Top 3’s of 2023

This week’s episode of Keeping It Candid is a fun recap of some of my favourite things from 2023. I hope you enjoy it!

Sandra Henderson (00:00.174)
Welcome back to the podcast, friends. Happy 2024. Happy New Year. I am so excited to finally be back after an unexpected hiatus in Q4 of last year. I started November going to San Diego for a retreat with my business coach and some of the amazing ladies that I’m in a mastermind with. And it quickly turned into me catching the flu when I got home. Then my husband and stepson both got COVID.

I got a sinus infection, I lost my voice, I got bronchitis. It was just one thing after another and after about a month and a half of being sick and losing my voice, I knew that I just had to throw in the towel on the podcast for the rest of the year and take some time off to rest and finally feel better. So.

I am finally back recording this episode for the beginning of January and it is going to be one to start the year off with some easy listening. Normally I encourage you to go and grab a notebook and pen so that you can take notes, but today I’m going to be diving into my top threes of 2023 so you can just sit back and enjoy. Welcome to Keeping It Candid. I’m your host Sandra Henderson, an international wedding and family photographer and business coach.

I help wedding photographers use systems to build out the back end of their businesses to gain control and continue to thrive no matter what life throws their way. And on a more personal note, I’m a strong Enneagram three -wing too who is obsessed with tacos. And my love for traveling combined with navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner. Join me every week for a candid behind the scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer.

where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends, so go grab your favorite notebook and pen and let’s dive into this week’s episode.

Sandra Henderson (01:57.046)
Alright, let’s get started with some of my top three photography related things. The top three things that I had in my camera bag in 2023. First is my mirrorless camera. I bought a Nikon Z6 II in November of 2022. Yes, I said Zed because I’m a Canadian and that’s just how you roll. And I will be totally honest, I was really hesitant to get on board with mirrorless cameras.

When it comes to most things, especially technology, I’m an if it’s not broken, don’t fix it kind of girl. And so I just had no reason to replace my camera. I also think it’s so much more important to know how to use your gear really well than it is to always have the newest camera bodies and lenses on the market. But I had a chance to do a trade in deal that I could not pass up and got this mirrorless camera and I am obsessed.

The capabilities that it has for low light conditions, the quality of the photo that is coming directly out of camera, it is incomparable to the camera that I had before when I was using the D750. It was a great camera, but this one is, it just blows it out of the water. So I’m super happy that I made this switch. Next, number two in my camera bag for 2023 is my 70 to 200 lens.

It’s a beast. I literally have to go to Cairo and massage therapy regularly to get my wrist adjusted because the weight of this lens is just unreal after a really long day, like after eight hours of carrying this around at a wedding, my wrist is pretty much done. But it’s worth the trade off for me because I absolutely love the depth of field that you get with this lens. The bokeh on it is absolutely beautiful.

and I just haven’t found another lens that compares and gives me that same quality that I’m looking for. I used to use an 85 all the time, like I’ve tried all the different lenses, but I’m willing to take the weight of the 7200 because it is just my favorite. And then number three is the color -coded memory card cases that I have. So I have three different cases that I keep in my camera bag. One’s yellow, one’s blue, and one is red.

Sandra Henderson (04:09.294)
The yellow and blue are used for my 32 and 64 gig memory cards. I do use smaller cards because I try to change them out throughout a wedding day. That way, if worst case scenario, anything were to happen to one of my cards, then it would only be the getting ready photos or a small section of the day rather than the whole day being lost. So I just have never had a reason to upgrade to like 128 gig cards or larger. The 32 and 64 work perfectly for what I need them for.

And then the red case is for any cards that I have just finished using that need to be uploaded. Once they bring them into my office, I do actually have a fourth case that stays in here.

And that’s where I put all of my cards after they’ve been uploaded, but before they’ve been delivered to the client. So I never reuse them until long after my client has downloaded their photos and we have finished our time working together. And I thankfully have enough cards that I just used one at the end of 2023 that had photos on it from fall of 2022. So having enough cards is how I make that possible, but that’s a little side tangent.

