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{....Q & A with US!}

earlier this week i asked if you guys ever have questions that you would want to ask us....and, turns out you do! :) we read over them and here are our first round of questions and answers!!!

we will continue to take questions for as long as this blog shall live :) so, keep them coming!!! i have added a link at the top of the blog that says TML Q&A, so you can always just click on that link and follow the directions to send us your question. we love them!! they can be silly, they can be photography related, they can be parenthood related....whatever you choose. we will just randomly post answers as we get get a group of them.....so bring it on! :)
and remember..we are 5 ladies, with 5 different opinions--so, take what info works best for you!

1. What's your best marketing advice/tips?
sarah says-- Be bold! What good are your business cards if they stay in your purse? Make a point to give out at least one card on every outing. I leave a card with each restaurant bill that I pay...neatly tucked in the little black folder where the credit cards typically go. While I'm on the subject, get GREAT business cards! These give people their very first impression of your business. Select your images carefully; choose only your very best. Don't make them too busy...let your photos do most of the talking. Lastly, make sure you use a great printer--you don't want to go through all that work, only to have them printed cadi-whompus on lousy paper.
Be a good conversationalist. Don't be afraid to talk to people. My most recent wedding lead was at the hairdresser getting my daughter's hair done. :o)
Word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth. This is what my business thrives on. Maintain your blogs and websites well...get people talking!

shannon says--for me, personally, my best marketing advice is get people to talk about you!! i have been so very lucky and blessed in my journey. 90% of my clients are word of mouth, the other 10% is google. this means, have fun-show your passion-make new friends!! if your sessions are fun and you leave your clients happy, they will spread your name to everyone they know. a personal referral goes so much further than someone picking up and reading a card or seeing your website (along with 20 others they look at).
also, my biggest tip is BLOG! everyone loves a sneak peek, everyone loves to see their kiddos or their wedding on the blog. plus, it's a great way for them to share the link with their family and friends---which in return, gets people to your blog/site!!

2. If you have a love of photography and are trying to hone your skills, what is your best advice to try and make a leap to starting a business at your passion? It all seems so overwhelming but would love to hear you tips, thoughts, advice!
megan says- I think a lot of people are pondering this same thing. Photography is such a rewarding hobby, and the better you get the more compliments you get on your work, and that always feels good. Now with the digital era it is becoming more and more popular to pick up this hobby, since it is much less work now than when working with film, not to mention more affordable. And with this love of photography and the digital camera boom it seems there are more and more people distinguishing themselves as professional photographers rather than just hobbyists. I do think to become a professional it takes more than just buying a nice D-SLR, taking photos for friends and family for a few months, and buying some editing software. I think some people have an artistic eye for photography, have a creative flair that is unique to them, and that goes a lot further than just honing the technical skills. Of course, you need the technical skills too. http://digital-photography-school.com/nuts-bolts I see far too often, people who do not master the basics of photography, lighting, exposure, composition, white balance...the list goes on for miles, delving too quickly into what they consider the world of "professional photographers." If you are taking money, in any amount, to take somebody's photos then you are a "professional." But there is a difference between somebody who has mastered their camera, goes through the appropriate business steps to create a photography business ( i.e. paying taxes, signing legal contracts, purchasing insurance, registering their business, etc. etc.), always striving to improve, researching, researching researching, who has an eye for the creative and unique, sets themselves apart from the other photographers in their area and then the person I mentioned before who purchases a D-SLR but doesn't really know how to use it to it's fullest potential, takes photos of their family and friends, starts charging a small fee to burn them the disc with all of the images, and not paying taxes. The thing about it is, the person in the second category lessens the meaning of a "professional photographer" even though they are collecting money the same as the people who have taken appropriate action to go into this business. So my advice would be, first off, being a professional photographer is a big responsibility. You have to make sure that you are good enough to capture that wedding, first birthday, maternity shots etc. Because most of the time, you get one chance at it, you can never go back and re-capture that walk down the aisle, or baby's first taste of cake. It you are taking money to capture this you better be sure that you are fully capable of giving an exceptional end product, because these are people's memories that need to be forever captured in time and that is a big responsibility. My second piece of advice is to really look into what it takes to create a business. It's more than buying a camera and meeting your clients at the lake for photos. It takes a lot of time, there are steps that need to be put into place before you ever go out and take money from a client that first time. You need to register your business, get a tax id number, build your portfolio, cover your backside in case you were to be sued (happens far more than you think), organize your office to keep track of all your sessions/orders/paperwork etc. So if you've done those first steps, when you ask yourself if you are comfortable excepting money for your talent because you have honed your skills and you can answer yes confidently, and you've put the proper business measures in place, then comes the tricky part of setting yourself apart from everybody else. That's where the creative aspect of photography comes in, and the ongoing strive to be unique. Sure, most every photo has been taken, there are probably no true original ideas left, but you can still set yourself apart from the rest. Find your style, your angle, your artistic side. If your style is actually not your style, but the style of somebody else in town you are copying you aren't doing anybody a favor. You want to set yourself apart. With the digital photography advancements photographers who were once few and far between, are now a dime a dozen. But my plea to everyone is to raise the bar, if you're going to become professional do it right, otherwise nobody wins.

