As the new year of Images for a Cure ramps up, I’ve had the great fortune of meeting so many amazing photographers that are willing to donate one day of their time to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Images for a Cure!

One of our Photographers, Wendy Valderrama with Valderrama Photography, wrote a blog post with a personal story of how Breast Cancer has affected her world. For her full post, you can visit her blog HERE.

“November 11, 2008 will be a day that forever is etched in my brain. Eleven days earlier my mother checked into the hospital complaining shortness of breath. Yet in just 11 short days My father, sister and I were surrounding her hospital bed holding her hand and whispering to her how much we loved her as the palliative team removed the blood pressure support that was keeping her alive.

….and then……….

……………..she just slipped away……………….

A week later the doctor called to tell us it was a return of the breast cancer she’d had 6 years earlier. And return it did. With a vengeance. It attacked all of her vital organs…It was everywhere. Her body was shocked by the attack and just shut down…Her liver first, then her one good lung detached from the chest wall and then her blood pressure just plummeted. I’ve never been so sad. Losing the person who gave you life is a profound and near devastating loss.

Here comes the part about why you should care. According to the American Cancer Institute Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women between the ages of 15 and 54. In fact 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer. Do you know 8 women? I thought so. Now which of them are you willing to lose or see go into battle losing her strength, losing her hair, losing her breasts, or losing her hope. If your list is as short as mine and if even one person you love is on it, you know the anger and frustration and anxiousness that comes with wanting to get them off that list.

It is possible. With the latest technology and research women now have a better chance than ever before of beating cancer. For good. Surviving and thriving.

Here’s the part where you can help. If you are a photographer, you have a special opportunity to join Images for a Cure…”

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(photo by:  Jeff Newsom)

There is no way I can hide the fact that I have a huge photographer crush on Becka and Nate Robinson of Studio 222.  Aside from being some of the most creative photographers around who seem to have the innate ability to always be a step ahead of the crowd, they might also be the coolest photographers out there.  I’m pretty sure that there wasn’t a single person at 2011’s Images for a Cure workshop who walked away without wishing they could be Becka and Nate’s new best friend.  The two of them are some of the most personable people around, treating their clients as friends and helping photographers everywhere expand on their businesses by sharing their knowledge on not only photography but also marketing and creating connections with clients.

With that being said, we are so excited for Becka and Nate to join us for a second year at the Images for a Cure workshop, especially since they’ve recently had their hands full with the birth of their son, Cadence (his name is inspired by the fact that Becka and Nate met while they were in a band back in college and Nate played the drums).  During the 2012 workshop, they are touching on a topic that more and more industry professionals find themselves considering:  Marketing to Millennials.  As the generation of people getting married begins to shift, photographers and industry professionals alike are faced with the task of changing marketing strategies in order to cater to this new clientele.  Becka and Nate aim to tackle this new challenge and help give photographers the tools they need to grow their business by working with these new clients.

Q:  This will be your second year speaking at the Images for a Cure workshop.  How did you get involved and choose to participate again for a 2nd year?

Becka and Nate:  It’s a sad truth that now-a-days most everyone knows someone who’s life has been affected by breast cancer. How could we not get involved in an organization that combines one of our passions with raising awareness and funds to fight such a terrible disease? We’re thrilled to be invited back for a second year because we had such a great time at the workshop last year!

Q:  Tell us a little more about your workshop topic, Marketing to Millennials.

Becka and Nate:  For the last while, the majority of people getting married were part of Generation X, but now Millennials are taking over as the generations graduates into marrying age. This requires a major SHIFT in the way businesses market themselves. What worked on the Gen X-ers falls flat in the faces of Millennials. Marketing is a fascinating science and our talk on “Marketing to Millennials” will break down some of the common misconceptions about our generation as well as go into some detail on the most effective ways to reach couples in this demographic. We’ll also be breaking it all down into simple actions steps that participants can take home and do right away to help get their year off to a great start and start attracting more traffic to their business.

Q:  What can participants expect from your workshop?

Becka and Nate:  Becka LOVES marketing and she has always been on the forefront of the trends as they’ve come and gone. So when the trends of marketing began to switch as our generation, the millennial generation (anyone born between 1979 and 2000,) came into marrying age, we have been passionate about understanding and reaching these couples where they are. For people that have been in the business for a long time, this can require a shift in the way they market and in their understanding of what today’s brides and grooms want. And for those new to the business, this can be a reminder of how to refine the way we communicate to present ourselves better. So if you’re having trouble getting people in the door (or in the inbox, so to speak) you may be able to pick up some tips and tricks to refine your marketing strategies and easy take-away action steps to kick start your year.

