The Business Of An Open Heart

I wrote my mission statement late one night when Andrew was three months old.   Like most mothers with newborns, I was hugely sleep deprived and emotional– probably the best time for me to uncover the raw truth of what is at my core.  In this outpouring stream of consciousness…. there it was, right in black and white, under the bold heading of: “I will strive to incorporate the following attributes into my life”

Welcoming new people and situations with and open heart

When I looked again in the bright light of morning I thought  “Whoa! Where did that come from? And where was my heart closed?”

Wharton professor and social psychologist Adam Grant proposes in his new book, Give and Take, that there are three types of people you will interact with professionally. Givers are people who give freely without asking for anything in return.  Matchers are defined as people who tend to give when they anticipate they will get something in return.  And you know those friends and professional acquaintances that call us only when they need or want something?  They’re the Takers.

While we all tend to be combination, most of us lean towards one of these three orientations when it comes to business.  For a long time, my natural inclination was towards being a giver. I love to teach, to surprise someone with kindness, and help others achieve a goal they didn’t know or think was possible.  Yet, over time, this resounding feeling of being “taken advantage of” began to gnaw on that giving. There was the teaching partner who photocopied my educational material and sold workshop seats with it, claiming the materials as their own.  Or the author who asked me to fill out a lengthy survey for assistance with content and when then book was published, my name was left out as a reference.  Suddenly the giving felt more like naivety and I pulled back within my industry to become much more private.


photo by Alonis

Yet, Grant may argue that if I were truly a giver, this wouldn’t matter because someone out there benefitted from that content – even if I wasn’t provided credit for it.  And that should be enough for me to move on and continue to give, with the happiness to know that it most likely helped someone.  So why wasn’t that my first reaction?  Did I really need to pull back to the degree that I did?  Was I really a Matcher after all?  We all want to see ourselves in our best light, but only when we see the shadow can our wholeness come to bear.  Maybe I did have a little Matcher in me after all and the question I had for myself is what I was going to do with that fact.

After hearing Adam speak during his book tour I was able to tie this all together and realize how much I needed his message.  Yes, I might have a little Matcher in me, but I am far more comfortable (and happier) being a Giver.  With Adam in my head, I know I need to continue to have an open heart in each professional interaction.  When I look back on my life, I will be proud of caring for the people I was able to have a positive influence on, instead of worrying about the few that screwed me.

By now you may be saying to yourself “Thanks for the Kumbaya, Laura.  I have no doubt that being a giver makes unicorns and rainbows fly out of your arse…  but what does this have to do with business?” That is the beauty of Adam’s research – Givers do very well in business in the long-term.  Reputational capital if you will, pays huge dividends.

While Takers and Matchers tend to win shorter-term rewards, Givers tend to win out over the long haul because of their reputation as a trusted resource or ally within their fields.   Although Takers tend to find success in their 20s and 30s since they elbow everyone else out, Givers are more successful in their 40s and 50s because they have a huge network of people just dying to help them out and give back.  Of course, giving because you think it will eventually pay off is not the point, but its interesting research nonetheless.

Adam is just one man’s opinion, but it is the voice I been listening to lately and it has worked and is working for me.  So whenever I get a request, I think about truly if I can accommodate it – and if I cannot for some reason I really try to take the time to point the person in the right direction.  Maybe it will come back some day and maybe it won’t, but for me it fulfills my desire to approach every new situation with an open heart.

Laura-NovakI’m in no way saying I’m perfect about having an open heart, the little Matcher in the shadows takes care of that.  What I am saying is that the practice of being present to each interaction has proven enormously valuable to me.  In my creative business (and I suspect most creative businesses), relationship is everything.  Mindfulness is key.  If I can catch myself, I try to remember that I’d like to look back and be grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact, to value the opportunity in front of me instead of what it will bring me in the future.  Yes, a few jerks and Takers slip through every now and then.  So be it.  Giving is its own reward.

Laura Novak has over 10 years of wedding photography experience, and her work has been featured on numerous national and international publications. Visit Laura’s site,, to download a sample album that she used to generate over 1.2 million dollars in wedding business. Laura in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, John, and baby, Andrew.

