What We Care About: A History of Lady Grey Photography

I first knew I wanted to take photos on a family trip to Las Vegas in elementary school. I remember taking a perfectly balanced photo of the Coke Museum, framing it in the shot with some other manmade structures. When we had the photo printed (yes...the days of film) I remember my mother telling me it was so perfect and looked just like a postcard.

Me (Kitty) Year 2014
Flash forward to middle school, when I saved up to buy my very first digital camera. It was a point-and-shoot Canon Powershot, the size of a couple decks of cards. I researched and research and picked that camera because it had the highest optical zoom I could find in my price range (around $180 as I recall...which was a lot for me back then) and the highest photo quality I could find. As I recall, it took a whopping 3.2 megapixel photo. It was amazing.

In high school I started taking a photography course in school. I learned on an SLR (a film SLR) and developed photos in a darkroom. It was one of the most amazing experiences I can think of from high school. Not only did I learn real photography technique, I learned about exposure and had the darkroom experience many photographers never get. I cannot be more grateful for Omaha Public Schools for offering such a fantastic opportunity to their students.

In college I saved up my sophomore year and bought my very first DSLR. It was about $350, and was about 3 years older than the current models, because that was what I could afford. As always, I stayed with Canon because I was sold on the brand. That was the moment I started being asked to take photos. Whether it was portraits, engagement photos for friends or even a bridal session... back then I (and my friends) believed the major factor in good photography was just having a nice camera. All my sessions were free at the time, but most friends gave me a gift card or starbucks drink at the end. I was so uncomfortable charging anything for taking photos for people.

I started a craigslist business on that premise as well. About a year in I realized I needed to get out of "auto" and learn what really made a good photographer. By then I was doing photography as a way to make a little money on the side while I was in law school. In law school, they discourage you from having a job....and yet I needed a way to make money. My first sessions were advertised at about $30 for a 2 hour session (see image below, this is really my post on Craigslist I used in 2011). You may be thinking that was such a terrible business practice, and clearly it wasn't sustainable, but you know what it got me?? Experience. Business experience, photography experience, working with clients, advertising, marketing and tax experience. To this day, I still do everything myself (with the help of my husband at times). From communicating with clients, building my own website, running my own social media, booking sessions, I still only have ever used free means of advertising (word of mouth and Craigslist...but I did stop Craigislit about 5 years ago), we do our own taxes. Even more so, I got hours behind the lens...and that is what I needed at the time. I couldn't have become proficient at everything required of a photographer without it.

In 2012 my husband and I got engaged and started talking about wedding plans. It was at that time we started looking at photographers. That is when I realized....I could not afford these photographers. I mean, some of the photographers were more than I even wanted to spend on a wedding. That was a big drive for why my husband and I eloped. Early 2013 we went to Europe for 3 weeks, paid an amazing photographer in Paris to have a 4 hour session with us, and returned for LESS than my favorite photographer in Omaha would have charged to capture our wedding.

Seriously. I spent 3 weeks in Europe and hired a photographer for amazing photos under the Eiffel Tower for less than 1 day with an Omaha wedding photographer.
Photo Credit: French Grey Photography

Now, a few years and a number of Canon cameras later (I'm loyal to Canon and they have never let me down) I no longer charge $30 for a session. As I recall, even my first wedding I charged something like $250 and the bride was in shock. One even told me "no, that's way too little, we are paying you more."  However, today we still make a point to capture photos for our clients that are great, and reasonably priced.

This is NOT a dig on more expensive photographers. There is A LOT behind the scenes you don't see from a photographer. If I counted up all my hours I spend running the business (communicating with clients, building the website, capturing photos, driving to sessions, editing photos) and combined it with all of the expense that goes into running a business (camera equipment, editing software, computers, props, gas, vehicle use, and paying taxes) I make about $9 an hour. If you are trying to live off being a photographer, you often need to charge much higher prices than I do because of that fact. However, I keep another full time job in addition to being a photographer, which allows me to keep my prices more reasonable.

So that is what it comes down to. I love what I do, and even if I could double my prices this year...I won't. I'd rather see the same family 3 times a year because they can afford to capture photos more than just on an annual basis. My husband and I have a passion for helping people get and stay out of debt (see our personal blog here for more on that), but we don't want clients to miss out capturing big life events or even little life events just because they can't afford a photographer. I do value my time, and do charge for my services, but I love my business.

It was around 2013 when I changed my business from "Kitty Vogt Photography" to "Lady Grey Photography." After getting married and changing my last name, I wanted to start something new. It was that time we found our little fur baby, Lady Grey, and decided to name the business after her.

