Photography

Lessons in Second Shooting {Part One}

No matter your age, or level of experience, I believe there’s always room to learn new things... this applies to everything in life. So, even though I own my own photography business & stay plenty busy, I won’t ever pass up the chance to second shoot for another photographer if the opportunity presents itself!

There are so many reasons I love second shooting. For one, even though you’re responsible for capturing certain images and assisting the main photographer, you don’t feel the same amount of pressure. As the second, I’m able to “slow down” and see things from a different perspective.

It’s also fun to shadow another photographer, because we all have our own flow & style of doing things. Whether it’s how we direct our clients, what kind of equipment we use (and when), and/or certain “rules” we apply to our professionalism… I’m always intrigued to see what I’ll pick up from others.

Kari Otero Photography, who is based in New York City, flew out to Northern California to photograph her client’s wedding at the historic Hotel Petaluma this past July, and had me along to second shoot with her. I was really honored to work with Kari, she’s got a successful business and beautiful portfolio. I had never met her before, so it was awesome to make a new connection! Kari was warm & kind from the start, and I was in awe of her use of off-camera lighting (which is something I’m not used to, since I specialize in natural light photography). To be honest, I was a bit intimidated… but she showed me how easy it was to use, and gave me some great tips. Although I still prefer bringing a “lighter load” and working with natural light & minimal on-camera flash, I can see the benefits of using off-camera lighting for certain occasions & am considering investing in one to use for darker receptions, or studio portraits. Kari helped me see how off-camera lighting can expand my creativity & style.

Kari’s clients, Bill & Rachel, were extremely down-to-earth & sweet. I loved their classic & beautiful wedding style, and sheer enthusiasm for taking portraits. They dedicated a good portion of their timeline to formal portraits, and were always up for suggestions… like when Kari proposed that we go a few blocks away for a river-side location, they agreed without hesitation. During the family portraits, Kari set up an area in the hotel courtyard with her lighting, and while guests mingled around them, efficiently checked off their list of groupings. While I typically shoot family portraits away from guests because I find I can get it done faster, Kari made it look effortless & I was super impressed.

All in all, I learned a lot from Kari and loved her positive & confident “lady boss” demeanor. I’m glad I was able to see what it was like to use off-camera lighting, and work with new people, at a venue I’ve never been to before. Thanks again, Kari, for having me!

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Next time, on “Lessons in Second Shooting,” I’ll be sharing my amazing experience with Athena Kalindi Photography. Stay tuned!

Road Trippin'

How is it already September?! Fall is right around the corner, but I’m not ready for it yet (especially since last Winter seemed to last until May!) It’s been such a dreamy Summer season… lots of traveling, spending time with my family and friends, and of course photographing beautiful weddings, events, families & more. I plan on blogging my 2019 weddings with you this week, but first, I wanted to share some of my personal life & travel adventures.

My family and I love to travel, so we made a point to do lots of that over the Summer. We flew to Cabo San Lucas in July and stayed for an entire week, but I decided to leave my camera behind so I could really relax. I also opted to go “cameraless” for our end-of-Summer road trip down to San Clemente, where we camped at the State Beach for 4 days, and spent an entire day at Disneyland & California Adventures. Sometimes it’s just nice to put the camera down & be fully present.

I did, however, bring my camera along for a few unforgettable road trips. I was hired to photograph a proposal in Yosemite this past June, and since my family had never been before, we decided to plan a vacation around the date. We stayed at a quaint AirBNB right outside the South Gate for two nights & three days (I highly recommend Tony & Nan’s Guest House, they were excellent hosts!)

My client proposed to his girlfriend under the Faithful Couple tree in Mariposa Grove; it took a great deal of planning between the two of us… but everything went smoothly (she said yes!!) and it was pretty much the cutest thing ever. Then, we celebrated their engagement by taking some portraits around the grove.

When we parted ways, I met up with my husband and kids, and we explored beautiful Yosemite Valley. The beauty of the park completely blew us away. Pictures truly don’t do it justice… but of course, I attempted to capture some of it’s magnificence & try out some of my new presets to draw out some of the dramatic tones & features. What do you think?

Highlights from Yosemite: Driving into Yosemite Valley and seeing Tunnel View for the first time (literally took my breath away), “climbing” El Capitan, going to the Ansel Adams museum & then photographing Mirror Lake from the exact spot he did (dork status). Yosemite exceeded everything I had imagined it would be, and I cannot wait to go back again.

Another epic trip we planned (last minute) was to Travertine Hot Springs, in Bridgeport, CA. We arrived in the late afternoon at the end of August, so it was still super hot outside, and we decided to wait until it cooled off to take dip in the pools. It was amazing watching the sun go down over the high desert from the “view pool” …the only downside were the constant swarming mosquitos. We ended up cutting our evening dip short, and going back to camp. The next morning, we went back before the crowds came, and it was absolutely perfect. The colors, the view, the vibes… unreal.

Once we were finished soaking in the good energy, we packed up our camp and made the short drive to Bodie State Park, which is only about 30 minutes away. I had heard great things about this ghost town, so I was excited to finally get the chance to go. It was fun to imagine the town thriving and alive at one time. Some houses still had items inside: dolls & carriages left behind by little children, and kitchen utensils sitting on the shelves. It was eerie cool. Reminders of the past and how time moves on, with or without us.