Photocrati Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals – Some From Our Friends Too

For the first time ever we are offering a big discount on the Photocrati theme.  But that’s not all we’re offering!  In honor of Black Friday & Cyber Monday we are also offering deals on the Photographer’s SEO Community and NextGEN Gallery Pro.  Each of our deals are available from November 29th – December 2nd, 2013.

Below are those details, and following that are other deals from our friends.

Photocrati Black Friday

For Black Friday & Cyber Monday you can take 27% off the Photocrati theme, making it $65. To top off the deal we are throwing in our SEO eBook which is normally $39 at the Photographer’s SEO Community.  The price will automatically be applied to those purchasing.

Photocrati is a uniquely powerful WordPress theme used by over 17,000 photographers. It’s an all-in-one solution: website & galleries & blog. With it you can create your portfolio, sell photographs with eCommerce galleries and so much more. There are 60 beautiful, built-in styles to get started, additional styles in the free design library and you can customize everything easily without knowing code.

Photo SEO Black Friday

Speaking of the Photographer’s SEO Community, we’re also offering 55% off the annual membership to the community.  The community includes our eBooks, videos, private forums, SEO hubs and more. So instead of $99 a year you can join and improve your photography website’s SEO for only $44.55 a year by using the coupon code BFRIDAY.

The community is filled with tons of educational information and guidance to help your photography website rank higher in search engines.  See what’s included in the Photo SEO community.

NextGEN Gallery Black Friday

Last, but definitely not least, is a large 25% discount on our premium plugin, NextGEN Gallery Pro.  Normally priced at $39 a year, but now only $29 a year for a limited time.  The price will automatically be applied to those purchasing.

NextGEN Gallery is the most popular WordPress gallery plugin available with over 8 million downloads!  NextGEN Gallery Pro is the premium upgrade to the free plugin with enhanced and modern gallery styles, an exclusive Pro Lightbox and so much more.  NextGEN Gallery Pro is a complete gallery management and portfolio solution with over 10 beautiful gallery and album display types, and all full responsive.  The Pro Lightbox is fullscreen and includes individual photo commenting and social sharing.

To recap, here are the deals:

These deals are only valid from November 29th to December 2nd so take advantage of them before it’s too late.

To keep the Black Friday & Cyber Mondays deals coming, here are some that our friends are offering:

  • The Law Tog – 30% all photography contrast using BlackFri30
  • The Modern Tog – Save over $50 on business, finances and marketing products.
  • Psychology for Photographers – $50 off Irresistible Website & Irresistible Words, $109 off Business Library Pack
  • Photography Spark SEO eBook – 60% off SEO Cookbook
  • MCP Actions – 10% storewide on all Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions using the coupon code mcpthanks
  • Steel Toe Images – Pay-what-you-wish Angela’s Worth More eBook + free bonus worksheet
  • Scott Wyden Imagery – 20% off eBooks and presets using the code THANKSGIVINGUKKAH
  • Think Tank Photo –  $50 rebate on rolling camera bags or $100 if combined with an Urban Disguise shoulder bag.
  • Borrow Lenses – 10% off rentals + 4 extra days using the coupon code TURKEYGEAR13
  • Colorvale Actions – 40% off using the coupon code HAPPYTHANKS40 on Black Friday only
  • Topaz Labs – $50 off their complete Collection using the promo code blackfriday2013
  • Laura Novak Education – 40% wedding photography tools using the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY
  • Photography Concentrate –  40% off photography tutorials through Cyber Monday
  • A Small Orange – GOBBLE13 for a discount on shared hosting, TREAT13 for a discount on add-ons and CHEER14 for a discount on hybrid and dedicated plans
  • My Photo Biz Coach – 50% off the Be A  Rock Star Self-Study Workshop
  • Capturing Beauty – 50% off anything in the shop
  • Amazon has a variety of Black Friday deals.
  • Design Aglow Frame & Paper Shop – 15% everything in both shops using the coupon code THANKS
  • WP Engine – 4 months of free WordPress hosting using the coupon code cyberhostspecial13
  • Pixifi – 25% off online studio management system
  • Bluehost – 50% their annual hosting plan making it $3.95 per month and includes a free 1 year domain registration

Pregnancy Photo Shoot: Hints and Tips

Being pregnant is an important and emotional time in any women’s life, and an event that doesn’t happen very often. That is why many pregnant women are looking for ways of preserving the memory of being pregnant and the impact it has on the body. More recently, more women are looking at hiring a professional photographer for the perfect images.  So in light of all this we have decided to put together a list of definitive tips that will make the shoot the best it can be including information on where the shoot should take place but what mother-to-be should wear also.


