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Two More SmugMuggles Win Big in Our Refer-a-Friend Contest

August 25, 2014 1 comment

Just a quick announcement to congratulate (and thank!) the summer winners of our ongoing Refer-a-Friend contest. If you’ve just tuned in, we’re celebrating all the great photo lovers in our family with a contest that runs through the end of 2o14.

In addition to getting 20% credit each time you bring someone new into the SmugMug world, each referral enters you to win a deliciously daring GoPro Hero 3+ camera, AND a chance be our guest of honor at SmugMug HQ.  Full contest details and rules are right here.

So without further ado, here’s our salute to June and July’s winners, Duke Pham and Claire Bunn. What amazing photographers we have in the mix! We’re floored.

Visit Dukegraphy Studio‘s site

 

 

Thanks so much for sharing us with fellow photo phreaks, and we hope that you’ll be getting out there and capturing your next adventure soon!

Links:

Pros, Your Fans Are Gonna Love This

August 21, 2014 10 comments

While we’ve had tutorial videos and archived webinars forever, today we’re happy to show you the latest additions to our library: How to Buy Prints & Downloads.

Two New Videos for You to Share

Pros have often asked us for tools that will help sell more prints, gifts, and downloads, because occasionally your fans need a little extra push. So we’ve created a long-format tutorial (7:58) and a short-format tutorial (4:52) showing your fans how to add photos to the shopping cart, understand those framing and cropping options, and check out. Here’s the short version:

We hope that you’ll share these with your clients, or even embed them into your site so that they’re viewable at any time. Tip: Use Customize > Customize Site and drop a YouTube video Content Block onto the page. You can get the video link above.

Here’s to smoother sales at SmugMug!

P.S. Did you know that we have a 100% guarantee on all items ordered through your SmugMug galleries? If you or your customer are not happy for ANY reason, we’ll fix it or replace it for free. We mean it.

Links you’ll love:

Introducing the SmugMug Partner Program: For Charismatic SmugMuggles (Who Also Love Cash)

July 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard the news that we’ve revamped our Refer-a-Friend program, giving existing customers 20% account credit for every person they bring over to SmugMug.

But what if you’d rather have real money?

Cash In with the SmugMug Partner Program

For those of you with the gift of gab, charismatic leadership, or if you just prefer money for your referrals, we’ve got an option for you: The SmugMug Partner Program. Apply for an account now and you’ll earn at least 15% commission (higher payouts possible for top performers) for every new person who uses your link to open an annual account.

Example: Refer someone to open a $300/year Business account and you get $45 in your pocket. Commission is calculated on the transaction amount, so discount coupons can affect how much you’re paid.

The program is perfect for bloggers, community leaders, website owners, teachers, instructors, motivational speakers, or anyone who knows lots of people looking for a great photo home.

“Can I Do Both?”

Sorry, but you’ll have to choose one program or the other. We love that you want to bring SmugMug to as many people as possible, but we do ask that you choose the one method that suits your style best. However, if you’re already active in our Refer-a-Friend program, you can switch over.

“But… I’m No Sales Rep!”

That’s OK. Once you’re accepted into the SmugMug Partner Program, we’ll email you your own unique referral link and a handy style guide so you can start earning money right away.

We’ll also send you a handy writing toolkit, which includes banner graphics, topic ideas, flash sales (limited-time deals where you can earn bonus cash for your referrals) and sample blog posts that you can just copy and paste into your own blog.

We won’t leave you hanging. :)

How to Get Started

Simply fill out this form and we’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible. If you’re looking for more info, check out our help pages, and we highly recommend that you read through the full Terms and Conditions of the SmugMug Partner Program, too.

Here’s to making the world a safer, prettier, and happier place for photos!

