Joan & Jeff // A York Harbor Inn Maine wedding

"It's never too late to live happily ever after"

Joan & Jeff have such a wonderfully quirky love story. In 2015, these two met at a gathering and were found "making out in the kitchen like two teenagers." They found out that they both drove the same exact Town & Country minivan, both had dogs named Zoey, both had sisters named Anne, and were blind in their right eye. Well, these Californians took a trip to Maine, and Jeff proposed to Joan at the York Harbor Inn and sealed the deal! Their bubbly personalities are meant to be, always laughing, dancing, kissing, and caring for everyone around them. They celebrated alongside their family, friends and a whole bunch of starfish. Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Connell for getting #yorkedinmaine !

Thank you to all the incredible vendors!

Hair & makeup: Euphoria Hair Salon and Spa - York, Maine
Nails: Cindy’s - York, Maine
Invitations: Elegant Lace - San Jose, CA
Suit Rentals: MadTuxx - Portsmouth, NH
DJ: Fred Pappalardo
Flowers: Flower Kiosk - Portsmouth, NH
Venue & Catering: York Harbor Inn
Cake: Beach Pea Baking Company - Kittery, Maine
Trolley: York Trolley Company, LLC - York, Maine

Natalie & Alex // A summer, oceanside Kernwood Country Club wedding

It all started in English class, freshman year of high school... Natalie & Alex are that special kind of couple that are destined to be together. After dating through high school, weathering long distance through college, graduating together at Salem State, and moving in together 10 years ago, these two have been at each other's sides practically forever. After proposing on a beach with his Great Aunt's ring (to Natalie's response of "Holy shit!"), they started planning their dream wedding in their beloved town of Salem. Through storms and sunny days, dozens of half priced burger nights, road trips to Maine, star gazing, and one very spoiled cat later... we have a 17 year love story: and finally presenting, the new Mr. & Mrs. Poverchuk! Congratulations you two, #itsaboutchukingtime!

Thank you to all the amazing vendors!

Hair: Katelyn Votto
Makeup: Jocelyn Witkus
Invitation: Watercolors painted by Lisa Harris, designed by bride Natalie,  printed at The Scarlet Letter Press & Gallery
Dress: Chantilly Place / Casablanca Bridal
Tuxes: Russo's Tux Shop
Catering: Kernwood Country Club
DJ/Uplighting/Photobooth: DMD3 Entertainment
Flowers: Salvy The Florist
Cake: The Rustic Baking Company
Videographer: Chris Thomas Creative

Alia & Austin // A Boston Museum of Science Wedding

"Come let me love you, let me give my life to you."

Alia and Austin descended down the escalator to the lower level of the Blue Wing, stealing a kiss while their guests cheered them on. This was their first entrance as husband and wife. They took to the dance floor, as their bridal party looked on with joy in their eyes. Alia’s grandfather nervously picked up the microphone. He looked over to his daughter, Alia’s mother, for reassurance. She reached over and pulled a guitar from the case by her feet. Alia’s mother began to strum, as Alia’s grandfather began to sing: “You fill up my senses, like a night in a forest, like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain…”

Alia and Austin interlocked their fingers, pulling each other close. They slowly swayed, as their family serenaded them to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song.” The room was silent, listening to the duo, with the exception of a few sniffles here and there. As the song ended, her grandfather gave her two thumbs up, as she ran over to give him the biggest hug. “You did great Papa - you did great.”

 

 

Alia and Austin managed to incorporate dinosaurs in every part of their day, whether it was walking down the aisle to the Jurassic Park theme song, to literally strutting around in dinosaur heels all day. Oh, and who can forget their kissing dino cake topper, or more importantly: the dinosaurs that beat extinction and joined the party? They poured themselves into each detail of the day, and enjoyed every last minute of it (and every last bite of their chocolate peanut butter cake).

To road trips, to ups and downs, to love, to snuggles, to MARRIAGE. 

Thank you to all the amazing vendors!

Second shooting: Anthony Fusco
Venue & Catering: Museum of Science
Hair & Makeup: Shamona S, Tiffany C, and Jessica N from Be Glammed
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Cake: Sweet Tooth
Flowers: CeBola Design
Shoes: ZombiePeepshow / Etsy
Band: Con Fuoco String Quartet
Acapella group: Vinyl Street
DJ: Aux Boston
Lighting: Design Lighting

Looking for more weddings?

Check out the latest and greatest HERE!

For more info on becoming an LM bride, head on over here!

Somaly & Samnang // A Cambodian Stevens Estate wedding

On a hot, sunny June day, Somaly & Samnang (lovingly known as Maly & Nang) celebrated their first ever moments as husband and wife. As she recalled the first time they met during the ceremony, Maly began to cry. The pair has known each other for over 15 years, shared Long Island iced teas in clubs all over the world, got engaged on a beach in Bali, had a beautiful daughter Abzelle (quote from the bride: "She's the best thing ever"), and are so excited to spend the rest of their lives together.

