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What Would They Know? Peta Calvert & Shari Trimble of We Are Alchemy Photography

by | Photography Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Our life journeys often take us to unexpected places we would never have considered – but suddenly the door opens and a new opportunity presents itself. One such door opened for Peta (formerly of Maho & Pea) to join forces with Shari to form the new partnership of We Are Alchemy Photography. This brand new collaboration between very different, yet kindred spirits brings a fresh perspective to their photography. With their relaxed and unobtrusive approach, Peta and Shari will put you at ease, so that you won’t even notice they are photographing you. Throw in a great sense of humour and fun, and booking these girls might just be the best wedding decision you make! 2015 is gonna be a big year!

Can you tell us about how We Are Alchemy was born?
Shari: I met Peta at a photography workshop and just had a feeling we would become friends. She seemed interesting and cool and I thought “yeah I could do with a little bit of that in my life”. I had no idea how that would play out however, and least of all the way that it did.
Peta: Fast forward to late 2013 and I found myself diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Having left my day job to shoot weddings full time, I found myself faced with the dilemma of “what if I can’t work through my busiest wedding season while going through a myriad of treatments and surgeries.’ I reached out to Shari to see if she could be a “help, we need backup!” person and very quickly our friendship was formed. Shari was able to step in on the few occasions when I was having surgeries and filled her boots perfectly. Over time, my then partner in business decided to pursue other avenues and it only seemed natural to pair up together to continue the adventure!

What do each bring to your new partnership?
Shari: I thought I was organised until I met Peta! And in the absence of that being such a requirement from me I have become a bit more free flowing. So where she has the day prepared down to the minute (thank god) I find that leaves me better able to think on the spot when things don’t go to plan. I am also pretty short compared to her…oh OK compared to most adults then. So we seem to view the world slightly differently. Which makes for totally different perspectives and angles when shooting.
Peta: Both Shari and I have been taking photos since we were teens, way back when photography was offered at school and we could spend hours and hours in the darkroom. I ended up working predominantly in the music industry and with bubs and families. I like to think that we both have the same personable nature about us, quiet achievers in a way that helps our couples to feel comfortable and at ease.

How would you describe your photography style? Do your styles differ from each other?
Shari: This is such a common question with such poorly executed responses…truly I have been looking for one for some time now that I can steal and use for myself. In all seriousness though I think the reason is that labelling your style as one particular thing can in many ways limit the expansion of it, and the morphing of it into something completely different. This is basically my excuse for having not come up with a good set of adjectives for the images I make…
Peta: We both have a very similar aesthetic and will be quick to say the other is the better photographer!! Shari was my go to when I was going through treatment for the simple reason that I felt she viewed the world in the same way I did and shared the same appreciation for little moments and values as a whole.

Does your new partnership with each other, inspire you to new creative areas and endeavours?
Shari: We have come to photography from different paths, Peta has had formal training and I am often picking her brain about such things. Obviously this is of great benefit to me but I think too that the way my mind comes to query helps her see things in a different light also…
Peta: For me personally I am looking forward to working with someone new, after working with my other-half for a few years. Being able to bounce ideas with someone new is an integral part in keeping my creative ideas fresh and new.

How do life experiences shape you as a photographer?
Shari: I still work part time in my Osteopathic clinic and so observing life and people is something that comes naturally to me these days. I feel it has given me a useful eye for body positions and lines and also insight into how people relate. All tools that have translated well into photography for me. Who would have thought!
Peta: Oh what a good question and a tough one to answer! I have personally had the most unorthodox and crazy upbringing that I like to think has prepared me for anything that life throws my way. It also makes for a natural ability to adapt to different family situations, relationships and to get the best out of our clients. Having lost parents myself gives me experience in dealing with the sensitivities around those who may be missing loved ones who cannot be there to share their big day. Being a parent myself helps with gently prying out a smile from the shyest of flower girls or roping in a rascal page boy.
The crazy life experiences also help to notice life around you, not to take anything for granted and to see the world in a different light. It can be surprising the photos that our clients love best, they’re usually not the ones they asked for or had on their ‘must have’ list, more often they’re little moments shared when they don’t realise anyone is watching. Having an appreciation of life and its beauty definitely helps us to find those moments anywhere.

