Winter Wrigley Building Engagement Session | Charlie & Michelle

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I met Charlie and Michelle for their engagement session at the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago only to find three things: 1) Their outfits perfectly matched the Christmas decorations on the building (without planning this, I might add), 2. We picked probably the busiest spot in Chicago for that particular day and 3) They were an absolute joy to work with and had so much fun with it!

The Wrigley Building is one of my favorite locations to photograph at in Chicago because of its clean, neutral architecture and the city vibe it provides. It’s a very Chicago-y location because Michigan Avenue is one of Chicago’s most well-known streets, plus a lot of Chicago’s major skyscrapers are all visible from there.

The annual tree lighting parade just so happened to be happening later that night near where we were photographing at, but that didn’t stop Michelle and Charlie. They were just as excited for their session as I was!

When Michelle showed up with her perfectly festive green skirt, I knew we HAD to utilize the Wrigley Building’s Christmas garlands and red bow ties. And that skirt? My oh my, it was perfect for twirling and swishing because it was so flowy! Charlie looked so well put together in his suit and dress coat. These two definitely knew how to dress to impress.

Despite the giant puddles from the snow melting and then turning into rain earlier that day, Michelle and Charlie weren’t phased by it at all! They twirled in the puddles without any worry.

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Talk about a couple who makes even Chicago’s gloomiest days look beautiful.

The best part was how joyful and happy the two of them were during our time together! Charlie constantly had Michelle giggling and the way that Charlie look at his bride-to-be? Geez!

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Outfit number two was festive too. I think these two have their Christmas cards covered.

After our session, they headed out to dinner since they were already dolled up, something I like to encourage all of my couples to do. You’re already glammed up, why not make the most of it, right?

I am so excited to photograph their wedding next summer at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue and the Warwick Allerton. These two are definitely down for some more adventuring through Chicago for some gorgeous photos, I can already tell. ;)

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Why I Love Using Dubsado for my Business

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Many business owners out there are very loyal to their CRM tool (Client Relations Management) and I’m no different. Dubsado has my heart. Just don’t tell my husband, please.

With the new year coming up, Dubsado is raising their prices from $30 to $35 (monthly) and from $300 to $350 (yearly). As an affiliate, I can offer new subscribers 20% off their first month or year, so I figured I would take this as an opportunity to recruit more to the Dubsado fam! Prices go up on November 27 at 4 pm PST so act fast!

Not only do I love Dubsado because it helps me keep track of my leads/inquiries, current clients and past clients, but it does so much more for me. Here are a few reasons why I love using Dubsado for my business.

Free Client Migration

If you are thinking about jumping on board with Dubsado but already are set up with a different CRM software like Honeybook, don’t let that defer you. They offer free client migration. They call it White Glove Migration. Here’s what’s included: Migration from one system, jobs and contracts attached to them, import of client date if your previous CRM allows for a mass export, invoices and payments made on that invoice and forms on projects can be brought over as PDFs. You can learn more about White Glove Migration here.

New Scheduler Software

Say goodbye to your scheduling software like Calendly or Acuity because the Dubsado scheduler is FREE with a paid Dubsado plan. I’ve been waiting for this ever since they began teasing it. The scheduler allows you to have your clients set up appointments with you. They can choose the date and time from a calendar with your available time slots. It helps a ton with avoiding double booking and allows you to easily narrow down your appointment options, so you don’t overwhelm your clients. You know how easy it is to make a dentist appointment with a company that allows you to do it entirely online? That’s this.

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Read Receipts for Clients            

Something I love about the email system with Dubsado is it tracks whether or not a client has opened up an email that I sent them from Dubsado. This helps me a ton when I am trying to determine how soon after my initial email I should be following up with them. It also helps me gage whether or not a person received my email and is aware of the information in it, but just didn’t reply to it because they didn’t need to.

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Integration With Other Softwares

Dubsado integrates with my Quickbooks account as well as my Square and PayPal accounts so I can easily have clients pay me, either directly through their PayPal account or with a credit card.

One of my favorite integrations is the one with CloudSpot. CloudSpot is what I use to send my clients their photo galleries (You can get 25% off your first year’s subscription cost + free image migration with this link!) I can easily send a client gallery directly from Dubsado with a cute little button for clients to view. This way, I know when my clients are viewing and opening up their emails with their gallery link too!

