Full Steam Ahead – Steampunk Birthday Party – Fredericksburg, VA

The past couple months I have had the absolute pleasure of planning one of my best friends birthday parties. I LOVE PARTY PLANNING. All caps, because that is important. Secretly, I want to plan all the weddings and parties for everyone, everywhere. I want to find out what puts glee inside of you and bring it to life with tiny details and baubles and extravagance. I want everything to be in it’s place and coordinated and most importantly I want to see the joy it brings. Then, I want to photograph it all for you to remember in a gorgeous album for decades to come. But, this blog is not about me… (but seriously, though, if you need someone to plan your party…)

My friend Kimberly is going to be the next mayor of Fredericksburg. I always joke about that when we meet new people on one of our totally-not-drinking-wine-tonight walks. She is tenacious. She is fearless. And she has one of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever had the honour of having conversations with. She’s not really running for mayor (yet), but I have no doubt in my mind if she decided tomorrow she was running for the position she could secure it. She is a no B.S, tough-as-nails retired marine with the biggest heart for the underdogs. She is a creative genius and is at the helm of the Fredericksburg Theatre Ensemble and a member of the Arts Commision. So she definitely couldn’t choose any old boring theme for her birthday! We are both theatre people, and theatre people don’t do anything halfway. (Unless it’s stringing up your cyclorama to a beam with twine and broomsticks 5 minutes before a show opens *wink wink*) Kim chose a really adventurous theme for her birthday party – STEAMPUNK. For those of you unfamiliar, Urban Dictionary defines steampunk as ” a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.” So with that in mind I began to have some fun! I had such a great time planning little details, doing crafts and networking with our amazing vendors in the Fredericksburg area.

I need to start off by saying that the A.Smith Bowman Bourbon Distillery is AMAZING. You can walk in and do a tour topped off with a tasting of gin, bourbon, rum, vodka and a dessert liquor. The gift shop is where I’m going to purchase 80% of my Christmas gifts, so friends if you are reading this act really surprised when you get bourbon infused coffee! I love love love the look of the entire place – perfect for steampunk! Browns, woods, coppers, barrels and metal gave us an overall big industrial feel. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly from the time I booked to the time we teared everything down for the evening. You can tell they love and enjoy their job which in my mind is so important. They were all about giving the party a big tour with a tasting and were so very knowledgeable about the process and product. They put their heart into their company and business and the people they meet. I 100% recommend this place be rented out for any future weddings or events! (feel free to invite me!) (No seriously, I’ll totally come!) I loved the beautiful string lights that swooped from one side of the building to the next – it’s strangely romantic! They are extremely accommodating in regards to coming in and doing your own thing and helping anyway they can. They host a lot of public events which I didn’t know – so now I will have another place to check out for what’s happening around the ‘ Burg!

I was extremely excited to finally place a large order at Sweet Reasons Gourmet Cupcakes! I usually only pop in for a gluten free cupcake every once in a while, with a slight ping of jealousy at all the boxed up orders behind the counter. Sometimes a girl just wants boxes and boxes of cupcakes, okay?! They were able to accommodate a requested-by-the-birthday-girl-flavor which was … HUMMIGBIRD! Now, being a Northerner I had never heard of such madness. I guess if the birthday girl wants to be morbid and eat hummingbirds it’s her party. In reality it’s a mix of flavours including banana, pineapple, cinnamon and pecans! It’s a highly sought after flavor and Sweet Reasons made it their “flavor of the week”. From the sounds of it, it flew off the shelves! Sorry good people of Fredericksburg, we had lots left over… you should come party with me next time! We also had orders for salted caramel and a gluten free red velvet so us celiac could partake in the adventures of deliciousness! An all around hit – who doesn’t LOVE cupcakes?! I highly recommend Sweet Reasons for weddings/events/general omnomnomary. Sweet Reasons was extremely responsive and accommodating. I was out of town a whole month prior to this event and only landed back in Virginia with 2 days to spare. Everything was planned over email and was easy/peezy/lemonsqueezy. I can’t thank them enough for providing sweet smiles to all the guests!

