How I got the shot - Dress in the window

Name: Brittani McFadden

Business Name: Brittani Elizabeth Photography

Why did you take this photo?: I take a photo of the dress at every wedding and I alway strive to find a spot that is unique to the location or visually appealing.

All exif data: f 2.0, 1/160, ISO 1600

Why did you use these settings?: This was a super rainy day so it wasn't actually that bright outside. However I found a pretty well lit nook with all of the windows and was able to expose bright enough with these settings.

Thought process behind the photo: I always look for a spot to hang the dress that is not only SAFE, but also visually appealing and unique to the venue. We were at a manor house and it had this adorable indoor porch area just off the kitchen with the perfect hook for the dress. The only problem was that right below the bottom of the dress, there was a "restroom" sign. I took another walk around the venue and decided that I liked this spot enough that I would just plan to photoshop out the little sign. I took a few shots of the dress before realizing that the overhead lights on the porch were adding a really ugly yellow cast to the dress. I found someone to help me get all of the lights turned off so that I could get a clean shot of the dress. What I didn't notice right away were these super bright pink crates for glasses just on the other side of the window to the left. I realized that I couldn't move those so I fixed that while editing as well.

Editing of the photo: This shot required more than my usual editing, but with a dress that beautiful, why not? After eliminating the yellow cast from the lights while shooting, I already knew I would have to remove the restroom sign. I applied my preset to the photo, and ended up having to desaturate most of the reds/magentas because of those crates to the left of the window. You can still see a faint hint of pink on the grey of the windows, but it is a LOT better than it was! I also had to really adjust the chromatic aberration since the white dress was against an even brighter window. There was a green halo around the dress so I made sure to remove that before exporting. I then exported the final edit of the photo and took it into photoshop. Using the stamp tool, I edited out the restroom sign below the dress.

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Brittani Elizabeth Photography is a Philadelphia photography company and specialize in weddings and engagements! We focus on capturing light, timeless and prismatic images that reveal the true emotion of a wedding day! We currently shoot a majority of our weddings in Pennsylvania with most being in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Todoist 101: Rock out your to do list in the easiest way possible

I won't lie. It took me a hot second to figure out what sort of list tracker or project management/workflow tool would work for me. 

I tried regular ol pen and paper, notes app, google calendar, Trello...nothing was really working for me the way I needed it too. 

Until Todoist came into my life and everything changed. (so dramatic right?) 

So yes over a year ago a friend introduced me to Todoist and I have been using it religiously ever since. It is so minimal and does exactly what I need it to do which is why I love it. Its not hard to figure out to use although there is a slight learning curve that comes along with it. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles (which is why I think it doesn't get a ton of love out there in the creative business world) but it WORKS and it works well. 

So today I'm going to show you a bit about how I use it so you can determine if it may be right for you and if so, some tips and tricks to get you started!

And just as a sidenote....I am NOT an affiliate for them and am getting nothing at all for writing this blog post. I simply believe in sharing about amazing tools that work for my business. ;-) 

 
How do I use todoist? | Workflow and to do list software | Organization for my small business
 

Setting up your projects in Todoist

Todoist is basically one giant to do list that you can categorize, label and filter in lots of different ways. You can assign "tasks" to projects and then make them due on a certain date, add their priority level or label the tasks as well.

How you set up your projects will essentially be the backbone of your Todoist. Everyones projects might look a little different based on how they work and the type of work that they do, so use my examples to learn how the system works and then tweak to work for you! 

When setting up your projects, think about the areas of your business that require keeping track of and separate them out - color code and organize them in order of importance or alphabetical or however you prefer to see them in the list. 

 
How do I use todoist? Todoist for creative small business owners
 

For my projects I have things separated out based on the different areas of work that I currently do. I also have a Family project where I can keep things that don't really have to do with work but I still need a to do list for them. 

You can also have main and sub projects to make things easier to organize. So for example, I have a project for Wedding Clients and then underneath that are all of my current wedding clients as individual projects. 

 
How do I use todoist? | Todoist for creative business owners
 

How to add tasks in todoist

Once you have a project set up, you can then go through the process of adding tasks to that particular project. 

For the most part this is intuitive but there are a few hidden things that can make it easier to organize the tasks within your project. 

1 / You can move tasks underneath each other so you can have main and sub tasks in each project

This is helpful if you want to separate tasks out in groups throughout the cycle. For example if you had a wedding client you could have the MAIN tasks be something like: After booked, After wedding day, Album creation etc... and then each of those main tasks can have sub tasks underneath them. 

2 / You can move, label, set priority, add a date, or duplicate tasks by clicking the three dots next to the task (you can do more but these are the main things I find myself doing) 

3 / You can add a * in front of any task and it will remove the O in front of the task.

In Todoist, once you mark a task complete it marks all subtasks also complete and then removes it from the screen. If you want to continue to see that task on the screen then add the * in front of any task an it will remove the O so you can no longer mark that complete. 

4 / You can create a task list or work flow and then save it as a template. 

This is probably one of my favorite features in todoist! You can create an entire task list or workflow for a particular project (for example a wedding client) and then save that as a template so you don't have to recreate it for the next client. You simply export the project as a .csv and then import it into the new project when you are ready. This save SO much time and effort and allows you to generate new projects in less than 30 seconds. 

I also save a project folder of just my templates so I know right where they are and can use them at any point I need them. 

 
Setting up a template in todoist | using templates in todoist
 


Setting reoccurring tasks in todoist

Another one of my absolute favorite things about todoist is setting reoccurring tasks. You have the ability to set a task that you do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly (etc...) to come back up on your todolist at the right time.

