Behind the Scenes


Kind words from one of our talented, inspiring Bliss & Bokeh 2013 alumni, Sawyer Baird…

“Bliss & Bokeh has been a breathe of fresh air for not only myself but my business. The knowledge that I took away from this experience is something that affects me in my career day to day. When I signed up for Bliss & Bokeh I had no idea what I was getting into. I had dropped out of college to pursue my career in photography. When in school I found that film photography was the right path for me. I had bought Jose Villa’s book and fell in love with artistic vision and the timeless elegance that film photography has. It instantly felt like home to me. When I started looking to further my career and expand my knowledge I found Bliss & Bokeh. This workshop had everything I could imagine learning. I was the last person to sign up… and what an amazing adventure it was for me! Such a fun fact to all this is I got my Contax a week before the workshop… it really was fate!

What I took away from the workshop was not only some of my closest friends but the knowledge that drives me in my career. During the workshop I really learned a lot about myself as an artist. Along with learning about myself as an artist I learned about the things that drove me and inspired me. When seeing all these things that I had dreamed about come to life I learned that dreams can come true and that nothing is impossible. I had no idea about the fine art wedding community. So it was so nice to finally find my place. I loved being able to connect with such amazing vendors and getting such amazing advice from them as well. Some of the things that really stood out to me were styled shoots and the details that were in everything we did. I loved being able to watch Joy Thigpen style so many details. At that moment I was learning to not only be a photographer but an artist with my work.

During the workshop I only shot one roll of film. People call me crazy- sometimes I even ask myself why I did that. I could have had so much more amazing content for my website. The truth is I had just learned to roll 120 film, I didn’t think shooting would allow me to gain the knowledge I was after, and I just didn’t want to spend time shooting when I learn from watching others. So instead of shooting I sat back and watched KT Merry shoot, Joy Thigpen style, and really got to tune in to their vision. A couple moments that stood out to me was when Joy placed the cake where she placed it, due to lighting and the setting, another thing was watching Joy style the bride’s dress. She was very intentional with where she placed her hands and where she told her to grab her dress. These are just a few things that stood out that I still think of when I am shooting.

Overall Bliss & Bokeh has given me so much to be thankful for. I made the most amazing friends (that I still talk to daily), amazing industry advice, learned about styled shoots, how to build my portfolio, attracting my dream clients, ways to get published, the direction that I wanted to take my business, and just so much about myself as an artist and photographer. It has made me tune in to so many important things with my photography and made me more aware of my surroundings & the little details in everyday life. I am beyond grateful for this experience and I highly recommend it to anybody looking to expand their business and their own artistic mind.”

Sawyer Baird


We adore Sawyer, and we couldn’t be prouder of her amazing growth since Bliss & Bokeh 2013! Thank you, Sawyer, for sharing your heart and your experience at Bliss!





We are finally dusting off the blog and excited to share some big news with all of you! It’s been an amazing year, and we are so grateful to all of you who have come on board and made Bliss & Bokeh what it is today! We hosted our second retreat in September, and we met the most talented, gracious, inspiring group of women we can now call dear friends. Over the last year, we have watched the attendees of our first Bliss & Bokeh retreat do incredible things and continue to create gorgeous work! We are so proud to know all of them, and I’m excited that a few of them will be sharing with all of you here on the blog soon!

Today, we are excited to share the details of our third Bliss & Bokeh, which we’ll host here in Charleston this May! We are over the moon to have two very talented fine art film photographers joining us this year: Jen Huang and Elisa Bricker! Along with Jen and Elisa, we will be bringing along the wonderfully talented Ginny Au to teach and style for us and someone whose vision and heart we so admire, Katie Selvidge, founder of Cottage Hill, to lead an important discussion on nurturing ourselves as artists and the process of creating honest, meaningful work. We’ll also be adding a few more speakers and special guests, so stay tuned as we reveal more!

Registration is now open, and we would love to have you join us! Go here to reserve your spot! Use coupon code “mybliss” to receive a $100 discount today only!

We hope to see you in May!






{image by Jen Huang}



We can’t say enough about one of our sponsors from the 2013 Bliss & Bokeh retreat, ONA, a company whose vision is simple, to combine functionality and style to provide camera bags that complement our life and style. We were incredibly grateful when ONA offered to donate this gorgeous Brooklyn style bag, a chestnut leather camera bag for our retreat. This particular style, although we would all love one of each, is perfect for an engagement shoot or for traveling or simply a day out on the town! Although it was tough to let it go (and the bag is now on the top of my short Christmas wish list), we had so much fun giving it away! We held a contest during the retreat, and chose one instagram image from our shoot to select the lucky recipient. Our beautiful and talented winner, Melanie Gabrielle, pictured above and also the woman behind the lens for each of these images, has reported that she LOVES her bag and carries it daily!


