Dillon Reservoir/Loveland Pass Couples Session -

Ok, this session, Literally everything fell into place for. (Yes I just ended that sentence with a preposition, but it’s my blog so I do what I want). Ok, Anyway these two and this session was perfect. (Were perfect?). Geeze. Well, anyway I was rolling back through the Breckenridge/Dillon area after shooting a wedding the day before in Vail and I met up with these two for a quick adventure session. We met up by Dillon reservoir and hiked in for the first part of the shoot.

After shooting at the reservoir we headed up to Loveland Pass for some rad mountain view photos. There was a storm moving in so we had to move fast, but it made for some epic photos.

Check out their video here!

Solving all your photography problems (Not Really) - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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I am in many photography groups, and there are a lot of things that they have in common. Many times there are some frustrating circumstances which photographers seek answers too. I am going to address my opinion on some of the most common problems.

Clients Misusing Photos

Instagram Filters

While my thought is unpopular this is my blog and my opinion so here it is. It doesn't really matter. They paid you to take a photo you took them, and they have them. Clients may through a filter on them thinking they are making them better when they are not. If they tag me after doing it, I will remove the tag. But over the 8 years that I have been doing this, no one has said; “I saw your photo on Carrie’s Insta and just had to have you.” It tends to be more along the lines of “You shot so and so’s wedding and I loved how you worked.” Or “Carrie said you were amazing, so I looked at your photos and I love them.”

So you can make a big fit about it and leave a sour taste in a previous client mouth who then will only mention their negative interaction to people, or you can let it go and be creative in ways to keep clients from filtering your work.

For me, I stress how much I craft each session to be unique and fit the mood for the day. I mention this at nearly every touchpoint that I have with clients. It doesn’t always work, but it has helped. But even if they do, I have bigger fish to fry.

Using photos in ways, they didn’t pay for

There are many posts about clients who booked a session for family photos and then use a photo for their profile or “headshot” on their website, or some sort of publicity. Again While it would be nice for them to book a new session, or pay for proper usage, I can guarantee that 99% of the clients that do this have no idea about commercial usage vs. personal. So instead of getting all worked up over the fact that they misused a photo, spin it a different way. Mention to them that you love that they enjoy their photos so much but that from a brand standpoint doing a professional session that fits their brand would be far better in the long run. Offer a return discount or something else. Look for ways that you can turn this into a repeat business rather than leaving a sour taste in a client's mouth. If people don’t understand usage, they will not understand why you are making a big deal about it.

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Giving photos to vendors

In the wedding industry there are many times where vendors do not want to pay for images, so they will approach the couple to get the photos. Often the couples don’t think twice about giving them to the other vendors, especially if they enjoyed their services. So again, the clients probably do not understand the big deal about this. So you have several options here.

You can let it slide - If it was a vendor that I don’t care to work with again. I usually do this. If they post it on Socials, I may comment on it. But there have been times where I just don’t want to work with that vendor, so I am not going to try to network.

Touch base with the couple. Talk about how you do special packages for vendors and how you would love to touch base with the vendors about the photos. Then proceed from there.

Reach out to the vendors and talk to them. But look for ways that you can get repeat business. I ask for backlinks. I will give them non-watermarked photos in exchange for backlinks on their site.

This is my preferred option; when the couple books and you talk about delivery, mention that you will share certain photos with vendors so if any of them contact the couple they can send them to you. If you don’t want to give photos to vendors, that is up to you. But for me, the photos are already there, I have already been paid for them, by being pleasant to vendors and giving them a great service as well you have a better chance of being referred or even booking business off of them. For example, I gave a salon photos, they loved them so much they booked me for their rebranding photos and then several continued shoots after. By giving them photos, I booked several thousand dollars of shoots over the next year.

Copyright

So there is a lot of info about Copyright out there but here are the basics of it.

Whoever presses the button own the photo. If you are at a wedding and you have a guest take a photo of you and the couple...that guest owns the photo.

There is no need to register your photos for a Copyright to take effect. Once you publish online, they are copywritten. Although no registering decreases the number of damages that you can collect if there is a violation.

There are work for hire instances where you do not maintain the copyright, but this is signed away in the contract for said job.

So when clients want copyright, that can be negotiated. It is a lot more common in commercial work than in other types of photography. But there are times where individuals want copyright when what they want is printing rights. This is something that can be touched upon in many ways, on your site, in your contract, or during a consult.

Read more here

Clients with “Big” asks

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Uploading old Galleries

I have seen posts about old clients coming back and needing photos from years prior. I have had this happen. You know how long it took me? Under 10 min. I located the HD, plugged it in, made a new gallery and uploaded.

I do say in my contract that there is an archiving fee. That if I need to upload a gallery after X amount of time I charge X amount.

It gives people incentive to back up their gallery and wedding photos.

It gives me the opportunity to make them happy again if they need to have their gallery re-uploaded. I can mention “Hey normally there is a $100 unarchiving fee, but ill waive this and if you want to order any prints Here is a 20% off code.” Boom, smile on their face.

Wanting Photos Faster

I find this one the simplest. Communicate in the booking process, the contract, and after the shoot when the photos will be done. If you have someone that is asking for photos faster, then tell them you have X number of sessions before theirs, but if they would like them faster, there is a $1000 rush fee. Or whatever $ amount you feel is appropriate. Hold your ground and be firm.

Working for free for brands

Occasionally there are times where brands ask you to work for free or exposure. In your head, you are thinking “ They sell jackets for $500 a pop they can afford to pay me.” Well, here is the plain and simple truth. They should, but they may not have a budget for it. Some brands just do not put value on the visuals, so they do not have a budget set aside for photos. Instead of worrying about it. Move on. Brands that can’t pay will suffer in the long run. But you can also respond with “Thank you for your interest when you receive a budget for elevating your brand shoot me a message and I would love to chat with you about what we can do!”

