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Archive for October, 2010

Simplicity

So, I’ve come down with the bug going around, and after a fun day at PDN’s Expo, I returned home early and crawled in bed at the late hour of 8pm.  I have been self medicating with tea by the gallons, nyquil and other drugs, tissues and snuggled up in my hubby’s robe, which drags on the floor when I walk because he’s 13″ taller than me.  Still.  The show goes on and I have been pushing through and editing wedding photos and headshots…  Work ethic is a must in this industry.  In any industry; you do not have to be the best you just have to work harder.

So in the midst of my fevered, migrained, yucky state I bring you:  a simple headshot.  Just a gentle reminder, that there can be something alluring and moving in a simple headshot if you capture the essence of your subject.  Sometimes I feel like a simple shot like this is more difficult to impress the viewers with than an intricate set up on a stunning backdrop, because there is less to wow them with.

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I have this terribly wonderful habit of having gorgeous women employed with my studio, people ate up a simple light test shot of my fabulous assistant Martha, and my Make-up Artist and Stylist Amanda is also just an absolute knock out…and newly married.  I have a particular fondness for trash the dress, although as a bride I can understand a girl’s attachment to her wedding gown, and the reluctance to ruin it.  Contrary to popular belief and the name, you don’t actually have to trash and destroy the dress.  However, when you don’t care about the gown it makes it much more fun to do these sessions.  Aside from the shooting in front of the ruins of a burnt down mansion and other fabulous magazine quality locations, we also filled up the tub in the retro bathroom and saturated both model and gown in a fabulously trashy Hungover rockstar the morning after style shoot.  Perhaps I’ll post one of them later 🙂

Right now lets talk about Location Location Location.  A good photographer friend of mine, Nicole who loves her some senior portraits, shares my love for a beautiful porcelain skinned figure, draped in fabrics, and contrasted by a dirty gritty architectural backdrop.  So the remnants of this once grand estate combine femininity and softness with a masculine and intense ferocity.  Most know that moths are lured to the flame, but I think the cinders offer their own attraction in the whispered story they recount of the past fire.

The first time I listened to Jerry Ghionis I was awestruck by his images, and he said something that completely changed my perception; he said:  “Most photographers look for the location, they should look for the light.”  He also said that every time you see an image  you give a little wink, or pat your leg, it trains your eye to see in Photos…  I’ve been winking at this place for several weeks now and as soon as we dressed up Amanda I knew she was the person to shoot in front of it.  I have been watching as this building existed, caught fire, stood in ruin, was boarded up and has begun to fall and be pulled down.  I’m sure soon it will be demolished and something else built in it’s place, and no trace of it will remain, but it is immortalized here.

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This is a year definitely for giving back for me, I’m taking a lesson from the infamous Scott Bourne who is essentially the Santa Clause of the photographic world right now, and while I cant give away a brand new 5DmarkII I certainly can give something.

I have a unique collection of people following, half are photographers, half are clients and those that appreciate the artistry… I would like to thank both.

First a little back story:

In 2005 I lost a dear friend to Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare kind of tissue cancer…she was only 19.  She was in a way the start of my transition from artistry to photography.  I wanted to honor her and did so a few years later with a body paint series, eventually I wanted to photograph the girls myself, and from that one of the girls asked me to photograph her in a vintage pin up style for a friend that was deploying, the rest as they say is history.  Hard to believe that was nearly 6 years ago now that she passed away… she’d be 25 now.  It breaks my heart I’ll never get to photograph her wedding, her baby belly, her babies.  Then again perhaps without that loss I’d never have found my way to photography anyway.

Her birthday is coming up November 16th… I’d like to honor her this year with a little of the generosity and kindness she was so well known for.

