Posts tagged ‘business’

November 18, 2010

practicing peace

by Hannah

“No” Seth screeches again. This time there is no obvious reason. I lift him up- my arms have gotten stronger as he’s grown- and breathe deeply before calmly asking him (once again) what the matter is. This happens so very often throughout the day lately- the breakdowns interspersed with the joy and wonder of this little being. We’ve been battling teething pain and the frustrations that accompany toddlerhood. He wants to do everything, yet he can’t. He wants independence, and yet he afraid of it too. Aren’t we all?
My patience level seems to correspond closely with my sleep patterns, which have not exactly been ideal. Aside from that, though, I have found that the times I get most frusterated are when I’m interrupted from something else I’m doing- or when I’m trying to focus on more than one thing at once.
I long to be a pillar of calm and peace in Seth’ life, never yielding to frustration. I want to respond to everything with love and gentle discipline, but sometimes I feel my peace slipping. Okay yeah- sometimes it completely flies out the window and I break down right along with him.

Peace is not something I feel often right now. I am always, always being pulled in multiple directions. I am mom and business owner. Working from home while raising children is… well, a bit crazy sometimes.

In the midst of it all, I am trying to make sure that I am truly present for my son when he needs me. While my work and home lives are so deeply intertwined, I am intentionally separating them when I can- taking some time to give each my undivided attention for a while, on a regular basis.
Peace is not going to come naturally here, but I am learning to create it- to practice it and incorporate it into my home, my life, my parenting and my business. A huge part of this is being present in each moment. I am a planner, and I need organization to function, but I find that if I take it to an extreme and am constantly looking ahead orĀ  mentally reviewing my to-do list, I get anxious.
So when I’m working, I’m working, and when I’m with my family, I try to put work out of my mind and focus on them. Then I no longer feel so pulled, so divided. I can handle each situation more calmly and rationally because I am not simultaneously trying to focus on something unrelated.

There is more peace everywhere in my world.

October 10, 2010

It’s my Biz Birthday!

by Hannah

{images from my first paid session, two years ago today}

It’s been two years since I started my photography business. I so amazed and thankful for this journey, for that is really what it has been. I wrote about it this morning over here on my business blog.

To celebrate, I am offering free shipping on U.S. orders, and half off international, from my Etsy shop for the remainder of October!


Also, it’s 10.10.10 today (as I’m sure you are aware), and people everywhere are posting a picture taken today to a special Flickr group. Click below to hear more:

October 10th, A most auspicious day

Oh, and happy birthday (yesterday) to John Lennon! My favorite: Imagine.

September 19, 2010

Passion {aka: how i do what i do}

by Hannah

me and my pentax

I have been asked how I do all that I do, how I manage to run a business, write a blog, and care for a child and home all at once. It is such a difficult question for me to answer, because I don’t have a method. In fact, to be completely honest, I don’t always feel like I am handling it as well as I’d like to. It is hard sometimes. I get frustrated, and I have breakdowns. I wonder why I have chosen this harder path. But those thoughts only last a moment. Then I remember- I know the answer already.

It’s because I have to.

That is the only reason I can even begin to handle it all. It isn’t because I’m a super-mom, or super-anything. It isn’t because of me at all. It is because I am doing what I am passionate about.

Photography really chose me, in a way. When I was doing other things, it grabbed my heart and suddenly I no longer feel complete unless I am capturing the beauty I see. It is my calling, my vocation, and I just can’t not do it. That passion is what keeps me pressing on when things are hard, when it seems impossible to balance it all, even when I am questioning myself and my abilities. Without passion, a creative business will surely fail. With it, I truly believe that it cannot fail.

I almost went down a very different path. I almost bought into the notion that I wouldn’t be able to make a life in photography, and I was pursuing a much more “practical” occupation. In that first semester of graduate study, I was moderately interested in some of the subject matter, but overall, I couldn’t really picture myself in that career. It didn’t spark my passion. I knew that I was pushing my true calling aside, mostly due to fear.
It was motherhood that snapped me out of it. Something about bringing this miraculous little person into the world made me realize how precious life really is, how we only get one, and I knew that I had to follow my heart. I wanted my children to see that modeled- I wanted be an example of living passionately.

I read this quote years ago, and it has stuck with me:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Gil Bailie

I believe that we ought to change the way we choose our vocations, our life work. If we were to find what makes us come alive, rather than allowing our choices to be driven by money, or practicality, the world truly would be a better place. People would be happier. What good is material wealth if your soul is being suffocated? People who are passionate about what they do, usually care less about money. If you are happy already, you don’t feel you need “stuff” to make you happy. And yet, coincidentally, it is often the people who are passionate about their life’s work who are most financially successful at it. Because passion is an energy force that drives us forward and breeds innovation. It does not allow for giving up. It does not care what anyone else thinks, and it does not take no for answer.

