As Justin & I are closing in on our new brand, one of the most important decisions we've been having to make is which images are going to make it into our new galleries on our site. We want them to stand for what we want to shoot, the style we want to be known for, and attract our most ideal clients. That's a lot to ask of just 20-30 images! And it's been SO tough to narrow them down!
One of the things that we always do in our J&M Mentoring Sessions & on the second day of our Walk Through a Wedding workshop is to go through each person's website, i.e. their "online portfolio." Because that's what the website really is, it's a way of saying "this is my best work, this is who I am as an artist and a person, this is what you can expect from me if you hire me."
And over the course of time through doing a LOT of these mentoring sessions and workshops, we have noticed a pretty common theme of mistakes that almost everyone makes with their portfolio. We've identified 7 of them in fact! And we are going to be sending them out to our newsletter community this afternoon!
We've included one below to get you started, but if you want to read about all 7 then be sure to click HERE to get signed up for our newsletter to receive this one & all of our future free tips & tricks newsletters to come!
Have an amazing day friends!
1. Try not to show too many images from the same wedding, especially in a row It's ok to have a featured gallery of images from one wedding that is off by itself. But in your more general galleries, try not to put in too many images from the same wedding especially if you have them in there in a row side by side. The biggest problem with doing this, is that it can start to make it feel like maybe you haven't shot that many weddings and that can really scare off potential brides. If you have plenty of weddings to draw from & it's been a while since you've updated your gallery, then just go in and swap out some newer work where you have too many images from one wedding. If it's the case that you ARE just getting started & don't have a ton of weddings to draw from yet, then just make sure you scatter them up in the gallery which will keep it more interesting & make sure the viewer stays more engaged in what's coming next. And as you shoot more, just make sure you're adding new weddings to that gallery as soon as you can!
Last week we went up and met with our accountant & our financial planner for about four hours (it was a marathon!), but when it was done we had officially started our second business ever & I'm so excited to say "The Black Tie Media Group" was born!
Now we're not planning on leaving our first business (Justin & Mary Photography) behind at all, it's just that both of the blogs have really blown up & taken on a life of their own. And it became really clear really fast that they needed to be their own business! So last week we made that happen!
While we were meeting with our accountant, she said something that she always reminds us of when we're with her. She said, "Everybody has the same things they have to think about with their money, everybody has the same choices. It's just a matter of where you put the decimal point."
And I LOVE that because it's so true. It's such a great reminder that in so many ways we are all in this together and dealing with the same kind of things. When we were first starting our business, our decimal was in one place and now it's in another. But that doesn't mean that we don't have to still keep being smart with our money. And making good choices. And working a budget. I think that younger version of us would have thought that if we could ever "just get to that place" where the decimal point changed then we would never have to worry about any of that stuff again. And it's just not true.
It's the same with starting a business. When we're first starting or a few years into it, it's so tempting to think "oh if I could just get to where So & So is then I'll have made it. I'll have arrived. And I won't have to work so hard at it anymore." But the fact is, it's just not true. There will always be work to be done. And hustle. And stress. Fear and failures and triumphs. And small victories along the way that push you forward. There is no "arrived."
There's only "we've come this far, let's see where the road leads next."
Something that we've definitely learned over the years is that whether you are just getting started in a dream or you are years into it- something that at the moment we find ourselves standing with a foot in each place: an established photography business of almost 8 years and a brand new baby of a business only a few days old- either way, we all have way more in common than we have different:
*We have fears and doubts and "what ifs"
*But we also have all of the heart racing, up all night, can't keep from talking about it of what it could look like if it works
*We have email. Lots and lots and lots of email.
*We're so busy building a dream that we go out in public unshowered in yoga pants and a messy hair bun and run into someone we know.
*We work FAR longer hours than that corporate job we left or turned down to chase a dream with more life balance. But somehow we don't mind it at all.
*We sketch out logos and web layouts on notebooks in Starbucks. Even though our drawing skills leave much to the imagination.
*We leap, believing that the net will appear.
*We pray that what we build stands for something, makes a difference, makes a change, leaves something behind, and that it pulls us closer to the plan God has for our lives.
*We get overwhelmed.
*We make color coded to do lists.
*We find people who can help bring the dream one step closer.
*We get brave. We send the email, we make the call, we reach out with the chance they just might say no.
*We're told no.
*But along the way, we find a lot more yes's in places we didn't expect them.
*We're criticized for breaking the lines, for not staying where we're supposed to stay. But we would rather be criticized than ever let the world put us in a box it has with our names on it.
*We create for ourselves. Because it makes us happy. Because it speaks to us and we believe in what we're making. And like Beyonce says, " I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I only have to follow my heart."
*We look up inspiring quotes from Beyonce.
