Friday, August 21, 2009
Ok, I'm just sayin'.......
My green screen backdrop got here yesterday afternoon, and because of the butterflies (www.butterflybyjulie.blogspot.com/), I didn't get out here to hang it up and ops-check it.
So tonight I try and lower the backdrop stand and the whole freaking thing blows up on me! On the right side, the rod that holds the crossbar up broke, and the entire crossbar dropped across my temple, backdrop and all. Ok...that wasn't bad enough, but I could DEAL with a quick fix for that.
My step-daughter, Peri, was trying to lower the left-hand side and whatever held the entire left side up shattered. She brought me about a gazillion pieces of backdrop stand in her hand.
UGGGGG! So I have this new backdrop, no stand to hang the new backdrop on to practice on this whole green screen-thing, and have this BOGO add out all over the Internet based on the next two weeks practice time.
I must be Murphy's daughter....anything that can go wrong usually will.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
During the first shoot, I learned that 44 is no match for 9 months and mobile! That child was hard core mobile. :) She was sweet as could be, but fast as all get-out! What's a photographer to do? Get on the floor and try to keep up, of course! Sometimes the baby is faster than the shutter finger, however, soooo...But we got some good shots, both of her and her big sister and the two of them together. I always enjoy those girls when they visit. They are well behaved, sweet tempered, and just as good as gold. :)
Monday, May 25, 2009
Just wanted to give you a brief rundown of the last couple of weeks or so. Small business ownership is not all it's cracked up to be, so you really have to want it to make it work. Trust me. It ain't for the faint of heart!
Let's talk about the Spring Fling for a moment, shall we? It was fun. Don't get me wrong for a moment. I had a good time, as did the kids. Ok, till it rained, but that wasn't anyone's fault. Just know that after all the prep time spent in the world, it's entirely possible that you will not make a sale. Period. It's also entirely possible you may not hand out a brochure or business card. (This would have been the case if I hadn't had the two kids begging to peddle the literature, LOL...Gotta love those kids!) Even though I had a huge inventory of art prints, people were not feeling the whole "art print" vibe, and had a tendancy to walk on by. Of course, hindsight being 20/20, I can see from the picture of our booth that we needed some help. Can you say ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZ? I knew you could. Of course, I also had to consider the economy. The lady across the way with the cute handbags and snazzy displays didn't do much better than we did, from our observations. (Note to self: Snazz up your display a little bit next time, and maybe even offer a service. You know, a lot of parents might have wanted a 4x6 print of their little darlin' with their face painted...next time, just OFFER it...)
Forward to the following evening. My friend Cindi Pate dropped me an email and asked me if I wanted to be a regular contributor to Down Home Magazine, which is a local publication for our county. Of COURSE I want to be involved. So that was happy news. I'll be shooting in Wayne County at various locations in the coming months, so if you happen to see me, stop by and say hello!
Fast forward a little more to last Friday. I was so excited that I finally got to meet my friend Sandra Carrington-Smith. She does a local blog on the news web site here (although took a bit of a break to work on her second novel). She has both fictional and non-fictional works due to publish in 2010 and needed jacket shots. After emailing over several months, speaking on the phone numerous times, and being weathered out, we finally met last Friday. Let me tell you...Sandra is a doll! Not only is she a fantastic author, she is also a life coach, mom and wife. I REALLY enjoyed meeting her face to face. She had told me she wasn't photogenic, but that wasn't exactly the case. That girl commanded the lens. :) Talk about a breeze to shoot. All models should be like her. I am going to post a couple pictures that we took that afternoon at Oak View Park in Raleigh. I am also linking to her book sites. Her non-fiction work is Housekeeping for the Soul. Her fiction is the first of a series: The Book Of Obeah . Check them out when you get a minute.
So that brings us to the present. It's the winding-down of Memorial Day, 2009. I'm about to call it a day, take a bubble bath and then roll into the bed. I just want to remind everyone to think about the soldiers and airmen that gave their lives in the past so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do today. Also...I'm giving a shout-out to all of our current active duty members to thank them for all the sacrifices made so that we remain free, and to their families....
