Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

My Maternity Leave

I can't believe that I am officially writing this blog post!! But here we are, almost ready to welcome our baby girl into the world!! Appropriately I will be taking a maternity leave in anticipation of her arrival and for the first few months of her life. I wanted to share a few details with you of what that means for future, current and past DZP clients and what they can expect over the next months as we take a break to enjoy life as a family of four!!

  • Email will still be available, however my response time will be significantly increased. Please be patient as I respond to each email appropriately.
  • If you have an urgent matter you want me to be aware of, please make that clear in your subject line.
  • If you are a current client who has NOT booked an engagement session for 2018, I will be reopening shooting dates at the beginning of March. Please reach out to get set up as dates fill up quickly.
  • If you have an open album order or have yet to finalize your design, album design and production will begin again at the end of February. 
  • I will have dates open and available at the end of February, March, and April for portrait sessions. If interested in booking a session for your family, please reach out!!
  • The best way to stay up to date on important Deborah Zoe Photography news is to like the DZP Facebook Page as well as subscribe to the DZP Newsletter

I want to thank all my clients and supporters of DZP who have been so incredibly gracious and supportive of my family during this journey. We have felt so loved and we are incredibly grateful!! (Especially on long wedding days where you made sure I was well fed and hydrated :)). I look forward to sharing more of our journey once baby girl is here!! Thank you one and all!!

With much love from our family to yours, The Parkers

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A Fireman and A Cupcake

This past weekend we celebrated Jonathan's third birthday with a BBQ at our home. It was an especially beautiful spring day (are rare treat this year with our cold and rainy weather!) with lots of food and outdoor fun. Dave has a large extended family, many who make the journey to our house and ever year our yard is filled with kiddos, bubbles and lawn chairs. It makes my heart really full. 

This year we celebrated with firetrucks, one of Jonathan's favorite things. As I watched him try to blow out his birthday candle in his new fire chief jacket, I was reminded of just how fast time goes. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were bringing him home from the hospital? I knew that this day would come quickly but it's a whole different thing when it actually does. 

This week I found myself in conversation with a fellow entrepreneur and new Mom. We chatted about the struggles of balancing work and home life and what it looks like to run a business while also growing your family. I'm three years into that balance and have found it to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. It's a balance that needs to be filled with grace, patience and compromise. 

The things that I wanted three years ago for my business have radically shifted all because of this cute fireman. It's hard to describe what it looks like to have a business that you are incredibly passionate about, one that you have poured your heart and soul into, while also raising a child who has stolen that same heart, become your everything. It truly is an art of balance. 

One of my favorite entrepreneurs and fellow Mom is Joanna Gaines. I fell in love with her driven spirit and love her family years ago when I discovered a little known show at the time called Fixer Upper. It's been amazing to watch as she and her husband Chip have continued to radically grow their business, positively influence their community all while keeping their family at the forefront. She wrote a blog post several years ago that has always stuck with me.

"For those of you who are working moms and struggle to find the balance between loving your job and loving your kids, I feel your pain. We have to let go of the guilt and rather than feel burdened about missing out, we need to celebrate the fact that we are doing what we were made to do." - Joanna Gaines

You can read the full post here, I guarantee that it will encourage your heart. If you're a new Mom, Mom for several years or a business owner who dreams of expanding her family some day, take heart. I believe that there is room for both. With a lot of patience, grace and compromise. Your focus will shift, your priorities will change but you will still chase after your dreams and raise beautiful babies. It's hard and it can be scary but that doesn't mean it isn't worth the sacrifice and effort it takes to raise children and build a business that matters. 

Rebranding Part 2 : Meaningful Design & 5 Tips For Your Rebrand

More behind the purposeful design of the new Deborah Zoe Photography plus 5 tips to help with your rebrand!! When I began the process of rebranding (i.e : defining my voice, communicating clearly, creating a cohesive message), I knew that it was going to require commitment, focus and dedication.

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by deborahzoe

Rebranding Part 1 : Why The New Look?

When I shared with people that I was in the process of rebranding over the winter often the first question I received was, “Why? I love the look of your current brand!” And I did too! Tara of Stupendous Design had created a beautiful logo and look and feel that had served me well for almost five years. So why change? 

A lot can happen to a person in five years. I went from newbie business owner to first time Mom, moved to a new town and entered my thirties. There was a lot of transition within these past five years and simultaneously, growth. I wanted a coherent brand that represented the person I am today and clearly communicated the direction I desire my business to go. 

I am a mix of many things : photographer, entrepreneur, Mom, wife. I’m passionate about family, celebrating connection and encouraging woman who are growing their business and their family. I feel that the new brand is a beautiful mix of the things that make me the artist I am today.

One of the best compliments I have received from our launch two weeks ago is : “It’s just DEB.” Hearing that makes my heart swell — we worked hard to choose colors, design elements, images and words that clearly communicated what this business stands for. To receive feedback that we’ve done just that makes me so proud. Really, Kathryn did all the hard work -- I’ll forever be grateful for what she created here.

Next week in Rebranding Part 2 I’ll be sharing some of the details behind the new look, including the very personal and sentimental meaning behind DZP’s new logo!! Thank you again to everyone who has shared their support throughout this process, it's been incredibly encouraging!!

by deborahzoe

Well, Hello There

It's been a while hasn't it? I didn't intentionally take a break from bloggin, it just kind of happened. My 2014 self would be going crazy knowing that I wasn't blogging my expected three posts weekly. Heck my 2010 self would be irrate I wasn't blogging 5 days a week. I began blogging way back before my business was even a business in 2009. I wanted an outlet to share my work and the journey I was on to become a full fledge full time wedding photographer. Many of you have been on that journey with me since the beginning (raise your hand!!)

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by Deborah Parker

Inspire Photo Retreat 2016

Every year I've made a commitment to myself and my business to attend at least one conference or retreat as a way to grow in my craft and knowledge as photographer & business owner. My first ever confernce was WPPI, an eye opening experience in the heart of Las Vegas. WPPI is huge (literally), with thousands of photographers, speakers and sponsers attending every year. It's a great way to get your feet wet so to speak in the photography world and I've met some of my dearest industry friends in Vegas. But being the introverted type that I am, these huge group settings made me feel so uncomfortable and longing for a small, intimate community to connect with. With that in mind the Inspire Photo Retreats was created.

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by Deborah Parker

The Mentor Sessions

Several times a year  I have the joy of connecting with other photograhers and helping to them to walk through goals, solve probelms and answer questions through one on one mentor sessions. This past week I met the beautiful and lovely Dina of Dina Godzik Photography who is a talented New England portrait and wedding photographer!

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by Deborah Parker

Travelogue : Rome, Georgia

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It's been a crazy season for us, both professionally and personally. Part of it has to do with the fall being the busiest time of year for wedding industry professionals. Part of it just has to do with the season of life that we find ourselves in now. I was wrung out, tired, sad. Last week, as I packed up my bags for a week away in Georgia, everything screamed, "DON'T GO!" Being the stubborn red head I am, I ignored those words and made my way to the airport. Everything be damned.

On my early morning flight I watched the sun rise over the horizon. Being a nervous flyer, being 40,000 feet above the ground would typically send me into a tailspin. I kept waiting to be nervous, for the moment that would make my palms sweat and my hear race, yet instead I found myself at peace. All the crazy that had been swirling around our lives in the days leading up to Pursuit suddenly seemed as small as the landscape below. 

Pursuit has changed much since the time years ago that I was introduced to it's founder, Karen Stott. Today it's a conference for christian woman creatives, women who love their business, love people and love God. It's such a rarity to be surrounded by such like minded people and it rejuvenated my soul in ways that I'm only now just beginning to realize. Talks ranging from motivational to actionable business advice. Times of rest and laughter. Praying together and sharing our lives together. It was just what my spirit had been longing for and it was completely unexpected. Every day I was reminded in some way that I was exactly where I should be. The voice screaming "DON'T GO" before I left was replaced with a "I'm glad you are here". 

