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DTLA Engagement Session // Tiffany & Edem

Downtown LA Wedding // Bonaventure Brewing Company // Tiffany & Edem

Like most days in Los Angeles, the sun rose between the towering walls of the city streets, and sparrows flew tree to tree. Buses idled in the street, and cars started lining the freeway. Just an ordinary day for most Angelenos, but for Tiffany & Edem, a magical day was blossoming.

5 Ways Photographers Can Use Social Distancing as an Opportunity

I want to start by saying that if you or your family and friends are impacted by the current events of COVID-19, I send my sincerest condolences. The tragedy, pain and suffering that the world is going through is immensely saddening and should not be taken lightly, so we should all be taking the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread through social distancing.

I personally haven't left my home in over 10 days. To some, staying home this long can be depressing, stressful, and make you feel powerless. This tragedy has kept us at home, physically away from our families, our jobs, our clients, and the things that bring us joy. But this provides us with an immense opportunity that many of us usually don't have. Time.

This extra time gives us the opportunity to learn and grow... to come out of this tragedy with a plan in place to move forward to try new creative techniques, gain more clients, and beat your goals going into 2021.

Firstly, I'll be honest, I'm not a full-time wedding photographer, even though I would like to be. I'm very lucky during this time to be a Creative Director at a small marketing agency in Los Angeles which has kept me busy working from home for the past three weeks. This means I typically have a bit less time on my hands than many freelance photographers due to looming projects & deadlines for work clients. The difference now that social distancing is in place is that I'm not stuck in traffic for two hours every day, and I'm not taking a traditional lunch break. That's almost an extra three hours per day that I've never had before.

Here's what I've been doing with all the extra time that I've come across and some ideas of how you can use your extra time as opportunity, not waste.

 

1) Learn something new about photography every day.

I know this sounds obvious, but hear me out. We're living in the age of information. There's no reason to not take advantage of these resources while you're stuck at home. There are literally hundreds of thousands of incredible courses and tutorials available for you to take from the comfort of your couch via LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), Patreon, and even from YouTube. The fact that you’re reading blog posts about photography is a good sign! Find photographers that inspire you and see if they have a Youtube, Patreon or other learning service to watch and learn from.

For me, I've subscribed to Sam Hurd's Patreon account to learn a bunch of awesome things. He's been teaching creative techniques, posing techniques & how to run a successful wedding photography business. This has provided an excellent opportunity for me to grow my skills from Sam's teachings.

I've also been watching a ton of LinkedIn Learning. If you've been to college recently, see if your college provides a LinkedIn Learning account via your college email login credentials. Mine still works and I graduated almost six years ago! If yours doesn't, just grab a free month  on their LinkedIn Learning page and start watching! Top tip: LinkedIn Learning has an app that lets you cast to your TV! I did this for their FAA Part 107 Training, which made it super easy for me to take notes & study for the FAA Part 107 test.

 

 

2) Test & play around with different ways to process your photos.

I say this because many of us are stuck in our ways when it comes to editing. Go back to photos you've taken and try to re-edit them in ways you normally wouldn't. Especially try new techniques if it's something you’ve learned from taking a course or watching a tutorial. Get inspired by other photographers and try to copy their editing style. Through experimentation, you get to learn how to edit beyond your favorite one-click-edit preset in Lightroom. Practicing editing without presets will teach you how to face editing different lighting situations in the future. In this process, you may just come across something new and different that you absolutely love.

This is also a great time to try other editing solutions. Affinity Photo is having a 50% off sale, while Adobe is giving 2 months of Creative Cloud away for free and Luminar by Skylum software is donating $5 towards the fight of coronavirus for every license sold.

 

 

3) Set goals for what you want to accomplish over the next weeks, months, and year. Start with small, easy-to-accomplish goals that work up to larger goals.

To give you an example, this week, my goal was to develop a plan to rank higher on Google. Next week, I'm going to focus on my website speed and website content, following this week's plan. My goal for the month is to have a finalized advertising and business strategy to help boost my social media and gain clients moving forward. My overall goal for the next year is to book ten clients just through my social media presence & search engine rankings.

