Tag Archives: time

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

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FREE Online Business Workshop

6 Sep

This Friday and Saturday, September 9-10, Tamara Lackey will be holding an in-depth workshop that you can register for right here, at no cost! It’s a follow-up to her last course, The Business Whiteboard, and will cover a lot of ground. Here’s the schedule:

Day 1 – September 9th

Where We Left Off: The White Board
Why Doing it ALL Will Take You Down
Creating An Online Presence
Who Are You: Brand Culture
Marketing (That Works)
Strategy to Action: Doing the Work

Day 2 – September 10th

REAL Client Service
Money!!! Finance, Cash Flow and Profit
Get Legit: Legal Considerations
Small Shifts, Big Changes … Examine Your Attitude
Sales, Sales, Sales
Go Forth & Conquer!

Learn how to determine how potential clients currently view your business, how to subtly change these perceptions online and through word-of-mouth, marketing strategies that can help you go after the right goals, sage financial management tips – and so much more – in an easily digestible, step-by-step process. As Tamara puts it: “Turn ideas into plans, take action, and see results. This workshop is more than an overview about business. It’s how you can practically apply these principals to build a more effective and profitable company for yourself.”

Thank you fellow Photo Betty Susannah Gill for informing this post!

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!

Accounting for Photogs Recap

24 May

Accounting isn’t the sexiest part of running your own photography business; aside from equipment malfunction and extreme weather patterns, it’s more like the scariest. But last Thursday at our Quarterly Meeting, it was actually cool. Heather O’Mara helped plan the event, held at CPC Financial in King of Prussia, and hosted by Richard C. Capasso, CPA, PFS, CFP.

Rich isn’t your stereotypical accountant. He’s got a great sense of humor, is excited to advise on financial planning, and is really easy to talk to; it’s obvious after a few minutes just how passionate he is about helping small business owners (their firm has over 800 clients – all small businesses.)

It was an information-packed evening – two hours of advice that would be overwhelmingly long in a blog post, so instead, here’s a few highlights:

Money Matters:

1. No matter what type of business entity (Sole Proprietor, LLC/LLP, Corporation or “S” Corporation), set up separate bank accounts and credit cards so that everything is clearly defined as personal or business, leaving no gray area or confusion come tax time (and hopefully not: audit time).

2. At the very least, keep a checkbook, and have an income statement that shows profit/loss.

3. Remember that you need to earn roughly $1.40 to take home $1 after taxes, so pay what expenses you can before paying yourself. If you pay for something business-related on your own dime, treat it just as if you worked for another company and create an expense report before reimbursing yourself.

4. If you pay any one person more than $600 aggregate in one calendar year, you must send them a 1099. If not, and you are caught, you’ll lose the deduction on your return and be subject to a fine of $1,000-$10,000.

5. There’s no benefit to keeping extra funds in your business account. When there’s excess, distribute funds to your personal account to avoid any gray areas. And be sure to set aside 30% of that amount for income tax.

Deductions:*

6. If you claim a home office on your taxes, it must be a space reserved only for business, not an office/playroom, office/dining room, office/bedroom, etc. And if you’re claiming a studio, you’ll need a separate entrance into the space from the outside. Once you figure out what percentage of the home your office occupies, you can also calculate that percentage of your utilities, mortgage and possibly even your landscaping.

7. Health insurance premiums can be deducted from your tax return, as well as portions of your internet and cell phone bills (not included in the home office deduction).

8. When traveling, log your mileage – which is currently 50.5¢/mile and includes depreciation on your vehicle, insurance, and gas. (Second shooters and assistants who are traveling separately can also claim their mileage.) Only claim your vehicle if more than 50% of the mileage is used for business purposes total.

9. Charitable donations are NOT deductible – only the cost of goods (your vendor’s, not your mark up) for items gift (for example a canvas print, album, etc).

10. Don’t get wrapped-up in the idea of deductibility, or make purchases simply because they are a tax deduction. Everything should make good business and investment sense.

