#WCW – Natalie Probst

I’m so excited to share a new segment here on the See Song Designs blog called Woman Crush Wednesday! Each week, I’ll be interviewing women entrepreneurs who have followed their dreams and paved their own career paths.

I really wanted to start a weekly post to highlight not only the glamorous side of running your own business but also the challenges and different perspectives of woman entrepreneurs . Each of these women is so unique and empowering, and I hope you feel inspired by their journeys!

Our first #WCW is Natalie Probst from Natalie Probst Photography. I met Natalie a few years ago here in Chicago, and I am constantly in awe of her amazing wedding photography skills. You will see from her photos that she definitely has a talent for capturing love and emotion in her photos.

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Name: Natalie Probst
Company: Natalie Probst Photography
Years in Business: 2.5 years since I went full time with my business

When did you know photography was going to be your full-fledged business?

I honestly can’t remember wanting to pursue anything else! I think things clicked back in high school for me, and I knew early on that this is what I wanted to pursue. I was working for a studio photographer who became a great mentor. In my junior year, I began taking photography classes at our local college since photography wasn’t offered through my high school. I realized I had a passion for it and after high school, went on to study photography in college.

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What was the most challenging part of starting your business?

Initially it was just gaining clients. When I moved to Chicago after college, I didn’t have much previous wedding work to show clients even though I had editorial and portrait photography experience. But with every wedding I photographed, I was lucky to have clients who would promote my work and me. A referral is the best compliment you can get! Through referrals and networking with other wedding vendors, my business began to grow.

What’s a typical day for you like?

Every day is different, and I’m lucky to be able to set my own schedule. Some days I’m in my home office editing and emailing, others I’m photographing an engagement session or co-working with other wedding vendors. I do find my clients tend to enjoy a glass of champagne as much as I do, so some evenings you can find me getting to know them over a good glass of bubbly.

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What is the hardest part about running your business now?

I think sometimes the hardest part is balance. When you run your own business, you tend to work 24/7 and you feel as if you need to. I’m going into my third full wedding season and finally starting to give myself a little grace when it comes to that. Trying to shut the office door at a certain time and enjoy some time with my husband. It’s not always easy but it’s important!

What is the most rewarding part?

I’m lucky to be able to say that my job is SO rewarding. I think the most rewarding part is not only when the couple loves the photos, but when their parents and friends and families love them too. After all, they and their families for generations to come will be enjoying these photos!

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Since you’ve seen so many weddings and been a bride yourself, do you have any tips for couples for their big day?

Oh absolutely! Just like finding a mate, finding a photographer for your wedding is an emotional experience. Not only should you connect with their work, but you should connect with them personally as well. It’s important to find that photographer that not only you can see yourself working with for 8-10 hours on your wedding day, but working with for the year leading up to the wedding. This goes for all of your wedding vendors; find people that you connect with!

Who would be your dream client?

My dream client is someone who trusts myself and my vision 100%. When a client understands you, your style, and your work, creating images from their day becomes that much easier! Having their trust is everything.

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How do you unwind, and what do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time you can find me grabbing a cocktail with my husband or cozying up at home. Summer tends to be the busiest time of year for us, so recently we’ve been soaking up our Saturdays with no plans 🙂

What are you obsessed with right now?

I’m pretty obsessed with our new 9-week-old dachshund puppy, Millie. We’ve wanted a dachshund for years so it’s crazy that it finally happened! She’s got quite the personality and keeps me on my toes.

If you want to see more from Natalie, make sure you check out her Instagram @natalieprobst for more of her stunning photography, and of course, her adorable new puppy!

 

Our Destination Engagement Photos in Vietnam

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I recently got engaged this summer, and the first order of business was to get engagement pictures taken. Dan and I had already planned a trip to Vietnam for November, so we thought it’d be a great experience to get our engagement photos taken there.

Dan and I are both Vietnamese-American, so Vietnam is very special to us. Plus, it is a beautiful tropical destination that is the perfect backdrop for a photoshoot. It was also my first time in Vietnam, so I was really excited yet anxious about this trip.

Finding a photographer in a foreign country that spoke English was not the easiest task. If you’re looking for a destination photographer, I highly recommend checking out Fearless Photographers. They have a ton of photographers all over the world, and we were able to find some great photographers in Vietnam.

In the end, we went with Linh from Lita Photography. I corresponded with Linh through email to see his availability for the dates we would be in Vietnam. Linh was also very helpful in letting us know the best places to go for our pictures. We ended up picking a beach town in Vietnam called Phan Thiet that is about a 5 hour drive from Saigon which was where we spent most of the trip.

We made a mini vacation within a vacation with our trip to Phan Thiet. We spent one day taking pictures and then 2 more days relaxing at a beach resort. Linh also brought along his friend, Phuoc, from Hachi Imasay Photography to help with the photoshoot.

When it came time to take our photos, Linh & Phuoc recommended that we get the beautiful sunrise over the White Sand Dunes of Mui Ne in Phan Thiet. We woke up at 4am to make the trek to the dunes. The view of the sunrise over the dunes was the most breath-taking thing I have ever seen, and I was so happy that we got that beautiful backdrop for our pictures.

Once the sun was fully up and too hot to shoot in the sand dunes, we headed to the beach. The beach was full of asymmetric rocks,and locals were fishing along the beach with their brightly colored fishing vessels. From the beach we went to a unique place in Mui Ne called Suoi Tien (Fairy Stream). The stream was a creek where you walk in ankle deep water and sand around a pitted limestone rock formation. The rock formation was covered with red clay that flows down the side of the rocks. It was such an interesting place, and I loved that we could just walk barefoot in the wet clay through the twists and turns of the creek.

All of the apprehension I had about booking a photographer overseas went away while we were shooting. Linh & Phuoc knew the area very well, and I don’t think we would have seen these sights without their help. They were pretty much doing double duty as our tour guides and photographers! We are so happy we decided to have a destination engagement session. After seeing the photos, we are thrilled with the results and so excited to have this great adventure captured forever.

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If you’re thinking about getting destination photography in a foreign country, here are some of my tips:

Do your research
Spend a good amount of time researching your potential photographers. Try and find if the photographer has any certifications or memberships. Get the market rate for photography in the country you are going to. You want to make sure you are getting a fair price and not getting ripped off. I also found it helpful to check out each photographer’s Facebook page and see how many likes they had and if they had any good reviews. The translate feature on Facebook was super helpful for this!

Get the deets before you leave.
I highly recommend hashing out all of the details before you leave the U.S. Internet was spotty in Vietnam, and we didn’t have a phone besides our hotel phone. You should know your photographer’s local phone number and contact information. Make sure you figure out all of the travel information, the payment information, and the logistics of your photoshoot.

Hire a translator.
If your photographer doesn’t speak fluent English, I would recommend getting a translator or tour guide for the day. I speak a little Vietnamese and our photographers spoke a little English, so we were able to make do with talking to each other. Depending on what country you’re traveling to, a tour guide/translator may be cheaper than you think.

I would love to hear if you have had any experiences hiring photographers overseas. If you’re interested in doing a destination photoshoot, feel free to ask me any  questions in the comments below!