I have been catering to women exclusively since 2010 and shot everything and anything for fifteen years before that “on the side”. I have worked in all kinds of jobs, from a fish cutter in Iceland to an Esthetician in Beverly Hills. Throughout it all, I wanted to have my own photography business. I’m grateful every day I didn’t die with my dream still inside me.
A combination: I took every class in high school and minored in college, took workshops at Brooks Institute and watched what seems like thousands of hours of instruction online.
In esthetics, my absolute five thing to do was to heal acne and give Reiki treatments, as I could see how it transformed my clients. While shooting everything and anything, I saw the stress in mom’s face at family portrait shoots: she desperately wanted beautiful images of her family, but would usually hide behind them. Same with the mother of the bride. Too often I would hear that she has no images of herself.
I started to explore the possibility of just photographing women back in 2005, but couldn’t see how that would work. I took a workshop at Brooks with Joyce Wilson and the seed started to grow. In 2010 I was mentored by Sue Bryce and all my doubts disappeared. Convincing hubby that such a narrow niche was possible was a bigger struggle. Poor guy, I told him I’d leave him if he kept raining on my photography parade. I finally left corporate after a work accident (my sign from the Universe) in August 2010.
With photography, I’m doing the same thing I did with esthetics: *healing* but with different tools.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
Learn absolutely everything you can from whomever will teach you, and not just photography: learn marketing, study psychology and fashion and art history. All of that will percolate in your brain and push you to be successful and develop your own style. You have to be willing to be a student for a looonnnngg time and be humble. Getting a camera doesn’t make you a photographer any more than an oven makes one a chef.
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 have, and while *I* think it’s an important step to understand the amount of trust given and the level of vulnerability felt by our clients when they come to us, and being able to say we’ve been there, I can’t really say every photographer should go through it. Energy matches energy (see the next question) and your matching clients will find you. I find that the women that come to me have the same feelings I did getting photographed. Other photographers may not find the process as uncomfortable and thus attract clients who don’t to the extent mine do and I did.
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
In the words of my father’s greatest mentor: There’s a butt for every seat (nicer: a lid for every pot!), so if you can market yourself and get your message out there your clients will find YOU. Energy matches energy, put out your vibe and your tribe will follow.
What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?
No, never. I know what it’s like to bust my ass for someone else’s dream and I can not go back to that no way no how.
If I find myself getting bored or burnt out, I’ll have a friend or previous client come in and do a lot of experimental shooting.
I also find a lot of cup-filling going to the movies, usually by myself. I love the visual artistry, the costuming, everything: it revs me up creatively.
What do you love about the business?
I love being the master of my own destiny, healing women, seeing them transform during their shoot and after, and talking to different people every day.
What do you hate about the business?
Bookkeeping, so I outsourced it. BEST.DECISION.EVER. John Assaraf tells business owners that their goal is to fire themselves from as many jobs as possible as quickly as possible in order to grow. Firing myself from bookkeeping opened up a lot of energy to put into my business and brought more joy to it. I’d like to fire myself from retouching and phone calls next!
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
Right now, just AIBP
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 submit for the weekly contest and the daily choice, but not the bigger competitions.
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
One guilty pleasure in life?
Roller skating. It’s not the skating, it’s the number of hours I do it every week!
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Dresses; I can be lazy (no matching!) and still look put together.
What’s one song on your playlist?
Matt Nathanson “Come On Get Higher”, that hip sway is to die for
What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?
Superhero / SciFi-Fantasy
Favorite shoes to wear?
Sparkly flip flops, high heels or roller skates
What are you currently reading?
Fiction: Michael Connelly’s Bosch series (again).
Business: The Answer by John Assaraf. I go back to it constantly.
Soul: Desire Map, this has transformed my “goal setting”.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I lived in Iceland as a foreign exchange student in high school and went back 9 years later after my divorce from my first husband. It is the most amazing, healing, exhilarating place I’ve ever been. I cannot get enough of it, so if I had to pick one: that’d be it. If I had to choose somewhere I’d never been it’d be Ireland.
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
Stand up and tell the photography naysayers to shut up earlier. I spent way too much time deferring my dreams because of others’ doubts.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
Christina Hendricks. That luminous skin, beautiful curves, everything.
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
Self-care and giving too much: up until recently I would be there for everybody for every need, no matter what was going on with me, and very rarely were people there for me. When I stepped back, many of those people disappeared from my life. It was painful and felt isolating, but I now have more energy to focus on those relationships that are more balanced.
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
I never know what single thing is going to inspire me: Movies, TV, photos of couture gowns, novels, you name it. I’m most inspired by recreating the *feeling* evoked by these things. Even my Pinterest collections reveal the feeling I’m drawn to, and if I can identify it and connect to it, I am moved to create it around me.
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be
Listen to what you love. Don’t sacrifice your dreams for someone else’s limited view.
An example: my kids had a swim teacher who was going to college and studying what her parents wanted her to. She was engaged to a guy who was very limiting. She was terrified to tell them she just wanted to chuck it and go to beauty school, and break up with the guy. I kept telling her to listen to her dreams, that I had spent way too much time living that way and not to follow in my footsteps.
Finally she told her parents what she wanted, ditched the fiancé and now she is a passionate, amazing, skilled stylist who is in incredible demand so recently out of school. She is also crushing it in fitness competitions; reading her posts telling others to go after their dreams is very satisfying. She’s passing it on and an inspiration to so many.