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/



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. 


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!!!


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.


        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. 


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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Take Your Squarespace site to the next Level - Denver Wedding Photographer

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What up fellow Squares! Or Spacers or whatever we are called. I guess it would probably be creatives. Well, I learned a few things today that got my site to do a couple things that I had been wanting to do, but never got around to doing. The best part is it took me no more that 10 minutes. Yes the same amount of time you spend scrolling aimlessly through Facebook and Instagram. Actually probably shorter. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about SEO for Squarespace sites. Things that I did that helped me from not getting picked up on keywords I wanted in my new state to ranking and getting more organic traffic. You can read that post HERE

So here are a few things to help your site out. 

The Announcement Bar

No you cant get drunk here. But it is just as rad. Have a rad promotion? Or want people to notice something when they come to your site? Utilize the announcement bar. 

Cool right? So how do you do this. Simple pay me $5000 and I will do it. Not really. Login to your site, and click the Design tab. 

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Once you click in, make sure that you enable the announcement Bar. Then write whatever you want, hit save and BOOM!!! You have a rad announcement bar. Just remember that if it is a limited time special or something to go in and change it. You don't want to have something for Valentines Day in November. 

Disable Right Click

Ok, so you don't want to let people steal you images. But anyone can right click and save. 


So how do you stop those people? Well copy this code and inject into either your header or footer. 

<script language=JavaScript> var message="Function Disabled!"; function clickIE4(){ if (event.button==2){ alert(message); return false; } } function clickNS4(e){ if (document.layers||document.getElementById&&!document.all){ if (e.which==2||e.which==3){ alert(message); return false; } } } if (document.layers){ document.captureEvents(Event.MOUSEDOWN); document.onmousedown=clickNS4; } else if (document.all&&!document.getElementById){ document.onmousedown=clickIE4; } document.oncontextmenu=new Function("alert(message);return false") </script>

Now if that doesn't work since I disabled the right click, highlight and Command (CTRL)  C   if that doesn't work, then go here and copy. 

So are you confused on how to do this? Super easy! Login to your site and go to any page. Scroll to the bottom and hover. You should see the Footer button. 

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Click edit. 

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Click on the code button and paste. Boom. No more right click. 

EDIT: IT is always possible fo someone who knows what they are doing to work around this. But if someone is dumb enough to try and steal your images and use them without your permission, they probably don't know how to figure that out. 


Have any questions or comments? Drop them below. 

Interested in random marketing/advertising/branding tips follow my IG stories HERE.

Preparing for a Wedding - A Vendors Point of View

So, as a wedding vendor, I get the inside look at weddings. I don't get to see the whole planning process, but I do chat with my couples and I do offer them some tips along the way. The thing that I stress the most, from meeting to the day of, is... "The only thing that really matter is that at the end of the day you two are married." I will always stand by that.

As a photographer I may be biased, and I might ad to the thought above that it would be nice to your memories recorded in a photo or video form. Because to be honest, no one else will remember what your flowers looked like, or what food you served. (Although, I remember food at weddings, but that is because I love good food). 

So what are some things that you can do to help your wedding planning? Damn, I am glad you asked because I have just a couple of those things. 

Engagement Photos!

Do get them, especially with the photographer that will shoot your wedding. You will get to learn how they shoot and it will make the wedding day go so much smoother.  I love engagement photos. It can be a great time for us to connect and to get a feel for what we can create together. Engagement sessions are a time to capture your relationship and your story. The best part is that these can be super personal and you can use them for your save the dates and invitations. Think about what kind of fun things you would want to do. We can go out to a lake or a beach, we can hike up into the woods or we can hang out downtown. 

Some Engagement Photo Tips


Coordinate your outfits.

Launder and iron your clothes, Photoshop won’t take out wrinkles or animal hair.

Bring props: something meaningful to you, your pet, an

instrument, a hobby, sport or whatever suits you the most.

