Thursday, November 28, 2013

Maile's Maui Mini-Movie — My First Family Film

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of this family holiday, I'm publishing my very first family film!! After three weeks of waiting and 7.5 hours of work, I am so excited to publish Maile's Maui Mini-Movie!! We recorded it at Waihee Beach Park in Maui, Hawaii. We filmed for 1.5hrs and I was totally worried that I hadn't captured enough video footage and that I'd spent too much time recording little feet running in the sand and not enough smiley faces at the camera. I was all stressed about so many little things. But in the end, I'm a happy camper. I've already learned a bundle of useful lessons that I can use for my next family film! Woohoo for lessons learned the hardway! Before her shoot, Maile shared with me that her family is going through a rough time at the moment and she wanted the film and the pictures to capture the 'happy times' with her children so they can have something to remind them that everything is going to be OK. Thank you so much Maile for trusting me with this wonderful project. I'm so excited to share it with all of you. I hope you are flooded with happy memories when you look at your images and watch your film!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sales Tips Series Part 6: Your Confidence as a Sales Person

Welcome to part 6 of this beautifully exciting Sales Tips series! Check out previous tips:

"You're confident and you come across so wonderfully but every now and then there's a crack in your voice, a lack of confidence behind what you're saying. Are you doubting yourself? It's almost like I can hear you asking yourself, "Are they going to want me?"" — This was my critique during my sales lesson. Urgh...I thought I was flawless. ha!

  • Repeat positive affirmations to yourself BEFORE, DURING & AFTER your sale session. Keep that spirit encouraged & high!
  • When they clients says 'no' — pause for a moment and say 'yes' in your own head. This keeps you encouraged AND helps reduce any signs of doubt or discouragement on your poker face.
  • Simple basics — dress well, wear perfume, paint your nails, burn candles — whatever makes you feel confident, like the boss, like you own the place!
  • If you don't have confidence in you, nobody else will.
  • If you don't have confidence in your products, nobody else will.
  • Know your info, prices, delivery dates etc... off the top of your head. If you're afraid of being caught off guard you'll be uneasy and your lack of confidence will show... especially if you hesitate.
  • Be patient. The more you sell, the better you'll become. The more you see people paying your prices, the more confidence you'll have in them — because when someone says "that's too expensive", you'll know it's their problem (not yours) because so many other people were willing to pay that price.
  • More ideas? I need your help. How do you boost your self-confidence?

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Reading Marathon — Book Reviews

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I'm imagining you right now, kicked back by the toasty fire with a glass of wine, a bowl of roasted nuts, wishing you had a great book resting in your lap. I know what you're thinking...if only I knew what Chamonix has been reading recently. All my problems would be solved. 

Well, your wish is my command, my dear friend. I've been reading like a mad-woman since moving to Hawaii and I've had a few people ask me to share which books have been sitting on my bedside table lately (and playing in my headphones — audiobooks are my new best friend!) Here you go...

My reading marathon started on the plane ride over the ocean when I picked up 'Eat Pray Love'. So many people told me it was stupid but I loved it. It's about a woman who travels to Italy, India & Indonesia a journey of self-exploration. Miggy said he thought she was just self-indulgent but if you actually give her the benefit of the doubt, it's an inspiring lesson in how to find happiness. 

LOVED THIS BOOK. I've totally changed the way I spend my time — especially the in between waiting-in-line moments — and I feel like I'm enjoying my life more and making the most of each day. 

All about getting your dreams and big ideas out of your head and into reality so you can share your talents with the world and 'die empty', without regrets that you held back or didn't accomplish what you'd hoped to accomplish. I liked that this book wasn't just shallow words of encouragement - he actually gives you little tools and tricks that help you move forward, step-by-step, with your exciting plans. 

Time for some fiction! I was intrigued to see what Elizabeth Gilbert's novel writing was like. Very sexual, quite poetic and full of interesting little tidbits of knowledge that made me feel like I was learning along the way. The hardback version of this book is artwork — canvas-like pages & botanical drawing — I was practically drooling over it in Costco's book section. The story is about an old spinster woman who is an expert in mosses (like the green stuff that grows on rocks) and she falls in love with a weird uber-spiritual man and travels to Tahiti looking for a naked native boy whom her husband had drawn pictures of in his notebook. Okay, so obviously the plot is much more intricate and beautiful than that but that kinda crudely sums it up. haha

Yay, I get to check another book off of my "100 Books to Read Before I Die" list! It was SUPER long but the audiobook made it easier. I love novels about old medieval England, with knights and crusades and corrupt religion and peasants. This is a love story that spans a lifetime with travels across Europe, the building of cathedrals and the classic goodie vs badie. Good stuff.

We all know this story thanks to the BBC & Hollywood. I grew up watching it with my mom and I've always avoided reading it because I figured it would be boring since I already knew the story BUT I was delightfully surprised to find that the book was waaay funnier than the movie! The movies were always kind of dramatic but the books was a proper comedy. I loved it and I was sad when I reached the end. PS: Another "100 Books to Read Before I Die" book! Woohoo!