* Remember that if your company has a loss for the year, you can’t claim many expenses, including a home office or new equipment. You may, however, be able to extend and still claim some deductions the following year – check with your tax preparer or accountant to find out more.

If you’re interested in speaking with Rich about financial planning for your own business, or to get a business started, contact him by email at rich@cpcfinancial.com or call 610-265-4122.

Want to help out, organize, host or assist with an event? Give us a shout at info@phillyphotobetties.com.

Tech Tuesday: iPhone App Love

26 Apr

Aside from my gear – the most helpful tool I have with me is my iPhone. And I’m constantly searching for helpful apps that will make me do my job better, smarter and more efficiently.

The problem is when you google “photography app” you get all kinds of fun, iPhone camera specific stuff like Hipstamatic or Instagram, and tools to tweak or edit your iPhone photos, but there’s very little out there that’s geared towards professional photographers. So… I thought I’d share my list of favorites to start a conversation. And if anyone out there has more – please comment and share the love!

Sunrise Sunset Lite: FREE!*

Great for when a client has me on the phone and wants to schedule a portrait 7 months from now. I can quickly search the location and date and viola! I know when sunrise and sunset will be – in less than a minute. Then I can pick the perfect time so I know I have lovely light.

Pocket Scout Lite: FREE!*

No more emailing iPhone pics with addresses to remember a great spot. Pocket Scout to the rescue! This wünderkind lets you snap a photo and automatically grabs a GPS location and street address, lets you enter a name/title, add notes, share with ease, and even gives you directions back when you’re ready to visit.

The only thing I wish it had was a map view of locations closest to where I am (rather than a line list of each). Still, a great resource and tool!

Dragon Dictation: FREE!

Press. Speak. Send.

That’s the simple tagline for Dragon Dictation and it’s spot on! I find this voice-to-text tool incredibly helpful for car rides when inspiration hits, or at a wedding when I want to remember specific details like the story behind the bride’s dress or the best man’s witty joke.

There sometimes are slight errors – punctuation drops out for me at times – so make sure to proof before copy/pasting. You can also push to Twitter, Facebook, email and SMS.

TeuxDeux: $2.99

If you haven’t read it, The Design of Everyday Things is an amazing book, about how you experience and interact with, well, everyday things – and why we naturally like those that are better designed; they feel right and make sense.

This is why I love TeuxDeux.

Smart design, intuitive interface and simple function. It actually makes me excited to view my lists and start knockin’ things out. I tried other apps that were OK, but this one is just so lovely!

TripAdvisor: FREE!

OK, so it’s a travel app, not really a photography-focused app, but it’s fantastic. User-generated reviews about restaurants, hotels, sights, anywhere you want to go.

Booking a hotel for a gig that’s overnight, but aren’t sure which mid-range hotel kayak.com served up is best? Want to stop for a bite or coffee before a session but don’t know the area well? Trip advisor’s got your back.

Worldwide reach. 28 languages. Real reviews, photos and ratings. Need I say more?


*Upgraded paid and/or pro versions available with more fancy features

What are your favorite apps? iPhone, Blackberry, Droid… don’t be shy! And if you have some cool ideas to share that are Tech Tuesday worthy, give us a shout! Email info@phillyphotobetties.com and send us details. We’d love to hear from you!

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!

Photographer Needed for Charity Event

20 Apr

A volunteer photographer is needed on Saturday, May 7th, for the Philadelphia First Annual 5K for Fibromyalgia. Organizers are looking for a few hours coverage during the event. If you’re interested, contact isabel@isabelmarchphotography.com for details!

Tech Tuesday: Memory Card TLC

5 Apr

Fancy lenses, flash accessories and the latest dSLR aside, the most important thing in your bag is your memory cards. You probably realize this – but are you treating those little guys the way they deserve to be treated? Here’s some tips and information you may not have known… to help you keep ’em safe and cared for:

Don’t skimp.

