storytelling and explore how it can influence your own work.  (the Secret Life of Walter Mitty was pretty awesome for this, and Garden State is always a personal favorite of mine.  I hear Wolf on Wallstreet may NOT be so good for this...).

Become a student of the world.  I am forever taking notes.  I mean forever.  I am like Hugh Heffner and have started an encyclopedia-esque collection of moleskin notebooks.  I write down every quote, every word I love, every time of day that the light is beautiful, and every other little nugget I can imagine.  There is no system, no real rhyme or reason ( I have a notebook for business + life and a notebook for prayers + god...haha, wow...what a symbolic separation there, huh?).  When I'm in need of ideas or  a boost, I just flip through my notebooks and uncover bits of 'hidden treasures' that once seemed long gone.


In the wise words of Grace Coddington "Always keep your eyes open.  Keep watching.  Because whatever you see can inspire you."

Then, of course, you can use Pinterest to organize it all..... ;)  I'd love to hear what you do to get your brain going!  xo






Things I learned the hard way: Business to Bride.

I scurried into the elevator, through the lobby and down the grand stairs, pulling back the drops of  building tears.  I had left the meeting devastated.  You mean to tell me I book the venue and thennnnnn you want to halt me on all of my plans?  In a walk thru with my mother (aka the brains behind the shindig) we had been told a a million different forms of yes and then no and then yes that we could or could not use the decor we had planned on.  Wait, let me get that straight, we couldn't do what we wanted unless we used one of their vendors (aka a 'preferred vendor' aka someone who usually gives the venue a commission when they are booked).  I felt discouraged, betrayed and out of my league.  The second meeting was almost as ridiculous when the caterers tried to tell me I "couldn't" do a family style seating arrangement but instead could utilize one of their floor plans, you know, their go-to for every wedding, the ones they don't even have to think about.  Little did they know I was an interior designer at the time and knew that in fact I could do family style seating, had the measurements down to the inch, and  so we would.  Because after all, it was our wedding, even thought it was starting to seem a lot like theirs.  But the way it was said, with so much authority, they almost had me  believing that they were right and I was wrong and I was a silly, silly girl for even asking questions!  HA!  They are the professionals, let them do their job (which consisted of trying to replicate every other wedding they've done to avoid more work).  Hi, my name is Ashley and homey don't play 'dat. And I realized that my lack of knowledge of exactly how this whole planning a wedding thing worked put me at a disadvantage and even came to show certain vendors didn't have my best interests at heart.   (And certain ones did, like Josh Gooden, Heather Boswell, and our awesome DJ Dan!)

So I wondered who did.  Was it the caterer who scoffed when I asked if we would get to taste the food before we bought it all?  (I still don't know if people do that or not.  Do they? We didn't.  Thankfully it was delicious I hear).  Or the Bridal boutique who was all champagne and smiles when I tried on the $12,000 dress but gave me the discounted service and cold shoulder when I got the sample version (and let me just say my gown was Vera Wang and not full price but still a freaking fortune).  I went into our wedding planning elated and excited and left it feeling like I had crawled out of a battle.  Fighting for what I wanted but getting kicked and tumbled all along the way.  Was it me?  Did everyone else know exactly what the venue coordinator was supposed to do, what their job was, what they offered, what questions to ask (and heaven forbid what NOT to say) and the caterer knew their place, and all we needed to do was point to a book of mundane options proclaiming "I want that" and fork over the money?  Was it the Interior Designer in me that knew what she wanted and how to make it happen paired with the Photographer who had been to weddings and had an idea of the game plan that made it more difficult?  I thought knowing what you wanted was supposed to make it easier for crying out loud! (No, really, probably crying. out .loud.)

