May 2, 2011

Ones to Watch: The Solars

Good afternoon & welcome back!

You’re here just in time to check out our next installment of Ones to Watch with none other than Josh & Jenny Solar (and family!!) I first met these two when Jenny came to our WPPI platform two years ago. We started emailing shortly after that, and it wasn’t long at all before I was head over heels in love with all things Solar. We got to connect with these guys again most recently when they made the trip from Kansas City out to the OC for our Spread the Love & Walk Through a Wedding out there. And more importantly, we got to catch up on all the amazing things they’ve been doing, the newest of which being the Happy Family Movement. I know you’re going to love this idea as much as I do.

So sit back, relax and just prepare yourself to fall as as head over heels as we did!

Ones to Watch: The Solars

1) You guys have three kids, a business, a busy travel schedule…how do you balance it all? What’s the hardest part about having a business AND a family?

With 3 little kids in our house (Max is 6, Ava’s 4, and Lia is 2 1/2), we are definitely busy!! A lot of it boils down to routine and schedule. When we’re not traveling, our schedule is pretty much the same every week. We plan out our time and TRY to maintain a balance between work and family. We really value our time with our kids, so we only work one day during the week. We do the rest of our working at night, after the kiddos are in bed. We plan our shoots around the kids schedules, so that we can be at most of their sports practices and games. We also schedule time every week for one on one dates with each of the kids. And we both attend all of Max’s kindergarten parties, field trips, and lunch every Friday. And on the rare weekend we aren’t shooting, we’re ready for adventure! Sometimes adventure shows up in the form of pancakes and lightsaber fighting in the backyard. Sometimes it shows up as a spur of the moment, fly by the seat of our pants road trip.

When we are working, Josh’s parents hang out with our babies. They are a huge part of our success. It’s awesome knowing that we can give 100% of our time and attention to the people we’re shooting, instead of worrying about the kids. And they love hanging out with their Papa & Ee, so it’s a win win. We also have a lot of routines. We have a routine for bed time, one for getting Max out the door to school, one for dinnertime, etc. We’re also crazy organized and we have dry erase boards all over the kitchen with our week’s schedule, Max’s school stuff, the shopping list, and chore chart. We do travel a lot, but most of our traveling we do with our kids, so it’s a great way to squeeze in more family time. We don’t get much work done while we’re traveling, so we try to squeeze in a few late nights before and after we travel to get it all done.

The hardest part about having a business AND a family is the guilt you feel when you’re playing with the kids instead of working and vice versa… Because the to do list NEVER ends and there’s always something you could be doing. I also think it comes down to lowering your expectations on some things… Like the laundry might not always be done and the kitchen is a mess constantly, but that’s okay.

2) What are your three can’t live without parts of your business/workflow?

1) Efficient workflow. Right now, we don’t outsource our editing (Don’t worry Justin & Mary, it’s a goal for this year!). So, we’ve made our workflow as efficient as possible. We use Photo Mechanic to cull images because it’s lightning fast. We use Lightroom to color correct (and Josh is totally digging the Motibodo keyboard he got at WPPI!). And we batch most of our editing with actions we’ve bought or created using Photoshop. We also keep our editing very simple, basic color and black & white, which minimizes our work time and keeps our images looking more real and timeless.

2) ShootQ. Holy moly! We’ve only been ShootQ users for like a month, but let me tell you, it’s worth every penny! We spent some time really getting our workflows down to a science. Then I entered them into ShootQ and now, when we have a shoot, a wedding, or an ordering session, I pop it into ShootQ and it tells us all the things we need to do. And let me tell you, I LOVE lists and checking stuff off. So it has taken all of the burden of remembering what needs to be done off of me. Oh joy!

3) Each other. We know that we’re super blessed to be doing this business together. We both have backgrounds in business, but Josh is definitely more of the creative side and I’m more the organized/business side. And that has been so great in keeping a balance in our business. Josh does the editing, the blogging, SEO, and handles keeping the websites and blogs up to date. He also shoots most of the engagement sessions alone. I do the ordering sessions and handle most of the scheduling, album design, print orders, bookkeeping, and all the other million little things it takes to make a business successful. We try to each do the parts of the business that we’re best at.

3) What does your ideal client look like? How are you going about finding people/weddings like that?

