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


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 


Interested in submitting a photo for the How I Got the Shot series? Review the submission guidelines and submit a photo you think we could all learn from! 

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


Interested in submitting a photo for the How I Got the Shot series? Review the submission guidelines and submit a photo you think we could all learn from! 

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! 

how to blog in squarespace | Creating a Client Post

Having extensive experience blogging in both Wordpress and Squarespace, I've got to tell ya, blogging in Squarespace just wins for me. On Wordpress I lived in a constant state of worrying that I was going to break something (mostly because I completely clueless on how the system worked, despite my best attempts at learning.)

With Squarespace it's the exact opposite. I find the blogging platform to be streamlined, easy and intuitive and today we are going to be talking about how to easily build a client blog post to show off your work! 

 
How to create a blog post in squarespace
 

If you aren't keen on reading and following the step by step, there is a handy little video down at the bottom which takes you through my process of building a client blog post from start to finish! 

CREATING A BLOG POST

Once you are in the back end of your website click on pages > Blog. This should bring you to your blog on Squarespace. 

How to create a blog post in squarespace

(If you don't have a Blog set up, just click on the + next to Top Navigation and you will be able to add your blog there) 

From your blog page, click the plus at the top and this will open the blog post window. 

How do i create a blog post in Squarespace?

One the blog post window is open, I start by doing some "housekeeping". I enter my title, I tag and categorize the post at the bottom and then I will update the Options and Location links at the top. 

I always insert a "header" or "featured" image into my posts which is not something that is normally done. I do it for branding and to differentiate my blogging, so don't think that is something you necessarily have to do. I create these square images in Adobe Illustrator and insert them as the first image in every blog post and also as the thumbnail image under "Options". Under "Location" I will enter my business name and state as well to assist with SEO. 

INSERTING IMAGES

When inserting images into your post you have a few options. You can insert one image at a time using the Image block option or also upload multiple images into a stacked gallery. 

How to create a blog post in squarespace

BASIC FORMAT FOR CLIENT BLOG POST

My basic format for a client session blog post is the following:

  • Header image
  • Text
  • Stacked gallery block (with blogstomped images)
  • Call to action (sometimes)
  • Carousel summary block
  • Header Image

I mentioned this above, but for every post, I insert a header or featured image as the first image on the page. Sometimes I have text above that image (like in this post) and sometimes I don't. 

Text

This is where I like to talk about my clients, share a little of their story or a story from the session. I hear from a lot of bloggers that this is the stuff that they have the hardest time with. They don't know what to write or they feel like no one cares.

Even though writing this text can sometimes be a challenge, I'll tell you who does care: your client. Even if everyone else who sees your blog skimms over that content and doesn't bother to read it, I guarantee your client will read it and will love it. I've had so many clients tell me that what I wrote meant a lot to them. It shows you care and that their session was more than just a transaction to you. For me, it's the best part of the whole post! 

You can also utilize questionnaires to help with the text portion of the blog post. Have your client fill out a questionnaire prior to the session and then use some of their own answers to help craft the post! Brilliant!!

--->>> Want some questionnaires that are ready to go? Check out the ones available in the Supply Closet! 

Stacked Gallery

After I am done editing images from a session, I will go through and blogstomp all of the images I want to include in the post. I will include horizontal (landscape) images a few full size vertical images and then also 2 vertical images side by side. I will upload all of those images into the gallery block and then drag and drop to reorder if I feel it's necessary. 

I don't choose to write text between my images in my post because I feel like it can be confusing. When I read text in between images sometimes it's not totally clear which image the text is referring too and/or it just gets missed in the scroll. I find it easier to simply write my text at the beginning or end of the post rather than fitting it in between images. 

Call to Action

At the end of some posts, I may include some text and a link to my contact page asking if someone would like to book a session with me to click here. This gives a reader a quicker opportunity to reach me directly while it's fresh in their mind rather than clicking somewhere else on my website. 

