Tag Archives: tips

A Lovely Workshop 2012

27 Apr

If you love film, or beautiful, whimsical images, you’ve likely heard of Elizabeth Messina or her super sweet blog, Kiss the Groom. Her work is ethereal, adorned with lovely light and has a truly distinctive, feminine flair. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak at WPPI, and her personality, kindness and down-to-earth nature match her work to a “t”.

Elizabeth just recently announced that registration for her “A Lovely Workshop” is open – and it’s coming to the East Coast, right in our backyard actually! The 800-acre farm is just outside of Philadelphia, where “we will explore the country side & the many acres of the beautiful farm, home to 100’s of horses.” The three-day event is being held on July 10-12th, with a welcome gathering on the 9th, and includes a long list of impressive collaborators, including Abby Larson of Style Me Pretty, Leah MacDonald of Waxworks (who you may remember from our meeting in 2011!), Shira Savada of Martha Stewart Weddings, Claire Pettibone of Twigs & Honey, Adrienne Page of Velvet Raptor and Wiley Valentine.

Shoots are scheduled each day where Elizabeth will educate and inspire attendees on light, branding, marketing and getting published, connecting with your clients, booking destination weddings, expanding your business and much more. There’s also tons of goodies, including a signed copy of her new book, The Luminous Portrait.

Check out the website for details, investment and specifics. And if you’re interested, don’t wait! Registration is limited to 20 students!

Shoot the Shot Workshop

5 Dec

One of our fabulous Photo Betties, Isabel March, is hosting a workshop on January 26th at her studio in Perkasie, PA. She’ll be covering tons of great topics including business, getting started, client meetings, branding, marketing, social media, creating a signature style and more! Space is limited so act fast! Here’s the 411:

Thursday Morning Pancake Sessions

7 Sep

Source: Pancake Sessions: Video Light and Getting Ready Details Post

Tomorrow after you roll out of bed and grab a warm beverage, head over to Justin & Mary’s website to check out their next Pancake Session post. There’s a fresh one every Thursday, which promises to be interesting and informative, plus they break everything down into bite-size, easy to understand pieces. Best of all, they’re up there on the interweb for posterity, so you can visit right now and learn about everything from Black and White Post Production Tips, Branding, Off Camera Lighting, Destination Wedding Tips and much, much more.

Thank you fellow Photo Betty Susannah Gill for sharing another helpful tip with us!

FREE Online Business Workshop

6 Sep

This Friday and Saturday, September 9-10, Tamara Lackey will be holding an in-depth workshop that you can register for right here, at no cost! It’s a follow-up to her last course, The Business Whiteboard, and will cover a lot of ground. Here’s the schedule:

Day 1 – September 9th

Where We Left Off: The White Board
Why Doing it ALL Will Take You Down
Creating An Online Presence
Who Are You: Brand Culture
Marketing (That Works)
Strategy to Action: Doing the Work

Day 2 – September 10th

REAL Client Service
Money!!! Finance, Cash Flow and Profit
Get Legit: Legal Considerations
Small Shifts, Big Changes … Examine Your Attitude
Sales, Sales, Sales
Go Forth & Conquer!

Learn how to determine how potential clients currently view your business, how to subtly change these perceptions online and through word-of-mouth, marketing strategies that can help you go after the right goals, sage financial management tips – and so much more – in an easily digestible, step-by-step process. As Tamara puts it: “Turn ideas into plans, take action, and see results. This workshop is more than an overview about business. It’s how you can practically apply these principals to build a more effective and profitable company for yourself.”

Thank you fellow Photo Betty Susannah Gill for informing this post!

Photos for Good: Part 1

2 Sep

The first time I watched Born Into Brothels, I had the immediate urge to pack my bags, jump on a plane, and help out in some faraway place. (I’m pretty sure many other photographers out there did too.) The reality, though, is you don’t have to fly around the world to make a difference.

There’s been a lot of buzz and recent Photo Betties posts about photography-marrying-philanthrophy, so we decided to dedicate this one to getting involved with current charity organizations. We’ll be following up with Part 2 which will cover locating existing opportunities, as well as tips on finding and creating your own projects.

Volunteer Photography Organizations

Started by Kristin Weaver, an internationally published fashion and wedding photographer, Images for a Cure is an annual event held each fall (usually October, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month) promoting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, their beneficiary charity. Photographer registration is from August to September – and each participating photographer is encouraged to set their own session dates, plans and pricing – and donate 100% of their session fees to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, via their FirstGiving page.


