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How to have a completely stress free wedding

Weddings are bonkers. I’m not sure they were always this way – but today – they’re often just flat out crazy bonkers full of bonker balls and more bonker bonkers. (Say bonkers again! I dare you!)

SO. You want to have a stress-free wedding. Is that possible? I mean yes – of course it’s possible. But how do you do that? I googled it. And many of the tips consists of basically doing as much planning up front as possible. And/or paying someone else to take on the stress so you don’t have to stress – which means that you hired a great wedding planner to do everything for you. 

How to have a Stress-Free Wedding

That’s just transferring the stress. Unless you don’t have to stress out about money. Many of us do. We’re not supposed to because ‘money isn’t real’ – but it’s real enough to our tiny brains that it might as well be real. (I’ve been listening to too much Alan Watts lately so bear with me.)

Oh yeah. Back to it. How do you have a completely stress free wedding? IDK. Be dead. That’s about the only way to be completely stress free. (But even the dead don’t seem to be stress free sometimes – that’s why they’re like, haunting us or you know, hanging out around.) OH. Right. Focus. 

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OKAY. The way to have a completely stress free wedding IS……. to just get married and then have your wedding later. (Like elopement style.) BOOM! Take that! Ha! NO seriously. It’s totally a viable option. What’s getting married anyway? I mean – ‘legally’ it’s some paperwork. Spiritually it’s two people being all I promise these things to you. Community-wise it’s people around you that celebrate your Union and LOVE… Arguably – it’s NOT most of what the wedding industry and magazines are selling. Unless you’re talking about amazing wedding photos. Those are ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED or else you’re just not really getting married. (I kidddddddddd. No I don’t.) (Yes I do.)

SO. You get married. And then you’re like – aw yeah f*ckers try to stress me out now! I’m already married! HA! 

Okay. Sure there are logistics – but much fewer than all the planning that goes into the BIG GIANT IDEA OF A WEDDING. And you might get some blowback from your family – but come on. It’s your life. 

IT’S YOUR LIFE. (Both of you.)

Simple Wedding Ideas With No Stress

And that means that other people will just deal. They will. And you know what. No one is going to kill you. They’ll still want to celebrate with you somehow – but they won’t kill you. 

But really. As I write this – I’m asking myself WTF AM I DOING. I basically have a job because people spend A LOT OF MONEY on WEDDINGS. There aren’t any real photographers that make an actually good living off of just ‘elopements’. (I know I know – sure there are. They’ll email me. But come on – we know they’re not making a living off of just elopements.) 

Maybe I’m just… I like you to have options. All of them. I want you to have all the options you want and not think that you have to go through with some kind of wedding that you don’t want. 

But if you don’t want amazing wedding photography – then you’re dead to me. DEAD TO ME.

Sincerely,

Mark Tioxon

 

Different Food & Dinner Options for Your Wedding

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I’m making a few assumptions with this post.

  1. You want food available/to feed your guests something
  2. You’re feeding them dinner

Of course you absolutely have the option of not really providing any food for your guests (just make sure you let me know that this is NOT THAT KIND OF WEDDING). This is not unheard of – you can simply have a ‘cocktail reception’ as they say – which would still kind of mean that you’d be providing some food but more like simple appetizers and bites. Nothing resembling a meal. Unless you eat 34 bites.

Wedding Catering Food Dinner Ideas

SO. What are the dinner food options for your wedding? Or more appropriate and specifically – what are the different food service options for your wedding reception? Ah yes – Food Service Options.

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Atlanta Wedding Photographers LeahAndMark & Co.

Say it again – Food Service Options for Your Wedding Reception (that’s just SEO junk there)