Is it the wedding guests and their natural expressions that attract you – or the other 101 little details that you love to capture?
Shari: I really had to learn detail shots as I naturally gravitated towards images of peoples reactions and expressions. I am totally addicted now and can’t wait to see what little creations people have put together and how I can capture with that same enthusiasm.
Peta: A bit of everything to be honest. I’m a sucker for gorgeous detail and even the detail that you wouldn’t expect to look back on and remember fondly. Couples put so much effort into planning their day so capturing that is important to us and to them, those little touches can easily be forgotten over time so what better way to relive the beauty than through photography. Add to that the people, emotions and unexpected events that can happen on any day and its all a pretty wonderful experience to be a part of.

How do you remain unobtrusive on the wedding day, so that people are not conscious of you and your camera?
Shari: I’ve spent my whole life trying not to be noticed so this feels kind of normal to me…plus I am small and can duck and weave!
Peta: We often tell the couple that for the first hour or so they’ll feel quite conscious of us being there. After immersing ourselves a little in the day, chatting to the bridesmaids, groomsmen, family and visitors we find they relax pretty quickly. Finding that connection is important and before you know it they really just see us as part of the bridal party! Only recently we had a mother of the bride come and hug us at the end of the evening, telling us a story of when her son was married the photographer was quite abrasive, bossy and demanding. She was almost in tears with relief at how we blended into the day and how that restored her faith in the whole process!
It also helps being someone that HATES having their photograph taken so its easy to relate to how foreign and uncomfortable it can feel at first!

Do you plan your wedding shoots to the last detail with the couple, or do you maintain ‘freshness’ by capturing what inspires you on the day?
Shari: Did I mention Peta is super organised? Rather than this limiting our ability to be flexible, interestingly I feel this allows us both to relax a bit more and remain creative. However life is full of nuances and many a time we’ve been known to wing it in the face of unexpected change!
Peta: We tend to base it on the individual couple. Some will have shots they want and things they feel are important to capture. Others will need direction and advice. We provide a questionnaire to our clients that lets them enter in the little details throughout the planning which gives us a very good insight into what is important to them. Often all the plans will go out the window so it’s important that we can think on our feet and work under pressure and time constraints whilst giving them the best of ourselves. We will always have a plan up our sleeve however its important to be adaptable yet organised at the same time.

Do you most like to shoot a wedding when you have been given complete creative freedom?
Shari: Does this truly happen? I think there is always some level or understanding from both parties that has to take place or I can definitely see this coming a cropper. But I would like to think that couples make a choice based on what they have seen of your work, and therefore trust that you will capture them and the moments that are important to them from their day in away that everyone is pleased with.0
Peta: I think most photographers will say a big YES to this, however sometimes its nice to have a bit of both. Often our clients ideas will inspire us and feed our own creativity however there’s nothing better than a couple who are open to input and ideas you may offer them. Sneaking them out at sunset or for a full moon shot is always a winner and those who are adventurous at heart or don’t mind doing something out of the ordinary are our ideal clients!

Do you like to keep your images natural as possible – whether that be in ‘poses’ (or lack of..) or post production editing?
Shari: I have always shot film because that is all that I knew until recently, in the last few years, when I started using a DSLR. When I take a shot I see different films in my head and I have an idea of the colours and tones of the moment which are very different to the jpg render on screen. So I do my best to get the exposure and composition correct but still have to edit to make it appear as it was in my mind’s eye.
Peta: Outside of the family portraits we try to keep things as natural as possible. Most couples will need a bit of prompting but for the most part we like to leave them to their own devices so that their true relationship shines through. I’m a big fan of giving the couple a long list of cryptic instructions which they’ll obviously forget and then capturing the natural hilarity that ensues once they both realise they have no idea what they’re doing.
‘Walk down that path, stop at the tree, look back over your left shoulder, have a smooch, spin the bride around then look into each others eyes and hug’. It’s a guarantee that they’ll get to the tree, feel ridiculous and break into giggles and a natural interaction that really can’t be posed. Now I realise they’ll be on to me after reading this and see it coming!

