January 15th, 2014

“Hey, Jon!  How’s it going? What can I do for you?”

“Not much, Jake.  Thanks for answering my call.  I was wondering if you could help me out.  I have always wanted to get more into photography.  I look at your pictures all the time on Facebook and want to take as good of pictures as you do.  So I’ve been saved up $500 so I can buy a big camera like yours so I can take great photographs too.”

“…..”  (Silence and frustration, I have heard this before)

This conversation just happened to me just a few weeks back.  The Jake up there in the conversation is me–Jake Schnake.  I just joined Matt Mason Photography this year.  And in the next couple of blogs I’ll be sharing more about myself.  For now, you’ll just have to get to know me through this blog.

It’s not easy starting to plan for your wedding.  The holidays are over and your wedding may just be 6-8 months away–or maybe you’re ahead of the game booking for 2015.  You’re trying to wrap up all your remaining loose ends.  The venue, the flowers, tuxes, transportation, favors, gifts, and–most importantly–your photographer.  And then, aha!!!,  you realized your best friend’s-cousin’s-in law’s-brother had just bought a big camera.  That’s it!  He’ll do it for cheap!  I mean, if they own fancy photography equipment they must know what they’re doing with a camera!

I love being a professional photographer.  And it seems everyone else in the world loves being a “professional” photographer too.  And, why not?  Think of the technology we all carry in our hands–cell phones with cameras.  We have instagram and other amazing apps that crop, edit, and can even add instant effects.  And most people don’t stop there.  They invest in a “good” camera so that they can be  “good” photographer.  That’s the way it works, right?  If I just buy a fancy camera, it will automatically make me a professional photographer.  Not quite.  Its like asking your baker what oven he uses so you can make cakes like she does.  Or next time you have a great meal at a restaurant ask the chef what kind of pots and pans they use so you can make a meal just as tasty.

I have a friend who owns a wood flooring business.  Once in a while if he is really busy, I will help him out for a few hours.  He has been working with wood for years and that experience has paid off.  We both have the same hammer, tape measure, cats paw, utility knife, knee pads, saws, and fingers.  But why is he so much better at it than I am?  Why is he so much faster?  Why doesn’t my gear (and fancy tool belt) make me an artist with wood?  Because it is an art: making sure all the wood fits tight together and is square, taking worn out wood and sanding it down to its natural beauty, and working out the bumps to make the wood feel like glass.  No one could immediately do an amazing job, even if they had 40k in flooring gear.  It takes time, experience, mistakes, and commitment  in addition to your equipment to be a tailored professional.

It’s probably true in your profession and it is the same reality with photography.  Everyone really isn’t a professional photographer just because of their equipment  and only spending $500 isn’t going to make you one either.  And do you really want your  best friend’s-cousin’s-in law’s-brother  taking your photos on your wedding day (unless that happens to be one of us, of course).  There is a lot more involved in wedding photography that just pictures and fancy cameras.  You have to work well with people.  You need to keep those people on line, troubleshoot problems that arise, work with the family to organize them for family photos, coax inebriated groomsmen into cooperating for just a few more minutes, be prepared to capture moments that can be gone in an instant, plan out scenic backdrops during the right time of day, show a day of slideshow without any glitches, work around inclement weather, and I could go on and on.

My point is to show you that wedding photography is not an easy career.  There is a lot of pressure and it takes a certain personality and professionalism to get you through it.  And that is who you want to hire.  Matt, Kerry, and I have all been in the wedding industry for about eight years and we have been a part of a lot of weddings (close to 500 combined).  That is a lot experience.  And that is the professionalism and ability you want on your wedding day.


Comments Off

Great Wedding Show Weekend!

January 13th, 2014

We love wedding shows for a lot of reasons.  Primarily because they are just a lot of fun.  We get to meet hundreds of recently engaged brides who are beginning the exciting (0r daunting?) task of planning their wedding.  Sometimes we even get to meet a couple of the engagee’s–the groom, that is–who often prefer carrying the food rather than the flyers.  They at least appear to be having fun.

On Saturday, January 11, the Grand Geneva Hosted their Wedding Showcase with dozens of brides (and, of course, their entourage).  Many stopped by our photobooth to get a couple quick glamour shots.  We met so many wonderful people and are looking forward to working together both this year and in 2015.

Grand Geneva

The next day we quickly transitioned our booth to Strawberry Creek’s wedding show in Kenosha, WI.  We had a tremendous outcome there as well.  It is exciting to see how quickly Strawberry Creek has grown their facility into such a beautiful wedding venue.  Both Grand Geneva and The Club Strawberry Creek are excellent venues to host wedding receptions and outdoor ceremonies!

The Club at Strawberry Creek




Comments Off

Amanda & Brian Pour the Dirt

May 4th, 2013

Amanda and Brian are my neighbors.  Literally they live about a 5 iron golf shot away.  Amanda’s dad is a fun friend on Facebook and we have tons of interconnected friendships.  So today was really special.  Amanda was stunning and Brian looked dapper.  Renee, owner of Frontier Flowers did an outstanding job on the flowers.  The Starline looked amazing.  Angelus, of Walworth, WI did the decorating.  I was blown away with the organic, over-the-top custom designed wedding reception they accomplished!!!  Wow!  Check out some of the photos from the reception.It was a picture perfect day.  Celebrations on Wells catered a delicious meal and did a wonderful job of serving.  All around this wedding was a home run.  Nice work Amanda and family for pulling this all together! Below are a few of my favorite shots.




