May 2021 // The Wedding Edition

may 2021

magazine

THE

EDITION WEDDING

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MAY 2021 | ISSUE 104

1 2 Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers with Scott Detweiler

24

How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job with Vanessa Joy

36

Product Spotlight with The Salvatore Cincotta Album line from H&H Color Lab

40

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers with Alissa Cincotta

54

Pandemic Profitability: The New World For Wedding Photographers with Lora & Issac Skelton

64

Essential Gear for Wedding Photography Pros with Jason Vinson

3 Ways to Achieve Consistency in Wedding Photography with Sarah Edmunds 78

94

5 Steps to Attracting High-End Wedding Clients with André Brown

106 1 2 2

Film Photography 101: The Foundations of Film with Jeremy Chou

10 Tips for Better Engagement Photos with Kesha Lambert

136

How To Use Flash Photography in Tight Spaces with Justin Yoder

150

Dramatic Portraits Using Natural Light with Brett Florens

172

Inspirations from Our Readers

196 208 214

How to Get Super Resolution with Raw Images in Photoshop v22.3 with Dustin Lucas

Beastgrip for Videographers with Rob Adams

Final Inspiration with Sarah Edmunds

24

64

78

90 94

214

136

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Shutter Magazine ’s focus is on photography education. Our goal is to provide current insightful and in-depth educational content for today’s professional wedding and portrait photographer. Shutter uses the latest technologies to deliver information in a way that is relevant to our audience. Our experienced contributors help us create a sense of community and have established the magazine as one of the leading photography publications in the world.

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We may still be recovering from a global pandemic , but people are still getting married. This month we explore the industry and how to maximize your success in the pursuit of weddings. - Sal Cincotta

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THE COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: vanessa joy

CAMERA: canon eos-1d x mark III EXPOSURE: f/2.5 @ 1/250 iso 50 LIGHTING: 2x profoto b10 with 1x profoto ocf beauty dish WEBSITE: vanessajoy.com HAIR & MAKEUP: makemeupeva.com MODEL: instagram.com/follow.valdemara DRESS AND VEIL: eve of milady at kleinfeld bridal STUDIO LOCATION: jerevele.com/bridal ASSISTANTS: instagram.com/vjburgosphotography instagram.com/jennablakeleyfaith/

ABOUT THE IMAGE: This photo was shot for the launch of the Canon EOS 1DXIII, and it was one of my favorite shoots today. Not just because it was my first commissioned job for the launch of a new camera, but because it was one of the only times I had a bride, all to myself, for the whole day. We shot a lot of other pictures, but for once I was able to just play and be creative, especially with light and taking the time to do what I wanted. You can see a behind the scenes video of the shoot and edit here: youtu.be/Q6ZIq3pqblw

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

with Scott Detweiler

Model: Emma Hanna

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

Model: Haley Grace

I am writing this article in early April, and the vast majority of the photography universe has no idea what a non-fungible token is or why it is important. So I will assume this will surprise many of you. It is quite pertinent to our industry, so hold on through this trip down the rabbit hole! In the digital imagery universe, we are on the cusp of a significant milestone: the circulation and collection of digital originals. That part makes this hard to grasp... We all have the exact same JPG, yet only one of us has what can be considered the actual original.

Model: Jennifer Raelynn

Model: Rachel Moehr

ANon-Fungible Token (or NFT) is a wild concept, and “fungible” is probably an unfamiliar word. Away to wrap your head around this idea is to consider a humble coin, like the quarter. If I have one and you have one, we can swap them since all quarters are considered the same, or fungible. However, if you have a rare quarter with some bizarre minting mistake that a coin collector prizes, yours is no longer equivalent to mine or any other quarter; it is now a unicorn of sorts and is non-fungible. Taking the coin metaphor into the world of JPGs, if I have the same image that you do, we can swap them because they are fungible down to the exact bits that comprise them. However, we can go through a process, known as “minting,” to set one of them as the genuine “original,” and it will then become non-fungible. Think of this akin to owning a unique Ansel Adams print that you can freely sell, collect, or trade. This NFT concept may sound far-fetched, but check out Christie’s auction in March where Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million (remember, it’s just a JPG). This shows there are some legs to this concept as there are more NFTs on the auction blocks already. Over $2 billion of NFTs have been traded in just the first few months of 2021! (See nonfungible.com for stats.)

