Six Atlanta wedding venues we love

We cover weddings in lots of places: churches, farms, islands, beaches, wineries, state parks, botanical gardens and on private properties.

Occasionally, we find ourselves in a place that makes us wonder what compelled our clients to say, “This is it!!” And sometimes we find ourselves in a venue that’s a standout mix of character, spaciousness, flow, and light — a combination that screams great photos! Maybe it’s because we’re photographers, but it would seem to be that a big driver in venue choice has to be the photos it’ll render. Because the human memory is a faulty thing, and that makes photos so important. So this blog tackles the venue question from that perspective. We’ve selected a short list of Atlanta venues that worked particularly well for photography. As we highlight each, we’ll explain what made them so great not just for photography but for the wedding, and we’ll also point out any downsides that stood out for us.

Primrose Cottage, Roswell, GA

  • beautiful inside and out
  • an abundance of windows bring natural light into the bridal suite, groom’s quarters and reception area
  • the large bridal suite features a red claw-foot tub that makes for artsy photo-moments for a saucy bride
  • ceremonies are performed outdoors in a lush, shaded amphitheater-like setting.
  • a large reception hall offers high, white ceilings that are great for the bounced light that we like for candid dance and guest photos.
  • a beautifully lit garden shed on the property makes for wonderfully romantic photos

Dekalb History Center, Decatur, GA

  • situated on the square in downtown Decatur with lots of photo spots in the surrounding area.
  • the center’s second-floor ceremony and reception space is all white plaster and marble with a 16-foot ceiling and massive windows on side walls. Beautiful and super-great for photography!
  • the building is accessed via massive sets of stairs on the east and west sides of the building.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Atlanta, GA

  • while restrictive in what photographers are allowed to do and shoot in the sanctuary during a wedding mass, and quite challenging from a lighting perspective, the Basilica is one of our favorite ceremony venues because of its majestic beauty.
  • from the high-ceiling nave (the central section of the sanctuary) to the ornate apse (the dome-like space behind the pulpit), from the organ loft to the stained glass windows lining the aisles, the Basilica is a regal setting for any wedding.

Flint Hill, Norcross, GA

  • hands-down one of the most elegant wedding venues in Greater Atlanta
  • every aspect of the white-trimmed property evokes antebellum aristocracy. If that’s vibe you want, this is the place.
  • the layout is designed for a romantic outdoor wedding with up to 275 guests, with the reception ballroom being the rain-plan alternative.
  • the bridal suite is roomy, well-lit and elegant — great for prep photos.
  • the north-facing front lawn is perfect for a romantic first look and for formal photos after the ceremony.

Trolley Barn, Atlanta, GA

  • a former garage-of-sorts for the electric streetcars that roamed Atlanta in the late 1800s, the Trolley Barn since has served a variety of purposes, and now is a wedding and event center.
  • its expansive main floor with 20-plus-foot ceilings and factory-style windows create a spacious, airy atmosphere for a reception, and all that’s a plus for photos, too.
  • a mezzanine affords photographers a great bird’s-eye perspective of your reception.
  • a brick courtyard, garden and lush lawn at the rear of the building form a wonderful backdrop for an outdoor ceremony, formals and couple photos.

Fendley Farmstead, Canton, GA

  • new-ish venue with a great back-story: owner Dena Milner was raised across the street and bought the property from her childhood best friend with an eye toward creating a wedding venue. Dena’s daughter Brannigan was the first bride to marry there, in 2009.
  • it’s a rustic and large property featuring an open-sided ceremony barn, a large reception hall finished in knotty pine, a bridal cottage, a groom’s hangout, and an active pasture.
  • the ceremony barn is conducive to great photos thanks to ample natural light and a layout that permits the photographer to move about quickly and easily
  • the reception space is large with high ceilings, which is great for photos
  • the property has a variety of photo-op spots, including a white wrought-iron Cinderella carriage, vineyard, and a chandelier hanging from a tree in the pasture.

Seven steps to the right wedding photographer

When you hire a professional photographer for your wedding, they’ll typically have you sign an agreement that states not only when, where, and how long they’ll be snapping away, but also what deliverables are included.

Unfortunately for consumers, photography packages vary wildly and without any strong correlation to price or quality. This is because both the artistry and business acumen of photographers as a group also vary wildly.

So we’re going to take off our photographer hats and put on our tiaras and give you some tips on choosing the right pro.

1) Do I even need professional photos?

Ask yourself whether photos are even important enough to pay money for. If you don’t take photos when you travel or hang with friends, if you don’t post pics on social media, if you don’t surf Pinterest or IG, you might not be the kind of person who needs pictures to remember life by. Instead of hiring a photographer, save your money and let your guests crowd-source your memories. If this doesn’t apply to you, read on.

2) What style of photos do I like?

Spend some time browsing pics on Pinterest and IG. Look at your own social media photo posts. Figuring out and being aware of what you like and don’t like will help tons when you start talking to photographers.

