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8 Tips for Aspiring Photographers

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8 Tips for Aspiring Photographers

I have something embarrassing to share: when I first started out in photography, I spammed the HECK out of people. Without a doubt, I would almost always ask the same question to as many photographers as I could, over and over: what advice do you have for someone starting out in photography?

 The answers very widely from “get the best gear you can!” to “gear is a waste of time and money if you don’t know how to use it!” to “don’t compare yourself” to no answer at all (that was the most popular ;) )  -  and now, this is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from other aspiring photographers. So today I wanted to share a few of my favorite answers!

1.     If you’re just starting out - try it ALL!

One of the toughest things about starting out as a photographer? You won’t necessarily know what kind of photography you love most until you actually try different types!

When I first started getting into photography, I photographed anyone who would let me! Seniors, couples, families, newborns, young kids, professionals, products, weddings, and really, it took a couple of years for me to figure out where my “sweet spot” was, and where it wasn’t. Which is why I do not photograph newborns or products, but love seniors, couples, and families!

2.     STOP COMPARING YOURSELF.

You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s worth mentioning over and over again: don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle! You never know the story behind how someone’s gotten to where they are, or how much work they’ve put in to get there. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself!

3.     Practice, practice, practice – and break that practice down into manageable goals and steps!

This might be the most obvious piece of advice, but you HAVE to put in the work to learn! Don’t be afraid to put yourself into situations where you have to learn a new skill, and don’t be hard on yourself for the time it takes to master each new skill.

For example, a few years ago, I decided that I wanted to really step up my wedding photography game – but I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that needed to improve. So, I wrote a list of my top 10 things I wanted to focus on and improve, and each wedding, I tried to focus on one of those improvements – not on all ten things, just on one. By the end of the year, I had ten new skills to incorporate into all of my weddings, each building on the last. And by taking it one skill at a time, one wedding at a time, I was able to improve in a way that wasn’t overwhelming!

4.     Take intentional social media breaks.

Ahhh, social media: where creativity goes to die. Social media can be inspiring, encouraging, and community-driven, but if we’re honest, many times it can leave us feeling lackluster and isolated. Social media seems to breed comparison faster than almost anything else, so taking intentional breaks can be a great way to reset and let your own creativity come to the surface.

5.     Find inspiration from other creative (or non-creative!) mediums.

Other creative endeavors can be a great way to gain inspiration and a different point of view! You never know what can spill over from one medium into another.

6.     Find community with other photographers – beginners and pros.

This has been one of the most life-changing tips for me over the last year! It’s amazing what a simple connection can do – finding other like-minded people who are in the same boat as you, or even further along, make a huge difference in attitude and in success as a whole! We need others in order to succeed. If you don’t believe me, go read The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud!

7.     Find inspiration from other types of photography.

If you’re a portrait photographer, follow a wedding photographer. If you’re a wedding photographer, follow a landscape photographer. If you’re a landscape photographer, follow a sports photographer. You might find something interesting that you can incorporate in a unique way into your work! For example, as a wedding photographer, following food photographers has helped me learn how to better style wedding day details. Many food photographers will use stylists or incorporate their own special tricks into making their food photography stand out – some of which I’ve been able to incorporate into my wedding day detail styling! You never know where you might pick up a bit of inspiration!

8.     If you struggle with comparison but still want to follow the work of other photographers, follow photographers who teach, not just photographers who simply post their work.

A few years ago, I was so in the thick of social media comparison that I knew I either needed to totally delete my accounts or find a way to manage what I was feeling. I remember sitting down with my husband and going through the Instagram accounts I was following, one-by-one saying “yes, I compare myself to that person” or “no, I don’t compare myself to that person.” It might sound silly, but I learned something from it: the people I was following, or specifically the photographers I was following that I tended to not compare myself to were educators. Maybe it’s selfish – but the fact that those photographers posed their accounts as wanting to help me, not simply just show their work, helped me not feel the need to compare myself. And I’ve been using that “line” to judge who I should and shouldn’t follow ever since!

Looking for additional help and resources to feel more confident and comfortable behind your camera? I now offer a limited number of mentoring sessions per year, along with a few digital resources to aid other photographers on their journey! Check out my Senior Guy Posing Guide below, or to inquire about a mentoring session, use the Contact tab above!

