5 Things Wedding Photographers Want To Tell You About Pinterest, but Cant

Pinterest is an amazing site–who doesn’t love using it?  It is visually stimulating–and it gets you inspired and excited about things.  It is a wedding Mecca….you can spend hours and hours admiring and pinning wedding images.  There are millions of them….truly a dangerous place for people who are engaged or people like me who LOVE wedding photos!  Now….how many of you have seen those Pinterest fail sites?  I am here to tell you how to curate your Pinterest self in a way where your wedding will not be a Pinterest fail.  I am going to tell you what every wedding photographer out there wants you to know because we have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  We love using it–we love that we can communicate and be on the same page about images with it, but we hate doing the same things over and over again because they became popular on Pinterest. Follow me here: Kivalo Pinterest

Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You To Know About Pinterest

#1.  A huge percentage of the content that you are seeing on Pinterest wasn’t even a real wedding.  Let me explain….you know all of those amazing detail set ups you are seeing–those elaborately crafted mimosa bars, or dessert tables, or backdrops….many of those were prepared for hours/weeks and were done by professionals.  Then they were placed in the perfect setting, with the perfect lighting, and the photographer had hours to capture the perfect shot of that detail.  We will do the very best with your details–and make them as amazing as possible but please understand the ones you are seeing on Pinterest are the cream of the crop.  The top of the line.  The be all and the end all in wedding decor/dresses/locations.  In addition the weddings that are “Real Weddings” on Pinterest are the best of the world….they have been carefully curated and selected by the industries leading blog editors.  They have been chosen out of thousands because they were extraordinary.  While your wedding will be extraordinary it might not be for the same reasons that those images on Pinterest are.  It will be extraordinary because it is YOUR wedding, they are YOUR memories, and YOUR style….not because you had the best dessert bar.

dessert bar wedding

Top Left stylized shoot ||  Top Right Actual Wedding

Bottom Left Real Wedding from Top Blog  ||  Bottom Right Real Wedding not featured on Top Blog
what your wedding photographer wants you to know about pinterestBottom left stylized detail  || Bottom Right Same Idea in Action
real and styled

#2.  Timeless not Trendy…. This is a BIG one.  Say it with me….you want your images to be TIMELESS NOT TRENDY.  While I am not someone who has been in the game for 10-30 years I have been in the game long enough to see trends come and go.  When I was first starting out, and heck, I will admit even once in a blue moon, I still get sucked into a photography trend.  What do I mean by this? Well, I mean styles of editing, or popular posing.  What comes to mind most are things like what I will call the “spiderman kiss” (upside down kissing–one person is laying down and the other kisses them from the other direction), the photo of someone holding a frame and the people in the background in that frame (isn’t it better to just take a picture with all of the people and then put it in a frame?–that is a much more “frameable” and timeless picture than people holding a frame in a picture)   the bride dragging the groom, the groom holding the bride in his hand etc.  If these are really what you love then I say do what you want–but for me I don’t think they will withstand the test of time like the more classic Kennedy photos, or the royal wedding photos, or even some of the celebrity weddings.  A real moment or a beautiful traditional family formal will always win out to the “funny or ridiculous” images.  The timeless images are the ones that will end up on display and the trendy images will get put away or hidden in the years following the wedding.  I think what happens is couples want to be “fun” so they do these photos….but as a wedding photographer I try to portray “fun” in other ways.  To me “fun” is shown in your crazy dance moves, the laughter throughout the day of you and your guests, lawn games, those occasional funny looks people will give each other….that is “fun” and those images you wont look back on and think “what were we thinking”.  Another example is people want the Spider Man image because it is “romantic” but there are so many other intimate photos that can be “romantic” and much more naturally posed on your wedding day.  If you communicate to your photographer the “feel” of the wedding and what it is about these actual images hopefully we can make you even more happy than if you had just copied the trendy image.

