Lisa Otto

Lisa is an incredible LGBT friendly wedding photographer based in the Tampa Bay area. Her couples are more of the fun, the bold and the bad ass! She wants her couples to have fun and not stress about their day. She has 4 kids, 2 of them being 4-legged and get more social media time then the two legged kids do. Here at PA she will be blogging about wedding and other photography tips!

Photographers…stop being a**holes

I published this on my blog but it’s worth saying it again, to all of you, in case you didn’t see the original post.

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PHOTOGRAPHERS

Photographers.  The person with a camera that will make or break your session/wedding/bank account.

But on the flipside of that coin, they are also a bunch of assholes.  There.  I said it.  Oh boy!  Here’s this little known wedding photographer from Tampa that is going to open her mouth.  Yep ?

And this is why.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched multiple photographers make Facebook statuses about how they’ve reached out to another photographers to book a session/wedding.  This is a photographer that is reaching out to another photographer because they love their work, they respect their work and they are willing to pay MONEY to be in front of their camera.  That should be one of the highest compliments that a photographer can get.  But you know what is happening?  These “rock star” photographers aren’t answering emails back.  WTactualF?!  Why?  Give me one good legit reason why you, a well respected photographer in the LARGE sea of photographers, shouldn’t email someone back?

There isn’t one.

Well maybe there is.  Maybe they have gotten to the point where they think they are above someone?  Maybe they have gotten to the point where they think they no longer need the work.  If the latter is the case, then don’t shoot anyone but in reality, I really don’t think that’s the reason.

Photographers (not all) get to this point where they think they are above everyone.  Any photographer that emails/messages them, wants their secrets, wants to know what makes them tick.  PUHlease!  Not everyone is out to steal your secrets, which come on, it’s not like secrets can’t be found out with a crapton of trial and error so what are you really hiding from people?  These photographers are usually known as the “rock stars”.  They skyrocketed to stardom and forget where they came from.  I used to want to be one of those rock stars.  Booking clients left and right, viral images all over the place, clients that don’t blink twice about pricing but you know what?  I refuse to be one of those photographers.  I love helping other photographers and I love the fact that other photographers contact me to shoot them.  I don’t care how “big” I ever made it, that is one of the coolest feelings in the world!

5-6 years ago when I started this whole journey, there were a handful of photographers that I was close with.  Some rose to the rock star level and some didn’t (raises hand).  Those photographers are now the ones that raise an eyebrow when they see others that aren’t in their clique’, not return emails when contacted to shoot and most of all, think they are above others.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a dog eat dog world in the photography world but we all need those that we can count on, that we can lean on, that will ask us to shoot them or vise versa.  Ranting to spouses/family about what is going on in the photographer world is pretty useless and almost always will get a bunch of head nods just so it seems like they are paying attention.  You need those friends that will understand exactly what you are going through.  Turning into an a**hole photographer is a surefire way to get you on that list of photographers people don’t want to talk to.  You get that reputation of being hard to reach, we aren’t lining your pockets with workshop money so you won’t give others the time of day.  STOP IT!!  You were once that photographer on the bottom of the monopod so just freakin’ stop it.  You are no better than anyone else with a camera in their hands.

We all started somewhere right?  I mean we all weren’t born with a silver camera in our hands or maybe some where but this photographer wasn’t.  If it wasn’t for the handful of photographers that I’m friends with, it would be a lonely world out there.  Don’t ever look down on someone because they do things differently with their clients or they shoot different than you do.  If we were all the same, it would be a very boring world.

So the next time you get an email from another photographer, don’t assume that they want all your secrets.  They want to connect.  They want to give you money for a session/wedding so don’t ignore them.  If you don’t want to give out information, be nice about it.  While it sucks to reach out to a photographer and get shot down, getting a response back is even better.

How Not to Follow the Photography Masses

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned photographer, watching social media and not getting jealous of other photographers is hard.  I’ve done it.  I’ve been there but they are them and you are you.  Remember that through this entire post!

PHOTOGRAPHYAWESOMESAUCE.COM

When I first started out, I’d see all these gorgeous images flowing through my newsfeed, all these photographers with 5000,10,000+ fans on their Facebook pages and them posting that they were booking left and right.  I was jealous, not gonna lie.  I was jealous of someone I didn’t know, jealous of someone that I only “virtually knew” and jealous of someone that wouldn’t recognize me if I ran into them at Target but I would sure as hell know who they were.

You know what?  It didn’t matter.  It didn’t matter at all.  I was all caught up in wanting to be the next best thing that I was losing focus on MY business, on making my brand kick ass, on making my business about me.  It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t going to be the next rock star and you know what?  I am totally okay with that, TOTALLY!  I’ve met some of the rocks stars and they aren’t all that “rock starish”.  I’ve made some of the best photography friends with like minded people and not trying to be the next best thing.

My clients love me for the crazy things I do, they love me for laying all over the ground to get a shot, for stealing candy from the candy bar, for meeting at the bar for their consults, the list goes on.  My clients don’t hire me for having 20k+ likes on my business page, they hire me for my work and my personality.  My personality.