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The One Piece of Gear I Can't Live Without

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The One Piece of Gear I Can't Live Without

Well… besides a camera and a few lenses, that is. 😉

My personality lends itself to becoming bit “obsessed” with things – typically, I’ll become obsessed with a certain type of food. For example, my most recent obsession is fried eggs. I literally eat them ALL of the time. For breakfast. For lunch, when I work from home. For dinner, if I can sneak one into the meal somehow (try sneaking a fried egg into an Italian dish – not easy!). But every once in a while, I get obsessed with something that sticks... and the obsession never goes away.

ARTIFICIAL REFLECTORS

When I first started taking portraits of people as a senior in high school (class of 2011, if you can believe it!), I kept looking at my photos, compared them to others, and wondered why mine were falling flat. The skin tone wasn’t creamy – it was flat. The eyes weren’t lit up – they were dark, without light – but no matter what I did with my camera and my subject, I couldn’t create consistency within my portrait work.

 Then, one day, someone told me about a reflector. And it blew. My. Mind. And completely the changed my portrait work for the better! If you’ve never used a reflector, I’d personally equate it to a little slice of heaven, and most definitely one of my longest standing obsessions. You see, a reflector bounces light onto your subject to do things like:

1.     Pop the eyes.

2.     Create creamy, dreamy skin tones.

3.     Fill in unwanted shadows.

4.     And lighten deep set eyes.

MY FAVORITE REFLECTOR

Here’s the reflector that I use. It’s a 5-in-one collapsible piece of amazingness that I kind of have a hard time living without! This lovely piece of equipment has 5 sides and 5 uses:

1.     The White Side softly pops light into the eyes. This side is great to use on a bright day when you want to give your subject’s eyes a little more light!

2.     The Silver Side: in contrast to the white side, the silver side of the reflector has a bit more “pop.” It’s best to use the silver side on a rainy or overcast day for some extra light!

3.     The Gold Side was created to reflect gold light. For example, if you’re shooting portraits during golden hour or sunset, the gold side of the reflector will match the gold light in the sky.

4.     The Black Side of the reflector, in contrast to the rest of the sides, creates shadow and detracts light, or limits any stray and unwanted light.

5.     The Diffuser is what the other sides “zip” over. The diffuser is great for, you guessed it, diffusing light. For example, if I want to put someone outside in an area with harsh, direct light, but want soft light, I just take out my handy dandy diffuser and hold it over them, effectively casting a shadow over my subject, resulting in even light.

DIY REFLECTORS

If you don’t want to wait for your reflector to come in the mail, or if you’re curious to see the affect before you invest, I’d suggest buying a simple piece of white poster-board. In fact, when I first started out… I didn’t even have a real reflector. I just carried around two pieces of poster-board: one white, and one covered in foil (if I needed a stronger reflector!).

NATURAL REFLECTORS

If you don’t have a reflector, or if you find yourself in a situation without one, you can also utilize natural reflectors. But you might be wondering… what exactly is a natural reflector? Didn’t I just tell you to consider buying this other “artificial” reflector from Amazon?

While an artificial reflector can be folded down and carried around with me anywhere, ready to for me to use whenever I need it, natural reflectors are reflective surfaces found on location (and not at every location!). For example, one of my favorite examples of a natural reflector is a cement sidewalk. But why does this make such a great natural reflector? A cement sidewalk is usually a creamy ivory color, which reflects onto the skin, making it luminescent, and making the eyes pop - much like the white side of an artificial reflector. Snow is also an excellent natural reflector (but, of course, is every seasonal...), and pavement can be used as a natural reflector as well, because it is a neutral color.

Using a neutral colored natural reflector is of the utmost importance. If you have your subject standing on, for example, grass, in the mid-day sunlight, that green grass will reflect a green color cast onto your subject… which typically isn’t very flattering. In fact, it usually looks a bit sickly!

Don’t be afraid to get creative about your natural reflectors, too. I once used a whole building painted white as a natural reflector. I used to have a white car that I would use from time to time. And sometimes, in a bridal suite on wedding days when I’m in a pinch, I’ll use a white pillow! It doesn’t matter what you use or how ridiculous you look - as long as the color is neutral and it reflects, it’s fair game!

