Another year is ending…can you guys believe it? We’re almost halfway through another DECADE! It’s crazy how fast time flies. I feel like I talk about that all the time, but I’m just blown away by how quickly days turn into years once you’re an adult. It’s weird…when I was a kid I used to think the month or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas felt like it was SO long. It always dragged out. Now as an adult, I can hardly keep up! Christmas is in three days! Didn’t we just sit down for Thanksgiving dinner last week??

Anyway, as this year comes to a close, I’m excited to be sharing some of my favorites from the past year, starting with the best of our 2014 engagement sessions!

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Q. Do you work from shot lists? Should we create a list of must have shots and/or poses for you? 

A. This is a great question! Shot lists are one of those things I think people believe are important because they read about them in a wedding magazine or website. I’ve seen them myself…they recommend giving your photographer a list of  of “must have” shots to ensure nothing gets missed. The thing about these kinds of lists though, is that they are more than likely NOT written by professional photographers, so they really have no idea how photographers work. Most professional photographers don’t work from shot lists throughout the day. Really the only time a list is necessary is during family formals, when we need a list of who you’d like in each shot. If you ask your photographer to work from a list during the rest of the day (with things like “first kiss”, “bride walking down aisle”, “centerpieces”, etc), it means they are going to have to spend their time paying attention to the list to make sure they’re checking everything off. Which in turns guarantees that they are less able to be creative and capture the candid moments that happen because they’re focused on checking things off of the list. This is why it’s SO important to make sure you hire a photographer you trust and who has a consistent style you really love.

So, while we don’t work from shot lists, we do ask on our pre-wedding questionnaire if there’s anything out of the ordinary we should know about at your wedding (special surprises, unique traditions, heirlooms, etc) so that we can make capturing those a priority. John and I consider ourselves storytellers. This means that our approach to shooting weddings isn’t a one size fits all thing where we decide to shoot only certain pieces. This means we are looking to capture all kinds of things in a way that is cohesive, beautiful, and preserves the story of your wedding day for generations to come:)

To summarize…shot lists inhibit the way your photographer is able to capture your wedding and can actually harm your coverage more than help!

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It’s that time of year again! Time to look back and evaluate how things went this past year. It’s so hard to believe that 2014 is coming to an end, but apparently there are only two weeks left! Where the heck did the time go?? I love doing these recap posts annually because I feel like writing them and sharing with you guys helps keep me accountable. It’s easy to tell yourself you’re going to do something and then totally sweep it under the rug and not do it, but if you tell everyone you know via the internet, it’s a lot more difficult to pretend you didn’t say you were going to try to do what you said you were going to do. So, to all of my friends who read the blog, thanks for keeping me accountable! And if you’re curious, here’s how I did this year!

Photo by Katch Silva

(Thank you for this photo, Katch Silva!)

Business Plans:

