How to Save Money on Your Wedding (without DIYing Everything)

Friday, February 17, 2017

So...I happen to be in the midst of wedding planning right now. (I guess that’s the first time I’ve mentioned that on the blog??) And I have to say, the expenses add up fast! Nate and I are getting married in Boston, which is a pretty expensive area wedding-wise. Plus, it’s a destination wedding for everyone, including us. So the DIY options are slim, and Nate and I (okay, mostly I) have had to jump through some hoops to keep costs down while still ending up with an elegant Boston wedding. So while I definitely can’t say that I’m a wedding planning expert, I can say that I’ve put a lot of thought and research into how you can cut costs when hiring local vendors for your wedding.

Free Printable: Redbox Movie Christmas Gift Tags

Friday, December 9, 2016

Today I have an easy DIY gift idea that literally everyone on your Christmas gifting list will love! It's an especially great idea for neighbors. My roommate back in Utah decided to do this for her neighbors, and she enlisted my help for the design portion. I present...Redbox movie code gift tags!

I made this on Canva, by the way, so don't think I'm that amazing of a designer or anything :)

Just have these printed on 4x6 photo paper at any photo printing center, like Walmart, Target, or Costco. I recommend choosing the matte option for your photos so that writing on them later is easier. Then purchase Redbox promo codes over here on Redbox's site. Then write each unique code on a gift tag, pair the tag with some popcorn and other fun treats, and gift it. Everyone on your list will get a fun movie night to enjoy with their family.

This post probably seems sponsored, but it's not haha. I just loved the idea and wanted to share it with you.

Hope you're having a lovely Christmas season so far!

Love, Maurine

How to Prepare for a TV Baking Segment

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I've done seven cooking segments on local TV now, and I've been asked a number of times how TV segments work. So I wanted to share some info with you!

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to land a baking segment on local TV as a food blogger. If you cook or bake and have a stellar recipe that you can share on camera, go ahead and try contacting a local TV station or two. Local daytime and morning shows are often looking for new talent, and they are constantly in need of new content for their shows. So really, the local TV stations that you reach out to could need you more than you need them.

Let’s say that you actually do hear back from a TV producer about doing a cooking or baking segment on their show. Then what? Here is a brief guide to preparing for your first TV cooking or baking segment.

Don’t freak out.

First things first: don’t freak out. Doing a cooking segment on TV sounds scarier than it actually is. As long as you plan carefully and come as prepared as you possibly can be, everything will be fine. Doing a TV segment, live or recorded, is generally less scary than giving a speech. Plus, your host will talk you through everything.

Be ready for quick turnaround.

A TV producer is much more likely to take you on as a first-time guest if they have last-minute spots that they need to fill. This could mean getting as little as two days’ notice to prepare for your segment. Be ready for quick turnaround by keeping a list of solid recipes and segment ideas ready just in case.

Communicate with the producer.

Once you and the producer have settled on a date, remain in close contact in order to nail down the details of the segment.

Decide on your recipe or topic.

You’ll first need to discuss the content of the segment. It helps to be forward here; in the same email where you say that you’d love to do the segment, go ahead and write out a list of ideas for content. Your producer will select one that they like best or make some suggestions for more unique content.

Send the recipe and a list of talking points.

After you decide on the recipe or topic for the segment, you’ll need to turn around very quickly and email the producer the full recipe with a list of talking points. In your talking points, give some general guidelines on how you see the segment going, and point out a couple things you’d like to share as “tips” during the segment.

Get the essential details.

As you are in communication with your producer, it’s also important to get the essential details on the segment to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Producers are generally very good about keeping you in the loop, but in case your producer isn’t, be sure to ask:

  • How long will my segment be?
  • Will it be live or recorded? (If it’s recorded, when will it air?)
  • What time should I arrive?
  • What time will I actually start?
  • What appliances and supplies do you have in your kitchen?

Prepare your props.

