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Thursday, February 28, 2013

This and That

Welcome to this and that Thursday! I don't know that I have much to say this week...

Katie Did What

This week I spent a lot of time in the studio doing product shoots for a few clients, and it's very time consuming! That I managed to get some work done on next months teaching posts is super amazing! It probably has something to do with all the 4am morning! I guess I should re-read those and make sure I was forming whole sentences and such! I cant wait to share it with you all!

This week also saw us in the dr's office for an emergency eye exam since my kiddo was sent home with the teachers telling me she had pink eye... only to find out AFTER That her friend had been throwing dirt at her on the playground and thats when her eye started hurting, itching and became red... well. Duh! That's why we don't throw dirt!

This week I also made new buttons for my networking group WINNational

so I was inspired to make a few new ones for my site here as well!

That made me excited to spruce up mine here - even tho I have LOVED the texture ones - because its a nice organic element... it doesn't really fit with everything else right now... so I might work on that today if I can get my client designs and watermarking projects done early enough!

This week I also finally finished up my husbands art station in really what should be my desk... but you know sacrifice and all...

I custom built all the little paint shelves, gave extra small things storage with the white organizers above... and made a magnetic strip to hold paper clips and other small things he always has around his crafts... (ok... mini painting supplies, crafts after all not a very "manly" name for it).

So this week end I am back in the thrift stores searching for a few must have items for my office / studio area... hopefully I will be able to share those images soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Then There Were TWO Loves of My Life.

Hey there, I'm Kristina. TheStreetersUltd is where I call home here on the internet but today my very lovely friend Candy - real life friend and blog friend - asked me to come visit you and talk about love?
Aside from it being that lovey-dovey time of year (aka the month Valentine's Day)? 
Well friends, I love LOVE.
And my heart is oh-so-full at the moment.

Photo by Theresa J Photography 

I met the love of my life, my husband,  Ryan in 2004. I didn't start falling for him until 2005. I started dating him in 2006.
Oh did I mention we lived 560 miles away from one another?! 
So after our long distance relationship of traveling back and forth from Kansas and Colorado I packed my bags and moved to Colorado at the end of 2006.
Everyone thought we were crazy - and maybe we were - but we knew this relationship was right.
We made it through living together without killing each other but it wasn't until 2009 that we got engaged.
We got married later that year, and have been married ever since.
Ryan is my very best friend, he is my total opposite most of the time but he's also my biggest fan just as I am his. We complete each other in a way that I can't really even put into words.
Never did I think I could love him any more, or love anyone as much as I love him.

Then in March of 2012 we found out we were expecting - we had been trying for quite some time so we were thrilled.

In November we welcomed our first child into the world and I had no idea how much my heart would be exploding with love. I thought I knew, but really I didn't know much. 
My heart had to have tripled in size the moment my eyes laid on my husband falling in love at first sight with our daughter, and then the moment I got to lay eyes on her the love I had for her for the nine months in my womb multiplied by I don't even know how much.

Every day I fall further and further in love with our daughter - every single smile or just moment in general - I am soaking it all in and loving every second because the truth is, she will only be as small as she is today, Today. Every day she grows a little more, learns something new and it's so exciting.

And friends, it's like falling in love with my husband all over again too. He adores her, I love overhearing little conversations he has at her, or the little songs he makes up just to keep her entertained.

So here I am with two loves of my life, two human beings that complete me in ways that I never thought possible.

My Husband & My Daughter.
The Two Loves of My Life.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Top 5 Things you can do for great Wedding Portraits

Even if you have hired a professional photographer, and followed all my other advice from this months (Love posts), there are still a few things you can do on the day of your wedding to have a dramatic impact on your images!

In my 20 some odd years of being in the photography industry I have done countless wedding, bridal and event photography. In that time I have been able to be a part of all stages, from assisting, to being the “main” photographer, to editing, creating video, and even printing the end product. In that time I have really learned to appreciate the art behind wedding photography.

 Did you know as a bride, attendant or even a guest there are countless things you can do to help a photographer and insure the images that are captured are priceless keepsakes for generations? Here are my top 5 ways of insuring great wedding portraiture!

#1 The Shoot List.
First as a couple, be sure to create a “shoot list” with your photographer. This list is the combo of shots you need it should look something like…
Bride/ Groom / Grooms mom (Anne)
Bride/ Groom/ Grooms mom / Step Dad (Frank)

This list should be done in advance and copies should be on both you and the photographer’s side. A real wedding photographer will have the basics memorized- but as in many modern families there are people you want in, people who may need to be on the end to be edited out later (you laugh but we all know its true!) and even ex’s who cant be stood next to each other. The more information you can give ahead of time for these little notes, as well as the REALLY important shots you want. Like… if you HAVE to have a photo of great-great grandma and the newborn… you should speak up prior to the chaos.

#2 The Assistant
Any wedding photographer worth their salt will not be doing this solo and the shoot list will be the assistants guide to make sure everything the bride want gets done. He/ she is the backbone so to speak, and the backup. They are also the “go to” in most photographer / assistant relationships. The photographer is there for the bride. The assistant is there for everyone else. If your mom wants a shot of something, she should be told to go to the assistant with it. The assistant will either take the shot (if they are a second shooter) or will be sure to have the photographer do it. Or will at the very least be able to handle the situation without distracting the photographer away from the bride. You should clarify the role of the assistant or additional shooters in your pre-wedding consultation you’re your photographer before the wedding, and be sure to inform your bridal party… and vocal family members whom they can and cannot go to with requests.

