Apr 11-14


Angel and Brad compliment each other perfectly. Angel is outgoing and sweet; Brad is strong and thoughtful. Although Brad and Angel have dealt with the difficulties of life, they are confident that The Lord's plan is always perfect. Angel and Brad had been dating for around a year before they started talking about the thoughts of marriage and close to this same time, Angel's dad was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. During this difficult time for Angel's family, Brad stood strongly and constantly by her side. The night before Angel's father passed away, Brad was able to ask Angel's dad for her hand in marriage and he gave him his permission. Brad asked Angel to marry him months later on her Dad's birthday as they were visiting his grave. He told her "I want this day to be special and not sad anymore." From talking to Angel, I know that she is the person that she is today because of her Dad, and Brad wanted it to make it clear to her how important that was to him as well. I love the words that Angel shared with me about why she loves Brad "I love how much he included the first man I ever loved in everything." 

We met at Carroll Joyner park on a beautiful winter afternoon. The sun was out, people were crowded around the park running, walking their dogs and spending time with their families, but this didn't stop us from enjoying the park ourselves. As we walked around talking about life and wedding planning, I learned a lot about this couple - why Angel loves teaching, that we share a love for the beautiful state of South Carolina, and that Brad thought taking these pictures was going to be miserable! (Hopefully it wasn't!)

I am so excited for this couple's Christmas wedding in December!


Comments: 1

  1. Angel April 11, 2014 1:06 pm

    Aww yeah we are so excited for December it can’t get here fast enough! Thank you for your sweet words and we are excited to be working with you and Brad said he enjoyed it more than he thought!

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Apr 10-14



Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

I'm going to be honest: time is my weakness. I've already been late 3 times this week. Often, I have a hard time focusing on what's in front of me. I believe my generation (and especially the generation to follow) are going to have to fight distractions and teach ourselves to focus more than any other. With social media, fast-paced TV, our phones at our fingertips, texting, and constantly scrolling and seeing something new and fresh, it will take more self control to sit and focus on just one thing for a long amount of time.

Friends, I do not have it all together, but I want to keep learning.  I am not always early, and I often find myself distracted. However, I am striving to live fully in the moment, to say no to distractions, to do my best work and to rest well and often. While I'm not perfect, I do have systems in place that help me manage my time well in my work and home. Over time, I've learned a few tips that hopefully will help you too. If you're like me, you're ready to be one of those "early people!" You're ready to finish your day feeling accomplished, rather than incomplete and rushed. We can do this, so let's dive in together!

I have to start with this rather long excerpt from one of my favorite-ever books, Boundaries. Please stick with me here and read this. You won't regret it! :


"Many people feel that their time is out of control. They are "eleventh hour people," constantly on the edge of deadlines. Try as they might, they find the day - every day - getting away from then. There just aren't enough hours to accomplish their tasks. The word easily doesn't seem to be part of their personal experience. Some of the time binds these strugglers deal with are these:

  • Business meetings
  • Luncheon appointments
  • Project deadlines
  • Church and school activities
  • Holiday mailings


… The problem often stems from one more more of the following causes: 

1. Omnipotence: These people have unrealistic, somewhat grandiose expectations of what they can accomplish in a given amount of time. 'No problem - I'll do it' is their motto.

2. Overresponsibily for the feelings of others. They think that leaving a party too early wil cause the host to feel abandoned.

3. Lack of realistic anxiety. They live so much in the present that they neglect to plan ahead for traffic, parking the car, or dressing for an outing.

4. Rationalization. They minimize the distress and inconvenience that others must put up with because of their lateness. They think, 'They're my friends - they'll understand.'

The person with undeveloped time self-boundaries ends up frustrating not only others, but himself. He ends the day without the sense that a 'desire realized is sweet to the soul' (Prov 13:19). Instead, he is left with unrealized desires, half-baked projects, and the realization that tomorrow will begin with him running behind schedule."


Does anyone else identify with this excerpt as much as I do? I read this book 2 years ago, and these pages stood out to me most. I've been making changes in my life, and it feels good to end a day knowing that scripture to be TRUE: "a desire realized is sweet to the soul!"

If you are ready to take hold of your time, I would suggest trying the following exercises. I've worked through each exercise in the past 2 years, and they have been invaluable to me! If I may make another suggestion, do not try to tackle all of these at once. Try one per week, or one per month even, and see how it works for you. I can confidently say that each of them WILL be worth your time!

