Why Free Photography Website Hosting Isn’t Always Your Best Option

As I’ve been running my studio for nearly a decade now, I’ve had quite a few new photographers ask how to get started with their digital photos online. There are a number of website, template and hosting options. Throughout the quest of starting your own website, you’ve likely considered turning to a free photo website hosting company. While you may feel that a free website hosting provider is your best option – especially when you’re strapped for cash – the old saying is true, “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to free hosting providers, this statement couldn’t be more accurate. While a free website hosting provider may be your ideal choice if you’re looking to start a small blog, there are many reasons why you should avoid this tempting option and go for a paid hosting account if you’re trying to gain new clients from your photography website.

If you’re interested in joining a free website hosting provider, take a few minutes to continue reading and discover exactly why this may not be your ideal choice.

Reason #1 – Forced Advertisements
The bulk of photography hosting providers that offer free plans, like Wix, do so not because they wish everyone to have a special space on the Internet to host your photos, but rather as a means of making money for their platform. These providers tend to force advertisements across your photography website, sometimes without your consent. These ads can be placed on practically any area within your website, even over photo galleries. Moreover, their placement (and content) are completely out of your control. While there are some free hosting companies that customize these advertisements based upon the niche and content within your website, others simply place any type of advertisement they desire. The biggest issue with this is the sheer amount of advertisements on your website can scare off visitors as they deem these ads as being a direct reflection on your studio’s brand. This can be truly detrimental to those who are running a business website for their photography.

Reason #2 – Lack of Customer Support
Because a free hosting package is just that – free – the majority of companies offering such packages offer very little customer support. In the best case scenario, you’ll have access to a forum where you can seek answers to your questions. In the worst case scenario – which is typical among free hosting providers – you are simply left on your own.

Reason #3 – Limitations With Site Customization
When you choose to go with a free portfolio hosting provider, you’re faced with a host of limitations – especially when it comes to customizing your actual site. Most commonly, you’re limited to the actual design and style of your website to a limited number of templates. While this may not be a big deal for those who are seeking to establish a basic-level blog, those who wish to establish a more professional and authoritative website will likely find these pre-determined themes are lacking in usability and authority.

Professional Photography Website Hosting

If you’ve decided that a professional hosting option if for you, then see the article, Web Hosting for Photographers by WebHostingProf. They break down the best hosts for serving up a fast portfolio to your clients, each and every time. Also, remember to compress your images before uploading to the web. This is best done in Photoshop: File > Save for Web & Devices.

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Why Being a Minneapolis Wedding Photographer Rocks

Through my time studying photography at Minneapolis Community and Technical College I met many hopeful photographers. Some were young and ambitious; others were older and more seasoned but looking for refinement in the latest digital photography techniques; while still others were looking to break out of their mundane office careers and into a professional photography role. But we all had the same goal in mind, to go pro as Minnesota photographers.

Even since photographing a wedding for my cousin back in 2010, I’ve pursued a profession as a Minneapolis wedding photographer. Here are my main reasons for sticking with it and why I love wedding photography so much.

Minneapolis has the Best Wedding Venues

Minneapolis wedding venues
The Walker Art Center, one of the best Minneapolis wedding venues.

Be it the rustic Woods Chapel of Long Lake, MN; the trendy Walker Art Center of Minneapolis; to the James J. Hill Reference Library of St Paul, Minnesota. The Twin Cities have some of the best wedding venues in the Midwest. There is truly a Minneapolis wedding venue for every person and each venue can be tailored to fit the personalities of the bride and groom.

For example, I have photographed multiple weddings at Como Park and Pavilion in St. Paul Minnesota, and they have all be extraordinarily different. One was in October with the beautiful fall colors surrounding the lake, while another was in the summer and had a completely different backdrop and feel, as most shots were taken by the waterfall and across the lush green hills surrounding the park.

