The Portrait Masters conference of 2019
Viewing entries in
Behind the Scenes
Preliminary thoughts after my recent education with Parker Pfister. Dreaming into it…
Kim Moran Personal Branding session at Studio 828 Photography in Asheville, NC
Vickie Wyatt personal branding session at Studio 828 Photography in Asheville,NC
Honey, I’m Hooooome! Wow! WHAT. A. Trip. Somebody pinch me! In case I hadn’t told you (oh who am I kidding? Of course I told you), I’ve spent the last two weeks abroad in Paris, France. You read that correctly, Paris! Gah! ANNNND! It was for a workshop with the leading photographer of women in. the. world!!!! Sue Bryce.
You might remember that I studied under Sue in one of her courses for the better part of 2015. That in and of itself allowed me to grow my own skill set to better my shooting and my business practices. In short, it changed my business. In October of last year, I traveled to New York to a photography trade-show (Photo Plus Expo) to meet her. Well, I took other classes also but, meeting Sue was at the top of my list.
Then, she announced her workshop in Paris. It was this incredible, dream-worthy, and completely unattainable goal. I literally had NO IDEA how I would afford it but, I was going. No ifs, ands, or buts. It seemed impossible. And then it wasn’t. I jumped in feet first. I was going to Paris to study under Sue Bryce. There was no question. “Impossible IS I’m Possible” right?
Sue brought her team of mentors to teach an intense two days of shooting, business, and if you follow Sue at all you know she will also present you with the opportunity to face you own deamons, too.
The workshop was held in a Chateau in St Germaine en Laye…where Amadeus Mozart stayed on THREE different occasions, and even wrote about the home himself. It is one thing to see this place in photographs and completely another to walk through the doors.
I was greeted by the mentors, Sue, and Cookie. Sue’s adorably famous star Pug. She immediately ran right up my leg, gave me a kiss and ran away again.
I must admit, I was way off my game for most of the first day. Well more nervous than I had expected to be not to mention, my camera was malfunctioning somehow (being rectified, no worries), and I felt like, like…I felt like it was my first day on a new job. New people, new expectations, I didn’t know what those expectations were, new workflow, and everyone was nice, and patient, and wonderful and I’m over here in the corner all “hey, look at my thumbs!”.
About half way through the day I found my stride. My camera would fire when I told it to, I was more comfortable with the setting and holy wow did I shoot some beautiful portraits! Even during one of the scenarios did I receive personal, one-on-one mentoring with Sue.
One of the things that I loved most about the workshop is that attendance was so limited so that Sue was able TO give individual attention outside of the classroom setting. I can honestly say that my shooting, even if I gleaned nothing else from this course (which is NOT the case), the quality of my shooting has grown by leaps and bounds. Their (Sue and Emily London Miller‘s) guidance literally, changed my life.
And that was just day one.
Day Two was all about the biz! The pricing, the marketing and networking, and the part where you are faced with your own YOU. AKA, do or die, baby! Needless to say, there were a lot of tears that second day, even by me. (I’m not really a public crier normally but on day two…holy cow! Waterworks over here!)
And then there was dancing. Yes, dancing. We had scrapped an idea to flashmob Sue at lunch that day (being grown, professional adults) and then a little birdie told Sue what we had been planning. Yyyyyeah, so we were called out and you’d better believe that about 8 or 10 of us got up there and did a choreographed dance to “Fireball” by Pitbull. Choreographed by one Rodney Pedroza. I also discovered something else…I probably shouldn’t spin in public without a dancing partner.
This trip abroad was a lot of things: I made connections with amazing photographers from the US, the UAE, and Europe, for the first time in my life I facilitated something wonderful in my life, on my own that had nothing to do with anyone or anything other than my own desires both personally and professionally, I studied under the number one photographer of women in the world, THE WORLD, and I am facing some pretty incredible aspects of myself that I both am and am not prepared to face, and I welcome it.
I know! All this from one workshop huh?
Thank you, Sue. Again and again, your influence has changed my life, Thank you.
