2019 Photo Recap

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It’s been a totally crazy year! I’ve photographed more than ever in my entire life, and gotten to work on some super cool projects. So I thought it would be fun to collect all the stats and make a recap of all the photography I’ve done. Check it out below!

I also made a fun video from that information, including hundreds of photos from various shoots I’ve done this year. It’s so crazy to me that none of those photos existed one year ago. I love that I get to be creative and make so many fun images. I hope I beat my record next year!

Why does it cost so much for a professional photoshoot?

photography tips

Hey there! My name’s Gaby and I’m a professional photographer based out of New York City. I get this question a lot, so I thought I’d make a blog post about it. Oftentimes I’ll send a potential client my rates, and they’ll go, “Oh…” and then there will be this awkward silence until they say, “Well, it’s just an hour shoot, so can you do it for $150 instead?”

Face. Palm. There’s soooo much more that goes into a photoshoot than just the hour of the shoot. There’s the time the photographer has involved, and then the expenses to run the business. Let’s break it down:

Photographer’s Time for a 1-Hour Shoot

  • Prepping all the camera gear, charging batteries, sending lenses in to be repaired – 1 hour
  • Travel time to and from the shoot – 1 hour
  • The shoot itself – 1 hour
  • Culling and sorting through all of the images post-shoot – 30 minutes
  • Editing and retouching the selects – 1 hour
  • Uploading and sending to the client for final approval – 30 minutes
  • Archiving and long-term storage of the images – 1 hour

That’s already 6 hours of the photographer’s time invested for a 1-hour shoot! And we haven’t even talked about the fixed costs for running the photography business or the creative fee.

Annual Photography Expenses

  • 2 Canon 5D Camera Bodies – $6,000
  • Lenses – $10,000
  • Annual website and domain name – $200 yearly
  • Memory cards and batteries – $400
  • Seamless backdrop – $200
  • Lighting equipment – $650
  • Laptop – $2,500
  • Adobe subscription – $400 yearly
  • External Hard Drives – $500 yearly
  • Google Drive Cloud Storage – $100 yearly
  • Business cards – $50
  • Photography memberships – $100 yearly
  • Subway Card – $1560 yearly
  • Graphic Designer – $400
  • Advertising on The Knot – $2,000
  • Business Thank You Cards – $100
  • Logo stickers – $70

That totals to almost $30,000 in flat costs to run the business, and doesn’t include ANY of my time. Not to mention the cost of my college and master’s degrees, or any of my day to day living expenses, like rent or food. I love being a photographer because I get to use my creativity and artistry to capture moments for folks, but I can’t do my job if I can’t afford to live.

The Creative Fee

What’s a creative fee, you ask? It’s the special services or talents that I bring to the project. So, for example, if you hire me to shoot a wedding, you’re choosing me because I have ten years of experience in wedding photography, and I bring a certain style and skill to the project that other people do not have.

According to the American Society of Media Photographers, here are a few things photographers consider when calculating their creative fee:

  • Tight deadline
  • Specific style
  • Creative solutions needed (looking for conceptual input)
  • Expectations of high end service (catering lunch rather than McDonald’s)
  • Logistical difficulties (a factory that cannot stop production or a mountain to climb)
  • Experience
  • Extreme limits on subject availability (like 2 minutes with the CEO for a portrait)
  • Technical expertise
  • Geographic location
  • Reputation

And then, since I’m a freelancer, I have to take out a percentage of the income I make for taxes. Guess how much that is in New York City? It’s between 6-7% for my tax bracket. Sometimes it sounds like I’m making buckets of money in just one day, but when you factor in my expenses and setting money aside for taxes, it’s not as lucrative as you might think.

Calculating My Rates

So, with all that in mind, here’s how I calculate my rates. I add my expenses plus the amount of money I need to live and divide it by the number of workable days I have in a year (or how many sessions I want to shoot). And funnily enough, guess what happens when I calculate how much I’m being paid for the time I have invested and my annual expenses? I’m not exactly rolling in the dough.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do with my whole heart, but I work hard to be a freelance photographer. I hustle every day to get enough shoots to make enough money so I can keep doing this as my career, and I understand how it can seem like I’m making a lot of money in a little amount of time, but it really does even out.

