Monday, December 28, 2009

Picture Monday - More Annie and Christina

Now that Christmas has come and gone I am free to share more of the pictures from Annie and Christina's shoot without ruining the surprise!

Hope you like them!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Weekly Fixations - December 25th

It is Christmas and if all is going as planned I should be on a flight on my way back home. If, instead, that foot of snow has kept me grounded then I am probably getting to spend more quality time on the farm. I hope that all of you are enjoying your time with families and friends. Here's what I found interesting this week:
Would you wear glasses on your wedding day? It makes photos more challenging but some people's glasses are so much a part of their image. Then again, I thought that my thick rims were so much a part of my look that I was worried people would react negatively if I changed to rimless and no one really noticed...
These pinwheels make me think of summer and childhood. Nice thoughts when I am surrounded by cold and snow.

This shoot on Rock'n Roll Bride inspired by Tom Petty's song "Last Dance with Mary Jane" is hauntingly pretty in a very high fashion way. What a fun project to get the creative juices going and it tells a beautiful story.

I like the thought behind this article about Boudoir without lingerie. I think that it would be fun to shoot. Without the lingerie you have to (get to) be more creative and it creates more of a real life vibe versus a fantasy scenario.

Creative rules of thumb to get you thinking outside the box.

Lots of great ideas for displaying your photos at Cool Photo Ideas.

Video tutorial on creating custom photoshop shortcuts.

18 books to grow your photography business.

10 Reasons to shut off your autofocus.

I really love this engagement shoot by Yan Photo featured on Ruffled. The heart made of apples is adorable and the photos make me think of Pride and Prejudice and uncomplicated love.

Hope that your Christmas is everything you hoped for and more!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Word for the Coming Year

I ran across this article in which Alison Magda talks about how she likes to pick a word each year that she would like to work on incorporating into her life and her photography business in the coming year. The word she chose for the upcoming year is "Authenticity". I like that choice. Especially when you are building a brand based on who you are as a person and a photographer authenticity is important.

I have never been a big fan of New Year's resolutions that always tend to be way to general (I promise to eat better. Better what? Kobe beef? Really good chocolate? Far too many ways to twist that to my will.) or way too specific (I resolve to do yoga everyday - Yeah, right). Because of my inability to actually follow through on the details of a specific resolution I like the idea of a concept to follow for the coming year. I feel like this gives you more freedom and less stress while still working towards an admirable goal. I like knowing what I need to do and having a deadline but being able to work on it in my own way and on my own time. That is why this is so perfect for me.

So, now that I am excited about it I need to come up with my word. Obviously, as great a word as "Authenticity" is, I can't use that one because that would make me an uncreative copy cat. A few words pop to mind. I think I will run them down and think on them for a while before I decide...

First - "Balance". This is a big one for me juggling two jobs, a board position, household duties, and (in theory) a personal life. This past year has been pretty skewed and it would be nice to shift the balance back away from the red zone.

Next - "Details". I really do feel like it is the attention to detail that sets people apart from their competitors. While I have spent a lot of effort trying to personalize the Client experience in 2009 there are so many more great ideas that I have for 2010.

"Simplicity" I like this for a lot of reasons. I think that the concept of simplicity can also encompass efficiency and order - which are things that I like. Simplicity also makes me think good, happy thoughts like relaxing, and delegating.

Do you guys have any suggestions for me? (Please be kind!) Do you plan on doing something similar in the coming year?

I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Picture Monday - Georgia

Today's feature also includes cameos by me and my dogs! Why? Because Georgia is my mom. I took some pictures of her while she was down (or up rather) for Thanksgiving. Hope you like!

My babies look so scary in this picture! Lexi is mad at me (can you tell) because we were bribing them with treats and she thought I was holding out on her too long.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Weekly Fixations - December 18th

Sarah Petty is doing another Joy of Marketing telesummit. I went ahead and purchased the audio for the last one and it is a really great deal for so many hours of information.

Two for your website: Three things every photographer's website should have and how to be seen as a better photographer.

Normally I bake for Christmas, this year - not so much but I did run across this recipie at Pioneer Women that looks great.

