For Photographers

2015 // A Year in Review

Oh wow. 2015, what a year it has been. I started writing this post from my couch the other night - after a 13 hour work day - and though it was a long day, I was so so happy.

I've referred to the last month as the Holiday Hustle and that has held true. Work has been busy, everyone is on deadline and excited to wrap up projects before the end year - or at least enough so we can all take a break. There have been holiday parties and events to go to...and those deadlines. As I was editing that night, I started to think about the last year and I had a realization: 2015 was a DAMN good year.

The Top 10 BEST Moments of 2015 (in no particular order):

1: Celebrated 10 years of business with the #10YearHustle party

2: Launched 3 new websites for our brands: Rivets and Roses, ELIESA and ELIESA Consults.

3: Hired Melissa as our Studio Manager and she has been a miracle in helping all of the businesses run, supporting our team  and allowing me space to grow.

4: Added some of my 'Dream List' clients to my actual client list, the most exciting has been three stories in Food & Wine Magazine and a global feature about Japanese Whiskey in Delta Sky Magazine.

5: Was named one of the best Editorial Food Photographers in the country from PDN's TASTE Food Photography awards.

6: Photographed 20 amazing weddings for Photogen Inc. and proudly had 4 of those gorgeous weddings published.

7: Our Rivets and Roses team has been KILLING IT with their work this year. We have an incredible team of artists and if you haven't seen what they have been up to, check them out: Ryan, Jackson, Thea, Maggie, Melissa and Bryan all inspire me on the daily.

8: Read a few great books, upgraded some equipment, invested in a business consultant who has given me GREAT critique and took the leap to raise my prices for 2016 - yes, I know, it was overdue.

9: Teamed up with the crew at CLReps to show my portfolio on a more consistent basis, collaborate on some amazing projects and expand our client base.

10: Joined a great gym, saw my friends more and even went on a special Friendsgiving trip to Madeline Island. I spent more time with my family, dogs and even booked a few personal trips for the new year.

Every year I set goals and I usually set lofty goals. Last year, a lot of what I was trying to achieve was a better work/life balance, which is always a work in progress. What I have noticed is that a lot of times the success is not in the lofty, big, glamorous ideas, but rather in the little steps it takes to get us there. (You can check out more of my thoughts on goal setting + doing the work on the ELIESA Consults blog). Oddly enough, 2015 brought the hustle, but it also was filled with happiness and ease. When I look back at this year, we accomplished some seriously big things that I couldn't have ever predicted and that is simply one of the things I love most about being a freelancer. Every year, every month and every day is different. The risk is high and before you know it, the small moments have turned into giant victories!

I am humbled when I think of the amazing people who surround me in life - from my family & friends to our clients & staff. I know I have said this a million times, but it is such a pleasure and it is definitely my purpose to be your photographer. It's my dream to wake up every day and make images to share with you all, so thank you.

Here is to Two Thousand and Sixteen and all of the adventures this next year will bring!


The 10 Year Hustle // A Celebration!


Oh friends, can you believe that this year marks our tenth year of business?!?! I barely can. This past week has brought a lot of reflection on the last decade and if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably relived a lot of the highlights! I did want to take a moment to write on the blog, since this is where it all started - with a girl, a camera, a blog and a business name of Photogen Inc.

I have always known I wanted to be a photographer from a very young age, but I never knew that I would thrive in being a business owner. That was never something that crossed my mind until a very special person in my life simply said, "Why don't you start a business?" So, I went to the State of MN, took $125 out of a cash machine, thought of a name that wasn't taken on google yet and officially incorporated. I honestly didn't over think this decision, because in my gut it simply seemed like the right thing to do. On the flip side, I had no idea what I was doing, but I dove into being a freelance photographer head strong. I think part of my success early on was that I was a bit ignorant and incredibly determined, which made me fearless. Now, I want to be clear that it took a while for me to actually live off of my income as a freelancer - in the meantime, I kept a 'normal' job to pay the rent and it also meant that I worked double the hours. I know many of you out there do this and I want you to know that it IS okay! In fact, I would argue that all freelancers have had a 'day job' while starting things up! The thing was, I knew my job (which I was incredibly grateful for) was just a job - photography and this business had not only become my passion, but also my purpose.

When the business began, I might have not known much, but I did know a few things:

1// I wanted it to be bigger than myself - This is a little hard to explain, but I knew that I wanted to connect people, build a team and inspire others. I didn't want it to be all about me and now looking back I see all of our assistants, photographers and talent who have come thru our studio and they are all doing things that are WAY bigger than me. It has been my greatest joy to see our team grow and thrive over the years and I am so proud.

2// I wanted to make work and share it with the community - When it comes down to why I am a photographer, it is exactly this. To take images for a purpose and share them. I want my work to inspire people and to be a part of whatever-that-story-may-be-about. I have been lucky enough to share my work on a global level and also very intimately with weddings and no matter the job, this is always my goal.

3// I wanted to live the dream - I believe in living a happy life. And I wanted to wake up every morning and literally live my dream. It doesn't mean that every day is easy, in fact many days are filled with a lot of grit and hard work, but I LOVE IT. I love my job, I love my lifestyle and I love absolutely everything we are doing at our studio. I also believe in the phrase that "it's all about the journey and not the destination." Owning your own business definitely means owning that statement.

Looking back on ten years has been a trip, but an oh-so-awesome moment to celebrate and reflect upon all of the success that we have had. We've been invited to photograph many of your weddings, built 4 brands, expanded our commercial and editorial work, gained national and global clients and created an amazing team of photographers. To say we are #blessed is an understatement. I don't know how I can possibly say enough thank you's, but to all of you who have believed in me, the work and our team all of these years, thank you. It has been a true honor to document your stories and it is because of YOU that we are actually successful!

So, here is to the next ten years! Our work is better than ever and our team is thriving! Onward to amazing moments, fucking rad pictures and a whole lot of adventure!


The Marketing Game //

Every year, I sit down and think about how we can better connect with our vendors. These include both the coordinators and creatives that we already work with consistently each season, but also the dream list of people that we strive to work with. For the Photogen Inc. brand, and frankly with all of our brands, our best clients come to us from the true relationships that we have built. You know that saying that 'word of mouth is your best advertising' ? I am a total believer of that. Whether a client hears about us thru reading the blog, being a loyal Instagram follower or was recommended to us thru their wedding planner or event designer - all of the connections that we build with each and every one of you are what matters. So this year, our team sat down to strategize a bit on how to spend our dollars towards advertising. We decided that we wanted to make it personal this year and think outside of the box to connect with you. You will see that we've stepped up our game a bit and have been more active on Instagram for both our Rivets and Roses team and myself. We're trying to show you more of our everyday adventures, along with behind-the-scenes and finished photos. We're also trying to connect on a more personal level with some key vendors, which will include a few more coffee dates and lunches, in efforts to actually see more of our favorite people - face to face. When I thought about how relationships form over social media, I also asked myself: Who do I want to start a relationship with? and Who from a far do I admire? Illustrator, Cait Courneya came straight to my mind and at the top of my list. You see, I had been following Cait's drawings via Instagram, as a fan girl myself, for a while and I thought: She's a perfect fit. So, Cait and I got together for coffee and I pitched to her the idea of creating personalized sketches of a select group of vendors that I wanted to also send my gorgeous look books to. I can send out promotional materials all day long, but I wanted to go beyond that actually give these vendors an actual gift. Cait's work was a huuuuuuge success. Not only did all of the vendors enjoy their sketches, but many of them also posted their gifts and our look books on their social media outlets. Now, there's a key point that feel is really important: We didn't ask or push anyone to promote this. We simply created a piece that was meant to inspire, so the posts that came out were genuine and organic. Their praises and words were authentic and real, not contrived to names drop or self promote.

A lot of what we are seeing on our social feeds is curated content that shows 1) how fancy people are 2) how fancy the people they hang out with are and 3) how fancy the places they hang out at are. I've been guilty of all of the above, but it is my goal to create as many authentic actions as possible. And above all, I want to create work that inspires and that people will genuinely want to share. It is too early to know if I will book any wedding work from this year's marketing, but already, we have received many comments, emails and hand-written-thank-you-notes (which I oh-so-love), from our efforts. The look books were also created to be portfolio pieces that the vendors can actually use. So, was this project cheap? No, not at all. In fact, it was a pretty good investment, but already, it is way better than any listing on a website has ever returned for our companies. And above all, I feel GOOD - like really excited - to know that every single person we reached out to has loved this work and we have successfully grown our relationships with them.

Here are some tips to think about for your next round of marketing your wedding photography business (or any business, really):

Know Your Goal // Each year, your business probably has new goals to achieve. These might be the same from year-to-year, but I bet each season, there is a bit of a shift in the way you want to fine-tune your business. If your goal for this year is to do a bigger volume of clients, then research what the best resource for advertising is - perhaps this is investing in front-page listings. If your goal is to expand your network, budget enough dollars and mark dates on your calendar to attend events and plan more coffee dates. Or happy hours, because everyone loves a good happy hour.

Know Your Brand // Whether you are putting together marketing materials to get printed or creating an online listing, be intentional about who you want to reach. Who is your current client? Who do you want your future client to be? You have absolutely nothing to lose but to try and reach out of your comfort zone.

Invest in the Future, Not the Quick Dollar // We currently live in a world of instant gratification and sometimes it seems to be the 'norm' that people become 'Instagram Famous' overnight. First of all, the internet is an amazing tool, but it's also not reality. I guarantee you that those people you think just got a 'lucky break' have been hustling for years. We hear many times about the success, but not the hard work. A solid business means putting in the hours, creating amazing work, delivering your product on time and simply being kind to people. Decide how your investments, both monetarily and socially, will be best for you in the long run. If you are lucky enough to gain worldly success overnight, then good for you. Just don't expect that or hold this as the definition of your success.