Anyway, let’s keep going with some of my favorite extras in my camera bag. I’ve had a Buzz Patch stickers for quite a while to use on myself and on my clients because they’re really small citronella stickers that are easy to hide in people’s clothes. But I did some sessions in September that were in a park and we had more mosquitoes than I have ever dealt with on any given day, but especially in this park.

So my first client of the day actually said that she had citronella wristbands in her car and she ran to get them and it was a lifesaver. So I’ve actually bought more to put in my camera bag because I was able to just wear it around my wrist and with the time of year that it was, my clients were all wearing long sleeves in their photos and so I was able to actually tuck them up inside the sleeves for the kids and things like that to help protect them from the mosquitoes during their session.

Sandra Henderson (06:07.182)
I don’t know if anyone else out there feels the way I do about mosquitoes, but mosquito bites are one of my least favourite things in the entire world. There are not enough expletives in the English language to really appropriately describe how much I hate mosquito bites. I’m not allergic to them, I am just hyper sensitive to the itching and I won’t sleep for days until they go away and it’s just…

I hate it so much. So anything that will save me from the mosquitoes and save my clients from the mosquitoes, I’m going to take it. Now, number two in my camera bag is the shower curtain that I always have. Seems pretty random, but I use this because it is really easy to wrap around a few people or a big wedding dress when you’re needing to move from one location to another on a wedding day.

I always have umbrellas too, but as we all know when we’re using umbrellas, it’s really only doing a great job of protecting our heads, our shoulders, and then some of our torso. But our legs are pretty much at the hands of nature. And so I want to do what I can to try and keep my clients dry in between photos. And the shower curtain is just a great way to do that, especially with big ball gowns and things like that are a little bit more difficult to move quickly in. Okay, my top three systems for 2023.

First should be absolutely no surprise to anybody who listens to the podcast, but that would be HoneyBook. HoneyBook is the CRM system that I use for my business. I’ve been using it for more than six years now, and I truly don’t know how I would manage day to day without it. I’m not gonna go on a huge tangent about all the features or anything like that. There’s lots of other episodes on it, and I just wanna keep things nice and quick and easy today, but if you’re looking for a new CRM or new management for…

or new management for your client files, then you definitely want to go and check it out. Next is PickTime, which if you go back a couple episodes on the podcast, I actually did a whole episode on PickTime’s integration with HoneyBook. So now you can easily get all of the information for your client galleries inside your client’s HoneyBook file. And you can do things like automate when someone makes a payment in HoneyBook, it’s automatically creating a gallery for them in PickTime.

Sandra Henderson (08:22.414)
Little things like that are going to be such a game changer and I’m super excited to start playing around with those automations and see what kinds of things I can do for 2024. Then last but not least, we have Imagine AI, which I may or may not have been fangirling about all year because it has been the biggest game changer for my post -session and post -wedding workflow. I’m able to get things done so much faster and especially after a wedding when my body really needs a lot of time to rest and recover.

It gives me so much peace of mind knowing that my photos are being edited while I’m resting on the couch taking a nap. One thing that I think is always important to remember about AI is that it’s meant to be a tool to help you work more efficiently, not replace you all together. So I am able to get through a wedding in a fraction of the time, but I’m just going through and making little tweaks.

The base editing for my tones and white balance and things like that is all being done by Imagine and it’s honestly like having my own in -house private editor. Speaking of editing tools, let’s talk about my top three of those for 2023. First is AI Select in Lightroom. This came out at the end of 2022 and it has been so much fun to play around with. It saves so much time from having to like zoom in with a brush and try and get all those individual little pixels.

