Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mentor Auction for Thirst Relief

Photographers spend thousands of dollars each year on workshops to help improve their business and to spend a little bit of one-on-one time with some of their favorite photographers. What if all of that money could be put toward creating clean water in areas where water-borne illness are the leading causes of death? That's where the annual Thirst Relief Mentor Auction comes in. You get to bid on the opportunity to pick the brain of a well known photographer, and all of your money goes toward helping those in need. Does it get any better than that? I think not.

If you bid on me, I'll be your mentor for an entire year to help you get through whatever tough stuff life throws your way. You're also welcome to spend a weeknight at my place in Lowell, MA (scheduled in advance) so that we can spend a little extended time together and so you can see my home office!

Hurry up and get your bid in- the auctions end in LESS than 24 hours!! Auctions End: Sunday February 1st, 2009 at 10pmEST/7pmPST.

::UPDATE:: 2/1/09 11:12pm
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Thirst Relief Auction! I have to give a special thanks to Lilia Photo who made the winning bid to Thirst Relief for my mentorship! I just checked out their work and they have a lot of great things going on already!! I also think I have a few great ideas about what is going to propel them forward over the next year! Keep your eye on them and see what happens!

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Personal Brands

In today's climate, it is very important to have a personal brand. For some of us, this is tied directly to our business brand, and for others it isn't. Either way, it is important. It will make you memorable to the people that meet you, and networking is very key no matter what you do for a living, but especially for photographers.

I was recently reminded again how important it is for us to step outside of the box, outside of our usual social circle. Do you really want to do what every other photographer is doing? At that point, what sets you apart?

Some great resources out there that can help you define your personal brand, and possibly even rebrand yourself if necessary:

If you don't know CC Chapman, I suggest that you learn more about him. I've had the honor of knowing him for years thanks to my personal blog, and I regret that we haven't met in person on my trips to Boston or his trips to SXSW. I'm convinced 2009 is the year it will happen! If you like music, his Accident Hash podcast is fantastic, his day job is in the marketing and advertising world, he is (of course) on Twitter as cc_chapman, and he has been making independent films for Random Foo for over 10 years. On top of all that, he is a rather serious photography enthusiast! Like I said, a pretty amazing guy. Hopefully, some of his bits of wisdom will help you sort out your own personal brand!

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Talk Tweet To Me - In Words I Can Understand?

In the first part of this post, I covered a lot of the basics that you hear on Twitter - Follow, the mysterious @ thing, DMs, and why you see TinyURL and so often.

But what about those other things that pop up all the time? Especially the weird abbreviations? Lets talk about a few of them!

1. RT
RT, which stands for Retweet, is usually used in two different ways. The first is when people ask you to retweet what they have just posted, and the second is to announce that what they are posting came from someone else.

Examples? We had a chat the other night on Twitter, and we wanted to get the word out to everyone possible. When I wrote a post about it, at the end I included "please RT." On the other hand, when I see something someone else writes that I want to share, I'll post "RT @username ..." That way, everyone knows where it originated from. Since the @username part is after the RT, it will not display in that users Replies timeline.

2. OH
Nope, that doesn't mean "Oh" like the exclamation, and they aren't talking about Ohio. OH stands for overheard. Lets say you're at a party. (Yeah, I like the party example.) Someone says something really goofy that you think is funny. You don't want people to think that YOU would ever say anything that goofy when you put it on Twitter. So instead, you start your tweet off with OH and then write whatever the goofy thing was.

Maybe the party example comes to mind for this one because that is when I see it happening the most. I've also seen people claim that something was overheard when they actually said it themselves. Did I mention that you shouldn't post things you wouldn't want your clients or your mom to see?

OH is also good to use whenever you hear anything random. You don't need to explain that you overheard it when you stick the OH in there. The general protocol is to *not* reveal who said the OH - if you were doing that, you would put an @username in the tweet instead and leave the OH out.

3. FTW
Ah, the always confusing FTW. Many people have made up guesses about what it means, but it actually means "For the Win" and is usually used to reference the awesomeness of something.