Summary Block

Like I mention in my Squarespace summary block post, I include summary blocks at the end of all of my blog posts. For more info about how I set them up click HERE

And there you have it! Blogging with Squarespace does not have to be intimidating and with a few different tricks you can really make your blog posts stand out from the crowd! 

Interested in WATCHING me build a blog post? Check out the video here! 


Interested in 100 blog post ideas so you'll never wonder what to write about again! Here you go!! Download right to your desktop and keep it handy! 


How I got the shot - walking hand in hand

Name: Emily Gibby

Business Name: elovephotos

Why did you take this photo?: I took this photo because I wanted the bride and groom to really show off where they got married and make the temple a main focus of the image. I also wanted to symbolize, in some way, that there is a bigger picture than what we can see with our own eyes.....as in how God sees things. Marriage is a big commitment and it's beautiful together. I'm not an eloquent writer--haha

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III

Lens: Canon 24-70 2.8 L II

All exif data: f/ 6.3, 1/400 sec, 35 mm, ISO 250

Why did you use these settings?: I normally don't shoot at an aperture this high, but I really wanted the building to be the main focus. They were talking so I wanted a higher shutter to avoid any blur. It was also quite sunny so I wanted to make sure it wasn't over exposed. :)

Thought process behind the photo: I crouched down towards the ground. I wanted the couple to look small in comparison to the building. I tried to shoot the couple in the rule of 1/3s to add a little artistry to it. I wanted to symbolically document the beauty of walking through life TOGETHER.

Editing of the photo: : The photo was a little darker than I normally shoot because of the f/ 6.3 aperture. I increased the exposure and shadows....brought down some highlights. I like to keep my edits as natural as possible.

bride and groom walking in front of mormon church

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Hi! My name is Emily Gibby and I am a destination wedding and portrait photographer based out of Virginia Beach, VA. Along with photography, my husband Justin and I offer videography services to brides looking to capture real moments in motion! I’m a dedicated teacher, wife and mother living the dream! 

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest
 


Interested in submitting a photo for the How I Got the Shot series? Review the submission guidelines and submit a photo you think we could all learn from! 

Why Inbox by gmail rocks my world

I think we can all agree that our email boxes can stress us out to no end when it comes to being a small business owner. 

  • Do I keep this? 
  • Do I delete this?
  • Do I respond to this?
  • What if I don't need this email until a month from now?
  • Why is my inbox so FULL all the time?

Aghhhhhhrhrhghh!!!

I try not to talk about systems or processes that I haven't really dug into and decided whether or not they are truly and consistently useful, but I've been using Inbox by Gmail for over a year now and despite a few attempts to actually stop using it, I kept coming back to it over and over again. 

It has kept me more organized, efficient, wayyyy less stressed and I consistently achieve inbox zero multiple times per week. I love it so I wanted to share with you a few of the top reasons why! 

 
How to use Google Inbox for your email 
 

Snooze emails to return to your inbox at a later date

My absolute #1 reason why I love Inbox so much is the snooze factor for your emails. This one feature alone is totally worth some of the drawbacks from using Inbox to view your email. 

The snooze feature works similarly to another program called boomerang, but I have used both and let me tell you Inbox wins hands down and then some. It is so incredibly simple to "snooze" your email to return to your inbox at some point in the future. 

 
snooze in Inbox by Gmail
 

This is SO INCREDIBLY handy when you have an email that you don't want to delete, but you also don't want to file it because you DO need respond to it, you just need to respond to it later. Instead of leaving it in your inbox until you are ready to respond, or filing it away in a folder where you may forget about it, you just click the snooze button, tell it when you want it to return to your inbox and then blammo! You can forget all about it and it will appear again when you need it. 

This one feature is probably the number one reason I can keep my email under control at all times. 
  • Need to follow up with an inquiry in five days in case they haven't replied? No problem, just snooze it for 5 days from now and respond when it comes back to your inbox. 
  • Working on a project but waiting for someone to reply first so you can get started? Snooze the email to come back in a few days so you can follow up with them easily and remind them that you are waiting on a reply. 
  • Promo emails hitting your email that you want to read later but you don't have time to read now? Snooze them to return when you have blocked off some time to go through all the emails you want to read. 

