2011 Photographer’s Holiday Gift Guide

25 Nov

Last year it was a huge hit, so we’re back with the 2nd Photo Betties Holiday Gift Guide – filled with camera-inspired gifts for the holidays! We’ve got gift ideas for the tech-lover, the design-obsessed, the old-school film devotee, the iPhone shooter, the smaller-sized “assistant”, the sports / outdoors / fearless photographer, the crafty, the well-accessorized and many more…

Post it to your Facebook wall! Tweet it! Leave it open on family members’ browsers! (They’ll get the hint…)

The iPhone Telephoto Lens: 8x the view!

The iPhone SLR Mount: For realsies.

The Instant Camera iPhone Decal: Too cool for school.

Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4/4S: Video-a-go-go!

iPhone Artistry: Tips, techniques and inspiration

Vintage Camera Coaster Set: A Must for the Photographer/Hostess

Snap Frames: Print, Personalize & Post!

Vintage Camera Bags: The perfect accessory!

Polaroid Camera Poster: For those who do…

The Old School Camera Belt Buckle: A subtle fashion statement

Seat Belt Camera Straps: Buckle Up!

Twin Lens Reflex Pint Glasses: You know you want ’em…

My First “Camera” Baby Bib: Start ’em young

Alphabet City: An über hip bedtime story

“Assistant” Onesie: Too cute for words!

Polaroid Plush Camera: Instant fun!

Kids Ringer Camera T-Shirt: For the coolest kid on the block

Felt Camera with Photo Screen Kit: For you crafty types

iPad CF and SD Card Readers: For lighting-fast uploads!

Camera Dial Laptop Decal: Badge of honor

F-Stop Watch: What aperture is it?

360 Degree Spinner Camera: Capture it all!

The Happy Helmet Bike Camera Mount: The name says it all!

The Monsterpod: The hoverboard of tripods

Etre Touchy Gloves: Cute, cozy and practical!

BlackRapid Camera Straps: Way above average

Photojojo’s Rare Film Gift Pack: A real hard-to-find find!

Cigar Box Pinhole Polaroid Camera: One-of-a-kind

Paint Can Pinhole: A more affordable Pinhole Camera

Vintage NYC Photo Pendant Necklaces: Modern yet nostalgic

Classy Camera Flash Tie: The camera Weegee made famous

Antique Bronze Camera Ring: Adjustable cuteness!

Camera Cufflinks: Wear with pride!

Classic Luggage Style Camera Straps: Upcycled & Vegan Friendly

Modern Camera Stamp: Make an impression

Retro Camera Pencil Sharpener: Coolest in its class

Vogue, The Covers: Over 300 stylish photos

Camera Scarf: An ICP exclusive

The Ray Flash Ringflash Adapter: An affordable ring-flash add-on

This is only a small sampling of fun stuff we came across – if you have more gift ideas, please share them in the comments section!

And don’t be shy… tell us which one’s your favorite!

Sage Advice: Admitting Your Mistakes

23 Nov

To move forward, you have to be able to look back.

At times it can be difficult to find perspective, especially when you’re running your own business, shooting, marketing, wowing customers and balancing life amidst all the responsibilities. Today’s post was originally published last year but is still totally relevant and helpful today. It made me think more critically about things I could improve on and didn’t even realize; I hope it helps inspire all you Betties out there to continue growing, improving and striving to be better!

My 25 Biggest Mistakes

by Brandy Anderson of Fresh Sugar Photography

I’ve made many, many more than 25 mistakes in my 5 years in this industry, but these are some of the ones that affected my business the most. If anyone of them can help any of you from making the same mistake, I’m glad to share them. Some of them may be surprising, and some of them may be so obvious you are considering me an idiot right about now. I’m ok with that.

In no particular order:

1. Taking on too many “free” sessions.

This is a lesson that I most recently learned, and am still recovering from. I love to give to charities, and I love to expand my portfolio, and I love to give photography to my friends. However, all of this “love” has added up to a backlog that I am only now recovering from after taking some time off from shooting. I am still editing free sessions from November, and *just* finished one from September. So what, you ask? It was free! Yes, but now my reputation is suffering because I will be forever known to these people as the photographer that takes forever to get your images to you. They don’t care that it was free. They care that they actually HAVE the photographs.