If you haven’t played around with the AI select people yet, definitely check that out because you can literally get as specific as just selecting their lips, just selecting someone’s white of their eyes, just selecting their shirt, and it really will make your life so much easier for making those fine tune adjustments in Lightroom and not having to pull those photos into Photoshop. Next, we’re still in Lightroom for the number two spot, and that is the denoise feature.

I did some holiday mini sessions in studio at the beginning of December and I intentionally decided not to use a flash because I really wanted the lights on the trees to glow. And I know that I could have done that with flash but I was just in the studio for a short amount of time. It’s a rental studio so I didn’t have a lot of time to really play around with my lighting and so I just decided to make the best of it with my manual camera settings and the natural window light and worry about the rest.

Sandra Henderson (10:36.182)
When I tell you that these photos were so fucking grainy like they were almost unusable but I ran them through Lightroom Denoise overnight because my computer is slow as shit and They you never would have known that there was a single bit of grain in them when I looked at them the next morning They were still sharp. They were smooth and they were everything that I needed them to be When it comes to things like low light wedding receptions nighttime weddings and things like that. I

This feature is going to be a game changer for so many different scenarios. And then last, in the third spot, we have Topaz Sharpen AI or possibly Topaz AI Sharpen. Either way, you get the idea. I forgot to look up and double check what order those words went in before I started recording. But what this does, I use it as a last step after I’ve exported my photos.

after I’ve exported my photos out of Lightroom, but before I upload them into a gallery to send to my client. If there are any photos that I have missed focus on or somebody has moved, I’m able to run those through Topaz to have them sharpened so that you would never know that there was any issue with them. It’s different than the sharpen feature that you’ll find in Lightroom with the slider because the slider is just sort of trying to make the best of what you already have.

When you put it into Topaz, the AI feature is actually able to modify the pixels of your photo to make them more sharp. It’s really kind of hard to explain, especially because I’m not a super technical person, but if that’s something that you think would be helpful to you in your business, I highly recommend going to check it out. If your photos are completely out of focus or have huge motion blur, it’s not going to be able to save those. But for anything that is just subtly off or if you zoom in, you can notice the difference, maybe,

you focus on a tree behind a couple or something like that, those types of photos are definitely going to be saveable with Topaz. All right, that’s all I’ve got for…

Sandra Henderson (12:37.548)
All right, that’s all I’ve got for the… All right, that’s all I’ve got for photography related top threes. Next, I wanna talk about my chronic illness toolkit and what my top three for 2023 were in there. First is the Moody app. If you’ve seen me in person anytime over the last few months, there’s a good chance that I’ve talked your ear off about this. I’m not affiliated with the company in any way. I am just genuinely obsessed with this app and the information that it can give you.

when you’re tracking your menstrual cycle. There’s free and paid versions. I just use the free version, but I use it to track my cycle and my symptoms. And it has features like graphs to show you how your symptoms are fluctuating with your hormones. It gives you tips on things that you can eat during your cycle to support your body and your hormones. It also gives you things like suggestions on different foods and nutrients you can provide your body at different parts of your cycle. And…

It gives you tips on exercise. It gives you tips on getting a better sleep. There’s so much information in this app. And for someone like me who has endometriosis, tracking my cycle is the only way that I can feel like I have some sort of control over my life. So being able to get that in depth in the information around my hormones has been a total game changer in planning how my work week goes.

Hey friends, I’m interrupting this amazing interview for a quick second to let you know about a brand-new freebie that I just released. If you want to give your wedding workflow a refresh this year, or if you’ve never had a workflow at all, run Don’t Walk over to my website, and steal my wedding workflow. This is the exact 16-step workflow that I use in my own wedding photography business. And it’s ready to help you take your clients from the time they book with you,

right through until you’ve finished your time together and are asking for reviews. All you need to do is input these steps into your favorite CRM system, add in your email templates, and voila! You’ve got a complete wedding workflow and can start delivering an incredible client experience while getting some of your freedom back at the same time. Head to to get your copy.

