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Don't Quit Your Daydream
Jan 19, 2016

Don't Quit Your Daydream

Published in For Photogs
I remember when we first met her, she was SOO passionate about pursuing her photography and was quite talented. Her enthusiasm for taking photos was truly refreshing! However, she didn't know how to turn her hobby into a profitable business, how to create a brand, many technical aspects of shooting, managing a business, what she should do next, and so on. She lacked confidence and direction, but it was so obvious she wanted this dream of being a photographer full time so badly. I will never forget in her initial questionnaire for our workshop she attended, one of her answers was "Right now, (photography) it's my passion/hobby but I really want this to be my career. As mentioned, my photography jobs have only been with family and friends. I am lacking the confidence to take my passion to the next level so the shoots I do with family/friends are helping to build my confidence." 
This girl completely stepped outside of her comfort zone at that workshop, photographing the models, taking tons of notes, asking lots of questions and soaking in as much of the information as she could. Then last year, we had a one on one mentoring session with her and let me tell you, our mentoring sessions are a lot of work. They look at every aspect of a business at whatever stage its at, zeroing in on the business' weaknesses and strengths, identifying where the photographer wants to be and developing a detailed actionable plan to move forward. There is laughter, tears, and for this photographer, there was lots of affirmation that she could do this! We believed in her and sometimes as entrepreneurs and creatives especially, hearing that others believe in us, that we are worthy and capable of obtaining our dream goes further then we know.  
So you can only imagine the sheer joy I had to receive a phone call from her a few days ago telling me she did it... I could hear the lump in her throat as she fought back the tears of happiness. She shared with me the amazing news that she gave her two weeks notice at her corporate job! She was leaving the job that her heart was not in, to go full time with her photography business, the thing that she was widely passionate about and made her feel even more alive. Photography was the thing she knew she loved to do all these years, but never thought it could be her "job." Her business has taken flight and she can't keep up with the work from amount of clients booking her! My eyes swelled with tears as I listened to her joy on the other end of the phone - listening to this sweet girl who is making it happen. So proud of her! It's hard to believe her mentoring session was just one year ago! With planning, practicing, and putting herself out there and with so much hard work she has now made her photography passion her full time every day. I remember the day years ago I walked out of the advertising industry to pursue my photography, and while slightly scary, it was one of the BEST life changing days of my life and could so relate to how she was feeling! She ended the call with thanking Chris and I for helping change her life, and honestly, that's why we offer workshops and mentoring sessions... to change lives and remind folks that they CAN DO IT. That it IS possible.  
Don't believe the lie that living a passion is only for other people. This photographer is encouragement to never give up on your day dream and never settle for a job that doesn't make you excited everyday to wake up for. This life is too short not to live your passion.
Sep 24, 2015

For Photogs: Being 10 Steps Ahead

Published in For Photogs
When I was in advertising one of the most important things I quickly learned I need to be was proactive. With my clients, with my boss, and with the everyday challanges I could foresee coming. Being 20 steps behind and reactive to the challanges I should have seen coming definitely made my 9-5 so much harder. When I began second and third shooting with other photographers this was a skill that not only came in handy, but was necessary... Like jelly to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you just have to have it. Shooting with another photographer without being ahead of the game just didn't work. I needed to know where we were on the timeline, what location we were going to next, what equipment the photographer needed, what bags needed to be packed, what lights would be used next, and the list goes on....  
Now being the lead photographer, I rely on Chris to proactively help me with what I will need and I can focus on being proactive in a different way. Having a second photographer that has my back, knows my train of thought along with my half sentences and weird hand gestures, and is working with me towards a common goal allows me to focus on the present and future. It's kind of like sailing a ship. Because I am not focused on pulling in the sails and making sure the ropes are organized, I can look forward to what is coming in the water ahead and prepare. Being proactive on a wedding day is crucial and definitely helps the day run more smoothly. 
One example of being proactive is knowing exactly where the bride is going to get ready and making sure that spot is ready before she is ready to get dressed. Sometimes the room where the bride is getting ready has suitcases all over and champagne glasses lining the window sill where the amazing light is you would like her to stand by. Once I am done capturing her makeup getting done, details, and her bridesmaids interacting I make sure that the space where I want her to be while she gets in her dress is clear and tidy. This way as soon as she is ready I can bring her to the spot and not waste any time. Being ahead of the game can help prevent time from being wasted cleaning up while the bride waits on you, having to shoot in a place that is not ideal because its the only clean spot, and you having to get creative and crop out certain items laying on the floor as you photograph her getting ready. Being proactive like this does take extra effort, but for me it is totally worth it. And totally worth not having the stress of feeling out of control and being reactive to every hiccup. 
On a wedding day, more often then not, something does not go as planned. Whether things are running late, the family doesn't all show up to the family photo location, the buses are behind, or the weather is not ideal. You can plan out every last detail, but it doest always work out that way. This is when being a proactive and problem solving photographer is so important. Seeing and thinking about the implications of a curve ball further in advance can help you come up with another solution and adjust the game plan. That way when the ball comes, you can seamlessly have planned for it or present your couple with another solution without them having to stress or think about what to do. And again, having a second photographer or assistant who is proactively thinking along side you is BEYOND helpful. 
So here's to being 10 steps ahead of the game... To knowing what's next and seeing those potential curveballs, hiccups, and your couple's needs in advance and planning accordingly.
For Photogs: Being 10 Steps Ahead
2015 Mentoring Sessions - TWO MORE!
Aug 25, 2015

