February 29, 2012

Coastal Youth Symphony - Chamber Ensemble {Wedding Vendor Wednesdays}

I am absolutely delighted to spotlight the Coastal Youth Symphony of Georgia Chamber Ensemble on this {Wedding Vendor Wednesday}!

Have you ever dreamed of walking down the aisle to live instrumental music?  Have you thought about having live music during your cocktail hour or dinner at the reception?  I can honestly tell you, the Coastal Youth Symphony of Georgia Chamber Ensemble is the go-to group of the Golden Isles!

The Coastal Youth Symphony of Georgia began in 2006.  The fabulous Beverly Fetter served as the General Manager of the Symphony in 2007 and has been Director of the ensemble since 2009.  She retired last year from the Symphony but continues to direct the Chamber Ensemble.

And what a fun, talented bunch of young people these musicians are!  The group is mainly filled with musicians from Glynn County.  The youngest member of the Chamber Ensemble is in 7th grade, and the oldest is a high school senior.  Believe me when I say that despite their young age, their professionalism, talent, and experience is impressive! 

Bottom row - Elizabeth Graiser, Cat Chu, Stephenie Powell; Middle row - Merry Zohn, Tynesha Little, Brooke Harris; Top row - Carlton Thomas, Faye Chu. Not pictured: Margy Hayes

Each musician has played many weddings, special events and occasions with the Chamber Ensemble.  Some of their favorite recent events have been several mini concerts at The Cloister and The Lodge - both of which are fabulous 5-star hotels on Sea Island - the Maternity Center ribbon-cutting party at the hospital, as well as private parties at a local art gallery and various private residences.  They enjoy playing for St. William Catholic Church services at Christmas and also volunteer their time at Christmas to play at the local hospice.  In 2009, they played for President Valerie Hepburn's inauguration at the College of Coastal Georgia, which is when I first heard the group and was extremely impressed.

So let's talk weddings!  The Coastal Youth Symphony of Georgia Chamber Ensemble can tailor to suit your needs.  At most weddings, they offer 30 minutes of prelude music, mostly classical Baroque. Director Beverly Fetter continues to explain, "We've played services at Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Episcopal and Unitarian churches.  We have hymn books and can play anything appropriate for the bride's faith. If the bride has no preference, we have standard tunes that everyone likes. We come to the wedding rehearsal so we can meet the wedding planner, so the wedding party can hear their cue music and so we can scope out our set up. We always arrive early to give the bride less to worry about!"

So what if you are one of those brides who would love to include some non-traditional music into your ceremony?  "We take requests from the bride and work in whatever she wants. We pride ourselves on being flexible and willing to find music and adapt it to an ensemble," Beverly explains.  "We had one bride who wanted to come down the aisle to a Coldplay song, so we had to write a fanfare and cut and paste the beginning and refrain so she could recognize the tune in the 30 seconds it took her to walk from the back of the church to the front."  Pretty extraordinary stuff, no?

What is also wonderful is their willingness to tailor the size of the group to the bride's desires...and budget.  Only interested in a soloist for your wedding?  Dream of a string ensemble of 3?  Done and done.  Beverly is always at every wedding and event to play piano or organ (if desired by the bride) and to help organize.

I recently met this incredible bunch at a rehearsal held at Beverly Fetter's home and got to experience their musical talent firsthand. While the rainy, dreary day limited our photography opportunities (rain and instruments don't mix!), their warm personalities and music completely brightened my day.

Beverly wasn't kidding when she told me each member of the Chamber Ensemble is a seasoned musicians.  I was impressed by their talent.  Beverly is always looking to give this group a challenge and expand their horizons as musicians.  While I was there, she gave them a new, difficult jazz piece to sight read, and they did so well with it.  It's no wonder they are a popular group in the Golden Isles!

If you would like more information about hiring the Coastal Youth Symphony of Georgia Chamber Ensemble play for your wedding or event, please contact Beverly Fetter at 912.230-1825 or via email at bsfetter@gmail.com and tell her Jennifer Leigh Photography sent you!  You can also check out the full 65-piece Coastal Youth Symphony - including video - at www.coastalsymphonyofgeorgia.org.  The Chamber Ensemble will also have video footage of their work online soon.

Looking to wow your wedding guests?  Professional live music at your wedding and/or cocktail hour would be the perfect touch!

Images for a Cure Workshop {My Life}

Only a few weeks away from the Images for a Cure workshop in Orlando!

I am in love with Images for a Cure.  I have been one of about 250 photographers worldwide to work with this amazing group for the past two years.  During October and November of each year, the IFAC photographers agree to run a campaign of their choosing and donate 100% of the proceeds of the session fees from that campaign to Images for a Cure.  Soon after everyone's campaign ends, IFAC donates all funds raised to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation!  You really can't beat that!  It was my honor to be a part of this amazing group of photographers for such a great cause.  I am looking forward to participating again next year, again as a Platinum (top level) photographer!