If there is no assistant (or even if there is) you should also assign Aunt Betty (who always wants to help, and knows most everyone… you know the one.. ) to assist the assistant. Or, better yet find one from each side of the family, give them a copy of the shoot list, and let her be the runner during the bridal portraits. This can save a lot of time! The photographer or photographers assistant can say who they will need next, and she can go get them. She can also watch to make sure each combo you need is getting done… because trust me – you wont know! It also makes her feel important and keeps her from going to you with everything she thinks needs done.

#3 The Kit
I highly recommend this kit to every bride. Go to the dollar section of your local drug store or big box market and pick up these handy items.

  1.  A small sewing kit (includes tiny scissors, thread and needle, add safety pins and several boutineer pins (craft needles) to it if needed)
  2.  A pack of Mary-Kay blot cloths ($5) or some round cotton pads (dollar section) to blot shiny areas during the day- don’t forget to use them on you and your groom!
  3.  Extra lip gloss /lipstick, powder and WATERPROOF mascara
  4.  Nail file, clippers, and basic polish – you know one of your bridesmaids are going to need this.
  5.  I also recommend Tylenol, Advil, Tums, and a Powerbar.

Now the tricky part to this kit is making sure you have it with out – ALL the time. I suggest you give it to your maid of honor and put her in charge of making sure you touch up makeup and blot about every half hour. (or before each “stage” of the day at least) I have seen these kits cleverly attached to bouquets or as a cute handbag to carry all day.

#4 The Smile
Everyone should be forewarned that especially in today’s technologically crazed world, it is best to assume someone; somewhere is taking your photo, especially on your wedding day. Everyone should keep good smiles, and shoulders back, sit up straight etc… all day. Nothing looks worse in your church shots then the one bridesmaid or groomsman that is hunched over, or picking their teeth. While your photographer can (and should) do something about this in your formal shots, during the ceremony there is nothing they can do! As a bride and groom, you should always have a smile… remember to excuse yourself to the restroom to pat your underarms dry, checking for food in your teeth, or touching up make-up.

 Last… PLEASE remember a wedding is no place for gum! Your photographer will thank you for not making them edit out bright blue gum from open mouths! Fact: Some will charge you extra for it, and they should!!!

#5 Go the extra mile.
Professional wedding photographers all have a different view on the next subject. But most I know agree. If you are having a buffet, or sit down dinner it is not a good time to be doing photos. NO ONE likes having those table shots done, food in teeth and all! It is a good time to let your photographer breath, sit down, swap batteries, or reset gear for the party portion to come. Discuss in advance what your photographer typically does during this time. It is the polite thing to include your photographer (and crew) in on the meal. Some photographers will flat out refuse, while others may tell you they may take a small portion in to the kitchen area or somewhere away from guests, some may outright thank you for being so generous, and some may be even be expecting it! I find that the longer you expect them to produce amazing images, the more you should expect to feed them! This also is a nice way of thanking them for everything they are doing! Yes, they are paid to be there, but if they pass out from lack of food or dehydration think of all that equipment they are likely to break… and moments they will miss as they are carted away in an ambulance!
Found on the Wedding Bee

Tip: If you want a shoot of everyone who attended your wedding, rather then doing table shots ask for a photobooth, or photoguest book option. Or even set up an "upload" station with a laptop or cards to where they can send their own snaps of your wedding to you!
I hope these tips come in handy! I know my past brides and friends have always appreciated them!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Im In Love

I am sad that this will be my last official Friday, I'm in Love post! I have had a lot of fun sharing things with you and I might have to bring it back on some sort of regular basis!

I am always sharing with you handmade, and home-based businesses that I LOVE and shop... but sometimes it's hard to find all your "daily" items in that venue. So I thought I would end with a few "everyday" items that make my day happier, healthier, greener and cleaner!
Bear River Valley Cereal

OMGoodness! I am so happy that I found this cereal! Ok. First, on its ingredients list. is whole grain, pumpkin, yams, blueberry's, carrot...hello veggies and fruits in the morning for my kid! Second, Free of artificial flavors or preservatives. No high fructose corn syrup. No hydrogenated oil. Third, 75% LESS Packaging materials!! RESEALABLE BAG! Oh and "We purchase wind-generated electricity credits for 100% of the electricity used to make our cereals because working with Mother Nature just seems like common sense to us." direct from the website.  I love stand up companies that make a good product, and put thought into how they effect the environment! Plus, my kid thinks its a "treat" because it has marshmallows, which we would never do in any other cereal! OH! They have other flavors also... chocolate, frosted wheat's... gluten free options... and best of all found in my regular Safeway store! (they hide them by the granola!)

I have mentioned this next one before.  But it seriously is the best purchase I have made for $5 this year!

Magic Tap
Ok, to be fair the website say's $19.99 I found mine on the "as seen on" rack at Walgreens for $10, and had a $5 store coupon from the rewards card. I am not sure I would be so in love with it as a $20 purchase... who am I kidding it keeps me from getting up at dinner to refill milk glasses 3 times, and it allows my kid the freedom to get her own breakfast so I can enjoy my coffee. So  what a price for some peace right? LOVE THIS! I will even take cleaning up a few spills in my fridge as it drips occasionally and my kid presses the blue handle with her finger for "kicks" occasionally.

