When a new couple books with me, not only do I get to add another couple of clients to my list, I get to add a couple of new friends to my family! That's why I love pampering my couples with a few surprises along the way. A couple months ago, I shared all about my welcome packages that I send to each new bride when they officially book with me. If you missed that post, you can read it first here. After an engaged couple books with me, the next step is finding a time for engagement portraits. I LOVE this time to get to know my couples' stories and help them get acquainted with my shooting style. But after the engagement session, I often don't see them again until the wedding which is usually several months away! I wanted to be able to send my couples a little something to let them know I'm thinking about them and to help them take some time away from the craziness of wedding planning to enjoy some time together, celebrating this season!
In comes "date-night-in-a-box." A new feature I'll be spoiling my 2020 couples with starting with weddings booked for next year! A month before the wedding is when we finalize all the wedding photography details, so I thought, why not also send some goodies to my couples to celebrate?! My vision for this box is that it will be a way for my couples to connect with one another and to focus on spending intentional time with one another before the wedding day. Keep scrolling to see all I'll include in my date night client gift boxes!
"Take some time to treat yourself to scrumptious appetizers or desserts from one of my favorite restaurants followed by a night at the movies. Afterward, come home, light a candle, and be transported to one of my favorite places-- the beach, with the smell of driftwood and sea salt filling the room as you open up a bag of sweet treats and write each other love letters to exchange on your wedding day!"
My hope is that when my couples receive this gift a few weeks before their wedding day, they'll be able to take a load off, open their Packlane custom branded box, choose a date night and head for The Cheesecake Factory and Regal, come home to one of my favorite Target candles and some Skinny-Dipped Almonds and be able to cherish a few moments together as they write. I am SO excited to start implementing these into my process and workflow, and I cannot wait to see what amazing memories my couples will be able to create with their date night boxes! :)
Starting this year, I knew I wanted to make some changes in my business. I knew there were areas I could use a little help as my business has continued to grow. Earlier in the year, I hired a private photo editor to help speed up the back end of things with client gallery delivery and editing consistency. Next, I knew getting help on the front end would be a good idea as well! I loved using different local photographers as second shooters up until this point, but I really had a heart for being able to build a little community where I could invest in just a couple growing photographers to both help me serve my couples better on the day of the wedding with consistent shooters but also invest in their growth and mentor them even outside of wedding days. That desire led me to create an application an to open up two shooting intern positions this summer, and I had some of the sweetest people apply! I was thankful for each girl who sat down for an interview with me. And I'm thrilled the search ultimately led me to these two sweet beauties- Haley & Taylor!
So today on the blog, I wanted to introduce them to you! They've already started working behind-the-scenes and at a couple of my weddings so far, but you'll be seeing a lot more of them around, especially if you are an NLP couple this year or in 2020! I'm confident that they will treat you as their own and do everything they can to enhance your experience by lending a helping hand on your wedding day, capturing unique angles and supplementing my photography in the best way. I can't wait to introduce them to you, so keep scrolling! :)
Hey friends! My name is Haley Collier, and a few of my favorite things include coffee, my doggies, my hubby, & celebrating people! I’m from good ole’ South Carolina (Go Tigers!), but I don’t care for sweet tea all that much; peach tea is the bomb!
My photography journey started in high school, making my friends pose every few minutes with my little point and shoot camera from Wal-Mart. It remained a hobby until about 4 years ago, when I challenged myself to learn manual mode! Ever since then, I’ve been learning & growing! Photography allows me to serve people, and bring their unique beauty to the forefront. It makes my heart so happy!
When I’m not behind a camera, you might find me loving on my Great Danes, Lucy & Ellie, watching FRIENDS reruns on Netflix, or thrift shopping at my local Goodwill.. ohh, did I mention I also work as a sign language interpreter?! That’s right!
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with Nichole to help serve her NLP couples in the best way possible. If you’ve ever met her, then you know she’s like a ray of sweet, warm sunshine! She’s already taught me so much, and I’m so excited to see what’s to come!
Hey ya'll! My name is Taylor Courtney, and I am so excited to be one of the Nichole Lauren shooting interns! I am originally from Massachusetts, which is where most of my family live as well as scattered around the east coast. My parents, siblings and I moved to the south when I was 4 years old, so if anyone asks where I'm from, I say South Carolina because I have been here for most of my life.
