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Archive for November, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 24th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Style

Go stuff yourself until you can’t move! We want to thank each and everyone one of you for reading our blog and making this our best year ever! We love you!!!

psst… we’d love to hear what you are thankful for this year, in your business or personal life!


Raise Your Hand if You Want to Save Time

November 17th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

This is the season for marathon editing. My last wedding was October 23rd and I have a big gap til December 4th, to get really caught up. My nose is pointed at the keyboard 12 hours a day, with little breaks here and there. At least, that’s how it’s been in years past. I’ve finally smartened up!

I photograph about 40 portrait sessions and 25 weddings a year. My season is short, from May-Oct, generally. So, I have to cram in a lot of man hours in that small amount of time, meanwhile having a daughter at home from school in the summer.

What gets me through the crazy editing season:

Two offices- Best thing I ever did was to rent a space outside of my home as a second office. It’s mainly just where I meet clients, but it’s also a quiet place with little distraction that I can go knock out a bunch of work. My home office is where I can be a bit messy and disorganized, but my downtown office space needs to stay neat and tidy. It forces me to stay on task. Worth every BIG penny.


Two computers- I have a desktop computer and a laptop. Mac or PC, whatever your preference, it’s all about getting those 2 to talk to each other. When one computer is mad at me for having every program running, and wants to stall and powder it’s nose, I don’t get mad, I just use the other one. My laptop is my workhorse though. I find the portability to be indispensable, the 8 hour battery life is a plus. My favorite use for having two computers is working on the laptop, yet having the desktop entertain me with Hulu or Pandora for some much needed distraction. I thrive on multi-tasking, so 2 computers is a must. Moving that laptop over to a higher counter and working while standing is also a good way to stretch my back and give it a break from being hunched over a computer desk all day. My laptop and external hard drives easily pack into a purse-like computer bag and travel in between my offices.

A consistent backup system- I use Lacie Rugged Hard Drives. These little guys are such a life saver. Every work in progress, that means the folder of RAW files before they’re even culled, gets put onto 2 external hard drives before I even touch it. After culling and editing, that final folder then is copied onto 3 drives and 2 dvds. One dvd goes to my downtown office, one stays at home. At the end of the season, a set of backed up hard drives will also go to the downtown office. Once I wrap my head around a good online data storage company, I’ll use that too. Seems excessive? Nope. Lose one file and you’ll start backing things up in droves. Fact.

Multiple card readers- Why isn’t there a big multi card reader already invented?? I have 7 USB CF card readers all connected to one hub that then connects to my computer. I can put all 7 cards in at once and import them all while I’m pouring myself a glass of wine and cleaning out my camera bag for the next gig (no pun). I used to use Firewire 800 readers, but a side by side showed them to be not a smidge faster yet 5 times as expensive. Using 8GB cards has really sped up my downloading process as well. Right now, I feel like they’re just the right size to not freak me out entirely if anything goes corrupt, but they’re still plenty big.


Outsourcing album design- I used to design my own albums. My thinking was that 1) I was saving money, 2) I had complete control, 3) I was saving money. Boy, I was wrong. First of all, time is money. Once you really really get that, you’re no longer afraid to outsource. Does it cost me a lot of money? No, because if I were to do it myself, and charge myself by the hour (which is how you have to think of time), then I’m doing more than great by outsourcing. I also save myself hair pulling, which is a bonus.My designer, Willow Album Designs, is exactly my style. I may get a bride wanting a swap or two here or there, but they never complain about the overall look because it’s what they see in all my samples. I keep my albums consistent and using the same designer for all my albums is a HUGE time and money saver. Thanks Britney!

My intern- Though he’s left for the season for snowier pastures, Brian was a big help with culling, editing my RAW files and prepping my online galleries. I highly recommend getting help. It’s not rocket science, but it does help tremendously to have someone with a photography/color theory background and a good eye. I would hand him over a Lacie rugged hard drive with a wedding or portrait session and have it back within a few days. Genius. He was such a help that I’m putting him to work again next year as well as a second or even third intern. Thanks Brian!

Lightroom and Photo Mechanic- They’ve been talked about here before, but seriously, if you’re still using Bridge to cull and edit, then I don’t even know you, mister. Photo Mechanic saves me years of culling time and Lightroom saves me years of RAW editing. I use Photo Mechanic to cull RAW images and rename files. Lightroom’s RAW processor is lightning fast. I also use it to resize images for my online galleries, to create contact sheet pages for my Proof Books, and to make online slideshows. If I need a set of 4x6s, I use Lightroom to resize them since it’s so much faster than Photoshop and doesn’t take over my computer screen while it’s rendering. All I ever do in Photoshop is final edits for skin softening, stray hair removal, etc, and to prep my images for my blog.