The conference takes place at a magical place called Winshape. Everyone who has attended the conference years prior has talked about Winshape like it is some sort of oasis in the middle of the Georgian mountains. Before attending Winshape I was skeptical, I mean how special can this place really be? You know what? It is speical, it really is.  From the warm southern hospitality (sweethearts, yes ma'ams, door holding, my pleasures, smiles, are all foreign to Northerners!), to the sweeping views, to the quiet peace that surrounds the Winshape campus, all come together to set this place apart. It sounds almost foolish to talk about a place in a such a way, but for me the peace of Winshape was healing. It was just what I needed.

All too quickly it was time to pack up my bags again and head home. To head back to life and the craziness of mid-fall. But I left Pursuit changed, in part to the relationships, encouragement and knowledge shared. But mostly thanks to God, who used this time to pick me up when I needed it most, who used people to speak to my soul when I needed it most, who used this time to inspire me to dig deeper into my business and the talents I've been given. Pursuit was just what I needed, even though I wasn't sure I needed it.

The Pursuit Conference : A Conference for Creative Entrepreneurs
The Pursuit Conference : A Conference for Creative Entrepreneurs
by Deborah Parker

Rediscovering My Inspiration

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My Photography Heroes

Recently I was scrolling through my Pinterest boards and stumbled on an older board I had created years ago titled : Photography Inspiration. Within I had pinned images from Vogue, film and other sources. I had also pinned images from some of my photography heroes. I sat engrossed in this board and the images it held for hours, remembering the feelings these images and their creators had stirred up in me from a very young age. 

For almost as long as I can remember I wanted to be a photographer. I loved a good story and I loved how photography could be used as a powerful tool in story telling. As a wedding photographer it can be so EASY to simply look to the wedding industry. Where are the trends, what are other photographers doing, what should I be photographing, often forgetting there is a world completely outside of the wedding photography industry where people are changing the world through the images they create. As a photographer it is vital to inner creative to see the images of photographers who are pushing, stretching and changing the world through their craft. Taking that back to my wedding work, telling a beautiful story and hopefully pushing, stretching and changing the world through my lens. 

I'm not sure any of these photographers ever photographed a wedding (maybe they did!) But what I do know is that they changed the course of my life. They unknowingly have stretched me in ways I could never have imagined. These are the photographers who have inspired me daily and who, through their powerful bodies of work, keep me ever striving to tell a powerful story through photographs. 

Dorothea Lange

As a young girl, as young as 8 or 9, I remember seeing the works of Dorothea Lange and being transfixed. She was able to depict an entire epidemic in her Migrant Mother portrait and through a singular frame, helped to change the course of life for thousands. There are several other frames that Lange took of this iconic Migrant Mother and yet only a single frame was selected, becoming her iconic work. Just a powerful example of how one image can encompass all.

 Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange.

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange.

(above, Dorothea Lange)

Mary Ellen Mark

By the time I was in middle school, through the encouragement of my parents I signed up for a photography class. During this class we took a field trip to view an exhibition of Mary Ellen Mark. It was an image from her Indian Circus, though I can't remember which one, that changed my life forever. This trip and Mark's work, soldified in my being the importance of photography as a tool to document stories while honoring the lives of others through my camera. It was a fundemental moment in my life. While my work is nothing like Mark's, her influence in how and why I  became a photographer was paramount.

 Mary Ellen Mark, Indian Circus.

Mary Ellen Mark, Indian Circus.

 (above, Mary Ellen Mark)

Richard Avedon

The work of Richard Avedon was first presented to me during my early days of college. As an art major I was lucky to attend  university directly across the street from one of the best art museums in the world, the Museum of Fine Art. On a daily basis I could stroll the halls of this historic museum free of charge. Vincent Van Gogh was regular stop on my visits, but there were others who sparked my inner creative, one being fashion photographer Richard Avedon. I've always had a love for the iconic portrait, and Avedon is known for his creative and sometimes outrageous portraits of celebrities, models and every day people alike. His work challenges me, makes me feel uneasy and inspires me to push my craft further, always. 

 Richard Avedon.

Richard Avedon.

(above, Richard Avedon)

James Nachtwey

James Nachtwey is my favorite photographer. To this day I cannot look at his images for less than several minutes, often becoming entranced in the subjects and stories told within a singular frame. I remember being introduced to Nachtwey's body of work during a VII presentation while at college. It was his body of work that solidified my desire to become a news photographer and tell stories with my camera. And while my life has taken a much different turn photographically, his imagery still holds this truth for me : photography is vital. photography is important. photography can change the world. I will forever be grateful to Nachtwey for using his gifts as a photographer to share the stories of others, for helping to shape my world perspective and to remind me to always honor those who are placed in front of my camera. 

 James Nachtwey.

James Nachtwey.

(above, James Nachtwey)

It might sound like much of who I am as a photographer was shaped by my education and it was. But I don't believe that you need to be trained as a photographer to understand the importance of inspiration in your own work. It is so easy as a business owners to be swept up in running a business that we can often forget that taking time to be inspired in our own photographic work is equally as important. It can be as simple as starting a board on Pinterest, cutting out pictures from a magazine or heading to your local Barnes & Noble and browsing through the art books. Taking the time to be inspired by the work of others, outside of the wedding world, is paramount in stretching and challenging ourselves in our craft.

How do you find your inspiration? What fires you up? Who or what has sparked your own photographic journey? I love to know!

by Deborah Parker

The Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne of The Schultzes

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The Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne of The Schultzes

When I first started out as a wedding photographer I kept a little notebook filled with blank pages. I would cut out pictures from magazines or print images off the internet of poses and couples that I found inspirational. I had a fire to learn and everywhere I looked I saw photographers who were doing amazing things and creating beautiful work.

One of those photographers was Cheyenne of The Schultzes, a husband and wife photography team based in North Carolina. I would spend hours reading through their blog, continually inspired and encouraged by not just their beautiful work, but their hearts as well. Many images in that little notebook of mine are theirs and I’m so thankful for the creative push they inspired in me through their own work!                                                              (Image by Emily Chidester)

Years later Cheyenne continues to inspire. Not only is she an established photographer but she is also Mom to two of the most adorable kiddos. She shares openly on her blog and Instagram about the joys and challenges of balancing life as a Mom, Wife and Photographer. As a Mom myself I very much relate to her stage in life and love how she always strives to put her family at the forefront. Cheyenne and Geoff are an amazing example of what it looks like to love their family and serve their clients and business well. I am continually amazed at how they use their gifts not only as photographers but as parents to bless others!

Which is why I am over the moon excited to introduce you to Cheyenne today! She is such a source of encouragement to me as a Mom and business owner and I just knew she had to be a part of the Mommy Interviews! I hope that you are encouraged and empowered by the wisdom and insight she will be sharing. Let’s get to it!

Cheyenne, thank you so much for taking part in the Mommy Interviews, I cannot wait to dive right in! First would you mind sharing how long you’ve been in business and how long you have been a Mum?

Goodness gracious, thank you so much for that warm introduction and for allowing me to be a part of this fantastic series, Deb. Geoff and I started our photography business in spring of 2007 (take that statement with a grain of salt...when we started, Geoff was 2nd shooting for me with our point and shoot camera! :)) and then had our first baby in 2010.  It’s so crazy how fast 8 years can go by...having kids will do that, I suppose!  Our son, Boone, is currently four and a half and our daughter, Crew, is two.

  How has having children changed not only your business but your life?

A better question might be to ask how has having children NOT changed my business and my life.  :)  In no particular order...

+ Simple tasks now take triple the amount of time to complete when children are present.

+ Our once a month date night has become sacred....and expensive.  $10/hour just for childcare adds up really quick!

+ I get a lot less sleep.

+ We have to limit how often and how far we can travel for work...especially when both of us are shooting.

+ I became a hypochondriac and should buy stock in hand sanitizer. Having to leave a sick kid with a babysitter when we have a wedding to photograph is just about my least favorite thing.

+ At any given time I will have unanswered emails that have been at the bottom of my inbox for three months. And I give myself grace for those.

+ Using the restroom without a child busting in to ask me what I am doing is a distant memory.