We had some delicious catering from Darby O’Sullivans which our guests could partake in light fare throughout the evening and a custom made Hummingbird icecream from Wally’s Homemade Icecream Shoppe located in downtown Fredericksburg! Apparently they are magical and can turn any flavour you like into a custom icecream! Boy, do I have a few flavour combinations in mind that I’d love to try out… Maybe for my next party.

The wonderful and energetic Bill Carroll was our DJ and entertainment for the evening. He is a well known DJ in Virginia and he makes the party HAPPEN! He uses his many years experience in the business to read the room properly and brings the right energy to the crowd. With as many events and weddings as I photograph, I can say with certainty having the wrong DJ can really put a huge damper on the overall experience. With that in mind we knew we wanted someone kind, energetic and fun to keep the party on it’s feet. It doesn’t matter if you have a party of 10 or a party of 1000, trust Bill Carroll to do an outstanding job with a smile on! He’s an absolute pleasure to be around and took to the theme with open arms!

VENUE: A. Smith Bowman Distillery
CUPCAKES: Sweet Reasons
DJ: Bill Carroll Entertainment

I had a great time making the centerpieces and the runners, which included pieces of old novels on burlap because Kim is a writer. Purple was obviously my go to colour – it being the colour of Kims dress and hair for the evening! I ordered watch pieces to do the “cake” topper ‘K’ from All Geared Up on Etsy, as well as mixed some wooden laser cut and random metal embellishments into it. The cupcake liners and gear toppers were also ordered on Etsy through Paperfiction and Thick & Thin Designs. Because Kim loves original artwork and networking with other artists in Fredericksburg, I set up an Arts & Celebration Station. Guests could paint their very own 2×2 canvas square to be framed in a collage for a one of a kind keepsake. I also set up a typewriter which each guest could create an continue a dramatic tale by reading what the person before them wrote and typing a paragraph of their own to keep the story going. The party was a ton of fun and I am excited to share it with you!

Acrylic Gear Cupcake Toppers: Thick and Thin Designs
Laser Cut Gear Wraps: Paperfiction

Happy birthday, Kimberly! We hope this one will be remembered for decades to come!

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So, Let’s Go To The Punk Rock Show. : Grog and Tankard : Stafford, VA

I acquired my first camera, a Nikon FG SLR, at the age of 14. I kept a journal on my triangle of exposure and how it affected the photos upon their return from the lab. I took my beautiful friends out to beautiful places to stage beautiful shots of beautiful things. Nothing beats learning on a film camera. If anyone asks what my most favourite photo I’ve ever taken was I could easily recall it was on a film camera. My best friend Joel and his majestic beard glowing in the sunset as we watched it descend over a provincial park. He was laughing at something I had said. It not only caught a genuine moment between friends, it had that BEAUTIFUL film grain and look to it that you cannot reproduce on a digital camera.

When I went digital at 18 years old, my shooting life changed. I’d bring my camera everywhere and shoot everything and not worry about buying film and spending money developing it. I started going to punk and metal shows in local downtown bars and shooting the nightlife. I was NOT very good at it. Even though people told me I was, for the most part it was kindness from friends who had someone with a nice camera to shoot their shows. Their support in my craft meant the world to me, just like my support showing up at their shows did to them. It was a different, darker and more appealing scene to me from the beautiful flowers and friends I had practiced on in the past. Much harder to master, too. If you load up my ipod, you will still find the music I most listen to from the local punk musicians back home. I love the light, airy, colourful weddings I shoot, but there is something comforting and fun I feel when going back to shooting punk shows. As if I’m going back to my roots of where I began calling myself a photographer. Shooting live music is always challenging, but very rewarding!

