Changing up Styles : How to Get Out of Your Creative Rut

All artists know the term "creative rut" It is like a dagger into our hands when we think of how close it can come to either pushing us off the edge to fall, or in turn allowing us to fly once we reach that point. It is all in how you play the game.

I, as many artists, get into a creative rut every so often simply because I need a change here and there. Shooting boudoir and underwater is beyond satisfying, however, it also needs to be kicked up a notch to get the voices in my head to relax.

  • Should I go darker in style
  • Should I add more props underwater
  • Should I change genres completely

Instead of trying to change how I am shooting, I simply change who I am shooting in order to see a different perspective in posing.  It helps feed the creative soul in how we see the movements of the human body, how we interact with the client, and how the lighting can be changed when the subject is more suited for a different look.

I contacted a photographer friend Andres to come help me out and shoot a little male boudoir in order to "see the light" in a new way. I wanted to free myself from being bound to the same posing I have come accustom to in the studio and play with the light in a brand new way for myself.

Sure I could have shot a female model, but that would not have pushed me to change how I posed. I needed to change up the current playlist of looks and break into a more powerful way of movements.

Andres was exactly what I needed. He was filled with energy and movement that brought something new to the studio. Along the way of trying to creatively reinvent how I shoot, I realized I also am completely in love with shooting men. I have shot men and couples in the past but forgot how different and fun it can be. I am fascinated with story telling and progression in posing so this session did it all.

  Yes, this will be happening more! So come down to the studio guys, boudoir is not just for women.

 

 

 

 

 

"Why do I Never See Curvy Women in Your Images?"

A few months ago I saw a post from a woman who said she wished she would see more curvy women in boudoir photography. I was taken back a bit knowing many, if not all the boudoir photographers I know, shoot all shapes and sizes.

However this did make me realize that there are not as many model releases for these images. In my industry, many (again if not all) will not post any of your images without a signed model release. This assures you as the client that your images are not fair game in our portfolios. The level of respect for your images is at my top priority.

With that said I LOVE getting model releases simply so we both can show off to the world how amazing you look! So I invited Ms J to my studio and she was excited to sign a model release in order to show others the empowering feeling for a curvy woman to have shot a boudoir session.

Every woman (and man for that matter) should feel confident in their own skin. I was not only excited to shoot with her, but also to shoot on the new brick wall of the Palatka studio. She brought her A game to the shoot and had this vixen stare into the camera that could make anyone blush!

A Few Of My Favorite Things - A Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers

Married to a creative? Is this your first holiday together with a photographer? Perhaps your son or daughter is an enthusiast but you have no idea what gear they need? Well here are a few of my favorite things from this past year (I either have or will be getting) that I believe will help your holiday shopping for your special someone.

Lume Cube - Lighting


First up the Lume Cube ! They are the smallest, most versatile lights I have come across. Not only do they work on land but for your underwater photographers and videographers these nifty little lights will be the gleam in their eyes when they open that box. 

The Specs
ONE 1.5" CUBE
150 LUX @ 9FT. (3M)
FULLY WATERPROOF UP TO 100 FEET
1/4 20 MOUNT ON BOTTOM
RECHARGEABLE VIA USB CABLE
BLUETOOTH READY
2+ HOURS BATTERY LIFE AT 50%
EASILY MOUNTABLE WITH ALL GOPRO AND ACTION CAMERAS
CONSTANT LIGHT AND FLASH MODES
OPTICAL SLAVE CAPABILITY
DURABLE CASING
SMARTPHONE APP TO CONTROL REMOTELY VIA BLUETOOTH
FIRST EVER OFF-CAMERA FLASH FOR MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY
SYNC AND CONTROL MULTIPLE LIGHTS SIMULTANEOUSLY
QUICK CHARGE
COLOR TEMPERATURE 6000K
COMPATIBLE WITH IPHONE & ANDROID PHONES
BUTTONS TO CONTROL LIGHT OUTPUT MANUALLY

For you underwater shooters these are so small and compact they can be used on a PVC rig at various angles.  The best part is the price so affordable that will not make you have to take out a loan!

They are currently having a Kickstarter page for some amazing deals on the Life Lite.

