Giving back to the community is such an important part of being a business owner, but even more importantly, it’s a crucial part of the human experience. Doing things for others, while expecting nothing in return can help boost your mood, and reward you with a sense of fulfillment that money just can’t buy.
The American Cancer Society helps coordinate volunteers across the country to help raise money for cancer research, supporting the families of those dealing with it, and helping educate the public on ways to prevent and detect cancer.
I was honored to be asked to volunteer my time to photograph some of the teams that raised money for the Relay for Life in Freeborn County.
It was a hot and humid day that turned into a beautiful evening. I encourage anyone who has never experienced attending the Relay for Life to try to make it to the next one in their community. You don’t have to be on a team or even donate money to just go and walk the path lined with paper bag luminaries. The luminaries are decorated with the names and sometimes pictures of people who are fighting, survived cancer or in memory of someone.
It’s pretty rare to find anyone these days who hasn’t had cancer touch their lives and it’s a moving experience to see all the names and faces on the luminaries… especially after dark when they light the candles inside.
I want to comment on something in particular that I found very inspiring. It was all the purple shirts I saw at the kickoff event. Purple shirts represented survivors. Seeing so many people who had battled cancer and are doing well. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at them either and I believe Relay for Life and the work of the ACS has something to do with that. Let’s keep kicking cancer’s butt!!!
Have you booked your portrait session for your Senior Pictures? I’d love to have you call my studio and inquire about our services. This is the time to book your session. July and August are almost full and you don’t want to be stuck doing them once school starts in the fall, that’s just asking for a headache when it comes to schedule conflicts.
I’ve put together my top 5 tips to get you prepared for a successful portrait experience that leaves everyone, even mom, feeling good at the end of the day. Read on!
- Check out all your options
You think I’d just say, call me, fall in love, be done! LOL! Well, that’s all fine and dandy, as long as you’re a very go with the flow kind of person… but if you haven’t researched the options, you won’t have any point of reference to judge quality, service and price. Is quality important to you? If the answer is a resounding yes, then choose a professional photographer, someone who has been in the business for a while and you’ve heard delivers a great product. Service is huge too! There are amazing photographers out there, delivering high quality photos at high and low prices, but if they’re so overbooked (because they’re cheap) or so high and mighty (because they’re so ridiculously expensive) then they are not going to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Finding someone in the middle ground who is going to appreciate your business and work hard to please you, that’s who you’ll want to hire.
- Find the person you feel comfortable with
As soon as you get on the phone… and PLEASE, get on the phone with your photographer… you’ll know if this is a person you and your child will “click” with. The personality of your photographer is going to make or break the outcome of the session (AKA the beautiful portraits you hope to hang on your wall). Don’t sacrifice price for someone who takes forever to get back to your or seems annoyed by your questions. Having someone who is cheerful and patient is going to result in images with genuine expressions and natural poses.
- Ask the right questions
Instead of asking “How much is this going to cost?” instead ask, “What will I get for my investment?” You might be able to spend $500 at two different places and you would be amazed at the difference in the quanitity and quality of what you’ll be walking away with at the end
- Choose outfits with care
It used to be that there were “rules” about what to wear. Dark colors, solids, no prints, v-neck & long sleeves. Now days those rules are blown out of the water. Yes, if you follow those guidelines you’ll be able to get a nice, classic, simple portrait that focuses on your beautiful face… but life is so much more interesting and colorful than all that. So I always recommend one “classic” outfit and then ANYTHING GOES for the rest. Keep in mind, you’ll want to pick items that fit well, that flow over your body and don’t cling to areas you’re not wanting to showcase. Also, if you wear a print, just make sure it’s a flattering proportion to your body and if it’s paired with other items, let those be more simple so they don’t compete.
- Communicate with your photographer
My favorite part about almost everyone having a smart phone with a camera is that they are able to text me pictures of the outfits they’ve chosen and I can spend a day or two thinking about their upcoming session and where I might want to take them if we are going on-location. I also love when moms send me pictures they have of their older children that they want to capture something similar to, to complement the wall arrangement. Waiting to announce something like that at your ordering appointment isn’t a good idea, best to be proactive and that way your photographer can make sure they capture it, versus trying to find something that “fits” later.
Well, there you have it! My Top 5 Tips!
I’m super excited for all the upcoming senior portrait sessions this year. I hold off on doing them until after July 1st if possible, which most photographers would tell me I’m crazy, not to take advantage of June, but I just feel it’s too early! I think kids need a little break after school ends, and the mosquitoes get horrendous around here. We spray for them, but all those great places to get photographed, in the long grass or just off the beaten path will still be bad. And what about the June winds and rains? That’s just asking for rescheduling headaches. So I, along with my high school seniors take a break. I connect with my kids, take them to the park and the pool and just enjoy being with them. I hope you’ve been doing the same this month!
I have a confession to make… I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect person, and I’m not a perfect photographer. I’ve made my share of mistakes (which I skillfully correct and have never ended in a disgruntled customer, I am happy to say!) and there are definitely aspects of my business and photography skills that I’d like to improve upon… but I have to say, I think I have one thing nailed…
I’m awesome at creating works of art with my photography that make you FEEL something!
