Packaging and Client Gifts for Photographers | USBs and Other Things

"Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String... These are a Few of My Favorite Things"

Today on the blog, I'm sharing my favorite things for packaging.  I've changed up my packaging over the years, both with my client gifts and with the final products.  When I first started this business, my client gift was a Starbucks gift card and a hand written note.  My clients loved it! It was a sweet gesture, but also at a price point that coincided with what my prices were back then.  For the final delivery... I sent them DVDs of images (face palm). But that was the norm! They were also in little sleeves that I hand stamped :).  We all know that discs are becoming obsolete or maybe they already are and so I've adapted with the times.  

Products and Packaging for photographers

Today, whenever a client books me, I still like to send them a little gift of some of my favorites. Currently it includes a cute little Belvoir Lemonade, MAST chocolate, a Well Known conversation book and of course the classic Starbucks gift card :) . They also get a PDF of helpful things to do with wedding planning such as deciding factors about first looks, how to prepare for your engagement session, and how to make a photo timeline.

photography client welcome gift

Once the wedding is over and all of the photos have been edited, I send my clients a link to a PASS gallery.  This is my biggest and easiest ways to keep up with the times.  However, an online gallery wouldn't be enough for me so I send my clients a custom wooden box, which contains a set of prints from the day as well as a USB drive. 

photographer usb drive

I just got these new custom USB drives from USB Memory Direct, which is a wholesale USB company.  They did a great job, were easy and friendly to work with and the wooden USBs match my packaging perfectly.  They have different styles and can customize anything.  This style is the Tower.

usb memory direct

Online galleries are awesome, but there is a peace of mind knowing that you have a back up of images on a flashdrive, plus they are a tangible keepsake from your wedding day!

wholesale usb distribution

Finally, everything gets sent off in the mail, but the shipping box gets some flair with fun stickers by MOO and my custom stamp by Ashleigh Kimmel of With Wonder Paper.

products and packaging for photographers

If you're a photographer, what do you do for client gifts or final delivery of images?

Fun Stuff

Belvoir Lemonade

MAST Chocolate

Well Known Book

Starbucks Gift Card

Online Gallery | PASS

USBs | USB Memory Direct

Wooden Box | Photoflashdrive

Prints | WHCC

Business Cards and Stickers | MOO

Logo | Designed in Collaboration with Katie Tuttle 

Stamp | With Wonder Paper

Maybe for my next post I'll show you what's in my styling kit or my camera bag :)



You Might Be A Thief: The Common Practice of Copyright Infringement

Here’s a startling reality - you’re probably guilty of copyright infringement or at minimum, know someone who is.  

Today, I want to talk you about Copyright - something that most of us don’t know much about and hopefully offer a bit of education for both photographers and everyone else.*

copyright infringement photographers

What is Copyright?

"Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation.” That means that at the moment that shutter clicks - whether it’s on your phone or a $3000 camera, you own that photo - pretty cool right?

If you reproduce an image that you did not create, whether on social media, your website, or physical print, and you do not have permission from the owner - it is theft.  

433 bishop wedding photographer

How does that apply to me? 

Whether you’re a photographer or not, you may have very easily committed this crime or have had it committed against you without realizing it.

Like me, most of you probably haven’t read Instagram’s Terms of Use.  However, I’d like to highlight a very interesting section for you.  Under the section, Rights, #4 it reads - 

"You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Service or otherwise have the right to grant the rights and licenses set forth in these Terms of Use; (ii) the posting and use of your Content on or through the Service does not violate, misappropriate or infringe on the rights of any third party, including, without limitation, privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademark and/or other intellectual property rights; (iii) you agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owed by reason of Content you post on or through the Service; and (iv) you have the legal right and capacity to enter into these Terms of Use in your jurisdiction.”

Have you ever seen a photo on Instagram, Pinterest, or even Google images - saved it and posted it on your website or your Instagram account? That’s theft. Maybe you gave credit to the original photographer? Still theft.  If you don’t have permission, it is stolen and you've violated Instagram's terms of use. Side note: It’s even harder to find the original on websites like Pinterest.

MTY Styled Shoot-260.jpg

Alright, you’ve convinced me, I’m a thief.  What do I do if I’m not a photographer who can create their own images?

