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Off Season Projects

Though I know busy season is right around the corner (I can feel it especially well, thanks to these beautiful 70 degree days!!), it’s still off season for now. Busy season can be so, well, busy, that it’s important to really do our best to maximize our off season and get the most out of it that we can. In addition to meeting with lots of new and potential clients, I’ve been working on a lot of behind the scenes things. Here are a few of the projects I’ve been up to this off season!

 Pre-prepping client gifts and packages
One of the things that I have struggled with over the past couple years is finding a really good system for my client gifts and packaging! It ends up being such a huge project when I’ve already got a million other things going on. I’ve been trying to come up with a good solution to make this process simpler and I think I’ve finally come up with something. Pre-packaging some of the items that I send seems to help a lot! I know I’ll be glad I took the time to do this when busy season rolls around again!

Watching free webinars and reading blog posts on topics of interest
The sudden influx of so many free webinars is for sure a sign of how the industry changes so quickly. A year or two ago, webinars weren’t really a thing in the creative/photography industry, but now they are EVERYWHERE. I don’t see that as a bad thing though…for the most part, they’re completely free education! Whether or not their content is actually helpful is another story, but if you seek out webinars on things you are interested in and devote an hour to it and learn one or two things, you still come out ahead! These are not a bad way to spend a lunch break or an hour out of the afternoon, depending on what you choose to check out.

Reading business books
Right now I’m working on a book called “Everybody Writes because I think writing is so essential to running a business. I write blog posts, of course, but I also write emails, social media updates, website copy, etc. Writing is a huge key to how I market the business! I feel that if this book helps me become a stronger writer, it will also help my brand presence become stronger as well!

Researching new social media strategies
It used to be that social media platforms were pretty simple to figure out. Before algorithms and the push to purchase advertising, things were so much easier! Now you have to figure out strategies to get the most out of each platform…what times are the best to post? What type of content is the most engaging? Do I post a link with a photo, or a photo with a link??

Optimizing for better SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is so SO important in my mind. People can’t find you and fall in love with your work unless you make it easy for them! How many times have you done a google search and looked past the first one or two items that pop up? I’m making SEO a huge part of my goals for the year because I think it’s incredibly important.

Preparing my taxes for 2016
This is forever one of my beginning of the year projects! It’s not the most fun, but oddly enough it’s not my least favorite thing to do either. I do really enjoy looking at the numbers and getting a very clear picture of how the business did in the last year!

Updating contracts, pricing, website, questionnaires, etc
What better way to start out a new year than by giving things a little bit of a refresh? I’ve been going through things like contracts and questionnaires looking for things to cut out or add and I’ve been trying to come up with ways to showcase the ways that we serve our clients and what sets us apart when it comes to my website and pricing guide. This slower time of year has been a great time to experiement with that!

Blogging my heart out
I used to be a 5 day a week blogger, but I really want to focus more on QUALITY vs QUANTITY, so I’ve dropped down to 2-3 posts a week in order to both still maintain a schedule, but also to not feel pressured to write just anything. It’s incredibly important to me to come up with my own unique content, so I have been using this time to write out a lot of ideas and pre-write some posts. The book I mentioned earlier, “Everybody Writes” says in order to get better as a writer, you’ve got to do it every day. Without as much on my plate right now, I’m able to commit more time to working on this and I think it’s been great so far!

Submitting my work from 2016
Last year, I did not make submitting my work a priority at all. I think I maybe submitted two things?!? In prior years I submitted almost everything I shot. It challenged me as a growing photographer to shoot with a submission in mind and it really did help boost my SEO results! Now that I have time, I’m hoping to get through all of the weddings I’d like to submit from last year before moving on to engagement sessions.

(I just want to note really quickly that while getting featured is fun and it’s always exciting, that’s not the real reason to keep submitting your work! I’m writing a blog post about why this is still such a good business move and I’ll share it soon!!)

Taking stock photos for future blog posts
I’ve been working on this because I KNOW it will make my life so much easier when the last thing I want to do is style office supplies, take photos, and edit them for a SINGLE blog post. It’s so much easier to do a bunch of different photos all in one day and have them waiting for the perfect post in a folder on my hard drive. Work smarter, not harder, yall.

