How I shot it…

How I shot it…

A few weeks ago i posted a STELLAR bridal image from Lauren and Scotts wedding day (a favorite bridal portrait of mine to begin with) and its been my most liked image on instagram! To my surprise I received a lot of comments and DMs asking what type of OCF I used to create the image, if you view the image below it does look as if ive used a softbox to create it but its completely natural light! Let me take you through this portrait…

As a photographer I have learned that the first and best thing to do is FIND THE LIGHT. Dont look at where the location is or what your image construction will be, find the good light and all else will follow. In this case there was one window with nothing disctracting outside, So Kimmie and I cleared away a bunch of stuff and stuck this cute chair in front of it all of the detail shots for this wedding were done right here.  Once I turned Lauren towards me all of the gorgeous light coming from the window hit the back of her head and left her face, I needed to create a light JUST as delicate as the light coming from that window  and I needed to do it in about 3 minutes. I do love my Canon 600’s but they would have taken too much time to set up and I didnt want to bust out a softbox for this quick portrait so I turned to my handy-dandy reflector! Photogs if you arent using your reflector more let this image show you why you should let that baby flex its little muscles! So to the right you will see my set up, my reflector (bottom left) is gold side up throwing the most delicate light ever right into Laurens face, while warming up the entire image. Win Win Win! ( Office reference) So Step 1 is to find the best light, (regardless of where the best light is) Step 2 Clear away anything from the best light that will cause distraction Step 3 Modify the light if needed (in this case a reflector) and Step 4…shoot!

 

My Settings for this image: 1/200 F2.8 with a 24-70 ISO 200

NLPs Favorite things of 2017

NLPs Favorite things of 2017

Oh 2017, you will be forever remembered as a favorite year of mine. This year we moved 3 times, took over a church, started my new business, shot 28 weddings and 19 engagement sessions, not to mention all while raising 2 little people. The theme for this past year was “growth” hands down. About halfway through the year I had a complete “workflow” makeover because in all honesty if I didnt I was not going to be able to thrive in anything. So this post really should be called Everything that Made My Life Easier (and then some favorites.) Its going to be a long one, but trust me you’re going to want to take some notes! 

 

 

  If I’m going to be talking about workflow hacks (which I am) then I would be simply remiss not to talk about the biggest hack of all:

1. Wake up Earlier

I like many people would stay up late to do my work (what is it about photographers as a people that we LOVE to be up at 3am editing?) Through a series of interesting events I realized that the old mantra of “I need more hours in the day” was something I could make happen if I woke up at 5am. Now I wake up at 5, do all my reading, praying, and a solid 2 hours of work…before my kids are even awake. I could do a whole blog post on the science of how your brain works better in the morning, or how your children can benefit from having your undivided attention at breakfast, and how CEOs all are waking up before the sun but I won’t. Just try it!

2.  Trello, and Planners

When I was in middleschool my favorite thing ever was getting our agendas, I loved the smooth unmarked  paper and that feeling of a blank slate to organize my complicated life. As an adult I still love the feeling of a new planner but for entirely different reasons…this time its for survival.  I am currently using Inkwell Press planners. I love that fact that it has vision boards and goal setting pages. In the back there are budgeting tools and meal planning worksheets (all of which are processes that have changed my life).

Trello is the best. thing. ever. Ok let me explain, I have a physical planner and that contains my calendar and general to-do lists but Trello is an app (available for desktop as well) that breaks your life into boards and allows you to get into the details of planning your general to-dos. For example, I have a Trello “board” for this business. In my planner I will have written “blog by Wednesday.” When I open Trello I go to my NLP board, open up my blog card, and scroll through my blog ideas. Under each idea I can have a further card detailing specific  information that I need to research in order to do that blog. I can slap due dates on things and when I’m done and move it over to my “accomplished section” (because who doesnt like looking at an empty to do list)? Trello also can sync with my husband’s account, So when im in our church board and write a card out in the “to-do for church” board it notifies my husband and we are on the same page. There are countless options and ways to customize. Go to https://trello.com/ and give it a try!

Meal planning and budgeting go in with this topic, When you work from home like I do you need to guarantee some time to actually do some work. Meal planning and budgeting have allowed me some guaranteed time because I no longer have to stand in my kitchen for a half hour waiting for a meal idea to pop into my head!