Set goals that are easily accomplished on a daily and weekly basis, but have these goals all build up to one large goal. For instance, changing the entire strategy for your website isn't going to take a day, it's probably going to take a considerable number of tasks of a considerable number of days. Set your goals in relation to your daily tasks and goals. Once you make your goals for the next few weeks, month, and year, don't forget to keep setting these weekly goals once this month passes. Keep your goals up-to-date, and mark them off as you go. The key to success is repetition and steadfastness. You'll get there.

 

 

4) Find ways to help your business online through research.

Research what your competitors are doing during this time. If they aren’t doing anything to boost their online presence, now is an especially good time for you to swoop in and take their business.

What are your competitors doing online that you aren’t? Are there any opportunities that you're taking advantage of that they aren't? In what ways can you improve your online experience to provide more value to your potential customers? How can you improve your current processes to help gain more customers?

These are all really important questions to be asking yourself and figuring out during this time. Whatever you aren’t doing that your competitors are and vice versa, are opportunities to be taken advantage of.

The first thing that I did when comparing my own website to my competitors was an audit. Use free tools like Google Lighthouse, WooRank, and The Hoth to find opportunities and gaps on both your own site, and your competitor’s for things like website load times and SEO. Dig deep into their websites to see what services that your competitor offers that you don’t and try to gauge how much they charge for those services.

Remember, where your competitor has a gap, you have an opportunity. Do a ton of research and make changes to give you an edge in quality & cost over your competitors.

 

 

5) Connect with people and build your network.

Even though you can't meet with people in person, doesn't mean that you can't reach out and start conversations to build your business. Hop on LinkedIn and start reaching out to people relevant to your industry.  Connect with them and see how they're handling this pandemic. As photographers, we don't have to be alone during this time.

Since I'm in the wedding industry, I've spent my time connecting with wedding coordinators, event designers, bridal boutiques, dress designers and more through LinkedIn and email to help build my network of industry professionals. Building this network will help me connect with people for referrals and partnership opportunities. No matter what kind of photographer you are, you can reach out to brands to build connections and give a vision of how you help capture their brand’s story. It's a no-brainer to build your network and authority, which will undoubtedly lead to jobs in your future.

In conclusion...

These are just a few ideas of steps you can take to prepare for when this is blows over.  Remember that today is a day of opportunity, so don't just sit in bed scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Netflix. Now is an awesome time to learn and grow as an individual and as a business! All the information in the world is at your fingertips. Now go get it!

 

Huntsville Botanical Gardens Engagement Session // Maureen & Alber

I'm so super excited to share with you all the photos from Alber & Maureen's engagement session. Maureen & Alber have been together for eight years, meeting at their local community back home in Lompoc, CA. After surviving living together throughout Alber's grad school, they packed their things and moved to Huntsville for work. On a romantic late-summer Europe vacation, Alber proposed to Maureen in Venice, Italy.

They flew my wife and I out to Huntsville to take their engagement photos at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. The gardens were beautifully taken care of and had a variety of different areas and looks, which provided for an even more magical gallery. Enjoy the photos and if you are looking to book a photographer for your wedding or engagement photos, don't hesitate to contact me.

Downtown LA Engagement Session // Jessica & Tyler

Flying Caballos Ranch Wedding // San Luis Obispo // Olivia & Greg

I'm so excited to share with you all Olivia & Greg's wedding. Getting the opportunity to photograph their wedding is very special for me since I've known Olivia since Kindergarten. After losing touch after high school, I was thrilled that she reached out to me to do the photography at their wedding almost ten years later.

If you have any questions about this venue, or would like to book me for your wedding or event, please feel free to contact me at any time. I look forward to hearing from you!

Is Your Lightroom Slow? It could be due to your workflow.

Over the past few months I've griped many times about Adobe Lightroom Classic CC being slow, almost to the point of it being unusable. After trial and error, I've figured out a workflow that is fast, efficient and makes my projects get finished in a timely manner without me wanting to throw my computer out of a window.

