I’m Engaged! (September 10 on 10)

August had to have been one of the busier months I have ever been through– We traveled a lot (Portland, NYC, Connecticut, and Northern California), I twisted my ankle, friends visited, friends got married, other friends had babies, these babies turned one year old (!!!), we signed a lease to a bigger place and moved out of our little cabin we loved so dearly, and somewhere in the middle of all this, we got engaged.

And the way he proposed was so incredibly romantic and creative, I decided to share the proposal with you for this month’s 10 on 10.

One of our many adventures last month was a planned trip to Northern California to stay in the Redwoods. My boss had decided a few months prior to shut down the office the last week of August, so Anthony and I decided to take advantage and go on a road trip. We rented a cabin which was secluded on a mountaintop overlooking the rolling hills towards the ocean.

We climbed a long winding staircase up this hillside to this cabin, which for someone as out of shape as I am, is no easy feat. We got to the top, put our things down, and toyed with the idea of leaving. “You can drive all over Northern California looking for the most beautiful spot,” the owner of the property, told us, “but my father always said that the most beautiful spot in the world is right here.”

We decided to forgo sightseeing until tomorrow, so I drew a bath in the hot tub outside. I poured some wine, turned on music, and put out some cheese and crackers. The sun was setting, and I got in. It was time to vacation.

Anthony “had to go grab some clothes to change into” and went inside. He came out holding some clothes wrapped around what was obviously a box. He got in, and told me he loved me. Then he presented me with the box he so poorly hid. Inside was this stunning piece of jewelry, designed and hand-made by our incredibly talented friend Leah. It was a locket in the shape of a beetle, and when I lifted the wings, my dog was etched in bronze inside. I cried. Sobbed. Never in my life has anyone put so much time, thought, and effort into a gift. “Will you marry me?” he asked. “Duh, idiot. Yes.” I replied through my tears.

So that’s how he proposed: in a hot tub, as the sun was setting behind the hills, like a scene from a romance novel or an SNL skit. We weren’t able to have phone service to call anyone until the next day, when my mother screamed into my ear. We read, drove around, he proposed two more times in the trunk of a redwood (that can be the version I tell Grandma). We watched Hot Tub Time Machine 2 about six times because it was the only movie we downloaded on the iPad.

I’ll go into the entire process and story of The Beetle in a post very soon, but in the meantime, here are a few photos from our trip.

(And if you are wondering, I don’t have an engagement ring yet– he’s letting me design my own ring! I should have that in a couple months.)

Other photographers in the 10 on 10 project are:

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Utah Road Trip! June 10 on 10

I just got back from an amazing road trip through Utah with my boyfriend Anthony and my dog. We went to the Big 5 national parks (Arches, Capital Reef, Zion, Canyonlands and Bryce Canyon) and camped for four nights in some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes I have ever been to.

Anthony also got a new camera (the Sony a6000) and we had some time to play around with it! Some of these photos were taken by me, others by him. This is a collaborative 10 on 10 😉

Other photographers involved in the 10 on 10 project this month:

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10 on 10 : Happy Mother’s Day!

Hi All!

I’m so sorry this 10 on 10 is coming a day late. Looks like I have been slacking the last couple months! I apologize.

This month, in honor of Mother’s Day (which happened yesterday on the real 10 on 10 day!) I’m showing you 10 photos of awesome moms I had the privilege to photograph last month. It’s been busy!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms in the world.

Other photographers in the 10 on 10 project this month are:

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10 on 10 April 2015 : Hearst Castle and Nitt Witt Ridge in Cambria, CA

So, some of you may have realized that I didn’t have a 10 on 10 last month! I’m sorry about that. But to make up for it, this month I’m giving you 20 photos from my recent trip to Hearst Castle. Anthony and I also stopped over to see Nitt Witt Ridge, a house that was built completely out of shells, beer cans, and other garbage. Both places were incredible to see and were a nice contrast to each other. If you ever find yourself in beautiful Cambria, make sure to see both of these spots.

Be sure to check out the other 10 on 10-ers this month:

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Yoga with Olive – 10 on 10 Collaboration Project

So since last month I tried to figure out what I would do for my next 10 on 10. I have been wanting a remote shutter release for my camera for a while, so after Christmas I finally bought one. Then I wanted to play with it, and I thought it would be fun to document what it’s like to exercise at home with a dog.

I have been getting back into yoga for the last few months after a long hiatus, so I thought it  fitting to practice my asanas and show you the  added mental challenge a pet brings to your practice. I also find it pretty entertaining because I love my dog a lot and she kisses me at inappropriate moments. (For more #yogawithOlive follow me on Instagram!)

