Friday FUN | Elf it up!

Merry Christmas and Enjoy!! Cast is: Jody Gray (center stage elf), Zach Gray (supporting elf), Noah Gray (brother elf), Jan Gray (step-mother elf), Keith Gray (papa elf) [iframe: src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/56103635?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0″ width=”900″ height=”506″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen] Spread some Christmas... Read More
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Bye-Bye-Bye (bye-bye!)

We have crossed to the dark side, people… No longer are we drinking from the wellspring of Caffeine. We have gone DECAF. *gasp* We know, we know…we have just rocked all of your worlds.  And yes, we LOVE coffee! However, as soon as we started cutting our caffeine from our drinking diet, we actually noticed quite a change in how we felt throughout the day. Over the past year and a half, we have gone through a big journey of dealing with the pressure, stress and anxiety that can come with running your own business. We help in reducing that stress in our lives, and it was suggested to us to switch to decaf.  We didn’t really  notice much of a difference UNTIL we would drink a cup of regular coffee. One morning Zach made me a cup of coffee and unbeknownst to me we had run out of decaf and it was a regular cup.  I was up at my desk working and I felt like my heart rate was up, and that I just had this weird high level of anxiousness and feeling unsettled.  I told Zach about it, and then he went on to tell me that my cup of coffee was not decaf.   It’s crazy the difference that it makes in how we feel about the day! So we now officially bid our dear friend, Caffeine, ado and say hello to Decaf!! We tell you that small story to really talk about something bigger. Switching our caffeine intake was one of many changes we made in 2012 to adjust our lifestyle and keep our stress levels... Read More
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CONNECT | A Marriage Retreat For Photographers

We are super excited to tell you that we, with the support and help of Katelyn James and her fabulous hubby, Michael, have created a marriage retreat for photographers!!!! If you are married and work with your spouse (or are considering it!), and want to getaway, learn from industry leaders and refresh, refocus, and RELAX then this is for you.  This is for any married couple regardless of how long you have been married or how long or short you have been working together. We introduce to you: Registration opens: TOMORROW, (Tuesday) 8:00am CST Seating is Limited | Early bird rate expires Sunday the 23rd   We will be the FIRST to admit that working with your spouse isn’t easy all of the time and neither is having a healthy marriage with that! There are so many extra dynamics of working with your spouse and it brings up so many questions on how to run a highly successful business while having a highly successful marriage and family life at the same time. As couples who work together, it is a necessity to have times to get away, refocus, and learn and grow from industry leading couples who have gone through the hard growing pains and have come out the other end a success.   We want to provide this opportunity for us all to learn from each other and walk away encouraged, inspired and renewed. This is what CONNECT is. We are honored to have the following married teams bring their insight and wisdom. Jeff & Julia Woods We have the utmost respect for this couple.   They have been... Read More
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Happy Birthday Zach!!!!!!!!!!!

Yup, my husband is one year older and one year wiser today!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY!!!!!!! To Zach… This past year has been one of amazing highs and some very low lows.  I am so lucky to have you by my side through it all supporting me and encouraging me to pick my head up and keep going.  I don’t know what or who I would be without you.  I am excited turn to the future together, hold hands in firm resolve, and take the steps to walk the path the Lord has laid before us this next year in your life. I love you so much and so glad that you’re by my side on this journey together. Happy Happy Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!! Love, Me, your wifey... Read More
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On Location Groomsmen Lighting

Happy Holidays!! It’s crazy to think Christmas is right around the corner!  As you’re settling in for the end of the year we want to bring to you a few tips on groomsmen lighting and break it down for you. Today we are going to look at two shots that we did at a recent wedding with the groom and groomsmen and how we shot them. These images were shot on-location at Belle Meade Plantation a few hours before the ceremony. The sun was still pretty high in the sky and we wanted to do more than just stick the guys in shade and take some bland shots, so we looked for a cool composition we liked and then brought out our powerlight to make the shot work. I set up the light and took two test meter readings as the guys were walking over. Once we got them set up as you see them in image one, we took the shot and this was the result. HOW WE DID IT: We metered the main light so that it was twice as bright as the light that was already there (the sunlight). The trick to nailing this type of lighting fast is by understanding how the meter works. The last thing we want to do is take test shots of the guys while they are there, then change settings and so on until we finally get it right. The other trick with shooting more than one person is that many times the person that is closest to the light will be blown out, and then those that are in... Read More
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What you all have been waiting for – A Married Couples Retreat