  1. Hire a photographer to do some branding photos for you.
  2. If you see a photo you want to use, ASK for it.  Many photographers want the exposure and are more than willing to let you use their image.  Personally, if I have worked with vendors at a wedding, I am more than happy to share those images with them.  It helps all of us in the wedding industry. 
  3. Expect to pay - if you ask for an image, they may let you use it, but if you’re a business trying to sell something and you want free images for advertising, that may not happen.  If you’re making money off of someone else’s work, they need to be paid too.
  4. Use stock photography (not google images) - there are many stock photography websites out there - some even free.  


novare wedding photographer atlanta

Someone has stolen my images - HALP! What do I do?

  1. Screenshot the image for your records.
  2. They may not realize what they’ve done is illegal.  Take a moment to be flattered that they like your work, but then educate them. DM or email them letting them know that they are violating copyright law - reference the terms of use if necessary.
  3. Ask for payment (you set the price) or for them to remove the photo. As photographers, we make our living off of our photographs and we can’t afford to live on “exposure”… but that’s another topic…

If it gets really intense, there are more aggressive routes. offers some great guidance HERE.

Have anything you think I should add? Have any experience with this yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

*I’m not a lawyer, but would encourage you to reach out to one if you’d like a deeper understanding of copyright laws.

All images from our Minimalist Styled Shoot

5 Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer at a Consultation

Ok, so you're searching on line and there are LITERALLY (read like Chris Traeger) thousands of photographers. They come in every area, price point, and varying styles.  You may have also heard horror stories from some friend of a friend who read a blog about this girl who's photographer was horrible and you don't want that to be you.  You've finally decided to chat with a few of them, but you don't know what to ask.

Here are a few questions that will help you sort out hobbyists from professionals as well as help you feel comfortable and confident with your choice of the person to capture one of the most exciting days of your life.

dunaway gardens wedding photographer

1. Do you have a business license*?

This is a yes or no questions and shouldn’t take long to ask.  It may even be in their FAQ page if they have one.  However, it will sort out the hobbyists from the professionals.  

2. Do you have insurance*?

Another simple yes or no question that will help you sort out professionalism of any vendor.  This is also a great question because many venues will require a photographer to have insurance.

dunaway gardens wedding photographer

3. Is this your full time job? / How long have you been in business?

If the answer is no, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good photographer or aren’t professional, but it does mean that their time may be limited and scheduling meetings or engagement sessions, and response time to emails may prove to be a little more difficult.  Asking how long they've been in business may also provide you with an opportunity to hear more of their story and how their business got started as well as giving you confidence that they've been through this process many times before.

national cathedral school wedding photographer

4. Can I see a full real wedding gallery?

I’ve seen many photographer’s websites that only contain images from styled shoots. While these images may show off what a photographer can do, a styled shoot is nothing like a real wedding day.  At a styled shoot, you have plenty of time to photograph every aspect of the shoot and shoot it multiple ways.  You may be using models who don’t need much direction.  There may even be a stylist who has arranged all the details for you and has created a table with far more detail than you might see on an actual wedding day.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love styled shoots, but if you’re a client, you need a realistic expectation of what your day might look like.  Most brides are not models, the details are often arranged by the photographer. Styled shoots also don’t offer you the ability to see what family photos or dancing at the reception might look like.  Many photographers may be like me who’s favorite photos are those with the bride and groom and so we over show those photos and forget to show the actual reception.  As a potential client, look through the gallery not at whether or not you like the details in the photos, but if you like how they are composed, the coloring, how their photos with flash look, etc.

washington dc anderson house wedding photographer

5. Lastly, ask any clarifying questions you may have and get to know you questions. 

This could be be anything from how do you do family portraits? What does a timeline look like? What does “retainer" mean?  Most likely you’ve never been married and this may all be brand new to you, but your photographer and other vendors have been a part of many wedding days and would be happy to make sure you feel comfortable.  It also may not hurt to ask some questions about them and how they got started or even what they do when they're not photographing weddings.  You will be spending a lot of time with this person on your wedding day so make sure you hire someone who you puts you at ease.

dupont circle washington dc anderson house wedding

*Note to Photographers: 

If you’re making money or intend to make money shooting weddings, you need to have a business license and insurance.  Weddings are a big liability and you need to protect yourself as well as your clients.  If you want to be a legitimate business this also means paying taxes. If you need any help to get pointed in the right direction, I’d love to meet with you. If you don’t have a full real wedding gallery because you’ve only been second shooting, that’s fine!  Be open and honest with your clients.  They may be able to get a great deal on their wedding photography because they are willing to take a risk with someone who is newer. I'm so thankful for those first clients of mine who took a risk and allowed me to prove myself.

