Vendor Spotlight Edition |Lovewell Celebration Design

Welcome to my first Vendor Spotlight post!  From time to time I’ll be spotlighting various wedding vendors in the CNY area in order to help you as you plan your wedding!  Today, I’m excited to spotlight Kate Brown of Lovewell Celebration Designs!

Lovewell Design (9)

I met Kate at A Perfect Bridal Show at the OnCenter just a booth down from mine this past January.  I immediately noticed her playful curly hair and quick smile and decided go over and say hi.  After chatting with her and her husband Ty for just a few minutes I knew we’d have to set up a coffee date.  A few days later, I sat across from her with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in my hands and began to learn about all about Lovewell Celebration Design.

With a background in acting and dancing, it is not hard to see Kate’s innate creativity.  Couple that with her business and project management experience, detailed organization and thorough communication skills, you have one brilliant combination for a wedding planner/designer right in front of you!

Lovewell Design (1)       Lovewell Design (6)

hayloft on the arch wedding by H Hawkins Photography

Lovewell Design (7)Primarily, Kate offers three types of services: Consultation, Design and Planning.  On the consultation side of things, if you’re a couple that needs a jump start on their wedding planning or has hit a road block in the process, and you’re in need of someone to point you in the right direction, you can meet with Kate for a session and she’ll offer you help on whatever you need!  Now, have you ever walked into a wedding, a hotel or even your favorite coffee shop and were just in awe of the atmosphere and design of the space?  Most of us aren’t professional designers or interior decorators but with your wedding being a once in a lifetime event, why not hire a professional to customize a design specific to you, your personality and your style?!  This is exactly what Kate does for the design aspect of Lovewell.  Whether you want your wedding themed in a rustic, nautical, vineyard or modernly simple way, the sky’s the limit for Kate.

Lovewell Design (2)

For couples that just can’t get enough of Lovewell, Kate offers Planning Packages that pull together all five elements: Consultation, Design, Planning, Coordination and Execution.  Imagine being able to take the load of stress and responsibility of planning a wedding off your shoulders and completely hand it to a creative professional that you can trust.  After planning my whole wedding, even with great support from my friends and family, it was still so much more work than I ever dreamed.  Having someone handle that for me would be worth their weight in gold.

Please, please check out for much more amazing content on these packages, Kate’s story and her portfolio!
Boldt Castle Wedding Photo

Lovewell Design (5)The other aspect of Kate’s wedding services is a branch called EngagedWell.  This is something that Kate is pioneering in the industry, something completely new but totally brilliant and 110% needed for today’s couples (in my little opinion).   At least in my experience, I’ve found that the day a couple gets engaged, most of their time, energy and conversation from that time forward becomes focused on the wedding planning.  Wedding days are amazing and do require a lot of time however, it really is only one day as compared to the rest of your married life together.  Kate’s idea of EngagedWell takes the concept of both bride and groom planning their wedding together and working through many things that will prepare and equip them with great skills with which to enter their marriage.

Lovewell Design (4)

As I chatted with Kate, she had mentioned that planning a wedding almost always includes setting a list of priorities, making big decisions, planning and working with large amounts of money and working through family dynamics.  Traditionally, often it’s the bride and sometimes her mom and friends that do the majority of the planning where the groom is often either left out or may not want to be involved.  But in looking at this list of setting priorities, making decisions, and dealing with money and family dynamics, all these things will most definitely crop up during a marriage.  So if a couple takes the time to work through these areas while planning their wedding, this is bound to set them up well for the highs as well as the lows in marriage.

EngagedwellSo then, what is Engagedwell you ask?  It is a workbook and a workshop. The workshop is a daylong event where you work through the major pieces of the workbook, enjoy delicious food and gather more helpful info from a professional panel during a Q&A session to close out the day.  Starting here will definitely get you off on the right foot as you go forward in your wedding (and marriage!) planning.  As of right now there are two different workshops you can attend. They are:

Saturday, March 14th

 The Vineyard Church

312 Lake Road, Syracuse NY, 13209

Christian-Faith Based Application


Saturday, April 18th

The Lodge at Welch Allyn

4355 State Street Rd

Skaneateles, NY 13152


Lovewell Design (3)In fact, there is a discount rate offered for the workshop on March 14th so check out this link: for info on that particular workshop!

