Zach & Jody Q&A
This is a place to get your questions answered fast. When we're traveling and touring, this will be the place we get info your way!
Zach & Jody Q&A
I’m going out on a limb here in order to motivate myself to do something I’ve been meaning to get done. Many of you know that I’m very motivated to work on my marriage, to work on my business, to work at being a new dad and doing them all as well as I can. We’ve had tremendous success in our business because I put in the time, educated myself, and implemented that education to make things happen. Same goes for my marriage and family and blessing have followed that hard work. 

So to be honest, since I was a kid, I’ve never had a hard time staying TRIM. My metabolism is high and I am a “ectomorph” body type (someone who has a hard time gaining weight and building muscle, and an easy time staying thin). I could always eat whatever I wanted and never gain a pound. I have had a 6 pack since I can remember! 

But since I hit my 30’s, this little friend started hanging around my ab region and didn’t want to leave. I foolishly ignored him (denied is more like it), and hoped he would go away. Then, one day (today!!) I realized he wasn’t leaving and I needed to kick his little butt out of my house! It only took me 5 long years to admit this is going to one day bite me in the butt! 

I don’t want to be that dad that can’t carry son, can’t play with him and explore with him because I’m tired and out of shape. I want to have many years of spending time outdoors and being with Jaxon and not have a body that wore out because I neglected it. 

Now, for those of you that struggle with weight, I’m not in any way saying I’m off the deep end and need help and do not intend to minimize what is a truly difficult area for some people. But, what I am doing is saying “enough is enough, and I want a change and AM going to do something about it!” 

So, tomorrow morning I am beginning a 60 day 4-5 day a week challenge for myself to see if I can really get some results. Here’s my plan: 

1. Get motivated (showing this pic was the best thing I could think of since I’m always worried about self-image). 

2. Change my diet and eat fat burning foods, while NOT eating fat making ones which I eat daily at this point. Foods like: Juice, white/slow carbs, breads, dairy and soda. Instead I’m going to start eating fresh veggies, meats, good carbs like fresh brown rice and good fuel only. 

3. Build what burns fat best - MUSCLE. Supposedly, you don’t get abs by doing crunches since your abs are a small muscle (and large muscles burn fat!), so I’m going to focus on working multiple, large muscle groups in order to get results fast. I’m going to do squats instead of leg presses since squats work the quads, hamstring and glutes all at the same time (and more excersizes like those).  The more muscle I can put on, the more fat I’ll burn, and things SHOULD change rapidly if I’m committed. 

So, is there something you are ready to put out there for the world to see and work it hard to make a change? Maybe it’s your business model, a relationship with someone, or losing weight. If you want it, you have to take it. I’m taking my abs back and (hope) to have them in 60 days or less. What are you going to take back? 

If you are with me then HERE, WE, GO! 
Image Back up and Preventing a Client from Killing You

Kara Wrote: 
“You have never steered me wrong before and am on the verge of vomiting so had to come back for more help. I keep all my photos in an external hard drive and have never had problems, however last night had some error messages when working with it and now am missing a folder of someone’s wedding! As I’m sure you can understand, I am terrifed and was wondering if this has happened to you and how you let your client know? I am trying to run programs to recover the files but am not coming up with any luck. I do have half the photos we took that day from my business partner, still just scared beyond belief.”


First off, I am super sorry this happened and am sure you are worried beyond belief which is normal. 

So, if that was your only copy of the images on that external drive, and you can’t find the images, you have a small chance that they are still there. You would need to send the drive to a recovery software expert and he MIGHT be able to recover something (and it could be expensive). But don’t get your hopes up. Sounds like part of the drive failed (and beware!! the whole drive could go down at any time!!)

33% of ALL hard drives fail within 3 years. So expect them to fail and back up back up back up! 

Prevention of further issues: 

Step 1. Back up ALL the images on that bad drive to your computer if you have the space (if you don’t, follow step two). 

Step 2. Buy TWO new back up drives (we use Western Digital) that can EACH hold ALL of the files you currently have on that bad drive. Make dual back-ups on those drives. 

Step 3. Create a new workflow that manages your files in a safe and secure manner to HELP prevent further image loss. (Even the best system can’t keep all images safe). 

Step 4. Make sure your contract clearly states that you will do everything you can to secure images from damage, but can’t guarantee it (then make sure you are doing more to secure images then your current system). 

Here is our image back-up process for you to use or modify:

As soon as we arrive home from a shoot we back up cards to: 

• PC Internal Editing drive 1
• PC internal back up drive 2 
• Western Digital yearly back up drive (big enough for the entire years back up) 
• BlackX Thermal (this is an internal WD drive plugged in externally) which is removed after back up and sent to a friends house in case of fire or theft. 
• CF cards - These are NEVER deleted until the images are processed and JPG finals are uploaded online (then we format them). 

