Once Wed Publication

image by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

Y’all, I got published at Once Wed. At least, my photography did. It was one of my very favorite “headshot” sessions ever, and it was such a cool gift to get to take these photos, and getting this publication was just the icing on the cake for me.

I promise you more images from the shoot here as soon as I can get them together. I am so far behind on blogging, I can’t even think about apologizing. I think it has something to do with doing the work on the back end and keeping the family going on the front end, and I miss it like CRAZY, but for this season (which I hope will be shorter than I feel it will be!), I have had to take a blogging break while I recover my creative energy and rework my brand a bit to accommodate a new direction for my photography business.

I hope to be back soon – I’m getting a more permanent redesign ready to show off, and prepping for a full relaunch with some really, really amazing stuff. So. There I am teasing you again. While you wait, though, go over to Once Wed and see some of my pictures, or hang out with me on Instagram, which is getting the bleed-off from my reviving creativity.


Photography: Kelly Sauer
Venue: River Oaks Charleston
Set & Prop Styling: Ginny Branch
Hair & Makeup: Claudia Mejerle
Hand Lettering, Handmade Paper, Leather Pouch: Signora e Mare
Dress: Elizabeth Suzann “Artist” Dress
Shoes: Bryr Studio

Publication – Provence-Inspired Bridal Shoot

exquisitrie by kelly sauer | provence-inspired bridal shoot

He play’d an ancient ditty long since mute,
In Provence call’d ‘La belle dame sans mercy.’
– John Keats

Honored to be at Hochzeitsguide with Kelly Lenard for a lovely feature today. These images will always be some of my very favorites, in spite of all I know now that I didn’t know then. Here’s to beautiful growth, on a day when I’m feeling the growing pains a bit more than I like. Happy Thursday, friends.


PHOTOGRAPHY: Exquisitrie by Kelly Sauer
GOWN: Aire Barcelona from Ebrada Atelier
SHOES: Ivanka Trump
WRAP: Kohls
LOCATION: Charleston, Soth Carolina
FILM LAB: Richard Photo Lab
MODEL: Vera of Millie Lewis Models and Talent

the art of being

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

There is a line of thought within the wedding photography industry that if you have a strong visual brand, you can attract the clients you want to attract and make the money you want to make. It’s a good thought, I think, if you can be a business person interested in earning money with your camera. But though I embraced the idea early for my business, I have come to see that as an artist, I had no business trying to slap a brand onto my work so soon. I think this is one of the reasons I have not yet come to a clear brand, and this is also one of the reasons I have stepped back from my design/branding here and made everything so extremely simple for now.

It takes years to learn the technical aspects of photography, and still more years to learn who you are as an artist. I used to ask what people saw in my work, thinking they could help tell me what I was doing – but I have to be able to understand what I am doing myself. I feel my work, and I often find myself intuiting my images, but defining and explaining them in a way that can be encapsulated into a brand? The business has held me accountable for learning how to do this, and while I feel like I am still learning what I am doing and why I am doing it, some things are beginning to come clear.

The images I make that attract me the most are the images that hold a subject that is just so at home with itself/themselves in whatever context I find them. There is nothing contrived and nothing projected – it is something that just *is.* Images like that delight me. I want to make images like that. I want to be like that.

The world is going to push you through so many doors so quickly. There is always some new trend, something that everybody else is doing that has to be copied. There’s always pressure to get ahead of everybody else. But you have to give yourself time to grow. You have to be patient with your process, and be your own advocate. You have to honor your voice, and believe that you do have something unique to say, even if everyone else is “taking your ideas.”

The art of being feels like a lost art in our crazy culture and in the photography industry, but I can’t help feeling that if we can dare to not be “successful” for a little while, we’ll start being the unique kind of people we want to be, and maybe success will come along with it.

white sheets – a study

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

So I’m kind of on a photography business sabbatical right now, the not-getting-paid-but-have-to-shoot-anyway sort of sabbatical. I’m backing off most of my marketing and publication submissions to make some space for myself to figure out what I see and how I see it. I’m learning that I don’t want to photograph everything I love, and that some things I love are just a jumping-off point for what I *do* want to love. For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed bigger and farther than the place I am. It’s a talent of mine, a perk of my personality, this rich inner life that can make me feel better, even the bleak and cluttered places in my world.

I expect I’d make a decent prisoner somewhere. Hm.


So I was where I am on Saturday morning, rocking the baby in my room and looking at our unmade bed, sighing happily because I finally scored a bedding system that I love on sale at Bed, Bath, & Beyond (the simple BACK side of a duvet cover over a down-alternative comforter). I had a gift card that could only be used there, but BB&B doesn’t carry a lot of the textures that I love, and I have to say I am soooo pleased to have figured out a way around their styles to make something work for me.