It has been on our hearts for a while to meet a need that we have seen in the photography community – the need for married couples who do this together to be encouraged, refreshed and gain extra guidance and wisdom on how to make working together WORK as well as balance the craziness of life, being married, and for some of us, kids. We have teamed up with two other couples who share the same vision – Karen & Isaac Stott, Michael & Katelyn James  – to meet this need and we will be bringing in some amazing industry leaders we can all learn from and grow together in our marriages. We introduce to you: More information will be released this week.  Make sure to sign up for the Married Couples Newsletter as we communicate more information.... Read More
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Our 7 year Anniversary!

Today is our SEVEN year anniversary. Holy cow, where does the time go? It seemed like just yesterday we were dating and then getting married… (Fall of 2004) Being married has been really fun, but man, it has been so stinkin’ hard too. Sometimes I wish marriage could just be easy.  I ‘d be the perfect wife and Zach would be the perfect husband.  I’d have endless amounts of patience and I’d never say one cross word.  It could be a perfect marriage, just like we sometimes see in the movies.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Ah, but unfortunately, it’s not like that.  We have to put up with bad attitudes, things that irritate us from our spouse and yes, morning breath ;o)  But through it all, as we charge ahead and are reminded of the vows we made 7 years ago, we’re in this for the long haul. Before we were married we were in this nearlywed/newlywed Sunday school class and someone shared how being married was like taking two rocks with rough edges, putting them in a bag and shaking the bag up… eventually two round and soft-edged stones come out.  Not a fun process, but a good one, right?  As times goes on and as we die to ourselves and serve and love our spouse unconditionally we become better people.  And that my friend, is what it’s all about. Here’s to seven years with my partner, the rock in my life who chips away at the ugly and through it all still loves me. Here’s to seven years of adventures together around the world -there’s no one... Read More
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Thankful…

Why do we give thanks?  What’s the point? I personally think it helps give us perspective… Zach and I have gone through some hard times this year.   I know that we all can relate in some sort of way.  Life isn’t easy and can sometimes be very cruel and even knock us to our knees at times.  I had a friend share the below verses with me from Psalm 77.  For those of you in a dark place, you can relate to verses 1-9.  But then I want to encourage you to read the latter part… 1 I cried out to God for help;     I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;     at night I stretched out untiring hands,     and I would not be comforted. 3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;     I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b] 4 You kept my eyes from closing;     I was too troubled to speak. 5 I thought about the former days,     the years of long ago; 6 I remembered my songs in the night.     My heart meditated and my spirit asked: 7 “Will the Lord reject forever?     Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?     Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?     Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:     the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;     yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works     and meditate on all your... Read More
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1 Simple Trick for Moody Backgrounds | Featured on Adorama

Not only Adorama is our favorite camera store to shop at, but did you know that they have a HUGE photographer’s resource called AdoramaTV? AdoramaTV has tons of videos from amazing photographers teaching and sharing their knowledge. We have the privileged of being on Adorama TV and our episode aired today! Click either image to watch the video! In our AdoramaTV episode we explain our off-camera lighting gear and one of our techniques in creating awesome off-camera lit photographs! This video is found on our HARVEST DVD and can only be viewed in the bonus section of HARVEST or right here, on AdoramaTV. It’s a little fun bonus for all of you out there! Enjoy!... Read More
GIVEAWAY

Win a $250 Gift Card to Adorama!