I also love how venues are constantly improving and changing. There is a new wedding venue in Eden Prairie called Green Acres. It’s the oldest barn in Eden Prairie, now completely restored as an event center. It is unlike any other barn venue you have seen. It’s mix of rustic elements with a modern quirk, perfect for almost any style of wedding!

Award Winning Minneapolis Wedding Photographer Inspiration

Minneapolis Wedding Photographer
Image courtesy of Minneapolis wedding photographer, Dan Oksnevad Photography.

Minneapolis is home to some amazingly talented photographers. It’s one reason I got started in the first place. Dan Oksnevad leads the Minneapolis wedding photographer scene and was my original inspiration for getting my studio going. Several years ago, I attended a wedding he photographed, and I loved how seamlessly Dan and his wife Annalise worked. Anna hung back with a long lens, while Dan would move around with two cameras capturing unique perspectives of the wedding ceremony. I have been to other weddings where the photographers would get in the way of the guests, stand obnoxiously in the isle, or even hold up bulky lighting rigs and constantly exasperate the bride and groom with a similar effect to being in a lightening storm. Dan Oksnevad Photography is a cut above the rest, in both his style, presentation, and talent. Much respect.

There are also many other great Minneapolis wedding photographers in the area. If you grab a copy of Minnesota Bride Magazine you can find some amazing wedding photography, which I think rivals the best of Orange County and New York City. I hope to one day be listed amongst the Minnesota Bride Best of Winners, so I can frame a copy of the magazine to hang on my studio wall.

Arts in Minneapolis

One reason I love working in Minneapolis is because the art scene is incredible. For starters we have countless, breathtaking art museums and galleries. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, the Wiseman Art Museum, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art are the main ones, but there are also so many little galleries around the Twin Cities that are gems displaying the work of Minneapolis artists. It doesn’t end there. The Twin Cities have so many musical artists, dance studios, and other art forms as well!

There is a huge collective of photographers in Minneapolis, with nationally recognized professional associations such as the MNPA – Minnesota New Photographers Association and the Minneapolis Photographic Society – members of the Twin City Area Council of Camera Clubs and the Photographic Society of America.

Support for Wedding Industry

Minneapolis wedding shops
Brides of France in Edina Minnesota is one of the best shops in Minneapolis to buy your wedding dress.

There is a lot going on in the wedding industry here in Minneapolis. We have amazing publications like the aforementioned Minnesota Bride Magazine and MSP Mag’s Wedding edition; and tons of fabulous events like The Wedding Fair (put on by the Twin Cities Wedding Association) and the Twin Cities Bridal Show and Wedding Expo.

There are a ton of awesome vendors as well, such as the Wedding Shoppe of St Paul, Posh Bridal Couture of Wayzata, L’Atelier Couture of St Paul, and Brides of France in Edina, MN. Each seems to offer the glamorous big city fashions, with a “Minnesota nice” personal touch.

As a Minneapolis wedding photographer there are many gear resources as well. I often find myself hanging out at West Photo on University Ave in Minneapolis, chatting with other photographers and the knowledgeable staff as we browse the latest gear and “shop talk”. National Camera Exchange is good as well, and the locations are plentiful around the Twin Cities, however I find the chain to lack the local expert touch of West Photo.

In summary, being a Minneapolis wedding photographer simply rocks! I don’t plan on ever leaving the Twin Cities, and quite frankly, I can’t image being a photographer anywhere else!

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Photographing Weddings: How to Shoot the Details

As a professional Minneapolis wedding photographer I’m all about sharing tips I’ve picked up along the way and sharing with other photographers. When I first started off my Minneapolis photography career I would tend to look at the big picture and lose the details of the day.

It’s All in the Details when Photographing Weddings

When it comes to weddings, you may have heard it said, “It’s all in the details.” That is especially true when it comes to photographing weddings. Here in Minneapolis Minnesota, many of my weddings are indoors (as winter seems to last forever in MN). When photographing an indoor wedding, you lack the vast options outdoor photography gives you. This is why it is important to focus on the details, as those tiny touches make the day special to the bride.

