Spring Snappy Hour!

29 Apr

Winter’s over and the busy season is upon us… the perfect reason to squeeze in a drink with the Betties! We’ll be at Plough and the Stars this Thursday, May 2 from 6-8 pm. There’s on-street parking, a lot next door, and it’s a 1/2 block walk from the 2nd/Market SEPTA stop if you’re taking mass transit. Hope to see you there!



Summer Snappy Hour!

28 Jun

We’re very excited to announce that our next Snappy Hour is going to be Monday, July 30th at El Vez from 6:30-8:30 pm! It’s been a good, long while, we’ve received a lot of emails in anticipation, AND we’ve missed everyone and want to catch up and connect with newbies… so come grab a drink, some chips and salsa and catch up with the Betties!

El Vez is located in “Midtown Village”, at 121 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. There’s on-street parking, a lot around the corner on Sansom, and if you’re not driving it’s a few blocks from Market Street East and Broad Street/Market Street SEPTA stations.

A Lovely Workshop 2012

27 Apr

If you love film, or beautiful, whimsical images, you’ve likely heard of Elizabeth Messina or her super sweet blog, Kiss the Groom. Her work is ethereal, adorned with lovely light and has a truly distinctive, feminine flair. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak at WPPI, and her personality, kindness and down-to-earth nature match her work to a “t”.

Elizabeth just recently announced that registration for her “A Lovely Workshop” is open – and it’s coming to the East Coast, right in our backyard actually! The 800-acre farm is just outside of Philadelphia, where “we will explore the country side & the many acres of the beautiful farm, home to 100’s of horses.” The three-day event is being held on July 10-12th, with a welcome gathering on the 9th, and includes a long list of impressive collaborators, including Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty, Leah MacDonald of Waxworks (who you may remember from our meeting in 2011!), Shira Savada of Martha Stewart Weddings, Claire Pettibone of Twigs & Honey, Adrienne Page of Velvet Raptor and Wiley Valentine.

Shoots are scheduled each day where Elizabeth will educate and inspire attendees on light, branding, marketing and getting published, connecting with your clients, booking destination weddings, expanding your business and much more. There’s also tons of goodies, including a signed copy of her new book, The Luminous Portrait.

Check out the website for details, investment and specifics. And if you’re interested, don’t wait! Registration is limited to 20 students!

Member Spotlight : Lori Gail Tolsma

5 Apr

Lori Gail Tolsma
Weddings, Newborn Portraiture
Website: www.lorigail.com

Are you a morning or evening person? I’m a NIGHT person to the extent that you might even call me an EARLY morning person! Thankfully, my family is able to enjoy a later schedule with me. Midnight hot-chocolate read-alouds are more fun to us than groggy mornings.

Coffee or tea? I adore both, and all hot drinks have a place of honor in my home – but a proper mocha is my first love.

Something that’s overrated: Any “art” that’s ugly or putrid. It’s just moody and self-important. I want art to elevate me, not disgust me.

Something that’s underrated: Old school rules of composition — there are reasons why these rules have visually compelling results. Also underrated: Tailors. Parsnips. Mondays.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Hmm…a few favorites. My twin-sister’s chicken pot pie — oh, it’s gourmet. In-N-Out Burger. And I like pear-flavored jelly-beans for road trips.

Website/blog(s) you visit daily: Five of my close friends and I started a private Facebook group. (I really recommend this.) I’m there daily for a meeting of minds…and some belly laughs. I regularly check Style Me PrettyNikon RumorsBurns Auto PartsLa Petite Fleur, friends’ personal blogs, and a few political and theological blogs. I visit Kiss the GroomJose Villa and Liz Banfield for my film fix!

Who is the photographer that inspires you most? Am I really limited to one? There are so many angles (so to speak) to admire and so many photographers. Technically, Susan Stripling and Cliff Mautner are masters of light, especially under the pressures and constraints of a wedding day. On business and art, Karen Carey conveys such feeling in her work and combines that with shrewd business sense. I’m fascinated by good, interesting portraiture, like Annie Leibovitz’s older work and Ben Baker’s. One of my favorite photographers is Toddlertoes’ (aka Heleen, a Flickr member). She sees what is exquisite in the ordinary every time. That’s inspirational to me.

