Dec 31, 2010

January 2011 Cover


Feature :: Creating Confidence

Creating Confidence
by Melissa Jacks

There are so many things I like about being a photographer. I like camera equipment. I’d rather have a new lens than diamonds…any day. I also like using a camera. I like being able to adjust the settings and change the lenses to create the exact image I want. I like being around people and interacting with them. I like post-processing. I like all of those things a whole lot. But what I love about photography is the way it makes people feel.

I love that moment during a shoot when I show someone a photo of themselves on the little LCD screen and they say, “I look so pretty!” and I watch them relax and blossom right before my eyes. I love when I am with a client and they are viewing their images for the first time and I get the exact same reaction. Those two moments are priceless to me. As a photographer I know that the only way to achieve those moments is to have a relaxed and confident client. I know that if they are feeling uncomfortable and awkward, they will look uncomfortable and awkward. If they feel relaxed and confident then that will be reflected in their images.

If you are like me, and I know most photographers are, I am a million times more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. I know I feel insecure and worry about how “un-photogenic” I am. I think most of us struggle with the same insecurities, and that is what I try to keep in mind when I am with a client. There are many things you can do to ensure that your client is able to relax and feel good about themselves. I know that every client is different but here are a few things that work for me.

See the beauty in everyone.

I truly believe everyone is beautiful. Maybe it is their hair. Or their freckles. Or their smile. Or maybe their amazing personality. Everyone has something. Find it and make it shine.

Know your client.

Send them a questionnaire ahead of time. Meet for lunch. Chat on the phone. Know what they love about themselves, and also what they don’t like. Know what kind of images they are hoping for.

Be prepared.

Know the location. Make sure your equipment is organized. Have your paperwork organized. Bring extra items your client might need- a mirror, water, hairspray, etc.

Keep talking.

Silence is awkward in most situations. Have some funny stories ready or topics that you know your client is interested in. Laugh and joke…anything that takes the spotlight off of the client and the camera you have pointed in their face.

Tell them what you love about them.

Compliment them but be genuine in your praise. Show them a shot or two as the session progresses. This one thing does more than just about anything else you can do or say.

Be yourself.
If you are relaxed and confident, they will be too.

I know how I feel when I see a picture of myself and actually like it. My self confidence skyrockets. I absolutely love that I can do that for someone else. Remember the power you have as a photographer. You aren’t just creating beautiful images- you are making someone feel confident and beautiful, inside and out.

Melissa Jacks
Melissa Jacks Photography

6 Best Wordpress Plugins for Photographers

NextGen Gallery: I use this for my portfolio. What sets this gallery plugin apart is the simple and easy to use administration. It can easily handle multiple galleries. I tag my photos by location and set up a location page to easily show my clients location possibilities. No need to have to add photos to specific galleries. Once I tag them, they automatically go into the specified gallery. Easily create galleries by tag; newborns, kids, families, etc. You can view my example here:

Screen shot of NextGen:

WP-CopyRightPro: As everyone knows, if someone wants to steal your images, they will find a way to steal them. However, this plugin is definitely a deterrent. It will prevent right clicking, as well as image drag and drop. It even protects against selecting text. Screen shot below:

Akismet: This plugin is one of my favorites and most used. It takes the pain out of managing comment spam. One of the wonderful things about Akismet is that it learns from its mistakes, so that eventually it can not only greatly reduce comment spam, but completely eliminate it. No more moderating comment spam. Akismet filters it for you and you can delete spam in one click at your convenience.

WPtouch: A great little plugin that creates a simple mobile theme for your blog. Automatically transforms your blog into iPhone application style theme - for use with pretty much any mobile device, iPhone, iTouch, iPad, BlackBerry, Palm, Android, etc.

Headspace: Takes care of all the Search Engine Optimization so that you can focus on providing great content. I like this better than All in One SEO pack.

WP Super Cache: Makes your blog load very fast. Also uses much less CPU processing.

Thank Me Later: I haven't actually installed this yet, but I think it's a great idea. Thank Me Later will automatically send an e-mail to anyone who leaves a comment on your blog. You can use this to say "thanks" to your visitors, encourage them to sign up to your newsletter or RSS feed, etc.

Recent Session :: Allyson Kaye Photography

Meet Ashley! She is a Senior at Palo Verde High School. This session was so much fun! It reminded me how much I love taking pictures.

I had the opportunity of starting my business about 3 years ago. At first, I started just for fun and soon realized I could turn something I love into a full time business. So, that is exactly what I did. This last year has kept me extremely busy. I felt blessed to be getting so much business, but, at the same time, I almost forgot my love of photography. This session however, reminded me how much I love what I do, and why I do it.

After the shoot, I found myself wanting to drive home as fast as I could to download them and start processing them immediately. I stayed up late that night eating Oreo cookies (with milk of coarse) and finished the entire session. I use to do that when I first started my business. So, with all said, that is why I LOVE these pictures. They brought back my giddy school girl crush like feelings for photography!

I used a canon 40D with a 24-70mm f/2.8L. This session was was all done in natural light.

-Allyson Wall
Allyson is an on location photographer serving Las Vegas and Salt Lake areas.

