COVID has completely changed the wedding industry (and others) this year. Just about every wedding I had scheduled for 2020 has been moved to 2021 but many have decided to still celebrate with a small and intimate wedding with their closest friends and immediate family. Since May I have had 4 weddings and I have another one coming up this weekend second shooting with one of my second shooters, Lisa!
While I am at weddings, if I have some time, I LOVE sharing with you all some behind the scenes on my instagram stories. Some of those behind the scenes are selfies of me doing something, or with my second shooter… lots are just showing the details of the day and how amazing everything is. Since we are right now in the middle of a world wide pandemic, the selfies you see are of me wearing my mask. I’ve had so many photographers DM me asking me about my mask- Can you breathe? Is it comfortable? Where did you get it? So, since I’ve had lots of questions about it, I decided the best way to share my thoughts on the mask is to give you a little review of it here.
In March when we were all ordered to stay inside, my husband went on a search to find me a mask that I can wear for weddings. One that will allow me to be safe, comfortable and allow me to breathe. He found The Urban X Mask and we ordered 2 of them to see how we liked them. Well. Since we ordered these right when the stay at home order started at the end of March, we did not have them until the end of June. The shipping took forever! So while I was not going to link their webpage because their customer service was not helpful in the shipping process and the amount of time it took for the masks to arrive, I checked their site today to see that they are closed. I am guessing many people had the same issue with receiving their mask in a timely manner and not getting help from customer service. So, with that said. I do NOT recommend getting it through the site we got it from. This is the only CON we found with it.
I looked up a few different sites to find something similar for you guys which I will link at the end and to give you the PROS about the mask.
The mask is one size fits most. There is a velcro back to it so there is zero pressure on the ears which I really like. That makes it very comfortable. It has a filter on the inside with small clip filters (which you need to make sure you snap on tight or they will pop off) on the outside that you wash separately. While you do sweat with this on, it’s much more breathable than the cloth masks. You can feel new air entering and it does not fog up my view finder in the camera or glasses. I find that with any other mask I use, it fogs up and I can not see anything I am shooting. This mask is not an issue with that. If I need to pull it down, I can for a minute and pull it back up. I also have had times where I took it off when I am not near anyone and I attach it to myself with the Velcro which is good so I know its on me and not on the ground somewhere. There is a nose clip so that keeps the mask in place and its black design is modern and “nice” for professional purposes.
I do think that I sound muffled in the mask when I am directing the wedding party, family where I need to be a little louder for everyone to hear me. ( I think this with all masks, it’s hard to hear if you do not speak loudly and clearly). With that, I will move the mask so I can direct then put it back on. I do this stepping far back so there is a safe distance.
I have not tried this yet, but I plan to… maybe this weekend… but my sister had gotten me a megaphone since I told her I feel like I sound muffled!! Yes, you read that right! A megaphone! It arrived in the mail after the wedding I just had so I am curious to see how that will go soon. I think its hysterical so I am hoping I get some great laughs with it and everyone can hear me! I will link it as well incase you too want some laughs and fun with having a megaphone to talk to people at a wedding!
Now I am sure you all know that when wearing any mask, it gets hot. You sweat, you touch it… So I bring 2 of these masks with me and I also carry disposable masks as well just incase it is so hot and I start to feel really gross wearing the same mask for a 12 hour day. I have a box of 50 and pack a handful in my camera bag for those “just in case moments”.
At the start of this, I was not sure about touching other peoples things for detail photos. I do not need to touch anything other than my camera on the wedding day except for when I style wedding details in the beginning! It was unknown if the virus could be transmitted through touch and excessive hand washing had been suggested. For this, I have disposable gloves. I have not needed to use these. I am very careful with washing hands and using hand sanitizer, but I do have these as well in my camera bag for those moments where I feel unsure.
Something I have not gotten but I was thinking about was a face shield. I have seen a few photographers use these and shoot with their live screen. I prefer not to use the live screen option if I don’t have to, so unless something occurs and I need the shield, I think I am okay with what I am doing so far.
I also have 2 large gallons of water in my car with hand soap and paper towels. This has been a game changer. Each time I have an opportunity to wash my hands and not just with sanitizer, I will stop at my car to wash my hands ( if I am close to it). It’s amazing what soap and water feels like when you are working with your hands all day holding a camera. I also have this in my car not just for weddings, but for when I am out with my kids. We wash our hands this way several times while we are out and it’s been great not needing to go to a bathroom because….germs.