3) Where do I find photographers?

There’s no good single registry. You can find them through their posts on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, and many have profiles posted on a variety of online wedding sites. Of course, you should also Google “wedding photographer” for the location where you’re needing them. All this goes without saying that if you’re reading this, you’ve already found one team 🙂

4) Quality before cost.

Make the photographer’s artistry and reputation your top priorities and worry about cost second. You can always find a cheap photographer, and if you’re reading this far, photo quality probably ranks for you. So create your short list of favorite photographers, and write down what you like about each.

5) Read their reviews.

It’s good to know what others have to say about the pros on your short list. Browse for reviews, and ask for references. Follow through on this. If others have had issues with a photographer whose work you really like, you can either move on or use that as a basis for conversation to get the pro’s side of the story, If the pro is defensive, red flag. If the pro owns the issue, then you’ll have something to think about.

6) Decide what coverage and deliverables you want.

When you’re comfortable that you’ve found three pros with a style you like and a reputation you trust, it’s almost time to start talking money. But money for what? You could ask for their packages, but those will be varied and hard to compare. Instead, tell your pros what coverage and deliverables you’re interested in, and ask them to price that out. Now you can compare apples-to-apples. To help you know what you want, here are some common options:

  • a second photographer for all or part of the day
  • a simple album, an heirloom-quality album, or no album at all.
  • digital images with permission to print or digitals for online sharing (cheaper)
  • physical prints, and if so, what sizes (8×10, 5×7, 4×6, etc.)
  • how many hours of coverage you’ll need
  • how many coverage locations and how far apart

7) Understand what you’re offered.

Photographers can be pretty geeky and have their own language when it comes to digital and print products and digital image format and usage. Here are seven questions to ask:

  • On average, how many photos do you deliver for a booking such as mine? Not looking for a promise, just a level-set.
  • What editing or adjusting do you do to the images I’ll receive?
  • Can I share them on social media or with friends and family?
  • Can I print them?
  • Do I have to get prints through you?
  • Can I edit them myself — adding filters or cropping them? (Usually, that’s a “no”)
  • Do you keep backups or an archive in case I need more prints or lose my copy?

Okay, our photographer hats are back on! Hopefully, this little blog post will give you some confidence as you shop for the right pro.

Shameless commerce plug: to know whether our style is your style, check us out here:

https://www.onesoulphotography.com

https://www.facebook.com/1soulphotography

https://www.instagram.com/onesoulphotography_weddings

Five Ideas for a Great Reception

On occasion, a bride will say she wants to keep the reception laid-back rather than fill it with a bunch of activities guests aren’t interested in. That seems sensible and considerate, right? Well, having photographed a reception or two, we can say confidence that the best receptions by far are the ones that start and end with fanfare and have a lot of fun going on in between. The reason for a reception is to celebrate your marriage, but the objective is to send guests home happy, a little tipsy, perhaps, and so glad they came to help congratulate you!

That said, here are five proven reception activities that will engage your crowd and make time fly.


One: The Big Intro

If you want a party atmosphere, nothing sets the tone like a high-energy kick-off. The star of that moment is the person you’ve named as emcee for the night — whether that’s your band leader, DJ, maid of honor or best man, while you and your wedding party are the electrifying cast. So get yourself a high-energy host to pump the crowd for your big entrance. Then it’s up to you and your wedding party to deliver on all that excitement when you’re announced into the room. You and your crew don’t need great dance moves, either. A complete abandonment of inhibitions will do just fine to please the crowd 🙂


Two: A Choreographed First Dance

A beautiful, well-rehearsed first dance can be mesmerizing for the crowd and a wonderful place to get lost in one another for a few minutes after a frenetic day. If you aren’t a natural, many towns have dance studios that offer inexpensive lessons that’ll make you feel like one. Even if you’re planning on winging it, you can still look great simply by maintaining posture as you dance and then finish with a dip!


Three: The Shoe Game

All it takes is two chairs, four shoes, and 20 questions for you and your new mate to leave your guests in stitches. The shoe game is definitely a reception-crowd favorite. To play, your emcee will place the aforementioned chairs back to back in the middle of the dance floor. You and your SO will take a seat, remove both shoes and then swap one with each other so that you’re each holding your own shoe in one hand and your partner’s shoe in the other. The emcee then will begin reading from a prepared list of questions things like, “Who’s the messiest?” You’ll each raise the shoe that belongs to the one who best fits the question. The Internet is full of shoe-game questions, but it’s best to leave the list-making up to a couple of people who know you well — think maid of honor and best man. If you’re adventurous, you can even authorize the emcee to conclude the game by opening the questioning up to the crowd 😉


Four: The Train

When dinner’s over, the dance floor is packed, and crowd energy is peaking, it’s the perfect time for the bride to start a train. Especially if a fun, old-school song like Louie Louie or Come On, Ride the Train is blasting. All it takes is a couple of collaborators in tow behind you to get it going!


