Babak & Daniella | Beach Engagement

Beach Engagement Session Miami Wedding Photographer

All my client’s personalities are different, including my friends! Many of them are fun and quirky and don’t like the constant public display of affection, let alone getting photographed while this is going on. Babak and Daniella are getting married … Continue reading

Miami Beach Resort & Spa | Annie & Carlos Wedding

Ever meet someone and feel like you’ve known them for years? Like you could possibly become best friends? The minute I met Annie & Carlos at a Bridal show I participated in last year we clicked. Carlos has a great sense of humor and loves Annie more words could ever explain. Annie on the other hand is a laid back, loving girl, full of grace and a good heart. I met them and I immediately fell in love with them. A couple of weeks later we sat down at the studio and we were both sold! I was sold on them because I knew almost immediately that I wanted to tell their story through photographs and they were sold on me because I listened.

I will always be so grateful for both of them – because to me they didn’t become just my clients they became friends! I mean, they even moved all the way from North Miami Beach to my area cause they didn’t want to stay away from me after their wedding! lol 😉

Here’s a sneak peek of their gorgeous wedding this weekend at Miami Beach Resort & Spa.

Dadeland Marriott | Becca and Matt Wedding

Here’s a glimpse of Becca and Matt’s wedding in December at Silver Palm United Methodist Church in the Redlands followed by a beautiful reception at the Dadeland Marriott.

Tips and Tricks on a Sunday: My “Bling Ring Kit

Glitter Wedding Ring Shots

Many of you may have the same problem I’ve had in the past when shooting a wedding. You have all these ideas of detail shots you pre-plan for in your head but when you arrive at your client’s house or … Continue reading

Redland Koi Gardens Wedding | Joseph and Camila

Sparklers wedding exit homestead fl redland koi gardens

I am so lucky to have the most amazing and supportive friends in the world. Many photographers will tell you that they don’t like photographing their friend’s weddings because they want to enjoy it or because they feel like they … Continue reading

Wedding Wednesdays: Why I change my memory cards constantly

As I mentioned in my post last week (5 things I can’t live without) I carry a pelican case memory card holder with me when I shoot weddings. This pelican case holds about 12 SD Cards and a couple of Micro SD Cards, but I love the way it fits in one of my Shootsac pockets and I can access it during a ceremony without creating much distraction.

There’s a ton of different memory card holders but many have a velcro or magnet closure. I don’t believe in using the ones with magnets, because I am very careful with my memory cards and I don’t want to risk the magnet damaging the cards or making me lose my information. The velcro ones are a lot of photographers favorites because they fit a lot of cards and are a little softer to touch. I never really liked them, because of the noise the velcro makes when you try to open it up.

Now, in my memory card holder, you’ll always find 10 memory cards, (2 are always in my d600), making that 12 memory cards total. You’ll find all types of capacity starting from 2GB – 32GB. And here’s how I use them:

I change my memory cards constantly during a wedding and the reason why I do it is because I don’t want to risk a memory card failing on me and having all the images from a wedding get lost. For example, imagine you’re using a 32 GB memory card and you shoot all through the prepping shots and ceremony with it, but when you get to the reception you get a message that says “Memory Card Error” this doesn’t happen very often but it doesn’t mean it’s not bound to happen. The result is that you’ve probably just lost all of the images from the prepping stage to the ceremony and those important family portraits and maybe even the bride and groom’s portraits. On my client’s wedding day that is definitely something I don’t ever want to risk.

So, I start off by using an 8GB Memory Card on Slot 1 of my D600 and a 16GB Memory Card on Slot 2. Slot 1 is recording all the shots in RAW and Slot 2 is recording all the backup shots in JPEG. The 8GB card on Slot 1 is only used during the prepping stage of the wedding. Once I get into my car to drive off to wherever it is that I have to go for the ceremony, I grab the card from Slot 1 and put it in my memory card holder backwards. That way I know that the memory card has images I have not backed up on my hard drive or computer. When I get to the ceremony, I slip in another 16GB Memory Card on Slot 1 and once again record all the shots in RAW of the ceremony and family portraits on that memory card. Once the ceremony is over, I grab that once again, and place it in my pelican case backwards. Then I move on to the Bride and Groom’s Portraits which I also save on another memory card, usually this is an 8GB one and if I feel like my backup memory card on slot 2 is filled up I replace that one with another 16GB memory card. I make sure all the portraits are saved on one memory card alone, because the bride and groom will most likely never get into their dress and tux again, and certainly won’t get their hair and makeup done again for portraits unless they’ve prepared for it beforehand, so I want to make sure that their portraits will be safe and that nothing will happen to this memory card. As soon as I’m done with the portraits, I place that card into my Pelican Case and move on to my last and final card change which is into a 16GB Card that will store all of the reception photos; from the grand entrance to the toasts and shots of people dancing. All while making sure everything is being backed up in JPEG.

