Christmas Styled Shoot - Lauren Kay Sims - Fashion Blogger

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After moving back to Colorado, I started to look for local vendors and bloggers to colab with on Instagram. This has led to a several shoots that I get to experiment and have fun with.  I started following Lauren on Instagram and figured that someday we might be able to collaborate on a shoot. 

I have wanted to expand my style to get into in-home sessions after the food-fight session I did in Rhode Island. These themed shoots are really fun and make writing blogs more interesting. So I messaged Lauren about shooting a Christmas themed session and to my surprise she responded. She mentioned that it would fit in well with her Nordstrom Mens Gift Guide post, which you can see here. 

Anyway here is the photos, they are much better looking than my words. 

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Their Golden Retriever Beau joined us for the second part. 

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If you are interested in booking a holiday couples session, shoot me an email. Of fill out my contact form here. 

Why Photographers Do Not Give RAW Unedited Images

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Occasionally I get asked if a client can have the Raw images from their wedding, and I know that I am not the only one. I see this come up in my photo groups several times a week. So, I decided to write a short blog on why we do not give our Raw images to clients. 

For one I am confused as to why people think that they need these. I remember a wedding blog somewhere mentioning it but that was a couple years ago, and I think that people feel like they need to have them. But when you hire a photographer, you hire them because you like their style. So, why would you need photos to edit? 

My number one reason is that my photos represent my brand. I have worked hard to get where I am and to establish my brand. My photos represent a part of that. If I give Raw files anyone can edit them and say that it was me. They have the base beginning image, with all my metadata. 

The photos we take with digital cameras now are supposed to be edited. Back in the olden days with film, you know the thing that you can hold and is carbon based, not 0's and 1's, photographers could shape and image in their darkroom. They held on to the negative so they could reproduce it. 

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Some people like to make the analogy that you don't go to the restaurant and order the ingredients to make the food. 

Unless it is a commercial client that has paid for the raw files, I will never give these away. I am an artist and these are my canvas, my manuscript with all its mistakes, markups, and cuts. 

Go ask J.K. Rowling for her unedited manuscripts. She will roast you on Twitter. 

The Raw images are ugly. Well, not really, but I expose for how I will edit. I know what I want my end product to look like. I know my camera, and the capabilities of the sensor, and what I will do with it in post. 

When it comes down to it, unless you pay and pay well, the raw photos are mine. Im not holding an epic photo back from you. I want you to have the best and only the best. 

Boulder Colorado Couples photos before and after

So here are several responses that you can send when you are asked. 

"Hello ______, 

My company policy is that I do not release the raw files. 

Thank you"

Hello ________, 

 In order to maintain the integrity of my brand I do not release the raw files to anyone. The exception to this is when a contract is negotiated, and the appropriate fee is charged. The fee for each raw file is $___ (large amount). Many times this is only for commercial work. If you would like to discuss this option let me know. 

Thank you.  

Before using this one make sure that it is stated in your contract that you do not release raw files. 

Hello _____, 

As pre section _ in my contract I do not release raw files. The final editing style is determined by ________ (company name). We chose only the very best images and spend time making sure that they are perfect for you. 

Thank you. 


The Most Comprehensive Photographer Gift Guide Ever (Satire)

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As we all know the holidays are usually no holiday for photographers. We are crushed with all the editing that we are backed up on. We are getting inquiries for family photos and mini sessions. While trying to bake pies and shove bread into a dead bird. 

So I am compiling a list of gifts for that memory maker in your life. 

1. A Day Off

Take their computer, their camera, their phone, and lock them in a room with some ambient music. Like some Enya or something. Tell them to chill out and take a nap. 


2. A Stiff Drink

Doesn't matter if it is wine, whiskey, or a six pack. Maybe just one, maybe a whole bottle. It all depends on the year that they had.

This is an awesome gift. The Whiskey Advent Calendar

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$165 and it keeps on giving 

3. A Hot Tub

You can sneak into a rec center, or a community pool, a local apartment complex, or just go buy one. After a summer of weddings and sessions a good soak in a hot tub will be good. The best part is there is one for every budget. 

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This one is $299

4. A Puppy 

People with dogs have less stress, and live longer. Buy that special persona puppy. Then they can take photos of the dog instead of you!

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Its not like you have to do anything. They take care of themselves. 

5. Hasselblad H5D-200c

This will shut them up forever. You will never have to give them any other gifts. EVER. 

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But lets be honest. On a per year basis that is less than all the gifts ever combined. Purchase here. 


6. Large Format Film Camera

Megapixels be damned. If you get them this, they will have a resolution NASA will be jealous of. If it was good enough for Ansel Adams it is good enough for your photographer. 

7. Taco Bell Gift Card

Weddings run late. Help your beloved photographer out and get them the 4th meal. They will thank you later. 



 $100 should cover the whole year.

153 Squarespace SEO Tips - Actually more like 5

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Search Engine Optimization or SEO as we call it in short form is a buzzword among many small businesses. But lets face it, for many of us it is just like trying to learn a language in middle school. It sucks. Over the year I have attempted to work on it myself and really never seen any results. But last year I had to move back to my home state of Colorado and really did not have the time to plan it and move my business prior to moving. It has been a whirlwind year and a hard one personally, so my business suffered. This past year I received a ton of inquiries for shoots on the east coast where I had moved from. But nothing from Colorado. So I decided to take a look at what was going on in my site and see what I could do. 

First, I googled SEO companies. This was out for me as the monthly fee for these started at $1200. Next I bought SEO for Dummies. It is huge and I am still working on it. So next I joined several Facebook groups and followed along. 

I also googled articles about SEO and specifically Squarespace. Here are several things I did that have improved my rankings. 

1. Optimization

So much of my site needed to be optimized. Load time was slow, images were massive, content was confusing. First thing I did was rework my site. I love the long scroll, but I had just made one long page. So I picked a template that supported this. (I am using Pacific). 

Next I checked several sites that give you speed and other SEO information. 

These sites can help give you information about your weaknesses and strengths. I have looked at several other peoples websites through these and there are some very common themes. Several of these themes are images that are large, backlinks, and keywords. 

Neil Patels site is great in that it give you a well formatted look at what is going on with your site. You can see where your site stands. when I first looked at my site I was 7.6million. Today I am at 4.6Million. I still have a long way to go, but moving up 3 million spots is rad. 

Gt Metrix is great in that it gives you some things that you need to focus on. It also gives you optimized images to upload to your site to increase speed. As well as other issues to look at. 

Nibbler is great. It give and easy to understand breakdown. It identifies alot of the key components to SEO. My favorite thing is the Headings word cloud. This shows you your keyword density.  

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2. Keywords

Keywords are key. See what I did there ;) Actually keywords on you site can make or break you. If you do them wrong and spam your site, you can end up ranking lower. If you do them correctly you can rank on the first page results. There are several ways to go about picking keywords. You can write some words down on dice, and throw them craps style and see what happens or you be smart about it and use the Google Keywords Tool. What this tool does is show you which keywords are searched more than others and how often they are searched. You can see if Denver Wedding Photography is searched more or less often than Denver Wedding Photographer, or whatever city/region/state/country you live near or in. 

3. Format

The format of your website is huge. Google wants to deliver content to people that is not only easy to read, but is relevant, and opens quickly. If your site takes forever to load, because of image size or poor formatting Google will not want to deliver it to people. Make sure that your images are sized correctly, that your H1/H2/H3 headings are correct, and that your page title are on point. Don't just title your home page "Home", but describe who/what/where you are. Your navigation title can be simple, but describe yourself. 

