Photography Business

Our FREE UNLIMITED PLAN winner – interview with Katy Gray

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In January, we were so excited to partner with ShootProof and offer a free year of the UNLIMITED plan as part of a joint giveaway. Katy Gray of Katy Gray Photography won our portion of the prize, and we had a chance to sit down and talk with her to learn more about her business and how she is enjoying working with ShootDotEdit.

Katy lives in Jackson, WY, with her husband and two boys, ages 5 and 2. She runs a busy household while maintaining a successful photography business. Katy tells us that her summer wedding season runs from the fourth of July until the end of September, because in June and October you run the risk of snow interfering with the traditional Jackson Hole outdoor wedding! Katy lives and breathes weddings in the summer and enjoys the snow in the winter and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Describe a day in the life of Katy Gray.

“Get up and get the kids ready and fed and off to preschool and daycare. If it’s winter, maybe head out to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and snowboard a little. If it’s summer or if I have an off season wedding to work on, sit down and spend the afternoon culling or working on album design. Then get the kids, eat, family time, bed! “

What was your initial reaction when you discovered that you won FREE and UNLIMITED editing for a year?

“Disbelief. Followed closely by excitement!”

Now that you have free UNLIMITED editing for a year, what areas of your business do you plan to focus on?

 “Honestly, I’m looking forward to the extra time to spend with my family! Business-wise, though, I’m planning on networking heavily, really pushing images out to other vendors and encouraging them to use my (watermarked, of course) images on their blogs and websites.”

Katy had used another company prior to making the switch to ShootDotEdit. She was worried about the time commitment needed to change her workflow to add in ShootDotEdit but found that the ShootDotEdit Color Consultants and Customer Experience team were wonderful in helping her get working fast.

“It was a bit intimidating at first, but we got a system worked out, and I was super pleased with the results. I got the first DotPreview back from ShootDotEdit, and I was really happy with it! There were some challenging images in there—blown skies, lots of snow and shadowed faces, and ShootDotEdit did a great job.”

How long does it typically take you to edit a wedding?

“Using Photo Mechanic, I cull a wedding in 2–3 hours, maybe less once it’s fully into the season and I’m back in editing shape. Then when I get my edited files back from ShootDotEdit, I take a run-through in Lightroom, making sure there isn’t anything in there that shouldn’t be and doing some micro adjustments. I convert to black and white at this point as well. Since I outsourced, I probably spend 6 hours getting a wedding ready to show to the bride and groom and another 4 hours working on their slideshow and album.”

What inspired you to become a wedding photographer?

“My own wedding photos. I had just graduated with my photography degree the year before and didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my degree until I saw our photos and realized how fun it could be to photograph people. So I pestered our wedding photographer to let me second shoot with him at a few weddings, shot a few for friends, and have been all systems go since then.”

If you could be any super hero, who would you be and why?

“Definitely Batman or Ironman. They’ve got the coolest gadgets.”

If ShootDotEdit were a super hero, who would they be?

“DOTMAN!!!!”

We do have a super hero mascot—and we call him DOTMAN! Here is a picture of DotMan at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro with another ShootDotEdit Photographer, Corrado Amenta.

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Thank you, Katy! We are so excited to partner with you on your post-processing for this year and hopefully beyond!

Are you interested in seeing how UNLIMITED editing can help your business? Click HERE to learn more!

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How to Book your Dream Client

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every wedding you shot was with clients that you felt you had known forever? If each of these events could have been taken right out of your dreams? Building a successful photography business doesn’t mean you have to work with just anyone who will book you. Engaging with your dream clients can become a reality in just a few easy steps.

Visualize

It may sound strange, but before you can find the perfect client, you need to know who you are and what kind of photographer you want to be. Reflect on your passions, on the things that you truly love. Imagine your perfect work day. Really think about the details of what you love to do. Identify what you do and don’t want to do. Think critically about who you want to work with and why.

