INSPIRE SHOOT-OUT: Chicago | June 2015









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Featured Vendor + Giveaway: FotoTale Designs

We are truly pleased to welcome our friends from FotoTale Designs back to Rock the Shot today! Take a moment to learn more about FotoTale Designs and their fabulous template subscriptions for photographers.  Be sure to enter their GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a $200 Gift Certificate to their store.

About FotoTale Designs

Our designs are perfect for photographers who are looking to save time and work, while offering clients fun, professional and modern products. All of our files are layered, .psd files. They are complete with clipping masks to quickly and easily add your photos. All text and colors are fully customizable. We offer a little bit of everything from holiday cards, graduation announcements, albums, accordion albums, marketing boards, blogging boards, FB tImelines covers, marketing collections, collages/storyboards and much more.

Special Offer For RTS Fans

Use coupon code RTS50 and get 50% off everything in the shop until the giveaway ends.

About The Founder: Hello.  My name is Sarah Jimenez.  I am the owner and designer at FotoTale Designs and I live in beautiful Southern Utah.  I have been designing for 5 years, and I love what I do!  I feel so blessed to be able to work from home with my 3 young children, who are my world.  I love knowing that my designs are helping save you time and money, so that you can focus on your loved ones and building your business.  I love to go hiking, biking, boating and camping.  Family and neighborhood game nights are my favorite! Thank you for your continued business and support.  We love and appreciate our customers!

Visit FotoTale Designs at their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | GOOGLE+ pages today!

Enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a $200 Gift Certificate to FotoTale Designs.

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Hurry! Giveaway ends on . Winner will be announced on .

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Cake Smash Photography but were Afraid to Ask

by Guest Contributor Harshita

Some trends come and go. Before you even blink, it’s a new hip thing, and then just as quickly, the sizzle goes away. Then there is cake smash. A trend that is steadily gaining in the list of special moments of a child’s first year. Moments that need an experienced, professional photographer to capture the wide variety of emotions.

Then why is it that cake smash photography isn’t popular? Google’s keyword planner shows 40,000 average monthly searches for ‘newborn photography’, 18,000 for ‘maternity photography’ but only 1,900 for ‘cake smash photography’.

The answer lies in a three letter word: FUD.

Now, now, hold your horses. Being one myself, I know we photographers are a crazy bunch. Before your imagination runs wild, let me clarify what FUD means: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.

Fear – will the cake smash be as exciting as a newborn session? Uncertainty – should I or parents get the cake? Doubt – will the baby smash the cake, so we can get good pictures? Let’s smash these one by one. See what I did there. Now that we are over my clever puns, let’s get into it.

What should I keep in mind regarding the cake?

Safety: I am big on baby safety in all my sessions whether newborn or cake smash. A baby may be allergic to wheat, egg, refined sugar among other things. For that reason, I always ask the parents to bring the cake. This also allows them to choose the design and colors.

Design: I suggest that parents get a professional cake. The results are much better. I know that the trend is to go large, but we don’t need a three-layer cake. A medium cake gets the same results in a reasonable price.

Colors: Pink, white, yellow and light green photograph well, and match with most backdrops. I like orange as well. It is vibrant and makes the photographs pop. Avoid chocolate, red and blue – the first two don’t look good when wet and the last is tough to clean.

Cake: Go with whipped or butter cream frosting so it’s easy to dig into. Avoid fondant – it’s tough to break and can be a choking hazard. Sprinkles, absolutely, if you can get them on the cake without having to modify your design.

Can I assume the baby will always dig in?

Follow this trick that has always worked for me. Close your eyes and dream. You have a one-year old sitting in front, who will listen and do exactly what you ask. “Dig in”, you say, and dutifully s/he digs in, smashing the cake in the most photographic manner possible. I am sure you saw this one coming from a mile away. It’s a dream; reality is different.

Practice: Remember the baby is just one year old, and is often shy of exploring a new texture, shape or taste. Especially when surrounded by adults making funny noises and clapping to egg them on. So, take away the anxiety. I suggest that parents practice at home, before the session, with a cupcake. Icing on top, preferably the same colors, and a similar environment i.e. everyone sits on the floor. This isn’t a foolproof solution but it has given me good results. By the way, a smaller portion may help uncover any allergies not known to parents earlier.

How do I make it an experience?

Repeat after me, this is not a cake smash session. Sincere apologies if this sounds condescending, but know this, I am guilty too. We have to remind folks that this is about an experience. And a cake smash is perhaps the only time where we both create and capture the memories, right?

Plan a theme: I ask the parents about favorite toy, book or character. Then we plan a theme around it. Trust me, this makes it easier for the parents as well. Well known characters means known colors making the cake design easier, and available accessories to purchase and add to the setup. Example, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.

Remember, a cake smash session invariably coincides with the first birthday party. Picking out a theme helps parents with planning this significant event. Even before they step into your studio, you’ll have made good friends of them.

