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. ;)

 

 

It’s so hard to believe that wedding season is here already! The “off season” really flew by this year :) It’s crazy how every year seems to go by faster and faster. I’m not complaining though…I love what I do, and I miss it so much during our slower months.

Amanda and Drew’s wedding day was the perfect start to the 2014 season…even though it rained almost non stop, John and I still had an amazing time hanging out with these two and celebrating with their fun and energetic group of friends and family! We both loved all of the details that Amanda thought out carefully (while studying for the BAR EXAM for crying out loud!) and how every single person involved in the day was so invested in seeing these two wed.

The day started at the GORGEOUS Linden Row Inn…I love shooting there! Please, please RVA brides, get ready here!

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I loved this moment! Amanda had the diamonds from her Grandmother’s ring set into her new wedding band and waited until right before the ceremony to show her:)

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Vendors: 

Event Planner: Michelle Amarillo
Florals: Black Creek Flowers and Sweets
Church: Bon Air Christian Church
Decor and rentals: Paisley and Jade
Reception Venue: Carillon Memorial Tower
Music: Atlantic Digital Entertainment
Video: Ginger Topham
Hair and makeup: Lou Stevens Glam Squad
Cake: Pearl’s Cupcakes
Bridal Attire: Tiffany’s Bridal
Groom’s Attire: The Groom’s Corner at Tiffany’s Bridal
Bridesmaids dresses: Jingles Bridal

I’ll start this post by saying, I’m by NO MEANS an expert on running, racing, marathoning, etc (or really anything besides Fast Food), but I learned a ton throughout my training for both the half and full marathons I ran. I’m friends with a few runners and have some runner clients, and a few people have even asked me questions about running (which is shocking to me, but flattering!) so I thought, why the heck shouldn’t I write this post? Please make sure you consult a doctor or a coach or some other kind of expert before you decide to start training for anything! Keep in mind the only marathons I’m an expert on are Law and Order SVU marathons. If you could equate those to running marathons, you might say I’m the equivalent of a Boston Marathon Winner on Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson. :)

Anyway, back to running. I definitely want to share some of the things about training that I learned that really helped me…hopefully you can apply these to any race, whether that’s a 3K just for fun like the Color Run or something, or a marathon…or even just a jog around the neighborhood!

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Choose a training schedule
The first week of marathon training, I chose a beginner’s marathon training program online to use as a guideline. I ended up modifying it a little bit for me, but it was still really helpful to gauge where I was supposed to be mileage-wise by a certain time in training. I chose this one from Marathon Rookie. I took a picture of the screen with my phone (yeah, not even a screenshot, can you say GHETTO??) so I’d be able to reference it quickly whenever I started to panic about training (which was often). Because my training happened in the dead of one of the worst winters I can remember, I decided to make it my goal to run three days a week instead of four as recommended by the schedule. I honestly have mixed feelings about this. I did as well as I thought I would (just slightly slower than my half marathon pace…which was faster than I thought for being under-trained) but I’m positive I could have done even better if I had trained as according to the schedule. Some weeks I only ran twice, but maybe 2/3s of the weeks I ran three times.

Toward the end of the training, I decided to run long runs every other week instead of every week like the training doc suggested. Mostly because after doing some research and thinking about what would be best for me and my body, I decided that I needed extra time to recover in between each 15 + mile run. I ran a 15, a 17, a 20, and a 22. I decided to run the 22 mostly for mental benefits…the marathon training guides I’ve read mostly say that you shouldn’t run more than a 20 because it takes your body so long to recover, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it so that on race day, there wouldn’t be any doubt in my mind that I could do all 26.2.

Buy new shoes
I ran my half marathon in a pair of shoes I’d owned for about three and a half years that were also a little bit too tight…it’s no wonder I was having issues with my knees and IT band…there was almost NO support left in them. Fast forward to training for the full with a new pair of shoes, and I felt like a different runner. No knee problems. No IT band pain. And once I started doing ice baths and foam rolling, I was able to walk just fine the next day. I put my old shoes on yesterday to weight lift in them (you aren’t supposed to cross train or weight lift in your running shoes because it can wear them out/make them wear funny) and I was like no WONDER I was having problems!! I’d suggest finding a local running shop that will fit you for the proper shoes based on your feet and how you run.

