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Archive for February, 2011

I’ve been having a secret love affair with reflections lately, playing with mirrors and other reflective surfaces in my pictures and capturing the reality and how the distorted story of the image is retold. There is something philosophical and poetic about it; about how the sometimes the well manicured and put together, polished version of ourselves is not exactly the reality of the situation, or that while everyone else sees a gorgeous and well presented image, we often look at ourselves so self critically… I think reflections show the exterior to the world, but there are many instances where we see through our own reflections and into what is beneath the surface, something we have trouble finding beauty in as easily, because while there seems to be a society driven definition of attractiveness in appearances, inner beauty is often measured and weighted in very different distinctions depending on who we are trying to appeal to. And while some characteristics are irresistible to some, they are entirely a turn off to others, making it an endless and futile struggle since most of us have difficulty accepting that we can not be all things to all people… even to ourselves. On the other hand I feel that often times the people around us are also personal mirrors; you can judge a lot about a person by the company they keep, and allies, adversaries, and strangers pass judgement on the things you say and do, often based on their perception of the circumstance, never asking for validation or contradiction from you on your own behalf.

It is a difficult place to find yourself in at times, especially with technology having made us so accessible and vulnerable to the entire world, deciding what is the right piece of yourself to present. I have found often times that when people make comments, tweets and statuses in a woe is me fashion that for as many people that respond with words of encouragement or support twice as many others take heart in the misfortune and drama because misery loves company, and often times the same persons that say something nice will speak to other poorly on your behalf outside of the interwebs where they can rally in a collective turning up of their noses without fear of having to feel judged. Similarly no matter what you ever say in your defense usually the first impression no matter how unjustified, people will retain some of that simply because we do not want to feel that we have been unfair or rash in our decision to pass judgement unfairly. It is always hard for someone to jump to the wrong conclusion and come sincerely forward and apologize without following that with reasons why although wrong we were justified in that conclusion because it was all that could be deducted from the circumstances, and so we are not wrong or bad for assuming, because even when we are wrong there is some nature of truth in it. We’re wrong but not really.

I like to consider myself a compassionate person; however I also value very highly honesty, and my honesty at times I have learned is so abrupt and candid that it comes off as harsh or cruel. A lot of that for me is simply because I have much ambition in all areas in my life, and I find that people take an hour conversation to say in a nice and sugarcoated way what could have been said in one sentence, it’s a rip the bandaid off and let it hurt worse all at once rather than a little at a time mentality…I don’t actually know which is the right way, I suppose it depends on the individual’s tolerance for pain.

For me often times I find now that I resist my knee jerk reaction to retaliate or even defend my honor, in most cases I find myself thinking that if whatever the situation is did not warrant at least a phone call or request for my side of things then the person making the decision based on their view of someone else’s opinion of my circumstances or choices, simply shouldn’t matter to me. Equally there is much I don’t put out into the world at all anymore, mostly because my artistry has elevated the number of people that pay attention, and what I would say to friends I would not say to strangers, and what applies to clients may not interest my family, sometimes it’s as simple as what you would say to one friend would be heard entirely differently by another… A mentor once said: “Your life is not as important as the story you tell about your life.” Often times the things that matter the most, don’t; but they do because we tell ourselves they do. Sometimes there is no winning. If you say something you are just fueling drama and drawing attention to negativity, and while in the moment it may be ok, when you are over it and want it to be done, people remember and reference it continually because it is more entertaining than the boredom. If you say nothing, then either you do not care, or you are obviously in the wrong because you are not even bothering to defend your stance. It has been my opinion that most times people have made up their minds before they ever hear the story. I think with technology and how much information we are inundated with on a constant basis we have been trained to pull just enough information from the sources to thread them together and log it away, sometimes the little details make the most difference. Being a mother of young children I am constantly surrounded with cartoons and disney. There is one part of The Emperor’s New Groove where Izma and Kronk are locked in the closet and she says “Let us out right now and we’ll burn your house to the ground!” to which Kronk says, “Dont you mean or?” “Let us out right now ORRRR we’ll burn your house to the ground” and the little girl says “Well which is it!? That sounds like a pretty crucial conjunction to me”