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4. Alt-Tags

You can use keywords in your website copy, your alt-text, urls, and H1/H2/H3 headlines. Again write naturally and don't spam. When you export your images (or if you rename them within Squarespace) describe them for example "Downtown Denver Union Station Engagement photos" or "Iceland Destination wedding Skogafoss - couple holding hands." 

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To read about how to alt-text on Squarespace Check this out. 

5. Content

Lastly create some amazing content. Keep it fresh and new. Blogging is a great way to do this. But when you shoot new sessions that you want to show off, update your site. Don't let your content get old and moldy. Make the content relevant to your site and brand. Don't just create a site and let it become frozen. 

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If you are interested in advertising and marketing tips and Q&A sessions follow me on Instagram where I do AMA's (Ask me anythings) and live broadcasts about marketing and advertising. @newhopephotography

Iceland Wedding Honeymoon - Weddings in the Wild

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I realized that I never blogged about my experience in Iceland. I have shared the photos, and the galleries. But I have never told the story. It is full of long days, little sleep, and a lot of KM driven.

Alex and Matt sent me an email about their Iceland getaway. They were having a small ceremony back home, but they love to travel so they chose Iceland as their first adventure as a husband and wife, and they wanted to document seeing some of all the amazing sights that Iceland has to offer. 

We met at the Boston Logan Airport and ate lunch together before we took off to Gardur where we spent our first night, having a few drinks and chatting about life. 

The next morning we took off towards The Blue Lagoon. 

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When we landed in Iceland we headed to our first night's Airbnb to plan the next few days. During the time that we were there, the daylight was about 18 hours of daylight which meant that we were able to shoot for quite a few hours a day. So, first we headed south towards The Blue Lagoon. There were too many people inside, so we ended up shooting around the area. 

The Blue Lagoon

After the Blue Lagoon we headed South, with the goal being Seljalandsfoss. Along the way we came across some shipwrecks and a rad lighthouse. 

Later we came across this lake where we ate lunch and took some of my favorite photos from the whole trip. I absolutely love the tones from Kleifarvatn Lake. 

And what is Iceland without seeing some ponies. 


As the day started to come to a close (We still had several hours of daylight) we finally made it to Seljalandsfoss. This is one of the best waterfalls in Iceland. You can get behind it and get soaking wet. But we also made some amazing photos in front of the waterfall. I mean when you have wildflowers and waterfalls with beautiful people you can't go wrong. 

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This was almost the end of day one. But I locked my keys in the trunk and spent two hours trying to get them out. I met an amazing couple from Poland who gave me some liquor to keep me warm, and we took a selfie. 

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Iceland Day 2 - Skógafoss

On day two we headed out to Vic and Skógafoss in the morning. Skógafoss is probably one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland and it was hard to create photos without people in them, but with some in camera cropping and photoshop we took some epic photos. 

If you ever go to Iceland this one is definitely a must see. 

Iceland Skogafoss

One of the other most epic places that we got to visit while we were there was the Jökulsárlón  glacial lagoon. We did not go all the way to the parking lot, but rather stopped on the side and walked over. From where we parked you could not see the lagoon, but when you crested the hill it was absolutely breathtaking. 

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 Iceland elopement/wedding
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Iceland was such a beautiful and breathtaking time. The people, the scenery was all amazing. IF you are interested in an Iceland elopement or wedding let me know!

Chautauqua Park - Boulder, Colorado - Courtney + Nick

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Sometimes I see something and it makes me want to create. Recently I started working with an apparel company, which is awesome and takes me on some rad adventures. But anyway, I was driving into Boulder and I always take Baseline Road, because the view of the Flatirons is insane. Anyway on this particular day it was cold and a nature had quietly rested its soft, white flakes on the rocks and pine trees. I knew instantly that I wanted to shoot a winter couples session up there. 

So I took to Instagram and in my Insta story I posted for a couple to shoot in the snow. Almost immediately Courtney responded and was so excited for this. But in true Colorado fashion, the next several days were going to be 70 degrees. So we decided that we all would be flexible and wait till the next snowfall. 

So last week we saw that there was snow forecasted. Courtney messaged me and said that they were available the next morning if it snowed. So, at 3am I looked out the window and saw that snow was falling.

Boom, we knew we were going to shoot. So here is the results.  

Follow me on Instagram (HERE) if you want the opportunity to shoot with me. When I travel I often post for fun shoots out and about! 

5 Ways To Destroy Your Photography Business


While there are many ways that you can destroy your business, I have chosen 5 ways that may affect you negatively. These are either things that I have experienced myself, or they are things that I have seen in the industry.  

5. Having No Idea What Is Happening


You like making photos. You start with a cheap camera, and then upgrade (maybe). People like the photos you take and some even say

"You have the eye..." and you have no idea what that really means, but you think you might be able to make a few bucks with this gig. So you take your camera, and you start charging money. 

Your downfall might be communication or expectations. It might be camera settings or quality. OR  it might be business in the long run. But you get started and you get burned out because you did not take any time to learn not only photography, but you did not take the time to learn the business. 

4. Trying To Please Everyone


In the beginning we tend to take every job. We don't want to turn down any client because we think.

  • Its money
  • I need to shoot everything

In my first year, I attempted to shoot a newborn session. It was awful. I had no idea what I was doing, the baby cried for an hour. I realized after that, it was not my thing. I also realized that many things were not my thing. Figure out your brand, and what you want to shoot and work towards that. You do not have to specialize in; Weddings, Engagements, Families, Seniors, Cake Smashes, Birthdays, Commercials, Dogs, Births, Dog Births, and Senior Clown Weddings. 

ITS TOO MUCH.  Yes, you can shoot other things. But specialize in something. Your accountant is not the same person that fixes your car (unless you are married to that person). 

3. Pretending

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This follows along with the last part of number 4. Figure out your brand, if you are lost as a brand your customers will be lost with who you are. Yes, you will still get jobs, but over time you will become frustrated as people will ask you for things that you don't want to shoot. If you are defined as a brand you do not have to worry as much about people not knowing what you are. It is like when Coors tried to make "Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water." 

2. Dolla Dolla Y'All

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There are a couple ways to look at this

  • You are chasing money
  • You are not charging enough
  • You don't care

So quickly lets look at these. If you are chasing money, you have the potential to hurt your clients. Photography is not as about us the photographer as we would like to think. Yes, we have a vision, and that is what we hope we will be hired for. But the clients want us to preserve/provide something for us, and it goes beyond an image. They want confidence, memories, content, etc... This is beyond who we are as artists. If you are chasing money and don't care, that will come off and you will start loosing business because of it. 

When I first started I got $50 for shooting an engagement session. I thought I had made it. It took 2 hours and I made what usually took me 4 hours. But then I had to edit them, and it took several hours (at the time I was only using photoshop). As we all know $50 is nothing for a 2 hours session. If you want to last you need to price yourself as such. Remember you will probably have to pay approximately 30% to taxes. If you make $3000 for a wedding that is close to $1000 for just taxes. Price yourself to last. 

You are just shooting for the hell of it and your don't care about any of this. Well, if this is the case I am surprised you are reading this. 

1. You Focus TOO Much On Others 

Teddy Roosevelt once said "Comparison is the thief of joy"

This is probably the one that will kill you faster than anything else. Comparison.