There. After a little self-depreciation, I’m boasting a bit. LOL! Bear with me though… I have a point I’d like to make sure I get across.
Now, most people hire me thinking they want a nice picture of their child, looking at the camera and smiling. I get that! (I mean, I understand that… but I guess I also mean that I get plenty of those to pick from)
I love those smiling portraits too! I’ll print one as an 8×10, 11×14, (or 16×20 if I’m feeling frisky) for my wall at home…
But it’s the images where my son isn’t looking, and often times, not even smiling that grab me: Make me stop & stare. I find myself studying his fine features that I adore so much… his soft hair, his long lashes… sigh.
THOSE are the ones that I wouldn’t dare put on my wall any smaller than a 16×20 and tempt me to order that 24×30 that I think just might be perfect!
I have found, repeatedly that I capture at least one of these grab-you-by-the-heartstrings-type of emotional images, that I throw into the proofs and hope that my customers are brave enough to step out of the box and order.
This mom is definitely one of those customers who always steps up to the plate and orders the images that are “non-traditional” and charged with emotion. Often times, we settle on the ones that make us laugh, that communicate the “realness” of life with four healthy children.
Here are some of my favorite images from our last session with little Ruthie who is growing up, and graduated from the “baby plan” and is now 2 years old!
So you did it! You hired a professional to take your family portraits! And you knew you wanted to use the images on your Christmas cards, but you’re thinking maybe you could save a little extra money if you order them yourself through one of the many online printing sites out there??? I’d encourage you to think again and read on.
Here are 5
good great reasons to let your pro photog take care of your holiday cards for you.
1) Saving time – This is a huge one! Chances are, you’re a parent (usually the mom gets charged with this duty) and you can literally spend hours online looking at different sites and designs. The options are endless… and as much as you might feel a bit limited when you look at your own photographer’s spread of a dozen or so samples, it’s really much easier to choose from 12 amazing designs than it is from 2,000 sort-of-good ones. Because heaven knows, once you find one you like… you’re going to want to customize it.
2) One-of-a-kind – Another key benefit! Who wants their card to be pretty much EXACTLY the same as hundreds, maybe even thousands of other peoples??? Not me. I love the idea that I have created the card designs I sell at Rebecca Lynne Photography from scratch or used bits and pieces of different templates I’ve purchased to make designs tailored specifically to showcase the images chose by my client for their card.
3) The Price is Right – When you first look at your photographer’s price list and compare it to an online site, it is probably going to be significantly more… but once you start spending all that time perfecting the limited options for customization you realize this isn’t such a cheap option after all! The sites are notorious for having the base-line price to grab your attention, but then as you finalize your order with a design on the back, your own quantity, paper options, envelopes and finishing touches they add-on and add-on to the price until it rivals that of the professional’s.
4) Showing off your portraits – Why on earth did you spend all that time and money coordinating outfits, dragging your reluctant family members and narrowing down the beautiful proofs to your top 10 favorites, only to pay a little extra to use ONE for your holiday card? If you get your card through your photographer, they often have designs that showcase 3-4 images at no additional cost. They want you to share the more standard image AND the fun ones because they want all your friends to know how much you loved your experience at their studio.
5) One less thing to worry about – Who doesn’t enjoy letting someone take a weight off their shoulders? Honestly, it’s fun browsing the card options for about the first 15-20 minutes, but after that it seriously turns into a chore. Having someone who will say, “Don’t worry, I’ll create a design you will love, proof read it all, send you a preview, AND if you see anything that needs changing I will take care of that for you, too! Plus, I will order them and have them ready in time for you to mail to all your family and friends.” Now that, is worth every penny!
Thanks for reading! Best of luck with the task of sending holiday cards.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
A lot of people seem to think I must have the most ideal life, being self-employed. Especially when I announced we’d be having another son and they all seemed to think I would be taking as much time off as I wanted… to just snuggle at home with my new bundle of joy.
Reality is a much different thing. LOL!
Reality is that I was working on paperwork and tax reports the week I got home from the hospital. And reality is that although my dear, dear customers who totally respect my time and honor me by asking who I would recommend they have take their portraits while I enjoy some much deserved maternity leave…well, I just can’t have someone else taking their portraits, now, can I??? 🙂
I just love them too much, and I want both of their son’s first year of portraits to be taken by yours truly so when they hang on their wall in the family gallery they look totally cohesive.
To tell the truth, I was a bit nervous. It had only been two weeks since our son, Henry, was born and so I had some legit concerns about this little newborn thinking I was his lunch ticket. (If you know what I mean!)
Luckily, he must like his own mama’s scent more than mine, so after battling his hunger cravings for an hour or so he FINALLY submitted to those heavy, heavy eyelids!
Needless to say, I also love these first images we caught with mom and dad when he was still awake.
P.S. I’m pretty sure you all know I wouldn’t be photographing right now if I didn’t absolutely love doing this. I just want to make sure it didn’t sound like I was complaining because I was very thankful I had scheduled the session. It was actually a relief to have a couple hours away from Henry and feel like a regular person and not a mombie (mom/zombie) LOL!
