Almost-Spring Cleaning

Tamia - photo by Tiernae Salley

You know how it doesn’t feel like you’ve really cleaned until you’ve moved some furniture around?

While Spring is technically weeks away, the recent warm spell has me in a clean-up-and-clear-out mood that extends to my online home as well. This weekend, I’ll be putting proverbial paper over my digital windows and rebuilding to better reflect my updated brand. There will still be a blog, but I’m putting more focus on what I actually do–and I hope you’ll continue to follow along.

Switching WordPress themes only seems like a simple task in theory, but my goal is to be back up and running by March 1st. Sign up for my newsletter to be to be the first to know when it launches!

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Planning a photo shoot? Here’s how to put together a shot list

cincinnati wedding stylist blog

Photo: Annette Navarro

This may seem like a “duh” statement, but I’ll say it anyway:
In order to get what you want, you have to know what you want.

Right. Duh.

But you’d be surprised how often clients go into a photo shoot without a clear plan.

Most people have vague ideas about what they want out of a shoot, but until we can project thoughts into each others’ minds Star Trek-style, a shot list is the best way to communicate exactly what you need to your photographer and team.

So what is a shot list?

A shot list is just what it sounds like: a list of the photos you want to get from a shoot. It’s a a collection of images, ideas, and setups you want to work your way through.

For instance, on an e-commerce shoot, you may want to get silo shots (images of your products on a white background) for product pages, and photos in a variety of lifestyle settings for ads and social media.

Why is it important?

Shot lists are helpful because they force you to think about the images you need, and act as a checklist so you don’t forget anything. They also ensure that the entire team (photographer, stylist, hair & makeup, model, etc.) knows what to expect and how to prepare.

For instance, I recently styled a shoot that went from indoors to outdoors–in freezing temperatures. Had I known our (brave) models would be outside in the cold, I would have pulled coats for them to wear!

As with most other team projects, the more communication, the better.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Get everyone on the same page

Gather your creative team to discuss everyone’s needs and vision, taking into consideration:

– Image use

Think about the different types of media and how images will be used.

Are they for print? Most magazines and look books are in portrait orientation.
Are they for digital? Websites and social media headers are displayed in landscape orientation, but Pinterest favors vertical images, and Instagram is all about the square.

Be sure to get a variety of options that will work for all of your outlets.


Magazine images are often vertically oriented Photo: Anna Jones/OMS

– “Must haves” vs “nice to haves”

Once you know where the images will be used, determine your must-haves.

For example, a fashion designer’s must-haves might include photos of each garment on a white background for e-commerce and line sheets, necessary for online sales and retailers. Meanwhile, a tight shot of a model’s manicured hand zipping a dress is nice to have for Instagram, but won’t make or break a sale.

– Mood and lighting

Think about the mood you want to convey. Do you want the photos to be fun and colorful or should they be more muted and calming? Soft natural light with minimal contrast works well for a more organic look, while hard bright light with deep shadows plays up the drama.

Take a look at your brand guidelines and make sure everything fits with your overall aesthetic.

– Composition

Composition also affects the “feel” of your images. Do you want products to be organically arranged as if they landed that way by chance, or in a precise grid Things Organized Neatly-style? Will photos be cropped in unusual ways for a trendy attitude, or perfectly centered for a classic feel?

Again, this should reinforce your overall brand.

image composition organic

“Organically arranged” dishes feel fluid and relaxed
Photo: Aaron Conway

2. Make a list of shots

Create a list of your must-have and nice-to-have shots, then put them in order based on importance and general similarity. An ordered list of photos helps keep timing on track and cuts back on downtime.

For example, if you’re photographing product shots and on-figure images for an e-commerce site, you can get the product shots done first, while the models are in hair and makeup.

If you’re working with different sets and backdrops, you can photograph everything on set #1 before tearing down and moving to set #2. Planning the general order prevents having to rebuild.

3. Add visual inspiration

While a written list helps keep the day in order, visual examples help everyone can SEE the objective. You can draw sketches (stick figures count!) or find photos that embody what you want to create.

I like to spend some time gathering 1-2 inspiration images for each shot on the list so there’s a solid starting point for poses, composition and framing. Check out these resources for inspiration, and set up a private Pinterest board and invite your collaborators so everyone can share their thoughts.

[RELATED: 31 Resources for Visual Inspiration]

Compile the inspiration images for lighting, composition, and each shot, add brief descriptions where needed, and voila! Shot list complete!

A word about shoot day:

In reality, very few shoots go exactly the way you plan, and that’s okay! Weather, talent, locations, and collaborators all have a say in how the day turns out, and frankly, some of the most unexpected, unplanned moments are when the magic happens.

There’s nothing wrong with letting things take place organically, just make sure you get what you absolutely need, too. The more details you can work out beforehand, the more time and freedom you’ll have to experiment.

Questions? Need help? Ask away!

Interested in learning more about creating visuals for your brand? Join me for my “Think Like an Art Director” session at Midwest Craft Con on Saturday, February 11th. Register here!

