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How to Prepare for Wedding Season

Tomorrow marks my first “regular season” wedding of 2016 and I couldn’t be more excited! This will be my SIXTH season as a wedding photographer and my fifth doing it full time. It’s crazy to think about how fast the time has gone by since I started my business. It feels like it was just yesterday I was buying my first camera and hoping I’d be able to eventually leave my day job!

Since the start of a new season is upon us, I’ve been using this week to get prepared to get back into the swing of things and thought it could be helpful to share what I’ve done to help others who are in the same boat! In my opinion, starting up after off season is kind of like starting back to school after the Fall. You’ve got to start out prepared if you want to have a good year, right?

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In that spirit, here are some of the things I did this week to prep for the start of busy season!

Buy new CF cards
It’s always a good practice to cycle your CF cards and it makes it easy to remember to do so if you time buying new ones for the start of a new wedding season. I just purchased 6 new cards to add to my rotation! Read more here about how I care for my CF cards!

Have equipment serviced
I seem to always wait until the last minute to do this, but if you’re preparing for your first wedding of the season, it’s the perfect time for having your equipment maintained. If you’re a Canon shooter like me, consider joining CPS because you get free clean and checks of several items as well as free rush shipping and a discount on repair costs if you’re at least a Gold member.

Replenish supplies
I, like a lot of people, keep certain wedding day “necessities” in my bag (gum, mints, floss, bug spray, etc) but after a long off season, some of the things may have expired, or gotten lost. A Target run will solve that!

Do some spring cleaning
Cleaning up our apartment is always on my pre-wedding checklist because 1. I love nothing more than coming home to a clean house when I’m exhausted after a long wedding day. And 2. I know I won’t have as much time to worry about cleaning things up the next week, so it’s good to at least START with a clean slate.

Give your computer a tune up
Since you’ll be using your computer a lot more for editing now, it’s a great idea to give your machine a refresh! Take some time to clean up your hard drive and delete anything you don’t need and update all of the apps and programs you use that may need it. This way you’ll be ready to roll with your post processing workflow!

Get your car’s oil changed & fill up your tank
Self explanatory, right? This is something I try to do ahead of time (especially the gas thing!) because there’s nothing more annoying than starting out on a 3 hour drive to a wedding and you’ve already got to stop for gas. So frustrating!!

What’s on your pre wedding season to do list?? Good luck to everyone else who’s got a wedding tomorrow!

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A New Project

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably heard about my newest project, a food blog called Katie Loves to Eat! I decided to start a second blog because even though I’ve loved blogging here for almost 5 years now, I wanted a hobby project for myself. Something just for fun!

As a business owner, I spend so much of my time behind the scenes working on things that are decidedly NOT fun at all (taxes, bookkeeping, marketing, etc) that it’s hard to remember to nurture my creative side. I think most photographers are either naturally a little more business savvy OR a little more creative. I tend to lean more towards the business side of things because in my mind, there’s really no need to work on being creative if I don’t have any business! It’s easy to get caught up in those tasks though and forget to nurture creativity. My creative side is what drew me to photography in the first place, and since it’s my career now, I think it’s smart to look for other avenues outside of taking photos to fuel that spirit!

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I REALLY love food and I’ve always enjoyed writing, so it made sense to me to turn my little food Instagram page (@katielovestoeat) into a slightly more substantial hobby. If nothing else happens, I’ll have an amazing diary of all of my foodie adventures! That’s the thing I love about blogging, it becomes sort of like an online journal. Looking back at my old posts on THIS blog makes me feel so proud of where I came from starting the business 5 years ago! It’s so crazy. So CRAZY. But that’s a post for another day 😉

Thank you for following me here, and if you’re so inclined, I’d love to see you over at my new second home as well! I also plan to still post here 3-4 days a week, so no worries if food isn’t your thing and you’re here for photo tips, weddings, and engagement sessions!

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Congratulations on the new blog and the food looks delicious!

What a fun project! Looking forward to reading your new blog!

Making Your Clients a Priority

Photographers talk about client experience all the time, but what a lot of people don’t realize, is that client experience is so much more than just the ribbon you use in your packaging or the pretty client guide you send out. The biggest key to creating an amazing client experience is how you make people feel!  

Recently, I read someone in a photography group I’m in on Facebook write: “Man, why does it feel like my clients think they’re the only client that I have??”. This person went on to say that their clients should be more aware that they’ve got a lot going on and can’t just cater to them alone all the time.

While I can totally understand that there are times when it can get really frustrating and overwhelming as a business owner (especially during busy season!) I think that’s the wrong way to feel about the situation. If a client feels like they’re your only client, that’s a good thing! Why would you want them to feel like they’re just a number? You want your clients to feel taken care of. Like you have their best interests at heart and are so excited to be a part of their wedding day. What you don’t want is for them to feel like they’re not important to you or a priority. Each and every one of my clients are the MOST important part of my business because without them, I don’t have a business.

