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! 


Top 5 tools for new photographers

When you are first starting out in photography as a hobby or even as a business it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed with products/offerings/tools that everyone online is trying to sell you.

Once you buy ______ it will make everything about your life butterflies and rainbows! (Sound familiar?) 

Weeding your way through the excitement of new offerings can be tough so I prepared a list of what I feel are the absolute best five tools that are worth investing in as a new photographer. All of them have a certain amount of hype surrounding them, but after tried and true experience with all of them for the past few years, I can vouch for every single one. 

 
 

LIGHTROOM

Lightroom is hands down the best tool for photographers out there. Its intuitive and easy to use. It incorporates organizational features as well as editing features and it basically just does what you need it to do as a photographer. While PS Elements and Photoshop can be used for photo editing, they are just not all that user friendly and the organization system is lacking. Lightroom makes it easy to categorize your photos, delete photos, zoom in, compare, make minor tweaks, make major tweaks, use filters, clone out objects and export photos multiple times at different settings. Its also non destructive so any changes you might make to a photo don't actually change the base RAW file. If you have any questions about investing at all in Lightroom, do not hesitate. Just do it. Since Adobe has a $9.99 subscription model for Creative Cloud (CC) it makes it even easier to sign up and start working in Lightroom today! 

BLOGSTOMP

Blogstomp is one of those programs you hear about on FB forums a lot. People are constantly singing their praises and making bold claims like "Blogstomp will change your LIFE!", "I don't know how I ever survived without it" and so on and so forth. Well I am here to tell you,  its all true! 

The investment for Blogstomp is relatively low for the benefits you receive. If you blog your images at all in any way shape or form, Blogstomp will change things and you will wonder how you ever lived without it. 

Instead of exporting out of Lightroom multiple times at different sizes, dpi or with or without watermark, you can do all of that in Blogstomp instead. Export the images once and then you never have to go back into Lightroom if you need something. 

You can also easily watermark and change sizes of images in blogstomp so uploading to FB, your website, or Instagram is so much easier. Recently I have seen some people complaining about how images look after blogstomping them, but I have never had an issue. I keep my settings the same for each medium I need the photos for and it using this program has shaved hours and hours off of workflow times resizing, exporting and getting images into templates. Unless something major changes with the software, I will be a fan of this program for a very, very long time. 

PHOTOMECHANIC

This one took me a while to buy into. I had heard many, many people sing the praises of Photomechanic for a very long time, but the initial investment is a little higher and what everyone was describing this program did can essentially also be done in Lightroom so I didn't really get the hype? Why pay $150 for a program that does something I can already do? Well, I wasn't realizing one really important factor: space on my hard drive. 

Let me splain. (5 points if you get that movie reference) 

With Photomechanic, you open up the images from your SD or CF card, (they load super quick, no rendering like in LR) then you can go through and "tag" images, rate them similarly to how you would in Lightroom and then you can select just the tagged images and then import ONLY those images on to your hard drive (or whatever storage or working device you are utilizing.) Let me say that again. 

Only the images you want to copy over make the cut for your valuable hard drive space. 

With Lightroom, you copy ALL the images over and then go through and select faves etc...Maybe you "reject" the closed eyes, blurry etc...images, but how often do you go back and make sure to delete those images out of LR or off your hard drive? Thats just an extra step that takes time. With Photomechanic this process is no longer necessary. 

I found the process of having to go back and delete images out of LR and my hard drive to be cumbersome and honestly most of the time I would not bother with it. Now, I am bringing over so many less images to my hard drive and saving valuable space. The rendering time in Photomechanic is also blazing fast, so my initial cull time after every session has decreased from about an hour to maybe 10 minutes (MAYBE, usually less). That is HUGE! So much time that can be spent on other, more valuable, business growing activities. 

17HATS

Client management systems. Ugh. Even that sounds kind of boring and not fun right? I quickly realized I needed a way to manage my clients information online as soon as I started getting buried in paper contracts, invoices, workflows etc...I researched many different client management systems for a while and was always turned off by the price. I just figured I didn't make enough steady income to make it worth it to invest the money. 

17hats was the perfect solution. Its kind of a funny name, but it makes sense when you think about it. As a small business owner you wear many different "hats" and this system takes care of that for you. The quote/contract/invoice feature is worth the price alone to me. It has made my system so much easier not only on my end, but for the clients. I get paid quicker, the interface looks nice and is easy to use and it does what you need it to do as a small, newer business. 

17hats is a relatively new company and launched in late 2014. They may not have some of the same robust features that other client management systems might have but I have used them steadily since last October and am extremely happy with what they offer, the new features they have launched and what plans they have in the works. They usually offer pretty good specials as well for new signups so that is a bonus! 

SQUARESPACE

I don't think it's any secret how much I like my Squarespace site. It's been the only platform I have used since I went into business and I am extremely pleased with the look, function, and customer service. I've previously used Wordpress for personal blogs, but for my photography site I wanted something that was drag and drop, easy to customize and not have to purchase hosting elsewhere. I wanted an all in one solution. Squarespace delivered and continues on delivering. 

Having a professional website greatly contributes to your legitimacy as a business owner. It is absolutely an investment that is necessary if your goal is to have a profitable, sustainable business! 

I hope you have found this list useful and as always, feel free to comment below or email me with any questions you might have! 

What other tools out there have you found to be invaluable as you grow your business? 

How I got the shot | Butterfly Girl

Name: Rosemary Green

Business Name: Rosemary Green Photography

Why did you take this photo?: This was taken during a fall family session. We had initially talked about doing a posed Christmas photo of three children as part of the session but it turned into a more documentary style session. The oldest of the three (pictured) had picked her own (totally awesome) outfit that morning and wasn't into changing into matching Christmas clothing. It was super warm for a fall day and she was wearing a neon pink and silver leotard with with red and and purple tights. The butterfly sticker was her accessory for the day and the first thing she pointed out when I arrived. 

When I took this shot I was just hanging out with the girls on the swing set and letting them forget they were being photographed.

Camera: Canon 5DmIII

Lens: 50mm 1.4

All exif data: 1/640 f2.8 ISO 400, Natural light

Why did you use these settings?: I typically shoot around 2.2 to 2.8 for solo portraits and for this I chose 2.8 so I had a bit of wiggle room for her moving back and forth on the swing. Once the aperture was set I chose a faster shutter speed to stop any motion. The ISO was chosen last to properly expose the image in camera.

Thought process behind the photo: The girls were having fun making silly faces at the camera so I moved to the swings so that they had something to do other to take their mind off the pictures. When I captured this image we were just hanging out chatting. I had been taking turns pushing them on the swings and they were totally in their element and telling me about something they did earlier that day. She just happened to settle into this pose when she was listening to her sister. 
With little kids I always find that when they feel like I'm just there to play is when I get the shots that show their personality the best.

Editing of the photo: I like my images to be a little bit on the brighter side and for the colors to be pop a little bit. To do this I try to start with a properly exposed image and then bring the mid tones up a bit. After I do that I usually take the blacks down a bit. For this one I brought the highlights down slightly to keep the skin tones soft. I also warmed everything up a bit by adjusting to kelvin and adding some split toning.

backlit young girl on a swing with a butterfly on her forehead

3 sentence bio about you/your business: I'm a New Jersey based portrait and wedding photographer. I love love and the little moments. Cape Cod is my happy place and ice cream is my favorite food group. 

Instagram

Blogging to an invisible audience? How to stay motivated

Do you think about blogging and it makes your stomach hurt? Never know what to say? Feel like when you do actually get around to getting a post up, you put hours and hours into making it great and then get absolutely NO likes, comments, tweets or shares and feel totally deflated?

Does it kind of feel like everyone else has hundreds of thousands of readers and the only person that reads your blog is your mom? (Hi Mom!) 

Today's topic is one that is near and dear to my heart. Although I wish I could say that blogging your heart out even though no one seems to be reading is a subject I know nothing about, I actually have quite a bit of experience with it. That's a little tough for me to blatantly admit out loud (or on the keyboard) without my pride getting in the way and making me want to instantly hit "delete" for fear of appearing like a failure. HOWEVER, I still totally believe in the power of blogging to help you connect with clients and grow your business. I've had to train myself to stay motivated to continue putting in the hard work even when it seems like the results take forever to show up! 