And my last product to share today... tho I have a TON that I wish I could fit in, is from Wildtree

WILDTREE Dealer / or find your own vendor at Wildtree.com
This is from the direct sales company WildTree. They were started in 96 by a mom who had two young children with dietary restrictions. The offer "the highest quality herbs, spices and culinary blends that are free of preservatives, additives, fillers and promote a healthier lifestyle. We believe in the value of making cooking a quicker, easier, more healthful project for those who are short on time." (from website)     There are many products from them that I adore. This one is a personal favorite because while it lists to mix with milk/mayo I use Greek yogurt for a healthier twist and my kid uses THIS to dip veggies into rather then the over processed, "other" options. Plus when I order from my friend Christine (linked you to her FB page above) I get to help another woman in business make money!  I love THAT!  

Disclaimer: I am not a review site. I purchase all of these products and have not received any money or product discounts/ or freebies in return for my thoughts and personal review of them.                          

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This and That

This week I put my daughter's lunch in the freezer instead of in her bag...
I know I know... sometimes my auto pilot would crash me into a mountain if I would let it!
That I recovered and was like "what the heck am I doing" was simply amazing!

Luckliy for me its time for

Katie Did What

I love my stamped business cards... but I am working on establishing myself with some commercial clients and wanted to offer something a little more "standard" for them... so I created this...

I am not really sure if its the style / look I am going for yet... so there is that.

What do you think? Do you really love one design, or should I start over? I totally love the retro camera look... and I am thinking of making other designs similar... maybe some retro glasses or martini glasses or something? ooooh! Scissors for crafters, or old sewing machines!

This week I am also offering a SUPER huge sale... mostly because I am so close to a business cash goal so I can purchase a new item... I just want to get there a little faster... So I am offering $25 for 1 full year of watermarking services... I mean.. for $25 (that wont even come close to covering my time for a client) you get unlimited images watermarked and returned to you typically within 24 hours...

Store Envy Link

THINK of all the time most shop owners spend on this! I know so many people who don't watermark at all.. and every time I see a pin or tweet go up of the product... I can't help but think they are not going to get any credit or sales from it! That sale ends Saturday... so I really hope a few more people take me up on this crazy deal!

This week I also had complete contact fail so to the eye Dr I go today! WHOOP That is a part of my day I would be happy to pass on! I would much rather sit here and chat with you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Q and A, Verte Style

I reached out to some bloggers, crafters, shop owners, clients, friends... you know my Peeps and asked... "What don't you know?" then I clarified... about weddings, photography and such! Then I took the most popular, or uncommon and stuffed them into this post! Ok, some are paraphrased, or changed to protect the innocent.  But still... Enjoy!

Why are all my images blue?
If ALL the images are blue, outside, inside, with and without a flash then your sensor may not be working correctly. More likely you mean "why are my indoor" photos blue. Reason, you have lights where the color temperature is in that 4000-7500 K range... sometimes you find that in the "daylight" or "soft" balanced bulbs. Solution: Shoot with a flash, or find the WB mode and adjust it to balance your whites back to white! (by the way... this also answers the questions "why are my images red, yellow, orange, or green" it all has to do with the light your shooting in. More Help

Why do photographers charge so much?
1. Time.
2. Education
3. Equipment
4. Everything else.

Let's face it, we talked enough about why those big professional SLR's look better, but a "good" portrait lens can run easily 500-900$ and that's not even the "Better" or "Best". A professional photographer can have thousands of dollars in basic camera gear, not to mention bags, backgrounds, lights, props, rental space, advertising, oh and the computer and processing... not to mention having to stay on the frontier of an ever changing digital field now. Where do you expect that money to come from?

Since you don't do weddings... who would you recommended?
Let's just clarify.... I don't advertise for weddings... I don't want to tote around an assistant and deal with the choas anymore, I have done my time! However, if your throwing a party in Houston or Denver, I would totally talk to you about it! Small backyard or informal occasions are totally where my heart is right now.

However, if you want to go all out and really do it up in style. Nationally, hands down book Theresa J Photography. She and her husband Tim shoot as a team, they travel to you.. and they are the sweetest, goofiest most amazing people ever... oh yea.... and crazy talented! If I needed a photographer for myself - that's who I would call.

My daughter wants to be a photographer, where should she start?
In business school.
It is the best advice I can give anyone wanted to run their own business. You can pick up a minor in arts or photography, but the money you put in on a solid business education will hands down do you better then anything else! Most of running your own photography business is marketing, advertising and accounting!

I need help with my shop photography, what would you recommend?

1. Turn off your "camera shake" mode (that little hand with the shake marks) despite what the salesman told you it DOES not make your photos more clear. It has NOTHING to do with focus.
2. Add more light- I don't care - you need more I promise.
3. White balance is your friend. Use it.
4. INVEST in your products and just let me do them. (ok shameless plug) But, seriously up your prices $2 to cover the extra photography cost and stop spending time doing something you don't enjoy, are not good at, or are just plain frustrated with! Your clients, and new clients will buy more because they can see the quality of the product.
5. Stay tuned... I will be having many more posts on this subject coming up soon!

What do the numbers on my lens mean?
When you purchase a lens you will see numbers or the type of lens listed something like this:
AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
16-35mm is the Focal Length (the smaller number the wider view you will get. 50mm is considered "prime" or what your eye would see kinda like if you held your arms in a v in front of you. Everything over 50mm is telephoto. The Larger that number 100, 200, 300... the closer your lens can bring subjects to you or "zoom in" on them, if you will. 
Image from Digital Camera World
f/4G: This lens has max aperture of 4/f. That means that the aperture will not open more then that with this lens... so no matter what you do you wont be able to shoot at 2.8f with this lens.
Some show this as f3.5-5.6 which means the max aperture will vary depending on what focal length the lens is at... at its max telephoto it will only go down to 5.6 where at its widest focal legth (smallest number no zoom) it is capable of 3.5
You also might notice a number on your lens cap like 72mm or 68mm... that is the size needed for filters, or additional lens caps... good to know in case you lose yours! 
Clears that right up
 ok... that was a pretty tech answer... so here it is if you didn't understand the above
The first set 16-35mm control how much you can see zooming in and out. I suggest everyone start with a lens like 18-200 its a starter lens and all encompassing with wide angle, and good telephoto. 
The second set tells you how much control you will have over your depth of field. The smaller the number (or the first number if there is two) the more control you will have.
Easier huh! Now for my favorite question...
How many times can you get married and still justify paying for "amazing portraits"?

HA! As many times as you need to "get it right"! While in a perfect world this would mean getting married over and over to the same wonderful person (without the divorce)...  but well...
I do totally think you have to spend the money each time... because if you have to ask...well maybe the this time will be the one that sticks!
Now, there are a lot of other things we could dive into... on any of these topics! I will certainly cover more with lenses and aperture, along with product photography in the not to distant future.
I thought I would knock out some random ones on a Q and A format and see if you all liked it! So now it's your turn... let me know if I should make this a monthly / weekly post! Would you like to see it again? What questions would you ask!?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Wedding Contract

Contracts can be scary... hopefully you have taken some time to get to know your photographer, and feel good about your decision to hire them for your wedding images. However, before you sign the deal and give any money you should read the contract and make sure you understand it fully.

If possible when you are interviewing your candidates, ask them for a copy of a contract that you can take with you. This will allow you to review everything at your convenience and with out pressure. Contracts should be as specific as possible on the photographers obligations, with everything clearly written out. This will protect both client (you) and the photographer from misunderstandings. There should be no verbal additions or promises made beyond the scope of the document.

A professional photographer will have some sort of contract for you to view. Be sure your contract has:
  • Your wedding photographer, and their contact information imprinted on it.
  • Be sure you receive a copy of the contract for your records!
  • Due dates and amounts for all payments

In a solid wedding contract there are three main parts. Here are some things to look for and be sure your contract has. If your photographer doesn't include this information generally, you may consider asking them to do a longer contract for you so that it will all be written!

General Terms/ Information:
This portion should list all the details for your wedding.
  • Date, location and time of your wedding
  • Contact information for Bride and Groom
  • Additional emergency contact for the day of the wedding
  • What time and location the photographer is to report to
  • The address of any and all venues the photographer will be required to be at. (church, park, reception area)
  • Bridal Party and Family information, who the important people are
  • Name and Cell number of the photographer
  • Name(s) of assistant photographers or second shooters (at the least a count of how many people the photographer is bringing)
  • Style of photography and important must have shots listed
  • Subjects, events to be covered such as first dance, pre-wedding, formal images... etc
  • Any additional requests or requirements from you, or your venues.

  • Length of coverage on wedding day
  • Additional sessions included and details of packages or prints included from these
  • What kind of equipment will be used / back up equipment available
  • Film or Digital ( Is there a min/max number of images to be shot or delivered)
  • Date proofs will be available (printed or digital view?)
  • Number of proofs and complete package details 
  • Delivery details of finished package (how, when you will receive them)
  • Editing, Retouching, or other finishing details that are included or additional cost 
  • Overtime or other additional fees listed
  • Total price (itemized if possible) 
  • Re-order policy and prices
  • Meal plan. Are you required / or offering to plan a meal for the photographer?

  • Copyright: who owns the finished images, can you print them yourself, will you receive a photo release in order to do so?
  • Public usage of images (who owns what, can you post images to facebook or a blog, can your photographer? )
  • Additional Photographer/ Photo services (most have exclusions, to insure they are the only "photographer" at your wedding. If you plan on having a photo booth from a separate company or service you will need to have an amendment added so that the photo booth or operator is not considered "another photographer"
  • Limit of liability: this covers "what if"
  •  Insurance coverage of damage to property for venue
Sample Limit of Liability: If Photographer cannot perform this Agreement in whole or in part due to a fire or other casualty, acts of God or nature or terror, or other cause beyond the control of the parties or due to Photographer's illness or injury, then Studio will return all fees to the Client(s) but shall have no further liability with respect to this Agreement. This limitation on liability shall also apply in the event that photographic materials are damaged in processing, lost through camera malfunction, lost in the mail, or otherwise lost or damaged without fault on the part of Photographer. Client(s) agree that an entire wedding cannot be replicated, reenacted or repeated for the purpose of a re shoot and limits Studio's liability to the amount paid under this contract.

A Limit of Liability is basically a disclosure of what the photographer, studio or company is going to do if something goes wrong. It should list everything from if the photographer, or promised assistants do not show up to camera failure or cancellation of the wedding itself and under what circumstances they will offer a refund, or reschedule, or offer replacement product.

In most cases the limit will be a reflection of any deposits or monies already collected at that point. If you haven't paid the full amount, the photographer wont refund more then what has been paid. That line about "clients agree that an entire wedding can not be replicated, reenacted or repeated" basically means if the photographer ruins your day, your images, or your memories... your not getting back more then your photography money... nor will a court require them to. 

This is where all your due diligence, checking references, and trusting your decision to hire a professional will come to play. At the end of the day, because of the limit of liability your trusting that professional with your memories. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Meeting with a Wedding Photographer

Today I am talking Turkey!

Well, not so much turkey as weddings... but were going to get into the meat of choosing the right wedding photographer for you! The Meeting!

So far in our journey we have discussed:

So at this stage in your wedding photographer (or any photographer really) search you should have been able to narrow down your search (hopefully) to the top 2 or 3 candidates. I suggest meeting each of them face to face as the next step.

Meet in Person
It surprises me how many photographers are offing online conferencing for an initial meeting. The only time I see this as any kind of an option is if you are bringing in a photographer like Theresa J who travels nationally to do weddings, or if you are doing a destination wedding. Otherwise, meeting at their place of business (ie studio or office) is my top pick. This lets you see their taste, by looking at how is it decorated, do they display their own work, is it clean, organized? You can tell a lot about a person by paying attention to those details. Be sure to ask about choices on the wall, you could find out it is a shared space. Many photographers rent studio space or do studio co-ops to keep overhead down.

If they don't have a studio or office, which many successful wedding photographers don't, meet in a public place like for coffee where people can mill about with out being rushed off by the staff. This will give you time to review and discuss information.

Look at PRINTED wedding samples.

Digital samples are great, however if your photographer offers printed packages you should be able to feel and touch actual samples of that work. Check the quality, check the backside printing for a printing house name. Check the back of the print for a paper type... is it Kodak, HP Inkjet paper, or something along the lines of Fujicolor Crystal Archive Professional Paper (Traditional E-Surface Paper / or Matte paper)? This is the most common among photographic printers.

Next check the Quality: Do you like the paper? Are the colors correct? Are the whites white? (if it's dark where you are meeting ask if you can be seated next to a window or if you can take the samples over to one to view them. Daylight is the best light to view prints under.) Are the images sharp, clear, how is the composition, graininess... did they bring a full album like the "end product" for you to view or bits and pieces from several different ones of their "best work"

How do they function in your environment? In a big church or out on a beach... look for a photographer who has samples in a similar environment to your wedding day plans! You can even ask if they have been to your venue, if so, what can they tell you about it, do they have samples from that wedding with them?!

Personality traits: Even though you will have seen samples online it is important to review them with the photographer. I find that you can tell a lot about someones personality and professionalism by what they will share about past clients! Do they speak about them with love and respect? Do they tell you everything they did wrong? Is it overall positive or negative comments.... remember if he/she is going to be talking about YOU someday... this is very important!

Gauge Professionalism

Even if you are going with a less experienced photographer, you still want someone with a professional demeanor. You don't really want to find her dancing on the bar, or him smoking cigars on the clock right?

How many weddings have they shot? 
It is not uncommon for someone to be a professional photographer with 15 years of expiration, but only been doing weddings for a year (or less). What kind of photography do they specialize in? Remember a great commercial or landscape photographer (even the best portrait photographer) does not always translate to a great wedding photographer!

Have they been the lead photographer in all the weddings?
Did they ever do any assistant work (remember you learn valuable lessons watching other photographers)

What do they WEAR to your wedding? It sounds silly but are they showing up in sunday best, or jeans and a T-shirt?

What will they be doing at off times? Say, during your sit down dinner? Do they eat? Do you need to plan for them?

Do they shoot with an assistant? Is it a second person with a camera, what are their qualifications, or is it just a photo assistant?

What other things do they offer, or suggest? Wedding photographers see it all, so they have great this works, this doesn't work ideas and tips in most cases. Also, what additional things do they have to offer... I always had my "emergency bag" with everything from extra make up to basic medical supplies and medicines... I even had a sewing kit and spare pins for the boutonnieres. My assistant was a second shooter, but they were there to handle the relatives and run interference just as much as shooting. This allowed me to focus on the bride and her needs, while giving the family a "go to" person as well. Finding out what YOUR photographer offers and how they handle interruptions, and the flow of the day will give you lots of insights to weather or not they are a good fit for you!

Disucss Wedding Photography Equipment:

Many photographers can provide you with an equipment list. If you want to get into the technical, you can ask them for details. Mainly I suggest you look for someone shooting Professional grade equipment. Not all DSLR's are created equal right (you remember from our previous discussions about resolution and pixels right?)

The easiest way to gauge this is price, simply look up the model on the manufacturers website - typically you find entry level camera bodies for $800-1000 and under, Pro-sumer Camera bodies (which are great for back up camera's, or found in mid-priced wedding photographer's bags) run anywhere from $1000-$2000 (yes, just for the body no lens) and anything really above the $2000 mark is almost always a "pro" grade camera. Which if you are paying a primium for wedding photography I would expect to be in your photographers bag.

Typically I would stay clear of anyone with the entry level camera. It is first a sign of professionalism and commitment, you want someone invested in providing outstanding memories. Second, it screams "hobby" or "needing money" to me... "I had this camera in my closet and thought... there is a lot of easy money in shooting a wedding." seriously... if you hear this... run.

Second, look for back up equipment, ask how many extra sets of batteries, lights, bodies flashes... etc. People never think to ask.. what happens if something fails... what plans do they have in place if they drop the camera the week before and it breaks...

What kind of MEMORY cards do they use... are they PROFESSIONAL grade or Costco special? Look for Lexar Pro, San Disk Extreem Pro to be the common answer. There are a few other brands but these are kinda the Nikon / Cannon of cards... they are the ones everyone talks about.

Discuss in depth: What if?

Just like we talk about what if your camera fails... what if your photographer gets sick? Cold / flu? Breaks a leg? What is the back up plan? What are they liable for? It is VERY IMPORTANT to find out what is in THE CONTRACT regarding all of this!!

What if the second shooter doesn't show, or gets sick?
What if the memory card fails?
How does the photographer handle the memory cards / and shooting flow? I never shot a whole wedding on one card... even with an assistant shooting with me (we always changed cards multiple times) so that if one card failed, you had other images of your day to fall back on.
Have they ever lost a card?
Have they ever had a card fail or become corrupt? What did they do? What would they do? (the good answer here is, there are places you can send the card to do an "image recovery" most times they can recover the images (or most of them).

By the way, if they have never had a corrupted file, card or damaged card, or sudden camera issues they are either lying, or have not been in the business very long... this sort of thing DOES happen. It's most common in very dry areas (due to static shock) very High altitudes (such as mountain tops) or very humid / sandy areas... cameras hate salt, water, and sand!

If your photographer doesn't show up, what happens? 
What if you have to postpone or cancel the wedding? While I hope this is never the case.. what if? If the worst happens, does the photographer refund deposits? Do they require an additional fee for canceling...

What money is refundable and under what circumstances?

What is the photographers "limit of liability" This is in every good contract because it really protects the photographer. If your contract doesn't have this your photographer might not be as professional as they seem! I will go over this in more detail when we cover the contract (next post!) but basically it says what the photographer is required to do, or compensate you with should something bad happen from fault of his, the camera, the lab... whatever.

After you have had these conversations with your top picks, hopefully you will have a good feel for who your photographer should be. You really want to make sure not only that price and style fit you, but  personality as well! They are SUCH a part of your day and will be with you every moment of it... seriously! Your photographer either becomes your shadow,  or is out front and in your face almost the whole time! You better LOVE them, and their personality!

Before you decide... 
1. Ask yourself if you are 100% comfortable with your choice.
2. Do you need / want to see them in action - either reviewing them at a different wedding or doing a pre-wedding shoot with them yourself.
3. Are they calm under pressure?
4. Check and review the contract details.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday I'm in Love

All this month I will be sharing a few things I LOVE on Fridays... enjoy!

I can't imagine wearing them... but I so LOVE them

Awesome T's that only my geek / photo friends get.

ADORABLE hair ties by Violets Buds

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines This and That

So its V-day!

This... is not a ewwy gooey day for me. Maybe because I am just past that part in my life...
That... I do try to make it extra sweet for my daughter!

This... is why I do special heart pancakes and strawberries for breakfast for her usually... today we are hitting up the Vday breakfast at school!

Made by Streeter & Co
That is what we got for her Teachers gifts... If you don't know the lip butters from Streeter are awesome! They don't melt in the heat of Texas, and she will do custom labels on them like these... plus supporting a woman in business ... whats not to love about that! I have heard she is switching to the tubes... which I might love even more! Easier to get on an all that! Yea!

This is what I wanted to make.... so cute!

That is what I made... yep a big ol'pile of nothing... gotta get my butt in gear! I did however make a slew of new digital creations this week... since I was designing some fliers for a client....

This: My new Blog button as soon as I can get it updated

That: (well Those...) are two of the new semi-custom designs you can find at my shop  where I can change colors, and add text... even change small design elements like the polka dot for a stripe... or something like that to customize the design for your business, or event needs! I would really dig the bottom one for business cards... wouldn't that rock!  I have been on a modern funk binge lately in the designs so I had a lot of fun! Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Photographer Search pt.2

Now you know where to look... but other then price and style what should you be looking FOR in a photographer... Here is my list of things to look for or ask before meeting with the top candidates.

Most of these questions can be answered by viewing someones website. If you don't see the answer, or it's not clear, or up to your standards either move on to the next, or if it's not a deal breaker for you then ask for clarification or explanation on the phone prior to meeting. If your mind is at ease, and you like the style and price THEN put them on the short list of photographers to meet with! Remember, you want that list to be around 3. 

1. Stability. 
  •  Look how long they have been doing weddings?
  • How long they have been in business?
  • Do they work Full Time as a photographer? 
  • Do they have a studio location?
2. Price and Service.
  • Are they in your budget?
  • Does the portfolio fit your style? Can you imagine those images hanging on your walls?
  •  What is included in the package?
This is where I am going to put in my 2 cents... many people will want the photographer to hand over a disk of images, maybe even unedited images because they have Photoshop experience. Don't fall into the trap of discounting a photographer because they wont offer you that. First, understand digital files (unwatermarked) are basically like negatives as far as copyright laws stand. A photographer makes money based on sales, its retail as much as it is a service industry. So first, if they hand you a disk they know they wont see you again. But more importantly, photographers have a certain pride in their work as artists... handing over a disk, especially an unedited disk would be akin to a painter drawing a paint by numbers - without giving you the number code and dumping paints in your lap. It's not a finished product, and they wont give you a price break for saving them the work.