  • Seated Meal
    • Alright – this is you probably already know as one of your main options. Just feed everyone a seated meal like it was a restaurant with a very limited menu. Yes there are some great benefits to having full seated meal service – but those benefits definitely add up in costs. Largely in the costs to provide enough servers/waitstaff to make sure that the plates get served in a timely manner. The problem or costs can get exponentially greater as the number of your guests grows. Definitely something to keep in mind. You’ll also want to balance out the quality of the food with the number of guests and costs. A seated meal/dinner service is often thought of as the most traditional food service but that doesn’t mean that you can’t go with one of the other options and still have an amazingly impressive wedding reception.
  • Family-Style Meal
    • You know how some restaurants say they serve food ‘family style’? Which really just means they bring the food on slightly larger plates to your table and make you serve yourselves. Right. Okay. This is sort of in between a seated meal and a buffet. More like… a seated buffet. YES. EXACTLY. Feels fancy like a seated meal but unfancy like Golden Corral…
  • Buffet Meal
    • Ahahaha I just made a Golden Corral joke just now and it was HILARIOUS (see above like two lines.) – okay your wedding reception buffet doesn’t have to be like the amazing buffet at Golden Corral – because that’s some DAMN FINE FOOD THEY HAVE THERE. No seriously. I LOVE Golden Corral. I only eat like 3 things and pile on 5 plates of the stuff – but I LOVE those three things. Same with your wedding reception buffet. You give people the opportunity to eat as much as they want of the same 3 things and leave the rest for the rest of the people… often times cheaper than a seated meal and with way more food for everyone. Just don’t go cheap okay? As in – barely enough food for people. I’ve seen roast beef sliced so thin and small that it was basically cold cuts.
  • Brunch or Lunch
    • This changes your whole day. If you’re not having a dinner reception then you don’t have to have dinner food. Heck – if you’re having a dinner reception, you don’t have to have dinner food either. Anyway – breakfast – everyone loves breakfast food. And if they don’t love breakfast food then they don’t need to be attending your wedding because they’re probably some kind of miserable f*cker. (WHO DOESN’T LIKE BREAKFAST FOOD?!) Oh yeah – and if you’re having a brunch/breakfast/lunch wedding reception – the drinking will probably be WAY LESS than if you were just partying the night away. Boom. Saved you some money. YOU’RE WELCOME.
  • Heavy H’orderves/Cocktail hour
    • IDK. I said something up there earlier about how you don’t have to serve as much food if you’re just serving heavy h’orderves – unless that’s what you’re serving for dinner – then you DO have to serve just as much food… which may or may not save you money. Because I know we served heavy h’orderves for dinner at our wedding and that was still damn expensive. What do I know about any of this really – I’m a photographer.

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Alright! Thank you! You’re awesome!

 

Wedding. Catering. Food. Advice. Options. Dinner. Meals. Planning. Atlanta. Photographer. LeahAndMark.

S + R | Backyard Ceremony & Reception | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

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Alright! It’s Halloween night as I write this and my son’s full of candy but still somehow he’s asleep now. So I’m writing this blog post – while Ash Vs. Evil Dead plays in the background and I myself have consumed way too much coffee. Am I foreshadowing how much this post is going to go off the rails into who knows where? Probably. Definitely. Maybe. Who Knows. What I do know is that 500 words is a lot of words and then not a lot of words but OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS SHOW?! – (sorry watching Ash Vs. Evil Dead remember?)

Right. Back to it. Backyard weddings. That’s what this was! That’s how S & R celebrated their wedding – in a big backyard here in Atlanta – and WOW. It. Was. Awesome.

Like really awesome. Like not the ‘backyard wedding’ where it’s just picnic tables and cheap barbecue and people that feel like they don’t need to dress up. Oh yeah – FOOD. S & R had Thai food catered and YEAH. I totally ATE MY WEIGHT in pad thai. They basically could’ve paid me in pad thai. And coffee. And maybe fried chicken. Probably fried chicken. What else…  oh Sesame chicken too. That’s good stuff. Right. Okay – back to this.

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Atlanta Wedding Photographer – Backyard Wedding

Check out that backyard! It’s SO AWESOME! You wanna be like – WHO HAS A BACKYARD LIKE THAT? Apparently people here in Atlanta. Definitely no one in Phoenix, Arizona (where I grew up.)

Oh yeah AND another thing about backyard weddings – decorate. Look – just because it’s a backyard wedding doesn’t mean that you can be lazy about things. Decorate – that’s what makes it more of a wedding ceremony in a backyard and not just… a conversation in a backyard. Right? Right. So decorate. It doesn’t take too much. Seriously. Pick up a book. Do a Google search. Check out Pinterest or something. I bought a book on kitchen spaces and now my kitchen looks ALL KINDS OF BADASS! I got one of those cool magnetic knife rack things – and then I installed some other bars and hooks and instead of everything being in a drawer they’re hanging and being all show casey. And my cutting boards are all made of wood and are GIANT (except you know, the one I use for cutting meat cause that would be unsafe germ and bacteria-wise.)

Oh. Right. Let’s keep moving along.

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No seriously – I’m watching this Ash Vs. Evil Dead show and it just keeps getting more and more impressive when it comes to the gore and blood – but not in a sick sad HOSTEL or SAW movie type of way – more of a… well, slapstick EVIL DEAD kind of way.

Oh – nevermind – that show ended. Switched over to Black Mirror. Now if you haven’t seen that show – WATCH IT. It’ll make you want to quit social media and technology and things like that. Because dammit – my happiness/meaning in life is not measured BY MY INSTAGRAM FACEBOOK SCORE!

Wait. I hit the word count.

Atlanta backyard weddings are often times the most beautiful and most amazing kinds of weddings. Just make sure you put a little effort and a lot of love into your ceremony and reception and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing wedding day.