1. Track your time for a month

Last year, I read 168 Hours and it had such a profound impact on my life. Laura (the author) explains that the very first step to take hold of your time is to simply record how you are currently spending it. Although it seems daunting at first, it is actually quite simple! All you have to do is write down how you spend your time in 30 minute increments. You can see how I tracked my time for an entire month below. I highlighted my "work hours," so I could realistically see how many hours a week I was working. I could also total my time for exercising, sleeping, hanging out with people I love, reading, etc. It was so enlightening to me! She warned us that we often tend to think we work much more than we actually do. That proved true for me. Here are a few takeaways that I had after doing this exercise:

- I thought I was working 50-60 hours/week, when I worked an average of 40 hours/week.
- It's important to bundle all errands together once/week to save time driving. Driving can really add up.
- I was spending much more time with friends that I thought I was! We regularly ate dinner with friends and spent time in ministry at church.
- I wanted to spend more hours/week exercising.
- I wanted to spend more hours/week sleeping.
- I wanted to spend less hours/week driving.
- I wanted to be more intentional with how I spend my leisure time.  More baths, walks, and dinners at home. Less piddling at home, TV, and driving.

Here is a Time Log Download if you are up for the challenge!


2. Map out your ideal week

This post by Michael Hyatt inspired me to do this for myself, and it's a game changer. I see in the "big picture," so creating time blocks was immensely helpful for me! Here is a view of my ideal week. I'm currently in the process of updating it now. As a wedding photographer, it is helpful to update it seasonally. I would encourage you: update it when you need to! It's like a time budget. It won't work perfectly the first few months, but you'll be able to make it work for you after a while if you are committed to trying it. When I do stick to my ideal week, it feels wonderful. But keep in mind: it's called an IDEAL week for a reason, and life is not always ideal. Life happens! Allow for grace and change. Don't set your plan so strictly that you don't allow for the Lord to bring things your way if He wants to.

Nancyray-ideal week

3. Plan out each day by the hour

I love Whitney English's Day Designer and Emily Ley's Simplified Planner for this reason: You can map out your day hour by hour. Talk about making the most of your day! Every morning, I sit down and write down my top 3 priorities for the day. Then, I write out what I'm going to do hour by hour in order to accomplish those priorities. Here's my example for today:

No. 1: Blog Organization in Time
No. 2: Clear emails before the weekend
No. 3: Pack for Georgia

6:00 - Up! Coffee and Scripture and Prayer
7:00 - Read current book
8:00 - Prep studio / email clean up
9:00 - Consultation with Callie + Bride
10:00 - Blog
11:00 - Google Hangout with Amber Housely
12:00 - Lunch + UPS store + library (errands)
1:00 - Emails
2:00 - Emails
3:00 - Emails + Prep equipment for session
4:00 - Take care of Boaz and Winston / ShootQ maintenance
5:00 - Drive to session
6:00 - Engagement Session
7:00 - Engagement Session
8:00 - Dinner / Pack for Georgia
9:00 - Pack, catch up with Will
10:00 - Bed!

When I sit down and plan out my day at the beginning of my day, it keeps me on track to accomplish what I need to. Tomorrow, we leave early for a family wedding in Georgia. I want to make sure everything is planned and accomplished before we leave! For example, I am confident I'll enjoy my weekend and be fully present with my family if all of my emails are caught up, and if I'm packed tonight instead of rushing around in the morning.

4. Try my Email Ninja Game!

Call me crazy - I don't care! It really helps me knock out some emails, y'all. I call is my Email Ninja game. Here's how you play:

Step 1: Grab a colorful post it note. Write the current time and number of emails in your inbox, then put the sticky at the bottom of your computer screen so it's constantly in front of you.
Step 2: Put on music (Soundtracks only: no words! The Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack is my favorite email and blog writing music). Turn off all social media and distractions. The only reason you are allowed to get up from your chair is to use the bathroom. THAT'S IT.
Step 3: Answer as many emails as you possible can. Delete all junk mail without even reading the content. Be efficient and as fast as possible. Once you answer an email, FILE it so it's out of your inbox.
Step 4: Grab that same post it note, and write the current time and number of emails in your inbox at the end of your email ninja game.

If your inbox is at zero, you WIN!
If you reached a goal you set for yourself in a certain amount of time, you WIN!
If you got distracted with social media, you LOSE.
If you got a snack, then started folding laundry, then decided to vacuum, you LOSE. (Been there, done that.)


