Tag Archives: personal projects

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!

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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!

Snap to It!

4 Oct

Hi Betties! Abbey here. I’d like to introduce to you a new monthly post we’re starting here at Photo Betties that we loving call “Snap to It!”

We each perceive the world differently through our lenses – and I personally love to see how others interpret the world around them. The idea behind “Snap to It!” is to showcase our work for pure enjoyment and inspiration, and to celebrate our different interpretations and creativity! There are no requirements to participate; everyone is welcome to submit.

How Does “Snap to It” Work?

Each month we’ll post a theme and open call for submissions to all you photographers out there. You can send one photo that you think best represents your interpretation of the theme. You can use images from past or present, but they need to be your photos which you personally shot and own rights to (and have permission to display publicly). There will be a two week deadline for submissions, and at the end of the month we’ll display the images on the Photo Betties website.

This Month’s Theme: Fall

Since the weather is turning cool I thought the perfect theme for our first Snap to It! would be “fall”. Let’s see what this crisp, lovely season means to each of us. To kick things off, here’s my interpretation of this month’s theme…what’s YOURS?

Send your submissions to snaptoit@phillyphotobetties.com by Friday, October 21st, 2012. 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!

Women of Heart: Becoming Art for a Cause

12 Sep

Hi, Betties! At the request of Jenna and Heather, I wanted to share with you an upcoming charity event that I’m organizing called Women of Heart! I hope you’ll want to get involved in making it a HUGE success for a great cause!

What Women of Heart is All About

Portrait of a Woman: Women of Heart is a series that I will be offering this September and October, culminating in a gallery event on Wednesday, November 2. A portrait from each session will be displayed, alongside other art submitted by the art community here in Philadelphia. (Read: You guys! You’re part of the art community!)

This is going to be a fantastic event! Yummy food! Live entertainment! Lots of friends and family and ART! And all the profits from each mini session, along with portrait sales during the gallery event, will be going Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia, an amazing organization dedicated to providing support and education for those whose lives are affected by cancer.

How Women of Heart Got Started

One day in July, I did a little math and realized that November 2, 2011 would have been my father’s 60th birthday had we not lost him to cancer 3 years ago. If I thought that my family was the only family affected by cancer, I might have resigned myself to spending the day moping – but cancer is bigger than that. And my father’s memory is bigger than that! So mixing what I do with a desire to honor what would have been a special day for a really amazing man, Women of Heart was born. I wanted to use my best talents (my Portrait of a Woman program) to do what I can to help other people who are also being affected by cancer.

In that spirit, Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia was the perfect organiation to benefit with this effort!  Some of the kindest people I have met since moving to Philadelphia are part of the CSCP, and they do amazing things for so many families affected by this disease. I am excited and honored to be able to donate the profits from Women of Heart to their organization!

So, What Can You Do?

1. Schedule a shoot!

Become the art of Women of Heart – and schedule a shoot with me. Book quickly, because time slots are filling up fast!

2. Submit your own art!

You're welcome to submit anything that lies within your own idea of what "Women of Heart" could possibly mean. You don't need to be a fine art photographer – take this as an opportunity to reach outside of your comfort zone and do something different and awesome that you'll be proud to have on your wall! Dream up a picture in your mind that you are dying to create – even if you think you're not 'good enough.' Find the model (let me know if you need any help with that – a good place to start is somewhere like Model Mayhem), choose the location, and set up the whole thing. Just see where your imagination takes you! You can find the full submission guidelines here.

3. Attend Women of Heart!

Your participation and presence at the culmination event is priceless – bring your friends, your loved ones, those you know may have been affected by Cancer and give them a way to take action. Remember, each gallery purchase is funds toward the cause – so help us fill the gallery with kind hearts and art lovers!

4. Help me spread the word!

My Portrait of a Woman effort is brand new, and with this being the first year for Women of Heart, I am definitely in need of some serious help with marketing! Please like and share Women of Heart’s Facebook page, mention the effort on Twitter and word of mouth, and contact me with any ideas you have about where to place flyers or cards! I’m dedicated to making this an amazing event to support the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia; any ideas, Facebook posts, tweets and retweets, or plain old screaming from the rooftops will be incredibly appreciated!

