Moving On… to a New Blog ~

After more than 2.5 years of being “here,” I’ve moved (a lot more quickly than previously expected) to a new blog. This one won’t go away since I will still make reference to past entries. So head to to see the latest.


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*Wedding Wednesday* :: Honeymoon Destinations

I need a vacation.

This being my busiest couple months with weddings and holiday sessions, it’s made me look forward even more to some less-intense workdays…. and daydream of cool vacation destinations (be it for a honeymoon or otherwise). And why not? A handful of my couples have gone to Hawaii, while some stayed in the lower 48.

Others still are venturing outside the U.S. My couple getting married this weekend have a honeymoon planned in Italy. A photographer who recently married is actually blogging during her honeymoon right now in Italy and Croatia. And since I’m drawn to the off-the-beaten-path sites, it’s worth mentioning that a couple whose wedding I shot last year honeymooned in… Peru.

My next big “break” will be around Christmas, during which time I plan to be in Ohio with friends, and then to be followed by a trip overseas later this coming winter. I can’t wait.

But regardless of the out-of-town destination, it’s the people around you who make it all the more worthwhile and memorable.

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*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever…

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Inspired by Sergio… and Facing the Facts

If you know me or have followed this blog the past few months, you will remember Sergio. He is the son of Melissa and Shawn, who passed away in early July after 2 years of battling and defeating cancer. It is difficult to begin to realize what he alone went through physically and emotionally. Sergio was 13 when he died.

In 2009 his cancer returned, and a bone marrow transplant was critical. What are the odds of finding a matching marrow? At one point, it sounded like trying to find a needle in a haystack that might as well have been on Mars. But miraculously, a donor was found – helping extend Sergio’s time here for several more months during which he could be part of his parents’ wedding.

But miraculously doesn’t always happen.

Days after Sergio passed away, I went online to the National Marrow Donor Program. They sent me some paperwork and a kit to collect cell samples from my mouth. That was July. Last week I got the notice I was confirmed healthy to be put on the registry – putting me on a list to see if I match with anyone ever in my life.

It’s easy to say I’d say yes if I was a match, right? I would hate to say ‘no’. But I also know things can change – my health mostly. But I also question if I would have a change of heart. Could I actually do it?

Technically donating bone marrow isn’t as drastic as giving up a kidney… but still. I stumbled upon this New York Times story last year – Read it… it’s sooo. very. insightful…

People like the idea of donating, the idea of helping someone out… the idea, the idea, the idea… But what happens when you’re actually called to serve? Could you say yes? I hope to God I can. Unfortunately, there’s many out there that don’t, can’t and/or are too afraid. To some degree I don’t blame them. But if you’re the one waiting…I can only imagine how much more precious your time left on Earth really is.


*Wedding Wednesday* :: Favor Boxes from Paper Source

I get their catalogs in the mail and absolutely adore their stuff.

Paper Source is a creative person’s dream. It is a company that has so much paper in the form of invitations, stationery and everything in between it’s a bit overwhelming. And that’s without walking into a store (the closest which is in the Chicago ‘burbs).

But it’s the dimensional stuff I’m drawn to, like the favor boxes:

…in square:

takeout boxes:

…and pocketbooks:

They come in more colors than shown here, but it’s worth checking out if you find something that speaks to you.

Happy Browsing.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever…


Today is my day. I was born 30+ years go, and I don’t want to be halfway done or a third of the way.

There’s so much I’ve done in the past birth year, so much I’m thankful for and proud of, and still lots I yearn to do. For starters, (since this post was pre-scheduled) I’m taking today off.

Image by Samantha Bender

No computers. No emails. No phone calls. No shooting. No editing.

Instead on the agenda are sleeping in, a Thai yoga massage, shopping, hanging out with my friend Stephanie, dinner with Scott. A perfect carefree day to celebrate the anniversary of my entrance in the world, and be thankful for my past year gone by.

I can’t wait for what exciting things my new year ahead will bring.


Kilts and Kinship at Nate & Nancy’s Pinicon Ridge Wedding

CENTRAL CITY, Ia. – All I knew about this wedding for a long time was that the guys would be wearing kilts. And indeed they did.

But before I go into that, first some background: Nate and Nancy are both performers with Rage Theatrics, an Iowa City-based theatre company specializing in stage combat and comedy and run by my boyfriend Scott. The troupe members have embraced me since Scott and I started seeing each other nearly 3 years ago. And so, I can proudly say most everyone involved in this wedding – not just the bride and groom – are people I consider friends 🙂

Nate and Nancy met through Rage. Or as Nate describes it: We were brought together by violence. They dated for 5 years, before Nate surprised Nancy with a proposal after she had a rough day at work.

Their wedding this past Saturday at Pinicon Ridge Park outside Central City was a celebration of the couple’s love as much as it was a gathering for the troupe and their friends. When I first met with Nate and Nancy about their wedding – specifically about weather for an outdoor ceremony, he told me that it simply wasn’t going to rain. He sounded as confident as the local weatherman.

I arrived at the park, and Nate greeted me with a hug saying: I’m in denial. (sigh). It was Ok, I thought. We would get through this. Not every wedding miraculously has a sunny day. But spirits were high, especially among the groomsmen who were eager to pose in their traditional Scottish attire – a representation of Nate’s heritage.

The guys were ready to go, and Nate helped his son with his kilt.

Nancy was in a nearby cabin getting ready, as her mom saw her in her dress for the first time.

The couple then decided on a First Look in the deck of the girls’ cabin.

Nate was smitten.

… and then checked out the pretty hair pieces in Nancy’s hair.

The two then drove across the park to the lodge, where there would have to be some adjustments made to an event very much planned for the outdoors.

The formals took place on the deck outside the lodge, and then tables were quickly moved to accommodate the ceremony. Nate’s son got a special pendant, and the groom broke down while Nancy read her vows.

Both sides recognized their parents before the guests – which I thought was nice considering Nancy’s family traveled from New Jersey for the occasion.

After the receiving line, we did a bridal party photo on the corner of the deck…. while there was no sign of the rain stopping.

On a positive note, the rain meant dinner would be served earlier, and so the newlyweds were toasted by the bridal party and both dads 🙂

…. which made them very cheery with excitement and laughter 🙂

Nate and Nancy’s First Dance…

… before the real dancing began and before we headed back home in the rain.

This wedding was mine and Scott’s first as a couple – even though I was shooting. But it was also the first time we’d spent together in a long time – as crazy as it sounds. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this photo, taken by our friend Emily.

I posted this later than I wanted, but tomorrow’s blog will be a double posting. So much going on!! It’s wonderful, exciting and I hope you come back for more!

Shuva 🙂


Wedding Notes:

Ceremony & Reception: Pinicon Ridge Park, Central City with Chris Cary officiating
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!)
First Dance Song: “Love You ‘Till the End” by Poghes
Catering & Cake: Bread Garden Market, Iowa City
Wedding & Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Invitations & Programs: Zephyr Weddings, Coralville

Kudos for My E-zine!

I got a surprise on Sunday from the company I use to do my e-zines (electronic newsletters), Vertical Response. Every quarter they name the top 500 of their clients based on their e-zine open and click rates. Honestly, I didn’t think making the top 500 was a big deal (I was ranked No. 316), until 1) I realized I previously never made the list and 2) I learned that VR has a client list of … 85,000.

Huh… which if you do the math puts me a category of less than 1 percent who are named on this list.

I’ve been doing my e-zine for the past 2.5 years – since I started my business – and it’s gone through many stylistic and content-related changes, as well as audiences. Honestly, it’s always a challenge knowing what will generate an readership response, especially for a low-volume business like mine and hopefully making the point that what one photographer does doesn’t mean all photographers do the same thing.

People who are interested in signing up for the e-zine list can go to my Website and sign up on the Vertical Response box.

Thanks, and have a beautiful day!

Shuva 🙂

Cosmetic Changes

I get into these moments of comparison. And I know I shouldn’t and I know it’s bad for my soul. But sometimes I can’t help it. I find other blogs (usually other photographers) and start going obsessing to the point I forget everything else – like editing – and start making changes and previewing those changes and questioning ‘Is this really me?‘ Finally, after a lot of trial and error and obsessing – because if I didn’t do it then I’d regret it – I finally came to really liking what I came up with.

A new blog design.

It’s simple and clean.

… with a new set of headings:

  • VISIT WEBSITE (A direct link to Accent Photographics)
  • WEDDING TIPS (All the *Wedding Wednesday* entries)
  • MAGAZINE PHOTOS -THE IOWAN (My assignments from The Iowan magazine, which there will be more of next year)
  • GUEST POSTS – MCP ACTIONS BLOG (A photo-education site which is a great tool for new shooters as well as people who have been in the industry for awhile)
  • EARLY WORK (A direct link into my first personal photo Website)
  • HOW I STARTED (which talks about how I got into this crazy, fun, creative and inspiring line of wonderfulness!)

Is it perfect? No. But it’s perfect enough for now. Perfect enough not to spend an arm and a leg on a custom blog design (which I do think about from time to time ’cause I’m a blog-aholic). And I can’t complain… because this blog – which has gone through it’s share of growth and changes with me – has been good to me for more than 2.5 years. And I’m not about to replace it anytime soon (or at least as of this writing;-).



Think Big. What Would You Attempt if Knew You Would Succeed?

IOWA CITY, Ia. – It’s a question Jen Lansink of “What Would You Attempt?” has been asking for a long time and challenging many others to ask. And why not? It’s an important one I don’t think we always…allow ourselves to ask… because we’re too afraid – of people who tell us it won’t work, question if it’s practical/logical, of not having enough money and resources to make it happen … and so we don’t even attempt.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Discovery Workshop for Women that Jen held in Iowa City. It was a series of writing exercises, thinking, breathing, meditation, analysis, clarity, discussion, wonder, curiosity, color and… some interesting ideas that came to mind.

Jen is an International Inspirator, and “What Would You Attempt?” is an inspirational organization focused on living positive lives in positive times and finding the greatness in the world and within ourselves (Check out the Facebook page). If that sounds a bit “out there”, consider her work is helping people dare to think they can change, attempt, whatever… no different (in concept) than what Oprah or any of the other popular inspirational gurus out there do – and no less important.

I’ve been to a number of photography and/or business-related workshops and conferences, and it’s clear to me what I take away immediately after. But I think individuals have different experiences with Jen’s workshops. Even if you think you’re already inspired and have everything in life going for you, there’s always something more to learn – some clarity, perspective, ideas… Sometimes the “ah-ha” moment comes right there and then. Sometimes it’s a day or two later, and sometimes it hits you like a brick wall when opening your closet and seeing how much red you actually have in your wardrobe. (Yes, Jen — that is me!)

There is a wonderful level of confidence – without question – with everything Jen projects about herself. And she wants you to do the same. What do you want to attempt? What are you going to do? Run a marathon? Cure cancer? Start a nonprofit? Write an Oscar-winning screenplay? Own a house in France? Whatever it is, say it out loud. Put it in writing. That’s a very basic starting point.

… and then, without apologies, start attempting…



Do You Skype?

I do… I first learned of Skype about 5 years ago, but can’t recall what provoked me to try it in the first place. Yet I remember just relishing in the sheer amazement of actually speaking to a friend in Amsterdam through a set of headphones connected to my laptop in Iowa, and hearing him so clearly it was as if we were in the same room instead of thousands of miles away.  … at NO COST to either of us.

Since then, I started using the video chat component of Skype – and now require any prospective, long-distance clients who cannot meet me in person to do so through this program.

It’s amazing how simple it is to use this technology to communicate.

But like anything you haven’t tried, it can be intimidating at first . However, some things – like Skype – I feel are worth putting a half-hour of time in to learn.

For starters, it is FREE to use – as long as the person you are communicating with also has Skype. The program is free to download. Then it’s just a matter of setting up an account and clicking the green phone icon to call and talk to people.

As a photographer, I love using the video feature so people can see me and I can see them. Face it, even through a computer it is a lot more comforting to see someone as you speak with them. You definitely get a better feel for the personality behind the voice.

If it sounds too good to be true, well.. the only negative thing I can say about Skype is I’ve had only a very few incidents of dropped calls. But getting back to the person only took seconds.

So if you haven’t already, I encourage you to embrace Skype. And freely talk to your long-distance friends and family without worries about burning minutes on a phone, or paying a cent for that matter. You can’t ask for better than that.

Happy Friday!


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