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For Photographers: Outfit Inspiration

As I get prepare for my wedding season to start this weekend, one of the things I’ve been doing behind the scenes is reviewing my wedding attire and choosing a few new pieces to wear at this year’s weddings! I think that my attire is definitely an important piece of my branding…it’s how I present myself to my clients and their families…and any potential clients who may be watching how I work and paying attention to how I handle the day!

Photographers all wear different things to weddings based on their company’s values, their branding, and their comfort levels, but I personally choose to dress up for wedding days. I love to do this for two reasons:

  1. I feel that dressing nicely is professional and that it helps elevate my brand. Think about the difference in attire when you visit a lower end shop like Walmart (or even my beloved Target!)…the employees are most likely wearing a uniform that’s pretty casual and is only designed to be utilitarian and practical. Employees at higher end shops are usually wearing on trend, professional outfits that reflect the style and level of service they’re selling. I consider my business to be a high-end brand, so what I wear should reflect that!
  2. Dressing in similar attire to what wedding guests would wear helps us blend in more! We still command a presence as photographers when we have to, but when we are focusing on candids, people are more relaxed and at ease around us because we blend in and seem like we belong there;)

Here are a few pieces I’m currently eyeing for my collection this year!

A simple black jumpsuit like this one from Gap.

I love the idea of a simple jumpsuit for a wedding day! They’re lightweight and easy…two of my favorite adjectives when it comes to clothes!

This cute printed dress from JCrew Factory has pockets!

Pockets are the holy grail in cute shooting dresses…I can work with a dress without pockets, but when one has them, it’s heaven!

I love this shirtdress for a more casual wedding day!


For those weddings where there’s still a bit of chill in the air, I like the idea of a 3/4 length sleeve.

Bonus…that dress is only $29.99 and comes in several colors!

The cold shoulder trend is super popular right now…this dress is a great way to incorporate it into your wedding attire while still being modest and professional.

These are a few of the options I’ve found for cute, stylish dresses, but if you’ve got some other recommendations, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to drop your own suggestions in the comments!

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Panorama Farms Engagement Session

Ever since I first started emailing back and forth with Catherine about her wedding this Fall, I knew I was going to love her! And I was right…she’s just as sweet and bubbly in person as she is in her emails! I was so excited to finally meet her and Kevin for their engagement session this past weekend at Panorama Farms.

Panorama Farms is a favorite venue of mine in the Charlottesville area. The views are spectacular and I think it just looks so beautiful year round! It’s pretty hard to beat in terms of natural beauty! This session is a great example of that…things haven’t really started to bloom yet, but the wheat and the rest of the still dormant landscape make for some really warm, romantic photos. I can’t wait to photograph Catherine and Kevin’s wedding there in October to really compare the difference between how it looks in both seasons!

Enjoy a few of my favorites from their session at Panorama Farms 🙂

Engagement photos at Panorama Farms Barn in Charlottesville VABlack and white engagement photo at Panorama Farms Event Barn in Charlottesville VAFarm engagement photos in Charlottesville VirginiaEngaged couple wearing casual clothes at a Farm engagement sessionFarm and mountain engagement session photos in Charlottesville VirginiaCharlottesville Engagement Photos at Panorama FarmsFarm engagement session at Panorama FarmsBarn engagement photosFarm engagement sessionBarn engagement session Charlottesville Virginia

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A Styled Experience

I took the year off from hosting workshops last year because things were so hectic with everything else going on at the time. But I also knew that I had an idea lingering for another, slightly different format that I wanted to try at some point, and finally, we are launching that!!

I’m so pumped to share with you guys a new twist on our workshops that we’ve hosted in the past! Styled Experiences with Katie Nesbitt is a half day “mini-workshop” with a focus on an incredible stylized shoot with a unique theme, as always!

The Styled Experience is a half-day mini workshop that will start with a short presentation, include ample shooting time for each photographer in small groups at multiple stations, and will end with a fun happy hour!

The very first Styled Experience features something we are SO excited for and passionate about…a gay wedding!!