Each year in the following spring, Images for a Cure has a wonderful photography workshop.  I was unable to attend last year's workshop but my assistant and I are looking forward to attending this year.  (I think I may have been the first one registered.  Yeah...I'm a wee bit excited.)  I have proudly raised hundreds of dollars for this group and am finally going to get to meet photographers from all over the country who have been campaigning alongside me, including Kristen Weaver, the genius photographer who started this awesomeness!

I'll be sure to post my favorite images from the workshop here on the blog.  I will also be featured on the IFAC blog soon, so stay tuned for that, too! 

Other Images for a Cure photographers...let's connect!  I'd love to hear how your 2011 campaigns went!  Looking forward to hearing all about it!

February 27, 2012

A Wedding in Paradise {St. Lucia Wedding Photographer}

The weather has been gloomy and rainy for the past week here in Georgia, and I'm not a fan.  I have been down on energy lately and am needing some sun!  Since that's not likely to happen soon, I did the next best thing and booked my flight to St. Lucia, where I will be photographing Melissa & Dave's amazing, intimate wedding, happening mid-April!

Most likely, you're having some miserable weather right now, too, so why don't we all visualize ourselves on this beautiful island in the West Indies?

The wedding will be taking place on the terrace at Ladera, a gorgeous hotel along the coast, nestled in the Piton Mountains.  Each of its 9 villas and 23 suites has its own private plunge pool.  This exclusive, private hotel was named one of the Top 10 Caribbean hotels by Travel + Leizure Magazine readers in 2011.  Breathtaking views, spectacular rooms, gourmet cuisine and impeccable service...is there any wonder why this hotel is given such high reviews?  Not convinced, then let the images, provided by Ladera, do the talking.

Melissa & Dave picked a beautiful location at which to get married, no?  I cannot wait to photograph their big day and show you the beauty of this location through my lens!  (Thanks for choosing Jennifer Leigh Photography over the St. Lucia photographer for your wedding day photography, you two!  I'm ecstatic!)

On another day before the wedding, Melissa, Dave and I will be traveling to some amazing locations around St. Lucia to take more photos of the two lovebirds.  I'll share some of those possible locations with you in the weeks ahead...or if this gloomy weather keeps up...tomorrow.

I hope you enjoyed your little visual getaway on this dreary Monday afternoon.  Check back soon for more drool-worthy images!

February 26, 2012

A Personal Update {My Life}

If you just began reading the Jennifer Leigh Photography blog, you may not know the roller coaster ride I have been on for the last 6 months.

Short synopsis:
  • I suddenly suffered 4 seizures in 24 hours back in August 2011 and was thought to have a brain tumor.
  • A week later, I had a scary brain biopsy in Savannah, which went very well.
  • I changed doctors because I wasn't happy with the little info my first doctor gave me, and I just didn't feel like he was the person that I wanted to continue to treat me.  (Thank you, Andrea, for getting me an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, you lifesaver, you!)
  • On September 24, 2011, I got married!!
  • An fMRI (functional MRI) at Mayo in September showed the "tumor" had shrunk to 20% of the original size, indicating that it was not a tumor.  (Whew!)  But no diagnosis was decided upon at that time.
  • A follow-up MRI was scheduled for Feb 29, 2012, to see what changes had happened in my brain, if any. 
You can also read the related blog posts that go into more detail about my medical adventure:




Since my husband was going to be out of town for 2 weeks on Feb 29th, we secretly decided to move my appointment up to Feb 23rd so he could be with me.  I also moved it up because I started to doubt the amazing health I had been experiencing.  Don't get me wrong - I felt completely fine.  More than fine, actually.  I think back in September when we made my end-of-February appointment, it took a lot for me to push the unknown and the feelings that went along with "not knowing" out of my head. (no pun intended)  I went through all the holidays with the faintly looming February date hanging in my sub-conscious and the wonder of what we would learn.  Then BAM!  February was here all of the sudden and the feeling of dread about the follow-up appointment and my fear of "the unknown" resurfaced.

We had a 12-hour day at the Mayo Clinic.  We left the house at 5:30am to arrive for check in at 6:45.  Blood work at 7:15.  (I didn't pass out this time.  Yay!)  MRI at 9:15 with an IV. (Didn't pass out that time either when they put in the IV! I was on a roll!)  Then we waited until 3:30pm to meet with my neurologist who headed my medical team for an update.  It was a long few hours.  We grabbed lunch...went shopping...  When we returned, we sat in the cancer wing's waiting room for an hour and a half.  I realized my neurologist has 13 specialties, many of which are cancer-related, and that was why he was working in that wing that day.  But it was so hard to sit there and see some of his other patients going in and out of the doors.  And, yes, I wondered if this was a hint as to what my update would entail. 

