Brand Sessions — What are they and why do you need one?

As small businesses, we are living in a time when we are expected to be on all the time — posting the perfect on-brand photos to Instagram, creating compelling blog posts, driving traffic to our website with the most tantalizing email newsletters. What all that pressure to post adds up to is sub-par imagery and — frankly — hollow messaging. Ironically, that’s exactly the opposite of what we are all working to achieve — so how do we fix it?

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There are three tenets some of the best marketers in the business subscribe to:

1. Quality over quantity — always

It’s more effective to have fewer truly compelling, eye-catching and narrative images that tell your brand’s story in the right context rather than a bunch of mediocre photos of your product or service all over the Internet.

2. Batch, batch, batch!

No, the faces of the best small businesses aren’t always camera ready. All humans need sleep. They are getting lots of images that they can use all season in one session. Not only does it save time, but it is how they get consistency in their imagery.

3. A balance of seasonal and evergreen content

Seasonal content is anything that alludes to or reflects a distinct period of time — for example, a 2019 summer trends post, Christmas-related imagery or a one-time promotion you are offering. Evergreen content is anything that can be used to brand your business at anytime — for example, a clean and simple headshot or a blog post about what a brand session is for.

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A brand session is a perfect way to bring your passion to life visually. It can be as simple as an hour-long session capturing you in your workspace or as elaborate as having your whole team styled for some polished headshots and lifestyle candids. However you want to spend your session, you will leave with a grab-bag of images to use throughout your branding that not only look professional, but they are unique to you. No one really cares about a succulent on a random white desk. What they care about is YOU (or at least, YOUR succulent collection on YOUR desk). Plus, when you call the shots, you get exactly what you need. For example, we can create a go-to image that will fit perfectly on all your email banners.

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True, you may not want to become an Insta-celebrity — but it’s still so important to communicate your message clearly with your target clients. That’s why I have built collections just for you — the small business owner or entrepreneur who:

  • needs a repository of compelling images on hand that show off your product or service and illustrate how it works

  • plans to post to social media not just more often, but more authentically

  • needs seasonal content — photos of Christmas-themed products, summer-ready messaging, etc.

  • needs updated headshots of high-turnover employees

  • needs an assortment of image-types: lifestyle portraits, product photos, photos documenting you and your team at work

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Now offering one-off sessions starting at $350 and high-value yearly subscriptions starting at $2,000.

A Very San Francisco Engagement — Mission Murals + Sutro Baths

About ready for winter to be over? Well, good because this session happened to take place on an unseasonably warm day in January, so it may just transport you right to spring. These two wanted to take advantage of all beautiful SF had to offer. First stop: the murals at Clarion Alley in the mission — an homage to where they live — followed by a pitstop at Pizzeria Delfina for some wine, and then onto some scenic spots at Land’s End and Sutro Baths overlooking the Bay at sunset. There was such a genuine connection between these two — I can’t wait to shoot their wedding later this year in one of my favorite spots, Tomales Bay.

A Boho Engagement Session Exploring California Redwoods + Muir Beach

This engagement session was absolutely breathtaking. We started in the redwoods at a park in Mill Valley and made our way to watch the sunset at Muir Beach — hard to go wrong. I loved that these two were so game to try things — from jumping into the right light before the sun went behind the trees to scaling a somewhat treacherous rock formation. And the whole time they did it they were laughing! They are in for one fun wedding.

Colorful Vineyard Wedding for a Couple of Industry Pros

Colorful Vineyard Wedding for a Couple of Industry Pros

This one was near and dear to me since it was the wedding of one of my friends from high school!

Vintage Wedding at Triple S Ranch Napa

Over Memorial Day weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful, personal wedding celebration at Triple S Ranch in Calistoga, California. It was a couple whose City Hall wedding I had photographed earlier this year, and this was the big weekend-long celebration with both of their families and their friends. Despite wildfires having threatened the venue in 2017, the scene was idyllic. There were lots of personal touches on this wedding — the florals were done by the groom's family, the groom, a beekeeper, provided honey and honey butter for the cornbread at dinner, and the bride's friends and wine bar coworkers bartended. The delicious food was provided by Ring of Fire, the bride's dress was by Stone Cold Fox Bride, and many more vendors contributed to this beautiful occasion (see bottom of post)! These two were so sweet and fun both times I worked with them, and their love for each other is contagious!

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Venue - Triple S Ranch Napa

Coordination - Be Hitched, Planning & Event Design

Bride's Attire - Stone Cold Fox Bride

Hair - Head & Soul Salon

Makeup - Alexis Contos

Catering - Ring of Fire

Bartending - Union Larder

DJ - Heart of Gold DJs

Childcare - Swiss Cheese Childcare

Portable Restrooms + Showers - Honeybucket

Glamping - Anywhere Outpost

 

Fun Engagement Session Exploring Conservatory of Flowers + Stowe Lake

If there is one thing I love in the world, it is being a tourist in my own town. I recently got to do just that with an adorable couple in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. We started out exploring plant life at the Conservatory of Flowers and made our way to Stowe Lake to for a romantic boat ride at sunset.

