Thanks again to our contributors this week! Want to see your images or videos featured in an upcoming Top Pics post? Be sure to tag your images on Instagram with #photobugcommunity, and join us on Facebook over in our Photobug Community Group.
Steamy portraits, starry nights, and some good ‘ole fun-loving couples are all up in this month’s Instagrammers to Follow. If you’re craving new accounts to follow then look no further! These five photographers give us an insight into what inspires them and how they find balance with Instagram’s never-ending changes. And hey, a little insight into what they said: it’s okay to take breaks and rest! YEP, that’s right. So dive in and soak up their moving portraits and encouraging words!
Instagram has had a hugely positive effect on my business over the last year and is now one of my leading sources for booking weddings (not only in my region but internationally as well). Even though I think a lot of us have a love/hate relationship with Instagram, when you think about how it allows you to connect with people from all over the world, it’s pretty freakin’ amazing! Remember when our parents were getting married and they just picked the first name that came up in the phone book? Well, I, for one, think the positives outweigh the negatives and I’m excited to be in this age of worldwide connection!
Growing your engagement and following on Instagram is a constant thought on all of our minds. I’m still struggling with it myself in all honesty. I think the key things, that you’ll hear over and over again, are to post regularly, share your personality, and ask engaging questions in your captions. Besides that, I think the biggest thing to remember is to stay true to who you are and to what inspires you (both in your images and in your captions). This is the best way to make meaningful connections with people who appreciate you and your work, and these connections are your biggest advocates. So forget about the number of likes and follows, and continue to shoot what you love and the rest will follow.
Oh, and remember it’s okay to take a break from Instagram. The comparison game is real, and when we use Instagram for drive and inspiration, it can do wonders! But as soon as it starts having a negative effect or has you questioning where you are on your own journey, take a break. Get off your phone and go do something you love (for me that could be anything from reading outside with a bag of M&M’s to turning my brain off in a movie theatre or taking a little day trip to the mountains!). After finding that balance again, you’ll be refreshed and may even have a great experience to share with your followers! We are in this business because it’s what we love doing, so don’t let Instagram ruin that for you!
One of my most popular images is this one (below) of Renee and Woody at that moment right before the kiss – that’s the best part though, am I right?! I think people are attracted to the simplicity and honesty of the moment. It’s also a reminder that it’s so important to take a few quiet moments alone on your wedding day to soak everything in!
I continue to be surprised when I share images of helicopter elopements, crazy sunsets, or the classic “tiny people, big landscape” and they receive way fewer likes than close up images of couples. I think this goes to show that images, where your audience can see and feel genuine emotion, will have the biggest impact.
A few photographers that I continue to find inspiration from are @ryanlongnecker, @philchester, and @nicoleashley. They all offer something completely different, but their drive to keep growing as artists and their openness on social media are things I look forward to seeing every day.
Instagram has had a huge impact on our business and really changed the wedding photography landscape. It’s such a great tool to reach clients and connect with other photographers and brands around the world.
Only show the work you want to be shooting. Instagram has really raised the bar for photographers across the board and people tend to engage more with photos that are either telling a story or really visually/emotionally grab you. Really think about what your posting and don’t just post for the sake of posting. Also, engage with other people and artist who inspire you as much as you can!
The most popular post we’ve shared was a first look just before an elopement we shot last year. The groom was really emotional seeing his bride for the first time and I think people really loved how raw and honest that moment was.
Instagram has been such a wonderful marketing tool and has allowed me to book weddings both, locally, and internationally. About 70% of my inquiries say they found me on Instagram. It has been an amazing way to connect with other creatives, artists, and humans from all over the world. In turn, this has led me to foster friendships, create business opportunities, inspired collaborations, and resulted in referrals. It has become an extension of my website, my heart and the way I see the world, while also allowing me to share a bit of my personal story which is so, so important to your followers – seeing the real you.
And now with Instagram stories, it has become that much easier to share more about your day to day, behind the scenes of shoots and a glimpse into your life by posting non-curated videos. I personally love to post stories of behind-the-scenes, travel, and inspiration that really encompass the way that I live my life and my process when it comes to my work.
I am forever grateful for Instagram and the amazing community it has created and all of the opportunities that have come from it.