Just don’t work for free.

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Sunrise Couples Session - Samantha & Dan - Colorado Elopement Photographer

As I mentioned in a previous blog post sunrise sessions are some of my favorites. You get to wake up early see some wildlife and shoot some epic photos with some rad couples.

Samantha and Dan headed out for a short trip from Minnesota. When she first messaged me she told me how the two of them eloped because they wanted to be able to put more money to travelling rather than spending it on a big shindig.

About a year ago (just a few days after their elopement) Samantha was involved in a near fatal car accident, so they promised that they were going to get out and travel as much as possible and to not take their time together for granted.

So they Ubered up from Denver really early, and met me in Boulder. From there I drove them up Flagstaff Road where we had the most epic views for the first part of the session.

After this rad mountain view and sunrise clouds, I wanted to take them down to Boulder Falls to shoot just a little bit more.

The falls had been closed for some time after the flood in 2013, but this real had recently opened back up. I had been down there for a shoot for the outdoor apparel company that I work for, and knew that I had to shoot there again soon.

So I decided to take Samantha & Dan down there.


Check out their video here.

Flagstaff Outlook Boulder Sunrise Session - Brooke & Jeff - Colorado Elopement Photographer

Once again I bring you a rad sunrise session. Brooke and Jeff had recently moved to Colorado and they wanted to have some photos done in their new home state. So I took them up Flagstaff and we met just before sunrise.

Most of my shoots in Boulder I try to shoot in at least two locations. There are so many amazing spots that it is fun to get several scenes for my couples. So after sunrise at Flagstaff, we headed down to Walker Ranch.

Check out their couples video here!



9 Lightroom Tips That I have Learned

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Over the years I have spent hours in Lightroom. I would not call my self a pro, but I wanted to lay down some little tips to help those who might not know. I mean I learn new stuff all the time, I mean these programs are so in depth that you can probably never know all that there is to know. So without further ado here are several tips that may help you. P.S. they are not in any particular order.

To read more here is a link to a rad article from Shoot Dot Edit

http://shootdotedit.com/2018/04/how-to-edit-wedding-photos/

 

1. The Sharpening Mask

Holding option while you use the sharpening mask slider will change your life. We all love sharp photos. But Sometimes you just don’t need all the sharpness. Just a smidge will do. So check out this nifty trick. After you apply your preset, you scroll down to sharpen, add your desired level of sharpness. Then while holding Option (Mac) slide the Masking Slider up. It will show you where you are masking the sharpness onto the photo.

 

2. Caps Lock While Sorting

If you do not use a program like Photo Mechanic or another culling program, you can engage the Caps Lock button and it will automatically go to the next photo. So whether you use the Star Rating or the Flagging to select photos this might help you.

( I could take a photo, but just hit caps lock)

 

3. Apply Preset on Import

When you import your photos you can apply a preset on import. Many people know this. But, when I was first starting, I had no idea this was possible. If you know what preset you will use on a session you can apply that preset when you import. Just select it in the import window and Boom. Time saved,

 

4. Editing Video

Did you know that you can edit video and apply presets in Lightroom? Well, you can. But only in the Library Module. When you import the video you can apply the preset on import.

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First import your video and apply the preset. Remember that you can only do this in the Library Module. Then any of the tools that are nor dark you can use so adjust to your liking.

 

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Next, see these little pause sliders? You can move those and they trim the video. So if you only want to export a short piece, move those and export, it take a shorter amount of time to edit a 10 second piece rather than a 30 second piece.

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How rad is that?

5. Creating print/social banners

So, while I use other programs for creating my albums. The Print Module is a resource that is very under utilized in the Lightroom program. I use these if I want to make a custom blog layout, if I want to make a banner for images for Facebook, or If I want to make a banner of images for Pinterest. After doing research I found that long banners perform on Pinterest better than single images. So I made presets for that that I use for myself and others. They are super easy. You just drag and drop the images into the templates while in the print module.

Here is a link to my Print Templates

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6. Metadata

Just like the preset you can apply your metadata on import. See this blog here. For more info on that. Just like the preset you just choose your metadata preset on import and Boom. There is is.

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7. Smart Previews

OK, This was another one that I learned about recently, which is dumb, because I have been in Lightroom for 8 years and just learned about this 2 years ago. Creating Smart Previews allows you to edit your files even if the Hard Drive is not connected. So if you are like me and import to an external hard drive (Several external Hard Drives), sometimes you don’t want to carry you portable HD with you. Well, if you create smart previews you can edit on the go and you do not need to have your external HD with you!

Want more info on Smart Previews. Check this link out.

https://www.creative-photographer.com/smart-previews-lightroom/

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8. Virtual Copy to compare edits.

So this is something that I do. But I do not know if others do. 90% of the time when I arrive at a session, I know how I will edit it before I have shot the first frame. Other times when I am shooting I might move and the mood feels different. Sometimes I just want to try something new. So I will choose a photo. Right click on it and create a Virtual Copy. This way I have one or two other files to edit and then I can see them all side by side and see if what I am am feeling is correct. I do this from time to time, so I thought it might be useful to others.

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9. Auto Straighten

I learned this little trick a month ago. Now it does not work with all photos, but you can have Lightroom Auto Straighten the photos. So if you are like me and every photo is off. Well, here is a little trick that may save you some time.

(Below is an example of one of those accidental photos, we all have them, but it is so crooked it is a perfect example).

Lightroom is a beast. There are so many things to learn in this program. It literally has changed my life. If you are looking for more resources on how to edit. Here is a great link from Shoot Dot Edit on how to use Lightroom to edit your wedding photos.  

http://shootdotedit.com/2018/04/how-to-edit-wedding-photos/

Continue to learn, explore, and have fun.