© Scott Wyden Kivowitz

Where to shoot

Take the Shoot Outdoors:

Whilst so many photo shoots are completed indoors, and there various reasons for that, such as privacy and comfort but why not take the shoot on the road and enhance the images you will have taken.  Taking a natural photograph in the outdoors can be the perfect way so show the beauty of a woman who is ready to bring a new life into the world against a beautiful background of a sunrise draws lovely parallels about nature and will produce great photographic results.

Stay at Home Shoots:

Shooting at home means that the mother-to-be could be more relaxed in a way which has positive effects on the photograph.  Creating a comfortable environment is a good idea also as it encapsulates a moment in time what their life was like when they decided to create a family and how it came to be that their baby became part of it.  A simple photograph setting, for example, could be in the nursery in black and white, waiting on the forthcoming arrival of her child.

What to Wear


For the photo-shoot it’s important to remember that you’re not going to be the main attraction the photographer wants, but the bump itself. This requires you to wear clothing that isn’t extravagant or over the top, but plain colours that doesn’t draw attention to you. Darker more bold colours are more popular with women as it does the job of making the bump stand out more than it already does.  Unless you want the images to look more at you rather than the bump then clothing such as scarfs or towels can give the glowing effect you may be after.

Loose clothing:

Some pieces of clothing like socks and jeans can make a pattern on your skin that you won’t want to show while getting your photos taken. Before you turn up, make sure you are wearing comfortable loose clothing that you know won’t be tight to your skin. Dresses, skirts and loose fitting tops are the popular choice to wear before a shoot.

Accessories and effects:

Clothing accessories are good at creating certain effects or to just add colour to the shoot. Some women choose to add baby toys to the image to emphasise that there is a real baby inside that is nearly born. Even simple hand gestures, such as a love heart formed around the bump can show the love for the unborn baby, more than just a picture can.

Michael Smith-Jones began his career doing wedding photography in Buckinghamshire and has since moved onto blogging about photography helping people organise everything from maternity photos to any other special occassion that people like to capture.

6 Tips For Photojournalism Students

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographers can expect a 13% employment growth between 2010 and 2020, which is about as fast as the average when compared to all other occupations. What this means for aspiring photographers and photojournalists is that no matter how many images people take and share with their smartphones, there’s still a market for trained photographers. If you’re about to graduate from a photojournalist program, there are a few things that you can do to become a better photojournalist and increase your chances of getting a job.

1. Act as Though You’re Always on Assignment

As you’re completing your photojournalism program, you’ll be better off shooting for yourself just as much and just as well as you do for all of your classes and professors. From the moment you wake up to the moment you rest your head on your pillow, you should always be on the lookout for subjects to shoot. Never stop taking pictures.

2. Create your Own Unique Style

As you’re getting the hang of the fundamentals of photography and DSLR cameras, try to start developing your very own vision and style. If you can, take a visual art class. The experts also recommend that you visit museums every now and then so that you can start to form an idea of how other photographers capture and present images and the elements that you’re learning about, such as lighting, depth of field and composition.

3. Always think of Photojournalism as a Business

There’s no need for you to become a starving, struggling artist in order to become a great artist. Technology and times have changed so that photojournalists and photographers now have more opportunities than ever to make money with point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. While you’re looking for work with local news outlets, you can also make money with holiday portraits, wedding photos and various other commercial and editorial outlets. There’s always an opportunity out there if you’re willing to look.


4. Promote Yourself

Technology has also made it easier for photojournalists to promote themselves. Use social media and create a website to showcase a portfolio of your work. You might even want to think about creating a photography blog where you talk about where your images were taken and how you managed to take them. Educate and entertain while you promote.

5. Maintain Full Rights to Your Work

It’s essential for writers, artist and photographers to copyright their work in order to protect themselves and to make the money that they deserve off of their work. You’ll also want to keep track of the use and the location of any archived and older images that you have.

