The biggest mistake I’ve made | You’ve been warned

The cinematic vlog

The cinematic vlog

When we blog here, we are often talking about gear, concepts, and techniques to help you all further your craft, but this time it’s going to be a bit different. You see, I want to talk about something that had really been weighing on me a few weeks ago, and how I got over it. In order to set the story properly though, you need to know a bit of background about me (Bobby). I always loved taking photos. Since as far back as I can remember I had my own camera that shot those rolls of film that sorta look like the profile view of a telephone. I probably didn’t take one good photo with it, and I don’t think I was able to use it whenever I wanted, but taking photos was always a part of growing up. The first time I remember making a video was early in grade school. We had to do a book report, and we could do it however we wanted.  My family had just gotten a new video camera and I really wanted to play with it, so making a video seemed like a great way to accomplish both tasks at hand. Through that project I found what I consider to be one of my only creative outlets. You see, my entire family is artists, My grandma was an artist and documentary film maker, both my parents went to art school, and I just recently found out my grandpa was an avid photographer. However, I could never keep up in anything even remotely artistic, and quite frankly I didn’t enjoy it. That is until I made my first movie. Fast forward a few years, I had probably made a few other things when I was allowed to use the camera, and my brother and I had also made some movies together for fun. A few years beyond that was high school, which offered a couple video project opportunities, and I had continued making some things on my own. In my senior year I started an internship, which eventually turned into a job in the film world, and then I left for college to pursue a degree in cinematography. Making videos has been a part of my life for the better portion of the parts I can remember, and it had always brought such joy.


When I started college I started shooting weddings for a few companies in California (I had already been shooting them for maybe 2 years or so). Around the same time I started booking my own shoots, and that quickly took off. It is absolutely amazing to get to film weddings, commercials, and many other things for a living. I was literally living my dream. But something happens when you start to do what you love for a living. It becomes work.


We have ALWAYS limited the amount of weddings and other projects we take on per year, and that has been mostly put in place to protect us from burning out. We love what we do, and we want it to stay that way. We know far too many people who shoot 60 weddings a year and then leave the industry after just a short while because they just can’t take it anymore. We wanted to do everything we could do to keep that from happening, and it’s done well so far. This is my 9th year shooting weddings and I still love it. However, loving what you do for work is not quite the same as doing what you love for fun, and I was made abruptly aware of that just a few weeks ago.


We were at a wedding, and a guest came up to me and asked if I did video work. Being that we shoot DSLR for video and often get mistaken for the photographer, I politely responded “yah, we are actually shooting the video today!” The man explained that he knew that but was curious if I did any narrative films or anything like that for fun. I kid you not, my direct, word for word response was “no, not anymore.”


The minute those words left my mouth I realized that somewhere I had lost the drive to do what I love. Sure I love what I do, but again, it’s not the same. Creating stupid videos, documentaries, and even large narrative projects was something that brought me immense joy. Now, that’s not to say that wedding films and commercials don’t bring me joy. There is rarely a greater feeling than when a film just comes together perfectly, or completely captures the couple in the few minutes you have to do so, but it’s just not the same. When you are shooting for work, you certainly express yourself, and your fingerprint is left on the project so to speak, but you also have to express the desires of your client. When you do something purely because you want to, you are able to enjoy it completely.


I didn’t take that exchange lightly, and thought on it for a few days. Around this same time I had, through a series of connections, found a vlogger by the name of Casey Neistat, who is pretty well known around the world for his daily videos. With his, and a few other vloggers videos fresh in my mind, I decided to try my hand at putting together fun videos of my day / week / weekend / whatever timeframe I felt I had enough content to do so with, and it has been amazing. I truly feel I have recaptured that feeling. It allows me to do what I love without any of the stress attached. If a shot is a bit overexposed or shaky but I still like it, who cares, I have nobody to please but myself, and that is the freedom of doing what you love.


So, the cinematic vlog was born. I’m not really sure what shape it will take, and I’m not committing to daily videos at this point, but I have loved having my camera with me almost everywhere I go, and putting together videos of all of our adventures! (example of one of the first ones below)


Not only have I found enjoyment through making these videos, but I also think it has had a positive effect on the videos we do professionally. When I am doing something completely for me, I can do whatever I want with the camera. I can test out shots, settings, color grades, anything I want, and that was something that I found less and less time for over the years. I didn’t want to take my camera out when I had free time because that was “work.” Now, I am shooting more than ever, editing more than ever, and in turn finding more techniques, settings, etc, that lend themselves well to continually growing in our paid work as well.


