From One Mom to a Wanna-Be Mom

Recently I was asked a question by a friend.  In relaying the conversation that ensued to my husband the next day he said, “that’s a blog post.”

My friend asked me, “what piece of advice would you give someone who’s thinking about having kids.”

Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun!  The days I am at my worst as a parent are the days I play tyrant and boss to my baby girl. These are the days I’m putting my work before my daughter.  Truth is, so long as I’m putting her first and we’re having fun there’s actually less to correct in the first place.  “Happy wife, happy life?”  No, I think it starts with the kids!  Fill their love banks and the world is a far better place.  Can you offer a quippy idiom in four short words for that?

All for now.  Short and sweet.  You’re welcome 😉

Recommendations From Moms To Moms-To-Be

I run a Question of the Day (QOTD) on my Facebook page.  It occurred to me one week that not only would I probably like to know various motherhood tips and tricks but that perhaps other not yet moms or soon-to-be moms or new moms would like to know them too.  As a result my questions for two weeks revolved around having kids.  One such question was the one below and I loved the advice!

What is your number one recommendation to soon-to-be moms?

“Take lots of naps! And stick with it through breastfeeding, it’s tough at first but well worth the pain and effort!” – Laura

“Pack your hospital bag at least one month before your due date. Oh and if your partner is going to be there. They should have a bag too at least with snacks. Cause labor takes a while.” – Kelsey

“Allow yourself to heal. It is insane what our body does and continues to do when you have a baby, the whole process so do not feel bad about naps, take MANY baths and take advantage of all the help offered until you are recovered. It is worth it and you will appreciate it forever. No one told me or prepared me for how much I will hurt after having the baby. It felt like I came out of surgery and I had to take care of a baby at the same time, next time will be all the rest I can take, and I am incredibly thankful for my mother in law Sherri Gerecke for all of her help and love!” – Holly


Wedding Planning Advice

Sorry to not be delivering my “a Photo a Day” blog post today as I usually do on Mondays! I am out of town and writing this on my iPad 😉

I got married before I photographed or attended a wedding. Though I had no idea how to plan a wedding, thankfully my mom did because otherwise I would have a lot of items on my “I wish I did this at my wedding” list.

Now, because I do love the value in unique wedding planning, I don’t want to advise extraneously but there are a few items that really are a MUST and I will tell you why.

Give your guests a meal. It has become mildly common to only serve appetizers, desserts, or finger foods at a wedding reception. In their defense, this could work. Say, instead of providing a meal the couple gave suggestions for where everyone could grab some dinner and then they held their nontraditional, but very entertaining reception outdoors and still provided dessert and drinks. The trouble is that not providing a meal feels like a slap in the face. All of your family and friends have not only come from far and wide to celebrate your wedding day but they have bought you an expensive or thoughtful gift as well. To not say “thank you” by at least providing them food during such a long day just isn’t remotely hospitable. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t invite people over to your house all day and not feed them ever would you?

Small gap between ceremony and reception. Again, this is a hospitality recommendation. It never sits well with your guests when their belly’s are left rumbling for hours on end. I also understand that it it your day, but be considerate. Before I became a photographer I assumed that the wedding photographer’s were responsible for keeping the bride and groom from the reception so long. Now I’m not so sure because whenever my bridal party is late it certainly wasn’t on my watch. If a bride and groom asks me how to schedule their day I typically ask for 1.5 hours between the ceremony and reception, 30 minutes for family photos and 1 hour for bridal party and couple pictures – I could do less time if it was easier to rally family members and keep everyone on track. With the providence of a cocktail hour this time goes quickly with the guests. And your photographer should be skilled, timely, and reliable enough to close the gap between ceremony and reception.