Above Trendy ||  Below Timeless

Above Trendy  ||  Below Timeless

#3.  Even though it looks good and easy on Pinterest that doesn’t mean it will transfer well into your wedding.  You cannot do it all not everything you like will look good in your wedding.  This is where a planner comes in super handy.  They are able to look at everything you like and then pull out the best and make it all a beautiful cohesive look.  Cohesion is one of the most important things in your wedding images–if you have things that match it will look fabulous.  If you have a little of this and a little of that it will look like a wedding with a little of this and a little of that.  I guess what I am trying to communicate here is many of these photos you are seeing everything just worked out for that photo.  The timing, the lighting, the couples height and interaction.  Posing is different for every couple depending on their personality, their height, their “photogenic-ness”, their hair, their wardrobe, etc.  If you don’t have the perfect door with great light for the holding hands around the door before the wedding photo then it just isn’t going to look like the ones you are seeing on Pinterest.  If you don’t have the right connection to pull off a romantic and more intimate photo it just won’t look like the one you admired on Pinterest.  You have to not only be able to see yourself in the picture but understand your photo will probably look completely different than the one you saw.  That is a good thing–you want your photos to represent who you are…and be unique to the two of you.

 Left Picture Pinterest ||  Right Picture Actual Wedding

#4.  Wardrobe, lighting, and height…..I see photos all the time that I wish I took–that I fall madly in love with.  As I have aged into the profession a little I have begun to be able to tell you exactly why that photo is so striking.  It is often that the couple is very beautiful, or that the styling of the wardrobe and the color harmony of the background are perfect together.  Sometimes it is just that the light in the photo was perfect.  I can not recreate that light.  We can try to take that exact same picture and it will not look the same without that beautiful light.  Lighting on your wedding day is going to play a huge roll in what your images look like.  That is out of your control and my control–that depends on the time of day, the weather at hand, and location.  The time of day that is best for photos is 30-45 minutes before sunset.  The location and the wardrobe combination are part luck and part planning.  I say luck because you might pick a location to match your wardrobe, but then the location might have changed since you picked it (repainted wall, lighting is different, different season, the particular boat you wanted in the background isn’t there that day etc).  The wardrobe is key….for engagement sessions and wedding images alike.  The way the colors match or don’t match, the way it fits you perfectly, the grooms details etc.  There are lots of factors that go into the wardrobe.  What looks great on someone might not look great on you.  Another example would be if you are getting your wedding photos done in the summer on a lawn or at a park have your bridesmaids wear a color that is complimentary to green as that will most likely be the background color.  If you are doing your photos in the fall and you have orange and yellow leaves around choose a color that will compliment that background.  I, myself, am drawn to the more neutral palettes as they seem to withstand the test of time….the beige, cream, blush pink, grey, and light blue (periwinkle) colors.

Top Left and Right Pinterest Images for Inspiration ||  Bottom Left and Right How to Shoot Ended Up Looking 

#5.  “You don’t hire Van Gogh and ask him if he can paint a little more like Norman Rockwell” said a photographer friend of mine in a discussion about Pinterest.  This sums up why we, as wedding photographers, struggle with Pinterest.  We don’t mind if you want to show us some of the images that you love.  We like seeing that you like work that we like.  That’s the key–we should be admiring similar things.  If am pinning it I probably want to shoot it.  If you are pinning my work we are for sure a match.  What we “photographers” mind is when you have filled a board with someone else’s style and images and then you ask us to make them for you.  How can I better explain this–if you love Style Me Pretty you should probably hire a photographer who has been published on Style Me Pretty….if you love Offbeat Bride you should hire a photographer who is on Offbeat Bride.  If you love romantic and intimate wedding portraits you should look to hire a photographer whose portfolio represents that.  If you like laughter and candid moments you should hire a photographer who shows that.  If you like landscapes and bright colors you should hire a photographer who shows that.  If you are like me and like a combination of romantic, whimsical, and fun you should look for a portfolio that shows that.  I know that we probably all look pretty similar to you because you are not in the same industry that we are….but I promise you just as I had to sit and really examine who my clients are….if you really look at two or three photographers work you will notice they are different.  Their personalities will come through, their vision of the wedding day, their style…..narrow it down to just a couple people then really choose the one whose images you love.  While I wish I could make work exactly like Elizabeth Messina and Jose Villa and Susan Stripling….I can’t.  I can only make Kivalo images.  Honestly, most of us are happy to help you with the big decision….we will advise and recommend, and listen to your likes and dislikes and see if we are a fit or if we know someone who is just like what you are describing.  When we can make “Kivalo” images or “Van Gogh” images instead of “Messina” or “Rockwell” images we are happiest and if you like what we do you will be happiest too.

Top Left and Top Right Jose Villa ||  Bottom Left and Bottom Right My Shots 

Above is my photo of the girls laughing–love their grey bridesmaid dresses.