Blogging- Speaking of, here’s what I love about blogging. My clients, as everyone’s, are anxious to see at least ONE photo from their wedding or portrait asap. By blogging the week of the event, I satisfy that need and can then take my time editing through the rest of their proofs. I feel like if I didn’t blog the event right away, I’d be rushed to get the proofs out to the them, and wouldn’t do a great job. It’s a psychological thing, I’m sure, but it helps!

Paper and electronic copies- This might be a no-brainer, but having repetitive client worksheets and contracts in print and on my computer is something that is so super important to me. If, by some freak chance, I lost all my data, I’d still have it in print and vice versa. I have folder with each of my clients’ names in both places. Each containing a copy of their contract, notes about their event and their pre-wedding questionnaire. I can pull up the notes on my iPhone when I’m at the wedding and see that I need a photo of dad with the ring bearer in the dark reception hall. Awesome, except guests might think I’m Twittering, or something… but what can ya do? I have payment schedules on each client’s folder and on iCal. Having these in multiple places assures me that nothing gets lost, forgotten and everything can get cross checked. I also still use a paper calendar book as well as iCal which is also synched to my phone.

Drop shipping- I think about this every time I drive by the post office. I used to receive all my print orders directly, check them out (they were always great because I only use pro labs), repackage them all pretty, and mail them out to the client. Not only was this a waste of time, it was also a big waste of trees. In an effort to be more environmentally conscience, I drop ship all my small print orders now. It may be more expensive than sending it off myself, but the plastic, paper, oil and gas saved on not repackaging and driving to the post office is worth it, in my opinion.

Things- I can’t survive without lists. I write them on everything I see. I put them on my phone. I email them to myself. I put them on Post its and on Stickies. My favorite list program is Things. Instead of a messy handwritten note where items get crossed off and it gets thrown away, Things lives on my computer and I can log completed items. I can keep track of what there is to do and what I’ve done. There’s even an iPhone app that will sync to the desktop version. Brilliant.

Let’s face it, when we’re not actively being photographers, we’re office managers, editors, designers, secretaries, troubleshooters, etc. I’m sure I sit at the computer 10 times longer through a year, than I spend with a camera in hand. We’re busy and we need timesavers.

Happy editing season everyone!



Assignment Series: “Foul/Fowl”

November 16th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Mingle

Just in time for Thanksgiving and right after the World Series, in this installment of our ever-popular assignment series, we bring you the phrase “Foul/Fowl”

Your assignment is to illustrate either or both of the concepts “Foul/Fowl”. This might be a photojournalistic exercise or an artistic construction. We leave it up to you to define the phrase and how you will interpret it.

Our assignment series is open to everyone. We’re hoping you’ll wanna play along.

The most creative entry wins! Actually, everyone wins. We will post all of the entries on our Facebook page, and post a few of our favorites on our blog, complete with a link back to your blog or website.

Images should be sized to 590 pixels on the long side. If you need help figuring that out, ask your favorite Shootstyler! And by all means, slap that logo on there if you have one! Email your entry to:


We have an album on our Facebook fan page. When the entries start coming in, we’ll post them there first. Check in with us at Facebook if you are looking for some inspiration.


The deadline is November 30th. If you have a photo you shot already, that would be awesome. If you want to set up some sort of story or construction, even better!

Let’s have fun doing this together!! Assignment series: “Foul/Fowl!”


It’s a nice day for a white wedding!

November 11th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Style


The white gown.

For some, the dream starts when they are young, pulling dresses from their mom’s closet, spinning and twirling in front of the mirror, imagining themselves one day far far away.

I remember dressing my Barbies up in their ‘fancy’ dresses & using bits of fabric to create a veil. Then Ken would ask Barbie to marry her & she’d say yes, and then they’d smooch and drive away in her brand spanking new hot pink Corvette. Obviously a wedding gift from Ken ;)

When you think of weddings, most people immediately picture that white dress, whatever the shape or style, white seems synonymous when one thinks of a bride’s wedding attire.

So, why is it, when it comes to wedding gowns, most women aim for white?
Personally, I love seeing ladies branching out and donning gowns from the whole color wheel. I think the color of the gown can really represent your personality, add your own unique flair.

Where did this tradition start? Does it really mean purity & virtue?

Well, actually, it started with a Queen.
Queen Victoria to be exact. Back in 1840, she decided to wow the masses and get the gossip mill buzzing by pulling on what some back then would consider an extravagant gown, meant to inform all those viewing that you had enough cash to bling it out. White was not an easy color to clean back then, so most would never consider the stain prone hue since they’d probably never wear it again.

From then on the white gown signified that you were wealthy enough, and therefore many clamored to show off their high class status. Coco Chanel introduce the knee-lengthed white wedding gown during the Edwardian times, and many fashion conscious women never looked back. I mean, come on. It’s Chanel. Who could blame them?

While the depression certainly took it’s toll and many had to make due with what they had at their disposal, some women decided on a short informal white dress, which they would later dye so they could use the dress again for more everday day affairs.