How do I setup for cake smash?

Getting down to brass tax. Make a list so it’s easy to plan effectively.

Cake: Make sure it’s at room temperature.

Cake Stand: Always looks good, but you have to very careful. It may fall down and ruin the cake.

Extra Sprinkles: Trust me, you need them.

Spoon: Just in case, to help the baby get started.

Backdrop: I prefer seamless paper that I roll all the way down so the baby can sit on it too. Yes, you will lose some at the end.

Siblings: In a different room, preferably. There’s a cake in the room after all, and you can’t blame them for trying.

Watchful eye: Remember, babies can move really quickly. Guard the cake and the accessories.

And, all of this brings us to…

The Clean up Plan

Never start a cake smash without a clean up plan. Here is the list of items I always keep handy.

In the studio: Baby wipes, kitchen paper rolls, brush, dust pan and a trash bag.

Nearby: Ample towels. Especially in the bathroom or powder room. If you don’t have access to either, I suggest a small bathing tub.

Parents bring: Extra pair of clothes for all family members attending. Bags to take the dirty clothes home.

Well, I hope you found these tips helpful, and the clouds of FUD has been cleared away. And a special thanks to the team at Rock The Shot for providing the forum to share insights with each other, helping us all.

About the Author: Hi, I am Harshita. After earning two Masters of Science in Computer Science and spending 5 years writing code, I gave in to my real passion; photography, especially of newborn and kids. I love capturing the experiences of life, and the love in everyday moments through my lens. Join me on Facebook or Google+ in this journey to encourage me, share ideas and teach me new things.


Photographer Spotlight: Lindsay Williams

We are so excited to welcome the insanely talented Lindsay Williams to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful photography, and be sure to visit her website Lindsay Williams Photography. Thank you so much Lindsay for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I can honestly say that I do not remember ever NOT taking photos.  I have had a camera in my hand most of my life.  My mom still has my first photographs, actually—snapshots I took of family members at a Christmas dinner when I was five years old!  However, I really started taking more of an interest when I took a photography class my senior year in high school and studied the works of Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange.  I learned how to shoot using an SLR and how to develop film myself in a dark room, which I thought was the coolest thing ever!  I bought my first DSLR after owning several point-and-shoot cameras in 2009, and when I waited too late to try to book a photographer for my own fall family photos a few years ago, I decided it was time to get out of auto mode on my “big” camera and learn how to take my photography to a new level. I fell in love all over again!

How would you describe your photography style?
Emotional.  Loving.  Joyful.  Fun.  Above all else, I want the emotional connections people have and the unique personalities they possess to be obvious.  For me, that’s what photography is really about.  Any photo can show what people looked like during a certain time in their lives, but not just any photo can show who they really WERE during that time.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
Other than the course I took in high school, I am self-taught.  I started out by reading a few books about photography to learn more technical aspects of the craft and practicing on my own family.  Rock the Shot was a HUGE asset during that time (and still is) because I learned a TON about shooting in manual, post-processing techniques, and working with clients from the posts and forum.  I have also participated in a few online workshops and one awesome in-person workshop.  I am still learning, so I read and practice as much as I can, and I want to attend more in-person workshops and conferences in the future.

What brand/model camera do you shoot, and what is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III.  My favorite lens is probably my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.  My Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 is a very close second, however.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
I used to be terrified of light unless it was “perfect,” because I didn’t have the know-how to deal with other types of lighting.  Now I absolutely LOVE dramatic light!  My advice is to learn how to spot meter, keep your eyes peeled for unique lighting situations, and practice.  That’s how I discovered that I love silhouettes and reflections, which I never would have known if I had kept trying to play it safe!

What is your favorite thing to photograph?
I have two little boys who are my favorite subjects because there is no pressure when I photograph them.  I can experiment with lighting and post-processing with their photos all I want while also documenting all the details of our lives together.  Ultimately, their photos mean the most to me because they are the reasons I started studying photography more anyway.  Gavin is four and is starting to take directions better, so I’m having a blast shooting fun little photo sessions with him that showcase his interests.  Finley, who is almost three, was diagnosed with autism last year, and I absolutely love capturing his quirky little personality.  I know he will do great things someday, and I am glad he will have photos that show him how fun, sweet, and unique he has always been.

As for clients, I adore shooting kids—especially in the 5-7 age range.  They don’t have the self-consciousness that adults tend to have, so getting raw emotion out of kids is much easier for me.  I’m also a pretty goofy gal, so I tend to operate more on their level anyway!

