Should I tip my wedding photographer?

I know this is an awkward question to pose to your photographer but I know it is on many a bride’s mind when it comes to tipping their vendors. I’m not sure if there is any specific custom for this, and according to an article I read on the Knot, unless it is specified in a contract, you are by no means obligated to tip.

I personally do not expect to be tipped but have been very flattered and ecstatic when a client thinks enough of the services I provided to want to give me one. Thank you notes or just simply telling me you appreciated the job I did for you is certainly thanks enough but I will graciously accept a gratuity if you would like to include me in your vendors that you do tip on your wedding day.

As for guidelines as to what to tip a photographer if you do decide you want to, the Knot states anywhere from $50-200 is the standard. I’ve also been tipped in gift cards, anything from a massage to a restaurant, which is also very thoughtful.

If you would like to read some further advice on tipping your vendors, check out the Knot’s article here.

 

Embracing writing things down

I am a well meaning person. I have the best of intentions but sometimes I just don’t follow through! Blogging is just one of those things that gets away from me. So as usual, I’m starting fresh with the intention of continuing a habit of regularly sharing here.

2013 was a year of growth for me, both business-wise and personally. I started learning the importance of writing down your dreams, goals and plans and have whole-heartedly embraced what this can do for me. It helps give me purpose and a goal to strive for. I have heard that it is proven that people who write down their dreams and goals and make them strong enough of an obsession, that those people are more likely to achieve their goals. This ph should make me a better person as well as a better business person. I’m looking forward to embracing this discipline and making it a part of my day to day life. I look forward to being more organized and successful in all aspects in the future.

I am usually a fiction reader but I had a book recommended to me that will help me make changes in my life that will allow me to achieve my goals. “Changing For Good” by James Prochaska (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/changing-for-good-james-o-prochaska/1100169011?ean=9780380725724). If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, your self esteem, achieving your goals, quitting smoking, procrastination, etc, this book is for you!

I know this isn’t the most riveting of blog posts but I wanted to share my own journey with overcoming my obstacles and taking control of changing myself for good.

Getting my sanity back

You would think as a wedding photographer that I would dislike the winter because it’s not wedding season but actually, I tend to look forward to it near the end of wedding season. I was a crazy busy person in 2012. I hit the ground running with four weddings in January 2012 and didn’t stop until 23 weddings later. Not to mention all the senior photos, family sessions, engagements and boudoir sessions I had. It was the busiest year I’ve had yet and it was great. But I was an insane person toward the end of the season. I now understand why some wedding photographers have a certain amount of weddings they will book every year. It seems on average, between 15 and 20. Seeing as my business is relatively new, I wasn’t sure what that threshold for me was. 27 was too many with all the other things I have going on in photography as well. So in going forth, I am now only taking 20-22 per year.

You may think that that doesn’t sound like a lot but there is a lot of behind the scenes work that you don’t know about and see. I had crazy hours, just trying to get everything done within my time frame that I tell my clients.  I ended up not able to do albums for most people until several months after their wedding, with a few exceptions. So in honor of good customer service, which I like to strive to provide, I think it best to not take on as much as I did last year. For my sanity and your overall good experience.

So now, I’m finishing up the few albums I still owe people, doing a couple winter bridal shows, meeting with clients and trying to prep my business for the upcoming busy season. It feels so odd to not be totally stressed and feeling like I have things looming over my head. Yesterday, I did a couple office things and then spent the day CLEANING MY HOUSE. You have no idea how good that felt. I haven’t been able to do more than surface clean in a long time. It gets me in the mood to do some painting and some home improvement and organization projects. Sounds weird, I know, but I actually am excited to work on these things because they have been nagging at the back of my mind for months. Call me crazy.

In addition, I do have daily work things that I want to accomplish. I would like to push my senior photo program this year but haven’t had time to work on it in the past. Now is the time. And I have some educational workshops that I have scheduled to complete online. I’m excited to learn more and to better my business. I’m cleaning out my equipment and selling things I no longer need. It feels like a freshening of my life and business! I’m excited to see what is to come in 2013.

It feels good to be getting back to me.

I’m a terrible blogger

Who knew that blogging would be so hard? I see so many super clever and fun to read blogs out there where the people make it seem to easy. Well, for whatever reason, I stink at it! And the thing is, I always used to love to write. BUUUUUTTTT, it takes time and discipline, which I evidently am poor at managing. I need to MAKE time and schedule it into my life. This is the story of my life. Needing to make time and schedule.

My personal trainer, Robin, tells me all the time, “you need to schedule time for exercise…time for you….etc”, and it sounds kind of silly, right? But it is so true. If I don’t schedule something, it doesn’t seem to get done. Things fall by the wayside. Here’s my problem, I’ve always had what some would call and “artist’s personality”. I am not flaky or anything, I just tend to live my life in a slight state of disorganization. This is a huge thing to admit to all of you because I want you to think I have my stuff together, you know? And I do. Trust me. I know what is important and do work on keeping those things organized. But it’s the little things that fall short on my priority list that slip into disarray.

So here’s my New Year’s resolution: MAKE TIME. Use that pretty little planner that I buy every year and only log my client appointments in. I need to log more of my life and put it on a schedule. This shouldn’t be a hard thing! But it is. I need to schedule blogging, schedule exercise, schedule reading time for me, schedule time for learning, schedule time to shoot personally, and maybe, just maybe, schedule time for me to draw and paint because I haven’t done that in a couple years now. Oh, and boringly but important as well, schedule time to clean my house. Ha ha.

I hope I’m not alone in this! I don’t often make resolutions, except the normal things like lose weight or exercise more. Maybe I should schedule times to periodically check in here and let you know how it’s going. Who knows? Maybe it’ll change my life!

Happy New Year everyone! May you achieve all your resolutions this year as well!

Where should I do my engagement session?

This is another question I am often asked by clients. Often, photographers have a few select locations that they prefer to use but I want this session to really fit you and your personality. And I, like others, get bored of doing the same old thing, so I encourage my clients to think of ideas of places they would like to go. I want the location to fit the vision you have for your photos. It should reflect you and fit the theme that you have chosen. If you love the outdoors and the mountains, by all means, let’s go to the mountains! If you are an urban hipster, let’s shoot in some downtown edgy neighborhood. I love all types of locations and do not have a preference of one over the other. I always tell my clients that I can do a lot with a little too. You don’t have to have sprawling acreage to work with. Sometimes, you can get all the best photos with different feels in just a small area.

I encourage my clients to come up with where they want to do their photos because it makes the session more unique to them. Maybe it’s a place you spent your first date. Maybe where he proposed. How about you decide you want to tell a story with your photos and we pick a place that fits that story? I obviously haven’t been every place so this is why I ask you to brainstorm and think about where you might want to shoot. Plus, it keeps me from choosing a place that maybe you don’t like. Sure, I can offer suggestions if you aren’t sure what to do or come up blank, but really try to think of what suits you.

Sometimes, clients decide they want to shoot in a private place, for example Lakeside Amusement Park or Dave and Busters. When you’re choosing a place like that, please contact the place to seek permission. Some places do not allow commercial photography and require permission or a permit or even a fee. I feel it’s best for the client to make contact because the establishment may be more sympathetic to the client than the photographer. I can help you with what to say and can call them if you aren’t having any luck.

Just some things to think about as you plan your engagement session. The sky is the limit and I will travel (within reason) to find that perfect location for you.