Photographer Kellie Coughlin shares:

“I’ve found that I have to BE my dream client in order to attract my dream client. Whenever I am in the position as “consumer” or “client,” I make every effort to treat that vendor exactly how I want my dream client to treat me. And when I have a client who I find less than dreamy, I take time after our interaction to really meditate on what made that client someone who I didn’t want to work with.”

Specialize

Author and specialism guru Jeff Jochum says in his book, Work Happily Ever After;

“Anyone can copy what you do; no one can copy who you are. In truth, it’s not magic, though to outsiders it probably looks like it. The essence to making Specialism work for your business is that you must stand for something other than ‘making money’ to make this happen. Your WHO becomes your primary differentiator, and the real value of your business. We call this ‘YOUniqueness.'”

If you love the outdoors and love shooting outdoor ceremonies—go after it. If you’re an editorial city-lover, focus on that clientele. Don’t think of specializing as limiting yourself—think of it as channeling your passion into what you do best. Doing so allows you the best opportunity to work with people and places that you love. When you enjoy what you are shooting, your clients will notice and refer you to their like-minded friends and family.

Publicize

Once you’ve identified who you are and what you want to photograph, make sure to advertise the point. Have an “About me” section on your website that discusses your passions. Talk about them on your blog. Reach out to other related sites to network. If you love weddings that feature a dog as the ring bearer, perhaps do a guest spot on an animal shelter blog about how to structure the day to be best for the dog. Most importantly, show the kinds of images that you want to shoot in all of your marketing. Becoming known as an expert in your particular niche will attract like-minded people into your life.

Sarah Roshan, a wedding photographer based in Colorado shared how she has used these steps to book her dream clients:

“Booking the perfect clients started becoming a priority for me for about a year and a half ago. I was booking great clients but not at the price point that I wanted.

Specialism was key for me. I declared on my website that I only photograph romantic mountain weddings for carefree couples. Sounds great, but it was real and authentic to who I was. I am a mountain girl who sees the world through rose colored romantic glasses. I changed my bio to state only what I stand for and who I am instead of what I do, and something amazing started happening. It started bringing me exactly the type of clients I want.

The game changer for me was understanding that the only thing that makes me different than every other photographer in the world was that I am me. No one can be me. People generally want to work with people that are similar to themselves, so by putting myself out there authentically to the world, the absolute right people began to call me and book me, most of them in a twenty minute conversation over the phone.

I was attracting such a specific client that I ended up with 2 brides that had the same tattoo within the same year. The tattoo: the directions to Neverland—a perfect example of my ideal, romantic, carefree client. Both couples paid my fee with no questions or push back, and I had an absolutely wonderful time working with them.

Declaring who I am on my website has been life-changing. I have become more of who I want to be, and my clients help make me more of who I want to be too. I am working happier, with amazing people who appreciate me and my work.”

Following these key concepts will help you to identify and attract the perfect client for you and your business. Are you ready to get started? We’ve compiled some questions that will help send you in the right direction.

  • Identify five features or traits that exist within your Dream Client.
  • Determine three areas that are essential to who YOU are, the elements that construct your YOUniqueness.
  • List three action steps that you can start working on immediately to personalize your brand and begin booking your Dream Client.

Booking clients to your wedding photography business is the best way to grow your business! To learn more marketing tips and tricks that will intrigue your clients, download our Guide to Marketing for Wedding Photographers!

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3 Reasons you haven’t considered in partnering with a Specialist

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Deciding to partner with a Specialist in your wedding photography business is a big commitment, and not one to be taken lightly. In previous articles, we have shared some reasons why you should trust a Specialist. We’ve also shown a glimpse at how ShootDotEdit in particular, has been able to streamline other wedding photographers’ workflow and to help them run a more profitable business. Other than the most obvious reason of saving time, here are three additional reasons you may not have considered when choosing to bring an outside partner into your business.

Specialized Focus

When building your photography business, you made a choice in your specialization. You took the time to get to know what story you love to tell through your images and created a business around it. This was a strategic decision to increase your productivity and your profitability. Not to mention, you may enjoy shooting weddings far more than portraits or products. Now, think about that logic with your post-production work. Specialists are trained in the science of color correction. This is something they have chosen to excel in.