Recently I was asked to shoot a show that consisted of a couple pop-punk bands, a psychobilly band and a horror rockn’roll band at the Grog and Tankard bar near Stafford, VA. Arriving I felt like an old fogey. I was tired. It was loud. I kept running through the 23407 things I needed to do. When the bands finally started I was ready for bed. Even though the crowd that night was sparse, the bands on stage had the energy that really kicked things off for me. I adored them. I wished the bar was full of my musician friends who would all have one foot up on the stage, a fist in the air, and a beer in their hands for these guys. It rekindled my love for late nights and live music. I was able to see three out of the four bands that night – Set to Sail, The Limit Club and By The Graveyard Tree. Now, most of my clients reading this wouldn’t really be into horror punk but if you are, definitely check them out. I can’t say my secret love for punk is that secret to those who know me best – my bachelorette party was a live bar show with my favourite local bands as were the three birthdays I had before that. After I got out of my old lady shell (27 is old lady now, right?) I had such a great time.  I’ll definitely be looking for these bands to come back around locally. I’ll be honest, I’m kicking myself for not buying a Limit Club CD. Thankfully, things like ReverbNation exist where you can buy the music online!

The Limit Club

By The Graveyard Tree

Set to Sail

Se To SailThe Limit Club By The Graveyard Tree

Muggs Leone: Fredericksburg, VA

The spring rain is coming a little bit late in the season, but before we were inundated with grey skies and wet feet I had a chance to shoot some headshots (and other fun shots!) for a local young actor. Muggs Leone is in my opinion a rare gem amongst kids his age. Rarely do you find him bored or at a standstill. If he is not busy getting A’s across the board at Fredericksburg Academy, he is grabbing his stuff and zipping out the door to make one of his many extra curricular activities happen. This little guy can do it all. He is busy learning and practicing everything from piano and voice to swimming and chess. If you’re into local FXBG theatre like I am, you’ve definitely seen Mr. Leone on stage. He has made debuts with several theatre groups and continues to build his extensive resume all at the age of 12. He’s been cast with Riverside Dinner theatre, Stage Door Productions, and Fredericksburg Theatre Ensemble – to name a few.

The way Muggs speaks about the things he is doing is passionate and exciting, all with a sparkle in his eye. This talented fella has big summer plans for modelling and in the fall will be attending an arts-centric school to further build on his skills and learn new ones. That is one thing I love about this kid – he is always learning and trying new things. No fear for this one! His kind and inquisitive nature means he can be found on his Kindle grabbing a new recipe for dinner (and yes, he does cook, too!) or sneaking off to the Butcher to buy his mom her favourite icecream as a surprise. Big heart, big smile, big talent.

We can’t forget to mention BB Leone, Muggs’ trusted loyal companion. BB is a American Staffordshire Terrier that he rescued from the shelter through Bully Paws as a birthday gift. I told you – big heart! BB and Muggs are well known to frequent the downtown area on family walks and patio brunches. It won’t be long before this unique and determined boy makes his way into your heart or onto your screen!

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Belle Grove Plantation

One of the things I am constantly flabbergasted by since moving to Virginia is the history a stones throw away. No matter where you are, there’s events or people or places that have captivated the cameras and minds of tourists and locals alike. I was lucky enough to experience a bridal event at the beautiful Belle Grove Plantation in King George. Did you know : That’s where President James Madison was BORN? Pretty cool stuff. Especially for me, because I love learning about this beautiful area I’ve moved to! There’s even more history about the property than I was originally aware of and learned about after I went home and read more on their website.

When I walked up to the house, I was in complete awe. I was greeted at the door and given a tour right away! I’m pretty sure I drooled a little bit at the beautiful rooms they keep. I adore historic buildings and I could have just moved in right then and there if they’d have had me! I mean, I can just see me walking the property with my delicate parasol and fan, or having a sweet tea on the upper balcony watching over the waterfront. MMMHMM. I used to be a historic interpreter back home so I definitely love to romanticize and live out those days in history. I was the Blacksmiths wife, and I was horrible at keeping the fire going. No joke, my faux husband wanted to divorce me because every time he left for lunch, he’d come back and the fire was out. However I did sneakily make spoons and tongs while he was gone.