Old Facebook Cover Photo for our business under its prior name

Over the years, we've come to focus on these items:

1. We want to capture the things you care about and the way you remember them, whether it is your dog, wedding, or 1 year old. That means we interact with our clients to make sure they are comfortable in front of the lens. We sing with little kids, laugh with awkward seniors, talk business with dads, and ask about the first few days of becoming a new mom. We also keep our editing natural in our photos, and don't go overboard with making a photo look unrealistically perfect.

Most recent photo of me, Kitty, your photographer
2. We want you to find an option you can afford. We offer a variety of session packages, and plan to always offer a session that is under $100 that you can be happy with. During off times of the year, we run specials and group sessions together to allow us to accommodate as many clients as possible.

3. We want to have fun with you. That means I am always struggling not to overbook myself. I pride myself on a fast turnaround for sessions (48 hours) because I never want to book so many sessions that I get bogged down and it isn't fun anymore. I have turned away clients advising them that our personalities don't quiet sync, and suggested they find a new photographer. If I can tell they aren't going to enjoy working with me, I don't want to put a client in that position.

Some of you reading this may laugh and remember when I used to charge $30 for sessions. That is my favorite part about what I do. I still have clients that have been with me since that first DSLR, and they keep coming back. I've seen their families grow, seen them get married and have kids...it has been an amazing journey.

Holiday Mini Sessions Details

We have 11 Christmas Mini sessions scheduled for November over 2 weekends, and we are looking forward to it! You all are concluding the end of our 2016 photography season, as I'm 8 months pregnant and will be taking a short break after this. We are now scheduling February 2017 onward, so keep that in mind if you're looking at sessions early this Spring! 


What: Holiday Mini Sessions. Each client has reserved a 20 minute session spot. 

When: November 12th and 19th (Saturdays) starting at 8:30 ending at 11:30

Location: We will be photographing at Memorial Park, near the Omaha Rose Society Rose Garden. The entrance is just off Underwood Avenue, West of 52nd street. There is a large circle drive that should allow plenty of parking. I'll plan to take my silver mini van, and will make a point to add a sign or something to the back of it in case you are worried you are in the wrong place. 
Here is a link to the location We picked this location because of the pine trees (see above) which are great for holiday themed sessions.

Arrival: If you arrive early, you're welcome to sit in your car or walk around. We will be photographing another session before you most likely. You're welcome to come find me so you're ready for your session, but please just note I'll be with another client at that time. I have a 10 minute buffer in between each session, but that is for everything from answering questions for the session that is ending to finding my next client, taking a water break etc. 

Photographs: Each of you will receive 10+ photos from your session. The photos will be edited and uploaded to dropbox with a link for you to download in high resolution. As always a print release is provided if needed when printing. Please note you need to download and save your photos within 30 days as the link may become inactive after that. 

Turnaround: We anticipate a 2-3 day turnaround for photos...plenty of time for your Christmas cards! 

Weather Issues: If rain is expected, we will make the determination that morning if we will need to reschedule sessions. There is not a backup indoor location, as that is part of the fun of these sessions...being outside! Rain is about the only weather related issue that would cause us to reschedule this time of year.  We expect you to be checking whatever electronic medium you initially contacted us at in order to get a hold of you for any issues (email or facebook). If you want us to text a cell number, please send that to us. 

Payment: You paid the $70 fee to book your slot, so no payment is required that day. 

Optional CD of All Photographs: Many of you know that I'm known for giving clients a CD of all photos taken at the session, in unedited format. For a session such as this, I would expect around 100-300 photos taken during  your session. Since this is a mini session special (discounted from normal mini session rates) we are discounting this option to $25 (normally $40). This discount applies if you purchase the CD prior to your session (at least 24 hours ahead so I can update my list). If you pay at the session or after, it will be the regular $40 cost for the CD. If you're not familiar with purchasing the unedited photo CD, the benefit is that you get to see every photo shot at your session. The photos are usable, but not perfected like the edited ones will be. You can purchase single edited photos for $10 per photo after buying the CD. If you are buying the CD, please send me a note first, then you can make payment via the website. As a reminder, part of my requirement for purchasing an unedited CD is that nothing unedited goes on social media :) 

Props: As always, feel free to bring whatever props you would like! You can bring pets too, but I ask if you do not want them in all photos to bring someone along to help out that is not in the photographs. We do bring some fun Holiday props, but you are in no way required to use holiday props in these sessions. 

Outfit suggestions: This time of year, it is especially important to incorporate as much color and pattern as you feel comfortable with! Other than that, I suggest checking out Pinterest for great family photo outfit ideas! 

*Please be on time, as you're all scheduled back to back! We will not be able to accommodate families that aren't on time, because it would eat into another client's session time. 

We're having a GIRL!

Kevin and I (you may recognize him as my second shooter for weddings) found out this week that we are having a GIRL! We took this as a perfect opportunity to use the studio at the new house for a little selfie gender announcement. 
We could not be more thrilled about this little bundle of joy that we will be receiving here in December! 

