Posts tagged advice
Creatives and Burn Out: You Are Enough
Adventuring in Lawrenceville with a beloved friend! photo cred: Mary Kuehn (the friend, lol)

Adventuring in Lawrenceville with a beloved friend! photo cred: Mary Kuehn (the friend, lol)

Hi friend! This is a personal blog post, which I love to do every once and a while. Transparency means so much when getting to know your photog! If you want to see more portfolio-like content, click on over here!

When people talk about burn-out, it's generally meant that they feel overwhelmed, over scheduled, stressed out, in a rut, passionless, cynical, "over it", hopeless, on and on. It might seem like someone who's in a creative field - who's constantly CREATING something new, something fresh, something exciting - would find it hard to reach that place, right? Maybe you are a creative reading this, and find yourself comparing your work to others, struggling to find your passion, not looking forward to things you used to? Maybe you haven't blogged in two weeks (ahem) and you are just wanting a break to actually be at your house and spend time there, maybe even clean it? (that always gets pushed to the bottom of the list!)

Burn-out is real, and burn-out is relative. Not everyone can produce the same amount in a day, whether that be photos, social media content, articles, products, whatever whatever whatever! I often have to check my heart to not only stop myself from judging MY performance against others, but others against mine! How terrible does that sound? If you are treating others, and yourself, based on what you/they produce, you need to check that at the door. Give yourself, and others, grace! It's okay to leave a few things unchecked on your to-do list. Nothing is as urgent as taking care of yourself and your soul.

I feel that transparency and self-care, along with ALLOWING yourself to put on the brakes every once and a while is NECESSARY - and definitely something I struggle with a lot. Get coffee with me, and certainly you will hear the phrase "I never feel like I'm doing ENOUGH." And I know a LOT of other people that feel this way too. You set a standard for yourself, and if you don't meet it, you "fail." But I realized recently that standards HAVE to be fluid. Your "enough" is based on a million things that are NOT constant like time, energy, commitments, health, family... so why should your standards be rigid if the rest of your life is not? 

If you a religious person, you may have heard the phrase that "Jesus is enough." That sounds amazing and is probably on a t-shirt somewhere, but what does that actually, tangibly mean and how do I live my life showing that I believe that? I'm sure the answer is different for everyone, but what I've found is that to embrace that God is enough and not rely on yourself means that first you set realistic standards of what you CAN do. Be honest with yourself. Then, you do what you CAN in a day given all the factors against you. At the end of the day when you're looking at all the things you didn't get done but wanted to, you then CHOOSE to not worry, be thankful for what you DID get done, and literally just relax and take time to recharge. Some pastors call that "resting in grace" - and I had to figure out what that tangibly meant. I spend so much time and mental energy thinking about what I HAVE to do, that figuring out what I WANT to do with my free time (that I have to MAKE) was a challenge. But now, I realize that's what "resting in grace" means for me: just rest, and stop freaking out, because God's got you and it's going to be okay.

You may know that almost 3 years ago now I lost my father to a really aggressive cancer. I often think about how he worked so hard as a mechanic his whole life, with the goal of retirement and adventuring with mom, taking trips, and filling his time with memories. Luckily, dad also knew how to enjoy life right where he was, and often took trips and had adventures (not to mention a million hobbies) to enrich the everyday life instead of just grinding away for that "someday." It took me way too long to realize that this is the key to happiness for a "type A" like myself - make time for rest and fun in the here and now.

Before he passed, I inherited his old Canon A1 film camera, and recently committed to learning how to use it and shoot on film. It's a completely different beast than digital, and the thing I've loved most about film is that it FORCES you to go slow, wait for the moment, notice all the details, and value the experience. Digital cameras can rapid-fire off shots like a machine gun, and while that's definitely my go-to for client sessions to ensure I don't miss anything, film has been an amazing antidote for burn-out for me because of all the reasons above. Any time I go on an adventure, the film camera comes along - not so I can "work", but so I can be more present. I'm still not perfect at it, but I'm having a great time with it, and it's a way to keep dad with me in those adventures he loved so much too.

If you are experiencing burn-out, I encourage you to tap into your curiosity. Learn something, pick up a new hobby, inject some "different" into your life. It will give you a distraction, a spark, a reprieve, and you just might discover one more thing that you're awesome at! Hope you enjoy these highlights from a few of my adventures this summer, all shot on film and with dad's A1!

My husband Brandon in the Greenhouse at The Frick in Pittsburgh.

My husband Brandon in the Greenhouse at The Frick in Pittsburgh.

Friends Liz and Adam exploring The Frick with us!

Friends Liz and Adam exploring The Frick with us!

More candids in the greenhouse at The Frick!

More candids in the greenhouse at The Frick!

Brandon waiting to board the Assateague Adventure boat on our trip to Ocean City.

Brandon waiting to board the Assateague Adventure boat on our trip to Ocean City.

Skimming for critters in the bay at Assateague.

Skimming for critters in the bay at Assateague.

Found a lot of minnows!

Found a lot of minnows!

The bay side of Ocean City, Maryland.

The bay side of Ocean City, Maryland.

Fenwick Island lighthouse in Delaware.

