Tag Archives: work life balance

Summer Snappy Hour!

28 Jun

We’re very excited to announce that our next Snappy Hour is going to be Monday, July 30th at El Vez from 6:30-8:30 pm! It’s been a good, long while, we’ve received a lot of emails in anticipation, AND we’ve missed everyone and want to catch up and connect with newbies… so come grab a drink, some chips and salsa and catch up with the Betties!

El Vez is located in “Midtown Village”, at 121 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. There’s on-street parking, a lot around the corner on Sansom, and if you’re not driving it’s a few blocks from Market Street East and Broad Street/Market Street SEPTA stations.

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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!

September Snappy Hour!

4 Sep

The long-awaited Snappy Hour is finally here! In the spirit of lovely autumn weather and Oktoberfest, join the Betties at Frankford Hall on Wednesday, September 28th from 7-9 pm. Come one come all for great conversation, brews, pretzels and German food.

The outside Beer Garden at Frankford Hall. Credit: Starr Restaurants

Frankford Hall is located at 1210 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown – one neighborhood north of Northern Liberties and the famed Piazza at Schmidts. There’s on-street parking, a lot nearby, and if you’re not driving it’s 2 blocks from the Girard Avenue Subway stop and there are cabs galore.

Tech Tuesday: Apple’s OS X Lion

12 Jul

A few weeks ago we reviewed Apple’s new mobile operating system iOS5 and the introduction of iCloud – and how they’re going to make photographer’s digital lives more streamlined. Today, we’re covering the new version of Apple’s desktop operating system, which according to Apple should be available for $29.99 – any day now.

OS X Lion – a whole new animal

Multi-Touch Gestures

Inspired by the tactile functionality of the iPhone and iPad, Apple has integrated the gestures that mobile device users have grown to love. Now you’ll be able to use the same fluid and realistic gesture responses, including rubber-band scrolling, page and image zoom, and full-screen swiping, right on your desktop.

What does this mean for photogs?

– You’re in Photoshop or Lightroom, and want to get a closer look. No need to mouse over to activate the zoom tool or hit a keyboard command, simply pinch to zoom in or out. Get a closer look in your favorite web browser by simply double tapping.

– Within an application, like a word document, or several open tabs in your browser, just swipe, like turning pages of a book, rather than mousing over to scroll the scroll bar.

– If you have multiple apps open, you no longer will need to mouse down to the dock or hit COMMAND+Tab on your keyboard to browse the other open apps. When viewing an application at full screen (another new feature we love!), it’s as easy as swiping with three fingers, which shuffles your full-screen apps like playing cards.

What you’ll need:

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a Multi-Touch Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad to take advantage of gestures.

Full-Screen Apps

Now instead of resizing your browser windows to fill up as much space as possible to hide that messy desktop, you’ll be able to clear away the clutter and see one App and nothing else – instantly – by just clicking the new full-screen button in the upper-left corner of your app window. BAM!

Mission Control

Mission Control is simple – it helps you get all your ducks in a row and see what you have open, with a highlight window for each App. So instead of just glancing down to see my dock, and trying to recall what I have going on in Lightroom, iChat, Photoshop, Word, Illustrator, Safari (etc.) I’ll just be able to swipe up with three fingers on my trusty trackpad, and get the lay of the land. Kinda like this:

Launchpad

Launchpad is kind of like Mission Control’s orderly cousin – which lets you see a neat grid of all your apps as icons on your desktop (accessible from your dock) rather than having to navigate to your Applications folder and view them in a dialogue box. Clean, simple and right there. Functionality is the same as the iPhone or iPad, so you can:

– Hold down an icon with by clicking on touch pad to activate all the apps, and click the “x” in the corner to quickly delete an app

– Drag an app icon onto another icon to categorize them into folders like “Business”, “Post-Production”, “Games”, etc

– Swipe across your trackpad to move between pages

– Open any app with a tap or click

Mac App Store

If you’re an iPhone user, this is not a new concept. But the fact that the App Store will now be integrated into OS X Lion, letting you browse, download and install immediately – rather than buying discs (in person or online… which equals time and/or waiting) is pretty cool.

In addition to quick downloads, you’ll also get easy integrated updates, and fast, simple installation across devices.

It’s not the sexiest update – but it’s certainly pretty darn sensible. Think about the big apps. Like Lightroom. Or perhaps when you get a last minute word doc from a client and don’t see it until 1 am the night before big the event – and you don’t have the most recent version of Microsoft Office! No worries! Just search, click, download, and viola! It’s open. Maybe now the App Store looking a little sexier?