Nov 30, 2010

December 2010 Cover


Feature :: And, Don't Forget the Joy

by: Brooke Weidauer

Six years ago my college professor asked me a question that became my ah-ha moment. “What do you really want to do with your life, whether it be in the field of social work or not”. My reply, “I am not sure exactly what I want to do but I know this, I want to create.” Four years passed before stumbling upon photography and like many who are JSO (just starting out), I was obsessed. I think this obsession extended far beyond what’s considered healthy. I stayed up researching, googling, and critiquing my images late into the next morning. Does this sound dramatic? Because it was. It was intense. But, the world of photography brought me joy. When I began photographing clients this happiness intensified. I relished in creating a beautiful image, relished in seeing the client’s joy when they visually comprehended how deeply their family loved each other. I found joy when clients saw how beautiful they themselves truly were and I’m not talking about physical beauty alone. This brought me joy.

And then sadly this joy gradually molded into work. All work with just a pinch of joy. At times I literally prayed for rain to postpone a session or threw my camera in time-out, promising to not pick it up, ever. I had lost the joy and I knew it. I was going to go find it. I began by doing some soul-searching. I knew I was a perfectionist to my detriment. This was a good starting point. I continued to mentally note all of the things that were taking away from this joy and then I did something about it.

Here are a few things I learned along the way, beginning with my obsession with perfection.

Do not strive for other’s perception of perfection:

Pretty catchy title, eh? What is perfection anyway? It’s an insatiable concept. If we continually reach for “perfection” in our photography we will be left unsatisfied. Why’s that you ask? Because perfection is in the eye of it’s beholder, which is you of course. I believe with art, perfection is how we interpret it. Imperfections often translate as perfection. Understandably we hope others will appreciate our work but we ought to first love, nah, embrace our own work even if it’s not considered perfect by others.

Shoot just for fun and invite some friends:

When I am in a funk, a rut or simply losing the joy, I shoot for fun. I shoot for me. Whenever I photograph who, what, and where I want, I return home rejuvenated. Arrange a shoot where you are in control, where you choose the models and the props and invite some photographer friends. I promise you will feel refreshed and anew.

Don’t get too down on yourself:

I like to compare photography to a roller coaster ride. We need to expect that with the highs, we will experience lows. We can’t be too hard on ourselves; photography is a journey. Learning takes time and mistakes are our biggest ally. And after all, don’t most of us love roller coasters?

Continue to learn and try new things:

If you notice your joy in photography slipping, it may be a matter of boredom. Try OCF (off-camera flash), experiment with compositions, black and white conversions, or attend a workshop, anything to challenge and educate yourself.

Don’t neglect what matters most:

Meaning our relationships. Hours quickly pass while sitting at the computer. Discipline yourself to work x amount of hours a day and dedicate the remaining hours to your loved ones. Some may not have the luxury of limiting sessions but for those of you who can and who feel they are neglecting their relationships, do it.

Take the time to enjoy your work:

Often times we are either too busy or we simply forget to appreciate our work. Choose a time to sit back in your computer chair, rest your hands behind your head, pull up your past work and enjoy.

Remember why you started:

Like I said, for me it was about creating a beautiful image and also basking in the subject’s own joy. Think of why you became a photographer and then remind yourself of those reasons when you feel you’ve lost hold of the joy.

And now my friends if you are ready to throw in the towel, if you’re praying for rain, and your camera is sitting in time out then maybe it’s a good time to make your own mental notes and rediscover your joy.

Brooke Weidauer
Brooke Ashley Photography

Conquering Conformity and Comparison as a Photographer

by: Jessica Strom

So here I am, going into the third year of my ever-changing career as a child and family photographer and excited because 2011 will my first year with my photography being my full time focus. I've redone my blog every year, found a logo last year that stuck, and only just now, almost 3 years later, finally figured out my niche. What I love, what I don't love, what I want to say, how I want to say it and who I want to say it to. But the road to get here wasn't easy, no it was a long road full of lots of ups and downs and I learned a lot along the way. I am not setting out to be a famous photographer that people ooh and awe over like a bunch of star struck teeny boppers. I am setting out to be the best ME I can be and truly help families capture those sweet tender moments that so quickly pass us by.

Here's a little about me. Up until now, I worked full time during the week at a desk job to get my husband and I through the years he's spending getting his education. I live and breathe photography and only just now have gotten to a point where I can focus on it as my primary career. I have been in love with it since I was small and so it's been a natural flow for me to discover this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. When I first made the decision that this was what I wanted, I fell victim to the Curse of Comparison. I spent hours after hours looking at the works of many different photographers. Many I admired, some more than others, and there were some I wondered to myself how they could even call themselves photographers. I asked myself time and time again "What am I going to bring to the table that defines who I am?". I practiced and practiced and would look at the photos I was producing compared to the photos I'd see online and tell myself that I wasn't very good. And I believed everything my head was telling me and ignored what my heart knew to be true. I kept on and kept on. I saw the changes in my work as I moved along and grew. Tried to do what I could without spending too much money, but in the end, you always spend some serious cash. There's so many people out there telling you that they have what you need to be better and charge you an arm and a leg for it. If you're wise, you can tell what the good TOOLS are but you know that the only thing that is ever going to make you better is YOU.

As you continue to grow and ever-evolve, trying new things, learning what works for you and what doesn't, it's a natural thing to still compare yourself with other photographers. Some people get high on themselves, some get depressed thinking they will never be like so and so. But I'm telling you, just do your thing. Learn and appreciate what you have in front of you and grow on that. I purposefully avoid many of the most popular photographers' websites and blogs because it's turned into more of a popularity issue. Yes, those top photographers produce excellent photographs. But so do you. And so do I. And remember that they only ever show their best images online, so while you see photos you’ve taken that you’re not happy with, they see theirs too and might be wondering the same thing about themselves. And there's no sense getting down over your own work because you don't have 20,000 "fans" on your Facebook page.

