My priority to be more and do more and create an experience they will never forget Capturing their memories in a fun and memorable way is just as important as their beautiful images

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Behind the Scenes 2018 | Hannah Barlow Photography | WV Wedding Photography

It is that time of wedding season again!! I can’t even believe it!  The end of 2018 came and went and 2019 is HERE!

By popular demand and because you all loved 2017’s wedding behind the scenes blog so much, we’re doing it again, as promised!!!


In case you’re new to my wedding blogs or just missed the last behind the scenes posts, I’m going to give you a little summary of what you’re about to see.  As many of you know or can imagine, it takes A LOT of work, thought, creativity, patience, cooperation…I could go on and on…to make these beautiful images come to life! The unique thing about wedding photography in comparison to other genres is that we can’t control a whole lot and weddings do NOT stop!  I’ve got over three years of professional wedding photography experience under my belt now but I’m still learning new tips, tricks, and ways I can make new and improved wedding photos for my amazing couples!  I LOVE to show off what we do and how we make this magic happen!  So, sit back and relax and enjoy a little look into what happens at a Hannah Barlow Photography wedding!

So, let’s do it!

Let’s start back at the first wedding of the year in May.  Sarah and Nate’s wedding (HERE) was first off for 2018!  Kari was taking AMAZING detail shots.  This was the first wedding I relinquished some control and big responsibilities.  If you know me, you know how hard that is for me BUT Kari and I had gotten to a point where I trusted her completely.  So, when I saw her nailing these shots, there was absolutely no reason for me to butt in!  Awwww…look at her pregnant belly!! I miss that belly! OOoo and be sure to wish her a HUGE Happy Birthday!! She got one year older yesterday!

Then, we can fast forward through the 20 weddings in 2018 to the last wedding (Lisa and Dan’s…see it HERE).  At this point, I was grabbing details and throwing them at Kari, “Here you go.  Have fun!”  It’s an amazing thing…the team we’ve built!

Speaking of team…I’m working on Lacey too as one of our back up second shooters!  I threw the groom details at her…”HAVE FUN!” HA!  She nailed it!  This room was too funny.  We found it empty next to where the bride (Lisa) was getting ready.  It had great, natural light!  We also found a shoe…just one shoe.  Must have been some party the night before for someone to leave just one shoe behind! HA!  It was a tennis shoe too!

I’m ALWAYS creeping over people’s shoulders when they’re opening gifts.  I particularly love getting a shot of the handwriting before the envelope is opened!  I MAY read them too when I’m editing them in the comfort and privacy of my office!  Judge me all you want…I can’t help it!  I’m a hopeless romantic!

It’s true!! I did it to Joe too when he opened the journal Sam gave me! HA!  If you want to go back and read all about Sam and Joe’s wedding…do it HERE!  She also gave me permission to post that photo which has some of the sweetest words I’ve EVER read on them!

Kari and I both like to nail our exposure before something happens.  It’s our “trick” to wait until someone walks into the photo (exactly where we intend to photograph the bride and groom) and take a test shot.  It happens at receptions ALL the time BUT I happened to be the one who walked into this shot! HA!  The guests got a chuckle because I quickly threw on my smile when I saw her at the bottom of the steps!  P.S.  I’m wearing that jacket in the heat of May because it was a Catholic wedding and we try to be respectful and cover our arms in the church! 🙂  Just in case you were wondering!  I had someone ask me that day why I was wearing a jacket!

At Caitlin and Trey’s wedding, we had Trey open his gift from his soon-to-be wife upstairs and he said some of those shots were his favorite.  This watch was tricky and was reflecting the light badly…which is ironic considering a DARK thunderstorm rolled in just about an hour after this.  I REALLY wanted to be able to see the face of it instead of the glare so here you can see me being VERY particular about the way he was holding it (and double checking to make sure we didn’t get an obnoxious reflection).  Trey was a REAL trooper and we made some great memories during this part of the day!! Do you remember their wedding?!  It’s RIGHT HERE!

