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31 Days to Better Wedding Photography

As photographers I’m sure most of you reading this have gone through a time when you’ve rebranded your business, relaunched and challenged yourself to take it to the next level. If you’ve been with me since the beginning of Photography Awesomesauce then you know all the different things I’ve tried, challenges I’ve given myself and you’ve seen my successes and failures first hand. I’m proud of all of them (the good parts and the bad parts) because they’ve helped shape where I am today and where I’m going in the future.

That said you can probably anticipate that it’s about time we give Photography Awesomesauce a new facelift, and a bigger, better purpose. So with that in mind we’ll be shutting down blogging completely during December to make some time to really revamp the website and prepare some awesome new things for you guys. December is also notoriously slow for blogging anyway if I’m completely honest with you. Traffic deters and people pay attention to their families. What time they do spend on their business tends to be in the mindset of goals for the new year and big changes they are making in their own business. So it leaves little time for new ideas when you’re taking all the new ideas you’ve had all year and are finally implementing them.

So that brings me to our own little revamp. While blogging may cease as we revamp the website we still have some important work to do. I’m going to be doing a 31 Days to Better Wedding Photography online event. Starting December 1st you can log into the Periscope app and learn a little bit about wedding photography every single day in December. Some days we might discuss lighting, other days we might discuss contracts. We’ll talk about marketing, posing and everything in between. I know so many of you are getting ready to dive in and start your first wedding season or are eager to learn more and up your game. I don’t think I have all the answers, or that how I run my own wedding photography business is perfect for everyone, but I’m happy to share the things I do know and let you decide if they’ll help you or not. There are a few things you need to do to participate so I’ll outline them below. Don’t forget a step or you might miss out!

  1. Download Periscope on your phone and follow me! Periscope is essentially a live video app that really helps other entrepreneurs learn from each other. While you can watch live broadcasts from your internet browser, you are limited to only watching and can’t ask questions or participate. That’s why you need to download the app. It’s free. Don’t worry about being live yourself, you’re just watching me live and can sit at home in the comfort of yesterday’s makeup, bedhead and no pants while you learn. Periscope saves live broadcasts for a limited time, so if you don’t catch a certain day’s as long as you log in soon after you won’t miss a beat!
  2. Follow me on Periscope. When you first download the app there will be lots of buttons to play with. Just head to the magnifying glass on the top left for the search function. Select ‘people’ and type in “carrieswails.” Once you find me select “follow.” From there the app will ask you to enable notifications. Feel free to not get the notifications, but if you want a little reminder sent to your phone everyday to remind you to log in and watch the free broadcast, then make sure you have notifications enabled. For a quick reference on how to download Periscope and just so you know what my profile looks like, below is a link to my profile as accessed from a desktop, just remember you can’t participate in a broadcast, just watch it (and PS I love answering questions live). >Carrie Swails Periscope<
  3. Follow Photography Awesomesauce on Instagram. I’ll be posting reminders and clips there as well to make sure you go log in!
  4. Sign up for the 31 Days to Better Wedding Photography emails. These emails will have links, resources and reminders all related to our daily content. The email list is the basis of everything, so if you don’t want to follow along in other places, at the very least make sure you’re getting the emails! There may also be some fun giveaways and interesting things from our sponsors via email!

Even if you’re not a wedding photographer there are probably lots of behind the scenes business tips and photography or lighting tips you can learn by tuning in! So share with your friends and lets spend December getting our knowledge on! I can’t wait to see everyone there!

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10 Things Photographers Look for in Second Shooters

I’d like to say I have some experience with second shooters. Unfortunately not all of it is good. I can’t point the finger at my seconds though, a lot of that blame lies with me for not knowing better. They say you can get knowledge from reading a book, but wisdom only comes with time. I’m about to pass on some serious wisdom to you. This is the stuff I’ve learned from the successes and failures I’ve had as a main photographer, a second shooter myself, and essentially as a boss.