  • Redo my packaging. This is already in the works! I’m so excited about this! It’s really more of a refresh than a complete redo, but it’s something I’ve been planning to do for a while and…well just never did. COMPLETE. This is done, but I feel like I’m constantly working on tweaking this to make things better. But I love packaging, so it’s fun to do it!
  • New headshots. I haven’t had headshots done in a while, and I would love to update them in 2014! The tricky part is going to be deciding on locations and outfits! INCOMPLETE. I had a few photographs of myself taken at Foster workshop by the amazing Ben Sasso and Katch Silva, but I really need some specific, branded portraits for my marketing collateral. I’m adding that to my 2015 to-do list!
  • Slowly begin to incorporate John into the brand more. John is such a huge asset to my business…he’s a great photographer, he’s fun to be around, and he really interacts well with my clients. I have LOVED having him as my second shooter, and we grow to be more and more of a team (work-wise) I would like to slowly incorporate that into my marketing/website/etc.  IN PROGRESS. John is a big part of a project coming up in 2015 and I couldn’t be more excited about it…more on that soon!
  • Book 10 weddings for 2015. I have found that 20ish weddings is my happy place, and I also feel good about my business when I close out the year at least halfway to my goal! COMPLETE. Yay! We are thrilled to have 16 couples on the books for 2015 so far. We are only going to be taking on a select few more weddings for next year too, as we’re narrowing our focus a bit.
  • Buy a new computer. Do you guys want to know a secret? I’ve been running my business on a 15 inch HP laptop since the start! in 2013 I upgraded to also add an external monitor for editing, but I can tell that the computer isn’t going to last me another couple of years. I’m thinking about upgrading to a Mac Mini to use with the monitor I bought last year! Does anyone use one and love it?? I would love a Macbook Pro but I’m not sure it’s in the budget this year. COMPLETE. If you told me at the beginning of the year I’d be able to get a Macbook pro AND a 5D Mark III, I’d have said you were smoking crack. But I invested in both this year and both have been so amazing I can’t remember how I ever lived without them!
  • Learn stuffOne of my goals for the first quarter of the year is to get some education. I feel like there’s never enough time during wedding season, so I want to make learning a bigger priority for the rest of the off season! COMPLETE.
  • Find solutions for bottlenecks in my business. One major stumbling block I had last fall was: sharing images from every wedding with all vendors in a timely manner and submitting each wedding. I work really hard to turn my images around quickly to clients, but sometimes that means other things are not quite as big of a priority. I realize that BOTH of those are things that I need to stay on top of to continue to grow my business and not become stagnant, so I want to come up with a way to make it easier for me to do them both. Basically I call this my “step up my game” plan. Haha. IN COMPLETE. 
  • Try out different methods of marketing. For a while, I was adamant I would never spend a dime on marketing besides my client experience. But then I started to wonder why do I feel that way? It had a lot to do with the fact that several of the photographers I really admire built their businesses solely on word of mouth referrals. I consider myself lucky to have been able to do the same…especially since the pool of people I actually know in real life is so small! I didn’t go to college and was homeschooled in high school so I don’t have a huge sorority or groups of college/high school friends to book from. I also believe my business should be first and foremost run on what makes me feel good, and what my gut tells me…my gut tells me I won’t know how effective other forms of marketing are until I try some out! So, I’m actually going to be a part of a well known wedding blog’s vendor guide this year…we’ll see how it turns out, and I will definitely keep you guys updated if you’re interested! COMPLETE. This was definitely an interesting experience. I’m contemplating blogging about it, so I won’t give away too much, but I would definitely say that you should always feel like you are open to trying new ways of doing things, even just to experiment and see what happens.
  • Shoot a few more lifestyle/portrait sessions. Last year I discovered that I really loved shooting lifestyle-esque sessions like the ones I did for my friends Jerri and Mark as they prepared for and welcomed their baby, Vance home. I would love to take on a few more of these types of sessions in between my wedding schedule. I’m also interested in getting shooting more boudoir! INCOMPLETE. One of the things I introduced this year was teaching workshops, which meant in between planning for that and working my regular wedding schedule, I didn’t have much free time to work on other projects I was interested in.
  • Meet my 2014 booking goalDuh. COMPLETE. Yay!
  • Figure out why bulleting these lists makes the text so small. Help?


  • Have funAlso: see more live bands, eat more, drink beer, dance more, and laugh-til-I-pee-or-cry more. COMPLETE. This has been one of the most fun years.
  • Run a marathonI don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I have been training for weeks now! COMPLETE! I am so pumped to finally cross this huge item off of my bucket list!
  • Swim lessonsLast summer, Lauren taught me how to swim in a 30 ft lake. I wish she lived closer because I really want to learn actual strokes and how to be a confident real swimmer. I’m in the process of looking for a place to take swim lessons, and don’t tell anyone, but my eventual goal is to do a triathlon. Haha…it seems to be go big or go home with my fitness goals lately…I did say EVENTUAL though, and triathalon is NOT actually on this year’s list…so. INCOMPLETE. Kept meaning to sign up for these at my gym…that I joined because there’s a pool there…but I haven’t done it yet.
  • Save money. A cliche goal, but one that I’m committed to. I’m also interested in looking into investing in the stock market…should be an adventure, albeit not a super exciting one ;) IN PROGRESS. Can you ever mark this goal complete??
  • Finally upgrade our mattress (haha). We sleep on a full sized bed like we’re one teenager, except we’re two grown adults. It’s…cozy. I’m ready to make this happen this year! COMPLETE! Woo hoo!
  • Drink more tea and water. Another cliche but very necessary goal. So obsessed with this almond caramel amaretti tea from Teavana. OMG. It’s delicious. IN PROGRESS. This is another goal that’s kind of a never-ending story if you know what I mean.
  • Take a mini vacationJohn and I have been putting off our honeymoon for two and a half years. I’d love for us to travel some this year…together. Just for fun, not for work. I sometimes feel conflicted about planning vacations for us when we need to save and pay down on our bills, but we’re only going to be young once, right? We also may have a family one day and it will be a lot harder to do our honeymoon when we’re leaving behind kids. Come on guys, I know you can help me rationalize a trip:) Complete. We still haven’t honeymooned yet, but I’m happy to say that we have gone on two mini trips this year! One to New Orleans and one to California. We love traveling, so more trips are on our goal list for 2015!