5. Work hard, Rest well.

This last point is the WHY behind all of this. It is the most important point of all, actually. It's the reason I'm passionate about managing my time and resources well! I believe we were created to live life to the full, to give our everything to our work, then to throw ourselves into good and true rest. To be face to face with family and our loved ones - not distracted with work undone or iPhones or Instagram. This can be so difficult in today's world, but it's worth fighting for!

Work Hard! How often do we say we are "working," when really we are distracted, trying to tackle too many things at once, and looking at Instagram or at an online sale during work hours? I've been there, friends. It's still a struggle! But one thing I know to be true: I love the feeling of coming to the end of a day, knowing that I worked hard, stayed focused, and accomplished all that I could for that day. Working hard allows us to truly appreciate good rest.

Rest well, friends. That means taking a weekly Sabbath, turning off social media, reading a book, getting outside, allowing your mind time and space to think and relax. Its good for the soul! This is not always easy to do, especially for entrepreneurs like myself, because there is always work to be done. Can I get an amen? It's so hard to shut everything down for a day, but when I rest well, I can accomplish more fulfilling and focused work. When I work hard, I can rest well and be 100% present with those I love.

Have you tried anything I've listed above? Or is there an exercise you are going to try? I would love to hear!

Comments: 10

  1. Sarah F. April 10, 2014 6:09 pm

    I JUST ordered 168 Hours 20 minutes ago! Along with Boundaries and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. So encouraged and excited by this post. Thanks for the link to the time log, I’ll be needing that!

  2. Victoria B April 10, 2014 6:11 pm

    Love this post! Great ideas. I need to track my hours as I am clearly reading blogs during work. I have been trying to schedule my ideal work day schedule but so much comes up that I find it hard to stick to. I also underestimate how long things will take all the time, so I think tracking my time for a couple weeks will be very beneficial. Thank you!

  3. Lorin April 10, 2014 7:41 pm

    These organizational posts are wonderful, Nancy!! Our pastor taught a series called “The Broken Clock” & challenged us to track our time for a week. Incredibly eye opening to see how long/much something takes!

  4. Kristen April 11, 2014 12:41 pm

    Can you describe your ‘File’ system in your email ninja. Thanks for the encouraging post!

    • Nancy Ray April 14, 2014 2:51 pm

      It’s too long to explain in the comments, but I might tackle my entire email system in another post! Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. Emily Alice April 13, 2014 3:10 am

    Thank you so much for posting this, Nancy! As a senior college student with three jobs, almost every week I feel like I haven’t completed what I wanted to get done because I’m always catching up. I’m definitely downloading that time calendar!

  6. LEANNE CAROLINE April 15, 2014 6:06 am

    Hello Nancy. (This is Annie — my nickname, just in the very beginning stages of a mini blog/name makeover). This is a fantastic post. I really am loving this organisation series. I gravitate towards the ‘on time’ end of the spectrum. I learnt a long time ago to factor in all elements of getting a job done, so as to stay to time. So often we do overestimate what we are physically capable of (and that the bus will run to time, the stars will align etc.). Also, I am a personality that likes to take due time in doing whatever task. That desire for “something new and fresh” you highlight is such a modern pull. I’m currently calling myself a ‘distraction ninja’ (to pinch your terminology). The other week I turned off email pop up alerts on my work computer; already I can tell my productivity has improved. Thank you for the rest reminders. I think it’s all too easy to forget about that these days… there is always something we can do (or rather, something we THINK we should do). Good luck with your ‘ideal’ weeks ahead xo

  7. Annie F May 10, 2014 12:14 am

    So great Nancy! I read 168 Hours because you posted it on Social Media and loved it. I also remember your ideal day example at MTH March 2013 — very inspired by the concept of extending it to an “ideal week”- thanks so much for the awesome post.

  8. Sarah Best May 23, 2014 4:33 pm

    Loved this, thanks for sharing your wisdom! :-D

  9. August goals | creating real joy August 4, 2014 9:45 pm

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Apr 09-14


I met Kristin and Dan at Morning Times downtown after work on a chilly evening. We shared sweet conversation about each other, and I got to see how Kristin and Dan interact with each other. Most of the time, we have phone conversations with our brides about the details of their wedding, but since we were meeting so close to their wedding we decided to have our conversation in person. It was so refreshing to speak to this sweet couple and see how excited they were for each detail and how they had thought through every minute of the day. I loved how organized they were with their separate to do lists and how they spoke to each other with patience and kindness. Kristin and Dan's biggest concern was to throw a celebration that celebrated not only them but their family as well. After shooting their wedding this weekend at The Sutherland, I am confident to say that they did just that! I am so excited to share the images with you soon!