That is my answer. It is not that I am a master of balance. It is that I am driven by passion, and therefore I just have to make it all work, somehow. It often feels more like juggling than balancing, and sometimes I drop a ball or two. But the passion makes up for all the difficulty- in fact, I often forget that it is “supposed” to be so hard, because I am too busy enjoying it all. Sure, I have my moments, but overall I have never been happier or felt more fulfilled.

September 3, 2010

focusing… {a few thoughts on business.}

by Hannah

{I had this ready to post yesterday, but was having some technical difficulties with WordPress. All is well again today though.}

When my thoughts are chaotic and I’m overwhelmed, getting outside works wonders for me. It is so simple, and so powerful. We have this park we love to go to, just down the road from our house. It’s huge, with a few different playgrounds, small lakes, trails, and even a nature center. We all love it, and when we come back my head is always clearer, and I’m calmer and can focus so much more easily.

And my focus lately? Well, I have been pretty consumed with educating myself about everything small-business related. I truly believe that the difference between success and failure as a creative entrepreneur lies in good business sense. I am so thankful that there is a thriving movement of creative business owners who have chosen careers they are passionate about, and therefore there is a wealth of business knowledge available targeted especially for people with no previous business education.
These are not the things that come naturally for me. This creative mind does not do so well with numbers and such- I did okay in math, but it always took a ton of effort just to get to “okay”, and I certainly never enjoyed it. Fortunately, there are people who are absolutely passionate about numbers, and marketing, and spreadsheets, and they are willing to share their expertise. {bless their hearts, seriously.} I have found so many wonderful resources- some even tailored specifically to photographers. One day I will compile a list to share here.

I am convinced that with enough determination and motivation (and trust me, I don’t think it is possible to be more determined and motivated than I am right now), I can learn all this business stuff, and rock it, despite my right-brainedness.

So, I’m jumping in…

August 6, 2010

Thoughts on Watermarking, Copyright, and Creative Ownership

by Hannah

see. beauty.

Creative ownership is, to put it lightly, a pretty touchy subject among professional photographers. Many have very strong opinions about watermarking, and about use of images without permission, etc. I have read and observed a lot, and have come to my own conclusions as far as what I believe is best for my business, but first I want to cover a few key points.

First, the photographer is the owner of their work. It is his or her art- yes even if the subject is you, even if you hired the photographer to take the photograph- you still need to get permission to use or reproduce said photograph. Usually that permission comes in the form of purchasing a print or digital file. I see photographers online all the time with the same story about a client who bought a 5×7 and scanned it and got 8×10’s made from the scan at your local superstore (no names named, but one with a smiley face logo comes to mind..), or the client who right-clicked or took a screenshot of a photograph on the photographer’s blog, and posted it on Facebook or printed it out. Technology has made it so very easy to do those things- so easy, in fact, that many people don’t even know that they shouldn’t, and especially don’t know why they shouldn’t.
I am not pointing any fingers here, I promise (so far I have had stellar clients and have not had these things happen, as far as I know).

There are a few reasons why doing the above is not okay. For one thing, it is bad for the photographer’s business. There is the obvious- you’re saving money- so your photographer is not making money from the sale. The cost of doing business for a photographer is much higher than many people realize, and we rely on sales in order to make money (dug, I know, but a reminder nonetheless). A lot of hard work and creativity goes into running a creative business, and the chief complaint I hear from many photographers is that do not feel they are respected as an artist and professional.
The not-so-obvious downside is the quality of the reproduction. Professional photographers work with professional labs, usually carefully chosen for their exceptional image quality. The smiley-face-logo superstore I mentioned does not provide quality that meets the standard of most custom photography businesses, and as a photographer I would not want a potential client to see my images printed poorly, as that could reflect on my work. I know that many other photographer feel exactly the same way. Not only that, but we want you to have amazing quality. Isn’t that why you hired us to begin with?

As far as posting images online without permission- I know this is where a lot of people just have no idea. The rule of thumb I suggest is, just ask if its okay.
For my business, personally, I want my clients to post their photos on Facebook, etc. I make low-resolution digital files available for purchase, and include them in all of my print collections. But, I ask that a copyright notice and link to website is always included with the posted photo. I, along with most of my fellow photographers, rely primarily on word-of-mouth to lead people to my business. If no credit is given, no business is gained.

