Category: for photogs

3 Important Steps in Goal Setting Prep!!

Filed in for photogs, mentoring, personal shot by on at

A brand new year is almost upon us! So, naturally, the Internet is abuzz with the topic of goal-setting. I wrote this post around the same time last year all about why it’s so important to set goals, along with a few tips for how to set yourself up for success! If you’ve never physically written down your goals, click over to last year’s post to read my thoughts on why I think it’s 100% necessary. It’s definitely worth setting aside the time to do it!!  This year, as I’m preparing to put pen to paper and set my goals for the upcoming year, I thought I would share what that process of preparation looks like for me. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to doing pre-goal-setting work; this just happens to be the method that resonates most with me. :)

So, let’s dive right in!!

Step 1: Re-Read all goals set at the beginning of the current year. 

The first thing I do is pull out all of my lists of goals – both business goals and personal ones – and I read through them to see what’s still on there that I didn’t accomplish. Whatever I didn’t accomplish, I’m going to re-evaluate to decide whether or not it’s still a relevant goal. If it is, I will flag it to move over to my goals for the new year. If it’s no longer relevant, I just scribble it out. For example, one of my business goals for this past year was to grow our Boothtastic Facebook page to 2000 followers and launch an ad campaign to promote our booth. I did not accomplish that because I focused my energy in other places, and have since decided that this particular goal is no longer relevant because we’ve changed the way we offer Boothtastic to our clients. A lot can change in a year as things grow and evolve!! So, this goal that I previously set for myself gets the good ‘ol scribble de doo. Make sense? :)

Step 2: Read through all journal entries for the current year.

I keep a journal for most of the year. I say *most* because I usually let go of journaling around September-ish when my shooting/editing schedule starts to really ramp up in intensity. I’m totally okay with this; it’s a natural part of the rhythm of my job and something I’ve come to accept and expect. But the knowledge and insight I gain from reading those journal entries from January – September is so incredibly helpful. It gives me a birds eye view of where my head and heart were at throughout the year. They show me what I learned, what I celebrated, and where I struggled, and all of that plays a huge role in shaping my goals for the new year.

Step 3: Make a list of what went well and what did not both professionally and personally. 

This step is super important. If you don’t take the time to reflect on what you did right and what you could have done better or differently, how will you ever grow? If you want to evolve and become the best version of yourself, you have to stare down your shortcomings and dream up better ways to do things. It’s equally important to say “Hey, I did a great job with _____!” Know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and know that they can change/shift over time. I wrote down a whole bunch of goals at the end of last year. I accomplished some of them and failed miserably at others and I find it very helpful to look at the reasons why. Did I have enough support in place to accomplish my goals? Did I give myself enough time to complete tasks? If I set out to do something, but didn’t make it happen, there’s a reason for that. Knowing what it was will help me be even more successful in the long run.

I typically take a couple of days to work my way through these three steps, but once the pre-work is done I can move on to the best part: setting intentional, actionable goals for the new year!

Last year, I wrote a “2016: What Worked and What Didn’t” blog post, and it’s so cool to look back on that and see how far I’ve come since then! I’m working on the 2017 version right now, so I’ll be sharing that early next week. :)

Have you set goals for yourself yet? If you know what you want to accomplish this year, make sure you take the extra step of writing it down. Writing down your goals is the KEY puzzle piece! If you have never set goals before or have absolutely no idea whatsoever what your goals should be, don’t fret – that’s way more common than you might think. I’ve been there myself! Following the above steps will definitely help you organize your thoughts. If you need more personalized help getting organized, just shoot me a message! —> info@ayresphoto.com

Happy New Year, friends!  This year is filled with so much promise and I’m so very excited to see it all unfold.

Let’s connect on Instagram!!

3 Ways You (Yes, YOU!) Can Look Natural in Photos

Filed in engagements, for photogs, weddings shot by on at

If there’s one thing I know for sure about our couples after all these years, it’s that they feel a little bit awkward in front of a camera. 99% of the time, I hear at least one of the following phrases: “We just aren’t photogenic. He blinks in every photo. We’re so awkward in pictures. I never know what to do with my hands.”

I think our very relaxed, documentary style of photography tends to attract people who want stunning wedding photos without having to do much “posing,” because let’s face it, “workin’ it” in front of a camera can, in fact, be super awkward, even if you’re not an awkward person.

I mean, I don’t consider myself to be an awkward person. I am an extrovert through and through; but I am SO camera-awkward that it hurts. The first time that Ben and I were photographed as a couple, I was so nervous that I downed an entire pitcher of margs before heading out. Thankfully, we had awesome photographers who made us laugh a ton and look natural despite the fact that I was basically drunk throughout our entire shoot. #notrecommended

Over the years, I have really perfected my “posing” skills, and have mastered techniques to make even the most camera-awkward people look and feel like they get photographed for a living. The secret is to work them in and out of “poses” quickly, before they have time to think about feeling awkward. I keep the excitement level high by giving lots of “actions” to carry out, and shooting the moments in between. I will typically run through anywhere from 10-15 “actions” every time I photograph a couple, and they have become such an important part of the process I use to make everyone feel completely relaxed and at ease.  You get constant direction for what to do along with a ton of positive reinforcement, so your brain never has a chance to wonder how you look on camera, and that, my friends, is when the real magic happens.

So, if you’re self-conscious about your camera-awkwardness, welcome to the club, my friend; you’re in good company. And this is your lucky day, because I’m going to share 3 of the most effective tricks I use during shoots that relax my couples into looking totally natural EVERY SINGLE TIME!  If your engagement session or wedding day is fast approaching and you’re dreading being in front of a camera, screen-shot these tricks and make them your go-to actions; I promise you’ll feel at least 97% less awkward immediately. Ready? Let’s dive in!!

  • Mindreading – Stand facing your partner with your arms around each other. Close your eyes and think (to yourself) of a number or a color or whatever you decide. (I usually go with colors!) Then, open your eyes (looking at each other) and take turns trying to guess what your partner thought of! This is a fun exercise because whether you guess correctly or not, it will still make you smile. ;)
  • Whispering – Whisper in your partner’s ear very quietly, “If you were a food, you would be…” or “if you were an animal you would be…” These might sound ridiculous, but they are hilarious, and I have the photos to prove it.
  • Dance – You can slow dance or fast dance or crazy dance or whatever makes you happiest! The important thing is to connect with each other. Make eye contact while dancing. Laugh!! Show off your best moves! I use this one at almost every wedding and every engagement session, because the results are always so, so good.

No matter who is behind the camera, you can use these 3 strategies to kick your camera-awkwardness to the curb, and make yourselves look natural, relaxed, and completely in love anytime, anyplace! Whether you’re a bride-to-be or a photographer interested in capturing more natural, joyful moments, I’d love to hear what you think of these 3 tips. Let me know in the comments below!!


Feeling better about being in front of the camera?? Great! Now it’s time to choose where to go!

Click here for tips on how to find your perfect photo-op spot!