Once Hollywood stars started showing off their weddings and their elaborate designer white wedding duds, the masses were sold. More affordable options became available, and a tradition was made.

Married in white, you have chosen all right. Married in green, ashamed to be seen. Married in red, you will wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true. Married in yellow, ashamed of your fellow. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.

Some think this little ditty sums up the superstitions of wearing something other than white. Personally, I think it’s silly. You make your own luck!
Not to mention, pink never made my spirits sink and ashamed of green, my favorite color?! Watch your tongue!

I would love the trend to bend and start to see more women adding color to their days in the form of brightly hued gowns. Who said that the bridemaids & flowers were the ones to have all the color fun!? I love it when gals bring in a shot of color when it comes to their shoes, but I really get excited when I see ladies bringing out the big guns, with bright vibrant gowns and a shock of color for their veil.
I can imagine a bride in a bright poppy gown or dreamy yellow, and her gals wearing the white dresses.

What it comes down to is, if white just isn’t your thing, change it up! No one said you had to wear white. Okay, maybe your mom did. But it’s your wedding! Wear what you want. And if what you want is that gorgeous white gown you’ve dreamed of since you were little, then go for it.
If you dream of a silky flowy gown of light green silk, then wear it.

It’s your day, color it your way!


The Photo Booth!

November 3rd, 2010  |  by  |  published in Shoot

Okay, I’ll admit it– I absolutely love it when my clients ask me to set up a photo booth during their wedding.  Why?  The photo booth adds a dash of fun and spontaneity to a reception and can give you coverage of interesting groups of people (random groups that you may not have put together otherwise) or people that may not be particularly fond of dancing.  Of course, the photographs are often extremely entertaining- they make the editing process fly by!  Here are some of my favorite photo booth shots- be sure to scroll down to read more about the equipment and setup.

Photo Booth

There are many different methods out there from a real booth to an actual photographer manning a camera. There is no wrong way to do a photo booth!  Personally, I like the “photo booth-that-isn’t-really-a-booth” because it can accommodate fairly large groups of people.  I like the setup that doesn’t include a photographer because I find that people will get comfortable and crazy in front of the camera if they are taking the photo themselves.  I prefer to go simple and portable because I shoot so many of my weddings solo, I travel great distances to get to them, and I don’t want to lug a ton of gear with me.

Basically my photo booth consists of the following: a Canon G11, a Canon flash, a wired remote release, a tripod, a box of props, and a backdrop and stand (if needed).   Why the G11?  It has a swivel LCD screen that can be maneuvered to face your subject.  You can swivel the screen around so that they can see themselves before they take the photo to frame it up and after the photo is taken (everyone loves instant gratification!).  There are other options as well- you can certainly use a digital SLR and hook it to an computer or free-standing screen.  You can even use an iPad if you have a foolproof wireless network!

Here is how I set up my booth:

Step One: TALK TO YOUR VENUE. Find out where you can and where you cannot set up your station.  You don’t want any nasty surprises the day of your wedding, so make sure that you and the venue are cooperating.

Step Two: Choose your location. I like to pick a spot that is both out of the way but in a traffic pattern of some sort.  I don’t want people to forget all about the photo booth, but I don’t want it to become the center of attention.  I want everyone to see people having fun at the photo booth, but I also want to give them some privacy.  Of course, I am also looking for a simple, single-color wall because if I can find one, then I don’t need to set up the backdrop.  Occasionally I will also add a chair or piece of furniture into the mix.

Step Three: Set up your tripod and camera. Pick a heavy-duty tripod because you don’t want it knocked over by the drunk frat brother who trips over it or pulls the wired remote a bit too hard.  Some people have chosen a wireless remote to avoid the latter, but I prefer a wired remote because it won’t wander away from the camera in the middle of the night.

Step Four: Choose your camera settings. My photo booth is in RAW and all manual, all the time.  If the lighting changes in the reception (this happens quite often after the first dance or during open dancing), I adjust my booth settings.  I bounce my flash, and that is set to manual as well.  Make sure that you choose a flash that is powerful enough for work in a dark reception (especially if you  choose a camera that is not a high-ISO performer).

Step Five: Set up the box of props.
Almost anything can be used as a photo booth prop.  I once left a roll of duct tape with my props (I used it to secure something to my tripod) and that roll of duct tape was used in so many of the shots that evening!  Encourage your couple to bring their own props, too!  Anything goes- from the mustache on a stick to the sombrero, from a dry-erase board to fedora hats and big sunglasses.  Props can add so much to your photo booth shots!

Step Six:  Announce the booth. I like to have my couples grab the microphone to announce the booth.  I have found that participation is much greater if the couple asks everyone to be in at least a handful of shots.

Step Seven: Edit the pics and prepare to laugh!

Post by Maine Wedding Photographer Michelle Turner.


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