Minimalist In Home Session

Oh my heart for clean lines and minimalism. So, I've known Daniel since like kindergarten, and when I met his wife Desirei, Sam and I instantly gained two new best friends. You may have seen them in a few of our California Dreamin adventures because 1) they're freaking adorable and 2) they are just good people. 

So when I was stalking Desirei's insta stories and saw that we had a shared love for cozy minimalism, I had to come shoot. *cue cozy in home snuggle session*

Their house is the most perfectly curated, Pinterest inspired house I've ever seen. I'm a little obsessed. My photographer heart, and minimalist OCD self was in heaven. Little did I know, they had an ever bigger surprise for me than just their adorable selves and modern cozy home. 

New York Fashion with Analogous Scheme

So, New York is amazing. I never considered myself a total city girl, and wasn't totally set that New York was my jam. But, thankfully, I had the amazing opportunity to attend WRKSHP and challenge myself in so many ways. One of those was personal challenges was to try my hand at fashion photography. Which, I'm a minimalist, so I don't want to own a lot, but I still really love fashion. The thought of shooting for clothing brands had never crossed my mind, but when presented the opportunity, it was almost second nature. 

Fashion photography is such a different brain than wedding and portrait photography, but I kind of love that. It gives one side of my brain a break, to let other creative juices flow. That probably made no sense, but whatever. Fashion photography is cool, and you'll definitely be seeing more of it from us in the future. 

Styling : Heidi Brown at WRKSHP

Model: Madison

Color Theory: Monochromatic / Analogous 

Experimentation Fosters Growth

"It's not an experiment if you know it's going to work" 

Attempting to push myself out of a creative rut, I decided to grab some friends and do a little experimenting. We have the same strategy for the majority of our shoots, but it was time to change it up. 

Side bar, I think it's funny when photographers say, "oh I'm awkward in front of the camera, I'm better behind it"... LIES!!! Sara of Pink Feather Photography is the most adorable thing on this planet which made my experiment so much easier lol. 

 

I did a lot on this shoot that I wouldn't normally do...

  • I shot at a new location
  • I shot during golden AND blue hour
  • I used my Canon 35 vs my Sigma 35
  • I used a smoke bomb (probably shouldn't have now that I think about it) Oops.
  • Used a whole different set of posing prompts trying to foster playful intimacy

It was amazing, it was fun, and this little experiment got my creative juices going again. So I encourage you, if you're in a rut, try something new. You won't be sorry. 

Let me know what you think of my little experiment <3

Florist for a Weekend

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Oh was this weekend glorious. 

This weekend was filled with amazing people and beautiful things - the way weekends are meant to be. We surprisingly didn't have a wedding this weekend, and to be honest, I'm kinda glad. We've definitely been feeling burnt out and uncreative lately. I needed an outlet. *Cue one of the positives of social media* 

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Vanessa is the owner of Tribes N Pines, an amazing floral company based out of Portland. I've been stalking her work for a while because it's GORGEOUS. She posted that she had a wedding in LA on Saturday and needed some extra hands. Well, I had nothing to do and I love volunteering so I thought I'd go play florist and see the inner workings of another creative's mind. Maybe those creative juices would rub off on me. 

Genius move. 

But I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I'll be honest, I didn't think a florist's job was all that hard - pick pretty flowers, put them in bouquet, done. OMG I was so wrong. I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong, so let me reiterate the fact that I was so wrong. 

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Florists hold everything together. 

Florists are basically drummers. You know what I'm talking about, in a band, everyone thinks the lead singer is the most important, they are the face you see and the voice you hear. But the drummers make the band. (I might be biased because I have a bunch of drummer friends that I absolutely adore) but, they are the ones to keep everything together. They are the ones that set the tempo. They set the pace for the rest of song, making it fast and upbeat or slow and mellow. Florists are the freaking drummers of the wedding industry. 

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I watched Vanessa and the team make magic. There were about seven of us helping her, and every one of us had all hands on deck. A full service floral company does it all - set up tables, curate table designs, create centerpieces, arbor installs, isle decor, chair accents, backdrop accessories, boutonnieres, bouquets, floral crowns, and any other creative genius they decide to configure. That entire set up took a solid six hours. (I also never want to fold another napkin ever again lol). And that was just the day of set up time, that doesn't even include the time Vee spent picking, designing, and transporting all those goodies to the venue (a lot of it actually came from Portland). 

