Maine Wedding Photographer » Brunswick, ME Wedding Photographer Michele Stapleton

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  • Michele Stapleton: Maine Photographer

    Based in Brunswick (just east of Portland) I am a full-time professional photographer working in Maine for editorial, education and commercial clients from all across the country.

    I also accept a limited number of weddings every summer, working in some of Maine and Northern New England's loveliest venues. Yes, going to awesome parties almost every weekend in the summer is a tough job; poor me.

    My blog goal is to collect in-depth posts containing fun stories, useful tips and photos that might help others plan a Maine wedding. If you have questions or ideas for posts, please feel free to email or to add a comment.

    If you're looking for shorter tips, fan the Maine Wedding Photographer page on facebook, where I post shorter snippets of information including links to interesting articles. All this hopefully-helpful information is gleaned from ten-plus years of working behind the scenes at terrific weddings all over Maine. No hard selling, just common sense tips to make your Maine wedding as fun--and stress-free--as possible. Even if I'm not available to cover your wedding or other event, I'm more than willing to share my expertise.

    Enjoy!

No matter how well you prepare, oftentimes something unexpected surprises you when you photograph a wedding. And delights you.

Because there was not a videographer engaged to record Laura and Sam’s ceremony, I asked Mattie Daughtry, my resident Photoshop guru, to try her hand at making an animated gif so the magic of the moment (Laura and Sam’s fun first kiss) wouldn’t be lost.

So here is Mattie’s gif made stitching together the still shots I had captured.

Congrats Sam and Laura! (Aren’t they just the cutest?)

Lola Childrens HomeLola Children’s Home is an orphanage in Mekele, Ethiopia which serves HIV-positive children. I know about the wonderful work being done at Lola–and even got the amazing opportunity to travel there three years ago–because of Allie Haley and Tim Hill, whose wedding I had photographed in Maine a few years earlier. Allie and Tim are instrumental in fundraising in the US for this very worth cause.

Allie organizes a yearly auction to raise funds for Lola, and each year she gathers wonderful auction items such as sports memorabilia (a basketball autographed by the 2013-14 Celtics anyone?), passes to family-friendly attractions, and certificates for restaurants, shopping and lodging. Even for lodging in exotic locales (surely on this snowy day you can’t resist a vacation in Antigua or St. Lucia?)

I have donated a $500 gift certificate for photography. And, while it can be used for booking a new shoot, if you are an existing customer (e.g., a client who has booked me for a 2014 wedding), you can also use it for payment on an existing contract. This is a very good deal as you can potentially pick up the gift certificate for under face value. Meaning you can get a break on what you’ll pay under your contract, plus get to direct that money to a very worthy cause.

The auction will be over on Monday (Feb 10th) so don’t delay. Please take a minute to visit the auction at https://www.biddingforgood.com/lolawinterauction and bid on my gift certificate plus any other number of great items!

same sex marriage gay weddings maine brunswick

Today I was honored to take photographs at the Brunswick town hall on the first day that Maine issued same-sex marriage licenses. Legislation passed on November 6th and signed into law by the Governor made today (November 29, 2012) the first day that marriage licenses could be issued to same-sex couples.

Town offices are normally closed on Saturdays, but many scheduled special Saturday openings so that couples seeking licenses could apply as soon as the law went into effect. Portland grabbed the headlines with a special midnight opening and a crowd estimated at three hundred cheering outside. Brunswick was quieter, opening from 9 to 12, but it was still very productive, issuing seven of the estimated 40 licenses issued today statewide.  And, two Brunswick couples held their ceremonies immediately, before leaving the town hall. (In the photo above, the ring bearers for the first Brunswick wedding showed off the matching wedding bands before the private ceremony got under way.)

Like many photographers, I often tear up at weddings, and Saturday was no exception.  The effort to extend the right to marry to all Maine citizens was a long time coming, and the setback suffered in 2009, when No on 1, was defeated, made folks nervous that marriage equality might be defeated again. Even though going into Election Day 2012 the polls showed that Mainers supported same-sex marriage, the memory of 2009’s setback–when the  polling data also indicated a probable win–had many folks afraid to get their hopes up. When the figures came in late on election night a collective sigh of relief went up as Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states to approve gay marriage by popular vote.

As a resident of Maine by choice, not by birth, I’m very proud of my adopted state. It was Maine’s natural beauty, which I discovered as a tourist, that made me want to move here, but it took me actually living here to realize that there is a whole lot more than just lobsters and lighthouses to “The Way Life Should Be.”  Today, we added the right of all citizens to marry. Yea Maine!

  • Andree Kehn - December 30, 2012 - 8:18 am

    Beautiful photos, Michele!

  • Mike Garrard - February 17, 2013 - 12:46 pm

    Great news, proud of Maine :)

