The Liz List

I thought it might be fun to share a portion of my way-too-specific bucket list. Is it cheesy to say that I’m a dreamer? Because…I am. I spend way too much time planning in great detail events for the future that may never happen. I drive around (often) just to look at gorgeous towns or homes that I’ll never live in, and I have a running list of saved homes on Zillow that I’ll never buy. It’s slightly possible that I drive my husband nuts when I ask about that ever-elusive remodel that we’re totally gonna do someday, and I think even my kids get annoyed with my imagination from time to time—“Mommy, can you just read in a normal voice?” Alas, I’m always adding to the bucket list and coming up with things to do all over the world. These are a few of my faves. Anyone want to adopt a few of these? Be my guest!

Walk barefoot in the Faroe Islands (somebody take me there NOW!)

Bungee Jump off of the Royal Gorge Bridge

Do a climb tour over the Golden Gate Bridge

Shoot a wedding in Europe (check, this coming October!)

Build a sand castle in Fiji

Gift a polaroid camera in a 3rd world country

Bury a ring in New Zealand

Kiss under the Eiffel Tower

Order a glass of milk in a German pub

Hang one of my photographs in an art museum (check!)

Climb a tree

Sneak out of my own house for a donut run without waking anyone

Repel down Sears Tower

Carve mine and Derek’s initials in a tree (half-check. Turns out it's kind of hard.)

Bury a time capsule

Handstand in a hot air balloon

Teach my kids how to use a camera

Le'Chaim or whatever (I think it means yay for living)

 

Goodbye to Spelling "Oestmann"

This past weekend, the last of my three sisters got married, marking the end of our Oestmann maiden name! I am so blessed to have been able to shoot for all three of my sisters in some way during their wedding processes! And now I’m thinking I should celebrate by sharing a few favorite images! Laura’s engagement session was way back in 2009, before I even owned a nice camera. Melissa and Hallie both got married this year—I was able to shoot Hallie’s bridal session and her wedding, which was really special, and for Melissa I shot her engagement and bridal sessions. These photos will always be some of my favorites, because of who is in front of the camera :) Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll get to shoot for my nieces, nephews, and maybe even my own kids!

With joy,

Lizard.

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Balancing Work and Mom Life

In case you’re new here, let me introduce myself: I’m Elizabeth, a traveling wedding photographer, wife, and momma to two kiddos. Growing up, I was interested in art, but honestly I always planned on being a stay at home mom…until college. I realized my passion for photography and ever since having my first baby in 2013, I just haven’t been able to let go of this awesome job, if you can even call it that. More accurately, being a wedding photographer who travels for 80% of my shoots is just an addiction that pays. 

Today, I’ll be preaching to myself more than anyone else, because I want to discuss finding a balance between being a wife and mother, and owning your own business. This topic is endless, and I’ve yet to perfect it — or even come close — but I’ve found these 3 tips helpful (when I actually stick to them).

1. Give yourself business hours. Sit down with your spouse, and let them have a say in when those hours will be; Hours where you can work completely uninterrupted. If you have a studio or office space, this helps. But, if you’re like me, and your growing family is busting the house at the seams, it’s especially important for your spouse to have your back and keep the kids out for just a while so you can fully focus. Also, do your best to NOT be flexible with these hours! Of course, life happens, and you will at times have to move things around, but REALLY try not to let these specified hours get away from you. For me, I’ve hired a babysitter twice a week during the day to watch the kids. This keeps me from having to stay up late on those days, and I actually get to relax after the kids’ bedtime, like a normal person. By relax, I obviously mean do laundry.

 

2. Do not get behind!! I’m super grumpy, and all around a horrible person if I start to feel the pressure of deadlines that I’m not meeting! As a wedding photographer, people are waiting for their photos the day after I shoot a wedding, and it can take quite a while to get through the editing process. If I start to get behind, I pull a near all-nighter editing. I don’t recommend doing this more than 2 nights in a row, BUT I’d rather have one long all-nighter than a week of staying up “pretty late.” That’s my personal preference, but I guess that may not work for everyone.

