I recently mentioned Jillian's new book, Dear Silly Lady, based on loads of valuable advice she's shared with other photographers about how to handle sticky client situations, and asked her if she would join me in sharing her wonderful wisdom on the photolovecat blog! To help kick off her contributions, I thought it would be fun to learn a little more about the woman behind the advice...
Name: Jillian Kay Cocklin
Business Name: Jillian Kay Photography
Websites: jilliankay.com, dearsillylady.com
Location: San Jose, CA
When did you start your business? August 2006
What services do you offer? Portrait & Wedding Photography
What products do you offer? I'm using a fabulous album designer (my sister), and I currently use KISS & Albums Unlimited for albums. I'm going to be outsourcing my editing soon, and I've chosen to work with Colorati
Are you home or studio based? At home right now, but I move into a small office on February 1st!
What do you enjoy about working from home/studio? I'm hoping that the office will give me a better work environment and a cozy place to meet with clients.
What have been the challenges of working from home/studio? Home is a little too distracting for me, and a little nerve-wrecking ever since my roommates disabled the smoke alarms.
Do you have any employees? Nope
What do you outsource and to who? My sister, Katie, designs my albums and Colorati will soon be editing my photos.
How did you acquire your photo skills? Sheer will of force. Also, a lot of forum reading. :)
How did you acquire your business skills? My parents instilled a lot of my people skills, I took a lot of leadership and management training at my company (as a software engineer), and I've gained a lot of information by listening to books on cd, and of course I ready forums and blogs fervently!
What do you wish you would have known starting out? Start off worrying more about getting a technically well lit and color balanced photo...don't start off worring about which photoshop action/filter defines your style. Your style will start to emerge in-camera & in your imagination...not by pushing buttons in photoshop.
What has made the biggest difference in your business? I'm still in the emerging state...so I think I'll be able to answer this question better in a year. Overwhelmingly, though, people have made the difference. Engaging with other photographers and learning how and why they do what they do, helping others in any small way I can, and seeing by the examples of my peers that this industry can be very rewarding. People have strengthened me and caused me to push further than I would ever have dreamed.
What do you want for the future of your business? I'd love to see myself as a small studio, with a boutique wedding style catering to slightly off the path brides. I want my future to be successful enough to cut the engineering umbilical cord and give me the freedom to spend all of my energy in activites that inspire more energy!
What do you want for your personal future? I want to be more financially fit, more physically fit, and sleep more. :-) I also want to network more with photographers in my area, and build more local friendships in the industry.
What are you passionate about other than photography? I love shoes! I have a huge addiction to blog watching. I also find it difficult to tear away from tv shows about real-estate and interior design! I have recently started a collection of door knobs and drawer pulls.
Share a little about your home life: I'm single and currently live with 3 roommates in the suburbs. Our home is being demolished to put up condos, so I'll be moving soon (mostly likely back to downtown San Jose, yay!). I have three wonderful goldfish, who are the most animated and interactive fish I have ever met. I work a lot, but in my spare time I love to go out with friends.
My favorite quote, that I totally live by (for better or worse) is:
'Why Not?' is a slogan for an interesting life. - Mason Cooley
The current theme song of my life...I guess would have to be Times Like These by Foo Fighters, especially this verse:
I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?
Tell us a funny story about one of your experiences: I'm naturally brunette, but when I have a "blond-moment" it's usually of the "platinum" variety. Once I was a little flustered with a client, as I always get when I try to make a sale....it makes me nervous. They said they'd love to make a payment right then, and she started looking for her checkbook. He couldn't find his checkbook either, and they were terribly embarrassed. I, of course, wanting to be helpful offered to let them use my checkbook, and got it out of my purse. They stared blankly at me for a moment, and waited for me to realize why that wouldn't work. Then we had a great laugh, and just took care of the payment another day! Good thing I have clients with a great sense of humor. :)
That ranks right up there with the day I wanted to patent whole-wheat popcorn. ;) I'm a ditz.
If you have a question that you'd like Jillian to address on the blog, please leave a comment to help give her ideas about what to post!