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Archive for March, 2011

When I bought my first DSLR 3 short years ago, I knew nothing about photography, at all.  I walked out of the store with my shiny, extremely highend, top of the line, can’t get any better Canon EOS 40D and Kit Lens!  I shot my first 2 sessions on that little green square that makes for perfect exposure every time!  I even went back to the store thinking something was wrong with the camera because I kept getting blurry images; which had nothing to do with that fraction on the camera being at 1/20, and what the heck do I need to worry about math anyway, I wanted a camera not a calculator.

{it’s ok, go ahead and laugh}

Bambi Cantrell teases on occasion and says “I know the difference between an F Stop and a Bus Stop”  Well I had no idea what it was stopping, and ISO I didnt say as letters, I actually told someone very proudly that my is-o was 400 at one seminar.  Every newbie wannabe photographer that the trolls hate, and the pros knowingly shake their heads at with a sort of wise amusement.  That was me.

I went into a seminar knowing nothing declaring my bold ambition to become an amazing wedding photographer to a room full of mostly men that had been shooting at least 5 years or more.  I got laughed at, literally.  In fact I’m pretty sure the scene could be very likened to Legally Blonde when she hands her pink scented resume saying “I think it gives it a little something extra” before flipping her hair and walking purposefully away, and the teacher turns and says “You think she just woke up one morning and said ‘I think I’ll go to lawschool today.’?”  Well essentially that was exactly what I did.

I will say that I have always been an artist in one medium or another, and studying figure painting working with oils I think definitely gave me a distinct advantage in being able to compose the image, and later in understanding how lighting could change the mood of the photo.  I didnt understand how shutter speeds worked, or what aperture was, and while I understand ISO now, I still never remember the words the acronym stands for.

I shot my first paid photo shoot for $25 in my bedroom, Thanks Remy ūüôā  and my first wedding for $250, thanks Stacy ūüôā  With no prior experience.  Although I’m not sure Stacy knew that at the time.  To be honest Looking at the images now I dont feel like I had the right to charge anything.  There is a reason why any good professional will tell you to study and assist a pro first, especially with weddings.  They’re too important and they can never be recreated.  At least with a portrait session if a client or model is unhappy with the end result they can reshoot it, with you or someone else.

Most people assume that as you get more talented, and more experience you get to charge more‚Ķ well yes to an extent.  Like any craft the better and more high end your service or product the more expensive it becomes comparatively.  The first year I raised my prices because I knew what I was doing and the quality of my images improved drastically.  Raising my prices also enabled me to incorporate a lot of the services and products that I knew I wanted to include in my studio.  At the end of 2009 I raised my prices not only for the increase in quality and because I wanted to move up to the next level of high end products and albums to display them, but because I understood the value of what I was doing.

I have never been the photographer that promises to treat your day as the most important thing in the world, because my focus is not on the day.  I take photos with the next decades and generations in mind.  For instance one of my favorite clients is Angelina, who was my very first maternity session.  We did her beautiful daughter Valentina’s newborn, 3,6,9 and 12 month portraits, and soon they’ll nail down a wedding date ūüėČ  I see these images of Valentina and Angelina, and I know that someday when Valentina gets to put on a wedding dress and her Daddy walks her down the aisle that he and I will both think of him holding her as a new baby, and I was there for that moment too, and captured it, and the emotion that he felt is just as strong to everyone that sees the photograph as it was to him in that moment.  How do you place a monetary value on that?

