Hey, it’s me, Mike! I’m your second crew feature, and while you’re here, I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself and how I became the Lead Photographer at KNOT JUST ANY DAY.
One day, just about 5 years ago, I showed up at the KJADstudio, sat down, started doing some work, and I’ve been here ever since. Okay, okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that simple, but it’s close.
I graduated from Wilkes University in 2012 with a degree in Integrated Media. My path with Steve didn’t cross there being he didn’t start teaching at Wilkes until 2013. Still, a good friend of mine, Eric, was a student of Steve’s and transitioned into videography for KJAD after he graduated in 2013.
I definitely credit KJAD for jumpstarting my creative career, but art has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I was really into video games and anime, which made me want to learn how to draw. There was no YouTube then, so before taking art classes, I got my start by learning from drawing books from Walden Books. Drawing and gaming evolved into an interest in motion graphics, and that’s when I began working with Adobe products like Photoshop and After Effects, and found my interest in graphic design and photography. I watched tutorials and made graphics for friends, and by doing enough of those you learn the basics of it. Photography came into play when I needed some sort of footage to test my graphics over. Then, when I got to school, I learned that it was a part of the Integrated Media program, and it all started working together.
Prior to KJAD, I worked in advertising for about 2 years, which oddly enough was right next door to the KJADstudio. During that time, my friend Eric then gauged my interest in coming to work for KJAD. I said I was down, so here we are. Even though I am a photographer now, my role there began as a video editor.
At KJAD, my first jobs were file management, video editing, and designing flyers, invitations, and all of that fun stuff. Within a few months, I was at weddings as a 2nd shooter for video. Ever so slowly from there, I started training more in photography, saved up some money, and bought all my gear. Getting a camera after all those years of messing around and teaching myself was like a “game on” moment. I knew this was something I wanted to do and that I was comfortable with it. So, in my second year, I started as a 2nd photographer to learn even more and grow my skill set. After that and once I got even more comfortable, I started shooting lead. Now, years later, that’s my role today!
I think the cool thing is, being a photographer and videographer has gotten me out into the world more than I expected. I’ve gone to places I otherwise wouldn’t have gone and met great people that I would not have met. KJAD definitely kickstarted my creative career, which I’ve continued to build on since I’ve started, but the experience has also impacted me, as I’ve matured as an artist and a person through KJAD.
Nowadays, you can find me splitting my time as an artist between my full-time job at Benco Dental as a designer, photographer, and videographer, and as a Lead photographer on weekends with the KJAD crew.
That’s all there is to know about me and my time here! I’m looking forward to becoming part of your wedding. Can’t wait to meet everyone! Thanks for reading and taking a few minutes to learn more about me. In the meantime, follow me here (@mjgentle) and listen to my playlist below.
Hi everyone! It’s me, Steve. I thought I would take a few minutes to introduce myself to those of you I have yet to meet and give the rest of you who know me a little more, a bit more backstory on me.
Owner, Photographer, Videographer, Stationery Designer, Wedding Planner, @thekjadbaby’s dad
I have a BFA in photography from Kutztown University. Began playing guitar and singing in bands, professionally, towards the end of college and continued that well into my 30s. I owned an art gallery in Jim Thorpe for a few years after college. Worked as an artist’s assistant, taught 30-50 guitar lessons a week, and began photographing everything I possibly could. I photographed my first wedding in 2003 with one of my film cameras and never looked back. I did freelance photo and graphic design from that point forward. The graphic design work landed me a killer seat working for the coolest arts and entertainment paper called The Weekender. During my time there I went from The Weekender’s graphic designer to the parent company’s, the Times Leader, creative director. This change of focus from just creating non-stop to being more involved with the development side of the business really pushed me to continue to further my own entrepreneurial endeavors. Towards the end of my time at The Weekender, as I tried to push forward my side work, I began teaching as an adjunct instructor at Wilkes University.
My first love is teaching. I teach no matter what I am doing. And over my time at Wilkes, I have learned what it’s like to make a difference in someone’s life. Teaching is a gift unlike any other thing, but it goes both ways. My students have always left a mark on me. They have always pushed me in ways to better problem solve, better communicate, and to be more patient. I’m the kind of person that can wait for anything from someone else, but can NOT wait the time it takes to watch my coffee reheat… so, I teach with a room temp cup of coffee.
