Silas' First Birthday: McConnell's Mill Family Photos

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Silas' First Birthday: McConnell's Mill Family Photos

I know I'm biased as his aunt, but I think this little nugget is the cutest one year old around! I LOVE when I get to take photos for family, so hanging out with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their son Silas was an absolute blast! I can hardly believe this little guy is nearly a year old. 💛Enjoy a few favorites from their beautiful summer evening family photos at McConnell's Mill below!

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Sam & Matt: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Wedding Photos

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Sam & Matt: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott Wedding Photos

You might remember this duo from their Phipp's Conservatory engagement session last summer (click here to check it out!)! Sam and Matt tied the knot in July at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott on a gorgeous summer day, surrounded by so many of their family and friends! Their ceremony took place in the beautiful courtyard of the hotel, surrounded by flower bushes and officiated by Sam's Mamaw - which was so incredibly sweet and personal!

The ceremony was followed by one heck of a party (when 2nd II None Productions is DJing, it's always a party!), along with the most amazing cupcakes I think I've ever had in my life by the Flour & Sugar Cakery.

Congratulations, Sam and Matt! It was such an honor to be a part of your beautiful day!!

Vendors:

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Pittsburgh Airport Marriott

Makeup: Blake Artistry

Bride's Dress: Bridal Beginnings 

Bridesmaid Dresses: David's Bridal

Florist: Parkway Florist

Cake: Flour & Sugar Cakery

DJ: 2nd II None Productions

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer: Jenna Hidinger Photography

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Rachel C: Historic Harmony Senior Photos

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Rachel C: Historic Harmony Senior Photos

Rachel is a soon-to-be Seneca Valley senior who plays the saxophone and absolutely loves ice cream (especially birthday cake from Brusters)!! Her senior session took place in Historic Harmony, which was actually the perfect location, considering she's been taking music lessons right in town for years! We also found out during her session that she works at the same pool that I worked at as a lifeguard when I was her age - which was so fun to learn, and brought back so many good summer job memories for me!

Rachel, you were a joy to photograph and I wish you nothing but the best heading into your senior year! 💛

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Jacob C: Hartwood Acres Senior Photos

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Jacob C: Hartwood Acres Senior Photos

Jacob is a senior at Laurel Highlands High School and is probably one of the nicest senior guys you'll ever meet! I have absolutely loved working with this awesome family throughout the last few years (see Jacob's brother's senior photos from 2014 here!) and was SO excited when they contacted me again, this time for Jacob's senior photos!

Since Jacob's friends call him "soup," (quite fitting since his last name is "Campbell"), Jacob incorporated some Campbells-themed attire into his session, including a bow tie and some Converse shoes! And, since Jacob plays soccer, we incorporated some of those items, too!

Wendy, Jacob, and Brielle (his soon-to-be sister-in-law!): we absolutely LOVED hanging out with all of you. It was such an honor to take these photos for you! Jacob, you're going to do amazing things!

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Emily & Brady: Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe Wedding Photos

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Emily & Brady: Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe Wedding Photos

I've been looking forward to Emily and Brady's wedding for quite some time since their North Shore engagement session (click here to see it!) early this year. Thankfully - their wedding day was slightly warmer than the day we took their engagement photos! ;) And even more thankfully - it didn't rain, as we expected it to!

Emily and Brady's wedding day started out at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe, a beautiful hotel right in Canonsburg! Emily's bridesmaids wore a slate blue dress color, which definitely has to be one of my favorite wedding colors I've seen at any of my weddings this season - it's classy, refined, and photographs like a dream!

After some getting ready photos around the hotel, we headed over to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in the heart of Washington, PA for the ceremony. Afterwards, we stopped at Washington & Jefferson College for bridal party & bride and groom photos. And seriously - this has to be one of my new favorite spots for photos! There is so much beautiful architecture, along with quaint historical buildings, that make it the perfect spot for wedding photos with tons of variety!

I know that everyone is supposed to be madly in love on their wedding day - but these two really were. In the midst of the craziness of a wedding day, it's easy to feel the need to push past really savoring moments with one another throughout the day - but it was easy to see that Emily and Brady took the time to truly enjoy themselves, each other, and their family and friends who came to celebrate with them, without getting caught up in the craziness. THOSE are my favorite weddings to be a part of. The ones that aren't just about a one day wedding - they're about a marriage commitment, and a lifelong love between two people.

