Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where to Find Great Free Photo Business Education

Learning about photography is often the work of amateur photographers, while learning how to run a business is often the work of professionals photographers. Unfortunately, no matter how creative you are, if you want to make a living from your photography, you must understand the business side as well as you understand the photography. For that reason, I'm pretty jazzed about some great and FREE opportunities to learn more about the business of professional photography. If being a professional photographer or working for yourself is one of your new year resolutions, than check out these great opportunities to learn for free:

1. CHASE JARVIS LIVE
This is one of my favorite new additions to the world of professional photography education. Chase Jarvis Live is sponsored by Polaroid, which means he doesn't have to charge you for the content he's creating. He's recorded live interviews and ARCHIVED them for your FREE viewing pleasure to revisit whenever you have time. I've seen three so far and I have to say it's well worth your time to sit down with some morning coffee once a week to check it out. What's great about Chase is that he pulls in people from outside of the photography world- people who approach business and entrepreneurship from many different perspectives. I'm confident you won't be disappointed and you'll learn at least one new thing from each episode, even if you've been in the business for a while. If I could give Chase an official Photo Lovecat stamp- I would, because he's nailed the lovecat way. Visit the link below to check out the series:
http://blog.chasejarvis.com/live/

2. THE JOY OF MARKETING
I went back and forth about including this as a resource because the free content is a marketing pull to bring you into paid content options, however, I figure you're a smart cookie and if you should be applying money to your credit cards instead of accumulating more debt, than you'll resist the temptation to get the paid content until your finances are in order. That being said, the FREE offerings are so good that I HAD to mention it. Solid, direct, concise material for building your business, your brand, and your marketing strategies. Way to go Sarah Petty! Most of the stuff that you might want to pay for is actually available for free during the "live events." So, watch out for those and put time aside in your calendar to keep the livecast on in the background while you edit. Sarah's program has been around for more than a year now, so there are some real gems that you can access right now on the website before the next live event. Check it out on:
http://www.thejoyofmarketing.com/free

3. PUG, SMUG, ASMP, AND MEET-UP
After moving my business three times, I can definitely say that meeting other photographers in your local area and developing a local support network of colleagues is a key to running a successful business. In the Boston area, we have a lot of photography and meet-up groups, each one with their own particular flavor. All of the ones I've mentioned are free to join and are worth investigating to find out what's available in your local area. Here's a way to figure out which one is best for you:

PUG Meetings- sponsored by Pictage but open to everyone, these are great for meeting your local wedding & portrait photography community, sharing business ideas, and connecting with other professional photographers for assisting or second shooting trades. Each local PUG has a different feeling and community, which you'll learn more about after visiting a couple times. If you're a wedding or portrait photographer, this is a great free resource and way to connect with other professionals in your area:
http://www.pictage.com/thephotolife/pugs

SMUG Meetings- sponsored by SmugMug and open to everyone, the SmugMug community is generally made of amateur, part-time, sports, and fine art photographers. Since I still have yet to attend one, I can only imagine that it's very similar to the PUG meetings in that it's a great place to connect with other like-minded photographers and to learn a little something new at each meeting. Here's a link to find Smugs in your area:
http://www.smugmug.com/smugs/info/

ASMP Meetings- the American Society of Media Photographers is generally geared toward established professional commercial photographers and photojournalists. Unlike PUGs and SMUGs, there is a fee to be a regular member of a local ASMP chapter (much like PPA), however it's minimal compared to other memberships and it generally includes perks and discounts that you wouldn't get otherwise. I included it on this list as a FREE resource because there are generally plenty of informal get-together events happening on a weekly or monthly basis where you can meet the group and find out if it's the right fit for you. Since many of these people are established professionals with strong opinions, tread lightly and figure out the personalities and politics before asking too many questions, but don't let that stop you from checking out whatever they have to offer for free. Find your closest chapter here:
http://asmp.org/chapters/your-local-chapter


Now that you're armed with some great options for improving your business in the next year- I hope you'll let us know what you've found useful and if there are any resources we should add to our list! Check out the ones we've already listed in the past as well:
MORE Great Photographer Resources

Anne Ruthmann is a documentary lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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, November 18, 2011

When Should You Rebrand? (and when NOT to rebrand)

Good Reasons To Rebrand:
  • You are attracting the wrong clients
  • Your product, service, or style has changed and is no longer reflected in your brand
  • Your brand is out of date because it was created for a different market or decade
  • Your current brand has acquired a bad reputation
  • Your brand is easily confused with another established brand in your field
  • You want to publicly demonstrate dramatic changes to your business
When NOT To Rebrand:
  • You just want a fresh look even though you are attracting great clients
  • You are moving to a new location but continue to offer the same service and products
  • You have rebranded or just established your brand within the last year
  • Your current brand is well established and has a great reputation in the industry
  • Your competition got a new look and now you feel like you need one
  • Your sales are down and you think rebranding will boost them

Really, the only good reason for rebranding is when you want to change the direction of your business and/or the kind of client that you attract- any other reason may do more damage than good to your business momentum.

If you have decided that it is time to rebrand for the right reasons, consider the following questions carefully:

1. What does your current brand fail to communicate or attract?

2. How will a new brand better communicate your product or service and attract your ideal market?

3. Based on the strength of your current brand's reputation, what is the minimum amount of change that will have the maximum impact toward your goals?


There are many different ways you can make changes in order to serve your goals- consider which ones will have the greatest impact:

SERVICE CHANGES:
Changing your service methods is one of the easiest ways to change the perception of your brand without changing a look that has already established itself in the market. By simply improving the service aspects of your business, you can boost your word of mouth marketing and reputation in the marketplace. Consider the excitement that comes with new food offerings at your favorite restaurants, or a return of a seasonal only favorite item. Just be wary of making changes too frequently in the customer experiences so that your clients don't suffer from a type of "facebook frustration." Here are some examples of service changes you may want to consider:
- Reorganization and optimization of website menu and navigation
- Improve response times to inquiries and problems
- Improve delivery times on products and services
- Streamline customer options and selection process
- Change service or product offerings
- Product packaging and unboxing experience

MESSAGE & TONE CHANGES:
Making changes to the tone and messages communicated in marketing materials can be a subtle way of changing directions and identifying with your intended market. McDonald's has changed it's slogan countless times as well as the formality and informality of its wording in marketing materials. It has moved from "you deserve a break today"- targeted to parents suggesting a break from cooking at home and entertaining their kids, to "i'm lovin' it"- targeted to young adults suggesting satisfaction of a craving when they see the golden arches on the side of the road. Here are several elements of a branding message that you may want to consider:
- Tagline or motto
- Written copy on website and in marketing materials
- Testimonials from clients
- Stories and Case Studies that demonstrate service and product offerings
- Integration of accomplishments or statistics that establish credibility
- Use of social media to deliver value and convey brand messages

