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Featuring Angela Michelle

Featuring Angela Michelle

This week’s featured photographer is Angela Michelle of Raven Red Photography in San Antonio, Tx

 

Where do you operate your business?

San Antonio, Tx


Your Website


Your Instagram account

www.instagram.com/ravenredphoto/


Your Facebook account

www.facebook.com/ravenredphoto

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Technical Specs:

 
Camera used

Canon 5d Mark III

Lens choices

Usually the sigma 50mm art lens

Processing Software (just provide the names of the one’s you use)

Lightroom and Photoshop

Do you use any actions?

DMWL Presets as a starting point then tweaked to my liking.

Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use any plugins, etc?

Yes, but I am really trying to get this aspect outsourced from now on.

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CLIENTS:

 
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients.  Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?  

Most of my clients come to me through referrals either from previous clients or through my vendor partners which does a pretty good job of pre-qualifying them.

I’d love to add into the article any inspiring client stories you might have.  Also have you had any issues with clients that you would like to share how you resolved them.  That is always something that can hugely benefit the readers.

So many of my clients have inspiring stories they share with me. One that stood out for me was a woman who had a double mastectomy after discovering she had cancer. She came to me because she wanted and needed to see herself as still beautiful. For her it was a part of her healing process. She cried happy tears at her reveal and told me that I forever changed how she related to her body. It was then and there that I realized that what we do is about so much more than just sexy photos. It’s an opportunity to change how someone sees themselves and how they live in their body. The power of an image to transform one’s perception of their own body is huge and it solidified for me what I do and why I do it.

Do you have a physical or digital “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do. You can give me a link or email. Thanks.

I did have a digital version but I am in the middle of a complete overhaul with it since I just changed quite a few things including my pricing.

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SALES:

 
This is probably one of the most important things that the readers want to know.  How do you sell to your clients?  Can you provide info on your sales process and your pricing.  I’d like to be able to provide numbers on what you charge for a session and what your range is for your products, like albums for instance, but if you don’t feel comfortable sharing to much, just give me what fits your comfort level 

When it comes to pricing I find every year I tweak it a bit. Currently I have a session fee of a 100 with one look and the option to add additional looks for 75 each (hair and makeup not included) OR an all inclusive package with hair and makeup included and multiple looks for 500. This fee covers the consultation, Photoshoot and ordering session. I do IPS and meet with my clients within 2 weeks after the Photoshoot to show them the images and help them order what they want. My albums start at 1000 and my wall art begins at 500. My collections range from 900-5000.

What products perform best in your studio? 

Albums and metal wall art.

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STUDIO:

 
Best describe your workspace.  Do you have a studio or work from home?  How large is your space?  What are the challenges with it?  What works really well for you?  Can you please include a photo or two of it, if possible.

I have a shared space studio. It’s pretty small but the natural light is incredible in there. It’s got exposed brick and original hardwood floors which clients LOVE!

Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.

The rent is ridiculously inexpensive and it’s so close to where live that I plan to sign another 3 year lease so I will be there for a bit but I some pretty big plans to grow my business in new ways over the next five years.

Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?

I no longer have set hours but instead am by appointment only..

Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any.

I LOVE light!!! It was actually the very first thing that drew me to photography. It was the power of light to transform a scene that fascinated me and still does. I work with both natural light a studio lights. It just depends on what I am trying to do.

Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio?  If so, can you give me a run down of what the rate is you pay them and how you feel about the importance of that relationship.  If you don’t use them, is there a reason?

 I found a salon that specializes in hair and makeup very near my studio and they do a phenomenal job. They can do on location but charge more so now I let the client have the choice of paying the higher fee with them coming to the studio or a lower fee and having the service done in the salon which is only 5/10minutes from my studio. Nearly all go to the salon and pay them directly. I still book it on their behalf and do the confirmation for them. I actually prefer it this way since it saves me up to two hours of waiting around. Since I started doing this I have had no problems and my clients love their hair and makeup and have nothing but positive things to day about the team. I don’t make hair and makeup a requirement but I do stress the importance of it and 90% of my clients take my recommendation and goes to my preferred salon. The ones that don’t it’s because they have their own preferred artist they use or are a makeup artist themselves. I have so many clients that come from a beauty background themselves and I have no problem with letting them do their own.

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BUSINESS IN GENERAL:

 

How long have you been in business?  What were you doing before you started your photo business?

I started my business in 2008. I was a dog groomer before that.

Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?

I did study photography in college but ultimately got my BA in Cultural Anthropology.

Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?

I always loved photography. My dad was a photographer so I have fond memories of helping him set up lights but it took me a long time to believe I could actually make a living doing it.

What is your biggest struggle in this business?

 The business itself. I’m horrible at math and numbers and I just despise doing that aspect…. thank goodness for accountants!!

Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre?  If you’re excusive, and/or recently went exclusive can you give the readers some insight into why you did.  If you’ve only ever done boudoir, again we’d love to hear why.

