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Tips For Getting Ready For Your Spring Family Portraits
I’ll wager a bet that most of us are eagerly awaiting Spring. This winter has certainly been an extreme one! Between the subzero temperatures, snow blizzards and being cooped up indoors, we are ready for sounds of birds chirping, warmer temperatures and bursts of color everywhere. This is a prefect time to start thinking and planning for your Spring Family Portraits!
If you skipped taking Holiday Family Pictures either due to the busy holiday season or because you did not want to look like an Eddie Bauer Commercial (nothing against Eddie Bauer – I love their winter coats!), Spring Family Portraits are a great way to celebrate color! Better yet, take the session outside! The lush greenery and blooming trees make an amazing backdrop. An added bonus is that the whole family can dress up in bright colors and shake away the winter blues. Below, are five tips to make the most of your Spring Family Portraits.
1) Plan Ahead
We all spend the last few weeks of winter counting days until Spring. The days start getting longer and suddenly our calendars seem to fill up very quickly. Plan ahead and start researching photographers in your area. Most photographers use the early part of the year to update their website and blog their recent sessions, which is a great way to check out their latest work and make sure their style fits with yours. If you have found a photographer you want to use, feel free to schedule a consultation and book your session months ahead. This makes the planning process much easier not only for you but also for your photographer.
Most photographers have a list of favorite locations that they like to use for family portraits. As photographers, we take the time to scout locations and test out lighting. However, if there is a location that you really like and want to incorporate in your family pictures, don’t be afraid to ask. Perhaps it is a park that you visited when the kids were young or a favorite family biking path that you want to revisit with the family. Photographers are generally open to suggestions.
3) Update Your Wardrobe
Spring is all about color. Be it pastels like pink and teal or brighter colors like orange and reds. Research the latest fashion trends and feel free to experiment. Start a Pinterest board and share it with your photographer. This will help them get to know you and your individual style even before the photoshoot and you can get expert opinions on what would work and what wouldn’t – a win-win for both parties!
4) Opt For A Lifestyle Photoshoot
Lifestyle Photoshoots are a documentary style of photography. It is a great way to capture interactions among families – simple, honest emotions that represent your true personality, like the tight grasp of a child’s hands, squeals of laughter as they play a game of tag, or blowing bubbles together in the park. These sessions tend to be more relaxed as the photographer captures the natural flow of your life. I find that Spring Family Portrait Sessions lend themselves more towards Lifestyle Photography.
5) Keep It Simple
Spring photos tend to be simple and clean. Stick to the basics – wardrobe, location and activity. Don’t try to overdo the shoot by trying to plan many different things within the photoshoot timeframe.
I hope these simple tips help you in planning and making the most out of your Spring Family Portraits. Remember to get outside and have fun. You owe it to yourself and your family after surviving a brutally cold and dark winter!
Follow along for my next article – Tips For Spring Family Portraits Readiness For Photographers.
All images in this post were edited with the new versatile MCP InFusion Lightroom Presets!
Karthika Gupta, guest blogger for this article, is a Lifestyle Wedding and Portrait Photographer in the Chicago Area. You can see more of her work on her website Memorable Jaunts and follow her on her Memorable Jaunts Facebook page.
Being a self-employed photographer, filing income taxes can be stressful. Even more so if you are not prepared, or are just unaware of what Uncle Sam expects his cut to be, especially when you are traveling for your photography business. These four tips should help.
1. Track your mileage
Other than driving from your home to your business, you want to write down the miles you are putting on your car related to visiting clients, driving to an on location shoot, or other activities directly related to your business. At the end of the year, you can deduct 56 cents per mile, which is the 2014 standard mileage rate. The IRS recommends you keep a logbook in your car and write down the date, miles, and business reason for each trip. Also, write down what your odometer says at the beginning and end of the year. Keep in mind, that when you charge a client mileage, you are not excluded from claiming this deduction.