When Should My Photographer Show Up?

As you're approaching your wedding day...one of the most common questions I am asked is:
"When should I have you, the photographer, show up on the day of my wedding"

Great question, and like many answers when planning a wedding I say...it depends!

When I am asked this question, there is a lot more I need to find out about your day before I give you an answer. A few of those questions are: 

-When is your hair appointment?
-Do you want a photographer present when you are getting ready? Such as during your hair or makeup appointment?
-Will photos with family and wedding party be before or after the ceremony?
-What time is your reception?
-What time is your ceremony?
-How large is your family and how many combinations of family photos are you looking for?
-Are we changing locations for ceremony and family/bridal party photos? How far away are the locations?
-Will your bridal party and family be on time? (if not, make sure to tell them to arrive much earlier than the actual time for photos)
-Will you be having a second photographer? If we have a second photographer we can split up and do double-duty photographing at the same time. 

In general, I ask couples to plan on between 1.5-4 hours for staged photos. That includes photos of the bride and groom, wedding party, and all family photos.

Yes, that is a HUGE range, but each couple is different. If we are going to one or two other locations, we need to think of travel time (and if you're not all on a bus, time for anyone not from the area to get lost when trying to find the spot!). If we are setting up all photos inside a church, there will be less time needed for photos simply due to there being no travel time. If you want photos to be relaxed and not rushed then plan for more time rather than less. 

Typically you will want to have between 30 minutes to an hour of down time prior to the ceremony to leave the immediate ceremony space (so that when guests are arriving you are not seen by your guests) and do any last minute hair/makeup fixes as well as grab a snack, drink water, etc. 

What I advise is to start at the time of your ceremony and work backwards: 

5:00 p.m Ceremony
4:15 p.m Finish Photos and take a break
3:40 p.m Family Photos at the Ceremony Site
2:50 p.m Bridal Party Photos
2:15 p.m Photos of the Bride/Groom
2:00 p.m First Look 
1:15 p.m Finishing touches- bride puts on dress, jewelry, etc. then move to first look location
12:30 Wedding Party starts dressing, men put on boutineers
8:00 a.m/10:00 a.m Hair/Makeup (this timing will depend on your hair stylist)

This is a typical schedule, but many weddings vary from 1-2 hours from this schedule. This would be an example of a smaller family, with less combinations of extended family photographs, as well as all photos at/near ceremony location. 

If you're not wanting photos of getting ready, then I would not start til say 1:30/1:45 when the bride is already dressed and ready to go! 

Now for the end time! 
Let's say your ceremony starts at 5:00 (as shown in the example above) 

5:00 Ceremony 
5:30 Ceremony ends
5:30-6:15 Receiving line/Guests dismissed and bubble/streamer exit with bride
6:30-7:00 Cocktails (party bus for wedding party)
7:15 Entrance of wedding party
7:30 Dinner
8:15-9:00 Toasts, Cake Cutting, First Dances 
9:00-9:30 Open Dance (or dollar dance)
9:30-9:45 Bouquet/Garter Toss

Every wedding will be different in here, from ceremony time to cocktail hour...the best way to find the timeline for this is to talk to your venue about how many guests you expect, and how long dinner will take (buffet will differ in times than a meal being served to guests for example). 

Still looking for more guidance? I'm more than happy to discuss your unique wedding day plans and photography schedule with you! 

Have you booked a wedding with us? Wonderful! Please check this link for more details on what to do next! 
Interested in booking a wedding with us? You can see all our prices for weddings here. All other session prices can be found here.  

Happy Easter from Our Family to Yours!

Happy Easter from Lady Grey Photography! We tried our hardest to take a family photo on Sunday! Thankfully it went okay, but these two siblings HATE being around each other. I've never had cats that don't get along, but Lady Grey and Gallifrey wanted nothing to do with being in the same room together. You'll see one of our outtakes before where Lady Grey head-butted me, resulting in the bloody lip (mine...not his) and a nice little bump. Needless to say the most photogenic in our family, Kevin and and Gallifrey got a great photo together in their Easter best!  

Tips for Better Cell Phone Photos

This is a post for all you moms out there that are looking for a few easy tricks to taking better photos of your little ones on your smartphone! As you may know, I don't have little humans running around our place, so I decided to use my favorite subjects...our too cats! Meet Lady Grey and Gallifrey! 

Here are a few useful tips to learn to take better cell phone photos of your little ones! 

Try different angles. Get down to their level, make them look all the way up at you. Try something new! You don't always need to just take a photo straight on! 

Face them towards a light. If possible use natural light. Phones aren't great with backlighting, that is sitting a subject we're behind them is your primary light source. Photographers can shoot directly into the sun, phone's not so much. Try placing them towards a window or opening the front door. 

