About Me…

The world of blogging! I am getting hip with the times here! I thought to start off on my very first blog post I would start with a bit about myself.  My name is Rhonda, I was born and raised in the midwest! GO BIG RED!! If you are not from the midwest and have fellow Nebraskans near you, I GET IT NOW. We are obsessed with our football and no matter what day or season it is we rep our team! I just realized how intense us fans are compared to other places. That’s a whole other story!

I am a professional photographer with a degree in photography, I know what your thinking! Really a degree? Yes, there is so much more to photography than pointing and clicking your iPhone or Android phone.  Its pretty technical and complicated! It’s a form of art for me personally and I just love what I can create beyond my phone camera.  What is even more awesome is the world of film photography also known as analog for all you technical people:) I still shoot film along with digital, there is nothing more gratifying that developing a roll of film and having the image in your head come out perfectly.

I am also a mother of 4, yes 4. I still say it and go “that can’t be right!” My oldest is 16 and my youngest is 2.  Let that sink in, I need a reality show sometimes. I would call it “Toddlers & Teenagers.”  I have 3 girls and 1 boy, my son is the oldest and least likely to cause drama.  That has not always been the case, he started off a lot of work and now is my easiest!  My youngest is the alpha, she can take down every single one of them in a heartbeat, it’s quite entertaining and scary at the same time. She is also the smallest in every way.

I love taking photos, capturing memories, places and people. I can’t imaging not doing this!  I recently left my full-time job, I was passionate about my position and then one day things changed.  I felt like it was not for me anymore and I was failing at my job.  I had been with the company for 13 years and never failed, I know now that had I not been in that situation I would have never left the company. Sometimes you are pushed in different directions for a reason. I miss my friends and the atmosphere but in the long run it was not what I was supposed to be doing.

That brings me to this place, I am charting new territories and feeling a little lost on how to be successful. Marketing and promoting, talking to people who don’t know me are all new experiences. Writing blogs and putting myself all over the internet while trying not to worry about expense and feeding a family of 6. How do you get people to see you and trust you with their memories…. I am figuring things out and working toward my goals.  I will always be an artist and photography is my choice of medium.  Wedding photography is so much fun, I completely fell in love with it 5 years ago and have now decided to purse it.  I can’t forget about my art side, I love to paint and often use my photography to come up with ideas for painting. I wanted to combine both of these loves into my business.  In addition to wedding and couples photography I also host traveling paint parties for bachelor/bachelorette parties, bridal and wedding showers and birthday/ anniversary parties. I allow you to paint from one of my designs or work to create a special design unique to your occasion.

59531_10152432876110411_1809178039_n

Art Inspiration

From as long as I could remember I was always creating art. I loved how colors blended and lines created images, how you could transform those images into emotion.  My favorite artist is Frida Kahlo, followed by Georgia O’Keefe. Both women were born in the days where women were housewives, women did not have careers.  Both women were strong enough to do what they loved and did not care what others thought. Their works are amazing and beautiful and emotional. My art style was a lot like Frida, nothing was really lifelike, it was imaginative and weird and different.

Through college I was rushed, I was 30 ish with a full time job, single parent duties and in school full time. On top of that I played Volleyball and Softball every week and dodgeball in the winter, My kids also had Football and Dance classes to be driven to and from. I also ran 7 miles a day 4 days a week. I was in go mode from the time I woke up till the time I went to bed.  My Art suffered and my grades were ok. My work life was falling apart, changes were happening and I had to take a step back into a position that I was really bored with. I was making art, even though it was rushed, I was still getting lost in my creativity and although it was not my best work, I was finding time for it. When I am able to sit down and focus on my art work, weather thats with painting, or photography, I get into the zone. It is almost like a soul cleansing peaceful existence where nothing else seems to be happening. It refreshes my life and my day and makes all my issues seem minor. I can’t articulate exactly how that feels, but I just reset.

What is your reset?

 

Yesterday I spent the entire day networking with the wedding industry, Planners, Designers, other Photographers, dress boutiques and desert specialist.  What an incredible event the Knot.com put on at the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale! One of my biggest take aways was from Jove Meyer, a LGBTQI A wedding planner from New York.

I am an open minded God fearing person, I have a strong faith in the lord but at the same time don’t agree with religious hate.  There is a difference in living a life where you put good into the world and one where institutions put in their own views. I believe ALL PEOPLE ARE GOD’S children and every bible verse tells you NOT to hate. The message I see is to love everyone especially the ones who are different than you.

