Valentines Themed Styled Shoot Richmond, Virginia

Happy Valentines Day!! We took part in this over the top very pink styled shoot a very long time ago and never posted the images to our Blog! When we showed up to this shoot we had no idea what the design or colors would be….. and although the taste suits a more vibrant and bold aesthetic it’s PERFECT for Valentines Day!! …and was a lot of fun! Working with this dear model,  Katie was a joy! She hired us later to take photos with her husband and that was amazing!!

We wish you a wonderful Valentines Day! Love is a gift, finding the one to spend the rest of your life with is nothing short of a little miracle. We’re thankful for one another every day but Valentines Day is just an extra special day to spoil one another, have a candle lit dinner light and eat chocolate! 🙂 Do it All for LOVE!

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Virginia Zoo Engagement Norfolk, Virginia Wedding Photographers

The Virginia Zoo is well known but also a hidden gem when it comes to Weddings and Engagements!! We’ve been in love with the Zoo since before our own Wedding here and it really is a special place! Bethany & Michael who both work here and have the coolest jobs ever working closely with Asian Cats & Reptiles!! When they told us they wanted their Engagement session at the Zoo we were so psyched…

We loved walking around after the Zoo was closed and getting to know this beautiful couple even! Their Wedding day is this spring and it’s going to be stunning!


xoxo, Courtney & Michael

IG: @blushwoodstudios & @themanions


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Making the Most of A Gorgeous Venue Virginia & Upstate New York Wedding Photographers

You’re engaged, you’ve got your ring bling and your Wedding plans are starting to roll!!! You made your move on your favorite Wedding venue and secured the date you really wanted!! Congratulations, that’s Huge!

Chances are you choose your Wedding venue for the following reasons (to name a few):

  • The way you want your Wedding to look
  • Your overall Wedding style (rustic, luxurious, classic, etc.)
  • The way you want your day to feel 
  • The unique features of your Venue

Your final Collection of images should show that off! Having a Photography team that places the uniqueness of your venue, the beauty in your details and portraits as a priority in your coverage is extremely valuable.

Whenever Michael and I are on a site visit or arriving for the first time to shoot we’re like treasure hunters searching for jewels! Where is the shade? Where is the natural beauty? Where is the indoor beauty? What are the unique features of the space that make it special and give it character? Exposed brick, ivy walls, …rustic charm??  This is our photography & film mindset for each and every Wedding. From the southern backyard ceremony to the fanciest downtown hotel reception and everything in between, we want your Wedding coverage to be thorough, timeless and excellent. 

To make the very most of your Venue there are a few things you can do as you begin to plan:

Consult the Venue manager

Venue managers will be the most familiar with the big picture and will not only know the best spots but where the hidden ones are too! It’s amazing what opens up to us when we Ask!!   Because like we always tell our couples, you can go to any venue and discover more places on site or around it that you never knew were there!! 

Arrange Site Visits

Venue managers really want you to utilize the space and your time at their venue. They also want to have the most beautiful images of their space indoors and out. Visit your venue with the sun in mind.  Remember that a venue will look completely different by season and from day to night.  This is especially important to keep in mind if you’ve chosen your venue for windows and for natural light!!

Find the Charm

If the room where you decide to get dressed isn’t so ideal, think about another beautiful indoor room for your formal Getting Ready Portraits. You’ll be amazed at how big of a difference this makes! Eliminate the clutter of garment bags and suitcases and stuff strew around during a morning of hair, makeup and mimosas. For the prettiest Getting Ready coverage, choose rooms with lots of natural light. There are wonderful venues with masculine touches. Even if actual locker rooms are where your guys get dressed, think outside the box for his official getting ready portraits. Let’s not confine our husband to be to a dark closet or the church nursery for all of his pre-Wedding moments!

Allow Time

We can’t emphasize this enough! Some venues are huge.. and what is normally not so huge with tennis shoes and yoga pants becomes a whole other level of huge when you’re wearing Jimmy Choos and a Wedding gown! We have a couple of Wedding day timeline hacks that we’ve developed to help our brides cover all of their most desired spots… and they work!! Wherever you are planning the Wedding of your dreams, let us help you maximize your coverage by showing off the best parts of your venue with the best light in mind!

