It’s funny…I’ve been meaning to write about unplugged weddings here on the blog to educate my clients on what they are, and the benefits of them, but more and more I’ve been having clients have unplugged weddings…or new potential clients telling me that’s what they want…and asking me about how they should go about it! It almost seems like unplugged weddings are the new “first look”, or the next new tradition this generation’s couples are making their own. And with the amount of technology out there right now, it definitely makes sense that unplugged weddings are the biggest new tradition I’m seeing right now!

So, what exactly IS an unplugged wedding? It’s when couples ask their guests to refrain from using phones or cameras during the ceremony and other important parts of the day so that they may remain fully present during the festivities and actually participate. I think this is great because in this day and age, with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc taking up so much of our time, we all feel like everywhere we go, we have to take pictures of whatever we’re doing. I’m guilty of this too! By keeping your wedding unplugged and encouraging guests to put down their devices, guests will be more engaged in the day itself. Besides, since you hired an awesome professional photographer to capture your day, you can be sure that you’ll have more than enough photos to remember the day and share with your guests!!

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Benefits of an unplugged wedding:

Family formals go faster. When guest photographers attempt to take photos behind us during family formals, those shots take twice as long to complete. (And nobody enjoys that..) When more than one person is shooting family formals, family members often get confused about where to look and we have to take additional time to make sure we have a good shot.

Bride and Groom portraits are less stressful. I like to try to keep bride and groom portraits as relaxed as possible. There’s nothing inherently natural about them (I mean, unless you’re used to having your photo taken with your spouse…then maybe it’s super normal to you) but I like to try to make them as low key as possible. Which means, just the couple and me (and John too…but he’s quiet). When well meaning family and friend-tographers follow along on portraits, I often have to stop what I’m doing to ask them to leave because portraits can feel awkward when there are lots of people around, and feeling awkward is never really a great way to get natural, relaxed portraits.

There’s no need to worry about missed shots. When friends and family are shooting in the aisle, using flash, stepping out in front of our shots, etc, we have to work twice as hard to get the shots we want and be really creative. There have been times when otherwise AMAZING shots have been ruined and/or were pretty much undeliverable because of a guest hopping in front of us to grab their shot at just the wrong moment…or their flash firing at the exact second mine did, completely washing out the shot that I had metered my settings for based on the light in the room, not accounting for their flash. If your photography is really important to you, I definitely suggest asking guests to refrain from photography during important parts of the day.

Guests are fully present. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel as though in this day and age you really have to make a point to be “unplugged” and put down your phone or camera. We live in times where everyone is constantly multi-tasking and checking their multiple feeds for updates and staying “plugged in” to what others are doing. I think a wedding is a great example of a time that it’s really important to stay in the moment and really be a part of the celebration. Obviously your wedding guests are people who are important to you, so you really want them to be able to enjoy and experience the day without having a screen to their face the entire day. By letting your guests know you’ve hired a professional photographer and you’d like them to refrain from photography, that frees them up to have a great time witnessing your ceremony and partying at the reception!

As a photographer, it really doesn’t bother me that much if one or two people take pictures with their point and shoot, or if people instagram parts of the day (who am I to judge fellow Instagrammers?)…but I feel like when guests are shooting during the important parts of the day (like the ceremony, important dances, etc) it’s the bride and groom who end up losing, and that makes me really sad. They’ve spent time finding a photographer they love and trust and then invested a decent chunk of change into having them capture your wedding only to have the photog’s abilities hindered by overeager friends and family. I’ve seen ceremony shots be ruined because guests were on the altar during the service trying to get the shot…or out in the aisle shooting in churches where professional photographers are actually restricted to shooting in the back. I’ve seen exits ruined because of a guests elbow in my camera. I’ve had intimate first dance shots become undeliverable because a guest just had to get the shot on her iPad. And, horror of all horrors, a friend of mine told me about a wedding she shot where there were people standing in the aisle trying to get “the” shot of the bride coming down the aisle and THE GROOM COULD NOT SEE THE BRIDE. WHAT?? That is tragic, people! That’s not just an image you’ll never get to see, it’s a moment…a MEMORY taken away from both bride and groom. Something they have looked forward to their entire lives. If that doesn’t make the case for unplugged weddings, I’m not sure what could!