2. Letting emails sit in my inbox.

My automatic email responder tells people who inquire about a session that I will respond within 24 hours. But for the longest time, I was taking 3-4 days to get back to people, and even (gasp!) sometimes forgetting about the email at all and not finding it for weeks afterwards. Whoa. Bad, bad business practices. After getting my 5th or 6th response from potential clients who had already booked with someone else, I smartened up. I try to email back immediately after getting the email. Clients like that. And I like having clients.

3. Not having confidence in my work.

If you haven’t really talked to me in about 3 years, you would be amazed with the change. When I was first starting out, I had very little confidence in my work. I put on a brave face with clients, but I was constantly comparing myself to other photographers, and falling short. Even when I had been in business for awhile, doubts plagued me. Now I’m not saying that today I think I’m a rockstar, but I believe in myself and I know that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I can be just as good as anybody else.

4. Buying too many actions/templates/etc.

I have about 20 different coffee table book templates. Guess what? I have not, nor will ever offer coffee table books. WHY on earth would I even buy one template, let alone 20? Obviously because I like throwing my money away. Now I think carefully about every single business purchase I make.

5. Hiding.

This is a personality flaw I’ve always had. When things got overwhelming, I hid. There’s a part in book Confessions of a Shopaholic where she just runs away from all her debt, etc and hides at her parents’ house. That’s me. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I would just stick my head in the sand and pretend things weren’t happening. As you can guess, things don’t get better on their own, and you can create some pretty upset tummies by hiding out from your problems. Now, as hard as it is to do – I know that it’s just so much better to confront everything head on.

6. Thinking Photoshop could save me.

When I started shooting RAW, I was in love with the fact that I didn’t need to custom white-balance anymore. I could just shoot and fix it later. Exposure problems? Oh well, fix it later! Except if you don’t get it right or nearly right in-camera, good luck getting a great image out of Photoshop. Oh, it can look ok . . . but do you really want to be sweating out your ordering appointment worried that they are going to choose something that was overly “fixed” in PS and might not be enlarged well? Which leads me to –

7. Showing clients less than awesome images.

Crap exposure, weird color, missed focus. You know the minute that you put ANY image with those problems in a gallery, a client will order it. Big. HUGE! And then you can either give them a substandard product, explain to them that they can’t have the image they want, or convince them to get a canvas (heh heh). I’ve learned to save myself the headache and get rid of those images right away. Now that’s not to say that I still won’t show something with more emotion than technical perfection. But any imperfections have to be pretty minor.

8. Laziness.

By nature, I am a lazy person. I work from my bed more than I really should admit. I love doing nothing – I love not working. It’s true! Thankfully, I love working at this particular job, so it counteracts my inherent laziness. But, I will leave things to the last minute and procrastinate and not get any work done and play Cafe World on Facebook and look at engagement rings at Costco.com. (I am already married and not likely to get engaged anytime soon.) Then I have a whole pile of work that has built up and I have to work really, really hard and I get stressed and it stinks. So I just try to plug through my to-do list everyday and schedule my laziness for appropriate times.

9. Laziness. Part Two.

Laziness on the job. Every so often, I slip into a rut, and I stop trying new things at sessions. I go through the motions, get the usual shots and try to get the heck out of there. The clients don’t really know any differently – it doesn’t show in my personality or anything, but I’m just not that into it. I don’t feel inspired and just hit my go-to shots and then pack it up. I try now to find little things to inspire me for every session. Either a new blanket for a newborn, and new trick to make older kids laugh, or a new location. It’s up to ME to put the creativity into my photography.

10. Pretending I’m not a business person.

If you are in business, you are a business person. I don’t care how creative you are – someone’s got to think of the biz side. If not you, then someone else. I used to only do the things I liked and let the other stuff slide. But it turns out that other stuff is kinda important, and can kill your business if you don’t take care of it. Like knowing if you are making any money. Again, leading me to:

11. Taxes.

I am going to admit something that hopefully won’t land me in federal prison. I didn’t do taxes for 2 years. 2 years. I did my usual procrastination, then hiding routine. For two whole stinkin’ years! Imagine the knot in my stomach, always having that in the back of my mind. I had no idea what I had made, no idea what I owed, and it was making me SICK. But one day I just honestly smacked myself upside the head and bought QuickTax. It took me about 2 hours to do everything, and it was DONE!
My challenge these days is getting my taxes in on time each year. I still owe a $23 penalty from last year. I will write the cheque after this post. I promise.

