travel photography

Best of 2016

I know everyone always says this, but I'm going to say it anyway. I can't believe a year has already gone by! This year in particular seemed to go by in the blink of an eye and, looking back, I can see why. (Sorry for the unintentional rhyming). On New Year's Eve last year, I sat down and created a list of intentions for 2016...something I haven't done in years past. I have to say that I feel like I had a completely new experience after doing this. It was amazing to see things I put on my "2016 Bucket List" come to life. Lay in a hammock in Bali...check. Take a calligraphy class...check. See Northern Lights...check check. Set your intentions people! There was one thing on my list, "Fall in love." I looked at it a few days ago and thought to myself, "Well, that didn't happen." But then I thought about it again. I actually did "fall in love." Looking back on 2016, I realized this year was huge for me in personal growth and working on self love. For the first time in a long time, I feel much more clear on how to love myself, how to set boundaries in personal relationships and stand by how I want to be treated, and, most importantly, having a clearer understanding of my self worth. I think this is an ongoing process for sure, but learning to fall in love with myself and treat myself with kindness has been one of the best relationships I've ever been in.

I played, I worked my ass off, I met amazing people and cultivated very precious friendships. My theme for 2016 was "Service." I asked myself, "How can I serve others?"  I think giving is one of the most important things a person can do in their lives. I gave all of myself to my clients and my business. Which leads me to my theme for next year, "Balance" AND "Letting go of limiting self beliefs." Next year I will be working on maintaining a better balance of work and personal relationships...making it a priority to make time for friends and "personal" time. I will also be working hard on letting go of playing small and releasing the fearful beliefs that hold me back from dreaming BIG. I'm excited to see where that takes me!


 

I started off 2016 in Fairbanks, Alaska with my besties Mark and Christine. We played in the snow and went dog sledding. We were even able to check "See Northern Lights" off our Bucket Lists on New Years Eve. What an amazing way to start the year! You can check out more images from our trip here. Photos by Christine Chang, Mark Groves, and/or myself. taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0050taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0051taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0047taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0049taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_alaska_northern_lights_travel_photography_0048

 

I rented a bright orange jeep with some friends and went on an epic road trip adventure up the Central Coast. Whenever I'm feeling uninspired I plan a trip and it makes me feel totally refreshed both mentally and creatively. Photos by Christine Chang, Katrina Jayne, and/or myself.

taylor_kinzie_photography_central_coast_road_trip_0062taylor_kinzie_photography_central_coast_road_trip_0063taylor_kinzie_photography_central_coast_road_trip_0064The biggest highlight of my year was planning a trip to Bali. I had felt called to travel there for a long time and the trip was absolutely life changing...I even got my first tattoo! (sorry mom) Bali is such a magical place and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can brave the 23 hour flight time. Check out more images from our trip here. Photos by Shaina Weiss, Anthony Weiss, Brandon Haws, and/or myself.

taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_bali_travel_photography_0055taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_bali_travel_photography_0054I was lucky enough to shoot a wedding in New York in July 2016. I hadn't been to New York since college so it was a really different experience the 2nd time around. New York is such an amazing city but I don't think I could live there. I'm an open spaces kinda girl. Photos by Sarah Zimmer and/or myself.

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taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_joshua_tree_travel_0052taylor_kinzie_photography_los_angeles_wedding_photographer_joshua_tree_travel_0053One of the highlights of my career thus far was getting to shoot at Taft Point in Yosemite. I didn't know I was afraid of heights until this moment. It was SO terrifying but such a rush at the same time. I could hear the echo of my voice as I directed my couple to move closer to the edge of a cliff. Crazy! Photos by Kylie Nicholson and/or myself.

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Thanks to all for your love and support. Can't wait to get started on 2017 with you! Cheers to making new memories!

