Business

2016 | A Year In Review

 
 

What's up my peeps? It's been a little bit since I've sat down and written out a blog post. If I'm being honest, sometimes it's easier to just put up some photos and write only a sentence or two. But one of my goals for this year is to exercise my brain a bit and write out some paragraphs for these things. 

And Happy New Year! We just finished that week between Christmas and the New Year that feels like a week of Saturdays. Or Mondays. Just a week of transition, planning for the future and reflecting on the past. There's an energy on social media, it's buzzing with the mysterious promise of 2017 and all that it will come with the new year. So, in honor of this week and 2017 being here, I thought I would do a bit of a year in review because so much happened this past year! I'll be honest, it was a slower business year since I moved, but I wake up every day so grateful to do what I love and for all of the wonderful people that have come into my life through photography. It's so surreal! (I'm going to do a blog post about how I only booked seven weddings in 2016 and how that number humbled me. Stay tuned.) 

On a personal note, this was a big year for me! I moved halfway across the country to Tulsa, Oklahoma! What an adventure it has been. I'm in love with this city and its people. I'm so grateful to be here. And I'm so excited for all of the weddings that I am booking here for next year! I can't wait to continue to build community!

Here's to another year of hugs, smiles, love + laughter. Thank you to everyone who made this year what it was. Enjoy these photos!

Styling a Product Shoot | What I Learned

I recently did a styled shoot for my friend Olivia who opened up a print shop (please, do yourself a favor and check it out). It was so much fun to brainstorm, gather props, and execute the ideas we had. At the end of the whole experience, I realized that styling a brand/product session is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, and cheaper too! Here are a few things that I found to be helpful when planning a styled session. 

 What I Learned From A Product Shoot | Ellie Be
  What I Learned From A Product Shoot | Ellie Be

1. get inspired 

I talked with Olivia about her vision for the photos and then I went on Pinterest and Instagram to be inspired by other print makers/styled shoot experts. I saw what other people worked with when photographing products and gathered a little arsenal of inspiration. It's important to write down your own unique ideas for the shoot; however, especially if this is your first time doing a styled shoot, look and see what other people have already done! I scrolled through styled accounts on Instagram for WAY too long. It's addicting. (Some of my faves are Lauren Hom, Melissa Male, and Lauren Saylor.) 

2. Make a plan

Now, I'm not usually one for extremely detailed plans, but I knew that if this shoot was going to be successful, I needed to plan out how this whole thing was going to go down. Before I went shopping, I sketched out my ideas. What props was I going to use? Where could I photograph these prints? Who could I ask to help? What backgrounds was I photographing up against? After I decided these things, I organized the prints and made "prop groupings." Basically, which props went with which prints? (Later, during the shoot, I mixed it up a bit but it was still helpful to have this guide so I knew which props to buy.) 

I categorized the prints that she sent me into a few groups. Coffee/food, quotes, and media (Broadway/TV) references. Then for each category, I created a prop list. The coffee/food group would clearly involve latte art and donuts. For the quotes, I knew that we could use some extra flowers that my friends at Ever Something (where we were shooting) had laying around. I (of course) used coffee for the Gilmore Girls print and pulled out my Amy Poehler book for the quote about empowered women. 

  What I Learned From A Product Shoot | Ellie Be

3. Involve friends and/or local vendors 

This shoot would not have been possible without some of my good friends here in Tulsa. We photographed all of the prints at Ever Something, a local styling and florist shop. The lattes were donated by a coffee shop down the street. My friend Monica offered her styling advice and hung out with me during the session. (Pro tip: a second, or third, or fourth opinion will ALWAYS be helpful when doing a styled session.) 

Instagram is a great resource for finding people in your area. Look up florists, caterers, stylists, and boutiques in your area that might want to contribute. (Side-note: I do not condone taking advantage of people/vendors. Create relationships, be kind, and help each other out. That's the best way!) 

4. it does not have to be expensive 

The biggest (welcomed!) surprise about doing this print shoot was that it was not expensive. I bought washi tape at Target, got food props from either the grocery store or this super cute bakery down the street, and collaborated with local vendors. What I love about collaborative shoots is that everybody wins. When you involve other people, the shoot becomes bigger and better than it could ever be. I think the props total came to $25 which is so insanely doable on a budget. Get creative! Think outside the box! Remember, you can drink the lattes and eat the donuts when you're done! (Perks of the job.) 

  What I Learned From A Product Shoot | Ellie Be

challenge yourself!

Reach out to a friend or Instagram peer who might need some photos taken for either an idea they have or a business they've already got going. Create a styled shoot around a collaborative idea and watch magic happen!

Have you ever done a styled session before? I'd love to hear your happy/horror stories in the comments. ;) 

Aaaaand we're back!

I feel a bit like I took an old house and renovated it, keeping the old bones and architecture of the place, but painted the walls, updated the kitchen, and put new flooring in. (I just read a 4,000 word post about a kitchen renovation while eating breakfast. What can I say, I'm a house renovation nerd!) 

Welcome to my new (old) home.  