Nailed it!

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Atlanta Wedding Photographers LeahAndMark & Co.

Backyard wedding. Planning. Ideas. Tips. Atlanta. Georgia. Fall. Outdoors.

Shoes to think about on Your Wedding Day for PHOTOS | Vlog

When you’re thinking about your wedding day portrait session – something you may consider are your shoes. Your shoes and then also the locations your crazy photographer might make you go into for the portrait session. For example – if you’re likely to out into the woods – you should definitely bring some shoes to walk in if the actual wedding shoes aren’t good for… walking in the woods. You know – flip flops or other flats. Stuff like that – especially if you’re wearing very high heels and/or you’re not used to wearing high heels for hiking (some people are okay!)

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Sure – you could have your partner carry you – and that works too – but you may want to clear that with them… or not. Or you could just bring extra shoes.

Because we all know some of the best photos are where things get WILD. And overgrown. And we all love those photos of people dressed all fancy in dangerous wilderness spots right? Ha. Right.

Alright! If I don’t see you on your day – have a great wedding and I’ll talk to you later!

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Wedding Photographers

 

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Where to Get Ready on Your Wedding Day for Beautiful Photos | VLOG

How to have beautiful getting ready photos on your wedding day from LeahAndMark & Co. on Vimeo.

You’ve probably seen some amazing, ridiculously beautiful photos of people getting ‘ready’ on their wedding days. Brilliant light, amazing locations, and beautiful… everything. WHAT ARE THESE SPACES? Honestly – most of the time they’re hotel rooms. But you still need to have the RIGHT hotel room.

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | The Foundry at Puritan Mill

You can’t just book a hotel room the size of a closet, with one small window, and shove 10 people in there – expecting to get the same type of beautifully lit ‘getting ready’ wedding photos.

You need LIGHT. Lots and lots of LIGHT.

Hotel suites help a lot – since they offer more room – and often times have larger windows – allowing for MORE natural window light. Seems like common sense, but it’s hard to think about details like this during your wedding planning since WEDDING PLANNING IS BONKERS. Right? Right.

Iowa Wedding | LeahAndMark & Co.

But here’s the thing – if you don’t choose to book a hotel room space to get ready in – and instead you pick a friend’s home, or even your home – you don’t have to get ready in the bedroom. You can get ready wherever there is great light. So that might mean getting ready in the kitchen. Or the living room – or even on the back deck. Of course you don’t need to be getting all nekkid in public for everyone to see. But you can certainly do hair and makeup out there – and you can get your dress on, not fully buttoned up, and then walk back out to the deck and finish up. Making sure that that your photographer has ALL THE LIGHT to make all of the amazing photos that you want.

So yes. Wedding planning. Bonkers.

Getting ready in plenty of beautiful natural light? – AMAZING.

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It’s that simple!

Oh – and remove all the clutter. Keep taking away all the plastic bags, and plastic water bottles and dirty clothes and basically everything that is clutter. Unless you’re going for a madness sort of cluttered look to your getting ready photos – in that case – you can probably forget all the stuff I said up above because you don’t need amazing light to photograph clutter.

Right. If I don’t see you on your day – have a great wedding and I’ll talk to you later.

 

 

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These Are Different Types of Wedding Dresses For You

Look. There are a whole lot and mess and boatload of wedding dresses out there. Now – it may come as a surprise to you – but before I became a wedding photographer – I had no clue about wedding dresses.

I still probably don’t.

I’ve photographed literally hundreds of people wearing wedding dresses. Good ones, great ones – (if you ask me for my opinion, my answer by default is that your wedding dress is SO BEAUTIFUL I’M GOING TO VOMIT – because what else am I gonna tell you on your wedding day?! THERE IS NO OTHER ANSWER! – alright maybe I could leave out the part about vomiting.)

Like me – maybe you never spent much time thinking about a wedding dress. Now you could look at photos of empty, lifeless wedding dresses on hangers – but that doesn’t tell you anything. You have to look at wedding dresses ON PEOPLE. So here. Here ya go. Wedding dresses – on people – on actual brides even. A whole gallery full of them – and everyone looking F*cken Amazing.

So yeah. Need ideas for what types of wedding dresses are out there? Here. Just for you. Well – and the 2 other people reading this blog these days.

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Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. Wedding. Dress. Styles. Ideas. Types. Tips. Different. Unique. Modern. Classic. Traditional. Photos.

Five Things | The Best Parts of Wedding Planning

Wedding Planning! For some people (crazy ones) – wedding planning is Awesome, and Fun! For many people – not so much.