 
 

I've been blogging in one way, shape or form for almost five years now. I've seen periods of growth and periods of decline. I've had posts with thousands of views and posts with big, fat ZERO views. 

The biggest takeaway that I've learned throughout my time in the blog-o-sphere is that you really need to have a defined purpose and strategy for your blog or else it will totally get the best of you and frustrate you to no end. Putting time and energy into drafting text, editing and curating images, thinking of stories to tell etc...all to hit "PUBLISH" and then hear the loudest crickets you've heard since that one summer night in 2005 when you accidentally slept with the windows open can be discouraging to no end. 

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to blogging. Many successful business owners don't even have blogs. Some people one post a month while others blog every day of the week. Some people show images and no text and others do amazing long form content with tons of crazy useful information. Again, there is no right or wrong, it's just a matter of staying consistent and on point with your own strategy and goals. If you blog just because you feel like you should (because everyone else is doing it) you are probably pulling your hair out!

Can I get an AMEN? 

When I evaluated why my current blog was unsuccessful and then crafted a blogging strategy, I started to see some actual progress with my blog. Now, by no means am I a "top blogger" or raking in thousands of views a day, but I have seen steady incline these past few months despite a HUGE move across the country which obviously has resulted in me having little to no client images or posts to show. 

Despite that growth, I often feel like all of the hard work I put into my blogging is getting me nowhere even though I know that is most likely not true. Staying motivated is key in order to stay consistent with my strategy. I am certain this strategy will help me achieve my goals in the future, but none of it will work if I get frustrated and give up! 

So how do I stay motivated? I'm glad you asked!!

These are some ways I stay motivated to blog useful and relevant content to my target audience. Hopefully these ideas will help you keep on keepin' on when it comes to your blog! 

CREATE A STRATEGY

If you don't really know why you are blogging, now is the time to find out! Is your purpose only to showcase client images? Do you want to provide useful information for brides or families? Do you want to use your blog to grow your business by connecting with clients or other small business owners? Take the time to sit down for a few hours and brainstorm your longer term strategy for what you want your blog to help you accomplish. In addition, jot down a schedule that you think you can stick to for posting. 

STAY TRUE TO YOUR STRATEGY

Even though it can be very tempting to try out new things when you don't get the views or comments you were hoping for, staying true to your strategy is the only way to really create a cohesive and consistent presence online. Blogging is absolutely a momentum building exercise. No one starts a blog and instantly has tons of readers, it takes time and energy. Readers are selfish and with the amount of content that is available only a click away, you have to give readers a reason to come back. They come back because they know what to expect. If you are switching up your strategy all the time, readers will be confused and on to something else. 

SET REALISTIC GOALS

If you know you won't be able to post 5 times a week, then don't make that a goal. Just because someone else is able to make that happen doesn't mean it is the only way to do things. If you don't feel comfortable writing lots of copy, don't make it a goal to publish 3000 word posts on a consistent basis. Think about what you want to accomplish and back into your shorter term and longer term goals based on what you can realistically accomplish. 

INTERACT

When you do start to gain a readership (and you will, I promise) interact with them. Its called social media for a reason! ;-) Respond to comments and dialogue with your readers. Personally, whenever I receive a response to a blog comment that I made on someone else's blog, it kinda makes my day. Knowing that the writer read my comment and took the time to respond builds trust and makes me feel cared about. Let your readers know you appreciate them! 

SHARE NEW AND OLDER CONTENT CONSISTENTLY

This is one of those concepts that I kind of feel embarrassed that I didn't really grasp for a while. My thought process was along the lines of "the newest post was the only one that really mattered" and "old posts are kind of 'dead' if they didn't get any traction when first published." 

This could not be farther from the truth! Older content on your blog is just as important (if not more important) than your current or most recent post. One of my favorite things is stumbling across a website that includes a blog with TONS of easy to find and helpful topics on whatever it was that I was searching for.

It's kind of like the Target of blogging...everything you want in one place and you end up leaving with way more than you initially went there to get! 

Make it ridiculously easy for readers to access older content on your site. Utilize a sidebar, a summary block at the end of your blog posts and don't forget an awesomely organized blog archive page to make it simple for readers to quickly access any topic of yours that they might be interested in. The more time a reader spends on your page, the more opportunity they have to fall in love with you and book your services or buy whatever you are selling! 

CHANGE YOUR THINKING

If you are in a season of blogging without a consistent base of readers I want to challenge you to change your perspective. Whatever your blogging purpose and strategy might be, I want you to think about your blog as a sort of home base or foundation. Even though you may not have consistent readers now, at some point when momentum starts building and readers start flocking to your site, you will have a huge foundation of material already prepared for them to feast on. Tons of amazing posts that you spent time and energy creating will be sitting there just waiting to be read as readers get helplessly sucked into hours of time clicking from post to post and soaking in all of the amazing work you have done. 

My house is warm and inviting and a place where happy things occur on a daily basis. It serves as a shelter for my family, we have meals here, we can host people and fellowship, we do life in this place. But this house was built brick by brick and it took time to become the place that it is. When those bricks were being laid, the promise of warm, laughter filled evenings cuddled on the couch were dreams so far in the future that they were hard to see. But those dreams aren't possible without the proper foundation. 

So that is the challenge to you, oh faithful blog writer. Keep building that foundation...the beauty of the future is closer than it may seem! 

Do you feel like you have a blog strategy? Or do you feel like your blog is overwhelming? How do you stay motivated? 

Is your website missing these 4 crucial things?

Although I've heard advice that ranges the spectrum on this, looking at other photographers and creatives websites can be a highly educational activity. Even though it can become overwhelming if you are not able to control the oh-my-gosh-that-is-the-coolest-idea-ever-and-I-have-to-implement-that-on-my-website-right-away impulse that often strikes when looking at others websites, getting inspiration from others or simply seeing how others organize their thoughts can be highly inspirational. 

I spend a lot of time on other peoples websites. In this ever increasing online world, I do my best not to waste time while online, but rather to learn something, to be inspired, and to connect. In any given week, I probably view 50+ new to me websites. Mostly it goes down a little something like this: 

  • I see a thread in a facebook group that interests me
  • I might comment or I might just read through all of the comments looking for info, opinions, questions etc...
  • Someone's comment sticks out to me for some specific reason and I click their name
  • 50% of the time I can access their business facebook page so I click on that

*This is an important time to mention how important it is to be able to access your business facebook page from your personal page. Depending on your settings, someone who is not your friend may not be able to see that information on your profile. I would HIGHLY suggest making that portion of your profile visible to anyone who clicks on your personal facebook page. A lot of people don't even know that sometimes people have NO WAY of finding their business page from their personal page! 

  • Once on the business page, I see if they have a website listed, if so, I click on over. 
  • I turn off the annoying music that starts playing (I love ya, but the music has got to go!) and then begin perusing their site

BLAMMO!

This is where I start to see problems. Problems that sometimes make me want to close out their website. Problems that prevent me from connecting with them. Problems that could lose them business. 

Don't let something minor get in the way of gaining a client! 

 
Is your website missing these 4 crucial things.jpg
 

Even though I already spend quite a bit of time checking out other creatives sites, I really started picking up on these three issues when I started looking for other photographers and creatives to connect with once in New Jersey. I was shocked at the level of unprofessional websites that I came across even from the first couple pages of search terms that I was googling.

This list is comprised of the most common things that were missing that prevented me from going further with a LOT of sites and also communicated more to me than I initially thought. 

1 | YOUR LOCATION

This is the number one thing I look for when looking at other creatives (photographers, designers, planners etc...) websites, and I would estimate that at least 50% of those people do not have this information easily accessible on their site. 

Where are you? Where do you do business? What area of the country to you serve? What cities? How am I supposed to know if I can hire you to take my families photos or my wedding photos if I don't even know if you are anywhere near me? 

In the majority of sites that I pulled up after googling "NJ wedding photographers" I clicked on their site and there was no reference anywhere to the fact that they were actually IN NJ. Maybe some of their blog posts had NJ locations listed, maybe they mentioned it someplace somewhere on their site, but I had no idea if they were actually located in NJ or NY or even PA for that matter. A lot of stuff is very close up here in the east coast and I (as a potential client) may not end up emailing or inquiring about services if I don't even know if you are local. 

