April 11, 2016

Featured Photographer – Studio twelve:52

FILED IN: Uncategorized

Hey Phriends!

Today, we’re taking a look into the business/photography of this kind soul, Kasey. Check out the loads of AWESOME info she shared with us!

Studio twelve:52, Photographer Spotlight

Hello there, my name is Kasey Jean Rajotte, head photographer / owner at Studio Twelve:52 (formerly Kasey Jean Photography). I am based out of (a teeny tiny adorable little Irish town) Rosemount, Minnesota (It is quite alright if you have no idea where that is haha). Studio Twelve:52’s primary focus is love. Capturing it, promoting it, you name it – if it involves love, we love it. Weddings & Engagements are our specialties. However, I personally had a very eclectic start in the photography world so we also still photograph a variety of other genres as well, ranging from newborns to rock bands ๐Ÿ™‚ I am entirely self taught in photography – I started out with taking photos for the high school year book – athletics being my focus. I went off to college in Duluth (The College of Saint Scholastica), first week there I landed a job as their athletics photographer. While in Duluth studying chemistry and biology with hopes of becoming a neonatal surgeon, I fell even harder for photography… I was shooting sporting events, I was traveling to Minneapolis every weekend to photograph concerts, I ended up going on tour with a band to document it, and soon I had developed a large portrait session market in Duluth… I was shooting engagements in between classes, families on half days, you name it. I had an epiphany one day while taking an organic chemistry exam – I LOVE science, I love helping people, I still love the idea of being a surgeon, but I love photography more. I was able to reach people immediately, help them preserve precious memories, and build long lasting relationships with them, while traveling, exploring my creativity and so much more… I was already making a difference through my art. I left my exam after only completing one page. I walked straight to the office and asked to transfer schools. I wound up closer to home, but, one state over (still closer than Duluth) – in River Falls, Wisconsin (UWRF). It was here I pursued a major in Marketing Communications, and a minor in sales. A Bachelor of Science degree later, I now had another strong photography market in Wisconsin. I shot sessions and weddings my entire college career while taking max credits… and it was exhausting, but very much so worth it. It was from here I really transformed my brand into OUR brand. Hiring additional shooters, my husband is even with us full-time now, eventually changed our name, logo redesign, a complete reworking of everything. It terrified me, but I knew it was time to go from where I was at (my comfort zone), to where I wanted to be. That ALL-IN attitude is what I owe every blessing in my life to. 100% committed to photography, my marriage, education, and just being the absolute best version of myself I can be for my clients.
Oh, that was just supposed to be a bio – sorry, well… one more thing about me, I overwrite and end up with mini novels constantly. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • How would you describe your photographic style?

Our style of photography is very “real”. We love genuine moments, and strive to capture the unique, loving and fun personalities of our clients. Editing style favors simplicity – clean lines, crisp vibrant colors, and natural feel. We try to avoid heavy or trendy editing effects, and instead aim to create classic images that will withstand the test of time. (This will probably be the shortest answer I give throughout this entire interview).

Engagements

  • Most of us have a hard time deciding what to name our brand/business. What inspired you to chose the name “Studio Twelve:52”?

“Studio Twelve:52” has very personal meaning to me. The re-name itself was to have those working for us feeling included, rather than working for my name (Kasey Jean Photography). I wanted everyone to feel respected, and also I wanted clients to have confidence in our other shooters even though they were not “Kasey Jean”. So I set out to find us a new name… a unifying one… where it didn’t hint at any one person being better than another. However, after 5 years of really putting my heart and soul into building this business, I realized I still wanted the name to have meaning to me personally… but still be something not everyone would be able to pick up on right off the bat. Studio Twelve:52... is based around 12:52PM, March 8, 1991. The date and time of my birth. However, more specifically this is the time I was brought back to life after my heart had stopped. This incident, while really scary, fueled my love for photography from the very beginning. Life’s most precious moments are ALL of them. I believe life needs to be documented constantly – while also enjoyed – because you just never know when it will be your time to go. Later in life, in 9th and 10th grade… I had more surgeries to correct some of the effects of my amniotic band syndrome. These were to allow me to be able to walk flat footed on my left leg for the first time in my life, as the amniotic band had limited my growth and mobility, so that foot was stuck in tip-toe position for 12+ years at this point. In between tennis seasons I would always have my surgeries, and during one, my heart stopped for a second time… the time I was brought back… for a second time was, I kid you not, 12:52PM. A time that I always happen to catch on the clock, a time that has me grateful to be alive doing what I love. Lastly, a lot of folks noticed our branding to be very beachy… ย with teals, greens, tans, etc. The reason behind this is all of us on staff have something in common, being a love for the water (other than photography of course). We also have a growing market in Florida, so coming from the land of 10,000+ lakes, and building up some coastal markets… it really unified everything we love together… Also the air around water is crisp, refreshing and peaceful – something we want folks to feel when they see our images.