Comments: 2

  1. Kim Alford April 11, 2014 8:49 pm

    So lovely, Callie! Can’t wait to see their wedding pics! <3

  2. Kristin Williams April 22, 2014 9:41 pm

    Aw this is so cute!!! The shots are beautiful; I love them and we loved working with you! I’m so excited to see the ones from the wedding!!

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Apr 07-14


“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman

Today, I woke up very sleepy. It's a rainy day here in Raleigh, and I had a hard time getting my head in gear for work. I have a million emails to write, images to edit, a photo shoot this evening. I need to work out, to meet some friends for lunch, to clean the studio, to take Winston out. The list could go on and on!

On Mondays, I usually don't give non-work-related emails the time of day, but 2 emails in particular caught my attention: Jess sent me a preview to her new album, and Artifact Uprising (a company I adore) introduced me to This Wild Idea in their newsletter.

I usually don't give many things on Instagram the time of day, but 2 images caught my attention: The new Naptime Diaries Shop was launched, and my friend Caroline has posted all kinds of adorable outfits that made me obsessed with her new blog "un-fancy."

I also usually don't break my blogging schedule. But you know what? IT'S OKAY! Actually, it's really good for Type A people like me to just break the rules every now and then.

Sometimes, it's really good to just stop and allow yourself to be inspired. To listen and watch artists doing their thing. Because here's the thing: when we work in our strengths, when we do work that sets our hearts on fire, we inspire others to step into their callings. To do the thing that God made you to do!

I feel so strongly that these four artists I've listed above are doing just that. They are working in their strengths, from a place of passion, and they are blessing so many around them because of it. I encourage you to follow them, to watch their work, and to allow it to inspire the deepest parts of you to do that which God has called you to do!

1. Jess Ray : her album "Free Forever For Everyone" is released for free on April 19. I've been listening to it in my studio all day long. It's the heart of such beautiful worship.

2. This Wild Idea : "You gotta point your camera at what you love, something that stirs you up, even when you don’t have an audience and no one is lookin…that’s how you grow as an image maker" - Theron. A quote I'm committing to live by.

3. Un-Fancy : My dear friend Caroline Joy just introduced her brilliant blog "Un-Fancy" - a beautiful and inspiring place that teaches others how to create a capsule wardrobe and live from a place of intention in regards to what you wear and what you own. I feel so strongly this goes hand in hand with the Contentment Challenge. Love my friend and I love her heart. Also, I want to kidnap her so she can just come work her magic on my wardrobe, because let's face it: she's amazing.

4. Naptime Diaries Shop : My friend Jessi is so inspiring. Her shop will get you so excited to decorate your home with scripture. Not only do I love her work, but I love her heart. We are both married to men in ministry (they are planting a church in Charleston!), but she never uses it as an excuse to keep her gifts quiet. She uses her ministry platform as a REASON to share her gifts! I relate so much to her passion and calling. And guess what? Use SPRING14 in checkout and receive 25% off all canvas orders today!

Comments: 0

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Apr 03-14


Be sure to read Part 1 of How I stay Organized in my work if you missed it!

How I stay Organized in my Work: Part 2

7. Clean up and organize equipment immediately.

This is a vital habit to create in the middle of wedding season. After a wedding or session, the first thing I do the next morning is clean up all the equipment, recharge the batteries, wipe the lenses, and mail off the film, and put everything away in the closet. If I have a shoot that evening, I'll lay out my bags and equipment in the hallway for me to grab as I walk out the door - complete with CF cards, film, and charged batteries. Keeping equipment ready to "grab and go" is key to staying organized and prepared.

8. Checkbook, stamps, and stationery.

On my desk, I have a little caddy from Pottery Barn where I keep my checkbook, my stamps, and some stationery. I also keep my favorite pens, Chapstick, lotion, and post it notes in my desk drawer. Having these little things available at my fingertips makes it easy to send a note or check, to write myself a reminder. 