Best Southern Maine Engagement Photo Locations

Clients often ask us where to go to do their engagement sessions.  We generally shoot anywhere from Falmouth to Ogunquit for engagement sessions.  Here are some examples of our favorite spots.

1.  Biddeford Pool-Offering beautiful coastal Maine landscapes with rocks and beach options.

Best Southern Maine Engagement Session LocationsBiddeford Pool Engagement SessionMaine Engagement Picture Ideas

2.  Nubble Light-One of the quintessential lighthouses in New England.  Offering rocky coastal Maine landscapes–with several beaches very close by.

nubble light engagement picturesnubble light engagement picturesbest engagement session locations mainenubble light engagement sessionsouthern maine engagement photo ideas

3.  Portland Head Light-One of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.  Portland Head light also known as Fort Williams State Park has a bunch of different backgrounds as options.  It offers lawn, forts, picnic areas, rocky coast of Maine, and a little beach area.

engagement session fort Williams state parkportland head light engagement sessionengagement session location ideas

4.  Kettle Cove-Is known for the sunsetting over the water offering beautiful evening images.  It has a beach, some rocky coast, and a little walking bridge.

southern maine engagement session location ideaskettle cove engagement sessionbest southern maine engagement session locations

5.  Marginal Way-Is a walking path around the water.  It has small beaches and rocky coastal landscape.  There is a walking bridge over the working harbor.  My favorite spot is the docks where the dingeys are tied.

engagement photo ideas and locationsbest engagement session locations ogunquitbest engagement photo ideas southern mainemarginal way ogunquit maine engagement sessionbest engagement session locations in southern maine

6.  Camp Ellis, Saco, Maine-Camp Ellis is a working Lobster harbor area.  It has a small beach (best when the tide is out) and docks.  It is beautiful there in the evenings.

engagement photo ideas mainebest engagement photo spots southern maineengegement pictures camp ellis saco mainebest engagement photo locations southern maine

7.  Laudholm Farm-The water is within walking distance (2 miles) and the walking path through the trees is so pretty.  There are fields, and the barns on site so there are many different background options.

engagement photos laudholm farmbest maine engagement photo locationsengagement pictures laudholm farm

8.  Downtown Portland-It has the working harbor, beautiful brick backgrounds, cobblestone streets, and a more Urban feel.

Downtown Portland Maine engagement photosbest engagement photo locations maineengagement pictures old port portland maine

9.  East End Portland-There is a little pedestrian train that is in the east end, there is a long walking path along the water, Portland Company offers some classic brick backgrounds, and there is a beach a little way up where the public landing dock is in Portland.

portland maine engagement pictureseast end portland maine engagement photosbest engagement photo locations maine

10.  Gisland Farm–Also known as the Maine Audubon Center.  You can walk to the water, spend time in the peony garden, use the barn on site, or the fields.

best engagement locations in southern maine

Photographer Online Education Options

I don’t often write posts for other photographers….I generally prefer to write all about weddings.  Today I decided I wanted to put out there to others some of the great ways I have learned and gathered information on branding, marketing, photography, design, and business.  Learning more about building your photography business can be overwhelming but there are tons of resources out there to help.  I spend probably about one day a week on education.  I am always watching new things, researching, going to workshops, or learning in online forums/workshops.  I hope that other people building business no matter what phase you are in enjoy some of these educational opportunities as much as I have.

1.  Creative Live-Creative Classes from the world’s top experts that are free while they are airing them live and then a free rebroadcast in case you missed something.

2. Jasmine Star-A top wedding photographer who created a line to help educate people who want to get into wedding photography

3. Susan Stripling-Very talented wedding photographer who has a distinct style.  She offers tons of education for wedding photographers who want to learn both the technical and about business.

4.  Blogging Your Way-“Each of our classes will give you the tools that you need to blog your best! We approach blogging with a creative, personal approach that you just won’t find in other classes since most blogging workshops focus on mostly boring tech stuff and topics that you can easily learn for free online. Our approach is to teach what you cannot find elsewhere – to pull together successful bloggers who make a living primarily through their blogs and let them teach their secrets to success.”