Love these bows that are part of the 5 days of felt at Twig and Thistle.

This link from Splendid Communications looks neat. matches you with other people trying to meet the same goal.

If you've got some free time try this project out and let me know what you come up with.

Another awesome inspiration to reality challenge at Style Me Pretty. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The last link is about how to implement a design like this on your own.

Tutorial on reducing noise in photoshop.

Most popular diy photography hacks of 2009.

That dress! Those stairs! LOVE.

The second part of Scoot Kelby's gonzo gear guide is up here.

If I had free time I would be all over this handmade gift wrapping. So pretty.

An article on working with a model for the first time at DPS.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wishing you an Early Merry Christmas

I can't believe that it is only 9 days until Christmas! These past weeks have been crazy busy trying to get all my family shoots ordered for Christmas delivery. I am also trying to find time in there to send my Christmas cards and pack for my trip back home. Ah, the holidays...

I honestly do not have a whole lot to say today, but I do have about a thousand things to do. One thing I will mention is that next week may be light on blog posts. I have something scheduled for Picture Monday but as of now I haven't written anything for Wednesday and I am not sure what the Internet situation we be like while I am away so right now Wednesday and Friday are a little up in the air.

On a positive note, my Macbook Pro and my new Photoshop CS4 are waiting for me at my Mom's house and I am so excited! Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me... oh sorry. I got a bit distracted.

If I do not get to post again before then I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and I hope that it is filled with food, fun, laughter, and love.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekly Fixations - December 11

Whenever I had seen these yellow pom pom flowers in photos of bouquets I just thought they were dandelions ... until I saw this post. How cute are these flowers?

This is a cool idea for a fundraiser called, ready for it, Boudoir for Boobs. It benefits Breast Cancer Research.

Thinking about sending out an email newsletter? Read this. There are special laws you need to follow.

Perception versus reality, wedding photographer style.

23 popular DSLR lenses

I like this idea for Christmas ornaments from Twig and Thistle using clear glass balls.

Check out these cool boutique tents.

These look fun for a shower game (which are so hard to come up with) with the he said / she said.

This boudoir shoot makes me laugh.

Hope that you all have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Work Together or Die Alone

I couldn't help myself with the Lost reference. The last season is coming up and I have to enjoy it while I can. Wednesday managed to sneak up on me yet again so I am sitting at my computer trying to come up with something brilliant to share with all of you. How's that working for me? Guess we'll know soon enough.

Since I featured the lovely Pam on the blog on Monday I thought that maybe I would talk a little bit about working together with other creative professionals instead of working against them. Pam is a photography enthusiast and mother of two boys. She hopes to someday be able to open a photography studio of her own. She found me through a display that I had up at Sandhills School of Performing Arts and called me to see if I would like to talk with her about photography.

At this point I had two options. I could choose to feel threatened by her because she might become my competition someday in the future, or I could choose to be happy to be getting to know another photographer who I could share ideas with and learn from. I chose the later. Here's why.

Some people view the market as a pie and feel that there are only so many pieces of that pie to go around. For these people, any newcomer is taking money right out of their wallet and they tend to be hostile towards other photographers in general.

Other people look at the market as a bakery that produces new opportunities every day. This is how I like to view the world. Once you let go of the competitive instinct (not saying that isn't a hard thing to do) you are able to see other photographers as an opportunity rather than a threat. The more photographers in your area that you know the more people you can call to second shoot for you (or who can call for you to second shoot as well) and the greater the collective knowledge pool becomes.

I try to base my business on building relationships with my Clients rather than on price or gimmicky products. If this is the approach that you take you don't have to worry about someone "stealing" your secrets because they don't matter. Clients are hiring you because they like you, your style, and they think that you are good to work with. Those things can't be copied.

I would like to try to organize a Sandhills Wedding Professionals monthly luncheon, but things are so busy right now that I won't probably make much progress on it until after the new year. If any of you are wedding professionals or know anyone who is, pass the idea along and let's see if it can grow legs. Have a good Wednesday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekly Fixations - December 4

Start us off with a little eye candy here and here.