Photos for Good: Part 1

2 Sep

The first time I watched Born Into Brothels, I had the immediate urge to pack my bags, jump on a plane, and help out in some faraway place. (I’m pretty sure many other photographers out there did too.) The reality, though, is you don’t have to fly around the world to make a difference.

There’s been a lot of buzz and recent Photo Betties posts about photography-marrying-philanthrophy, so we decided to dedicate this one to getting involved with current charity organizations. We’ll be following up with Part 2 which will cover locating existing opportunities, as well as tips on finding and creating your own projects.

Volunteer Photography Organizations

Started by Kristin Weaver, an internationally published fashion and wedding photographer, Images for a Cure is an annual event held each fall (usually October, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month) promoting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, their beneficiary charity. Photographer registration is from August to September – and each participating photographer is encouraged to set their own session dates, plans and pricing – and donate 100% of their session fees to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, via their FirstGiving page.


Wish Upon a Wedding, which we posted about in April, is the world’s first non-profit wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. They work with all types of wedding vendors in addition to photographers, including planners, venues, caterers, rental companies, videographers, bakers, officiants, florists, stationary designers, DJs/bands/musicians, salons, transportation companies, and more. With 18 chapters around the country (and 10 more coming soon), you can help out in many ways – volunteering your skills, financial donations, hosting a fundraiser and more!

Operation Love Reunited, or as many call them “OpLove”, is a non-profit organization that assigns photographers to families with loved ones getting ready to deploy, are currently deployed, or are coming home. The participating family chooses a photographer and up to two sessions per year. The photographer volunteers their services for the session(s), a 4×6 album for the service member, and a CD of images from the homecoming. If you’d like to volunteer check out the blog which is filled with information and inspiring photography from OpLove sessions.


Flashes of Hope is a national, nonprofit organization that “changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography.” They transform hospital playrooms, waiting areas and even hallways into studios, and photograph children solo, then with their family and loved ones. Photos are delivered as enlargements, prints and on disc, all free of charge. “It’s an indescribable treasure that forever preserves the grace, dignity and beauty of each child.” To maintain the highest ethical and professional standards in the industry, they work primarily with published and commercial photographers, as well as members of The American Society of Media Photographers. If you fit the bill, you can apply as a photographer or, if you want to help in other ways, you can still be part of this amazing organization as a general volunteer, or with a donation.

PhotoPhilanthropy helps to connect, shed light on and reward connections between photographers and non-profit organizations around the world to tell stories that drive action for social change.” Great photography helps inform, educate and inspire volunteers to act, donors and grant-makers to give, people to push for new policies, and to give those who are not heard, or seen, a voice. In addition to helping facilitate Volunteer Connections, they also give annual Activist Awards for winning photo essays, Student Production Grants (which include financial, promotional and supportive assistance), promote Artist Residencies and Workshops, and have a great blog which they update often with inspiring imagery and stories from around the world. It’s no wonder their goal is to “Change the world, one photo at a time!”

Credit: PhotoPhilanthropy 2010 Grand Prize Winner - Josh Meltzer

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) volunteers offer “gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner” to families who have suffered the loss of an infant. “The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives.” They are always looking to recruit volunteers for their database to be on call to offer Remembrance Photography Services to be on call when needed, as these sessions are sudden and require quick response. If you’re interested you can sign up to volunteer as a photographer, assistant photographer or digital retouch artist – as well as read volunteer articles for background and advice.

Founded by Celebrity Photographer, Jeremy Cowart, Help Portrait is a grassroots movement of photographers giving their time, gear and expertise to offer portraits to those in need. The idea is simple, powerful and global.

Each December, this year on 12/10/11, photographers will sign-up online, create or join teams, and offer portraits to those who wouldn’t normally have access to, or be able to afford, professional photography. People like the homeless, orphans, single-parent families, people of ill health, the elderly, veterans and more. It’s the chance to not just take a photo, but give a photo.