There you have it! These are all the safety things I am using right now that are working for me. If you have any questions or things that are working for you that I did not mention, please let me know! We are all in this together! 🙂 Stay safe and healthy, friend!
URBAN X MASK (from a new site….)
TOP 10 REUSABLE MASKS
This season has been hard. We miss our couples, families and babies. We miss seeing your smiles. We miss everything there is to miss about preparing. capturing and finishing your sessions. Weddings have been moved several times for many couples and it is breaking our hearts. Please know that we are thinking of you all and we are so excited to see you soon! Until then, keep smiling and stay hopeful.
We: Danielle Lacolst
Facebook: Porter Kat Photography
Can’t: Chelsea Nitzken
Wait: Chelsea Lavallee
To: Cara Parker
Facebook: Cara Parker Photography
Capture: Christine Hazel Murphy
Facebook: Christine Hazel Photography
Your: Jocelyn Porter
Facebook: Jocelyn Marie Photography
Lives: Morgan McCabe
Facebook: Morgan Hope Photography
Again: Kristen Phelps
Facebook: Kristen Phelps Photography
Until: Dawn M. DeWees-Crane
Facebook: Trace Elements Photography by Dawn Crane
Then: Coli Tassielli
Facebook: Coli Michael Photography
Keep: Ashley Lynn
Facebook: Ashley Lynn Photography
Smiling: Alexandra Boncek
Facebook: Ali B Photography
And: Linda Jennings
Stay: Kelly Pomeroy
Facebook: Kelly Pomeroy Photography
Hopeful: Stephanie Berenson
Facebook: Stephanie Berenson Photography
New England: Samantha Grant and Mike
Love: Megan Ho
Your: Nancy Dion
Facebook: Nancy Dion
Local: Kristen Lee
Facebook: Kristen Lee Photography
Photographers: Mary Collins
<3: Jess Casey
Just before the ceremony the gravity of what is about to happen begins to sink in and the calm, cool, collected groom was playing golf in the AM and is not starting to feel a little anxious. What happens next? The groom waits in a little room somewhere waiting for the coordinator to tell him when to go. It seems like it’s taking forever. Eventually the coordinator comes in and leans her head inside of the room letting him know, its time. With clammy hands and some deep breaths, the groom enters into the ceremony to find anywhere from 80-250 people, all looking at him…. right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first REACTION. This moment is the furthest thing from a private, intimate moment. Yes, 100% it is SO SO powerful and SO SO wonderful, as I mentioned above this moment was one of the best moments of my whole wedding day. It was so magical!! But I can assure you that PJ was nervous. He spent the whole morning with his best friends and the pressure was OFF. By the time I was walking toward him at the ceremony, he was ready to enjoy our day. The nerves were gone and when the nerves were gone, true emotions were expressed. It was so beautiful. We both cried and cried tears of happiness!)Now, let me summarize what I just wrote… you see, Grooms normally become extremely nervous on their wedding day. The might seem cool and collected, but deep down there is some anxiety. For many grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride because when they see her, all of a sudden it all becomes VERY real! So, when the nerves start to creep up, instead of keeping the groom in a secluded area until it is time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a prive place… no people, no on lookers, no distractions…. and you let his beautiful bride walk up to him. Tap his shoulder or say his name to turn around. He turns around and he finally gets his first look at his stunning bride. Not only would he get to see her, but he would get to embrace her, cry with her, kiss her… and ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress and spins a few times and she says “what do you think?” His nerves start to fade. After all, she is the only one that can make him most comfortable anyway.Since they are not on a time crunch during this time, they can casually move into their romantic portraits. No one is around, the coordinator is not announcing “15 more mins!”, there is no pressure. It’s just the two of them and their photographer…. capturing the excitement and joy of their wedding day. This is their time to be ALONE. Their time to be TOGETHER. When does this happen on the wedding day? Without a first look… believe it or not, it doesn’t happen. After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends. Their wedding party joins them because hey still have plenty of time to spare.. The bride touches up her makeup and hair while the boys act like boys. After several minutes of the wedding party portraits the vibe changes and everyone is having FUN. Why? because there is time to make them FUN! There are no guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there is not a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check. It’s AMAZING!After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony. The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional music to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony. As the groom clasps his hands… they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement. The musics builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead. The groom looks up and here comes the BRIDE!!! His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart…..she’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning. The closer she gets, the bigger his smile.