Every mother cherishes photos of their children, and every child I have been so fortunate to be a part of the beginning of their lives and to chronicle their development and capture their little personalities budding in the first year hold a very special place in my heart.  I know that some of my images have been the profile shot for their mom’s facebook until it is replaced by one from their next session‚Ķ what matters more to us than our children?  That is why some photographers can charge $2000 for a portrait sitting, and $850 for an 16×20 print.  Is there any print lab in the world, or any camera that is that clear and precise to warrant that kind of price?  Absolutely not.  No piece of paper is worth that price‚Ķbut the moment that’s on it is.  Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, offers a complimentary service to photograph terminal newborns for families.  The service is completely free, and offered by some of the most talented and successful photographers of our time.  Sandy Puc has grossed over $1,000,000 in a single year for her studio, and she is the founder of the organization.  Why would photographers used to making $750-2000 for a portrait session drive through 8am traffic for 3 hours to go stand in a NICU waiting room, pay for gas, and $30 in parking fees, return double the usual images for a portrait session, and package them in the same high end and high overhead that their best paying clients receive?  Because it matters.  Because it’s the only moments they’ll ever have to cherish and immortalize.  Because as photographers our passions are often intertwined with the artistry and also with the desire to create something that will outlast us, a testament for ourselves and our clients that we were here.

Still if we didnt do this, what would someone be willing to pay?  What are those photos worth to the parents?  I know that there are some people that would literally sell their homes to be able to pay 100s of 1000s of dollars to have a single photograph in their possession.  Not because the photo is worth that much, but because that moment that it captured, a single moment they got to hug and love their child‚Ķthere’s no measure to that.  People can always make more money, they can replace possessions.  There are plenty of sob-to-success stories of people that lost absolutely everything, foreclosed on their homes, had all their belongings torn away from them, struggled financially for years, only to become millionaires a decade or 2 later.  A moment cant be replaced, but through a photograph, a letter, a video, an article of clothing, a locket, an heirloom, the moment and the emotion that existed in it can be relived as strongly as it was in the moment it happened.  It’s why nearly every bride that has come into the studio to see her photos has laughed and cried while there.

It seems like a pretty strong argument for the value of photography huh?  It’s never been about the photographs, it’s about what they represent.  And this is where everyone is expecting me to make an impassioned argument for the shoot and burns and low ends to see the error of their ways and start raising their prices and the value of our craft in this industry.  I dont think that is the case at all actually.  I don’t think any of us need to charge more because that is what we need to teach our colleagues and clients the value of photography should be.  I have no problem with $500 wedding photographers, I have met some that care as much about the day as I do, and give as much effort and care, and take photos as beautiful as mine for that price, hand over a disk of images and are done.  What I do have a problem with is the people that charge $500 because they consider it a good day’s pay and have no sanctity for what they have been invited to take part in and record, they shoot on auto, dont learn how to photograph, let the little green square think for them, and hand over snapshots no better than any of the photos from the guest’s cameras. When brides pay for those kinds of people even if they only spend $500 or $50 dollars they have wasted their money, and the photographers have done a disservice not only to the moments, but to the future generations that will cherish them.

You would think that all of this is fairly simple, and some of you are probably saying “uh duh Jessi”  Sure there are people that buy cameras, you can get a low end DSLR for a few hundred dollars nowadays, and take poorly exposed, out of focus photos that they ruin even more in photoshop with some free actions they found online‚Ķ but why would any bride or mom ever consider them?!

Well for the same reason others will pay $10,000 for a single portrait session of their puppy, because it’s not about the photograph, it’s about the love they have for the subject and what the photograph means to them.

I have taken thousands of photographs of my own children, and anyone that knows them knows they are characters.  {As evident by this year’s christmas card}  And I have gotten infinitely better on the technical side of photography, understanding my lighting, composition, post processing and all that‚Ķ but this photo below is still one of my favorites.  It’s horribly out of focus, if it was in focus you would be able to see it’s under exposed, the lighting it does have is completely flat, It’s cut in half by the bright red pillows and the lamp and curtains both are so bright that they compete with his face.  Pretty much as far as a photograph goes, it fails, on every level.  Epic-ly.  It will never be included in my professional portfolio, never be submitted for competition, never be on my website.  It absolutely is on my personal facebook page‚Ķit absolutely got tagged to my mom, it absolutely makes me smile every time I see it.  Because that single blurry, out of focus, under exposed, poorly composed photograph complete captures my son’s personality that first year, and it instantly fills my heart with love, and laughter, and nostalgia, and a realization of how much he has grown and how he is a whole little person now and not my baby anymore‚Ķ that is why there will always be a market for $25 photo shoots, and $500 wedding photographers, and why we should always strive to be more for our clients.