Spending more time cultivating relationships around me
Networking is just not really my thing. I do love having industry friends, though….I love being able to bounce ideas off of them, being able to commiserate about some of the less glam parts of our jobs. These are my people, my coworkers! When it’s busy season it’s harder to get calendars aligned, so I’ve tried to really make it a point to get together with people now, while it’s a bit quieter.

Packing to move
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much publicly, but we are moving again! Instead of moving right in the middle of one of my busiest months like we did last year, we’re moving in March instead. I’m currently working on going through every room in our home looking for things to purge. I’m on a big “out with the old, in with the new” kick right now. My theory is, anything we don’t love should go so that it can be replaced at some point with something we actually do love. Moving is always such a big project, but I’m thankful to not have to do it during busy season…and to have a husband who is not recovering from surgery this year! (knock on wood…shhh!)

That’s not quite an exhaustive list of what I’ve been up to, but writing some of the things on my project list down has made me realize that maybe off season isn’t really that much of a slow season…it’s just a different type of season. At any rate, this year’s off season has been so productive and I’m looking forward to a great busy season!

If you’re a small business owner and you’ve been interested in working with me on a mentoring session, Skype mentoring sessions are currently $50 off til Valentine’s Day! Email me for details.

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Favorite Unscripted Moments of 2016

For the last few years, in addition to my annual favorite detail and wedding image posts, I’ve curated one of my favorite unscripted moments too. You might be wondering “Why another post instead of just putting them all together into one?”. I think that each component of the wedding day is important (details, portraits, etc) but I think that candid, “unscripted” moments are the glue that bind things together. They’re what makes the story of a wedding day a real life story and not just a series of pretty photos strung together. They’re what give a wedding day gallery true meaning!

Often these unscripted moments don’t get as much time to shine as the portraits posed in just the right light or the details that were styled “just so” for that perfect photo, but I’m excited to share some of the moments that I loved from last year with you guys today!

I loved the look that Laura and her mom shared as the final touches were put on her gown!

Brett’s dance with his mom during his reception was one of the sweetest things I’ve seen at a wedding! I don’t think I saw a dry eye in the house!

Beth and Mike’s heartfelt ceremony was so sweet!

I secretly love it when the groom cries when he does a first look with his bride. James’ reaction to Emily was my favorite! He couldn’t get over her beautiful gown!

Emilee and Jonathan’s first dance was to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the Lion King, which was awesome to begin with, but their dance was adorable too!

This image still brings a tear to my eye! Nick and Robyn and Nick’s daughter all shared an emotional moment right after the ceremony. They all share so much love and you can feel it in this image!

How pumped were Sarah and Brett were to enter their reception??

I loved Starski’s reaction to Jessi’s vows at their ceremony!

How cute are Amie and Chris??

David and Abby radiated joy during their ceremony exit!!

I didn’t get to see the outcome of this selfie, but I have a feeling it was pretty fantastic…

John’s reaction to seeing Christine for the first time was priceless!!

Best reception entrance ever!

I’ll end with this one because it’s one of my all time favorite first look images…geez, is it dusty in here, or is there something in my eye??

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Oh my goodness, I love these sooo much! I love that you gave these moments their own blog post. It shows that you are really great at capturing those candids too!

All the feels! Absolutely gorgeous, Katie!

What a beautiful post, Katie!!!! Love these so much — and that final first look photo is to die for!

Virginia Beach Wedding Photos | Francis + Aamir

Our final wedding of 2017 was one I’ll never forget! Francis and Aamir’s Pakistani wedding celebration sounded so unique when she described it to me before the big day, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! It was absolutely gorgeous, filled with color, light, and beautiful, sparkly things. Every detail was so well thought out and all of their guests were so well taken care of! Including, us their photographers, and their video team, too! I will never forget how sweet they were to seat us with their friends and family at dinner and how they made sure we had some of the amazing food!

I loved the glitz and glamour of this day, but even more so, the quiet, simple love that Francis and Aamir share! My favorite moments from their wedding day were their sweet first look (where both of them teared up!) and their private last dance after all the guests had gone outside for the sparkler exit! With such a big wedding day celebration (that spanned two whole days!) it would be easy to get caught up in things, but I noticed that they both made time for one another throughout everything else that was happening, which seemed like such a perfect metaphor for marriage!