And on and on and on. Seriously ya'll this one feature is such a game changer and it is the main reason I will absolutely cringe if Google ever decides to do away with Inbox. 

Interface is clean and organized

I'm also a sucker for things that are clean and minimal when it comes to software or tech programs. I don't like a million bells and whistles added and the system needs to be intuitive for me to use and figure out. 

Inbox uses a threaded approach to email (which you can also set up in gmail) but this keeps all my related emails nice and tidy and together to keep everything organized. 

There just isn't a lot on the page to distract you. Emails. Folders. That's about it. I love it. 

Canned Responses + Signatures

One thing that USED to be an issue with Inbox was the lack of ability to add signatures to your emails or to use canned responses. 

The lack of canned responses was honestly one of the reasons I considered moving away from Inbox a while back. The snooze feature brought me back and I just kept template emails in my drafts. 

HOWEVER! The recently added the ability to use canned emails (templates) into Inbox and I could not be more happy about this. Just one other reason that this interface helps me stay on track, stay efficient and stay organized. 

 
email templates in Inbox by Gmail
 

Easy to get back to regular Gmail

There are some things that you still need to do in regular Gmail. The two most common reasons I hop back over to gmail from time to time is to set my auto responder to on for when I'm going to be out of the office, or to create new labels. 

I utilize labels a LOT to file emails away but there isn't a way to nest labels under other labels straight from Inbox. It's easy to do in Gmail and the formatting will carry over to Inbox but you can't do it directly from the interface. 

Luckily, getting back over to regular Gmail is super simple. There is a link on the left side of the panel that says GMAIL. Click on that and it will take you right back over to regular Gmail. 

 
getting to Gmail from Inbox
 

And in case you want to see how all of this works in real life, here is a video for you where I take you through what Inbox looks like, how it functions, how to snooze emails and more! Enjoy! 


Wanna know even more about the systems and tools I use to run my business? Check out the Tool Box! 

How to create an Anti-Boring blog post in Squarespace

I'm quite sure it's no one's actual intention to create a boring blog post (on Squarespace or any other platform for that matter) but the unfortunate truth is that more times than not, bloggers have great ideas but their execution is poor. 

The popularity of blogs in the past 10 years and the crazy insane number of blogs out there (150 million plus!!!!) has led to some very interesting data and strategies. Gone are the days when you just type some of your thoughts down onto a webpage and click submit. 

There are many different strategies you can implement TODAY to make your blog posts more interesting and more readable which in turns will hopefully turn into more readers and more loyal readers. That should ultimately positively affect your bottom line. Who doesn't want that? 

 
Anti Boring Blog Post.jpg
 

ADD IMAGES

The first and easiest ways to add interest to your blog post is by adding images. We are a very visual society and even though the main focus of any blog post is typically conveying some sort of message through written words, using images to add context, texture and interest to that story keeps your readers eyes moving and breaks up the monotony of reading rows and rows of text that seem to never end. 

Images also can convey very quickly what your blog post is about, a point you are trying to make or they can show your reader what you are talking about. Anyone else out there prefer cookbooks that include pictures instead of just recipes?

I'm raising my hand!!!

And I even go one step further and prefer watching videos or cooking shows so I can watch the entire process from start to finish. That is so much easier for me than reading a recipe and trying to figure it out. 

This is one of the reasons I started implementing videos into my blog posts. Sometimes it helps 100% to see the process being done rather than reading about it. Luckily technology is at a point that this is really simple to do! 

In Squarespace....

Use Image blocks or gallery blocks to add images throughout your post.

  • click on the insert point in your blog post where you want to insert the image
  • upload the image
  • add the description (don't forget this!! very important for SEO)
  • decide if you want to caption or not
  • add a link if necessary

BREAK IT UP

Utilize formatting. ALL DAY. No one likes to admit it, but we all SKIMM. The first thing I do when I open up an informative blog post is skim for the headers to get a general gist of the info that is being covered. THEN I can determine if its worth my time to actually go through and read ALL the words on the page. If I open up a blog post and it's one big blob of text without any breaks, headers, bullets etc....my desire to dig into the meat of the post crashes and burns almost instantly. 

