los angeles wedding photographer

Kristen and Rigo {Engaged} | Vasquez Rocks, CA

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Kristen and Rigo are one of those couples I feel so lucky I get to work with! They are both total sweethearts and trusted me completely to capture the love they share. I can't wait for their wedding next year! 

Ask Me Anything... {6/21/16}

image1-2"Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about photography, me, or...anything. Check back next Monday on my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be taking all of your questions. 1-What is the Arab country you would like to visit?

Those of you who have been checking in on my posts know that I love to travel! When I read this question I literally said, "ooooOOOoooOOOOo" because I hadn't really included any Arab countries yet on my list of "places to see." I think the country that sparks my interest the most would be Morocco. There's something about this place that seems mysterious and kind of magical. From the colors in the architecture, to the never-ending sand dunes, to the busy marketplaces, I think Morocco would be an awesome adventure!

You can check out some other adventures I've been on here, here, and here.

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2- What is the number one piece of advice you would give others regarding the creative process?

Sometimes being a creative person can be really challenging. I think the one major obstacle I've been faced with the most along my journey as a creative is self doubt. Overcoming this is definitely still something that I struggle with but I'm learning how to move past this by implementing a couple of important ideas into my life.  I'm going to give you two pieces of advice, rather than one, because I'm feeling generous today.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Yes, there's a reason I just underlined that. It's one thing to be inspired by a person, but it's a completely different thing to feel lesser than because you are not "as successful, as pretty, as smart, as talented, as rich, as busy," etc and so forth. Comparing your art and your journey to someone else's will be the number one killer of, not only your creative freedom, but your confidence as well. OWN your art. OWN your place in your personal journey.

Surround yourself with people who  build you up. No, this doesn't mean "only have friends who kiss your ass." Although, that would be nice. What I mean by this is that the people you surround yourself with are crucial to the evolution of who you are. Do you have friends who aren't supportive of your personal growth? Ask yourself why you keep them in your life. Do you interact with people that are hell bent on putting you in your place? Why? Make the decision to have people in your life that are on your team. This means they celebrate WITH you during your triumphs and call you on your shit when you're messing up. Because a real friend will tell you how it is in order to see you succeed.

3- How difficult was it getting started and how long was it before you felt you "made it"?

Getting started with my business was easy in some ways and really difficult in others. Where I am in my business now was not an overnight success at all. I worked tirelessly to learn/network/improve/hustle because, ultimately, I felt compelled to make this art. It's the one thing I've ever done in my life that I've been completely sure of. As a result, working towards building my business never felt like work. It just felt like a fun challenge that included lots of baby steps towards success. If you want a technical answer, I started teaching myself photography in 2011, started shooting friends and family as a hobby in 2012, and officially started my business in 2013. I left my full time job in July of 2014 to be a professional photographer full time.

I use past tense but, really, I should be using present. Because building my business still feels like a fun challenge every single day. I don't feel like I've "made it" by any means. What does it mean to have "made it"? I suppose you can say I've accomplished many of my goals leading up to where I currently am in my journey. But, guess what, now I have a whole new set of goals to work towards.

I think if you ever feel like you've "made it" and no longer have to keep striving towards improvement, you should reevaluate what you're doing.

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Julie and Kyle | Engaged {Mammoth, CA}

Julie and Kyle both love adventure and the outdoors and will be getting married in Yosemite this October. It seemed like the most obvious choice to shoot their Engagement Session in the gorgeous mountains near Mammoth, California. We planned for everything from wardrobe to various locations. When we saw rain in the forecast, we decided to plan to shoot as scheduled and hope for the best. When I met them at our first planned location at Convict Lake, it was literally pouring rain. I pulled up to their car, rolled down my window, and said, "Well, it's raining." The look on their faces was full of worry and disappointment. I knew I had to come up with a plan, fast.

Luckily, I had come from an area where it hadn't been raining so we decided to drive in that direction and chase the light. You can see that our first stop was still a bit drizzly. If you look closely you can see the raindrops falling on Julie and Kyle. They were so great and just went with the flow, laughing it off and continuing to smile.