SmugMug Films: Exploring the Wild with Chris Burkard

July 15, 2014 3 comments

We’ve long wanted to film famed surf photographer Chris Burkard in action, so when we heard that he was headed to the Arctic with professional surfers to tackle the brutally harsh seas, we packed our bags and followed. In our latest installment of SmugMug Films, we travel with Burkard on his journey with professional surfers Patrick Millen, Brett Barley, and Chadd Konig as they brave sub-zero temperatures to capture moments of raw beauty, adventure, and community. Keep reading after the video to get an exclusive interview with Chris about how he got his start, what he looks for in a fantastic image, and that time he got deported from Russia.

How did you get started with photography?

I did a lot of art in high school. And I transitioned to wanting to explore doing art out in the field, but I soon realized it wasn’t very fun. It wasn’t a very intimate experience to me. You’re just a bystander. When I picked up a camera and started taking photos of my friends surfing and landscapes, I realized I was in the moment. I was out there, and shooting these photos was an extension of the body. It was intimate. You’re a part of it, and you can take it anywhere: social settings, mountaintops, oceans. It was a perfect extension and a great medium of expression for me. To this day I’m seeking out new places so I can bring a camera and experience them.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

If you hadn’t become a photographer what would you have been?

Probably a fireman. I don’t know! I worked for many years in random jobs. Before I was working to be a photographer, I worked on cars a lot. I loved old vehicles and the idea of making them how I wanted. It came down to the idea of wanting to do something where people will appreciate my craft and my talents, and I realized that was what made me want to turn machines into artwork. If I wasn’t a photographer, maybe I’d be working on cars somewhere.

How would you describe what you do today?

I’m always seeking out the adventures in life, whether I’m shooting surfing in a cold, harsh environment or shooting a commercial assignment. And that’s meant to speak to the idea of going to a new place, summiting a new peak, or surfing a new wave. It doesn’t matter to me how big or how small. My goal has always been to create images that inspire people to get off their couch and go explore something new.

The idea of exploration is the thing that really makes me want to push harder. It’s the driving force behind a lot of my work.

2012, CHRIS BURKARD PHOTOGRAPHY, GLOBE, ICELAND,

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

What do you look for when creating an image?

There’s a lot of technical things I’ll look for. I’m looking for light, contrast, and all those elements that make a good image. But I consider other elements when I’m thinking of how to capture something. Like if there’s historical value to a photo—where I’m shooting a place that might not be around for very long—that’s very important to me.

Coming from an art background, I’m used to trying to put everything I want into this easel shape. I’m just bringing in all the elements. When you’re shooting and photographing in this frame, you have to get everything inside it. You’re really constricted in being able to make it happen.

For me, it’s also super important to push your cameras as far as they can go to capture what you’re seeing. A photograph is usually a two-dimensional item. If there’s anything you can do to make it feel three dimensional, that’s the goal.

I also like the idea of creating images that will carry weight with people. Photos that aren’t driven by advertisements or logos. And it’s super important, too, when creating a body of work that you want to be around longer than yourself.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Given the adventurous nature of your work and the harsh conditions you’re in, are there any great pictures you didn’t get to take?

There’s always a lot of pictures I don’t get, or I feel I haven’t had a chance to capture yet. As a photographer, or anyone who’s a perfectionist, that’s all you think about: all the moments you didn’t get. And that’s just life. You’re striving for something better, and you always wish there’s something you could’ve captured, but if you get them all, you’ll have nothing left to strive for.

What do you consider the biggest challenge about your work?

It all depends on where I’m going. The nature element is the hardest thing, like if I’m going somewhere really cold or somewhere that has a harsh environment. Being in the water in high 30s or low 40s can be brutal on your body, mind, and psyche, and it’s always challenging. You’re always weighing out risk versus reward. Luckily, 90 percent of the time you’re not far from a warm car, but there are those moments when you know in order to get the shot you have to go out and suffer a bit. Those are the times I feel most alive. I have to put in more effort and lose a little bit of skin.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Your explorations often take you to off-the-beaten-path locations. What do you look for?