9. Blog Planning.

Pictured above is my blog planning worksheet that I got from my friend Emily's blog! Here is how I use it:

1. Before the month begins, I write in the dates. (Numbers in the top left hand corner of each Mon-Fri box.) Then, I schedule blogposts that I know need to happen: Goals on the 1st day of the month, bridal sessions the week after a wedding, posts in a series (like this one), engagement sessions, and gratefulgrams at the end of each month. I aim to blog at least 3 days a week, and I leave space for other inspired blogposts as well. (For example, I'll be doing a Making Things Happen recap soon that I did not plan to write.)

2. I draft 3-5 blogposts and schedule them. Once I schedule them, I circle the date number so I know they will automatically post that day.

3. I look over my calendar for the current month (April), and schedule blogposts that are to happen in the following months in the lines above. For example, I have 3 bridal sessions this month that I am photographing, but I won't be able to post them to my blog until May and June. In the lines above, I write:

Callie Pitts Bridal (5/5)
Katie Lane Bridal (5/19)
Whitney Graham Bridal (6/9)

When I plan my next month (May) of blogging, I immediately know that I need to write in those posts on those days first! I'll transfer "Whitney Graham Bridal (6/9)" to the line on my May blogging, so I'll know to write that in my June blogging worksheet immediately.

4. I give myself grace! Sometimes I switch dates around. Sometimes I get inspired and want to blog about life, so I'll bump sessions to a different day. Allow for an imperfect schedule, because that's life.

Would you like your own Em for Marvelous Blog Planning download? Read this post on her blog and scroll to the bottom for your very own copy!

10. Workflow wall.

I love my workflow wall! It's a great way for Callie and I to glance at our progress on a shoot and know how far we have to go. My favorite addition to the workflow wall is the weekly goals we list below. It gives us editing goals each week, and it keeps us on top of things! This is a photo of our workflow wall at the very beginning of this season. Notice that nothing is checked off, and that our weekly goals are listed below. See all the names of couples at the top? Those are our upcoming bridals, engagements, and weddings we will be shooting. There is a lot of work to keep track of!


11. Things / Wunderlist.

I've used Wunderlist and Things. Both are great to do apps for your computer, iPhone, and iPad! They sync together, and you can have multiple lists, shared lists, to do tasks (with checkboxes!), and much more. Wunderlist is free and user friendly, but because I've had some sync issues I'll be switching back to Things which is a bit more expensive but prettier and more effective. (My friend Lara loves it!) I'd suggest you try out Wunderlist first, if looking for a start. Here are my favorite lists, and how I use them:

- Blogposts : Every time I think of an idea to blog, I enter into this list.
- Clear the Clutter : I've listed every area of my life that needs to be decluttered, and I systematically tackle it. Once it's done, I check it off.
- Books : I have a long booklist of recommended readings. Every time I hear of a good book, I enter it on my list!
- Callie's list : Callie and I have a shared list, so every time I need her to do something, I will enter it on her list. She will automatically see it and do it!
- Movie list : Will and I don't watch a lot of TV, but we do love some movie nights. We often have a hard time deciding what movies to watch, so we've created a standing movie list. Some old, some new. A few on our list currently: Courageous, Wait Until Dark, The Lion King (I might have to do some convincing), Frozen, The Bucket List, The Croods, Twister, The Prince of Egypt. (I'm not sure how 3 cartoons made the cut, but I'm okay with that!)

12. Client Folders.


I love my client folders. They are so helpful as a "catch all" place for my couple's information. They are kept beside my desk and organized by date. Here's how they work:

1. As soon as a couple books me, we create a folder. We write their first names + their wedding date on the tab. Then, we print their contract, hole punch it, and place it on the right side of the folder.

2. Once we receive their questionnaires that we send through ShootQ, we place them on the left side of the folder. 

3. If we receive any invitations or details to photograph during their engagement, we place them inside the folder so we have them ready to go on the wedding day.

4. If the father of the bride emails us asking for a photo of him and his college buddies at the reception, we print it and put it in the folder. If the bride asks us to photograph her handkerchief, we print it and put it in the folder.


5. Last but not least, we discuss the wedding day timeline on the phone with the bride a month before the wedding. At that point, we will print copies and place them in the folder.

6. The day of the wedding, we will read through the folder in detail! We will make sure we know all of their special requests, we'll write notes on our timelines, we will have their invitations in hand. Everything is in one place. 

7. When their images are complete and their albums are in the hands of the client, we will file the folder away. Until then, it stays right beside my desk, within arm's reach!