@ModernPhotogs is sponsoring the WPPI Giveaway Gala FTW!!!

It come from the gamers online, but even after extensive research (read: 37 seconds with Google), I can't find a specific origin. I promise you though, that is what it means.

4. #this and #that, the #thing
Sometimes, you'll see tweets that either start or end with the pound symbol - # - followed by a word. These are called hashtags, and they actually serve a purpose. You can use them to quickly and easily search for something relating to an event using these tags. This could be a conference, a workshop, or really any newsworthy (and therefore tweetworthy) thing.

Sometimes, Twitter even uses hashtags to display what is popular on Twitter at the moment. During the elections in the USA last year (wow, we can say it was last year now...) there was a banner across the top with things like #elections #obama #mccain and #tinafey and all were links to quickly display tweets relating to those topics.

I'll be using it this year when I go to WPPI, so if you watch my stream you'll see #WPPI there at the end of things. We're also putting together PhotoCampHouston, and we use the tag #photocamphou for that.

Cool bonus feature? You can use things like to set up a chat that uses a chatroom created on the fly - solely based on the chosen #hashtag for the event. Pretty sweet!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

After Hours Live Chat with Anne - Wednesday 9 pm EST

Thanks to all who tuned in for the Live Chat! Some great questions were asked, and I hope the information shared was valuable for you! Extra thanks to the wedding planners who participated in the discussion and shared their thoughts in the sidebar comments with the photographers! You ladies ROCK!!

If you're interested in being featured in a live chat and having it featured on - just drop us a line and we'll try to set up a time for you!

Hi Friends!! I just got back from Mystic 4 and next I'm looking forward to seeing many of you soon at WPPI! While I won't be presenting at WPPI, I will be hosting the Giveaway Gala along with the other lovecats and our sponsors, as well as organizing the launch of the Vegas Wedding Project! So many exciting things happening!! I can't wait!! Since I've been so busy offline outside of the blogosphere lately, I thought rather than taking the time to write another lengthy blog post, I'd just use that time to have a live discussion with anyone who's interested in knowing what I think about... well.... anything! My specialty is definitely marketing and management, but I'm happy to address any other issues that might come up as well. I might even be lucky enough to have some of the other lovecats join in on the conversation!! ;-) This is open to anyone who runs a freelance business, with the knowledge that I obviously have a greater breadth of experience in the photography world. So if you've been dying to ask me a question - I'll be here for you!

Here's a brief bio based on my Mystic 4 presentation:
Anne Ruthmann

"How an Ugly, Fat Girl became a Popular International Photographer"
She didn't get lucky photographing celebrities. She isn't skinny enough to fit into designer clothing. She doesn't have a portfolio filled with lavish, over-the-top weddings. Yet, clients are willing to book her sight-unseen, fly her across the world, and even pay 5 figures for her work. Anne has learned what clients want most and why they will go out of their way and break their budget just to have it. She'll share her secrets to branding, pricing, and client care that have contributed to her rapid success in wedding photography. To view Anne's photography, visit her blog at Anne Ruthmann Photography.

Anne is a self-taught photographer who started photographing weddings in 2005 while living in Detroit, MI, went full time in 2006 while moving to Terre Haute, IN (a rural farm city) and just recently moved to Lowell, MA in 2008. In those few short years she has gained an international following of wedding clients, won awards in AGWPJA and WPJA, been published in several different wedding magazines and was recognized as one of PDN's Top Knots for 2008. Before realizing her passion for wedding photography, Anne spent 10 years working in finance, marketing, and management for everything from large corporations to small non-profits. She regularly shares her extensive business knowledge and experiences on various forums, in private consultations, and on the business blog

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ask Jillian - How to charge friends and family?

For my first installation of "Ask Jillian" I have a question that constantly haunts most photographers! How to handle friends and family?

Since I don't like talking to myself (in public), I'll be giving made-up names to our friends who post anonymously. Today, our question is brought to us by "Muriel."