Tell us about your very first shoot: My first shoot was too easy! I photographed a high school senior who happened to be gorgeous, photogenic, and happy. Couldn’t ask for more.

What is the one thing in your bag you would throw yourself in front of a speeding train for? As much as I love my Nikon D3s (it’s an incredible tool), my Dad’s old Nikon FM has the most sentimental value to me. He worked hard for that camera and shot many rolls of film with it — with no meter!

I am passionate about: Handfuls of dandelions, little teeth under pillows, fresh linens, rim light, jagged newborn hair, dessert, all four parts of a hymn.

To tweet or not to tweet: To tweet! I love Twitter. In the right hands it’s brilliant. But I haven’t jumped in yet myself. I’m considering it… @lorigail

What are the top 5 things on your “photographer’s wish list”?

Fun! I wish to:

– purchase the new Zeiss Distagon T* 2/25 Lens. Yes, I would.

– hire an office manager.

– have a wedding published in Real Simple Weddings. It’s such a lovely publication. There are so many good publications but I love their clean look.

– shoot a wedding with FILM only. (Digital is so wonderful, don’t get me wrong.)

– As long as I’m dreaming, I’d also like one of those high-end espresso makers. Can I include that? Because I’m sure it would help my work. : )

What do you find most difficult about being a photographer?
For me, being a photographer also means being a business owner. Since I have a very robust home life with many welcome demands on my attention and time, I chase balance and good priorities every day. That is work and and it’s an ever-moving target.

What do you find most rewarding?
What I find most rewarding is when someone responds emotionally to my photography. I’m moved by good photography and good art, so when my work resonates with people, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Member Spotlight: Susannah Gill

27 Jan

Susannah Gill Photography
Weddings & Family Photojournalism
Website: www.susannahgill.com
Blog: www.susannahgillblog.com

Are you a morning or evening person? Evening for sure!

Coffee or tea? 100% English… can you guess?

Something that’s overrated: Yellowy old-fashioned looking images. How will they look when they really are old?

Something that’s underrated: Being nice to others.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Hmmm, a toss up between grilled cheese and tomato soup or nachos.

Website/blog(s) you visit daily: Facebook, its great for business and I also love seeing other photographers’ work! I can get lost going from one blog to another! I love the blogs, I guess I really enjoy the writing and seeing current work.

Who is the photographer that inspires you most? I loved Sally Mann’s work of her children. Currently I’m into Elliott Erwitt – I saw him speak a few years ago and I loved his personality. Some man stood up and said,”Sir, what ISO were you at in that shot?” Elliot laughed and said, “I don’t know! I saw something interesting so I took a picture!” That’s my kind of photographer – he shoots from the heart!

Tell us about your very first shoot: I shot a 4-hour wedding with one camera, 1G memory card and no extra batteries. I had to use the bathroom a few times just to delete images from the card! Towards the end my battery was dying! Live and learn – til this day I still learn something on every shoot that I bring to my next shoot – sometimes it is about gear, lighting or people.Thats one of the things that is so amazing about photography and being a location photographer – its never the same thing twice – even if it is the same location, the people and the light are always different!

What is the one thing in your bag you would throw yourself in front of a speeding train for? Nothing, that is what photography insurance is for. I use Hill & Usher, they give me great peace of mind – plus some reception venues insist that you have it! But the one thing I would be totally bummed if I forgot at home would be what I call my “baby”, the 70-200mm lens. It allows me to get far away from my clients so they can relax and interact with each other more naturally.

I am passionate about: Women taking advantage of living in a country like ours that allows women to have the same rights, privileges and opportunities as men. I have traveled and studied in places were woman are not so lucky and when I see women who CAN but DONT, it upsets me. We get one spin on this Earth, live your dreams if you can!

To tweet or not to tweet: Ugh, my husband tweets for me but honestly I don’t get it – though a few jobs have come in from Twitter…

What are the top 5 things on your “photographer’s wish list”?

1) Complete knowledge on how to use EVERY aspect and EVERY function and EVERY button on my camera.

2) To have ALL my clients call, email or text their appreciation when they see something they like (their happiness is the most wonderful fuel!)

2.5) To be ok with it when they don’t – at times it make make me really sad and disappointed – especially if I really love the work I created for them.