 

Florists are strong. 

Again, had no idea what I was getting myself in to, nor was I anticipating to work out on Saturday, but I did. When working with live flowers, guess what you need to keep them alive? Yep, water. Lots and lots of water. Guys, water is freaking heavy. I was running up and down stairs in 85 degree weather carrying 5 gallon buckets of water and flowers. I swear, if my arms aren't ripped by the end of this, I'm going to be pissed. 

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Florists deserve better. 

Y'all, pay you're freaking florist. Because after what I've seen what they are capable of, they are definitely worth every penny. I also got the chance to shoot for the lovely and talented Natalie of Native Poppy on Sunday for her fall floral workshop. That was honestly just a refreshing confirmation of creativity. And that once again, florists deserve better. 

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Florists + Photographers

I obviously brought my camera to all these things because.. duh, photographer plus I thought the florists could use some pictures for their portfolio as well. After sending off the edits for all the floral goodness this weekend, I got so much love from florists saying "thank you for not butchering my color pallet".

We have pretty clean and true to color edits so it never dawned on me that florists don't get a variety in their portfolio with certain editing styles. But also, we never give images to vendors. It's not like we're against it, it's just, our contract is with the bride + groom so the last thing we're thinking about is delivering to vendors. But now I see the dilemma. 

On one end, I understand vendors' needs to have images to show their work to future clients. On the other end, vendors are using our images for promotional activities and to make money with no credits or compensation to us. Where is the happy medium? 

While we try to concoct a good solution for photographer / vendor agreements, one thing is for certain...

If you want art, pay for art. Because creatives are artists that pour their heART into every project. 

Hosting California Dreamin Photography Workshop

Y'all. California Dreamin' Workshop Yosemite was insane. Epic, but insane. If you're ever thinking about hosting a workshop, well, be ready haha here is my overview of how it went.

WHY WE DID IT

We were pumped about this workshop because we really wanted to teach photographers the business side of things in addition to putting on some portfolio worthy styled shoots. Coming from a marketing and finance background, the business side of things come naturally to us. Most photographers are artists first with little knowledge of business aspects so we love educating people on that stuff. People are our passion so, it made sense to put that passion into something beneficial. 

WHY IT WAS AWESOME

Um, all these people right here.  Such a fun group, I'm glad our vibes attracted all the right people! This workshop wasn't amazing just because it was in Yosemite (although Yosemite is amazing) but what made it totally awesome were the people who came. Plus, we had support from our kick ass vendors that I absolutely adore!

Gaspara Flora | Philz Coffee | Lulus | Champagne and Glitter | With Flourish

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HOSTING A WORKSHOP IS NOT FOR THE UNORGANIZED

I repeat - HOSTING A WORKSHOP IS NOT FOR THE UNORGANIZED! I'm a total type A, OCD, color-codes-and-alphabetizes her socks kinda girl, but hosting a workshop is a LOT of work. Requires a lot of communication, and synchronization on the hosts' end. A lot can go wrong, a lot DID go wrong. I'll tell you how this dream could have been a nightmare. 

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THINGS THAT WENT TOTALLY WRONG:

WEATHER

Yeah, Yosemite was on fire. It's not something we could have anticipated, but it happened, and completely threw off our schedule. What was supposed to be a 35 minute commute, turned into a 2 1/2 hour commute. I know, Y I K E S. But, it wasn't all bad, the smoke filled skiesand blazing fire made for some epic moody backdrops. (Making lemonade out of lemons y'all).

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MODELS

Oh models. No matter how far in advance your book, people are flaky. We literally had one of couple bail the week of the workshop - no emergency, no good reason, just didn't want to do it anymore. That's super inconvenient when you've already ordered clothing tailored to their size. 

But then, something amazing happened. God opened up the skies and gave us Ryan + Maile. Ryan is related to one of workshop attendees and he was already planning on being in the area! Super bonus points, he and Maile had just gotten engaged and they are the cutest thing ever. BONUS BONUS points, the dress I ordered fit Maile like a glove. (Good looking out, God).  And my OG couple (Daniel + Desiree) couldn't have been more perfect! Ah, just, cuteness all around, I couldn't have asked for a better set of models. But also, lessons learned. Have model contracts signed for drop outs and back up models just in case. 