meg says-- i absolutely believe in following your dreams! if you're ready to take your passion to the next level and launch a business - establish yourself with a website/blog first.
photography as you know is a visual medium and it's important to showcase your portfolio. a blog from wordpress, typepad, blogger make it easy to establish yourself online quickly. flickr is a wonderful place to start as well. the age of social media has arrived - get yourself a fan page on facebook, twitter away, eventually you will be amazed at the folks who take time to look at your work.
brand yourself. have a logo designed for your new business and then get your business cards printed. overnight prints do a great job and they are so inexpensive. if you have a card in your pocket then where ever you are you can promote your business with ease. offer your services to local organizations - perhaps there is a new mother's club or a local school looking for auction items. donating a session is another easy way to get your name out there and gain more exposure. the recipient of your donation will be sure to tell his/her friends about you. word of mouth is priceless.
find your forte and focus on that. if you want to be a wedding photographer exclusively, them be sure to promote yourself with local cake vendors, florists, wedding planners and dress shops. same goes for children's photography - promote yourself with local businesses specializing in children's clothing, toys, accessories. the sky is the limit when it comes to promoting yourself in your area of expertise.
and finally, keep yourself motivated during the slow season. whether you are stuck in the snow of the northeast or dodging the raindrops in the west, keep yourself motivated by getting out there and shooting. the slow season is the perfect time to try new things. gather inspiration from other photographers - read blogs, visit websites, rent a new lens to try out and hone those skills. create an inspiration board to keep in your office - magazines are chock full of inspiration, pin pages from magazines of "ideas" you would like to try in your next shoots - quotes that move you and represent who you are. make sure you print and frame some of your own prints to hang. i find when i am working at my computer, looking up and seeing my own work hanging there is a wonderful reminder that i made the right decision to make my passion bloom. wishing you lots of successes.

3.What would you recommend to someone who has a real passion for photography and wants to improve? What would be your top three tips?
jen says--

A: Practice! Take pictures of EVERYTHING! Take your camera with you everywhere - you never know when you’ll find inspiration. The point is to experiment until you get images you like. You don’t have to get a perfect shot with every click and don’t be discouraged if you only keep a handful of your images. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with editing!

B: Get involved with online (or real life) photo groups and forums. I learned so much from my photography groups on cafemom.com (where we all met!) There are tons of sites out there offering information and constructive criticism through forums and contests. Even if you are just a lurker somewhere like ilovephotography.com, you can learn so much from the critiques posted for other’s work.

C: Learn to shoot in manual. You will hear it a million times! Learning about aperture and how to manipulate it to get the effects I desired most was a huge turning point for me. My two suggestions for learning to shoot manually involve reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson and using a lens that can get a wide aperture, like the 50mm 1.8. Shooting with a wide aperture will not only teach you about aperture, but also about focus.

4. Where do you get your prints done and what color profiles do you use for your photos? RGB? sRGB? Do printers have different color profiles?
Do you save the picture as a 4x6, 8x10, or whatever in Photoshop before you send them to get printed?

sarah says--I use and love both www.mpix.com , and www.mpixpro.com . When printing pictures for myself, I don't pre-crop. I just make sure to preview the image (recropping if/when necessary, right there through mpix) before ordering. When giving clients digital files, I save them that step, and give them multiple folders with selected sizes in each respective folder.

meg says--i have had great success with whcc. i find their lead-times to be fantastic, their customer service outstanding, and let's face it, anyone that puts a nice big tootsie pop in their packages is high up on my list! be sure to get "test" prints from any vendor you choose to do business with. it's important that the computer screen you are editing your prints on and presenting to clients is calibrated with those of your printer. i personally use adobe rgb. my images are saved at a high resolution - 300 dpi - i crop on an as needed basis when i receive print orders.