Use it as an excuse to get professional hair and makeup or splurge on those fantastic new shoes you have been wanting.

Some other thoughts

Think about your body type as well; you know what suits you and what doesn’t.Dress for the season, especially if your engagement shoot is outdoors. The most important thing during your engagement shoot is to be yourself! The whole purpose of the shoot is to capture exactly who you are, and show your personalities. If you pick an outfit that just isn’t ‘you’, you’ll feel uncomfortable and that is never fun.

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Speaking of the save the dates Paperless Post  does some amazing work. You can order any of your save the dates here. I don't receive any compensation from them if you do, but their work is stellar. 


First I suggestfiguring out what the top three things most important things to you are, and plan your day according to those.

Remember that at the end of the day you have your marriage and your memories.

The days timeline:

There are a few people that should be involved in the planning of the timeline.

  1.          The couple
  2.          The wedding planner/coordinator (if you have one)
  3.          And the Photographer.


Thinking about planning a first look? Great! But what’s so great about a first look? Wedding days move by so fast and seeing each other before the ceremony can really alleviate unnecessary stresses. It can calm your nerves, and give you a more relaxed day. It also provides for some amazing moments and more time for photos. 

First offthings will go wrong. But those things will be the things that you will tell your grandkids. But here are a few tips from my seasons that can help the day go a little smoother and a little more stress free.

Stay hydrated, don’t drink too much alcohol before the reception. Drunk faces do not look good in photos, and staying hydrated can keep away head aches and cramps. If you are looking to have your wedding outside the best time is about 2 hours before sunset. This way you do not have harsh shadows and the light falls more evenly. Remember it is about being married, not just getting married. At the end of the day all that matters is that you have each other. Focus on each other. 

There are so many things that I can talk about when it comes to weddings. As one of the only vendors that has the opportunity to spend the entire day with the couple, and even one of the few that stays in contact after (for delivery and such) I have the rare look into how many would have changed their day. 

Take time to look at a florist. Vibe with them. Make sure that you like who they are and their work.  

Find a DJ who is not cheesy and is involved. let them have fun and read the dance floor. No one but you will know if you have  a pre-arranged list. Most weddings that make the DJ play a certain list struggle with the reception and people having fun on the dance floor. 

There are so many great places online to order stuff from, Etsy is great and you are supporting artists. As I mentioned before a great company to order you wedding invitations from is Paperless Post. 

Food is important, but not as important as you might thing. I have even had other caterers tell me this. 

Remember that I travel all over the world for weddings. I would love to meet at chat with you no matter where you are located! Lets have fun and create some amazing images together. 


Are you really re-branding? 6 steps to help.

There is a story of a Jewish Rabbi, that was approaching the city gate in the dark, and the guard yells out, “Who are you and what is your purpose?” The Rabbi yells back, “How much do you get paid to stand there and ask that?” When the guard replies, the Rabbi tells him, “I will pay you triple to come to my house and ask me that question every morning.”

I start with this story and I want you to think about it as you read through this. I will tie it back together at the end.

So, lets talk branding, and while we are at it, lets talk re-branding. First, lets mention what re-branding isn’t. You don’t rebrand by just getting a new logo or a new website. A true re-brand would be looking at how you do business, how you operate, how you interact with your clients, your services, your products, and then a logo and website.

A brand is more than just the visuals.

Yes, a clean, well thought out and designed logo is amazing. It is good to have on a card, contracts or any other things that are part of your visual brand. I mean I love a great logo and even better…a clever logo.

(Some of my favorite clever logos)

The problem is, many photographers, myself included when I first started, think that if we get a logo and a Facebook page we are good. We don’t put in the time or effort to brand in the first place, so when we re-brand, we are actually branding for the first time. So many of us start without looking at our identity. Just like our personal life, once we know our identity, or our business identity, we can make solid decisions that will help make our brand consistent. A consistent brand is a trusted brand, and a trusted brand is a profitable brand.