Without further ado, I'm SO excited to share just a small fraction of my favorite photos from Emily and Brady's wedding day. Congratulations, you two! 💛Thank you for the honor of being a part of your day!

Vendors:

Ceremony: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Reception: Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe

Bride's Dress: Exquisite Bride

Hair: Hair by Bri

Makeup: Veiled Complexions

DJ: All Star Events (Jason Lacko)

Cake: Bethel Bakery

Florist: Washington Square Flower Shop

Second Shooter: Ashley McLaughlin

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer: Jenna Hidinger Photography

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What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Photographing Weddings

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What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Photographing Weddings

Can I tell you about my first wedding for a second? Oh my goodness, was it ROUGH. And no, not because of the couple (who was amazing!) or the photos (which I actually think were pretty good for my first wedding!) - what made my first wedding rough was all of the things that I didn’t know going into it. That’s true with anything, but for a girl who had only been to one wedding my life (as a flower girl when I was four), you could say that there was a lot I didn’t know about weddings.

The truth is, I didn’t have a whole lot of grace for myself in that initial learning period. Maybe you can relate: you start something new, you give it everything you have – and, still, your expectations for yourself fall a little flat. You know what you want, but you don’t necessarily know how to get there yet. Truth be told, that’s a lesson I am still learning, and one that I’ve dedicated a big portion of this year to learning. And in honor of this lesson that I’m learning, I want to share four things I wish I would’ve known when I first started photographing weddings – or maybe, more aptly, four ways I wish I would’ve given myself grace that first time around.

1.     It’s going to take some trial and error.

You know what the funny thing is about doing something for the first time? YOU’VE NEVER DONE IT BEFORE! Or, maybe from a different perspective – you really have little to no experience. When I shot my first wedding, I had second shot with a few other photographers before, but nothing would fully prepare me for my first wedding as lead photographer. I felt so much pressure to make sure everything was perfect, and in the process, totally forgot (or really, neglected) to give myself the grace of knowing that there would be a bit of a learning curve. And you know what? I’m still learning six years later, and I'm still having to practice giving myself grace with every single session.

2.     Learning from other people is a necessity!

And speaking of learning – learning from other people is a COMPLETE necessity! I used to feel embarrassed asking other people for help, or even just asking clarifying questions to people who were kind enough to teach me. But when I photograph my first wedding, I had to seek out people who could show me the ropes, and even more importantly – I had to be willing to hear their critique and learn from them with an open mind so that I could improve faster!

3.     Know your gear inside and out!!

Here’s a funny story for you – for my first wedding, I rented some new gear that I had never used before. I had seen it online, I had read the reviews, watched the tutorials – but when I got said gear in the mail (including a camera), I noticed that the camera I had rented took a different type of memory card than what I had! I had literally no idea what to do because I never even knew that there was a different type of memory card out there that I could use!

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After shedding a few tears, I ordered a few memory cards that I could use in my fancy rented camera and overnight shipped them to myself. By the grace of God they made it on time, but shortly after, I realized that I had actually spent more money renting gear and buying memory cards than I received in payment for the wedding. And since I didn’t know how to use that gear – I fumbled through the wedding day with it. Looking back, I realize now that it would’ve been more to my benefit to use the gear I already had and was confident using instead of renting a bunch of gear that I didn’t even know how to use, just because it was “fancy!”

4.     IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A BREAK.

One of the hardest things for me to do during that first wedding was to sit down during dinner (when there was literally nothing going on to take photos of!) and EAT. And hydrate. And go to the restroom – like a normal human being. I remember Nick (my now husband) physically forcing the camera from my hands and coaxing me to sit down at the spot my couple had so graciously reserved for me to eat dinner. I didn’t realize that it was not only okay, but necessary for me to give my body a teeny tiny bit of rest and refuel – I believed that I had to be taking a photo every five seconds, even while people were eating (and who wants their photo taken while they’re eating?!). Breaks are not only good, but necessary!