 

3. Have at least 2 days a week where you don’t work at all. For me, this can’t be the weekend, because most of my weddings are on Saturdays. Plus, when my husband is home all day, that’s the perfect opportunity to get in a couple hours of editing. My no-work days are usually Mondays and Fridays, although I do have to do a small bit of prepping for Saturday weddings on Fridays. By having designated no-work days, I can focus on time with my family, meal prepping, or whatever the surrounding week’s activities require.

I have to say, in case anyone is reading this and thinks I have it all figured out, I almost NEVER follow these tips perfectly. But I totally should! I think the biggest challenge about working from home is finding that balance. It can be so challenging to sit and edit when the dirty dishes are 5 feet away from you. By the same token, I would always rather work than do laundry, and it’s easy to procrastinate my “at-home duties” when my computer is just in the next room, waiting for me to get to work! But balance is always my goal, and think about what that looks like: When you’re “balancing” on anything, you probably won’t be perfectly balanced at all times! You’ll be wobbly with your arms out, struggling, and even sometimes falling…but that doesn’t mean that the balance is impossible. So when you’re struggling, keep trying, and when you fall, don’t beat yourself up. If someone offers to help, by all means, ACCEPT the help! Remember, most things that are worth doing are pretty freaking hard.

With joy,

Lizard.

Getting Started Pt 2

Being a traveling wedding photographer is the dream job, at least for me. When I tell people about my job, I get a wide variety of responses. Here are a few:

“Oh, I bet that pays well!”

“That’s a great job for a mom!”

“Oh, right. I guess every photographer has to pay their dues doing weddings for a while.”

“So people actually pay you to travel just to take pictures for their weddings?”

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Each of these responses has some truth to it, and each is also WAY off. Yes, I charge in the “middle to upper” range for wedding photography. In the interest of you learning from this post, I will be very transparent: My profits are MINIMAL. I put most of my profits back into the company, to help with marketing, maintenance, website costs, classes, equipment, insurance, and a heavy ETCETERA. This makes said profits…well, not profits. Ha. Getting the dream client can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be, but marketing (the expensive kind) sure does help, of course along with good customer reviews (more on that another time). People do pay a premium price for premium service. Providing fantastic service requires a GREAT deal of time and sacrifice…and money. That’s just a fact.

Is it a great job for a mom? Yes and no. It’s great in the sense that during the week, I am home with my babies. Usually that sentence is followed by “So, I don’t miss any big moments,” but you know what? That’s not true. I miss a lot of moments because I’m trying to be a full-time SAHM and a full-time business owner. I’m often distracted from my littles (working on that), because weddings and brides and making sure my brides know how much I care is a big freaking deal. Are my babies more important? DUH. But that often gets lost in the day-to-day struggle of balance. Shall I write a separate blog post about mom balance? I think I will!

One fantastic thing I’ve been able to do in the last year is offer complimentary travel fees to most of my brides. How in the world can I do that? Yep, less profits. It’s kind of built into my price, kind of not. Basically, in 2016 I raised my prices (something every photographer should do every year or so) but instead of keeping the profits, I put it all toward a “travel budget” so that my brides would know exactly what they were paying as soon as they received my packages list—no added fees. Yay! It’s been a huge help to my strategy of marketing myself as a traveling photographer. It’s a win/win. I get to travel—WIN. My bride tells all her friends that her photographer traveled for free—WIN. Happy client, fantastic reviews. WIN/WIN.

Let me be very clear about one thing: I am in no way “paying dues” by shooting weddings! In my mind, though others may look at my job and cringe, I have arrived. And I don’t mean that to brag in any way, but just to express how much I absolutely adore what I get to do. Two of my greatest passions, travel and photography (and design makes three!), are merged into an addiction which I get paid to have! I know there are a lot of photographers out there who hate weddings and “pay their dues” just until they can earn a living off of portraits, and more power to ya! But my happy place is right here in the hustle and bustle of the wedding day and the days leading up to it. I find a rush in the “backstage passes” I get to these insane celebrations of love and mushy souls and happy tears. In the weeks and sometimes months in between my gigs, I dream of moments I may capture or new poses I could try; I read wedding blogs and try to predict upcoming wedding trends. THIS is the dream job. And if it sounds like your dream job too, well then I hope you keep coming back here to read more :)