So if you’re looking for a way to flatter the appearance of your subject and enhance the quality of your work – I would highly suggest either buying a reflector, making your own reflector, or simply scouting out a location in advance to find some natural reflectors that you can utilize! Even if you have to use a car, pillow, or building - it’s worth it!

Happy reflecting!

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How I Blog the Majority of my Client Sessions

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How I Blog the Majority of my Client Sessions

If you haven’t read the first blog posts in this two part series, I highly recommend going back to read Why I Blog the Majority of my Client Sessions first! A why powers a how more than anything else!

 But if you’ve already read the why, I’d love to share a little bit behind the process of how I keep up with blogging 50+ client sessions per year, as well as 20+ weddings!

If just reading that last sentence makes you sweat, I totally get it. Blogging used to feel super overwhelming to me until I made it a part of my workflow for each of my sessions/weddings. Now, it just feels like a part of the process that I can’t skip! Below are a few things that help me keep up with the process of blogging. I hope they help you, too!

 1.     Have a solid workflow that makes blogging a priority.

When I send my clients their final gallery of images, they almost always receive a link to a blog post as well – and that blog post link comes first in that email, before the gallery link! Why? I want my clients to see my favorite images from each part of their session first – leaving them with a positive impression from the start! I use a customizable template email when sending my clients their links, so it actually creates more work for me when I don’t blog, because I have to change my template email! When I know I really should be doing something in my business, I try to set up a process that makes it harder for me to opt-out (or, for example, not blog), so I have to do it!

2.     Make it easy on yourself, for Pete’s sake!

You will be much less likely to blog if it feels like a giant chore! Believe it or not, I actually feel excited when I finish a session and jump into creating the blog post, because I know I’ll be able to showcase the very best images from my client’s session to them first! But I digress: one of the best tips I could possibly give is to make the process easier on yourself by looking for ways to make your blogging process simpler and more streamlined. I love using Squarespace as my blog host, because it’s super user friendly and easy to use. I can easily upload my photos, tag my content to make it SEO friendly, and post my content without too much effort! I also love using BlogStomp, which allows me to quickly size images for my blog and make collages out of multiple images with the click of a button.

3.     Batch your blogging.

This is a big one I learned from a great educator and photographer named Jenna Kutcher! Batching your work basically means setting aside a large chunk of time to complete one task, or a repeating task (instead of going from one thing to the next, to another thing, and so on!). This past year (2018) was the first time I really buckled down on batching my blog content, and let me tell you, it made a world of difference!

This year, I worked on editing multiple sessions throughout the week, then created blog posts for all of my completed galleries at the very end of the week, usually on either Thursday or Friday. I felt like I was able to work on other content and tasks throughout the week without stressing about getting my blog posts done, because I knew that I would have time to really focus in on my blogging when the end of the week rolled around!

The best thing you could possibly do for yourself when it comes to blogging is to find a process that works for you. Your process might look different from another photographers, and your frequency of blogging might look different from someone else’s. But the key thing to remember: be consistent. Whatever you decide to do with your blogging, remember that consistency is key, and that you can always start small and build up! Don’t be discouraged by others around you who might be blogging more. We all had to start somewhere at some point. So just start!

I’m rooting for you!

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Why I Blog the Majority of my Client Sessions

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Why I Blog the Majority of my Client Sessions

One of the biggest questions I get from other photographers is: how do you make the time to blog so many of your sessions and weddings?

Even though the question might be asked as a “how?” I’ve found the ability to remain consistent with my blogging in my “why.” Keeping my why(s) at the forefront of my attention when it comes to blogging has allowed me to continue to blog my sessions consistently for almost four straight years.

 If you’re looking for a how, I challenge you to first redefine your why behind blogging. Below are four of the top reasons why I continue to blog almost every senior, family and wedding!

1.     Blogging makes clients feel important and loved.

How do I know this? Because I have been the person on the receiving end of photos (and blog posts!). When our engagement photos, wedding photos, and anniversary photos were blogged – I felt SO excited and honored that my photographer thought they were worthy of being shared! I know that quite a few JHP clients feel the same way, because they’ve literally gone out of their way to tell me so!