So, I realize this was more of a personal post, especially compared to other blogs we’ve written on here. I just feel that I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make sure you do what you love, and don’t just love what you do.

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.



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.

Announcing Photo Camp 2017 Dates with an Extra Dose of $99 Tickets on Top

shawneeandblue-reception-332Here’s what I know. I’ve been planning my own event now for 3 years (this last year’s just finished). I know what it’s like to try and afford food to feed everyone attending, styled shoots, planners, venues and more. I also know what it’s like to pay huge prices to go to events because I’ve paid them myself. I have a background in teaching, a K-12 Art Education degree and I always struggle with this balance of should a conference profit, or should education be affordable and accessible.

So, today I’m here to say that thanks to some clever planning, sponsors and more, the 4th Awesomesauce conference (now known as Photo Camp) is only going to be $99 a person to attend. That’s all your ticket costs. I want to focus on giving you the education and cutting all the icky stuff that goes along with planning events. Instead of feeling stretched thin trying to coordinate food, shoots and more (although this year I had an amazing planner to do all that for me), I think in the future I’ll be focusing on just the education. That’s what you pay for – just the education.

Here’s something I’ve learned this past year too. When you, as a business owner, focus on doing what you love, not for the money, you end up more abundant than ever (and I’m not just talking wealth here). So 2017 is for you guys. The cost of your tickets pays for the cost of the venue (oh and s’mores). My time is yours. I want you to come not knowing anyone and leave with a huge community of friends.

2017 is also going to change in a big way as in – no more shoots! That’s right, a photography event without shooting. You can go to almost any photography event and shoot. I often find that the shooting distracts from the learning. As photographers we all started this business for the love of shooting and it’s the business end, that most of the time, we need major help with. 2017 is ALL about your business. It’s about branding, marketing, Facebook, social media, Instagram, blogging, Pinterest, snapchat and learning how to connect with your ideal customers. I want you to walk away with actionable tips to put in place as soon as you leave (or even during). I don’t want you to walk away simply feeling inspired. Inspiration and motivation to keep plugging through your business is great, and we all need that, but we need to know how and what to do exactly that can help us, right?

I’m really looking forward to our biggest and best year yet next year and I hope to see so many more of you who are a part of this community in person, meet you, teach you and – learn from you. Every year doing this conference has always been a big part of learning for me and I love that challenge! So let’s rock it in 2017!

Tickets are $99 for a limited time (probably because these are going to run out SO FAST).

What I Learned After One Year of Full Time Photography


Hello there!

As I am approaching my one year anniversay in June of becoming a full time photographer,  I have been reflecting on what I have learned this past year. I am SO grateful to be doing my dream job everyday but it has been a bit of a bumpy road. Being an entrepreneur is not easy, and I didn’t expect it to be, but I didn’t realize how much work I was going to be doing and how much time it was going to take to be successful but let me tell you, it has been worth it!

Some backstory for you is I was working full time in a health care facility as a receptionist. I did some college but never figured out what I wanted to dedicate my life to. I have always been a creative and wanted to something creative but didn’t want to be an art teacher. So I was getting my generals out of the way expecting that one day I will wake up and know what I want to do for the rest of my life. Well that never happened and instead, I met a boy and got married!!! I never finished school and thought I would be a receptionist for the rest of my life. Then one day my husband and I bought a camera so we could make music videos for him (he’s a musician) but instead, I started playing with it and began taking pictures, posting them on facebook, and wa-la(!), I began getting clients. I did it as a hobby for two years when one day I had the opportunity to quit my full time job to pursue it. By opportunity I mean my boss wouldn’t let me take time off to photograph a wedding that was two weeks away and had been planning to shoot for months and I couldn’t just cancel on the bride. Also hubby got a new job making enough money to cover my income.

