How I Rocked My Wedding Biz

Oh, hello, stranger. It's been a while. I'm sorry for not updating for a while, but life gets that way sometimes. I'm popping in to share a little more of my story about moving my business across the country. I was recently interviewed about this on the Rock Your Wedding Biz podcast! Please take a listen if you have time :) I'll be posting another blog post very soon, and I promise it will be a juicy one.


My Favorite Podcasts


I know social media makes my job look like all I do all day is dance to Whitney Houston and eat cake, but sadly, that's not true. In fact, the most time is spent editing and not eating cake. One day, that ratio of time to cake will change.

Editing photos is tedious because it's repetitive, time consuming, and if I'm being honest, the most boring part of my job. I'd much rather be out shooting and interacting with real live humans.

I tend to nit pick, re-edit, and be indecisive about the best way to put the finishing touches on something. Because of this, I spend hours editing photos and video. It's a curse.

So on editing days (aka most of my days) after my morning pep talk and a cup of coffee (or 4), when I sit down at my computer the first thing I do is turn on my podcasts.

Podcasts are the one thing that have helped really get work done. They are the best kind of go-between from music (which helps zone out) and an audiobook (which I need to give my full attention to). There are podcasts for whatever mood I'm in, whether I just want to know a good story, if I need to laugh, or if I'm needing inspiration.

I currently have about 20 different podcasts that I listen to on any given day, but I have my favorites go-to listens.

These are my top 5 favorite podcasts that get me through my work day

1. My Favorite Murder

I think Karen and Georgia would be proud to see that I'm putting this on here first, just get it out in the open: I'm a hardcore murderino. But you may have already known that.

It's probably because my parents exposed me to too much Unsolved Mysteries as a child. I love a good true crime story. And I also think they give some great self defense advice.

I don't have a favorite episode, but I do suggest you give this podcast a few episode listens before you cast it aside. These two are so endearing to me, between their mispronunciation of basically every town/city they talk about, Elvis the cat's true love of cookies, or Georgia continually saying the word attic as "addict" (I think she's trolling us at this point). Anyway, they tend to veer off topic a lot but it always makes me laugh. 

2. The Secret Life of Weddings

This show was sent to me from the gods of wedding photography. It really puts things into perspective for me and I also love drama so this is right up my alley. If you want to hear about some of the weirdest, most outrageous, and or just plain disgusting stories from weddings, this podcast has it all.

I really liked this episode which involves a hilarious TRUE story featuring the great Chris Farley.

 Real footage of me listening to this podcast.

Real footage of me listening to this podcast.

3. How did this get made?

My husband got me into this show, and I'm so glad he did. It's the perfect mix of comedy and zone-out content that keeps me entertained. It's literally just a verbal live-tweet of really really terrible movies. The best part is you don't need to actually see the movies they are talking about in order to appreciate how bad they are. 

You might as well start with their commentary of Hollywood cult classic and "the best worst film ever made," The Room. Or, any live episode.

4. The Goal Digger Podcast

I found Jenna Kutcher through my involvement with The Rising Tide Society, a community of creative entrepreneurs dedicated to raising each other up and supporting each other instead of tearing each other down. The main goal is community over competition, a safe place for small business owners to gather and ask for advice and share successes. 

In the same spirit of friendship and building each other up, Jenna's personality oozes through her podcast with so much enthusiasm, I consider it my business motivation station. I doubly relate to Jenna because she's also a photographer, so a lot of what she talks about speaks to me. 

If you're a small business owner (or if you WANT to be a small business owner), this podcast is invaluable. Start with one of the first episodes and just binge your way through the entire thing. 

5. Thinking Sideways

This goes along with my Unsolved Mysteries fascination, but this is a little less murdery than My Favorite Murder. Not every episode is about murder, but every episode is about an unsolved mystery. The hosts do a really great job on researching the topics and each give their theories about what happened. 

Just listen to the Tupac and Biggie episode and you'll understand.