I launched this rebrand last week and was overwhelmed by how encouraging and supportive everyone was. Honestly, I'm so thankful. 

I've had a photography blog for nine years. Actually, I've had this blog for nine years. (When I switched over from Blogger to Squarespace, all of my old blog posts came with me.) Many times I've wondered if I should start completely fresh, but this blog has been such a part of me through a lot of my life (I was 13 when I started it -- holy moly) that I couldn't leave it behind. 

This new adventure is so near and dear to my heart because when I started my business at 15, I was on the lookout for resources and inspiration geared towards my demographic. They were almost nonexistent. My hope with the new education side of my business is that I can (along with some amazing creatives that will be featured here!) provide young creative entrepreneurs with inspiration and resources to start businesses and watch them flourish. If that's you, get excited! There's so much to come. 

A few things to note: 

1. i am not a professional business coach 

The only thing I do professionally is sleep. (Not entirely false.) I don't have it all together, I am still learning myself. I'm a young person in business, but what I love about education is that we don't need to have it all together in order to turn around and help the next person. I've learned a lot in my 5+ years of business and I want to pass on that knowledge, as I continue to learn, to other young business owners. It will be a rollercoaster of fun and education. Did you ever think you would read THAT sentence?!

2. resources and coaching sessions will be kept at a low price

I remember when I was 18 and pursuing my career. I could not afford a coaching session or a book about business. My heart through the education section of this site is that the resources I provide will be accessible to every young person. Whether that be through offering free e-books or charging a base price for coaching sessions, I want everyone to be able to partake and feel like they are part of something bigger. This is unconventional, but that's my middle name! :) 

3. I am still photographing weddings full-time. 

I am currently booking for 2017 and I am so excited! Wedding photography will always be a huge part of my life and this new education adventure is simply adding onto what is already here. If you're getting married next year and want to chat, feel free to send me an email

4. i made this for you!! 

I created a little e-book outlining five ways that you can plan out your week in a way that works for you. Take a look!

I'm so excited and hopeful for the future! Lots to come, thank you for being here and I hope you'll stick around for a little while and see what it's all about. Make sure to say hi, I want to get to know you!

When you know better, do better

This post has been "borrowed" from Unfolding Passions, something I've been doing on the side for the past three years. It pertains to my photography business so I'm sharing it here as well! Read on! 

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." - Maya Angelou

Three years ago, I started a little something called Unfolding Passions. Fresh out of high-school, I wanted to encourage and empower young creative entrepreneurs like me. It started with a book and turned into this blog and a social media presence. 

Over the next two years, I was trying to balance my money stream (wedding photography) with my side hustle (Unfolding Passions). I was NOT born a business major and I started my photography business when I was 15 because I loved people and taking photos.  (Surprise! Taxes and the backend of a business weren't on my mind.) Everything is a learning opportunity, which I love, but it can make for a lot of unexpected detours.

In February 2015, I moved to Oklahoma and then nine months later, I moved back home with my parents. A lot of change was happening, a lot of unknowns and questions. Where was I based? How could I book weddings when I was constantly in limbo? What was Unfolding Passions supposed to look like? At the beginning of this year, I stumbled across the world of business bloggers, women who were running successful online businesses and teaching others how to do the same. I subscribed to way too many email lists, followed Pinterest boards dedicated to running a business, and my Bloglovin' feed was all entrepreneurs. By the time I moved back to Oklahoma in May of this year, I felt burned out. I was trying out too many things, experimenting with too many ideas, trying to come up with what worked for me by mashing together a bunch of other people's ideas. 

Last month, I unintentionally took a month long break from Unfolding Passions. I shot two weddings, multiple family sessions, and taught a photography workshop with two of my good friends. I was focused on my photography business and UP was pushed to the back burner. When I got back home, I began to ask myself, "What is Unfolding Passions? What do I want it to be?"  For a long time, I've been frustrated with myself and the direction that Unfolding Passions is going in. Every time I open up a blog post, I don't know what to write. (Instagram: you my fave. But I run so many Instagram accounts for different things, that updating the Unfolding Passions account honestly became a chore.) Finally, after a lot of thinking and praying and wondering, "Is this really the right thing to do?" I've come to a conclusion, one that I'm simultaneously excited and saddened by.  

On October 15th, Unfolding Passions will be officially closing down + something new will take its place. Ellie Be: Photographer + Educator.

Bringing these two passions of mine together under my own name excites me. I'll be doing wedding photography full-time still, but I'll be adding an exciting new twist. I'll be opening up the Coaching side of business to young people, ages 16-22, in the hopes that I can empower them to pursue their dream lives and start up thriving creative businesses. (Think of it as the high-school counselor who wants you to pursue your dreams and will do anything to help you get there!) 

I think it's important to always be analyzing a few things when you are running a business or a side hustle. Is this working? Is it making me feel good inside? Am I passionate about what I'm doing? What isn't working? Asking yourself these questions will help you stay at the heart of what you're doing. As I began to do that with Unfolding Passions, I realized that keeping up with two entrepreneurial adventures at one time was becoming too much, especially since I am building my photography business in Tulsa and that takes up a lot of time. While the message of Unfolding Passions is still so important to me, the method of relaying that message needs to change. 

