Expectations

When it comes to expectations I tend to be the little yodeling man on the “Price Is Right” mountain climber game. No matter if I am talking about what I expect from myself, what is expected of me by others or even what I expect of others, I tend to sing my way right off the edge of the mountain. I have very high expectations for myself and do my best to live up to them. I have a few people in my life that I try to live up to their expectations of me but they are a select group. I learned a long time ago that trying to be everything that everyone wants you to be is an exhausting, worthless effort.

My big issue is my expectations of others. I am not super demanding. I don’t have unrealistic expectations of perfection.

My expectations are simple:

  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Compassion
  • Respect

I keep them simple because having specific expectations, in my humble opinion, is a quick recipe for disappointment. I also want my friends and family to expect the same from me. I wish people disappointing me didn’t eat at me so much. I take it to heart and start to wonder why these simple things can’t be accomplished.

As much as I wish I could make people change, it is ultimately their choice to be the way that they are. I wish I could just move on, wash my hands of the nonsense, quit stressing and live my life. I just can’t without feeling like I failed.

Advertisements

Say Cheese! CLICK! CLICK! Print! (Repost from my Biz Blog)

6680738823_e2fc1675d8As many of you probably heard, a few days ago the company that owned & operated Sears & PictureMe portrait studios has decided to close its 2,700 studios in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  All but about 80 studios were located in Sears and Walmart stores.

The Sears Portrait Studio website and PictureMe Portrait Studio, appeared to be no longer active this morning. A message on the Sears site said that clients could view photos and place orders until April 18, 2013.

I have heard a few people in the past talk about how can it be $19.99 at one of the chain studios for a sitting, (2) 8×10, (4) 5×7, (16) wallets and 2 keychains and at least $50 just for a sitting with an independent, professional photographer. The answer is simple, yet complicated. Clear as mud!

Places like Sears, JC Penney, PictureMe, etc. have a simple business concept; get as many people in, out and sales completed as possible each day. I grew up taking the yearly trek to Sears with the grandparents in my Sunday best. I am not just a bitter pro. But, I have to point out that these studios have changed since the 80’s/90’s when I was rocking the big bangs for my photos.

Sears Portrait Studios were in business for more than 60 years. They were initially run the same way as many independent pros were. You had your photo taken by a trained, photographer who knew about exposure, aperture, shutter speed and all that good stuff! There was no automatic camera mode and no auto-focus lenses.

Your negatives were sent to a central studio where they were edited (if needed) and printed on professional paper. Their pricing also used to be only slightly less than many seasoned pros. They had to pay qualified photographers, maintain and lab & technicians, transport prints to their studios etc.

As technology evolved, so did their business model. Once computer chips were no longer the size of a toaster and could fit into cameras it became easier to take a good photo without tons of knowledge about photography. Cameras grew brains! Chain studios could now employ photographers who were willing to undergo a short corporate training program on how to work the camera and how to set up portraits.

With the ability to hire high school and college students to take their photos, view the proofs on a screen, have the client pick their prints and send them home with photos printed in house, things got less costly.

So, that seems like they should be rolling in the Benjamins, right? WRONG! A successful photography business, as with any other business it built on clients, not customers. What is the difference between a customer and a client?

A customer buys your product or service and may or may not return. Gas station convenient stores have customers!

A client not only purchases your product or service but they build a relationship with you and not only return to your business when they have a need for you but usually work ONLY with you.

The overall decrease in client-based business and the increase in customer-based businesses makes me sad. I’m sad not just for my business but for all of the people who miss out because they want to save a little money but often end up paying for it (financially, mentally, emotionally) in the end. There is an awesome little hardware store down the street from me that I go to for all of my needs. Yes, Home Depot may save me $0.50 but the service is just not the same. Their hours are not 7am-9pm like the chains but I really don’t care! They know me at the store and what I buy. I don’t even have to tell the “16x20x1” when I go for furnace filters. Everyone seems to be in such a big hurry these days to get things done right NOW! I’m all for fast and convenient, as long as it doesn’t put “quick” before “quality.”

So, to answer the initial question posed, “How can it be $19.99 at one of the chain studios for a sitting, (2) 8×10, (4) 5×7, (16) wallets and 2 keychains and at least $50 just for a sitting with an independent, professional photographer?” Not only are you paying for the photographer to have extensive knowledge about the principles of photography, not just the camera they are using. The independent photographer always has available at least 2 camera bodies and various lenses, flashes, reflectors, props and candy for bribing children (and adults). You are also paying for someone to personally review every single imaged that was captured, make minor adjustments, remove small imperfections such as a stray hair, blemish, drool on a baby’s face, a fleck of dirt on the face. Excellent editing software to do these edits, like Adobe Photoshop, is worth its weight in gold and costs almost that much. First and foremost you are paying for a photographer that you trust with your treasured memories.