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

In my own experience, I sold an animated version of one of my Doll series within 24 hours of it being minted in early April on foundation.io. It ended up selling for around 1.210 Ethereum (about $400). What is an Ethereum? Well, that is where this entire thing takes a bit of an exciting turn. Ethereum is a digital currency like Bitcoin, and its value can vary wildly by the hour. So why use digital currency? Even though this is a bit convoluted, I want to explain precisely how this works because a digital currency is at the heart of this entire process. To start, let’s take a super-duper simplified look at what we will be calling the “blockchain.” Think of the blockchain as a general ledger of transactions and contracts. So, grab your beverage of choice—better yet, grab two—and relax your mind as we are about to learn some kung fu. For example, imagine a child’s wooden toy block. On one face, we put our fancy original image. On another face of the block, we put our unique digital signature as the current owner (commonly referred to as a wallet signature). On the third face, we put the wallet address of the person buying the image and the exact amount they paid for it, in Ethereum. Now, this might seem like enough information, but it leaves the door wide open for people to invent transactions out of thin air because anyone could say they own your image or that you owe them a million Ethereum. To resolve this, we need to include on the block the answer to a complicated mathematical problem using the above information as the variables in the problem. This answer is known as a proof-of-work, or “hash.” Suppose we change one tiny bit of the information like a transaction amount or digital wallet signature. In that case, the math problem no longer gives a rational and verifiable answer. Furthermore, to be sure people can’t invent blocks, we always encrypt them in a specific order as a chain of transactions. We even include the hash of the previous transaction (no matter whose block it was) on yet another face of the block before we encrypt it. So, the hash of the last block is included on our block, and if some smartypants tries to sneak in a block out of order, change the wallets, alter the image, swap blocks, etc., the math will not work, and the blockchain will reject it. We then make that hash available for the following block to use when they do their encryption, and so on down the chain. This method leaves no room for hacking or falsifying information since any alteration makes the hash change violently. So, who does all of this tracking of transactions and creating all these “proof-of-work hash answer things”? The answer is: folks commonly referred to as “miners.”

Model: Jennifer Raelynn

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

Model: Haley Grace

When someone is mining Bitcoin, for example, they are keeping a copy of the same general ledger (blockchain) and doing the math on the new blocks in a race against other miners. It is a lot like playing the lottery as the math is cryptographic in nature and isn’t reversible, so you literally have to guess until the conditions are met. In exchange for this system taxing, dart-throwing process, the blockchain will reward the person with the first correct answer to the proof-of-work with a fraction of that currency (this is known as “gas”). The miners’ signature and the gas they are paid are also written on the block’s final face before the hash is calculated. Everything is tracked, nothing can be altered, and we have a perfect record of every single item in the correct order.

Because millions of people are mining digital coins, it makes it impossible for someone to sneak in a false block of information. Remember, mining is just the task of keeping a copy of the ledger, encrypting the blocks, and chaining them together. Again, this is a grossly simplified explanation. In the end, your image’s current ownership is a matter of public record because it is part of the digital blockchain and a clear owner is always ascertainable. Sites like tryshowtime.com clearly show the images owned by someone, while etherscan.io shows the chain of transactions. Those are just two examples. As the blockchain is public knowledge, many sites display the data differently depending on their goals.

Model: Katie Krause

Just like fine art today, there is some fantastic work out there. Still, there are also those head-shaking pieces of “art” from galleries that I don’t understand, like Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 work “Comedian” that is literally a banana duct-taped to a wall. (No, I am not kidding.) By the way, he sold two of those on opening day! Some art out there is fetching prices that I can’t comprehend. Because this space is built for digital imagery, a lot of the current art is dominated by 3D artists and illustrators, which vary from beginners to amazingly talented folks. But because this space is not mature, some of the asking prices seem disproportionate to the talent involved.

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

That being said, some fantastic artists are selling their work. Twitter users like @tina_eisen and @dracorubio, who I have followed for years, are successfully selling NFTs of their work for thousands of dollars each. I have personally watched other items get bid into the hundreds of thousands and even into the millions by some prominent collectors! Do you want to get involved? There are two barriers to entry (aside from having artistic skills, which again seems somewhat optional at this point): one is converting a fiat currency like U.S. dollars into a digital currency, and the other is the price of gas. When I minted my first piece in March, it was challenging to obtain Ethereum. The only site I found that wasn’t intimidating was coinbase.com, since banks and other familiar places for monetary transactions shy away from these new currencies. The tracking of transactions involves a digital wallet, which is unique and hopefully protected by a password more complex than your dog’s name with a “1” at the end. Because this currency is part of the Ethereum blockchain, you can purchase it from literally anywhere as long as you use your digital wallet as the block’s signature. Moreover, because the NFT transactions are also decentralized, you can use any website to sell your photos. Sites like superrare.co, foundation.app, and mintable.app are the most popular with photographers and artists, but they are also invite-only at this time. The largest open one I know of is opensea.io. It is packed with animated GIFs, icons, songs, and any other digital media that someone feels the moral obligation to foist upon the world. Regardless, all of these sites are connected to the same Ethereum blockchain. The other barrier is the price of gas. This obligatory payment is akin to the cost of gas you put into your car. This gas fee is paid to the miners to create the proof of work hash for your block. This price can vary widely every hour, and minting a single image can cost anywhere from $30 to over $250! When there are not many pending transactions, the price of gas will drop. I use gasnow.org to determine the current price before I decide to mint another image. Remember that every transaction needs to be hashed, so all things require gas. But those much more complex tasks (known as contracts) like NFTs are the hardest ones, where functions like swapping currencies are much more reasonable. There may be opportunities to offer NFT versions to clients in our photography industry, for example, or creative ways a digital original can be placed into our portfolio or offerings. Only time will tell, and I am sure many creative souls will find ways to add this to their client offerings. A few key things to keep in mind are that the NFT does not include the transfer of copyright or permission to create or print duplicates. The digital NFT version is simply the file that is considered to be the original or limited edition, and it is not the same as those fungible copies that others might have and enjoy.