12. I put a baby in a tree. On purpose.

Against my better judgement, I had a parent suggest it, and I complied. The dad was behind the baby holding it and hiding behind the trunk. But it was still a stupid and dangerous thing to do. I completely and totally regret it. I did it because I wanted to impress other photographers. Now I don’t even SHOW that image to other people because I am so embarrassed by it.

13. Letting people take advantage of me.

I’m Canadian, therefore I am a nice, polite, person. Which means that sometimes people try to push me around. They can try.
Because after having a couple of people push me to bend policies and then getting severely burned by doing so, I don’t let myself get pushed around anymore. I still give great customer service, and almost always say yes – but sometimes those yes’es have price tags that I attach. If something is going to take me extra time to do and it’s outside the norm of what I offer, then I will charge for it accordingly. There’s a great saying about bending over backwards, not forwards.Also, for those of you involved in commercial photography – this is practically an epidemic. Because there are so many photographers willing to shoot for peanuts because they think it’s “exciting”, more and more companies will try to lowball you for jobs. DON’T LET THEM. Know what your rates should be, and if you don’t – get FotoQuote or get out of shooting commercial projects.

14. I used to pay A LOT of attention to my local competition.

So much so that I could tell you what hex code they used on the text on the footer of their blog. In other words, too much attention. I still think that a knowledge of your local market is smart for ANY business, I think photographers can get wrapped up in each other way too easily. When you look at another photographer’s site, there’s just no way to be objective. You are always going to find locations that are cooler, shots that are better, prices that are lower. It did me no good to get tied up in knots about stuff like that, and it didn’t inspire me to be a better photographer. More like a bitter photographer.

15. Studio Envy.

I will admit that I still get studio envy every so often, have you SEEN Danna’s? I’d love to be able to not have to drive all over creation to get to a session, I’d love to have that professionalism that comes with having a space. However, with money being important to me and the lease prices being crazy expensive in Calgary (about 3K a month for 1000sqft, not including insurance, electricity, utilities, parking, furnishings, etc) it just doesn’t make a lot of financial sense for me to do it. Yes, I could take more sessions, and yes, my sales would be higher with the in-person ordering. At the moment though, with my youngest daughter still two years away from school, I don’t have the time to devote to being there. It’s just a financial risk that I am not willing to take right now. I am more about keeping the money for awesome vacations than paying “the man” every month.

16. Overexposing in my processing.

I went through a phase for about a year, where everything I did was SO FREAKING BRIGHT. I have no idea why, except at the time I thought it was awesome. I took some shots of my Filipino friends, and after I processed them, they looked more caucasian than I do! Bright, light skin doesn’t look natural, and while it is a look, it’s not one that I am going for anymore.

17. Underexposing in my shooting.

What the heck was I doing for awhile there where all my images were so dark in-camera? Maybe that’s why I was over-processing them later. All my images for a period were underexposed by at least a stop, requiring me to adjust exposure later in RAW and introduce more noise to the image. Now I tend to overexpose slightly if anything, because an overexposed RAW file is much easier to recover and process than an underexposed one.

18. Message boards.

I still visit some photography forums, but I don’t devote the hours upon hours that I used to. Forums like ILP and Props can have a wealth of knowledge, but also a wealth of other stuff that will suck away your time. Maybe it’s because I don’t have as much to learn, but I don’t spend a lot of time on forums anymore, which makes me a lot more productive. If you can keep your participation to a level where it’s not damaging your overall time management, then have at ‘er. Just know what threads are worthwhile. And make sure you try to keep giving back what you get.

19. Believing the hype.

I used to get sucked into believing pretty much everything I heard. A photographer with an average sale of 13K. Someone who was traveling all over the world to shoot babies. Someone who is so freaking awesome that you pale in comparison. Just remember that we all try to make ourselves look great, it’s good PR. We all want to look cooler than we are, busier than we are, more successful than we are. So if you’re told that your “frenemy” just booked 15 NBA triplet sessions for next week, just smile and wink. Who knows? Your next blog post of the amazing home and kids with designer duds may just be of your sister-in-law that you begged to let you shoot her family for free so you could put it on your site. I won’t tell if you won’t.