Five: The Send-off

Nothing says “Good-night and thanks for coming” like a sparkler-and-bubbles send-off! Not every venue allows sparklers, but if yours does, combining them with bubbles makes for a magical atmosphere and fantastic photos. The secret’s in the reflectivity of the bubbles: they catch and cast the light from the sparklers, multiplying the amount of light in the air. Plus, a wand and some good bubble juice are just too much fun to stop, and they’re safer in the hands of kids than a hot sparkler!


Best wishes!

We hope these ideas will help you plan the kind of reception that you and your guests will never forget, and we hope also that you’ll consider One Soul Photography when you begin looking for the right fit in a wedding photography studio.

UK Elopement Shoot

Nestled in the rolling countryside of Midlands, UK, is a wonderful turreted estate gatehouse with a textured old-world character perfect for romantic elopements. We were there in early February to capture these beautiful moments with Erica Melargo and Marco Biagioli.

Bouquet by Mark Petford of Hite’s Florist in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, U

Finland Getaway

Jill and I work hard. Last fall I decided it was time for us to work on the bucket list. The topic of the Aurora Borealis has come up a few times, and that and Jill’s upcoming birthday seemed like a couple of great stakes in the ground for planning something exciting. After some research, I settled on taking us to northern Finland. There’s a cool little resort there with an amazing home for rent — a little house with a big view, if you will. The view, a north-facing plate glass wall in the living room, is the centerpiece of the Northern Lights House at Levin Iglut in Levi, Finland. But there’s also the sauna, showers, fireplaces, and outdoor hot tub. All ours for five days. And, of course, the views are spectacular. We were fortunate to have a rare, hours-long Northern Lights display the night before Jill’s birthday, and we spent the -17 degree evening huddled behind tripod and camera capturing undulating moment after undulating moment of the Aurora phenomenon. Enough writing. Here are our favorite pics from the trip.

Master bath
Sauna sitting room

We spent a couple of days roaming nearby Levi, countryside, and surrounding hamlets.

Stefan, the campfire barista, brews us his specialty.
Raindeer, lingonberry and Lapland cheese pizza! YUM

And finally, the Aurora Borealis!


What your photographer’s picture language means

A quick read on terms you need to know

Conversing with a photographer about what’s included in a booking can be confusing. Here are some terms and concepts that’ll help make sense of it all.

Image resolution: this drives whether an image is printable or can only be viewed electronically. Image resolution is all about a) the number of pixels per inch (ppi) in an image — the more the better — and b) the height and width of the image in number of pixels (px) — the bigger the better.

Most commonly, photographers deliver images that are either 72ppi (low-resolution pics good only for electronic or online viewing) or 240ppi or 300ppi pics (high-resolution and printable).

Printable size: To know how large a print in inches that you can make from a digital image, divide the image’s height and width by its PPI.

Example: An image with dimensions of 2400 x 3600 pixels and a PPI of 300 can make a excellent-quality 8″x12″ print. This is the natural print dimension of a photo produced by most professional digital cameras. The same image at 240ppi would make a good quality 8×12 print.

Native image format: this is the image format produced by a professional digital camera. The generic term for this is RAW file. Native-format images require conversion to viewable formats such as TIF, PNG, or most popularly, JPG. The aspect ratio of native images is 2:3. In printing terms, it’s 4×6 or 8×12. If you want an 8×10 or 5×7 print, the RAW image must be cropped to fit those sizes.

Watermark: a watermark is a semi-transparent mark placed on an image to indicate studio ownership. Sometimes, watermarks are striped through the middle of the image to make the image undesirable for online sharing or printing. Sometimes, a watermark is a studio’s logo discreetly positioned in a corner of the image.

Proof/proofing gallery: a proof is a low-resolution image, usually watermarked, and delivered to the client by way of an online gallery or through some other file-sharing means like Dropbox. Proofs are delivered for client viewing, on the condition that they not be printed or shared with others.

Okay, that’s enough jargon for now, and it’s enough to clear the way for an intelligent conversation with your photographer when you’re discussing what your pro might include or charge extra for.

Big 2019!

This year marks the third year that Jill and I have been putting our heads together, and it marks the second year of One Soul Photography. In 2018 we shot weddings across the southeastern US, Jamaica and Cancun, and we finished the year shooting a wonderful boudoir session at the former Helmsley Palace Hotel in New York City! Coming into 2019, we’ve hit the ground running with a dozen Southeastern US weddings on the books and weddings in Costa Rica and the UK in the works.

On Friday, Feb. 1, we fly to London for a bridal shoot in Shrewsbury, UK. Then we jet to Kitilla, Finland, to spend a few days with our cameras ready to capture the Northern Lights!

Thanks to more referral business, we’ve been able to move our marketing concentration away from quote-based services like Thumbtack in favor of more personal face-to-face opportunities. So we’re upping our game at bridal shows in Georgia and south Florida. So keep your eye out for One Soul Photography!