I’m drawn to places that feel and look more wild. I think it’s human nature to want to see these places, but the reality is most people don’t want to put in the time to find them. So a big part of what I do is try to find spots that will speak to that aesthetic. The location is almost as important as who I’m with and what I’m shooting. Each place plays a huge character role in these stories. Whether I’m on a remote beach in Norway or somewhere in Russia, I want to be in a place that people naturally associate with adventure.

How do you find these places?

There’s a certain recipe. There are a lot of amazing places I could go, but I have to have an assignment that takes me there. I have a list of places I would love to see and love to experience, but I don’t have opportunities to shoot there. But I have a list. And it’s something I tick off as I get to go to places.

With so many places yet to see, is there a favorite place you’ve already been?

Oh, yeah. I’ve been to Iceland 13 times. That place is pretty dang special.

What do you love about it?

The way the landscape is always changing really draws me in. It’s inspiring to me and makes me want to go back because the conditions and climate are constantly evolving. For a photographer, it’s what you’re always searching for. You could shoot only one day there and have so many different conditions.

I don’t like to go to places that wouldn’t be inspiring to me on a personal level. Because if you’re not excited about the work you’re doing, then it’s hard to want to photograph it.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Is there a photography project that’s been the most meaningful for you to date?

The trips I do, I invest a lot of my energy, heart, and soul. That’s why when they turn out successful, it means so much. Success can be measured many different ways, but for me it’s pretty simple: If I feel like I got the images I needed, or got the job done while still being able to experience the culture for myself, then the trip was a success.

I plan for three years or more to do these trips, and when I’m able to set foot on the landscape and experience it, I don’t want to leave anything behind. For me, that’s been Russia, Alaska, Iceland, and Norway. These are places I put a big part of myself into.

What’s been your most challenging to date?

I’d say Russia just because of the logistical challenge of getting there. It took three years to plan and find the place to go.

I went to Russia for the first time in 2009, and you have to fill out a visa request like three months ahead of time. I was in a crew with four people, and we had to go through customs. I get stopped. They look at my passport. They look at me. They look at my passport again. They look at me. And I realize the entry date on my visa was for the next day. It was the wrong date.

After a long discussion, they put me in a holding cell for 24 hours, and then deported me to South Korea. After recouping a day later, I flew back. It was scary. Really scary. I didn’t get food and water until I talked to the embassy. It was crazy.

It was one of the first places I traveled to that was really wild and remote. And it was such an eye-opening one because I realized for the first time what it felt like to have all your rights stripped from you. It makes you really appreciate being on American soil.

What’s at the top of list for a place you’d like to return to?

I really want to go back to Chile and explore Tierra del Fuego. It’s at the very end of South America, and it looks amazing.

In a lot of your behind-the-scenes shots, it looks like surfers are headed right at you. Have you ever suffered any collisions?

Oh, yeah. I’ve been run over. I’ve had surfers hit me with their board. Cut my nose and other things. Those are the experiences that make it exciting. You’re very much at risk. And it makes it that much cooler, really, being able to be a part of the action. Being hidden in the midst of it myself.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Ever lost any gear?

I’ve lost quite a bit of gear. One time I was on a little boat, and we got hit by a wave. Basically my entire kit went overboard, and I lost about $30,000 worth of gear. Luckily, I had insurance for it.

Speaking of gear, what are your must-haves?

I have a lot of must-haves. It comes down to the fact that I think, man, if I don’t need to use this it’s not going to be much of an adventure!

A multitool is super important when it comes to being somewhere remote and interesting. Obviously having a good, reliable camera is crucial, and that’s personal preference. I like to travel really light and really small, so I use a lot of mirrorless cameras, like the Sonys. There’s usually a solar charger of some kind, whether for cell phone or camera. An ultralight, ultrasmall water-purification device that uses UV light. Energy bars. A light rain jacket is always crucial. A lightweight tripod is always in there. Filters. Almost always a pair of gloves.

If you don’t need a headlamp, it’s not even a place you want to go. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone out driving around, having a great time, then coming back for a couple hours to sleep until dark. That’s when, as a photographer, you know the best light is going to be, or when the stars are going to come out. Nine times out of 10 we’re hiking back in the dark with a headlamp on.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

It sounds like you have a survival kit with some camera gear versus a camera kit with some survival gear.

