The real reason you don't want the RAWs

RAW files suck to look at. There. I just came out and said it.

Sure, yes, in actuality photographers usually prefer to shoot in RAW. I shoot in RAW. I love editing RAW files. But looking at them really sucks compared to the possibilities they give.

RAW, unedited file on the left versus the edited version on the right. I think it’s obvious why I would never deliver the RAW file here.

RAW, unedited file on the left versus the edited version on the right. I think it’s obvious why I would never deliver the RAW file here.

As a client, you shouldn’t ever need or want the RAW files for any reason. And I’m here to explain why.

What are RAW files anyway?

RAW files are uncompressed, straight from camera images. They are unmanipulated and unprocessed. Photographers will shoot on RAW because it keeps the most information possible on the file and allows the highest level of possibilities when editing.

So knowing this, “RAW” sounds great, right? It sounds like something that will give you the biggest file to print from and have the best quality. But what you may not know is that a RAW file needs to have a special program to even open it in. You cannot print RAW files from just any program without converting them to another format first. If you don’t own Photoshop or Lightroom, you probably won’t be able to open it at all.

And I’m going to reiterate what I said earlier, to be clear: RAW files look like shit. They are dull, lifeless, and basic. Sure, they are big files. But why would you want a big file that looks like shit?

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself. These are all before and afters of a RAW file versus an edited file:


Trust me, you don’t want the RAW images. They look like shit compared to the final product. And all that information you think you’re losing? You can’t detect it from looking at it.

Instead ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I need the RAW files?”

  • If it’s because you want to manipulate the files yourself, I want to direct you to my post about copyright.

  • If it’s because you want to see every single image I took at your session or wedding, trust me when I say, you don’t. One thing I promise to my clients is I’ll deliver everything I took as long as it’s flattering and in focus. You don’t want to see the unflattering photos or the photos that didn’t turn out.

  • If it’s because you feel like something is missing, tell your photographer that you think something is missing. Most of the time they either have and it didn’t upload (which sometimes happens, we’re only human), they didn’t capture it at all (we can’t be everywhere at once, unfortunately), or they did capture it but it didn’t come out the way you were expecting.

  • If for some reason you need a bigger file, tell your photographer the size file you need, and they will be able to go back and export it as big as it can possibly go. This always has it’s limits depending on the camera they used, but suffice it to say, it usually can go bigger if need be.

Again, there is no need for the RAW image. Every reason you think you need RAW images for probably has a solution without us needing to show you what was taken straight out of the camera before we put a magic touch on it.

Most photographers won’t want you to see the straight from camera image anyway. It probably sucks.

it's all in the details {the best wedding details i've ever seen}


I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this before! I’ve shot so many weddings, sometimes it can be a blur.

But one thing is for sure: the details are what make all the difference in making your wedding day one-of-a-kind. The right kind of details can also set Pinterest on fire. I’m pretty sure that’s a fact. Trends can take over full eras of weddings (I’m looking at you, mason jars) and someone is always the first to think of doing it.

Here are some of my favorite unique details from weddings I’ve shot (in no particular order):

A Paper Flower Bouquet and Boutonniere


I feel like the one wish I had after my wedding was that I wanted to save all my flowers, especially my bouquet. I wanted to keep my flowers forever. I wish I had thought of getting a custom made paper bouquet (like this one from The Striped Petal). I mean, look at those colors! And they are so realistic, you can almost smell them!

This Wisteria Balloon chandelier


I might have to recreate this to turn into a blog post, because if you can believe it, the piece hanging above my beautiful bride, Rae, was made by her by hand. Each of those white flower petals is actually a popped white balloon tied to a string of green yarn. The leaves are all paper. She strung each of these up by hand to make one very impactful piece that became the centerpiece of her ceremony and later, her dance floor. It was beyond impressive.