Could you use an extra $250 to spend at our favorite camera store, Adorama (which is WAY more than JUST a camera store)!  Is there some gear you have been dying to have? Weeeeeell, you have come to the right place!  We are giving away a $250 gift certificate to Adorama this week!     Here’s how you can enter to win: 1. Follow us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/ZachandJody) 2. Follow Adorama on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/Adorama) 3. Sign up for our photographer newsletter for free monthly exclusive photo tips & tricks (http://tinyurl.com/yhudaqt). (If you are already subscribed o our newsletter, no need to do it again :). 4. Tweet the following message: Text for you to copy and paste: Win a $250 gift certificate to @ZachandJody’s favorite camera store, @Adorama! More info: http://tinyurl.com/ayw7amr And that is it!!  The winner will be announced Monday morning the 19th!! Further Details: The winner will be randomly selected from all of those who have completed the above four steps. Value: $250 Prize Redemption: Winner will be announced on our blog, Monday November 19th, and it will be the responsibility of the winners to contact Zach & Jody photography (info@zachandjody.com) within 24 hours with mailing address & contact information or new winner will be chosen. Restrictions: Prize cannot be redeemed for cash. Happy winning!! PS. Do you want to know what our favorite gear to purchase at Adorama is? Download our ENTIRE gear list for free HERE !... Read More
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The Perfect Ring Shot | Guest Post by Photographer Katelyn James

We are super delighted to bring to you a Tuesday Tips & Tricks post from a fellow photographer and friend Katelyn James! We met Katelyn a few years ago when she was new to the industry and now, four years later, her business is rocking and has been super blessed. Let us brag on her for a moment – she’s not only one of the nicest people you’ll meet, but this lady has killer branding that you need to check out and her work has been featured everywhere! From Professional Photographer Magazine to The Knot, Southern Living Weddings, Virginia Bride, to big, high profile blogs from Grey Likes Weddings to Style Me Pretty to Green Wedding Shoes, Wedding Chicks – the list goes on and on! Without any further ado, we bring you Katelyn! Well HELLO to all the wonderful Zach and Jody fans out there!!! It’s such a huge honor to be over here on their amazing blog today!! I’m Katelyn James and I’m a wedding photographer based out of Richmond, VA. I share life with my sweet husband Michael and our little Bichpoo puppy, Bokeh! …. Yes, I named my dog “Bokeh”… NERD ALERT! So when Zach and Jody asked me to do a little guest post sharing some tips and tricks, I was so excited… until I realized I had to decide WHAT the post was going to be on! This was QUITE the decision! Thinking back to my first year or two in business, I had numerous problem areas (don’t we all?!) but one area that always drove me crazy were the RING SHOTS! I... Read More
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Reserve Your Seat for WPPI 2013!!

Mark your calendars and book your seat for WPPI 2013!! Registration opens today! Make sure you register and you can pre-board up to five platform classes to secure a seat in the classes you want to attend the most. *The pre-board for our class last year was the first to fill up, so make sure to reserve your seat pronto* Zach & Jody’s Platform Class: Sunday, March 10th at 3:00pm Topic: How To Avoid What Most Small Businesses Do – Fail Register now View the full speaker schedule Other platforms not to miss: Dane Sanders | Going to Market: Maximizing Portrait and Wedding Profits (Sunday, 9:00am) Jared Bauman | Pricing & Packages Made Simple (Sunday 12:00pm) Lawrence Chan | Content Marketing & Social Media: The Secrets to More Bookings and Online Engagements (Monday 4pm) Blair Phillips | Absolute Refusal to Blend In: Senior Photography that Rocks (Tuesday 4pm) Jared Platt | Profitable Post-Production Using Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6 (Tuesday 4pm) Sal Cincotta | Weddings: Making Real Money Doing What You Love – Tips, Tricks, and Business Advice for Everyone (Tuesday 6:30pm) Justin & Mary Marantz | The Bottom Line (Wednesday 8:30am) Sue Bryce | Contemporary Portrait Posing (Wednesday 8:30am) WPPI is a jam-packed few days of meeting photographers, learning good stuff and walking the tradeshow. It’s exhausting, but absolutely fun :) We hope to see you all... Read More
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Pursuit 31 Women’s Conference Recap…