+ My house is a lot more messy. Cheerio dust on the couch. Permanent grime from sticky, dirty, greasy little fingers going up the walls of my stairwell. Baby dolls with no clothes on, plastic binoculars, itty bitty dinosaurs and about a million stuffed animals regularly litter the floor of my home.

+ I have to be a lot more discreet when I eat my chocolate.  

+ It took me a couple of years to realize it, but I learned that if I was going to make my way to the surface...and stay there...I was going to need help.  Help with business and help with life.  Hiring a studio/personal assistant to help us 10 hours a week and a housekeeper every other week has been the best money I have ever spent.  

+ Getting "me time" feels like luxury. Truly, when I get to go to the grocery store by myself, I might as well be on a cruise.

+ I find enjoyment in really simple things (like watching inchworms crawl across the sidewalk) as I get to re-experience the wonder of the world through the eyes of my kids.

+ My heart grew about 10 sizes after I had Boone. And then it grew 5 more after I had Crew.  I love those kids so much that it hurts.

The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.

(Imageby Nancy Ray)

As business owners, there are many things competing for our attention all the time. Are there things that you and your husband Geoff do differently to ensure that your family is placed at the forefront?

We keep a pretty tight grip on when we do work and when we do family...keeping a schedule and establishing boundaries have been really important to prioritizing our family time. The kids go to their “school” Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, which are the days I am in the studio to get my work done. Wednesday is my “Mama Day”, which is the day I get the kids all to myself. I really try to be intentional and fun about what we do together on Mama Day by making a plan a couple days in advance. Until the kids are in regular school, Friday will always be our family day (with rare exception).  Besides that, I try to schedule portrait sessions on Monday or Tuesday evenings and will only take one per week.  

At the beginning of 2015 you shared about taking a few days away with your husband to plan and dream for the year ahead. Would you mind sharing with DZP readers why you felt you needed to do this and how it has helped your marriage, family and business?

I should start off by telling you that my husband and I are goal junkies.  Yes, it sounds super nerdy, but we love setting goals regularly for the year, month, week and weekends.  When we go on our monthly date together, we will most always bring along our little notebook of goals to review what we accomplished in the previous month and to make a plan for the month ahead.  Not only is it fun to dream about the future, but it allows us to take things a step further to make a plan for making those dreams come true.  

I think it was about four years ago that we started taking time at the beginning of the year to hire a babysitter (or recruit a set of grandparents) and get out of the house for a day to connect, seek God and make a plan for the year ahead.  We would set an agenda and go to various favorite coffee shops and restaurants.  This year, we decided to extend it by an extra day and get out of town together.  We drove to nearby Asheville, NC and took ourselves on a coffee crawl to various coffee shops around the city...Instagram hashtag and all.  :)  We dreamed about the things we wanted to do, the places we wanted to go, the people we wanted to love in 2015.  

Life and business are always very full and time goes by so darn fast. Taking the time at the beginning of the year to set goals, and then again each month, helps us to live intentionally to do the things that we want to do or feel that we are being called to do.

Now that your kids are toddlers, what are some of the unique challenges you have experienced as a Mom, balancing parenthood and business with kids in this stage? Do you envision a shift in how you balance these things as your kids continue to grow?

When I first became a mom, I was trying to do everything and thus, found myself failing at everything.  I felt like I was only able to give about 30% of myself to any given area, which left me feeling like the worst wife, mother, friend, business woman, etc. that there ever was.  Over-dramatic, perhaps, but out of whack hormones, lack of sleep and too much on your to-do list will make you believe crazy things.  I have learned that for me to be a great in the roles I have in my life, I need to compartmentalize them.  I no longer try to overlap my roles between motherhood and business.  I do best when I have focused business time and I have focused family time.  Now, when I'm with my kids, I can be fully present with them.  I know they are being served better when I can sit down on the ground to play Candyland with them and not be distracted with the mountain of emails I have in my inbox or packaging up that client order.

The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.

 Would you mind sharing more about your heart behind your business and how having a purpose in business has given you an opportunity to serve your family?

I would love to.  :)  Two years ago, Geoff and I had some big conversations about the foundation of our business. Showing up just to take pretty pictures wasn't enough anymore.  If we were going to continue to devote a good chunk of our life to this work, we were going to need some real meaning and real purpose. From those conversations, our core purpose was born: "to create art that matters and to genuinely care for others."

Our hope is that for those we photograph, through the years of the good and the bad, they can look back on their wedding images and remember the love and the joy that was there that day.  That they can have hope that they can make it out of the hard times of marriage and that it is worth fighting for.  Knowing that we are doing work that really matters is incredibly fulfilling.

With so many things that can negatively influence our outlook (like social media) how do you maintain a positive perspective, especially when it comes to being a Mom?

I will often "rewrite my feelings", which is an exercise that I learned at the Making Things Happen Conference.  Whatever negative thought I have about myself or my situation {I am the worst mother ever}, I rewrite it on my heart as a positive {I am a GREAT mother}.  And then I force myself to say it out loud until I believe it.  Truly, it works.

I also try to regularly spend time reading the Bible to receive instruction from God for my life and business.  Below is a common verse that helps me stay grounded and positive:

"Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." - Philippians 4:8

The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.

 What would be the best piece of advice you could give to someone who is a first time Mom and entrepreneur?

How about my top three pieces of advice?  :)  

1. Community is everything.  Having other moms in similar seasons to do life has been absolutely invaluable to me.

2. Care for yourself.  Eat good food, move your body, get fresh air, sleep when you can, take regular showers.  And do things that bring you joy.  Seriously, make yourself a list right now of things that bring you joy and happiness. And then go do them!

3. Give yourself grace when you drop a ball. You aren't perfect...it's going to happen. Balls will be dropped, and yet, it won't be the end of the world.  Do the best that you can and then rest knowing that that is good enough. And know that the really hard times won't last forever.  I promise, they won't.

The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Art of Balance Mommy Interviews with Cheyenne Schultz by Deborah Zoe Photography.

What has been your greatest joy being a Mum?

I don't think I could possibly narrow this down to one great joy.  

Having her rest her head on my shoulder when she's sleepy. Making applesauce muffins with him in the morning. Having a "turn down for what" dance party in the kitchen with both of them while cooking dinner. The hugs, the kisses, the belly laughs that come from the tickle fights. Witnessing the utter excitement over her new gold shoes or him seeing him freak out over Thomas the Train at the theme park.  Watching her rub his back when he is hurt and tell him in her sweet voice, "it's okay, Boone". Both of them plowing down the door to get to me, shrieking "mama!!!!" when they get home from school. Watching her belt out the lyrics to "Let it Go" with such commitment and hilarity.....I could literally go on and on and on.  Now that I'm literally in tears, I think it's time to sign off.  :)

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09_CheyenneSchultz_00091.jpg

Cheyenne, thank you SO much for sharing your heart here today. I am overwhelmed with your honesty, tenacity and your fire to love and serve your family all while running a purposeful business. I hope you know just what an inspiration you are and how your words will touch those reading here today! If you'd like to follow along with Cheyenne's adventures with her kids, business and marriage be sure to connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter. You can also email her at us@lovetheschultzes.com and can visit their website here. If this post has touched your heart or inspired you in any way, be sure to leave Cheyenne some love in the form of a comment below!!

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by Deborah Parker

Let's Connect!

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Five Ways To Connect On Social Media

 Five Ways To Connect On Social Media with Deborah Zoe Photography.

Five Ways To Connect On Social Media with Deborah Zoe Photography.

Who uses Social Media?! I'd love to take an informal poll of the readers who stop by the blog to see what social media sites they are using and why! (Feel free to leave a response below in the comments!) It's so amazing to me the many outlets and tools we can use to connect with each other nowadays. Sometimes I feel like I'm caught right in the middle, knowing how to use all these tools but not necessarily wanting to use them all, all the time! Below I've shared my top five social media outlets and how I use them. I'd love to connect with you and follow along!