Muriel writes:
I am CONSTANTLY struggling with what to charge close friends/family for photo sessions. I just finished my first year of photography and it was a successful one (luckily!). But I'm still starting out and can't afford to do a lot of discounted sessions. Especially when right now, that's mostly who I'm doing sessions with. But I also want them to use me so that they'll tell other friends/family about me. What do I charge them??
Well, Muriel, congratulations on a great first year! Let me start off by saying that the answer to this question will be different for every photographer. The only "wrong" policy is not having one. In the end, it's all about making decisions and communicating them clearly. Here are some steps to guide you (and everyone else) through creating a policy.

1. Delineate your audience into clear-cut groups.

(Caution, "best friends" is not clear-cut and it's hard to tell someone "I'm sorry, you're only a 7 on the friend scale, and my discount is for 8+ people." )

For example, these are mine:
-Immediate family (my parents, siblings, and their spouses).
-3AM Friends. Friends who I would feel comfortable calling at 3am if I had a nightmare and vice verse. These are my closest friends. I don't have many and they respect my time.
-Everyone else. That's right, everyone else with whom I have a relationship is in this group.

You will need a different policy for each group. You might choose "cousins" or "vendors" or "my kids' friends' moms", but try to keep it as simple as possible.

2. Know your worth, and communicate it with everyone.

Never give anyone a free or discounted shoot without telling them what you would normally charge for that shoot. Make sure they know the value of the session that they are getting.

For my friends, I let them know what the full cost of the session is whenever the subject is first approached. "Sure, normally my sessions are $xxx, but I like to offer one at-cost session to good friends." Now when they go off and tell others about me, they know exactly what I charge, even if they received a free session.

3. Set boundaries on your generosity, and communicate those too.

In my policy, which I don't mind making public, my immediate family gets as much of my photographic talent as I can force them to take. Of course, we live 2000 miles apart, and I'm only home twice a year. My time is always free to them and products are at-cost.

For my 3AM friends, my wedding and portrait photography services are free, and products are just above cost. Again, we are only talking about a handful of people whom I seldom see. I have done one wedding for a 3AM friend; I stayed in her bedroom the night before her wedding, and we stayed up giggling and talking in the dark.

Everyone else - this is the group where the policy really comes into play. Everyone else gets one at-cost portrait session. This just covers the cost of my editor; my time is free. Products are full-price, but I do provide them the high-resolution images. Weddings are full price.

Also, I only do a limited number of these sessions a month and only if I have the available "free" time. So if they want a "right now" session and my calendar is looking full, I give them the option of paying full price and booking sooner or doing "at-cost" when I have more free time. You need to keep openings in your calendar for paying clients and for "you" time. It's okay to be protective of your time, and those who are deserving of your generosity will understand this.

4. Set expectations for delivery times.

This applies to regular clients too, but it is increasingly important for friends and family. Let them know that since your regular clients need to come first, it will take X weeks to get their photos back to them (probably 2x your normal delivery time). Since you aren't being paid for your time, you need to make sure it fits into your leisurely time. It's best to communicate this before their shoot. If they need more expedited handling, offer them a full-price session or refer them to a friend.

5. Sign all the normal contracts.

I'll be honest, I don't do this with immediate family, but then again I have a really incredible family. With friends and coworkers, I do still have model releases or portrait contracts signed. For the 3AM friend's wedding, they signed a normal wedding contract. (Except the final cost came to $0.) This not only protects both parties, but also helps you communicate to them that you are a professional...not someone with a hobby.

So, Muriel, one idea would be a "Friends Of Muriel February Special"...invite your friends to book a session in February for a special price. Let them know that all sessions will go back to normal price of $XYZ in March. If it generates a lot of interest and makes your friends happy, you can do it again next year during a slow month.

Alternatively, you could decide that your policy is to always give a percentage off for friends and family. Or to never discount at all, and only do full session prices. Another approach with many benefits would be to offer free upgrades to friends and family who purchase sessions at full-cost session.