When it comes to photographers looking to grow their following and engagement, I have a few tips – the first would be to find your “why” and stay true to that while also staying true to yourself. Post what makes you feel something — what makes your heart beat faster, your eyes stay peeled, your brain feel a sense of wonder and excitement. Do that. Post that. People relate to authenticity and in turn, it has more of an emotional impact which is mutually beneficial. Most importantly, interact with people! Respond to comments, give advice + feedback. Love what someone is doing? Did it make you stop in your tracks? Tell them! It will make their day and it also makes your connection to them apparent and stronger. Be kind, be honest – support your local community, lift each other up. There’s nothing better than feeling supported, seen, and heard.
From a less emotional/heart heavy standpoint, use geotags – people want to know where you are (I can be better at this as well), use hashtags that represent your market and your area, engage with others – not just photographers but non-artists, designers, anyone who makes you stop and think, “wow, that’s beautiful, or that’s interesting.” Take time to discover something new on Instagram – new inspiration, texture, color, perspective, composition. . . . not new in theory but new to you. Take that and implement it into your work, you’ll be surprised where it can take you.
Lastly, don’t get caught up in thinking that you have or you need to emulate other photographers to be popular, get likes, get noticed, get followers. Trends will always die out – so keep it real and always try to make work for you. You know, the work that makes you love what you do.
My most popular post that I’ve shared on Instagram is a photo of my dear friends, Jordie and Trent at their home in Nashville. It’s a photograph of them at their piano… Trent is playing her a song and they are in this beautiful moment together. I think it did so well because it’s relatable – they are in their own home, with family heirlooms hanging on the wall, snuggled up close and enjoying each other’s company. It was a true “love intentionally” moment. On top of that, you can just see their connection jumping out at your through the frame – I love that. I focus so much on human connection and I think that it was represented here.
Instagram has been incredibly beneficial to my business. Not only has it brought the photography community together, creating a connected network of creatives from around the world, it has also enabled us to have a curated mobile portfolio. I consider Instagram to be a modern day business card. When I meet people for the first time I am more likely give them my Instagram handle than an actual business card. They will learn so much more about my brand and identity by reading my bio and scrolling through my feed. About half of my wedding inquiries come from Instagram and the other half come from referrals from either past clients or photographers that I have networked with via Instagram and other social platforms.
Post frequency and engaging with other accounts are the most important factors I have found to grow my following and engagement on Instagram. Posting 2-3 times a day will maximize your page traffic. Being a real human also helps, select a couple dozen pages whose content you enjoy and spend your time on Instagram engaging with them rather than mindlessly scrolling. Instagram can be a real time suck if you aren’t being intentional. Spend your time liking and engaging (commenting) with the people who are most important to your business including popular feature pages, photographers whose work inspires you and peers who you want to support.
My most popular Instagram post to date was from a wedding in Saskatchewan last fall. For those of you who don’t know where Saskatchewan is, it’s in the Canadian prairies, which is where I grew up. I now live in Vancouver, BC (PNW) and while I love the rainy, moody PNW vibes, it’s important to be able to create imagery people can connect with, whether or not you’re in the mountains or oceanfront. I am proud that this simple yet incredibly romantic image is my most popular post to date. I think the brighter fall colors and simplicity are what draws the viewer to the connection of the couple; I can almost feel their hearts beating in the stillness of the image.
Instagram has had a huge effect on our business. Almost all of our new clients for 2018-2019 that send us message say they found us on Instagram. We believe it is the future of expanding our business and find new couples and show our work to the world.
In case you missed it, we announced the 2018 Best of the Best Engagement Collection yesterday, and today we’re so thrilled to be sharing the Honorable Mention winners. Typically, we only select 25 images to be included in our Honorable Mention collection, but we were forced to expand our set due to the quality of submissions we received this year. A huge thanks again to Helena and Laurent, Don and Helen, and Kristen Marie Parker, for their help in curating this year’s Honorable Mention collection.
Working at your computer can feel tedious at times, so we came up with an editing playlist to liven things up a bit. For those of you who are all about bumpin’ hits and the occasional throwback, this playlist is for you! So while you might typically listen to one of your favorite podcasts or turn on The Office to rewatch it for the 15th time, switch things and get groovy while you edit.
Thank you again to this week’s contributors! Want to see your photo or video featured in an upcoming Top Pics post? Be sure to tag your images on Instagram with #photobugcommunity, and join us on Facebook over in our Photobug Community Group.
We are loving the jumpsuit trend for 2018 and we wanted to dedicate this post to those of you who love it as much as we do. We rounded up some of our favorite jumpsuits for wedding photographers – think pockets, easy to move in, and all day comfort! Yep, this is the holy grail of all things jumpsuits. So happy shopping and get ready to look stylish and cool at your next wedding!
Wedding photographer Sara Rogers is our pick for this month’s Spotlight Interview series! We are loving her genuine, open answers in regards to running her business, some industry pet peeves, and personal and business goals. Sara’s images are timeless in her editing and modern from her framing and composition, and it’s clear that she pulls inspiration from nature and filmmakers by the way she executes each session and wedding.
Introduce yourself! – How long have you been shooting and how old is your business?
I’ve been shooting for about five years now, but have been doing weddings for the past three years. Before I quit my day-job (as an Interior Designer) I was doing a lot of second shooting for other wedding photographers and basically photographing anything and everything that I could to gain more experience. Now I solely shoot weddings, elopements, and couples and I absolutely love it and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!
Describe an average day for you.
I’m not a morning person (my husband would agree strongly with this) so having a more flexible schedule is really great for me. When I wake up I answer emails in bed while I snuggle with my pug, Maddy. I usually take a break to go for a walk and grab a tea. When I get home I start editing, blogging, and planning social media posts. I work until about sixish when my husband gets home and then we usually go to the gym or out for a walk. We always spend the evening together, because it’s super important for me to have time with my family. Once my husband, Jaimie, goes to bed, I’ll usually work until 11:30ish. This schedule works well for me because I like breaking the work into blocks of times rather than sitting in front of the computer all day.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I love being in the outdoors and am always dreaming up new ideas when I’m out in nature. I love reading, looking at magazines, art and movies, and traveling, all of which have influenced me a lot. I am also inspired by other photographers of all different genres, not just wedding photographers. In fact, I try not to look at other wedding photogs too much as I find myself falling into the comparison game or being influenced by what is trendy. I want to use inspiration to spark new ideas and create work that doesn’t look like everyone else’s.
Is there any specific figure/person who has influenced your work?
So many! Wes Anderson (of course). I love the minimalism and symmetry in Maria Svarbova’s work. I am super inspired by conceptual artists like Rosie Hardy. I love the drama and unique perspective of wedding photographers like Oli Sansom, Rafal Bogar and Muse and Mirror. I’m also a huge fan of shows like Stranger Things, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Game of Thrones; the way they play with light, shadow, colour and framing constantly influences my work.
What achievement, moment, or success are you most proud of?
I was so excited when I got my first few print features! Blogs are amazing but seeing my work in the pages of a magazine was such great validation for me. I was also so proud to have one of my images selected in the Junebug Best of the Best Engagement contest last year!
What’s a goal that you’re working towards?
A professional goal of mine would to someday be nominated for Rangefinder 30 Rising Stars (three more years, fingers crossed!). Even though I know contests and awards aren’t that important in the end, it would be an incredible measure of success to be recognized in the same arena as people whose work I really admire. A big personal goal for me this year is to spend less time on social media and more time actually connecting with people face-to-face.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything during your first month of business, what would it be?
Care less about what people think of you and just do your own thing. This is something I actually still try and remind myself all the time.
What’s your favorite image of yourself? What’s the story behind it?
One of my favourite images is actually of my husband, Jaimie and I, in Yosemite National Park. It was taken by The Hearnes, who happened to be there at the same time as us. You can’t see our faces but I think it encapsulates the spirit of adventure that we both share and what keeps our relationship strong. It was probably one of the top five sunsets I’ve ever witnessed in my life, it was just so magical.
What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?
Probably the dance floor actually! I love capturing movement and people tend to let loose and show their real personalities on the dance floor. Kids and grandparents are always doing something hilarious and amazing at this point of the night. The bride and groom and their guests are so relaxed that I find I can actually be a lot more unnoticed and capture more candid moments because they aren’t focused on my camera.
How has witnessing so many weddings impacted your life/outlook?
It’s such an amazing job when you think about it. Every wedding is so joyful and special, I never get bored of it. It is also so important what we do, capturing memories for people. It definitely makes me appreciate that I’m lucky enough to do something that I love, there are so many people I know that are working to pay the bills doing a job they don’t really like. I think it’s just made me a happier person in general!
What are you doing to market your business to couples?
The majority of my business comes from word of mouth and SEO. I am really focused on the client experience from beginning to end, and as a result, most couples I work with are happy to refer me. I also have built a large network of photographer friends locally and we swap referrals. I submit work to blogs often, and I find this is a great way to market yourself, as blogs are really good at promoting your content not just on their site but also on their social media channels.
Tell us about an engagement session that stands out to you the most and why.
Not an engagement session but an in-home couple’s session I did with the most amazing women, Lorenza and Ilenia, would be one that stands out as very special. These two are Italians who moved to Canada to live in a place more accepting of LGBTQ couples. I actually met Lorenza on Instagram and asked her if they would want to shoot with me sometime and we set up a session in their new apartment. These two were so natural in front of the camera, so obviously in love, that it made the session flow so smoothly. We’ve become friends since the shoot, and in fact, they had my husband and I over for dinner and cooked us authentic Italian pasta and risotto!
What are your 3 favorite questions to ask prospective clients?
First, I find out how they met or ask them what initially attracted them to the other person, I like to hear how they talk about each other. It’s great to see what kind of connection they have and will tell you a lot about how they will be as clients.
I ask them to describe their vision for their wedding. I want to work with couples who have a unique, personal vision for their day and are not focused on anything super traditional or fussy but instead are planning a down-to-earth celebration with their favourite people.
Why me? I think it’s important to find out what about your work the couple loves and how much they value photography. Not for the ego boost, but so you can do the best possible job for them by understanding their vision.
Walk us through how you connect with your couples prior to the wedding day?
I meet with all of my prospective couples before booking to get to know each other and find out if we’d be a good fit for each other. Once they decide to book I send them a client guide which has tips and tricks to help them plan their wedding. I usually check in with them a few times before the big day to help them with their timeline or refer them to any vendors they might need. I also do engagement sessions with the majority of my couples because it’s a great way for them to get comfortable with me prior to the big day. Once the wedding day rolls around, I’m just a friend with a camera and they are able to relax and trust me!
Do you stay friends with your couples after the wedding?
I stay in touch with a lot of my clients through social media and do connect with some of them after their weddings. In fact, Jaimie and I just visited some former clients (now friends) in Denmark where they moved after their wedding. Just another reason why this job is so incredible!
What are you doing with your branding to attract clients?
I just went through a rebrand and I’m so happy with how it turned out! My old branding didn’t stand out amongst the masses (a mountain logo, so original!), so I really wanted something fresh with my new branding. My goal was to keep it minimalistic, modern, and artistic (similar to my work). My new tagline “Unique Stories of Love and Light” was something my designer, Rayvn, came up with and I think it’s perfect – it really speaks to my work! Every part of my branding is cohesive and thoughtful and is meant to show that what I provide is a little bit different from everyone else.
How do you get your clients comfortable in front of the camera?
Sometimes before an engagement session, I meet the couple for a coffee to just chat, I find this helps transition into the session. When we start shooting, I start off with action right at the beginning (running, walking, dancing) so they start to get comfortable moving and burn off their nervous energy. The end of the session is when I get more intimate, quiet photos. I also try and joke around with them and not take myself too seriously, because I find it’s easier for them to get comfortable if I am relaxed as well.
What is your data management workflow?
I am pretty paranoid about losing files (having had computer and hard drive crashes in the past), so I now have a system that works well for me. I don’t store any photo files on my computer; I keep that clear so that things run faster. I have a Lacie External Drive for each year and that is where all my working files are organized. From there, the files also get backed up on a Lacie desktop RAID. Once all the files for a year are completed and sent to clients, they get deleted off the RAID but kept on the externals. All of the files also get backed up to the cloud on Crashplan. With this system everything is getting triple backed up!
How do you keep your business organized? Do you use a client management system?
Honestly, I’m too cheap to use a studio management software haha! I am super organized though so I created different excel sheets and calendars to help keep me and my business on track. I made my own workflow checklist that I have to complete for every client so that I don’t forget to do anything. I also have organized my computer and files into a straightforward naming system so that it’s very easy to track things.
How do you organize/schedule your work week?
I don’t generally work a standard 9-5 (as I detailed in my average day above), but instead break the work day up into blocks of time. Mornings are for emails and paperwork, afternoons and evenings are when I edit/blog/do social media. During the summer I travel a lot for work so I’m generally only “in the office” a couple days and week but try and maintain my daily schedule as much as possible. I always try and take one day off a week to spend time with my friends and family, usually Sundays unless I have a wedding that day. I also usually work out of coffee shops with other photographer friends a couple times a week, it’s so nice to leave your house and be forced to put on pants and socialize with people.
How much of your time is taken up by social media?
Too much, honestly! This is one of the things I struggle with the most as a self-employed person. My work and my personal life are so intertwined that I find it really difficult to stop working/being on my phone. I want to show clients the person behind the brand and to engage with them, so as a result, I spend a lot of time on social media. I also run the social accounts for my other business, The Camp Collective (more on that below), so that adds to the time I spend online. I am working hard to cut my social media usage in half by being more deliberate about what I’m doing when I’m on there.
How has social media affected your business?
It has definitely helped my business, although, with the new changes to the algorithm, I have lost a lot of engagement. For that reason, I’ve been spending a lot less time focusing on social media and more time connecting with other photographers, submitting my work to blogs, and working on my SEO as I see those avenues paying off more in the long run. The best thing about social media for me has been meeting a huge network of other photographers all around the world.
List all of the gear that you bring to your weddings:
2 Nikon D750s
Sigma Art 24mm 1.4
Nikon 35mm 1.8G
Nikon 58mm 1.4G
Nikon 85mm 1.4D
Nikon 105mm 2.8G
2 Nikon SB-700 Speedlights w/ MagMods
2 Lowel Pro Lights and an LED Video Light (these sit in my trunk and only come out at weddings that are very dark)
How have you continued your photography education?
Education and growth are super important to me. In fact, before I became a photographer, I went to school for Fashion Design, Business and Marketing, and Interior Design. I think everyone has something to learn even great artists. We should constantly be looking for new ways to better ourselves and our work. I don’t spend a lot of money on new gear or on marketing so I dedicate a reasonable portion of my income to attending workshops and conferences – usually, I go to at least two a year. I also watch a lot of videos online and experiment with new techniques. One thing I would love to do in the future is to invest in a long-term, one-on-one mentorship as I would love an educational experience more tailored specifically to my business growth.
Do you have any bucket list locations that you hope to shoot at one day?
Too many! I love exploring places a bit off the beaten path and would love to go to Bhutan or back to Myanmar to shoot (so much interesting light!). Other places would include Svalbard, The Faroe Islands, and Newfoundland.
What is your favorite image that you’ve taken? Can you describe how you created it? What is it that makes it different?
I think this black and white image is my favourite because it was totally unplanned. It was a few years ago so I was still just starting out and I was still experimenting a lot to help define my style. I shot a bunch of images of this first dance with a flash but right before they finished dancing I decided to switch my flash off and just use ambient light. It was a dark room with pot lights and they happened to dance right under one of the lights at the very end of the dance and the bride jumped into the groom’s arms. Once I saw the image I knew I had to convert it to black and white to isolate just their silhouettes and remove distractions. I love it because it shows emotion through body language only. This photo always reminds me to try new things and continue to experiment always.
Do you have any advice for those who are just beginning to pursue a photography career?
If you’re thinking about shooting weddings, learn your gear inside and out.
Know how to use flash and lighting to your advantage (even if you shoot mainly natural or ambient light, you still should know how to use a flash).
Make friends with other photographers! (This is one of the best things that has come out of a career in photography for me). It’s great to have a supportive network of people around you, it’s also a great way to get referrals!
Figure out your CODB (cost of doing business) so that you know what you need to charge to run your business and live.
Recognize that social media is fickle, so don’t focus solely on it as your only marketing tool. You can have a small amount of followers and still run a successful business.
Don’t play the comparison game (it’s soul-sucking); just focus on creating amazing, unique work and developing your own style!
Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t ‘happening’ quickly (you’re not booking enough, you’re not getting likes on social media, you’re not winning contests, etc…) just work hard and those things will follow. Remember that your journey is not going to be the same as anyone else’s journey.
Celebrate all the successes along the way instead of dwelling on the things that didn’t work out.
Thanks again to our contributors this week! Want to see your images or videos featured in an upcoming Top Pics post? Be sure to tag your images on Instagram with #photobugcommunity, and join us on Facebook over in our Photobug Community Group.
Does your editing queue have you down? Stress no more! We came up with a list of eight handy Lightroom hacks that will turn things around for you! From the steps you need to take prior to uploading a new gallery to what to do when you export your images, there are a few tips and tricks that will surely help make your post-production process a breeze.
Instead of starting from scratch with each image, you can make your own presets to save you a few steps in the initial editing process. To make a preset, edit an image with any adjustments you may need to get the ultimate post-production look you’re striving for. Once you edit that first image, go to the toolbar at the top of Lightroom and click Develop –> New Preset. Hooray! You created your first preset! From there, you can apply that preset to any future images and save a lot of time with editing. Don’t be surprised if you need to make slight adjustments on future images, but applying one of your custom presets will save you quite a bit of time during the process.
#2: HSL Slider
Speaking of presets, let’s talk about perfecting those dreamy tones that you’re striving for! After applying a preset, use your toolbar on the right and scroll down to the Hue/Saturation/Luminance (HSL) slider to make subtle adjustments to your images. Remember, not every photo will be taken in the same lighting conditions, so presets can often look muddy, dark, overexposed, etc. on an image before any tweaking. To keep your images looking consistent, don’t be afraid to tweak and tinker until you’ve reached the all-star look.
The Previous Button can be a lifesaver when it comes to applying the exact edit and adjustments from the previous image to the next one. This not only includes color adjustments but spot removal, horizon line tweaks, cropping, etc. More than just a preset, the Previous Button will copy over any other edits and adjustments made to an image.
#4: New Catalogs
There’s nothing more infuriating than Lightroom running slowly. To maximize its processing, create separate catalogs for each wedding. Making a new catalog for each session will help prevent Lightroom from being bogged down in its speed. If you had every single image from every wedding and session in one catalog, Lightroom would be pulling from that one catalog that contains thousands and thousands of images. Having a catalog with that high of capacity will slow down the software and make editing a nightmare. Instead, remember to make new catalogs for each wedding so Lightroom is only pulling from that catalog instead of a catalog with every other image in it.
After culling your images and uploading them into Lightroom, you can still be left with quite a few photos left to edit. Instead of leaving all the images together, organize them by different categories such as getting ready, details, bride and groom portraits, formal photos, ceremony, and reception. This can be especially helpful if the light changed throughout different parts of the day so you’re more likely to use the same or similar processing on the images from each category. Although you can’t name these categories in Lightroom, you can assign a number, flag, or color to them. 1 star for getting ready, 2 stars for details, 3 stars for bride and groom portraits, so on and so forth. Organizing your images into these groups might make an editing marathon a little less daunting. Instead of relying on your mouse or trackpad, use these keys to make it even easier:
Number keys 1-5 to assign an image to the corresponding number of stars
Number keys 6-9 to assign an image to a color label
P to pick/flag an image
U to unpick/remove the flag from an image
#6: Apply During Import
When you’re getting ready to upload a new gallery into Lightroom, select a preset and a list of keywords that you wish to apply to all of the images. Applying a preset prior to uploading the images will allow you to focus on tweaking and perfecting the gallery without spending hours of time applying the basic edits that go into all of your images.
Once your photos are edited, don’t export them quite yet! If you didn’t import the images with keywords applied to them, you can still add them now. When you’re in the Library viewing setting of Lightroom, go to the toolbar on the right-hand side and enter various keywords to be integrated into your images – these will be helpful with SEO! Remember to select all images so the keywords tag all the images and not just one.
#8: Image Names
Okay, okay. It’s time to export. Instead of exporting the gallery with the same file name as what was created in your camera, take the time to rename them. Creating an image name that is easy for web crawlers to read will also help with your SEO! You can customize it to the couple/event, the date, your business, or what the image is. Here are a few examples: