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Something that isn't often discussed, but plays a big role is community. If you're a photographer, new or experienced, you'll benefit from getting involved in a community. Let's dive deeper.

1. Your Local Community

It's generally good to be involved in your local community, but how exactly does it benefit you as a photographer? Well, it gets your name out there, for one. It also shows the people in your area what kind of person you are. Are you present? What kind of personality do you actually have? Do you give back or volunteer? A few summers back I reached out to a local animal shelter and offered my services free of charge. We worked together and cranked out an adorable calendar for a fundraiser. Not only was it fun, but it got my name out there, allowed me to volunteer my time and services for good, and helped me make connections in my community. There was a time I also volunteered as a photographer for Halos. They provide support for families during the loss of a child. That opportunity was by far the most humbling and heartbreaking. But I was incredibly grateful to be able to use my gift in a way that helped others. I'm a firm believer that each person is given a gift or trait and it's up to us to figure out how to use that gift to give glory to God and support the people in our community. I highly recommend you check out Halos by the way, they are a wonderful organization. But, I'm getting slightly off topic. To summarize, getting involved in your community is good for your business, good for your soul and good for the people in your community. Try looking for volunteer opportunities, local events or even your local chamber of commerce.

2. The Online Community

This one requires a little less effort to get involved in. When I say the online community, I mean Facebook groups primarily. I'm a strong advocate for this because I've personally experienced so many benefits of being involved in these groups. Anytime you're looking for advice, support or just general opinion, you can find what you're looking for in these groups. It's up to you which ones to join, there are many. To name a few, these are some that I'm in; Cassidy Lynn Education (She is an awesome photographer and a wonderful educator. Check out her Insta as well as the courses and podcasts she offers), The LawTog, Photography Swap Around The World, and Styled Shoots In Minnesota & Wisconsin. I'd also recommend getting into some of the local mom's groups,city word of mouth pages and some second shooter groups (good for finding work as a second shooter or to hire a second shooter.) Try it out and you'll see the benefits in no time!

3. The Photographer Community, Specifically

Best for last. Get to know some other photographers either online or locally (local is best). If you can form friendships with local 'togs you'll always have someone to discuss business with, hang out with, go on photographer retreats with and even second shoot with. By knowing other photographers in your area you can also compare what you're seeing out there... "Is it just me, or has it been a super slow year for bookings??". Oh yeah, you also have someone to vent with, someone who 100% gets your frustrations on that guy that had his phone out the entire wedding ceremony, or the family member that followed you around with their phone taking pictures behind you all day. Trust me when I say photographer friends are a blessing.

Community is a wonder. If you want to better yourself and better your business, join a community or two.

Looking for a dreamy Wisconsin wedding venue but not sure where to start? Here is a list of some of my favorites so far:

#1 Lilydale Dance Hall and Event Venue

This one is by far my favorite this year. The location, the amount of space, the lighting....oh, man! Tucked away in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, this venue is perfect for getting ready to end-of-the-night send off. There is a beautiful, well lit space upstairs for the ladies to get ready, enjoy some mimosas and relax before the ceremony. And on the main level a similar area for the guys to get ready. The amount of picture perfect spots is truly astounding. You and your guests won't be disappointed with this venue.

#2 The Condensery Venue And Event Space

This venue is located right in Osseo, Wisconsin. It offers a beautiful dance hall and bar, space for eating and ceremony too. No need to tear down tables in between dinner and dancing!

This location offers a rustic feel with brick backdrops, beautiful wood floors and accents, as well as some pretty nice bathrooms. Trust me, nice bathrooms make a big difference. *Because who wants to use a port-a-potty in their nice wedding clothes.

#3 Weddings At The Shed

This venue is nestled away in Amery, Wisconsin. It features a beautiful barn and open field, with space to seat 200.

It's perfect if you're looking for rolling hills, open space for the kids to run, and a warm inviting barn for dinner and dancing!

#4 Mystical Rose Gardens

This is a little bit of a stretch, as I haven't shot a wedding here yet. But I do have one here next year and thought it deserved a spot on the list. Hidden away in Baldwin, Wisconsin, this gem is well deserving of a mention on this list! I'm talking gardens, greenhouse...all around beauty! Check them out!

#4 Forevermore Forest

If there was a picture next to "dreamy" in the dictionary, it would be of Forevermore forest. Another dream location of mine. I've yet to photograph a wedding here but it's long since been on my radar. In fact, if I could go back and re-do my wedding, this venue would be at the top of my list. Check them out!

