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How to Handle Stolen Images Gracefully

A few weeks ago I returned home from shooting a wedding. It had been a particularly draining day, it was late, I was tired, and all I wanted was my bed.

Until I looked on the fridge and saw a newspaper clipping with my photo in it. A photo that I didn’t give permission to use or even release to a vendor. And suddenly my exhaustion turned to aggravation and instead of my bed, I wanted a carton of eggs and some toilet paper. #sweetrevenge

To make a long story short, a vendor from a wedding took an image off my Facebook business page. Without permission. Then submitted that image to be featured in an article by the city newspaper. And I was upset, furious, and really frustrated because I believe in sharing images with vendors. I’m happy to share images because I know that it takes a community to make a wedding happen. The food, flowers, lighting, music, etc. are a part of the day and as the one who captures the day and those details, I’m happy to share.

Sharing is caring and stealing is not cool. I took a few days to cool down from this because I didn’t want to react out of anger. I find it valuable as a business owner and as a human being to have guidelines to help me deal with conflict. These are the points that I always come down to:

  1. How would I want to be treated in this situation?
  2. Is this a valuable relationship?

Yes they did something wrong. Yes I was upset. But ultimately I want to have a good vendor relationship with this company because they produce good work and I know I will work with them at future weddings.  At the end of the day, I didn’t want to bury this company with bad reviews or demand a stack of cash. I want the wedding industry to be a good community and I think that starts with maintaining good relationships among vendors and coming from places of respect and value.

I wrote an email to the vendor in a polite (but stern) way. Within 45 minutes, I received an email from three different people in the company, including the owner. They were apologetic, got to the bottom of it, and made sure that this would not happen again…to me or any other photographers.

No matter how badly people may treat you, the way you react to situations is a reflection of your business and ultimately, you. It’s important to stand up for yourself and your business and communicate with people in the industry if there are issues. I encourage each of you to stand up for yourself and each other to make the wedding and photography industry a better place.


How to Book Your First Second Shooting Job


In my previous posts this month, I’ve gone over How to Be an Awesome Second Shooter and How to Hire Your First Second Shooter. Today I want to talk about something I’ve seen come up over and over again on forums and photography Facebook groups… “Any advice on becoming a second shooter?” or “I really want to get into weddings, what do I need to second shoot?” Being a second shooter can be intimidating, especially that first time. I hope I can shed some light on what primary shooters are looking for and ways you can find local shooting jobs.

I’ll be totally honest, I started backwards. I shot a wedding for a family member and things sort of spiraled from there. Due to my husbands work schedule and the age of our kiddos, I only took on a very limited number of weddings each year and mostly focused on families. In my heart, I knew what I wanted to do weddings full time, I just didn’t have the ability to put my heart into it 100% with a husband who was out of town 4-6 weeks at a time. When we had the chance to move to a new state with “normal” working hours, I was over the moon to get started. However, with no friends or family to even start to get referrals from I knew the only way to build my business was with second shooting. That first season I second shot 25 weddings. Last year, I shot 40 including my own.

For me, second shooting has been essential in building my business. Even though I am booked solid this year, I still second shoot nearly every weekend because I love it so much. Not only that, it ensures my work stays on point and I deal with literally every weird situation you can think of. That first wedding I second shot I completely forgot how to change the time in my camera because I was so nervous, so if nerves are holding you back – I feel you.

So, you’re ready to second shoot…or are you? Here are a few things that primary shooters are looking for in a good second shooter.

Portfolio – There doesn’t even need to be a wedding in there! When my normal second shooters are not available and I put out a call for a new second, there are a few things I’m specifically looking for; proper white balance, focus and style. A second shooter needs to be able to step in if I accidentally fall in a fountain and break my arm, so knowing your skills are solid is essential.

Website– This goes hand and hand with portfolio but I think it’s worth it’s own spot. Most pros are looking for other pros to work with as their second, so a good, professional website will set you apart. If you are just linking your Facebook page and wondering why primary shooters aren’t emailing you, this could be why.

Gear – This may be a chicken and egg situation, but if you are going to be shooting weddings you need gear. Now, you don’t need ALL the gear, but at a minimum you need a good camera (preferably dual slots for back up), and 2 lenses and a flash (that you know how to use). Hopefully this does not come off as harsh, but as fun as weddings can be they are still a very important day in someones life and shouldn’t be used as a way to learn your gear (though you will be learning how to handle the overall day and changing lighting situations).

