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Jan 8, 2015

The Thing About Goals

Published in For Photogs
With the start of the New Year, most people are doing the same thing: taking down holiday decorations, regretting how many cookies they ate over the past month and making resolutions for 2015. Well at least that's what I have been doing. And part of people making resolutions involves setting goals. Goals to lose 10 lbs, travel to Europe, book x number of weddings for the year, change jobs, start a hobby. But the funny thing is is that most people don't achieve their goals for the very same two reasons. Yup, two reasons. Every.single.year.  
 
Okay, the first one. Brace yourself for some mind exploding information... Are you sitting down? Goals you never set for yourself will most likely not happen. MIND BLOWN. Okay so maybe not the most earth shattering news, but one so many of us forget. Including me. I so easily fail to remember this simply truth sometimes. And by "setting goals," I don't mean just having a loose idea of what you think your goals might be in your head either. I mean, sitting down and writing out your specific goals for the year. Remember to not leave out the ones you think you won't achieve. The point of setting goals isn't just to have a list that you are 100% confident in achieving without a doubt just so you can feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the year. If none of your goals scare you, stretch you, and make you question if you can achieve them, you aren't dreaming big enough. Don't let 2016 roll around find you realizing you didn't achieve any of the goals that you never had.  
 
The second reason why most folks don't achieve their goals year after year? Well, the beautifully reliable thing about most goals is that they require ACTION to be achieved. You write them down in your best cursive on the pages of a pretty journal (<-- totally guilt of this every year including this one). You put a stake in the ground and decide on that list of goals. But the truth of the matter is, when we write down our goals and do nothing, you know what usually happens? You guessed it - NOTHING! The goals sit there on the pages of that journal and go nowhere - that's simply as far as they get. I'm a huge fan of identifying and writing down specific goals, but it's what comes after that truly breaths life into them and makes them happen. It's the purposeful hustle. It's the intentional steps you take that bring you closer to checking that goal off your list. One thing that has helped Chris and I is to take each one of our goals and list out five actionable steps for each with dates in which to complete them by. We then refer back to these goals and steps through out the year to check on our progress, revise goals, add more steps, etc.  
 
Because I mean, lets be honest, when is the last time someone rang your doorbell and was like "Oh hey, I was just driving by and decided to stop at your house to let you know that all those goals you wrote down that you wanted to achieve... well, POOF! Here they are! You are 10lbs skinner, just went to Europe and back and if you check your calendar your wedding season is fully booked. I mean, right?! That hasn't ever happened to me anyway. My goals have been achieved by identifying them and taking ACTION. Whether they are small baby steps or large leaps in the direction of your goals, I encourage you this New Year to remember to DO something about your goals. GO after them. MAKE them become a reality by WORKING towards them. Don't let their existence just be in that journal but let your goals be things that have become your reality and things you can check off at the end of 2015!
Jan 6, 2015

2015 Mentoring Sessions

Published in For Photogs
You have a fire in your belly that burns with an untamed eagerness. You want to make this photography dream happen more then anything. Truth be told, you wake up thinking about it and go to sleep dreaming about it. You want to make what you think it could be a reality here and now. Photography is your passion, and you want your photography dreams to take flight and grow! Can I get an amen?! 
 
We get it. You feel like there is so much you need to learn and do... And you don't know what you don't know. You are overwhelmed and aren't sure which step to take to move in the right direction. And so, like so many others, you do nothing. Your photography business never comes to life or the photography business you have doesn't prosper in the way you know it could. 
 
We have been there. We have been at the very beginning, not knowing exactly what to do next. We have been there with a business we were eager to grow more. We know what that's like. And we also know what it's like to build a strong business foundation from the beginning and see amazing growth. That is why we are so passionate about helping other photographers on their quest to start a new or grow an existing photography business. We believe in tough love, practical guidance and clear actionable steps forward. And that is what is at the heart of our one-on-one mentoring sessions. 
 
Below are the details for this year's mentoring program along with some FAQS! Please note we are offering ten one-on-one mentoring sessions and will be booking on a first come first serve basis! So if you are interested in booking your session, please email us at ashley@ashleytheresephotography.com or through our contact page. 
 
Dec 16, 2014

Whats Coming in 2015

Published in For Photogs
We have so many big and exciting things in the works for 2015 and I can't wait to spill the beans on all of it! We have been busy bees over here working on some exciting projects that have had me waking up way before my alarm each morning because I am THAT excited. I am such a total lame-o sometimes! :) Some of it will be kept under wraps until next year however I wanted to share some of what's coming! 
 