If you’re thinking about having an unplugged wedding, there are several ways to go about making sure your guests are aware, such as printing something about it into your program, having your minister or officiant mention it at the beginning of the service, adding the info to your wedding website, or cute signage like the chalkboard pictured above.

Whether or not you end up choosing to make your wedding “unplugged”, I think it’s a new tradition that’s here to stay, and something every couple should consider!

 

When I first started this business, I had no idea that it was going to (literally) take me so many places. Traveling 2-3+ hours almost every weekend (or every other weekend) during busy season wasn’t something I had really envisioned for myself or my business. But, like a lot of other things I never imagined for myself (like, oh, I mean, BEING A BUSINESS OWNER), I love it, and it works for me. I love shooting all over…I love getting to travel and work different venues and with different vendors all the time. I like not being a part of any one little area and not being in any one little “clique” in the industry because I’m all over so much. I mean, getting to travel all around the East Coast and visit my friends and shoot weddings ain’t a bad gig.

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Photo by Katelyn James

The thing that began to wear on me and make life difficult was doing it alone every. single. weekend. It was saying goodbye to John and Lucy from Friday to Sunday depending on where the weekend took me and making all of these journeys by myself. I’m a little bit of an introvert, so I don’t mind being alone sometimes, but doing it alone was getting really lonely. And at the risk of sounding like a co-dependent loser, I really hate being away from John. Even when it’s for a few hours, I just miss him so much!

Then there was the matter of nailing down a consistent second shooter. I was lucky to have my good friend Anna second shoot for me a LOT my first season, and that totally spoiled me! As Anna’s business started to take off (and boy, did it ever! So proud of that girl!!) she wasn’t able to shoot with me as much anymore, so I found myself looking for others to be my second pair of eyes. I had some, I’ll just say, interesting experiences, and some eye-opening ones that made me ready to lock down a full time second shooter that I knew 100 percent would have MY back.

That last thing, finding someone who would have my back, was what made me ask John if he’d be interested in shooting with me. He had assisted me several times since I started my business, but never really made the leap into shooting until it dawned on me that 1. There are only a select handful of people that TRULY have my back 100 percent, and 2. One of them (who I happened to be married to) has always had an interest in cameras and photography.

We started out with a trial period. He could tell me if he hated it, and I would never ask again. The only way that it would work for us to work together, to ask him to work for me on Saturdays (and sometimes drive us to weddings on Fridays and home on Sundays) would mean for him to actually enjoy it. Lucky for me, he does. He really loves shooting and working with our clients, but if I know John the way I think I do…I think he really loves helping me out most:)

The best part of having your husband shoot weddings with you? Other than having someone to drive you to and from the wedding so you aren’t stressed, having someone strong to carry your heavy bags, and someone you love to spend the day with?Shooting together has brought us closer and has been so amazing for our marriage! When our friends and family first heard we were going to start working together on weekends, they asked if it was hard, or if we fight a lot more because of it. If anything, I think we fight less because shooting together and working as a team on wedding days has taught us to work together in a very literal, very intentional way. Also, for me personally, shooting with John has made me love him that much more…and seeing him learn and grow as a photographer makes me SO proud. Plus, he’s not going to judge me for getting a hash brown sandwich from sheets after like, every wedding we shoot together…and that’s not something you can say about all second shooters:) Another added benefit has been that SO many of our clients and potential clients love that we work together…having a photographer who works with a consistent partner is a huge benefit to begin with…and the fact that my partner is my husband is a bonus to them because we are truly better as a team:)

If there’s any interest, I might write another post about how we got to this point of working together as a team every weekend! It’s definitely been a journey (and continues to be one) but it’s definitely something that we feel is worth it! Feel free to email me with questions or leave them in the comments :)

 

Nothing says “wedding day” to me quite like a beautiful, warm spring day…and Katie and Eric’s wedding day was exactly that! It was the PERFECT sunny day…80 degrees with a slight breeze in the air, and not a cloud in sight. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better day if I tried to! Usually on wedding days, there are always things that go wrong, or the timeline runs behind schedule, or the bride and groom are nervous, but Katie and Eric’s day was completely free of all of that! Katie is probably the calmest, most peaceful bride we’ve ever worked with! It was so wonderful to see how focused these two were on what was really important…getting married and starting a life together:)

We loved spending the day at the Virginia Center for Architecture with Katie, Eric, and their friends and family! This was the epitome of the perfect spring wedding. Hope you all enjoy this look into their day!!!

