Down the rabbit hole …

So, it’s been awhile since I checked in here on my blog. I kind of feel like Alice in wonderland…I fell down the rabbit hole and I’m just coming back to the surface.

Between my business life and personal life its been a rollercoaster ride for sure. GREAT NEWS! I bought my house! For those who know me personally,  it is a dream come true for me and shows how really wanting something and working toward it you can definitely make it happen! It didn’t come without some sacrifices though. My family has definitely sacrificed to help reach this goal. In order to qualify for my house I had to take a $12,000 a year pay cut so I could get an office job to qualify for my house. It’s insane that it didn’t matter that I made LESS money the bank just wanted to see a paycheck from someone else. I think it’s terrible how the banking system penalizes you for being self employed.

Anyway my kids paid the price while I worked a day job and I ran my business on nights and weekends. As a single mom with 5 kids at home it was very scary for me.  I appreciate them and the sacrifices they made for us to get our home. They have been through a lot, new home, new school and new friends. It hasn’t been easy. I have an amazing team and I love them more than words can express!

I’ve quit the office job and I am back to my photography business full time. It’s hard catching back up and going full force with my marketing and ramping back up to full time work but its my passion so it’s a labor of love.



Big life changes….

I’ve had some huge life changes lately and took the time to step back and analyze my life a bit, thus the gap in my posts… I closed a chapter of my life and finalized my divorce. Its been a long process, almost 7 years! I moved from the community I was raised in and lost a lot of friends and family in the process. I changed my photographic specialty to follow my dreams, and in doing so sacrificed a regular income and the comfort of doing what people expected of me.  Being a single mom with 5 kids at home has been a hell of a ride.  I have grown and changed a lot during the past 7 years. I like the person I’ve become and I love the growth and freedom. My kids and I have grown into a TEAM… we make things work and we are closer and stronger than ever. I am so blessed!

I’m so grateful to work with so many amazing, creative people who have pushed me and helped me along the way.

I hope to continue the change and growth and I am determined to continue with my creative pursuits wherever they lead me.

Here’s to a happy journey… 🙂

Spider Camera Holster photography equipment review … Carole Jones commercial  photographer

Carole Jones at tulip festival in Lehi, Utah
This review has been a long time coming. I have been using a Spider Camera Holster  for a couple of years. I switched from my Black Rapid shoulder holster system after I had an automobile accident a couple of years ago. I have not been able to handle the weight on my neck and shoulders since my accident.

Things I love about my Spider Camera Holster Pro:

1. Weight distribution – My favorite thing about the Spider Holster is it distributes the weight of my cameras evenly across my hips. It has made a huge difference on how long I can wear my camera comfortably, it makes long days shooting or hiking so much easier. No aching neck and shoulders at the end of the day! 

2. Hands free – It’s great to drop my camera in the Holster and have both of my hands free. Allowing me to do everything from adjusting the wardrobe of a model or moving things on set, to clinging to the rocks as I climb a mountain, having my camera right there where I need it.

3.  Durability – I purchased a double Holster about 3 years ago. I have hiked extensively and worked using it continuously and it still looks and works like its new. The hardware is great! They made it out of metal and it works as good as it did the day I got it. The waist buckle part is plastic but doesn’t show any wear so far. I even bought a second one, the single version to use for times when I’m not carrying two cameras.

4. Security – The belt itself  is very secure, no slipping off!  The part that holds the camera to the Holster has a little switch which when it’s set, it locks the camera in place. No accidentally bumping it off. I could practically hang upside down and my camera would not slip out of the Holster. I also like how it holds the camera close to my body. With the Black Rapid system, the cameras dangled at my sides hanging from the shoulder harness straps. When I bent over or moved quickly they would swing and crash into things sometimes even hitting into each other. I had to be very conscious of my movements when wearing it. The Spider Holster Pro holds the cameras securely at my sides…allowing me to drop the camera into place and forget about it until I need it. 

Things I don’t like – well there’s only one thing I would change. I would like a softer fabric where my camera rubs on the Holster when I walk. I can see why they don’t have it..because then it wouldn’t be as durable …but it would be nice.

I definitely love my Spider Camera Holsters and I use them anytime my camera isn’t on a tripod. I have both the single and double Holster versions. I use my single Holster most. I use it in studio and on location, basically any time I have my camera off the tripod. The double version is great for events and hiking. I use it to carry two cameras with different focal length lenses so I don’t have to stop and change lenses. My Spider Holsters have become an important part of my photography equipment. I highly recommend it for people with neck or shoulder troubles or anyone who wants a secure way to keep your camera close to your body.

Gearing up for Palm Springs Photo Festival

The studio will be closed May 6th -13th. I’m excited to have the opportunity to assist Michael Ackerman ( a well known fine art, conceptual artist) at the Palm Springs Photo Festival this year. This is THE EVENT for commercial and fine art photographers on the west coast. I’m looking forward to meeting many art directors and editors I’ve admired for a long time.  I also look forward to the energy….there is a vibe when you get that many creative people in one place discussing what they love. 

Be ready for me to “blow up” my Instagram feed with all of the festivities.

Connect 2017 from PALM SPRINGS PHOTO FESTIVAL on Vimeo.

What did you do for spring break in southern Utah?

We spent our spring break building a fence for the final 1/3 of the front of our property. It ended up being about 100 feet of fencing. My children and I build the entire thing ourselves. It was a pain… digging in rocky, gravelly soil was difficult. Figuring out how to make it somewhat level was a challenge for us. My son proved to be very good at “sighting” things in while I held the posts level and the girls mixed and poured concrete in the holes. We let the posts cure for a couple of days then we cut and put on the 2×6 rails. My son measured and cut and we all helped screw them in place. Last came the painting. We all helped with that.  We still need to do a second coat… which we will probably do in another week or so.  We installed a drip system and planted some cherry and pecan trees and some blackberry bushes along the fence. It looks better already. I’m very proud of my children for their hard work and I think we make a pretty good team. 👍🏻 Each time I drive in or out of the driveway and see the new fence it makes me feel happy and blessed to have such a great family!

Children painting a fence

WPPI -What’s a commercial photographer doing at a wedding and portrait convention and trade show?  – St. George, Utah Commercial photographer

It’s been a busy time for me lately. Just back from a trip to a Texas I headed right back out of town to attend WPPI in Las Vegas, Nevada. What is a commercial photographer doing at a wedding and portrait convention and trade show? Well I have to admit that WPPI convention and educational resources don’t do much for me because it’s not designed to address my needs as a commercial photographer. But I do have a lot of fun hanging out with 10,000 other photographers and partying. The main reason I attend is the trade show. It’s great to see all of the latest and greatest gear, software and lighting equipment. I get to visit with the people who actually design my favorite software and products. I do have to be careful to not get too enthusiastic about the new products because lots of things are cool but don’t really add value to my business.

I attended several marketing classes and a drone class, while my daughter who is a boudoir photographer attended classes on posing, lighting and boudoir.  I try to bring someone new each year to help them expand their horizons and take advantage of this wonderful educational resource. Usually I bring one of my assistants or an intern. This year I brought a local gal who’s work I’ve been watching. She has oodles of creativity but I could see she needs to work on her technical skills. It was a lot of fun introducing her to WPPI. I wish she could have attended more more classes but I think by the time she left she had absorbed as much as she could in this short of a time.

If you are wanting to improve your portrait or wedding photography check out WPPI.

Resting my feet after a long day at the trade show in Las Vegas

Nikon d5 camera – deconstructed

Nikon Pro services gave free camera cleanings to NPS members. They also spoiled us with food & drinks when we dropped our cameras off , which was nice because a plain old bottled water was $4 at the convention center!

It’s that time of year again… the dreaded headshot update!

Carole Jones - Commercial photographerBeing a photographer, people assume I’m comfortable in front of a camera….well, I’m NOT. I put off getting my own headshot like putting off a root canal! I’m good at excuses! I need to loose 10 pounds…retouch my roots….get a new hairstyle…oh…and what should I wear?

I know I need to update my headshot every year, but it’s not fun! I do it to keep my website and social media profiles up to date. I also suggest that people update their headshot when they do a major hair color or hairstyle change. For men, facial hair has become popular and it surprises me how many times I meet someone in person and they don’t even resemble their headshot! You may love that photo you had done 10-15 years ago because you looked so young, but seriously, your headshot needs to look like YOU! It needs to be a nice, professional version of you – recently.

SO….to practice what I preach…I did it! I scheduled a time and got it done! I wanted to go get my hair styled and get a new outfit but decided to try to keep at least one of my New Years resolutions and “quit procrastinating”. So here’s my new headshot. It’s not fancy or glamorous it’s just “plain ole me”. It would have been good to have someone style my hair because it went all wild on me! I wish I was younger looking or prettier but if you see me around town, I’ll be recognizable and in reality, that’s what counts anyway, isn’t it?