If you're a photographer or vendor, I'd love to hear what other questions you'd suggest couples ask before hiring a wedding photographer.  Leave a comment below!

How Did I Wind Up Here? | Reflections

My journey to becoming a full fledged, full time photographer was a slow, yet also quick one.  

I got my first DSLR (aka “fancy camera”) when I graduated from UGA in the spring of 2011.  It was fun to play with and took way better pictures than any other camera even on AUTO.  I was the friend that brought it to tailgates and trips and my camera would get passed around so we could document the day’s activities.  This was also during the time when “Facebook Albums” were pretty prevalent and you had to try to come up with witty album names. 

Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

It wasn’t till maybe a year later when a recently engaged friend suggested that I take their engagement photos.  So I did!  And I have been photographing them ever since :). We could probably have some kind of art exhibit of the Tuttle family and the evolution of Holly Von Lanken Photography… maybe one day. ;)

Anyway, I loved getting to photograph them!  It was so much fun and it made them happy.. which made me happy!

I was at the stage in my life when several friends were starting to get married and I would volunteer to take engagement photos for them for fun/practice/as a wedding present of sorts.  At this point in time, I never would have thought I’d be where I am now - not that I have “made it” by any means, but where I am in that I am my primary provider and I can sit at my computer at home at 11:36am on a Wednesday drafting this blog post.

Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

So let’s fast forward a little’s circa 2013 and I’m stalking Kaitie Bryant’s website almost daily and learning as much as I can.  If you know me, you know that when I get interested in something, I will research it till no end.  Around that time, I worked up the courage and asked Kaitie if I could shadow/ follow her around at a wedding just to see what it was like… and she said yes! And it was awesome! At this point though, I still never considered that this could be a job or even a side hustle for me.  It was just a fun hobby.

At the end of that year, I was in my friend’s wedding.  The photographer for that wedding was Chloe Giancola, whose husband was one of the groomsmen.  At the reception we got to talking and I asked to second shoot with her and she said yes! I ended up second shooting with Chloe for the greater part of 2014.  I learned a lot from Chloe and was able to see how the flow of a wedding day went.  I learned to shoot in RAW and in manual that year.  It was an excellent year of growth.  During this time I was also going to workshops and doing more research and toying with the idea that this could be an actual business.  Still I never dreamed it would be a full time gig, but could be a hobby that paid for itself because let’s be real - photo gear is expensive.  I made a really terrible Wordpress website, which hopefully the world will never have to see. I really hope it’s not still alive somewhere in the depths of the internet.   I made some homemade business cards - also pretty embarrassing - and continued to invest in learning this trade.  

Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

Things turned when I booked my first weddings during the later months of 2014.  I had been told, “If you’re going to shoot weddings, you need to have a business license.” So that’s what I did.  I did more research and learned everything I could about business licenses, taxes, and all that other nasty legal stuff that if you’re going to have a company, you need to know. In October 2014, I officially launched “Holly Von Lanken Photography”.  

Also, can we give a quick shout out to the first weddings - the couples who trusted me the most and decided to take a risk?  Thank you Andersons and Timmons!  The Timmons booked me first, but the Andersons were the first wedding I shot that was “mine” in January 2015.

Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

From there, things grew.  During all of this, there was a lot of prayer.  I prayed and asked God if this was really something I could or should do.  I prayed that I would do a good job and that the couples would love their photos.  I prayed that God would send me the “right” couples - not the couples who had the most aesthetically pleasing weddings (although that’s always a plus), but those who were excited to get married and weren’t going to sweat the small stuff and who I genuinely liked.   These are prayers I’ve prayed many times and will continue to pray along with many others.  