Here’s my point: I have a lot of time and money invested in my gear and my craft, so that’s where I come up with my rates. I believe that with photography, you get what you pay for, and with me, you’re paying for a quality experience with the highest quality images. So the next time you are talking to someone in a creative field and you think, “Wow, they’re getting paid hundreds of dollars for one hour,” think again.

There’s a lot more that goes into it than an hour of work, and there’s a lot of time, experience, and equipment costs invested. I hope this educated you and gave you some things to think about in regards to creatives and photography rates.

I JUST LAUNCHED MY PRINT STORE!

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I am ear to ear smiles today, because today is the day I have finally launched my online Etsy shop of some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Here’s a GIF showing you just how excited I am:

Unsurprisingly, the shop is full of PINK and SPARKLES. I would have it no other way! I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite prints up on the shop right now (which by the way I should mention is just in time for your holiday shopping!)

This is my favorite print up right now! I shot it from the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center of the Empire State Building. And, you know, made it pink. Did you expect anything less from me?!

I’ll never forget this New Years Eve! I got $10 tickets to see the fireworks show in London against the backdrop of the London Eye and the river. It was an absolutely stunning way to start the new year. I actually have this print hanging up in my room right now!

This photo was taken during a studio shoot in London while I was studying at London College of Fashion. We glued candy to the model’s lips! It was such a fun day of shooting and the print turned out so cool and unique.

This actually comes as a set of two prints that go together. Because what could be better than donuts + pink + icing + lipstick + blush?! They make a really cute matching wall hanging set. There’s a ton of other fun shots from a bunch of different cities, including Paris, Sedona, New York, and the Bahamas. Have a look and see if there are any you like!

Check out the full line of prints right here!

XOXO Gaby

Natalie & Andrew’s Modern Brooklyn Wedding

wedding photography

I was asked to shoot a wedding at The Green Building in Brooklyn, NY this fall and it was the most charming thing I’ve ever seen. There were fairy lights strung around the entire place and an outdoor patio with a bar for the cocktail hour. The ceremony space had exposed brick and the couple, Natalie and Andrew, were absolutely lovely. They enjoyed their special day to the fullest, and they made photographing the wedding an absolute blast!

Check out the photos below for a full recap of their wedding (including a delicious cake from Milk Bar and some awesome reception dance shots!) and if you know someone who is getting married soon, hit me up and let’s talk about how we can capture your incredible day together! 🙂

If you liked these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

Anden Concert at Governor’s Island

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I got connected to the electronic music duo named Anden from a friend of a friend, and when I saw they were performing at the historic Governor’s Island in NYC, I knew it would be a really fun show to photograph. They have been hosting these awesome dance party events in various places around NYC for the past six years.

The first DJ, Wassu, started the party off around 1pm. Can we just talk for a minute about how cute this is?! He wanted to bring his daughter to show her what he does. We were losing it–too cute!

There was lots of great music all day long and the crowd was really getting into it. They partnered with Threes Brewing and had the event on the Liggett Terrace beer garden on Governor’s Island, which was just a 10-minute ferry ride from Manhattan. The weather was perfect for an all-day dance party.

The second artist that went on was the duo named Local Dialect. Dezza mixed after them, and of course Anden closed out the show in the evening to a crowd of a couple hundred. If you’re into EDM or trance music, they are definitely worth checking out.

If you liked these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

7 Magic Mountains

Inspiration

If you haven’t heard of 7 Magic Mountains, it’s a colorful art installation by artist Ugo Rondinone about 10 miles outside of Vegas. It’s a line of seven huge boulders stacked on top of each other, all painted different vibrant colors. The art piece is literally in the middle of the desert, on an off road straight from the highway.

