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  • February 23, 2018 12:40 PM | Robin Nordmeyer (Administrator)

    If you are looking for a new way to elevate your brand, try adding Creative Sets to your options! They can help set you apart, make more money, and create a customized touch for your clients. Creative Sets don’t have to be elaborate and overly propped; and they work for all sorts of sessions.

    What is a Creative Set

    To start, we need to define what Creative Sets are. Creative Sets are scenes designed to enhance your client’s experience at your studio. Your subject is the leading star and the set is there to support his or her story.

     Creative Sets don’t have to be complicated or busy. The simplest set, in your signature style, should be profitable – not just break even. It can be as easy as your favorite chair and background combo for a child, a floral & fur layered bowl for a newborn, or even an elaborate Christmas set for large families. 

    Add Style

    Creative sets allow you to establish a new style within your brand. Brand yourself, by becoming instantly recognizable for your Creative Set style. But, remember, the number one rule of creative sets is keeping your subject the Star of the show. Staging sets includes your technical stuff: lighting, posing, and lens selections. Understanding and planning keys, color harmony, lighting ratios and patterns, proper exposure, and camera angles is important.


    Establish the mood you’d like your Creative Set designs to convey, select an appropriate color pallet to match that mood. Then, to be cost effective, look for props that can be used across multiple age groups then refinished later for a new set.

    Add Value

     The goal of Creative Sets is to add value to your brand. They are story telling tools. When you are in the planning stages of the session, you and your client should be planning the final display goals of these images. This conversation creates purpose and adds value and allows extra investment to their session. Part of your job as a professional photographer is to know how you want your work displayed. We are a Print Artist studio, we encourage our clients to invest in a Signature Album or Book with each set a different “Chapter”, Wall Art prints, and one of our collections of Felt Paper Prints + Sliding Box from Miller’s. If your studio sells digital files, upsell an added-on Digital Chapter for extra creative sets. So many times, I mentor photographers who offer all-inclusive packages with the session + digital files and think they can’t offer add-ons. YES. YOU CAN. Either way, Print or Digital, you still must get paid nicely for your extra work.   

     Add Profit

    The key to keeping Creative Sets working for you is to know how much you need to charge for each set. If it’s a custom set for an individual client, the cost will obviously be more than one staged for a full day of mini sessions. For our studio, clients the decided to add this to their session see a price increase of $40 each to the sitting fee + heirlooms. Because we’ve already discussed a final plan for the displaying their portraits, I have a good idea of what I can spend to add to their experience with me.

    This should NOT be a cheap add-on. It takes time to design it on paper, stage, and light. Figuring out how much to charge for your Creative Sets depends on these factors:
    1. Is it for an individual client or a multifamily mini session style event?

    2. Will the Set or any of it’s elements be used again?

    3. How elaborate is the set? Is it a simple backdrop & favorite chair or much more?

    4. How much time will you spend on it shopping and staging?

    5. How much money will you spend shopping and staging it?

    I try to keep shopping for new set elements costs about 15% of the total added to the final order. For example, say a client added on 1 custom creative set for a newborn session:

    1 additional Creative Set ………………….…..$40

    1 additional Chapter in the Album ….....…… $150

    1 additional 16x24 canvas ……………………$550 (priced at the Wall Cluster       discount, $650 a la cart)

    Est Gross Income added to order…....……..$740

    Est. Cost of Creative Set ($740-15%)..........$110

    Cost of Miller’s Canvas…………….…....……$103

    Cost of Extra Chapter (2 spreads)…....…..…$15 + my design time, roughly 10 minutes.

    Est. total net income added on before taxes……..$512, from just 1 additional set.

    15% may not seem like much to spend a Set, but when planned correctly gives lots of wiggle room. For the exampled $110 that I can “play” with is a lot and will be stretched far.