God kept answering my prayers.  I remember praying to shoot 5 weddings in 2015.  I thought that was a pretty good goal for having shot zero in 2014.  I ended up shooting 12.  

Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

I may also need to mention that during this time I was also working full time as a teacher, teaching high school Spanish.  I really did enjoy teaching and I loved my students (most of them ;)).  However, it became really difficult to do both full time teaching and photography.  Plus, I was driving about an hour to school and back every day.  More prayers were prayed about what I should do and probably for another year of prayerful consideration and meeting with Shanna Skidmore, a creative business consultant, I decided to make the switch to full time.  I finished out the 2015-2016 school year and then jumped into full time photography life.  

This summer marks the completion of the first full year of full time photography and I’m so thankful for the clients, vendors, and friends I’ve met along the way.  It’s been good to reflect on various things about my life and my career being one of them.  The Lord is ever faithful.

I wanted to share this story for this anniversary of sorts, but also for other creatives because I’ve been there.  I know about the long hours, the considerations, the one million resources out there that everyone tells you that you “need.”  I’ve found some of my most helpful encounters came from being able to sit in front of another human being and just talking.  Don’t get me wrong, there is value in webinars and online courses and there are great ones out there.  They are perfect for reaching the masses, but there’s still nothing like a face to face meeting over a nice warm cup of coffee or working with someone in a hands on environment to learn.  

Shelby Rae Photographs

Shelby Rae Photographs

If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you.  

With all that said, I want to give creatives starting out more opportunities for one-on-one, face-to-face meetings.  This is why I decided to start offering mentoring sessions for small creative businesses.  This could be a one hour conversation over coffee to figure out the government side of a start up.  It could be to get clarity or work on action steps to achieving your goals.  It could even look like setting up processes to make your business run smoothly.  I also realized that there are those out there who need some practice with using a DSLR camera whether simply for themselves, to hone their skills, or because they run their own businesses - maybe not even a photography business, but want to know how to take better images of their products.  

If any of this sounds like you, I’d love to chat and help get you where you want to go.  Thanks so much for reading and being along for this crazy ride. 

Word to your mother,


10 Days in the Life of a Wedding Photographer

"You’re a photographer, right?  So, like, what do you do all day when you're not shooting?"

I get this question often.  It’s not that people are trying to discredit my profession or think that I just sit at home watching Netflix all day.  They are just genuinely curious.  It’s not a typical 9-5 job.  There is the flexibility that I can do laundry while I’m working or take a personal day if I need to, but many people don’t realize that running a photography business is actually less time shooting and much more time actually running a business.

To show people what I do, I decided to keep a record of everything I did for 10 days.  Each week could look different, but this may give you a good idea as to what a photographer does behind the scenes and what the day-to-day might look like.

DAY 1: Sunday, February 19th

10:30am - Church

12:30-5:00pm - Simply Foxhall Workshop - Hosted by Simply Cater.  I photographed the styled shoot element, shot some behind the scenes of the event, and spoke.

Side Note: I don’t typically work on Sundays, but an opportunity came up for me to speak and photograph at this event.  Last week I was talking on the phone with organizers, emailing, and preparing my talk - “How to draft your perfect photo timeline.”

BTS of Amberly, of Wrennwood Design, lighting the table at the Simply Foxhall Workshop

DAY 2: Monday, February 20th - President’s Day

Some of my friends with 9-5 jobs had this day as a holiday, some didn't.  I decided to go "halfsies".  Also seeing as I worked the day before, I felt no guilt about taking a half day.

AM- uploaded, culled, and began editing photos from Sunday

PM - took off to spend time with friends, rest, and read

DAY 3: Tuesday, February 21st

AM - Did some styled and BTS photos for Maybe to Yes Workshop at 433 Bishop

Then, had to leave for a little bit to go meet my clients for their engagement session in Cabbagetown.

PM - Returned for the afternoon portion of Maybe to Yes for more BTS shots.

At home “after hours” - uploaded engagement photos and day one of maybe to yes and culled images, Sent headshots to a friendor. 