Why is it so hard for us to take the time to listen? To assess all the info and details before we draw conclusions? Why is it that we make excuses for why we are too busy to make time for our loved ones, but allow those we dislike to live rent free in our heads, and have nothing but time to waste on them? Why is it so difficult sometimes for us to just accept that sometimes we have outgrown people, and places, and parts of our lives, and that in order to move forward sometimes you have to leave what is comfortable and familiar, and that perhaps what we are so afraid to let go of has far less to do with love than it does attachment…

To me there is something to this image that I relate to. Photographs I take, to me at least are always in some version a self portrait. Like songs we like, they mean different things at different times to us. People have their happy and sad playlists that cater to their emotional being, and different experiences suddenly make certain lyrics ring more true to us…this image is like that for me. It is a Melancholy Mona Lisa, you see that je ne sais qoui in the face that makes you wonder, but in this case a sense of self inflicted despondency and disarray beneath the surface; only the eyes give away the churning beneath the perfect encasing. …Perhaps you see something different.
…Perhaps tomorrow I will see something different in this image too.

As a complete side note, this image is out of the camera, I didnt touch it at all for post processing…you should come to my seminar I promise we’ll have fun on the photography day. The amazing model in this image is Rachel Breitag, recently in the new movie “How do you know” the Gown is by the immensely talented Darcy Law Couture, when Michael and I renew our vows, she’s the only person I’ll go to for my dress ❤

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You’ve gone to seminars. A local photographer talking about the basics. You’ve gone to the shoot outs, where they offer you a bunch of hot nearly nude models that distract you from the fact that they aren’t actually teaching you very much about photography, while you and all the other photographers end up with 35 of the same shots over each other’s shoulders. You’ve gone to the big conventions, and sat in a class with dozens or hundreds of others trying to follow every word of the teacher, and waiting in lines and hordes of your colleagues to ask your many questions and get a chance to have a moment of one on one time. Perhaps like me you’ve done all of these. Perhaps you’re ready for something a little different.
Over the last few months I have talked to a lot of photographers about what they want out of a seminar or class, and what they walk away from even their favorite classes feeling like they’re lacking. So here is what I see the solution being: What if you got to help design the seminar? What if it was 4 days and three nights? What if it was about the same price as Imaging USA but was all inclusive. A small intimate setting for only 25 photographers that are serious about their artistry and business. Not just class, but conversation, dinner with colleagues, a chance to talk and share the collective artistic natures of us as a profession, and gain the wisdom of each other’s experiences. This will not just be a chance to learn, but a chance to recharge, to find inspiration, to add to your portfolio, to set up your business for the best financial year ever. To get straight answers about how to price your work, how to step up to higher end clients, how to market yourself and create a greater return than people spending money to advertise with theknot and other large expense advertising. Whether you are looking to break away from the mundane 9-5 and pursue your passion full time, or you are taking your craft from avid amateur to professional and want to start out right, if you are looking to hone your skills, or learn some essential business practices, this is for you. Rather than a cold conference room with a powerpoint, I think in order to maximize what you are getting out of the seminar you need to be in a place that breeds creativity and inspiration, so we will be providing you a location designed to tap into all your inner creativity and foster aspiration and enthusiasm. I want all of us to be able to leave behind all the stress and chaos and dullness and clutter that tends to inhibit and bridle our creativity, and be able to really come face to face with our own potential, which is often hard to see under the mountain of responsibilities, chores, the mundane details, the naysayers, and doubts. If I can come into photography with no education in it, no training, no college degree, and no formal experience in owning or running a business; with 2 toddlers, and a husband in the military that was working 13-15 hours on days he actually got to come home; and I can in less than 3 years take myself from shooting on that little green square TFP in my basement, to owning a 1750sqft boutique studio with studio sessions averaging at $750 for just the sitting fee, and $5,000-$15000 weddings; I can only imagine what all of you are capable of with the same knowledge, and I am excited to learn from all of you too.
The seminar is going to be limited to a maximum of 25 people, including myself, it will be covering marketing, branding, advertising, business management, social and business networking, lighting, posing, modeling, photography, dealing with difficult shooting conditions, thinking outside the lens, boudoir, high fashion portraiture, artistic wedding portraiture, photoshop & retouching, portfolio reviews, and turning clients into lifetime investors of your work, and how to branch out to their friends and family and draw all them in. Aside from the teaching aspect there will be time to shoot, time to reflect, time to connect with the other photographers there, and to just enjoy the time to really focus on who you are as a photographer, and what your artistry is and is meant to become.