For my brides out there a thank you note tracker from Inspired Bride.

Another reason to love Etsy (as if I needed more)

Cute DIY matchbook covers.

Buy Our Honeymoon via Rock'n Roll Bride. I would much rather get my friends a first class ticket upgrade or breakfast in bed on their honeymoon then some plates - especially if the couple is not straight out of college and already have most of their housewares.

Check out Open Shade a place for photographers to share their pet charity projects.

I love pom poms. I used to be a cheerleader (bet you didn't know that). Win some pom poms here.

Ah, Style Me Pretty ... I love several things in this inspiration board. First the invites for the vineyard wedding with the hand-made paper spine and the two interlocking wine rings. Next, those glasses or whatever they are in the bottom row. I want them.

On a completely non-photography related note ... this pine cone garland looks really easy and very festive. I may just have to make one so I can at least say I decorated a little bit for the holidays.

I like the idea from this guest post on Scott Kelby's blog from Eric Ryan Anderson about taking a trip and producing a magazine style book from it. Or just the idea of the trip. The idea of approaching complete strangers and asking to photograph them is kinda scary too me though.

Jasmine Star interviewed Rebecca Crumley (photo editor for the Knot magazine) about things you should do when submitting wedding photography to a publication.

Why did it never occur to me to have customized gift tags? How awesome.

I love the Inspiration to Reality Challenges at Style Me Pretty. Check out the photos here, here, and here. This ones is especially pretty and what I really like about the shoots is that there is not really that much there (a table, dresser, some chairs, a cake...) but they really pack a punch with what they do include. I think this is great inspiration for your own wedding. Rather than spreading things thin, concentrate your efforts in several strategic areas and keep everything else simple.

Fix for overexposed backgrounds via Digital ProTalk

tutorial to Make your own tilt-shifts.

I have a busy weekend (TWO weddings!) so I hope that you all get in a little bit more relaxing than I am going to get. I can't wait for it to be Christmas so I can have a little down time with the family (and some very warm clothes!). Hope it's a great one!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordle and what it taught me about SEO

Think Splendid is one of the blogs that I read everyday (I just went into my google reader to see how many blogs I follow and it is 50 - yikes!) If you haven't heard of them yet here is a little bit about them from their website:
"Welcome to Think Splendid, the blog of Splendid Communications! We are an online media consultancy serving the wedding and hospitality industries. We help companies discover and maximize their online voice in order to effectively increase their brand presence and add to their bottom line.
We believe that social media is a return to old-fashioned roots of real conversations rather than a high-tech race to keep up with the next big thing. While the tools will always evolve, the need for businesses to communicate effectively and deepen relationships with their customers will remain.
Splendid Communications subscribes to the view that the world is a bakery that produces fresh opportunities each day and not a fixed pie where each person has to fight for the last crumb. The purpose of our blog is to encourage you to Think Splendid; both in business and in life."
Yesterday I ran across this article on their blog which shows an easy way to evaluate your blog's keywords using a site called Wordle. When you get to the site you either paste in a bunch of text or enter in your blog's url and it creates an image of the most commonly used words on your blog. The bigger the word the more you use it. I entered the address for the Mollie Tobias Photography blog and got this:

Evidentally I say "Great" a lot. Weddings shows up big which is good, but both "photography" and "Mollie Tobias Photography" are nowhere to be found! There is also no mention of portrait photography, another big area of my business. You may be asking yourself why this information is important. Solid question. It is important because search engines use these keywords to rank your website or blog when they deliver search results. Of the 367 impressions (times my website showed up as a result of a google search) last month, 212 of them were when someone searched for "photographer", "photographers", or "photography". Makes you think huh?

So, now if you see a post on my blog that just says "wedding and portrait photographer" over and over again you'll know why. Okay, I was kidding about that part. I wouldn't do that just to increase my SEO (and because they have little bots that find out that is what you are doing and take you out of the search results completely).

Whether you use this site for checking your website's keywords or just for fun be sure to go on over and check it out. Have a lovely (notice I didn't say the "g" word?) Wednesday!