BTS of Taylor, of Taylor Dawn Design, at the Maybe to Yes Workshop

DAY 4: Wednesday, February 22nd

AM + PM - At Maybe to Yes all day - headshots, styled shoot, and BTS photos

"After hours" Started drafting blog post for Brianne McMullan Events

DAY 5: Thursday, February 23rd

AM - uploaded and culled Maybe to Yes workshop and styled shoot photos from day 2, Returned emails, Booked an engagement session, Called ga doe about log in info

Went to the Atlanta Youth Academy (AYA) to hang out with my mentee, Precious.*

*Yes, this is one of the perks to making my own schedule.  I can volunteer in the middle of the day!

Returned groom’s suit from Sunday’s workshop

PM - Finished editing Simply Foxhall Workshop photos, Uploaded to online gallery, Returned more emails

Some goodies from Grice Grove that were at her pop up shop at Simply Foxhall Workshop

DAY 6: Friday, February 24th

AM - Chapel at AYA and 2nd graders were leading. (When I went the day before, Precious and her teacher asked if I was coming and who could say no to that sweet child so I went two days in row.)

Posted blog post and promoted on social media

PM - Uploading the rest of SFW photos to online gallery, Reviewed a portfolio/ website for a newer photographer, Met her for lunch, Sent Simply Foxhall Workshop photos to the organizers of the event, Edited MTY headshots

Our new Tuesdays Together Atlanta leaders and speakers at Maybe to Yes - Kristen Green and Sarah Chancey

DAY 7: Saturday, February 25th

8am - Engagement Session at O4W park - again I don't normally do portrait sessions on Saturdays that I don't have weddings, but she was flying in from Nebraska and thus, I broke my own rule again... must get better at that.

No more work this weekend! 

DAY 8: Sunday, February 26th


Sabbath aka no work or emails for me today!

Taylor taught attendees about styling and they got to play with pretty paper, ribbon and jewelry

DAY 9: Monday, February 27th

AM - Emails - following up with brides, discussing engagement sessions, with my CPA to file my taxes, Submitting shoots to publications, Signed up for webinars, Editing -worked on MTY, finished editing an engagement session, Planning/ dreaming for future fun things like workshops, mentoring sessions and a summer intern. Be on the look out for all these fun things potentially happening in the future!

PM - Exported engagement sesh and uploaded to online gallery, Posting to social media, Blog post planning

DAY 10: Tuesday, February 28th

AM - Respond to emails, Finish blog post, Post blog post, Cull images for styled shoot submission

PM - Went on a run (again with the work perks - I give myself freedom to run in the middle of the day), Submit to publication, Research engagement shoot locations, Listen to Ashlyn Writes Webinar, Start editing MTY Workshop day 2


So there ya have it - 10 days in my life and what I did.  Like I said before, every week, every day could look different depending on what is necessary to accomplish that day.  Some days look more exciting with workshops and photo sessions while others tend to be a bit less exciting like doing taxes and talking to people on the phone at various government agencies.  Through it all, I'm happy to get to run my own company for as long as the Lord wills it.

Peace up, A-Town down,



How To Draft Your Perfect Photo Timeline

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing and speaking at the Simply Foxhall Workshop hosted by Simply Catering.  My short talk was about creating a wedding day photo timeline.  If you are newer to the wedding industry or if you are a bride trying to envision how your big day will unfold, this may be a good read for you.

If you are a bride, hopefully your photographer or wedding planner will help you draft your timeline, but sometimes it's nice to think ahead - especially if you're a detailed person like me.

Details to think about:

How long do you have your photographer?

The standard is about 8 hours.  Some photographers may have packages that are more or less depending on your budget - especially if you value their quality of photography, but maybe can't spend the money on a full day of coverage.  It's all about making decisions based on what aspects of your day are most important to you.

Are you doing a first look?

This will definitely affect when you take photos during the day.  There are pros and cons to both.  

Pros - You're able to get to your reception quicker, you are first priority and get your couple portraits done first right after your hair and make up is finished, and you can get most of your photos done before the ceremony.

Cons - It goes against tradition if you want to see each other for the first time walking down the aisle.  You may have to start getting ready earlier in the day.

What time is your ceremony?

There's an old wives tale that says you should get married when the minute hand is ascending aka at the half hour or later for good luck, but most millennials that I've talked to had never heard of this and most people wisely base it off of sunset time.  Keep in mind that if you are getting married at 5:30pm and the sun sets at 6:00pm all of your photos afterwards will either be in the dark or inside.

