Our Anniversary: Melanie & Jim - Glen Coe, Scotland

Jim and I had the pleasure of traveling to Scotland this past May; both a business and vacation. I was photographing a wedding in Errol, Scotland (click “here” to see the pictures) and after the wedding, our little adventure through Scotland would begin. We visited several places; Glen Coe being one of them. While planning this portion of our journey, I booked a portrait session for Jim and I to celebrate our upcoming wedding anniversary (29.07.19) with Neil Thomas Douglas!

As a photographer, I find it educational to put myself in the “shoes” of the client: to know what it’s like to be in front of the camera. As a client, I love looking back on Neil’s photos to also remember our amazing overall experience.

The brief backstory to our anniversary photo shoot is this: in March of 2018, I organized and photographed a stylized bridal portrait shoot in Glen Coe (click “here” for details). During this shoot, I worked with the infamous make-up artist, Clare Pearson. During this same trip, I attended Photography Farm, a wedding photographer workshop, and met Neil. From my experience in Scotland in March of 2018 - I reached out to Clare again to do my own make-up and for Neil to be our photographer.

Working with Clare again in 2019 was a nice reunion and we linked up again at Glen Coe House - our favorite “get away” spot in the Highlands! Clare did a wonderful job and I felt very relaxed while she did my hair and make-up. I didn’t have a “look” in mind, although I showed Clare the dress and just said, “go for it”. I trusted her artistic eye and knew the make-up and hairdo would look awesome. (If you’re ever debating having professional photos shot, I would highly recommend booking a make-up artist!)

What I love about Neil’s photography is that his style is a bit different from mine, which is exactly what we were looking for with this shoot. Jim and I admired his way of composing images, use of light, and color; his work has a nice sense of drama to it. When we got our pictures back from Neil, we were super stoked - to say the least! To sum it up - Neil was PERFECT!

If you find yourself looking for a photographer, be sure to consider the photographer’s overall brand and style: subject matter, color, hue, saturation, light, composition, focusing, motion, etc. What you will likely see on a professional photographer’s website and on their social media pages will likely be what you receive; meaning - your own images will be created and edited in a similar style to reflect their brand.

As a wedding photographer, I prefer being behind the camera (naturally) and I can be a little awkward in front of the camera. Jim, on the other hand, is very natural in front of the camera. This is probably because I’m always taking his photo! (Ha ha!) Neil made us both feel super comfortable in front of his lens which allowed us to look more “natural” in front of the camera… even when a Stag (Red Deer) walked into our photo!

Neil is well known in the Glen Coe area as a photographer and with this in mind, I knew he would know exactly where to go to “get the shot”. If you’ve been to Glen Coe, you’ll likely recognize a few of the spots: The Three Sisters, The Wee White House, and a few other locations along the side of A82. One of the benefits of working with a local photographer is that s/he already knows where the great spots are for the photos.

On the other hand, working with a destination photographer can also have benefits in terms of locations. I always make time to conduct a few location scouts, meaning - when I’m shooting a new location, I’ll arrive a few days early to check out some nice areas for photos. When destination photographers view a new location, inspiration “takes hold”, which leads to unique images!

We had such an amazing and enjoyable time working with both Clare and Neil! Special thanks to them both for the memories and the amazing photos!

Dress: LuoDanL on Etsy.com | Suit: JCrew

Jacket: Michael Kors | Boots: LL Bean & Hunter

Photographer: Neil Thomas Douglas | Make Up & Hair: Clare Pearson

Happy Couple, Clients, & “Models”: Melanie Fiander & Jim West

Workshop: Photography Farm in Edinburgh, Scotland

Have you ever attended a photography workshop? They can certainly be mind blowing! I ventured over to Edinburgh, Scotland for my very first workshop called "Photography Farm”; also known as MECCA for wedding photographers. The workshop was held at The Biscuit Factory, which is a warehouse downtown. My experience at Photography Farm was not only inspirational and informative, but it was euphoric – on a serious “photo geek” level.  Along with the education came a slew of new friends and collegues - one of whose weddings I’ll be photographing next spring! Below are a few of my photos from the three different shoot sessions that I took with Neil Thomas Douglass, Caroline of The Twins, and Gabe McClintock.

Special thanks to the models, my “shoot session buddies”, the instructors, and Lisa Devlin at Photography Farm for makin’ it happen! Photo Farm will forever have a special place in my heart.

Photo Essay: Tropical Storm Karl - Bermuda

Photo Essay: Tropical Storm Karl - Bermuda

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time for plywood boards, drills, screws, flashlights, batteries, candles, and rum; it’s Atlantic Hurricane Season.  This time frame somewhat coincides with the height of tourist and wedding season. Hurricane season typically starts June 1st and ends November 30th.  Bermuda lucked out back in August when she (yes, the island is female) dodged two bullets with Tropical Storm Fiona and Hurricane Gaston, which has been the strongest hurricane of the year thus far (knock on wood).  For a twenty-one square mile island – that sits 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina – it’s odd to think that most of the storms that make it to our side of the Atlantic usually form off the coast of Africa.

Travel: Peaks Island, Maine

Jim and I had a lovely trip north to the great state of Maine, where I used to live - way back in the day! Departing on Casco Bay Lines from Portland, we made our way over to Peaks Island. We stayed at the sweetest little VRBO and had an opportunity to visit with family and friends.

Day 1: Settle in, sunset and moon rise, and throw a wee gathering.


Day 2 - Walk, Bike, Relax, Repeat

Day 3: Back to the Mainland for a trip to New Gloucester to visit friends!

Day 4: A little more exploring and dinner with my folks - who happen to swing through on their way to Canada!


Another fun filled vacation with my love, Jim ~ traveling together is so much better.

Photo Essay: Hurricane Joaquin - Bermuda

Photo Essay: Hurricane Joaquin - Bermuda

About a week ago, I heard the news that Hurricane Joaquin was sparing the East Coast - I was happy.  When I was told that the outer bands of the hurricane were going towards Bermuda - I was nervous.  When I learned that the hurricane was a Catagory 4 and heading towards Bermuda - I got on a plane.  If you've ever lived on an island, you may be familiar with the "pit" that forms in your stomach as you watch a hurricane unfold.