Link to my print Templates

Link to my First Volume of Presets

 

 

 

Sunrise Elopement on Horsetooth Mountain - Kyle & Greta - Colorado Elopement

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Sunrise elopements. Does it get any better than that? I submit that it does not. While sleeping in nice, getting up early to watch two people say vows that they have crafted to each other is pretty rad. And don’t even get me started on the light. OMG. That early morning light is absolutely amazing.

I guarantee that you cannot change my mind on that.

This elopement was a little more special to me than most. I have known Kyle for over 12 years. I first met him when I was in college and working as a track coach and Younglife leader at the local high school. I was coaching pole vault and he was one of my vaulters as well as one of my Younglife kids. (To date I have had the opportunity to shoot weddings for 2 of my former track and Younglife kids, which is pretty rad)

So being able to be there as Kyle and Greta got hitched was radical.

After running into some deer. We headed back to Kyle’s parents house for a little backyard get together and family wedding ceremony. Kyle and Greta are also Star Wars fans so there was a few nicely placed homages to the greatest movie of all time.

Also check out their elopement preview video here!

Great Sand Dunes Elopement - Mariah & Malachi - Colorado Elopement Photographer

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About a year ago I transitioned from shooting the big all day weddings to the small intimate weddings and elopements for a couple reasons. I was really just over the all day shooting and the wedding hangover (It is a real thing that does not involve alcohol). That was a huge reason, but I also too a job as a photographer for an outdoor apparel company. So that takes a ton of my time, but is super rad.

Also after shooting my first elopement in Iceland I was hooked. Now that I live back in my home state of Colorado, I have an endless amount of locations to shoot around.

The Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado is one of those that is epic.

So when Mariah contacted me, I was super stoked to have the opportunity to shoot there. But being that this was in the height of summer the sand dunes were at about 90 degrees, so while we waited for sunset to hit I took them up to Zapata Falls, one of the hidden gems in the area.

This was perfect as the falls were about 20 degrees cooler than there rest of the area.

After starting at the waterfall and waiting for the evening to cool off we headed down to the sand dunes where Mariah and Malachi were going to say their vows.

I had done a little scouting earlier and found a nice spot that was down between some dunes. We had a perfect view of Mount Herard, as well as being out of the way of the wind and with no people in the way.

We also had a bit of fun with some of their wedding gifts.

Couples Adventure Session - Breckenridge Colorado - Kait & Dave

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Couples sessions are probably some of my favorite to shoot. You get to get out and explore. It is a lot of fun hiking in and making photos that not everyone is willing to get.

Kait contacted me about shooting a couples session while her and Dave were out in the Breckenridge area for a wedding. The timing worked perfect because I was driving back from a wedding in Vail the day before.

We had two locations picked out, one by Dillion Reservoir, and then one on the mountain tops near the res. The hike in took about twenty minutes to get to the location I picked out. But once we were there, the views were epic.

The weather was perfect. It is not often that we get a nice overcast day here in Colorado. But there was a storm coming in and we had to try and get back to the cars in order to beat it to the mountain top storm. But one of my favorite things is having storm clouds in my photos!

If you are interested in booking a couples session or an elopement shoot me a message and I would love to craft the perfect experience for you. Say Hi

Dear Photographer: No one cares about your photos

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I have been thinking about his blog post for a long time. Because years ago I learned something important about my photos. That lesson is “No one cares about your photos.” The real meaning behind this is that no one cares about your photos until they are invested in them. Usually, this means that they or someone they love are in the photos. 
Many times we as artists and creators get so caught up in our photo interactions on Facebook and Instagram that we really do not think about what we are doing. But think about how many people are exploring on a platform like Instagram. Often when I see people scrolling through Insta, it is just that. Scrolling. Maybe it’s the
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No one is truly consuming the content. It's like walking around in a Costco and only sampling, but not buying the product. It seems that the goal is to get people invested in your work without them being in the photo. What is being delivered to them? Is there something that they will come back for?
Those damn meme feeds, they deliver a smile, a laugh, we find content that we identify with. 
When you post photos of your family, and the flowers in your yard, your close friends the ones IRL, and family will be invested. But when you are a business, and you are posting engagement photos or content from weddings, Commercial shoots, Landscapes, how does one get invested in that content when it is not about them. 

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At times you can get featured on accounts that matter. This lets others know that you are “important” that your content is “worthy.” But what happens when your content is just as good, but your style does not fit theirs? You get lost in the feeds. We tend to think that exposure means business, but this is not a guaranteed case. 
You have to create consistent content, consistently. 
But remember, no one really cares. If you stopped posting tomorrow. Who would be sad? Would people mourn, and if so for how long?

Now what I am saying might seem like someone who is bitter. But what I am writing from is a place of freedom. When I finally realized that no one cares about my photos. I was able to take a step back and breathe. I was no longer worried about the likes and reach from a validation standpoint. I still think about them from a business standpoint, but I don’t stress it. 
So in the end, remember that all these channels are just tools. If you are running a business, how can you use them for that purpose? If you are using thee channels for personal reasons, are you stressing for the wrong reasons? 
In reality, does it all matter? Maybe its time to just take a deep breath and just let go. 
 

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Instagram: Thoughts on building on rented land

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Instagram and Business

Over the past few days I have seen more posts than usual about Instagram and reach and likes. So I am writing another post about building on rented territory. Instagram is just a tool. You should never build a business on it. When you build a house you do it on land that you won, and the same with a business. So here are some thoughts from someone who is in the marketing world and how to use Instagram.

1.    Have a strategy. More than just posting once and day and hashtags. Do an analysis of what posts work and what posts do not. Figure out what your target audience is into and craft strategy around that.