    Remember the goal of adding Creative Sets to your offerings as a studio is to boost what you already do. Creative Sets can be simple or elaborate, that choice is yours. They are a very versatile tool for your studio, so have fun with them! In August, I’ll be showing you my process of building Creative Sets at Develop during a Live Demo Class. This class will be focused on Babies and Children, but the base process is the same for all sessions. My husband Joshua and I will be driving from Georgia, so we’ll have a load of my favorite props in order to show how they are used in real situations. I’ll also be talking more about the subjects in this post, plus how to market Creative Sets & wording for non-pushy up-sells, working with odd-ball client requests, and, most importantly, safety. Needless to say I can't wait!








    Alisha Cline
    Cline Artisan Portraits


  • January 26, 2018 11:05 AM | Robin Nordmeyer (Administrator)

    Hello MOPPA Family! I am Molly Beale, a senior/family photographer out of the Kansas City area.  Normally, I would be paralyzed trying to figure out what to write about, but I pretty much had something in mind. For the last 3-4 years, I’ve been helping the Heart Gallery.

    Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care. The Heart Gallery is a collaborative project of over 80 Heart Galleries across the United States designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in our community.

    It has been over 15 years that Heart Gallery has been going around different places showing off the wonderful photos that volunteers have taken of these children. These children have been removed from abusive and neglectful situations and they still have hope. They love to laugh, to learn, and to be with their friends. Most of all, they dream of finding a forever family to be their own.
    The Heart Gallery in Jackson County has traveled to many different businesses and organizations, including local coffee shops, and churches.
    These photos are also posted to the Adoption Exchange website where families are able to read about the children and request more information from the caseworker or Jessica Latta, Children’s Service Specialist with the Jackson County Children’s Division.

    For the most part, this is a super simple project. I do about a shoot a month. It normally takes just a few hours. Jessica contacts me to ask for a day that I can get a few kids photographed. We decide on a place to shoot, and she gets a list together. The families then bring the kids in and we do what I would consider a “micro” shoot (unless I have more time, and the kid is being cooperative, I’ll shoot a little longer). I do a minor edit on the photos, and send them to Jessica via Dropbox. Since the kids are in the foster care system, I am not allowed to share any of the photos on social media.

    Sometimes it can be a little difficult (I once had a tween/teen brother and sister whose parents had just that week had their parental rights revoked and would have NO part of the photos), but for the most part, the kids and their foster parents are very appreciative, and it is heartwarming for me to think I had any part of them finding their forever homes. Jessica has informed me that they are in need of photographers, especially in the rural areas of Missouri. I can tell you from personal experience, if you enjoy photographing kids, this is very rewarding.

            I would be happy to answer any questions that weren’t addressed in this post, and if you are interested in just jumping in and going for it, here’s Jessica’s contact information - she’s in Jackson County, but she can get you in touch with the coordinator for your area.

    Jessica Latta
    Children's Service Specialist
    Adoption Specialist
    Jackson County Children's Division
    615 E. 13th St. Kansas City, MO 64106
    Ph: 816-889-2276
    Fax: 816-889-2210

    Molly Beale is the owner/ operator of Molly Beale Photography, specializing in photographing seniors and families in the Kansas City and St. Joseph, MO areas. She lives in Edgerton, MO with her husband Randy, son Thomas, and dog Chet the a-hole.


  • January 11, 2018 11:51 AM | Rachel Edgington (Administrator)

      Ok folks, raise your hands if you’ve ever been with a client that was uncomfortable being in front of your camera and told you “I hate my picture being taken.”  (It’s ok, I’ll wait for ya!) Now, if you have been in the photography business for longer than a minute then I know that just about all of you have your hand up in the air right now … just keep it up for a second and think of my next set of scenarios … Keep your hand up still if you as a photographer hate having your own photo taken.  (You still with me?) Raise them still if you have never had a quality head shot taken of yourself. (Yeah, I’m still looking at you! LOL). Without being able to see the readers right now, I’d venture to say that more than half of y’all still have your hands up in the air.  (You can put your hands down now. The blood is starting to drain from your fingers!) Just to be fair, I’ll freely admit that I had my hand up when I was thinking of all three of these scenarios as well. I personally hate to be in front of the camera. As a matter of fact, when people tell me that I should be in pictures, my go-to response is always, and I mean always, “Thanks, but I’m always behind the lens; never in front of it.”

