Yes, major caffeine rush and no one here to talk to. lol! TWO blog posts in one day!
Ok, it’s no secret to anyone who has followed me for awhile that I am very upfront in the respect that I feel like I started my photography business bass ackwards. Seriously. I had lots of FRIENDS AND FAMILY tell me that my work was awesome and should go into business. So, after a couple of years of hearing it, I did just that. I did it without knowing my camera, (Yep, was totally rocking auto) and without knowing diddly squat about photoshop. (I did know the “heal” tool, so I could take off a zit. lol!) But, in all seriousness. I look back now and KNOW that I was doing a disservice to my photography as a profession. Did I hurt anyone, absolutely not. I was charging rock bottom prices, along with a CD, for my uneducated work. I was killing me. Maybe I made people expect that every photog should charge next to nothing AND giveaway the rights to their images. Not a good thing.
After a year of this, of course I got better. As with anything, if you practice enough, you’ll get better. Really. I was over worked, stressed, and coming dangerously close to burnout. I knew that I had to raise my prices, but I didn’t value my work enough. I didn’t think that it was “worth it.” If I didn’t feel that it was worth it, how could I expect anyone else to?? So, I did two things. First, I started educating my self. I learned to work my camera in Manual. Scary as crap going on that first photoshoot with all the intention of not “faking” it. I won’t lie, I got scared and switched back during that session. Well, I was determined. I started upgrading equipment. How on earth could I justify charging more when I was still rocking the kit lens? So, I upgraded from the D70 to the D90. No, not a huge step, but I still didn’t know my camera. I wanted to use it until I knew WHY I needed to upgrade. One year later, I upgraded to the D700. Yes, totally rocking camera! AND I knew how to use it. Well, ok, I still don’t know it all, but I do shoot manual. I also shoot in RAW because.. One, I do like the security backup that if I “blow” the settings, I can try to save the image. Two, I like working with all of the information that a RAW file holds.
Forgive for skipping around. Caffeine has me hyper, not good for my ADD when I have so much information that I have been wanting to share.
Next, I KNEW that I needed help with my business. I have NO experience with having a business. I have literally spent every dime( still do- I’m working on this) that has come into my business on new props, equipment, new iMac (which I now love,) new camera/lens, actions, etc. I realized that I needed to grab hold of this addiction and get my business into BUSINESS shape. No, I still haven’t accomplished it yet, but I’m working on it. One purchase that helped tremendously was Alicia Caine’s Easy as Pie pricing/business advice. You can click HERE to find it. It helped me realize that my work wasn’t just snapping a shutter button. I put so much time, money, effort into my business. An average session last 1-2 hours, newbies 2-3. That’s just during the session. I then spend an average of 3-4 hours editing from the time I hook up my camera, perform an initial sort, a final sort, then editing begins. After that comes FB and blogging plus uploading the session to my online cart and emailing my client. I spend at least an hour each day answering emails. Next comes ordering, album design if those are ordered, packaging, delivering, etc. Between my nursing job and five (yes 5) children, I realized that my customer service area was/is lacking. I get along fabuously with my clients during our session, then I lost track. I apologize. Since I need hand-holding and learn from “hands on,” I made yet another purchase. This time I purchased a customer service tool. It’s called Lux Undercover. You can find it HERE. Awesome tips and common sense help. Ok, maybe not so “common sense” since I was lacking. I am in the middle of implementing these practices. Current clients- I so very much appreciate your sweet, sweet patience while I get my butt in gear. One excuse- my 4 1/2 year old twins are special needs and my older three loves have TONS of activities- football, baseball, wrestling, cheerleading, band (now band manager) gymnastics (but wanting to start dance:) softball and overall social butterflies. I’m quite sure that I have left out some stuff. Seriously. Love them, but I need a taxi and house keeper. Anyone wanna barter??
See, I digress… anyway, my business AND my home life take more hours than I have in a day. I’m still finding what works and doesn’t work. Right now, most everything isn’t working. Everyone is back in school now. The twins go from 8-11:30 M-F and I have started working on “business hours.” I can’t keep checking FB or my emali all the time. I’m driving myself batty.This process will take a few weeks, but will always need tweaking. If I don’t message you back within 24 hours, except weekends (give me 48hours) please message me again. I probably didn’t get it. I don’t purposely avoid contact.I’m just a busy Momtog! Yep, I wear that title proudly except for the fact that I have been neglecting my own family images. Got this. I made an appt with the awesome Kayle Labor Photography. Yep, click HERE. I already booked and paid my session fee. No backing out.Oh, which totally reminds me. I met Kaylee at Rachel Vanoven’s newborn workshop. Rachel KNOWS her babies and teaches her “stuff” very well;) I highly recommend her- Super sweet, gorgeous, AND talented! Yep, another click HERE.
