For Photographers Archive

Social Media’s Out for Summer: Why I’m Taking a Partial Social Media Hiatus

“I’m sure no one ever thinks about it…but these snapshots are our little stand against the flow of time. 

The shutter is clicked, the flash goes off…

And we’ve stopped time. If just for the blink of an eye.

And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it’s this: I was here. I existed. I was young and I was happy…

and someone cared enough about me in this world, to take my picture.”

If you’ve seen the movie One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams, you may remember this quote. Watching the movie again recently, the words got me like a jab straight to the gut. But perhaps not in the way you might think. While the words did resonate the sentiment that photographs are ever-so-important, it resonated another sentiment even more. One of disconnecting in this world we live of C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T connection. Taking time to breath and to be present, without sharing every move we make in hopes of “likes” and followers.

I think things in the social media world have evolved at such a fast pace, that we sometimes don’t even realize how much it’s effected the ebbs and flows of our lives, our emotions, and our relationships. While I absolutely CHERISH social media for it’s ability to connect us with the outside world, I think most of us can agree in this age of DAILY Facebook spats, that it’s both a blessing and a curse.

I am ever-so-grateful for the parts of social media that have allowed me to expand my mind and my relationships with thoughts and people that I never before would have been able to encounter in the same ways–or on the same levels. However, I think we can all agree that the “Keeping up with the Joneses” and the Facebook aggression on topics like vaccinations, political debates, and parental critiques are at an all-time-high enough to make an onlooker sick to the stomach.

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(Photo by Jenna Kutcher)

So, what am I getting at?

Well, after much debate (and fear)–as social media does drive an inherent part of my business–I’ve decided to take a little hiatus from Facebook and blogging. It’s VERY semi-permanent, but I truly believe a break from the constant chatter to NOT document every move I make and instead observe the real-life happenings around me is essential for growth and development.

With that being said, I WILL still be present on Instagram and you can follow me @kalinorton. I’m not sure exactly what date I’ll be back on Facebook and blogging, but it will likely be around mid-August. When I do return, my hope is to share with you any insight and growth that occurred in my absence.

While this step was a little scary for me, as blogging twice a week has become such a vital part of my business, I truly believe this break is necessary. After all, the scariest things usually birth the best transformation, right?

In the meantime, if you’d like to reach out or connect with me, you CAN still do so via email, Instagram (@kalinorton) and Snapchat (@kalinorton).

Happy Summer, friends!

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Jasmine Star Workshop: Chicago

Can I just shout to the rooftops how appreciative I am to be able to do what I love and make a living doing it? Admittedly, there are many days when I’m incredibly overwhelmed with the sheer idea of being my own boss–the idea that my success (or failure) lies soley in my hustle. Because let’s be honest, as with many things in life, it’s so easy to both catch and lose that hustle. It’s even easier to get down on yourself. (By the way, if you are currently down on yourself, I encourage you to read one of my past posts on that topic, here.)

Nonetheless, with that rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs and wondering if my hustle will ever be fast enough, driven enough, creative enough, I’m ever grateful to have worked for several opportunities for travel this summer. My travels aren’t over, but thus far, taking some time to adventure to new places and learn from others has truly been a breath of fresh air. (If you need some inspiration on the importance of taking breaks, I have a post for that too, here.)

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a wedding photography workshop in Chicago put on by one of the key people in the creative professional industry who truly inspired my own personal decision to change my course of studies from English several years ago, and graduate with a B.A. in Liberal Arts to pursue a career in fine art wedding and portrait photography. Jasmine Star is a wedding photographer based in California who has mastered her art and her business through her sheer hustle and online voice. In college, I spent countless hours in between classes, at night, and during study breaks reading every inch of her blog, daydreaming about my own business and how I hoped to someday have the hustle that she possesed. I watched every online video and course she posted, I bought the magazine she published–I wanted that drive. Well, my friends, so much sweat tears and tears go into that hustle, I can assure you and I’m so far from where my dreams lie, but a tiny bit of me felt so at peace having met a woman who had such an impact on my career decisions. And how? All through her voice, love for writing, and dedicated blogging. Her true passion for wanting to help those willing to hustle, succeed.