6. Create your own Assignments

Rather than waiting to be handed an assignment from a news outlet, create, pitch and complete your own assignments. This gives you a chance to do work that you actually want to do and are passionate about instead of work that you may not be so enthusiastic about. This also shows your employer that you are driven, have initiative and are an independent thinker. This also gives you a chance to build up your portfolio in the way you see fit rather than having to create it from projects that you may or may not like.

In order to be a great photojournalist, you have to fully immerse yourself in the industry and take every opportunity that you can. You might not always like the images that you shoot, but at least you’re making a true effort.

This article was written by Jim North.

How to Use Social Media to Build Relationships with Customers

With the rise of social media as a marketing tool, there has been a fundamental shift in the way brands and consumers communicate. In traditional marketing channels, the conversation flows in one direction, but in the social media world, it’s a two way street. Fans and followers want to feel like they have a connection with your brand. This enhanced feeling of trust can lead to customers who prove valuable both short and long term.

Let’s take a look at some good ways to build relationships with your consumers using social media.

Focus and Tailor Your Content

Fans and followers come to your social spots to consume very specific types of content. It’s your job to determine exactly what your audience wants to see and where they would like to see it. Maybe it’s witty posts. Perhaps it an occasional photo or video that relates to your topic. Whatever it is, make sure it offers real value to your audience. In the social realm, you will find that fans and followers are far more partial to useful information than they are aggressive adverting pitches.

Encourage User Interaction

Every comment or conversation you encounter in the social channel is an opportunity to generate a positive experience and possibly even a sale. Whether it’s responding to post feedback or communicating via direct messages, interacting with fans is key if you want to build an engaged community. Positive interactions can help drive user into the purchase funnel by offering a one-on-one interaction with the brand. These interactions also give you an opportunity to address any questions or concerns that may serve as potential purchase barriers for prospects.

User interaction is critical, but keep in mind that building relationships takes time. The social web never sleeps and sometimes users can have unreasonable expectations. That’s why it’s important to set monitoring hours and even list your hours of availability in your social profile. This way, users know when you’re online to interact, and when you’re not.

Provide Great Customer Service

Not all interactions will be positive. Sometimes users will come to your channel with issues that they want addressed in a timely fashion. This is your opportunity to display your customer service skill to your whole audience. Use potentially negative issues to convert angry users into advocates by going above and beyond to solve their problems. They will in turn, spread the word throughout your community and possibly even come to your defense when other issues arise. Advocates can help carry your social media presence to new channels and are often early adopters of new products.

Make It Fun

Let’s face it —- social media can be loads of fun. Take advantage of that in your mission to build lasting relationships with fans and followers. There are many ways to use this channel to keep the experience fresh and exciting for your audience. For example, you can run contests, give away prizes, and even invite users to submit their own content. Just be sure you are respecting the rules of the playground as different social networks have their own terms and conditions regarding promotions. Keep your presence entertaining, and you’ll find your fan base growing in numbers and engagement.

Let them Tell Their Story

Open-ended questions and calls to share stories allow fans to feel like they have a share in your channel. After all, social media is for the user. Try to embrace all stories while keeping a relatively PG-13 feel about the community. You’ll be amazed by the stories you hear your users share and can elevate the best experiences to the rest of the community to further highlight your marketing message. Always remember that consumers are much more likely to trust their peers than they are a brand.

Be Smart In Your Marketing

Fight the urge to focus solely or too strongly on your products. Chances are, your fans are at least aware of what you have to offer. Focus on the lifestyle your product allows your consumer to have. The problems a product solves or the needs it fulfills are far more interesting than the characteristics of the product itself. These experiences create a common ground for users to interact on, making your content much more valuable and approachable in the end.

Moderate Wisely

Nothing will destroy a sense of community and relationships with your audience faster than making them feel as if they’re censored. Try limiting your moderation to only what is necessary, like foul language, vulgar comments, and irrelevant links or content. Anything good or bad posted about your brand should be left on your channel and responded to accordingly.

If you maintain transparency and exhibit excellent communication and customer service skills, you can build great relationships with your fans and followers.

What are your tips for building digital relationships?

Francis Santos is the Marketing Manager for Benchmark Email. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach and holds a degree in Journalism. In addition, he is also the executive editor for separate popular news blogs. Follow him on Twitter.