Food segments require a great deal of prep work. You’ll need:

  • Finished product of what you’ll be making (e.g., frosted cupcakes)
  • Partially finished product of what you’ll be making (e.g., unfrosting cupcakes + frosting in a piping bag)
  • Measured out ingredients of what you’ll be making (e.g., flour, butter, eggs, vanilla, etc.)
  • Food prep tools (e.g., hand mixer, rubber scraper, whisk, bowls, etc.)
  • Accent props (e.g., cake stand, platter, potholders, fresh fruit, etc.)

Plan to prepare your final product and partially finished product the day before your segment. (If you aren’t confident in doing it right the first time, plan to practice at least once before the day before.) And because you’ll be preparing the recipe during the actual segment, you’ll need to measure out your ingredients the night before as well. Bring any kitchen utensils you’ll need, even if you think the kitchen there might have them; you never know what might be missing. And don’t forget to include accent props like decorative platters and garnish because these things will really tie the look of your segment together.

Practice running through the segment.

Food segments are often ad-lib, meaning there isn’t really any practicing with the host beforehand. While you can’t really anticipate everything that your host will ask you, you can still prepare what you’ll say as you demonstrate steps in the recipe for your host. Video record yourself talking through the recipe so you can see what your bad habits are (saying “um,” touching your hair, etc.)

Dress the part.

Do your research to find out what TV hosts usually wear on the show, and try to dress accordingly. (When in doubt, it’s always safer to dress on the more formal side.) Keep in mind as you get dressed for your segment that they will need to “mic” you with a wireless microphone like this one. Usually the audio professionals can work around whatever you’re wearing, but it helps to have a beltline where they can attach the bodypack transmitter. As for makeup, it’s a good idea to apply a little more than you would on a daily basis, but don’t take this too far; today’s cameras are very good at picking up the makeup on people’s faces.

Come on time.

This goes without saying, but make sure you get to the TV station when the producer says you need to be there. Getting there late will only drive your nerves up.

Test everything before you start.

Nothing is worse than trying to operate a stand mixer or turn on a blender during a food segment, only to find that for some reason it won’t turn on. Make sure you know how everything operates beforehand, and test out everything that plugs in; you never know when a kitchen utensil might shut down on you or when an outlet needs resetting. (I know this from personal experience; luckily the producer and I reset the outlet right before the cameras went on!)

Have fun!

Again, as long as you do everything the producer says and come as prepared as possible, everything is going to be fine. Food segments can be nerve-wracking in those first few moments when they are starting, but chances are you’ll find your groove and forget that the camera is even there a minute or two in. Just be sure to smile, sound enthusiastic, and have fun with your host!

How to Act Like a Pro Photographer (Even When You’re Not One)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Even if you consider yourself a “novice” photographer like myself, chances are people have approached you about taking professional photos for them. I’m by no means a professional photographer, for example, but I’ve still been hired for weddings, engagement sessions, family portraits, professional portraits, and business events. And I’ll be honest—I still freak out every single time someone offers to pay me for my meager photography expertise. But I generally take on every photography project someone throws at me because 1) I value the experience, and 2) I can’t say no to extra money :)

Because of how scary it can be to be hired as a professional photographer when you don’t consider yourself one, I thought I’d come up with a list of things that have helped me maintain a professional persona during my shoots. (After all, even if aren’t a photographer for a living, aren’t you technically a photographer when someone hires you to be one?) Here are my tips for acting like a pro photographer—even when you don’t consider yourself one.

Gather your camera gear arsenal.

First things first, you have to come to any shoot prepared with all of the necessary camera gear. Here is a sample list of camera gear that I would deem essential for any shoot:

  • camera body
  • wide-range zoom lens
  • prime lens with a wide aperture
  • on-camera flash
  • light diffuser (for putting over your on-camera flash)
  • spare, charged camera battery
  • multiple memory cards
  • tripod
  • photography vest (for wearing most of your gear)
Shoot during the golden hour.