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Not only did I have some extra time in Chicago to experience a little adventure, but I walked away from the workshop reinvigorated in how to approach my art and be of even better service to my dazzling clients. Our workshop took place at Robyn Rachel‘s drool-worthy warehouse/loft-esque studio in Downtown Chicago, where we spent the day learning, networking, and having the most casual business chats over delicious food. During the workshop, we had the opportunity to watch Jasmine shoot, and even got a little time to take away some of the knowledge she yielded us through our own lens.

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Our shooting portion of the workshop took place at a super swanky Chicago venue, Salvage One. Also, drool-worthy. If anyone wants to have a wedding full of retro mismatched chairs and a mid-century feel, let me tell you how game I am…

The rest of the Chicago creative team that made our day ever-fabulous were:

Hair: Nicci Loiacono
Makeup: Megan Hauser
Accessories: Left Bank Jewelry
Dress: Valentino from Belle Vie Bridal
Tuxedo: Formally Modern Tuxedo
Flowers: A Stem Above

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During the shoot, I also snapped a few of Jasmine instructing and JD being super awesome at everything else. Literally. I’m pretty sure he’s the other half of her brain–which I can only imagine, as Preston already fills in the gaps where my brain turns to mush on wedding days. Husband-wife teams for the win!
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 Jasmine, thank you for the countless moments of inspiration throughout my career, and for your confident, steadfast drive that lifts up this industry. Oh, and the “Gheushh.”  (; I mean, how do we even spell that?

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My Thoughts on Pinterest (For Brides)

Pinterest has become quite the topic of conversation over the past couple of years. From home decor, to meal planning, to throwing a fabulous party, the term “I got it from Pinterest” is a pretty common one. One of the main contenders on that list of “Pinspiration” topics is wedding planning. Now, before I go any further with this, I should note that I think the creators of Pinterest have executed a genius idea in the world of web browsing, and in fact, I do use it sometimes with outfit planning direction for sessions. However, there are certain elements that make Pinterest far less than a Godsend.

Pinterest, unfortunately, sometimes creates expectations among brides that often have far more elements that come into play than just recreating a pretty picture. Not to mention that whole stealing someone else’s idea thing…

In this post, I will outline some key points that photographers and other creative professionals in the wedding industry probably want you to know about WHY those pages of Pinterest photos you want recreated probably aren’t helping you get the best final product from YOUR day.

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PHOTOJOURNALISTIC OR “LIFESTYLE” PHOTOGRAPHY

These are terms you may have heard to describe photography in recent years. These coined terms describe natural, realistic, emotion-driven photography. New clients come to me and SO OFTEN the first thing they say is, “I want you because your images look so natural, not posed.” Those images you see where a couple looks so natural, laughing or sharing a sweet little kiss? That’s “lifestyle” esque photography. Yes, I’m probably directing them to some degree or another, but I’m not controlling their every “pose.” I’m letting their movements and interaction with one another flow naturally based on the cues I’m giving them and their own individual personalities. We see our best work in candid moments of raw emotion.

What’s my point? When us creative-brained people are focused on making sure we get the requested photos from your 5 page printed out Pinterest board, we MISS those candid ones. We’re human, and if we have a creative-driven brain, it likely works in it’s own particular routine of execution. Maybe you haven’t thought of it this way, but we are artists. We WANT to create AUTHENTIC, FINE ART for you. So let us. (:

Here’s a suggestion (since I know better than to think you’ll give up Pinterest cold turkey)…Use Pinterest for a springboard of wedding inspiration if you wish, but make those ideas your own. Think of the bigger picture of your day, then change those small ideas to fit into an overall vision that is all your own. You do the planning, you lay out all of the pretties, then leave the authentic documentation of your beautiful work to us. If you’ve planned it ahead of time, there’s no reason we can’t come in and document your vision that has come to life with the creative eye you hired us for.Untitled-14

ELEMENTS OF NATURE AND THE FACTORS/PACE OF A WEDDING DAY

What you’ve probably never put much thought to when looking at wedding photos on Pinterest, or heck, even a tutorial of how to make paper bows, is that what you’re seeing is the final product of that person’s work, whatever it may be. For a photographer, it was probably a photo chosen among many more (not ever seen) taken from that session or wedding. It was very likely taken with his or her curated end goal for the collection of work in mind.