So, all of that to say, even though I am full time I am not making a ton of money (yet!) but I am constantly working on finding ways to build my business. Not only that I am constantly learning about how to run a business and what tools to use to help run a business. So without furthe adieau, here is what I have learned (in no particular order):


1. Writing down my dreams and your goals for my business and looking at them regularly will get you far. I have writen down my financial goals, educational goals, my personal goals, and have made a timeline of when I want to have these goals done by. By doing this, I have executed my first styled shoot this past year and have been published a couple of times all because I wanted it really bad. Plus I have met all of my financial goals every month, have booked double the weddings I had last year, and have learned so much by taking classes and workshops including Carrie’s Photography Awesomesauce Photo Camp.


2.  This kind of piggy backs on the last one but never stop learning. I feel like I’m still barely scratching the surface of photography and everything there is to know about it (even though I’ve been shooting for 3 years) but thinking about the things I want to learn and maybe schedule an hour or two everyweek just to research it has helped me so much. I’ve learned a little bit about off camera flash, what the difference is between a Canon 6D and a Canon 5D miii is, what the Brenzier Method is, how to fix chromatic aberration and a few other things. Since I learned photography on my own I have had to learn about a lot of things the hard way and have had to do my own research but it helps me feel a little more confident as a photographer and not feel like a fool or a fraud lol. Can you hear some of my true feelings coming out lol?


3. Shoot for yourself regularly. This has kept me feeling inspired and creative and not burnt out. It’s so easy for me to get in a rut and feel like photography is work, which it is, but I don’t ever want to forget why I’m doing it and why I love it. When I was starting out I would take my camera everywhere with me just to make sure I captured everything that was beautiful to me but now I think about how much editing I already have to do and I don’t want to add to it. I still don’t take my camera everywhere with me but instead I plan a shoot with a family member or a friend and go buck wild with it. I plan weird poses that I’ve been wanting to try and I have them wear something that correlates with the mood or theme I’m going for, and I just create. Most of my favorite images have been during these shoots and they always leave me feeling rejuvinated and inspired.


4. If you have read my last post then you know I’m an introvert. That means I can so easily get cooped up in my house and become a loner (fo real doe). What I have learned is that community is important. By seriously stretching myself and purposing to go to workshops and networking events (because that is literally work for me) I have met some incredible people and have had their help making my dreams come true. For example, I went to a workshop here in Denver for wedding vendors and met some incredbile women who were just starting their businesses and we partnered together for our first styled shoot. It was so much fun and we all were so excited to work together and now we are all good friends.


5. Even though I have been shooting for only 3 years I can already tell that my shoulders and back are starting to hurt from holding my camera and my camera bag. Since I am on my feet a lot during weddings and shoots and sitting hunched over a lot while editing, I have decided to take better care of myself. I am only 26 and if I am already feeling pain in my body. That is a sign for me to do take better care of my body. If I want to be the best at what I do and live a long healthy life and stay mobile, I need to take care of my body because I only get one and it’s suppose to last up to 70 to 100 years. I have wanted to get a little healthier anyway but I have decided that my health and body are worth investing in so I am doing accupunture, some chiropractic, an occasional massage, and doing yoga. Now that wedding season has begun I will really be able to tell if these are helping by the end of the season but so far I’m loving all of them. And just a tip (I am a huge budgeter and like to find deals), if you can’t afford preventative care a suggestion for you may be to do trade work with them. I have been trading photos with my accupunturist so that I can get “free” care and it’s been amazing! Also I go to a yoga class occasionally to stay inspired but I have found some amazing resources on YouTube for free and have been loving practicing at home.


Anyway, those are just a few things I have a learned this year from being full time. I know it was a little bit longer of a post but hopefully the photos helped a little! 🙂



6 Ways to Add Passive Income to Your Wedding Photography Business

6 Ways to Add Passive Income to Your Wedding Photography BusinessHow cool would it be if you just got a check in the mail every month with extra money on the side for your business? Sounds too good to be true right? Well, this isn’t any “get rich quick” scheme. It won’t exactly make you rich right away, but it can be a great tool to add to your business if you think it might be a good fit.

This blog post is about becoming an affiliate! Affiliates are usually people like you and me who sign up to be an affiliate with a company, and you get a custom link. When you give that link out to anyone and they purchase something from the company through that link you get a little kick back. I love affiliate programs because they’re great for bloggers to earn a little extra bit on the side.