Tweh, Bowdeya. “Sears, PictureMe Portrait Studios Closing.” Cincinnati.com. Gannett, 04 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. <http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130404/BIZ/304040108/Sears-PictureMe-portrait-studios-closing>.

Say Cheese! 11/366. N.d. Photograph. Flickr. Yahoo Inc., 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 4 Apr. 2013. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/florida_girl_photos/6680738823/>.

Oh, Free Speech!

And I thought all the nonsense would end after the election! I held out until after the Inauguration and still no relief.

The latest “hot topic” on the FB seems to be gun control. I have a few Facebook friends who seem to post the most ridiculous nonsense all day everyday. I have had to block their updates and posts from my newsfeed.

I take no issue with people owning guns. No matter what the laws are the people who really want them will still get them. Bank robbers, serial killers, anti-government folks, etc will find a way. They tend to disregard laws.

My issue is with the people who want to pass on this crazy, false information. One girl keeps posting about how Obama is going to take people’s guns. Yes, the POTUS is going to knock on your door and take your “piece.”

I have no issue with extensive background checks, waiting periods and training requirements. I don’t want some fool who thinks they need a gun to be required to take classes on how to properly use it or at least pass a test just like a driver’s license.

Ok, my point wasn’t really even about guns specifically 🙂 I just hate people who see these pictures & post and decide they must repost this outrageous sounding information without first taking the 2 minutes to verify it is actually true.

Don’t you think a post by a group called “Americans for Guns” will be just as biased as a group called “Protect Our Kids From Guns?” Common Sense people! Check your information before you perpetuate lies and hilarity!

Winter Sminter

20130223-202257.jpg

I guess I have become one of those old people obsessed with the weather and snow.

I bought the Ramlet a snowsuit last year, as if a 3 month old needed one. I didn’t get one this year, which turned out to be smart. We have have gotten one puddily snowfall. What the deuce!?!
As you can see the Ramlet, who hates wearing pants, loves to look out the window.

He was so excited when it snowed. He looked out his window from his bed and let me sleep in 45 extra minutes. The sleep was nice but it was awesome to see him so amazed by snow.

Stealers Stink!

As a Bengals fan, yes, I do think the Pittsburgh Steelers stink but I am talking about stealers…photo stealers!

Thankfully, I have never had my photos stolen, to my knowledge. I have seen lots of posts lately by other photogs on message boards and Facebook about having their work stolen.

I am a firm believer that it is NOT stealing to use other people’s work for inspiration, recreate poses, setups, etc. After all, there are very few “original ideas” left no matter if you believe the world has been around for thousands of years or billions of years.

I am talking about people who use other people’s photos and either remove the watermark or find photos without a watermark and pass them off as their own.

If you give the illusion that you can take photos like the ones you stole, you better be able to! Oh wait! If you could, why wouldn’t you just use your own photos? SNAP!

I spent this past weekend taking down all my Facebook albums on my business page and making sure every photo was watermarked, reorganizing the albums and updating. Thankfully I only found a few photos without my watermark that had slipped through the cracks. My website puts my watermark on automatically 🙂 Lazy people rejoice!

As a nosey person, I am DYING to see some of the pictures and who stole them. Well, darn the people who had their photos stolen for not publicly calling out the stealers so I could see.

Being My Own Biggest Fan

I have spent a lot of time these past few weeks checking out the Facebook sites, websites and such of fellow photogs. I joined a photo group online and everyone shows their work, asks for critiques, asks questions…etc.

Pretty nifty, most of the time. I would guess that 40-60% of the posts come from the same 5-10 people, excluding administrator posts.

It seems that there are plenty of people ready to toot their own horn. And tell you all about how great their horn is.

I have never had that problem! I think art school scarred me for life! I like feedback but many people just don’t know how to give feedback without sounding like an a-hole! This has given me a bit of a self-conscious streak about my work. Darn them to Hades!

I received an email today from a previous client who was wanting to set up another session. It warmed my heart to hear her loving words for my work. I don’t need people patting me on the back and giving me gold stars but unsolicited praise is always appreciated. Too bad unsolicited criticism flows more freely these days that praise.

I love my work or I wouldn’t do it. I am not ashamed of my early work and often sit and analyze it for what I could have done better and see how I have improved.

The learning process never ends. When it does, you take your last breath.

Words To Shoot By :)

Words To Shoot By 🙂

Being My Own Biggest Fan

I have spent a lot of time these past few weeks checking out the Facebook sites, websites and such of fellow photogs. I joined a photo group online and everyone shows their work, asks for critiques, asks questions…etc.

Pretty nifty, most of the time. I would guess that 40-60% of the posts come from the same 5-10 people, excluding administrator posts.

It seems that there are plenty of people ready to toot their own horn. And tell you all about how great their horn is.

I have never had that problem! I think art school scarred me for life! I like feedback but many people just don’t know how to give feedback without sounding like an a-hole! This has given me a bit of a self-conscious streak about my work. Darn them to Hades!