During their ceremony Amanda and Brian poured dirt over a tree they will plant at their home.  I love this alternative to the lighting of the candle or the sand ceremony.


To view the entire gallery from Amanda & Brian’s wedding follow this link.
















Comments Off


February 9th, 2013


Comments Off

Matt Mason Photography receives Bride’s Choice Award

January 28th, 2013

We are honored to announce that Matt Mason Photography received the Bride’s Choice Award from  From Wedding Wire’s website: ” WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ recipients represent the top five percent of wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism.” Thank you to the brides and grooms who have supported us through leaving feedback on various sites.


To read some of our recent reviews please follow these links:

Reviews for Matt Mason Photography
Wedding WireThe Wedding ChannelGoogle PlacesYelp

Comments Off

2012 Best Of Ceremonies

January 22nd, 2013

Below are some of my favorite Ceremony shots of 2012.  I’ll post my top seven unique shots but follow the link at the bottom to view all 50 selected for your viewing pleasure.




iPhone wedding?  I love the “flash” produced by an iPhone at the perfect moment to create a light flare.


The fish eye lens helped make this image more powerful in seeing the chairs arranged in a semi-circle.




Love the depth of field look in this image.




View more photos from this gallery by following this link.


Comments Off

2012 Best Of

January 21st, 2013

January is the month I like to share all of my previous year’s favorite photos.  I have categories like Rings, Shoes, Flowers, Dress, Bride, Wedding Party etc.  With over 60 weddings it is sometimes hard to narrow it down.  We try to choose photos that are somewhat unique but also crisp, vibrant and tell a story.  Not every wedding makes it into every gallery.  That doesn’t mean I playing favorites or think the photos were not good from a particular wedding.  In fact, I may have overlooked an obvious entry.  If you feel I am missing a best of photo from a wedding please let me know.  Here is the gallery I keep all my 2012 best of photos.  More will be added in the next couple of weeks.  Below find the photos representing my Best of Father Daughter photos.


I think this may be my favorite photojournalistic shot of the year.



This was shot soon after Amy’s Dad saw her for the first time in her wedding dress.



It is the Father Daughter dance that gets me every time.  Seeing Lauren’s dad’s tears touches my heart.

To view more photos of the Best of “I loved her first,”  follow this link.  A great place to “chime in” is on my Facebook page.  If you are not a fan yet please “like” the page.


Comments Off

Forehead affection, more than just a pose

January 7th, 2013

Recently I have become enamored with how romantic and amazing the forehead to forehead moment is.  I decided to go through the archives and find some of my favorite forehead wedding day photos.  I wanted to make a point that it is worth “practicing” this kind of affection before your wedding day.  If you don’t already do the forehead thing with your fiance I highly recommend it.  As you view these photos I think you will agree that it is fun, romantic and intimate to express your love for each other with your foreheads.   See for yourself…

Nicole and Jared are a great couple.  It was while shooting their wedding that I realized how special it is to capture a couple loving on each other with their foreheads.

On the left Nicole and Jared share a “private” moment during their first look.  On the right, after the kiss shot they defaulted to the forehead.  Clearly this is not a new way to show affection for the couple.

This photo was shot downtown Chicago near the Board of Trade building.  Kiley and Steve seem so natural and comfortable in front of the camera.  Notice how Kiley is drawing Steve in close with her right hand.

Throughout the day I kept catching Meggie & Joel with their foreheads pressed together.  This is true love.

Hannah & Cody were a blast to shoot during their first dance.  Again the foreheads connecting to express their intimacy.

What can I say?  Who doesn’t lay down on the ground during their wedding reception and kiss each other’s forehead?  Well, ok I posed this one.

First Dance photos are better with some forehead affection.

This is Kiley & Steve during their first look.  For those that connect with their foreheads it is irresistible on wedding day.

Here is another first look with Jon and Leslie.  You can just feel the love they have for each other.  On the right Jon can’t contain his love for his bride.

Jenny and Justin were born to be mates.  I love how much fun they have together.



Comments Off

Daddy’s little girl

November 30th, 2012

Kate and Erik are special people.  When you see the way Erik looks at Kate and the ease with which they laugh together its just inspiring.  It was such a pleasure and honor to serve as the wedding photographer for their big day.  But the moment that stands out most to me was during the father/daughter dance.

Mr. Burditt steps proudly out onto the dance floor to have this special dance with his little girl.  The song was Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman.  You can tell this isn’t the first time he heard this song.  He sang, no he serenaded Kate with nearly every word of that wonderful song while they danced.  I was choked up and it struck me anew just how important it was that I capture this moment appropriately for Kate to always remember just how much her dad loves and admires his precious girl.

Below are my favorite photos and a short video from that heart warming first dance.





Comments Off

Kimberly Minardi & Craig Sloan

October 30th, 2012

Max Biedermann and I teamed up to shoot a very unique engagement session.  Kimberly is a pilot at United and when we were talking about where to shoot the photos I asked if there was any chance we could shoot with a 747 jet.   Sure enough Kimberly pulled some strings and walah!  I had never even set foot in a 747 before so it was also very interesting to get a private tour of the airplane.  Most of these photos are Max’s shots as he has the honor of being lead photographer at Kimberly and Craig’s wedding but it was so much fun.





Here is the link to their entire gallery to view more fun photos.