Light & Dark


Healing comes with time. It’s true. Patience with yourself and the process is key to minimizing further pain and damage. That is a tortuous sentiment for a faced-paced woman like me. No human likes discomfort or waiting. Everyone wants to be healed immediately whenever sickness, pain or hardship strikes. But when we look back, we can see why it’s good to be patient and how much healing was needed and has come from time and the process. Truthfully, the steps that it took to heal would have been made the healing process more excruciating. Be patient with yourself.


I’m thankful to have my friend Megan to document it each year. She shot my resurrection photos when I was in San Diego last summer, and shot some photos that I call “Light and dark” this spring.


To me, these photos feel very honest of who I am. I’m a woman that seeks truth and the light, but I’m flawed and imperfect. I have a shadow that goes with me everywhere I go even though I stand in the light.


I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.


Styling Food for Pinterest - Do's and Don'ts


Just because a picture is super successful on Instagram doesn't mean it will be engaging on Pinterest, and just because a picture is really pretty doesn't mean that it will be clicked on. When creating content for the web you always have to keep in mind a couple of things: 1) Where is this content going to live? 2) Will people click on the image? We ultimately want to capture viewers so that our voices can be heard above the noise, but too often I see people creating pretty things thinking that's enough to engage views. The reality is there's a lot of pretty out there to compete with, and not all of it gets the views it may deserve.

I think many people have the taste level and eye to style a pretty photo, but knowing what's pretty and what drives traffic are two different things. I see many photos on Pinterest that are drop dead gorgeous, but will I repin all of them? No. And will I click to view the photo on a blog? An even slimmer chance, unfortunately. So, what makes an image on Pinterest engaging and/or clickable? That's the big question! In order to answer this big question we need to break things down by subject. Let's start with food. (I'll tackle fashion next!)

Pinterest Food Styling Comparison
Pinterest Food Styling Comparison

I did a little experiment for you guys and styled the same latte recipe three different ways. I kept certain elements the same, however.

Controls: Latte recipe Light Location Pinned to the same board

Variables: Cups Placement Text placement Font Pin description

Can you guess which photo performed the best? The answer surprised me at first, but it makes sense as to why. Latte A received the least amount of traffic with only 39,000+ impressions and only 127 clicks. Latte B received 58,000+ impressions with 197 clicks, and lastly, Latte C (the winner) received 63,000+ impressions with 213 clicks.

Why is this the case? When styling food people want to be up close and personal with the subject. Being able to see the drink through the glass matters. Photo C also has the best view of the donut even though that is not the star of the show. The donut adds an additional enticing factor for sure, so think about what complementary foods or ingredients can be added to your shots. Also, the text on this pin is the most readable, and I have the color black to thank for that.

Are all of these photos pretty? Yes, you an even view more photos from this post here to see what I mean. Readable text and being SUPER close to the subject your shooting so you can almost taste the latte matters as much as good light and photography.

For more Pinterest advice, check out these posts:

Under the Radar Pinners

How to Use Group Boards Effectively

How to Brand Your Business on Pinterest

How to Look Great in Photo When You're Not a Model


Living in a world with Instagram, Facebook profile pictures and selfie sticks, learning how to take a great photo has become a must or else you will find yourself untagging yourself in photos a lot. Let's be real though...If you're reading this post there's a .01% chance you're a model, so the likelihood of you knowing how to take a great photo other than smiling is slim. I'm here to help! As a fashion stylist I have stood behind the lens watching models, and I've learned some tips along the way. This has come in handy too as I've started to do a lot more style posts of my own. Here are my five biggest tips when standing in front of the camera:


1. Never stand still for longer than a second. Constantly moving your body is what keeps you from looking like a statue. Even if it's simply tilting your head left to right slightly or shifting your weight from one leg to another, always moving keeps you looking fresh and authentic.

2. Say "happy" instead of "cheese." I have a tendency to over smile and show too much of my teeth in photos. It can give the idea that I'm being fake with my emotion. Saying "happy" allows you to smile with more control and also separates your top and bottom teeth.

3. Lean slightly forward. This helps your body look more relaxed and even disguise your mid-section a bit. If that's your problem area then you'll find this very helpful. Sometimes when we stand up very tall and straight we can, again, look like a frozen statue. The whole goal is to look natural.

4. Do something with your hands. Whether it's putting your arm around someone, tucking your hair slightly behind your ears, or grasping a coffee cup; giving your hands something to do prevents them from looking awkward as if you have two claws or always putting one hand on your hip like you're at prom.

5. Think happy thoughts. You've heard the phrase "smize" from Tyra Banks, but more than smiling with your eyes think thoughts that make you express true joy and happiness. It will shine through your eyes, as well as your entire body.

Photos by Sarah Deragon 

A Photographer's Perspective On Using A Stylist

Gina Meola is mentioned a lot on this blog because we work together often, and have become good friends because of it. I asked her if she would be interested in contributing something about fashion photography to the blog since she's a photographer, and instead she wanted to share how working with a fashion stylist has helped set her business apart. =) Now, can you see why I love her?! Enjoy!

--- For us, offering personal styling services to all our clients is SUCH a bonus! When a couple hires us, they believe in our values, they care about an amazing experience, and they trust us to capture them BEAUTIFULLY! Alex of AVE STYLES has helped solidify all those areas!

For most couples, engagement photos are the first time they are being professionally photographed together. It can feel unfamiliar, a little intimidating, or even awkward without the right guidance. So why not let an expert in fashion help put your clients’ minds at ease? In the end, they feel more confident in themselves and are more trusting of YOU.

These are just a few ways having a stylist “on staff” has changed Gina Meola Photography::

  • This is one more way our couples are cared for because we include this service in our collections.
  • Marcus and I spend less time preparing for photo sessions, and more time growing our business!
  • Our couples arrive stress-free to shoots because their ensembles were selected far in advance.
  • Our couples can focus on lovin’ each other instead of worrying about their outfits. This, in turn, helps us create natural, authentic photographs.
  • The overall experience AND image quality are enhanced tremendously!
  • Fully trusting Alex ensures our clients look and feel their very best!

The verdict is out, and having a personal fashion stylist makes the process much more relational, unique, and special! THANK YOU, ALEX!!

All images by Gina Meola Photography and style by AVE Styles.

Behind the Scenes - Bridal Shoot

After almost two months of planning with AMAZING people (Melissa Jill Photography, Outstanding Occasions, Camelback Flower Shop, The W Scottsdale, Mariee Gallery, Saks Fifth Avenue, Idieh Design, Classic Cakes and Confections and Classic Party Rentals), we finally had our awesome bridal shoot this week More details to come, but for now here are some behind the scenes pics! Oh, and check out the fabulous models from Agency AZ - Tyler Payne and Drue Maggetti. GORGE!