Thursday, October 31, 2013

Senior Portraits Photography Promo Video 2013 — "A Letter to My Future Self"

This summer, I made a promo video for my photography business targeted at high school girls (and their moms). I wanted to show the significance capturing this moment in a girl's life and offer girls an alternative, more glamorous, type of senior portraits. So I invited my beautiful neighbor & summertime intern, Madi, to be my model/actress. I asked Madi to write a letter to her future self - typed on her sweet vintage type writer. On the way to post the letter (into the future), Madi enjoys the delights and simple pleasures of being young — riding her bike through the woods, stopping to have a picnic of tea and cookies, reading novels under the trees, blowing dandelions, and daydreaming about skipping through the fields in a flowing dress. During her daydream sequence, Madi has a photo shoot with me. She later includes these photos inside her letter and drops the envelop into a mail box. In her letter she writes, "Be excited for the future....I hope these pictures showcase who I am now...." 

Thank you sooo much Camera Woman #2: Cheryl Ford Photography
& Behind the Scenes support from: Rick + Anna Photography
& Madi for giving us an entire day of her summer break for this project
& Madi's mom for letting us storm into her house with photography equipment ;)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

{My Happiness Project} You Belong Right Now, In This Moment

"RIGHT NOW, In This Moment" — this has been my mantra the last two weeks. 

We've struggled over the past month and a half - settling into life in Maui, new jobs, new house, a new car, new lifestyle. It's been really difficult and many days we've felt melancholy and frustrated. We found ourselves daydreaming about a place we'd rather be and how we want our lives to be in the future. Then we slap ourselves in the face trying to remember that a month ago we were in Seattle dreaming of being in Hawaii. I'm convinced that our discontent is 50% situational and 50% attitude. Maui wasn't what we expected and then we made it worse by having a stinky tude. I've been using so much energy to focus on the positive things I'm grateful for, the things I'm enjoying. Every week I write my Grateful on Sunday helps a lot. But now I have my really helps a lot.

I find myself lying back in our sporty red convertible, driving through sunshine and wishing I were somewhere else. I hear the thought appear in my head, "I wish I were in California."
"Why," I ask myself.
"So we could drive through along the coast in the sunshine with the breeze blowing through our hair." 
"You're doing that right now," I say to myself. "Focus RIGHT HERE, In This Moment. You have what you want."

I was sitting outside in the garden reading a book and I heard myself think,
"I wish I were in Portugal."
"So I could sit out in the garden and read a book in the sunshine."
"You're doing that right now," I say to myself. "Focus RIGHT HERE, In This Moment. You have what you want."

I was having breakfast with Miggy but I was so sad because I had to go to work and leave him. I thought, "I wish I were self-employed again."
I asked myself, "Why do you wan to be self-employed again?"
"So I can spend time with Miggy."
"You're doing that right now. Focus RIGHT HERE, In This Moment. You have what you want."

It's like the grass is always greener in the future or in a different location. Reading a book in a Portuguese garden next year sounds way more appealing than reading a book in a Hawaiian garden right now. In the future, life is idyllic - it has a glowy perfection around it. But when the future arrives, it's just life, normal life. 

This little mantra is reminding me each day that RIGHT NOW, In This Moment, is where I belong and knowing that I'm right where I belong seems to make everything seem so much better.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sales Tips Series Part 4: Inflating Your Prices to Make Room for Volume Discounts

Welcome to part 4 of this fabulously exciting Sales Tips series! Check out previous tips:
Alright! You've sold them something. Now sell them more!!!! (I'm just starting to incorporate this concept/technique into my business. Exciting!)

  • Increase your prices so you can offer volume discounts for larger (bulk) purchases. 
  • Just to clarify, we are not discounting the value of our artwork. I'm not saying you should sell a $100 print for $75 so someone will buy it. I'm saying put a $125 price tag on the print so if they buy a second print you can offer the second for $100 and reward them for being a very supportive wonderful loyal customer. 
  • Raising prices but offering volume discounts encourages sales but still ensures you make the money you need — we can't just cut prices in half and pay the bills.
  • This technique is especially effective on small items like the fabulous accordion books. The accordion books are a great way for people to get lots of images for quite a great price (especially if they buy in greater volume — think price per image, people — it's going down down down!)
  • You can sell more products more easily and make more money because they're getting more images for their money and thus they're more willing to spend more money. (now more sounds like a funny word lol).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Glamour Photography for the Non-Glamorous Woman

I feel like I'm a non-glamorous woman who loves the idea of glamour. I love the pretty pages that I rip out of fashion magazines. I love the clean website designs of certain high-end photographers. I envy those women who ooze sexiness. It seems like they roll out of bed wearing leather pants, four inch heels, over-the-knee boots, golden bangles, and cat-inspired eye liner....oh and I did I mention their hair is perfect...and they smell good? How do they do it? I know I can dress myself like that if I really want to, but it certainly doesn't seem to come naturally to me. Most days it's a fight to get me into the shower. 

We're all different, I get it. But I wouldn't even be talking about this if I knew for sure that I was different. If I woke up in the morning as a happy hippie in my baggie sweatshirt and yoga pants and knew without a doubt that that was me and that's how I wanted to dress without a doubt...that would be cool. But instead I seem to wake up and feel like wearing yoga pants or jean shorts and a tank top and not showering BUT also feeling like I could do better. Feeling like I should make a bigger effort. 

It's like there's a little voice on one shoulder saying, 
"Stop shopping in the 'cute' department and start dressing like the sexy woman you really are," 

and on the other shoulder there's a voice saying, 
"But all that fashion is so superficial. At the end of the day what really matters is being natural, practicing yoga, gardening. Don't try so hard to be something you're not. You don't even like those girls that dress all fancy like that. Look at all of your best friends - they're wearing hiking boots. When was the last time you really 'clicked' with a 'glamourous girl'?" 

and then the other voice replies with, 
"But it's so pretty. And what's so bad about wearing a pretty top? You feel better about yourself when you dress up. Miggy finds you more attractive when you dress up. You can dress up without selling your soul to materialism. Plus you have to think about your brand. You are running a glamorous luxury photography business. You've got to look the part."

and then the other voice says,
"You don't have to dress like the other fashion & beauty photographers. Instead of fitting yourself into the mold of the fancy business you've created, why don't you change your business to represent who you 'really' are? Surely, there are other 'non-glamorous' women out there that will like you better when you're being yourself. What if your current 'image' is pushing away people that you would really get on well with? What if you're in the limbo between the glamorous & non glamorous worlds — neither side will fully accept you. I bet most "non-glamorous" women don't want their portraits taken by glamorous photographers because they can't relate to them. I bet if you stepped up as the 'non-glamorous photographer' you would attract all those women who want YOU to take their portraits because they'd feel comfortable with you. They'd like you and you'd like them because you're from the same tribe. Sounds a lot like what your friends Sophie & Amanda told you a few months ago, eh? Well, they're right!

and then the other voice says,
"But....but...I want to be a sexy glamorous photographer....."

and the other voice says

and the other voice says back,
"'s cool. I want to be like the cool photographers in the industry. The ones everyone else wants to be like. The ones that are really successful and fabulous. If I do something different, I don't know if people will like it."

and the other voice replies,
"Oh, the world is still like high school isn't it?"

After writing this blog post I found two pictures of myself. The first was a snapshot I took this morning. I was wearing flip flops, jeans shorts, an off-the-shoulder t-shirt (I feel so good in off-the-shoulder tops) and my long dry split-ended hair was just brushed out. I took this picture with my iPhone because I was feeling really beautiful. The second picture of me was taken by my dear friend Cheryl Ford at the beginning of 2013. We were taking 'About Me' pictures for our websites. I wanted a glam portrait that fit with my brand and showed clients that I valued & participated in the glamorous experience & portraits that I was selling. I did feel beautiful when Cheryl took my portrait but I remember it felt like a beauty that was painted on from the outside. I put the two images side by side this afternoon to make the first ever "Before & After" of myself. It's weird because I'm captivated by the gorgeous 'after' picture but it is a colder beauty and I'm drawn to the before picture because it makes me feel happy. What do you think?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

{Grateful on Sunday} Miggy's New Job at Amasia

Happy Sunday Morning, Y'all! 
This week Miggy started working at the Grand Wailea. He's working at a waiter in the Japanese restaurant called 'Amasia.' It sounds like a cool place. Apparently, they disassembled a restaurant in Japan, transported it across the ocean, and reassembled it here in Hawaii. The entire restaurant is build without nails! They had to bring Japanese builders over too because they were the only ones who knew how to build in this nail-less technique. Miggy also has to wear slip-on black shoes because there are parts of the restaurant that are shoe-less. I'm really excited to visit the hotel one day and check it out for myself. He said he's meeting some nice people too so maybe we'll make some new friends :) I do miss him already though. I'm working during the day and he works from 3pm-11pm. Last night was my first evening home without him. I didn't know what to do with myself. So I went for a walk, sat on the porch and watched the newest episode of Grey's Anatomy and ate half a loaf of French bread dipped in tomato bisque soup — what is it about tomato bisque soup that leaves this bizarre feeling in my stomach - anybody else get that?

Today I am grateful for a beautiful patio to sit on,

pretty magazine pages,

a lunch date with Miggy,

the fact that "horseshoe playing" is so prolific it's outlawed on signs (haha),

all the pretty flowers that fall on the sidewalks,

finding a GIANT snail with a shell I've never before seen on a snail's back,

seeing this sign for the first time and wondering (for a split second) why does the whale have bunny ears?,

a tree in Wailuku (near by office) that has a bunch of other plants growing on it,

letting my hair fly crazy in our convertible,

still grateful for the palm trees - they never seem to get old,

taking the time to write letters to my friends,

the Maui Tropical Plantation,

that we're allowed to go into stores barefoot,

that my friend James MW sent me this and I'm STILL laughing out loud when I think about it,

Karma teaching me how to shoot in bright Hawaiian sunshine, 

buying chocolate late at night to celebrate Miggy's courage,

Skyping with our best friend James K.,

eucalyptus that grows on the edge of the sidewalk in the neighborhood,

my early morning walks,

treating myself to a Starbucks smoothie (that includes Starbucks air conditioning & Wifi),

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, October 25, 2013

How My Photography Brand Has Evolved Over the Past Two Years

Tonight, I'm sitting out on the back porch eating salad and writing some Q&A blog posts. One reader asked about rebranding their business and it got me thinking about how my own photography business & brand identity has evolved over the past 2 years. I searched back through my old website designs, logos and business cards. So far, my business has had three distinct brand identities:

Brand Identity 1) 
Loveducks Photography  - back in the day when I incorporated company colors and little ducks, haha. I still can't believe there was a time when I thought this was amazing branding. I included all the colors of the rainbow because 1) I love them all and 2) I'm a bright happy person and I thought using lots of colors would show this to clients. I had 10 portfolio images to work with and I designed a fancy postcard. I ordered 5,000 postcards. It was a sad day when I dumped the whole stack of them in the recycling bin. I only ever handed out like 100 of them (if that). This brand identity stuck around for about 6 months.

Brand Identity 2) I made the leap and renamed my business to my own name :) I was still afraid of using my full long name so I put an emphasis on my first name. I tried to keep things compact by squeezing everything into a box. haha I thought that using all the rainbow colors was too chaotic so I forced myself (painfully) to narrow it down. I rocked the chalkboard black & embraced the color turquoise that was the perfect medium between happy energetic yellow and calm trustworthy blue (yes, I researched color psychology....for hours). I ordered 5,000 postcards, stickers and business cards to get the show on the road. 4,950 of these are still buried in my in-law's house. haha This brand identity stuck around for about 6 months.

Brand Identity 3) I finally woman-ed up and used my full name, all parts equal. I kept everything simple with a clean classic fonts (Century Gothic & Garamond), somehow found the guts to commit to labeling myself as a 'Women's Portrait Photographer', and like any true artist I signed my name by hand! This is my current logo and I love it because it's delicate and feminine but as a whole unit it's quite packed full of substance. It's a logo that I think looks more like a painter's stamp rather than a photographer's, and I like that. In one glance, people can easily read my name, know what I do, and identify me as an artist. My current brand identity is more clean and simple with less emphasis on a "brand" and more emphasis on showing off my pictures. I'm such a lover of ALL the colors, I struggled to pick I used none. The only color that would appear on my website would be the color in my images. This brand identity has been around for almost 1.5 years and I'm still loving it. I've fined tuned it here and there but the simplicity of it has made it kinda timeless.

Before moving to Hawaii, I started questioning whether or not my brand was accurately representing who I am. Sure it's pretty and simple but is it trying too hard, looking more glamorous than I actually am, lacking personality all together? 

My goal was to have a brand identity that was so simple, all the attention would be on the images but I think this nice idea was slowly corrupted as I tried to emulate other photographers' styles, maybe trying to be something I'm not? 

I'm still unsure about all of this so I'm on a 2 year sabbatical in Hawaii working it out, sorting out the messy thoughts in my over-worked head. I'm doing a little soul searching, challenging my photography technique & style, and putting on blinders to what everyone else is doing. I'm hoping that this time in Hawaii will be a period of growth and I'll emerge with a clearer idea of who I am, what I have to offer and how I can best package it up and present it to the world. Stay tuned ;)

How has your brand evolved? 
What have you learned along the way?
How far have you come?
Any advice for me?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Amariz's Maui Beach Portraits at Southside Beach

Before our Maui beach photo shoot, Amariz told me she didn't like bugs, so naturally I had her sit right on a Kiawe tree that was covered in pesky little ants. She wiggled around (with ants in her pants...literally) as we applied makeup, unrolled her pinned curls and enjoyed some Maui-newbie chitchat — both of us have only been on Maui for about a month (Amariz & her boyfriend came to Hawaii from Arizona for the same reason Miggy and I moved over... because we're young and... why not!? In fact, they both work at the Grand Wailea where Miggy has just got a job!) Once we were ready to rumble, I started our Maui beach photo shoot in the trees with some pretty outfits and jewelry (check out those photos here). But for me, the magic was waiting down at the shore. I have fallen head over heels in love with the ocean beauty portraits — lying down in bikinis, waves splashing around us, long hair getting swept away in the current, bright sun beaten down on us and sand sticking everywhere. We have just seconds to pose and capture the expression in her face before another wave comes and knocks her over or forces me to jump up or hold my camera above my head. So much laughter, adrenaline and inspiration from nature. I LOVE that I'm shooting in a totally new environment. If you're an artist, my newest piece of advice is definitely, try something new! It's so incredibly refreshing! Thank you so much Amariz for modeling for me. It was lovely to meet you and I hope these portraits will always remind you of your first happy months in Maui!

Check out this glorious behind-the-scenes beach action. You can't tell me this doesn't look like fun, right? I LOVE IT! These candid shots are waaay more fun than the ones I ever got while working indoors in a studio. Thank you unpredictable ocean for spicing things up!

Before shooting in the waves, I photographed Amariz in the Kiawe trees that grow along the beach. I published those images last week. See more photos from her shoot here.