In the coming days, I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favorite images from this year as well as my goals for next year, but I thought it would be fun to close out this post with a few favorite Instagrams from this year!

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2014 Outtakes

It’s time for one of my favorite annual posts! Our outtakes from the past year! I’ve been saving these images from our weddings ALL YEAR just for this post…so get excited to see lots of embarrassing pictures (of me…I always look like a crazy person at weddings) and behind the scenes peeks at what it’s like on location at a wedding!

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Shoulders during group photos are an obsession of mine

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Purple is John’s favorite color, if you didn’t know.

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I broke my toe at a wedding…and had to wear a mini boot for two of my next weddings!! It was one of those things that definitely has become a good story…but at the time was not super fun.

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Trekking through Baltimore with a bridal party behind me…NBD.

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This is what I do while I’m waiting for family to get in place for formals.

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Ali helped me carry my gear at this wedding so I wouldn’t put any extra weight on my foot…and here we are checking out phones in front of my bride. JK…we’re actually seeing what the rain situation is supposed to be…Dark Sky App for the win!

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So…I get itchy sometimes.

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On the left…I AM SO SHORT!!!!!

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Some more boot action!

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You never get to see how many spectators there often are to photos in the actual photos! (Also, I wear that dress a lot in the summer)

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On the left: a HOTTIE coming down the aisle. On the right: Family formal time summed up in one photo

2014 Outtakes Behind the scenes_020 This veil thing is not easy, guys! And I literally broke my big toe like an hour before this happened…good times.

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Making my clients happy is the best part of my job! Don’t look at how crazy my hair looked…I got rained on:(

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Cake cutting tutorials are free when you work with us!

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So is boutonniere pinning!

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This is like the ONE outtake photo of me where I don’t look at least a few weeks pregnant (thanks, terrible posture and chip eating habit) so obviously, it made the cut.

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SEE??? Preg….NOT. Just a belly full of carbs here. Nothing to see.

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I am easily amused.

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Dogs at weddings are my favorite! But also a reason Lucy could never third shoot.

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SERIOUSLY…I promise I own more dresses than this. But this one makes my lats look really good (google it)

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See! Different outfit! And one of my photog bffs! Love you Jen Jar!

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John is the best…who else would carry both of our bags??

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Me and my bestie, my favorite second shooter, and life partner. I couldn’t have done 2014 without him! To all of our clients, thank you so much for having us! We love you!

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Car troubles are probably one of the most stressful, anxiety inducing things out there. They’re right up there with all of the things I hate…including lima beans…and bathrooms that have carpeting. I get anxious just thinking about having to take my car to get repaired. My car is what connects me to the outside world! Having a car is essential to my business and my business is essential to being able to pay my bills and live my life. Thinking about what I’d do without it makes me freak the heck out. So weekends like last weekend, where there’s an unknown problem with it and I’m basically considering all of the worst case scenarios (like potentially not being able to go ANYWHERE for long periods of time, having to get a new car, etc) are not my idea of a good time.

I am learning though, in stressful times, to redirect my thoughts. Instead of thinking about how terrible the situation is, and how much it sucks, I think about how much it doesn’t suck. I think about the positive things, always starting with, “If this is my BIGGEST problem right now, my life is pretty great”. If spending $700 dollars on my car is the absolute WORST problem in my life…my life actually looks pretty amazing. I am healthy, happy, and safe. I actually have $700 in my savings account to have the repairs made, and we have another (albeit old and smelly) vehicle we can use to get from place to place if we really needed to go somewhere while the car gets fixed. Oh, and, we have a car. Which is a huge luxury! From there, positive thoughts start to fill my head in almost a domino effect and my anxiety starts to melt away. Everything is okay…in fact, things are pretty great.