Honorary mention: Being Boss

I'm still fairly new to this podcast, but I definitely think it deserves a mention. This goes along with the Goaldigger podcast, but equally as inspiring is Being Boss. This branches across all types of self-employed businesses and doesn't necessarily stop at creative entrepreneurs. It looks at all facets of business, contains valuable information through interviews, and has just the right amount of mysticism to make me fall in love with their approach to running a business. 


What are your favorite podcasts?

I'm an Imposter

I'm so scared to admit this, but I need to come clean. 

I'm an imposter.

I had never heard of the term Imposter Syndrome until a month or so ago when I heard another creative entrepreneur talk about it. And then I read into it. And it instantly hit home.

 Kevin's famous chili tragedy is what Imposter Syndrome  feels  like IRL.

Kevin's famous chili tragedy is what Imposter Syndrome feels like IRL.

So what do i mean when I say, "I'm an imposter,"? Am I really a fraud? Have I just been faking this career I've been building for over five years?

The simple answer is no. I pay my taxes and I have contracts and insurance and the right gear and the right software. I take classes and continue to learn new things. I even have a bachelor's degree in Photography from one of the best art colleges in the country. I also have worked on all sides of the photography business, between tracking down copyright infringement, working in the publishing world, writing and selling stories to the media, working with celebrities and photographing a book. I have been paid to travel around the world to places like Paris and London to do something I'm aware anyone could do with any camera.

I'm 100% legit.


But even though on paper I'm more than qualified to call myself a professional, some days (ok, most days) I go through a lot of self doubt. I walk into most situations wondering if I'm going to be able to be "on" enough to know how to pose someone. Or make them laugh. Or even take one decent picture.

It's a weird feeling that no matter how many weddings I shoot or how many babies I photograph, I still go into each session questioning if I really, truly know what I'm doing. It's honestly unfathomable to me that anyone trusts me to take a picture.

And yet, somehow they do.


For some reason, once someone starts making their art into a career, we start to compare ourselves to others and wonder,

"Am I really good enough? Or is this just good luck?"

Art is so subjective, even the Mona Lisa gets criticized. So I think it's common for artists to feel like any success is a fluke. One day someone will see through the good luck and right-place-right-timing and reveal the little rosy-cheeked old man behind the curtain who is just pressing buttons to control their giant flaming head puppet.


Because I am constantly second guessing my abilities as an artist, any mistake I make feels like a suffocating shame monster that sits on my chest for months or even years. Mistakes will replay in my mind like the moments before a car accident, where if I had just done one thing differently I could've avoided it. 

This way of thinking holds me back from allowing myself to progress and move on.

I recently watched Spielberg on HBO, and I really recommend any creative that feels this way to watch it. Confidence might be overrated. Steven Spielberg feels like he's winging it most of the time he gets to set. He still does his job, figures it out, and has obviously been very successful.

But there is always a part of him before that clapperboard snaps that thinks, can I really pull this off?

There are going to be moments, where you get to set, and you are not going to know what the hell you’re doing. It happens to all of us; you’ve got to guard that secret with your life. Let no one see when you’re unsure of yourself … or you lose the respect of everyone.
—Steven Spielberg quoting his mentor Henry Hathaway

Another notable person who probably has Imposter Syndrome is Gilbert Gottfried. In the incredible documentary Gilbert, he says:

“I don’t know if I ever had a clear vision of what success is going to be, and whatever it is it’s always different, the way things turn out are always different from what you imagine them.”

This voiceover is heard over a clip of Gilbert eating his free continental breakfast by himself at whatever Holiday Inn Express he's staying at on the road. Something he's doing while he continues to work and support his family by being a successful professional comedian.

These documentaries gave me an epiphany:

maybe if I feel like I don't know what the hell i'm doing, I am actually doing it the right way.


This is a little embarassing to admit but since I'm already admitting that I'm a human, I might as well throw this anecdote into this post.

I recently saw a psychic. Honestly, it was just something fun that I wanted to do with my best friend. I went into the reading with zero expectations.