As we continued to our next location, I could see the clouds start to part and the sun started shining. Off in the distance, I saw an open field with a beam of radiant light shining down on it. I have driven by this area probably 100's of times (I've been to Mammoth a lot in my lifetime) and I've never thought to explore there. So, in photographer's fashion, I pulled off onto a random road and started driving towards that light. What we discovered was so much better than any location we could have planned for. Roadways with epic trees arching over them, fields of irises, a rope swing...a rope swing for crying out loud! When I met with the couple at our consultation, Julie had mentioned to me that she and Kyle had been working on their "frolicing" skills in preparation for their Engagement Session. I'm so glad we found the perfect grassy field for you two to frolic in.

This experience was such a reflection of life for me. Sometimes you can plan for things, but, ultimately, you just have to let go and let the Universe deliver gifts that are so much better than you could have ever imagined.

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"Ask Me Anything..." {5/10/16}

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer_0117 "Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about photography, me, or...anything. Check back next Monday on my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be taking all of your questions.

1- Is photography your only source of income? If so, how did you get to that point? 

Yes, I feel very lucky to say that photography is my one and only job. It hasn't always been this way, however. When I first started my business in 2013, I was working about 50 hours a week as a Casting Director then coming home after 12 hour days to edit sessions I had shot over the weekend. No matter how tired I was after work, coming home to edit and work on my art was the best part of my day.

Finally being able to make the jump to running my photography business full time took me about a year of REALLY, REALLY hard work. I would shoot anything I could on the weekends in order to build a strong portfolio and client base. I worked really hard on networking with other photographers to book 2nd shooting and assistant jobs. I also put a lot of focus into building a strong following on social media. This really helped to get my brand out there in front of more and more people. I would post a session to my Facebook page, tag my clients in the post, and BOOM...hundreds of my clients' Facebook friends are now looking at my work. At the end of the day, I'd say social media as well as word of mouth have been the most important factors in building my client base.

About a year later, I got to a point with my business where I was booked about 4 months out. I calculated my monthly expenses, how much I needed to make, and how many jobs I needed to book. I also saved up enough money to cover my expenses for 6 months as a safety net. When I was booked ahead enough to cover those things, I decided to quit my full time job in order to pursue my business full time. I would say that I absolutely took a big risk in doing so but I believed in myself and trusted more work would continue to come in. Would I recommend quitting your job before you're financially able to do so? No, absolutely not. Make sure you work hard to build your client base and book jobs in advance. Once you feel you have a consistent stream of bookings and clients, follow your heart in deciding when it feels right for you to go full time.

2- What would you be thinking of on your death bed?

Isn't it funny how we tend to get lost in the seemingly important details of life? We stress ourselves out about things that feel like mountains to climb in the moment, but when we look back we realize how insignificant those decisions were. We worry ourselves over things that don't really matter. I want to live my life avoiding this. I want to make the things that are important to me a priority, rather than putting silly concerns first.

On my death bed, I hope I'll be an old woman having lived a very full life. I want to feel confident in knowing I have lived putting the people I love first, always. I truly believe that, at the end of it all, the only thing that ever really matters, the only thing that makes us special, the only thing that will continue our legacy is the people we love...and those who have loved us. It's the relationships we've built and the connections we've made. It's how we've made a person's life a little bit better just by being in it.

I also hope to be surrounded by framed photos on the wall of all the places I've been and the faces I've loved. That would make me the happiest of all.

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"Ask Me Anything..." {5/3/16}

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer_0117"Ask Me Anything..." is a weekly blog segment where I answer your questions about photography, me, or...anything. Check back next Monday on my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be taking all of your questions. 1-What is your marketing strategy to reach your ideal clientele?

I'm a very lucky photographer because I truly LOVE all of my clients! Not all photographers can say this and I'll tell you why...they don't brand themselves in a way that helps them to attract their ideal client.

In order to do this, you have to have a clear and concise image of who your ideal client is. Where do they shop? Do they drink beer or wine? What kind of car do they drive? Do they like to travel?

Sit down and make a list that is as detailed as possible of what traits your ideal client would possess. This way, you will have a strong outline for what kind of content you should be creating for your social media platforms. As a very simple example, if your ideal client is a dog person, don't post cat photos. If your ideal client has an excellent fashion sense, keep your content fashion forward.