Details I Will Capture on Your Wedding Day

There is so much to remember on your big day and it's easy for pretty little details to get lost in the mix. Everyone is different, so what you have me photograph is totally up to you, but here is a list of items brides and grooms often like to have captured, as well as some guidance on when to hand them over!

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Generally, details are the first thing I shoot when I arrive. As important as they are though, they do come second to the sweet moments you have with all your best people. So, in order to make time for all of it, I recommend having me at your getting ready location for at least an hour and a half. Of course, everyone is different and we will work to tailor coverage that suits you!

 

Thanks for reading! Clients of mine receive educational content like this direct to their inbox as part of their wedding collection. If you are interested in learning more about working with me on your wedding day, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

How to survive family photos on your Wedding Day

Tough love time: family photos can take over your wedding...OR or they can be easy as pie — you just have to plan ahead. Here's how to make sure we fly through them on the day-of:

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B & G with flower girl & ring bearer (begin with children first – less stress and we can keep their attention better)

B with flower girl

B with ring bearer

G with flower girl

G with ring bearer

B&G with entire family

B&G with grooms family

B&G with bride’s family

B with her family

B with her siblings

B with her parents (2x if separated or divorced (for step parents))

G with his family

G with his siblings

G with his parents (2x if separated or divorced (for step parents))

B&G with grandparents (2x both sides)

B with her grandparents

G with his grandparents

Generational photos (Grandma/Mom/Bride & Grandpa/Dad/Groom)

B&G with God Parents (if applicable)

B & God Parents (if applicable)

G & God Parents (if applicable)

Other portraits

Keep in mind that your wedding day will fly by! That is why it is so important to be prepared so that things run as smoothly as they can and you can do what you're meant to do — celebrate! And, as wonderful as it is for your mother to have a beautiful portrait of the whole fam for her mantel, it's worth noting that if you opt for 56 combinations of guests, a good number of those will never see the light of day when all is said and done. So, choose wisely and remember, it's the experience that counts!

 

Thanks for reading! Clients of mine receive educational content like this direct to their inbox as part of their wedding collection. If you are interested in learning more about working with me on your wedding day, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

What To Wear To Your Engagement Session

You've got your location for your engagement session all picked out — now, what do you wear!? Well, the first thing to remember is that while yes, you did hire a professional to take your photos, you aren't a model (most likely) and no one expects you to be. These are YOUR photos for YOUR memories and YOUR friends to gush over. So rule #1, be yourself. Here are a few other tips:

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Sometimes the best way to figure this thing out is to try things out! I highly recommend picking out one piece as an "inspiration" piece, such as your grandma's fur coat, and then let your ideas flow from there. For more visual inspiration, check out this Pinterest board. And of course, you can always bring options and I will happily give my two cents on the day-of!

 

Thanks for reading! Clients of mine receive educational content like this direct to their inbox as part of their wedding collection. If you are interested in learning more about working with me on your wedding day, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

Vintage Barn Wedding in Petaluma

This was easily one of the most beautiful weddings I shot this summer as a second for Luke Keegan Photography, despite the fact that it was during one of Northern California's most intense heat waves of the year (I'm talking 110 degrees). An old Victorian mansion, antique furniture among apple orchards, organic autumnal florals and a barn make for a pretty spectacular event.

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How to Know if You Should Include a Second Photographer on Your Wedding Day

There is a lot to consider when deciding about what your photography coverage should look like on your wedding day. Often, when you get an answer to one question, another one just pops up in its place. One of the most frequently asked questions I get when speaking with clients is: is it worth it to get a second photographer? The answer is: it depends. Below are some of the factors I think about when making the recommendation to include a second photographer. 

Elegant, Traditional Wine Country Wedding

Another beautiful wedding on the books! But not just another; this mid-summer wedding at Cornerstone Sonoma was large but intimate, formal but fun, and traditional but also a big party. The couple incorporated some elements of Jewish culture into their day, including a separate traditional Jewish ceremony and the best reception dance ever — the Hora. As soon as I found out people were going up on chairs, I got super excited as I recognized these from my own family celebrations! I was a second shooter to Margaret Austin Photography, which is always a great learning experience for me!

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Dreamy Sunrise Engagement Session at Sutro Baths

"Dreamy" is not a word I often use to describe anything I am a part of; "messy," "clumsy," "awkward," all have a much more prominent place in my lexicon. But "dreamy" just feels like the right word to describe this session. Or maybe sleep was just on my mind after I somehow convinced my two new friends, Sami + Stephen, to wake up at 5am for a sunrise engagement session at Sutro Baths + Land's End. I can't wait to shoot their wedding next June! 

Here are some of the highlights:

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Like what you see?

Rustic Wedding at Historic Mission San Francisco Solano

Fun Fact: every public school kid in California has to do a report in fourth grade on one of the Spanish missions that were built throughout the state during colonization. Mine was Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. I downloaded pictures off of Ask Jeeves, built a little model out of styrofoam and stucco and called it a day. 

I never realized just how beautiful the mission was until I was there shooting Cameron + Steven's wedding last month. The old adobe church created such a unique atmosphere for a wedding, making it feel both historic and down-to-earth. After spending the day with Cameron + Steven — a couple whose reception playlist included Beirut, The Clash and New Order — I couldn't picture it any other way. 

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