For exactly "what" to charge...only you will be able to select a price, because only you know your friends' income level and interest level. Choose a few price points between "free" and "full price." At each level, how many friends do you think would book? Do you think those bookings would generate adequate future business? Do you think those friends/family have networking connections with people who are your target client base? Try to think more long term rather than the just short term income they would generate. But if, long term, the discounts won't help your business, you should not feel bad about charging full price if that is what you want your policy to be.

For another point of view, try this previous post: "Leaping from Hobby to Profession"
Another good read from the blog, on pricing in general, is at "The Psychology of Pricing"

I encourage everyone to chime in with other opinions and personal experiences!! I, quite frequently, do not have the best ideas, but our conversation can generate brilliant thoughts!

If you have an "Ask Jillian" question, please email Jillian at

Jillian Kay is a wedding & portrait photographer from San Jose, CA. By weekday, she is a mild mannered software engineer. By weekend, she is a joyful and energetic force behind a camera! Jillian enjoys tackling the tough questions about client relationships and helping others see win/win solutions. When not working, she loves taking walks, blog-stalking, visiting with friends, and enjoying life!.

And here are a few photos I took (at no cost except that I wanted to get to hold her) of my 5 week old niece, Eden. :)

Ask Jillian ---- Anything!

Even with the best of clients and vendors, everyone reaches a point where they have to scratch their heads and say..."How on earth do I respond?" One of my great joys in life, believe it or not, is finding the right answers to those questions. On the Open Source Photo forum, we call these "Dear Silly Lady" letters (you'll see why).

So I'd love to know....what business relationship issues do you have that are stumping you? Send an email to with a description of your problem. Please change the names to protect the guilty! I'll feature your question (anonymously if you'd like) here on PhotoLoveCat and provide how I would respond or what actions I would take to resolve the situation.

In the comments, we can discuss other opinions and ideas that the group has....I always find the 200 heads are better than just mine! In no time at all you'll be back to sleeping peacefully with visions of happy clients dancing in your head!

Email with:
1. A description of your problem.
2. A phone number I can reach you at if I need more information!
3. Whether you'd like me to post your name/website or not. (Usually I'd suggest not, but depends on the circumstance.)

All the best,

Jillian Kay is a wedding & portrait photographer from San Jose, CA. By weekday, she is a mild mannered software engineer. By weekend, she is a joyful and energetic force behind a camera! Jillian enjoys tackling the tough questions about client relationships and helping others see win/win solutions. When not working, she loves taking walks, blog-stalking, visiting with friends, and enjoying life!.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How To Register Your Business

Now that I've operated a business in three different states and spoken to several different accountants and lawyers on this topic, I think I finally feel a little more qualified to help others take the necessary steps to register their business, making their business name official and legal within the United States, local state, and local city of operation. Please note that I am NOT a professional accountant or attorney, and that you should still seek out professional help when making decisions about what type of business to operate and/or how to manage your tax situation- many local small business centers can provide free help if professional help is not yet in your budget. Also note that each state and each city has a different set of requirements for businesses and that you need to seek out the resources within your local community in order to have the most accurate information. What I can do is help you figure out where to go, what to ask, and what to expect.

Why should you register your business with the government?

  • To open a separate business bank account to manage your biz finances separately
  • To establish history in case you ever need to apply for a business loan to grow your biz
  • To have legal documentation of your business name
  • To collect and pay the appropriate sales & income tax (remember that thing about death & taxes?)
  • To purchase tax-free wholesale goods or products for your business or resale
  • To separate your personal tax record from your business tax record
  • To get the appropriate tax deductions that come with running a business
  • To have the peace of mind that you are indeed making your business a legal entity

What will you need to register your business?

Register for your U.S. Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number)
- By Phone w/ Human Assistance: 1-800-829-4933
- Online w/ Computerized Assistance:

Determine Your State & Local License & Tax Requirements
- Online Resources:
- In Person Resources: Search for your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Administration to schedule an appointment with someone who can help you find all of the resources you need to register your business on the local and state level. Local and state laws vary greatly when it comes to operating a business, so it's important to seek out your local resources for the most relevant and localized information.