THIS IS SO AWESOME YOU GUYS!!!

In the inbox section of my todoist, I have a task called "reoccurring tasks" and then I just add all of my reoccurring tasks underneath that, set the structure on how they are to reoccur and then that's it. I can deal with them when they come up. 

How you set a task to be reoccurring is to simply type the parameters in the task date. For example...you can type in "every Monday at 10am" or "the first of the month" or "every three months" etc...and viola! It just takes it from there! 

 
using reoccurring tasks in todoist
 

Sync with google calendar and then move to project

The last thing I want to mention about Todoist is the google calendar integration. This is another awesome feature that I looooove about Todoist. Although the calendar integration is only available if you upgrade, the upgrade is around $25 a year so it is well worth it. 

Integrating your google calendar means that tasks on your Todoist show on the calendar and vise versa. So if you add a calendar reminder it will show in your Todoist inbox and then you can assign it to a project from there. This just makes everything easier and you can see things all in one place. 

I absolutely love Todoist and am so glad I discovered it when I did. I actually wish I would have known about it sooner because this year has been absolutely one of my most productive. 

I hope you have found this post helpful in some way!! Even though Todoist looks and really is very minimal, you can do SO much with it to keep your tasks organized and on point so you don't drop the ball, forget parts of your process or leave clients hanging. I have really only scratched the surface in all that it can do! Visit the Todoist blog for more great tips and tricks on how to use it to best suit your needs!

And if you are looking for some pre-made Todoist workflows, I have a bunch included in The Supply Closet and have plans to add more in the future! Go download them and save yourself a TON of time!! 


Want even more great tips and tricks sent right to your inbox? Join the In Crowd for all of the fun! 

How I got the shot - Peek a boo

Name: Jennifer Larsen

Business Name: Jennifer Larsen Photography

Why did you take this photo?: On a wedding day I always love to sneak the bride and groom away from the reception for just a couple minutes of sunset portraits as husband and wife. This photo was taken during sunset time on Juliette and Juan's wedding day.

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: Sigma Art 50mm

All exif data: ISO: 160, Aperture: 1.8. Shutter: 1/250

Why did you use these settings?: I love to shoot with a wide open aperture, so that was my first go to setting. I also decided to under expose the photo in camera, to give some more lee-way in bringing back some highlight detail in post. I wasn't able to get a ton of detail, but you can see some of the clouds to give the sky a little bit more dimension and interest.

Thought process behind the photo: I was really hoping for a great portrait with this horse in the background. He was wandering around and walking in and out of our range for the first couple minutes of portraits. However, when we got a little closer to the fence for the photo, we realized he was very interested in her bouquet...trying to eat it that is. So, now that we had the horse's interest, I quickly posed them so the couple was ready as the horse walked into the frame. It only lasted a couple seconds before the horse started to climb the fence in attempts to get to the flowers. Haha

Editing of the photo:  I use Mastin Labs presets to give my images a film-like style. I used the Fuji 400H preset on this image, and brightened the exposure to the point where I liked the lighting on the couple. Then I brought the highlights back down to bring some detail back into the sky.

Bride and groom on farm with horse in the background

3 sentence bio about you/your business: My name is Jen, and I'm a southern-at-heart wedding and anniversary photographer serving New Jersey and beyond. I believe in hugging over handshakes, serving my clients with my whole heart, and that there is no such thing as too much coffee. I truly believe I have the best job in the world.

Let's connect! You can find me online here:  Instagram | Facebook | Website
 


Are you at the beginning of your photo journey? Want to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book that includes info on getting started! 

How to promote your blog posts without feeling like a salesman

You've done it. 

You've taken the time to sit down and get the thing written. 

You've figured out how to make a good looking, informative blog post and you got all the way through the writing and re-sizing of your images and your are ready to hit publish. 

But now that you are LIVE on the internet....what do you do next? How do you get this amazing content in front of peoples eyes in a way that isn't consistently screaming...look at me, look at me!!! 

 
how do I promote my blog posts?
 

Everything that goes along with sharing content that you have created starts with mindset. If you are in the wrong or misguided headspace around WHY you are sharing what you are sharing, it all becomes much more difficult. 

We are typically our on worst enemies. 

If you don't already have a blog strategy...I would suggest hitting up The Supply Closet and downloading my worksheet on how to create one. Having a strategy to begin with will not only help you create more and better content but it will take the ick factor out of sharing your content with the world. 

The intention behind your posts should be to serve, celebrate, inspire or encourage...when this is the intention, it feels less salesy to share the post

Once we have our mindset straight, let's think through sharing our newly crafted and published content from a timing perspective.

You have a few options when it comes to sharing.

  • Sharing the same day you publish
  • Sharing the content after you publish (days, weeks or even months after). 

Sharing on the same day you publish

Depending on the type of content you are sharing, a same day share can either be vital or not entirely necessary.

If you are sharing a photography session (wedding, engagement, family etc...) then part of your marketing efforts might be to get that post out as soon as possible to capitalize on the momentum and excitement of the session. So in that instant, sharing it out heavily on the day you publish might be of utmost importance. 

And I do still think that its always a good idea to share that fresh and newly published content out to all of your social channels, even if you are sharing evergreen content that will be relevant for days, weeks and months in the future. 

Depending on what social channels you have decided to focus on, there are various ways to share on each platform.  Within the blogging function on Squarespace, you can auto share to Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Pinterest right as the blog publishes, so you don't have to in and manually share to each one. 

