Friday, January 30, 2015

The Big Favor Sue Bryce Did for Me

This time last year I was terrified. I had a few clients, and great reviews on my work, but I had no money. I couldn't even afford to pay myself. I couldn't upgrade my equipment or even insure the equipment I had. I had to borrow money from my personal account, the one I use to buy groceries, in order to keep my website running.
I knew my work was on par with other photographers who seemed to be having much more success than I was having, but I had NO idea why or where I was missing the mark.

The worst part is that I didn't even realize that I could do better. I thought this was just how things were going to be.

When I first heard about 28 Days With Sue, I had $200 in my business account, and no prospects for making more.

That is when I learned about Creative Live. I stumbled upon this fantastic site where anyone could learn from industry leaders in their field. Since I've always been a voracious learner, I was completely jazzed. I squeezed every free minute I had between taking care of my 1 year old, laundry, housework, and all the other motherly and wifely duties to sit myself down and watch every free episode I could find.
This is precisely when I happened upon a lady called Sue Bryce. I had never heard of her, but her course had great reviews and the free video labeled "fear" sounded I watched it.
My first thought was, "ah, she's a Kiwi! I love that accent." I could listen to it all day. But then she said something that struck me like a kick in the chest.

"The bottom line for everybody came down to one thing. 'I'm not worthy and I'm not good enough.' You are not worthy to...what, make an income? But you can get a  job that makes an income. So you go and get a job that earns you what, 400 dollars a week? And that's what you think you're worth?'s okay to accept a wage but not make your own income? And then when you leave that wage you go and start your business and you know what you do? You do what my two photographers did; you create a business that turns over $400 a week because that, in your mentality, is what you think you're worth."

It was like someone turned a light on in my brain. I know that is an over-used metaphor but it's true! The light exposed this attitude/mindset that I had where I didn't think I was worth being paid for what I did. Despite the time I devoted to learning and practicing my craft, the time I spent away from my family to help other families document their lives, the money I invested in equipment, computers, software...the list goes on: weren't worth the same wage that I would have expected if I went to work at McDonald's. Less, in fact, because I wasn't even paying myself, much less paying for insurance or healthcare or anything else.

Where had this idea even come from? I began to recognize the same mentality in other artists that I knew. Even the most talented of them were afraid to charge money for what they did. They never once thought about all of the time and effort they put into perfecting their craft. Why? Because we enjoy what we do? And somehow that disqualifies us from earning a living?
That makes absolutely NO sense, and I had never even realized it.

I knew then that I needed to buy this class. Whatever this lady had to say, I wanted to hear it. The only problem was that it was going to cost me everything I had saved. That whole whopping $200. Which would leave me nothing but a big fat 0 in my bank account...but with more knowledge. And that, to me, was worth it. So a screwed up my courage and jumped in.

I bought the class and devoured it. Not only did it give me some great information about how to run a natural light photography studio but it completely changed the way I thought about having a business and making a living from what I love to do.
I wasn't making money in my job because I didn't think that I deserved to. Who told me that I wasn't worthy of earning money from my hard work? Me. I had to change the way that I thought, I had to change my inner monologue.

I took my business and demolished the entire thing and started over from scratch. I decided that not only was I going to get paid for the work I love doing (and don't be mistaken, it IS work and it's not easy) but I am going to give my clients the best service and the most beautiful images that I am capable of producing. I was absolutely reinvigorated.
I cleaned out our spare room, painted the walls, bought a desk (big thanks to my amazing husband for that one) and set up a small, in-home studio. Really small. But it works.
I changed my prices and increased what I was offering to my clients. As soon as the fear bubbled to the surface, that fear that no one would be willing to pay what I needed to earn in order to grow my business and pay myself, I smooshed it ruthlessly.

Some people may not value what I do.
But the people who DO value it...those are the people I will give my heart to serve. Those people will be willing. I just have to let them know that I am here.

Since spending my last 200 bucks on 28 Days with Sue, I have increased the amount of clients I serve. I have more than tripled my average sales and session fees. I have become internationally published. I have found absolutely beautiful products that I am proud to offer to people I am so blessed to work with. I am constantly learning how to run a better business and deliver more to the people who value what I do.

So, I want to say this: Thank you, Sue. Thank you for making it through the hard times in your life so that you would have the wisdom to share what you learned with people like me, who needed a swift kick in the butt. Thank you for speaking about what you love with the kind of passion that inspired people like me to get motivated and make a success out of what they love.

To anyone reading this who is sitting in the same place that I was sitting 1 year ago: do yourself a favor. Watch this class. It will take you a little more than an hour of your time, but it will change the way you think about what you're doing.
Stop telling yourself that you can't. Because as long as you say that to yourself, you never will.
Stop telling yourself that you aren't worthy. What proof do you have? You don't have any. It's that voice in your head. Shut it up.
Stop using fear as an excuse to TRY. And once you stop it, then stop trying and succeed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter Fire Editorial Published in MiNT Magazine Italia

First, I just have to say that I had a blast shooting this editorial. If you have ever had the pleasure of having a model in front of your camera who just inspires you, then you know what I'm talking about. We literally threw this shoot together last minute, as we knew the deadline for magazine submission was getting close.
Luckily, a few months ago, I had found the most gorgeous vintage lace wedding dress. I'm telling you, if you ever want to stock up on cool old dresses, wait for Halloween and hit your local thrift shop.
Thank you, Goodwill!
I also bummed around Michael's the day before and found some super cool feathery things that you stick in flower arrangements and performed some crafty magic on them; cause that's what I do. Let me just tell you about the magic of hot glue guns, folks.