Over two years later and gazillions of tears afterward, my answer is no.  I in fact was a rarity, a Bride that was actually somewhat IN the wedding industry who understood the ins and outs that it takes to plan an event, not the case for most planning couples.  When I sit down with couples now I always explain I changed the entire way I do business and approach weddings after being a Bride, and from the bottom of my heart I mean it.  I understand that for most this is their first time planning an event and so what is "a given" to most industry professionals is far from that to a newly engaged couple.  I make it a point to explain the process of photography from start to finish, outlining the experience, listening to their desires, sharing my expertise, and setting expectations.  I vowed to myself to never be a vendor, but to always be the person that has their back. To give the same experience to intimate elopements as those who booked full-day services.  And if someone heaven forbid ever has a disappointment, I promise to listen to them, hear their concern, and go above and beyond to make it right.  Because I've been there.  Sure to some it may sound ridiculously dramatic to admit  and honestly it pains me to still think about all the things that just went, for lack of a better term, to shit, but I was simply crushed after our wedding day. I felt the ball was dropped on so many levels and thank goodness for a few creatives who were the saving grace that helped me see past all the wrongs and have a wee bit of fun (one of my biggest wedding day regrets--being so sad about it all that I wasn't able to enjoy myself).  Sometimes I feel like our wedding day drama is something I just want to forget (but who can forget the church lady screaming at Del that she was going to 'call the cops' before Dad and I walked down the aisle?).  Leaving an interior design consult in the midst of wedding planning, a client took my hand, looked me in my eyes and spoke words that now ring true:  "Now just remember, it's an industry honey".  Dang.  Yeah, it is, and I don't want to be like that.

I always look to that day when I hustled out of the Mint Museum fighting back tears, wondering what I was doing wrong and how other people planned successful events, I hopped in my car, dug my wedding notebook from the depths of my handbag and scribed "Things NOT to do in my business".  And as much as it still pains me to recount parts of the day, I know that my photography, my passion, and my heart for couples is much stronger because of our experience.  And that makes it all worth it.

Back it up.

"It says it can't download my iphone photos because iphoto needs to be restored from a back-up...."  As Marshall tried to problem solve his Macbook, I feared for the worst.  There is nothing scarier than a computer error message, as all of your data and precious saved photo and video flashes before your eyes.  I myself had a Macbook crash on me a few years ago, have had portable hard drives break, smash, and go corrupt (thankfully I learned these lessons early while I will still in college.  There's no worse feeling than seeing the folder with a question mark appear when your Mac starts up--I still have nightmares about it!) and sadly just the other day I had a new Bride explain to me the importance of her wedding day photos, as their computer was stolen and they lost a few years worth of memories and newborn images. Don't worry, I won't turn this post into a giant lecture on why you should print your photos (you should print your photos).  Instead after I found myself telling Marshall and my Bride about my personal back-up system that is as easy as pie and could save a lot of stress and heartache I figured it may be useful to someone else as well:  Backblaze.  On top of saving files to two separate hard drives, Apple's Time Machine, and my SmugMug galleries (you can order prints from there, too.  You know, you should maybe consider printing your photos...) I also use Backblaze.  It's an online cloud based system that backs your computer's information safely and securely onto a server (although I'd delete those nudies first before uploading before I were you--better safe than sorry).  It's pretty awesome and helps me sleep better at night, really.  The first back-up of your computer may take daysssss (mine took 26 days) and depending on your internet speed, could take longer (it once told me 312 days!!  ACK!  So we bumped up our internet connection--problem solved).  It runs in the background of your computer so you can still work seamlessly and as you change/update/add files, Backblaze automatically backs it up online.  Genius, right?  So thankfully, in the *ohmygoshwhyamIevenputtingthisintotheuniverse?* event of a computer crash or worse--kidnapped scenario, you can access your files online and restore your machine.  As, to me, NO internet service provider or social media site should be trusted to house your photos indefinitely (companies change or go out of business all the time you know--remind me to tell you about the time I lost my Facebook Business Page and all the photos with it, or the time Webshots deleted all of my photos...), I don't rely soley on this service and back-up important things at least two other ways.  Everything else, I now print.  ;)

Here's a screenshot of the dashboard inside of backblaze, and a peek into the massive amount of my files stored in it.  #lifeofaphotographer  For less than $10/month, it's cheaper than ambien!  (you know, so you can sleep at night...?). And so you know, no one is paying me to say this--although maybe I should look into that.  But, I DO get $10 if you sign up for Smugmug--use this coupon code!  oCfYm5nbe7V2Y