Ok, as the subtitle states this is NOT my area of expertise. If it wasnt for my bestie Kayla, and my sister Lauren, I would look like a gargoyle on a regular basis. I do however have a few tips that have allowed me to feel a little more put together,

1. Use hair masks! And face masks, and hand masks – all the masks! I currently use a Matrix Hydrasource Biolage hair mask that runs about $14  for 5oz. Super expensive, but super worth it. We live in the age of curling wands and pinterest tutorials that do a TON of damage to our hair so allowing your hair time to recover is essential. Face masks just make me feel glamorous by Fergi! My favorite line is Formula 10.0.6, they have a huge line of $7 masks that have changed my face!

2. Now I warn you this is a ridiculous one, but before you think I’ve lost it let me tell you…it works!

SO ridiculous right? Ok I have CRAZY naturally curly hair, not the good type. It legitimately scares my child. I have been blowing out my hair for YEARS and most people dont even know my hair is naturally curly. I discovered this contraption like 2 months ago looking for hair masks in Sallys. You put your hair in rollers and put this thing on your head and it “drys” your hair! It’s SO much better than direct hard heat, but the REAL plus side is I put my hair in rollers and I sit and edit while its doing its thang. I’m actually using it right now as I type this blog post, so it’s a REAL time saver! Also my hair comes out softer and way shinier than when I did it manually with a brush. This one is by Curlformers. It’s called a “softhood” and a bunch of other companies make it, but I have an emotional attachment to this brand because its my first.

3. Clothing shopping on Amazon

This is nothing new BUT I have been getting a lot of my clothing from Amazon. No more “gee I need a white T-shirt” trip to the mall where I actually spend $80 on hiking boots, a Parka, and no white T-shirt! When I shop on Amazon I search for the white shirt, buy it, and get back to work. Time saver, money saver, and headache saver. So its good in my book!

My favorite topic ever…you guys know im a wedding photographer right? Lets jusmp right in…

1.1.gmod

  1.MagMod   If you havent heard of the Magmod diffusing kit you are seriously missing out. This was my first year using OCF, and the thought of, not only figuring out the flashes and stands and what not, but THEN having to figure out all these diffusers, made me want to throw in the towel.

For the sake of the length of this blog post I am not going to explain OCF, Feel free to message me about any questions but im going to keep it moving. I used to use a Gary Fong diffuser and I did like it a lot but the Magmod system is SO easy, SO quiet, SO compact, and SO effective that it’s hard to say no. To purchase the full kit for two flashes it’ll run you about $400 and this kit does not take place of a softbox, BUT for a fast paced wedding day its perfect!

In an exciting turn of events the Canon 24-70ii is actually NOT my favorite lense. That spot is reserved by the 85 1.2, BUT this lense is on my camera 40% of the wedding day. Why? Because it is so fast, so sharp, versatile while not lacking in quality, and quite honestly lighter than my other lenses. 80% of my reception images are shot with this bad boy and even though that creamy bokeh of the 85 isnt there it still is stinking fantastic, so it makes the cut.

3. Webinars/Podcasts

I am a self taught weddingphotographer. I learned in the streets (not really but it’s more dramatic that way)! I have a handful of photographers I follow who are simply the best educatores out there and sometimes they do free webinars. Some of my favorite are  Katelyn James, Jordan and Amy Demos, Zach and Jody Gray – and there are a ton more out there. I also listen to podcasts on a regular basis. The Boss Mom, Six figure photography, and Dave Ramsey are all favorites.

 

4. Planoly and Facebook scheduling

So, I spent a lot of time this year learning all about the “peak times” to post on social media and I very quickly learned that its the WORST time of day for me. It just aint happenin’. Planoly is an app that allows you to pre type out your instagram posts hashtags and all and just send a notification when its time to post. All I need to do is hit “post” when it comes through my phone and BOOM posted. Facebook also has a scheduling feature that completely posts your posts on its own. So in the morning I wake up and think out my posts, set them up, and then schedule them to go out at the peak times. It’s the best of both worlds! I can take advantage of getting that peak time exposure while pushing my kid on a swing. Does it get better?

 

5. Yeti Coffee Tumblers

Ok, so imagine a world where you’re a lets say…wedding photographer. You get your coffee in the morning and head to your wedding, after the first section of prep and when your headed to the ceremony you would KILL for another cuppa joe but alas…theres no time. You look at your sad bargain brand tumbler holding 3/4 of cold coffee from that morning and die a little inside. OR you look down at your Yeti, pick up and your coffee and  it’s somehow STILL HOT. What is this witchcraft? I dont know, but I will glady spend $20 more on something that actually works.