Alternative Table Numbers


Who wouldn’t love a twist on table numbers? If you plan on doing a buffet, you don’t really need numbered tables at all. And what better way to bring attention to your centerpieces than by naming each table something unique? In this case, my bride, Nicole, named her tables after famous duos in literature. It was not only creative, but it made everyone look around and laugh when they saw where they were sitting.

A bowtie made of feathers


Sometimes all you need is a little extra touch of something fun. I love a good unique accent for the groom, like a bolo tie, cool cufflinks, or a feather bow tie like this one. You can find similar ones on Etsy or specialty sites.

Leopard Print bridesmaid dresses

(and napkins!)


Leopard is the new blush. I’m calling it.

Hand poured candles in vintage glasses


It’s really difficult to figure out a good wedding favor that your guests actually want and will use after the wedding day. I think the number one complaint from brides and guests alike is that they think wedding favors can be a waste of money. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to get creative and think outside the box. My bride, Kaytee, collected antique colored glasses and poured her own candles for her favors. Every guest had one at their seat along with some personalized matches (which are both useful and cost effective gifts in and of themselves!). They lit up the whole reception, brought a nice touch to the table setting, and made a nice keepsake for after the wedding.

A Michael Jackson Impersonator


Or any impersonator or performance, if I’m being real. Similar to fast food, you don’t know true joy until a cover band or celebrity impersonator walks into a wedding reception and performs a set for the guests. This is one surprise treat your guests will be talking about for years, I promise. I mean, I’ve included it in this blog post, haven’t I?

Living room set ups outside


Why not just bring the comforts of home outside? There is something about sitting on a couch outside that is just satisfying. You don’t normally run into living room decor in nature, so why not make a fun spot for photo ops like this? Dan and Paige used a little Wes Anderson inspiration with their wedding details, and their love of film really came through with some vintage televisions set up around their outdoor venue.

An area rug for a dance floor


This brings a whole new meaning to “cut a rug,” amirite? This goes along with bringing the indoors outside, but maybe instead of renting a dance floor for your wedding day, a rug would make more sense! It’s soft on bare feet, easy to transport, and you can use it after the wedding. Not to mention, it makes a great centerpiece for your reception.

Late Night Fast Food Delivery


A wedding detail doesn’t always have to be decor or a fashion piece. Why not put a personal touch on your day with a surprise delivery from your favorite food truck or late-night fast food spot? Your guests have been drinking all day, and after a few hours on the dance floor, they’ll have built up an appetite. And the reaction of people getting a fast food burger at the end of a wedding? McDonald’s wishes they could pay for that level of excitement in any commercial.

So what do you think? Did you get some inspiration? Do you have any other details you’ve seen from weddings that you loved? When it comes to figuring out all the details of your wedding, it’s all about taking things you like and incorporating them in some way. And who cares if it’s traditional or not; It’s your day, why not have fun?

A letter to my unborn son


Hi. It’s me, your mom. This is a little weird, I know. Even though we haven’t formally met yet, we have spent every minute together for the past 27 weeks.

Sometimes I have to remind myself you’re there. Sometimes you remind me that you’re there. You sleep when I move and you move when I (try to) sleep.

You have already done so much cool stuff I didn’t get to do until I was way older. You’ve been to really cool concerts (like Beyoncé and Jay Z and Elton John and Weezer and the Pixies). I felt you dance during Rocket Man and I wondered if you really could hear what was going on.

You’ve voted with me twice. And I hope you come with me to vote again and I can teach you the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

You’ve voted with me twice. And I hope you come with me to vote again and I can teach you the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

You have already been on a plane 12 times! You’ve been to both coasts, and have seen both oceans. You’ve been to Europe. You have attended more weddings in these 6 months than I’ve been invited to as a guest in my whole life. How many fetuses can say that?

Your favorite food is everything, especially things I can dip into a sauce. Eggrolls with duck sauce, french fries with ranch, carrots with peanut butter. I wonder if you’ll like these things outside of my belly as much as you do inside of my belly. I wonder if you’ll be as good of an eater as you’re making me.