Sandra Henderson (14:55.598)
Number two is my ergonomic seat cushion. And again, if you have seen me in person at any point over the last few years, you have definitely seen me walking around with a cushion clipped to my back and I bring this with me everywhere. I actually have a few different ones. I have one in my office, I have one in my car, and I have one that I bring with me on the go. These seat cushions are because I have a lot of pelvic pain from endometriosis and I can’t really sit.

on regular chairs or hard surfaces for more than about five, 10 minutes before I start getting really uncomfortable. And the longer that I’m having to sit there for, the worse the pain starts to get. And it does get to the point where I start having trouble walking and it takes me days to start feeling better again. So using these seat cushions has been a game changer in managing that pain and just helping me stay comfortable when I’m out and enjoying my life.

I used to be in agony after a long editing session in my office. So if that is something that you struggle with, even if it’s not endometriosis related, if you’re having back problems or anything like that, definitely pop on Amazon and get an ergonomic seat cushion because you will definitely notice the difference. And then number three is my running shoes. And I really hated putting this at number three. I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m not really ready to be in this sensible shoe era of my life.

I’ve always been a cute flats kind of girl and runners were something that I only ever wore if I was going to the gym. But here we are. I’m 36 now. I have chronic illnesses. My joints and my body is not what it used to be. And so I’m trying to embrace this running shoe life. It doesn’t help that my running shoes are so ugly and they don’t match anything that I own.

They were cheap $20 runners that I bought at Walmart one day just because I needed them. And they are like gray and purple. Not only do like they’re not tones that match one another, but purple is my least favorite color. They were just the only ones that Walmart had in my size that day and I was in a jam. So I bought them and they’re comfortable. Give them that. But they’re just so ugly. So I definitely need to buy some new runners.

Sandra Henderson (17:16.174)
If you have some recommendations for cute ones, I want you to slide over to Instagram, hop into my DMs and give me some recommendations because it kills my soul a little bit every time I have to wear these shoes. That being said, my joints feel better, my limbs feel better, my body overall just feels so much better after I’m working. So I’m gonna have to make peace with it. And any tips you guys wanna give me, I’m here for it. Next, let’s talk about some…

Top Culture Favorites. My top three favorite shows for 2023. Two of the three are Bravo shows and I easily could have made all three Bravo shows because that’s pretty much all I watched last year. Nobody really warned me that it quickly becomes your entire personality when you watch Bravo. But here we are learning that lesson and having no regrets about it because it’s just the kind of entertainment that I need in my life right now.

I started watching Real Housewives here and there in 2022, but it wasn’t until a scandal broke in early last year that I really just needed to know what all the hype was about. And so I started watching Vanderpump Rules and I’m obsessed. I can’t help it. I know there are definitely going to be some listeners who feel the same way. And it really just spiraled me into watching more and more and more Bravo shows. So number two, also a Bravo show is Below Deck Sailing Yacht.

And then number three was the summer I turned pretty. That was the show on in Canada. Anyway, it was on Amazon Prime. I’m not sure if it’s the same for any of our US listeners, but it was just a super cute show. I really liked the storyline. I liked the actors. I loved the soundtrack so much T Swift and it was just really fun to watch. I tried to read the books and just a couple of days ago decided that it was going to be the first in my didn’t finish trial of 2024.

The show I just enjoy more. So this year I’m not forcing myself to read books that I’m not into and I got about halfway through and just decided I’m gonna hold it and find out what happens when the next season comes out. For my top three favorite movies, Barbie obviously gets the number one spot. I was so excited for this movie to come out long before they released a trailer or anything. I had no idea what to expect.

Sandra Henderson (19:40.75)
but I just knew that it was going to be fun. So I was super pumped for it. And then when it came out, I was blown away by the storyline. I was blown away by how well it was put together. America Ferrera’s speech at the end makes me cry every time I watch it. It was just such a well done movie. And I’m so, so glad that it turned out to be better than I was expecting it to be. It would not have surprised me even a little bit if it turned out to be a super ridiculous and something that turned into a cult classic.