Check out more information for the other EngagedWell Workshop at

I hope that this post has piqued your interest in Lovewell and Engagedwell whether you have already decided you want to hire a Wedding Designer or had never thought about it before, check her out.  You can’t help but love her and the amazing work she does!

For more wedding planning tips, jump on over to my website and check out my Wedding Resources page here!:

syracuse wedding pictures winter

*Please note that any photos in this post that do not have the H Hawkins Photography logo on it is not work of HHP but of other photographers.


Taylor & Elizabeth |Syracuse Engagement Photos

Allow me to introduce you to Taylor & Elizabeth… the sweetest, most genuine couple you’ll ever meet.

Winter Engagement Photos CNY

These two met in preschool and she remembers loving her bright red rain coat as a little girl and wearing it often to school.  Fast forward a number of years to the present where the three of us sit having coffee and chatting about wedding pictures for their Ventosa Vineyard ceremony later this year in Geneva, NY!  Not only did we talk about wedding pictures, but we also discussed that they’d like to go for a cozy wintery look for their engagement photos.  As we also discussed outfit options for their session, the pieces came together in my head when Beth told me she had chosen to wear her bright red pea coat that reminded her of the coat she used to wear when she played with Taylor so long ago in preschool.

You won’t be able to help but smile as you see just how adorable these two are together!  Once you’re done here on this blog post, jump on over to my website at and check out more of my work!

Auburn Engagement Photos

We started our session in Auburn, NY at a spot that Beth suggested.  It was a place I hadn’t ever thought to shoot at, but I’m super glad she did because we came up with some of the most creative shots!

Engagement Photos Winter Auburn NY


My favorite is to just get these couples in motion and interacting and let the magic happen on its own!  We had so much fun!

Ventosa Vineyard Engagement Photos

Once we had finished shooting in that one spot, we headed over to Hoopes Park on the other side of Auburn NY.  We had a blast using the little white building there, the stairs and even the stone bridge over the creek.  Such a great spot for engagement photos or wedding pictures!

Hoopes Park Pond Auburn NY Engagement Photos

Syracuse NY Engagement Photos

I love every one of these photos as they show so much of Taylor and Elizabeth’s personality but I think this one might be my very favorite!

Hoopes Park Auburn NY Engagement Photos

To get more creative ideas for your engagement photos, check out H .Hawkins Photography and click on the Portfolio tab!

Wolf Oak Acres | A Rustic Bridal Expo

 What could be more fun for a country girl who happens to run her own wedding photography business in CNY, than to participate in a Bridal Expo at the most GORGEOUS country venue she’s ever seen.  Yup!… that country girl would be me and that rustic, yet elegant wedding venue would be none other but Wolf Oak Acres in Oneida, NY.

Central NY Bridal Expo

Not gonna lie… I was pretty excited.

I had gathered everything I needed a week ahead of time but set about putting the final touches on my display and creating a mock set up the night before.

Wolf Oak Acres Wedding Expo                                                     

                 H Hawkins Photography Bridal Show Display


The morning of, my super amazing second photographer (who is my husband!) loaded everything into the car.  So glad it all actually fit!

Mad packing skills right there!

Mad packing skills right there!

I punched 6470 Creek Rd, Oneida, NY 13421 into my GPS and off we went.  As we arrived that morning, I was REALLY  impressed for my first glance around the property.  Now before I go any further, you must know that I was neither asked nor paid by Katrina at Wolf Oak Acres to show you all these… I am just super impressed myself and had to share!  If you’re a country girl and you’ve always dreamed of having your wedding ceremony and reception at a barn you MUST at least visit Wolf Oak Acres!!!  Check them out at!

Wolf Oak Acres Wedding Venue

The first thing you actually see when you pull in is this adorable covered bridge, with whispy white curtains that float about and rustic lanterns that swing from the ceiling!