Go with a reliable manufacturer (SanDisk, Lexar, etc.) and choose the best card you can afford. When I say “best” I’m purposely being vague; the right card will vary based on your personal needs. Research, figure out your budget and ask a professional at your camera shop which is best for you.

(This can be an entire post in itself – so if you’re interested in learning more about specifics a few good places to start are here and here.)

Find the perfect fit:

A few big cards? Or several smaller ones? You’ll find photographers split on this one – but personally I feel I’d rather have several back-up cards and switch more often – and not put all my eggs in one basket. Using smaller cards lets you spread out your photos and reduce the probability that you’ll lose them all at once. Heaven. Forbid.

Label ’em:

Number and date your cards – for several good reasons. To help keep track of them, to know which cards have been used and which cards are empty while shooting, and to know how old they are. If you already have a bunch in your bag, find a taxonomy that works for you. It could be largest to smallest, fastest to slowest, ROYGBIV… whatever make sense for you.

I shoot primarily weddings, so I began numbering with the smaller, slower cards that are “safe” for getting ready, then followed with the larger, faster cards. I know I’ll want those later in the day for quick bursts and lots of action – and when I won’t want to worry about how many shots I have left, or switching cards.

Protect ’em:

Lightware's Compact Flash Media Wallet (in Raspberry Pink)

We’ve all thrown our memory cards in a pocket or bag once or twice when rushing, but they are super sensitive and easy to lose… so be careful!

Keep them dry and clean, away from extreme temperatures or electro/magnetic currents (this includes magnetic enclosures for purses/bags) and don’t ever drop, crush or bend them. Although those plastic holders that come with the cards offer an extra layer of protection – when you’re going through a dozen or so cards – they aren’t realistic. Pick up a protective wallet (or two) to keep track of and protect them.

Many manufacturers now have fine-tuned cards which now work in extreme temperatures and survive dirt, dust, and even submersion in water. SanDisk even has a video on their site showing how their cards pass the “Stomp Test”, where a dozen eager, energetic middle school kids go to TOWN on a half dozen cards. If you invest the money and trust in those – awesome. But being careful couldn’t hurt, right?

Stick to a plan:

Have a method when you gear-up, during your shoot and once you get back to your studio. Have a simple set of steps – and stick to it.

Format beforehand:

Always format your cards before you begin shooting to save time. This will wipe any data, images and file names – and prevent accidentally shooting with old photos on the card – and therefore less room for you to shoot. Also, it will just make life easier and leave one less thing to remember, so you can focus on capturing amazing images.

Don’t fill up:

Don’t shoot every last frame available on the card. Leave room for a few shots as some cards can run into issues when they are completely full. Some photographers only fill them halfway, I’ve heard of others who split portions of the wedding day or session over multiple cards to serve as a safety net, this way they have some images if a card goes bad.

Turn off your camera:

Don’t forget to shut off your camera before removing the card, and wait a second or two as a precaution. This avoids ‘voltage shock’ when removing it – which is less common but still a possibility. (Lexar recommends you “count to 5 before turning the power off. This will ensure the camera has finished writing to the card – especially large files – and helps avoid possible corruption.”)

Also – be sure to keep charged batteries in your body; don’t let it run all the way down, which could result in the camera turning off while buffering.

Heed the warning signs:

If an image preview is damaged, your camera gives you an error message related to your card, or things just don’t seem right, stop using the card and switch to a new one. Everything might be fine, but there’s a chance the card is corrupt and not recording your shots, or that you are overwriting existing files.

Have a Back-up Plan:

Lexar® Image Rescue® 4 Software


Obviously, as safe as we are, stuff happens. And when it does, you can be prepared with recovery software. Each manufacturer has their own, and includes information in your memory card packaging.

Just remember that if you have an issue – be it an error, accidentally formatting the card, whatever – stop shooting and stay calm. Your photos might be fine. If you continue shooting, the images that you capture will override the files already on the card. Remove it from the camera and run your recovery software on it to retrieve the images.

