Monday, December 1, 2014

Work Life Balance for Photographers :: Give yourself a weekend every week ... What a concept!

Have you ever stayed up ALL NIGHT long rebranding your website?
Ever said "I'll be right there, honey!" And then two hours later you finally finish editing that shoot and you're way too late for dinner?
Or how about looking down at your calendar and realizing that you haven't taken a day off all month and you literally just worked a 28 straight day shift?

Welcome to the world of the self-employed small business owning photographer!
You are not alone! But you are about to burn out!

About a year ago I started taking the whole work-life balance thing really seriously. About 8 months ago I started doing something REALLY crazy....taking a weekend....every week! What? Yes. Two days, back-to-back, every single week. What a rebel!

Photographers are always impressed when I tell them about my weekend. They look at me like I just said I travel to the moon and back every week. I get it. Taking two full days off from your beautiful little business is tough! It's like mommies that miss their kids after they've only been apart for an hour. Your business is your baby. This is normal. But the thing to remember since that mama needs some 'me time'!

Here's the trick...
Schedule your weekends ahead of time. Why ahead of time. Book your weekends on the calendar at least two months in advance. Everything else gets scheduled around these weekends. Your weekends can shift foreword or back a day or two - we have to be flexible BUT never remove your weekend completely.

It's important to take two days off back to back. On day one you will probably think about work ALL FREAKIN DAY. Resist. My best advice is to get as far away from your house and office as possible. Go hiking or boating or skydiving! Force your mind to forget about it. #distraction If you hold out and make it to day two, something magical happens. You actually enjoy relaxing and you dont want to go back to work the next day. This is a good sign. It means you're getting the rest you need. Step three...force yourself to go back to work the next morning and discover the next layer of magic jelly're full of energy and excited about all the work you can get done with your clear mind and belly full of fire!!

Taking weekends has changed my entrepreneur work life. Seriously. I have so much more energy for life and enthusiasm for my work. I'm WAY more efficient and I'm actually doing OTHER things in my life now that have nothing to do with photography in the most wonderful way. Lol

Go live your LIFE!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

{Grateful on Sunday} Thanksgiving, Bday Treats and Gold Sunshine

i woke up on this beautiful 26th birthday of mine to my husband creeping into our bedroom carrying a starbucks red cup filled with gingerbread latte! i seriously LOVE it when he wakes up before me (and brings me treats in bed) haha. so that was a great start to a thankful weekend. every 7 years my birthday falls on thanksgiving which means i get to eat pumpkin pie AND carrot cake (my fav). im a lucky girl. its not sunday but i shall celebrate my gratitude early in honor of this wonderful double holiday. today i am grateful for....

colorful leaves
late night dates w/ miggy getting starbucks and walking in the valley

when the sunshine makes the leaves look golden

cozy pillows

when the sun turns the clouds golden

improving my crow pose

discovering an awesome view of seattle

funky packaging

 my cat who loves hiding in the cupboards

waking up to sunshine

when miggy surprises me with flowers

cold blue sky days

firey sunrises

beautiful baked goods


waking up to a surprise gingerbread latte on my birthday by my earlybird husband

gorgeous morning sunlight

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
xoxo Love, 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Speeding Up Your Photography Post-Processing Workflow (Importing, Backup and Image Management)

My stomach sank. The timer on my phone was way over two hours. How had I wasted this much time in Lightroom? My to-do list was overflowing and I was using up all my precious time just trying to decide which pictures to give my clients. 

About a year ago, I finally started absorbing the concept that time is money - especially when you are running a photography business and you have 10 photo shoots waiting in line to be edited or you have 100 emails to answer or you have 5 new marketing books to read. If you're just getting started and your inbox is empty, you probably feel like you have all the time in the world to play around with photos but if you want your business to grow, you have to start redirecting your energy away from technical tasks and towards the business side of things. If nothing else, getting your work done faster means you have more time to go rock-climbing and make-out with your husband. ;)

Speeding up your post-processing workflow is an essential step in running a profitable photography business. I

Card Management Oh crap! You're standing in a field staring down at the back of your camera. The little picture staring back up at you looks familiar. It was the family you photographed last night. Now here you are at another shoot, you've used up all your CF cards and this is the extra on you brought along "just in case". Problem don't feel 100% confident that this card has been uploaded & backed-up. If you don't format it, you have to tell tonight's clients that their photo shoot is ending early. If you do format it, you might have to tell last night's clients you accidentally deleted their photos. Crappidy crap crap.