You may dread spending hours working on editing your images, but the experts at a company like ShootDotEdit can help to ease this pain point. By using their expertise and knowledge, especially of the science of color correcting, it will get done faster. This will allow you to reduce your overall client turnaround. Then you can spend those hours invested in your specialty and let them invest in theirs.

Artistic Freedom

If given the opportunity to spend 8 hours capturing beautiful images, or 8 hours working on color correction… what would you choose? It’s not really a hard question. As a professional, your time is valuable. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed especially in the busy season, feeling that creative spark dimming slightly in the face of how much work there is to be done. By finding a specialist and sharing the load, it can free up your time to do what you do best. Invest in others to be able to profit from the freedom that their help will offer you!

Increased Consistency

You probably don’t really think consistency can be a reason to work with an outside partner. Many photographers can change styles from one click of the shutter to the next! But being able to deliver consistent quality, every time, and the ability to have all of your images match your brand is a big benefit that you might not notice. ShootDotEdit’s color corrections are complete and custom, and by utilizing the 90/10 method it allows you to focus on that part of the process that you do best: the artistic edits and finishing touches that bring the images to life.

The bottom line is that your business, like your photography, is unique. You bring your own signature style to your customers and that’s what makes them want to hire you. Partnering with a Specialist, finding ways to streamline your workflow and maximize your time, can help you devote more of yourself into your passion for photography and build the business of your dreams.

Download our free guide to learn all the different areas a Specialist can help you in your business!
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Partner Interview: ShootProof

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We are excited to continue our partner spotlight series and showcase another one of our trusted vendors. This week we will be focusing on ShootProof, built to help photographers share and sell their images online. We had the opportunity to speak with Kristi Kvenild, one of the ShootProof Loyalty Builders, to learn what she loves about the company.

ShootProof was co-founded by Robert & Colin in Atlanta, GA in 2009. Robert’s wife Tessa, a professional photographer, was looking for an online client facing gallery. She could not find a solution that was functional, affordable, and beautiful. So they, along with Colin, set out to create one. When the first version was complete, the response was overwhelming and positive. Now, many versions later, ShootProof is used by tens of thousands of photographers from 27 countries around the world.

ShootProof places importance on certain key features, setting them apart from other solutions available today. First and most unique is their Commission-Free Sales. ShootProof does not charge a fee for anything that a photographer may sell while using their galleries. Photographers pay for the storage used instead of commissions of sales, allowing them to keep all of the money they earn with their hard work.

Customer Support is equally important to ShootProof. They offer phone and email support dedicating half of their staff to customer service. Called the Loyalty Builders, this group spends time equally replying to questions and reaching out to make sure the customers are happy. Based on customer feedback, ShootProof is continually evolving, incorporating suggestions from users. They place a tremendous amount of importance on maintaining and evolving the Design of the website. ShootProof is committed to providing beautiful gallery options available on all devices. They also offer custom digital albums through mobiles apps on different platforms.

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Kristi, what is your favorite part of working with photographers?

“Photographers have vision – they can take something really mundane and turn it into a work of art, and we try to be there to help with that process. Plus, a bunch of us here at ShootProof are photographers ourselves, so working with other photographers is just awesome. Imagine being able to talk to thousands of people who think the way you think, who have the same needs you do, and who know what it’s like to be where you are on a daily basis! We’re a lucky group of people.”

Because ShootProof knows how important sharing consistent color corrected images are for professional photographers, the partnership with ShootDotEdit allows ShootProof users to have ShootDotEdit edit their images and upload directly to a ShootProof Gallery.

“We’re all about efficiency, and we love that our partnership with ShootDotEdit gives photographers a lot less to do. We’re excited that our wedding photographers, who have hundreds or even thousands of images to edit, can use ShootDotEdit to process their images, and then they are uploaded right into their ShootProof Event galleries, ready to be viewed, without extra steps or extra hassle.”