Enjoy a few of my favorite images!!

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oh my goodness! This is so beautiful! Everything about this wedding is just so colorful and sparkly and just stunning!What a way to end the year!

Five Other Things Wedding Photographers Do

One of my favorite things about being a wedding photographer is that it’s not a boring job. Not in the least! It’s one of those jobs where you wear lots of hats and do lots of things outside of your official job title. Since as wedding photographers we play such an involved role and have such an intimate view of the wedding day, we end up getting to help out in a variety of ways. I thought it would be fun to share a few of those!

  1. Art director One of the things that most people don’t realize is how much work goes into taking a great photograph. It’s not just the lighting or the camera that makes a photo special…it’s also the styling, posing, and mood of an image! While photographers who work in other fields might have an art director on set to help create those moods, most wedding photographers rely on themselves to be the day’s art director. Of course, there are some photographers who don’t do this at all because they take more of a documentary approach. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are photographers who take staging things to the next level by bringing their own stationery or other props in an effort to make the wedding look as “fine art” as possible. Both have their place for sure, but my personal philosophy is to create beautiful images of the wedding day as it actually happened. I will style and/or remove distracting elements (like trash cans or exit signs) in an effort to create beautiful photos, but ultimately, I want the focus to be on your memories and the story of your actual wedding day!
  2. Pharmacist
    I keep all kinds of “just in case” things in my camera case, including lots of medicines like chewable Pepto Bismol, Tums, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, hydrocortisone cream, and even an instant ice pack! I’ve learned to keep these things on hand for myself (because you never know!) but I’ve also passed out my fair share of Pepto to soothe a bride’s sour stomach and shared ibuprofen with groomsmen who had a little bit too much fun at the Rehearsal Dinner.
  3. Weatherman
    Since weddings go on despite whatever the weather decides to do, a photographer also often acts as a makeshift meteorologist. I keep the Dark Sky app on my phone and weigh the odds of rain and/or wind with the timeline. I can read a weather radar like a pro and interpret percentages like the best of them!
  4. Sherpa/pack mule
    Since many photographers keep a camera bag handy for quick lens changes, we’re also known to be somewhat of a stand in sherpa or pack mule on a wedding day. I’ve been known to hold onto any number of random things from the bridesmaids’ lipsticks (for touch ups) to the bride’s phone or the rings!
  5. Dance instructor
    One thing that happens when you become a wedding photographer and attend over 125 weddings is that you’ll eventually learn all of the organized dances that happen at a lot of weddings, like the Wobble or the Cupid’s Shuffle. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to NOT learn these dances after all of that time! At any rate, I’ve photographed at least a few weddings where few, if none, of the guests knew the moves to one of these dances and of course, I was more than happy to demonstrate to get things going!

That’s just a small sampling of some of the ways we serve our clients beyond just photography! We love being a part of each of these wedding days and it makes us so happy to be able to help make the day go more smoothly in any way we can. One of the best things about the job is being able to add to the experience each of our clients has on their wedding day.

Interested in working with us? We’ve got a couple 2017 dates left and we’re booking for 2018! Email me for more information!

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Capitol Hill Wedding Photos | Allison + Blake

Allison and Blake’s Capitol Hill wedding day was our second to last of 2016! It was the perfect way to round out our “busy season” before we headed into Winter. From my first time “meeting” Allison over Skype to the very last minutes of their wedding day coverage I was struck by the sweetness of the love that she and Blake both share. Where other couples are sometimes nervous on their wedding day, both Allison and Blake stayed very cool, very calm, and incredibly happy the entire day. I loved that!

My favorite thing about their wedding besides the elegant, simple details that they carefully chose with their planner Kelly Cannon Events, was how much they made the day about what’s most important to the two of them…their faith and their friends and family. It was such a special day that we’ll never forget! We were so lucky to have been a part of it!

Here are some of my favorite images!

Vendors:
Wedding Planner: Kelley Cannon Events // Church: Capitol Hill Baptist Church // Reception Venue: McLean Gardens Ballroom // Flowers: Growing Wild // Hair and Makeup: Norma Rios // Stationery: Reaves Engraving // Dress: Fabulous Frocks //Third Photographer: Abby Grace Photography

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