I would have been really happy with that too. But as a feminist, I’m just loving all the messages behind Barbie and I can’t wait to see what happens if we get more Barbie or if people take this as inspiration for new storylines. But we need more of it. Now, my next choice is a movie called After and some of the subsequent movies that came in the series After it, not the very last one because it is so far from the original storyline.

makes no sense at all. But anyway, these movies and I’m going to talk about them again in books, I just really enjoyed the way they depicted the relationship between the main characters. In full honesty, one word that you could describe it is toxic. It is not a relationship that people want to model theirs after whatsoever. But the reason why I really liked it is because I appreciated that it showed

dynamics of a relationship for both the main characters and some of the sub characters that weren’t all sunshine and rainbows. And I’m always a really big fan of things that are realistic and relatable. We all know it doesn’t matter if it’s your relationship with your partner, if it’s a relationship with friends, if it’s a relationship with family, even a relationship with your kids. Relationships aren’t easy. They all have ebbs and flows and ups and downs.

And so it’s just really refreshing to see things that are not all sunshine and rainbows all the time. And then last but not least, this movie called Love at First Sight that came out on Netflix at the end of last year. Again, thought it was super cute. 2023 was definitely a year of romances for me. I really liked that the storyline for a romance movie was different. It wasn’t the same thing that has been done over and over and over again.

Sandra Henderson (22:02.232)
I would like if you watch a Hallmark Christmas movie over the winter, you know it’s the same framework for the storyline for every single movie. And so it was really nice to have one that had its own flow. Jamila Jamila’s in it and she’s always fantastic. So if you haven’t seen it, definitely go and check that one out. Just a couple more to go. So let’s talk about my top three favorite books for 2023.

These are actually book series because I couldn’t narrow it down to just one book. So first we have the after series, which I was just talking about that movie. There are books and movies. Normally if I watch the movie or TV show something first and then I read the book, I won’t get through the book. Just like I was saying with the summer, I turned pretty. And a lot of times if I read the book first, it ends up the movie just can’t hold up to it. So it’s…

It’s usually a toss up, but with the after series, I definitely equally loved the books and the movies. One didn’t take away from the other. And even though they are fairly different, they’re still consistent enough that it doesn’t throw you off across the whole story. Next for number two is the Things We Left Behind series by Lucy Skor. There were three books in this series, each one about the first two were about brothers and then the third one was about their friend.

These books as well as the after series books are a little spicy so if that’s not your jam you may want to take a pass on these. But these Lucy score books were really really well written and I couldn’t put them down. I got through them so quickly because all I wanted to do was keep turning pages. I can’t tell you how many nights I stayed up way past when I normally go to sleep because I just couldn’t put it down. Number three is the Brown Sisters series by Talia Hibbert.

These books were so funny and so enjoyable to read. And I really loved that there was a culturally diverse cast of characters, plus storylines that revolved around things like chronic illness, neurodivergency, and navigating both family and personal relationships. They were so incredibly relatable. Like, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, which is the first book in the series, is about a woman with a chronic illness who adopts a cat named Smudge. And I have…

Sandra Henderson (24:21.102)
chronic illnesses and a cat named Smudge, so definitely, definitely relatable for me. But just really enjoyable read and I’ve been recommending these books to everybody. Now to wrap up my top threes, I want to talk about the top three trips that I took for 2023. And first, I’m going to start with my trip to San Diego that I took in November.

This was a retreat with my business coach, Candice Coppola, and a bunch of incredible women from the mastermind that I have been working in for the last few years. These women are all so amazing, so inspiring, and being able to spend a few days with them brainstorming about our businesses and coming up with goals and supporting each other on how we’re going to get there was just the most amazing experience.

