Holly Birch Photography

My Own Headshots | Midwest wedding photographer

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While in Indianapolis for the Reset Conference, I participated in a headshot exchange with my friends Kristin, Heather & Beth.  And a few months prior to the Conference, the staff all got together at my friend Kellie's studio to do team and individual headshots for marketing purposes (those are the ones in the gray sweater at the end of the set).    Thanks to all these talented ladies for updated headshots that better reflect my brand and that I can use for my own marketing! Champaign wedding photographer Holly Birch

Chicago wedding photographer Destination wedding photographer Holly Birch Midwest wedding photographer

studio headshots with nuetral gray tones boots and denim

modern country club wedding photographer Holly Birch natural and candid wedding photographer Holly Birch get to know wedding photographer Holly Birch

How My Business Has Evolved with Technology

photography businesses evolve with technology
photography businesses evolve with technology

I started my business more than 10 years ago when my cousin asked me photograph his wedding. Dave + Val celebrated their 10th anniversary in October -- so happy for them! I had previously worked for another photographer (not in a wedding capacity really, though) for 2 years, and sort of knew my way around a camera. I was honestly probably more prepared for the business aspect of photography than the actual photography itself. And while there are MANY facets to running a photography business, taking the pictures should be the most important!! Anyway, I made it through that wedding, and managed to take some decent photos with my modest equipment. The month prior to the wedding, I bought my first personal DSLR, a Nikon D200, which was a great camera in its own right when it came out, but would definitely be a dinosaur to be now. It wasn’t great in low light, for starters, and many of the images were somewhat grainy even at a low ISO. I had a couple of lenses — a kit lens and an 80-200mm f2.8 lens, which served me well for MANY years and in fact I just sold it this past December and upgraded to the 70-200mm f2.8. Since then I have bought and sold a few different camera bodies and lenses, and now own 3 bodies and 5 lenses plus tons of other equipment for lighting, backdrops, accessories, etc.

comparing work from a decade ago to now
comparing work from a decade ago to now

I can't believe I'm going to do this, but here's a side-by-side depiction of my work 10+ years ago versus my current style of work. It's crazy to see how my technical knowledge and style have changed so much. The photo on the left was photographed in full sun with terrible backlight, at 1/800 f18 and was UNEDITED. Yikes! I don't remember the last time I photographed anything over f5.6!! The photo on the right was at 1/160 f2.5, and I obviously have learned so much more about lighting, editing, color correction, camera control, posing and so much more! That wedding was before my blogging days, but about a year later in the fall of 2007 was when I first blogged any weddings or sessions. I can't believe I've been blogging for NINE YEARS!!

At this point in time, I am pretty happy with my arsenal of lenses, and the only thing I might consider adding or upgrading might be an extra wide angle lens (the widest I have is 24mm), or a new macro lens (my current is a 60mm f2.8 — I’d love something in the 100mm range).

I’ve definitely picked up more technical photography skills along the way too. I’ve taught myself a ton about off-camera flash (and learned from classes and tutorials too), played a bit with the Brenizer method, developed my own Lightroom presets, and moved to digital backups and galleries/downloads for clients. I jumped early on into the blogging bandwagon and learned the importance of SEO and Google marketing. I try to stay active on social media too, and have adopted some of the new platforms that seem to come along every year. Instagram has been great for my business, and I’m slowly starting to incorporate Snapchat as well.

Speaking of technology, there’s a cool new camera technology from Light on the market that might revolutionize the consumer (and professional?) camera industry. It’s called the L16, and it’s combines varying focal length images to create one image that emulates that of a DSLR. The great thing about it though is that it’s the size of a point-and-shoot camera and shaped more like a cell phone. I can see this being a fantastic tool for travel enthusiasts with its complexity, picture quality, and compact design.

If you're looking to start your own business, you should check out this article from ShootDotEdit with a guide to starting a photography business.  It's very thorough, and will help you get a good grasp on what needs to happen to thrive and survive as a professional photographer.

Jen + Jeff | Champaign Country Club wedding | Champaign, Illinois

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We had such a wonderful day on Saturday!! Jen + Jeff make a great pair, and even though their wedding day was the first time I had officially met them (outside of a couple of Skype meetings!), I could tell that they complement each other so well. Jen is originally from Champaign, but the couple now lives near the east coast so they weren't too specific choosing places to go for photos, and left it mostly up to me. We started out in downtown Champaign near the Orpheum and around Main St. Even though it was the middle of the day, we were able to find some good shady spots and cranked out a bunch of amazingness in major humidity -- their wedding party members were troopers! The one request Jen did have was to get a few shots with a cornfield, and with the help of our Elite Limos driver, we found the perfect spot! Then it was back to the Champaign Country Club to cool off a bit, do a few family photos, and get ready for the outdoor ceremony. The ceremony was situated on golf course under a couple of nice shade trees. I particularly loved the rose ceremony they did, where each family member came up and added a color-coded rose to a bouquet. Such a neat idea! Following a delicious and neatly presented cocktail hour, we got ready for the dinner reception in the main ballroom, featured live music from The Shenanigans who put on an awesome show! I did sneak Jen + Jeff outside just after sunset again for a couple more portraits, and I'm so happy we did! Congrats, Jen + Jeff, on your new marriage and I wish you both the best!

Leave a comment below for Jen + Jeff and after 50 comments, they'll receive a complimentary 11x14" mounted print of their choice. :)

Badgley Mischka shoe dress and jewelry details

bride getting dressed with crochet hook

groom donning his suit

First Look between bride and groom at Champaign Country Club

wedding party in downtown Champaign at Orpheum

bridesmaids in coral dresses with orange white flowers

elegant stunning bride in lace high neckline

gray and coral bridesmaids and groomsmen

wedding portrait with ivy wall

bride and groom with ivy wall

midwestern bride bridal portrait

urban wedding photos with Illinois bride and groom

industrial wedding party photo

bride and groom snuggling in downtown Champaign

street photo of downtown Champaign cityscape

bride and groom at Hyatt Place Champaign

wedding party with cornfields

coral wedding details at Champaign Country Club

adorable ring bearer and flower girl giggling

father giving his daughter away

outdoor wedding ceremony at country club

country club wedding photographer

the new Mr. & Mrs.

passed hors d'oeuvres at cocktail hour

Cake Artists Studio cake and English Hedgerow flowers with popcorn bar

bride and groom entrance into ballroom

wedding first dance with live music

cutting the cake and toasts

sunset golden hour on the golf course

father-daughter and mother-son dance in Champaign

candid reception dancing photos with live band The Shenanigans

#andragle #jeffifer #jeffiferandragle

Vendors Ceremony + Reception: Champaign Country Club Wedding planner: Nuptiae, Gwen Wilson Cake: Cake Artist's Studio Florist: English Hedgerow Band: The Shenanigans Bride's gown: White Swan Bridal, Vienna, VA Bridesmaids dresses: RenzRags on Etsy Suits: Men's Wearhouse Instrumentalists: First Choice Music Services, Barbara Hedlund Transportation: Elite Luxury Limos Invitations: Carlson Crafts Linens: BBJ Linens Jewelers: King's Jewelry, Alexandria, VA + Memory Lane, Saegertown, PA Hair + Makeup: BJ Grand Salon & Spa Photographer: Holly Birch Photography