Consistency is key. Both in visuals and how you operate. If you are starting out, or rebuilding your brand, and you are deciding on if you should remove images are keep them, remember that, if a client sees your portfolio, and the images are not consistent they will be unsure as to what to expect from you. They do not know which images are the new or old, you have to guide them.

That being said, it is my personal opinion that if you do different types of photography, you can edit a family session differently than you may a couple’s session, or a maternity session. Others may disagree with me, but that is the beauty of life, we can all do what we want.

So speaking of guiding, when it does come to building your site, remember that you must guide your potential clients into booking you.

“How do I do this?” you may ask. Well every business has a Unique Selling Point (USP). This is where knowing who you are and having a solid identity will help you. You need to sit down and really think about what it is you offer to the client. If you cannot do this, then how will they?

In the marketing world there is a difference between brand identity and a brand image. There is a very important distinction to make. These two elements of a brand when they work together can help create an extremely strong brand.

Brand Identity – Originates from the business, and is how the business wishes to be perceived.

Brand Image – Is perceived by the external source, or the customer.

These two brand elements are more than just the logo and site. But rather the emotional appeal to the world around us. Companies like Nike, North Face, and Apple are prime examples of a companies that have worked hard to have the two in sync.

The problem arises when you have not thought through your identity and just put it out there, and your image does not fall in line. That is why re-branding is more than just a logo or a website.

Think of the visual elements of your brand as the top of an iceberg.

 Source: &nbsp;Pere - Flickr - Creative Commons

Source:  Pere - Flickr - Creative Commons

Remember in school when we learned that only a small portion of an iceberg is visible? That is the same with brands. Can you see customer service? Can you see/touch when a client feels calm around you when you are shooting? Can you see the emotion when they are overjoyed by how good they look in your photos? You can see the effects.

So how do you operate your brand? Who are you? Remember the story that I started with? Can you verbalize who you are? What your unique selling point? What problem do you solve for your client? Ask yourself “Who am I and what is my purpose?”


There are several great resources online to help with this. Hubspot has a great guide.


(I am in no way affiliated with them, nor do I get paid to mention them).


There are several key things that you can do.

1.    Start with who you are, why are you in business? What is your purpose?

2.    Who is your target market? Get as specific as possible.

3.    What is your position in the market? Figure out the competition and where you currently land and where you want to land in the market.

4.    Really think about your brand identity, take a look at the guide from Hubspot.

5.    Build your website and make your online presence cohesive

6.    Lay out a plan. Set measurable goals, and evaluate those goals after a preset amount of tim



If you are interested I offer Brand Strategy Mentoring,  Learn More on my page or contact me directly. 




Surprise Proposal Shoots - Why? How? What? - Colorado Wedding Photographer

Good Morning! I hope you had a stellar holiday. Well, engagement season is upon us, and yes it is a season. So if you are a photographer reading this...get ready. If you are someone who is proposing... congratulations! And if you are expecting a proposal, remember that it is who you are marrying, and not how big the ring is...how extravagant the proposal is, or anything else. It is more about being married than getting married. 

That said, having a proposal photographed can be super rad. You have the memories and the reaction captured forever. You have an epic photo to share with your friends and family as well. But it does take come coordinating. No matter where you are going to be proposing, the time, the plan, and the location are key. Each proposal that I have shot has been different; each one has had its challenges. So here are a few stories of each and the photos and video behind them. 

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1. Trinity Church - Boston, MA

These two got engaged in November of 2015 at Trinity Church courtyard in Boston. All of the proposals that I have shot, I have not met the couples before hand, so I had to be sure where they would walk and what they would wear. Normally the best way is to have the person proposing to send me a selfie or a photo of their partner So I can look for that outfit. For this church courtyard, there are a lot of people taking photos. So the location is key.