Q:  You and Nate seem to have always had a very unique approach to your photography.  Did you always set out to be this way or was this something that developed over time?

Becka and Nate:  Thanks! I wouldn’t say we set out to be that way. But we did set out to always run our business the way we would want it to be if we were our own clients. And that has shaped every decision we’ve made in regards to building our business. That attitude has also shaped our photographic style over the years. Even though it has definitely evolved from when we first started to what it is now, we have always pushed ourselves to think outside of the box of generic wedding photography and just do what we like instead of what everyone says you are supposed to do. We don’t shoot grip-and-grin table shots for that exact reason, they’re totally contrived, and we wouldn’t want them if we were our own clients. We’d rather stop shooting tomorrow than shoot like that. It’s just not us, and luckily, our couples feel the same way.

Q:  How has having a baby effected the way you see photography and do you think big life changes like having a child or getting married can change your perspective on how you approach your art?

Becka and Nate:  We just got back from shooting our first wedding post-maternity leave and I’d say that having a baby has forced us to realize more than ever the importance of genuine documentation. Becka has taken on a project where she takes a photo of our life with our new son every day for his first year. It’s definitely been a discipline to force ourselves to be creative even when we’re exhausted. And to look at new ways of telling the stories of our days. That easily translates into our work with weddings. At the wedding we shot most recently we both saw the members of the family in a new light, and tried to look deeper into their connections. These aren’t just people, this is someone’s son (just like ours) or someone’s daughter and this is the most important moment of their life. I think sometimes we get jaded to the responsibility we have as storytellers and time-trappers. It’s our job to stop a moment in it’s tracks and memorialize it in a creative way for this family. This isn’t just another day at work for them like it is for us. This is history in the making.

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I was lucky enough to participate in Brad and Melanie Watson’s Images for a Cure workshop last year, and hands down I can say that they are some of the most fun, innovative and creative photographers around.  I am so incredibly excited that they have decided to join us at IFAC again and I am just thrilled that so many other photographers will be able to benefit from their teachings and experience this year.

To Melanie and Brad, Images for a Cure was not only a chance to support a good cause but also to connect with others and share their knowledge.  The photography community is something they both value very much and enjoy being a part of.  This time around, they’re sharing with us their experiences in shooting boudoir photography.  More than most other kinds of photography, boudoir is one people often shy away from.  It’s frightening, confusing and to be honest, how do you even begin?  Melanie and Brad plan to shed some light on the issue, and I honestly can’t imagine a better duo to share their knowledge.

Q:  This year you are speaking about boudoir shoots.  How did you decide on this topic, especially since it is quite different from what you discussed at IFAC last year?

Melanie and Brad:  I think boudoir is a scary subject for most photographers.  They are intrigued by it but often hesitant to really embrace it.  We love boudoir and have done it nearly as long as we have shot weddings.  We want to educate people on how it is no longer a taboo topic but something that has become very mainstream and with the proper mindset you can easily incorporate it into your repertoire.  Every woman should be celebrated for her femininity and boudoir is such an empowering tool for that.

Q:  What can participants expect from your workshop?

Melanie and Brad: We plan to cover a little bit of everything:  what is modern boudoir, is it the right market for you, how to market within your current brand, and how to photograph any woman and make them look and feel amazing.  The key to any successful boudoir shoot is making your client comfortable so they feel sexy.  A woman who feels sexy IS sexy.  We are also going to share how Brad and I shoot 85% of all our boudoir sessions together and how men can shoot boudoir without feeling like sleaze balls.

Q:  Boudoir is something a lot of people aren’t necessarily comfortable with.  How did you get into this kind of photography?

Melanie and Brad: Honestly, I don’t really remember.  It’s something that has always been very easy for us and comfortable so jumping in wasn’t scary at all.  We sort of fell into it naturally.  We had a client ask if we take “sexy pictures.”  I was like… um… all the pictures we take are sexy!  No seriously though… she asked I said sure and she actually asked if Brad and I both would shoot it.  We did… we loved it… we never looked back.

