Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jason & Allison Domingues - A Photographer's Life Interview Series


Photographer's Life Interview Series features photographers who have been working as a professional photographer for five or more years.  We are so grateful that these photographers are willing to share an intimate and candid look at their life behind the camera. ===========

Let me introduce:  Jason & Allison Domingues, of Jason Domingues Photography - www.jasondomingues.com & www.913816live.com- Kansas City, MO Wedding & Music Photography since 2004

Jason & Allison DominguesJason & Allison Domingues

Creative Family Photo

Here's a sneak peek of their wedding website: 
Website Screencapture

Share some of your recent favorite images:





How did you learn the craft of photography?
My Dad handed me his dad’s camera when I was 14.  It was a Yashica TL-Electro.  I read a few books (yes I studied the camera before Al Gore invented the internet) and went through many rolls of film.  I shot through high school and a little in the Army. 

How did you learn the business of photography?
I am still learning it, Allison (My amazing wife) has handled that yucky stuff from the beginning.  It seems to change every year.  Learning from colleagues and friends in the industry. 

Do you work from home, a studio, or something else?
I work from the studio and Allison works from home.  

Can you share photos of your workspace?






Do you have regular employees, associates, or other people who help you in your business?  If so, share a little about their role(s) in your business.  Well funny you asked.  We are bringing on an associate shooter this year.  We have had photographers shoot for us in the past but this is the first time we are branding the associate shooter.  He will be responsible for his own work and edits.  He will be just shooting under our name. 

What do you outsource, and who do you outsource it to?  As of now we do not out source anything.  I know I know, we should be.  We are working on that very thing as we speak.

How many weekly hours would you say is spent working in your photography business?  It changes from month to month.  I would say in season, April thru November,  6 days a week with some days at 12 plus hours; off season, December thru March, I would say 3-4 days a week.

What percentage of your business working time is spent shooting vs. working behind the scenes?
Shooting 15-20% 

How did your last five clients find you and what did they hire you for?
Google and Referrals.  We have a pretty kickass SEO program we have put in place and it seems to be driving a lot of new clients.  They hired us for weddings and music promos.

What do you consider to be your most effective marketing efforts for your business?
SEO and Networking.  We tried the paid advertising thing and it was like throwing money out the window.  I do think they work for newer photographers trying to get their name out there. 

What other careers or jobs did you have before (or while) you started your photography business?
Jason: I was in the Army for 3 years.  I worked for wood working company that designed Kitchen cabinets and fireplaces.  I also worked for Pella Windows.

How do you spend your time when you aren't working?  
Messing with my kids heads.  I am starting a new business (can't say yet) but if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you can figure it out. ;)  (Anne's Hint: it involves leather and buckles!)

What hobbies or interests outside of photography are fulfilling for you?
Music…Anything that has to do with music I am game for.
Traveling…This is something Allison and I are trying do more of together.  It seems like I travel a lot for work and I am trying to do it more with the family.

Do you feel like you have a good balance between your personal and working life?  
I think I can say yes (although it is off-season). I have been trying to be home by no later then 5pm.  Spending more time with the family with the phone away and the laptop up.  I know I am not perfect at that but I am trying.

Who else is in your household with you?
Allison (my lovely wife), Avery and Calen (My little humans), Riley – dog, and Lilly - Cat.

What percentage of your household income is derived from your photography business?
100%

What have been the most challenging personal aspects of being a creative small business owner?
When the game changes and we have to figure out how to play the new game.

What do you love about being a creative small business?
It is all ours- we decide.

Where do you focus your business investments? Equipment, marketing, website, education...
All 4 in some sort of way.  Equipment and education is the top then Filtered to the others.  

  • Equipment - I do not buy brand new.  I really like refurbished camera and lenses. 
  • Education - I really invest in this the most.  I keep learning no matter how long I have been doing this.I try to attend 3-4 conferences/workshops a year.  
  • Website - This is where I focus a lot on.  SEO and online presents is big for me. That is the first thing our clients see of us.
  • Marketing - This is probably the biggest thing I work  on.  I do not pay for advertisement but that doesn't mean I don't advertise.  We focus on blogs and getting published.  I meet with local photographers in my home town to network.  My biggest secret is after the wedding we post our weddings within the week of that wedding. That helps me get "vendor cards" (secret) out to vendors the week of the wedding. 
What was your most valuable piece of equipment when you were starting out?
I fell into the trap of "I need this and I need that". My wedding/concert gear consists of (2) bodies one with a 35mm lens and one with an 85mm lens and (1) 580 flash that's it.  I do have an "oh shit" bag that has what I need to finish a job in case my equipment fails or gets stolen.

