May 2013 Archive

FAQ: When should I upgrade my gear?


Lenses and bodies and flashes OH MY! Today we are going to tackle one of my favorite questions: When should I buy new gear!? Let’s just be honest, in those early stages of building a business, it is  A LOT easier and more fun to purchase a new piece of gear than it is to grow in your actual skill.  At the same time, the myth that has been propagated is that the more gear you have the more legit of a photographer you are. False.  More gear…better gear…the right kind of gear does NOT make you a good photographer and it certainly does not make you a professional photographer!  At the same time, with so many camera and lens options out there it is easy to feel unsure about whether what you have invested in was the smartest choice.  So I am going to break it down for you!

When should I upgrade my camera gear?

1. You are shooting on manual and hitting your camera’s limitations consistently. For example, you are regularly shooting in dark venues (common for wedding photographers) and you are finding that you have to max out your ISO to the point that you are getting noise (grain), or slow down your shutter to the point of picking up too much camera shake in the image THEN a higher grade camera that can shoot well at a higher ISO, or a lens that has a wider aperture like 2.8 to let in more light, or a new flash to bounce off of a wall would be a good upgrade! Until you are hitting your camera’s limitations (not just hitting your skill limitations) it is hard to justify a new gear upgrade. And besides, the more aware you are of your camera’s limitations, the better it will feel when you buy that new piece of gear and now understand EXACTLY what upgraded features you are paying for!

2. You have money coming in to buy the new gear.  This could mean that with that $500 wedding deposit you are getting you are purchasing that certain lens or backup camera that you know that you will need to shoot the couple’s wedding.  If you do not have money coming in from your photography work then you do NOT need to be investing in more gear!!!! Read that sentence again!  If you are not making money off of the photography work that you are doing then you need to be investing in more skill training and more business training so that your business is more profitable! The exception to this is of course that initial investment to buy your first camera/lens.  Many of us got our first camera from a sweet spouse or parents who saw our passion or potential ..and sometimes it just comes from plain old savin’ up your own cash to hopefully one day do what you love. Please don’t start your business up with debt without even having any promise of future income!

3. You have rented or borrowed this piece of gear before.  You can rent just about any kind of camera body and lens easily and securely online through places like The piece of gear is shipped right to your front door!  If you have your eye on a certain lens, invest $60 in renting it before you invest $1200 in buying it!  If it is more of a specialty lens, like a macro lens or a fisheye that you will not be using most of the time, then renting it for each individual wedding or photo session may be far more cost effective then purchasing it outright.  This is especially smart to do when you are beginning to get into wedding work and cannot afford a backup camera body (which is a MUST).  Just rent one!

There are a few seats left for the Branding and Business Essentials Workshop for photographers being held in Richmond, VA in July! The discounted Early Bird registration rate ends in just a few days on May 31st!  For more information and to register visit the Essentials Workshop website!

Warning: You might pee your pants.


When I opened the box and peaked inside I literally burst out laughing…as in…I might have woken up the girls from their naps.  When Julie at Ten Four Paper contacted me about shooting a new paper goods line that she had just created I had NO idea the GEM that I would get the pleasure of working on!  In her own words, Julie mentioned that she had created a “snarky” line of paper goods that manages to be both sweet and down right  I-can’t-believe-she-just-said-that-out-loud-funny.  I was literally in stitches over ever single notecard, greeting card and notepad in this line.  She has cards for EVERY occasion in life including “You Got a Cat!” and “You finally graduated!”  and notepads that read…just for example…”Plan for today. Down to the minute. Because I’m neurotic.”

It’s Friday ya’ll and we all could all use a good laugh to get us through to the three day weekend.  Head over to Julie’s site, Ten Four Paper, and have a (quiet so your boss doesn’t hear you) laugh checking out this hilarious line and everyone please convince Julie to sell these in sets so that I can order one of each!

P.S Show Julie some love and pin her work to Pinterest if you love it as much as I do! Way to go Julie.  You are as hilarious and you are sweet and talented! :)

Spring Portrait Day is here!


Spring portrait day is here again!  Spring mini sessions can be used for any type of shoot from engagement sessions to family portraits to updating your children’s yearly photos [newborns not included]. I can generally fit multiple children into the same mini session.  All sessions will take place in a beautiful Wesley Chapel, FL location this year.

There are 6 time slots available (see below) and spots are filled quickly on a first come first serve bases!  E-mail me at to book your time slot!  YAY!

Available time slots:










We have our winners!!!!!!

After painstaking hours spent reading through scholarship applications from over 20 incredibly deserving photographers for the upcoming Virginia Essentials Branding and Business Workshop, Ashlee and I are SO very excited to announce our two scholarship winners! We want to congratulate (and hug and jump up and down with) Lindsey Riley of Elle Riley Photography  and Joy Aleman of Joy Michelle Photography!!!!! (We are also announcing our “Share it to Win it” giveaway winner – so read to the end!)

It was nothing short of painful and nerve wracking narrowing it down to these two ladies but we are very excited about what this incredible workshop is going to do for your businesses!


To the rest of you who entered, we feel in love with every one of you. We felt your challenges and the struggles that you have faced in growing your business and we genuinely hope that God will provide a way that you will still be able to attend because we really want to meet you and give you the tools to take your photography business to the next level!


This is going to be a game changing workshop in the lives of the photographers who attend and Ashlee and I are just beyond excited to get to Virginia and get this thing started!!!


Open workshop registration has officially begun today! YAY!  You have until MAY 31st to register at the Early Bird rate and after May31st the ticket price jumps to $649 (Friday) and $699 (Saturday).


We also have our winner for the “Share it to Win it” Summer Essentials giveaway of $140 in amazingly fabulous prizes!!!  We had over 530 entries to win and we are SO excited to be able to announce that, by random selection, Kory Woodard (twitter @KoryMae) of A New And Lovely Journey blog is our winner!!!!!! YAY!!!! Kory – please shoot me an e-mail to so that we can get these amazing prizes in the mail to you!


Happy Monday friends!!!!

Shay & Ashlee

Garlic and Oregano

I have been shooting more food lately (yum), just for fun and in the mean time am helping my brother out with images for a small cook book that he is putting together to sell on his health and fitness site. This is a little one that I shot the other day in my kitchen of some fresh garlic and oregano (Thank you Sam’s club for the industrial sized sleeve of garlic that now doubles as decoration in an apothecary glass jar in my kitchen!).  In the afternoon I get a really beautiful diffused light that bounces off of the house next door and filters in through my large kitchen window.  I am having fun playing around with the types of lighting that I can get in there at different times of the day.  This one was shot with a diffused side light and fresh oregano from my garden! Which reminds me, I need to make a Home Depot run to get more fresh herbs for out on the lanai! It is way cheaper to just buy them and grow them out back in pots then it is to purchase a fresh sprig or two from the grocery store! And more fun too!

P.S Don’t forget – you have just through the weekend to win the $140 worth of amazing summer goodies in the Essential’s workshop “Share it to Win it” giveaway AND if you are interested in attending our Branding and Business Essentials workshop for photographer this July in Richmond, VA you have just through the weekend to get in your application for one of the TWO scholarships being given away!  We have gotten a ton of great scholarship applications already and the winner of both scholarships will be announced here this Monday!

Happy Friday friends!

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