2015 Mentoring Sessions - TWO MORE!

Published in For Photogs
When a note like this comes in the mail, I feel bad for any of my neighbors who may be watching me read it as I walk back from our mailbox... I take three steps. Stop. Read some more. Five more steps. Smile. Read more. Stop. Try not to burst into tears. Read more. Say, "awww gosh!" out loud. Walk a little more and sit on our front stoop to finish reading with a lump in my throat as I read the sweet handwritten words filling the pages. Our neighbors must think I'm nuts but I don't care! When mail like this comes it stops me in my tracks, literally, and fills my heart with a thankfulness that Chris and I get to do what we do, which includes meeting and mentoring other photographers and helping them pursue their passion... To encourage them and let these photographers know that their dream IS possible. To take a hard look at their business and provide them with an actionable roadmap of how to proceed forward. 
We have been there. We know how overwhelming and frustrating growing a business can be. But we also know that anything is possible - that growth, success, and working with your ideal clients is achievable cause we have been there too. This is why we are passionate and love coaching photographers in their businesses! 
The timing of this note couldn't be any better as Chris and I are excited to announce we are offering TWO more mentoring sessions this year! To read more about our mentoring sessions, CLICK HERE. If you are interested in booking a session with us feel free to click here or email us at!  
Oh, and that sweet note that arrived in the mail? It was from Raleigh NC wedding and family photographer Lauryn Alisa! Thank you Lauryn - we just adore you and are so incredibly proud of you and where you have taken your business over these past few months! You have worked so hard and we knew you could do it! We can't wait to see all you are going to do next! 
"Ashley and Chris are simply put, wonderful! Mentoring with them was the best decision i made for my business. Before meeting with Ashley and Chris, I was feeling lost in y business. I knew where I wanted to be but had no clue how to get there. I felt like I had all these ideas and could not figure out how to bring it all together & accomplish something. Enter Ashley and Chris. They listened to me, took a look at where i was at, gave me advice on what needed to be improved, shared some of their own secrets and left me with a plan of action I could follow to help me achieve my goals. They didn't just sit there and tell me what works for them, but helped me figure out what will work for me and my business. 
Not only are Ashley and Chris smart business people, but they are also genuine and caring individuals. After meeting with them, I felt like I had just met with old friends who really cared about me and my success. They wanted to help me and take bride in teaching others. This is the best attribute you could ask for in a mentor, which is why working with them was an incredible experience. 
Since working with Ashley and Chris my business has improved dramatically. While I am still working through my action plan and towards my goals, I am finally starting to see my business evolve into what I want it to be. I still refer to my notes from the mentoring session daily. The biggest improvement is not just that I am booking more weddings, but I am attracting and booking more of my ideal clients.  
I cannot thank Ashley and Chris enough for all of their help with getting me heading down the right track. It was such a great experience mentoring with them and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to head in the right directions with their business." 
Lauryn, Lauryn Alisa Photography
Aug 20, 2015