What do you think has grown your business the most? Word of mouth, talent, marketing, workshops, community of other photographers. 

What do you do to continue to grow as a photographer and business?

Know when to change direction.  Know when to adapt to the new way of weddings.  I have seen really really good photographers fail because they didn't know how to play the game.  Do not change your style but how the game is played.  Do not think that your photography alone with get you where you need to be.  It is much more then that.  Focus on the business side the most.

If you could share any advice with a photographer getting ready to start their business today, what woud it be?
If this is your passion then go for it.  Do not let anyone tell you you cannot do this.  I have to put the big “BUT” into it.  Know your limits.  If you need help ask for it or go and learn from someone that has been through it.  Do not do this if you think you will be one of the cool kids because you will fail. 

=====
Additional questions for Jason?  Leave a comment below!  Want to keep up with Jason elsewhere online?
Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jasondominguesphotography
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JasonDomingues

Want to recommend another photographer we should interview?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tomme Hilton - A Photographer's Life Interview Series

A Photographer's Life Interview Series features photographers who have been working as a professional photographer for five or more years.  We are so grateful that these photographers are willing to share an intimate and candid look at their life behind the camera. =========== 

Let me introduce:  Tomme Hilton Gallery - http://www.tommehiltongallery.com - a Charleston, SC Wedding, Boudoir, and Family photographer since 2005.

Sneak peek of Tomme's current website: 
 Can you share 3 of your recent favorite images?


  


How did you learn the craft of photography?
I always had a love/enchantment with photography from a young age. A friend of mine begged me to shoot her lower-budget wedding for her wedding gift and I drug my feet, kicking and screaming.  Well, 35 rolls of film later she pretty much talked me into doing this as a full time business venture. I guess that meant she liked her pics but I never really got clarification on that. ;)

How did you learn the business of photography?
I wrote local photographers and pleaded with someone to mentor me. I couldn't seem to make the right connections so I READ and PRACTICED, and READ and PRACTICED over and over again. I would randomly steal people as subjects when my own kids objected after a while. I had such a thirst for learning and I didn't want to wait until someone decided to teach me, I HAD to learn for myself. So, I enrolled in a photography class and was let down by not really learning as much as I had hoped. I learned more on my own than I had in that class and discovered that once you know the basics, you pretty much have to figure out your style, your preferences, the way YOU see the world all on your own. No one can do that for you so the discovery process ensued.

Do you work from home, a studio, or something else? 
Most of my work is location shooting and I was using my studio solely for my Boudoir sessions. I decided to resume the home business instead and we now use other great locations for Boudoirs when I shoot them.

Can you share photos of your workspace (or describe it for us)?
I have an old vintage desk complete with metal pulls and painted shabby chic white with peeling paint. It reminds me that in order for something to be beautiful it doesn't have to be perfect. I have a frilly lamp with fringe to the left of my workspace that really lends a feminine mystique. It's a soft yellow and I love how girly it is. On my desktop you will find carbonated mineral water, a handmade pottery mug that houses tea or coffee, my MacBook Pro sits on the desk as does the 21" iMac that is relief for my tired eyes after looking at small figures on the MacBook for hours on end.  I currently have sticky notes (REAL paper sticky notes) with notes to myself of all my to-do's.. that somehow seem to still get overlooked in the scheme of it all. I have a yankee candle on my desk too. I'm ultra sensory so having something smell good around me helps put me in a better frame of mind.  My current scent is 'Fireside'.

Do you have regular employees, associates, or other people who help you in your business?
Erica is my second shooter slash assistant. She helps second shoot weddings with me and we take turns updating our blog and Facebook pages. She lives in Columbia which is about 100 miles from me so we provide coverage for not only my area (Charleston, SC) but she is also providing and retaining clients in the Columbia, SC market as well.

What do you outsource, and who do you outsource it to?
I'm currently not outsourcing.

How many weekly hours would you say is spent working in your photography business?
40 plus

What percentage of your working time is spent shooting vs. working behind the scenes?
10% shooting and 100% behind the scenes. That equals 110%, but yep, that's pretty much correct. Even on a shoot, I'm using Instagram and posting pics to Social Media for clients to see and share with their friends and family.