Ever been there? I have. Too many times. So I was forced to find a glorious little solution that gives me peace of mind. I went to Pier 1 and spent $7 on 7 glass votive vases. I went to Benjamin Franklin Crafts and spent $4.99 on a sheet of chalkboard stickers and $3.99 on a bistro chalkboard pen. I went to Amazon and bought a CF memory card purse. A few Pinterest-worthy moments later and now I have a lovely little Card Management system! Here's how it works.

I write my client's name on the chalkboard label and drop the CF cards from their shoot into the vase.
Once I've backed-up, edited and released the images to that client, I remove the cards from the client's vase and move them into the 'To Be Formatted' vase. If I have my camera on hand, I might even format the card right then and there and then I'll drop the card into the 'Formated' vase.

Before I leave for a photo shoot, I grab the cards from the 'Formatted' vase and put them into my memory card wallet. Inside the wallet, there is an entirely different & wonderful system. When the card is formatted, the color side faces out. Once I've used the card, I turn it around so the white side (back side - where you can write your name) is facing out. This makes it easy for me to know at a quick glance mid-photo shoot which cards are available.

Data Management (File Organization)
Backup System
One of the most sickening feelings I've ever felt. It was like a hollow punch to my stomach as I heard the hard drive whirling around and beeping. It's dead and all my files are gone. It's our modern nightmare, this ability to loose all of our hardwork just by dropping a little metal box. Grrrrrrr..... I live in constant fear of this reality. It's taken me three years and 5 broken hard drives to develop a backup system that actually works for me. Because I love ya, I'm sharing it with you now to save you some pain & suffering. Enjoy!

Rule #1: Keep Track & Make It Easy.I am a Google Drive Spreadsheet junkie. So surprise backup system revolves around a beautiful little spreadsheet. First important step, this spreadsheet has to be easy to access or you'll forget about it and give up. I have mine linked on the Bookmarks Bar of my browser. I update the spreadsheet every day to keep track of where all my files are. If it's not on a spreadsheet I won't be confident and I'll be constantly plugging in hard drives to double-check that the files are all there. I panic before I delete anything. With the spreadsheet I can actually sleep at night ;) Also, it's important to make your hard drives easy to use or guess won't use them (enough). Keep them out on the desktop so all you have to do is grab the USB cord. If they are tucked away in a black-hole in the back of your closet, good luck finding the motivation to dig that out every week. No wonder your files aren't backed-up regularly.

Rule #2: Three Places at All Times.
Make sure your precious digital images are stored in 3 separate places at all times. After a photo shoot, the photos are only in 1 place - your CF cards. Danger zone! Rush home ASAP to get them uploaded. I know husband/wife photography teams that drive separately to weddings so they keep their two sets of CF cards separate (just in case one of them gets into a car crash). Once home, I upload my images to two hard drives (HD-A & HD-B) and I drop my cards into their *glass vase.* Now they are in 3 places. Once the images are edited and uploaded to my online storage gallery, I can delete them from the CF cards.

Rule #3: Multiple Locations Your photos should be in 3 places at all times BUT those 3 places need to be separate. It's no good having 3 hard drives side by side on your desk. What if your desk got bumped and they all fell off the edge? Bye-bye photos. While I'm working on photos, I store them on one stationary hard drive, one portable hard drive, and my CF cards. After I'm finished with a shoot, I store images on one stationary hard drive at my house, one stationary hard drive at my grandma's house, and in the cloud in an online gallery (this is the same gallery where my clients view their images). At the moment, I'm also experimenting with adding a 4th location - good ol' fashion CDs. I'm saving each shoot to a CD and then storing the CDs in a CD binder that lives in my office closet. Ain't nothin' wrong with extra backup!

Rule #4: Stay Regular News flash, backing up files is not fun. It's time consuming, boring and sometimes stressful. You're never going to 'feel like it' so it's way too easy to procrastinate and then BOOM! your harddrive breaks and you realize you haven't backed up anything in 2 months. Not cool. So, I backup everything every two weeks - on the 1st and 15th of each month. These are my power days where I do everything from payroll to bookkeeping to logging miles and backing up files. I'm committed to the fact that I have to spend two days each month keeping things organized. I've spend years living in business choas and now I know that these two days each month is totally worth the sacrifice. Having these set days for tough business chores (in this case, backing up files) is my secret ingredient to photography business success.
Rule #5: Use Labels Save yourself the mental energy and stick labels on all your hard drives. This makes it easy to know which hard drive you are using and which one you're talking about. For business, I always have three hard drives in active-duty. As mentioned in Rule #3, two of these are big stationary hard drives in two separate locations and one of these is a smaller portable hard drives that travels around with me. Since I work at home, I upload the photos directly to HD-A (portable) & HD-B (at my home). Once I'm finished with a shoot, I take HD-A (portable) on a road-trip to grandma's house to transfer the completed folder of images from HD-A (portable) to HD-C (at grandma's house). Once the images are on both HD-B (at my house) and HD-C (at granny's house) AND I've uploaded to them to the online gallery, then I delete them from HD-A (portable). I delete them from HD-A because HD-A is a portable hard drive that I use as a transportation device. The big hard drives are the apartment buildings where the images live. The portable hard drive is their public bus transport. When the apartment buildings (aka hard drives) become full, they are retired to live safely on a padded shelf in two separate closets and they are replaced by two new big hard drives. The portable HD-A just keeps chuggin' along until one day when it will inevitably die and beeping death.

HD - A 1TB Lacie (Portable Hard drive)
HD - B 3TB Western Digital My Book Studio for Mac (Stationary hard drive at my home office)
HD - C 3TB Western Digital My Book Studio for Mac (Stationary hard drive at my grandma's house)

Image Management
Struggling to remember if you already released those pictures to your client? Wondering if you already shared those pictures on Facebook? Wonder no more!! We use Trello to keep track of our post-production. If you haven't used Trello before, you must start now! It's amazeballs!! It's a lifechanger. I heard about it from Entrepreneur on Fire and I've converted all of my friends! Seriously cool stuff!

So once you have your Trello account set up, you need to create a board called "Image Management" or "Post Processing" or whatever floats your boat. Then you create a list for every stage in your post - processing system.

These are our lists:
Import & BackUp
Photo Editing
Video Editing
Time Log

When we get home from a shoot, we copy a template card from the template list. We rename this new slide to our client's name and we relocate it to the 'Import & Backup' list. Once the images are imported to our hard drives, backed-up, and imported to Lightroom, we move the client's card to the 'Photo Editing' list. So on and so forth. You could also use a spreadsheet to keep track of this data BUT a spreadsheet has it's limitations. It will only let you see the big steps in the process. It won't let you include the million little steps. Well, technically, you could include those in your spreadsheet but that would be 75 columns wide and way too overwhelming (trust me, I've tried it). So thank you Trello!!

When we click on a card, it opens up a checklist. We put all of the little baby steps in the checklist. For example, when the card in on the 'Photo Editing' list, we will be using the check list to go through the following steps: "Culling" / "Retouching" / "Editing" / "Exporting" etc... If the card was on the 'Release' list, we would be working our way through the checklist that has little tasks like: "Upload Gallery" / "Release Gallery to Client" / "Share Photos on Facebook" / "Make a Slideshow for Client" etc...

This system make it possible for us to log-in at any time and see exactly what has been done for every client. We know what stage of the post-processing system they are at and what little steps need to be completed before they can move on to the next stage. It's fantastic. This system also makes it easy for you to share tasks with multiple people. Fab! Try it out and let me know if you like it! :)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Embrace Adventure and Be a Yes!

One year ago today Miggy and I moved to Hawaii to live the dream. We set off to try something new and exciting and totally different than our rainy homelands of Seattle and Scotland. Like everywhere I'm sure, life in Hawaii is was different than vacation in Hawaii. We arrived on the island with a rather stressful to-do list: buy a car, find a house, get Miggy a job, make friends, figure out where to buy good food and heaven forbid, get to know a doctor that can be our on-call in the event of a shark attack. 

It's incredible to believe that we were there for only 6 months because it felt like years. We've been back in Seattle now for 6 months and the time has flown by. I'm so happy to be back and finally Miggy is able to make some great progress with his life. He has a potential interview with a psychology department at the university to do some volunteer research and he has health insurance now so finally after a long time coming he is able to start getting his shoulder healed. He had his MRI this afternoon and I can't wait to see what the results are. 

Now that we've been back in seatown for a while, we're both tarting to feel the itch to move on to the next great adventure. I keep myself entertained with business adventures and weekend hiking trios. We've been chatting about bigger adventure though and I think about them every day. Traveling the world, being part of an exploration team, starting a little retreat center somewhere in the wild. 

I wonder what my next great adventure will be. I wonder if I'll recognize it when the invitation arrives and I wonder if I'll adventure the guts to say yes. Saying yes can mean uprooting but saying yes can also mean the quality if my life can sore to supercalifragilisticexpialidous levels. #beayes 


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wedding Photojournalism Inspiration :: Jennifer Wohrle Photography on thePhotoChicks Podcast today!

If you're looking for a hit of #photography #inspiration - especially if you love #photojournalism - Listen to Jennifer Wohrle Photographer on The Photo Chicks podcast today!!!  Woohoo! Such a good interview with this lovely lady. Cheryl and I have both been seeing the world different after chatting with Jennifer Wohrle and getting super excited about composition and capturing 'moments'.

Listen to her interview at

Enjoy the inspiration and sunshine!

Friday, August 1, 2014

THFC Photographer Critiques :: Busy Backgrounds, Cutting Off Toes, & Sun Spots

My wonderful photography friend, Victoria who shoots for the Happy Film Company, loves when I make feedback videos. It's such an awesome way for us to review her work after a shoot without having to set aside a bunch of time to meet up. I can make it and she can watch in our own time. Plus, we can always go back and re-watch in the future and share the videos online so other photographers can benefit too! Hooray the benefits are abounding! haha

In this "THFC Photographer Critiques" video, I drew attention to Victoria's backgrounds, cropping and lighting. In particular, we are searching for simple, clean and not-distracting backgrounds. We are careful to not crop off toes, hands, and other body parts so things don't like amputated or "missing". This is a fine attention to detail but once it's brought to your attention I dare you to try and forget it. Lastly, she was on a beach where the bright sun is a massive challenge. It's also very challenging when it's shining through trees and giving you lots of dabbled light to work with. Oh the challenges of photography. Enjoy!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Remove Steps & Make Things Easier to Increase Your Success Rate

Ok, weird mystery. I love blogging for myself but I hate creating blogs for the Happy Film Company. What's with that? I dread it and I procrastinate it and then two weeks later I realize I haven't blogged a family photo shoot and I'm fallin' behind and gettin' stressed and oh help.

Likewise, I have these fantastic writing spells where I blog here everyday for a weekend and then a creative drought arrives and you guys don't hear from me for a month. Again....what the heck?

I work at a yoga studio near my house and I get an awesome employee benefit - unlimited yoga classes. Lucky much? But day after day I struggle to get myself to yoga mat. Clearly my years of blaming my 'lack of yoga' on 'lack of money' is a theory that is flying out the window as we speak.

So this leaves me wondering...why do I have things in my life that I want to do....but don't do.
Maybe it's because I have so many thoughts in my mind, so many events on my calendar, that these little tasks seem daunting. My favorite motto that helps me with tricky conundrums like this....Simplify Simplify Simplify — Henry David Thoreau 

Every difficult task, break it down into small pieces and figure out which pieces make you suffer the most. See if you can remove those pieces or change them to make them easier to swallow. It's like Canned Responses in Gmail. If you don't have to type out your name at the end of every single email, that's one less thing you have to do, which makes it one step easier to get through your inbox each day.

I've started making little changes, like keeping my yoga mat in the car - always ready to go. I now schedule my appointments & photo shoots so they end just in time for me to make it to the next yoga class on the schedule.

Up until this week, I've always uploaded a photo of myself at the bottom of every blog post. For some silly reason my blogging platform still doesn't allow you to create signatures or templates. Whaaaat??? I know. So anyway, that 30 seconds of uploading a photo is a pain every time and I'm so over it! I've stopped including that picture and already blogging is a little easier for me. It makes me kinda sad because I like including my photo at the end of of my posts because I think it make it more personal but if that step is tripping me up and making me avoid blogging, it's probably not worth it right now. Sacrifices.

When you're struggling to do something in your life or business, step back and look at the specific steps that you're dreading. See if you can change one little step and maybe the whole experience will change too! :D


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Export Photos Out of Lightroom with Different File Names & Rename Files After Export

One of my favorite things about having wonderful photographers who are part of the Happy Film Company team is that they send me questions. I love questions because I love teaching photography and questions give me inspiration for new material. Like this little video I made last night on special request for one of the girls. Her question was how to export files from Lightroom and give them different names. Now, there is a fantastic chance I've totally misinterpreted her question and I'm about to take you guys on a 4.5 minute rabbit chase down a very unhelpful hole. But fingers-crossed, I got it right and this video will answer this question for everyone out there who is wondering.

How do I rename photos when I export photos from Lightroom?

Oh, you're not going to believe this. After writing the paragraph above, I double checked the text messages on my phone and realized that she was totally asking me a different question. So I guess I jinxed myself. haha After reconsideration, I think this is the question she was asking...

How do I rename files AFTER I've exported them from Lightroom?

haha If I still haven't gotten the question right, please try asking me again Miss. V. ;)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adventure Inspiration from the Couch :: Laura Dekker's Maidentrip

I lie on the couch, staring out the window towards the beautiful Cascade Mountain range and wonder to myself...why am I lying on the couch? I felt like I should totally have been up in the mountains. But all I really wanted to do was lounge around and watch TV. Don't worry - not the channel flicking kind of TV. I pretty much gave that up in high school. Nowadays when I watch TV it is always on Netflix / Hulu and at least has some purpose behind it rather than looking around for whatever is on.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, the sun was shining and I decided to watch a documentary (I love docos!) called Maidentrip about the Laura Dekker - the youngest person to circumnavigate the world as a solo-sailor. I'm so totally loving my adventure documentaries these days. They are so inspirational. As the final credits rolled onto the screen I felt this urge to go adventuring too. But the reality is, my knees suck too much to let me be a mountaineer, I don't own a bike, and I currently have no experience working on a boat. So I probably have a long way to go.

But it dawned on my, I have my camera and although I do say so myself, I ain't that bad at using it. For the 30th time in the last month, I started daydreaming about being an adventure photographer / film maker. I love the idea of documenting exciting and inspirational adventures. So far I have one part of that puzzle - camera skills. Now I just need to start venturing off the couch. haha

What adventures are you dreaming of today?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

THFC Photographer Critiques :: Recomposition & Cropping Under Trees

Light glowing through trees — without a doubt this is my new favorite thing about being a Seattle family photographer in the spring/summer time. Trees trees and more trees...give me more trees! 

So I was pumped when Victoria (one of amazing photographers who works for my family photography business, the Happy Film Company) did a shoot together last month under the tall trees at Greenlake Park in Seattle. After I posted the pictures on the blog, Victoria emailed me asking why her pictures from this location were not included in the final collection. 

I made her this little video to explain how to recompose photographs to really show off the beauty of tall trees and make them look amazeballs with people standing/sitting underneath them. The main trick to showing off trees in family portraits is tilting your camera upwards. You can get down low on the ground (yes, even on your belly) and then focus on the family. Hold the focus (don't let it go!) and tilt the camera up until the family is at the bottom of the frame and you can see all the glorious leaves above. #awesome

Did I mention I love trees? haha

Great job Miss. Victoria for taking beautiful pictures and thank you for being my example in this video.

Monday, July 14, 2014

thePhotoChicks Podcast — Golden Oldies & New Interviews

When was the last time you sat around laughing at yourself? For Miss Cheryl Ford, apparently that's all the time. haha (Sorry for the spotlight Cheryl.) I just love it when Cheryl sends me a text and tells me she's listening to our old podcast episodes and laughing out loud. It's pretty shameful but we do find ourselves hilarious — I think that's a good thing though. haha Those were the good old days of thePhotoChicks, when Cheryl and Chamonix spilled their guts about photography business and life and we went on tangents about cupcakes and road-trips and laughed hysterically at nothing. Nowadays, we're still having fun but we've cranked up the cool factor on our podcast.

We are now interviewing other photographers every week, asking them all the same set of questions and hearing about their personal journeys in the photography industry. Even if no one ever listened to our episodes, Cheryl and I would still keep this podcast going. We are so inspired by every photographer we meet (on Skype) haha and each 30 minute episode is an amazing outlet, a little change from the everyday march of running a business.

We love hearing from our photography buddies and interview alumni who send us little messages and Instagram photos when they're listening to thePhotoChicks. Apparently, our show is great entertainment while you edit photos. Perfect! That's exactly what we want and it's so rewarding to be contributing to the photography community in this uber-techie way. We love it.

If you'd like to listen to thePhotoChicks podcast, here are some of our most recent episodes (and some of the golden oldies). Enjoy!!

Interviews:Interview with Naomi Levit — Wedding & Portrait Photographer (Hawaii)
Interview with Katie Cann-McTaggart — Seattle Wedding & Portrait Photographer (Seattle)
Interview with Tobin Smith — Glamour Portrait Photographer (Vancouver, Canada)
Interview with Carly Bish — Wedding & Portrait Photographer (Seattle)
Interview with Melissa Kilner — Wedding Photographer (Seattle)

Golden Oldies:
Mistakes We Made in Our First Year of Business
Annoying Things About Photographers
Business Dreams & Photography Fantasies


Sunday, July 13, 2014

{Grateful on Sunday} Bringin' Home the Benjamins & the Gorgeous Pacific Northwest

Things are falling into place. It feels so good when you work so hard and finally you start to see results. This past month, my bank account has started growing and I set up my IRA and a brokerage account and people are starting to book photo shoots because they're finding me on Google organically (which still feels like a complete miracle!) and I've been able to make some fairly big purchases (like a new computer monitor and harddrives) without feeling guilty or going in debt. Feels good. Very good. It's especially rewarding because I've been making this money out of what feels like nothing. Granted "nothing" means like three years of 24/7 working and thousands of dollars on equipment, software, and workshops but whateva... it feels like nothin' haha Don't think I'm some gangsta swimmin' in a pool of hundred dollar bills or anything. I mean, we're talking a couple thousand dollars. That's it but it's so much to me. :D #feelinglikeabigshot This week (a.k.a. month) I am so grateful for this financial growth! 

I am also so grateful for officially launching the Maui branch of my family photography business (the Happy Film Company) and seeing Seattle & Maui side by side on my website,

 trees, trees, and more glorious evergreen trees everywhere I go, 

the beautiful sunset on the valley that I get to watch everynight,

finally starting to understand how the stock market works and dipping my toes in,  

going to Value Village with my brother and finding this gorgeous green creature, 

and then taking that gorgeous green creature home with us and laughing THE WHOLE WAY home as I drove behind them,

publishing my very first wedding video, 

FINALLY after three years of putting up with my broke-ass-but-still-clingin'-to-life-card-reader...I bought a shiny new one!

discovering a crazy delicious recipe that everyone is asking for,

treating myself to a girl's date with my neighbor and getting Shellac for the first time,

#PNW views from the middle of Lake Washington (views so good they nearly make you crash your car),

 colorful houses, 

driving with the sunset behind me, 


homemade cake for breakfast, 

pretty letters from friends,

getting green juice as a surprise gift from Cheryl who couldn't stomach it haha,

taking action and buying my new computer monitor #makeithappen

 wild daisies,

my iPhone that lets me take pretty pictures all day long (easily a.k.a. without having to haul around my gigantic camera) 

the color of the trees when the sunset hits them, 

What are you grateful for today?


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pricing Your Photography by Demand Instead of by Principle

"$10,00, Are you kidding me?" the lady said to Picasso. "You only took 5 minutes to do that sketch. Isn't $10,000 a lot for 5 minutes of work?" — “The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso retorted.
Photographers love throwing this story around. It's a way to make yourself feel better when people tell you your photography prices are too expensive. It's like we have to remind ourselves that we are amazingly talented "artistes" and our digital images are "priceless works of art". Well, I'm kinda over it. 

I'm tired of watching people's faces fall when they look at my prices. I'm tried of explaining why a digital image is more valuable than a print. I'm tired of puffing up my chest and pretending to be some fancy million-dollar artist that I'm not (yet).

I want to stop charging prices based on principle and start charging prices based on demand. 
I'm not going to charge $3,000 for a box of photos because "that's what I should charge because I'm a fancy-pants talented artist that's worked hard to get where I am and now you get to pay me for it." 
I'm going to charge $3,000 only when there are 3,000 people banging down my door begging me to photograph them and they're all offering to pay me $4,000 to be first in line.
The price increases because there is demand. 

I think it's ridiculous to charge through-the-roof prices when you're just getting started and your inbox is empty and your voicemail-box is empty and your bank account is....empty. Some people say that slapping that high price tag on your website right from the beginning will make you look more experienced and desirable. They say it's important to enter the photography market "at the right level" rather than trying to climb up the ladder. (I totally bought into all of this when I was starting my business.) 

I agree that you shouldn't sell yourself short and market yourself as a "budget" photographer when you want to be a luxury photography. Not a good idea. But if your goal is to be a luxury photography, the reality is ... you're probably going to take a few years to get there. Your prices will be much lower now than they will be in the future. Fact. Accept that fact and be comfortable with charging a fair but modest amount now. 

A lower (more realistic) price point will make it easier for you to get new business in through the door — which is what you really need right now. As the business pours in, the prices can start to slowly climb the mountain. And like I said before, when the clients are climbing in through your windows and vents, then you can start charging ridiculous prices because people will basically be throwing money at you. (Now isn't that a nice idea...haha).


Friday, July 11, 2014

Creating my Very First Wedding Video for Layla & Chris

Feet were flying at me from all directions and I was army crawling along the ground. I was in the middle of a wedding reception dance party and I JUST HAD to get that video footage of peoples feet — close up! (See if you can spot the dancing feet in the final video!) haha Rick shouted over to me, "If you're going to get that close to the action, you have to dance." I laughed and almost started to dance (like a happy wedding photographer) but then remembered I was shooting video and I couldn't move (or heaven forbid everything would be shaky as heck!). I was so excited when my good photography buddies, Rick + Anna, asked me to come with them to one of their weddings and be the videographer for their first wedding highlights video. This was my first wedding film and I'm so excited to share it on my blog today. Here is is! Congratulations Layla & Chris! You're both crazy sweet and I loved making this video for you! Enjoy ;) 

Layla & Christopher Wedding | June 7, 2014 from the Happy Film Company on Vimeo.

My Mission: Prowl the wedding for 11 hours. Collect gorgeous candid video & audio footage. Assemble it into a 5minute video within 2 weeks.

My Biggest Challenge: keeping that darn camera still & smooth AND coming up with interesting ways to move the camera while recording (I was trying to avoid just panning ALL the time).

My Biggest Lesson Learned: a tripod would probably work better than a monopod — especially a video tripod that has a ball and socket at the base and a rotating head on top. that's one of my next investments for sure! the monopod is great for moving around quickly but it's kinda wobbly.

My Biggest Reward: just knowing how special this video will be to this family now and in 10 or 20 years — they won't care about any shaky video footage because there are lots of really special moments in there for there

My Favorite Footage to Record: i got most excited when i was recording the bride's dress because I saw on the back of the camera how the crystals on the dress were glimmering and I basically just freaked out with how pretty it was haha

My Favorite Footage to Edit: the dancing! it made me so happy watching people dance and look so joyful — especially when the groom and his dad & brother busted a move

I'm Most Embarrassed Of: the little moments in the video when it shakes or bumps or isn't quite the color or exposure. im not really embarrassed about these things but they do stand out to me as something I definitely want to improve on next time

I'm Most Proud Of:
the moment when I uploaded the video to Vimeo and I saw it online for the first time. i'd spent so much time with the video — just the two of us — and I was proud to click publish and put it out there in the world. Just seeing it in the Vimeo player made it look suddenly more professional and for a minute I was really impressed with what i'd created and that I'd actually done it. Mission complete!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sending "Elle Woods Style" Welcome Videos to Photography Clients

It was 2am. I was sitting like a mouse in my in-laws kitchen — gross computer light glowing on my face. I saw the ad for a "Social Media Assistant" at creativeLIVE and I was sold. What would set me apart? I HAD TO GET THIS JOB! It was kinda scary but I made a video. I did one take and told myself that even though it wasn't very professional or polished, it would show my personality and hopefully win them over. Well, I had the job in less than 48hrs.

Two years later, I applied for another job with a video. Less than 48hrs, I had the job. 10 months later (i.e. yesterday), I applied for yet another job with yet another video and boom, they liked me and I'm hired.

When it comes to applying for jobs, sending a video with the application is valuable because 1) it does make you stand out and 2) it's basically an interview — they get to see your face, listen to you speak, hear a little about you etc... before they even ask for an interview, you hand (a.k.a. send) it to them. Now you're already at the next stage of the application process — leaps ahead of anyone else who has applied. It worked for Elle Woods after all. ;)

With "normal" jobs, you're usually the one that approaches the business and you hope they hire you. With photography jobs, your clients are approaching you and you hope they hire you.
Either way, you're trying to sell yourself and win people over and get them to say, "You're hired."

I send little 2min "hello, i'm Chamonix" videos to almost all my potential clients (sometimes it's hard to produce if the computer isn't behaving). They usually love it and make some comment about how they "loved the personal response." These videos are my way of creating that personal connection quickly before they move on and hire someone else.

When I started making videos it was awkward and embarrassing. But with practice came comfort and with comfort came fun. Now I love making these little videos and I would encourage everyone to try it. Maybe one day someone will send me a video... ;) I can't wait.


Monday, June 30, 2014

the Glorious Agonies of Editing Photos of Women — Seattle Nude Portraits by Chamonix Thurston-Rattue

So I just spent the last 2 hours hunched over my keyboard in the dark, furiously smoothing skin with my Intuos tablet (love that thing!) and feeling the world's heaviest dilemma bearing down on my shoulders..... which preset should I use? Dun Dun Duuuuuunnnnnn!!!! When it comes to editing pictures of families, I've got one set preset that is pretty much always my go-to and I always love it. But when it comes to editing photos of women it's different every single darn time! What's with that? The mood of the shoot, the woman's personality, the lighting, the backdrop and clothing yadda yadda — it all has a bigger impact on the editing style. So tonight, I'm sitting down to edit my first women's portrait session in like 4 or 5 months and I'm shocked at how challenging it is — I'd totally forgotten. My memory had wiped away all those hours of toiling over wrinkles, blemishes and fat rolls. Plus, in the last 6 months, I've finally started coming to terms with "who I am as an artist" (gracious I hate that expression) and really embracing / getting excited about pushing myself to try new things and accept what I like (and not what I think I should do or what other people want me to do). So finally, I'm back here behind my computer, staying up late (I haven't even eaten dinner yet - grumble grumble) and after hours spent on one flippin' picture, I'm proud to announce — I love it! (See photo below!) Hallelujah. Now on to the other 50 images from that shoot. haha Good thing I'm photographing women as a hobby at the moment or there would be a very horrific editing bill coming someone's way! Massive thank you to Taylor, our beautiful model, for waiting for me while I edit her beautiful photos. I loved working with her and it's so fun working on her images and seeing her laughing and having fun in front of the camera. I love it! Have a wonderful day of editing, my dear photography friends - you are not alone! 
~ xoxo Chamonix

the Glorious Agonies of Editing Photos of Women — Seattle Nude Portraits by Chamonix Thurston-Rattue

So I just spent the last 2 hours hunched over my keyboard in the dark, furiously smoothing skin with my Intuos tablet (love that thing!) and feeling the world's heaviest dilemma bearing down on my shoulders..... which preset should I use? Dun Dun Duuuuuunnnnnn!!!! When it comes to editing pictures of families, I've got one set preset that is pretty much always my go-to and I always love it. But when it comes to editing photos of women it's different every single darn time! What's with that? The mood of the shoot, the woman's personality, the lighting, the backdrop and clothing yadda yadda — it all has a bigger impact on the editing style. So tonight, I'm sitting down to edit my first women's portrait session in like 4 or 5 months and I'm shocked at how challenging it is — I'd totally forgotten. My memory had wiped away all those hours of toiling over wrinkles, blemishes and fat rolls. Plus, in the last 6 months, I've finally started coming to terms with "who I am as an artist" (gracious I hate that expression) and really embracing / getting excited about pushing myself to try new things and accept what I like (and not what I think I should do or what other people want me to do). So finally, I'm back here behind my computer, staying up late (I haven't even eaten dinner yet - grumble grumble) and after hours spent on one flippin' picture, I'm proud to announce — I love it! (See photo below!) Hallelujah. Now on to the other 50 images from that shoot. haha Good thing I'm photographing women as a hobby at the moment or there would be a very horrific editing bill coming someone's way! Massive thank you to Taylor, our beautiful model, for waiting for me while I edit her beautiful photos. I loved working with her and it's so fun working on her images and seeing her laughing and having fun in front of the camera. I love it! Have a wonderful day of editing, my dear photography friends - you are not alone! 
~ xoxo Chamonix

Sunday, June 15, 2014

{Grateful on Sunday} Hot Tubs, Card Games and Mandalas

This week the rain came back to Seattle after many weeks of glorious sunshine. I can't lie though, I'm loving it! I love the refreshing variety and the cozy days and the log fires and hot tubs with rain drizzling on my shoulders and face (keeping me from over heating). I have had such a crazy busy two weeks full of photo shoots and a wedding and now, for the rest of June, I get to enjoy some peace and quiet. I get to take a little break from shooting, focus on the business admin, read some books, do some yoga, go to a new book-club meeting and reassess what I'm doing, how things are going and where I want things to head from here on out. So nice. So many ideas have been flying through my head and I am so grateful for this quiet time to be able to sort it all out. 

This week I am grateful for experiencing my first Persian wedding, 

a midnight dip in the hot tub after a long wedding day, 

inspiration from a photography friend, 

playing cards with grandma and Miggy, 

and WINNING! (heck yes!)

when Cara sleeps in funny positions, 

tasty Irish bread that was kind of squishy, 

the beauty of Skype, 

reading a book that takes place on my home turf so I get to relate to all the local mentions,

whoever drew this and published it on the internet, 

midnight snack with lots of honey mustard, 

one of the most beautiful peaceful early mornings, 

celebrating my grandma's 91st birthday! (and my grandma!)

injecting health into my life, 

all the lessons I'm learning from drawing mandalas, 

soaking in the hot tub for probably 2 hours this morning and feeling fantastic afterwards. 

What are you grateful for today?