Of course – it’s not that ALL wedding planning is awful – and there are definitely some areas that are just absolutely more fun than others. There’s also the fact that one person’s idea of fun is another person’s idea of torture. No matter what – it all depends on how you view the situation. Except for one thing – the cake/dessert tasting. I think EVERYONE likes that part of the wedding planning process. After surveying absolutely no people – here are five things that are the best parts of the whole wedding planning process.

1. Cake Tasting!

Come on now – it’s a totally reasonable excuse to try AS MANY CAKES AS IT TAKES to find the right one for your wedding day! Not only the type of cake but then also the design on the cake. And then when you consider the cake maker – well this could take several months of cake tastings and you ARE DEFINITELY UP TO THAT TASK.

2. Selecting Your Photographer

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Other than your marriage and literally hundreds of left over ‘wedding favors’ – your photos will be the only thing you have to remember your wedding day. Selecting your photographer isn’t stressful and it’s not hard. You’re basically picking a talented person to follow you around for 10 hours to be your personal paparazzi. PERSONAL PAPARAZZI. Also – they’re going to make sure you look amazing in the photos because IT’S THEIR JOB. Unlike your jealous cousin Sally who will inevitably try to take the worst photo possible and post it to social media immediately.

3. Choosing Your Venue

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Choosing your wedding venue isn’t stressful. Don’t worry – there are MANY, MANY, MANY venues out there. Sure some of them book up a year or more in advance. You know what? F*ck’em. Seriously. F*CK THEM. They’re completely booked already for the next year? That just means all those brides are going to have the same lame wedding because that place is a wedding machine. You get to pick someplace special. You can take a little more time to find the perfect venue for YOUR day and not just the last available date that no one else wanted.

(Okay I know – that’s not totally true. They’re probably already booked so much because they ARE awesome. But hey – that also just means that they weren’t the right venue for you anyway.)

4. Planning Your Honeymoon

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In the midst of planning your wedding – we HIGHLY recommend that you also start planning your honeymoon. Even if you’re not going right after your wedding. Even if you’re not going until six months after. START PLANNING YOUR HONEYMOON. Start dreaming about your perfect getaway. Don’t worry about how you’ll pay for it. Don’t worry about all the logistics. Just start planning it. It will happen. Pick someplace new. Pick an adventure. Or if you’re always going on adventures – pick someplace completely, totally, relaxing. This is arguably the best part of wedding planning! (I know it’s not ‘wedding’ planning but you don’t plan a honeymoon unless you’re planning a wedding so IT COUNTS.)

5. Letting go of it all

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At some point – after the major things have been booked and you’re past the point of no return – everyone will start coming at you to make a billion final decisions. Go ahead and make a good effort – but then at some point – you really can just say F*ck it all and decide not to give any F*cks. Hand it off. Say whatever. Say I don’t care. Don’t say anything at all and just THROW SOMETHING – they’ll get the message and just take care of it. See? You didn’t even have to talk that time. MUAHAHAHA. The power of letting go and not giving any F*cks.

 

9 Ruthless Lessons from House of Cards for Your Photography Business

Oh television and movies – they teach us so much about the world and shape our thinking. That’s why educational documentaries like Breaking Bad, Dexter (only up through Season 4), and Hannibal are so important. With the second season of House of Cards premiering last Friday – I thought it was fitting that we look at what your photography business can learn from Francis Underwood’s masterful navigation of political awesome.

Note: I was going to make everything line up with some example or quote from the show but um, sh*t I’ve got a business to run, I don’t have time for that. Just know these are ideas you pick up from watching the show. Got it? Get to work.

House of Cards Lessons

Photo via Netflix

1. Dare to Dream So Big Your Head Explodes

It all starts here. Dreams. Aspiration. Ambition. You have to actually WANT SOMETHING.

More than that – you have to tell someone – YOU – that you want it. And it needs to be big. BIG.

BIG.

Maybe Unrealistic. Why? Because only something so enormous and ridiculously massive can take over you. It needs to be something that you obsess over. That you dream about when you’re asleep AND awake. Only something so big that you’re afraid of it – is worth the effort it takes to overcome that fear and work through the challenges that will be headed your way when you go after something like that.

You want to make a living off your photography business? Have you told that to yourself? How about you tell yourself that you want more than just making a living. You want to make a damn good living. You want to pay all your bills and also have a f*cken amazing time. You’re probably timid in real life – and if you’re timid in your dreams well then you’ll never get out of that death pit.

You know – the one that keeps you chained to your desk in your windowless office, spending your weekly checks automatically deposited like an IV drip of sedation.

2. Throw Jabs and Hard and Soft Punches

Get it in your head that you’re not going to coast to success. Get it through your head that not everyone is your friend. You can’t only surround yourself with friends either. SO understand that you’re going to have to throw some punches. Not only that but a variety of punches. Sometimes you’ll need to throw the first punch. Sometimes you’ll need to counter-punch.