Wish Upon a Wedding, which we posted about in April, is the world’s first non-profit wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. They work with all types of wedding vendors in addition to photographers, including planners, venues, caterers, rental companies, videographers, bakers, officiants, florists, stationary designers, DJs/bands/musicians, salons, transportation companies, and more. With 18 chapters around the country (and 10 more coming soon), you can help out in many ways – volunteering your skills, financial donations, hosting a fundraiser and more!

Operation Love Reunited, or as many call them “OpLove”, is a non-profit organization that assigns photographers to families with loved ones getting ready to deploy, are currently deployed, or are coming home. The participating family chooses a photographer and up to two sessions per year. The photographer volunteers their services for the session(s), a 4×6 album for the service member, and a CD of images from the homecoming. If you’d like to volunteer check out the blog which is filled with information and inspiring photography from OpLove sessions.


Flashes of Hope is a national, nonprofit organization that “changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography.” They transform hospital playrooms, waiting areas and even hallways into studios, and photograph children solo, then with their family and loved ones. Photos are delivered as enlargements, prints and on disc, all free of charge. “It’s an indescribable treasure that forever preserves the grace, dignity and beauty of each child.” To maintain the highest ethical and professional standards in the industry, they work primarily with published and commercial photographers, as well as members of The American Society of Media Photographers. If you fit the bill, you can apply as a photographer or, if you want to help in other ways, you can still be part of this amazing organization as a general volunteer, or with a donation.

PhotoPhilanthropy helps to connect, shed light on and reward connections between photographers and non-profit organizations around the world to tell stories that drive action for social change.” Great photography helps inform, educate and inspire volunteers to act, donors and grant-makers to give, people to push for new policies, and to give those who are not heard, or seen, a voice. In addition to helping facilitate Volunteer Connections, they also give annual Activist Awards for winning photo essays, Student Production Grants (which include financial, promotional and supportive assistance), promote Artist Residencies and Workshops, and have a great blog which they update often with inspiring imagery and stories from around the world. It’s no wonder their goal is to “Change the world, one photo at a time!”

Credit: PhotoPhilanthropy 2010 Grand Prize Winner - Josh Meltzer

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) volunteers offer “gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner” to families who have suffered the loss of an infant. “The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives.” They are always looking to recruit volunteers for their database to be on call to offer Remembrance Photography Services to be on call when needed, as these sessions are sudden and require quick response. If you’re interested you can sign up to volunteer as a photographer, assistant photographer or digital retouch artist – as well as read volunteer articles for background and advice.

Founded by Celebrity Photographer, Jeremy Cowart, Help Portrait is a grassroots movement of photographers giving their time, gear and expertise to offer portraits to those in need. The idea is simple, powerful and global.

Each December, this year on 12/10/11, photographers will sign-up online, create or join teams, and offer portraits to those who wouldn’t normally have access to, or be able to afford, professional photography. People like the homeless, orphans, single-parent families, people of ill health, the elderly, veterans and more. It’s the chance to not just take a photo, but give a photo.

Tiny Sparrow is a non-profit organization who helps provide photography to families with children who are facing life threatening illnesses. Their volunteer photographers provide a session as well as a beautiful album to “carry the love, joy and everlasting memory of each individual family.” Currently located in Texas, but with a goal of expanding in 2011, Tiny Sparrow also accepts donations through PayPal.

Images of Hope is a non-profit organization that brings awareness to childhood cancers and illnesses by offering free portrait sessions to children and families dealing with cancer. Their purpose it two fold. First, to capture timeless moments that will last a lifetime for the families, and second, to spread awareness. Founder, Jessica Oatman, whose son, Montana, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age two, looks at photography as “a great outlet and a wonderful way to document his journey.” Looking back through the photographs has helped them “realize what we have really been through.”

With an artist list of that spans continents, Heart Speaks photographers worldwide are committed to stopping the unnecessary euthanization of adoptable animals. Their goal is to increase the numbers of adopted animals in shelters by just 3%, and give rescue animals safe, loving homes. The power of a image can speak volumes, so Heart Speaks connects artists with shelters and animal relief organizations to effect social change and better the lives of humans and people alike.

Pictures of Hope is a charitable organization of professional photographers who provide complimentary, documentary-style, photography sessions to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and their families.  Members are professional, established photographers (many of whom are “NICU mothers” themselves) who hail from across the United States and Canada and are dedicated to donating their time to a cause they believe in, and sharing the gift of photography with families in need.