How did your last five clients find you and what did they hire you for?
Word of Mouth Referrals. Weddings and Boudoirs.

What do you consider to be your most effective marketing efforts for your business? Networking. Keeping a presence and making sure you aren't forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind mentality.

What other careers or jobs did you have before (or while) you started your photography business? I am educated in Medicine so that's where I got my start. Medicine is an interesting industry with a lot of bureaucracy and red-tape instead of just the relationship aspect that I had assumed it would be: Helping People. I was itching for a creative outlet and photography was my answer.

How do you spend your time when you aren't working?  I shoot for me. I love to explore and take pictures of things I consider beautiful and artistic. I love to document the world around me.
I love spending time w my friends and family and that is what grounds me and keeps me humble.

What hobbies or interests outside of photography are fulfilling for you? Nutrition and Science interest me. Since google came along, I consider myself a research analyst.. aka google-nazi so I'm consistently researching modes to help people live their most optimal lives. I firmly believe health is the first and foremost means to a superb life. 

Do you feel like you have a good balance between your personal and working life?  I'm working on that. Having a home business means those thoughts that wake you in the middle of the night.........'OH NO, DID I EMAIL THAT CLIENT BACK??' at 3 am is a little too easy when your laptop is a few inches from you and too easily accessible.
- If not, how would you like to change it in the next few years? Outsource. Find a rich business person who can give me a solid business foundation! ;) Oh, they have that. It's sugardaddy.com, EWWWW

Who else is in your household with you?  A husband, son, uncle, two boston terriers (Huck and Brooklyn) and three hens (Agnes, Agnes II and Red).

What percentage of your household income is derived from your photography business?  40% is from photography the rest is another day job and my husband's employment.

What have been the most challenging personal aspects of being a creative small business owner?  For me, personally the Business side is challenging. When you become a photographer, you just want to SHOOT and be CREATIVE. Spend all your time MAKING ART. No one pulls you aside to let you know what a challenge the business aspects are. How much time is dedicated to behind the scenes work.. graphics.. website updates... blogging... Facebook updates... tweeting... accounting... editing......the list goes on and on. All the things most of us don't like doing, we spend ALL our time doing. That is the most difficult part of this business - is that it IS a business.

What do you love about being a creative small business?  I love being my own boss and having my own creative thought process. I love not having to report to anyone every day but my clients. The relationship aspect with my client is fulfilling. I love getting to know them from their engagements to their wedding, their maternity pics and then annually for family photographs. That is extremely fulfilling and the most gratifying job I could ever see myself doing.



Where should starting photographers invest their money?  Initially when I started, my money went toward equipment and gear... being a photographer has turned me into a techie that ooh's and aaah's over the latest greatests.. but I'm disciplined enough to know that there will soon be something to replace even that.  The majority of my budget hands down goes to marketing. Even if I have to drive to a Planner's office to talk shop, that's an expense for fuel. There will never be 'ENOUGH' of a budget for marketing... branding materials, trips to Starbucks, the little things quickly turn into a huge budget monster. 

Equipment  - early on what was your most valuable piece?  What altered my business (IMO) is learning how to use off camera lighting. I think most women photographers were a little apprehensive so it was really unusual for a chick to pull out all her lights. It was rather expected of male photographers but a little unusual for women photogs. I really needed to be that girl that wasn't afraid of lighting nor a slave to sundown. 

What do you think the number one thing was that grew your business?  I become a legitimate FRIEND of my clients. I become real and I keep the relationship aspect alive and burning throughout all life's milestones. I am genuinely interested in their families and their joys and triumphs. I was a cheerleader of their lives on the side and Facebook allows me to keep in touch and stay involved with them. That's really the reason I love(d) photography from the minute I developed my first photo.

What do you do to continue to grow as a photographer and grow your business?  There will be hills and valleys, understand that and it will make your life much easier. There will be times you just want to throw in the towel and say 'The hell with it'. It's normal. It will pass. When I go through these periods, I initially thought something was wrong with me.. "Is photography REALLY my calling or am I crazy for even trying?" when I seemed to be swimming upstream. I'm hard on myself and my own worst critic. The good thing about it is - every photographer I've talked to in biz over 5 yrs has BEEN THERE before. Whenever you get to your own boiling points, understand we've all pretty much been down that road and blazed the asphalt for you.

Being a photographer can also be a very lonely business. There are times you feel alone, on your own with little support. You need someone to bounce ideas, thoughts and maybe just need to vent about a situation - sometimes there is no one but yourself. Find a group you feel welcomed in and not judged. When I'm feeling down on my luck, and ready to throw the white flag I have a group that talks me down off the ledge and I find that's crucial. That support is so good for your psyche.  


If you could share any other advice with a photographer getting ready to start their business today, what would it be?  Remember, it's a business first and foremost. Hobbyists shoot for the pleasure of their imagery. Clients hire you for profit. Gear, Education, Time and Expertise all factor into our rates.  Be conscientious of the industry and do us all a favor,  Charge accordingly to your area so you aren't diminishing another photographer's income based solely on price. Experienced photographers charge more because they are worth it. It does nothing for our industry nor a client's education of photography value when you undercharge and de-value the art. We all have a responsibility to teach and educate clients continually on photography worth.  Always attempt to pay it forward by remembering the industry you came into. If you want a great, independent creative job then you will need to make sure there is an industry left for us to thrive in. Even us older loons who have been here a while - you may need to learn a thing or two from us or borrow a light every now and again.  Always attempt to make our industry better than when you entered it. Set industry standards don't just follow them. Set the bar high.  - Tomme Hilton

==========

Additional questions for Tomme, or just want to leave a note of thanks?  Leave a comment so she can continue to share her wisdom with you!  Want to keep up with Tomme elsewhere online?
Follow on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tommehiltongallery
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tommehilton

Want to recommend a photographer we should interview?  Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Aaron Spicer - A Photographer's Life Interview Series

A Photographer's Life Interview Series features photographers who have been working as a professional photographer for five or more years.  We are so grateful that these photographers are willing to share an intimate and candid look at their life behind the camera. ===========  

Let me introduce: Aaron Spicer Photography - www.aaronspicer.com - Fredericksburg, Virginia Wedding & Portrait Photographer since 2006.

Aaron Spicer - Fredericksburg Virginia Wedding & Portrait Photographer 

Here's a sneak peek of his current website:

Fredericksburg Virginia Wedding & Portrait Photographer


Can you share 3 of your recent favorite images?
Fredericksburg Wedding Photographer Aaron Spicer


Fredericksburg Portrait Photographer Aaron Spicer


How did you learn the craft of photography? 
Clumsily. I credit my parents for always having a camera in hand. Monkey see, monkey do. My first camera was a Fisher-Price toy in preschool. I kept at it, and learned the true craft of photography the same way I still learn it. Out of necessity. I always have ideas that are just beyond my technical expertise. So I sit down with my ideas, and then figure out how to make them happen.

How did you learn the business of photography? Also clumsily. My wife was in marketing at one point, so she really gave me a head start. From there, I studied various business models, and went to a few of the smaller photo conventions. My current business model isn’t really anything to be admired, unless your goal is quality of life and a home life/work balance that is skewed heavily in favor of home life.

Do you work from home, a studio, or something else?  I work from home. I’ve got a nice little three-room suite. One for my office, one as a meeting space, and a small shooting space that I can shoot headshots in. My office is a giant mess of hard drives and random bits of paper. My meeting space is pretty nice. I had a table made by a local carpenter. It’s standing height, so it also doubles as my packaging/work space. My studio is bare bones. Just enough room for a ¾ length portrait.

Do you have regular employees, associates, or other people who help you in your business? Aside from the occasional second shooter or assistant, I’m pretty much a one-man show.

What do you outsource, and who do you outsource it to?  I’m working on a new website, but it’s a template, so that’s pretty much like outsourcing, right? I print through Miller’s and host through Zenfolio. Everything else is done in house.

How many weekly hours would you say is spent working in your photography business?
Depends on the week. I usually work from 7 a.m until about 1p.m. through the week. By noon or one I start to get stir crazy and have to go do something else. Run errands, go cycling, grab lunch, do some gardening. I’m also a volunteer track coach at a local high school. So on certain days I start coaching around 3. Sometimes I’ll come back to do some work at night, but not usually. If I’ve got a Saturday wedding, I make sure to take a full day off during the week.

What percentage of your working time is spent shooting vs. working behind the scenes? Probably 25% shooting, 75% behind the scenes.