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Branding Consistency

You are able to tie in elements of your brand within your Dubsado with your logo, brand colors and how you customize your forms with brand images. I love this because I feel like my clients get a consistent view of my brand, whether on my website or receiving an invoice from me from Dubsado.

Invoicing and Contracts

Invoicing and contracts were the two reasons I originally onboarded with Dubsado. I was looking for a way where I could send my clients invoices and contracts entirely online, so that I could eliminate mailing checks and signed contracts all together. It’s so quick too! I can now send over a contract and invoice to a client and it takes them less than 5 minutes to review everything and sign! The best part is they have tons of templates too if you are looking for guidelines and sample contracts.

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Client Questionnaires

I send client questionnaires a few different times during my client experience and I love how Dubsado allows me to send questionnaires entirely online for my clients to fill out. My clients love the ease of it all and I do too!

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Automation and Workflows

One of my absolute favorite features in Dubsado is how you can automate a ton of your workflows. To be honest, I am still learning exactly how I want my workflow to be, but I do have the initial inquiry process automated with Dubsado and I couldn’t love it more. When someone inquires with me on the form on my website (The form is made on Dubsado which was then integrated into my site), it automatically sends them my pricing guide. I love this because I don’t have to be checking my email every 20 minutes, refreshing it to see if a new inquiry has come in.

Before Dubsado, I always felt like I was losing out on an opportunity to make money, but now that my initial inquiry process is completely automated, I don’t worry about it anymore. When someone completes the form on my site, they get a message that says to check their email for a pricing guide with more information. From there, once they open their email, the email explains to them my pricing and also mentions I will be in touch with them soon. This cuts down so much of my stress!

Great Customer Service Team

I have never met a customer service team that does a better job than Dubsado. Seriously guys. Not only do they have a Facebook group specifically for their users where you can ask questions to each other and have a sense of community, but their help center on their site is completely responsive. The best part? They actually listen to feedback they get form their users.

Client Portal

I am still nailing down my overall client experience, but a huge plus for Dubsado is its ability to create a client portal for each of your clients. Basically, all it is is a place for them to log into and see all of their emails, forms, questionnaires, contracts and invoices all in one place. It’s super easy to set up too! You just create a log in and password for your clients. I’ve even seen some photographers or other business owners create login access directly on their homepage, making it easy for clients to remember where to go to log in and see their account.

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Final Thoughts

Friends, the best part is you do not need to be a photographer to use Dubsado. You can be any type of creative or business professional who is looking for a way to master their system, excel with their client experience and keep track of their business better.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to lock in the cheapest pricing you will find before the new year! Lock in a special rate, plus 20% off your first year or month using the affiliate code “ashleydahlphotography”. Sign up now. 

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10 Things I Learned in My First Year of Business

10 Things I Learned in My First Year of Business

Starting a business is difficult. September officially marks be being a full blown business for a year now and I’ve crafted ten things that I learned during my first year in business as a wedding and lifestyle photographer in Chicago, Illinois.

Danny and Ericka's Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge Engagement Session

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It was an absolute joy photographing Ericka and Danny for our summery engagement session in downtown Minneapolis! We ventured to the Stone Arch Bride and Father Hennepin Bluff Park for their session and the night couldn't have been more perfect! After two straight days of rain, the drizzling finally stopped just in time for our fun downtown.

We started the evening out by heading to Father Hennepin Bluff Park for a few photos on the bridge. For two people who said they were slightly camera shy, these two didn't act like it! Danny was constantly making Ericka giggle and laugh. Their witty personalities were fun to photograph because they love to joke around and mess with each other.

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They brought along their hockey jerseys for some photos on the Minneapolis landmark. These two were pretty ambitious wearing University of North Dakota Sioux hockey uniforms in University of Minnesota Gopher territory, but they have team pride! The Stone Arch Bridge and the Minneapolis skylinewere the cherry on top.

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The two of them enjoy basically anything that involves hockey and beer. Some of their favorite things are watching movies together, exploring the outdoors and going out to eat. They made dinner plans to Olive Garden after our engagement session since they were dressed up so nicely! I was a bit jealous…

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Ericka has been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a little girl so she loves every piece of the wedding planning process. Picking out her dress was a really special day. Danny played a very important role in the planning process because he got to pick out the venue all on his own.