How long is your ceremony?

A typical ceremony length is about 30 minutes.  If it is a traditional religious ceremony such as Greek Orthodox, your ceremony may last much longer.

What time is sunset?

This is an easy thing to google, but to give you an idea:

In April the sun sets about 8pm.  In June it sets around 8:30pm and in October it sets around 7pm.

Do you have travel between your venues?

How many family portraits/ combinations are you taking? How many in your bridal party? 

All these factors contribute to how long photos may last.  I suggest leaving a little cushion just in case.

You should be tucked away about about an hour before your ceremony as out of town guests tend to arrive early and you should be hidden.  This also gives you a chance to eat something, drink some water, and gives your photographer time to get detail shots of your venue or any other details there may not have been time for previously.

My Example Timeline

As we've talked about, a timeline can vary based on many different factors, but below is an example timeline based on 8 hours of photography coverage in October with a first look and no travel between venues.

1:30pm - getting ready, details shots, and putting dress on

2:15pm - First Look and Couple Portraits

3:00pm - Bride; Bride with each Bridesmaid; and Bridesmaids group

3:30pm - Groom; Groom with each Groomsman; and Groomsmen group

4:00pm - Full Bridal Party

4:30pm - Tucked Away

5:30pm- Ceremony

6:00pm - Family Portraits

6:30pm - additional couple portraits during golden hour

6:45pm - announced into reception


9:30pm - Grand Exit

I hope this helps as you draft your perfect photo timeline!

Happy Planning!


How To: Be a Stellar Second Shooter | Part II

Have gear like a photographer - the most geeky post I will ever write

The Basics:

DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera + a lens

Really.  At minimum, those are the only two pieces of equipment that you need to start second shooting.  

Icing on the cake? A prime lens and a flash.

To prove my point, I'll be vulnerable and post a few photos from one of the first weddings I ever second shot with Chloe Giancola Photography - using a Nikon D3000, 35mm f/1.8 lens, and a SB600 flash at the reception.


So, let’s cover some of what that is, your options and how expensive these thing tend to be.

Camera Bodies:

The most popular camera bodies are going to be Nikon, Canon, and Sony has recently started making some really great cameras and is becoming a contender in the DSLR game.

Don’t stress too much about which one you need to get.  Mostly it’s preference, but once you choose, stick with it because all your lenses will be interchangeable.  I personally shoot Nikon, but I think mostly that has to do with the fact that that’s what my dad and grandfather had.  It's genetic. :)

I'll be using Nikon for my example because that is what I am the most familiar with.

Entry Level NIkon DSLR - D3200 - D5500 ($450-$800) - Great cameras for learning without spending a fortune.

Prosumer Level Nikon DSLR - D90, D7000-7200, D300S (~$1200)

Professional Level Nikon DSLR - D600 - D4S (~$1400+) - These are "full frame" camera bodies which allow for higher quality in all areas of the image.


kit lens - The lens that usually comes with a camera body. It’s very versatile because of the ability to zoom, but not the most ideal for portraits because the aperture is usually f/3.5 or 4 ($200-500)

prime lens - usually a 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm lens with a aperture of f/2 or less.  My workhorse kind of lens.  It’s ideal for portraits or if you want the blurry background known as “bokeh”. ($200-1600)

telephoto zoom lens - for really close up zoom.  good for a large ceremony space. (~$400-2000)

macro lens - (Nikon calls it micro) allows you to get really close to an object.  Great for getting those ring shots. ($250-1000)

wide angle lens - ex. 24mm - great for large bridal parties or small rooms so that you can pack more into a photo.  Too wide and it becomes a fisheye.  ($250-1700)

As you can tell, lenses come in wide varieties of sizes and prices depending on your needs.


flash attachment - more powerful than the flash that’s built into your camera.  Used if the reception or ceremony space is dimly lit.

off camera flash - the flash is not attached to your camera, but on a stand (usually multiple flashes) set up around the room and controlled by a remote.  Great for allowing more light on your subject so that there aren’t crazy shadows, but you have to be careful not to point your camera at the flash otherwise your image will be blown out.  

"But I don’t have the money for all that equipment.  What do I do?"