VISUAL CHANGES:
This is generally the first thing people think of when they think of rebranding, but as you've seen, it's not the only influence on your overall brand. In fact, if you have an established brand, I'd recommend looking at the other changes you can make before you implement a visual change. We've seen plenty of iconic brands undergo visual changes in our lifetime (Pepsi, Apple, Adidas, etc.) and it's important to note that changes which were received positively in the market often held on to some elements of the former branding. When GAP took too drastic a departure from its former logo, the market responded negatively to the new look, which resulted in GAP changing back to their original logo. If you've created an iconic logo for your company, be very careful about how you change it. You may only need to make very subtle changes in order to attract a new market, convey a new experience, or bring it into a new decade. Consider these various elements of your visual brand:
- Color palette of logo or marketing pieces (website, business card, newsletters, etc.)
- Fonts, spacing, and layout of marketing pieces
- Shapes used in marketing pieces (going from squares and lines to circles and waves)
- Complexity or simplicity of elements used in visual marketing pieces

NAME CHANGE:
I place this one last and in its own category because the only reason for considering a name change should be when you want to make a complete departure from your former clients and reputation. A name change from "XYZ Studio" to "XYZ Photography" is not that dramatic if your main service has always been photography. However, if you're a graphic designer, this would convey that you are now ONLY offering photography, thus separating yourself from your design clients and reputation. Consider the impact Netflix had when it created an entirely different brand for DVD service and how separating it from Streaming Video services was not welcomed by its customer base leading Netflix to reverse their new venture. A subtle name change may not have that much impact on your business as long as you retain the original web address for at least 2 years after you make the change. However, if you are going from JD Photo to Jane Doe Photography- it should be because JD Photo was too easily confused with other similar names and conveyed a brand name that was more casual than the type of work you want to attract. Before considering any name change, google the name and see what other websites appear in searches to make sure you can carve out a unique name for your service in the online marketplace.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Test out any changes on your favorite clients or on people that you'd like to attract with your service or product. Get some good feedback from people who would have an impact on your bottom line before solidifying any changes. Just as there is beta-testing with new software, there should be some amount of beta-testing with changes to your brand. If you've gone through the branding process, or are in the middle of it, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!


Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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, October 21, 2011

What Makes You Different? How to Define Your Style

Differentiation is one of the biggest keys to thriving in a crowded marketplace. If your work looks like everyone else's, than there's no good reason to choose you over someone else, or to pay you more than someone else, unless someone has already developed a personal relationship with you.  When you find what it is that makes your work different and sets you apart from the crowd, you are no longer competing against anyone else- you're effectively creating your own little niche in the market.

A lot of photographers starting out take a while to find their style, and I don't blame them- I was there once too! Even when I was a musician, a painter, and a teacher, I started out by emulating someone else's style before I was able to find what felt good for me and before I had the skills to really create on my own and break the boundaries of what was traditional, trendy, or taught to me. Finding your style can be difficult to identify and may require the help of a few people who love you, but once you've identified what makes YOU different from everyone else, you can finally begin to sell yourself on your uniqueness and attract clients who love what YOU love and are willing to go out of their way to hire you for it!

Here are a few tips to help you find your individual sense of style, and what separates you from everyone else:

1. WEED OUT IMITATION
Go through your portfolio and get rid of anything that looks like something you've seen somewhere else, or that which is a direct copy of something you've seen before. What you're left with is what makes you unique.

2. TUNE INTO YOUR AESTHETIC
Anytime you see something that strikes you as cool or amazing, ask yourself why you feel that way? What captivates you? Is it the colors? Framing? Moment? Lighting? Posing? If you have a hard time identifying it in one image, try collecting a bunch of different images that move you and look at them collectively to see if you can identify any trends that seem to appear frequently. It's often much easier for our minds to make sense of patterns than it is for us to analyze isolated incidents.

3. GET OUTSIDE OPINIONS
Poll your friends, family, clients, and even other photographers! Ask them for three words that they feel best describes your work or your personality. If their answers are what you were expecting, than you're on the right track. If their answers are not what you were expecting, ask more questions to help define the outward signals you're sending to others.

Once you've identified what makes you different and unique- you need to make sure your branding, portfolio, and products are in-line with your unique preferences in order to create a complete and cohesive marketing message that will appeal to people who appreciate your sense of beauty and art. Put the images and things that YOU love first, not just the ones that you think will sell best. You want clients who will hire you for what YOU do best. Share your uniqueness and you will attract others who appreciate it. Give people a reason to be intrigued, to stay longer, to explore more. Pretty is nice, but different is interesting... and interesting attracts more attention and sells better against the competition.


Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Jerry Ghionis Workshop

Review: Jerry Ghionis Seminar

This is another seminar I attended this week that is part of the Akron Photo Series.

Website: http://www.akronphotoseries.com/

Presenter: Jerry Ghionis

Date: June 14, 2011

Location: Akron, Ohio

Price: $375

Included: All day workshop with Jerry Ghionis

Bonuses: 10% of the proceeds went to Akron Childrens Hospital (I believe that Jerry donated all of the proceeds), lunch

What I Expected: To learn a bit more about posing and see how he would work with a "real" couple.

Expectations Met: Yes! Jerry packed a lot into the time we had with him and he far surpassed my expectations (yep, again!!)

Summary: After seeing Jerry present the night before, I was pretty excited to see him the next day and see what he is like in a smaller setting on a normal-ish type workshop. The class was supposed to be 25 but we were easily approaching 30-35 people but it wasn't too big of a deal. The workshop was hosted at a local photographer's studio.

We started out the morning with some questions and answers and a bit more in depth talking from Jerry. Once the couple arrived Jerry went straight into the posing portion of the day and so many of his tips immediately made sense. I, like I'm sure many photographers, tend to learn visually more than by just reading so to see him "walk the walk" so to speak made a world of a difference than just hearing him "talk the talk" the night before.

I should note here that Jerry expressed the night before that since we were so limited on time (Jerry rarely does one day shoots) instead of bringing our cameras and spending time trying to get a "money shot" he'd prefer that we watched and learned and only brought point and shoots to the workshop the next day. He expressed quite a few times during the workshop this as well, this was NOT to be a gangbang style workshop where everyone is vying for a shot, this was to learn from him and if we *had* to take a picture, use it for learning purposes.

Jerry spent a lot of time indoors and outdoors showing us a variety of poses and things he does in situations. It was really fascinating to see how he worked and how he evokes emotion in his couples to achieve the candid feel to his images. I also loved seeing how he handled poor light and many of his tips that he gave were pretty fantastic as far as finding good light and what angle to shoot at. One thing that was brilliant about watching him work was that he never got flustered and always shot with a purpose and didn't spray and pray. He also almost always nailed the exposure in one shot. That's pretty impressive in itself as I've been to workshops in the past where the instructor shot about 20 images off to get one good image.