But don’t be afraid to knock someone down when they need it. Hell. if you’ve ever met a good wedding planner then you know she’d definitely shank and cut a b*tch.

Photo via Netflix

Photo via Netflix

3. Accept that it’s a Game

People’s lives aren’t a game. Their lives are serious… things. That’s absolutely true.

You need to accept that business is a game. You can decide how you play, what strategies and tactics to use – but know that it. is. a. game. Sometimes it’s a game of war, sometimes it’s a game of monopoly – but always a game. In games, if you just exist then you lose. You’re either actively trying to win or you’re losing. Whether slow or fast – if you’re not playing the game then you’re losing.

It’s a game – and it’s serious, and it’s not one you want to lose.

4. Play the Game. Play to WIN.

Some people whine that they don’t want to ‘play the game’. That’s their choice. See above.

Decide that you are going to the play the game. Which means you are playing to win. Not just exist. Not ‘for the fun of it’. To f*cken WIN. 

5. Learn the rules and then don’t follow them, USE THEM.

Of all the things I place in high regard, rules are not one of them.

– Francis Underwood

Rules can either be used to guide you or they can be used to contain you. For most photographers – the rules they follow are the ‘best practices’ and advice they learn from all of the good to sh*tty to useless workshops that they attend/watch. I smile when someone posts on Facebook that they learned a lot from so&so’s boring workshop – because I know that they’re about to do the same thing 100’s of other photographers are going to do after the same workshop. Probably nothing – but also probably nothing different or useful. Photographers only ever learn business tactics and rarely actual strategy – and they never figure out how to break‘ someone’s strategy.

When you do that – the other person’s strategy becomes a limitation at best, a noose at worse – especially when change comes along like it ALWAYS DOES.

Some photographers purposefully weed out clients, selecting only picturesque perfect weddings that would be published in Perfect Wedding magazine. Nonchalantly explaining such a thing to clients, and how they can identify those snobby photographers is how you educate them against your competition, using your competition’s own strategy.

This can work even if the client you’re talking to IS having one of those perfect weddings. Unless your clients are snobs. But this is where rule # 7 below is important.

6. Use meaningful threats and use them wisely

Threats are merely a different form of incentive. Stop wasting everyone’s time with incentives that suck. Stop posting on Facebook that people will save a whole whopping 10%, or 15%, or 20% off of your regular $150 rate. Your rates suck and anyone looking for a discount at that price actually just wants a cheap craigslist photographer anyway. 

You need real incentives. Hire me right the F now because I’m going away. Because at the end of this quote period that rate on your contract will honestly and truly GO UP. Because right now, this close to your wedding – I’m all you’ve got.

Incentives (threats) can and should be used on ALL players of the game. Everyone working with, near, or around your business. Money is an incentive. Easy is an incentive. Avoidance of pain is an incentive. Or threat. Whatever. They’re the same. Know when to use them, who to use them on – and remember to use them.

You should act like you have a bag of threats (incentives) about to blow up and you’re trying to get rid of them before your head blows off (you’re so poor you have to sell your camera.)

7. Mastery of People

Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength. It is their weakness and if you can humble yourself before them they will do anything you ask.

– Francis Underwood

Not Master People. Mastery of People. Learn about people. Everyone you can. Because you have to deal with everyone - and that’s a good thing.

Unless your clients are robots then you deal with a lot of people in your photography business. Clients. Other Photographers. Vendors. They’re all people playing the game once they come into your world (see above about the game.)

You need to KNOW ABOUT ALL OF THEM. You need to understand their motivations, their fears, their triggers. How to direct them. How to guide them. How to lead them. Stop thinking that you can just keep perfecting your widget (or photos) and people will magically come around and just hire you.

There are too many other photographers you’re competing with – including ME.

Learn about people. Always be learning about people. Learn what threats (incentives) work on what people. Go out and FIND the incentives you need.

8. Be What Your Clients Need and Want

Are you unappealing? Do you not look right? Do you come off as weak, afraid, unsure?

Maybe you’re completely wrong about yourself – more importantly – maybe you’re completely wrong about how other people see you. You think you’re great. Your potential clients think you’re unprofessional, young, inexperienced. You need to know these things. You need to find them out. Somehow. How? Ask someone dammit.

Once you’ve learned how others truly perceive you – fix that. I’m not saying they’re all weaknesses or that you should always change perceived negatives. But you need to either make them work for you, or overcome them.

Pro Tip: It’s in the details and the accessories.

Glasses make everyone smarter. Sneakers are for teens. And being Asian means taking photos is in your blood. Seriously though – outward organization is key. Make sure they see you taking lots of notes – even if you throw them away afterwards (although you’ll discover that you actually end up using them. huh.) Have a nice camera bag that a normal person would want. Even a nice pen. Details = Serious about your business = You Are Better Than that damn Art Student & Soccer Mom.