2.     It’s an easy way to share the “highlights” with their friends and family!

Scrolling through a dozen (or a few dozen) images in a blog post is quicker and easier than looking through a gallery of a few hundred images. Not to mention, friends and family members could be potential customers who might need their photo taken someday! I like to view each of my blog posts as a mini portfolio that has the potential to reach the friends and family of whoever is in the blog post in a more personal way.

3.     It allows clients to see the best (or my favorite!) images first, (hopefully) making them more excited!

A blog post should include the best of the best, telling the story of a wedding day or a session. Seeing the very best of their gallery first heightens their excitement to see the rest of the gallery and sets a positive tone from the get-go!

4.     It helps with SEO and with getting people to your website!

I’m no expert on SEO, but what I do know is this: Google likes new content, and a blog post is a great way to add new content to my website! Sharing client sessions is a great way to build SEO for your local area and (hopefully!) get more clients who are looking for a similar service/product!

If you are looking to start blogging more, my encouragement to you would be to start small. Don’t feel like you have to start blogging all of your sessions at once with multiple blog posts per week. Start with one every week, and then increase your consistency as you start to find a rhythm that feels right for you. Remember: “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

I’m rooting for you!

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3 Ways to Support Local Businesses Without Spending a Dime

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3 Ways to Support Local Businesses Without Spending a Dime

Nearly 4 in 10 Americans has a side hustle (source), which means that about half of everyone you know is working on growing a service or product that can support them in addition to their current job – not to mention the immense amount of Americans who are self-employed, or working for small businesses! But with so many small business owners and side-hustlers, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to support them all from a financial standpoint. But did you know that there are ways you can support side-hustlers and local businesses without spending a dime?

 Below are three ways you can start supporting local businesses – without spending a dime – today!  

1.  Like and share their social media content.

SupportLocalBusinesses.jpg

This may be the easiest way to support a local business owner, considering that 77% of Americans are on some form of social media (source). Sharing a small business owner’s content helps them get in front of a different audience than they might normally be able to reach on their own!

2.  Refer them to your friends and family! (If you like them! ;) )

Most small business owners offer a product or service that can solve a problem. Need the best haircut of your life? Let me tell you about the salon I love! Looking for someone to groom your dog? I know the best groomer out there! We naturally talk about and share what we love, and if you know someone who you love who owns a small business, don’t be afraid to talk about them to those who they might be able to help!

3.  Leave positive online reviews.

The very first thing I do when I am recommended a new product or service is head straight to Google to find some reviews! If I’m looking at two similar products, and one has some mixed reviews? I’m a bit more hesitant. But if there’s a similar product with loads of amazingly awesome, 5 star reviews?  You’ve got my attention, and you better believe I’ll be buying from them! Even if you’ve never used a business’s product or service, if you have a personal relationship with the business owner and can speak into things like their character, work ethic, or integrity, that is a HUGE piece of the pie for potential buyers to consider and is (dare I say) just as valuable as an excellent, quality product or service!


Use these three ideas to show a little love to the local business owners in your life - I know they’ll love ya for it!

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How to Pursue a Healthier Work Life Balance

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How to Pursue a Healthier Work Life Balance

“When does Jenna feel like the healthiest version of herself?” As the question  filled the room, my first reaction was to push back - to dub this appointment a mistake and walk out the door. The reason why: I hadn’t thought for a second in the last five years how and when I feel healthiest. I simply saw a goal and pushed through, whatever it took, to achieve it.

If you’re familiar with the Enneagram test, I’m a type 3. And if you’re unfamiliar, a type 3 is the classic achiever: the type of person who sees what it takes to achieve what they want and goes for it, sometimes neglecting other important areas of life to get there. They hustle hard, often to the detriment of themselves and others if they aren’t careful.

This is where I found myself at the end of last year. Hustling hard in my business, and burning out as a result. I’m a people-pleaser and a “yes” girl at heart, simply desiring to make others happy, with a desire for affirmation. So somehow, throughout the years, I allowed my schedule and my life to be dictated by everyone but me: I found myself bitter towards others for decisions I alone had the power to make, and that’s when I knew I was in a dangerous place. I knew it was really dangerous when I “suddenly” wanted to quit. But really, it wasn’t so sudden. I had been doing this to myself for years, and it had finally caught up with me.