20. Feeling guilty.

I actually feel that guilt is a pretty wasted emotion. You made a mistake, learn from it and move on. Your guilt isn’t helping anyone. For reals.

21. Not backing up properly.

“I’m not a wedding photographer” I said. “I can go back and do a reshoot” I thought. Fine, maybe you can. But do you WANT to? I’d much rather spend the extra 10 minutes making an extra backup than the hours of a reshoot and re-edit. Oh my gosh, the stress of trying to recover images. Now I back-up my computer with Time Machine, with BackBlaze online, with an external hard-drive AND with DVDs. Excessive? Maybe. Safe? Definitely.

22. Getting rid of files.

I tell my clients that I keep ordered files for one year. I had a client from 3 years prior want to purchase her digital files and I only had one copy of them, and it was on a busted hard drive. Bummer to lose out on that sale. But hurrah, I also had it on disc! If I had tossed those files to save “room” (and COME ON, how much room does it take to save the files?) I wouldn’t have that extra money in my pocket. Now I try to save everything. It’s like free money sometimes.

23. Being too much of a fluffier.

Tissue paper, fancy cards, expensive things sent to the clients before they pay me a dime. I know this works for other people and that is awesome. I get the whole “boutique” studio thing. I however, want money. Cold hard cash, and I want to keep my bottom line as low as possible. So I carefully research what products give me the best look to match my branding, and discard the rest. I still have a lot of cool packaging and products, but I’m also as green as possible – making killer .pdfs to send instead of fancy triple tri-folded welcome cards. I still have a case of tiny silver tins that I thought would be great for wallets, but they are actually too small because I didn’t bother to match the measurements. Any ideas?

24. Listening to my husband.

He’s a smart guy, maybe almost as smart as me. He owns a company. He runs a business. But he has no stinking idea about MY business. Don’t get me wrong, he gives me lots of good advice. Lots of common sense advice. But he never really can give me specific advice or ideas about this biz, because he’s #1 – not in it, and #2 – not a woman and not a mom. Before you yell at me for being sexist, think about who your clients are. If they are not overwhelmingly women, you are tricking me and not actually a baby photographer. Because the people we are targeting are moms, are women. And last I checked, my husband was neither. He just doesn’t think like women do, men tend to think with their heads while women think with their hearts. So while his advice and ideas are always practical, they are never emotional – and that’s what we need to tap into to succeed in this particular business.

25. Not sharing and not caring.

I am not a private person. I have a big blabbermouth and I love to talk. Back when I was still listening to him, my husband was constantly telling me to stop telling my photog friends (online and in real life) all the awesome things I was doing. That I needed to keep it to myself, or someone would come along and steal it. And guess what, people HAVE come along and stolen stuff. And I got bent out of shape, I got really mad, I even once yelled at someone on the phone. Gross. Being afraid of sharing, being afraid of friends and being afraid of people in general is not how I want to live my life. AT ALL. So now I share, and I share as much as I can. This blog, and the mentoring we’ve been doing has been such a gift to me. I love thinking up all the things I can share, and I love seeing other photographers grow. And now no one can steal anything from me. Because I give it all away and that’s MY choice.

Thank you Brandy for letting us share your honest wisdom, and Caitlin Domanico for sharing the original post on Facebook and making this one possible!

Member Spotlight: Maria Mack

17 Nov

Maria Mack
Maria Mack Photography
Weddings, Portraits and boudoir
Website: http://mariamackphotography.com/
Blog: blog.mariamackphotography.com

Are you a morning or evening person? Evening!! Although ever since I had two kids they keep making me get up in the morning!

Coffee or tea? Coffee, and lots of it!

Something that’s overrated: Long strolls along the beach! Just kidding…what isn’t overrated! Everything is overrated.

Something that’s underrated: Customer Service. I can’t stand dealing with companies that don’t get the meaning of good customer service and the effect that it has.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Cheese….Brie, goat, Feta, Cheddar…the list goes on!