Fenwick Island lighthouse in Delaware.

Pier at Ocean City.

Pier at Ocean City.

My best friend's amazing daughter who let me braid her hair in a crown 'cause she's a princess!

My best friend's amazing daughter who let me braid her hair in a crown 'cause she's a princess!

My mom Judi and her grumpy pup Digger.

My mom Judi and her grumpy pup Digger.

Eclipse Bridge at Buttermilk Falls in Armaugh.

Eclipse Bridge at Buttermilk Falls in Armaugh.

My gorgeous friend Mary and I (behind lens) being silly creatives together in Lawrenceville!

My gorgeous friend Mary and I (behind lens) being silly creatives together in Lawrenceville!

More gorgeous Mary laying on the ground by ice-cream-esque lines in a cemetery because why not?

More gorgeous Mary laying on the ground by ice-cream-esque lines in a cemetery because why not?

The street art in Lawrenceville is pretty colorful and amazing.

The street art in Lawrenceville is pretty colorful and amazing.

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What Brides Wish They Would Have Known
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You are undoubtedly getting TONS of advice from family and friends about planning your wedding, but what do actual brides wish they would have known about wedding photography before getting married? I conducted a survey with real life actual brides, some past clients of mine and some not, and asked them "What do you wish you would have known earlier about wedding photography?" See what they had to say below, with some additional insight from yours truly.

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It’s important to do research and make sure that your photographer has a style that you like. I found one that has the style I wanted and wouldn’t break my bank. I consider myself lucky because some photographers will charge a small fortune!!

I tell this to my clients all the time and also include it in my contracts. With so many great photographers out there, there really is someone that can fit your needs. Determine if you like the clean and colorful, the bright and airy, or the dark and moody kind of style as you look through galleries. In today's age of digital editing and with awesome websites that are easier than ever to create, take some time to research a look you really love. While I CANT guarantee you will love your photos, you CAN make sure that you are likely to by picking a style you want.


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How early you should book to be sure they’re available! I’m so thankful we did this early—we didn’t realize how quickly people book. Thankful we got Jill!!

As a type A person, I am ALWAYS planning ahead. This can be overwhelming for some brides, but if you consider that there are only a handful of Saturday's in the year with ideal weather for a wedding, you definitely want to give your prospective photographer a shout-out sooner rather than later. I recommend booking about a year in advance, or even longer if you have your heart set on a certain person to do your photos. I've had brides book 2 years out, and I've had some lucky ones snag a date a few months away - the more flexible you can be, the more time you can allow to pass.


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How much time and effort goes into into it such as the hours spent at the wedding/reception!

The "Wedding Hangover" is no joke, and I'm not talking about anything to do with alcohol. Your photographer should work HARD for you. It's a very long, but very rewarding day. Be sure to remember your photographer when assigning seats and counting for meals.


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How colors and lighting affect my photos.

It's our hope that you choose colors for your wedding that you love, because they will be all over your photos. Also consider that when DJ's use uplighting around your reception, that they will likely pull in your theme colors. If you have red or orange dresses, be sure that you want your reception hall washed in red light all evening and that you want the background of your photos to be that color as well.


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Just have fun with the pictures and don’t stress over them. I worried about looking unnatural and forced. If the photographer will guide me to look my best (because I'm no model)! Haha

Good photographers will give you clear directions, encouragement, and positive feedback. I myself like to model what I'm asking you to do by doing it myself first. This seems especially helpful to the grooms. Don't stress about the pose, or sometimes lack thereof, either. Most of the times, photographers want you to forget that they are even there, but good photographers will give you something to say or do to get your mind off of being the center of attention. I ALWAYS recommend scheduling an engagement session so you can feel comfortable with your photographaer and familarize yourself with their shooting style and diretion giving.


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How to communicate what I want to my photographer.

This one is so important, I even modified my contact form to include it right off the bat. If getting every combination of family portrait is important to you, then ABSOLUTELY give your photogrpaher a list of who all you want to be photogrpahed together. If beautiful portraits are importatnt to you, then give your photogrpaher at least 45 minutes to work with just you and your groom (and it will help if you allow your photogrpaher to choose a location for your photos too!)


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How much time and effort goes into editing the photos after the big day.

Girl. Preach. We photographers love making you happy - its why we are doing this in the first place. But be gentle with us post-wedding: it takes several hours (1-3) alone just to go through and "pick out" the keepers and organize them. For my particular work flow, it takes about another hour after that to pick out sneak peeks, instagram posts, photos for your blog post, and a facebook album. After that, it's a good 8-10 hours of editing the rest (especially if there's something we need to "photoshop out" - add another hour or two for that), uploading them to your online gallery, writing your blog, creating a facebook gallery, etc. Gone are the days of shoot and burn (to a disc)!


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That good photographers are more available than I thought.

Don't be discouraged by anything. There are TONS of photographers out there. Lots of photographers that are just starting out have great talent and low prices. Don't think that just because you have a tight budget you can't have nice photos. Find a photographer with a style that you love, and if you can't afford them, ask them who they would recommend for a smaller budget. We all know eachother's prices. The best person to point you in the right direction is another (kind) photographer.


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