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Kirsten & Cameron- Engagement Session in Lexington, KY

Kirsten and I met at The Big Fake Wedding back in July. I am so happy she filled out her information at the event, because we started communicating soon after. Her fiancé, Cameron, would be home on leave for a short time and we scheduled their engagement session accordingly. If you read my last post, you will know that I have been sick for the past week. I emailed Kirsten and apologized in advance for my cough. Despite the cough, we captured some wonderful photos that I love. I hope you love them, too!

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I am always honored to photograph military families. The dress that Kirsten wore for the next few photos is actually her mother’s. She found it not long before the photo session. It has belonged to her mother since she was newly married. I thought it was a cute dress before, but then I fell in love with it. Everything has more meaning when you tell its story.

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Congratulations, Kirsten & Cameron! I had an amazing time (cough and all!) photographing your engagement. Thank you for letting me part of your journey! Tell me your favorite photos in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

-Kristen D.

Fitness Friday #3- Moving, Mold, and Minimalism

Okay, this past week has been a little hectic, which is why I am so behind on my posts. On Saturday, I photographed an extremely fun wedding! Sunday we had to spend our time packing and moving. Monday we went to our storage unit, only to find many of our things covered in mold thanks to a leak in the roof. Our couch and chair are ruined. 

We haven’t had the chance to go through everything yet. We took what we really needed out of storage, and left the rest to deal with later. Tuesday, I got to celebrate Friend’s birthday! I also came down with a fever. So, I have been sick most of the week. I am happy to say that I am down to 215.8 pounds! It’s mainly because I have had no appetite for the past few days, though. Everything tastes bland. While I am still fighting a cough, I am starting to feel much better.

So, something that this mold issue may allow us to do more easily is become minimalists. I probably won’t go extreme, but I do like the thought of having less and being content. Less to clean, less to care for, less money spent on material things. I have been wanting to start for a while but have always found it hard to let go of things.

So, that has been my week, and am down another 4+ pounds. My goal weight for next Friday is 210. Here are my weekly goals:

  1. Go to the dog park every day.
  2. No fast food.
  3. Find a free activity to do that gets me active.

    My favorite meal from this past week was Chicken Soba, which I had for Friend’s birthday dinner! Delish! My failures this week I am blaming on the flu.

    So, here is to another week, and hopefully it will be filled with better health and new adventures! Don’t forget to check out Deanna’s journey!

    -Kristen D.

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    Fitness Friday #2

    Hello! Flowers? Why that means!!!

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    Yes! Yes, it does! I have lost my first five pounds. *Happy Dance* Here is the break down of the past week:

    • I am down to 220.4 pounds! My actual starting weight was 226.4, but rounded down to 225 in my first post because I like even increments… yeah, I’m odd. (Hehe, see what I did there?)
    • My favorite meal was comprised of steak. Okay, two meals. Tuesday evening, a friend provided dinner (thanks, Marie!) and it was a delicious steak and half of a baked potato. The other was a Panera steak and arugula sandwich with a fruit cup. I could eat one of those at least three times a week.
    • My failures this week were not exercising. In my defense I spent the Monday through Wednesday traveling, setting up/breaking down a photo shoot. That was a lot of energy. I did have fried food, but only twice. Both times they were french fries with a grilled chicken sandwich. I’ve done pretty well with drinking water, but needed some variety. I had a diet coke, a sweet tea, and an açaí berry unsweet green tea.
    • My major accomplishment was actually keeping track of my calories. I would eat when hungry rather than out of boredom. I honestly didn’t think this would be something I would keep up with, but am very happy with the results.

    My goals for this week are:

    1. Actually do P90X.
    2. Make a list of healthy foods I love and stock the ingredients.
    3. No sweets!

    Normally if I crave sweets I would sit down with the WHOLE box of cookies and eat them with a big glass of milk. Yesterday, I got three cookies and 8 oz. of milk, and it was enough. I also only ate half of my sushi last night for dinner. This portion control is really working for me.

    Don’t forget to check out Deanna’s blog to see her fitness progress! Tune in next week for another Fitness Friday! Thanks for reading!

    -Kristen D.

     

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    Worksop Wednesday: Golden Hour

    Okay, photographers. Let’s discuss light. Better yet, let’s discuss how you can improve your photos just by choosing a different time of day. We are talkin’ Golden Hour.

