{Bridal Show Booth} | Fort Collins & Denver Wedding Photographer | BlueHaus Studios

Being a wedding photographer isn't always easy. I am constantly looking for new ways to market and expand my business, and the bridal show route is a great way to get started. I have been shooting for a long time, but have a newer business in the Fort Collins/Northern Colorado area and wanted the opportunity to get some face time with local brides. Overall, I felt like it went really well. This is definitely not an all-extensive super detailed post, but I did want to talk about a few things I learned.

 Excuse the picture quality, there was only an iphone on-hand that day.

Excuse the picture quality, there was only an iphone on-hand that day.

The Pretty Booth:

I have really tried to put a large amount of effort into branding my business. I personally love the feel of the vintage/DIY weddings, and would love to ultimately attract those types of clients. Of course I still love classic weddings and will always be open to doing them, but if I were to define my style I would say that I love the details. I think having consistent branding has been really helpful so far. My booth was covered in BlueHaus branding, and I got a lot of compliments. I had loaded it with blue & white (my colors), lace/burlap, old cameras, baby's breath, and even created a hanging contraption for photos out of my lighting stands. Creativity is key, especially when you want to keep your expenses down. Some people who had already booked a wedding photographer were even asking if I styled weddings?! Lesson learned: How you present yourself will determine what kind of clients you get. If you want people to appreciate and know the value of your work, show them why you are valuable. Branding helps achieve this. My office looks very similar to my booth by the way.

Creating Value: 
Brides are really busy, and bridal shows often overwhelm people with information. My goal of the day was to put my best foot forward (with the amazing help of my husband as well as my assistant, Kim) and get information so I could directly follow-up with the brides we talked to and book consultations. To create some value, we did a drawing for a $25 gift card to Victoria's Secret. What girl doesn't need this (bride or not)? Seriously. On the drawing form, I had them put their name, number, and email, as well as check a box on whether or not they wanted information on 1. Wedding/Engagement Photography, 2. Boudoir Photography, or 3. Both. I should have added "portrait photography." This gave me an excellent leads list to follow-up with, and I imagine I will be seeing more of these people book with me (whether wedding or portrait photography) in the future. Lesson Learned: Even if you're not seeing a ton of immediate results, if you get contact information and have a marketing plan of how to follow-up with people (i.e. email, email again, phone call, email again), you are almost guaranteed to reap some rewards. Sometimes it might just be a matter of when and how! Brand awareness is huge, and people have to see a brand 7 times before it resonates. Thus, why sticking with it and being consistent is important.

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Was it worth the investment?
This is to be determined. I might be hitting the Denver market for another bridal show in the future because it's a much bigger market, but I do feel like this was well worth my time.  I felt organized and well prepared; not bad for our first NoCo show. We'll see how many bookings come through. I am glad, however, that I invested in product and a few things to fill my booth. I have a new couch and rug, which get to double as a business expense, and I am readily prepared for my next show. 

I would love to hear about some of your bridal shows experiences in the comments sections ;).

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Photographer {Guest Blogger from the UK}

I want to introduce an article written by our guest blogger, Jonathan Griffiths. He is a photographer and blogger from the UK, and offers a great perspective on choosing the right wedding photographer. There may be some differences here in states, but the fundamentals are definitely the same. Enjoy!-Ashley

You decide you want a photographer at your wedding to picture every moment that will last for the rest of your life. You want them to be perfect, but you also want every key detail to be frozen in time so you can look back on. Choosing a photographer isn’t easy and should be high on the to-do list. You will want to look stunning 50 years from now and a professional photographer can do just that!

Style of Photographer

You wouldn’t want plain old boring black and white photos would you? There are many styles to consider when choosing the one for you. Some may go for the traditional style or reportage style. The most popular modern choice is the reportage approach, this style allows the photographer the freedom to take photos of guests without them knowing, giving the images a natural but professional appeal. Research is needed for this but you will already have an idea as to what you want for your wedding day.

What equipment they have!