Zooming my way through 100 Books list, I've decided to tackle all of Jane Austen's novels. I also grew up watching the BBC's movie version of this story. I didn't like the book. It was slow for me and my imagination got so confused with trying to imagine faces and places while my memory kept bringing up scenes from the movie. Not my favorite. 

I'm currently reading... Persuasion by Jane Austen. It's going OK. Not loving it yet but I'm curious to see if it gets better for me because I think it's my mom's favorite.

Next up... Goldfinch by Donna Tartt SO EXCITED for this. I read The Secret History by the same author a couple years ago (because it was on the '100 list') and I LOVED it. Can't wait to see what else she has to offer! Her books are dark and twisted - my favorite!

What good books have you read lately?

Why I Don't Use Second Shooters at My Women's Portrait Sessions

Q: Do you ever use a second shooter when you shoot portraits of women?

When it comes to shooting a weddings, second shooters are one of the most valuable tools in your bag. But when it comes to beauty portraits, I prefer not to have a second shooter. It’s a completely different ball game. The portraits I take of women are very focused on the one-on-one relationship that I build with the woman I’m photographing. The more people busing around, the more distractions that interfere with that connection I’m building. I like to shoot in private locations, corners, tight alleyways
(and these days, quiet beaches)— anywhere that boxes us in so we feels protected in our own little world. I want it to feel like it’s just the two of us staring back at each other. I find this intimate atmosphere helps me keep control over the woman’s attention, energy level, posing, expressions in her face and the quality of connection she has with me through the camera. The further away I move from her, the more action buzzing around us, the more people talking in the background, it’s all interfering with this intimate atmosphere.

However, I love shooting having an assistant. A good assistant actually contributes to the intimate atmosphere by making it possible for you (the photographer) to focus on shooting while they deal with moving reflectors, hair dryings, clothing etc... If you have to do all that little stuff it instantly chips away at your connection with the woman you're photographing.

A behind the scenes photographer is also a valuable gem. They aren't disrupting the shoot because they're quiet in the background. The images they take can be used on your blog, website, promo videos etc... You can also include these behind the scenes images as a special surprise gift for your clients. They may pay you for the final artwork but they'll also value these little snapshots that bring back memories of their photo shoot experience. BTS is a great delighter!

If you'd like to try working with assistants & behind the scenes photographers, there are tons of people out there on Craigslist, Model Mayhem, Facebook etc... looking for experience and they're usually willing to volunteer their time.

Side note: The more I photograph families and couples I realize that a second shooter would be extremely helpful for that too, not as necessary as with weddings, but there is so much to capture during those shoots, especially when parents are trying to make their kids laugh!

Shout out to my favorite second shooter & behind the scenes photography buddy!! Miss. Cheryl Ford of Cheryl Ford Photography!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

{Grateful on Sunday} Simple Pleasures Like Books & Gelato

Happy Sunday Morning my amigos around the world!
This weekend I am takin' it easy. Editing some video footage, reading audiobooks, walking down the beach and making green juice. I've been spending so much time of the computer recently and I don't like that. It makes me feel so disconnected with the world. So this weekend I'm out to explore and be more present. I hope that you are enjoying your life, wherever you are.

Today I am grateful for gelato,

finally ticking off some Jane Austen books from my '100 Books to Read Before I Die' List!, 

receiving letters from dear friends who live thousands of miles away,

exploring book shops with Miggy and finding silly labels and one of my favorite childhood books, 

driving on the north coast of the island with Miggy and stopping for roadside tacos,  

the pictures on the wall of my local Starbucks of Seattle's Starbucks :D,

actually taking the time to prepare a fancy salad using a recipe!,

my awesome new 24 COLOR watercolor palette!

a surprise gift from a friend back home, 

sitting on the beach with Miggy & watching the sunset, 

discovering MINI ice cream tubs!, 

getting my new cordless gas-powered curling iron,  

rainy season is making the grass green at the Wailuku cemetery, 

having productive days at work where I get to cross off long to-do lists, 

quiet evenings to myself writing letters, listening to audiobooks.

What are you grateful for this week?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Headache of Choosing a Photography Genre

I thought I was over this, past it, never going to have to go through it again. This buzzing feeling in my brain that won't go away. All I can think about is website design and figuring out what I want to photograph. I've reached another crossroads and it's an absolute headache. When I started working as a photographer, I was convinced I wanted to shoot weddings. One year later I was exhausted and bored with weddings. I discovered glamour photography and went full speed ahead, photographing women and thinking I would never wish do anything else. Six months after that I rediscovered my childhood passion of filmmaking. I thought I was only going to make little films to promote my women's portraiture. Now I'm in Hawaii shooting weddings and family portraits for Karma Hill's photography studio. The weddings we do are small elopements so they're much easier than the full long day events that I experienced back on the mainland & in Scotland. Family photography is pretty fun because it's laid back, pretty straight forward and playful. I also really appreciate the value of the family photography because my own family portraits and home videos are so precious to me. 

When it comes to taking photographs, I think I'm still pretty focused on women. I'm still not all that interested in photographing weddings or families. BUT when it comes to film, cinematography, videography, the moving picture....I feel more drawn to the families and weddings. Maybe it's because when I photograph a woman, it's like I'm painting, creating a beautiful still image and when I'm making a movie, it's more about capturing the moving dynamics and relationships between between - families, couples, weddings etc... 

We've got a new look on the blog today... a new photo of me at the top taken by my wonderful husband Miggy. I've rearranged my logo slightly - my signature is on top now. Big changes! haha
So like I said, I have a headache because I'm trying to move through a big brick wall of decision. I'm trying to figure out if I want to branch out and start creating family & wedding films. Of course, I also wonder if I should consider photographing families & weddings as well because they are a fabulous marketing (thinking like a business woman here). I'm thinking about what I should do in the present moment and I'm projecting into the future. Thinking about where we'll want to live and what kind of work I'd like to do then & there. I'm wondering if I should have a photography business/website and a videography business/website OR if I should have everything combined in one place as a photography & videography business. I hate multiple 'specialities' because I think it takes away from really specializing in ONE THING and mastering that one thing. I get so frustrated when things like website design and business decisions get in the way of me actually focusing on creating artwork and improving my technical skills. I'm reading The E-Myth Revisited at the Moment, which totally deals with this kind of thing. Hopefully it will help me out. Grrr..... Darn my constantly wondering creative mind and impatient artist personality!

I think the best thing for me to do is be patient and keep creating. Try dipping my toes in all of these pools, creating wedding films, making family mini-movies, photographing women at the beach. The more I do, the easier it will be for me to figure out what I love most, what I'm best at and what I'll focus on. I just have to remind myself over and over and over again to focus on creating the artwork and stop obsessing over the layout of my blog. Over the next few months, the blog might start getting kind of muddy with a bunch of different styles and genres but if you buckle up for the ride, I'm hoping this stage of my creative journey will be somewhat interesting ;) Any advice is always appreciated! ;)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rebranding My Business - Choosing Colors

Hello my friends!

So some fun peachy news today... my Hawaii sabbatical is going splendidly. I've been resting & recuperating after a 2 year stint of workaholism, enjoying a regular paycheck from Karma Hill's photography studio, learning new photography & business techniques and getting more and more excited about running my own business again - but this time... much better! 

One of my primary concerns over the past few months has been the brand of my business and how well it represented ME and the mission behind what I do. My brand identity was sleek and pretty but I felt like it was lacking my personality and energy. 

I spent AGES on Pinterest, observing myself. Seeing what images and designs I'm attacted to. I made at least 20 lists of things (and words) that resonate with me. I've gathered feedback from friends - that's been the most useful part of the puzzle. 

For a while I was thinking about black and white stripes (those of you clever Sherlock Holmes out there who follow me on Pinterest may have picked up on this haha). Check out my Black & White Stripes inspiration board on Pinterest!

But my concern was that despite how funky this patterning was, it was also too distracting and therefore stressful for me. So I moved on. I looked back at my life and you know what I found? PINK & ORANGE. Those were the colors I always used on my AOL instant messenger and Myspace profiles. haha Those were the colors of the pages I ripped out of magazines. Two years ago, I realized this love of PINK & ORANGE and I tried to make it work on my website but I couldn't figure it out and I gave up. I felt like these colors were too playful and not professional enough or something. Well, I've realized that maybe I'm not as serious as I'd like to think. I could use a little more color in my life. ;) So, it's risen up again and this time I'm going to listen to my gut. I'm moving forward with PEACH & gold and all the pretty shades of pink->peach->orange->golds that come along with it. Ever since making that decision, my mind has been at ease and I feel so excited about my band identity and all the possibilities. Check out my "Peach" Inspiration Board on Pinterest. 

So this is what I'm working on in my free-time these days. 
Taking my company forward into it's next's peachy keen chapter! ;) I would love to see any peachy cool things you find! Send your peachy ideas my way ;) 

Lots of love, xoxo Chamonix

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ashley's Impromptu Maui Beach Shoot at Sugar Beach

I met Ashley and her mom Diane for their photo shoot at Sugar Beach in South Maui near Kihei. At the end of their mother-daughter photo shoot, Ashley asked me if we could splash around in the water and take some photos for her husband. Of course, I said YES! I am very quickly falling in love with taking pictures in the water. It feels amazing to have the water rush in around us. The sun was sinking behind the West Maui Mountains so we had a few minutes together. We came away completely drenched and weighed down by sand. I LOVE THIS! (See photo of me at the bottom of the page ...covered in sand haha). Thank you Ashley for such a fun photo shoot! I hope you had a wonderful vacation in Maui!

How I look after a beach photo shoot.... you can't keep me on my feet!
I love rollin' in the sand! ;) haha