Model: Lunariea

Understanding Non-Fungible Tokens for Photographers | Scott Detweiler

Model: Rebecca

As the NFT space matures, I can see many beautiful pieces of art being collected and sold in single, limited editions or even open runs, just as they would be in an art gallery. As the future of augmented reality and digital assets starts to be more common, only the future knows how far this will go. For those of us that create images for the fine-art market, this is an opportunity to create yet another potential revenue stream, and I think it is opening the doors to new ways of thinking about digital art.

Scott is a conceptual portrait photographer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Along with his original approach to portraits, he excels at fashion and boudoir, and is an amateur body painter. When he is not shooting, Scott turns his studio into a classroom where he holds workshops on lighting, conceptual work and boudoir. website: sedetweiler.com instagram: @sedetweiler

Take Your Business in the DIRECTION You Want Professional Photographers of America is the nonprofit that helps you move your business forward. Education, equipment insurance, marketing tools: it’s all here at PPA. Join our community of 30,000 photographers and find everything you need to take the next big step in your journey.

PPA.com/Success

How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job | Vanessa Joy

with Vanessa Joy

How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job | Vanessa Joy

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I have two businesses, working in both online education and as a wedding event photographer, and I love my work—it's definitely a dream job for me. I also make fantastic money from it: more than six figures from each side of the business is my net yearly pay, after expenses. Compare that to the day job I used to work, earning $42,000 a year as a Spanish teacher. I've been able to do more of what I love and make much more money doing it. I won't lie though: it took time—more time than you might think. I want to share the strategy you can use to take your side hustle and grow it enough to quit your day job. If you follow these steps, you'll be prepared for the challenges of self-employment so that you can also reap the rewards of owning your own business (or two!). Here are the steps to take.

How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job | Vanessa Joy

1. DON'T JUST QUIT! WORK BOTH AT FIRST

I won't lie, you'll probably be working nights and weekends during this stage, but that's the "side" part of having a side hustle. What is so valuable about keeping the security of the day job while you work your side hustle is that you get to test out your skills in the marketplace, but you aren't taking on as much risk as those who just quit their jobs and start from scratch. Your side hustle will teach you a ton of things about what doesn't work and what does work, but the goal is to start growing your income in that side hustle until it is enough to replace all your income from your day job. Many people are tempted to get the money from their side work and fold it into the monthly budget, but if you are serious about making the leap to full-time, don't do it! Keep your expenses as close to the same as possible, using your day income. Put all the side hustle money aside. When they are roughly equal, you switch: start living off the side hustle money and put your whole day job paycheck into savings. This sounds ambitious, but remember, it's proving that you can make it when you switch to your side hustle full-time. Don't quit yet either, just because you hit a month that is equal to your day job pay. Instead, keep building that savings account until it equals three to six months of expenses. Include everything too. If your current job has nice perks like insurance or a 401(k) match, you'll want to account for that in your savings.

When you've done that, it's time to get started!

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How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job | Vanessa Joy

2. SET UP HELPFUL BANK ACCOUNTS

You can make these accounts any time after you know you're getting serious, but definitely before you make the leap and quit your day job. Having your bank accounts in order will help you have a professional, functional structure from the very start! The biggest reason to have plenty of structure is that your gross income (everything your side business makes) isn't the same as your net income (what you get to spend personally after all your expenses and taxes). You need a structure that helps you pay taxes, employees, contractors, and other costs before you start thinking of the money as your “paycheck.” This helps you avoid getting a huge bill that your business isn't equipped to pay. • Get a business checking account. Ideally, this will be the place where your clients pay you. Get an account with a bank that doesn't charge fees for having a low balance or for having multiple checking accounts so that you can get organized without worrying about being charged when an account is low. • Start a payroll expenses checking account. This helps you get organized so that all of your payroll expenses from a given job are covered. • Start a tangible cost of sales checking account. These are all the expenses you know you'll have to make in order to fulfill an order. In my case, I know that every wedding photography job will involve the expense of creating a physical album, so I always put those costs right into the tangible cost of sales checking account so I have them handy when I need to pay for the album. • A taxes checking account is also a good idea. You actually pay quite a bit of taxes on your income at a day job, but it comes out without you handling it yourself, so it's easy to ignore. I recommend putting about 30% of everything that comes into your business into this checking account. You may qualify to pay less, but it's much better to be able to write your checks for quarterly income taxes from this account than to have to scramble in your personal account to find that money. • An optional fund or checking account would be a sinking fund. When you know you want a big expense in the future, this fund lets you save up for that item over time. I might save up for a new camera in the sinking fund, a little bit each time I'm paid, so that it doesn't feel as overwhelming when that expense needs to happen! I'm particularly indebted to Dave Ramsey's financial advice, where I learned much of what helped me create this structure. I also learned a lot from Jordan Page, who has suggested a variety of checking accounts as well that you want to have!

