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Nov

Q&A: How Do Deal With Negativity

Do you ever find others being really really critical of you and your work, in a mean and not helpful way? It can be hard to hear such harsh words from others, especially others in the industry, and not let it bother me. How do you handle this? Help! 
 
Ahhhhh, yes. I wish I could say that I have never been the subject of harsh words and scrutiny from others, but the truth is I have. Especially when I was newer to the industry. I can say from personal experience it's really hard to have folks that you have admired and respected say such hurtful words... words that were not helpful constructive criticism. Their lack of encouragement and zeroing in on my weaknesses as a photographer was really hard to just let roll off my shoulders. When I was first starting out my confidence was about the size of an apple seed and this negativity seemed just sooo big. 
 
The sad reality is that there will always be people that will be mean, right? There will always be people that will doubt you. They will question that you can do this. They will focus on your weaknesses and insecurities, pointing them out and reminding you of them... over and over again. These people will always exist. But the amazing thing is, their words don't have to bother you. They don't have to cause you to question if you really can run this race. I made the decision a long time ago that I didn't have the time and energy to listen to and /or worry about these people. But more importantly, I wasn't living this dream for them. 
 
One of the biggest things that has helped me when these sour winds have blown my way, is to take the time to refocus on WHY I am doing this. WHY I became a photographer in the first place. I will take some time to read through the sweet emails and notes from my past couples about what their photos mean to them. I will go back and look through some of the photos from their wedding day. I think about how incredibly lucky I have been to get to know them and their stories... That they chose Chris and I to capture the memories of their wedding day. No one else. Our why is grounded in reminding couples and celebrating with them the unique beauty of their stories. I'm not looking for the approval of other photographers... that's not part of my why. Never has been, never will be. So like rain rolling off the feathers of a duck, into the water their sour words fall. Pour your energy into becoming a better photographer and serving your clients on an even higher level. Celebrate and refocus on WHY you are doing this, how far you have come, and how lucky you are to do what you love. 
 
And as you refocus again and again and their words fade away just as fast as they came, don't forget how small these mean spirited words made you feel. Let them fuel you to encourage other photographers, especially those that are just starting out chasing their dream. Be that person that inspires and motivates them, cheering them on and telling them they can do this. 
 
Or in the wise words of Taylor Swift, haters gonna hate, so try and "shake it off." :)

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Aug

Working With Our Ideal Client

When I meet someone for the first time and they find out we are a husband and wife wedding photography team, one of the first questions we often get asked if we have ever had a Bridezilla... Whenever we get asked this question, it makes me smile because I know the person asking is going to be disappointed from my answer and lack of a juicy story of a crazy bride. But the truth is, we haven't had a Bridezilla. Not one. When I tell them we haven't had one, the person usually tells me we are lucky. While we do feel extremely lucky, I know that it is not luck that our couples are amazing people that are anything but zilla-y. Yes, I made up that word. Just go with it... :) 
 
But this question brings up an important topic. We have indeed been contacted by and/or had consultations with couples that were not a great fit. While our work and website act as filters and draw certain couples to us, that doesn't always mean that we are a good match. Initial email or phone conversations can sometimes raise some flags or make it clear that they are not our ideal client. We will then recommend another photographer that we think would be a better fit based on what they are looking for. And sometimes we don't know that we are not a great fit until I meet with a couple in person during a consultation and discuss with them their wedding and what they are looking for in their wedding photography. During a consultation, just as much as a couple is making sure we are a great fit for them, I am also making sure they are a great fit for us and a couple we are excited to work with. If I do have a consultation with a couple that raises some flags, I will have an honest conversation with them and will not proceed with booking them. It's not always an easy conversation to have, but one we think that it is important to have and one they deserve. Because just as much as we want to make sure we are working with couples we connect with and love our style of photography, it is also in the best interest of the couple to have and invest in a photographer who is going to be an excellent fit, connect with them and deliver what they are looking for. 
 
Now what are some of these flags and things I keep in the back of my mind when in initial conversations with a couple? Well for each photographer I am sure they are different, but for us some flags are if photography is not important to the couple, if they don't seem excited to be getting married, if they are looking for a style of photography that is very traditionally posed or uses a lot of artificial lighting throughout the day, etc. These flags don't necessarily have to be "bad" things or qualities, just things that may make us and our style of photography the best fit for them. And sometimes it's a combination of things.  
 
But does it really matter if we work with couples that are our ideal clients and a great fit? For us the answer is absolutely. Our WHY that our business is built on and the spirit of our photography isn't focused on making the most amount of money, shooting a certain amount of weddings just to achieve that number, travelling to as many places as possible, or any of the like. For us, it's always been about the relationship we build with a couple and us getting to know their story. It's about connecting with our couples and celebrating this amazing time with them. It's about documenting the sweet moments of the day that marks the beginning of their marriage. So if we feel like we aren't the ones best suited to do this for whatever reason, we are upfront and honest with them and let them know. This doesn't happen very often by the time we meet them for a consultation, but if it does, it is important to us to let them know. 
 
So call it luck? Not really... Working with couples we are a great fit for and who are our ideal clients is why I have an unexciting answer when asked if we have ever worked with a Bridezilla. It's not luck, but a constant focus on letting the WHY of our business remain at the heart of things... not money, numbers, or anything else.