For Photogs: Telling Couples About A First Look

Published in For Photogs
I do not currently suggest to my couples that they do a First Look, however I would like to start doing so. I noticed many of your couples decide to do a First Look. How do you convince them to do one? 
Thank you in advance, 
I am so glad you asked! So for me, it's important to just share with my wedding couples what a First Look is so they know it is an option. I don't push our couples to do a First Look or really try and convince them, but tell them about the benefits so they can make an informed decision to do one or not. Even if they have heard of a First Look before, I make sure to explain to them what it is from my perspective - a sacred and intimate moment between you two where you can see one another on your wedding day for the first time in privacy, etc... Because to be honest, when Chris and I were planning our wedding and were simply told it's when you "see one another before the ceremony" with no explanation or benefits, we both decided not to do one immediately. Knowing what we know now, it's something we both wish we had done!  
If a couple has no time between the ceremony and cocktail hour and want to take a lot of photos of two of them and have a lot of family photos for example, then I strongly recommend doing a First Look and explain why and what the benefits are from a timing perspective. Most couple's don't want to be rushed and often want to attend their cocktail hour. This may be something they had not thought about so discussing this with them during their consultation can be helpful! There have been a few couples we have met with over the years that had such little time for photos after the ceremony and didn't want to do a First Look, we told them we did not feel comfortable with the timeline. We respected their decision not to do a First Look, but based on our experience we knew what was/wasn't possible in the time allotted and knew we could not provide our best work and what they would be looking for for their family, bridal party, and bride/groom photos in the very small timeframe they had. Having a candid converstaion about this upfront was important and better for everyone involved so that adjustments could be made to the timeline or they could reach out to another photographer. 
For me, the key is to educate and share options with couples and not convince or force. After all, it is their wedding day and what they want to do needs to be respected. : )  
Hope this is helpful!
For Photogs: Telling Couples About A First Look
For Photogs: Taking Family Photos with Paparazzi
Apr 20, 2015

For Photogs: Taking Family Photos with Paparazzi

Published in For Photogs
Sometimes during a wedding when I am trying to take the posed family photos, the family members end up looking at everyone else taking photos of them and not at my camera. It makes family photos take even longer and can be frustrating. Have you been in this kind of a situation? What do you do? 
Thanks, Frustrated
Yes, yes and YES! I have been in that situation more times then I can remember and get questions often from other photographers about this! For me, there are really two main challenges when other guests are taking photos of the family you are trying to pose and photograph. First, is the very challange you pointed out - the family members start looking around at other cameras, then back at my camera, then back quickly at all the other guests taking photos, and so on. It makes for an awkward family photo when only some of the family members are looking at my camera and then others in different directions. The second challenge is when the family is constantly blinking because of guests' camera flashes going off. We've all been there, right?! It can take so much longer to complete family photos when the photo has to be taken again and again to account for family members blinking from guests' camera flashes. 
That being said, there are some things that I do on a regular basis to avoid these two things from happening and help me efficiently and quickly complete family photos. 
One thing I might do if it's a key family photo (like one whole side of a family) and lots of guest are trying to photograph it, I will stand off to the side for about 15 seconds and direct the family to look at the guests taking photos. I will then step back in front of the group and direct the family to only look at my camera now. I have found this is much more effective then trying to have all the guests hold off on photographing the family. Not only do guests step away after taking a photo so that my camera is the only one taking photos, but the guests are so grateful they were able to get a quick photo on their device. If guests still continue to take photos of the group and it is effecting where the group is looking or blinking, I will stop taking photos and turn completely around to the guests and ask them to refrain from taking photos until I am done. If time is limited and there is no time for me to stand off to the side or LOTS of guests are photographing the family photos I will usually ask them to refrain right off the bat and explain that them taking photos is interfering with my photographing the family. Sometimes at this point my couple will echo what I have said to specific guests which can help as well!  
Your couples have hired you to photograph their entire day to the best of your ability, including the family photos. So remember to be assertive when you need to be! I hope this is helpful and please know that you are definitely not the only one that finds themself in this situation wedding after wedding!
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