Describe a day in the life at ShootProof

“We really are the luckiest people in the world when it comes to the workplace. We have a gorgeous office and a really young, fun environment. Since we’re a small, close-knit bunch of photographers and computer geeks, we talk lenses and gear and tech news, and we love it. There is a TON of sarcasm and plenty of laughs when we aren’t answering phones and “tickets,” which are the customer service requests that come in from our photographers. We do lots of designing, and creating, and testing, and thinking about what our photographers need from our service. Though we have been known to have a few Nerf slingshot wars, we really do just like to be around each other day in and day out.”

If ShootProof could be any piece of camera equipment, what would it be and why?

“Our company would definitely be the fancy camera bag. We’ve got all these little compartments where each piece fits, and when you put them all together, we’re this one massive tool that just makes a photographer’s work flow smoothly.”

Thank you Kristi for speaking with us! Learn More about ShootDotEdit’s Integrated Partnership with ShootProof.

Interested in learning more from a real photographer about her experience with ShootDotEdit? Click the banner below to hear Leeann Marie’s journey to ShootDotEdit.

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How to be an Artist and an Entrepreneur

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How would you categorize a professional wedding photographer? As an artist who runs a business or as an entrepreneur who makes art? ShootDotEdit works with professional photographers from all over the world and have found the most successful to be a mix of both artist and entrepreneur. Being able to manage a thriving business doesn’t make you any less of an artist.

The policy consultant and author, John Howkins once said,

“Entrepreneurs in the creative economy… use creativity to unlock the wealth that lies within themselves. Like true capitalists, they believe that this creative wealth, if managed right, will engender more wealth.”

ShootDotEdit has compiled some tips to help create success as both an artist and an entrepreneur.

1.    Identify your Style

Cultivate your own personal style, your own “signature” look and feel for your images. Find a niche and work within it.  This may mean that you make a strategic decision to only work on weddings, passing up other opportunities. Find a balance between what you are best at and what you love most, and then build your brand around it!

2.    Embrace efficiency

Setting up efficient business practices will create time for you to focus on your passions, on personal projects, and on serving and loving your clients. Not only will it allow you to spend more time on being creative, it also helps you make more money. Streamlining your business through efficient business practices will save time and money in the long run. ShootDotEdit has great resources for being efficient. Ultimately, faster delivery to your clients = happier clients.

Related Article: 5 Ways Efficient Business Empowers Your Photography
Related Article: Finding Time to Do It All: Tips for Managing Your Time

3.    Practice & Be Passionate

Entrepreneur and Marketing guru, Seth Godin says,

“Practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous. When we care enough, we raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our customer, our audience and our partners.”

Channel your passion into your work and you will always deliver an amazing product.

4.    Persevere

Georgia O’Keefe stated,

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”

Running a business is hard work. There is a lot more than just creating a beautiful image.  Stay positive and focused on your business, and keep moving forward. Remember: your business must succeed to provide a platform for your art. The two go hand in hand.

5.    Say No.

Don’t compromise yourself. Say no to people who want you to work for free. Say no to things that fall outside of your niche. Your time is the most valuable thing that you have, so don’t waste it on anything that doesn’t work towards moving you and your business forward.

Related Article: Just Say No – Why Extreme Focus is Important

6.    Learn to Sell

Talent alone doesn’t book the next appointment.  Understand the basic ideas of how to sell. Listen to your clients and ask solid open ended questions to determine their needs. The most successful photographers know how to get brides and grooms to buy.

Related Article: How Professional Wedding Photographers Can Simplify Sales

7.    Network. Everywhere.

There is no better testimony than one from a client who is happy with your work. The beautiful thing about wedding photography is that you can meet clients everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Go to industry events. Talk to other vendors. Become friendly with venue owners and wedding planners and other people who are a part of your industry.