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How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job | Vanessa Joy

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3. PLANNING FOR GROWTH!

This stage is really about how you'll deal with success, whatever that looks like for you, on a day-to-day basis. It's fun to think high-level and consider what it'd be like to be “successful,” but you need to have things like a workflow, a client management system, or a day-to-day plan for how you'll do all the work you commit to and do it well enough to make your customers happy. The key is to make a system that works now but will also work when you grow. This might be about outsourcing. What elements will you consider taking out and having someone else do? Pay attention to what elements of your business you don't like or that you aren't good or fast at doing. Write these things down. You may have to do them all now, but when you're growing, you may be able to pay someone else to do this work! A big question is whether or not someone would be willing to do this work for less pay than you are doing it for now. You are, after all, the CEO, so as you find and add to your team, you may contract out elements of the business for less than you make yourself. Then it's time to research. What items might you outsource, what would they cost in your area or for your needs, and in what order would you like to outsource them? Make a plan for how well your business needs to be doing before you outsource each item. Ideally, your outsourcing frees up your time to do what you do best, what you enjoy most, or what brings in lots of happy clients—ideally, all three!

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How to Make Your Side Hustle Your Full-Time Job | Vanessa Joy

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Also, remember to think of your future retired self! Plan to put aside 15% of your profit per month into a growth mutual fund. There are tons of opinions on how to save for retirement, but that's my benchmark based on Dave Ramsey's recommendations. You want to think these things through as a business owner. The sky is the limit for your business: don't limit yourself. Down the road, you might, like me, get into the world of online education and teach about the things you do, diversifying your income. There's a lot to learn, but remember: starting your side business on a firm footing is one of the best ways to eventually quit your day job and do this full-time!

LEARN MORE . youtube.com/btsShutterMagazine Click here or check us out at

Vanessa Joy has been a professional wedding photographer in New Jersey since 2002, and an influencer in the photographic community for years. Since starting VanessaJoy.com in 2008, she has taught photographers around the globe at almost every major platform in the industry (LearnPhotoVideo.com). Vanessa has been recognized for her talent and business sense at the renowned industry events CreativeLIVE, Clickin’ Moms, WPPI and ShutterFest. Her peers love her informative, open-book style of teaching. website: vanessajoy.com instagram: @vanessajoy

Product Spotlight | The Salvatore Cincotta Collection by H&H Color Lab

with

product spotlight

Why the Salvatore Cincotta Collection by H&H Color Lab?

Luxury albums don’t have to be expensive, they just need to look expensive. The Salvatore Cincotta Collection by H&H Color Lab is a new line of luxury albums inspired by one of the top wedding photographers in the world. High-end and unique wedding albums are the reason our studio stands out from the competition in our area. Offering albums in our wedding collections is part of the complete service we offer to our clients, and the Salvatore Cincotta Collection by H&H Color Lab is exactly quality of album we can be proud to deliver to our couples at a price point that’s hard to beat.

What makes these albums so special? • Artisan materials: leather, synthetics, fabrics, and crushed velvet liners. • Album cover personalization: metal inlays, imprinting, and 3D ink. • Custom luxury boxes: two-piece style Manhattan box, and clamshell style Brooklyn box.

Use code SAL50 to get 50% off your swatch kit through the end of May.

LEARN MORE . youtube.com/btsShutterMagazine Click here or check us out at

For more information, visit scalbums.hhcolorlab.com

THE

EDITION WEDDING

Featuring

| Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers with Alissa Cincotta | Pandemic Profitability For Wedding Photographers with Lora & Issac Skelton | Essential Gear for Wedding Photography Pros with Jason Vinson | 3 Ways to Achieve Consistency in Wedding Photography with Sarah Edmunds | 5 Steps to Attracting High-End Wedding Clients with André Brown | Film Photography 101: The Foundations of Film with Jeremy Chou | 10 Tips for Better Engagement Photos with Kesha Lambert | How To Use Flash Photography in Tight Spaces with Justin Yoder | Dramatic Portraits Using Natural Light with Brett Florens | Inspirations from Our Readers

40 5 4 64 7 8 94

106 1 22 136 150 1 72

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

with Alissa Cincotta

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

Ah, the wedding day timeline. If you’re a wedding photographer, you know all about the never-ending battle on what should happen on a wedding day. The bride wants one thing, the planner wants another, and the reality is this: The wedding photographer spends the most time with the bride and groom on their wedding day and should be in charge of building the flow for the day. Our JOB is to capture moments throughout a wedding day, and who understands the standard moments better than a wedding photographer?