 
Sharing your posts to social media through auto publish function on Squarespace 
 

Make sure you have a link to your blog somewhere in Instagram as well either through a specific landing page that you link through your profile or by using something like linktr.ee.

Instagram landing page on Squarespace 

Taking the time to actually caption your published posts on your social media also makes a huge difference. Give people a reason to go and look at the content, don't just share a "naked" link and hope for the best. Adding additional context and content around the published content shows your passion for what you are sharing and how it can be helpful for others. 

 
 

Another great way to get eyes on your newly published content is through your email list (if you have one). People miss a LOT on social media with all of the current algorithms etc...that are now in place. If people have signed up to hear from you, make sure you are sharing any new or fresh content that you are putting out.

Don't assume everyone knows what is going on in your business because trust me...they don't!! 

Sharing after you hit publish

Getting our heads around sharing our content well after it's been published can be a little more tricky. Blogging has changed IMMENSELY in the past few years and for a lot of small creative business owners, its really no longer about the daily post and "diary" style of blogging that was so popular even 5 years ago. 

If your business is NOT your blog, but your business HAS a blog to support your brand and marketing efforts, evergreen content will be of utmost importance to you.
The essence of evergreen content means that the date you publish it is irrelevant. 

So how can you make the most of your content? I'm glad you asked, I've got a few suggestions for you! 

Directly to your client

If you have taken the time to write up helpful content that will serve your clients, share those posts DIRECTLY with your clients. Either in the pre-booking or even in the after booking stage. 

Likely your clients have lots of questions that you can help them answer. Instead of repeating yourself over and over again in emails, send them links to your blog posts. Don't make them do the hard work of digging through your website to find the info, send it directly to them. 

On and throughout your website

One of my biggest pet peeves when visiting a creatives website who has great content is when they have made it super difficult to find or access. So often we as creatives choose pretty design over functionality and its hurting our businesses in the long run. 

Make things easy to find.

  • Incorporate summary blocks throughout your website in strategic places.
  • Link to popular or helpful posts in your sidebar.
  • Create an easy to navigate archive page.
  • Add a search bar to your website. 

Throughout your blog

Promote your blog throughout your blog. In every single blog post you should have at least ONE (if not waaay more) links to other blog posts. This is just one more additional thing you can to make things easier for your readers to find or access and will ultimately keep readers on your site longer and help them to know, like and trust you even more than they hopefully already do! 

Mindset and attitude is everything. Crafting and creating your content in a way that you know will be beneficial to your readers or clients will take away some of the hesitation around posting it. You aren't posting the content in a way that is saying "Look at me" you are posting it with an attitude of "look at them" or "here, this can help". That changes everything and allows you to push that publish button a little easier. 


Want even more great info right to your inbox? The In Crowd is where you need to be! 


How I got the shot - B&W Wedding

Name: Christina Sheehan

Business Name: Christina Julia Photography

Why did you take this photo?: Some of my favorite kinds of images to take are the quiet moments between all the hustle and bustle of a wedding day. I love capturing the Bride and Groom when they're laughing and moving around but it's those quiet moments that I really look for that I think just round out a portrait session. To me, those photos are the most tender and dear.

Camera: Canon 5d Mark iii

Lens: 85mm

All exif data: ISO 100
f / 2.8
1/200 sec

Why did you use these settings? : I usually underexpose my images while editing so even though the day was cloud covered and rainy I knew that keeping my ISO at 100 was where I wanted to be to give me the desired effect. I tend to shoot 90% of a wedding day at f / 2.8, there's something about that the creaminess that I get and my couples stand out ability against the bokeh that really lends itself to the style I like. Knowing these two pieces basically right away I was able to fit my shutter speed in without much thought and because my subject wouldn't be moving much I didn't have to toggle with my settings that much more to get what I wanted.

Thought process behind the photo: I knew I wanted to shoot from a slightly more elevated level than them so when we found ourselves on the steps of the historic Second Bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania I knew it would provide the perfect set up I needed for the shot. I like to allow my couples to be themselves, act themselves, and show their personalities while I shoot them. I find that too much directing takes away from those pieces and doesn't genuinely showcase my couples in the way that they naturally interact. For this photo in particular I just wanted Dayana to relax and mold herself against Kevin in her own way. I gave her a slight direction to just slide up to him and just rest. Her final position and facial expression was what she naturally fell into and it was in those moments that I captured this image. The look of contentment and happiness on her face is exactly what I was hoping to capture.

Editing of the photo: I knew almost immediately that I wanted to put this photo into black and white. I use black and white a lot in my photo editing and it's something I think my couples come to know and expect from me. They're a huge part of my story-telling in a gallery and have this way of really memorializing moments in time. I typically tend to bring down my blacks and shadows and only slightly toggling with the exposure if I need to. One of my musts when editing a black and white is grain. I also use grain in my color editing but during a black and white edit I am more specific about how much I like visible. To me, grain adds this rawness that I feel compliments those authentic moments during my sessions so it's very important for me to get it just right.

How I got the Shot - black and white photo of bride and groom

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Hi, I'm Christina and I'm a wedding, portrait, elopement, and destination wedding photographer specializing in authentic, lovely, intimate, and documentary style captures! I love capturing couples who believe holding hands is the best medicine, laughing out loud keeps the doctor away, and snuggles aren't just for rainy days. I'm fueled by coffee, tacos, and a book to keep me energized while meeting new people and exploring new places!


Are you at the beginning of your photography journey? Looking to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book on 30 steps to starting your own photography business! 

How I got the Shot - Groom Getting Ready

Name: Brittani McFadden

Business Name: Brittani Elizabeth Photography

Why did you take this photo?: I took this photo to document the "groom prep" at a wedding.