Now you may think it’s ridiculous that I use so many memory cards but I definitely don’t think so. I think I’m just being safe rather than being sorry later. I also love to back things up as JPEG because there’s so many photos I feel like are shot so great in the camera that they don’t need much editing so JPEG will speed up the process of selection and editing. I also have now started to do Mini Teasers for the Bride and Groom to see their photos at their reception that, obviously, having the photos in JPEG will make it easier to upload them to my computer and create a slideshow for them to see in as little as 10 minutes. I will probably talk about that in another post later! But it’s definitely been a major hit at the last few weddings where I’ve done it.

So there you have it, those are the reasons why I change my memory cards constantly and why I decided to go for a pelican case memory card holder instead. I’m sure my bride and groom don’t want to be listening to a velcro being ripped apart in the middle of their ceremony because I need to change cards and I  don’t want to risk using a magnet closure to corrupt my cards. I also went for a Camera that has 2 memory card slots instead of just 1 which I think is something most wedding photographers should look into.

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: Finding an Assistant Photographer

I have a couple of Second Photographers I completely trust with my eyes closed during a wedding. Meaning I know that IF I have to rush to the bathroom during the first dance or toast they’ll be able to take full control of the situation and shoot just as if I was the one shooting. This really has never happened but you always have to think 5 steps ahead during a wedding, because you just never know.

Weddings are not something you can really predict, anything can happen, and by anything I mean from getting your car lost at a Hotel’s Valet to getting a flat tire and being late to the ceremony or being sick to the point of throwing up and not being able to stand for very long. Not that these things have happened to me, (except for the first one, my car did get lost at the Bride’s prepping hotel) but I’m always thinking about all the wrong things that can happen during a wedding, that way if they ever DO happen, I’m already prepared and have a Plan B or Plan C up my sleeve.

This is why I find it imperative that all photographers use an assistant photographer during a wedding and I always include one in all my collections, because brides just expect the day to be perfect and sometimes are not very realistic.

The hard part comes down to finding the right assistant photographer. When I was searching for one, I would go on Facebook, I would google photographers in Miami, I would ask around, and I even considered training people I knew, to be my second photographer. I started off doing weddings with my boyfriend’s cousin, Danny, and he was amazing because as a guy he knew exactly how to deal with the grooms, but I knew it wasn’t really his thing. Danny was more into the cars and the artists than he was into doing weddings. So I had to move on and find someone else so he could venture on his own stuff. So of course I had to try new people and different eyes but always researching them first.

My second thing was meeting with them and talking to them, seeing that they would agree to my terms while always making sure I was being considerate of their own feelings and terms. Just because their “second shooting” for me doesn’t mean I have to treat them as if they’re below me, NO! if anything I want them to feel extremely comfortable with me so that it’s pleasant to work with one another.

I, unlike other photographers, let my second shooters keep their photos and give them a USB for them to place their images on. But I let them know my terms ahead of time. I don’t want my second shooters friending my clients on their facebook or instagram, or uploading their images and taking the credit as if they found the client. They can credit the image as them taking it but my client doesn’t need to know that or see them posted everywhere else but my page. At the end of the day they ARE representing my business and they need to understand that. Why do I let them keep their photos? because I want them to be able to access them years later and see how they were shooting before and how far they’ve come. I want them to see the difference in their own work and be proud of it. I want them to build their own portfolio and I am not that greedy photographer that needs all the credit to herself. That’s not what I’m here for, I’m here to photograph YOUR day not make it about myself.