That’s really what it comes down to. I want to make sure that when I’m shooting photos that I’m able to relax, knowing that safety is taken care of. I occasionally have a small rope and carabiner just in case I need to lower down from somewhere. Usually the most unusual thing I have in there is a packet of gummy candy, because that’s one of my favorite things. It’s either a reward after the shoot because things have gone well, or I just got beat down by rain or no sun and I want to have something sweet.

Given the chaos you’re in for your shooting conditions, do you shoot manually?

Yeah, always. I love shooting manually. You really start to work with your camera, and it becomes second nature. I like to have complete control. I don’t want to have my camera trying to make decisions for me.

Do you have any rules when it comes to your overall process?

When I’m going somewhere new, I’m really careful not to research too many of the places I’m going to see because I don’t want to get some interpreted view of what these places should look like on a postcard. I want to be able leave my view and perspective unskewed so I can maintain ultimate creative freedom. That being said, I also want to make sure that I’m being educated on where I’m going, because the more unique the less you know. That’s a really important mantra to have at all times.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

If someone decided to pursue a similar path, what advice would you give them?

I personally would tell them that I don’t think school is going to teach you the type of skills you need to do what I do. A big part of this is experiencing things. Learn from a magazine setting or an editorial conference. Study a photographer you like and really understand the hustle it takes to do what they do. Understand what it’s like to be in those commercial and editorial situations where you’re trying to make it all work for a client.

I look back at the time I spent driving down to Oceanside every week to intern at Transworld Surf, and a summer I interned with a landscape photographer. That’s where I feel like I gained the biggest understanding of what photography was really like. I realized what it means to run your own business. And if you still want to do it after that, you should.

Any advice for capturing a great image?

There’s great moments happening everywhere, but for me there’s two main types. There’s the one that happens all of a sudden, which requires being there and being ready, and knowing your equipment inside and out. And the second is the one you’ve preconceived. Sometimes those are really special to me because you have this idea and you get to see it through.

Look for unique lighting situations. Go out in storms and go out at a time when no one else is. That’s when you’re going to capture something unique.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

And what about the best advice you’ve ever received?

My grandpa told me to kick ass and take names. I don’t know if that’s good advice or not.

I guess a personal mantra I try to follow is the more you know, the less you need. I’ve always been a big proponent of traveling with less and not being the person who has the biggest, most expensive camera. It’s not that I can’t afford it, I just like to experience moments personally as well as through my camera. If you walk away from any trip and it’s a complete blur because you were shooting the whole time, then you weren’t really experiencing it.

In the end, you should have all these cool stories to share with loved ones and family and friends. At least that’s how it is for me. I always try to be present in the moment and really experiencing it myself, too.

What do you find exciting about the photography industry today?

Now everyone is a photographer. People have cameras and video cameras in their phones. At any time I could have four or five cameras on me. It’s crazy.

What we’re seeing is the emergence of these smaller, lighter cameras being able to capture more real, intimate moments. And I think the idea of mobile photography and how it’s changed photography as a whole is really exciting.

I think we’re really seeing, too, a changing of the guard where a lot of established photographers have lost touch with the people who are interested in their work because they haven’t adapted to these new forms of social media or ways of promoting their work.

Photography as a whole is really moving toward those who are open to sharing. Nothing’s a secret anymore. If you try to keep secrets, people just aren’t going to embrace it. They want to find people who are sources of knowledge and are able to share that knowledge. That’s how I look at inspiration.

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Find Chris online:

Portfolio and Print Shop on SmugMug

Instagram

Facebook

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Subscribe to the SmugMug Films channel to watch and see future installments as soon as we set them free. If you enjoyed the film with Chris Burkard, you may like these artist profiles on underwater photographer Sarah Lee, YouTube superstar DevinSuperTramp, and lava chases Lava Light.