I was set up in the gorgeous library where my booth was surrounded by books and trinkets and lovely furniture. I did not get around to meeting a lot of the vendors because I was at my booth, but before hand I snuck around snapping some photos! Links below are from the vendors I was able to check out before the day started. So whether you want a wedding hosted or a romantic weekend away in a southern gem – I highly suggest this location!

Belle Grove Plantation

That’s My Dress Bridal & Prom

Edible Weddings

Not Your Mother’s Cupcakes

Emily Elizabeth Music

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Esther Servais: Dancer and Dreamer.

I first saw Esther Servais dance when she brought a chair on stage and made it a prop in her devastatingly emotional take on Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper. She was doing an intermission piece for the Fredericksburg Theatre Ensemble’s production: Daughter of Job, which was written by local playwright Doug Hodges. It was about a dancer who eventually would succumb to ALS.

Hope. Passion. Esther moved in a way that was powered dedication and practice. That night she managed to break down an entire audience and then emotionally rebuild them by sweeping them away in the feeling of sadness and brokenness – and then movement by movement instill hope, strength and perseverance. It was beautiful.

I was very lucky to have been asked to photograph Esther for the May issue of  Rappahanock Magazine. Author Kimberly Leone wrote an amazing piece Miss Esther and her body of work and who she is. Please go check out the article, because it says all the things I wish I could say! I am not a wordsmith by any means – I use my photos to tell a story. Blogging for me is a multiple day affair and I would rather keep the words short and the photos large!

For the article we traveled to Dollhouse Pole Fitness in Manassas, VA for a very eye opening night of things I only wish my body would do. The studio was filled with poles and hoops suspended from the rafters and everything about it was fun and high energy. Von Brianna is the lovely lady who runs the fitness classes and assures me I can do anything in there! I think I would be a terrified mess thinking of all the ways I was about to break my neck, save for the fact that last year was the first time I could touch my toes… but somehow I believe her. She is the ring leader of empowerment. This studio is filled with women who have the strength and courage to defy gravity, and Esther goes on to prove it.

Pole fitness is a far cry from what people assume when you say “pole dance”. It has blossomed into a respectable and very awe inspiring pastime and fitness regime. The level of commitment, flexibility, training and stamina that goes into it is incredible. When was the last time you attempted a successful set of pull ups or monkey bars? Yeah. I don’t remember either. I quietly worked my way around the studio taking in all the movements that seemed to disregard gravity and the repercussions of this theory, and watched these women make themselves into calculated feathers in the wind. It was amazing, and I would definitely recommend these classes to people looking for a challenge and new passion in their lives!

Please enjoy these photographs of Esther Servais as she brings us through the journey of a Pole and Lyra (hoop) class at Dollhouse Pole Fitness Studios!

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Gardening Like A Growing Up Grown-Up.

Spring has sprung and summer weather is coming. In Virginia, that means miserably hot and humid days. While it’s still relatively cool and bright I am left wanting to create a beautiful green space to sit and have coffee with Pintrest and my 28 cats. Okay, I don’t have 28 cats, but I do feed a lot of strays who are hopefully going to find homes through Meow Stories in the future! (www.meowstories.org to adopt, foster, or donate!)

I definitely do not have a big space to garden. In fact, I really don’t have one at all. I’m working with patio gardening and a 2.5 x 1ft patch of soil. In the past I’ve planted gorgeous zinnias that attracted all sorts of beautiful butterflies and moths. I adored them! However, after a couple of years of that I find myself wanting to do something different. I toyed with the idea of fantastical layered-milk painted-vintage-Pintrest filled greenery for my space, but after realizing I was getting in deeper than my timeframe would allow I took a look at the resources I already had and went from there.