It’s also important to note that bereavement photography is not their focus. While photographers may be asked to photograph a bereavement session, services are generally geared to babies in the NICU at any point during their stay (not just those terminally ill) which could mean a 27 week preemie or a NICU graduate about to go home. There are specific requirements for membership which are listed here.

Started in 2008 by Felicia Reinhard, Inspiration Through Art (formerly called The Littlest Heroes Project) is made up of professional photographers, artists, children and other volunteers across the world who provide a variety of programs and services to children who are fighting serious illnesses and/or life-altering disabilities. Sessions can be home-based, at benefits and fundraisers, or hospitals or clinic visits, and are specially catered to each little hero. Services include photography, but they also also offer special programs and fun art-related sessions as well. They also have a comprehensive list of partners, other organizations who need volunteers and worthwhile vendors.

The Tiny Light is a Canadian-based, female-run organization that connects member photographers with children and families that have been faced with a life altering diagnoses. Applicants must be professional photographers with a client base as well as a online portfolio, willing to donate their time and talent as well as a disk of ALL high resolution images from the session. Families who are accepted receive these portrait sessions free of charge. Their current list of photographers includes only Canadian-based photographers – but the application does not say whether or not that is a prerequisite for membership. If you’re passionate about joining the cause – get in touch!

Dog Meets World, at first mention, sounds like an animal-based charity, right? In fact, the “Dog” is a sweet stuffed puppy who helps their photographers to spread joy and smiles. Their mission is to give children and families in developing countries personal photographs, often for the first time. DMW seeks to change the way people travel by creating positive cross-cultural interactions and rather than simply taking pictures, to give them as well. Travelers bring along a digital camera, a portable printer and the stuffed Foto mascot dog to photograph children and practice Take & Give Photography! DMW believes with simply sharing a photo, photographers can practice ground-level diplomacy and voluntourism for all travelers.

Celebrating Adoption was officially started by Jenifer Samaha in 2007, and is a national organization of photographers who donate their time to document and celebrate the love and bond of adoption. Volunteers give these sessions at no cost, and families who participate must have gone through the adoption in the past twelve months. Their member list is quite extensive… although we did learn that unfortunately, due to personal issues, they are not able to accept any additional photographers at this time. We still chose to include Celebrating Adoption in our list, however, in case you may know of families who can benefit from their services, or if it inspires you to start a similar endeavor yourself!

We’d like to give a big shout out to Shutter Mission, who we found midway through our research for this post, and helped add a few additional resources to the list. Bookmark their site – it’s filled with photo-related charity organizations as well as stories and spotlights on photographers who serve them. You can also nominate a photographer who gives back that you’d like to see featured, and there’s an extensive list of complimentary resources for photographers who donate their time and services to charity. Simple, straight-forward, informative and inspiring!

If you’ve found this post useful, have something to add or want to share it with your friends, family or fellow photos – please post, tweet, comment, share – and help us motivate others to make a difference, one shutter click at a time!

Tech Tuesday: A Day at the Beach

9 Aug

Summertime means beachy weddings, portraits and if you’re lucky, a sunny vacation too. Along with the cool ocean breeze, however, comes humidity, sand and other hazards that can wreak havoc on your gear. Here’s some tips to be smart, safe and prepared for your next seaside jaunt:

Be Minimalist

If you have to change lenses, batteries or memory cards on the beach, do so with extreme caution and as few times as possible to prevent dust, salt or debris from getting into your gear.

Shoot Smart

- Keep as far away as possible from water (to avoid splashing) and be mindful of people around you who could accidentally kick-up sand or water in your direction.

- Shorten your camera straps(s); if you shoot with two bodies and kneel down to take a shot, you don’t want your second body grazing, or dipping, into the sand.

- Be aware of your terrain (dunes, dips, etc.) and be careful of flip-flops which can kick sand up, and possibly into, your gear.

- When not in use, keep your camera out of direct sunlight.

- Avoid placing your bag on the ground and don’t leave it open. In the past when I couldn’t hold my bag (for example while lying in the sand or shooting in the water) I asked someone out of frame to hold it, or placed the bag, in its rain cover, on the center of a large reflecting panel to keep the sand as far away as possible.

Keep It Clean

- If you get your hands wet in the ocean, rinse them with fresh water and dry well to prevent salt from getting onto, or into your camera.