Photographers either use digital or film, both produce spectacular high quality images but differ when manipulating them. Most people agree that film produces better quality images when enlarged, but digital are easier to manipulate by adding effects or altering different aspects. It’s also important to see if they will have an assistant attend with them for the wedding. This is very important in case anything goes wrong, remember to check if an assistant comes with the package the photographer offers. Normally expensive wedding packages will state they will have an assistant with them at all times. If they use their i-phones to take pictures and then edit with an app, surely these are the ones to avoid?...

Compare prices:

Professional wedding photographers aren’t going to be cheap if you want quality photos, but also the rights to own them. You will need to consider how long you want them there for, how many photos you want to keep after the wedding and if you want a pretty photo album to keep them in or not. For high quality professionals with all the perks, expect to pay around 2-3k, lower end photographers cost around £500 up to around 1.5k.  Most photography sites offer different packages for different people, cheaper prices will give you the least amount of photographs and a smaller amount of coverage hours by the photographer.

Booking early!

Booking your chosen photographer is key, as they may already have a lot of bookings and the date you chose may already be taken. Make sure you first find out if they are free on whichever day you are getting married and the rest will fall into place. It helps to build up a list of your favourite photographers to fall back on if your top option is busy for when you need them for.

Hopefully these four tips help take the stress out of planning a wedding (which probably isn’t possible). Helping you choose carefully and not fall into a trap you can’t reverse. Remember its probably going to be a once in a lifetime day, so remember every detail with the best photographers out there!

Written by Jonathan Griffiths, Photographer and blogger based in Buckinghamshire UK.

http://www.lisagillphotography.com/

PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Product photography is something necessary in my world.  I own an eco-friendly vintage/retro shop, ELEVEN26, and I literally wear all the hats- including product photographer.  As a designer, I taught myself photography because it’s sort of a requirement, as are many skills you’re not often taught as a designer, but for me product photography became a mission.  So, here are few tips I’ve learned along the way, and I hope they’ll help anyone needing/wanting to dive into product photography.

Natural Light

I love natural light.  If I had my preference it’d be natural light all the way.  Unfortunately, we live in a world of many lights, and sometimes the natural light doesn’t work well.  When there’s a perfectly sunny day, and all the elements come together correctly, I’d much prefer natural light when shooting any type of product.  For those times when the clouds impede the use of natural light, I do have some great recommendations that help me along the way.

Table Top Photo Box

This is a lifesaver for those smaller objects that need a crisp background and some height.  I often use my TTPB when shooting jewelry, kitchen items, and other various smalls.  Instead of having to bring out the big guns (backdrops), I just easily set up my TTPB and I’m ready to go.  I love the ease of this box, and that it just folds up simply into a neat little portfolio.  It also comes with various backdrops (white, black, blue, and red) which for editing are amazing.  I often usually only use the white backdrop, but the others have come in handy for editing.

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Light Ring

I ♥ my light ring.  Do you hear me world!?  I LOVE MY LIGHT RING!  OK, that might be a bit dramatic, but I really do find my light ring to be very helpful.  It’s especially helpful when I’m doing some sort of unconventional shoot where I need a lot of light focused on a particular item.  It helps deliver a nice amount of light (and you can adjust the amount of light, the direction of light, etc) directly to an item.  I often use this when I’m doing a staged shoot where the lighting might not be ideal.  Basically with this you just have to make the call on whether it will deliver good light or not for a specific shoot.  Give it a try, experiment, and be ready to fall (sometimes) in love with the light ring!

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Photography Umbrella

Another lifesaver for me is the umbrella.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to using an umbrella.  They can help soften and diffuse the light when nothing else seems to work.  I often use my umbrella attached to my light stand, but sometimes I play around with direction (and even holding the umbrella in just the right area).  I can’t imagine not having this bad boy on my side, so I would suggest adding it to your photography arsenal.