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STYLED SHOOTS

Didn't think shooting would get as crazy as it did, but it left a lot of people with hurt feelings because they didn't get the shoot time they wanted. Somehow, I completely missed organizing the shoots. Not like they weren't set up, just having a plan to ensure everyone got enough time. And most of that was due to the fact that the fires threw us off course and made our commute really long thus cutting our shoot times short. Lessons learned. But I have a system now! Which, had those fires not occurred, my large group shooting system would not have been made lol.  

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ACCOMMODATIONS

Oh man this was awful. Most of my students had no idea about the behind the scenes chaos but it was ridiculous. The host that we were renting the cabin from was insane. I won't go into much detail on that note, but just make sure you have iron clad contracts signed. Also, God bless her, but I let my mom be Chef Mama for the workshop. Love her, but never again. Cooking in bulk in a timely manner is not her strong point. The food was amazing, just really, really late. 

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But, all that to say, we freaking love doing this. 

We learned a LOT this round hosting an away-from-home workshop. It was challenging, but man was it amazing. Maybe we're gluttons for punishment, but the reward from our students feeling empowered and ready to take on the world was totally worth it. We are so thankful that they chose to learn from and hang out with us. We love calling this our "job". With every workshop we're learning and growing and making it even better for the next shop. 

So, who's ready for California Dreamin Workshop #3? ;)

PALM SPRINGS WE COMIN' FOR YOU!

Also considering doing another mini in San Diego soon... SD peeps, what say you??

Colorfully Nostalgic Mexican Inspired Wedding | Los Peñasquitos Ranch House

I seriously sat at my computer for like 15 minutes gawking at this wedding wondering how I could share it with the world (duh, Erica, BLOG) haha, it was late, I had a long day, sue me guys. 

This wedding was nothing short of perfect. Vintage vibes, a little bit of 70's groovy feels, freaking Jarritos?! Oh, and let's not forget the bride basically diy-ed this entire wedding. I mean, she did her own hair, makeup, cut out and hand made all the flower bouquets, strung up the arch, and a zillion other things. WIFE MATERIAL. It was great. 

And I completely failed to mention that these two are freaking GORGEOUS. I mean, she's a model, he's a videographer. The good looks between these two is psychotic. 

So let me just give you a summary of the day's gloriousness - mid day sun, all the colors of the rainbow, great looking couple, killer fish tacos, and all the love in the world. 

Congrats Mark + Melissa <3


 

 

Modern Maternity Session - Downtown San Diego

So, we typically don't do family / maternity shoots, but when one of your old high school pals gets pregnant with the cutest baby bump ever, we'll make exceptions lol 

I'll admit, I was a bit nervous about this shoot. Our style is a bit more fun / modern / edgy and in my mind, maternity just didn't fit into the scope of that. SO WRONG. 

Aja hit me up and said "hey, let's do an edgy maternity shoot downtown". She mind as well have said, "here, let me make all your dreams come true".

UGH. Aja + Jason, you two are freaking adorable, I loved capturing your love and the soon to be product of that. Thank you for allowing me to be your photographer, I can't wait to meet this little peanut <3

 

 

Owning a Photography Business in California | Photographer Pricing Guide

This post is long over due. As California business owners, we need to get real candid about what it means to run an honest business here. 

I'm actually hysterically laughing at the number of "photographers" in California. Everyone and their mom (literally, so many moms) are photographers or some kind of entrepreneur. 

Which, is great! I mean, why not? Living in California, hitting the beach, sunshine all the time... tacos. California is the greatest state ever (don't argue with me). It's so magical and wonderful but all that glitter comes with a price tag. That price tag comes in the form of... T A X E S .

California is the absolute worst place to be a business owner because we pay the most taxes. The taxes imposed on business entities in California, plus the cost of doing business is close to forty percent. 

You read that right.... FORTY PERCENT. 

And this is where I start laughing (crying, actually crying). Because we get doubled taxed. Yep, DOUBLE TAXED. We get taxed on a personal level AND on a business level (you so mean, California).

Let me just give you a quick breakdown of possible taxes (we say possible because depending on your entity you pay some and not others)....

Federal Tax - 1.5% + | (may or may not have to pay based on your entity) LLCs and S Corps don't pay Federal Tax because the income earned passes through to the business owners so they only get taxed at a personal income tax rate.