Till next time, y'all!
Monday, May 11, 2009
- Do your price lists need to be updated?
- Have you added or removed services and/or products?
- Has any of your contact information changed?
- Have you added any selling points since you last handed out your literature? (In my case, we built a stand-alone studio that has ZERO traffic because we are by appointment only, which is a definite upgrade from shooting portraits in the dining room, as we did a year ago.)
- Do you have updated or new graphics to add to your fliers, pamphlets, price lists, etc.?
- Do you need printer ink in the right colors so that you can accomplish what you need to do?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you really need to think about making the changes and printing all of your literature a little earlier than a week before you need them, especially if you have a full time day job, like I do.
I had a printer driver issue yesterday, just when I needed to print out 50+ double sided, high-quality brochures on fancy, glossy brochure paper. It took me all of two hours to resolve the issue, but that was two hours that I lost. Now here I sit, in the studio, waiting for Johnny to get back with more ink, getting ready to print the remaining 32 brochures this evening, after having worked an 8 hour day at my full-time job.
I believe, if you look up the meaning of the word, "fragged" in the dictionary, you may very well see the following picture:
Yes, that's me, in more relaxed times. You might also find that image if you were to look up, "procrastinate," as well.
Lesson learned? Get it done as early as feasibly possible, even if you think it's only going to take a second. Guess what? Not only did I build a studio, the economy took a serious dive, and I eliminated some portrait packages, added some new ones, and pricing changed all the way around. Translation? All of my Info-Pak literature needed to be updated, as did my brochures.
Always expect the unexpected. My printer has never given me a lick of trouble. Until I needed 50 color, high quality brochures on a Sunday evening before I had to go back to the day job in the morning. Not a fun feeling.
Until next time, y'all! :)
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I am lucky, in some respects, in that I have a “regular day job” that pays the bills until such time as my photography studio can do that for me. In the meantime, I network as much as I can as time allows, rely a lot on word-of-mouth referrals, and get exposure wherever I can.
I also know that customer service is so important, and possibly even more so in this economy when everyone is watching their expenditures. Doing something that will cost me a potential client, or driving away an existing one is something that I keep in my mind at all times.
While we, as business owners, constantly ask ourselves, “What can we do for our customers,” how often do we ask ourselves what our customers can do for us? I learned a very valuable lesson in what our customers can do for us over the weekend while doing a portrait session.
I was very fortunate that my customer was a woman I’d worked with some years back who needed portraits of her two beautiful girls. I had just re-worked my entire pricing schedule to be less intimidating, and a little more budget friendly, and this was the first session that I had done using the updated pricing. After the shoot, we reviewed the RAW images. This is something I would not normally do, because, like a lot of photographers, I’m kind of funny about letting people see the raw images because of the potential for over or under exposure, and I would normally let a customer see the color corrected proofs, after they’d gone home. At any rate, she had asked me if there was any way she could see the images before she left. So, not wanting to send her away unhappy, yet worried she would be critical of the untouched images, I went ahead and pulled them up. We went through all of them, applying a rating system to them so that she could narrow them down to her favorite 30 or so images. She didn’t notice the white balance, and really didn’t pay much attention to the exposure. She was looking at expressions and interaction between the girls.
After we went through all of the images and she’d made her selection, I asked her to be honest with me because I was really interested in her opinion of the session. She stated that the review of the raw images was a wonderful bonus, and made the selection of her images much easier. I had been worried about the technical side (and the possibility of wasting her valuable time) for nothing.
Long story shorter, I have learned that there is nothing wrong with asking your customers for feedback, and even going a step further and asking them what would have made their experience better.
I know that I am probably telling you all something that you already know, but in this dog-eat-dog economy, putting your financial wants aside and focusing on your customers wants and needs may put you ahead in the long run. I understand that I will be taking the baby’s 9 month photos in a couple of months, and she is going to be passing out my business cards at her office while showing off her prints.