Then, it finally dawned on me that is wasn’t the “stuff” that I had purchased that drew people to my work. It was my “eye.” It’s the way I see things. Sure, there are TONS of awesome photogs in my area. Contrary to some mixed belief, adults have free will to choose who they want to hire for whatever it is they wish to purchase, whether it be a photographer, cake maker, lawn cutter, hair stylist, tax person, prop maker, etc. But, the clients that choose/have chosen/will choose me, choose me for a reason. Ok, so I have a “popular” eye. What now? Now I need to perfect my craft. I have been so inconsistent. I apologize. It was my lack of photoshop knowledge. I was heavily relying on “actions.” I have a bunch. There are TONS of wonderful actions out there. No, I’m not going to list them here because there are just too many. If you really wanna know, just message me and I’ll tell ya my favs.So, I was relying on actions to get a certain “look.” Well, my memory and my mood changes from day-to-day. If I stopped in the middle of editing for an extended, sometimes not so extended, period of time, I had no idea how I achieved that “look.” So, two months ago, I came across the awesomely talented Andee of Crave Photography. Yes, you know the drill, click HERE. (Hey, just trying to make it easy on you to find the cool people I’m talking about.:) I signed up for her online photoshop workshop. I’m not going to lie. It’s a pretty hefty expense, to me anyway. (Yep, more money spent.) I was also so skeptical to spend that kind of amount on a online class. I have never taken one before. ugh! I was anxious and excited at the same time. Well, let me tell you, my class was last Wednesday night. Just go take a LOOK at the work that I have produced since. Consistent. No relying on actions. Don’t get me wrong, Andee does use some, but only to enhance. Not to edit from start to finish. Seriously, I would pull up a file and just click away until I liked what I saw and scrap it if I didn’t. Now, I have some solid foundational skills to build on. To me, the class has already paid for itself in my peace of mind. Yes, it has taken me a bit longer to edit, which I didn’t need, but I can see that it will greatly improve with practice. Hallelujah! I’ve found the missing link. Education! lol!
Hey, I never claimed to be “quick.” I’m just very determined. I’m determined to succeed at this business. I want to produce the type of images that make your jaw drop. Really. That is my goal… to produce images that I can be proud of, even years from now. That is so important to me because I know that custom photography is a big expense. It is a HUGE expense for most. Me included. But, it is so important. I place no value on sports cars, high-dollar purses/shoes, etc, but I do value my children. They are the reason I breathe. They are the reason I get up every morning. So, I want images of them to last forever. I am a very sensual person, in the fact that a song, a scent, a taste, an image can take me back to that moment in time. I want the images I produce to be top-quality memory makers.I want you to come to me, not just the images themselves, but for the whole experience you have with me. I aim for the CUSTOM in custom photography. I’m not here to compete with so-and-so down the road or miles away. I’m here to be me and the best me that I can be. So, if you are a client and read this because of the attention getting title- I’m gonna evolve into a knock-your-socks off experience.If you are a beginning or struggling photog, I have been there, done that. I still consider myself a newbie. I still struggle with calling myself a professional. I NEVER want to get to a point where I am arrogant and have “arrived.” Actually, I’m already thinking about saving for my next educational experience. Yes, I SAID saving. Another new business practice that I am placing on myself. What? Do you hear that? That’s the sound of my wonderful prop makers weeping… just a bit. I’m trying very hard to suppress my “need” to buy more when I have tons of their AWESOME work already. I shouldn’t need new stuff, I should be able to express my creativity with what I already have, right? Right? Yep, gonna need a lot of prayer to resist new purchases.
Ok, if you have made it to the end, you so deserve a reward. My rambling today is brought to you today by CAFFEINE in a caffeine/sleep deprived body. Also, I have had all of this bottled up for so long that it is just spilling out. I get so many questions from clients/newbie photogs that I thought, maybe, just maybe, some of this would be helpful. (If you have any more questions, feel free to comment below or on Facebook. Feedback is always welcome. I really do take constructive criticism well.Normally, my posts are short and sweet. Don’t want to give the wrong impression or come off in a certain way. So, I’ve always kept my blogs short. Well, I think I have decided to share a bit of what makes me… ME. Alright, alright, I promise that my posts will NOT always be this long. If I get long-winded, feel free to just skip ahead to the beautiful images that I hope to continue to bring to you. Except that I hope to improve with each and every post.
Oh, a bit of technical bits-
I shoot with a Nikon D700.
50mm, 1.4G (my got-to)
105mm, 2.8 for those itty bitty detail shots
Sweet 35 lensbaby- gives awesome “swirly” effects to photos- seniors love it! I don’t think the “BIG senior” companies use them.
70-300mm, 4-5.6G- I’ve had this baby the longest. You can pick it up for pretty cheap. I use it on my kids’ sports photos. Would love to upgrade it, but can’t justify this expense anytime soon.
I edit on an iMac with CS5. (I started on a Dell with elements 5. Yes, 5. Then, moved up to CS3 AFTER CS4 was released.
Yes, this list is a little impressive, just a LITTLE. Alas, I suffer from techie geek envy, too. But, I have been slowly building my equipment. Well, not so slowly. Re-read the part about- bass ackward starting in my business.
If I have helped you any with all of this.. that’s AWESOME! I love to share the little bit of knowledge that I have acquired through my hit and (mostly) miss adventures. Oh yea, one more thing, try very hard not to compare yourself to anyone else. You will get there on your own time. And please, please don’t participate in bashing other photogs or people in general. Seriously. Karma will get ya. My new motto- yep, just one more click HERE. (Isn’t Pinterestawesome?!?) My final parting thought- I’m hitting the “post” button without proof reading. Please forgive grammatical and spelling errors, run-on sentences, and scattered thoughts. I have too much to share and don’t want to second guess. Also, I’m running out the door for an appt with a super sweet couple.
Smile at all times because you never know who is falling in love with it.
Every post deserves a picture. Sharing the latest of my twins and promising to take my older ones out soon!