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maine wedding photographer

The Best of 2018 | Jessica Rae, Maine Portrait Photographer

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The Best of 2018 | Jessica Rae, Maine Portrait Photographer

As 2018 came to an end and we rounded the corner into 2019, I took some time off to refuel and recharge. 2018 has been a year of growth, change, and new beginnings for me both personally and professionally. After the hectic holiday season, it all came to a whirlwind of an end, and I found myself needing some serious off-time to reflect, center myself and get back to basics.

At the end of each year I like to go back and look through the sessions I’ve completed. It’s rewarding and assuring to see my work improve over time, and it’s interesting to see how my style and approach may change with the seasons.

The images I’ve chosen to include in this post are not necessarily ones that are technically my best work in terms of lighting, composition, etc. But instead, these images are ones that provoke some real emotion within me, which is something I set out to accomplish more of in 2018. Over the years I’ve slowly drifted away from the overly posed, cookie-cutter images where the subjects are simply standing there and smiling at the camera, and I have naturally gravitated more towards images that show a subjects’ true emotion or making a connection. Now, it’s not that I feel that those cookie-cutter smiling images are bad or wrong, but they don’t “do” as much for me as an artist compared to images that make me FEEL something. I may feel connected to a particular image because of a genuine laugh or smile, a silly expression, a sense of wonder shown on a child’s face, or because I nailed the lighting on an image and I personally felt excited and accomplished in doing so.

When selecting some of these images I struggled with figuring out exactly why I loved them so much; I could acknowledge that yes, the lighting looks great, or overall it was just a beautiful image to look at. But after some thought I found that I loved the image because of a deeper meaning. Some of these photos were taken when I was at a point in my life where I was making big changes and exciting things were happening and I was at a very high point. With others I could think back and hear the song the couple was dancing to at their wedding when I took the image, and could remember the emotion I felt watching this beautiful moment unfold in front of me. But in the end it all came down to authentic and raw emotion. That’s the shit that makes me feel alive inside!

I express it so often, but I truly live a very blessed life; Part of me is afraid that if I say that too many times then it will lose it’s meaning, but it’s just so damn true. I get to witness some beautiful, life-changing moments for a living. People willingly invite me into their lives to document some of the most intimate and vulnerable times of their entire lives. They invest their hard-earned trust and money into me to accurately and beautifully document one of the most pivotal moments in their entire existence. I sit here and struggle to put into words just how much that blows my mind. And I can’t help but sit here and chuckle to myself when I’m reminded that these same people thank ME for what I do, when in reality I owe them all the thanks in the universe. By believing in me, you all have given me such an incredible and meaningful life.

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In 2018 I photographed a total of 179 separate portrait sessions, 14 weddings, and 11 personal projects. Within those portrait sessions I completed 34 newborn sessions, 28 maternity sessions, 57 family sessions, 13 couple’s sessions, 7 boudoir sessions, 5 Fresh 48 sessions, and 5 seniors. I had to double check those numbers. Twice.

In 2018 I traveled 7,288 miles to and from sessions and weddings, and witnessed some of Maine’s most breathtaking places.

I quadrupled my total income from last year, when my ‘realistic’ goal was only to double it.

I excitedly and fearfully opened a new studio in January 2018, only to need to move and upgrade to an even bigger space 8 months later.

I invested time and money into continuing my education and improving my skill set which proved to be the best thing I could have done for my business at the time.

I met countless beautiful, kind humans that have become such an impactful part of my life whether they realize it or not. I have formed so many new friendships with clients and other industry professionals.

To put it simply, I far exceeded my expectations of 2018. For that I owe a very big thank-you to all of my clients that have trusted me to be a part of their lives this year, and to all of my loyal and faithful fans that never shy with their support. It does not go unnoticed and I’m so humbled and grateful that words could never express the exact magnitude of it.

THANK YOU! And let’s kick some more ass together in 2019!

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Bekka + Tyler | Maine Engagement Photographer

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Bekka + Tyler | Maine Engagement Photographer

Several weeks ago I booked Bekka + Tyler’s August 2019 wedding and got them in for their engagement session shortly after. We wanted to make sure we got some of the fall foliage that was just beginning to pass and we got lucky with a pretty warm day for being fall in Maine. I’ve always loved using this little roadside location in the fall; The leaves are changing in the tree line, the long grass is beginning to turn that beautiful tone of gold, and the milkweed starts to bloom and creates a soft, dreamy background when the sun sets behind it.

These two were so natural in front of the camera. I would give them just a bit of direction and they would run with it, and so much natural emotion comes through in their images. Both are them are incredibly photogenic and I’m in love with Bekka’s choice of outfit; it gives me all the cozy fall feels! I can’t wait for the amazing things to come on their big day next year!

Here is just a handful of my favorites from their session <3

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Vanessa + Josh | 8.25.2018 | Maine Wedding Photographer

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Vanessa + Josh | 8.25.2018 | Maine Wedding Photographer

Vanessa and Josh finally tied the knot this past Saturday on their property in Sidney. It was a gorgeous rustic wedding complete with mason jars, babies breath, and their very own barn. How freaking stunning is Vanessa in that dress!? Thank you both for choosing me as your photographer and I wish you two a lifetime of happiness!❤️ Here are just a few previews from their big day.