  • You really love to capture love. What can be found in your camera bag on any given wedding day?

My camera bag(s) is(are) the most organized mess(es) you’ll ever see ๐Ÿ™‚ I have 3-4 Canon 6Ds that travel with us to weddings depending upon how many shooters are booked. I use Kelly Moore’s Libby bag (in black of course) for myself, and then we have a few of her other ones for second shooters to use as well. I just love her products. We have 2-4 speedlites shoved in there, as well as 2 LED panels, TONS of batteries (AA, AAA, 6D batteries…). For lenses: I personally use the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 CONSTANTLY, and then also the little nifty 50 (50mm 1.8). However, we also bring the Canon 135mm 2.0, 2 extra 50mm 1.8’s, the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 wide angle as well… Then I also carry a mini first aid kit, emergency sewing kit, and a ridiculous amount of bobby pins, as well as duct tape (hey, you never know). Oh! Also 2 rain sleeves… and I think that is it… unless you count mascara and lipstick.

Snow

  • What is your FAVORITE part about photographing a Wedding Coupleย on their wedding day?

My personal favorite part about photographing a bride & groom, bride & bride, or groom & groom on their wedding day is getting to witness the love they have for each other first hand, you can feel it when they see each other for the first time, or even when they are just looking at each other during the ceremony… There’s so much emotion, ranging from love to excitement, understanding to anxiousness, just wanting to be there and hold each other, it is so incredibly beautiful – and I am not afraid to admit it, I cry often haha. To me, witnessing their happiness and wanting to be together is so much more beautiful than any image I will capture that day. Obviously I strive to capture that look, as does any wedding photographer, but in my opinion nothing will ever compare to the true love they FELT that day, so when I am documenting the day, my goal is to capture images that will easily bring back that feeling for years to come. I love Love. So, to see two people who have found each other in this crazy world who want to be together and stay together… that is what draws me in. It is beautiful.

  • Getting a couple to display their affection for one another in front of us photographers can be hard. What are some tips you have for helping your clients feel comfortable?

I only have one tip. Let them be them ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s so much emotion that day already, harness their natural excitement. I feel like rather than focusing on the posing aspect of it (even though having knowledge of flattering posing is key) – the best way to go about it is to put your attention on “the big day” excitement and playing it up. I make comments while posing, trying to lighten the mood, sometimes I make an attempt to be funny, or I just say what I am feeling at the time… Being genuine is huge… Don’t put on the snooty photographer voice and direct people around like cattle… That is not what they want on their day… the goal is to keep everything intimate, light hearted and full of love… so when I have the couple in front of my camera, and I always make sure it is just me and them during their formals (no one hanging around), we just walk, talk, and smile over how amazing the day has been – giggle over the goofy moments – etc… I keep the focus on the day itself… and during that conversation, I pose them… I am constantly talking them through everything. Not just, “look here, hand here, turn that way”… Sure I help them into the poses but wording is key, “I feel like it would be really beautiful right here to _____” (let’s put your head on his shoulder, whisper something adorable into her ear, alright lady, now smile down at the ground (oh look, that is the cutest _(blade of grass, ladybug, plant)_ ever!) some giggles happen, snap snap snap, and “now give her a big squishy kiss on the side of her head, ADORABLE! Okay, now lets go ahead and face each other”, snap snap snap, usually some funny faces are exchanged, I point out that I captured those too, laughs happen, snap snap, “and okay you two lovebirds, lets go ahead and kiss” – smooch – “and then this time, can you put your hands up by his face when you pull him in for a kiss, BEAUTIFUL, oh my goodness, okay, now pull away from each other very slowly keeping those we just kissed smiles nice and big,” then there’s more laughs… and we continue playing around with posing as we explore the area)…. Again, lighthearted, keep them focused one each other, being in love, being together, rather than their own person insecurities with the camera. My FAVORITE thing to say to a couple before we split ways before the ceremony (me to go set up, them in hiding), is, “Alright you two, I am going to go start setting up out there, the next time we talk you will be married!” and I give them a hug…ย  I’m very personal with my clients and I feel like that is why people continue to book Studio Twelve:52... because we truly care about the day, we want it to be as perfect (if not more) in their memories as it is in the photographs. Genuine moments = Genuine photos.

Wedding

  • Do you have an โ€œAH-HA!โ€ moments in your journey that you can share with us?