In 2017, I learned from these photos that I do not stand straight or properly put my weight on both feet like every photographer is supposed to.  This year I also learned when I take an upright/portrait orientation shot…I go crooked…my poor spine!! I’m working on this because it makes editing a pain…I have to straighten ALL of them! Oy.  So, if I’ve mentioned to you I’m a “chronic crooked shooter”…this is what I’m talking about!

I had told Kari (in the car) how much I looked forward to photographing Caitlin’s face up close.  She’s got some AMAZING features and wears makeup like a model.  THIS was Kari’s idea and she set it all up for me!  I just took the photo!

Danielle and Greg’s details were TO DIE FOR! OooO my goodness me.  See it all HERE!  I stuck myself in the little corner of their bridal suite at Irons Mill Farmstead and click, click, clicked away!  Remember…I DO have shorts under that dress!  We wear them because we know at some point in the day we will be on the ground…sitting…like this!

I found a nice little corner at Sara and Kevin’s wedding too!! See it HERE!  I was DYING over those shoes!  I still love them!

Kari’s test shot caught Abigail (of Light & Motion Media) and I discussing our plan of attack.  There is NOTHING that makes a photographer (and videographer) more happy than a person who is willing to go shoulder to shoulder to stay out of each other’s shots!  They were a DREAM to work with!  If I haven’t said it enough, MAKE SURE you choose videographers and photographers who know and have successfully worked together.  It makes ALL the difference…I promise!  Ironically, this was the first time for us and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with our results!

Danielle and Greg had a Pinterest board created!  I had my phone out making sure I got all of their “must have shots”!  Not sure what Kari is photographing here but it makes for a nice behind the scenes shot!  It shows you what really happens and how every wedding is different!  I’m also not smiling my usual smile because it was at this point I was FREAKING out over my car battery being dead (and I couldn’t get the hatch open to get my reception gear).  Danielle’s brother came to my rescue (and I totally thought he stole my car). HA!

I’m also a stickler for putting ANYTHING and EVERYTHING back where I found it!  I often move things and borrow things.  In this case…I borrowed a pew.  It was nice to have the guys move it originally but then (during dinner at the reception), I realized we forgot to move it…car battery woes.  So, we ran back outside and I had to lift this thing on my own since Kari was pregnant and I wasn’t about to let her lift anything!  That thing was HEAVY…let me tell you!  Good grief!  In true Kari fashion…she was giggling and snap, snap, snapping away…”For the end of year blog, ya know!”

It’s true.  I take a ladder with me AND it pays off!  I actually left this ladder at the first wedding of the year and was SO SAD!  I left it at Chad and Susan’s wedding later in the year too! Oy!  That thing is astonishingly lightweight and pretty much irreplaceable!  Luckily, one of my dad’s friends (Hi, Matt) attends this church and was able to snag it for me!! I’m forever grateful!  I wouldn’t be able to hang those dresses without it!  Kari saved it the second time! It just keeps coming back to us! I also carry hangers…may they all RIP.  Not one made it to the end of the year!  That’s what Kari got me for Christmas…and jumper cables…more on that in the outtakes blog!

This was taken at Kristen and Matt’s Wheeling wedding (HERE).  Kristen said the finished dress shot was one of her favorites so I’m glad we take the time to do this!  My face though…good grief.

I was totally being a creeper for Kristen and Matt’s wedding.  She had a first look with here dad and I stuck him in this little nook.  I also made small talk with him while he waited (top photo below)…then I creeped away!! HA! Jay (of Jay Morris Video Productions) was guilty too, as you can see! HA!  I wonder if my couples feel like celebrities?  We sure do look like paparazzis!

I am telling you…that ladder comes in handy!  We’re all missing you, Matt!! He’s currently deployed and I’m hoping he makes it back soon!  Fellow military couples unite and all that jazz!

Any good photographer knows to step back and let the videographer take the stage…even a control freak photographer like me.  Jay Morris wanted a hand shot and I’m not one to turn down a photo op.  So, I stood back and shot around him!  I also need to learn to put both feet flat on the ground.  Oy.  Posture goals!

We pin flowers too…always pinning flowers!  This was Jenna’s first wedding solo with me (Doug and Erica’s HERE) and she went over and above…as you can see!

I frequently bustle dresses too.  Let’s face it, at this point, I can do it faster than most people because I’ve had my hands on lots of dresses…even without having gone to the alteration’s salon!  I’m happy to help!