Speaking of mental challenges, I signed up for a 30 day Bikram challenge that starts the day after Valentine’s day. I have never ever done anything remotely like this and it will be a miracle if I actually finish it, but we’ll see. Any words of encouragement or advice you may have are welcome in the comments below.

Check out the other photographers in the 10 on 10 project:

(For more #yogawithOlive follow me on Instagram!)

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What I Have Learned So Far: 6 Tips for Starting Out in a Creative Field

I recently got an email from a burgeoning photographer asking for advice on where to start. It made me think about how I got started, and after this post on Oh Joy I thought it would be good to go into more detail about my journey to where I am now and share some of the advice I gave him about starting out. I’ll speak specifically to my experience as a photographer, however, I truly believe this could translate into any creative field.

 

Please keep in mind that this is is 100% a look back on my own experience so far. I am still pretty new to the game and am by no means a professional life coach. I am simply passing along some words of wisdom that I have learned from my mentors, which I have taken to heart. I have been using this advice for years to work towards my (many) career goals. I am still and feel like I will always be trying to reach another goal. It’s the curse of being an artist — you’ll most likely never feel like you’ve “made it.”

 

It’s really easy to look at someone who is more advanced in their career and feel deflated comparing where you are to where they are. The main thing to keep in mind when you are starting out is that the person you look up to also was in your shoes not too long ago. They didn’t instantly wake up one morning as a successful creative. It takes a lot of work, energy, persistence, and a tiny bit of luck (but mostly, a lot of work).

 

1. How do I transition from turning my a hobby into a profession?

 

The main thing you need to focus on is getting together a cohesive portfolio and putting together a website. There are many many resources that are easily Googleable (is that a word?) that can help you, whether it’s making a photo blog on Tumblr or creating a multi-page site through Squarespace or WordPress. It’s easier to put together a website than you think. I made my website from purchasing a template through this site and loading it into WordPress.

If you want to be a photographer for anything involving people, it may feel impossible to get started. Shooting people, especially important life events like someone’s wedding, involves gaining their trust.

 

When I started, I reached out to a ton of friends and acquaintances and offered them a free photo shoot in exchange for help with building my portfolio. People have a hard time refusing free things. I feel like for a solid year, all of my work was either offered for free or for a highly highly discounted price. I wanted to shoot weddings but knew no one that was getting married, so I started by creating mock engagement sessions with friends of mine who were dating and willing to help me build a portfolio. If for some reason no one you know wants to get a free shoot, offer up your services on Craigslist. All you have to say is that you need models/couples that are willing to pose for you in exchange for free photos. Sometimes those people will like the outcome so much that when they do need to hire a photographer, you will stand out in their mind. A lot of couples who are getting married are working on a tight budget, and this may be just what they need!

 

Here are a few photos I shot for free in order to get my website started:

 

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2. How do I afford to live if I’m offering my services for little to no money?

 

You can’t live off of free work. I get that. Which is why when I went into this, I had already come to terms with the fact that I pretty much wouldn’t have any days off. I was willing to work a full time job to make money while I dedicated all my free time to shooting, editing, researching how to run a photo business and building my portfolio and website. You need to be willing to shoot for little to nothing while you build your portfolio. You also need to come to terms with sacrificing your weekend to your work, especially if you want to be a wedding photographer. 99% of weddings are on weekends, anyway, so you need to say a fond farewell to your Saturday morning cartoons and sacrifice at least a good part of your day off to work. If you aren’t willing to do this, you seriously need to reconsider your career goals.

 

Another thing I did when I was starting was I took my camera out with me whenever I had to go somewhere. I took a ton street photography. I still do. You may get some confused looks but don’t feel self conscious. The wonderful thing about this country is you are free to photograph anyone in a public place without needing their permission. (Don’t get this confused with being able to shoot anywhere. Sometimes you need to get permission if you want to shoot at certain locations). This will also help you with getting comfortable taking candid shots. The main trick of taking candid photos is that you need to be good at observing people, so go people watching! I use my experiences from shooting street photography at all my weddings.

 

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3. I want to learn from a professional, but no one has responded to my emails when I reached out. How do I get real world experience if no one is willing to help me?

 

This was one of my biggest hurdles when I started. I spent a lot of time reaching out to people, and I had a lot of photographers say no to me, or not respond at all. You need to come to peace with the idea of being rejected. This business is very competitive, and you are a potential threat to other working professionals.

