A Girl & Her Camera
A photo journal by Elizabeth Rose Photography
Owning my own business has always been a dream of mine. Ever since
I was in the third grade I started creating new businesses. They have varied from selling erasers I won at a school carnival to selling $5 skirts I designed and sewed myself. None of these business ventures have ever amounted to much; they just added to my love of having my own businesbos. For this practicum, I decided to attempt at reaching my goal of owning my own business one more time. I opened my own photography business! It has been such a blast.
To start out, I made a plan of what I would do in order to get my business started. I wanted to start out small with the hopes of increasing my target audience and my skill set in the future. I have always loved photographing architecture and nature so this was the main thing I focused on; however, I did have two portrait photo shoots.
The Plan: · Get familiarized with my camera and the different functions · Practice editing photos · Set up actual photo shoots—for free for real life practice · Put 5 photographs on Etsy to see if they sell · Discuss with my mentor, Andrea Larsen, how she started her business and what has led her to have success and have her critique my photographs · Create a personal stamp and business card and ads to pass around · Create a blog/website to showcase my work · Dedicate at least 5 hours a week to this project · At the end of the semester, hold a private exhibit of my work for the semester and offer photographs for sell.
It was a lot of fun to learn more about my camera and the different things it allows me to do. I have a Cannon Rebel and it has been very good to me. I took a beginners photography course at BYU-Idaho and so I used the text book as a resource to help me learn more about the camera and terms such as ISO, f-stop, and how to take a good photograph. I practice a lot with the different settings to see what I would use and when I would use it. It amazed me the different looks you can get with just changing your aperture setting. I usually leaned more toward a blurrier background to focus the onlookerâ€™s eye on something small that is usually left unseen. I also learned the importance of making sure the CF card is in the camera and always have two charged batteries! I know that on other photo shoots I may run into problems like these again, but I think I learned my lesson. I missed out on a couple of great shots because I didnâ€™t double check that I had everything. My mentor, Andrea Larsen who has her own personal photography busy, gave me a checklist of things and I will definitely pay closer attention to it in the future. Light also plays a crucial role in photography. I learned the sun is my friend. There are lots of really neat artistic styles that can be used with the sun. I have not perfected the techniques by any means, but with further practice I know that I will be able to utilize the sun even more. The perfect time to take photographs is an hour to an hour and a half before sunset. Iâ€™ve never paid so close attention to the sun and the weather in all my life, but I believe that I am coming to a point where I can really understand more about lighting and how to make it be on my side instead of be my enemy.
I learned a great deal from Andrea. She would help critique my photos and offer suggestions on how I can improve. She was very supportive of me and helped me to gain confidence in my work. I was really nervous to first submit my work to her, because I had no idea what she would think. I also am the type of person to be really hard on myself, especially when it comes to things that I create. She was so kind, but also showed me where I needed to improve. This is something that I thoroughly enjoyed about this practicum was the professional feedback I received on my own photos. It helped me to see my strengths and also my weaknesses that I can improve and add them to my list of strengths. Andrea also happens to be my eldest sister, so when it came to critiquing there was no mincing of words. She felt comfortable to give her expert advice knowing that I would learn from it and not be offended by it. It has been a very enjoyable experience to share this new adventure with her. My first photo shoot was with my husband. I was so nervous and unsure about myself. I also didn’t know how to conduct myself during a photo shoot so I wanted to have my first one be some one I was very comfortable with. He was a really good sport. Andrea gave me a lesson on what I should do during a photo shoot. The tips she gave me include the following: • Tell them you will let them know what to do and when to do it. For example, letting them know when to smile, look up, laugh, etc. • Compliment them—she told me that what she does is that when she thinks she just had a great shot she will show them a brief preview of it on her camera to boost their confidence. • Talk, talk, talk! It is so important to not let there be a silent moment. This was a bit difficult for me because I was focusing more on the functions of the camera rather then making sure I was keeping the client calm and relaxed. This is something that I am definitely working on. • The more they like you, the more they will like their pictures. If you start out the photo shoot by offending them or anything, it will influence how they like your work.