I have also attracted my ideal client, while setting myself apart in a saturated market, by choosing to remain very open about my personal life. Not a lot of photographers or business owners would agree with this approach but I have found there are a lot of benefits to this technique. First of all, choosing to remain vulnerable with what kind of content I put out helps me to remain approachable and relatable. I'm a person just like everyone else. Pretending to be perfect for the sake of upholding an image doesn't connect with my ideal client. I want my clients to feel like they know me before they work with me so we can establish an intimate exchange of trust and friendship right from the beginning. I also share personal stories and thoughts because I hope that, by doing so, my own experiences can potentially help or inspire others. I've found that, more than anything, people want to feel inspired.

Overall, as simple as this may sound, I attract my ideal client by choosing to remain authentic. I share my mistakes, my adventures, and my passions so that I may attract clients who are like minded.

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2-What are your thoughts on including digital images for your clients? I personally do not include them but allow them to be purchased separately. I know lots of photographers include a disc or digital copies with all of the pictures. Wondering which way you advise. 

Ahhh the age old question: Digital files vs. Product Sales. I'll just start by saying that I offer the digital files in my package. I explain to my clients that I will select the best images from their session or wedding day to be delivered through an online gallery called Pixieset. I do this for two reasons: 1) I am a straight forward person and I want a straight forward delivery method. Delivering images through Pixieset is simple, it looks elegant, and it's very straight forward. 2) My clients want the digital images. Yes, I could structure my packages in a way that upsells products and includes the digital files at a premium cost. Yes, I could make a lot more money by doing it this way. At the end of the day though, this approach just. isn't. right. for. me. This approach to business is not who I am as a person and it doesn't feel genuine for me. My main goal is to provide a "what you see is what you get"' exchange of services that leaves my clients feeling happy.

This is not to say offering products to your clients is taking advantage of them! Clients are coming to you because they want quality service and by offering beautiful products, you are delivering a great experience. I still offer the option for my clients to purchase products and albums, I just don't structure my packages in a way that makes the digital files more expensive.

At the end of the day, the approach with which you choose to structure your business model is a complete reflection of what feels right to you as a business person. If "In Person Sales" feels more natural to you, you should do that! If your ideal client is interested in a studio that offers premium products, then you should offer that! Stay true to what feels right.

 

3-What advice do you have for someone who's just starting out on the adventure of creating their own photography business? 

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! You are about to embark on the biggest adventure/challenge of your life! I originally started my business with the idea of "I want to take pretty pictures for a living." But, they don't tell you about the bookkeeping, the taxes, the emails, the marketing, the blogging, the learning, the self doubt, the expenses, the interpersonal communication skills, etc and so forth.  Owning my own business has taught me so many wonderful things about myself while bringing me on some pretty amazing adventures. There hasn't been a day that I'm not grateful for discovering this passion and starting a business, but DAMN, it's hard work. Here are some tips for your journey:

1- EAT, SLEEP, and BREATHE YOUR BUSINESS.

Starting and owning any successful business will require 100% of your time, focus, and, well, life. While I fully believe in the concept of finding "balance," it can be a difficult thing to juggle building a successful business, having a family, maintaining a relationship, etc. It may get easier once your business is a bit more established, but in the beginning, my business was all I thought about. I sometimes joke that "my business is my boyfriend." With a job that requires me to work  on the weekends and edit at home alone during the week, it's hard to meet people that understand this kind of schedule, let alone finding the time to go on dates.

Owning your own business is not a 9a-5p job. This is your all day everyday life. It is also my biggest sense of pride, joy, and love and I have never once regretted the decision to start my own business.

2- BUILD YOUR TRIBE.

If you work from home and don't have any employees, like me, being a business owner can be kind of lonely sometimes. There are many times when I need encouragement, company, ideas, or just someone who understands my frustrations.  This is why it's so important to build your tribe. By "tribe" I mean, a network of like minded people (probably fellow entrepreneurs and photographers) who you can get together with to vent, talk about ideas, or just get out of the house. Yes, I have other really close friends that I can talk to but, unless they own their own business or are photographers, they just can't fully grasp what you're going through. Having a close group of friends who I feel supported by has helped me tremendously on my journey.