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.35.51 PM.png

 

 

Gear Eye - Gear Reminder

Ok so this is one in the works for 2017. I came across this gadget a few weeks ago and thought it would be right up my alley. When you are working in varoius studio locations (for me the downtown studio, on location for clients as well as the underwater studio) Gear Eye will help take the stress of worrying if you may forget something for that time sensitive shoot. "It enables you to organize your most important equipment into gig specific groups - so that you always have exactly what you need when you need it. This way, you can quickly and easily make sure you have what you need for today’s studio session (not last week’s beach shoot)." states the site. They have a kick starter page that will help you save for the holidays. Gear Eye

 

Business - Books

One of the essentials if you are a boudoir shooter is understanding the mindset of your clientele. "Body and Soul" by Susan Eckert is "unique and emotionally intelligent approach to building a sustainable boudoir photography business. The higher-level strategies within these pages will enable photographers to move beyond the task of simply making pretty pictures to greater goals, such as understanding the emotional journey of the boudoir process, building meaningful, long-term relationships with clients, and creating a referral engine to sustain your business." You can find the book here

                                                                                                               Image Courtesy of Don Giannatti.

                                                                                                               Image Courtesy of Don Giannatti.

 

Marketing - Templates

While I strive to be known as unique for my photography and editing, there are just some things I have to outsource in order to keep up with the heavy demands of owning a business. Design Aglow is a fantastic site to help ease the marketing weight off your shoulders. The user friendly custom templates have saved me hours of designing from scratch.  Everything from forms, marketing templates, education to workflow can be found in the one stop shop.

 

 

These are just a few of my favorite things from this year I have come across. If you have something amazing you think others will want to know about list them in the comments! You never know what other photographers are dying to see!

 

Photographer Turns The Camera On Herself

I was not born into the selfie nation where we had cell phones at our fingertips to document our days. If I wanted a picture I had to wait a few days to a week to get it back from the lab. Now, if you do not like an image, there is a simple delete button.

So when I chose clients' images, I have the ability to quickly go through, delete the half blinking eyes or shift in lighting that created an unflattering look. I never gave it a second thought until I decided it was time for me to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk.

Back in winter of this year, I decided it was time to see exactly what it meant to be in front of the camera in a boudoir setting. Let me tell you, I have a whole new respect for my clients. It is one thing to tell someone how to pose, where you can adjust. However when you are alone and have to run back and forth to the camera (when you forget your trigger) the level of understanding posing and facial expressions becomes so much clearer.  I attempted the traditional "sexy" poses. Which no matter how much I tried, I just could not stop laughing at myself. Why? Because that is SO not me. I am a geek at heart, and being seductive such as this image I could just not see "me".
 

 

So instead, I decided to let go of what I saw other boudoir selfie photographers doing and decided to pose myself as I felt more natural.

It proved to be a true experience within my own studio. I know this place better than my home at times. Where the light hits, where the best angles are and most certainly that no one can see in. Until I was walking around, nude under a sheer dress. Than the panic settled in for a moment to think "Can anyone see in!".

Then I calmed quickly. As I realized this is what I do. For all my clients, everyday. I assure them that I have checked that no one can see through the curtains. That they look fantastic and that this session is all about empowering their courage. So why was I not taking my own advice? Well simply put, I was not in my comfortable element being behind the camera.  I shook off everything in my head from society in my head making me feel this was vanity, this was attention seeking. I thought about my clients. Everyone of them and how THEY would walk out of my studio with a brighter confidence. I wanted to feel that glow again.

I proved myself right. After looking through (and yes shooting yourself is so difficult- out of 30 shots I got maybe 5 usable images - but by this point of running back and forth-I was exhausted)
 

So I kept my little images to myself, thinking no one but me would even care to see. Until that is, the day Cate Scaglione (my dearest photog buddy) came to my home town in Staten Island where we were leaving for Maryland to teach and underwater photography workshop.
We went down to the beach for a quick head-shot of myself for future work. As boudoir photographers tend to not just shoot what the initial plan was, we shot a few more intimate looks. After seeing the work Cate captured, I realized why am I NOT sharing my experience with my clients. 

I now know fully how you feel. Up until now I was doing a disservice to you and to myself. I walked the walk and I could not be happier that I did it (finally:)

Be sure to check out this weeks coming upFSTOPPERS article to subscribe and read where I will explore the experiences of other boudoir photographer!

(All Images below are Courtesy of Cate Scaglione of LifeAsFineArt.com in Redbank NJ)

 

Balancing Your Studio and Home Life

Sure we see it all the time on social media. That one lady who takes a gorgeous selfie with a "messy bun", and quotes that is what life is like working from home.

Never in my working from home have a had a gorgeous selfie, or a messy bun that is cute (note--my messy buns are probably because my hair is so tangled and some bird may have found a home to nest in). But we all look at these other people who seem to have it all put together. The backgrounds in their home look organized, their work space seems picture perfect. Then we look at our homes and think I must not be doing it right! How can these other photographer/business owners be doing it all? Making huge sales all while tending to their kids every needs, home is spotless and blogs are delivered on a precise time schedule that would make any drill Sargent impressed.

But what you are not seeing is where they do not have it all put together. Where they fall may be where you shine.