(left photo with the light behind Lady Grey, right photo where she is looking at the window) 

(left with the window behind Gallifrey, right photo with the light infront/side of Gallifrey) 

Get more natural light. Open up the shades all the way, the front door, or even take them outside for a minute to get a photo of a cute outfit. Don't put them in direct light, try the shade. You don't want direct sun that is going to make your kids squint, you want a diffused light. 

Be patient. But also have your phone ready at any moment. You know your child best and sometimes you can anticipate those perfect shoots, but sometimes you need to spend a little time creating the perfect creating the perfect photo.

Clean up the background. Whether it's toys, or simply something distracting to look at. Typically simpler backgrounds are best so try to clear away the mess, put your kid near a solid neutral background like a couch or wall. Feel free to get creative too, but when you're starting out go with simple.

(left photo is distracting, I took a minute to move the toys and shoe for the right photo) 

Pull the subject away from the background. You know how photographers make the background blurry? Well your phone isn't as good at that, but you can help it out. The further the subject is away from the background the the more likely the photo will have a blurry background. In technical terms that's called aperture but we won't talk about that here.

Have some help. I always encourage parents to waive toys, sing songs, or make noises to get their kids to look at the camera. Don't be afraid to act like a goof. Sometimes it's too hard to set up a photo and make noises and wave your hands all at once. Getting someone else to help with that can be a lifesaver.


Every now and again I like to share a little sneak peak into my life! 
This is one of my new favorite pictures. Here is why: 

1. This is our new place that we moved into this summer...so we don't have many pictures of it.
2. This basically describes our family unit perfectly...the two of us...and our cats whom we love. Lady Grey is the gray cat at the bottom, and our newest member of the family is Gallifrey up in the left corner. We got him this summer as a stray when he was just 6 weeks old. 
3. My favorite part is that this is the closest these cats have ever been. Yes, they are both asleep, but they currently still hate each other. Gallifrey is the most obnoxious cat I've ever met, so I can't blame Lady Grey for hating him. That being said, in this photo you can't tell that Lady Grey growls whenever the kitten gets within 10 yards of her....or that they wake us up at night fighting...or that on multiple occasions we've found huge tufts of gray hair in Gal's mouth. 

So there you have it, our little family! 

Using A Second Shooter

I thought the Kingsley wedding would be a great way for me to show off how much I love photographing weddings with a second shooter. As you may know, my second shooter is almost always my husband. He is crazy talented and I always tell people he taught me everything I know about Photoshop! It is true! We met my sophomore year of college, where he was studying to be a graphic designer...so I started learning from him back in 2008! He has been stuck with me every since :) 

What I love about photographing with him, is he has an eye for detail and composition. He sees things that I don't, and as a team we can work to take even more photos in a short period of time then we ever could alone! Take a look at these photos, in each pair one photo is from my camera, the other is from his and are taken within seconds of each other! How fun right?? Whenever possible I suggest for any event that my clients add on a second shooter to make the most of their photography experience! 

Lens Investment

I regularly have clients that come to me asking what equipment they should invest in to take better photos. Many families now have an SLR camera (single lens reflex...one of those cameras where the lenses are screwed off/on and the mirror inside makes a click sound when you take a photo).

One of the best investments you can make after buying an SLR, is a good prime lens. Now, you may not know this, but I shoot with Canon. Typically photographers are either Canon or Nikon...and the equipment is not interchangeable. If you are a Canon user, I suggest you invest in a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens. This lens runs around $120, and is fabulous. It is one the cheapest (if not THE cheapest) Canon lens you can buy. It is fabulous and you'll still find me using it on occasion. 

Here are a few examples of photos I've taken with that lens. 

It is also the first lens I would suggest that you purchase if you're looking to try to shoot in Manual Mode. It gives you a lot more flexibility than other lenses, for a fraction of the cost! 

Nikon has a similar lens from what I've read, although I've personally never used it. Nikon 50mm f/1.8G  would be the most comparable, running about $215. 

I am a strong believer that it is the skill and expertise of the person behind the camera that makes a picture wonderful! Once you have that mastered, it is all about the lens. So many people want to upgrade to the newest camera body to enhance their photography...but wait! Wait until you've exhausted every possible learning opportunity for yourself, and then the 50mm lens...then consider investing in another camera body if you feel like you really need it! 

Want to learn more about photography? Check out this post to read about how I teach one-on-one photography classes! They are just $35 for one person, or $55 for two people to come to the class! I'll explain why I love this lens, how to best use it, learn to shoot in manual mode and walk you through the specifics of what you hope to capture in your photos! 

Wedding Photographer Questions

Booking a photographer for your wedding or event can be a very stressful process. Here are the answers to a number of commonly asked questions! 