3) To have perfect color correction abilities – if only I could correct for each and every monitor that the images are seen on!

4) To have a flash that keeps up with me on wedding days!

5) To have a group like the Betties here in NYC!!!

What do you find most difficult about being a photographer?
Oh I am sure there are tons of things technologically speaking and emotionally speaking – but honestly I love it so much even the difficult parts are exciting to work through!

What do you find most rewarding?
When the image you captured in your camera is just how you saw it with your eye. A moment forever suspended in a rectangle.

Mobile Websites: Where it’s at

24 Jan

Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you’ve probably heard the buzz about Flash versus “Standards” based websites. If you own an iPad or iPhone, you know that Flash-based websites (or flash enabled components, like slideshows) don’t load since Apple doesn’t support Flash, which can be a real pain, both for the website owner and the user.

So how does this impact photographers specifically?

Well, to start off, statistics from early last year showed that nearly one-third of American adults owned a smartphone of some kind and preferred using it as their primary Internet connection. As these numbers are growing.

This instant access to the web lets them be quick and spontaneous – and in most cases is immediately gratifying. So if a potential client visits your site from their iPhone and can’t load your beautiful portfolio of images, they’ll move on to a site that does work. It’s possible that they’ll return to visit from a desktop computer, but is it worth the gamble?

The big question is: How important is having a website that works on a mobile device?

The nice folks over at Internet Marketing Grind recently released an infographic which has some pretty interesting data:

"Why You Should Have A Mobile Website" courtesy of http://www.imgrind.com

Not only do the numbers make a convincing point, but having a mobile friendly site says something about your brand, that you’re a skilled professional who’s up-to-date with technology and the web.

What options are out there?

Baby Steps

If you’re looking to make your current site more mobile friendly and don’t want an overhaul, there are small things you can do, some with the help of a Web Developer. Here’s 5 steps to get you on the right path.


If you’ve been considering making a small-scale change and updating your site but don’t have the know-how, connections or money to spend, there are a few companies out there who specialize in customizable templates.

One place that’s ahead of the curve is iFolios, whose affordable, WordPress-driven, customizable sites are clean, smart and stylish, and work without flash. They also look as stunning on your desktop computer as they do on an iPhone screen. Check out the samples on their site.

Want to know how do they do it? Check out their handy dandy video:

What Is iFolios? from Site Admin on Vimeo.

Another cool company is Cliqbooq – which offers lower pricing through monthly installments rather than larger up-front payments. With a slew of benefits including SEO, unlimited design changes and a 14-day trial – it’s a worthwhile option.


If you’re looking for more customization and can spend a bit more, companies like Livebooks offer mobile-friendly sites as well, and have the benefit of a larger pool of designers and years of experience in the wedding and portrait photography industry to lend. They offer a free trial too.

If you’re a comfortable with customizing a site yourself, you might like Squarespace, who boasts “Templates That Aren’t Templated” and hand over structured creative control, customization and data access. Worried you can’t handle it? They assure visitors that there’s “No experience necessary… You don’t need to be a professional to create a powerful website with Squarespace. We handle all the technical details, so you can focus on what matters most to you. With our easy-to-use controls, your site will be up and running in minutes.”

So, there’s the rundown of why we think mobile-friendly sites are beneficial and some useful ways to make yours mobile-compatible. What do you think? Are you hip to the movement or still have passion for sexy flash slideshows and effects? Don’t think it really makes a difference? Let us know!

Welcome to 2012! Betties 2.0!

6 Jan

Welcome to the New Year! We know that things have been a little quiet lately, and we all know why – two words: Wedding Season. But that’s not the only reason we’ve been busy. Behind the scenes we’ve been hard at work crafting some new ideas and directions for our organization that we hope will add value and benefit to each and every one of our members that has supported us so far!

First of all – we have a new URL! Though our old one will still remain active and redirect, our new and improved web address is www.photobetties.org. Update your bookmarks!

Also, you may have noticed a few guest posts authored by Betty Editors. This is a new featured role we’re offering to our most enthusiastic members to help bring a fresh voice to the blog and to inspire new thoughts and ideas beyond the founders. Look for more great additions to this program throughout 2012 – and if you are interested in becoming a Betty Editor, let us know!

