After a bit of a hiatus, I’m bringing back my Stuff I Love series, as it occurred to me yesterday that I have some new things I’d like to rave about. So let’s jump right in!
There are a few things out there that have recently made my workflow and life about a thousand times better. Some things that have given me renewed vigor for the non-photographing part of my business, and I’m excited to share them with you. At the top of the list…?
Storyboard was introduced to me by Emily Takes Photos, and I am not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. Seriously. Storyboard is a script for Photoshop that makes creating layouts for your blog quick and easy. Absurdly easy. This is embarrassing, but up until about a month ago, I did all my blog posts by hand. Which meant resizing photos and creating layouts one by one. And then I’d insert them into my blog posts… one by one. Do you have any idea how long that takes when you have 150 photographs from a wedding you want to show? A really long time.
I was excited to show off my photographs, but I dreaded having to do the actual blogging. I saw Emily mention Storyboard a couple of places, and I’d always look it at the site… stare at the $79 price tag, and move along. It just didn’t seem like it was worth it. Finally – at my wit’s end because I have so many weddings currently lined up that I have been dreading creating the layouts for, I pulled the trigger. I was desperate for a solution, and it suddenly seemed worth the risk. I was not disappointed. Storyboard has quite literally saved me HOURS of time. I can put together a blog post in probably about a quarter of the time that it once took. The longest part of the process for me now is just picking photos. Once I decide what I want – I do a batch edit to resize and sharpen the photos for web, and then start running my Storyboard script to put the layouts together. And thanks to the vertical compiler, when it’s time to insert the photos into the blog, I’m not doing one photo at a time, I’m inserting about 20 photos at a time. Storyboard is worth every penny… knowing what I know now, I would have paid a lot more than $79. Blogging was this massive bottleneck in my workflow – when it came to that portion of a wedding, everything came to a screeching halt. But now I’m excited to blog again, and I think that’s been pretty apparent in the last month with how many weddings I’ve finally been able to get on here.
Up until last year, my brand as a whole was such a hodge podge. A little of this… a little of that. Was I modern… classic… ? Did I have a vintage flair? What exactly was I trying to convey to my clients about myself and my business? Enter Super Runaway, who didn’t just create a new website for me, but helped shaped my identity as a business. They made me answer some tough questions about myself and my business and where I’m going. They don’t know it, but they’re the ones that really influenced me to give up big weddings and just do elopements from here on out, because the questions they asked me made me see who I really was – as a business. And what I really wanted to create with my life.
Because my brand was a hodge podge until they arrived on the scene and sorted me out… my packaging was an even bigger hodge podge. One of my favorite shops is Paper Source, and I had a tendency to just go on there – pick out a bunch of random things that were pretty, and call it a day. Red polka dot boxes? Ok! Kraft paper? Heck yeah! Oooh… shiny ribbon. Nevermind that these things did not go together and looked a little ridiculous when put together. When my new website launched, I knew I needed to give up just randomly selecting boxes and ribbon and paper for my packaging. I wanted my packaging to feel like me and my site. I had to stop being blinded by the pretty. And I knew immediately where I wanted to go. I have loved Loktah for years, but was never really sure it was for me until my new site launched. Loktah’s natural media products just screamed Katie Jane Photography. The feel, the texture, the colors. They are me and my business, through and through. And it finally feels like I have a streamlined brand – from my site to my business cards to my packaging… it’s all finally cohesive.
In a little less than a month, I’ll be heading to Las Vegas for the first time ever to attend the WPPI Conference and Trade Show. (WPPI = Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) I’ll be attending lots of classes and workshops to improve my business in every way. From business/law classes to lighting and posing classes to workflow… I’m going out there to get my learn on. And I am so excited to hopefully come home and see how this influences my business for the better. In my year end wrap up, I talked a lot about the things that weren’t working for me… the things I needed to change and improve. And that’s a big part of why I’m going out there. It’s an active step toward creating a better Katie Jane Photography, not just for me… but mostly for YOU, my amazing clients. I like the work I’m producing right now, but I know I can work harder and better for you this year. And I think going to WPPI and returning with a new set of skills is just going to make this year even more amazing for all of us. I want my clients to know that I am always trying to be a better photographer for you and that constant education is an extremely important part of my business. It doesn’t matter how big a business gets or how many weddings I shoot… there’s always more to learn, there’s always someone out there who is doing it better and can teach you something new. And I intend to return home a better photographer in a myriad of ways.