Over the next few days we will be posting a few prospective sites, we have some beautiful estate like homes in the mountains, complete with game rooms, bars, home theaters, gyms, beautiful views, and gorgeous rustic decors. We also are considering several gorgeous beach houses, with the ocean as a backdrop, the salt air, sand and water to play with, fantastic windows, and double decker wrap around porches. Our other head in the running is a very quaint bed and breakfast also near the beach, with a lovely vintage antique feel, victorian decor, intricate architecture and plenty of space to shoot and be introspective.

We will be posting images of our 3 finalists for locations and you will pick which one you like the best, democracy will rule so the most votes will win. We’ll have details about pricing as well, but are planning on making it mostly inclusive to encompass the seminar, your lodging, meals and other necessities, despite it being inclusive the investment will be extremely affordable. Selection of the property will have no effect on price, it will be a flat fee with no hidden or extra charges.

Due to the intimate nature of the seminar we’ll be accepting letters and calls from interested photographers, but if the interest is as high as we are expecting we will be limiting the invitations.

In addition to food, lodging, and education, we will also have some really gorgeous and amazing models to work with as well, and I am looking to you to give input on what you would like, in order to make this the most beneficial for you. I will do my best to accommodate all of your wants and needs so that you get out exactly what you hoped to from this seminar. Rumor has it that we have some really fun toys and gifts to give away too 🙂

On another note, since so many of you have contacted me with interest in being able to shoot more high end wedding clients, here is a new favorite bridal portrait of mine, I love that it’s pretty and elegant but edgy too.

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Voyeurism.

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Sexy Curves.

Every single woman that has come into my studio has, without prompting, told me everything they don’t like about their appearance, and revealed all their insecurities to me. Gorgeous, stunning women that even as a girl happily married to a manly man I can’t help but stare at, come in and have a moment of uncertainty. It’s fun for me, and a game I play with myself as a photographer to see how quickly I can take them from insecure and nervous and transform them into self expressive intimate, passionate sexual creatures. I feel being a girl, I have a distinct advantage over my male photographer colleagues; one because I can look at a girl, wink and tell her “alright hottie, take your clothes off, let’s shoot you in just those knee high boots” and not have a very angry boyfriend glaring at me or calling later, and the girl doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Secondly, I’m a girl, coming dangerously close to 30, and a mother of 2 toddlers so I understand the insecurities they feel. With a little camera flirtation, and ambiance most women will embrace their natural sexuality fairly easily, but that transition is harder when they happen to be 9 months pregnant. I happen to think baby bellies are very sexy and sensual, and their own rare breed of glamour boudoir. However when everyone is advertising size 2 6ft tall models, it’s hard to feel like the extra curve is appealing. Add to that morning sickness, swollen ankles, stretch marks, and having no clothes that fit and are comfy, the fact that you cant see your toes, and it takes you 3 minutes to get up from a sitting position, and you don’t exactly have the perfect recipe for sexy portraiture. There is in my humble opinion many different sides of sexy. Some are vixens, others are just oozing passion, some are very cute and cheeky, some are seductive, others flirtatious, and some are just quietly sweet in their sexuality. Such is the case with Courtney. A bridesmaid at a wedding I shot last year, she won one of the sessions we gave away for my birthday, and came in yesterday; due on monday.
I really love this image of her, I think the light just defines her subtle sex appeal but it’s her expression that really makes it. Mostly because she kept laughing, trying to be serious and sultry, and complaining that she couldn’t keep from smiling. This particular shot was taken a second after the posed shot, when she relaxed; and I think it is the essence of her and shows the infamous pregnant glow. ❤

