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. 

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter


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! 

20 super duper awesome Squarespace hacks

For those of you using Squarespace who love the ease and functionality of it but are also looking for a few more "tweaks" you can do to make your site really feel like "you" and also stand out somewhat from the crowd....but you are not really all that interested in crazy customizations or entering lots of code...

This post is for you! 

(geeze that was a mouthful of a run on sentence!) 

These are all little tips and tricks and tweaks that I've learned in my past four years of using the platform. They aren't super obvious and you can easily find how to do most of them through a simple google search, but if you are looking for a one stop place to find some great ideas of ways to update and customize your SS site....you have come to the right place! 

 
20 Squarespace Hacks.jpg
 

1 | esc key log in

If you have previously signed into Squarespace on your computer and clicked "keep me logged in", when you access your website and then press the ESC key, it will automatically log you in to the back end of your website. Soooooo easy! 

2 | Hide tags in blog posts

If you want to tag the heck out of your blog posts, but don't want them all showing super annoyingly in a big blob of blog post tags at the end of your post...here is some CSS for ya!

To not show tags: 

.collection-type-blog article footer .tags { display: none; }

To not show tags or categories:

.collection-type-blog article footer { .tags, .categories { display: none; } }

Add this into your Custom CSS and you should be golden! (Home/Design/Custom CSS) 

3 | Disable right click

If you would like to disable right click/save as on your website, here is some code for that! Enter this into your Code Injection (Settings/Advanced/Code Injection/Header)

<script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery

/1.3.2/jquery.min.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

$(function () {

$(this).bind("contextmenu", function (e) {

e.preventDefault();

});

});

</script>

4 | Summary Block

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the summary block and its many uses. My favorites are at the bottom of blog posts, category pages, archive pages, and in your blog sidebar. If you strategize a killer category and tag system for your blog posts, you can utilize summary blocks to no end! Check out my posts about how to make them and how to use them for your archive and sidebar for more info! 

5 | Buttons & Forms 

I feel like buttons and forms don't get near as much love on SS as they should. These are fantastic ways to incorporate CTA's (Call to actions) throughout your site. You can customize them through your design panel and you can add click through URL's or use them as a way to collect email addresses for your email list or newsletter. 

Buttons

You can use a button as a visual way to link to another page on your website, link to external content or allow visitors to download files or content that you upload. 

super awesome squarespace hacks

Forms

Forms can be used for many things like your client contact form, a way to collect email addresses or even a way to do a questionnaire or survey. 

super awesome squarespace hacks

6 | Cover page client guide 

Ok so this is kind an out of the box idea, but have you ever considered using Squarespace cover pages as a client guide of sorts? There are some great options that allow you to put text on one side and an image on the other, which is a great way to creatively create a client or pricing guide for potential clients. All you have to do is send them the URL. 

Caveat....this is a little complicated to set up (lots of linking to pages in order to guide them through as they should) and you are limited on your formatting options in the text portion, but depending on what you want to include...it could be a good option for you. 

Also....it gets people actively engaged in your site and keeps them there longer (since they are looking through all the info) which is a benefit for your SEO! 

Here is a super secret link to my wedding client lounge. Shhhhh! <---This is all done with cover pages!

7 | Change placement of things on page by dragging.

This one is so HUGE you guys!! This is one of the main things that I see people having trouble with on their sites. 

When you go in to edit a page, the insert points go across the entire page which makes it seem like you have to design top to bottom and everything has to be on top of each other and not side by side. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! You can totally drag things around the page and put them next to each other and make things smaller and make things bigger. 

Here is a video to show you how to do this! Please watch if you feel like you struggle with this on SS...it WILL help, I promise!! 

8 | Change the size of headers by placing text in description box

Want to make your headers thicker or thinner? Put text in your description box for your page or just put returns if you are not wanting to put text. This is probably best explained in a video! 

9 | Home page doesn't have to be in Nav menu 

That's right! You don't have to have a page in your navigation menu that says HOME. I know some like to have it there because it gives visitors an obvious place to click if they want to go back to the "main" page, but if you are looking to reduce the size of your navigation menu, by all means, drag the Home page down to the unlinked section and get it out of your nav bar. When a visitor clicks on your logo they will be taken back to your home page so visitor will still be able to access it. 

awesome squarespace hacks

10 | Add a video in a header

Yep! In most templates where you can add images into the header sections of your site, you can also embed a video to auto play. Such a fun an interesting way to create a unique site! 

Here is a great example so you can see it in action! 

11 | Footer can be customized, (get rid of "powered by Squarespace") 

I'm not sure why so many people miss this, but you absolutely CAN customize your footer and take out the "powered by Squarespace" text that is in most templates from the start. 

I am a HUGE advocate (especially if you are a photographer or business owner in which location matters) of including your basic info and location in your footer so that it shows on every page of your website. There is nothing more frustrating for a website visitor to have to search and search and search for your location. 

12 | Customize the contact form

For the love of Pete, people!!! Customize your contact form!!! 

This is another thing I see over and over and over on websites I visit on the daily...the same 'ol boring standard contact form on the contact page that says, "name, email, subject, message". SNOOZEFEST!