They mixed American and Cambodian traditions, having a single-day wedding at a nontraditional venue, The Stevens Estate in Andover, MA. They had an American ceremony, then Somaly changed into a traditional Khmer bridal dress to collect envelopes full of money from their guests. From their doughnut bar, to the guests' talents in breakdancing and c-walking, to the hundreds of family members traveling from near and far to celebrate, last night was a night they will never forget!

Maly & Nang - your wedding was such an incredible experience full of SO many laughs and even more love. Abby is the luckiest girl to have you both as her parents - congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Kong! You're the bomb.com!

Thank you to all the amazing vendors!!!

Officiant: Johnson Jones
DJ: DJ Phat
Florist: Consider It Done
Planner: Lian of Mikadow Weddings
Cake: Reesie's Cakes
Catering: China Pearl
Makeup: Solis Makeup
Hair: Paula Somangka
Invitations: Zazzle, designed by Blush Paper Co.
Dress: Inbal Dror
Bridesmaid dresses: Soieblu
Groomswear: ASOS / H&M

Lena's Wedding Day Survival Kit // What's In My Bag

ROCK YOUR BIG SHOOT!

 
 

It took me seven years to write a
“What’s In My Bag” post…

But as I sat down to write it, I realized there’s a whole lot more that powers me through a wedding day than camera gear.
I crafted this list to showcase all my favorite things to help me rock a wedding day, from shoes, to hand cream, to my go-to lens.

 
 

Canon 5D Mark IV

My main body is the 5D Mark IV - with wifi, a touch screen, and unparalleled low-light noise handling, this camera purchase was way overdue. I can send a photo to my phone during dinner, edit it on my phone in VSCO and Lightroom Mobile, and post it before the wedding is over! Hello extreme sneak peek!

Canon BG-E20 Battery Grip

I have never owned a camera without a battery grip. It may make your camera a bit bigger, but it holds two batteries (which often gets me through an ENTIRE wedding day without ever even changing them). The biggest reason I use it? SIDE BUTTONS! I can shoot vertical (which I do for 7/10 photos I take) without straining my elbow to the sky. The shutter, along with focus point buttons are on the side of the grip, making your camera right-side-up regardless of vertical or horizontal shooting.

Canon 5D Mark III

My backup camera is the 5D Mark III. This was my main body for over 3 years and 230,000 shutter clicks - and still looks brand new. 

Canon 50mm f/1.2

My one true love. I could (and have) shot an entire wedding with just the 50. This incredible piece of L glass performs miles better than the 1.4 - it’s sharp, with unparalleled bokeh, great with low light, and minimal lens distortion (which you correct in Lightroom anyway). If I were to use one lens for the rest of my entire life, this would be it.

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8

Ok, sometimes we need to go wide. The 24-70mm is my favorite for the reception, because I can hold it above my head on the dance floor and shoot, shoot, shoot! Getting pullbacks of the bride getting ready, fun dance shots, and full venue shots are key with this lens.

Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB CF Card

The fastest out there. Tried and true, I have 7 of these and buy fresh ones every year.

Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB SD Card

My camera has dual card slots for CF and SD. When you shoot with both, your camera will read and write at the slowest speed (always the SD), so make sure you get a fast SD card or your camera will have a hard time writing the files while you’re on burst during the first kiss.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II

Simple, effective, and can even flash on BURST - which is why this makes this my favorite flash. The built in diffuser is so handy, and the commands are simple. It's not a battery guzzler, I go through one set of batteries on 1/4 power for a full wedding day and use fresh ones for the next shoot.

Locho Satchel Camera Bag

I love this bag! I have purchased from the Cheeky Lime family before and had that bag for 3 years (before passing it down in the family to my second shooter). This bag doubles as a messenger bag, shoulder bag, AND backpack. I love wearing two straps, but needed to find a “backpack” formal enough for weddings. This bag is large, has a nice amount of zipped pockets, and the leather is gorgeous. 

Locho Camera Strap

Still keeping it in the family, I couldn’t pass up a $9.99 camera strap from Locho as well. It’s so comfy and more padded than the original Canon strap. 

AmazonBasics AA Batteries

48 batteries for $11… *adds to cart*

They’re packaged in sets of 4, so it’s super easy to throw in 2 sealed mini packs for my flash for a wedding. I will never buy batteries at the store again!

Macro Filters

Did you miss my love letter to the $9 macro filters? Instead of spending $800 on a macro lens for a handful of ring shots, get these - $7.99 for 4 macro filters, and you can stack them, too. These ones fit the 50mm 1.2, but you can search any mm lens thread!

Zazzle Business Cards

I've printed with Moo and Vistaprint, but my favorite is Zazzle. These extra thick, glossy business cards are sophisticated and simple. You can upload your own designs or customize pre-existing designs (and boy are they snazzy). Zazzle is constantly running sales - wait until you can get 40-50% off packs of 100, so you'll pay around $15 for them!

