I get a lot of questions from photographers and love to help out whenever I can.

I am indebted to a few photographers...

who answered my questions and helped me out in numerous ways when I first started my business. So I definitely enjoy doing the same and helping others out. There are a number of ways that I am available to do this.

Find answers to common questions on the FAQs section of my resources for photographers. Also, check out the for photographers category on my blog for full posts on various topics of interest to photographers. If you don't find the answer to your question there, feel free to email me and you may hear the answer via a blog post in the future.

One-on-One Coaching

If you'd like further help developing your photography or business, we can set up a coaching session either in person, via Skype, or via old-fashioned telephone. I charge $175 for a one-hour session and we can cover any topics you'd like (except for associate programs and flash-related topics - click the links for resources that are better suited to help you in these areas). Email me links to your work and/or website and I'll give you some feedback. Here is a testimonial from one of the hundreds of photographers who has taken advantage of this service.

Click here to set up a session >
“Hey there Melissa, I just wanted to say thanks for meeting
with me the other day...

I learned more in that short period of time with you than I have from anyone else in multiple hours of time.

Not to mention I enjoyed your company (and your WAY cute house!) Thanks for taking the time, and hopefully, maybe, possibly I'll get to come to your workshop next year. Give a hug to Dixie for me!”

- Nicki

+ Album Sales & Workflow Resources +

I want to help you succeed at albums

An album is the #1 product I most want my clients to have. Over the course of my career I've photographed over 200 weddings, sold over 100 albums, and made over $200,000 on albums alone.

But I also know from first hand experience how time-consuming and difficult it can be to set up an album sales and workflow system. That's why I've made it my mission to help other photographers sell albums well.

To this end I started Align Album Design and our sole mission is to HELP YOU SUCCEED AT ALBUMS. We're an outsourcing company that frees you up to do what you love, but we are so much more. We have developed a slew of time-saving resources to help you skip the headaches and trial and error that come with selling albums and get right to the good part - making a profit and getting albums into the hands of your clients.

+ FAQ +

I get a lot of emails & questions from other photographers so I thought I'd put my answers all in the same place!

  • Did you go to school for photography?
    I took photography classes in high school and college, but didn't get my degree in photography. I went to Azusa Pacific University and majored in philosophy and Christian Ministries, with a minor in math. I guess I thought of art as just a hobby at the time and didn't want to touch a business class with a ten-foot pole. But after college, I realized that I had to do something creative for a living in order to feel fulfilled and God directed me toward photography. It's the perfect job and I've learned so much about both photography and business along the way! Click here to read more of my story and how I got my start in photography!
  • How long have you been shooting professionally?
    13 years!
  • Do you have a studio?
    Yes. It's located in Phoenix, Arizona in my home. I don't do any shooting here, but it's a great place to work everyday and meet with clients.
  • Do you have any employees?
    Yes. Alaine is my full-time office manager. She is so on top of things and makes my life so much easier!
  • Do you use an assistant at your weddings?
    Yes. I always bring a 2nd photographer AND a third non-shooting assistant to help us with our equipment. It's a team effort!
  • Do you have associate photographers?
    Yes! I have six associate photographers who shoot weddings for my business. Click here to find out more about each of them and to see some of their work!
  • Which camera would you recommend to someone who is wanting to get into photography?
    First of all, Canon and Nikon are the two best brands for professional cameras. I prefer Canon, but I know there are many great photographers out there who use Nikon. Basically, you need to choose one and stick with it. It's costly to change all your equipment over down the line. The Canon Rebel is a good start-up camera for anyone taking photography classes and wanting to start out with a good SLR in the $600 price range.  
    You might think that putting all your money into your camera and getting the best one you can afford is the way to go. But it's important to remember that lenses can be just as expensive as your camera, if not more. And lenses are actually a better investment over time than your camera body. Cameras are like computers--they get updated so quickly that as soon as you buy one, the new model is out and yours is outdated. But good lenses will last you a life-time. So I always recommend that people put the bulk of their money into purchasing good lenses rather than into a top-of-the-line camera. Look for a variety of lenses with a low f-stop. Oftentimes, the lenses that come with the body in a "camera kit" aren't great quality, so look into buying the body and lenses separately. The Canon 50mm 1.4 lens is a great lens for the money!

+ MJ's Gear +

In My Bag

I’m a Hybrid photographer who shoots film in natural light and digital after dark.