Additionally, there’s a pretty whopping chance that that photo you saw on Pinterest was NOT a completely planned out moment–that moment that you’re asking to be replicated. Doesn’t that seem cheap to you? Don’t you want your own, AUTHENTIC feelings portrayed in your photos?

Let me explain. You see, when I take a photograph, there are several different elements of creativity and structure going through my head at any given time (ie. lighting, focal points, location, time of day, angles, etc). These are in addition to choosing between posing, candid moments, and the end product I have in mind to cohesively piece together the entire collection. In fact, each location and the way I direct clients and have them interact is a unique combination to them. It’s a mixture of my vision based on the elements (outfits, wedding details, venues) they’ve given me AND their own particular personalities. My goal is to make the photographs natural and representative of what is uniquely them. If I’m replicating someone else’s idea, how can I organically portray my own clients?

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MOST “D.I.Y.” WEDDING PINSPIRATION YOU SEE IS NOT ACTUALLY D.I.Y.

The truth is, most highly pinned pins are photographs taken by photographers working with reputable vendors in the industry on the wedding. While I’m not saying that everyone needs or can afford a wedding planner, I am, unfortunately, bursting your bubble. These photos are more than likely taken by photographers working with Grade A wedding planners, florists, etc and are very intricately planned out.

And THAT is if the photograph you’re seeing isn’t actually a product of a “styled shoot.” For those of you who don’t know, a styled shoot is when many fabulous vendors come together to put their creativity to life. It’s basically what us creatives would do if we had full reign all of the time. Styled shoots are BEAUTIFUL my friends, and they are a GREAT GREAT GREAT way to find wedding inspiration and direction, but keep in mind, there was a fabulous team put together to create all of those perfect elements you see.

Nonetheless, if they are DIY projects, it’s not just throwing some twine on some mason jars and calling it a day. It’s planning out tablescapes on your own, it’s taking lighting into consideration, it’s thinking about how that beautifully designed cake you ordered will look in front of a generic white curtain backdrop you’ve settled with from the reception hall because you “don’t want to make any more decisions.”

Why am I blabbing on about this? Because if you want something like what you’re seeing, YOU need to put the planning and work in beforehand to make it happen–or hire people who will. You can even ask me for a little direction to see what your options are for making your vision happen. I want the absolute best for you, and for me. It’s not impossible, it’s VERY possible. It just requires preparation and communication. I’m a photographer, not a magician. I can’t pull bunnies out of hats if you don’t provide hats and bunnies. ( :

Kady and Brandon’s wedding in this post, for example, WAS actually all executed by meticulous planning by her. Kady followed wedding blogs and asked the questions from professionals and/or did the research to achieve the picture perfect wedding she wanted. She hired someone the day of to simply keep things in order and and make sure her vision was executed smoothly. But most of all, she planned ahead of time, keeping in mind the final aesthetic and how the choices she made would look in photographs.

Am I saying everyone needs to go to these lengths? No. But I am saying that if you’re envisioning photographs like you pin, then yes, you do.

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TIMELINE PLANNING

Wedding days move quickly. They are filled with excitement, tons of people, and usually a bride who wants to relax (and should). This means she is not dishing out orders. And since the mother hen of the vision is NOT giving out orders on the day of, timeline planning for the day is essential.

In fact, if any of my current brides are reading this, they’re probably laughing knowing I’d put this in here. I’m NEUROTIC about timeline planning in advance, y’all. I wine and dine them and we meticulously discuss and account for every minute of the day when we plan months ahead of time. Every photographer does not do this, but I do. Why? Because even if it’s time marked off for simply WAITING or doing nothing, communication is clear and everyone knows what and when they are responsible for something. It sounds stringent, but I promise, it actually has quite the opposite effect when it comes to the execution of a more laid back, emotion filled day.

Why am I talking about timelines on a Pinterest themed post? Because those photographs you see pinned likely came as a product of time set aside for creative photographs. A timeline where the bride and groom did a first look, had a cocktail hour where they slipped away for styled photographs, or just simply slipped away. It’s true. It’s a less common practice in the South it seems, but in many other places, the married couple actually designates a “cocktail hour” of sorts for guests while they sneak off with the photographer for professional photos. You can read even more extensively about my thoughts on that time topic in a whole separate post I wrote, here.