Tiny Sparrow is a non-profit organization who helps provide photography to families with children who are facing life threatening illnesses. Their volunteer photographers provide a session as well as a beautiful album to “carry the love, joy and everlasting memory of each individual family.” Currently located in Texas, but with a goal of expanding in 2011, Tiny Sparrow also accepts donations through PayPal.

Images of Hope is a non-profit organization that brings awareness to childhood cancers and illnesses by offering free portrait sessions to children and families dealing with cancer. Their purpose it two fold. First, to capture timeless moments that will last a lifetime for the families, and second, to spread awareness. Founder, Jessica Oatman, whose son, Montana, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age two, looks at photography as “a great outlet and a wonderful way to document his journey.” Looking back through the photographs has helped them “realize what we have really been through.”

With an artist list of that spans continents, Heart Speaks photographers worldwide are committed to stopping the unnecessary euthanization of adoptable animals. Their goal is to increase the numbers of adopted animals in shelters by just 3%, and give rescue animals safe, loving homes. The power of a image can speak volumes, so Heart Speaks connects artists with shelters and animal relief organizations to effect social change and better the lives of humans and people alike.

Pictures of Hope is a charitable organization of professional photographers who provide complimentary, documentary-style, photography sessions to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and their families.  Members are professional, established photographers (many of whom are “NICU mothers” themselves) who hail from across the United States and Canada and are dedicated to donating their time to a cause they believe in, and sharing the gift of photography with families in need.

It’s also important to note that bereavement photography is not their focus. While photographers may be asked to photograph a bereavement session, services are generally geared to babies in the NICU at any point during their stay (not just those terminally ill) which could mean a 27 week preemie or a NICU graduate about to go home. There are specific requirements for membership which are listed here.

Started in 2008 by Felicia Reinhard, Inspiration Through Art (formerly called The Littlest Heroes Project) is made up of professional photographers, artists, children and other volunteers across the world who provide a variety of programs and services to children who are fighting serious illnesses and/or life-altering disabilities. Sessions can be home-based, at benefits and fundraisers, or hospitals or clinic visits, and are specially catered to each little hero. Services include photography, but they also also offer special programs and fun art-related sessions as well. They also have a comprehensive list of partners, other organizations who need volunteers and worthwhile vendors.

The Tiny Light is a Canadian-based, female-run organization that connects member photographers with children and families that have been faced with a life altering diagnoses. Applicants must be professional photographers with a client base as well as a online portfolio, willing to donate their time and talent as well as a disk of ALL high resolution images from the session. Families who are accepted receive these portrait sessions free of charge. Their current list of photographers includes only Canadian-based photographers – but the application does not say whether or not that is a prerequisite for membership. If you’re passionate about joining the cause – get in touch!

Dog Meets World, at first mention, sounds like an animal-based charity, right? In fact, the “Dog” is a sweet stuffed puppy who helps their photographers to spread joy and smiles. Their mission is to give children and families in developing countries personal photographs, often for the first time. DMW seeks to change the way people travel by creating positive cross-cultural interactions and rather than simply taking pictures, to give them as well. Travelers bring along a digital camera, a portable printer and the stuffed Foto mascot dog to photograph children and practice Take & Give Photography! DMW believes with simply sharing a photo, photographers can practice ground-level diplomacy and voluntourism for all travelers.

Celebrating Adoption was officially started by Jenifer Samaha in 2007, and is a national organization of photographers who donate their time to document and celebrate the love and bond of adoption. Volunteers give these sessions at no cost, and families who participate must have gone through the adoption in the past twelve months. Their member list is quite extensive… although we did learn that unfortunately, due to personal issues, they are not able to accept any additional photographers at this time. We still chose to include Celebrating Adoption in our list, however, in case you may know of families who can benefit from their services, or if it inspires you to start a similar endeavor yourself!

