Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Follow the Leader

We all need mentors. Whether you are self-taught (like me!), or have been through years of school, you need someone to lean on. Someone to chat with. Someone who will answer your super "dumb" questions. Or, in this digital age, someone to stalk study on the web. I happen to have SEVERAL of these in my business circle (yes, I'm a very lucky lady and I am fully aware). Since I have plenty of photographers whom I follow religiously on Facebook and blogs, I have decided to share the wealth with you guys.

First up: Rachel Vanoven Photography. This woman is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I actually found her through another one of my favorites (to be mentioned in a moment). Rachel is a newborn and family lifestyle photographer and mentor in Indianapolis. She started out just like I did... as a mom with a camera. What I love the most about this woman is that she has built a HUGE following for her business. As in, her business is so big now that she doesn't take new clients, unless they are newborns. Also on my list of loves about Rachel is the fact that she is totally herself when it comes to her business. Her Facebook posts are often very personal, she includes her family on her page quite a bit, and I kind of feel like she's just someone I've always known (Creepy? Oh well. It's the internet.).

Second on my list of "Follow them now"s would be Oh So Posh Photography. YOU GUYS. The colors. Oh.The.Colors. Massive inspiration here. Not only is this woman a mother and a photographer, but she is also a breast cancer survivor. You should seriously click that link there and read her story. Lidia is full of passion, and in the dog-eat-dog world of photography, this is incredibly refreshing to me. Another little funky part of Lidia is that she's from Romania, so all of her posts are written in this gorgeous broken-English dialect. It's beautiful, really. Elegantly beautiful.

This blog was one of my very first to actually follow and stick with in the beginning: Natalie Norton Photography. She is based in Hawaii and everything about her work speaks to me. It's so very raw, natural, and true to life. She uses very few editing techniques and was the first photographer to introduce me to the world of lifestyle photography. I found Natalie through the Digital Photography School (this is a GREAT place to find tutorials and get answers to questions). Just like Lidia's story, Natalie's just spoke to me. Heartbreaking and powerful. And real.

Are you recognizing a trend here? All mothers. All photographers. All very real people. My kind of people.

  While I have a Facebook news feed FULL of awesome photography sites I follow, those three up there are on the top of my list. I have learned SO much from each of them. Not just about photography, but about life in general. Life as a mom. Life as a business woman. Life as a photographer.

Are you on Instagram??? Follow me! This awesome image of my city was snapped while driving. Please don't tell my mom.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Growth. The good kind.

While I'm busy blogging (HA! It's happening!), I wanted to make sure I got this one in before she grows up even more than she already has. Today, I am featuring my niece. My 1st niece. My now-eleven-year-old niece *insert heavy sigh*. I got to watch this baby take her very first breath. I got to kiss her dimple-filled cheeks. I got to pick her up from preschool and sing songs really loud in the car with her. I got to call her obnoxious nicknames and she loved them. She'd try to convince me to give her a bottle of milk when she was 4 years old. She liked the way I made peanut butter and jelly. And now, she's growing up. Growing up into a gorgeous, intelligent, courageous, independent young girl. She dances, and sings, and plays the bass. When she laughs, it's contagious. And her angry face? She does that well, too.

Aunt Meggie loves you ;)

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart." - Helen Keller

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is in the air...

"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do...but how much love we put in that action"- Mother Teresa

Wishing you a happy Valentine's Day. Go find your love and love them deeply.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What to wear. And not.

I don't do "styled" sessions often. It's just not really what I've gotten into. Although, I did do this CRAZY amazing Wizard of Oz themed shoot with a local photog friend of mine...future blog post, maybe? Any who, one of the top asked client questions is "what should we wear?". For me, I have this problem putting my visions into words (because I see and think in pictures. Hazard of the job). I often refer people to Pinterest, because you can find everything you've ever thought about doing or wearing here. It's also great for the color matching impaired, as it's a host to SO many possible color combinations. But sometimes you just don't want to scroll through 2,347,029 blog posts looking for the perfect outfit to pair with your son's cute newsboy hat and the only tie your husband owns. So for you, I've found these AWESOME suggestions, and I'm just going to put them all here. All seasons, lots of colors, tons of suggestions for boys, girls, and different ages. Pregnant or not. Teenager or 2 years old. I've got it. Right here.

