20 For 20% More in 2011 - Are you ready?

posted on: January 29, 2011

Over the last year I've been doing quite a bit of individual consulting for other photographers and I've really enjoyed the process. However, I believe there's a better way to do this. A way that's more affordable and provides a support network that doesn't have to always involve me and the premium for my time. As much as I love helping other photographers, I really love working on my own business and being behind the camera just a little bit more... no offense. ;-) So, I'm launching a new program to help make this consulting thing more streamlined, effective, collaborative, and supportive. However, I also know my limits in the time that I can offer, which is why I have to limit this to 20 people. What does it cost, you say? A $20 donation to ThirstRelief.org. Crazy expensive, right? Actually, the expensive part is in the time that we'll be putting in to help each other out- and that's not to be taken lightly. You will be expected to help others, and if you don't, you will be booted out of the program. It's not personal, it's tough love. So- if I haven't scared you away, and you're interested in collaborating on earning 20% more in revenue this year, fill out the form below and let's see where it goes! PS. This is not just for photographers - anyone who owns a small business can apply!! Maybe you know of someone who could benefit from this? Feel free to share the love!

(Note: the form below is hosted on wufoo and your responses will NOT appear on this blog without your permission! The info is all on the down-low, I just wanted to make it easy to fill out right here.)

Greater Lowell Empty Bowls Fundraiser

posted on: January 27, 2011

When I come across an event that supports a mission I believe in and care deeply about, my first thought is always, "How can I help?" I have hands and a heart like everyone else, but this gift of photography seems to be a unique talent that I can offer to help tell a story through imagery, so I volunteer it whenever I really believe it will help make a difference.

In the case of Greater Lowell Empty Bowls, I knew that because this was the first year, it would need to be thoroughly documented in order to provide a sense of the overall experience for people who've never been. Being able to see what the event is like in advance can help people feel comfortable knowing what to expect, which reduces the anxiety of going to a new event where you may not know anyone.

The "empty bowls" were donated by many different people- some were handmade by artists, some were bowls that had never been used from someone's home, some were cute, some were funky, some were simple, and some were crazy. The most unique bowls were definitely the first to be selected and taken home.

I think my favorite part was looking at the bowls people had selected for themselves and wondering what it might have meant to them. ;-)

Once the bowls were selected, people camped out at tables throughout the room and enjoyed unlimited cups of gourmet soups donated by local businesses and organizations specializing in culinary arts. Most people stayed for nearly two hours, meeting other people at a shared table, or just sharing some quality time with family.

Additional funds were raised through a "Chinese Auction" where raffle tickets were sold and buyers could place raffle tickets in bags for items that they wanted. Raffle winners were selected for each item by pulling a ticket from the bag. In the past, I've donated a gift certificate for my services for this kind of auction, but I still have yet to hear from anyone who "won" me, so I decided that my services are best donated by actually documenting the event itself. However, for things like Spinners game tickets, or a jewelry piece, it seems to be a great way to "win" something wonderful.

In the end, all of the money and efforts were going to a great cause - Living Waters Lowell and the Hunger/Homeless Commission of Lowell.

The entire event was made possible because ONE person named Patti, thought it would be a great fundraiser to help strengthen and educate the community about the needs of others within our community. Her effort, combined with the support of a few friends and businesses, made the entire event possible. It's amazing what we can do if we simply decide that we can, and we put in the effort to make it happen. Thank you to everyone who put in the effort and time to help strengthen our community by giving back to those in need.

In the future I hope to spend more time documenting how these funds are used and to tell the stories of those who are helped by efforts like these.

(Technical notes, because these images are being hosted on facebook, some image quality and brightness may be reduced from the original images. To see more from the event, simply click on an image.)

Vermont Apple Orchard Wedding - Erica & Spaulding

posted on: January 20, 2011

I have quite a few weddings from last year that still haven't made it to the blog, but it's just because a lot of my clients like a private first look at their images before I share them with the rest of the world. So here's Erica & Spaulding's beautiful apple orchard wedding that I had the joy of capturing last year! I'll hope to create another post later with all the juicy details, but in the meantime, check out the full slideshow preview of their wedding day! (Press play on the slideshow below to start the preview!)