What about you? Where do you need to give yourself a little bit of grace? Is it time to give yourself the rest you need? Maybe you need to bow the knee and give yourself the grace and humility to learn from those around you. Or maybe you just need to let yourself fail so that you can pick yourself up and try again next time. Whatever your “thing” might be – give yourself the grace to do it at your own pace. Decide to hold yourself to a standard of grace – not perfection.

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Hockenberry Family: North Shore Family Photos

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Hockenberry Family: North Shore Family Photos

One thing I LOVE about photographing people in Pittsburgh is that there are an overwhelming amount of amazing backgrounds to choose from - which was so true with this family session!

I had the pleasure of photographing this family with their extended family a few years ago and was so honored when they asked me to take a few photos of them in on North Shore this year! I love how thoughtful this family was when choosing their location, too - Sherry (Mom) is an engineer who works on bridges, making the bridges of Pittsburgh the perfect background for their session! They also have a painting of Gus & YiaYia's iceball stand on the North Side that these photos will hang near - making the Pittsburgh theme come full circle!

I'm so thankful for you three, Sherry, Bill, and Logan! Thank you for an awesome evening!!

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Herbie's First Birthday: Mellon Park Family Photos

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Herbie's First Birthday: Mellon Park Family Photos

I met up with Nicolas, Natalie, and Hera (Herbie) at Mellon Park a few weeks ago for the most beautiful little first birthday session!

This sweet family recently moved from Durham, NC (fun fact: that's where I was born!) to Pittsburgh, PA - and I'm pretty sure they have the cutest baby EVER! These three were complete naturals in front of the camera, and I'm so honored that I was able to capture all of Herbie's one year old cuteness! Check out a few of my favorites below! 

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Lauren + Cody: Downtown Beaver, PA Engagement Photos

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Lauren + Cody: Downtown Beaver, PA Engagement Photos

If you've been following the blog for a little while, you might remember Lauren and Cody from their adorable Moraine State Park family session last year (click here to see more!). 

A few weeks ago, Lauren reached out to me and let me know that her and Cody would like to have their engagement photos taken in downtown Beaver, PA! I had never been to downtown Beaver before (even though I've lived nearly 25 minutes away for basically my entire life!), so a few days later, I headed down to check it out. And oh my gosh - was I BLOWN away!

Downtown Beaver is the perfect mix of quaint buildings and bustling town life! The main street is full of adorable and eclectic restaurants, ice cream & donut shots, as well as lots of great little window shops. To say I was excited for their session was an understatement! During their session, we walked all around town, and even had time to visit the nearby historic train station! We had SO much stinking fun!!!

Lauren and Cody, you two are a blessing to work with and I could not be more excited for your wedding day! 

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7 Ways to Blog More Efficiently

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7 Ways to Blog More Efficiently

If someone told you that they could give you a tool to market your business for FREE online, up your Google rankings, increase trust with your current and future customers, all while making your clients feel like a million bucks, would you believe them?!

This is EXACTLY what blogging can do! Blogging is one of my FAVORITE marketing tools I use in my business and has been essential in my business’s growth over the past few years! Though I most definitely have SO MUCH to learn in the technicalities of blogging, today I wanted to answer a frequently asked question that I receive from other business owners: how do I go about blogging consistently and efficiently?

Having a blog is a double edge sword. If you have one and you’re not posting on it – it doesn’t look too great, like you don’t have any work to share (and clients love to work with people who other people love to work with!). But on the same note, blogs can be incredibly tough to keep up with when you’re trying to manage a million other facets of your business.

There are seven techniques I’ve implemented throughout the last couple of years to ensure that I am blogging as regularly and as efficiently as possible. If YOU want to blog more but aren’t sure how to get the most out of the time you allot to blogging – these seven tips are for you! First:

1.  Choose a blogging schedule that you can actually STICK to, and make it consistent.

I’m no SEO (search engine optimization) expert, but I know that Google loves consistency and rewards websites that post consistently! (Read more about how blogging consistently affects your Google ranking here!)

In addition to being great for SEO, being consistent with blogging builds trust with clients and lets them see that (1) you are busy, and (2) that you have consistent knowledge to share that will add value to their lives and to the service you are/could be providing them! Because clients want to know that you are knowledgeable and in demand, it’s important to find a blogging schedule that is consistent and that you can actually stick to. Both of these things take time – it might take some trial and error to figure out what the best blogging schedule is for you!