So, I asked myself the same question my therapist asked me: when do I feel like the healthiest version of myself? And what will it take to get there?

The biggest word that stood out to me - the constant theme that kept popping up as I began to seek answers and healing was this word: boundaries.

If you’re anything like me before I actually set up some good, solid boundaries, you’re probably thinking: I’ve heard this all before! I know I need to set up boundaries. But then you just… don’t. You know you need to, but you keep moving at the pace you’re currently moving at, because, well – something about it feels good. It feels validating, even. That’s what busyness does – it falsely validates achievement and success until busyness becomes our idol. For example, in the wedding photography industry, we love to talk about how many weddings we have booked. It feels good to hear that number and for it to be the highest in the room or in the Facebook group – until you’re actually grinding through all of those weddings, and they aren’t fun anymore. They’re just work.

The biggest thing that has the power to destroy my passion is my pursuit of busy.

And really, that’s the LAST thing I ever want my work to become: just work. I started photographing weddings, seniors, and families because it’s my passion. I feel alive and like I was doing what I was created to do when I’m loving and encouraging people with a camera in my hand. But the biggest thing that has the power to destroy my passion is my pursuit of busy.

When I realized that, I knew immediately that something needed to be done. But what? Lucky for me, I had a few months of an “off” season from weddings with light work (January through March) to really think things through. What boundaries would I need to set up to make sure I stayed passionate? Or, as a friend of mine likes to say: what was my “long game” going to be? If I focused on the short term – booking the maximum amount of weddings and shoots I could for the year – I would inevitably burn out. But if I focused on my long game – what would allow me to do what I love (and keep loving it!) for the longest amount of time I possibly could – I could continue to love and serve my clients in the way I desired to, without growing any bitterness in my heart.

I decided to set up the boundaries listed below. But before you read through these, let me preface this list by saying that I know that everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you, and what works for you might not work for me. You might be able to do more and still remain passionate – but for me, these changes helped me avoid burnout and while remaining passionate:

  • I took at least one FULL day off per week – mandatory! For me, that meant no shoots, no email, no meetings or phone calls, and no editing. Typically, my day off fell on Sunday.

  • No answering emails on the weekend (and I put up an away message to make sure I stuck to it and had NO excuses!).

  • No answering emails past 5PM, unless I designated the evening a “work” evening (i.e., if I started my work day a little later).

  • I took only one wedding per weekend. Period.

  • No sessions the evening before or morning after a wedding.

  • I limited the number of sessions I took, especially during wedding weeks. My goal was one to two shoots on the weeks where I had a wedding scheduled (this one was harder to stick to during my busiest months, but was much better than last year!).

  • I set up a calendar for people to schedule their sessions from dates I picked out in advance, rather than having a free-for-all when it came to booking.

  • In addition to a booking calendar, I invested in a management software called Pixifi, where I can manage clients, invoices, contracts, proposals, workflows, automation and questionnaires – all in one place! I really believe that this is the best piece of software I’ve ever invested in - it’s been like having a virtual online assistant for super cheap! If you’re interested in checking it out, click here!

  • I limited my social media usage. Because, let’s be honest – social media is a breeding ground for comparison! I started using apps like Hootsuite and Grum to schedule my content so that it would automatically post, instead of me having to log into the app every time I needed to post!


And here is how these specific boundaries impacted my year:

  • I was able to enjoy my job SO MUCH MORE! There were still periods of time where I felt overwhelmed, but overall, I feel like my workload was much more manageable!

  • I was able to give each client my full attention at their session, instead of worrying about how much work (or editing) I still had to do.

  • I was able to pour more into my relationship with my husband. Instead of constantly working, day and night, we were able to enjoy more time together and continue to build our relationship!

  • I picked up a couple of hobbies and made time for them! I know it sounds crazy, but for one of the first times in my LIFE I felt like I could take the time to enjoy things that I wanted to do for myself, and not just things I needed to do to get the job done. A few mentionable include: writing, knitting, baking, and reading! (Just call me Grandma Jenna!) And I’m hoping that list keeps expanding!