- Applying sunscreen and insect repellent will likely be a necessity. Afterwards be sure to clean your hands well to protect your camera from oil and chemicals. Keep a travel-size pack of baby wipes in your bag as back-up.

Helpful Gear & Accessories

- Carry a camera bag that keeps your gear easily accessible and comes with a rain cover for extra protection when the wind kicks up.

- UV filters are a no-brainer for some, although I’ve actually had a camera store rep (who will remain nameless) tell me that they’re a waste. From an image quality standpoint, they absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun to help your photos come out looking clearer and more natural. True, you don’t need them, but when you’re battling sand, grit and air-borne salt, $40 for a filter beats hundreds for a new lens.

- Rain covers, like Kata’s Elements Cover, are ideal for a windy beach, steady downpour or heavy snow.

- Cases or skins, like those made by Camera Armor, are “rugged, lightweight skins, molded from specially-engineered silicone that fit your camera like a glove [and] help protect…from everyday bumps, abrasion, dust and fingerprints. [They] allow full access to all controls, compartments and ports.” Covers are available for Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony dSLRs (as well as lenses, battery grips and more).

- Underwater dSLR Camera Housings are quite obviously, for submersion, and require an investment of a few thousand dollars. If you’re planning an underwater session (or want some cool partially-submerged shots) this is great addition to your kit.

Other Things to Bring

- A cleaning kit for post-beach shooting, which includes microfiber cloth, dust blower and soft brushes to help get rid of all the exterior sand and debris – and prevent it from getting inside. Take the time to clean your gear thoroughly before opening compartments or removing the lens. And beware the spray can of air, which accoring the Gadgetwise is “a little too forceful” and “could cause sand and dirt to scratch the camera’s lens… [as well as] blow sand particles further inside the camera through seams, dials, buttons, [the] LCD screen or other places where parts are joined together.”

- Toss a few Silica Gel Packs (you know – like the ones in shoes boxes) into your bag to prevent moisture from building up.

- Quart- and gallon-size freezer grade plastic bags are great to store lenses and bodies, protecting from dust/sand/water. They can be used to avoid condensation build-up in your camera (more on that a bit later). I’m a big fan of this style of Hefty bags which have a zip-lock top that’s quick and secure, for me extra peace of mind and less fiddling. I always keep a few of each size in my bag just in case. And this leads me to the very last tip…

Beware Condensation

Condensation is when water forms “on surfaces that are significantly colder or warmer than the air surrounding it.” So, if you change between a very cold, air conditioned environment, to a hot and humid one (or vide versa), there’s a danger that moisture will cause condensation to form inside of your camera. It’s apparent through your viewfinder since your lens fogs, and your images likewise are foggy and unclear. But more importantly, this can affect or damage your camera’s sensor and electronic functions. It’s scary – and can be avoided.

In a perfect world, you’ll want to take the time to warm your camera up naturally and slowly. Here’s how:

1. Place the camera and attached lens inside a gallon-size freezer bag, removing as much air as possible, and seal tightly.
2. Transition from cold to warm (or warm to cold) in as many stages as possible.
3. Condensation will form on the bag’s exterior (instead of the camera) as the air and camera gradually equalize to the new environment. Wait until the camera feels temperate, and be sure to wipe-off moisture on the bag’s exterior, before removing.

There you have it. Tips, gear and random extras to arm you against whatever the beach throws your way. If you have additional ideas please leave a comment. Happy Summer Shooting!

Tech Tuesday: Apple’s OS X Lion

12 Jul

A few weeks ago we reviewed Apple’s new mobile operating system iOS5 and the introduction of iCloud – and how they’re going to make photographer’s digital lives more streamlined. Today, we’re covering the new version of Apple’s desktop operating system, which according to Apple should be available for $29.99 – any day now.

OS X Lion – a whole new animal

Multi-Touch Gestures

Inspired by the tactile functionality of the iPhone and iPad, Apple has integrated the gestures that mobile device users have grown to love. Now you’ll be able to use the same fluid and realistic gesture responses, including rubber-band scrolling, page and image zoom, and full-screen swiping, right on your desktop.

What does this mean for photogs?

- You’re in Photoshop or Lightroom, and want to get a closer look. No need to mouse over to activate the zoom tool or hit a keyboard command, simply pinch to zoom in or out. Get a closer look in your favorite web browser by simply double tapping.

- Within an application, like a word document, or several open tabs in your browser, just swipe, like turning pages of a book, rather than mousing over to scroll the scroll bar.