Here are a few tips you should know about affiliate marketing before I get to the nitty-gritty and tell you some awesome places you can become an affiliate for as a wedding photographer.

  • Affiliate marketing requires that you have a disclaimer on any blog post, email or social media post that you earn money when people purchase through the link. Make sure you read more about how you’re required to provide disclaimers. Sometimes different companies have different rules, and you always need to obey the law.
  • In the US the law really wants you to make it bold and easy for people to find your affiliate disclaimer. That means don’t bury it at the bottom of a blog post or try to hide it. You can put a big disclaimer at the top of the post, or put it right next to the link that you make an income from. Just try to be obvious and honest.
  • Don’t become an affiliate for anything and everything just because you can. Be an affiliate for companies you know you’ll actually promote a lot and actually like. That way it’s genuine when you link to them and suggest them.

Now, before we really really actually do dive into where to become an affiliate I need to tell you something. Truth. I don’t want my clients to print at Shutterfly or Canvas Pop. Obviously, I’d like them to print through me as much as possible. However, my theory is that if for some reason they are going to print through someone else – at the very least I should make money off of it. That’s why I’m an affiliate for companies like Shutterfly and Canvas Pop. At the end of the day I’m a business and I do have to pay the mortgage and eat. I know some of you are judging right now, but don’t worry – I always push ordering through me and my quality labs first.

  1. Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Wedding Paper Divas – These are all the same company. In fact, Borrow Lenses is also part of the Shutterfly team. Shutterfly can be good for quick prints for scrapbooking and I love sending clients to Wedding Paper Divas to make save the dates, invitations and thank you cards. How great is it to get a little kickback off each of their paper goods at every wedding? I have done a lot of in person sales in the past and used to design and offer these paper goods as services I could provide, but I just didn’t find joy in it and decided it wasn’t for me and this was a better alternative.
  2. Miller’s and Mpix – Miller’s and Mpix have an affiliate program now! I know a lot of photographers who would suggest Mpix to their clients as a good consumer printer lab. Now you can make money every time you suggest it and they go print there.
  3. Modcloth – Modcloth might not be for everyone, but they have some wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and great shoes which a lot of my clients love!
  4. Artifact Uprising – If clients don’t want to print an album with me, this is one of the amazing places I suggest.
  5. Canvas Pop – If they want to print their own canvases…here you go!
  6. Mixbook – This is a new album printing company. Or at least it’s new to me. I discovered it because one of my brides used it and loved it, so I figured why not promote it too?

Now, I’ve got to tell you how you can make these affiliate sales happen. I do it in two ways. One is through my automated email reminders with my clients and another is through blogging. With automated emails I use both Pixifi and Shootproof‘s systems. I use Pixifi to send email reminders from the moment they book up until the day after the wedding. In those emails I link back to a lot of blog posts and other resources I think my clients would love and I can throw in a few of these links too. Once their photos are delivered I switch to Shootproof‘s email system which is connected to their online gallery. With each email reminder there’s instructions to order through me, coupon codes for ordering through me, and several of these printing options with my affiliates that I suggest as well. It is totally okay to say, “If you appreciated working with me at all I’d love it if you used one of these links when you order because it sends me a little kick back.” If you want to start using Shootproof use my exclusive coupon code to grab 25% off any annual plan. Code: SWAILS25

When it comes to blogging I know I can blog about any one of these companies, and mix them up into various resourceful posts for my clients as well.

This is just how I roll and it’s something I’ve implemented more recently, but I’m already loving and seeing a lot of success from. This isn’t going to be for everyone, but for those who have asked I hope this post helps. Maybe you’ll find it appalling that I’d even let my clients order from Shutterfly and that’s okay too. I get it. We all run our businesses differently and do what works best for us and this has been an amazing way to but a cherry on top of the cake of business income.

If you want to know how to become an affiliate for a lot of these companies you can head right over to Share a Sale, which is a website that can connect you to all kinds of companies to start doing affiliate sales. All of these except Millers are listed on there and you can even use my link to sign up with Share a Sale and hey it sends me a little love too (note the disclaimer)! Here’s a link to Miller’s information about affiliate sales.