So here it is:  the holiday season is fast approaching and is the season for giving.  My studio will be honoring that sentiment with a giving project and here is how it works.  Between noon today and midnight November 15th 2010 we will be accepting submissions.  We would like you to write us a letter about someone you know.  Someone who deserves something a little special this year.  Send us a letter about someone who deserves a free portrait session.  Family portraits, maternity, couple’s portraits, baby, children portraits, or an intimate session in our studio.  Tell us what makes them special, and why they should be selected.  Send it to us at JessicaLark@CoutureManor.com

The only rules are you can not nominate yourself, and you must include contact information for both yourself and the person you are nominating, including Name, Phone Number, and Email Address.

For my Photographer friends and followers I haven’t forgotten you, a lot of you have been sending questions about mentoring sessions, and different questions you have on business, marketing, photography, and branding.  You can do the same, send me an email to JessicaLark@CoutureManor.com and nominate someone for a personal session in our studio to cover branding, marketing, pricing your work, photography and retouching.  The same rules apply as above.

We’ll accept submissions between now and midnight november 15th 2010, On november 16th we will begin announcing winners, and will pick 12 winners for 2011.

Good Luck to you all, thank you for your following and support, please contact me with any questions or concerns involving the contest.  I cant wait to hear your nominations!

JLark ❤

and of course the fine print:

