2019 Shoot & Share Photo Competition | My Why | Lehigh Valley Wedding Photographer | Lehigh Valley Documentary Photographer

Each January, photographers and photo enthusiasts from around the globe excitedly begin uploading their favorite images into the Shoot & Share Photo Contest.


Shoot & Share is a free photo contest where anyone can enter up to 50 images into 25 predetermined categories ranging from weddings to pets to cell phone photography. According to the Shoot & Share website, in 2018, over 400,000 images were entered into the competition—it’s huge!

During several weeks within the month of February, voting is opened where voters are able to select their favorite images. The images with the most votes in each category win, with the winners being announced sometime in March.


Last year was my first year entering the contest. I did not go “All In” as they say in Shoot & Share world; only selecting a handful of my favorite images from the previous year to enter into the contest. As soon as voting opened up, I was completely addicted to voting. Image after image, I selected my favorite images from other photographers around the world.

I was thrilled to have one of my images make it as a “Finalist” and several others within the “Top 10%”, “Top 20%” and “Top 30%.” ( Curious which images made it? Head on over to Shoot & Share to see my 2018 results here.)

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Though super proud of my 2018 results, I had some hesitations about entering this year. I think, as a creative, it can be easy to get stuck in the “comparison game” and quickly find yourself dissatisfied with your own work when comparing yourself to others. Yes, it’s wonderful to be recognized, receive awards and have a bunch of publication badges to add to your website and portfolio. It can be great justification to increase your pricing and can definitely get your name out there and in front of a larger audience. But, the flip side of that is does all of that really matter?


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I went back and forth in my head about “do I or don’t I?” enter the Shoot & Share competition this year. And what I decided is yes. Yes, I am going to do this; not because I want to be in competition with other photographers or to use this as a way to measure myself against other artists, but because I realized the only person I need to be in competition with is myself.

So this year, I went “All In” and entered 50 images. In my mind, I’ve already achieved something in that I was brave enough to put my work “out there” (check out the cute little badge they give you for entering) and already did more than I did in 2018.

I realized it does take courage and a whole lot of vulnerability. I am proud of my work. I am proud of my couples who totally rock their engagement sessions and wedding day portraits. I am proud of the families who make themselves vulnerable and invite me in to document their reality. And I am so proud to be one of the 46,000+ photographers in this incredible community.

So, here we go! Cheers to being courageous, vulnerable, and the only me there is.

Stay tuned for 2019 results, which I’ll be sure to share in a future blog post!

A Bride's Guide to Getting Ready | Getting Ready Must-Haves | Lehigh Valley Wedding Photographer

After the wedding day is over and I begin going through the thousands of images captured throughout the day, I always find myself gravitating to one section of images from the wedding day: Getting Ready.

I am so drawn to the bride’s carefully chosen details: the delicate invitations, the heirloom “borrowed” pieces, the beautiful shoes and sparkling jewelry. These little items tell so much about each bride’s personality.

I love the emotion in the images captured during this time, too. Getting Ready is the portion of day where emotions are running high and energy fills the room. There’s so much happening during this time that it’s very easy to forget some of the key items needed for those “must have” shots that every bride want to have on their wedding day.

I’ve put together a list of the top 5 most overlooked items that are absolute must-haves for every Hope & Stay Bride for you to ensure you’re prepared for your wedding day photography. Take a peek below!

Top 5 Must-Haves for Getting Ready:

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Dress Hangers

Brides, I beg you, PLEASE invest in a pretty hanger for your dress shots. Your gorgeous wedding gown deserves more than an ugly plastic hanger to be displayed and photographed on. This is one purchase that is usually overlooked, though, can make all the difference when it comes to capturing fine art, editorial images of your wedding dress.

There are so many options available from simple white wooden hangers to fully customized options that you can coordinate with your wedding colors.

If you’re interested in having your bridesmaids dresses photographed alongside your wedding gown, I strongly urge you to invest in a set of hangers for your bridesmaid gowns, too!

Helpful hint: Make sure the top of your hanger swivels so we can hang it anywhere!


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I typically begin wedding day coverage anywhere from 1.5-2 hours before my bride actually gets into her gown. Because of this, many of my brides opt to purchase beautiful robes for themselves and their bridesmaids for the Getting Ready portion of the day so everyone coordinates during those candid photographs I capture during this time. So many brides do this now that it has become a fun little tradition to get a “robe shot” of my brides and their bridesmaids together before everyone gets dressed.

(If you’re not a fancy robe kinda gal, a cute button-up shirt can be a great alternative!)


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Letter or Gift

Having a letter/gift exchange with your groom can make for some beautiful and emotional memories on your wedding day. Imagine sitting in your bridal suite reading a love letter from your husband-to-be on your wedding day. These heartfelt and tender moments can be beautifully documented in your wedding images, but also provide a wonderful keepsake to have to share with your children and grandchildren some day.

Helpful hint: If you’re planning to do a gift or letter exchange, make sure your photographer knows about it in advance! This way, we can set aside a few extra minutes in the timeline to account for it.


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Invitation Suite

Every bride knows she needs to bring her “detail items” to be photographed on her wedding day. Part of this collection of details is your invitation suite! Yes, the ENTIRE suite. This includes: the invitation itself, response card, reception card, outer envelope, direction card and stamps.

Your invitation suite often compliments the color scheme and theme of your wedding day. It’s an important element of your wedding that you took a lot of time selecting and deserves to be stylized and photographed beautifully. Brides, make sure the suite finds its way into your detail bag—you won’t regret it!


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Velvet Ring Box

A velvet ring box is a great way to showcase your engagement ring and new wedding band in a stylized photograph. These velvet ring boxes come in every color imaginable and can easily be an element that takes the photos of your rings to the next level. My absolute favorite brand is The Mrs. Box.