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First look time! This was such a sweet moment!

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Vendors

Venue: Virginia Center for Architecture
Floral Arrangements and Decor: Ann Pierce, Donna Rohling, and Becky Morgan
Flowers: Vogue Flowers
Cake: Martin’s Bakery
Music: Mike Dickey
Hair + Makeup: Kate Hancock at Wyldology
Bridal Gown: Tiffany’s Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses: Etsy.com
Men’s Attire: The Groom’s Corner at Tiffany’s Bridal

Recently, I got a really fun surprise! I found out one of our weddings from last year was  featured in What’s Up Weddings magazine! I was so excited to receive a couple of copies in the mail last week. Excited is probably an understatement, actually. It’s SO awesome and fulfilling to get to see your work in print. And it means so much more to us since it was one of our favorite weddings of last year! We’re excited that the editors of What’s Up Weddings loved Allie and Greta’s wedding as much as we did:)

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Having a couple copies of this in the office is such a cool keepsake!

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Gah!! Hopefully this is the first of many awesome features to come in 2014! Thanks for sharing in my excitement with me for just a little bit! :)

Last week I was up in DC early Tuesday morning for Brittany and Justin’s engagement session. We met up near the cherry blossoms, and though they weren’t at their peak bloom quite yet, they were beautiful! And we were so lucky to beat the crowds, too! I loved hanging out with Brittany and Justin and getting to know them a little better. Brittany is a runner too, so it was a lot of fun to talk about running stuff with her:)

Enjoy a few of my favorites from their session!

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Gah! Have I ever mentioned how much I love my job?? This past weekend was so fun! Katie and Eric were married at the amazing Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond and it was so beautiful! From the perfect weather to the carefully designed details, it was all so gorgeous! It was a photographer’s dream to shoot! Here are a few sneak peeks! Don’t miss their blog post later this week!!

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Hope you all have an awesome Monday!! xoxo

As we pulled up to Walker’s Overlook in Frederick, Maryland for Christina and Matt’s wedding, it looked as though at any minute the skies might open up and it would start pouring rain. Luckily, the rain held off the entire day minus a couple of light sprinkles during portraits! I’m SO happy that it stayed nice because the ceremony site at Walker’s Overlook is one of the most spectacular spaces we’ve ever photographed. I think there’s almost nothing more romantic than getting married beneath a huge tree, and Christina and Matt were able to say their vows beneath and epic tree on the most perfectly overcast day.

We thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with Matt, Christina, and all of their friends and family. These two put so much thought into every aspect of their wedding, from their “unplugged” ceremony, to the handmade pies that Matt made himself. They gave us a ton of time for portraits and treated us like friends…if I could shoot their wedding every weekend, I would! Haha.

Enjoy a few of my favorites from their day!

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Vendors

Venue: Walker’s Overlook
Flowers: Candlelight Floral Design
Hair and Makeup: Brenda of Rosebrook Studio
Cake: A Dessert for Me
Pies: Homemade by the Groom
Music: TCB DJs
Bridal Gown: Priscilla of Boston
Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse

Last year, I quit using DVDs and started using a cloud storage gallery system called PASS to deliver images to all of my clients. Cutting DVDs out of my workflow was a LIFESAVER!! To be honest with you guys, going to the post office is one of my least favorite things to do. It’s just one of those things that creates a bottleneck in my business. I’m trying to get better at it this year, but not having to send a DVD once a week with a completed wedding on it has been…well, MAGICAL. It definitely helped me speed up my turnaround time, and when you’re shooting between 20-30 weddings and just as many engagement sessions in a season, time is always of the essence!

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I decided to try out Pixieset late last Fall. When I started using PASS, there wasn’t really another clear alternative to it. Especially since I use a Showit site for my main website and I used to be able to embed the PASS galleries so beautifully with Plus sites I’d send to my clients. I loved that those were perfectly branded and gave my clients a seamless delivery from start to finish. They’d follow a link to a site made just for them, and get all of their images there. Since PASS no longer really integrates with Showit sites the same way, I don’t use Plus sites for each client anymore because they just don’t really serve any purpose for me. When Pixieset came out, I decided to give it a try. Mainly because I feel like I’m doing my clients and my business a disservice if I’m not actively making sure that the products and services I’m using are the absolute best fit!