Q:  Could you please tell us a little more about your photography backgrounds?

Melanie and Brad:  Hmm…well one thing people may not know is neither of us has any formal training in photography.  Bradford’s background is in Structural Engineering and mine is in Corporate Wellness.  Both of us graduated college with bachelor degrees in the science & engineering fields with nothing at all to do with photography.  Shoot I put myself through school as a massage therapist.  So definitely not photo related.  Due to some health complications and a move to Florida in 2007 I could not continue in my current field and was waiting to go on to graduate school for Physical Therapy.  While waiting to gain Florida residency I dove into my hobby of photography and began shooting more and more.  People saw my work on MySpace (yes back when people still used myspace) and Facebook and I started booking shoots before I realized what was happening.  After I booked our first wedding I told Brad that I needed him to be my second shooter.  I knew I didn’t want to tackle a wedding on my own so he started playing with my camera and read 3 photography books and instantly (I kid you not) was a pretty stellar photographer.  Within six months we had a full-fledged business on our hands and knew it was fate as everything seemed to just fall into place.  Brad stopped working as a structural engineer 18 months after we began our business and we have never looked back.  Owning our own business and being photographers has been an amazing adventure in our lives.  We feel we have grown and learned so much more than we ever would have within the realm of our old careers and are so thankful we get to work and travel together.  Back in 2006 when we got married, we never would have envisioned this life for ourselves… but that is where the road has taken us and we are so happy it did.

If that wasn’t enough, here are some things that you don’t yet know about Melanie and Brad but are sure to make you love them more…

- They met in 2003 when Brad was in a hardcore screamo band

- They have a comedy addiction that includes Flight of the Conchords, Eastbound and Down, all things Ron Swanson and most all standup

- They don’t like coffee.  Sorry Starbucks… you smell amazing but that’s kind of where it stops

-They love game nights with friends

- Melanie calls Brad her “hubskerdoo.”

-They frequently make up songs and sing around the house…a lot (I can relate to this)

  • Swagat Das: Awesome pictures, any plans of coming to india???
  • Swagat Das: The photographs are really out of the world, i find you have special edge over clicking couples, you somehow don’t miss out capturing the feelings and chemistry there. Well done !!

Among the group of talented industry professionals speaking at this years Images for a Cure workshop is Lauren Grove, owner and editor of the nationally ranked wedding blog, Every Last Detail.  Since starting Every Last Detail in 2009, Lauren has grown her blog exponentially using her experience in the industry coupled with her social media savvy.  Her blog has reached national recognition, and she is confident that social media played a huge part in her success in both direct and indirect ways.

Because of Lauren’s incredible success using social media to develop her blog, we knew there couldn’t be anyone better to share ways to utilize social media to the fullest at the IFAC workshop than her.   During her workshop presentation, she plans to discuss how social media can help several aspects of a business, from marketing to getting published.  Here is a sneak peak into more about Lauren’s business and her involvement with IFAC!

Q:  This is your first year speaking at the Images for a Cure workshop.  Why did you decide to get involved with the organization?

Lauren:  Kristen Weaver has been a good friend of mine for some time- I remember when she first started IFAC. I told Kristen that I would love to help in any way possible, and I have a passion for educating and helping wedding professionals, so when she asked me to speak, I was totally on board!

Q: At the workshop you’re speaking about social media, building your business and expanding your brand.  How did you decide upon this topic and why do you think this is something important for people in the wedding industry to know about?

Lauren:  I am the editor and owner of the wedding blog, Every Last Detail. Essentially, my business is 100% based on social media- I attribute all of my growth to it. From “meeting” new people to gaining exposure, social media is at the forefront of my everyday workings. Knowing how to use social media- and use it the right way- is key for wedding professionals because the opportunities are amazingly endless with it. Exposure, relationships, getting published- it can all be wonderfully connected with social media.

Q: What can participants expect from your workshop?

Lauren:  Participants can expect tips and tricks on using social media to grow their business, as well as tips on using social media to gain exposure and get published.

Q:  Tell us a little more about your wedding background!

Lauren:  I didn’t get started in weddings the way many “wedding bloggers” got started. I kind just fell into blogging. Here’s my story: After I got married, I was looking back on my wedding planning and wedding day, and I had all of these things that I wish I had known. Things that I wish I had had someone tell me. Things that could have easily been avoided or just been better overall if someone had told me. And so, I started blogging. Because I wanted to help other brides who might also be in my shoes. I wanted to prevent them from making the same mistakes that I did. Simply put, I wanted to help brides have awesome weddings.