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Wedding days, as Sal always says, are a series of mini emergencies. It’s just the reality of the business. It’s your job to set yourself up for success when it comes to the way a day lays out. So let’s dive right into all of the details that go into creating a successful wedding day timeline for your couples.

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Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

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PLANT THE SEED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF TIME FOR CREATIVES AT THE INITIAL CONSULTATION.

When our couples meet us for their initial consultation, we are asking all of the important details about their day: ceremony time, location, specific requests for creatives, reception time and location, and so on. There is, however, one specific question we open up with:

“What is it that drew you into our work?”

This question is so important as a baseline for your timeline with the couple. Nine out of 10 times for us, the answer is the same as they point to the large cinematic and dramatic portraits hung throughout our sales room:

“We love all of your epic shots. It all looks straight out of a movie and your couples all look like models.”

THIS is our key indicator that the couple sitting in front of us is our client. Why? Because they understand that what we do isn’t just clicking the shutter button on a camera. There is art in what we do, and these people can see it, value it and appreciate it. Bingo. Now, you have to educate the couple. These cinematic shots don’t just happen on the wedding day. We need to be strategic in our timing to ensure we’re able to create these types of images. This is how the conversation goes: “We typically aim to create two or three signature style cinematic images from your wedding day. We should plan on at least an hour and a half for the creatives to allow for this. Two hours is ideal, but if we stay in one general location, we can rock these shots out with just you and your fiancé and still have time to capture you and your bridal party.” Guys, what you say is so important in this initial meeting. You are planting the seed in their brains and positioning yourself as the expert. Be confident in your approach. Don’t make suggestions. Tell them what YOU need to be able to deliver on the imagery they are hiring you to create.

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

CREATE A SET OF BASIC GUIDELINES YOU FOLLOW FOR EVERY WEDDING DAY AND ADJUST ACCORDINGLY.

A foundation is crucial if you’re a medium-to-high-volume wedding studio. A foundation is simply a set of “what should happen whens.” So we know almost every traditional American wedding has five to six main components to the date: bride getting ready, groom getting ready, first look (or maybe not), creatives, ceremony, and reception. Here is our foundation that we run with: Bride prep: 1 hour Groom prep: 30 minutes First look: 30 minutes (the actual first look takes 5 minutes, but someone is always running late) Creatives: 2 hours Ceremony: 1 hour (plan for the longest option in your foundation, then tack any extra time on to their creatives if they end up only having a 30-minute ceremony) Reception: Who cares? At this point in the night, everything is pretty loose. Here’s how we run our planning process after we’ve had the initial timeline conversation at their consultation (this happens six months out from their wedding day):

First question: Are you doing a first look or waiting until you walk down the aisle to see each other?

Next question: What time will the ceremony start? How long will it last?

Start at the ceremony and work your way to the end of the night.

Ceremony: Catholic weddings are usually one hour. Non-religious weddings are usually 20 minutes.

Next question: Will you be doing a receiving line or any kind of special exit after the ceremony ends? Allow for 15 minutes anyway. Even when they say they don’t plan on doing something, they always end up changing their mind the day of the wedding.

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

Family formals: Give yourself 30 minutes for this and do not overcomplicate it. How many of you have had your bride hand you a printout from a Pinterest article listing out every single possible photo pairing needed during family formals? Hi, yeah, me too. Too many times to count. This is your time to shine. You don’t need a stinkin’ LIST of shots! You do this for a living!

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Here’s what we tell our couples:

“For family formals, we want to capture these as quickly as possible so we’re not cutting into the creative portrait part of the day. We will do immediate family on both sides out to grandparents (or great-grandparents). For aunts and uncles, just pull us aside at the reception and we’ll be more than happy to capture groupings there!”

Creatives: At a minimum, we need an hour and a half. Ideally, we’d like at least two hours and two locations.

Question about locations: Do you want park or urban? Again, don’t overcomplicate this. Don’t ask them if they want a specific park. If there’s a place that is meaningful to them, they’ll let you know. If you put the ball in their court, they’ll have you driving around for hours back and forth to get the exact same picture in park A that you would have gotten in park B. A park is a park is a park. It’s all green. Same thing for urban locations. I suggest having a handful of go-to pre-scouted locations that you can rotate between clients so not everything looks the same.