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Jul

That Next Step

I know what it's like to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock for the third time in one morning. I know what its like to lay in bed staring at the ceiling contemplating if that sneeze counts as being ill and you should therefore call into work sick. I know what its like to get ready for work but the whole time think about an excuse of why you can't go. You sit in your car and give yourself a good pep talk of why you can't turn the car off and walk back inside your house. I know what its like to get up every morning and dread the day ahead. You stare at the clock at your desk all day counting down until you can leave and give yourself the treat of a coffee break at 3:00pm because you made it that far into the day without leaving. I know because I have been there.  
 
When I was stuck in that corporate 9-5 job that I swore was literally draining the life out of me, unhappy doesn't begin to describe how I felt. I couldn't imagine doing what I was doing for another week, let alone another decade. I wasn't sure how I walked down this road so far into a career that my heart wasn't in. The feelings of being deflated and defeated were all too familiar. I was unmotivated and got to the point where I felt passionless for my job. 
 
However, I also know what it's like to wake up before your alarm clock because you are so excited to get to get the day started. Yes, this happens. And I do know what it's like to not want to go to bed because you are loving the project you are working on. You can't believe your days are filled with the work, surroundings, and people that make your heart so full. You are completely and utterly happy. I know what it's like to not be able to fall asleep not because you are dreading the next day, but because you are so excited at how awesome the next day will be. You feel lucky and grateful. You feel alive.  
 
I know what both of these feel like. And I know when I was miserable in my corporate job, my dream job seemed light years away. It felt like it would only be that: a dream. But don't give up. Trust me. It's not as far as you may think. But chances are it's going to take a lot of work and it won't happen over night. And chances are you will have to be reminded of that along the way. There will be setbacks and failures and mistakes. There always are when pursing what you're passionate about. But the biggest mistake is to think that what you really want to be doing with your life isn't possible. Because it is. I know. It's not too hard, it's not too far, it's not to crazy of a dream. 
 
And I can promise you one thing: doing nothing about it will keep you in the very spot you are in. No one is going to knock on your door and offer you your dream. It doesn't work like that. YOU must take that first step. Yes, it is probably one of the hardest ones. But with that step you are moving forward and that much closer to what you want to be doing. So call that person who has inspired you, reach out to that company, set up that meeting, read that book, send that email. Whatever that next step is, big or small, TAKE IT. 
 
This concludes this Monday morning pep talk. :)

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Jun

FAQ: Where Should We Do Our First Look?

One of my absolute favorite moments to capture on a wedding day is when a bride and groom see one another during their First Look. It's total goosebumps! There are so many benefits of doing a First Look including the bride and groom having this private moment, having plenty of time for photos, etc. CLICK HERE to read the post I wrote on what a First Look is and why you may just want to do one! 
 
Once a couple decides to do a First Look during their wedding planning, the next question is often "where should we do our First Look?" The options are endlessss... Really the location of the First Look is completely up to the couple and where they would like to have this special reveal and moment. However, there are a few things that I think are important to think about when selecting a location: 
 
Privacy. One of the things I think is super important is making sure it is a somewhat private location. This moment between the two of you is sacred, beautiful, and intimate. It's a moment the two of you will never forget and cherish forever. When you see one another for the first time on your wedding day you want to feel whatever emotions you are feeling and not feel like you have to hold them in. Grooms, if the sight of your bride brings you to tears, you should feel comfortable enough to let them flow and just hold her in a tight embrace. Brides, is you want to wrap your arms around your soon to be husband and tell him of the excitement on your heart, you should feel like you can without holding back. Sometimes when other people are around during a first look or if there are spectators in close proximity it can take away from the focus of the moment and couples feel self conscious.  
 
Quiet.When thinking about locations, you also want to keep in mind if that location is quiet. You want to hold one another, let your hearts overflow with excitement and talk with one another with no distractions. You want to whisper sweet nothings to each other, not scream over the passing trains or beeping traffic. I mean, what bride wants to miss a word of what their groom says the first time he sees her in her wedding dress?! 
 
Place For Photos Afterward. Typically right after the First Look, we will take photos of the bride and groom together - sometimes just a few but often most of their portraits. We also frequently take bridal party photos at this location as well (who can wait a long distance away during the First Look or will meet you at the location after). ? So when selecting a location, think about also if it is a good place to take photos afterwards. However, if after the First Look we will be travelling to another location for photos, make sure your timeline allows for this travel in advance! 
 
Proximity. Having the First Look take place at a location that is close to (or at) the getting ready location or ceremony/reception location may also be something you want to think about. If the location you have in mind for the First Look is 20 minutes in the opposite direction of where everything else is, just make sure you account for this extra travel time in your timeline!

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Jun

His Heart Remembered

With Chris and my grandpa suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, this story hit very close to home. It is a sweet reminder of the fragility of life and shows the beauty of a love story that has stood the test of time. It reminded me of my Nana and Pop and the way they continue to date one another and love on each other after all these decades of marriage. My Pop may not remember the details of life like how to pick out clothes to wear each morning or where the refrigerator is, but oh how he loves my Nana. He never forgets to open the door for her and help her put on her coat. He never forgets to get and hold the umbrella over her when its raining. He never forgets to put his arms around her each day and give her a hug with a smile on his face. Even though he has been doing these things for years, I appreciate seeing these small gestures more now. Just like the man in this story, his heart remembers the love he has and it's a beautiful thing to see. 
 
When I photograph our couple's weddings, my hope is that our couples' love grows from that day forward through the years. Even when storm clouds come and things are hard, I hope that they brave the storms and don't give up. I hope that they fall more and more head over heels in love with one another and show each other how much they care by doing the little things. And I hope that when their mind no longer remembers, their heart always will. 
 
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