1. Instagram (@deborahzoe)

I've been using Instagram since 2011...that's almost FOUR years!! It's hard to believe that it started out as a way to "destory" your images with crappy filters and has now urned into a popular way to connect and share with the world around you! Instagram is my favorite social media tool and it's here where I post pictures of every day life, from gorgeous weddings & fabulous couples to my adorable family and our adventures together! I'd LOVE to connect with you there!

2. Facebook (/Deborah Zoe Photography)

Oh Facebook, we have a love/hate relationship don't we? As a Northestern University graduate, I had the chance to be one of the very first people to be on Facebook -- an interesting thought! Facebook has certainly grown and changed over the years, today it is the way I share about what is happening with Deborah Zoe Photography. Facebook fans will be the first to know about blog posts, website updates and DZP news! It's a great way to stay up to date and in the know:) Just be sure to click "Get Notifications" at the top of the page to ensure DZP shows up in your newsfeed!

3. Pinterest (/deborahzoe)

I was SO confused when Pinterest first jumped onto the social media scene. Today it's my guilty pleasure and where I could spend hours and hours searching for Paleo recipes, tips about traveling to Disney World and pinning gorgeous wedding florals. It's a mixed bag of all the things that I love. PLUS if you're a DZP Bride, Pinterest is how we collaborate to style your engagement session, a fun way to plan and prepare for the session! I'd love to see you there!

4. Periscope (@deborahzoe)

Periscope is the newest trend in social media and while I'm usually reluctant to jump on the social meda bandwagon, I have to say Periscope is really fun! (and kind of addicting!) Want to broadcast or livestream? Periscope is for you! As for DZP, Periscope will be how I share insider tips, what's happening behind the scenes and hopefully some live shooting! My hope is to keep this tool specific for photographers and those wondering what it's like behind the scenes here at DZP! Bonus, if you're on Twitter currently, it's SO easy to connect and get set up with Periscope. Hope on over and join today and let's connect!

5. Twitter (@deborahzoe)

I'm going to admit something... I rarely use Twitter. I've never really understood Twitter or how it could fit into my social media lineup. BUT I am on Twitter and I do use it, sometimes;)! I mostly just connect with clients, vendors and other photographers to cultivate community and share interesting things! If you're on Twitter and are a past or current DZP couple, a vendor OR photographer I'd love to connect! Perhaps you can teach me a few things about Twitter along the way:)

How do you love to connect on Social Media? What are your favorite places to share content? Any new social media tools I need to know about?! Leave some tips in the comments below!!

 Five Ways To Connect On Social Media with Deborah Zoe Photography.

Five Ways To Connect On Social Media with Deborah Zoe Photography.

by Deborah Parker

Recharging During the Off Season

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Recharging During the Off Season

A friend recently told me to enjoy the off season. My first reaction was "What off season?!" I've been shooting, editing, organizing and working behind the scenes all winter and at times it really hasn't felt like an "off" season. But as I prepare for this new year of weddings I've realized that I really need to slow down and enjoy this time right now. I'm still working hard but I do have more flexibility now than any other time of year and I have to force myself to enjoy each moment of it. 

A lot of my time is spent with my son Jonathan. We go on "adventures" (code word for errands;)), we play, he takes napes, I catch up on Fixer Upper. It's been a really sweet pace of life and while I constantly want to keep going and going and going with my business, I've really tried to allow myself time to just breath! 

One of the ways that I wanted to just "breath" this year was by focusing on my health during the off season. It started small with giving up soda. I was never a huge soda drinker before but the thought of putting chemicals and sugar into my body for a drink that let's be real, wasn't really that satisifying, was enough for me to say no. It started at just January, spread into February, then March and then April. 

I really thought that it was just going to be soda, I didn't make a New Years resolution to loose weight, go to the gym or any of the typical resolutions one makes. But in January I noticed a Groupon for a gym just down the road from our home. I started attending, and I was hooked! I have a trainer who I work out with once a week. I have cheerleaders pushing me on and it's been one of the best decisions I have made with regard to my health in a long time. I tell my husband every day how thankful I am that we have made room in the budget for a gym membership. And even though most days I have to wake up at 5:00am to get to class, I count my blessings as I move my legs, raise my heart rate and sweat my tushy off. I'm so grateful for the supportive environment and the ability to MOVE my body. 

Your probably wondering where I'm going with this... I promise I'm getting there!

At the end of February I was talking with a friend about this unplanned health journey I was finding myself on. Dave and I had started to make almost all of our meals at home and from scratch but yet I knew that we could tweak things to be healthier. She recommended that I look into Whole30, an elimination "diet" of sorts. I was VERY hesitant at first as it requires you to cut out sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, preservatives, and processed foods for an entire 30 days. No lattes for 30 days? But let me tell you, it was life changing. Our diet (and our waistlines) have been revolutionized and I look at food in a completely different way now. (If you have questions about Whole30, feel free to share them in the comments below!)

So what does going to the gym and changing our diet have anything to do with recharging in the off season? For me, none of this would have been possible during the middle of wedding season. It's to busy, too overwhelming, to consuming. These past few months have allowed me to truly regroup, refocus and recharge before the busy time of year comes. This time has laid a foundation for my health that will carry me through the end of the year, which would never have happened if I had not taken the time to do so. I've had precious moments to share with my husband and my son. I've taken a nap on the couch (I NEVER NAP) and I've been able to cook almost every dinner for our family (I DON'T COOK!). This "off season" has been a gift and one I'm enitrely grateful for. 

If you're a photographer and you find that you're in the middle or end of your down season, take a day (or maybe two or three) to recharge. Step away from the computer, the email, social media and take a moment for yourself. Grab a cup of coffee with your friend that you've been putting off, head to the gym for a class, learn a new recipe, organize your closet. Do something that energizes you and lifts your spirits. 

While it is good and necessary to BUILD our businesses during this off season it is as equally important to make time for ourselves. Because when we invest in oursevles, our family and the people that we love, it in turn makes us better photographers, better artists, better creatives. When we are filled, we can then pour into others. And that makes me inrecibly excited about the year ahead! What do you like to do during the off season? How do you recharge and refocus? Any tips on how to make the most of this slower time of year?! 

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by Deborah Parker

The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray

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The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray

When I was pregnant in 2013 there were very few resources for photographers who were expecting. I did much of my learning through first hand experiences. Thankfully I had a very healthy pregnancy but I still longed for a support system of people who understood what I was going through, women who understood what it was like to balance a pregnancy and business. During this time I felt a pull on my heart to share my experiences in hopes that it could encourage and equip others. It was during my pregnancy that The Art of Balance series was born.

I have noticed that in just two short years the resources and support available for women (in particular, expectant business owners) has only increased, a welcome change and a helpful tool for those who are pregnant. There is a much more open dialogue and exchange and I’m excited to see other women sharing their experiences and helping to encourage and empower others.

One of these women is the talented Nancy Ray, a wedding photographer based in North Carolina. She just recently announced the upcoming arrival of her first baby and I was over the moon excited for her and her husband! She has shared openly on her blog about the struggles and excitement surrounding her pregnancy and I have found it to be so insightful and encouraging! I couldn’t think of anymore more perfect to interview for the Mommy Interviews and was delighted when she agreed to share more of her heart here!

Welcome Nancy, I’m so happy to have you here on the DZP blog! Before we get started, can you share when you are due?! So exciting!

Thank you, Deb! I’m due on May 27th.

As a self admitted Type A personality, can you describe the feelings and emotions you experienced when you found out you were pregnant?

To be honest, it was so hard for me to believe that I was actually pregnant. Was there really a human growing inside of me? Are our lives really about to change forever? It was quite surreal! It came as a surprise, and while we were certainly talking about starting a family sometime in 2015/2016, we didn't expect for it to happen when it did. Will and I would both describe the first 2 weeks of this pregnancy in one word: disbelief. We just couldn't believe it! We had to laugh a lot, because we specifically said that we would try to avoid having a baby during high wedding season: May, June, September, or October. Yep, we nailed it.

I’ve admired how you’ve shared your pregnancy journey on your blog and how openly you have written about your fears and excitement of becoming a Mom. I think many women have had similar experiences. Would you share a little bit of your heart here?