I have been specialized in boudoir and fashion inspired portraiture for the last four years. When I first started I would photograph anything and everything and over time I realized what I enjoyed and what I was good at. I love boudoir because more than any other type of portraiture I believe that it holds this power to transform the relationship people have to their own body. I see a portrait session as a ritual. The whole purpose of a ritual is to transform and I think the power of a portrait is that it allows someone to see themselves from a perspective they are not used to. It also gives them the power to control how they want to be seen. This transformation shifts how one views themselves, their body and how they relate to it and the outside world. Powerful stuff!!!

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ADVICE:

 
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?

 Know your worth and don’t undervalue what you do.

Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself, if you are a female (sorry guys 🙂 ? Do you think it’s something that is important for female boudoir photographers to do?

Yes, I was so hesitant but I finally did one in 2016 and then in that one year stepped in front of ten different photographer’s cameras. I think it’s so important for us because besides having a better understanding of what are clients experience which allows us to relate to them more it also is a huge opportunity to learn. I have become a better photographer by stepping on the other side. Also, by me sharing my own boudoir photos I have earned the trust and respect of my ideal clients because I walk the walk. People respond to authenticity and there I was telling people to love their body and not wait to experience a boudoir session yet I wasn’t doing the same. As soon as I did my bookings skyrocketed because I gained their trust and they truly believed me when I told them to embrace their body. It was no longer just a line but something I believe and live now.

How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?  

The reality is clients will be attracted to you and your personality for their own reasons. You just be the best you can and the right clients will find you regardless of your gender.

What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?

I do yoga and meditation everyday now which helps me me to stay fresh on the daily basis. I also unplug from all social media one day a week. And to avoid creative burnout I make sure I shoot personal projects with one of my muses on the regular. This is when I push myself creatively and shoot with no agenda or expectations. I think it’s so important to give myself that space to create just to create.

What do you love about the business?

Helping people to fall in love with themselves and rediscover themselves.

What do you hate about the business?

 The numbers…. again, that’s what accountants are for.

Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI?  What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?

PPA, WPPI, DMWL and AIBP. I get different things from each of them but to be honest I know I am not utilizing any to their full potential. There is just not enough time.

Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it?  AIBP runs contests regularly.  Do you participate?  If not, is there a reason you don’t?

 I have entered AIBP contests which are always fun. I don’t take it too seriously but it’s nice to win now and then especially with such a talented pool of photographers.

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SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:

 
Favorite food?   

Tacos, cause there are just so many combos, styles and options. I could eat tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never get bored cause of all the variety. It also helps that I live in Taco county. No matter what anyone else says San Antonio has the BEST tacos around.

One guilty pleasure in life?

 Ignoring everything and binge watching a tv series. I don’t do it often but every few months I will neglect everything and plant myself on the couch for the day of getting lost in a show.

What is your favorite piece of clothing? 

 Sunglasses, I guess that is not clothing but it’s something I can’t live without.

What’s one song on your playlist? 

Wave of Mutilation by the Pixies.

What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?

 Comedy…. Couple’s Retreat cracks me up every time. Encouragement, yes! Boom!

Favorite shoes to wear?  

 I like to be barefoot but when I have to wear shoes it’s usually Converse or sandals.

What are you currently reading? 

 Meditations from the Mat, Full Catastrophe Living, The Yoga Sutras, The Good Girl’s Guide to Bad Girl Sex, The Yamas and Niyamas, and the Psychology of Human Sexuality. Yes, I really am reading them all at once. I am currently working on my 300 hour certification in Adaptive and Therapeutic Yoga and my certification to become a Sex Coach so I read and study A LOT right now. If I am not working I am reading and studying.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?   

 Italy because I lived there for four years as a kid and I have always wanted to return.

If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?

Relive my twenties but this time I wouldn’t be shy and scared to be who I wanted.
 

If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?

 Willie Nelson. Just cause I want to hang with him, get high and philosophize about life.

What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)

 Anxiety. It’s something that I have dealt with my whole life. I hide it well and look like I have it together but in my head there is a daily battle to fight the anxiety.

Are you married, single, have kids, husband?  Is life a juggling act for you?

 Married, no kids, one dog and three cats. Life is a juggling act for any entrepreneur I think.
 
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?

My parents inspire me. They have been married for 45 years and are still very much in love. The respect they have for one another is so beautiful. They have set a wonderful example of what a loving relationship can be. They have always believed in me even when I did not believe in myself and I can never thank them enough for the beautiful life they have given me. In work my clients inspire me. Every story they share becomes a part of me and I will forever carry them in my heart and soul.

 
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be

You cannot always control what happens to you life but you can always control how you react. Always choose love, light and positivity even in the face of darkness.

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Jen Swedhin
Jen Swedhin

Jen Swedhin is a natural light and studio photographer in Denver, CO. Jen specializes in intimate portraiture for men, and is one of the only photographers in the industry to focus on this niche. Jen is also the owner of Jen Gets Shit Done, a retouching, web design and mentoring service for boudoir photographers.

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