When we were about 30 minutes outside of Vegas, my boyfriend surprised me by driving us to 7 Magic Mountains. He hates pictures, but knows that this kind of thing is exactly what I love to explore. Luckily, there were only a few other people there, so we wandered and took lots of photos as the sun was setting, which was the perfect lighting!

I had seen pictures of it before on Instagram but I didn’t know if it would live up to the hype. It was actually SO COOL and I couldn’t believe how massive and precariously stacked the rocks are. They are ginormous and incredibly vibrant in color. Walking around them just makes you happy and excited.

For editing these pictures, I increased the saturation so the shots would appear even more colorful, and darkened the black point for more contrast. Since the rocks themselves were so vibrant, I didn’t have to edit the photos a whole lot. There were a couple people in the background of a few of the shots, so I Photoshopped them out 😛

If you’re heading to Vegas, I’d definitely recommend stopping here for some photos. It’s just a few mile detour off the highway and it’s such a fun pit stop before arriving in Vegas! It does get busier in the middle of the day, but morning or evening are both perfect times when it’s less busy.

If you liked these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

7 Best Ice Cream Shops in NYC

Inspiration

I’ve lived in NYC for a few years now, and I’ve made my rounds on all the best ice cream shops in the city. So I thought it was time to round up my list of my favorite ice cream places and share them with you guys! Here you go: my professional opinion on the very best scoops in New York City.

Oddfellows

Oddfellows is a cute shop downtown with a handful of flavors–all extremely unique and interesting. I stopped by last weekend to see what they’ve been mixing up lately. John helped me out and scooped up a bunch of different flavors for me to try–including corn bread and mushroom flavors (too adventurous for me). I ended up picking Matcha Rocky Road, which had bits of chocolate and marshmallow in the green ice cream. It was incredible and I highly recommend this spot if you’re ready to risk trying a really unique flavor!

Soft Swerve

This fun little ice cream shop on the Lower East Side is known for its bright colors and candies. They put Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charm marshmellows and sprinkles on their pink, purple, and green hued ice cream. I was very excited to try this vibrant dessert, and the flavors did not disappoint. The soft serve makes it incredibly creamy, and with flavors like coconut, sesame butter, and Hong Kong milk tea, there’s always something new to try. It’s definitely worth going to, as long as you’re willing to wait in line to snag one of their iconic ice cream cones.

UES.

The fun of this ice cream shop is the secret of it: there’s a hidden speakeasy behind the pint-filled walls of the shop. They make ice cream flavored drinks and desserts, but don’t let the bar distract you from the fact that they make darn good ice cream, too. The shop is tiny but the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a great background for an Instagram photo with your ice cream. I chose salted caramel in a pretzel cone with sprinkles, and it was the biggest sugar rush I’ve probably ever had. The flavors are rich, but the ice cream is delicious. If you’re looking for a top secret, ultra cool environment for a boozy shake or ice cream, UES is the place to be.

Van Leeuwen

Van Leeuwen started out as an ice cream truck in 2008 and has now expanded to over a dozen brick and mortar shops in NYC and LA. The artisan ice cream is the perfect spot for my vegan, nut-free and gluten free friends, with flavors like Rocky Road, Cookie Crumble Strawberry Jam, Cookies & Cream Caramel Swirl, and their most popular, Honeycomb. I took my friend Elysha and we each tried a different flavor, with a waffle cone of course. I liked the Cookies & Cream and Peanut Butter Marshmallow Crunch, but you really can’t go wrong with any flavor!

Milk Bar

Christina Tosi is basically a household name in New York City, but if you haven’t heard of her yet, she created Milk Bar, which is the fun-loving dessert cousin of Momofuku Noodle Bar. She took favorite desserts she had as a child and gave them a twist, and her ice cream is no exception. The soft serve at Milk Bar has one flavor–cereal milk. She soaks the milk in cereal to get that iconic after-breakfast cereal taste in her ice cream, and tops with corn flakes or sprinkles. This is a very unique flavor, but worth checking out, along with her other array of delicious desserts like Birthday Cake Truffles, cookies and pies.