     I was recently honored to be published and while preparing for that the editor had asked me the standard questions about my work that would accompany my image. In addition, I was asked to provide a headshot to go along with the article. What the heck was I going to do? I had nothing to give this guy! Frantically I started to dig through all of my archives looking for this elusive headshot and finally settled on a 5+ year old image that someone had grabbed of me. It wasn’t a great  by any means, but in a pinch it just had to do. It was in this moment of panic that I realized that I needed to face my demons and get in front of some dang glass, and soon!

    I wanted to  challenge  and push myself right to that preverbal edge with a headshot. After many days of pondering my conundrum, it finally hit me. Why not make some killer selfies? And better yet, why use my cell phone when I have 3 camera bodies and all of the equipment to rock out professional looking shots sitting right in my own home, and so, that’s where my journey began. I decided to create a 7 day series of selfies where using a cell phone was not an option and  the images that I created could be considered “portrait worthy.” Instantly I created some game rules to follow:

    • 1.       All the photos needed to be taken at my home.
    • 2.       No one was allowed to help me set up with the lighting, set creations, or poses.
    • 3.       I refused to allow myself to spend a penny on this project.
    • 4.       I had to shoot them in 7 consecutive days, no matter what.
    • 5.       Each image had to look completely different from the day before.
    • 6.       And most of all, the images HAD to be professional & portrait worthy SOOC.

       For day one I decided to really sock it to myself,  go all crazy, and artsy-fartsy. I wanted to have all kinds of fun and play with a smoke machine, some holiday lights, a sheet of Plexiglas, and lastly, some happy bubbles. My thought was to create a mystical and moody portrait of myself with some funk to it, so with that in mind I got to work in my garage. The setup for my Day 1 Selfie took me about an hour to finalize and about another 30-40 minutes to do my hair & makeup. From there, with my camera set up on the tripod and the timer activated I began shooting. Looking back at the final image, I’m not sure if it was the overly complicated setup that I had created, or my lack of posing skills in front of the camera, but I ended up taking a little over 200 shots for this portrait! Still, at the end of the night and after I uploaded the images, I was quite pleased with my creation, and so it was on to day two.

                    After looking at my “smoke & bubbles” image the next morning, I came to the conclusion that I probably had leaned towards the “artsy” image more so because I was still “hiding” from my camera. Sure, it was a great shot and fun to do but I was ultimately still avoiding the camera, so I decided to buckle down and get serious with day two  ... it was time to go old school and create a “classic” image. Down came all the lights, Plexi, and fog machine, and up went the backdrop, two lights and a silver reflector. On went the makeup & up-do, and approx 150 timer shots later I had successfully canned my classic portrait. Easy peasy, and hey, I was down 50 images from the day before so yay for me getting a little better at my posing!

                    Moving on to day three I knew that I wanted to create a black & white image that had a little bit more of a fashion-forward image, and since I’ve shot models in front of a fan before, I thought that this would be a perfect time to experience what a fan session was like. Once again, my previous set up came down and now up went my silver reflector as my back drop. A fan was placed next to my tripod and my hair was down and free to roam the country! For this shot I knew that I wanted an “in your face” kind of look so I placed a +2 macro ring on my 35mm lens and had my camera less than a foot in front of my face. Again, I was all about getting out of my comfort zone and experiencing what I put my models through by placing that big ole lens right up in my grill. And you know what? I canned this session in about 75 shots! Clearly I was getting better at posing my body as well as relaxing in front of the lens!

                    After creating the three days of studio type shots, I decided that for day four I’d relax a little bit and aim for more of a “day in the life” image and so it was time to step into my real world environment. I hauled all of my gear upstairs, placed a reflector in front of my sofa, a single soft box and to the camera’s left and went for more of a relaxed and realistic image. Since my living room is one of my favorite spots in the house with all of my books around me surrounded by my love of vivid colors, I opted for an all-black wardrobe that would help ground myself in the middle of the shot. Oddly enough, this session took me only about 60 shots to complete! (Hey, I was still getting better at this! Yay me!)