2. When traveling for your business, you can eat without keeping the receipt
Every professional gets paid per diem when they are out of town for business, but what about the self-employed photographer? Fortunately, you can deduct it. Better yet, you don’t need a receipt from every meal while you are out of town. The IRS just requires you to “keep records to prove the time, place, and business purpose of your travel”. The deduction amount varies by location so look up the per diem rate of your destination at www.gsa.gov before recording it in your expenses. For example, if you travel to Los Angeles to shoot a wedding, your per diem is $12 for breakfast, $18 for lunch, $36 for dinner, and $5 for incidentals.
3. Don’t use your frequent flyer miles for business trips
If you plan to fly out to a workshop or a destination wedding, buy the tickets. When you have a receipt for traveling related to your business, you can deduct that expense in your taxes. If you were to use frequent flyer miles to get a free flight, you can’t deduct anything for it, since it didn’t cost you anything. Save your frequent flyer miles for vacations and other times you plan on traveling, which have no chance of being deducted for your business.
4. In general, keep receipts for business purchases over $75 (required by the IRS)
Even if you track your expenses in a software or spreadsheet, keep the receipts. The IRS suggests you keep receipts for four years after you file your income tax return. The easiest way to keep your expenses in order is to make a list of them for the year. Update the list with purchases as you make them, and then store the receipts in a file labeled “Throw Away in 4 years from…” whatever the date is.
Bonus: Get the Right Look from the IRS
— Click here for a Guide filled with Tax Tips for Photographers —
Nate Taylor is a small business consultant and the owner of PhotoAccounting, where he shares tax tips and tools with photographers.
Let’s get right to it. I have written before on our studio blog, where I have tackled the subject about social media for photography studios and how to create good content (and how to avoid creating bad content). I usually stress the importance of being social on social media, as well, but unfortunately many of you reading this article right now still are not rising to the occasion. How do I know this? Because I see it all the time. It’s still the most common coaching tip I am hammering home to my peers and my clients who manage brand pages on Facebook and elsewhere.
Interesting Content Is Important…
Of course, posting interesting content is still critical to an effective social media strategy. Although Facebook’s new algorithms may again have you wondering, you will still have more fans (whichever platform you’re on) if you are providing value. Value on social media = useful information, interesting and funny posts, content that focuses on your clients, along with things you would want to see in your own news feed. Blogging can be great for your brand, IF you do it well – maybe even the best thing you can do! Tweeting, vining, instagramming, pinning or whatever your clients are doing is all still very important with a creative and valuable approach.
…But Engagement Is EQUALLY Important
Once you put all that stuff out there your job is STILL NOT done no matter how good it is. Of the social media managers and business owners I see I would break them down into three categories:
1. Those who are spinning their wheels because their content is all about them and a sales pitch, boring and weak, and/or intermittent and unfocused (I feel like the MAJORITY of brand pages still fall into this category)
2. Those who have done between a good and fantastic job of creating interesting and valuable content that is varied and client-focused (There are SOME doing this but they stop there)
3. Those who have really done a fantastic job of creating interesting and valuable content that is varied and client-focused, AND do an equally great job of building relationships through engagement (NOT MANY are doing this – it’s a painful truth).
It’s very simple – when people respond to your great content with comments and feedback they want to know that you’re reading it and will feel better about it if you acknowledge their contribution. The point of putting your studio on social media is probably to get exposure and maybe build your business a little – right? Social media has to be social to be effective. You have to build relationships with people to grow. You won’t build relationships by ignoring people who take an interest in your business, so make sure you do the reactive part – comment back to the people who like and comment on your page. But even that’s not enough.
Make sure to also be proactive! Go outside of your page as your brand and like and comment on other brand pages you partner with, are neighbors or peers with, or just plain like! And please, be sincere about it. Share some of their content that your followers will find valuable. I am speaking largely in Facebook terms here but the same concept applies on twitter, instagram and anywhere else. If your clients notice your interactions with other brands it will help both of you. If you are visible to clients on peer pages you will be giving yourself additional exposure.
Don’t be Intimidated… It’s Easy to Start Being Proactive!
Let’s walk through this on Facebook for starters because many do not know how to do this.
