Motivational Mondays: Sacrifices and Ambition

Many of you know I am on vacation in Nicaragua. I came unexpectedly for two reasons: to visit family and to see what the market is like out here for destination weddings. But sometimes we make plans that God ends up laughing at. I got sick with strep throat and had to stop what I was doing to stay home (with my grandma, aunt, and her family) and it was a major eye opener.

Living in a third world country is not easy for many. The opportunities are not around the way that we have them in the states. Yet there are so many of us that still complain on how bad we have it. It’s not until you get out and visit one of these countries that you realize how great you really have it.

I have cousins that have majored as engineers, architects, dentists, doctors, or finance majors and barely make $300 a month, yet we complain that we don’t have the latest trends. I have family members that ride the public bus every where they go with no a/c, yet we complain because our car isn’t a Mercedes or BMW. But one thing I know for sure is that I am so grateful to have the father I have.

My dad left the country when he was 20 years old. In search of better opportunities and because at the time Nicaragua was going through a war that he didn’t believe in and didn’t want to fight for. He moved to Honduras for 5 years and then to Miami. In Miami he worked at a Burger King to provide for my mom and me but not once did he regret leaving his country, he kept promising himself and my mom that he would one day become a computer programmer and he did.

That hunger and ambition was his drive. He had to make sacrifices and leave his country, language, parents, sisters, and family at a very young age to become what he wanted to become because he didn’t want to live a mediocre life. And that’s one of the things he has taught me. He’s always pushed me to find the one thing I love and never give up, to push it enough to where I perfect it and make it in life using my talents. But the most important thing he has taught me is to always put God above all things because He will help you through it all.

Maybe I’m a little homesick right now or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been watching a bunch of people living a not so great life that’s made me so thankful to be where I’m at – all thanks to one man that sacrificed and had the drive to better himself…

I want MY dad to be able to say that all his sacrifices were worth it because they got ME somewhere in life. THAT is enough for me to have that drive and ambition that he once had at 20 years old.

Year in Review: 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, it’s time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future.

2013 ended up being an unpredictable year but nonetheless it was very exciting and kept me on my toes. I set goals for myself this year, and while some didn’t end up working out the way I wanted them to, others ended up happening without me even trying.

I have learned that there are things we try to control but have no control over, that some of the plans we make are not the plans God has in store for us and that in order to be successful one must learn not to give up.

With that being said, I am starting 2014 by challenging myself.

I will put more of my trust and faith in God.

I am setting new goals for myself – personally and career-wise.

I will get over my fear of flying because I know and believe that I will be shooting a wedding in foreign land, this year.

And I am also expanding my creativity into new and upcoming projects! It will not be an easy task but I know that 2014 holds lots of new and exciting things in my life.

Wedding Wednesdays: 5 Things I can’t live without!

As a wedding photographer I constantly find myself having to research what’s new, what’s needed, and what’s not! I’m always trying to find things that will make carrying my gear around easier and more convenient for me. I’m 5’1″ and weigh about 102 lbs. so carrying around so much gear can definitely put a strain on my body. Sometimes I find myself rolling out of bed the day after a wedding so of course I’ve already invested in things that make my life easier and things that are necessary as a wedding photographer.

These are my top 5 things I can’t live without as a wedding photographer and don’t know how I managed to work without them before…

#1: Shootsac

I love my Shootsac! I don’t carry two camera bodies on my small body. I’m way too small for that and the weight would kill me the next day. So I’ve learned to become a quick-lens-changer, I can get a new lens on my camera body faster than a bride can make it down the aisle. But my Shootsac lets me carry all my most important lenses on me and I have felt as if it distributes the weight quite perfectly. I also carry around some first aid stuff for my bride and even a small bottle of something for anyone whose nerves need a little bit of relaxing… usually the groom lol. The shootsac is from shootsac.com and runs for about $180 plus shipping.

Wedding Photographer Essentials

Wedding Photographer Essentials #1

I also attach my next new favorite thing onto my Shootsac…

#2: Walkie Talkies and Secret Service Earpieces

I just got these recently and I’ve used them at just one wedding, but it made such an amazing difference, that I really don’t know how I ever photographed weddings without these before! I used these with my assistant photographer, so as the bride and bridal party are lining up to make their entrance my assistant photographer is with them letting me know when they’re getting ready to walk down the aisle, it also lets us communicate during a church ceremony when one of us is in the way of the other while taking pictures. I got these on amazon.com for about $70 with shipping but they were worth every penny. Like I mentioned before, I clip these onto my shootsac, slip the earpiece into my ear, and voila we’re ready to shoot a wedding.

Wedding Photographer Essentials #2

Wedding Photographer Essentials #2

#3: Pelican Case Memory Card Holder

I love this Memory Card Holder, I was on the lookout for a card holder for quite a while but kept coming across the velcro ones and wasn’t too fond of them. I switch my memory cards a lot during weddings (I will explain this in another post maybe later on) so the last thing I want to do in the middle of a ceremony is having the velcro disrupt the ceremony when I’m ripping it apart. The Pelican Case one is a hard shell case with foam inside of it and fits 12 SD Cards and a couple of Micro SD cards. I use Nikon so I use SD cards but I know they carry these for Canon CF Cards as well. I love that it has a clip to close it so there’s no magnets involved as well as velcro. I slip this in my Shootsac as well and switch memory cards when I need to. I also purchased this through amazon.com and the model is the 0915 that replaced the 0910.