Now, where to find these jobs? There are a few national groups and websites, but the place you are going to find the most postings for second shooting jobs is in local photography groups on Facebook. These are groups for pros (not just anyone with a camera) and are city and region specific. Search for “San Diego Wedding Photographers” in Facebook and see what comes up! Most are closed but still searchable. If your group has meet ups, go to them. Meet people and network. If someone knows you they are much more likely to hire you over a stranger. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask! Offer to shoot for free as a third shooter or non shooting assistant to build experience.

The hardest part of becoming a second shooter is putting your name out there! Look for a local group, make sure your portfolio is ready and welcome to the wonderful world of weddings!






Four Tips for Hiring Your First Second Shooter

leader-Hiring a second shooter you haven’t worked with before can be anxiety inducing. What if they don’t show up? What if they shoot at f/16 the entire day? Whether you are new to shooting your own weddings, or need to hire a new second shooter because your regular person isn’t available there are a few things you should always remember. Here are four tips for hiring your very first second shooter.

  1. Always Have a Contract – This should be a no brainer, a contract protects both of you. It should be clear and precise and include payment terms, how images can or cannot be shared and how you expect files delivered. 
  2. Meet Them Before the Shoot – If at all possible, meet with them in person before the wedding. Go over all the details for the day. Ask them questions, become friends. It’s so much easier to break the ice beforehand than during the craziness that is a wedding. 
  3. Pay Them Promptly – Imagine working 10 hours for someone, and then at the end of the night they tell you oh well I forgot my checkbook. Not cool right? Make sure paying your second is part of your pre wedding prep. Unless you’ve worked it out beforehand of course, make sure you have their payment ready to go before they leave. 
  4. Be Clear- Giving clear and precise directions to your second shooter is vital to getting the images you’ve imagined from them. Tell them your shooting style, which lenses you use and the apertures you regularly shoot at. Overshare. Your second shooter can’t read your mind, so letting them know your expectations beforehand will reduce confusion later on.

Working with a good second shooter can be immeasurable for your business.  Finding solid seconds doesn’t have to be scary! As long as you have a good business plan in place and give clear directions it’s the start of a wonderful relationship!

7 Mistakes Photographers Make When Buying a New Lens

PHOTOGRAPHYAWESOMESAUCE.COM-2Raise your hand (in the comfort of your own home where nobody knows) if you’ve seen those Facebook posts that say the following.

“Share photos taken with the 85mm 1.4 please. Thanks!”

Or maybe they say this.

“Looking to buy a new lens. What should I get? What is your favorite?”

Or maybe it’s this.

“I have an 18-55mm lens and am looking to upgrade. What’s best?”

Maybe it’s just me, but these questions are tough to answer. I’ve been around the block when it comes to lens purchasing. I’ve made so many mistakes when I’ve based my purchases off questions I ask or see in Facebook groups or elsewhere online. I’ve never bothered to count how many dollars I’ve lost when I purchased a lens and then found out it wasn’t the lens for me and had to sell it for less than I purchased.

What I didn’t realize is that lenses are truly an investment. The technology doesn’t age as fast as that of your DSLR. So lenses are here to stay. They’re a big purchase and one that should last you a very long time without a need to upgrade it. That means we shouldn’t just run out and buy the next big thing or whatever your neighbor uses because she takes great photos. Here’s a few common mistakes I see happening when photographers are considering a new lens purchase. A lot of these are mistakes I’ve made and wish I had known better, so I’m passing this on to you.