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Well, I hope this helps all the budding product photographers out there, and gives you some basic direction on what items will help you in your pursuit of product photography.  These items are all great staples for any photography, but I just know for product photography they’ve all save my booty on more than one occassion.  Photography is about playing with the elements, adjusting and fine tuning those elements, and getting the best outcome you desire.

Enjoy!

Sarah McMahon Modern Southerner

The BlueHaus Office {Fort Collins Photography Studio}

A quick look into my office/studio space.  I will be posting a more detailed video sometime soon.  Come visit us :). [embed width="650" height"450"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9066qayfXrI[/embed]

Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag Review

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Kelly Moore Bags are all the rage in the photography world right now. Izzy thinks they're pretty stylish!  Not many companies make stylish and functional camera bags, so why wouldn't they be popular?  Photography is such a "trendy" field to be involved in, so it's nice to have a few options when contemplating your camera bag.  I have been using a medium sized Lowepro bag over the last few years, and I was ready to transition into something a little bit less black and boring.  I still use it for storing extra equipment and for when I need some extra weather protection, but the Kelly Moore B-Hobo bag is now my full-time sidekick when shooting.  I researched bags for weeks before I made my final decision.  Here are some thoughts about the bag if you're contemplating the purchase.

{The Bag} The bag is super cute in terms of the design.  I absolutely love the Turquoise color, and it is semi-consistent with some of my branding.  Honestly, it was one of the reasons I chose the B-Hobo; I hadn't seen any other comparable turquoise bags.  I would say the Turquoise was a little bit darker/greener than I expected, but I have been really happy with it.  The front has a magnetic buckle which is not extremely strong, but does the job to stay closed when you leave the top zipper open.  Also, the bag stands on it's own which is wonderful.  You can tell it's well built in that sense.  There is also an extra strap included, which I anticipate using when I bring this to the next wedding I shoot.  It is light enough to use as a larger purse, but I wouldn't want it to be on my shoulder all day (i.e. walking 10 miles around Paris).  I would say it is extremely useful to use as a daily bag if you won't be on your feet too much.

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{What Fits?} The  B-Hobo has 4 sections for camera equipment, and one section for an Ipad or Tablet.  There are technically 3 dividers which can be easily moved with the built in Velcro system.  I love the purple inside!  You can comfortably fit around 2 lenses (the 70-200 mm is a little tight bit still fits), a flash or water bottle, and your camera body and lens (small lens like a 50 mm).  I don't think there is enough room to fit your battery grip with this particular layout, but if you removed a section I believe you could.  The tablet section is pretty small, meaning there is no way you would get a laptop in there and it was definitely built for tablets.  Overall, if you were shooting a wedding without any external equipment, I think it would do fine if you're not a crazy lens changer.  I stick to the 50 mm prime for most of the day, and use my 70-200 for the ceremony and some portraits, and then take out the Macro and Wide Angle for very few photos.  I would probably switch out the telephoto for the Macro after the ceremony to make everything fit.

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{The Pockets} Excuse the dog hair in the pictures; life of living with a Lab! The bag has a good number of pockets.  You can fit credit cards, memory cards, ChapStick, business cards, and few more smaller items.  I wish the bag had the card wallet pouch that some of the other Kelly Moore bags have because sometimes it feels like you're fishing for memory cards, but if you keep them in one go-to pocket it seems to work fine.  The pockets don't have a ton of room to put any large items in, but it forces you to pack light which is essential for when you're on the go.  I do wish there was a tiny bit more room though because it does kind of feel like I have to squeeze my hand in to get out what I need at times. There is also an extra cell phone pocket on the side, which works well if you have a small cell phone case on.  It is a snug fit, but gets the job done. You could also fit granola bars and some other small snacks in the pocket.

{Conclusion} The bag is overall great.  It does exactly what it is supposed to do, and is not too big and not too small. You can fit pretty much all the camera equipment you need in it for a simple shoot and/or would be a great primary bag for use on a wedding day.  I want more of Kelly's bags, including the Songbird and Libby.  Maybe sometime in the future :).