  • I was able to invest into other areas of my business. I found something else that’s fun for me – photographing stock imagery! It’s something that I can do on the side of my full time business, but without any pressure!

  • I ended 2018 in a MUCH better place mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually than I ended 2017. I feel like I have more clarity, stability, and grit than ever before! (But still with a long way to go and lots to improve!)

  • And the real kicker: I set up these boundaries thinking that it would mean taking a pay cut – and I was truly okay with that. But, surprisingly, the opposite happened – I actually made 25% MORE this year than last year!

When do you feel like the healthiest version of yourself?

My question for you is the same one that was asked of me at the end of 2017: When do you feel like the healthiest version of yourself? And what boundaries do you need to put in place to make sure you get there? Are you playing the short game, or the long game?

If you’re in the same boat that I was (and that I sometimes still have one foot in! ;) ), know that you aren’t alone. Don’t allow yourself to go through another year – or, heck, another week without sitting down and putting even one small boundary in place to work towards the healthiest version of yourself. Make 2019 your year. I’m rooting for you!

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Favorite Podcasts from 2018

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Favorite Podcasts from 2018

Plain and simple: I’m a firm believer that ALL of the content we put into our brains have BIG affects on us, and we get to decide whether that content is going to be life-giving or life-sucking. Today, I want to share a few of my favorite positive and encouraging (but also challenging!) podcasts!

 All of these podcasts are hosted by women, and many of these podcasts are business related, but all of them have a greater purpose of encouraging and challenging listeners to dream bigger, walk in community, and to not let fear hold them back from the lives they are called to live. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

1.     Business Boutique (Christy Wright)

I only discovered Christy Wright’s Business Boutique podcast a few months ago, and it’s safe to say that I am OBSESSED! If you have ever heard of financial guru Dave Ramsey, Christy Wright is actually what they call a “Ramsey personality” who tours the country speaking at his events! Besides working for the Ramsey company, Christy is also a writer, mom, podcaster, with a passion for equipping women to make money doing what they love. And basically – that’s what the podcast is all about! Christy dives into all things business, including the how-to’s, the fears, the emotions, all with engaging content that I truly believe has the power to change lives. Christy speaks from her personal experience and also hosts other amazing women and men who can speak directly into specific topics, ranging from things like growing a side hustle, to creating the perfect business idea, to building business relationships, to digital marketing. A few of my favorite episodes include: “Shake off your shame,” (which is my favorite podcast episode of ALL TIME!), “Is it fear, or wisdom?” and “Learning from your competition.” Christy only releases episodes about every two weeks, but her episodes are of the highest quality and are jam packed with SO much incredible information!

2.     Girls Night (Stephanie Mae Wilson)

Stephanie Mae Wilson invites her audience seasonally (kind of like a tv show with a specific amount of episodes!) to listen in on a conversation with one of her girlfriends, unpacking some of the most challenging, rewarding, and interesting things about being female! Girls Night topics range from comparison, to insecurity, to depression, to marriage, to business, mentorship, self care, hospitality, relationships, and more! And really – it feels like you’re just listening to a real, authentic conversation between two of your gal-pals! A few of my favorite episodes include “How to protect your heart from social media comparison,” “Rest & Self Care – how to actually do it!” and “Depression & Insecurity: how to remember that you matter.”

3.     Goal Digger (Jenna Kutcher)

Jenna Kutcher is a content creation MACHINE, and is known for her authenticity and ability to break down the complex into easy bits and pieces for others to understand and learn from. She is a wedding photographer turned educator, social media guru, online marketer, and podcaster (just to name a few) who talks from her personal experience, as well as interviews other powerhouse women on all kinds of topics related to business, ranging from topics like “How to Pay Yourself as an Entrepreneur” to “How to Ditch Self Doubt” to more nitty gritty business and social media talk. This woman is not only SO talented, but so entertaining to listen to and is perfect for those who are pursuing their business and personal goals! Some of my favorite episodes from this podcast include: “Passive Income 101: how you can make money while you rest,” “Creating unforgettable client experiences,” and “10 Ways to Create Content Calendar.” Jenna currently puts out episodes twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. Click here to listen in!