For example, last year, I decided I wanted to blog FOUR times a week. Before that, I was only blogging maybe once or twice a week, but I was determined that four would be the magic number that would work best for me. Well, low and behold, my four day a week blogging schedule failed after the second week because I just couldn’t keep up! Instead, I decided to cut it in half and commit to blogging twice a week. THAT I’ve been able to stick to for almost a year now! But your optimal blogging schedule might be different. Maybe blogging once a week is perfect for you, or maybe blogging once every other week is just right! Whatever the case, choose a schedule and decide that you’re going to stick to it!

2.  Answer frequently asked questions.

This is one of my favorite tips for people who are looking to blog more. First: know who your audience is, and second: answer their burning questions! No matter what industry you’re in, chances are you have some type of reader, customer, or client who has a question for you, and answering those questions makes you an expert in your field (or, in their eyes!) and someone that people can rely on for knowledge. For example, as a senior photographer, lots of people ask me what to wear for their photos. Here’s a post I wrote answering that question! As a wedding photographer, lots of people ask me about what I think about a “first look.” Here’s a post I wrote on that! And as someone who owns a photography business, LOTS of people ask me what type of gear they should buy, and what type of gear I own. You can check out those blog posts here and here!

Not sure what questions you should be answering? All you have to do is simply ASK! Ask the people who read your blog or who buy your product/service what they want to know, and I have a feeling they’ll tell you!

3.  Keep a list of ideas handy!

I used to think of a great idea for a blog post while I was shopping, driving, or having a conversation with a friend, only to sit down later to blog and completely forget what it was! I decided I needed to start writing down my ideas as I had them so that I could have a plethora to choose from when the time came!

My favorite tool for keeping track of my blog ideas is Wunderlist. Wunderlist is basically an app that allows you to make lists on your phone – super simple, but super effective!

4.  Batch work.

This has been one of the BIGGEST game changers over the past year! I used to write blog posts the day before I wanted to post them, or I would write a blog post and want to post it right away. But by batching the writing and scheduling of my blog posts I now actually get more done faster, because my brain is already in the “writing” mode, and isn’t switching from one task to another. I’m also able to write a couple of blog posts within a span of a few hours so that I’m (usually) ahead of the game and prepared to post content a few weeks (or months) in advance! Whenever I schedule time to work on blogging, I typically try to take the first four or last four hours of my work day to do so, so I can REALLY get in a groove and pump out some good content!

5.  Schedule your posts on social media.

So now that you’ve written your content, you need to make sure you’re promoting it so that people can benefit from it! Using a variety of platforms to promote your blog content is key to more views and interaction. I love to use Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to promote my blog posts, in particular.

Because I batch write and schedule my content, I love to use social media scheduling apps like Hootsuite (for Facebook) and Grum (for Instagram), where I’ll write a short (and hopefully engaging!) description, paired with a photo, to promote and lead people to the post.

6.  Re-share your content.

I used to be afraid of resharing my blog content because I was afraid of what people would think. Why is she sharing this again? Didn’t I just read something like this?! But after listening to a podcast/pep talk from the host of the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher, I realized that no one is paying that close attention. If I wrote a really amazing blog post a year ago – you better believe I’m going to share it again a year or even a few months later with a different spin! And because I’ve gained new followers (and because there’s no way that ALL of my followers saw that particular blog post the first time around), it’s not going to seem too repetitive!

7.  Use apps like BlogStomp to create blogs with images MUCH faster!

I don’t know where I would be without BlogStomp! BlogStomp lets you quickly “stomp” (or save) photos into a web-sized format, and even lets the user create different collages with their photos (i.e., two vertical photos right next to each other). If you are someone who includes lots of photos in your blog posts, I promise that this will save you a TON of time and make your blogging move so much faster!

This post is in NO way meant to be your end all, be all for creating a blog. There is so much more to creating a blog than simply working efficiently, and honestly, still so many things that I don't fully understand that have to do with using key words, back linking, Google analytics and more technical things. I highly recommend checking out some additional resources to make sure your blog is running as effectively and efficiently as possible!

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