New York City Photography Small Business Internship

posted on: April 23, 2014

Now that I'm finally starting to settle into my new office location in NYC, I'm feeling ready to take on another intern or two again.  This one-on-one intensive mentoring experience becomes a pivotal moment for photographers before they launch their own business.  They see the real deal of what a photography business looks like behind the scenes- the good, the bad, and the crazy.  Some of my past interns have gone on to have successful businesses of their own and some have decided that this whole running a business thing isn't as fun as they thought.  I'm not going to sugar coat it, but for the right person, this is an incredible experience that can't be obtained in a classroom or even as an occasional photo assistant or second shooter.  This is the real deal, nuts and bolts, of what it takes to run a photography business.  Are you ready?


I asked some of the people who've worked with me before what they'd say if you asked them what you could learn from me:

"Working for Anne was an amazing eye-opening learning experience.  You'll learn all about what it takes to run a small business and what photographers really do when they aren't shooting - the long tedious back office work of answering emails, fulfilling orders, creating marketing pieces, dealing with difficult clients, etc.  Not to mention culling and editing photos when you're not busy with sales and marketing!  I learned so much from her!  Anne is genuine and a great mentor, which I think is really hard to find these days in photography due to competition and saturation.  My business definitely wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for Anne!" 
- Emily Ku 

"The most important thing I learned from Anne is the power of the question, "what would you do if you knew you could not fail?" If you work with Anne, you'll learn all kinds of photography tips, business advice, where to source your products, etc., but there are a lot of places you can find that information. What you can't get anywhere else are Anne's unique point of view, her amazing and generous heart, and the powerful, probing questions she'll ask you about life, your business, the universe, and everything. That question continues to shape my life and I have Anne to thank for it."
- Alexis Helmrath

Union Studio Yoga, Andover, MA

You Should Apply If:

You're an optimist who's excited about the idea of running a professional photography business and can commit at least 5 hours weekly to showing up at my office in NYC for at least 6 months with motivation and dedication to doing the work.


You will be working from my office near Washington Square in New York City; and occasionally meeting over Skype.

Weekly Office Hours:

- 3-8pm Tuesdays and/or 12-5pm Wednesdays
- Additional hours as necessary away from the office

Software You Should Already Know:

- Mac OSX
- Adobe Photoshop CS
- Facebook
- Twitter

Equipment You Should Already Have:

- Cell Phone
- Laptop w/ WiFi Access
- DSLR Camera

Tasks That You're Already Comfortable Doing:

- Talking on the Phone
- Basic Image Editing & Retouching in Photoshop
- Writing Emails & Blogging
- Using a DSLR Camera in Manual Mode

What You'll Learn During Your Internship:
- Marketing with Imagery
- Professional Networking
- Social Media Outreach
- Business Management
- Client Workflow
- Image Management
- Vendor Relations
- Product Sales
- Photography Tips

How you will be compensated:
- Weekly One-on-One Business Mentoring during our 6 Months Together ($5000 value)
- Access to behind-the-scenes operations, workflows, and contracts in my business (priceless)
- Opportunities to receive paid assisting, retouching, and second shooting jobs as available and depending on your creative and technical strengths. ($$$)

******Deadline To Apply********


You must EMAIL A VIDEO INTERVIEW OF YOURSELF.  Written applications alone will not be accepted.  You can upload something simple like a smartphone/webcam video to YouTube, Vimeo, or just embed it in your email to me, but it should be at least one minute long and provide the video content requirement listed below.  

Include the following details in your message to info@
  1. Email Subject: Internship Application 2014
  2. Email Content: Your Name, Phone Number, and where you'll be traveling from each week
  3. Video Content: Share why you're interested in working as an intern, what skills and experiences you already have, and what you hope to learn during your internship.
An emailed response to your video application will be sent by Saturday May 10th.

Last, but not least, because I don't think it's fair that you have to send a video without also seeing a video of me, here's an interview that Dane Sanders did with me in 2012- you can thank the awesome Australian humidity for that crazy hair:
Anne Ruthmann on Fast Track Coaching with Dane Sanders from Dane Sanders on Vimeo.

.... and going even further back to 2008(?), a tiny clip captured while I was teaching a photography workshop on painting with light, in Indianapolis...

Why I Don't Photograph My Family's Weddings

posted on: April 21, 2014

wedding guests with cameras up to faces
I have somewhere in the area of 30 cousins, many who have yet to get engaged or be married (if they choose to)- it seems like I would be a natural fit to photograph their weddings, right?  It's easy to think that hiring a family member to photograph a wedding would be a natural fit and a smart choice, especially since you're doing family a favor by giving them business.  I would even say that this would be a smart choice if your family members are dress makers, florists, bakers, or maybe even ceremony musicians.  Those are all jobs that can easily be done before the wedding, or at the wedding in ways that don't necessarily detract from the family member doing their job well, while also enjoying the opportunity to see other family members during a special occasion.  Wedding photography, however, is quite different.