Thank you, ONA, for your generosity to this community! Photographers, as you make your own wish list this holiday season, I can’t say enough about ONA’s great selection of products! Amazing quality, practicality AND style… Always a winner where we’re concerned! In fact, head on over now and see all of the ONA bags! The Brooklyn, Chelsea and Palmer are all my favorites! What’s yours?

Stay tuned as we reveal more lovely details from Bliss & Bokeh 2013!

{images by Melanie Gabrielle}








We have so many updates to share with all of you, and we don’t want you to miss a thing, so listen up! Today, we’re going to share some of our surprises and let you in on more exciting additions to Bliss & Bokeh, which by the way, is happening in just a little over a month! We’ve been eagerly anticipating this event and the chance to meet all of you since January, so for us, it simply can’t get here soon enough!

While some of our speakers are still fine-tuning their presentations, and some decisions are still being made, below is a pretty complete picture of your time spent at Bliss & Bokeh!

Sunday, October 6

4pm Meet and Greet Social, Charleston Place Terrace
5pm Meet your Roommate & Settle In
6pm Dinner at Charleston Grill
8pm Speaker: Whitney English {Authenticate: Goals, Dreams & Envision Extraordinary}

Monday, October 7
8:30am Breakfast at Charleston Place
9am Speaker Presentations
Tara Guerard {Working with Elite Planners}
Angela Marcaccio {Top Mistakes Most Photographers Make}
12:00pm Small Group Lunches*
1:30-4pm One-on-One Critiques & Free Time
4:30pm Cocktail Hour at Zero George
Speaker: Lynn Easton Andrews {Making Connections through Social Media}
6-8:00pm Private Dinner at RiverOaks Charleston
{This dinner will be held at the gorgeous Charleston wedding venue along the banks of the Wando River, hosted by their very gracious owner, Marianne}
Speaker: Melissa Bigner {Editor, Charleston Weddings Magazine}
Headshots by KT Merry {optional}

Tuesday, October 8
8:30am Breakfast at Charleston Place
9am Speaker Presentations
KT Merry {Getting Published, Marketing to Destination Brides & Film}
Leigh Webber {Staying Inspired & Side Projects}
12pm Lunch {to be revealed}
1-2:30pm Free Time
2:30pm Leave for Middleton Place
3pm Speaker: Joy Thigpen {Working with a Stylist & Process of Creative Direction}
4pm-7pm Styled Shoots**
8pm Dinner {to be revealed}

Wednesday, October 9

9am Special Farewell Breakfast
Speaker Presentations:
Emily Newman {Once Wed, Editor’s Perspective}
Becky Hoppman {Gracious Brands & Smitten Magazine}
12pm Say our Goodbye’s

*Small Group Lunches*

On Monday, attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for a small group lunch with one or two of our speakers and 4-6 other attendees. This will be the perfect opportunity to get to know one of our speakers and one another in an intimate setting and to enjoy one of Charleston’s best restaurants!

**Styled Shoots**
On Tuesday afternoon, attendees will have the chance to venture to Middleton Place for an afternoon of shooting models and gorgeous tablescapes alongside a couple of incredibly talented and experienced photographers as well as a group of new friends. The exciting news is that instead of two styled shoots, attendees will actually have the chance to shoot THREE unique and beautifully styled shoots while on property; designed by Joy Thigpen and Emily Newman of Once Wed, Lynn Easton Andrews of Easton Events, and a fun surprise addition styled by Melissa Bigner and the team from Charleston Weddings Magazine! Attendees will be divided into groups of 6-8 and will rotate through each shoot, spending 45 minutes at each shoot. This time will be well organized and structured to allow for both instruction and time to shoot the various elements, without simply fighting everyone for a shot. As we announced Friday, you will also each have the chance to shoot film with a Contax 645, (film and processing provided by Richard Photo Lab and equipment rental by Contax Rental). The cameras will be available at the shoot with KT, as well as during some free time to explore downtown Charleston!

If you are still considering joining us, we have five spots remaining, and registration closes tomorrow! Please feel free to email us,, if you have any lingering questions! To our attendees, thank you for believing in this experience and making the commitment to join us! We are so grateful to each of you for contributing to Bliss & Bokeh your talent and creativity and most of all, your desire to learn and be a part of this community!