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Applying this spin on my negative thoughts and learning to be grateful for my “problems”  helps my anxiety more than almost any other remedy I’ve ever tried. Anytime I feel myself getting stressed about something, whether it’s as small as a traffic jam or as large as a big unexpected car repair during off season, right before Christmas, I think about how small my problems really are in comparison to other things happening in the world every day, and I start to feel thankful instead of anxious. It works like a charm! And the best thing about it is, it’s true. Looking at the good parts of life instead of the bad will always make you realize how wonderful it all really is. The next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, start with this: “If this is the worst problem in my life right now…my life is pretty great”. I guarantee amazing results :)


When I first started out as a photographer, nothing scared me more than the idea of shooting a wedding in a super dark church. Add to that the fact that I had a cropped sensor camera body and I pretty much felt my heart sink every time I stepped into a dimly lit sanctuary on a wedding day. These days, while most of my clients choose outdoor ceremony locations, I still shoot a few church weddings every year when the right couple comes along. And the churches that are brightly lit are really in the minority. I’m not sure why that is exactly…if it were up to me, all churches would have beautiful hardwood floors and big clear glass windows with light pouring into them! But since that isn’t the case, we have to learn to adapt to our location and shoot the wedding well regardless.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about shooting church weddings that I thought I’d pass on to you!


Make friends with the church ladies
When I arrive at the church, the first thing I do is check out what it looks like in the sanctuary. The next thing I do, is seek out the church lady (there’s usually someone working at the church who keeps things running smoothly) and try to make her my best friend. I ask again what the restrictions are for photographers, even though the bride and groom have already given me that information. Sometimes the info the bride and groom get is different for whatever reason. I personally want to be as respectful of the church and their rules as I can, so I want to make sure I know ahead of time exactly what’s okay and what isn’t. I usually shoot the processional from the front, but if for some reason my new church lady bff says that’s no bueno, I choose a seat towards the front (fourth row or so) on the aisle on the bride’s side so I can still get great aisle shots AND a good shot of the groom’s face as the bride approaches.

Shoot with prime lenses
Okay, I admit to being an unabashed prime lens lover. I have never used a zoom lens that I loved. They don’t suit the “look” I’m going for and I have never shot with a zoom that I liked the colors, sharpness, etc. So obviously shooting with primes is important to me and is a part of my entire day, not just the ceremony. But prime lenses are especially great for shooting ceremonies in churches because they are so dimly lit. Most zoom lenses only stop down to about 2.8. Shooting in a dark church means you need every bit of light you can get and 2.8 just doesn’t always cut it in a dark church. So primes are great for this reason! They are also less heavy depending on the lens, which means you can use them at slower shutter speeds than you can with a bulky zoom lens. My two favorite ceremony primes are the 50 1.2 and the 100L 2.8. The 100 L has image stabilization which is crucial! 


Find out in advance about any restrictions
The majority of the churches I’ve shot in have some sort of restrictions on how the photographers can photograph the event. Whether that’s they don’t want us to stand closer to the altar than a certain pew, or they want us to stay in the balcony, or we can’t use flash at all, or even that we cannot photograph at all during the actual ceremony (which has happened before) it’s best to know these things in advance so you can plan out how you’re going to capture things ahead of time. I have my bride and groom get this info and send it to me in their final details questionnaire. I think it’s important to have them collect this information in advance so they are also well aware of the restrictions and they understand how this will affect their photographs. If I’m restricted to the balcony, the bride and groom understand not to expect super close up shots from side angles, etc. Managing client expectations is key here, and you’re able to do that so much better if they know first hand what you’re allowed to do and what you aren’t.

Do your research (Google the Church)
Yep, that’s right. I don’t do site visits ahead of the wedding day since the way I photograph really depends on how the light is that day and light can change throughout the year based on many different things (whether it’s overcast, sunny, leaves on the trees, time of day, etc). Instead, I google the church to see other pictures of it or pictures of other weddings inside of it to get an idea of what it’s like. This is usually pretty helpful. I also use Google Maps to stalk the outside of the church if I know I need to photograph family formals afterward outside of it. With satellite and street views, I can get a sense of whether or not there’s good spots for photos.