We’d like to give a big shout out to Shutter Mission, who we found midway through our research for this post, and helped add a few additional resources to the list. Bookmark their site – it’s filled with photo-related charity organizations as well as stories and spotlights on photographers who serve them. You can also nominate a photographer who gives back that you’d like to see featured, and there’s an extensive list of complimentary resources for photographers who donate their time and services to charity. Simple, straight-forward, informative and inspiring!

If you’ve found this post useful, have something to add or want to share it with your friends, family or fellow photos – please post, tweet, comment, share – and help us motivate others to make a difference, one shutter click at a time!

Scatter Joy! One Photographer’s Journey of Giving Back and Discovering True Happiness

1 Jul

By: Amber Shader

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of
achievement, in the thrill of creative effort” – Franklin D Roosevelt

I held my first “real” camera in the eighth grade. It was a Nikon F2 that I used while taking a summer photography class with a grade school friend at a local community center. Photography quickly became my new passion. Every weekend I looked forward to going to the community center to learn new things. Our teacher was super cool too. He rode a motorcycle, played guitar and looked just like Jerry Garcia. Every weekend, he taught us new things like how to shoot manually, how to develop film and how to do cool things with negative transfers using anything we could find like lace, bows, and big 80‘s hooped earrings.

Once the class was over at the end of summer, my parents got me my very own camera, but it was the type you had to put flash cubes on top of. I couldn’t change lenses, I couldn’t shoot manually or develop my own film anymore, so needless to say, photography didn’t stay a strong passion for me with my little flashcube Kodak camera. I didn’t start shooting again until my freshman year in college. I saved up and bought the cheapest Pentax film SLR I could find and took as many photography electives I could squeeze in while getting my degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management.

Getting back into photography during college was fun, but I never thought I could make a living as an artist. I think the character Charlotte from the movie Lost in Translation summed up the extent of my college photography experience when she said, “I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses…taking dumb pictures of your feet.” Before I knew it, I was working full time, dating my soon-to-be husband and completing my MBA in Organizational Leadership on nights and weekends. I stopped shooting completely and spent 13 years working in Corporate America, climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a Fortune 100 company, I had a great husband, a great home and plenty of disposable income to buy all the clothes, handbags and jewelry I wanted, but what I did not know at the time was that I didn’t have true happiness and was merely surrounding myself with material things things that did not matter.

It wasn’t until 2010 when a sudden car accident of one of my colleagues at work put everything into perspective. She literally drove across the street from our building to grab a coffee and another vehicle ran a red light and broadsided her. She died instantly. It wasn’t her actual death that was the lightbulb moment for me. My lightbulb moment was during her actual eulogy when people said how much she gave to the company. It was truly then that I realized I wanted to reinvent myself so I could do something I loved with my life vs. being a corporate title on an org chart.

After the funeral, I started to slow down and enjoy the little things in life more like spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading etc vs. working 60 hour work weeks. I also stumbled across an Emerson quote to “Scatter Joy!” and it became my new mantra. To me it meant and still means keeping it simple, traveling the world, finding beauty in all things, caring deeply about people and leaving the world a better place. Around the same time I stumbled across the quote, my wonderful husband encouraged me to start shooting again and he bought me a new Nikon D40 for my birthday that year. I started to get the passion back and I knew photography was what I wanted to do with my life.

I started shooting as a part time photographer on weekends and I slowly built up a client base. I also created my business model around my mantra “Scatter Joy!” and included a minimum of 12 silent auctions or charitable events a year. I started to discover the true power of photography, not just through the images I was creating but through the fact that I could give my time, talent and heart to make the world a little better. I know it sounds cliché but through giving back to the local community I discovered my true happiness. Charitable giving as a photographer also has another upside and if you have ever had the opportunity to listen to Sarah Petty or read her Joy of Marketing blog, then you know that charitable giving is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to grow your business by creating buzz. I am living proof of that too because I was able to make the leap from part time weekend photographer to full time professional photographer largely because of my mantra to Scatter Joy!