We sew dresses too.  Boy OoOo boy.  We had to sew and save a lot of dresses this year! 

Seriously, not a good year for dresses! HA!

Sometimes we even have to help figure out how to button and lace them up!

Back to details!  Jenna and Kari are both amazing at getting those last minute reception shots before the bride and groom are announced!! It’s a hustle..I’m telling you!

Jenna is particularly amazing at architectural shots as we’ve ALL learned this year!

This church for Jane and Tom’s wedding was SO gorgeous!  See their wedding HERE!  I was very touched to be a part of this father/daughter first look.

One of the shots I took here ended up on the front of my investment guide!  Isn’t she a doll?!  INSIDE AND OUT!  We had SO MANY great laughs in this little area before the ceremony and all with Ben McMillen of McMillen Photography who was the videographer this day.  He’s going to be upset he has to read this WHOLE thing just to find this little snippet (he gives me a hard time about being long winded via blog)! HA!  He also calls me “kid”…which means I’m going to have to start calling him “old man” if he doesn’t quit it! 🙂

Because I mentioned it, here is Jane on the cover of my latest investment guide!  Don’t forget to tell all your newly engaged friends…they’ll get a copy of this with ALL the pricing and options for 2019!

I’m cracking up over that photo of me pointing.  I look so serious but this bridal party was actually super duper easy to work with and we had a great timeline!  That photo lies but it sure does look like I’ve taken control there, huh?!  There is some serious finger pointing going on!

Seriously…some of my favorite photos!

Apparently, the pointing is a thing! HA!  Here I was telling Joe where I needed him to look (Jenna and Joe’s wedding is HERE).  It was another wedding that was SO easy!  Maybe that’s it…I can be extra bossy when my couples are super comfortable…it makes me even more comfortable!  You all know I get some crazy ideas in my head and I just won’t quit sometimes!  Nope…not until it’s JUST RIGHT!  I have always told Joe he is sometimes too good of a listener…that’s probably what he’s laughing about!

Kari caught exactly what I am talking about right here.  My Joes (there were two) this year were on.the.ball with picture time and didn’t mind it a bit!! Look at this Joe with his hand out (below).  I’m telling you…a GOOD listener! HA!

Sometimes you just can’t get the details to lean the way you want them to…I didn’t even end up using that shoe after all that! HA!  I used a candle I stole off Susan’s coffee table!  I do that sometimes!!  Remember Susan and Chad’s wedding?!  RIGHT HERE!

Sometimes you need to steal some extra details for the invitation shot too.  I KNOW we got some looks when Jenna literally stole some pumpkins out of the center piece at Sara and Kevin’s wedding.  I know they watched her put them back too…just to be sure! HA!  BUT LOOK…it was just what this photo needed, right?!  Those invitations were so beautiful and popular this year!! I do believe I photographed them three times in 2018!

..and sometimes you have to steal the essentials (like plates and utensils) in order to make the photo more visually pleasing…like at Jen and Ethan’s wedding.  Kari’s my detail girl and she was on it.  She moved it…I snapped it…then I moved in and stood for her test shot! HA! You an see their wedding HERE!

We were running running running to get everything squeezed into Susan and Chad’s big day.  I was rushing out to see if Jenna and Chad were ready for the first look and caught her giving him the low down…complete with man handling him into the correct position.  Ok…maybe not man handling…but adjusting.  Jenna’s less like Kari and more like me in this department.  When we need a job done, we just start moving things and… people where we need them to be!

If you remember this wedding (seriously…you should go read about it if you didn’t), we could not say enough amazing things about the guests…both in the way they were treating one another, treating us, and celebrating.  At one point, I was looking for Jenna and found her wrapped up in a conversation with some of the guests.  AMAZING people at this wedding!  Not once did we feel like a hired vendor!  They welcomed us with open arms!  They also get the award for best dressed group of guests!  Seriously, if you want some warm and fuzzies…go read about that wedding!  It was amazing!  We’re also going to see some of them again…wooooooo…at Susan’s sister’s wedding!! Hey, Jill!

