I came into UNITED2014 not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I was going to be reconnecting with my photography family that was born last year at a similar photography conference in Las Vegas, WPPI. Ryan Moore, Rebecca Read, Jordan Quinn – you are all my favorite ding pieces. I can’t say enough about how much fun I had with all of you. The way we help each other, the stupid things we laugh about… practicing empathy and breaking into song at Nardones La Famiglia Pizzeria while making sure to leave no carb behind… my Nail Clippin’ Photogs… I love y’all. And I’m so excited to add new names to this group of photogs I now call friends – Karena Dixon (can’t wait for June!), Jamie Grant, Mycah Burns, Ali Williamson, among many others… I am so thankful to have met all of you! Hopefully we can all work together again soon ☺
Photo credit (below): Ryan Moore Photography
Photo credit (below): Rebecca Read Photography
While UNITED put a lot emphasis on connecting with new friends – they even gave us a card with names of 3 random people we had to hug/take a selfie with – it wasn’t just a conference of photogs running around hugging (okay it kind of was but in an awesome and not creepy way). UNITED was full of incredible photography and business marketing tips like how to shoot in horrible light, how to cultivate gesture and breathe life into posing, how to create a more defined brand, building hot threads on social media… I could go on for days. But on top of all of that was a stronger, reoccurring theme presentation after presentation, speaker after speaker. The messages that stuck out to me were not about the best lenses to use or the most effective way to market to my target audience (although those were great, too). But, the lessons I hope stick with me the most are the ones that can be applied towards life in general and not just my photography business:
I am blessed. I am adequate. I am a photographer with a life outside of photography. My business does not define me. I define my business by doing what I LOVE. Use my gifts to serve others. Live a life of purpose. Redefine success.
To be completely honest, I came into UNITED feeling frustrated. I was comparing my work to other photographers, feeling inadequate, feeling envious, feeling stuck. But after being immersed in a creative environment, shooting everyday, feeling the support of other people who have been through that same mindset and made it through even stronger, learning not to compare my work to others… I left Santa Barbara with a new and refreshed outlook on not only photography, but life. I am chomping at the bit to shoot more. I am incredibly excited for wedding season to start. I am itching to put all the things I learned into practice. In other words, I. Am. Pumped.
Photo credit (below): Photo credit (below): Ryan Moore Photography
So where do I go from here? Well, if you know me, you know I have a laundry list of things to do. And that I have a list of that list categorized, prioritized, and color coated in order of importance. Branding updates, blog refocusing, workflow improvements, website curating… all of it. But at the top of those lists are these 3 things:
1. Focus on what makes me happy, and in return make clients happier.
2. Be active with the Chicago Shoot and Share group and cultivate relationships with new photographers.
3. Use my gifts to serve others.
Check back on the blog next week for more photos from the insanely beautiful shoots I did at UNITED2014 – including an offbeat beat bride sunset beach shoot and a gatsby themed trolley ride to a private estate… you won’t wanna miss it.
With the recent launch of my new website, I wanted to take this opportunity to make sure clients, friends, and family all know how to navigate through the updated client photo galleries and are aware of all the products available. All clients receive a private gallery where they can view, download, and share photos from their JTPhoto session with just a click. Clients have immediate access to their photos and can have them saved onto their computer within minutes! Gone are the days of waiting for the USB drive to arrive in the mail 🙂 Once they receive the link via email, they can simply click SELECT PHOTOS > DOWNLOAD as shown below. Using the password provided, clients can access the photos immediately.
Once clients have the photos, they are free to print wherever they choose. However, while Walgreens, Target, Staples, etc. produce a decent quality photograph; I believe the clarity, color, and overall quality of the photographs are not fully showcased to their full potential. Why spend the extra $$ to have professional photos taken to lose some of the quality in the end? That’s why clients can purchase prints, canvases, frames, etc. directly from the JTPhoto gallery and have them printed with my professional printing vendor. The video below shows how easy it is to order a custom framed print:
Clients can also order greeting cards! Thank You Cards, Save the Dates, Happy Birthday – it’s all right there. The video below shows how to order Thank You Cards using photos from your wedding gallery (the same process can be used towards Save the Dates, Birthdays, etc.).