2.    This strategy can change. With the algorithm out of your control. You have to be ready to change it. Work to push people to your site or blog or where ever it is that you deliver quality content.  

3.    Deliver quality content.

4.    Likes matter, but not as much as you think. Yes, they stroke your ego when you get a ton. But if you are getting 5K likes and not booking off Instagram does that matter? If you are getting 100 likes and consistently booking is that better? I would rather book more and have less likes. There is always the argument that if you have a ton of likes that people will want to book you more, but I would rather be booked off of my style and who I am rather than how many likes I am getting.

5.    What is your plan for when the algorithm changes? You can spend hours on Instagram and get no where. What are your goals, mine are to run a successful business. So after I took a full time photography and marketing job with an outdoor adventure brand I outsourced. I found something that worked and grew and booked more. Some may say it is not authentic, but I am the one who posts and captions and makes the stories. So it is me. I just don’t have time to spend on Instagram and have a life. So they interact for me. No commenting only likes and follows. But I still push people to my blog and website as much as possible.

So if you are worried about your Instagram reach come up with a plan, create come goals, and make it happen.

If you are interested in the service I used click here. 

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Boundary Supply Prima System Review - Initial Thoughts

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I have a problem, but this problem is not my own. It is shared by many others. 

I am always searching for the perfect camera bag, one that can double as my everyday carry, but I can put everything I need for a shoot.

My standard items that I need are;

2 Nikon d750 bodies, 3 lenses (Primes), microphone, camera stabilizer, and snacks. 

Part of this is that some bags can fit all this, but the shape is awkward, or when they fit all the items, the fit is weird. I had a bag previously, that I loved, but there were a few downfalls, mainly that the compartment that you opened to get to the camera, had the chance of failing (mostly due to the user). 

But then the Boundary Supply Prima System arrived. They had some issues originally with their manufacturers and shipping, but once the bag started to arrive, there was nothing but positive things to say.  

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I have been running around with the bag for several months and wanted to write out some initial thoughts. I am still waiting for MK-1 Insert, to write out a full review, but here are some things that I like about the bag. 

Build Quality

When I first opened the box, this was the first thing that I noticed. This bag was built incredibly well. Its heavy, but when I am carrying several thousand dollars of gear, I don't want a chintzy bag, the last thing you want it a strap to fail and drop. 

I am 100% confident in this bag. I feel like if you filled it with bricks and threw it off a cliff it would still hold together.  The material, the buckles, the straps, literally everything feels like it will last. 

Aesthetics

As I mentioned above, one issue that I have with camera bags is that if they fit all the gear they are too bulky. While I am still waiting for the MK-1 insert, I have so far been able to carry nearly all the things that I would like the carry on/in the bag. I have been using an insert from another bag for the time being as the Verge Case does not fit what I need. (Although the Verge Case is perfect for snacks). 

Use

Since receiving the bag, it has been my daily carry. Car, bike, Tauntan, it works great for all of them. It holds up to pretty much anything. I have had it in water and snow, dust and mud, and it has never failed. Gear inside has stayed dry and protected. There is one issue that I have noticed that really does not have a fix, and that is the magnetic buckles.A few weeks back I was shooting an elopement at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado and when I was packing up I noticed that I had that magnetic buildup on the buckle. This did not affect the bag buckling, but when you have camera gear, any amount things that can get into your gear is not fun. 

Wishes

I wish it had just a bit more room/organization in the front pocket. There is a magnetic pocket that is nice for separating items, but if there were a spot to organize memory cards, cords, and other accessories that would be the bees knees. The Fieldspace (Laptop case) is very nice, but the organization there could be laid out better, but that is just my opinion. 

 Front Pocket, You can use the magnetic hook for the provided keychain. and the back pocket is magnetic as well. Pockets are big enough for Phones, Hard drives, Snacks. 

Front Pocket, You can use the magnetic hook for the provided keychain. and the back pocket is magnetic as well. Pockets are big enough for Phones, Hard drives, Snacks. 

Other things that I like

 There are some really rad pockets that are hidden on the bag. One behind the water bottle holder and one on the inside flap that is RIFD, as well as two interior pockets that are nice for holding/ dividing things.

The fit of the bag when you are wearing feels really nice. Many of the bags I have had in the past are floppy and not fit for carrying your gear out in the wild. I had the bag in Utah for work and was climbing around in the canyons, sliding down wet rock, and doing a lot of activity. Never once did I feel like the bag was not secure. 

As I mentioned before I use this as my daily bag. I commute by bike about 15 miles each way to work and this bag feels great. While it is heavier than some, the airflow on the back is designed really well. There is no bag that will keep you dry 100%, but this one at least allows for the air to attempt to cool you. 

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Opportunity vs Working For Free

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I hate working for free, but I love opportunity. There are alot of times when one might be disguised as the other and if you are always chasing a $ sign you might miss something amazing. Recently I was reading Charlamagne Tha God’s book Black Privilege   

“Success is a process: there are no cheat codes, no life hacks, no shortcuts, and no half steps. Opportunity always comes before money, but sadly a lot of us don’t recognize it unless there’s a paycheck attached. Don’t make that mistake.”

I know that this post will rub some the wrong way, and I am prepared to have people throw shade and hate on it. But I am writing from experience. As someone who has seen opportunity and taken it, worked for less than I am worth and done things for free so that I could turn that opportunity into a career.

But there are things that I have learned along the way.

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  1. Not all opportunity is created equal. In fact 98.5% of it is bullshit.

There are alot of people and companies that want things for free. But can you blame them? We all love free things, it is an enticing word. Multi million dollar companies will ask to work for free, trade, or (the best) exposure. But I also get that so here are some thoughts on that.