If you have any opportunities this year to participate in any sort of group coaching or retreats or anything like that, I highly, highly recommend you do it because there isn’t really a proper way to explain how incredible it is until you experience it yourself. Number two, speaking of going to conferences and things like that, last January I went to Dallas for the Creative Educator Conference.

I’m unfortunately not going to the 2024 conference and I have major FOMO about that, but it was just such a great opportunity to get together with other creative educators to better our businesses and the offers that we’re creating for people like you listening. And then number three was a trip to Niagara Falls that I took with my husband last March. It was my 10 year anniversary for my business in…

It was my 10 year anniversary of my photography business on the same day that Niagara Falls was turning yellow for Endometriosis Awareness Month. So we got a hotel and we went down for the weekend. I’m obsessed with Niagara Falls. It’s one of my favorite places in all of Ontario to go to. And we got dressed up. We went out for a nice dinner. We got some.

Sandra Henderson (26:21.952)
amazing cake boss cake from a vending machine which sounds sketchy but oh my god it was so good and i’m still talking about it almost a year later and then we watched the falls change from the comfort of our hotel room so we didn’t have to go down and freeze over by the water it was just such a nice relaxing weekend and still kind of surreal to think that we were celebrating 10 years since i had started my photography business back in 2013 i had to give myself a few moments

while we were there to just kind of take it all in and let myself celebrate such a huge milestone that I don’t know if I ever actually thought would happen. Like it was something that I hoped would happen, that I dreamed of it happening, but I don’t know if Sandra back in 2013 really thought that it was possible. So that was an awesome experience for sure. Now, as we head into 2024,

I’ve decided that I’m going to be tackling my goals quarterly this year rather than trying to come up with a full forecasting game plan for the entire year. There are some things that I want to do in Q3 and Q4 that are really dependent on some factors happening in Q1 and Q2. So it just doesn’t make sense for me to try and plan things out that I know are very likely going to have to change. So I’ve come up with some sales goals for Q1. I’ve come up with some personal goals and some fun goals.

but I also took some time to really think about the kind of impact that I want my businesses to make this year. So here’s what that looks like for Q1. I want to focus on creating content that will help photographers, especially my chronic illness friends, simplify the way they do things behind the scenes. I want to continue to build and foster communities where everyone feels safe, seen and heard. And I want to have fun because running a business shouldn’t always be stressful.

Having these impact goals in mind has really given me perspective to filter everything that I’m doing over the next few months. It’s helped me think about how I wanna show up for my clients and how I wanna show up in online spaces. It’s given me so much clarity. So if you’ve never taken the time to think about the kind of impact you want your business to make, here’s the perfect time to do it. We’re now in off season. You’ll have a little bit extra time compared to what you do in the summer. So take some time and really think about not just,

Sandra Henderson (28:41.742)
what kind of money you want to make this year or how many weddings you want to book, but how you want your couples to feel and what kind of impact you want to make on them in the time that you’re going to be working with them. And that wraps up everything I have for this episode, friends. Thank you so much for listening and thank you for coming back after this unexpected hiatus. I’m going to be back next week with our very first interview of 2024, where my friend Erin from Maybelline Q &I are chatting all about accessibility in your business.

Thank you so much for listening. You can find full show notes from today’s episode at In the meantime, let’s connect. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok, just search SimplySandraYvonne. And if you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honored if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave a review. Until next time.

About Sandra

headshot of sandra henderson for the keeping it candid podcast

Sandra Henderson is a wedding photographer, business coach, and podcast host based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in helping wedding photographers create strategic systems for their businesses to help them get their time back so they can spend it doing the things they love most. As an entrepreneur who also navigates chronic illness life, Sandra also takes a unique approach to using systems that will help businesses thrive no matter what life throws your way.

On a personal note, she loves tacos, 90’s music, travelling, and spending time at home with her husband, step-son, and two cats!

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a little girl and little boy run away from a wave coming up behind them at the beach. photo is used in a blog post sharing show notes from the podcast Keeping It Candid

January 23, 2024

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