You give me the most vivid and strange dreams. Sometimes I wake up wondering if what I dreamt was real or my imagination. I could never remember my dreams before you came along.

My sense of smell these days is so acute that I wonder if I can use the super power for fighting crime. In fact, that’s the moment I knew you were growing in there. We were shooting a wedding, and I got an overwhelming whiff of limes. I thought someone had spilled lime juice next to me until I saw someone, two tables away, squeezing a single lime wedge into their drink.

I took a test the next day and then I knew for sure. You were there.

bug 3.jpg

Your dad and I spent a long time together wondering when we should bring you into the world. We always knew we wanted you, but we didn’t know if we were prepared. We wanted to be sure you’d be taken care of. And then one day your dad told me he was ready. And suddenly I felt ready.

You must’ve been ready then, too. Because about a week later, you started growing in my belly.

You have made me sober and tired and irritable. I have given up things I’ve loved most in my life like beer and sushi and coffee. I didn’t even eat any cheese in Amsterdam. Do you know how hard it is to say no to cheese in a town that makes cheese? You don’t, but one day you will.

I hope you know, I gave up those things because I love you. And I want you to know that I will do so much more than just that. I will spend the rest of my life doing what I think is best for you.

And you probably will sometimes be mad at me and think that I’m annoying or that I don’t have your best interests in mind, but I promise you, I am going to try my best.

I have loved every second of knowing you already, buddy. Making you has been the coolest art project I’ve ever done.

I can’t wait to meet you. I feel like I already have.



PS Thanks for never making me puke. You did me a real solid there, dude.

Photo of my dear friend  EFW Florals  and her son, Link

Photo of my dear friend EFW Florals and her son, Link

my kinda spooky hobby

This animation was created by my talented husband  Anthony Maiuri , inspired by my hobby

This animation was created by my talented husband Anthony Maiuri, inspired by my hobby

So what does one do when their hobby is their job? They find another hobby, duh!

For me, I like to relax by doing things that exercise my mind but are also a little mindless. In other words, I like challenging myself to learn new things (like knitting, needlepoint, quilting) in addition to things I’ve always liked to do (like reading, listening to podcasts, watching The Office, snuggling with my dogs…).

Over the past year, one particularly abstract (and maybe controversial?) practice has captivated my attention and free time:

Reading Tarot cards.

OK, I know. Many of you are rolling your eyes. Or, maybe you think this is cool. Maybe you think it’s weird. A few might think I’m practicing witchcraft and worshipping Satan.

I can assure you, Tarot is definitely cooler than you think, weird for SURE, and far from Satan worship. At least, for me it is.

It’s honestly taken me a while to be brave enough to share this publicly through my business pages in fear that I might get judgement or lose clients over this. But in the spirit of the Halloween season, I wanted to share a little about this hobby and what I’ve learned by reading tarot for myself and friends.

A short history of Tarot:


The tarot deck is similar to a regular deck of cards: it has 4 suits that each go from Ace to King (which is called the “minor Arcana”). In addition to these 52 cards, a traditional 78 card tarot deck also has a “major Arcana” of people/scenes (these are the most famous and easily recognizable tarot cards, like The Devil, Death, and The Empress). Tarot cards started out in the 14th century as normal playing cards in Europe, then later started becoming used in divination and prophecy in the 18th century France. These cards are still used throughout Europe as normal playing cards.

Tarot ≠ witchcraft


I promise I’m not casting spells or stabbing needles into voodoo dolls. I’m literally shuffling a deck of cards and seeing what randomly comes up. It’s no different than playing solitaire with a normal deck of cards: endless possibilities, and sometimes you get a good hand and sometimes you get a really shitty one.

Tarot cards are not magic


This is a common misconception, and one that is perpetuated by tarot readers. Sure, there might be a “magical” aspect to them, but at the core of it let’s be honest: the tarot deck are pieces of paper printed in a factory and mass produced and sold. The aren’t farted out by a unicorn or woven by an elf in a castle (although, if anyone finds a deck like that let me know).