                    Now, as much as I loved the environmental portrait of the living room shot, I decided that for day five I would let my hair down even more and feature the more casual side of myself, so it was off to my bedroom. This decision was two-part. Firstly, I wanted to tone down the environmental images and showcase the calmer side of myself that folks rarely get to see or even know that I have. Secondly I wanted to remind my followers that “bedroom” does not automatically imply sex or boudoir. Not that those two types of implications are bad mind you, rather, I simply wanted to imply the everyday casual and intimate comforts of my real world. That being said, my bedroom is quite the dark dungeon so I was forced to drag in all my lights as well as my trusty reflector. Since I was shooting such a tight shot in the camera, this image took me back up into the 70+ shutter count range just because I had to work on not cutting out any body parts in the camera. Done. On to the next day.

                    So here I was on day six and I was quickly getting tired of being cooped up in the house, and since one of my many prides as a photographer is being able to nail killer shots out doors when everyone around me can’t see the shot outside, I opted to round out this selfie challenge in the outdoors. With the magic of the fall time colors, there was this incredible tree with flaming orange leaves on it that was just begging to be noticed and I just knew that I had to shoot it. In addition to wanting to have that glorious fall colored images, it also came to mind to me about the lessons that I teach at my workshops. I will go through great lengths to teach my students to take a look around outside and really “see” their environment around them. Often times when photographers get out doors they can get so overwhelmed with the clutter of their surroundings that they fail to notice those magical shots presented right before them, and this one lone tree was a perfect way to showcase that lesson.

                    Being a totally huge natural light guru, I opted to only use a reflector with this shot, but in order to get only me and the tree in the lens (remember, I was going for SOOC images. Even cropping wasn’t allowed in my books) I needed to also bust out one of my most essential photography tools … my step ladder.  After I was all set up and knowing exactly what shot I was striving to create, this outdoor session was a wrap in about 40 takes. My speed and comfort was really starting to take notice,  and so now it was on to the last day of the selfie project. Day seven. Oddly enough, I had noticed that when I first started this project, the ideas for each days’ shooting was kind of a bear to come up with, but after I completed the flaming tree shot I knew instantly what I wanted to create for the last day. Again, I was thinking about the lessons that I always teach my students, one of them being if you want your images to look different, then get off your feet. Either take a snails’ view perspective on your images or aim for a birds eye view, and since I finally found my wireless remote trigger on day six I opted to aim high. Literally! I grabbed my 12ft ladder from the shed, mounted my camera on my gorilla pod and hoisted that puppy high in a tree. After scaling up and down the ladder countless times to get my focus right, I canned this final shot in only 36 takes! (Can I get a Whoop Whoop!?!)

                    Wow! What a journey, and I’m sorry if this article was a mouthful to read, but I felt it was important for me to share with you guys my thoughts and reasoning behind every step of this journey. What started out as simply a fun idea ended up into quite the adventure and at the end of it all I certainly learned a lot about myself. Firstly, I have come to the conclusion that I was a foolish photographer from hiding myself from the world and much of that realization came to light during this project because for each day of the selfies, I chose to livestream how that days shot was done. Again, I was forcing myself to get out of the shadows and let people see my face. And you know what? That was the most incredible part! For each day’s live stream I was averaging almost 1,000 views and 50+ comments! Suddenly I had come to understand that people don’t just care about a pretty picture. They want to have that connectivity with the person creating the magic. There’s just something about being able to connect with us photographers that our clients crave, and before this project I realized that my clients were starving. Again, shame on me! Secondly, and most unexpectedly, I came to realize that even though I wasn’t aware of them, I had several newby photographers that were following along with my journey just so that they could gain some helpful shooting tips. Heck, even I learned something! It was incredible to watch myself become more comfortable moving and posing in front of a lens. (Remember, I progressed  from 200+ images to only 36 in just 7 days!)  Between my final images and the behind the scenes live streams, I was now wearing my educator and motivator hat all at once, and oh how cozy those hats are! It was at about day 2-3 or three that I realize that this project needed to be shared and that the challenge needed to be put out to my fellow photographers, and so here it comes …

                    To me fellow photographers, I am personally challenging each and every one of you to take on this 7 Days of Selfie challenge, especially if you are like I was … afraid of my own selfie shadow! I challenge you to get out of your shell of a comfort zone and make some magic happen. Better yet, Why not take this all a step further and challenge a fellow photographer to join in each day that you shoot! This exercise has opened my eyes, empowered my self being, and illuminated my vision in ways that I never could have imagined and I would love for all of us to experience this feeling of elation together. So get out there. Get to shooting yourself, and let’s all make a movement out of this!