Be Remarkable // Honestly, there's no room for anything less these days. If you put mediocrity into the world, that's not enough. You must create work and pieces that inspire you and those around you. I'm a perfectionist and my standard is always: Does this inspire me? Would I care about this? If the answer is yes, then I move forward. If the answer is no, I just let it go. We all have too much going on to care about fluffy bullshit. Whatever you create, make it amazing.

Have Fun // Marketing is FUN! I mean, this is a fantastic opportunity to allow people to get to know you and create something special. Collaborate. Think outside of the traditional route. Be excited. Be proud.


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Wedding Photography Workshop // 2014 Boot Camp!

For those of us in the Midwest, weddings are a pretty seasonal business for us! We go from zero to sixty in one day and for the entire summer, we give all that we can to our wedding clients! We are on the dawn of wedding season and I thought this would be the best time to offer a little pre-season boot camp again this year for wedding photographers! The idea came last year, when I was preparing a little intensive for our in-house team. I wanted to put together something that would refresh our ideas, skills and inspiration. As I was been putting this together, I realized that the content is pretty great and that this could benefit way more people than just our crew! Last year's wedding boot camp workshop was a complete success and I'm happy to host this once again for the 2014 season. The workshop will be from 9am – 5pm on Friday, May 2nd. We will be hosting the workshop in Minneapolis and will be providing food + drinks for the day. We want to keep the vibe pretty casual and a great environment for learning! Topics for the workshop include:

- Using natural light to our advantage (especially in those dim-lit hotels and churches) - Group portraits - Photographing details - Lens choice & composition - Working with on-camera flash (perfect for family formals + reception lighting)

Registration is officially open for the Wedding Boot Camp – and the best part is, it is only $350 for the entire day! CLICK HERE to reserve your space, we would love to have you!



**Please note that the registration deadline is Friday, April 25th, 2014 and registration is non-refundable.**

Photogen Inc. // Cheers to 2013!!

'Tis the season to celebrate and last night, our team got together for our annual holiday party! This event has become a real tradition that I host every year and it makes me so happy. It's pretty simple - we all get together, have some cocktails, I cook a giant pot of chili and sign our holiday card for the year. Each year, I step back at this party and have a bit of a moment. All of the people that fill the room are helping me realize my dream - day in and day out. They give me their time, their talents, their creativity and their support, all to create these amazing images for our clients. When Photogen Inc. was first started as a company, I knew that I wanted it to be 'bigger' than me. In many ways, I still don't know what exactly that means, but what I can say is that this year, we have 14...FOURTEEN people on the team! These people support all of the brands; Photogen Inc, Rivets and Roses and Eliesa Johnson Photography. Yes, I'm the boss lady to this entire operation, but each and every one of the people on our team inspire me on a daily basis to be a better artist and leader for our clients, our crew and our industry! 2013 was an incredibly successful season for us! As a business, I feel like we really hit our stride. As artists, we created some amazing work. As colleagues, we supported, critiqued and have all grown better as people and as friends. We've been published both nationally and locally countless times, which I consider a great honor. Part about what I love about taking photographs is the ability to share that with a community. We live in a very global world these days, and our images have stretched from our local city of Minneapolis to as far as Europe and across the states.

Every year, I have some pretty lofty goals and crazy ideas that I normally share on the blog. However, for 2014, I am still defining and re-defining what those goals are. What I do know is that the plans we are making will no doubt be brilliant and take our brands to a whole other level! When I do determine what these exciting things are, I will most definitely share them with you all! In the mean time, I am taking a little break to read a couple of books, drink some wine, take some personal photos and travel between the holidays and the new year.

To our clients - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for an amazing year! You have welcomed us into some of the most important moments of your life and we are all so grateful to be a part of your story!

Happy Holidays to all of you followers and readers! Cheers to 2014!


(of course, we had to share some of the Polaroids from our party shenanigans!)


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FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS // 8 tips for surviving a Sales and Use Tax Audit

Hello friends! If you have been following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you might have been noticed that I have been audited! It's been going on for months now, and we just wrapped it up this last week. I've learned a lot during this process and thought I would impart some advice and tips to all of you other photographers in Minnesota who this could potentially happen to someday! Now, for those of you out of state, some of this advice could apply to you as well, but make sure that you look into the specific guidelines for where you live. So, the first thing that comes out of people's mouth's when I say I'm going through a tax audit is first a 'gasp!', followed by the question, "Why are YOU getting audited? How did that happen?" The answer is, there is no real reason. For me, it was kind of like being called up for Jury Duty. I hadn't done anything wrong, ever, and I was simply just chosen by the state to have a Sales and Use Tax Audit. Photographers, if you are ever audited, it is probably going to be for Sales and Use Tax. My audit went back from January of 2009 to June of 2012. That's a giant chunk of time and I have never been so happy to have ALWAYS, like from the beginning of time, been incredibly organized when it came to receipts and paying in my sales tax on time. During the audit, the government takes 'samples' from random months within this time period and you have to look up receipts and prove the payment of sales and use tax. Because I have always been so organized, this was the easy part. Many times people see audits as a very scary thing and it's mostly due to the disorganization far before the audit. Here are some words of advice to either put into practice and/or keep in mind, should your photography business every get called up for an audit:

1 // Know When you File:

Over the course of our business growing, we have gone from filing our sales tax from yearly, to quarterly to now monthly. I. LOVE. FILING. MONTHLY. For us, paying in each month simply works best with the cash flow of our business. Every month, we have our bookkeeper to come in and reconcile. At that time, we also pay in any sales tax that was due. On the slower months, we owe less and when we're busy, the proper amount of money is in the bank to pay. I'm not saying this is the perfect way, but it has really worked for us and makes paying in taxes as stress-free as it's ever been. No matter how you pay in your Sales and Use Tax, make sure you know when things are due - those penalties on filing late are quite steep! Check your states Department of Revenue for their filing and payment schedules.

2 // Have Patience, Communicate Clearly and Assemble your Dream Team:Our sales and use tax auditors working in our studio

From the get-go of my business, it was important for me to have the best CPA/EA that I could find. I go to Fox Tax, which is a tax firm that is geared specifically towards working artists! As time went on, I realized that I couldn't handle QuickBooks all myself, so I hired my (amazing) bookkeeper thru Fox Tax. Hiring my bookkeeper was honestly life-changing and worth every penny. When it came to being audited, my auditors didn't really understand my photography business. It took a lot of patience to explain what certain things were and determine with them whether or not a certain program, piece of equipment, print sale, or wedding booking was taxable or not. The reality is, these auditors might be working with a construction company, a photography business, and a mechanic all at the same time. You want to make sure that they understand your business, so you don't get charged for something unnecessary. Your CPA/EA and bookkeeper will also be a giant help in explaining your filings and financial reports as well.

3 // Double Check the Work:

It is VERY important to look over the documents that the auditors present you with. Remember that part about not knowing your business, specifically? We caught a giant amount of areas where our auditors accidentally doubled-up on things, which was ultimately asking us to pay in more money than necessary. Double checking could save you lots of money!

4 // Know Your Exemptions:

For us photographers, if we are every selling prints or products for re-sale, we should not be paying sales tax to our labs. During our audit, I realized that our album vendor was not charging us sales tax, but our print lab was. This is because I hadn't filed a Tax Exemption form with my lab. This will save us TONS of money. Basically, since our clients are purchasing prints, they are paying us tax, which we will pay in for Sales Tax. However, when we go to fulfill that order with the lab, since the prints are being made for re-sale, make sure you aren't paying that tax twice! You can download the MN Tax Exemption form HERE!

Our sales and use tax auditors going over paperwork in our studio

5 // Pay in Use Tax:

What the hell is Use Tax? This is also referred to as the 'hidden' tax, and for a reason, because no one really teaches you to file it. However, if you get audited for Sales and Use tax and have never paid it, this is more than likely what you will end up paying in. Use Tax applies mostly to those purchases made on the internet. For example, lets say you purchased your new camera online. You're probably not charged sales tax when purchasing it online. Use Tax is paying in the tax that would-have-been-charged, had you purchased your camera at the local camera shop. Technically, we should all be keeping track of our online purchases and paying in Use Tax at the same time we pay in Sales Tax. The Use Tax should be the same percentage that you pay in for Sales Tax. Here's the catchy part... you might be able to get that tax back...

6 // File a Capital Equipment Refund:

Photographers may claim a refund of Sales and Use Tax on equipment purchased to make the photograph. That means that whether you purchased your camera at the local shop (and paid sales tax there) or ordered the camera online (and paid in your Use Tax), you can fill out a form to get ALL of that tax money back! WOO HOO! The kicker is that it takes a little time to fill out the form, but can ultimately refund you a hell-of-a-lot of money. The other kicker is that your refund will be considered Income and will be taxed, but more money is more money. Some examples of equipment that may qualify are:

Intern Sarah going over paperwork for our sales and use tax audit

  • Cameras
  • Props
  • Posing Equipment
  • Bulbs
  • Tripods
  • Production Computers and Software
  • Lighting Equipment
  • Printing Equipment
  • Backdrops
  • Accessories and Attachments

7 // Ask Questions:

It's entirely okay to feel like you have no idea what's going on. However, not matter how stupid you feel, it's important to ask questions so you can understand - even if this means asking them over and over until it clicks. This is your business and it's important to understand the process! Overall, being audited isn't a scary thing, but it is time consuming, so if anything, prepare yourself for that! Cheers to owning a small business and living the dream!

