Friday, March 28, 2014

GUYS ONLY- SENIOR 2014 Mini sessions

Hey guys,
 OK, let's be honest- I know you don't really care about having your picture taken. Neither does any other guy, really. But, here's the deal- your mom DOES want pictures of you from your senior year. So, here's a compromise.

I'll set up a super-guy-oriented private spot for you to show up, wear your letter jacket, bring your sports equipment, and take 30 minutes worth of pictures. Your mom will get $100 coupon to spend on whatever she wants. $150 total price.

April 8th, 2014 in St. Francisville.
Schedule your GUYS ONLY Senior Portraits online HERE.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Photographer studio vs working from home

So, this January the girls and I loaded up everything in the tiny Tara Marie Photography office and moved it from my home in the country to the new office/studio in downtown St Francisville. I have had a town office before, when I lived in Marble Falls- in my pre-children days. That was great. This has been a little bit different- it's 5 years later into my business and life, and now two toddlers and two part-time employees are involved in the decision making process.
I only signed a 6 month lease on this little building because I wasn't sure how this would go. Now, three months into it, here is my evaluation of the pros and cons.

*There is a permanent place to do in-person viewing and sales.

*Increased visability, community awareness, and professionalism.

*I don't spend nearly as much time of my days driving to and from shoots and meetings (before I was 30 minutes from town).

*People can stop by and pick up their products.

*Employees are no longer coming to my house, which means if I don't want to fold the laundry or put away the dishes, I don't have anyone seeing that besides my family. This is also a bit of a con- that was somewhat of a motivator to keep my house cleaner.

*I have nothing better to do during the day at the office than get my work done. When I was at home, I always wanted to be doing the dishes, cleaning out something, going for a walk, training my dog, etc- you know, anything to prevent me from having to sit down and edit pictures. Now, the biggest distraction is Sonic being about 1/2 mile away, and a trip to Sonic can only take so long.

*I have access to several available day cares for the kids. Before, to use a day care (which luckily I didn't have to at the time), I would've had to drive 30 minutes to the day care and then another 30 minutes back home to work. That would've been not so fun. Now, I drive 30 minutes with the kids,drop them off, and I'm at work 5 minutes later. I go out on shoots, have meetings, get my work done, and then pick them up on my way home. 

*The studio is easily accessible for clients to drop by. If only they would drop by..... The only drop by people we have had have gone like this- 
"Is this the leasing office for these buildings?"
"Didn't this used to be an antique shop?" 
"Hi Tara! We're here for our pre-wedding consult." (This was the meeting I forgot to write on my calendar. Thank goodness I was there doing my daily work! Count that one as a super-duper pro.)

*The studio provides a place to do parties, classes, meetings, and also can be a dressing room when needed. A couple Fridays ago, there were 13 girls working together to do a fashion photo shoot in the studio. It was nice to have a big open space to do that.

*More time and availability to do location scouting. Before, it was a major trip to do any location scouting. Now, I can simply drive or walk around once or twice a week and get some new locations to use.

*Time and accessibility to community involvement. If someone from the Chamber of Commerce needed a quick promo pic, I could be there in five minutes versus what used to take me 30 minutes. I now feel like I can join in some of the community efforts in our area, because I'm in town and available to be there on weekdays.

*Internet speed. The Internet speed at my house was ungodly slow, along with limited bandwidth usage, thanks to my rural life. Now, I feel the angels smiling over me again with high-speed Internet- something I haven't experienced in years. I've watched probably a hundred webinars (ok maybe not that many) and I may or may not update my phone every chance I get. I even STREAM things...  Wow. This is too overwhelmingly good to think about.

*Quick access to people and photo shoots. One day a miscommunication made me late for a 4-H photography club meeting. Had I been working from home, I wouldn't have been able to make it to the meeting at all. Instead, I was able to walk to the meeting and make it in time to really help.

*It's harder for me to work all the time and ignore my family. I have to get here on time, get my crap done, and get out on time, versus what I used to do-- work SOME during the day, and then stay up late or get up at 4 am and get work done.

Ok, so now the cons of working in town...
*Tomorrow, I have to go in to work. I know that sounds dumb, but if I had my computer here, I would totally be on it right now, editing away at midnight, so that I could clean my house and be with family all day tomorrow before my brother-in-law gets married Saturday. But, alas, I have editing deadlines, and I have to get dressed up and go in. 

*I have to brush my hair, put on a little makeup, and wear decent clothes. Ok maybe that's not a con for the people who have to look at me, but for me, it just takes longer to get started with my work.

*Other people have had to really pitch in when my kids got sick . Which of course they did within the first week of me moving in, since they started a new day care. I could no longer keep them at home and just work while they napped. I had to get an alternate sitter and still go in to work. Although, twice now one of them has come to the studio and stayed most of the day, and it worked out just fine as long as I bring movies. 

*I don't get much done around the house. That's because I'm no longer there during the daytime.  I do miss getting dishes done on my lunch break, being able to start supper, etc.