Kate Spade Business Card Holder

For so long, I didn't keep cards on me because of how dirty they would get in my purse. Then, I'd have an embarrassing exchange where I would write my info on the back of a receipt. I got this as a gift and I can't stop showing it off! Card problem solved!

Safety & Bobby Pins

Take a trip to the dollar store and grab some packs of safety pins and bobby pins to keep in your bag - you never know when they'll come in handy.

Command Hook

Just in case there isn't a convenient place to hang and photograph the dress, bring a command hook with you. They hold up to 5 pounds and you can stick them anywhere for perfect hanging.

Bride Hanger

I keep this wooden custom bride hanger from Etsy in my car in case the dress is on a plastic generic hanger - mine says "Bride" on dark wood with a white bow.

AmazonBasics iPhone 5/6/7 Cable

6 feet cables smoke the 3 footers. I’ve had two for over a year and they still work perfectly.

Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm

For the creamiest lip balm out there made with honey, a hint of mint, almond oil, shea butter, and white chocolate. 

Lush Charity Pot Hand Lotion

I keep a mini 1.7oz container of this in my purse at all times - it’s self preserving, which means there are a lot of cocoa butter, olive oil, jojoba oil, aloe, and more. Plus, 100% of the price goes to small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.

Lush Dirty Solid Perfume

Just in case it’s a really hot wedding day… I keep solid perfume, which is the exact same size as my lip balm tin, in my purse to rub on my wrists or neck in case I need to refresh.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade

For eyebrows that don’t melt on a wedding day or get smudged pushing your camera up against your face all day… this stuff changed my life. A container lasts me about 5-6 months! Smudge free, waterproof, LIFE. SAVER.

Tom's Natural Moroccan Crochet

For breathable, comfy shoes on a summer day, definitely wear Toms. I can’t wear heels while working a wedding, so I spend the past two years wearing these - they’re simple and cute, however they do not provide arch support.


 
Photo by Mei Lin Barral
 

These are the tools that help me rock a wedding day!

Do you have any products or rituals you swear by to have the best wedding day?

Share in the comments!

XO, Lena

Chrissy & Nick // A whimsical, oceanside Lighthouse Point Carousel wedding

Chrissy & Nick: lovers of Italian food, curling up on the couch to watch anything from scary movies to cooking shows, camping, and most of all, each other. They met while living in Boston, and we even took their engagement photos on the beach their apartment overlooked. After almost 5 years, Nick popped the question at a Christmas party, and the rest was history.

On one of the hottest Connecticut days in May, Chrissy & Nick tied the knot in front of their family & friends at Lighthouse Point in East Haven. Wearing her great grandma Clara’s bracelet and her grandmother Violet's necklace, Chrissy walked barefoot in the sand down the aisle before her uncle gave her away. Guests rode the magical carousel, danced to the setting sun, ate wood fired pizza from a pizza truck, and danced the night away. Their carnival celebration wouldn’t be complete without some late night cotton candy and favor bags filled with rock candy and salt water taffy.

Chrissy & Nick, you both are so special to me - I wish you decades of happiness, silliness, laughter, and love.

Thank you so much to all the amazing vendors!

Photography assistant: Mei Lin Barral
Hair & Makeup: Pin It Up and Pout
Dress: Christian Michele
Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie
Invitations: Ann's Bridal Bargains
Bouquet: Bridesmaid Kristen Mendelson
Catering: Small Kitchen Big Taste
Pizza Truck: The Big Green Pizza Truck
DJ: Nate Moore & Joe Mucci
Photo Booth: B Entertained DJ’s and More
Bartending: Two Pour Guys
Rentals, Cotton Candy, & Cake: MitchCo. Tent & Party Rentals

The Best Restaurants in Boston (according to Lena Mirisola)

The Best Restaurants in Boston (according to Lena Mirisola)

Looking for the best local, hidden gems to eat at all over Boston? Check out these 20 delicious Boston restaurants for your next meal!

Lynn & Jeremy // A springtime Cambridge City Hall elopement

On a beautiful, breezy day on the Fourth of May, Lynn & Jeremy tied the knot in their hometown of Cambridge, MA at City Hall. Both families gathered together, watching as the couple took their vows of marriage. We hopped in the limo and went straight to the MIT Boat House, complete with sweeping skyline views on Boston. Of course, no Boston elopement is complete, though, without photos at the Public Garden. With her flowers (from Whole Foods!) matching the cherry blossoms and her scarf, Lynn looked absolutely radiant! 