The VAST, GEESH EVER-SO-VAST majority of photos you’re probably drooling over on Pinterest are coming from the cushioned time block the photographer has to be creative pre-ceremony, during the first look, or during that cocktail hour. So, once again, if you don’t give me bunnies and hats, I can’t do the magic. And TRUST ME, I wanna work alllllllll of that magic for you.

Much like a marriage, we are a team. Communication, collaboration, and trust are absolute key. I can give you BETTER than what you see on Pinterest, because it will be authentic to you. But we must work on a basis of trust, communication, and collaboration.

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THE FINAL WORD WE CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS WANT YOU TO KNOW…

We photographers, wedding planners, videographers, florists, venues, etc–have seen these styles of photographs and we may, very well, even know the artist(s) in the wedding industry who helped create it. We want nothing more for your final, beautiful outcome AND for our own careers, to achieve these same types of final products.We study blogs, we travel around the country to workshops, we study styles, we study the composition of others’ great work. We admire it and we grow from it, but as respectable artists and creators, we do not copy it. We’ve probably already seen it and used it as a learning tool to make our own work more authentic, but never (or at least I hope never) to copy someone else’s.

SO, when you’re thinking about using Pinterest, I challenge you to instead approach it with a mindset of authenticity. I challenge you to, instead of copying, brainstorm an overall vision that you have for your day–feelings, style, and atmosphere that represents you. Ask the professionals you’ve hired for their personal and professional advice of how and where you may be able to reference to achieve it, then make it your own. I can’t speak for other professionals, but I can tell you that I would gladly spend a little extra time than I’m paid for with a bride or client asking for my advice, because I know it means we are working together to create something authentic. And because your own is SO much better than any replica.

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Grace in Your Heart and Flowers in Your Hair – My Most Meaningful Giveaway, EVER (EXTENDED DEADLINE)

The essence of a woman, is by far, the most bafflingly beautiful thing to me. There is a particular strength, dignity, and grace interwoven in the soul of a woman that is just breathtaking.  Lately, this particular subject has really moved me.  I’ve been driven by stories, inspired by silent battles, and just moved by the women around me who have endured or are currently enduring with a level of grace, dignity, and preserverance that just simply deserves a little light.

Perhaps this is why I have such a deep love and devotion for photographing women. I feel that a photograph of a woman smiling, truly a joyful smile is one of the most breathtakingly powerful sights. I feel that the intimate moment captured between a mother and her newborn is a breath of love that no one in the world can understand but her. I feel that the bold beauty of a high school senior trying to find her place in this great big world is more than just a pretty photograph, but rather, a message that tells her that she is good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough–that she has something all her own to offer to the world. I believe that a woman has more power at her fingertips by the grace, dignity, and levels of love she can offer to the world than any other creature on this Earth.

I truly believe that what we as women need even is uplifting from other women. I like to think that we are like reflectors, and by being uplifting, we set the bar for others to do the same. With that being said, I’ve decided this year to put on the biggest contest I’ve ever held to celebrate the strength and beauty of the women we call our mothers, our friends, our sisters, daughters, companions–the ones who’ve fought battles, silently or with support of loved ones–the ones who need a little light in their lives.

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WHAT WILL THEY WIN, YOU ASK?

The winner, chosen by me based on all nominated submissions, will be gifted an ENTIRE Lifestyle Collection Session (including styling direction, session, gallery of edited images, blog feature with a write-up on the specific beauty and grace behind the woman in the photographs) valued at over $500.

Sessions will be gifted for use in the Hammond/Ponchatoula area, HOWEVER, this should NOT discourage readers from ANYWHERE to enter. Should the winner want a session somewhere other than where I am located, they can still be awarded the same $500 valued collection and would simply have to provide my travel costs. Still a phenomenal win, if you ask me. Plus, I’d LOVE to hear stories from ANY and EVERYWHERE.

ALSO, if the nominated winner chosen is from out of state, they will be contacted with a choice to accept. If they decline, the next winner will be chosen. All of that being said to not sway ANYONE from nominating deserving contenders.

HERE’S HOW IT WILL WORK:

I’m looking for nominations for any woman, of any age, you know who’s fought or is currently fighting some sort of battle OR striving to reach some sort of goal for self-improvement with an awe-inspiring grace and dignity.