The baker and I got into a good conversation at Maddie and Cody’s wedding (HERE) about taking photos of the cake at this venue (Generations in Wheeling, WV).  That mirror can make things tricky because no one wants to see the photographer in the reflection, right?!  Nope…no one.  So, you gotta contort your body into funny positions to get the shots we want…sans photographer in the mirror.  It’s ALL about the angle!

If you remember Maddie’s story, her and I had spent a good amount of time together leading up to her big day…so we were more like friends than vendor and client.  I was so touched she came in to hang out with me while I did her detail shots!

I say it all the time…all those little details matter and I’m not afraid to get in there and make it happen!

All hands on deck for this beautiful dress!  Jenna’s working hard once more!

Kari had JUST had baby Quinn right before Maddie’s wedding.  We all missed her…including Maddie who had come to a bridal show to meet Kari!  So, during some down time before the ceremony, we Facetimed her and said “Hello!”  I think that’s one of the things that makes the Hannah Barlow Photography experience unique…we truly care about our clients and they truly care about us!  It makes for an AMAZING experience for everyone!  Then, I blog about it!

Family formals in a Catholic church are no joke.  We’ve got to be out before mass begins and we’re always on a time crunch.  Jenna worked her butt of paying attention to all those little details.  I appreciate it so much!  And if any of you are wondering why I take so many photos of my assistants and why they take so many photos of me…well, it’s not usually intentional.  These are usually our “test shots” while we’re waiting and they double for great end of year goodness too!

Ashleigh was working her butt off at Meghan and Nate’s wedding too.  Father Smay was literally standing off to the side ready to give us the boot (I joked with him the whole reception about it).  I was literally sweating – nervous sweating!  It’s those little things you don’t think about though..but every single time we change arrangements and families…we have to move the dress…reposition the train…reposition the veil.  HUGE shout outs to all my helpers!  I couldn’t do it without you!  Remember their Beauty and the Beat wedding?  See it HERE!

…seriously…I wonder how many times we’ve fluffed and fixed dresses?!  I bet it’s an INSANE number!  It’s SO worth it!

We ALL get to fluff those dresses here and there! Kari was killing it with the light at Becca and AJ’s wedding (HERE) so I jumped in and did some fixing!  As I mentioned earlier, THIS is also why we are able to work so fast.  Despite what it looks like, it was COLD at Becca and AJ’s wedding.  So, instead of wasting time…this was Kari’s “test shot” for light and exposure while I was getting them all set!

Maddie had decided she didn’t want her veil because it was a pain to wear and move around.  We had other plans though and sent one of the awesome bridesmaids to the limo to retrieve it.  I told Maddie, “You’ll regret this if you don’t wear it for some photos even though it’s a pain in the butt!”.  I’m SO glad she let us talk her into it!  But again…so much adjusting…so much fixing…she was right! They are a pain…BUT SO PRETTY!  We know that.  We’re used to it.  It’s worth the battle!

If I haven’t said it before, my assistants ROCK!  Jenna stopped me from taking this photo so she could adjust that diamond so it was JUST right! WOOOOO!! Those things really do matter and take a good photo and make it GREAT!

Kari saved the day here and moved right in to tell me I had the photo on Kyle’s cuff link upside down.  Oy.  Sometimes I just get to rushing and that’s why I love having a second set of eyes!  I don’t take these on purpose…it’s usually because they jumped in while I was taking the photo!  You can see Audrey and Kyle’s wedding right HERE!

We were working FAST to get the dress just right for this simple but stunning dress shot!  The groom was on his way!  The irony is that we rushed and rushed and got the dress safely put away only for the videographer to show up and have to move it back out! Whomp. Whomp!  The groom did NOT get to see it though! Wheww!

Sometimes you just have to get down on the ground to utilize the best spots for photos!  Shoutout to Lacey for being the reflector holder…it’s like the most boring job EVER!

Apparently, I do this A LOT!  It’s SO worth it though!! Becca’s reception details at Bella Amore in Dennison, Ohio were off the charts GORGEOUS.  See their wedding again HERE!

At Sam and Joe’s wedding at Armstrong Farms in Saxonburg, PA (link at the beginning of this blog)…we took a long hike down the hill to get gorgeous photos!  It was wet wet wet (which was the theme of 2018) so we were extra careful with the dress!