Spring Wedding Blog Features

Here is the spring roundup of wedding blog features! Thank you to all the amazing editors and all the vendors that made these kickass wedding days happen :)

Katie & Roger on Borrowed & Blue

Lena_Mirisola_Baubles_Bowties.jpg

The Knot Summer 2017 National Feature

FedEx came with a very joyful surprise last week... the Summer 2017 edition of The Knot national print magazine! I ripped open the package and started flipping my way through the enormous magazine to find any image of mine - I never know what is going to be published! All of a sudden, gracing a FULL PAGE was Stephanie & John!!!! Cue the screaming. It's such an honor to be included in The Knot next to so many incredible wedding professionals! <3 Fingers crossed for more in the future.

 

Only a few more months until their wedding day!

XOXO

Did you catch my work in the Spring 2017 issue of The Knot?

See it HERE!

 

The Boston + Beyond Guide to Bubble Tea

So, my life revolves around a few things:

1) Photography 

2) Family and friends

3) Where I can get tea

I am extraordinarily addicted to bubble tea.

Some people have Starbucks budgets, I have a tea budget.

If you don't know what bubble tea is,

it's time to get with the program!

What is bubble tea?

Bubble tea is a cold drink with a milk or fruit tea base with tapioca pearls / boba at the bottom. It is mixed either by hand with a cocktail shaker or put into an automated machine, and sealed on top. You drink it through an extra-wide straw, and chew on the deliciously soft boba. Variations include hot bubble tea, smoothies / slushies, and the rare alcoholic bubble tea.

What are toppings?

Toppings are the fun things you can put in your drink: boba / tapioca / pearls (all the same thing), jelly (coconut, lychee, mango, nata), popping boba, grass jelly, etc. Some tea houses include one topping in their prices, others charge ~$0.50 per topping.

Where is it from?

It was created in Taiwan in 1988 and became popular in Southeast Asia in the 90’s. It hopped over to the United States in the 2000’s, and has exploded since 2010.

How much is it?

Expect to pay $3.50 - $6.50 for a drink with toppings.

Where can I find it?

Some Asian restaurants serve bubble tea, but often the boba can be undercooked and tea flavors weird - stick to the professionals and visit a tea house where they only serve bubble tea.

How do I order it?

State your size (usually two sizes, regular or large) - iced/hot - flavor - with/without boba and toppings, and they usually ask for sugar and ice preference - just say normal ice and sugar, or if you don't have a big sweet tooth, you can ask for 50 or 75% sugar, same with ice. "Hi! May I have a large honeydew milk tea with boba please? Normal ice and sugar." - what the Tea Do staff hears three times a week

Boba 101

  • It takes about an hour for boba to finish cooking - so if a tea house opens at 11am, boba will most likely not be available until around 12pm.
  • Boba + jelly is always a great combo for fruit teas and smoothies, but stick to only boba in milk teas.
  • Many tea houses have custom plastic bags to fit your bubble tea perfectly so your hand doesn’t get cold!
  • Bubble tea is totally sealed at the top, so you can put it in your bag, hold it upside own, etc without leaks. However, I recommend standing it upright and making sure nothing can squeeze it, or it WILL explode (lesson learned: tea does not belong in the empty laptop compartment of a backpack).

Enjoy your new tea addiction!!!

Now that you know what bubble tea is, it's time to name the best tea houses in Boston and beyond.


THE HALL OF FAME

Tea Do

Locally owned and operated with 3 stores in Boston, Philly, and Maryland. The softest, chewiest boba and the largest variety of flavors. Come here in the afternoon after they switch from smaller boba to their signature larger boba. They’re the least expensive chain in Boston, even with a recent $0.50 price increase across the board. Expect to pay $4-5.50 for a drink. They have a custom drink menu full of amazing flavor mixes as well, so don’t be afraid to try something new. They also serve takoyaki, onigiri, and other snacks and have Jenga, Connect Four, and Uno cards to play with friends.

Favorites: Honeydew milk tea, coconut milk tea, lychee black tea w/ lychee jelly & boba, Zen's Awakening

Chatime

Massive chain - 1,000 stores worldwide. In Boston, you can find two in Chinatown, one on Huntington Ave by Northeastern, and one in Allston off Harvard Ave. They have fresh, chewy boba, a little smaller than Tea Do's. They have a solid menu of smoothies, milk teas, and fruit teas. Expect to pay $4-6.50 for a drink. They have a loyalty program via LevelUp, and often offer discount vouchers on Groupon.

Favorites: Lychee black tea w/ boba & lychee jelly, oolong latte, Thai milk tea, mango coconut smoothie

Kung Fu Tea

Huge international chain. Their boba is soaked in honey, so it has the most flavor out of these teahouses. However, it usually lasts the least amount of time in the fridge before drinking - max 2 hours (Tea Do is good for 4-6+ hours, Chatime 3-5 hours). They have a great rewards program on their mobile app. Visit them in Boston at Symphony, Chinatown, Allston, or in Cambridge or Malden.