What is so sweet about this journey for us, and for me in particular, is that God has been incredibly gracious and gentle with me. Thankfully, the Lord has taken my hand and has led me every step of the way. For me, this journey has not been typical or easy.

Here is how I've felt our entire marriage up to this point: I love my life with Will, and I know having a baby will change what we have. I love my sleep. A lot. I don't like baby toys or clutter. I've always loved the idea of having a family, and I see us going on camping trips and having adventures together. I've always loved working with adults or older kids / teenagers - I've never been one to volunteer in the nursery at church. Those teenage years excite me (I know I'm weird, but I've led a youth group for 5 years so to me, it's not intimidating!) The baby years? The toddler years? Yikes. I like a clean and organized home. I don't like crumbs or messes or drool. (Says the owner of Winston, I know. Ironic.) When Instagram feeds get taken over by babies, it slightly annoys me. (I'm pretty sure I'll kick myself for that one later, because I see this as inevitable.) Getting used to a growing belly and changing body is an act of surrender for me. Childbirth? Scary stuff.

All in all, I’ve never been baby-crazy. I adore my nieces and nephews, but I’ve never had a strong desire to have one of my own. However, I kept coming back to this one truth : at the end of my life, I want kids and grandkids in that picture. I want a full home - not full of stuff or memories only, full of people I love. And that all starts with family! So it was a full step of surrender for me to put away the birth control and allow that to happen.

The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.

What do you think has been the biggest change in your heart since learning about your pregnancy? How has your pregnancy changed you?

I cannot believe I’m going to say this : I love being pregnant! It’s amazing - the thing that I feared and dreaded for such a long time has turned into such a sweet journey for me. I didn’t love it until I started to feel the baby move. As soon as that happened, my focused shift from me being pregnant to the life of the tiny person inside of me. My heart has been changed because I am falling in love with someone I don’t even know.

As you’ve photographed and run your business throughout your pregnancy, has there been someone or something that has helped you manage your many responsibilities and maintain a sense of balance?

Two people : Will and Callie. My husband Will is my biggest supporter, my best friend, and the co-owner of my photography business. He helps me prioritize things that matter in my work and my personal life. He works with me part time (he also owns his own financial coaching business), and he encourages me to exercise and get adequate sleep. I love him to pieces. Callie works with me in the studio, and she keeps things running! She handles culling, editing, submissions, print orders, album designs, errands, etc. She truly keeps me sane - I do not know what I’d do without her!

Having carried my first child through wedding season I came to discover there were lots of things to think about such as morning sickness, aches and pains, debilitating fatigue, growing belly etc. How did you keep your focus as a photographer while experiencing these physical changes? Any advice that you would give to someone who is shooting while pregnant?

I am incredibly grateful that I have been feeling so amazing. I always feared "morning sickness," but I am so thankful that I haven't been sick at all!  I get really tired at 9:30pm, but I feel great and energetic during the day. My 2 biggest pieces of advice? (and the reasons I believe I’ve felt so good) :

Eat healthy and stay active!

I've kept up my running, which has helped a lot! Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve completed a sprint Triathlon (6 weeks), a 10K (19 weeks) and a 15K (25 weeks). We also did several mountainous hikes on our babymoon to California, some totaling up to 8 or 9 miles. I also set goals for myself and complete sugar fasts for 2 weeks at a time, which has been really helpful to stay away from the sweets. I don’t use the “eating for two” or pregnancy cravings as an excuse, but I do enjoy this season and enjoy desserts - I just try to limit it to once or twice a week. I believe pregnancy is a season of preparation: body, soul, and spirit. Giving birth is an endurance event, and I want to be ready for it.

The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.

As you near your due date, how have you been preparing for life after baby? Are you planning to take a maternity leave? Are there systems you have put into place to help make the transition more smooth for you and your husband?

When my photography-mama friends started to tell me that I should take 4 months of maternity leave after I have my baby, I thought, "yeah right!" I simply couldn't imagine taking off 1/3 of my year from work that I absolutely love. And yet, the phrase I keep hearing is: Everything changes once you have a baby. I know this to be true, but having never walked through it myself, I've decided to rely on the wisdom of those business-owner-mamas who have already gone before me. So yes - I've decided to take a 4 month maternity leave.

5 Ways to Plan for Maternity Leave

1. Decide your timeline

Defining the time you begin and end your maternity leave is very important. We decided on 4 months : May 10th through September 30th. The month of September is my "re-entry month," and knowing that I have October 1st to look forward to will be helpful for me to mentally and emotionally prepare for the fall wedding season.

2. Give Grace (to yourself)

There is one wedding in June and one in July that I had already booked, and I decided to keep them! This doesn't ruin my maternity leave, but I am planning in advance to make them as easy as possible. Also, I plan to blog (because I like to!) and pop into NRP team meetings (because I love them!), and that is OK!

3. Delete all emails

I listened to this podcast on How to Take a Sabbatical by Michael Hyatt, and it changed my entire perspective on my maternity leave. The best piece of advice I received from his podcast? His email auto response that he setup to say "Every email will be deleted as soon as it arrives in my inbox. Please email me when I return! If you have an emergency, please email __ or __ . " WOW. After much thought, I'm implementing this strategy!

4. Prepare and Delegate

Prepare first. I continue to add to a giant list of everything that only I do on a daily basis. Then, I delegate! Once I have prepared my list of everything that only I do, I designate them to Callie, to Will, and to our new intern.

5. Communicate

With my Team: We are having monthly meetings to plan and prepare for maternity leave. Each month, I delegate a new area of my business for someone to prepare to take over!

With my Clients: 2 months prior to maternity leave: I'll have an email signature clearly explaining when my maternity leave will take place.

1 month prior to maternity leave: I will send out an email specific to all of my couples, explaining the best times to reach me before and after maternity leave, and how to reach my team while I am away.

While I am on maternity leave: I will have my auto-response on, explaining that all emails will be deleted and that I am on my maternity leave until September 30, and that they can contact Callie or Will in my place. Communication is key!

At first, I was completely overwhelmed by the thought of taking so much time off. Now, I'm motivated and excited to know I will be able to focus my time 100% on this new little life. Yes, life will change, but that doesn't mean that my business has to suffer! With a lot preparation, planning, and communication, I know my business will keep on running without me!

The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.

What has been some of the best advice you have received in your pregnancy?

Enjoy sleep.

Make a “baby bucket list.”

Eat when you’re hungry.

Keep up your running.

Take a babymoon.

Don’t register for tons of baby stuff - keep it simple!

Take a birthing class.

Read, read, read.

What are you looking forward to most in this new season of life for your family?

Learning how to be a Mom and Dad team. I’m looking forward to experiencing this with Will, even in all the sleepless nights and difficulties, I cannot wait to see him become a Dad. I think we’ll be a pretty great team together.

Do you think being a Mum will change your perspective as a photographer? Do you think your business philosophy will change or mature as you and your husband grow your family together?

Absolutely! I know I’ll treasure family photos more, and the heartbeat of my business will continue to be refined. At Nancy Ray Photography, we believe in capturing beautiful legacies and heirlooms. I can only imagine how that will be enhanced and deepened as I am embarking on leaving my own legacy in the life of my son or daughter.

The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.
The Mommy Interviews with Nancy Ray by Deborah Zoe Photography.

What would be one thing that you could encourage new Mums or Mums to be about this stage of life?

Choose to enjoy this season, no matter where you find yourself. Being a part of the miracle of life is no small thing. Enjoy the changes in your life as you prepare, enjoy the changes in your body, enjoy time with your husband, enjoy feeling those kicks inside your belly, enjoy your work, enjoy registering, enjoy it all. In the beginning, I was so surprised that I didn’t know whether to be excited or scared or happy or angry. When a dear friend of mine told me that she robbed herself of her first pregnancy because it wasn’t in her plans at the time, she encouraged me to not do the same thing. She said, “You are only pregnant for the first time once in your life. Choose to enjoy it!” So that’s my biggest encouragement to new moms : choose to enjoy it. It’s okay if you’re not baby crazy! It will look different for you, because you’re you, and that is OK. But it’s always your choice to choose joy!