No, I don’t see dead people


I’m not a medium nor a necromancer, and I will never claim to be one. Seriously, the woo woo notion that tarot cards converse with spirits is maybe a belief for some people, but for me, the cards are merely a metaphor for what’s going on in your life, right now. I personally don’t believe that any divine spirits are speaking through me when I do readings. And honestly, most of the time I’m just trying to learn what the cards say and how to interpret them for the person I’m reading for. Ghosts are too into themselves, anyway.

No, I’m not practicing demonic worship


This is a very common misconception about tarot cards, especially if your only experience with tarot is from pop culture, or you are religious. I don’t use Ouija boards, I haven’t sold my soul to the devil, I’m not conjuring demons, and I definitely am not worshipping Satan. After you get a reading and I start to talk through what the cards say, you’d be surprised that they really aren’t in any way related to the occult aside from being systematically associated with it from movies and television.

There is no right or wrong way to read Tarot cards


This is probably the one thing that’s kept me so intrigued by this hobby. It’s a challenge. Everyone interprets the meaning of the cards differently. Even the actual guide books that come with decks and are sold in bookstores vary in interpretation. There are so many different decks, numerous ways to interpret the cards and infinite ways to read them. There really is no right or wrong way to read tarot, as much as you learn the symbolism contained in each card. It really depends on who is reading the cards and who is asking the questions. I tend to always try and see the positive outcomes or the best advice for what is placed in front of me.

Tarot cards won’t predict death


This might be the biggest misconception and fear most people have about getting a tarot reading (I know it was mine before I learned more!). A lot of people are afraid to get their tarot read because they think it will predict a slow and painful death. In fact, the actual Death card doesn’t predict death at all. None of the cards do. Tarot is way more metaphorical than set in stone predictions. For example, if the Death card is drawn, it means that there needs to be an ending of some sort so something new can be reborn. It might mean that a relationship needs to end, a project needs to be finished, or a contract needs to be closed in order for your life to progress to the next stage. And most of the time, the cards are mere suggestions. You still have free will and can change whatever the cards “predict” for you. From what I’ve learned so far, tarot cards are simply little makeshift psychologists, revealing situations you’re currently going through and giving you suggestions for how to handle it.

Reading tarot is a way I relax


There is something both exciting and comforting to me about shuffling a deck and interpreting a tarot spread. I’m always a little nervous before I flip the cards over. I always want it to reveal some sort of good news or solution to a problem. No matter what, my readings never disappoint and they are always eerily accurate. And it gives me a chance to zone out for 20-30 minutes and not worry about answering e-mails or pleasing anyone but myself. And, I find it a fun thing to do at parties and get togethers.

And isn’t that what hobbies are for anyway?

If you’re interested in learning to read tarot, I highly suggest getting the Rider Waite deck which is considered the “beginner” deck (and is pretty straightforward with the illustrations). The deck also comes with it’s own mini booklet for readings. But if you really want to delve into it and get a better understanding of spreads and reading the cards, this book is my go-to for readings. It gives cohesive breakdowns of different spreads in addition to a thorough description, interpretation, and symbolism behind each card.

There are so many more decks to explore as well, and I also own these beautiful tarot decks (I’ve become a collector— I can’t help myself!):

I also have started learning these alternative decks:

Seventh Sphere Lenormand Deck 


Thanks for reading, and even if you still think I’m weird, it’s ok because I embrace weirdness. Weirdness makes the world go ‘round.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

travel tips and hacks I have learned as a destination photographer

My last travel job of the year was a couple weeks ago. Up until then, for the past 14 months since I moved to Michigan, I was on a plane on an average of once a month traveling for weddings I had booked out of town.

I wish I could go back in time and share with past Casey what I’ve learned since I started traveling for work several years ago. So, I’m using this blog post to share the mistakes I made and the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.