Anyway, I already had some inspiration for the theme of this shoot and worked out a lighting scheme. My oldest son wasn't as thrilled to stand around for me while I got the angles dialed in, but he dealt with it...since I didn't give him much of a choice.
Since I had everything including wardrobe pretty much pin pointed by the time the model, mua (heads up Serena Cook of Esoteric Makeup!!) and the hair stylist (ahem, Laura Klem of The Best Little Hair House) arrived, there wasn't really much for me to do during the wait besides watch in awe as our model was transformed. I will never stop being amazed by how COOL it is to see great artists work their craft on peoples faces.

I think this was easily the fastest editorial I have photographed to date. We moved through 5 or 6 looks so quickly I was honestly shocked. A good deal of that had to do with the fact that the model, the lovely miss Amberlyn, was a complete pro in front of the camera and hit poses like she had been doing it all her life. I felt like one of those cliched fashion photographers on TV who shouts, "Yes, YES! More, more, yes dah-ling WONDERFUL, give me MORE!"
But I didn't really care because I could tell that wonderful things were happening.

I might have jumped up and down a few times.

There was more jumping up and down...and maybe even a squee or two, when I found out that the editorial was not only accepted but would be the cover story of MiNT.

Without further ado, here is the set. Definitely one of my absolute favorites to date.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Love at Salish Lodge; Lonny and Jennifer

Despite having lived most of my life in Washington State, I had never been to Snoqualmie before. It is a cute little town with a lot of history, an absolutely stunning waterfall, and the most fantastic hotel/spa I have ever been in. More importantly than all that, it was and is now forever the place that two amazing people spoke the words that would tie them together for a lifetime.

I couldn't think of a better reason to go there than to photograph the elopement of Lonny and Jennifer.

I have had the pleasure of photographing Jennifer before, and when she asked me to shoot their surprise wedding I couldn't have said yes fast enough. Not only is the girl easy on the eyes, but she has such a fun spirit that she is a joy to be around. Better than that is the love between her and her (now husband) that is palpable whenever they are together.

Their wedding was quick, sweet, and to the point. I think it may have lasted less than 5 minutes, but it was clear to me as I photographed the intimate moments after they said their vows that these two have a lifetime of happiness stretched out before them.

Here's to Mr. and Mrs. Hutchison! Congratulations, you two.

p.s. keep a look out for the face the officiant made when the bride made an off color joke during the ceremony. It was the best

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ryan + Marisa at the Aerie Ballroom in Centrailia...or the story of the time I dragged a Bride and Groom to a bar on their wedding day

This is the story of the time that I dragged a bride and groom to the bar on their wedding day. Well, not just the bride and groom. It was actually the whole wedding party, minus one bridesmaid because she was underage.
Hang with me, though, it's not as bad as it seems. It does require some back story.

So, I photographed a wedding in October. Downtown Centrailia is full of antique shops and great old buildings with tons of history behind them.
Ryan and Marisa (who are so fun and sweet to be around) whose engagement I photographed earlier in the year...see THIS post...decided to have their wedding at The Aerie Ballroom. We scheduled a walk thru so that the bride could show me the venue and man, that is one cool joint. Balconies and high ceilings and rooms full of mirrors; all I needed was a gown and I could have gone to the ball with Mr. Darcy.

Did you catch that allusion to Austen? I'm clever.

Anyway, while we were scouting around we headed outside and looked for a few locations where we could shoot out of doors. We found several likely spots, and ended up in what is probably the coolest bar EVER. It's called The Olympic Club Pub by McMenamins. The minute we walked in the door, I looked at the bride and she looked at me and I said, "We HAVE to shoot in here."

Fast forward to the wedding day. I should have known that October in Washington meant rainy weather. Silly me. Outside photos got nixed. But I was still desperate to get my couple down to the bar. I had spend months visualizing how I would photograph the wedding party and the bride and groom in that bar.  There was a bit of push back, I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty sure I got the evil eye from several grandmothers.
It was REALLY windy and rainy and Marisa looked so amazing with her dress and her perfect hair and here I was trying to bully everyone out into the rain to walk a block down the street in the gale force winds for a few photos, but I just knew that they would be special.
I can actually still see the look of steely resolve forming on the brides face when she decided we were going to get those darned photos, mean mugging grannies or not.

My wonderful assistant and I hurried off down the street holding umbrellas over freezing bridesmaids as I stalwartly dragged my bride and groom, along with their whole wedding party, off to the bar. I still shudder to think of what the family must have thought of me!

We got inside, I equipped my assistant with an LED panel video light, and after getting permission to use the space I began posing the bridal party. Everyone had a great time, including the patrons of The Olympic Club who watched in fascination and even gamely offered some of their pool balls as props!

While it was a gutsy thing to do, these photos ended up being Ryan and Marisa's favorites and both of them were so glad that they braved the rain and wind to get them. So am I, because this is exactly what I want to be doing.
I mean, really...who else is going to have wedding photos like THIS!?

Want to see a few more shots of Ryan and Marisa's wedding at the Aerie Ballroom in Centrailia Washington? Head over HERE. There are lots more.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Families Falling

I had families falling this fall. That's a lot of alliteration! Rather, I had families falling all over themselves to get out into the beautiful fall colors of the Pacific Northwest and have their portraits taken.

Here are 2 of my favs. These families, aside from being obviously gorgeous ( I mean, just LOOK at those faces! ) were such a joy to work with.

For this first shoot, we went to the Seattle Arboretum, which is absolutely STUNNING. It was almost impossible to find a place to park, but my superior maneuvering and sturdy walking shoes made it happen.
If you ever get the chance to head to the Arboretum, GO THERE.

This family headed to a park just outside their hometown. Shooting in evening light always rocks,  but we lucked out with the most gorgeous diffused sunlight and man, I love these shots.

How cute are those cowboy boots!?