It's probably pretty apparent that I mainly film outdoor weddings. Nature is a big aspect of who I am and where I feel most connected to life. But, when you live in a place with 4 seasons and a couple wants to get hitched and party down with their family in December, sometimes you just have to let go a little and just go for it.
The team of Kathryn Ray (me), Shannon & Andrew Horton from Fox & Owl Studio, and Stephanie Forshee of Little Wild Bloom
THE UNTAMED ELOPEMENT COLLECTIVE WAS FORMED OUT OF A DESIRE FOR MORE.
MORE CREATIVITY. MORE INDIVIDUALITY. MORE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, MORE LOVE.
We are a group of creatives that trust, work best with, and love the heck out of one another. We respect, value and honor each other's art. We find that our hearts come alive in elopements. They allow us to get to know our couples on a deeper, more personal level and, in turn, provide us the time and creative freedom to make our best work.
For our couples, we believe in the beautiful space eloping provides, allowing you to embrace the day more fully. We are eager to encourage you to willfully let go of expectations and do what fits your unique relationship. We want you to throw traditions to the wind and embrace your authentic selves. We want to take the weight of planning off your shoulders and let your focus on the purpose of your marriage.
Above all else, we want you to be surrounded by a community of people during your elopement day who aren't just doing their job, but people who genuinely care for you. We will be there to cheer you on, help you get dressed, pour you a glass of champagne and shed a few happy tears right alongside you. We want to be there for you every step of the way.
We hope that you walk away from your ceremony filled to the brim with love and ready to begin your newest adventure.
My films typically end up being longer than promised, and Caitlin and Alex's teaser is no exception. A 1 minute teaser film turned into a 1:40 minute film and I just couldn't help it.
These two are vulnerability at its finest, so much so that even Caitlin mentioned so in their vows...
Putting this together for them was full of hands on heart moments and raw emotional reactions from me that remind me every time why I am so in love with filmmaking based upon real moments with real people.
Cheers to crying, hugging, and opening your heart to love.
Elopements are where my heart comes alive. They are where I feel the most creative and the most connected to my couples. We are able to have so much time together to celebrate life and love and spending a lifetime with an incredible partner. There is space for all the things a couple wants to feel or needs to experience during that day, which in turn allows me to capture moments and connections I wouldn't otherwise be able to.
We did a styled shoot with Melissa and Josh a while back, and they loved it so much they decided to actually elope in a similar way. Just the two of them, myself, Shannon and Andrew from Fox & Owl Studio, sharing laughs, eating cake, popping champagne, and romping around in the golden woods we love so dearly.
I'll be manifesting my goal for many more elopements like these in 2018
This is going to be tough for a lot of people to hear...
But it's time for me to share an observation that I think needs to change.
Statements like "Aren't they beautiful?", "Look how gorgeous", "These two are babes", "They are the freaking cutest", are overwhelmingly common these days in relation to wedding or elopement photos. You know you've seen it, you might have even done it yourself. But here's why I think you should think twice before you combine statements like that - especially with the photos of white, hetero, thin couples.
First things first: I'm a firm believer in the power of language. The words we use and don't use form our cultures and alter our perceptions. I don't believe "free speech" is at stake due to the compassion it requires to use inclusive and connective language rather than destructive and divisive words. The fact that we have politically correct terminology is proof that we are moving forward as a culture to recognize the variance in the human experience and are purposefully sensitive to the weight of that change. Free speech to me does not mean you can say whatever the heck you want and that political correctness is holding us back from saying the "honest" things. That is hate speech.
So now that that's clear - let's talk about beauty.
The media is a mix of visual imagery and words, and therefore could have an even more powerful effect on culture than just words. This is what we are a part of every day as wedding vendors on social media now - we are creating the culture around weddings with our images and our words.
So when we post pictures of white, hetero, thin couples and mainly focus on their looks, all we are doing is perpetuating the long-held and incorrect belief that people who look like that are the most beautiful.