Here is where we get into watermarking. As you may have noticed, I used to watermark every single image I posted online. I didn’t ever really like doing it, but I wanted to deter people from using my images without permission, and solve the issue of posting without giving me credit. Many professional photographers watermark, and I completely understand why, but have chosen not to do so anymore. One day I was perusing another photographer’s blog. She takes absolutely gorgeous photographs, and yet as I scrolled down, the watermark was the first thing I noticed about every image. It made me sad. This is my career and the source of my income, but it is, first and foremost, my art. I want people to see and enjoy it. So I decided to stop watermarking, to ask clients to post credits as I mentioned above, and to hope that people will respect me enough not to steal my work, to ask permission, and to give credit where credit is due. I know that not everyone will, but if someone wants to steal, they will anyway- watermark or not.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this- it is just something I have been thinking about lately.

Okay, now back to our regular August Break programming… : )

July 21, 2010

Simple, yet revolutionary

by Hannah

it caught my eye... {going places…}

I had sort of an epiphany this week.
I was reading a local arts magazine that I picked up at my favorite vegan restaurant, and I came a across a full page ad for another local photographer. This photographer is obviously getting a lot of the opportunities that I really want- working with local artists and musicians and businesses. I will be honest with you here- business has been pretty slow. I feel like I am still in the process of starting my business, even though I will be celebrating 2 years officially in October. I have been frustrated and discouraged. This is my passion. Photography is what I do- it is part of me. I want this passion to also help to support my family, and I know that it will if I work hard at it.
So, back to “the other photographer”… I was so ashamed at myself for the twinge of jealousy I felt as I read her ad and browsed her website. I am ashamed to admit that found myself comparing our work in my mind, but then I just stopped myself, and thought about it. She is very talented, and she is just in the process of starting out too. It is clear that our styles are very, very different, and would appeal to different clients. Jealousy gone, I just feel a kinship with her, because she and I are in the same boat- owning a creative business in an economy that is no longer thriving the way it was, in a society that (as a whole) does not value art- especially photography- the way it deserves.
Reflecting on my emotional reaction to all of this, suddenly something just clicked for me.
I have to be different.
When I first set out on this journey, I looked at the work of other photographers, gathered ideas from what I saw others thriving in, and stored up knowledge from online photography forums. I tried to figure out how to emulate what I saw. Many others seemed to be doing the same- there is a similar look that many photographers have, especially for babies and children. They tend to follow certain trends. Their business models are all pretty similar as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the things that they’re doing, and obviously they each have their own creative voice (so I’m not saying that they’re all just copying each other- there is really a massive amount of talent in each one of the businesses I’m referring to), but I never really connected to that way of doing things.
I was mistakenly thinking that I should style by business and my work a certain way to attract clients, and that success in this business had a specific formula to be followed, when really I need to be myself, to stand out as offering something truly unique. This is what people are drawn to, and not just any people, but the people who are the clients that I want- not just someone who wants some pictures taken, but someone who loves my style and wants me to create art for them.
For me, that uniqueness comes in the form of natural, unposed sessions that highlight the raw beauty of my subject. Very few props. Natural light. Locations that inspire. Some of the trends out there- uber-posed newborns and faux wood floor panels for instance- are just not me.
Another huge part of it is about my love for film. It is how my love for photography began- it still feels more real and tangible to me, and some of my favorite pictures I have ever taken have been with film. I have had the idea in my mind for a while to use film for my professional work, but I didn’t pursue it- because I didn’t think anyone else was anymore. Not only do I not care what everyone else is doing now, but after a little research, it turns out that there are some absolutely amazing professional photographers out there shooting 100% film (for weddings and portraits, not only fine art work). In fact, a few of them have been some of my biggest inspirations for a while now and I just didn’t realize they weren’t using digital. Shooting in a combination of both formats, I believe, will make me a better and more well-rounded photographer, and will add a unique aspect to my business that will set me apart from “the competition” (though I really dislike referring to fellow artists that way- I suppose because I am very non-competitive by nature…)
So that is the simple, revolutionary thought that dawned on me- that the key to success in running an independent business is to be different from everyone else, to stand apart, and allow my personality and passions to shape my brand into something unique and lasting.