The screenshot above is how the upper right corner of my Facebook home page looks when I am logged in as Doug. Now let’s left click on the little gear icon to the right:
When we click on the gear we get a drop down box giving us the option to “use Facebook as:” Frameable Faces Photography in my case. Now let’s click there – where it says Frameable Faces:
Now my Facebook home page has flipped and I am logged in and using Facebook AS Frameable Faces Photography – not as Doug. Now when I click on “Home” I see the news feed of other pages we follow as Frameable Faces and when I comment, like and share I am doing it as my brand – not as Doug. That’s not to say that you are anonymous when you do this, and you don’t want to be. While it can be healthy to separate yourself from your brand a little bit, as photographers you and your personality are infused into your brand in many ways and hopefully that’s a good thing. As I said before, you need to be sincere about it when you are engaging as your brand – in other words don’t just like and make cookie cutter comments about everything you can find on Facebook even if you didn’t read it – that can come back to bite you – people will spot a fake.
While it can add time to all of our daily exercises as business owners, it truly can be something that adds value to your business and helps to build your brand outside of your location. I hope this helps. Now go forth and socialize!!!
Doug Cohen is a co-owner of Frameable Faces Photography with his wife Ally in the Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield, MI. Ally is the photographer and Doug handles the sales and marketing. You can also find Doug personally on twitter in addition to the studio at @dougcohen10. He writes for their blog and sings in a rock band.
How can you overcome the obstacle of people who just want digital images? You can sell framed portraits for a more profitable business.
“I just want the digital images.”
How often as a professional photographer in the digital age do we hear that from a customer? Handing over a digital image left me feeling empty. When I sold my first large custom framed portrait to a client, I knew that was the direction I wanted for my business. It has at times been a painful learning experience, however, every year I am closer to bridging the gap between what clients request and what fulfills me as an artist.
“I don’t know why I want digital images….I just want them.”
It did not take long to realize that when I asked clients what their plans were for the digital files that they didn’t generally have a reason why they wanted them. And although I disliked the old time photography studios’ practice of printing out “proofs” that were tossed out if not purchased, essentially the digital images are viewed by clients the same as those proofs. By packaging the digital images with framed wall pieces, I have added value to the digital images. More importantly it established a purpose to the images for my client. All while adding to the profit of my business.
“My favorite image greets me every time I walk in my front door.”
For every viewing appointment, I use my software package (Preevu) to design wall pieces. This software allows me to size the images, insert matting and select the molding that best compliments the image. In addition, I can virtually hang the wall pieces in sample rooms. I start every viewing appointment showcasing these beautiful wall galleries. By showing the client what a 24×30 looks like paired with two 20×20 pieces for example, the client starts out excited about their images and visualizes them hanging in their home. Adjusting my sales presentations to start with wall pieces, I have noticed that clients appreciate larger pieces and begin adjusting their budgets to accommodate wall portraits.
“I love my framed pieces more every day.”
Clients end up treasuring these framed pieces. I suggest to my clients to take the time to write a personal note and attach it to the back of the framed image. As a child grows, seeing the image everyday throughout their childhood, it begins to absorb memories. How more precious are those memories when years later a hand written note is opened.
“I was just at my friend’s home (office) and saw the beautiful wall pieces you did for them. Can you do something for me?”
My business gets referrals from clients wanting wall pieces. Many have had pictures done by other photographers, but haven’t done anything with the digital images and they want something designed specifically for them. Now I spend time making money doing what I love. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Amy Harnish is a fine art newborn photographer located in Fishers, Indiana. Her studio is located in the historic Eller House. Amy a graduate of Indiana University’s Herron school of art specializes in designing custom wall portraits for her clients. Visit her website or Facebook page to view more of her work.
The Best Ways to Improve your Online Photography Portfolio in 2014
This is the year. The year you’ll turn that business corner and get your online portfolio noticed. These essential steps will help you set your foundations, highlight your work so that your personal artistry shines through, and help your photography reach the right eyes.
1. Make A Plan
For the seasoned professional, it might be time to revisit your photography business and analyze what has worked or not worked for you in the past. Where some elements might need to be updated or entirely cut, new photography business tools and strategies can take their place. 2014 should be about trying to keep up with the dizzying pace of technological advances, finding new tools that can help your bottom line, and giving your business a Web. 2.0 makeover.