Instagram vs. Vine: Which is the Right Choice for Marketers?

6 seconds. 15 seconds. Filters. No filters. With Instagram and Vine both offering a wide array of features and limitations, it can be hard to decide which short form video application might be worth devoting time to. The fact of the matter is that each platform has pros and cons that should be carefully weighed before determining which application is right for your marketing needs.

Let’s take a close look at each.


Image via


Once Vine was purchased by Twitter, it opened a new type of dynamic media sharing on the network. You could shoot and share videos with little to no experience. The application uses a touch interface that allows users to capture video in short clips, quickly and easily. The sum of these clips is no longer than six seconds and can be instantly shared on Twitter.


Though it doesn’t necessarily compare to YouTube, Vine does have its advantages. Its short video length is optimal for the fast pace of the Twitter feed. Six seconds automatically set to loop gives the user multiple chances to see the entire video while scrolling through other content. Users may miss the main concept of a longer video as they move on to other newer content within the stream. It’s also relatively easy to understand. Simply point, press, and shoot your video, write a quick description and post it to Vine’s network as well as Twitter and several others if you wish.


After being purchased by Twitter, the native Facebook sharing functionality was disabled. This means that if you wish to share Vine videos on Facebook, you must copy and paste a link. It also means that Facebook will not display your videos as dynamic content, making it much less shareable and less appealing to users. This can weigh heavily into your decision of whether or not to use Vine as the platform for your short form video marketing needs.

Clunky Facebook sharing isn’t the only drawback to using Vine, though. The app also doesn’t allow you to import pre-recorded content into its database. This means that once you shoot a video, you must share it immediately afterward. It essentially prevents you from being able to edit or review the video before it’s posted. Many marketing managers are not comfortable with the lack of editing before publishing and this may drive them away from Vine.

Instagram Video

Instagram began as a photo sharing application that became popular due to its unique filter functionality. After being purchased by Facebook, Instagram has seen a steady stream of updates improving the applications functionality and broadening appeal. Most recently Instagram launched video capability. It was immediately compared to Twitter owned Vine. It turns out there was good reason for comparison. The application functions in many ways that are very similar to Vine. Some might even say it is superior to Vine’s functionality.


Instagram offers many great features. In addition to the ability to add filters to your videos, it also has fairly high-end stabilization software that can help make videos less shaky and more impressive. It also offers the ability to import videos from your outside sources. This means a video can be edited and approved by a third party if necessary before publishing. The format is slightly longer allowing for a more developed story.

Likely due to the increased length, Instagram videos do no loop and require the user to hover or click on them to play. This is much less disruptive when scanning the feed. You only interact with videos that interest you and it does not cause bandwidth issues on mobile devices.


While Instagram is a great tool, it’s not without its flaws. Fifteen seconds often feels too long or too short. Videos sometimes feel cramped in the short period of time while others leave dead air. While this can now be corrected with simple editing before publishing, many small brands and marketers may need to experiment before publishing to their branded channels. Instagram video also has a much higher learning curve. More features can often mean more opportunities for mistakes. Import or upload errors could easily occur. Confusion between multiple versions of the same video could also cause confusion.

So, what short form video application is right for you? Well, I can’t tell you definitively, but my suggestion is to experiment with both. You may find that you use both applications, but for different purposes and on different channels. The best part is as long as you’re creating interesting and dynamic content, you really can’t go wrong.

Which application do you prefer? What are your tips and tricks?

Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email Marketing Services. Aidan advocates free email marketing services to assist with the flourishing of grassroots organizations.

5 Website Tips For Impressing Potential Couples

I get a lot of emails from photographers wondering what is “wrong” with their business:

  • business is down
  • it’s harder to book and keep weddings
  • people are spending less
  • potential client seem to be on a different page

I struggled with similar issues early in my career as well. We can blame it on the economy, or the new face of social media, or the access of digital cameras to the masses … but truthfully, the issues listed above have always been around. They are part of the growing pains of turning a hobby or dream into a viable, lucrative business. At some point, all small business owners hit these walls. Believe it or not, the fact that you are asking these questions means that you are ready for growth! And that’s exciting!