5. If you were lens..what lens would you be and why?

megan says--I guess my answer would be the 85mm 1.4 prime lens. I want to be sharp and fast, but still have some room, some distance from what I am trying to capture (especially important when catching toddlers in those real life moments, or brides coming down the aisle.) I want them to forget that I am even there, so I capture them unposed, in their element doing what comes natural to them.

jen says--
I’d be a lensbaby. A little bit focused, mostly not…but in a creative, good way!

What is your absolute FAVORITE lens to use?
meg says-- my favorite lens is the 85 1.8 - delightful, sharp, creamy and dreamy bokeh. i find it has been on my camera about 90% of the time lately!

shannon says-- hands down, my 50mm. it's fast, it's great for everything, it produces beautiful images, it gets you up close and personal with your subjects....i love it!!!

7. What are some tips from all of you on a perfect exposure in camera? I am really trying to be better about getting the perfect exposure while I am shooting and to not rely on PP after since I shoot RAW.
megan says-- I adjust my exposure on my camera using a little +/- button. I also spot meter using the spot meter setting on my camera, sometimes. That's the beauty of the digital camera and the display screen. When you take a photo, you can look and see if it looks properly exposed and if not, I adjust it accordingly. Then of course, the closest you get to the proper exposure the better, but if you are shooting in RAW, or even if you aren't you can go in and adjust the exposure until it is correct. But that is always much easier to do if you are underexposed rather than overexposed.

8. I'm getting hung up on a name. Using my name seems obvious since people will know me, but that seems boring. How do you approach naming your business?
shannon says-- this is a hard question and something i have personally kicked myself over. when i started out a couple years ago, i thought...."oh, i just think of a fun catchy name. i'm just doing kids, so it really doesn't matter." well, fast forward to today and it totally matters. my biggest regret is not using my name. i didn't want to use my name because my husband is also a photographer and he uses his name. so i thought, how cheesy to have j. hollman photography and s. hollman photography. if i could go back in time i would change it to my name. i wish i was branding my name and not my "company". when i thought about switching it over, though, i had a great response of people telling me they liked it...plus i really didn't want to redo my website, domain....i was in too far. so, i recently just added my name so that it is now thousand words photography by shannon hollman. i'm happy....for now. haha!

jen says-- When naming your business, I think the most important thing to consider is you. If you want something other than your given name, then I think it’s important to consider what you want your business to be focused on while taking into account your personal style and how you want to convey it. Some of my favorite photography business names are the ones that don’t even reference photography. The best ones seem to just represent a story or things that those folks love. Bluelime Photography, JinkyArt Photography, and Tea and Brie Photography are just a few great ones. Obvioulsy, these are all derived from things or words that the owners love! Make it personal. My photography business is just my name, but my sewing business is The PinkPooka, which I have always loved. My last name is Pinkerton, so that’s where the “pink” comes in, and “pooka” is a key word from a play I was in during high school. For my business, I wanted to convey my whimsical side, and it fit the bill perfectly while keeping it personal to me. Having a name that’s personal to you will set you apart from others.

who did the maternal lens blog layout?? and sarah, on your sidebar you have some of your wording in big, colored different fonts than what the typical blogspot offers. How did you do that??
boutique graphics did the TML blog layout and we love it!! (she also did my blog layout-- thousand words)
sarah says-- Those can actually be designed and plugged into Blogger each as a picture. I had the lovely Jennifer of Jennifer Alison Designs help me with mine! :o)

thanks again for asking and reading!! now, hop on over and ask us some more! TML Q&A

and don't forget....today is the last day to enter to win a snackTAXI!!


  1. Amanda R.1/22/2010

    Wow!! You all shared a ton of information. Off to read it again and soak it all in. Thanks so much for doing this!

  2. Heather P.1/22/2010

    Thankyou for posting this wealth of information,lots of things to really think about.

  3. Fantastic info. I *LOVE* the business card idea of putting them into the restaurant folder things after paying. Brilliant.

  4. Thanks for all the great info! It's pretty cool to get info from 5 fab photographers!!

  5. What a ton of great tips you have that I didn't almost finish reading it.

    Keep the great ideas coming.


  6. Thank you so much for sharing your business tips. I am not a photographer (I am a fiber designer and also make photo props), but found lots of useful info to help to improve my pictures and business skills:)

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