Email: nancy@nancyrayphotography.com

Web: www.nancyrayphotography.com

Twitter: @nancyray

Instagram: @nancyray

Facebook:  Facebook.com/nancyray

Nancy, what a breath of fresh air your honest words have been. Thank you so much for sharing your journey here with us today! I cannot wait to see how you continue to grow through this adventure of parenthood! Make sure to leave Nancy some lovin' in the comments below! If you have any questions about what it looks like to be a pregnant photographer or the logistics of taking a maternity leave as a small business owner, share them below too! Happy Wednesday everyone!

(Images courtesy of Nancy Ray Photography)

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by Deborah Parker

Prepping for wedding season

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Prepping For Wedding Season

Happy Spring! Well, I think so...up here in the Northeast, I think we’re confused. It SHOULD feel like spring, but it feels a little more like winter...will it ever end?! Regardless of what the weather feels like, it is spring and that means many of us photographers are gearing up for wedding season!

I love this time of year. I love deep cleaning the office, organizing my files and getting everything in order. There are many different steps that I take to insure that my gear, my cards, my computer are prepped and ready for a season of portrait sessions, weddings and editing. Each one of these steps helps me to start on the right footing and enables me to perform at my best. So, where do we begin?

1. Clean Your Office Space. The off season often means doing lots of work behind the scenes. This can mean paperwork strewn about, coffee rings on the desktop and an overflowing trashcan. Declutter, vacuum, clean, do whatever you need to organize your office and keep it clutter free. A clean and organized space will help you stay focused and driven for all the tasks ahead!

2. Organize Your Desktop. Your desktop computer that is! After a year of shooting (and shooting in the off season) your computer’s desktop is probably full with lots of folders strewn about. Cleaning and organizing this area of your computer is a necessary step to stay on top of your work. Here is how I break it down: First, I make sure that any folders on my desktop have been backed up at least in three different places. Once that has happened I know I can delete that folder off of the desktop. Second, at the top of wedding season I try to make sure that my desktop is cleared of almost all folders and projects (unless they are ongoing) so that there is lots of space for new shoots and weddings throughout the season. Third, I create several “drop” areas on the actual desktop where folders can sit while they are being processed (Personal, Current, To Archive, Special Projects etc).

3. Gear Cleaned & Checked. At the beginning of every year I will send off my gear (lenses, camera bodies and any broken equipment) off to Canon Professional Services for cleaning and equipment check. This is a GREAT service for Canon users (Nikon has a similar program). As a Platinum member I know that I can send gear off at the beginning of the week and have it sent back to me clean and ready to go by the end of the week! I love knowing that my gear is in tip top shape before the start of wedding season. As photographers who shoot a LOT, it is highly recommended that you have your gear checked once a year (or more if needed) to ensure that it is in great condition and will keep up with your season throughout the year.

4. New tools. At the end of every season I go through my gear (like bags, flashes and more) to determine what needs to be replaced and needs to be added. This year I purchased a new camera bag, a backdrop and stand, customized lens caps, shotgun mic, cards and more. Some of my fave buys this off season : back drops from DropIt Modern, lens caps from LenzBuddy, camera bag from Kelly Moore, Rode shotgun mic

5. Test, Test, Test. This might be the most important task to accomplish on this list. You always want to test your gear after a season of shooting. Make sure all equipment is working properly. Do you need to purchase new cards that are not functioning? Does a piece of gear need to be serviced? Is your computer running it’s best? Doing all these tests NOW will help ensure that your season will run smoothly.

What are some things that you do to prepare for the start of a new wedding season? Do you have rituals or habits that you walk through before each season begins? How do you prep your office or computer? I’m always looking for suggestions and ideas, so feel free to share! I hope this list is a helpful starting point to get you prepped and ready for your wedding season! Here’s to a successful, fun and exciting year of shooting and stretching our creative muscles! (Just don’t forget to prep before you jump right in:))!

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by Deborah Parker

The Mommy Interviews with Natalie of Whim Events

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I first met Natalie of Whim Events back when I was pregnant with my son, Jonathan. We collaborated together with friend and fellow photographer, Kendra, to pull together a beautiful styled shoot highlighting the best of New England. See you can see all that pretty here!

The first time we met to talk about the shoot I specifically remember thinking “Oh God, please take me seriously!” as I was in my third trimester and VERY pregnant. Little did I know that at that very moment, not only was Kendra secretly pregnant, Natalie was as well! Since our spring shoot in 2013 we have all delivered beautiful babies, are raising adorable toddlers and spend our days blending our titles of Mommy and Business Owner.

Natalie consistently inspires me with her work ethic and passion for creativity. I love the joy she finds in serving her family and clients well. She has so much to share in what it means to be a woman of integrity who loves her family and follows her passion. I’m delighted to invite her to share her heart with you today for another installment of the Mommy Interviews! So please give a warm welcome to Natalie, cofounder of Whim Events!

Welcome Natalie!! First off, how long have you been a Mum?

Exactly 15 months and 9 days. =)

Can you share a little about why you and your business partner started Whim and your vision for the business?

Moira and I started Whim in 2011. She had her own floral design business and I  hired her for my wedding flowers. I was in event marketing at the time. We instantly got along and bartered for services - I would help her with her marketing and she would give me my flowers wholesale. Turns out, we sat down for coffee after my wedding, and found out we both had the same passion for creativity, throwing a kick-ass party and helping others. We both wanted to make other people’s wedding dreams come true and create a breath of fresh air in the wedding industry. So we started Whim. At the time, we had no idea how quickly the business would grow! We have done over 100 weddings together and our vision is still the same - to throw an amazing party with a whole lot of personality, make the planning effortless for the Bride and Groom and work with a team of creatives behind the scenes. We love it so much, it truly never gets old!

Have you always wanted to be a Mom? Were there any decisions or influences in your life that encouraged you to begin your family?

I have always wanted to be a mom. I don’t think I have ever imagined my life without a family or little ones running around! I am blessed to have supportive and inspiring parents who have shown me what it was like to work hard, play hard and love hard. So a family was just a natural step for me. That said, I was not in a hurry to have kids. After my husband and I got married, we spent 2 years just being together and doing the things we liked to do. I honestly have no idea why we decided to start trying when we did (well, except we needed to have a winter baby because of the off-season, and luckily it worked out!). I guess we both just knew it was time!

You gave birth to your first baby, Cecily, in 2013. Would you share about your experience running a business while being pregnant?

For the first 6 months of my pregnancy I was one of those annoying pregnant ladies who LOVED being pregnant. Really. I felt better overall. I was actually less emotional, and more consistently calm. This actually helped me in running the business as I was able to stay even more cool, calm and collected in challenging situations. I also found that it was during my pregnancy when I actually learned to delegate tasks and be a better manager. I am very Type A and like to do things myself, but while pregnant I physically could not. This is actually where I learned to bring on more staff and manage them properly. The hardest part was in the last 2 months when I was diagnosed with cholestasis and hospitalized with complications. Trying to train the team for my maternity leave and work with clients from my hospital bed was so challenging that I finally realized I had to stop. Some clients were uneasy about me going on maternity leave early, and dealing with that was emotional for me, but I knew it was for the best. I was able to pass on my jobs to my amazing team and our clients received better service because of it! Plus, I was able to rest up and stay healthy for my little one.

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The Pinney Family-All Images-0060.jpg

As a small business owner, we have a unique opportunity to determine our own maternity leave. Did you take a maternity leave and how long was it? Can you share your thoughts behind this?

I did take maternity leave. I took 3 months...kind of.  For the first two months I was really great about completely separating myself from work. I spent every day with my little one at home. Luckily, I had Cecily in Whim’s off season,  so we did not have a lot of weddings. However, in the third month, I was asked to plan a wedding for a dear friend who recently lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. At the time, he was just diagnosed and was told he only had a few months left to live.  My team and I planned their wedding in 3 weeks. I was technically on maternity leave, but I just knew it was something I wanted to do.  And truth be told, I really missed helping people. Even if I had not planned that wedding, I think work would have sprinkled its way into my last month of maternity leave anyway. I was lucky because Cecily slept all day as a newborn, so I had a lot of free time! And with that free time came this nagging fear that I was missing out on new opportunities, new business or new partnerships. I love my work, so I did struggle with the guilt of wanting to work during such an amazing time of my daughters life.  So my thoughts on maternity leave are as follows: Take as much time as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you are eager to go back. You are a separate entity outside of your child, and it is ok to want to be that person again!