Here’s a list of everything in my bag: 2 Contax 645 medium format film cameras, 2 Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2.0 lenses, Zeiss Distagon T* 45mm f/2.8 lens, 3 additional film inserts, Sekonic L-308S light meter, Hoya 72mm Close-up Lens Set, Holdfast Moneymaker Harness with Ona Bowery Bag attached, Fuji 400 & Portra 800 film, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D for backup, Canon 50mm 1.2 lens, Canon 24mm 1.4 lens, Canon 70-200 2.8 lens, 2 Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites, MagMod diffusers & gels, 2 Battery Packs, Light Stand with umbrella bracket and cold shoe, 60" Convertible Umbrella, batteries galore, and 2 64GB SanDisk CF Cards

I've done a number of reviews and educational posts related to how I use my equipment on my blog. You can find them here: 8-part Series on my Transition to Film, 4-part Lens Series, Canon 50mm 1.2 review, Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS review, Canon 24mm 1.4 review, and Canon 600EX-RT review.

I purchase all of my gear online from B&H Photo. They have super-competitive pricing and fast delivery. I'm an affiliate for B&H, which means that anytime someone clicks over from my site and purchases something there, I get a teeny-tiny (2%) commission. If you've found the free information on my site helpful to you in any way, I would greatly appreciate if you would use this link or any of the links from this page or my blog to B&H to purchase your gear. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will be a very sweet way to say "thank-you."

Workflow Resources

Over the course of 11 years, I have developed a very organized and efficient wedding workflow that offers my clients a high-end experience. All of my workflow forms and resources are available for purchase here, and are a great way to jump-start your way to an organized workflow or to take your current workflow and client experience to the next level.
Wedding Info Sheet
.pdf + Word .doc
This form is my "wedding day at-a-glance" form that I use to gather information about the client that I need to access all the time - contact information, wedding day timeline information and package information. I will grab this form when on the phone with a potential client and also during my initial client meetings. It is also my go-to form with all the info I need on the wedding day.
Buy Now Price: $29.99
Tips for Getting Your Best Wedding Images
I use my "Tips for Getting Your Best Wedding Images" to educate clients up front about a few simple things they can do during the planning stages of the wedding that will ultimately impact their photography. I include a physical copy of my tips in my new client kit that I give clients at initial client meetings. If we don't meet in person, I will email them a .pdf after they book.
Buy Now Price: $97.99
Wedding Workflow Checklist
.pdf + Word .doc
This workflow has been developed over the course of 10 years. It was much simpler when I began. It is fashioned with a high-end client in mind (paying an average of $8k-$10k/wedding). There are three main sections to the workflow. The top section is the pre-wedding workflow, the middle section is for equipment prep before the wedding day, and the last and largest section is post-wedding workflow. This workflow is managed by me and my full-time office manager. It is color coded so you can see which tasks each of us is responsible for.
Buy Now Price: $49.99
Wedding Contract
.pdf + Word .doc
My 2-page wedding contract has been reviewed by a lawyer and is a great starting point for any new photographer.
Buy Now Price: $39.99
Getting to Know You Questionnaire
I email this 4-page questionnaire - in a fillable .pdf format - to clients after they book. I love reading through it and getting to know my clients better! I use their answers for multiple purposes: to brainstorm unique and personalized ideas for their engagement shoot, to help my team get acquainted with them on the way to the wedding, and to help me write their story for their wedding blog post. It's so valuable!
Buy Now Price: $49.99
Final Details Questionnaire
.pdf + Word .doc
I email this 3-page form, in a fillable .pdf format, to my clients about a month before the wedding. I use it to get all of the final details I need before the wedding. It is helpful for finalizing the timeline and finding out which group portraits they are wanting. This form also includes a vendor contact list. It is important to get this information from the bride before the wedding so I can promptly blog and link to all the vendors involved. It is also handy for knowing which vendors to send photos to after the wedding.
Buy Now Price: $29.99
Album Revision Form
.pdf + Word .doc
I email this form to my clients once their initial album design, and all of their wedding image proofs, are online. Along with the email template we attach this to, it contains all of the information the client needs in order to make choices about their album and send us any revisions they may have. This form makes communication very clear, and carrying out the client's revisions simple.
Buy Now Price: $39.99
Client Experience Surveys
.pdf + Word .doc
Included here are three different sets of survey questions that we approach clients with at three different points in their client experience - after they book, about a month after the wedding, and after the album is delivered. These surveys are sent to the client through an online survey program called Dilogr. It is SO helpful to get feedback from clients on their experience - both for improving my business and for defining my brand.
Buy Now Price: $49.99
Email Templates
.pdf + Word .doc
Instead of putting my contact information and traditional "signature" in the signature section of my email program (under preferences), I save copies of emails that I use at different points of my workflow there so I can drop them into a new email as a template and customize them. I've included 14 of my most commonly used templates here - 11 for use with clients, and 3 for use with vendors. When paired with my Wedding Workflow Checklist and other workflow forms, these will really give you a good understanding of my workflow and the kind of client experience I strive to offer.
Buy Now Price: $97.99

Outsourcing Partners

Our studio shoots between 30-50 weddings per year, and we have partnered with some amazing companies to make different steps in our workflow profitable and efficient. We couldn't offer the exceptional turn-around time and service that we are known for without these valuable partners.