We also took a long hike BACK UP to get to the reception! HA!  Huge shoutout to Lacey, once more, for being the third set of hands we needed this day!  Also, pictured…the back of Dan’s head.  He was the videographer and owns the company Isley Creative.

Speaking of wet.  It rained so hard at Carly and Ryan’s wedding we had to get REAL creative!  SO WORTH IT THOUGH!  See their wedding HERE!  Huge shoutout to her mom for allowing us to use those sheets!  Also if you look REAL closely and zoom in, the “foliage” I was shooting through was literally a weed I tore off the grass line and put in front of my camera! HA!  When times are tough, we get super creative…and everyone was laughing at me at the time! HA!

Sometimes people think it’s super easy to get simple photos like this.  That is NOT always the case and because I’m a crazy person about little details…we have to get creative once more!  If you look REAL closely, you can see Kari’s hand holding that “C” up! HA! (Look between the “C” and the bottom of the bar menu).  She’s also squatting down and hiding behind that barrel.  Not so easy, right?!  These photos matter to couples though so we try and make sure we not only get them but make them look their best!  We laugh the whole time too!

  More veil adjusting!! SEEEEE!  I do it myself sometimes too!! It’s hard work!  You would have never known it at Amy and Logan’s wedding but it was pretty chilly this day! I don’t know how she managed to look warm!  Their BEAUTIFUL wedding with those fabulous round, gold chairs (which EVERYONE is still talking to me about) can be seen right HERE!

At Emily and Steph’s wedding, I will always be forever thankful to have had a veteran photographer with me.  Heyyyy, Kat!  She saved the day AND managed to take the real shots plus lots of behind the scenes shots!  Look at this foyer!! Also, check out how we moved everything from one side of the room to the other (actually..I think Em did it herself)! HA!  Their Deep Creek wedding was AMAZING!  See it again HERE!

It was time for the first look BUT not before we did some last minute adjustments on Em!

I can’t say it enough…lots of people don’t realize how much planning…and moving…and repositioning goes into family formal photos!  It’s a LOT of work in a short amount of time!  What are you doing, Steph?! HA!  The Robot?!

Receptions are receptions…they’re all similar in that we don’t have a lot of control at that point in the day and we just go with the flow, as a result.  We let the DJs take the lead and we’re HAPPY to do that after a long day of keeping time!  At Jane and Tom’s wedding, however, I wanted to get creative so I literally made my camera think it was dark.  I had Jenna stand for a “test” and BAM!  I fooled everyone into thinking it was super dark in the room when in reality…the sun was shining in through those windows! Woot Woot! I squealed a bit too that it actually worked out!

Jane & Tom’s Wedding

I also had Kari stand for a test shot for Courtney and Steven’s sunset.  Their wedding was one of our Pittsburgh weddings and at Phipps Conservatory!  See it HERE!

Good gracious…I was a hot and sweaty mess their wedding!  I was also recovering from a cold so that did NOT help my appearance! HA!  Also, that flash is off…why I’m carrying that extra weight…I’ll never know!  Oy!  Let’s rewind on their day because this is neat just to see how angles matter and how different angles give you a different perspective!

Well, that’s just about it for my rambling!  Do you all like the live videos I do on the day of the wedding?  Should I keep doing them?  You tell me!!  This is what I look like (ridiculous) when I’m talking to my phone…Thanks, Kari!  But again…LOOK AT THOSE CHAIRS.  I’ll never get over them!  Amy’s wedding is known as “the one with the gold chairs”…like a Friends episode!

Well, that’s it for this blog post!  Did you enjoy it?  I know…I know…it’s a tad boring but I’m one of those nerdy people who always watches the Behind the Scenes for movies and what not!  Sometimes I think it’s fun to see what really happens to make the finished product!  So, what else do you want to see in 2019?!  You know I’m ALL about sharing so let me know!  I’ll try and make it happen!

Thanks for reading and looking!  Have a GREAT week!


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My priority to be more and do more and create an experience they will never forget Capturing their memories in a fun and memorable way is just as important as their beautiful images





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