 

Once you have your online portfolio together (which really should be a website or blog dedicated to the work you want to do, not just a Flickr or photo stream of every picture you have ever taken), send it out to as many working professionals in your area as possible. And one of the most important things to remember when you are putting yourself out there is this: do your research. Stroke their ego. Make each photographer feel special. Look at their website, find photos you like and tell them why you like their work specifically. Tell them why their work inspires you and why you want to work with them and learn from them. Don’t just write a blanket email and blindly send the same email off to a bunch of people. It won’t feel like you care.

 

One of my biggest jobs at Oh Joy is reviewing submissions to her blog. We get a ton of submissions every day. It’s common for me to get to work and have an inbox of 100 or more e-mails from people wanting to get featured on her site. When you e-mail someone, you cannot go into it thinking that you are the only person that lands in their inbox. You need to stand out. And in order to stand out, you need to come off as genuine. I immediately will disregard e-mails from people who are obviously copying and pasting the same email and sending it off in mass.

 

Address the e-mail to that person, tell them why you like them specifically, and show them what you are capable of. If you don’t get a response within a week, feel free to send a follow up. Sometimes things get pushed aside for more pressing matters. Sometimes I will just forget to send a response if it isn’t urgent. It’s ok to send a little “hey, remember me?” reminder. However, only send ONE brief follow up, no sooner than a week after your first e-mail. If you don’t hear back after the follow up, move on, because the answer is more than likely “no.”

 

I learned this from my very first mentor in the working world, Mandy Stadtmiller. Not only does she know her shit but she taught me everything I needed to know and was the only person who gave me a chance and took me under her wing when I was starting out. I looked for work for 6 months before I met Mandy, and I worked for her as an intern and gave up my time for free in order to learn from her. It was one of the best decisions of my life to work for her, even though it wasn’t necessarily making me a ton of money, I learned invaluable lessons from her about working in a creative field.

 

You will get a lot of “no’s” from people, but all you need is one yes. The worst that can happen from putting yourself out there is you will be told no. If you persist enough, it’s only a matter of time before someone says “yes.”

 

Here is the article I wrote while I worked for Mandy, while I was looking for a job in the creative industry after I graduated. I think it’s a good piece to read if you feel like you are always getting “no” and still looking for your “yes.”

 

4. I don’t want to be a wedding photographer.  I want to shoot editorial/lifestyle/fashion/music/nature/food. How did you get hired as the photographer for Oh Joy?

 

I didn’t get hired as a photographer for Oh Joy. If I could go back in time to when I applied to work at Oh Joy and told Past Me that I would eventually be doing what I do now for her, Past Me would probably slap Present Me across the face and call me a dirty liar. I started working for Joy with the expectation that my job would include everything but the creative work. I was hired on as her part-time administrative assistant that also did some personal assistant tasks. I still do those things, but now I also get to do the fun things too.

 

Be willing to wear many hats when you start out. I really liked and looked up to Joy before I ever applied to work for her. I read an interview with her 2 years before I even saw the job posting on her site. I remember the conversation I had with my friend, Lindy, who showed me the article. “No fair,” we said, “I wish I could get paid to go around and create pretty things and eat cupcakes all day!” So, naturally, when I saw this job posting, I figured that I may be doing menial tasks, but I’d also get to eat cupcakes all day while doing menial tasks. I also knew that this woman was a business, and I could learn a TON of information for my own career goals while also doing menial tasks and eating cupcakes.

 

So, I was able to get hired as an administrative assistant but then I also mentioned that I wanted to eventually be a photographer. Boom. I made myself an added asset, while also being useful to her from a business perspective. When I started working for Oh Joy, I had already had a website and had done all the beginning work in #1, 2 and 3. I was able to prove to her that I was capable of shooting something for her blog, and after a few months she graciously gave me the opportunity to shoot something for her blog. This first attempt was definitely not my best work, but little by little I adjusted to fit her aesthetic and I kept practicing with my camera to learn how to be a better photographer. Now, I shoot for her almost every single day, and I even got to photograph her new book. Not too bad for someone who only expected to be a part-time administrative assistant.

 

I wasn’t afraid of “no” by offering to photograph something for her if she needed it. Joy knew plenty of more talented photographers (her husband being one) that she could easily have shoot for her blog. But after some trust was built, she gave me a chance.

 

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My other advice is to offer your services to unexpected places. I started shooting at local animal shelters to photograph the dogs and cats that needed to get adopted. Again, I didn’t charge for my services.

 

5. So I have my portfolio website together. I have shot for free for what feels like forever. What do I do now?

 

Stop telling people you will shoot them for free. If you have enough work that you feel you are ready to start getting paid, you have to stop saying yes to free work. Put yourself out there. Apply for photo contests. Submit your work to blogs. Take out an ad somewhere. Tell your friends to suggest you to anyone they may know that’s getting married. Use all your available outlets, especially social media, to be your own PR. Someone will bite.