Do you have any additional questions in how I stay organized in my work? Feel free to leave a comment!

Next up: Organization in Time!

Comments: 8

  1. Rachel April 4, 2014 3:17 am

    Love that file organizer! I’ve been looking for something like that – small but still gives you lots of organization space!

  2. Em April 4, 2014 3:31 am

    Those folders sound fabulous! I love how intentional you are about creating a system that makes it easy for you to maximize the client experience – keeping all those special requests together must be so helpful!

  3. ANNIE April 5, 2014 8:40 pm

    More fantastic ideas, thank you Nancy. I’m loving this series, and certainly cannot wait for the next post on organising time. I like point one about cleaning everything immediately and packing away — good advice to translate to my kitchen! (The washing up can built a little).

  4. Karen April 7, 2014 2:23 pm

    I would love to know where that file folder organizer is from. Love it!

  5. Allison Mannella April 8, 2014 1:41 am

    Loving this series! I would love to know your organizational system for your film negatives. Thanks!

  6. Blubbering with Thankfulness | Jessica Jordana April 8, 2014 12:41 pm

    […] I told a bold-faced lie, the truth is that after I said that I read this post on boundaries and this post on organization in business from two of my favorite people, Lara Casey and Nancy Ray.  Convicted […]

  7. Jessa R. April 8, 2014 11:28 pm

    How lovely! Please share where the file folder organizer is from… I’m in dire need!

    • Nancy Ray April 14, 2014 2:52 pm

      @ Jessica R.
      It’s from Crate and Barrel. It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased it though, so I’m not sure they carry it any more!

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Apr 02-14


Mrs. Holland is simply stunning. She and Clay tied the knot on Saturday, and the wedding was everything I hoped it would be! They said I do at The Lofts at Union Square, and it was the perfect venue for this couple. The light streaming in the windows, a big open space for Kaitlin to display her beautiful furniture, textures and beauty all around us. It was unique, and it was perfectly them.

Kaitlin's bridal session at the Merrimon-Wynne house left me speechless. Nothing about it was stressful, but it was full of joy and anticipation. It was an elegant, clean space that was the perfect compliment to Kaitlin's whole look. Her bouquet by Tre Bella was nothing short of perfect. And her dress? It was made for her! Kaitlin, you made a lovely bride from the inside out. I'm sure you'll make an even lovelier wife! Congratulations on a beautiful celebration this weekend!



Comments: 2

  1. Lisa April 7, 2014 1:30 pm

    Oh my goodness….these are absolutely stunning! Kaitlin, you are a breathtaking bride!

  2. Mary April 16, 2014 10:50 pm

    STUNNING! I am in love with her dress!

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Apr 01-14

April Goals

Goals ~ by Nancy Ray ~ 2 comments


Here's my pep talk to myself this month:

"Reset and refocus. This is your time to SHINE: to work your tail off, while sleeping well, eating good things for your body, resting in sabbath with the Lord to recharge. You are doing what you love, Nancy Ray! Do it well. "

Yep, it's wedding season, y'all! That requires a good pep talk. I photographed my first wedding of the year this past weekend, and from now until June 21 there is at least 1 wedding (sometimes 2) to be photographed each Saturday, with the exception of 2 weekends: the first "free" weekend, we'll be attending Will's cousin's wedding in Georgia. The second, I'll be speaking at the ladies conference at my church!  I am grateful though. Ready to roll up my sleeves and get busy. Work is so rewarding and fulfilling when it's work that you love.

These next 3 months are going to take some serious goal setting and focus. I'm already a bit behind in my reading for the year, but I made some serious progress on cleaning out my home and studio. I just keep reminding myself that if I can do a little each day, I'll get where I'm supposed to be going.

April Goals

20 in 12: Read Who Moved My Cheese* and The Omnivore's Dilemma
Speak at Making Things Happen
Speak at the Pursue Workshop with Will via Skype (excited about this!)
Spring mini-sessions (there are still some spots left!)
*Write letters to sponsored kids
Computer folder cleanup. I'm in the process of organizing all of my business files and moving old folders to my new computer. Time consuming and a bit annoying, but it needs to get done!
*Take new "Goals" film photos
Celebrate David and Danae's wedding in Georgia, spend time with family, and watch Will officiate his first wedding!
Go to The Zoo! It's my birthday present from Will!
Get up to 12 miles on my road bike when the weather turns nice. Baby steps, y'all.

*Ankle tending: icing and PT exercises
Take a Sabbath
Hot Yoga or strength training 3x/week
Stay off social media 2 days/week
Sundays: reset household and laundry day

Morning Routine
ShootQ check in & workflow
Drink 4-5 waters (in my favorite tumbler)
Read 15-20 pages in my current book of choice
Sleep 10pm - 6am
Complete posture exercises

*Last month's goals that are yet to be accomplished

I'm currently speaking at Making Things Happen, where I happily turn in my phone and emails for 2 days. I'll be out of touch for a bit, but I've scheduled some blogposts while I'm away. Be sure to follow my Instagram for updates! I'll be returning to the studio on Wednesday!

Comments: 2

  1. Molly April 2, 2014 12:31 am

    Hi Nancy!

    Good luck on your goals for the month! I would love to help you accomplish one by gifting you with some stationery to use for your letter writing! If you’re interested just shoot me an email at molly@loveply.com with your mailing address and I’ll send something pretty your way!

    Cheers to April!



  2. Kyla F April 2, 2014 12:58 pm

    I really enjoy reading your monthly goals posts Nancy! Your goals have direction and purpose and inspire me to set strong goals for myself. I will pray that you are able to nurture yourself and spend time resting in Him during this busy season! :)

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Mar 31-14


A horseback trail ride adventure at the Biltmore - n / Sabbath rest and time to get outside and enjoy creation - w / Celebrated my bachelorette weekend at Lake Gaston with my closest friends - c

Photographed this sweet couple's engagement session - e / Winston sleeping on the job in the studio - n / Weekend getaway to the Biltmore Estate with my favorite person on the planet - w

Celebrating the Future Mr. and Mrs. Robin Joel Fleming with an Oyster Roast - c / 2 favorite guys - e / Enjoying the brief spring weather at Goodberry's, of course! - n


Brown Eye Blue Eye's amazing calligraphy class - n / Using my new moneymaker camera strap at a styled shoot with RRE - n / My sweet Dad's 50th birthday party - c

Wedding shower hosted by my dear three best friends - c / Kiwi claimed the stolen basket - e / Celebrating Callie at her sweet bachelorette weekend - n

Sweet new equipment for wedding season - w / Clear the clutter! Completed our first ever yardsale - n / love my fam - e


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Mar 28-14

Jared and Jordy. Even their names go together in the most adorable way! I loved capturing this sweet mini-engagement session. These two   are getting married in New York City, and I couldn't be happier for them. They kindly agreed to model for a styled shoot collaboration with my friend Becca (Jared is Becca's brother!), and they couldn't have been more beautiful. Becca warned me - they would be super fun and easy to work with since they are actors. I don't think I expected to laugh quite as much as I did! It was such a joy photographing these two. We added a mini-engagement session onto the end of our day together, and I got to see them really loosen up and just be themselves. Carefree, full of laughter, and real - I could have photographed them all day.

I discovered that Jordy is quite the calligrapher, too! She hand-lettered our paper goods for the styled shoot, and I was quite impressed. Be sure to look at her work on Instagram!

Grateful for you both, and blessings on your sweet wedding and marriage ahead!

Film Processing: Indie Film Lab


Below: I'm so in love with this image.


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Mar 26-14


This is the first post in a series on organization that I am so excited to share. Since writing this post back in 2009, my principles haven't changed, but many of the ways that I implement those principles have improved greatly. Goodness - technology alone has changed so much since then! (Hello, USB drives! Cloud software! High res downloading!)  Here is a quick summary of the areas of life I will be covering over the next 2 months:

How I Stay Organized

Work   -   Time   -  Home   -  Money  -  Personal  -  Spiritual

Before I move on - are there any areas of life I'm missing? Feel free to leave a comment if there is a particular area of life you are interested in hearing about.

I'll be blogging roughly once a week for the next 2 months to cover all of these important areas of life that require 2 main things:

1. Consistent and diligent work

2. Great systems and tools that work for you


Today's focus: How I stay organized in my work!


(Pictured above: My Monthly Goals (5) Powersheets (6) and Workflow Wall (10))

How I stay organized in my work

1. Keep my email inbox at zero.

This one isn't easy, friends. I don't succeed at this every day, but I strive to. The mark of a good business is healthy and quick communication. It's also important to have a great filing system within your emails, so once you respond, you can file it! Being an email ninja is key. More to come on how I quickly respond in my time organization.