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3- DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

As creatives, we strive to attain the same level of greatness as those who have inspired us. We are constantly growing, learning, and improving...while constantly  making ourselves feel like we're not good enough by comparing our journey to others. STOP IT! Just stop it right now! (Reaches through the screen to slap you).   You are an individual with rare and brilliant creative vision...why would you compare your talents to those of others? You are at a stage in your journey that is specific to only you...why would you compare your journey to someone else's?

While it's important to strive to improve, to practice your skills, and to enhance your creative eye...it's also important to truly own who you are and what your voice is as an artist. Comparing your path to someone else's is the firs step to self-destruction and the number one killer of creativity. I know this because I constantly struggle with it. Blaze your own trail and own what you have to say to the world.

4- BUILD A TEAM.

When I started my business it didn't take me long to realize that I am only as strong as the people I surround myself with. As hard as I may try, I cannot do everything nor can I be everyone. I have a designated group of vendors that I choose to work with on styled shoots and always recommend to clients. These hair and make up artists, coordinators, florists, photographers,  and graphic designers are all AMAZINGLY talented. Why wouldn't I want to surround myself with super talented people? It inspires me and, together, we create beautiful things.

5- SET YOUR INTENTIONS.

How will you know how to get somewhere if you don't know where you're going? Manifesting success into your life and making all your dreams come true is 100% a result of setting your intentions. Where do you want to be with your business in 6 months? Sit down and write out your specific goals. Maybe you want to have a website up and running by the end of the month. Write it down. Maybe you want to set your profits at 6 figures by 2017. Write it down. Now, how will you get there? Make a plan for yourself and stick to it. Write it out in big, bold letters and hang it somewhere you can look at it everyday. Setting goals for yourself is crucial to success.

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Ask Me Anything... {3/29/16}

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer_0117 Want to know more about me? Do you have  photography or business related question? Are you curious about my shooting techniques? "Ask Me Anything..." 

 

1-Who or what inspired you to become a photographer? Who or what inspires you today?

I think I gravitated more towards portrait photography when I was first starting out because I am most inspired by human connection. My ultimate goal as a photographer is to tell a story... I strive to capture the awakening of love between my couples, the vulnerability in someone's eyes, the moments rarely shown to others. It is my goal to use my camera to tear down the walls of the person I am photographing until they trust me enough to reveal the inner most corners of their heart. The story, the love, the heartbreak, the living...This is what inspires me the most. This is what I find most beautiful.

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2-How do you continually grow your Instagram following?

I would say, when trying to build your Instagram following, the most important thing is CONSISTENCY. This applies not only to how often you're posting, but also to the tone, theme, and style of your images. Your feed should have a cohesive flow of colors so that it almost looks like one big painting.

It is also important to remember that the content you post to your Instagram should be one of three things: Educational, Inspiring, Entertaining. Also, everything you post should be a reflection of your brand. You may be into cooking. Is you ideal client a foodie? Post a beautiful, styled photo of a delicious meal or dessert you love. Some really great examples of Instagram accounts that follow these rules are: designlovefestamberfillerup, janawilliamsphotos_, jeshderox, changphoto, and steal_9.

3-What is the nastiest thing you have ever eaten?

I was going through a phase once where I was watching a lot of the show, "Chopped." The premise of the show is that these chefs are given super random ingredients and challenged to make something creative and delicious with them. One night, I was going through my pantry and realized it had been awhile since I'd made a trip to the grocery story and there weren't a lot of options. In my infinite laziness, I decided that, instead of just going to the store or ordering food, I would challenge myself to a "Chopped" style competition. I searched through the scraps of my fridge and pantry and pulled out a can of tuna, crackers, a left over tomato, and mustard. The ultimate result was the most depressing plate of tuna topped crackers anyone has ever seen. And it tasted a lot like dirty feet. Needless to say, I went out for dinner that night.

Ciella and Matt {Engaged} | Malibu, CA

I've known Matt since high school and when I was introduced to Ciella, I knew he had met someone very special. One of the first times I was able to get to know Ciella was when she had booked me for a surprise Portrait Session for Matt and his beloved dog, Jack. At the time, Jack had been diagnosed with cancer and they weren't sure if he was going to live much longer. (Side note: Jack is still going strong!) I thought it was one of the most thoughtful acts of love and I was so happy Matt had found someone to love him that way. Last summer, we played on the same Kickball league and it was so cute to watch them cheer each other on. To me, one of the most beautiful things about love is knowing you've found a teammate who will support you and, sometimes literally, cheer you on from the sidelines.