For anyone considering whether or not a workshop given by a leader in your field is worth the time or the expense, look a little closer. I hear, so often that “Oh, it was at a workshop, that’s WHY it’s good.” which I think is a cop-out. In attending education, given by those at the top of their field, YOUR field you are giving yourself the opportunity to grow. You are investing in yourSELF and you WILL grow from it. I highly recommend it.
PS – don’t be surprised if I purchase all the crown molding from my local supply store (ALL of it) and paint it gold. PS: If I go missing, it’s because my husband came home and discovered that I DIY’ed our brick ranch into a French chateau. Those walls though, GAH!
DIY flower crown, baby!!!
I did my first Periscope last night and…helloooo, SO. FUN. You can follow me at @catfordcoates I’ve been making a list about different topics to scope on and its lookin like I’ll be using it’s fabulousness pretty regularly. Oh! AND! I got my first troller on the scope last night too! While, I need to remember not to curse AT people ON Periscope, it felt pretty cool. Haha! You know you’ve “made it” when…
At any rate, I am a sucker for a DIY project! Now, that isn’t to say that I am particularly GOOD at DIY. I love to paint, and sew, and do all the crafty things but I am far and away from being good at any of them. What’s the rule? It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to get done. Story of my life right there!
Don’t get me wrong. I am very detail oriented, but in very specific tasks. Things like client work, SEO for my website, spelling (haha), but when it comes to building props or creating dress options for my studio…Girl, none of that needs to be perfection. I’m not selling it on a runway. They are tools to set my photography apart and help my clients to feel special and beautiful. <<<That right there is my number one priority. Period.
That being said, I have a photo shoot coming up next weekend. This shoot is serving two purposes:
- It is part of my “stay inspired” series where I shoot concepts just for me, and to build my portfolio in new directions. The theme? “Marie Antoinette”
- Shooting editorial portraits for a lingerie designer that we are hoping to feature in a magazine (I’ll keep you posted)
What I love about the two looks is that it’s allowing me to stretch my legs in designing a themed photo shoot, giving us two completely different options for Marie Antoinette, one of which will be directed more towards portraiture and the other towards boudoir. It’ll be fab!
So, in creating a prop for one of the looks I decided that:
- I needed to build a flower crown.
- I needed to periscope it to show:
- how frickin easy it is
- have a double-purposed video (one on Periscope and one I could use here on my blog)
- I needed to periscope it to show:
…and then I went down the rabbit hole and made two, had my super squishy assistant Matilda wearing one (she’s a golden/aussie and the best assistant ever!), and made a giant mess of my dining room. The latter is nothing all that new. I build most of the crafty hacks for my portrait studio here at home.
Here is the periscope video in case you missed it! Be sure to download the app so you can follow me live! Also, my Instagram has all of my funness as well: behind the scenes, Matilda (because, duh!), client favorites, and the list goes on. Both handles are:
See you on the other side!
Preparing for a photo shoot as a photographer. So, what does that mean? What are this photographer’s steps of service? Don’t I just show up and shoot and send you home? Nah, it wouldn’t be nearly the experience for either of us if that were all there was to it. What is my process? Well, there are a few steps.
First and foremost: I have you in to our photo studio here in Asheville for a consultation (or via Skype if you aren’t local – @CatFC828) and we get to know one another a bit. Really, its a conversation more than anything. I ask you questions about what you’re hoping to get out of a photo shoot experience with us. Is it to celebrate a recent victory? A holiday or anniversary gift for a loved one? Investing in your own self care? Maybe you haven’t had a professional portrait taken in a while…or ever? You ask me questions, whatever is coming up for you: What do I wear? How much should I bring? Should I do my hair? What kind of shoes should I bring? What kind of artwork do you offer? How much is it? Can I bring a friend/daughter/sister/mom/partner? We’ll address all of these things, and more. These consultations typically take 30-45 minutes and are no obligation. If after we meet you decide that maybe I’m not the right photographer for you, that’s okay too.
What do YOU get from this consultation?
- You get a sense of who I am as a person and a professional photographer and an opportunity to connect with me on a personal level. This of course, allows you to build trust in your choice of photographer and not into some random person you hope will do a good job.