  1. Gear – A main photographer may want to know exactly what gear you’re shooting with. It’s not a slight on you if you don’t have the best camera body in the world, but a lot of us are curious about lenses so we know your lens choices might compliment the ones we’ve got. Some photographers, but not all, also want to know the brand of your camera and feel it may mesh better with their brand if everything is the same. Be prepared to share a detailed list of your camera bodies and lenses before getting hired. It’s also important that you take care of your gear. It should all be in working condition. If it needs to be repaired or cleaned, that’s on you as the independent contractor to take care of. Don’t come to work at a wedding (a once in a lifetime event) with gear that is limited by its malfunctions.
  2. Experience – There’s this ironic thing in the wedding industry. Main photographers want second shooters who are experienced to work with them, that way they can trust them to split up and take photos as needed without intervention. At the same time as an industry we tell people they shouldn’t shoot weddings until they’ve gained a lot of experience as a second shooter. It’s kind of an awkward thing. The truth is, most of us want an experienced photographer by our side. We can trust them to shoot parts of the day we can’t supervise and we know it’ll mesh with our style effortlessly. The more experienced a second shooter is, the easier the day can be. Experience does matter. If you’re looking to gain wedding experience and you feel like you’re getting rejected a lot, it might be because the photographer is looking for someone with even more experience. Then it’s good to offer to assist for free, or ask if maybe they’re looking for a third shooter. When you start looking for your own second shooters you’ll want to find someone whose experience mirrors your own. If you fell down and broke your leg at a wedding (knock on wood), you shouldn’t have to worry when your second takes over and runs the day.
  3. Style – A great second shooter has a style that matches your own so your images blend together well in the final gallery for the client. Working with a second shooter who shoots with similar lenses and similar settings is a start to finding a style match. Make sure you check out the work of the second shooters you’re considering before hiring and see if your style is a match. If you’re looking for second shooting gigs, it’s good to check out the photographer’s style before you work for them and make sure you understand what they may be looking for and what you’re capable of creating for them. It can be a mistake to go in blind and really have no idea what the photographer’s work is like when you work for them.
  4. Professionalism – This one is a big one, or as some say…”it’s bigly.” How you dress and present yourselves to your main photographer’s clients is a really big deal. Friending their clients on Facebook, texting all day, and handing out your own business cards must be avoided. Remember these aren’t your clients, they’re the main photographer’s clients. When you’re shooting a wedding as a second shooter you are a direct representation of their business in all your interactions.
  5. Contracts – Different photographers might require different things in a second shooter agreement. Some may let you use the photos, some may not. Every photographer is different.
  6. No Second Guessing – It can be easy to go into a situation and expect one thing and end up with something else. If you haven’t really chatted to your main photographer or researched their style you may not really know what your in for. Some photographers work with a specific niche of clients or do things a certain way. Remember that the main photographer knows their business best. The clients booked them for their work. So don’t second guess their every move during the day and ask why all the time. Those questions are better saved for later. In the midst of a wedding there isn’t really time to get in detail about why someone has a specific workflow.
  7. Different Angles – A lot of wedding clients will say they want different angles of their day. I can’t speak for all photographers, but I know that having a second get a different angle is important, but not as important as capturing the other things around us that are happening. If the main photographer is photographing the groomsmen getting ready, then the second photographer is photographing the bridesmaids. Sometimes it’s better to be in a different place instead of offering the same angle of something the main photographer is shooting. If you’re not sure what the main photographer wants, just ask!
  8. Initiative – Second shooters that take initiative by asking questions and getting things done is awesome. I think this is a skill anyone would want in an employee or contractor. Weddings are busy and often times you don’t get the time to explain what would be best and where to go during the day, so having a second shooter that can anticipate where the best place to be is, or what they could be doing to make things even more awesome is great. Don’t sit back and wait for instruction, take initiative and get things done. If there’s one skill that will really impress me (and maybe others), this is it.
  9. Positive Attitude – Being a wedding photographer is an intriguing mix of being both an artist and a business owner. There are lots of times we put the needs of our business first and our art second. For me, personally, it’s important to have a second shooter with a positive attitude. Weddings are stressful and nothing gets me in a bad mood more than a second shooter who is complaining about my clients all day long. Sometimes clients drive us nuts or things get stressful, but it’s better to vent about that stress after the wedding. Venting about it throughout the day puts me in a negative mood and I try to keep those negative things at bay so I can create the best art possible.
  10. Memory Card Options – This is a little detail, but every photographer wants to get their second shooter’s files differently. Some have you shoot on their cards, with no access to your files later. Some have you shoot dual card slots with one of their cards and one of your own. Some have you shoot with your own cards and transfer the files later via Dropbox or another file sharing service. They might transfer the files over at the end of the night before you leave too. Be prepared for a variety of options since each photographer may have a vastly different workflow.

Want More?

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The Key to Lasting Relationships with High School Senior Clients

the key to lasting relationships with high school senior clients

 

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.” ― Winnie-the-Pooh

Building a lifelong relationship with teens start long before they step in front of your camera for their senior portrait session. Remember when I mentioned being involved in their sporting events and extracurricular activities? Here’s how to tie being authentic and involved into building a senior experience that lasts way after their ordering session.

Every one of my senior session sessions includes one key question. How can I make their session FUN? Yes, fun!

  1. Fashion forward
  2. Unforgettable (saying words of affirmation)

And N– never ending. I want to be their wedding, maternity, and portrait photographer for life.

So how do I do it:

Fashion forward: I make sure every client looks their best in outfits and styles that make them happy! I love building Pinterest boards to follow the latest trends in teen and senior fashion!

Unforgettable- Who doesn’t love to be appreciated and hear words of affirmation? One key ingredient is building their self-esteem. To do so, I incorporate both into my session. I always provide a little goody as a thank you for choosing my business and always reaffirm how beautiful and talented they are throughout their session.