The other curse that strikes photographers new to the industry is the Curse of Conformity. This one just kills me. They see what the popular photographers are producing and just copy the exact same concept in their own work. If it works for them, why not for you? Or the photographers who 'specialize' in everything. Specialize in maternity, newborn, weddings, children, seniors, pets, boudoir, etc, etc, etc. Don't specialize in everything! Pick what you're passionate about and specialize in that, dabble in the rest just to mix it up! For instance, take myself. I am gearing my entire business model and plans towards specializing in the time period of pre-birth to Kindergarten and involvement with promoting adoption stories. I dabble in couples, weddings, and the only pet photography I do is of my own dog. I tried boudoir photography and didn’t like it. I don't offer senior photography and my newborn sessions are lifestyle sessions instead of the cutesy portraits. That's just me. I have no problem recommending a fellow photographer who can meet needs I can't. I'm real. I'm not going to meet every person's individual need, but I will meet the ones I can and meet them as uniquely as I can. No cookie cutter photography from me and that's why people hire me.

In a nutshell:

Avoiding Conformity:

- Just because you see a growing trend doesn't mean you have to hop on the band wagon. If you like it and want to do something similar, do it because you love it so very much and please please put your own style into it. Imitation is NOT the greatest form of flattery. You can be inspired by someone or some other photographers but don't straight up copy another's ideas and props. Mix it up and let yourself shine through.

- It's all been done before, but there's never been a YOU before. Think of ideas that just get you excited and shoot them, don't constantly be looking for someone who has done the same thing you want to do and wonder how they did it. You'll surprise yourself with how going with your natural talent might get people wondering the same thing about you.

- Try and try again. Do and do more! Never stop learning and write down your ideas, your inspirations and how you can make something your own.

Avoiding Comparison:

- It's not fair to yourself to compare your work to that of someone who has been in this industry for a long time. All it does is make you feel less about yourself when your raw natural talent is great! Trust me, they've all been where you are right now and who knows, possibly still are. You know that old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Just as the paintbrush doesn't make a masterpiece, neither does a camera make that perfect portrait. It's the time, talent, and viewpoint of whose hands it is in.

- Avoid Craigslist. Two things could happen here. You could get a false impression of how to monetarily value your work and talent because most photographers who list on Craigslist (and I mean no offense) aren't photographers who have truly branded themselves and their art, a lot are hobbyists or some just getting started and needing to build their portfolio. The other thing that could happen is you could see the work of someone who you might consider to be less than professional advertising themselves as professional and get a little judgmental. We've all done it, it’s no secret. But that creates a stream of unhealthy attitude from you and puts down someone who could be in your very same shoes, just trying to get their name out there. But you will find that there are a lot of ways to get your name out there that does not involve the free classifieds ads. Word of mouth is the best way to go.

- Remember that you can hear the same story many many times but every time someone else tells it, it's a little different. Photographs have different perspectives and Photographers have different visions and voices.

What's yours? Who are you and what do you want your work to say to your clients? Don't conform or compare to, break the mold, create some beautiful photographs and chase your dreams. You’ll be surprised where your heart can take you!

By Jessica Strom

Jessica Strom is a portrait and lifestyle photographer based out of Overland Park, Kansas in the greater Kansas City metro area.



Are you Undercutting the Market?

by : Amy Leavitt

The past several years have brought a large number of amateur photographers to the photography market. SLRs are more reasonably priced, and the popularity of photography has grown. Many amateur photographers don't fully understand what they're getting into when they start their own business.

Which is why many of them are undercutting the market. Let me tell you upfront, I'm one that believes undercutting hurts the photographer more than it hurts the industry.

So ask yourself -

Have you researched your market? Do you know what other photographers in your area are charging? Are you low balling them to get more clients?

If so, you may lose your business. Or you may want to quit because you can never keep up with the workload, never get a day off, never stop thinking about work. You can only stay cheap for so long before a change must be made. If you're shooting and burning portraits for $100 and in a year you're drowning, so you raise your prices, do you think those clients are going to pay $500 for the same thing? Of course not. They will find another $100 cheap photographer. It's do-able, but very difficult since you'll be starting over with a new client base.

Let's get real: Undercutting cheats both the photographer and the client, and doesn't help the industry either.

So what do I say to those who are just starting out who feel they have developed their skills, but don't have enough experience to charge clients? Simple. Do a cost of goods sold. Research your market to see what others are charging. Put away all your negative thoughts and really set a VALUE on your work. Do you value your work? Because if you don't why would a client? Once you set a price, offer an opening promotion. Call it a "portfolio building" special. It can be 20% off the session fee, 50%, whatever. But your price will be set from the start. Everyone you come in contact with will know and you won't have to make changes later. Once you feel you're experienced enough, end the promotion and go on your way.

I know because I did it. Last year I was "that" photographer. I was super busy and I could never catch up and I thought it was because I was just such a good photographer and everyone loved my work. In time, I knew I could never keep up that workload. Shooting sessions just wasn't fun anymore. My passion was dwindling and I knew I had to make a change. I did my research and raised my prices and held my breath.