1. Eligibility: Jessica Lark’s contest is open to any resident of the United States 18 years old or older who has not won a prize in the past 30 day period and one major prize (cash or merchandise valued at $2,500 and over) this calendar year.  Entrant must possess a valid, government-issued ID.
The employees and families of Jessica Lark, its licensee, its parent corporation, their affiliated entities, affiliated advertising agencies, participating sponsors/promotional partners, other radio stations in the greater Philadelphia area, and the members of their immediate families are ineligible to participate or win.  (“Immediate family members” includes parents (including in-laws), grandparents, siblings (including step-siblings), children (including step-children), grandchildren (including step grandchildren) and each of their respective spouses).
No purchase is necessary. The contest is void where prohibited. Contests and promotions subject to all federal, state and local laws.
Entries: In order to be considered you must Follow us by being a fan at www.Facebook.com/JessicaLarkPhotography, and/or Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JessicaLark Simply retweet the status on twitter and/or repost the status on facebook.  Then send us an Email to JessicaLark@CoutureManor.com You can nominate someone that you think is deserving of a one on one business consultation, or photography mentoring session.  We will accept all letters received between now and November 16th.  We will be giving away one each month for the 2011 year.
You can not nominate yourself, and you can only submit one entry.  Letters must be accompanied with Name, Phone Number, and Email Address for both the nominee, and the person writing the letter.
Entries will be accepted between 12:00pm 10/27/2010 and 11:59 PM 11/15/2010.  All contest entries become the property of Jessica Lark.  Jessica Lark and sponsors not responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone or other transmission failures of any kind; lost or unavailable network connections; or incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions whether caused by Jessica Lark, users, by any equipment or programming utilized in promotions, games or contests, or by human error which may occur in the processing of submissions, which may limit a participant’s ability to participate.  Jessica Lark is not responsible for entries not received due to difficulty accessing the Internet, service outages or delays, computer difficulties or other technological glitches or for mis-sent or misdirected E-mail entries.   Internet entries will be deemed made by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry.  The authorized account holder is the natural person who is assigned to the email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization that is responsible by assigning email addresses or the domain associated with the submitted email address.  In its sole discretion, Jessica Lark reserves the right to disqualify any person tampering with the entry process, the operation of the Jessica Lark website or who is otherwise in violation of the rules.  The studio further reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify the contest if it is not capable of completion as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention or technical failures of any sort.
Contest participants using the Internet must provide a valid email address.
Each contestant’s entry must be his/her original creative work and/or property and must not contain copyrighted materials or any other materials, which may be restricted, prohibited, or outlawed by Federal, state or local laws.   Profanity or nudity is not permitted in photo entries.  Jessica Lark, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to disqualify and/or destroy any entry if or when it is discovered that such entry contains infringing, illegal, indecent or otherwise offensive material or if such entry contains material whose content is deemed at the sole discretion of Jessica Lark to be unsuitable for public viewing, performance or posting via the Internet.
Contestants are required to obtain a written release from all individuals appearing in photos which grants Jessica Lark. the right to use their name, likeness and recorded voice and the right to post the photo on its website for the general public to view. Each contestant agrees to Jessica Lark, the studio, contest sponsors, their affiliates and their directors, employees, agents, and representatives harmless against any and all claims or liability arising directly or indirectly from the prize and/or contest, including but not limited to an infringement or alleged infringement of any intellectual property, publicity or privacy right, or violation of any law or regulation, involving the photo entry.   Jessica Lark reserves the right to edit submissions at its sole discretion.
Decisions of studio management with respect to a contest are final.
3. Prize Delivery: After the contest period on November 16th, 2010, Jessica Lark will select 12 entries based on creativity, Compassion, and conveyance of message to award the prize, a complimentary photo session including our talented hair and make-up artist {if applicable}.   Winners will be notified via Video presentation Online.  Prize does not include transportation, food, hotel package, room service, or any other expense.  Winner must be at least 15 years old and accompanied by an adult if under the age of 18 at time of Acceptance.
Prizes must be claimed at the studio of Jessica Lark at 1500 Fairview St, Reading Pa 19606.   Winners must be prepared to show photo identification and complete a Prize Release form to receive a prize.
Jessica Lark’s office hours by appointment only, and winners must call to set up a time to claim their prize at 610-960-1115
4. Prize Deadlines:  Unless otherwise noted, If the winner(s) cannot be contacted within 24 hours after the prize is awarded an alternate winner may be selected at the studio’s discretion.  Winners who fail to respond within 24 hours of prize notification are deemed to be waiving their prize claim and the prize will be forfeited.
Winners have thirty days in which to claim a prize following notification. Any prize not claimed within the allotted time will be considered forfeited and become the property of Jessica Lark.
Prizes are awarded ‘as is’ with no guarantees or warranties as to use. Acceptance of a prize releases Jessica Lark, its sponsors and advertisers from all liability and claims concerning the prize, its delivery, and its use.
Prizes are non-transferable.  Prizes may not be substituted for or redeemed for cash.  Jessica Lark reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value.  Contest winners (and their guests or travel companions, if any) will be required to sign a liability release and a publicity release.
5. Taxes and Liability:  Payment of all federal, state and local taxes is the sole responsibility of the winner.  Contest winnings will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service and winners can expect to receive a 1099 tax form for prizes which total more than $600 for the year.
Pursuant to the liability release, the winners will agree to hold Jessica Lark, the studio, its corporate parent, their affiliated companies and the officers, shareholders, directors, employees, agents and representatives of each of them harmless against any and all claims or liability arising directly or indirectly from the prize or participation in the contest.
6. Release: Winners grant Jessica Lark and contest sponsors the right to use his/her name, image, recorded voice, video and photograph to publicize the contest and the awarding of the prize in any advertising or broadcasting material relating to this contest without additional financial or other compensation.
7.  Contest Administration:  Jessica Lark is not responsible for typographical or other errors in the printing, the offering or the administration of the contest or in the announcement of a prize.
Jessica Lark will be excused from its obligation to air the contest if its performance is delayed or prevented due to causes beyond its control, including, but not limited to acts of God, public enemies, war, civil disorder, fire, flood, hurricanes, explosion, labor disputes or strikes, and any acts by any governmental authority. Jessica Lark, its corporate licensee and parent corporation and subsidiaries of such corporations thereof, are not responsible for failure to conduct or for alterations to the contest due to circumstances beyond the control of any such entity.
8.  Rules:  Jessica Lark reserves the right to end this contest or amend these rules upon announcement on air or publication Online, Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, WordPress blog or other mediums not listed here.  Jessica Lark reserves the right to make changes to the rules of the contest, including the substitution of a prize or prizes of equivalent or greater value, which will become effective upon announcement.
9.  Contestant Agreement to Terms: By participating in this contest, listeners agree to be bound by these rules.  Failure to comply with the contest rules may result in a contestant’s disqualification, at the sole discretion of Jessica Lark.
10.  Additional Information:  Copies of the written contest rules and a list of all winners are available \at the main studio of Jessica Lark at 1500 Fairview St Reading PA 19606 or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Jessica Lark.
For additional information on contest rules please contact Promotions Director Martha Helt at MarthaHelt@CoutureManor.com during regular business hours.