So how can this mantra work for you and your business? Here is some advice (in no particular order) that worked for me:

• Decide what you can afford to give in terms of your time, resources, services, products etc. and build that into your business plan. Giving away your time and talent is still an important business decision to consider in terms of cost vs. benefit. I personally landed on a minimum of 12 events/auctions a year, but that may not work for everyone.

• Decide your philanthropic priorities. Are you passionate about charities for animals, the arts, children, the environment? My personal decision was to focus on philanthropic efforts for children and animals since I am passionate about both and love shooting both in my sessions.

• Decide if you want to work with designated national portrait charities supported by PPA or WPPI like Operation Smile, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Tiny Sparrow Foundation, etc. or create your own events and work with local groups. You can also do a hybrid of both. I personally decided to work with existing groups including The Moyer Foundation and The Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware.

• Maximize social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and blogs to highlight your charitable giving. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself and the good works you are doing. I actually had The Moyer Foundation find me via my tweets about another charitable giving event I worked on for the American Red Cross. If you don’t post it, write about it or share your beautiful images, you are not maximizing the great PR opportunity.

• I’m not promising you will be able to quit your full-time day job as soon as you start taking my advice and adding charitable events to your business model. However, what I can promise you is that you will feel more fulfilled and happy and your business will grow.

One of my most recent events was the Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware’s “Help Japan Bloom Again” event, benefiting the American Red Cross and The Moyer Foundation’s “Evening at the Ballpark” (which in turn, benefits Camp Erin and The Moyer Foundation).

We were able to raise almost $4,000 for the American Red Cross and $100,000 for Camp Erin/The Moyer Foundation! I was so proud and happy to have Amber Shader Photography contribute and be part of both of these special events.

Longer term, even though I don’t ride a motorcycle, play guitar or look like Jerry Garcia, I would love to start teaching photography classes to kids at the same local community center where my love for photography started. Hopefully I can help Scatter Joy! and share my passion for photography with the next generation of future photographers!

Meet Dawn Shields!

21 Apr

When Heather and I sat in on Dawn Shield’s presentation at WPPI, we weren’t expecting what we got. We’d heard she gave a good talk and we had the evening free. What were we expecting, you ask? A good talk from a talented photographer. What did we get? In a word: Inspiration. We laughed. We cried. We cried A LOT. We were moved. We got chills. We were amazed. And we were also stunned by how real, down to Earth and humble Dawn was after having given a talk that evoked such emotion.

Shields won the WPPI Grand for her album, Legacy, in 2010 – a chilling story about her journey discovering the true identity of her beloved grandfather. She is a living example of how cultivating and pursuing your personal photographic projects can not only catapult your career, but also your sense of self. We couldn’t wait to speak to her after her lecture and invite her to contribute to the Betty network, and we are truly honored today to share with you her “conversation” with us here in this Industry Interview.

What are your specialties?

Looking through my lens and finding the story, I try not to limit myself to being any certain “type” of photographer.

Are you a morning or an evening person?

Depends if I’m in Vegas or not.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee, cappuccino to be exact 🙂

Something that’s overrated:

The term “rockstar”.

Something that’s underrated:

Humility.

What did you have for lunch yesterday?

Sushi.

What are the blogs/websites you visit daily?

Facebook.

I am passionate about…

My children. I hope to raise them to be strong confident adults who are empathetic to others while always having their own sense of self.

To tweet or not to tweet?

Tweeting is not necessary for obtaining clients but is a fun way to stay in touch with others in our great industry.

Why did you become a photographer?

To photograph my own children. I never had intentions of owning a photography business. I am so happy that I ended up where I am though!

Tell us about your very first shoot.

All my first shoots were of family and friends, so they were happy with anything I did no matter how bad it was….love is blinding 😉

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

Success can be hard on friendships. As my success grew in the photography business it was very hard on a couple of close friendships. I wish I knew how to have made them confident that I was not “too busy” for them. It was hard watching friends I loved distancing themselves because they felt we were no longer in the same place in life. Not being a stay at home mom like them seemed to change the dynamics more than I ever thought. If you love your friends make sure to make special time for them. When you are embarking on a new journey without them, its very hard for them to not feel on the outside.