Get Control: Balancing Work and Personal Life

7 Mar

Owning your own business is no simple task, we all know that. I remember fondly the days when I worked for someone else and had an assistant, no overhead costs, healthcare, a 401K, a boss to bounce ideas off of and colleagues to brainstorm with. As a sole business owner, we fill all of those roles ourselves and with limited resources – for the pursuit of one real perk: doing exactly what we love and getting paid to do it. The price we often pay comes in the form of spousal/relationship neglect, struggling to juggle our time spent nurturing our business and nurturing our families, friends and, let’s face it, OURSELVES. As a new mom, I can especially relate to this and when I arrived at WPPI I hoped for some inspiration and strategy from photogs like myself who had cracked the code on striking that balance. And I’m happy to say that this year delivered.

Tamara Lackey

Tamara Lackey: Portrait Photographer

“Is the life you’re living worth the price you’re paying to live it?”

Tony Schwarz

This was the quote that literally hooked me during Lackey’s presentation. I mean, what a simple yet profound question! It was almost as if she has been listening in on conversations between my husband and I as we lamented about never having the time to enjoy the things in life we work so hard to be able to afford. Not surprisingly, each bit of information and advice that proceeded that quote in Lackey’s lecture was equally as eye opening, simplistic and life-changing. With a thriving studio in Chapel Hill, 3 young children at home and a staff of photographers to manage, Lackey has mastered the art of work/life balance and wasn’t afraid to share her stumbles and roadblocks she overcame along the way.

Simple tips to eliminate remedial tasks in your life, learning to delegate and prioritizing your time – were examples of Lackey’s advice that helped truly put things in perspective. Lackey admitted that long before she could afford one, she hired an assistant knowing full well that her talent and time was not best served focusing on time-consuming admin, but that it was imperative to be marketing her business, networking and perfecting her own craft. Wise advice, if you can take it. The main point is, time is money. And you can’t make more time – it’s a finite resource. We as women have the tendency to feel responsible for taking everything on ourselves and we must, absolutely MUST, break the habit.

A few quick tips from Tamara to get time back on your side:

  • Hire help – whether at home or in the office. No one can do everything. Think you can’t afford that babysitter? Think again. You can’t afford NOT to hire that babysitter.
  • Prioritize what truly needs your attention and talent. Entrust the rest to someone else.
  • Cut your time spent online by using streamlining apps and websites like Google Reader, Priceprotectr.com and  Hipmunk
  • Buy your groceries online and have them delivered
  • Use apps to help manage your time, such as Time Management Rescue Kit
  • Conduct weekly meetings with your family and/or staff to set clear expectations and eliminate the need for reminders

There’s a lot more to Lackey’s message. But you should hear it straight from her – she’s the one that’s mastered it. I certainly have a long road ahead of me to get there! To get more information on her strategies, check out her workshops and photog tools!

The 1st Annual Women in Contemporary Photography Panel

On Tuesday night in the MGM Grand Ballroom, some of the biggest names in photography today – and all women – participated in an open forum where they discussed issues they face day-to-day and across the industry in today’s marketplace.

Among the many topics discussed were ones addressing the question of how to balance work and personal life. With several of the women on the panel as moms, wives, even an expectant mother – they had lots to contribute on the subject. Here are some sound bytes from Lindsay Adler, Jules Bianchi & Joy Bianchi Brown, Jessica Claire , Kay Eskridge, Catherine Hall, Sarah Petty, Dawn Shields, and Jasmine Star on how they manage their juggling act and keep things sane between home and office:

  • Limit email and social media to a certain time each day – and keep them closed the rest of the day to help stay productive (*Remember that 7 am and 12 pm EST are the busiest time for social media.)
  • Keeps your goals in sight and try not to be overcome with any obstacles – stay the course!
  • You must set boundaries to make time with kids – and when you do set aside time, always remember to be present with your family – kids and spouses alike!
  • Take the time necessary to find your niche
  • Outsource everything you can to put your most valuable time toward the business