I first fell in love with photography when I was in middle school. I had a passion for photographing landscape and small details in nature (which is why detail shots have always been my favorite part of the wedding day). I enjoy capturing photographs from a different perspective and angles some might not see at first glance. In 2013, cousin reached out to do maternity photos with her first baby, and that's when I entered the portrait photography world! It is such a beautiful thing to be able to freeze such special moments in time for a families and couples.
Outside of photography, I have recently found an interest in fashion and shopping, I love looking through Instagram to find inspiration. I am currently watching Black-ish and One Tree Hill on Hulu. Anyone else find themselves, 10 episodes deep in a series in one day?! My new favorite drink at Starbucks is an Iced Cocoa Cloud Macchiato. And it doesn't matter what season it is, I will drink iced coffee all year long.
I am soo excited to assist Nichole during wedding season and to photograph these memories for NLP couples! It warms my heart seeing the love between two people on their best day!
Something super fun about being a wedding photographer is getting to pamper my clients! While photography in itself is a creative art, putting together client gifts is just as much of a creative endeavor, and one that I absolutely love! I have always enjoyed giving gifts even more than getting them. I love going to pick out things I know my friends will loved, and carefully handpicking the items for these gift boxes was no different! Each of the items in these boxes is not sponsored in any way, just products I personally love! As soon as a new bride for 2019 or 2020 books with me, she'll be getting this new and improved welcome box! So I thought I'd give you a little peek inside. Can't wait to meet you, future Nichole Lauren Bride! :)
Starting off, I knew I wanted a branded box that was both easy to mail and visually appealing. Packlane really did the job right, and I love how these mailers turned out! Next, I want to make sure all my brides know exactly what they're getting into when booking me as their wedding photographer. So I've created a custom bridal magazine specifically for my brides! This baby is full of advice, info about me, and images from past weddings sprinkled in. This is the most important piece of my welcome gift!
When you get engaged, EVERYONE is going to be asking to see your ring and that also means... they'll be looking at your hands! I want my brides to pamper themselves and keep their hands the prettiest they can be. So I've included this Glow Lab hand cream and Essie nail polish in one of my favorite colors to do just that!
Finally, as wedding time approaches, there are no doubt, countless times you'll need to write things down during everything from venue scouting to cake tasting. I love these Rifle Paper Co. notebooks that are both adorable and easy to stick in your purse for on-the-go writing.
So excited to send these new packages out soon to all my new brides!! If you're interested in becoming a Nichole Lauren Bride, head to my contact page to inquire, and I can't wait to send one of these packages over to you!
So you've got a photography business, had your fair share of family and senior sessions and are looking to connect with the wedding world. This leap isn't easy, and I remember when I was on the edge of this precipice, I was a little more than intimidated. I had no idea where to even begin to start attracting brides to my business and to gain experience. Now, there is a whole other blog post I could do (and maybe will do in the coming weeks if you think it would be helpful!) of ways I prepped for the wedding industry and got my foot in the door so to speak, but today, I want to focus on one of the best things I did for my business starting out photographing weddings... styled shoots! I get a lot of questions about how I plan, organize, and execute my styled shoots, so I hope this post will be helpful and an encouragement to you that NOW is the best time to get started shooting weddings regardless of whether you have any booked or not. I did four styled shoots last year and one this year, and they all were amazing learning experiences for me. But before I get into some tips for the planning process and best practices of styled shoots, I want to explain a few points on how valuable these can be to your business:
1. Increase your vendor connections.
This is likely the most important part of any styled shoot. Connecting with other professionals in your industry (no matter what it is) is one of the best things you can do for your business. Not only do you gain friends in your location who are encouraging and fun to work with, but you also get to build a list of recommended vendors to refer your clients to and hopefully get your name on some recommended vendor lists as well!
2. Build your personal brand.
Since styled shoots are planned by you, you get a lot of creative freedom to make it what you'd like it to be. Does you brand implement elements of blush and navy? Make a styled shoot that reflects that so that when you share your images on your site, it'll look so amazing!! This is your chance to incorporate branding consistency into your images in ways you just can't do when shooting a wedding someone else planned.
3. Gain publishing opportunities.
Last year as I was starting out in the wedding industry, I planned a executed a total of four styled shoots. It was a lot of work but so worth it! I ended up joining Two Bright Lights for a short time and vigorously started submitting my work from three of the styled shoots. I am so humbled and excited to say that the ones I submitted made the cut to be published on Borrowed & Blue this summer! Not only does being published lend credibility to your name, but it also gives your business's online presence a little boost as it gets linked to wedding blogs that brides constantly use. Click the links below to see my features on the B&B site!!