Is this true of everyone, no. I in fact sell disks of my images. However, even the "unedited" images have been touched in some way. I don't give RAW images, ever. Every image of mine is "processed" through Photoshop, in what I call my "editing" process. That doesn't mean that I am whitening teeth, or fixing out of place hairs... it means I am choosing the "best of images" tossing the accidentals, and ones I knew were bad as soon as I took them... and doing what I do to provide you with the best images I can. I offer all my clients the right to purchase a disk with a photo release so you can print your own images, or use in shops and online if it is product or commercial images. I choose to do this not because I don't want to see you again, but in truth I don't like shipping prints nor do I have the time to hand deliver them anymore. Quiet frankly I find constantly pulling out images 3 months, or a year later to print 1 or 2 images a huge pain and super time consuming... so for me, it simply makes sense to offer a disk. In addition, I offer clients what most would classify as "editing" as a retouching service. This allows me to fix the teeth, hair, and do creative edits if you want me to spend extra time on that... at your request.  I can charge you per image, or for everything, but I charge extra for that work.

Because every photographer is different in this way, it is VERY important to clarify what they mean, and include when they say "editing". Just as it is when they say they give you a "disk" of images... does that mean you get a release to print and share also, are they watermarked... etc. I will cover more of this in the contract details.. dont miss that!

3. Registered business
  • Are they registered as a business with the state? You can ask to see a business license, ask for the number, or go to your states official small business website and typically search there for the name. 
  • Are they registered with PPA, WPPA, or other photography groups? This just goes towards how serious they are... are they respected by peers, well known in the community? Don't discount someone because they are not members, I know many great photographers who are not. But you may ask them why they are not.
  • Do they have insurance? Not just on their gear, but what if they damage something at the location? When I was doing time as an assistant the photographer I was with took a large backdrop up an escalator for a commercial gig... and it punched a hole in the ceiling. oops. 
4. Equipment / Assistance

  • What kind of  equipment do they own? ( I suggest looking for professional grade slr equipment multiple flashes, lenses... this would be someone serious about guaranteeing quality for your day)
  • Do they have back up gear, what is that?
  • Do they have an assistant, or a second shooter? ( the difference being an assistant, helps.. carries things, holds reflectors etc. A second shooter does additional photography when they are not helping the photographer and doubles your chances or gives two perspectives of events like the bouquet toss... one photographer could capture your face - the other the bridesmaids)
  • Is the second shooter always the same? Many photographers don't have an official "go to second" but I think if you are going to have them shoot - you should be able to see THEIR work as well as the main photographer! (interview both if possible!)
5.  Turn around time.
  • When do you get to see your proofs? 
  • Are they printed or digital proofs
  • If digital, do you have a private gallery online that you can share with friends and family?
  • Are they posted to Facebook or a blog for public viewing? (personally I am not a fan of that... for privacy reasons)
  • How long before you see the finished product?

This should give you solid information to make a short list of photographers. Keep in mind, while some of it should be very openly displayed on the website, if it's not.... ask! Don't call a studio or office and expect to be able to ask them all of this just on a random call, however. Photographers don't make money sitting around answering phones! Be respectful of their time, tell them your a bride or groom looking for additional information and you would like to ask them a slew of questions prior to possibly meeting, ask if they will schedule a phone meeting with you, or if they have 15-20 minutes to answer your questions now.  That respect will go a long way! Also, they may have an assistant or office manager answering phones... don't feel like you have to talk to the photographer only... its a good chance to get an inside look at the dynamics of the team. If they have time and the answers you need you might get more information from them!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Starting the Photographer Search

It really doesn't matter if your searching for a family photographer, commercial, or even wedding photographer there is a vast number to choose from and many different places to find them!

The Referral: First, look for a friend who has had a similar need, in our case someone who has gotten married in the past year or so. Ask, if they were happy with the service, quality, and if they could have changed anything what would that be? Look at their images.. they could be LOVELY but just not your "style". If you find a good referral but they are out of budget, or not really the style that your looking for, ask for a referral from THEM and let them know why. Photographers tend to know other photographers in different price ranges, styles, as well as others similar to them in case they are booked the day you need!

Also, ask other wedding vendors that you have already chosen... ask at the bridal salon, DJ, Cake maker... in many cases they will know or have cards on-hand even if they don't have first hand experience of the service.

Check the online ads: There are TONS of websites that list wedding services. Most the photographer has to pay to be a part of... but show sample portfolios and sometimes offer client reviews like SnapKnot , The Knot, Wedding Photography Select and One Wed.

I personally like The Wedding Wire you can not only review clients ratings and comments, but you can talk to other brides online in the forums! Super awesome for ideas and getting more information!

A great place to check also is PPA (Professional Photographers of America)  which lists a data base of its members. PPA offers education, certifications and hosts trade-shows for photographers. While not all awesome photographers are members, its a great place to look for a serious professional! Another great option is WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photographers International) being more specific you wont have commercial or landscape photographers clouding up the listings. Plus its a great start if your planning a destination wedding!

If your style lends towards photo-journalistic there is a site for that too! The Wedding Photojournalisic Association (WPJA) Links you directly to their members in your area. Founded in 2002 it is a "newb" in the world of Photo Associations, but they have some amazing inspirational images and solid reviews of their members! 