Jove spoke from the heart and asked us to imagine life without support from your family and friends because of who you love. This exercise helped me imagine what that might feel like, to hear Jove lose his composure when he spoke really brought out how tough this has been for him. I tend to think positively and discount things being alright when they may not be.   Jove was able to bring me down to earth and open my heart and mind to how to support and service these couples.  I realized I am taking a risk as well, I am open to lifestyles that are not my own.  I also have family who are not, I risk losing support from them by posting this, by opening my services and support to this community. I realized this is not at the same magnitude as these couples face, but it helps me to begin to understand what courage it takes to be open and risk losing the people you love over your lifestyle.

Thank you for your bravery, you are beautiful, you are strong, you are loved!

Photographing All Love

Start Up Woes

The more I advertise and push my brand the more I am expected to purchase.  I feel like I’m in the shark tank with social media and the targeting.  Let me give you an example here; when I search for wedding planners I then get spammed in my Facebook feed with wedding venues, florist and more photographer pages. SERIOUSLY! I drop 6 posts a day on my Facebook page, then I forward this to my personal page. I screen shot it and save the link to my website and # the ship out of it on IG and then to twitter and tumbler. Then I get 12 ads for all the key words I use in spam back at me.

IG, is worse I get brand rep opportunities provided I purchase something and promote it on my page that way they make a sale and I apparently get a small profit for advertising their items. No guarantee I will see a dime, just guaranteed sales for the company as I HAVE TO BUY the item I rep……. I like IG for the organic feedback and likes, but building followers to use those likes for adds is slow. If you like it put a $ on it!

Several articles specify that traditional marketing is dead, I’m not sure this is true or not. It seems like they are all pushing you to pay for ads that go nowhere but in Facebook’s pocket.  I see several local business advertising in free newspapers and through local mailers.  The real question is what does my target millennial audience prefer? Social media or should I be targeting my photography business to their parents?

I knew going into this starting my own business would be difficult and costly. I have high expectations for myself and my work. I am driven to make this happen but the learning curve is difficult. It would be so easy to go back to work and make a good living, doing something that is not what I am passionate about. It comes easy to me as I have had 13 years of learning experience in risk & fraud.  It would also mean going back to an office and limiting my earning potential  to a salary or hourly rate making someone else money.

#fauxpicassoart

Why Hire a Professional

So today lets get a bit off the subject of photography, I am a little bummed out with marketing a start up today. It seems like no one is in the market for photography services right now, or they want to pay $10 and get them all for free!!  So lets talk about what you really get with hiring someone to capture your life as it is right now!

Number One, you get to be in the photo without an  awkward arm in the shot.  Ever notice how weird that is?  I mean really now after reading this you will go WTF thats all I notice now.  Don’t you just want one nice photo with your arms where they are normally positioned at?

Number two, you are limited to the filters on your phone or social media app.  There is so much more that can happen in Photoshop or Lightroom that will blow away your selection of filters on your social media page. AND there so much better!

Number Three, printing those images are fun. You go to your local drug store or online discount print place, do they call you when your image is pixelated and looks like crap? NO they send you some jacked up low quality print and then go “you uploaded it, deal with it, HAHA sucker we have your money now”

Number four, I spend an hour or two to a full day photographing you depending on what is going on.  This means my trained eye is cutting out your uncle or cousin who is in the background being a goof, I’m looking for the best angle that flatters you and the situation. I am also looking for the most artistic and dramatic lighting to give you something no selfie could ever capture.

Number five, After seeking out the most amazing artistic and flattering photos I spend 2 to 40 hours editing those to bring out the most appealing beautiful photo you could possibly imagine.  What do you get paid for $40 hours worth of work?

It takes a long time to master photoshop, I have some training and I learn something new every day, I seek out whats hot and trendy in editing and I see how others edit.  Its time consuming and I still have a lot to learn.  Then you have to pay for photoshop, its not free. Yes there are versions that are basic, but they are still difficult and take time and experience to learn.

You really get what you pay for and then some by hiring a professional to do the work.  I can’t tell you how many times I stumble across a photo and just want to offer to fix it. I can tell when its bad and so can your friends, they may say “oh so cool” but to be honest they are just being nice.