 

Adventures in Bali

How strange it is to be stagnant in stillness for 18 hours all the while watching the world fall behind. You peer through a tiny window as you punch through the sky, forward in time, anticipating memories you’ve yet to make. I’ve always been one to look forward. Always sitting still, but never being here. I do not travel seeking stillness, but rather to satiate the sweet addiction to finally feeling that the daydreams in my mind are in alignment with reality. I had been dreaming of Bali. There is a line from a movie called Hector and the Search for Happiness that says, “There is a big difference between being here, and being here to be photographed being here.” On the second day of our trip, my camera wouldn’t turn on. I had spent months planning the kinds of images I hoped to get on this trip. In all honesty, I had initially planned this trip for the sole purpose of taking pictures. After trying everything I could think of to bring my baby back to life, I eventually came to the realization that I may need to continue the rest of the trip without being able to take photos. Although I tried to hide it, my heart was completely broken. Little did I know I would learn a very important lessons from this.

The day went on without my camera by my side and I continued to endure the torture of letting moments slip away. It seemed that, unless captured in my camera, they were moments wasted. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I took a deep breath and let it go. I wish I could remember what it was, but something cool was happening outside the car window as we were driving and I missed the shot because my camera wasn’t working. I contently smiled and said, “Some moments aren’t meant to be captured.”

My camera started working again the next day, but for the rest of the trip I didn’t feel as dependent on it. In fact, there were a lot of moments that escaped my viewfinder. Instead of being sad I “missed the shot”, I simply reveled in knowing that particular moment was a gift just for me…not to be shared with anyone else’s eyes. Because sometimes capturing a feeling with your heart is more important than having the photo of it.

There are so many moments from this trip you will not see captured in my photographs. How do you capture the introduction to the feeling of driving in a country with no stop lights? The responsibility of allowing someone to trust you with their deepest secrets? The freedom in napping on a lounge chair under the stars in the middle of a crowded room? The thick, sticky air and how alive I felt to be swimming in it? The way your heart races when a wild animal allows you to see into its soul? The warmth of watching the reflection of the moonlight on a rice field? The gratitude you feel for people you don't even know? The connection you build with friends you spontaneously got your first tattoo with? I can do my best to try, but no matter how great my camera is, a photograph can never compare to being there. In it. Present in the deliciousness of feeling the energy of life's magic.

We went to Bali searching for answers to questions we could not find within ourselves. Hoping for some strange enlightenment that can only be discovered somewhere between the depths of a stranger’s smile and roads leading to deep, dark jungles. We ventured to the island of love, hoping to purify our bleeding hearts in the holy waters but were met with an uninvited truth. Our pain is not something that is meant to be cleansed. No, our pain is what makes us divine…beautifully broken masterpieces. We went to Bali to find direction and were met with the path towards the courage to keep our hearts open to love. We went to Bali in search of ourselves, but ended up finding each other.

Uluwatu:

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It was so humid in Uluwatu it was nearly impossible to wear clothes without sweating through them. Here I am sitting at Kelly's Warung, a cute little cafe with a beach view that served the best Pitaya Bowls. 

Seminyak:

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One of my favorite parts of Bali was the beautiful alley ways leading to mysterious places.            Ketut posing by the art in our AirBnB in Seminyak.

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Ubud:

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Ketut: Thank you for showing me what a truly pure heart looks like. I have never in my life met a more kind and gentle soul than yours. You truly made this trip better for us than we could have ever imagined and we will be forever grateful that you were part of it.

Brandon: I so admire your courage, your sense of honor, and the way you constantly strive to be a better version of yourself. Thank you for teaching me how to receive help from others without feeling weak, or proud, or underserving.

Shaina: I love the way your heart light shines. Your inner strength and the depth to which you love is so inspiring to me. I'm so excited to witness the evolution of your purpose.

Anthony: I'm so proud of you. I am in awe of the way you set your mind to achieving the intentions you create for yourself and how you want to live your life. I can always count on some good belly laughs whenever we are together and I am so grateful for our years of friendship. Thank you for inspiring me to live with passion.

Watch until the end for bloopers.

https://youtu.be/RsYNNdzfhNk

"Ask Me Anything..." {5/17/16}

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's your greatest memory from high school?

High school feels like forever ago and, then again, like it was just yesterday. I have so many great memories with friends that I am still close with today. From school dances, to getting my driver's license, to first kisses...they all seem to blur into one big memory of adolescent bliss. If I had to choose one memory that I valued the most it would have to be the time I spent on my high school dance team.