You want to make things as easy as possible for potential clients when they are on your website. Don't make them panic to turn off crazy music that starts playing once your site loads (again....stop, pretty please with a cherry on top? ;-) ) and don't make them email you just to find out if you are even in the same part of the country as they are. 

This is also important for connecting with other creatives to partner and network with. When searching for other creatives in the wedding industry I had the absolute hardest time determining where people were located. While some in creative industries do most of their business online and can essentially serve their clients from anywhere in the country, I am still of the opinion it's important to at least state on one part of your website (your about me or contact page) where you are located for local connections and networking! 

As an added bonus, the more places you mention on your website where you are located improves your SEO. You have more opportunity to show in searches that include those terms. 

On my photography website I have very detailed and specific information regarding my location on every single page of my website, so a client is never even one click away from knowing where to find me! 

have your location on your website

2 | YOUR PICTURE

I'll be honest, I was on the fence about this one for a while, and I can understand some photographers hesitation about putting their own picture on their website. After all, you are in business to take other people's pictures right? Not focus on yourself, right? However, after visiting a few websites when I was shopping for something specific, it did not take long for me to wholeheartedly become a proponent and advocate for showing yourself as much as possible on every part of social media as possible for a few different reasons. 

It generates trust

You are a photographer. It should be a no brainer that you should have at least one picture of yourself on your website. I know a lot of photographers say they are photographers because they don't like being in front of the camera, but even if you don't like it you still have to, in a sense, practice what you preach! One of your main jobs is to make people feel comfortable in front of the lens and draw out their personalities in a way that makes them feel great. 

Trusting someone with your wedding, newborn, or family photos is a tough enough decision. Making them wait until the day of to even see what you look like, how you present yourself etc...is just not fair to them in my opinion. I have visited countless sites of photographers who have no photos of themselves anywhere (or they have the dreaded camera in front of their face photo) and little to no actual information about themselves either. If the only thing I am seeing on their website is images, they have no skin in the game. It could be a scam. It doesn't read professional to me. Click, website closed and on to the next one. 

As a bonus tip, make sure you photos across all social media platforms are branded and similar. If a client sees a professional photo of you on your website and then clicks over to Twitter and sees you and four of your friends at the latest T-Swift concert and then clicks your FB page and sees a photo of a person that looks nothing like the other photos (because you opted to make your fb profile picture a picture that you TOOK, not that is of you) and then they click your IG and see a photo of a baby, they are going to be confused! Make them branded and consistent. Make it easy for your potential clients to know what to expect! 

(This is an old photo collage from my various social media accounts)

How+to+improve+your+photography+website+-+Cinnamon+Wolfe+Photography+-+Northern+NJ+Wedding+Photographer.jpeg

Helps you attract your ideal client

Whomever you have decided is that perfect client fit for you, your branded photos can help attract that type of client. If you are looking for spirited brides you might want to post a photo of your laughing and having a great time. If you are looking for more romantic, classic brides, you might want a photo of yourself in a flower crown in a field. If your aim is iconic, timeless and more reserved brides, you might want a black and white photo of yourself with a more reserved expression. If your ideal bride is quirky and alternative, maybe you want to show off your own quirky, alternative style in your photos. 

Whatever it is that you are looking to attract is likely an extension of who you are inherently even though there may be minor differences. Photos of yourself on your website and social media is one additional way you can work to attract your ideal client through consistent branded images. 

Provides a sense of comfort

I consider photography to be a very intimate thing. Stepping in front of a lens can be terrifying for some people and for most people it's at least a little awkward. Letting people "in" and letting them see you well before you meet up in person for whatever type of photo session you are doing makes the whole process more comfortable for them. They won't have to wonder how they will find you at the location. They won't have to worry about you being totally different from how you verbally represented yourself online. Comfortable clients equal happy clients who talk about you to their friends. If you haven't already added your photo do your website or social media....do it now! =) 

3 | A WAY TO FOLLOW YOUR BLOG

If you are a photographer who has decided to blog, by all means provide me a way to see your posts if I want to!

This is something that confuses me every time I run into it. I have happened across many different photography or educational blogs that have some fantastic material but short of just bookmarking their site and maybe remembering to go back and check in with it, there is no way for me to directly follow their blog from their blog.  This is a huge missed opportunity. 

If you are taking the time and effort to actually craft blog posts with great content, make it easy for people to access and share that information!

If I have to open up bloglovin, search around and hopefully find your blog, and then follow I just might not have the time or the energy in that moment to go through all those steps. If I had a simple sidebar button or opt in box on that page, my life has just become much easier and the probability that I will sign up has increased greatly! 

If you are blogging strictly for SEO purposes, maybe you aren't really interested in others following along with your blog posts, but I feel that is a rarity. There is so much content out there already, that if you aren't being smart about the way you craft and share your content then it will simply get lost in the madness of the internet. If any part of your blogging purpose involves creating content that helps people then by all means, help them by making it easy for them to sign up! 

This should be a good time to mention that you can sign up for these posts through the Bloglovin' button on my sidebar or you can also join the IN CROWD for more email goodies, info and strategy for your business! PLUS you get a free download of 100 blogging ideas. Yes, please! 

and last but not least....

4 | Your email address

PLEASE, please please include your actual email address SOMEWHERE on your site!!! Not every single person who visits your website needs to contact you through your contact form I promise! And if some people have to go through the rigamaroll (is that a word?) of filling out your contact form, they might just forgo contacting you all together. 

As associate editor for Red Oak Weddings I need to email vendors all the time and sometimes if they don't have an easy to find email address (because I just need to send them info, I don't need to fill out a huge form JUST to even get their email address) then they might actually just miss out on what I need to say b/c the process is too lengthy to get in touch with them. 

Put your email address somewhere on your site. In your footer, on your contact page, I don't care where...just do it!! 

Ok, rant over. Thanks for bearing with me. ;-) 


Want some more awesome tips designed specifically to help you get stuff done? Join the In Crowd! 

How I got the shot | Sunset Bride & groom

How I Got the Shot | Mistry and Scott Photography | cinnamonwolfe.co | Photography Education

Name: Scott Williams

Business Name: Mistry and Scott Photography

Why did you take this photo?: This is a bride and groom portrait taken at a recent wedding in Anacortes, WA. The venue was on the waterfront on an old fish cannery and converted cold storage warehouse which is now a wedding venue. The wedding timeline was structured specifically so that we could shoot bride and groom portraits at sunset and this evening turned out to be spectacular!

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III

Lens: Canon 70-200 IS II 2.8 USM

All exif data: Camera Settings: ISO = 100, S/S = 1/200, F-stop = 6.3

Lighting of the bride/groom: Profoto B1 to camera left with Profoto 3x4 softbox feathered on bride/groom. Manual power.

Why did you use these settings?: My method for OCF images:

First get a properly exposed ambient shot. I wanted my ISO as low as possible to reduce images noise, next I set my shutter speed to my sync speed of 1/200. (If I need more ambient at any point, I can slow down my S/S. If I need less ambient, I adjust with aperture) I then adjust my f-stop so that my ambient meter reading is -1. I wanted my background a full stop darker than what the camera says is "perfect" or 0 on the meter. This -1 setting creates a darker background creating a bit of drama and highlighting my subject.

Once I have a properly exposed ambient shot (Exposed properly for the sunset, clouds and background) I turn on my OCF positioning my light and modifier to my subject. I feather the lift so that my softbox edge is lighting my subject and the modifier is actually positioned or pointed in front of my subject. Once the light is positioned correctly, I take a test shot and look at my histogram. I am looking for my red channel on the histogram to just barely touch the right side wall of the histogram. Once I have it powered correctly, I know my background and subject are both properly exposed and the shot is all dialed in!

Thought process behind the photo: I absolutely loved the clouds and sunset and the natural beauty of the San Juan Islands in the background yet the rough and "industrial" feeling of the pier just looked great and matched my style perfectly. I also loved the fact that there was some standing water on the pier, creating a reflection from the sunset of the pier. The backlight and small bit of lens flare all came together for a great shot. 

Once I knew that I was going to shoot the bride and groom on this dock, I had Mistry (my better half) direct them to come together and go "cross-eyed" close or forehead to forehead. This pose creates intimacy between the two of them. Next we had the groom whisper a few things to the bride to create some emotion...we might ask the groom to whisper to the bride about the first time he knew he wanted to marry her, this creates emotion, smiles and usually a few natural kisses!!