Camera: Nikon d750

Lens: 50mm

All exif data: fstop 2.2, 1/250, ISO 1250

Why did you use these settings?: As much as I love a ton of bokeh, I've learned that I love crisp photos even more. I took this photo with the 50mm because we were in a relatively tight area, but I knew I didn't want the wide distortion of the 35mm. We were just inside a set of large glass doors that lead outside so I didn't need a super high ISO, but still wanted a bright exposure so I landed at these settings.

Thought process behind the photo: I had already captured the groom putting his jacket on and this was his second time putting it on (he needed to adjust his vest). So I knew I didn't want to capture the same exact thing twice. Instead he perfectly adjusted this jacket while looking out the door, and this was the result! This location was actually a hallway that guests enter to go to the reception. I've shot at this venue a lot and the groom's room is so dark and really unflattering so I knew I needed to bring him somewhere that was more neutral with way better light. I walked out of the room into this hallway and saw the perfect blank wall next to the wall of glass doors! Sometimes changing the location slightly makes all the difference!

Editing of the photo: There wasn't too much that I did in addition to my normal preset. I usually bring down the highlights a little and bring up the blacks. This was a super simple edit since there wasn't really anything I was trying to work around!

image of groom putting on his jacket getting ready for his wedding

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Brittani Elizabeth Photography is a Philadelphia photography company and specialize in weddings and engagements! We focus on capturing light, timeless and prismatic images that reveal the true emotion of a wedding day! We currently shoot a majority of our weddings in Pennsylvania with most being in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter


Are you at the beginning of your photo journey? Want to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book that includes info on getting started!

Same location, three looks | Wide, medium and tight

Posing subjects is probably one of the most difficult parts of photography (well at least for me anyway!) Knowing what makes the body look good (read Roberto Valenzuela's Picture Perfect posing for that...) and then directing someone into those positions is something that just takes time and practice. 

 
Same Location 3 Looks.jpg
 

What I tend to do when I'm at a session and my mind goes completely blank as for what to do next, my instinct is to move locations. However, you are already in a great location, with (hopefully) great light!! Moving to another location (not to sound dramatic) puts that at risk. Varying up what you shoot in the location you are already in is a much easier way to achieve different "looks" for the client without moving much at all from the location they are in. 

Simple changes in pose, plus incorporating different perspectives in your focal length and composition can dramatically change the look of the photos and the client literally doesn't have to move their feet one inch!


In this first set of three images, I used an 85mm 1.8 (my fave for portraits) and scooted way back so I could get a full body shot of Chelsea. I had her stand a bit off of the wall to create some depth and directed her to have some separation in her legs, had her at an angle to the camera and also a bend in the elbow. 

Then I got in closer, incorporated her awesomely fun hat and had her simply switch the way her body was positioned and look down to her shoulder. This was my medium shot incorporating almost all of her body, but not a full length like I had just taken.

Then I got even closer and directed her again to move slightly and give me that amazingly beautiful smile of hers and got a nice tight shot of just her face with a strong rule of thirds composition. 

In this next set of images, we just happened to walk by this gorgeous white door and concrete stairs and I knew we had to stop. The natural reflection of the concrete paired with the simple, elegant background of the white doors plus her delicious oxblood sweater was a match made in photography heaven! 

These were also shot with my 85mm and for the first shot I had her right in the middle of those rails for a nice, wide center composition.

I moved closer again and had her pose slightly different and went in for my medium range shots from about the knee up. 

And then we got that hat again and got in nice and close for a tighter shot with a lot of expression. 

These last set of shots, we incorporated her beautiful jacket that she got as a recent gift for her birthday. Again, I knew that jacket against that clean background would just POP. 

I got a full body, mid length and closer shot again of her in her jacket for additional variety. 

There were many more photos as well from this set of images, but I just wanted to highlight how easy it can be to get tons of choices and lots of variety without moving locations or drastically changing the pose. Simply moving your feet (if you use primes) or zooming in or out can create very different looks all from one simple pose! 

I hope you found this helpful and that if you are struggling with creating variety during your client sessions, you can use this technique to get different looks without changing things up and moving locations! 

Any questions? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you. ;-) 


Want even more awesome stuff coming right to your email inbox? Easy peasy! Just join the In Crowd and all your business dreams will come true ( <----Napoleon Dynamite anyone?) 

How I got the Shot - Pittsburg Rooftop

Name: Tyler Norman

Business Name: Tyler Norman Photography

Why did you take this photo?: This photo was taken for some great friends in Pittsburgh, PA. They wanted to shoot in Downtown Pittsburgh, but have it be different than everything else you see online from Downtown Pittsburgh. So we did a little urban exploring and ended up on top of a roof of a 25 floor building! We definitely were not supposed to be here! haha We ended hopping over the railings and venturing over to the edges with the best views. This was for sure a vantage point that no one had seen before. We ended up doing most of their shoot on top of this building. At one point the security guard came up and was more interested in the shoot and gear than us being on the roof and gave us permission to stay! How about that?! Pretty rare that happens!

Camera: Canon 5D mark III

Lens: 35mm 1.4L

All exif data: f/1.4, 1/1000s, ISO 100. Natural light about an hour before sunset.

Why did you use these settings : No intentional reason for these settings other than I love to shoot at 1.4 with my 35mm. At 1.4 it has such an ethereal and 3D look. So i always try and get my setting to work for 1.4 if I can.