For this location he told me the direction/street they would come from, and the spot which he was going to propose on. Earlier that day he had sent me a photo of her so I knew what coat to look for. After the proposal we did a short couples session so they would have photos for their engagement announcement. 

Pouring rain proposal 

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This proposal was interesting. The day of the proposal it was pouring rain. For this proposal, the groom's brother did the organizing. He found me because we used to live in the same town. He wanted to surprise his brother, so he did not tell him until the morning of the proposal. The plan was that they would meet the family at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston right before they went to dinner. While they were all there taking in the view, he would take her down by the water and pop the question. It all went as planned except they were a few minutes late and I was standing out in the rain with my cameras trying not to get them ruined.

This one has a little video that goes with it. 

Arriving by boat

This proposal was super fun. Mike arrived by boat to the dock that Tori was hanging out with a friend at. The best friend and Mike had planned this and worked it so that he had a work "emergency" that took him away for the day. The planning of this one was nice as I blended in with the crow at the dock. There wasn't any way to miss a guy arriving by boat.

Watch the Video for this one here. 

While I have shot several others proposals, these are my favorites. Each one was different. For one proposal we were supposed to be near a statue. The photo that was sent and the location were different, but it was not until arriving that this was figured out. Luckily I realized that it was the wrong statue and made it to the other one before they arrived. 


  1. Know and confirm the location. 
  2. Know what outfits they will be wearing. 
  3. Arrive early enough to make any changes. i.e., Ask people to move, adjust your location. 
  4. Know your gear. You might be shooting at night, or in the rain. Know what your gear can do. 
  5. Bring a backup person. You might look more natural shooting someone in a location. But they can also have a camera as back up if needed. 
  6. Make sure that the person proposing does so in the right position. The best is to have them angled so that you can see their hands and the other persons face. You need to get the reaction shot. So make sure that when you iron out the details, you let them know where you will be located. 
  7. Have fun! Make sure that you have fun with this, try and think through anything that can go wrong and brainstorm with the person proposing. 

New Hope Photography - 2017 - A year in review - Denver Wedding Photographer

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I cannot believe that this 2017 is nearly over. It feels like yesterday that I was just moving back to Colorado. Well, it has been over a year since I moved back and things have been interesting. 
Moving a business is hard, especially when you have short notice, and this is the third time in 7 years that I have moved. 2017 rolled in like a migraine; my personal life was so tumultuous that I fell behind in shooting, blogging, and any sort of advertising. The wedding side of New Hope Photography suffered, but my commercial side has taken off. Over the past year, I have worked with Open Table, Bon Appetite, Aveda, and over 60 other business along the Colorado Front Range. 

While I had the opportunity to shoot for Bed & Breakfasts, Salons, and other business, I have always loved shooting food. Many of the business that I provided branding services for were restaurants. Here are several of my favorites. 



Weddings and Couples Portraits

It was a strange year for me; I think due to finishing my Master's degree last year, I only had one wedding in the books. My friend Julia from school got hitched in Dallas and also gave me another state for my 50 states goal. But outside of this single wedding, I shot quite a few couples sessions that stoked my creative fire.  


I met some amazing people and vendors this year. I worked with Anna Be Bridal, Evolution Salon, and Metalmark Fine Jewelry for a styled shoot in Boulder and Kaysie Modeled for us. It was amazing. You can read the blog posts here & here. 

Vendor's for the styled shoot

Anna Be Bridal - http://anna-be.com/      Instagram

Evolution Salon  - http://evolutionsalondenver.com/     Instagram

Metalmark Fine Jewelry  - https://metalmarkfinejewelry.com/   Instagram



I also had the opportunity to do some studio work this year for the Aveda Institute in Denver. While I have dabbled it studio photos, I have never really had the opportunity to flex my muscles and shoot it. But these portraits are some of my favorite that I have ever taken. 



In 2017 one of my goals was to build my Instagram. In the past I have had no strategy, rather I just posted images and hoped for the best. Follow me here!