Continuing on, after leaving the Weekender and Times Leader, I made my way over to Metz Culinary Management. I continued in the creative marketing world during my time at Metz. And all the time all of this was going on over the past decade and a half, I kept playing shows with my two bands, Lessen One and OurAfter, played acoustic shows by myself, photographed weddings, bands, concerts, models, food, architecture, events, headshots, family/kid/senior portraits, designed logos and ads for local and regional businesses, AND officially started KNOT JUST ANY DAY in early 2008. (deep breath)
KJAD was created to give me a more formal business entity to take photos, create memories, and to find myself making art that lasted for generations to come. Ever since my first wedding in 2003, I found myself valuing the importance and beauty of weddings and relationships. Once I let the concept of weddings more into my world of photography, I realized that I couldn’t take another photo that was just for the sake of the photo. I needed to create for people who truly and genuinely loved every bit of what I was creating. Not to knock fine art photography, but if I had to try and sell another long exposure waterfall print for $35, I would have hung up my camera and called it a day. Weddings found me and I found my purpose as a photographer in weddings. Some people LOVE wedding photography, and others… not so much. I, on the other hand, love what I can timelessly create at a wedding for my couples, friends, and families. It’s an honor to be a wedding photographer if you want it to be. These images will last for generations to come and will carry in them, the most important people in my clients’ lives. Every wedding I accept the challenge to archive this day – to be present, predictive, artistic, tender and kind, and to allow my personality and technique to lead the way.
Now, I’m speaking very much in the “I”, when really the point of KJAD is “we”. I started this business knowing that I work better with others around me. I thrive on sharing the excitement and positive outcomes with my crew and at the same time work towards better outcomes through challenging times.
The concept of “we” really is what drove me to open the KJAD studio in 2015. The studio is a place where we meet prospective clients, have important meetings about weddings and events, edit photos and videos, create customized stationery, work as a team, and even share our work with you. If you haven’t been to the studio, please stop by… once, of course, we can all be in the same space as each other. Despite all of the hurdles we face with this ever-present disease that we are faced with, I know that if we take precautions, be aware of our actions and support one another, we will all be back up and running before we know it. This year will mark the five year anniversary of our downtown Wilkes-Barre studio’s opening. I am eager and so excited to, hopefully, in the near future, open our doors and have you all over for a celebration of what we have achieved and what we soon will begin, all thanks to your support and love of what we do.
The last item on my list of things to share with you is my family. I have a wonderfully supportive family that’s always on the ready to help me stay flexible with my time and efforts with KJAD. My wife, Bridget, always has had my back and my biggest cheerleader, Henry, our son, (@thekjadbaby on IG) is itching to get in and help out… well I mean he’s three, but he really likes keyboards and all of the buttons on my cameras, so that’s a start.
Thanks for reading this. Thanks for your continued support. Thanks for trusting us with such an important role in your lives. And thank you for trusting me.
And just for fun, I’ve decided to share with you a playlist of tunes I am listening to right now. On each on of these crew feature blogs, I will include a Spotify playlist that each crew member creates. Here are some of my recent musical finds and songs I have on repeat. Enjoy!
And lastly, here is the full video of a new feature we are doing with everyone in the company. And for your official max overload of me – enjoy 49 slightly random questions with me.
Here we are again!! Back at it, finally. Blogging like it’s our job. We kick off the 2020 season by blogging a little about our great friends Lindsay and CJ. Little backstory for you – I (steve) have known Lindsay and her family for quite some time now and I was just beyond thrilled when I received the text that she was engaged and that KNOT JUST ANY DAY was going to be a part of the wedding. Now knowing CJ for the little time that I have, I really couldn’t be any happier for the two of them. It’s always so great when the right people find each other. So congrats to you two!! Yay!
Lindsay and CJ asked if KJAD would come to their new home in Philadelphia for their session, and as you know, we absolutely prefer going places that our couples love over someplace that’s picked out of a hat. We buzzed around in their house for a bit, changed outfits, and then made our way over to Washington Square Park. Turns out it was one of the colder, windier days we had this late winter season. We braved the weather, took our photos quickly, and ran around to keep warm.