Auto Save and Versions

Sometimes I’m groovin’ on an edit or retouch, music blaring, feelin’ inspired, and suddenly remember “Oh yeah – I haven’t saved yet…” after 20 minutes of work. Then I quickly save my .psd and breathe a sigh of relief. Well, with OS X Lion, Apple’s got a fancy new update that will let me edit to my heart’s content, without having to worry.

Auto Save automatically saves your work, while you work, during pauses and every five minutes. This is what I’m most excited about – and can’t wait to see in action.

Why’s it so great?

– It saves versions within the same file, rather than multiple versions of your file (therefore saving room on your hard drive).

– If you’re editing an email or shotlist, for example, and halfway in, realize you erased something important- no problem! The Revert feature returns your document to the state it was in when you last opened it, and Versions shows you the current document next to a cascade of previous versions which have been saved. And if you just want to grab a section from an earlier version, you can copy and paste between versions.

Mail

Last but not least for the OS X Lion updates, is a fancier, shinier version of Mail that offers a widescreen, two-column view of your emails, one-click access to folders, quick drag-and-add folder functionality, detailed preview (so you glance at your list of emails and get an idea of content before opening), enhanced search, and best of all Conversations.

This new feature (which gmail users enjoy) automatically groups messages from the same conversation, in chronological order. Why’s it great? It removes redundant text from previous message threads to save time scrolling and searching for old emails and details, in an easy-to-follow, linear format. Not too shabby.

What’s next?

So there you have it – all the updates – some which are a bit more “fluff” but others that will certainly save time and make life easier when you’re on your desktop. Which, let’s face it – is a good portion of the week. If you’re interested in upgrading (for just $29.99 – it’s a great deal) you’ll need to:

1. Make sure your Mac can run Lion

– Click your Apple icon in the top-left of your screen, choose “About this Mac” and find out if it has an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor. if so, you’re good to go.

2. Make sure you have the latest version of Snow Leopard

– Click your Apple icon in the top-left of your screen, choose “Software Update” to install version 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) if you don’t already have it

3. Download OS X Lion from the App Store.

– It’s not ready just yet, but you can sign up for a notification when it is.

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!

Tech Tuesday: iCloud and iOS 5

7 Jun

Apple’s commitment to user experience, function and design was summed up in Steve Job’s opening statement at yesterday’s WWDC 2011 Keynote: “If a hard drive is the brain and sinu of the computer, the software is the soul.”

If you didn’t watch the 2-hour video, and haven’t made sense of all the articles and posts that have bombarded the interweb, you’re in the right place. We’ve got the highlights that photographers will appreciate – with big visuals* and details on how it’s all going to make your digital life easier. It’s a lot of ground to cover – so today we’re going to start with the mobile benefits you’ll get from iCloud and iOS 5.

Farewell MobileMe. Hola iCloud!

Apple has replaced MobileMe and it’s $99/year fee with iCloud, which syncs all your documents, photos, books, music, videos and app data automatically, and backs them up over wifi.


– Works on Mac, iPod touch, iPhone and iPad
– Seamlessly integrates your apps – including iTunes, Photo Stream, Apps, Books, Documents, Backup, Contacts, Calendar and Mail – so all your content is available and up to date on all devices
– Keeps your email, contacts and calendars up to date across all your devices
– Manages and backs-up your content effortlessly – no syncing required
– Includes 5GB of FREE storage when you sign up, which excludes any purchased music, apps, books or your Photo Stream

Better, faster, smarter – with iOS 5

The newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system has over 200 additional features. It’s available this Fall and is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone4, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad and iPad2.

Camera: Never miss the shot again

When not wielding fancy dSLR’s, chances are we’re grabbing inspiration or special everyday moments with our phones. Apple’s updates to the Camera app make it possible to capture a photo at a moment’s notice, instead of fumbling to unlock, load the home screen and then open the app.

– Access the Camera directly from your Lock screen with the new Camera button
– Zoom in and out, take a photo using the volume-up button
– Use the new Photos app editing features from the same screen to enhance, remove red eye and crop

– If you have Photo Stream enabled in iCloud (more on that in the OS X Lion section), your photo will automatically download to your other Apple devices

Reminders: A smarter way to get things done

There are tons of to-do list apps out there, each with their own benefits and caveats; I mentioned my love for Teux Deux in a recent post on iPhone apps. And it rocks. But Reminders is different. It isn’t just a simple list making app. It’s smart. Super smart. Say you need more Compact Flash cards and batteries. Next time you are near your camera store, Reminders will send you an alert based on your GPS location. How cool is that?

