Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Culling Images :: How to Identify THE BEST Images from Your Shoot

This one...or this one? Struggling to decide which photo to use / show / submit / publish / print?

When you're culling (choosing) images from the bunch, it's usually pretty easy to get it down to the final "top picks." But when you've got to narrow it down more...that's when things get sticky, especially if you have two pictures that are pretty similar but each has it's own special little somethin' somethin'. Sometimes the differences are so subtle, only you can see the difference and no matter how many time you ask your husband...he's just not going to be able to help you decide. 

Running these tests always helps me out....
Test A) Imagine it was your face/body. Would you be happy with how it looked? What would you want changed/wished looked different? What little flaws would catch your eye? Be SUPER critical. Even the tiniest flaw, that you don't even notice at first will be huge to your client.

Test B) Imagine your photo in a fashion magazine. Use photoshop to write your favourite clothing designer's name on the image. Does it look out of place in that situation or does it look awesome? I love this trick and it has the power to instantly make tough decisions for me. 

Test C) Close your computer and walk away... the longer you're away the better. Which images stick in your mind. The images you remember are the ones that are impactful and....memorable! Sometimes when I'm driving, walking around or at the gym I'll close my eyes (highly dangerous timing lol — I don't actually close my eyes... it's just a good expression to paint you a picture) and try and remember as many pictures as possible from a shoot. Even after hours of editing, I'll usually only be able to visualize 3 or 4 pictures. 

Test D) Imagine... You have to present this image at a gallery with your name signed underneath it and the world's best photographers, top art critics, and BIG potential clients are there. Which images are you proud to show & defend? Which images would you dive in front of, rip of the wall and toss out onto the street to be run over by a NYC taxi...before it was seen by those high-powered eyes? And which image would be kinda embarrassing because it's kinda mediocre and this gallery event is supposed to be the best of the best...and hence your work looks out of place? Anyway, long fancy story but you get my point. Pick the photos that are worthy of representing you and your brand to the world.

What are YOUR tricks for identifying your best images? I'd love to hear them! 
Leave your comment below!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Introducing My Pinterest Button

Before you fall asleep at night, do you curl up with your iPhone Pinterest App? Pin it. Pin it. Pin it. It's truly wonderful & addictive. I was hesitant at first to get involved with the whole Pinterest scenes but I was forced into it when I was working at creativeLIVE. It really didn't take long for me to love it! Now it turns out it's becoming quite the rage for marketing businesses.'s time to welcome the Pinterest button to my BLOG! If you've enjoyed a blog post or you love a picture, just hover your mouse over the image and the little red Pinterest button will appear! Click it and Pin It! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Freshen Up Your Camera Bag & Freshen UP Your Business! :: Out With the Old, In with the FABULOUS!!

I'm starting a revolution!! 

If it makes you say "meh..." .... say "GOODBYE!" 
Replace the "meh" object with something that makes you scream "heck to the yes!!!"

No more complaining about the underwhelming mediocracy of the 24-70mm camera lens. 
Say "goodbye boring 24-70mm lens" (it's on eBay!) & say "hello 35mm 1.4 lens that is going to work wonders!"

I've been drooling over a 35mm lens for months but didn't have even cash to slam on the counter. After recording an episode on thePhotoChicks (about equipment) I was struck ka-pow! with courage to peel my tight fingers away from the lens that I was emotionally attached to (like the clothes in my closet that I never wear but just can't seem to let go because they remind me of a special memory or I'm hoping to wear them again one day). I wrote my emotions on paper and told myself it was the right business decision. Think like a cold minded business woman, Chamonix! Stomp out those emotions and focus on productivity, money and growth! Sell it! That lens was rotting in the bottom of my camera bag. Now my camera bag has a sparkling new gem of a photography glass that's going to be used until it falls apart!

This week my big selling action has inspired two of my friends to sell their 24-70mm lenses too! They're using the money to buy fun new equipment that they WILL USE! You ladies rock!!

Refuse stagnation and celebrate revolution! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why Don't Clients Choose MY Favourite Photos?

I know multiple photographers who have this "little problem". 99% of the time their favourite photos are not their client's favourites. Why is that?! Kinda frustrating, huh?

Photographers often love "technically" gorgeous images. Beautiful composition, spot-on white balance etc... Sometimes we photographers think an expression looks cute, coy, sultry, intriguing. But then we find out that the client hates that expression on their face. Oh! Well... that's awkward.
The clients are often looking for something special we don't know about or they're distracted by things we haven't even noticed. Do they like how they look? That's all that matters, right?