Register your Trademark, Patent, or Copyright:

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Great Photographer Resources

We have a running list on the right side of this blog with great photography resources when we find them, but if you see this blog in a feed reader or via email, than you probably haven't checked them out lately! We add new links from time to time when we find valuable resources. Because we volunteer our time and information on this blog (we aren't paid for our contributions) it also means that no one pays to be a part of our links, which allows us to share the things we love and not just things which pay to appear on our page. So, if you're looking for some good information, feel free to check out these links:

We also previously published a list of entirely free online resources, which you can find here:

Are there any resources you think we've missed?

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years in the corporate & non-profit world before pursuing her passion for photography. When not behind the computer or camera, she can be found exploring the world with her husband. Follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Talk Tweet To Me

I've been on Twitter a long time, so by now the language used there is sort of second nature to me. And a lot of it is the same stuff you see all the time on IM conversations - things like "LOL" because there is only so much you can fit into 140 characters. I hope to help take the mystery out of some of the other stuff that might come up there.

1. Follow
This one is sort of obvious. You read something that someone likes, and you want to follow them so you can read more. It has a few different impacts on your relationship with that person when it comes to Twitter. Not only do their posts now show up in your stream to read, but depending on their settings, they will now see @ messages that you send to them, and you can receive direct messages (DMs) from them. Follow people you want to keep up with, people that are interesting to you, people you want to network with, companies you use ... heck, you can even follow God, DarthVader, and a long list of other wacky accounts.

Here is the catch though -- just because you follow someone, they may or may not follow you back. The same holds true that you don't have to follow everyone that follows you. Personally, I try to follow people that bring my life value, that I can relate to somehow. I use TweetDeck, as I mentioned before, to keep them all straight. I have to admit, I think that if you're using Twitter to market your business, you *should* try to follow the majority of people that follow you. If someone walked into your studio, you wouldn't just ignore them after telling them about your latest promotion. It is a conversation - join in.

2. The @ Thing
This takes a little bit to get used to, but before you know it you will find it to be second nature. This cool little thing makes it easy for someone else to hear you. Think of it like walking up to someone at a party and saying something - out loud - directly to them.

Something important to know -- the @ reply works best when you put it at the FRONT of the message, before anything else. Otherwise, and some of the other software will not display it to the user you intend to see it.

For example, the other day Anne sent me this message:
@christinebpc thinking about going to SXSW in March for @alexruthmann's spring break- any advice?

The whole world could see her message, but because of that magical @christinebpc up at the very beginning, it showed up on under my "Replies".  How awesome is that? Just like at a party, other people could "hear" what we were saying, and join in the conversation if they wanted to -- sometimes, I find out really helpful things that way. Someone else who read that message to me might choose to tip Anne off to great hotel room deals, or things to be sure not to miss. Just like a group gathering at a party.

The @ part of the example above, where it has @alexruthmann, would not show up under Alex's Twitter reply tab though, because he isn't the lead @ in the tweet. However, it would still be a link to his Twitter stream, so people could follow it and check it out. Some softwares will display it too, and it would show up in Twitter Search as well.

Want to streamline what you see in your Twitter timeline? You have the option in your settings on Twitter to view all @ replies that the people you follow send, to view only the @ replies sent to people you are following, or no @ replies. I have mine set to show me all @ replies, even to the people I don't follow, because I often discover new people and things that way.

You can send @ replies to people you do not otherwise follow. Depending on their settings, they may or may not see them. I use Twitter Search to find any replies I might have missed (along with a variety of other things.)

3. The Direct Message aka DM
You want to say something directly to someone - but you don't want the whole world to see what you're saying. A nifty feature of Twitter is the ability to send someone a Direct Message, or a DM. Only hitch? They have to follow you in order for you to DM them. If they don't follow you, then you just have to shout to the wind with an @ message.

If you are on the Twitter site, and viewing someone's profile page, you can quickly tell if they follow you because there is a "Message" option in the right sidebar, just above the icons of who they follow. If that Message option is there, you're all set. Click it, and send your private message along.

There is an even faster way to send a direct message though! Just type a d before the username, at the very beginning of the tweet, then when you hit send - they will get the message! This is really handy if you use SMS to send tweets along. As long as you know their username, you don't have to go to their profile to send a message.