Thought process behind the photo: I wanted a romantic feel but also a calm feel and not a lot of movement because they were sitting on the edge of a 25 floor building. Like inches from the edge.....no thanks! haha. So I told them to just take a moment, enjoy each other. Mike ended up kissing his fiancé on the cheek and I hit the shutter just at the right time.

Editing of the photo: thats a secret! ;) but not much. A little to hue and saturation, contrast, highlights. I do not like to edit photos too much. Keep it clean, simple and natural. I try very hard to get it right in camera to minimize the editing I have to do. I have several presets I have made that make my life so much easier!

engaged couple in sweet moment on rooftop in pittsburg, pa

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Tyler Norman Photography is a Pittsburgh, PA wedding photographer who loves timeless, genuine photography. 

Facebook | Instagram 


Are you at the beginning of your photo journey? Want to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book that includes info on getting started!

Backlight Basics | How to get those dreamy backlit shots

As a photographer, its important to learn about all different types of light. Everything in photography revolves around light. What kind of light do you have available? How will the camera read and record the light in the scene? Where are the highlights and where are the shadows? Do you need to add or subtract light? 

Essentially everything starts with light and goes from there. One of my absolute favorite ways to shoot is into the backlight, so today...we are going to go deep into backlight and how to master those shots every time. 

  • What makes it so dreamy?
  • How to achieve the "glow"
  • Important considerations when attempting to shoot into the backlight
  • Pitfalls to avoid
 
Backlight Basics.jpg
 

WHAT IS BACKLIGHT?

The technical definition of backlight is:

verb (used with object), backlighted or backlit, backlighting
2. to illuminate (something from behind.)

Pretty self explanatory right? The LIGHT is in the BACK (or behind) your subject. 

A common misconception from many people who don't understand the technicality of photography or lighting (as was mine when I first started) is that the more light the better. In reality, the direction of the light is much more important than the amount of light you have available.

Shooting into the backlight often results in photographs that tend to be warm and "glowy" because the light is literally wrapping itself around the subject. 

HOW TO SHOOT INTO THE BACKLIGHT

Shooting into the backlight or shooting in backlight situations can tend to get a little tricky. Although it does take quite a bit of practice, once you figure out a rhythm of how to set up your shot, how to expose correctly and what situations to look for, you will be shooting successfully backlit photographs consistently. Shooting backlit scenes quickly became one of my favorite things to do and I find myself constantly looking for areas and locations that would work well for backlit shots. 

Some things you need to take into consideration when attempting to shoot backlit photos:

Time of Day

The time of day is essential for backlit photos. In order for the light to be coming from behind the subject, the sun has to be lower in the sky. When the sun is high in the sky, its almost impossible to put the sun behind your subject because...well, no one is that tall! Shooting in the early morning or in the few hours before sun sets is the absolute best time to achieve backlit photos. 

You can see in this photo below of my stepson and his (then) girlfriend that the sun is lower in the sky although its not completely at the horizon. The sun is behind and to the right of them (you can tell from the direction of the shadows on the ground.) 

Diffusion

One of the things that making shooting into backlight tricky is that when you put the sun behind your subjects, you are then directly facing the sun. Anyone who has pointed a camera in the direction of the sun knows that sun flares and haze are often the immediate result. However, if you have the ability to diffuse the light by using objects in the environment, you can get the shot without a distracting flare or haziness on the images. Trees work really well for diffusion as well as taller buildings or other natural elements. A scrim or reflector can also work to diffuse light if you are positioned in a way where the sun is hitting your lens directly. 

Sometimes flares end up in photos anyway and often times they can add a really beautiful element to a photo! Other times they can look out of place or distracting. In the photo below I caught a slight flare that ended up right on Mary's leg. Its not horribly distracting in this image, but sometimes lens flares look incredibly out of place and awkward. While the sun was lower in the sky I placed Trevor and Mary here for a couple of reasons. I wanted the sun to filter through those trees because I knew it would give me some beautiful bokeh. I also knew I could position myself in a way where the sun would be directly behind one of the tree trunks so as to cut down on any potential flare. The neutral colored sand also added a great natural reflector. 

Natural Reflectors

Speaking of natural reflectors...when shooting into the backlight, they are imperative. When a very bright light source is coming from behind your subject, depending on how you expose the photo, your subject can end up looking really flat, under exposed and muddy. If you don't have light bouncing back up on to them, your dynamic range will be too great and you will have difficulty achieving a well exposed and pleasant looking photograph. 

Its for this reason that I attempt to find lots of natural reflectors when shooting outside and especially in the backlight. For the below photo, the sun was low in the sky and to the right creating some beautiful filtered light behind them. The concrete path bounced light back up on to their bodies and faces thus creating a beautifully lit photo of both the subjects and the background. 

Background

Despite the fact that light always trumps background, taking the background into consideration for your backlit photos is never a bad idea. When scoping out your session location, look for dense areas of foliage or leaves next to more sparse areas. Pay attention to how the light falls across whatever elements you are considering for your background. 

Isn't Mary just stunning? This photo works so well, not only because Mary is beautiful and radiant, but the glow and warmth of of everything surrounding her just lends itself to the expression on her face. The bokeh mixed with the neutral green and gold tones along with the way the light is filtering through her hair ads complexity, depth and texture. She was standing on a concrete pavement so there is nice light bouncing back on to her face and she has a gorgeous little catchlight in her eye. The exposure on her face is not competing with the exposure on the background. 