Editing of the photo:  Editing was very simple and minimal. The shot was mostly all dialed in "in-camera". My editing for this photo included bumping up the shadows a touch, and adjusting the tone curve panel in LR to a "backwards C"!

Bride and Groom in front of a beautiful sunset

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Mistry & Scott Photography are Husband + Wife wedding and portrait photographers specializing in joyful, intimate images. We are based in the beautiful PNW🌲 and saved by grace✨ info@mistryandscott.com 📲 

Website | 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! 

I can't write about myself! 5 simple steps to creating a killer about me page

Whats worse than getting a root canal? The majority of small creative business owners will tell you that writing their 'about me' page on their website pretty much ALWAYS wins in that battle. 

Why is it so challenging to write about ourselves? To describe what we do and why we do it as well as including a bit about our personality should be easy right? 

Wrong. So, so wrong. 

Some of it has to do with humility. We don't want to sound braggy or like we think we are the bees knees, but in reality that is in direct contradiction of having a website to promote your services. The whole point of the website is really to say "hey, you should hire ME and here is why!" Its very hard to do that without talking a little bit about why exactly you ARE the bees knees. 

Other times, we just don't feel like we are all that interesting or we try to hide behind the whole "it's about my client not about ME" nonsense. It is YOUR business, you are the one providing the service and YES your client does care about that. Don't you when choosing people to do work with? 

Despite all of the reasons why it's important, it can still be very challenging to put together an about me page that not only accurately portrays what you want to communicate but also attracts your ideal client. Here are some tips to get you started creating a KILLER about me page! 

 
 

INCLUDE YOUR PHOTO (OR TWO OR THREE)

Seriously YA'LL! GET your faces out from behind those cameras (yes I'm talking to those of you with the photos of you on your website in a mirror with a camera in front of your face) and get them on to your website. I don't care what you do or what profession you are in (stationery designers with those nice hand/arm shots...I'm lookin' at you!) your potential clients want to SEE you and know who they are working with. 

Seeing the face and the eyes of a person you are potentially about to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars with is a HUGE way to build trust. I would love to do some sort of informal study one day and put 100 brides and grooms in a room and show them websites of vendors with and without headshot photos included and see which they are more drawn too. I have a sneaky suspicion I can guess the results! 

Even better...include a few different photos on your about page. Show some photos of you being you or living your life. Every single image tells your potential client more and more about you and builds more and more trust. 

And a side note...try (if you can) to get branded headshots, professional quality and include them across ALL of your social media platforms. Talk about a confidence builder for your potential clients...if everywhere they go they see the same or a similar looking photo, it exudes professionalism and trustworthiness! 

BREAK IT DOWN

When really struggling to communicate what it is you do and why you do it, break it down in the form of questions and then answer those questions. 

  • What do you do? (be specific!) 
  • Why do you do it?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • What do you do when are are not doing it? 

Hello! My name is Cinnamon and I am a wedding photographer. I photograph seriously awesome couples who are joining their lives together as one, and I believe with my whole heart and soul that needs to be celebrated and captured. When I'm not behind the camera, you can find me cozied up on the couch next to my handsome husband and fluffy pups with my nose in a book and my hand wrapped around a coffee cup. 

^^^This is just one short example of answering those questions in a specific and honest way. You don't have to make your About Me page a novel staring you, you just have to clearly communicate enough about yourself so that visitors don't leave confused. 

WRITE FOR YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

Let's be honest, nine times out of ten our ideal client is very similar to us. And if they aren't, they would probably still be someone we would definitely want to be friends with. Small, creative businesses rarely cater to the general public nor should they try to appeal to EVERYONE with all sorts of conflicting needs and wants. If you try doing this, you will likely end up doing a disservice to not only them, but you too! Identifying your ideal client frees from that burden of trying to make everyone happy and lets you focus on the things that matter the most! 

So use words you would normally use in conversation. If you are more laid-back and care-free, and use a lot of humor when you talk with people, do the same on your about page. If you are more structured and precise, showcase that.....don't try to be something you're not...just be you. 

If your ideal client is more eclectic and unique, talk more about your eclectic and unique hobbies and interest. If your ideal client is adventurous and outdoorsy, talk more about your interests that involve the same. 

We are all dynamic individuals with MANY different interests, tastes, and hobbies that make our eyes sparkle and our hearts pitter patter. We don't have to tackle ALL THE THINGS on our about pages...we just need to share enough about the side of ourselves that will connect most with the type of client we want to attract! 

INCLUDE A LIST

This is probably the easiest and hardest thing to come up with, but it is SUCH a great way for someone to get to know you better in a really short period of time. 

Think about 5 things that make you special...unique...that make you...YOU, and then write them out in list form. 

Love going to the gym? Love chocolate? Do you walk your dogs every day without fail? What is your favorite drink? Are you always at the movie? Always got your nose in a book? Always shopping for new shoes? Always adventuring with your spouse or family? Always take a 10 min nap every day? Always get up at 5 in the morning? 

I hear people say it all the time...."nothing about me is interesting"...that could NOT be farther from the truth!!! YOU may not find it interesting, but other people may find it fascinating. Don't underestimate the power of the little details that people can connect with. 


I recently had a bride contact me for her wedding and in her email she specifically said, "I love how you mentioned diet coke on your website!" Seriously! Something small and seemingly insignificant creates connection. 


SEND THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE

Don't try to overload visitors with every story about your childhood when you were five and always had a camera in your hand. Don't include huge paragraphs of text going on and on about every little thing that inspires or drives you. Instead...put links to other places on your website (how about that dusty ol' blog?) where you talk about those things. 

If visitors to your site are already interested in what you are saying, they will likely click to see more instead of feeling like they are being bombarded with info off the bat. 

On my about page I have a couple of links to not only my camera gear, but also to the story of how Paul and I met and courted. This way if what I am saying is resonating with them, they have the ability to click deeper into my website and fall more and more in love with me and all I have to offer them! 

Want to learn more about me? Click HERE to check out my about page! (<---see what I did there?) ;-) 

Tell me about YOU!! Leave one (or more) fun fact about yourself in the comments!!

Should I start a photography business?

Well isn't that a nice big question to tackle in a blog post?! 

This is a big question mostly because it is a big topic, especially in this day and age of easily accessible DSLR cameras, the draw to an entrepreneurial lifestyle and of course social media. Everyone knows a "photographer" these days so the barrier to entry is low and the benefits appear extremely attractive. 

But when it comes right down to it, when you start charging people money in order to provide them with a product or service, you are essentially starting a business. And with that comes a WHOLE LOT of other things that have nothing to do with staying in yoga pants all day and not longer having to answer to "the man" anymore.

And those other things can be boring, and they can be scary.

Like I might go to jail or get sued or go into major debt kind of scary if you don't treat your business as a business. So let's talk about it. Should you actually start your own photography business? 

should I start my own photography business?

Hobby or Business?

First of all its a good thing to differentiate the different between photography as a hobby and photography as an actual business. There are differing opinions on this out there, and there is no 100% correct answer, but here is what I have landed on: 

Hobby: All of your photography is for free or just for fun. No money is changing hands. People may gift you with things or money if you do photograph them, but you are not charging them anything for your time. 

Business: You charge people. You don't have to do photography as a full time job or as your sole income, but if you advertise yourself as someone who has a fee for a service you provide, you are a business. 

Soooooo....if you have taken an interest in photography and really enjoy it and feel like maybe you can make this into something that you can get paid for (and you aren't working for someone else as a photographer) then you are interested in starting an OFFICIAL business. Yippee!! 

Time

Next let's talk about time commitments when it comes to starting a business, especially a photography business. We all have different stuff going on in our lives, some of that involves a current full time job, sometimes it includes spouses and kids and active family lives. Its an important thing to understand that when you decide to take the "plunge" and actually start a business you are going to have to invest a LOT of time getting things going initially.

MOST of us have never started a business before and have no idea how to:

  • register with the state
  • get a business license
  • get set up to pay sales tax
  • find insurance
  • set up a website
  • figure out a way to invoice people and have them pay you
  • and on and on and on.....

And all of that is in ADDITION to continuing to learn your craft and find paying clients! OY! 