*Special shout out to my helper Caroline (Lindsay’s sister and friend of mine) for being on Lindsay and CJ’s coat duty at the park with me.
It’s always so wonderful to see our friends go through the process of getting engaged, planning a wedding, and saying “I do”. It’s especially sweet to see it all happen from our vantage point. We have the best seat in the house on their wedding day – being that close with all of their friends and family is such an honor and such an exciting place to be.
Enjoy their photos and we can’t wait for their upcoming wedding at St. David’s Golf Club in Wayne, PA. Till then!
Here’s a behind the scenes pic that Caroline snapped of us during our time at Washington Square Park. (thanks!!)
We’ve been so excited for their wedding since we met Natalie and Aash at their enagagement session earlier this year in Brooklyn. This time we got to travel a bit south for their special day to the incredibly beautiful Lake House Inn in Perkasie, PA. We had such a blast getting ready with everyone in the morning with excited anticipation filling the air. Natalie and Aash decided to incorporate a first look into their day before the celebration began, giving them a chance to just be with each other and us a chance to capture some really awesome moments. Before we knew it, Aash was seated atop a white horse for the most incredible Baraat procession complete with dancing and the biggest smiles on every friend and family member. Aash’s father led a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony on a breath-taking mandap [wedding alter], and we were blown away with the beauty and meaning held by every little detail. After the ceremony, Natalie and Aash changed into their reception attire and joined all of their loved ones in night full dancing and cheer including the most epic of Horahs. The look on the newlyweds’ faces when they were lifted up on their chairs is everything. We wish them all of the best in the world!
To Natalie and Aash!
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Steve and Lisa
Ceremony/ Reception Venue: The Lake House Inn
Bridal Reception Dress: The Reformation
Hair/ Makeup Artists: Jazmin Rae Company
We wish we could review the amazing people we get to capture memories for like they write reviews for us. Taylor and Jeremy would definitely get an infinite amount of stars. We first met them a couple years ago for their engagement session in Jim Thorpe when we learned that they were planning on getting married in Punta Cana. In the two years leading up to their wedding, we’ve shared so many laughs, got to meet Taylor and Jeremy’s parents, and can whole- heartedly call them family now. Taylor, Jeremy, and all of their family and friends are such down to earth, genuine, fun loving people who understand what’s important in life and cherish that to the core. That showed in every little detail of both… yes, both… of their weddings. In order for their destination beach wedding in Punta Cana to be performed in English, Taylor and Jeremy had to make it official in the states first. They had the sweetest wedding at Harveys Lake featuring Taylor’s beautiful dress by BHLDN and Jeremy’s father’s awesome vintage Chevy. A few weeks later, our very own Steve and Stephen were on a plane heading to the hottest, but most incredible wedding ever. Taylor’s brother officiated the ocean front ceremony, reminding us all that we could do anything we want to do, but we can’t always do it alone. Taylor and Jeremy are the absolute perfect match and truly bring out the best in each other and everyone around them. We continued the celebration with the reception right on the sand under the stars. Talk about dance moves (please refer to Jeremy in the wedding film below)! The next day we got to capture Taylor’s “trash the dress” as she and Jeremy ran right into the waves in full wedding attire. Yay for underwater housing and cooling down!! We had the best time on this incredible journey with the now newlyweds and everyone else involved, and are so honored to make the KJAD family even bigger. We really love what we do! Oh, Steve also highly recommends everyone try the pineapple juice in Punta Cana! He still won’t stop talking about it!
Congrats to The Williams!
Harveys Lake Ceremony Site: Our Lady of Victory
Harveys Lake Ceremony Dress: BHLDN
Harveys Lake Suit: Tuxedo Junction
Punta Cana Reception Venue: Palladium Palace
Salon: Zentropia Spa
Dress Shop: The Bridal Chateau
Dress Designer: Maggie Soterro
Bridesmaid Dress Shop: The Dress Lounge
Tuxes/ Suits: Tuxedo Junction
Wedding Bands: Tovon & Co.