Favorites: Kung Fu milk tea, mango green tea w/ boba & nata jelly, wintermelon milk green tea, peach oolong tea w/ boba & nata jelly

 
 

Vivi

When in NYC, don't forget the tea. Vivi boasts a unique experience in their stores, with bubblegum pink walls and princess skulls painted everywhere. Usually paired with a frozen yogurt station, Vivi offers solid drinks in over a dozen locations, joining Chatime and Kung Fu Tea in NYC, Brooklyn, and Chicago (NO Boston location, just Quincy). They have dairy-free “Moo Milk”, so that’s a plus to any vegans or lactose intolerants.

Favorites: Honeydew milk tea, taro milk tea

Looking for more NYC spots?

Try Ten Ren Tea and Boba Guys

Mr. Boba

If you're ever on the West Coast, don't forget to stop into Mr. Boba. With dance music bumpin' and every board game you could ever want on the tables, Mr. Boba's tea is even better than the atmosphere. These chewy, oversized balls and great flavor combos are sure to have you staying for hours.

Looking for more LA spots?

Try Boba 7 (alcoholic tea!) and Sharetea


Questions? Comments? Need an enthusiastic spokesperson or photography for your tea house? - lena@lenamirisolaphoto.com

Emma & Greg // An intimate, spring oceanside wedding in New England

Emma & Greg's oceanside wedding in South Dartmouth was one of the most unique days I've ever had the honor of photographing. On this misty, rainy day, Emma got ready in the colorful church daycare with her mother, father, and brother by her side. She slipped on her stunning BHLDN dress and glittery pair of Bagdley Mischka's before heading downstairs to the ceremony. Greg's family joined Emma's family in the pews, and in front of all eleven guests, they shared their vows and made their marriage official. 

A few raindrops came down as Emma & Greg walked down the dock to the waterfront. They kissed, hugged, and laughed before heading to dinner with their families. They're traveling to Korea in May for a traditional ceremony overseas. Wishing this sweet couple all the love and happiness in their marriage <3

Thank you to all the amazing vendors!

Hair & makeup: Yin Tom Studio
Dress: BHLDN
Shoes: Bagdley Mischka
Flowers: Groom's mother

Why Honesty Is Your Best Sales Strategy

 
 

Clients want - and NEED - to trust their vendors. Nothing can turn a relationship sour like one party feeling like they've been taken advantage of.

This is why my personal sales strategy is honesty. When I meet with prospective clients, I aim to be totally transparent and treat them like PEOPLE, not dollar signs - because if you value dollar signs more than you adore your couples, then the wedding industry is probably not the best fit for you.

Listen to your clients' needs, and craft your services around them.

 

Couple A's timeline is teetering between cutting 30 min off dancing and upgrading their package to the tune of $500, I will always suggest trimming the time a bit. If I stay an extra few minutes, that's fine! But if I know in my heart my clients really don't NEED to purchase extra time, I'm not going to suggest it.

Couple B is paying for the wedding themselves, and really liked that I include a print release and album company recommendations in all my packages, because they didn't budget for a professional album. Am I missing out on an album sale? Sure, but I'd much rather my clients be secure with their decision then stressing out because they blew their budget on something I pushed.

Couple C is having a small wedding and getting ready in the same hotel - they definitely do NOT need a second shooter, and I'll be the first one to tell them that!

Don't get me wrong, I'm over the moon when someone orders an a la carte album or an additional hour. Still, you never want a client to doubt your integrity or advice for any reason. Just go back to the golden rule - treat others as you want to be treated!

 
 

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5 Biggest Website Mistakes and How To FIX THEM!

Are you guilty of any of these website mistakes? Here's how to fix those problems TODAY!

1) Have your contact info instantly accessible

Everyone has a contact page. BUT, you need to have your email address, phone number, and social links on your HOMEPAGE or even better, the FOOTER of your entire website so that someone can connect with you and your social channels in less than 5 seconds.

If your contact form has mandatory wedding questions on it, be sure to separately list your email address. Nothing is more irritating then trying to send an album of wedding photos to a florist, and I can't contact them without inputting my "wedding date" and "venue". Don't ignore the other people trying to contact you - press, fans, photographers, and people trying to do you favors or give you MONEY!

2) Write an about page that makes you proud

If you could substitute your name on your about page and the copy could apply to someone else, you're missing something HUGE. Speak in the first person, not third, and make sure to include minimum THREE unique facts about yourself. This could be your story, favorite things, family, etc. Make sure that a client could tell someone three unique things about you and your personality before ever meeting you.

3) Give your clients a clue about pricing

Imagine you're shopping for a new couch. You're looking online and found an AMAZING, adorable sofa. But the price isn't listed ANYWHERE... on any of the products! Not even a ballpark. However, there's another great sofa online that DOES... buying that couch is much easier than sending the company an email and waiting for an answer, just to find out it may be out of your budget in the first place. Frustrating, right!? Lesson: ALWAYS INCLUDE A PRICE POINT. I'm not a fan of listing your complete collections, but you should want to make your prospective clients' lives easier by including a section on what to expect when it comes to pricing. This can be phrased as "Most couples invest $X for their wedding day" or "Portrait collections start at $X" In turn, you're saving time answering emails to people who's budgets are way off from your prices in the first place. Win win!