When I worked in Human Resources, this was a key element we would talk to employees about when they submitted resumes for promotions. Don't list all of your skills and abilities or job duties in one giant paragraph. Bullet point everything so it makes it easier for the hiring manager to quickly see what you are all about. 

The same theory applies here. Make it easier for your readers to invest in your post. Most people who read blogs look at 10+ blog posts a day...don't let yours be one of the first to get clicked out of because of a hard to read format!

In Squarespace...

Utilize the formating functions in your text block. I typically use Heading 2 and Heading 3 for my posts. 

How+to+create+an+ANTI-BORING+blog+post+in+Squarespace+-+Cinnamon+Wolfe+Photography+-+NJ+Wedding+Photographer.jpeg

WHITE SPACE BABY

Up until about two years ago, the concept of white space never really occurred to me before. Kind of makes sense being that I am not nor have I ever studied design, but white space and proper usage of that white space can be a huge draw to blog readers. 

  • Have you ever clicked on a site that had an all black background and white text?
  • Have you ever clicked on a site that had a patterned or textured background with text on top of it that was almost impossible to read?
  • Have you ever clicked on a site where everything seemed jumbled and out of sorts and on top of each other and too small or too large and on and on and on....? 

Proper utilization of white space in your blog posts can help your reader navigate the page, engage with the post and it's easy on the eyes. Squarespace has the added bonus of being ALL ABOUT great use of white space and you can take it even further by adding line blocks in your post or spacer blocks as well! 

In Squarespace....

Insert line blocks to create more white space and break up your post visually or add spacer blocks to create space in between elements of your post. 

SUMMARY BLOCKS

If you have followed my blog for any bit of time you are probably pretty familiar with my love affair with the Squarespace summary blocks. Despite the fact that it still doesn't allow things to pull in randomly, I think summary blocks are always a great addition to add at the end of EVERY blog post to let your readers have quick visibility to relevant and older content on your site. 

If someone clicks your post and skims the headings and doesn't see any info new or helpful to them BUT then gets to the end of your post and sees an older post that DOES have info that they are interested in then BOOM. You've kept a reader on your site longer than you would have if they hadn't had that quick visibility into your past content. 

Squarespace summary blocks FOR THE WIN. 

Just go check out this blog post....trust me. 

VIDEO

I have a feeling that video is kind of sort of maybe possibly the wave of the future. Have you seen a facebook newsfeed these days? Video after video after video. YouTube is HUGE. I wouldn't have been able to fix the washing machine without the beauty of five different 2 minute videos on youtube.

Don't get me wrong there are tons of people who still like to read and get their information that way, but there are just as many people who like to watch and learn and see someone else doing something. It's a powerful medium and one I'm glad I've tapped into. I hope to continue and take it even further in the future! 

In Squarespace....

It could NOT be easier to add a video to your post. Simply create your video and upload it to your host of choice (I use Vimeo) and then add a video block!  

How+to+create+an+anti-boring+blog+post+in+Squarespace+-+Cinnamon+Wolfe+Photography+-+NJ+Wedding+Photographer (1).jpeg

GRAPHS AND CHARTS

This is not something I've utilized in my posts simply because my subject matter doesn't typically necessitate a chart or a graph, but the data geek inside me loves that there is an option for this in SS and its so easy to do! I might have to make up a blog post just about some statistics just so I can utilize this feature. 

BORING BLOG POSTS VS. NON BORING BLOG POSTS

Don't let this be you!

In Squarespace....

Utilize the chart blocks feature and play around with all of the fun options! Its really easy to customize! 

INFOGRAPHICS

Also something I haven't used personally in my posts, mostly because I'm not a graphic designer and it would take me about a hundred years to actually put one together, but if you have the ability to create an infographic or can hire someone out to make some for you, I say go for it. Infographics are a great way to convey a lot of information in a concise way and they are HIGHLY pinnable. 