    The challenge is on!

    Erika Pinkley is the owner operator of Erika the Photographer, LLC in Blue Springs, Missouri. You can check out her work at www.erikathephotographer.com 
  • November 13, 2017 8:41 AM | Rachel Edgington (Administrator)

    In search of something different to offer my photo clients, I decided that I would try to make it rain - on command - under my control!  So...I built a “Rainmaker”!

    I used four ten foot sections of ¾” Schedule 80 PVC (for the strength.)  One of the ten foot sections I left full.  Two of the ten foot lengths I cut in half and the fourth piece I cut in various lengths for my connection pieces.  I also used four T connectors and four 90* corner connectors.  To get water into the contraption, you will also need a spigot attachment (I don’t know what you call them, but you attach a hose to it to run water into the pipes.)

    Starting with two of the five foot sections, I drilled ⅛” holes one inch apart starting at one inch in from the end.  Then with the full section, I drilled ⅛” holes one inch apart starting at 1¼” in from the end.  The final two five foot sections, I drilled ⅛” holes one inch apart starting at 1½” in from the end.  This will create a staggered “waterfall” effect.

    For the assembly, you will need Schedule 80 PVC Pipe Cleaner and Glue.  Out of the uncut section of PVC pipe, cut three pieces eight inches long and one piece eighteen inches long and one piece six inches long.  The six inch long piece will have to be cut in half to accommodate the spigot attachment.  See the illustration for assembly layout.  Be sure to clean the PVC pipe ends with the cleaner before using the glue.  Only assemble one piece at a time.  The cleaner and the glue WILL make a mess, so be sure you are in an area that you can get messy!!!

    I let the glue set up overnight to make sure everything was dry.  I used my pop up tent to which to secure my Rainmaker.  The tent served several purposes - first of all, it’s a big diffuser for the sunlight.  Secondly, I can hold the backdrop around the sides.  And, you can secure the Rainmaker overhead under the inside across the center of the tent!  I propped the legs of my tent up on a stack of three cinder post blocks on each leg just to get some extra height for shooting.  

    For shooting, I covered three sides with black plastic, then put a black backdrop in front of the plastic to reduce the glare from the speedlights/strobes.  Put a speedlight behind the subject and gelled for color effects on the rain.  I put plastic bags (Ziplock) over my speedlights to protect them from the water.  For safety reasons, it is BEST to use speedlights or battery pack strobes.  DO NOT place the speedlights/strobes IN the water - there should be plenty of room behind and in front of the Rainmaker to set up lighting!!!  There is plenty of room to shoot your model behind the Rainmaker or IN the Rainmaker, depending on the shots you are looking for.

    Unfortunately, I ran out of warm weather where I could get the shots I envisioned with my Rainmaker!  I did get it set up and took several “test models” just to play with the rain and the lighting to see what I could get.  Look out next year!!!

    Jane Ballard is a photographer and train enthusiast making her home in Joplin, Missouri. Starting out with just a "point and shoot", she graduated to her first DSLR, a Nikon D3100, in 2012. As she "matured" through her 20's, 30's, and 40's, her creativity became lost, overpowered by her logical "fit into the mold" business side. She has since began a journey of experimentation and art that is fulfilling all that was missing in her early years. You can see some of her work at JaneBallard.com

  • October 27, 2017 8:26 AM | Rachel Edgington (Administrator)

