As I go on in my business I have been constantly changing. I have always wanted to empower people through photography as I know what is is like to have low self esteem and feel awkward in front of a camera. I want to change that with my business. If you have low self esteem I want you to leave the photoshoot holding your head up a little higher and have more confidence than when you arrived. I never really knew how to incorporate my image for my business until now! Today I am going to let you guys know how my business is changing!
1. my mission
I have not one but two mission statements that I hope to achieve in my business. The first one is my overall mission. It is what I hope to accomplish by the time I retire from photography. That mission is:
"To empower and inspire people through photography, create lasting friendships, and to come together as a community to empower those around us and within the community to leave a lasting, positive impact on the world"
My second mission is my mission that I want to achieve by the end of each and every photoshoot. If I don't complete this mission each time I know I didn't do my job right. The mission is as follows:
"To empower my client and to have them leave feeling better about themselves with a higher confidence and better self esteem than when they arrived, as well as to create beautiful images for them to cherish forever"
2. My Plan to achieve my mission
A mission (or two ;) ) is no good if I don't take action. To complete my overall mission I have created a Facebook group called "MH photo fam. community group" This group is to connect my past and present clients to each other. In this community people can connect with one another, create friendships, lean on each other in hard times, and so much more.
It is also a way for us to come together as a community and give back to the world. through out each year I host various community service project events such as picking up trash, volunteering at a local food shelter and lots of other community service projects.
Although this community right now has around 20 people (when this was written) I hope it grows to have hundreds or even thousands of people in the group one day. I know a lot of my clients, (especially older people) have been a bit taken back by the group and have rejected the invitation as this is not common in my area for photography businesses to have communities, but I am not any ordinary business. I don't view my clients as just a business transaction but as friends and I want a place to become friends and something bigger than just here's pictures, now bye. I want more than that and I want clients who want to be more than just being a transaction.
Another way I am working towards completing my mission is through client experience. I bring a positive attitude to all my photoshoots. I help coach my clients from the smallest ways like where to point your toes all the way to what angle to stand or sit, where to look, and even making sure every hair on your head is not out of place. I use positive wording when I pose my clients. Instead of saying "No don't look left look right!" I may say "Instead of looking to your left look to your your right, Perfect you are doing so well!" This creates a positive environment that my clients can relax and enjoy their time with me. I also strive to do what I can to make you feel like the best version of yourself.
Lastly, although I could probably talk forever on my plans my last main way I am going to make my mission a success is by furthering my education. I am always looking to learn new things in order to stay up to date and to keep things new and exciting. whether education means college, working with another photographer or even learning from my clients! I just want to learn and strive to be better than I was yesterday!
3. What photography projects I take on
In the beginning I took every project that was handed to me. I have narrowed it down some and may continue to narrow it down in the future but here is what I offer now! If you don't see one on the list it doesn't mean I am unwilling (never hurts to ask me!), but depending upon what it is I may decline the offer.
As I do photography more there will be more and more changes, but here are my main changes I am making today! I want to thank everybody who has followed my journey and has watched me grow to what I am now!
In March 2020 I took photos of my first client and couple Andy and Kaylei. They were so much fun to photograph and such a cute couple. I remember being so excited to shoot them that I talked my boyfriend's ear off about it (sorry honey :) ) I remember feeling so proud of the photos as they were the best I had taken at the time. Fast forward to six months later, September 2020. I had the honor of photographing this wonderful couple again for fall photos! I was estatic as I truly loved working with them in the past. When I went to edit the photos I noticed how I improved A LOT in the six months which I want to show you guys! So without further adieu let me show you the before and after photos!
The photo on the right I took back in March and the photo I took on the left was taken a few weeks ago. Almost all the March photos were really grainy and a soft focus on their faces or even body in general. On the Right they even have dark eye sockets, which now I know how to prevent. My editing has vastly changed as well. I would kind of wing editing in March and now I know how to get the desired look I am going for!