That little extra time spent gained me valuable insight into what makes my clients tick, and you can best believe I will be incorporating all of her suggestions into my sessions from now on.
‘Till next time….
Thursday, April 23, 2009
After taking Matt and Christopher to the airport the week before Easter, I decided to really start knocking out some networking for the business. I had joined a local networking site (inside919.com) while he was here, then ramped that up a bit. Then, last week, quite by accident, I was perusing golo, which is a local news channel blog-type site, and met Kisha via a blog post. She has a wedding planning business. We emailed back and forth over the last week, and I am SO excited for her. She does have a web site, and if you or anyone you know in the Eastern North Carolina area, is getting married, you will really want to go check her out. She is the owner/operator of One Fine Day Wedding Planning.
Until next time, y'all!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Ok, you know I can't stay away from it for long, LOL...
On the front burner this week?
- My oldest son is home on leave for the first time in over 3 years;
- I just finished the Dutton's Easter portraits and put the package into the correct hands;
- We just established a few new portrait packages to accomodate the needs of more of our clients.
We spent the early part of the week enjoying the spring weather and landscaping our front yard. We had quite the little assembly line going on. Chris would dig the hole, I'd plant the greenery, and Johnny would drop the mulch. It's looking quite nice, actually, and we're almost finished!
During my down time, I finished working on Rhonda & Mark's kids' Easter pictures (some of which you will see here), and put everything on CD.
I've also been corresponding with Shelley regarding Wall 2 Wall's donations for the silent auction at the Lucama Spring Fling Festival. Did I mention that y'all need to show up for that? It's going to be a lot of fun, it's in May, so the weather will be amazing, and Wall 2 Wall Photography and Lori Carver's Tupperware booths will be there. Here is the URL so you can check out all the details: http://lucamacic.com/festival.html
I hope to hear from all of you soon. It's been kind of quiet this winter and I, for one, am ready to kick things up a notch. :)
Until Next Time.....
Friday, February 27, 2009
This blog isn't about me. (Yes, I know...hard to believe, right?)
It's actually about a small-town festival in need of vendors. Lucama (North Carolina, for those of you who aren't local to us) is hosting a Spring Fling Festival on May 16, 2009.
This fesitval is in need of vendors. Wall 2 Wall Photography will be there, and I'm hoping that any of you out there reading this will be there, too. If you are an artisan with a craft to show off, then please get a booth. If you are a craftsman/person with wares to sell, please get a booth.
The web site to check out is http://www.lucamacic.com/ and if you should have any questions, please contact Shelley at Shells4you@hotmail.com .
We look forward to seeing you at the Lucama Spring Fling Festival!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I may have been slack last month, but this month I've been busier than a one armed paper hanger in a paper factory....
Now that the Joint Commission has been and gone, the craziness at my day job has come down to it's regular low-key status. This gives me the opportunity to spend more time building the photo business...
We've recently come up with our own Economic Stimulus Package. This package includes the following:
Economic Stimulus Photos on CD Package - $130.00
This easy to use, economy-friendly package includes the following:
- Pre-session consultation
- A minimum of twenty of the best images of the session in jpg format on CD;
- One user-friendly directory of all images reduced for use in email and on the web;
- A second user-friendly directory of all images for prints up to 8x10 in size (we offer very reasonable prices on prints larger than 8x10);
- License agreement for printing and other uses (mugs, mouse pads, tees, etc.);
- Instructions for use and support after delivery;
- One 11x14” print of your choice.
Please give us a call (919-921-6328) a call if we can help you with any of your portrait needs.
We still have our Standard-Traditional Packages, too...
Traditional One-Pose Packages:
The "Standard Traditional" which includes
- 2 5x7, and
- 16 wallet sized prints (retouching included) for $50,
- 8-5x7's, and
- 24 wallet sized prints (retouching included) for $75.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment for a photo session.
Cheers and Happy Valentine's Day to you all!