You have the ability to customize that form to sound like you, to ask questions that you WANT to know the answer to RIGHT away when someone is contacting you. Don't make your visitor guess at what to say...lead them to answer questions that they KNOW how to answer and their answers will help you best serve them immediately when you respond to them. 

Here is an example from my wedding contact form: 

awesome squarespace hacks

13 | Blog post title and URL can be different

Did you know that your blog post URL and the title of the post can be different??!

If you want your URL to show something SEO friendly like, "Romantic Barn New Jersey wedding at Sterlingbrook Farm" but you want the title to show "David + Jennifer"....you can totally do that!! 

Here is the best way to go about it.

  • Create a new blog post and enter the title that you want the URL to be.
  • Click Save.
  • Go back and open that same blog post and then update the title.

The URL will stay the same but the title will change. Brilliant! 

14 | Anonymous Commenting

Commenting is one of those things that the Squarespace platform doesn't have FULLY figured out yet. While I tend to think that the comment works decently, people seem to have issues figuring out how to comment on a blog post in Squarespace and if the blogger doesn't have Anonymous Commenting turned on, it can be an even bigger problem. 

The default screen to pull up if you DO NOT have anonymous commenting enabled prompts the user to create a Squarespace account. People seem to miss that they can login through one of the other social media platforms and simply say "I couldn't figure out how to comment b/c it wanted me to create an account". 

If you enable anonymous commenting, the option will show up to enter name, email and website which makes it much easier for visitors to comment. 

If you are a blogger that cares about comments at all, you NEED to enable anonymous commenting NOW! 

--->Settings/Blogging/Comment Settings/Enable anonymous commenting

commenting on a squarespace blog post

15 | Use cover page as landing page for opt-in

Landing pages are super popular. For good reason. 

When you use a landing page for your opt-in or email sign up, you know exactly where your people are coming from. I was adding forms on various pages for people to sign up for the In Crowd, but I was running into the problem of not setting them up all exactly the same. Now, I instead set up a coverage page (which looks a little more stylish and professional) and then I can just directly link to that page wherever I want to! 

I can add a button or a photo or just link some text and send people to that page to sign up! I can also link that page directly on other places as well (facebook, other blogs etc...) to get people to exactly where they need to be to sign up! 

16 | Take the date out of your blog URl

It's good SEO practice to make sure that keywords are as far "up" in your blog URL as possible. Squarespace defaults your blog URL to include the year/month/day but you can absolutely change that. 

***NOTE...if you change this AFTER you have already been blogging you will need to do 301 redirects to the new URL b/c otherwise your old links will now be broken. Proceed with caution if you have already been blogging. If you are brand new and setting up your blog for the first time, you are good to go!

Here is where you change the setting: Settings/Blogging/Post URL format <----make sure there is only %t included in that box! 

17 | Social Media Icons (style changes)

Another awesome thing that I loooove about SS is the ability to add your social media icons pretty much anywhere you want throughout your site. You also have the ability to change the format of the icons per block (not globally). Below I have three different social links blocks added in with different justification (left, right, center) and different formatting based on the options provided....(and there are tons more options!) 

awesome squarespace hacks


18 | Enable Pin-it button in one step

Pinning has never been easier! Set up your pinterest as a connected account and then simply go to Settings/Marketing/Pin-it Buttons. You can adjust the way the button appears as well! 

19 | Send blog posts to facebook/twitter/google + / pinterest when you publish

Did you know that you can auto publish your posts to all of your social media accounts (except for Instagram of course) upon publish of your post? Just click Social on the top of your blog posts...turn "on" the accounts you want to share too...add some text that you want added to the post that is published...and viola! Once the post publishes it will push out to all of those accounts as well! 

publish to social media when blog post publishes

20 | You can have two different blogs

Now you might ask...why in the world would you have two different blogs? Well most people probably won't, but if you were blogging about very different things and or wanted a further way to separate or organize posts, you can totally do that. 

For example on this website, I have my regular blog with all of my educational posts and then I have a separate blog for all of the Focus(ed) Podcast "blogs/episodes". That way those can all be grouped together and if I do summary blocks it won't pull from both blogs, only the one I choose. 

 
can I have two different blogs in Squarespace? 
 

I don't think it's all that intuitive for people to know they can actually create different blogs for different things, but you totally can. BONUS TIP...you can also move posts from one blog to the other by selecting multiple posts and then clicking MOVE at the bottom. Groovy. 

 
can i move blog posts in Squarespace
 

Alright! I hope you learned something new about what you can do on your Squarespace site so that you can go forth and customize your site in a new and exciting way that you didn't think was possible before! 


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How I got the shot | Snowy Reception

How I got the Shot | Shaina Lee Photography | cinnamonwolfe.co | Photography Education

Name: Shaina Diaz

Business Name: Shaina Lee Photography

Why did you take this photo?: This photo was taken during the couple's first dance at a December wedding. The DJ had a machine that blasted out "snow flurries" while playing their song.

Camera: Canon 6D

Lens: Canon 35mm L

All exif data: ISO 250, f/1.4, 1/160
Canon Speedlite 430EX II-RT mounted to a light stand with a 30" white shoot through umbrella, controlled by Yongnuo wireless flash triggers

Why did you use these settings?: The bride had told me beforehand that the DJ was going to make it "snow" during the first dance. Before the reception started, I took a few minutes to do a few test shots with the snow machine on with my couple in the center of the dance floor where the flurries would be landing on them. After a few tweaks, making sure both of them, as well as the snow, was lit up enough, I landed on these settings.