#5 Amery Aleworks

A smaller venue, this location offers a cozy, intimate experience. Complete with a warm bonfire out back. *One of my best friends actually got married here!

If you're still not sure where to get married or elope, you can also check out any of your local churches, golf courses, state parks or county parks. I actually got married at the small Eau Gallery Reservoir in Spring Valley, Wisconsin. Never heard of it? Not surprised. You'd be amazed at how many beautiful spots are hidden right in your very own town!

Hey there! If you're new to photography and don't know where to start, look no further, I'm your girl. Today we are going to go over the top 5 mistakes new photographers make (I would know, I made these mistakes myself). So, here we go.

Mistake #1

Not having a contract. Yikes, big yikes. Even if you feel like your work isn't perfect enough to necessitate a contract, you need a contract. That's right, I'm looking at you. Your contract does many things, one of which is to protect you. It also protects your client and sets guidelines and boundaries. Only recently did another photographer point out that I should have it in my contract that a meal and break is needed if shooting anything longer than an 8 hour wedding. What!? How did I not think of that?? But she was right, it should be in there. Otherwise, next thing you know, you're shooting a 12 hour wedding, on your feet all day, no meal and....well, it wasn't necessarily in your contract that you need one....or deserve one. But, you definitely do! Although, let's be real, most clients are nice enough you don't even have to ask for a meal, they just give you one anyway. But, I digress. Your contract should also go over things such as rescheduling, cancellation, fees, mileage and sooo much more. You can find plenty of contract templates online or have an attorney build one for you.

Mistake #2

Not shooting RAW rather than JPEG. This one may not seem like a big deal, but trust me...the difference it makes. Oh, wow! Shooting RAW allows you to make advanced edits if needed. Shot a little too dark? If working with RAW images, this isn't a problem. You see, all the data was captured, even in the dark spaces. If shooting JPEG, those dark spaces will be fuzzy, unfocused and full of noise when lightened, there's simply not enough data to bring up from those underexposed images. Same goes for overexposed images, if you shoot JPEG, you may have found that your blown out image looks blank when you bring down the exposure. RAW really is the way to go. I've seen almost fully black photos turn into masterpieces because the photographer shot RAW and was able to work with the image. I could write an entire blog post going into depth on this, but I'll keep this short. If you're on the fence, or nervous about switching to RAW, many cameras will allow you too shoot both, saving an image in both RAW and JPEG on your camera. So, what are you waiting for? Make the switch!

Mistake #3

Not having confidence in yourself. Oof. I probably could have made this #1. To have confidence is to invest in yourself, to invest in your business, your education, to take risks in order to grow. It means you grin and bare it even when the going gets tough, because you know you can do it. It means you "fake it 'til you make it" even if you feel imposter syndrome creeping in. If you don't at least try to have confidence, you won't get anywhere. Ouch, tough love.

Mistake #4

Doesn't take constructive criticism. Another tough love lesson. If you aren't in any local photographer groups or groups on Facebook, I highly recommend getting into one or two at least. As you start out, try posting some photos asking for cc (constructive criticism) and see what the majority of feedback looks like. Are people saying you need to work on posing? Alright, work on your posing. Majority of comments saying you edited your photos with too much saturation? Could very well be true. The point is, feedback is a good thing, the good and the bad feedback. Don't ask for cc if you don't intend to improve your work. And please, don't take it personal. Most photographers want to help each other and get you to the point you want to be at. So, if you say " Something about my edits just doesn't seem right. What can I do to fix it??", you can be sure you'll have a whole community there to have your back and help you out.

Mistake #5

Viewing mistakes as a bad thing. Oh, I love this one. This really does apply to every aspect of life. Did you know I worked in banking before I quit the "9 to 5" to do photography full time? True story. And I made mistakes on the job. Ohhh, did I make mistakes. But I quickly found out that's how you become a master at something. Mess up enough, and you'll know all the ways NOT to do something. How does this apply to photography? Easy. My first year in business I didn't have a contract. That was a mistake, but I learned some lessons from that. My first few weddings I didn't use a flash. Yeah, learned my lesson on that one too. Were the photos awful? No, they still turned out beautiful and my clients still loved them. But I found that using flash made my images crisp, clear, and free of noise. Mistakes are tools for learning. Try to avoid them if you can, but certainly don't view mistakes as negatives.

I think I'll leave you with a couple quotes before wrapping it up. These ones really stick with me as of late.

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great"

-John D. Rockefeller

"The best way to predict your future is to create it."

-Abraham Lincoln

Best of luck,


Spirited Sage Photography

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