How Far In Advance to Book?
It is first come! It is very common for me to need to turn down couples because I'm already booked on their date. Book as early as possible. A written contract is prepared when we have the details worked out, and a deposit is made in order to be considered "booked". Usuallly we are booked by the first 2 months of the year for the entire year sessions. Not always, so please check with us just in case! 

How Much Do You Charge and What Is The Deposit? 

Please contact me and we can discuss. Each wedding is different and I make all wedding packages custom to each bride. 

What Will I Receive In The End?
For all sessions, you receive high resolution digital images that have been edited and processed by yours truly. I do all the editing myself. You receive a release as well to print/use as you would like. 

Do You Shoot Digital Or Film?
I shoot in digital format. In addition, I shoot in raw but will always give you jpeg files. 

When Will I Receive My Photos?
I ask couples to plan on 4-6 weeks. That being said, I always put up "sneak peeks" on facebook so you don't have to wait too long! 

Do You Work With A Shot List?
I have a questionnaire that I ask all couples to fill out prior to the wedding. This covers all sorts of things, including a shot list. I do work off that list if you provide me one. 

Who Will Be At My Wedding?
I am always the photographer, and do not contract out my weddings. If you've requested a second photographer, I will bring one of my experienced assistants with me. More often then not, this is my graphic designer husband. 

What If You Are Sick?
I have lots of connections and will always assist in finding a suitable replacement. If there is a planned conflict where I cannot make the event (scheduled surgery, broken arm...?) I offer to assist in finding a replacement, or if you choose, give you a refund to hire a different photographer. 

Ireland and Egypt

You may recall I was absent the end of April---well my husband and I took a trip to Ireland and Egypt! We each picked a place we had always wanted to go, and we made it happen! (Mine was Egypt, his was Ireland). It was an absolute blast...here are a few photos to prove it!

Snapshot of Your Photographer #3

I'm trying to make it a point to take more photos of the everyday. We are in our second year of marriage, and I love all the time we get to spend together. I hope it never changes, but I know it will. Someday our family will grow, things will get busier, will move to a new place and I want to take photos of the basics of everyday life this year. 

This was yesterday after work. Our boxes behind the couch are being packed up to take Christmas gifts to Kevin's family in Colorado. We were in the middle of watching a Christmas movie, which we do each night in December. This time it was one of those claymation movies...which in my opinion...there are way too many of those out there! 

This is our place, about 50% of our cozy 1 bedroom apartment is shown in this photo. The back is our work space where we take turns working on our computer, Kevin with his graphic design, and me with photo editing. 

Lady Grey is off hiding somewhere in this photo, but you can see the container on the shelf (the white box on the left upper portion of the shelf) which holds our fish, Hearsay. Hearsay is a balloon molly that is about 4 years old now, she is blue and purple polka dot and Lady Grey loves to be held up to the tank to watch her. 

So this is our place, and we love it! 

Snapshot of Your Photographer #2

Here is another photo to tell you a little more about myself! 

First, this was taken on my phone in between sessions on Sunday. It was hot out...super hot. I just needed a place to sit and cool off. I tend to book my schedule back to back, so having a free moment is rare, but often very needed
So what can you learn about me from this photo?

1. ipad. I'm almost always plugged in. Whether its by smartphone or ipad. It took me a while to get into the smartphone craze, but I realized my need when I missed a photography appointment last winter. I'd never forgotten about an appointment before, and haven't since! That was the shove I needed to get the smartphone when my client was attempting to contact me through facebook. 

2. Coffee. I'm a big coffee drinker. Rarely is it ever Scooters (this just happened to be the closest place in between sessions) but my coffee of choice is Starbucks. I worked as a Barista at Starbucks through law school and I'm hooked. Starbucks was also probably one of my favorite jobs ever....and I've worked a lot of different jobs in my 26 years.  

3. Reading. I love to read, but only read fantasy, classics or business/financial books. I've read all the Jane Austen books, most of Suze Orman books, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and just about any 5th grade reading level fantasy book that comes across my mother's desk at school with her stamp of approval. That being said, I prefer hard copy books, not electronic books. This was an unusual circumstance. I'll admit I love the convenience of checking books out from the library via an ipad. 

4. ipad cover. You may not be able to tell, but its a TOMS flag cover. I love Toms because they are so super comfy and for a good cause (also shown in photo are my feet with my very worn brown toms). Almost every client will see me wearing Toms to my session, as I love photographing in something that lets me move around a lot. Back to the cover, I revamped my old cover my sewing a toms flag over it since it was falling apart. Yet another example of my love of crafts! 