The workshop included lunch and Jerry and Melissa both made it a point to go table to table and chat with everyone there and make everyone feel welcomed. They are both really sweet and kind people and it was nice they took the time to do that as often that doesn't happen.

After the shooting & lunch we went back to the studio where Jerry showed the images from the day and did a bit more talking about his work. He also showed some images for his own wedding which was really lovely to see (he shot a lot that day himself!). He ended up staying again past his "quitting time" and I felt again that it was kind of him to do so when others have not done so.

The only thing that was a slight bummer was that people DID bring their cameras and shot like crazy at the couples and it appeared it wasn't JUST for learning purposes. I did take a few shots with my P&S but for the most part I just wanted to watch and learn which wasn't always easy with all of the cameras and people vying for the best angle to photograph the models in. Photographers, when you go to a workshop and the instructor says to learn, get your moneys worth and LEARN! You can't use these images for promotional purposes so invest in yourself that day and really take in what you are paying for!

Jerry did NOT pimp any of his products other than one small mention of a discount that was available to our group. The only item he DID have that we all wanted was his nifty video light called the Ice Light which is pretty dang cool and they are hoping to have it for sale sometime soon. Keep your eyes out for it as it's going to sell to photographers like hotcakes (or should I say actions?).

Recommend? Abso-freaking-lutely again!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Jerry Ghionis Seminar

This is another seminar I attended this week that is part of the Akron Photo Series.

Website: http://www.akronphotoseries.com/

Presenter: Jerry Ghionis

Date: June 13, 2011

Location: Akron, Ohio

Price: $60

Included: 3 hour presentation from Jerry Ghionis

Bonuses: 10% of the proceeds went to Akron Childrens Hospital (I believe that Jerry donated all of the proceeds)

What I Expected: To learn a bit more about posing.

Expectations Met: Yes! Jerry packed a lot into the time we had with him and he far surpassed my expectations.

Summary: I saw Jerry present a couple years ago at WPPI and his presentation was strictly on albums. While I learned a LOT during that seminar, I have always wanted to catch one of his posing seminars but I've always managed to sleep through his WPPI platforms since they are at 8AM (dear WPPI gods, please rectify this!). Beyond that the first time I met Jerry was at a party and I had a wee bit of alcohol in me. A friend introduced us and I asked him if he was a photographer. Whoops. The lovely thing is that he laughed it off and thought it was amusing instead of getting on a high horse like others may have done. Ever since then I've always thought of him kindly.

Jerry spent the time prior to the seminar starting wandering around the room introducing himself to everyone. I thought that was really kind. No cut directs this time ;) He and Melissa (his wife) made a solid attempt to make sure to talk to everyone.

Sadly the turnout for this presentation was not quite what it was for Jasmine. I'd guess there was about 100 people there? I know it is summer and scheduling things can be a bit of a nightmare with kids and vacations but it was sad to see. I hope that if this series continue that we give a better showing for people in the future :)

Jerry spoke for a little over 3 hours (going 45 minutes past the end time of 9:30 to make sure that all of what he wanted to speak about was covered and that all questions were answered which I appreciate!) about posing. He began with a slideshow of all of his greatest hits so to speak and then went into his presentation basically about how to adjust your attitude to see the beauty in every person and how as a photographer to make the beauty shine. He touched on posing, lighting and setting up locations to not look nearly as gnarly. What was really great was that he would show before and afters of really awful rooms and what he did to make it work. He then showed action/reaction shots where he had the client in a good pose but it needed some emotion and what he'd do to evoke the emotion. Since we're all visual people, I feel that was really helpful to see. Often there was also a video that accompanied the pictures so you could visualize everything together and what occurred.

Jerry spoke concisely, slowly and was very relaxed. He was very easy to follow when taking notes and it wasn't all in the accent ;) I loved that he wasn't too stuffy and would freely throw out a curse word here or there. In a past life I swear I was a pirate so I appreciate it when people swear (yes, I am weird).

I also wanted to note that while he mentioned the things he had for sale (picpockets, Ice Society) he did NOT overly push it nor mention it more than once or twice. At no point did I feel that we were in a commercial for his items. I know that in years past, this has been a bone of contention with his seminars but it appears that he's listened to the choir on this and backed off a bit. It was nice though that he did give a set of his picpockets out to the person attending that had been in business the longest.

Recommend? Abso-freaking-lutely. It was a shame if you missed this and you need to see him whenever possible!

I will be following this up with a review of the next day's workshop in a few days where we got to see him in action with a couple etc.

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You Already Have The Answers

While consulting for other small businesses, I've found that most people already have the answers to help them overcome the problems they're currently facing, but for whatever reason they ignore those answers or they convince themselves that someone else has a better answer.  There are so many different ways to solve problems or move forward, but the best solution is the one that will work for YOU.  Fortunately, you probably already know what that is.  Unfortunately, you may be spending so much of your time thinking about, and maybe even trying out, the ways that other people do things that you've confused what works best for you with what works best for other people.

For example, I used to look at a lot of blogs and participate in a lot of forums.  If I did enough of it, eventually one of these things would happen:
  • I'd compare myself and my work to that of others and either feel inferior or superior.
  • I'd feel like I had to try what everyone else was trying because it was different and seemed "cool".
  • I'd have an idea I thought was original and want to try it, but as soon as I found that someone else had tried it, I wouldn't even attempt it because it no longer felt original.
  • I'd spend more time focusing on others and what they were doing rather than focusing on what I needed to do.
I've tried to re-enter the world of reading lots of other blogs and message boards, but each time I've spent more than an hour on these things, I start to notice one of the feelings above creeping back in.  In each case, they take me further away from who I am as an artist and as a business person.  I'm not saying there isn't value or inspiration to be found by checking in once in a while to see what's new, or to learn what "everyone" is obsessing about right now; what I'm saying is not to get so consumed by it that you start questioning yourself and your individual style, or that you start judging others rather than just being at peace with the fact that everyone is different and on their own unique journey.

So, how do we solve this problem?

The only way for you to get better at what you do is to listen to yourself.  Listen to what feels right and good for you.  Listen to what you're saying to yourself.  Notice when you say, "I can't" or "I don't know how."  Either find someone who "can" or spend time investing in yourself so that you can "know" for yourself.  Push yourself to try new and different things, but always analyze whether you feel good about what you did, how you did it, and why you did it.  If a task you're doing feels painful or too difficult, it's a clear sign you need to find someone else who enjoys it and thinks it's easy (yes, there are people who love doing the things we hate- like accountants!)  Just because someone else "seems" to be doing it all on their own, doesn't mean that you have to.  You have a unique set of strengths and those are what you need to spend your time focusing on in order to be successful.  