The whole process is quick, simple, and easy. If you have any questions on how to order any products, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to help!
I met Jessica + Frank on an especially chilly afternoon in February. It happened to Valentine’s Day so the air was a little more full of love that afternoon, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep us warm from the frigid Chicago winter. But Jessica + Frank toughed it out as we shot along the lakefront in Olive Park. And by toughed it out… I mean, NO hats, NO scarves, NO gloves. I speak for them only… I’m a baby when it comes to winter – especially since I just got back from sunny Arizona – so I was bundled up to the max and I was still freezing. I can’t even imagine how they felt. But I’m so thankful that they were able to withstand the cold a bit more than I could because their photos turned out just beautiful. I shoot at Olive Park pretty frequently, and it always amazes me how couples are able to make it their own. Jessica + Frank did just that… playing in the snow, dancing in front of the skyline, and huddling close to stay warm. The shoot was especially personal when we stopped at Quay – where Frank proposed – for a few photos. I love when clients incorporate a meaningful location into their e-session. It makes it that much more special for me too… knowing that I’m helping them remember not just their wedding day, but other important life moments as well. Jessica + Frank – thanks for sharing your relationship with me! I had so much fun with you two, and I’m looking forward to photographing you both in July when we’re not frozen 🙂
Where to even begin? So far, this year has been a whirlwind of new and exciting experiences – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. From L.A., to Colorado, straight to Arizona… I’ve been taking advantage of a little time off before the craziness of wedding season ensues. Every new experience tops the next and Arizona was FULL of firsts for me. First of all, I was just happy to spend some time with my best-cousin-friend Tiff, and get to know her new husband Mike a little bit more. Top that with sunny, 75 degree weather when it’s negative degrees in Chicago… and I’m a happy girl. Throw in a few picturesque mountains and unbeatable sunsets to photograph… and I’m a bit giddy. And THEN add on exciting adventures and new foodie spots (and old favorites like In-n-Out Burger) – and I’m in heaven.
My arrival in Arizona started off perfectly with a dinner with Tiff at El Encanto Dos where we ate Queso Fundido Burros which were SO good… and I mean mouth-watering good. I’m pretty sure I ate “lunch” at like 9:30am the next day because I couldn’t wait to eat the other half of my burro. The next few days were chill, dinner at home nights… and EXACTLY what I was looking for. I had come straight to Arizona from a 5-day snowboarding trip so I was still catching up on sleep and rest. And most importantly, I really just wanted to spend some quality time with my cousin-friend and catch up 🙂 Not to mention the dinners that Mike cooked for us were delicious and it’s always comforting to eat home cooked meals. Definitely inspired me to get in the kitchen and cook more at home!
The weekend was jam packed with activities… just the way I like it 🙂 Friday we went to the Hawks vs. Coyotes game in a suite (thanks for the hookup, Mike!) – so much fun even though the Hawks lost. The pregame was pretty cool though… the 1980 Miracle Hockey Team USA was at the stadium and I literally had chills when the crowd started chanting USA USA USA. Definitely a moment I’ll never forget…
The next day we packed up the car and made an impromptu stop in Sedona for some gorgeous pictures and hole in the wall BBQ before heading to the Grand Canyon for a helicopter tour. The helicopter tour was just incredible and I still cannot believe we were in the middle of… well, nothing basically. I am beyond thankful to Mike for suggesting this activity. I will never forget it. I’ll also never forget the Green Chili Cheeseburger we got from Whataburger that night, either haha 🙂 I’ll let the photos of Sedona/Grand Canyon speak for themselves…
After sleeping in a little bit the next day – I think it’s safe to say we were all a little zonked from our adventures the previous day – we started our Sunday activity… Gun shooting. Yes, we went to the Scottsdale Gun Club. And let me tell you, I’ve never been so scared in my life. Now, I’ve gone sport clay shooting with a shotgun, jumped out of a plane (twice!), hang-glided over Wisconsin, been white water rafting in Colorado, scuba diving in Key West and Mexico… but I’ve honestly never been so scared! And I don’t exactly know why… and it definitely wasn’t expected! But after shooting off a few rounds and getting used to the gun, I started to really like it and felt a little more comfortable. I was able to hit the target in the chest most of the time… which made it look like I knew what I was doing… but really I was aiming for the head so my aim isn’t that great. Regardless, it was definitely another experience I will never forget. After calming down a bit, we headed to Cave Creek which is basically a little western town full of motorcycle bars and Indian shops. The best way I can describe it is that I felt like I was in the Southwest Territory at Six Flags. Eating a funnel cake about to ride the Viper, haha.