Thought process behind the photo: While I love to shoot as many of my photos in natural light as I can, that's not always possible to do on a wedding day, especially those with indoor ceremonies or receptions. For this particular photo, I used a flash off camera, set up next to one of the music speakers near the DJ's booth. I stood directly in front of the DJ's booth, so my OCF set up was behind me, and about 30 degrees to my left.

Editing of the photo:  I like my images to be light and airy, with a bit of contrast to add a bit of pop, while maintaining warm skin tones. While editing in Lightroom, I bumped up my contrast just a tad, then bumped the exposure up a bit more than I normally would. I then brought down the highlights, both in the Basic Bar, as well as in the Tonal Curve, which started to bring the image back to a better exposure. I increased the lights in Tonal Curve, then brought down the darks and shadows again to bring the exposure to where it needed to be (which also helped to give the image a slight pop I was looking for).

Bride and Groom slow dancing at reception with snow flurries

3 sentence bio about you/your business: I'm Shaina, a wedding and engagement photographer specializing in couples portraiture. I'm based in Connecticut, but I LOVE when my photography brings me to new places! My husband and I are in love with Hawaii, and we're SO looking forward to booking some destination weddings there!

Facebook | Instagram |  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! 

How to edit the same photos on two different computers | Dropbox + LR Smart Previews

 
How do I edit the same photos on two different computer using Lightroom 
 

Ohhhh if only I had this post to read to myself about three years ago when I was pulling my hair out trying to organize and manage the way I edit photos and run my business! 

The issue I was having was this: I had two computers that I worked on regularly for normal business operations and communication as well as editing photos. I had an iMac desktop computer that sat in my office as well as a MacBook Air laptop that I used while on the couch or in bed or traveling. I often times would start a project on one computer and need to finish it on the other. 

It's always interesting to me the problems we seem to create for ourselves in the name of technology and comfort. amiright?

What's the problem you say? Sounds like you've got it pretty good with two very nice computers available to you to do work on...what could be so bad about that?

Two words: File Management

I would have files of images or documents saved on one computer and then BOOM! I would be working on the other computer need to access those same files, but woe is me, they were on the other computer. 

Having to get off the couch to go sit at my uncomfortable desk in order to complete an email was just not working for me! #firstworldproblems #iknowright?

Dropbox to the rescue

The introduction of Dropbox and my understanding of how to really use it to my advantage rocket launched my productivity.

Dropbox was my "shared drive". EVERYTHING gets saved to my Dropbox folder.

And I mean everything.

That way I have access to all of those documents, photos...whatever really....from whatever computer I am on or my phone or tablet. Huge WIN!

However, I was still having issues with editing my photos. I had Lightroom (LR) installed on both computers, but my catalogue was sitting on my desktop because my desktop has more hard drive space and honestly, I prefer editing on the desktop because the screen is so much bigger. But every once in a while, I wanted to finish culling or doing light edits on a batch of photos and I would prefer to do that work on the couch or snuggled up in bed. Traveling was also an issue. If I wanted to do some edits while I traveled, I had to create a new catalogue which messed up my system of naming and storing LR catalogues. UGH. What was a girl to do? 

I googled around a bit but wasn't really finding any good answers. At least not any answers that I could understand or made a lot of sense to me.  

I dealt with this issue for a while until I heard about LR Smart Previews (SP) mentioned in a fb thread. I had casually heard about SP before, but had never taken the time to research how they could actually benefit me. Once I understood exactly how they worked, a lightbulb went off in my brain and the idea of using SP and Dropbox together dawned on me. 

HOW LIGHTROOM WORKS

To understand, we have to look at how LR actually works. Lightroom stores all of the data related to your photos and your edits in the catalog. It points to the images in the hard drive or external hard drive where the images are housed, but the program itself does not alter the images in any way. Think of it almost like trace paper. Your image is the original drawing and anything you perform in LR is happening on that layer of trace paper on top of the image. You can peel it away and the original image is still there. The catalog is the trace paper. 

If you have ever disconnected your external hard drive or accidentally deleted the images off of your hard drive, you will get an error message in LR telling you it can't find the images. In short, you needed to have the images available on the same computer (either through hard drive or external drive), in order for the catalog to trace over them. 

SMART PREVIEWS

With the introduction of Smart Previews, everything changed. If you click "create smart previews" upon import, LR will automatically create a smaller more manageable file to work with. That means that the original (often large sized) files don't have to be "attached" to the same computer you are working on at the moment. All of that data is now stored in the catalog along with any changes you might make (tagging, flagging, sorting, keywords or edits.) Essentially the introduction of Smart Previews eliminated the need to have the original images "plugged" into wherever you were running Lightroom. Brilliant!

That frees up your laptop from having an external drive plugged in (or storing the RAW images directly on your laptop hard drive...no one got space for that!) but it doesn't necessarily solve the problem of importing the images on one computer and then accessing them from a different computer as well. Sad face. 

ENTER DROPBOX

When you save your Lightroom catalog in Dropbox, it then becomes available basically from any computer that is linked to that same Dropbox. Here is what a general process might look like:

Open LR on your desktop and make sure you are using the catalog that is in your Dropbox. (If you are not sure, go to File>Open Catalog>navigate to the catalog you saved in Dropbox. 