If you don’t already have a photography portfolio website, that should be the starting point of your new plan. Then ask yourself, is your website helping you achieve your business and marketing goals? Revisit your online presence. Enlist friends or colleagues to give you an audit. And change platforms if you’re not happy with the way things look. Perhaps switch from doing it all yourself to using a custom portfolio website builder. The best ones out there will offer you everything you need – from search engine optimization (SEO) and responsive web design to e-commerce capabilities and stunning photo galleries.
Another beneficial element to include in your plan is customer appreciation. Treat your customers like gold. Who were your Top 10 clients last year? Send them a note asking for a little shout out – even something as simple as a Like on Facebook, or forwarding your newsletter to a friend can go a long way. Word of mouth is a priceless tool and social media is how many people communicate most these days.
When is the last time you reached out to former clients and asked them about a new shoot? A little nudge might be all they need. Make contact via email, a social post, or comment and see where it takes you. In 2014 think really hard about email marketing best practices and how you can start communicating with your audience via email.
If you’re someone newer to the industry, it might be time you narrow things down and really find your niche. Targeted marketing has a much higher return, and there are many tools available to help you pinpoint and reach the right market.
What is your niche? This may difficult to nail down for some, but it is an important decision to make. You might need to talk this one out. Have lunch with a friend to discuss it. Write it all down and extract your image. Then blog about it – become the “thought leader” in your niche area and it can pay off enormously. And let your work backup your message.
2. Get Organized
For many photographers, this is the biggest hurdle. With so much work to select from, how do you decide which photographs to showcase? If you work with multiple media, how do you categorize it all?
Again, enlist someone to help you go over it all – a friend, colleague, partner, your mom. Someone you trust who will give you honest advice and keep you focused. Then take the stress out of how to make it all look professional online by using a portfolio service. There are many to choose from and something for every budget. These sites help you optimize everything, from SEO to how to sell your work. And with options like commission free online photo proofing, customers can review and order the photos they want directly on your website. Quickly, easily and efficiently.
3. Get Your SEO In Order
People can’t hire you if they can’t find you and SEO can help. Don’t be turned off or intimidated by the phrase. An online portfolio website can make it all foolproof.
For best results, use a system that doesn’t use Flash. Unlike Flash based portfolios, HTML based sites enable you to create a best-practices optimized website, including search engine friendly URLs, unique meta tags, and crawl-able content. Using unique content that is properly placed on the page and leverages strategically chosen keywords, you can drive traffic to specific pages and build inbound links to more than just your homepage.
And make sure that once you get a prospective client to your website, there is a clear goal for them to achieve. Whether it is signing up for your newsletter, completing your contact form, or buying a print, your website should have clear calls to action that help visitors navigate your site and complete a goal.
If you are like most photographers and the majority of your business is local, then the time is now to embrace Google+. Local search engine rankings are crucial to a local business, and a well optimized Google+ business page is where you need to start.
3. Get Social
If you use Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr or any other social networking site – USE THEM. Make it a habit to go online on a regular basis to stay up to date and talk about any promotions or special events you have going on. But also make comments and engage where your clients are. An anniversary note on a client’s wedding image could result in a pregnancy shoot. Commenting is a great way to get your name out there and help drive traffic to your site.
Review sites like Yelp and Google+ offer a wealth of knowledge to consumers and, in turn, consumers rely heavily on the reviews and comments they provide. Get in there, engage, review a photographer friend’s work or compliment a stranger’s image. These sites often let you create a rich user profile and in one click you could be attracting your next gig.
As customers rely on web searches almost exclusively these days, a strong online presence is the best – and sometimes the easiest – way to get noticed. One quick Google search will tell you that! It’s time to embrace your inner techie and begin wearing two hats – professional photographer, and Internet marketer.
Julian Dormon is the founder of BigBlackBag, specializing in professionally designed, artistic portfolio websites perfect for photographers, artists, and other creative professionals. He’s an amateur photographer and professional entrepreneur with a passion for all things beautiful.