Before you jump in head first, take a good look at what you've got going on currently in your life and understand that things are going to be sacrificed, or might have to be moved around or some things simply might not happen because of your new time commitment to this business. 

I don't say that to discourage anyone from actually starting. A LOT of what you will hear out there, is to just START already or else you never will and I agree with that to a point, but I think its also a good thing to be smart about it and have a full understanding of what you are starting. Make the decision, but be smart about it! 

Goals

Alrighty, now its time to get down to thinking about what you might actually want to achieve with this business. I think honestly this is one of the HARDEST things about starting a business for some people. 

There is a draw to be in business for yourself for obvious reasons. You don't have to punch a clock anymore, you don't have to do things other people tell you to do, you don't have to work for some jerk who is not interested in your personal development or growth anymore. You are free to be your own boss, set your own hours and do your own thang. Sign me up for THAT! 

While on its face that all sounds great, if you don't have any goals to go along with your newfound "freedom", you WILL flounder.

  • You won't know how to price yourself.
  • You won't know how to market yourself or find clients that actually appreciate you
  • You will constantly feel like a failure because you will see other people achieving their goals and will wonder why you aren't doing the same. 

None of that sounds like fun right? (It's not, trust me.) If you don't have goals to work towards then you will feel like you are literally never getting anywhere. They don't have to be giant goals or 5 or 10 year plans, you can start small and when you get your feet a little wet in the business you can grow your goals from there. Set small goals per month or (even per week if you want) and keep track of them somewhere you can come back to so you can monitor your progress. 

Goal setting is one of the most important things for small business owners and not enough of us do it on a regular basis even though in reality it makes everything easier. 

Alright!! Now that you have evaluated these things you should have a better understanding of HOW to answer that question: Should I start a photography business? 

The answer is different for everyone who comes across it and whatever your answer may be, let me be one of the first ones to encourage you in your journey. Its exciting, its scary, it can be lonely at times, but it is also extremely rewarding to see something you have built from scratch begin to grow and be a blessing to others. 

And if you are looking for a step by step guide on 30 to do steps to actually starting a photography business, here is a free checklist for you to get started! 

How I got the shot | The pensive bride

Name: Heather Navratil

Business Name: Heather Laurenne Photography

Why did you take this photo?: I had just finished taking shots of the bride and groom on the bar and wanted to take some of the groom alone, the bride's gown had such a large skirt that I told her she could relax and sit there while I took some quick shots of the groom. As I was taking one of him I looked over my shoulder and saw her sitting there looking absolutely beautiful and I just loved the darkness and moodiness of the composition.

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Nikon 85mm 1.8

All exif data: 1/100 sec at f/2.8, iso 4500, no flash

Why did you use these settings?: We were losing natural light fast so I had to bump up my ISO a lot higher than I typically like to. With my style I like to shoot fairly wide open so I kept the aperture where it was for my groom shots and bumped the ISO up to allow more light into the camera.

Thought process behind the photo: The couple photos I had taken before this one had been taken straight on, with the bride and groom facing my camera. I left the bride on the bar to take photos of the groom in another location and turned around to see this stunning image. She was sitting there relaxed, playing with her necklace, I just picked up my camera and took a quick shot. Part of my style is capturing the unplanned or unposed moments.

Editing of the photo:  I like moody, colorful, and depth in my images so for this image I had to do a little bit in post processing. I mainly edit in Photoshop. I use some actions but I mostly had edit. I adjusted white balance to tone down the yellow from the venue lighting, increased the exposure, increased the contrast and blacks, decreased the whites and highlights. Then did some hand editing to increase the drama of the image.

How I got the shot | The pensive bride

I'm Heather Laurenne, the photographer behind Heather Laurenne Photography in Houston, TX and Richmond, VA. I specialize in engagements, weddings, and love stories for the whimsical, unique, and bespoke bride. 

Instagram | Facebook

How I got the shot | Celebration

Name: Jill Gum

Business Name: Jill Gum Photography

Why did you take this photo?: Rebecca and Matthew had their ceremony aisle lined in gorgeous light pink petals. Right when I saw them, I knew I wanted to use them for another purpose to give them a really special and fun portrait on their wedding day- so during family formals, we asked the groomsmen to collect them in a couple of bags so we could bring them to their sunset portraits!

Camera: 5D Mark III

Lens: 85mm 1.2

All exif data: IS 200, f/1.8, 1/1250, Natural light

Why did you use these settings?: I shot this at 1.8 because I knew I wanted there to be some good bokeh to show the depth in the petals and also get that glowy skin I love. The rest of the settings just corresponded with that most important setting to get proper exposure!

Thought process behind the photo: I knew I wanted to do this shot near sunset for that golden light everyone loves! The sun is coming in from an angle behind them so that there isn't too much flare (which can cause a lack of crispness and focus). I decided that unlike most petal pictures I see, I wanted the "throwers" to be a part of it (these bridesmaids were FABULOUS, lovely, and in the most gorgeous gowns!). I love the joy on their faces, and think they add a lot to the image (but that is personal preference!). This was our 3rd attempt at this image to get the petals just right! What we found in this situation was that everyone had to throw them at different heights to begin with- or they all fell in one large clump!

Editing of the photo:  Very minimal- added in just a little fill light and brought down my darks a bit to keep a little pop in the image. That is all!

Bride and Groom in beautiful light with petals being thrown

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Jill is a wedding photographer, blogger, and educator in Central Illinois. She also a wife, mother, and an industry encourager. She shoots in the midwest and beyond, and believes in serving your clients better so you can live your life better! You can find her @jillgumphotography on instagram, Jill Gum Photography on facebook, or at jillgum.com.


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!

7 must have blogging resoures

Blogging. Wahhh wahhhh......

A subject we love to hate right? Well, I don't but I DO know a lot of people out there look at blogging like they do a root canal.

Necessary but ohhhhh so painful.

Hopefully we can take some of the pain away and get you blogging like the wind. Its not as bad once you have a good arsenal of resources at your disposal, I promise! 

1 | Blog Calendar

Probably one of the hardest things to implement, but once you do, it really frees up your mind from the panic of "OMG, I have to get a blog post out tomorrow!" 

Creating a calendar was one of the BEST decisions I have ever made with regard to my blogging. Even if you are only blogging one day a week, having it written out on a calendar so you know what's coming and how to plan for it, gives you so much FREEDOM. 

You don't have to worry about feeling inconsistent, you don't have to think up ideas on the fly, you don't have to stress that missing a day is going to destroy all of the hard work you have already done. 

Systemize your blogging the way you do other aspects of your business. Get it out of your head and on a sheet of paper or into an awesome system like Trello and start to enjoy the process of blogging rather than dreading it. 

2 | Blog Platform

I am absolutely convinced that one of the biggest hindrances to creatives starting to blog for their business is their uncomfortableness (is that a word?) with the platform they would be blogging on. Wordpress anyone? 

I don't mean to knock it, but it can be very intimidating. There can be so many options, links, sections that you just don't understand and its not super clear what all those things do, so starting to actually blog can be scary because you don't know how its all going to "turn out." 

The only solution to this is to learn your platform and understand how it works so that you can stick to your schedule. 

  • Learn how to insert images properly.
  • Learn how to utilize header fonts and structure within the post.
  • Learn how to utilize categories and tags to properly organize your content. 
  • Learn how to schedule your posts ahead of time. 

Once you get the basics down cold, you will feel more energized to get blog posts up without feeling like you are walking around in unchartered territory. 

3 | Blogstomp

I don't know what Blogstomp's catch phrase is, but it really should be something along the lines of "A bloggers best friend."

Because that is what it is, to a T. 

I've been using Blogstomp for so long that I'm not really sure what I did without it, but I can tell you that dealing with images before it came into my life was a HUGE pain and one of the biggest roadblocks to blogging consistently. 

Dealing with images can be one of the biggest issues that bloggers face. How do the size them appropriately? How do I pair two images side by side? How do I add text to images? how do I make sure that the quality is still good? Blogstomp is the answer to all of these questions. 

If you currently hate the way you deal with images for your blog posts and want an easier system, invest in Blogstomp. I promise you, you won't regret it. It will be the best $50 you spend on your business in a very long time. 

4 | Blog Promoter

Once you write that post and click that scary "Publish" button....now what? How do you tell the world that you've put yourself out there in the form of a blog post? 

