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Featuring Tamara Paskey-Alexander

Featuring Tamara Paskey-Alexander

This week’s featured photographer is Tamara Paskey-Alexander of Paskey Boudoir in Dallas, TX

 
Where do you operate your business?

Dallas, TX

Your Website

Your Facebook page

www.facebook.com/paskey.photo

Your Pinterest account

https://www.pinterest.com/paskeyboudoir

Your Instagram account

https://www.instagram.com/paskeyboudoir

Your Twitter account

https://www.twitter.com/paskeyboudoir

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Technical Specs:

 
Camera used

5D Mark III

Lens choices

Canon 50mm 1.2L, and a Sigma 50mm Art

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

Photoshop and Lightroom

Do you use any actions?

No

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

Portraiture

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CLIENTS:

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

Marketing is HUGE for me. I’ve had to move my studio several times to new states. And without marketing my tail off, I would have fallen flat on my face. For my move from Lexington, KY to Kansas City I completely changed my website, Google page, and Facebook a few months beforehand. I didn’t do quite enough though because it took entirely too long to gain a new client base. This time around, for my move from Kansas City to Dallas, I started SEO-ing like crazy 7 months in advance, I started running large targeted Facebook ad campaigns 3 months in advance, and blogged like crazy. Really putting the work in, and learning how to do Facebook ads made this last move much smoother. Mistie Simone may have also had a little something to do with my success…. 😉 She really kicked my heiny into gear to take my business to the next level.

My clients generally fall into 3 categories. The majority of my clients are wives, ages 34 and over doing the shoot for an anniversary or birthday gift. I also have brides who are from around age 26 all the way up to 55. I love that my brides are of all ages. And then my favorite group is women who are doing the shoot just for themselves. They’re usually 40 and over, have their own career, and are either celebrating their own birthday, a weight loss, a divorce, etc. It’s so rewarding when they do it for themselves.

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.

How do I choose inspiring client stories? There’s so many! I love my ladies so much. I’ve had 2 women who came in for their shoots before breast cancer surgery. It was a great time to capture their beauty before they started feeling under the weather. I’ve also had ladies that have had weight loss surgery who are finally learning to be comfortable in their own skin. Sitting with them in their photo viewings and watching the overwhelming emotion as they see how beautiful they are is pretty life changing. I also love the stories that have nothing to do with actual body shape, but are all about having the guts to just come in and do a shoot. The ones who have never felt sexy or feminine, and then come in and shoot with me, and end up with a whole newfound appreciation for themselves. Agh. I love it. SO SO much. Boudoir is a pretty amazing thing.

Do you have a “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do.  Thanks.

I do! But it’s secret! For booked clients only. It’s got great tips for grooming and getting ready, tanning, places to shop for lingerie (even though they don’t need to, I have tons of lingerie at the studio), a helpful FAQ, etc. It’s a great way to take the guess work out of what you’re expecting from the shoot.

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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.


My nonrefundable retainer fee of $350 plus tax reserves the session, and it only covers the shoot itself, hair and makeup, and use of the lingerie closet. All of their images are purchased separately. My images are priced per image so they can choose any number of favorites they end up with (after a minimum purchase). Most of my ladies choose digital images, but a lot order a combination of an album plus their digitals. I have everything listed a la carte so they can do any combination that suits them. My clients can spend anywhere from $800 to $5000+. Normal client investment is between $2500 and $5000.

What products perform best in your studio? 

 I keep it simple! I offer digitals on a flash drive, 2 sizes of albums, canvas, and metal prints.

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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.

Let’s talk about my studio. Ugh. Swoon. I was in a 1400sqft space right around the corner for my first year in Dallas, but at the time of lease renewal my landlord gave me the option of upgrading to a space almost twice the size. I jumped on it in a heartbeat! I now have a 2200sqft loft space with concrete floors, large windows framed with ivy, a private balcony also covered in ivy, a large dressing room, a separate viewing room, a full bathroom, and a kitchen! It’s amazing! I got to paint and decorate it exactly how I wanted. It was a blank slate so I went nuts. There were many late nights to set it up when I first moved in 2 months ago, but now that it’s finished, I couldn’t be more in love. The lack of sleep was more than worth it.

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

No way! This is my dream space! I don’t think I could possibly use any more room.

Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?

I usually only shoot from 11am to 2:30pm and shoot one client per day, but viewings are much more flexible. I don’t have kids so it’s easier to do things when it works best for my clients. I keep all 7 days a week open for appointments.

