3 Last Minute Things to Do Before Wedding Season Starts (AKA: Holy shi@—is it spring already?)
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.
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.
- Focus Speed – OMG. OMG. OMG!!! The speed at which Sigma Art locks in and nails focus is incredible. Freakin’ incredible. I don’t have all the stats like some videos and fancy reviewers do, but I can feel and tell there’s a huge difference. These lenses lock in on focus so fast that I feel like I’m actually on a learning curve figuring out how to deal with the ability to take photos faster than I’m used to. It’s kind of amazing. I owned the 50L for a long time and comparatively Sigma feels like a race car and I feel like I’ve been driving a beat up old mini van.
- Chromatic Aberration – Okay this is a big word. You might be reading this blog post and think that you have no idea what this is, but don’t feel embarrassed. I didn’t know what it was until well into my photography career – so you are not alone. Chromatic aberration is a lens distortion that can be corrected in an editing program like Lightroom or Photoshop. It causes there to be a halo of color (typically bright magenta for me) at points of deep contrast in photos. I’ve learned over the years that every photographer is sensitive to different things in photos. Some can’t stand vignetting, some can’t stand black and white photos, and me? I can’t stand chromatic aberration. That pink halo in my photos DRIVES ME NUTS. One thing people have found with the Sigma Art lenses is that there’s less chromatic aberration. That means one less major fix in post processing. I’m super happy about that.
- Sharpness – I found in a lot of videos and reviews that people were saying the Sigma Art lenses were sharper not only in the center, but sharper on the edges compared to their Canon counter parts. I can’t say I’ve pixel peeped enough to notice a huge difference, but they feel sharper in general.
I have, for the past year or so, been struggling. I’ve made it pretty known. I’ve written a few posts on this very blog about my struggles. I’m not struggling with booking, pricing or workflow. I’ve been struggling with being inspired, but mostly with STAYING inspired. I only write these types of posts so that anyone reading, whether you’re a brand new photographer, or season veteran, know that you are not alone.
Because of all of that, I have been pushing myself. I was bound and determined to GET PUBLISHED.
For some reason, I had it in my mind that I needed to be published to be worth something.
Even writing that it sounds nuts, but I know a lot of photographers put a ton of pressure on themselves to be published, whether print or blog. I’m not saying getting published is bad, so hear me out.
BEING PUBLISHED DOES NOT EQUAL YOUR WORTH.
I have tried getting published a few (more than a few…) times. And every. single. time. I’m told that they need to see more detail shots. You know; cake, shoes, dress, venue, centerpieces….yawn.
Don’t kill me or anything, but I just don’t see the merit in photographing those things for an hour. I know some photographers do, and I’m so glad that works for you. It’s not for me, because
I’m a photographer of people.
I’m a photographer of moments.
I am NOT a photographer of things.
I know there are more of you out there like me, which is why I’m sharing this with you. I always get what I need of the details. I know how hard my brides work on their wedding day details, so they are important for that reason. But, if I have 30 minutes to photograph the bride and groom AND the details? I’m going to spend 25 minutes with the bride and groom and 5 minutes on the details. The photos of the two of them, on one of the most important days of their lives, completely outweigh photos of the napkins and chairs.
I know some people (ahem, other photographers) say that being published gets you free advertising. Especially if you make it on a really well known blog. Somehow, unless you are VERY specific in your niche, I doubt you’re getting much out of that one blog post. I would rather provide my couples with really kick ass customer service so they tell their friends about me. Personal referrals are everything to me.
I’m not saying getting published is stupid, or that I’m bitter because I was rejected so many times. I know my clients are happy, and I’m happy…so that’s what matters. Just know, if you are struggling with the desire to be published, but are getting denied; don’t get discouraged! Take a step back and figure out WHY you want to be published, and if it’s actually worth it.
- More Print Sales – It doesn’t matter to me whether you do IPS (In Person Sales) or whether you sell online when your clients download their gallery. There’s always an opportunity to sell more prints. The sooner you can edit your photos the more excited your clients will be. I always want to hit my clients with their photos when they’re still in that euphoric week after their wedding. When they’re the happiest, relaxed and so much less stress. I love my clients, but I also know it’s the best time to end up making print sales too. If I chose to wait it out then my clients start emailing, calling and texting about their photos. They get impatient and are less likely to be excited and thus less likely to order through me.
- Happier Clients – If you’ve ever heard that saying ‘happy wife happy life’ I feel like this sometimes applies to clients too. A happy client is a happy business owner. The sooner you can get your clients their photos the happier they will be. Who doesn’t want their clients to be happy? I want mine to be as happy as humanly possible. Happy clients bring all kinds of advantages to there business owners.
- More Referrals – More referrals is a sign of a happy client. When I shortened my editing time a couple years ago one thing I noticed was how quickly my clients were to refer me, tag me on Facebook and let their friends and family know how soon they got their photos. That inevitably led to more bookings.
- Less Stress – Every photographer knows what it’s like to be suffocating under the weight of sessions upon weddings upon sessions to edit. It weighs down on you and it feels like it will NEVER end. If you can find and create ways to edit faster you get less stress. Less stress means you can take your life back. More time with family, with your kids, or spouse. More time for you.