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
I learned how to say no, and it might have been the most valuable thing I have EVER learned.  I am also a high school English teacher, and photography is meant to be a part-time gig for me.  I let my schedule get a little out of control because I was afraid that turning down work would keep people from wanting to hire me later on and ruin my business, since I live in a tiny Kentucky town with several other photographers.  I realized I was working just as many hours as a photographer as I was as a teacher, and my husband and family life was suffering as a result.  I started sticking to the limits I put in place each month and very kindly declining work that I knew would cause me to go over those limits.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
I would encourage a new photographer to become as educated as possible about the technical side of photography.  Connecting with clients and being able to capture emotion and personality in a photo as a result is a priceless skill.  Being able to enhance photos through post-processing techniques is also super important, but if the photo itself is not technically solid, those other elements won’t be able to shine through.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
I love the feeling I get when a photo makes me cry.  Looking at a photo and feeling like I can literally see the love…or joy…or even pain my subjects are feeling is indescribable for me.  Knowing that I get to capture that for myself in photos of my children and for clients in the photos I take for them makes me truly believe that my passion for photography is one of the greatest gifts I was ever given.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself still teaching high school English, still drinking lots of coffee to help me get through late-night editing sessions, and still wishing I could freeze time in reality instead of just in photographs.

About the Artist: Lindsay Williams lives in south-central Kentucky with her husband, David, and two little boys, Gavin and Finley, where she runs Lindsay Williams Photography and teaches high school English.  In addition to her loves for photography and teaching, she is also passionate about helping others, autism awareness, drinking coffee, laughing, good books, family and friends, animals, and sun flares.

Visit Lindsay at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK |  INSTAGRAM  pages

New “Members Only” FREEBIE Packet {V45}

WOOHOO!!!  The newest “Members Only” FREEBIE Packet {Volume #45} is now available for download in the forum!!  This month’s packet is filled with the most FABULOUS goodies from our amazing vendors!  We want to extend a HUGE thank you for their generosity and support. Special thanks to, Hazy Skies Designs and Paper Lark Designs for this month’s contributions to Rock the Shot Forum members!

You can find the download link in [the Forum] under “Freebie Packets”. New members, don’t forget to download the other available issues of our “Members Only” Subscriber Packets as well! You’ll get HUNDREDS of dollars in FREE photography products.  Hurry, these packets are only available for a limited time!

Not a member of our forum yet?? JOIN TODAYand get exclusive access to all our FANTASTIC FREEBIES!  Plus… for a limited time, save 30% off any level membership using code FEB30 (new/inactive members only: expires on February 22, 2015).

And now….on to the goodies! You will receive the following freebies:

Love Notes Marketing Templates from {$35 Value}

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK provides the best design templates and writing for professional photographers in the industry. We are proud to offer unmatched pricing, quality, and customer care for essential tools to help you grow your business and keep your clients coming back for more. For $20 per month, professional photographers have unlimited access to our weekly-growing library of work.

  •  Compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Creative Cloud, and Photoshop Elements

Modern Baby Birth Announcement Collection (4 Templates) from Hazy Skies Designs {$30 Value}


Hazy Skies Designs offers pre-made photo cards, books, business branding and more! We are a one stop shop for PS and PSE users. All of our templates are customizable, layered files, with instructions included. Whether you’re just starting out or if you’re been in business for years, Hazy Skies Designs has everything you need to give your business a professional image while saving time and money.

  • Compatible with Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements

Senior Facebook Timeline Bundle (5 Templates) from Paper Lark Designs {$19.95 Value}


Hi, I’m Alys the designer behind Paper Lark Designs, a cute Etsy Store full of creative, well designed templates for your Photography business. Paper Lark’s products include logos, marketing sets, blog boards, social media templates, albums and cards all designed to make your images shine and make your marketing a breeze. Come and see what designs suit you and your business at our Etsy store.

  •  Compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Not a member of Rock the Shot Photography Forum yet? Come on over and JOIN our fun and friendly community TODAY!  Plus… for a limited time, save 30% off any level membership using code FEB30 (new/inactive members only: expires on February 22, 2015).

And… don’t forget to stop by these wonderful vendors websites and Facebook pages and check out all the FANTASTIC products they have to offer. Remember to download all of our currently available packets in the forum. Here is a list of all the fantastic freebies available for download.  Hurry, these packets are only available for a limited time!!

Volume 44:

  • Mini session marketing boards (4 templates) from Little Sweet Designs {$24 Value}
  • Mini Session Welcome Guide from Magazine Mama {$99 Value}
  • Save the Date Overlay Collection (7 Overlays) from Sweet Little Muse {$18 Value}

Volume 43:

  • Facebook Timeline Collection (10 Cover Templates) from CRAVE Photography & Design {$29 Value}
  • Holiday Card Collection (4 Card Templates) from Hummingbird Press {$32 Value}
  • Christmas Overlays Collection from 7th Avenue Designs {$20 Value}

Volume 42: (expires February 22, 2015)

  • Exclusive Mini-Session Marketing Set from EW Couture Collection {$24 Value}
  • Holiday Card Ordering Kit from {$45 Value}
  • “Simply Elegant” Wedding Marketing Collection from Designs that Inspire {$70 Value}
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