The first thing you need to do is analyze your computer. What are the specs you are starting with and what are things that you can do to improve performance? Are you using an external Hard Drive? Is your internal drive an SSD or a Hard Disk? How much RAM does your computer have access to? Do you have a quality graphics processor?

Here were my specs before optimizing my workflow.

Core i7 7700k (4-core 4GHz clock)
32GB of DDR4 @3200MHz
Nvidia GTX1070 OC Graphics Card
512GB 3.5" SSD connected by SATA
24TB External Storage connected by USB 3.0

Looking at this, you might think that this should be just fine for editing photos in Lightroom. From an overall perspective, it should be, but it comes down to workflow, and optimizing components in your system for your workflow. What I found in my rig was that data transfer was the bottleneck in my system. I found myself editing off of my external Hard Disks instead of from internal components. This was huge for causing sluggishness, especially since Lightroom is constantly Reading and Writing Data simultaneously, which traditional Hard Disks cannot do very effectively. The fix for this issue was to move my catalogs and photos in the catalog onto internal storage that was SSD based. After trying this out, I saw an improvement but wondered if I could take it a step further.

This leads to understanding what components that you can upgrade to improve performance. After looking at my motherboard, I found that my board supports NVMe SSD drives. If you think of your data transfer inside of your computer as a city, NVMe drives are the expressways while anything connected with SATA or USB are like city streets. NVMe SSDs allow for data to get rushed via PCI-e through the processor almost instantaneously. After perusing Amazon and reading reviews, I settled on a 500GB Samsung Evo 960 NVMe SSD which has read speeds of 3500MB/sec and write speeds of 2500MB/sec vs 480-600MB/sec on USB 3.0 and SATA. That's up to 6X the speed! This means that Lightroom can easily read and write to the drive without any bottlenecks in sight. If you can't add an NVMe drive, just make sure you're editing off of any internal drive since SATA is still much faster than USB 3.0. After doing this, it was all about optimizing my workflow.

These are the steps that I take after each shoot to ensure that my Lightroom workflow is optimized for speed.

1. Make sure your Lightroom preferences are set to use your graphics card and that editing with Smart Previews is turned on.

2. Make sure there's space for your photo session on your computer's internal hard drive or SSD. If there isn't room, clear up room by backing up or cleaning up files you don't need anymore.

3. Create a new Catalog for (each) new shoot.

4. Import your photos onto your internal drive. Optionally, convert to DNG. At the top right of the import window, select Previews "Embedded and Sidecar", under that check the box that says "Build Smart Previews." Start the import process... This can take a while due to heavy processing, especially if you're converting to DNG.

5. Once it's done importing (and converting to DNG, if applicable), back up your imported photos to your external hard drive(s) for safe keeping.

6. Start editing and enjoy the speed!

7. When you're done editing, copy your catalog folder onto your external drive(s) for safe keeping.

8. Delete the catalog and photos off of your internal drive once you're certain you're sufficiently backed up to other locations.

If you need to go back to older catalogs and shoots, make sure you just copy the folder with both the photos and the catalog back to your internal drive and start editing again. Make sure you archive your catalog again once you're done and you'll be set!

I really hope this helps you speed up your workflow. If I helped you out or have any questions, feel free to reach out and tell me of your successes on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc!

Alicia & Travis's Santa Barbara Engagement Session

It was such a pleasure to take the photos of Alicia & Travis in Santa Barbara. It's not every day you get to take photos of people who have already been together for almost eight years before taking the next step to becoming husband and wife.

While walking on the beach, we chatted about how they met and how they reached the point of becoming engaged.

I got to hear everything about how when Alicia first met Travis, she shrugged him off and it took him over three tries to successfully ask her out. This really surprised me since they are such a great for fit for one another. Hope Ranch Beach is truly a special spot for their relationship; everytime they'd get into an argument they would come to the beach and not leave until they had settled their differences.  This really echoed with me about how committed they were to each other and their relationship. I'm so lucky to be photographing their wedding this coming August!

Olivia & Greg's Engagement Session