Please describe a typical wedding photography working day for you?
Most days we try to arrive to the bride just after the hair and makeup artists get started. There are so many little events and moments that happen in the lead up to the ceremony itself and it gives us a chance to help the bride relax in our company and eventually forget we’re there. From there we scoot over to the groom and his merry men and do the same. Often the groom has it so easy and we’ll arrive to find them lazing around, having a spa, playing golf or calming their nerves at the pub. Back to the bride for the last details such as getting dressed and ready to leave; often a pretty exciting part of the day as its when things start to sink in and the nerves start to show.
Off to the ceremony, introductions to the celebrant or minister and a bit of mingling with the guests. Then before we know it we’re both weaving in and out of the events through the ceremony. Depending on the package our clients have booked, we may finish up as the reception is starting or we may end up there till the very end snapping some awesome dance floor action.

What are your dreams for the future of We Are Alchemy?
Shari: Multiple trips to the loo…I am a nervous excreter! True story…
Peta: I’m not sure I can compete with Shari’s response!

What do you like to do when not shooting weddings?
Shari: I like to do little personal photography projects to keep me fresh and explore more creative ideas that hopefully transfer over into my wedding work. Otherwise you can find me on my yoga mat or running with my fella, his little boy, and our two furry mutts.
Peta: Ironically I am planning my own wedding this year, pinteresting ideas like crazy and putting myself in the shoes of our clients! In the little down time I have its all about family (having just become a (step) grandma!) our furbabies, good coffee and mini getaways wherever we can squeeze them in…and yoga…and running…and swimming…and music…and chocolate, not necessarily in that order!

Thank you Peta and Shari for sharing your story with us. To find out more about We Are Alchemy Photography visit the website.

All images courtesy of We Are Alchemy Photography.

The Launch Of Noel Nassar Events

by | Event Reviews, Wisdom


Katherine Eleyce


From the moment I arrived at the Wedded Wonderland headquarters, I was overwhelmed with beauty, couture and an impeccable attention to detail that we have come to expect from the exquisite work of Noel Nassar. Welcomed by cheerful wait staff, bubbles and a variety of beverages before being photographed against the media wall with Noel himself if you were lucky!

copper luxe

copper luxe 1

Once inside the venue (Wedded Wonderland’s HQ) guests were greeted with a kaleidoscopic array of décor, each fitting to one of the three installations – Soho High Tea, Copper Luxe & Hamptons Style. With a supplier list of Sydney’s finest bridal and events specialists, each installation was more spectacular than the next. Overflowing with colour coordinated embellishments including candles, sweets, flowers and much more, guests were mesmerized by the detail that was before them. As beautiful as each display was, my favourite was the Soho High Tea which was created from shades of pink macarons, greenery, and stacks of elegant teacups. With the accompanying couture looks of Steven Khalil, Alana Aoun, Daniela Stephanie and Viktoria Novak, Soho High Tea was like stepping into a fairytale world; complete perfection.

Noel Arriving with MC Rachel and guest Tanya0001

Amongst the flow of champagne, sangria and delicious canapés from Dan the Man Catering, guests were treated to an entertaining floral display from Flowers by Mercedes. Over the course of 20 minutes, Mercedes took the audience through both male and female flowers and how to get the best life span from them. The performance also ended with an artful demonstration in flower arrangement with one lucky guest taking the gorgeous arrangement home for herself.

As the night drew to a close, we heard from Wendy of Wedded Wonderland, the darling Rachael Bentick from Inlighten Photography and of course Noel himself who was delighted with the support he had received from both guests and suppliers. Upon leaving the event, guests were handed an artfully presented gift bag, which was definitely one for the record books! Overflowing with sweets, hand made ornaments such as candle holders, iron wreaths, and delicate wrist cuffs, each gift was beautifully packaged; a superb end to the evening.