5. Small fossil purse. I absolutely love fossil, since the 7th grade you won't see me without a fossil watch on (even shown in photo). This purse cracks me up because I've attempted the daring task of learning to live out of a small purse. I was known for carrying anything from a cardigan, to a can of pop, a spare point-and-shoot camera and all of the above in my purse without realizing it. There were many times where my husband would see me pull out a bag of cheez-its or a can of pop while we were out, and I hadn't even realized I'd been carrying food around for 3 days.  I was the infamous "soccer mom" without the soccer or mom :) 

Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about your photographer! 

Wedding Photography: Guests

I absolutely love weddings. However, I think there is some etiquette that many people don't know nowadays when it comes to attending a wedding where a professional photographer has been hired to capture this special day! If you know all the below, hallelujah, all wedding photographers love you :)  Here are my etiquette suggestions for guests attending a wedding with a hired professional photographer.

1. The Bride is my Client. Although you may think "The bride wants a photo of my family, so I must grab the photographer to take a photo at the rehearsal of me and my family" If she didn't tell me, its probably not top of her list. I'd suggest never pulling the photographer aside to take a photo of you, your friends, or family. If I think the bride wants one, I'll take it. If you're really concerned about this, check with the bride first. This isn't so you'll have a photo tagged of you at the wedding on facebook. This goes for bridesmaids and their partners. Please don't ask me to take a photo of you in the middle of running family photos, or to sneak out of the reception to take photos of you and your boyfriend/husband. Run it by the bride, if she okays it...then I'll do it. I'm more than happy to take individual family photos if we get done with things early, but only at the bride's request. I usually try to take photos of every table at the reception, so the bride will know you made it. That being said, I'd suggest never contacting the photographer after the wedding for a photo of you. You may be shocked that anyone would do this, but I've had this happen a number of times. The bride is my client, she hired me, she gets the photos and can give them out to you afterwards.

2. Don't be "Uncle Bob" Uncle Bob is the term used for the guy who steps in front of the photographer to get a photo on his little point and shoot camera, iphone or DSLR.  I'm hired for a reason, please don't step in front of me for cutting the cake photos, first dance, etc. Even other camera flashes can ruin a photo and make it unusable for me. I'd suggest not using a flash during any "important" moment during the wedding day. Save it for when the bride and groom are chatting at the reception. Here is a shot that was completely ruined by someone else's flash just last month. Thankfully it was just a candid reception shot, and not the "I do" kiss shot!

3. Stay out of the aisle.  I'm not saying the wedding needs to be completely unplugged (where the Bride and Groom ask guests not to take any photos. If they do, please honor their wishes) But stay out of the aisle. Don't lean into the aisle ever during the ceremony to take photos. Especially don't jump out in the aisle. If you'd like, feel free to take photos at the wedding, but the trick is to keep your arms in and camera/phone near your body. I've seen many pictures ruined by someone holding an ipad high above the ceremony to take photos and block the photographer's otherwise great shot! 

4. Don't take photos the photographer has set up without asking.  Did you know many photographers have in their contract if someone starts doing this, they can leave? You're basically stealing their copyrighted photo doing this. Yes, that's correct...setting up a photo has been determined to be a copyrighted work. (this is the lawyer in me coming out). If I take the time to set up a photo, don't take photos behind my back. I dislike this mostly because the people I'm taking photos of will start to look at you, rather than at my camera....which can ruin the shot. Weddings are always on a time crunch, so the distraction can really hurt the photos.

5. Trust the Photographer. You can't believe the number of people that will come up and say things like "Did you take a picture of the cake?"  "Make sure you take a picture of X" or "You should take a photo of these people doing this." It takes up my time. I can tell you not once have I politely taken a photo something, and actually used it in the hundreds of photos I give to a bride.  If you're a photographer, you know not to do this...and if you're not a photographer...you probably shouldn't tell me what photos to take. 

6. There is no "Fashionably Late" in Wedding Photography. If the bride has asked you to be at a certain place at a certain time for family photos, arrive early. Her schedule is tight, and often something has gone wrong to make it even worse. Being late to a family photo means either 1) You won't be in the photo 2) They will wait and have to push back other photos or possibly not take other photos 3) They rearrange and cause stress for the bride. This happens at most of the weddings I photograph...yikes! 

Well those are my 6 tips for attending a wedding with a professional photographer! If you're in attendance, that means you're probably close with the bride and groom. My tips are for them, so I can provide them with each special moment captured by my camera! 

Photographer Gifts

Looking for a gift for your photographer friend? I have to share a few of my favorite fun gifts for anyone that loves photography! It can be hard to buy equipment for a photographer, but photographer themed gifts and accessories are easy! 

I actually love this ENTIRE store...but this mug is an extra favorite

Love this print!

I dont have a kid...but love this tshirt!

Speaking of tshirts! 
Cutest stamp in the world (and only $5)
This shop turns old cameras into lights etc. Amazing!