Now that I've shown you these suggestions, let me also mention the comfort factor. I am a comfortable dresser. If I'm not comfortable, I'm miserable. If my shoes hurt my feet, I look like my shoes hurt my feet. PLEASE DRESS COMFORTABLY FOR YOUR SESSION. I cannot stress this enough!! If you wear something that you don't feel 100% about, then you are going to remember those feelings every time you look at your portraits. Wear something that you love, that's comfortable, and that you feel GREAT in. 

One more great tip... Dress in layers. No matter what season it is, it's super easy to peel layers off, creating an entirely new look! Wear a tank top under your casual shirt, and pair it with a jacket. Tote one change of shoes and a different necklace and you end up with at least 1 more completely different outfit!! Take it one more step and stick a hairband or clip in your pocket. Once you "change" outfits, twist your hair into a messy up-do and your "new" look is complete!

While I don't have many things I discourage from wearing, I will give you that short list while I'm here:

  • Don't wear lots of black near your face (Black shirts are great, but maybe break it up with a different colored scarf or sweater so that it doesn't wash out your skin).
  • Don't wear a ton of pattern (Larger patterns are better, but keep it simple. When in doubt, go with texture vs. pattern).
  • Avoid hot pink and magenta (These colors tend to cast pink shadows onto your skin and the whites of your eyes, which are very difficult to remove during the editing of your images. Try a soft pink, or accessorize with the hot pink instead).
  • Dress for the weather (If you planned on a spring session with the thought of warm weather and it ends up being 35 degrees -very possible in Ky - you may want to rethink your outfit. Think COMFORT!).
 I hope this post helps! From now on, this is where I'll be linking clients at booking!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Small Business Tips and Tricks

When beginning my own small business, I had NO CLUE what I was doing. My father owns his own business, so I felt I had a little bit of support in that area. But he doesn't own an art business. I was starting an art business. Come to find out, his business and my business? Nothing alike. Nothing. But he's an excellent sound board for my rambling brain (Thanks, Dad!). My brother came in next. He's an accountant (jealous?!). He was able to advise on the business taxes (PAY YOUR TAXES, PEOPLE), and banking topics (Thanks, Bro!).
MHP Blog Readers, meet Dad.
MHP Blog Readers, meet Bro (J-town Baby 1979)

But when it came right down to it, I was left with me, myself, and Google. And from there, I grew (and am still growing), a successful small business (YIPEE!). Here's what you need to know to get going:

FOCUS: Pick one subject and drive it home. If you have a talent, craft, or skill, USE IT. Don't try to start up a business doing something you know nothing about. This is an automatic fail. If you think you just want to do it because it "looks easy", DON'T DO IT. If it's not something you love and feel passionate about and think you could spend the rest of your life doing, DON'T DO IT. Take your talent and create based upon that.

EDUCATION: While you may have a special skill, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. Don't settle. I learn something new EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. about photography and the business. I strive to know more and do better. There is only room for growth in my art, and in order to grow successfully, I have to continue my education.

MARKETING: Although marketing was a topic I was highly interested in during high school, I never pursued it until I began my business. *this also falls into that category above*. I research (and still do), the best marketing strategies for my type of business. Not only did I research it, but I tested it. I once handed out 100 business cards in 3 days (I booked one session off of it and ended up breaking even on the cost of the business cards...This was a success though!). I discovered this thing called FACEBOOK! Who would have known what a success this idea was? It was PERFECT! And free (my favorite kind of marketing)! But the best marketing strategy ever? WORD OF MOUTH. By far, I have booked more successful, returning clients by simply making someone else happy. If you have a happy client, it is guaranteed they will tell someone else.