Seven tips for hiring a professional photographer.

1. Check out portfolios! While word of mouth is great on getting you headed in the right direction, don’t hire someone just because a friend or neighbor says they are great. Make sure their work is consistent in quality and that their style fits what you need. Anyone can get a lucky shot if they take enough shots. You don’t want to rely on luck when you are investing in photos. A professional has consistent quality and can handle many different lighting and location situations. Look for diversity in lighting, indoors, outdoors, natural light, flash, points of view, etc. Also,  make sure your potential photographer specializes in what you need. A wedding photographer may not have the skills or background to produce advertising photos, etc.

2. Ask about insurance. Does your potential photographer have a business license and INSURANCE? Having liability insurance protects you as a client. Bad things can and do happen and having insurance is an indication that your photographer is prepared for all types of situations. Very few hobbyists have liability insurance (some claim it’s covered under their homeowner policy, that usually only covers their own equipment). Most professionals carry a minimum of 1 million dollars in liability insurance. Having a business license and insurance also indicates that a photographer is responsible and takes his/her business seriously.

3. How long have they been in business? If a photographer has a short history with their photography business this might be a side job or a hobby. There are many talented photographers that do photography as a side job and do a great job! But, be cautious about people that don’t have a history or references. Don’t pay big deposits or advances unless you are sure your photographer is going to be around long enough to finish the job.

4. Is your photographer a member of a professional organization? All organizations are not equal. Don’t be impressed by just any photography organization memberships. PPA, WPPI and several other organizations will let anyone who pays their fees be a member! Although these organizations are great resources, they are not an indicator that your photographer is truly a professional.

ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), AIAP (Association of Independent Architectural Photographers), REPAI (Real Estate Photographers of America & International ) and NPS (Nikon Pro Services) all have strict standards to qualify as a professional member and include a screening process to separate pros from non-pros so you can take their memberships more seriously.

5. REFERRALS? Don’t be embarrassed to ask for referrals! Ask your photographer for referrals for the type of photography you desire. If you are hiring him or her for a wedding ask for WEDDING client referrals. If it’s for commercial photography ask for COMMERCIAL referrals….and CALL them! Talk to the referrals. Ask about their experience. Were their photos what they expected? Did they receive them in a timely manner? Was the photographer easy to work with? Most people are apprehensive about asking for referrals but it is one of the best things you can do in choosing a photographer, so do it!

6. How much does he / she charge? You generally get what you pay for and if the photographer is super cheap your coverage or quality of the products you receive will most likely be reflected in that price. Also, unusually low prices can indicate inexperience in pricing their photography. Keep in mind that it goes both ways …. just because someone is expensive it’s not a guarantee of professionalism or quality either. In general don’t expect “filet mignon on a burger budget”. 

7. PERSONALITY? Does the photographer’s personality seem like a good fit for you? All of the qualifications in the world don’t mean a thing if you won’t be comfortable working with him and collaborating on a project. If your shy child will be totally uncomfortable with an energetic, loud, playful person trying to take his portrait then you might want to take that into consideration. Go with your gut on this one. Relaxed, happy people communicate well and foster creativity…making great photos possible.

In summary, look at all of the Photographer’s qualifications, portfolio, pricing, personality and references and make a decision based on all of the information. Haha…yeah, I know …easier said than done! Good luck!

Beauty is in the the little details….

I got a lot of weird looks taking this photo in a busy parking lot… but it’s worth it.

In my crazy, busy life it’s so easy to forget to stop and pay attention to the little details in life that make me happy. Here I had just finished with a client meeting and was in a hurry to make it to the St.George Chamber of Commerce lunch, I glanced at these little ant hills and went on by. After I got in my vehicle and was heading out of the parking lot, I stopped and hopped out to grab a quick shot. I reminded myself that I want to be intentional with how I observe the world and let my creative side have its chance even when I’m in a hurry. I need to slow down and enjoy each moment!

Looking for set, food & wardrobe stylists for commercial photography projects in southern Utah

I’ve had a hard time finding set stylists, wardrobe stylists and food stylists in southern Utah. If you know any who does high quality, detailed styling in our area, PLEASE send me their contact info! I have had to get people from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas to do my projects. It adds a lot to the overhead of producing a shoot, I’d rather use locals if I can. So do me a favor and be on the look out for people that would like styling work.