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Caitlyn + Matthew | Married!| An Intimate Bucks County Backyard Wedding

When I first spoke with Caitlyn during our initial consultation, she mentioned to me that it was always her dream to get married in her grandmother's backyard. She wanted something simple, yet elegant that included all of the people who were closest to the couple.  Caitlyn's grandmother played a very important role in her life and she just knew her grandparents' beautiful home would make the perfect setting for her backyard Bucks County wedding.  She was absolutely right!  The wedding was a perfect June day, the sun shone all day long, and the backyard was just bursting with flowers--swoon!

Getting Ready

Caitlyn and Matt got ready at Caitlyn's grandmother's home where the ceremony was due to be held. Caitlyn and Matt opted not to have a bridal party, so they were surrounded by their closest friends and family as they prepared for the big day ahead.  The atmosphere was so calm and relaxed.  It was so nice having such a close group of people there.  Everyone pitched in to help the day come together perfectly for Matt and Caitlyn.

First Looks

Caitlyn decided to have a Daddy/Daughter First Look before seeing Matt for the first time.  I absolutely adore the sweet photos we got during this special time for Caitlyn and her dad.  This was actually my favorite part of the day.  I've truly never seen a father beaming the way Caitlyn's Dad did when he saw her in her wedding gown for the first time. They also took a moment for Caitlyn to pin her father's boutonniere on during the First Look – it was such a sweet moment between father and daughter. 

Following the Daddy/Daughter First Look, Caitlyn and Matt had their own First Look where they shared a few private moments before we transitioned to their formal bride and groom portraits.  Caitlyn and Matt told me that this portion of the day was their favorite.  Caitlyn said:

 "We wanted to have that special alone time before the ceremony to just talk and get over our nerves."

The Ceremony

The ceremony was an intimate affair in the back garden of her grandmother's Bucks County, Pennsylvania home. Friends and family looked on as Caitlyn and Matt exchanged their "I Dos" at the end of a cobblestone walkway. During the ceremony their sweet little son, Wesley, acted as ring bearer and he did a great job (just wait until you see how sweet he looks)! It was so beautiful, so personal and so very romantic.

The Reception

The reception was held in a tented area in the backyard. It was a garden theme wedding, which was perfect for the backyard setting, so Caitlyn and Matt opted to decorate with fresh flowers and twinkle lights.  It definitely had that simple, yet elegant vibe Caitlyn was hoping for.

I love shooting garden weddings because the grounds are just perfect for outdoor formal portraits.  I mean, who can pass up a wedding with beautiful gardens and a killer sunset? 

The couple says that if you’re planning your wedding, the biggest piece of advice they could give you is:

"Make sure to remember every minute of your day! Take a moment to breathe it all in and most of all let the little things slide. Your going to marry your best friend!"

I hope you enjoy some of the highlights from Caitlyn and Matt's beautiful Bucks County backyard wedding!

A special thank you to my second shooter, Jillian, for her talent and support!  Also, a shout out to the vendors who helped make Caitlyn and Matt's Bucks County Wedding an amazing day for everyone!

Dress Store | David's Bridal

Hair & Make up Artist | Hair - Erin Salvo & Makeup- Karen Rashevsky

Catering | Simply Smooth Catering

Rings | Mark's Jewelers

Favors | Etsy

Jewelry | Seraphine Creations

DJ | AC DJ's

Officiant | Bruce Pelly

If you're planning your own Bucks County, PA wedding, get in touch!

Theresa + Dave | Engaged! | A South Jersey Engagement Session

Theresa and Dave are two of the sweetest people you could ever meet.  I knew the moment I met them and their sweet Goldendoodle puppy, Cruz, that were going to have an amazing engagement session despite the pouring rain!  

Dave and Theresa are planning a New Jersey wedding this summer, so it was only fitting that I make the trip to my home state to meet them for their engagement session.  

The historic feel and incredible architecture of the public library was the perfect backdrop for their South Jersey engagement session.  I knew it would photograph beautifully!  I am so glad they trusted me because the end result is incredible!

I cannot wait to photograph their South Jersey wedding at Clark's Landing Yacht Club this summer!    Enjoy some of my favorites of Theresa, Dave and little Cruz! 



Hope & Stay Photography LOVES Philadelphia weddings and engagements!  To book your South Jersey or Philadelphia engagement session or wedding, contact Alyssa here!

Sara + Joe | An Anniversary Portrait Session | Lehigh Valley Wedding Photographer

It was almost a year ago that I photographed Joe and Sara's Penn's Peak wedding (if you missed it, check it out here!). I can't believe how quickly this past year has gone by!  I absolutely adore these two and it's so obvious they are more in love than ever.

We thought it would be fun to get together for a portrait session to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.  I mean, who wouldn't want to photograph these two?  They're gorgeous and insanely in love.  YES, please!

A gracious friend granted us permission to use a flowering field on their farm.  The wild yellow blooms were just perfect! I just LOVE how they pop against Sara's flowing black skirt.  

The clouds were dark and heavy and I secretly prayed that the rain would hold off for us.  (Come to think of it, it rained during their Lehigh Valley engagement session AND their wedding day!).  Fortunately for us, the rain stayed away and we were able to capture some beautiful portraits of these two to celebrate their first year as husband and wife! 

Joe and Sara are just so easy to be around and I honestly don’t think that these two could take a bad picture!

Guys, thank you SO much for trusting me to capture these beautiful anniversary portraits for you. I am so glad you both are in my life and I am beyond excited to see what this next year holds for you.  Happy anniversary, lovies! 



Planning a Lehigh Valley wedding or celebrating a milestone anniversary?  Let's chat!  Contact Alyssa here.