In another documentary on two great artists, Jim and Andy, Jim Carrey mentions that in the early 90's, a psychic predicted that he'd have 3 movies in a row that would make him famous. That same year he made Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber.

So, what did I have to lose, really?

This reading was not for the future. Instead, it was a reading to reveal something that was holding me back from obtaining my dreams. An energy clearing, of sorts. Yeah, I know. It sounds super hippy dippy. But I'm pretty hippy dippy so I was into it.

I didn't tell the psychic anything about myself before the reading, and all I really did was lay there and meditate while she played music and did whatever clairvoyants do to see into your soul.


The crazy thing is, the reading was spot on. She told me exactly what I already knew was my biggest issue: my self doubt.

"All I could see was this fog of self doubt. You are constantly questioning if you are good enough. Know that this isn't true, and you need to get rid of this mindset."

She then encouraged me to do my work for myself, to not worry about what others think of what I make, and success would follow.

Now that I'm aware of my Imposter Syndrome, I'm learning to embrace my self doubt. All the "not knowing," the anxiety, the tendency to focus on my mistakes is probably the reason I'm successfully working as an artist.

Every experience, whether it's good or bad, helps me learn and grow. Every mistake is a, "Well, I guess I'll never do it THAT way again."

Being my own worst critic is the reason I am just the right amount of paranoid to be good at what I do. I've been doing this long enough that, similar to a psychic, I can predict worst case scenarios -- and in some instances, have experienced those worst case scenarios.

My anxiety is actually making me better at my job

I'll probably always feel like some sort of imposter if I base my worth on what someone else thinks. So now, I'm going to focus on making more work for myself. I'm going to embrace my weird ideas and make them. And I'm not really going to care if you like it, or even if you look at it.

That's why I became an artist in the first place, right?

 Me putting myself on a pedestal. I was super uncomfortable up there.

Me putting myself on a pedestal. I was super uncomfortable up there.

the recipe for the perfect wedding day timeline

I don't usually post recipes here, but I'm asked for this one a lot, so here it is. The formula for the perfect wedding day timeline is as follows:



One whole date to get married.

A dash of Google (for sunset time).

A full-bodied family shot list.

Your venue's end time.


Optional garnishes (for more flavor):

- A first look

- Old + New traditions during the reception

- A special exit

- 1-3 planning buddies with opinions*

*Suggested serving size for opinions: your fiancé(e), best man/maid of honor/immediate family member, a wedding planner or a photographer. do not exceed three people for timeline input lest you get too salty.

1. Start with your wedding date. What time will the sun set on that day?


Search "Sunset + [Your Wedding Date] + [Event Location]" to find the approximate time the sun will set on the day of your wedding. Ideally you will have this time to do portraits to take advantage of Golden Hour.

2. measure how long you want your ceremony to be.


Some ceremonies are quick and to the point, others are filled with mini ceremonies, readings, traditions, and prayers that lengthen the run time. Ask your officiant how long your ceremony will take (or if you don't have one yet, the average time is 15-30 minutes for less traditional ceremonies, and 45-90 minutes for religious ceremonies). Once you know the approximate length of time, stick the start time before Golden Hour.

3. start the ceremony before Golden hour 


Now that you've figured out when the sun sets, count backwards two hours. This is the most ideal time of day for outdoor light, often referred to as "Golden Hour".

You'll want this time for family photos and couple's portraits. So, once you know how long your ceremony will be, place it right before the start of Golden Hour to have ample amount of time for portraits with the most ideal lighting after your ceremony. I like to also add a 15 minute cushion to the start time just in case of delays.

So, for example, a half-hour ceremony should be set to start no later than two hours 45 minutes before sunset (30 minutes for ceremony + 15 minute buffer). 

If you're getting married during the months when the sun sets earlier, consider doing a first look and family photos before your ceremony to save time and still grab those naturally lit outdoor photos.

*Your ceremony time is your mother dough for building out the rest of the timeline, so it's important to make sure it's set before continuing onto step 4.