Following your maternity leave you decided to jump back into running and managing Whim Events full time. You have a very full schedule of weddings, events and meetings. Was the transition difficult?

See above! The other difficult transition was pumping at work and on the go at weddings. Also, trying to find time for myself, work, family and baby! That is still very difficult, one year later.

Are there routines, schedules or rituals that you do with Cecily during the day or throughout the week which makes the balance more manageable?

My favorite ritual is putting her to bed each night. Ever since she was born, my husband and I have always given her a bath after dinner together and then I take her into room, put on her pjs and cuddle her in the rocking chair until she goes down. I love doing it. Its our time. She’s older now, and cuddles much less, but I still attempt to rock her for a few minutes. I also love weekend mornings with my husband and Cecily. She wakes up and Shaun brings her into bed with us. We tickle her and laugh under the covers.The three of us are together and for a few brief moments, there a no obligations other than to be right there. It’s the best!

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The Pinney Family-All Images-0043.jpg

How has parenthood changed you? Was it what you were expecting?

I had no expectations, so I think that helped a lot! I try to just roll with things as much as possible. Being a mom has helped me create a better routine and separate my home life and work life a lot more. When I come home from work, it’s all about being with my family, having dinner, putting Cecily to bed, packing her lunch for the next day, taking a few minutes to talk to my husband and watching our favorite shows together. Being a mom has grounded me and helps me to realize that work can wait until tomorrow!

As a woman who is running a business and following her passions, what kind of example do you hope to set for your daughter Cecily? Is there anything you hope to teach her from your experience?

I hope to teach Cecily to be strong and passionate, but also light-hearted. Having my Type A personality has it’s drawbacks (being a bit too intense at times) so I want to encourage her to find joy and humor no matter how hard she is working. My parents also instilled something in me that I will never forget - they told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I have never let fear stop me from trying new things (yes, I have failed many times and yes, it hurts!). I want Cecily to be eager, open and excited about what the word has to offer her. And if she does not love something, she can try something new without feeling bad about it!

What would be your advice to Moms out there who are balancing a business and family?

My biggest piece of advice is not to listen to advice! Just kidding, sort of. Do what is best for you and your family and what feels right. Every child is different and every parent is different. People love to tell you how to raise your child, but no one is in the exact same situation as you are. If I must give advice ;), I will give the advice of one of my best friends, a working mom who is a mother of 2 boys and partner at a large public relations firm in Washington, D.C.  She said that being working mom is actually not about “balance” at all. That “balance” is actually an unrealistic term we use as a society, and that the real skill is realizing that some days WILL be unbalanced. And that no matter what time you have with your child, even if it’s 20 minutes after a long day at work, its all about the quality of time together...not the quantity. Your child remembers the hugs and the real love you give!

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The Pinney Family-All Images-0050.jpg

What has been your greatest joy being a Mom?

The greatest joy is seeing Cecily smile everyday. Hearing her laugh is the best thing on earth. And honestly, watching my husband become an amazing father has been another great joy. He loves being a dad and is so good with her. And the coolest part about being a mom is watching Cecily grow before our eyes. I remember thinking when she was a newborn, what will Cecily look like with hair?! What will her voice sound like?! It’s awesome to watch these transitions happen and look forward to all of the new ones yet to come! 

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The Pinney Family-All Images-0162.jpg

You can connect with Natalie and the Whim team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and via email info@whimevents. If you would like to contact Natalie about your upcoming wedding or event, you can email her at natalie@whimevents.com. Natalie thank you so much for sharing your heart today! What an encouragement it is to watch as you chase after your dreams and raise your baby girl! You are an inspiration! 

To make this post even more amazing, Natalie has graciously offered to giveaway one ticket to Whim's upcoming floral workshop!! I had the opportunity to photograph their workshop last spring and let me tell you...it is AMAZING! I learned so much about floral design, how to arrange blooms and more!! For the Bride to Be, the DIY'er or if you want a night out with your girlfriends, this is the perfect event!! Don't miss out!! Enter to win a ticket by liking this post, leaving a comment below and visiting us on Facebook! The contest begins today and ends at 12pm today. We'll be sharing the winner on tomorrow! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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by Deborah Parker

Making The Leap To Full Time Part II

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Making The Leap To Full Time

My last post in the Tips with DZP series focused on taking small action steps, stepping out of the "should I or shouldn't" trap and in the direction of your goals. For me that looked like working towards making the leap from news photographer to small business owner and wedding photographer. While I started my business in 2009, it wasn't until 2011 that I became a full time business owner. How did that happen? With much thought and defined action plans. While the journey to full time photographer might look different for everyone, this is what it looked like for me.

Around 2007/2008 someone walked into the newsroom and showed me some images. One her friends was getting married in California and they were looking at photographers. "Check these out," she shared, and I was ENTHRALLED with what she showed me. I was completely blown away with how these photographers were capturing weddings, in their own style, in their own unique way. Up until that point I had only pictured wedding photography as a stiff and cookie cutter. These photographers changed that for me. 

I looked through their websites and blogs and was hooked. I wanted to run my own business. I wanted to capture HAPPY images of people in love. I wanted to do it my way, in my own unique style. From then on I would spend my days in the newsroom dreaming about a future as a wedding photographer. But I had no idea how to actually make that dream a reality. Like I've shared before, my job was SAFE. Jumping into running my own business was NOT. How does one make that decision? Here are  four small steps that I took towards making that dream a reality. 

1. I started small. I began second shooting as much as I could for other photographers. While I was a news photographer I worked weekends, which made shooting on the weddings diffcult. I couldn't jump head first into wedding photography, I HAD to take baby steps that aligned with my work schedule. This allowed me to get my feet wet so to speak with wedding photography and to flush out if I really did like shooting weddings. (hey it's not for everyone!) For me this slowly and steady pace was exactly what I needed. I could take my time, dig deep and make the right decision.

2. I kept my day job. I was lucky, my day job as a news photographer actually involved something I love, photography. So while I was continuing to flesh out this dream of owning my own business, I was still able to persue photography and tell stories with my camera. The best part of keeping my full time professoin though was the stability, security and income my job provided. It was a security blanket of sorts and it gave me a unique opportunity to build my business slowly, without racking up debt or making poor financial decisions. 

3. I attended conferences. In 2010 I attended WPPI for the first time as a "test". I thought if by going to a Wedding & Portrait Photography conference, that I would know for SURE if this was really the path for me. I honestly thought that I would come home from that conference convinced that staying at my newspaper job was the answer. Instead, I was more on fire than ever and determined to become a wedding photographer. This conference was a game changer for me and gave me the confidence and fuel to chase after this dream of wedding photography.

4. I sought out support. Throughout this period, and to this day, I've had an amazing and unwavering system of support from family, friends, photographers or mentors. I've been incredibly fortunate to have a group of people who have poured into me and my business and helped to further this dream of mine. But these relationships didn't just fall into my lap, I've actively sought out relationships with other professionals, people who have deeply impacted me and my business. If there was one thing that has helped me to make the transition from news photographer to full time wedding photographer it would have to be the relationships I've created over the years. I'm incredibly thankful for the people who have generously poured love, support and knowledge into my life. 

Are you transitioning from part time to full time business owner? What have been the things that have helped you along your journey? Have there been people who have poured into your life? For me, slow and steady was the course I needed to take. When it came time to make a decision the path was clear. While the future was unknown, I was ready to take the leap. It's been over four years since leaving my job as a news photographer and I haven't looked back. Having the opportunity to run my own business and photograph JOYFUL couples on their wedding day (and beyond!) has been a dream come true.  If you have any questions about what it looks like to make the leap to full time, leave a comment below or shoot me an email, I'm happy to help! Happy Tuesday folks!