And no one called.

I had no bookings for two months. But I waited. Then the inquiries started to come in and I started to have the clients I've always wanted to have. Clients who believed in the power of photography. Clients who loved my style and were willing to pay for it. Clients who valued my work because they loved it and because I valued it. These are the clients who keep coming back. I have fewer, but better clients and my income has increased this year. And I have a workload that I can keep up with.

There's always room for the cheap photographers, as soon as one quits from overload, another is there to fill the spot. So maybe the issue isn't about if you're cheating the photography market, it's about if you're cheating yourself.

Nov 29, 2010

November 2010 Cover


Cover by Camilla Binks ::

Nov 24, 2010

Thanks Giving Give-Away by The Maternal Lens!!!

Hey fellow photogs!  I just ran across this amazing give-away by The Maternal Lens and thought you'd like to check it out yourself!  Ah-mazing prizes.  :)  Go here for all the juicy details...and good luck to you!

Nov 19, 2010

My Beauty Campaign

By Mandi Nuttall

For more information regarding Mandi's Beauty Campaign kits please go here.


Nov 1, 2010

5 Ways To Stand Out As A Photographer

There I was. Sitting at my computer staring at every wedding photographer's website that I could find. It was 2006 and I was a teller at a check cashing store. I worked at a slower paced store so I would use my down time to sit and stare at all of these beautiful wedding pictures. I began to realize that I was a bit obsessed with weddings and beautiful photography and started to think, if I like this so much then why am I not pursuing this? I've always believed, partially thanks to Oprah, that this world would be a better place if we all were brave enough to go out there and do the things that we love for a living, not just the things that we think will bring us the most money or prestige. So I decided to be brave and sat my husband down to tell him how I was going to spend a big chunk of our hard earned savings to buy a new camera and a couple of lenses. He was supportive so I bought a camera, two lenses and started studying and by studying I mean some serious serious studying. I read pretty much every article the world wide web had to offer. I read my camera's manual from cover to cover multiple times and THEN I started shooting. I practiced and then practiced some more. I mean seriously, there was some relentless studying and practicing going on, but I knew that I had a unique eye and could not give up on this no matter how hard it was. So I pushed on and after a while I realized that I didn't have to think about camera settings or what power level to set my flash to. I just did it. It was second nature. This is when I knew I was ready.

So, how did I start to stand out from every other person out there with an SLR that thinks they are a photographer?

1-I learned to shoot in manual. Not just how to shoot in manual, but I knew every little detail about my camera and my lenses. I knew when I wanted to use my 24-70mm and when I wanted to use my 200mm, and it wasn't just because I wanted to stand closer or farther away. Changing a lens can change so much in an image. I could stand back, look at my client and the background and know exactly what the finished product would look like with each different lens before I ever took the shot. I learned what every single button on my camera did and could change every setting without looking at my camera. I could guess what my settings should be and be pretty close to dead on every time without having to adjust. This is so important! It seems like everyone has an SLR in this day and age, but most people think that they are going to take amazing images just because their camera was expensive. They aren't willing to take the time to learn everything about their cameras.

2- I found my niche and stuck with it. How often do we visit a photographers site and see something similar to this: "Specializing in weddings, families, seniors, pet, commercial and sport photography". How can you possibly specialize in all of these things? I realized that although I love children and can photograph them well, I just can't photograph them as well as I do adults, nor do I like to. I would rather photograph weddings and stylized portrait sessions...period. These are the things that make me the most happy and that I can do the very best. So, although I am good at shooting families and children, I no longer offer those services. I would say, if you are just starting out and absolutely need the money then okay, take any job that comes your way, BUT don't post those pictures on your blog or advertise them in any way otherwise you'll never have people hire you for the types of shoots that you actually want, meaning you won't be as happy or as successful as you could be. Only let people see what you want them to eventually hire you to do. Period.

3- I branded. I have always known that my style of photography is passionate, sexy, dark and moody, however, my first website was vibrant and sassy. Mistake. I course corrected as quickly as I could and created a new site and blog that matched my personality as well as the personality of my images. My site is now black and leather textured. It's moody and sexy just the way I like it. And I continue that trend with everything I put my name on. My business cards, stationary, even CD cases are all uniformly branded. This has made a huge difference for me.

4- I use Facebook and Twitter to promote my business. I know a lot of photographers that do not have fan pages or even link to their site on their facebook accounts. Why? Facebook is free advertising and I can honestly say that atleast 50% of my business comes from Facebook in one way or another. I enable my clients images to be viewable by all of their friends with their permission. Their friends comment, which makes my clients super happy and sure that they hired the right photographer, and it shows all of their friends the kinds of images that they can get if they hire me. Facebook is HUGE! Make sure that you are using it to it's full potential.

5- I shoot for myself. This ties back with finding your niche. I personally love stylized shoots so I make sure that at least once a quarter, if not more, I style a shoot the way that I want to, get a model and shoot for fun. Not only does it keep my creative juices flowing but it shows my clients what I am capable of. A lot of times clients don't know what they want until they see it. They will see what you love and begin to ask for it. I can honestly say that by doing these 5 things my business has taken flight. I couldn't be happier!


Oct 30, 2010

9 Photographers Share Their Stories

by Amy Leavitt

"Tilt your head just a little....perfect.  Turn your body to the right....great, right there."