In many of my one on one coaching sessions with photographers, I have noticed that everyone has a blog or website, but many don’t understand how to use them effectively in order to grow and enhance their business.

Whether you are new to the industry, or have been in it for several years, one of the most important tools at your disposal is your website. This is your platform, your virtual storefront and your chance to create an amazing visual first impression. Your website is where you meet and engage your ideal client base.

Let me put it more directly … your website is where you let potential clients know who you are and why you are worth the money.


© Laura Novak

In order to do this effectively, your website needs to have five main components…

1. Relatability: Your target bride should want to be the brides she sees on your site.

  • First … you need to know your target bride. Is she traditional and classic? Is she trendy and creative? Is she a statement destination bride or a classic country club bride? Does she want a farmhouse wedding with rustic accents or a five-star hotel wedding with high glamour?
  • Then… show her pictures of her dream wedding! If most people who hire you are getting married at the local country club – putting a photo of a destination wedding as your homepage might impress them, but it won’t create an emotional pull towards you … because it’s not relatable. Decide who you want as your client and then show images that speak to her dreams and vision for her wedding day.

2. Credibility: Press, testimonials, and other recommendations will help create credibility on your site. This is especially true if you are just starting out. People want to work with someone they can trust. The best way to show them that you are as fantastic as you look is to have someone else tell them! Here’s how to get the cred…

  • Are you new to the industry? Chances are you have photographed events for family and friends … ask them to write a 1 – 2 line testimonial of what they loved most about the images or working with you.
  • Have you worked a few weddings and made great connections with other vendors? Cross market! Ask them to refer clients to you, and offer to do the same for them! In the process, ask if they could supply a one or two-line quote to put on your website. It gives you credibility, and gives them a little extra marketing plug!
  • Have you been around for a while? Then you probably have a ton of testimonials right at your fingertips … the thank you notes your beautiful brides have sent when they received their images! Pull a quote from your favorite notes and show them along side a stunning photo from their wedding. The bride will be honored to be a feature on your site, and your potential clients will see what former brides have to say about you.

3. Emotion: As photographers, we often fall in love with an image from a technical or artistic perspective so we put it on our website. Stop!

Our clients are (typically) not photographers. They aren’t always aware of the technical or artistic perspectives. They are looking for emotion when they view your photos. Whether they know it or not, they are choosing you based largely on how they feel when they look at your images.

Let your website portfolio show the special moments and secret looks. The laughter and the tears. Once you have created a solid portfolio of the emotional shots, then sprinkle in a few artistic images of the dress and details to show that you can rock those, too! Think of the detail shots as the seasoning sprinkled throughout. Let the emotional moments be the main course!

4. Specialization: Many of us have a few different photographic specialties. Perhaps you have done corporate work in the past and are keeping that as a sideline to bolster your business in slower seasons. Or maybe you are dabbling with family portraiture as you follow your brides through the next phase of their journey. That’s great! Let me caution you about putting all of your eggs in one web basket.

If you are growing your wedding business and branding yourself that way, don’t dilute your message by showing all of your portfolios in one place. I know it sounds pricey, but I am a firm believer in separating out your sites.

Brides are in the midst of dreaming about their big day! They are emotionally tied to it and sometimes it’s all they can think about. While they may want to start a family, those images are not as compelling to them in this moment.

Similarly, once they are past the wedding, they will only want to look at maternity & newborn images and start dreaming about that milestone. Other people’s weddings will not seem as interesting. Show your clients what they are looking for, and put links to your other sites so that they can move along with you to the next phase.

5. Authenticity: Emotion cannot be manufactured. It has to be authentic. Your website needs to show authentic moments, and it needs to show that you understand the magic and power of those moments. Your potential client is trusting you with “ the most important day of their lives”. Show them that you get it! Be aware of the little things … the quiet moments, the butterflies in the stomach, the power of the first dance … put yourself in their shoes!

If you photograph weddings based solely on the latest looks from Pinterest the images will always seem hollow and in-authentic to your client. Dig deep!! Know what is in your heart!! Demonstrate your passion and connection through your photography and put that on your website.

SO there you go … website 101. You have the passion… you have the talent. Now go tweak that website and get the clients!

Laura-NovakThanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information about specific topics! I’d love to hear how I can help you take the next steps!

