Mon. Oct 20, 2014 by Mary    Pancake Sessions

10 Ways To Keep Your Balance as a Business Owner

I think there is this thing that happens when you own your own business and become your own boss.

You go into it because you can set your own schedule and work from home and never get out of your yoga pants if you want to! Put your sensible corporate black heels on the top shelf of your closet....it's Uggs all the way for you, baby! :)

And in SO many ways, working for yourself is one of the greatest, most satisfying, exciting things you can ever do. Justin & I are SO grateful that we get to work together and travel together and build things together and go on this adventure together every single day.

But owning your own business can also take its toll. Spending too many days in a row in yoga pants can take its toll. Having work hours that blur into one another and countless hours at a computer- your desk covered with empty coffee mugs and Lara bar wrappers- can take. its. toll.

Not having a regular grocery routine. Not spending our Saturdays like normal people do. Not having a regular pay check that gets deposited every Friday like clockwork.

And the fact is, somewhere around your fourth day in a row in yoga pants and your 117th episode of the Law & Order SVU marathon you've been putting on while you catch up on editing.....you can start to feel not so human anymore.

And that's the catch 22. We started this business because we want freedom and adventure and to break the rules of normalcy. And all of that is amazing.

But somewhere in there, I think at our most basic human level, we crave some structure & routine & to feel normal too.

We've been learning this slowly but surely, and over time we've figured out a few things that we can do every day to give us back some of that normalcy but still allow us to be the great adventurers we want to be too! Here are a few of our favorite ones, in no particular order.




1. Make your bed every day. It sounds silly and small, I know. But a few things happen when you start out the day this way. First, you feel like you've accomplished something right off the bat. And that productivity is contagious....it's a small win that spurs you on to get even more stuff done. Second, it brings order to the room. And that order is calming. Which is a great way to head into the day. And finally, I just find that I sleep better at night when I'm crawling into a bed that has been made rather than a tangle of sheets and pillows. And that sets me up for a good day the following day.

2. Clear the clutter. Speaking of order creating calm, if I ever find myself feeling anxious & distracted, 9 times out of 10 it's because our work area/house is a mess. And it's a mess because we're actually here 24 hours a day, unlike people who go off to a day job. If I will just take 30-45 minutes to go through the house & do a quick straighten up before I try to tackle any work, then suddenly I feel like a) I've accomplished another thing and b) we are people who actually have it together and now I can accomplish anything. Even better: try doing this quick clean at night before you eat dinner/take off for the night. It will make dinner more relaxing & you can wake up to a clean house/work space rather than having this on your list first thing.

3. Have a morning routine One that doesn't involve email! Before I ever delve into email or the work of the day, I like to start my mornings for me. I wake up around 7am and put coffee on (this in itself is such a relaxing ritual for me with grinding the beans & prepping the coffee maker). I cozy up with a blanket, sip my coffee, do a little bible reading, put on some good music, and start my day slow. When you start the day in email, you start the day with a million people pulling you in every direction before you've even had the chance to wake up. And that sense of being spread too thin carries throughout the day. Starting the day for yourself, fills up the tank so you can be more for other people. This morning routine is a relatively new change for me & I can tell you that it's making a TON of difference!

4. Write your "Win the Day" list the night before. The "Win the Day" list is something I've been using for years now that is basically the 3-5 things you want to accomplish in a day (as opposed to a super long to do list that no one ever finishes). And even if nothing else gets done, if you can finish those three to five things, then you can call that day a win. But something that I've been realizing as I do this, is that if I will sit down and write out tomorrow's list the night before it does two things: 1) first I know exactly what I need to work on when I sit down at my desk the next morning and 2) it helps to calm my brain as I should be turning off for the night. Writing it down gets it out of my head!

5. Take breaks throughout the day. Go on a walk with your dog, drink your afternoon coffee in quiet rather than on the go, sit somewhere and close your eyes and breathe. Study after study after STUDY has shown that regular breaks throughout the day make you so much more productive. And it helps you to feel like you're not chained to your computer.

6. Shower & get ready. When we were at the Pursuit 31 Conference this year, I had a bit of an a-ha moment: I was getting up & getting showered AND getting ready every day. And I felt a million times better. When I work from home on the other hand, I'm (usually) showering but then I'm skipping the getting ready part because I'm just going to be working from home. So why put in the effort? And that has meant a LOT of days in yoga pants and buns on top of my head. And I realized that even though that sounds amazing, it was actually taking a toll on me. I just started to feel blah all the time and that's how I was approaching every day. When we ran out to grab lunch or run to the bank, that's how I was approaching other people too. When I shower & actually get ready, I feel better and more productive. And then I act that way too.

