Boudoir Means Beautiful

By Julie Roberts at Julie Roberts Photography

Whenever I bring up the idea of boudoir photography I get bombarded with comments from women who love the idea of a session but aren’t happy enough with their bodies to brave being in front of a camera with practically nothing on. As if “happy enough with our bodies” is something we will ever achieve. As if we need any more reminders of the body image issues that plague our culture.

I once photographed a tribe of amazing people in a primitive township in south Africa. They lived in huts with no floors, no running water … and no mirrors. Which meant they had never really seen themselves and they also had no ridiculous self hatred based on what they did/didn’t/should/shouldn’t look like. One lady had only a few teeth and wild, frizzy gray hair. She was so exciting to look at and so fun to photograph.  When I showed her the picture I had taken of her on the back on my camera she went wild with laughter. I didn’t speak Zulu and they didn’t speak English, but I still understood their incredible joy at seeing themselves for the first time.

Africa

It changed me forever.  These women certainly wouldn’t meet our ridiculous standards of beauty … but they were some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. And they taught me a lesson in self worth that I will never forget.  Since that experience, the importance of photographing people has held a different place in my heart. A place where I realize that ALL people are beautiful. Cultural standards are meaningless here. When I have the opportunity to photograph someone, I have a chance to change how they view themselves. I’m not talking about photoshop. I am talking about seeing people as they are and finding their encompassing true, beautiful self. I have learned to find the beauty in people and show them what they look like through my eyes.

I could talk about flattering poses, angles, and light…but the most flattering thing I could ever do for someone in front of my camera is to let them see their own beauty and believe in it.  WE have to learn to believe in our beauty. We are so busy comparing ourselves to others, dwelling on the flaws, and obsessing over what we wish we looked like.  Instead of comparing ourselves and judging others, we need to offer up a little acceptance and a lot of love – for others and ourselves. We need to learn how to see our unique beauty and find joy in who we ARE. God made us…these perfectly imperfect people with silly smiles, belly rolls, crazy hair, big teeth, short legs…it’s all beautiful!

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I feel like it’s important for me to share this and hope that I can influence at least one woman to look at herself in the mirror today and smile back. See a freckle and say “cute!” or spend a moment admiring your shape or skip the admiration and go on to sheer awe at what your amazing body has accomplished. Maybe you have climbed a mountain, run a marathon, or survived an illness. My body has grown and birthed two beautiful babies, and I am so proud of that.

I think maybe believing in our own beauty begins with simply seeing it. We see ourselves and then instead of judgment and criticism, we learn to say “okay” and maybe even “pretty”. And then we begin to feel a little more comfortable in our own skin.

When I began doing boudoir photography I never realized what a platform it would be for making this kind of change in the lives of women. The reactions surprised me as much as it did the ladies I photographed. Mostly I get comments like “I had no idea I could look like that!” And it’s not a lie! It’s just a matter of getting out from behind your own veil of self doubt and seeing some truth from someone else’s perspective.  Who knew boudoir photography could be a ministry in self worth?  It surprisingly has such a positive, powerful, and encouraging effect on everyone I’ve worked with.  Don’t we all deserve a boost in the self worth department?

And yeah … there will be gorgeous photos in the end that you might want to share with someone special.  Nothing is more exciting than delivering your “sexy book” to your husband-to-be as a major surprise wedding day gift. But what’s even better is that before you surprise him with the photos, you’ll be noticeably more confident and self assured.  And he won’t be able to figure it out what is so different but he will definitely like it!

Essentially the boudoir session itself is really all about being honest, being silly, and having a whole lot of fun in a situation that might seem intimidating at first.  It’s about going beyond your fears and insecurities and grasping onto a new way of thinking about yourself.  Give yourself permission to feel beautiful and sexy…you absolutely deserve it!  Whether you decide to do a boudoir session or not, I hope reading this has been inspiring.  And if you are interested in doing a boudoir session…I would love to have the honor!

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Planning an Indian Wedding: Castleton Goes International

You haven’t heard? Castleton Farms is headed to India! As you read this, our Executive Director, Darla Walker, is jet-setting across the world with our bride Heena and photographer Ben Finch to prep for the big day. While over there, Darla and Heena will shop for the wedding sarees, jewelry, invitations and more, and back home, we’re going to be documenting every bit of it. While they’re all en route, we wanted to introduce Heena + Ronak to you all!

International Indian wedding planning

Indian wedding photography_Bill Waldorf

 

their storyThe two met at a graduation party at the end of their Junior year in college, and Heena claims she knew there was something special about him when she saw him walk through the door (swoon!). Little did they know, at that moment, where life would bring them! A few days after, Heena was leaving Atlanta for the summer so Ronak asked her to grab coffee at the ever-so-eclectic Java Monkey, and the rest is history. Heena commented, “It’s a good thing that I liked him enough to go on a date with him because I’m not the biggest fan of coffee!”

 

Indian wedding engagement_Ben Finch Photo

 

how he askedOne of the couple’s favorite places is Savannah, Georgia. The fact that 3 out of 6 of their anniversaries have been spent in the charming, historic town made it the perfect proposal location. Ronak had mapped out every detail of the day, which would end with him on one knee, at their favorite place in Savannah–the fountain in the middle of Forsyth Park, asking the girl he adores to spend forever with him. But life happens, and the day didn’t go as Ronak had planned. Every time he thought about proposing throughout the day, something went wrong. The day ended back at the town home where they were staying, and Ronak decided then that the time was right. He asked. Heena was taken by surprise. She said yes, of course, and here we are today!

