Category Archives: Talking Shop

I’ve never met a summer I didn’t like, and Summer is aging beautifully here in Dayton.

Quickly, but beautifully.

This year has been one of personal growth. And if not growth, then certainly change. And if not change, then certainly reflection.
And isn’t time spent in reflection the seed of growth & change?

While I’ve worked very hard to perfect my craft of how to measure light & button manipulation in my camera, behind the scenes is very much a work in progress. In some ways I didn’t think it was as important to nail down the quickest workflow, because I wanted the BEST images. I wanted to create artwork with my photography.
In other words, I felt that the time I spent in post production was ok to sacrifice because it was part of the process of aiming for perfection. I shot in JPG format & opened up every image in Photoshop. Of course at times there were ways I could batch a couple images, but I didn’t like not being able to control each effect or change on them so I didn’t use that method very often. I created customized actions for every wedding and went to great lengths to achieve a standard that I thought was only possible with two or even three weeks of “editing hell” after a wedding.

Of course I heard of other programs, but when you are doing something that produces the final product you want… you kind of want to stick with it {even if it’s clearly inefficient}. For anyone reading who might not be a photographer who “develops” thousands of images at once & doesn’t understand how time consuming this is… Let’s just pretend it’s like being a chef who singlehandedly runs the farm that produces her ingredients. As the single owner & employee of this operation, I was running myself ragged and barely keeping up.
Yet I was proud of what I was offering on the plate that went out.

I was not proud that spending so much time editing can make it hard to keep up with emails & phone calls & tracking taxes & the hundreds of other little things that were neglected or postponed. The only good thing about making mistakes is that you start to hunger for what will make you change for the better. All the pain & frustration of failure fuels your motivation to find a better path.

This summer I’ve been working up the courage to address my weaknesses {oh yes, there are many more}. I tried a couple new methods of post-processing and have, with all certainty, converted into a Lightroom enthusiast. I had tried Lightroom before, several years ago. I didn’t like it. I didn’t spend the time to make it work for me. After some new friends encouraged me to try it out again, I finally “bought” the bullet.
At the same time I sent out a few weddings to a third party to sample their method of editing.


I’ve been working to find a way to achieve the same high standards I had before, but to edit much more efficiently & quickly. Now that I am using RAW images & working with a much better platform for hundreds of images… I feel the final results are even better than before. I didn’t feel that the other option of sending out the files created the same trademark that I try to use when I’m processing images. I requested my images be sent back & happily edited them myself. Very very pleased with the process & the final results.

It might not be typical to admit such things here, from the person who is “so put together” {not true at all!}. However, I had always defended my judgement that I could shoot JPGs with accuracy and liked the control of opening each image file separately. Now I feel that I kind of owe it to the other photographers who heard me say that, because I’ve made such a drastic change in opinion of it all. I love being able to connect with people and the idea that we all have something to share & much to learn.

I wish that someone would have told me sooner, but now I’m telling you and I hope it helps someone!

Lightroom 4 has replaced what Photoshop, InDesign, Action Runner and Photo Mechanic were doing for me.
Much faster and with much more accuracy.
And my carpal tunnel isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be {true story}.

Of course I wish I had started sooner, but I am excited to see how this improves my ability to help my little business bloom. ♥

bohemian ohio engagement session

I have a lot of beautiful weddings & sweet couples to share with you from this past year,
stay tuned for this collaboration with Lovely Rentals!


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  • Briana - July 27, 2012 - 8:47 am

    This is so funny, because this could be my story exactly–except I was shooting in RAW, doing RAW edits, then editing each file individually in Photoshop with a mess of different actions, because (I thought!) I liked having so much control. I just switched to (mostly) Lightroom this year, too (after also trying, and not liking, it once before). It has made all the difference! Thanks for sharing your experience–it is nice to know other people go through similar transitions! 🙂

  • Andrea - September 6, 2012 - 7:27 pm


    Thank you so much for sharing! I am glad that someone else can relate, it IS very encouraging! Now I’m not sure how I ever got on without it ;D

I’m a “little” bit of a Bravo junkie. I do have my favorite shows, but on a {rare} slow day I’ll watch almost any of the Real Housewives. I’ve watched a few sporadic episodes from “Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding,” and when I heard Kim mention her wedding planner Colin Cowie, I remembered to finally share this link. It is a really helpful article on Engagement Photos that his office interviewed me for & used some of my images a while back! Some other really talented photographers added some good tips & as you all gear up for summer & fall engagements I hope it helps a bit!

You can find clips from that interview on Clicking with Engagement Photos via Colin Cowie Weddings.