Camera Placement/Lens Flare 

Although I mentioned this briefly above, when shooting into the backlight you have to pay special attention to exactly how you place yourself in relation to your subject. In the below photo of Ashley, I distinctly remember struggling to avoid flare. I ended up placing myself right on the edge of the shadow that the building was casting in order to get her right in between the sun and my lens. I did not use a reflector to bounce light up into her face in this photo and she was standing on some grass, so the difference in exposure between her face and the highlight on her hair is on the verge of being to far apart. If I would have brightened her up some, I would loose detail in her hair (much of which is already lost). I still love this photo because I love her expression and the happiness and warmth, its just an example of how not having even a little bit of light bouncing on to your subject can affect the overall end result of the photograph. 

And a few things to keep in mind when attempting to shoot into the backlight....

  • Try to avoid pointing your camera directly at the sun. This may seem like common sense, but when you are positioning your subject with the sun behind them and then pointing your camera at them, it happens more than you know. I don't think small amounts of time pointing at the sun will completely damage your lens, but better to be safe than sorry. 
  • Make sure you have something available to bounce light onto your subject. If a natural reflector is not available, use a regular reflector to bounce some light back onto your subjects face. It can be difficult if you are shooting alone but you'd be surprised how often you can get others to help you. And kids LOVE the reflector, they think its just the coolest thing ever. Sometimes I break it out and have one of the older kids just hold it even though we might never end up using it at the shoot. 

I hope these tips and tricks encourage you to go out and practice shooting into the backlight. It is honestly one of my favorite types of shots to capture and I can't wait to see what you come up with! 


Want even more awesome tips sent directly to you so you don't miss a thing? Join the In Crowd! 

How I got the Shot - Details

Name: Brittani McFadden

Business Name: Brittani Elizabeth Photography

Why did you take this photo? : No wedding day is complete without a gorgeous ring shot right?! We captured this photo of all three rings for our couple to see the tokens they selected to symbolize their commitment

Camera: Nikon d750

Lens: 105mm f2.8

All exif data: fstop 5.6, 1/160, ISO 1600

Why did you use these settings? : I was indoors by a window so I knew I needed a higher ISO to get as much light in the photo as I wanted. I also know from experience the lower f-stop I shoot with on a macro lens, the harder it is to get the WHOLE ring in focus. So I always start with as high of and f-stop I can manage with the lighting situation. I usually prefer to shoot with a shutter speed above 1/200 so as to avoid shake, but I needed to let in a little more light and landed with this shot at 1/160.

Thought process behind the photo: We were in a relatively dark hotel room with one main window and not only yellow walls, but also red walls, with blue accents. None of these colors were colors in the wedding so I knew I needed to find a neutral spot to take details. I found a side table with a glass top (and took the lamp and phone off of it :P) before scooting it closer to the window. I placed the rings on the table and tested a few shots, but I could see that darn yellow wall. I added the veil in the background to create a more neutral photo to highlight the rings!

Editing of the photo: : I really didn't do much additional editing to this photo other than my normal presets. I generally bring down the highlights and bring the darks up a little. I did desaturate the yellows and some of the reds to make sure I didn't have any color casts from those walls.

diamond engagement ring, wedding band and grooms band sitting on a mirrored surface

3 sentence bio about you/your business: We are a Philadelphia photography company and specialize in weddings and engagements! We focus on capturing light, timeless and prismatic images that reveal the true emotion of a wedding day! We currently shoot a majority of our weddings in Pennsylvania with most being in the Philadelphia suburbs. 

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter


Are you at the beginning of your photo journey? Want to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book that includes info on getting started!

How I got the Shot - Pink Ring

Name: Cassi Claire

Business Name: Cassi Claire Photography

Why did you take this photo?: I LOVE ring shots! I photograph the details as soon as I arrive to a wedding day, and I was especially excited for Will & Shirley's details because they were all so colorful and fun! I brought this pink ombre watercolor paper from Rifle Paper Co. with me because I knew the color would perfect match Shirley's vision. I used a chair to prop the paper up and create a sort of mock studio. I left about 8-10" between the ring and the paper background, and then faced the chair towards the window light. I like to keep the subject about two feet away from the window so it produces a nice even light, as opposed to very harsh directional light.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III

Lens: Canon 100mm 2.8L

All exif data: f/4.5
1/200
ISO 1600
Natural light

Why did you use these settings?: I try to never go below 1/200 with my macro (to reduce blur). I knew I wanted to capture more detail in the ring, so 2.8 just wasn't cutting it. I bumped it to 4.5, but that meant increasing the ISO. Thankfully the Mark III can handle 1600 ISO really well!

Thought process behind the photo: Same answer as the "why did you take this photo" question!

Editing of the photo: Just my usual basic edit and a bit of sharpening on the surface of the diamond and prongs!

gorgeous diamond wedding ring and band on pink surface

3 sentence bio about you/your business: We're a husband and wife team based in New Jersey. Together, we believe in marriage vows, grace in love, kitten therapy, and eating sushi at least once a week! xo, Cassi & Chris

Instagram | Facebook 


Are you at the beginning of your photo journey? Want to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book that includes info on getting started!

Does blogging on Squarespace Suck? 6 reasons why it doesn't

Ok, ok, I know my title might be a little intense...but it got your attention right? Sometimes there is freedom in just saying what everyone is collectively thinking instead of dancing around the subject. Is Squarespace a bloggers nightmare? The answer may surprise you! 

Wordpress may be king of the blog-o-sphere and I have nothing against it, I think it's a fabulous platform for any website or blog, HOWEVER, if you prefer the Squarespace look and feel AND you still want to have an active, successful and GROWING blog...you CAN! 

