7 tips for photographing a first look

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If you are new to the wedding world, you may not have heard of the term the First Look. This is a relatively contemporary concept, & occurs when the bride & groom opt to see each other in their wedding clothes before the ceremony.

As a photographer, I can give you many reasons why you should consider doing a First Look. As a former bride, I can tell you why you simply must do a First Look. 

1 // Location

When I’m doing a First Look, I pick out a location that is far enough away from the hustle & bustle of staff, early arriving guests, & family members. I want this moment to be just between the bride & the groom. Yes, I will be there, so that’s when I stick on my zoom lens & back away as far as possible while still able to clearly see faces.

2 // Prep the Groom

Once the groom is in his spot, I tell him that his beautiful bride will be walking up behind him. I tell him that the bride will either be tapping him on the shoulder, hugging him from behind, or something else. I let her decide. I then tell him to either turn to the left or right, depending on where I’m standing. If I’m off to his right, I want him turning to his right so I can see his full expression. (I also tell the bride which direction I want the groom to turn.)

I then tell the groom to forget everything I said, & to focus purely on his bride.

I tell him it’s ok if he turns to the left, when I said right. This is their moment. I want them to be focused only on each other & not on the camera.

This usually means that the groom has to stand & hang out here while I go get the bride. That's ok. Guys' jobs on wedding days are to carry things when asked, & to wait.

3 // Pick MY Spot

If I'm shooting by myself, I need to pick a spot that will enable me to see both the bride & the groom well. My goal is to be at a 90­° angle when the groom has turned around. Sometimes this requires me running to a different spot if the groom didn’t turn as I anticipated.

If I have a second shooter, we position ourselves so I'm focused on one & she's focused on the other person. When the groom turns, we switch people. For example, if I'm focused on the groom as the bride walks up, I switch to the bride when he turns around.

4 // Let go of the moment

I then let go of the moment & put the action entirely in their hands. I let her walk up to him. I let him turn on his own. I let them hug, kiss, laugh, admire each other for however long they take. Then, when they are ready, one of them turns to acknowledge that I am there, & we proceed with their portraits. All in all, the whole process takes about five minutes.

5 // Don’t Ruin their moment

At one wedding, I had no choice but to stand about five feet away from the couple during their First Look because it was raining. I had given each of them their instructions, but because I wasn’t able to back way out of the picture (pun!) they couldn’t forget that I was there. So, instead of focusing on each other, the bride said several times as she walked up behind him, to make sure he turned to his left. While I really appreciated her dedicated-ness to my instructions, I felt like I ruined their moment.

6 // Learn from others

If you’re like me, you’ve probably second shot for other photographers a time or two. It’s always fun to see how others work firsthand & to learn from how they do things.

One photographer I’ve worked with in the past had a tendency to give her instructions to the bride & groom during the First Look. It was almost like she was directing a magazine photo shoot. Ok, she’s walking up behind you. Ok, Bride, tap him on his right shoulder. Groom, turn to your right. Now kiss! Great! 

I’ll be honest. This kind of bothered me. To me, she was taking away from the moment. It was no longer natural but very, very scripted. It was purely about the photographs & not the couple. 

On the other hand, some photographers like to stand so far away from the couple that you can’t even see expressions at all. I believe in happy mediums.

7 // Find your Rhythm to work quickly

These moments are so fun, but sometimes difficult to capture because they do happen so incredibly quickly & you can’t replicate them. Figure out your rhythm & come up with a plan of attack that works for both you & the couple.

9 things i've learned in 9 years of business as a wedding photographer

Nine years ago today, I photographed my very first wedding. I showed up to the church wearing heels & carrying my friend's Canon Rebel XTi camera & 50mm lens. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did my best to impress the church coordinator that I did. All I managed to do was put my foot in my mouth a few times.

No really, I did. To this day, I still think she thinks I'm a heathen.