For example, I am a big morning person. I am up every day at 5:30 to take the kids to swim practice, and because of this I have a huge jump on the day compared to those who sleep in. But guess what? I miss out a lot on the late night opportunities on social media when my competitors are up making the hustle happen. Does this mean them or I have any advantage or disadvantage over one another ? Perhaps, but we will attract the same clientele that we are.

Balancing work and family life is a long term commitment. It is not about how many things you have on your plate at one given time. It is about how solid the base of your scale is. Can you adapt to changing things up if one week is off from your original plans?

Am I bashing how others do things? Hell no. I am stating that you need to stop looking at how others are doing and focus on what works for you. Having a pretty desk will never work for me. I am chaotic and that is what drives me. Putting on makeup and having my hair looking fabulous will only last for about 30 minutes before it goes into a ponytail and I rub my eyes only to look like a racoon. Does that mean those who can do these things can run a better business than me?

We as photographers know it is taboo to imitate another shooters image because it kills our own creativity. So why are we then attempting to imitate their lifestyles?

I put together some hopefully helpful ideas to spark something inside of you to work on only as it fits you. This is not a "work this schedule 5 days a week and you HAVE to take weekends off".  Weekends off may not work for your lifestyle, so why push it just because another business owner swears by it?

 

I took what could feel like an invasion of work into my home life, and turned it around to fit. I adapt each day to make the work life balance happen smoothly. If you attempt to keep each day exactly the same, it is no longer balance. It is just the same day over and over.

 

Sometimes it is Easier to Focus on the Smaller Picture

Stressed about all the edits that need done but school is starting in a week which you have not done any shopping for?  Take bigger tasks and cut them into smaller more manageable ones. This is for both work and home life. Take the kids out shopping in the morning, so when they come home they will have time to organize their own new books and pens in their "work stations" while you work on those edits. This makes summer time work well when the little ones have something to keep them occupied.

 

Dedicated Hours That Fit Your Lifestyle

Tired of forgetting the little things with your clients because your brain is occupied by the kids quarreling during the summer? Get up an extra 30 minutes before them and check emails THEN. Not when they are with you. Not only will it allow you to be totally dedicated to that email or phone call, it will also give you time to takes notes on the client instead of checking the email on your phone in the middle of a stop light where you cannot process the information into your calendar. The words "as soon as I get home I will write that down" rarely ever sees the final work.
If you are a night owl, than use the hours after they are sleeping to check emails. Creating a time frame that works for you and your lifestyle is the only way it will work.

 

They Wont Die if You Say NO!


Use this summer as a learning tool to your kids. You are not a horrible parent if you tell your kids no to something because you have to get work done. It will show them how hard you are working and that sometimes they will have to entertain themselves (a hard concept it seems for kids these days - but I promise it is a beneficial one)

 

Visual Coding

I am a visual person so color coding works best for my family and I. Red marks when I am gone on traveling to teach workshops. I chose red for that--because it seems like a warning signal. "Better get your s*%t together family--mamma is not around!" Green is for all clients. Blue is for anything and everything to do with the kids (appointments, camps etc). A quick look at any day of the week on the calendar helps to visually plan.

 

Educate Yourself

Twenty minutes a day is the minimum recommended reading time for kids. But why just kids?  If you are like me, you probably have saved a bunch of e-books to read later on. Well this is later on. Show your kids great habits and read along side with them. You will get some quite time, as well as learning time for all those lighting and posing books you have been stashing away.

photo-1423592707957-3b212afa6733.jpeg

 

Drop Tasks Zaps Your Energy

Delegate! Summer time is suppose to be fun time. But when you are running your own business we know there just isn't room for downtime. So find someone you connect with and delegate. Whether it is for retouching, marketing, or even hiring a cleaning person for the summer months so you can hit the beach instead. Believe me, the kids will be exhausted when you come back, and that will give you another hour or two to get onto some projects for your business.

 Create a Demand for Your Time

If your kids go to day camp use this time to shoot all the clients you can. You can always edit when they are home but this shooting time is golden. It will also push your limited available time as a draw to potential clients. I post in May the only weeks I can shoot boudoir over the summer and sell out immediately. Your clients will not want to miss out

Change is OK!

If something is not working for you CHANGE IT! If it feels forced, or not flowing, tweak it to fit your lifestyle. If your home life works well in big sections, than perhaps that is they way you should run the business. Selling collections. On the flip side, if you and your family work best in smaller operations, than transfer that over to your ala carte in the sales. However things feel right in the home life, it will transfer easily into the business life.

 

 

These are just some basic tips I have found that makes the summer months with kids home work for my boudoir business staying alive. It is not easy to keep up with a thriving business and having an active family. But small changes can keep you sane!