The hour just after sunrise or just before sunset is the best time to shoot outdoor photos. So if you can, try to schedule your shoots for this time. The soft, natural lighting will be stunning, and you’ll find that taking great photos is much easier during this time.

Memorize poses.

Do you often get asked to do engagement sessions or family portrait sessions? If so, it’s an absolute must to memorize some solid go-to poses that you can use with your clients. While many of these poses should definitely involve your subjects looking at the camera, I think many of them should also involve your subjects interacting with one another. I have a few secret Pinterest boards for different types of posing, called “Single Posing,” “Couple Posing,” and “Family Posing.” That way I always have posing ideas on hand. (Pins like this are pure gold for memorizing poses.)

Create a list of must-have shots.

On a similar note, you should also create a list of must-have shots for the types of shoots you’re usually hired for. If you often get asked to shoot engagement sessions, for example, your list of shots might include, in addition to your go-to poses:

  • close-up of the ring,
  • wide-angle shot that showcases surrounding scenery,
  • black and white shot,
  • shot that features props, and
  • silhouette of the couple.

Tip: If you often get asked to shoot weddings, you might want to read my list of must-have family poses in this post.

Create an inspiration album before each shoot.

Before every shoot I go on, I create an inspiration album on Pinterest. Usually I’ll seek input from the client and then supplement with photos as I find necessary. The album includes poses, details, and moments I want to capture. Then, and this is important, I save the photos directly to my phone in their own album before the shoot. I do this because I often don’t have service at my shooting locations, and having the album right on my phone means I don’t have to worry about not having access. Keep in mind that you should know your inspiration album fairly well beforehand so that you only have to use it as a quick reference during the shoot.

Have some go-to props.

You should definitely create a small arsenal of go-to props that you find come in handy during the types of shoots that you most often do. Bring them on your shoots to add to the inspiration. If you often do food photography, for example, your go-to props might be:

  • a marble slab (from a slab yard like this),
  • a roll of kraft paper,
  • a large chalkboard,
  • decorative measuring cups/spoons,
  • clean kitchen towels, and
  • a large white platter.

If you often do engagement sessions, meanwhile, your go-to props might be:

  • a falsa blanket,
  • old books,
  • bubble gum,
  • decorative straws,
  • flowers,
  • wooden letters, and
  • two candy canes (people love the “candy cane heart”).

Keep things moving.

Very few people enjoy sitting still and holding a smile for 15 seconds or more. That’s why it’s important to keep things moving with your subjects (without disorienting them, of course). Refer back to your go-to poses and utilize a mix of “looking at camera” poses and “not looking at camera” poses throughout. Let your subjects walk around for a few photos, sit down for a few photos, then run, jump, or dance. Pose your subjects when you need to, but then give them breaks in between when they can simply be themselves and you can take candid photos of them.

Understand what’s flattering in a photo.

Your client will have more trust in your expertise if you give them some direction on what will flatter them best in their photos. For example, tell them to wear what they feel comfortable in and that solid colors photograph especially well. In addition, direct them on how to position their body in a way that is most flattering (forehead forward, arm away from body, shoulder at an angle, etc.)

Tell your subjects how well they’re doing.

Subjects love it when you tell them how well they’re doing in a shoot. I like to glance at my camera screen every so often to catch how a photo turned out, and when one turns out especially well, I tell them. I think it’s especially important to do this because it really can help boost confidence in your subjects. And the more confident your subjects are, the better they’ll look in your photos.

Be assertive.

Act like you know what you’re doing (because believe it or not, you more or less do!) If shooting a wedding, direct your guests in posed shots with confidence, and don’t apologize for being in the way of other cameras. If shooting an engagement session, keep your rhythm up as you switch between poses. If doing portraits, go ahead and adjust that person’s hair if you need to.

Brand yourself.

Are you trying to move into the world of professional photography? If so, it’s a good idea to get your name out there by investing in some branded goods. You might, for example, give out USB flash drives like this one with your logo on them to your clients with their photos loaded onto them.