{p.s.~ The super talented and successful film photographers I referred to include Jose Villa, Jonathan Canlas, Brandon and Brian Wright, Tracey Tesmer, and the photographer whose work first inspired me to do portraits and weddings- Elizabeth Messina.}

March 14, 2010

Some reflections on motherhood and business

by Hannah

In 2008, I found out I was going to become a mother, and I started an independent portrait photography business. I had no idea what exactly I was getting into with either of them.

me & seth no.2

I love to take take pictures, and I was strongly convicted that I must do something I am passionate about. It was a very slow start- I had one paid job that year, and only a few in 2009. Only now I am delving into what it really means to be a business owner and do so successfully. There is so much more to this than knowing how to take good pictures. But in learning all of these other things I am empowering myself to make a living from what I love to do. It’s absolutely priceless. I am even finding that I am really enjoying some parts the process, like branding and creative marketing {finances and legal forms, not as much- they’re sort of necessary evils}. So while by business was technically founded in 2008, 2010 is really the year it is becoming something. It is exciting and scary and wonderful.

The hardest part is finding a balance between this work and raising Seth. Oh yes I mentioned that I had no idea what I was getting into with this as well, right? I know it’s practically a cliche, but it’s true- becoming a parent changed everything. In a really spectacular way though. An unexpected way. This kid is basically the center of my world. He was what made me realize I needed to do what I love in the first place. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, I would have continued my work at the library, and finished my library science degree. I wouldn’t have been unhappy, not at all, but I wouldn’t have been doing what I was really meant to do. Especially after he was born, I saw so clearly what my priorities should be and how precious every moment of life is.

Taking care of a baby (now almost a toddler) and venturing into the world of independent business at the same time has been a crazy journey. Sometimes it seems too challenging, and I wonder if I’ll be ableĀ  to handle it. But I will be able to. I am handling it. One day at a time, with the love and support of my husband and family, this dream is becoming reality. I am learning to find the delicate balance each day between each important role in my life- mom, wife, daughter, artist, business owner, and woman. I think finding that balance will be a lifelong journey, but definitely one worth embarking on.

me & seth no.1

February 17, 2010


by Hannah

We went to the Garlic Festival in Delray on Valentine’s Day. It was cold and very crowded, but we had a good time. There were a lot of artist booths and we bought Seth this hat, which obviously will still fit him next year.

garlic fest 1

garlic fest 2

There were rides, too. It was kind of a mini fair, with much better food. I ate roasted garlic pizza and a mushroom stuffed with garlic, spinach and artichoke, and Manny had a wonderful garlic curry chicken kebab.

garlic fest 3

I took these in the back yard at Manny’s parents’ house yesterday. Jackie has pretty things hanging from her tree.

little bells


One of Seth’s favorite activities of late is bubbles. He thinks they are just great. And I think he’s just great.



We are going on our trip to Massachusetts in one week. Today we bought an umbrella stroller- basically one that folds up nice and compactly rather than our big beastly one, for the airports and whatnot. I found this great website with lots of tips for traveling with babies and toddlers. (Is Seth a baby or toddler now… what is the definition of toddler…one? two? walking?… I’m not sure.) I’ll admit I’ve been sort of nervous about the traveling part with him at this age. So often he just wants to get down and crawl around and move. It should be interesting….

We have some shopping to do for warmer attire for our trip. Hopefully we’ll hit some good sales.

I’m working on a new website for my business, which I am very excited about. I am really hoping I can manage to get it up and running before we leave. I feel like this will be more professional looking and more of a representation of who I am as a photographer.

This post was a bit random, but that’s where my mind is right now. I almost started listing out all the things that are on my mind that I need to do, but I will spare you that. Goodnight all.

January 26, 2010

I have an idea

by Hannah

I want our home to really become my studio. I want to be able to meet with clients for consultations and proofing right here, where my computer is. I picture my work on canvases on the walls and beautiful welcoming decor and little accents that make people feel that they are not intruding- that our house is meant for guests. I also have an idea in my head for an outdoor studio setup in the back yard. I just need some really great outdoor cushions, a large sheet, maybe a hammock…
I love the idea of people coming to view their photos here, us offering coffee or tea in beautiful whimsical mugs, a relaxed and personal atmosphere of creativity rather than only offering online proofing.
I think it would work. I think it would be great. More to come.

November 24, 2009

Love and New Life

by Hannah

I had the opportunity yesterday to do a shoot with Stacey, Chris, and their adorable six-week-old son, Josiah. It was a very overcast day at the beach, but we got some great shots anyway! Here’s a preview…

(I’m not sure why my photos have been uploading to Blogger at such a low quality- in reality they are much clearer than this.)

New families are probably one of my favorite subjects ever- there is so much love and joy, and newborn babes are so sweet! I had a lot of fun working with this precious family.

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