You already have the answers, you just need to take yourself seriously.  If you aren't sure how to listen to yourself, get a mentor, a coach, or a friend to listen to you and be your mirror by sharing what they hear you saying.  Sometimes we dismiss our own thoughts, but they have power and control over us in ways that we often don't realize.  When we hear someone repeat these thoughts back to us- we gain a greater awareness of our own truth and a window into our own best solutions.

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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.  Check out her next workshop or free talk at SmarterBusinessWorkshop.com.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thank You Notes: Ace in the Hole

When I was a child there was one thing my parents were very diligent about and it was sending out thank you cards for every gift I received. Much of the winter months of my youth (due to Christmas and birthday gifts) was spent evading this chore that I hated with a passion. As I grew up though, I began to understand why you send thank you notes and above that how nice they are to receive. I don't know about you, but when I get one in the mail - or even email - from a client, friend or relative it makes me smile and quite literally makes my day. Who wouldn't want to share that kind of love with their clients or potential clients?

Let me make this simple: send thank you cards or notes!

Since I grew up doing this from a young age, this has always been something that I've incorporated into my business from day one but I know that many of you are not. When I meet with a potential client, I send out a card if I have their address or an email if I do not. I let them know that I appreciate them considering me for their wedding and touch on anything that we spoke about during the meeting. When a client books, I send out a handwritten thank you card expressing how thankful I am for their business and state I am looking forward to their day. Finally the day of the wedding I always drop a card in their card box wishing them well and thanking them for letting me be a part of their day. The feedback that I get from these little notes is amazing. Clients just LOVE it and always say that no one else's photographers do that.

Thank you notes are not very time consuming and you don't need to have custom ones made. I've been able to find ones that go along with my branding at Target and Marshalls. Pick up a pack or two and start sending... and let me know what your feedback from it is!

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dirty Little Secret of the Photography Industry, Pt. 2

There are a lot of photographers "faking it" until they "make it."

Since some people misinterpreted my last post on percentage of full time photographers in our industry, let's be clear about what I mean by "faking it":

  • suggesting that a portfolio full of images created at a workshop came from hired jobs
  • telling clients that you've been photographing weddings for 5 years when 4 of those years you were just attending as a guest and bringing your camera along
  • creating styled bridal shoots and wedding set-ups and passing them off as real weddings
  • using images created by other photographers to represent your own professional portfolio
  • using models that you've done trade work for and claiming they hired you
  • claiming you're an award-winning photographer without actually receiving an award
  • selling with images from photographers that are no longer part of your company, or are not a regular part of your photography team
  • passing off your images as a second shooter as if you were the primary shooter

Deception of any kind is just wrong. What makes me sad is that there's a lot of it floating around in our industry and because clients and newer photographers can't tell the difference between what's real and what's not, they can get sucked into it like a moth to a flame.  I've even heard of workshops that advocate people "fake it until you make it," but I really don't see a lasting business strategy in that.  Having confidence in your abilities wherever you are- yes, but saying you have experience that you don't- no.  The minute your colleagues find out what you've been doing- you've lost their respect for you and your business because they won't know what else you may be lying about.  Also, you're only putting yourself in a really awkward situation when you claim to have more experience and then find yourself in a situation in which other people are taking a financial risk on you bringing that to the table, but you can't.

I have so much respect for people who are humble about their situation and can sit down with a couple and say, "look, you're my second wedding and I'm giving you an awesome rate because you're putting a lot of trust in me." I really don't see the need for people to lie about where they came from or how long they've been in this- if people like your work, they really aren't going to care how long you've been in the game- so why lie about it?  There's actually more power in being real and honest- which helps clients be more understanding and knowledgable of when and if something goes wrong, and establishes a level of trust and respect built on honesty.  That honesty helps you create a better connection with your local photography community- which becomes your first line of help if something goes wrong and you need a backup.
An honest business will always outlast a business built on a foundation of lies.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Dirty Little Secret of the Photography Industry, Pt. 1

80% of people who call themselves a professional photographer are not making their full time living as a professional photographer.

Unfortunately we don't have a way to get the hard facts on this number because it might actually be something more like 90%. How would we measure it? Photography websites compared to tax returns? If you restrict the answer to a survey stemming from a professional organization, than it's going to look very different because you're surveying a set of people who have already fully invested in joining a professional organization. So, this number is based on my personal experience of living and working as a full-time professional photographer, talking with other photographers, and engaging in community groups with other photographers.

Photography is a great part-time hobby turned extra source of income for a lot of people, but very few photographers are making a full time living doing this. Many photographers won't reveal to their clients- or even to other photographers- that they have another job because they are afraid it will make them seem less serious as a photographer. I kind of understand why they would do this when it comes to working with clients, though I think it would help clients have a better understanding of a lot of things, as well as appropriate expectations about service for someone who isn't a full time photographer.

Where this lack of full-disclosure becomes most dangerous is with young photographers or aspiring artists who don't know the full story. They have no idea what percentage of the websites and blogs they see are actually doing photography for a living. They end up thinking photography is an easy way to make a living doing what they love and then start out basing their own business off of people who may not even be running a business profitable enough to pay the bills.

In Boston, there are five major photography schools that pump out at least 150 photography graduates each year who expect to make a full time living in photography because they now have a degree in it. They get starry eyed reading photography blogs and they assume that people who post a lot on their blogs are making a full time living in photography. They have no idea what's really happening behind the scenes, or how what seems like a "career" on someone's blog is really just a part-time job that helps cover expenses like iPads, nice lenses, and the latest camera gear for 80% of the photographers out there.

I work out of a studio where I'm surrounded by over 150 other artist studios. When I look at the people who are making a full time living doing what they love, I see people who are spending at least 50% of their time on running, managing, and marketing their business. They are both business savvy and artistically creative and they work hard at furthering themselves in both areas on a regular basis. Without the two, it's pretty difficult to make a full-time, self-employed living doing what you love. Now, you could actually be a horrible artist and still make a living from art if you're very business savvy, which tends to piss off a lot of artists, but..
If you're an amazing artist without much in the way of business smarts (or someone managing your business for you) than you're going to spend a lot of time living the "starving artist" lifestyle.

There, I said it, someone needed to.

(Update: This post has stirred quite a discussion... view the comments to see what other people have to say about the topic...)

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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. Check out her next workshop at SmarterBusinessWorkshop.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Jasmine Star Seminar

This seminar was held in Akron Ohio as part of the Akron Photo Series.

Website: http://www.akronphotoseries.com/schedule.html

Presenters: Jasmine Star

Date: March 29, 2011

Location: Akron, Ohio

Price: $45 with a discount (regular price $60)

Included: 3 hour presentation from Jasmine Star

Bonuses: 10% of proceeds went to Akron Childrens Hospital

What I Expected: To see what all of the fuss was about without waiting in a line at WPPI.