- If you have multiple apps open, you no longer will need to mouse down to the dock or hit COMMAND+Tab on your keyboard to browse the other open apps. When viewing an application at full screen (another new feature we love!), it’s as easy as swiping with three fingers, which shuffles your full-screen apps like playing cards.

What you’ll need:

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a Multi-Touch Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad to take advantage of gestures.

Full-Screen Apps

Now instead of resizing your browser windows to fill up as much space as possible to hide that messy desktop, you’ll be able to clear away the clutter and see one App and nothing else – instantly – by just clicking the new full-screen button in the upper-left corner of your app window. BAM!

Mission Control

Mission Control is simple – it helps you get all your ducks in a row and see what you have open, with a highlight window for each App. So instead of just glancing down to see my dock, and trying to recall what I have going on in Lightroom, iChat, Photoshop, Word, Illustrator, Safari (etc.) I’ll just be able to swipe up with three fingers on my trusty trackpad, and get the lay of the land. Kinda like this:

Launchpad

Launchpad is kind of like Mission Control’s orderly cousin – which lets you see a neat grid of all your apps as icons on your desktop (accessible from your dock) rather than having to navigate to your Applications folder and view them in a dialogue box. Clean, simple and right there. Functionality is the same as the iPhone or iPad, so you can:

- Hold down an icon with by clicking on touch pad to activate all the apps, and click the “x” in the corner to quickly delete an app

- Drag an app icon onto another icon to categorize them into folders like “Business”, “Post-Production”, “Games”, etc

- Swipe across your trackpad to move between pages

- Open any app with a tap or click

Mac App Store

If you’re an iPhone user, this is not a new concept. But the fact that the App Store will now be integrated into OS X Lion, letting you browse, download and install immediately – rather than buying discs (in person or online… which equals time and/or waiting) is pretty cool.

In addition to quick downloads, you’ll also get easy integrated updates, and fast, simple installation across devices.

It’s not the sexiest update – but it’s certainly pretty darn sensible. Think about the big apps. Like Lightroom. Or perhaps when you get a last minute word doc from a client and don’t see it until 1 am the night before big the event – and you don’t have the most recent version of Microsoft Office! No worries! Just search, click, download, and viola! It’s open. Maybe now the App Store looking a little sexier?

Auto Save and Versions

Sometimes I’m groovin’ on an edit or retouch, music blaring, feelin’ inspired, and suddenly remember “Oh yeah – I haven’t saved yet…” after 20 minutes of work. Then I quickly save my .psd and breathe a sigh of relief. Well, with OS X Lion, Apple’s got a fancy new update that will let me edit to my heart’s content, without having to worry.

Auto Save automatically saves your work, while you work, during pauses and every five minutes. This is what I’m most excited about – and can’t wait to see in action.

Why’s it so great?

- It saves versions within the same file, rather than multiple versions of your file (therefore saving room on your hard drive).

- If you’re editing an email or shotlist, for example, and halfway in, realize you erased something important- no problem! The Revert feature returns your document to the state it was in when you last opened it, and Versions shows you the current document next to a cascade of previous versions which have been saved. And if you just want to grab a section from an earlier version, you can copy and paste between versions.

Mail

Last but not least for the OS X Lion updates, is a fancier, shinier version of Mail that offers a widescreen, two-column view of your emails, one-click access to folders, quick drag-and-add folder functionality, detailed preview (so you glance at your list of emails and get an idea of content before opening), enhanced search, and best of all Conversations.

This new feature (which gmail users enjoy) automatically groups messages from the same conversation, in chronological order. Why’s it great? It removes redundant text from previous message threads to save time scrolling and searching for old emails and details, in an easy-to-follow, linear format. Not too shabby.

What’s next?

So there you have it – all the updates – some which are a bit more “fluff” but others that will certainly save time and make life easier when you’re on your desktop. Which, let’s face it – is a good portion of the week. If you’re interested in upgrading (for just $29.99 – it’s a great deal) you’ll need to:

1. Make sure your Mac can run Lion

- Click your Apple icon in the top-left of your screen, choose “About this Mac” and find out if it has an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor. if so, you’re good to go.

2. Make sure you have the latest version of Snow Leopard

- Click your Apple icon in the top-left of your screen, choose “Software Update” to install version 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) if you don’t already have it

3. Download OS X Lion from the App Store.

- It’s not ready just yet, but you can sign up for a notification when it is.