Morgenstern’s

Morgenstern’s is a dream of an ice cream parlor on the Lower East Side. They also have about 88 flavors, and even more toppings and add-ins, so the options are nearly endless. I went with traditional American Classics, Butter Pecan and Cookies and Cream, which had amazing carmelized pecans and a perfect topping to texture ratio. They also have Parlor Classics like Burnt Sage, Green Tea Pistachio, and Salt & Pepper Pine Nut, and seven varieties of Vanilla seven of chocolate, and five different caramels! It’s insane how many flavor profiles they have. Go in and sample a few first before you decide which ice cream to choose!

Bonus: Ice Cream Trucks

There are dozens of gourmet ice cream shops in NYC, and they’re all amazing in their own way. But I thought I’d mention one that place that’s often overlooked: the ice cream trucks around the city! Central Park is one of my favorite spots to get ice cream in the city, and the ice cream truck that sits on the corner does the job perfectly. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s really tasty and a perfect on-the-go ice cream to satisfy your sweet tooth. So the next time you see an ice cream truck in NYC, give it a try (and get sprinkles on top–because duh!).

If you liked these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and ice cream locations 🙂

Victoria’s Boston Photoshoot

Inspiration, photography tips

I hadn’t seen my friend Victoria since we studied in London together a few years ago, so when I traveled to Boston this weekend to shoot a wedding, I knew we had to get together and do a shoot in Boston! We did a super fun photoshoot in London at Regents Park, so round 2 was in order!

We started at the gorgeous bridge in Boston Common and wandered from there. I was obsessed with the willow trees around the park, so I’m glad I captured them in the background of the shot. This is the lake where they do the iconic swan boating in Boston! The lighting was a little overcast, but it made for really nice even lighting for her portraits, so I shot everything natural light.

Then we stumbled onto the new carousel, and I thought it would be a great spot for some colorful shots. I tried a technique at the carousel that ended up looking really cool. I slowed down the shutter speed (also called dragging) so as it moved around, it created the blurry effect on the background. I had Victoria stand really still while I dragged the shutter so she would still be really sharp in focus. I also had a little fun with the editing, using Color Selection to make the shadows blue (one of my favorite techniques–I think it adds a really editorial effect).

Then she got out her fun rainbow umbrella and we did some colorful shots around the garden. I love any excuse to add lots of vibrant color, and I think the close up portrait of Victoria looks great with the rainbow in the background.

We ended by these old cobblestone streets and tried some movement and walking shots. I edited the first one by adding a pink gradient over the image and fading it. Something simple like a gradient can totally change the vibe of the image and make it look really unique! I hope this shoot illustrates that you don’t have to shoot for a long time or with a lot of different outfits to create images that are vibrant and different from each other. Here’s one more example of a gradient I used over a black and white shot:

Send me your street style shoots in different cities, I would love to see them! If you like these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

Top 10 Photography Questions I Get Asked

photography tips

What kind of camera should I buy? I can’t tell you what to buy, but I can tell you what I use. I’ve used Nikon and Canon gear and I prefer Canon. I love the image quality, the crispness of the images, the colors, the low light compensation. I shoot with a 5D Mark iii and Mark iv, but I honestly think any DSLR body can get you started. It’s a lot more about the experience level of the person holding the camera than the camera itself. That being said, lenses can help a lot, too. I love the 50mm and the 24-70. Start playing around and see what you like!

Why is hiring a photographer so expensive? I’m glad you asked! It’s expensive because we’re a business and we incur other costs besides just paying for the camera. Here are just a few annual costs photographers have: the Adobe Suite, computer updates, external hard drives, cloud storage, memory cards, seamless backdrops, lighting equipment, props, insurance, lenses, flashes, website yearly hosting and domain costs, accounting services, legal fees for photography contracts, workshops and classes. Not to mention the time and expertise you are paying for when you hire a photographer. A lot more goes into it than people think.