7. Download. On a very regular basis, sit down and write out everything that's swirling around your brain. Keep it somewhere safe like a notebook dedicated to just this. This way your brain will know that it's somewhere safe and it won't try to keep track of everything, which keeps it constantly racing.

8. Have designated days Have set days when you do your grocery shopping & run errands. Have set days when you do all of your meetings. Have days when you sit home & edit uninterrupted. This will foster focus in your life. And help eliminate those days where you feel like you just ran one place to another and never really got anything done.

9. Keep a notebook with you I pretty much always have a notebook with me in my purse. It never fails that as we're going somewhere or running to pick up something or grabbing lunch, suddenly my brain starts spinning with a hundred things I need to do. Having the notebook means I can write it down & then forget about it for the time being rather than trying to remember it all.

10. Shut down for the night. We like to have a couple of rituals, if you will, to signal to our brains that we're shutting down for the night. I'll shut my office door or Justin will turn out the light in his, I'll light candles, I'll turn on music for us to cook to, we'll have a plan for what movie we're going to watch that night or where we're going to go. Having that ritual & that reward to look forward to makes us work harder when we should be to get everything done & then it helps our brains to shut down for the night and actually feel rested when it's time to turn off.

We hope this helps if even in some small way!! Here's to chasing the adventure...AND feeling like you have a life!
xo
M:)

** So tell us, which one of these 10 are YOU going to try this week?? Here's to finding the balance!











Fri. Oct 17, 2014 by Mary    Pancake Sessions

Pancake Session: 5 Ways to Get Published More

On Tuesday, Justin & I were SO lucky to be invited as two of the featured guest speakers at the Two Bright Lights workshop that is going around the country right now! We have been using TBL for years now as a way to streamline our submissions workflow to magazines & blogs and have everything in one place and we absolutely LOVE it!

So we were super honored when they invited us in to speak not only to the photographer's point of view on getting published more & what shots to go for, but also from the publications side of things now that we are also editors with our own two wedding blogs The Black Tie Bride & The Well Groomed Groom. Those two blogs have just exploded in ways we could have never imagined this year, and they are becoming a bigger & bigger part of who we are now! The other day I was introduced first as the Editor in Chief of The Black Tie Bride, and that was SO crazy since for so long I've been introduced as a wedding photographer first! It is definitely an exciting season for us & we are SO excited to see where it all goes from here! We're just super grateful for all of it and I think it's crazy the places that life takes you!

But anyway, back to the event! :) I think it was such a cool place to be in, to be able to see both sides of things at once. Both to know the shots that we, as editors, are looking for, but also to know as photographers all the challenges that go in to getting those shots. For example, some of the other editors who were speaking (there were some AMAZING other folks there that night including Bridget Clegg from The Knot, Kunbi Odubogun from Aisle Perfect, Maggie Lord from Rustic Wedding Chic, and Ragan Kensington from Two Bright Lights ) had mentioned that they love room shots before the guests get in there & pictures of the escort cards before any of them are taken! We totally agree! And we also understand, as photographers, how tough those shots can be to get if the room isn't finished until a minute before guests are let in or the escort card table is left visible to guests before the ceremony (what IS it with guests wanting to grab those cards up as soon as possible?!)

So it was really fun to both speak to what editors are looking for & also to give some practical tips from the photography side of things on how to get them! I've included 5 of my favorite things we went over below & we hope it helps both in approaching the day AND getting you featured more! And if you haven't been submitting to publications yet because you feel like you just don't have the time, definitely check out Two Bright Lights as a way to streamline everything!



1. Match your Messenger Rather than tying yourself in knots and pretending that you & your work are something that they aren't just to get published somewhere, instead figure out who you are and what you want your work to stand for and then submit to wedding publications that fall in line with THAT! Remember that one of the best advantages of getting published is that it will send brides your way, but if you are constantly trying to get published somewhere that doesn't really stand for what you want your work to stand for, then they aren't going to be sending you YOUR kind of brides. List three words you want your work to be known for & then seek out the wedding publications where you would use those same three words to describe them!