8 // Above All, Stay Organized:

It's taken years, but we finally have a really awesome system. I hang onto ALL of my business receipts,and have a special 'inbox' where I put everything for the month. Before our bookkeeper comes in, I set aside about 10 minutes to organize all of those receipts in my 'in box' and other important documentation into a binder, which is categorized by month. It's pretty easy and we know exactly where to find everything, so reconciling and filing is easy breezy!

Visiting the Minneasota Dept of Revenue during our sales and use tax audit

Here are some documents, from the State of Minnesota, that I highly recommend reading. It's not the most exciting thing you'll ever read, but it does state the rules and might help better answer some further questions you have about Sales and Use Tax:

Minnesota Sales and Use Tax Instruction Booklet

Photography and Video Production - Sales Tax Fact Sheet 169

Use Tax for Business - Fact Sheet 146

Capital Equipment Refund Claim - ST11 Form

Sales and Use Tax Filing and Payment Schedules

Certificate of Exemption - ST3 Form

Fox Tax Service

For Photographers // We are The Parsons

As a photographer, you look at a lot of other people's work. I think we have all gone thru a phase where you simply can't get enough of it all and then you hit that point of overload, where you need to take a break. I feel like it is thru this process that you also find yourself constantly keeping track and looking at just a few artists for inspiration - or maybe to just simply follow their story. These are the people who become your constants and who you resonate with. For me, Ashley and Jeremy, otherwise known as The Parson's,who are a husband-and-wife photography team who have me constantly in awe with their photos. They are genuine and authentic to a level that not many others have matched and they also seem to be constantly challenging themselves as artists to create better and deeper photographs. Another thing I love about these two is that they are based out of the Midwest. There's something very special about our market here in the middle-land and we're so lucky to have them be a part of it! We caught up with the Parson's to see what their philosophy's on art, life and love were...and it's incredibly inspiring!


Q. You describe yourself as 'not your typical wedding photographers'. Why is this?

A. We initially said that on our website a few years ago because we kept seeing a flash of terror or disgust rush across people's faces when we would tell them we were wedding photographers.  it seems that the poofy-armed wedding gowns and cheesy poses of the photographers of the 70's and 80's were haunting our identity wherever we went.  one of our first brides wanted a checklist of 85 required photographs to be checked off as we photographed the wedding.  another really wanted "that jumping picture" or "the one where you make me black and white, but my flowers all in color".  and it became clear really quickly that we didn't fit in the categories of what people had grown to expect from a wedding photographer.  so we started to shoot from the heart of who we are and name our business just that - we are the parsons.  and the parsons just happen to be simple, honest, raw photographers who don't work off of shot lists or "do" poses.  we stopped trying to get everyone to book us, and started trying to detract people who were looking for something typical.  we didn't want to make checklist photographs, we wanted to make photographs that were true to how we were experiencing the world - and those don't fit on any checklist.  So we did them a favor and turned away people who didn't get that, and drew in those who really, really did.  since we are us, no one will ever be us.  we see the world in the way we do, communicate it in the way we do, and offer it to others in the way we do.  it's nothing like the traditional checklist approach that used to be, and still is embraced by some wedding photographers.  because we are just us, and we make images from a place that is true to that, our photographs seem a bit atypical.  not because they are wildly out of the box creative, but because they are from us, and we are 'not your typical humans'.  :)

Q.What made you fall in love with being a wedding photographer?

A. What first really made us fall in love with making wedding photographs was being married to each other.  we  l o v e  marriage!  we think this adventure of learning another person and then traveling with them through a lifelong journey of beauty and mess, highs and lows, wins and losses, babies, work, and history is a pretty incredible thing.  so when we have the chance to be a part of the start of someone's marriage, we consider it a great joy to make photographs that champion them on through it all.  and we love that our photographs are the ones they are going to look at on their wall as they fight for and against each other and grow old.

Q. You have a very unique and freeing vibe to your photos. How did you define your style as an artist?

A. Wow.  thank you!  the funny thing is, we never defined our style as artists.  most days, it still feels strange to call ourselves "artists".  we never planned to have this life, never went to school for this, never dreamt we would be who we are today.  we literally just picked up little metal machines called cameras and tried to communicate with them how we were experiencing the world.  I think because the photographs we make flow naturally and organically out of who we are, they are definitely freeing because we are free.  that can also mean that they are a bit raw and rough around the edges, because we are those things as well.  ;)  but all in all, they are honest because we are honest.  so I guess our style as "artists" ;) is just our character as humans, being communicated through some metal and glass.

Q. Being in the Midwest market, it's different than the east of west coast. What is your approach to marketing and finding your perfect client?

A. we don't really have an approach for marketing.  and we don't really have "clients".  we have people, imperfect, wonderful human beings with really good stories and great taste in wine who we happen to be blessed to spend a day or a weekend with.  we are who we are, display that in authenticity, and our couples, or our people, find us.  :)  we love dwelling in the Midwest.  it's a great place to raise our family, and the friends we have here are more beautiful and valuable than any stunning landscape we could ever seek elsewhere.  but a good majority of our work is done outside of the Midwest, and we are OK with that.  we have a thirst for adventure, and love experiencing new places and people together - we go to where our people are because they are worth it, and being a part of their story is worth it to us.

Q. Describe the perfect 'Parson' client.

A. oh man, there aren't enough words!  to describe that would mean telling you hundreds of stories and bringing you into the worlds of our couples.  they are all so brilliant, so unique, so open and passionate, so committed to the good things, so inspiring and captivating in different ways.  it's almost like asking us to describe our kids - we just couldn't ever do it justice in words.  I guess that's why we communicate who they are in photographs.  so . . . if you want to see who they are, look at our photos, they're all on the blog!  :)

Q. Where do you gather your inspiration?

A. We wake up.  that's about all it takes.  we wake up in the morning and it's like God is whispering in our ears, sometimes shouting . . . "hey guys, look over there!  look at this sky I made for today!  look here, at this person - isn't she remarkable!?  watch these two and see how I created them to interact . . . isn't it the most beautiful dance you've ever witnessed? walk here, speak here, breathe in deeply now and move slowly. . ." 

and I realize that may sound like the cheesiest load of shit anybody ever said, but it's honestly our experience.  he is making us see everywhere we go.  we are caught up in the wonder and delight of it all, what he's doing and who he's made.

Q. What do you see is a current trend when it comes to wedding photography?

A. While we recognize that there are trends, we tend not to follow them or know what they are.  a few years ago when we started, we really tried to keep a pulse on wedding trends, and adopted the mentality of shooting what was "cool" or what would make us more popular in the industry.  The longer we spend as a married couple, the more we realize how outdated and meaningless many of those trends will be in 50 years, because the photographs we make aren't commercial, they're personal.  so, in 2009 we went on a self-inflicted "blog fast" and stopped looking at wedding and wedding photography blogs.  we didn't look at a single one for 6 months, and have never returned to wrapping ourselves up in it.  we only look at about 1 blog post a month - if that - and it's always one of a dear friend we hope to encourage.  what flowed out of our work since the fast has resulted in authentic and un-trendy photographs that reflect the heart behind our work and mean a lot to our couples, both now and in the future.

Q. What advice do you have to photographers just entering our market?

A. work hard.stay humble.remember you are a tree in a story about a forest.

Q. What advice do you have to photographers who have been in the industry for a while?

A. same as above. the longer we do this, the more we recognize the tendency to get arrogant or just fall into "rhythms" that rob our work of authenticity or make it about us. we say these things to ourselves and each other almost daily.

Q. What vendor relationships do you think are most relevant to the success of your business?

A. while we respect wedding vendors that we have the privilege of working with, we don't have any particular relationships that have contributed to the success of our business.  we tell our couples that we are not a vendor, because we aren't.  when they invite us to their wedding, they do so with an invitation understanding that we come to enter into their day as a close friend or family member would, and we have a place at the table at their wedding.  their openness and willingness to invite us in is the thing that makes us succeed.

Q. If you could photograph anyone, who would it be?

A. this is a funny question for us because in the past couple of years we've had the privilege of making photographs for many of the names we would have put down to answer this question.  we never could have asked for it or even hoped for it, but we have been a part of making photos for some incredible people and remarkable stories.  and we are very aware that the same God whispering in our ears when we wake up in the morning is the one who has brought these lovely souls to our doorstep.  and we are also keenly aware that he isn't done surprising us yet.  we always ask that he would bring to us whomever we are supposed to be with, and keep everyone else away.  so there's a lot of excitement in knowing no matter who we could put here as a name, the surprises he has for us are always better than our hopes or expectations.