Very soon after starting to blog, I took a wedding planning class to learn the ins and outs of weddings. I wanted to know what the “right” way to plan a wedding was; the way that things were supposed to go on a wedding day. I had no idea what I was going to do with that class- I didn’t even really have intentions of actually planning wedding, but part of the certification requirements were to “apprentice” (AKA work for free) with a wedding-related company, and I figured it was a good idea that would allow me to get more experience with weddings. I ended up apprenticing with a wedding design & decor company, and after a few months they hired me on as their in-house planner. A few months after that, I started designing events, and the next thing I knew, I was a full time wedding planner/designer! Who would of thought?! If you had told me in the months before my own wedding that I would be a planner, I would have never believed you. I never had even had the thought cross my mind about planning weddings! But there I was, planning and designing events- and all the while, blogging away here at Every Last Detail to achieve my goal of helping brides. And then in April of 2011, I made the decision to start blogging full time, and so now here I am!

Come see Lauren speak on the second day of the 2012 Images for a Cure workshop on March 14, 2012 at The MEZZ in Orlando, FL.  To register click here and to visit Lauren’s blog, Every Last Detail, click here!

  • christina: Its fantastic to read these profiles and get the views of the professionals out there.

Abby Liga

For the past two years, Abby Liga has been one of the most passionate and creative members of the Images for a Cure family.  Her presentation during the 2011 Images for a Cure workshop on shooting to get published was one of the most inspired talks of the day and we are so lucky to have her joining us again for our 2012 event.

This year, Abby will be discussing the art of maintaining relaxed relationships with clients and how these types of relationships can help photographers improve their work.  Her goal for this year’s workshop is for photographers to have fun, get excited about their businesses and most importantly, to gain the tools to become a better photographer overall.  Recently, I was able to speak with Abby about her business as well as her workshop and I’m excited to share some of our discussion with you all!

Q:   This will be your second year speaking at the Images for a Cure workshop.  Why did you decide to get involved with the organization for a second year in a row?

Abby:  I love what IFAC stands for.  Breast Cancer research is extremely important and it is affecting many loved ones in our friends and families lives.  What better way to combine my love for photography, helping my fellow photographers, and contributing in a small way to finding a cure.

Q:  This year you are speaking about creating good relationships with clients.  How did you decide on this topic and why are these relationships so important for photographers?  How will this be different from your last presentation?

Abby:  Establishing and maintaining good relationships is key in creating a successful photography studio.  Last year we focused on shooting how to get published which is another cornerstone of being successful. This year, the art of creating good, lasting relationships is just another necessary building block every photographer needs to know. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, we will be covering it much more in depth.

Q:    Could you please tell us a little more about your photography background and maybe something most people don’t know about you and your background?

Abby:  Oh gosh, where do I begin? Well the word photography to me is pretty much equal to any limb on my body. It’s been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. And before that, it was patiently waiting for me to discover it. The day that I did, I fell head over heels in love and have never looked back.  So you can safely say, my camera is literally an extension of myself, it just keeps getting upgraded every couple of years.  I started my career early, like early early at the age of 13.  At least in my mind, I was a photographer. Later on I studied Fine Art Photography at The Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia and then moved to New York City to intern at Art + Commerce and work with a few other fashion and portrait photographers.  My passion for photographing weddings began in 2005 and hence the inception of Liga Photography was born.  I’m now in my 7th year of this industry and I can safely say that I fall more in love with it as each day passes.

Q:   A fun Abby fact:

Abby:  I absolutely LOVE music and I wish I could sing. Unfortunately, God only blessed me with a good eye, not a good voice, but I still belt it out and I don’t care. My poor boyfriend Sanford has to bear the brunt of it while I entertain him dancing around the house with my song and dance.  My favorite thing is when a song gives me goosebumps.. That is one of the little things I love in life.

You can catch Abby at the 2012 Images for a Cure workshop on March 13th, 2012.

To register for the two day event, click here!

  • Kristen Weaver: Abby – we are so grateful to have you back for a second year! Thanks so all of your amazing support and the brilliant-ness you share with us!! Love you!
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