They say there’s no generation gap between grandparents and their grandchildren. I’ve always known this to be true. Of course, we’re natural talkers in my family, (at least on dad’s side) but I’ve been known to chat with my grandmother until ungodly hours in the morning. Or maybe that’s because we’re both night owls. (Never mind that I sit here typing away at well past midnight…) Grandparents have already raised their clan so perhaps grandchildren are God’s payment for the 18+ years already banked. Now you can play, spoil rotten, feed tons of candy and kindly send those kiddos back home for their parents to tend to. Haha! My cousins used to cry when it was time to go home after a day at grandma’s. Can’t say that I blame them!
Jocelyn had just spent the night with Grandpa Mike after a fun-filled day of shopping and playing with his dog, Pepper, a cute little Swedish Vallhund he adopted from Petco several years ago. Like most kiddos, she’s EXPLODING (yes, all the caps are appropriate!) with energy! She was loads of fun, giggles and poses, looking my way for every opportunity to hear the snap of my shutter! There’s nothing quite like a little 5 year old that wants to pose for you and strut her stuff! And even better, she LOVES my camera. Or you could say, my camera LOVES her!
But most importantly, she loves her Grandpa!
This last image was inspired by a photograph Mike had of his daughter, Geneva when she was little. (Jocelyn’s mom.) Taken back in the good ‘ole days of film, Geneva waved her hands in the air holding rose stems almost as if she were conducting an orchestra made of flowers. Her eyes, closed. Jocelyn, being very open to posing suggestions, followed a few little instructions, held her arms as if she were dancing and then closed her eyes…click. This was the final result.
I was disappointed when I learned that I left RMSP too soon and didn’t get to attend Lindsay Adler’s class during the Advanced Intensive program. But as luck would have it, several of my vendors forwarded an invitation for me to attend the Look Fabulous Tour AND gave me a happy little discount to attend. And oh how I love happy little discounts. But what I love even more is that ability to learn from not one, but TWO of the leaders in fashion photography (women photographers!) Yes, Lou Freeman would be there alongside Lindsay. The stars were shining down on me!
What I found to be the most enjoyable is how down-to-earth these ladies were, how encouraging and selfless with their experience and wealth of information. They discussed how to bring a fashion flair to your portrait and wedding photography, how to excel in marketing through social networking, how to light in sh*tty conditions and the list goes on. One thing that really resonated with me was how beneficial it is to be a resource for others. Yes, taking images that rock is a plus, but spreading knowledge, giving back…well, it’s karma, right? You get back what you put out there.
It got me thinking a bit more about how most photographers aren’t experts at the business side of photography. Really, unless you have a background in business or know someone with experience that can assist you, trying to understand all the ins and outs kinda feels like rocket science. (Yes, only rocket science is rocket science, but you get the idea.) So I thought I would pass along little tidbits (here and there) that I’ve learned along the way from owning a payroll business and being a sales rep…things that might seem like common sense, yet so few people actually do.
On occasion, I attend a networking luncheon with other sales reps, business owners and the like to try to get my name out there. Each week, they have someone stand up and give a 2 minute educational speech on ways to improve your business. This week’s focus was on the art of the follow up. We all know how important networking is, and in this day and age, sometimes it’s even more important to do it in person than focus solely on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram…(that list never really stops!). But it’s not enough to just go to an event and stand in the corner, you have to engage, find that common ground, hope that someone will have a need for your service. More than likely they will. And as a photographer, there is always an event or occasion of some sort that requires the delicate art of documentation. (Lucky for me!) But networking doesn’t just end once the event is over. Let’s say you made a connection, someone expressed interest…”I need headshots!” Do you just hand them your card and hope that they call you? People are busy. Oh, so busy. We’re also forgetful and inundated with new businesses, marketing ploys and those pesky Groupon deals! So I ask you, did you reach out to that person who expressed interest OR wait on fate to reach out from the depths and make your telephone ring?
The Art of the Follow-Up means that you have between 7-10 days to reach out to that person after said event before they forget who you are. Just 7-10 days. Time goes by quickly and its easy to get distracted, but that time frame is critical. Hopefully you made a great first impression, dazzled them with your confidence and left a memorable business card in their hands, so when that follow up email or telephone call reaches them, they remember who you are and still want to engage in business. The more time that passes, the less likely the chances. (Note: It also helps that you mention how you met and any other personal bits of information you picked up, which shows you were engaged, listening and not just there for yourself.)
So again, seems like common sense, but as soon as I got home, I sent out three emails. Two to people interested in head shots and one who had contacts up North. So far, one immediate response. Hopefully I will hear from the others as Monday rolls around. But the likelihood would be slim to none if I had not reached out at all.
In the meantime, check out the work of these two fabulous ladies Lindsay Adler Photography & Lou Freeman Photography.
Soon to be a family of four, Molly and Bryan are expecting a little boy. A baby brother for their daughter Mia. You may have seen Mia a few times throughout this blog, the cute little blondie with dark eyes and an inquisitive look. She giggles one second singing along with her favorite tunes and then looks at you the next second likes she performing analytical science in her head. Perhaps she’s going to take after her father, after all, she is a Daddy’s Girl for sure!
Meanwhile, Molly told me outright, no pictures of her bare belly exposed to the world!! That was absolutely off limits (to which I smiled). She instead wanted a more fashion-based maternity session of individual images, before the rest of the family came home, complete with hair and make-up so she would feel and look her best. Yes!!! I love it! We immediately came up with ideas, I put together a new Pinterest board for her. (I’m trying hard not to get addicted but it’s hard!) And voila, here’s the final product.
These two are my favorites. I couldn’t decide between eyes closed or eyes open. I love how the window light seeps through her sheer top. These two images just capture this quiet, beauty about Molly.
I couldn’t help myself! Molly says that Bryan buys her these silly little books, of course after Mia came along. This one begged for attention!
Molly told me that Mia looked at these images with her for the first time and that when they came across this one, Mia exclaimed – “Mommy, you are sooo pretty!”
Mia performing analytical science. (Every time I take a photograph her I have at least one image that shows up like this, one finger on cheek. It’s so funny!)
I can’t wait to meet your new baby boy! So excited for you three!
I met Miss E the day before our shoot. She walked into Sweetwater, casual, hair long and flowing with a friendly smile and we exchanged pleasantries in preparation for our session. I liked her instantly…and who wouldn’t, really? She’s like the Jennifer Anniston of Friends. Natural. Unassuming. Her own person.
But what I liked most is how she helped me re-define sexy. Her style, was a cross between J. Crew and Anthropologie. No frilly lingerie or garters here. It was flannel shirts, muted tank tops, and boy shorts! She exuded this quiet confidence mixed in with a liveliness of spirit! I loved it. Proof that less is more and that sexiness is not always showing off those curves or throwing that “come hither look” but it’s also being comfortable in one’s own skin. It’s about wondering what she’s thinking behind that smile.
It’s simple, quiet, beauty.
In my search for finding meaning behind my work I came across a secret passion only recently learned over the course of the summer. One not so secret…I love taking portraits. Give me a landscape any day of the week, but in order for me to give it a sense of scale, of scope and of meaning I need to place a person in it. Perhaps it’s my way of connecting with the world, with the unknown. The other is that I love finding that sparkle within a person and bringing it out into the open for all to see. There’s something quite magical about that beauty that lies beneath the surface. Everyone is capable of expressing it, but most of us hold it safely cradled within, afraid of the judgement and of non-acceptance.
Am I speaking too abstractly? Maybe. So to be more blunt, many of us women have very poor self images. Blame it on advertising and those gazillion magazines with flawless photographs of rail thin models. Do they eat??? (My God, I swear I just downed half a pint of ice cream tonight by myself!) Sometimes I like to blame it on Disney and Barbie. I got snagged at a young age, like when I decided that I needed to wear jeans in the summer time (in Texas) as to not show off my legs. I was 10 years old. Anyhow, I digress. What I discovered over the summer was that even some of the most beautiful girls seemed to either dismiss or reject what the rest of us clearly saw. (Yes, Virginia and Kate, I’m talking about you!) After an hour in the studio, I was able to draw it out of them. Their clear and expressive eyes, the smirk on their lips. Pulling out that personality. Trying to make them see, really see themselves. I have to admit that it was really quite beautiful watching the petals slowly open as they allowed themselves to bloom right before my lens. Even more rewarding to watch the smile on their face as I revealed their images on my screen. I fell in love with that feeling.
So fast forward several months and I give you the Fabulous Mrs. M. Hesitant at first, just like the others, and very open about what she viewed to be her flaws, having given birth to twin boys. Flaws. Yes, we all have them. Women have this amazing gift to exaggerate in their mind what they view to be their biggest flaws, and ironically enough, most of the time, no one else even notices them. I believe we’re way worse about it than men. So taking into account said flaws, I decided we needed to focus on what she liked about herself. In this case, it was her gorgeous hazel eyes that change colors in the light like a chameleon. So beautiful in fact that I remember the first time I saw them glowing gold
in the window light…I gasped. (I’m really not kidding here.) I honestly think people would kill for eyes like that…so became our focal point. Throw in a gleaming smile and we claimed SEXINESS!!!
We decided to take a before picture. Straight-forward shot. No make-up. Her face was fresh and moisturized. Then we dolled her up, fixed her hair and prepared her outfits.
Queue the magic…
After she saw these images of herself she thanked me for making her look so beautiful. My response – “you are beautiful. I just made you see what the rest of us already saw.”
Thank you, M, for the trust you extended in allowing me to show off your sparkle. To be yourself.