The Oh Snap Tote :) 

What I wouldn't suggest buying for the serious photographer without running it by the photographer:
Cutesy camera straps, lenses, filters, white balance tools, camera bags and other things they would use in their business. 
We can be somewhat...okay....a lot...picky about those sorts of things!

On the Other Side of the Lens

If you don't recognize the person in these photos, let me introduce myself! 
Hi, I'm Kitty, the photographer behind Lady Grey Photography!

Photo credit here goes to my husband, Kevin. He is my second shooter whenever I need a photographer for weddings or other events. He is fabulous :) Kevin has a degree in graphic design, and taught me just about everything I know when it comes to Photoshop. I was not a good student either, I hated learning Photoshop because it was so different than anything I'd ever worked with. Now it seems like second nature to me!

Back to my post. I think it is so important for a portrait photographer to get on the other side of the lens every now and again. Why? Because I can forget that my clients aren't models, they don't know where to stand, how to pose and I forget the feeling some of them may be feeling when they get in front of a camera. 
I do that too. If only we had captured this session on video, you would have heard my husband saying "You look like a dork, stop doing that, stop moving so much, don't stick your stomach out" (we are of course nicer when it comes to photographing our clients, but he thought it was hilarious how awkward I can be in front of a camera!) 

So what did I take away from this session? Sometimes its nice to have something you're familiar with during your sessions, to make you forget about the camera a little bit. With couples you have each other, with family photos you have your kids, but if it is just you sometimes its nice to have a couple props to interact with. For me, those are my cameras. It also really helps when its my husband as the photographer. Even if you're a complete stranger to me, I always try to make you feel comfortable and talk all through our session to capture the most natural you on camera. 

That being said, if you are having a session, feel free to bring a friend or family member along that won't be in the photos to help you feel comfortable! They can stand by me, make faces, and help let me know when you are doing your "fake" smile or your "real" smile :) 

This week was such a great learning experience for me!

Snapshot of Your Photographer

I love that so many of my clients come back to me time and time again for more photos, and its been so much fun getting to know so many of you. I'd like to share a little more about your photographer! I'm hoping to give you a snapshot into my life on a more regular basis, and use it to tell you more about myself! Here we go! 

So here is where the photo processing magic happens. My husband is a graphic designer, and with my need for perfected photo editing we share the Mac when it comes to our work projects. 

So this is our work place. 

I'll use this photo to tell you a little more about ourselves. 

1. We love our cat. We got Lady Grey about a year ago, she was a stray that the Humane Society picked up. We fell in love right when we saw her. It took a few days to name her, but because of our love of Twinning tea...we went with Lady Grey. She has such a strong personality, and so naughty! Our photography business and our etsy page is both named after her! 

2. The box. This is our newest addition to the desk. Little Lady Grey has been getting in our way photo editing. We decided to add a box to our desk, it works amazingly well actually. In case you're not a cat person you may not know this, but cats love boxes. This is an old coke crate my dad has had in our garage since before I was born. I use this in baby sessions every now and then. Kevin and I have a small place, so we try to use our photo props in our every day lives!

3. Wedding photo. You may not be able to tell but right above the computer is a wedding photo. We eloped to Europe instead of having the big wedding, and hired an amazing photographer to take gorgeous wedding photos of us in front of some of the most spectacular scenes in Paris. 

4. Vintage cameras. Not much to say, except we collect them and absolutely love them. Our whole apartment is decorated in them. 

5. One Year Down Sign. First, my amazing husband designed this faux chalkboard print. We sell this for just $6 on etsy here! We used this in our own personal one year anniversary photos this February. 

6. Globe. This represents 2 things. We absolutely love to travel (almost as much as we love Lady Grey) and also I'm a crafter. We painted this old globe to represent both of those loves. 

That's about it! Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about your photographer :) 

My Photoshop Love/Hate

Photoshop is my editing program of choice. Why do I love it? It's good. Once you learn how to use it (I've been using is 3-4 years and still learn something new every day) it can be a huge tool.

Why do I hate it sometimes? There is something about a photo, unedited, that can be so beautiful. Babies don't have perfectly smooth faces, sometimes the light lets in a little extra blue...it's life! I've been working over the last few years, learning to edit less and make my photos more natural.

What else do I think about photoshop? Sometimes I think clients can be a little unrealistic as to what I can do (or how much time it takes me to do something) in photoshop. I get things like "you can edit out this water spill down the front of my shirt" or editing closed eyes open, and people in the background of a downtown photo session. Its a rarity to get too many crazy demands, but I love my job because I get to take a snapshot of the world around us, and keep it as natural as possible. 

Sometimes, I really love to test my skills. For example, this little girl.

(left is obviously straight out of the camera, while the right is after photoshop)

In the grand scheme of things, I love Photoshop, and would certainly recommend it to other photographers! 

