Just Start

Over the years I have had countless people ask me, “How did you start?”  “Where did you begin?”  “How did you get those first few clients?”  “How did you create a blog/website?” “What was the biggest thing about starting your social media?”  The questions go on and on.

I’m an open book.  To me there is nothing new and it is all out there waiting for you with a little lot of elbow grease.  I spent COUNTLESS hours in front of my computer and behind my camera learning how to start,  gain clients, build my blog/website, maintaining social media.  It didn’t happen over night, but hard work is how I did these things and the best part about it is YOU CAN, TOO!!!!!

But first…  You have to find your why.  Why do you want to be an artist, photographer, stylist, graphic designer, nurse, engineer… I mean really, this applies to EVERYTHING!  Figure this part out now.  It will make it so much easier to connect with clients if you know why you are doing this.

AND PLEASE let me tell you that if your answer has anything to do with money (i.e. quick money, easy money, etc…) then that is NOT your why.  Your why comes from your heart.  Your why is what makes you tick and giddy with excitement.  To me if it is about money then you are only working a job, not your life purpose.

So to try to answer your questions..  “How did you start?”  “Where did you begin?”  “How did you get those first few clients?”  “How did you create a blog/website?” “What was the biggest thing about starting your social media?”  JUST START.  Work on getting better, but don’t wait on perfection.  JUST START.  Find a mentor, find your style.  JUST START.

Go right now and grab a friend or two and style, shoot, and share those images.  Get a blog or website (it isn’t as hard as you think) and post.  Open your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, where ever) and start posting, following, and engaging with others.  JUST START.

You totally got this.

————–

If you are looking for a mentor or need help implementing a website/blog, I have 2 openings in August.  The next openings will not be until mid-late November, so contact me now to reserve your spot!!  jennifer@jennbrownphoto.com

 

Because Thursday’s deserve cuteness.

Just Start

 

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My Most Pinned Wedding

For the last year or so, I’ve been trying to figure out what makes some images go “viral” through Pinterest.  When I looked at my Pinterest analytics, I found that Katelyn and Steven’s Fall Museum of Appalachia Wedding homed many of the most pinned images.  This proved two things to me:: 1) I can rock out a double header weekend!!!  :) And 2) Keywords, Cute Pictures, and BETTER Keywords help!

So today I thought we would revisit their gorgeous day and give some of my fall brides some inspiration!

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

I loved how Katelyn paired these plum colored dresses with fall inspired bouquets!  The yellows, oranges, whites, and purples went together perfectly!

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

Gorgeous bouquet by Echelon Florist.

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Katelyn and Steven opted for a first look so they could attend their reception quicker.  First looks hold a special place in my heart because I know my husband wouldn’t have teared up in front of all of our guests and it gave us one quiet moment to be together on our wedding day.  It’s a moment I’ll never forget, and neither will these two.
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

Plus, the first look gave us more than 15 minutes for Bride and Groom portraits.  This allowed Katelyn and Steven to take advantage of our time together and get photos that mattered most to them on their wedding day.

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

One of my most pinned images.

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

Another favorite image on Pinterest.  The tag?  Groomsmen in tan suits with purple ties

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

Ogle Entertainment made for a fun party!

Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding
Museum of Appalachia Fall Wedding

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Meagan + Jason’s Pleasant Hill Vineyards Engagement Session Part II

I could tell the moment I arrived at Pleasant Hill Vineyards that Meagan was a little disappointed that the vineyard wasn’t as full as she expected it to be at her session.  She was excited about her engagement session, excited about the up coming wedding to marry her best friend, Jason, but you know how it is when you have a vision in your mind of how things are going to go and then that vision is not met.  I knew it as soon as I saw her.  I knew it because I had it, too.

Even with all the gardening Sean and I have done (okay.. Sean has done) over the years, I thought the vineyards would be full of greenery at the end of May, too.  Oops!  My suggestion.. Let’s get the bulk of your session done today, give the vineyards a couple of months to grow, and come back for that part of the session.   I think it worked out wonderfully AND I got to spend a little more time with this fun couple laughing!  My favorite!

Country Vineyard Session

The light.. gorgeous!

Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session

I cannot wait for 10/18/14!!!!

Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session
Country Vineyard Session

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The Closest Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Recipe Yet :: Mommy Monday

I couldn’t handle the cravings any longer and Taco Tuesday was letting me down.  We had been down this rut before…  What do you want for supper?  I don’t know… What do you want??  Something different.  What’s that?  I don’t know.  I’d LOVE to go to Chuy’s.  That’s out. No way we are getting the kids out at this time of night during the week.  Well I guess we can have spaghetti.  Again.

The next thing I knew I was on a mission to create my own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Creamy Jalapeño.  Game. On.  What I’m about to share with you is amazing.  It literally had BOTH Sean and Wade begging me to have it again the next night.  So… If you are doing Taco Tuesday tomorrow, you might skip tacos for this yummy little dish.

Jenn Brown’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip//

1/2 cup of mayonnaise (we use JFG)
3/4 cup of sour cream (we use Daisy 1/3rd less fat)
1/3 cup buttermilk (you are going to have to trust me here)
1/3 cup of chopped fresh jalapeños
1 (4 oz) can of green chili
1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 (1 oz) packet of dry ranch dressing mix

Mix all ingredients in a blender.  You can serve immediately or put in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to let it thicken up some.  You are welcome.  MMMmmmmm……

 

Jenn Brown’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Knock Off//

1 (10.75 oz) can of condensed cream of chicken soup (we used the 98% fat free and the knock off brand just cause it was on sale)
1/2 cup of sour cream (same as above)
1 tbspn of butter (Country Crock of course!)
1/2 of a medium onion chopped
1/3 cup of chopped fresh jalapeños
1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tspn of chili powder (do this to taste.. I start with the tspn and then add a little more for a kick)
1 tspn of salt
2 cups of cooked chicken (I boiled chicken tenders and then shredded them)
1 (4 oz) can of green chili
7 (8 in) corn tortillas (heat these in a skillet 30 seconds on each side)
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

First things first – get that chicken boiled and shredded.

Get your crockpot heating on warm.  Everything will be cooked, but you will want this to finish the cooking process.

In a bowl, combine the sour cream and cream of chicken soup.

Then in an iron skillet melt your butter.  Add the onions to the butter and let caramelize.  Once they begin to caramelize add the chili powder and stir.  After the onions are nice and soft add in your chicken, 1/2 of your jalapeños and cilantro, 2 tbspns of the sour cream mixture and 1 tbspn of the creamy jalapeño dip.

Take 3-4 tbspns and coat the bottom of the crockpot bowl.  Lay two corn tortillas down side by side.  Take half of the chicken mixture and spread across the tortillas.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the chicken.  Lay two more tortillas down. Scoop half of the sour cream mixture over the tortillas.  Spread the other half of the chicken mixture.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top of the chicken.  Lay the last 3 tortillas down.  Cover it with the last of the sour cream mixture.  *Side note, I had maybe 2-3 tbspns of the sour cream mixture left over…  Sprinkle the last of the jalapeños and cilantro on top.  Then spread 3-4 tbspns of the creamy jalapeño dip.  Top with the last of the cheese.

Let sit in the crockpot on warm for 2-3 hours.  I tried rolling them up and baking them, but the bottom of the tortillas would be tough.  The crockpot method took away the toughness and wasn’t nearly as messy getting it out as I had thought it would be.  Win-win!

Last but not least, enjoy!!!!   Get ready for tons of “MMmm’s” and “Man this is soooo good!”  :)

 

 

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Home :: Friday Photo Challenge

Never have I ever had so much fun with photo challenges.  I think it’s because I’m not striving for the perfect image, but one that pulls at my heart strings.  One that makes me stop and be thankful.  This week’s challenge is home.

There have been so many times that the ickiness of the day has rolled with me all the way to the house and continue to zap the life right out of me.  Not cool.  Something had to change and the first thing was my attitude as soon as I pulled into the driveway.

To me your home should be a sanctuary.  It should be a vacation from the real world.  It should be your safe haven.  It should be a place that you love.  It should be a place that you can recharge.  Kind of like your own little private island.  Ahhhh.. Can’t I just stay here all day long and skip work?!!