*I'm not able to watch out for things around the house. - the dogs, the horses, my garden, etc, obviously because I'm not there.

*Cost- the studio costs of course are a little higher than working from home. Mine is a small, cheap place, so it's not too expensive, but definitely costs more than being at home.

So, as of right now, the pros mostly outweigh the cons. I hope this can help someone decide whether or not to move into a small studio in town. My situation was a little different because I was living so far out in the country. If I had been closer to town, I probably would have stayed in my house longer.

Tara Morris
Tara Marie Photography , 5877 Commerce St, St. Francisville, LA
P/TEXT: 225-721-1313 
IG: @taramariephoto

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wppi 2014 class review

Wppi class review 
So, in 2009 when I came to wppi, I went to any and all classes I could go to, and just wanted all the info I could get. I wasn't too particular- I wasn't specialized at the time, and most of the info was new to me.

This year, 5 years later, was quite a bit different. First, I have had 5 years to tweak my business and , I guess you could say, find myself (business speaking- personally, this ADD girl is a lost cause for settling down and "finding herself".)

Second, I've had five years to watch workshops, read articles, and also attend Imaging USA in New Orleans, which means I've had time to curate who my favorite photography industry educators are. My years of experience helped me chill out from fretting over class content, and focus more on people. 

So, my class choices at wppi 2014 were based on a few things. First, who the speaker is, second, the subject matter, and third, how new the concept is. 

For example, my first class that I attended was Zack Arias's class on simply using one off-camera flash to achieve awesome results. I've been doing this for years-- based on Zack's OneLight DVD that I purchased in 2006. But, Zack was the first guy (through his DVD) to introduce me to this off-camera lighting that has differentiated and created my brand and my look for nearly eight years now. If I had to pay educational commission, Zack Arias would have made gobs of money off of me! so, I didn't care WHAT he talked about- I wasn't missing the chance to hear him speak in person.

On the other hand, other photographers who I had never heard of spoke on some pretty relevant topics to where I am in my business. Regardless of who the teacher was, I wanted to know more about that subject.

Then, other classes educated is on some new-to-me concepts- trends I haven't seen or been introduced to yet, most likely because of my Deep South and more eastern location. I chose a few classes on these subjects just to see what was going on with some new trends, and see if they might work for me. Unfortunately, it seemed everyone else had the same idea too, so I didn't get in to those classes.

So, here are my awards for the classes I attended- drumroll please :

Speaker who could have talked about photographing dog poop and I still would have attended- Zack Arias

My favorite speaker who I didn't know of, but would like to follow more- Katelynn James. She speaks and markets straight from the heart. I can't wait to continue following her and being a part of her community, just to see where she goes in life and also to keep myself in check of how transparent and connected I am staying. Her speech jerked at MY emotions (which is hard to do) and made my mascara run. Darn you, Katelynn. You got me emotionally connected. :)

The best class that I chose based on the class content- this class provided me with more than I was expecting, and I was happy about that: Jen Hillega's successful senior two-part seminar. I truly expected these talks to be basic, 2010 talks about running the senior model program- the one that doesn't work for me. But instead, Jen showed her class, (in her energetic, bold, and very ADD personality) how she has tweaked and changed the senior rep program to actually work in the digital age, with street-smart, curating seniors. I was pleasantly surprised. And, I loved how she said "squirrel" so often- I can relate.

The unknown-to-me celebrity who I'm thankful I attended her class- Jen Basford, one of the founders of seniors ignite. Jen had some powerful suggestions about my senior portrait side of my business, and I didn't realize who she was-
I simply chose the class because it was in the senior realm. Jen also won the best dressed award in my book. Her dark grey dress was so fabuloso, and I had decided that before she mentioned her obsession with fashion.
The class I chose just because I was star-stuck: Chuck Arlund's light hacking class. I'm amazed (ok, obsessed) with his fashion work, and have been for a long time. In my wildest dreams, I would spend a day working as a light holder for Chuck on a shoot. This class was somewhat close to that dream. Chuck's personality is as wild as his work, but he has a strong desire to share and teach all those things in his head to others. He wore a ratty t-shirt. His slideshow diagrams were scratchy drawings photographed from his chalkboard. He jumped around on the stage. He waved his hair around. He nearly tore his softbox up on purpose in front of us, just to show how you don't have to follow the rules. 
As a matter of fact, Chuck Arlund pretty much broke all of the unspoken "professional photographer speaker at wppi" rules within 1.5 hours. I can relate to and admire that rebel spirit.

A lot changed in my business and in the industry in five years of being absent from the wppi conference. As much as I would like to attend and network every year, I feel like going every 5 years is plenty for me to stay up-to- date on trends. Next time, who knows what I will use to choose my classes...


Tara Morris
Tara Marie Photography, St Francisville, Louisiana 
IG: @taramariephoto

Megan & Brent- Engagement

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