The Inside Look In My Camera Bag

If you've had a session with me, you may have noticed my mustard yellow camera bag (disguised as a purse). It was a gift from my now husband when we were dating. I love that thing, and I take it with me everywhere! Clients that have never met me I usually say look for the large mustard bag, and you've probably got the right person! I love having a camera bag purse, as it looks cute, holds lots of stuff and protects my gear with padded dividers. 

So whats in this yellow bag? Well let me pull it all out and show you! 

2 Camera bodies- You don't have to have 2, but I usually do. Its great to have a backup, and better yet I love keeping 2 difference lenses on the cameras, so I don't have to stop and switch lenses. The photo shows only one because I was using my 2nd to take the photo :) 

Backup Batteries- My spare batteries are all off brand from amazon. Usually half the price for twice as many batteries! The battery life is usually just fine, although some reviews are pretty negative. They are great for backups!

Lots of Memory Cards- You never know! Unfortunately my two camera bodies use both different batteries and different memory cards, bleck! 

Lenses- Whatever lenses you think you'll be needing for that session. I have a telephoto lens that I often leave at home for regular portrait sessions. I don't need the extra weight on my shoulders!

Flash and batteries- If I'm shooting outdoors, I often leave this at home as well. I don't care for the extra bulk, but if you need it...keep it on you! 

Lens Hood- Use when needed. They are light, so I always have them handy. 

White balance card- I keep this with me at all times. I go through phases of using it and not. With photoshop, I usually make small adjustments afterward if needed

Tissue- from allergies to baby boogers...you'll be glad you have these. Either for you or your client, you'll seem much more prepared.

Chapstick- Don't go anywhere without it. No need for you to be miserable during a session without some chapstick!

Chalk- I keep this with me for the sessions where I use a chalkboard prop

Business cards- Hand them out after the session! I give my clients a referral discount on their next session if they refer someone to me! Great way to get your name out there.

Items not shown but often making an appearance in my bag: 

Pen- Many people write checks, you'll always want to offer a pen to make payment go smoothly! I forgot to take this out of the bag for my photos

Bobby pins, Safety Pins, Hair spray- If you do many Senior sessions, these are great to keep with you! I always try to keep safety pins and a couple bobby pins. I rarely carry hairspray for a regular photo session.

Clients phones, keys as needed- I offer to hold client's phones and keys as a courtesy, and to make my photos better. There is nothing worse than awkward bumps and bulges from phones and keys in pockets.

Depending on the session or what is going on that day, I may have other goodies in my bag. I wouldn't be surprised if you found a granola bar, my ipad mini (for keeping track of my schedule), or maybe even a children's toy for waiving around during photos!  Put it all back and you're ready to go!

Free Lensing

I heard about this trick a couple of years back, and I think its so much fun! Free lensing is the idea of taking your lens off your camera, flipping it around and holding the end against your camera body while shooting a photo. 

Why would you do this? It gives a really unique effect, and it is great if you don't have a macro lens! These are the photos I took during a hike up in Washington a few years back when I tried it for the very first time. 
(remember these are photos from 4 years ago, before I was doing photography as a business--this is not a professional technique, anyone can do this! All of these were with my very first rebel, that was about 3 years old and taken with my kit lens)

I've used my kit lens (18-55) and my 50mm doing this, both have worked great!

This was just yesterday with my kit lens. I literally grabbed what I had on hand (my ring) to show you how much closer you can get. The 2nd photo is about as close as I could take it with the lens on the right way.

How do you do this? Before detaching your lens, you need to set up your camera to the right exposure (yes...this means I'm saying you are forced to shoot in manual mode).
If you're curious how to do this--look into taking my Photography 101 class. Just $30 for one person, or you want to take it with a friend, $50 for two of you! Read more here!
You'll want a little higher shutter speed because you'll have to be very still.

Next, turn off your camera. 
Take off the lens and flip it around. 
Turn on your camera.
Hold the "wrong" side of your lens up to your camera. You're just going to hold it there, it wont reattach this way. 

Then you need to move your body to get the object in focus, rather than focusing through the camera. You're going to be getting pretty close to whatever it is your shooting. You need to hold the camera very still for this, as you're really getting a pinpoint focus here. Look at the ring picture above, the metal prongs are in focus, the diamond is mostly in focus and the band is out of focus, think about how little distance there is between those items, that's how accurate you need to get your focus...so you need to be very still. If you're lens isn't fixed (it zooms in and out) try zooming one way or another to see what is going to work best.

And that's it! Play around, try different things and enjoy your little photo trick!

Below is as close as I could get with my lens

With the the lens flipped around using free lensing

Tilting the lens a little to let extra light in and faking sun flare

All of the above are unedited straight out of the camera (SOOC)