Plan out your routes
Some people like running indoors on treadmills…but I don’t think that’s really the greatest for marathon training. Running outside is more challenging (but mentally more stimulating!) and harder on your body. You need to run the way you are going to run your race. If that’s on pavement, train out on the streets (DA STREETS!!!!). Or if it’s a trail race, run on a trail. You are training your body to used to what it needs to do for the race, so you aren’t doing yourself favors by staying inside on a treadmill. Okay, treadmill rant over! I ran outside for 98 percent of my training runs. Once the mileage started creeping up into the teens, I used Map My Run to find routes. One thing I learned was, my area is not nearly as pedestrian friendly as I thought! There were a ton of routes I would have liked to try, but they didn’t seem safe because there weren’t sidewalks…and some of these routes had BUS STOPS along the way?? What is that?? Who is supposed to walk IN THE STREET…WHERE CARS DRIVE…to get to their bus stop? It’s horrible!

Most of my long runs were out and backs (meaning I’d run x miles one way, and then turn around and come back) but for my 20 mile run, I tried running 5 miles one direction, then 5 miles back to the car (and halfway point) and then doing it all over again. There were pros and cons to doing it either way…you really just have to find what works for you. I would also suggest running with your phone if you run alone…that way if you turn your ankle on a pinecone (that happened to me) you can call someone to pick you up from the side of the road if you twist your ankle (luckily, I was fine). Also, I usually planned my route out the night before so I could visualize it. Visualizing was important for me, because so much of running long distance is mental!

Eating/Fueling BEFORE you run
If you are training for anything shorter than a 10K, these tips really won’t apply to you. You honestly don’t need to do too much differently to fuel your body until you are getting to a point where your runs are lasting more than an hour. Once I got into my long runs, I’d make sure I ate more carbs than usual the day before my long run, and guzzled water like a fish too. When you carb load, your body stores the extra as glycogen, which your body uses for energy after you’ve burned through the food you ate that day. So if you’re getting into your 12+ mile runs, you really need a little extra in the tank, so to speak. I also abstained from alcohol before a long run…even a small glass of wine the night before affected my performance, and as much as I enjoy wine and beer, I didn’t want to suffer through a painful run because of it. The morning of a run, I’d eat something small but carby like a waffle sandwich (two eggos with eggs and bacon in between) or a couple of mini bagels with baby bel cheese spread on top. I also started using these for long training runs once I got up to a 15 miler. Another thing you should be doing during training? Experimenting with your food/fuel! By race day, you should have this all down to a science…you should know what works best for your body at this point thanks to trial and error:) It’s always a bad idea to try new things on race day.

Eating/Fueling DURING a run
On long runs, I’d take Clif Bloks or GU packets with me. I’d take one for every four miles I was planning on running. I stuffed them in my sports bra most of the time…shhh! I also carried a bottle of water for any run where I’d be gone longer than an hour. I tried taking Gatorade sometimes, but combined with the sugar of the GU/Clif Bloks, my stomach wasn’t having it. Like I said earlier, training is the best time to experiment with what works and what doesn’t! I discovered that though GU packets are pretty disgusting and made me want to dry heave, they were my favorite supplement. I really liked the Tri Berry flavor with caffeine. I really could tell a difference between the caffeinated and non caffeinated. After my 15 mile run, I started driving somewhere, parking my car, and making that my half way point. By this time I really needed two bottles of water and an actual food snack (like a granola bar or a banana) so mid way through the run I’d stop at my car to grab another water and get some real food in my stomach.

Eating/Fueling AFTER a run
After really long runs, I would drink Gatorade to replenish my electrolytes (even though it was cold outside, I know I lost a lot of salt…I could taste it on my face!!). I actually have low blood pressure, so when I finished a few of these runs, I really felt lightheaded and almost in a daze. Gatorade helped a little bit! I usually drank it while I was in my ice bath (more on that in a bit) and then ate a snack with simple, quick digesting carbs…most likely another mini bagel or an eggo slathered with cream cheese. I noticed if I didn’t eat a real meal within an hour or two after a run, I’d start to feel sick to my stomach.