[Photo by Yasmin Tajik]

"It's hard to be in front of the camera and have someone tell you what to do, and it feels awkward and uncomfortable. This experience has taught me how difficult it is to be posed rather than be the one posing, to be more accepting of myself, and to learn to relax and let go. I've never had a professional photo shoot of just me, ever. I am much more comfortable behind the camera.

We all have our hang ups about ourselves. When I see a photo of me, the first thing I do is look for something to hate about it. There's usually plenty to choose from. I have to learn to look for the good things, and accept myself for who I am. I've come to the conclusion that the best photos – the ones that truly show the character and personality of the subject – are photos that show happiness. Happiness, not beauty. Some of the best photos from the shoot show me laughing at one of the other photographers – a natural, unforced smile. This has reinforced my photography philosophy: Happy people are the most beautiful people, and beauty has nothing to do with how a person looks."

[Photo by Cindy Larkin]

By Cindy Larkin

[Photo by Amy Leavitt]

"When I read Mandi Nuttall's story about how she got involved with her Beauty Campaign, I cried because I empathized with how she felt about herself. I don't know what it is about women, but we sometimes have a hard time seeing our own beauty. However, when I saw Mandi's photographs and I knew I wanted to do this too.

The first thing I did was facebook my closest photographer friends to tell them about it, and see if they wanted to do this challenge with me. They were all excited except for one little me, they were nervous to be in front of the camera instead of behind the camera. After we got our schedules aligned (which seemed to be a task all by itself), we decided to meet on the Las Vegas Strip for our Photographers Shoot-out. I've got to tell you, I was nervous! Not only was I going to be photographed in front of hundreds of people, but I also had the challenge of photographing some of the best and most beautiful photographers I knew. What if my camera malfunctioned? What if I screwed up their images? What if I was a complete dork and my pictures turned out terrible? These were only a few of a hundred concerns racing through my head as we drove to our location. After we introduced ourselves to each other (some of us had only met on facebook), the tension started to disappear. After a couple of shots, I realized that we were all in it together, and I began to loosen up. We had a great time! It was fun and I loved being together with other creative women! Here are a few of the things I learned:

1. It's okay to be assertive in giving directions on how to pose and what to do. In the past I've been somewhat timid to tell my clients what to do, how to stand, how to smile, etc. But now I realize that they need me to tell them these things. Generally people are a bit nervous and don't feel confident on how to pose, and they can't see what I see behind the camera. They want and need my expertise to create a fabulous photo!

2. Sometimes the photographer and the client have different ideas about what is beautiful. When I was looking at photographs of myself, it was really hard not to see my own flaws. The picture may have been technically perfect in every way, but if there was something about my face that I didn't really like, I ended up not liking the picture at all. In the past I've taken it personal when a client didn't particularly like a photo of themselves. After my experience, I've realized that it may not be anything I did as a photographer that made them dislike the photo. It could just be an insecurity they have about themselves.

3. It's okay to photoshop a little. Removing blemishes or liquifying a pudgy spot is AWESOME!!! We have these tools for a reason and it's okay to use them! As long as we're not destroying the integrity of the photograph or changing a persons over-all appearance, most people will welcome the removal of a scar, a zit, or a slight enhancement.

4. It's amazing the difference between my photographs when I loosened up and just went with the flow, and the ones where I was uptight and nervous. When I can help my clients feel comfortable (in front of me and in front of the camera), I am able to find their true inner beauty and capture an image that they will absolutely love!"

[Photo by Jennie Slade]

By Nicholette Adams

"When I first heard of Beauty sessions from Nuttall Photography I knew I wanted one. I am not one to be in front of the camera but for some reason this really intrigued me. I never thought of having beautiful photos of myself. I don't consider myself "photogenic". But I knew that Mandi had the talent to make it so. What I didn't realize at the time was that it wasn't Mandi who would make the photo beautiful, I already was. She just knew how to bring my beauty into focus. As a photographer I tend to keep a list of things I focus on while shooting: background objects, lighting, posing, etc. so it was wonderful to just relax and be told how beautiful I am. I will always cherish my experience and the knowledge it brought me to realize my own beauty."


[Photo by Shannon Heryet]

"So after reading the girlfriend & I decided we should go out on a photoshoot with each other! It's always eye opening to be on the other end of the lens...

I really think as photographers it's important to do this every once in makes you much more aware of how your clients are feeling, and how easy it is to just say "act natural"...ummm...yeah right!

I totally wanted her to tell me what to do with my hands, how to stand, make sure I didn't look too fat - the list of requests from me was high! I'm so glad we did it though...we got some super great shots of each other, and had a total blast just spending the day together being able to talk about fstops, focal points, and all the other good stuff that we don't get to share with just anyone!

Thanks for the great challenge,and huge thanks to my friend Shannon Heryet for getting some photos of me that I don't hate!!!"


By Yesenia Emeric

[Photo by Brittany Busk]

"We met up at Calico Basin in the Red Rock Canyon area here in Las Vegas. This is such nice spot for us Vegas photographers right now because it's looking like fall there and when you're from the desert, you don't get too much of that autumn color loveliness! It was nice to get together with other female photographers, particularly photographer moms because it helps me see I'm not alone in my crazy mom/photographer juggling act!

Being in front of the camera is always so difficult for me, I get stiff and awkward...I'm so happy my clients are so much better at it than me! It was nice that we were taking turns being in front of and behind the camera. It kept it fun and bearable because we knew that soon it would be our turn to shoot! When it was my turn to be photographed, I'm glad they were so great at giving direction and giving me different ways to pose and adjust myself. I never felt lost or like I didn't know what to do. They were also very patient with me and the silly faces I tend to make when I get nervous in front of the camera. I loved photographing these two beautiful female photographers. They let me do my thing and were great sports. I think we all had the same nervous feeling of being in front of the camera, but we were all willing to let go and try something out of our comfort zone."


By Stacy Nish

"Having modeled for 7 years, being in front of the camera wasn't new to me, however, being in front of the camera with Mandi, for a beauty session, was unlike any of the experiences I was used to. This session was all about me. I wasn't modeling the latest fashions, or promoting a new designer, I was exposing myself in way I never really had before. It was a vulnerable, humbling and completely powerful experience. Mandi really knew how to bring out the real beauty I saw in myself. She made me feel strong, confident, and beautiful on the inside and out and, as a photographer myself, it was extremely inspiring to me to not only work with such a talented photographer, but to be able to relate with her on that level. I was able to see myself the way I see so many of my clients. It was a session that I felt truly exposed who I am as an individual, not just another shoot to look pretty for. It was refreshing to be in front of the camera without any of the pressure that came with modeling, and to let someone else take the reigns for a change. Mandi made me feel comfortable, she was fun and it was like she already knew me even though it was the first time we'd met. I feel every woman should have an opportunity to experience a photography session like this and hope to be able to implement what I learned from this experience into the photo shoots with my clients."


By Yasmin Tajik

[Photo by Cindy Larkin]

"Recently I connected with a few other female photographers here in Las Vegas. We set up a time and date, and decided the best models for the day would be each other! Since we're usually the ones behind the camera, it was about time we each stepped in front of the camera and let others work their magic on us.

I have to admit, I get nervous when being photographed. I feel awkward, unsure, self-concious and fat. And before anyone tries to convince me otherwise, I can completely identify with my clients that it's not always the most comfortable situation. Often times what feels comfortable is slouching, and unflattering, so I always tell my clients that if it feels weird, it probably looks good for the camera. Trust me ladies and gentlemen, I know what you're feeling and going through when you're in front of my camera. Thanks ladies. for a fun evening!"


By Britney Barker

[Photo by Mandi Nuttall]
"I was excited to be in front of the camera. I knew Mandi's pictures would be gorgeous and I was excited to surprise my husband with them because I didn't tell him what I was up to. I admit, when the photoshoot day drew closer I started to panic. I'm usually the one taking the pictures so I started to worry how it would be on the other side of the camera. I didn't know how to do any model poses and I was worried I would be very awkward. It helped to have my hair and make up done before. The session was wonderful. It helps so much to have an experienced photographer like Mandi who helped me with how to pose and was constantly complimenting me and how good I looked. It took a few minutes to warm up, but once I did, it was very liberating. I felt like a supermodel by the time we were finished. I learned how important it is as a photographer to help your subjects be comfortable, it makes such a difference in their images. I encourage every women to take the time to do this for themselves. Oh, and my husband LOVED my surprise!"

[Photo by Mandi Nuttall]


By Camila Binks

[Photo by Mandi Nuttall]

"Having my pictures professionally taken was one of the best decisions I made this year. After having two children back to back I was feeling pretty chubby, frumpy, and just the opposite of hot. I definitely was in need of a little pick me up. It was SO long overdue and once the shoot was said and done and I was able to see the images I was floored. I actually looked good! Wow! What an awesome feeling that was!

I feel like as photographers we are always telling our clients how important photos are and encouraging them to book a session but we never book sessions for ourselves. We think that because we are photographers that we should find a way to take our photos ourselves. Setting up a tripod and trying to take your own photos can be a nightmare. Trust me, I've tried it. So, you can hire a photographer to take your pictures OR do what I did. Find another photographer and have a shootout! Not only will you have a blast and get some great photos but you'll be reminded of what it's like to be on the other side of the camera. One thing I learned: How super important it is to give a lot of direction to your clients. I loved when Mandi bossed me around! Everyone can make themselves look great in front of a mirror but when there's no mirror there it's so hard to make yourself look your best. So having a photographer give you a lot of direction helps you feel a bit more secure and trust that you are looking good. I also had thought in the past that maybe I was being to hard on my clients by, for example, asking them to look into the sun without blinking or to laugh out loud right in front of me, but really, in my opinion it wasn't hard at all. So, sorry clients, I'm going to start coming down harder on you!" ;)

[Photo by Mandi Nuttall]
More information about Mandi Nuttall's Beauty Campaign can be found here. 

Oct 25, 2010

Official Rules for Our Photographer's Challenge!

1.  Get with another photographer
2.  Take pictures for each other
3.  Tell us about your experience
4.  Share your favorite image (that they took of you) with us
5.  Size: approx. 500 by 700 pixels at 300 dpi.
6.  Send to

All pictures and articles submitted will be published next month, and are due any time before October 31st. Please name your photo so we know who you are! And, as always, list the name of your photographer!  We are so excited to see your fabulous images!!

**Detailed information about the Photographers Challenge can be found here.

Oct 1, 2010

Don't Rain On My Parade

by Mariana Mosli-KisMisInk Photography

“We ♥ how the weather doesn’t dictate how our sessions go!! We are prepared to rock it out in any element! And in FL’s weather, that is an essential talent!”