Laura Novak has over 10 years of wedding photography experience, and her work has been featured on numerous national and international publications. Visit Laura’s site,, to download a sample album that she used to generate over 1.2 million dollars in wedding business. Laura in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, John, and baby, Andrew.

7 Plugins Worth Installing On Every WordPress Photography Website

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover – but everyone does. In fact, a great cover design can more than double the sales of an ebook.

The same is true for your WordPress site. With the click of a mouse (or the swipe of a finger on a touch screen) your hard-won visitors will be gone if you don’t give them a good reason to stick around – and that means creating a great design that lets your beautiful image galleries and slideshows shine.

The first step is choosing the right theme (you learn all about installing and customizing a variety themes, including Photocrati’s theme) during my free creativeLIVE course August 5-6).

After you get your theme set up, you can add loads of other features by installing and activating Plugins. In the world of WordPress there are now 26,000 themes (and counting). If you’re a photographer, you should definitely start with the NextGen Gallery plugin (now also owned by Photocrati). With more than 7.5 million downloads, it’s one of the most popular plugins in the world of WordPress.

Here are 7 other plugins I recommend for anyone with a WordPress site:

1) WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

Optimization helps you stay ahead of the game. This plugin provides an easy platform to optimize content, the titles of your images, meta descriptions, and more.

2) AddThis Social Media Sharing

This single string of code is easy to install and lets your visitors share your content easily. It’s a non-intrusive, data driven tool. It’s especially great on mobile devices.

3) WP Super Cache

In technical terms, this plugin generates HTML files pushed directly by Apache without the dealing with PHP Scripts. This means that you can use this plugin to speed up your site significantly.

4) NextGEN Gallery

This is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. It includes multiple gallery styles, albums and lightboxes. Recently updated with an improved user experience and a premium version with additional styles and an exclusive lightbox and all fully responsive.

5) LightBox Plus Colorbox

There so many light box plugins too choose from, but this is one of the most popular options. (worth noting that the Photocrati theme has a lightbox built-in)

6) Regenerate Thumbnails

One of the hardest parts of building a great site is having the time to make it great. That said, you need all the time savers you can get. this plugin lets you regenerate the thumbnails for all your image attachments no matter if you’ve altered them previously.

7) Backup Buddy

Arguably the most popular option for creating regular backups of your blog, this plugin can also help you move a WordPress site to a new server (which si a lot more complicated than most WordPress novices realize).

Bonus tip: Gravatar: It’s not a plugin, but create a profile at and your profile photo will appear next to your name when you post comments on your site, or anyone else’s who supports Gravatars, which is most sites.

Janine Warner is the author of 25 books, including Web Sites For Dummies, Mobile Web Design For Dummies, and Social Media Design For Dummies (Jan. 2014). If you want to learn more about all of Janine’s WordPress tips and tricks, watch her free online creativeLIVE course August 5-6.

Special Note: On the first day of her creativeLIVE course, Janine will be interviewing Photocrati’s very own Scott Wyden Kivowitz!


Top 10 Things New Photographers Need to Know and Do

Ever wanted a check-list to take away the mystery of starting out in photography? Can’t be that easy can it? Sure it can! Here are the top ten things new photography business owners need to know and do when setting up shop.

1. Pick a good name

Once you hit the ground running with business filings to the government and marketing yourself you don’t necessarily want to go back to the beginning. Start off with a good name to represent your business and your market. In a creative industry the use of a name connected to your legal personal name is a surefire way to brand yourself from others. Another aspect to consider is researching federal trademarks and local business names to ensure there is not a pre-existing business in play with that name. This does not mean you have to choose to use your legal name but can definitely help lend some credibility and name recognition in your market.

2. Get legit

Getting legit encompasses setting up business structure and securing the required permits to engage in business. Ignoring these structures demonstrates an unprofessional and immature business owner that can bring along many fines and penalties. Each jurisdiction varies on how to set up and maintain your business legally so be sure to check with local laws (Or hire an attorney to do it for you!)

3. Pay taxes

Taxes vary on location but at the core are federal income, state income and state sales taxes. Rates, schedules and methods of remitting vary depending upon jurisdiction.