We shoot dual back-ups (CF and SD cards) on the Canon Mark 3 camera and shoot everything mirrored on 2 cards only and never open the camera CF door at a shoot. We ONLY use top of the line Sandisk Extreme Pro 64 gig cards because they fail less than any other card, and because Sandisk INVENTED the technology. 

That’s why we shoot mirrored because if one fails during the shoot, we still have the other one. We also have another set of matching cards in case two shoots overlap between editing and uploading online from the previous shoot. 

(Side note: if anyone tells you that shooting to a bunch of smaller CF cards is safer, they don’t understand the technology and why failures happen. 99% of CF card failure is not the card, but the user bumping it, dropping it, getting it wet, or improper usage. It’s safer to put it in the camera, shoot to dual cards mirrored, and never open the card door until you are in a safe environment and NEVER put that card in a cheap CF card reader. My friend who makes 7 figures shooting for the 49ers will fire anyone that violates that system on a shoot). 

This system sounds extreme, but its worth the small extra expense when dealing with possible image loss. 

I hope you are able to recover those files!!
Michelle Asked:

"Hi Zach & Jody…you guys ROCK. I love your work! My main struggle is reception/dance lighting. I have a 5D mark 11 and canon 580 that I use at the dance/reception but struggle to focus in the low lighting. The weddings that I have done there has not been a videographer so no other lighting than what I have and the DJ lights which our very hit and miss. On your gear list you mentioned the video light. Does that provide enough light for the camera to focus? I saw your outdoor dance lighting but if it was dark how did you get your camera to focus. I understand the light set up and firing the lights. I would appreciate any feedback."


Great question! There’s a few solutions to this problem. 

1. Yes, the video light is awesome because it adds a nice main or fill light to your flash and helps you to focus even if there is NO light at all. The problem is, if you struggle focusing at most receptions, it could be a pain to always have to put a spot light on your clients because its a small light (so it needs to be positioned well to look good), the battery life is limited, and it has to be on a stand or held by an Assitant. 

2. Use lenses that focus better. Canons L Series lenses focus much better with more accuracy than the cheaper ones and that can help your images stay sharp in all your shooting. 

3. Update your camera body. The 5D2 (which we used for years and still have one) pretty much has an awful auto-focus system (which you know all to well). The Mark 3 on the other hand is amazing and worth every penny and you will never regret not having worry about focus if you get that camera body. 

Kara Asked: 

"First off: I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!!
Ok, the reason I am writing is because I have a bunch of your amazing helpful documents. While going through some of the emails that you guys send out to clients, I am getting overwhelmed…. My question:
How do you guys organize this so you remember to send out each different thing at the right time to all of your brides? The only thing I can think of is to put all of those dates in my phone calendar, but that seems like it would take up lots of time, and also my calendar would be swamped! Just curious if you guys had a better plan!
Thanks a million for your time!!!! :)”

It’s critical to organize all emails, to-do’s, client management, gifts (if you give gifts to clients), idea boards for the shoot and so on. Here are the 4 ways we recommend to do this. 

1. A simple check sheet (we used to call them clients sheets) that have the clients name and wedding date, then fill in when all emails, gifts, shoot times and so forth should be. It’s manual, paper and takes more time but works good. We kept them all in a folder and guarded it with our

2. Base Camp - this software is for client management and you can input everything you do for a shoot, then set reminders to ping you when they need to be done. You can create one generic shoot, then copy it for all your other clients and change the dates. This software is not expensive, simple, and used for tens of thousands of all types of businesses. 

3. Evernote - for free or only $50 a year you can manually build your client check list, then set reminders which can ping your calendar or phone. It can have audio, photo and all kinds of lists built in to help you create their shoot and keep track or all to-dos, create idea boards and more. This is the most powerful software out there for free and its amazing. The hard part is building the system in the beginning since you start with a blank page. You can also go completely paperless with your business using Evernote.   

4. ShootQ - this software is designed for photographers and tracks everything. It’s super complicated, hard to set up and expensive. We used this for some time and it literally took us 8 months to set it up. 

Once of those will work for you! Blessings!
Q: Hey Zach and Jody! My wife and I are wedding photographers in Ontario and really look up to yall!! We are anxious to put into place some things that we have learned from you guys and one of them being how important it is to have some form of system management. Please help! we cant wait to get more organized with this but dont know where to start. I just saw the simply studio management system and it looks like it might be good. What do you guys use or recommend.
Asked by Anonymous
Q: Hello! Do you guys use any client management software?
Asked by Anonymous
Barbara Mclendon asked: 
"I watched ya’lls great videos about the Expodisc (from!  It’s a definite for me, but I was wondering if you recommend the neutral or the portrait version?  I do mostly portrait work; does it make a difference? Thank you so much!”