SUPPORT: This should actually be at the top of the list. I know it sounds kind of cheesy and all, but I would not be where I am today without my support system (all 48 of them!). My family has backed me 100% of the way. And that dude down there? Well, he is the one behind the scenes fixing my computer issues, raising our babies, doing the laundry, cleaning the toilet, and holding my hand through all of this. He's my rock.

MHP Blog Readers, meet Burr.

These are definitely not the only four things it takes to run a business. And, to be perfectly honest, I find lots of new tips and tricks to implement every day. It's all in the trial and error. But if you are patient, consistent, and honest, you can grow into something pretty freakin' amazing.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” - Chris Grosser

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Passion is Energy

Here we are again. February. The shortest month. My most boring month. The do nothing, long, cold, blustery Kentucky days of February. Well, I guess there's Valentine's Day. That's a pretty good day. But all of the other days are usually big, blah, boo days. Until this February. TWOTHOUSANDTHIRTEENFEBRUARY. You, are rockin' it for me this time.

The first weekend of February 2013 brought me three shoots. Three completely different shoots. The first, a massive art show event. MASSIVE. And gorgeous. Gorgeous like I've never seen, gorgeous. In a venue that I am so deeply in love with now, I actually sent my hubby a text containing the sentence "Can we get married again and have our wedding here?" So many shiny happy people coming together to raise funds for the education of children. Not just for their education, but for a program that I am equally in love with. The school I was fortunate enough to spend my last high school years in. The school of thought. St. Francis.

Next up on my February 2013 line up was a spur of the moment, semi-unplanned, throw together quickly engagement session. Well, okay, it was planned. But not for this date. Not any date, really. Just an outstanding appointment marked "When it snows". And it snowed! It snowed 2 days in a row, actually, leaving a perfect, soft white blanket around the city. You know how sometimes snow gets that nasty, brown, sludgy, mud tinge? Well, there was none of that. Just white. Beautiful, quiet, white snow. Oh, and hot chocolate. And a beagle. And this sweet, sweet couple who are set to wed in September of this powerful year.

And to complete my first weekend in February, I got to skip, jump, run, and make silly faces. This, my friends, is where I feel the most like myself. On the floor, crossing my eyes, playing peek-a-boo, and laughing with a goofy two year old. This particular two year old just happens to be my first newborn session newbie. She's also my cousin's little lady, so the fact that she's got my genes and stuff just makes it that much more fun! And while she attempts for 10 seconds to act shy, she just can't hide her silly side---Much like myself :)

 So what I'm leading up to here in my enormous review of my weekend is this:

While I am trying my hardest to focus on one aspect of my work, I just can't yet. I have had one of THE BEST weekends ever with my camera. And I'm not ready to give up on the mega events. Or the couple falling madly in love in front of my lens. Or the silliest clients ever. They are all a piece of me and a piece of my work. My passion.

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." 
- Oprah Winfrey

Gramming it Up

Are you an Instagrammer? I want to know about it!

When first hearing of Instagram, I just wasn't convinced. I thought it all seemed  little weird to me. You know, being a photographer and having it in my brain 24 hours a day, I just didn't see how the world loved the blurry, splotchy, barely visible, grainy camera phone pictures so much. I figured it was a fad, and nothing more.

And then, the unthinkable happened. I switched to my very first iPhone. I was now equipped with a camera at all moments. And I had no other choice but to use it. Of course. And after using it (a lot), I, being a photographer and all, had no other choice but to make my own blotchy, grainy pictures into works of art. And this, my friends, required a little help. A little help from an app (I hate that term). The app known as Instagram.

So now, equipped with the fancy phone, the fancy app, the fancy filters, and my super awesome life (HAHA!), my Instagram site is filling up nicely! Come over and FOLLOW so that I can FOLLOW you back!