How did your last five clients find you and what did they hire you for? My last five clients were all referral based. Three of them were for family portraits, and two of them were event-gigs.

What do you consider to be your most effective marketing efforts for your business? This past summer I decided that in lieu of portrait sitting fees, I was going to ask my clients to make a small donation to local charities. My clients seem to really love it, and it’s gotten people talking about the portrait side of my business.

What other careers or jobs did you have before (or while) you started your photography business? I started my photography business while I was a high school English teacher. It worked out pretty well, because I had summers off.

How do you spend your time when you aren't working?  Biking. I’m a bit obsessed with cycling. In the formative years of my business I ruined my health. I’ve been trying (mostly successfully) to reclaim that for the past two years. If I’m not on the road, I’m probably fishing, touring wineries with my wife, or gardening.

What hobbies or interests outside of photography are fulfilling for you?
I’m a self-proclaimed home chef. Cooking is definitely my passion outside of photography.

Do you feel like you have a good balance between your personal and working life?  Yes, for now. What I’ve got is working pretty well for where I am in life. But I also know that in the long run, it’s not sustainable, financially speaking.  

What do you do to make sure you achieve that balance regularly? A couple years back I stepped off the photography merry-go-round and just decided to find my own way. I really cut out a lot of noise, and whittled my network down to people I value as friends and associates. You know, people I can be honest with, and who are honest with me. We don’t pretend that our lives are one big Airplanes and Blazers party. I guess what I decided is that while photography is my passion, it isn’t my life.

Who else is in your household with you? My wife Lisa, my stepson Hunter, and our three dogs; Zoe, Ike and Coco.

What percentage of your household income is derived from your photography business?  Roughly 50%. My wife works full time as an educator.

What have been the most challenging personal aspects of being a creative small business owner? Forcing myself to work through the slow times. February was a slow month for me. I specifically set it aside to redo my aging website. Somehow…it didn’t happen.

What do you love about being a creative small business?
Only having to wear clothes one day a week. And getting to do my grocery shopping in the middle of the day with the octogenarians and desperate housewives.

If you could share any advice with a photographer getting ready to start their business today, what would it be?
  Shoot anything and everything that comes your way, but show what you love, and nothing else.  I think the thing that I would have wanted to know right off the bat is that there really isn't a right way to do things, and that can really be applied to questions about gear, questions about shooting, or questions about business. When I went to my first photography convention, I was with a group of photographers who got extremely frustrated by the fact that all the presenters were giving conflicting business and shooting advice. But for me, that was the most valuable lesson I learned. It was pretty freeing for me to realize that I didn't have to follow anyone else's path. I still have to remind myself of that from time to time. Just recently two of my favorite photographers, Zack Arias and Greg Heisler, published videos about being inspired and their work ethics. I got a good chuckle out of it, because Zack mentioned having an "inspiration wall" where he posts tear sheets, storyboards and sketches. And then I watched Greg's video and he said that the last thing he ever wants to do is to think about someone else's work when he's making a picture. At the end of the day, they both produce gorgeous work, so who cares how they got there? Let's face it, most of us in this industry are self-taught, both in photography and business. There's a lot of insecurity that comes along with that. I've spent way too many seconds of my life debating whether the clone stamp or the healing brush is the "proper" tool to use, or whether I should shoot zooms or primes, or if I should watermark my images or not watermark my images, etc, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating reinventing the wheel. Just soak up everything you learn from other photographers and business people, and then use what works for you, with your art and your business.   - Aaron Spicer

==========
If you have any additional questions for Aaron, or just want to leave a note of thanks - please leave a comment so he can continue to share his wisdom with you!  Want to keep up with Aaron on social media?
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aaron_spicer
Follow on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AaronSpicerWeddings or http://www.facebook.com/AaronSpicerSeniors


Want to nominate your favorite photographer?  Let us know in the comments or by email!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Website Critique Webinar


We are happy to be hosting another webinar TOMORROW featuring website critiques.   These were a huge hit last year and we've been asked to do them again so we brought it back.

Tomorrow's webinar is going to be run by Corey Ann.   As with in the past, there will be three websites we've chosen to review and there will be an open chat during the webinar where my fellow Lovecats Anne and Jennifer will be helping me host!  

So what are you waiting for?  Click below and register for some fun chatting and learning!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...