Note: there is no @ needed when you're sending a DM.

Here is how you would format it:
d AnneRuthmann I got your message about SXSW - it is so awesome! You must come! I can't wait to see you there.

Once I hit send, this would go straight to her.  If you try to do that to someone that doesn't follow you, it will bounce, and I don't think you'll have any way of knowing it unless you're on the Twitter site.

If you use the Message option on their profile page, you do not have to type "d username" also. It is a one or the other thing.

Sometimes you'll see people write a post, and they will say at the end "dm me" or "d me for more details" -- I know someone that sold her used camera gear that way, listing it in a tweet, and the person that bought it sent her a direct message to start to make the arrangements.  

4. TinyURL? What are these strange addresses?
The down side of Twitter is that 140 character limit. Awesome to make quick posts. Not so great to post a long website address. Ugh.

Two of the services out there - there are many others, I'm sure - that will allow you to shorten a URL so it will fit can be found at and at I use most of the time because it is shorter, but was one of the first available, allows you to create a custom TinyURL, the URLs are permanent and never expire, and is a reliable service.

Hope that helps with the basics - in the next few day, I'll talk more about some of the other terms you often see on Twitter. Is there anything you've seen over there that you can't figure out? Let me know!

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Balancing the Wheel of Life

When I saw this post recently on my friend Anne-Marie's blog, Soap & the Finer Things in Life, I immediately asked her if I could share it with you, and she was kind enough to say yes! I've known Anne-Marie since 1998 and she has always inspired me so much with her wise business advice - she was the first person that truly taught me how to price for profit, and we all know how important that is!

Anne-Marie learned about this from her friend Lynn Giuliani, a member of her Mastermind Group. Using this will give you a great start to balance your life to help you set your goals and priorities for 2009.

The excercise is simple.

1. Draw a circle (or if you're artistically challenged like me, trace a circle)

2. Divide your circle into 6 parts. Try to make them equal.

3. Label them: Financial, Physical, Social, Family, Mental and Spiritual

4. Take a few minutes to decide how you feel about each of these categories in your life. What is your level of satisfaction in each of these areas? Only you can determine what your level of satisfaction is. Your idea of how successful or happy you are will not be the same as your sister's, neighbor's or brother's. That's okay. This is an exercise just for you and you don't need to share it with anyone. Shade in your piece of the pie to your level of satisfaction.

5. Cut out your wheel. Does it roll? If it doesn't roll, think of the area that your wheel is flat in. Is this an area you'd like to see improvement in? Make some goals around it.

Finding the balance in life is a constant negotiation with all six of these areas. Doing this quick and easy exercise will help you determine where to put your energies and focus towards in 2009.

Thanks again to Anne-Marie for sharing her post & photos with us. She is writing a series of post to start off the new year with business advice for soapmakers - but I promise, there are some gems in there that can help us all - no matter what business we're in! Be sure to check it out!

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tools for Tweeting

The whole point of Twitter is that it is all about the conversation. You don't want to just post a tweet about the latest update on your blog. Follow people that follow you - and others that might be of interest to you. Make sure you talk with them, just don't just post updates!

You're using Twitter to build your personal brand. YOU are what your clients are buying when they hire you - everything that they get, including your stunning photography, is an extension of you. So always remember, if you don't want something attached to your personal brand (the details of the party you went to on Saturday, your rant about someone or something) -- then don't post them to Twitter, or really anywhere else online!

You can always just use the regular web browser for reading and posting to Twitter - lots of people do that. But why limit yourself to just that when there are some other really cool software options out there?