– Create tasks from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
– Specify due dates and locations for your tasks
– Create location-based alerts that remind you to perform tasks when you’re in a specific place
– Works and automatically syncs with iCal, Outlook, and iCloud

Notification Center: Everything in one spot

No more jumping from app to app to check your new messages, listen to client voicemails, check Saturday’s weather for your upcoming shoot or see what’s on your plate for the day. Now you’ll get all of your notifications, alerts and updates in one place, including Weather, Stocks, Reminders, Calendar, Mail, Messages and more! How it works…

From the Lock screen:

– Notifications appear right on your lock screen so you can see what’s happening at a glance
– Easily swipe any item to view it directly in the app

From the Home Screen:

– Wwipe down from the top of your screen to view the list
– Tap on an item – like a new email – to be taken directly to that email in the app

From an Application:

– A subtle notification bar appears up top when you have an alert
– Tap to view it, swipe down from the top of th screen to view your entire list, or do nothing – and quickly it disappears
– Customize which notifications you want to see and which you don’t

Twitter: Native integration for easier tweeting!

– Enter your twitter account information once in Settings, and every application and device links up
– Tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube or Maps
– Add locations – no matter where you are
– Take a photo and tweet it in three simple taps; take a photo, tap tweet and send!

PC Free: No Mac? No PC? No problem!

Apple has finally cut the cord. Now users will be able to use the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch right out of the box!

– Activate and set up wirelessly
– No more cables required; OTA (over the air) software updates can be downloaded directly on to device
– Back up and restore automatically using iCloud

iMessage: Now iPad and iPod Touch can chat too!

– Chat with friends between iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
– Works over Wi-Fi and 3G

Other Great Stuff

With over 200 new features, we could go on and on. Here’s just a few more great updates worth noting:

+ Safari reader strips out ads and other distractions for easier reading.

+ Mail now offers rich text editing and a system-wide split keyboard option.

+ Newstand lets you keep all your magazine and newspaper subscriptions in one beautifully designed spot – and organize it to your liking.

The only thing we’re bummed about – is that it won’t be available until the Fall! Good thing we have summer to keep us distracted…

If you want to check out the complete list of iOS 5 features, visit Apple or watch the video.

* All content was sourced directly from Apple’s website and YouTube page, and includes links to learn more.

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!

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.

“I Love Being a Photographer and I’m Keeping It That Way!”

30 Mar

By Tara Jones

I went to WPPI this year for the first time and was completely blown away! What a game changer that event can be for your business; although, for me it was a game changer in a way that I did not expect…

I was sitting in one of the workshops geared toward pushing print sales for boutique studios, and I thought to myself, “What am I doing with my business, my career? I did not get my degree in photography to sell prints.” As I sat there, I began furiously writing down all the things I wanted to shoot; all the things that I knew would make me a happy photographer. And when I finished writing out my list, I picked up my things and quietly snuck out the back door. And let me just say this: I have NEVER walked out on a class before, because I know there is always a key piece of info in every workshop for everyone. But that day I knew it was time for me to make some changes or else I was headed for burnout and misery!

When I came home I had so much clarity about why I love being a photographer and what I needed to do to keep it that way. And God as my witness, as soon as I made the decision to go after the things that make me happy as a photographer, the kind of work I wanted started knocking on my door!

I know. I know. It sounds like a totally Cinderella fairy tale, but I swear it’s the honest truth!

Here’s the list of things I changed about my business since my light bulb moment at WPPI:

• I raised my prices and started treating them as goals. The higher prices push me to produce work I feel is worthy of that dollar amount.
• I became extremely selective about the new boutique-type clients I take on.
• I limited myself to one wedding client per month, which allows me the time to produce quality work for my brides and more time for me to pursue the work that makes me happy.
• I began shooting personal projects that fulfill me as a photographer.
• I allowed myself more time to teach and mentor.

Now, it’s only been about a month since I made these changes, but so far so good! And at the end of the day all I know is this: life is far too short to do work that makes you miserable. I never want to be a ho-hum photographer! I want to wake up every day excited to get to work! Something I tell my mentoring clients is to do what you love and the right kind of work will follow. And I believe it will for me, too.

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!