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  • Welcome to my blog!

    This blog contains updated content about pretty much all the coming and goings of the studio. It also may contain some rants and raves depending on whether there is a full moon. Feel free to leave me a comment. You can also pass these images onto Facebook or Twitter if the spirit moves you!

Spring cleaning always comes early for me. By “early”, I mean January. In my last post, I spoke about approaching 2019 with wider eyes than 2018. Being in the “business” of photography as well as being a photographer are two different things. I know I have addressed this before. But the “business” of photography is just… well honestly, dreadful. I see wide eyed newbies all around me with hopes and dreams of big photo shoots. Inside, I have such mixed emotions for them. I love to see their dream come true of course. But I also want to take them aside and ask them are they prepared for the “business” part?

In the past, I have had students mentor with me on their journey. I always try to tell them like it is. Why sugar coat it? This is their future. It is 90% paperwork, office work (editing, photoshop, etc.) and 10% shooting. When I was in college for photography, their was NOT one course designed for how to handle the business side. The only exception was an adjunct teacher who was teaching lighting. He was a working photographer that had a legit business. Every student hung on every word he said regarding how to market yourself, make comp cards, approach clients, etc. These small insights were given by him at the end of every lighting class as students would converse while putting away equipment. I would put away my stuff early on and wait for him to answer my burning questions.

So what has this blog post got to do with anything related to photography? Actually, it has to do with business. Even after being in the business of photography for almost 3 decades, I still try new things. Some work, some don’t. Some marketing campaigns are a hit and others fail (like my on going diet!). It can be quite discouraging after spending… in some cases mega bucks on something and it does not get the response you get. There is no magic marketing pill. What works for some photographers, may not work for others.

January is a month of purging. The “DELETE” button on my computer is the most used button right now. I have joined Facebook groups that I thought may be interesting… and now I am deleting. I have gained many friends on other groups that I am keeping. I am also deleting a ton of emails that people feel they need to send to me regarding their business ideas. (That I did not sign up for!)

It is okay to kick things to the curb. No hard feelings of course. If you don’t see me at one of your networking groups, it is not because I don’t like you. It is well…… simply it just wasn’t working out for me. My time is too precious to waste. A new year and a new direction. Focus, focus focus.

The old saying… “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” applies to every business.

I wish you joy!

donna

 

Okay friends, I will admit… I dropped the ball on keeping up with blog posts.  Not just a little, A LOT!  When 2018 rolled around, I decided to kick my networking up several notches.  Being in business, and getting business go hand in hand.  So, in 2017 I got a bit lazy in my networking and it showed quite a bit in my business.  When 2018 arrived, I hit the ground hard with putting my business and face out there once again as I had done in previous years.

Lets face it, the last thing you want to do when you get up in the morning is shake hands with strangers.  This is only of course second to exercising.  And of course, having to rearrange shooting schedules to accommodate meetings was never easy.  My day consisted of super early wake up calls and out the door mostly by 7:00 a.m. to business events.  This seems to be the time most networking meetings occur.  Then after, I would start my sessions or client meetings.  By dinner, I was in no shape to get back on the computer and write a blog post.  Some networking meetings occur at lunch so that meant I had to squeeze in sessions in the morning or do a late afternoon client meetup.

Now, here we are and I am back after my usual holiday week off.  Planning and strategizing are what is going on for the next week.  What was a big hit for 2018 and what did not (or should I say, not as expected!)

I know that a good hour or two of my day will be going through emails and unsubscribing to what seems like a mountain of junk mail.  Shaking hands and meeting people over the last year was amazing.  However, some took it upon themselves to add my email to their email list.  So, no, I do not need a plumber newsletter, six financial planner newsletters, three energy newsletters, and a dog groomer, etc.  (But wait, their is more…..   )   Yes, I do personally send out a newsletter myself.  I sent it quarterly to those only who have used my services in the past.  I don’t add strangers to my newsletter list.

If you are reading this blog and are one of the folks I have had the pleasure to meeting this past year, I would love to chat with you over coffee sometime rather than read a standard company prepared newsletter with your logo on the bottom.  In the meantime, I am looking forward to a great year and hopefully creating images for you that warms your heart.

For those of you that I have photographed this past year (2018), thank you.  I love seeing at networking meetings and feel we have a special bond.  I enjoyed our conversation during our portrait session and feel that getting to know someone new is priceless.

I wish you joy in 2019.

Donna

 

 

 

 

 

Are you an outsider?

There are many types of photography that exists.  Inside the studio or outside. Studio (inside) is way easier than doing anything outside.  Years ago, when I first opened my studio, my main focus was doing more lifestyle portraits.  Outside and in any local park was my thing.  A few things I have learned from that.  1.  Weather can hold a business hostage.  This is my number one complaint.  Too hot, or too cold can influence a portrait session more than one can comprehend.  Plus, lets not forget rain and gnats.  Gnats you say?  Oh yea…. The millions that fly around your head and the client’s head during a session.  Here is where you can insert me screaming. I have taken photographs outside all the way up to Christmas and then starting again in late February.  And 2, clients melt in hot weather and it reflects in the portraits.  There is nothing worse that sweaty portraits.

Taking portraits in a controlled environment such as my studio is my easier for everyone.  I control the lights, the air conditioning, and yes, the gnats! (or lack thereof).