Our ideal wedding client is a couple who is madly in love, fun, down to earth, happy, has close relationships with friends and family, and values our photography. We don’t advertise and we avoid bridal shows at all costs! We want all of our clients to come to us from a past client or a vendor we love working with. People in general tend to be friends with people who are similar to them. So if we shoot the wedding of a couple who is perfect for us, we really want to shoot all their friends’ weddings. We have a blast shooting their wedding, put up a slideshow of images at the reception, and rock out Justin & Mary’s facbook/blog workflow as well as the client experiences (if you’ve been to Spread the Love, you know what I’m talking about! And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?!). We try to overwhelm them with such an amazing experience that they can’t help but rave about us to their friends.We also try to network with vendors that we love and who have the same passion we do for weddings and their clients. That way, if they send us some potential clients, they are typically a great fit for us.

4) Tell us about the Happy Family movement. It sounds awesome!

The Happy Family Movement is something we are SO SO proud of. We just launched it in late March, while we were road tripping with the family. We talk a lot about what mark we want to leave on this world. How can we make the world a better place? What do WE have to offer? We’ve spent many nights up late talking about just that… about what we’re passionate about. About our WHY. Why do we do what we do? WHY do we choose to live our life the way we do?

And it always comes back to our relationships with our loved ones. The ones we’re connected to the most, each other and our kids. We live our life pretty unconventionally. Both Jenny & I are pretty much stay at home parents. When we are spending time away from our kids, it’s doing something we love, photographing couples in love and families with strong connections. Being with our kids and doing what we love has taught us many things, but the most important is that we should be LOVING the life we’re living, and we do our best to do just that. We like to have fun with our kids. We love traveling with them and visiting new places. We’re pretty spontaneous. We’re trying our best to live a life full of joy, and to do the things we love with our amazing kiddos.

So, where does that leave us? With a new project, this project, The Happy Family Movement. It started with a tiny idea and happy music, but it also started with a much bigger idea, years ago, an idea that WE could raise a happy, loving family. An idea that WE could do things differently, that WE could have fun with our kids, that WE could live by our own rules. So, here it is: our newest project, something we couldn’t possibly be more excited about or more proud of.

So, what is the Happy Family Movement? It’s simple ideas for happy family living. I’ll leave you with our manifesto and then encourage you to visit the website ( to find out more for yourself!

Raising a happy, loving family is one of the most important things we will do in this lifetime.
Because we know that happy kids raised in joy-filled environments will change the world.
That’s why we believe in …
jumping on the bed;
pancakes for dinner;
laughing ‘til you cry;
loving unconditionally.
We believe in creating memorable experiences for our family and sharing that love with the world.
We believe happiness is not something you find. It’s something you make.
So go ahead… Cut loose. Live out loud. Love a lot!
The Happy Family Movement.

5) Where will the Solars be in 5 years? (Both business & life)

In five years, all of our kiddos will be in full time school. So we’ll be spending 8:45 am to 3:45 pm every day squeezing in all of our editing, portrait sessions, grocery shopping, laundry, and blogging. We want to make sure that we’ll have our evenings with our kids, since we won’t our days with them anymore. We hope to still be shooting quite a few weddings and probably a few more family sessions. We plan on traveling more… a lot more! In five years, we want to have enough money saved so that we can take 4 weeks off during the summer (aka wedding season!) to travel to Europe with the kids. And hopefully, we’ll still have our sense of adventure!

much love,
the Solars

  1. Alicia Candelora

    I love everything about them! This was my favorite "ones to watch" post to date.

  2. Gina Meola

    Wonderful couple!! Great insight. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. josh

    Thanks to both of you for featuring us in your Ones to Watch series. I know that we’ve learned a ton from the others and I hope we have something to offer others. Justin & Mary, we love you both :)

  4. Yesenia Emeric

    I got to meet the Solars at the OC Spread the Love also and just love their Happy Family Movement site! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Stacy Conner

    YAY! Jenny & Josh are awesome. I’m so glad you featured them. They are wonderful and their photographs are fabulous!

  6. Ray

    First off: LOVE that silhouette photo of "The Solars" (cool last name). It’s so kick ass. Like they’re Super Hero’s taking on the world. =o) And secondly: they sound like such great people. I need to check out their site.

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