Monday I drove up to Flagstaff (about a 2+ hour drive) to go snowboarding at Snowbowl. I figured I might as well hit up one more mountain before heading back to flatsville Midwest. Had there been more snow, I think it would have been pretty nice. But just leaving Colorado where there was 20+ inches of fresh pow – I was a little biased. But I will say the drive was gorgeous. I think I could drive in the mountains forever.
The next day, I had a client consult in Old Town Scottsdale, so I made the drive out and stopped at the Desert Botanical Garden beforehand. Chihuly, the artist that created the glass ceiling at the Bellagio, had an exhibit throughout the gardens, which was pretty interesting. But I have to say my favorite photos came from the desert sunset. But, one of the photos below, which is my favorite of the entire trip, was actually taken on the side of the road. I was heading out of the garden and looked to my left and thought to myself, “that’s pretty much the exact shot I’ve been looking for this entire trip.” So I had to pull over and capture it 🙂
My last day in Arizona ties the Grand Canyon day as my favorite. It was spent soaking up some sun before heading back to Old Town with Tiff and doing a little shopping. I had stumbled upon this part of town that she had actually never seen before so it was nice to explore it together. After buying a few things… which include a friendship bracelet, “desk” boot, and a pretty awesome southwest poncho complete with fringe and hanging feathers (yes, I will be proudly rocking this in Chicago), we met Mike at Dick’s Hideaway. Now, being the unofficial foodie that I am… I love local hotspots, genuine food true to the area, and especially hidden gems. Dick’s Hideaway hit the trifecta as it didn’t even have a sign on the door and was home to authentic and delicious New Mexican food. The ambiance was great… but even better was the company. It was the perfect way to end my visit to Arizona… spending quality time with Tiff and Mike reminiscing about all the fun things we had done together over the past week.
That’s all folks! Way longer than I anticipated, but I had so much to share from this amazing trip that it just kept flowing (plus I’m on the plane back to Chicago right now so there isn’t much else for me to do). I cannot thank Tiff and Mike enough for their hospitality, home cooked meals, tours of AZ, letting me drive Mike’s car all over the state, and even the “limo” service to the airport complete with suggestions for my next vacation… New York/D.C. here I come??
If I had to describe this trip in one word, it would be crunchy. Yes, crunchy. Spending a few days in Colorado, I learned some new words: epic, sketch, bomb… but my favorite by far is crunchy because there isn’t a better word to describe how fun this trip was. For 4 years now, I’ve been wanting to come out to Colorado to test out my snowboarding skills and this year, I finally made it. A few friends and I rented a house in Breckenridge just a short bus ride away from the slopes, shredded fresh pow pow everyday (and by fresh pow I mean a record breaking 26+ inches in 24 hours), soaked in the hot tub in the middle of snowy mountains while drinking craft beer, jammed to Doses and Mimosas on a daily basis, and learned a little too much about each other playing Truth or Dare amongst many other games. The group skill level ranged from beginner to pretty much pro, but we all found a way to cruise down the slopes together and have an unforgettable time. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking… but next year, Montana??
Next stop on the travel blog… Arizona! And in case you missed Part I of my travels, read about L.A and Santa Monica here.
*Photos are a compilation taken on my phone, point and shoot camera, Canon 5d Mark iii, and by friends’ iPhones (Ryan Zerante and Krista Johnson).