Expectation Met: Meh. I didn't become the latest Stargazer but she did have a few tips I plan on incorporating into my business.

Summary: I know I have got a lot of questions as to WHY I went to this from people on Twitter last night. It was funny that my followers knew me enough to know that ever since my last few workshops/seminars I've really cooled my heels and stopped drinking a lot of the kool-aid that has been passed around. However I wanted to give her a fair shot to see what all of the fuss was about. I met Jasmine a few years ago at WPPI and I thought she was quite lovely, humble and relatable. With her being so close to home (20 minutes!) I figured that I owed it to myself to give her a fair shot and I firmly believe that even if the experience is bad, you can take away something from it and learn from it.

When we walked into the room Jasmine was greeting everyone as they came through registration. She totally skipped me which was either an oversight (which is what I truly want to believe) or on purpose. I really hope it wasn't the latter but I also know that I have made my bed of being a bit of a rebel for speaking my mind within the photographer community so I'm okay with it if it was a cut direct.

There was a good crowd there last night for her - I'm glad to see there was a good turnout because I've heard some of the speakers brought in for the Akron Photo Series were not having large turnouts. I am really bad at guessing numbers but I'd guess around 200 people? Most of us arrived early to get seats and to chat with everyone. There is a group of us that meet up every month so we are all pretty friendly. I also think every single person (save for one) that has shot for me was there last night which is kind of fun.

Jasmine spoke for about 3 hours straight and gave mostly branding information on how to make your online presence stronger and more reflective of you. There was a small break but other than that it was 3 hours of solid speaking guided by a slideshow presentation projected onto a screen. She told her story and what worked for her and how she got from starting out with a dream to be a photographer after her wedding in 2006 to today where she is well known and booking $10K weddings. She gave a lot of solid information about how to personalize your brand and things you could do to make your branding reflect you more to ultimately attract clients that are your ideal clients. I took notes and I definitely feel that there is a few things that I can take back with me and implement into my business and use to further enhance my business and branding. I was disappointed that there was not a Q&A session at the end due to lack of time (it ended almost on the nose of 9:30).

I'm going to keep it real for you guys. There were three glaring problems last night that really took away from her presentation.

One, she talks way too fast. If you think that online she seems fast, in real life it is about 2 times as fast. When you are trying to not only take in what she is saying but take notes it becomes almost impossible to keep up. I brought my computer b/c I am a fast typer so I could keep up with her for the most part taking notes but I saw many people giving up about 30 minutes in and putting their paper and pens away. At one point she told us that she doesn't talk fast, we just listen slow. I know it was a joke but it was almost offensive.

The second problem was that while she had an outline for the presentation, it was still a bit jumbled and more often than not I would be completely lost as to what points went under what sections and so forth. There was a lot of "I'll expand on that later" without expanding on it and jumping around on topics. The anal outliner in me died a bit over this.

Finally there were quite a few glaring discrepancies in her presentation and it was a bit troubling to hear. i.e. she said in the beginning of the seminar that she booked her first wedding for $1K. Later when expanding on the subject she mentions that the bride came to her with a budget of $1K but Jasmine wouldn't include the disc of images for that price so the bride ended up paying $1500 to include the disc. So, her first wedding was NOT $1k. Little things like that I picked up on and they were bothering me.

Jasmine, I am doubtful that you know of our little place on the web but if you do, please listen.

I took two years in public speaking and a little of me was dying last night during the seminar. I'm not saying that everyone should be highly trained to public speak but I do feel strongly that if you are going to charge people to come and hear you speak on a large scale like this, you should invest in yourself and make sure you are presenting the best YOU to everyone that you can much like you have done with your website/blog. You had a lot of good information and with a bit of training, I think that you could reach people better and go much further. I say this to you because I really honestly liked you when I met you before.

Recommend? It was worth the $45 definitely.


Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let's Get Together

I want to meet you and connect you with other photographers in your area. One of the things that has helped me so much over the last six years of moving & starting my business over in three different states, has been the ability to connect with my peers and colleagues at local PUG meetings. No, we're not talking dogs, we're talking photographers. PUG meetings are sponsored by Pictage, but they are open to you no matter what lab you use (Pictage helps pay for snacks and drinks, as well as providing support for national photography speakers who offer free talks at meetings.) Local PUG meetings are open to all professional and aspiring professional photographers and are designed to help local photographers support each other. I host the PUG in Boston and every time I get an email from a photographer who just moved to the area, or a student who recently graduated and is now looking for people to work with, I always invite them to the monthly PUG.

Of all the professional groups in the city, it's the most welcoming group of photographers that are easy to connect with and are interested in learning from one another and helping each other out.


Our PUG has hosted free talks from people like Joe Buissink, Dane Sanders, Jared Platt, Mike Larson, Jim Collins, Wade Holloway, and so many more. After each meeting, guests have had a chance to connect individually with the speakers and get one on one feedback. Usually before a presentation, we spend time connecting with each other and sharing stories about what happened in the last month or what projects we're working on. We've also hosted many local people like Wedding Planners, Tax Accountants, Financial Planners, Commercial Photographers, Consultants, and even an engaged couple who met with many different local photographers just to get their perspective on the whole photography meeting experience. We have learned so much from each other, and we are all better off for it. As much as we can connect online and learn from webinars, what's still missing is that solid local support network that you can really only get by meeting your local colleagues face to face.

If your equipment fails and you can't rent in time... if you break a leg the day before a wedding... if your second shooter backs out on you... your local photography community is where you can find the help you need to uphold your professional commitment when time and resources are tight. There's just no replacement for that.


So, let's get together. I'm going to be visiting several PUG groups around the country to help people get their email, time, and brand under control with some quick & easy tips. This is a FREE event. If you're anywhere near the area, I hope you'll come out so I can meet you and so you can connect with your local photography community. Please RSVP if you plan to come out for the evening so we can have plenty of snacks and drinks waiting for you:

California - San Francisco April 20th:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=195098363855843

Florida - Orlando April 26th:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=151710554888959

Texas - Houston May 5th: (Christine will be there too!)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=120351248039352

Michigan - Detroit May 10th:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=134529556615135

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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. Check out her next workshop at SmarterBusinessWorkshop.com.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What kind of Business Do You Need? LLC, Sole-Proprieter, Inc?

When I saw this easy to understand info-graphic, I just had to share here. Click to see the original source.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: After Dark Education - Las Vegas

Thanks to Stephanie Zettl for sharing this review with us!

Website: After Dark Education www.afterdarkedu.com

Presenters: 35 Mentors...
Ben Shirk, Bert Behnke, Bry Cox, Carl Caylor, Chuckie Arlund, Cody Clinton, Damon Tucci, Dan & Alex McClanahan, Dan Davis, Don Chick, Eddie Tapp, Heidi & Troy Effert, Jen Hilenga, John Cooper, Jordan Chan, Julia Radlick, Justin Jagare, Ken Sklute, Kevin Jairaj, Lindsay Adler, Lori Nordstrom, Mark Fitzgibbons, Martin Grahame-Dunn, Melanie Anderson, Mike Fulton, Mike Ridinger, Pete Wright, Peter & Kelly Holcombe, Stacy Walker, Steve Ragland, Tim Riley, Travis Gugelman

Date: February 16-18, 2011 (The next one will be May 9-11 in Cincinnati OH)

Location: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, NV

Price: $400

Included: 3 days of instruction, mentoring and shooting

What I expected: Good business advice and a chance to try out different light techniques in a studio environment

Expectation Met: Yes. The experience actually exceeded anything I could have expected.

Who This Workshop is For: I believe anyone at any level can learn something at After Dark. I think people who are in their second to fourth year of business will take away the most in terms advice, experience and technique. However, I learned a great deal and I have been shooting for 12 years and have owned my own business for 8 years.

Summary:
Education is very important to me. I believe that photographers should invest in themselves by investing in their education. I have been fortunate enough to study with some of the best photographers and attend some very good conferences. I like classes that have small student to teacher ratios, hands on experience, offer practical information, and support an open and welcoming environment.

When it comes to return on investment for your educational dollar, in my opinion nothing compares with After Dark Education. However, the big problem with After Dark Education is that it is difficult to explain exactly what it is. It’s not exactly a workshop or a conference. It’s not a class or a convention. It is unlike anything else currently on the market in terms of an educational experience.

I was encouraged to attend AD by some past attendees who raved about the experience. They explained that it was a mixture of classes on everything from business to Photoshop and practical hands-on shooting. Since AD fell right before WPPI in Las Vegas, I decided to attend. I could always use some business tips and I needed to brush up on my studio lighting skills. I walked away with much more.

After Dark gets it’s name from the idea that much of the valuable education at a conference happens after dark, away from the conference rooms of 1000+ people, when you can ask questions, play and experiment. AD runs from about 1:30 pm to 2 am. (As a self-proclaimed night owl, I was happy with this arrangement.)

The set up for AD is a bit different than most conferences. The ballroom in the Hilton hotel was divided up into 10 Pods and 10 Bays.

The Pods are a sitting area of chairs, couches and a plasma television where one of the 35 mentors could give instruction on topics such as Lightroom, Photoshop, business and selling advice, marketing, portfolio review, camera basics, art history, and more.

The Bays were full studio set ups with every type of light modifier possible. The mentors gave instruction on everything from children’s portraits, to pet photography, to high school seniors and high fashion work. After the mentor gave instructions, everyone was encouraged to try shooting the different situations. The mentor was there to make sure they got the shot and understood what they were doing.

The approximately 250 students attending had the opportunity to freely choose the classes that interested them. Because so much was being offered, the student to mentor ratio was pretty low. People could freely ask questions and receive the help and instruction they needed. While there are set classes and topics to be taught, it is loose enough to allow for the organic learning experiences that lead to the all important “ah-ha” moments.

What I appreciated about the mentors that teach at AD is their willingness to answer questions and help. If someone had a question about a topic, many mentors were willing to give personal attention outside of their scheduled “pods” or even have additional mini “pods.” There were no stupid questions. You’re there to learn and that’s taken seriously.

The real magic of AD happens after the “formal” shooting set-ups are over at 11:30pm. This is when students are encouraged to grab one of the models, a group of other students, some lighting gear, and go create something. The creative energy is infectious.

One other thing I appreciated about AD was that there was no pimping of goods or hard sells for action sets and marketing material. You never heard the phrase “And if you want to learn how to do this, buy my DVD.”

This workshop is not for anyone who wants to sit on the sidelines and watch. You are expected to participate. Personally I hope that people do more than participate, but actually challenge themselves. Those that put forth the effort will walk away with a great deal of knowledge. I know I did.

As AD continues to grow and improve there are a few things I would like to see improved. It seems to me to be a bit focused on portrait work. I’d like to see more wedding pods. I’d also like to see more women mentors. I think it would add to the students experience to be introduced to successful women photographers who also know their craft well enough to teach it.

In conclusion I can not say enough good things about my experience at AD. It was well worth the money and the investment of my time. And since learning never stops, I plan to attend another AD in the future. There will always be something new to get out of it.

Stephanie Zettl is a St. Louis Wedding and Portrait Photographer. She enjoys both the scientific and artistic sides of photography and is always looking for ways to keep her creative juices flowing..

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to Respond to a Negative Review

Just say.... "Thank You"

I really could end this post at that. That's really all you need to say. However, that's really hard to do when you're fired up and emotionally wounded. So, here are a few steps to help you get to that point:

Things to write down in an email TO YOURSELF:
1. Identify how much of the review is based on things you can control.
2. Identify what things you could have done better if you or the client had been better prepared.
3. Identify what you never could have had control over, no matter what the situation.
4. Accept that you are human, and that in this human life, sh*t happens.
5. Accept that you have no control over anyone else's emotions or perceptions.

Before responding to your client, have a glass of wine (or whatever relaxes you without overdoing it), get a good night of sleep, and take a nice long bath or shower. After you've had a chance to reset your emotional state, you'll be in a better spot to respond without resentment.

Things to write down in an email TO CLIENT:
1. That you appreciate your client is being honest about their opinion.
2. That you are sorry for providing an unsatisfactory experience.
3. That you would like to know what you can do better next time.
4. That you are committed to providing great service.
5. That you are grateful for the opportunity you had to work with them.

If a review was posted online anywhere, don't respond to it. It will only look defensive and petty for a response on a public site. It's ten times better to simply reach out to clients who appreciated you and ask them to submit their kind and positive reviews to balance any negative public rating you may have received.

A great example of a graceful response to a negative experience, is the one that Conan O'Brian gave on his leaving NBC...



Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Epiphanie Lola Bag

Action shot of me using the bag © Tommy Huynh

After the Kelly Moore Bag didn't quite pan out for me for what I was looking for in a camera bag, I continued the search and finally have found one that I really love! Yay!

Epiphanie Lola Bag Review

As with my past product reviews I have put the Epiphanie Lola through its paces for the past few months using it how I have intended to use it a few times over before I sat down to write this review. I have taken this bag to Mexico and again on a trip to Las Vegas with many trips around town and to parties in between. I chose the Lola style from their lineup because it had caught my eye early on. I think though that many of their bags look quite charming and I was very close to going with the Clover.

Use of the bag:

I think that it is important to know what I bought this bag FOR when reviewing the product. It helps you have an idea in mind of what I’m reviewing it on.