It just occurred to me that I have not blogged about the topic of having a first look! Can you believe it?! I mean, I know I have confessed my love for “first looks” so many times on the blog when I blog about a wedding and they happened to have a first look. but for me not to have a blog post all about just that… I can’t believe it! So, here it is!! The first look is one of my favorite parts of a wedding day. They are AWESOME! They are so awesome that unfortunately not everyone is aware of how awesome they are. Many brides think the only thing to do is have the “traditional” first look of walking down the aisle that they immediately disregard the first look. Guess what? I was one of those brides. With a big wedding party a first look would have made sense but I did not even think twice about it. I knew when I was walking down the aisle was the first time he would see me. I wanted that reaction. The tears. The happiness.
Isn’t that EVERY girls dream? Who doesn’t wait that reaction? Thankfully, walking down the aisle to see PJ in tears of happiness was a sight I will never forget ( behind the tears pouring down my face). He was in tears and so was everyone that was watching him!! I felt like a million bucks. Walking down the aisle on my wedding day is a moment that I will treasure for a lifetime!!
After experiencing my own wedding and shooting over 80 others…. I have come to this conclusion. Sure, some brides really LOVE “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time is his REACTION. Many couples who are not interested in a first look usually think that by seeing each other beforehand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as walking down the aisle. You see, what I have found is so ironic! (insert Alanis Morissette lyrics here). Everyone knows that planning a wedding is stressful, and that stress does not go away come the wedding day for both the bride and groom. The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, be on time, the groom usually has no idea what side the bout is supposed to go on or how to fold a pocket square and little by little, tension grows.
Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue…my clients are not required to do a First Look… AT ALL. This is totally up to the bride and groom. I used to feel bad for sharing this option and encouraging couples to do it but I’ve gotten over that phase. I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally ok if couples choose not to share a first look! It’s just my preference to do one:) Ok, now lets keep going.
Couples who opt for a First Look experience these benefits:
– You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography and with a first look, you get 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you decorate your first home with! This is a huge investment for you and so obviously your photography is a BIG deal. With a first look, you make the most out of this huge investment and get the most for your money.
– You actually get intimate time on your wedding day with your man. Normally, most people think walking down the aisle is the BIGGEST, most emotional moment of the whole day because that is what the tradition is. But people don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… he can’t even tell you how amazing you look… he can’t touch you or embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 40 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 40 minutes of gazing into each other’s eyes, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
– First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end, you would rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your wedding party portraits… you actually get to enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. The WHOLE first half of your wedding album will be filled with just images from this time together before the ceremony.
– First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. You can cry and laugh and cry some more… and then that will put you in the PERFECT mood for your romantic portraits. Normally portraits are rushed after the family formals and it can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode…. especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other and I always capture some SWEET images during those moments!
– You get rid of the nerves. I’d say, literally 1/2 of my couples who have done a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. However, because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I have testimonials from so many grooms that initially weren’t a fan of the first look.. but afterwards admitted to being SO much more relaxed and ready for the ceremony!
Straight from the Groom:
“ We had been a a few weddings where the couples had a first look. They talked about how amazing that moment was for them, that it was just them and their photographer and they wouldn’t change that moment for the world. Laura mentioned that she wanted to have a first look for our wedding and I thought it was a great idea. We learned more about the timeline and how the first look will fit in with the day and we knew it was the right decision for us. The moment I first saw her on our wedding day is a moment I will never forget! I was so excited to see her I couldn’t help smiling the entire time waiting to turn around. WhenI turned around, she took my breath away. All these months of planning were finally here, and she was so beautiful. We had our moment together, laughing, crying, talking about how we couldn’t believe this was happing right now, and Alex had us let her know when we were ready for her to being our portraits. This moment is truely one of the best moments from our day. I will never forget it.” – Troy Perry
“I don’t regret a first look photo at all! It made a normally exposed moment very private and intimate, and actually took a lot of pressure off the day. Alex was hiding behind bushes and she captured that very first moment I saw Vicky. It was amazing, it was emotional, it was funny ( I turned around and said “ OH HEY!”) which I think eased her nerves but then we had those moments where tears feel and we were able to enjoy those moments first thing without everyone there trying to get our attention. I woudl not change that mement for the world. I definitely recommend it!” – Sean Barag
“When Hannah told me she wanted to do a fist look, I was hesitant. Would it be cheesy or on the other hand, would I be too emotional and not be able to hold it together? The minutes of anticipation before she tapped on my shoulder, signaling for me to turn around, might have been the most memorable part of the day. I remember standing there, eager to see her, and her dress for the first time. It was the right way to kick off the wedding and I can’t imagine doing it all over again without a first look.” – JUSTIN MINER
“I loved doing the first look. I remember your team setting me up to look at the Boston skyline and thinking how surreal the view was, the weather we had, and that the wedding day had actually arrived. Then Gina snuck up behind me and asked me to turn around. Upon turning, I immediately had a big smile and the perfect mix of calm & excitement. She looked strikingly beautiful and I couldn’t wait to marry her and everything else to follow. Finally, doing the first look gave us the opportunity to spend more time with each other, and our guests, immediately following the ceremony. It was a 100% the right decision for us.” – KEVIN FIELD
Beginning my own photography business seemed a whole lot easier in my mind… before I even purchased my own DSLR camera. Can anyone relate? When I first started my business I had a full time job as a social worker and no kids… now, 8 years later I am a full time mom of 2 little boys, a puppy and I am a full time photographer working from home and out on location. If you asked me where I would be in the year 2020, I would never have guessed this! It’s amazing and I am so thankful!