4. Work backwards from your ceremony start time.


Would you rather have family photos taken before or after the ceremony? See step 7 to estimate timing, but usually this takes about 20-30 minutes on average.

Do you plan on having a first look? This usually takes about 10-30 minutes and starts on average 1-2 hours before ceremony. See step 5.

How long will it take you to get ready? Talk to your hair/makeup artist (ideally during your trial run) about how long to expect your hair and makeup to take. Factor in anyone else getting their hair and makeup done with you. No matter what, you should always go last. This assures that your look is the freshest for the day. If you want to do a first look, your makeup should be done and you should be in your dress/suit no later than two hours before the start of your ceremony

5. Add in the time for the first look (optional)


Are you and your partner getting ready in the same spot? Or will you meet at the ceremony site? Make sure you factor in the time it will take to get to each other before your schedule the first look.

First looks don't take too long (about 5-10 minutes of time to see each other and get all the emotions out, then another 15-20 minutes for some portraits together.)

30 minutes should be plenty of time for a first look. If you plan on having one, add it in no less than 45 minutes before your ceremony start time, which ideally is before guests begin to arrive (to assure privacy).

6. Figure out how much of the getting ready process you need captured


If you want every detail from your rings to the ceremony site before guests arrive to you and your bridal party hanging out sipping mimosas, have your photographers start no less than 2 hours before your ceremony start time. If you're doing a first look, add in a half hour. If you are doing family photos beforehand, add in another half hour.

7. Make a Family Grouping List


This is the most varied portion of the day. Some couples have small families and it takes 15 minutes to pose everyone on their list. Others like to include every combination of everyone, and it can take upwards of an hour to capture.

To make a family grouping list:

Start by listing all your immediate family members on each side (anyone you need pictures with).

Add in names of any friends you also need photos with.

Mix and match these names so everyone is covered.

List individual photos as well as photos you want with your spouse in them (example: Bride + Mother of the Bride, Bride + Groom + Mother of the Bride, etc)

Add up the number of shots on your list of groupings. Multiply that number by 2 to have a good, safe estimate for how long that portion of the day will take.

Add this time in either immediately before the ceremony start or immediately following the ceremony.

8. Think about the traditions you want included in your reception


Will you have a first dance? What about family member dances? Bouquet toss? Garter toss? Anniversary dance? Cake cutting? Horah? Or maybe you want to have a surprise performance or unique game to personalize the reception.

Talk to your planner and DJ about the traditions you want to include, and what you want to leave out. Depending on how long you have your venue for, it's best to prioritize the traditional parts of the reception right at the start. Usually there is 2-4 hours of reception time, so try and do all the traditions and put them up front within the hour immediately following dinner and speeches so you can end with the dance party.

To save even more time, do the traditional dances (first dance, father/daughter, and mother/son dance) right when you do your grand entrance (before dinner service).


9. Sprinkle in the speeches


Who do you want to give toasts? An average speech shouldn't last longer than a few minutes, but we all know those friends and family members who can speak for 45 minutes if given the opportunity. I recommend the speeches, blessings, and toasts all to be done once guests are seated for dinner. That will give you at least an hour to cover speeches from everyone, and you don't risk cutting into the time you'd rather spend dancing!

10. Top it all off with a special exit for garnish (optional)


This is a way to say "this is the end." Special exits tend to round out a story of the day, whether that's one dramatic photo with sparklers, or a special delivery of after-party food for your guests (a welcome surprise for anyone hitting that open bar!) This not only gives you something to look forward to at the end of the night, but also rounds out what can only be described as a "perfect day."


Now that you have the secret recipe, you are on your way to cooking up the perfect timeline! Just add in some personal touches, remove/add in what you need and don't need.

Run your timeline by both your photographer and coordinator to confirm you have ample time for everything.

Click here to view a sample timeline!

sweet baby angle {part 1: light}

{This is a series on my blog I've lovingly named Sweet Baby Angle (any Murderinos reading this?) where I'll dive into some tips and tricks for making your photos better and more socially acceptable.}

 New band name, I called it.