What’s the difference between an iPhone and a DSLR? Don’t get me wrong, you can take awesome pictures on your iPhone. But not quality ones. I use my phone every day to capture the city and document the world around me. But to really get quality images, I use my DSLR. There are so many more pixels and the file is so much bigger on a professional camera, so you can do more with the image. Higher quality and more options for lenses and depth of field creates more room to explore and experiment. But at the same time, start exploring with photography on your phone if you don’t want to buy a camera just yet. It’s supposed to be fun and creative!

How can I get the blurry background on my photos? That’s called Bokeh. You can learn all about it and how to get it on my article right here.

Do I need to learn manual mode on my camera? Yes! I think that Manual mode is key to understanding your camera and photography. You have a lot more room for creative expression if you are aware of the technical side of photography and can adjust it on-the-go. I learned by playing around with my camera, but a good place to start is with YouTube tutorials (or Linda.com if you have a library card!). When you know how to change the lighting, white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed on your own, you can be really sure you’re creating the types of images that you want. In my experience, learning more about my camera has only helped make my images more fun and creative!

Is editing photos important? I think it’s the crucial second step after shooting the image itself. To me, capturing the shot is a special art that takes practice and intuition, but editing that photo to your final vision is like sculpting the final details of an art piece. I use it to remove unnecessary elements from the shot, be it distracting spots in the background, wrinkles on a shirt, or cropping out space that doesn’t add to the focal point of the shot. Then I fix the white balance and adjust the color, usually making the shot more vibrant and punchy. The last thing I do is smooth out skin, whiten teeth, remove stray hair, and any other soft adjustments to enhance the subject. That might sound pretty simple, but it’s taken me years and years to perfect my editing style and find a balance of enhancing without overdoing.

How do you get paid to do photography? It’s a long process that won’t happen overnight. First you need to build a portfolio in the area that you want to produce work in. That might mean doing free or trade shoots with other vendors. For example, when I first moved to NYC, I produced styled shoots for wedding photography to build my portfolio. I got makeup artists, florists, and dress designers to lend me their products or skills in exchange for the photos to add to their portfolio as well. Other times I did free shoots for people to build my portfolio and gain experience. Once you feel you’re at a point where you have the knowledge and skillset to charge people, start doing it! Talk to other photographers and learn their pricing structure so you have something to base your rates off of. Increase as you become more skilled. It might take a few years, but your client base will grow as you do!

Is being a photographer hard? Yes and no. But mostly yes. It’s a career that you have to be really passionate about, and it will take a lot of work to be successful. I put in work almost every evening and weekend because I want my photography business to succeed. I reach out to potential clients and collaborators every week because I want to progress my brand. I shoot day in and day out and edit every free chance I get because I want to get better. So I guess no, on the surface being a photographer isn’t hard. But wanting to be a great photographer is. You have to put in the work to see results.

What do you use to edit photos and do you make your own presets? I do a base cull and edit in Lightroom and then I do all my final retouching in Photoshop. I generally make my own presets, but I also have some from photographers I like that I play around with on occasion. Presets are really nice when you have a lot of photos to edit at once–like a wedding for instance, but I like to mix things up for beauty and styled shoots. I find that I usually have a bit of a vision when I bring the raw photos into Lightroom, and I explore from there. Once I find a color and balance that I like, I’ll apply the preset to the batch and then go in and do adjustments per image.

How do you get the perfect shot? There’s really no perfect shot, just the right movements at the right time. I think being patient helps. For example, when I shoot concerts, I usually have an idea of the type of shot I’m looking for, and then I just wait ready to shoot when the artists is moving around stage. Framing is key for good shots, as well as being able to change the exposure in camera quickly. Being skilled at Manual mode really helps with this. Also, practice helps. As many times as I’ve gotten a really cool shot, I’ve also missed the shot because it was out of focus or overexposed (this happens with concerts a lot) or I just framed it wrong. The good news is that the more photos you take, the bigger chance you have of getting “the shot.”