I’d say my Ah-Ha! moments weren’t with anything in the technical side of shooting – lighting, etc. My epiphanies were more so on the self revelations / timing side of things… Knowing when to turn to capture reactions, where to be, etc… I feel like I have a really great understanding of where I need to be during all of the key moments of a wedding day… Also, with my knowing how to treat the couple, their families, the guests… a lot of the photographers I have been asked to second shoot for were very cold. So, I feel like my big moments were in realizing I needed to be myself… I come from a family where you meet someone and you automatically say, “I’m a hugger” and go in for it. So I approach each person as if they’re a long lost friend / relative… I really believe this is necessary. I am the one privileged to be there. This is a huge day, and they’ve entrusted me with it… its not the other way around… they’re not blessed to have me… no, no, no. I firmly believe I am the one who should be feeling honored each time I go to a wedding. This was my biggest life changing moment in my career… when I stopped looking at clients like clients – and rather looked them as family. Because… ultimately, I do want that relationship to continue. I have couples who I have photographed their senior photos, their engagements, wedding, maternity, and first year of life images for their children…I look at each person who books us for a wedding as someone I will probably know for the next however many years… That was huge for me. I talk to people different, I shoot different, I edit different. So, expect a hug when you meet me / book me. Its going to happen at some point.

  • Weโ€™d love to know more about your workflow and post-processing techniques! Care to share?

Sooo… after a session / wedding I immediately go home and back up my photos in 4 places… overkill, maybe? But… necessary. I have 5 external Seagate drives, being (1) 1TB, (2) 2 TB, and (2) 5TB. One of the 5TBs goes immediately into our fire/waterproof safe once raw files are added to it. This is where all of the original unedited copies are, they are deleted once the session has been edited and uploaded to our download site, delivered and stored on the “Finished Drive” (the other 5TB) which also maintains permanent residence in our safe. I edit from the 1 or 2TB drives so every session I’m still working on is present on all of the smaller drives until completed, and then removed… these are easy to transport and work on while I am on to go. Anywho – I open images up usually the next day so I can do next day previews and get them online if scheduling allows. For weddings I immediately organize the day into a ton of folders… “01 Getting Ready Bride”, “02 Groom Prep”, “03 Reveal”… and so on… previews I try to choose from each folder for a good initial variety to share, OR, I do like, first round of previews is from the first half of the wedding day, next week is middle, following week is last chunk of the day, then go back and continue adding more at random… I quote 8-10 weeks for wedding delivery, and 1-2 weeks for all other session types. During the wedding process, I aim to add previews each week leading up to final delivery so the excitement levels remain high. Sometimes its every other week if we are crazy busy during a certain time of the year. Anywho… for editing, we go folder by folder in bridge / adobe camera raw. 1) Narrowing down – Tyler (my husband) or my co-lead photographer Christina will delete down… I have no part in this process anymore. They know what to look for ๐Ÿ™‚ Next, 2) I open them all back up going folder by folder, sometimes I do cull a couple more images from the bunch, but primarily I am doing what I call the “Levels” step. This is where I use Mastin presents primarily / sometimes VSCO still, and correct skin tones, shadows / highlights, sharpening / noise correction / etc… Some photographers stop here… and I just cannot. Once levels are done, 3) I go back in folder by folder to “Advance Edit”, I have silly names for these steps, I apologize haha. This is where the fun happens… I go in image by image, soften skin ever so slightly, remove exit signs / distractions, whiten eyes and teeth, play with colors, etc… This is my favorite step aside from shooting. I am the only one who does this step… I am a perfectionist, this is my thing haha. However, I have taught them to do it… but, I will continue to do this for every image until I am no longer able to when we grow to that point. This is the biggest time consumer… I return roughly 1,200 – 1,500 images (except for when I get carried away and folks end up with over 2,000)… That is the biggest reason behind out deadline quotes. I could be like every other photographer returning about 500 images… but… to me, I recently got married myself… There’s so much I wanted to see… so I know there’s so much they will want to see and cherish… I don’t have hard limits for quantity. Then I rename everything – upload to our download site, send off link and password and print release, and ta-da! ๐Ÿ™‚

Before & After

  • What projects/goals are you currently working on?

Right now, I am still committed to doing complimentary mini portrait sessions for children who were / are patients of Shriner’s like myself, who have had surgeries, and sometimes need to be reminded of how beautiful they are. I also do shelter portraits for a few different local rescues – I have 4 puppies – Loki, Nova, Marvel, and Rocket (get the theme? haha) – so helping animals find homes is huge for me. Also, I am still working for a few musicians / tours so I return to shoot them / those whenever they are in town / annually. I am working on a side business… but, I am not ready to fully disclose those details yet. I am beyond excited for this next step as an entrepreneur… lastly, I am launching a Youtube channel this summer geared towards photographers / business owners. That is something I have been wanting to do for a long time.

  • Which photographers have influenced you the most, and how have they shaped who you are as a photographer?