Luckily, my deepest fears were just that: pointless fears.  My doctor said my "abnormality/scar tissue" in my brain had remained the same size (20% of what it used to be) and was never going to have an impact on my health.  He wants to check my brain waves in August, wean me off the anti-seizure medication, and do one final MRI in February 2013.  The best part was when he said I was given a clean bill of health.  It was a shock.  I was one of the few people who left his office with a giant smile on my face that day and relief in my heart.  We will probably never know the cause of this fluke brain extravaganza, but I am confident in my doctor - if he says I'm good to go, I'm good to go!  I am one of his few lucky patients.

Everything happens for a reason.  These past few months have reshaped the person I am today.  I re-evaluated everything and everyone in my life.  In January, I didn't make New Year's resolutions because I have found that when you label something a "NYR," it goes nowhere fast.  But instead, I made some goals for myself that would be lifelong vs. short term.  The first thing I did was rid myself of all negativity.  I let go of people who were toxic in my life, and a weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders.  Mind you, I have no ill feelings toward those people...I wish them well and hope they will one day be able to make some positive changes in their lives...they just no longer have a place in mine.  I let go of toxic memories, feelings that had been floating around inside my head for, well, as old as decades.  I forgave myself for mistakes I had made in my life.  Then I vowed to bring into my life only positivity from here on out.  I began working out, which was a huge deal for me, and I began eating way healthier than I had in a long time.  Any friends I made were only ones who were positive people, not just on the surface, but in their hearts.  These changes have greatly impacted my personal life and my photography business.  I feel physically and mentally healthy.  My spirit is alive.  I have an extra spring in my step.  Change in good, people!

So what is next?  Receiving that clean bill of health was so freeing.  I feel limitless.  I've got some great new business goals in motion for this year.  I'm so blessed to be traveling around the country this year photographing weddings in Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina and gorgeous St. Lucia!  Jason and I are also getting some personal goals in order, now that we know I'm completely healthy...and began talking about starting a family.  Anything is possible.

I don't know that I would have come to this current amazing place in my life if it weren't for all that had happened during the last 6 months.  I always tell people to look for the good in every situation, no matter how dark and desolate it may be.  Good is always present - you just have to be open and often fearless to search for and find it.  I will never forget the last 6 months.  As difficult as they were, they were the wake-up call, the permission I needed to go ahead and change my life to what I dreamed it would be.  Everything happens for a reason...and I will embrace everything - the bad and the good - that will come my way in the future.

February 25, 2012

The Page Family {Lifestyle Session}

When I first spoke with Kellea about the location of her lifestyle session with her husband and 8 week old son, we talked about a few beautiful outdoor locations but also discussed inside their home as a location possibility.

These images, once again, prove to me, that there is no better place for a new family to have their time together captured than inside their home.  I love the intimacy of these images.  Everyone is comfortable, happy...even sweet little Mister B.

Home is where the heart is.

February 24, 2012

March Session Specials

You inquired.  I was inspired!  Announcing...a Spring portrait session special coming your way this March!

Please feel free to use these sessions for whatever and whoever you please!  Engagements, anniversaries, families, kids, babies, pets...it's up to you how you'd love to use my creative eye!

While this special is currently only available in the Golden Isles in beautiful Southeast Georgia, it will be coming soon to Northeast Ohio, so stay tuned for an announcement about those dates and locations!  (Most likely the Ohio dates will occur during the 3rd week of March.)

Additional details for Golden Isles sessions:

1. Session fee includes up to 4 people.  Each additional person will be $10.  Pets can join you for FREE!

2. If you want to book a session but are not interested in a package, the $60 session fee must be paid at the time of the booking and is non-refundable.

3. If you'd like to purchase a package, $100 (non-refundable) must be paid at the time of booking, and the remainder will be due at the beginning of the session.

4. If you must cancel a session, you must reschedule within 21 days.

5. Photo sessions will take place rain or shine.  If rain, an alternate location will be agreed upon between photographer and client, and beautiful photos will be taken!

6. About a week after the session, 15 final, edited images will be shown to you via a private web gallery, and you will have 7 days to decide if you would like to purchase any professional prints or print products from my awesome professional print lab.  Print orders will be placed with me and you will receive your order via snail mail in 2-4 weeks.  Contact me for a list of print and print product prices!  Remember...people who purchase a package will receive 10% off all prints/print products purchased...no limit!