  1. Not Doing Research – You should always be reading, watching videos and researching a big purchase like a lens. Remember, it’s an investment. Learn how it works and what people like and don’t like about it. It can give you a lot of insight.
  2. Not Knowing Your Style – Doesn’t it feel awesome when you get a new lens? I just get excited to get out and play with it. I’ve often times made the mistake of buying something because I heard it was great only to find out it really didn’t suit my style. If you love big wide landscapes then the 200mm 2.8 is probably not an awesome idea. Or if you love traditional cropped portraits, you may hate the 24mm 1.4. You need to really take a look at your style and where you think its going in the future and chose a lens that accentuates it instead of the newest trend.
  3. Buying a Lens Someone Else Has Because Their Photos are Amazing – No. Just no. Don’t do this. We all know that the camera and lens don’t make a photo. You do. Lenses are just tools. Ultimately so many factors come into play when creating an amazing image. Your camera body and your posing of clients. Plus a true understanding of the type of light you love and how to work with it. Just because someone else has a specific lens doesn’t mean you can create the same imagery they do. Remember. Lenses don’t make photos, you do.
  4. Not Trying Before Buying – I know it’s a pain in the booty to pay to rent lenses before buying. You’re probably sure you’ll like the lens, but don’t want to loose the $100 on the rental when you can put that into something else. I know exactly how you feel. Trust me though. You need to rent the lenses first. Rent different brands of a focal length you want to try. Make sure you rent it on a weekend where you have scenario that’s very typical for you within a shoot. Don’t rent it when you’re not working. You actually need to get out there and try it. Compare it to other ones you’ve tried and see what you like. I really thought I wanted the Canon 24mm 1.4 for example. I rented it and it was just blah. I had second thoughts about purchasing it. So instead of purchasing it anyway, or skipping it altogether I rented the Sigma version. That one wowed me. It’s now my most-used lens ever. If I had just passed on trying it, or given up, or not tried it at all – I would’t know what I was missing out on. Always try before you buy. A new lens is expensive. It’s an investment. You wouldn’t buy a car without testing it first, please don’t buy a lens without testing it first. Make a wise educated investment instead of one on a whim.
  5. Not Giving a Lens a Second Chance – I don’t mean you need to forgive it like you did that ex-boyfriend who needed a second chance. What I mean is your style changes. It’s constantly evolving. I told photographers for ages how much I hated the focal length of 85mm. I just thought it was so traditional and boring. I like to shoot wide. So that level of zoom was just too much. I rented it and tried to give it a chance and it was just awful in my opinion. However, years later I kept researching and tried it again. I fell in love. My style just needed to develop more. Don’t rule out a lens forever because you may change your mind about it later.
  6. Not Saving for a Better Model – I’ve totally bought the cheaper version to save money and I’ve been sorry many times. Of course sometimes it still works out great, but consider saving a tad bit more to invest in the better model. You won’t be sorry for it if you do.
  7. Buying New When I Could Have Bought Used – Since lenses don’t age as fast as a camera body does they hold their value for a long time. They also don’t have “mileage” the same way a camera body does. I buy all my lenses used now. You can get like-new quality for a much better price. My favorite place to buy used is Lens Authority. It’s Lens Rentals’ used gear store. They have the best customer service, the best prices and the best quality in one place. My favorite!

It’s easy to just run out and buy a lens. It’s fun to have that new toy to play with. It’s exciting! Make sure you take the time and invest in a lens that you truly know you’re going to love. It will help you put time into the right parts of your business and not waste time purchasing something that doesn’t work out.

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Three Ways to Be An Awesome Second Shooter

three ways to be ana w e s o m esecond shooterI only take on 15-20 weddings a year, so on my off weekend you can usually find me second shooting. I love second shooting because I get to experience a lot of different wedding experiences and lets face it, there’s cake.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot and the skills I’ve learned second shooting have been invaluable in serving my own clients. I know venues I may not have had a chance to shoot in, vendors I may not have had a chance to work with and most importantly, have made some amazing photographer friends who I now get and send referrals to on a daily basis.

Here are some of the most valuable things I’ve learned being a second shooter:

1.) Be Cool-  I’ve walked into the grooms getting ready area, repeating his name over and over so I don’t make a fool of myself since I had just learned it earlier in the day. One time in particular a groom was really nervous and it was hot and crowded in the getting ready room. Keeping my cool and taking the lead let him have a breather and by the time we got to the first look he was completely back to normal. The most important piece of advice that I can pass on to a second shooter is to stay cool. Things happen during a wedding that are out of your control, but it’s important to be a face of professionalism and poise. Even if the timeline has been thrown out the window and your primary throws all the detail photos on you and you have five minutes to get them done, take a deep breath and get it done.

2.) Be Prompt – I’m late for every day things a lot. I have three kids and things get crazy at my house on the daily. However, I’m never late for weddings. If the primary shooter needs me there at 3:00pm, I make sure to get there at 2:30pm. Bottom line is you never know what will happen on the way there, there could be an accident or construction traffic. Apple maps could take you to the wrong church. I’d rather have an extra 30 minutes to finish my coffee and review the timeline than have to call my primary shooter and tell them I am going to be late.

3.) Be Proactive – The thing that sets a second shooter out among the rest is the ability to read the situation and be proactive. Is the brides dress tucked in a weird place?  Jump in and fix it. Is there an aunt  that totally hid behind a taller uncle during family formals? Let the primary shooter know. If it’s a super hot day, make sure the bride and groom have water during portraits. These little things that make the day go easier go a long way in making a lasting working relationship with the other shooter, and really stand out!

If you have been on the fence about second shooting, I really encourage jumping in and going for it. It’s not only fun, but you get to face different lighting challenges and situations that will help you prepare for your own solo weddings. Plus, cake!