Considering how lost & drowning I was in this thing called wedding photography, I still think that my first wedding went by fairly well. Sure, I made several technical & practical mistakes (did I mention I was wearing heels?!), & I was scared out of my mind, but I survived & learned many valuable lessons. On top of that, my clients seemed happy with what I gave them. So happy that they asked me back to the other daughter's wedding. (I made sure to wear flats to that wedding.)

Nine years & 75 weddings later, here I am. Never ever did I think this was what I would be doing with my life, but I am so happy I am. I was in grad school (two years after my first wedding) before it even dawned on me that one could make a living off of photography. I was in year four of my career before I realized it was even my career at all.

So, I have compiled a list of things that I wish I had known earlier in my career. Some of these pertain to owning your own business in general, some of them are wedding specific. Some of them are my preference only & may not be how anyone else likes to do things. Nevertheless, here we go *takes a deep breath*:

1 // draw lines when working from home & take breaks without guilt

Working from home is difficult when it comes to drawing that line between working & resting or doing personal work. I've been taking baby steps with drawing those lines & learning to be ok with those lines. For example, I try not to email clients after 6pm or on the weekends. That's a very small thing, but it drastically helps improve my concentration when I'm trying to finish editing a wedding & I'm not constantly checking back to see if a client responded to my question.

In the last two years, I've learned the hard way how my body responds to large amounts of stress. Without retelling the entire story, suffice it say that I needed to learn to be ok with taking a break. I have always been a night person, so I get a lot of my best work done late at night well after "business hours." Because I don't have to have conventional office hours, I am finally ok that. I don't feel guilty with going to the pool in the middle of the day or shopping on a Tuesday at 3pm because I know I'll be up until 1am editing photos in front of Netflix. 

2 // stay hydrated & exercise

I'm not the most active person, something else I'm really working on. It's so easy to sit in front of this screen working all day & not getting up & moving around. I had too many morning-after weddings where I felt like I got hit by a train, because my body wasn't used to moving. Yes, it still hurts, but not as much because I am exercising during the week. 

I'll also admit that I'm don't drink enough water. It's something that I have to remind myself to do, & more than once I've found myself close to dehydration or passing out during an outdoor wedding ceremony in July. 

3 // Take control (of the wedding day) if no one else can or will

This is one of the few items on this list where not everyone is going to agree with me, which is fine. I know some photographers like to purely be a fly on the wall on wedding days—they don't want any moment to be "scripted." I believe there is a balance between letting events unfold naturally & giving a few directional instructions to make sure something was captured or that it was captured in the best light. Some events are best left untouched, & others need a little bit of guidance. For example, I may ask you to pretend to put on lipstick, or pause while lacing up the dress, or angle your face to the window & adjust your posture ever so slightly for a more flattering angle. 

Considering that I am contracted to be at your wedding for a certain amount of hours, I also want to make sure we spend our time wisely. This means that sometimes I'll politely ask your bridal party to start getting dressed, or to politely remind the hair stylist that photos start in 20 minutes, or I'll politely ask guests loitering in the sanctuary to head towards the reception so we can begin family photos.

Do everything with a sincere smile & apologize for any inconvenience when necessary.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Should I Direct Wedding Days?
7 Tips for Photographing a First Look

4 // Never underestimate how long it will take to get somewhere

Anytime I'm planning a photo shoot or helping a bride come up with a wedding day timeline, I always stress the fact that driving to the reception or getting a group of girls in long dresses & high heels to walk even just one block to the church will take so much longer than Google Maps says.

For me on wedding days, I add at least 30 minutes to my driving time to any wedding. If Google Maps tells me it will take 1 hour, I expect that it will take me 1.5 hours. Twice I've gone to the wrong church, & once I thought the venue was 20 minutes closer than it was. Getting stuck behind a slow driver on a two-lane road, car accidents, road construction detours, stopping to fill up on gas, & grabbing a Subway sandwich for later can all add up.