Q. Explain the Don't Give Up Project...Why did you begin this movement?

A. there is a very long version of this story, but for now we will spare you because it's a lot, lot, lot of words.  :)  

in 2009, my dad passed away. he was a best friend to both of us, and our worlds were rocked by his leaving.  Jeremy photographed the last day of my dad's life, and after his passing, we realized how much power a photograph can hold.  we began to ask why to everything and that question permeated our philosophy and our photographs.  we realized how trying to follow all of the wedding trends to gain popularity and attention had robbed us of focusing on making images that would be meaningful to our couples after they were gone.  we started to ask "could we take this photograph to their funeral?"  We looked out at the wedding photography landscape and although there were many people making images that mattered, there were also a lot who just didn't know how.  we saw photographers trapped in the same game we had been trapped in - comparison.  we wanted to start a movement of photographers who would be willing to ignore certain trends in order to make images that mattered.  we wanted to share the things we were learning, but we just couldn't picture ourselves lecturing in a conference room trying to pretend we had it all together.  most of what we know or believe is because of losses we have experienced or mistakes we have made.  so we decided to invite them into our world in the only way we know how.  we found a lodge in the mountains of Colorado where we invite 20 photographer strangers to come be our family guests.  we bring 4 friends along to help with the preparations and the food (one of them is an incredible chef!).  and then we gather for a few days.  and between sleeping in bunk beds, eating all of our meals family style around one  b i g  table, bottles of wine, campfires, laughter, tears, sunrises, and long family meetings where we dig deeper - we all become a family.  and we watch the same divine whisperer show up and change things in us all.  they open up, we open up, and everyone leaves knowing why they were there and why they will go forward from there.  it gets progressively more powerful every time we do it, and we just feel amazed that we get to be a part of facilitating such a life changing experience for everyone there.  the workshop then lives on in the lives of the photographers who are charged to go forth a part of this family.  they take a poster and use it, particularly in telling stories that are not always the easy, happy ones, but in stories where lights shines through darkness, and hope shows up in unexpected places.

w e  l o v e  t h e  d o n ' t  g i v e  u p  p r o j e c t.

Q. What is next for The Parsons?

A. our lives are proving that you just never know the answer to that question.  but we have some great hopes and dreams.  in the immediate future, what's next for us is to play with our baby Zion, go on a run, have some lunch together, and then have a Skype date with one of our potential couples before picking our two other boys up from school.   :)  we have several adventures planned out of town for weddings, shoots, and mentor sessions and are excited about those, especially the ones that we get to take the brothers along to.  :)  we are currently planning the details for the don't give up project to possibly go global, with our first overseas workshop - eek!  we also have another Colorado don't give up project on the books, and could not be more excited for the stories we get to be a part of and tell the rest of this year and in 2013.  in between all of that, we plan on loving on each other and loving other people.  feeding them good food. hearing their stories, and telling them ours.  and as long as God keeps whispering, we will keep seeing and communicating that through a little metal and glass box called a camera.

Be sure to check out Ashley and Jeremy on Facebook!

We're Hiring // Join the Rivets and Roses Team!


Woo hoo! Attention all Minneapolis wedding photographers: Our sister company, Rivets and Roses, is looking for 1 perfect photographer to join our company as a lead!  Our amazing photographer, Louisa, has been with us for two amazing seasons and is embarking on her own journey after this year, so we are looking for one more incredible individual to join our team! We have incredibly high standards and expectations for this position, so we are looking for someone who:

  • Has experience
  • Has developed their own photographic style and processing
  • Loves to shoot (but not necessarily loves to run a business)
  • Loves weddings
  • Is incredibly passionate about photography
  • Believes in outstanding customer service
  • Loves working in a team
  • Commitment
  • Inspiring Personality

If this is you, then we would LOVE to consider you for this position! Please send samples / links of your work and a resume to:

The deadline for applications is Friday, November 16th, 2012.

We're excited to be growing and can't wait to see all of the talent and opportunity out there!



Three years ago, I started a workshop called ELEVATE. It was a dream of mine and I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished at each and every workshop with our attendees. Now, I say 'we', because this workshop is all about the team of people that help me, either logistically to put this together and our guest speakers that take the time out of their incredibly busy lives to be a part of this event. ELEVATE is far bigger than just me and it takes our awesome crew to make it so special every single year. At the beginning of this month, 10 of us traveled out to New York City for the workshop. Every year, I love to host ELEVATE in a new location and inspiring space. We've been in the deserts of Palm Springs, the northern woods of Minnesota and the city streets of New York was the perfect location for this year. Why a new space every year? Because I want us all, the speakers included, to be in a place that fosters inspiration and new ideas. I also want it to feel like a complete retreat from our 'real world', so we can think outside of the box on our goals, ideas and stretch the limits of what-we-think-is-possible at home. Being in New York, this also offered us the freedom to do some cool things we have never done before at ELEVATE. We had an entire city at our fingertips and we totally took advantage of it! On day 1, we rented a studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York and had a full day of intense class time. On the second day, we were out and about in the city for a 'field trip' day. We had exclusive tours and talks at Ceci New York and Martha Stewart Weddings, which were incredibly inspirational. In between these events, we also had one-on-one mentor sessions with each attendee and some of the best conversations about life and the world of being both an artist and business person. My goal with ELEVATE is to keep the groups intimate, so each attendee can have individual attention, yet also have a diverse group to bounce ideas off of.

Our overall theme of ELEVATE NYC was about bringing Purpose and Intention in everything we do. Whether that is taking a photograph, how we structure our workflow, how we post to social media or how we approach a shoot, everything must have these two elements. Daniel Chin and Collin Hughes were my guest speakers for this workshop and it was SO great for our attendees to get different perspectives on all of our content. We are three very different photographers who all do things differently and yet, there is value in every single approach. During our field trip days, we talked to Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York about photographing details and how to be stronger shooters, as well as branding our businesses to send the perfect message to our clients. At Martha Stewart Weddings, we connected with Shira Savada, who is their Real Weddings Editor and talked about the submission process and being published in both print and blogs. All of our talks this week carried on the theme of Purpose and Intention and even though I was helping create the content, I myself, took away a world of inspiration from everyone's input, conversation and presentations.

I also have to take a moment to say a GIANT thank-you to our sponsors, who were so generous in their giveaways to our group! Thanks to: HoldFast Gear, Shawn Bielefeldt, Motibodo, Kelly Moore Bag, Black Rapid Strap, Photo Mechanic, Richard Photo Lab, Kelly Purkey and Fatty Sundays.

Last, but not least, I have to thank Chris Wegner, who was one of our attendees for making this SWEET video below! He totally went out of his way to document our time there and watching this is the perfect reminder of our week together! To all of our attendees that came to ELEVATE NYC - you are all such talented, amazing artists and people. There is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of your businesses is going to grow leaps and bounds in the next couple of years. Thank you for giving me the honor of teaching you and guiding you on your journey, but also for giving back to me and teaching me more than you know!

The ELEVATE Workshop takes place once a year, generally around the fall months. If you are interested in learning more about the next ELEVATE, keep in touch via Twitter and Facebook and our Website! To see more photos from ELEVATE NYC, check out the following links:

Sara Montour's Photos

Daniel Chin's Photos



Elevate Photography Workshop - NYC from Photogen Inc on Vimeo.

FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS // An Interview with Shewanders

I first met Suzanne at a luxury wedding conference I attend, called Engage. We were kind-of-instant-best-friends. We bonded over art, life and the crazy business of wedding photography. Suzanne is a girl who dances to the beat of her own drum and is a true vagabond. Her photography has taken her all over the world and I just absolutely love this girl's philosophy on wedding photography. On her website, she writes this. " At Shewanders, we think we tend to see the sweeter side of life. We think it’s a powerful feeling to show someone else how beautiful you think they are through film.  Where words might fail us, photographs let us express how we feel. We are happy and we like happy people. We love to capture joy on film." I think this is the essence to life as a photography and why we do what we do! Read below to learn more about Suzanne, her company and her fabulous work!  


Q. How did you begin your journey in photography?

A. I began my photography journey as a seventeen year old valley girl. That summer I spent 3 weeks in England as an exchange student through the Rotary. It was so exciting to fly from the flat central Valley to a country with stunning architecture and such varied landscapes.  It was my second trip out of the country and I learned from experience that I could not describe Europe's wonders with my storytelling skills. So my mom gave me 2 throw away cameras with 24 exposures. I remember being on one of those red double-decker buses yelling and waving to the people below and being so excited. I saw some other girls on the bus taking pictures and remembered to get mine out. My friend Jen and I had someone take our picture and then I grabbed some of the city. When I returned home and showed my friends and family my prints from the drug store it was amazing. Instead of relying on my awkward storytelling skills to share my excitement with people, I had these pictures. They were so much more effective. I could tell they could understand me in a visual way that meant a lot to me. Suddenly, I knew I was on to something. I signed up for Photo 101 and the rest is history

Q. What made you fall in love with being a wedding photographer?

A. This one is easy, it took about 5 minutes. It turned out weddings and me were love at first sight. I photographed a childhood friend's wedding. I was in the getting ready room with her mom and sister. They were helping her get dressed. Her mom looked at her with so much pride. We were all crying. The ceremony and the importance of it all left me breathless. I've always had a soft spot for portraiture and dressing up. I loved that there was so much to photograph. The intensity of the day really worked with my intuitive shooting style.  I was hooked.

Q. You have a very unique and freeing vibe to your photos. How did you define your style as an artist?   Awkwardly.... Seriously, whenever anyone asks me what is my style I become the most tongue-tied and awkward person. I know.

A. I should have an answer but some how it seems like such a personal question. My style is finding a connection to our clients. I really pride myself on finding a way for them to feel comfortable in front of me and capturing the picture that their friends will say "oh my gosh that is so you". Can trying really hard be our style? I think I feel an unusual amount of pride in our clients over our shooting techniques. Maybe our style could be attracting couples with big open hearts who love each other and capturing them in beautiful authentic moments. It's definitely our goal to capture the sweetness in life.

Q. Being in the California market, it's quite flooded. What is your approach to marketing and finding your perfect client?

A. I'm a California girl and I love the talent in our market and the sweet sweet light we have on the west coast. We make huge efforts every day to attract the right client. We make a point to show images with joy and candor. Shewanders is for happy people in love. We try our best to send out signals to those happy people. We make huge efforts to reach out to like minded people in the wedding community. I really adore it when I get a call from Courtney at Brightly Designed letting me know that she met a great vendor that's talented and NICE. I swear it's like someone yelling Eureka. I relish the chance to collaborate with vendors who will go out of their way for their clients to create a day that is incredibly special. That is the golden ticket. If everyone involved is willing to really give all that they have to create a great day then gorgeous joyous images will follow.  A huge part of our marketing is referring good people to our clients. It's a nice way to show them that we care about how their wedding day goes and that we put a lot of thought into who we would send their way.