Those moments will be cherished no matter what, because the moment captured invokes that emotional reaction; but it is our sacred duty as photographers to capture it beautifully, to not just freeze the moment but create an artistic masterpiece of it, to have our image be worthy of the moment and emotion it is trying to tell the story of.  These moments are our past, people create albums of vacations, and milestones, and just every day moments of the kids running through the yard in the sprinklers in summer because they are what mattered in our lives, and in the future they will mean different things to the next generations.  It will give us glimpses into the lives and personalities of who our grandparents were as young adults, as children themselves, it will follow family trees through 4 and 5 generations, it will inspire love and aching through weathered pages of a 60 year old wedding album that a widow pulls out after burying her husband of 50 years.  It will show a young child or young adult a brother or sister they never got to meet because of an unthinkable loss, and enable that child to feel the love their parents had for their sibling and inspire them to feel it too, even though they never met, or can’t remember.  {My son is named for my husband’s younger brother who passed away at 11 months old.  My daughter’s middle name for my good friend and maid of honor who passed away at 19, weeks before my wedding, and only days before I found out I was pregnant with her}  People they have never met, but will feel a connection to from the stories we tell and the emotions that we feel in remembering them.

I do not personally believe that we can do our best to capture preserve these things with the beauty and quality they deserve at those kinds of rates.  I know for me personally a lot of income I make every year goes into education to learn more from the mentors I think are masters of our craft, and investing in higher quality prints, albums, and keepsakes because I want their heirlooms to have a physical and financial value that compliments the emotional value to make an even more potent impact on those that view my imagery and cherish those moments.  I sincerely believe that there are 2 kinds of photographers at that level.  There are those that are beginning, and just waiting for someone to lead them to the next step so that they can truly tap into their potential and ability, and there are those who dont value the amazing gift we are given by are clients to be a part of these moments.  The first are simply waiting to bloom, the second will simply dissolve into the background, and their time in this industry will be short lived, you simply can not sustain a career in a craft such as ours without passion, and without respect for what a gift it is.

 

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Failure is an interesting thing for me, while in the midst of it of course I feel despondent and defeated, and sometimes question why I bother trying; but thing of it is: Failure is a temporary condition; quitting is the only thing that makes it permanent. ¬†One of my favorite stories, and I’m not even sure it’s factual, but once someone asked Thomas Edison, “you failed at making the light bulb a thousand times, didn’t you just want to give up?” ¬†Thomas Edison replied “I didn’t fail a thousand times, I learned 1000 ways to not make a lightbulb.” ¬†I think that’s an important mentality to have, at least if you have the ambition to accomplish anything great. ¬†I know that it is easy to say, and easy to swallow when you aren’t in the midst of things crumbling, I have very slowly progressed to being able to change my perception of the circumstances and not succumbing to the woe-is-me persona‚Ķ most of the time. ¬†I’m very lucky to also be surrounded by good people, in particular Michael Lark and Martha Helt, who do a fantastic job at keeping me grounded, and helping me to remain calm when we’re weathering the storms; personally and professionally.

I think when your career is something you are deeply passionate about it is harder to separate your personal hardships from business and “leave your baggage at the door” ¬†because emotion fills into our artistry; it’s kind of like my Grandmother always insisting that you don’t cook when you’re sad because you can taste it.

Aside from that the failures serve as milestones. ¬†When the next good thing happens, or the next accomplishment is reached it tastes a little sweeter, and you’ll start to realize that what you thought was an epic fail at the time was actually just you stumbling a little on the climb up, I’d rather stumble on the stepping stones, dust myself off and keep going, then get stuck in it, and miss reaching the milestones.