I use Twitter a LOT, and I keep up with a wide variety of people - wedding photographers, children photographers, other wedding vendors, friends in my area, and knitters. To make it easier to keep up with everyone, I use Tweetdeck. The coolest feature of Tweetdeck? I can sort people into groups! That makes it so easy to keep up with what is going on in my different circles of friends!  Note: one big tip for using Tweetdeck? When you first set it up, it takes awhile to populate with everyone you're following and all of their posts. Don't worry, as people update, they will update in Tweetdeck too. (PC, Mac - Free)

When I'm away from my computer and want to post to Twitter, my tool of choice for the iPhone is Hahlo - which actually runs through the web browser. It has a nice, clean interface, easy to use buttons, and my favorite? When people respond to a post on Twitter, you can see what they are responding to - right in a nice, streamlined interface! (Web browser based, great for mobile phones - Free)

Twitterific is another very popular application for Twitter, available for both Macs and the iPhone.  It is a nice, clean, easy to use interface. (Mac, iPhone - Free)

Before I discovered Tweetdeck, I used Twirl, which runs on Adobe Air (like Tweetdeck), so it will run on both PCs and Macs. It also has a very nice, clean interface with some customization options. Sometimes I switch back to using it if I want something smaller on my desktop.  (PC, Mac - Free)

Other applications that are highly recommended - but I haven't tried them out yet!
- TwitterFon (iPhone - Free)
- Twinkle (iPhone - Free)
- Tweetie (iPhone - $2.99)
- Twitterberry (Blackberry - Free)
- TwitterFox - Firefox add-on (requires Firefox. PC, Mac - Free)
- TwitBin - Firefox add-on (requires Firefox. PC, Mac - Free)
- Twitterlicious (requires .NET framework to be installed. PC only - Free)

What is your favorite, most used Twitter application? I would love to hear all about it!

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

tipbook for brides

After photographing a lot of weddings I have been witness to some things that didn't go as planned and things that worked really well. I have also come to realize what things help me in getting the best photographs possible for my couples. Our experiences as photographers can be helpful to our future couples.

I always tell my brides to give themselves more time then they think to get into their wedding dress. One wedding I was photographing the bride listened to my advice and started to slip into her dress with plenty of time before the ceremony even though she only had to zip up her dress and go. As her bridesmaids were zipping up her dress we all heard a terrible noise followed by the realization that the zipper on her dress broke. Thankfully I had a mini sewing kit in my bag with me and because we had started to get the bride in her dress early we had plenty of time to sew her into her dress. The bride even joked "well now we know why I got such a great deal on my dress". My point is because we were prepared with time and a sewing kit what could of been a crisis ended up being a funny story for the bride to share with everyone at the reception. After that experience I found myself telling all my couples when they first met with me to bring along an emergency kit with them to the bride's dressing room stuffed with things like scissors, a sewing kit, crazy glue, advil, stain remover, bandaids, safety pins, an extra set of tuxedo buttons in case someone forgot their set (yep that has happened too).

This year I worked with a designer to create a tipbook for my brides. The tipbook is illustrated with my photographs and 15 of my tips for brides to help them have their day go smoothly and for me to get the best photographs possible.

An example of one tip is my personal pet peeve that gorgeous wedding gowns show up on plastic hangers, most brides love to have a picture of their dress hanging, so I encourage brides to bring along a pretty hanger for their dress because I find it makes a big difference in the final photograph. It is something that most brides would not of known to think of and this year I have been thrilled with the variety of beautiful hangers that I have seen.

I live in a very cold climate and often shoot winter weddings. I love getting my brides out in the snow for pictures and have always encouraged them to bring along a pair of white winter boots to wear under their dress. In most cases the dresses are so long you don't even see them and it makes the bride so much more comfortable for picture time. I have also had brides trek out to the photo location in their winter boots and then slip on their wedding shoes once we have them in place but having those boots makes all the difference in getting a bride to spend more then 5 minutes outside with you for pictures. It's important that they feel comfortable. Since including that tip in my book many of my brides have excitedly told me about the fun white winter boots they have found and often they want a picture of them because they become another style element to their day.

We all know that the more relaxed and comfortable a wedding couple is the better results you will be able to get with your photographs. Put your experience and knowledge to work and think of those tips you find yourself sharing with your couples and put together a little booklet for them with your ideas for making their wedding day go smoothly and allowing you to get the best photographs possible. I know my brides have appreciated the booklets and I have appreciated how much easier it has made my day.