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Thank you to everyone who submitted questions via www.formspring.me/JessicaLark and at Twitter Here’s what I received, and my responses to them:

Anonymous:  are your photos heavily retouched? alot of the models look downright striking, but I get the feeling they have had boobs added, chub erased, and muscles toned.   My reply via formspring: There are a lot of photographers that reinvent, I am not one of them. Everyone likes to look their best, and sometimes yes I’ll touch up their skin a bit, or embellish their features slightly. Mostly my retouching has a lot to do with the moody and muted coloring that my images are known for. I also have an incredible make-up artist and stylist and know what clothes, poses, and especially lighting will help flatter their best attributes and diminish the visibility of any flaws {following my formspring reply s/he responded with}  Interesting.  Because I know three of the girls you have photographed in real life and they look NOTHING like they looked in your pictures.  They had completely different supermodel bods.  Even they said they had been retouched heavily.
My response to that:   If you’re referencing a certain image{s} I’d be happy to discuss the workflow to get the image that way both in the shooting angles, lighting, and post production…you can’t create what isnt there, you can only enhance the natural beauty… I think every woman is a canvas of endless possibilities for artistry. Photography for me is not about the general public sees her, it’s about how I see her, which is why my imagesof her will look entirely different than anyone else’s images of her. I love the sensuality and softness of the female aura, it’s easier for me to see the positive attributes of a girl than the flaws. Also I never show images unless they are finished. My signature style is a hybrid of how I shoot and the post processing. A photograph is a composition, the final image is the performance. So actually the girls have no idea how much or little retouching is applied to them, I have the feeling they are selling themselves short on how much natural beauty they actually have.
I would actually like to add to that {and perhaps some of my MUAs and Wardrobe stylists can chime in}  EVERYONE  looks stunningly different when they have their hair and makeup professionally done, and are wearing clothes that are designed to flatter their specific figures.  Personally I think if any one thing I do dramatically changes a person’s look, particularly in their figure it’s dramatic lighting, shadows cut out a lot of perceived size, and accent curves.  I am not ashamed to admit I am still learning the finer points of lighting, often times I work with 1 or 2 light set ups with clients because I dont want to waste their time fiddling with lights, my assistant and my sister in law are my greatest victims for experimentation and unfortunately lately I havent had a lot of time to play.  If I dont get the dramatic feel I am after, I will often enhance the effect in photoshop with dodge and burn… perhaps later if anyone is interested I will do a video with some of my post editing work through.

DouglasWeber DouglasWeber 

@JessicaLark Just started following u courtesy/@ScottBournecongrats on bootcamp. What steps do you go thru to interview and select a model?
Thanks for following Douglas ❤   Most of the people in my portfolios are not professional models, most of them are housewives, and career women, at least half of them are moms.  Mostly just girls wanting to do something sexy for themselves or their SO.  On the rare occasion that I have enough free time to play I never offer TF* to a model I haven’t worked with before.  One I much rather thank a client that has paid for my services in the past, and two no matter how pretty they are if our personalities dont mesh or they arent flexible enough {my models will tell you they are sore the next day}  I wont get good images and I wasted my time.  I do keep a collection of the people I work with and usually if I have a personal project or someone else inquires about a commercial project they need I usually have a girl in mind for the project already.
If you are asking more what should you be looking for in models:  Obviously the look.  Make sure they have a good selection of images, if you can befriend them on fb or myspace and see some snapshots all the better to get a feel for her genuine look.  They should be easy to work with.  They should take direction well, but also not need you to hold their hand all the way through the session.  You can also contact other photographers that have worked with her and ask them for reviews of her personality, professionalism, and look.  Some girls have a blend of all three and just can not engage the camera on their own… it’s up to you.  I have yet to have a photo session that I couldnt post at least one image from, if you do it’s your fault not the model’s.  🙂