Website/blog(s) you visit daily: Facebook, pinterest, and different bridal blogs…style me pretty, elizabeth ann designs, wedding chicks, ruffled. I think it’s really important to stay visually inspired everyday.

Who is the photographer that inspires you most? Right now I have three, Elizabeth Messina, Stephanie Williams and Jose Villa. But if I had to pick one, I would say Stephanie Williams from thismodernromance.com.
There is a certain mood and softness in her work that I absolutely love!

Tell us about your very first shoot: My first official wedding was my husbands best friends wedding. Which I shot in film, I didn’t have the right lens for when we were in low light situations, so a lot of the images where grainy from using high speed film to compensate. Overall I guess it came out OK.

What is the one thing in your bag you would throw yourself in front of a speeding train for? Although I am fully insured I might still be tempted if it was my 85mm f1.4. she’s my favorite!

I am passionate about: My kids, the love of my life Ray, my work, friends, family, keeping my clients happy, trying to find balance in my everyday life.

To tweet or not to tweet: I tweet occasionally.

What are the top 5 things on your “photographer’s wish list”?

-Nikon 70-200mm f2.8

-another full frame body

-finding more time to spend on branding

-being able to afford a studio manager

-as a mother, balancing work and home time

What do you find most difficult about being a photographer?
My constant need for my next shoot to be better than my previous one. I really struggle with this. I like pre visualizing a shoot and having a game plan beforehand, but there’s times when I have to let go and realize that I can’t control everything.

What do you find most rewarding?
The reaction I get from some of my boudoir clients, although most of the time the session is for their significant other, it’s very rewarding to know that I made a client feel beautiful! I even had a client that was separated from her husband, get back together, after he saw the images from her session.

For my wedding clients I realize time and time again what an honor it is for me to capture one of the most important days of their life. I feel blessed to being doing what I truly love (full time). It took me years to figure out what area of photography I would enjoy the most, at times I find myself tearing up during a ceremony! That is how I know that I am addicted to shooting weddings!

2012: The Year of the Belly! – Guest Blogger Sarah Schulte

15 Nov

As I sat in my chair with a sleeping newborn in my lap, my mind raced…I needed something to distract me.  It was winter, wedding season was over and the next season wouldn’t kick into high gear for another couple of months.  I was caught up on albums, edits and (gasp!) even my marketing.  Maybe, just maybe, it was time to do a project for ME!  Something that would get my creative juices flowing, that had nothing to do with weddings, and that could refresh my mom brain just in time for me to go back to work.  When I was still pregnant, John (my husband) had painted my big belly up like a Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween.  It was cute, it got lots of comments on Facebook…it must be cool…wouldn’t it be fun to paint other pregnant bellies?  Surely, John wouldn’t mind it if I volunteered his services…and I bet pregnant moms would jump at the chance to jazz up their bellies.  I could take a snap when they were done, keeping the elements as uniform as possible, and find a way to display them.

How to display them?  I sure didn’t want to do all this work just to leave them on the computer…how about 12 bellies, 12 months – a calendar!  What a cute gift that would make…I could sell them and give the money to a charity!  I  wanted a charity that was uplifting, joyful, and for children.  I chose Little Smiles because I love what they do for children…bringing smiles to the faces of kids in local hospitals, shelter and hospices.  They remind kids to be kids.  I had donated several sessions to their Little Smiles Ball Silent Auction in the past, and it was an important organization to several of my clients.

All that in the span of one nap…and now, almost one year later, the calendar is done!  I didn’t think it would ever get finished…waiting for bellies to be the right size, for John to be available, for the expecting moms to be available…but we made it and I am so excited and beyond thrilled with how they came out.  If you want to purchase on of these bad boys, send an email to calendar@sarahschulte.com.  Please include your full name and mailing address and specify if you would like to pay by check or through PayPal.  Orders will be collected and invoices will be emailed out on a first-come, first-serve basis until the calendars are gone!  Calendars are $31.50 (includes tax and US Postage) each and should arrive in time for the holidays.  I’ll be taking orders through the month of November, and $10 of each calendar sale will go to the Little Smiles Organization.

Sarah Schulte is the owner of Sarah Schulte Photography and is a proud member of the Photo Betties Network.