5.  Blog Academy-Take your blog to the next level

6.  Elle & Co.-She is a design expert and she shares a ton of information about branding and building a business online.

7.  Show it Live-Online education from a variety of photographers just short interviews to learn from

8.  Katelyn James-She has created a collection for photographers to help them with their confidence behind their pricing strategy and other business things.

9.  Online Photo Academy-“We are very proud that students of the Academy have the opportunity to do a full certificate program at a fraction of the cost of other institutions, but from successful, active photographers! Selecting the Certificate path gives you the most value for your money, providing you with all of the important pieces to creating a solid, thriving photography business.

When you complete all of the courses, you will be given a badge and certificate of completion by The International Academy of Wedding Photographers. You can display this on your marketing material for your potential clients to see.”

10. Engage Live– “Engage has been developed to help you to follow your passion. Join us free for live classes in the areas of Photography, Videography, Cinematography, Art, Design, Music, Crafts, and Business.”

11.  PPA-Tons of online education on technical skills as well as the business end.  The professional Photography Association offers a degree program, competitions, and social gatherings for photogs to get together.

12.  Justin & Mary-Their blog does weekly series talking about things photographers struggle with.

13.  Scott Kelby-Photoshop expert offering all kinds of education around the adobe suite.

14.  Lynda.com-“You set the pace with online learning. Learn what you want, when you want, and practice with the instructor’s files while you watch and listen.”

15. Sprouting Photographer-“You can achieve success as a photographer through sustainable business practices. Learn the “how-to” strategies to become more profitable as a photographer and the specific action items to quickly implement positive change in your business.”


Planning a New England Barn Wedding

While barn weddings have become popular all over the country (just like estates in Europe) New England really is the place you think of when you think quintessential barns.  These old barns and farm houses were a way of life for hundreds of years.  It is wonderful to see some of these places being restored and turned into event spaces because with the decline of farms and the New England winters many of these places have fallen down. Having your wedding in a Maine or New England barn is a wonderful experience for your friends and family.  It has its own character and really gives you that “New England and Maine feeling/experience”.  Here are five things to consider when you plan  your Maine barn wedding:


1.  Lighting: During the day these barns/farm houses have gorgeous natural light but when the sun sets and you are ready to get your party on it is pretty dark in the barn and around the farmhouse.  We highly recommend bringing in a lighting company to do some chandeliers and or stringing of some lights.


2.  Use of Space:  Many people will rent a tent for the dinner portion of the wedding so that they can use the barn area to set up the band/DJ and “party space”.  It is nice to consider how the people will experience the space and how the timeline of the event will flow through the property.

Considerations include: parking, seating during open dancing for elderly, handicap accessibility, where the catering company will base out of, where dessert will be served, where the bar is stationed, bathrooms, and what is the rain plan?



3.  Decorations:  Often the barns are beautiful as they are because they have that rustic feel but it is nice to give the space your own touch and maybe make it more of a rustic elegance for your wedding.  Consider things like linens and bunting.  You can use ribbon or fabric for some awesome DIY backgrounds that just bring the space up a notch.  See DIY backgrounds for more information about that.  Florals are huge for really creating a beautiful wedding space.


4.  Food and Drink:  Some fun ideas for food at your rustic elegant Maine or New England barn wedding would be BBQ, or Food Trucks.  It is important that you talk with your catering companies before hand so that you know they will have everything they need….power, water, generators etc.  Also check with them to see that you do not need any additional rentals such as linens, glassware, napkins, or silverware.


5.  Educate your Guests:  In order for your guests to have the best time they can be sure to let them know how to dress for the facility, that New England weather is unpredictable to be sure to have layers and backup shoes.  The more information you can provide your guests the more comfortable they will be and the more fun they will have. Offer them lawn games and other activities to play into the New England relaxed feel.


Maine and New England barn weddings represent a casual, organic way of life.  That translates so well into a wedding experience.  It provides a fun, laid back atmosphere and offers an experience that most people don’t get everyday.  They are beautiful and rustic but can be transformed into something elegant and extraordinary.  Maine barns are my absolute favorite Maine wedding venues….I love Hardy Farm, Flanagan Farm, The Barn on Walnut Hill, and Laudholm Farm.  If you want more suggestions on how to be sure your barn wedding is elegant and extraordinary hire an expert.  Try some of the best Maine barn wedding planners….Daisies & Pearls, B Merry, Cairn Events, Seacoast Harbor Events, and Pencil Events.


