Photography

Aren’t headshots awkward?

When photography first became an interest of mine, I had absolutely no desire to ever take pictures of people. Telling people what to do in front of the camera, where to put their hands, how to hold their head (in order for the double chin wouldn’t show; it’s a bit of an awkward head tilt), and not to stand so awkwardly, was simply not for me. 

Fast forward a few years, which I spent sitting in pastures, driving to horse shows, snapping away whenever I saw dogs or cats, I was finally hired as a photographer for a daughter and her horse. Or so I thought… Date and time set for a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I park in front of the barn and a big SUV rolls up. All four doors open and I’m all of the sudden faced with having to do a family shoot that I had not at all prepared for. Mom, Dad, three daughters with three horses, and the family dog.

Holy moly… I better get very comfortable very quickly with telling people what to do in front of the camera. It ended up being an okay shoot but it could have gone so much better if I had asked for more information, expectations, etc. BUT this shoot also taught me to just go with the flow and I was forced to gain a new experience by telling people where to stand, what to do with their arms and hands and where to look.

In 2015 I made an awful move into a new job which I thought would catapult me further ahead in my career but it ended up being a complete downfall… Towards the end of the life of that company, all employees (including me) were faced with having to find new jobs. Some people had been at that place for 10+ years and had never updated their LinkedIn profile nor resumes. So, I decided to offer my services and take peoples’ headshots. I fell in love with it which lead me to start some research about what to tell people and how to nicely tell them ‘don’t do this, do that instead’ kind of thing. Annie Leibovitz said to start at home where you can nag people who already like you to be in front of your camera. That’s what I did. 

A position at the American Cancer Society opened up for a Graphic Designer and in order to negotiate salary, I simply threw in that I do photography as well. BOOM… Landed another job. Today I’m the person who gets an email when someone needs an updated headshot and I remember being on cloud 9 after a 15-minute session with two of the researchers. Two beautiful and smart women who told me for articles they will need a smiling and an additional more serious shot. I was on cloud 9… The pictures came out beautifully and I added them to my website. If I could just take head shots of people today, all day long, I would do so. 

Participating in a workshop about how to work towards becoming your own boss, I met Charlene. Charlene teaches these types of workshops and she was interested in adding some photography to it. She asked me what I thought about it and I mentioned that when you first start your own business and you have to sell yourself to potential new clients, you need a good headshot. She was on board. That Wednesday night, I packed my gear and headed to Charlene’s workshop where i was able to capture a large group of smart, ambitious, and beautiful women.

You can find some of the headshots I took at the workshop right here.

So, if you need an updated headshot or are just in the mood for a little shoot, just click right here and let me know how many family members will be part of it ;). 

Networking

Over the past few weeks I’ve attended some networking events that could not have been any more different (in a good way). The first one was a dribbble meet up that I only heard about by accident from an old coworker who offered to get me and my art director/friend Nikki into the already at capacity event. The setting of this event could not have been any better. A new building called the Willoughby with a rooftop terrace, cold drinks, and hot pizza. Talking and exchanging information with a lot of designers in all different fields and from various backgrounds was very interesting. We talked graphic design, UX/UI, photography, furniture design, etc. Rhyme & Reason put on an excellent event!

The Mavens from Mavenly.co (@mavenlyco) had their conference a few weekends ago and very much to my taste they organized a happy hour for people who had not signed up for their workshop. Nikki and I went and had a great time mingling with other professional ladies who are looking to become their own bosses. It was a great night for a bunch of women coming together, drinking wine, eating appetizers. 

Sometimes I wish I would have started networking way earlier in my life. I’ve met some very interesting people and if there is one advice I can give a new designer, it is ‘go out and network’. In the beginning, Atlanta gave me a hard time getting acclimated and meeting people but in regards to networking, getting to know new people, starting conversations about doing business together, it has opened doors, and by doors I mean the biggest doors you can imagine. 

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One of the so far most successful networking sessions was the ‘Women, Work & Worth’ workshop where I met Charlene (@ceocharlene) who quickly got in touch with me and hired me to take headshots for people who had signed up at General Assembly for one of her workshops. 

Social media plays a huge part as well, and if you really want to you can find some great social groups who plan happy hours and outings on a regular basis. When I first moved to Atlanta I learned about Six Degree Society. It was a bunch of women who came together, some with their own businesses already, others still moping around in their 9-5 (I was one of them and still am). Simply exchanging experiences, getting to know how people went about starting their own business, involving business coaches and what not, was very interesting and valuable input for me. Since then I’ve attended outings like that pretty often and have formed some great business relationships and friendships with some of these ladies.

So, young people, entrepreneurs, designers, and photographers, all I can say is ‘network, network, network’.

My Second Blog Post: The Learning Stage (one of many)

Starting as a graphic design student at a community college in New Jersey, I very quickly found that stock photography can get very expensive. ‘Well,’ I thought,’ it can’t be THAT hard to take some pictures and use them for projects’. I invested in a digital camera and soon found my passion for photography. Animals were the easiest (and also the most beautiful) models and since I was a very active equestrian at the time, I took advantage of the beautiful and magnificent creatures at the barn.

Just sitting in the pasture for hours was not even that terrible. Out came some nice and some not so nice shots, but you don’t learn unless you do. So I kept on going and after about two years, I invested, after a lot of convincing from my now husband, in my first DSLR camera. Now, I had to figure out shutter speed, ISO, aperture, different lenses, and whatnot. It was a little overwhelming at first but, as often, the internet makes everything easy. I googled, read blogs, found tutorials, watched videos, etc. Through my old job, I was able to go to Scott Kelby’s Photoshop World workshop (thanks to one of my best friends @bigjoeski) and it just catapulted my passion for photography to new heights. If you ever get a chance to go to one of those workshops, DO IT!!!!

Always wanting to get better at photographing people, I would bring my camera to random events, birthdays, and farms. I slowly became more and more comfortable taking pictures of people. Pinterest was great for inspiration and I was also able to find some advice on how to tell people what to do and how to awkwardly hold their head in front of the camera in order to show their best side (in German, we say it’s our chocolate side ;) ). 

Today, I love taking head shots of people. If I could just do that all day, that would be great. Hopefully, I’ll get there one day. Until then, let’s just keep on blogging. :)

My First Blog Post: The Awkward Stage

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So… having been at a stage in my life where I feel I have to decide whether to keep rolling with corporate America or just dive in and really focus on my own business, I have submitted my email to so many different business advice sites, I can’t even count it anymore. 

But there is this one that I stumbled upon in my email account. Having had not such a great day, I thought I’d give it a try. Her name is Jenni Maroney (hey  @jennimaroney, here the first post I promised to tag you in ;) ) and she had some great input regarding websites. How bots scan websites and how you can get to be the #1 on the Google list when people are searching for photographers. My web knowledge is limited, but I do know how to figure a few things out here and there. I followed some of her steps while listening to her, and edited some of the meta data and whatnot on my website. One of the first things though, Jenni talked about, was BLOGGING… oh gggaaawwwddddd. I gave blogging a chance a few years back, but did not think or expect people to be interested in reading what I have to say. 

Now, feeling that I have reached this aforementioned weird phase in my life, I have to decide to go left or right. Since I don’t want to always be in the situation where I have to ask an employer for permission to take time off in order to spend a few days with my family in Germany, I have made the decision to give this blogging thing another chance, give those bots something to scan, and boost my website which will hopefully help in bringing in a little more business on the side. 

Be prepared to see and read a little more right here and hopefully you’ll enjoy it. If you have been where I’m at right now, please share some advice. Thank you kindly in advance. :)