Finally, the last thing on my list of things that are currently making my heart sing is VSCO Film. VSCO was actually a Christmas gift from John, and I’ve been playing with it since then, trying to figure out how much I actually wanted to use it in my post production – if it would really save me time or not.
Ok… let’s back up for a second before we get into why I have come to love it so much. When I learned photography there was no digital. It was all film. As a teenager, I spent hours and hours in my school’s darkroom (I was so lucky to go to a high school with a darkroom – that is the one positive thing I can say about my high school experience in general, I think). Now everything is digital, and ultimately I’m grateful. It makes my life much easier – although I am shooting a little film at each wedding now, on the side. But every photographer I know who started on film will probably agree with me… film is beautiful, and it cannot really be replicated. (No, not even with VSCO, although we’re getting closer.) And some people are fine with that – but I’ve always had a little hole in my heart for the look of film. I have spent the last almost six years playing in Photoshop, trying to figure out if I could get close to the look of film. Maybe not even “the look of film” but a certain feel and mood that I want my photographs to reflect.
I have had an image in my head since I began shooting professionally of what I wanted my photographs to look like. And that image has never changed. I’ve gone through all kinds of post production phases, but never been truly happy, never truly creating what I want. Looking at other people who had found their style and feeling so envious of that – not jealous of their specific style, but just that they had FOUND it… while I was still searching. My style was out there somewhere… why couldn’t I figure out the secret?! I told John that I’ve been like a scientist toiling away in a lab: experimenting, failing a lot… but knowing somewhere the answer to the equation was out there, and I would find it. The answer did not come right away when I started using VSCO. I played with it… created some really ugly photos that will never see the light of day. But kept on toiling, thinking maybe this would get me closer to the picture in my head. And then… I found it. Just a few days ago. I wasn’t really working on post production; I was just playing around. Trying a little of this, adding a little of that. And just by chance I created THE THING. The thing that had been in my head since day one of becoming a professional photographer. The equation, the answer. I tried it on some other photos – different lighting situations, indoor… outdoor… artificial light… they were all the same. It was beautiful. Slightly muted, deep color… the tone I had had in my head forever.
Do you know what that’s like? To have something in your head that you need to get out but you can’t find the answer to? I know it sounds totally insane… but it was a weight lifted. I could finally create the art I’ve been wanting to create all along. There it was. John and I opened a bottle of wine, and I kept saying, “You don’t know what this means. I did it.” Yeah… crazy. A mad photography scientist.
The fact that I found the answer to my mysterious photography equation using VSCO is a huge plus because of the time saving aspects of it. I use Bridge and Photoshop for post production – not Lightroom. I shoot RAW, and I try to do as much of my post production in Camera Raw as possible, so that I only have to open Photoshop to do minor touch ups, and can just batch edit for sharpness and a little color pop. Because of this secret formula (well… it’s not secret; if you want it, I’m happy to share) I’ve created for myself… it means that I can get the total look I wanted in Camera Raw. I can open 100 photos in Raw, select them all, add my secret formula… then just quickly run through them making minor exposure/color corrections. Then batch edit for sharpness and call it a day. Time, my friends… that precious thing that I have been so desperate for in the last two years. I feel like I beat the system somehow. I can retain control of my post production (since I was on the verge of outsourcing), and actually get everything done in a much more timely fashion. It’s amazing.
**EDITED TO ADD**: VSCO is not going to make you the next Jose Villa. As with everything Photoshop related, you can’t take a shitty photograph, run some presets on it, and make it into a beautiful photograph. You and I both know it’s not that simple. If you’re frustrated with your work in some way… VSCO isn’t going to be a quick fix. Make sure you take the time to hone your technical skills and are creating photographs you’re proud of straight out of camera. If you’re proud of your photos when they come out of the camera without any edits on them, then VSCO (or anything Photoshop related) MAY be able to help you enhance their beauty… but it’s not going to save a bad photo. You have to start with a good photo and go from there. Professional photographer rule #1!
A few photographs from the first wedding I edited using my new mad scientist formula. (I cannot wait to share this entire wedding!!):
**It should be noted, none of these companies know who I am. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything like that. I just wanted to share some things that were making my life as a photographer better.**
So what are some things that you’ve been loving lately? Has anything made your workflow faster? Gotten your creative juices flowing? I’d love to know!