Moments Matter || Family Photos

Dear Dad,

It has almost been one year since you passed away on what was and will always be the worst night of my life.  It is just getting to be spring outside and I miss my afternoon chats with you.  I miss you so much.  It feels like everyday is harder not easier like they say.  I miss going home for a few days and just chatting with you for hours on the patio.  I miss watching the morning news with you and talking about what “Mike & Mike” have to say about the Patriots.  I miss BBQ chicken and family dinners.  I miss working on projects with you—I always had a project to do and now they are just things that will never be built.

Everything is different now.  It is so hard to believe in myself and my work without you to champion the good fight.  It is so hard to feel confident without you there backing me up.  Making decisions just isn’t the same and making long term plans is next to non existent.  I always ran by you where my business was going and what I hoped to get out of life.  I always had you to talk to.  You were such an inspiration.

Time is a complicated thing….one year—one whole year—the longest toughest year of my life?  It is a good day if I get through a few hours without thinking of you.  I want to tell you about my accomplishments—and my failures—and my day to day.  People say I can still tell you—but it feels kinda silly talking out loud.  People might think me a bit odd walking around my empty house talking out loud.

My greatest regret isn’t letting you go—I think that was the right thing to do even though you were a fighter—I am not sure you had enough fight left in you after my brother died to make it through loosing that much of one side of your brain.  My greatest regret is not staying with you until the last second of the last breath and heartbeat without the life support.  I wanted to stay—I didn’t want to leave you to pass alone.  I should have stayed.  What were you thinking in those last moments?  I don’t know if you could hear me or not—I don’t even know what I said.

Like two peas in a pod me and you….this apple sure didn’t fall far from the tree.  Since you passed away somethings have happened.  Adam moved in with Sarah and her boyfriend AJ so there are four of us here in the mill house.  I was a diamond photographer of the year going 4 for 4 at nationals.  I got the PPA cover.  I was published in PDN.  I worked with a designer and polished up the logo.  I launched a video side of the business.  I bought a film camera.  I am working on a new website—I think you would really like the new design.  I met my little cousin—she looks a lot like me.  I am only a few points away from getting my masters degree.  I booked 30 weddings.  I was published on several blogs.  I took a photoshop class with one of the craziest best “photoshopers” in the world.  Jane is pregnant—I think you would get a kick out of that:)  Adam and I are going to Aruba in the fall to photograph a wedding—that is exciting news.  I have a duel workstation desk—because at some point I am going to have an intern that isn’t my cat.  I finally entered the 21st century and set up an online client management system—which is awesome!  You would have liked hearing about all of the cool features it has.

Sarah and I have a new buddy named Ashley—you would like her a lot.  She would have dished it out to you lol.  Speedy Sarah and Sassy Ashley—you would have had to give Ashley a nickname too.

Love you.


It is very weird to look back in time and realize I will never be the same person I was.  My zest for life was shaken to the core last year.  When I talk about time there is only before Tony and Dad’s death and after their death.  Everything is marked from those points on like a rewriting of the story line.  Like I said—time is a complicated thing.  I don’t remember the last conversation we had.  I do remember leaving the morning after Easter.  It was really hard.  I had been home for a week and I missed Adam and yet I didn’t want to leave.  Intuition is so strong we just choose to pretend it is not there.  I looked at the clock in the car as we were driving away from the hospital at the exact moment you were pronounced dead.  Coincidence?

maine wedding photographermaine wedding photographer
maine wedding photographer

I guess this post is just a reminder of why moments matter—you remember the strangest ones when someone is gone.  The pictures I have are priceless and would be even more valuable if we ever had kids.  The details begin to fade the longer and longer that passes but the photograph secures them in your mind.  Suddenly after loosing my brother and Dad those family formals that I didn’t like to take have become more sentimental and important on the wedding day.  That first look that Dad gets of his daughter with no one around.  The looks of adoration that your younger or older siblings give you when you’re not looking.  That portrait of your parents together or of them happy on your wedding day.  These things that I don’t have anymore—are so important when telling wedding stories.  Following your gut about a moment or a photograph that you want to take or think you should take.  It is important.  There are tons of photographers everywhere but we all bring our own take on the world.  Creating photographs comes from the heart.  Try to align your values when looking for a wedding or portrait photographer.

maine wedding photographer

maine wedding photographermaine wedding photographer