Chris and I are passionate about helping photographers strengthen and grow their business and pursue their dream. Chris and I mentored some truly incredible and determined photographers this past year. Seeing how they used the tools and insight to change and grow their businesses was so inspiring. We are BEYOND excited for our 2015 Mentoring Program to launch in January. We will only be offering mentoring to only a limited number of photographers so if you are interested, contact us to be sent the details when it launches!
Dec 9, 2014

Identifying And Using The Best Natural Light

Published in For Photogs
It's no secret that I just love shooting in that even, golden, soft (dare I even say buttery?!) sunset light. It's just pretty darn gorgeously ah-mazing. I make sure to discuss with our couples the benefits of shooting in this light as they plan their wedding day timeline and shoot their engagement sessions during this golden hour. However, many times especially on wedding days we don't always have the luxury of shooting in this perfect light... Sometimes it's in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is harsh and bright, there are hot spots and spotchy patches of shade everywhere or there is direct sunlight with no shade, and so on. This kind of light can be challenging but it's not impossible to achieve gorgeous images using the light to your advantage!  
 
As a primarily natural light photographers (we leverage existing natural light and use flash when necessary, like indoors if need be) we look for the best light and direction to shoot in at the location we are at. This is typically the FIRST thing I look for before setting up the photo and giving direction to the subjects being photographed. Yes, before backgrounds, surroundings, or anything else. Usually I can just see where the light is that I want to shoot in, but sometimes I will hold up my hand in front of myself to see how the light is falling or other times I will use Chris as a stand in to see how the light is looking. Clearly it's definitely not a super complicated or fancy process, but a super important one. Once I identify the light I want to shoot in, then I will look at the background, surroundings, colors, etc and go from there. This is because for me, the lighting is one of, if not the most important elements to me technically. 
 
Many folks have asked how I know how to identify great light to shoot in. Okay, ready for the boring but totally true answer? Practice. And then more practice. Along with some practice, practice, practice. Practicing and training myself to see how light falls on subjects, how light reflects, and how it changes through out the day were things I did from the very beginning and I still constantly do. When we were living in NYC, on my walk to work I would see how the light would reflect off buildings and where I would position a couple to photograph them in that light. When running errands, I would point out spots that had awesome light falling on it. When riding with Chris in the car I would look out the window while we were stopped at a red light and think where would the best light be and direction to pose a bridal party in that spot. I would then think about what the background would be, what my settings would probably be, etc. It was this constant training while not shooting along with lots of hands on practicing that has strengthened this tool and confidence to shoot gorgeous images in any light.  
 
Sometimes finding the best light isn't that obvious, like when shooting in open shade. It can be hard to know which location and direction to shoot in is the best. Below is a perfect example... We were setting up for family portraits at a wedding and I was testing the light using Chris as a stand in. There was a ton of open shade so I had Chris stand where I thought I wanted the family to stand. I wanted him to stand facing the clouds illuminated by the sun. The clouds were acting like a huge diffuser, casting down a soft beautiful light. However after taking a test photo I realized that the sun was more to my right then I thought (not in back of me) and the sunlight was falling across Chris's face from his left to right side. There were dark shadows around his eyes and there was no fill light on his face. This wasn't the look I wanted to achieve. I didn't want to use the light in a super artistic way for these photos, but really wanted the families faces to be clearly seen. For me, it's important for everyone's face to be well lit and clearly visible especially in these more traditional family portraits. So I had Chris turn 90 degrees, facing more towards the illuminated clouds. The light softly filled his face eliminating the dark shadows. I then looked to make sure the background was what I wanted and set up the family for the photos in that spot. All of this took less then 30 seconds, so by the time the family walked from the limo to where we were standing we were ready to go and went right into setting them up and shooting. 
 
I encourage you to practice identifying great natural light even when you don't have a camera in your hand! Train your eye to see how light falls on a subject and how changing your viewpoint changes the direction of the light and overall look. Then do some hands on practicing again and again. And again. Practice seeing how different light photographs. And know that sometimes it's just a matter of adjusting your subjects or your position slightly in order to use light in a dramatically different way! 
 
And because who doesn't love a good 'ol horribly drawn stick figure diagram.... ;)
Nov 19, 2014

Q&A: How Do Deal With Negativity

Published in For Photogs
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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