You can see the full vintage winter inspiration session here.

It was a giant collaboration & labor of love with my friend & photographer of Simply Photography, Caitlin Buck. You can see her work here.

I guess I’ll have to watch this Kim & Kroy wedding at some point, I’m a sucker for weddings on tv.

{My absolute favorites are the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills… Pandora’s wedding was gorgeous! ♥}

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Here is a little preview of a post I’m working on about my little trip to Indiana this week. PASS is a new way of sharing wedding images digitally to clients that I am really excited about (brought to you by Showit drag & drop website builder mastermind, David Jay). As a bonus, designer Promise Tangemen, wedding photographers Zach & Jody Gray, & designer/photographer Kevin Swan also gave insightful talks. It came at a really good time for me & I loved that I was able to feed the designer & photographer inside of me. Since I used to be a graphic designer, I have done 100% of my own branding, website, logo, & design. It’s challenging to play both roles but so rewarding to feel that I’ve left my own fingerprints on every aspect of my work. Now I’m inspired, excited, & ready to see how what I’ve learned translates to my own wedding photography business.

I have a wedding today (Saturday) but plan on being downtown at Riverscape for fireworks Sunday night! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend celebrating such a splendid holiday! I can’t wait to light some sparklers with my boys & I hope I can get my hands on some fresh sweet corn! ♥


{Although having braces as a teenager made me a life-long cut the corn off the cob kind of girl}.

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Everyone says you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, but I disagree. I think that if someone invests in a good cover photograph & inventive graphic designer… it must mean there’s some good stuff between the pages. If there’s not, at least you have a pretty cover to look at. As a former graphic designer, I appreciate good cover art.

When I heard that Jose Villa was writing a book, I couldn’t wait to buy it. He is an outrageously talented photographer & truly a pioneer in the wedding photography industry. His vision is pure & I personally like that he showcases a lot of beautiful Spanish-influenced imagery. I ordered his book with the same excitement that I order cookbooks. Completely enthusiastic about the photographs, not expecting much from the captions. Unknowingly I assumed that his book, Fine Art Wedding Photography {Jose Villa & Jeff Kent}, was just a collection of his breathtaking images. Which in itself, for me, was worth the small price.

I had it all wrong.
I should have ordered two copies.

One for admiring all the lovely pristine pages filled his wedding artwork.
One for highlighting, underlining, and scribbling notes on every page.
It is an exhaustive field guide, without the exhaustive part. It doesn’t read like your typical photography manual. He writes like a friend explaining their insight of a heartfelt craft. It’s detailed without being boring. It’s technical without being confusing. It’s informative without being arrogant. I couldn’t put it down.

I was so moved by his understanding of how to create a Fine Art Wedding experience for your clients & the way he liberally shared his wisdom. He has challenged me to continue to compose artwork for my couples. I don’t shoot film, but I speak openly with my clients about having a “film mentality.” I can take thousands of images, almost unlimited. However, I choose to shoot less & compose more. I try to photograph from the most compelling angles & tell the story of the moment. No detail is too small. I want genuine emotions to show.

No matter what stage in your professional career, Jose Villa’s book will either educate you or simply inspire you. For me, it did both.

With a very tight wedding photography schedule & two little boys, I don’t have the opportunity to pack up for all the typical photography workshops, WPPI, or mentorships. I have to ration my limited time. I really appreciated this book because it covers so many aspects of wedding photography & I can take my time to absorb it all. Reading his book felt like a one on one, honest conversation where he generously explained the secrets to how he achieves his artisan style of wedding photography.

Believe me, his secrets are worth knowing.

It’s hard to photograph a book written & photographed by the master in your field, so I cheated a little & inserted a cute baby {my eight month old Damian} 😀

You can learn more about Fine Art Wedding Photography here. You can buy Fine Art Wedding Photography here.


*Not affiliated in any way with Jose Villa, just really love this book & hope other photographers will find out how awesome it is too! ♥

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  • christa kimble - March 30, 2011 - 2:41 pm

    i can’t wait to get mine! i think he is wonderful for so freely sharing his knowledge

  • Michelle March - March 31, 2011 - 3:14 pm

    I completely agree. The book is perfection. 🙂

  • Rachel J - April 1, 2011 - 7:57 am

    Mine better come today!!! Ive heard so many wonderful reviews already!!!!! <3

  • Courtney - April 14, 2011 - 10:55 am

    Just ordered mine yesterday 🙂 So excited!!