I think it’s easy for anyone to think that traveling for work is glamorous. Especially when I’ve been brought to so many fun places, including both coasts of the US (and a few states in between), Europe, and even Costa Rica.

But, honey, it ain’t all glitz and glam, I can tell ya that much.

There are so many myths that go along with traveling for work. The first thing to keep in mind is:

traveling for work ≠ vacation.


Let’s get one thing straight: traveling for a job is not a vacation. It has it’s expectations and stresses. You are planning a trip around someone else’s timeline and agenda, after all. You’re going somewhere you’ve maybe never wanted nor had any reason to go. You can’t stay wherever you want because you need to be close to where the job will be. You can’t be a tourist unless you plan to stay extra days (and spend extra time and money out of pocket) while you’re there. Not to mention, you are adding on extra days just to get yourself to the place you need to be. For me, this means a minimum of 4 days away per destination wedding. Add on the fact that I need to carry all my equipment — my livelihood — with me. And I have the added pressure that I can’t forget anything— because that can mean disaster. Not everywhere has the stores you need, and Amazon Prime is usually not quick enough (or available as an option at all) if I forget, say, my camera batteries.

get to the airport early


Traveling didn’t used to be as much of a hassle as it is today. I swear that just within the past couple years the lines have gotten longer and security has become stricter. Now, no matter if I have to check a bag or not, I arrive at the airport no less than 2 hours before my scheduled boarding time. I’ll try to arrive even earlier if I’m checking luggage, have rented a car, or if I’m going through an extra busy airport like Atlanta or LAX. I’d always rather have the extra time once I get through security to walk around, grab something to eat and drink, and find my gate.

if you travel a lot, Splurge for TSA Pre Check

Then, treat yo’self with all the time you’ve saved.

Then, treat yo’self with all the time you’ve saved.

This was maybe the best investment I made when I started traveling for work more. Did you know that now any electronic that’s bigger than your phone needs to be removed from your bag when you go through a normal security line? That’s in addition to any liquids, belts, shoes and miscellaneous things in your pockets. For me, this means I’d have to remove everything from my camera bag, which would add so much more time before and after passing through security, thus pissing off the already stressed travelers waiting behind me.

If you have TSA Pre Check, you can bypass the long security line and forego removing all electronics from your bags. You also don’t have to take off your shoes and you can walk through a regular metal detector instead of being scanned in the X-Ray. It cost me a little over $80 for 5 years of this luxury, and it only took about 20 minutes of my time to apply and get an interview/background check to qualify. Now any time I need to fly for work, I have added peace of mind that security will be a breeze.

Plan for delays


If you are contractually obligated to be somewhere on a specific day, especially if that day can’t be rescheduled (like, say, a wedding day), you must account for delays. At this point I just expect them to happen. So I always plan to land 2 days before the contracted event date. If the wedding is on a Saturday, I land by Thursday afternoon. This technique has literally saved my reputation and reliability for my destination weddings, as some delays have made me 12+ hours later to my destination than I originally planned to be. And I always like to bring a deck of cards or some sort of game in my carry on to pass the time in case my flight is cancelled and I’m stranded in an airport overnight.

Pack a change of clothes (and underwear) in your carry on

Although sometimes they appear the same from the outside.

Although sometimes they appear the same from the outside.

Otherwise, you could end up like me if the airline loses your luggage: stuck in a remote location where no one speaks English (and nary a Rite Aid in sight), washing your panties in a hotel sink and trying to air dry them out the car window each day. Yep, that happened when I went to Costa Rica. My luggage went to Honduras instead of arriving with me, and I had to travel 4 hours away from the airport to shoot a wedding the next day. The only clothes I had were what I wore on the plane, and let me tell you: jeans and a long sleeve button-up isn’t the most ideal outfit to wear while shooting a wedding in muggy, 90-degree weather. I was stranded in a remote part of Costa Rica, and the only option I had to buy a change of clothing was a little beach bodega near our hotel. I was able to get essentials: sunscreen, toothpaste, and a passably decent change of clothes to wear to a wedding (ok, it was plastic flip flops and a beach dress, but beggars can’t be choosey). But it brought up unexpected expenses that the airline wouldn’t refund, because the luggage hadn’t technically been lost… it was just “misplaced."

