Maryanne + Hassan: A Hudson River Wedding

When I sat down with Maryanne for the first time to go over wedding day details, she was glowing. A smile from ear to ear as she told me about her fiancé Hassan, and the way he proposed. By taking a private boat to a secret beach in the Philippines- accessible only by jumping off the boat and swimming through an archway- where he got down on one knee and asked for her to be his forever. Just a few months later, Maryanne and Hassan stood at the front of the room, surrounded by loving friends and family members.

They shared “I do’s!”, vowing to love each other for the rest of their lives. And who was the lucky one that got to be there with them and photograph the whole thing? You got it y’all. Yours truly!

Freelancing Tips for Photographers with Lance

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A few weeks ago, Lance approached me with a few questions about running my own business. Lance is an all-in-one money management app for freelancers that can help with everything from logging and tracking expenses to scanning receipts to preparing for tax season and more! I’ve never been more aware of my finances than I am now that I own and operate my own business. Reflecting on how far I’ve come and how much I’ve been able to learn about successfully managing your money in order to run a profitable business- it was more fun (and insightful) than I thought!

So without further ado, here is an excerpt from some of my money tips on being a freelance photographer! I go into much more detail in the full interview, so be sure to check that out!
Read the full interview here!

Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur?

I’m incredibly proud of my journey. I was raised in poverty, got my first job at the age of 11, and by 20 I was working multiple jobs to make ends meet. I worked my way through art school to get my photography degree and put in long hours at a day job. Then I’d come home and put in even more hours on my photography to bring it to fruition. If I fail tomorrow, I’ll be left with the lessons I’ve learned just to get to this point, and that’s honestly more than enough.

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelance photographer?

Get legal and do it now. DO NOT WAIT! Get your business registered, open a business account, and keep those personal and business expenses separate. When tax season comes, you will thank yourself!

wedding photography, portrait photography, photographer, sandy beaches, freelance business, how to freelance, freelancer, freelance photography

Interested in reading more about how to turn your side hustle into a full fledged business? Read the full interview here!
Wanting more information on how I did it? You can set up a personalized Creative Business Coaching Call with yours truly, where we’ll pore over where you are currently, where you want to be, and the best ways to get you there! Reach out for more information.

The Advice You NEED Before Senior Year

5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy

Hey almost seniors!! Can you believe that it’s time to start planning your entire life? Yeah! You’ve got less than a year to figure out exactly what you want out of the next 65 years of your life. No pressure, but you better make it good. To help you out a little bit, I’ve compiled a list of the 5 things I wish somebody would’ve told me before my senior year of high school.

  1. This year will fly by! Everybody says it, but you won’t believe it until you go through it. Take pictures of everything, don’t get caught up in the dumb drama (you really won’t remember it!), spend your time on what you care about, and cherish every last minute. There’s a reason that you hear this sentiment a million times. When I started my freshman year of high school, my older brother told me, “this will be the fastest four years of your life.” Think about how fast the past three years have gone… your fourth and final year of high school is going to go five times as fast. So get off of Instagram and go spend some real time with real friends, before you all move away from each other and form your own lives.

  2. Do the most outrageous things now. In high school, I was nearly expelled for a number of reasons, on several different occasions. It was never for anything malicious; only good fun and me pushing the envelope just enough. I think adults are sometimes afraid to tell you to just go wild because they’re scared that you might take that and run with it, but I say go for it! Sneak out, kiss that boy you like, dye your whole head pink, ask the popular girl to prom, apply to your dream college… you will never live in a time with so little responsibilities and repercussions. Take full advantage of this now, before it’s too late!

  3. Ask your teachers for advice!! I know they are super lame, but actually you’ll end up friending them on Facebook and then being like WOW they are super cool! And they are really helpful! They’ve got good insider knowledge on how to get into college, start a job out of high school, utilize your school’s resources and more! BONUS tip: make your favorite teacher your mentor. Ask if you can hang out and help during their free period in exchange for their time (and brain!!). Trust me!! Adults are not that uncool; they can help you get that leg up that you need before heading off to college!

  4. It is what you make it. When I was halfway through my senior year, my best friend picked up in the middle of the night (literally, like this could be a bad Hallmark movie) and ran away from home. The next week, I got kicked out of the spring musical for something I didn’t do. I really could have just given up then and there- nothing was going right, and the pressure was even more intense because I was 17 years old, trying to figure out the rest of my life. But when you don’t let the bad affect all of the good, you’ll end up enjoying your senior year so much more and be able to look back on it in a few years and laugh- not hold resentment. I’m really just setting you up for a future with less therapy fees, here.

  5. That brings me to my final point. This is not the end of your life. I know that it can really feel like you have to have everything figured out right now, for the rest of your life. But please please please, take it from somebody who let her anxiety get the most of her way too often- it’s okay to not know what you want. It’s okay to take a year off from college while you decide what you want to do. It’s okay to not go to college at all. It’s okay to go to trade school, to get a job at the local produce market, to camp out in your parents’ basement for a while. Everything feels like a hurricane right now, but things will slow down and you’ll have time to think things through. Don’t go crazy trying to put together a full life plan at the age of 17. Things are going to change, and you’re going to be happy to welcome that change instead of stressing because it’s not going according to plan.

What’s your best advice to your high school self? Scroll through the images of this fall Hershey Gardens, Pennsylvania senior portrait session, to the bottom of the blog post where I reveal a sixth BONUS tip!

5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
5 Things you need before senior year by Kara McCurdy
 

Oh! And your bonus SIXTH TIP: don’t forget to get your senior photos booked! Didn’t you read tips 1 through 5?! This year is going to FLY BY! You’re going to be busy making memories and applying to colleges once the school year starts, so make sure you book your senior photos early (in the spring or summer into fall) so that you don’t even have to think about it. Like the photos you saw here? Click here to book me for your senior photos and let’s make magic happen! Not yet persuaded? Check out my other senior portrait sessions in this blog post and in my portrait gallery!

Constructive Criticism: For Beginners

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It started like any other day for me. I’m just hanging out on Instagram, like I do daily (shameless plug), when I get a notification that a random stranger doesn’t like an image of one of my clients. Boo hoo.

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I click over to read the comment: “too much photo shop! don’t like!” No, the troll was not Donald Trump, although he certainly types like him. Just some random guy from New Jersey who wanted to make his opinions known on social media.

And we all have that right, right? We all have the right to like what we like, and dislike what we don’t like, and we should definitely explore elements that we’re drawn to in order to better define our interests.

But if I were insecure in my abilities and my personal style of photography, I’d probably be as bent out of shape as this guy. I’d probably be really upset and questioning whether or not my art is even good. Does it look photoshopped? Do people actually think I have the time to photoshop every single image from a full wedding? Are people going to start expecting that I will spend endless hours photoshopping their wedding photos? Should I start photoshopping my images? Will that make them better? Will it make them worse?

Thankfully, I’ve made a conscious effort to be selective with who influences my work. My old college professors, who have proven themselves more skilled and knowledgable than most. My peers and colleagues who have undergone similar training, and whose eye for successful art I would never question. My husband, of course, a creative director and successful designer who never hesitates to dish out the harsh criticism I need. And then- lastly (this is important)- my paying clients, whose honest feedback has helped me understand what the general ~untrained eye might be interested in. And that’s about it. I don’t let social media dictate my artistic style. I don’t let strangers’ opinions affect how I feel about my work. Because it’s important to protect your creativity. When you start a business- well, when you start anything really- people are going to have a lot of opinions about how they think you should do things. And you have to remember that their opinions do not matter. Unless they are the ones paying the rent, purchasing the supplies, operating the equipment, or signing the paycheck- they don’t deserve a say in the way you run your business.

So, when I saw that somebody had an opinion about an image that I worked hard on and felt personally attached to, I stopped and thought, “this is a really beautiful opportunity for education.” Opinions are wonderful things. Constructive criticism is better. What’s the difference? I would be willing to hear remarks about this photo such as, “you should remove the people from the background, because they’re distracting from the subject of the photo,” or “you should darken up the skyline to make it pop more!” or even “what if you lightened up their faces so that we can better see the look they’re giving each other, which will help transport us to this very moment in time when their eyes were locked on one another?” These types of remarks are helpful. They give me a supported opinion and a comprehensive solution. They show that the viewer has taken ample time to study the piece and react from an educated perspective (ooooh she’s an artiste!!). When somebody challenges you and your work like this- hold onto that person. They would make a good mentor.

Now, please stick around for upcoming blog posts where I talk about how to place things in front of your camera to create depth, what a dynamic image consists of, and of course- what a tree is. Peep below for some before and afters of placing objects in front of the lens.

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How I Travel While Vegan

April 4th marks three whole years of me being vegan! Now that’s not without a cheat meal or cheat snack here or there. Or the time I cried in the bathroom at a restaurant when they gave me a BEEF burger when I asked for a BEYOND burger (I get it… easy mixup). But for the most part, I’ve operated at at least 95% vegan for the past three years, and I think that’s saying something! I haven’t stuck with anything for that long, and I have never once regretted my decision to go vegan.

So to celebrate that, and my upcoming trip to Croatia, here are my 5 best tips on how to travel while living a vegan lifestyle!

 

Unlike when I first transitioned into veganism, now I travel- a lot. And I have a few rules for traveling, some of which are pretty unpopular, but here we go!

My biggest travel rule is that I don’t eat vegan while traveling internationally. I know. You can begin hurling the “fake vegan” hate all you want. But let me explain!

I think the greatest part of being able to travel the world is that we get to experience other cultures. Maybe we only get to visit these countries with these rich histories once in our lifetimes. I don’t want to waste that one time. I want to relish in the culture- which is so hugely impacted by food.

That doesn’t mean I view international travel as an excuse to eat whatever I want. But if the traditional dish in a country has dairy in it, I’m still going to try it. I mean… if the traditional dish is steak, I’m going to pass. I still get sick when I eat animal products, so I can’t go crazy. But sampling various cuisines is such an important part of traveling. And while finding all of the best vegan restaurants in different cities has become something I’ve gotten increasingly good at, I think we should still submerse ourselves entirely into other cultures (but thats just me).

 

Now, traveling in America? I stick to my fully vegan lifestyle. Which is good because I travel around America quite a bit. Here are the top five things I always do to make it easy to stay vegan when I travel:

  1. Know before you go! Do the research beforehand! I always google “best vegan restaurants” in the city I’m visiting. This is so obvious, but people will forget before they get to their destination, and then cave because it’s too difficult to navigate a different environment. Keep a list on your phone of top restaurants as you’re researching so that you can refer back to it. This makes me really excited to find new places to try, so try to make it fun!

  2. Stock up early. When you get to where you’re going, hit the grocery store first. You might be tempted to rush to the beach or hit that first trailhead, but stop. Go to the grocery. Grab a few things that you can munch on if there’s nothing else around. Don’t wait until it’s 2am and you’re in the Uber on the way home from the bars and your travel buddies want to stop and grab pizza and you haven’t eaten all day because there were no vegan options. I usually grab a bag of arugula, baby carrots, a tub of hummus, and bananas. This gives me a lot of variety, for not much money (Helllllllo cheap!).

  3. Be prepared. In the weeks leading up to my travels, I get very in tune with my eating habits so that I can know my body before I take it to a different city or country. I always pack something for me to eat on the plane and for at least the first 24 hours of travel. One time I went to Stockholm and didn’t eat anything except Larabars for 2 full days because I couldn’t read the language. Whoops!! Could’ve been prevented had I just come prepared.

  4. Remember your staples. What food items can you always rely on? For me, when I’m out at restaurants, it’s usually salads, steamed vegetables, rice, and almost always french fries. If you know off the top of your head the ~usually vegan~ foods, it’ll be easier to decipher a menu and feel more confident in your food choices when you’re out and about. Take it one step further by asking yourself: What have you been craving lately? Can you pack some of those things along with you, in case you can’t access vegan options?

  5. Speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask your server if certain foods are vegan. I usually find the most likely vegan foods, and then I’ll ask “does this have any dairy or eggs in it?” or “Is this cooked in butter?” Knowing what to ask and not being afraid to speak up can really help you stay fueled up while traveling!

And that’s it! Mostly, what all of this leads to is: think ahead! It is totally possible to stay vegan while you travel, and it can even be easy if you just prepare. What are your favorite vegan snacks for travel? Let me know in the comments section below!

If you’re interested in following along with my Croatian travels, check out my Instagram to stay up to date!

 
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