4) Go mobile, ditch the Flash player

If your website is Flash based or not mobile optimized, remedy that immediately. The numbers don't lie - when I look at my analytics, 50% or more visits to my website are on mobile. If your website is looking less-than-perfect on tablets and phones, you're missing out on impressing clients! Switch to a website platform with integrated optimization, like Squarespace or Showit.

5) Fix slow load time

Let's admit it, we really do have short attention spans. Artists have very image-heavy sites, which slow down load time. Remember to always downsize images before uploading them. Check your site's load time on free websites like GT Metrix or Pingdom - and they'll even give you suggestions on how to improve!

Let's banish the bad website - and set yourself up for success!

 
 

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The Photographer's Spring Cleaning Checklist

 
 

Happy Spring everyone!

You clean your home in the spring, throw out items you don't use, and organize the things you love - why not treat your business the same? Here is a spring cleaning checklist you can use to energize your business before busy season hits!

Physical

  • Order new album samples
  • Update your business cards
  • Stock up on stickers, ribbon, boxes, mailers, tape, batteries, misc supplies so you’re not making runs to Target during busy season
  • Send camera gear in for yearly cleaning and maintenance
  • Buy new memory cards and chuck the oldest ones
  • Make sure your bag and straps are working well, if not purchase better ones

Facebook

  • Update cover photo + profile photo
  • Update about and contact info
  • Schedule posts every other day, if not daily

Instagram

  • Update bio + profile photo
  • Save time and plan out your grid - I plan using Later.com 

Website

  • Update all portfolios and DELETE any portfolio photo or blog post that isn’t vital to your brand
  • Update copy on your bio, contact info, links, etc
  • Add new testimonials
  • Blog at least once a week to keep traffic steady
  • Revisit SEO keywords
  • Hyperlink all phone numbers + email addresses on footers, contact page, etc

Email

  • Create a new email signature
  • Get than inbox to ZERO and vow to reply to all client emails within 24 hours

Misc

  • Make sure your copy and branding is up to date on any sites like WeddingWire, The Knot, Google+, etc.
  • Send thank you notes and surprise gifts to vendors if you didn't over the holidays
  • Schedule some coffee dates with photographers and vendors in your area
 

HAPPY CLEANING!

 

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3 (More!) Things That Make My Life Easier

Hey everyone! It's been a year since I last shared some must-have assets I use every day for my business. I've been introduced to new products, and after months of using all of these, I wanted to share with you! So - 3 more things that give me precious time of the day to spend doing more AWESOME things:

 
 

Later.com

Nessa Kessinger introduced me to this amazing Instagram post scheduler at a workshop in NYC this fall. 

You drag and drop on your calendar and preview your grid on the website or app. You can schedule the time and write the caption, and when it’s time to post, it pushes a notification, photo, and caption to your phone to post on Instagram. I never have to worry if a picture “fits” in the grid anymore. Once a week, I schedule all my Insta posts and I save tons of time and headspace!

Price: 30 posts/month FREE - and if you sign up with my referral link, we both get an extra 10 posts free per month!

MileIQ

Amy & Jordan turned me on to the ingenious Tinder of mileage trackers. You download the app, and it automatically senses and logs all your drives. Like a fairy godmother in the background. Every few days, I’ll open the app and swipe LEFT for business or RIGHT for personal! You can export monthly reports and even annotate the drives. Every penny counts when you can deduct $0.56/mile on your taxes.

Price: 40 drives/month FREE or unlimited $59.99/year, but get 20% off if you sign up with this link!

StudioNinja

You know it’s time to get client management software when you have a sinking feeling that you’re forgetting something. Keeping track of email leads, who needs to set up a meeting, who you need to follow up with, if you’ve sent that booking gift yet, who has paid their retainer, who hasn’t signed their contract yet, which questionnaires go with which couple… IT’S MIND BOGGLING! Luckily, there are CRM systems for that!

I tried out a whole bunch of programs. Honeybook, Tave, ShootQ, 17hats… the list goes on. They were great, but none of them did exactly what I needed. I tried StudioNinja and loved it! Everything from the moment an email lead comes in, to quotes, invoices, contracts, questionnaires, online payment, scheduling, income statements, and workflow management. Hallelujah!

Price: 30 day free trial, $215/year but 50% off your first year!

Want to find out 7 more INCREDIBLE assets I use for my business? See Part I HERE!

 
 

Note: I'm not sponsored by any of these companies, I'm just a coupon queen and love PASSING ON referral discounts!

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7 Ways To Energize Your Creative Business In the Off-Season

Winter blues got you down? Are you BORED out of your skull, cursing the snow under your breath every morning? Sounds like off-season syndrome! Turn off Netflix and get excited for your upcoming season! It's gonna be a great one! Here are SEVEN ways to energize your business in the winter... leading to a SMOOTHER season and a HAPPIER you!