Photographing Wedding Details

1. KISS principle

No, I’m not being cute and referring to the wedding first kiss… I’m referring the acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid”. When photographing wedding details try to keep the image composition simple. Don’t try to clump all the details together in one image, but instead focus on on thing per picture. With the exception of the rings, flowers and dress, it’s typically best to leave the details where they are when you photograph. The best images are those that capture the details beautifully in their element. Photography the tables as they were decorated, take a picture of the programs in the basket or ushers hands, take the picture of the boutonnières once they are pinned to the groom or groomsmen. Feel free to pose the key elements, such as flowers and dress. Find a location or background that won’t distract from the dress or bouquet. The pictures should capture the detail or full breadth of the dress or flowers.

2. Grab a 100mm

I think this goes without saying, but make sure you have a macro lens. While it is possible to take great detail shots without one, you will appreciate the depth of field and closeness of the 100mm. If your lighting is low, don’t be afraid to try manual focus.

3. Check your lighting

Lighting is so important when you are photographing weddings. Natural light is always best so if you can take pictures by a window or outside do that first. Obviously many details need to be captured in a getting ready room or dark reception hall and for these you need a flash. Make sure you are comfortable with you flash unit. Practice at home or your studio before trying to wing it on the wedding day. Use a bounce or diffuser for softer lighting on the details you photograph.

Wedding Photography Rings

4. Don’t forget the rings

Rings often get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of a wedding day, especially since they are often in different locations and then on the hands of busy bride and groom. If you don’t get a chance to photograph them before the ceremony, don’t hesitate to ask the bride and groom if you can borrow their new prized possession. They will appreciate it when look the through their photos. While it’s great to keep the ring pictures simple, it’s also very fun to try to incorporate one other detail from the wedding. Use the brides bouquet as a backdrop or the table decor. Find a fun way to display all three (don’t forget the engagement ring!) rings.

Photographing Weddings Cake Shot

5. The cake takes the cake

The cake is one of the most important detail pictures of the entire wedding. This is something couples spend astronomical amounts of money on to make it both beautiful and delicious and the only way to preserve it is in a photograph. The dress can be saved, flowers can be dried, but the cake will be devoured before the night is through. Take a variety of angles. Sometimes a view from the very top is most interesting and captures the cake topper in a fun way. Use the 100mm to get very close details of the topper, flowers, and other fondant details that adorn the masterpiece.

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How I got started in Wedding Photography

My sophomore year at Edina High School I found out I was required to take an art credit. I had never really considered myself an artist and so I was less than thrilled to go through the class offerings to pick an art class. Photography 101 caught my eye. I always thought photography was cool and I liked the fact that I didn’t have to try to draw or paint. Not even two days into the semester, I fell in LOVE.

How I fell in Love with Photography

I had such a wonderful teacher that not only taught me technique, but he was able to draw out the creativity inside that I didn’t even know I had. I started staring at the world through a lens. I framed everything in my mind, imagining how to make even the ordinary things in life a beautiful photograph. Needless to say, I took more than the necessary art credits as I made my way through every photography class offered at my school.

Wedding Photography by Jesi Haackney

Journey to Photography School

I went to Minneapolis Community and Technical College for an associate degree in commercial photography, much to my parents dismay, because I knew I wanted to spend my life doing this. As I thought about jobs related to photography, being a wedding photographer was the obvious choice for me. I love taking portraits of people and capturing emotion. I also love photographing objects so I always pay keen attention to the details of the weddings I photograph.

My Wedding Photography Career Begins

I started by photographing alongside one of my professors, who did wedding photography on the side of his teaching job. My first solo wedding was for my cousin. I did it as a gift for her and her husband and it was the best gift I have ever given. Not only did she love her photographs, but I had a blast doing it for her. It was then that I knew I wanted to do this professionally for the rest of my life. It was later that summer that I officially started wedding photography, and I have been shooting ever since.

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Jesi Haackney Wedding Photography