4. Build your portfolio.
This is a pretty self-explanatory reason and probably the biggest reason you may want to do a styled shoot in the first place. After all, it's hard to attract brides when you don't have samples of your work to show them! Styled shoots allow you to manipulate your shooting situations in a way a normal wedding day just won't. You get extended time with the bride and groom that you just don't get on normal wedding days. You get lighting and backdrops that you sometimes just don't find on normal wedding days. It's just an all-around good time for any photographer who wants to grow her portfolio or get to showcase their best work.
My Styled Shoot Formula
My formula for styled shoots is quite simple. I start out by first brainstorming my vision for the shoot. This includes creating a inspirational Pinterest board and thinking through colors, theme, and possible vendors and models. Next, I send out my inquiry emails to vendors. I start off with one vendor in each category and have a list ready with other potential vendors in case the initial ones don't work out. More often than not, I get "yes" responses on the first try which initially was surprising to me but super exciting! Vendors typically like styled shoots because they too can use their creative license to make something they've been wanting to try. I've included a sample of the email I use to email vendors and ask for their help below. Feel free to use this and tweak it to fit your needs! Once I start getting responses, I start formulating a tentative timeline and list of definite vendors. I then communicate the details and vision of the shoot to everyone on the team and let the magic of the creatives collaboration happen. I try to send out a reminder and final check-in email about one week in advance of the shoot just to touch base and give any last minute details. I've also included a sample timeline of one of my styled shoots below. It's so nice having so much time for details and bride and groom portraits because those are my absolute favorite parts of wedding days!
Sample vendor inquiry email:
My name is Nichole Martinson, I’m a local photographer in the area (owner of Nichole Lauren Photography). I am currently putting together a wedding styled photo shoot and in the process of putting together an amazing team of vendors to help create our vision. We plan on submitting the images to blogs like Style Me Pretty and Borrowed & Blue.
The reason I am writing is I am looking for an amazing bridal boutique willing to provide a wedding dress for our styled shoot. We would love to have you join our team! In return for your generosity, you would receive all of the edited digital images for your own marketing and advertising purposes, as well as credit to your business if we are successful in getting published. We are tentatively looking at September 9, 2017 to host the shoot.
Would you be interested in working with us? We would absolutely love to have you! Thank you for your time, I truly appreciate it!
Sample Styled Shoot Timeline:
Everyone arrives - 2:30 pm
Hair & Makeup - 2:45 pm
Reception detail shots - 3:30 pm
Bride & Groom Portraits - 5:00 pm
Sunset - 7:39 pm
These images are from one of my favorite styled shoots that I did a little over a year ago. This vendor team was phenomenal. Many thanks to:
Dress: The White Magnolia
Venue: Gassaway Mansion
Floral Design: Gassaway Mansion
Paper Suite: 37th and Lettery
Hair & Makeup: Cotton Rouge
Cake: Couture Cakes
Thinking about planning a styled shoot? I'd LOVE to hear how it goes, and I'd love to know if this post was helpful to you! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out!
Starting my third year of business comes with so many interesting feelings. I've gotten much more experience under my belt and feel like I now can focus more on refining my style, serving my clients well, and giving back to help others who are in the place I was two years ago. I want to write more posts about topics I had questions about when I was just starting out, and I hope they will be a resource for budding photographers. So today, I want to share my number one business secret (and a freebie!!) with you that I practiced from the very beginning and that radically changed the way I approached my business. It's something you can do too. Here it is:
"The secret of my success was and still is how I reflect on my service."
It might sound cryptic or maybe even a little silly, but in all honesty, the person I learned the most from when I was starting my business was myself. And I don't mean to say I knew all the answers...far from it! There were and still are so many seasoned photographers who poured into me to help me get to where I am today. I couldn't have done it without their guidance and a commitment to reaching out to others for education. But, when it came down to it, a lot of what I learned about photography and serving my clients came through trial and error. It came from being aware of what I did during sessions, to market myself, and how I would edit...figuring out what worked best for me and what didn't work so well. Sounds simple, right?! And let me tell you, it is! And it was the best thing I've done for my business! Here's the scoop!