(If you happen to be that suburban mom photographer reading this well, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about the other soccer moms that aren’t cool. If you’re that art student well, I’m definitely talking about you. Get out of my way. I’m here to make living.)

9. Find Your Calm Center – then keep fighting.

When you have rebellions on all fronts (clients angry, intern mutiny, etc.) – don’t let them break you. Go to the calm center of you and say to yourself I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. I will win. 

And then get to work. And keep working.

“Rebellion on all fronts. Claire, Zoe, and Russo. I must not loose my resolve. I will march forward even if I have to do so alone.” – Francis Underwood

 

 

Questions? Need more information? Ask in the comments section below. Thanks.

 

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9 Business Lessons You Should Learn from House of Cards.

Why You Should Use Pinterest in Your Wedding Planning

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Many wedding photographers (and planners and floral designers) secretly complain to each other about how Pinterest is ruining brides. Or creativity. Or originality. Or something like that. They complain that brides all just want those Pinterest photos, even if their wedding is nothing like that mason-jar-sunset-glazed-farm-museum-warehouse-magical-scene-with-unicorns.

Maybe. Or… maybe f*ck that.

Maybe photographers should shut the hell up and just take photos. Oh no – this wedding is full of pretty stuff to take pictures of, again. Oh no, not another client that actually cares what their wedding/reception looks like. Oh no – a wedding full of pieces semi-derivative of a post-neo-pre-farm-classic theme I already photographed this  year. (Okay probably no photographer says that last one.)

Getting married? Pinterest all you want. Do it. Collect ideas. A lot of them. Some of them will be useful and others useless. Some will even cloud your judgement and that’s okay. It’s still your wedding. Your vendors are still there to do the jobs you hired them to do. When you hand over your Pinterest “inspiration” boards to your photographer/decorator/planner and they’re full of things we had at the last 40 weddings – GOOD. Whatever. It’s your wedding.

How else are you going to plan the perfect Star Wars/Anime/Dinosaur themed reception? – Pinterest B*tches! That’s how!

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | Pinterest | Brides

 

Some Photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

Comments? Questions? Need more information?

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Atlanta. Wedding. Photographer. LeahAndMark & Co. Pinterest. Brides. Couples. Using. Ideas. Boards. Why. How. Should.

Different Types of Wedding Exits

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How do you end your wedding? Do you just… turn on the house lights and tell everyone to go home? Trust us – if you don’t make a plan for the end of your wedding – that might actually happen. Because once the DJ is finished – it’s usually over. So why not end everything in style and put a perfect end cap to your amazing wedding day!

But how should you make that exit? Here’s how some of our past couples have made the walk.

1. Bubbles! (can be tricky – make sure someone cues everyone to start blowing bubbles at the perfect moment just before you start walking)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exits

2. High Fives & Harmonicas! 

Atlanta-Wedding-Exits-LeahAndMark-0011

3. Glow Sticks! (There was a fire advisory in the area so the couple couldn’t have sparklers for their exit – so they had glow sticks!)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark.com | Colorado Wedding

4. Party Poppers (… can be tricky… everyone held onto theirs so it all tangled and became a net that caught the couple and wouldn’t let them get away!)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exits

5. Streamers (attached to sticks!)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exits

6. A Parade (flanked by the groom’s mother and sister, this couple led all of their guests in a parade to their awaiting limo)

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exits

7. Driving a decorated golf cart while being pelted by lavender (I think it was lavender… or rice… I can’t remember…)

LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Wedding Photographers | North Carolina Wedding

8. Sparklers! (By far the most popular choice for exits at night! Honestly though – you want to get the foot long sparklers and not the shorter ones you can buy at the grocery store. Even if you have to have them brought in from a nearby state it’s totally worth it! They’re always selling them at the state line anyway (fireworks of that level aren’t legal for sale here in Georgia.)

Atlanta-Wedding-Exits-LeahAndMark-0005

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exits

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark.com | Vintage | Moder

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark.com | Vintage | Rustic | Modern | Portfolio

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exits

 

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

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Atlanta Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Mark RoX Tioxon

Atlanta Wedding Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Wedding Exit Ideas | Sparklers | Bubbles | Glow Sticks | Streamers |Videography | Videographer | Video

LeahAndMark.com Booklist

Photography Books Marketing Business | Making Ideas Happen | Behance | LeahAndMark

So. We have a reading list. Or rather – a suggested reading list. Kind of.

If you’re new to these parts – we have Interns. Every three months we take on 6-8 new photography interns. We also hold a photography business/marketing workshop for them. See.

