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Pretty paper.

20 May

One of the most exciting things about being on the client side of photography for me – besides the gorgeous photos – is the delight I feel over pretty packaging. It’s silly but undeniable, unwrapping a ribbon-clad, letterpressed box just makes the whole experience feel delightfully luxurious. I think it’s kind of like websites – if you’re a great photographer, but you’re posting on a blah template that you put no thought into, it takes a little something away from the swoon-worthiness of your photos. Of course, it doesn’t make them bad, and pretty packaging (or a pretty website!) never make up for poor photography. Bet let’s indulge a little, shall we?

I would love to start out by at least having some kind of letterpress business card. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people offer to pass on my business card, or ask for it personally, even at this early stage in Anni Cee. It may happen slowly (very, very VERY slowly, it feels) but eventually I’ll grow into a collection of pretty paper and packaging. My inspiration right now?

Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day

Love the negative space – from Once Wed

by Jessica Hische

We Heart Paper thank-yous

SimpleSong Designs Box

Do you have any pretty paper favorite resources, or extra little flourishes you love?

Photography Update.

6 May

Awhile ago, I wrote this post detailing my frustrations with building a portfolio and how to get my name out there. That post turned out to be one of the most helpful things I’ve done thus far, because it not only got me a lot of wonderful advice from photographers who have been there, it also prompted my first (and one of my favorite) clients to get in touch with me about a session.

As the weather warmed up, the inquiries kept coming. I’m very happy with my decision to shoot a few free sessions – it allowed me to work with some truly amazing couples who really cared about their photos, and it’s truly been a great experience. In a short time, I feel like I’ve learned so much about what works for me and how to be outgoing and confident in shoots. This was a tough one for me, because I’m shy by nature and usually on the quiet side (until you get to know me) – but I’m starting to hit my own stride in terms of how I shoot, which is a wonderful feeling that lends me confidence.

I’ve learned that I absolutely love doing this. It’s inspired me to see the world in a completely different light, to slow down and look around. There’s something lovely about capturing the small moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. It’s making art out of the everyday.

I’ve also learned my own limits. It was easy for me to go full-speed ahead, blasting into shooting, editing, blogging, all in one day because I was excited about the session. But in terms of endurance, that’s just not possible for me. What’s more, sometimes a little distance from a session helps me to look at it in from a fresher perspective.

One of the toughest things has been sacrificing all my free income (which wasn’t much to begin with) towards the little things you might otherwise never think of – lots of CF cards, another external hard drive, website costs, lens rental, etc. This is one reason many photographers can’t afford to shoot free sessions, and it was definitely a hardship I took on knowing that it would be tough. I’m glad I did, but I look forward to the days when I can start putting the money I make back into my business and, eventually (most likely awhile away!) make enough that I can pay myself.

Which leads me to the subject of equipment. I thank my lucky stars that I had some wonderful people to talk to about what to buy in the beginning, because I am really happy that I didn’t place much stock in having everything under the sun before I started shooting. Can you shoot a wedding with the set-up I have? Not well, especially when you factor in backups. But having only my 35 1.4 on a daily basis has impressed upon me that most of the changes and improvements I see have nothing to do with equipment. Of course it was really exciting to move up to a full-frame camera, and if you handed me a kit lenses now that I feel the 35 is an extension of myself, I would probably not be pleased. But most of my major “aha” moments came with only things I was doing – the way I look at light, the way I see things through the viewfinder, even basic metering preferences, learning to shoot consistently – have come with no changes in equipment or editing.

So where do I go from here? I’m really excited for my upcoming sessions, I’m in the process of becoming official (taxes, ugh!) and while I still have my pricing set low to build my portfolio, I’ll hopefully be making enough that I can invest what I make back into building a better business.

I want to extend a big thank you to the blogging community for all the help and networking along the way – I’m consistently amazed at how generous all of you are, and I couldn’t have done it without you. And to all my clients, you’re the best! Thank you for giving me the chance to work with you. It’s truly been one of the best experiences of my life.

Guest post: Tara from Flare Productions

31 Mar

Hey everyone! I am excited to share the first ever Lincoln Park on a Lark guest post with you today. About a week ago, I realized that I may have, er, overextended myself in the coming weeks. Not only is it the first week of new classes at school, but I have quite a few free shoots – probably the last of them – scheduled right in a row, plus I have some really fun things scheduled with some friends of mine that I’ll share later. The guest posts will be interspersed throughout my own, just so posting doesn’t become non-existant over the next few weeks. I have some wonderful ladies lined up to write for you, and if you’re interested in being a guest poster let me know!

Today’s post comes from Tara Jones, a lovely portrait and lifestyle photographer you can find at her Flare Productions blog. If you like this post and you’re interested in reading more, definitely check out her always helpful posts over there. Thanks, Tara, for putting so much time into such a wonderful post! I loved reading it, and it fits right in with my photography philosophy.

You  Just  Do  You,  Umma  Do  Me

Confession:  I  love  a  good  rap  song.  I  can’t  help  myself.  I  love  the  classic  songs  by  Run   DMC  and  Biggie  all  the  way  to  the  new  stuff  by  Jaden  Smith  and  Lil  Bow  Wow.  There!   I  said  it!  I’m  an  Anthropologie  shopping,  Volvo  driving,  Pinkberry  eating,  cardigan   wearing  whitest  of  white  girls  who  adores  rap  music.  The  reason  for  my  confession?   Whenever  I  think  about  the  photo  industry  all  I  hear  are  the  lyrics  to  Umma  Do  Me   by  Rocko  and  I  find  myself  wishing  that  everyone  else  could  hear  those  lyrics,  too.