Q. Describe the perfect 'Shewanders' client.

A. The perfect Shewanders client is a couple who is madly in love. I can't even focus to answer this question. There are so many gorgeous memories floating around in my mind. I feel so grateful for these couples who have trusted us and open their hearts to us. I guess the really perfect ones have been the couples willing to be in the moment.

There is this really beautiful moment during the ceremony that I just live for. Some where 5 or 10 minutes in to the ceremony the couples face softens. It's almost as if all of the gorgeous decorations and music just disappear and they sort of realize... oh my gosh, I'm marrying you... It's you, it's my friend who I love, who proposed to me, and now here we really are. I marry you.  That look is the perfect look. Whether it's a smile or through tears. The couples who feel all of that, I think they are the perfect ones. Ha, try to put yourself in that moment and not get teary eyed.

Q. Where do you gather your inspiration?

A. I'm so inspired by wedding designers and paper products. I adore  Brightly Designed, Ashley Meaders, Luxe Special Events, Jen Likes, Jill La Fleur, Jess Gordon, Sitting in A Tree, Beau and Arrow, Jessi Haack...and other artists like Yoshitomo Nara, Baz Luhrmann, Richard Avedon, Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz, Jonathan Adler, Prince. Destinations that I love returning to Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Sydney, San Francisco, New York. Destinations that I have yet to go to inspire me like nothing else. I can't wait to one day be sitting on the Galapagos Islands admiring all of the strange creatures, or capturing the moving landscape in Iceland or just making out with Mike at a bar in Russia. Mike inspires me just about anywhere doing any thing. Museums!! The SFMOMA, The Guggenheim in Venice, The Museum of Contemporary art in Sydney, San Diego Museum of Art, The Biennale in Venice, the little galleries in Havana, the Museo de Bellas Artes in Buenas Aires, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, oh and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. My friends and family near and far. I don't think I'll ever run out of inspiration.

Q. What do you see is a current trend when it comes to wedding photography?

A. More fun. I think everyone is starting to loosen up a little bit. I think that's a great thing.

Q. What advice do you have to photographers just entering our market?

A. Love it. Love it with everything you have. This is a great industry and passion is what fuels it. Love your clients, love your vendors, and love your craft.

Q. What advice do you have to photographers who have been in the industry for a while?

A. Probably the exact same thing. Sometimes our to do lists get overwhelming. Start over. Love your clients, love your vendors, and love your craft. Sounds cheesy but if you remember we are in the service industry and it's our job to care about our clients then loving your clients creates great work. Loving your vendors creates a great environment for everyone to work in. Loving your craft gives you something to take pride in and aspire to.

Q. What vendor relationships do you think are most relevant to the success of your business?

A. Although we need everyone to pull off a successful event, I adore strong wedding designers and expert hair and make up artists. Wedding designers keep us all on the same page, keep the friends and family happy, and make everything beautiful. Hair and Make up Artists can also make or break a day for me. My favorites ones show up on time, finish on time and keep us all on schedule. They also create natural beautiful looks that the bride is in love with. Thanks goodness for them.

Q. If you could photograph anyone, who would it be?

A. Our couples. I'm right where I want to be.

Q. What is next for Shewanders?

A. Another 10 years of photographing love!

Be sure to check out Shewanders on Facebook!

FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS // An Interview with Emily Steffen

Emily Steffen headshot Emily Steffen is a photographer I met a few years ago and have had the extreme pleasure of really getting to know over the years. Emily and I really bonded after she hired me to do a LOVEe Consult and since then, she has continued to pursue her goals, continued education thru workshops and has even endeavored into the world of film. I honestly could not be more proud of Emily and everywhere she has taken both her work and her company, while never compromising the things that are important to her in life! Emily's work is incredibly inspiring and has even been named the Best Wedding Photographer in the state of Wisconsin by Wisconsin Bride. Emily has become a great leader in our industry and is also such a cool woman with amazing energy and a passion to share her talent with others!



Q. How did you first start to photograph weddings?

A. Wedding photography combines my love of people, art and business. I realized this when I was shooting on the weekends for a larger company in the cities and started to fall more and more in love with the idea of photographing these events with the vision that I had… I wanted something full of emotion and full of life. I wanted to make my own vision happen, so I created a plan, paid off debt and dove in!  I have never looked back!

Q. What were the first steps a photographer should consider when deciding to become a wedding photographer?

A. The first steps to doing anything entrepreneurial would definitely be to nail down finances (or at least have a plan for them). This may seem like a lame answer, but when we are bogged down by the stress of paying bills it can put a MAJOR strain on the creative vision or goals for a business. You are more likely to compromise on ideals and enter into a never-ending stress-filled, downward spiral when you are doing something because it's simply a job. When your days are filled with passion and joy you will reach higher and go farther than you ever dreamed was possible!

Q. You've started to bring more film into your work. How has this transition been for you and how have you implemented it with digital?

A. The transition to bring more film into my work has been amazing! Not only is the color and quality of film something I love, but it has taken LOADS of time away from my computer. I've cut the amount of digital images from each wedding in half which means more snuggle time with my baby instead of editing! I have tried to seamlessly blend my film and digital work with the way I edit and also the way I present the finished work to clients by providing them proof prints! Shooting more film at weddings has really challenged me and forced me to think differently which I am loving!

Boston Terrier wearing a tie at a wedding

Q. How do you view your relationship with the vendors in your industry? Why are these relationships so important to you?

A. Other vendors ROCK! With an event like a wedding, everyone needs to realize that we are all a trivial part of the day when putting together a vision for a bride. From florist to cake and event coordinators to dress alterations, we are all a piece to the puzzle that will make up a bride and groom's perfect and special day. I view my relationships with other vendors as such so that I am able to work as a team even though we all may own different businesses. And let's just be real… being "Minnesota Nice" to vendors and working kindly goes a long way; you never know when your name might get brought up as a referral for another job!

Bride and Groom Wedding Portrait

Q. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration?

A. One of my most favorite ways to get inspired is from working in my studio space in my home! :) Sewing and knitting have always been close to my heart so with my sewing machine, loads of fabric and my sketchbook nearby, I just feel endless amounts of energy. Whether I am creating a new plush toy for a baby or designing a new quilt pattern, somehow this relates to my vision as an artist more than anything I've done before. I strongly feel that stepping outside of your main creative industry to find inspiration is KEY! I promise it will refresh you!

Q. Describe the perfect 'Emily Steffen' client.

A. The PERFECT Emily Steffen client is someone that is head over heals in love with their fiancé, ready to plan a joy-filled, happy wedding day with DIY touches, in a venue that has a personal connection to their story and will likely weave loads of creativity into their day! She likely sews, crafts or knits and has an appreciation for handmade items. She shops locally as often as she can and understands the value of a boutique experience! :) And most importantly, the minute she views my blog or website, she knows that I am THE photographer for her!

Bridal portrait

Q. What is one of the coolest weddings you have ever photographed. Why was it so special?

A. One of the coolest weddings I've ever photographed was a few years ago at The Enchanted Barn! The bride's best friend was also the groom's sister… her name was Jessie and she had passed away very suddenly from cancer just a year prior. Since she was such a significant part of Heather and John's lives, the couple had actually already gotten married in her hospital room just before she had passed because they simply couldn't imagine such an important event without her. And on the "wedding day" they had multiple ways to honor her and celebrate her life… because she had introduced them and gave Heather and John a chance to start their lives together!  They played a song that she had sung at another siblings wedding, they did Patron shots in her honor and Heather had worn a few pieces of her jewelry to celebrate her best friend! :) I don't' think there was a dry eye in the house for the majority of the wedding… it was a day full of celebration and memory for their best friend and sister who they had lost and a new family that had begun! It was AMAZING!

Q. What kind of work are you personally drawn to?

A. Personally I am drawn to work that oozes with a story! Images that, when put together in a collection or whole, can tell me something that I have never known or realized before. Be it a birth story, story about love, story of the everyday or a story capturing someone's accomplishments, I am a sucker for a collection with details and dialogue! It opens my eyes to the world around me and teaches me to find things everyday that is worth appreciating!

Bride and Groom kissing

Q. What are some innovative trends you are seeing in the wedding industry right now?

A. Inventive trends in the wedding industry… hmm… there seems to be quite a push towards making as many significant details for your wedding day as possible. And that is one trend that I can get behind. It's your love story and your wedding day so make it YOURS!

Q. You have recently won, for the second time in a row, the title of 'Best Photographer' from Wisconsin Bride. How has this effected your business?

A. Winning the "best of" from Wisconsin Bride magazine has been a GIGANTIC honor both personally and professionally. I feel like it has directly and immediately effected the amount of Wisconsin wedding inquiries I am getting; Wisconsin Bride Magazine is FABULOUS at promoting the contest as well as the results so it's made it's rounds on social media and online! It has also just been a huge personal accomplishment of mine; being named one of the best in the state is something to be celebrated!

Q. What is the best part about your job?

A. BY FAR, the best part about being a wedding photographer is the fact that is allows me to live the life that I've always dreamed about. I am able to be a small business owner, tailor my days the way I desire, walk my dogs when I want to, sleep in when I need to, travel, hug my baby whenever I want to, sew and more importantly I am able to be intimately invited into weddings to creatively tell the stories of other people! How amazing is that?! (and the desserts at weddings aren't too shabby either!)