I remember when I first started out I rushed changing my settings. I felt pressured that the client would think I am taking to long (it was all in my head of course) and so I ended up with a lot of over or really under exposed images. which is shown with these photos on right, I way over exposed the image and tried to save it. Andy's arm is still very over exposed on the right. Now I know the importance of taking a few extra seconds to double check my exposure. I now usually will talk to my clients as I am changing my settings to not feel pressured and to not have awkward silence.
What I love about these photos is all were taken at Quarry Park in St. Cloud MN and some like these two above were taken in the exact same location on the exact same rock. The reason why I got a much better photo on the left vs. right is because I know how to use lighting to my advantage and framing techniques to get the perfect shot. On the right I was more too my Left (their right) which made them darker not to mention because of not being careful of my settings I under exposed the image to the left. on the right I stepped more to my right (their left) which got better lighting with where the sun was creating that glow on them that I always strive for. I was able to move in a way to get the tree branches framing the photo to have some lead lines that brings your eyes to them. Overall the right was one of my favorite photos I took of them from our last session.
Another thing I did not do in March was not shoot in RAW. I did start after I watched a you tube video saying you should. But in March at the start of their session my camera wouldn't save the photos on the SD card and it would buffer and would not let me take photos of them. I thought I was going to have to end the session early. I thought it was because I switched to raw, but it was actually that I was using a very cheap SD card that got damaged. Luckily for them I had a spare SD card with me and was able to still take the session. Because of thinking it was because I was shooting in RAW I switched to Jpeg for their session which makes correcting images (especially under or over exposed) very difficult. I now have a good quality SD card and now that I have switched back to shooting in RAW I have had zero problems and I always carry a backup SD card just in case.
Above is the last photos I will show you. I have been talking about lighting mainly in this post, but although the lighting is partly what makes the right so much worse it is also my posing that has changed. I admit I was not good at giving directions and coaching my clients on posing. On the right back in March I think I said something along the lines of "wrap your arms around her from behind" and that is all. Where now I fully coach my clients on how to pose from the tips of their toes to where to place their hands, where to look etc. I pair my posing with encouraging words to help relax the clients and to ensure they know they are doing it right! This has resulted in a more natural and relaxed posing.
Overall, I hope you enjoyed reading about my transformation as much as I enjoyed seeing it. I am glad I have learned so much from my photographer mentor KJ and that I am able to break down my shoots and analyze them myself in order to improve as well as giving my clients a better experience.
Yesterday I got to spend the lovely evening with Katana who is a senior this year! The location of choice was Musinger Gardens in St. Cloud MN. The place is a Beautiful park with lots of pretty flowers and greenery as you can see as you take the visual walk with us!
In the picture above and some below is one of my favorite spots for photos here as there are tall trees that filter in the light so beautifully and even. Then there is the greenery and bright red flowers that add pop and interest into the photo. Makes Katana look like she is in beautiful Fantasy Fairy garden of some sort!
After the Beautiful fairy garden vibe, we get to a pathway for Katana to release her inner model and strut her stuff!
After spending some time with Katana I learned that Musinger Gardens that isn't just a random location for them, this location is special to her and her mom Lisa. They come here regularly to play Pokemon Go! Although I am bad at the game myself I am glad I got to find fellow Pokemon Go Fanatics! As her mom was fighting in a gym battle we went and got some photos on the steps.
Katana Below Slaying the model walk once again looking like royalty!
Nearby there were violets that matched her outfit and I just had to get some photos!
Before changing into her second outfit we got a last few photos under an arch full of greenery
Katana's second outfit consists of a purple blouse, jeans and gorgeous heeled boots that are to die for!
The Garden had beautiful swinging benches scattered throughout the park I love the rustic vibe I get from the bench, compliments Katana's outfit so well.
To Finish off the session we captured great photos in front of a old cabin
I had the pleasure of doing engagement photos for Alyssa and Jake this past weekend! I have been waiting since July to do their photos as they booked me for their wedding in July. I love doing engagement photo sessions because it is fun to see the couple's personalities and seeing them have fun with each other, it all just warms my heart.