I'll admit, when I first started on Squarespace I was kind of off-put by the alleged limitations of the blog functionality. I was used to Wordpress and felt slightly handcuffed by Squarespace. But the more I learned about the platform and all it had to offer, I realized that blogging on Squarespace is actually pretty awesome. Let's chat about why! 

IT'S INCLUDED

The thing about Squarespace is that it's a website platform that is really all inclusive. No separate hosting, no buying your domain somewhere else, no linking a blog from a different platform. All of that just complicates things. Its kind of like the Apple of the website platform world. Sure you may not be able to add crazy customizations, but you know what? It WORKS.

Seamlessly.

You can build your website and then choose to include the blog or not. If you want to include it, you pretty much just put it in your nav bar and start blogging. Its all in one and the look and feel of your website stays the same and because its all tied together, your SEO increases. #Winning. 

BLOG SIDEBAR

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you KNOW I am a fan of the blog sidebar. This ONE tool gives you so much more opportunity to help your readers find information they want and keep them around your site longer. You can showcase yourself, your social media, a search function, popular posts, you name it...you can pretty much add in whatever you want and it simply enriches the experience of your reader. 

My number one pet peeve of blogs is when they don't have helpful sidebars. Not being able to find info on a blog or in the archive of that blog is an instant reason to click out and go on to something else. 

Although not all of Squarespace's templates include a sidebar functionality, a lot of them do. A list is included in this post! 

SUMMARY BLOCK

Again, another favorite feature. In Wordpress there are some plugins that you can add that will pop in related posts at the end of your blog posts and until I discovered the summary block, I thought that this was a serious limitation of Squarespace blogs. But once I discovered the ease of putting a summary block in at the end of your post and specifying what types of posts you want to show in that block, my world was ROCKED. 

Now I could show readers similar content that they might want to read right at the end of the post they got through. I could organize my archive page to look GOOD. Even though some may say that a huge limitation of the summary block is that it doesn't show random selections (it will pull in by most recently posted) that doesn't bother me so much. I'd rather have some control over what exactly is shown by using a robust category and tag system. 

Related Post: 4 Uses for the Squarespace Summary Block

DRAG AND DROP

The same reason I find Squarespace so user friendly overall, is one of the same reasons blogging on Squarespace is a breeze. Its a WYSIWYG system that you can "see" as you build. No complicated coding that you have to decipher. No windows that you write in and when you preview the screen it looks totally different from where you just were. 

You simply build the post and it looks just like it will live. 

You can see how your headers will look, how your images will show, any special elements that you add in like lines or graphs or videos or....? They all show right on the screen in the same way they will show once the post is live. 

Real life example: I have a friend who I worked with recently to switch her photography site over to Squarespace. She felt intimidated by the change and was really worried she wouldn't be able to seamlessly pick up how to use it. I built the site and then showed her the basics of how to build a blog post and within one week, she had written about 20+ blog posts!!! She never really even blogged before and now she is a blogging machine! The Squarespace system is simple and intuitive and even if you feel you are "technically challenged" you can still blog like the wind! 

SEO

Blogging in general will consistently help your site to be better optimized for search terms, but to go back to my last point, when blogging becomes more simple and less of a headache, you want to do it more!  

You can easily add descriptions to your images and galleries, you can add keyword rich URL's that are different from your actual title, you can utilize a header structure with your content to make sure your info is robust and organized and the list goes on and on...

Coming soon! ---> My ebook on DIY SEO for Squarespace! 

NO PLUGINS FREAKING OUT

Ok so if you have never used Wordpress, you will have no idea what I am talking about, but let me tell you when I used to blog on Wordpress I always felt like something was on the brink of breaking or completely wigging out on me. 

Since plugins are open source and created by all sorts of different people, they don't always play perfectly with the wordpress system. But the plugins are essentially what makes your site customized and lookin' good. You really can't operate without them. 

However, since most of the plug-ins are third party there are constant issues with them. They are being updated, or they have a bug, or something just doesn't work and you constantly get messages and error messages and they honestly are not that easy to understand unless you are a tech guru or Wordpress expert. Its stressful and time consuming if something actually breaks. 

With Squarespace that pretty much all disappears. Squarespace keeps an eye on the plugin market and makes updates based on the most popular. The updates are all in house so if something improves, it just benefits you instead of terrifying you that your website will be wonked out and you have no idea how to go about fixing it. 

Some people are so used to plugins and hate the idea of not being able to utilize them, but I am not one of those people. I love how robust the offerings of Squarespace are already and if you DO absolutely want something changed or altered, custom CSS is always an option!

So there you have it! Blogging on Squarespace does not have to limit you. Even though Squarespace wasn't created specifically for blogging, they have really done a lot of work to improve the blogging functionality within the system. I love it and I think you will too!!

How I got the shot - The Groom

Name: Andrea Brewster

Business Name: Andrea Brewster Photography

Why did you take this photo?: Nothing fancy here! It was a November wedding and the bride and groom chose to do a First Look. This was the groom's individual portrait during their formals time.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark lll

Lens: Canon 24-70mm 2.8L ll USM

All exif data: ISO 400 1/200 sec at f3.5
24-70 at 70mm, no flash

Why did you use these settings?: I prefer the 70-200 on an individual portrait. However, that lens requires you to be a minimum of 4 feet from your subject to be able to focus. I didn't have the space to back up, so switching to the 24-70 at 70mm enabled me to get what I was wanting. Also, I normally would have shot this image at f3.2, but I knew my lenses needed calibration. So I shot it at 1/200 and 3.5 to help take the worry out of if it would be in focus or not.