Groom Kissing Bride on the shoulder in old truck

Be sure to check out Emily Steffen on Facebook!

FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS // Why I started a wedding studio vs hiring associate photographers

Eliesa Johnson At a certain point in any photographer's career, we start to think about hiring others to help us. Whether this means outsourcing editing, adding on assistants or signing up an intern - when business expands, so does our team around us. Today I want to talk about hiring on other photographers as Lead photographers...otherwise known as Associates versus creating a wedding studio. For the record, I really loathe the word 'Associate'. Personally, I think it sounds like 'second best' and if I am going to hire anyone to be a lead photographer, they are not just going to be good-enough, they are going to be the best. However, for lack-of-a-better-term, I'll use that phrase throughout.

A few years ago, my prices started reaching a more luxe price point for the Minneapolis market and I found myself turning away a ton of work. At the same time, I had a couple of assistants who were really starting to grow exponentially and were clearly on a trajectory to be amazing wedding photographers on their own. I decided to start another wedding studio, called Rivets and Roses, instead of having 'Associates' under Photogen Inc. I did this for several reasons, which I will get into later, but I first started the brand with one photographer and this past winter, we officially hired on four more artists to make Rivets and Roses an official wedding photography studio. I have to say, having a second brand, or really our sister company, as we like to call it, has been nothing but a positive experience and I wanted to give some advice to those of you considering bringing on other photographers as Leads. Here are 5 things to consider when starting a wedding studio or hiring associate photographers:

Rivets and Roses Wedding Studio

 NUMBER ONE // Structure Your Business Right from the Beginning:

If you are going to hire on photographers to work for you, it's important to think about how you want your business to be structured in the long run. If you take a long, hard look at this at the beginning of this journey, it will totally benefit you in the end, rather than having to restructure your business twice. Many photographers have associate shooters under the same company name and this works for them! However, when it came time for me to make this decision, I chose to start a completely different brand. Why? There are a few reasons:

  • What if it failed? I was a little nervous about the idea of having other photographers and it not going so well. What if it was too much? What if they did a bad job? I didn't want that coming down on a company that I had worked so hard to build, so separating the two brands made sense to me.
  • I didn't want our photographers to feel like they were second best. I felt like if they were shooting under Photogen Inc., clients might think of our artists as 'the discount photographer' or even 'second best' to myself. I wanted to give them more freedoms to be their own individual artists and thrive under a studio name, rather than my name.
  • I wanted to start a studio that was different from a general photography studio. I really do believe that brides and grooms should be able to find their perfect photographer, no matter their price point. I also feel like it is important that they get the top-of-the-line experience. Money is always a factor in clients decision making but when it comes to a wedding day, everyone deserves an amazing experience. The goal with Rivets and Roses is to provide an experience for both our artists and clients. For our couples, we want them to come to the website, browse thru our photographer's portfolios and really choose the person that they connect with - both thru their images and personality - the most. Once their wedding has taken place, our studio continues to take care of all of the post processing, album design, etc. I have the highest of standards, and everything meets those requirements before it leaves the door! For our photographers, they are able to strengthen and grow their talents while being supported by our studio. It's literally a win-win for everyone!

Now, with this said, there are many photographers who choose to have photographers under their name and it works perfectly for them! This has just been my experience. If this is something you are looking to doing, simply look at your business from all angles to see which model is right for you!

Wedding couple at the alter

NUMBER TWO // Build it Slow:

When I first started Rivets and Roses, I had only one photographer at a time. I am SO happy this is the way I chose to start this brand, because I learned SO much. Growing our sister company slowly has helped us build a fantastic reputation with the local Minneapolis market and honestly - who knows where we will take it! There is a world of opportunity out there! Building this over a couple of years has also helped me solidify my visions for the brand and where I wanted to take it. There was a little 'gut feeling' I had last winter where I KNEW that it was time to take Rivets to the next level. I decided to 'put it out there' to hire on more photographers and make it an official wedding photography studio, and it was a little scary. I didn't know what kind of people might apply or what people might think of me doing this, but honestly - I was blown away. We had SO many talented photographers apply to be a part of Rivets and Roses and I felt so humbled. This is also when I realized that this was going to be a big success. I am SO impressed with the quality of our team and just how amazingly they have come together to build up our brand and also create amazing work for their clients!

engaged couple in a field

NUMBER THREE // Empower Your Photographers:

This is so so so so so so so important. Honestly, I'm a pretty hands-off boss lady when it comes to our photographers. I'm here to structure things, guide them, critique their work and give advice...but I also want to empower them to be their own artists, with their own ideas and handle their clients in their own way. This approach is one of the key reasons why I think we have such an amazing crew. Each of our artists feel like they 'own' a part of this brand and every individual has so much to offer and bring to the table. Our photographers are in charge of answering their inquiries, setting up client meetings and being the leader on the day-of. They're also in charge of running their blog, notifying our editor, etc. In other studio situations, clients are simply 'placed' with photographers and compensated on a per-hour basis. When I started Rivets and Roses, I wanted to make sure it was worth everyone's while. Our photographers are compensated very well for their work and we sat down with each individual artist to make sure their rates made sense and also that their editing style can be processed by our editor, so their unique processing is true to each individual artist. If everyone feels like they have ownership in a dream, it's going to soar. As the leader, I don't want to overly-control too much. Passion is a strong, beautiful force that can take an idea and make it brilliant.

engaged couple in front of old garage

NUMBER FOUR // Set Expectations:

Obviously, there needs to be structure in a business with 5 photographers under it. When we launched Rivets and Roses with more artists, we sat down and really nailed down our workflows to make sure that there were 'routines' in places. Every one of our artists follows the same workflow from start to finish. Of course, this also takes time to train in and get everyone on the same page. Some things to consider are:

  • Who books the clients?
  • How do you organize your inquiries? (I highly recommend Shoot Q!)
  • Who books your assistant for a wedding?
  • How much does the photographer get paid and when do they get paid?
  • How are the files managed?
  • What are the expectations in dealing with clients? (Literally  - how do you answer the phone?)
  • After the photographer's contract is done, do they get any of the images for their portfolios?
  • Who makes the contracts? Who's in charge of the money?
  • What is the goal for both the artist and the studio?
  •  What are the specific roles of the artist and the studio?

Know that if you are starting a studio, you need to take the time to invest in your photographers, setting expectations for them and making everything clear. If you are clear in the beginning about everything - even the uncomfortable things like money, photo rights, terms of contracts, etc. this will save you a potential headache and heartache later on. Invest in a lawyer and make sure you have a solid contract. All of our photographers are contract for a minimum of 2 full wedding seasons and after that they are welcome to stay or some are ready to take the leap and go on their own...which leads me to....

engaged couple in an old dinner

NUMBER FIVE// Be OK With Change:

Whenever you decide to hire people, whether that be a studio manager, editor, and assistant or another lead photographer, know this: people are always going to eventually leave. In my opinion, if I am doing my job right, eventually every one of my photographers will eventually be strong enough and prepared enough to be amazing on their own. With that said, there are certain personalities who are perfect for working for a studio and others who thrive to be on their own. Honor this. Honor the needs of your staff and understand that they need to go where their heart leads them. Now, I know I just got all touchy-feely-hippy on you, but we are all artists here. Artists always want more and we always strive to be better. Change in inevitable in business and as entrepreneurs, we need to be accepting, ready and able to deal with change in a positive way. Change moves us forward and helps us gain momentum for bigger and better things.

engaged couple in front of Minnehaha Falls

Rivets and Roses Wedding Studio Website

To learn more about Rivets and Roses and our team of photographers, visit our website and blog!  If you are considering hiring more photographers under your brand, there is a lot to think about. My goal with this post is to encourage you and give some helpful tips on the 'big' things to think about! Hopefully this helped; however, if you have additional questions on running a studio, you can always e-mail me at: eliesa (at)

You can also check out Rivets and Roses on Facebook.

FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS // An Interview with Liz Banfield

Liz Banfield Headshot

Liz Banfield is one of my favorite photographers. Personally, I love how refined and simply gorgeous her work is and I believe she is a person in our industry who is going 'to go down in the books.' What do I mean by this? Liz's work is timeless. As an artist she has stuck to her film roots and has still continued to run a successful business by not making the switch to digital. There will always be an aesthetic to film that no action can every compare in digital. It's pure, beautiful and should remind us why we are all photographers. Stylistically, Liz's work has notes of photojournalism, along with a more editorial tone that simply comes together to create stunning imagery that will continue to inspire for generations to come!

Q.  How did you first start to photograph weddings?

A. Before I was a professional, I was that person who was taking pictures all the time. When I got to the age when my friends were getting married, shooting pictures at their weddings was a very natural extension of what I had always done. This was also the era when wedding photography was transforming from a rigid, traditional approach to one with it's roots in fine art and photojournalism. At the time I was working as an executive in advertising and my stylish advertising colleagues were at the forefront of this trend. Soon I graduated from "friend" photographer to "official" photographer and was shooting their weddings on weekends.

Q. What were the first steps a photographer should consider when deciding to become a wedding photographer?

A. Make sure you are pursuing it for the right reason -- because the assignment inspires you, not because you think you'll make money. Assuming your motivation checks out, carefully consider the lifestyle choice you are making. Are you willing to work evenings, weekends and practically every holiday weekend throughout the year? And that's not just shooting. Wedding clients usually have full time jobs and will want to do consultations, engagement sessions, and conference calls all during their spare time and almost never during the regular work day. Also, ask yourself if you are willing to miss the weddings or other celebrations of your own friends/family because you booked a particular date a year in advance. I have missed many over the years.