On high-season weekends (mid-May to mid-October) I only offer two-photographer packages. And, I’m often asked by couples–who love my work, but have set low budgets for wedding photography–if they can dispense with that second photographer to save money. My answer is always an unequivocal “no.”
I insist on a second photographer because I know that one photographer working alone cannot provide the coverage couples deserve.  It boils down to the simple fact that one person can’t be in two places at the same time. One person can’t be capturing the emotion between the bride and her dad as they prepare to walk down the aisle and also catch the flower girl dumping her entire basket of flowers five feet from the altar. Or also be focused on the groom’s anticipation.
There is so much going on at the same time, if there is just one photographer, something wonderful has to be ignored.
I’ll say it another way for emphasis:  At some points during the wedding day there are too many things going on simultaneously for one photographer to get all of them. Tough choices have to be made.
For example, last night the couple did not want to meet for photos before the ceremony, so we set photos for after the ceremony. The couple wanted to take some of the photos on the nearby beach which added travel to the equation. Even though I zipped through their list  quickly, it still meant we were gone over an hour, and we missed the entire cocktail hour.
Now, to get good photos of the placecards, table decorations, table flowers, cake, paper lanterns, etc., a photographer needs to get to the reception room before it is mobbed with people. In the best possible situation the photographer sneaks into this room while it is still empty, cranks the lights up to full power to get as much light as possible for the shot, and is done before guests are invited into the room.
Thankfully, I had a second photographer.  If not, the couple would have been screwed. The placecards were all picked over up by the time I returned with the couple, and folks were seated at all the tables with the lighting cranked down low; the bride, groom and I got back just in time for introductions.
I want my couples to have formal photos AND decor photos. That’s why I added a second photographer and why I say that during the high season that I will work only with couples who are willing to budget for two photographers. Because I strongly believe that’s what it takes to meet a couple’s expectations.
It’s also so much less stressful when there are two photographers.  When I first started out, I worked alone. I would briefly leave the bride’s getting-ready quarters to go get some photos of the guys, and I’d tell the bride “don’t get into your dress until I get back.”  Often I’d arrive at the guy’s room to find them running late.  They were supposed to be ready for photos, but often they were just donning ties.  Of course, that would make me late getting back to the bride, and she would be stressed.
This is why I have two photographers. If you are running late or the guys are running late, it doesn’t affect the other side.
Finally, having one photographer who can “cover” things, leaves the second photographer free to chase the unexpected.   Often there is a balcony where one photographer can take psuedo-aerial shots of the ceremony. Or, when night falls, one photographer might step outside the tent–over even across the road–to get a nice shot of the tent.  When someone is covering for me, I am free to go for the very special shots.
Which brings us back to the budget issue.  If you like the photos you see on the websites of photographers who work with a second, you’re going to need to budget enough to get two photographers. If you budget only enough for one photographer working alone, then you should expect that certain things might not get photographed.

Our latest project: building a video presence on Vimeo.

Please come peek at our ambitious start with four wedding videos, a stop-action photo booth and one engagement session set to music.

The videos were all put together by assistant Matthea Daughtry, who came to me this past April looking for work and expressing a passion for video and stop-action movies.  I, too, had been bit by the stop-action bug, so I was anxious to see what we might do with the technique.

Mattie created the entire Rebecca & Jason video on her own, plus found the catchy tune it’s synchronized with.  She also shot most of the the Cheyanne and Shane video. She made the remaining videos using stills that Angie Devenney and I had already shot. Mattie, a Final Cut Pro afficionado, picked out the frames, sequenced them, and found most of the songs. (I take credit for finding the wonderful Jonny Blu.)

Speaking of songs, we’re especially proud of the music on the videos, not just that they are fun tunes, but also the fact that we’ve supported other artists by only using properly-licensed music. There is rampant disregard of copyright today, all you have to do is go to YouTube to see folks using popular music (from DVDs or iTunes) that they purchased inexpensively for personal use only. Using that music on a video is in conflict with the personal use license and a copyright violation. Professional photographers or videographers creating (and selling and posting online) wedding videos using popular music that was purchased for personal use only is especially egregious, and we didn’t want to go that route, though we’ve seen many in our industry do so. (And it certainly would have been easier and much less expensive.)

We decided from Day One that we were going to take the high road even though it meant more work (we spent hours digging through so-so songs to find the gems) and more costly (we paid at least $49 for each song used.)  After all, how can we expect others to respect our copyrights to our photography if we violate other artists’ rights? In the process we found some really fun songs and did our part to support up-and-coming artists who, like us, can continue to create if rewarded financially for their efforts.

Okay, rant over.

Please visit our vimeo site and enjoy!

  • lisa weldon - December 30, 2011 - 9:25 pm

    WOW, Michele. This is amazing. I don’t see your name anywhere. I know your logo appears at the end of the videos, but I’d love to see, “Hello, I’m Michele Stapleton, ….” or some I.d. right up front.

    These are unbelievable. Where did you get the music?

  • mstapleton - December 30, 2011 - 9:34 pm

    Thanks. This was a fun project.

    My name is part of the logo, and my name appears in the home page in the text. Look here. Then, all of our names and the web site links appear down under each video like here.

    We found the music on sites like The Music Bed and Triple Scoop, and Vimeo itself has a music store where you can license music. I’d love to work directly with small indie bands in this area if we can find some songs that are suitable for this use.

  • mstapleton - December 30, 2011 - 9:36 pm

    P.S. Sorry if it looks like I am YELLING at you. WordPress is capitalizing and bolding anything in a comment that is a link.

  • meg simone - May 9, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Michelle – these are AMAZING! I loved Rebecca and Jasons! So creative and fun and SO much work! 6,000 images! Super fun and I loved the shirt on the bed dressing itself. I also love that you are finding royalty free / license songs. The Music Bed is one of the best, and also try SongFreedom too :) See you soon :) Meg

  • mstapleton - May 9, 2012 - 7:01 pm

    Thanks. Look forward to working with a real pro (you) in June. :)

  • DeVende Photography - May 18, 2012 - 1:09 am

    Hi there fellow Fearless Photographer! Trying to start out video as well, proving quite challenging. Happy shooting, thought I would stop by and say hello! :)