Travel // 5 Things to Do in San Diego

san diego trees

The weather outside may or may not be frightful, but one place isn’t having these problems: San Diego. While it does, in fact, rain in Southern California (Tony Toni Tone LIED y’all), the weather is pleasingly temperate year-round. There’s an ocean, of course, as well as parks, mountains, and trees with fruit on them(!) in addition to plenty of good food and fun spots to explore. Here’s what you should do:


san diego Coronado island

Enjoy the view at Broadway Pier before hopping on the ferry for the 15-minute trip to Coronado Island. Once there, stroll down Orange Avenue (I recommend stopping for gelato at Nado Gelato) and hit Hotel del Coronado for shopping and seaside people-watching.



Climbing one of the eleventy-thousand paths up South Fortuna Mountain ensured I wouldn’t need to do squats and lunges for a solid week after. Work your glutes ’til you make it to the top, and breathe in.


san diego prado

There’s no shortage of places to eat! Head to Influx Cafe for casual coffee and brunch, go for a fancy-schmancy dinner–and if you’re like me, dessert–at The Prado in Balboa Park, and enjoy impossibly fanciful confections (and a surprisingly delicious BLT panini) at Extraordinary Desserts.

Traveling with kids? Dig in to a few slices of cheesy pizza at Mona Lisa, savor a solidly good cheeseburger and fries at Burger Lounge, and join the rest of the hipster families for locally grown fruits and vegetables at Mercato Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.


san diego balboa park

Balboa Park houses a collection of museums, galleries, gardens boasting everything from German Expressionist paintings at the San Diego Museum of Art to an astonishing variety of roses (the Rainbow Sorbet breed smells amazing) in the Memorial Rose Garden.


san diego la jolla beach
There’s plenty of coastline in SoCal, but my favorite beaches were Del Beach on Coronado and the gorgeous rocky cliffs of La Jolla (pronounced la-HOY-a, as in Oscar de). Hang out on the rocky coastline and watch the waves crash ashore.

Have you been to San Diego? What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Shopping // Gettin’ Lucky Kat

cincinnati fashion bloggers

I’ve reached a point in my life where I just want to be comfortable. The idea of floating through life wearing pajamas and bedding–as in actual blankets and such–is extremely appealing. Meanwhile, I’m also (supposedly) an adult. Taking meetings while wrapped in a comforter is not exactly professional.

Enter casual wear from the likes of Lucky Kat, a locally-based online retailer started by my friend Katie and her mother. They specialize in reasonably priced boho-chic styles for working women, moms, and the rest of the #girlboss squad, including me and fellow blogger Annie of Success on Stilettos. We got together for a little styling party and played dress up in some of our favorites!

cincinnati fashion bloggers

I loved a striped turtleneck cape thingy that fit right into my usual neutrals-or-bust color scheme, and a loose-fitting tunic dress that looks great over skinny jeans. It all works for everything from brunch with friends to casual client meetings.

cincinnati fashion bloggers

They got a bunch of new merchandise over the holiday season, so head over to to get your shop on!

Setting New Years Intentions

setting new years intentions

Photo: Claudia Hershner

The idea of New Year’s Resolutions has become a little outdated–let’s be real, it’s just too hard to stick to an ambitious diet and exercise regimen after years of enjoying smothered pork chops and excessive couch time. But setting goals and making plans to achieve them isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so I’m approaching 2017 with intentions (*buzzword alert*) to help me progress/improve/grow as a flawed human person who’s interested in being and doing better. Here’s what I have so far:

Eat 70% plants // I do a pretty decent job of eating fruits and vegetables because I actually like fruits and vegetables, but I also really like cake. And ice cream. And pizza. Honestly, I’ll eat pretty much anything you put in front of me. I don’t plan to eliminate any of those things completely, but I figure if I can increase my plant consumption to 70%, I only have 30% capacity remaining for the not-so-healthy goodies that make life worth living. A majority is a majority, no?

Make a Thing // I produce a lot of ephemeral creative stuff: photo shoots, websites, social media content. But none of that is tangible, and while that doesn’t mean it’s any less real, I’ve got a hankering to make something I can touch and see and pass around at parties. TBD on what The Thing is, but I’ll keep you posted.

Learn to apply eyeshadow // Like most makeup (oh hey, highlighter!) I like the idea of eye shadow, but am meh on the execution. I love the way it looks when my makeup is professionally done, so I feel like I should know how to properly apply it, and I have plenty of space between my eyelids and brows that seems like it’s just going to waste.

Philippines trip Poctoy Beach

The view from Poctoy Beach in the Philippines

See some world // I’ve always loved traveling (thanks Mom!) and I get restless when I’ve been in one place for too long. I learn so much about myself and humanity in general when I visit different parts of the world, and making connections with diverse people and distant places has always resulted in some of my best life experiences.

Flow and Sow // This sounds awfully woo-woo, but I’ve been researching the value of listening to your intuition and aligning with “the flow”. Action is essential too, so the idea is to listen to yourself, take action based on what your intuition is telling you, and “go with the flow” instead of trying to force a certain outcome. It’s a tough balance, and I’m not expecting perfection, but the intent is there.

What are your intentions for 2017?

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