New Hope Photography Instagram best of 2017

While the move back to Colorado has been rough. It is good to be back in my native state. If you know anyone that is getting married I am offering a $100 referral bonus. Your friend books a wedding, you get $100. Super dope. 

Nikon is Better - Why I left Canon after 10 years

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So to start, I want to say that I do not think Nikon is better. Nor is Canon, or Fuji, or Sony. They are all tools with which we choose to use for our business. So with that said this is a personal story of why I chose to change brands after ten years of shooting. 

It was a mild spring afternoon in Colorado; I was sitting in my college computer lab in a bidding war for a Canon camera.

I won.

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$40 and a couple of weeks and I had my new camera. But when it showed up it was a film SLR. I had no idea what that meant; I was just bidding on what was a cool looking camera and what I thought might be a digital camera. I was wrong, but this was back in 2004 or 05, and digital cameras were not as prevalent. But this is what got me started on Canon. It wasn't hardcore research, or well-thought choices; it was an eBay win. 

I didn't go wrong; Canon treated me well. In fact, the first four years of my professional career were with Canon cameras. I have shot the XS, t1i, t2i, t3i t4i, t5i, The 5D classic, the 5d2, the 6d, the 7d, the 5d3 and eosM (That is not to mention the film cameras). I have used a lot of the Canon lineup. I loved it, and there is nothing wrong with Canon 

And there is always the potential that I will buy a Canon body at some point again in the future, but let's get to why I left. This happened around the time that the 35mm 1.4 II was being released and after the 24-70mm 2.8 II had been released. There were rumors about the Canon 5d IV, and it just seemed to me that Canon was not really in it for the photographer anymore. The sensor was not that much different, the glass was marginally better, and the 24-70 didn’t have any Image Stabilization, but the price tag was $1200+ than what other companies were doing for similar if not better equipment.

(Now remember, these are my opinions, you can disagree).

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I had thought about switching to Nikon before. But in my earlier years, it was because I thought that I sucked because of the tools I had. I realized that my cameras were just that, tools, and I needed to work on who I was as a photographer and my vision.

Then the D750 came out, I had seen some photographers post some amazing shots utilizing the dynamic range of the sensor, and the tones that came from this camera just called to my soul.

So I decided to switch. Like I said before, I knew that these were just tools, but I knew that Nikon was attempting to give photographers something that they wanted. My lenses have been the Sigma lenses for years, so I knew that I could just swap them. So I posted all my gear for sale and hoped that it would all sell before my next wedding.


Well, they did. I sold my Canon 5d3, 6d, all my lenses, and flashes and was able to buy brand new Nikon D750’s with the same lens setups and flashes with money left over. That was rad.

Well, I the day after receiving them I had a wedding proposal to shoot, and the following weekend I had a wedding. So there was little testing, just jumping in. I struggled a bit with the dials and lens mounting, and I missed the wheel dial that Canon uses, but when I got my images into Lightroom, I was so stoked. The tones were what I had been chasing after, and I loved Nikon.

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Its been two and a half years since I switched, and I have never really thought about going back. Canon was great for years, they do good things, but my style changed and Nikon fit my vision.

What I really love about Nikon using Sony sensors is the control I have in the Dynamic range of images. I can expose for the sky and capture my sunset that I want and then in post recover the shadows that I want. This way I do not lose the information in the highlights. Back with Canon I used to have to bracket shoot and then mask in the sky from the image and the people from another, it was very time consuming. 

I know that Canon has gotten a little better, but for me the mix of dynamic range and tones was what has me hooked. 

As I explore the world of the video, there is a chance that I may jump back in and buy some Canon bodies for video, but only time will tell.

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

Icelandic ponies

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. 

 Iceland elopement/wedding

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. 

Iceland selfie

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

 Chautauqua Park Couples Photos Boulder Colorado

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 because...it 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