There is definitely a different feel to both approaches.  With doing anything outside, clients must understand that not everything will be exactly perfect.  Hair may be blowing, little ones love to run free and yes, there may be a bee or two buzzing around.

I try to walk every phone call inquiry with a decision that best fits their family personality.  It’s not always easy.  People that love the outdoor look can easily melt during a 95 degree day and what would normally be a happy family is now one cranky group.  Over the years now, studio portraits consist of about 50% of my business. I love doing both.  What do you like?  I would love to hear your comments!

Donna

People ask me frequently how do I come up with ideas for portraits.  Questions like “Do I ever get in a funk?”  Well the obvious answer is “yes, of course”!  How long does the funk last?  That remains to be seen!  Funks have no timeframe.  For many artists, it can be a week, a month or even several months.  I think all artists are the same.  Trying to remain creative every day of one’s life can be exhausting.  Sometimes you just have to let your brain go on a mini vacation.  For me, once the fog is clear, I come back stronger.  My work during these funk times are just as beautiful as all my other work, but my brain hits a brick wall when trying to create something different.  If you are in a job that requires you to do the same thing every day, day in and day out, you only know boredom.   But, if you are in a job that requires you to come up with something new, every time you have a client, it can be a bit daunting.

So, how do I crawl out of a funk?  Simply by going back to simpler roots.  Perhaps take in a museum exhibit that deals with painting.  Dive into a course that does not have to do with portraits.  Listen to some motivational speakers or podcasts.    Then slowly, I will switch over to listening or watching some You Tube videos of well known photographers.  Slowly, the air clears… like daffodils in the spring.

The one thing about photography is that if you don’t evolve, you die.  Staying above the education line is an ongoing process.  New techniques, new software, new editing, new lighting…. all of which has to be learned are always on the front burner.  I am sure that if you ask any photographer in business full time, he or she will also face the dreaded funk period.  It can happen once a year, twice a year or maybe every other year.   Staying around motivated associates, friends and family are the key.  Within any business, you have to distance yourself from the nay sayers.  Find people that will lift you up.

Bottom line… I love what I do.  There are definite hills and valleys.  Knowing how to drive through the super highway of these hills and valleys is the key.  Funks never last long with me thankfully.  I am thankful to be doing something that will give joy for people years and years.  I treat the funk times as re-fueling the creative spirit in my brain.  My energy level upon returning from a re-fueling time is over the top.  So, if it is a day trip to the city, shore or just binge watching something on You Tube, we all benefit… from photographer to client!

  • John Cordes - One of the most helpful insights shared with me by an artist and very spiritual person is the idea of rational thinking and creative thinking. Though the idea of specialized brain anatomy has been discarded — the idea that one hemisphere or one section of the brain is dominant over the other — it’s true of our thinking in general. For me, I need to be in a state of creative thinking in order to create. I find that the same mode of thinking is necessary for spiritual experience, though that’s a slightly different topic.

    My professional work requires me to do both. Most of the time, I have to be an administrator. Organizing, measuring, planning. But, my work also requires creative writing, and I have built in photography to back it up. It takes time to make the shift from rational thinking to creative thinking, and I’m easily interrupted! For me, being in a “funk” usually involves being stuck on the rational side of things. Volunteering as a photographer at two zoos often helps me to break that stalemate. Just making eye contact with an animal can be an experience that is nothing less than spiritual. It may seem odd, but a slow walk through a cemetery, reading the grave markers, can also add a perspective that breaks the funk.ReplyCancel

    • Donna Lere - John:
      Having an outlet that spurs the creative side outside of your daily work routine is one of the best ways to avoid the fog. For me, it is the opposite. Being creative is my main objective with the business of photography appearing just as important these days. Sadly, the business end sometimes takes over the creative side. In a perfect world, the idea of just waking up and spending all of my thoughts to being creative would be joyful. However, a good portion of my day involves participating in the business of photography. Turn back the clock 20 years and it was totally different. I don’t see it ever changing. Thanks for commenting!ReplyCancel

 

 

It’s Wednesday.  It’s snowing out.  My neighbor’s dog has been barking for almost 20 minutes.  I thought it was a bark of a frozen dog.  However, upon looking outside, I noticed that the dog was actually playing in the snow with his dog partner.  We are approaching the middle of January and I have cabin fever.  Perhaps I should up my dose of vitamin D!   So, I headed out to run a few errands to break up the day from editing.

Standing in front of the supermarket flower section, the women in charge of flowers pops out of the back room and sees me staring at the wall of flowers.  “Looking for something special?” she says.  “No”, I say quietly.  After a few minutes of inhaling the smell, she says to me, “Special  occasion?”  I say…. “Yes, it’s Wednesday.”  I take a long breath and then add… “And the sun hasn’t been out in a week.”  She nodded and then disappeared in her secret room behind the fruit.  She came out with this cute bouquet.  “How’s this?” she said.  I looked at her face as she presented the flowers to me.  She had that look that women get when they “get” each other.

Needless to say, the flowers were arranged on my desk first… way before the milk was put away.  Sometimes you have to stop and pause.  For me, it’s standing in the flower section and finding my extra bit of sunshine.  What is your way of bringing your core back to center?

 

 

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