 

6. I like how your work looks so natural. How do I get my subjects to be comfortable in front of the camera?

 

Whenever I work with anyone new, I consider every photo shoot as me hanging out with those people while I also happen to have my camera with me. Once you find someone to model for you, plan to shoot where you and they will feel comfortable. Maybe choose a park or somewhere unique so you can have a beautiful backdrop. Pose the couple together somewhere and shoot them in the environment just like you shoot street or landscape photography. Focus on the surroundings just as much as you focus on the couple.

 

If you need tips on getting a more natural shot, tell them to interact with each other and pretend the camera isn’t there. I usually use the trick of “testing the light” so that your subject has no idea if you’re actually shooting something for real.  All the photos you get could be “for real” but your subject doesn’t need to know that. Sometimes my favorite photos I get are when I’m “just testing the light.” Let your subjects know it’s ok if they talk to each other, dance, make each other laugh etc.

 

I try and keep actual posing to a minimum, unless I specifically want a certain shot (like of the engagement ring or a bouquet). In the instance where I need a certain shot, I will say “Hold your hand here, I’m not shooting your face so do whatever you’d like.” Then I’ll take some shots to include their natural expression. Sometimes a bride will take that moment to glance over at her maid of honor, who happens to be in tears from watching her best friend get married, and in turn she’ll shed a tear or giggle from seeing that. You just captured an intimate, genuinely emotional moment of the day. No posed shot can trump a candid moment, in my opinion.

 

Page not found | Casey Brodley, Photographer | Los Angeles Documentary Wedding Photographer | Wedding Photojournalist Southern California | Destination Wedding Photography | Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer | Los Angeles Lifestyle Family and Wedding Photographer

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I hope some of this has helped. Thank you SO MUCH for reading. I’m sorry for the length! If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment below! Or let me know what YOU learned in your own career journey.

 

Page not found | Casey Brodley, Photographer | Los Angeles Documentary Wedding Photographer | Wedding Photojournalist Southern California | Destination Wedding Photography | Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer | Los Angeles Lifestyle Family and Wedding Photographer

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10 on 10 Collaboration Project, Post 19

This month I decided to make my 10 on 10 a little different. One night I was trying to find writing inspiration prompts online because sometimes the best inspiration hits when you are doing some stream-of-conciousness writing. So as I was writing down some random phrases in my journal, I thought, “How fun would it be if I could translate these into photos?

So I wrote down some words and phrases and took my camera on a little street photography mission. And that’s when I realized how much street art is in LA, particularly murals. I walked around Hollywood one afternoon and stumbled across so many murals that were within block of each other. So, I started snapping. And I love how the grandness of scale of these murals contrast with the surroundings. I titled each image a mural with one of the phrases I wrote down in my journal.

Other photographers involved in the 10 on 10 project are:

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10 on 10 Collaboration Project, Post 18

So, I was going to have a TOTALLY different post because I went to MAGIC CASTLE last night, but they unfortunately don’t allow photography inside the castle. It’s super top secret and totally exclusive and important and fun and I’m really sad I couldn’t take photos.

But worry not! I have some cute baby photos to make up for it.

Meet Katherine. I met her last month when she was less than a week old! She is the newest addition to the beautiful Goodwin family and she is settling in quite well. And, of course, Vivienne is as cute as ever!

Congrats, Goodwins!

Other photographers involved in the 10 on 10 project:

Page not found | Casey Brodley, Photographer | Los Angeles Documentary Wedding Photographer | Wedding Photojournalist Southern California | Destination Wedding Photography | Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer | Los Angeles Lifestyle Family and Wedding Photographer

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Joshua Tree Wedding : Kirk + Nikka

Wow. What a way to end my wedding season.

Kirk and Nikka’s wedding does not need much of an introduction. Their love for each other is so apparent that it radiates from the pictures. These two had been together for ten years— they met while moving into their freshman dorm!

Nikka planned this day down to the T, which you can see in every detail included below. It’s amazing how much work went into this day. I had a really hard time narrowing down these pictures, which I was able to capture alongside my super talented boyfriend turned second shooter. I will definitely be employing him again because he did a great job and I really loved bossing him around.

Congratulations, Kirk and Nikka!

Page not found | Casey Brodley, Photographer | Los Angeles Documentary Wedding Photographer | Wedding Photojournalist Southern California | Destination Wedding Photography | Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer | Los Angeles Lifestyle Family and Wedding Photographer

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