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Amplified Stories - A Cinematic View of your Wedding Day. Lights, Camera, Action.
Who among us doesn't love a good photo? Photographs are the keepsakes of our heart. They capture magical moments in our lives and preserve them forever.
It wasn't too long ago that we carried snapshots of those nearest and dearest to us in our wallet. And, keeping a couple of photos framed beside our bed may be old-school but it never goes out of style. Whenever our spirits are in need of a lift, all we have to do is sneak a quick glance at that treasured photo of mom and dad, the love of our life or our best friend forever and all is suddenly right with the world.
But times have changed. The emotions that a great photograph can convey remains the same. However, that well-worn wallet with the photo pockets is long gone, replaced by smartphones and other devices that hold more photographs than a hundred wallets ever could.
The funny thing is, most of us have absolutely no trouble taking a dozen pictures of our friends at brunch or that delicious Eggs Benedict with avocado, so we can get just the right shot for our FaceBook and Instagram page. Yet, when it comes to actually posing, more formally, in front of a camera, all of that Instagram-worthy confidence and selfie swagger goes right out the window.
Let's have a show of hands. How many of you out there, wish that you could have a do-over after you get a look at the nervous, unnatural grin that your cousin's camera captured for posterity at Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob's anniversary party? Hey, we've all been there before, haven't we?
This can happen even to the most charismatic and outgoing of people. The moment that someone holds a camera or smartphone to your face, do you find yourself freezing up, unsure of what to do next, how to act? It's all kind of sad, actually. How can something that's supposed to be fun, make so many of us feel tight and nervous? And that unwanted feeling of tension and anxiety only gets worse when your Wedding Day rolls around.
Planning a wedding is stressful enough without having to worry about what your wedding album is going to look like. But the thought's in the back of your mind that you simply don't take a good photograph; that you don't look good in front of the camera's all-seeing eye. But it doesn't have to be that way. Not at all. What if you could find a photographer who was more interested in making you feel comfortable in front of the camera than feeding his or her own ego? Wouldn't that be something?
Well, dream no more. That elusive photographer; the one who knows how to keep it real while capturing the story of your life on her cinematic lens, really does exist! Her name is Angela Pettigrew. And this lady is absolutely fearless. The founder of Amplified Stories, Angela is most definitely not your mom and dad's wedding photographer.
Gone are the corny and cliche', stilted and artificial poses that you've seen in most of your friends and relative's wedding albums. You know what we're talking about; the stiff, zombie-like poses and expressions on the bride and groom's faces that kind of make you cringe.
Angela is all about taking chances while she ever so slowly eases you out of your comfort zone. Amplified Stories has a journalistic style that moves from moment to moment, shooting you as you are, talking, dancing and laughing in settings where you feel at home. Through years of experience and gut instinct, Angela knows just when the "money shot" is happening. Her camera will be ready and so will you.
Whether you are sharing your wedding photos with friends and family, through your tablet or over coffee glancing through a scrapbook, Angela's photos will pop off the page. This talented, insightful photo-journalist's shots make a major impact, both visually and in your heart.
For too many professionals, taking photographs has become just a business. Somehow or the other, the passion that they started off with got lost along the way. Not so with Angela.Every client request, whether it be for a wedding, an engagement party or to book a session for a modeling portfolio, presents a new creative challenge.
One size never fits all at Amplified stories. As far as Angela is concerned, photography is a true labor of love. Chronicling the important moments in her clients' lives has to be done just right. But that doesn't mean that it can't be fun!
Angela's passion for what she does comes through, big-time when you sit down and talk with her. Her demeanor may be on the quiet side, but there is no mistaking the fire in Angela's eyes as she describes just how she brings her client's vision to life. Their big day is hers as well.
Interview with Angela.
Angela, Amplified Stories is more than simply a catchy name for your brand There are a story and philosophy behind the moniker. Can you share that with our readers?
"I always knew that I didn't want to use just my name for my business. I wanted clients to be able to get a sense of my style, based on the company's name. Look, everyone knows that photography is all about telling a story. But I always say that it should tell the story a little brighter, a bit bolder. Louder, actually added Angela, laughing. My aha! moment came when I was on a quick run to Target to pick up some stuff. All of those adjectives and things that were running through my mind in terms of trying to describe what photography is all about were another way of saying amplified! Boom! There you go. I had my name."