Photography by Jessica Rae Stetson of Jessica Rae, Maine Portrait Photographer and second shooter Benjamin Wheeler
Dress David's Bridal
Alterations Cozy Cottage Fabric's & Alteration's
Catering Just Got Smoked BBQ Catering
Floral The Robin's Nest
Hair & Makeup Couture Styles
DJ DJ Jolt

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Lorryn + Garrison | 8.18.18 | Maine Wedding Photographer

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Lorryn + Garrison | 8.18.18 | Maine Wedding Photographer

I photographed Lorryn and Garrison's wedding at Sites Farm in Athens last weekend on August 18th 2018. The day started off wet and rainy but ended with lots of sun and laughter. Thank you guys so much for having me as your photographer! Congrats to the happy couple, and enjoy your cruise! Here are a few previews from their big day.

 

 

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Barbora + Dean | 8.11.2018 | Maine Wedding Photographer

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Barbora + Dean | 8.11.2018 | Maine Wedding Photographer

I had the honor yesterday of photographing Barbora and Dean's wedding on a family's property in Roxbury, Maine. From the first time I met up with Barb and Dean at a little coffee shop a few months ago, I just had the feeling that this wedding was going to be one for the books. They had such a calming yet vibrant vibe; they sort of radiated off of one another when they were together. You could really tell they love and cherished one another with the way they spoke about each other and the smiles they shot each other in between chatting. 

 

From the moment I arrived to their location yesterday until the moment I left to head home, I felt so incredibly welcomed by everyone. The love and excitement in the air was contagious, and though many of their guests did not speak English, it didn't hinder the communal understanding of why we were there celebrating, and ultimately the language of love and friendship brought all together.

 

I want to say a huge thank-you to Barbora and Dean, and all of their friends and family who I was able to meet yesterday. You have entrusted me with the responsibility of documenting the amazing and beautiful day that was your wedding, and for that I am forever grateful. You two deserve the universe, and I wish you nothing but the best❤️

 

Here are just a few previews from their wedding!

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Annie + Barrett | Maine Couple's Photographer

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Annie + Barrett | Maine Couple's Photographer

I'm a firm believer that fate brings certain people into your life for a reason. At first it may not always be clear as to why, but eventually, in one split second it clicks, and deep down you just know why they've been placed there.

I believe that Annie was brought into my life for a lot of different reasons,   and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet her this past fall. Last year Annie had been dealing with some health issues and was later diagnosed with cancer, a synovial sarcoma in her left foot. She began posting updates on Facebook, and through her boyfriend Barrett I was able to follow her journey. 

I went to school with Barrett, and though I hadn't spoken a word to him in who knows how long, I have always had so much respect for him. My fondest memories of Barrett are of him being so kind to everyone in school. In a place where I was often made fun of or laughed at because I was different, he was always someone that was incredibly genuine and respectful to me. And though he and I were never super close or anything, we shared many mutual friendships and I'll always remember Barrett as being an incredibly nice person. That sounds so cliche but when looking back at it, it's people like him that make you realize that there are good people in the world!

So when I started seeing Annie's posts it of course caught my attention. It's not very often that you see a woman her age diagnosed with cancer, and it especially catches your attention when she's the girlfriend of an old high school friend; it definitely tugged at the heart strings.

What stuck out so much about Annie is how optimistic she was, and remains to be. I think when most people hear the word "cancer" it's immediately a very negative and disheartening feeling, which it is rightfully so, but she very clearly took that diagnosis as a mountain to climb and overcome and it is so incredibly inspiring to me.

 

One afternoon Annie had reached out to me on my business page wanting to book a fall mini session for her and Barrett. She had absolutely no idea I knew exactly who she was but I had the instant desire to offer her and Barrett a private couple's session. Though I didn't know Annie personally, it really felt like I did  after following all of her updates and progress over the several months prior to her contacting me. Doing this just felt right.

To make a long story short, Annie loved the idea and we soon set a date for their session. It was a warm, bright, sunny day which perfectly mirrored her personality. It is simply impossible to not smile when you're in her presence, and when she and Barrett are side by side it's hard to deny just how great they are together.

Annie has had her share of ups and downs since our time together, and still posts her updates from time to time. I'm already looking forward to when I get to see her next;  this girl radiates positivity. She carries a light with her wherever she goes and I'm so happy to have found a friend in her. 

 

Annie and Barrett, thank you for being you. The love between you two is so very evident and you inspire those around you to be better people. Come see me soon, you lovebirds<3

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"Amidst what has been the hardest year of my life, I was lucky enough to cross paths with Jess. She is one of the most genuinely kind-hearted women I've ever met. I'd been following her photography page for a while and she had quickly become my favorite photographer in the area. I reached out to her regarding her "Fall Mini Sessions" and she, instead, offered to gift my boyfriend Barrett & I a full session, free of charge. Turns out, she knew Barrett from high school and had been following our story, and silently cheering us on, ever since she saw that I was diagnosed with cancer. I was and still am SO touched by all of the sweet things she had to say about both of us. I've said it before, but I'm going to keep saying it: she is the kind of light the world needs.