I received an email today from a previous client who was wanting to set up another session. It warmed my heart to hear her loving words for my work. I don’t need people patting me of the back and giving me gold stars but unsolicited praise is always appreciated. Too bad unsolicited criticism flows more freely these days that praise.

I love my work or I wouldn’t do it. I am not ashamed of my early work and often sit and analyze it for what I could have done better and see how I have improved.

The learning process never ends. When it does, you take your last breath.

Words To Shoot By :)

Words To Shoot By 🙂

12 Things I Learned About Life During 2012

1. Life is never forever! Today a close friend of my BIL passed away from cancer. He was diagnosed with lung cancer less than 6 months ago. Just this week it was discovered that his treatments were not working and it had spread to his liver. He had just turned 30.

2. No matter how much they drive you crazy, your child(ren) bless your life. This year I have witnessed the struggles of women in my life, including a close friend, to have a child.

3. Stretch marks are OK. I don’t love them but I certainly don’t feel the same way that I felt this time last year. They will never fully go away so why worry?

4. It is okay to wear your pajamas most of the day. It is more important that my son has fun being a little boy. We roll around on the floor, play with the dogs, eat snacks and usually spill something.

5. Sometimes I need to just let it be and leave it alone! I tend to try to save the world but need to spend less time worrying about stuff that isn’t my problem.

6. Karma is a biotch…I hope! I have encountered a few less than moral and honest people in this past year that I made sure are not apart of my family’s life. After 29 years of living I still do not understand what goes on in some people’s head.

7. A cookie makes everything better, just ask my son!

8. Who cares what size your clothes are? Be healthy, do your best and don’t obsess.

9. Having faith in yourself is the most important part “being the best.” There is no best! The so-called best are just people who have faith in themselves and p

ursue their dreams & talents to the best of their ability.

10. The best gifts are not things. On Christmas night, Baby Ram-a-razzi planted a big wet kiss on the lips on me before bed. We never kiss him on the mouth. It was hilarious and adorable. It was the best gift I received.

11. You can never have enough AA batteries! I have dipped into my camera bag’s rechargables from time-to-time to power a favorite toy, Mr. Ram-a-razzi’s handy remote control and the occasional clock. Santa will be getting a request for the Costco sized battery pack next year.

12. Always get in the photo! It makes me so sad to say but if you look at photos of my son’s first birthday you would never know I was there. I was so wrapped up in documenting it that I am not in a single photo. I cried that night.

Quit Blaming and Start Helping!

*Stepping onto my pink, glittery soapbox*

It has been a week since 20 innocent children and 6 brave teachers were taken from their friends and families. Why is everyone still trying to blames this on Obama, gun control, the NRA and such? People who are bound and determined to commit acts of evil don’t pay attention to laws and policies.

The fact of the matter is no one wants to deal with mental illness. A teacher reports a student showing signs of potential mental illness and instead of going to a school psychologist (if the district can afford to have one) the issue is often brushed aside for fear of lawsuit or backlash from parents. As with many serious illnesses, the problem can start small and grow if left unaddressed.

Many people who are mentally ill do not realize it. Without the intervention of close friends, family members and medical professionals treatment can be impossible. It is nearly impossible to commit someone against their will for treatment without imminent danger to you or themselves.

Until 50 years ago mental illness was treated seriously, and aggressively, sometimes to a fault. I by no means wish to institutionalize all types of mental illness again but right now our only options seem to be waiting until there has been a jail worthy offense committed or trying to procure our own resources. Dealing with a child, young adult or even adult can be a difficult task for even the most highly trained professionals.

Many parents try their best to get the children the help they need but hit the walls of financial constraint and not knowing where to locate resources. I can not imagine being in the predicament of needing both parents to work to afford the best care but still needing the time to make sure the care is accessible. Many private insurance companies do not cover mental health services or cover them with high co-pays and deductibles.

I read a statistic that since Columbine the United States has had more school violence than the rest of the world combined! Why? Mental health care. In the last 3 years the US has lost 10% of its psychiatric inpatient beds to hospital closures and budgets cuts. The average stay for a mental health issue is 3-7 days. Considering medications can take up to 6 weeks for side effects and results to occur that is pretty scary.

Most mental health institutions were funded by states and with the help of government funding for healthcare.

Everyone is so eager to save on taxes that they overlook where the money is being cut from. In a perfect world we could vote for lower taxes and stipulate where we think the money should be cut from. I wish it worked that way but it doesn’t. We need to put the pressure on our law makers, insurance companies and spread the facts about mental illness to help solve the problem of violence in our society.

Nifty Idea

Gift Bows from 35mm film – CLICK ME!

I got this really neat idea in my PhotoJoJo Newsletter! Great for all you photogs and for those who love a photogeek 🙂

PhotoJoJo is also one of my favorite places to buy fun photo-related gift, accessories and whatnot.

I made some of my Christmas cookies with these cutters/stamps. Pretty awesome! $18 + tax, title & license (ok…tax and shipping)