The icing on the cake was when Angela realized that the abbreviation for amplified is amp, which also happens to be her initials.
One of Angela's inspirations and real joys in life is traveling and seeing different parts of the country, meeting new people and getting to know how they live. Much like a good writer, a photographer has to be interested in people and the environment that they find themselves in.
Angela has an extensive background in theater and cinema, both here in New York as well as in Denver Colorado, where she lived for a time. While recuperating from a near-fatal car accident, that had her laid up for awhile, Angela began to explore the arts and photography as a creative outlet.
We asked Angela how her acting and directing experience helped to broaden her skills and vision as a photographer. "My theater background plays a huge part in my work. In fact, that's how I started shooting. I always had my camera out during rehearsals. Whether I was in the show or directing the cast, I took a ton of pictures. I loved capturing the spectacle of everything, the bright lights and bold colors of the stage sets and backdrops. But what really got me was the journey. I loved looking back through an album when the show we were doing concluded it's run and re-living the whole story again, from auditions and rehearsals to opening night and final curtain. The photos that I took chronicled everything. And I loved how the photo scrapbooks brought the cast and crew together, even long after we went our separate ways."
Angela, what made you decide that, after working with other photographers, the time was right to start your own business? "I struck out on my own because I never wanted my voice to be hushed or my style to be manipulated or tweaked.I wanted to look at every single photograph I took and see myself and hear my voice in it. When you shoot a session with someone else, you have to adhere to the aesthetics of their brand. I knew that that wasn't going to be an option for me."
When we asked Angela what she liked best about being a photographer, she gave a hearty laugh accompanied by a wide grin.
"Taking the pictures, of course. Haha! Okay, other than that," she added, getting serious ", I love the way that the art makes people feel when they see a beautiful image. Especially if it's a client looking at a photo of themselves. When I see that wow moment, it makes all the planning and hard work so worthwhile."
Angela believes that the secret to establishing a strong client-photographer bond is communication. It's vital that everyone concerned is on the same page. Angela wants to know just what the client expects from her as a photographer. Does the happy couple want candid photos that are organic and casual or is their style more artistic or traditional?
As strong as Angela is with words, she is an even better listener. And that scores a lot of points with her clients.
By now, you're probably intrigued with the idea of setting up an appointment with Angela, if nuptials are in your future. You're thinking how can we make this happen. Well, the process of having Amplified Stories document your big event is smooth and seamless.
Angela, when a happy couple first gets in touch with you about booking an engagement or wedding shoot, what can they expect?
"First we go over some of the basic details. Am I available for your wedding date? What kind of budget are you comfortable with? What are your expectations? I want to get to know the couple and I also would like them to understand what my work and aesthetics are as a photographer. There's nothing worse than someone hiring you and then expecting something completely different I don't want anyone to feel let down or disappointed in any way."
After speaking over the phone, Angela will then schedule an in-person meeting with the couple. "We'll grab a coffee or even a Martini and sit down and chat informally. Whatever their beverage of choice is, I'm happy to go along with it. Once we've determined that we're all a good fit, it's time to get into the details of the wedding. Location, location, location" isn't just important to the overall success of things if you're a real estate agent.
A photographer has to become familiar with the layout of both the ceremony and reception venues. It's not uncommon for Angela to research and visit the church, reception hall or outdoor location where the wedding is to take place.
Many couples who hire Angela for their wedding also want to book an engagement session, which sees Angela taking candid, informal shots of them. There's a great deal of thought and planning that goes into these photo shoots.
"For locations, I always start by asking my couples what they do for a living; what are their hobbies, what are they passionate about? Are you both skiers? Do you guys work in the financial sector or the arts? Did you meet at the office or at a wine bar after work? How do you de-stress from your work week? Do you hang out at the beach or go apple-picking up in the Hudson Valley?"
Then Angela moves into finding out which places in the couples' neighborhood are special to them. Some clients want to be photographed at their favorite coffee shop or at the restaurant where they had their first date. One couple had Angela take photos of them on the stoop of the brownstone where they shared their first kiss.
"I want the couple to feel engaged and involved so that, when they look at the finished product and go through the photos, there's even more of their story in the scrapbook".