     Hey you. If you’re reading this, you’re probably an artist. (Or you are, you just haven’t been convinced of it yet.) But you’ve been tempted by the belief that artists must starve. As one of my twitter friends so eloquently put it, “Sure, I’ll photograph your wedding for free! Because you really need $800 cupcakes and artists love being poor!” It’s the joke, right? Go to law school if you want to make money. Oh that’s cute that you like to paint pictures but it’s time to get a real job. Heck, just earlier today I was introducing myself in an email and backspaced the “I’m a photographer” to replace it with “My husband and I run a portrait studio…” because it feels like we artists are constantly having to go against the tide and prove ourselves. We “starve” not just financially, but relationally, artistically, and spiritually. We mope and blame and hang our heads because no one will kick down our door with a parade that alleviates our insecurities. But you know what I think? I think that to take on the “starving artist” mentality is a choice. I think it’s harmful, selfish, and (you may hate this but please don’t stop reading) a big fat excuse. If you’re an artist and you’re starving, I am willing to bet that your belief system is the root of the problem. (No, not the shoot and burner next door, the economy, the time of year, or whatever else. We are not living in the Great Depression or a war-torn country. 43 million iPhones have been sold this year alone.)

     1. THE STARVING ARTIST IS UNWORTHY One time, I met a cool person. We had so much in common, and I thought she was just so COOL. (Ever meet someone like that? Someone you instantly aspire to be?) And we had so many mutual friends and liked so many of the same things. But I never asked her to hang out. I didn’t even introduce myself. Here was a person I could tell I could instantly be great friends with. But I didn’t move forward. We never ended up speaking. Why? Was she stuck up or busy? Did she ignore me or blow me off or act like a snob? No. I could have blamed her, but it would have been ridiculous. I never introduced myself. I didn’t think she would like me. I believed deep down that she wouldn’t want to be my friend… so I saved myself the potential embarrassment. I walked away because I felt unworthy. I think that as artists, we believe ourselves to be unworthy long before anyone tells us we are. (It’s easier that way, isn’t it?) I was a full-time professional photographer for an entire year before I even started referring to myself as an artist. Why is this? Well, because the best way to guard yourself from potential pain is to inflict it upon yourself first. Also, we admire great art and feel that we don’t measure up. We can’t be perfect, so we give up before we try. Okay, I lied. I said, “One time, I met a cool person.” What I really meant was, “Most people I met from my adolescence until about a year ago…” You probably understand the metaphor here. (I love things like metaphors because I was an English major in college. Why? I felt so unworthy of my art that I didn’t pursue it seriously until after college. Once again: I believed I was unworthy and it was my own fault.) The starving artist “starves” because she feels unworthy. She does not allow herself to be fed and actively prevents this from happening through her own belief system.

     2. THE STARVING ARTIST IS JUDGMENTAL We’ve all been there. Judging - I mean scrolling - our way through Facebook and, whether we leave snarky comments or not, focusing on everyone else and deciding where they rank on the ladder of success. Are they above us? How dare them. Below us? Well we saw it coming! Did they used to be below us and now they’re catching up? That copy-cat! How dare they. They’re stealing our clients! Well, we’ll just have to find some more. We didn’t need those cheapskates anyway. And why are we so judgmental? Why do we feel the need to compare and rank and condemn and make fun of? I’ll answer the question with another question. What do we say to third graders that get bullied at school? “That person only said those mean things to you because they are insecure about who they are.” We think mean things when we aren’t happy with ourselves. Whatever annoys you most in someone else is probably the thing you can’t stand about yourself. If someone else’s success bothers you, it means you’re not reaching your own potential. And it’s like nails on a chalkboard. When we are preoccupied with being the best (whatever that means? It’s art, people), we certainly are not preoccupied with our creativity, our craft, or our clients who are paying for it.

