Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Learning How to FOCUS - Growing a Photography Business in Seattle

When I lived in Maui, Hawaii, I had a 30 minute commute to the photography studio every day. I think 30 minutes is such a perfect commute time, especially when you are a big fan of a 30 minute podcast called "Entrepreneur on Fire" ha! It fits perfectly and I arrive at my destination full of inspiration. The show's host, John Lee Dumas, has a little saying... "FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Success". 

This little acronym is going to change my life. It's been my mantra lately and it's keeping me on track. I have a naturally tendency (inherited from my mother, I think) to over-achieve and bite off more than I can chew. It all boils down to good old fashion enthusiasm. I want to stick my finger in too many pies and as a result, I don't make any progress. I spread myself too thin and start to stagnate and feel exhausted. Talk about depressing.

Every day, I'm reminding myself to FOCUS. I've prioritized my projects and goals. I've got an on-going list of things I would like to do one day - knowing that that day is not today. Right now, I'm prioritizing my family film business (the Happy Film Company). That is the #1 project that I am FOCUSing on. Once that reaches "success", I will move on to FOCUS on my women's portraiture. I decided to organize it this way because I have a very clear vision for the Happy Film Company but my visions for women's portraiture is very blurry and therefore much more stressful. I'm going to let that whole side of my passion and business simmer and develop on the side until the vision is clear. 

Check out the Happy Film Company website!

the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos

Do you struggle to FOCUS?
What are you FOCUSing on right now?
Any advice for us spread-thinners to help us FOCUS?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blogging Tips for Photographers 101 (Pt. 6): Finding Time to Blog

When it comes to blogging, most photographers really struggle to find the time. They are already swamped juggling 1001 other things and blogging gets pushed aside and sometimes skipped for weeks on end. When you believe blogging is going to eat up all your time, I totally understand why you are feeling so frustrated, uninspired, and intimidated. I really struggled with creating consistent blog posts when I was working full time for someone else. Even now when I'm self-employed again, I have been falling behind. At the best of times, when my blogging is regular and on a roll, these are the tips that help me keep momentum...
blogging tips for photographers

Perfection is the Enemy of Good
We don't have the time to sit down and write Pulitzer Prize winning material. Well good news folks, nobody is expecting that from you. There is no harm in checking your grammar but don't sabotage your blog's success by an obsession with perfection. I repeat this mantra, "It's good enough." I imagine reading my blog as an outsider - if it's good enough as someone else's blog, then it's going to work just fine. I'm the only one who wants it to look perfect. A good blog that's regular is more effective for your business than a perfect blog that hardly even exists. 

Change Your Blogging Mentality  
Instead of searching for a block of peaceful time in a quaint cafe to write your perfect blog essays, welcome the art of blogging into your entire life. I "blog" when I'm in line at the grocery store. I'll be thinking of a subject, develop the idea, think of the picture I'm going to include and when I get home it's practically written itself. 

Blog on the Go!
You don't have to be logging into your blogging website to create your blog posts. I have a document on my computer and iPhone that I use for drafting blog posts. I write ideas there, create lists, jot down funny moments etc… Sometimes I write entire blog posts. I do all of this offline so when I do log on, all I have to do is copy and paste. Sometimes writing in Notepad, Textedit or Word is a lot less intimidating then in that little white square on the blogging website because there's no chance you'll accidentally click publish. haha No seriously though, that little inch of separation from the internet can really help ideas flow.

Blog in Bulk
Of course you don’t have time to blog if you’re sitting down everyday trying to come up with new genius content, clever words and relevant photos. Stop trying to blog everyday in a panic and start running “blog marathons”. On a Saturday afternoon or a Monday lunch-break (a.k.a. whenever I feel like it) I stretch out my fingers and type out 3-4 blog posts in one sitting.