Shooting in Manual: Breaking the Automatic Bond

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When I first started to get into photography, I only shot in auto mode.  That’s what you do when you know nothing about photography and the power of your camera.  It’s a time where you start to experiment and get comfortable using a DSLR, and are amazed that you can take these amazing photos with your 18-55 mm kit lens.  The image quality is good, and you start to develop an “eye” for great images.  All photographers go through this stage. Auto mode gives you a real taste of what you can do with your camera, and  when you become addicted to learning as much as you can, that is when you will make the most improvements.  There is no shame in shooting in auto mode; heck I still really like some of my images from those days.  However, when I started to learn how to shoot in Manual mode, the quality of my photos greatly increased (as well as purchasing some higher quality lenses).  Here are the basics of shooting in manual, hopefully, in laymen’s terms.

{Light Meter} This helps you determine what you need to adjust in your manual camera settings in order to have proper exposure (i.e. not too dark, not too light).   If you look into your camera and press the shutter half way down as if you were focusing, these images will appear in your viewfinder.  You want your exposure to be at the “0” mark, or slightly higher by a notch or two.  If it doesn't show up on the scale, you will notice in the viewfinder whether you are way over or under exposed, and will need to make the appropriate adjustments with your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

{Shutter Speed} This determines how long the shutter is open for, which basically equates to how much light you are allowing into the photo.  Long shutter speeds (1/20) are usually only used when you have your camera on a tri-pod and don’t anticipate any movement from the subject. Quick shutter speeds (1/2000) are used for sports photography or where you need to capture something in action. You can also modify how light and dark your photos are.  If your image is overexposed, you can bring your shutter speed down (i.e. 1/2000) which would darken the image, or if it is underexposed you can bring it up (I.e. 1/20) which would allow more light into the picture.  I rarely have my shutter speed that high or low, and normally stay with the 1/80-1/500 range;  1/80 for low light or poorly lit areas, and 1/500 for bright, sunny days.

{Aperture/F-Stop } This determines how wide open your lens is.  When you buy a lens, there are numbers written on the side with your aperture settings. On the Canon 18-55 mm lens, the aperture is f/3.5-5.6.  This lens is “wide open” at 3.5 where it lets the most light in, and maxed out at 5.6, which keeps light out.  Within these bounds, when you’re “wide open” you can only focus on a small portion of the subject, versus when your at your maximum aperture, you can keep the entire subject in focus.   You want to be at your minimum aperture setting (3.5) when you are shooting in low light and want good Bokeh (blurry background behind your subject), and your maximum when you’re shooting in bright light and are capturing a group photo (so everyone will stay in focus).  This is where the quality of your lens can make a difference, and buying lens with apertures as low as 1.2 is ideal for both artistic and adaptability reasons.

{ISO} Your ISO setting determines how sensitive you want your light sensor to be.  You want a very low ISO setting (100), and only increase it when you have to.  If you can’t do much to adjust your shutter speed and aperture, then you may have to resort to using your ISO to properly expose your photo.  When using a lower grade DSLR, you will notice a significant deterioration in your images (noise-aka grainy photos) when you pass the 600-800 ISO mark.  High quality DSLRs, however, can go up to an ISO of  6400+ without showing any noise.  The Canon 5D Mark III has max ISO settings of 102,400,  where the Canon Rebel T1i has max ISO settings of 12,800.  You can only imagine how much their performance differs in lowlight settings.

{Tip} I recommend shooting in RAW format, which lets you adjust all of those settings manually on your computer after the fact if you messed up the picture a bit.  RAW format basically stores all of the information from the image, instead of compressing it like a JPEG would do. It does take up more memory card storage.

This post doesn’t cover every manual setting, however, it does detail what I would consider to be the most important settings.  You can also manually adjust your white balance, focus points, or shoot in shutter priority or aperture priority mode which can help breakdown the learning curve of adjusting your shutter speed or aperture settings.   I will cover all of these at a later point in time.  This guide should get you started, and through some experimentation with your camera, you will begin to tell a huge difference in your photos.  Just remember, Practice, Practice, Practice!