I started dancing when I was eight years old. I'll never forget the first time I got to see the Saugus Dance Team perform. They were so amazing and, from that point forward, my life goal was to eventually become a Saugus dancer. I'll never forget how nervous I was going into try outs. I was sick for weeks beforehand from the nerves! Walking up to the list of dancers who had made the team to see if my name was on it was probably one of the longest walks of my life. When I saw my name, I knew I had accomplished a goal 7 years in the making and it felt pretty great.

We performed at football games, basketball games, and pep rallies. We also traveled to various cities to compete against other teams around the country. Not only did I learn how to work really, really hard (we worked our asses off at early morning practices, literally), but I also learned how to work as a team while forming close bonds with my teammates. I LOVED performing in front of an audience so being able to dance gave me the outlet and confidence I needed to eventually pursue other goals in the performing arts.

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2-What does photography mean to you?

This is such a huge question that I'm not sure I can answer in just one little post. Obviously, discovering my love for photography changed my life. Apart from dancing, I've never done anything that makes me feel like I can escape my mind so completely. When you get into the flow of things while you're taking pictures, it's a high I can't really explain. Without trying to sound dramatic, it's like this heightened sense of self. Tapping into your creative being can be a very spiritual experience.

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I'd have to say though, that the reason I love taking pictures is actually very selfish. I strive to capture these moments in people's lives because I hope that, when they look at their photos years from now, they'll see a little piece of me in them. I guess I hope that by showing the world my perspective, by capturing the way I see things on paper, a little piece of me will continue on through my art. Maybe it's an ego thing, or maybe it's just my way of wanting to be remembered when I go.

3-I feel like the quality of my work is poor quality, bland lighting, and dull highlights. What are your top tips for getting photos that are crisp and sharp while still looking natural?

It definitely takes time to get to a point with your editing style that feels like a reflection of how you imagine it will look in your head. Finding your style and your voice as an artist takes time! When I was first starting out, I found a few photographers whose style I really admired and tried to emulate it. I think it's important to really study the work of those you admire to perfect your own eye when it comes to editing. This is not to say you are "copying" their work. Your work will never look exactly like someone else's because you have your own unique vision as an artist. What I'm saying is, really look at the images you love and think about why you are drawn to them. Do you love the dark shadows? Do you love the soft skin tones? What about the vibrant colors? I currently have images of Jose Villa's work hanging above my desk as a constant reminder of what I'm striving for in my editing and career.

Feeling like your images are poor could be a result of a lot of things. Perhaps you are comparing your work to those you admire and don't feel it measures up? Perhaps you are still in the stage of your career as a photographer where you need to work on honing your eye when you edit? Here are a few tips that work really well for me when I'm shooting/ editing:

  • I usually shoot at f1.6 or f2.o on my 50mm 1.2L lens. I'm drawn to that dreamy depth of field and shooting at this setting helps me to emulate the film look I love so much. This takes practice though as it can be really difficult to get sharp images at this aperture. I still struggle with it!
  • Your focal point should always be on the eye. If the eyes in my images aren't sharp, I usually don't use the photo. For me, the eyes are the most important part.
  • In Lightroom, the very first thing I do is slide the "Sharpness" and "Noise" bars in the "Detail" module to the right a little. Be careful not to overdue this though, as you can make your images look too soft which gives a fake look that I don't love. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.55.23 AM
  • I typically overexpose in camera by about 1-stop. I do this because I'm usually backlighting my subject when I shoot. You have to expose for shadows and then overexpose a bit to compete with the strong light from the sun. This way your subject isn't in silhouette.
  • I almost always lift my exposure and bring down highlights and shadows in Lightroom when I'm editing. I edit with Mastin Presets so I usually just apply the preset and make a few tweaks until I'm happy with the way it looks.
  • Maintain sharpness in camera by making sure you're at an appropriate shutter speed. Anything below 1/250s is probably going to be a bit blurry if you're photographing a moving subject.
  • I hate to say this because I'm a firm believer that the camera doesn't make the artist, but the lack of crispness in your images could be a result of the camera you're using or your lenses. You can have the best camera and lenses in the world and still take crappy pictures, but if you know what you're doing, having quality gear can really make a difference. When investing in lenses, it's important that you choose one that can shoot at wide apertures. I'd say it's best to strive for a lens that can get at least as wide as 2.8. Having quality glass can help you to create images with vivid colors and sharpness straight out of camera.About me photo

"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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