Anonymous:  How do you pick your models?  Are they friends, or hired out?

Some of the above applies to this question as well.  Mostly, I dont pick my models, they call me to shoot them.  I never pay for models, I never have.  When I look at my very early work, it’s amazing some of them agreed to work with me; even as TF* Most of my models I would consider very dear friends, and most of my good friends wouldn’t trust anyone else to capture them whether it’s intimate glamour, maternity, wedding, or their babies.

My personal thoughts on payment:  There is a lot of back and forth on newbies undercutting the value of the industry based on their perception of low overhead.  There is also a lot of tug of war between amateur models and photographers over who should pay who.  Really a lot of heated debate on what makes a professional photographer in the first place.  Some say if you make any money from photography your a pro, my personal opinion, and it is just that: my opinion.  If you can not survive off the income you make as a photographer it is not your profession, any more than if you have a desk job and wait tables on weekends you are a professional waitress.  It’s not a dig or an insult, that is just my personal definition of the word.  In that regard, when it comes to does the model or the photographer get paid, the simplest answer I have found is to look at the books.  Who has the better body of work?  For instance, while I politely thanked them and declined their offer, I couldnt help but laugh when a girl {a pretty girl but nonetheless} sent me a message saying she’d love to work with me.  When I responded that I would love to have her in and explained the general flow of the studio, she replied that her rates were $300 an hour, which I would have respectfully declined and admired her for if her entire “model portfolio”  didnt consist of mirror image snapshots taken in her bathroom and bedroom with her cell phone…. kudos to her if she can get other photographers to pay those rates 🙂  she was very beautiful.   I dont pay for models, and even some of the most gorgeous and talented models I know that are agency represented and do this for a living are happy to work TF* if it’s a special project that I have them in mind for.  Charge what you are worth, get paid for your time and your talents, be humble in the presence of those who can teach you, and dont underestimate how much a good model, make-up artist, stylist, can teach you about your craft.

the shot straight out of the camera, just for those questioning my retouching

One of my personal favorite models ❤

 

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I have often been told: It’s not what you have, it’s what you give.  In the last almost 3 years a lot of people have given a lot to help me get to where I am.  Particularly My husband and my kids.  I have worked 12-18 hour days, given a kiss in passing walking in or out the door so that instead of babysitting fees I could reinvest into new things for the studio.  People have been asking me a lot lately how I did what I did in such a short time.  For some of my new followers and friends here’s the breakdown:  I was a stay at home mom to a career soldier, I still have never had an education in photography or formal training, I have picked photographers I admire at the time for specific talents or specialties and learned what I admired in them and how to adapt that to a little JLark flare.  In 2 years I built a photography business, shooting on a home made backdrop in my basement.  We bought a new house with a separate building and garage that made my first studio space, and Michael built it from the studs up.  The next year I moved to a beautiful 1750sqft 85 year old house with all natural wood moulding and floors, beautiful architecture and lots of gorgeous natural light.  It has been an incredible journey in my own small world, and a unique and fun experience as people begin to recognize me and those I admire surprise me by referencing an image I created, or by quoting or retweeting something I wrote.

Quite simply, how I got this far is I worked really really hard.  And.  I have an incredible support system.  It exists on the foundation of support my family and friends give, and is most greatly nurtured by the professional contacts I have made, that provide inspiration, education and completely selfless support.  People like Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen who are two of the most generous and intelligent teachers I know in the business of photography.  A lot of the practices that allowed me to advance so quickly came from them.