For our session, Ciella had her grandmother's dress from the 1940's altered into a beautiful, long flowing skirt. I was almost afraid to touch the fabric for fear that it would rip or tear between my fingertips. I thought it was such a beautiful way to honor her grandmother while also continuing the legacy of love in her family for generations.

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Chris and Erica | Big Bear, CA {Engagement Session}

For Chris and Erica's Engagement Session, I wanted to evoke the feeling of coziness and warmth. Erica is a talented Interior Designer, so naturally, we had to shoot some lifestyle images in their home in Santa Clarita, CA. I love the intimate feel of the images so much! There's something so beautiful about the simplicity of cuddling at home with the person you love. The two really wanted to shoot in Big Bear, CA to take advantage of the beautiful snowy landscapes. We put on our snow boots and ventured out into the wild. These two were such champs when it came to me asking them to walk into knee deep snow to get the perfect light. I think I laughed for two hours straight. Erica is just a bundle of light and I loved watching how Chris let's her shine. Chris and Erica, I had so much fun getting to know you at our shoot and I absolutely can't wait to share your big day with you!

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What Being a Wedding Photographer Has Taught Me About Love

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Some people say you choose your profession based on what you want to learn more about in your own life. Psychologists, for example, often enter the field in order to learn how to heal themselves. In some ways I think this is true. I am a wedding photographer. I am mystified by love. I have chosen a career that surrounds me with the beauty of love on a regular basis, and yet, I remain completely bewildered by how to find it. What makes it real? How do you know?  How do you keep it alive?

Luckily, my on-the-job-training allows me to share in some touching insights with my couples. During the rare quiet moments on a wedding day, I often stand back and watch the newlyweds together, in awe of how they found each other...how they kept each other. It is in that sacred moment when they recite their vows to one another that I am able to learn the most. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the vows I have witnessed:

"I choose you." :

We often forget that our partner is not required to love us. Love is a choice. The person you choose to share your life with is your choice. Down the road in a marriage, a person will be tested repeatedly. It is up to them to choose their partner through everything that comes their way. I think that knowing my partner is choosing me as opposed to me feeling entitled to their love makes it even more valuable.

"I love you in your perfection...and your imperfection." :  

The beginning of a relationship is always so deliciously exciting. There is nothing about your lover that you don't adore. Even the annoying things they do are cute...until they're not anymore. At some point in every relationship, reality kicks in and we are forced to face the person we have fallen in love with and decide whether or not we can accept their imperfections. To love someone is to see them in all their weakness and accept them as they are. I think Colin Firth said it best.

"You make me want to be a better man/woman.":

When you love someone, you want to give them everything...including the best version of yourself. This is not to say that you feel you need to change yourself to be with them, but rather that you are comfortable with who you are and confident with where you are in your life. You are constantly striving to be your best self so you and your partner feel worthy of each other.

"I felt compelled.":

A few years ago, I asked my best friend's boyfriend at the time to tell me the story of how they met. They were at the same party and, fresh out of a break up, he wanted nothing to do with dating again. But then he saw her across the room and, against all reason, he had to talk to her. He said bluntly, "I was compelled." I thought it was the most romantic thing I had ever heard.

One of the most common things I hear in wedding vows is the story of how the other felt when they met. They often describe this sort of unseen connection that draws them to the other person. This could definitely be physical attraction, but I choose to believe it is something much bigger. Something that pulls you outside of your normal behavior and draws you to them. Some people might think this is "woo woo" stuff. I think it's a good ol' fashioned "meet cute" moment.

"You are my teammate."

Life friggen sucks sometimes. While you will have your moments of rainbows and butterflies, you are mostly going to have to figure out how to solve problems. Every. Single. Day. They don't call the person you love your "partner" for nothing. You want to be with someone you know is on your team. Someone who is going to go on this crazy ride called life with you and high five you at the end of the day. They support you, they encourage you, they push you, they console you, they amuse you, they love you.

Go team.

Los Angeles Wedding Photographer