 
Shot in January in 30 degree weather!

Shot in January in 30 degree weather!

 

1) House Cleaning Checklist

Physical

  • Order new album samples
  • Update your business cards
  • Stock up on stickers, ribbon, boxes, mailers, tape, batteries, misc supplies so you’re not making runs to Target during busy season
  • Send camera gear in for yearly cleaning and maintenance
  • Buy new memory cards and chuck the oldest ones
  • Make sure your bag and straps are working well, if not purchase better ones

Facebook

  • Update cover photo + profile photo
  • Update about and contact info
  • Schedule posts every other day, if not daily

Instagram

  • Update bio + profile photo
  • Save time and plan out your grid - I plan using Later.com 

Website

  • Update all portfolios and DELETE anything that isn’t vital to your brand
  • Update the copy on your bio, contact info, links, etc
  • Add new testimonials
  • Blog at least once a week to keep traffic steady
  • Revisit SEO keywords
  • Hyperlink all phone numbers + email addresses on footers, contact page, etc

Email

  • Create a new email signature
  • Get than inbox to ZERO and vow to reply to all client emails within 24 hours

Misc

  • Make sure your copy and branding is up to date on any sites like WeddingWire, The Knot, Google+, etc.
  • Send thank you notes and gifts to vendors if you didn't over the holidays
  • Schedule some coffee dates with photographers and vendors in your area

2) Submit to wedding blogs 

I use TwoBrightLights to submit to wedding publications in the winter. If you’re not familiar with TwoBrightLights, it’s magical - you upload ~100 photos to a wedding album, choose colors / themes / keywords, tag the vendors, then hit SEND to submit to a publication. Not a fit? No worries! Just press “resubmit” on that album to send it to a different publication. No more time wasted submitting all the information over and over again, resizing images, etc!

I take ~45 minutes to gather 100 photos from the day, input the vendor data on the TBL album, and research publications that would be a good fit for that wedding. By doing this, I’m marketing my work across 2-15 magazines and blogs AND building a reputation and a stronger press section on my website. 

3) Review years expenses & make changes

It’s tax season anyway, so reviewing my profit and loss statements is key. I update spreadsheets with my final cost tallies for the year and analyze the data. Wow, I spent $594 on postage? How can I cut that cost by at last 10% by using different shipping materials? Looks like I was a little short on my projected portrait session income, why was that the case and how do I market my portraits as much as my weddings? Where did I overspend, and how can I cut costs? This is a great year to re-calculate your expenses, as running a business gets more expensive every year. From here, work to lower your operating expenses and raise your prices as needed.

4) Plan your goals

Tell me what you want, what you really really want... SORRY, that song seemed very appropriate to sing while making a goals list. Take a few minutes to write down your goal list for the year. Look at last year’s list, and see how many you accomplished. Why didn’t some happen? Were they based more off luck / the actions of others, or did you fall short in some area? If you’re achieving more than 80% of your goals, you need bigger ones!

5) Dig for inspiration

Stop digging snow and start digging for inspiration. I use this time to become better at shooting indoors with natural and studio lighting. I let the artistic side of my mind wander a bit more, and plan out either indoor winter shoots or outdoor spring shoots as the weather improves. Take a look at your portfolio and try to see what’s missing, and fill the gap.

6) Get schooled

I’m reading educational blogs all year round, but winter is a great time to make some cocoa and start taking notes on educational blog posts (like this one!). Sign up for webinars (there are many free ones!) and look at workshops for the upcoming year. Some of my current favorite educational blogs and email lists are Ashlyn Writes, Shanna Skidmore, Cat Coquilette, Psychology for Photographers, and Ben Sasso.

7) Make some passive $$!

Have great shots from your last road trip? Flowers in the garden? Outtakes from your last ocean session? Might as well capitalize! Set up a print shop on your own website, or if you want life to be even EASIER, just create a Society6 site! It's FREE! Take 1 hour to gather images, create an account, post your products (you simply upload the photo, tag it, then click all the products you want to sell from that image!) and make some passive income. If you’re into making your own presets, throw them up for sale!

Do you have more ideas to bring some life into your business in the dark winter months? Comment below!

 
Yes... also shot in 28 degree winter weather! JUST GET OUT THERE! Follow your heart!

Yes... also shot in 28 degree winter weather! JUST GET OUT THERE! Follow your heart!

 

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How I broke into the commercial world

Happy February friends!

This post has been on the tip of my tongue for months now - and I'm so happy to share it with you! One of my most frequently asked questions is,

"How did you get into shooting commercial work?"

One of my first favorite stock images - and the face of SheStock for a while!

One of my first favorite stock images - and the face of SheStock for a while!