So I’d like to pay it forward a bit, and share what little expertise I have.  I have much to learn with photography and lighting, and much I have learned that may be useful for new talent dipping their toes into the photography pool for the first time.  I do think my expertise lies in creating something out of very little.  Having small resources and little funding is my favorite challenge in creating something colossal.

The biggest question I’ve gotten is how I manage to cultivate all my business from facebook and not pay for any kind of advertisement.  It actually isnt quite that simple.  Your work has to speak.  If your images don’t intrigue people you wont get them in to look, if they dont look, they dont buy.  Most people understand that their website is essentially a store front in the digital world, and following that mindset, you should think of your facebook page as a second chain or a home office.

So lets start with your images.  {for the record all this is what works for me…pick and choose what works for you and fits into your personal and artistic style.}  First my pet peeves:  Only your best images.  one or two from each session.  I can’t stand when someone posts every shutter click from a session, less is more.  If you have one good shot it’s better to show just that one, showing it in the middle of mediocrity just dilutes the awe factor for the great image.  Second; and this is a huge one.  DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT!  Do not post the same photos in color, black and white, and sepia tone, or with different retouching and filters applied.  First off the majority of fb users understand, and most of them know how to change an image from color to black and white.  Secondly unless you are a retoucher and marketing yourself as such there is no need for you to show multiple versions of the same image, pick the best and show that one.  Thirdly the unretouched and retouched images showcase how much work your client needed, and I’m telling you as a girl who is incredibly self critical of herself in photos, one way to cause the exact opposite of your intended reaction in your clients is to showcase their flaws, instead of feeling good and beautiful you’ll make them self conscious and unhappy with themselves.  Mostly though it’s the look here’s an image, and heres the same image in black and white, and here it is again in sepia…it’s redundant, don’t do it!

On the to-do-list for your images, do try to connect with your clients,  as soon as I get a phone call from a potential client I go fb stalk them and send a friend request.  After their event or session pick your favorite image and post it, drop them a note on their page telling them how much you enjoyed photographing them and tag them in the image.  {If you’re like me and shoot more intimate images that may dictate what’s fb friendly, and you should always ask if you can post them first.}  Once you post it, anyone that comments on the image that’s a friend of theirs, touch base with them, send a friend request, thank them for commenting on the images you took and invite them in for their own session.  Do keep your albums current with new work, {I’m actually better about keeping my work up to date on fb more than on my personal website}  Do make sure that if you are showing some work that pushes the envelope of the fb restrictions even a little that you set the albums to private, viewable only by friends.  Out of respect for my clients, and because I’m a mom, I keep my profile private and limited mostly just to my online friends so young eyes, and people that dont appreciate the artistry dont come across it.

Splitting your albums into categories is a good idea too.  Unless you’re working with celebrities or people of note, I dont recommend setting albums as the clients:  Abby, Beth, Sara, etc.  You want your clients to find exactly what they’re looking for, and it’s much easier to do if a mommy to be finds an album labelled “maternity”  or someone interested in a boudoir session finds an album labelled that way.

Aside from your portfolio your best practice to bring in clients is {drumroll………………………… are you ready?}

Be nice.

When new fans send you a friend request after you accept take 2 seconds drop by their page and thank them for the request.  When someone comments on your page or image take the time to respond and acknowledge.  Here’s a big one, if another photographer, even one from your area asks you a question… answer it.  It’s a novel concept, but they can be your colleagues instead of your competition.  Think about it this way, if no one had shared any of their secrets with you you wouldnt know anything about this either, and chances are if they’re asking, they’re not as good as you which means your clientele is different anyway.