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Reception: Here’s the deal with receptions. Once you get your couple back to the venue, make sure they have a few minutes to touch up and just be together before the chaos of having to be “on” for everyone. This is so important. And reminding them about this shows a human side to you that all of their other vendors will overlook. Once you get to the reception, sync up with the DJ immediately and make sure your timelines match. Pro tip: They never match. Start the conversation by letting him or her know what time your coverage ends and you need to make sure you’re getting in the first dances, toasts, and bouquet/garter toss. If you’re short on time, leave things like the dollar dance and the shoe game for after your coverage ends. Most couples don’t actually put those images in their album. Once you’ve covered everything and your coverage is coming to an end, grab your couple for one final signature style shot inside or outside, but somewhere that showcases the reception venue well because BINGO, you can use this image as a way to build a relationship with the venue. Win-win for us all! OK, now it’s time to look at how many hours you’re into this day so far so you can work backwards from the ceremony to see what time you need to start getting ready with the bride and groom. This is the perfect time to nudge them into getting ready at the same hotel so you’re not losing time traveling between locations. Make sure everything fits into their allotted time based on their package and if they’re over by 30 minutes, just eat it. Don’t be that person that nickels and dimes your clients on something like this. Truth is, if you show your willingness to eat that cost, they’re more likely to spend with you post-wedding on upgrades. However, don’t let this get out of hand. Understand that if your initial timeline is already over by an hour or more, it’s only going to get worse with delays on the actual wedding day. We allow our clients to swap out their engagement session for an extra hour of coverage. Just know, if you do in-person sales, you’re losing an opportunity to make a sale on that engagement session you’re allowing them to swap out.

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

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DON’T FORGET ABOUT TRAVEL TIME.

This is probably the single most forgotten part of the day when photographers are getting started in weddings. You don’t just magically get from point A to point B by snapping your fingers (although that would be pretty awesome). Use Google Maps. If the hotel to the ceremony venue shows a 30-minute drive time, allow for 45 minutes. This gives you time to pack up gear, load the car, and also gives you some wiggle room for traffic. Remember, I am speaking to you as a St. Louis-based photographer, not a New York City photographer. Know your area and plan accordingly. Also, don’t forget to do your research ahead of time so you can plan for things like parking (valet, street parking, etc.). Wedding days are not the time to be an amateur with travel. Take five minutes and figure it out ahead of time so you’re prepared to arrive early. This makes such a good impression on your clients when they arrive and you’re already there ready for them. Remember, your clients should not have to worry about you and your time management (or lack thereof) on their big day.

BE THE EXPERT AND SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR COUPLES.

Don’t forget, these people are coming to you fresh to the wedding scene (usually). They’ve never done this before, so what you find to be second nature and almost “duh”-worthy is completely new to your couples. You do this every weekend for a living, and they are leaning on you to provide your expertise to make their day go off without a hitch (as much as possible). Once a couple signs a contract and pays their deposit to lock their date with us, we send a welcome packet with tips to look your best in photos, a copy of all of their paperwork, a welcome letter, timeline sheets, and cards from local vendors we recommend. Take that extra step and show your couples that you know what you’re doing. When you take the initiative on something like this so early in the game, they will continue to look to you for guidance throughout their planning process (and you want this so you can control the outcome of what photos you’re able to capture for them). Always be upfront and honest. If a client wants photos at location A, and also at location B that’s an hour and a half away, but they only have two hours for creatives in their timeline or are already over by an hour or two... DO NOT just say OK.

Level set with them:

“We are more than happy to get you images at both of these locations, just know we’re already over in time and this is eating into your timeline with empty drive time. Is there somewhere closer to location A that looks similar to location B that we could compromise on? This will give us more time for creatives, which means more images for you, and will allow us to get you back to your reception on time.” You can say everything you need to say without being rude, condescending or anything negative. Just be confident in your approach and bend where you need to. As long as they understand they might not get the images they hired you for, OR they might have to pay for extra hours of coverage, do what they want.

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Photographers | Alissa Cincotta

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TIMELINE FOR THE TIMELINE: UNDERSTAND THAT THINGS CHANGE.

Welcome to the world of weddings. Things change on a daily basis, especially in today’s Covid world.

We do timeline reviews over the course of a year with our clients as follows: 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, 2 weeks, week of. This allows us to stay up to date with changes as they’re happening so we can adjust the timeline accordingly. I will also send my bride a text the night before the wedding with a sweet little message wishing her the best day ever and letting her know how excited we are to be a part of their big day. Then I will screen shot their final timeline and ask if there are any special additions that we need to be aware of so we’re prepared to document them. Texting a client the night before is also when I ask for the hotel room numbers where applicable. Wedding day timelines are tricky at first, but having that foundation solid will make it all feel pretty template-based. You’ll start to get into a rhythm where it all falls into place and your wedding days are no longer chaotic scrambles. Remember, the worst thing to do is be the source of stress for your clients on their big day. Good luck!