- You see the studio for yourself and can peruse the wardrobe we have in house
- Examples of what I mean by “texture vs print”
- A direct understanding of our products and pricing menu by showcasing our artwork with examples and discussing the options that may or may not work best for your needs
- Confidence about things you need to know to prepare for your photo shoot. Look, coming in blind to a session creates insecurity both in your expectations of us and yourself. That education is key to you feeling confident in your wardrobe choices and your choice in photographer. Sure, you could hire just anyone to take your picture and, in most cases probably have. Maybe you loved the artwork that photographer created? Maybe you didn’t. It is my job to ensure that we create imagery that you love and will be able to pass down through generations and that deserves more than a 10 minute conversation about how I take your money and when you want to shoot. You deserve a photographer that will tailor your appointment to you and your needs, be available to help you plan your session through inspiration and skill. We are a full service studio. We are there for you from the second you inquire with us all the way through the delivery of your artwork, and then some.
From this consultation I am able to really get a sense of you, your personality, your likes and dislikes and I use this information to tailor your photo shoot TO you.
- Design a posing map based on your wardrobe, body type and personality
- Learn about things you might not be so comfortable with about yourself and be sure to pose you in a way that is flattering for all of your best features
- Understand the types of artwork you are interested in to help me shoot with that artwork in mind.
So, we’ve had our consultation, now what? Well, if you choose to move forward with your makeover and photo shoot with us we will:
- confirm your date with our calendar. That requires a non-refundable retainer paid either at your consultation or a date determined by our conversation at your consultation.
- send you our PDF about the details on how to prepare; everything we discuss at your consultation and more in detail.
- communicate either by email or phone about additional questions that you have before the shoot. For example, you might be out shopping and trying to decide between a few outfits. Text them to me and I’ll give you my recommendations and why. Send me your pinterest boards, tell me what imagery on my website that you love and are drawn to and why and feel free to pin those images as well. You can add comments to everything that you pin so I can know right away when I connect with your board.
- follow up with you to remind you about your session the day before your shoot and then we’ll meet at the studio for your appointment.
During this time, I also take a few hours to sketch out my ideas for your session based on everything we discussed at your consultation, communication before your shoot and any inspiration you’ve provided. I’m no Picasso with a pencil however (see above image), these sketches allow me to solidify a posing map specifically designed for you. I’ll then use this map when you arrive in the studio to plan out your poses once I have your wardrobe in house while you’re in hair and makeup with our stylist.
When you arrive at our studio,we’ll take your before photo and you will go directly in to hair and makeup. Our stylist will discuss with you personally how you’re envisioning your hair style and your makeup for your session as well as anyone else receiving this service in your party. I will be finalizing our posing map based on your wardrobe selection, shooting some behind the scenes stills and video and arranging our first set.
Once we’re into the shoot, I’ll be coaching and directing you through the entire process based on that posing map. I’ll also be sure to capture candid in between poses as well. How you carry yourself naturally is beautiful and while I want to have the foundation of the map, your natural beauty will shine on it’s own as you become more comfortable and I want to capture that, above all else.
Following your photo shoot, we will schedule your in person reveal and ordering session. It is typically within a week of your photo shoot. At this reveal session we will go through all of your edited imagery together and you will choose your favorites for your artwork and place your order. Whether you love one image or twenty-five images, what you purchase is completely up to you. It is my job to create beautiful portraits of you that you will love. It is your job to choose your favorites and try not to want everything that we’ve created together. Once your order is placed we will schedule your product delivery. This is usually 3-4 weeks following your ordering appointment and dependent upon the artwork you have purchased (folio collection, wall art, etc.). I will personally deliver your order to you at the time we choose at your reveal session. I drop ship nothing, ever. All of your artwork is delivered to me first, so that I am able to ensure the utmost of quality from my suppliers before it reaches your hands.
For the record, I am a hugger. I am connected to each and every one of my clients and I cherish you all. Each of us has a story and I am so grateful to be able to learn about you and provide this service for you. That being said, more than likely, you’ll get a hug.
So, there you have it. Are you interested in a makeover and photo shoot with us at Studio 828 Photography? I would love to photograph you.