35 days and counting…




{image by Leigh Webber}



Betsy, here. I had the chance today to spend some time talking with Whitney English about her presentation for our upcoming retreat. We chatted about all of the things she feels she can share with this community of creative women. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn so much from Whitney over the last year after meeting her last fall at Savvy Workshop {a wonderful workshop for portrait photographers}. Her encouragement and wisdom is a big reason I had the courage to pursue creating this community of wedding photographers. We talked about purpose and authenticity and the importance of taking the time to identify your goals, values, talents and passions. I shared with her how grateful I am that she spoke confidence into me and gave me permission to believe that I could do something great to encourage women and through this and my own business, do something great to meet the needs of my family. I know it sounds like all talk and fluff. Stay with me. When you’ve had the privilege of learning from Whitney and then you take that leap and pursue something great, something you believe in, and you pursue it with all of your heart, this happens. You receive an email from someone who gets it, who appreciates what you’ve done, and who literally speaks affirmation into your heart and sends you on your way. Maybe it’s a letter of gratitude from a client who received the best of your creativity and talent and loves you for it or maybe it’s an email saying that the editorial shoot you dreamed of and finally saw to fruition is going to be featured in print in one of the top bridal publications. It’s the fulfillment that comes from doing what you love and loving what you do!


Dear Betsy & Katie,

I’ve been a photographer for a few years and I’ve just made the leap to fine art wedding photography. While I was deep into my research I found your retreat.

I had to tell you both how inspiring and wonderful I think this project is. By fostering a community of women who share a passion for beautiful story-telling, you are making the world feel smaller. I love that you’ve brought together women who I can look up to who are willing to share their excitement and insight with those newer to the industry like myself.

I deeply appreciate what you two have manifested. Although I can’t afford it this year, you can bet that one of these days you’ll see my name in registration. Bliss and Bokeh is something that I will really be looking forward to!

All the best,



I’m so grateful to this sweet new friend for taking the time to reach out to us! We are blessed by your kind words, and I hope we’ll have the chance to meet you soon!




{source: Whitney English}



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Think our business solutions could boost your bottom line? We invite you to explore the Design Aglow world, including our just-opened Frame Shop. Let our tools help move your studio forward.


We are thrilled to announce Design Aglow as our newest sponsor for Bliss & Bokeh! I’ve loved chatting with the women of Design Aglow about this retreat and the growing community of talented women who will be attending! Design Aglow joins an incredible group of sponsors who are all eager to help us make this experience a valuable and exciting one for our attendees: Richard Photo LabKISS BooksSmitten Magazine & Once Wed

On that note, Bliss & Bokeh is getting a lot of wonderful buzz and praise this week {we’re blushing}, and spots are limited! Registration closes September 1, so don’t delay if you want to join us in Charleston in October!



The countdown is on around here! All of us, the planners and the speakers, are buzzing with anticipation of an amazing four days of learning and connecting! We are working closely with each of our contributors to fine tune our itinerary, speaker presentations, and of course, the gorgeous styled shoots!

Today, we’re giving you all the opportunity to pose a question for KT Merry as she prepares to share her wisdom with all of you! KT will be presenting on three main topics: getting your work published, marketing to destination brides, and shooting film!

We’d like to know – for those who shoot film, are transitioning back to film, or who would simply like to know more – if you could ask the fabulous destination film photographer, KT Merry, one question on the topic of film, what would it be? Just leave a comment or share your question with us on Instagram! We look forward to hearing your questions and sharing them with KT!



We are so excited to finally announce a new addition to the Bliss & Bokeh team, Lynn Easton Andrews of Easton Events. Recently named one of the top 10 most influential wedding designers by The Knot magazine and owner of two gorgeous venues, Pippin Hill Farm and Zero George St {here in Charleston}, Lynn is the perfect addition to our community of incredibly talented creatives! Lynn and the Easton Events team will also be designing the second styled shoot for us at Middleton Place in October. As with all of our speakers, we’ve loved getting to know what makes Lynn tick…

What’s a typical day like for you?
6:30am |Wake and read NYTimes/answering emails
7:30am | Gym/answering emails
9am | Morning meeting to determine daily itinerary for planning w/ Charleston + Cville Offices/trying not to answer email
12pm | Marketing meeting with Pippin Hill or Zero George St.
3pm | Actual event planning {wink}
6pm | Dinner with parents or kiddos
9pm | Nightcap with Dean
11pm | Bedtime/answering emails