Beach Please

Lake Havasu & Carlsbad

Sometimes you just need a break from yourself.  I quit my job in April, since that time I have been full speed ahead promoting my business, changing my business model, and really having an eye-opening experience. Sometimes your expectations of yourself are too high and unrealistic.  This is how I was feeling over the last month.  I spend most of April prepping products, paintings and art class ideas. I was promoting on Facebook, google, and local pages. My website http://www.fauxpicasso.com was brining in a ton of hits, my google analytics showed thousands of hits, Facebook and IG were the same.

I set up a date to have an open house, invite some friends out to paint with me, drink with me, have fun in my photo booth bring their children and see what I could offer up.  The day came and I spent the entire time prepping and cleaning and getting set up. Not knowing who was coming if anyone. When the time came, I had 2 people show up, we painted and had a great time however I was not really prepared for that let down.  I said in my head it would be ok, it would be fantastic to have just the two show up.  Realistically I was a little hurt and confused as to how so many hits , so many likes and maybe resulted in such a low turn out.  Was it me? Timing? did I not give enough advance notice?  Was it too late in the day? My drive suddenly was at 0% and I realized for the first time that this was not going to happen overnight.

Faith got me started, a plan and vision from God put this in my head and I was just giving up? So after really having a mini grown up temper tantrum I decided to refocus my business model.  I am an artist and have always been but I am a photographer and a good one. I am the most critical of my work, that comes from spending a lot of time in critiques and having people judge your work and them not always understanding or liking it. After clearing my head I really wanted to focus on weddings, photography and art parties tailored to this market.

I needed to get away and get out of my space, leave my life, thoughts and negativity behind. I decided I needed beach, if you are a fan you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes your happy place just calls you to come home.  The beach is this for me, I am lucky that it is only a 5 hour drive away, I also wanted to see something on my bucket list.  Lake Havasu is 4 hours away and a never been for me.  I packed up myself and my 3 girls and we make a week out of it. Surprising camping is fairly cheap and quite an adventure for kids.

Lake Havasu State Park is amazing! The park is clean and each camp site has water hook ups and electrical boxes.  Having electric and water on site is amazing! The view of the beach was visible from each spot and so beautiful at sunset! My only miss was that it is May in Arizona, this means the face of the sun makes everything completely unbearable!! We made the best of it and spent most of the day swimming in the lake near London Bridge beach, and the other part of the day playing at McDonald’s play place or driving around exploring the city. The beauty part about sleeping in a tend in the desert is at night when it cools off and you can sleep for a few hours before the sun comes back up.. That is when your tent poles do not break and your tent stays upright:(  Lesson of the day “do not buy Wal-Mart brand anything” That reminds me I need to return that junk.

On Day 3 we packed up our broke tent, load the food and cooler on the truck and head the 5 hours to Carlsbad!  Weather.com shows its 70 and sunshine in Carlsbad, CA and we are SO ready to be cool.  The dive was beautiful, through the mountains from Arizona into California on highway 40 were just amazing.  We finally get to Carlsbad, a bit too early to check in.  What ever shall we do while we wait??? BEACH!!!!!! So refreshing and beautiful, I just get lost in the sounds of the Ocean how majestic the water is pushing and pulling the sand in and out.  The waves have this amazing calming effect and the light shimmering off the water is just beautiful. I still can’t believe I don’t live there yet, one day!  The girls just loved running in and out of the waves on shore, no one wanted to leave.  We get checked into Carlsbad state part beach, not a single disappointing spot to camp at. Your up on a bluff and can hear the waves, and taste it in the air. We are right next to the stairs to get down to the beach, it really felt like a private beach for us. The weather was turning a bit cloudy with a little humidity in the air and it was a beautiful break from our previous day in the blazing sun. We got our NEW tent put up, Coleman brand , about $30 more than our junk tent, but the quality was by far superior! Started a little bon fire and roasted some marshmallows and played with our giant frisbee! Later we went down to take some photos on the beach and play in the sand. Best of all we got to use our sleeping bags for the first time and we actually slept!

We spent the next day hanging out on the beach and having some fun. I really dont like leaving the beach, its always a bitter sweet feeling. I love to sit back and just reset my mind, leave my stress behind and soak in the beauty.  My drive home seemed quick and my mind felt at ease.  This is what I had been lookin for, the reset button.

What is your reset button?

Some of the photos I took from each location

,