If you need help managing your time, I highly recommend reading this book: 

Part 1: Challenges of Blogging for Photographers
Part 2: SEO
Part 3: 10 Ways to Come Up with Interesting Blog Content
Part 4: The Pretty Journal Syndrome
Part 5: But I Don't Like to Write

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tea with Hanna Mazur — Keeping Grounded, Focused & Balanced

It's so good to be back in Seattle. The weather has been beautiful and I have loved working with my photography friends again. On Tuesday, I went and had tea with Hanna Mazur, Seattle Make Up Artist and we talked about all the wonderful possibilities that lie ahead of us - this year and for years to come. We daydreamed about studios, monopolizing the market, getting our work published, and jumping between different genres to keep things interesting. Hanna is such an inspiration to me. She's always so calm and positive and she encourages me constantly. She has so much faith in me, it helps me have faith in myself. She keeps me so grounded and I am SO grateful to have her as a friend and teammate. Thank you Hanna.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Cheryl Ford's Bridal Veil Shoot — Featuring Hanna Mazur, Seattle Make Up Artist

I am so excited to be reunited with my photography friends Cheryl Ford Photography & Hanna Mazur, Seattle Make Up Artist! This weekend, the girls were working together on a photo shoot with Princess Bride Couture Bridal Salon at Country Village, Bothell — they were showing off bridal veils and matching them with wedding dresses. Cheryl invited me along and we surprised Hanna who had no idea I would be there (and since I just got back from Maui, we were all pretty excited to see each other!) Of course, I brought along my camera to capture some behind the scenes for both these lovely girls. Cheryl is always silly and I love the funny faces she makes when her face is smushed against her camera! ha! I LOVE photographing Hanna while she does makeup. She's so gentle and tranquil. I'm really excited that I had this opportunity to capture lots of pretty pictures of Hanna at work. It's so hard to not take 1,000 photos of her make up bag, brushes & palettes. So pretty! Thank you ladies for a fun afternoon together. I'm excited for all the new adventures we have ahead of us this year!

seattle portrait photographer

Seattle Portrait Photographer

Seattle Portrait Photographer

Seattle Portrait Photographer

Seattle Portrait Photographer

Model: Ivy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blogging Tips for Photographers 101 (Pt. 5): But I Don't Like to Write

So you don’t like to write and that makes blogging regularly for your photography business rather challenging. Well the glorious news is that blogging isn't actually about writing. It's about sharing. What do you want to share with the world?

blogging tips for photographers

If you’re bored or in pain writing your blog, I’m probably going to be bored and in pain reading it. It’s going to be dry, forced, vague, BORING. Here are two options for how you can manage a regular (and interesting) photography blog despite the fact you hate writing:

Option A) Stop writing all together and start using other methods of communication. Here are some ideas to get you started....
    1. Lists (Numbers & Bullet Points)
    2. Word collage — like people’s Twitter profiles — describe your photo shoots with jumbles of descriptive words.
    3. Photo captions — don’t be afraid to say it like it is, just literally explain what we’re looking at and what you think about it. Photo by photo.
    4. Collect quotes that are relevant / inspiring and share them in your blog posts with photos.
    5. Video instead of words. Speak don’t write. Just because you don’t like writing doesn’t mean you don’t like talking. This will definitely help people connect with you on a more personal level. You can summarize what you say in your videos with a little paragraph (that way you can pack in some important keywords too!)
    6. Challenge: Limit yourself to 5 sentences. Helps you feel less overwhelmed by the task of ‘having to write’. Set the bar low. 5 sentences is do-able and still enough to get some valuable content on your blog.
    7. 7) Ask other people to write and use their words with your photos. Instead of describing the photo shoot yourself, ask your clients/models to write a paragraph about their experience. That could actually be a fantastic way to advertise word-of-mouth / share reviews that are masked as information.
    8. Just include credits : Who, what, when, where, why, how
    9. Use Guest Bloggers or share interviews, conversations, and replies to other blog posts.
    10. Create useful Info-graphics for your readers.
blogging for photographers

Option B) Try creating some writing 'systems' that make the whole process less-painful. My friend Cheryl Ford has struggled in the past with writing on her blog and recently she's discovered a way to overcome this obstacle! She's started publishing a weekly feature called her 'Weekly Round-Up". She basically recaps her week by categorizing it into: 'The Best', 'The Worst', 'The Absurd' & 'The Gratitude'. 

When Cheryl goes to write her blog post, she has a template in Wordpress and she just fills it in. She says it's helped her because it lets her write without having to think up an interesting topic or content. She just answers the questions and zooms through, writing blog posts like a pro! I do something similar with my 'Grateful on Sunday' posts. 

What are your blogging tips for photographers?
What tricks do you have for overcoming your dislike of writing in order to blog for business?
Any other ideas for Option A?

Part 1: Challenges of Blogging for Photographers
Part 2: SEO
Part 3: 10 Ways to Come Up with Interesting Blog Content
Part 4: The Pretty Journal Syndrome
Up next is Part 6: "Finding Time To Blog"