Every year for my birthday my mom would get me a dainty and elegant little porcelain doll from the Enesco Growing Up Girls Collection. I remember being so excited to see which new ones would be out for the year. They started off blonde, like me, then at about 6 or 7 I started to receive the brunettes as a gift since my hair was going dark the way of my fathers. I collected them and kept them high on my shelf where I could not knock them over – because believe me – back then if it was breakable and it was near me, you’d be spending the rest of your night with some super glue. While moving about my room, I had decided the dolls would be better placed on a shelf in the basement area instead of my bedroom. I did not want to spend the time wrapping them up in tissue and putting them in a box to move, so I used the tool every kid knows to be the best for moving all objects and had carefully placed them into my bright orange backpack with one working strap (FUN FACT: No matter the brand – my backpacks would always break the first day/week of school. It was a strange curse). Well, needless to say, that did not end well! Hindsight of a child and all, right? The fact that the backpack was bright orange did not prevent it from taking a trip down the staircase after being placed on the floor.

Fast forward into the future and you meet adult me preparing to move my Enesco dolls from the basement to not only a different room, but a whole new country! I had learned my lesson the first time. The surviving girls were bubble wrapped, news papered, tissue wrapped and then further wrapped in scarves and then boxed – in which those boxes were then buffered with bubble wrap in a hard shell suitcase. They were ready to go! But nothing prepares objects for the rollercoaster that is apparently Siobhan Young vs United Airlines. I have a love/hate relationship flying United. The love comes from the fact they have never killed me in a plummeting, fiery death. The hate comes from the fact that every time I have to check my bags with them something goes horribly awry. One time they sent my luggage to a different state and then claimed for 3 days that I never flew with them. So really, I should have known better than to entrust my  breakable keepsakes with their checked baggage in the first place. I couldn’t glue most of them back together since they were quite literally dust. I was heartbroken. In a few short hours a lifetime of memories were crushed up and sitting at the bottom of my suitcase.

Fast-Fast Forward into the present and you see my amazing and loving husband who knew this story and for Christmas went on Amazon and Ebay and replaced my entire Enesco Growing Up Girls Collection and even added the very last one – the bride. *Queue romantic music* So why did I blog about this Enesco-Fiasco in the first place? Well remember back at the start of this blog I was talking about using my resources to garden? That entails me getting my crafty craft on and using the leftover pieces of porcelain dolls that I kept.

I decided my garden this year was going to be less extravagant and run of the mill, and I was going to get creative with it. I love, love, love succulents thanks to my mother who kept an array of them on our kitchen windowsill in beautiful little planters. So I decided to pick up some Hens and Chicks and go from there. Boy, did I have fun! This little space totally reflects me. I have a mixture of teacups, cats, dinosaurs and cameras, all being used to propagate Sempervivum!  I broke out the glass to an old Yashica lens and SLR camera body from my vintage camera collection. It was much more difficult to break that lens glass than I had anticipated – who knew!

I would like to add to my tiny Me-Space as time goes by – but for now I’m pleased as punch at what I have created. The fact that I could create what I feel is a beautiful piece of art out of broken keepsakes makes me feel like I am honouring the effort and memories my mother gave me every birthday. The growth of the plants from the broken pieces is almost symbolic of life and well, growing up. Gives a whole new meaning to the Growing Up Girls.

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Geeks Gone Easter.

More and more, holidays seem to be centralized around the children in our lives.  The candy, the toys, the people dressed in costumes ready to take your money in exchange for terrifying your child and making them cry…  Well, no offence kids, but I’m here to take holidays back! I want candy! I want toys! And darn it all – I want people to stop telling me I’m too old to visit the mall Santa!

So what does a married couple do when they have no children of their own to hide eggs for on Easter?