Post run habits
I learned really quickly that making sure to cool down, and then stretch at the very least, after EVERY run was critical to prevent both soreness and injury. After longer runs, I would also take ice baths and use both a foam roller and a stick roller to loosen up my muscles. After I finished my long run, I would jog for 1-2 minutes to bring my heart rate down, and then walk for another 2-3 before stopping to stretch. While I was running through all of my stretches, I’d run the water for an ice bath. My ice baths were really more or less just cold baths. I just ran cold water in the tub and dumped whatever ice we had in the freezer into the tub and sat in it for 10-15 minutes while I sipped some Gatorade. Cold baths are great for post run because they reduce inflammation and swelling. Hot baths, though they sound really amazing after a long run, are NOT good because they ENCOURAGE inflammation. Which is bad. I would actually do a cold bath, dry off and then do a leg drain before ever showering off. I just couldn’t handle taking cold showers, but I knew a hot shower wasn’t a good idea, so I gave myself a buffer of time in between. Leg drains are also great and promote healing because they push fresh blood into your legs once you stand up again. Hot baths are okay the day after the run or even later that night (like a few hours later) before bed or so. I usually did an epsom salt bath when I took a warm bath. At some point, I also started foam rolling, which was amazing for stretching and opening up my hips (more on that in a minute) and then also relieving pain in sore muscles.

Keep it up!
If you decide to commit to running a race, whether that’s a 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, or whatever, TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME. Tell random people, friends, family, etc. Share your journey on Instagram and Facebook. The more people you tell, the less likely you are to quit. I would post about my long run on the day I was going to do it, because I knew it would be really embarrassing for me if I basically told the world about it and then flaked out because it was cold or something. Once people started following my journey training for the marathon, I knew I couldn’t quit no matter what, because not only did people know about it, but people started telling me crazy things…like that I inspired them. Seriously…what?? Me?? I don’t consider myself inspiring at all! But once I heard a couple of people say that to me, I knew that I couldn’t quit, because I wanted to encourage the people who were following along and watching training play out that they could do it too! Does that sound silly? I hope it doesn’t. I found myself getting motivation from all kinds of places and yes, Instagram likes and comments were one of them. Don’t judge me!

If you’ve made it to this point in the post, congratulations! This post was sort of a mini marathon in itself! I know this post won’t appeal to a lot of the brides/photogs/friends who read the blog, but I just had to share it…if not to help other people, to remind myself what I did this time when I start training for the next one! Yes, I’m definitely doing it again:) I’m CRAY CRAY, guys!! Addicted. My next post about marathoning is going to be what I would have done differently…and what I wouldn’t. Can’t wait to share it with you!

 

 

 

 

A lot of people have blogged about what an ideal day for them is like, but since I’ve been self employed I can’t really say that many of my days are exactly the same as the others! I have so many different hats to wear (photographer, editor, blogger, bookkeeper, accountant, marketing executive, customer service, etc) that sometimes it doesn’t make sense for me to do a little bit of everything every day. Instead I prefer to look at my work a week in advance and schedule my “ideal week” out. This means instead of stepping in and out of one project to another, I complete one, then move to another. Of course every week won’t be the same…some weeks we have Friday weddings or sessions or rehearsal dinners to shoot. Other weeks I have appointments out of the office, or travel. And during off season, all bets are off and structured work times go out the window.

But in general, My ideal week looks something like this:

Monday: Cull and sort Saturday’s wedding. Edit wedding. That’s pretty much my whole day. It shouldn’t take me more than 6 hours to hammer out an entire wedding…and I’m working on getting that amount of time shorter and shorter. Hopefully with a new computer this will go even faster!
Tuesday: Office work day. Meaning album design, pre blogging, bookkeeping, accounting, etc. All of that fun stuff:)
Wednesday: Marry and Bright day. I use this time to go through submissions and approve and deny them, answer emails that pertain to me and my responsibilities, any bookkeeping, blog maintenance, etc.
Thursday: Office errands, packaging client gifts, post office, etc
Friday: Day off! Rest up for wedding the next day and prepare by recharging batteries, packing bag, cleaning glass. And then recharging MY batteries by enjoying a little bit of time off from the business.
Saturday: Shoot a wedding! Boom.
Sunday: day off…or travel home from wedding.

Obviously I handle emails, social media, and sending invoices, contracts, etc on a daily basis, but for me, structuring  my weeks this way has worked really well. It’s something I started back when I was working full time and running my business full time on the side as well…it gave me so much more structure and helped me be more productive! Within any of those workdays, I try to be in my office around 9 am or so and work until 4:30 or 5pm. But sometimes I start earlier or later and finish up earlier or later depending on what’s going on. I try to give myself a little lee-way too as long as my work is getting done, because hey, being self employed has it’s perks:) Sometimes that means watching netflix while I edit…and sometimes that means answering emails on my laptop in bed in the morning! #selfemploymentperks

Anyone else out there in internet-land prefer to schedule week to week instead of day by day? Also, I’m so excited to share a fun wedding with you all soon, here’s a peek at what’s to come!

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