Import your images and make sure create Smart Previews is selected

Cull, add keywords, rate or edit your photos as you wish. Close LR and ensure your Dropbox is synced. (<------this is SUPER IMPORTANT!!!)

On your laptop, make sure your Dropbox is synced, open LR and make sure you are using the catalog saved in your Dropbox. You will see the photos that you imported on your desktop and all of the changes already made to them. The only difference is that you will see question marks next to the folders that your images are stored in, but that is just b/c the images aren't connected to the catalog right at that moment. But because you created smart previews, you can still click on those photos and edit away. 

The image directly above is a screen grab from my desktop. You see how all of my images are listed under "My Passport for Mac" which is an external drive I keep my images on and how I imported the images originally. On my laptop, all of that would not show (unless I plugged the external drive to my laptop), but the ALL PHOTOGRAPHS under the Catalog dropdown would show the exact same number of images and you would be able to make changes, rate, add keywords, cull or edit those photographs from the laptop as well! BOOM! 

OK!! I hope this is helpful and even though it takes a little bit to get your head around, once you get the system down it makes life just a little bit easier, especially if you are on the go or traveling! Here is a video as well in case you need it!! ;-) 


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Why I don't Watermark my photos

Now that's a bit of controversy for a this early in morning isn't it? ;-)

 
 

Watermarking photos in the photography industry is kind of like Canon vs. Nikon. Digitals vs. Prints. Flash or Natural light. Formally educated or self-taught. The debates go on and on. In the end there REALLY is no right or wrong on the subject and people end up doing what they want based on what the believe about life in general. 

Sidenote…I'm reading All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin…and so I've got all this "worldview influences all consumer behavior and no one buys a product, they really buy the story” on the brain and if you haven't read it, then I would highly suggest picking up a copy and indulging yourself in the same. 

Alright, back to watermarks. YAY or NAY?

I've landed on the NAY side of things for a few different reasons. I used to be on the YAY side and please understand I have nothing against all of the lovely people who are currently on the YAY side of things. I've just decided they aren't for me for a few key reasons. 

Sidenote #2...The more I am in business, the more I am figuring out that it's really important to understand WHY you do what it is that you do or don't do. (wow, did that sentence even make sense?) If you go around just doing things because everyone else does them, then you are most likely headed for some confusing times and upset clients. Strategy is crucial and honestly it's a more comfortable place to be. When you are easily able to explain why you do or don't do something you appear more professional likely because you ARE more professional! You have an understanding of the strategy behind your business and you can gauge when things are working and when they aren’t and make tweaks along the way. 

Doesn't that sound a whole lot better than just seeing what Johnnie Photographer and Jane Photographer are doing and just copying them without understanding the foundation of why they are doing it that way? 

Ok again, back to the watermarks (geeze I need more coffee!)

There are four main reasons why I feel like the practice of using watermarks doesn't align with my strategy or my branding. 

1 | SIMPLICITY

This one is pretty huge for me and it fits in with my branding and style. I like things to be simple. 


“Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” 
— Charles Mingus

I like to make things screamingly simple for my clients. I like routine and simplicity in every day life. Simple and functional to me equals beauty. 

Back when I used to watermark anything and everything, life for me was anything BUT simple. Adding watermark files to Lightroom and Blogstomp, figuring out their placement on the various different photos, exporting for facebook or instagram became laborious, I would have a watermark on an image I wanted to share on IG but then it would be cut off because of where I chose to put it on the photo and so it looks stupid, and forget about choosing white or black! Half of my photos you couldn't even really see the watermark b/c it would blend in or I would have to put it in a really distracting place where you could actually see it and on and on and on....

Does any of that sounds simple to you? 

The day I decided to stop watermarking felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I was able to simply export my photos once, Blogstomp them if I chose and then they would just be ready for me. Ready to put in a blog post. Ready to put on FB. Ready to put on IG. No other worries around. Simple. Lovely. 

2 | THEFT IS RARE AND UNPREVENTABLE

One of the main arguments FOR watermarking your photos is that if you don't, others will steal them from you and then try to pass them off as their own. 

Now don't get me wrong, I KNOW this happens. You can't be in a photography group on Facebook without seeing someone post about how they were completely caught off guard when they found out that someone had set up a whole false website using their stolen photos. There are whole websites that are built on calling out people who steal other photographers photos. 

However, with todays technology and minimal understanding of how a clone stamp works, adding a watermark to your photo in hopes that it will prevent someone from stealing it is kind of like locking the doors to your car but leaving all the windows down. Its really not going to do much to prevent someone who is intent on stealing someones work. Its just ads one small, annoying step to the process.

The only tried and true way to absolutely prevent someone stealing your photo is not to post anything online at all. Ever. And I don't know how many photographers in this day and age would be willing to go to that extreme. So take your precautions.

  • Disable right-click on your website (which wont stop screen grabs).
  • Upload photos at 72dpi instead of 300 (which would make the photo really difficult to print large or use commercially.)
  • Keep your metadata up to date as well which might come in handy someday if it comes to that.

