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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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What Does a Wedding Photographer Do During the Week?

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What Does a Wedding Photographer Do During the Week?

Being a wedding and portrait photographer means my schedule is a little different from the rest of the world. Many of my sessions take place in the evenings, and almost every single one of my weddings takes place on the weekend.

One of the first questions most people ask when they find out I’m a wedding photographer is: what do you do during the week?!

Totally a valid question, and I definitely understand why people ask!! If I’m photographing people on the evenings and weekends, it might seem as though I have a tonnnnn of free time during the week, but surprising to most, this isn’t quite the case (though it does come with lots of flexibility!). Ever wonder what a wedding photographer does to keep busy during the week? Here are a few things that keep me busy, even when I’m not shooting:

1.  Editing

Yes, those photos will always need to be slightly tweaked, and editing is probably what takes up the majority of my time – especially the week after a wedding!

2.  Bookkeeping & Taxes

While I’m blessed to have someone who does my taxes every year, my job is to pay local taxes (sales and income) and to keep up with my bookkeeping. I try to make sure I’m categorizing my expenses at least once a month, but I try to aim to do this every other week so I don’t get too behind!

3.  Client Management

There are a lot of moving pieces behind sessions and weddings – answering emails, contracts, questionnaires, invoices, session prep, phone calls – the list goes on and on! Thankfully, I recently implemented a new client management software called Pixifi that allows me to do basically all of those things (aside from phone calls and personal emails) right from the software! It’s pretty stinking amazing and has already saved me a ton of time!

4.  Blogging

Blogging has been huge for me in my business. I try to blog at the very least once a week and blog the majority of senior, engagement, family, and weddings I photograph. Prepping blog posts with images and a cohesive story can take a significant amount of time, believe it or not!

5.  Planning out Social Media

One of my absolute favorite things to work on in my business is social media! Believe it or not, I receive quite a few leads through Instagram and Facebook, which have led to booked senior, family, engagement sessions, and weddings! Having the ability to share my work, showcase my client’s stories, provide tips and tricks to current or future clients, and share a little bit about myself has really helped me connect with my clients (and hopefully soon-to-be clients!) in a personal way!

Two of my favorite apps for social media planning are Grum and Hootsuite. To read more about both, check out this article!

6.  Meeting with Perspective Clients

One of the best ways for a wedding couple to get to know their potential wedding photographer is by meeting with them (or Skyping/calling them!). I LOVE having the opportunity to meet with potential clients so I can hear their story and see if we mesh and would be a good fit for their wedding day!

7.  Location Scouting

If I’m photographing someone in a new location, you best believe I’m going to check that place out beforehand! Sometimes I’ll arrive early to a location before a session begins, and sometimes I’ll make a day of visiting different upcoming locations. Even though location scouting can take quite a bit of time, I love being able to make sure I have a game plan for every location I photograph before the session begins!

8.  Submitting Weddings for Publication

One of the fun perks of being in the wedding industry is having the opportunity to have work featured in various online and print magazines! Believe it or not, preparing weddings for submission can take quite a bit of time – narrowing down the perfect photos, gathering other wedding vendor information, and getting specific information from couples is all a part of the process! Check out a few of my features as the bottom of my home page - click here!

9.  Prepping, Cleaning, & Testing Gear

Before every single wedding and session, I make sure to organize, test, and clean my gear to make sure everything is in tiptop shape and working order. I never EVER want to arrive to a shoot with faulty gear (which is why, just in case, I always bring a backup, too!).

10. Practice & Education

I don’t think I will ever feel like I’ve fully arrived with photography. I’m always practicing poses, looking for inspiration, and working to improve my craft – whether it’s through posing, shooting, or actually practicing certain techniques. Before every single session and wedding, I run through my list of prompts and poses (or, for couples, movements) just to make sure I won’t miss anything during the session!

I also have a couple of classes that I love to rewatch every once in a while: Justin and Mary Marantz's "The Art of Authentic Posing" and Katelyn James' "KJ Posing Course." 

11. Photograph Other Types of Sessions

Aside from being a weekend wedding warrior, many wedding photographers take other sessions during the week - even if they don't promote work from those sessions. Personally, I love to fill my weeks with senior, family, and engagement sessions!

Hard to believe there’s so much to be done, right?! And while there are lots of things to keep track of and take care of even when I’m not shooting, I am SO thankful for all of the flexibility my job has given me.

To stay up to date on behind the scenes of JHP, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram!

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What I've Learned Working at Home Full Time for Almost a Year

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What I've Learned Working at Home Full Time for Almost a Year

For my entire life, I’ve dreamed of working from home. I envisioned working from bed in my PJ’s, powering through my work with no interruptions, and feeling oh-so fulfilled by my lack of daily human interaction.

How wrong I was.

Even with my more introverted tendencies, I learned quickly after my first few weeks of working from home full time that there are certain things that need to be added, avoided, and pursued in order to maintain a proper work-life balance. Within the first couple of months, I found myself irritable, angry, annoyed, and isolated – all because I hadn’t set up boundaries or any sort of schedule for myself when it came to work. I slowly learned that there are certain things I need to be intentional about when it comes to working from home.

1. I need to be intentional with my relationships.

Definitely one of my toughest challenges – because I’m such a home body! I love being at home, but working from home by myself means much less human interaction than when I worked in an office with other people – it’s actually much lonelier than I anticipated. I find that I have to work a little bit harder to build relationships because I’m not constantly around people. Setting up lunch dates, coffee breaks, and working with other freelancers or self-employed folks has helped me find ways to build relationships and leads me to my next point…

2. I need to be intentional about getting out of the house.

Being a homebody and an introvert can be a deadly combo. During a period of time last summer when I was working from home and had a break from photo sessions and weddings, I didn’t leave my house for a straight 56 hours. And by not leaving my house – I mean not even setting a foot outside of it. I was going insane by the end of those 56 hours and FINALLY decided that I needed to be intentional about actually leaving my house. Working from my favorite local coffee shop (Wunderbar Café), working with friends, and watching my parents dogs on the occasion have all given me good reasons to get out of the house!

3. I need to be intentional about setting specific work hours.

This is a tough one when you work from home. The wonderful thing about leaving an office is that you close the door and go home – so it’s easier for your brain to say hey, you’re done working for the day! (I know from experience that that’s not always as easy as it sounds, though!). But there’s something about working from home that, instead, makes your brain say hmmmm… I should be doing something right now. I answer emails on this couch during the day, maybe I should do it while I’m hanging out with my husband… And there goes the work-life balance, flying out the window. When I decided to set specific hours for when I work each day of the week, I had a much easier time shutting down my laptop (and my brain) and breaking that association of home equaling work (at least, breaking that constant connection of needing to work all the time!)

4. I need to be intentional about where I work in my home.

I used to work from my couch every SINGLE day. No desk. No chair. (I had both of those, though). I was just so much more comfortable on the couch than I was in my little office! But something strange started happening – when I was sitting on my couch and I wasn’t editing or answering emails, I felt panicked. It took every ounce of self control inside of me to NOT open my laptop at 11PM at night to get some extra work done – even though I knew in my brain that it wasn’t healthy. And to be honest, I failed a LOT at that.

With the help of some friends, I realized that my brain had made an association: sitting on the couch = work time. Not rest time. So every time I would try to simply sit on my couch and rest, all I could think about was work. Soon after realizing this, I knew I needed to be intentional about working in my office as often as I possibly could, and oh my goodness, has it made the biggest difference!

Do you have dreams of working from home? Or are you someone who works from home full time, too? If so, I'd love to connect! Drop a comment below or use the contact tab (above) to get in touch!

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