You are your business.  You are the face that the client sees and the one that they interact with the most.  Be you.  Laugh, joke, hell even cry, I have but most of all…BE YOU! 

Volunteering your Photography

If there’s one thing I love, it’s dogs.  Funny thing is, it’s mainly bullie breeds (pitbulls, rotties, etc) but that’s a personal thing and it’s really because they get so overlooked and have a seriously bad stigma attached to them.  But that’s not what this is about.  It’s about using your skills.  It’s about getting out into the community (people or animals) and helping out.

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4+ years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would come to an adoption event to take some photos of adoptables.  Of course I said yes, so we headed down, got some great pictures, I brought home a dog and that’s all she wrote.

I’m a firm believer that photos of sad dogs behind cage bars, is no sure fire way to get a dog adopted.  They’re sad, confused, scared among other things and in all honesty, not a flattering photo.  Getting these animals out of the shelter and into a neutral environment helps their personalities shine a little more.  This is where you can sit back and capture they’re goofy personality that’s going to get them adopted!

So where do you start?

With me it was a little easy since I was asked to do it but there are tons of rescues and shelters that need help.  Start sending messages on Facebook offering your services.  DO NOT CHARGE them for these!!  Seriously.  All rescues are non-profit and make no money so charging them is just plain stupid.  Same goes for the shelters.  Most shelters have a volunteer program that you will have to go through in order to start shooting for them but each one is different so you’ll need to contact them to see what their rules and regulations are.

Now remember something, just because you go to a rescue’s Facebook or website and see that another photographer has taken photos, don’t just assume that they won’t want your services.  Most of the time, their fosters are all over the place so having more than one photographer can be a benefit for them.  Scheduling, etc, things like that can make it difficult for one photographer to take photos of 20+ dogs so don’t assume.

I love working with the rescues more because they are usually foster based rescues, so they will take any help they can get.  The more great pictures they get, the more they can get adopted and the more they can save.  Just remember that volunteering isn’t going to bring business busting down your door, or it could but don’t bet on it.  You should do this because you want to, not because you think it’s going to zoom you to the top of the photography food chain.

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How to Edit a Wedding in Less Than 10 Days

Edit a wedding

 

Yeah.  You read that right but before I continue, let me say that this isn’t going to be for everyone and I understand that.  The one thing that I pride myself on is my turnaround time for my couples.  I’m seriously impatient so I’m just going to assume that everyone else is too.  I am also a single mom, I do customer service for Pixifi (what seems like 24/7), I have a life and I take vacations and go out.  So with all that said, if I can do it, then you can too.

Wedding season is upon us (yay!) and here we are with weddings back to back to back, along with other sessions in between.  There are days where we feel like we are drowning in edits and as days go on, all I’m hearing is “it’s taking me 4-5-6-7+ weeks to deliver weddings.  WHAT?!?!  I mean I get it, I’m busy too (as I write this, I should be taking a shower getting ready for a hockey game) but there is really no reason that you can’t bust out a wedding in less than 2 weeks.

Well oh wiseass one, how do you do it?  Oh well thank you for asking because I’m about to tell you.  Go figure, right?  I’m simply going to break it down day by day.  Unfortunately I just started editing a wedding yesterday or I would love to have exact times for you.  The first couple of parts I do so you can kind of guesstimate to the best of your knowledge the rest of them.

Day after the wedding (or night of depending on what time you get home)
(Note:  Saturday’s wedding was 6 hours, just me shooting and I had 997 finals.  Took me 1 hour to cull/sort)
Upload to Lightroom
Cull through wedding.  As I’m culling, I’m rating and color coding them.  5 stars are ready and out the door, color codes are the time of day (prep, details, ceremony, etc).  Once these are done, I export to individual folders per the time of day so each one is in it’s own folder.  Word to the wise, do this.  When I upload them to Pixieset to deliver, they all go in different folders to.  This makes it so much easier for your client to find a particular photo.

Day 2 – Cull for blog post
Culling for blog took me 15 minutes
– This is where I will go through each individual folder and pull for the blog post and put them in a separate folder.

Editing for blog post was 1 hour 20 minutes
– Once I’ve done that, I will start to edit those.  Saturday’s wedding ended up with 86 photos (it was family so there was A LOT included).  I normally don’t put that many photos in a blog post but it is what it is.

Day 3 – Post blog
This will usually take me about an hour.  I know some swear by BlogStomp but I didn’t like it so if you use it and love it, this will take you less time.

I’m going to stop right there for a minute.  Do you see how each day is only about an hour, maybe 2?  This is where other editing comes in, letting the dogs outside because they heard someone walking down there street and procrastinating.

Day 4
On the forth day….1-2 hours depending on how many finals
Start picking a folder.  I usually start with prep and work my way through the day.  Sharing on Facebook/Instagram as I go through them.

Day 5 – Next….
On to the next folder.  I may have already gotten 2 parts of the day editing depending on what I picked so this also many turn into a skip day.

Day 6 – Definite skip day
Usually on this day, I’m shooting another wedding so I’m not touching last weeks wedding at all.