This was a FB status that I wrote last week after getting soaked and completely exhausted from an awesome session we had just wrapped up! As I re-read it, I can say that it’ll hold true for the life of our photography business! As natural-light photogs, our photoshoots are almost 100% outdoors, making the weather our friend and our enemy! It seemed for the last month, almost every session was hit with torrential rains, winds, and the worst weather imaginable! But, we live for challenges & it helps us grow! So, we are definitely not complaining!

At times, it just takes some schedule readjustments and planning the shoot for another day. But what to do when you can’t possibly reschedule? When your client is only in the area for a certain date, or unavailable for a future re-schedule? Or how about when you are in the middle of the shoot when the weather turns for the worst?! The images below reflect those situations and that’s when creativity & passion is a must!

We have come across bad weather, but that has helped us think outside the box and create images that embrace the natural elements that are beyond our control!

We have learned and implemented some great practices into our business, which may not control the weather, but it definitely helps us stay in control of how we face these challenges! Below, I compiled some of the ways we deal with the forces of nature in FL! Hopefully this helps our readers (whether they are photographers or on the other side of the camera!)

1. This may seem obvious, but if you are busy, it can be overlooked: Check your weather forecast! Yes, it is accurate more than half the time! And with iphones, ipads, smartphones, and all the modern technology, the weather forecast is only seconds away! Here is one of the links that we use: . We love this site because it gives 15 minute intervals of weather forecasting. The PocketWeather App is also pretty neat too!

2. Preparation is key! Plan, plan, and then plan some more! Always expect the unexpected! You don’t lose anything (EVER) by over-preparing. It may seem like a burden to take extra covers, raincoats, flashlights, plastic bags, a couple of umbrellas, extra lighting, etc… but if you don’t have these items and need them, you will kick yourself later for being unprepared!

*I often refer to a written list of items that I will need in case of drastic weather changes and I add to that list as I run into new and unexpected situations, so that my list is as thorough as possible!

3. Review your Plan A, Plan B and even Plan C. Get familiar with the area you will be shooting at; by doing so you have an advantage to change locations smoothly without stressing that the new location won’t work, or worse, that you won’t be able to find something. See if there are combo areas (that include outdoor/indoor possibilities) For example: A hotel that has columns or a large covered area near the beach. You would have several choices in case the storms roll in! If the hotel has a nice indoor lobby area, you can even ask the hotel rep. if you may shoot there. The worse outcome: They say no.

4. Communication with the client is VITAL! Feel the vibe and see if your client is willing to endure not-so-perfect weather conditions. Keep in mind, hair & make-up preparation, clothing that they may not want to ruin or get wet, and props that may not be able to withstand harsh conditions. All of these factors play a major role in determining if the shoot should continue and adjust to the conditions or be rescheduled. And don’t forget, the most important factor: Safety! Florida is known for it’s lightning storms and it can be very dangerous to be caught in the middle of that. If you feel that you or your client’s safety is at risk, then make the appropriate decisions to move the session indoors or reschedule. After securing everyone’s safety, take into account that the client’s happiness and mood will weigh in the success of the shoot, so always put them first! If the client is OK with switching up the mood and incorporating the weather into the shoot, then great, happy shooting!

5. Stay optimistic! Your mood will also affect your clients. If you are demonstrating professionalism, enthusiasm, and reassuring the client that their session will be a hit, then 98% of the time, it will! Don’t throw in the towel too quickly! Work with what you have and make the best of it! You clients have invested their time and money and are counting on your expertise and experience to make things work out great! Use available light and get creative. Thinking outside the box will not only create unique and fun images, but will also help you strengthen your skills!

6. Photogs, if you will be shooting in adverse weather, definitely invest in equipment rain gear & insurance (which we recommend to have no matter what weather you shoot in)! Our equipment is expensive and takes only a few seconds to damage, so make every effort to insure your valuables that are vital to keep you in business! Protective gear can range in price from inexpensive to very expensive, as I am sure the quality ranges as well. With a quick google search, I found AquaPac and I am sure there are plenty of other resources out there for gear. An indoor studio is also an option and a great investment if that works in with your photography style & client needs. There are studios that you can rent with advance notice or you can invest in your own.

If you have more tips or resources that have worked for you, please share them below in the comments! Thanks for taking the time to read about our experience & what works for us!

Sep 22, 2010

Photographers Challenge

by Mandi Nuttall-Nuttall Photography

Photographers??  Are you ready for a unique challenge that will test your abilities?  Here is a challenge just for you! 

"As a 27 year old mother of 2, my life was just about perfect. My husband loved me, my kids were crazy yet adorable, I felt completely balanced spiritually, and I absolutely loved my job as a photographer. But there was one thing that just wasn't right. I didn't love me. Almost every day I would look in the mirror and pick out something wrong and complain about it. My daughter was only 6 months old and I'm just not one of those moms whose body seems to suck right back together like a slinky a few weeks after giving birth. I didn't recognize the woman I was looking at anymore. My body had changed. I had stretch marks. My hair was falling out. It seemed like I was hoping to walk past the mirror and see my 18 year old athletic body surprise me somehow.  I didn't think I needed an intervention, until the intervention found me. Oh I'm so glad it did.