2. Think of your submission as an overall collective first. I can tell you from the editor's point of view that I am ALWAYS getting my first impression of a submission by looking at the overall gallery as a collective (kind of like a pinterest board) in thumbnail view. That means that even if you have a couple of killer individual images in there, it's still most likely not going to get accepted unless I feel like overall this is a really strong submission. So what makes a strong overall collective? a) make sure you tell an overarching story of the day and give me extra coverage of emotional/candid moments, details, and portraits of the couple. b) make sure that the images as a collective are processed in the same, clean way. We see it all the time where none of the black & whites match because a slightly different action was used on each one or where the color balance is all over the place. Consistency is key. And c) don't water down your submission with sub-par images just to show more. Curate your work & show your best stuff! More is not always better and in fact if, as I glance through that overall collective, I see too many images that are a no then it waters down that whole submission and makes it very unlikely that it will be accepted.



3. Remove Visual Noise. Bridget in particular did a GREAT job of talking about this and showing examples of how a clean background makes for a much stronger image! Remember that magazines in particular & sometimes blogs are looking for images with clean negative space so that they have the potential of adding copy (text) to them. Also we're just more attracted to clean, simple images because they aren't as confusing or distracting. So that means having the time to get in there and take out distracting elements like the salt & pepper shakers, butter, or waiter trays in the background. In general, try to shoot straight across the details so that the background falls off even more with shallow depth of field. And don't forget to shoot both collectives of the details (i.e. an entire table top), but also clean, individual shots of details such as an individual shot of the centerpiece without the table number, an individual shot of the table number, an individual shot of the menu. That's because the editor might love everything about the table except for one component & having those individual options will still allow them to be able to feature the whole wedding!

4. Make time to shoot & style the details. But as a photographer, I know what you're thinking! "I usually get five minutes to shoot the details, when am I going to have time to do all that?" The answer is Justin & I have learned to make time by educating our brides early and letting them know that we need about 45 minutes to shoot the details and that if getting published is a priority for them, this is a must! And then we also work to educate them about keeping guests out of the reception until cocktail hour is over. We even have a place on our "info sheet" where we ask "Will the reception area be closed off to guests during cocktail hour" and then in parentheses (so we can get great shots of all those details before they come in!) Just this one simple change has made a WORLD of difference in us getting time to shoot the details the way we want to! You can find our info sheet by clicking HERE & feel free to use it for your own couples too!



5. Avoid stiff or cheesy posing. Finally, as I was writing this talk I had sort of an "a-ha" moment about something that influences editors that they might not even be aware of and that is stiff, cheesy posing. For us at The Black Tie Bride, this is definitely something we filter out because we are photographers ourselves and one of our guiding words is "authentic." But I think across the board, editors are paying more attention to the posing than anyone would think because they've come to realize that the really good photographers out there (who are getting & submitting the really good weddings they want to be featuring) tend to have the much or authentic, organic posing going for them. There have been a number of weddings that we have turned down at the BTB because even though the wedding was a very elegant day at an iconic venue, the whole day felt cheesy because of how the posing was handled. It makes a HUGE difference! So when in doubt go for more authentic, natural looking poses and the best way to do that is to add MOVEMENT into what you're asking them to do.

As always, we hope that helped! Feel free to leave any questions (or just say HI) in the comments below!

Have an amazing weekend you guys!
xo
M:)











Thu. Oct 16, 2014 by Mary    Portraits

Maine Styled Shoot

Over the summer we had the absolute honor of working on this *dream* of a styled shoot on a sailboat in Maine with an incredible line up of creatives led by the amazing Sarah Goodwin of Daisies & Pearls! And today we are so excited to finally get to share it with you!!

But first, absolutely NONE of this would have been possible without the creative genius of these amazing people:

Coordination, Styling & Design: Sarah Goodwin of Daisies & Pearls Merrymaking
Vessel: The Cutter Owl
Floral Design: Marianmade Farm
Dessert: The Winey Baker
Hair & Make Up: Ariel Johnson
Paper Suite: Shannon Kirsten Illustration
Dress: Andrea's Bridal
Models: Sarah & Jake





























































Wed. Oct 15, 2014 by Mary    The Latest

Guest Post on Lace and Loyalty: You Wash, I'll Dry

**Recently we had the HUGE honor of being asked by our friends at Lace and Loyalty (a beautiful wedding blog with a focus on building strong marriages) to write a guest post on our own marriage & what we've learned. Well today it went live and we would LOVE for you to head on over & read it. I've included a little excerpt below, but to see the full post be sure to click HERE.