Here’s part of the inspiration for what we’re cooking up:

I’m so obsessed with this idea!! My friend Brandi of As You Wish (who dreamed up this shoot…one of my all time faves!!) is working with me to style it and I can tell you that she doesn’t let any detail go overlooked! I’m very passionate about this shoot because I’m a huge supporter of marriage equality…and I realized that there are lots of other photographers who are excited about this cause as well, yet they haven’t had the opportunity to shoot a gay or lesbian couple yet. This is the perfect opportunity to do so! All while getting to hang out with other old and new photographer friends! Can you say Sunday Funday??!?!

Now, you might be wondering if the traditional workshops are going to be gone forever…I don’t have any plans to discontinue my “normal” workshops, but I won’t be hosting another one of those until at the earliest, the Fall. This Styled Experience is going to be a great way to start your season!!

Due to the nature of the event, we’re keeping things pretty intimate and capping the number of tickets available. Early bird tickets are on sale until 3/23 at midnight, when regular tickets open up. You’ll also save $50 by signing up before then!

Can’t wait to see you there!

Click here to register! 

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Photos are amazing! So creative.

Sparkler Exit Alternatives

One of the really cool things about planning your own wedding is being able to personalize it however you’d like. This sometimes means taking existing trends and adapting them to make them your own! After shooting over 125 weddings I’ve seen tons of really neat ideas that couples have used to put their own stamp on their wedding day and today I wanted to share some ideas for turning the popular sparkler exit on it’s head!

Reasons you might consider an alternative to a sparkler exit:

  • Your venue doesn’t allow sparklers
  • Sparklers are actually illegal in your county (this is true…some counties consider sparklers to be fireworks and have laws against them)
  • You don’t want to stop the party or have a set end time to your reception
  • A lot of your guests probably won’t stay until the very end, when the sparklers happen
  • A lot of your guests may or may not be pretty inebriated by the end of the night
  • You love the look of photos taken with natural light
  • Your photography coverage doesn’t include enough time to fit a sparkler exit
  • Your wedding is ending earlier in the day

An epic ceremony recessional
I love it when our couples plan an epic ceremony recessional because it means that we get to take advantage of the beautiful available natural light! Photos from the ceremony recessional are some of my all time favorite images because there’s nothing like the joy you feel when you’ve finally just been pronounced a newly married couple and everyone you love is standing around you cheering! There’s just a really electric energy in the air! This is already such a great moment, but adding a little something (petals, birdseed, confetti, bubbles, ribbon wands, sprinkles, lavender, etc) is such an awesome way to add a little something extra to the photos and create an extra special memory.

A church exit
If you’re getting married at a church, there’s nothing more classic than the church exit. Think about all of the wedding movies you’ve seen…I’ll bet half of them feature a grand exit where the couple runs out of the church through their cheering guests! The pros to a church exit are similar to the pros of the ceremony recessional, however, if you are getting married at a church, you can still take advantage of the natural outdoor light by doing an exit right out of the church. (This works best when you plan to do portraits at another location since you can just leave immediately. If you don’t plan to leave immediately, we can always coordinate a place for you to sneak off too while guests depart after your “exit”)

A sparkler (or other) reception entrance
I have actually only seen this implemented once…at a wedding I helped my friend Jen photograph in North Carolina last year! It was such a genius idea that I thought it was worth sharing again…especially because it was so unique!! Right after portraits and cocktail hour ended, the coordinator and bridal party helped line up all the guests in a line outside of the entrance of the venue in a similar manner to the way they’d line up for an exit and the bride and groom entered into the reception through a crowd of excited guests! It was the PERFECT way to get the party started and meant that they could literally party all night long without interruption if they wanted to!

A parade
When John and I got married, our wedding venues were close enough together to not have to drive between the two. In fact, the parking situation really made it to where it would have been more trouble to get in the car, move, and re-park. Instead of a traditional ceremony exit, we had a parade instead! Our guests were given kazoos and ribbon wands and we led a parade to the reception venue! One of those photos became one of my all time favorites because it really captures the spirit of how much fun the entire day was!