My luggage wasn’t delivered to me until the last day of our trip.

So now, if I absolutely have to check my luggage, I always bring at least one change of clothes in my carry on (ideally, an acceptable outfit to work in) and underwear.

Which reminds me, I should also mention:

Never pack anything of value in a checked bag unless you’re willing to risk never seeing it again.


Do I really need to explain why? Flight crews randomly search checked luggage, and items can be mishandled or even stolen. I remember one Christmas when we flew home, I thought I was being proactive by wrapping all my gifts and packing them in my suitcase. I checked the bag, and to my dismay when we arrived home, the contents had been rifled through and every gift had been ripped open. I’m not sure if this was a safety precaution or if someone just wanted to see what I was getting for my mom, but it was so upsetting. I was very lucky that no gifts were stolen or damaged, and you can bet if I’m ever in the same situation, I’ll plan to either carry the gifts on or ship them to my destination.

Assume you’ll never have an outlet


If you rely on your phone to get you around (which I’m assuming most of us do) buy an external battery pack for your phone. I have this one and it is awesome. It charges not only my phone but any device that has a USB attachment, like my Kindle. And it’s literally saved me when a plane doesn’t have a charging port available at the seat, or I’m in the middle of nowhere shooting and I need directions.

Pack lightly


For weekend getaways, there’s no reason you really need to check anything under the plane. This isn’t always possible, especially if you’re like me and travel with equipment you can’t check. But, I like to take on the challenge no matter what.

I’ve become the queen of light packing. I especially love these compression packing cubes that I can fit up to a week’s worth of clothes in, and when zipped it fits comfortably (with room to spare!) into a backpack. I seriously use them every time I travel, and I feel like I’ve beat the system.

Other ways to lighten the load: Prioritize first what you absolutely cannot live without. Consider what you can buy there (like a disposable razor or toothbrush). Bring clothes you can mix and match, so you have multiple days of outfit choices (do you really need four pairs of jeans for a week?). Find out what your hotel provides (like toiletries) which can save you some room in your bag. See if you can rent equipment in the destination city while you’re there, or ship items to your hotel in advance. And wear your heaviest clothing on the plane to keep your carry on as light as possible.

Upgrade to priority boarding


If you really want to guarantee that your carry on won’t be checked under the plane, upgrade your seat. It costs a little more for some peace of mind. For me, I never ever want to get my camera bag taken from me, or I’ll risk items being broken, stolen, or lost. And I can’t afford to have that happen when someone is relying on me to shoot their wedding in 48 hours. So, I’ve learned to avoid the headache altogether and pay for a guaranteed space overhead.

pack a lightweight, little luxury


I love my travel slippers. They are basically glorified socks, but they are practically weightless and can roll up small and fit in a coat pocket or purse. And for long stretches, they are essential to my comfort. Plus it’s better than removing your shoes and being the person who stinks up the cabin with their sweaty feet.

If you’re close enough to avoid flying, take a train!

I love trains. I made my way around Europe on trains and it was so relaxing, stressless, and simple compared to traveling by air. When you take into account the time spent at the airport and on the plane, sometimes it equals out to being the same amount of time or more time-efficient! I recomend this route if you’re going to a major city like New York or Chicago, where various public transportation options are easily accessible and you can avoid renting a car altogether.

My husband and I also like to pack a little cooler full of snacks and beer to enjoy while we watch the world go by outside.

I hope these insider tips help you the next time you need to travel! Is there anything else you like to do to make traveling a little easier? I’d love to hear them in the comments.