None actually stick out in my mind. I know that sounds horrible. But, from day one I told myself not to compare myself to others… I admire work from afar… I don’t get hung up on who shot what. So most of my favorite images, I have no idea who shot them. Reason being… I know myself, and if I developed that fan-girl status for anyone in particular I know my style would shift towards theirs, so my goal is to always just look at my own work for inspiration – see what needs to change, what I am proud of… look at how far I’ve come and stay focused on where I personally want to go with it all. Photography wise – I don’t have any “role models”. However, I do creep on some folks in the business / marketing side of things pretty regularly haha. The ladies I look to most for business/marketing advice are Jasmine Star and Alex Beadon. I love everything they have to say about branding / presence / business strategy. They are folks I proudly fan-girl for.

  • What advice do you have for growing photographers who are wanting to better themselves at Wedding/Engagement photography?

Second shoot until you know with every ounce of your being that you are ready to take on weddings on your own. I say this with love, because I know how excited you are to jump in and get started – I was too. But, you need to develop the instincts for lighting, moments happening, how to talk to people, etc. Having the gear necessary to photograph a wedding day fully and appropriately. I don’t say this to limit you in your journey or to make you take a step back… I say this out of respect for the couple and their desire to have the biggest day of their lives documented in a professional way. There will be couples who want to help you get started and you can discount their services and really build that portfolio as long as they know you are just getting started – but don’t take that as a sign that you are ready and start promoting yourself as a professional wedding photographer. This does take time. I have photographed over 300, now exactly 311 weddings… I can’t tell you, you will never stop learning in this industry… so I honestly feel a gradual progression into doing weddings solo is very important. Every venue is different, lighting is different, colors, all of it… until you can walk in and know you can adjust for ANY situation, you’re not ready – and the couples you book when you are ready will be 110% more satisfied and willing to rave about you when they receive images back that reflect your talents you’ve taken the time to develop. There will be weddings solely lit by candlelight, there will be pink tinted uplighting, red DJ lights, you name it – shoot in every situation, ask for guidance, and really focus on the fact that this day will only happen once, so what you do needs to be perfect. I have made so many mistakes, as you will too, even when you are ready… its part of the learning process. So, DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED by your “failures”, continue to take risks in your shooting. Every risk you take will either bring you to an incredible reward, or it will serve as a learning tool for next time. Also – Invest in yourself as much as you do in your gear… I am just getting to a point where I can invest in myself, and I wish I had done it all along… I always put business first first first… editing for 14 hours out of the day sometimes, not taking a break… I personally struggle with PCOS, so being inactive for so much time out of the day brought me to a point of realizing what weight gain happened, seemingly overnight… and so now, I wish from the very beginning I valued myself as much as I did my business. So if you’re just starting, or even a little into your journey as a photographer or you’re will into it and realizing this struggle yourself… set a timer on your phone… EVERY HALF HOUR. Do something. Whether its walking laps around your house, go up and down the stairs, take dogs for a walk, refill your water bottle (stay hydrated, seriously)… Move around. You need to for blood circulation. You don’t want blood clots, you don’t want to get to an unhealthy weight from editing nonstop. You need to value yourself as a person and not a photo taking and editing machine – otherwise your clients will begin to see you that way too. You need to show yourself you’re worthy of having a life outside of business, so other people can see you need to have a life too… when I was editing in college, in-between classes, shooting – etc… I made the mistake of posting about how much I edit… it had folks calling me at 2 AMย while I was saying I was still editing, to ask where their photos were, if I had time to post more at 4 AM… you need to set boundaries… you are a business, you have hours, put them on your site / FB page, etc… post after hours about how successful your editing time was, share your life, give folks that connectedness to you through personal photos – you with your honey, pups, family, etc… show you’re a human ๐Ÿ™‚ A human who is incredibly awesome at taking photos – but also has a balanced life. Potential clients are drawn to people who put it out there that they have their life together. Why? Because you’re responsible in all areas of your life, which shows them they can trust you to take care of your photos – yourself – and ultimately the whole experience of working together. They do not want to see you drinking the night before a deadline, they do not want to see you flipping off the camera in a less than professional setting – monitor what you put out there. If you have photos online that you would not want your grandmother / future (or current) child of yours to see – take them down. By maintaining a professional image – and a consistent image – you will be amazed by the results. <3 Final thought – if you ever need advice – life, photography, business or even being a puppy parent. I welcome emails. It may take some time for a response… but I am an open book. A very, very lengthy open book.

Email: Photos@StudioTwelve52.com
Instagram (Photography): @StudioTwelve52
Instagram (Personal):@kaseyjean1252
Snapchat: Kasey.Jean1252 (Puppies & Behind the Scenes / Personal Goodness)

comments +

  1. Kasey Jean

    April 11th, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! <3

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