Day 7
Working on starting the process all over again because I had a wedding on day 6

Day 8 – Finish up another folder
At this point I’m probably at formals.  Family formals I don’t touch because I’ve already edited them in Lightroom.  I’m more focused on the bridals because if anything is getting printed and blown up, it’s going to be those.  Editing time is about 2-2 1/2 hours depending.

Day 8
Finalize reception.  I spend maybe 30 minutes on these.  I’ve editing most in Lightroom so I might pull them into Photoshop if there’s a first dance shot that I didn’t convert to b/w in Lightroom or there is something that I need to edit out.

This is where I will take the ones that I edited for the blog post and put them back in the main folder.  I have a separate folder that are already watermarked that were uploaded to the blog and then will eventually go on Facebook…when I get around to it.

Day 9
Send them to the client and you’re done!

So going back, let’s add this up.  With a quick estimation, I have about 10 hours into a wedding in 9 days.  How is that 6-8+ weeks?  Do not get me wrong.  I get that other people’s way of doing things is different.  This is what works for me and this is what my clients love and tell others.  I shoot 30-40 weddings a year so obviously this is going to depend on how many you shoot.  I will not shoot any more than that.  I’m not a photographer that will jam pack my calendar just to say I’m shooting a wedding every weekend.  I know my limits and have no problem saying no.

You need to do what works for you.  You need to get in that groove and don’t get out of it.  I’m a huge procrastinator so if I don’t edit this way, I’m sitting on a session/wedding for what seems like forever and I don’t like that.  I don’t like making my clients wait so I don’t.  Understand that it’s okay to have in your contract that you take up to 8 weeks, I have in mine that it will take at least 4 weeks but remember under promise and over deliver.

10 Tips for Setting Up Your Pixifi Account

Being on the backend of Pixifi, I see reasons why people cancel, why they won’t move forward with Pixifi or any studio management account.  The biggest reason is that they want to be able to log in, send a contract, collect money and be done with it.  They don’t want to invest the time into setting their account up and making it work for them.  After all, you get out of it what you put into it.  Kind of like your business, huh?

 

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Here are 10 tips for helping you get the most out of your Pixifi account when you are setting it up.

  1.  Take your time.  That is the first and most important one.  Even though Pixifi has tons of wizards (contract templates, email templates, questionnaire templates, etc) you need to make sure they are worded for your business.
  2. Email templates.  That takes us right into these.  Pixifi has tons of email templates that you can use that will have most of the information in them so you’re sort of, ready to go.  Go through these.  Edit them to make them yours and sound like you.  Don’t add templates if you are never going to use them.  All it’s going to do is clutter up your Pixifi and make you frustrated when you’re going through them.
  3. Contract templates.  There are a few contract templates in there but go through it, make sure that if you are going to use that template if fits your business model.  If you aren’t going to use the templates provided, add your contract template.  Pixifi does not allow you to upload your PDF or Word doc so you will need to copy/paste your contract in the template area and add the variables that Pixifi uses to generate the contract.
  4. Setting up client categories and event types.  Pixifi allows you to set up client categories and event types.  This makes is so much easier when you’re trying to filter through clients and/or events and you can export client categories to a 3rd party emailer (Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, etc) and send out newsletters.
  5. Setting up your workflow.  My workflows keep me on task like nobody’s business.  Sending follow up emails to leads, where I am with sessions, sending booking gifts, scheduling review emails and more.
  6. Setting up your own questionnaires.  Whether you’re using the templates that Pixifi provides or adding your own, you want to make sure that you have the templates there and ready to send out when the time comes.  This way you aren’t scrambling a week, two weeks before a session trying to get a questionnaire template ready to go out.
  7. Your inquiry form.  Using the Pixifi inquiry form saves a ton of time so when a client emails you, it goes straight into Pixifi.  You can set up automatic workflows when leads come in and auto responders.  Adding custom fields to the contact form also allows you to capture more information from the lead instead of having to go back and forth asking questions.
  8. Your invoicing options and merchant.  You want to get paid, right?  Then you need to make sure that you have your merchant account set up, along with payment/invoicing terms.  Most merchants will integrate with Pixifi but if they don’t, you will manually have to mark payments as paid.  Using Stripe, Paypal, Authorize.net just to name a few, will integrate seamlessly and you don’t have to worry about anything.
  9. Setting up event and invoice reminders.  One of the things I use most are these two.  I use event reminders not only to remind clients of their upcoming session but I also use them for tips for their session, what to wear, schedule review emails and more.  The invoice reminders well, it sends automatically so you get paid.  We all want to get paid, right?
  10. Learn it.  There I said it and I’ll say it again.  Learn it.  Ask questions, create yourself as a client to go through things so you can see what the client sees.  Nine times out of ten errors are user errors and people are quick to say something isn’t working.  It’s usually because they didn’t set things up, overlooked something or just plain user error.

Once you sign up, Pixifi has an amazing Facebook group that you can join (you get the link in your welcome email) so join!  Use it to your advantage.  Pixifi has so many amazing features and more being added weekly/monthly, that there isn’t one blog post that can cover everything.  If you need help setting up your account, you can always contact me.

Now go…get yourself organized and stop using post-it notes!!