6. Outsourcing Album Design

I just started offering albums this year. No matter what type of business you run, there is aways something that can be outsourced. I chose my albums. I am a solo-prenuer meaning I run the whole show here which leaves me a trello list a mile long in the beginning of the week. Offering albums was something I desperately wanted to do but just did not have the time to sit down and design an album. So, I outsourced it and its not even that expensive. Moral of the story: working moms of the world, what can you take off of your plate? Is it laundry or housekeeping? See about having somone come in once a week and do a clean sweep. Is it purging your inbox? There are companies that pay people like 10 bucks an hour to organize your inbox content and send you the condensed list in order of importance, I could go on but look for those things that other people could be doing so you could be doing more of what you love.

I hope that some of the things in this post peaked your interest. Many of them changed my life. If you have any specific questions feel free to email me and I would be more than happy to answer!  Also, enjoy my ultimate favorite thing, my fabulous little family!

Ileah and Jon…Married!

Ileah and Jon…Married!

Ileah and Jon…what do you say? They are one of those couples that makes you believe in commitment again. If i could thing of one word to describe them it would be loyalty, for a NUMBER of reasons. Jon is in the military and Ileah goes months without seeing him as he is out fighting for our freedom. During their wedding ceremony the priest said the most beautiful and appropriate thing:

    ” I usually talk about the importance of sacrifice at this point in the ceremony, but i dont have to do that at this wedding because a military marriage knows all too well what sacrifice is, a matter of fact we can look to your marriage if we ever forget the meaning of the word”

   I cried my eyes out as they honored some of Jons fallen friends and tears of joy replaced tears of sadness as they grabbed hands and marched down that isle, because i could SEE how amazingly happy they were! The rest of the wedding was FILLED with beautiful moments, first dances, flirty glances, and hilarious bridal party dance moves and im SO sad that this part of my journey with these two is over 🙁 I spend so much time with my couples and they all take up a corner of my heart and Ileah + Jon are no exception, I wish you both all of the happiness, joy, love, and adventure that marriage will bring you!

Would YOU like to be a lucky NLP bride?!? Simply click this button and lets talk!

My “secret” of success

I am NO business expert…like at all. So this post is going to be based on my observations as a budding wedding photographer who has experienced a tiny bit of success. Recently i have had some photographers reach out to me and ask what it is that i seem to be doing right, I was interviewed for a blog post by Profit Photographers on this exact subject (Read it here! )and honestly i had nothing different to say that you have not already heard. BUT i do have one insight, one constant that ALWAYS pops up while im consulting with a potential bride that im telling you makes ALL of the difference!

   Unfortunately photographers are a dime a dozen, it seems like everywhere you turn someone is trying to get into wedding photography. Yes your work should be the primary reason someone chooses you but im going to drop a truth bomb on you…there are better photographers out there than you. SO how on EARTH do you sell someone on trusting you with their most precious memories? For me the answer is simple…you build an organic REAL relationship with your clients and you establish and provide a client experience that is unlike anything another photographer can offer them. I have spoken to SO many brides this past booking season and i saw a sad similarity, brides were THANKING me actually thanking me for giving them so much attention before they even booked, they LOVED feeling like i was going to go out of my way to not only make the process of finding and booking a wedding photographer easier BUT that i was going to go out of my way to give them the BEST POSSIBLE product that i could. Somewhere along the way wedding photographers are forgetting the importance of the wedding day to the couple, yeah they see dozens of weddings a year but your client cares about how you will see THEIR wedding in a unique way and if you as a photographer do not treat them as an individual and important client they will go find someone who will. 

    Now here is where it gets tricky….I am NOT saying that you should do and say anything to get them to book with you. Show them your organic personality because THAT is who will be following them around all day on their wedding day, you might be able to fake who they want for a phone call BUT when it comes the their wedding day they have to be comfortable with you so they have to know the real you. Another benefit to showing your true colors if that no one else is like you, if you want to stand out do not be afraid to stand out! I am an open book to my clients and i want them to feel comfortable with me, I want them to know that if they have a question they can come to me whenever, I want them to know i am commited to them. That might seem like a huge investment of time and you might be thinking “that seems a little overboard” BUT my brides thank me for this, my bet is photographers that are stuck in a rut might not be practicing a client experience first business model. There are so many little branches to this tree of client exprience and if you are a photographer who needs help contact me and i would LOVE to give you more info as to how exactly i do this! Good luck and happy booking!