4. Get insurance

While selecting a business structure that separates out liability for your personal assets, having insurance will help to cement professionalism while protecting yourself and clients. Insurance types include liability, equipment, disability, life, rental/owner property (such as for studios), and other miscellaneous insurances available through various providers.

5. Use lawyer drafted contracts

You’ve done all this work so far, why put yourself at risk? Contracts are way more than individual business policies. They include contract law principles that are specific to business transactions. Consider finding an attorney that is involved in the creative industry to ensure the business transaction contract you are using covers all areas you need and avoids a basic base-line contract. Search your local state bar websites or ask for referrals.


A word to the wise business person, don’t borrow from another. To ensure you know the legitimacy of the contract and the law behind it research and engage in a reputable attorney

6. Set up a website and/or blog

Time to get your web presence going since where is everyone these days? On their computer. Their phone. Their tablet. Your market is connected. Find a website and/or blog set up to display your work and market yourself to your target clients. Both will provide information to your clients and act as an online store-front for your business.

7. Set up social media

Going along with the website and blog presence your business NEEDS to be on social media. The various social media platforms out there provide a low-cost marketing tool with a high rate of return on investment of your time and costs. Miss the boat on social media and you’re missing the boat on gaining clients.

8. Define your policies and prices

Before even marketing to potential clients you need to have policies and prices in place. Going along with #9 (know your market) define this information to be able to provide potential clients a full view of your products, services, prices and policies up front. No surprises should be waiting for them. An informed client has a higher probability of a better customer service experience.

9. Know your market

All of this work is no good if you don’t define who your market is. Don’t just passively market. Get active by knowing who they are, where they are and what they want.

10. Know and control your business costs

Finally, but not last as there is way more to go along with building a business, for this top ten you should know and control your business costs. Having a pulse on what you have to spend and what you need to spend are important to ensuring you’re turning a profit. This is a good way to identify leaks and control the prices for your clients.

Photographers Need To Know (More)

This top ten isn’t all inclusive of everything you need to get your photography business going but it is a good start. In fact, it’s more than a start. Business owners should run through this check-list routinely to ensure they are up to date on all legalities, policies and business aspects to keep a smooth running business.

The LawTogFor more legal help for photog’s snag The Law Tog’s free eBook “The Legal Lens” here.

Rachel Brenke is the lawyer/photographer owner of The Law Tog, a site is dedicated to providing legal, marketing and biz advice to photography businesses with maximum efficiency and results. Through business consulting services and her published book “The Laundry List: A Mother’s Guide to Balancing Family and Business” Rachel provides guidance in practical ways for photography business owners to succeed.

Please also join Rachel on Facebook!

Featured Member: Giorgio Baruffi

What kind of photography do you do?

Mainly wedding photography, I would do just that!


Story behind this image: The Bride (in black) is the woman in center and i like this shot because I think it is very fresh and show how friendship is beautiful. And then, how many black brides we can photograph?

How would you describe your style?

With my style of photography I try to offer a new perspective on wedding photography: I try to capture moments as they happen by themselves. My goal is to use photography to tell the story of your wedding day as it unfolds spontaneously. I prefer to let the day’s events take place naturally, trying to always be ready to capture them in real-time, occasionally I like to create a little fun involving couples and / or guests in photographs unexpected, witty and funny. However, for most of the day, I try to stay “in the background”, as a silent observer, paying great attention to the interaction genuine and sincere ready to capture them.

What’s your approach to post processing?

Well, i think that post processing is an important part of digital photography, as well as in the analog photography period I develop my files to reach my taste. I try to bring back my sensation and the emotions that I’ve seen on the scene with my personal taste with all the instruments that are available today, I’m not a purist. Every time is a little different, depends on type of person I’ve photographed, someone deserve more post production, someone else less.


Story behind this image: I love this photograph because I’ve captured a real surprise moment, they are so beautiful!

What or who inspires you?

all great wedding photographers, I look at hundreds of pictures every single day, everyone has their own taste, but I love this kind of photography, I never enough, and always I learn something new.


Story behind this image: love has no boundaries, I really loved this wedding day, Raffaella and Mauro are very much in love and I was touched by this.

What gear do you use?

is not so important for me, photographs are made with the head and the heart, I eventually chosen Nikon professional equipment.