Hire a phenomenal DJ. Some couples are very skilled at creating a playlist for their reception. However, a DJ doesn’t just control the music. In fact, I would argue that their most important role of the evening is controlling the flow of events. The weddings that don’t have a DJ, or a skilled DJ, end up suffering in awkward moments and confused silences. I’ve photographed well over 50 weddings and I can’t recall a reception that ran smoothly without an incredible DJ. Your DJ is the most important reception detail, so you should see a fun spirit and sense of organization and responsibility in the DJ you hire.

Don’t pick your wedding budget before you do your vendor research. You only get married once. The most common phrase I hear from clients is “we are on a budget.” Well of course you are. The trouble is, most couples clearly pick their budget before they have looked at the numbers and as a result they hire vendors for cheap and their wedding takes hits because of it. You can get crafty and wiggle around pricey items in a lot of areas but with photography and a DJ I would HIGHLY recommend picking those budgets after significant research. This may sound biased but the most common wedding woe I hear about a bad photography experience. Your photographer is in charge of these most important life memories, make sure you adore and trust them. And, as stated above, your DJ is responsible for the life of your party but they also contribute to the quality of those memories and to the quality of photographing those memories. Your cake, flowers, decorations, and venues are important but your loved ones and moments are more important. I actually had friends buy and put together my wedding flowers, my grandma made our cake, our decorations consisted of things like 5 cent goldfish and goldfish crackers, and we had our ceremony in my parent’s backyard. For just a few ideas 🙂

Don’t let your best man get drunk before his speech. Enough said.

Do you have any wedding planning advice to share?

6 Tips to People Photographers

Advice to Photographers
Some quick words on photography business.

  1. Ask Lots of Questions
    The best sources to start gathering info for your photography career are other photographers. Some photographers may let you down, they may even be rude, but most photographers will kindly chat.
  2. Get Shot
    In order to best understand your clients you need to get in front of the camera at least once a year. And not just any camera, you need to hire a fellow professional. Why is this important? If you don’t put yourself in your client’s shoes you might not realize that some of your requests are confusing, or that their questions actually aren’t stupid, and that maybe you need to change your direction during a shoot. This is crucial research for your business. Besides, you’ve gotta have some good pictures of yourself anyway right?  My husband and I do an anniversary photo shoot every year and I often have portraits done every now and then as well.
  3. Research
    Not only is getting in front of a camera important but reading some books, blogs, and essays is also of the utmost importance. You need to know how to fairly price yourself for your skill level, how to put together effective and balanced packages, how to invoice, how to build a fail safe contract, how to properly correspond to clients, how to build an effective and beautiful website, how to prepare for taxes… and that just scratches the surface.
  4. Invest in the Good Stuff
    Almost every photographer starts out with a starter DSLR and a kit lens. But when you are thinking of launching a photography business plan to upgrade as quickly as possible. And, until you do, price yourself accordingly. Better equipment gets you a higher price. More importantly though, better equipment delivers better work. But lets be clear, a better camera doesn’t make you a better photographer. The framing, posing, and editing is all up to you but the equipment makes the difference in image quality.
  5. Professional Branding
    Hire a professional. I got my branding wrong the first time and had to do it all over the next year. The second time around I actually hired a pro to help me put the pieces together. Branding is a lot of work, don’t do it twice! So, in order to do it right the first time, hire the professional who knows how to brand and have them help you, even if it’s just with the concept.
  6. Do Work for Free
    This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your photography business. Getting paid for doing what you love stifles creativity. Going from session to session like routine produces stagnant material. You want each of your clients to have fresh, creative material that they will cherish for a lifetime, not the same shot you’ve done a hundred times over. It is so important to fuel your creativity. I just recently started doing this again and the change I’ve seen in myself and my work is insane! However, it’s important to note though that the free sessions to be doing are those that you request the models for, rather than gifting an originally paying client their session. Why? If you ask for the models you have all the artistic freedom. And artist mind needs room to wander and experiment so that artistic freedom unleashes creativity.  One of the other ways I encourage my creativity is by doing “A Photo A Day,” makes me pull my camera out every day 🙂