The Budget Finds: Many "good deals" can be found for someone starting out and working to build a portfolio... keep in mind you still want someone who will be professional with your guests, you wont find them at the bar, and trustworthy! You WANT to be able to find them after and get the images! You also want there to be quality images! Rather then trusting your images to little Bobby who has a camera and took photography in high school, check the local Art Institute, or Collage in your area with a Photography program. Go to the TEACHER and ask who they would recommend! Also, checking with local studio photographers who have / or have had interns, or might be going into that direction themselves is a really good bet! Please be careful tho, not every landscape photographer or portrait photographer can do an equally good job for you at your wedding!

Now... many people will suggest places like Craigslist - where you can place an ad or review ads... like classifieds. Since this is free for both... your basically opening yourself up to any number of scary situations, not just "have point and shoot and want to do weddings" but scammers, and other crazy people alike. There are too many other good places to search for me to ever recommend this... but if you do... make sure they have a website, client referrals and clients you can call to talk to, and ALWAYS meet in a public place, and NEVER meet anyone alone. (ok, mom rant over)

Google does a good job of finding photographers with websites or blogs in most areas, so you can do that as well just to get some names to look into! Before I go on to talk to you about the meeting, we are going to talk a little about research and questions to ask before you set a meeting. This will help you select your "top candidates" as well as not waste multiple photographers (and your) time by meeting with more then three.

I hope you keep coming back to check in as we continue our month of LOVE!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Dilemma

I find myself as a teacher of photography with a slight dilemma with this months topic... I am all about teaching you how to get better results with your camera. However, there are occasions when I really want you to SPEND some money and use your resources! Wedding photography is simply one of those occasions when I simply don't want to say "Oh yea. You can learn to do that." Sure, you can... but do you want it to be at your friend, or relatives expense? Don't they deserve the best?

There is a huge quality difference in what a professional can do, and what an armature will capture. Let's not forget the quality of the camera and all the equipment that the professional uses... because I hope by now you have learned IT DOES matter! The simple fact remains that you gain not only camera knowlage, but a comfort and expertise when you shoot weddings professionally.

To most people, a "professional" is simply someone who has been paid, or compensated for a service. Yikes! I've been paid for a lot of things... I don't consider myself a professional for most of them! (hey... that is not what I was talking about!) I found this listing on a website... and I agree in the theory, perhaps not the numbers - but the theory...

  • 1-5 Weddings – Inexperienced
  • 6-10 Weddings – Amateur (Qualified as an assistant photographer)
  • 10-20 Weddings – Knowledgeable
  • 21-30 Weddings – Experienced
  • 31+ Weddings – Professional (Qualified as an associate photographer)
Experience DOES matter!

Experience separates us, as much as it defines us. You can have the most professional equipment, and a reasonable understanding of photography, or even be a very experienced landscape photographer.. but it simply doesn't mean you have the "right stuff" to handle a wedding. At the same time, I will be the first to tell you - I really don't enjoy, or capture landscapes well. It's just a different animal, so to speak.

I simply can not bring myself to think that I am a good enough writer or teacher to "virtually" give you the experience you will need in this venue, not that I am not awesome... I am. However, I don't think anyone can accomplish this task. It isn't something you learn by reading or studying.. you learn by doing. If you want to do wedding photography, look up some photographers in your area and ask to do an internship with them, once you have done a few they may bring you on for an additional shooter, or assistant.. this is how you gain experience and knowlage. Work with a mentor.

(If a friend asks you to help her out by doing the photography, make it  your gift! Hire one! Not in the budget? See if you can work for a discount or trade for a wedding photographer to do it for her! Even if your not qualified to do work for the photographer, if you offer other services many will work in trade! I LOVE trade! Get together with other friends and put together a trade bundle! I had a group do this once and it was AWESOME !! )

If your a bride looking for a photographer - my advice is go all out. Pay for quality images. Cut costs on  DIY flowers, make-up... even cake... but spend money on a photographer.

I decided a long time ago, even before shooting weddings that at the end of your wedding day.. your left with 2 things. Memories and Photographs (ok, perhaps three if you did video). Let's face it, 10 years from now your not going to bust out that playlist all the time, your not going to eat the cake that I hope isn't still in your fridge... you wont be tucking yourself into your wedding gown for a night on the town... but if you have a fantastic wedding print hanging above your mantle that captures the love, excitement, hopes and dreams of the future... wont you smile when you see it?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday and I'm in Love

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love
-The Cure

Since this month is all about love... I thought I would share a few things that I love! Enjoy!

Babies, crying, sleeping, smiling.... it doesn't really matter!

Crazy Funky designs and fabrics

Lip Butter from Streeter & CO

Lilacs, lavender and all things French

Thursday, February 7, 2013

This n That

I was recently introduced to This and That Thursday its a fun link-up party that you will find on my list of hops now..

Katie Did What

Now, on to "This and That"
©Verte Photography / Custom backdrop made by Verte Photography
This is my coffee mug today, I love it! Go Green!

That: is how I get to enjoy my coffee this morning... I swear it was the best $5 I have ever spent (thanks to a $5 off discount at Walgreen's) It allows my child no matter how cranky to get her own milk... and by default cereal in the mornings so I don't have to get up every 5 mins.

This: I found in the store canned Barbeque Boiled Peanuts. I love Boiled Peanuts.

That: Are you kidding... BARBEQUE... CANNED.... I'm just going to say ewwwww!!!!