I can’t wait for their wedding next June at the Eagan Community Center in Eagan, Minnesota!


Enjoyed this? Check out these resources that may interest you! 

5 Fun Photo Ideas to Incorporate Into Your Wedding Day

There's so much more to your wedding photos beyond the family formals and photos during the ceremony. Have some fun with your wedding photographer with these five photo ideas that you can do on your wedding day!

1. Pop the Champagne

Let's pop the bubbly! This is a super fun photo to tie into your wedding day, especially if your wedding party is a lively and energetic group. My friend Micah Jane Photography taught me this trick.

The key is to plug the spout with your thumb, similar to if you were to plug a spraying hose, and shake until KABOOM! Just be sure not to point it directly at your photographer. The natural reactions will be priceless.

2. Thank You Card Photo

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I wish that my husband and I got this photo for our wedding! This is a great photo to ask your photographer to get, especially if you plan on sending out a thank you card to your guests. You can get them made into photo postcards, or just include this photo in the card.

Something else that is a fun photo to do on your wedding day is to bring other holiday props with like a flag for the 4th of July, or a sign that says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. You'll be set for various holidays for years to come!

3. Love Letters

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Writing a letter to your significant other to open and read on your wedding day is always a great photo opportunity because of all of the raw, real emotions. You could either do this before your first look, or substitute it for the first look, and read them while holding hands, but not seeing each other like what Emma and Wesley did.

4. Visiting Somewhere Special

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I love when my couples set aside some dedicated time to travel to different places for their portrait time together! Kristina and Donovan wanted to visit the location they had their first date at, so we stopped at Black Dog in Urbana, IL.

5. Sunset Sneak-out

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Photographers looooveeee golden hour because the lighting is prime for portraits, so if you and your photographer are down to sneak out for 10-15 minutes to get some photos taken when the lighting is at it's best, you won't regret it. Plus, at this point in the wedding day, you've already let loose and are just having fun!

Check out these resources that may interest you!

6 Reasons Why You Should Print Your Wedding Photos

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A lot of couples tend to shy away from forking over more cash to get their wedding photos printed, but I'm here to tell you 5 reasons why you should be getting the photographs that were taken on the best day of your life, your wedding day, printed.

1. Touching combined with seeing is so powerful

There's something to be said for actually holding a textured, leather wedding album or smooth matte prints in your hands. Not only can you see what you looked like at the moment the photo was taken, but remembering how you felt when the photo was taken is so much more powerful when you are actually touching a photo.

2. You see each photo

When you look through a print box or a wedding album of your photos, you are taking the time to actually look at each photo individually, rather than scrolling through an online gallery and getting lost between images. A lot of times when you scroll through an online gallery, a lot of the photos tend to blend together and look so much more a like. When you take the time to physically flip through the pages of a wedding album, you get to experience each photo.

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3. Weddings tell a story

When you look through your wedding album, you are literally reading a story book. From the getting ready photos where you're sipping mimosas with your gal pals, to the sparkler exit, you are viewing your wedding story from start to finish. When you get to view prints of your story, you get to experience it in such a different way than you would by simply scrolling through your online gallery.

4. Looking at prints can become a tradition

Make it a tradition to flip through your wedding album or go through the print box of your wedding photos that is sitting on your coffee table in your living room whenever you have family over for the holidays or it's a wedding anniversary. Revisiting the prints this way can make you so much more emotionally connected with your wedding photos than plugging in a usb drive into your laptop and scrolling through.

5. Photos are meant to be pieces of artwork

Not sure what to hang above the cute little coffee station you have in your kitchen's entryway? What about the photo of you and your love twirling at sunset on the evening of your wedding? Your wedding photos become a piece of your home when they are displayed, not just something shoved in a drawer somewhere.

6. You can pass them on for future generations

You know how as a kid, our parents printed so many photos of us? Whether it was a family vacation at Disney World or our sister's Barney themed birthday party, our memories were printed. We could flip through those albums whenever we wanted to go down memory lane. Now imagine if our children don't get to experience the same thing because everything is on an iPad or laptop?

Let not only your currently family experience the joy you had on your wedding day, but allow your future family to experience it too. How special would it be to have your grandchildren's children be able to touch, feel and hold the album you received from your wedding photographer shortly after your wedding day?

Ultimately, your photos are meant to be viewed. Allow one of the best days of your life a chance to be a piece of your home, whether it's through wall art, a linen album or a box of prints.