Why Lie, It's For Beer
As a wedding photographer, I need to have a dedicated and objective eye on everything that's happening around me.  Moments are happening out of all corners of the room and I am there to capture them and preserve them for the couple and the families.  When I'm surrounded by family I know and people who haven't seen me in a while, they often want to catch up with me, which distracts me from the job at hand.  Naturally, I want to catch up with them too- but then I'm not paying attention to what's happening in front of me.  It's also really difficult to ignore someone who can call out your name from across the room to capture a photo of them, when really the most important thing happening is somewhere completely different in the room, but could easily be missed when being pulled in different directions by people who are comfortable making additional personal requests for themselves, because you're family and they just expect it.

When there's a family connection with the people at the wedding, there's a tendency to focus on and capture the people we are most familiar with, rather than remaining completely objective to both families and observing them all as unique and interesting in their relationships to each other as well as the couple.  I figured this out early on when I was just a guest at weddings and noticed that all of my images centered on one side of the family that I knew best as well as the friends I was most familiar with, almost excluding everyone from the other side of the family at the wedding.  It was much easier to be objective at friend's weddings than it was at family weddings.  Likewise, when couples have shared photos from friends & family that were taken at their weddings while I was the professional, I noticed the same tendency over and over, to only document the people that were most familiar to them.

silly family wedding portrait
When I'm a hired as an outside professional, I have the most objective view of all the relationships and important people in the room, and can approach both sides of the family with the same level of attention and dedication.  I can take in the silly quirks of family members and document them instead of rolling my eyes and walking away because I've already seen them behave that way a million times before at other family events.  I can appreciate the over-attentive aunt instead of being frustrated by her desire to make everything perfect.  I can delight in a kid's antics instead of scolding or correcting him as a family member.  I can just observe, document, and be present, rather than judging or assuming things that I may or may not already know.  Point blank, I can provide the best service and coverage possible when I can remain objective and be held accountable to a professional standard.

slingshot boy at wedding

If you know someone who is considering a family member to document their wedding, please share these insights with them.  I want them to have the best wedding photography experience possible, and avoid making any mistakes that they might regret in the future.  To all of my family members who I've had to say no to, please understand that I'm looking out for you, and that I may still bring my camera and shoot what I can with one lens and no flash so that I don't disrupt the professional images being captured, but that it's nearly impossible to be "on my game" when being distracted by our family members!

The Secrets to Finding An Amazing Wedding Photographer

posted on: April 14, 2014

Looking Glass
There are SO MANY wedding photographers to choose from, aren't there?!  I would be so overwhelmed if I had to pick a wedding photographer now.  I thought it was overwhelming 10 years ago, but technology has made the market so much bigger with so many more inexperienced people just creating a website and giving it a try.  I know I can't possibly serve everyone as a wedding photographer, but I can at least share some insider secrets about the wedding photography industry that might help YOU find a really great and experienced photographer for your wedding.  Here's some insider knowledge on where the most amazing wedding photographers can be found, and how to find the ones who are near you...

Glocester Lighthouse Engagement

Word of Mouth Referrals:

Talk to 5 recently married couples about their wedding photography experience and what they wish they did differently as well as who they'd recommend working with.  It's important to talk to married  couples, since an engaged couple who has selected their vendors hasn't really gone through the full experience and delivery process yet.  If someone is highly recommending a photographer you haven't seen anywhere else, it's probably because that photographer is awesome at what they do and they don't need to advertise.  Some of the best photographers simply cannot be found in traditional wedding websites and directories because they already have enough business from referrals that they don't need to put themselves out there in any other way. I know many amazing photographers who have really old websites and don't advertise anywhere because they spend all of their time serving clients rather than working on their online presence.  (I'm equally guilty of this!)  The best people to get word of mouth referrals from are other recently married couples, independent wedding planners, and venue coordinators at your favorite venues*.