If you purchase a package...

1. Digital files can be emailed to you or snail mailed to you on a CD - your choice!

2. Your print release is a personal print release, and you can make prints for family and friends at any print lab you desire.  (But I *highly* recommend you purchase professional prints from the lab I use for images you will be framing/displaying in your home.  They are more beautiful in color & quality and last a lot longer than most general lab prints.

Still have questions?  Just ask!  Want to book a session?  Let's make a date!  Contact Jen at 912.222.8369 or jenniferleighphotos@yahoo.com

Looking forward to photographing YOU!

February 23, 2012

Jeweled Bridal Shoes {Trendy Thursdays}

As a photographer, bridal shoes are very important for some creative pre-ceremony detail shots.  As a recent bride, I was pretty quick to find out that good wedding shoes are hard to come by.  I also learned that I was not alone in feeling that way.

One young lady was shopping next to me in DSW and said, "I have been looking everywhere for beautiful wedding shoes and am not having any luck.  What do you think of these?"  She was modeling "that" type of shoe.  You know, the sexy shoe that looks like it could be a bridal shoe but borders too closely to one you might find on a street corner.  I advised her to keep looking, and she agreed.

So what is new, classy and trendy for 2012?  There are several big trends I will share with you throughout the year, but today we are going to focus on the jewels, ladies!

When talking designer bridal shoes, we have to start with my favorite designer - Badgley Mischka!  All these shoes were found on My Glass Slipper.  What I love about this online shoe haven is the ability to personalize many shoes from a variety of designers with different accents, such as jeweled broaches, feathers and other details.  The Badgley Mischkas below; however, are their original design.  (Don't mess with a good thing!)

Salsa (dyeable) - Badgley Mischka - $215 at My Glass Slipper

Jeweled - Badgley Mischka - $245 at My Glass Slipper

 Sophia - Badgley Mischka - $200 at My Glass Slipper

 Xoa - Badgley Mischka - $200 at My Glass Slipper

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my chin...

If you are an online shopper, chances are you've heard of SHOEbuy - the online center for shoes that does not charge for shipping (sales or returns!) or sales tax, plus most shoes ship the same day as ordered.  Heaven!

 Rated high for comfort: Alyssa - Brianna Leigh - $140 at SHOEbuy

Keeping up with the fully-jeweled trend: Catherine - Benjamin Adams: London - $349 at SHOEbuy

 I love these wedges with the buckle and ankle strap: Shanika - Touch Ups - $71.95 at SHOEbuy

Okay...it's time to think outside the shoe box for our final 3, which do not have heels, are perfect for specific venues and don't break the bank!

If you are in need of some comfortable flats for dancing the night away (and to, perhaps, not tower over your man if you're close in height), then why not shop at Target?  Wha-wha-what?  I actually saw these in person, and they are cute, flashy and comfortable.  They'd be mega cute with some skinny jeans for a night on the town post-wedding!

Sonya - Xhilaration - $18 at Target

Getting married outside and don't feel like aerating the lawn with your heels as you walk down the aisle?  I am loving these sandals that come in blush, ivory, silver and black.  Stylish for you and your bridesmaids!  (Yeah, yeah...these are beaded, not jeweled.  But who cares?)

Heath - Nina - $49 at Nordstrom

And finally...you're getting married on the beach, can't fathom wearing shoes but want to spruce up your bare feet. Try barefoot sandals?  My favorites are from Debra Moreland is Paris and BHLDN, but you can find extremely affordable ones on Etsy.com.

East of Eden - Debra Moreland is Paris - contact for quote

Waltzing Matilda - Debra Moreland is Paris - contact for quote

Gardenia - BHLDN - $240

The bride-to-be in DSW told me about a pair of shoes she had her eye on for a long time - a really classy and pricey pair.  I told her she'd want shoes she'd love to see in her wedding images.  I also reminded her that while she may not have a reason to wear her dress in public again (twirling around in the dress at home from time to time is definitely recommended), her bridal shoes could be worn again and again.  If she had the budget, why not go for it?  And that, brides-to-be, is my advice to you, too.

Did you see anything here that you fell in love with?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

February 22, 2012

The Bates Family {Me Ra Koh Workshop}

I adore this family.  Adore.  They are filled with personality, beauty inside and out, and were so easy and fun to work with!  We built sand castles, jumped and swung around, splashed in the water, and relaxed on the beach.  Is there any other way to spend a photo session?  I enjoyed every moment...and from the looks of the images, I think they did, too.

Are you interested in having a heck of a good time during your family portrait session?  (Come on, admit it - your photo frames in your home need some new images!)  Stay tuned for a portrait session special next month.  Will be announcing at the end of this week!