Refer-a-Friend: Your Friends Need You This Summer!

June 26, 2014 1 comment

A few months ago we re-launched our SmugMug referral program because we wanted to make it more rewarding for devoted SmugMuggers to share the unlimited photo and video hosting.

And it’s been a blast! Since then we’ve gotten a great response from all of you who’ve shared your referral links and made the world a safer place for photos. Thank you! And if you’re still not sure why SmugMug’s good for people, here’s a few tips from our clan to yours.

5 Possible Reasons Why Your Friends Need Their (Photo) Space

Remember, SmugMug’s Refer-a-Friend program gives you a unique link for you to share with friends. When they click it and open their own SmugMug account, they get 20% off their first year and YOU earn 20% towards your next renewal.

1) They’re about to take off on an insanely dangerous road trip through the Himalayas and will need somewhere to document every flat tire, every mountain pass, and every mug of chhaang they choked down.

2) They’re a budding concert photographer and it’s high festival season. One camera, 3 days, 40 bands (and zero showers). They’re suddenly going to have hundreds, probably thousands, of high-energy pics that need a home.

3) Your city just set up a giant, public slip ‘n slide and your friend almost broke their butt… on camera, of course. They’ve got to collect all the pics and videos and share them on Facebook, STAT!

4) They’ve finally decided to start major reno on the house, and need a really easy way to keep track of before, after, and while-we-had-no-kitchen-and-kept-the-microwave-in-the-bathroom phases.

5) Their kids are off to camp, sleepovers, amusement parks, and lots of other fun shenanigans with their BFFs. Where else can your friends keep those memories clearly organized so they’ll be proper blackmail for when the kids are grown?

And… Someone Won a GoPro!

We promised goodies to happy referrers and we’re proud to announce our first winner today. Congrats to Amy Wilson! We love her serene vignettes of animals, flowers, and local landscapes and hope that you check out a fellow SmugMugger’s site, too.

If you’ve just joined us or if you didn’t see our initial announcement, we’re choosing a random name from our pool of SmugMug referrers each month to win a GoPro Hero 3 camera. It’s perfect for capturing all kinds of great memories in the moment, so take a look at our contest page for all the details on how you can win yours, plus additional info on the Grand Prize trip to SmugMug HQ next year.

Happy sharing, and keep on capturing those memories!

One of many fun times captured with GoPro. This could be you!
Photo credit: Nick W Photo

 

How to Photograph Lava Without HDR or Photoshop

May 28, 2014 4 comments

CJ Kale and Nick Selway long ago fell in love with Hawaii and founded Lava Light, a photography gallery focused on capturing the ever-changing landscape created by an active volcano and crashing waves—and sometimes both together when the conditions are just right.

And if swimming with fire and dodging lava bombs weren’t challenging enough, these photographers believe in creating their images completely in camera. Balancing exposures between sky, water, and lava can be incredibly tricky.

Luckily, Lava Light has shared some tips to help you get the shot without combining exposures or using HDR.

Photo Tip #1

To capture lava and stars together, put a neutral-density (ND) gradient filter on your lens upside down to balance the extreme exposures between the lava and stars.

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #2

When photographing lava in the daytime, use the ND grad right side up to balance the light from the sunrise, because the sun will eventually be brighter than the lava is.

Volcano images Kilauea Hawaii

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #3

For front-lit scenes, a hard ND grad balances light from a bright sky and a dark foreground, allowing you to darken the sky and deepen colors. For example, in this shot I used a polarizer to intensify the rainbow, but it left the sky a fraction too bright. So I added a 1-stop hard ND grad across the entire sky to darken it and get its depth and color to match with the lava and everything that’s front lit below.

Volcano images Kilauea Hawaii

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #4

To capture the little curvature of a wave, a shutter speed around 1/3 of a second is usually enough to get a little light blur to the water but keep that shape in the wave.