WHAT YOU NEED TO INCLUDE IN AN ENTRY:

Her name.

A photograph of her, link to her Facebook, OR link to her Instagram.

Her story and what about her story makes her inspiring to you or others. Give me as much information as possible as to what makes her beautiful, strong, and dignified. (NO personal information about any contestants will be published without my first contacting them for approval once all submissions have been entered).

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO SUBMIT ENTRIES?

Nomination submission deadline is EXTENDED THROUGH MARCH. Deadline is April 1, 2014 at Midnight CST.

WHERE DO YOU SUBMIT NOMINATIONS?

All nominations should be emailed to kali(at)kalinorton.com or via my website contact page with the subject line “2014 Nomination.”

I absolutely cannot wait to be moved by the powerful women we are surrounded by. I truly believe in documentation through photographs to affirm life’s charm and serve as a delicate reminder that, somewhere in the muddle, there is radiance.

P.S. – Fabulous quote above credit goes to Mumford & Sons, from their song “After the Storm.”

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Comparison is the thief of joy

There’s something I learned to do, pretty early on in my business. It was probably the first giant stepping stone for me in paving the way for creating a brand and business I knew I had it in me to achieve. Now, let me be clear before I go on with this, I am still very, very much working on that path, as my business goals are still growing, changing, and perfecting daily. However, I do know that by doing this one thing several years ago, it allowed me to clear all of those debilitating voices in my head, that just constantly numbed me in fear and told me I could never climb that mountain. What am I talking about? Comparison…

I learned that every time I viewed someone’s work who had the same geographical client base as I, I just compared every little thing they did to my own talents and abilities, when in fact, they had different style altogether, or perhaps different business goals, or different life circumstances.

Looking back, I can see how illogical this was, when in fact, THE VERY REASON I decided to start my business was to bring something different, something astonishingly new to the area based on what I had researched and aspired from photographers around the globe and where I knew my own strengths and talents lie.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I know that I’m not the only entrepreneur, the only business person, the only photographer, the only woman that has felt this. And while I can’t be sure of what any other person’s private thoughts, aspirations, or goals will drive them to do, I’m fairly certain that achieving a dream is a capability every person has.

During the holidays, I was watching the movie Jobs that came out this year. It is a biography of Steve Jobs. If you know anything of Steve Jobs you know why he’s one of the most influential creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century. One of the many inspiring pieces of advice he gave over his lifetime was this…

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Whether that dream is to be a CEO of a large company, a stay at home mother who loves and raises a family with everything she has, whether it’s to become a nurse, or get into college, or to make a large impact in the lives of many people–every one has something to prove to themselves. And that’s a beautiful thing, because I believe if we didn’t ever try to prove something to ourselves, we’d be a terribly boring, unmotivated, bunch o’ people.

I posed an Instagram photo a while back that said, “Once you feel like you get over a mountain, you realize it was only a hill–and that the mountain is still ahead.” This is certainly how I feel about running a business. But something I’ve realized recently is that when you get into adulthood especially, life really never stops challenging you. I’ve also learned, that that is the beauty of it. I used to have some abstract idea in the back of my mind that setting goals was like filling a cup, and once it was full, so was my capability to achieve all I wanted. But what I realized is, reaching potential means constantly setting goals, constantly working to better myself.

The world doesn’t get more kind and I don’t believe all comparison is bad. But, let’s all strive for healthy comparison in 2014. Let’s compare ourselves to only to the people we strive to be, the ones who challenge us to grow, healthily. Comparing to any others who don’t push you to be your better self is, in my opinion, not only a simple-minded way of thinking, but it will also get you all of nowhere. Use that energy to challenge yourself to be a better you, instead.

Let’s let 2014 be more about fostering the beauty in cultivating relationships — romantic, friendships, or family. None of them last forever. Let’s let 2014 not be about being frozen in fear or dreaming of the same aspirations you’ve dreamt for the past two years. Let’s do something about it. Let’s change. Let’s never be the same again. (:

 

And now, for the winner of the voted Favorite 2013 Portrait that readers have chosen…IMG_8230The ever-sweet Cefalu family. (Callie came in 2nd, and the Owen family was a close 3rd!) Thank you everyone for voting, and even moreso, thank you to my clients who take my breathe away, time and time again.

Happy Thursday, my sweet friends!

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