Scatter Joy! One Photographer’s Journey of Giving Back and Discovering True Happiness

1 Jul

By: Amber Shader

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of
achievement, in the thrill of creative effort” – Franklin D Roosevelt

I held my first “real” camera in the eighth grade. It was a Nikon F2 that I used while taking a summer photography class with a grade school friend at a local community center. Photography quickly became my new passion. Every weekend I looked forward to going to the community center to learn new things. Our teacher was super cool too. He rode a motorcycle, played guitar and looked just like Jerry Garcia. Every weekend, he taught us new things like how to shoot manually, how to develop film and how to do cool things with negative transfers using anything we could find like lace, bows, and big 80‘s hooped earrings.

Once the class was over at the end of summer, my parents got me my very own camera, but it was the type you had to put flash cubes on top of. I couldn’t change lenses, I couldn’t shoot manually or develop my own film anymore, so needless to say, photography didn’t stay a strong passion for me with my little flashcube Kodak camera. I didn’t start shooting again until my freshman year in college. I saved up and bought the cheapest Pentax film SLR I could find and took as many photography electives I could squeeze in while getting my degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management.

Getting back into photography during college was fun, but I never thought I could make a living as an artist. I think the character Charlotte from the movie Lost in Translation summed up the extent of my college photography experience when she said, “I tried taking pictures, but they were so mediocre. I guess every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, horses…taking dumb pictures of your feet.” Before I knew it, I was working full time, dating my soon-to-be husband and completing my MBA in Organizational Leadership on nights and weekends. I stopped shooting completely and spent 13 years working in Corporate America, climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a Fortune 100 company, I had a great husband, a great home and plenty of disposable income to buy all the clothes, handbags and jewelry I wanted, but what I did not know at the time was that I didn’t have true happiness and was merely surrounding myself with material things things that did not matter.

It wasn’t until 2010 when a sudden car accident of one of my colleagues at work put everything into perspective. She literally drove across the street from our building to grab a coffee and another vehicle ran a red light and broadsided her. She died instantly. It wasn’t her actual death that was the lightbulb moment for me. My lightbulb moment was during her actual eulogy when people said how much she gave to the company. It was truly then that I realized I wanted to reinvent myself so I could do something I loved with my life vs. being a corporate title on an org chart.

After the funeral, I started to slow down and enjoy the little things in life more like spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading etc vs. working 60 hour work weeks. I also stumbled across an Emerson quote to “Scatter Joy!” and it became my new mantra. To me it meant and still means keeping it simple, traveling the world, finding beauty in all things, caring deeply about people and leaving the world a better place. Around the same time I stumbled across the quote, my wonderful husband encouraged me to start shooting again and he bought me a new Nikon D40 for my birthday that year. I started to get the passion back and I knew photography was what I wanted to do with my life.

I started shooting as a part time photographer on weekends and I slowly built up a client base. I also created my business model around my mantra “Scatter Joy!” and included a minimum of 12 silent auctions or charitable events a year. I started to discover the true power of photography, not just through the images I was creating but through the fact that I could give my time, talent and heart to make the world a little better. I know it sounds cliché but through giving back to the local community I discovered my true happiness. Charitable giving as a photographer also has another upside and if you have ever had the opportunity to listen to Sarah Petty or read her Joy of Marketing blog, then you know that charitable giving is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to grow your business by creating buzz. I am living proof of that too because I was able to make the leap from part time weekend photographer to full time professional photographer largely because of my mantra to Scatter Joy!

So how can this mantra work for you and your business? Here is some advice (in no particular order) that worked for me:

• Decide what you can afford to give in terms of your time, resources, services, products etc. and build that into your business plan. Giving away your time and talent is still an important business decision to consider in terms of cost vs. benefit. I personally landed on a minimum of 12 events/auctions a year, but that may not work for everyone.

• Decide your philanthropic priorities. Are you passionate about charities for animals, the arts, children, the environment? My personal decision was to focus on philanthropic efforts for children and animals since I am passionate about both and love shooting both in my sessions.

• Decide if you want to work with designated national portrait charities supported by PPA or WPPI like Operation Smile, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Tiny Sparrow Foundation, etc. or create your own events and work with local groups. You can also do a hybrid of both. I personally decided to work with existing groups including The Moyer Foundation and The Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware.