Alissa Cincotta graduated with a degree in television production and has been a part of the Salvatore Cincotta team since 2011. Today she is behind the camera regularly as Sal’s second shooter and as the executive producer and camera operator for Salvatore Cincotta Films, Behind the Shutter. Alissa is the Editor-in-Chief for Shutter Magazine and serves as Sal’s right hand, managing daily operations within the family of Salvatore Cincotta brands. website: salcincotta.com instagram: @salcincotta

Pandemic Profitability: The New World For Wedding Photographers | Lora & Issac Skelton

with Lora & Issac Skelton

Pandemic Profitability: The New World For Wedding Photographers | Lora & Issac Skelton

2020 was going to be our year. We dedicated 2019 to making sure 2020 would be the breakout year for our business. We had spent tens of thousands of dollars on business mentorship, rebranding, and investing in all new products to sell. We drastically increased our marketing budget and the wedding bookings were flying in. We had hired our first full-time employee. We had ourselves in a position to make more money in three months of work in 2020 than we made in all of 2019. We were going to hit our goal of $400,000 in revenue in 2020. And then Covid hit.

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Pandemic Profitability: The New World For Wedding Photographers | Lora & Issac Skelton

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Wedding season for us was supposed to start in June. We welcomed our third child in early February, so we had planned our bookings so we would have some time off before the weddings started up. I remember us sitting at home when the first shutdown came through and saying, “Thank God we didn’t book anything until June. This will all be gone by then.” Man, I wish I had been right. As the wedding cancellations began, so did the panic. We quickly dropped from 30 weddings down to 25. Then down to 20. Then down to 10. Finally, we dropped to eight. In a matter of weeks, our entire goal for 2020 went out the window, and we had to figure out how we were going to salvage the year and pay the bills. We were left with two options: either sit at home and complain about our year falling apart before our eyes, or we could do something about it. We could change our goals and strategy, and attempt to salvage 2020. We chose to do something, and it changed our lives for the better. Our days as wedding photographers were over. Weddings were gone, and they weren’t returning back to normal anytime soon. It was sad, but we accepted that early on and realized we needed to be more than wedding photographers now. We needed to make money and shift our focus to portraits. We were used to working with 40 to 50 clients total in a given year, so changing that to working with 100+ was going to be a big shift. But, it was something that we had to do to remain profitable and keep our business alive during the pandemic.

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Pandemic Profitability: The New World For Wedding Photographers | Lora & Issac Skelton

Working when others weren’t is what allowed us to be successful this past year and is continuing to help us in 2021. The country was shut down and photos weren’t able to be taken. A huge number of photographers I knew just shut down and sat at home waiting for things to open back up. We started restructuring our business. We shifted focus and began to execute immediately. We ramped up marketing. When everyone was hoarding money, we were spending it. The extra $1,000 we used in Facebook ads wasn’t going to help us keep our doors open, so we figured we might as well spend it and be ready to go once things opened up. You would be surprised how easy it is to book family sessions when you are one of the few photographers in the area running Facebook ads. We ran a $200 ad campaign over five days and it generated over $38,000 in revenue for us in 2020. Let that sink in: spend $200 to make $38,000. My only regret is that I didn’t push that campaign more. We immediately invested in education. We were wedding photographers. We didn’t know how to run a portrait studio, how to book this volume of clients, or what the back end of our business needed to be. We subscribed to Level Up and launched our senior influencer program and began filling our calendar. We spent thousands of dollars during a time when we had zero money coming in and were unable to actually shoot. There was no idea for when our state would open back up, but we weren’t going to sit back and let our business fail and just wish we could work again.

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When things did open back up, our calendar was packed and we got to work. Other photographers were just starting to ramp up marketing again, and we had 35+ sessions to schedule and start shooting right away. The crazy part was, during this economic downturn, clients were spending more money with us. Our sale averages were up over 30%. Clients had been sitting at home and came out ready to spend money. Because we shifted our business and took the risk of spending money, we capitalized. We went from making $25,000 a month to making $25,000 in a week. We passed our 2019 revenue at the end of July. Keep in mind, we didn’t shoot anything until mid-April. So what we did in all of 2019, we surpassed in three and a half months. We had our best year by far, crossing the $250,000 mark on only eight weddings. Weddings were 90% of our revenue in 2019—that dropped to 30% in 2020. We would have easily surpassed $300,000 in revenue in 2020, but we had to shut down in October because our back end was a disaster. We could keep up with orders, we just weren’t used to this volume and needed to regroup. October, which is usually our best month for business, we shot less than five sessions because we needed the time to regroup. Our back end cost us drastically in 2020, but it won’t in 2021. We continued to shift our business this winter. We reinvested in business mentorship. We relocated our business an hour away and upgraded from our 800-square- foot studio in a town of 300 people to a 2,300-square-foot downtown studio space just outside of Minneapolis. We have continued to work while photographers are recovering from last year and still waiting to ride out the storm. Right now is the time to set up your year. Take advantage of it.