Jess is not only an amazing photographer, but person as well. You can tell she pours her heart & soul into her photography business and it shows through her photos. I was smiling and laughing our entire session- it was hard work to make a "serious" face because I was having such a great time. She had a plan when it came to the flow of the session so we got all of the shots we needed while the light was still perfect, while keeping time in mind. It helped because my boyfriend (along with most males) is not a huge "picture person" so he didn't feel like we were just standing there posing for hours. I have canvas prints of our pictures covering my room- obsessed is an understatement. I can't wait to book our next session!"

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Below are a few of my favorite images from Annie and Barrett's couple's session.

I hope you love them just as much as I do!

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Mr. + Mrs. Tierney | Maine Wedding Photographer

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Mr. + Mrs. Tierney | Maine Wedding Photographer

 

 

Florist: Broadturn Farm

Dress: Tadashi Shoji

Venue + Catering: Sebasco Harbor Resort

Cake: Chef Alyssa Lieberman of New City Microcreamery

Music: Bruce Marshall

Photography: Jessica + Shawn Stetson of Jessica Rae Photography

 

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Chelsea + Nick | Maine Engagement Photographer

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Chelsea + Nick | Maine Engagement Photographer

From the moment I first met Chelsea and Nick I knew these were my kind of people! We met up for coffee to discuss their wedding and they were both super friendly and very welcoming. We chatted about wedding planning and how things were going and I was lucky enough to have been booked for their wedding next June!

We set a date for their engagement session just one week before my own wedding. I knew just from chatting with these two that I liked them a whole lot, but getting to work with them and joke around while we photographed their session was the final nail; I really liked these guys!

It always makes my job so much easier when I'm working with two people who are truly and deeply in love with one another. I am so excited to photograph their wedding in just a few short months<3

 

Check out some of their images from their engagement session!

Until next time!<3

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Brittney + Makita | Maine Engagement Photographer

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Brittney + Makita | Maine Engagement Photographer

It's been roughly 3 weeks since I've photographed this engagement session but I'm still pretty obsessed with it.

My fiance and I met up with Brittney & Makita for their engagement session on the coast in Owl's Head, Maine. I got a tip on this location from a fellow photographer and knew I needed to photograph a couple there, and I'm just incredibly happy it was these two.

Between Brittney's boho-inspired dress, Makita's humor and the movie-like romance these two had together, it was hard to go wrong.

Fun fact about this sweet couple: These two love birds won a complete dream wedding after entering a drawing at the Barn at Silver Oaks Estate here in Maine recently. I don't even have words for just how freakin' amazing that is!

 

As previously mentioned, I'm quite obsessed with their gallery. I hope you'll enjoy them too!<3

 

 

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Chelsey + Tyler's Engagements | Maine Engagement Photographer

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Chelsey + Tyler's Engagements | Maine Engagement Photographer

I'm so excited to share these photos with you all. Chelsey and Tyler were one of the two lucky couples I had chosen for my couple's session model call a few weeks back, and let me be the first to say that I am so happy that I decided to choose them. Not only did we have a great connection personally, but they're the type of couple that every photographer dreams of shooting; Good looking, outgoing, fun, and IN LOVE.

When I put out my model call for a couple, the main purpose was to add an updated couple's session to my portfolio as my shooting style and editing has gravitated to a more film-inspired look than what I was shooting 1+ years ago. I had a couple different ideas in mind for these styled shoots, and I ended up choosing 2 different couples out of the dozens of entries. (It was impossible to choose only 1! Even 2 was incredibly difficult.) 

Initially Chelsey and Tyler's session was scheduled to take place at Owl's Head lighthouse, but the forecast threw some nasty storms our way and we headed for a scenic little spot in Rockport. I honestly can't take credit for either of these spots, as my good friend Andy from Cross Street Photography recommended them to me when I (very gracefully) begged for his help in finding an epic spot to shoot at.

I'M SO GLAD WE DECIDED ON THIS SPOT!  Just look at this fun behind the scenes shot my fiance took as we were nearing the end of our session. The sunset was breathtaking and mountains in the distance... speechless. And no ticks, so that's one heck of a bonus.

 

Now here's the best part...

When I began photographing Chelsey and Tyler's session last night, they arrived as boyfriend and girlfriend. But I am so happy to say that they didn't leave that way. I had no idea it was going to happen but just as we were ending our shoot, Tyler got down on one knee and asked Chelsey to marry him. Tears, ya'll. Tears.

Chelsey and Tyler, I am SO happy for the two of you! In the short time that we had known each other I truly felt the love radiating from you both and you made my job just that much easier. It was a true pleasure to work with you, and I wish you nothing but happiness in the future.

PS- If you two need a wedding photographer, hit me up. ;-)