     3. THE STARVING ARTIST IS STARVE-Y Starvy? Starvey? Starve-y? Anyway, here’s what I mean: We reap what we sow. We attract what we give off. Want to attract other starve-y people? Easy! Be so focused on starvation and lack and scarcity and “never enough” and make sure to always blame outside sources! Be cheap. Cut corners. Buy cheap gear and cheap backdrops and nickel and dime every minute a client gets to spend in your presence and then get upset when they don’t seem eager to pay a premium price for it. I’m normally not such a sarcastic person. I just write like this because it’s the beliefs I struggle with too. I’ve struggled with this for years and while I’m shifting the belief, it still creeps in! “Well sure I’m booked this month but who’s to say I’ll have a single client next month! I’ll use them all up! There will be no one left!” If you want to be an artist who thrives, help others thrive. If you want to be a successful business owner, help other business owners be more successful. If you want your clients to give to you with their whole hearts, give to them! It’s not a trick or a stunt or a clever phrase - it’s genuine giving. It’s beautiful when you allow it to happen. Artist, you’ve been invited to a dinner to share and feed and be fed. And if you’re too busy locking yourself in your room with 2 crackers because you don’t want to risk losing them, that’s on you.

     4. THE STARVING ARTIST IS ISOLATED I’m an introvert, so sometimes I really like being alone. I think most artists do from time to time, and it can be a great thing. But have you ever gotten lost in your own head? (Raises hand desperately.) Yeah, things can get crazy in there. Have you ever started thinking about one little doubt about your abilities, your work, your craft, your skill, your client, your *anything,* and ended up convincing yourself it’s time to sell the camera gear and get a job at Target? (Hopefully I’m not the only one who has this crisis like every Thursday?) But seriously, when we isolate ourselves we start to believe untrue things. Just like some folks think their art is REALLY GOOD when it’s really not, I think more often great artists give up or lose hope because they never let anyone critique their work or simply tell them, “Shut up dude you’re really good at this.” Welcome critique. Challenge yourself. Ask people you respect for their feedback. Be willing to learn and change. It can be hard, but the more you do it the more you realize it’s the only way to grow.

     5. THE STARVING ARTIST IS AFRAID Well, I don’t have much to say here because it’s a daily struggle. Ever worry you’ll create a portrait and pour your life blood into it and then present it wholeheartedly and the client will hate it? And is that possible? Yes. If you do photography for a living, something like this will probably happen at some point. BUT, is it just as (if not more) possible that one day you’ll create a photograph that will change someone’s life for the better? That their grandchild will find it in a shed or drawer and they’ll pick it up with both hands, sit cross legged on the floor, and stare at it in wonder? Is it possible, artist, that you will change the course of someone’s entire life because of lifegiving domino effect of real art and the joy it brings? Yes. But not if you’re too afraid to try. A common exercise to overcome fear is to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I’ve started asking myself this question, “What’s the best that could happen?” I don’t want to be a person who makes decisions (and ultimately lives a life) based on fear. I have art to give to the world that only I can give, and if I hide it because I’m afraid, what good will that do? The same goes for you, artist. You do not have to starve. You may be comfortable in that place because it’s what you know, but I promise that with risk and responsibility and vulnerability comes great, beautiful rewards. When you believe your art is valuable, you’ll charge for it. And when you believe that you’re worth a living wage, you’ll earn it. If you settle for less, I hope you’ll start by shifting these beliefs. I hope you’ll be humble enough to stop blaming your outside surroundings (again, I’m saying this to myself too) and take ownership of the starvation habits we all so easily form. Artist, the only way to stop starving is to choose to feast. (There’s plenty of food, I promise!) I believe you’re worth that, and I hope you will too. 

    Mitzi Starkweather is an Portrait Artist and MOPPA member based in Joplin, MO. She specializes in women's portraiture and has been honored many times over for her work and study of her art. Feel free to check her out at Mitzi Starkweather Photography

  • November 28, 2016 6:56 PM | Daniel Berry (Administrator)

    We hope you have had a successful fall portrait season and are planning
    a bit of a break from the madness to enjoy some precious friend and family time over the holidays.

    We, the Missouri Professional Photographers Association (MOPPA), would like to thank each and everyone of our members, both past and present, for supporting our organization. 

    As you may or may not know, we recently changed the name of our MOPPA conference from FotoChaos to its new moniker… DEVELOP!! We are so very excited about the change, as it encompasses so many aspects of our industry, on both professional and personal levels.

    To celebrate the launch of the new name, we are having a drawing!! For each new or renewed membership to MOPPA in the month of November thru December 15th your name will be entered in a drawing for a Spider HandstrapTwo winners will be drawn! (If you have already renewed or join during November you are already in the drawing - no action required.)