Silent Shutter
I mostly use the silent shutter feature on my 5D Mark III at every ceremony, but especially in churches. Like I said before, being respectful is important to me, and it can be a little distracting to the worship service to hear CLANK CLANK CLANK from my camera’s shutter…especially in conjunction with John’s shooting!

Crank your ISO
I know that some photographers may be afraid to crank their ISO because they don’t want they images to be really noisy. But in my opinion, I’d rather there be a little bit of grain than not get a great well exposed image that’s in focus. Plus, you can use Lightroom to reduce the noise afterward while you’re editing! I suggest raising your ISO so that your shutter speed and aperture can remain reasonable enough so that there won’t be motion blur.

I hope these tips were helpful! If you enjoy these “For Photographers” posts and you’d like the opportunity to learn more from me, I’m hosting a workshop in March! More details here.


It’s hard to believe I’m sitting here blogging the last wedding of 2014! It feels like it was just yesterday I was cleaning up all of my gear for the first one, back in March. Katie and Bryan’s DC wedding was the perfect way to end the year. They are one of the most fun and endearing couples to be around, so I knew that shooting their wedding wasn’t going to feel like work at all. My favorite part of the day was their first look! Across the street from their venue was this amazing garden that totally did not feel like it belonged in Washington DC….it felt like it was something out of Tuscany! I could have photographed there all day. You’ll see what I mean :)

Enjoy a few favorites from Katie and Bryan’s Fall wedding day!

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I’m so thrilled to finally be able to share this shoot!! Hosting a workshop is truly a labor of love, and putting together the styled shoot was no different! I had in my head (and in my heart!) the idea for a shoot that truly reflected me and my style. There are so many opportunities to shoot amazing styled shoots or attend workshops, I wanted mine to be unique. I’m sure my vision was all over the place (I love everything…and a lot of things I love really don’t go together!) so I’m so happy Kat of Dear Sweetheart Events was able to pull all of my random ideas together and style a shoot that turned out to be something out of a dream! Kat is so gifted at what she does! I am so happy with how everything turned out, and I’m also honored that this shoot was featured on Ruffled yesterday! Holla! If you’re interested in being a part of our next workshop in March, registration goes live this FRIDAY, so stay tuned!!

Here are a few of my favorite images!

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Venue: Old Metropolitan Hall

Photographer: Katie Nesbitt Photography

Planner: Dear Sweetheart Events

Florist: Dear Sweetheart Events

Bridal Gown: Reflections Bridal

Rentals: Paisley and Jade

Stationery: Paper and Honey

Cake: Sorby Sweets

Hair: Isabel Duarte of Jewel Hair Design

Makeup: Heather Albrecht

Placemats: Lamchop Designs

Stamps: Verde Studio

Now that we’ve come to our third year in a row of Christmas tree farm sessions, I think it’s safe to say they’re a holiday tradition for us now! I love getting to see our old friends and meet some new ones at the Christmas tree farm every winter. It’s such a nice way to get the Christmas season started. Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s group!

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Black Friday shopping is a holiday season tradition for the Nesbitts! We love how festive and fun it is to get up super early (or stay up really late) and go out to shop with family while we’re visiting them. As fun as Black Friday can be, I also think it’s really important to support small businesses…especially since I own one myself, and I know that every dollar spent at a small business goes towards directly supporting the family that owns it. I appreciate all of our amazing clients who have supported us, which is why I like to say thank you by offering a Black Friday sale every year!

Last year we did an album sale, and we’re continuing that tradition this year! Custom designed 10 x 10 30 page linen albums will be offered for $750 (plus applicable VA sales tax)! This is a huge deal! These albums are normally $1500! Since we had an overwhelming number of orders last year, we’re limiting the sale to the first five couples who purchase their album. Past wedding clients and those whose weddings are in the future are both eligible, but the album must be paid for in full at the time of purchasing the deal. Email me at katie @ to place your order!

Here’s a look at one of my favorite linen albums from earlier this year!

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Interested in a LEATHER album, but still want to get the deal? Upgrade the linen album to leather for ONLY $100!!