An Experiment in Film

posted on: January 16, 2011

This holiday I decided I was going to shoot all family memories on film again- just for the creative challenge and fun of it. My tools were a 1979 Olympus OM10 w/ 28mm f/3.5 lens, a 1980 Minolta w/ 50mm f/2.0 lens, a few rolls of expired Kodak NC Portra, a few rolls of expired BW TMax, and some new rolls of Kodak High Definition 800. Below are some of my results, thoughts, and conclusions about this experiment.

My husband, deep in his favorite record store "Encore" in Ann Arbor, MI

Shooting with Film:

I love my old cameras because they are entirely manual focus and manual advance- and the meter functions pretty much only in AV mode and I have to change the ASA rating on the film in order to over or under expose in situations like back-lighting. Using the older cameras means fewer frames per second, needing to prepare for a "moment" in advance by pre-focusing, and taking the time after the image to advance the film. I'm generally a VERY fast focuser and shooter- so there were several times when my patience was tried or I was frustrated that I wasn't able to get the shot I wanted simply because I had to spend the time manually focusing or advancing the film- this part I knew going in and made me really get back to anticipating the moment I wanted. However, I would say I only got about 20% of the shots I REALLY wanted because of the manual aspect of these cameras and film, much of the things I really wanted had to be posed and created so that they could be prepared for in advance. I've really come to embrace being able to seize a moment without needing to be fully prepared for it with digital.

(Mary did this spontaneously before I was fully prepared, so I had to ask her to do it again for the film.)

On the other end of that... I lost an entire roll and a half of film because the film simply DID NOT ADVANCE. Half way into one roll- something must have been bumped off balance, because a perfectly good roll suddenly no longer advanced. I thought I was getting tons of awesome shots and in reality... I ended up with nuthin'. I was PISSED that I had nothing to show for an entire hour of making my sister and her boyfriend freezing cold and even having them lay their heads directly in the snow for a full 10 minutes- which they were not too happy about. Another strike against film- or against that camera I was using. Not to mention I was limited by the ISO that I had in my camera- which meant I had to use flash when I was indoors with 400 speed film before I could switch to my 800 speed film... either that or waste the rest of the 400 speed roll in order to move on quicker to the 800 speed, which I did once over the experiment. Strike 3 against film.

(They went up the hill 5 times in order for me to get the action shot I wanted. The film stopped advancing after this series.)

Developing Film:

Next comes the proofing. I still have to pay to send, or spend gas, to physically drop off and pick up my film with a processing center and hope that they take good care of it. Each lab processor has a different eye for color and exposure- which can be adjusted when they are developing and/or creating the final output from the film. If you can always get the same person to work on your film- that's awesome, but most often, unless you're working with a tiny lab or a huge lab that can provide you with your own dedicated developer, you get a lab that has different people with different preferences working on your film at any given time.

(An interesting red streak during exposure - would not have been so cool if it was over a bride's face as she walked down the aisle.)

Since I generally have my film scanned to disc, I also have to hope they don't get any dust on the scan or film. Now, since I'm a cheapass when it comes to experimental projects, I just went for Costco- who usually does a great job and keeps the dust to a minimum while letting their negatives hang to dry. I still had issues with the scans produced from the film, but they really weren't any worse than some of the professional labs I've worked with in the past when I used film regularly.

(Nope, Rob doesn't have his nose pierced, that's a dust spot on the scan of the negative.)

What did suck was that something was either wrong with some of the film or something happened in the developing process itself to create crazy colors and light patterns on the film. Granted, some of the film was expired and it was expected that the results be "off" but this was also the case on some of the "new" film. We may get dust spots on digital, but you can't easily fix this kind of color banding problem when the actual film negative has been destroyed or altered in some way. Strike 4 against film.

(Carol needed to convert this image of her grandson into BW just to enjoy it, because the color developing was so terrible on the negative.)

Editing Film:

Then came culling images on the computer. I definitely shot less- WAY less than I normally would- which makes editing super easy. I can just edit out the bad instead of editing in the good. My expected keep rate with film is around 80%, while my expected keep rate with digital is around 25% of what I shoot. However, I definitely get MUCH better candid moments when I'm working in digital because I'm going for those least expected in-between moments that are very hard to capture when the film needs to advance at a rate less than 3fps. Strike 5 against film.