What is the secret to balancing your role as business owner and the role of mother/wife?

Being a mom and wife has to come first. I always take my kids to school and pick them up. I do not want anyone else there besides me when they need to talk about their day.

When it comes to being a wife, an evening out just being adults really helps us to connect and not to forget why we fell in love with each other so many years ago. My family is where I find my true happiness – my career is an artistic outlet that fulfills a small part of me that my family cannot.

What inspired you to create and launch Metropolitan Bride Magazine and how has it affected your photography business?

This is a hard question! I knew our area deserved and would embrace a regional publication with a “national feel”. The effect on my photography business is that I now have two jobs. So my time is not 100% dedicated to photography but also to a publication and bridal expos. That has been a change for me but I love both companies!

Personal projects are an important part of your life (Legacy, Rhema Marvanne). Can you offer a bit of advice to photogs on making time for these valuable journeys?

Do it! Its a career changing moment. You will go in a photographer and come out an artist. It is the best thing I have done for myself.

Top 5 things on your photographer’s wish list:

1. Non-stop beautiful weather
2. A self cleaning desk
3. My own personal jet (no delayed flights!)
4. To be independently wealthy so I can shoot every session for FREE!
5. Oh…and a 50mm 1.4 🙂

What is the most rewarding & what is the most difficult about being a photographer?

Most rewarding? Making people feel beautiful and happy in their own skin. When people look at images of themselves and love them, that is when I feel so good about sharing the gift of photography. The most difficult thing for me is that I’m an “in the moment” type of a person. Photography requires me to make appointments to be artistic in the future, that is a really hard thing for me. I have to find ways to get inspired because “planning” to be in that artistic place is not realistic for me.

Times they are a changin’…where do you see the wedding industry in 5 years?

Booming! People are still going to be getting married and photography has been an important part of most families lives for a very long time, I don’t see that changing now or anytime in the near future!

Love learning about Dawn? Send an email to info@phillyphotobetties.com if you want to hear her give her amazing talk here in our neighborhood!

Waxworks Photo Upcoming Workshops!

6 Apr

You may remember our Quarterly Meeting last Fall which included a demonstration by Leah MacDonald, of how they create the beautiful encaustic pieces at Wax Works Photo. In addition to working them as vendor to offer your clients their unique products, you can also learn the Mixed Media and Encaustic technique in a hands-on workshop at their studio. If you’re interested they have a few sessions coming up with limited availability:

Check Out Skip’s Summer School

31 Mar

By Heather O’Mara

Last March I woefully knew I had missed the bus on WPPI. Come May, I needed something that offered great speakers and resources at my fingertips. Something where I could get a jumpstart and find out what I was really doing right, or really doing wrong.

Then it happened – I got an email about “summer school” – Skips’ Summer School – being held in August in Las Vegas. The description, covering a wide range of photography topics such as weddings, portraiture, portfolio creation, lighting, business tips and more, was completely appealing. It was exactly was I was looking for and so much more. At the time, I did not realize the positive impact it would have on my creativity, my business and future planning.

When I returned, my head was spinning. It was very intense; back-to-back presentations beginning at 8am and concluding at 5pm. In fact, Tuesday, we came back from 6am to 8pm. Yes, intense.

So what was it that I found so uplifting, so life changing, that made me a better Heather O’Mara? Okay, maybe that’s laying it on a little thick. But here are a few highlights from some names you may recognize…

Dane Sanders

He opened it up at 8:00am – easy for east coasters. Touching on so many things, giving us a glimpse of himself and how he launched his business. He identified with so many of us in the audience, reviewing blogs for inspiration and reading additional education pieces to hone our skills. He also mentioned those late nights, when we are reading other photographers blogs with our glass off wine thinking “These people are so darn good, my images stink.” His advice? Stop, stop, stop!