2014 is going to be a year of BIG and LITTLE changes! I’m so excited to re-draft my business plan like I try to do every couple years.
I am always one to set both business and personal goals at the beginning of a new year, but I know that this year … with the arrival of the newest member of our family expected to arrive any day (the 18th is my due date) I need to be evaluating priorities and creating a new vision of our ideal life… photography business included!
I LOVE my photography business. Self employment definitely has it’s ups and downs, but even at the low moments I still know it’s what’s best for me and our family … and I still have that gut feeling that it’s a gift the Lord blessed me with I need to continue to share with others.
Thankfully, with my gift, I’ve continued to attract the most amazing customers of whom I’m so grateful for. No complaints here! Keep referring me to your friends and family. That’s the only way I can continue to use this gift to support our growing family.
A few of the upcoming changes you can expect to enhance your experience at Rebecca Lynne Photography:
– I will offer some “collections” this upcoming year and embrace the idea of including digital files with some of those collections. (Of course, there will still be the a la carte offerings)
– I will be offering 5-7 pm weekday photo sessions which should actually work better with my clients work/sports practice schedules. I am making this change to delay the need for full time daycare for at least the first 6-9 months of our new little one’s life. Depending on how well this works, I may just keep it this way.
– Prices will only increase very slightly (which I need to do every year to fend off the increasing costs of production) but there will be some amazing new products included in the collections to tempt my customers into investing in the products they have always wanted but maybe didn’t feel they could justify purchasing before, and save them money on things they “had” to invest a large portion of their budget into before the collections (aka gift prints for family members).
– I hope to do more in-home ordering sessions (which will now be called the “Session Premiere”) when it’s more convenient for the customer. This will allow me to see the walls they would like to decorate with the images we created.
– I will be adding in more personal touches throughout the process from the first phone call, to the photo session, as well as the session premiere and the order presentation. My ultimate goal being to take the whole experience to a new level of luxury and make my customers (who are mainly moms) feel pampered.
All in all, I want to continue to set myself and my business apart from those newbies and part-timers who we all know are out there trying to lure people in with free and discounted sessions.
Most moms (and some dads) know how much time goes into preparing for the photo session… researching for the perfect photographer, coordinating schedules, gathering outfits and scouring Pinterest and other sites for inspiration. A pretty big investment of time that is worth just as much as the money invested in new outfits… but one that is so rewarding when you have a beautiful work of art (aka family/senior/child’s portrait) to hang in the perfect place in your home and enjoy every time you look at it.
My goal will be to make sure you know just how much I appreciate all of that and help you understand that it would be the ultimate DIS-service to you if I were to just hand you a CD or ask you to download the files yourself from the internet and figure out on your own what to do with them from there… when we both know I can provide you with so much more than that.
If you’ve made it through this text-heavy post I figured you needed to be rewarded with some beautiful images I recently had the privilege of capturing for one of my wedding clients from 2012. They just welcomed this little miracle, Jace, into their family. I’m so genuinely happy for them. I believe babies are the best gifts we receive in our lives (be it our own children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews, friend’s children), and to be blessed with such a happy & healthy little boy … well, it just about doesn’t get any better than that!
In early August we were happy to announce to our families and close friends, and a few weeks later, to all our other friends via Facebook that we are expecting a baby in February 2013!
How we did it was a really fun idea… but more on that later… I’d like to share more about our joy for this newest addition to the Houg family…
Our son, Collin, who will be 6 years old by the time the baby arrives, is beyond excited. He is the sweetest and asks to hug the baby (aka: my tummy) all the time. He also says the sweetest dinner prayers… “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our baby and pray that you help the baby grow strong, Amen.”
If that doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will! I have been feeling great, all things considered. I’ll admit, being pregnant at 32 is definitely different than being pregnant at 26 years old! LOL! Plus having a little boy that comes home from school and wants me to get up and go play soccer outside instead of being able to put my feet up or take a nap whenever I feel like it, might be making a difference too!
But it’s all good! I can’t complain for a second. I’m unbelievably excited to be a mom to a new little baby. It took me a while to be ready… but managing my business, working behind the scenes for my husband, and building a new home can kind of put a bit of a damper on the ability to catch baby fever.
We announced our pregnancy to everyone using a clever shirt I’d seen on Pinterest a while ago that the gal had made herself with a plain white t-shirt and fabric paint. I decided I didn’t have time to monkey with painting a t-shirt, plus I’m a perfectionist when it comes to those things so if there was one letter not quite right it would have bugged me every time I looked at it.
So, I designed and ordered a shirt online through Zazzle.com and it was pretty easy. The product arrived fairly quickly and was screen printed to perfection!
I decided to offer the design on their site for other expecting parents to order.
Here’s the link in case you’re interested. I’ll admit, I earn a little credit for each shirt sold which is pretty cool.
And here’s the pictures I took of Collin wearing the shirt…
Oh, and while I was at it, I designed another shirt he loves that says “Soon-to-be Big Brother” he loves. You can check that one out too!