"If you were to go to our website right now or sit down across from us in a cafe, with your hands holding a steaming cup of coffee, and set out to get to know us better… here is what I would tell you. There is a part on our about page, a mere couple of paragraphs at best, that essentially sums up who we are and who we always hope to be in our marriage. It says:

“He picks up our new Crate & Barrel Rococo stripe dish towel and snaps it lovingly in the general direction of my backside. My posterior. Derriere if you prefer.
You wash, and I’ll dry.


But ever since the “You wash, I’ll dry” line made it into first our about page, then our promo video, and then into the talks we’ve been giving at photo conferences all over the world, we have had more than our share of skeptics.

We’ve had people ask us, “I mean seriously, don’t you two have a dishwasher yet?” (Funny enough, we actually don’t. But it’s on our wish list when we do our new kitchen!).

And we’ve had people say, “I mean honestly, do you really expect us to believe that you guys actually LIKE doing dishes that much?”
To which I always say: you’re missing the point.

“You wash, I’ll dry” isn’t at all about suddenly loving all the hard and not so fun things in life simply because you’re married. It’s about how when you take on the tough things together (both the real and the metaphorical dirty dishes here), hard times somehow feel cut in half. And the joyful ones are doubled. It’s about how four hands can build a lot more together than two can alone. And it’s about being a helpmate to each other, even when the thing you’re facing isn’t so fun.

But most of all, “You wash, I’ll dry” is about always being on the same team."

To read the rest of the post & what we've learned about being on the same team, head on over HERE to read the rest of the article on the Lace and Loyalty blog!













Tue. Oct 14, 2014 by Mary    J&M Mentoring Sessions

Announcing the What's Next Sessions!!

One of the things that we have come to love the most about the teaching side of our business is that we have gotten the chance (and honestly the complete honor) to see other photographers really grow and reach new level after new level over the past few years. I think what's been one of the coolest things about all of this is that people are very rarely ever just doing one thing with us (which we know as teachers is one of the absolute highest compliments we could ever get & we're SO grateful for that). They might start with a lighting workshop, but then they are coming back for a mentoring session or to attend a Walk Through. And a lot of times, we're seeing people even come back and take a lighting intensive again or to do a second repeat of Walk Through. Because what happens is that they are taking away something different from it each time they do it, and both of those workshops just have SO much information in them that they can really grow with people over time as they are reaching different levels in their photography & businesses. So what that means, is that we might have first met some of these photographers four or five years ago when they were first getting started, but we have gotten the chance to keep track with them and watch their businesses absolutely explode over time. It has been amazing to watch! And honestly, it makes those six & twelve hour days at the workshops SO worth it!

So that got us thinking that it would be so awesome to have a type of session devoted just to those alums who are ready to take it (whatever "it" might be for them at the moment!) to the next level! A type of one hour power session they could do with us for a focused, intense brainstorming session on whatever their next BIG What's Next is for them, whether that be something with their business, brand, lighting, pricing, positioning, teaching, going full time, bringing on associates, starting a second business, or whatever crazy, amazing things they are dreaming up next! This would be a session that can be done over Skype, so they don't have to travel to CT again and can be very specific to whatever level they are ready to work on next! And with that, the "What's Next Sessions" were born!

**The What's Next Sessions will be $350 for a one-hour power mentoring session done over Skype (or can be in person if you're local!) and can be about whatever specific, unique to you & where you are topics that you want! These sessions are limited to our J&M alums, and you must have done a prior workshop or mentoring session with us to be eligible. We are going to start by opening up six sessions for the rest of the year & to be one of the first six click HERE to reserve your spot!!




And speaking of power alums, our two most recent mentoring sessions were ones we got to do with photographers we have been SO lucky to watch do amazing things the past few years! Kerri first came to a J&M Lighting Intensive and then the What's Next One Day Getaway we did last winter, and I can tell you this girl is ready to set the world on fire! I LOVED the things that were on her heart at her session, and I can already tell that so many people's lives are going to be impacted by the work she is doing! And Amy has taken two Lighting Intensives with us and is now traveling the world shooting for Richard Branson! We obviously don't take credit for that :) but I know that whatever he throws at her, this girl is definitely going to know how to light it! When we sat down with her, she told us about some HUGE big, hairy audacious dreams for where she wants this business of hers to go. And so we went to work, together, and came up with ten next steps to get her there. So much about chasing a big scary dream is about putting it into actionable next steps....and we LOVE helping people do just that!

If you have a big, scary dream that you are tired of waiting on, we would love to be the ones to give you that next BIG healthy shove into action!

Let's do this,
M:)
































 
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