Staying aware of what is going on in the photography industry is good, but comparing where you are at in your journey, your work, and your life will only lead to more failure. Use others as inspiration. But comparing your journey to others highlights is misleading. As creatives we all have rough times, we all doubt ourselves. There will be times where clients will destroy your confidence and times where others will try to tear your down. But focuse on who you are, what you are doing and keep on keeping on. 


If you are interested in advertising and marketing tips and Q&A sessions follow me on Instagram where I do AMA's (Ask me anythings) and live broadcasts about marketing and advertising. @newhopephotography

Denver Couples Session - Pumpkin Carving - Amanda + Jason.

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One of my goals as a photographer is to do more unique couples sessions. About a year ago I did an in home session with some friends and we shot a food fight. It was so much fun. So I wanted to do more sessions that are fun and unique. 

So I posted on my Instagram story that I wanted to shoot a pumpkin carving session for the Halloween season. Of course, now that I am blogging this, Halloween is gone and past, and minds are thinking about shoving breadcrumbs in a dead bird. But, I wanted to share this anyway. 

Amanda started following me on Instagram after talking to one of my future brides. She responded to my Instagram story and we got this shindig set up. She was excited as this was the first time that her and Jason had gotten pictures done since they had gotten hitched. So I headed to their apartment in Downtown Denver and documented the fun. 

As with any session I wanted to take them out and go some other fun photos. Their apartment complex had a nifty little courtyard that we were able to take some fun photos in. 

Thanks you two for inviting me into your house and letting me be a part of your lives for a day! 

15 Mistakes That Photographers Make - Complete with The Office Gifs

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Everybody makes mistakes. It is part of being human. They say that if you are not making mistakes, than you are not growing. Which is true. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of my photography career. But I learned and grew from them. When I am talking about mistakes as a photographer, I am thinking more about those that are operating as a business. Not the hobby shooter. 

I still make mistakes, but many times I have set up ways to check myself so that I do not. 

I sourced thoughts on this from a couple of Facebook photographer groups and just like myself, the mistakes range from stupidly simple things like forgetting to remove a lens cap before trying to shoot a photo to not backing up images properly and loosing something from a shoot. 

Easy Mistakes

As I mentioned above there are several mistakes that we all make, in the beginning. Sometimes we still make them as we grow, but practice and repetition can over come these. 

1. Lens Cap - When I start a shoot they come off and never go back on. Especially weddings. I have my lens hood on so the likelihood of my glass getting damaged is small. But that is just how I work. 

2. Not shooting RAW - in the beginning I had no idea what this meant. I shot my first few weddings in jpeg. Big mistake. Literally once you shoot RAW and figure out the benefits. You will never go back. Yes, RAW takes up a lot of space, but with how cheap back up is, it is worth it. With RAW you can control/fix so many things on an image. 

3. Shooting a large aperture all the time (f 1.2/1.4/1.8) - Yes it looks cool. Sometimes. But shooting a 16 person group photo at 1.4 may not work. Shooting a landscape at 1.2... why? Many times when we start our lenses are not capable of a shallow depth of field, so when we get a 1.4 lens we get all giddy and shoot everything at 1.4 because we can. Use the aperture that is needed for the job. 

4. Natural Light (or Auto, or any one specific lighting) - Starting out I think we tend to go with the flow. We shoot auto and if the pop-up flash happens then we roll with it. Once we move on, a speed-light is scary so we think natural light is the best. But, being a photographer is to understand how to control light. I use natural light for 90% of my work. But I also utilize a speed-light when needed. My signature shot at weddings is the backlit portrait. You can only accomplish this with off camera flash. (See the post here.)

5. Learning Gear - This one, I am putting this under the easy category is easy in the sense that you just need to dedicate yourself and your time to learn your gear. Sometimes this feels hard, but do not learn gear on a clients time. Do not try to learn how to use a flash at a wedding. Do not take a new camera body out for the first time when you are shooting a paid session. When you get something new, or when you want to learn a new technique, ask a friend, give a free session to "experiment." Knowing what your gear can do and how to use it is invaluable. 

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This is my bridge mistake

6. Being Self-conscience - This one is hard, I struggled with it for a long time. being a photographer means that at times you are taking photos during intimate or life changing moments. Robert Capa is quoted as saying "If your photographs are not good enough, then you are not close enough." Getting close can be intimidating. I was scared for so long, but then once I found my voice and my style, I was not scared any longer. As a photographer we have a job to do. Sometimes we just have to get over our fear and make epic images.  

Middle Of The Road Mistakes

As we grow and learn as photographers there are still mistakes that we make. I would venture to say that once we move from the "amateur" to the next step we start approaching the business side. We start taking photos, and then either are asked to take someones photo or we start charging. Then we encounter a whole new series of mistakes. 

First thoughts on free sessions. 

7. Free Sessions - I am not going to say don't do them. Free sessions, when done right are some of the most lucrative sessions I have done. Recently, I did a styled session (slightly different) but as a result, I have booked over $10,000 of sessions and gigs. When all you do is shoot for free, you are not only hurting yourself both present and future, but you are hurting others. 

When you want to shoot free sessions for experience or to try a new technique, or a new piece of equipment, state the reason when you ask people. There is nothing wrong with saying "Hey! I want to try something new. Free____ session to the first person that responds." 

But what will lead to issues is a post that just says "Free engagement/wedding/family photos." By saying this you are telling others that you do not respect your craft. They will come to expect this and even demand it. 

8. Undercharging Sessions - Let me start this by saying You do you. But When you charge $50 for 2 hours for a family session. You may get people that respond, but you will not last at those rates. If you think of that in the bare minimum of hours, that may be

  • 2 hours for shooting 
  • 2 hours for editing  
  • Driving time

After this you are already at ~$12/hr, that is not including the cost of your camera, supplies, and other time. If you include taxes you might be walking away with $7/hr. You can make more at McD's, and possibly get benefits. Charge what you are worth. 

Build a lasting business so that you do not burn out. 

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9. Being unprepared - This can encompass many things. First there are simple things like, forgetting to charge batteries or not buying/bringing enough Sd/CF cards. This is just a simple mistake, go buy more and bring them. 

There are other mistakes like Overall Preparing and training. When I started out I had no file management system in place. I had files everywhere. My first external hard drive is such a disaster that I hate looking at it. My computer used to have images saved all over. There were .tif and copy files on my desktop. I had multiple files and folders all containing the same images. I think a tornado has more order than my file management did. 

So I buckled down. I made a system , and I learned it. I now know that my 2015 engagement sessions are in a certain external drive under 2015 engagements> Client name> raw & final folders. It may not be the best way, but it is how I organize and how it works for me. 

10. Contracts - Most of the time when we start out, contracts or not something that we think about. Someone asks us to shoot photos for some and money is exchanged and there is no contract. But, no matter what the shoot is, there needs to be a contract in place. If you are just starting out there are a ton of resources to help you get started. But the best option is to check with a lawyer in your area about what you need in a contract, or visit The LawTog

11. Sustainable business - As I mentioned above, to not burn out, you need think long term. Sure when you start out, you think that charging $1000 for a wedding is a ton of money. In my mind when I began I thought 

"Damn, 8 hours and $1000, I have made it."


But it is more than 8 hours. You need to include so much more. If you shoot a wedding every weekend at $1000. You will burn out faster than watching Frozen 3 times a day. After taxes and cost of doing business, your profit may even be in the negatives. 

This is the bridge mistake

12. Deadlines and Expectations - When I first started, I never really told people when their images were going to be finished. I just thought to myself

"They will be done when they are done." 