We’re also working on partnerships with vendors such as Two Bright Lights and other local and national brands that we all know and love to bring special offers and exposure exclusively to verified members. We also plan to implement more events for non-members to network with us – second shooters, assistants, industry vendors etc.  This is an area we will be focusing on greatly as the organization continues to expand. After all, membership should have it’s priviledges, right?

Finally, we’re just tickled pink to see how quickly we have grown! Thanks to all of you, we have been able to make a real difference in the lives and businesses of so many photographers in our area and we want to continue to do so! Many of the changes coming about are in response to the overwhelming support we’ve gained since June 2010. As a result, we’ll be rolling out real, bona fide membership guidelines soon to help grow our organization and allow us to focus our efforts on rewarding those who really embody the Betty spirit! All of you!

So strap on your hats, we’re in for an even more exciting ride this year!

The 2nd Annual Photo Betties Post-Holiday Extravaganza

6 Dec

It’s that time of year again! Lights and decorations, shopping, sending out cards and getting all those last-minute portraits sessions and weddings out the door (plus all the orders!).

Once the holidays have passed and you’ve had time to enjoy a nice quiet month with friends and family, it’ll be time again for the 2nd Annual Photo Betties Post-Holiday Extravaganza! This year it will be held at a fellow Photo Bettie’s home in West Philly on Saturday, February 4th, 2012!

Come one, come all to celebrate, catch up, eat and hit the photobooth! Feel free to bring along your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/good friend/assistant… it’s the one Betties event that’s made for everyone!

If you received an invitation for last year’s party you’re on the list. If you didn’t or aren’t sure and are interested in attending, contact us at info@phillyphotobetties.com.

Happy Holidays!

Shoot the Shot Workshop

5 Dec

One of our fabulous Photo Betties, Isabel March, is hosting a workshop on January 26th at her studio in Perkasie, PA. She’ll be covering tons of great topics including business, getting started, client meetings, branding, marketing, social media, creating a signature style and more! Space is limited so act fast! Here’s the 411:

Member Spotlight: Katie McMenamin

1 Dec

Katie McMenamin
Katie McMenamin Photography
Newborns, Kids, Families, Maternity, Couples
Website: http://www.kmcmenamin.com
Blog: http://blog.kmcmenamin.com

Are you a morning or evening person? Definitely evening. I’m ashamed to admit it but I’d sleep until 10 every day if I could.

Coffee or tea? Coffee, iced lattes in the spring/summer and 3 pump, nonfat, pumpkin spice lattes in the fall/winter.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Mashed potatoes with lots of butter. Yum!

Something that’s overrated: Saying that things are “amazeballs.” That is not a word. What is up with that?

Something that’s underrated: Cute flats. Why are all cute shoes heels? I’m on an eternal hunt for non-boring flats.

Website/blog(s) you visit daily: Facebook. Crappy Pictures – I don’t even have kids and this site cracks me up. Smitten Kitchen – I’ve recently started cooking more and this site is great for inspiration, although it makes me a little sad that my kitchen never looks as neat as her’s when I’m cooking.

Who is the photographer that inspires you most? Top on my list would probably be Tara Whitney; her photos just have such an easy feel. My dream is to have kids and then have her photograph my family.

Tell us about your very first shoot: If we’re going non-paid, my first shoot was 4 friends, in a park in 80s prom dresses. I think my style has evolved a bit since then. 🙂

What is the one thing in your bag you would throw yourself in front of a speeding train for? All of it. I’d tell the train to take me and save my gear. Just kidding!

I am passionate about: If I could, I’d have a huge house full of rescued animals. As it is, I have two dogs and two cats!

To tweet or not to tweet: Well, considering I don’t even have a twitter account I’m going to have to say “not to tweet.” I wish I were better about social networking, but it’s just not my thing.

What are the top 5 things on your “photographer’s wish list”?

Natural light studio. That is all.

What do you find most difficult about being a photographer?
Most difficult is definitely the feeling of constantly having something that I could be doing; a photo to edit, an email to respond to, an order to place. It can be a bit exhausting.

What do you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing is working with my clients. There are not too many jobs where people pay you and then write you a thank you note. It’s pretty great.