If that's what your clients mainly look like, do you really believe that to be the truth? I doubt you do, and I hope you don't. If you do, I don't know how to reach you quite yet... So mainly, I'm sure it's really nothing you've ever thought of before because that's all you've ever been taught and shown in media. Plus it's easy to just talk about surface level looks when we want to post a picture of something we just created, right? We want to share it with the world and we think it's beautiful, what does it hurt? But I'm asking you to think a bit harder about what your putting out there and it's effect on people. At this point I'm practically begging it, because the fact that there is only one magazine I know of that makes it a priority to talk about all aspects of the wedding day other than looks AND includes couples of all colors, shapes, sizes, and looks is proof that we are still in a standstill on beauty expectation in the wedding industry.
Shouldn't weddings, a celebration centered around love and connection be inclusive to all people?
(Shoutout to Catalyst Wedding Co. - I'm so thankful for you!)
So, what can you do?
For a start, instead of talking about the visual aspect of a couples wedding, talk about what they said, how they acted, moments that connected with you - literally anything else. I honestly think it would be better to just say nothing at all rather than comment on their looks.
If you want to go further, make diversity in your portfolio a priority.
Our words and our images are powerful - why don't we try and use them as a force for good instead of perpetuating the same self-deprecating and unrealistic standards our consumeristic culture has been pushing for so long now.
Inclusivity, self-love, and connection are well worth it, I promise you.
Oh social media....It's a love/hate relationship right?
There's even science to back up why we are so addicted - we literally get a dopamine release when we check our phones. It's wild...
Ian and I talk about the woes of the young adults growing up in this age frequently.
He, as a teacher, experiences it first hand every day with his students...
I didn't get a smart phone until the end of college and now children have them by middle school at least...
So instead of fighting something that we feel we can't really fight, how do we use it to our advantage?
How can social media be a good thing?
I think that if we choose our interactions properly and with purpose, social media can be a tool for growth, connection, and education. We just have to make the conscious effort to make it that way.
1. Take notice - start recognizing how you feel after social media scrolls or even after certain pictures pop up. Do the images make you compare yourself to others? Do you feel like you have wasted all that time? Do you just feel like shit a little bit deep down? Empty and bleh? This is how you know it is time for a change.
My experience: I was constantly comparing myself to other peoples work on social media for a long time. I especially envied those who looked like their life was just a breeze, traveling all the time and doing all these fun things. Isn't that annoying when thats how people represent themselves but don't talk about their background? Like WHAT THE HECK DO YOU DO TO MAKE MONEY PEOPLE?!?! It was infuriating to me. Once I started to notice all these feelings I knew it was time to make a change.
2. Find purpose - Start recognizing those posts that uplift you and make you feel better about your life. Start READING CAPTIONS! I know, I said it, crazy right? But that's where all the good stuff lives in Instagram if people are putting effort into it. If the post doesn't serve a purpose to you, why waste your time?
My experience: Honestly, I'm sick of half-assed captions. And I'm really sick of following wedding industry vendors who only talk about how beautiful everyone and everything is when all the people look the same -white, thin, & "attractive" - (There will be a blog post on this topic soon...). Diversity is important to me, it is a priority.
My friend Tyler McCall taught me that I need to inspire, educate, or entertain people with my posts so this is what I look for in other peoples posts. Could you imagine if everyone was this intentional? Some people just want to look at pretty pictures, but I want some depth ya'll.
3. Weed it out - start unfollowing. You don't have to do a big sweep all at once but as you spend time on social media, start unfollowing as you notice things that aren't serving you.
My experience: Just let it go - I know it's hard when you are running a business specifically and you feel like you need to be connected to certain people in the industry, but this is where you decide what is more important. For me, my own sanity and healthy relationship with something so common now is way more important to me than just following people "I should follow". Sometimes I will go and like a few things on peoples pages I don't follow for business, but then I let it go if I don't see any more purpose in their message.
4. Rebuild - Think about what you want to be learning, what messages you want to be seeing, & how you want social media to positively re-wire your brain. Then start building that sort of feed for you to experience when you pop online.
My experience: For me this has mainly been making sure I see different types of people - different ethnicities, larger bodies, different sexual orientations. The more I see these things, and read posts by these people, the more I fight against societal norms of beauty and normality.
I also make sure to follow people who bring peace to my day and ground me with their words. People who educate me with their experiences and women who are inspiring me to be stronger and not making me feel less than.
Make your interactions purposeful.
Make your time worthy.
Give yourself some grace and some love instead of forcing constant comparison into your mind.