                                                                           Wolf Oak Acres Covered Bridge 

Wolf Oak Acres Rustic Lanterns

And THEN you come to the barn.  This is no ordinary barn.  While all you can see in this photo is the front side of the barn, there is an additional backside and deck that wraps half way around the building.  There are two levels inside that include a kitchen, two staircases, an elevator, four bathrooms and rooms for both the bride and the groom to get ready in.  

Wolf Oak Acres Barn

The barn!


Rustic Wooden Pallet Wedding Decorations

The details are so perfect for the setting!


Ok, now check out the inside!

Rustic Chandelier

Inside top level

Wedding Fireplace Rustic

A ceremony can be held inside at the fireplace if you wish (fireplace to be finished soon!)

Bride's prep room

Changing area in the Bride’s room


Bride's Vanity

Bride’s Vanity

Groom's Prep Room

Groom’s Room


Anyways, soon Andrew and I had my display set up and then we were ready to mingle and meet that host of brides, grooms and families that came out that day!

                             H Hawkins Photography Bridal Show set up

Wedding Chalkboard                                                                                                            Wedding Photos Wall Art                                         wedding ceremony space inside barn


Have I ever told you how much I love meeting people and chatting with them about their weddings?  Its glorious!… I just love weddings!!!

Bridal Show Meeting groom

Wedding expo meeting bride

wedding cake

Uh… I may have taken a coffee break and had a cupcake sample! Sshhh!


After the show was over, I was able to explore the property a bit more!  While I wasn’t able to get to the ceremony site by the creek, I was able to check out their site by the pond!  This particular setup with all the decorations and flowers were done by Balloons and Blossoms (!  I asked Andrew if we could get married again here… but I’m afraid the answer was the same as usual… “But Sunshine, we’re already married!”  *Sigh*… maybe next time!

Pond wedding ceremony

outdoors rustic wedding ceremony

mason jars wedding flowers


In the end, not only was it a gorgeous day at this rustic, chic venue but it was also successful for H. Hawkins Photography as I booked more weddings than I can count on one hand that day!  I just love my job!  Much thanks goes to Katrina and her husband at Wolf Oak Acres for putting it on, to all the other vendors who showed up and put lots of work into the day, and to all the brides I met and those who booked with me!  If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, or even a senior or family portrait photographer, I’d love to hear from you!  Shoot an email to, check out more of my work at or “like” my Facebook page at!  Also if you enjoyed this blog, click the follow button on the bottom right hand corner!  

Keep your eyes open in the near future for another post featuring a bridal portrait session at Wolf Oak Acres!

6 Reasons Your Photographer Doesn’t Give all the RAW Photos

Have you ever had pictures taken by a professional photographer for a wedding or senior portrait and wondered why you didn’t get all of the photos they took?  Maybe you wanted to know what happened to THAT shot of you and your sister leaning against the limo.  I haven’t always been a pro photographer and WAS that bride that wondered where one particular shot went.  Years down the road, I’ve realized that the reason I didn’t get that shot was probably for one of these six reasons.

Me the Photographer

1. Someone looked like a zombie with their eyes half closed

We’ve all seen those shots, right?  Where the bride is blinking or the groom’s eyes are half closed and he looks… like one of the walking dead?  Or Dad sneezes just as you had gotten everyone situated just right and looking at the camera.  Not a great photo for your family portrait collection.  Either way… no one is going to like the picture.

Senior Photo Session

2. The Shot Wasn’t Flattering to You

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been asked, “Can you Photoshop 30 pounds off me?” or  “Can you make me look buff?”  Honest to goodness, there are some tricks that we photographers use to really flatter you and make you look awesome.  But occasionally we’ll try a pose or catch a shot that… just isn’t flattering to you.  Not that it’s your fault, it’s just that we, as the photographer tried a pose, shot at a certain angle or with a certain lens that just didn’t work the way we hoped it would.  And I can guarantee you that if you saw the shot, you wouldn’t want to keep it either.