Renting is an option if you’re not ready to buy or you want to try something out before you make the big purchase.

A couple options:

PPR in Atlanta also rents equipment.

Buying equipment used is also an option to save some money.  

photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

Memory Cards & Shooting

Learn how to shoot in manual and shoot in RAW.  RAW images allow for better editing capabilities because all the different levels can be manipulated if necessary.  Think of it like a 3D image as compared to a flat image.  JPEG pre-applies colors and is less desirable for editing.  JPEG is better if you are going to shoot and share immediately.  

Memory Cards - some photographers may ask you to shoot on your cards or they may have you shoot on their cards and just have you turn them over when the event is finished.  If you want to keep your photos for your portfolio, I would suggest bringing your computer along so that you can upload them immediately after the event in case you have to give the cards back.  Or, if your camera has dual memory card slots consider making a copy on the second as you shoot. 

I hope now you're ready to pack your camera bag and go shoot some amazing photos no matter what equipment you have! 

Part 3 comin' at ya soon! 

Happy Shooting,


How To: Be a Stellar Second Shooter | Part I

Dress like a photographer

First off, you might be asking, "What's a second shooter?".  A second shooter is what it sounds like.  It's an extra photographer who has been hired on by another photographer, or a "lead photographer."  This person is usually contracted out for weddings or other events so that there are multiple perspectives and extra photos taken.  The reason people second shoot is because it's a great way to gain experience and start building a portfolio, there's no editing required, and there's usually a little extra cash in your pocket.  Plus, it's fun to get to do what you're passionate about! 

I started learning about wedding photography as a second shooter, and still do second shooting on occasions when I can because that means I get to hang with all my photog friends doing what we love to do together :)  

Everyone starts somewhere and I'm thankful for all the lovely ladies who let me follow them around and ask them questions.  There are some things I think I did well as a second shooter and some things I think I probably could've done better.  Now, being on the other side and hiring people to second shoot, I see so much more the reasoning behind why we do what we do or why the lead photographer has certain requests, restrictions, or requirements.  

In this little series of blog posts, I hope to give a few pointers to anyone who is looking to get into wedding photography and how to get there.  Please feel free to shoot me questions, give me suggestions on what you think future posts should be, or even let me know if I left anything out. 

Thanks for reading!

left: by second shooter, Danielle Hulsey; right: by lead photographer, Holly Von Lanken

left: by second shooter, Danielle Hulsey; right: by lead photographer, Holly Von Lanken

For this first installment of, "How To: Be a Stellar Second Shooter", we're going to talk about clothes - that's right ladies, fashion.  It's a fun topic so why not start there?  If you're going to be a photographer, look the part :)


They need to be COMFORTABLE.  That's the key word here, people.  As a photographer, you are on your feet for 8+ hours on a wedding day.  You need to make sure your feet won't be killing you by the time it's all over.  Unless you are superwoman, I wouldn't suggest wearing heels. 

left: tieks ; right: TOMS

left: tieks ; right: TOMS

There are plenty of other shoes out there and you may already have your favorite pair, but here are a couple suggestions from me: Tieks & TOMS. 


Why the color black you might ask? 

1. It looks professional.

2. It hides sweat on those hot summer days ;)

3. It helps you blend in with the other guests, the background, etc.

The scientific reason...

4. It won't reflect any weird light on your image because black absorbs all light.  

Not every photographer will require that you wear all black, but when in doubt, it's not a bad idea.

left: Me! by Chloe Giancola; right: photo for Chloe Giancola by me.

left: Me! by Chloe Giancola; right: photo for Chloe Giancola by me.

Nice, but comfortable.

It's a long day.  Wear something that you'll be comfortable in.  However, you are photographing a wedding, which is a nice event.  You want to blend in with the guests and protect the integrity of the event.

GOOD: Dress pants or skirt + blouse, dress, etc. (for the ladies); dress pants + button down shirt, potential for a tie (for the gents)

Personally, I love a good cotton dress, but you need to look like you so throw in your own personal touches like a scarf or belt.

BAD: shorts & jeans

Now that you look like a photographer, you'll need some gear... 

until next time,


love my second shooter, brides & grooms!

love my second shooter, brides & grooms!