5 // Wear proper/appropriate attire

I showed up to my very first wedding wearing high heels. Why did I think that was a good idea?! In my mind, I wanted to look professional, & I guess heels suggested professionalism. I never made that mistake again. I'm on my feet from 6-10 hours every wedding day, & am only sitting when I'm scarfing food down my face at the reception. #memoryfoamshoes

I prefer to wear pants because I'm running, bending, & squatting way too much. Unfortunately, we women are still fighting for pants pocket equality, so I like to carry a bag with plenty of extra pockets for anything I may need. Don't forget your sunscreen & bug spray for outdoor weddings.

RELATED ARTICLE:
What Should a Wedding Photographer Wear?

6 // Never rely on the wedding to feed you lunch & dinner

Yes, you may have told the bride's mother that you need one vendor meal at the reception, but the reception is hours away from now & there is no cheese & cracker platter in the bride's room. Not everyone thinks to provide finger sandwiches for the bridal party before the wedding, & I've gotten myself into a bind more than once with relying on that food. Late afternoon or evening weddings are a little bit easier to handle because I am usually not arriving to the wedding until after lunch. It's the midday weddings that can cause trouble.

If you're new to the wedding photography world, you don't realize how many calories you are burning. So, just because you ate breakfast three hours ago, you've practically been running a marathon since & you've gone through your nutrient supply. Make sure to keep power bars or a bag of nuts nearby. I like to get a foot long from Subway & save half of it for later, even if I plan on eating at the reception. My rule on wedding days is Calories don't matter, so eat up

 One wedding day according to my Fitbit.

One wedding day according to my Fitbit.


7 // Stay organized

This is a super broad statement, & I could talk forever about this, but I'll try to keep this short. Come up with an organization & work-flow system that works for you & stick with it. Modify as needed.

8 // Make a will or a step by step in case of an emergency

This one was hard to do, & difficult to talk about. My husband didn't like the idea of it at first, because of the "what if" it implied. I've read too many horror stories from other photographers who found themselves in very difficult positions & had clients waiting or relying on them. It then fell to their spouses or other family members to figure out where the photographer was with each client (planning phase, halfway through editing, etc.) & follow through with their contracts.

It took me about 3 months, but I now have a very extensively detailed Google doc shared with my husband & my parents outlining every aspect of my business. Every. Single. Part. It's so detailed it's painful. I told my mom that I wrote it for her to understand, & I laughed when she got a little offended. Well, mom, do you know how to use Photoshop? Her eyes got as big as dinner plates. Oh.

Don't forget to update it when things change. Glance through it every few months. You'll be surprised how quickly it can become outdated.

9 // Each client is a learning experience

Every couple is different. Every wedding is different. Never stop looking for those lessons & applying them to the next client.

should i direct wedding days? {for photographers}

To direct, or not direct?

Should you give step by step instructions to your couple when doing their first look? Should you move your subjects closer to the window? Or should you step back & not give any instructions whatsoever?

If you are new to the wedding photography world & are struggling with what to do, I have news for you. Most of those seemingly unscripted moments on a wedding day are usually given some guidance. 

It's up to the photographer to make it look natural.

So, we're back to the question: To direct, or not direct?

Well, to that, I say, Yes.

I'm a firm believer in giving guidance when necessary, & stepping back for other moments. Since wedding days have so many "moments" where this could be an issue, I've compiled a list of a few & briefly described how I handle those. 

bride getting dressed

Just because all of the bridesmaids may have been in a wedding before, they may know their duties as a bridesmaid, but they're not going to know what looks prettiest on camera (unless they're all knowledgeable photographers). For example, if you let "the zipping of the wedding dress" unfold naturally, chances are that that will happen in the darkest & clutteriest corner of the hotel room & will be over in a matter of seconds. 