    Golden Hour is an amazing hour prior to sunset and a little after when the light is AMAZING. If you have been photographing families, couples, or just people in general during midday, you may be familiar with raccoon shadows (shadow around the eyes). The reason why this happens in midday is because the sun is directly overhead of your subject. The brow ridge will cause a shadow over the eyes.

    When the sun is setting, it is horizontal to your subject, lighting the face evenly and with a marvelous glow. So, if you can choose the time for your photo sessions outdoors, stick to golden hour. I usually start about an hour and half prior to sunset for golden hour sessions. Here are three different looks throughout golden hour.

    A full hour before sunset, the sun casts a very warm light, and shadows are still a bit harsh. Tip: Always be mindful of shadows. Shadows will be your guideline for many of your portraits.

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    About a half hour before sunset, the shadows are softer and are slightly cooler in tone.

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    Right after sunset (like within five minutes), the light is very even, wraps around your subject beautifully, and just looks amazing. This is my FAVE time to shoot. I wish it lasted longer than a few minutes each day.

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    Sun flare is fun to play with during this time of day. Get out and experiment with it. You can create a variety of looks based on which lens you use and where you let the light leek into your camera.

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    Of course you can’t beat a sunset…

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    Post your midday photos (we’ve all taken them) and your golden hours photos in the comments! I would love to see them! Thanks for reading!

    -Kristen D.

    Fitness Friday #1

    I am so excited to announce that I will be teaming up with my awesome friend, Deanna, to become healthier. Every week on Friday we will both be posting updates on our fitness progress. Here is what to expect each week: Overall progress with weight loss. My favorite meal. Weekly goals. My biggest accomplishment. My failures. (Hopefully they are few and far between.) Here … Read More Fitness Friday #1

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    What Does It Take to Be a Photographer?

    Hello, all photography enthusiasts! I do hope you are having a wonderful day! Today I want to help you follow your dreams. What is it going to take to become a photographer? Here are a few things:

    • Knowledge
    • Initiative
    • Drive
    • Creativity

    Over the next few weeks, I will be addressing what it will take to become a photographer. Not the business side… yet. Simply what it takes to create AMAZING photos. Notice how I listed Knowledge first. Knowledge is powerful. You need to know many things to be a photographer. Like…

    1. How to work the camera.
    2. The difference between lenses.
    3. How to use light and shadow.
    4. How to compose a photograph.
    5. How to pose subjects.

    And so much more. So, I declare hump day as Workshop Wednesday! Next week we will be discussing light and shadow! This subject will go over a few posts, so don’t forget to check back every Wednesday!

    -Kristen D.

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    Emily- Bridal Photography in Lexington, KY

    I met Emily at Rachel’s wedding. She had actually found me online while searching for a photographer. She didn’t realize who I was at the wedding, but kept thinking, “Why does she look familiar?” The next day I posted Rachel and Christian’s sneak peek and she realized! I am so happy she chose me to photograph her wedding. Here is her Bridal Session sneak peek!

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    So gorgeous, lovely, and classic. Thank you, Emily, for letting me be a part of your wedding!

    -Kristen D.

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    The Great Cake Debate!

    This past Thursday was my birthday! My amazing Sister-in-Law (aka Friend) and Brother-in-Law (aka Brother) took me out on Wednesday to celebrate! On Thursday, my son was sick, so I didn’t want to get him out of the house. He looked at me that morning and said, “Happy birthday, mom!” Then, “Cake?” Haha! Of course he has cake on the brain. I had a nice evening in, eating Mexican take-out and watching a rented movie. The next day, my Sister took me to get my nails done. I have never had color on my nails before. EVER! I chose pink, which may surprise some people. My Husband also came home from training that day. So, my birthday celebrations went for three days. I had a good birthday.

    Here is something you may not know about me… I prefer cheesecake for my birthday. I do. I REALLY do. I love cheesecake. This happened about two years ago. I still love cake, but cheesecake is my go to birthday dessert now. Is that weird? I had a Birthday Cake balloon. Does that count?

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    I want to thank everyone who wished me a happy b-day! Let me know your favorite b-day dessert! Do you have cake or another delicious treat? Tell me in the comments!