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A while back I was having a conversation with another photographer that I considered a mentor when I first stepped into the photography ring. We were discussing the finances of photography business and when I tried to explain why my rates were what they were and the response was that I was robbing people, that what we do just isnt worth that much, to be fair my rates are more than triple theirs, and I am only beginning my third year of business, while they have more than 2 decades under their belt. For as many photographers that turn their noses up and call high end photographers extortionist for making $1000 a session while others are charging $25 with a full disk of images, many of those photographers are charging those rates because they dont know how to move up and market themselves in the more expensive range, and even if they can, they just arent bringing in the amount of business they want and they fall victim to booking 5 $200 sessions instead of 1 $1000 session. My first photo session was for $25.00 too, in my bedroom, and my first wedding I shot for $250. My averages now are $750-2000 for a studio session, and I’m averaging about $5000 a wedding. That’s not where my prices start but what most of the clients end up choosing to invest, because they love the products and services. So how in less than 3 short years, with no formal photography training and no education in business management have I grown on that kind of scale? I’m not very good at math but lets say I do only 12 weddings a year, and 2 studio sessions a month. At the minimum of $750 a studio session that still equates to $78,000. If you are charging lower, say $150-250 a session and handing over images and we’ll say you shoot 335 days out of the year, you’ll make about $50,000-85000. Right around the same amount I’d make shooting 36 days a year. Now keep in mind that I keep weddings to 35 a year, and I wont shoot more than 3 days a week, that puts my projected rates for 2011 at $292,000. Want to know why I make that much? Good Marketing, a husband who happens to be brilliant at math and accounting, an amazing assistant, good networking, and amazing clients that refer me to their loved ones, a background in artistry that lends to good images, capturing precious moments. Yes all these things weigh in, but stack them all against the one thing that really makes the difference and it doesn’t measure. I care. I genuinely and completely care about my clients, and my craft. I consider it an honor to be included in these moments that are so important in people’s lives. I consider our craft a sacred duty, we are preserving the things that matter most in the world to people. I think when people know that the things that are most precious to them also hold value and meaning for you they are more than willing to let you be the one to capture those moments and people in a beautiful and artistic way, and will pay you happily for what you do. I have some really amazing stories that I share a small part in with my clients, and get to retell through my imagery. I have a new favorite on that list. On valentine’s day I received a call from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. My heart always drops when they come up on the caller id… I know why they are calling, they only ever call for one reason; because I am a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Photographer. Basically if you haven’t heard of them, or read my posts about this organization, we are a collection of photographers across the states that go in and offer complimentary portrait sessions for newborns with terminal conditions… we provide the only portraits these families will ever have of their loved ones. It is a bittersweet thing we do, I am grateful for whatever small part I can give to the healing process, but my heart aches for these families in a very strong way, and I have shed a lot of tears over these moments, these newborn little angels, and these families; I am a very sensitive person by nature and I am a mother, any mother knows: from the moment you see your baby for the first time you love them more than you have loved anything in your life, and that love inspires every other emotion more fiercely than you have ever felt it. You go in, you focus on the family and the baby, you remind yourself that it’s not for right now, its for 6 months, 6 years, 60 years from now… there is some record of these brief and sacred moments for them to hold onto the love when the grief dissipates a little bit. To some extent the ‘photographer mode’ takes over and it goes similar to a session with any other baby, maybe that’s just a defense mechanism we use to cope. For me it’s afterwards. When I get in my car and drive home all I can think about is hugging my kids. About how lucky I am that they are at home with their little star lamps and lullabies, and I can sit by their beds and just look at them, listen to them breathing peacefully, and wish them sweet dreams. Going through the images the next day is hard, a lot of times I download them but wont touch them for another day. For me all the images I take when I look at them they inflict the same emotion viewing them, that I had shooting them. I’ve become familiar with the scenario and how I handle and