Friday Night Kitchen Dance Party Playlist

Guys, it’s been AWHILE since I posted a playlist. Don’t worry though- the dance parties continue even when the playlists don’t! If you’re new to this, Andy and I listen to alllllllll kinds of music, and we dance to anything that basically moves us. Listen to the actual playlist on SPOTIFY here!!

Top 5 Songs on our faves list for this week:

1. San Holo- We Rise

2. Carlos Vives & Shakira- La Bicicleta

3. Deorro- Bailer

4. The Chainsmokers- Setting Fires

5. Lady Gaga- Born This Way

My 10 Favorite Engagement Locations Right Now

I shoot a ton of engagement sessions, and because I travel quite a bit for them, I wanted to share my Top 10 favorite spots right now.

Westport, MA
This gem is definitely worth checking out, especially Cherry and Webb beach.The dunes and the beach grass provide a nice little shade, and the beach itself is very pretty.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Newport Cliff Walk, Newport, RI
If you are looking for a little adventure, walk the cliff walk on your engagement shoot. At Ledge Road, you can access the cliffs, but there is no ‘legal’ parking right there. Gorgeous views from this area, to the right, the cliffs lead to a dirt walking path and down to Bailey’s beach.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Narragansett, RI
Another gorgeous area, with rocks on the beach.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

MIT, Cambridge, MA
The main building of MIT provides an incredible backdrop for engagement photos. The back of this building faces the Charles River. There is a gorgeous view of the Boston skyline.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Back Bay, Boston
What is not to love about the Back Bay neighborhood (aside from parking!). The brick sidewalks and gorgeous victorian brownstones all provide a beautiful city neighborhood feel.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA
This lush park with an array of trees, shrubs, and flowers is one of my favorite ‘park style’ places to shoot. There are so many flowering trees and shrubs at different times of the year, a perfect place every time.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

South Boston
Lettered Streets and cool neighborhoods. Lots of hills, Boston Harbor, and Thomas Park. I love the view from South Boston.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

The Harborwalk, Boston
I love this area so much, the boats, the city skyline… From the North End to the South End, the Harborwalk is one of my favorite places to be, with or without a camera!
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Boston Public Garden
This place speaks for itself. The city does require a permit to shoot here, but it’s a gorgeous spot inside the city in Beacon Hill.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, MA
Park at the summit for a few bucks and walk some of the paths just before sunset. Then at sunset, grab your lover for a few romantic photos on top of the world.
Top 10 Engagement Locations | Michele Ashley

Hannah + Sean Married | Zukas Hilltop Barn | Spencer, MA

This gorgeous wedding at Zukas Hilltop Barn is so warm and so sweet, I am so excited to share it with all of you today. Hannah and Sean met in high school in astronomy class, and have been together ever since. These two sweethearts shared a first look on their wedding day and celebrated in an incredibly decorated tent. It felt like one of those late summer days, for sure.

Hannah and Sean wanted their wedding to have a science/nature feel to it, they incorporated beakers with ferns, and sent their guests home with test tubes filled with maple syrup and honey. Seed to Stem did an incredible job pulling it all together with the floral design. This wedding was so much fun, right down to the guests pulling off some great dance moves, and most of all, the love and affection everyone had for Hannah and Sean.

H+S:
THANK YOU. You two are incredible human beings and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been the one to capture your love.

Venue: Zukas Hilltop Barn
Floral Design: Seed to Stem
Makeup + Hair: Kristen Hickman
Brides Dress: David’s Bridal
Menswear: Mens Wearhouse
DJ: Greg Bedard
Headband: Fiore Boutique
Photography: Michele Ashley

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

Zukas Hilltop Barn Wedding

How To Photograph Engagement Rings

About a year ago, I began getting questions from other photographers asking how I do this or that. I was caught off guard a little by the inquiries, because I thought, why are you asking me?
Shouldn’t you ask… someone else? Someone more qualified?

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help. I didn’t have the confidence to teach the things I knew. One of the things I promised myself this year was to put myself out there and share some of the things I know. Bear with me as I work through the kinks of teaching again (for the record, I taught special education for 5 years).

So without further adieu, let’s do this together!!

Today I’m sharing my strategy on how to photograph engagement rings (complete with camera settings).

The equipment:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 100mm 2.8 macro lens
A sparkly engagement ring

I almost always shoot in natural light. All of the images below were shot in natural light.

How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 3200
1/80 sec at f/4.5
I chose a budding hydrangea and slipped the ring over the buds.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 640
1/50 sec at f/5.0
This was shot on the UMASS Amherst campus. In one of the flower beds, I noticed the tall thick blades of grass, so I gathered them and slowly let the ring slide down.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 1000
1/80 sec at f/5.0
Shot on a closed flower (or cactus, I can’t remember!) I was shooting at a garden nursery and wanted to throw a warm pop of color against the diamond. I always try to focus on a prong, and not the diamond itself.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 640
1/125 sec at f/5.6
This was shot on the beach within one of the sand dunes. Another gathered bunch of beach grass and slipped the ring over. In my opinion, photographing the ring directly in the sand takes away from the stone.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 3200
1/25 sec at f/3.2
This shot isn’t perfect. The berries are slightly more in focus than the closest prong on the ring, but I still love the color pop and angle of the ring. The ring belongs to a couple who had a December wedding, so the red/green contrast was a great tie in.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 1000
1/100 sec at f/4.0
Clearly I love photographing engagement rings on with a pop of color when I can. In this case, there wasn’t many options for me. This was actually shot horizontally looking down at the ring (which was barely holding on). Do what you can with what you have!
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 800
1/125 sec at f/4.0
This sapphire ring spoke for itself. This was shot in late Fall and the browning of the leaves actually added some interest to the final image.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 400
1/100 sec at f/2.8
Mums became the striking background for this beautiful engagement ring.
How to photograph engagement rings
ISO 400
1/125 sec at f/3.5
I love how soft and romantic this ring shot is. There was really nowhere to put the ring, but I found a flower bed with a bunch of tangled old vines and gently placed it diamond up.

If you look at all of the settings, you will find that I almost always shoot at f/4.0 or higher. With the 100mm macro lens, you still get that beautifully blown out bokeh, even when you are not shooting wide open. Focus on the prong closest to you, not the diamond itself.

Be patient with yourself. Turn your ISO up a little higher and increase your shutter speed if you find yourself in a low light situation.

Check out my Instagram feed for more #bling
Questions? Feel free to comment below!