Then there were the white balance and exposure controls. You're limited by the gamut of the film itself and whatever colors it can give you. While you can choose your film for its color profile and even use filters to alter the color at any given time, you're still limited by the color gamut available in the chemicals of the film itself. With RAW, your gamut and exposure range is at least 10 times or greater than that of film- there's just no comparison the brightness and saturation that you can achieve in digital compared to film. Strike 5 against film.

(These colors do not reflect their real-life vibrancy, and there's not much I can do about that in post-production without adding something that wasn't originally there.)


For me personally, this holiday experiment in using film has renewed my love for digital photography. I don't mind film for unpredictable results when creating personal artwork or on the side as an added bonus, but it has reminded me that I will not rely on it for a client who is paying for consistent and reliable results. I will not put my clients in a situation in which my choice to use film has resulted in a lack of coverage or an undesirable outcome. I have so much more control with digital - for better or worse - and when it comes to serving my clients in the best possible way, I wouldn't want to give them anything less than my personal best.

(Thanks to all my family for trusting me with the holiday memories while I take uncalculated risks to screw them up for my own artistic experimentation, and to Brian and Mary- hopefully we can do it again, but in digital next time!)

Get Mentored & Save Lives

posted on: January 13, 2011

*Please note this auction has ended. Thanks to all who participated in the bidding- even if you didn't win, you helped donate more to Thirst Relief by simply participating! If you'll be at WPPI, I can't wait to see you there! Watch PhotoLovecat.com for the Early Bird Happy Hour event! To my winning bidder- thank you so much for your generous donation to bettering the health of our planet! Your winning donation will provide clean water for 225 people!! That's amazing!

The Thirst Relief Mentor Auction is one of my favorite fundraisers to participate in because it creates a win-win-win situation for all involved. The bidder gets a great mentor for a donation that saves lives, the mentor gets to meet someone who cares about the world at large and help strengthen them in their pursuit of living a passionate life, and Thirst Relief gets the funding they need to deliver clean water to areas of greatest need. Watch the video below to learn more about how Thirst Relief uses your donation:

The auction ends tonight.

I'm participating as a mentor again this year, and I'm offering a year of mentoring ($1200 value) to help you define, refine, and move forward in whatever ways you need to this year. I've seen my mentees from previous years flourish and thrive after our time together, and while I know they did the hard work on their own, sometimes it was just a little bit of encouragement and advice that helped unlock the door they needed to walk through to get to the next step in their business.

Here are a few of the ways in which I've helped mentor others:
- Edited portfolios to showcase the most unique and highest quality work
- Defined unique branding elements that reflect an artist's individual tastes
- Identified niche markets and opportunities to strengthen presence in those markets
- Streamlined email communications by establishing appropriate filters for content
- Organized and created life + business calendars that reflect larger priorities
- Reorganized pricing structures to work with individual sales style preferences
- Set up pricing structures to increase profitability and exceed revenue goals
- Advised businesses and non-profits on social media and direct mail marketing campaigns that increased revenue and client/patron engagement
- Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals to help keep businesses moving forward and focusing on the larger goals to prioritize everyday tasks
- Helped businesses identify appropriate outsourcing solutions based on needs
- Revitalized two different failing businesses by creating sustainable systems

If you'd like my help with any of the above, or more, click on the image below:


There are MANY amazing mentors in this auction, so if you get outbid above your budget (and yes, I believe we should have budgets for our giving), take those dollars you were willing to donate for one person's time and donate it to another!! Just because you don't know them, doesn't mean they don't have something amazing to offer- the world works in mysterious ways and you may just end up with someone perfect for you! To see all the mentors by alphabetical order, which is also the order in which the auctions end [CLICK HERE]!

LOVE IT: Boston Flash Mob Wedding

posted on: January 12, 2011

This totally combines ALL of my favorite things: singing, public displays of affection, element of surprise, wedding loveliness, theatrical display of awesomeness, and LOVE... rock on John & Caroline. You are officially the most awesome couple to ever get married at the Prudential Center!! And the officiant's speech?! I'm seriously in tears right now....

... if you plan to do this for your wedding... please call me so I can get some amazing photos of it!!