This blog has been three weeks in coming. I (Jody) was honored to have been a part of the Pursuit 31 Christian Women’s photographer’s conference a few weeks back and my life was changed. It’s so hard to describe everything that happened, and I think you had to be there in order to fully understand and grasp the God-filled life-changing times that were had. All I know is that if you are a believer and a woman (sorry men :), and you need to get away, rest, and relax, learn and be refreshed, mark your calendars for next year. The dates are October 8-11, 2013. Pre-registration will open for alumni November 15, and for newsletter subscribers on November 19th! Make sure to sign up for the Pursuit 31 newsletter and feel free to join the growing online Pursuit Facebook community! The retreat was held at Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, Georgia and was an amazing, beautiful, and PEACEful place. Each speaker had a main session where they shared on faith and also had smaller breakouts. There was free time, massages, bike rides, amazing food, bonfires, photo shoots, fellowship – it was amazing. :) Enjoy the images!   Heaven on earth? Maybe :) Part of the welcoming committee!!! Karen, myself and Desirea! We had worship every evening lead by Gabrielle. The amazing Karen Stott who is Pursuit 31’s fearless leaders Karen’s second in command, the sweet servant Suzy VanDyke. Desirea Rodgers kicked off our first morning sharing her heart on the non-profit she started called Love 146, which raises awareness and resources to combat child sex trafficking. So amazing to... Read More
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WHY Should I Vote?

Today, we all get to do something that millions of people worldwide don’t have the luxury of doing – VOTE! If you’re still on the fence about voting, read this short blog by author & marketing guru, Seth Godin… love this. Great perspective! Why Vote? The Marketing Dynamics of Apathy by Seth Godin. Even if you think there is no point in voting and your state is probably going to go one way or another, still VOTE! Every vote truly counts. Let your voice be heard. It is truly such an honor to be a citizen and live in America. Yes, things aren’t perfect (they never will be) and boy, we sure can complain about some things, but even with the negatives, we still are so lucky and so blessed to live in this country. Vote, vote, vote!!... Read More
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Friday Finds | Memory Vault

When you are looking to create value in a product that you are selling to your clients, one way help do that is by differentiating your product line. We all know that having all of the images from your wedding, engagement or senior shoot is important to have, but because most of us deliver that on a DVD, clients tend to devalue that in part because they know how much a DVD costs to produce (nothing). So we dress up those little terds by putting them in nice leather DVD cases and printing our studio name on the cover. But the client sometimes still has a hard time swallowing the price point. We know that the value is in our art and not the actual DVD, but since our clients are not artists, they can have a hard time understanding that. The reality is, the client is always right and if they think your disk of images is worth $10, then it is since that is what they are willing to pay! So, one way to get your client back tracking with you is to differentiate by simply packaging your product in a different way, then selling them on a BENEFIT of this new “product” that you are offering. Introducing the Memory Vault by Sandisk. The Memory Vault is simply a small USB 2 hard drive that you can put all the clients final images on. It could sound similar to a DVD, just more expensive. So what is the benefit to your client? The benefit is that it preserves memories for 100 years. Pretty sweet benefit! :) The... Read More
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Nashville IN-CAMERA Light Recap | October 2012

The final Nashville IN-CAMERA: Light workshop is over and we are glad about how awesome the day was, but sad that it is over! :( We had an amazing time with our attendees and can’t wait to reveal what we are going to do next! Stay tuned! For now, check out the images and some behind the scenes from the day! We started off shooting in the worst lighting conditions there are. Direct sun in the face! We overpowered it with the flash and got the below image. In this before and after you can see the flash shot to the left, and the natural light to the right and what a difference it makes having great, soft lighting. Check our advanced off-camera lighting section of the learn page to see how we created this shot!  Here is the crew! Thanks guys for coming out and rockin some off-camera lighting with us! If your interested in attending one of the last few in-camera workshops that we are ever going to hold and learn how to shoot like this (Kansas City & Orlando are remaining), we still have a FEW seats available! Use the code “YAYimGOING” to get $150 off any seat! Put your code in HERE!... Read More
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Going After Your Dreams | Business Book Review

We want to highlight one of the latest business books that we recently finished (thanks to the #15minutechallenge – join us in this!) and how you can take that and apply it to your photography brand right now.  Today we want to feature  The Go-Getter by Peter B. Kyne.   Excerpt from the back cover: ‘Do you want to be the one who lands the job? Who gets the promotion? Whose dream becomes a reality? STOP WANTING. START WINNING Dave Ramsey says, “No Matter how many times they fall or fail, go-getters get back up and keep moving towards their goals” No wonder Dave gives this book to every person on his team!’ This book was a quick read and quite a few different lessons are in this story. The one I want to highlight today is NEVER GIVE UP! One of the characters in this short story is given a task and he runs into every possible obstacle possible. What’s amazing about what he does is he doesn’t stop. He doesn’t abandon his task. Because of that he WINS! His dreams and goals are accomplished! How many times do you feel like giving up? How many times has someone told you that your dreams are impossible? How many times have you gotten the door shut in your face? How many times has someone told you, “Your prices are too high. You’re not worth it.”? How many times __________________ (you fill in the blank)… There are stories after stories of musicians, restaurateurs, businessmen & women, politians that faced all obstacles and never gave up. “Being a go-getting means, at... Read More
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Nashville IN-CAMERA: Shooting & Post Recap | October 2012

We just finished up Nashville’s final IN-CAMERA workshops here at our home and we had an absolute blast with our attendees! Many pics were taken, lots of laughs were had and some great friends were made. We have loved doing this particular series of workshops and always enjoy opening our home to photographers. So now that this series of workshops is coming to an end, you may be asking, “what’s next?” We have a few things up our sleeves that are sure to be way different and really exciting! Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the first day of our workshop Shooting and Post! We started off like we always do doing a Keynote teaching the how’s of what we do, then heading out for 3.5 hours to get the hands-on shooting time that really solidifies what we talked about. We both learn by doing, so we know how critical it is to shoot and sit with someone guiding you through as you encounter problems and work through different scenarios. That is the real benefit of a hands-on workshop that you don’t get by watching a You-Tube video or reading a book shooting. When I (Zach) first started out, I read loads of books and watched tons of videos online about shooting and lighting, but it wasn’t until I met Evan Baines and we shot together, shared and critiqued each others work, that I really started to become a good photographer. Those times of working one on one with Evan were invaluable to my career and that is a big reason why we do small, more personalized workshops... Read More
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The #15MinuteChallenge that could change your life

Zach and I have started something new, and we want to encourage you all to partake in the challenge with us! We all know it’s important to be growing and learning (the average millionaire reads one business book a month!), but it’s easy to let time get away from us. Zach and I are challenging ourselves with the “15 minutes challenge!” Every morning after breakfast and after spending time in the Word (the best business book out there), we are committed to spending 15 minutes reading a business book. By having a specified and defined goal (15 minutes every week day), we all will be taking baby steps to get some more awesome business knowledge in us so we can continue to grow our minds so we stay at the cutting edge of whats happening in the biz world. It’s amazing the new ideas that spark and fire us up as we dedicate a few minutes each day to learning and then discussing afterwords! Who wants to join us in this? Not sure where to start? Check out some of our top reads on Amazon and why we recommend them! **As you are reading great awesomeness each morning, Instagram/Twitter something that struck you with the hashtag #15MinuteChallenge so we can all be learning from each other! Now get to... Read More
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Cows Never Win

80% of what we do day in and day out to become successful is business – and with 20% of our time we get to create art (shooting, editing etc). So this week, and a few time a month our business posts are dedicated to this all important area of our photog biz!   Today’s tip is entitled, “Don’t be a cow.” Cows love the status quo, they love chewing their cud and keeping their heads down. They have no idea when they walk into the slaughter house what’s about to happen to them. That is the opposite of what you need to do to be a success in anything in life, including your photography business. The alternative is to become a Rhino. Scott Alexander, in his book Rhinoceros Success, calls Rhino’s “large, focused, 6,000 pound charging machines that stop at nothing to get what they want!” They don’t stand for the status quo, they live in the wild and live free unlike their cow counterparts. So why do Rhino’s succeed and cows just get by? Because they are driven.   The Challenge So our challenge today is, where is your drive? What is your focus? Where are you going? Do you even know? If you don’t feel driven, don’t have direction and don’t know where you are going, here are three areas you can work on that could change that for you starting right now!   We become the product of three things: the people we associate with, the books we read, and the media we listen to. (Tweet this out HERE!)    Want to become a Rhino (someone... Read More
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Happy 1 Year Anniversary Sunny and Neeva!

It was one year ago today that we were outside of the DC area shooting the wedding of Sunny & Neeva! Congratulations, you two, on your one year anniversary!! It was a joy to b able to capture the memories of your special day. What a fun and memorable wedding to shoot! Cheers to many more years! Click here to see Sunny and Neva’s wedding day blog! Sunny & Neeva are wedding photographers! Click Here to visit their site and to leave some anniversary love on their... Read More