Free - If a company is making money they should pay in some form. Which leads to…

Trade - In my opinion is a great form of currency. I have shot for restaurants where I have done cash, and gift cards. Getting part paid in $600 to a rad restaurant is a pretty good deal. If I could do trade for an auto mechanic I would totally do that. Some things are mutually beneficial.

Exposure -  Every creative hates this, and for good reason. Exposure doesn’t mean shit. It doesn’t pay bills, and I have never gotten a paid gig from exposure. Don’t be fooled.

(A word about companies, I work for a large international outdoor apparel company, as of now we do not have a budget for models. So we don’t use them, we use employees and other avenues to get the photos we want. We have used trade if people are interested, but I will never ask someone to do it for free, or to devalue themselves and work for exposure. But it is true, sometimes there just isn’t a budget for things, but in that case they should respect themselves and others and just wait till there is a budget)

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2. My opportunity might not be your opportunity

Everyone’s path is different, everyone’s skills are different. What works for me might not work for you. Maybe it was my style of shooting, maybe it was my personality, or maybe I was just at the right place at the right time. But, it usually is one of the first two. Which leads me to number 3.

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3. You have to make it work

Good things come to those who grind everyday, even when they are tired, even when a client is unhappy. When someone doesn’t like your work, don’t complain in a Facebook post. Assess if it is valid, if it is and it aligns with your vision change it. So let’s break this one down.

  • If someone complains saying that they do not look good in your photos there are a couple ways to look at it. You can get mad, post in a Facebook group looking for validation and dwell on it. Or you can assess what the issues is and possibly change it. Is the client just insecure? Possibly. Or is it that you used the wrong lens, unflattering angle? Some issues are their issues and some are your issues, but learn from them and move on.

  • If someone offhandedly says that there is no emotion in your photos and that is something that you are striving for, then maybe look at what you can do better, experiment and change. But only if that is your vision.

  • Many times I see photographers running at every little red flag from a potential client. The client asks for one small thing and the photographers take that to mean that the client is going to be a nightmare, when in reality it is probably the fact that they are wary of spending $2000-$7000 on someone without asking a few questions. Yes, there are clients that won't fit with you. Yes, you should say no to some people. But use the question period to educate and answer. Listen to what is behind the question. If you run every time there seems to be a red flag, you may miss an amazing opportunity. 

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4. You have to make it work Part II

When opportunity comes that is right for you, you have to use it properly. If you choose to do something for travel you can’t just sit back and think that everyone is going to want to book you because you shot in Iceland, or Santorini, or Columbus, Ohio. You have to figure out how you will hustle and work to make that into something that builds your value in a way that no one can take. Opportunity doesn’t come to those who wait, it comes to those that make it happen and keep working when they are burned out.

If all you do is work for travel you will go broke, unless you are a trust fund kid, but then you don't need someone to pay for travel. If you keep working for cheap, you will get burned out so fast that the craft you once loved will feel like listening to Fran Drescher for 8 hours straight. 

If you don't value yourself others wont either. 

So lets end with a story or two. 

This one is different as I made this opportunity from the ground up, but using your craft for networking, on your terms, can lead to rolling opportunity. I got together a styled shoot, just a small one with a few vendors, and out of that shoot I have booked over $10K of work, and some of that work is regular. 

Another opportunity that has brought me to where I wanted to be when I first started was taking a part time internship. I worked for very cheap, If I had booked these shoots at my commercial rate I would have made $3-4000 more a month. But I put in my time, showed my value and have a job that is others would kill for. 

Remember, Opportunity might not aways pay well immediately, but when you put your time in, show your value, and stay positive. It will pay far more than you could hope for. 

The road is yours to make. So get out there and do it. 

 

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#liveauthentic. But really do it

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Time and time again I see stories in my photography groups about people having work stolen. Sometimes it it images, sometimes it is words, or other content. But now matter what there are always feelings of hurt and anger. 

At times these people are just general public, other times it is a business that doesn't want to pay. But in my opinion the worst is when it is another industry person. Another photographer, or videographer, or designer. Someone that should know better. So here is what this blog post is about. 

NO ONE ELSE NEEDS TO FAIL IN ORDER FOR YOU TO SUCCEED 

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You as an individual has the power to set yourself up to succeed. But also to fail. 

When you steal others images in order to gain clients. You will fail. You will get found out and the photography community will rain down a fury that would send Zeus himself into hiding. That would be the easy way out. Worse you will gain a client by showing skills that you do not have, and when images are delivered, they will be disappointed and angry. You may have a lawsuit, you may not. But never the less, you will not last long. You will not succeed. 

This is not an easy job. Yes at times we get to travel and it looks super exciting, and yes we do love it because it fuels a creative fire within us. But what you do not see is the years of working multiple jobs in order to afford gear. The shooting weddings and sessions that were not a good fit, because we did not know any better. The tears, the anger and the despair when after pouring everything into a wedding, the client only has anger and makes you want to quit. 

But all these things are what sharpens you. What builds you up and crafts you into not just an artist, but a business person. You need to make mistakes in order to grow. You cannot, and no one has ever gone from 0 to Pro. It is a long road. 

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NO ONE ELSE NEEDS TO FAIL IN ORDER FOR YOU TO SUCCEED 

This also means that when you get jealous, or angry that you are not at ________ photographers level. Or you just want to book more that you can find an easy path. Trying to defamate someones character or business will not lead to your success. Taking copy from a website, or passing of images as you own will not lead to your success. In fact you will fall faster than you thought possible. 

What will lead to your success?  

I am sorry but the only answer is work. Get out and create. Shoot more. 

Be who you are. Don't try and be another photographer. You will not capture their market share or their clients. Go after different ones. 

Shoot sessions that will fuel your soul. Do them for free as long as they work for you. 

