Tidy home, tidy mind.

Well I finally managed to find a day to give our house some TLC last week & there’s actually nothing that brings me more ‘peace’ - other than being on holiday! I have always been organised & very tidy, I’ve never really known any different as my Mum is the same & I can’t bear leaving things out or clothes on the floor - it just isn’t me. A lot of my friends laugh, one has even commented “how do you live like this” when coming to our new house for the first time as everything was in its place, nothing on the bedside tables, but I just throw it right back at her as she’s probably the messiest person I know (love you if you’re reading). But being tidy, cleaning & organising things actually has a mental affect on me & helps me work more efficiently. I know this makes me sound mad, but I’m sure there’s some people who are the same!? If I haven’t cleaned the house for ages (trust me I don’t have time when I’m busy, I’ve learnt that it can wait sometimes), I get very stressed & little things bug me. Sometimes it’s a case of me having emails to answer or edits to start but I feel like I need to organsise my surroundings, which organises my mind which equals better work. It means I don’t have in the back of my mind "I really need to clean the bathrooms - I should vacuume - wash the sheets - should I do emails first - shall I edit - should probably work out - AHHHH!" Mind overload. How boring & old fashioned do I sound?! But don’t you feel great after sorting your wardrobe out & getting rid of things you don’t wear, or getting into a bed with clean sheets? Basically I am a happier soul in clean surroundings & I really believe your surroundings have a huge impact on your mind, & as I do work a lot from home, I have come to learn this more about myself. It also helps that Rob is the same, which I am thankful for as it’s great that I don’t have to pick up his pants or put the toilet seat down. Yes! He puts the seat down every time! He will go mad reading this..... whoops. 

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jessica-raphael-photography-blog

Not only this, I adore anything interior & feel in another life or time I would’ve loved to be an interior designer. I would actually say it’s my hobby. I get so excited over home decor & do spend a lot of my free time in Homesense examining things I don’t need but that make me feel happy or to take pride in our house. Sometimes I buy things & Rob says “where’s that going” & I say “don’t know yet” then I have lots of fun finding the perfect place.

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  Another thing that makes me happy is nice smells.

Another thing that makes me happy is nice smells.

I also think the organised part of my brain has an affect on how I work & sometimes this can be a bad thing for me but wonderful for my clients! The feeling I get if I haven’t cleaned the house is exactly the same if I have a backlog of edits or if I had set aside a day to edit but loads of emails come through. I go into overdrive & try to get everything done all at once, even though the edits still have plenty of time, as I do give myself time in my contract with clients, but I still get the “got to get this done” panic as there’s nothing worse than the “when will we see our photos” email (which I’ve only ever had TWICE and this wasn’t cause they were late, it was just down to excitement). I have met others in the industry who still haven’t finished the edit of a wedding from a couple of months before cause they have others, & quite frankly that makes me feel sick. This is not a negative on them, if they have this time frame set out in their contacts & the clients are aware, it’s fine. I used to give myself 3 weeks but clients would have them within 2, then I changed to 4 weeks and clients would have them within 3 - maybe before, & now I have changed to 5 but mainly to try & ease some stress on myself.  You can see why I don’t have a life in the summer! So yes, you must manage client expectations but sometimes I need to not overwork myself too much & realise “Jess you still have time, so go & clean, or buy a pineapple object for the coffee table, or go out & have a G&T love!”. Being super organised is mainly a positive for me but can have it’s downfalls! 

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jessica-raphael-photography-blog

I do think I am learning that it's okay to just take a step back, people are a lot more patient than I think. But I need to get better with breaking away from work to actually relax. If I am in the house & not doing anything on the computer or that would be benefitting my business, I feel guilty. Which is why I probably clean as this is still doing something productive, but still to help me focus more, rather than just lying on the settee & watching a film. I think I need to set a time where I just STOP & walk away from the computer, but it's SO hard, especially with how busy I am.

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jessica-raphael-photography-blog
jessica-raphael-photography-blog
jessica-raphael-photography-blog
  I have an obsession with buying glasses for alcoholic beverages.

I have an obsession with buying glasses for alcoholic beverages.

  All entrepreneurs should have a globe on their desk. Seriously.

All entrepreneurs should have a globe on their desk. Seriously.

So I guess you may have learnt something new about me. What helps you work better? What stresses you out running your own business? Do you do too much? Have you set working hours? I would love to know! You can leave a comment below if you wish. Hope you have enjoyed a TINY peek at our house.

x

Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com

Warwick Castle Wedding - Jessica & Tom

"Do you want to be a guest or our photographer?" the big question from Jess when we were out double dating & something I definitely wanted her & Tom to decide. It is difficult when friends / people I know ask me to photograph their weddings. In some instances (this wedding for example) I obviously would've loved to be drinking champagne in the sunshine. Other instances it makes you question, "oh my god, I sort of know this person, what do I charge, do they only want me to photograph them cause I know them, do they expect a deal" - so yeah I would be lying if I said it hasn't made me feel awkward in the past. But this wedding changed that. I obviously made it very clear I would love to do both, so they would need to make the right decision for them. As they chose me to be their photographer, I knew it was more than "it's cause she's a friend". Also,  you will find their wedding film highlights at the bottom, filmed by Rob. You know how passionate I am about working with Rob so I won't go off on a tangent about that, but it was so lovely & a great dynamic as all four of us get along so well.

I have known Jess for about seven years after meeting when we did numerous performances together in Stratford & at The Edinburgh Fringe. I have great memories with Jess, including me falling headfirst down a slope during one of our performances, crawling off stage leaving us crying laughing along with the rest of the cast for the remaining ten minutes of the show. Good job it was light hearted family fun! Also when we got VERY drunk at the fringe, danced the night away & I ended up falling asleep on a table & getting us escorted out. You may be thinking why am I talking or sharing this, but I think it's rather special, we were just two mates having fun & neither of could foresee at that point, that in a few years time I would be photographing her wedding. At that stage in my life I didn't even know I was going to be a wedding photographer! So the fact I was Jess' actually had more meaning to me & it really was an honour!

Rob & I arrived at Jess' parents house to photograph / film bridal prep & I pretty much felt emotional straight away! It was lovely & time flew by! It was also great having my best friend & ANOTHER Jess there doing the makeup, so it really felt like a proper family! Once I arrived at the church, Alishia Love, my other friend & fabulous photographer was there as she was my wonderful second shooter for the day. St Mary's Church Warwick is probably one of my favourites from anywhere I have worked. Totally beautiful, grand, spacious, it really was like a fairytale wedding which is exactly what Jess & Tom wanted, what with the castle & their cake which you will see below! During the first hymn I was thankful they were my friends as we all got the giggles, it was the longest hymn EVER. Just when you would think it was the last verse it would start again. There's nothing I love more than someone with a sense of humour & nothing I hate more than someone who takes themselves too seriously. So I loved that we practically all laughed through their first hymn! This was all changed around by Jess' sister who sang a cappella through the signing of the register - now this was beautiful.  

Following the ceremony we did a few group photos outside & then waved them off in their car whilst we all walked with the guests to Warwick Castle. Now I knew it was going to be a hot day but NOTHING could've prepared us for the HEAT. It was the hottest day of the year & I actually did think I was going to collapse at one stage! I usually power through but I had to make Alishia go & buy us some fanta & water during the drinks reception. But, it was worth the suffering. The drinks reception was in the peacock garden which made for extremely beautiful surroundings & photos by the fountain. Jess' friend Jack was singing in the (very hot) orangery which started some early dancing. Who says you have to wait until the first dance to put your dancing shoes on! The drinks reception was longer than usual as the Castle had to let the public out so they could get the Great Hall ready for the wedding breakfast. This meant we had plenty of time to walk the grounds with Jess & Tom taking photos. It was really special for me, even if I was pouring with sweat & bare foot! Yes - I had to take my shoes off so I was walking around like a Hobbit with dirty feet - all for a good cause may I add. It meant so much to me that Jess & Tom have since said it was one of their favourite parts of the day. I think a few couples worry about going off to have photos together as they don't want to leave their guests, or may just have apprehensions about it, & yes it was probably easier for Jess & Tom as I am their friend, but this is how I want all my clients to feel, & I really stress this at the initial meet. But not only that, it's so important as it will be the only time you will spend together alone on the day (apart from bed time.....), it will definitely be your first moments alone since the ceremony, so it gives you that time to take a breath, look & love each other. Yes I'm there, but you should both be in your own bubble. 

Once the Great Hall was ready everyone entered for the wedding breakfast & it really was like something from Hogwarts! I loved photographing the speeches as they were filled with so much laughter & emotion & I could get really close to the top table whilst Alishia did wider shots of the guests. This was followed by Jess & Tom's first dance to 'Tale as Old as Time' sang again by Jess' sister Polly & friend Jack, which was interrupted by a flash mob dance with the bridal party! We then went outside for fireworks & sparklers.

By the time it was time for us to leave I have to say I don't think I have ever been so exhausted after a wedding, mainly due to the heat & the amount of walking we had done around the grounds on top of doing the 12 hour day. So with this in mind, it wasn't great when Rob & I found ourselves lost in the grounds with me bare foot nearly crying surrounded by what sounded like a group of Pterosaurs' in the trees (obviously owls &/or peacocks), so we then had to walk all the way back through the grounds only to find out we were actually right by where we needed to go. It was PITCH BLACK! I actually think this added another 40 minutes before we had even left. We have all had huge laughs about it since, which is another reason I am particularly glad on this occasion that they're our friends!

This will be a day I will never forget & I feel so proud that we could all share it together & we created special memories for them. 

Jess & Tom - we love you!

SUPPLIERS:

Venue:  Warwick Castle

MUA: Jessica Ava

Hair:  Jessica Jordan from Mode weddings

Cake: Daisy Blue Bakehouse

Flowers: Daisy Chains

Band: The Cover Ups

Film: Fuzfilms (My Fiancé)

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 Thank you to Alishia Love for capturing some of me as 'a guest'. x

Thank you to Alishia Love for capturing some of me as 'a guest'. x

Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com

All the gear, but no idea.

This blog has been swilling around in my head for a while but last week gave me full motivation to write after I got a new camera at The Photography Show, which caused lots of excitement online including messages and comments asking what camera and lens I had decided to invest in. Now I know this is coming from what I call ‘new gadget excitement’ which I am extremely guilty for. I can’t believe I have lasted over a year with my iPhone 7 Plus as I normally insist I need the brand new phone & end up spending fortunes buying myself out of my contract. So yep - I love a gadget. However when it comes to photography I have been very good when picking and choosing when to invest. Please note - I am going to ramble & this is all a matter of opinion of my own personal experience & photography journey! 

I think when people first decide to embark on a photography career they think the first thing they should do is go out and spend THOUSANDS on ‘the best’ camera and a bunch of different lenses before doing anything else. This is the one thing I didn’t do to start with and I actually think it’s made me a better photographer and helped my business. You need to be in control of your kit, not your kit in control of you, my kit has grown when I have grown. When you are first starting out you have no idea of the kind of photographer you are going to be. You could think you want to shoot weddings, but then discover they really aren't for you. So become a master with the basics then when you get the top of the range stuff, (when you know your stuff), it's so much more rewarding.

My first 'proper' camera was a Nikon D3200 paired with a 50mm 1.8 lens. I found this was the best most affordable camera to 'play around' & 'practice' with. I did a few headshots with this & a styled wedding shoot. I started shooting straight away with manual & taught myself until it became second nature - like driving. I took some nice pictures & starting building a portfolio. As I started to get interest for weddings, starting with a friends, I knew I needed to invest in a full frame camera, so this is when I got the Nikon D610, which is basically Nikon's basic professional camera, & an 85mm 1.8 which is still my baby & favourite lens now! The first two years of my professional career were shot with a Nikon D610 & three prime lenses (the 35mm was added). The more I photographed I got into a 'groove' & style, & found myself comfortably shooting weddings using just my 85mm & 35mm. Yes you can all GASP - but it's true, & proves my point that it isn't actually all about the kit. Obviously when Rob or other photographers second shoot with me they would use a different lens to me for variety. Mainly Rob on his 24-70mm. The real reason I was only shooting with two prime lenses & a Nikon D610 was money, I wasn't earning enough money to justify expanding my kit just yet, I used what I had to the best of my ability & I had no need for anything else. I am so pleased I started with prime lenses as I believe it forced me to work harder, to move to compose the perfect shot & to interact with my clients a lot more. You are doing more of the work rather than with a zoom lens. I had some mentoring & practiced, practiced, practiced. Which made me get better & better. I would've been taking exactly the same quality & style of images if I was using a top of the range camera because I was still developing my style. You have to do about 25 weddings until you go 'ahh got it - that's me', well that is what happened for me anyway. After around that many weddings I clicked. I developed a style, a way of working & a way of editing. It took me a very long time to be 100% happy. Once I found this & was sure of this, I knew the kind of photographer I wanted to be & the kind of clients I wanted to attract & I started getting very busy. I turn up to weddings with three prime lenses (mainly only using two) & I feel one million percent confident, & always consistent. But there's the word - consistent. I don't want to be consistent, I want to be better. But I had to reach the consistent mark, before I could get better. Am I making sense? Stick with me..

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Two years into shooting weddings I then added the Nikon D750 into my kit & I have been very happy ever since! However now my business is rapidly growing & another two years have passed, I knew this year would be time to expand on my equipment again, so the D750 has taken the passenger seat & the driver is now the beautiful D850, which is quoted to be "Nikons most versatile DSLR - EVER".  I now also have my first zoom lens to start experimenting with. I haven't found the need for them until now as I work primes so naturally, comfortably & CONSISTENTLY, it's now nice to have something different in my bag. I can now justify investing in all this as I have a full time photography business & I do believe you constantly have to be better. I always push myself to be better. Photographers should NEVER settle because the market is too big & styles change all the time. We have to grow & adapt with it. I could have just stayed consistently 'good' using what I use, but I have done that now, so now it's time to grow & get a camera which can assist in this. I am rambling now because this is something I am so passionate about. So let's try comparing someone who knows how to see light, compose, get the right emotion out of their clients & who knows how to work their Nikon D610 to the best of its abilities to someone who is only just starting out, still learning, not too sure on what exactly they want to photograph - families, weddings, babies - or all, and they have the brand new Nikon D850. I can assure you, the camera becomes irrelevant in this instance & the person with the Nikon D610 will produce the better work. I found it more beneficial investing in a basic full frame camera, some mentoring and creating my brand & website when first starting, then as I have expanded, my kit has expanded too. Nothing makes my heart sink as much as the sentence "wow your camera is really good" if showing someone an image from the back of the screen. I cannot CLEARLY stress enough how much it is NOT all about the camera. YOU are the photographer, you create, compose, communicate & the camera is your tool. If you are good at creating, composing, communicating, seeing light, thinking on your feet, it doesn't matter if you have the D610 or D4S (I shoot Nikon, obviously, which is why I am only comparing Nikon cameras) - UNTIL it's time to grow. Like me now. My new camera won't suddenly change my work, it will just compliment where I am now & assist me to hopefully take a step to the next level away from consistency. Side note to non-photographers who are reading this - this is another reason why you may see photographers pricing changing over the years. Mine has HAD TO change three times over the past few years, due to skill, equipment & mostly demand.

"So the camera won't make a difference but you've just got a new camera to make a difference." Yes, you may think I am being hypocritical as I have just invested in Nikon's brand new camera, but this is four years into my business. I have become aware of other photographers just starting out who have invested in £4,000 cameras with about five different lenses but have no bookings - for me I can't understand that. Some are that wrapped up in kit that it consumes everything they do & clients get left behind, when the number one thing to be a people photographer is YOU & how you communicate. You could have the best camera in the world with every single possible lens, but if you can't communicate with your clients properly & make them feel comfortable - the kit's almost irrelevant. I am just basing this on being a 'people photographer' by the way - in terms of Landscape & Astronomy then I can't comment & imagine it is very different. 

 You will spot a Fuji X-Pro2 here which I got as a personal camera for holidays but it has come with me to a couple of weddings & engagement shoots. I will take it mainly for destination weddings as another camera as it's very light! Memory card holder is from The Tog Bag.

You will spot a Fuji X-Pro2 here which I got as a personal camera for holidays but it has come with me to a couple of weddings & engagement shoots. I will take it mainly for destination weddings as another camera as it's very light! Memory card holder is from The Tog Bag.

To cut a very long ramble slightly short. You need to discover the kind of photographer you want to be & once you know, then you can invest accordingly. What I am basically saying is, please don't think you need to spend fortunes on kit to begin with. If you have the money to do that - great! Go for it. But realistically that isn't always the way. I think it's just pressure, mainly 'new gadget pressure', & I assure you that I am proof you don't need to do this so early on. Also, to those wanting to become a photographer & who think "wow that camera is really good" is all it takes, don't be fooled. Buying the same kit as your photography inspiration will not mean you will take the same photos. I know this sounds so obvious & stupid - but it's happens. People think if they buy 'that' camera, then they will be the same. Don't compare to anyone else, "no one is you and that is your power", discover what you like shooting with. Remember you control the camera, not the other way around. I know photographers who would hate just shooting with prime lenses but I LOVE it, it's me & my style. I have recently got my first zoom lens, the 24-70mm, mainly for practical reasons, & I have enjoyed shooting with it this past week, but I know it will NEVER be my main lens. But again, that's just me! 

Being a successful people photographer isn’t just about taking a great photo, its about the people. How you interact with them, how you make them feel, and to be blunt - you can’t be a people photographer without having social skills. Sometimes it is a case of 'all the gear, but no idea'. 

Written with love!

J x

Remember I am offering Skype sessions to fellow & aspiring photographers which can cover any topic you wish, or if you are just wanting advice & inspiration. All info will be coming to my website soon but in the meantime you can email me for more information: connect@jessicaraphaelphotography.com

Source: www.jessicaraphaelphotography.com