This night was about Noel Nassar Events giving us an insight into their vivid imaginations and showing that not even the sky limits what they can create. As Noel said throughout the night, “We look after the little things because the big things look after themselves.” Having each intricate detail taken care of by the creative experts at Noel Nassar Events ensures you a stress free occasion that meets your even your wildest dreams.

Every aspect of this night was picture perfect and I can’t wait to see what Noel and his team comes up with next!

alan aoun at hamptons

noel and soho0001

flowers by merceds

dan the man catering     mc rachael bentick

hamptons style

noel nassar and cake

soho high tea0001

soho high tea0002

soho high tea0003

soho high tea0005

soho high tea0006

Photos by GM Photographics

What Would They Know? Julia Doeven of Julia’s Celebrancy Services

by | Ceremony Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

From fun themed weddings to relaxed backyard weddings Julia’s Celebrancy Services celebrates them all with her infectious smile and sense of fun. Being part of this very personal life transition with all the guests dressed in their best, anticipating a wonderful celebration, excitement in the air, must be the best feeling!  Celebrating love  – now that’s the best job! And for brides marrying in 2015 and beyond – keep an eye on Julia’s site for the launch of her new venture – Julia’s Celebrant Agency launching in January 2015.

Why did you become a celebrant?

When I decided to become a Celebrant I was just 20 years old. I was waitressing at a beautiful winery and wedding venue in the Yarra Valley and I LOVED arriving at work early so I could stand and watch the wedding ceremony before my shift started. Regardless of which couple was getting married I remember always being so engaged in the ceremony and just loved how they made me feel. So happy, elated, emotional… and I was always so interested in the Celebrants and thought I could very happily do their job and would love every bit of it! My Mum also thought that a young Celebrant in the market was a brilliant idea so her encouragement definitely motivated me to sit the course and I’m so glad I did!

How are you different from other celebrants?

Where do I start?? Haha. The obvious difference is my age and effervescence. I can’t help but get excited by a wedding! This combined with my ambitious and entrepreneurial personality certainly helps create point of difference between other Celebrants and myself. I genuinely love what I do and this shows through each wedding ceremony and how I conduct my business.

Image by Michael Briggs Photography

What do you love about a wedding?

There is SO MUCH to love about a wedding! For me it is that heart warming energy in the air. Everyone is excited and looking their best and they have all come together to celebrate! I love the unplanned bursts of emotion. The tears in the parents eyes; the gasps from the crowd when the radiant bride enters the room or …. that look of pure love between the couple at unexpected times. It is the best! Love is the best!

How do you start to write the ceremony vows – what is the starting point?

I encourage all my couples to write their own vows, or if they are terrified of this task, I say just go with something classic and simple! I provide a good spread of simple vows if they want to choose from my collection. I say choose something timeless that wont sound silly if you say them again on your 50th wedding anniversary.

If writing your own vows a good way to start is to think about the word vow… What is a vow? It means a solemn promise. So the idea is not to write a massive love story or get caught up in how it sounds. Get back to the basics and think about what you want to promise to each other. With just that in mind, vows already seem much easier to write and much more heartfelt and meaningful. Oh… and it’s good to mention the word love… at least once! :o)

Image courtesy of Julia’s Celebrancy Services

Are you known for having a particular ‘style’?

I sure am! I’m the “short and sweet” Celebrant! My motto at Julia’s Celebrancy Services is “Fun, Sincere and Relaxed” and the best way to achieve this is to not waffle on too much! Everyone is there to celebrate so I try make my ceremonies as engaging as possible by cutting out the boring stuff and stick to engaging stories, meaningful vows and a happy upbeat tone throughout the whole ceremony.

Are there any special words or gestures that you’ve been part of lately that you feel have made that ceremony all the more special?

