What Happens After Our Photography Session?

“Your camera takes really nice pictures!”  Every photographer has heard this at one point or another and the truth is that we all cringe when we hear it!  It’s usually not said with malice, but we know that it’s definitely NOT the case. Most people don’t realize the amount of work that we put into an image.  A camera is just one of many tools that we use to create our art.   When I take a picture with my camera, it’s like a big piece of uncooked meat.  Unless you like to eat your meat raw, there’s some prep work that goes into making this piece of meat into a delectable dish.  Of course, choosing the right cut and grade is important and sets the foundation for the dish, much like having dependable equipment and a good understanding of lighting, focus, composition and posing. But ultimately, it’s the chef’s receipe that can turn a good cut of meat into an amazing steak. My job doesn’t end once I take a picture – it’s only beginning!

As you can see, the SOOC (or straight out of the camera image) needs some work and is far from a finished image. Some of the things I tackle during post-processing are: removing blemishes and background distractions, correcting and smoothing skin tones, altering the overall color balance, removing distracting elements like (stray hair, patchy grass, random electric wire, etc…), drawing attention to aspect of an image (like a subject’s eyes) by brightening or darkening certain areas and/or artistic cropping and adding my own special “recipe” to make my images clean, sharp and vibrant. It’s my personal preference to only present clients with fully processed images because I believe in putting my best foot forward and I want them to experience the full impact of their images at first glance. It take more time and effort on my part, but the results are worth it in the end.

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April 23, 2014 - 10:10 am

Dena - Beautifully said, Maddy. I know that every photographer can relate to this one! The work and care that you put into your craft shows — your talented is incredible. <3

April 23, 2014 - 12:59 pm

Maddy {Mad Hearts Photography} - Awww…thanks for the kind words, Dena <3

Fun & Unique Photography Backdrops on a Budget

As a mostly outdoors, natural-light photographer, I never had the need to purchase studio backdrops. Come to find out – they can be super expensive!  Since I still don’t shoot a lot of indoor photography, I didn’t want to invest an arm and a leg on really expensive backdrops that may or may not be used. I purchased your basic black, white and grey backdrops as staples, but I really wanted to incorporate some fun options for my in-home photography studio. Below I share two examples of inexpensive options that I used to bring a little color and bling to my indoor photos this winter.

This streamer backdrop was a little DIY project insired by this wedding. Obviously, their altar backdrop was absolutely gorgeous and took a lot more time and finesse to complete.  Mine is definitely the poor man’s version, with the total costing under $20 and taking about 30 minutes worth of time from start to finish. But I think the colors and movement of the streamers translates just as well in photos for a fraction of the cost. For steps on how to make your own, I followed the directions found in this post

This sequin backdrop was inspired by the Drop it Modern “Spangled” .  I was completely obsessed with their gorgeous gold sequin backdrop and online stalked it for quite some time. But at $575 retail, I couldn’t justify spending the funds on a photography “want”.  Then I figured, why not just buy sequin fabric and use that instead?  Duh! So that’s what I did.  I purchased three yards of gold sequin fabric on Etsy at $11.50/yard.  The fabric was 58″ wide (or 4.8 Feet) and 3 yards = 108″ long (or 9 feet) , so it was the perfect size for my small in home studio.  And coming in at a total $35 it was a steal compared to the original.  I loved the gold sequin backdrop so much I tested it out first for our holiday pictures last year!

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April 21, 2014 - 4:50 pm

Tiffany B. - Great ideas! Love the fabric idea because that is so easy to change out and easy to store as well.

How I Organized My Business Finances

I know I’m going to sound geeky saying this, but I really enjoy sitting down with my accountant and going over our taxes each year.   I consider it my business’ yearly performance review! It’s the way I evaluate where I’m at in terms of my goals and find ways to do better the following year.  Last year I decided to finally get an accounting software to make life a little easier come tax time and to get an in-depth view of my business finances.

It was a bit of a shocker at first because up to that point I wasn’t thinking about my business in dollars and cents- I was just happy to book clients! People wanted my pictures and that in and of itself was exciting and rewarding. But more clients doesn’t necessarily equate to a profitable business. A lot of photographers get themselves in debt buying gear, equipment and software without ever thinking about their bottom line. When your business is also your passion, it’s so easy to blur the lines of what’s a business need and a want. That was the hardest part of taking the step towards getting an accounting software. I knew that once I started documenting and categorizing my inflows and outflows, the truth would be known - is my business profitable or am I using the business to justify my photography-related purchases?

The good news: it was profitable… but barely! Once I started documenting and itemizing my expenses meticulously, I was able to gather data to make more informed decisions about how to run my business more efficiently and profitably. Like making the switch from discs to USBs, which was not only a more practical way to deliver my images, but made the most financial sense since I could buy the drives in bulk lowering the cost. I also began investing a little more in new branding/marketing materials that would appeal specifically to my target clientele.  I became more critical when making business purchases (working on a post with some of those good and bad purchase decisions soon!) and started asking myself the tough question of whether this was a “want” or a true need for the betterment of the business.  Most importantly, it helped me value the time and services I provided as a photographer and gave me the confidence to adjust my pricing accordingly. That decision is never an easy one, but it was necessary in order to continue providing the best client experience for all my customers.  I’ve enjoyed watching my business grow and evolve each and every year into something I’m truly proud of. Hope you found my story helpful. More business and photography-related advice posts coming soon!

*For those wondering, I use GoDaddy Bookeeping (formerly known as Outright).  It’s simple, FREE (which is always a plus in my book!) and web based, which I always prefer since I use many different devices.  And the best part, there’s an app for mobile devices, so I can use it on the go!

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April 16, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Sandy - I love how you’ve shared your experience and give great tips to your audience! Keep it girl!

April 16, 2014 - 11:24 pm

Sandy - Keep it up girl! Xoxo

April 17, 2014 - 9:23 am

Maddy {Mad Hearts Photography} - Thanks for the feedback, Sandy!

April 21, 2014 - 4:55 pm

Tiffany B. - I go through this every year with my small biz as well. I started using QuickBooks 2-3 years ago and would be lost without it now. It helped me understand what I was spending money on and if I was “really” making any money. Keep up the good work, I love reading about how other people are doing with their business.

April 22, 2014 - 11:08 am

Maddy {Mad Hearts Photography} - Thanks for following along, Tiffany! And I like how you put “really” in parenthesis because that’s exactly why I decided to breakdown and get serious about my bookeeping. It’s easy to get excited about incoming funds and completely gloss over all the outflows. I should’ve done a better job earlier in my business, but better late than never!

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