Otherwise, acknowledge the fact that your photos "might" get stolen someday, but the chance is small and its pretty much unavoidable, so don't stress yourself out over trying to prevent something that you really can't stop. 

3| NO MEASURABLE ADVERSE EFFECTS

One other big argument on the YAY side for watermarking is promotion and marketing. If someone sees my photo somewhere on the internet and they don't see my watermark or branding on it, then how will they ever track me down and find me and give me buckets of money?!?! 

I will admit, I don't have a rock solid argument against this. Maybe I am forfeiting millions of dollars by not having watermarks on my photos, but I just don't think this is really behavior that many consumers engage in. I am also much more service oriented than "my photos are the most amazing photos you will ever see" oriented. There are many photographers out there whose aim is to provide the most unique images possible and I applaud them for that, but I was just not blessed with that level of creativity. Therefore I have to depend MORE on my amazing service skills and none of that is adequately communicated through a watermark. 

My goal is for all clients of mine to GUSH about me whenever a friend mentions needing a photographer. In all transparency that is how I would prefer to be "found". I want clients to WANT to talk about me and tag me online, instead of feeling jilted or bitter when they crop out my watermark or don't say anything about me at all. 

Some may still argue that leaving my photos out there floating around without any distinguishing watermark means that I am leaving money on the table. Maybe they are right, but I'm just not convinced. Word of mouth will always remain my focus. 

4| CHALLENGES ME

In that same vein of my photos having something to distinguish them amongst the masses, without a watermark it really challenges me to make my photos consistent and to have a style. There are many photographers out there who have mastered this and just by seeing their photo quickly in my feed I am instantly able to know who took it. Susan Stripling is one. Jasmine Star is another. Their style may not necessarily be one that I relate to or personally aspire to achieve, but they are certainly distinct. Both of these ladies have been at this for years and they have really honed in on the exact style they want to portray. I would love to get to this point someday, where my images have a consistent and obvious message and story that they are telling. If I keep plastering my name all over them, it kind of lets me off the hook. And nothing good happens when I am let off the hook (except for maybe some Netflix marathons.)  

So there you have it. All the reasons I gave up watermarking my photos. What do you do and why do you do it? I would love to hear your reasons in the comments! 

How I got the shot | Senior Style

Name: KC England

Business Name: KC England Photography 

Why did you take this photo?: This was taken during a senior session and a location I used often during the summer because I love the way the light falls in this alley. My senior was incredibly photogenic and knew how to work the camera which is a definite plus for me as the photographer.

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: 85mm 1.4

All exif data: f 2.0, 1/800, ISO 400, Natural light sources

Why did you use these settings?: I started with f/2.0 because I wanted a shallow depth of field and shooting wide open works for me especially with just one subject. In hindsight, I probably could have lowered my ISO and SS due to the amount of light that was available. The cement around her acted like a natural reflector.

Thought process behind the photo: This image was taken at 6:46pm on August 15, 2015. Sunset was at 8:01pm on this date, so it was definitely getting close to golden hour time. I positioned my senior is this alley with her back to the light, but the sun was still a little high and above her left shoulder. I used part of the cement wall on the left to shield some of the sun, while the cement wall on the right acted like a reflector. This particular location is very simple and really comes alive when the light is right and I love the way it frames my subject.

Editing of the photo: I strive to get images right in camera first so that most of my editing is pretty minimal. I started by applying the All in One Clean Edit preset from Pretty Presets Workflow to the image. Then, I brought the exposure up a bit and the highlights down.

High School Senior girl in white dress standing in alley in beautiful backlight

3 sentence bio about you/your business: KC England is a natural light photographer based in Spokane, WA. KC photographs families, seniors, births, and weddings and strives to capture light and connection in a beautiful and meaningful way. She lives with her husband, 3 girls (twins, age 15 and a 4 year old) and 2 crazy cats. She loves holidays, traditions, movie nights, home decorating, and Target. She also loves to travel, but being at home is her most favorite place on earth.

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram 
 


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! 

5 actionable ways to avoid the comparison trap

You've seen the quotes written in flowery or calligraphy-ied (is that a word) writing...splashed in watercolor in a beautiful IG feed...

At the heart of every single one of these encouraging and uplifting statements is a deep seeded truth : you have worth. You DO matter and what you have to say/create/provide is meaningful in some way. 

Comparison is ever present in all facets of life and obviously doesn't just exist in the photography or creative industry. I felt the same pull of unworthiness, never good enough-ness, someone is always doing it better than me-ness when I was in college, when I was in corporate america, heck just living everyday life with other people....it's just always there. 

I've given up trying to force myself to not fall into the comparison trap. Its human nature, it's GOING to happen. No matter how many times you post an uplifting saying on Instagram or read an encouraging blog post, no matter how many times the tears well up because you realize someone out there (who you didn't really realize struggles with it too) "gets" it, get's you...those feelings of inadequacy creep in when you least expect them. Or sometimes exactly when you expect them....during hour three of scrolling through facebook feeds of uber successful and talented (whomever) who is doing all the things YOU want to be doing but aren't for (whatever reason.) Maybe they've got 5 years on you. Maybe they don't have three kids in the house. Maybe staying 120lbs comes naturally to them. Maybe their husband joined in business with them. 

Maybe, just maybe, they are called for a different purpose than you are. Maybe, just maybe, someone is looking at you from afar and thinking...."I wish I had the courage to start MY own business..."