I do believe if you want to find someone and train them or mold them to do things the way you like them to be done you can do that, but don’t forget just because you’re training them doesn’t mean they’ll see things the way you see them behind the lens. I also don’t expect my second photographer to take the most important photos, that’s MY job, that’s why the couple hired ME. They hired Andrea, because they like Andrea’s style so the portraits will always be done by me. I want my assistant photographer to shoot what I’m not shooting, meaning if I’m shooting the Bride and Groom during the ceremony and the bride’s mom is crying in her seat, I want my assistant to photograph that. I also like to make sure that my second shooter is professional at all times, does not have an attitude with my clients or their guests, dresses the part, and FINALLY just has FUN! I want them to just have fun at all times and to feel like I’m their friend and not a boss, because I don’t consider myself to be their boss, they’re independent contractors that are doing what they love and doing me a favor. My second photographers own their own businesses and I try to make sure to book them ahead of time, but if they book something of their own I am understanding about it and always have more than one to go to that can back me up.

Motivational Mondays: When you feel like giving up (a day late)

Last night, I opened up this window to begin writing my motivational monday blog post but for some reason the words just weren’t flowing through my fingers. I knew I wanted to write about when you feel like giving up, but I couldn’t write anything about it because I have days where I feel like giving up and the advice I give to others I don’t listen to, myself.

This morning, I woke up, went out and did some errands and when I came home I opened up my facebook. I came across a post from Browntography a photographer I follow not so closely; but close enough, to know how amazing her work is and her personality. Her post really made me sad, even though her business is not coming to an end, she is taking a break, a much needed one, but it’s still a break. And that’s when I realized I’m not the only one that wants to give up on the business. There were plenty of days when I felt like I was the only one going through the worst times and now I realize I’m not, and it doesn’t make me feel good, if anything it makes me feel worse. Only because I know Brownie (Kathy) started her business pretty much at the same time I did, along with other photographers that I know are going through a rough time.

People just don’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to work a regular job and run a photography business. A photography business where you have to be a receptionist, secretary, bookkeeper, photographer, editor, deliverer, designer, negotiator, etc. It’s very hard to wear so many hats and people not appreciating the value of your work. The value of the memories you are capturing for them. The value of the heirloom you’re creating for their future family and kids. The value of you spending your weekends or days off from work to do these things FOR them. But then I remembered one of my favorite bible verses, Isaiah 40:31:

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

One of the things that has definitely helped me through the ups and downs of my business is my faith in God. Faith in believing He will not let me down, faith in knowing He will provide, and faith in trusting that He will give me the strength that I need.

I just like Brownie, had to take a break, not from my whole business, but from my studio work and it almost tore me apart even though I knew it was for the best. I knew it was very much needed and I knew that only good things would come out of it. So far my decision has not been regretted, because I know God has a much better plan for me than the one I could plan for myself.

Whenever you feel like giving up, on whatever it is that you’re going through, know that God will always have your back and that there’s a reason why He’s allowing you to go through these struggles. After all, when life brings you to your knees you’re in the perfect position to pray.

And as for artists; there will always be a gap… what matters is that you never quit…

Artists gap

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!

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: Photographer Role Model/Mentor

If you follow me on instagram you probably read how I was ecstatic the other day because Jody Gray liked one of my pictures on instagram and wanted to use what I said as a testimonial for them. May sound dumb, I know, but it meant a lot and I’ll tell you why.

I feel that in order to really grow as a photographer you can either attend workshops, assist a couple of photographers, or just research and practice a lot. But the most important thing I believe anyone can do is to find a photographer that really fits your style, your personality, and speaks to you while teaching. If this photographer is willing to take you under their wing or mentor you then do it. Whether or not you get paid for assisting, but the experience you’ll gain will be like no other.

I have been following a couple of photographers for quite a while, both locally and nationally. On instagram, twitter, facebook, workshops, WPPI, you name it. I’ve been following many of them through social media. One of my favorite wedding photographers has always been Jasmine Star, she’s amazing and I admire her for always looking so neatly dressed while shooting a wedding, I really don’t know how she does it! lol But I came across Zach and Jody Gray recently through a workshop and ever since the first time I watched them I was hooked!

They’re God-loving, creative, and a very smart couple that work together photographing weddings and have been doing it for quite a while. They’re based in Nashville, so unfortunately having them take me under their wing is completely out of the question but their live workshops online and advice are like no other! The best part is that they’re willing to share so much of their information, that a lot of other photographers really don’t want to share with you.

I truly do believe finding a photographer that matches your style and personality and learning from them is one of the best ways you can move further in the creative field. There’s so many ways to do this now a days through technology you don’t even have to feel like you’re in a classroom setting, you can do it from the comfort of your own home in your pjs the important part is that you actually do it!