Memories of Misty

posted on: January 9, 2011

Misty, Apricot Colored Teacup Poodle
Misty died on Wednesday, at the wise old age of 15. She was an apricot colored teacup poodle who was originally the constant companion and source of joy for my great aunt, Dorcas (definitely not a name you hear anymore!) When Dorcas passed, my mom took over care of Misty, but quickly realized that Misty needed more attention than she could give on a regular basis. When I moved to Terre Haute, I was working entirely from home and in a town fairly isolated from everyone I knew, so I decided to care for Misty and thought it would be a great way to get me out of the loft at least once a day. She definitely made walks in downtown Terre Haute a little more exciting as people giggled in delight when they saw her prancing down the street.

Misty brought a lot of wonderful and unexpected things into my life. Because she's the kind of dog that people can't pass by without commenting on, she became an easy way to meet new people, which really helped me get to know my neighbors and neighborhood better. Of course the poop scoop clean-up was never a glamorous job, but it just comes with the territory. When we moved to Lowell, we moved into one of the only places that allowed renters to have dogs. We met a TON of dog owners, but unfortunately we also found out that Misty isn't so great with other dogs and because she had no idea how tiny she was, this resulted in more damage to her than anything else. Misty loved people- especially old ones, hated dogs & children, and could care less about cats. She also loved to model and helped me test different lighting styles- but also knew when it was time to quit.
Misty - Teacup Poodle

If you've ever read Marley & Me- you know what dog ownership can be like at all extremes. Misty wasn't a big dog, which meant I was often able to take her places I might not have been otherwise, but it also meant that she compensated for her petite size by producing a fierce bark. Somewhere along the line we noticed that she started to lose her hearing. She would bark when nothing was there, and then she wouldn't hear us when we called for her. Other challenging memories include the time she ate some leaves off a friend's porch and couldn't walk straight for more than three steps, the time a friend's dog took a chunk out of her side, the time a lady threatened to call the police because I left her in the car with the window down for 2 minutes, the hair cuts which were never pleasant for her or the groomers, the dingleberries, the potty pads she needed as she got older and couldn't be bothered to wait and go outside, her terrifying fear of being kept in a room without human contact, her need to have something substantially soft and adequate to lay on, and her desire to held by anyone just to get warmer.
Poodle Head, Human Feet

I never would have chosen a small dog myself- I'm more of a big dog person- particularly of the lab variety (minus the shedding). I love the dogs which are always friendly and happy to see you, even if you accidentally left them out in the freezing cold overnight (sorry Bailey!) Misty is not that kind of dog. Instead, she would express her anger or distaste very clearly if you did something she didn't agree with. She was pretty judgemental for a dog- much like her original owner once was. However, she also taught us a lot of things about ourselves and helped us become better people in the process. She was a constant reminder of how to live a better life by making sure that we consistently woke up at a reasonable time, traveled a little less and got home in time for dinner, made sure we got outside to enjoy nature at least twice a day, had stronger friendships, were kind and inviting to strangers, got our hair cut at least as often as she did, communicated more in our marriage about responsibilities and expectations, and that we should never be ashamed to dance around in circles when we're really excited about something...

Thank you Misty for coming into our lives and helping us learn how to live more fully and joyfully. ;-)

Planning for 2011 - The Time is Now

posted on: January 2, 2011

I consider myself to be a pretty fearless person.

After all, I don't mind: going swimming on a beach where sharks have struck before, jumping off a cliff while showing my chunky body in a swimsuit on youtube, scaling a rock climbing wall even if I don't have the right shoes on, letting people see my house when it's not the cleanest it could be, going out in public when I look less than stellar, sharing my ideas even if they get criticized, trying a food I can't pronounce and have never seen before, dancing while I'm waiting in line, bursting into song when a good tune pops into my head, or being the first to offer a hug to a complete stranger. Yeah, I think that makes me pretty fearless...

Except that there are still some areas in my life where I'm holding on to a bit of fear.

It's time to take the plunge!
(video taken by Leigh Miller, at the Rockhouse in Jamaica)

Money. That lovely bartering system made of paper, metal, and plastic that we've devised as a society to help us trade goods and services. As I mentioned in my 2010 year end review, money no longer controls me... but that was only half true. While I no longer have an emotional attachment to money, it can still hold me back from doing something really risky. Those student loans will never go away on their own- nope, not even declaring bankruptcy will take care of those bad boys (and I'm not advocating that bankruptcy should ever be an option.) While I managed to pay off my car loan in 2010, I did not manage to make significant progress on my other debt. Debt that has been lingering since those lovely college days of overspending with the promise of making it all back when I got a "real job" and the early days of starting my business when buying that expensive lens today was OK because it was going to be paid off with the next job.

