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For our non-photographer friends and followers, we thought we’d offer a little insight into the name, Bliss & Bokeh. As we’ve said, this is “a retreat for women who are passionate about wedding photography and the art of capturing bliss.” Not only will we be soaking up bliss during our 4 days in beautiful downtown Charleston, but we’ll also be studying the art and business of capturing bliss.

Then there’s the term bokeh. With a variety of pronunciations, those of us in the south tend to say, bo-kuh (or as you would say boca). Bokeh refers to the aesthetic quality of the blur in the out of focus area of an image. In general, by shooting with a shallow depth of field (with only the subject in focus), photographers are able to drown out the background noise, so to speak, and highlight or draw the viewer’s eye to the beauty of the most important element in an image.

In that same sense, by escaping from the demands and pressures of clients and the everyday grind during quite possibly your busiest season, we hope to offer our attendees time to focus on all of the most important elements of their business that too often get lost in the busyness of the day to day. Attendees of Bliss & Bokeh are making an investment in time to connect, learn, reflect, refresh, and strategize for the year ahead. It’s a decision and an experience we are sure they will not regret!

Hope to see you in October!

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{image by KT Merry}

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We love getting to know each of our speakers. Today, we  hear from a few of the Bliss & Bokeh speakers on their idea of a perfect moment, perfect day, or  simply how they soak up this beautiful life we’re living…

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“My bliss is waking up early in a town I’ve never been to and exploring it on foot all day with my camera.” Leigh

“Chopping onions. Sounds funny, but when I’m in a funk, I love nothing more than chopping and cooking, making a great red sauce, or a scrumptious tray of enchiladas. I don’t cook with recipes, so the creations are completely original to me. We’ve had a few inedible ones over the years, but my husband is a great sport, and cooking for my family refills my bucket. It’s a passion I’m very protective of, because I know any passion maximized leads to burnout, but I also love cooking for friends that need a great lasagna every now and then.”  Whitney

“My bliss would be traveling to new places and experiencing new foods, sights and people.  Traveling so much does also make you appreciate your time at home and I get equal enjoyment cooking at home with my husband Chad and spending our down time doing something active and outdoors with our dog Axl.  Last but not least, one of my favorite places in the whole world will always be atop a horse…” KT

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I love seeing the enormous heart behind each of these talented women and what makes them tick. These days, my bliss is any moment where I can simultaneously sit still and watch my children each filled to the brim with happiness. Moments few and far between where I’m able to stop and take it all in – soaking up the sounds of their laughter and joy. For us, this usually happens at the beach. They love the wide open spaces and sunshine, and I love any chance to enjoy my family without the chaos that too often accompanies time spent together during this stage of life. Other days, it’s sitting in an adirondack in our backyard sipping my cup of coffee and watching them jump and play on the trampoline. I love seeing them happy. It lets me forget for a brief moment all the worries I carry as a Mother {…which all revolve around a fear of completely ruining this precious childhood! Can anyone relate?}.

What’s your bliss? We’d love to know what gives you joy!

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ktmerry.bride

We’re very excited to share with you the itinerary for Bliss & Bokeh 2013. We’ve worked diligently with a lot of heart and a clear vision to put together a team of talented and successful leaders in this industry to speak on a variety of topics pertaining to the business and art of wedding photography. Our speakers are currently working to fine tune their presentations, but we’ve compiled a list of topics covered here on our blog! You can also learn more about each of our speakers and their areas of expertise here. We’ve had several requests for a timeline for the retreat. We completely understand some of you will be working over the weekend leading up to the retreat or will need to fly in, so we’ve made sure to start the festivities late on Sunday to allow plenty of time for travel {and sleeping in on Sunday!}. If you are able to arrive in Charleston earlier, we have some suggestions for how to spend your day here. Just let us know!

Sunday
4:00 Meet & Greet at Charleston Place
5:00-6:00 Settle In
6:00 Dinner & Speaker: Whitney English
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Monday
8:30 Breakfast at Charleston Place
9:-00 Speakers: Tara Guerard & Angela Marcaccio
12:00 Lunch
1:30 Rotations: Small Group Discussion/One-on-One Critiques/Free Time
5:30 Headshots {optional}
7:00 Dinner
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Tuesday
8:30 Breakfast at Charleston Place
9:00 Speakers: KT Merry & Leigh Webber
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Rotations: Small Group Discussion/One-on-One Critiques/Free Time
3:00 Styled Shoots {Middleton Place} & Speaker: Joy Thigpen
8:00 Dinner
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Wednesday 
9:30 Special Brunch & Speakers: Emily Newman & Becky Hoppman
12pm Goodbye’s

For those who choose to join us, we believe you will leave truly grateful for your time spent with everyone here in Charleston. Not only will you learn from some pretty amazing women, but you will also develop meaningful connections with women who share your passions and your struggles. We invite you to come escape from the demands of your (amazing!) clients and your growing workload and indulge in all of the charm and luxury Charleston has to offer. Refine your talent and your brand, learn key business strategies from some of the industry’s top female entrepreneurs, and take time to unwind and refresh your creative spirit.

At Bliss & Bokeh, you will be challenged and inspired to dream bigger, find your purpose, and discover ways to share those talents to bless others. Ultimately, our wish is to create a community of women who will support, encourage and inspire one another long after the retreat; and along the way, you’ll learn how to return home and create community in your own market through collaboration with other creatives.

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{image by KT Merry}

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kingstreet

While my husband was born and raised in the lowcountry, I didn’t make my move from North Carolina to Charleston until after college (Go Tar Heels!!), 3 days after graduation to be exact. One thing we both whole heartedly agree on is that there is no place in the country with as much overall charm and beauty as Charleston (yes I’ll probably say something along these lines in every post). You are just going to have to see for yourself, but there is something about the heavy, humid lowcountry air that grips you and draws you back.

As much as I love the lazy days of summer, I have to say that October is “where it is at” in Charleston.  There are often days in October it’s still warm enough for beach time, but also evenings with a slight nip in air. Either way, it is the perfect month to be outside all day long. And what better way to enjoy the calm weather AND the sights of our holy city other than a rooftop bar?

Market Pavilion Bar | Located atop the swanky and sophisticated Market Pavilion Hotel this rooftop will not disappoint.  This place will always be near and dear to me because my husband and I visited this bar right after he proposed on the waterfront.  But I know you’ll love it for the delicious cocktail and food menu.  You can enjoy sipping your refreshment while you take in the sights of the Charleston harbor and nearby Market Street.  It must be the sparkling blue fountain pool that makes me feel like I am somewhere exotic while I’m dining here. Dare I be the hotel guest that would lounge in my swimsuit while loads of visitors come and go, but to each their own! Visit:  {website}

 The Rooftop at Vendue Inn | Located in the heart of downtown this is Charleston’s original rooftop bar.  You will always find a good crowd here, from locals who have been patrons for years to the visitors that quickly learn about it.  Rooftop at Vendue has been voted the best rooftop by Charleston City Paper for the last 8 years.  It offers a casual, relaxing atmosphere while providing exquisite views of Waterfront Park and the harbor.  I love the subtle twist on classic drinks their cocktail menu provides; Pear of the Dog, Moscow Mule or White Wine Spritzer?  Who’s ready to join me now? Visit: {website}

Stars Rooftop | Stars is Charleston’s newest addition to the rooftop bar line-up.  It is located in the center of Charleston’s trendy Upper King Street District (there will be another whole post on that coming next).   One aspect you’ll love about Stars is that is definitely more a “local” crowd as it is separated from the busy area of Market & East Bay Streets.  Enjoy 360 degree views of the city from one of their whicker seats and sample from the huge selection of international tap wine, unique cocktails or craft beers.  I was sold with the Honey Suckle Shandy.  I must add that their small bites and dinner menu is divine {Bacon Tater Tots are sounding right up my alley, says the hungry pregnant girl}. Visit: {website}

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Ok, we have some exciting news to share! While there are still plenty of spots available for now, we have an amazing group of women who have already registered for Bliss & Bokeh! For those of you who have made the commitment, we are blown away by your talent and so grateful for your enthusiasm to join us! It’s an amazing moment to realize that everything you envisioned and put so much heart into is coming together just as you hoped it would. Spending time pouring through each of your portfolios, browsing your instagram accounts (it’s true, I can’t lie), and learning more about all of you both as photographers and as women, lights a fire in me to continue to pour my heart into this event and this community! I love finding new ways to enrich your time here in Charleston!

To answer a few questions we’ve received:

  • Shared rooms are for 2 attendees, and if you register with a friend, we’re happy to make sure the two of you room together! Just send us an email or include a note in your registration! If you register for a shared room and are attending alone, we will carefully pair you up with another attendee based on your personality and preferences! Personally, I think this is the way to go!
  • If you’re flying in to Charleston, we’re happy to assist you in scheduling your transportation to Charleston Place. All other activities are within walking distance or transportation will be provided!
  • Registration is limited to a maximum of 30 attendees. We believe in maintaining an intimate environment that encourages meaningful interaction amongst attendees and speakers!
  • Bliss & Bokeh is all-inclusive. Your registration fee covers your accommodations at Charleston Place, as well as all of your meals, which will be amazing. We promise!
  • Our vision for Bliss & Bokeh is not to be a beginner’s workshop, but rather to appeal to and provide the best opportunities for learning to established wedding photographers. That said, if you are just starting out and able to make the investment, we believe you will absolutely learn so much from all of the speakers and your fellow attendees.

Also, as many of you have seen, early registration ends June 15. While you’ll still be able to register after that date {pending spots are available}, the cost of registration will increase to $2600 for a shared room and $3000 for a private room. If you know you’d like to attend, don’t miss the opportunity to save $105 by securing your spot soon!

If you have any other questions at all, don’t hesitate to drop us a note!

hello@blissandbokeh.com

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{image by KT Merry}

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meetleigh

Leigh Webber is a Charleston-based, award winning, uber-talented photographer, world traveler, and writer with a long standing and evolving presence in the industry. With ten years of experience shooting weddings, we love to follow along as Leigh continually seeks new sources of inspiration, whether through her travels across the globe or in the everyday moments with her son, Seamus. I’m personally inspired by her book, First 52 Weeks, where Leigh captured that precious first year with her son in unique images that tug at my heartstrings as a fellow Mom but also inspire me as a photographer to find a new perspective on the simple but treasured moments in my own life.


Leigh has a beautiful studio in the heart of Charleston’s wedding district. I have loved visiting Leigh over the last few months to chat with her about her role in Bliss & Bokeh and to meet with her studio mate and felllow Bliss & Bokeh speaker, Becky Hoppman, of Smitten Magazine while Becky was working on all of the branding for our retreat. I especially enjoyed seeing the big chalkboard wall covered in drawings by their children.

From the beginning, we envisioned Bliss & Bokeh to be a refreshing escape for established photographers, but we still aim to provide an environment that is abundant in opportunities to learn and grow both your business and your craft. For that reason, we wanted to find contributors who would go beyond simply teaching the basics of wedding photography and provide inspiration and direction for those photographers who are established but are looking to take their work to the next level, who are still eager to learn and looking for solutions to the numerous challenges that we face daily.

Take a minute to visit Leigh’s site and browse through the images in her Side Projects page. From the polaroids in Morocco to her documentation of toddlerhood, we think you’ll be inspired to turn your lens in a new direction, to stretch yourself creatively and dive into a new challenge!

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ktmerry.kissbooks

We are so excited about the NEW colors being offered by one of our sponsors, KISS Books, and we are even more excited to be able to offer you an AMAZING GIVEAWAY to help you purchase some new sample KISSes to impress your clients! Both of their new linen and leather color options are gorgeous, and our very own KT Merry worked closely with KISS to help select the new options!

A huge thank you to KISS Books for allowing us to offer one of you a $500 credit towards your next sample album order {no additional minimum order required}!

To Enter…

1. Comment on this blog post with your favorite new KISS color in linen or leather!
2. Share our giveaway on Facebook or Twitter by tagging @blissandbokeh and hashtags #blissandbokeh and #kiss500giveaway!
3. Join Bliss & Bokeh’s email list through the Newsletter tab on our Facebook page!

Best of luck!

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{image by KT Merry}

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spa

We all love a trip to a beautiful spa {trips that are too few and far between, am I right?}, and the Spa at Charleston Place does not disappoint! With offerings like the “Ultimate Bliss” and their “Pampered Peach Pedicure”, my tired and overworked self is aching for a little me time. Care to join me?

{And don’t worry, we won’t tell if you sneak away for an hour to the Spa! It will be our secret!}

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meetkatieinstagram

Katie is my stylish and incredibly organized sidekick at Bliss & Bokeh – a perfect complement to a disorganized dreamer such as myself. She is mom to two adorable little girls, Charlotte & Ellis, both of whom my girls adore, and her and her husband, John, are expecting another sweet baby this winter! Katie has been my assistant on several photo shoots, and she picks up right where I leave off, remembering the logistics when my creative mind is spinning in the big ideas!

Katie is a wonderful mother, an incredible friend, and someone who knows how to welcome you in and make you feel right at home! She is just one of those people you meet and instantly feel like you’ve known for years. Katie is truly a hostess at heart. She knows how to throw a great party, always looks fabulous {though she’d never admit it} and has the attention to detail to always put that special touch on anything she puts together, whether a thoughtful gift or a beautiful event. I can’t wait for you to meet her! I’m so grateful she came on board and joined the team! The two of us have been busy behind the scenes planning all sorts of sweet surprises for you!

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While searching high and low one Saturday afternoon for the perfect photographer to complement our growing team of contributors, I came across KT’s work, and simply put, her images stopped me in my tracks. Named one of PDN’s top 20 rising photographers, KT’s work has graced the pages of every wedding publication you adore. In the business for over 10 years, her background in fashion, her international presence and her love of film, are all aspects that make her unique and positively wonderful! She has so much wisdom to share and such a heart for being a part of this community of photographers!

Not long after we first connected, Katie and I had the chance to join KT and her husband, Chad, for brunch at one of our favorites, Poogan’s Porch, here in Charelston. KT was in town to shoot a wedding at the William Aiken House {another favorite}, and it must have been fate! Getting to meet KT and sit down with her to discuss all of our ideas and learn more about her experiences sealed the deal – we were smitten! It’s clear her and her husband are a perfect pair and make a great team. KT has so much knowledge to offer both film and digital photographers who are looking to get more of their work published, shoot more destination weddings, or improve their workflow, and that’s just the beginning. Truly, her work and accolades speak for themselves. Join us for the chance to learn from KT, shoot alongside her at our Middleton Place shoot {styled by Joy Thigpen}, and have the opportunity to chat one on one with her about your business and the struggles you face!

We are so proud she’s joined us, and we can’t wait to learn from her!

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{image by KT Merry}

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