Never-ending- I don’t stop photographing them after their ordering session! Prom – check I’ll be there, Graduation I’ll be there too, Graduation party, and their going away party. I become an intricate part of their life story and become a part of the family.

My goal is not just to be their photographer but their mentor and life-long photographer from high school graduation, college graduation, their marriage proposal, until the birth of their first child and beyond that to their ongoing family portraits. Maybe even until their children are seniors in high school.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

-Francis of Assisi

Want More?

Come join Carrie on InstagramPinterest, or in the Facebook group! Or you can subscribe to get awesome info sent straight to your email every week!

3 Ways to Be Prepared for Anything on a Wedding Day

 

Wedding days tend to be a marathon and as photographers who are there the majority of the time it’s important to be as prepared as possible for any emergency. A missing button or a bridesmaid with a headache doesn’t seem like it should be our problem, however it could mean missing an extra 20 minutes of bride and groom portraits if the timeline veers off course. Here are three ways I make sure I am prepared for anything on a wedding day.

My Wedding Day Emergency Kit – to each wedding I shoot, I bring my emergency kit with me to the getting ready room. This box has grown considerably over the last few years because of the different situations I’ve encountered. It’s usually used at least once, and has saved the day on more than one occasion. Some of the things currently in my kit include: sewing kits, first aid supplies, individually wrapped pain reliever pills (tylenol and ibuprofen, allergy medicine, stomach medicine, a crochet hook (for stubborn dresses), moleskin for blisters, wrinkle release spray, lady products, clear nail polish, batteries, water and granola bars, phone chargers, etc.  I recently upgraded to a larger box I found at Target and it’s been invaluable this wedding season!

Hangers  – I bring a box of 25 nice suit hangers (whoo Target!) and keep it in my trunk for every wedding. These are great for the entire bridal party, or just the brides dress if she doesn’t have a cute hanger. Usually I will throw one in my bag for the Bride. I tend to forget them in the hotel room, hence the giant box.  These have been great for detail shots, no more ugly plastic hangers – whoo!

Rain Supplies – I live in Wisconsin so rain happens a lot here! For each wedding I bring 16 black umbrellas (I got mine from Ikea for $2 each and just pick some up each time I go), and one fun clear umbrella for the bride and groom. For easy storage, I keep mine in a light stand bag so my assistant and grab and go if needed. I also keep two sets of clear shower curtain liners (about $3 each) in case of rain or mud to put under the bride’s dress so it doesn’t get dirty!

While it’s not technically part of the job description, it’s so important to be prepared on wedding days, especially if your client didn’t hire a planner! Not only do you save the day (and the timeline!), you also show your clients how much you care about them.

Want More?

Come join Carrie on InstagramPinterest, or in the Facebook group! Or you can subscribe to get awesome info sent straight to your email every week!

How To Get Out of A Creative Slump

Good seasons come and good seasons go.

Bad seasons come and bad seasons go.

Seasons of loving what you shoot and produce come…and then they go.

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And when they go, things kinda suck. In those seasons, I feel down, discouraged, and sucked of my joy. When my passion and creativity lack, photography just isn’t the same. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been falling under the “not completely loving what I’m shooting” season. I don’t know what it is but I am not loving my work right now. My clients are happy and I’m giving 100% but when I’m finalizing galleries it just doesn’t feel the same. I’ve been in the place before and I’m here to share my tips of how to get out of a creative slump…at least the ways that have dug me out of my dark hole before. 🙂

  1. Stop comparing. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET. Strangers, your family, or friends…I don’t care. I think we all need to take a step back sometimes and realize that comparison is the thief of joy and you cannot fully engage your creative side when you are stuck in comparison.
  2. Get off social media. I love social media and am usually pro it. But man, it really does wear on me. The way we continue to put out content and absorb it is scary and sometimes I just need a break from it all. I don’t need to get sucked into the scrolling or videos or whatever. Constantly consuming other peoples’ lives is exhausting and sometimes it’s best to get away.
  3. Take a break. If you can afford it, take a break from shooting. Take a step back, breathe, and think about why you started shooting in the first place. Maybe think about the ways shooting makes you feel and what you want do differently. And if you can take a hiatus, use that time to brainstorm ideas you want to do.
  4. Get connected with other photographers. SHARE YOUR STRUGGLE. I know its hard to be vulnerable but dang it, we need each other. We need to be real because the stress of being a photographer can be really hard. So get connected with people who get it and get real. We all need to be lifted up and encouraged sometimes.
  5. Go back and look at shoots that inspired you. What did you love about that? How can you make more shoots like that happen in the future? Keep your inspiration going and set yourself up for shoots that make you walk away feeling like a boss.

We all deserve to live a happy life and create the best work we can. Make time for yourself and your art and never let anyone tell you to stop creating. Because art and artist make the world a better place. So enjoy whatever season of life you may be in and KEEP CREATING.

 

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