Wedding Photography Essentials #3

Wedding Photographer Essentials #3

#4: Wrist Strap

I recently purchased a Wrist Strap for my Nikon d600 and I’m loving it. The day after a wedding my hand usually feels like it’s on fire from carrying around the weight of the camera all day and even though I use a neck strap the weight is a killer on your wrist. So this little piece of invention is great to help you hold on to the camera and feel as if the weight is being distributed a little more evenly throughout your hands it also doesn’t get in the way of your fingers and the buttons. I also got it through amazon but can’t remember how much I purchased it for. I do know they have plenty to choose from and all styles and prices.

Wedding Photographer Essential #4

Wedding Photographer Essential #4

and finally…

#5: Pelican Case 1510

I had been after a Lowepro roller for quite a while but after talking to one of my friends, he suggested instead of getting a Lowepro I should get a Pelican Case for my camera and equipment. Reason being that the Pelican Case is made just like the Memory Card Holder, it’s got a sturdy shell, and is waterproof, crush-proof and dust resistant unlike the Lowepro. It also has wheels, which let’s face it, it’s just what I needed since I don’t want to carry that much weight around. So after much research I decided to go for one and purchase it through amazon.com again because they have the best deals and sometimes they’ll ship your stuff for free. The Pelican Case has foam that you can pick and pluck to make sure your equipment fits nice and tight so that it won’t move all over the place. These usually run for about $280 and I managed to buy one for $150 plus free shipping brand new.

Wedding Photographer Essentials #5

Wedding Photographer Essentials #5

So there you have it those are the 5 Essential Items I believe every wedding photographer should invest in to make your life much simpler!

Zach and Jody – you guys have inspired me

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Today was probably one of the most difficult days I’ve gone through since I started up my photography business. Stats say about 80% of small businesses fail within the first five years. I’ve passed half of that time limit, but … Continue reading

2012 Reflection – Wonder what 2013 will bring?

It’s official, 2012 is coming to an end and it’s been one heck of a rollercoaster ride for me! I have learned so much this year, it’s unbelievable. Here’s a reflection on my year:

– I learned I’ve definitely got a Type A Personality, I’m competitive and I am my own worst critic. I am always on my toes and a major multi-tasker. Which is exactly why I enjoy weddings.

– I never fully marketed myself out there because I kept thinking I still wasn’t good enough. And I still think so, I just have to realize that even though I may not think that I am good enough, others do, and others will. I just have to be more confident.

– I learned never to trust Valet with my car on a wedding day. And to make sure your Second Shooter has their own car.

– I learned that in order to have a good and successful team, you have to have people that are reliable, that you can trust, and that aren’t only looking out for themselves. These people are hard to find but when you do, you won’t let them go!

– I learned how to dress brides, fix their makeup and their hair, and even how to calm them down when they’re freaking out.

– Wedding Portraits always come out better when they’re done on a separate day, but not all couples will agree to do that.

– The prettiest brides always think they have the biggest flaws. They don’t realize how beautiful they really are, especially on their wedding day.

– I also learned to have benadryl on me if I have to do outdoor portraits and there’s mosquitoes and ants, oh and to always carry my epipen with me in my shootsac. lol

– There are no sick days in photography, especially on a wedding day. You also don’t get fed sometimes, even though you’re working for 8-10 hours.

– I realized Weddings are my favorite thing to shoot, but I also enjoy kids, especially the ones that like to be in front of the camera.

– I definitely learned not to post anything online, unless you have a Model Release form signed, especially if it’s a picture of someone’s kid. Thank God for PPA.

– Some people don’t care about quality they just care about the price. Others will love the quality and make sure they pay what it’s worth to obtain the best.

Overall, 2012 was a year I’ll never forget. I opened up my own studio in May. Photographed more weddings than I ever could’ve imagined I would. Made some great photographer friends, lost others because of their big heads. But I wouldn’t change anything about it and I’m ready for whatever 2013 brings, especially the new projects God is putting on my plate.

That’s another thing I learned – God will never let you down and when you feel like you want to give up, God will definitely be there to help you push through anything. All you have to do is have a little bit of faith. I mean… I know I couldn’t have done any of the stuff I did this year without him.

“We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there, too”

I spent the whole entire day editing, designing albums/guestbooks, and coming up with ideas for my next sessions. Thank God my job allows me to do that from the comfort of my own bed but I realized I get my best ideas and everything starts flowing when I’m listening to music. I wanted to share what my top 10 favorite bands/musicians to listen to are when I’m editing… and from now on maybe I’ll carry some music with me on my next sessions, so if you see me pull out a speaker system with an ipod don’t be surprised lol, I’ve realized people loosen up when there’s music playing in the background and I get more inspired… so here’s my list, what do you guys listen to?

15. Audioslave

14. Michael Buble

13. Matt Nathanson

12. Ingrid Michaelson

11. Vega4

10. Red Hot Chili Peppers

9. Third Eye Blind

8. Keith Urban

7. La Rocca

6. One Republic

5. Hillsong United

4. The Fray

3. Snow Patrol

2. Goo Goo Dolls

1. Coldplay

I couldn’t do 10, sorry… I tried, lol but if you guys have never heard of numbers 11-15 you should check them out, they’re pretty amazing.