Pandemic Profitability: The New World For Wedding Photographers | Lora & Issac Skelton

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If you are a wedding photographer, don’t just sit around and wait for things to open back up. The restrictions on weddings aren’t going away anytime soon, even with a vaccine rolling out. The market has shifted and won’t be the same again. Use this time to explore other sources of revenue and redefine your business. In 2020, our goal was 50 weddings. We wanted to be the top wedding photographers in our area. Because of Covid-19, we were forced to shift to portraits. Never in a million years would I have thought I would want to photograph 100 to 120 seniors in a year, but that is our 2021 goal now. We have fallen in love with being portrait photographers and aren’t looking back. Portraits have given us our weekends back with our kids. It has allowed us to be selective of the weddings we take on. And it has us shooting for $500,000 this year. Remaining profitable through a pandemic was incredibly challenging. But the fact that we were able to see growth during these times has removed all self-imposed limits we ever had on our business. The ability to adapt has removed all fear this pandemic has put on our business. I am 100% confident that we will continue to see growth in 2021 no matter how this year plays out—because we weren’t afraid to be seen as more than just “wedding photographers.”

Red Wing, Minnesota-based photographers Lora & Isaac travel the world documenting couples and families, capturing the most important moments of their lives. Specializing in senior and family photography, their main goals are to provide an unmatched client experience from start to finish, and to create images that are unique and will fill the walls of their clients’ homes for generations to come. Their love for photography began shortly after their own wedding. What started as a side hobby quickly blossomed into a successful career for Lora & Isaac. website: lora-isaac.com instagram: @loraandisaac

Essential Gear for Wedding Photography Pros | Jason Vinson

with Jason Vinson

Essential Gear for Wedding Photography Pros | Jason Vinson

Before I jump into this list of essential gear, I’d love to address the phrase “gear doesn’t matter.” It’s a phrase I have said myself over and over and I truly believe it. Photographers of the past have created work I could only ever dream of aspiring to—and they achieved this with much less gear than amateur photographers currently have access to. Because of this fact, there is a comparison that goes, “A professional photographer with beginner gear will create better work than a beginner photographer with professional gear.” I feel this statement is completely accurate. It’s meant to encourage beginners to become better at their craft before they get consumed with lust for the latest and greatest gear. But this article is not meant for beginner photographers. Gear doesn’t matter until it does actually matter. And while a beginner photographer with professional gear may lose to a professional photographer with beginner gear, a professional photographer with beginner gear will lose to a professional photographer with professional gear. And as a professional wedding photographer, that is who you are against. But the good thing here is that not all pro-grade gear comes at the steep price you may be accustomed to seeing.

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Essential Gear for Wedding Photography Pros | Jason Vinson

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CAMERAS

This one is pretty easy because I feel like any of the higher-end models from any manufacturer would serve a professional wedding photographer well. As long as it’s not a prosumer camera you can pick up at Walmart or Sam’s Club, you should be fine. That said, I have used a ton of different types of cameras from crop sensor to medium format and from Nikon to Leica, and I have found what works best for me in regards to weddings. So from here I’ll walk through two features I never want to have to shoot without for the rest of my career (unless something new and unimaginable comes along). Sneak peek: one of these features can only be found from one camera brand.

MIRRORLESS

Mirrorless cameras have changed the way I shoot because they have changed the way I view a scene before I take an image. In the days of optical viewfinders, you had to use the meter in the camera in order to get an idea of what the exposure should be. You then had to have a mental idea of what the camera was seeing and make a decision on whether you wanted that image to be brighter or darker than what the meter was telling you. From here you could take a picture, look at the back of the camera, and then decide if it was good or if the image needed adjustment. Then when the scene or light changed, you had to do it all over again. Enter mirrorless and the electronic viewfinder. Now, I can simply look through the finder or at the back screen and see exactly what the image will look like before I even press the shutter. I can physically see if the image is too bright or too dark and make adjustments on the fly as needed. This has drastically changed the way I view light because it has taught me how to see the way the camera sees.

SILENT SHUTTER

When silent shutters were first released, I looked at them as sort of a gimmick. I didn’t really see the need for them and never thought they would be useful in the real world. That was until I began using them. The first time I dove into using a silent shutter was when photographing a funeral. I never realized how loud my shutter sound was until I was photographing people in grief. It was here I realized that I wanted to be close to the moments to capture them well, but that my shutter was bringing people out of those moments and making them aware of my camera. The problem with silent shutters is that they bring about some downsides, like rolling shutter and banding under certain lighting conditions. That is why I shoot with the Sony a9 (the a9ii and a1 would also work): because the technology built into these sensors allows the silent shutter to not only shoot at 20 frames per second (30 for the Sony a1), but it also allows it to shoot with no banding and no rolling shutter. So you get all the benefits of a silent shutter without any of the drawbacks.

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