In Squarespace...

Just add an image block and upload your infographic! 

BIO

I've seen a lot of bloggers do this if there are more than one contributor to their blog or if they simply want to get their face and info on front of people who might be landing on the blog post without having seen the rest of the website. Its an easy and simple way to introduce the writer of the post to the audience in an aesthetically pleasing way. 

In Squarespace...

Simply add an image block with your headshot and then add a text block with the info and drag them next to each other. Viola! 


Cinnamon Wolfe is a wife, stepmom and pet mom who blogs like the wind and likes to take pictures in her backyard. 

 

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 


How I got the shot | Flower Crown Bridal

Name: Brittani McFadden

Business Name: Brittani Elizabeth Photography

Why did you take this photo?: I wanted to get a non traditional bridal portrait that focused more on the beauty of her dress, the flower crown and of course, the ring!

Camera: Nikon d750

Lens: 50mm 1.4

All exif data: f 2.0, 1/320, ISO 125, No added lighting - in a shady space on a sunny day

Why did you use these settings?: This shot was taken on a super bright day, so we needed to find a shady spot for more flattering lighting. I set the ISO to 125 because I knew I needed a lower f-stop to get the fall off and bokeh effect I was looking for. I then set the f-stop to 2.0 so that I would still have a super crisp image. To get the right exposure I then compensated with the shutter speed to get the look I wanted.

Thought process behind the photo: This was my 5th wedding in a string following two double header weekends. I wanted to get something new and different to push myself rather than what I had been shooting the past few weekends. I absolutely loved her dress and she was my first bride with a flower crown, so I knew I needed to show it off! She did something absentmindedly like scratching her shoulder and I was like "DO THAT AGAIN!" and this photo was the result!

Editing of the photo: Like many photographers, I have a preset that I apply that lessens the highlights a little and the tone curve brings up my blacks a little. I am really particular with greens so I adjust the greens the way I see as most flattering and make sure the skin tones are true to the people!

light and airy photo of a bride in a flower crown

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 and beauty of a wedding day! We currently shoot a majority of our weddings in Pennsylvania with most being in the Philadelphia suburbs. 

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Interested in being featured on How I got the shot! Click below and submit! 

8 Reasons you should blog if you have a creative business

It's no secret that I am a big fan of blogging. I blogged for years prior to starting my photography business so it was a no brainer for me to continue blogging once I began booking clients and working to help other photographers grow and succeed. 

As natural as blogging might be for me, for other creative entrepreneurs and small business owners, the decision to blog might be a more difficult one. While I think the majority of small business owners, photographers and wedding industry professionals understand that a blog can be a benefit, it does take time, patience, strategy and again, TIME to keep a blog going and reap the rewards.

Today I want to share eight reasons why it is important to have and maintain a blog for your small creative business and hopefully give you some insights that you might not have had before in order to help you either take the plunge and start a blog or strategize a way to prioritize your blogging in order to get you the biggest potential return! 

SEO

One of the absolute best benefits to blogging is the affect it has on your SEO (search engine optimization). A blog gives you a huge opportunity to increase your visibility in potential client internet searches for whatever you might be selling. SEO can be a confusing and mind boggling subject for many to tackle, but in a nutshell the easiest ways to really beef up your optimization is through content, activity and quality inbound links. All of these things are much easier to achieve when you have a consistent blogging presence.  

PERSONALITY

Raise your hand if you struggle when writing your "About Me" page on your website. Ok, you can put your hand down now and pick up your coffee again. The reason "about me" pages can be so difficult is because it's just plain awkward to write about yourself. You know what you are like, but describing it in a way that doesn't come off as braggy or typical or let's face it...boring...can be a legit challenge. 

A blog gives you a way to really show your personality and WHO YOU ARE in a very roundabout way. Since the main content or focus of the blog is not necessarily YOU, but what you sell or offer, the pressure is off and your personality can shine in the content. I can very easily pick up a huge number of clues about a person through reading posts than I ever could in an about me page.