DIRECT // As the bride is preparing to put on her dress, choose the corner you want to shoot in (if you're inside) & clean it up. Enlist the help of her bridesmaids to start clearing the area. Position the girls where you want them, & ask them to slow down the motion if they're going too fast. Prompt them to smile if they're concentrating too hard (lacing up a corset is hard work!) 

DON'T DIRECT // If they're laughing or tearing up, don't interrupt them. 

first looks

If you're unfamiliar with this term, First Looks mean that the bride & groom see each other before the ceremony. Since this is such a special moment, & as the photographer I'm one of the few witnesses, I want to make sure to make it as special as possible for them. 

DIRECT // Have a location picked out. Coordinate with your second shooter on a game plan (who is standing where, who is focusing on whom). Give loose directions to the bride & groom. THEN STEP BACK. I like to be far enough away so the bride & groom forget I'm there, but close enough to see facial expressions.

DON'T DIRECT // Once I release the bride to walk up to her groom, I stop talking. I might be tearing up, but I'm not talking. Actually, now that I think about it, when we're all in our places, I give a thumbs up for the bride to start walking towards her groom. No yelling Ok, go! This is an intimate moment & I don't want to ruin the moment. One photographer I worked with once shouted directions throughout the entire thing. To me, it suddenly felt like the set of a movie (in a bad way). The photos may have turned out just fine, but I knew that the bride & groom's minds were on the instructions being hurled at them.

RELATED ARTICLES:
4 Reasons You Should do a First Look {for brides & grooms}
7 Tips to Photographing a First Look {for photographers}

family photos

This is probably one of the more difficult parts of the day, just because it's not the most fun. Don't get me wrong, I value these photos so much for myself & for my couples! These are usually the first photos couples choose for their wedding album or big prints. They are so special!

DIRECT // You are going to have to direct this entire thing! Do yourself & your couple a favor by coming up with a list of photos (& names!) prior to the wedding day. That way, no one is wondering what to do. As you're adding people to the photos, make sure you can always see everybody's entire face.

toasts

It's not unusual for the speakers to be a bit nervous, so their first instinct is to stand as far away from the crowd as possible. But, in most cases, this means that they end up right in front of the DJ table. 

DIRECT // Before the DJ announces that the toasts will happen, I make sure to pull my speakers closer to the guests & away from the DJ (if they have a cordless mic) to get a cleaner & less distracting background. I also pull the bride & groom closer to the speakers if they're standing too far apart. I love getting all of them in the photo together if possible!

the first dance

Like the speeches, I pull the couple away from the DJ table if they're too close.

DON'T DIRECT! // I wanted to pull my hair out when one DJ GAVE THE BRIDE & GROOM STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS THROUGHOUT THEIR ENTIRE FIRST DANCE LIKE HE WAS DIRECTING THE CUPID SHUFFLE. That really did happen once. In my head I was screaming for him to shut up, but he didn't get the message. I want to say he was even circling them on the dance floor, but I may be misremembering. Not cool, DJ. Not cool. 

cutting the cake

It wasn't until I read a review one of my groom's wrote that I even realized I was doing this. He mentioned how grateful he was that I told them how to cut the cake. You're welcome! If you think about it, this is the first time you've ever cut a cake WITH SOMEONE ELSE, so of course you're not going to know what to do.

DIRECT // Position the couple behind/beside the cake. Give the knife to the groom in his dominant hand, place the bride's hand on top of his. Briefly describe how to cut the cake, then tell them to feed each other, either with forks or fingers. (Make sure a plate & napkin are within easy reach.) Then step back.

DON'T DIRECT // Let them actually cut the cake & giggle with everyone else when they struggle. It makes for great photos! It doesn't happen often, but I do get irritated when the coordinator or caterer steps in to cut the cake for them after they've made the first cut. If you're a coordinator reading this, please don't. They'll be laughing at themselves the whole time & the photos are always adorable.

send off

This is one of those things that most coordinators usually handle, so there's not too much left for you to do, other than take photos. However...