Facebook fan pages.  I have one.  actually I have 3.  one for me as an artist at http://www.facebook.com/JessicaLark one for my studio at http://www.facebook.com/CoutureManor that my studio manager updates more often than I do, and one for my charity at http://www.facebook.com/ChangeBeginsWithUs.  I hopped on the train of trying to get all my friends to become fans… to be honest I think upon further reflection that a lot of that is just self serving your own ego.  For most of us there is no reason why we need a fan page.  Here are the benefits though.  You can email all your fans at once without having to select them individually.  Other companies and professionals that have fan pages can list yours under their affiliated pages to help network and cross promote.  This can be especially beneficial for wedding photographers, you can hook up with caterers, florists, etc.  For example a good friend of mine Nicholas Clare is a talented baker.  The two of us trade clients all the time, and it works out for us both.  Of course financially because we’re both booking work, but I get delicious cake at the receptions and he gets great photos of his images.  We even save the clients time by doing both consultations at the same time, and he helps me seduce them with delicious Chocolate chip cookies that my kids beg him for everytime he comes to visit.

The other major difference between fan pages and personal pages is that facebook tops out at 5,000 friends so for people like Jasmine Star and the like having a fan page enables her to keep connected with her fans beyond that.  Others like Jerry Ghionis simply make a second personal account.  The downside to the fanpages is you cant tag them in photos.  A lot of my clients tag me in the images I create for them on my personal page and their friends find me that way.  You may be losing referrals if you are operating solely off a fan page.  I also like the nifty little app that links my facebook to twitter.  that way everytime I do update my fanpage it also updates my twitter.  I pride myself on being friends with my clients and most of my fans, so I usually invite them to send me a friend request as well.  I met the sweetest girl this week at the going pro seminar who told me she was a fan but we werent friends on my personal account.  If that’s you as well, remedy it immediately, I want to know who you are! 🙂

So those are some of my thoughts on facebook, please feel free to add tips and tricks that work for you. A lot of this can be adopted and adapted for any business really.  I’d love to help you in your endeavors, running your own business is hard work but so worth the effort and really contrary to popular belief, people with strong work ethic and passion will thrive more often than those with training and education.  Please dont hesitate to contact me with any questions or topics you’d like me to talk about, If I dont know I can probably quote someone who does 🙂  If you’d like to ask me a question anonymously you can do so at Formspring

Thanks for taking the time to read ❤

One of the wedding cakes by my good friend at N Clare

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So a few weeks ago, one of my very dearest friends finally tied the knot.  I myself got married very young right after my 22nd birthday, and had 2 kids by 24… it’s taken a while for my friends to catch up.  When I got married I had never taken a class on or shown interest in photography aside from that of a person trying to savor significant moments.  Sometimes it amazes me it took me so long to find photography.  My wedding was a disaster except for the part where I married the love of my life, sometime I’ll rehash that whole scenario, but for this particular blog the thing worth noting is that I did not have a photographer and 5 years later it pains me to know I do not have one really good photograph from my wedding.  That has in turn very much put things in perspective for me as a wedding photographer in two regards.  1st that everyone should have fantastic wedding photography, as one of my dear mentors: Scott Bourne says “I have a very lovely photo of thousands of dollars of floral arrangements in an alley way dumpster, all the food will end up in the toilet, I provide the only thing they keep.”  It also keeps alive all the other things that otherwise would be lost.  The flowers never wilt in the images, the food always looks delicious and mouthwatering, and the moments and emotions exist forever.  The images I have are all poor quality, pixelated, and drastically under exposed… but seeing them brings me right back to that moment all the same; it’s not what they see when they look at your photos, it’s what they feel when they look at your photos.  You are creating the artistry of love.

Sara and I have been best friends since we were 11.  All of our most embarrassing and most fun moments have been together, I have laughed my hardest with her, and when I have cried my hardest she has been there every time to see me through.  So it was not an unexpected honor when she asked me to be her matron of honor, and doubly so when she asked my son and daughter to be her flower girl and ring bearer… the problem came in when we both also wanted me to do her photography.  Initially for me my first instinct was to be photographer first.  As we went dress shopping, had her bridal shower and bachelorette party, and prepared for the wedding I realized that a lot of me was feeling a great sense of loss in not being a part of her day, helping her dress, wearing a gown and walking down the aisle, holding her flowers as she held hands with her new husband and spoke her vows.  All the things I have captured for so many brides and their most important girls.  Even this sense of loss circled back to the photography for me though.  I realized what really was bothering me about her wedding was the same thing that bothers me about mine, the photos.  In this case that when her grandchildren look at her wedding album her best friend would not be in them.  Photos for me are in a way our own immortality I have listened to my own grandmother talk about her best friend and seen them age through 60 years and their friendship still exist throughout more than half a century.  For half a moment I heavily considered setting down the camera and replacing it with a persimmon gown.

I love wedding photography, and I love the symbolism and what they mean.  I really do give my all to my clients on their special day, I have played seamstress, decorator, planner, transportation specialist, nurse, and psychiatrist along with photographer and videographer.  I am not conceited about many things, but I am a great wedding photographer, and that is not only because of my ability to take a good photograph but because I care, not only about their day, and about their album, but about 50 years from now and what all of this will mean then.  Me as her photographer will mean more than me as her bridesmaid.  She had many wonderful women to stand up for her, and honor for a dear friend of ours that passed away a month before my wedding that could not be there for either of ours…. She had a beautiful day full of fun, and love, and family, and celebration and capturing all that artistically and preserving it… forever, was far more important to me and a greater gift to give her for the rest of her life and following generations, rather than being there just for the day.

Besides that my children represented a large part of me.  Cadence was adorable and so serious about her very important flower tossing duties; and Steven misunderstood ring bearer and heard “Ring Bear”  and promptly started growling.  Everyone found it so cute that they actually let him dress up as a bear and growl down the aisle.

I have resigned myself to accepting the fact that I will be always a photographer and never a bridesmaid.  I’m ok with that because I feel it is a much greater gift to give.  This image solidifies that for me, and really even though I am not physically in the photograph, each photograph is a sort of self portrait, and I know that I will as much come to mind in taking the photo as I would have being in it.

Congratulations to my very dear friend Mrs. Sara Benson thank you for letting me create your new family’s first heirloom and for the last 15 years and the next 50.

I love you very much.

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I have been in my studio for the better part of 8 months, the first 2 were spend with repairs and renovations.  For those who don’t know, my studio was actually my first home I bought, on my daughter’s first birthday, when we moved we rented it out, and when I walked in, even in it’s depressed state I felt a warm sense of homecoming to be back to it.  The renters abandoned the property, leaving nearly everything in it, including the food.  There were broken windows, holes in the wall, the floors had to be replaced, every room repainted, and I was extremely blessed to have such good friends like Martha, Rachelle, Adam, Nicholas, Chandra, and Jordan come by and lend a hand in the transformation.  Michael was amazingly dedicated, as he always has been throughout this journey; working long days and then coming and working in the studio till sometimes 1-2 am.  Where would I be without him?

When we had looked at the house to make a home the staircase was the original allure, I loved the rustic warm color of the wood.  It amazes me how long I was in there shooting and never considered how the color and geometrical angles along with the natural patterns of the wood would create amazing imagery; now I cant seem to get enough of it.  The contrast of feminine curves against the angular lines of the banisters are very alluring for me.

There is a metaphoric intricacy to my fondness for the staircase as well.  For me I have found in the last few years that failure is an illusion, a temporary circumstance at best.  Most of my greatest achievements have been built on the ruins of my past perceived failures, and really they were simply the steps it took to reach the final goal…  Life for me is very much an intricate staircase, and I feel as though at this point I have reached not the summit, but the landing at least, a turning point towards the next destination…

That’s me waxing poetic momentarily, really it’s just a beautiful girl with incredible curves draped over a 100 year old staircase…

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