There are literally HUNDREDS of ways to go about promoting your blog posts. Most web platforms will push to social media through their backend. You can do that on Squarespace in the Settings option of your blog post under Social. 

You can also use a program like Buffer, Hootsuite or CoSchedule to push your content out to social media sites as well. This gives you the beautiful ability to schedule everything ahead of time and not have to worry about trying to properly share something you published while in the car between trips to the grocery store and picking up little Johnny from soccer practice. 

No matter what system you use to promote or push to social media, just make sure to share, share, share. No one will know about your amazing and wonderful content if you don't put it out there. Work through the feelings that you are being "annoying" by sharing what you are up too. If someone doesn't want to see it, they simply won't click. No harm done. 

5 | Lightroom Quick Collections

If you are a photographer, this tip might just change your whole world when it comes to blogging because it sure changed mine. 

I'm talking rocked my socks right off. 

Everyone's workflow for blogging client sessions is a little bit different, but when it comes down to it, the quicker you can get your images in the order that they will appear in the blog post the better. 

Since Blogstomp only allows you to view the images you add in a filmstrip along the side, if they are in an order that is kind of all over the place it can be a little frustrating, especially when looking to pair images next to each other. 

I am a fan of not always blogging sessions in the exact order the photos were taken because mixing up the flow can really give your post a different look and feel and make individual images more impactful. 

Enter Lightroom quick collections. 

If you select your blog images in Lightroom (i use the three star rating for blog images) you can go to Library > Attribute > and then select all of the three star images. Select all of those images and right click, add to quick collection. 

Then access the quick collection from the left hand panel near the top. Once there you can now MOVE THE IMAGES around in the collection to view how they would look in the order you might want to blog them. You can export them there so they are already in order when you go to blogstomp them for the blog post. 

Once implementing this system, my blog workflow has gotten so much faster. I can go from selecting the images to having them uploaded into my blog post in like 10 minutes or less! 

Here is a short little video for you to see how this all works! 

6 | Graphic creator

I know another thing that frustrates a lot of small business owners who might be interested in blogging is their inability to create or maintain consistent graphics for their blog posts. I am obviously a huge fan of having a main graphic for each post, mainly for cohesiveness throughout the site and the ability to get that image onto Pinterest in an effort to drive traffic to your site. 

I get it, I've been there too...I am not a designer and graphics were super intimidating to me for a long time. 

There are some great free resources out there to create your own graphics like Canva and Pablo, but I might suggest working with a designer to craft up a sample template for you that you can change and update in PS, AI or ID. 

And if hiring a designer is not quite in the budget just yet, then you can always hit up the Supply Closet for a sampling of templates you could potentially use! 

7 | Blog ideas

Ideas, ideas, ideas. What do I write about? 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, because its true true TRUE, but the more you blog, the more ideas you will end up having. You will think of them in the shower, you will think of them while driving, you will think of them while you are talking to clients. Its getting past that initial hump of feeling overwhelmed by how "BIG" blogging can feel when you first start out and the worry that no one really cares about what you have to say. 

So, practice makes perfect, but I know how tough it can be in the beginning. And that is why I created my list. My HUGE list of ideas to get you started. Use these ideas or tweak them to make them work for you, but either way, you will have enough to keep you blogging for a least a YEAR (maybe longer depending on your schedule). So get after it and get blogging! Leave your site in the comments below so I can see what you are up too! 


Come Hang out with Me

How I got the shot | Styled Shoot with new 85mm

Name: Lauren Simmons

Business Name: Lauren Simmons Photography

Why did you take this photo?: This photo was taken for a styled shoot I was asked to do in Richmond, VA! We were show casing the florist and an up and coming venue. Vendors for the styled shoot: Photography | Lauren Simmons Photography // Videography | Joshua Bryan Cinema // Floral & Planning | Courtney Inghram Events // Venue | Ashton Creek Vineyard // Rentals | Paisley & Jade // Calligraphy | Letterlyn Studio // Makeup | Kara Waggoner Make Up Artistry LLC // Hair | Event Hair by Lauren // Linens | Rent-E-Quip inc. 

Camera: D3s

Lens: 85mm 1.4

All exif data: Focal Length: 85, F-stop: 2.2, ISO: 200, Shutter Speed: 1/800

Why did you use these settings? : This was one of my first shoots using my new 85mm! It was a little more difficult to get used to than I thought. For the longest time I had been using a 50mm and a 24-70mm and manipulating it to do what I want, but the 85mm 1.4 did EXACTLY what I wanted it to do. Before that I hadn't used a lens with such a low f-stop potential so it took a while to get used to. It was a cloudy, but very bright day out, so I put it on 200 ISO. I chose 2.2 f-stop since I wanted to make sure to showcase the flowers for the florist since it was her shoot. Otherwise, I probably would have chosen 1.8! Since I was shooting at 2.2, I bumped the shutter speed to 1/800.

Thought process behind the photo: I chose this location outside because it had just stopped raining and wanted to make sure I was serving the venue well by showcasing different parts of the outside. As far as evoking emotion, my style is to ALWAYS try to catch the couple in a moment, but in order to do that I have to help create a genuine moment. What's funny about this shoot is that this couple was just friends! They weren't even dating! Of course I made sure they were comfortable before doing anything. In this case, my request looked a little like this, "alright you two sit close, nice and cozy! Now Julie, gently lay your flowers in your lap. Chris, wrap your left arm around Julie and use your right hand to hold her elbow. Look at me and smile! Perfect! Now Chris look at Julie and Julie keep smiling at me. Perfect. You two look so great!" I know I said A LOT, but the key to keep my clients in a genuine moment is for me to keep talking and keep affirming them. It makes a WORLD of a difference.

Editing of the photo: The lighting in this photo was not what I wanted it to be. Yes, it was bright, cloudy, perfectly diffused light, but there was a giant shadow made by the building. I really wanted a picture of these two on the rock, so I made the lighting work since my focus was the background. To edit, I upped the exposure and increased the shadows and blacks to make up for the lighting.

Styled Shoot photo of a bride and groom sitting with loose organic bouquet and a blue suit

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Hi there, I'm Lauren! I'm a wedding photographer in my hometown of Virginia Beach and I'm available for travel. My passion is serving couples on their wedding day, because it's one of the most memorable and joy-filled days of their entire lives. 

Website | 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! 

30 "to do" steps before starting your photography business

It is easier than ever before to start a photography business. With the availability and relatively low price of DSLR cameras combined with the fact that taking photos (mostly with our phones) has become an intricate part of our everyday lives, the barriers for entry into the "business of photography" are relatively low.

The process of being interested in photography, buying a camera, learning the ins and outs of exposure, composition and subject matter is different for every single photographer out there. There is no one "right way" to go about any of it. We all have different journeys and not all of those journeys lead into businesses. 

This list is meant essentially for those who are learning photography or have already been doing photography for a while and are interested in turning it into an actual business that is profitable. 

I distinctly remember when I first started in my own journey and scoured the internet for resources on how to actually "start" this thing that was to be Cinnamon Wolfe Photography. I never really found an all inclusive resource with helpful tips all in one place.

That is the problem this list is meant to solve! 

 
 

HOW DO I START MY PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS? 

You don't necessarily have to do ALL of these before you actually CALL yourself a photography business. Some of these are important to do beforehand and some of them can be done within the first year of your business. 

****They also don't have to be done in any particular order. They are just things you should be conscious of as you move forward into your business.. 

I will say that some of these really SHOULD be done at least before you start accepting money or charging people money for your services. I think it's an important distinction to make when we get into the muddy waters of hobby vs. business. To help understand where I am coming from here is how I categorize things in my mind to help make sense of all this: 

HOBBY:

If you photograph for free or just for fun (no money is changing hands) your photography is a hobby

HOBBY/BUSINESS: 

If you photograph on the side or part time but you charge people money you really have transitioned into business although some will still refer to it as a "hobby". 

BUSINESS:

If you photograph for a living, you have totally transitioned out of hobby and have a business. 

Is it just me or is the word HOBBY looking really weird about now?

So what sorts of things need to happen before or during your transition into an actual business?

1 | Register for an EIN number

You can apply easily online HERE

2 | Register with your state/city

(check local requirements)

3 | Get set up to pay sales tax appropriately

(check local requirements)

4 | Open a business checking account

I can NOT stress enough how important this is. Separating all of your business expenses from your personal makes everything about a MILLION times easier when it comes time for taxes! Just get your booty to the bank and open up that business account. You will NOT regret it! 