DIRECT // ...if you can remember to head outside before the crowds do, take note of how the car is oriented. Find the person with the keys & ask them to move it if necessary. (Maybe it's facing the wrong way, it's too far, it's too close, etc.) When the crowd heads outside, organize them if they're not in the best spot (scoot farther apart in case of sparklers, bring the lines closer to the car or closer to the light). I ask my couples to move swiftly (not too slow, but not too fast) down the line, & I ask them to stop & kiss about halfway. Most couples won't think to do that automatically, so a quick reminder before they leave helps. Don't let them start down the line until you're in your position. Give them a thumbs up or start the hip hip hooraying to send them on their way.

DON'T DIRECT // Again, step back. You've given your general instructions, so let them fly & see what happens. Sometimes the groom decides to swoop his bride up & carry her away. Sometimes the groomsmen rush the groom & dump bird seed down his shirt or pants. Sometimes the horse leading the carriage decides to start bucking. In all of those cases, get out of the way but keep snapping!

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what should a wedding photographer wear

I feel like this is one of those topics that everybody should already know the answer to, but I'm constantly astounded by horror stories from friends. Emily, you'll never GUESS what the photographer was wearing!? Sweatpants & a tank top...with cuss words on it! No, sir! Not aloud! I'm also amazed at how many people I work with at my weddings that have never been to a wedding before, so they may not know the etiquette.

So, just in case anybody is starting out with their first wedding, or are simply curious, read on.

shoes

I showed up to my very first wedding wearing high heels. Why did I think that was a good idea?! I guess in my mind, heels suggested professionalism. I never made that mistake again.

I'm on my feet anywhere from 6-10 hours every wedding day, & am only sitting when I'm scarfing food down my face at the reception, making my one trip to the bathroom, or driving between venues. I like to look cute & nice, but I need comfort.

For years, I wore the cutest black ballet flats I could find at DSW. I would wear them out, suffer through some blisters, & wake up the next day afraid to put my full body weight on my feet for fear they'd fall off.

Finally, I saw the light & bought the ugly shoes. I bought...memory foam. My world was changed. Yes, my feet still are little tired the next day, but it's no comparison. It's true that they're not the cutest shoes in the world, but they blend enough with my outfit that people aren't questioning my fashion sense. At least to my face.

Sketchers has a nice line of cute-ish black slip ons that I've found work nicely. (This is what I'm currently wearing.)

Save yourself the footache & buy the ugly shoes.

pants

I've long abandoned the notion of wearing a dress to a wedding when working because I'm constantly squatting or bending over for different angles. I've watched other photogs wear dresses all day, & I honestly have no idea how they do it. 

is white ok?

For the longest time, I thought I had to wear solid black because it was professional. However, after coming very near to passing out from heat strokes at a few weddings, I finally decided it was ok to wear a white shirt to a wedding, especially if it was an outdoor wedding. (Or, white pants & a darker top. Don't wear all white!) Texas summer heat is something to take seriously, & white makes sense. No one wants a passed out photographer. I think it's fine to wear colors as long as they're muted & neutral. I also like to avoid loud patterns or anything that could possibly draw attention.

bag

Because I switch so frequently between lenses, it's handy to keep them within easy reach. I also need to keep the printed out timeline, spare batteries, memory cards, & my phone with me, so a bag makes sense. Years ago, my friend introduced me to the Shoot Sac & I've loved having it by my side. While it technically has 6 pockets, it can only hold up to 3 big things (3 lenses, 3 flashes, etc.) at a time. Smaller/flatter items can be stored in the remaining 3 pockets.

I've only gotten frustrated with it when I was trying to hold 4 big items, but that's rare. I have my 3 go-to lenses, & one is usually on my camera.