*BEWARE of the Venue Vendor List:

Before blindly accepting a vendor list from a venue coordinator, ASK if the venue coordinator has actually worked with AND recommends the people on their vendor list, or if it's just a list that people pay to be on.  I've talked to many venue coordinators who say they'd never actually recommend the people on the list they hand out blindly to couples in their venue packets!!  It makes me cringe to think there are coordinators who are not providing quality referrals just because they're receiving a kick-back or commission to share names of people who want to work at their venue.  A great venue coordinator will be honest about this and give you some handwritten referrals that might not even be on their list.  Just know that paying to be on lists is a common practice in our industry and by taking the time to ask for a personal recommendation, you will get better results than assuming a list is handpicked to begin with.  If they can't give you any personal recommendations, than they may not have been working in the wedding industry for very long. Unfortunately, due to the stress and long hours of the event industry, there's often a high turnover in venue coordinators- so take note of their personal experience level as well.

Punta Cana Destination Wedding Night Portraits

Pre-Screened Professional Wedding Photography Organizations:

If you don't have enough personal referrals, this is often the second best place to find photographers who are highly qualified and produce amazing work as wedding photographers, but who aren't advertising or paying to show up on highly visible wedding websites.  Some of these professional photography websites can even help you find photographers in your local area to help narrow your search.  I've been on and off these sites depending on how much time I have to accept non-referral inquiries and how much I want my photography work to be seen.  When I'm really busy, I pull back from contest sites and professional organizations, but I love participating in them and getting accolades for my work when I have the time to invest in preparing for a contest.  There is a small caution in only using these sites: while someone may have amazing photography work and win awards from other photographers, you still need to check that couples have had great experiences working with them.  Some amazing artists aren't the best business people, so definitely go the extra mile to get references from previous clients if you decide to go with an award-winning photographer.  Here are my favorite places to find award-winning wedding photographers who are pre-screened for high-quality imagery before ever being accepted into the organizations:


REAL weddings in LOCAL Magazines & Blogs:

Do yourself a favor and skip the national magazines and blogs.  It's frustrating to look at a big list of people who might not even be in your area, or who you'd have to pay extra travel expenses for.  Go straight to your local magazines and blogs, but skip their vendor directory where people pay to be featured (no matter how long they've been in business or if they're a good photographer), and head instead to the REAL weddings section for your local area.  Look at the names hidden in the crease of that magazine or under the headline of that article, look for the photographer credit on that blog post.  Once you're armed with some names of photographers who have been featured in magazines and blogs, check out their reviews on Wedding Wire, Yelp, or Pictage to see what other clients have said about working with them.  If they have no reviews, don't assume anything is wrong, just ask them to share references with you.  I've worked with hundreds of couples and only half of everyone I ask for a review actually ends up getting around to leaving one- but if people never ask for reviews at all, and their couples are perfectly happy, they may never get reviewed.

Hopefully these industry insider tips help you find the most amazing photographers who aren't paying to advertise in the directories, who aren't doing wedding shows, and who are otherwise very difficult to find online or in print.  This isn't to say that anyone who pays to be in a directory or does a wedding show isn't a great photographer, only that there are a lot of amazing artists who hide out from the public eye and take a little more sleuthing to find!  I wish you the best in your search for an amazing photographer, and if you found this post to be useful, please share it with other engaged couples who would appreciate getting the inside scoop as well. ;-)

Divorced? Don't Toss Your Wedding Photos!

posted on: April 8, 2014

While it's perfectly understandable why someone might want to toss wedding photos and everything else that represents an ex-relationship, I would like to invite you to consider all of the other amazing sentimental moments that only occur on a wedding day and should be preserved even if you don't have children to pass wedding images onto...

Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance:
For many people, their wedding day is the only time in their lives that they dance with one of their parents.  This is often an incredibly meaningful moment between a parent and child, and it may never happen again, so definitely save and print these for archival purposes.

Elders & Extended Relatives:
Weddings may be the only time that we get to connect with distant parts of our family, and if they're older than we never know when or if we'll see them again, so it's best to preserve these images in the event that one day it's the only tangible memory you have of them.

Siblings, Cousins, & Friends Looking Amazing:
You probably have a few family members or friends who ONLY get dressed up for a wedding day, and the images from your wedding may be the only proof that they've ever worn something nicer than jeans in their lifetime.  Why not give them a copy to help them see how good they look when they put some effort into it?

Social Proof:
That your dad can dance, that your cousin really can crack a smile and laugh, that your aunt can make a killer floral arrangement, that your best friend has lost so much weight, or that little Sam made it through an entire day without a total meltdown.  There are subtle clues in your wedding images that can help people remember who they are or how far they've come, and can provide a great pick-me-up when they're feeling down.

Another way that wedding images are also used fairly often is for funerals.  When no other great photo of a person exists, there may be an awesome image of them from the wedding, looking their best and enjoying themselves, which is how so many people like to remember their loved ones.