A professional photographer doesn’t have to be either an artist OR an entrepreneur. To be truly successful, whatever your definition of that may be, embracing both attributes will help generate growth as a person, as a business and as a photographer. Access our Guide to Marketing for Wedding Photographers to learn more about selling your brand to ideal clients!

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The 90/10 Model of Outsourcing

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Most professional wedding photographers have a “Signature Style” to their images… a style that is unique and individual. This process that a studio goes through to take images from capture-to-client is typically very detailed and very personal. And, in order for a photography business to stay focused on the action items that produce profit (ie. shooting, marketing, and sales), a robust workflow solution is mandatory. Hence, the haunting question, how does a professional wedding photographer achieve both their Signature Style and sustainable/dependable workflow? We have the answer.

Enter the “90/10 Model”: A Specialist performs 90% of the robust workflow, the artist finishes the job adding their “Signature Style”, the remaining 10%.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Many photographers struggle with the decision to partner with a Specialist. A large part of that struggle comes from the notion that the photographers is the only one who can execute every element of the workflow. In reality, Specialists can help with the science of color correction – providing you with consistent images every time. For example, ShootDotEdit utilizes a Color Profile to accurately edit according to each photographer’s style preferences. These color corrections are complete and custom, allowing the photographer to focus on what only they can do: the artistic edits associated with their Signature Style.

Jared Platt, Lightroom Expert and ShootDotEdit Advocate, put it best when he said:

“90% of the editing work that we need to do can be done by someone else. We only really need to be involved in the 10% – the icing on the cake. That’s what 90/10 is.”

90/10 Model

The best workflow for a photographer is one that saves time and maximizes creativity. The 90/10 Model lets ShootDotEdit handle 90% of the workload, color correcting images according to a photographer’s style preferences. This leaves the last 10% of the workload, the stylized editing that adds style, to the photographer.

90% (ShootDotEdit)

  • handles the science of color correction
  • edited according to a photographer’s style preferences
  • removes the boring and tedious portion of the workflow

10% (Photographer)

  • handles the art of adding style
  • minimal time, doing the portion that only the photographer can do
  • creatively fun and engaging

In the end, photographers retain their Signature Style, but without all of the tedious and time consuming parts of post-production!

While many photographers chose to add a Signature Style to the color corrected images, it isn’t required. ShootDotEdit delivers images that are custom color corrected and are ready to share. However, by utilizing a Specialist like ShootDotEdit, each photographer has the ability to do as much or as little with the images after color correction.

If you would like more information about how to integrate ShootDotEdit into your workflow, please access our Free Guide below!

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Partner Interview: Pictage

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ShootDotEdit is proud to partner with some of the amazing leaders in the photography industry. This week we wanted to shine the spotlight on Pictage, our all-in-one post-shoot partner company. We spoke with Natalie Hunter, the marketing coordinator, to help us explain why Pictage is so unique.

Making Photographer’s Lives Easier

Pictage was built to make photographer’s lives easier from the very beginning. When they first started, this meant digitizing a bucket of film in a garage. They have grown to have the ability to handle everything post-shoot. From email marketing to publicizing an event to printing an album. They even offer full customer service and print fulfillment to a photographer’s clients. In addition to all of this, they have a beautiful client proofing interface that is constantly being updated to keep up with the latest technology.

Since Pictage’s goal is to offer everything a photographer would need post shoot, they wanted to include post-processing services, but they also knew that ShootDotEdit does it best. So Pictage gives their members the option to send images to ShootDotEdit. Once the color correction is complete, ShootDotEdit uploads the files directly back into the photographer’s unique Pictage gallery. It fits in perfectly with ShootDotEdit’s “Fast is Best” motto and ends up saving Pictage members time!

We asked Natalie what her favorite part of the partnership with us was and she replied:

“Great things happen when “Fast is Best” is partnered with our mission to help photographers so they can focus on shooting. By having SDE send images directly to Pictage, photographers save a download and upload, which could potentially mean saving a whole extra day in their workflow! This just makes sense and also makes them look like the hero to their clients (who are probably checking their phones and emails every five minutes waiting for that announcement).”