When I first started taking pictures, I was always photographing my friends and the crazy things 15 year olds could get themselves into. Even after I started my wedding & portrait business, I continued to shoot people, especially teenage girls and young women, for the sake of fun and fashion. Before interning with the incredible Barb Peacock, she sat me down in her perfectly Pinterest office, with vanilla candles glowing, Bon Iver humming softly in the background, and a hot cup of tea, she said, “Lena - you should be shooting stock.”

Behind the scenes on a car wash stock shoot (in Barb's driveway!) - Props to anyone that recognizes my second shooter on top of the car, Jenny!

Behind the scenes on a car wash stock shoot (in Barb's driveway!) - Props to anyone that recognizes my second shooter on top of the car, Jenny!

What is stock photography?

Everyone recognizes those cheesy photos of businessmen shaking hands across a desk and pretty women laughing while eating salad. Yup, that’s stock! Stock photos are images ready to be licensed by companies for commercial or editorial use. Example: Bank of America needs a photo of an Asian couple with two kids hanging out in their modern living room, they log onto Getty.com, search and find an image, and it’s printed on their brochures next month.

In the commercial world, the models and even the home or location needs permission to be sold (they signed a model or property release saying it’s A-OK). Old school stock photos have a pretty bad reputation, but there’s an amazing new wave of stock that’s high quality, lifestyle-driven imagery that kicks ass! You wouldn’t know that 80% of my portfolio on my website is all available to license for stock, would you? Go check out the work of the photographers at ImageSource and SheStock, the work is inspiring!

Behind the scenes of one of my biggest stock shoots! What a production!

Behind the scenes of one of my biggest stock shoots! What a production!

And, stock relates how?

I signed with SheStock shortly after I turned 18, followed by Getty Images that summer, and ImageSource the following winter. I shot my ASS off from the end of high school onwards, submitting hundreds of images to these agencies for license. I was getting monthly statements telling me fragmented information about who was buying my photos - The New York Times, Hearst, Conde Nast, Microsoft, AOL - I was floored! Granted, most of those were selling for online use for $0.49 an image. And then my cut was 20% of that. But what a pretty penny it was (literally)!

Once my images began circulating around the internet in a more widespread way, luck took over, as it usually does. The snowball effect is VERY real. An editor at The Boston Globe saw an image of mine through Getty, then reached out to me to shoot the COVER of the April 2015 edition of Boston Globe Magazine. I screen all my calls, so I remember ignoring the unknown number at 10am on a Sunday, immediately listening to the voicemail, then FREAKING out!

My best friend and her boyfriend in a very embarrassingly titled Cosmo article (my first Cosmo feature though!)

My best friend and her boyfriend in a very embarrassingly titled Cosmo article (my first Cosmo feature though!)

Save! All! Your! Tear! Sheets!

Save! All! Your! Tear! Sheets!

I kept screenshots and tear sheets when I found my work floating around. I don’t see the end product of 99% of my sales, because that's just the way stock works. But stumbling upon a published photo feels like a surprise party and Christmas and rolled up in one! (See surprised CitiBank face below)

One night, I got a frantic text from my friend Cam (one of Barb Peacock's sons) - “Lena! I’m in a Citibank ad!?!” I had no idea what he was talking about. About a year before receiving this text, I traveled to Chicago for my first spring break and did some stock shooting out there as well (making it a business trip, hello write-offs, but that’s another blog post). We stayed with Cam's brother and his roommates. One of the roommates happened to bank with Citibank, and saw Cam larger than life on the wall one winter day. I flew to Chicago a few months later and took tons of selfies with it!

From Cosmopolitan articles to AT&T ads, I built up a commercial portfolio and used the experience and tear sheets to pitch to companies I wanted to shoot for (Successful examples of me reaching out to shoot: Urban Outfitters, Blaze Pizza, Free People).

Shooting at Fenway Park for the opening of Blaze Pizza

Shooting at Fenway Park for the opening of Blaze Pizza

I now regularly shoot commercial, editorial, and fashion work!

Shooting with Urban Outfitters Boston - we collaborate at least once a month!

Shooting with Urban Outfitters Boston - we collaborate at least once a month!

Pool party stock shoot! Sometimes you gotta just jump in.

Pool party stock shoot! Sometimes you gotta just jump in.

So that's the interesting trajectory of how I went from shooting weddings and babies to commercial and editorial fashion work!

More questions? Always down to chat!

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Cake & Lace Feature

Alexsis & Keith graced the blog over at Cake & Lace today! I loved how the color scheme went perfectly with their site ;) (Do your research when submitting to wedding blogs!) Check out their stunning sunrise Crane Beach engagement shoot here!

EquallyWed Feature

I almost died laughing when I saw Equally Wed's perfect tagline for Holly & Ange's wedding - CHEESE-FILLED!!! These beautiful ladies threw a very classy soiree in the heart of Boston at Central Bistro - yes, complete with robots, Chuck Taylors, and CHEESE! Check it out here!