Problem was, I was making the money I needed, but I wasn't paying things off.

I can't even really tell you why I was only paying minimums on my credit cards when I was able to afford more, other than I always wanted to have the most fun I could at any given point in time. I didn't want to subscribe to the idea that life should be enjoyed after I was wildly successful- it should be enjoyed right now in whatever way possible. I wasn't thinking about the longer term things in life like buying a house or preparing for a comfy retirement- I was fully invested in living right NOW to the fullest enjoyment and indulgence without a care for what tomorrow brings. After all, the world could end tomorrow- why stress about it today?

Who wants to pinch pennies when you can attend a rock concert in Norway?!

Here's a little something from Sondre Lerche, who I was able to see play live in... you guessed it... Norway. ;-)

It wasn't until I dreamed a crazy big dream that my priorities started to change.

Suddenly life wasn't about me being able to indulge every moment in whatever I wanted. My hedonistic ways shifted to a philanthropic vision of helping others find the happiness and joy that I've been able to find. No, not through racking up credit cards and only paying minimums, but from feeling an internal sense of success and confidence in the things that make each person unique. So far, I've been fairly successful with this "mission" by utilizing several outlets:
photolovecat.com - to help photographers be more successful as small business owners
lowellhandmade.com - to help support artists and creatives in my local community
• business coaching and mentoring other artists and small business owners to develop sustainable profitability and make smarter business decisions
• teaching and mentoring students in low-income areas to find confidence in their unique gifts and talents through the creative arts
By many standards, I've already achieved a certain amount of success toward my goal... but I'm not satisfied.

I know I'm capable of doing more and helping more people.

One of my great big crazy dreams is to create a creative arts community center in my lovely town of Lowell, MA. A place where people from all walks of life and backgrounds can come together to take a class in the arts and develop their personal creativity to become a more confident and empowered person. We have a lot of the ingredients needed to make it happen already- but right now people are buckling down just trying to keep the awesome culture our city already has going strong through rough financial times. While I know there are other people who share my mission and are on board with it, I also know

I am the only one who has the drive, desire, and total vision to actually pull everything together to make it happen.

The only thing holding ME back is that I don't have the finances to make it happen because of all that fun I've been having when I haven't been blogging. In order to get the finances to make it happen- like a bank loan or venture capital investments, I need to show that I actually am very capable of being responsible with money. Which starts with paying off my debt. How much? Five figures worth of debt. *gulp* Yep, just thinking about the amount makes me want to throw up a little. You know what's even crazier? I want to pay it off in ONE year.

I'm just a little bit terrified that I'll fail.

After entering the numbers in the CNN Debt Reduction Planner Calculator, I received a strategic plan for paying off the debt in the amount of time I specified: one year. Oh boy. This is not for the weak, that's for sure. It's also not for people who love their luxuries, as I have over the last few years. It's for the disciplined, the frugal, and the people who love to just collect money and watch the numbers stack up in their accounts.

It's for the Warren Buffets of the world.

To this date, I have not been one of these people. However, I know ordinary people who have done it, and I know that I have their support. I know what adjustments they made and how it forced them to be creative with what they already had. If Warren Buffet could live out of his car when he wanted to save money by not paying rent, than I can make more lattes at home and eat out less. But I'm not going to give up my 69¢ wash & fold laundry dude- because he actually saves me money! Just knowing that this will stretch my creativity and force me out of my comfort zone makes me more excited to do it. I no longer see it as a restraint on my fun, but rather an an adventure in doing even more with even less.

Bring. It. On.

I am publicly declaring that this journey starts now and I will be documenting my successes and challenges along the way. If you would like to join me on this journey- please comment and declare your intentions as well- or just let me know that I have your encouragement. Together we can make this happen. Together we will challenge ourselves to have more financial freedom by doing more with less. Let's do this. Let's light some fireworks:

One more thing before I go- I have a second crazy big goal for this year as well: To help 20 small businesses earn 20% more revenue in 2011. I'll share more about that later, but I wanted to make sure you knew that it was coming. ;-)

Popular Posts

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Ask Anne All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger