Before I knew that Ken Cavanaugh had 21 years of photography experience and before I watched him kneel in mud to get a shot of us at the farm last Tuesday, I emailed Cavanaugh Photography because I'd cried when I saw a STRANGER'S first look images. Here's the gallery that got me.

How lucky and fortunate are we that this passionate photographer, who co-owns Cavanaugh Photography with his wife, Natalie, has a need for a writer. We will be trading their wedding photography package for three promotional magazines I will write to highlight their three specialties: weddings, senior portraits and family portraits. (I also am lucky and blessed to have a graphic designer of a sister who's agreed to design the project alongside me.)

Photography, Ken told me in an interview for this blog, just clicked for him. From high school to now, he's been drawn to learning about the people he photographs, and serving them.

"Everybody is capable of taking a great photograph," he said days after he photographed my love and me at Mapleside Farms. "You've got to believe that if you're a portrait photographer."

I wasn't so confident. I have my photogenic days, and then I have days when I de-tag umpteen photos on Facebook because they're just plain unflattering.

A word of advice: Always ask for something you want. I only learned how generous Mapleside Farms is when I asked. Ken couldn't believe we were given a private tour of the farm for nearly two hours, free of charge. I couldn't either.

Then, I asked a pair of makeup artists, who formed a makeup business called Miss Monroe's this year, if they'd be interested in doing my makeup for the engagement pictures as a trial run to the wedding. They'd reached out months ago, interested in a trade, after I posted to craigslist. I arrived to Brandy's home sans makeup, a scary thing for a girl who scarcely leaves the house without eyeliner.
I had never seen so much makeup in a person's home in my life.
The collection makes sense, given the women's years of experience doing makeup for fashion shows, photo shoots and more. They work for makeup companies, but they are not pushy. I didn't expect it, but I left with loads of free samples, namely this product they say alleviates dry skin on the backs of one's arms. Where has DERMAdoctor been all my life?!

Here they are, making me over.
"We love being able to help a client with a beauty concern and have them walk away from their time with us feeling beautiful and more confident!" Brandy told me.

Effective, they are.
And now, a sneak peek, or three:
Now, before you get all, um why?, about the last creep-tastic image, behold our patio, the place where our love for Halloween glows nightly:
Yes, we DO own fake blood. And yes, that is an old work shirt and jeans of mine. All for the cause!
I know this blog post is a novella, but I figure I should share the few words of advice I picked up through this experience. Ken said every bride and groom should ask prospective photographers:

*About their skills, but not just photography skills. Watch a person's people skills, too. (Ken has this covered. You know those people you meet who are genuinely that friendly? Yes.)
*About their experience. (Cavanaugh = 21 years.) Oh, and do they have backup  equipment? ("Of course," Ken said when I asked him for his answer.)

Finally, I'll add my own advice: Seek someone who will answer every question you have. When I asked Natalie what we should wear,  she responded in no time: "Avoiding patterns is always better. As for men -- we usually suggest minimal patterns and also that he compliment your colors. So, you don't have to match, but if one wears dark colors -- the other should wear dark colors and vice versa. Similar tones will be pleasing to the eye in the photo."

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