A  few  times  a  month  I  meet  new  photographers  who  will  ask  for  my  opinion  of  their   work  and  more  often  than  not  I  find  the  work  they’ve  created  isn’t  really  theirs;  it’s  a   recreation  of  work  that  inspired  them.  While  having  someone  to  look  up  to  in  the   industry  is  priceless,  so  is  their  work.  And  as  I  search  for  the  right  words  of   encouragement  to  send  back,  those  lyrics  always  pass  in  front  of  my  mind:  “You  just   do  you,  Umma  do  me.”

When  I  was  just  getting  started  as  a  photographer  I  found  myself  falling  into  similar   ruts  over  and  over  again,  which  would  result  in  frustration  and  feeling  stuck  as  an   artist.  When  you  become  serious  about  photography,  creating  amazing  photos  is  all   you  can  think  about.  Pretty  soon  you’re  eating,  sleeping  and  breathing  all  things   photo-­‐related.  So,  it’s  not  any  wonder  that  your  work  can  begin  to  morph  into  a   mini-­‐me  version  of  a  well-­‐known  photographer  that  you  look  up  to!  However,  that   person  became  well  known,  because  they  created  from  their  own  heart,  from  their   true  self.    It’s  as  if  their  work  says,  “Wanna  see  how  it’s  done?  Then  watch  me  do   me!”

The  answer  to  this  problem?  It’s  simple.  (Can  I  get  a  holla?)  Here  are  my  three  easy   steps  to  finding  your  voice  in  this  industry:

1. Shoot  what  you  love.     It’s  as  simple  as  that.  When  you’re  shooting  something  you’re  truly  interested   in  (not  what  you  think  everyone  else  is  interested  in)  you’ll  be  well  on  your   way  to  finding  your  own  voice.  And  even  though  it  may  seem  that  there  are   as  many  photographers  out  there  as  there  are  Starbucks,  the  world  still   needs  to  hear  from  you!

2. Be  your  own  teacher.     I  highly  recommend  giving  yourself  a  personal  project  every  month  to  keep   you  on  the  right  track.  If  you’re  not  shooting  anything  for  yourself  you’re  on   the  fast  track  to  burn  out  and  forgetting  why  you  love  being  a  photographer.   So,  get  out  there  and  gitchasome!

3. Get  outside  the  box.     While  the  clothes  may  make  the  man,  the  camera  does  NOT  make  the   photographer.  Waaay  too  often  I  hear  new  photographers  say  that  if  they  just had  the  Mark  II  or  the  D3S  they  could  really  make  work  that’s  screamin’.  But   don’t  be  fooled!  Expensive  gear  does  not  equal  quality  creativity.

Let  this  be  the  beginning  of  your  portfolio  and  the  work  you  want  to  attract  will   come  knocking  on  your  door.  Now,  I  can’t  promise  that  you’ll  be  become  the  next   Ansel  Adams,  but  I  can  promise  you  that  if  you  begin  to  create  with  your  own  vision   your  work  will  be  so  fly  like  a  G6.

 

The plight of a new photographer (or: beware of Craigslist).

10 Feb

At this moment, I’m a photographer caught somewhere between amateur and potential pro. I’ve poured my heart into photographing often, even in the sub-zero temperatures and wind chills we get so often in this lovely Chicago winter. I spend hours reading blogs, Formspring accounts, photojournalism sites, fashion magazines, and Flickr sets for inspiration and guidance. I’ve pretty much put one of my arms (and a leg, too) into starting equipment that is capable in low-light situations. I’ve even bothered my fair share of photographer friends, who are wonderful enough to put up with my non-stop questions and chatter (thanks guys, you know who you are!)

But none of that means much without a portfolio. There’s this terrible in-between place when a photographer doesn’t feel comfortable charging for their time yet, but clients aren’t exactly lining up. In fact, pretty much the only people who are willing to take a chance on such an untested photographer for an engagement shoot are the Craigslist set.

Why is this a big deal? Because it shows. I know it’s not nice to say – after all, I think everyone deserves beautiful photos, even if they don’t have thousands of dollars in their budget, but when you’re looking on Craigslist and for free offers, it usually means photography is not a priority. Sure, maybe there are gems – those people who love photography or are excited about photos but are just that broke – but they’re a rarity.

And to be honest, when you don’t care about your photos, you don’t invest anything into them. It’s like the people who walk around in sweatpants and Uggs all the time with crazy bedhead hair – you don’t look put-together, you look like you just woke up. Off-days around the house are one thing, but judging by the state of my college campus, off-days seem to be everyday for some people.

Why not just bite the bullet and shoot shoot shoot no matter how little someone cares?

Because when a couple looks for a photographer, they often pick those who shoot couples similar to them. I’ll be the first to admit that we did. Our photographer features lots of  diverse couples who aren’t necessarily traditional. Their photos show them in places that mean something to them, and their personalities shine through. Part of that is skill on the photographer’s end, but part of it is the couples’ level of excitement and attachment to the photos. If you’re taking engagement pictures as a way to shut up mom and dad, you’re going to put less into them than if you plan to treasure and display them.

I’ve been trying to find a way around this conundrum for awhile now. Even more challenging is that crazy winter weather that make it kind of dreary and unbearable outside. I flipped back and forth about writing this post, but I’m curious to hear what you all think. If you’re recently married or heading that way, what things did you look for in a photographer? Are there any websites that you scouted most for photogs? And if you are in the industry, how did you get over the initial portfolio hump?


Florida on film.

20 Dec

Okay, these are all digital. But I do miss my darkroom days!

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Back to scarves, mittens, and mugs of hot coffee in Chicago!

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