• When you fist get to the photo shoot, have the camera in the bag. Talk with them, shake their hands, have an icebreaker and then break out the camera. This will help the client to not feel like you will take a picture of them when they are not ready for it. • If you are frustrated, never let it show! I found these tips so helpful! I had another photo shoot with a teenage girl named Taylor. It turned out to be kind of a disaster. I went to pick her up at 4 because she didn’t get home from school until then. She took half an hour to get ready. The sun set at 4:46. We had a ten minute drive to the area where we were going to have the photo shoot so by the time we got there it was 4:30. We only had a 15 minute photo shoot! Ah! Stressful to the max, but I felt like I did a great job at not showing my frustration with her or my lack of ability to have a really fun and productive photo shoot. I also felt like I implemented some of the pointers Andrea gave me quite well. For example, I think I did a really good job at making Taylor feel beautiful. I actually got some pretty great shots of her, and I think if time allowed I would have gotten a lot more and both of us would have been more comfortable. Overall it was a great learning experience. I am very excited to continue down that avenue of photography. As stated earlier, my main passion in photography is nature and architecture. In these types of photo shoots you don’t have tell the subject what to do. You move around them and you don’t have to talk at all! My husband was so supportive of me with the start up of my new business. He took me to lots of great places around Virginia where we live so that I could start working on my portfolio and have pieces ready for my gallery showing at the end of the semester. We went hiking in Shenandoah up to the waterfalls, Colonial Williamsburg, and I went around a downtown here in Norfolk, VA. These photo shoots were the most enjoyable for me. I felt the more pictures I took, the better my “photographer eye” got. I was able to start seeing things in a new way. When I uploaded the pictures onto my computer to see them and start editing, I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.
I must say, one of my all time favorite things about this new business is seeing my work framed and mounted on a wall. What a beautiful and inspiring feeling! On December 10, 2011 at 6:30 p.m., I had my very first gallery showing and it was marvelous! I had a total of 28 pieces. I had it at my parents house and we cleared out their bedroom of all it’s furniture because the walls were completely white. I hung up my photos and placed them on tables in the room. I had music playing and I made title cards for each photo. There were decorations and I had my business name on a display table along with a picture of me and I placed my camera on the table as well. The name of my gallery was “A Girl & Her Camera.” It turned out beautifully. It was attended pretty well. I also sold three pieces and the buyer was in no way related to me! It was wonderful to hear the comments of those that came to the showing. The reactions of people were my favorite! Before the gallery, I pinpointed certain photographs that I thought the majority of people would like. While listening, I noticed that the ones I thought would be the most popular were the most popular. This will help me to know what most people will like to have photographs of in their homes. I also created my logo in Adobe Illustrator, set up my shop on etsy.com, and posted a Facebook page with my Etsy shop address. This will help me to reach a greater audience. I have really enjoyed diving into the business and seeing what all I need to do. I still need to make my own business cards find new ways to promote my new business. I definitely have learned a great deal from this experience. I have learned that you really can accomplish what you set your mind too. I do feel more confident in my photography abilities and also I am more comfortable with the Adobe software. I am excited for what is ahead of me. I love feeling like I really have accomplished a goal of mine that I have had for years now. All it takes to accomplish your goals is a plan and action.
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I had only a slight knowledge about the Adobe software programs and about my camera, but now I feel very comfortable with them. I feel like I could teach others how to use them. I have learned that practice is the best thing to help you gain confidence in any talent. The more I was behind my camera taking pictures the more confident I became. I would also be able to see different places where I could have photo shoots. This is something that is very important in photography. The background is just as important as the focal point in the photograph whether is be a person, a building, or an animal. My goals for this practicum were to be able to improve my skills as a photographer and my abilities to market my products. I hoped to make a little bit of money and to carry on this business after the semester. I wanted to be able to have pictures that would be good enough to sell to magazines or newspapers. I hoped to be able to help people see the beauty in the world around them.
I feel that through my efforts this semester these goals were brought to pass. The women who bought three of my pictures said that they really inspired her. She bought a picture of a stone block with a chain coming out of it and she said that she was going to give it to her husband for Christmas to stick in his office. It reminded her of integrity and strength. Another photo she bought was one of a close up of a keyhole. She said that she was going to give this to her daughter because it reminded her of endless possibilitiesâ€”of doors always opening up. I was so grateful that she expressed her thoughts on my photos. I really wanted to help others see beauty in otherwise uncomely objects. With her comments, I felt like I accomplished this goal ten fold.
his business will definitely continue. I think it is something that I will do the rest of my life. My next task for this business is to get more comfortable with having photo shoots with people. I would love to be good enough to be a wedding/engagement photographer. Also, I want to get more into doing senior portraits. This part of my business will really increase in the spring since that is when there are high school graduations. Overall, I would say this practicum for me was a success. I increased my abilities, confidence in myself, and I feel that I helped other gain confidence as well. I know this will continue as I work my hardest and do my best. I am very grateful for technology today that it has let me get my work outside my immediate area. I hope my ability to inspire others will continue to spread.
Always Move Forward