cope with it from beginning to end, it starts with a phone call, and ends with me giving a DVD of images to a family that will always have a special place in my heart. It’s true with any kind of photography that you click with some clients more than others. I am very lucky that I have so many amazing clients. I really value all of them, and one of the fringe benefits of moving into the the higher end market is that if you don’t click with someone you can recommend them to someone else, because meshing well really does give you the advantage in capturing better photos of them. From the moment I walked into CHOP on monday, I just adored Sharon and Joel. They were sweet, kind, and amazingly personable and hopeful despite their situation. Their beautiful baby boy was inundated with wires and tubes in the NICU. I photographed them with their son in the tiny space around his bed that they were tethered to. Sometimes the families will wait until they are ready to take their baby off life support to do the photos, in many cases it is the only time they get to hold and see their baby without all the wires and tubes and just be close to them. I remember specifically Sharon being overwhelmed by how close he was to her without his immobilizer. They werent aware of the option to photograph him off life support, but they werent planning on taking him off for another few days. Later that night I received an email, followed by a phone call in the morning by the social worker asking if I could come back in and photograph him again. Technically the NILMDTS foundation allows for one session and a CD of high res images for them to keep. I of course could not say no. So again I drove all the way down to Philadelphia. It’s the first time I’ve gotten the chance to spend more than one day with a family, and that of course strengthened the emotional connection to both the family and the baby especially, and I knew it was going to be a hard day. I remember being moved by the fact that the sides of the baby’s bed were wallpapered with index cards with different bible verses and quotes of hope and healing. He was just cradled and surrounded by love. The moment they pull the respirator tube is just heart wrenching, and as photographers in this realm we have seen it many times, it never gets easier… This time was different. This time when they removed it, he started breathing on his own… and kept breathing. And no one knows why or how. It was such a rare and unexplained blessing, and I got to be there to snap a few photos of a cautiously hopeful family, and I remember just being overwhelmed watching his little chest rise and fall all on it’s own. The nurses and drs. were all baffled, but excited, and we heard a reassuring “he’s breathing better now than he was with the tube in.” At one point his dad joked with me about whether or not the session would still count for my organization…I dont know actually, but if not it most certainly is my humble gift. I am not an intensely religious person, but it is hard to not believe in god, or a greater power when you witness a completely unexplained and unexpected miracle. How do you not feel an amazing sense of joy and wonder and love, how could you not pray that little chest continues to rise and fall steadily throughout the night, and in the morning be thankful to whoever is out there listening to your prayers? These sessions… they’re everything. What price could you put on them? What would people be willing to pay? They’re priceless. Both sides know and feel that way, that’s why we dont charge, and why if we did, no matter what the price, we would be paid for the service. I have met clients with $15,000 budgets and $0. People who have written me checks in full, and people that have stretched out payment plans over the course of 3 years to be able to afford me. Why people will pay so much? Because they know that genuinely what I do I do because to me the moments and what I am doing is priceless. It is worth everything, for the people I work for and for the people that love them, for their future generations. I do it for them, for those moments, not for the money, and that is evident in my artistry and my service. People are intelligent, and they are intuitive, they know when they are a job and when they are cherished. I sincerely believe that when you love what they love, when what matters to you is them and not their wallets, they sense that. Every now and then, when you continue to be genuine and passionate and treat each client as the gift that they are to your craft and career, you are rewarded. Yes part of that is making a very good living with your craft…. but if that is your sole motivation you will not sustain. I am extremely grateful for the growth of my business, it allows my family our lifestyle, lets me spoil my children, build my dream home and studio, and spend time with my family that I am so blessed to have. I love photographing the high end clients and the fashion and artistry that come in the photos, and yes when I am enjoying a quiet morning on my deck with my family and 7 checks come in for over $1000 piece it is amazing to feel the sense of accomplishment from breaking the starving artist routine… but I still genuinely would have traded all the income I’ve made this year so far to be here for this moment:

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Musician

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by people of many talents and much wisdom.  One of these people is my very wonderful in house massage therapist Brian Carre who just has star quality in spades.  I recently went to one of his shows at this moody coffee house near by that gave me my first job at 13 years old as a waitress for a bunch of musicians, artists, and caffeine addicts from 4pm until 1am.

This was my favorite image of the evening

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If you look over my facebook albums you’ll see half a dozen watermarks, different fonts, different information, different names, I’ve had 7 different websites, 3 company names, and at least 15 or so business card designs.  In fact the only thing that has stayed the same really is my phone number.  On the upside my assistant Martha has wallpapered our refrigerator in the studio with all the past products and projects and business cards, and it is at times both amusing and reaffirming to see how much there has been and how far I have come in such a short time, professionally and artistically.  It makes me wonder where I will be in another two years.  It also has inspired both this post and my lack of posting in the last few months.

If you are like me  you artistic at heart.  While there are some who see photography as a lucrative career choice and exhibit enough proficiency in knowledge and ability to accompany their desire for a successful business, but if you are not passionate about the actual artistry of our craft, I just don’t think that the momentum you need to make it in this industry can be sustained.  The down side of us artistic souls is that we constantly are hungry to create, and to express, and a lot of times that leads to us constantly erasing the drawing board and starting over… good in photography and art, not so much in marketing and branding.

I have read enough and studied under marketing gurus to understand the importance of branding and the ability for people to recognize your brand in your marketing campaigns.  A lot of the recreation for me came in frustration that I felt what was designed was not accurately representing both myself and my vision, and that I never am in one place too long without feeling restless.  I do feel like each time I have gotten closer to what it is I am trying to portray, but I have also abandoned everything else that laid foundation for the growth, not only in design, and imagery, but down to the name and contact information.  Study the subtlety  of the business tycoons.  For example if I said red soda can, white lettering your first thought is?    Coke?   most of you are nodding if your not, you’re the exception and that’s ok.  We love you anyway.

So here is a vintage ad for Coca-Cola:

now for the sake of time saving here are some of the slogans from the year of my birth till now:

  • 1982 – Coke is it!
  • 1985 – America’s Real Choice
  • 1986 – Red White & You (for Coca-Cola Classic)
  • 1986 – Catch the Wave (for New Coke)
  • 1989 – Can’t Beat the Feeling. (also used in the UK)
  • 1993 – Always Coca-Cola.
  • 2000 – Enjoy.
  • 2001 – Life tastes good. (also used in the UK)
  • 2003 – Real.
  • 2005 – Make It Real.
  • 2006 – The Coke Side of Life (used also in the UK)
  • 2007 – Live on the Coke Side of Life (also used in the UK)
  • 2009 – Open Happiness

Now for me personally if I was asked to recall a coke slogan the first that came to mind was Always Coca-cola.  Writing it I’m singing the little jingle in my head.  Can you hear it?  Now here is a recent design for Coke:

Notice how the logo is almost identical?  Even though the first add was probably from the 60’s, and that is half a century ago, double the amount of time I’ve been alive, but do you know what that means?  My grandmother can recognize the brand as easily as I can, despite the fact that the slogan has changed quite frequently the core of what the brand is based on has remained virtually unchanged.  Something that cant be said about mine, and I’m only 3 years old as a business, but clients I had the first year have an email address that’s outdated, a website that isn’t there anymore, and even the way I watermark the images is different.  This is an inner struggle that I at least recognized last year, so it was important to me to sit down and really meditate on what it was that I and my photography were, and how we were portrayed.

A few days before Christmas Michael got the call that his name was on the list to deploy to Afghanistan because he was filling empty places for a unit already mobilized there was no prep time, so my time down to focus on where I wanted to go next with my studio became instead time to focus on my family.  I virtually shut down the studio, turned away work, I couldn’t bare to sacrifice one moment shared with my children and husband…military families know.  When the threat of having someone you love ripped away from you is in your face, the rest seems less important.  At the very least I would be sacrificing almost a year of time with him, and there would be plenty of time in his absence to focus on my career.
We had his going away party, everyone expressed their love and desire for his safe return… and then as military families also know: the most frustration comes from lack of definite information.  We didnt get the call, we were never told when the leave date was, supposed to be at the beginning of february we began to breathe easier, thinking perhaps he wouldn’t go.  Fantastic.  I could hope for nothing more.

Funny thing about the military.  With the national guard most of the soldiers have civilian jobs, and to help the trials of military families those jobs are required to hold their positions for when they return… however military positions are not.  A strange irony.  So although we were ok to survive a few weeks without income until he deployed, since we have heard nothing the financial situation was looking very dire, especially since I am one of very few photographers in this area that also has a full studio, and Couture Manor costs as much as a house to run, in addition to the fact that we have our own house and on the near 2 acre property is a second building that for the time being is used as an in law suite for my father in law.  He spoils my kids with cookies and cakes and pies, and he and my husband single-handly built my first studio.  We have had a very charmed life for a long time, close to our loved ones, both in fullfilling careers, a healthy little boy and girl, and a cat to frustrate for hours with a laser pointer.  We have had our share of hardships and heartaches, like any other, but while I momentarily lose myself in that, I really can only be grateful for how many blessings we have.  This is the first time since we got married when we were 22 that we have ever really felt the fear of not knowing what to do, where we were going, what the right choice was, how to keep, to sustain our lives and provide for our children.

Fear would dictate it was time to panic… very calmly my husband said “I’ll come work for you.”  I laughed at him, then realized he wasnt kidding.  If anything has aided in the fast success my photography career has seen it is having his support, he believes in me before I do most times.

I know for a lot of you you share in the concerns of uncertainty with the photography business.  There is a constant ebb and flow with work being seasonal, with the income not being a steady 9-5 paycheck, wondering if you can sustain yourself on what you love when so few people do, and if you can, will you ever be comfortable and not living day to day, will you be able to retire later?  Send your kids to college?

I can tell you it is possible, and if you’re waiting for the right time it’s now.  Or perhaps a few months from now, with some careful planning.

For me for the last week or two we have been building new marketing materials and solidifying the studio’s brand.  I draw inspiration from everywhere and everyone I can, and sometimes something a mentor has said stays with me through different moments of my career.  Today it’s Joe Buissink:  “the most important thing about photography is who you are.”  So my brand is…me.  Customer service is very important to me, and personal connection, and artistry, the bonds of family, and romance are all significant parts of me and a lot of that translates into the artistry.

So here is the executive decisions.  The website will be reverted to JessicaLark.com  I think a lot of me resisting that was because until I found photography, defining me was difficult and I felt there was very little worth paying attention to, it was difficult for me to build my brand around myself and my name and not feel that it was screaming of vanity and ego.  It’s taken me almost 3 years to see that I can not separate the 2.  I feel like a lot of photographers especially those who consider themselves educators seem to resist giving you solid information and advice concerning the business of photography.  So this is my commitment to those of you who pay attention to my little blog in the sea of information and chaos that is constantly engaging your monitor:  I am going to be as forth coming as I can with exactly what I am doing in my studio.  From equipment I’m shooting with and tricks I’m learning, to what I’m doing with marketing, advertising, and business, companies I’m utilizing that are helping my studio grow, to mistakes I’ve made that may offer you the lesson without the expense of experiencing the same mistake first.  I encourage you to share with me your experiences and tips as well as opinions and criticisms so that I can pass them through to my readers.  Along that line, for me a big lesson to learn was the subtle difference of redefining your brand as opposed to reinventing it entirely.  Part of that is to be expected with a studio as young as mine because I was and am still centering on what my brand is.  In my vast changing of details with the brand I have also found things that rung true and have transcended into the new.  Here is the new.  Something I feel is very close to an accurate visual portrayal of what my brand is becoming.

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