PFFFF. You hide eggs for your totally awesome husband who is the biggest kid you will ever have :) Then you make him find the chocolate so you can eat it when he’s not looking. Let’s face it, between the two of us, we pretty much made our home our own childhood dream. When we married each other, we merged our vintage game collections as well as our love for geek culture. He is a comic book geek and I am a huge fantasy nerd. The décor around our home widely reflects that, and also reminds me that I need to dust more often. My darling husband didn’t really understand at first that I intended for him to collect the candy, put it in a nice basket and then let me eat it all. He had assumed that I just decorated with the candy! Without blinking he was able to tell me where I “hid” most of the eggs! I’m going to remember this next time he doesn’t notice the dishes needing to be done.. I will just start leaving candy in the area chores need to be completed. Bosses, listen up – motivate your team!

Reminder to all adults that today is now discount candy day! If you are sans children like me you don’t have to share with anyone! If you do have children, use the discount candy for bribes at opportune times. (but you probably shouldn’t take parenting advice from me. I’m just a cat-mom. An overly sugared up cat-mom.)

I hope everyone out there had a Happy Easter!

Geek Easter

I Did This Thing…

I have been busting my behind lately trying to get some new promotional items and marketing out for this year. I must say I am pleased as punch that I was able to showcase some of my hard work at the That’s My Dress! Love Story Bridal & Prom Fashion Show this past weekend. I am over the moon about my new line of art products that show off the love stories and unique personalities of my clients! I even had brides asking to be friends with the people in my photos – and THAT my lovelies is what capturing personalities is all about! I plan on doing another blog showcasing the beautiful art work I am offering but will drop a few photos in this blog for good measure.

Siobhan Young Photography Bridal

As usual, I love meeting new people and catching up with those I already know. It was exciting to see all the beautiful work from the other vendors – I know what a labour of love their crafts truly are. The tablescape I fell in love with was decorated by Memorable Moments and definitely caught my eye and camera! I ADORED the whimsical Alice and Wonderland tea set (that I am now on a mega quest to find and own!) and everything was so sparkly and bright. Speaking of pretty things, Affairs By Ayers was the vendor booth next to mine and I just had to snap some shots of her beautiful bouquets and floral décor. I also grabbed some photos of the cakes and treats by Cakes In Art, Lil Tea’s Specialty Desserts and Crumb & Get It. I’m so impressed by what these companies can  accomplish with edible products! I definitely recommend popping over to the That’s My Dress facebook page to check out a list of vendors they had. The ones I am showcasing in the below photographs can be found at:

Memorable Moments & Party Elegance
Affairs by Ayers
Cakes In Art
Crumb & Get It
Lil Tea’s Specialty Desserts
That’s My Dress Bridal & Prom

I definitely had to pop over to the fashion show side and enjoy the dresses that were showcased by That’s My Dress Bridal and Prom. I kind of want to own them all so I can have my own princess tea party because let’s face it, I’ve already graduated and am married so I could use an excuse to buy one of them! I’ve already picked out my David Tutera dress for my vow renewals! I mean, so what if those are a decade and a half away, right? ;)

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Siobhan Young Photography Bridal

O Lorien! The Winter Comes.

We here in Virginia got a slight bit of winter weather, so the inner hobbit in me grabbed my best gal Friday and screamed “WE’RE GOING ON AN ADVENTURE”. My wonderful model braved the snow on a beautiful and crisp winter day to help me make some stunning images. I am a huge fan of the works of Tolkien, so this shoot was inspired by my longing for his world to be my own. At first concept I took more of a fairy approach over an elven one, but in the end the sad song of forgotten lore called to me.  Enjoy <3

Galadriel’s Song of Eldamar
-J.R.R Tolkien

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.

Elven Siobhan Young Photography
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now fall the Elven-tears.

Elven Siobhan Young Photography
O Lórien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.
O Lórien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.

Elven Siobhan Young Photography
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?