• Use for travel for non-professional trips when carrying a lighter kit. I don't always want to haul along my wheeled bags and would like the camera to be concealed when touring touristy areas unless I *choose* to bring it out.

• Use for family/friend events where I want to keep the camera closed up until I chose to use it.

• Use for portrait sessions when the gear I carry is lighter.


Pros:

+ Stylish!!! I get compliments on it all the time and people were constantly asking where I got my purse.

+ The options for the bag are great - it now comes in three colors.

+ Ability to hold camera bodies.

+ Dividers come out and can be repositioned to configure to your needs.

+ Inside zippered pocket and two outside pockets to fit keys or other small personal items. I love that the inside is zippered so you can keep important objects very safe.

+ Two options for carrying: one via the handles or a cross-body strap that is adjustable and padded.

+ Allows you to covertly carry gear without screaming I have thousands of dollars of equipment in here!


Cons:

- Due to the slanted style of the bag, the 70-200 sits a bit awkwardly.

- Lenses do fit but again, due to the curve often sit funny and make it a bit trickier to reach in and grab like the Shootsac.

- They are often out of stock and out of stock for months. Which is a great thing for them but makes buying frustrating.


Final Thoughts:

During my time with this bag I found that I really enjoyed it. When I carried it in Las Vegas I took it to a concert, shot a wedding with it and used it to transport my gear during flight. At the concert, I was constantly complimented on my purse and many were shocked to find out it was a camera bag. I do like stylish things and that pleased me a lot to find that people truly thought it was an expensive designer purse. I also used the bag to shoot a wedding that took place on the strip and discovered that while it wasn't as easy to work with as the Shootsac during a shoot, it still worked rather well and I was glad that I was able to put the camera away when I was done with the shoot. Finally when flying with the bag I was the most pleased. Carrying the bag was no issue at all and while the bag was heavy (I had a D700, 70-200, 85 1.4 and 24-70 plus video light, flash, batteries, chargers and my Canon G11 in the bag) it never became so heavy that I was itching to put it down. It also easily fit in the overhead bins and beneath the seat.



This bag was a win for me and I hope that my review helps anyone that is trying to decide :)

UPDATE:

I have found the biggest flaw with this bag and it made me very, very sad. When flying with it over the summer I discovered that the red tint stained my white shirt whenever I got sweaty. As I was shooting in New Orleans in the summer - sweat was definitely happening. It didn't show up so much on darker attire but my white shirts were affected. It rubs off when it gets moist it seems so I think it'd also do this when it rains? I'm not sure. It definitely made me sad and disappointed. Epiphanie DID offer to replace my bag with a new one if I sent the bag back to them but they didn't have any other Lola's in stock and what was in stock I wasn't in love with. I've kept it and continued to use it since then but I may revisit the bag idea in the summer and consider purchasing something else.

UPDATE #2:

In the comments I've had a few requests for pictures of the bag with a couple items so I am adding it to the blog rather than hiding it in the comments. One commenter wanted to see the bag with a 70-200 and another wanted to know if it could be adapted to fit an iPad. I apologize for the iPhone pics but I am not feeling 100% today and didn't feel like editing. I'm enjoying the off season!



This is how I have my bag configured: a divider in the middle with 4 compartments. On the one side are two split evenly, on the other side a skinny space and a large space.




As you can see, there is no way to make an iPad fit standing up.



However, if you lay the iPad lengthwise and detach the center divider, you can make it fit, albeit just barely. If you have a case, it may not work.




This is the Lola with a Nikon D700 with attached Rapid Strap and 60mm macro, Nikon 70-200 VRII and a Nikon 24-70 along with the iPad 2. It all fits, but I have to tell you, it's not light!




Here is the bag with the above configuration zipped up. It barely zips but it does close.

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Regular People and Money

Binita Patel dropped by my studio last week to chat about life and business (I love visitors) and she made reference to this little Cosby clip, which is perfect for the photolovecat audience. We all just want to be regular people, right? ;-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet: Jennifer Grant

Jennifer and I have been crossing paths for a while. She's gone through almost as many transitions in life as I have, and is currently going through a major rebranding and exploring things like having an associate brand. This is big stuff and the best time to talk about what you're learning, is when the experience is fresh. She comes from a background in the business world, but at heart, is an artist. When she submitted a guest post to Photo Lovecat... we put her through the WRINGER! We roughed her up a lot and yet she still remained zen about it all - now THAT is the sign of a true warrior- which also let me know that she'd be a great fit for our feisty Photo Lovecat group. She has been through a lot and she is at a point of unlimited potential. I can't wait for her to share her expertise and a bit of her journey here on Photo Lovecat. Enough from me - let's hear from Jennifer!


Name: Jennifer Grant

Business Name: Jennifer Grant Photo, The Virtue Sessions (boudoir) and VividSpark (for emerging photographers) [.... formerly Kate Linden Studios]

Websites:
http://www.jennifergrantphoto.com
http://www.thevirtuesessions.com
http://www.vividspark.com
http://twitter.com/_jennifergrant
old photography site: http://www.katelindenstudios.com

Location: Almont, MI (aka Northern Metro Detroit)

When did you start your business? Summer 2001

What services do you offer? Wedding, Lifestyle Portrait and Boudoir Photography

What products do you offer? WHCC prints + Canvases, Finao Albums, and soon Wild Magnolia Albums (eco friendly!)

Are you home or studio based? I do my editing work from home, and I hope to soon have a office/studio space where I can meet with clients and photograph Boudoir sessions. For now, I meet with clients via skype for long distance conversations and in their neighborhood coffeehouse when they are close.

What do you enjoy about working from home? I love working from home because it means I can get more done! No drive time means no wasted time in traffic. Plus I can squeeze in household things when my computer is busy processing. Not to mention I always have a very sweet lap buddy-my fuzzy cat Sir Isaac Newton. :)

What have been the challenges of working from home? My single biggest challenge working from home is that I often forget to quit working! Besides that, it's often isolating so I have to work hard at reaching out and maintaining relationships. I often rely on social media to make sure I don't become a hermit!

Do you have any employees? I don't have any employees currently but I do take on interns every season and I expect to start growing a permanent staff very soon!

What do you outsource and to who? I tried outsourcing last year but wasn't thrilled with the results-I ended up paying $600+ to do what I could have done in a day so it wasn't worth it at all. I look forward to training someone to do all our processing and being in house-I really love the idea of having a job for someone local and supporting the local economy through my hiring.

How did you acquire your photo skills? I got started by second shooting for a local photographer (at her request) and eventually, she told me that I would "go farther and do more" so I need to open my own studio. Since then, I've been dedicated to shooting shooting shooting and always improving. I've only taken 2 workshops so I'd say my skills are from continually pursuing excellence, really dissecting my own work and applying what I learn from my mistakes (big and small). I'm continually learning every day!

How did you acquire your business skills? I actually have a bachelors of business administration with an emphasis in marketing so much of what I know comes from what I studied in college. I also read a ton and like to study big businesses for things they're doing that can be applied to small business.

What do you wish you would have known starting out? I wish I would have known that it was important to network. I always believed that I would simply be 'discovered' by the quality of my work but there is definitely an element of who you know. I know that if I'd been building relationships with people in the wedding industry, my business would have grown much faster.

What has made the biggest difference in your business? Relationships. Actually building relationships with other photographers and other industry professionals has really helped me grow my business and helped save me from pitfalls that I might not have seen fast enough. Having support as well as people who will be honest is so critical.

What do you want for the future of your business? I want to grow and support the local economy through hiring all while giving my clients an amazing experience. I also am excited to help other photographers bring their dreams into reality and I can't wait until I can do that more. Eventually, I hope to have a gorgeous studio where clients can feel special and indulged.

What do you want for your personal future? To travel more, to love more, to grow more. I need to continually work at balancing life and work.

What are you passionate about other than photography? Small business! I can't get enough of helping other entrepreneurs succeed. Oftentimes we get stuck in a place and we can't fully see the picture. I love coming in and opening their eyes to where improvements can be made and watching growth happen.

Share a little about your home life: I am married to my best friend and soul mate Dan. Highschool sweethearts, he proposed to me in front of the football team after school one day with all my friends surrounding us. We've been together forever it seems (in a wonderful way). We live in a tiny town (2,500 residents) on the edge of the Metro Detroit area (literally 42 miles directly north of Detroit) with our 2 cats; Sir Isaac Newton and Chewbecca (she's a girl). Our families live just miles away but we are ready to adventure on so I sense a move is in our future!

My favorite quote is:
Just one?! It's not really a quote but a phrase: "Scientia potentia est" (Latin for "Knowledge is Power") because I believe it's true. But beyond that, I live by "you are beloved" and the idea that my existence is about being love, personified.

Tell us a funny story about one of your experiences:
A funny story...I truly have the best clients and they are all a ton of fun so recalling a single funny event is actually kind of hard. I'm sure this isn't the funniest story I have but this summer, while we were doing portraits of the bridal party, one of the groomsmen who is a rock climber, decided to try and scale the side of the stone church! It was kinda crazy seeing him just cling to the wall and make it up 8 feet or so before it was time to leave. I'm sure he would have gone farther if given the time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Over the weekend I noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of facebook freakouts over gas prices. What do people expect? It's a LIMITED resource and there's no where for costs to go but up- that's just basic economics- and yet people continue to be blissfully ignorant that their own reliance on this non-renewable resource is the REAL problem.

I've seen people suggest not buying gas for a day, or not buying gas from certain companies, but that's not going to solve the problem-

It will only hurt the small business owner trying to make a living and provide for their family.

Those small business owners are your clients- do you really want to hurt them?

If true change is to happen, it needs to start with people getting out of the gasoline game all together. By reducing our individual usage of non-renewables, we create less demand, and large companies are forced to invest new sources of energy which are both renewable and sustainable. The fact is, most of the big energy companies already know how limited their supply is and they're getting desperate to keep providing in a profitable way in order to tide over the general population until the demand decreases. One way to force people to move more quickly is to make the current supply much more expensive to access. In the meantime, profits may soar, but demand will decrease, and people will get angry that they have to change their ways. The oil companies are not the problem- they are merely creating supply for the market demands. The people creating demand are the problem. We live in a society in which we can vote with our demand and our money-

If you want to see change, you need to be a part of the solution.


To be part of the solution, you need to educate yourself on the alternatives available to use in your home and business life. Some people don't even know where they are currently contributing to the problem outside of the gas pump- which is just one small part of the oil equation. Here are some great resources to help you understand your alternative options:
• Greenpeace: 10 simple ways to use less oil
• Matador: 50 ways to use less oil
• EIA: Renewable & Alternative Fuel Options

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Respecting Images of Our Clients

The debate over offering unwatermarked images to bloggers has continued in many different places online. Some are furious that bloggers are making money off of unwatermarked work, while others could care less about where their work ends up and how much credit they receive for it. Regardless of where you stand as a blogger or as a photographer, this post is for the consideration of the clients who hired you, for the guests who attended the private event, and for the other hired creatives that produced original work at that private event.

Since moving to the Northeast, I've had many more clients seeking a higher level of privacy with their wedding images. By watermarking my images (putting my logo or copyright statement directly on the image itself) and refusing to provide unwatermarked work to bloggers for content use, I reduce the chance that someone is going to take that photo and use it elsewhere online without permission, while also increasing the chance that brand management tools will be able to find it for me on the web so that I can resolve any improper or unapproved image use. Notice I did not say PREVENT, just reduce. Obviously, ignorant people and those who mean to do harm will do whatever they want and when we find them we will kick their ass ask them to cease and desist. I usually have to send at least two emails each year to some company whose website designer grabbed my work, cropped my logo out, and plastered it on their commercial site without my permission. Because my watermark was there- the web designer KNOWINGLY did something wrong. If the image has no mark, it's easier to assume it's free content that can easily be used to populate someone else's website.

So, even if you do not care about receiving credit for your own work- at least consider respecting your clients' likeness and the likeness of the original work created by the other event professionals, which can be grabbed easily and used elsewhere without permission when there are no deterrents in place, such as a watermark.

See also:
Why You Need to Watermark Your Work

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing 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.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WPPI 2011 Parties

You know as much as you want to say that you are there for LEARNING we all know that the parties are just as much of a draw as the classes. I always have all the parties saved to my calendar and my friends know who to ask when to comes to wanting to mingle after hours. I thought I'd share that list with you and if there is anything you'd like to add, please let me know in the comments so I can keep this list updated!

Sunday 2/20

2:00PM - 5:00PM WPPI Launch Pad
7:00PM - 9:00PM Sony Fashion Show
9:00PM - ? DWF Get Together - comment on the forum to be on the list.
10:00PM - 11:00PM [b] School Party - find the registration info in the forum.


Monday 2/21

7:00PM - 10:00PM Madera Mad Men Party, $10
7:00PM - 4:00AM SmugMug/BayPhoto Slumber Party - Follow @smugmugpro and @bayphoto on Twitter for details
8:00PM - 10:00PM Canon Mardi Gras Party, Grand Garden Arena
10:00PM - 3:00AM Airplanes and Blazers Party, $30


Tuesday 2/22

8:30PM - 11:30PM Pictage/ShootQ Party - emailed registration, must be either a member or guest of a member


Wednesday 2/23

6:00PM - 9:30PM WPPI Awards Night


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