Lately I’m noticing a big shift in the way that bridal parties are chosen and used throughout the ceremony and it is an awesome change! Couples are either choosing to go completely without a bridal party so they can really use their marriage as the focus of the ceremony, or else they are choosing a bridal party based on how much they love and value that person, regardless of whether of not they are a male or female. To me this just makes sense! It shouldn’t be about trying to colour co-ordinate, or make your photos look symmetric by having an even number of girls on one side versus boys. My favourite gesture most recently seen was when the bride and groom really wanted their grandmothers to be involved in the ceremony and so they gave them the roles of “flower girls”!!! I have never seen two happier grannies!!

Image by Noraa Photography

Is it important for the couple to organise a rehearsal before the wedding day?

I’m very on the fence with rehearsals! I love a good rehearsal when a lot of time as passed since I’ve seen the couple as then we can reconnect and sort out a lot of last minute issues and unanswered questions. However if a couple feel happy and confident enough to ‘wing it’ on the day I am all for that too! A rehearsal is only important if it will help the couple feel more prepared and relaxed for the day.

Do you travel away from Melbourne/Victoria to conduct wedding ceremonies?

Absolutely! I love a good road trip and it’s always a good excuse to make a day out of it and see more of this beautiful country! Some of the best venues are hidden in the outer regions of Victoria and I am all the more happier to get out there and discover them!

You also have an agency. Would you tell us about it?

Yay I was hoping you’d ask me about my agency! Julia’s Celebrant Agency is the wonderfully exciting new business of mine! It’s stemmed from something that I never quite understood…. Which was… Why isn’t there a platform out there that let’s a Bride and Groom see every Celebrant’s availability straight away?? Similar to a snazzy hotel booking system??! So I’ve put together a team of lovely Celebrants who are all creative, fun and professional and I’ve found two very clever computer programmers to help me create a website whereby Brides and Grooms can search for a Celebrant using a simple enquiry form. What’s awesome is that only the Celebrants who are available on the selected wedding day (and time) will appear. Saving everyone so much time and hassle! Celebrants love it because they are only getting enquiries for days they are available, and couples love it because they save so much time in emailing trying to find out who is available!

Julia’s Celebrant Agency is launching on the 7th of January 2015 so I’m pretty pumped for this new venture of mine!

Image courtesy of Julia’s Celebrancy Services

Can you describe a typical wedding day in your life as a celebrant?

Even though most people see my job as just a “Saturday” job, I feel that it is quite the opposite. Mid week is where all my appointments, preparation and rehearsals take place, so on the weekend I’m usually pretty relaxed and have time to enjoy it like everyone else! My day usually starts with a decent sleep in (you can tell that I don’t have kids yet hey!!) and from there I like to have a decent breaky and maybe do some exercise if I’m in the mood. Chances are I’ve already packed my bag with the couples ceremony booklet and marriage certificates the day before, so all I really have to do on the day is make sure my PA system is charged and ready to go! I will use the location of the wedding to determine what my plans are that day… If it’s near my Mum or Dads house, I’ll pay them a visit before or after the wedding, or if I have time, I’ll try organize a breakfast or lunch date with a girlfriend before the wedding. I usually get to the wedding about half an hour before the ceremony starts, catch up with the groom, the people in charge of the music, any readers or musicians and then it’s show time!

Evenings are spent with my partner whether we’re at home or at social event. The life of a Celebrant is pretty fun and it gives me a lot of freedom to enjoy life just the way I like it! :o)

What is your favourite social thing to do when not working?

Eating out at new restaurants or taking a Salsa dance class!

Do you have other hobbies or interests that you pursue?

At the moment my hobbies are quite varied! I’ve been learning the Harp these last 2 years and I just sat my very first level 1 harp exam so that was a challenge! I LOVE the harp and have always wanted one, so I finally bought one a couple years ago and it’s been a slow but rewarding hobby ever since. Aside from this I am always planning the next date night with my partner or enjoying a good book or trying a new recipe. I love to cook! I also want to get really good at Salsa Dancing so I might take up some proper lessons in the near future.

Image courtesy of Julia’s Celebrancy Services

I love living in Melbourne because……

Of all the awesome food!!

Thank you Julia for sharing your story. For more information about Julia’s Celebrancy Services visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Julia’s Celebrancy Services.


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