Let that sink in for a minute. 

When the comparison darkness begins its slow and meticulous creep into the window of your soul, you have to take action. Just wanting it to stop is not enough. You have to confront it head on. You have to look it in the eye and say, "not today....today is about doing at least one thing to move my business forward...and despite what everyone else is doing or accomplishing, I will move forward." 

Here are 5 actionable steps to get out of that slump and continue moving forward! 

How do I avoid comparing myself to others?

ENCOURAGE SOMEONE ELSE

This is one of the first things I do when I feel the comparison or "I'm not worthy" monster creeping around in my environment. I don't often feel jealousy or envy or anger towards others in my industry's success, but I do often feel discouraged. Comparing my current chapter to their finished novel. When those feeling strike, I make it a point to somehow, in someway, encourage someone else.

Liking a post on fb takes a millisecond. Retweeting something takes about a second. Double tapping a photo or taking a second to comment on an IG photo takes slightly longer but we still are in the seconds category. Despite all of our best efforts to not let social media be the end all be all gage for our self worth, a little social media love never hurt ANYONE.  There is SO MUCH information floating around out there, every day we are bombarded with content, content, content and oftentimes creating content ourselves. We put a lot of hard work into creating content that is helpful and having that recognized in some way shape or form means a lot! Be social. Provide feedback and encouragement. People notice. And taking the focus off of you, is always good for the soul. 

GET OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA

I know this may seem counter-intuitive based on the above, but I am a firm believer in taking breaks or extended breaks from all thing social media. If you are feeling large amounts of discouragement about where you are in your journey and you are also spending inordinate amounts of time online or involved in social media, take a time out. Delete the apps off of your phone for a week. Take a weekend and don't check FB or IG at all for the whole weekend. Set social media guidelines for your workday (only allowed to look for one hour a day etc...). You will be surprised how much your spirits lift and your creativity flows when you are left to your OWN devices and imagination to complete your tasks or projects. 

TALK TO SOMEONE

Call a friend. Talk to your spouse. Ask a mentor or another creative out for lunch or coffee. As entrepreneurs, we often are isolated and lonely since the majority of us work on our own and not surrounded by people all day long (well, people who aren't begging you to go outside and play or make them a snack or tugging on your pant leg asking a million questions.) Often the isolated nature of jobs leads to increased frustration and discouragement, especially when we see others succeeding. Getting out of your head and back into the real world with real people who you know and see in person jolts you right out of that place. Make a habit of it.  

LIST YOUR GOALS AND FOCUS ON YOUR WHY

If you don't have a printed list of your goals (short term and long term) posted near your desk or workspace....do it! Having a visual reminder of where you want to go and what you want to accomplish can instantly help you to refocus and leave that comparison monster in the dust. When we begin to let comparison and feelings of discouragement control our lives, we are more focused on what OTHERS are doing or achieving rather than what WE are trying to achieve. No one meets their own goals by spending all their time thinking about other people's goals. That's just silly. 

List out all of your short term goals by month, 6 months and a year and then also list out your longer term goals for 5 + years. Make them SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). I also recommend writing down your WHY (more about that HERE) and having that somewhere where you can see it as well during the day. Even though our WHY is often something that we are able to spout off at any moment, seeing the words written down has a tendency to refocus our brain to the task at hand. It grounds you and gives you a sense of purpose. If you have ever felt like giving up your business or journey completely, it is your WHY that will often bring you back from the brink of quitting and help you stay on your path! 

TAKE STOCK OF WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN 

This one is hard for me and often the last thing I resort to. It's easy when you have so many ideas about where you want to go, that you completely forget about where you've been. I've been in business for four years and the progress I've made is astounding! Small business owners and entrepreneurs are often times big dreamers and low on patience. They want to accomplish a LOT in a little bit of time. But in reality, life just doesn't work that way. It takes hard work, sweat equity and TIME to bring those dreams to life. 

When you look back to see where you've been and all of the lessons you've learned along the way, you can center yourself on the fact that you HAVE accomplished big things already, so if you keep doing what you are doing then you will likely continue to accomplish your goals. 

The comparison below is one that I consider often. This is Caitlin and she trusted me when I FIRST started taking pictures and continued to trust and encourage me along my journey. The photo on the left was about a month after I picked up a camera and the photo on the right was almost exactly two years later. Not only has my knowledge of the technical side of photography grown by leaps and bounds, but my business knowledge has as well. These photos represent all of that. I may have many, many BIG goals that I aim to achieve in the future and I do get frustrated that I'm not there yet, but these photos remind me that I have come so far and will continue to grow.  

how to avoid comparing myself to others - look back at how far you have come! 

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Back Button Focus | How to be BFF with BBF

You hear about it in photography groups and forums all the time...back button focus. What the heck is it and why in the world do people talk about it like it is the greatest thing of all time? 

I had a hard time wrapping my head around it when I first encountered BBF speak. I kind of sort of maybe understood, but I didn't really "get it". Despite not fully understanding the benefits, I jumped in and started using it and haven't looked back. 

Now-a-days, I understand much more about WHY people (including myself) like it so much and am hoping I can de-mystify the subject a little bit for you as well!! 

 
 

HOW DOES BACK BUTTON FOCUS WORK? 

In the absolute simplest of descriptions, you use a button on the back of your camera (instead of the shutter button) to focus on your subject. 

With most DSLR's right out of the box the shutter button will control two things: the focusing mechanism as well as firing the actual shutter in order to take the photo. 

When you depress the shutter button halfway, the camera will search to find focus based on what focus point you have activated, and then if you continue to depress the button the shutter will fire and the camera will take a photo. 

Setting up your camera to use back button focus means that you separate those two functions into two different buttons. The shutter button will only fire the shot and a button on the back of your camera will attempt to find focus when you press it. 

How+do+I+back+button+focus+-+beginner+photography+-+photographers+in+New+Jersey.png

WHY BACK BUTTON FOCUS?

The easiest way to describe the benefits is through a couple of different examples. 

Example 1: no need to refocus

Let's say you are photographing a dark wedding reception and you are having trouble achieving focus in order to take your shots. You are pressing the shutter halfway, but the camera is hunting and hunting for focus and is having trouble locking due to the low ambient light available. The shutter WILL NOT fire unless focus is achieved meaning you could be missing key shots because your camera will not find focus. 

If you use back button focus however, you can go into a better lit area, stand a certain distance away from a subject you can focus on (lets say 4-5 feet), grab focus and then go back into that dimly lit reception, don't press the focus button and take all the shots you want (as long as you are standing about the same distance from the subject). You don't have to worry about the camera hunting for focus again. The shutter will continue to fire because the camera has already locked in a focus distance. As long as you are 4-5 feet from a subject, your depth of field will remain the same and whatever subjects are that far away from you will be in focus. 

Example 2: focus will stay locked

Have you ever been shooting something and then all of a sudden something else comes in front of the lens? When you press the shutter again to take the shot your camera will attempt to focus on whatever that is, instead of the intended subject and you could potentially lose a shot since you will have to attempt to focus again on what your original subject was. 

If you use back button focus, the focus will remain locked on your subject despite other things getting in the way. Since you won't have to attempt to get focus AGAIN once the photobombing object gets out of the way, you can simply depress the shutter to take the shot instead of having to find focus again. 

Example 3: shutter will fire

Since achieving focus is no longer a function of the shutter button, you will be able to fire the shutter and take a shot whether you have achieved focus or not. 

This can benefit you in a few different ways. You can get creative with some shots and artistically have nothing in perfect focus in the shot. You can grab certain emotions or moments that may not be perfectly focused but if you had waited to grab that perfect focus you might have missed them all together because the shutter wouldn't fire. 

Example 4: tracking your subject

If you are shooting a moving subject, say a bride and groom walking down the aisle towards you, back button focus is awesome. As long as your camera is in AI Servo (for Canon) you can just hold down the back button and the camera will continue to track your subject and maintain focus. You can keep pressing the shutter button and your shots will still be in focus as long as you hold down that button on the back at the same time. Brilliant!

How+to+I+back+button+focus-+-+beginner+photography++-+photographers+in+New+jersey.jpeg

HOW DO I SET UP BACK BUTTON FOCUS?

Here are the instructions for Canon 5d Mark iii and Canon 6d. Nikon users, you'll need to do some googling (and maybe some purchasing of new Canon gear?) Just kidding!! ;-)

For a Canon Mark iii

Step 1: Go to your Custom Controls
Step 2: Select the shutter button and change it to "metering start" 
Step 3: Select either the AF-ON button OR the * button (your choice really) and change it to "metering and AF start" 

For a Canon 6d

If I remember correctly with the 6d, out of the box either the AF-ON or * button is already programmed to focus, but the shutter still will be set to do BOTH metering and focus, so you will still need to change that to metering start ONLY. 

Step 1: Go to your Custom Function III : Operation/Other- click set
Step 2: Scroll until you get to 5 which is Custom Controls
Step 2: Select the shutter button and change it to "metering start" 
Step 3: Select either the AF-ON button OR the * button (your choice really) and change it to "metering and AF start" (if it is not already set at that) 

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How I got the shot | First Look

How I Got the Shot | Lauren Teresa Photography | cinnamonwolfe.co | Photography Education

Name: Lauren Lynch

Business Name: Lauren Teresa Photography

Why did you take this photo?: This photo was taken right after their first look. I had a good amount of time with just the two of them before the ceremony began, which is another reason why I love photographing the couple BEFORE the wedding begins. It's important to have some time to allow the couple to breath and just enjoy the company of one another.

Camera: Canon EOS 6D

Lens: 100 mm

All exif data: F-stop 2.8 , Shutter 1/640, ISO 300

Why did you use these settings?: I don't normally use my 100mm for bridal portraits but this particular day I decided to give it a shot! And I love the way it turned out. I was standing at the end of the aisle for this one, a good distance away from my couple. 

I normally keep my f-stop low when shooting portraits so that my couple really stands out in the photo. The bokeh is just right! 

I had my ISO at 300 because it was a cloudy day. The best kind of day to shoot! No sun glare or shadows to worry about!

Thought process behind the photo: I knew I wanted to use this exact spot because of the mountains in the background and the beautiful flowers that were on the vines. I knew for this shot that I wanted them to be looking at one another. I didn't need to direct them much more because they already couldn't stop smiling, which made for such a genuine photo. Another good thing is that we didn't have to battle with the sun, it was the perfect day to photograph a Wedding...nice and cloudy :)

Editing of the photo: I edit all my photos the same way. I expose them a bit and lower the shadows all the way in tone curve (using lightroom 5).

Bride and Groom right after their first look on their wedding day

3 sentence bio about you/your business: I am a Wedding photography located in Northern NJ and would love to travel for Weddings! It's my goal at every Wedding to capture raw, genuine emotions throughout the day. I like my photos to look as natural as possible and I keep my editing to a minimum. I am blessed to be able to call this my job and I love getting to know each and every one of my couples that end up becoming great friends! 


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 Squarespace Summary Block | Don't Blog without it!

 
Squarespace Summary Block.jpg
 

Even though the original intention of Squarespace was not to be a powerful blogging platform, they have listened and responded to their users which in turn has really stepped up their game when it comes to the blogging world. They might not be shutting down Wordpress anytime soon, but anyone looking to have a Squarespace website can be assured that many of the same features desired by many bloggers are readily available through Squarespace.  I have blogged with Wordpress in the past and in complete transparency, I enjoy blogging on Squarespace MORE than I ever did with Wordpress and feel that they are making a lot of beneficial changes to encourage more bloggers to use their platform. 

One of my favorite features of blogging through Squarespace is the Summary Block. Once I discovered this gem, it literally changed EVERYTHING about how I blog and made my end goal of allowing my readers to have simple access to anything and everything they might need more of a reality. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

While there are many uses of a summary block, I am going to show you how I incorporate the Summary Block into every single blog post I write and tell you why I do it. I also have a VIDEO at the end of the post describing the process of how to create a summary block in case you would rather watch than read. 

I like to make it easy on ya! 

Most bloggers are highly interested in making sure their readers are not only reading their current post, but also have access to other articles posted in the past that might also be interesting or provide useful content to that reader. Bloggers are also highly interested in keeping readers on their site to decrease their bounce rate and ultimately do on their website whatever it is that website owner wants their reader to do (click on ads, sign up or buy something etc...) Pointing your reader directly to that content is usually the easiest way to do this, but it's not always the most intuitive or "pretty. 

You can add links throughout your post to indicate that if your reader clicks on that link they will be taken to an article that is related to what you are writing about. Like this. However, if the reader is really interested in your article, they may not want to click away right at that moment to go and read something else. By the time they have finished with your article, they may have forgotten to go back and click the link or they might be distracted by something else. 

I have seen some bloggers add links to the bottom of their posts as well linking specifically to other content related to that post and since its at the end, it makes it more likely for readers to click over to see the additional info. I like this strategy and oftentimes incorporate it myself on certain series posts etc...

You can also add content or links to past content through your sidebar which is a fantastic method to not only provide a link to more of what your reader might want, but you can often pretty it up with graphics etc...to make the information even more appealing. 

how do i use a squarespace summary block?

Another awesome way to show your readers older, relevant posts is to add a summary block to the end of every post you write on Squarespace. 

CATEGORIES AND TAGS

Before you do this, its important to note that you should have a relatively good system in place for categorizing and tagging your blog posts. The Summary block does NOT pull the information randomly (like some Wordpress plugins do), you have to tell the block what info to pull and you do that by choosing a Category or Tag or both. 

For example, for this post I have it set to the Squarespace category with tips chosen for the tag. If I choose that combination in the summary block then it will only pull the most recent posts with those exact same Categories and Tags. So if this is your first post using those choices, the block will pull up empty (because there is nothing for it to pull from.) So you might want to select a broader Category (that is still relevant) but has posts attached to it. 

HOW TO CREATE A SUMMARY BLOCK

When you have reached the end of your blog post, click the insert point which brings up your block options. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

You can select any of the four items, but I like to choose the Carousel for its simplicity and aesthetic. 

Once selected you will have the option to update the various settings. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

Select BLOG and then click on Layout. This is where you can change the style if you like and make other choices on how the info will be displayed. I choose Carousel, change the text to "Other posts you might like" , change the text size to Small, change the aspect ratio to 1:1 and choose 4 posts per row. I leave the text positioning and meta data as is. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

Then click over to Display. I change the number of items to display to 4 (although you can leave it at more if you like, its totally up to you), I click off Excerpt and then I choose my Category and Tag Selections. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

For this post I am choosing only the category "squarespace" which will show my most recent posts that I have categorized squarespace. The good news, is that in the future, when I create another post and assign the category squarespace, it will automatically update this block on this post without me having to do anything! I consider that a total win! 

As you can see its relatively easy to create a summary block at the end of every post. It makes your posts look more professional and gives your readers options to click on something else that might look interesting to them and stay on your website a little longer. 

I do wish there was an option for the posts to be rotating and not always the MOST recent. I've noticed that older posts have a tendency to get buried since the summaries are always showing the latest info. I also wish that you could choose multiple categories or tags when selecting just to mix up the content a little as well. 

I'm certain Squarespace will continue to build out its platform and offer solutions to these minor issues, but until then, the summary block is a fantastic addition for any blogger to use on a regular basis! 


Looking to design your own website on Squarespace and feel like you need a little help? I've got a course that might be just perfect for you! Click below for more info!