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Here are three simple things you can do to make your clients a priority!

  • Limit the number of weddings you take on a year. I only take 20-25 weddings each year because I know that’s the perfect number for me personally to balance. I could technically shoot more weddings than that, however, I know what I wouldn’t be able to give everyone the attention they need and deserve.
  • Outsource your editing OR learn a better workflow. If you’re spending dozens and dozens of hours behind your computer editing each of your weddings and sessions, that’s going to take away from the time you have to take care of your clients! I highly suggest either outsourcing your editing OR learning a 5 hour wedding day workflow like mine. (I teach this at workshops and mentoring sessions!! Go here for more info!).
  • Answer emails in a timely manner. Nothing makes people feel less special than waiting forever to get back to them via email. I try to handle all of my emails once a day (at the least!) and while I’m not perfect at this, I’ve got a few tricks (which you can read about here) that make this process a bit easier. One rule of thumb I use is to try to answer client emails first and leave any others (from vendors, blogs, etc) for last.
  • Manage client expectations. Expectations are such a tricky thing! They can be a huge reason for missed communication and confusion between business owners and clients. Managing your client expectations lets them know what to expect, which in turn helps them feel like they’re being well taken care of, especially if you are able to exceed their expectations!

Prioritizing your clients and making them feel as though they’re your only client is really one of the easiest and inexpensive things you can do to market your business! What are some things that you do to make your clients feel like they’re your top priority?

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You literally took the words right from our mouths! Love this!

Making Getting Ready Simpler

If there was only ONE tip I could give to any bride (or groom) who wants to have a less stressful wedding morning, it would be to organize and have all of your details in one spot at the beginning of the day!  Having all of your bridal/getting ready details, (both ones you want photographed, like rings and stationery, and ones you don’t, like underwear and hairspray) in one place on your wedding morning will make your life so much easier! No one wants to have to go on a scavenger hunt looking for earrings, bobby pins, and double stick tape the morning of their wedding. TRUST me.

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Having everything in one place not only makes your life easier (and your bridesmaids, too!) it also helps your photographer, which in turn, helps you out! I have so much more time to style and photograph your details if you have them prepared for me when I arrive. I also am able to get through styling and photographing all of those things more quickly, which gives me more time for candids and creative portraits! Being organized ahead of time is a win/win.

Here are a few things that I suggest having prepared in one place for your photographer to grab when they arrive:

A fresh copy of your wedding stationery, envelopes included. If you’re having a calligrapher do the addresses on your invitations, be sure to have them do an extra one for photos!

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Any jewelry you’ll be wearing (earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc). Also, pro tip: if you have a few options on what you might be wearing, be sure to choose by the morning of the wedding so we can photograph what you’ll actually be wearing and not spend time shooting stuff you don’t want to wear.

All three rings (your engagement ring and both wedding bands!). Sometimes people will advise you to give all three rings to the Best Man the night before the wedding, but the best time for us to photograph them (for both lighting and continuity) is at the beginning of the day with the rest of the getting ready details.

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Your bridal shoes

The bride’s bouquet. You’ll want to work with your florist to have your bouquet delivered to where you’re getting ready the morning of the wedding, preferably before your photographers arrive. Bonus points for having a boutonnière on hand. Also, talk to your florist about having a few extra loose blooms! They’re always a plus for styling detail photographs!

Your wedding gown & veil. 

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Your bridal clutch or handbag

Your something old, new, borrowed, and blue. 

These are just a few of the things we suggest keeping all together for wedding day photos! I suggest making a list of the items you’d like to include in your detail photos for your own reference, gathering everything in advance, and keeping it all together in one place that you can make sure nothing gets lost on the way to where you’ll be getting ready!

 

 

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Washington DC Engagement Session

Once every year, at the beginning of Spring, there’s a teeny tiny window of time when the Cherry Blossoms bloom. The peak bloom of the DC Cherry Blossoms is so highly anticipated, there are entire websites devoted to forecasting exactly when they’ll make themselves known. Over 2000 of these trees line the tidal basin and I’ve read that over 1.5 million people attend the Cherry Blossom Festival annually. People literally come from all over to see these beautiful trees and their pink flowers!

This makes shooting an engagement session during Cherry Blossom peak very tricky! It can also be a little bit more stressful of a shoot for an engaged couple, since they’ve got an audience of folks from all over the world! I find that sunrise is usually the best time of day for these types of sessions, however, all bets are off on Easter Sunday…it was crazy! I have to give big props to Lauren and Taylor for being such troopers throughout the shoot. It’s not easy getting your photo taken in such a chaotic atmosphere, but they did so well!!

I love sunrise sessions (even when the sun doesn’t come out) and I’m so glad we were able to make this work in time for Cherry Blossom season. Enjoy a few of my faves!

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