Sydney and Bryan chose to celebrate their big day at the always incredible Barn at Glistening Pond. There always seems to be something new whenever we get to visit the barn. DJ, the owner, is the handiest, and really outdid himself with latest addition of the spacious, new bridal prep room. A few robed, cloned Bryans showed up for bride prep, too. They even made an appearance later on during the reception to join everyone on the dance floor. Sydney and Bryan had State College’s “most popular band”, My Zero Hero, perform for their reception, and all of their guests went wild! It was an epic concert/ dance party/ sing-a-long/ celebration all in one!!
Congrats to the newlyweds!!
PHOTOGRAPHERS: MJ & Jimmy
Ceremony / Reception Venue: The Barn at Glistening Pond
Dress Shop: Lovely Bride
Tuxes / Suits: Men’s Wearhouse
Hair / Makeup: Sorella
Flowers: Flowers ‘R’ Us
Officiant: Rob Provitera
Coordinators: Jen Rushton
Entertainment: My Hero Zero
Catering: Ma Greenly
Cake: Creative Cakes
Late Night Food Truck: Southwest Savory Grill
Cheers to The Broms!! Beth and Sean’s story starts when they were both part of the production of Guys and Dolls at their alma mater, King’s College. “The rest is history,” says Beth. Naturally, we had to expect some stellar performances on their big day. During Beth and Sean’s beautiful ceremony, Beth’s brother and sister-in-law sang “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story. The celebration continued at none other than The Woodlands; the same place Beth’s parents held their reception when they were married. Beth and Sean even reenacted the same pose at the same location of one of their favorite photos from Beth’s parents’ wedding album. Sean and his mom shared an epic mother-son dance covering nearly every inch of the dance floor, and Beth’s dad sang his rendition of Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” during their father-daughter dance. We have to admit, it melted our hearts. Beth’s junior bridesmaid even accompanied their band, Class Act Band, and everyone on the dance floor went crazy! From Beth’s perfect dress designed by Justin Alexander and their super romantic centerpieces by Robin Hill Florist to all of the awesome dance floor moves and sweet moments, these photos will have us smiling for a long time to come! It was also the first time we got to put our Mag Mod equipment to use, and we are in love with Beth and Sean’s sunset photos. We hope you love them as much as we do!!
Congratulations again to the newlyweds!
Ceremony Site: St. Nicholas Church
Reception Venue: The Woodlands
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Tuxes: Mens Wearhouse
Wedding Band: Van Scoy
Hair Stylist/ Makeup Artist: Mat Ocasio
Flowers/ Decor: Robin Hill Florist
Catering: The Woodlands
Cake: Bakery Delight
Invitations: Elegant Wedding Invites
We’ve been through a lot with Sara and Joe; designing stationary, meeting after meeting, that one time Joe accidentally glued some invitations to a few envelopes that we will now refer to as The Great Glue Stick Incident of 2019.. After all of that, we’re so glad that we could add watching these two say ‘I Do’ to the list! Their whole day, from lake side prep to their Westmoreland Club sparkler sendoff, was filled with so much love from their family and friends. We are absolutely in awe over their color palette, the epic greenery that decorated their reception, and the sheer epic-ness of everyone (especially Joe who was able to obtain a microphone from the amazing Uptown Band) breaking it down on the dance floor. There was so much energy during their reception that Sara and Joe were even lifted into the air at one point! We hope you enjoy this look into their day as much as we do!
Congrats to the Collini’s!
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Steve and Jimmy
Ceremony Site: Our Lady of Victory Church
Reception Venue: The Westmoreland Club
Veil Designer: Pronovias
Bridesmaid Dress Shop: Azazie
Shoes: David’s Bridal
Tuxes: Mens Wearhouse
Wedding Bands: Valentine’s Fine Jewelry
Hair Stylist: Lauren Carey of Age of Innocence
Make Up Artist: Rikki Feerrar
Flowers: Floral Designs
Coordinators: Shauna of The Westmoreland Club
Entertainment: The Uptown Band
Catering/ Cake: The Westmoreland Club
Invitations: Knot Just Any Day