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #5

If you’re trying to capture a really misty feel, where the water almost looks like fog, use a 2- to 3-second exposure.

kona_sunset

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #6

Since we capture everything in camera, sometimes we have to compromise on exposures and accept some clipping of highlights or shadows. So maybe a rock by the lava won’t have any detail in the shadows because I want to capture the detail in the lava instead, and I prioritize my exposure for the lava.

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: Nick Selway/Lava Light Galleries

 

Photo Tip #7

Prepare the right gear for the day. My normal, hike-out-to-the-volcano kit includes a Nikon D800e, Canon 5dMkIII, 16–35 L lens for Canon, 14–24 for Nikon, a 50mm and an 85mm prime, and a 50–500 Sigma telephoto. Because sometimes you want a wide-angle shot, like the rainbow and lava, and others you want to zoom in on the drip, which requires a telephoto.

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

Photo Credit: CJ Kale/Lava Light Galleries

 

Want more?

Check out the SmugMug Films artist profile of Lava Light below. Thanks for the tips, Nick and CJ!

Find Lava Light online:

The Juggling Act: Time Management Tips for Busy Photography Moms

To celebrate moms, we took time to chat with a couple of our favorite photographers, Natalie Licini of Je Revele Fine Art Photography and Chrysta Rae of Chrysta Rae Photography, about how they juggle successful photography businesses with raising their family. They’ve shared a little insight into how to get the kids to the dentist and  invoices in the mail, all while keeping their clients happy. Like all moms, keeping all those balls in the air is a struggle. But one that is rewarded with the best of both worlds – time with their children and paying the bills doing a job they love.

Today we’ll see their top five tips for getting everything done like a pro. 

Photo by Chrysta Rae

1) Make – and Stick to – a Strict Schedule

One of the biggest advantages to being your own boss is setting your own schedule. But that doesn’t mean that work has to slide into family time and vice versa. Find a balance between the responsibilities of your business and your children no matter how tough it is, especially when your office is at home and you’re truly never far from work.

Natalie Licini:

I try to work Monday through Thursday and keep weekends free. Each day I wake about 8am, spend time with my children, check email, drink coffee, and then drive to our New Jersey office by 10am. We have two photo shoots per day on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday with Tuesdays reserved for client viewings (sales appointments), usually late in the day to accommodate working clients. Fridays I reserve for accounting at home. Every day I handle client inquiries and questions and head home about 5pm. Every other Saturday is date night with my hubby and every single Sunday we have dinner with my parents, brothers, aunt, and cousins. It’s my favorite day of the week. We just relax, talk about life, and enjoy the company.

Chrysta Rae:

I drop the kids off at school, then I’m off shooting. I can book 1 to 6 shoots a day (once I did 9, but I almost died). While I’m out, I have to find multiple addresses and deal with realtors, homeowners, builders, and managers on location. I help stage, clean houses, make small talk, shoot, and then I scoot to my next booking. I pick up my kids and take them to hockey, or go grocery shopping, or pick up their friends, etc. Both my kids love it and thrive in hockey. And in my schedule, hockey is non-negotiable. They are members of a team, and that has huge value. Nothing interferes with that. And as much as I can, I’m at each practice and every game cheering them on.

Photo by Chrysta Rae

2) Stay In Focus, No Matter Where You Are

Focus on the job at hand. Be present in the moment, and with the people you’re with at that time. Give all your attention to your clients when you’re working with them, and to your family when it’s their time for your attention.

Chrysta Rae:

My main focus is always my boys. Their needs come first. Work is always there, so I just make sure when I’m with my kids, they know they’re my priority. I’m lucky they understand how hard I work, and that I’m doing it to better our lives. And when I’m at work, I build a true bond with all my clients. Simple things like not bringing my phone into a client’s home—it’s easy, but important. They know they’re the only focus I have while I’m with them. I ask questions and talk about my personal life; my clients truly know me and, in the end, they know they’ll get my best effort AND that I truly care about them.

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

Whether it’s help with the kids and the house, or with the non-photography tasks of your business, know when to hire an extra set of hands or two. Relinquishing control can be hard, but you’ll save that much more energy to focus on the things only you can do.