Clients would then message repeatedly about when the images would be finished. It would stress me out and I would get upset. Then I changed, I started telling people that their images would be done within a week. If I was a day late I would get messages. Then I read somewhere that you should surprise people. As in, tell your clients 3 weeks and deliver in two, or 6-8 weeks and deliver in 5. Make your deadlines reasonable. Don't tell them that you will get them the images in 12-18 months. 

This leads to setting expectations. I believe there is no such thing as over communication. I use nearly every client touch point as a way to communicate expectations. That way there are no surprises. I have a whole blog post about this, read it HERE.

Heavy Mistakes

So I say heavy mistakes, because these take time. You learn things as you grow, but some of them are more about a bigger issue. 

13. Standing Your Ground - This one is hard, because we want to make people happy. But when a session is supposed to end. It needs to end (this is a personal brand choice as well, if you want to be relaxed about session times then go for it). 

Stand by your contract. This is in place to protect you, not to give your client a way around something. 

Be bold. This is your business, make it work for you. 

14. Photographer/Business Owner - Many of us start out because we enjoy taking photos. Then we fall into a business and learn things the hard way. When I started, I did not have all these Facebook groups to learn from, it was asking friends, and trial and error and more error. I have learned many business aspects due to mistakes. But I have also researched and read and educated myself on the business aspect of this career. 

If you want to do photography professionally, take time to learn the business aspect as well as deepening your knowledge about the world of photography. 

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15. Focusing on others

This one is the last one and it is in bold because it may be one of the hardest mistakes. I am guilty of it, and I am sure that many of you are as well. But with social media it seems that every other photographer is rolling in cash, shooting epic weddings in epic locations, getting featured, and all around not struggling at all. 

I read this blog the other day and it said "Do not compare your life to someone's highlight reel." 

Social media can portray anything. People can be sitting in their underwear posting an epic image and stating how awesome it is. 

So happy to be writing this next to an amazing view.

So happy to be writing this next to an amazing view.

I can do anything through social media. I can be anyone I want. I can "achieve" self-actualization. But this will support me about as much as a birthday balloon supports an elephant. 

When you compare yourself, you experience doubt, you experience failure that has not even happened yet, and you can let jealousy overrun your mind. 

I had one photographer friend state "I do not have any competitors because my clients hire me for me". 

Jealousy and self-doubt can kill your creativity. Don't worry about what other are doing, but rather look at what you can achieve. 

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Feel free to comment with other mistakes so that others may learn. 


If you are interested in advertising and marketing tips and Q&A sessions follow me on Instagram where I do AMA's (Ask me anythings) and live broadcasts about marketing and advertising. @newhopephotography

#metoo In the Wedding Industry


This is a strange blog post to write. It falls outside of my normal subjects that I usually blog on, but I felt the need to write about this. During the past week the #metoo hashtag has taken over social media. I doubt you missed it. You may have participated, you may have been triggered, and relived painful memories. You may have gotten upset, or angry, or any number of emotions may have come alive within your soul. 

Within the photographer communities that I am a part of, people discussed and debated this. They shared their stories, in closed groups. Some of these stories happened on the job, others did not. But I felt that in a way they should be shared with the public. The stories told below have happened, most asked to only have their first name, some asked to be anonymous. But, for both men and women being a photographer (especially a wedding photographer) can put you in situations that plainly suck. 

If you are someone reading this that is not a photographer, but have been in a wedding, or are attending weddings, or are just a human, these things happen, they are real. I have heard these stories long before the #metoo came about. I will hear them after this post. 

These situations can happen to women and men, gay, straight, bi, transgender. If you witness something speak up, let people know. If you see it, say something. There are no innocent bystanders.

 You do not deserve any harassment.


"Okay, so I thought about this question a lot before I feel asleep, and in between the tossing and turning I did all night, and in the hours following waking up. The problem is that I have too many stories. And most of them I barely remember because it “wasn’t a big deal.” And maybe that’s flawed. Because it is a big deal, but most of us just take it, because what else are we to do? Especially if no laws are broken? I will give you just a few stories out of the many. People reading this may brush it off, think it’s not big deal, feel I’m being an overly sensitive girl, and just believe I need to get over it because it’s what we should expect being in the wedding industry. I tell myself that all the time. But after thinking about this for awhile now, I realize it’s not okay. Just because it happens does not mean it’s okay and should be deemed as normal.

I have been groped many times while walking through a drunken dancing crowd at a reception, holding my camera high above my head and firing off shots to get some fun dancing photos for the couple. Some may ask, “Well how do you know you were actually groped? You were walking through a crowd of people”. Oh, we know. We know the difference between being bumped and accidentally having your hands graze over us… typically those people will acknowledge it and say they’re sorry more than once. When you are groped, you feel the hand on your butt, your thigh, and sometimes even your breast. And they are pretty good at what they do. You both know what just happened, but you can’t really call it out because they do it subtly and they know it. 

The sexual comments, suggestive words , and innuendos are endless. Honestly most of the time I just ignore them because there’s not much else you can do. You want the day to stay as smooth as possible for the couple, and to call someone out and risk the person you’re calling out getting pissed off and not cooperating for anything further is something I never want to deal with. In my personal experiences, calling someone out who is isn’t scared to say nasty things to you never ends well. I have told numerous guys (typically groomsmen), at numerous weddings that I am married, and they still don’t back off, or they’ll say something along the lines of “well he’s not here right now is he?”. It get’s old real fast. I have heard so many comments about my ass from groomsmen who think I don’t hear them. But their whispering comments are usually not so quiet. 

One of my last weddings I was standing on the outside of a circle of people dancing at a reception. I was getting some shots, and suddenly I felt someone pressed against me. A male guest was literally dancing all up on my side. Grinding and rubbing on me with his hands high in the air. I didn’t know what to do. Cause a scene? Lash out at him? Draw attention? So I completely ignored it. I continued taking photos as if nothing was happening which I think made him feel stupid. He stopped after about 6 or so seconds, said he was sorry, then went into the crowd dancing.

Earlier this year there was a man probably in his 50’s who kept trying to flirt with me before, during, and after the ceremony, WHILE I was working and taking photos. I was ignoring him, trying to give him a hint. Then randomly during the reception, he walked up to me and covered my face with his whole hand. In front of everyone. Like put his open hand on my face, covering my eyes, nose, and mouth. He then took it off and said “haha I love you!” and walked away. What the hell. No one said anything. No one did anything. He walked over and sat with his wife and his wife was giving me the evil eye the rest of the night. The two specific events I just wrote out may not seem like a big deal. I downplay them to no end, constantly comparing them to other assaults I’ve been subjected to in my life - much more violating, much worse than what I just described. But the comparison is not okay. It downplays events that just aren’t right. 

So, how did these events make me feel? My first initial response would have been just to say it made me feel annoyed. And that would be it. But I took the time to really think about these things. To let myself acknowledge how it truly made me feel, without comparing to other life events. And the feelings it brought up are annoyance, anger, fear, violation, apprehension, confusion, and loneliness. And honestly, I am scared walking to my car after every wedding. It’s late, it’s dark, there are drunk guests, and if I am not groped, or assaulted in some way minor or not, I have been eyeballed by at LEAST one man all night, and have had men come on to me. And they’re usually intoxicated. And it’s not just men. There was one woman this last year who went too far with her flirting as well, and I got nervous and had to run out of the room she was in with me. It was just she and I, and she got too handsy. I am always on edge and looking around as I walk to my car. And I lock the doors as soon as I get in. No one should have to feel that way. No one ever said anything to these guys when a room full of people saw these things. Nobody ever talks the groomsmen down when they make sexual comments and gestures to me in front of the whole wedding party - male and female… no one says anything. So I don’t either. And it’s not okay. It is NOT okay.