Brides and Groom in classic car

Q.  How do you view your relationship with the vendors in your industry? Why are these relationships so important to you?

A. I can tell you that without a doubt, my relationships with other creative partners in the wedding business has been essential to my business success. You never know who will give you your next great referral. It can come from unexpected places, even someone you might consider to be your competitor. I always go out of my way to help and connect with other industry professionals. Many have become close personal friends in the process.

Q. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration?

A. I was an Art History major in college so my favorite place to gather visual inspiration is at a museum. When I'm traveling I always try to make time to visit one or two while I'm in town. At home, I love the Minneapolis Institute of Art for it's vast mix of art throughout the ages. I also read fashion and interior design magazines for inspiration. I try to live an artful, aesthetic life. Everything I do feeds into my life as an artist, from the shoes I'm wearing to the restaurants I seek out. I embrace inspiration and celebrate good design every day.

Q. Describe the perfect 'Liz Banfield' client.

A. I have a wide range of clients from school teachers to art collectors, all of them "perfect" in different ways, but the most important factor is that they appreciate what I do and put their trust in me.

Q. What is one of the coolest weddings you have ever photographed. Why was it so special?

A. Oh, it's so hard to play favorites! As an artist I thrive on photographing things that are new to me, visually. My first Hindu wedding was for CNN Correspondent Sanjay Gupta. He arrived at the ceremony on a white horse. And the festive, expressive nature of a traditional Indian celebration, not to mention all the bright colors -- I was in heaven!

Sanjay Gupta Indian Wedding

Q. What kind of work are you personally drawn to?

A. I'm a sucker for great design with a touch of the human hand. Objects and images that are perfect and balanced but with a little imperfection or spontaneity thrown in.

outdoor wedding reception tablescape

Q. What are some innovative trends you are seeing in the wedding industry right now?

A. Extending beyond the wedding day, clients are wanting to chronicle more and more of their entire wedding experience, from the engagement party to celebrating their first anniversary. I can easily see this blossoming into other events, such as the bachelorette. And I know it sounds a little crazy (and it hasn't happened yet) but I'm hoping that some day to be invited to capture travel highlights of the honeymoon. Wouldn't it be amazing to have your once in a lifetime trip documented professionally? Romantic shots of the new couple wandering the streets of Venice, sailing the Caribbean, up close and personal with the lions on a Safari... I see so much potential here!

Q.  You are so respected in our industry. How do you continue to stay inspired?

A. I have always been careful to respect my workload. I don't take more than 15 weddings a year and that has allowed me to stay fresh over a long period of time. This is my 14th year as a full-time professional and I still feel excited as ever to be shooting weddings.

Q. What is the best part about your job?

A. I have to say it's the shooting itself -- the actual creation of images and the challenge of always looking for the next one that really excites me. When I get a shot that I know is really good, a surge of happiness goes all the way down to my toes.

Kissing couple at wedding

Q. What kind of differences do you see in weddings in Minnesota vs other parts of the states?

A. In general, I think regional differences are really diminishing because people share ideas over the blogs, pinterest, etc. I've actually seen this change take place throughout my career. People travel more than ever to attend weddings all over the world. While doing so they are curating their ideas and notions for their own celebration.

I will say that midwesterners tend to be more pragmatic when it comes to planning their day. They aren't as hung up on traditions or how it's "supposed" to be done. Also, the culture of the midwest influences the style of the wedding, which tends to be more understated and less flamboyant than in other regions. The ultimate compliment to a Minnesota wedding might be "pretty!" whereas in Texas it might be "wow!"

There are lingering traditions in other parts of the country that I find charming. Down South, for example, the Best Man is usually the groom's father. I think that's so sweet! Also, many other regions have started to adopt this, but a "Southern-Style" reception is a stand-up affair with food stations. In the North, a sit-down dinner is much more typical.

Be sure to check out Liz Banfield on Facebook!

For Photograhers // Getting Your Wedding Published

Megan Mccarty Headshot As a photographer, getting published is invaluable. Seeing our work in print is the ultimate experience as well, because not only does it put a few more notches in our belts of being a professional, but it also gives us the opportunity to share our work with the world! In my business, I have always followed the idea to publicize, not advertise. This means, I choose to spend time submitting to various wedding magazines for print and also to wedding blogs for publication, instead of spending the money on an expensive advertisement to sit in the pages of the magazine. I want people to see more of our work and you should, too! Here in Minneapolis, we are super lucky to have a great bridal publication that supports our industry greatly, called Minnesota Bride.

We caught up with the Web Editor, and oh-so-fun Megan Mccarty, to ask her some questions on the submission process and some things to keep in mind when you are considering submitting a wedding to be published.

Q. What is the best part about your job?

A. So be it if this makes me sound like a big ol’ suck-up, but I’ve always said my job goes ‘round because of photographers. You hit the ground running, capturing the weddings that make our magazines and websites what they are. From those we hand-pick what we want to portray to the next round of brides-to-be. If the worst part of my job is being forced to look at Zapfino, the favorite font of the industry that makes my eyeballs hurt, I’d say I’m a lucky gal.[quoteRight]Photographers happen to be some of my favorite people in this big, bad world, and I thank my Taurus stars to call many of them my friends.[/quoteRight]

Q. How did you start writing for Minnesota Bride and how long have you been there?

A. Some days I feel as if I’ve been with Minnesota Bride forever, and that’s a good thing. At the wide-eyed age of 19 I walked through the front door of Tiger Oak Publications, asking for an internship. Ten minutes later I walked out with one. My former editor (hi, Mary!) took me in as her editorial intern and a year and a half later created this position, Web Editor, for me. After a large handful of years I’m still here, lucky enough to look at pretty things all day. My business card squeezes it all in: Web Editor for Tiger Oak Publications’ bridal titles: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Seattle and Oregon Bride.

Q. What are the first steps a photographer should consider when deciding to submit a wedding for consideration to be published?

A. First off, become familiar with the publication. Know the departments, the editors’ names and the type of content we regularly publish. Then be honest with yourself: Is this wedding of the caliber that we feature? A terrific photographer can capture a ho-hum wedding, so be your own editor before you submit. Keep in mind deadlines, presentation and the submission directions too.  ...And please, don’t spell my name with an “h.” That “ouch” you hear is you stepping on my wrong foot.

Q. What goes into your decision as to what to publish?

A. A number of questions rotate through my head: Has it been published elsewhere? Is it timely? What’s different about this? Is there an interesting story to back up the pretty pictures? A couple years ago, when Minnesota Bride was choosing between two Photogen Inc. weddings to feature, we ultimately chose this Guthrie Theater ceremony because, in typical Eliesa fashion, you exclaimed—literally, using a slew of cap letters and exclamation points—in your submission that the groom had donated a kidney to the bride. (That’s what they call love, I believe.) But ultimately it mostly needs to stir up some sort of emotion from that indescribable spot in my stomach.

Then, of course, there are other factors that you can blame on procedure: How many pages do we have to work with? Is it too similar to something else we’re running? Have we featured this photographer or venue recently? Was it submitted on time?

Q. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration?

A. In terms of bridal, I consider, Real Simple Weddings, New York Weddings and all things Martha top-notch. But my own inspiration—which then translates into my 9-5’s—is stirred up from sites such as The Everygirl, magazines like Kinfolk (my Bible), products sold on Fab and books of blank pages that I fill with my own thoughts.

Q. What makes Minnesota Bride different and unique in an industry filled with wedding blogs and magazines?

A. It’s all about the “Minnesota” in Minnesota Bride. That Monique Lhuillier gown on the cover? 50th & France is just a drive away. That bride on page 62? She could be your old roommate from college. For such a large state, we live in a tiny city, so at the end of the day (whether that’s a summer Friday at 4 p.m. or a deadline day at midnight) our big, beautiful magazine seems like a glossy scrapbook of friends.

Q. What is one of the coolest submissions you have ever seen? Why was it so special?

A. A few years ago, as I was coming into my role as Web Editor, I came across this wedding by Gene Pease of Geneoh Photography. He was new-ish on the Minnesota photography scene, and I nearly snake-bit his arm to submit it. Not only was the wedding creative, detail-rich and photographed to perfection, but I had a guttural reaction to feature Gene’s not-so cookie cutter work before everyone else did. Fast forward a few months and Kelsey and Jacob’s wedding was the two-page opener to Minnesota Bride’s Newlyweds feature. Worth a little arm twisting, no?

Q. What kind of work are you personally drawn to?

A.  Though our Pinterest-y world is attracted to details, I’m a sucker for moments. No thanks to forced poses, but yes please to first looks, rogue groomsmen and genuine belly laughs. I’m looking for a story—a beginning (getting ready), middle (ceremony) and end (reception). Even better? A prequel (engagement session) and sequel (day-after, maternity).

Q. What are some innovative trends you are seeing in the wedding industry right now?

A. I could not care less if succulents are popping up in bouquets or when yellow and grey will seize to be the color scheme of choice. However, personalization is now the norm for weddings, so your photography should be too. Sure, to appease the bride’s mother, you’ll need to capture the frame-friendly family photos, but others (ahem, me) would rather see the couple plunging into the ocean or a mascara-streaked face of tears. Make me study a photo, wondering what yoga pose you wiggled yourself into to capture it, what the subject is thinking or even what the hell is going on.

Q. What do you, as an editor, want in collaboration with photographers?

A. Help me help you. Submissions don’t need to be accompanied by a singing telegram—actually, please, never do that—but including a vendor list and the couple’s contact information is certainly helpful. The easier you make my job, the more likely you are to creep up my mental list of reliable, organized, go-to photographers.