Monday, January 5, 2009
First it was my face, which had a cyst (quite a large one, I might add) that had to be removed...again. Those of you that know me know that it was removed once in March, then I had to go back a second time in March because he didn't get it all, so they attacked it again. Then after several follow-ups at the derm's office, here in Goldsboro, they decided it had come back and needed to be removed again. In July. Went back for a few more follow ups. Still didn't get it all, so I saw a surgeon in October who was sweet, but wouldn't touch my face with a ten-foot scalpel, so I got a referral to be seen by a plastic surgeon in Greenville in December. On the fifth of that month I had surgery for the fourth time. And to say he laid my cheek wide open was an understatement. Good that he gave me post-op drugs. God knows I needed them! Went back on the 12th to have the stitches removed, and was scheduled for the final (yeah, right) follow-up today. Last week my cheek swelled up, felt bruised and then did some things I don't guess y'all want to read about, but needless to say I figured that the perCYSTent thing had come back with a vengance. Turns out (I find out today) that the self-disolving stitches are not my face's best friend, and now I've got an infection. But I'm cool with that...I really thought surgery #5 was on the horizon. An infection is the BEST possible news I could have gotten. So, anyway...the next thing on my agenda has been....
THE DAY JOB
As many of you know, I work at the local hospital. The Joint Commission has re-organized something called, "The Environment of Care" which is a major-big deal for accredited facilities such as the one I work for. At any rate, almost 100 policies had to be reformatted and submitted to Senior Management for review and that has taken up most of my 40+ hours weekly at the day job. Soooo, when I come home, I'm fragged to say the least.
This actually forced me to unplug for the better part of the week after Christmas. After being inundated with an ungodly amount of spam, and typing policies, and receiving an unnatural amount of text messages I finally just got a clue and didn't check email, Facebook, MySpace, the web site, etc., etc. I finally just stopped and took a few days off from everything.
All of the above made me reflect and set some resolutions for the new year. Read on:
- Under-promise and over-deliver: Translation? Instead of trying to do and be everything for everyone all the time, make fewer promises, and then give more than expected. That way, if time constraints limit you, you haven't bitten off more than you can chew, and even if you only deliver what you promised, you've still met your commitment. (I think of this one specifically for all the fund-raising I have a tendency to do. I'm only one person, therefore, I cannot single-handedly coordinate the Arts & Crafts Auction for Relay for Life, and the whatever else needs to be done, and the other misc. fundraisers, and United Way, etc., etc.) Also create a BALANCE for giving and taking. If you give too much and take too little, you burn out. If you take too much and give too little, well, that's just greedy. Everything in moderation and balance.
- Family first! (Ok, family first AFTER God...but I have secular friends, too, LOL) I'm finding that if I take the time to do the fun things with the family, I come out of it with a little less time on my hands, but am more refreshed and can do more with less time. Seriously, that extra hour of Guitar Hero or bowling is NOT going to kill you financially, I promise!)
- Do NOT sweat the small stuff. I'm learning the hard way that stressing out to the point of insomnia over such trivialities as the DDJ, you have nothing left when it comes time to stress over really legitimate things. Case in point? My mom's biopsy came back bad. If I worry about my day job and the ridiculous things all of that encompasses, I will not have the energy to focus on caring for my mom and her emotional needs. What happens at the office stays at the office and if it goes south? Well, then, it will just stay south until 8 a.m. the following business day.
- Take care of yourself. Yes, we're busy; we are moms, career women, friends, cooks, housekeepers, homemakers, etc. If we don't take care of our own needs (ohhhh, I dunno, a hot bath, favorite t.v. show, good book, etc.) then we can/will not be able to adequately take care of what is important to us: spouses, children, friends, jobs, etc. This includes eating well and exercising, even if it's just a well balanced snack and a walk around the block.
- Always work on bettering yourself. This can be anything from learning a new skill or craft to setting realistic (BITE SIZED) goals for yourself. Otherwise, you stagnate.
Okay, so I guess that is it for now. Do want to thank Brenda for her verbiage on resolution #1. That was more eloquent than anything I could have possibly come up with!
Until next time....