4.     Going Scared (Jessica Honegger)

Something I LOVED right away about this podcast is the vision behind it: Jessica seeks out men and women who are doing BIG, unique, crazy (and to be frank, sometimes scary!) things and unpacks their story, challenging her listeners to go do the thing that they’re scared to do! Some of my favorite podcasts include: “What story are you telling yourself? With Mary Marantz,” (one of my favorite photographers!) “Being Kind over being right: Bob Goff gets real,” (one of my favorite authors!) and “Embracing Simplicity and the courage to say ‘no’ with Emily Ley.”

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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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Why Professional Prints Are Worth the Investment

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Why Professional Prints Are Worth the Investment

When someone pays to have photos taken, typically, they plan on printing them to hang around their home. At least, that’s usually the final destination. But not everyone gets there the same way. Some might choose to print through a local consumer lab, such as Walmart, Target, or Walgreens – all of which are helpful for keeping things cheap and fast. But what might you be sacrificing in the long run?

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I like to liken having photos taken and printing them through a non-professional lab to going to a fancy restaurant with a picture of a meal that you want to eat from a different restaurant – for example, a burger with fries – and then having that restaurant make the meal with their ingredients. Technically, yes, you’re eating a burger and fries that resembles the photo you brought in – but the quality of the meal (and your experience) will most likely suffer, because you’re not eating the meal the way it was indented to be eaten with its intended ingredients. Much is the same with printing your photos. The photos might not look that different – in fact, they might look fairly similar – the same faces, the same pose. But what’s affected is the quality.

So, what can be affected in your prints when you order from a consumer lab, such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Costco, or Shutterfly?

  • Colors could look off (too saturated, or just plain different)
  • Skin color is always affected (you might look too orange, yellow, pink, or green!)
  • Highlights may be too bright (making the subject look too washed out!)
  • The print could lose contrast or have too much added (making the print look too soft or muddy and gross!)
  • The photo could appear out of focus (I’ve had this happen several times to people!)
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If you’re interested in comparing different photos from a variety of labs, I highly recommend checking out THIS ARTICLE, which gives an amazing comparison of prints from a variety of different consumer labs compared to a professional lab!

Printing from a professional lab ensures that your photos will look as close as possible to what you see on your screen and in your gallery. Remember – photos are an investment, and if you’ve spent money on having gorgeous photos taken, going the extra step to make sure they’re printed correctly is an investment worth making!

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Frequently Asked Questions in the Bridal Getting Ready Suite

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Frequently Asked Questions in the Bridal Getting Ready Suite

There are a few questions that are asked during almost EVERY bride/bridesmaid getting ready session. But why should you care about these questions? If you're a bride-to-be, a bridesmaid-to-be, a mother-in-law or a mother of the bride, knowing what could come up in advance could make you the most prepared person in the room for these questions that will most likely be asked!

Does anyone have any scissors?

Yes, this is probably the number one most frequently asked question in the bridal prep room! Tags and loose threads show up in large numbers on a wedding day in the bridal prep room. I recommend packing a little “bridal emergency” bag with scissors, thread & needle, hairspray, bobby pins, gum, tape, and any other items you think you might need!

Which leg does the garter go on?

The wedding garter is (traditionally) worn on the left leg, and the toss-away garter is worn on the right, both about 3 to 6 inches above the knee. But you can wear both on the same leg, if you’d like! But to be honest - it doesn't really matter that much! I actually took my garter off part of the way through my wedding day because it was so dang itchy!

When should my bridesmaids get dressed?

It’s best for bridesmaids to get dressed before the bride, along with the mother of the bride and anyone else helping the bride get into her dress. Why? For photo’s sake, having everyone out of their lounge clothes and into their formal attire to match the bride helps make the photos much more cohesive! Sweatpants and a wedding dress don't really go together ;)

Has anyone seen the rings?!

Just kidding about this one – but when this question is asked, it is scary! I’ve only been a part of one wedding where the rings were misplaced (i.e., left at the bride’s house) before the ceremony. But no worries – decoy rings were used, and the crowd didn’t even notice! The bride was thrown off a bit, though, as she had no idea they were missing until her husband went to slip the band on her finger! I would recommend having one person who is in charge of the rings to make sure they make it to the ceremony - just in case!

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