Hilton Garden Inn East Syracuse

3. You Don’t Need (or WANT) 10 Images of the Exact Same Scene

Because of reasons mentioned above such as someone in your bridal party blinking, there is a reason why we take so many shots of the same scene.  ESPECIALLY when working with larger groups of people, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time and NOT blink.  So I call out, “Grandma!… over here!  Look right here at the camera!” Then once Grandma is looking, 2 year old Tommy puts has his hands over mom’s face and then I loose Dad and… oh you get the idea.  That is why I take so many duplicates of the same scene.  You seriously don’t want them all. Liverpool Family Photos

4. You Don’t Want to Sort Through Hundreds of Images

Have you ever been on a really epic vacation and went snap happy with your camera for a week, only to get home and groan thinking about how many photos you have to sort through now?  Did you ever actually get through them all? Think about it, you’ve not only hired your photographer to show up on your wedding day and capture pictures for 8 hours but also to sort through them all, find the good ones and weed out the bad. If you had to sort through them all, you’d get to #53 of 1,162 and you’d be SO over it… I speak from experience. Trust us as trained professionals to pick out the shots that have the right lighting, the best background, the proper exposure, the perfect pose, and the genuine emotion.  Hopefully you’ve hired your photographer because you love their work and you trust them to find you the best pictures.  If you are worried they won’t be able to do this for you, find a photographer that you are comfortable with.  

Wedding at Arrowhead Lodge

5. RAW Files are Not Practically Usable

Professional photographers shoot their photos in what’s called RAW format as opposed to JPG format.  The reason for this is that the RAW format captures and retains ALL of the information from the shot as opposed to again, a JPG that condenses the information way down.  This makes these files huge in size compared to what you’d normally find with a JPG.  Not only are RAW files huge, but standard photo programs can’t even open this file format.  Unless you download specific photo viewing programs or purchase expensive software such as Lightroom or Photoshop, you’re not even going to be able to open them.  And to convert all the files from RAW to JPG would be like renaming each Word file from a .doc to a .docx… it’s rather time consuming.  And why don’t we release unedited photos… keep on a’readin’!

Wedding Anniversary Photo

6. Your Hired a Professional Photographer to Make You Professional Looking Images

So then why would you want all the photos that don’t look professional?   If you wanted all the photos of your kids, then ask your cousin to come over and bring her DSLR camera.  She’ll give you all the pictures.   You’ve seen the blooper reels at the end of a movie or a TV show right?  Just like movie makers, photographers have their own set of bloopers… except they’re usually not as entertaining. And we’re not gonna lie… these photos are our professions, our livelihoods, our art and our reputation.  We want to make beautiful art for you and certainly don’t want to release unedited or bad photos that are tied to our name that could potentially hurt our business and our reputation.  I think if you were in our shoes, you’d do the same thing.Onondaga Creekwalk

It’s not that your photographer is trying to be difficult or nasty, we have pretty good reasons why we do what we do. I’m hoping this will spark some discussion, so leave your comments below!  When you’re done with that, hit the “Follow” button on the bottom right hand side of the screen and check out my work at!

H. Hawkins Photography is a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Syracuse, NY who specializes in capturing candid images of genuine personalities and authentic relationships.

A Memorial Day Roundup

A 60th wedding anniversary + Memorial Day Weekend = a family that has not been together in one place in a very long time.  I really had a blast with this whole family as they gathered to celebrate their parent’s 60th wedding anniversary.  One family unit at a time, I got to meet all the generations involved in this roundup of sorts, from grandpa in his suspenders to the toddler hamming it up in front of the camera.  I enjoyed every minute of it as I hope you will enjoy every photo!  Feel free to send this post to your family who hasn’t had a chance to see it yet, follow this blog or jump on over to my website at for more samples of my work!









A Family That Plays Together…

If you’ve ever spent 5 minutes with the LeClair family, you know how much stinkin’ fun they are.  And if you’ve never met them… meet them here and now.  Chances are good that you’ll get a glimpse of their personalities!  Jump on over to my wesbite if you’d like at and make sure to leave them some love in the comments section below!


















Like I said… stinkin’ fun!