My kids are now back in school; my daughter, Faith, is in 4th grade, while my son, Jared, started middle school (6th). I’m reminded how quickly time goes by, and how important it is to create these memories together. Before I know it, they’ll be all grown up and have lives of their own… so I feel incredibly grateful to be doing what I love as an artist, which gives me the time & freedom to explore new places with the people I cherish the most.

These are the days.

Until next time, friends.
Katie

Finding What Works... For ME.

Hey everyone,

I’m excited to be here with you after taking a hiatus from blogging over the past couple of years! 2019 will be my 9th wedding season as a professional photographer, but already, I feel like this year is profoundly different from the rest. Why? Well, I feel like I’ve finally found my “sweet spot” … as in, I’ve found a balance that works for me, and it feels wonderful.

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You see, for years I’ve been silently struggling, and comparing, and analyzing, and STRESSING… because I didn’t know another way. It all started when I began photographing weddings back in 2011. I only knew that I loved witnessing beautiful celebrations of love & commitment, as well as exercising my creative side. But, I had zero knowledge about running my own business. I literally jumped into my photography business as a means to have “something for myself” because you know, when you’re a 23-year-old stay-at-home-mom of two kids under three, it’s nice to have some time to cultivate your own dreams and purpose!

So, I took the plunge & began my photography business, but ended up juggling parenting with going back to school, and gaining photography experience by any means necessary. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, this was no easy task. I felt like I was barely keeping my head above the surface, as I navigated the waters through trial & error (personally and professionally). I believed every door that presented itself was an opportunity to learn and further my success, so I just kept saying “YES!” and piling more and more onto my plate. This included opening another business (a storefront, mind you, which is on a completely different level of business know-how!) and, while it was an amazing adventure from which I gathered an incredible amount of knowledge, I quickly realized that the only thing I was mastering, was how to spread myself too thin.

I had to make some hard choices. I had to surrender what was no longer serving me, and take a good hard look at what I truly WANTED from my business, and my life. It started with being honest with myself.
What did I enjoy doing?
What could I let go of?
What could I designate to others?
If my wildest dreams came true, what would they be?

How do I want others to perceive my work?
How can I better connect with my clients?

How do I stay true to myself in my business, instead of following the trends?
How can I differenciate myself from other wedding photographers?

The answers were not simple, but have led me to great insight and profound clarity. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by everything, these questions have helped me compartmentalize & develop strategies to accomplish my goals and take my business to new levels.

Along with these questions, I’ve found certain “tools” have proven life-changing for my new business/life game plan. I definitely recommend the following to other photographers & creative business owners:

-The Passion Planner. I’ve never been one for lists or planners, but this amazing tool is different than the rest. With a passion roadmap that helps you narrow down your top priorities into short-term and long-term goals, as well as practical overall & daily calendars that help you focus on small tasks at a time, the Passion Planner has completely transformed the way I view my life, and has helped me implement positive change & accountability.

-Mentors. When I first started my business, I constantly browsed through photography & wedding blogs, soaking up every bit of knowledge I could. But reaching out to people (in real life) for mentorship has really proven fulfilling, personally & professionally. I’ve had several mentors throughout the years, who have taken me under their wings and shown me the ropes by helping me build a beautiful portfolio, and expanding my knowledge in areas of business marketing that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The people I’ve been lucky to learn from have challenged & pushed me to grow, and I’m forever grateful.

-Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced. Reading this book literally felt like talking with a good friend over coffee; Rachel’s honest, relatable and motivating… with a no-excuse attitude. I’ve begun reciting certain passages from the book as my daily mantra & inspiration to keep going when I feel like giving in. It’s powerful, and I think every woman who picks this up will gain something from this easy-going yet powerful read.

-Photographer’s Edit. Ok, I’ll admit it: editing photos is not my favorite. But, it’s obviously a huge, important part of the creative process because it helps define a photographer’s overall style. That being said, spending hours upon hours staring at my computer screen, editing thousands of photos (when I also have a million other things to get done) feels daunting & counter-productive… always leaving me feeling drained. So, when I heard about Photographer’s Edit, I figured I’d give it a try. I signed up last year… but went the entire wedding season without sending in ONE photo (control issues much?!) So this year, I’m re-committing… knowing that the perks will far outweigh my control issues. For one, I’ll have the same group of talented individuals who will get to know my style, and edit using my favorite chosen presets. Also, they have a super speedy turn-around time… so I’ll deliver my images to clients in record time. It’s honestly a win-win for everyone… if I can just let go a little bit. Which I will. I swear!

-Useful Apps for Business & Life. Navigating social media for my business got a whole lot easier & time efficient when I found PLANN for Instagram & Tailwind for Pintrest (and Instagram). They allow me to edit and schedule posts so that my followers see new content… even when I’m completely offline. Also, I love that I can see what my Instagram feed will look like before finalizing my post; it takes the pressure of a “perfectly presentable feed” away, and makes social media fun again!!
As far as helpful apps for my life, a current favorite is the SWEAT app by Kayla Itsines (personal trainer & Instagram superstar). With a built in planner, daily circuit work outs & more, meal plans, community boards and educational reads, this app has it all & helps me stay accountable and focus on my long-term goals.

…I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these five bullet points are noteworthy. If you’re looking to organize or implement some kind of positive change in your life, try these on for size. Also… stay tuned, because now that I’m blogging again, I’ll be sharing all kinds of fun stuff for clients, photographers and wedding industry friends, including... Personal Stuff… Educational Resources… Inspirational Musings… And of course, Recent WORK! So, let me know in the comments below what you’d like to see, and what you think of this post!

Until next time friends,

Kathryn White