New band name, I called it.

In the age of social media, we constantly see photos flashing in our eyeballs. Some are really beautiful, some are really funny, and some are what your former high school classmate ate this morning (spoiler alert: it's soggy-looking cereal. #breakfastofchampions #blessed).

It's easier to take a bad photo than it is a good one. Even Martha Stewart can make 5-star quality food look disgusting.

But imagine there was a way to make that boring bowl of cereal look as if Gordon Ramsey poured the milk himself.

lighting 101: the basics of finding the "pretty food" light

 Pro tip: Always ask for a table by the window.

Pro tip: Always ask for a table by the window.

Seek soft, natural, indirect sunlight. 

There are a few reasons why natural light is my favorite to work with, especially with food: it's easily accessible, it makes colors look true to life and it is soft and flattering.

 I can almost taste the pink champagne in this photo.

I can almost taste the pink champagne in this photo.

The indirect light is what you want to look for when photographing people (to avoid squinting) and food or other objects to avoid highlights being blown out, colors looking off, and too much contrast.

 Dogs are naturally drawn to window light and I trust a dog's judgement more than most.

Dogs are naturally drawn to window light and I trust a dog's judgement more than most.

Avoid mixing Artificial Light with daylight

If I'm photographing something inside, I turn off any type of lighting that's on when the sun is out. Most artificial light gives off a yellow, magenta, or orange hue, while natural light tends to be cooler. And a fun fact about light is it bounces around like a bouncy ball on a trampoline. It reflects and refracts. Meaning, if you stand near a red wall, you will turn pinker because of the light bouncing off the wall and landing on you. Remeber the white/gold blue/black dress incident of 2015? Light can literally change the color that something actually is.

So turn off those lights (if you can), open up those shades, and plop your subject next to a window!

 I turned off all the lights in the room for this photo.

I turned off all the lights in the room for this photo.

keep the flash off

Sometimes the sun just isn't out, or you're not close to a window-- but you really need to take that picture. Do me a favor and turn off your flash. Wait, don't panic! It's ok! We can do this together. Take a look around, and pay attention to the light that is available. Many times you don't need to turn your flash on when you're inside. A flash pointing straight at your subject can ruin a photo. Use available artificial light to your advantage. Seek out any light that isn't your camera's flash option, and place your subject next to it. 

 This chandelier helped a brother out so much with this shot.

This chandelier helped a brother out so much with this shot.

keep the light at an angle. a triangle.

Most of my favorite photos always have the light source angled toward the subject at a 45° angle. 


If you drew a line between the light source, the photographer, and the subject, it should always form a triangle. Position the light source off to the side of the camera, in-between you and your subject.

 Facts: This was taken with the natural light at a 45° angle tip in mind. Also, Barry (right) weighs 100 lbs now.

Facts: This was taken with the natural light at a 45° angle tip in mind. Also, Barry (right) weighs 100 lbs now.

if you need to back light, block the light

A good way to blow out a photo is to point the lens right at the light. So if you wanna get all artsy fartsy and backlight your photo, make sure something is blocking the light from going directly into your lens at full force, or you risk losing detail in your subject.

Block the light source with an object in the background or the person/object you are photographing.

 Backlighting with the tree mostly blocking the sun.

Backlighting with the tree mostly blocking the sun.

Letting too much light in can be distracting.

 This is an example of how backlighting can ruin an otherwise cute photo. Looks like poor Olive lost an ear.

This is an example of how backlighting can ruin an otherwise cute photo. Looks like poor Olive lost an ear.

Try to diffuse the light as much as possible when you're outside.

 I waited until the sun was tucked behind those clouds for this photo.

I waited until the sun was tucked behind those clouds for this photo.

When in doubt, find the shade.

Since I'm a huge fan of soft lighting, when I'm outside and the sun is bright I find the shade or a find a way to make shade.


I could probably go even more in depth with lighting, but I think this covers the basics for now! 

Is there anything you want me to cover in the Sweet Baby Angle series? Let me know in the comments!