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

Natural light for sure. I have that “Squirrel!” kind of attention span, so natural light allows me to move around a ton more. I’ve taken a few studio lighting classes, and I enjoy it for some special occasions, but really it’s just not my style.

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?

Yes, I have 2 main pro freelance hair and makeup artists that I alternate. If they aren’t available on a certain date I won’t really schedule another artist. I’m so picky and want only the best of the best for my clients. It’s absolutely a partnership! They’ve both had their own shoots with me and are involved in any event I have at the studio.

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BUSINESS IN GENERAL:

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

 6 years, boudoir only! And that’s the way I like it! My first experience shooting people was at a Boudoir Diva’s workshop in 2010 and I never looked back after that! No weddings, no kids, only naked ladies.

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

A combo of both, but I’ve learned the most from workshops and one-on-one mentoring. I think I’ve lost track of how many workshops and such I’ve gone to, but they’re really invaluable if you find the right person to learn from.

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

 I’ve always loved photography and got my first real SLR camera when I was in middle school.

What is your biggest struggle in this business?

My biggest struggle in business in general has been moving and have to create a whole new client base. I feel like I would be so much further along if I had been able to stay in one place. But moving to a bigger market like Dallas has allowed me to meet all of my sales goals, so I can’t complain too much.

My biggest struggle currently is staying motivated to stay up until 2am on a regular basis to edit. I’m getting to the point where I need to hire someone but I just can’t pull the trigger!

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.

Do I really need to answer this? I think we all know why boudoir is the best. I’ve always been exclusively boudoir.

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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?

 Do you want to do it for the art, or do you want to run a photography business? Because the two can be totally different. If it’s latter, the best advice I can give is to be ready to work your ass off, because nowadays everyone and their mom is a “photographer”. You need to be able to set yourself apart.

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?

 I’ve done two! The first was with my representative in Kansas City. I set up the camera and handed it to her. It was a fun, pretty successful experiment. The second time was May this year with Sarah of Own Boudoir from Atlanta. She came to my studio to shoot me and it was amazing. You can check out the photos here-
http://www.paskeyboudoir.com/walk-the-walk/

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

Couldn’t care less. If you are talented artist and responsible business owner, it doesn’t matter what gender you are.

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 work smarter, not harder generally. When I started getting burned out I got a new studio and raised my prices. It’s amazing how energizing it is to have a new space that inspires you, and to make the money you need to sustain the lifestyle you want.

What do you love about the business?

 I love that most of the boudoir photographers I know are supportive of each other, and have found their own voices. There isn’t any stepping on each other’s toes, no arguments, no drama. I feel like it’s a very different community than wedding photographers or portrait photographers.

What do you hate about the business?

The initial judgment some people have when they hear I shoot lingerie photography. A lot of people assume it’s smut and won’t take it seriously like it could never be a sustainable business. But then after they do some research they’ll often find out it’s way more than sexy photos.

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

 I was a PPA member for a few years but I never got any benefit out of it whatsoever, so I dropped it.

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 do fairly often but it gets discouraging when you never win anything. I don’t always feel like the best images get chosen. I probably won’t participate much anymore except for the occasional daily choice entry.

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SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:

 
Favorite food?   

 Raspberries, iced coffee, steamed artichokes, and olives. Definitely not all at the same time.

One guilty pleasure in life?

 Ordering clothes online. I mayyyyyy have a problem…..

What is your favorite piece of clothing? 

A great fitting black bra that I can wear with everything.

What’s one song on your playlist? 

 Gold by Kiiara

What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?

 Are Tim Burton movies in their own genre?

Favorite shoes to wear?  

 Black Puma flats.

What are you currently reading? 

  Usually something law or tax related for my business. I don’t like sitting down to read a book though.

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

 Patagonia before the glaciers melt. But I’d also love to go to New Zealand.

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

 Lots of things but I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without having gone through some of those struggles.

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

That’s a tough one. Probably a shallow answer but Catherine Zeta Jones and Adriana Lima, for obvious reasons.

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

 Maintaining friendships. Business has come first for a while and friendships have taken a back seat.

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

A husband but no children….and we don’t ever want children. I think that’s why it doesn’t feel like a juggling act. I have time for both my business and my husband.

Who inspires you the most in life? Work?

My Grandfather and Uncle are incredibly successful in several businesses. They’re so knowledgable about so many things. It inspires me to do as much research as possible and to keep making big steps forward without being timid.

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

Don’t worry so much about that boyfriend/ girlfriend. Take care of yourself first.

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Cathy Nance
Cathy Nance

Photographer and Owner of Cathy Nance Studios - Intimate Editorial Art

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