*We look too much ahead at where other people are and forget to look back at the path behind us. To see how far WE have already come.
*One day we feel knocked down. One day we feel like we're soaring. Either way, every day we get up and go about the work of building a dream.
*We get our hands dirty.
*We put our hearts on the line.
*We give more. We try harder, We believe for bigger.
*And above all, we dream. We sleep less, so we can dream more.
And whether it's 1 year or 10 years, I just never want to lose that. I always want to have that same heart, that same hunger as we did on Day 1. Where the only thing that's changed is time.
These guys emailed us over a year ago to contact us about shooting their Maine wedding. They are good friends with one of our past J&M Couples, Ali & Jon, who also got married up in Maine and they wanted to see if we'd be willing to come back. Ummm, YEA we would! :) We absolutely love shooting in Maine: the backdrops are gorgeous, the people are always so nice, and the lobster is a definite bonus! :)
So since we're going to be going up there for the wedding, these two came down to New Haven for the engagement shoot to hang out, get some fun pictures, get Pepe's Pizza, and so their lab Phoebe could meet Cooper (who were best friends right away, obviously!) The day had started off super cloudy & gray, but as soon as we started shooting some golden light started peeking through and gave us gorgeous, soft light. And these guys just brought it (it, it's just what you bring!) They have such a great chemistry together and that made it SO easy!! I could have photographed them all night...and we pretty much did!
Jenny & Mike we had the absolute best time hanging out with you guys! You are funny & sweet & so, SO good together! We can't WAIT for the big day!
Our Germany Trip Part II: Vienna & Neuschwanstein Castle
Today we have Part II of our Germany & Austria trip! After the tour ended, we said goodbye to Philipp, Jennifer & Conrad and rented a car to try out the adventure of driving ourselves around the German countryside. We decided to rent a zippy little BMW (because, when in Germany!) and I'm so glad we did because we needed something with some serious giddy up for driving on the Autobahn. And here we thought I-95 drivers went fast! :)
From Munich, we drove down to the very southern part of Germany to see the Neuschwanstein Castle. Now here's the crazy part about that! The summer after I finished college, I spent a year studying in England and traveling all around Europe. That year, I had a travel book of Europe with me that had this gorgeous castle on the cover & I always said it would be a DREAM to go there. But I never made it there during my study abroad. And I just never forgot about that castle...it always made me a little sad that I didn't make it happen to go see it. So when someone suggested we go see Neuschwanstein Castle while we were in Germany, I thought "oh cool, maybe it will be something like that castle on the book" ....but when we got there, it turned out it WAS that castle on the book. When we got back home, I dug through the boxes we have in the basement to find that old travel guide, and sure enough there it was! How crazy is that?!
So we obviously had an amazing time driving up and first seeing it on the hillside, then having lunch at the base of the mountain, and then going by horse-drawn carriage up to the top of it. They call this the "fairytale castle" and supposedly the castle at Disney World is based on it....I think you can see why! It was incredible! SO beautiful!
From there we made the what probably should have been a 6 hour, but we got there in 4 thanks to the Autobahn, drive to Vienna. One of our favorite things to do while traveling abroad is to watch the lastminute.com type sites for the city we're going to, to look for crazy good deals on nice hotels that we wouldn't otherwise want to spend the money to stay at! We found a pretty amazing one that allowed us to stay at the Ritz Carlton for what a normal hotel would be & it also included this sweet gourmet breakfast every morning! That is one of my favorite travel tips to tell people to do! You have to be willing to not know exactly where you're going to stay until the day before, but it just makes it that much sweeter when it turns out to be something like the Ritz! :)
I have to say, we absolutely fell in love with Vienna! I think it just might be the most underrated city in Europe! We joked that it was like Germany, Italy & France all had a baby and named it Vienna! It was clean & efficient like Germany, it had the architecture & beauty of Italy, and it had all of the amazing cafes & people watching of France. We LOVED it! We walked around to all the major landmarks like Hofburg Palace, Schonbrunn Palace (in Vienna, it was all about the palaces!), the City Hall, the Opera House, and all the cathedrals. We sat in cafes & sipped cafe melanges. We climbed to the very top of this HUGE church on stairs held up by nothing more than one inch scaffolding bars....which at the top about 100 feet up started SWAYING. And we survived. But maybe my FAVORITE part of Vienna was seeing the Austrian National Library. It is this insanely beautiful library with the rolling ladders and secret doorways. And the whole ceiling is painted with the prettiest frescoes I've ever seen so the whole room just lights up in color. The whole time we were there, I just kept thinking "is this REAL?!"
And that's pretty much a good way to sum up how we felt on this whole part of the trip! We couldn't believe we were lucky enough for it to be real!