When I first met Kirstie at last year's WPPI Convention, I just thought she was the sweetest person ever! I wanted to invite Kirstie to share here because I noticed that she was giving great, objective, and balanced advice on a professional photography forum but it was often going unnoticed or sliding by so quickly that it wouldn't be long before the same questions were being asked again. So, I hope that this will give Kirstie a chance to archive her thoughts and insights in a more permanent place where she can help even more people! Please take a moment to say hello to Kirstie and ask her any questions you'd be interested in having her write responses for!
Name: Kirstie Tweed
Business Name: Orange Girl Photographs
Location: Banff, Alberta, Canada
When did you start your business? I started focusing on wedding photography specifically 9 years ago. I graduated from art school in 1995 and worked as a gallery assistant in a San Francisco fine art gallery, a photographer's assistant for fashion and commerical photographers, as well as, exhibiting my fine art photography, photographing musicians for CD projects and shooting commercially in San Francisco and New York.
What services do you offer? Wedding and Portrait photography
What products do you offer? I adore Leather Craftsmen for their gorgeous heirloom albums and outstanding customer service. My new favourite is Simply Canvas prints. I saw Cypress albums at WPPI and I am in love with their beautiful details and craftsmanship. I just ordered my first samples from Couture and can see my clients are going to love them. I love giving Kimbra Studios jewelry as thank you gifts to my clients. I absolutely love Asuka book for custom guestbooks and vendor thank you gifts. I love IttyBitty's storyboard actions to create fun storyboard prints for my clients.
Are you home or studio based? I have an office space that I meet my clients in, that way they avoid being goosed by my overfriendly dog and I do all my editing work at home.
What do you enjoy about working from home/studio? I edit in my pajamas and get to have lunch with my husband and my dog.
What have been the challenges of working from home/studio? It is really easy for me to work all the time. When I can't sleep I find myself at the computer. For that reason I wish e-mails didn't have timestamps!
Do you have any employees? My husband assists me at every photo shoot. He is not a photographer and doesn't shoot, he's actually an incredibly talented potter. He helps me by carrying my gear so I can move more freely, helping me set up my lighting, holding off camera flash, and he is an amazing set of extra eyes who watches out for action with me. He is a absolute dream to work with, he knows me so well I don't have to say much and he's right there for me with whatever I need. It makes weddings even more fun for me because I can share them with the person I love. I feel incredibly lucky to have his amazing love and support. It's another reason I love my job.
What do you outsource and to who? I tried outsourcing my editing this summer and I was disappointed in the results, no one knows my work the way I do. I found it to be more stress inducing then helpful in the end. I use Pictage to do my print fulfillment.
How did you acquire your photo skills? My Dad and step mom bought me my first SLR when I was 12 and I knew immediately that that was what I wanted to do in life. I took photography in high school. I attended art school and graduated from the 4 year photographic arts program. Perhaps what I found most useful though was the time that I spent assisting fashion and commercial photographers right out of art school. That is really where I learned my technical skills. Working in a fine art photography gallery gave me a lot of insight into ways of seeing, it was a really valuable experience.
How did you acquire your business skills? I was very fortunate to assist very talented photographers who became my mentors and friends, they gave me a lot of business advice. I learned a lot from my time at the fine art photography gallery,
I had some incredible bosses who inspired and supported me.
What has made the biggest difference in your business? Having an incredible supportive husband and family. On the technical side my new studio software ShootQ. I don't know how I did it before ShootQ.
What do you want for the future of your business? To continue to find inspiration in the people that I photograph. I had one of my dreams come true recently when I photographed a couple's engagement pictures, their wedding, their pregnancy and most recently their newborn baby. I found that really rewarding and I would like to do that more often.
What do you want for your personal future? I would like to spend more time with my husband outside of work and see my family and friends more. I went on my first vacation with my husband since our honeymoon 7 years ago and I think we should do that every year! I'd also like to hire a photographer to take pictures of my husband and I together, we don't have any pictures together since our wedding. Whenever I'm putting together a collection of canvas prints for a client's home I think it would be nice to have something like that for our home.
What are you passionate about other than photography? I live in a beautiful place and my husband and I love to hike, canoe, cross country ski, snowshoe, ice skate, go curling and go for walks where we live together. I'm not in great shape and I'm not skilled at any of my outdoor loves but it still makes me really happy. I also love knitting baby hats, I'm just a beginner knitter but there is something so satisfying about making something with my hands.
Share a little about your home life: I live with my sweet husband and our dog Edith in a small one bedroom condo in a cooperative green building (the building is made from green materials, our toilet water is collected from rain, the property uses native grasses that don't require watering other then the natural rainfall) in beautiful Banff Canada which is a national park in the Canadian Rockies. It's like living in Yosemite. Deer peer in our living room window, we can hear the sound of bugling elk and we have seen grizzly bears while out walking our dog. We find it truly magical here.
Tell us a funny story about one of your experiences:
I was at my favourite lodge with my husband eating lunch when I noticed a sweet couple having lunch near to us. Something in the way they were interacting with each other warmed my heart. I told my husband that I guessed they were at the lodge making wedding plans, she had a beautiful engagement ring on. I told my husband that I wished I could photograph their wedding because they looked so in love and sweet together. We saw them out cross country skiing on the lake later that afternoon and they smiled as they passed us. I thought it would be incredibly tacky to hand them my business card so I said nothing. A week later I got a phone call to meet with a couple about photographing their wedding. It ended up being that same couple! They hired me and I admitted my story to them, they shared my story at the wedding reception and we've become friends since then. I tell everyone that I picked them first.