Don't shoot for free when it will suck your soul dry.

Practice. Get out of facebook groups that breed jealousy and popularity and contempt. 

Practice. 

As Rihanna says 

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The more you build into yourself, the better you will become. 

Shooting Commercial Adventure Products - Triple Aught Design

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So recently I took a full time job as a Visual Content Producer with a company out of San Francisco. That is basically fancy wording for I make videos and take photos for them. But the rad part is, I get to do adventure photography. Some of it is talking head video’s and studio shots. The other part of it is that I get to shoot lifestyle photos for our products. The other part of this is that I get to use my MS in Marketing for this job as well.

         When I finished my degree I spent time looking for a job that was a good fit. I held out I was broke, and it was hard. I met with some people and had phone calls with others. I even had one person tell me that I would never make it in the marketing world as I didn’t know how to code. (I had said in my resume and email that I am a creative with a mind for branding and communication, never mentioned coding).

Well, I finally landed this job, and it is a perfect fit, I am still going to shoot weddings but I am going to focus on a different realm of weddings. But the rad part about this job is I get to go to rad places and meet rad people and shoot rad photos. I am writing this to recount the adventure that just happened.

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So we are a two-man marketing team, we pitched this idea for a shoot for our upcoming spring/summer products and get out into the field to test as well as to get epic photos with each product. We planned to shoot in Southern Utah area as we had water, and epic scenes that fit with the story that we want to tell.

Day 1. Really the shoot started in the airport. We knew that as with most adventures, the travel is part of the story, so we spent some time getting some photos with the products we wanted to highlight as we waited for the plane to head out. We arrived in Las Vegas at about 11:30pm and had just enough time to pick up the rental car and to get to In-n-Out. Which is epic. Living in Colorado we keep waiting for In-n-Out to make its way to us. So even though this was only a couple hours, it was still day one.

Day 2. We woke up in Las Vegas, and after a hasty breakfast of waffles, yogurt, and an apple we headed to Hurricane, Utah. The big unknown of our shoot was some underwater photography. I have never shot underwater, or done free diving, so this was going to be exciting, but the wind was blowing really hard and the water was about 50 degrees. After a quick weather check we decided that the next day would be better so we headed to another location. We spent a good portion of our day in Snow Canyon State Park, which was gorgeous, but insanely windy.

Day3. We knew that the weather would be great in the afternoon so in the morning we took off to go check out Kanarraville Falls. It was 50 degrees when we left our hotel, but as we drove we watched the temperature gauge in the car continue to drop. When we arrived at the trailhead it was 32 degrees and there was snow on the ground, and we were wearing shorts. But after the 2.5 mile hike, which part of it is through the stream, which was basically freshly melted snow, we arrived at one of the most epic locations I have ever seen.

After hiking down and bringing life back to our feet, we headed to Sand Hollow to attempt the diving photos. The one thing that we did not take into account when planning this adventure was how cold the water would feel and how hard it is to hold your breath when your lungs seize due to the cold. So shooting underwater, without wetsuits, was extremely difficult. But we got some rad shots.

On the back to Las Vegas to catch our flight, we made one last stop to get some shots and footage in The Valley of Fire. The slot canyons here were insane. You could see where over the centuries the water had shaped and moulded the landscape. 

Even with the flight home being delayed by 4 hours and arriving home at 2am, the adventure was a success, we created epic content, and had a blast.

 

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Vail Elopement - Matt & Lauren - Colorado Elopement Photographer

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to shoot an adventure elopement in Vail, Colorado. Matt & Lauren were up from Arizona and hit me up to do a little elopement session while they were in Vail. Colorado has had an amazingly warm winter so the snow was a little scarce, but I wanted to get them out into nature and have some fun experiencing the beauty that is Vail. 

We didn't have much time so we met in Vail Village by the bridge to get a shot there and then headed up to the trail. 

They were troopers and hiked through the ice and mud to get up to the spots that I had found. 

Finally after slipping through and almost falling, and arriving with the Vans still clean we reached the spot that I had found and had a blast. 

A little further up the trail there was an aspen grove that I wanted to use for the video I was shooting as well. So we hiked up, or slipped up and shot a couple more photos. 

While we had some beautiful scenery, there was one shot that I wanted to get with the mountains in the background. So we headed back to the car and drove to one last spot to snag this photo. 

If you want to watch the video check it out here!

War of the Vendors - Wedding Planners & Photo/Video People

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There are so many vendors that come together to make a wedding day happen. From the planner to the event staff, the entertainment to the bartender, the media people and the florists, along with so many others. The wedding day is constructed in such a way that we all need to work in harmony to provide the best experience for the couple. 

But often time this doesn't happen. It is all unseen, but photographers and videographers tend to have beef. Photographers and planners have issues, and photographers and DJ's can even have problems. Well, maybe the problem is the photographers, we can be a little demanding. But lets be honest, for the media folks, what we provide lasts the couple forever. We do have a little pressure. 

So I started a series for photographers about working with other vendors. So the first one is Wedding Planners. Over the years, I have worked with some that frankly, I am not sure how they are in business. But I have worked with a ton that are amazing and see the fact that we are a team that works together to make the day happen. So I have asked several Colorado Wedding Planners for their thoughts. I sent them several questions that hopefully will open our eyes to their day. 

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Jazmyne Lewis - J. Lewis & Co

1.    As a wedding planner what is the hardest part about your Job?

Hardest part I would say when you cannot be in all places at once and would have to delegate to other people to get the job done. Putting out fires that seem uncontrollable have been a challenge as a planner. Making sure that clients are happy, trying your best to not make a mistake, but overcome them. 

2.    What would you like the Photographers & Videographers know about Planning?

That you have a reliable partner to assist you to make sure the day goes smooth throughout the event-an event planner. Having a strong collaboration and vendor relationship would make a whole lot easier and more opportunity to gain leads.