A local photographer and I had an idea to shoot some head shots of each other to use on our websites and give to our husbands. At first, I brushed it off and didn't really get too excited about the idea. Me? Getting in front of the camera? However, the more I prepared and planned for the session, the more I got into it. I went shopping, made hair and make-up appointments, and tried on my clothes at least ten times. I was getting so excited! My husband was cheering me on, and was so supportive. The day of our shoot was one of the best days I had for myself in such a long time. After I had spent hours getting ready, I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror. I felt beautiful. The shoot was amazing and we got some incredible photos of each other. When I looked at the final photos of myself, something changed. I loved them. I actually loved a photo of me! The same post-partum mother really looked beautiful.

[Photo's of Mandi taken by Camilla Binks]

This experience lit a bonfire inside me. I wanted everyone to feel the way I did and still do. After this experience, I literally threw away my insecurities. I realized that I can get all dolled up, or stay in my sweats for days and still be me - A beautiful woman. It felt so wonderful to spend real, quality time on myself. Even though I had more makeup and hairspray on my head than I have ever had before, I could honestly say the way I look on the outside doesn't define who I am. I am me, and I will always be beautiful no matter what. I really needed this reminder, and every time I look at my photos, I'm flooded with these emotions all over again. My husband quickly had me order a print of his favorite photo and was so excited to put it on his desk at work. My complaining literally stopped and I really was so happy to be me. I also began to take care of myself better. I'm eating better, exercising and gaining even more self confidence than I have ever had before.

I had such a strong desire to share this feeling with my clients and also implement my transformation into my business. Personally, I felt absolutely qualified to help adults raise their self esteem. After receiving my degree in health education, I worked for 3 years as a high school health teacher, and sometimes it seemed that I spent more time counseling my students than really teaching curriculum. I knew that if I could raise the self esteem and self image in teenage kids, I could definitely help adults. In addition to my own experiences and education, I sought the counsel of psychologists, body image therapists, marriage and family counselors, and doctors to help me compile the best possible homework for the clients.

After insane amounts of time of planning, studying, designing and marketing, I introduced to my clients what I have come to call my Beauty Campaign.  Anyone can and should have a beautiful photo of themselves.

A beauty session is so much more than just a photo shoot, it is a journey to rediscover your true beauty. I put my clients through various exercises prior, during, and after their session. Clients are able to confidently say why they are beautiful! The response and feedback I have received is overwhelming. I have seen people change. I have seen an insecure person walk away a with a new found confidence. It is so rewarding to witness such a genuine and beautiful change. I truly want everyone to experience this change.

After this experience, I felt so inspired to introduce this new and fresh idea into the photography world. I realized there was not a photographic purpose calling to the largest market available - anyone over the age of 18. What sort of session is designed for regular people with zero modeling experience of all ages? Parents pay for professional portraits of their newborns, children, and seniors to document their lives...but what about Mom and Dad? Many photographers are rocking Boudoir sessions, and I even thought about getting some done myself, but then what? I would never want anyone but my husband to see them. They would be locked in a safe for no one to see. I wanted my husband to be able to proudly display photos of his wife anywhere. I knew that deep down, everyone wants tasteful photos to give to their spouses to display at work, or a stunning profile picture, or a beautiful photo for their funeral. However, it would take an incredibly confident individual to walk into a studio and ask a photographer to take beautiful photos of them just because. I knew this idea could sell like candy to clients, and spread like wildfire.

I honestly hope everyone can have this experience, but obviously I can't do this alone. Only a few weeks after I announced my beauty campaign, I had photographers across the country asking if they could use the idea in their studios. It was exciting knowing that more photographers could also change the lives of those around them. However, with the same amount of excitement, came even more anxiety. I was worried if photographers started offering beauty sessions, that they would miss the whole point that makes me so passionate about this campaign. There is so much more to these sessions than the hour and a half in front of the camera.

To help ease my anxiety, I have begun to create a workshop and business and marketing kit on DVD sharing all my ideas, documents, techniques, marketing, and vision of the beauty campaign. It is still in the works, and my goal is to have these kits ready to be shipped to photographers everywhere by the end of the year. In the meantime, I would love to give you the #1 most important bit of information for photographers that I will share in my workshop DVDs.

I love the quote, "You never truly know someone until you walk a mile in his shoes." A critical part of the beauty campaign is understanding what your clients are going through. The best way to understand, is to experience it for yourself. That's right. I just challenged you to get in front of the camera. You would think photographers could feel comfortable a few feet away from their cameras. I know it is terrifying to stare through that lens, knowing that black box is capturing all your imperfections. This is what your clients face daily. So give your pointer finger a day off from clicking that shutter and take a day for you. Pamper yourself. Go shopping or golfing. Actually take time to do your hair, and snag a good photographer friend to shoot you. I know I just gave you a simple checklist, but I also know how difficult this checklist can be. Just remember...You are Beautiful. You are beautiful for who you are, what you do, and what you can do. And when you are done, you will have a photo to prove it."

More information regarding Mandi's Beauty Campaign can be found here.


**If you decide to take on this challenge, we invite you to share your masterpieces with us!  Yes, even if you're a male photographer!  We'd also love to hear from you in our comments section- Just to see how many of us are willing to put ourselves out there. 

We will be posting the images that you take of each other in the November issue!  Please share this challenge with your other photographer friends and lets have some fun!!  

Please send your favorite image to, and are due any time before October 31st.  Please label your picture so we know who you are!  And as always, list the name of your photographer!