 

Indian wedding engagement_Ben Finch Photo

castleton brideHeena had previously been to an Indian wedding at Castleton and fell in love with our property. When the time rolled around for her to choose a wedding venue, she considered Castleton because of the outdoor venue options. In India, over 90% of couples get married outside. While there are endless outdoor venues to choose from in America, the couple had difficulty finding an outdoor venue that could accommodate such a large guest count. Indian families consider everyone they meet part of their family, which explains their 500+ person guest counts. Heena + Ronak also mentioned choosing Castleton because of Darla and the built-in event planning that comes with every experience. Unlike American weddings, Indian weddings consist of multiple events occurring over a 3-day time period (at least!), so having an event planner to keep track of each detail and hold people accountable was a huge deal breaker for these two.


All of that being said, we are SO excited to have the opportunity to experience India with Heena, Ronak, Ben, and the whole family. Join us on this adventure and find some entertainment in our daily Facebook vlogs, Instagram inspiration photos, blog posts describing the details and importance of planning an Indian wedding, and one of our favorite parts – Pappu’s passage! That’s right. The little friend you see below is joining our journey. We’ll be posting photos of Pappu wherever we go, and it’s up to YOU to guess where he is. Darla will be bringing back some fun souvenirs for each winner! Be sure to follow us with the hashtags #PappusPassage, #WhereInTheWorldIsPappu and #IndiaExperiencesCastleton.

authentic patchwork Indian elephant

The Thankful Heart of a Wedding Photographer

By a favorite wedding photographer of ours, Katherine Birkbeck

This morning I got an email from one of my sweet brides (who is getting married on Saturday) telling me that her grandmother just broke a few ribs and might have pneumonia. But she’s still coming. That sat with me for a few minutes and it even put a few tears in my eyes when I thought about how important it must be to this grandma to be at her granddaughter’s wedding. It also made me incredibly thankful that I get to photograph that relationship and all the love that comes with it.

Every year at Thanksgiving I give thanks for my family and friends, the health I take for granted, the roof over my head and yes, that I am a wedding photographer. It is not at all lost on me that at every perfect day, there is this incredible burst of love in hugs and stolen glances, toasts and father daughter dances, and laughter among your best of friends. And I’m just overwhelmed with thankfulness that I get to hand over these memories in the form of photos.

 

Mother and bride hugging and smilingGroom sees bride for first time during wedding ceremonyBride hugging bridesmaids after ceremonyBride and groom crying during wedding toasts Father daughter wedding dance

 

This year at Castleton Farms I saw a bride get into her wedding dress with her best friend and her sister, and I photographed the three of them laugh uncontrollably as they tried to stretch her very tight dress out enough for her to be able to sit down. I also watched the rain come pouring down right at ceremony time but then the most gorgeous double rainbow appeared. And I even snapped away as a stink bug flew into a gorgeous bride’s hair in the middle of the wedding ceremony, because she laughed effortlessly as soon as it was gone. It was all magic!

 

Bride and bridesmaids getting readyDouble rainbow over rustic barn wedding venueGroom helping bride with her hair

 

At the end of the day, your photographs are the only thing you will have left of your wedding. So I’m thankful I get to capture your parents who will hold hands and cry as they give their little girl away. I’m thankful I get to capture your sister who is dancing with the man she will marry in a few years. I’m thankful I get to capture your first kiss as a married couple and your friends who will tackle you with hugs right after the ceremony. I’m thankful I get to capture the hugs your grandparents will give you so you can look back and remember them when they are no longer with us to do so. And I’m so thankful I get to capture the love that started your new family.

 

Bride and groom first wedding dance

 

Sometimes, in the middle of a perfect day, life happens. Grandmas get broken ribs and stink bugs fly in your hair.  And that’s beautiful too. They are the moments worth remembering. They are the moments to be thankful for.

So Happy Thanksgiving to all the newlyweds and all the brides and grooms to come. May you spend this holiday surrounded by people you love!

“There is nothing frivolous about celebrating weddings and focusing on marriage.  Inherent in that passion for weddings comes a concern for our families, the world around us, and the sustainability of our habits.”  – Southern Weddings

| Photos by Katherine Birkbeck Photography |

Choosing Castleton Farms: Our Exclusive Wedding Vendors

Wedding vendors portfolio and work

As we continue our countdown, we must ask, have you ever fallen in love?  If you are still crushing on our venue, but not actually made the commitment yet, maybe #7 will change your mind – our amazingly talented wedding vendors! At Castleton Farms, we have worked with many professionals and have found that our vendors are the best-of-the-best in the industry!  They have each won various awards in their chosen fields and are completely competent to exceed your expectations. Could you imagine your wedding without food, pictures, makeup, linens, tables and chairs or wedding décor?  What about a cake, drinks, music, videos, lights or flowers? Without those items, it doesn’t sound like a dream wedding, does it? Your vendors are such an intricate part of this day. They are like the branches on the tree that you have planted. They take your inspiration and put it into action by using your thoughts, your ideas and your dreams. No one should share their dream wedding with just anyone–you must use vendors that are foolproof. That’s why Castleton has completed all the research for you and chosen some of the best-of-the-best in the industry.  Allow us to introduce you to our Castleton vendors. I promise you can’t help but fall in love with these professionals!

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Bangs and Blush

All Occasions Party Rentals

All Occasion Catering

Corks Wine & Spirits

Samuel Franklin Flowers

Unique Settings and Mismatched China Rentals

Ben Finch Photography

Bill Waldorf Photography

Cody Myers Photography

Katherine Birkbeck Photography

Bryan Allen Photography

Jennie Andrews Photography

Tracie Ancelet Photography

Julie Roberts Photography

Milestone Pictures

Casey & Kristin

Alex Widmer Video

Special Notes

Ogle Entertainment

The Happy Envelope