    -Kristen D.

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    Pricing Your Services

    Money

    As promised, I am going to help you determine what you should be charging. Now before we get into it, there is no standard formula. In the end you need to do what you deem best. Entrepreneurs and freelancers all do business differently, and their pricing formulas reflect this. So, let’s go…

    Okay, I am coming at this from a photographer’s point of view. Please feel free to adjust where necessary!

    Value your time.

     

    Start with a salary that you know you will need to sustain your cost of living and determine the value of your time. For example:

    You need $3000 per month to live. This includes shelter, clothing, utilities, phone, car payments, insurance, fuel, food, bills, debt, etc. All of this adds up to $3000 per month. So that is $36000 per year after taxes. So you need to gross around $47000 per year. Wait! Don’t forget to….

    Value the cost of business.

    This is another constant. Write down everything that costs money to run your business. This includes anything and everything you need to buy to do business. Cameras, lenses, speed lights, light stands, computer, software, fuel, etc.

    Now the investments (such as cameras, computer, and lights) can be divided up by the number of years you will be using them. I know I’ll be replacing my computer every four years. $1200 divided by 4 equals $300. Do this for all your investments.

    Determine your yearly cost of doing business. Don’t forget to include electricity, fuel, rent, professional memberships, yearly services, etc. Let’s say you come to a value of $15000 before tax per year. So, you would need to make about $20,000. Now let’s…

    Value your talent and experience.

    If you have talent, display it proudly and don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth as an artist. Experience is gold. The more experience you have, the more trusting your client will be. I put talent and experience together because of how I started in the Wedding Photography business. I had talent, but hardly any experience. So they need to be weighed together. So how do you value these aspects?

    Think about this as a “raise”. You know you need a raise based on your experience and talent. So you march into your boss’s office and give a figure you think you deserve! The good news is, you are your boss. How much extra do you deserve based on your talent and experience? Let’s say you deserve about $5000 extra per year.

    Okay, so your time is worth $47,000, cost of business is $20,000, and you deserve an extra $5,000. That amounts to $72,000 per year. So, you may average 20 clients per year. That would be an average of $3,600 per client. If you average 40 clients per year, that is $1,800 per client. Both are doable, but will be different clientele. Which is where marketing comes in handy!!!

    I do hope this post has been helpful! Let me know your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!

    -Kristen D.

    10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business

    Starting a business is scary. Self-doubt, an unsure future, and lack of experience in managing a business are huge factors that almost kept me from following my dream. If you want to start your own business, hopefully these things will help you get off on the right foot…