3.    How can we (Photo& Video help you out)?

Marketing and collaboration are huge key components to getting twice as many leads then as a solo vendor. I would like for photo and video help me by encouraging your clients to have a wedding planner and stress how important and cost effective it is to have one in helping them with the planning process and to run the show the day of their event.

About J. Lewis & Co

J. Lewis & Co is an event planning company that specializes in executing signature events through event design, referrals (invitations, catering, registry and so much more). From pre-planning to day of coordinating- J. Lewis & Co is the company that can do it all. 

Follow on Facebook  J. Lewis & Co, www.facebook.com/jlewiscoevents

Check out our Instagram: www.instagram.com/jlewiscoevents

YouTube channel: J. Lewis & Co

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Aimee Palifroni - Prisma Events

1.    As a wedding planner what is the hardest part about your Job?

As a wedding planner, I think the hardest part about my job is the physical aspect of the day of the wedding. I think people have a generally very romanticized view of what a wedding planner does and it’s much more physical work than they realize! The day of an event we are on our feet for 10-12 hours, moving quickly, setting up décor and details (even moving tables and chairs sometimes!), barely eating, and trying to be in two places at once. I average at least 19,000 steps on wedding day!

2.    What would you like the Photographers & Videographers know about Planning?

I would like photographers and videographers to know that we DO keep you in mind when creating timelines. I think it happens a lot where not enough time is considered for everything that they need to get done so we make sure that we can build in some buffer time and talk with the vendors about how much time is ideal for them to get everything they need. When we are trying to orchestrate a lot of different people and vendors, the timeline is crucial to keep everyone on the same page and keep the event moving at a good pace. If we have changes, we let everyone know so they can be prepared. We want to make sure everyone gets their jobs done and the couple has every shot they want!

3.    How can we (Photo& Video help you out)?

I once had a photographer put reminders in his phone to make sure that they were back to the reception site before cocktail hour ended so he could photograph the room before we let the guests in. That was amazing! We were at Denver Botanic Gardens and it’s nearly impossible to hunt down a couple and the photographer once they have gone off to take couple shots. When I came around the corner and saw him already back, I was so happy! I think the best way photo and video can help us is to be mindful of the timeline and try to stick to it as much as possible. We create the timeline to keep everyone working together, keep the event moving at a good pace, and help the couple maximize their party time! We don’t want you to miss those perfect couple shots – trust me, we love them as much as you do – but planning ahead of time and getting back to the site is super important for the rest of the night.

Check out their website www.prismaeventsllc.com

Follow on Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/prismaweddings/

Follow on Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/prismaweddingsevents/

Follow on Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/prismaweddings/boards/

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Natasha Tuccitto - Sugar Willow Events

1.    As a wedding planner what is the hardest part about your Job?

Hardest part of my job is, time... there is never enough set up time. Keeping large groups of people to a somewhat schedule, when and where during a wedding with the wedding party, parents, grandparents and such.

 

2.    What would you like the Photographers & Videographers know about Planning?

A planner can only do so much, so it is very helpful when the photographers and videographers are working with planners to move things along.

 

3.    How can we (Photo& Video help you out)?

I typically meet with the photographer and videographer before the wedding to work out a timeline together. I will also include the DJ, so we can all work together on the major events of the reception to make sure everything goes as planned. So I guess I would like photo and video to plan to meet with the planner ahead of time. And to always make me look as thin as possible in any shots they get;)

 Check out their website  Sugar Willow Events

Follow them on Facebook   www.facebook.com/Sugarwillowevents/

Follow them on Instagram www.instagram.com/sugarwillowevents/

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My Thoughts

When vendors work together, there is a lot that can be done in a short amount of time. I think that one of the hardest things at a wedding is we all want to do a good job. We all want the bride and groom to be happy. 

As the media people we are the only vendors that are with the couple all day. Often times I start my day at 8am and do not finish till midnight. We have a lot poured into the day as well because when we go home we still have work to do on the wedding. Many times we are editing the photos or video, and building albums for months after the wedding. 

I like to communicate with the planners and coordinators that I work with from the beginning. I insist on building a photo timeline with my couples to ensure that they receive the photos that they have dreamed about. When there is no planner I often become the planner by default. Telling people were to sit, where to be next, and how to cut the cake. When there is a planner if we work together we can make to couples day absolutely amazing. 

I appreciate you reading and to Natasha, Aimee, and Jazmyne for taking the time to help with this post.  

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Dear Photographer - Fight in the Shade

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What is up everyone? Hopefully the slow season has treated you well and you are rejuvenated for this next year. Every so often I will write a little encouraging ditty for all us. I mean, I need it too, but I want to share things that I find encouraging with others. 

So what do I mean fight in the shade?

Remember that movie 300? Well, that actually originates from a true story. While the movie is a bit ridiculous. There are parts that are true and even quotes that have been passed down in oral tradition to remember the Spartans and how 300 (there were more Greeks, but only 300 Spartans) stood against the armies that came at them. 

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So in the oral tradition and history of the battle, when a message is sent to the Spartans that basically they have no chance, because 

"Our arrows will blot out the sun"

The Spartan General is said to have laughed and replied

Than we shall have our battle in the shade!

So why am I writing about history to photographers? Well, here is where I was inspired. There are manny times that are tough as a human, as a small business owner, and as a photographer. We may have times where we want to surrender because the onslaught seems overpowering. It could be clients, it could be life outside of photography, or it could be the drama that unfolds within the photography world itself. But it is all about outlook. The Spartans and their companions at most numbered about 7,000, and the invading Persians had over 300,000 in their army. The Spartans faced certain death, and they did. But their outlook was to laugh in the face of desolation and be mock the threat with the joy of shade in battle. 