Making the most of your Venue during your Wedding experience can be a lot of fun. From where you decide to get ready, to where we stage your family portraits is all part of crafting gorgeous Wedding coverage and the Wedding album of your dreams.

Love, Courtney & Michael

Covering Weddings across Virginia, Upstate & Central New York 

 @blushwoodstudios & @themanions

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For Michael On His Birthday…. Virginia Wedding Photographers

My Beloved,

Today is Your day. It’s your Birthday.

Last night you convinced me to go hiking with you before midnight while you took long exposures of a clear winter’s night. After some protest, I agreed.  You ran outside to check the stars, came back in, cut a smile and sprawled out on the floor. You told me you wanted to spend the first few minutes of your Birthday (after midnight) gazing into my eyes instead… AND also because the sky was no longer clear but hazy and all of 10 degrees!! hahaha  This is just one minuscule reason i love you. You’re kinda crazy! lol

Michael, Thank you for being the best friend and the greatest gift second to Jesus I’ll ever have. Thanks for being you…  I’m so so glad it’s You.
God has a way of doing what seems absolutely impossible doesn’t He!?  Of all the places we both could have been the day we met. At the time we were literally living worlds apart with Zero mutual friends. And there you were. You saw me.  I had no idea how much my life was about to change. I had no idea my prayers had been answered and no idea in that moment that the preppy, handsome, Italian guy with a beard who walked into the room would be mine!!
I remember the day I really knew that God had brought us together …. and it was the best day.
For the adventures across the world we’ve taken in these short 3 years of time…..
For the God-sized dreams we’ve dreamed up together and the goals we’ve accomplished ….
My heart is full of gratitude.
I have known an abundance of God’s blessings.
When we’re sharing the bathroom sink or stepping over each other in our tiny closet ….
When I can hear you downstairs singing praise songs while making coffee …
All the times we cooked Indian and Thai Curries in our kitchen in Norfolk while playing Blue Grass ….
The afternoons we’ve spent sitting by the river, especially on Sundays after church to talk and watch Sampson swim…
For all the hikes and treks I get to take with you in the middle of no where…
I have cherished every day I get to spend with you.
I remember when you used to wake me up at 4:30 in the morning just to say goodbye before you left for work… (because even though you would have much rather be living out your dreams, you hustled a Full time/overtime job and still shot 25 + Weddings and Engagements with me! I thank God often for your work ethic and the way you serve our clients. I thank Him for the things you do that no one will ever know. I thank God that we now get to hustle Full time together and that saying goodbye doesn’t happen so much anymore.
For the ways you remind me of God’s best and point me towards Christ…
For the absolutely hilarious and romantic things you say to get a reaction….
For your cuddles, kisses, silliness and boldness….
For all the times you embarrass me by slow dancing with me in the grocery store…
For the faith and integrity you exhibit and model daily….
Michael, your joy, which is always contagious even on the grimiest of days, becomes my joy. Your laughter… my laughter.
Life with you us just so much fun!
There is never a moment my heart isn’t full of Love and there is Never a day that I am not absolutely and completely aware of how big a miracle finding true love and compatibility in this great big crazy world really is. God sure has a way of giving us way more than what we asked.. doesn’t He!?! I love you SO MUCH!
I’m blessed to live life with you and to be loved by you. I can’t wait to see all of the adventurous plans God has for you.
I can’t wait to grow a family with you and to see you add one more title to all the roles you play so well!
You’ll be great at it. Because whatever you set your mind to, you blow me away.
May this year be full of unexpected Blessings and crazy, unmerited favor and grace. May your creativity shine and as you continue to live out your life, following hard after God, may He grant you every desire of your heart.  No doubt He’ll continue to show you great and wonderful things this year and in the years to come!!
I love you and I’ll love you forever. Happy Birthday!!!!
Your Loving Wifey,
(Now off to the Ski Slopes we go!! )
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10 Effective Ways We Reduce Stress While Managing a Business Virginia & Upstate New York Wedding Photographers/ Filmmakers