What are some ways you’ve found to balance your work and personal life?
This question always makes me laugh, because historically, life and work have coexisted as one and the same. The reality is.. leisure is a very modern concept. I find, as a person who is self-employed, managing several businesses and collaborating with my husband, that my personal life and work life are intrinsically tied and one gives life to the other, and vice versa. I assume that this works for us because our children are grown and have lives of their own. As a young family, boundaries and “balance” are definitely more important to make sure you’re allocating proper time to all important things; but for me, I love my work – I love working with my husband and so that’s what we do in our common life. It is what makes life so fun.

What has been a pivotal decision you’ve made that has contributed to your success?
Opening Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards with my husband Dean, was probably the most pivotal and riskiest decision I’ve made. We had everything on the line. With my husband’s years of luxury hotel experience and my wedding industry expertise we formulated a design for a truly sublime location to wed. The happiest moment of my career was when PH was named “Top 50 Most Romantic Venues” in the US by Brides Magazine. I literally did the chicken dance… a lot.

Visit our speaker page to read more about Lynn’s expertise in the wedding industry!

Also, an update on REGISTRATION: We currently have only ten spots remaining, and we will be closing registration on September 1! We know there are so many of you out there who’ve reached out to let us know you’re hoping to attend and working to make it happen, and we have a truly incredible community of talented and wonderful women registered already! That said, we don’t expect these spots to last much longer, so secure your spot soon! You won’t regret it!




What’s a typical day like for you?

6am | I am feeding my 3 month old, Irving, while snuggling with my one year old, Linus, so that hopefully he will sleep another hour.

9am | I’ve been at my computer for a while answering emails, starting calls if they are also on the east coast, and or putting together some upcoming project.

12pm | I am trying to pull myself away from emails to go to the kitchen to make some lunch, I might also be feeding the baby if he slept late that day.

3pm | I am back in my office, probably back on the computer, probably still trying to finish some emails, or on a call or video chat with someone on the west coast, or working on an upcoming project.

6pm | I am feeding the baby, talking to the rest of the family about their day, and strategizing about dinner plans….checking Pinterest for some recipe ideas, cross-checking that with what’s in the fridge, and if there’s not a good match, getting everyone’s vote on where they want to go out to eat or pick up dinner.

9pm | Hopefully Linus is asleep, and I’m probably telling the two big kids to be “still and quiet” in their “own rooms” as they continue to sneak into each others rooms and giggle upstairs. I am probably holding Irving and unwinding a bit with my husband before he “hits the wall”–he is a morning person and wakes up super early and therefor is tired super early…I’ll stay up several more hours so I can have some quiet me-time.

How do you balance work and family?
The best hope I have for balancing my work and personal life is to try to be 100% present at what I’m doing. When I’m working, I am most efficient and giving my best work if I can be totally focused on that. When work hours are over, I try to turn work off completely and be totally present with my family. There is always going to be that tension and paying attention to that tension is good. You need to know if work is suffering or if your family is suffering and what needs to be done to fix it. Usually you can keep both in a pretty good place but every once in a while there is a conflict where one has to suffer and I always want my family to win. I hate to let my work suffer but I would hate more to let my family suffer. When it comes to that place, I just let my client know about the circumstance and they almost always are very understanding, willing to reschedule (or whatever), and ultimately respect the decision.

What has been one critical decision you’ve made regarding your business?
A pivotal decision in my career was to choose to bravely and trustingly pursue what I felt I was made to do; to commit to working in my strengths rather than any preset job description and trust that doing so would work out well.


We are incredibly grateful to each of the women who have agreed to contribute their talent and wisdom to make this retreat a wonderful experience for our attendees! While most of you were first introduced to this event through our beautiful brand and amazing lineup of speakers, it was little more than a big idea when I first approached Joy. I am so thankful that she, along with a few others, took the time to see my vision, to believe in this community, and to agree to lend her expertise! If you’re not already following Joy on Instagram, you must! We love keeping up with Joy’s adventures with her four little ones, and seeing where her work takes her, including this one Joy took recently while working in Big Sur.

Joy is truly gifted, and her decision to pursue her passion and trust in her strengths is one that has blessed this industry and undoubtedly everyone who has worked with her. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for our shoot at Middleton Place!





Joy Thigpen | Website | Twitter



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!





{image by KT Merry}