Bonus, the cover/flap doubles as a lens wipe.

hair

This is totally up to you, but like I've mentioned before, I live in Texas & summer heat is real. My hair is up, back, & sprayed stiff. One time I tried wearing my bangs down at a wedding & I lasted 30 minutes.

watch

Most people are satisfied with just their phones, but I've found it so much easier to have a watch on. I used to hate watches (I'm not a huge bracelet person to begin with) but on wedding days I can make an exception. Besides, I don't have to worry about getting distracted by text messages or emails from other clients when I need to be focused on the now. It's also one less chance of me dropping it trying to get it out of my pocket.

extras: sunscreen & bug spray

Sunscreen doesn't need any explanation (again, Texas summers!), but wearing bug spray was something I learned the hard way.

A few years ago, I woke up the morning after a wedding with a whopping 97 mosquito bites, mostly concentrated on my ankles. Let me repeat that.

NINETY SEVEN MOSQUITO BITES.

Those little pests were even biting through my clothes. The three days following that wedding were pure agony with itching. At the following wedding, I wore mosquito repellent bracelets, even though I was on the top floor of a downtown sky-rise building. I was taking no chances.

pack an emergency kit

I have a little bag of small necessities that I keep with me during photo shoots & wedding days. It's saved me or my client a few times. In that bag is:

  • hair spray*
  • deodorant*
  • contact solution*
  • an extra pair of contacts
  • makeup (mainly powder)
  • mouth wash

* travel sized!

 

Most of the above is personal preference, so you do you. I knew a photog who was always sure to ask his clients what the dress code of their wedding would be. He would then wear jeans to a cowboy wedding, or a suit to a church wedding. He wanted to blend in.

Be comfortable. Be practical. Be professional.

But also:

  1. respect the bride & groom (like I said, no white dresses, please)
  2. respect the venue (especially if it's a church)
  3. blend in with the guests (for example, wear a tux if it's a black tie wedding)

what does a wedding photographer do all day?

What does a wedding photographer do when it's not a wedding day?

Unfortunately this is not a question I get asked a lot. The usual question is Are you doing a lot of editing? or Is editing keeping you busy?

While this is not a completely off-kilter question, especially considering we're in the middle of the spring wedding season, shooting & editing weddings is not what I do with most of my time. If I'm caught up on editing (which happens maybe once a year), I'm not sitting at home fiddling with my camera waiting for the weekend.

So when it's not a wedding day, what do I actually do, you ask? Besides being the CEO of a small business, I'm basically every other department & so much more.

I'm the Accounting department.

I keep track of any & all expenses so I can properly prepare & file my own taxes. Once a month, I'm recording all expenses & checking them against bank statements. During March & April, I may be a little slow with responding to emails, because I'd rather have you mad at me than the IRS. 

I'm the Social Media Manager.

I used to roll my eyes when I saw job posting for "social media managers." Surely, there is no way that is a full time job. Oh, how I was wrong! These past few months I've really made an effort to post more strategically. On Mondays, I'm planning out my social media blog posts for the week (thank goodness for apps like Buffer). I'm pulling my favorite photos from any & all recent weddings or photo shoots & publishing them on all social media platforms. I'm stalking every single vendor my clients used for their social media pages so I can tag them in any & all appropriate photos & blog posts. I'm writing informational blog posts like this one. 

I'm my own Personal Assistant & the logistics coordinator.

I'm reminding clients to schedule their photo shoots with enough time prior to their wedding. I'm offering suggestions for when & where we should do their photo shoot. I'm following up with those clients to make sure they acquired the appropriate permits for their photo shoot. I'm advising my clients on the most efficient wedding day timeline possible. I'm gathering their family members' names to formulate a shot list that doesn't keep everybody waiting 2 hours. I'm keeping track of products clients from 2 years ago have yet to pick out. (You know who you are.)

I'm the wardrobe expert.

When clients are planning their engagement or anniversary sessions, they're asking what to wear so they look & feel their best. What's the latest trend? What's a trend that should not be a trend? I don't like my arms, so how do I hide them? 