In that workshop we tell them everything we’ve learned and everything we know (that’s about 5 minutes of the whole thing, the rest of the time we just watch Empire Records.) So here are some books and some reasons why you should read them. Or at least take pictures with them to make it look like you’ve read them.

Making Ideas Happen

More important than anything else – we have ideas. About business, marketing, and even a few about photography. The biggest problem we face is focusing (just kidding, we shoot Nikon so we don’t have that problem) – and actually executing those ideas to finish. We had to stop jumping from project to project, leaving each one before they’d ever get completed. (Well – I’ll admit that this was mostly my problem and not Leah’s.) So… I still have this problem, but I’m sure that if I followed more of the stuff in this book… I’d have less of this problem 🙂

Rework

So… some of the criticism about this book is that it’s not exactly realistic. It kind of suggest that you operate in some alternate reality that’s different from the real world. That’s exactly why I like it. In case you haven’t noticed – we’re very much not interested in the real world at all. Considering that in the last two years (while everyone is/was looking for jobs) Leah and I started our own photography business, we now travel all over the United States photographing weddings, and we have an Intern Armyreality is a fun thing that we like to mess with.

One of our favorite points:

Ignore the real world. “That would never work in the real world.” You hear it all the time when you tell people about a fresh idea. This real world sounds like an awfully depressing place to live. It’s a place where new ideas, unfamiliar approaches, and foreign concepts ALWAYS lose. The only things that win are what people already know and do, even if those things are flawed and inefficient.

The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.

The photography market is ridiculously over-saturated, particularly here in Atlanta.  When we started our Intern program, and our 100% money back guarantee, and we held onto our general view that ‘your-gear-does-not-matter’, we got a few odd stares (or worse) from local photographers. It’s understandable. Who were we to have Interns and start ‘teaching’ people whatever it was that we knew about photography? We didn’t go to photography school.  We started our business with a single Nikon D40 and just the kit lens. We found out that we could do a lot if we learned how to really use our little entry level D40. Stuff like this.

Your reality can be different. It just takes an insane amount of hard work and requires help from a lot of good people.

Photography Books Marketing Business | Rework | LeahAndMark

Photography Books Marketing Business | Rework | LeahAndMark

The Hot Shoe Diaries

Opposite of how most photographers start learning – I learned how to shoot with off-camera flash long before I ever really focused on natural light. It was just more fun. I could control EVERYTHING about the scene. This book helped with that education.

I think going from off-camera flash photography first and then over to natural light – really helped in how I see light. There’s just a big shift from being able to control ALL of the light and then not controlling ANY of it. You notice what you would change. You notice what you can’t change. Compared to many ‘natural-light’ photographers who haven’t worked with off-camera flash. They really don’t know about all of the possibilities. I’m not saying that all ‘natural-light’ photographers just don’t know how to effectively light a scene – I’m saying that a good number of them probably don’t.

Photography Books Marketing Business | Hot Shoe Diaries, Joe McNally | LeahAndMark

Photography Books Marketing Business | Hot Shoe Diaries, Joe McNally | LeahAndMark

Your Marketing Sucks.

It’s not a perfect book. But it has the right attitude – which might even turn you off – and that’s okay. Because this marketing book is about making money. Not building your ‘brand’ or just ‘advertising for brand awareness’ – it’s about marketing that brings in clients and sales. Sure it has it’s faults, but like I said – it’s not a perfect book. What I do like about it is that it doesn’t sugar coat anything and it feels a little rough. Like direct marketing. I love direct marketing. I love midway carnies. You know – the people who work the midway and try as hard as they can to get you to throw oversized softballs and try to get them into the milk jugs with openings that are too small.

I’m not saying rip people off – but I am saying that in the end – no matter how you want to put it – our photography business is about finding clients and making sales. Any feelings of ‘making art’ go out the window when we need to pay some bills and buy food. I don’t want nice or pretty marketing that wins any artistic awards – I want stuff that brings in clients.

(We don’t have a picture – but an even better book is: Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts

Photography Books Marketing Business | Your Marketing Sucks | LeahAndMark

Photography Books Marketing Business | Your Marketing Sucks | LeahAndMark

Ogilvy on Advertising.

Going back to what I said earlier – I want marketing that brings in clients, not pretty advertising that just sits there. Ogilvy is a big advocate of giving readers as much information as possible in an ad for them to digest. His advertising was almost always very text heavy. Sure it had photos – but it also persuaded people to take action – specifically, spend their money.

Photographers like to say, “I want my photos to speak for themselves.” – Yeah. They do. And what they rarely say is HIRE ME. What most photographs say – even really awesome excellent ones – is ‘I’m a great photographer’. And that’s as far as it goes in a viewer’s head. Viewers/potential clients rarely take the next step and connect it to “I need photography and I should hire this person.” Unless you tell them to do that. What’s that called? It’s called asking for the sale. A call to action.