Snap to It: “Fall” Submissions

15 Nov

Noelle Andrews

Melania Shertzer

Benjamin James

Amanda Young

William Ohl

Kelly Wilson

Cindi Jones

Brianna Saban

Monique Duke

Brittany Ostrov

Dawn Stephens

Heather DiPiazza

Abbey Bradshaw

Jenna Walcott

Thank you to all who submitted a picture that shows what fall means to you! Everyone sees the world around us a bit differently and we wanted to capture that in this series. The images from our contributors offered a wide range of interpretations from fall foliage to Halloween to the delicious foods that fall brings with it. We were looking for inspiring images and you definitely delivered!

Hope you enjoyed our tribute to Fall! A new Snap to It! will be announced soon!

Becoming Women of Heart: Art for a Cause Recap!

10 Nov

Last Tuesday, the Photo Betties partook in an amazing event, one that inspired 13 Philadelphia area artists to create and donate a body of work to turn art into hope for thousands of families across the  area who are struggling with Cancer: Women of Heart: Becoming Art for a Cause. While it took the help of many to bring this dream to life,  no one worked harder than Katie Bradford Obsbourne, the founder of Women of Heart – who dreamed up this amazing idea in order to honor the memory of her father – another victim of Cancer. Katie not only created the idea for the cause and carried it through to success, but she inspired over a dozen other artists to follow her lead and submit some beautiful work that went on display on November 2nd at Studio 5 in Philadelphia.

A concept born from the grief of losing someone so dear to her, Katie wanted to find a way to use her art to flip sadness on it’s head and create a movement that would not only help heal those wounds, but would help others who are now battling the disease. “I think the thing I’m most proud of is giving myself a chance to have good memories that day by doing something. Instead of making a day that was HIS- his 60th birthday- about me and my grief. Or about grief at all! A birthday is a celebration of life, and I certainly celebrate that he was here for almost 57 years”. And so the gallery was filled with amazing pieces of her work and many others, and after months of determination and commitment, Women of Heart came to life. “There was a moment I’ll never forget when everything was up, and I stopped and just looked at it all. I could feel my dad saying, ‘I’m really proud of you, Sugar,’ and it just hit me that I really made it happen.”

Along with Katie’s body of work, juried pieces from Catherine Bogart-Rome, Brendan Burke, Caitlin Domanico Katherine Fraser, Brittany Koch, Patty Kropp, Helen Orombi, Jennifer Osborne, Alix Passage, Jenna Walcott, and  Christie Young displayed their work throughout the gallery and musical artist Matthew-Billy Williams of Williamsboy Band performed soulful sets of acoustic guitar that created the perfect atmosphere for the crowd. The event drew over 60 people to North Philadelphia to view the works and purchase and donate for the cause, The Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia.

Katie featured two main bodies of work for the event, The Women of Heart Series and Mixed Media. “My Portrait of a Woman program is my passion, and this is exactly why. These are all regular women who put aside their insecurities to ‘become art for a cause,'” speaks Katie about the Women of Heart Series, “and mixed media is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I’ve always been fascinated with it- it’s a different way of thinking when your photograph is the jumping point instead of the finished product. I played with alternative printing techniques, interesting materials such as tissue paper, and LOTS of black acrylic paint! The end result is something I am truly proud of as an artist- these pieces really reflect me- who I am and where I’ve been”.

Totals from donations are still being calculated, but regardless of the number there is no question that this event was a true success and marks only the first of many of it’s kind. “Now that the event is behind me I’ve had a chance to think about where I would like to see it going, and I know for sure that it’s not over! It’s a little up in the air where I’ll be this time next year, but wherever I go, I can certainly see Women of Heart following me. I am SO passionate about this cause – being able to, in some way, do my part to help others whose lives have been affected by Cancer and also give other artists a way to do that, too.”

Donations can still be made in the name of Women of Heart toward the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia. Contact Katie for information on how you can contribute or get involved.

Marketing Mojo with Two Bright Lights

4 Nov

Images courtesy of Jessica Claire Photography

A few months ago a good friend and fellow Betty Susannah Gill, told me about Two Bright Lights, an online service which offers image sharing, networking and analytics to help wedding business’ improve their marketing. They offer a free 30-day trial, so I thought I’d give it a try – and I have to say, I was very happy with the results!

In just three weeks of submitting to a half dozen blogs, four were approved! You can submit weddings, engagement sessions, portraits and styled shoots – when you login you check out what their Editorial Partners are looking for and submit in a few quick and simple steps. There are blogs you’ll know well, others that are pleasant surprises; certainly something for everyone. Here’s a sampling:

FREE Bootcamp

For those of you in the Philadelphia area next Wednesday night, Two Bright Lights is offering a FREE Bootcamp hosted by one of their recent Philly transplants, Shalyn Hockey. Some details from their email invite:

What: A fantastic chance to learn about Two Bright Lights as well as mix and mingle with your fellow industry colleagues from the area.

When: November 9, 2011 | 7-9 pm

Where: Locust on the Park at 201 S. 25th St, Philadelphia, PA (In Center City a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square)

RSVP: The event is FREE, but space is limited so you must RSVP to attend.

Questions? Call Shalyn Hockey at 805-975-2932 or email shalyn@twobrightlights.com

Member Spotlight: Laura Pensack

3 Nov

Laura Pensack
Laurajane Photography
Weddings, Portraits (High school senior portraits are my favorite!)
Website: www.laurajanephotography.virb.com
Blog: www.laurajanephotographypa.blogspot.com

Are you a morning or evening person? Afternoon. It’s hard to get me to accomplish much before noon, and once 9pm hits I just want to lounge around. I’m definitely the most productive between 2pm and 8pm.

Coffee or tea? Most definitely tea. Peppermint, earl grey, and irish breakfast are my favorites.

Something that’s overrated: Getting a college degree to be considered a smart and successful member of society. I’m such a rebel.

Something that’s underrated: Taking the time to put together an outfit, put on makeup, and doing your hair every day even if you know you’ll just be home editing pictures all day.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Potato chips are my weakness.

Website/blog(s) you visit daily: Facebook is pretty much what I view daily, but that does leave me wandering around to various photographers’ work, which usually leads me to Katelyn James’ blog because she updates almost daily. Oh and who can forget Pinterest!

Who is the photographer that inspires you most? Right now I’m really inspired by the work that Stephanie Williams does for the clothing website Ruche. But in general I’m very inspired by Sarah Danaher of Ampersand Photography. She has been such an encourager to me through out this whole photography journey. She invited me along to second shoot a wedding with her even when she only knew me as someone who commented on her blog. She hosted a workshop in D.C. with the super awesome Rebekah Murray that taught me so much about photography and life. And she continues to speak truth into my life when everything in me says I should give up.

Tell us about your very first shoot: Well I’ve been doing “shoots” my whole life, starting from setting up my American Girl dolls with props and outfits and whatnot to create my own American Girl catalogues (even though I only ever got as far as the photos). But my first official paid photo shoot was with a family that found me through my parent’s church. I had never met them and I was terrified, I made my mom come along with me because at that time I still had terrible people skills. There were maybe 20 people in this family, since it was an extended family that hadn’t all been together in the same room in about 10 years. They wanted to document that time together (talk about added pressure). I probably babbled and shook nervously way too much. But in the end I was pretty pleased with the photos and the family loved them. And now they’re still one of my most loyal clients.

What is the one thing in your bag you would throw yourself in front of a speeding train for? Well I live nowhere near any speeding trains so I don’t really have to worry about this, now do I. 🙂 Nothing I have is really worth that much risk. Maybe if there was a human life involved, that’d be a different story.

I am passionate about: Jesus. He’s my reason for everything. I couldn’t imagine not loving Him. I’m also passionate about working with teenagers, play music, and photography of course.

To tweet or not to tweet: Eh. I have it set up so every time I post a new blog it posts a link on my twitter feed. And if I’m ever watching “Secrets of a Stylist” on HGTV and need to ask Emily Henderson a question she always tweets back almost right away. She’s just awesome like that.

What are the top 5 things on your “photographer’s wish list”?