Angela is open to just about any backdrop or location. But, she will always be honest with her clients and offer her opinion if she feels that a particular location that they suggest won't read well in the photo.
"I tell my clients to be creative. We don't have to stay within five subway stops of wherever they live or work. I am willing to travel and do a little exploring with them. One time, I rode the subway with a couple, all the way from downtown Manhattan to the Astoria Blvd. station in Queens. They wanted to be photographed at the exact spot where they first met, three years before."
Angela can take any style of photographs that you want. She is not locked into only one way of doing things. That having been said, she feels that photos shine their brightest when they capture impromptu moments during her client's wedding day. Curious to know just what a day in the life of a wedding photographer is like, we asked Angela to take us through a typical day.
First off, though, Angela wanted to emphasize that there is no such thing as a typical wedding day shoot. Every couple has their own unique vibe or personality. And every wedding venue is different, presenting its own set of advantages and challenges, as well.
"My schedule depends on what the couple has in mind for the day. Some clients want their photographer to be at the bride's home, early in the AM and shoot a few pics of the bride interacting with her Mom, relatives, and bridesmaids when they come cover. But not everyone wants the photographer on the scene from the moment that they wake up."
If Angela isn't needed at the bride or groom's apartment. Then she will pack up her cameras and accessories and then head over to the venue. In addition to getting a copy of the program, more often than not, Angela will have a brief meeting with the couple's wedding planner so that she can get a bead on the flow of the day.
Angela, tries not to interact with her clients on the big day, other than a brief hello since they have a million things on their mind. "Once the event begins and I start shooting I stick to what has now become one of the most important rules I learned through experience... follow the bride. Wherever she is where the big moments are. I try to blend in as much as possible and just take photos."
As a photographer, you are observing and "reporting", snapping photos to chronicle the client's day. The camera is your pen, as it were. You never, ever want to be the center of attention or make guests feel that they have to "mug" for the camera or that you are invading their space."
Angela uses a Canon camera, but the lens change depending on what she's shooting and where.
She loves using natural light, whenever possible so Angela really has no preference shooting indoors or outside. But, when talking photos, say at the lake or in a park, just before sunset is a perfect time since that's when the light is so natural and soft. As a photographer who has worked hard to achieve success in her profession, Angela has seen and done it all when it comes to working alongside various bridal vendors. She has no problem if a bride asks her to recommend a vendor whose work she respects.
One such vendor is the team at Sprig and Social. "They are florists who approach their work with an eye for art and nature. A great floral arrangement can transform the bride's day, from the bouquet she carries to the table settings at the reception. I can't say enough how absolutely stunning their work is, so unique and fresh. To top it off, the two guys who own Sprig and Social are super nice and brides gush over them."
Although weddings are Angela's forte', this multi-faceted photographer also loves doing editorial and fashion shoots. "I'm hoping to make that a strong part of what I offer. And, of course, being in New York, portrait photography is huge." added Angela." Everybody is somebody or becoming a someone, so there is a great demand for portrait and headshot or lifestyle sessions too."
Remember, earlier in the article when we talked about how one might feel kind of stiff and unnatural when asked to pose for a "formal" portrait?
That feeling is a thing of the past with Angela. She will talk you through the process, make a little joke here and there and get you loosened up. But above all, she will make you forget that you are actually "posing" for a photographer.
The better you feel, the more personality will shine through in your photos. It's that simple. Your wedding is, without a doubt, one of the most important days of your life. Everything about it should be as perfect as it can be, including the photos.
You really can't put a price on happiness. But the good news is that Angela's fees are highly accessible with price points that can fit almost every budget. At the initial consultation, Angela will be more than happy to discuss finances. With several different packages available, there's sure to be one that resonates with you.
Basically, you are paying for a boutique-style, customized photo shoot. A true artist, Angela will paint a glowing picture with the lens of her camera.
Angela's style has a timeless quality about it that transcends trends. The beauty of her skill set is that Angela can take the most basic canvas or backdrop, a gritty street scene or even the corner bodega where you and your love grab your morning bagel and coffee and turn it into something romantic and captivating. It's your life's journey. Share it with the world, loud and proud with Amplified stories!
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