Since starting my business, each time I would book a client I was ecstatic! I was so excited because these people wanted ME! They LOVED MY work! It’s such an honor to be included in people’s most important milestones, provide them tangible memories, AND get paid for it. But there’s a not-so-pretty side to it all, and that’s when the business starts gobbling up the rest of your life. Here’s where work-life balance can suffer.
Maybe it’s a rite of passage to spend late nights marathon editing, answering client emails from your phone while playing with your kids and working during any spare second you can find. But, I’ve been there, (and sometimes I am still there!) it’s the fastest road to burnout. I know, I should listen to what I am saying… but sometimes it is easier said than done. So I am writing this post not only for you my friend, but for me. So I can go back to it and remind myself it is okay to put things aside and just BE with my family.
This has been a roller-coster for the last 8 years and everyday I am still learning something new on how to help the work/life/balancing act but what I have figured out to help tame the busy season ( and not so busy season) I am sharing below. Here are my 10 tips to help bring you toward creating work/life balance that will in the end, feed your soul, bring you more joy and teach you grace on yourself.
1. THINK FAST AND DECIDE.
That does not mean to just impulsively decide on something right away for the sake of deciding. We need to practice with decisions that are not huge. For example, going through the 100000’s photos that were taken and getting them down to the amount promised to your client. Provide your clients with the best of the best and keep going. If you are able to have someone else help in the culling process of your images, awesome! Let them do it! I need to have this happen many times just because I get emotionally attached to some of my images and I need that second eye to tell me it’s okay to toss some. Once this is done you will waste a lot less time looking at the same things and you can move on the the next big thing on your list!
2. WORKFLOW BATCHING.
Here, photographers can do that with editing. Edit one photo just how you like it, then batch that same edit together with multiple images. You can do this in lightroom. I do this for those images I know are relatively the same lighting/location and just do minimal re-touching once I have that done. It is a huge time saver… which is related to that saying “one thing at a time”. If you know me, I am the worst at doing one thing at a time. My multitasking mind never stops, but for this, I work on sticking to one thing, no distractions. The same thing applies to housework. Stick to one task like laundry before doing the next chore. You wash clothes, you put it away the same day. Groceries… keep a list and get whats on the list only ( This is so hard but it can be done! Just ask my husband!)
Task Batching works for replying to emails, editing images, invoicing clients, planning and shooting sessions. When doing batching, it is helping you to be efficient with your time and It allows your mind to be more productive. I have read many articles, blogs and listened to so many podcasts about this. It’s true!
3. LEARN TO SAY NO.
This one is huge, especially for women. I was and just like everything else I have said, still have a hard time with this! We want to make everyone happy and then we end up overcommitted and frustrated. I can’t tell you how many years I struggled with saying yes too much (and then regretting it) until I finally decided to start saying no, and meaning it.