"I organize my business in three ways: a master Day Designer planner for all my activities, a monthly paper calendar for just my photography appointments, and a tabbed three-ring binder for session notes."
My three-ring binder used to be a basic college-ruled notebook that I would just journal in after each session or take other random photography notes in. That quickly changed into a template I wrote out in that same journal to rate myself in a few areas after each session and log info about each session. Recently, I laid out my template in a PDF format to print out and store in a three-ring binder for easy access and organization.
"Now, after each session or wedding, I write about my experiences and rate myself as I reflect on how I think the day went."
Before my next session or wedding, I flip back through my notes to pinpoint areas I want to keep doing well and other areas I want to strive to improve myself. You guys, this has literally been a game changer for me. I can't tell you how helpful and also encouraging it has been to go back and look to see how far I've come from my very first session. I hope you'll consider implementing this in your business because I think it'll make a world of difference for you. To get you started, I'm leaving a link for you to download my session note-taking template. I hope you'll find it helpful! And If you use it and notice a difference, I'd love to hear about it!
Enjoy this free download of my post session note-taking & reflection template!
Prior to my birthday this year, I had been using a makeshift camera bag (which I was pretty proud of at the time) that consisted of a faux leather Forever 21 bag and a cheaply made Amazon camera bag insert. It did the trick for a while...but then my equipment collection grew, and the strap broke during one of my shoots. Needless to say, my makeshift bag became a pain, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend time finding (or spending money on) a new camera bag when there were other things I felt like I needed to focus on in my business. Well, thank goodness for sweet people in your life who know what you need!
A few months ago I invited my boyfriend, Hunter, to come along to an engagement session with me for the first time. It was out of town in NC, the couple was bringing their adorable dog, and it was supposed to end up snowing, so we made a day trip out of it....
Being the thoughtful (and very generous!) guy that he is, he noticed and remembered the dilapidated bag at that photo-shoot and surprised me with a brand new, super nice leather designer camera bag on my birthday about a month later... from a brand that hadn't even been on my radar until I got this gift from him! (Does he have great taste/research skills or what?!) When I was first starting out in my business, I knew I was so curious about what gear to start investing in and also what I would need to bring along to shoot at my first session and eventually my first wedding, so I thought it might be helpful to share what I keep in my bag. Plus, it gave me a good excuse to photograph it! So I've broken this up into three sections: The Essentials, The Gear, and The Bag. Have something else I should add to my checklist to bring along to shoots and weddings? I'd love to know what's in your bag in the comments below!
THE ESSENTIALS - MORE THAN JUST TAKING PICTURES
THE GEAR - EQUIPMENT FOR EVERY OCCASION
THE BAG - FEATURES I LOVE MOST
Aaaaannnndddd my super cute Kelly Moore Westminster Hobo bag is on sale at a pretty good price right now! So if you need a new bag, check it out!!
It's only been a week since graduation, and I'm already doing some big time reflecting. I've hit the ground running with my new part time job and have taken on more weddings than I've ever photographed in such a short amount of time. God has been really good, and I think the busyness of this time is truly a blessing because He knows that if I graduated college and started off bored, my life would be miserable. I am a person that truly feeds off of a full schedule (like the ones we keep in school), and little did I know, life would get even busier after college (at least for this first few months)! Something that has been on my heart lately is helping other, growing photographers. I've been trying to go over in my mind the things I have learned over the past two years as well as the questions and roadblocks I've run into while starting and running my business. I want to be a resource and encouragement to other photographers just as the people who have mentored me have been. So today, I thought I'd share how it really is running a business while going to school full time. Plus, I wanted to share a little of my senior session that I'm in love with! Julia Rose Photography did such an amazing job, and it was so fun to be in front of the camera for a change!
Maybe you're student thinking of starting your business while in school and you feel a little scared or overwhelmed at that thought. Maybe you're a student who's already started a business, and you've got so much going on that you feel a little discouraged and are reconsidering that decision. I hope my advice and reflection will be a help and encouragement to you!