Here are a few resources that may interest you!

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5 Important Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer

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Let's be real. Asking questions about marriage and weddings is tough, especially when you've probably never gotten married before and don't know really know what to ask.

Here are a few questions you probably aren't asking wedding photographers before hiring them, but should be.
 

What photography style(s) do you specialize in?

This question is so important and often gets overlooked. While it is important to hire a photographer who possesses skills of taking great photos, it's important to know what type of photos you can expect to get in return.

Does your photographer have more of a dark and moody editing style, or light and airy? Do they like to utilize natural light or do they shoot a majority of their photos with flash? Do they pose their couples or just capture them naturally? Do they find themselves photographing in a documentary style? Being creative and artistic in their photos? These are all important to truly understand your photographer's overall style!

For example, my editing style is bright, light and colorful. I like my photos to be a close representation of how they are seen in real life with an added "wow" factor. Check out more of my work by visiting my gallery.

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I will absolutely pose you, but not in an uncomfortable "we're going to our senior prom and mom made us take a photo like this on the stairs" type of way! I will get you into a "pose" that flatters your body and makes you look awesome on camera, then I will give you a prompt or something to do. Trust me, you'll be giggling and laughing real laughs and giggles! I will take artistic and creative photos as well as documentary style photos so you can re-live moments of your day that you may not have seen or been apart of.

What exactly is included in your packages?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this question, but it's important to ask so that you are aware of what your budget is getting you and what you need to be thinking about as far as purchasing it later on down the road. Some photographers offer prints or albums in their packages, some just offer the digital photos.

It's also wise to ask your photographer what happens if you would like to book them for more time or if an engagement session is included in their packages.

Don't forget to also ask if you are able to purchase prints and albums through your photographer, even if they don't list them in their packages. This is an easy way to get great quality prints through the expertise of your photographer!

As for me, I have various hourly packages, all with the option to purchase prints, albums or canvases once you get your photos back. In my top two packages, I offer complimentary engagement sessions to my couples. If a couple would like to book me for additional time after signing a contract, no biggie I have an additional hourly rate that I charge them.

Interested in learning more about the wedding experience with me? Click here!

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Want to inquire about my wedding photography pricing? Click here!

What is the deposit and total fee?

Not only is this important to know so you can anticipate how much you will be spending, but it is also important to know when it is due. This way you can line up your budget calendar and see when the big bucks are all going to be due for all of your other wedding vendors like the florist or venue.

Who photographs my wedding if you aren’t able to?

This is a question I think a lot of photographers don't like answering because let's face it, we don't like thinking about the slight possibility of not being able to capture your big day! When asking this question, it is important to realize that even though we would like to have on a big coat of armor and be indestructible, we are humans too.

When do I get to see my wedding photos?

Some photographers will send out next-day sneak peeks, while some won't send out any photos until you get your final gallery. It's also important to ask how long the process typically is.

There is nothing wrong with a photographer having a turn around time of 2 weeks and there is nothing wrong with a photographer having a turnaround time of 2 months. Typically, a photographer's turnaround time is determined by how many sessions or weddings they are currently working on, if they are able to outsource their editing and have someone else do some of it, or how many photos are promised in delivery.

Many more factors go into a photographer's turnaround time, but it's just sort of nice to know when you can expect that "Your Gallery is Complete!" email and do a happy dance like Marie!

Check out these resources that may interest you!

Guest Blog Feature: Why You Should Hire a Month-of Coordinator as told by Your Day by MK

I met MK because she slid into my DMs on Instagram and no, I am not kidding you. It was my birthday and she said "Hey! We so need to be friends!" followed by a happy birthday message and a note on how great it is to meet younger wedding professionals in the area.

This was my first lesson on MK. She pays attention to detail. She only would've known it was my birthday by ACTUALLY reading my Instagram post's caption. Brides, I know you value attention to detail and this was her not even trying to be detail oriented! So a few short weeks later we met for coffee and we've been pals ever since!

I asked MK to be my first guest writer on my blog and she has chosen to write about a topic I strongly value, but don't know much about. Grab a LaCroix, bust out a few dance moves and check out her reasoning as to why you should hire a month-of coordinator.