But sometimes we think we've ticked all the boxes and they still don't pick our favourite photos!! Now, I'm a lucky duck because 99% of the time, my favourites are also my clients' favourites. Here's what I do to make sure this happens...
A) Double check...are you creating and advertising with photos you LOVE? Or are you trying to replicate another photographers style? I create (& advertise with) images that I LOVE! People hire me to recreate my style for them. They want that image they saw on my website but they want it to have THEIR face in it. All I have to do is keep creating photos I LOVE. If I love it then it's my style and it's what they've hired me for, so they'll love it too! I don't show them photos that I don't love just for the sake of variety, "in case" they'll like it. If I don't love it, I won't let it go out into the universe. 

B) Stop focusing on creating a beautiful image and start focusing on capturing a beautiful portrait of that person. The whole purpose of this photo is to show this individual's beauty, personality, expressions, essence etc... Don't get distracted by backgrounds, clothes, poses etc... Focus on really enticing each person into the camera & you'll nail it!

C) Talk and share! Explain to your clients why you love a photo and usually they'll come round and love it too (once they've seen it from your perspective). Never force it though! You're offering them a new perspective, NOT shoving your opinion down their throat and insisting they like it. Share your knowledge about what makes it a beautiful photo & comment on the beauty you see in their expression. Sometimes they're blinded by their self-criticism and expectations.

D) Show a variety of images during your viewing session and asking your clients for feedback on which images they do/don't like and WHY. This is super eye-opening & will help you improve with each job. Oh, and take lots of notes while they're talking so you can refer back.

What's your experience with this? Do your clients usually pick your favourites? Any tips for others who struggle with this? Leave your comments & advice below!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Birthday Hike & My St. Patrick's Day Fat Suit!

Yesterday, I went on an adventure! 

I unwrapped my giant tutu, puffed up my hair and grabbed a box of Graham Crackers. As I raced off to my destination I pulled into a gas station and had my picture taken with strangers.  I met up with my accomplices at the North Bend Outlet Mall (where we received funny looks). Getting very lost on windy roads. Drive-bys at the abandoned factory and finally a gorgeous mini hike into the snowy green mountains. 

We may not have had our fancy picnic at the top of the mountain, as planned, but we did have a tail-gate picnic in the parking lot and I did stuff my tutu into a pair of St. Patricks Day shorts that created a rather fabulous fat-suit which turned a few heads as we headed up the trail. Of course, no birthday celebrations would be complete without a LIVE BIRTH! We partied in a restaurant (analysing the waitresses' yoga pants uniforms) & drinking beer & cocktails while Larry zoomed off to the hospital to become an uncle! 

Happy 24th birthday, Amanda! I love your guts! :D Plus, thanks super much for giving me an excuse to wear a tutu / fat-suit out in the wilderness!

Oh and we even had top secret code names...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Are You Feeling Jealous of Other Photographers?

I don't want to hear that someone is better than me. I don't want to see you react with awe when I show you someone else's work. I'm tired of hearing the same comments about how I could improve. "You need more variety. More variety. More variety." Sure, you love my photos but you love so-and-so's even more! Ggrrrrr. It really makes my blood boil. 

And then I have to remind myself to take a big bite of humble cupcake. My ego needs a whipping. I just want attention and praise. Who doesn't?

Compliments tend to fill up my head with hot air that slows me down. Criticism & critique, even though it often tastes like sour grapes, propels me forward like a powerful jet engine shooting me off towards my fabulous dreams!

Have you ever felt this way?
Well here's what I have to say to myself (you can listen in)....

Stop seeking flattery. Focus on the artwork in your hands. The passion you have to create! Your enthusiasm to improve. The goals you'd like to achieve...and why. Learn from the ostrich...stick your head in the sand and work hard! Let that work, that process, be your destination and all you need to be content.  

Rather than boiling over with jealousy when you hear others being complimented 
& when you see others receiving awards, listen carefully to the compliments they're being showered with and treat each word spoken like precious gold, rich with lessons, that is the currency you'll need to travel to the land of greatness.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Would You Speak to Your Friends the Way You Speak to Yourself?

Your thighs are so fat. It's disgusting.
Look at your flabby arms. They look horrible.
No matter how hard you try, you're never going to loose that weight. You go to the gym and go on diets but you always give up. You don't have any dedication. You're a failure.
What guy would find you attractive when you look like this?
If your nose wasn't so big, you'd actually be really pretty.
If only you had a flat tummy then you could wear a bikini with confidence on the beach but until then, don't even think about it because nobody wants to see your body.
Your hair is so frizzy and thin. You'd look so much better if it was long and thick.

Would you say these things to your best friend?
Then why on earth would you say them to yourself?

Start treating yourself with love, encouragement & support the way you treat the other people in your life that you care for. Be kind to yourself and the reflection you see in the mirror will start to change into something more beautiful than you've ever seen before.  

Seriously, next time you're standing in front of the mirror, catch yourself focusing on the negatives and replace each negative comment with a positive. Either figure out a positive way of viewing that negative "thing" or focus your attention somewhere completely different. 

Think of the people who love you most. How do they speak to you?
Is grandma always telling you that you're perfect just the way you are?
Is your mom always telling you how gorgeous your eyes are?
Maybe your best friends are all jealous of your butt?

Do you listen to them? Do you believe them? 
When they compliment you, do you say "If only that were true." or do you say "Thank you."?
Do you think they are lying to you to make you feel good? 
Have you ever considered the possibility that 
what they see when they look at you really is how you look? 

They aren't seeing the little details that you get stressed about. 
They can see the big picture and the big picture is beautiful, so beautiful in fact that it makes those little details insignificant to them. Just for one day, try seeing yourself through their eyes. Enjoy seeing the beautifulness in yourself. 

Start thinking of yourself as a loved one.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Your Car is an Analogy for Your Life

When do you fill up your gas tank? I let mine run right down to the urgent bottom line and then cross my fingers and hope to find a gas station. Completely responsible...not! Why do I do this? Then, the lightbulb went on this morning at Starbucks. My brand new friend Shane said... "Your car is a metaphor for your life." Well in that case... my life is cute, messy, dirty, kinda roughed up, getting old, cluttered because I store every possible thing I could need and don't feel like carrying anything into the house, falling apart (eh brother used it while I was away at university and boys like him have a way of breaking everything), lacking flowers (my bug used to have a flower vase...until my brother ripped it out) and running on fumes. ha! Sounds about right lol
Seriously though... what an amazingly helpful way to assess my life:

CUTE — duh, I'm cute too. ;P

MESSY — I am lacking routine. editing photos one minute, going to the gym the next, then off to the cinema, then dealing with finances. A routine would tidy things up.

DIRTY — Most days I avoid showering, manicuring my nails (sometimes I even forget to brush my teeth) because I'm feeling so rushed for time.

KINDA ROUGHED UP — hmmm... not sure how that one applies unless you look at malnutrition or something

GETTING OLD — A vein in my leg burst a valve last week because I was sitting too much and not getting enough nutrients. My knees are cracking & I'm starting to find suggestions of wear my wrinkles are going to appear. A nerve in my right leg is also going hay-wire!

CLUTTERED — To save 30 seconds here and there I just chuck clothes into my closet, car, desk / desktop etc... So much of it could be removed or organized!

TOO LAZY TO CARRY ANYTHING INTO THE HOUSE — Again...saving precious seconds by not stopping at the gas station / shower / store / post office or cleaning clothes (like once a month or something is my average these days) until it's absolutely necessary.

FALLING APART — Well this just sounds dramatic. 

LACKING FLOWERS — Sitting in front of my computer all day. I LOVE nature, why am I not outside enjoying it?! Oh, and I am so happy when I am surrounded by plants. I only have one (just one!!) plant in my glamour studio. His name is Ribbit. Someone needs to drag me down to Molbaks Nursury. 

RUNNING ON FUMES — I work all day long until every ounce of energy in my body is drained and forces me to go to bed. I struggle to stop myself while I've still got a gallon of go-juice in my belly that can be put towards having fun, reading novels, going to the gym, seeing friends. I guess I crash and sputter to a stand still stop. (Thankfully...that's only ever happened to me once in my car.....oh a first date :S Cringe. lol) Needless to say...this is a dangerous way to drive around life. 

As you know, I've been working on my work-life balance and things are getting WAY better. Tomorrow is Sunday. I'm going to take the day off & perhaps I'll clean my car.

What does your car look like?

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Happy Little Life & New Before & Afters

I'm at grandma's eating pickles. I bought the comfiest blanket EVER at Costco this week and it's helping me sleep like a baby! The highlight of my week has been driving around in my bug with the sunroof open — blue sky above and even a flock of geese that flew low right above my car for about 1 minute! It was beautiful (and highly dangerous since all I wanted to do was stare up!!) I started reading a book last night called "Happier at Home" by Gretchen Rubin 

I'm on page 10 and loving it. If feel happy just reading it! At the gym this morning I saw on the news that Justin Beiber fainted in London during a performance and I just found out that he has tattoos — the whole thing makes me kinda sad cuz I remember watching him on YouTube back in the innocent days before he was "the Beibster". My dad's coming home from a business trip today and I'm so excited to see him. I'll edit photos all morning, Skype with Miggy, edit thePhotoChicks podcast audio, then practice guitar and get groovy with some yoga. That's my life right now. And for more recent news regarding glamour photography... you may have seen some of these before & afters already on the website but I thought I'd give them some special attention today.... Enjoy ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This Crazy Little Universe — Write Down Your Goals & They'll Come True!

"If you build it, they will come."
You know that one. What about this one...
"If you share it, it will happen." or maybe "If you release it, it was come back to you (but fo real!)."

You see, when you put a wish or desire out there into the universe; write it down, share it with a friend over a cup of tea, or declare it online in your brand new awesome Podcast ( ha! the universe has this funny little way of taking your words and making them a reality. It doesn't always happen but I'm continually amazed by how often it does. Universe? God? Godde? Gods? Self? Subconcious? Let's not go into the logisitics. The point is...share and you shall receive!

Over the last couple months I've been thinking to myself that I would really like to start teaching yoga again. Over the last couple weeks I've been whispering to myself that I would like to teach yoga at the studio where I take classes (shout out: Balance Yoga Studio in Woodinville, WA). 

On top of that, this week I was seriously entertaining the idea of getting a mini side job that would bring in some extra play money for the weeks when I'm not seeing photography clients. I wasn't interested in a job that would take up lots of time and energy and as that's virtually every job out there, I gave up. Even just 1 day a week would be too much time away from my photography / free time. I don't NEED to get that extra job so I just left the idea alone. 

That brings us to today....this morning, I went to the gym. The plan was to leave the gym at 9:15 so I could make it to yoga by 9:45. Of course, I wriggled around on the floor (stretching) for 10 minutes too long which caused me to miss the yoga class (totally intentional — serious excuse making and avoidance issues going on in my head). I sat in my car and gave myself a little pep talk — "Chamonix, you seriously need to find a new strategy. Whatever you're doing right now, isn't working. You really do want to go to yoga classes so find a new way to motivate yourself to go."

I wasn't home for more than 30 minutes before my phone buzzed and Amanda asked me to join her for yoga at noon. Ugh. I guess it was a sign. So I went to yoga and had a wonderful experience (it never fails me). After class, the teacher came up to me and asked me if I have ever considered teaching yoga and if I would consider teaching at this studio. Manifestation!!! Boom! I'm seeing new motivation to practice more yoga AND a mini job that's not only not taking away from my life but actually contributing to it and improving the quality of my life!

No such thing as coincidences? Whose to say but this isn't the first time I've felt like the universe was giving me a great big hug.

Here's your lesson for the day.
Stop telling yourelf it's stupid, embarrassing, pointless or a waste of time. Grab a piece of paper and write down your dreams and goals....every day, week or month. The biggest dream, even if written on the tiniest piece of paper, can come true!

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Newsletter — Regaining a Work-Life Balance & Behind the Scenes Retouching Video

Another AMAZING day with Miss. Cheryl Ford recording podcasts, tackling photo challenges, and dreaming big dreams for our businesses. For our lunch break we walked around Lynnwood with our portable lunches from WholeFoods — can you believe that Cheryl had NEVER walked AND eaten at the same time!? Shocker...I know! Well, that problem has been fixed, anyway lol

So while we were busy recording all sorts of goofiness — uncontrollable laughter, spilling tea all over my lap, repeated ourselves over and over (eh hem..Cheryl) ;) and hoping to inspire the masses, none of my other work was getting done (like publishing my Monday blog post on time, lol) There was a time when I imagined what it would be like to get so many emails I couldn't reply to them all; or what it would be like to have to turn down work because I was fully booked; or what it would be like to have never ending piles of photo to edit. Well...the time has arrived and it's awesome to see the growth but geez....they were right when they said it wasn't isn't. Why did it look so easy? 

Last month I got swallowed alive by an out-of-control workload. This month I'M TAKING BACK CONTROL OF MY LIFE! It's tough trying to work out a system that's going to be a success and keep me balanced, productive & happy BUT it's SO WORTH IT because...

"Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make!"

My March newsletter went out yesterday (first Sunday of the month) and in it I'm sharing my genius strategy for regaining a work-life balance. Plus, by signing up for my happy little emails you'll also gain access to my behind-the-scenes retouching videos which will give you a little look into how I edit my photos these days! Apparently, Cheryl LOVED this newsletter so take her work for it and check it out ;) — Poor beautiful co-sidekick (yes, we're each other's sidekicks...oh wait, maybe that's called a wingman? whatevs...I'll rock my own terminology, thank you very much. is getting picked on lots tonight lol Anyway, enjoy the newsletter & all the magical enhancements it will no doubt make to your life... ;)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

thePhotoChicks PODCAST :: Episodes 1-5 LAUNCHED!

Today's the day, my friends! The first 5 episodes of thePhotoChicks podcast have just the interweb this morning! It seems like only yesterday I was lying in bed, struck with this craaazy idea to start a Podcast. AMAZING how when you TAKE ACTION....THINGS HAPPEN! Manifestation, baby! I'd say the first couple episodes are kinda hilariously awkward since Cheryl & I threw ourselves in front of a microphone for the first time. BUT never fear... we're working on projecting our natural charm & charisma across the airwaves ;) So & enjoy a little happy chit chat while you commute to the city, bake brownies, burn off the brownies or fingerprint a masterpiece!

In the Pilot Episode of thePhotoChicks, Chamonix Thurston-Rattue and Cheryl Ford introduce themselves and share who they are and why they started thePhotoChicks podcast. Read more on thePhotoChicks Website....

In Episode 2 you'll learn how we got inspired to be photographers and start a photography business, the areas we have struggled with the most in getting our businesses going, how much of our lives have been wasted obsessing about logos, fonts, and colors & why is no longer available. Read more...

Part II of Struggles of Starting a Photography Business continues with thePhotoChicks sharing the biggest frustrations and struggles they had in the early stages of their business. Work/Life Balance? Check. Finding Clients? Check. Money? Check. Plus much, much more. Come along as we lay it all out on the line. Read more...

Chamonix & Cheryl detail their top 10 dreams which include an epic photo shoot in Venice & curating a "museum" of photography albums. Also... find out what happens when we meet for coffee, what colour convertible Cheryl drives in her photography fantasies & why YOU should be sharing your dreams & goals with the world! Read more...

Get ready for some lessons learned the hardway: How to analyze purchases to maximize the benefits of your spending; Why you shouldn’t order 5,000 business cards when you are first starting your business; How to talk yourself out of buying things you don’t need; Why in-person sales are so important to a photography business; and just a tiny bit of Latin. Read more....

Check out thePhotoChicks on Facebook, Twitter, & our new Website!
Thanks for listening!

PS: All this week Cheryl & I have been throwing together websites & social media pages, editing audio, Skyping to decide on blog themes, logo fonts, & meandering our way through fancy things like html codes and figuring out what "syndication" means. THANK YOU CHERYL for being such an awesome team-mate. I love working with you and I'm so excited about our fun projects! Cheers to the greatness that is to come!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Who Are the People Worth Hanging on Your Wall?

Would you hang a framed portrait above your fireplace of you and your personal trainer? Or maybe you & the nice check out lady at the grocery store? Probably not...obviously. What about you and your best friend? You go shopping every Monday, yoga every Tuesday, Starbucks on Wednesday, book club Friday night. Millions of smiley, goofy-faced snapshots of the two of you are pinned over your desk, stored on your iPhone, and littered around Facebook. But even this tight-at-the-hip buddy of yours hasn't earned a framed spot on your staircase wall.

I've been profoundly struck this month by the significance of being (professionally) photographed with another person and what it says about your relationship. Going to the portrait studio with those most special people, whoever they are, is a way of standing up, hand in hand, and declaring that your friendship and love for one another is so deep, unique & worthy of commemorating through a gorgeous intentional portrait that can hung on the walls of your home and passed on for generations as a monument to your beautiful relationship. It can be a reminder to others of the wonder of love between humans - that sparkly connection that we share we only a select few people during our lives. This photograph of you and the ones you love the most becomes a treasured possession; you would run into a burning building to save it because of all it has captured and contains; and sometimes because it is the only thing you have left of them. 

Miggy and I have been apart now for almost 5 months and it occurred to me in month #1 that if he died tragically before getting his green card and I never saw him again, I don't have any portraits of him or of us together that really really capture him or our love. We have snapshots, funny profile pictures, and home-made wedding photos, but not one photo that was taken simply to celebrate him/us. All of these photos were taken at other events where the focus was elsewhere and the picture was a biproduct. As soon as he arrives in Seattle, it would mean so much to me to be photographed with him with the sole purpose of creating an image that I can cherish forever - an image that would comfort me should I ever be without him.

Who are the people that you want to be photographed with? Who are the people that, God forbid  should anything happen to them, you would forever wish you'd taken the time to set aside one day for a visit to the portrait studio with them? Find them now and be photographed with them while you still have the chance.