What is your favorite part of working with photographers?

“Photographers are truly inspiring people, not only because the work they produce helps to make the world a more beautiful place, but because they can perfectly capture a feeling-a moment in time-that means the world to someone.”

More than just a company, They are community

Pictage also prides themselves on building and supporting photography communities around the country. Through their network of PUG (Pictage User Groups) Meetings, they offer a space for photographers to get together and build networks of support. Meetings are supported by Pictage and run by local photographers. They feature topics relevant to what’s going on in the industry.

What would you like photographers to know about Pictage?

“Mainly that there is so much more Pictage offers than simply being a proofing site for clients. Not only do we have a great product line of albums, cards, wall art and even calendars, but we also have an amazing community of photographers that meet around the nation for monthly meetings (face-to-face, I know!) simply to discuss the latest trends and concerns that many professional photographers share. When someone signs up for Pictage, we’re here to help photographers grow, learn and thrive.”

Describe a day in the life at Pictage…

“Pictage handles every aspect of a photographer’s business beyond the shoot, and we have dozens of people dedicated to every aspect of this work. All day long, our software engineers improve the photo gallery website and add new features. Our album designers and retouchers make photos and layouts look their best. Our professional print lab and album-binding team crank out high-quality products while our quality-assurance staff reviews everything to ensure excellence. Our shipping department packs and ships orders to clients across the globe, while our customer-support staff takes phone calls and answers questions from photographers, clients, and guests. It’s a busy office, but we love the work we do!”

Natalie, thank you for taking the time to share with us why Pictage is so special. We couldn’t agree more!

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What is a Specialist?

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While growing your successful photography business, you inevitably get to the moment where you have to make important business decisions. You are spending more time on tasks that do not involve taking photographs and interacting with clients, the reasons you started your business. In order to create more space to do the things that you love and that bring in the most money, you have to outsource and partner with a Specialist. But what exactly is a Specialist?

spe·cial·ist

noun \ˈspe-sh(ə-)list\

: a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study, etc.

Specialists are experts in their field

Whether you choose to partner with a Specialist in post-production, image fulfillment, bookkeeping or blogging (just to name a few), you want a company or person who is an expert in that particular field. When you are searching for the perfect Specialist, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for references or a client list and talk to the people who have used that service. A person who is an expert will have all of this information ready to share before you sign on.

For more information, read our post on choosing the right partner.

Specialists are more efficient

Specialists should save you time and therefore money. They are repeating the same tasks over and over, and chances are, they can do it more efficiently than you. Even if it is a task that you dislike but can complete quickly, when you choose to partner with a Specialist that is time that you are freeing up.

Read our post about how to simplify post production, which outlines how we as Specialists have streamlined the post production process.

Specialists invest in education

Think of all the hours of training, second shooting and learning anything related to photography that you went through to become a leader in your market. Now think of all the hours of specific task training you would need to obtain the level of a Specialist in another field. We always recommend keeping current with software updates and tutorials, as it will make you a better photographer, but by hiring a Specialist, you are acknowledging that you don’t have unlimited time for training and doing, and that is ok!

If this is something that you struggle with, feeling that you need to know it all, we wrote about people who give you permission to partner with a Specialist.

We strongly believe that making the choice to work with a Specialist is the gateway to bringing your business to a new level. Now you see how hiring one in an area (or two!) of your business, will give you more satisfaction and fulfillment in your work life and make you more profitable.

To learn more about appealing to your target market, download our Guide to Marketing for Wedding Photographers!
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Give me my business (and my life) back

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What are a few highlights from your busy season that were made possible because you weren’t spending hours in front of the computer editing?

 I was so excited because for the first time in years I could take time off during my busy season. This past October (the busiest month for Connecticut photographers) I traveled to the Jersey Shore for a girls weekend with my old college roommates. I also went to a few college football games with my husband this fall, and I finally got to be present for my kids’ t-ball and soccer games!  All of this was made possible because the SDE crew was working for me!

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