I never aspired to be a wedding photographer. I think if I had, I would have been much better prepared as a business woman. I like to plan ahead. I like to have goals. In more than one sense, this is the irony of my life as a student turned Air Force wife and graphic designer turned photographer. Just when I think I know it all, I am spontaneously pooling my resources to deal with a new hand of cards.

While I was working on a graphic design degree {assuming I would work for a firm or continue to freelance}, some photography opportunities presented themselves. At first I said “no,” because the thought of being responsible to capture a wedding terrified me. A few months later, more brides were contacting me through Facebook {ironically all at once}. The e-mail usually began with, “I know you don’t do weddings… but I love your work…” I had four weddings booked before I even owned a DSLR. They were all with friends that knew I wasn’t promoting myself or trying to be something I wasn’t. They just wanted me to capture their weddings the same way I took pictures of everything else. At that point I was still terrified, but curious. I wanted to honor my commitments, then see if I wanted to take the leap of becoming a wedding photographer or run back to the design world. I didn’t realize at the time how closely the two are connected… it’s perfect for me.

I’m very lucky to have a husband who is not only an encourager, but Rocky had worked in the photography field for several years before his current Air Force career. He has a deep understanding of film, digital, and lighting techniques. However, there is much more to managing a photography business than selecting lenses or knowing how to white balance correctly. The path isn’t always very clear, because everyone has a unique story, style, & goal for their careers. I have some friends, who are also on the road of transforming their hobby into a profession, and I want to devote parts of my blog in sharing and encouraging the resources I find to be valuable. I hope to also post information from photographers that I admire who can shed some light on topics I am still learning about.

For months on Twitter I’d been hearing about [B] School Study Hall chats. I finally watched one with Jasmine Star, and even though I felt a little like a photography nerd, {sketchbook open, volume turned up, and scribbling notes}, I learned a lot. It made me interested in checking out what the [B] School actually is and eventually I signed up. It is one of the best investments I have made. There are instructional videos, forums, and a bunch of really amazing seasoned photographers who don’t mind helping new ones out. Many of them are wedding photographers, but there are many portrait photographers who cover portrait related topics.

It was through one of these forum threads that I found out about Will Duris and his really cool iPhone mobile portfolio tool. Flash sites don’t play on mobile browsers, so instead of getting a blank screen, iPhone users can now be redirected to a mobile portfolio site that allows them to peek at my work, read my bio, and contact me when they visit It is easy to set up and he is good about answering any questions you have. It’s also very quick once you have your files ready! I still don’t have an iPhone, but I know a lot of you do. I highly recommend it. You can see more on Will’s blog and get your own set up!

Here are some examples from my iPhone mobile portfolio:

Bio & Contact section:

Here are some of the images when you look at them closer:

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a beautiful weekend ♥

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  • Sarah Beeman - October 25, 2010 - 1:59 pm

    hi! I’m 16 and have done an engagement session, family portrait session, and 3 of my friends senior pictures.. I am really enjoying what i’m doing and want to learn more! So looking around your website, i LOVE our style of photography! I Own a Canon Digital Rebel Xsi and use a telephoto 70-300 lense and was wondering what you use? I want to know what i really should invest in. The only other piece of equipment i have is a tripod haha. The lighting in your pics is just SO beautful! I’m looking to buy a new lense 🙂 Thanks 🙂

  • Andrea - October 27, 2010 - 8:45 am

    Thank you Sarah, and I’m glad you enjoy photography too! My cameras & lens collection has been growing over the years. Over time you learn what you enjoy using & what you don’t. It’s not so much that one is right and another is wrong (although if you are documenting events, you quickly learn some are more suited for certain places than others). I love using zoom lenses for children & event photography. I love using my primes for newborn portrait sessions and still life. I shoot with Nikon, but they are both amazing brands with a lot of good stuff in their lines ups. I preferred my 70-200 lens for a long time, but now I’m really appreciating my 24-70- it helps to tell the “complete” story a little better! Best of luck to you with everything!

  • Kate Childers - November 3, 2010 - 9:33 am

    Hi Andrea,

    My name is Kate and I am an spiring wedding photographer. I’ve been taking a few classes, and have a base of information about photography in general, but I really want to get a first hand view of what it’s like to be a wedding photographer. I really love your work and your style. I was wondering if you would possibly have any internship opportunities avaliable this summmer or even next summer? Thank you so much for your time! have a wonderful day!


  • Andrea - November 5, 2010 - 8:58 am

    Hi Kate, that is really cool… I’m excited for you and what you do in the future! At this time I’m not doing anything like that, but in the future I would definitely consider it. Find me on Facebook & keep in touch, so that I can let you know if I do 🙂