2. ShootQ.

If you are a professional photographer and you don't use ShootQ, you're missing out. Yes, it's $40/month. If you can afford it, it's totally worth it. Here are the ways ShootQ keeps me organized: Email Correspondence / Lead management / Automated Billing / Automated Emails / Online payments accepted / Workflow implementation / Entire NRP team is in sync with workflows / Tracks referrals / Online contract signing / I have 40+ pre-drafted emails ready to send / iCal integration. 'Nuff said.

3. Back up photos on a regular basis.

I back up my RAW files 2 places as soon as I finish shooting a wedding/session:
- the Drobo  (has additional internal backup drive)
- 2014 External Harddrive

We back up high res completed JPEGS 3 places as soon as we finish the workflow for a shoot:
- the Drobo (has additional internal backup drive)
- 2014 External Harddrive
- DVD labeled and alphabetized
- (4th location: the client's home after final delivery!)

4. Day Designer / Simplified Planner.

My favorite thing about these planners is the ability to map out your day, hour by hour. The first thing I do every day is prioritize my tasks, then schedule my hours for maximum productivity. I am currently using the Day Designer, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I'll be trying the Simplified planner for the last 6 months of this year, so I can experience both! More to come on how I effectively use my planner in the upcoming post on how I organize my time.

5. Setting monthly goals.

I love setting goals, as you know. I've been blogging my monthly goals on the 1st of every month for almost 5 years now. (I think this is my first ever monthly goals blogpost!) This keeps the big picture aspect of my business organized. When I can step back and look at a chunk of time, even if it's just 1 month at a time, I accomplish things that I would otherwise let slip away. 

6. Powersheets.

Love love love my powersheets. They are a powerful tool for setting goals 6 months at a time, which is a manageable way to plan and track even bigger, long term goals for your business. They are wonderful! My favorite part is the "Tending List" you see pictured at the very top of this blogpost. It breaks down your monthly goals into weekly and daily tasks. I keep this on my desk. That way, my big goals are always in front of me.

Part 2 of Organization in Work is coming soon, so stay tuned!

Comments: 9

  1. Mattye March 28, 2014 1:33 am

    The first thing I thought when I read this was, YES! This is good stuff! Thank you for sharing! It is so, so good to see how other people manage and make the most of their time. I can’t wait to see part 2! Also, I have to agree that powersheets- tending list especially- are a complete game changer. They are so very effective for setting, tracking and accomplishing goals!

  2. ANNIE March 28, 2014 9:53 am

    YES! Love organisation posts. (I’m an organisation junkie myself). I’ve heard the “inbox to zero daily” mantra from you a few times, in posts, Instagram etc. Today it’s sinking in. New goal!

  3. Ashley Flores March 28, 2014 3:55 pm

    Oh this looks like it’s going to be a great series!

  4. Organization in Work: Part 2 | Nancy Ray Photography April 3, 2014 2:23 pm

    […] sure to read Part 1 of How I stay Organized in my work if you missed […]

  5. Kaya April 5, 2014 3:13 pm

    Hi Nancy! These tips are great! Thanks so much! I would love to see more about the Work Flow Wall! It looks so good!


  6. Kick in the Spandies Saturday | Jessica Jordana April 12, 2014 3:07 pm

    […] Ray’s Organization Series (One, Two and Three):  I believe I’ve read each of these posts at least 2-3 times.  Nancy is a […]

  7. Organization in my Spiritual Life: Part 2 | Nancy Ray Photography June 10, 2014 5:57 pm

    […] Organization in Work: Part 1 […]

  8. Holly September 21, 2014 10:17 pm

    Hi! I’m thinking about this planner vs the Colorvale Photographer’s Planner. What made you choose this one?! :)

    • Nancy Ray September 22, 2014 4:15 pm

      @Holly – The color vale planner looks wonderful! I had never heard of it until you posted about it. I chose the other planner because I don’t only want to focus on my business, but I also like to schedule in personal life events. Hope this helps!

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Photographer, wife, and worshiper... I am a Southern girl who looks most forward to waking up each morning to drink my coffee, read my Bible, and soak in the beauty that surrounds me. These pages chronicle my work, my life, and the things that I love most. You'll also hear from Callie, Will, and Elizabeth - my amazing team who has so much to offer. Thanks for visiting, I do hope you stay a while!
Nancy Ray
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