There are certain jobs that are not a fit for my business, and there are services I no longer offer. In Studio/posed Newborn photography is something I do not specialize in. I LOVE it so much, but I am not comfortable with this as it is not something I learned to do when starting my business. If someone inquires for this services, I politely tell them I do not offer this photography and I send them over to my dear friend, Megan Ho Photography. I know that Megan will take wonderful care of the babies and she will capture amazing details from their first few weeks. This same referral process goes for all services I do not offer. I will send a list of people I know, trust and love so that I know the client will be happy with whomever they choose to do the photography they are hoping for. Starting out in the photography business, it may make sense to take on all the jobs that come your way, but my advice is to figure out your niche ASAP. Your skills photographing that niche, referrals, and momentum are all going to soar once you stay focused in on what you love.
If you don’t love doing something or you’re not good at it, don’t do it! When I get so backed up with photographing weddings, outsourcing just culling, or just editing, or even both are a lifesaver! I usually lean toward just having someone take a look at help me cull down what I have already culled and they I do the editing, however if there are weddings back to back to back and I am getting behind on their deadlines, I will send it out for some help. Many people also use virtual assistants office assistants to help them with so much like social media, email lists, calls, emails, etc. I also fully believe in templates and shortcuts. I have my planner system to help keep me on track, but I came across this which is so cute and can help you too- this daily checklist (which is a free printable). I’ve used all kinds of free resources and purchased client magazine templates in the past mostly though Katelyn James Photography but I like the ones at Bird Design Shop too. There are so many time-saving templates out there. I’ll tell you from experience, they’re worth shelling out a little bit for the hours they’ll save you.
5. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
Do you ever compare yourself to that photographer who shoots ten golden hour sessions every week, makes dinner from scratch every night, always wears a cute outfit and volunteers at every school event? That’s when you need to remind yourself to do you and do not get sucked into the comparison epidemic. Who knows if those people are actually getting all the things done that they say they are. And, if they ARE doing ALL the things ALL the time, they’re probably utterly exhausted, and who would wish for that?
Being busy around the clock with no down time to recharge leads to burnout and lack of fulfillment. Remember that you are good enough. You are doing your best. Work-life balance is important.
6. LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM.
Many of us tend to obsess over things until they are perfect. I know it’s so hard not to, but this is what is ultimately holding us back from being our best self. You can include this to our kids, appearance, relationships, work, etc. Knowing when you have worked on something long enough for it to be great enough is the goal here.
7. SELF CARE IS SO IMPORTANT
This one applies to every human. Your business and family life cannot thrive if you don’t take care of yourself. “But there’s no time to work out and eat healthy or do anything for me!” I completely get it. Getting things crossed off of my to do list is part of this process for me. It helps me to not get angry that I got nothing done but recently we invested in the Peleton and I started with one small change. Research shows that if you begin exercising regularly you will automatically begin making other healthier changes in your life unconsciously, including eating better and getting more sleep. Doesn’t that make it so much easier to wrap your head around? Right now I work on committing to 3x a week for 30 minutes. Plus, being physically fit is going to make those back-to-back sessions/ back to back weddings so much easier to shoot! I also love listening to podcasts, educational lessons online about photography, social media, email lists ( haha I know, that seems like work), reading…which turns into an audible book because I just need to figure out how to sit long enough to read. But getting todo those things make me happy!
8. GRATITUDE GOES A LONG WAY
Find time every single day to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and feel gratitude and joy. Our thoughts and mindset are the most powerful tools we have, and what we choose to focus on will become your reality. If you’re reading this post, I know that your dreams are huge and scary! Mine are too but I wouldn’t want it any other way!
9. CREATE YOUR SCHEDULE AND KEEP IT OUT
I have been telling myself for years that I NEED to keep a schedule of what to do and not just a to do list. I need to see it on the day and do my best to set it with a time. If you are a blogger, keeping and sticking to a blog schedule has been so helpful for me and no lie, I JUST started it! I have what I will be blogging about on the dates that the post will go live on the blog, then this way I can prepare when I want to share it on social media and link it to an email. For example, on Wednesdays ( we wear pink…) no, just kidding… Every Wednesday is Wedding Wednesday and I sent out an email that is all about planning a wedding, preparing for your engagement session, or just anything wedding related! I love being able to see what needs to go out, what the post will be about and I can keep myself accountable for getting it done since I have it right in front of me, and I look at the schedule daily.
10. START TODAY.
If you choose one thing from your to do list or change one thing that points you into the direction of improving your work life balance, then do it! One small change can free up an extra 10 minutes of your day, letting to have an extra 10 minutes somewhere else! I recently invested in a Start Today Journal by Rachel Hollis and I love getting to write in that my goals and accomplishments in it. Once you do this, you can then choose how to want to spend the minutes you freed up!