 On Making The Leap To Full Time by Deborah Zoe Photography.

On Making The Leap To Full Time by Deborah Zoe Photography.

Image by Justin & Mary.

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by Deborah Parker

Natural Greenery Fall Wedding Inspiration

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The DZP Fall Workshop

As you may recall, this past fall, I along with the amazing ladies at Whim Events, hosted a photography workshop at my home. It was an AMAZING experience filled with beautiful details and lovely touches! We had high hopes of having the styled portion of the workshop featured on Style Me Pretty and the day finally arrived last week! (See all the pretty here.) Which means we can FINALLY share the images with you!

Whim Events pulled together some of the most unique elements for this shoot. I mean, COPPER PEPPERS, c'mon! If you're planning a fall wedding and are drawn to fresh greens over blooms, then this inspiration shoot is for you! Pull up a chair, grab your favorite drink and let's get to all the pretty, shall we?

THREE CHEERS to the amazing, wonderful, incredible team of vendors who helped being this vision to life!!! Styling : Whim Events | Stationary : Robinson Press | Gowns : Flair Boston | Hair Styling : Hair That Moves | Makeup : Amanda McCarthy Beauty | Rentals : Peterson Party Center | Ribbon : Silk & Willow | Models : DZP couple Alex & Debs | To the wonderful photographers who were a part of this day, thank you thank you thank you!!

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by Deborah Parker

The Mentor Sessions

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Meet Julie

Earlier in January I announced the start of The Mentoring Sessions and my heart behind serving, encourgaging and empowering photographers and small business owners to take big risks and make things happen. It's been a step of faith, but the response has been amazing!

This past week Julie and I kicked things off with the first session of the spring! We met over coffee and talked all things branding, shooting, marketing and more. It was amazing to see how far Julie has has come in her business already. Even more exciting to watch as she pieced together ideas and developed steps she'd like accomplish this year. While I had no voice by the time we were done, I left energized. Julie knows exactly where she wants her business to go and has a passion and a fire to get things done. It's incredibly exciting to be around that kind of energy. Julie's passsion and determiniation are the stuff dreams are made of (and that get things done)!

As part of our time together we stepped outside for a mini portrait session. It was FRIGIDLY cold, but Julie was the best and rocked out her modeling skills! Check out her awesome green checkered coat! Julie I had a BLAST, you have so much to be proud of and lots to look forward to in this year ahead! 

*If you're intersted in The Mentor Sessions, click here for more information and view the remaining dates available for this spring. If you'd like to schedule a Mentor Session for date not listed, please email me at deborah@deborahzoephoto.com to get set up!*

 The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

 The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

 The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

 The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

 The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

 The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

The Mentor Sessions with Deborah Zoe Photography.

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by Deborah Parker

Making The Leap To Full Time Part I

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Stepping Out In The Direction Of Your Dreams

When I first decided to make the leap to become full time wedding photographer I was scared.

No, petrified. I was leaving all that I knew and all that I had worked SO hard for. I went to college and studied to become a news photographer. After school, I spent five years working nights and weekends, covering everything from floods to funerals, courtrooms to football. I won awards and accolades and over time the newsroom became my home. When I found myself giving my two weeks notice to leave my job and chase after my dream, I couldn’t believe it. What was I doing?!

My heart was screaming “Follow Your Dreams” but my rational side was pulling me back. How could I make a living as a wedding photographer? It’s too risky. Your news job is safe. This is where you belong. Stay.

But I knew better. The call to follow my dream was stronger than any rational fear I could conjured up. Sometimes we can get stuck in the back and forth of “should I or shouldn’t I.” We end up never making a decision for fear of what might be. We sit in our discomfort and restlessness and yet never do anything about it.

  1. Do one thing today that leads you in the direction of your goal. I can be a small, simple step. Break free of the “should I or shouldn’t I” and take an actionable step today that will have a tangible impact on your future.
  2. Find help to stay accountable to your goals. Be vulnerable with someone you trust. Confide in someone who will push you to take action steps, who will be candid with you in the journey and who will hold you accountable to the things you are chasing after.

Maybe you need to flesh out your dream, or figure out the costs of pursuing something so risky. Maybe you just need encouragement that, IT IS OK to start something small, different or unsure. Start today. Share you dream with someone you trust. Take an actionable step outside of the “should I or shouldn’t I” mind trap. You may just look back five years later and marvel at how far a simple step towards your goal could take you!

In my next Tips with DZP, I'll be sharing a few tips on how I made the leap from part time to full time wedding photographer and business owner (jumping out of the "should I or shouldn't I" and head first into my dream!) If you have any questions or would like to see a thought addressed in that post, please leave a comment below! I'd love to tailor the content to your questions and thoughts!

Now get out there and DO something!

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by Deborah Parker

Inspire Photo Retreats

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Three Days of Learning, Growing & Connecting

During the months of January - March I am often asked what I spend my time doing?! While I may not be shooting as much as I might say during April - October, I am still VERY busy. Emails, website revamps, file organization, office work, mentoring, it fills my days and keeps me on the go. But since the pace of business life is very diferent this time of year I'm also afforded opportunities that I simply would not be able to under take during the busy months of wedding season, like continuing education. 

It has been a while since I've gone to a workshop or conference so when the opportunity to attend Inspire Photo Retreats came up I just knew I had to take part! And I'm SO glad I did. Inspire is a completely differenct and unique type of conference. One where you are all equal, peers teaching peers, in an approachable, comfortable and friendly environment. Having attended Inspire before I knew that this was the heart behind the conference but I was pleaseantly surprised to see that this kind of atmosphere has only grown and matured in the years since. It was so encouraging and uplifting to be surrounded by peers and friends, each of whom were helping to lift up those around them and empowering others to take big steps. Who wouldn't love being around such awesome-ness? 

As creatives who run businesses it can be very easy to fall into a rut of just trying to run a business. The creativity can often be muddled by the day in day out tasks that need to be accomplished. Taking a few days away from the business to refuel my creative side was SO needed. I left feeling refreshed, rejuvinated and inspired. In short, I cannot wait to head back next year!

So what type of things did I learn at Inspire? 

  • Standing Out In A Saturated Market, learning how I can tape into my unique perspectives and how that translates into the client experience. 
  • Fine Art Wedding Photography, learning how to incorporate film into my digital workflow (SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!)
  • Why You Need To Be Published, learning the ins and outs of blogging and publishing content.
  • The Wedding From Hell, leanring how to handle the many situations that arise on a wedding day and how to create beautiful and artisitc images despite less than ideal conditions. 
  • The Business Plan, learning how to formulate a proper business plan and who that will dramatically effect your efficiecnty and effectiveness in your business
  • Mentoring, I had the opportunity to help mentor three women in various stages of their business. I learned so much just by listening to their unique stories and their visions for their business. If you're reading this, thank you for sharing your hearts!
  • Connecting with Elizabeth from Showit, the company that hosts my website! It was awesome to put a face to product that I love so much and to chat together about how Showit can become even more involved in the New England community. That is what makes Inspire so great!
  • Meeting new friends and see familiar faces with amazing! I even connected with a dear friend who I didn't even know was going to be there, it was an amazing experience from start to finish!

And to top it all off friends, Melissa and Tom from Long Haul Films documented the week's activities and compiled them into an amazing video! I might be biased (they did my promo video!) but I think these two are AMAZING and I was so excited to see them working HARD to get this video made. Check it out, it's pretty great!!

Inspire 2015 - The moments in between from Long Haul Films on Vimeo.

Far right image courtesy of Grazier Photography.

A recap of Inspire Photo Retreats by Deborah Zoe Photography.

Image from Inspire Photo Retreats by Wayne Chinnock.

A recap of Inspire Photo Retreats by Deborah Zoe Photography.

If you've been considering coming to Inspire definitely make it a point to attend in 2016! It truly is a special three days, a place where you can grow as an artist, grow as a business owner and grow relationships with the peers around you! I can't wait to see you there in 2016!

by Deborah Parker