So it was a guest! We were in the middle of family formals, and this gentleman (a bridesmaid's dad) was winking at myself and my second shooter. When his family was finished, I dismissed them, and he stood there and said: "I want a photo with the two of you!" Of course, I said "No we are on a strict schedule!" and he got mad and huffed away. Later into the reception, he was dancing with his wife and maintaining really long eye contact with me. Every time I would glance over at him, he was already starring at me. When I looked at him, he would start aggressively groping his wife. I felt SO uncomfortable and embarrassed. I just tried to avoid him. Then later in the night, my second shooter and I were heading to the ladies room, and he stopped us and said "I just want to let you guys know you are both absolutely beautiful. You know that right?" Finally, I spoke up and told him he was being inappropriate and told him not to approach us again. He never did but my second shooter did tell me how uncomfortable she was with him the whole day. It made it difficult to shoot other candids at the reception because I could feel that he was watching me!


It was a wedding guest and a member of the wedding party. I'm assuming his age at the time was in his mid to late 20s. I didn't realize he was flirting till midway shooting the groom prep by myself and at the time I was nervous and focused on the groom. I only realized he was flirting with me when he started calling me "pet names" like 'hey ms beautiful photographer take some photos of me' or 'what a hottie' and it was.. Embarrassing for me.

I would just smile a little or awkwardly laugh. I sped through the groom prep and returned to the bridal room to tell my manager what happened. At first, my manager was making jokes, but he got serious when I said it made me uncomfortable. After the ceremony, when we were riding the elevator with several of the bridal party, he kept close to me, and I looked down throughout the elevator ride. He just kept hovering during the shoot and kept calling me pet names and asked for my number twice till my manager called me to follow him to shoot the couple elsewhere. He didn't touch me till reception when it came to the dancing portion. He was tipsy, and I was getting pictures of people dancing when he saw me and grabbed my wrist to make me dance with him. Because he was a little buzzed, I pulled away and sped walk to my manager to tell him I was done with taking pictures (I was on the dance floor for one song, that's not enough) I told him that /he/ grabbed my wrist. So my manager took over to shoot the remaining, and I stayed with our photo booth technicians. My manager told the couple when they came by on Monday what I experienced, and they apologized for their friend's shit behavior. I was 19, and I felt discouraged... Only because I don't want this to ever happen again. So I started wearing long sleeves, size a little bigger to hide my breast and slacks. I tried all my best to look like a boy. I stopped wearing light makeup to wedding works and just did everything to look masculine. I still do the same up to now.


I had an officiant harass me at a wedding but only after giving him my business card for networking purposes. He texted me non stop and sent me love emails. He was 75 and I was 23. At first he just said he liked my dress and that we matched. So it started off fairly normal and friendly. Then he asked three times for my business card, I was just busy and didn't think much of it. And then once he left and I was still working was when he kept texting me pictures and talking about his daughter, inviting me places. It made it hard because they were talking about what a great job he did and how they were so happy they found him and he was blowing up my pocket with uncomfortable and over the line things. It took me out of my work flow and put my mind in a space where I felt uncomfortable and unfocused

Anon (Female)

 Whenever I work a big wedding I am constantly getting hit on, Ill tell them thanks but i am working and also married! But they seem to just expect someone to hook up with them. On multiple occasions I have been sandwiched into people who started grinding on me. This makes it super uncomfortable. It made my job hard, I was constantly trying to avoid said person / persons and so I was missing shots because I was constantly trying to find a place they weren't.

Anon (Male)

I have had gay groomsmen grab my ass. That female photographer tell me to wear tighter clothes and go to the gym the day before etc.

At a wedding recently I had an older lady grab my ass in front of everyone, and they just laughed. "No. I don't want your 50yr old aunt grabbing my butt and saying how cute i am. Especially in a room of 200+ people."

Sexual harassment can be from any orientation/gender to another. Hashtags wont change it, actions will. And not just action from the victims either, but from any witness or person they trust to tell. Those people should have the moral obligation to do what they can in their power to help. If its just listening to someone after the fact, mentioning it to the culprit or interrupting it in progress.

These stories are unique, but at the same time. I have seen posts, I have heard the same type of story again and again. 

As wedding photographers, there can be times where we are in a room with a bunch or members of the opposite sex as they are drinking, getting changed, and encouraging each other. We have a job to do, but that does not mean that we need to subject ourselves to abuse or harassment in order to get the job done. 

What Can I Do?

Make sure that you have a harassment/safety clause within your contract. 

New Hope Photography reserves to right to terminate coverage and leave the location of the EVENT(S) if the photographer from New Hope Photography experiences inappropriate, threatening, hostile or offensive behavior from person(s) at the EVENT(S); or in the event that the safety of the photographer from New Hope Photography is in question. Prior to termination of coverage New Hope Photography will notify CLIENT of safety concern and offer them a reasonable opportunity to rectify said concern, avoiding termination.

If clients have questions about this I tell them that before I leave I will allow 2 chances to rectify the situation. I will first bring it up to the bride/groom/ family member. Secondly I will require that the person be removed. If this does not happen, I will leave.  

This does not mean that in the event that I leave, I will not have an upset couple. Or that they may not attempt to take me to court. But if you have documented the events, and made and effort to rectify the situation, then you have done what you can. 

Unfortunately, just because you work for yourself, does not mean that you may not experience harassment in some form or another. It is not right, but you can set yourself up for success. Speak up, let people know. If you see it, say something. There are no innocent bystanders. You do not deserve any harassment.

A hashtag will not change this. 

Posting on social media will not change this. 

But on the off chance that good people can stand up when they see something. If people listen and believe people when they hear stories. 

AND... if we stop asking questions of the victim, placing the blame on them and shift our mindset to the bigger issue of why people feel like they deserve to do what they want. 

Support people who have reported harassment. Let them know that you are with them.

Hold people accountable for their actions. 

There is a great article here. 

The Lawtog

and another here. 

7 Actions That Could Actually Help

Boulder, Colorado - Fall Engagement Session - Marissa & Ben

Marissa & Ben Boulder Colorado Engagement.jpg

The bell had just gone off and I had a lunch period after the class that I was subbing in, the voice on the other end spoke. 

"Hello, my name is Kathleen, you were referred to me by Mary who owns Metalmark Jewelry. My daughter just got engaged and I would love to talk to you about wedding photography."

Well, Ben and Marissa had just gotten engaged and were flying in to see Marissa's parents. Kathleen, Marissa's mother, was doing a whole bunch of ground work. Boy, was she efficient, she had already booked the venue and a few others and was on to the photographer. So, we talked for about 45 minutes and I relayed to her my style and how I operate during a wedding day. Most importantly I talked to her about how I work to create a stress-free experience for my couples. 

I was so excited when I received an email from Marissa and Kathleen saying that they wanted to book me. Kathleen loved how prepared I was, how I took the time to talk with her, and how I work to make the experience stress-free. 

Weddings are stressful enough, you don't need to have your photographer, the vendor that is with you all day to create a more stressful experience. After the boring paperwork part, we set up a time to shoot engagement photos, and that is where magic happened. 

The engagement session location was South Mesa Trailhead in South Boulder. I love this location because it is (usually) quiet and you get an amazing view of the Flatirons. On this particular day, there were probably about 10 other photo sessions happening here, so it is not a secret location by any means. But the colors and the light were killer. 