Their engagement session started off like any other engagement shoot. We met at a park in St. Cloud MN and chatted about the wedding and engagement session. We warmed up doing a few "warm up" photos that you can see below:
After we got warmed up we walked on the trail where I got to know that their wedding was going to be rustic themed with sage green, black, white, and grey colors. They picked beautiful colors that will looks stunning at the barn with the browns of the wooden barn. As we all approach a clearing I have them do the signature nuzzle shot!
I love doing nuzzle shots as they are simple, yet intimate. I love how close and relaxed they look as well as the emotion of happiness and being content this picture shows. in my opinion you can never have enough nuzzle shots.
I love the clearing they are in. the tree line is high enough during the evening to diffuse the light and create a nice glowy look, but not too high or thick that the light can't shine through. Not to mention it has nice tall crass with tree that don't create what we call in the industry "black holes" for the non photographers that may be reading this, black holes in photography sense are really dark areas that seem to suck the subjects in instead of making them pop from the background.
Once we got done taking photos into the clearing we got some beautiful on the path photos that you can see below:
Because of how this park's trail is made the sun is usually on one side or the other of the trail. I like to back light my clients so the sun is behind them and crates a nice glowy background. so typically on the path pictures don't happen at this location. I decided to take a risk and did some photos on the path and I am glad I did! these are one of my favorites from this location They are well lit and have the bright and airy vibe I try to go for! This is one of those times where breaking some of the photography rules that we try to abide by makes sense to be broken.
Right to the Left of this path there is kind of an opening. I think it was an old short cut trail that got over grown over time. but I love this area because there is enough of an opening to get a bright an airy look
The picture is soft and romantic with the trees hanging over head and the small plants a tiny white flowers just add beautiful detail and bring this picture together.
After the clearing, we get to the river. Everybody loves pictures by this river. the bad thing about the river is that the trees are too thick for light to shine through in the way that I like and not to mention the sun is never in the right position. none the less the clients of course want to do pictures. I take them as I know I can fix most of the issue post editing.
I have my wonderful couples sit down. Since I have bad handwriting Alyssa decides to write on the chalkboard instead of me. I tell her to write "engaged" and then add the month and year they are engaged. we take the pictures (unfortunately I deleted them as they didn't want these pictures you'll see why in a minute) and then then Alyssa's fiance drop the bomb and he says "funny thing is that we are not engaged"
I let out a small "oh?" while I start panicking internally thinking I booked a regular couple and I did not remember doing so. I ask them, "Are you guys my clients who are getting married?"
They both laugh (thankfully they have an awesome sense of humor) and Alyssa tells me "yes we are. We know we do things backwards, but we are not engaged yet because he hasn't proposed technically."
I let out a mental sigh of relief, at least I did not mix up any clients! Jake decides to throw us both for a loop! he nonchalantly asks, "How about we make it offical?" and he got down on one knee and proposed!
Luckily I had my camera on. This lighting was a tad dark as I did not have time to adjust lighting as I had no idea this was going to happen, but post processing fixes most things. I am very ecstatic that I was able to capture this once in a life time moment for them. Alyssa cried tears of joy and was able to cherish the moment. After their official engagement we redid the photo with the sign to have the correct date for them to share.
With that, we took a few more shots before heading back up towards the entrance as we had to go to our second location for the beautiful sunset photos. Before we got back to the entrance we stopped on the path as there is a tree that bends over the path. I love this tree, but the bad thing it is usually too dark, but the clear sky worked in my favor and I was able to capture a romantic scene under the tree
After getting to the car we head to the second location. As I get near the second location I just happen to see a road divider that has trees in the divider. As the sun was still a tad high I tell them my impromptu plan of walking to the middle of the road to the divider. I am glad I took this chance as I got the most gorgeous photos here!
I believe the apples are crap apple trees which created a beautiful pop to the background! this is probably my favorite place out of the whole shoot.
After sporting their sunglasses the sun was starting to emit warm orange tones from setting. We did a picnic scene where they had white grape sparkling cider and a yummy chocolate cake dessert. I used my macro lens to get away from them so they could enjoy a romantic and intimate moment shared just between themselves without me in their face. These pictures were truly magical!
To finish off the romantic evening we did a few simple sunset kissing photos before parting our ways. I went home to edit and they went off to a dinner reservation to celebrate their engagement.