So, when the going gets tough. How can you find shade in what you are dealing with? Remember that if people are trying to destroy you, it means that you have something worth defending. When other photographers talk shit about you, it is because they are insecure, and threatened. So your shade is your success. 

When it is a rough client. Remember those who you have given so much joy. 99% of the time it is not you. It is the other people. Unless you are just an ass. Then it is you. 

 

So when the arrows start flying, find your shade... and PARTY!!!

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Epic Groomsmen Gifts

Over the years I have seen a ton of rad bridal party gifts. There are a ton of articles out there that have ideas, and do' and don't for wedding party gifts. A really great one can be found here. 

But here are some of my favorites. Some I cannot find the photos from the weddings, but I have seen them and they are rad. 

One of my favorites is from Groovy Guy Gifts. I liked this one so much I picked up a flask with my logo on it (Although I am changing that soon). This was super rad because it came in a branded wood box. You can find that here.

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        Get your dude's faces on a          flask

One of my favorites. I mean how cool is this. Check it here.

So I have yet to see this one, but I kinda want one just to have. You know in case Zombies attack

I mean you could throw your buddies nicknames on there, and it looks super cool. Check those out here. 


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What guy doesn't like a custom rocks glass. Even if they don't drink, you can have some milk in it. I have shot several weddings where these were given out as gifts and the dudes where super happy. There are a ton of sites for them, but its always cool to support an Etsy Shop. 


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This is one I have seen a couple times but I cannot for the life of me find a photo of one. But you can get a whole variety of Leatherman tools engraved. You can range from $16 - $175. Super rad, and they are always useful. Check out the collection here. 


Finally the Ultimate Groomsman gift. 

2018 Rezvani Tank

The Rezvani Tank. This thing is fully customizable and your grooms dudes will never forget your wedding. Each one will only set you back $225K base price. But is there really a price on friendship?

Food Photography - Denver Food Photographer

Denver Food Photography

So while my website is primarily weddings and couples, something else that I shoot quite a bit is food for restaurants. Mainly I contract out for these, but occasionally I do images for menus and advertisements for restaurant groups. I often get asked about how I got into to shooting food, so I figured that I would talk about that here. 
Several years ago when I was living back in Kansas, I made a friend that owned a restaurant group in the Kansas City area. After talking for a bit, we decided to do a complete menu overhaul. That was my first time shooting food professionally. After this, I connected with a Grocery Co-Op and shot advertising photos for them. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to work with quite a few restaurants in Denver and Boulder as well as other locations along the Colorado Front Range. 
Here is a gallery of some of my favorite images. 

Process for shooting food.
When I was first starting out in food photography, I read so much on food styling. There is so much that the high-end food photographers do to food, that makes it not even food. I get it, but I also do not get it. I mean using motor oil for syrup on pancakes and waffles is a good idea, as the regular syrup will soak in too fast. I have never in my life received a fast food sandwich that looks as good as the photo. But most of that is fake food anyway. 
When I work with restaurants, I always tell them to present the food as the customer sees it. Chefs will always try to make their food look good for photos, but I want them to plate it as it is normally plated. Sometimes they try and put it on a different style dish, or add garnish on top that is not normally on the plate. My goal is to present the food to the customer would see the dish. 

 You can see the large windows on the right. That is what I use as my light source in 99% of my shoots. 

You can see the large windows on the right. That is what I use as my light source in 99% of my shoots. 

99% of the time I use natural light. There have only been a few places that I have utilized my flash in a shoot. When I shoot, I try and find a table next to a large window, with diffused light. Depending on the situation I will shoot with my 24mm lens or my 35mm lens. I utilize a white foam board to bounce the light to bring out my shadows. 

 Here is a SOOC where you can see the White Foam board. On tables that have a gloss finish it is hard to use this due to the reflection. 

Here is a SOOC where you can see the White Foam board. On tables that have a gloss finish it is hard to use this due to the reflection. 

I spent about ten years in kitchens cooking and working with a variety of chefs. During my time in kitchens, I learned how chefs think about food and all the elements that go into a dish. So when I shoot food, I work to show all the effort that goes into a single entrée or dessert. 
For me, this involves having overhead shots, customer view shots, and close-ups of the main details of the dish. 

When Shooting restaurants I like to get lifestyle shots as well.  These vary, and most times if I am in the kitchen I will shoot at a low shutter speed and ket the movement and action in the kitchen. 

When shooting food you need to understand it. You need to understand how fast things turn in the air. Cheese turns fast. Meat if overcooked looks grey. Refried beans look like doo doo. Learn how food works and it will make shooting easier. 

 

Keep an eye out. I have a couple food photography workshops that I am planning with a local restaraunt group. 

The Pines at Genesee - Landon & Brandi - Denver Wedding Photographer

So I am going to be straight. This is an older wedding. It was on my old blog, but never got transferred over. But I was looking back at old photos, wanted to throw down a re-edit and blog about this. 

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This wedding is special to me because the groom, Landon, was a kid that I coached in track when I was in college in Northern Colorado. Him and I had become friends after I graduated and left and stayed in touch through the years. When he got engaged he contacted me and wanted me to shoot his wedding. I was living in Kansas at the time but its alway good to get back and shoot in Colorado. Now that I moved back I get to shoot all over this beautiful state. These two got hitched at The Pines In Genesee and the rain provided a great backdrop of some of our photos. 

The colors that were around us that day were gorgeous. Fall weddings in Colorado are something else. 

I love when bridal parties are fun and don't take the photos too seriously. Many of these guys have known each other for years so they have a lot of history. You can really tell how close they are. 

The party was pretty baller too. This was my first wedding shooting with a live band. 

I also got to nail an epic backlit image. 

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