5 |  Get Insurance

I recommend Hill & Usher Package Choice

6 | Understand exposure

Being able to understand how exposure works and shooting in manual is pretty important when you start taking peoples money. With most things in photography, your knowledge of this will grow and grow and grow, but once you represent yourself as a business it is important to understand the basics about what you do.  

Read: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

7 | Website

Some would argue that you don't NEED a website to run a photography business and I guess in some ways that's true, but this business is VISUAL. You need a way to show people easily what you do and the type of work you produce. The internet is ingrained in our daily lives and having a professional website should be a given for any business owner. Luckily, Squarespace makes it very easy for you to do just that. Sign up for their basic plan and viola! You have a simple, gorgeous way to represent your business! 

8 | Create a business facebook page

9 | Create a business instagram 

10 | Invoice/take payment

How will you be invoicing or taking payment from your clients? I recommend 17hats!

11 | Contract

This is non-negotiable. I know a lot of photographers brand new to business forgo the contract or think contracts are only for weddings. This could not be further from the truth. You need a place to spell out the basics: what your client can expect from you and how they can expect it to be done. It doesn't have to be intimidating and full of legal mumbo jumbo it needs to set expectations. SO many issues can be avoided by taking this one simple step. Its better for your client and its better for you! 17hats also makes sending contracts a BREEZE! 

12 | Business Plan

Drafting up a simple business plan doesn't have to be complicated when you are first starting out on the business side of things. Write out what you want to accomplish (financially, technically etc...) and then write out how you plan on accomplishing that. Start simple in order to not get overwhelmed. The plan can grow with your business!  

13 | Image Delivery

Once you have determined your business plan or model, you will need to determine how you will be delivering images to your client. Will you be simply handing over the digital files? If so, how will you do that? Will you be selling physical products? If so, what will you sell and for how much? I currently use Shootproof for my digital image transfer and I love it! 

14 | Products

What products will you be offering clients, if any? If you don't offer products, where will you suggest clients get their products from. While online storage is popular, images WILL be printed and as a photography business owner, you need to familiarize yourself with this aspect of the business in order to help advise clients 

15 | File system for images and back up

It didn't take me but a month to discover that now that I was taking photos all the time, I needed a better system for organizing them. Plan out an organization system that works for you sooner than later, I promise you will not regret this! 

You also need a plan for backing up those photos. Whether it be to external hard drives, the cloud or both, get a system in place as soon as possible. 

16 | Lightroom

Buy, install and learn how to use Lightroom. It will be your best friend. 

Related Post: Everything you need to know to get started in Lightroom. 

17 | Client Management System

How will you manage your clients and the workflow that goes into each one? Pen and paper? Notebook? Online system? Again 17hats for the win! 

18 | Lighting

You should have at minimum an understanding of how off camera flash works. You don't have to be an expert, but situations will come up where you might need it, and it's better to be prepared than to walk into a situation you are completely unprepared for. 

Start here for more info on getting started with OCF

19 | Workshop

I would highly recommend attending some sort of in person workshop/mentoring/coaching or training at some point in the first year or year and a half of your business. Online learning is fantastic, but one on one communication can't be topped! 

20 | Join local photography group

Rising Tide Society and Tuesdays Together would be a fantastic choice!

21 | Rent lenses 

It is VERY easy to fall into the "BUY ALL THE LENSES" trap! There are lots of places that you can rent lenses for the weekend to play with and see how you feel about them before you purchase. I've bought and sold a FEW lenses since I started and am not finally at the place where I feel like I have what works best for me. RENT first and save yourself some time and money! 

22 | Invest in backup camera body

This may not need to happen for 6mo to a year in, but it's good to start planning for the future as soon as possible. If you depend on your camera to make money and something happens to it (it's a piece of equipment...anything can happen!) then what is your plan? Having a backup is essential for a business owner! 

23 | Offer discounted portfolio sessions for friends and family for practice

When you offer discounted portfolio sessions you set yourself up for success by communicating to your clients that the rate they are receiving is discounted. At some point in the future when your experience and knowledge expand, so will your pricing and it won't be as much of a shock to the system. Starting off on the right foot with pricing can save you hours of headaches later! 

24 | Read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

25 | Decide on your business name and get a logo

Your first logo WILL change, I can almost guarantee that. There is so much to learn regarding branding and ideal client (which will likely happen in years 2 and 3) that almost 99% of the time the logo will change. But you need to have something to start with, even if it's just your name in a font that you like. Try to create one in Canva or look for one on Etsy. 

26 | Learn as much about posing as possible

Posing quickly became one of the things I struggled with the most after I felt more relaxed about my camera settings. It doesn't matter who you are, when someone points a camera at you, everything changes! We automatically stiffen and look awkward because we just don't know what to do with ourselves. Making people comfortable in front of the camera and directing them is CHALLENGING. But it can be practiced and learned. 

Read: Picture Perfect Posing by Roberto Valenzuela

27 | Find another photographer in your area and trade for professional headshots

28 | Reach out to a few photographers you admire and ask to 2nd shoot

29 | Learn how to use Back button focus

Related Post: How to be BFF with BBF

30 | Continually write down and follow up on your goals every 3 months, 6 months and yearly

 

*** some of the above links ARE affiliate links, but I never recommend things I haven't personally used and loved!


How I got the shot | Couple in the Woods

Name: Marquette Mower

Business Name: Marquette LaRee

Why did you take this photo? : Randi and Porter are a very expressive couple. We spent most of their engagement session laughing, running, spinning, and talking. While this is very much who they are, they also would have moments of quiet connection where they melted into each other. Those moments were sweet and intimate; I felt almost like an intruder being there as they would just melt together and connect. I knew I wanted one of these moments captured in a way that really focused on them and the love they have for each other.

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: Sigma 85mm 1.4

All exif data: f/2.5, 1/125, ISO-320, no flash

Why did you use these settings? : With the thick stand of Aspens, I wanted them to take center stage in the photo. With their darker outfits I needed their surroundings to be light, and for the depth of field to be shallow so that the trees melted away behind them.

Thought process behind the photo: When we came on a fallen log, I knew this would get them up and out of the ferns and give a different perspective than we'd been getting. I had them hop up on the log and then I backed up the little hill behind me. From there I told them that we'd just done a lot of fun shots, but that for this set I wanted them to snuggle in, melt into each other, and connect. I'd seen them take moments like this earlier, so I knew I didn't want to coach them into something that wasn't them, and started with simple directions. They did just that. They leaned into each other and were home. With the framing, I grabbed a few full body shots, but the log and ferns ended up being distracting and took away from them and their emotion. So I went further up the hill, framed it to show just them and the trees, and got this shot. This held the emotion I was working for.

Editing of the photo: In Lightroom, I ended up cooling the temperature down a little, upping the overall exposure, and then darkening shadows to get this end result. I wanted it to be light, but not too airy.

How I got the shot | Couple in the Woods

I'm an orange obsessed, peanut butter craving, summer loving girl living in Northern Arizona with my husband and two kids. I am a wedding and anniversary photographer with a love for DIY/Backyard weddings! The three most important things in my life (beyond the obvious family, faith, and friends, because those trump all) would be warm blankets (I'm not a cold weather person!), hot cinnamon rolls, and flying pigs.

Instagram | Facebook 

4 uses for the Squarespace Summary Block

The Squarespace summary block is one of my favorite blocks of all time! It is just such a ridiculously useful little tool that can be used all over your site to expose your readers to more of your content. Don't hide all of your AMAZING content away somewhere, bring it front and center with the summary block!!

how do i use the squarespace summary block

1 | Bottom of blog posts

My absolute all time favorite use for summary blocks. When I used to blog on Wordpress (forever ago) there was a plugin that would do something similar and when I moved to Squarespace I thought I would never have that option again. I couldn't have been more wrong!

Some people might rag on the fact that the summary block posts that pull up aren't randomized, BUT to that I say, pish posh. You can select similar categories or tags to ensure RELEVANT content is shown at the end of the post which increases the potential for your blog reader to click on something else they might be more interested in. If you are here reading a post about Squarespace, then me showing you more content related to Squarespace really just makes your life that much easier!