Kevin Kubota

Loved him. He had such a warm, approachable energy. What struck me was how he shared his personal self-doubt (what?!) about the quality of his work. One day he said to himself, if these people can be published in a magazine with their work, “Why not me?” This is a question we need to ask ourselves. He also delivered us homework, projects that I still continue to work on, because they are not easy.

Joe Buissink

I do not know where to start with how wonderful I thought his presentation was. He spoke from to heart. For a man that has photographed the weddings of Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez and Jennie Garth – and so beautifully – he is modest. What struck me most was how he described his thought process during a wedding, which paralleled mine. Now granted, I am NO Buissink, but hey, it did make we want to buy his book. Additionally, he also added approaches to fine-tune ways to get your couples to emote.

Cliff Mautner

I loved hearing his discussion on light. Not just on shooting, but his differing observations on television as well. After bringing up the topic of Lighting used in “Mad Men,” I was hooked. As he spoke about lighting for weddings, he discussed embracing lighting and not shying away, and I have done this ever since.

Jasmine Star

I will admit it, I was a little skeptical of listening to her speak, but honestly, I am glad I had the opportunity. She had so much to share and I was able to take a great bit away.

There were other great speakers regarding business management, marketing and shooting portraits, a limited collection of outstanding vendors, and a lighting lab – an opportunity between breaks to work with Tony Corbell in hands-on demonstrations with lighting setups. I was also able to meet photographers from all over the country, which was a nice way to make contacts. This experience for me was priceless and I highly recommend it.

Interested in attending? Skip’s Summer School 2011 is set for July 31- August 3, 2011 at the MGM in Las Vegas. There is a great line up of speakers with even more hands-on training this year. So, take the time off this summer and head to the desert. You are worth the investment and your business will thank you!

Here’s a promo to give you a taste:

Skip’s Summer School from Clay Blackmore on Vimeo.

Quarterly Meeting Recap – Love Life Images

28 Mar

Photo Betties kicked off 2011 with an amazingly inspiring speaking engagement starring Jennifer Dominick and Mary Gardella at a Betty’s home in Mount Airy. The turnout was fabulous! Nearly 20 Betties gathered ’round with cookies and wine and listened to the story of their journey – or better put – the “courtship and ‘marriage’ of two talented photojournalists” and the birth of Love Life Images, a radically successful Wedding and Portrait studio in Savage, MD.

Their talk described the long history they shared together, beginning as photojournalists at The Patriot News, their reconnection nearly a decade later, their decision to pursue a studio endeavor together and all the highs and lows in between. Despite their honesty and humility about the difficulties they faced, the struggle balancing their demanding studio and home lives, and coming to terms with merging their two individual businesses they had each one of the Betties who attended feeling empowered to tackle such similar goals – seeing Jennifer and Mary’s ultimate success ignited us all with excitement and inner confidence. They absolutely embody their own brand – they even (unknowingly) came dressed in their logo colors!

Topics like work-life balance, marketing tips and business initiatives were discussed at length. Love Life Images shared some of the innovative ideas they’ve implemented to make their business truly unique:

Album Therapy: A division of their studio devoted 100% to the creative process of album design

• “A Day in the Life”: A project in which each member of the studio documents visually one full day of their lives to allow a sense of exposure and reveal among the staff – and clients are encouraged to do the same and submit their “documentaries” to the studio for recognition

Photography/Videography Bundles: Combining two treasured technologies for wedding packages to help provide a continuity in the visual documentation of the day

And even with all this momentum and their cups filled to brim with offerings and projects, that’s not all Love Life Images has their hands in. Snapshot Studio, Jennifer Dominick’s Photo Booth company, is a thriving business of it’s own. Think that’s a full plate? They also participate in instruction and teaching at The Foundation Workshop, an organization of the world’s top photojournalist wedding photographers.

If you saw the work that Love Life Images produces, the jaw-droppingly gorgeous photographs, you’d think they had every right to be pretentious. They are immensely talented. Yet, they felt just like one of the girls, absolutely warm and approachable and full of wisdom to share. The night was a tremendous success – and we are so grateful to have shared such a wonderful evening with this amazing pair of women!