Many of you know that Sean restores homes that have been treated poorly or updates homes for people who want to enjoy their home more fully.  I’ve also helped a few real estate agents get gorgeous images of homes that they were selling to help them find an owner.  So in this house, home means a lot to us.

Now for the challenge part!  Take pictures of your home, favorite place in your home, or favorite place in your yard.  Doesn’t have to be perfect, but perfect to you.  Can’t do it today?  No worries.  Tag them all weekend with the hashtag #LifeatHome and/or #FridayPhotoChallenge

Can’t wait to see your favorite spaces!!

This is a photo of our home right after we bought it July of last year!  There has been so much TLC given to this place in the last year!!!

Home

 

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Bokeh What?!

Every once in a while a new photographer or mommy friend will ask me, “How do you make your background blurry?  I love that!”  It was something I wanted to learn, too, when figuring out all of this photography stuff.  When I tell them that the term for it is bokeh I immediately see their eyes glaze over as if to say, “Did she say ‘bouquet’ or ‘broken’??”

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the subject::

In photographybokeh (Originally /ˈbkɛ/,[1] /ˈbk/ boh-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈbkə/ boh-kə,[2] Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.[3][4][5] Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.[6] Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively.[7] Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

It’s all in the lens, friends!  The wider the aperture, the more bokeh feel you will get in your images.  The closer your subject is to the lens, the more bokeh you will have in your image as the background falls off and your subject shines brightly in the forefront perfectly in focus.

Take for instance this sweet peek of Meagan and Jason’s Vineyard Engagement Session.

Settings::

Left Photo// Cannon 50mm F1.4; ISO 160, F2.8; 1/400th of a second
Right Photo// Cannon 50mm F1.4; ISO 160, F2.8; 1/400th of a second

Bokeh

 

Same camera, same lens, and same settings, but you will see that her dress is more in focus in the picture on the left.  As I got closer to my focus point (the ring) it made the image on the right to have much more background blur.

So get out there and practice!!!  If you post any images, I’d love to see them!  Use the hashtag #BokehEffect and I’ll be on the look out for them!  Have a lovely Thursday!

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How Lists Keep Me Organized and Less Stressed

As mentioned by the blog post from Monday, much of this morning has been dedicated to creating a list of all the items I need to work on and items that will need to be worked on for later.  For my immediate brain dump (that sounds so lovely doesn’t it?!), I wrote down 11 items that ranked most important for my day today.  Some crucial, some not so important, and all in attempt to make the most of my “day off” a “day on” for photography. Sean gives me such a hard time about my list making skills.  But there is something about putting my thoughts to paper that helps me to stay focused.  Creating a simple to-do list can make a big impact on how efficient I can be in a short amount of time and giving me much more time for what matters more in my life.  More organization and less stress???  Yes, please! Someone recently asked me what my list looks like.  Well.. here is part of what my list looks like.  It continues on and on…  Haha!!!  But you will at least understand what I’m talking about when I say brain dump.

image-2
This is my “rough draft” of the list.  I give myself 10 minutes to write down my to-dos as they come to my mind and if you know me, then you’ll know that sometimes I can be very scattered.  This girl’s brain does not stop, so if I don’t write down what I’m thinking right then, more than likely I’ll forget about it until it is urgent and putting me in super stressed mode.  After I finish this step I will create a key and then color code the items from least important to most important. Then I’ll go through my list and decide where each item falls on that scale. ONE more thing I should mention to you.  There will be times when a few of the items on your list will require many more steps.  Take for instance the first item I listed – 1) Blog:: Write 2-3 blogs *one for Mandy.  Those three lines are a lot of work, and a lot of work can sometimes feel debilitating.  Break those large items down.  Make a to-do list for that item and then color code the most important parts of that list.  You’ll be surprised at what you will get done once you get started.
image-3

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Amanda + Billy :: Life at Home

These two hold a special and dear place in my heart.  I will never forget the laughs we’ve shared, their grace, and the tears that Billy cried watching Amanda walk down the isle on their country chic wedding day.  They are seriously good folks!  When they asked me to document yet another milestone in their life, I was so honored!  I couldn’t wait to do their Life at Home session!!!  If you’ve ever purchased a home, then you know the work, stress, and pride that goes into it.  It’s very rewarding and a huge moment when you get those door keys.

Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home
Life at Home

 

Take a moment and congratulate Amanda and Billy on their new home in the comment section below!

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Restless Night Syndrome

I don’t know why, but Sunday nights tend to be most common night spent tossing and turning.  My mind is going, going, going thinking about all of the things I want to accomplish in the coming up week while a tiny part of it is thinking of all the things I didn’t get accomplished over the weekend.  I like to call this Restless Night Syndrome.  And a lot of times your brain decides it wants to create new ideas.  These ideas can be both exciting and debilitating.

The exciting ones are ideas I get for a photo session or something to offer on a wedding day that isn’t exactly out there yet.  The debilitating ones are those filled with worry about what would happen if X,Y, and Z took place.  Either way adrenaline is pumping and unless it’s early enough for a sleep aid, you aren’t going to get any real sleep for the next longest night you’ll ever spend.

Normally when this happens I can spot it early on.  I can get up and grab a sleep aid and hot tea and just relax reading.  Most of the time I’ll read peace-filled scripture to calm my spirit.  If it is too late for the sleep aid or tea, then I will pray myself to sleep.  But last night kicked my butt and none of these things happened.  My mind was EVERYWHERE and all I can think this morning is what was I thinking about last night that kept my brain so alert?  Were they really worth the lack of sleep I now have going into this week.  UGH………. is it 6 am already?!!

  • Gah, that vineyard engagement session this evening was GORGE!!!!  Can’t wait to work on them!  Wonder if I could get it published?  Wouldn’t that be awesome??  I mean I was pretty stoked about it.. think a blog would be stoked?
  • I didn’t get the first blog ready for this week done.  Guess I’ll be busy writing a lot this Wednesday.  Man!  That will take up so much time on my day off.
  • I need to find out about a house going up for auction down the road from ours.
  • I should have cleaned our bathroom this weekend.   I was way too lazy this weekend!
  • Ooo!  I wonder how big the moon looked tonight?!
  • UGH!!!!  I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow because I have so much other stuff I need to be working on.
  • Like emailing current and past brides with some information that they need.
  • Or making sure my Second Shooter for a wedding in two weeks is on the up and up with the schedule.
  • Speaking of.. wonder how long it will take me to get there to the wedding location???  I bet traffic will be crazy.
  • I need the oil changed in the car.
  • Is it really 2 am?!   I’M DYING HERE!!!!
  • Why does Sunday Funday have to end??
  • Did I just hear Jace??  Oh.. that’s just my brain making up sounds.

All.  Night.  Long.

I hope you got a much better night’s sleep than I did and have an awesome week!  Today I’ll be brain dumping, laying off caffeine and hopefully be passed out by 9:00 tonight.  :)

 

But first, coffee.

Restles Night Syndrome

 

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Life at Home :: Friday Photo Challenge

Some of you may have seen the sweet peek of Amanda and Billy’s Life at Home Session I did last week on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  If you didn’t, then here it is!;)

Friday Photo Challenge

 

It was so much fun catching up with them and seeing one of the best things that has happened to this couple since getting married – purchasing their first home!  More about them next week on their blog feature.  TODAY is Friday Photo Challenge!!!

I can’t begin to explain to you how I have counted down the hours to the weekend… Since Monday… I have missed working from home on up coming projects and shooting throughout the week while on vacation.   It really refreshed my heart to have extra time to focus on this love of mine.  And the session above reinforced my love of lifestyle sessions.

I know, I know….. get to it!!  What is the challenge?!!!!  Today’s challenge is Life at Home.  From that first cup of coffee, to a yummy Friday lunch, to greeting your significant other at the door when you get home from work, all the way to the most beautiful of sunsets… document your day.  The things you are grateful for.  These are the things that matter more.  The things that make you tick.  This is REAL LIFE and something to be CELEBRATED!!!  And while we’re at it.. I’m going to be posting mine all weekend long!

Don’t forget to tag your images so I can find them!  Use the hashtags #LifeatHome #MattersMore #FridayPhotoChallenge – Have fun!!!!

And one more little peek of Amanda and Billy’s session because I couldn’t resist.;)

Life at Home

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