• Maximize social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and blogs to highlight your charitable giving. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself and the good works you are doing. I actually had The Moyer Foundation find me via my tweets about another charitable giving event I worked on for the American Red Cross. If you don’t post it, write about it or share your beautiful images, you are not maximizing the great PR opportunity.

• I’m not promising you will be able to quit your full-time day job as soon as you start taking my advice and adding charitable events to your business model. However, what I can promise you is that you will feel more fulfilled and happy and your business will grow.

One of my most recent events was the Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware’s “Help Japan Bloom Again” event, benefiting the American Red Cross and The Moyer Foundation’s “Evening at the Ballpark” (which in turn, benefits Camp Erin and The Moyer Foundation).

We were able to raise almost $4,000 for the American Red Cross and $100,000 for Camp Erin/The Moyer Foundation! I was so proud and happy to have Amber Shader Photography contribute and be part of both of these special events.

Longer term, even though I don’t ride a motorcycle, play guitar or look like Jerry Garcia, I would love to start teaching photography classes to kids at the same local community center where my love for photography started. Hopefully I can help Scatter Joy! and share my passion for photography with the next generation of future photographers!

Tech Tuesday: iCloud and iOS 5

7 Jun

Apple’s commitment to user experience, function and design was summed up in Steve Job’s opening statement at yesterday’s WWDC 2011 Keynote: “If a hard drive is the brain and sinu of the computer, the software is the soul.”

If you didn’t watch the 2-hour video, and haven’t made sense of all the articles and posts that have bombarded the interweb, you’re in the right place. We’ve got the highlights that photographers will appreciate – with big visuals* and details on how it’s all going to make your digital life easier. It’s a lot of ground to cover – so today we’re going to start with the mobile benefits you’ll get from iCloud and iOS 5.

Farewell MobileMe. Hola iCloud!

Apple has replaced MobileMe and it’s $99/year fee with iCloud, which syncs all your documents, photos, books, music, videos and app data automatically, and backs them up over wifi.


– Works on Mac, iPod touch, iPhone and iPad
– Seamlessly integrates your apps – including iTunes, Photo Stream, Apps, Books, Documents, Backup, Contacts, Calendar and Mail – so all your content is available and up to date on all devices
– Keeps your email, contacts and calendars up to date across all your devices
– Manages and backs-up your content effortlessly – no syncing required
– Includes 5GB of FREE storage when you sign up, which excludes any purchased music, apps, books or your Photo Stream

Better, faster, smarter – with iOS 5

The newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system has over 200 additional features. It’s available this Fall and is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone4, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad and iPad2.

Camera: Never miss the shot again

When not wielding fancy dSLR’s, chances are we’re grabbing inspiration or special everyday moments with our phones. Apple’s updates to the Camera app make it possible to capture a photo at a moment’s notice, instead of fumbling to unlock, load the home screen and then open the app.

- Access the Camera directly from your Lock screen with the new Camera button
– Zoom in and out, take a photo using the volume-up button
– Use the new Photos app editing features from the same screen to enhance, remove red eye and crop

- If you have Photo Stream enabled in iCloud (more on that in the OS X Lion section), your photo will automatically download to your other Apple devices

Reminders: A smarter way to get things done

There are tons of to-do list apps out there, each with their own benefits and caveats; I mentioned my love for Teux Deux in a recent post on iPhone apps. And it rocks. But Reminders is different. It isn’t just a simple list making app. It’s smart. Super smart. Say you need more Compact Flash cards and batteries. Next time you are near your camera store, Reminders will send you an alert based on your GPS location. How cool is that?

- Create tasks from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
– Specify due dates and locations for your tasks
– Create location-based alerts that remind you to perform tasks when you’re in a specific place
– Works and automatically syncs with iCal, Outlook, and iCloud

Notification Center: Everything in one spot

No more jumping from app to app to check your new messages, listen to client voicemails, check Saturday’s weather for your upcoming shoot or see what’s on your plate for the day. Now you’ll get all of your notifications, alerts and updates in one place, including Weather, Stocks, Reminders, Calendar, Mail, Messages and more! How it works…

From the Lock screen:

- Notifications appear right on your lock screen so you can see what’s happening at a glance
– Easily swipe any item to view it directly in the app

From the Home Screen:

- Wwipe down from the top of your screen to view the list
– Tap on an item – like a new email – to be taken directly to that email in the app

From an Application:

- A subtle notification bar appears up top when you have an alert
– Tap to view it, swipe down from the top of th screen to view your entire list, or do nothing – and quickly it disappears
– Customize which notifications you want to see and which you don’t

Twitter: Native integration for easier tweeting!