Photo by Jodi & Kurt

Whatever type of exit (or entrance) you choose to do, here are a couple tips to help to make them go smoothly:

  1. Let your guests know what’s happening. Whether that’s a note in the programs, a sign that you set up somewhere, or an announcement that’s made, be sure that they know that there will be an exit outside of the church following the ceremony or that they should toss the petals or blow the bubbles right after you say I do! Often guests haven’t been to or planned a wedding in some time (or ever) so they don’t always know what’s expected of them without prompting.
  2. Designate someone to organize it. Whether or not you have a planner, you’ll need someone to be in charge of organizing the masses and handling the logistics of your exit! Especially if transportation is involved!

Whether you can’t have a sparkler exit because your venue doesn’t allow it or you’d just like to do something different to spice things up, these are some great alternatives. Happy wedding planning!!

Did you like this post? See more wedding planning topics here!

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For photographers: Truths about being “Established”

Think you've "made it" after a few years in business as a wedding photographer? The truth is, the hustle never ends!

One of the most sobering statistics out there about small businesses is the fact that many of them don’t last for five years. And even more of them won’t make it to the ten year mark! I’m inching closer and closer to the 6 year mark and I have realized a few truths about being a business owner that I thought I’d share today:

Business card in a pineapple

The hustle doesn’t stop
I think there is a common misconception out there that at some point you will have “made it” and at that point you can sit back and relax and enjoy the efforts of all your hard work. That would be NOT TRUE. I’ve realized that there won’t be a time when I don’t need to hustle for my business to grow and be successful. There won’t be a time when I’ve got everything figured out or have all of the answers. There will never be a day when I completely stop making mistakes.

You’ve got to learn to evolve
The truth is, times change, trends change. The industry changes and new photographers join it every single day. In order to stay relevant and continue to be successful, you’ve got to evolve. You’ve got to be adaptable! When I first started my business, Facebook was where many business connections were made. Instagram wasn’t really a thing then and it would become a few years before it was anything besides somewhere to post a terribly filtered edit of a photo of your dog. These days, Instagram is a thriving community that is SO important to be a part of if you’re a photographer or a creative business owner. If I refused to evolve and grow with the times, I’d have been left behind as Facebook made it’s algorithms so difficult for business owners to succeed. This is just one example of how the industry has changed in the last few years! I’ve learned that this industry is very fast moving and you have to evolve and adapt quickly to succeed.

Sometimes you have to pivot
The other day when we were moving our things out of the 1910’s home we were renting, John and my Dad reached a point where our box spring was completely stuck in the tight stairwell. It wouldn’t budge from beneath the lower ceiling at the bottom of the stairs, so they were forced to swing it this way and that way and shimmy it up and down in order to get it out. The entire time I watched them work on this, I kept hearing Ross from Friends yelling “PIVOT” in my head and while I tried my best not to yell it out myself in a misguided attempt to be funny (so not the right time for that) I realized that in business sometimes the pivot is the key. This is actually one of the things I love best about owning my own business! If something isn’t working out…a project isn’t coming together the way you wanted it to, or you need more income for a certain month? You can pivot to something else. There are all sorts of ways of doing this, you just have to be creative!

You have to run your business like a business…not a hobby
This is tricky for a lot of creative entrepreneurs because business can be somewhat like a foreign language to folks who are more right-brained. But one thing I’ve learned is that you must run your business with the mindset of a business person and not of that of a photographer. When I’m behind my camera or I’m editing, my photographer hat is on. When I’m working on other things, my business owner hat is on. Decide for yourself what’s right for your business as far as systems and don’t worry about what’s trendy or popular.

You have to define your own version of success
There’s no real one size fits all version of what all a successful business should entail. I think as long as your financials are solid, you’re in a good place business-wise. The other things are all things that you have to determine for yourself! Do you want to shoot 35 weddings a year? Do you want to shoot a lower volume and focus on accepting only those perfect clients? Do you want to educate others? Maybe you want to do something else with your business! Maybe you work 30 hours a week…maybe you work 50. It’s up to you to determine what your vision of success looks like. Do you, BOOBOO (Kevin Hart fans should get this joke!)

The main thing I have learned over the past few years is that hard work is worth it. I love what I do and the life that it allows me to live! So putting in hard work to make it happen is something I feel blessed to be able to do. Hard work is never going to go out of style or become obsolete because you’ll find that it always pays off.

Hope this post was helpful! If you’ve got other topics you’d like to see me write about in the future, leave a comment or shoot me an email!

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