I know too that for me starting out, a big frustration was not having someone to go to when I had questions about anything from marketing, to business, to photography and lighting. ¬†It seemed that anyone on my level didn’t have the answers and anyone who did had no intention of sharing lest they train their competition. ¬†Unless you were paying a good amount of money for a seminar or class, no one was offering any help. ¬†Then I met Scott Bourne; who introduced me to Skip Cohen. ¬†Another worth mentioning is Dane Sanders, I had purchased his book and he graciously had signed it for me, simply, and inspirationally: “Lead Us” ¬†He said in his seminar the world has enough celebrities and rockstars, what we need is more Leaders‚Ķ Skip and Scott are leaders. ¬†Their wealth of knowledge is invaluable, and they are 2 of the most generous people I have ever come across, with their knowledge and time, and Scott, he must give away 100s of 1000s of dollars in equipment, software and other gifts. ¬†The two of them founded GoingPro, you can get to their fb page from my fanpage favorites. ¬†They now have created PWSPI in collaboration with other industry leaders such as Bambi Cantrell and Jerry Ghionis, Clay Blackmore, Tamara Lackey, and Kevin Kabota. ¬†If you are looking for the best of the best their organization is it.

On another note, and in the humblest way I can offer it, I encourage you to contact me if you have questions or are struggling. ¬†From wedding planning to photography, to starting a business, whatever information I have I am happy to share. ¬†I am so lucky to see and know so many talented and promising people, and if anything I have learned or done in my three years of business can help accelerate your path to success I’d be sincerely happy and honored to help if I can, or at the very least to point you in the right direction to where the correct answers are.

Start now, you have Diem to Carpe.

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We have been in the process of designing a brand new location to our flourishing studio closer to the Philadelphia. This means, that our seminar will be officially the Grand Opening of our new studio! I think this will be a very good opportunity to invite everyone into our actual studio so you can really see how everything works from a logistical, artistic, and financial standpoint.

Our new studio is located on nearly 2 picturesque acres that sit up against a golf course {feel free to bring your clubs boys} The grounds offer fruit and weeping willow trees, a beautiful little pond that spills over a small waterfall into the stream that carves it’s way through the property. The new studio itself has ample parking, a state of the art theater presentation room with a 100″ screen and boasts all the favorite man cave amenities like darts, cards, and video games, and of course alcoholic refreshments. It offers a comfortable place to learn for the business classes along with all the high tech instruments needed to share information.

The upstairs in contrast hosts our ballroom-like loft studio, with cathedral ceilings, enormous windows for natural light, and an overall “contemporary antiquity” that blends all the newest luxuries with the character of antique furnishings. The outdoor patio overlooks all the grounds which will be lush and green in the beginning of spring when you arrive.

With this location, it gives some of our closer photography friends and business enthusiasts from the Philadelphia area a chance to come to the seminar, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to make the trip. There is also a bed and breakfast and Holiday in within 2 miles of the studio. Its incredibly important to us that we are able to host seminars that can accommodate the people that truly want to learn and invest in their future success. Its also a very unique opportunity to invite all of our attendees to be the first to really take advantage of all of the ammenities our new location has to offer, and observe an insider look at how our studio runs and works on a daily basis.

I believe that being able to really see the inner workings will help all of you aspiring to begin or further your professional careers.

Tuition to attend the full 4 days is $400, or the 2 full day classes for $350. Friday will be focusing on photography and shooting, and Saturday will be focusing on the business end. You can attend a single day class for $250. If you decide to attend our super Monday class 5/16 you can receive a $100 discount for our seminar. We also are offering a $550 special for couples that would like to bring their significant others. They can sit in on the classes, or enjoy the amenities the location has to offer.

We have been doing some polling with our photographers looking to have photography be their sole income and the majority of you seemed to want to earn in the neighborhood of $50,000-$60,000 dollars. We will be taking sometime during the business day to teach you how to reach that goal this year with a very detailed breakdown of investment, how to price your work, the products and companies you should be working with, where and how to market, and how to exceed that goal. I will be sharing ALL the information I have on how I built my studio to do that in less than 2 years, and how I overcame a lot of the obstacles a lot of you are also encountering like having young children, other careers, financial hardships, lack of funds to invest in marketing etc. I offer my personal promise that you will leave with a detailed map of directions for how to reach and succeed your goals, all you have to do is implement them into practice.

I understand this is a major investment, I know that it requires an enormous amount of trust and faith and you have been told that you would forever live the starving artist life, that it’s good for extra cash but not viable sustaining income… The people saying that are the ones that will never survive doing something that they love. I encourage you to let go of all the fears that I know you have because I have shared them with you in different stages of my professional journey, and believe enough in yourself and your craft to reach beyond your highest expectations for success. I can promise that with that belief, hard work and the tools, education and resources I am providing that every single one of you that come can far exceed the milestones I have achieved

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Things you should bring with you:
-laptops {there will be complimentary wireless internet provided}

-your competitive nature and favorite video games {there is xbox, wii, and a card table!)
-a notebook {we’ll be sharing a lot of information in a short time and it is good for you to have a notebook on hand to help you recall important things you wanted to remember after you go home}
-camera equipment {we’ll be shooting throughout the seminar but have an entire day dedicated to it on friday, bring your cameras, flashes, lenses, cards, etc} Leave the tripods and studio lighting equipment at home please}
-sneakers or comfy walking shoes {we arent going to be in this beautiful setting and not take advantage of it!}
-portfolio {we’ll be doing reviews, ipad, book, laptop, pick your 5 best images for review.}
-questions {start writing them down now as you think of them, about business, marketing, advertising, pricing, photography, lighting. photoshop, etc, anything you want to know make sure you have a list so you don’t forget what is important to you to take away from this.}

We will be providing refreshments through out the seminar.

If you have any questions about what to bring or not to bring, thoughts or concerns about the seminar please dont hesitate to message me.

For your convenience we recommend: http://www.shearerelegance.com/ it’s a very quaint little bed and breakfast only a mile away from our studio location. For those of you wishing to go a little more mainstream there is also http://www.hiexpress.com:80/hotels/us/en/limerick/ptwlp/hoteldetail only a little further down the street.

The closest airports for those flying in is Philadelphia or Allentown airports.
We already have the seminar more than half booked, it’s important to us that we keep it small in order to allow a lot of one on one time and the intimate setting that we promised. Please don’t wait to book! We anticipate with the more local setting that it will sell out in the next few days. Below you will find the syllabus.

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Seminar:
May 5th DAY 1
3:00 PM – 5:00PM Arrival
5:00 PM Arrival Dinner
6:30 PM Self-Assessment and Discovery Session Your Dream Life and how that correlates with your business. Defining your professional and personal priorities, focus, and goals and implementing them into a successful business plan.
7:30 PM Obstacle Recognition and Overcoming It What are your obvious and subtle obstacles, subconscious, logistical, and financial, and how do you overcome them and turn them into strengths.
9:00 PM Round Table Reflection and conversation with peers.

May 6th DAY 2
9:00 AM Setting Up for Financial Success Sole Proprietorships vs Corporations, Setting up bank accounts and financial breakdowns, Pricing your work for profit, What you make as opposed to what you keep, taxes, write offs, financial projections. How to make $100,000 next year as a photographer.
10:30 AM Natural, Studio, Low, and Challenging Lighting Situations Understanding how to maximize your efficiency shooting with studio lighting, dramatic, portraiture, and glamour lighting, how to overcome obstacles and challenging situations with low lighting, Learning to manipulate natural light.
12:00 PM On Location Shooting Shooting outside the studio, a roaming shoot in different locations and learning how to have the backdrops compliment the model and enhance the image instead of it competing with the model.
2:00 PM Lunch
3:00 PM Free Shooting and Reviews Free Shooting time with the models to test out and implement all the new information you just learned, this is time to play with the camera or take some down time to yourself, we’ll also be doing private mentoring and portfolio reviews at this time.
6:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM Boudoir The finer art of boudoir photography, setting yourself apart as an artist from everyone else shooting nearly nude girls, and how to market yourself to be paid well for it when so many others are shooting it for free.
10:00 PM Round Table

May 7th Day 3
7:00 AM Sunrise Reflection A high fashion couture photoshoot to get your creative juices flowing, and coffee and conversation on the deck.
9:00 AM Seducing Your Client How to start appealing to your ideal clientele, marketing yourself and your photography and standing out from everyone else, booking the initial sale and keeping your clients throughout their lives.
11:45 AM Brunch
1:00 PM Seducing Your Client Part 2 of the class, business, creating a brand, stepping up from your competition, how to get to where you want to be efficiently and quickly, turning your craft into a career. {this class is an all inclusive business of photography class, and will explain how I went from $25 sessions in my basement to owning my own studio, selling $10,000 wedding packages and working with celebrity stylists, magazines and influential people in 2 years.}
3:30 PM Lunch
4:30 PM Photoshop a step by step process from beginning to end on the tools of photoshop and how to use it to enhance your images and aid in creating your unique signature style.
6:45 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Photographer Challenges a series of photographic challenges and games designed to improve your photography skills and teach you to think outside the box and on your feet in everyday and unique situations.
10:00 PM Round Table

May 8th Day 4
9:00 AM Self-Assessment After the classes and time to reflect have your priorities or focus changed? What new practices and thought processes do you need to implement into your photography and business? How much closer are you to your ideal career and income than you thought?
10:00 AM Branding Continuity Creating a lasting and impacting brand for your studio that will separate you from your competition, and tie your clients to you indefinitely for generations.
12:00 PM Seminar-Assessment A review of the seminar, what you learned, what you wanted more time and energy spent on and your suggestions for next year’s seminar.
1:00 PM Brunch and Goodbyes

Payments can be made by Check or Money Order to:
Jessica Lark
Couture Manor

787 North Lewis Road

Royersford PA 19468

And you can also go to: http://www.couturemanor.com/photocart/index.php?do=photocart&viewImage=110098 and reserve your place at the seminar, any questions or concerns please call us at 610-960-1115.

We love being able to afford those the opportunity to learn and we love being able to share our passion by helping others. We are firm believers that sharing knowledge in a hands on environment with other like minded people is the best way to grow. “if you want to go far, go together!” Can’t wait to see and meet all of you!

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Like everyone else that owns a small business the economy’s shaky stature made me wince and I was concerned about the ability for my little company to stay afloat in a sea of financial chaos and uncertainty. Everyone else was sharing the same fears and apprehensions and there were numerous studies showing that couples we postponing their weddings or at the least scaling back on what they were spending‚Ķ that was good enough bait for most professionals to start discounting if not abandoning their pricing structure for something that would be more affordable and appealing for their clientele, especially in our industry where we are already fighting against the shoot and burn photographers that in undercharging are teaching potential brides that is all their family heirloom is worth, and the quality of that first heirloom is diminished because of it.
For me personally there was an added element of panic this year because Michael was called to deploy and because of such took leave from his duty here to spend time with his family. We had enough money in savings to cover our expenses for a month or two until he left for afghanistan, and at the moment time together with the kids was the most important thing to us. So when the military changed their minds {that NEVER happens} and postponed his date, I went from having to only financially support my studio and craft, and enjoying the benefit of having extra spending cash to being the sole source of income for my studio and my family. Panic was a bit of an understatement.
So when we got a call from a friend about wedding photography there was more pressure than usual to book it, because we needed the money. Now. So we offered a discount for the day, and then when they hesitated on the price we continued to negotiate for several days, not only fueled by financial pressures but because they were friends, and at one point we realized that we had nearly discounted to half our usual rates…but was $3000 now worth the possibility of $5500 later? At that exact moment it seemed like it was with our mortgage payments looming in the near future for both the studio and our home.
When I start feeling overwhelmed or conflicted I read over notes I have taken from other mentors and the wisdom they have shared, in seminars, in books, in lectures and tutorials. I came across one by Skip Cohen, where he said “Just because they say it’s going to be a bad year for the economy doesnt mean it has to be.”
I let the wedding go, as much as I wanted to photograph it because I loved the couple, and because we needed the income right then.
We booked 2 other weddings that month that gave us a little breathing room, then we got another call from a sister of a friend of ours that came in, their wedding was the same date as the one I had passed up, so I was grateful that we would at least rebook the date, and feel that I made the right decision in letting it go. Not only did they book. They booked an $8000 package. When a few weeks before I had been considering doing a $5500 package worth of work, and outputting all the overhead for it with $2000 less of income. Really had I accepted I would have lost a substantial amount of income, and a wedding that I am super excited about shooting because the couple is absolutely adorable, and fun, and has some really wonderful things planned for their wedding that I am going to love sharing stories about with 2012 brides.
Fear is crippling your success. For some of us it’s lowering prices because we are afraid of the competition undercutting us on price, or we’re afraid of the economy making us another small business casualty in the wake of the financial insecurity. Some of us it’s fear that if we leave the security of day jobs we’ll fail, fail at our passion, fail at providing for our families, fail at being successful in pursuing our wildest dreams and being everything we dared to when we were 5. Fear that if we accomplish everything we are hoping to that the sacrifices will be too great, or we will find ourselves still feeling unfulfilled‚Ķ

When you are ready to let go of your fears, what you can accomplish is limitless, in my humble opinion coupling that with compassion would be an amazing energy with boundless possibilities to change your destiny and impact the world.

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It has been an interesting thing for me to observe the weird fetish that obsession is. It seems that it is a constant tiding between love and hate but always a passionate attachment…though it gravitates more towards a loathing that infects even the affection. I have been blessed to have many awe inspiring mentors and teachers, whom I have learned more from in a very short time than I imagine I could have in a lifetime without them.

Some people are destined to be teachers, it is a part of their being, and you can tell them in the sea of instructors, speakers, gurus, experts and mentors, because they take more pride in their prodigies successes than their own.

When someone can take something that you have shared with them and turn those words into something tangible that they utilize in their journey towards their goals and surpass expectations, in my humble opinion there is no greater compliment to your caliber as an instructor. I hope to be so lucky as a teacher.

I will be the first to admit that I struggle at times with understanding thought processes that vary so significantly from my own. Still I do not understand why one would teach and invite genuine admirers of their craft to become self proclaimed disciples, and then when they do genuinely well and implement what they have learned into a successful venture instead of being proud for their success, and of themselves for having had an integral part in that they instead speak poorly of them to anyone who will listen and respond with bitterness and try to undermine them.

It would be an insult of intelligence to anyone that takes the time to read this to say that this is purely hypothetical, but it has been a war that began as an unsolicited attack, for no other reason than my success in my artistry, business and finances exceeded what was expected, mostly because of the amazing kindness and generosity of other mentors that were above the levels I had hoped to reach and shared freely there knowledge and wisdom to allow me to take the steps they took and avoid the falls they had along the way. It is disheartening to me to say the least, and I have struggled much with the knowledge that someone who was once so great an influence and who I thought so fondly of has pushed so hard to ruin what I considered an essential friendship and would speak so poorly of me to mutual friends and colleagues and be naive enough to assume those words would not come back around to me, and I am disappointed in myself that as often as I have heard similar sentiments spoken about every other in our industry of mutual acquaintance that I would have even momentarily entertained the notion that I would be any different.

For the record, though I will not mention names, because it is important to me that my personal thoughts and experiences with someone does not alter or affect another’s opinion or relationship with someone else. Though the place in our lives may cause our paths to part as this juncture, I still rest in the hope that many more may find what originally I found, in inspiration, knowledge and passion with a 1st mentor. It saddens me that my hard work and my outlook has caused in any way a emotional or mental distress in someone I considered a friend, that we could not simply agree to disagree, especially when I had no idea we were disagreeing in the first place.

At the risk of sounding slightly pretentious, it’s good to have those opposing you, it’s good to have “haters” it shows that you stood up for yourself, that you didn’t cave on your beliefs, or what matters to you. It is important to see this as a positive, that loving or hating you, they are still paying attention, and in most cases cutting you down is the only way they can find to measure up to what you are doing. It’s easy for us at times to hear the negative over the positive, we’ve been trained to do so with news and media, reality tv, and real life‚Ķ we use “busy” as an excuse for why we have no time for our loved ones, our friends and colleagues, our fans; but make all the time in the world for our adversaries. It’s human nature I guess, but I encourage you to rebel against that inclination, and continue on your path, better yet carve your own, and rest in the assurance that the darker they try to make things for you, the brighter your light shines. And the light that shines in the darkness is a beacon for those finding their way.

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I have much to write you, so much has happened in the last few weeks that I dont really know where to begin, and to write it all would be a novel rather than a blog post. As a result there will most likely be subsequent individual posts regarding them. Still in cliff notes format:

Little Miracle Baby Owen, who’s family I wrote about a few blog posts before who defied death in a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Session, is doing remarkably well, he just celebrated his one month birthday, and there are no words I could offer that would express my joy or gratitude for his health.

I have a seminar approaching that I have been giving hints to on facebook and twitter, we’re still locking down the details but it is pretty set that the seminar will be a retreat at a beautiful 10,000 sqft lakefront mansion in the mountains. We are limiting the class size to 20 students and it is 4 days, 3 nights. We’re planning on the 3rd week in May, just waiting to lock it down. Tuition is going to be not more than $500, though we will be offering an early tuition discount for those that sign up in the first 72 hours.

There‚Äôs more, but it can wait for it‚Äôs own blog time ūüôā

On to yesterday and tomorrow.

Many of you have been following my photos and seen my last few magazine cover images for the new DStripped Magazine. It‚Äôs been really fun and I am luckily working with people that have a very couture and artistic creative process similar to my own. The collaboration is so emotionally and artistically fulfilling for me, and the projects I get to be involved in are magnanimous and high energy and it‚Äôs just the most fun I‚Äôve had in exercising my creativity in a long time. I was exceptionally honored when they asked to feature me on the other side of the lens with a special feature they are doing on influential and noteworthy business women, shot by a prominent celebrity photographer and styled by an amazing celebrity stylist: Steven Dillon, who has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Allure, W, been on shows like The View, and Access Hollywood, and styled hair of people like Michelle Rodriquez, Yoko Ono, Liam Neeson, Kate Hudson, and a long list of other celebrities and royalty. A fairly impressive resume to any standards. Getting treated to a haircut and style by him obviously incites a very girlie reaction for the want to jump up and down and shriek hysterically and excitedly. So you can imagine how amplified that sentiment is when I get the phone call that the photographer was unavailable and I was receiving an invitation to work along side him for the Dstripped cover photographing these amazing women, women like the Author of “Cancer Vixen”, Marisa Marchetto, whose book has been adapted for a movie and she is being played by award winning actress Cate Blanchett. Photographing on the Atelier’s Rooftop deck overlooking all of New York City‚Ķyou could say I’m stoked. Last night myself, my ever more essential studio manager Martha, our talented MUA Amanda {incidentally both of which have been featured as cover models for DStripped in the last 3 months}, and my favorite Caterer Nick of NClare all got to go to Manhattan last night meet with the editors and creators of Dstripped, the stylist and case out the location. Clint then treated all of us to dinner in the city at a very posh Thai restaurant called Peep, while we discussed the new project of shooting an ad campaign for Raw Salvage Jeans, American made, and au natural with an incredibly sexy and high fashion concept it’s going to be fantastic.

So tomorrow I will be in Manhattan shooting influential women on a high end building’s roof top deck with an NYC skyline view, for a fully catered shoot with amazingly talented Steven Dillon, for a Magazine Cover‚Ķpretty cool for only being in the industry for almost 3 years.

It is of course an amazing opportunity, with talented an accomplished individuals in my industry, however as if that were not enough, as always I am extremely humbled by their altruism. Steven Dillon also operates his charity project “Cuts for a Cause” which I am very excited for the chance to help participate with in however small a part I may be able to play.

For me the measure of people’s worth in my life is not defined by their connections or possessions, but by what they give, and it never ceases to humble and inspire me when I meet people that I admire professionally for their talents and accomplishments always have amazing causes close to their hearts that they are as dedicated to as their crafts.

We should all be so selfless.

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