Being a full time entrepreneur is one of the most rewarding parts of our life. Having complete control over our schedule, being able to work from just about anywhere, flexibility and the added bonus of working together as a husband and wife team is all a dream come true. There are so many wonderful advantages. We thrive off of the hustle and excitement of owning our own businesses!!! It’s just in our veins! While the lifestyle of being self employed can be flexible and freeing, the reality is it can also at times be very stressful.
What most successful small business owners will tell you is that “you will have never worked harder in your entire life”! We have found this to be true. Building a business and nurturing it to be solid, organized and profitable takes relentless hard work, wisdom, guts and knowing how to handle the inevitable and daily threat of STRESS!!
Stress and anxiety can deplete your ability to concentrate, zap your energy and kill motivation. Highly Driven people can literally drive themselves crazy and that’s no joke! What benefit is it to have a successful business but living a stressed and miserable day to day life?? Yeah, No thanks! We haven’t conquered them all, but we’ve identified 10 ways we’re committing ourselves to staying healthy and whole while pursuing our Entrepreneur dreams.
In addition to a committed daily Prayer life, these are the ways we’re working to Reduce Stress & Anxiety:

1. Exercise

Did you know that even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects in the brain?
Maybe you’re a gym goer or you prefer hitting the street for a run, or even dancing around the living room (like Courtney does), whatever exercise looks like for you, producing those endorphins (chemicals in the brain that act as painkillers) will reduce stress! It feels really good to exercise.

2.  Getting Enough Sleep

We’ll be first to admit that we’re NIGHT owls! We get all kinds of ideas at night and overall we still like to wake up and get our day started early which results in overall less sleep!
Making Rest a priority and getting REM sleep is going to keep us at our best.

3. Setting Weekly Goals

Setting goals and then mapping out a plan to conquer them not only will reduce your stress it will add to your motivation and overall Job satisfaction. No matter what we do for a living, we’ve all been there, when the work piles up and the things that we have to do outweighs the things we’ve done.
Squashing procrastination and writing out goals for each week will always produce the best results! You know what feels really good?… Crushing your goals!!

4. Boundaries for Business

Setting clear boundaries as a business owner means setting work hours and breaks …. and sticking to them!
This is one that’s hard for a lot of people. At any hour of the day, emails arrive in the inbox and the phone rings. Yes,there are days that require more hustle but overall respecting your own boundaries and being able to say “No!” will serve you and your family well.

5. A Clean & Comfortable Work Environment

Mess is distracting. Having a clean space is proven to make you more efficient, helps to keep you on task, maintains organization and clarity of thought. Also, cleaning in itself can be therapeutic. We like to keep a calm mood, our favorite music playing and our favorite candles, oils or incense burning. Creating a calm and comforting environment where we work helps us to be more productive throughout a work day.

6. Fresh Air

Get Outside!!  When we’re not working 9 times out of 10 we’re outside. The Beauty of your surroundings, peace, quiet, grass, trees, open fields, or the woods does wonders in reducing stress and clearing the mind. You don’t have to exercise when you go but just get out there!

7. Eating Well

What we put in our body is either helping us or directly working against us. Spikes in blood sugar which then cause it to crash only increases stress and anxiety.
If your battling a stressful day, drinking more coffee, wine or sweets may not be the best idea.
When we’re stressed our body produces hormones that enhance our appetites and cravings for unhealthy foods. Let’s keep it real though… We all have a cheat day and that’s okay!!
 Viewing food as fuel is a game changer. Find the healthiest and tastiest fuel you can to put in your body!… Leafy greens, Vitamin C rich foods, heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole grains. Healthy eating has endless advantages for mood, confidence and overall health.

8. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

We all know of someone doing something we’re doing and who appears to be doing it better!
That’s life. Comparing yourself to other people and other businesses is the most self sabotaging thing you can do. Run your own race and have fun reaching your own goals.
Comparison robs you of joy, causes depression and adds to unnecessary stress.
Finding mentors and people you admire for their work ethic, integrity and talent will inspire you and keep you focused on your own growth. Flip the script!! There is no one in the world who has what you have to offer. Know your unique value, stay positive and keep it moving!

9. Stay Organized

There’s so much involved in running a business. Taxes, invoices, scheduling, expenses.. etc. Staying on top of your book keeping is going to make your life a lot easier, quarterly and at the end of the year!

10. Reward yourself for Hard Work!

A vacation. A cupcake. A get away. 🙂 Whatever feels like a real reward, when you reach a goal make sure you take time to celebrate it!
2019 is a great year to start living a more abundant life!
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