Q + A
On my Instagram, I asked y'all if you had any questions - I wanted to open up the floor for transparency, vulnerability and dang! Y'all came through. I got a quite a few questions, a lot of them were similar questions. So, I separated the questions into different categories, dwindled down the questions that were similar into a broad question and then answered them as detailed as I could think! If you still have any questions, comment them below and I'll respond back to ya!
How did you and Thomas meet?
We met in church when we were in high school :)
Where did you go to college?
Clemson University, go Tigers!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina
Why do you live in California and Alabama?
Thomas works for a ranch called JH Ranch and the property of the ranch is in Northern California but the headquarters for the off season are in Birmingham, Alabama. So we go back and forth and love it :)
What camera do you use for videos?
We shoot with a Canon 6D (my DSLR) nothin' fancy but we make sure to change the settings to 60 fps (frames per second).
What are your go to lens? Best all around or just your favorite if you have more than one.
I'd say any photographer should have a fixed lens (one that doesn't move/zoom in and out) and a zoom lens. My favorite fixed lens is a 50mm 1.4ff (called the "nifty fifty" because of it's awesome quality). If you don't want to invest as much, try the 50mm 1.8ff instead. It'll make all the difference. However, make sure that your camera is full-frame or you'll see that the lens cuts off a lot of your picture.
My favorite zoom lens is the Canon 2562A002 EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. It's a mouth full but you can search it here. It's an Image Stabilizer and my absolute favorite.
Do you use an external flash?
I don't because I usually shoot during the day and you should neverrrrrr shoot with flash during the day.
Any tips on manual mode and natural lighting?
Manual mode is a tricky one to teach over the internet because for me, at least, it was a very trial and error thing. At this point, I've stuck with shooting in the "golden hours" an hour or so before sunset and it makes lighting so much easier (no shadows, no squinty eyes, you know the struggles).
Who takes your pictures?
How much time do you spend a day either shooting for your blog or writing or preparing?
My schedule is a lot more flexible than many people may think - it works for me but it might not work for everyone. I try and shoot photography content for what I'm writing either once every one or two weeks. In those shoots, I try and make a list of what I'm going to need for blog content or what may be coming up and I knock it all out at once.
I spend my Mondays on inspiration, coming up with new ideas for a blog, video, webinar, email course, etc. Tuesday, I spend my day drafting the blogs, videos, webinars, email courses that I came up with on Monday. Wednesdays are my "blog focused" days where I spend the day writing away, editing, importing photos, editing them and getting the blog post publish ready. I normally do 4-5 blog posts at a time and then schedule them out so that I don't have to worry if something were to happen - I'm always planned 2-3 weeks out.
Do you think it's possible to have a successful blog as more of a part-time thing (for example if you're still in school)?
Yes! To me, a "successful blog" is a blog that reaches it's intended reader and you reach your goals. If you goal is to make money, it possible to do that using a blog part-time while there may be something else part-time going on in your life (school, job, etc.). If your goal is to produce content weekly, I think that's reasonable as well. I would just ask back, "what is a successful blog to you?" and "is that feasible for me and my schedule?" I think that you totally could, though, depending on your goals!
Do you use a content calendar? If so, how do you create it/how far out do you schedule your posts/do you use a certain system on what type of posts you choose to create?
Sort what I was talking about in the answer above, I don't necessarily have a content calendar (like, what I post about and when) but I have a calendar as far as my goals (2 blogs a week, a webinar a month, an email course every 2 months and a video for a fun trip). I schedule my posts about 2-3 weeks out unless I'm feeling really moved to post something at that moment.
As far as social media goes, I really only plan that one or two days in advance unless I know there's a blog post scheduled and coming up then I tuck that picture away until it publishes.
My Monday's are reserved for inspiration and coming up with new ideas so my only "system" to creating content is what comes to me on those Mondays (and sometimes days in between). But, I do think setting aside time to dream, think and be inspired is important - that's why I set aside the first day of the work week to this alone.
Who does your design work, branding and website?
I designed and constructed my own website and do all of my own branding and graphics work - I love having my hand and my ideas in everything I do! I outsource sometimes when there's a lot going on but I mostly do it myself :) and yes, I do it for others, too! If you wanna chat about this, here's some information!
Can you give a brief overview of Google Analytics and keeping track of your website's stats?
I use a combo of Google Analytics and Squarespace Analytics. I built my website from Squarespace so it provides me pretty great analytics. However, I do refer to Google Analytics a lot as well. You can register your website and Google account here and from there you can set up an account, log in and keep track of what's happening traffic wise. If you have any more questions about Google Analytics, this is a great blog that addresses a lot of frequently asked questions.
What inspired you to start a blog and how did you decide what you wanted to blog about?
I started writing and blogging when I was a freshman in college. I wrote about anything that was on my heart: what I was learning, what I was asking God for, my prayers, etc. I didn't find much traction and that was okay for me because at this point, it was acting more as a journal than a platform for people to read from.
Fast forward 4 years and I got married! I kept getting approached by people asking me about married life and how great and fun it was, how it was to live with a guy, all the things that people think of when they think of marriage because of Hollywood. I went to address this whole situation by writing a post called, "Why My Marriage Will Never be Enough" and y'all, it blew up. I'm guessing it was the title of the post - regardless, I felt this fire burn inside of me so I wrote another post about my story and what my life looked like and the vulnerability was infectious.
From there, I felt moved and did some soul digging and found out that I love life, I really do, but there was a point that I didn't. Now, I want to share all the fun, beauty, creativity and freedom that I've found and been given with anyone who approaches my blog.
How do you edit your photos to create a consistent look and brand?
I try and use the same editing process. I like exposure and a little bit of saturation, I add a little bit of warmth and lower the contrast a bit. With doing this most of the time, my pictures tend to turn out similarly. Just be consistent and you'll find the look/brand that you want and it won't change much.
What software do you use for editing?
I use Lightroom when I have a shoot that I'm going through that has a ton of great pictures (most of the time my photographer does this). I have the Mastin Labs presets that I use frequently on Lightroom.
When I have a quick picture that I want to edit quickly and post around the same time, I use this adapter and upload it to my phone and use VSCO cam (an app) to edit them from there. I stick with the S2 and A6 filters most frequently.
If you have any other questions, comment them below and I'll answer them ASAP! Y'all are the best and I hope that my transparency can help ya in your own endeavor! If you're interested in a community of creatives that love to ask questions, get answers and inspiration, you can join us via a Facebook group here.