I'm the Marketing team.

Should I take out ads in print magazines & online postings, or keep things word of mouth only? Should I have a booth at a wedding show? Are my sample products up to date? Does my website adequately convey my photography style to potential brides & is the website easy to use?

I'm the Research & Development team.

Whether I'm researching psychology hacks to better phrase my instructions while on location to put my clients at ease, or researching new & better products to offer my clients, I'm constantly looking for ways to better my business. I want my clients to feel at home when they're with me. I want them to have the best products at their disposal, so they can showcase their wedding in the best light possible. When it's time to upgrade my gear, I'm looking for the best equipment at the best price.

I'm the fulfillment department.

When a client picks out their choices for their discs/USBs, their desired large print(s), or their choices for their album, I'm all over it as quickly as possible. For discs/USBs, I'm checking & triple checking that I pulled the correct 50 photos out of 146, then resizing, watermarking, & copying them to said disc/USB. For large prints, I'm pulling, sharpening, uploading, & ordering, making sure I have their current mailing address. For albums, keep reading!

I'm the design team.

I design all of my clients' albums. This entails pulling their desired photos & organizing them in such a way that tells the whole wedding day story coherently, which is no small feat when a client pick out 200 photos for a 10 page album. (The struggle is real, y'all. I had the same problem with my own album.) I make revisions when the client wants to rearrange a few things.

I also create custom cards & other printed products for my clients. Not every photographer offers design services outside of albums, so this is a little bit unique to me. I love helping my clients design their Save the Dates or wedding invitations. Starting in late October, I roll out my pre-designed Christmas card line & start taking orders for custom cards.

I do all of my own branding.

This covers everything from my website, to business cards, to customized disc cases or usb drives, to packaging, to photos published online–I want everything to consistently follow the brand I set up for myself.

I'm a go-to wedding expert with answers to the most random not-necessarily-photography related questions.

Since I'm usually one of the first vendors to get booked after a date is set, I am with brides through most of their engagement. I encourage them to come to me with any questions, photography related or not, & I love when they do! What material should the bridesmaids wear? If my venue doesn't allow sparklers, what other options do I have? What should I do with my purse during my engagement photo session? When should I change into my reception dress? Do most weddings have a fancy car send off & where do they find those cars? Do you recommend full face makeup even if I don't normally wear it? Where should we go for bluebonnet photos? How many people traditionally give toasts or speeches at the wedding reception? Can you give me vendor recommendations...for everything?

I'm the post office.

You guys have no idea how many trips to the post office I make a week. Both of my regular FedEx delivery guys knew me at my old apartment (both thought the senders got my address wrong when I moved down the hall–they tried delivering to the old apartment), & all of the workers at my favorite shipping store know me & have extreme patience with me when I bring my giant bag of crinkle cut craft packing material & make a mess. (I always clean it up.)

I'm constantly interviewing for jobs.

I'm answering all leads & inquiries. I'm organizing a time, date, location for initial meetings. I have to make sure my presentation stays up to date, & I can give my sales pitch (I hate calling it that, but let's face it, that's exactly what it is) as quickly & efficiently as possible while answering any & all questions. I'm following up on all meetings to put things in writing & to answer any additional questions. Sometimes I won't have a meeting for a few weeks, sometimes I have two in one day.

I edit all of my photos.

This is the #1 thing people think I'm doing with my time if it's not a wedding day. If I'm not shooting, I must be editing. While this is time consuming, it's far from the only thing I do! 

 

Did I start out doing all of this? No. Did I cover all of my hats? No. Does every wedding photographer do all of this? No. Could I outsource some or all of this? Yes. But, this is me & what I want to do. (Well, I don't want to pay self-employment taxes, but in order to stay out of jail I do.) I make things as difficult or easy as I want them to be.

My number one goal, though is to provide my clients with the best experience & the best photos I can deliver.