In no specific order:

1. Professional rebranding. You know the whole shebang; logo, business cards, website, blog, everything

2. A Showit website (http://showitfast.com/)

3. A 35mm 1.4 lens

4. A prop stylist, wardrobe stylist, and possibly some kind of art director to work with to make my portrait sessions absolutely gorgeous

5. And maybe a cute photographing boyfriend who turns into a cute photographing husband 😉

What do you find most difficult about being a photographer? For the longest time I had a hard time getting people to take me seriously that this is my job and not just my hobby, which probably has something to do with the fact that I started this crazy photography journey at 19, and most people assume that I’m still 17. But now I think it’s getting that stupid comparison voice out of my head. For some reason I feel like I should be in the exact same place that all the other photographers that I admire, even though they’ve been out there working on their business longer than me. Accepting that I’m where I’m supposed to be is not an easy task.

What do you find most rewarding? I love making people feel valued and beautiful, especially the teenage girls. They’re always so self conscious when we start shooting and then by the end they turn into little models. Then they get so excited when I post their photos for them to see and they plaster them all over Facebook. One girl told me that she had no idea that she was that pretty. I just love that.

Snap to It: October Deadline Extended

20 Oct

It’s been a busy month for Betties near and far, so we’re extending the submission deadline for the October “Snap to It” until Halloween!

This Month’s Theme: Fall

Back to school, changing leaves, hustle and bustle, family gatherings… We want to see what this crisp, lovely season means to you! There are no requirements to participate; everyone’s welcome to submit.

Please send your autumnal-inspired photo (from your iPhone, iPad, Droid, point-and-shoot, dSLR, old school SLR, pinhole camera – your choice!) to snaptoit@phillyphotobetties.com by Monday, October 31, 2011. Please size images to 600 pixels on the long edge. Don’t forget to include a URL for your blog OR website.

C’mon Betties… Snap To It!

Member Spotlight: Christina Campbell

6 Oct

Christina Campbell
Nina Lily Photography
Wedding / Fine Art Photography
Website: www.ninalilyphotography.com
Blog: www.ninalilyphotography.blogspot.com

Are you a morning or evening person? Evening. Always evening. I put my camera down after college and had a beautiful romance with bartending for a few years. Things have changed a bit since starting my company and my hours have shifted to those of a day walker but I still enjoy lounging in the morning, enjoying my garden for an hour or so and then getting down to business. I tell my clients in advance to expect late night emails!

Coffee or tea? Coffee! Coffee. Black. Lots.

Something that’s overrated: Being a morning person.

Something that’s underrated: Facetime. Social networking has really helped me out but there is nothing like one on one interaction with potential clients. I still get butterflies and hate talking on the phone… but nothing beats making those personal connections.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Mac n’ Cheese! Anytime… anywhere.

Website/blog(s) you visit daily: Check out Junebug Weddings. Endless inspiration.

Who is the photographer that inspires you most? Yikes! I am traditionally biased towards female photographers because I admire the women who can find that elusive balance between art, work & life. But right now Sean Flannigan inspires me. I really appreciate his seamless approach. I’ve also been known to check out Erik Clausen’s work.

Tell us about your very first shoot: Nothing to see here folks! I had many growing pains on the road to becoming a wedding photographer. However, my first” shoot” took place circa 1989. I took my little hot pink point and shoot out and made my 7 year old sister model for me in her swimsuit in front of my Dad’s classic car. I can’t believe that my Mom actually developed that roll of film! However, the photos are still epic.

What is the one thing in your bag you would throw yourself in front of a speeding train for? Not worth it. I’m insured and my cards are always safely stowed away in my pocket!

I am passionate about: Family. Everything vintage. Vintage family members?

To tweet or not to tweet: My Facebook page tweets for me.

What are the top 5 things on your “photographer’s wish list”?
1. My husband to suddenly want to be the other half of my (imaginary) wife/husband super team!
2. Re-branding including a custom website & blog.
3. An office manager to get me organized. (All I want to do is shoot!)
4. New camera body.
5. 85mm, 1.8 lens.

What do you find most difficult about being a photographer? Balance. Finding the balance between delivering a wonderful experience for my clients and living a wonderful experience in my own life can be daunting.

What do you find most rewarding? I am forever grateful to my clients for allowing me to share in the special, intimate and awesome moments that define their lives. Being a documentarian comes with responsibility that can be overwhelming but having the opportunity to experience the trust that these people have in my artistic vision drives me to be better with every moment. The most rewarding aspect of being a professional photographer is experiencing the support that I have from family & friends & clients who become friends.