Send your submissions (or just say hello!) to Megan—no "h"—at

The Oscars & Weddings // My Winners List!

Ok, this might be a little cheezy, but as I was watching the Oscars last night, I was thinking…Who in our industry would win these categories, if applied to Wedding & Portrait Photography? I had a little fun with this and put together my ‘Winners List’, hoping to simply share some people’s work that I’ve seen and been utterly inspired by!Best Picture: Mario Testino for Kate Moss’s Wedding in Vogue(If you haven’t seen all of the images, you definitely should.)

Photographer (Male) in a Leading Role: Max Wagner


Photographer (Male) in Supporting Role: Allan Zepeda (Allan works super hard on the Mel & Co Team in NYC. I’ve had the pleasure of having him assist me as well, and he is stellar.)


Photographer (Female) in Leading Role: Elizabeth Messina (Her work is the most beautiful, lovely, bridal photography ever. It’s simply the best.)


Photographer (Female) in Supporting Role: Lacie Hansen (Lacie is best known for being the right-hand-lady to Mr. Jose, but she has some killer work on her own!)


Best Editing: Angelica Glass


Costume Design: Jennifer B. Hudson


Documentary Feature: Riccis


Film Editing: John Dolan


Visual Effects: Ashley Lebedev


Humanitarian Award: Paper Antler & The Fifty Nifty Project (Seriously, the coolest mission ever.)

Paper Antler.jpg

Hopefully you all discovered someone new!

Here’s to Monday, have a great week!


We're Hiring!! Rivets and Roses Photography!



I'm SUPER excited to finally share this great news with you all!

As many of you know, and for those of you who don't, I own another wedding photography company, called Rivets and Roses. This is our sister company, and has been around for a few years, with our own crew members growing into the roles of lead photographers under this brand! We have had amazing success with Rivets and Roses, and it's time to, for the first time ever, hire new lead photographers to shoot for the company and join our team! I'm SO proud of the work that our current photographer, Louisa, has been producing and we want to continue that trend by hiring only the best of the best!

I started this brand with the intention of having it support 3-4 photographers, and I am looking for THE most AMAZING people to be a part of this!

I am looking for photographers who:

Are Experienced Love to photograph weddings Have a great sense of style Give the absolute BEST in customer service Have inspiring personalities Love to connect with people Outgoing Organized Detail Oriented Confident Have an amazing work ethic Passionate Work well in a team Love to have fun!

This opportunity is perfect for photographers who want to photograph weddings and create an amazing client base without the necessity of running their own business. This will be an independently contracted position and photographers will be responsible for supplying their own professional gear. We also require a 2 season commitment for this position. Compensation will be a contracted rate per booking to be discussed upon hire. Other job responsibilities include:

Blogging/Social Media (under company's website) Creating and updating online portfolios (under company's website) E-mail correspondence with potential clients Client Meetings Vendor Relations Prep for actual Wedding Day Photographing Engagement Sessions and Wedding Day coverage File Management with the studio Client Follow Up

If you are interested in being a part of Rivets & Roses and joining our team, please e-mail your resume and samples of your work to:

Engage 2011 // Grand del Mar

Last week, I flew to San Diego to attend Engage11! Engage is a 'luxury business summit' for wedding professionals in the luxe wedding market...but I'd rather refer to it as the 'best networking/hangout experience' I've ever had when it comes to investing in my personal continuing education. Engage has absolutely everything to do with its name. The sole purpose of this conference is to build solid, lasting relationships with vendors all around the world. This is my second time attending Engage, and it was really, really cool to see just how amazing the connections I made at the last conference have grown into some truly awesome relationships!

The event is put on by two amazing women, Kathryn and Rebecca. Their vision was to bring together the best-of-the-best and give us all an experience to inspire, connect and collaborate, to simply make our industry the absolute best it can possibly be! They have raised the bar in SO many ways, and the most impressive part about our weeks at Engage is all in the details. Absolutely every little thing has so much thought put into it, for instance, while planning out our coffee break, they didn't just put out a pot of coffee, instead they took-it-to-another-level and created an entire array of coffee-flavored-treats and goodies to keep us going! You see, Engage is all about the experience and this week is all about learning HOW to better serve our clients, vendors and potential clients to give them THE ultimate experience. I didn't take out my camera all week, simply because I wanted to soak it all in. All of the speakers, all the gorgeous details, food and drink - I wanted to taste, listen, learn and meet absolutely everything I could from this amazing group of people who I was surrounded by! And, thanks to the AMAZING crew of Mel Barlow & Co, I have these stellar images to show you!

There is just so much I would love to share with you all, but I feel like 6 different blog posts might be too much (and if you follow my twitter feed, you are probably already sick of hearing about this, but too bad :0) It's just to000 good! ) So, here are some of my favorite little tidbits:

"This fittin' in is some bullshit" - Diann Valentine

"When your work is being emulated, you need to move your business forward, and you must be open to changing your business often" - Todd Fiscus

"Excellence is not optional" - Cindy Novotny

"Develop relationships with key people who will make things happen for you, not just the popular kids" - Cindy Novotny

"If you're shopping against price, I'm expensive" - Marcy Blum

"$106,000 is the average budget for a luxe wedding" - Carly Roney

"Details are not going away" - Mindy Weiss

" Love deeper, Dream bigger" - Monique Lhuillier " Success depends on perseverance and the relationships we build" - Michelle Rago

" Fail Forward" -Simon T. Baily

"If you are going to be relevant in the future, who are you going to partner with?" - Simon T. Baily

"Success is an attitude. Get yours right. It is astonishing how short a time it takes for very wonderful things to happen." - David Beahm

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Again, a HUGE thank you to Mel, Judith and Allan for taking all the amazing photos above! You all worked your asses off this week, so I wouldn't have to and I SO appreciate it! To all the lovely & talented friends I saw and new friends I met, it was so great to experience this all with you! We ate, we drank, we laughed, we learned, we talked, we danced and as cheesy as it may sound...we engaged! :0)


Paper Antler: The Fifty Nifty Project!

Attention Photographers // This post is for YOU! I absolutely LOVE making new friends in the photography industry and, more importantly, coming across new work that is AWESOME! My new friends, Michelle and Jonny are the incredible artists behind Paper Antler! They are currently based here in Minneapolis, but have a super cool project in the works!

Michelle and Jonny are all about giving back! They have a philosophy that no matter how much or little you make, you are still able to donate and give back to others! They support an organization called She Dances, which is a non-profit that focuses on finding help for victims of human trafficking. The organization just built a safe-house for women in Honduras and Paper Antler is trying to raise $50,000 to help sustain the safe-home!

Here's the scoop:

For the 2012 season, Michelle and Jonny will be going on a giant road trip! Their goal is to photograph 50 weddings in 50 states over the year, $1000 from each wedding being donated towards their cause.

How can you help? As photographers, we all know that there are many dates that we get multiple inquiries for!  If you are already booked for a date, and think Paper Antler might be a good fit, feel free to send along your inquiries to them to help them reach their goal! Simple as that!


Personally, I think this is a super cool call-to-action that Michelle and Jonny are doing and we have an amazingly supportive industry! How cool would it be to see them accomplish this?!?! The best part about what we do is the fact that we get to inspire the world on a daily basis with our images. This project is super inspiring to me, so I thought I would share! SPREAD THE WORD!!!


Vegas 2011!!

WHEW!!! Every year we travel to Las Vegas for WPPI, which is one of the biggest conventions for wedding photographers around. Every year, our time spent here goes by SO fast and it just seems like a giant whirlwind, and even though we tried to simplify things this year, it was still pretty darn crazy!

This year was truly all about seeing our friends! We didn't schedule any shoots, or talks, workshops or anything educational, for that matter. Our focus was to really see the people we love so much who live all around the country!! We did give some love to our friends at Red Cart, who are one of our all-time-favorite vendors around! Some highlights for me were to see my ladies, have some awesome conversations with Daniel Chin and Bryan Johnson, dance with the Solar's, and tear it UP with our one and only Photogen Inc. Crew!

I took along my Yashica T4 Camera - and here are the incriminating and very hilarious photos of some of my lovely lovely friends!


I think the ultimate highlight of my Vegas experience this year was attending an outdoor concert, at SUNRISE...after a big night of dancing, it was brutal to get up and going again (after an hour of sleep...that was stupid), but it was SO FREAKING WORTH IT!!! The concert was put on by a company called With Etiquette, who are working to legit-ly license music by some AMAZING musicians for us all to use on our websites, videos, etc. This particular event featured music from Jesh DeRox, Kelli Schaefer, and The Ravishers. The uber-cool-kids over at Still Motion put together this amazing video! It was such a cool experience to be out in the middle of nowhere, at sunrise, for no particular reason than to breathe in the fresh air and listen to some amazing music!

we bring the sun // WE from stillmotion on Vimeo.

Cheers to another fabulous year in Sin City!


Vegas Baby!


Our annual mecca to Las Vegas for the WPPI Convention is just days away!!! This year, we will be hanging out at the Red Cart booth again, spreading the love about this amazing company! We will also be attending the oh-so-popular Airplanes & Blazers party, followed up by the Sunrise concert, because who doesn't want to stay up all night and top it off with a desert sunrise and some invigorating music? Vegas is all about flying by the seat of your pants - literally, there are so many other amazing parties and gatherings to attend!! Make sure to follow our twitter to see what we are up to and make sure to say HI, along the way!!!

There is bound to be endless amount of incriminating photos in the week to're not going to want to miss this!