These two met while taking their dogs to the dog park, and hit it off. 

Their wedding will take place next year at the Vail Interfaith Chapel with the reception at The 10th Restaurant.  I cannot contain my excitement as this will be my first wedding in Vail since moving back home to Colorado. This is going to be epic.


You can see the video from this engagement session below. (All my couples sessions include video!)


{This session was shot with Nikon d750's and Sigma 24mm and 35mm Art Series Lenses) 


SMAL Wild Presets Review



Awhile back I had the opportunity to test some presets for a fellow photographer, Sven Malojlo. He spent a lot of time working and crafting something that was new and unique. Not only did he provide presets, but he also created adjustments and tones as well. I use his presets as a base for my food photography and have started using them as a base for some of my couples and engagement work. Fortunately/unfortunately these were just a preview so it is hard to give specific names and examples for others when they ask. So last week I purchased the SMAL Wild pack so that I could give it a shot. 



Here are my thoughts. 

I new from the preview pack that I would like these overall. Sven has taken the time to create some truly unique presets. His colors are different than many of the other packs that are floating around out there. 

I tested these on a previous shoot. I shot this one very dark, so I wanted to see how the WILD pack would work with my style. 

I really love how great these presets are on skin tones, they do not completely change someones color or texture by making them too light/dark or harsh/soft. 



One of my favorite parts about Sven's preset packs are the extras that you get with them, the Tones and Adjustments. You can really find that color look that you are looking for, and they work on both color and black & white photos. Below is a BW that I applied a tone. 





Here are a couple more SOOC with SMAL 01 applied. The image on the right the exposure was brought up, but that was the only adjustment. 


But what about sunny situations? how do these presets work with the bright daylight images? Well you are in luck! I have some examples of that as well. 

When I am looking at presets, I love seeing the before and after with no adjustments. Below are examples of several of the SMAL WILD presets with no adjustments.







SMAL Wild Original (1 of 1).jpg

Single Photo Comparison

Another thing that I like to see when I am looking at presets is an example of a single photo with all the presets applied. That way I can see the various ways that the light reacts to the images. 

Here is the SOOC and below is each SMAL WILD preset applied to this image. No adjustments were made. 

Starting top left to right 01-05, bottom left to right 06-10 & BW 09 - 10

Starting top left to right 01-05, bottom left to right 06-10 & BW 09 - 10

I am currently editing my most recent engagement shoot with this pack as well. I am really enjoying the balance of the highlights and shadows. 

Like I mentioned earlier I really like how well these presets react with skin tones. I would highly recommend these presets to anyone looking to enhance their workflow.

Remember presets should never be a one click solution, but rather a base to speed up the monotony of editing. 

If you are interested in purchasing these, check out his site, if you buy all three packs you get a rad discount. 

Facebook Ads Part 2 - Thoughts, Strategy, & Ramblings

Ocean Themed Bridal Shoot (14 of 80).jpg

So I recently published a post about how to create a Facebook ad. You can find that here.  

So let's start out with the simplest question. Do they Work? The short answer is yes. In the second quarter of 2017 Facebook Ads brought in $9.16 billion dollars (Adweek). So, yes they work. Digital marketing is taking over as the big player for companies when it comes to marketing. The long is is that they work only if you know how to use them. There are many nuances to Facebook Ads, and I still am learning many new things about the platform. The biggest thing to know to utilize them correctly is to do the background work. 

1. Know your target market. 

2. Know your objective(s)

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Target Market

Your target market is a group of people or buyers that have common characteristics, needs, or buying patterns. If you have not figured this out, there is no point to even starting to create a Facebook ad campaign. If you do, you are just blindly handing money over to Facebook. 

Crazy Egg has a great article here, with practical steps to define your target market. 

I also have a worksheet that may help. (It is very simple and still needs work) But here it is.  Taking the time to define your target market can be one of the most effective steps to building your brand and being profitable in your business. 

Think of your target market as if you were fishing for a specific fish, you can throw a net in that catches everything. This includes other types of fish, other types of sea life, rubbish, plants, and maybe a few other items. But if you know the patterns of the fish that you want to catch, you can fish in a way that specifically catches that type of fish. 

Do you think Tesla markets to people with a $25-40K income that shop at Walmart and eat at Del Taco? Probably not. On the flip side, do you think that Walmart markets to people who make $500K and Drive Tesla's and regularly eat at high-end restaurants? Probably not. Those would be wasted ad dollars. 

I would rather have my ad shown to fewer people with a higher likelihood to buy than have thousands of people see it with no action. 

Intimate Engagment Session - Big Sur California (13 of 69).jpg


Starting an advertising campaign without an objective is nearly as bad as starting one without knowing your market. You will approach the ad and copy within the ad differently if you are trying to build brand awareness vs. if you are wanting to build an email list. 

In the marketing world, the best way to build your objectives is to follow the SMART objectives.

  • Specific – If your objective is too broad it will be hard to know if you were successful. If you want to build brand awareness, how? What will you do? How will it be measurable?
  • Measurable – Can you measure in a quantitative or qualitative way? How?
  • Actionable – How will this improve your business. 
  • Relevant – This the objective relevant? Does it even matter?
  • Time – Can you set a specific time frame for your objective. 

An example of a smart objective for a photography ad campaign could be. 

I will gain 50 relevant email addresses for future mini-sessions within two weeks, and 100 relevant email addresses within 30 days. 

Ocean Themed Bridal Shoot (9 of 80).jpg

By taking the time to figure out your Target Market and your Objectives you can save yourself not only time and headaches but also a lot of money. If you want to make an ad without taking the time to figure these out, then you are just throwing your hard earned dollars away. You can feel free to just Paypal it to me and I will make better use of it. 

Stay Tuned for Part 3 on Copy and Strategy

Facebook Ads - How do I create one?

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Facebook ads are a beast. There are people that think that they are ineffective. But according to Adweek the Facebook ads brought in $9.16 Billion dollars just in the second quarter of 2017. People don't spend money on things that do not work. Except for the government. (Jk... Kinda).

As a Colorado wedding photographer, there is a large market for photographers, so standing out is key. 

Anyway, when you first create your account the Facebook Ads Manager can look very confusing, but when you break it down, the basics are simple. The hard part is all the background work that you have to do prior. By this I mean, identifying your target market, setting up your goals, and writing your ad copy (One of the hardest things). 

Before you get started you need to create an account. Find out how here.  

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After you have the account created, you can begin creating your ads. Below is a video walkthrough for those of you who want to create an ad. 

Over the years I have used Facebook ads to build brand awareness and to reach new clients. When I relocated back to Denver, Colorado, and wanted to start reaching more clients for weddings in Denver, I targeted potential clients there. When I wanted to shoot more weddings in Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge, I started targeting clients there. I have only been back in Colorado for a year, but those ads are paying off. 

Stay tuned for a follow up video on Strategy and Ads. 

If you have any questions please leave a comment or shoot me an email. 




Dear Photographer, What can we learn from the recent $1 million lawsuit?

 Iceland elopement/wedding

Over the years there have been a plethora of stories of people feeling slighted, and then destroying a business that people have spent years to build. Cake shops being shut down for refusing service, photographers being sued for coverage, or images, or failure to meet expectations, it is a messy world. 
Recently a story that I have been following for awhile has been somewhat resolved. A photographer, Andrea Polito, was sued by her clients over "images being held hostage." I am not going to go into the whole story here, but you can read in the links below. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Before I start writing my opinions on this, let me say that I have not spoken to Andrea Polito or anyone else involved with the situation. 
So probably like many of you, after reading these stories about people closing their business after years of hard work due to an upset client, I have had the fear that this may, for some reason, happen to me. If you have been following my blogs for any time, you know that I am a huge proponent of branding (more in the non-visual sense) and communication. 
I believe that 99% of issues can be solved with good communication, and most of this comes before the day of the shoot/wedding day. Your email communications, your brochures, your consultation/contract and even any shoots/meetings before the big day are huge as far as what you are saying to the client. 

All of your customer touch points are massive when it comes to your brand's identity and image. Some of this is visual, but much of it is in the way it is presented. Now in the recent case, the couple felt like their images were being “Held Hostage.” I recently listened to a podcast where one of the guys was talking about how digital photography has changed when and how people want to receive their images. People don’t want to wait, everyone feels like digital is instant and they want their images ASAP. 
With our businesses, we all have the choice of how to make the final delivery of products. I for one value printed photography. Over the past two years, I have delivered all my images as 4x6 prints first before I send the digital delivery. I put a lot of work into my photos, and I know that a client can flip through 500-800 photos in 10 minutes. I want them to realize what their investment is worth and to be able to relive their wedding day over again as they work through the prints. Yes, this process takes time, and I have had impatient clients, but that impatience is good. I have told them before hand that this is how I operate because I value my work and I want them to see the value in what they are paying for. 


Like I mentioned before there is so much you can do before the shoot/wedding day that will help your brand. If you are working with someone for a single shoot, then make sure that you highlight why you do what you do before the shoot. This can be in the initial email, a follow-up email, and even…a phone call. Better yet use several of these methods. Make a PDF or even a hard copy of what they should expect. Set yourself up for success before you even start. If you are working with a client for a wedding, then you have far more opportunities to set your clients expectations.
When a client first contacts me, I send them an email that lines out why I do what I do. This includes why I find printed work important, my style, and what they can expect as far as the experience. 
During the consultation, I bring a paper copy of the contract (I send a digital one as well) and as we talk, I touch on key points of the contract, once again explaining why I do what I do. The clients can read over the contract, ask any questions, take it home, mull it over and ask any questions they may have. I strive to be as transparent as possible. 
Once they book, I send them a PDF that I created for tips on engagement photos and planning their wedding if they want the same quality of photos that they see on my site. In this PDF I mention things like when the best times are to shoot, what to wear to their engagement shoots, and when they can expect their photos after the wedding and how they will be delivered. 
Every business has clients that are unhappy, and many things can be resolved. But there may come a time when it goes to a deeper level. 

To Be Professional 

As photographers, it is our responsibility to educate our clients. Any professional should educate their clients. There may be a few that know the process of booking a photographer, but each photographer is different. Every type of shoot is different. It probably will not take the same amount of time to process photos from an engagement shoot as it will to edit a wedding. But clients may not know this. Also, they may have had a friend that received their photos within a week, and that will mean that they may assume this is the status quo. 
This education is also an opportunity for you to sell your potential client on YOU, not just on photography. Everyone has a unique selling point, the thing that sets you apart from others, find yours and sell it. 

The Lawsuit
This lawsuit in a way is a win for the small business owner. We now know there while there is and (hopefully) always will be free speech, there still may be consequences for what is said. Hopefully people in general, not just clients of photographers, but everyone will think twice about if it is really worth it to destroy something that someone has worked so hard to build, just to prove a point.

There will be clients that you will never be able to make happy. They may write bad reviews. They may harass you. They may try and destroy what you have taken years to build. If/when this happens remember several things. 
1.    Document. Print and save all emails. Record phone calls. Screen shot any text or social media messages. Prove that you communicated professionally and appropriately. 
2.    Stay level headed. No matter what they say or do remember you are the professional, so act like it. 
3.    Seek community. It will be a rough road; you will need friends to chat with, to go out with, to have a drink and enjoy life. 
You can read Andrea Polito’s open letter
From what she writes, it seems as though she communicated properly and professionally. 

As I said, I have not spoken to anyone involved in the case. These are my opinions, build a strong brand. Know who you are. Doing this will help carry you through anything. 


This session was so awesome. I have always wanted to shoot in the RINO district here in Denver and I finally had the opportunity to do so. 

It has been a little bit since I have blogged, or really been on social media for that matter. I felt like I needed a mental health break for my own good, and guess what. The world did not fall apart while I was away. But during this time I had a super fun time shooting with Aaron and Taylor in the River North District of Denver here in Colorado. These two just got engaged, and when I put out a call on my Instagram that I was looking to do a shoot with a couple that had visible tattoos, they responded. 

Aaron is the Shop Manager at Dedication Tattoo in Denver, and Taylor is a hair stylist. when these two showed up they mentioned that they are super awkward in photos. I can't tell you how many times that I have heard this and the couples are not at all awkward. Aaron and Taylor completely killed it during this session. 

I had realized that while I have a good number of tattoos, that my portfolio was quite lacking in couples and people with ink. So I would like to remedy that, if you or someone you know would like to book a couples session, or even an individual session, and you have a good amount of visible tattoos, hit me up. I am offering half price tattooed couples sessions through 2017. 

Don't Be Afraid Of The Sun - But Use Sunblock- Tips For Shooting In Full Sun

As photographers we do more than just click a button. I know that will blow many people's minds. Besides all the things that we do in order to keep our business afloat, we are also "readers of light." Meaning that we use what we have to our advantage, we shape it and mold it to create images.

Many photographers, myself included, loath bright sunny days, but rejoice when we have a nice overcast sky, one that acts as a natural diffuser. There have been many a wedding day when I have received a text from a bride who is so excited that it is bright and sunny., or sad that it is overcast. When in the first text my heart sinks knowing the the hash shadows that are to come, and in the second, my heart leaps out of my chest knowing I can shoot wherever I want and will have no shadows.

Many times we try to find shade so that we don't have to deal with the harshness of the sun. When you shoot in the sun your shadows are much harsher, your colors are more saturated, and your highlights are blown out. The above photo is a SOOC (Straight out of Camera) from a styled shoot I had a few weeks ago. 

When I woke up in the morning, I knew that we were going to have a bright, super-sunny, Colorado day. It is not often that you get a nice overcast day when you live in Colorado, but I was ready to face the challenge. 

As a wedding photographer you don't always have the light, the weather, the subject, or church coordinator on your side, so you have to learn how to work with all of them. So here are a few tips for shooting in bright light. A lot of these involve knowing how your camera works in the post processing like how much or your shadows and highlights can you recover. 

Shoot as Close as Possible

When you get close you block out a lot of other elements that can cause issues and may be distracting. Below is a before and after of a close up shot. I use the Nikon D750 and the sensor in that camera is amazing so I underexposed her face in oder to not blow out the highlights. Once the highlights are gone, you cannot get them back. 

Expose for the highlights

When shooting digital you want to expose for the highlights. (This is a good rule and a personal preference, it may also depend on your subject). Once the highlights are gone on a digital image you cannot recover them, but you can recover shadows. 

For the above image I exposed for the sky, I wanted to keep the texture of the clouds and the blue. I also wanted to keep the texture of the mountains in order to have a recognizable location. I knew that I would be able to recover the shadow in her eyes so i was not worried about loosing that. 

Again I exposed for the sky and mountains in the above shot. I also was shooting with a 24mm lens as I wanted to get the whole view. When shooting Colorado weddings, it is a pretty sure bet that you are going to have sun, so knowing how to approach it is key. 

Backlight whenever possible

Nearly all the images in this post are backlit. Meaning that the main source of light is coming from behind the model. While this casts the face in shadow, it gives the hair and any other elements (Flowers/dress/veil) a nice glow. Backlighting is one of my favorite lighting techniques. I use it with sunsets, midday light, and off camera flash at night (Read that blog here). 

When Backlighting your subjects be aware of a couple things. Lens flare and the shadows. Remember when I said that once the highlights are gone, they are unrecoverable? I hope so cuz it was only a few sentences ago. But an issue that I use to run into before I knew how to control it was that my lens flare would cause an issue on my subject. Sometimes the flare lands on the persons face and it is really hard to remove. The other issue is just the overall shadows and highlights in the image. Just be aware of them. 

Be aware of how the ground reflects light

For the above shot we were standing on a dirt trail. While she was in the shade the light was reflecting on her. No I did not use a reflector for this shot. It is all natural light. If you are shooting near water or on the beach those elements act as natural reflectors and need to be balanced when shooting. 

Again a huge thanks to these vendor for helping and to Kaysie for modeling


Anna Be                                                                                                                             -

Evolution Salon                                                                     - -

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - -

Epic Styled Shoot Part 2 - Anna Be Bridal, Evolution Salon, & Metalmark Fine Jewelry - Denver, Colorado

In the previous post there were more words than photos. It is not that I have run out of words (just ask my wife, I never shut up) but I figure you would rather see these beautiful photos than listen to me ramble on and on about the dresses. 

I mean they say that a photo is worth a thousand words soooooo........

Dress - Monique Lhuillier - Dulce

Dress - Ines Di Santo - Spicy


Dress - Berta - 16-103


Anna Be                                                                                                                             -

Evolution Salon                                                                     - -

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - -

Epic Styled Shoot Part 1 - Anna Be Bridal, Evolution Salon, & Metalmark Fine Jewelry - Denver, Colorado

This shoot was LIT. I think that is how you use that, right? Isn't that what the kids are saying these days? Anyway, ignore my efforts to try and use cool words.

I first found Anna Be Bridal while I was driving for Lyft. (I pick up a lot of passengers in this particular area of Denver. Also if you need some ride discounts use this code MATT067500). You can tell from the outside of the building that the inside is going to be amazing, and it does not disappoint. 

I knew that I wanted to try and shoot a styled session with Anna Be; so I walked in and introduced myself to the shop manager, Joy. A few weeks later I emailed asking if they would like to do a styled shoot, and to my amazement and utter happiness, they said yes!

So, the search was on for the rest of the elements for the shoot. I already had a model in mind as I had worked with Kaysie for a brief bit and we had talked about her modeling. Believe it or not, she is not a professional, but she should be. So I asked her if she was available and she said yes!

Berta Dress

Berta Dress

I also drive by Evolution Salon in Denver due to them being next door the the Starbucks near my wife's work. So I messaged them on Instagram and asked if they might want to do HMUA for the shoot, and yet again, I received another YES! 

Shucks, everything was coming together. So we finalized our date and made the plans. 

I was hoping for a cloudy Colorado sky, but the Sun decided to grace us with its presence almost the entire time. We had a few clouds, but this was a challenge to execute the vision I had in mind with direct sunlight. 

So we arrived at Anna Be around noon to get the Hair and Makeup done. Maggie, a stylist at Evolution Salon, Kicked A$$ with the Hair and Makeup. You can follower her on Instagram @maggiejeanhair or follow the Salon @evolutionsalondenver.

After the hair and makeup was finished, Kaysie had the opportunity to try on some rad dresses, even a dress from Berta, her favorite designer. Joy got in contact with Mary the owner over at Metal Mark Fine Jewelry and she came over and provided us with some gorgeous pieces for the shoot. Seriously, check them out. 

Berta 16-103 (9 of 20).jpg

As a guy this was my first experience in the world of bridal dress fitting. It is such an intense choice. I never really thought it could be as hard as brides make it out to be. But, as I watched Kaysie try on the dresses each one looked better than the last. 

Anna Be's store manager, Joy, is amazing when it comes to knowing what dresses will look fit well on what body types. She had a few dresses in mind when we arrived and they were all perfect. 

(As a side note, while we were talking, Joy told me that they have an amazing retention rate for stylists. They all love what they do and from what I can tell they are all amazing at it. The parent company - a&bé - has bridal shops in Denver, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, and Portland. But Anna Be on Denver is a separate collection from the rest.) 

After the fittings we headed out to Boulder to for the super sunny locations. If you are a photographer reading this, you know the fear of shooting in direct sun. The harsh shadows, the blown out highlights, and the super saturated colors. But, we scheduled this and I knew that chances are we would have a beautiful sunny day. So I was ready to face the challenge. 

I will write a future post for all you photographers about shooting in direct sun and making the most of it. 

But without further rambling of words, I will show you the images which you came here to view. Also below is a video that I shot during the experience for fun. 

Dress - Made With Love - Hayley

So this was just the first dress/location. Check out Blog number 2 that is filled with all sorts of photo goodness from the other 3 dresses. You can see that here!


Anna Be                                                                                                                             -

Evolution Salon                                                                     - -

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - -

Dear Photographer, Be Bold

My Awkward shooting stance.

My Awkward shooting stance.

For many the wedding season is upon us, for some who are starting out they see photographers posting glamorous bridal photos and want to join the ranks. Many times in order to do this, things are done, that later down the road hurt their business and break down their drive, and they give up. 

Many times this is because they want to get to the place of shooting weddings without the hard work and the time to learn the camera, and the business. So they offer to do a wedding for free, or cheap, and they offer to do photos for friends for free, and later everyone wants them to continue shooting for free or cheap. But you cannot sustain a business doing this. 

(Now, just for the naysayers, I fully support doing shoots for free or cheap when you get started. Everyone starts somewhere, and many times we suck when we first get started. I look back on my first year weddings and cringe. But the issue that many starting out face is the lack of communication).

First year vs This Year

So there is the purpose of this post. 


Have a solid contract, get it checked and stick to it. If you agree to shoot for 2 hours. Shoot for 2 hours. 

Stick to your guns, this is your business, and your artistic vision. Make sure that the the client is hiring you for that and not because you are free or cheap. If you are starting out, communicate you ability honestly, tell them what they are going to get and stick with that. If you want to shoot longer, or if you want to provide more images, then do it. But make it work for you. 

But in all this BE BOLD. 

I am sure that you have heard the term, "Fake it till you make it." This is true, there have been times for every photographer that we are faced with a situation that we are unsure what to do, how to pose, where to shoot, and how to pull it all together. But the worst thing that you can do is to show this visibly.


Many of these things can be avoided with preparation. If you know just how far you can push your ISO and still recover an image, you will know what to do when the wedding coordinator decided to turn out all the lights for the first dance, and your flash is across the room in your bag. 


If a client keeps demanding the Raw files, or more photos from the session, but you have that covered in your contract, and are able to firmly but politely tell them, "I do not release the Raw files unless the contract has a commercial agreement and the purchase price of the Raw files has been agreed upon in advance." Or "I only give the very best of the photos that are taken. It would not benefit me or you for me to with hold any images that you look amazing in." 


You can do this. Keep your chin up and be open to learning. You will make mistakes, but learn from them, seek out a mentor, a photographer who has been around and can help. Let go of your ego, it will not serve you well. 

So Be Bold

So Be Bold