If you are currently blogging on Squarespace and NOT utilizing summary blocks at the end of every post, I highly encourage you to start adding them (and heck, go back to older posts and add them in! Only takes a few minutes per post and the benefits likely outweigh that time investment! Do it!!) 

2 | Sidebar

Again, I love me some sidebar action on my main blog page (and all blog posts) because it is such a handy way to get other things in front of your readers, including summary blocks! I currently have one in my sidebar that includes a summary of Popular Posts. You can set this up however you like (through the featured button or a tag, or it could even be just a random selection of recent posts) but it gives your reader another option to see more of your content without having to scroll and scroll and scroll to search for it! 

Sidebars FTW!! 

3 | Archive Page

Another absolute favorite thing that I like to see on someone's website. A way to easily view tons of older posts or evergreen content in one place where I can quickly view my options and click where I please. 

I'm not even sure how you would make an archive page without using a summary block. Well, wait, I take that back, you could use one of Squarespace's archive blocks but honestly they stink. They are boring and oh, yeah, boring. 

I much prefer to see thumbnail images and the title so I can get a better handle on what the post is going to be about, plus its just FUNNER to see color and images etc...than just links and links of text. 

Here is an example of what the archive page looks like on my photography website for reference. 

4 | Home Page

Want to get people over to your blog and/or showcase your content in another way other than just "blog" in the navigation menu?

PUT A SUMMARY BLOCK ON YOUR HOME PAGE!

People like looking at home pages, give them something else to look at and visually direct them to other fun places on your site. I really really dislike getting to someones home page and having absolutely no idea what to do next. Sometimes even menu or navigation items are hard to find or not that intuitive. Make your website LESS about how awesome YOU are, and make it easier for your clients to navigate around. Maybe I'm old school but I think there is something to be said about concerning yourself with user experience more so than trying to impress them in a way that ends up being confusing for them. 

If you have a blog and want to get people there quicker, put a summary block of recent posts on your homepage or about me page. Pinky swear. 


Want a whole course on how to set up your Squarespace site and make it amazing without all the googling? Check out my Squarespace for Non-Techy Creatives course. It might be perfect for you! 

How I got the shot | Wedding on the beach

Name: deborah ryan

Business Name: deborahannphotography

Why did you take this photo? : Pam and Morgan so wanted their ceremony to be on the beach and it was set to be but it rained alot! So when the rain stopped for a little bit we all ran out to get the pics on the beach that we could.

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: Nikkor 70-200 2.8

All exif data: F stop 2.8, ISO 320 Shutter Speed 4000

Why did you use these settings? : I had no light at all to use. The sky was dark and very grey and totally overcast. I knew that I would need a fast shutter speed because the sand was wet and they were very shaky trying to walk through it. I knew I could get alot of exposure in post so I was not worried at all. I chose no fill flash as I usually want to avoid that outdoors most of the time.

Thought process behind the photo: So here I wanted the ocean behind them and needed a bit of the rocks in the image to break up the solid horizon. Morgan is one who thinks he is suppose to always look to the photographer so I had to trick him a bit. I shouted to Pam that she needed to say something very personal that would make him laugh. Well it worked for sure, I love how candid this shot was by capturing his true emotion.

Editing of the photo:  So I knew when I shot this that alot of work would be needed to bring this image to life. With no natural light at all, the image was quite dull. Washed out really.
I used a preset that I created to enhance color, clarity, exposure and contrast. From there I tweaked alot of other things in lightroom, especially the lights and darks. I saturated the blues to get Morgan's grey suit to pop out. Pam had a great tan which really helped alot for her skin not disappearing. Morgan has very fair skin so I had to darken him a bit.

How I got the shot | Wedding on the beach | DeborahannPhotography

I am married to my best friend Jeff. We have two beautiful children both getting married within the next 7 months. Creating and capturing life's journey for my clients through my lens is such a gift to me!

Facebook | Instagram

Blog options in Squarespace

If you are interested at all in blogging or blogging in order to grow your business, how your blog displays on your website should be of much importance to you. Making sure your content is easy to read and easy to FIND on your site should be up there in the priority list somewhere next to "ensuring your clients have a good experience". 

I can't tell you how many times I've clicked on a blog post that I actually thought was pretty interesting, and I wanted to read through more of that author's content, but I literally can't find anything else on the site. 

  • No archive page
  • No category buttons
  • Just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and clicking next in order to see what else they got. 

Nope. Especially in this day and age of endless distractions and shiny objects...no one got time for that. You gotta make it easy for people or they will click out in a heartbeat. 

Sometimes on Squarespace, making your blog super easy to organize isn't all that intuitive. People get stuck in "template mode" and don't think of ways to customize the template instead of just sticking with it as is out of the box. 

So today I'm going to go over a few different ways you can organize your blog on Squarespace to make it easier for potential readers to find relative information and read MORE of your posts.

You know, those things you spent all that time and effort on?

Yeah those! Let's get people an easy way to find them!

Squarespace blog options

Straight up scrolling feed

For the record, I don't recommend this. But it is an option. A lot of the templates come with the blog page set up this way. One full post after another...nothing on the sides, just an endless scroll of blog posts in order that they were posted.

SNOOZEFEST. 

This also makes it very difficult for people to find other content on your site without endlessly scrolling to the bottom and clicking on next. Maybe if you blog once a month or really don't care about your blog this might be an option, otherwise I think it is really not a viable option for anyone looking to have visitors stay engaged with their content. 

Blog Posts with Sidebar

BIG fan of this option. Both my photography website and this site are set up this way. I utilize this option mostly because this is how I personally prefer to read blog posts as long as there are options nearby for me to look around the site. 

If I am visiting someone's site for the first time (not by way of a specific blog post link) and click on their blog page, I want to see what their latest blog post is and then I want an option to see other content. Maybe I want to look at specific categories, maybe I want to see a full archive. 

Hopefully there will be links to other posts within the post or links at the bottom of the post to other relevant content (a summary block should be added to the end of every post you write!) 

Snippit of posts with Read More link (with or without sidebar)

This is also another great option as it truncates your posts to show just the thumbnail picture, the title and then an excerpt from the blog post with a read more link at the bottom.  This makes it easier for someone landing on your blog page to quickly look through a lot of different posts to determine what they want to read. 

Here is the squarespace tutorial on how to work with excerpts and description of how this works with various templates. 

Only one major drawback to this is based really on user experience. Think about how people are landing on your site. If you are sharing blog post links on social media and people are clicking on them, they are going to be taken to the full blog post, not to the blog page with the snippits. So unless you have another option on that blog post specifically that will either lead people back to the main blog page (like a sidebar) this option could just end up like your scrolling feed of neverending posts if your readers don't instinctively know what to do next. 

With a sidebar I like this option. Real Food Whole Life blog is set up this way so you can see an example. 

Summary block blog page

I do like this option as well and I know quite a few people who use it. Basically you put your "blog" in your unlinked section and then create a PAGE in your linked section and call that "blog" (or journal or whatever you like to call your blog). On that page you add a summary blog that pulls in your latest blog posts. This way when someone clicks Blog in your nav menu, they are taken to a page that has a variety of options they can click on. If they click on a post to read it and then want to see more than can simply click back on Blog in your nav menu to get taken back to that page with all of the options. 

The ONLY drawback to this is that summary blocks only allow 30 items. So if you are an avid blogger and years worth of evergreen content you want to make available to people, this might not be the best option for you. 

Here is an example of what this option looks like. 

One blog page linking to different category pages

This is similar to the above option but with a little bit of a workaround. In this option you can do the same, move your blog to your unlinked section and then add a page in your linked section called blog. On that page you can add images blocks for every category you have on your blog and then link those images to either pre-set up category pages or the category itself. 

If you link to the category itself, it will take the visitor to a scrolling feed of all blog posts listed in that category. 

A pre-set up category page can be a great option to showcase specific posts to visitors so they don't have to view posts about things they aren't interested in. For example, if a wedding client is looking to see all wedding blogs on one page, you can set up a page and include a summary block on that page that pulls in all of your wedding blog posts. That way when the visitor clicks on "weddings", it will take them to a page of all blog posts categorized weddings and then they can select from there. 


Now that you know how to set up your blog, you need some ideas right? Get my 100 (yes you read that right ONE HUNDRED) blogging ideas to help you grow your business!