Income / Self Employment Tax - 15.3% | This part just hurts and I don't even want to talk about it. But, it is what it is. Everyone has to pay some kind of income tax. 

Sales Tax 7.5% - 9.5% | (depending on your city) But, you need to charge sales tax on tangible products. Technically, you do not need to charge for digitals or services, but I've heard rumors that as the IRS is catching up with technology, that will change soon. We incorporate sales tax into our collections just for safety. Also, pro tip, sales tax does not apply if you ship products out of state. So say a couple eloped in Yosemite, but live in Phoenix, and they ordered prints to ship to their house... no tax for ya. 

Corporate Tax - 8.84% | Complicated, and only applicable to corporations, which most photographers are not, so I'll skip this one. 

Franchise Tax | (Varies depending on entity) but we're an LLC so we "thankfully" just a pay a flat rate of $800.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) 6.65% This one really only applies if you're making millions. We don't so.... pass lol

You might be doing the math like, "wait, that's only like 31%" Y'all, word of advise, round up. And if you aren't a strict bookkeeper, there is easily 9% of income you forgot to mention. EASY. Better safe than sorry. Or, if you want to be super appalled by 40%, we haven't talked about what is costs to actually run your business. 

SamErica Studios Pricing Guide

So now that I probably just ruined your day... one step further. Do you really think charging $1000 for a wedding is going to feed your family? (The answer is no).

SamErica Studios Pricing Guide

 

We haven't even talk about hours yet, but let's do some pretend math.

Let's say you charge $1000 for a wedding. Hours are irrelevant at this point. Deduct the 30(ish)% in just taxes (that's $300) that you need to pay. Okay, cool, you're walking away with $700.

*hits loud buzzer* EEEEEEEEEEH. Wrong.

$700.... did you hire a second photographer?(-$400) Also guys, don't be cheap paying your second shooter... But that's a different blog. Now you're down to $300, awesome! Nope. You still have to pay for insurance, Adobe, the gas it took to get to the wedding, your rentals... you get the picture. You're actually -$2000 a this point. 

So, like many photographers, not having a clue as to what they should charge, we made a pricing guide for you <3 (You're welcome).

Honestly, it wasn't actually for you, it was for us lol. 

We made this sheet so that:

(1) We knew how much we needed to set aside for taxes

(2) We have a real number as to what we should charge and

(3) We are confident and firm in our pricing (this was a tough one because we love giving everything away) But, business is business and with nearly 40% of our income going to taxes, we gotta eat. Which brings me to 

(4) Definitely wanted to make sure we were setting aside money for the business AND paying our bills. 

It's an excel sheet that actually factors in the real cost of doing business, what your hourly rate should be, savings, and yes, taxes. We're all about budgets and we're pretty proud of this one and hope it helps you get organized with your business. <3

 

*Disclaimer*

While we do have financial and tax prep backgrounds, we are NOT tax lawyers or CPAs are in no position to tell you how to run your business. Consult your CPA to make sure you are on the right track. 

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MODERN BLUSH STYLED SHOOT

Oh man, so I had the honor and privilege of getting the last spot to Thrive Modern in Oklahoma. It was amazing. My two favorite people Melissa Marshall and Abby Metcalf put this whole thing together and if you ever get the chance, go to their next Thrive workshop, they are amazing.

It was three days of just really good, encouraging girl time. Lord knows I needed some of that. Running a business via social media is tough guys. And I don't mean tough as in it's hard to be successful, I just mean it's discouraging. You sit there scrolling past people, comparing yourself, bringing your self down, becoming jealous of others instead of praising them, then going into this self deprecating cycle of your own self and worth. It's unhealthy.

But man was this workshop a recharge for me. Melissa and Abby are so honest, and so real, on top of being freaking adorable, they are the most down to earth "celebrities" I've ever met. Melissa is even co-teaching at our next two California Dreamin' workshops which just blows my mind. Girl boss to the fullest. 

Actually, ALL the girl bosses, the amazing women that collabs and put these shoots on are freaking PHENOMENAL. Go stalk and follow all their insta accounts because.... this is an artillery of girl bosses that need to be noticed.  

 

Workshop | Thrive Modern

Hosts | Melissa Marshall & Abby Roses

Venue | 21 C Hotel OKC

Videography | Ethnos Creative

Dress | A and Be

Florals | The Wild Mother