The Amber Show

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Drinks With Amber

Over a year ago, I went to a local networking event and met another photographer, Alexis, and we formed a low-key drinks-and-snacks meet up for wedding professionals. She eventually told me her life was full and the time commitment too much for her, but gave me the thumbs up to continue it on my own.

I recently branded it #DrinksWithAmber

Does this make me an asshole? I did it while asking myself this, but then thought of all of the mediocre white guys who do more with less success than I’ve achieved, and did it anyway.

***

Seth Godin wrote about the Dip, a place in business where you’re leveling up and then acceleration slows you down temporarily. Pair that with a constant shifting market, the fact that I want to switch to service a more luxurious client even though, when left in my natural state, I barely remember to brush my hair, and an ever-more crowded industry, and popping my head up to rise above is increasingly difficult.

#DrinksWithAmber might be a tiny part of that, but oh man does it feel strange to promote myself this hard. I also recently spoke at a conference, and was so nervous I forgot to stand up, but my feedback was okay – at least what people said to my face.

I’m supposed to be relaxing next week on vacation, and I promise there are some fun fiction books downloaded on my Kindle, but I’m bringing along my copy of the Dip to study again, too.

I’m working hard, and, to be honest, greif has fueled me and I’m managing that balance as consciously as I can. I’m fueled, too, but the constant desire to rise above my blue-collar roots. I knew it would be tricky, but not this much.

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Scratches and Soap Scum

Until late last night, I hadn’t looked at Marley’s wedding ring that closely since I slipped it on his finger at our wedding ceremony some weeks ago. I was not quite ready to go to bed, and wanted to practice some wedding ring macro shots using the $20 video light I had all but forgotten was buried in my “not really in use” gear cabinet. (This is what wedding photographers do, because we are all a tiny bit insane.)

I was surprised to see it has dings on it already. When I usually photograph my client’s wedding rings they are, of course, smooth and perfect, but his has scratches and dents already, the beginnings of a lifetime that will likely completely warp the gold in little marks of a life well-lived and well-loved. I got so sentimental about those tiny marks! There’s also a bit of soap scum, because he took it off for me while he was washing the dishes. I set myself up next to him in the kitchen, and put the rings on our slate cheese board.

I’m going to clean up the final image for use in my portfolio, which I would do with any new ring my client asked me to photograph, but here at the Amber Show, I wanted to show you the genuine photo of the dents, and the soap scum. Mine is leaning on his.

wedding rings

 

P.S. If you’re wondering, we chose to special order our rings in undipped white gold (sometimes called “unplated white gold”) which renders a shade warmer than what you see called white gold, and a shade cooler and brighter than yellow gold. There isn’t a lot of information about this on the internet, so I’m spreading the good word.

P.P.S. His is from Greenwich Jewlers, and mine is a custom modification of an existing design by Oliva Ewing.

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Looking Back at My Goals for 2015

In January, I picked three big goals for year and wrote them on the back of my paper calendar.

1. Get at least two blog features

2. Sell wedding albums.

3. Book ten big weddings.

I managed to get two blog features, both in Simply Elope. You can see my feature on Colm and Marie who eloped to Central Park and read my five best eloping to New York City tips here, which got shared on Facebook 45 times. Not too shabby.

There were a LOT of albums sold. Because I can over-analyze anything to death, I realized pretty quickly that if I spent too much time researching every single option and every single album company available to wedding photographers I would get overwhelmed and stuck, so I just jumped into the album game for the first time this year and opted to figure everything out as it went along. It’s been messy and hectic, but at this point most of my elopement clients and virtually all of my big wedding clients are adding albums to their wedding packages. This makes me happy; it’s more money in my pocket, and it’s so fun to get them back from the printer and ship them off.

Maybe it’s just me, but often when I start “selling” there’s the “does this make me a slimeball?” question feeling, but in the case of upselling my clients on albums, I genuinely, sincerely believe that everyone should have one, so I’m able to sell them easily.  It feels only amazing and good to look a client in the eye and say, “This is a good price on a great product that I believe you should have. Your grandchildren will thank you. In fact, look how much I love my own grandma’s wedding album.”

Yes to wedding albums.

And finally, I booked eleven big wedding this year so NAILED IT. My goal for 2016 is fifteen, which feels impossible, but which my entire life’s experience tells me is not. I have two officially on the books right now, so thirteen more to go. Tell your friends.

 

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Come On Over, Valerie

This week, Valerie has been staying with us. She’s pretty great; this is what it looks like when she smiles.

She has got to be one of the coolest people I know; she didn’t have a passport until age 25, and then decided to be a world traveler. Now she’s got almost 30 countries under her belt. My couch is her last stop in the US before she’s off to Machu Picchu.

I laid low this week. I’m not going quite as far as Val, but I’m gone all weekend photographing weddings in New England. I basically stayed within a few blocks of my apartment, got out of pajamas only when strictly necessary, and recovered from my root canal treatments… and I launched a company, like, no big deal.

Someone posted about this fantastic Washington DC company on my Facebook page, and I thought, “Brilliant. Exactly what I’ve wanted to do for ages.”

I immediately began planning to do something similar, and it spun off quickly into a wedding collective of vendors who can serve eloping couples. I’m excited to see what becomes of it, and will share the website soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to be a part of it, send me an email to amber at ambermarlow dot com.

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Published! “Baby Sign Language” by Sarah Christensen Fu

baby sign language

A while ago I was hired to photograph a baby sign language booklet/flash card set. I met Sarah in our neighborhood to discuss the project, and we got on like gang busters. There were a few snags in the road and we both learned a lot, but we did it, and last week the publisher sent me an advance copy. I think it looks great! Check out my name right there in print.

sarah christensen fu

baby sign language

My buddy Miles!

sarah christensen fu

My favorite part of the finished project (aside from making an awesome friend) was that while we were “on set” photographing one of Sarah’s young sons doing some signs, Matty wandered into the room and onto the set. Matty really loves little kids, I suspect because they’re usually sticky with something delicious and full of snacks, and kids, even babies, seem to universally respond warmly to him, probably because his face is so friendly and his stumpy basset hound legs make him low to the ground. He’s right on eye level. My little subject was having a snack and was cheerfully flinging crackers towards a grateful dog. Amused, I snapped a photo of the two of them and accidentally uploaded it with all of the other files to the publisher. And they used it! My dog is famous.

If you ever need anyone to hang a blue background up in five minutes flat, call Sarah and me – we are your gals. You can pre-order the book here.

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Cool Careers for Dummies

When I was 18, I bought a book called “Cool Careers for Dummies” and packed it along with my discman on a trip to Maine with Jen, her parents, and a few of our friends, including Micah who is now her husband of nine years, and the whole trip was kind of weird because Jen and Micah sort of liked each other but it was tense and awkward, but now it’s better because when I go, “you guys looooove each other!” they respond with grinning and making outs in their kitchen instead of looking down, shuffling their feet, and turning bright red.

We’ve come a long way. I am less of a punk now.

Anyway, one of the careers I earmarked was “Neon Sign Maker” because that seemed awesome, and as it turns out, Kelly Mark is an artist that makes them. It’s not too over-the-top to get one for my living room, is it?

When I was a young teenager I wanted to make things that were visually beautiful and meet a lot of people which is exactly what I do now, but I never knew what it would look like until a decade and a half later when it fell into place. I think it’s so cool that I’ve stayed true to who I was years ago!

What did you want to be when you grew up? Are there elements of what you dreamed of that are present in your job today?

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