Pixieset has a free option (up to 3gb of storage space) so it made it pretty easy to try out. I uploaded a couple of portrait sessions to it first so I could see if it was pretty easy to navigate (it is) and send to clients to see if they had any issues with using it.

Right off the bat, I really loved the white backgrounds. Pixieset has a clean interface that I think looks fantastic. PASS recently added white backgrounds too, and implemented a gallery photo (you can do slideshows, or video too with PASS) that looks pretty similar to Pixieset.

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Clients can download their images all at once, or one at a time. You can turn downloads on and off…and there’s also a PIN code you can require in order to download.

You can also set print pricing, which I think is a great feature!

Pixieset also allows photographers to create their own URL, which is pretty freaking cool. I haven’t set mine up yet, but the option is there.

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Pixieset is also a great fit for my business from a cost standpoint. As a business owner, I always have to evaluate our costs and figure out what’s best for both our clients and our bottom line. Even though I really love and enjoy what I do for a living and the majority of the time it feels like so much fun, it’s still a business, and I have to make a profit to survive. PASS costs $29 per gallery. Yes, they DO have a free option, but for a full time wedding photographer, the free option isn’t practical (it only lasts 30 days and your clients have to download each image individually). Say you shoot 30 weddings and 30 engagement sessions in a year…PASS would cost you $1740 in a year’s time. That’s enough for some L series glass, gifts you could be giving back to your clients, a small vacation, etc. Pixieset costs $480 a year (when you pay annually) for 1000gb of space. For me an average wedding jpegs take up to 6-7 gbs. An average engagement session is closer to 1-2. So I could literally shoot and store 111 weddings and 111 engagement sessions a year on Pixieset for $480 bucks. Crazy, right??

We’re in the process of phasing out PASS galleries and sharing Pixieset with our 2014 clients instead…so far,they have been received really well! The small differences between the two are things that most of our clients don’t even notice…and as long as our clients are happy, we’re happy!!

 

This weekend marked the second wedding of this year’s wedding season! Luckily this week the rain held off until after it was already dark, and we were able to get a ton of gorgeous outdoor portraits, and the ceremony was still held under this AMAZING huge tree as Christina and Matt planned!

I’m looking forward to sharing more of these with you guys this week!

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Hope you’re enjoying your Monday morning so far!!

Recently I decided it was time to upgrade my “has seen better days” HP laptop to something a little newer and faster. Anything would have been a HUGE upgrade from this $500 purchase I scraped together money from three paychecks to buy almost three years ago when I started the business (the struggle was real, guys). It was finally time for me to get my first Mac! I’ve loved every single Apple product I’ve ever owned (iPods, iPhones, and an iPad) so it made sense to me to make my next computer a fruit too.

You might be reading this thinking, okay that’s nice, Katie…but what the heck does this have to with pricing???

It does! I promise!!

As I was shopping for a computer and getting really stressed out trying to narrow down the countless amount of options Apple has, it dawned on me that I don’t love a million options. I like keeping things simple. You tell me I have a choice between two packages? Fine, I’ll decide which one I like better after carefully considering both. You tell me I have to do the work to create a package myself when I don’t even know what half of the options mean (like, i5 vs i7, or nvidia graphics or iris graphics??), I’m going to freak out.

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The simplicity thing makes me feel so much better about life. I personally like to see a package, know what the cost is, and know what I’m getting. Straightforward. Easy. That’s also how my pricing works for my wedding collections. I offer two packages…the main difference being one has an album, and one does not. You can add things on if you’d like, but you don’t have to. It’s so easy and it makes it so much simpler for my clients too!

It’s important that however you decide to price yourself, whether that’s a la carte, a la mode, packages, or whatever, you make sure your pricing structure is set up the way YOU love to shop. it’s so much easier for you to sell your pricing and packaging when it makes sense to YOU and feels right.

The epilogue to my Mac story: I really want apple pie right now. ;)