Why You Should Hire a Month-of Coordinator
As told by Your Day By MK

I like to think of weddings as a moving train.  Metaphor goes as such:

You get engaged! You’ve passed your conductor test and you and your partner are now the conductors of the wedding train! WOO full speed ahead!

Along the way, you take on new passengers such as your family and friends, vendors and all the sorts of DIY things you want to do at all the different stops.

Some of those passengers have also driven trains and as you get closer to your final destination, they come rushing to the front trying to give advice. Maybe the train stops extra long at one stop when it should have already been on its way, but all and all, the train keeps moving.

Now we are only one stop away from the final destination and you both as the conductor have decided to sit in the passenger cars. WAIT WHAT!? The train has now been left unattended! You would have some family members who have driven trains before take shifts but that’s not what they’re here for. What if we have to take a quick detour before the destination because something came up?

Overall the train gets there, for stopping a moving train is a lot harder than you think, the train stays on it’s tracks overall. Maybe just maybe a back up conductor would have been nice.

I like to think of Month-of Coordinators/wedding planners as the Conductor’s apprentice. A couple stops before the final destination, they hop on the train and learn about the train and its occupants. They then talk to the conductors and learn how they would like to get to the final destination, so that when they sit down and enjoy themselves, the train is in good hands.

Simply put, your wedding day will arrive and everything will happen, but how smoothly it goes is a matter of who is in charge.  When I am hired as the month-of coordinator, I start chatting with you and your vendors 2-3 months before your big day so I can learn all about it.  Then the month beforehand, I create a final timeline, do final confirmations with your vendors and make sure everything happens just as you planned. If anything is to go wrong, I got it covered because you’ve prepped me and talked to me about what you like and don’t like.  You should get to enjoy the last couple weeks filled with family and friends and get excited to marry your best friend!


And there you have it, folks! Check out a few photos from some of the amazing weddings that MK has planned! Don't forget to visit her website

xoxo,

Ash

Kevin and Sarah's Milton Lee Olive Park Engagement Session

Sarah and Kevin were one of the very first couples I booked that I didn’t personally know and I am so grateful that they landed upon my Instagram and website! Their wedding is in October of 2019, but let me tell ya, the year is already going by FAST. Their wedding will be here before they (or I) know it!

During my initial phone conversation with Sarah, I felt a connection to her because she talked about their wedding day and there were pieces of it that I could relate to my own. She’s a cat person AND a dog person, and they are even having their dog be apart of their wedding day!

It was a must for Sarah and Kevin to have their engagement session somewhere with city views, so we opted for the beautiful Milton Lee Olive Park. I’ve always wanted to photograph here so I was pumped I finally got the opportunity to take in the amazing skyline views at this lake-side park.

We met at a restaurant at Navy Pier for drinks before the session, then walked over to the park. Of course we picked one of the nicest days of the week to have the session so both Navy Pier and Milton Lee Olive Park were packed...go figures! But it ended up being TONS of fun working with these two and I’m so glad we stuck with our original plans!

Cheers to Sarah and Kevin and the autumn of 2019 can’t come soon enough!

Sarah and Kevin - Thank you so much for allowing me to be apart of your love story. I cannot wait for your wedding next year!!

xoxo,

Ash

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4 Benefits of Having a Branding Session

4 Benefits of Having a Branding Session

4 ways your business can benefit from having a branding session with a photographer.

Autum Love | Downtown Chicago Blogger Session

I've been fortunate enough to be a photographer at Speed Blogging, a monthly photoshoot where bloggers, models or basically anyone wanting to get some portrait photos done, work with some local photographers to shoot some looks. That's where I met Autum. 

We clicked almost instantly when she told me that her style goes hand-in-hand with street photography. Um hello, nice to meet ya! I love taking photos outside, especially with some Chicago streets, sidewalks, even with the zooming L going by. Needless to say, our 10-20 minutes together was a total blast, even if we froze our butts off!

If you haven't gotten the chance, check out Autum's fashion blog. She's got some great tips on fashion, shopping and even life in general.

Blogger: Autum Love | www.autumlove.com

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Megan & Rob's Oak Street Beach Engagement Session

Megan & Rob's Oak Street Beach Engagement Session

 

I was thrilled when Megan reached out to me wanting to do her engagement session at Oak Street Beach in Chicago! Sometimes I forget that we have such beautiful beaches here in the city because it's so easy to just think of Chicago as skylines, pigeons and public transportation.