I find there is ONE major hindrance that frustrates people from allowing their personality to shine through their blog posts: 

Writing on the internet on your own personal business blog is NOT the same as turning in a college essay. 

You are not being graded on perfect grammar and proper tone and punctuation. No one is waiting in the wings with a giant red marker, ready to tear your stuff to shreds and give you a big fat F. It IS important to match your writing to your brand or ideal client, but don't be so nervous about "messing up"...that it prevents you from writing anything at all. 

One of the biggest compliments I receive quite often is that when people I know in life read my blog they tell me it sounds like me. They literally say "It's SO you. I can hear you saying that". That is 100% my goal with my blog, and it helps readers connect with who I am a person and it builds trust. All of those are incredibly valuable things when running a personal small business. 

SHOWCASE PORTFOLIO/PRODUCTS

Maintaining a consistent blog allows you to easily expand the visibility of your portfolio or product selection. Its an easy way to announce new products or offerings, and it allows potential clients or customers to see what you've been up to lately. 

CREATES HOMEBASE

Social media (FB, IG, Twitter...)can be a great way to advertise your products or material but it is anything but permanent. Studies show that the lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes and with the changes on FB, hardly anyone is seeing what you are posting there. Instagram hashtags can work really well, but again, it's not an easy way for people to find you and it may be going the way of sponsored content in the not so far off future. Relying on social media can be exhausting and frustrating. 

A blog however, is in essence a "one stop shop". This is your homebase, where a client can come to find out EVERYTHING they want to know about you. You can communicate SO MUCH more info through your website and blog than you ever could on any social media outlet. 

TWO WAY CONVERSATION

A blog is a fantastic way to actually converse and hear from your readers and potential clients. Blog comments are an easy way for readers to contact you and provide feedback or ask questions. And you can respond back to them without a ton of back and forth emails. Having the ability to easily talk to your readers and clients is a powerful brand and trust builder. 

MAKES YOU "THINK" AND FOCUS

The best cure for "I don't know what to blog about", is to blog. The more you blog, the more ideas come to you. It may sounds ridiculous, but I promise it's SO true. Taking the time to think about what your ideal client might want to learn more about, or what information or resources you (as the expert) could provide on the subject does wonders for coming up with quality blog content. 

Remember, readers are selfish. They want information that is helpful to them. Stop trying to create interesting content about YOU and put the focus on THEM. What might your ideal client want to know more about? What will help make their life easier? What sorts of questions do you get from readers or clients on a consistent basis? Craft your posts about those things and the ideas will start to flow. 

PERMANENT

The permanence of your blog goes hand in hand with it being your homebase. And when I say permanent, I really just mean that it has a place on the internet that can be easily found, not that you can't change it. I'm a big proponent of going back and freshening up previous content that might need a tweak or update. 

Scrolling through a fb feed can take forever and you never can find what you are looking for. Twitter? Forget about it. You blog however, can be a place where readers or clients can find exactly what they are looking for in just a few clicks. Especially if you have awesome resources like a blog sidebar or archive page. 

INSIGHT INTO YOUR AUDIENCE- ANALYTICS

Knowing and understanding who your audience is, where they are coming from, what they click on, how long they stay, where they drop off...all of these analytics can be powerful! Taking a look "behind the scenes" and working to understand the analytics of your website and blog can be insightful and informative. People or readers may be drawn to a blog article and then drop off immediately or they might click around for a while. Analyzing your bounce rate and conversions based on the information that you are providing can have a huge impact on your investment in time and design. 

Its nearly impossible to get quality information off of poor indicators like facebook likes, retweets or IG "hearts" to determine if readers or potential clients are picking up what you are putting down. But consistent blog content that provides value to your audience can be studied and analyzed and you can make tweaks and changes based on that info that will help you actually grow and achieve your goals. 

If you are on the fence about creating a blog or getting more consistent at blogging, I hope these benefits of blogging have helped you in your decision process. And here is an even better surprise for you....just click below to get a HUGE list of blog ideas straight to your inbox!