Any sales or marketing person will tell you that no matter what – you must actually ask for the sale. Photographers that want their ‘photos to speak for themselves’ are in NO WAY asking for the sale. So that’s what we do. Heck – do you see up top in the menu bar? We don’t have ‘services’ or ‘investment’ up there. We have HIRE US TODAY. Not only does it say HIRE US – but it says TODAY. That’s what we want you to do.

We don’t want you to ‘Services’ or to ‘Investment’ us – we want you to HIRE US TODAY.

Ogilvy on Advertising. Buy this book.

Photography Books Marketing Business | Ogilvy on Advertising | LeahAndMarkPhotography Books Marketing Business | Ogilvy on Advertising | LeahAndMark

Within the Frame.

One of the best books on actual, practical photography theory as it is today – by someone who knows how to get those thoughts out of his head and down onto paper in a way you can understand, and be inspired by. Buy It.

Photography Books Marketing Business | Within The Frame | LeahAndMark

Photography Books Marketing Business | Within The Frame | LeahAndMark

Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 most powerful film conventions every filmmaker should know

You know what movies are? They’re 24 frames per second. 24 still photos strung together in a row.

Movies are live action comic book panels. There are fundamentals to cinematic storytelling and if you’re a ‘photojournalistic’ photographer then you’d better know how to tell a story. Not just ‘capture’ emotion or the ‘feelings’ of a day, or any other ways you want to label that flowery BS marketing you have on your photography website.

You owe it to yourself and your clients to really study and learn how to tell a story with visual images – in a series. Buy this book. 

Photography Books Marketing Business | Cinematic Storytelling | LeahAndMark

Photography Books Marketing Business | Cinematic Storytelling | LeahAndMark

Thanks. See you soon.

 

I’ve been ‘Let Go’

As the title of this entry suggests, I’ve been let go from my job. Laid off. (Although I have never liked that term.) It happened yesterday afternoon around 1:30pm, relatively non-eventful and without any dramatic scenes. Basically, since I had changed departments a few weeks earlier and hadn’t ever unpacked my boxes – I grabbed the two of them, walked to my car and drove off – after deleting all of the junk I could from my work computer – mostly loose files that don’t mean anything to anyone except myself – just in time too because the IT guys arrived right after I had logged off…

Of course this isn’t my first time losing my job due to the industry/slowdown/company troubles. However, this one is slightly more inconvenient. Plus I’m not getting anywhere near the same amount of severance. I will say that telecommuting, and being a bit stubborn has helped in that I was paid ALL of my vacation time – even though arguably I wasn’t in the office for almost 6 weeks this year – but nothing’s on paper, and in the end I always completed my job duties. Although not much, the vacation pay helps greatly.

So while there is that initial stress of ‘not having a job’ – I can’t freak out yet. Not yet. I’m waiting on 2.5 jobs to get back to me with an answer so I’ve at the very least got to get through the weekend without freaking out. And still – it’s like red alert around here. Cost cutting measures and reduction. With real efforts towards curbing spending and such, we’ll be fine for at least two months – and that’s if I do NOTHING during that whole time (which obviously will not be the case.)

But I’m awake again today at 4:30am because I feel like I have to keep to my normal schedule… If I do not keep myself busy I will fall into that slump, that depression or overwhelming high anxiety that I suppose some people get after something like this happens.

And yet, we still went to our regular Wednesday night StandUp for Kids outreach – where we work/counsel/provide food and hygiene packs to at risk, about to be homeless and homeless RIGHT NOW kids. And although it’s very easy to become disillusioned with them, with their no action and lack of progress – lately I’ve been working with two youths whom I actually connect with. They live in an abandoned school which I’m sure is quite condemned. It’s been raining a lot here lately and I know the place leaks and floods badly. They didn’t even have flashlights until I gave them a few last night.

And while they may have made some unwise choices such as leaving their parents (which in cases like these is always a difficult call since MANY parents truly are that awful) – they are not like so many of the other kids. At least to me. They communicate. They don’t have that ungrateful attitude of entitlement that many other streetkids present (and I’m not saying that I don’t understand the facades that many have to take on). I simply feel like these two genuinely appreciate the help I give them, and are not taking advantage of the system that to a degree does enable their lifestyle.

Sure they have to turn some corners such as getting their birth certificates so that they can get an ID so that they can get jobs – but that’s in the works… and we’ll see how that actually goes. However until they let me down – but more importantly themselves down – I am left with thinking about them going back to that abandoned school that’s been flooded by the rain, and sleeping there at night.

That was yesterday.