The reason I'm putting a bunch of photos of coffee shop dates in this post (besides the fact that I'm currently drinking coffee at my desk so it's on the brain) is because I want you to get a sense of what this new brand will feel like. Homey. Comfortable. Relatable. Like sitting down for a cup of coffee and chatting about life. I don't want to "hide" behind a name, although I love Unfolding Passions, I just want it to be you and me. Human to human.

This new adventure, Ellie Be: Photographer and Educator, will launch on the same day Unfolding Passions officially closes its doors, October 15th. If you want the updates, make sure you're following me on Instagram.  That's where it's at. 

I've learned a lot through Unfolding Passions. I've learned that you have to show up every day to do the work, to love the people, to make small decisions that will ultimate lead to the big change. When things get too much, working more isn't the answer. Loving people well and clearing out the clutter is the only thing that will give you clarity.

I don't even know where to begin with the thank you's. Over the past three years, Unfolding Passions has gotten support and encouragement from so many people and it has made my heart full. I am so grateful. I hope you come along with me as I continue the message of Unfolding Passions (empowering young creative entrepreneurs to pursue their dream lives!) in its new home! 

For my wedding photography clients, nothing is changing! It's only getting better! A fancy new site, more fun images, and hopefully lots of coffee dates chatting about life and your big day! :) 

xo, Ellie 

from start to finish | my wedding workflow

 

My wedding workflow has evolved over the four years I've been in business. I started out not really having a plan, which turned out to be just as chaotic as it sounds. As I kept shooting weddings, I noticed what worked for me and what didn't. Finally, I put down on paper a rough outline of a workflow I thought would work for me. I'm still refining it, but this system is one that I use with every wedding I photograph. I hope this is interesting for brides and photographers alike! I'm super nosy myself so I love getting a peek into other people's workflows. :)  

INQUIRY RESPONSE

Once I get an email in my inbox about a wedding, I will answer it with my pricing information PDF (it's so pretty!), a little bit about myself, and an invitation to meet in person (or on Skype, if they aren't in Oklahoma). I really love talking to couples face to face, especially over coffee! :) 


CONTRACT+ INVOICE

Once we start moving forward, I'll send them the contract + questionnaire that I send every wedding client. They'll put down their deposit and we are a go!


THANK YOU NOTE

I believe in the power of gratitude. I'll try (sometimes it doesn't quite happen #realtalk) and send out a thank you note to every client who books me because THEY MEAN THE WORLD TO ME.


BOOK ENGAGEMENT SESSION (IF APPLICABLE)

If the couple has added an engagement session to their package, we'll go ahead and put that on the calendar. I really do love engagement sessions, they are a chance to get to know each other and for the couple to get used to be in front of my camera!  (They're a lot of fun too.) 


EMAIL SIX WEEKS BEFORE

I'll email my couple six weeks before their wedding to remind them about their second payment and to talk about creating a schedule for their wedding day. I love doing this with my couples because then we can make sure that there is plenty of time for photos on their wedding day.  

photograph wedding!

My favorite part of the workflow. ;) 

THANK YOU EMAIL

Again with the thank yous!  I'll send a quick email or text to my couple saying THANK YOU for letting me a part of their big day. It truly is an honor, and I can't say it enough. 

UPLOAD

I upload the photos to my external hard drive. I've got my photos organized by year --> client --> card (card 1, 2, 3 etc). I also keep the photos on my memory cards until they need to be deleted. 

CULL IN PHOTO MECHANIC

I open up Photo Mechanic (the greatest tool for photographers known to man) and cull through my photos in record time. I'm looking for photos that tell the story of the day so duplicates and "unnecessary" photos (I over-shoot, it's a problem) go bye bye. 

IMPORT PHOTOS TO LIGHTROOM

I'll then take the photos I want and drag them straight to Lightroom. I have it set up so while I'm importing them, Lightroom applies a preset to the photos. So when they're all in Lightroom, they are already edited with my basic preset. (Tip: Open up the Import tab in LR and look to the left for "Apply During Import." Then you can add a preset!) 

FINE-TUNE IMAGES

I'll go through the images changing exposure, shadows, and doing any other fine-tuning for the different light situations (ceremony, reception, portraits, etc). This doesn't take long because they've already got a preset applied to them. Netflix is usually playing in the background. #bingewatchingsessions

CULL IMAGES AGAIN 

Once the images are edited, I'll fly through them again in Lightroom just to make sure that there aren't any images left that I don't want. Sometimes my vision changes when they are edited so I go through them again to see what exactly I'm giving my client and that it is 100% perfect.

EXPORT

I'll export them to a FINISHED folder and (usually) have a dance party because this step means that new images are going out to amazing clients! 

UPLOAD TO GALLERY

I use Pass to deliver my images so I'll upload the gallery and organize the photos before...

WHOOOOOOSH! (OFF THEY GO)