Thought process behind the photo: I rarely find a groom that is excited about portraits, especially when it's just him. As a mom of all boys I get it. In the consult I tell them to leave it me and I promise they'll look good! I call this my "David Beckham." When I ask the groom if he wants to look like David Beckham, I usually get, "you can do that?" I tell them to stand straight facing me and unbutton all buttons on their jacket. Then I have them completely turn their entire bodies about 45º right or left. Separate their feet in a casual, "hey man what's up" stance. Then the important part: I have them turn ONLY their shoulders back towards me and lean slightly forward. Finally I ask them to button and unbutton their jacket a few times, while looking at me, and also looking out. I always show the groom the image after and then he's totally on board for anything after that! If you can make a groom feel awesome and comfortable, it overflows onto everything else! This pose executes this really quite fast.

Editing of the photo: I'm not a heavy editor. I like it clean and as bright as I can can get without losing any detail. I try really really hard to get it right in camera and this is a great example where that happened. Exposure +.10, Contrast +10. I definitely open up shadows quite a bit on my images and adding a little contrast helps keep it looking A-okay when I do that! I'm also obsessed with greens in an image and always adjust the luminance in my greens. And that's it!

Groom in a blue suit and a pink tie smiling at the camera

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Arizona wedding photographer since 2009. As a non-25 year old photographer, I bring something totally different to the experience... A piece of mind on a brides wedding day (like a favorite aunt), managing timelines and people quite well, and we can't leave out I'm the bomb at homemade bread and jam. But the best part about me is my rockstar of a husband and being a mom to all boys! #boymom


Are you at the beginning of your photo journey? Want to start your own photography business? Grab my FREE e-book that includes info on getting started!

The ins and outs of the squarespace blog sidebar

Its no surprise that I'm a fan of blogging on Squarespace despite its perceived shortcomings out there in internet land. Wordpress may be the giant Wal-Mart of blogging, but I'm pretty sure that Squarespace its on it's way to being the next Target. Clean, easy to navigate, great customer service and Starbucks! (wait, that's just Target...) ;-) 

I blogged with Wordpress for a few years before starting my photography business and switching everything over to Squarespace. While I felt limited with the Squarespace blogging platform initially, now I feel like the possibilities that have a really great blog through Squarespace are endless. And the BEST thing about all of it, is that it is just so easy to use. The platform is so intuitive and simple which takes a lot of the pressure out of blogging in the first place. 

The blog sidebar is something I have always been huge fan of since I first started out on my blogging endeavors. I loved the idea of having a space somewhere on the page to make it easier for readers to search for other content, learn a little more about me, find social media links, sign up to subscribe and to add some contrast and interest to the page in general. Typically I have been a fan of a left and right sidebar design, but the more I am learning about blogging and long content form etc...the more I like to have as much info as possible down the one side of the page to continue giving my readers something else to click on despite where they are on the blog article. 

Lets take a look at the blog sidebar options within in Squarespace as well as how to create one, how to add items to it, and what you want to make sure to include if you are interested in growing and maintaining a loyal readership!  

 
Squarespace blog sidebar
 

TEMPLATES THAT OFFER A SIDEBAR OPTION

Its important to note that not ALL Squarespace templates offer a sidebar option on their blog. The following templates are ones that DO include a blog sidebar option. 

***This list is as of June 2017. Squarespace does change things on occasion and may add templates in the future that offer a sidebar. If you do run across a template that offers a sidebar option and I do not have it listed above, please let me know in the comments so I can update the list!

HOW TO ADD A SIDEBAR TO YOUR BLOG 

If you are using one of the above templates and do not currently see a sidebar on your blog, you need to go into your Style Editor to enable the sidebar to show. 

Once you have enabled the sidebar to show on either the Left or Right side of your blog page, you will see an option to edit the Sidebar once you are back in your pages view. 

EDITING YOUR BLOG SIDEBAR

Once you start editing your blog sidebar, you will notice that it works similarly to a page. You will see insert points appear on hover and then when you click on an insert point you will be able to add content. 

This is where you can really let your creativity shine. You have the ability to showcase older content, provide a search functionality, link to other pages on your website or external content, you can direct readers to sign up for a newsletter or let them know of upcoming events. You can direct them to links to your categories or tags, show them your Instagram or Twitter feeds...the options are endless! 

Well, maybe not ENDLESS, but you get what I mean right? 

LINKING TO CATEGORIES THROUGH IMAGES

One of my favorite ways to add some interest and color to my sidebar is to link to different blog post categories through images instead of just the standard word links that you see so often on blogs. They might look a little something like this: 

Or linking to the dreaded TagCloud (which I personally can't stand, if you couldn't tell) ;-) 

HOLY MOLY that hurts my eyes!!! 

Instead including some branded images that will link through to your categories can be a more pleasing way to highlight more posts in that particular category 

 
 

I created these little images in Illustrator to fit in with my branding and logo and then added them to the sidebar through an image block with a link to my "blogging" tag. I didn't add them for ALL of my categories or tags, just for the few that I want to highlight. 

Squarespace sidebar

Looking for some category buttons, but don't want to go through the hassle of designing your own? I've got some category button templates ready to go for you in the Supply Closet! There is a video as well that shows you how to customize them to your own branding colors. #WINNING!!

I hope this post has given you some ideas about how to incorporate a blog sidebar into your current blog or if you already have one, I hope it gave you some ideas to pump it up and make it something that fits in with your branding and strategy for blogging. 

And if you aren't into reading through instructions, here is a little video about how to do all of this step by step! 

Any questions at all?! Feel free to email me or comment. I look forward to hearing from you!