I decided to photograph it, and I called Pete in and give the sheet some lift and flow so I could use both hands to focus my manual lens. And now, because my blog is my place to sort out my thoughts, I’m sharing it not as a product push but as a photographic study. A way to say “this is my style” and “I love this, do you?”

This isn’t anything wedding-related – but it’s the “fine art lifestyle” photography that I’ve always danced around – something in real life that can become fine art if you record it that way. So. Without further ado, I give you white sheets with flow and texture, in my photography style.

(Okay. Actually, I give you pictures of them. Because I’m not really giving you the sheets that I like.)

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

Cottage Hill Feature – A Lowcountry Bride

exquisitrie | photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

YOU GUYS. The first part of my inaugural shoot in my new studio has been published at Cottage Hill Magazine this morning! There is so much story behind this shoot, but I need to save it for when I put my own post together soon. You’re going to need to just go over and look at the TON of images that Katie O’Selvidge has shared today, and be content with that for now. I am soooo happy to see these go live!



Photography – Exquisitrie by Kelly Sauer
Styling – Alise Taggart
Florals – Stephanie Gibbs
Hair and Makeup – Dannon K. Collard
Collette-Naomi Dress – Rebecca Schoneveld
Gown Source – The Sentimentalist
Silk Pieces – Silk and Willow
Jewelry – Kristen Hayes Jewelry
Heirlooms and Set Pieces – KS Ltd. Co.

Behind the Lens – On Being a Human

exquisitrie | photography by kelly sauer | la joie, la vie

When I was growing up, being human didn’t seem like such a good thing. I always wanted to do everything right – and I was GOOD at it. But keeping all those plates spinning wasn’t good for my heart, and eventually, I found myself seated – not so neatly – in the middle of a pile of shattered plates. I learned to stop lying. I learned to set boundaries. I learned to say no. I learned how to choose my yes. I learned to be human, and to walk more humbly than I had previously believed was okay.

Before you think that I think it’s a glorious way to live, let me tell you about my cluttered house that only gets fully picked up about once per month, about the dishes that sit in the sink all day, about small budgets and giving shoots away just to get opportunities to photograph people. Let me tell you about eking beauty out of a very real life with three children and homeschooling and breastfeeding and trying to get thirty minutes to myself in a given day. Let me share about mistakes I make, about panic attacks when I inadvertently forget something or fail amazingly, about very honest phone calls and emails to people who really don’t need me for their brand anyway, especially when I have let them down. Let me tell you about putting my foot in my mouth, about embarrassing moments and no no no no no…

There’s something about my being a photographer that can feel a little bit… inauthentic, especially when I edit and edit and crop and adjust and cull and retouch and sort and organize and reorganize and set and reset on any given day. But because I am an artist, every step reveals a bit more of my true self, because being an artist means bringing a vision to life. That means I’m not just capturing what is in front of my lens. I am processing it on every level, interpreting and almost re-communicating my own experience within your experience.

i carry you with me into the world, into the smell of rain,
and the words that dance between people
and for me, it will always be this way, walking in the light,
remembering being alive together.
– story people

Being human and being alive means that you take risks – to have the babies, to ask for the opportunities, to try new things – and you shoulder responsibility that you wouldn’t otherwise shoulder if you had just said no and kept your life small. And being human means that you’re going to drop things and feel things and treasure things and make messes, and IT IS OKAY.

I have to tell myself that a lot.

God has to remind me that I am dust. A lot.

And usually He’s reminding me that He remembers it, whether I do or not. He’s got all the grace for me that I need, whether I’ll receive it or not.

What you find here at my blog and on my website and in your home and inbox after I photograph it and send it out into the world – there’s a human behind those images. There is out-loud laughter, there is giddiness, and tears, and thoughtfulness. I breathe in and out as I process, giggle and squeal when I shoot (and sometimes, I just ooooohhh and aaaahhhhhhh too), and I hold my breath every time I hit “send” or “publish.” Everything I share makes me a little more human, a little more open to criticism, a little more vulnerable to rejection.

But as I share, I am learning what my voice sounds like. I am learning that I have things to say that are important for me to say, whether they are heard or not. I am learning that I don’t need anyone else to give me permission to be a person in the world, and I am learning to deeply value the people who see me as a person. It’s why I still share here, because I hear from you who are still reading and cheering me on as I grow.

I love being a human. I love the curiosity and the anticipation. I love the exquisitrie of suspended chords, the breath before the kiss, the curve of the petals in the blush. I love the dirt on my boy, the non-stop chatter from my Pip, the warm cuddles from my baby. I love watching the light play in different ways around my new house. I love the smell of frying bacon and the yeasty-warm scent of fresh bread. These things come with being human, and I am so very glad God thought to let me experience them when He made me.

I am so very glad I am not so perfect that I am missing my life.

The image above is a preview from what may possibly be the most perfect shoot of my career, and I can’t share more of it because it is has been submitted and is awaiting a response from a publisher. I love what it says. I cannot WAIT to show you more.