- Enter your twitter account information once in Settings, and every application and device links up
– Tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube or Maps
– Add locations – no matter where you are
– Take a photo and tweet it in three simple taps; take a photo, tap tweet and send!

PC Free: No Mac? No PC? No problem!

Apple has finally cut the cord. Now users will be able to use the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch right out of the box!

- Activate and set up wirelessly
– No more cables required; OTA (over the air) software updates can be downloaded directly on to device
– Back up and restore automatically using iCloud

iMessage: Now iPad and iPod Touch can chat too!

- Chat with friends between iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
– Works over Wi-Fi and 3G

Other Great Stuff

With over 200 new features, we could go on and on. Here’s just a few more great updates worth noting:

+ Safari reader strips out ads and other distractions for easier reading.

+ Mail now offers rich text editing and a system-wide split keyboard option.

+ Newstand lets you keep all your magazine and newspaper subscriptions in one beautifully designed spot – and organize it to your liking.

The only thing we’re bummed about – is that it won’t be available until the Fall! Good thing we have summer to keep us distracted…

If you want to check out the complete list of iOS 5 features, visit Apple or watch the video.

* All content was sourced directly from Apple’s website and YouTube page, and includes links to learn more.

Accounting for Photogs Recap

24 May

Accounting isn’t the sexiest part of running your own photography business; aside from equipment malfunction and extreme weather patterns, it’s more like the scariest. But last Thursday at our Quarterly Meeting, it was actually cool. Heather O’Mara helped plan the event, held at CPC Financial in King of Prussia, and hosted by Richard C. Capasso, CPA, PFS, CFP.

Rich isn’t your stereotypical accountant. He’s got a great sense of humor, is excited to advise on financial planning, and is really easy to talk to; it’s obvious after a few minutes just how passionate he is about helping small business owners (their firm has over 800 clients – all small businesses.)

It was an information-packed evening – two hours of advice that would be overwhelmingly long in a blog post, so instead, here’s a few highlights:

Money Matters:

1. No matter what type of business entity (Sole Proprietor, LLC/LLP, Corporation or “S” Corporation), set up separate bank accounts and credit cards so that everything is clearly defined as personal or business, leaving no gray area or confusion come tax time (and hopefully not: audit time).

2. At the very least, keep a checkbook, and have an income statement that shows profit/loss.

3. Remember that you need to earn roughly $1.40 to take home $1 after taxes, so pay what expenses you can before paying yourself. If you pay for something business-related on your own dime, treat it just as if you worked for another company and create an expense report before reimbursing yourself.

4. If you pay any one person more than $600 aggregate in one calendar year, you must send them a 1099. If not, and you are caught, you’ll lose the deduction on your return and be subject to a fine of $1,000-$10,000.

5. There’s no benefit to keeping extra funds in your business account. When there’s excess, distribute funds to your personal account to avoid any gray areas. And be sure to set aside 30% of that amount for income tax.

Deductions:*

6. If you claim a home office on your taxes, it must be a space reserved only for business, not an office/playroom, office/dining room, office/bedroom, etc. And if you’re claiming a studio, you’ll need a separate entrance into the space from the outside. Once you figure out what percentage of the home your office occupies, you can also calculate that percentage of your utilities, mortgage and possibly even your landscaping.

7. Health insurance premiums can be deducted from your tax return, as well as portions of your internet and cell phone bills (not included in the home office deduction).

8. When traveling, log your mileage – which is currently 50.5¢/mile and includes depreciation on your vehicle, insurance, and gas. (Second shooters and assistants who are traveling separately can also claim their mileage.) Only claim your vehicle if more than 50% of the mileage is used for business purposes total.

9. Charitable donations are NOT deductible – only the cost of goods (your vendor’s, not your mark up) for items gift (for example a canvas print, album, etc).

10. Don’t get wrapped-up in the idea of deductibility, or make purchases simply because they are a tax deduction. Everything should make good business and investment sense.

* Remember that if your company has a loss for the year, you can’t claim many expenses, including a home office or new equipment. You may, however, be able to extend and still claim some deductions the following year – check with your tax preparer or accountant to find out more.

If you’re interested in speaking with Rich about financial planning for your own business, or to get a business started, contact him by email at rich@cpcfinancial.com or call 610-265-4122.

Want to help out, organize, host or assist with an event? Give us a shout at info@phillyphotobetties.com.

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