Natalie Licini:

We have an au pair who lives with us. She helps with the children during the day while I’m at the office, feeding, dressing, playing with the kids, and getting them to and from school. In New York City having an au pair is more economical than day care, which costs 35-50% more. My team helps with editing, printing, writing, and preparing our clients’ orders for pickup. I’ve hired additional staff to write for Je Revele, and we have an in-house editor.

4) Love What You Do

We hear from photographers all day, every day, that they love their jobs. Keeping your heart in line with your hands is the best way to guarantee success, and that you’ll wake up every morning excited about the days ahead.

Chrysta Rae:

The biggest perk of doing photography for a living and raising my boys is they SEE daily that if you love something, you can find a way to make a living doing it. Work should be something that gets you out of bed in the morning, not something you press the snooze button on while dreading the day ahead of you. The bottom line is I do what I love and have found a way to make money doing it, and I also have balance with my family. Being a mom is the most important job in the world, and the most rewarding. I truly think I’m giving them a very big life lesson in finding their passion and empowering them. With enough persistence and passion, anything’s possible—it’s there for them to grab.

Natalie Licini:

If you love what you do, and can pour your heart and soul into growing your business, do it! Don’t let fear hold you back. I’ve had photography mentors over the years who’ve really helped me grow and establish my business. Attend workshops with some of the masters in our industry and you’ll find your skill level improve dramatically.

Photo by Chrysta Rae

5) If  You’re Just Starting  Out

Making the leap to start your own photography business can be the most exciting step of your life, especially if you’re coming away from being a full-time parent, or a more traditional job. Here are two final tips to keep in mind if you’re looking to go pro.

Chrysta Rae:

Set a timeframe. I gave myself one year: if I could pay my bills and still afford a few luxuries at the end of it, I would continue. It started up quite quickly for me; I posted on Facebook that I’d offer $50 photography sessions for families while I was still in school. It was truly just to give me things to shoot and learn “in the field.” From that one post I did hundreds of portrait sessions and, after I graduated, I was confident enough to even shoot weddings.

Natalie Licini:

Network! I suggest networking with your community, business owners, moms, and dads. Always gently mention you’re a photographer and be prepared to hand them a brochure of your work. I have little accordion brochures in my purse that I give out by the dozen, thanks to a suggestion I heard on creativeLive from Sue Bryce. Rather than having someone lose my business card, I give them a brochure so they can see my work immediately. It makes a good impression that helps them make a call to book a session with me.

Do you have your own secrets to running a tight family ship? We’d love to hear them! Add your comments at the end of this article.


About Chrysta: 

My name is Chrysta Rae. I’m a professional interior/real estate photographer working full time in the Edmonton, Alberta area. I have 2 amazing children, Tyson (he’s 11) and Grayden (he’s 10). The boys are in grades 5 and 4, and both play in high level hockey all winter, and both play spring hockey as well. My kids are exceptional people. They’re funny, kind, thoughtful, dorky, and loveable. I love being their Mom.

My family was first. I started photography professionally when my youngest went into grade 1. I have always been a very self-empowered business person. I previously owned a closed captioning business that ended when my youngest son was about 2. With the recession and new technology, the business just slowly died. I was a stay-at-home Mom until both kids were in school… then I needed to fill my days back up again! I had always loved photography and decided to focus my attention on it on a “professional” level. I enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography and devoured everything I could to learn every single thing I could about every aspect of it.

About Natalie: 

I was born and raised in New York City. I reside there with my husband and 3 children. We have 2 girls ages 5 and 4 and our son is 11 months old and already walking. Yay! My daughters are in dance, piano and have singing lessons. It’s busier than it sounds, but we have a manageable schedule.

I opened my business 6 months after my first child was born in 2008. I started photographing clients using backdrops in my basement in 2008. In 2011, I left my full time job and moved to my first studio. Then in 2012, I rebranded and opened our flagship studio in a historic New Jersey Castle.

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