When you consider how many meaningful and joyful moments unfold on a wedding day outside of the ceremony itself, it makes the images that much more important to invest in and hold onto like any other significant investment you make in your lifetime.  Please print what's important to you because technology changes and fails quickly, but archival photographs survive many generations.  If you know of someone who's dealing with a divorce or separation right now, please share this list to help them appreciate the investment they made in the event that brought their closest friends and family together in celebration.

*Sincere thanks to my sisters who have held onto their weddings photos and allowed me to share some here. ;-)

What Headshot Background Should I Have?

posted on: March 31, 2014

The background for your headshot or portrait helps to establish a mood or atmosphere that provides subtle suggestions about you, your work, and your style.  To help you decide which background would be best for you, here are a few things to take into consideration:

How Will Your Portrait Be Used Most Often?

Does this photo need to blend into a website, conference poster, online directory, or anything else which requires a standardized look?  If so, white or plain colored are backdrops often used to create a consistent look on a website or in a directory of other professionals.  If you already have a website that your image needs to be standardized with, it would be good to share the site in advance with your photographer so that they can also choose the appropriate lighting for you and your background.

Does this photo need to quickly and clearly communicate something about the person or an  experience or feeling that isn't directly apparent otherwise?  If so, carefully choosing an environmental background is going to be the fastest method to communicate an intent most clearly to the viewer.  Magazines, news publications, and small business websites often benefit most from portraits that provide more context and information about the person in the portrait.

Health Coach Headshot - DawnKelli's Headshot

Environmental Background:

Benefits: Environmental portraits can be taken indoors, outdoors, during the day, or at night and help provide a context, situation, or scenario that the viewer can identify with beyond making assumptions from hairstyle and clothing alone.  For example, showing a female in a workout outfit on white might suggest a studio yoga instructor to one person or a runner to another, but putting her in the context of a gym with weights will help more clearly identify her as a personal trainer.  Seeing a man in a suit on a grey background might suggest a general business person, but when photographed in the context of a courtroom or library can more easily suggest a lawyer.  A happy face in an urban environment suggests something different than a happy face in a beach environment.  Subtle clues are provided by environmental context that can help a portrait more clearly and easily communicate a role, career, context, or outcome for working with someone that cannot be easily achieved with pain backgrounds in the studio, which is why environmental backgrounds are often used in magazine and news contexts.  Environmental backgrounds can be found anywhere and allow for a variety of lighting methods.

Drawbacks: Not all environments are ideal for photography and some may produce distracting elements that take the attention off of the portrait if not photographed carefully.  It's important to work with an experienced professional who can carefully craft an image in an environment that keeps the attention focused on the portrait itself while still using the background as a true secondary element in the image.  This is the easiest type of portrait for many people to take, but the hardest to make look professional if you don't know your way around professional cameras or photoshop.

Where It Shows Up Most: Editorial magazines & newspaper portraits, small business portraits, modeling portfolios, executive portraits, and actor headshots.

Suburbia Headshots for UML Off Broadway Players

Marta Sinclair - Author Headshot

Plain Colored Background:

Benefits: Colored backgrounds can help suggest a mood without suggesting a specific context, and can be used to help highlight and flatter different skin/eye/hair tones in a portrait.  Color psychology can be applied to help attract the right audience or generate desired feelings about the person in the portrait.  A colored background creates a natural frame around an image that is less likely to blend into the white page of a magazine or online article.  A wide variety of lighting techniques can be used to achieve a great portrait against a colored background.

Drawbacks: Colors can often be tied to certain periods of time and may help date the image over time (but this is no more dramatic than hairstyles and clothing).  Colors can repel certain people as easily as they attract others.  Clothing choices may need to be chosen carefully to avoid blending or clashing with a background color.

Where It Shows Up Most: Fashion advertising, actor headshots, modeling portfolios, small business portraits, corporate headshots, and printed directories.

Singer Headshot - Sara


Doug Personal Lifestyle Portrait

High Key White Background:

Benefits: A completely clean white background can be versatile in many different contexts and helps keep the attention of the image focused completely on the person being photographed.  A true white background can create a borderless look when placed on a white page in websites, conference booklets, annual reports, and presentation posters.  If used against a dark page or background, the high key white will help the headshot pop off the page by creating a high contrast and brightness point to draw the eye.  High key white offers the most consistency when paired with other high key white portraits photographed by different photographers or at different times..

Drawbacks: Portrait may come across as sterile or institutional due to the lack of context.  Provides no additional mood or clues for the viewer.  May create a surreal "floating head" effect if used the wrong way on a white page.  May require additional lighting on location or studio expenses to achieve the high-key look.

Where It Shows Up Most: Stock photography, corporate portraits, and online directories.

Citi Center HeadshotCiti Center Headshot

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