Another spring season has ended. WOW. God has been immensely good to me! And I would not be where I am today without YOU, so thank you for your incredible support!I can hardly believe I've photographed two spring senior seasons now, and it's crazy to think just how much can change in only one year. Last year as I was just starting out with Nichole Lauren Photography, it was all I could do to learn as much as I could to sharpen my photography skills so that they would be up to par to work with paying clients. Inevitably, some essential business-related things fell to the wayside. Looking back in retrospect, I can clearly see a few areas I wish I had known more about before jumping into working with clients, so if you're in that boat now, maybe I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. There are some essentials I've learned you've got to have to succeed! So let's get started! Enjoy a few photos of my beautiful roommates mixed in with the words of advice. :)
1. Contracts are a must.
When I was just starting out, I only made my clients sign a model release form so I could legally post their images on my blog and website. That's better than nothing, but it's not great. You need to have some sort of document that outlines your expectations for your clients and what they can expect from you. Be overly clear about anything you think is pertinent. It's better to be painfully obvious than to leave an important issue to the imagination. Once you deal with clients on a more regular basis, you will learn what is important to include. Consider hiring a professional to discuss your contract with you.
2. Deposits are a really good idea.
Some photographers don't require a deposit to book. Each business is different, but for my needs and according to my experience, requiring a deposit from my clients to book a date at least a week in advance has relieved a lot of frustration and confusion. My deposit is non-refundable, but it goes toward the final session fee. So, my clients aren't paying an extra fee as long as they follow through with the session which almost always happens. And I really think that success comes from having the deposit in the first place.
3. Dedicate a webpage to explain your packages and pricing.
Or create a PDF you can send to clients when they ask about your packages. Either way, having a link or something pre-made that you can send makes responding to inquiries stress-free and an overall better experience for you and your clients. They get a consistent response from you, and you can tailor your materials to reflect your packages accurately so you don't have to recreate your explanations each time you receive an inquiry.
4. Community is your most valuable resource.
Greenville finally got a Rising Tide Society #TuesdaysTogether group, and it was the greatest day ever. I've only been to one meeting because of school and work, but the online community has been overwhelmingly helpful. Connecting with other photographers in your area is so, so important. I don't think you really realize how important it is until you run into a problem or an opportunity that only another photographer would understand. It's valuable!
5. Never forget why you do what you do.
Especially at the end of a busy season, it's so easy to feel tired and burnt out. You love what you do, but you've been doing it over and over in a short span of time that it feels typical and being creative gets harder. Never forget that you're not just a glorified shutter clicker; you are changing lives! You are capturing moments no one else will in a way that only you can. That's powerful, and that's important. People are hiring YOU to help them remember the way they are right now, and that's pretty special.
Lots of photographers would love your help at a wedding, so don't be intimidated to ask! Volunteer your time to some individuals whose work you admire and see what they say. The worst thing they could tell you is "no," and, even then, you would still have the advantage of presenting yourself and just getting your face and name out there in case an opportunity does arise down the road.
Pass out your business card like it's free money! As long as you are accommodating, enthusiastic, and determined, an opportunity will come, and that will be an exciting day! As you start preparing for that second-shooting gig, there are several key things to keep in mind.
Wedding photographers can be hired from anywhere from a couple hours to an entire day. It's for this reason that you should come prepared. The primary photographer should contact you in advance and let you know the times he/she would like for you to arrive as well as a general idea of how you'll be helping. Based on that window of time and the responsibilities, you can prepare in a few ways. Here are some questions to consider:
The day of the wedding can give you all kinds of crazy emotions, but hopefully you've planned ahead. In that case, the rest will be smooth sailing! Don't believe me? I promise that once you get there, you will get into a rhythm and it won't seem half as intimidating as you might think. Trust your primary photographer, and dive in!
Once you arrive at the venue (hopefully several minutes early), take a look around and get situated with your equipment. Now's a good time to check your lighting and camera settings, and then jump right in an ask how you can help!
Have a fun story about the first wedding you photographed? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Did this post prove helpful in preparing you for your first second-shooting experience? I'd love to hear about that too!
And as a bonus, Katelyn James, an influential photog I've mentioned on here before, uploaded a free second-shooter checklist on her blog a couple days ago! Talk about perfect timing. For a limited time, you can download it and catch a little peek at her husband's method when he second-shoots with his wife at weddings! He talks about the types of shots he captures as well as the equipment he uses to do so!
Stay sweet and stay tuned, friends, you're doing great things! (Photographs from a recent wedding I second-shot with Christa Rene Photography.)
I love travel and adventure. I love seeing things from new perspectives. I love to find good food in exciting places. And I love making moments last for as long as possible.
Follow along for behind-the-scenes on Instagram!