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… 🙂

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!

Change can be scary.

For the past year, I have been working between two locations. WOW! It’s been a lot of work and so inefficient! Leaving files or equipment at one location and needing them at another… it’s been an organizational nightmare. I decided something had to change!

I’ve been reevaluating my business and I decided to eliminate the extra overhead and logistical problems and SIMPLIFY! So I converted a side building at my home into a small studio and office. It’s reducing my overhead and putting everything in one place.

It’s been a scary transition! I had so many questions. Could I afford it? Money had to be invested in remodeling to make the space usable.  Will the new studio be too small? I looked at my client jobs over the past year and realized that 70% of them were shot at the business location and the rest would work in a smaller space, if not I can rent space for a day for much less than my monthly rent of the commercial studio. Would my clients abandon me?  I was so worried that not having a commercial location would impact my business negatively, but I found that I can serve my clients better! Having all of my equipment and office in one location close to home has made it so I can get things done faster. The elimination of the logistical nightmare has freed up my mind and my creativity is flowing! I’m excited to see how this change will turn out for my business.

Pics of studio & office will follow soon! Still doing some organizing and unpacking. Wish me luck!

kids with caroleshootsads.com logo hats

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Creative planning ideas….

Almost everyone I know celebrates Thanksgiving in some way. After all of the food and friends and family, I find it’s a good time to reflect on the blessings I have in my life. November and December are slower times in my business which is stressful financially but its also a great time for recharging and planning for the year ahead of me. Setting goals is important…but planning to make them actually come to fruition is the hard part! I work on my personal goals, my business goals and the group goals we set as a family. As a single mom, just figuring out my work schedule and making things work with my children’s schedules can be daunting. I am a list maker…which doesn’t really integrate well with today’s digital technology. I love to doodle and scribble all of my ideas on paper but organizing them and making them accessible can be a challenge. Does anyone have any apps or technology to share with me on how to better handle this? Please comment if you do! I would really appreciate the help!

ipad LWS port

 

Getting ready for SEMA

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with moving my home and studio and everything. I still don’t have my studio put together but I’ve been blessed with some fun projects.

I’ve been working on some photos for a company here in southern Utah, Flog Industries,  they make some amazing bumpers for Jeeps. We did a fun photo shoot with lots fog machines and some crazy lighting situations to deal with. Those fog machines are fun but they can fill up a fairly big area in a hurry. Its hard to get the right balance between smoke and visibility!!!!

Flog Industries has a booth at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, NV next week. We’ve been rushing to get some last minute pics for some of their marketing materials. I’m looking forward to attending SEMA again this year.

Here’s a sneak peek of one of the jeeps we shot.

Flog jeep
Flog jeep

Plan ahead for your marketing….Double chocolate mousse… YUM!

Here’s a dessert shoot i did a few weeks ago for my portfolio. Since it was personal work, I just barely got around to processing it. Clients work always comes first!  

You may notice some ornaments in the background. It because we generally shoot holiday items as early as July. It’s a good thing to keep in mind if you are planning an advertising campaign for the Christmas holidays, you will be better organized if you have your photography done in advance. (Plus it saves you money, rushed shoots usually cost more!) When you plan in advance you can save money by scheduling in photographer’s and designer’s slower times, plus you have more time to get all the little details perfect. A rushed job is rarely a great job!

Celebrate survival!

Art’e Gallery is having a party…and YOU are invited!

Hey everyone, please check this out! It’s this afternoon…be there!
It’s truly something to celebrate a small biz surviving 7 years in this economy! It shows the dedication, hard work and amazing customer service pays off. 

It’s so important to support each other! See you there! 

 

Vegas twice in one week…

After attending WPPI at the first of the week I had to come back for a full day “Serious Technical Training” on Capture One Pro 8 software. Josh Booth of Capture Integration did a thorough job! It was intensive!!!! It is an amazing program to integrate into my workflowI loved it and learned a ton. During the breaks there were lots of fun medium format toys (Mamiya, Phase One) and Profoto lights to play with! A photographers play day!

Vegas baby! (WPPI)

I went to WPPI last week. It’s the biggest photography convention in the U.S.. It was great to get to reconnect with some of my photographer friends. Levi Sim did a headshot of me at the trade show…I have yet to see it, but I’m sure he did a great job. He’s doing a neat series in honor of Steve Jobs. Check out Levi’s cool photo series at www.levisim.com.

I find the trade show very valuable for research. I especially love the chance to get to try out all of the “new toys” on the market. It saves me a fortune to get to try them out and talk to the reps before I buy. I also like having the chance to speak to my sales guys and gals at my favorite vendors. It’s nice to put a face to a voice & name. I feel like it’s important to stay up to date on the latest techniques and softwares. There’s no better way to get your answers than from the developer!

The entries into the print competition were amazing! The level of the work presented somehow always surpasses the past year..it’s remarkable!  I was excited to see our local photographers, Nick & Signe Adams leading a photo walk at WPPI! It shows that little ol’ St. George, does have some nationally recognized portrait & wedding photographers. Woohoo go Nick & Signe!!!

I made sure I made it to see Peter Hurley, Scott Kelby & Joe McNalley speak at the trade-show. I usually purchase a full pass and go to classes for 3 days straight. As a commercial photographer I don’t feel like the platform classes offered much for me so I skipped that part this year.  ( This was my 7th year in a row of attending WPPI.)

Peter Hurley is an amazing headshot photographer. His demonstration was very engaging.

If you are an aspiring wedding or portrait photographer you will find WPPI a valuable addition to your education so  check it out WPPI  2016 starts on February 15th next year. Buy your pass ahead of time and you can save $150!!!!  Continuing education is critical for a professional photographer,  you won’t regret it! I encourage all photographers to join a professional organization such as WPPI, PPA or ASMP, they are fantastic resources for professionals or aspiring photographers.