    1. You have worth. When I first started photography, I was practically giving my sessions away. A guilty feeling would come over me any time I thought about asking for money. Then I watched Sue Bryce (an amazing photographer and business woman that I hope to meet one day). She stated, “In what other business do you feel guilty asking for money?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t go to the counter in a grocery store and haggle with the cashier. Nor would I do this if I hired a roofer, carpet cleaner, portrait artist, or personal trainer. Why in the world should I feel guilty about setting a price that will allow me to not worry about bills this month? I was losing money because of time, travel, and product cost. So, I set my standard. You can, too. Don’t be afraid. You have worth.
    2. Define your ideal client. This is marketing 101. If you don’t know your ideal client, then you really have no direction and are wandering aimlessly. I was challenged by a Jasmine Star (another photographer and business woman I would love to meet one day) while watching one of her classes to define my ideal client. Saying, “A bride is my ideal client,” isn’t good enough. I had to think about her habits, likes, what she might watch on tv, where she would shop, her age, her job, etc. Really define who your ideal client is, then you will be better equipped to market to them.
    3. Your brand is an experience. You are not just selling a service. If you are a chef, you are not just selling your food. You are creating culinary art that is beautiful and delicious. When you sell a service or product, you are selling your brand. Define your brand, what it stands for, why it’s different, and what you can do for your ideal client. Create an experience for your client that will have them talking. It doesn’t have to be huge. It could be a small gift you give as a thank you. Define your brand then create an experience that compliments it.
    4. Under promise and over deliver. When you tell your client you will have a project finished in three weeks, but it turns into four, will your client be fully satisfied? You may have done a beautiful job, but you came up short on your promise. Now, if you promised your client the project would be done in six weeks, and you finished in four weeks, you will surprise your client with being done earlier than you stated. Which will get you better reviews.
    5. Network! The more you give, the more you get back. One way I love to network is by creating styled shoots. A styled shoot needs a hair stylist, makeup artist, attire, models, a baker, florists, venue, rentals, and more. This is a great opportunity for me because it lets my creativity shine and provides photographs for vendors. Because of this networking technique my work is on a billboard, been published on a blog, and vendors pass out my business cards. So go out and create opportunities through networking. Join Facebook groups related to your business, have a vendor luncheon one day, work with other professionals and help build each other’s businesses.
    6. Balance. Life is hard to balance when you are starting a business. I spend a lot of time on the computer answering emails, researching, writing, booking, updating, networking, and editing. I travel all around Kentucky every week. I am gone all day when photographing a wedding. Trying to balance a home life and my photography business gets tough. What I am beginning to do is every week I write down what I would like to accomplish. This includes accomplishments in my home life and business. This helps me stay on track and know that I can be successful in both.
    7. Workflow, workflow, workflow. Okay, I’ll say it again. WORKFLOW! When I first started, I was all over the place when it came to getting things done. I admit, this is something that is still developing. However, I am in a much better place than I was years ago. Make your life easier and write down everything that has to be done for your clients. Then put it on a timeline. Here is what typically happens once a client decides to book with me:
      1. I send a contract for them to e-sign.
      2. Once signed, I send an invoice for the retainer fee.
      3. Once paid, I hold their date on my calendar.
      4. Four weeks prior: Email a questionnaire.
      5. Two weeks prior: Email and confirm timeline and send last invoice.
      6. Photograph wedding.
      7. Post sneak peek on blog that evening.
      8. Edit photos.
      9. Upload to online gallery.
      10. Email client.
    8. Don’t spend money on SEO. No offense to the SEO people. They can do wonders, but (at least for me and my business) it was a waste of money. Did they get my website up in the ranks? Yes, but could I afford to keep them forever… no! So, I ended up having to get a new website that I could afford, which brought me back to square one. If you can afford it, more power to you. However, client referrals and networking will generate more clients in the beginning of your business than SEO will.
    9. Back. Up. Everything. Especially for us photographers. The last thing you want is to have that sinking feeling in your gut when your hard drive fails. I backup my files on two hard drives and have a working file on a thumb drive. I also don’t clear my SD cards until after I have delivered the final photos to my client. That makes four separate places that I can retrieve my files. Don’t take the chance; back up your files!
    10. Have a system to determine your pricing. One of the mistakes many newbies make (myself included) is basing your pricing off of other photographers. Or you would price yourself extremely low in comparison thinking, “That will get customers!” Has it worked? It didn’t for me. When I began thinking about the value of time, travel, experience, and cost of production I started to understand my own business a little better. Now I have a price system that reflects all these things. I will write more about how to determine your pricing on Friday’s blog!
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    Wedding Albums

    Here is the post I have been wanting to do for forever! I love my albums and have been wanting to share them with you. So, without further ado…

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    I absolutely LOVE these albums. You can choose between leather and linen, with multiple color options, cover styles, gilding, and more. I always print with thick pages for durability, and it adds a nice weight to your album.

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    Also, all my albums are the lay-flat style. This allows for a seamless center which will easily display a favorite photograph over both pages.

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    You can also choose between a classic grey linen album box or the luxury wood album box.

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    The luxury wood album box also allows for custom engraving.

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    You will also receive care tips for your investment!

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    What is your favorite detail of these amazing albums? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out my wedding album video!

    -Kristen D.

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    Rhea & Keshav- Engagement Photography in Versailles, KY

    Rhea contacted me just last week to schedule an engagement session. Her and her fiancé live in New York, and I am so happy they selected me to photograph their engagement! She had a wonderful vision for their photos, which included horses. We were able to have a wonderful horse named Richard assist us for the day! I was very excited to work with them, and they are the sweetest couple. They have a love that is truly profound. I can see it in his glances towards her. I can hear it in her laugh when she is around him. Their marriage will be strong, and I feel honored to have photographed them during this exciting time in their lives! Congratulations, Rhea and Keshav!

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    Tell me your favorite photos of the happy couple in the comments below!

    -Kristen D.