We use the Neutral and not the portrait. The portrait simply adds .3% to the red channel which can easily be done in post if you want that look. We prefer to have a neutral perfectly white balanced image that we can then warm up, cool down or leave as is in post. :) 

Q: Hi Zach & Jody, Just wanted to ask a quick question about insuring your gear. Do you have it and who do you use? Thank you, Kane
Asked by Anonymous
Payton Asked- 

“I’m shooting a pro Ironman triathlete  and we really want to make them an awesome, grungy/contrasty type of feel. I’m shooting with 2 Alienbees and I have 2 580s as well. I’m thinking I should (do) more than just the refelctors and the beauty dish to keep a harsher light but I wanted to see if y’all had any thoughts.”

Great question! The beauty dish will definitely give you more contrast while still giving a smooth look to the skin tones when used in close (I prefer a silver beauty dish for that look). 

Then, use your two speedlights for separation lights. Simply put them on two stands, point them at a 45 degree angle to your subject from behind (one over each shoulder shooting down at 45 degrees from a above) and meter them to 1 stop less then whatever you set your main light to. (If main light is f/11, separation light should be f/8). 

This will give your images that extra contrast and pop. If you use the beauty dish on the front and overpower the ambient by more than two stops, you will lose detail in the shadows (since that light tends to be smaller which creates more contrast) and may need your other Alien Bee light on the front for fill (meter this fill light 2 stops less than the main light if you want lots of contrast, and put it near your camera position - either bare bulb with a small reflector, or with a soft box). 

Also, meter the fill light first, then the main, then the kicker lights otherwise you won’t know how bright the fill actually is. The fill can also influence how much power you need on your main light as the two lights get added together. 

You can see in the example artist shot done with 3 lights (main large Octobank which does not need a fill light since it is so huge, and two bare bulb kicker lights coming in at 45 degree angle and positioned over the should at 45 degrees and metered to one stop less than the main). The ambient light was completely overpowered in this image and the background is a reflection from the main light on those gold chains.
Jessica asked; 

“I am unable to give up my full-time job for security purposes but my photography business does well.  I struggle with the post-processing due to timing/availability.  I fall behind on deadlines and I am constantly rushing.  I have tried shoot-dot-edit and other editing resources but have never been happy with results.  I want to do it all myself but I don’t have time. The times I did outsource, I still went back and edited the images. I also tried taking less weddings per month but still fall behind.  Maybe I am a conrol freak and do not realize it.  How do you get past trying to be a perfectionist?”

Perfectionism kills productivity. There is no perfect. Perfection is just an opinion. Learn to be great, and to shoot great, not edit to perfection. Be a great photographer, not a great photoshoptographer. :) That’s the starting point. 

Secondly about Working two jobs and Security. 

Two jobs - A house divided against itself cannot stand. Meaning you can’t work 40 hours for the man and expect to have a flourishing photog biz. There simply is not enough time in the day. 

Security - You said you can’t quit the day job because of its “security” but do well in your biz. If your biz was doing well you’d be hitting your deadlines. :) If you want to succeed and this photog job is your passion, then start prepping to quit. Dave Ramsey says “your only security lies in your ability to go out, kill it and drag it home.” Meaning the guy you work for (whatever your day job is) has absolutely zero assurance of his business continuing to succeed and his ability to give you a job. Ask anyone that worked in banking in 2007 if they thought their job was secure, they would say “yes!” Ask them again in 2009 and they would say “heck no!” 

If you’re passionate about photography and can become great at running your business, you will have much more security when you are in charge of your future vs leaving your fate to your current boss. 

We edit all of our shots that are proofed to our clients, but do serious retouching only on albums and big prints. We educate our clients to that process and it’s cool with them. Don’t spend more then 1 second on a photo unless its being sold for more money. :) That’s just good business practice. Editing loses you money and spending too much time on it loses you clients when they get ticked off waiting to see proofs. 

(We proof between 500 and 700 images per wedding). 

When it comes to outsourcing, never do a $10 an hour job when you make $30 an hour. If you keep holding in to things like that, your business will never grow. Shoot Dot Edit is awesome, and even though you see the difference in adding 10% more contrast or brightness to a shot, your client doesn’t. Run your business for your client and make them happy. Artists (you) are never satisfied which is what makes you good at taking pictures, but trips us up with business. Just focus on being a great shooter, and don’t obsess over tiny tweaks in post. :)

Our entire wedding image workflow is 2.5 hours long. That’s it. Downloading, culling, editing, exporting. Keep it simple, shoot great, outsource and focus on building your business. 

Hope that helps my dear!