    (How cool is that?!)

    And you know what else? In the very near future you will be able to take advantage of your
    membership as registration for our Develop conference is launching very soon!! (psst……
    savings will be more than the cost of membership!)

    So…take advantage now! Join/re-join us….  We would love to have you as part of the MOPPA family!

    Promotion ends December 15, 2016. Winners will be announced on December 16, 2016! 

    Happy Holidays from MOPPA!

    MOPPA is a Not For Profit 501(c)6

  • February 15, 2016 3:17 PM | Daniel Berry (Administrator)

    So after being at many trade shows and photography conferences and workshops I have been asked multiple times about children and shooting their images with ringlights as many people seem to think that the intensity of the ringlights are to bright for the children. Here is my take on shooting baby and kids with the ringlights...

    To start if you are going to be shooting an infant or baby you may just want to use the light as a fill light from the side or above to give you that extra light you need for your natural light if that's how your shooting, but do not think that you can not use it as your main light. Many times with infants you have the room warm enough to hopefully keep the child asleep which then you do not have to worry about the light in their eyes but if you do think of this.

    What bothers your eyes more? When a strobe flashes in your face when a image is shot or constant lighting where your eyes can get adjusted and the lighting does not change.

    For me after standing in front of a ringlight for multiple hours at the trade shows i learned that i would much rather have the constant lighting that strobes and then seeing spots. I'm not staying that strobes are not a good choice for many things in the photography world because I love my strobe but with infants this may help keep them calm and not spooking when the strobe fires.

    Also if the child is not crawling or walking have the mother hold the baby or child to help keep them calm and happy. This will produce much greater images.

    Kids.... now kids are always tough but with the ringlight if you can get them to stand in front of you for long enough to take an image of how awesome and weird their eyes look and can keep them entertained while in front of you then you have them won. As for most kids they are calmer when the parents are around which as I said helps produce great images.

    As I shot this baby below the mother held the child while other people around me assisted with keeping a smile on his face. Never once did it appear that the baby was squinting his eyes or having any issues being in front of the ringlight. With his mother holding him he was quite content and we produced some amazing images his mother loved.

    The other child below was just as easy to shoot, I started with just showing him an image of how crazy his baby brothers eyes were and asked him if he wanted to have a picture with his eyes like that and who wouldn't want something that their brother has. I told him to keep his sucker in and we could take a few images. When I asked him if the light was hurting his eyes he shook his head no and stood right there with his mom next to him.

    In conclusion it is my thought that the light is easier for the kids than having the strobes go off. They seems to enjoy being in front of the ringlights and the older child never complained about the light hurting his eyes when asked and he stood there for about 10 minutes which for a kid to stay there that long was kind of surprising. These give you a one of a kind look that many people have never experience and that can set you apart from others in your area.

    If you are interested in learning more about ringlights or if you are interested in purchasing a ringlight feel free to contact me at danielberryphotography@gmail.com

    Thanks for reading my blog and keep checking back for more blogs and travel adventures.

    Daniel Berry Photography

  • July 20, 2015 1:36 PM | Nichole Manner (Administrator)

    Hi Everyone,

    Summer has arrived.  I can tell by the way my dog no longer wants to go for a walk around the block because of the heat.  At least that’s the excuse I use when my wife asks me to walk the dog – it’s too hot!

    I do love summer tho.  Sitting out on the deck and grilling late, talking to family and friends as the stars come out.  It’s just the perfect time to take a vacation. But what about your marketing?  Does it take a vacation when you leave?  Or worse, has your marketing been on vacation as you toil day in and day out?
    Planning a proper marketing campaign takes time.  The number one reason why studios struggle or even fail is due to the lack of creative marketing planning.  I think the reason why we struggle with that is that planning a marketing campaign is not a natural thing for us to do.  In fact, I met a photographer at a workshop in Columbus, Ohio last month who told me it was actually painful for him to do it! 

    Most people I talk to confide that they just don’t know where to start in planning their marketing.  They also have unrealistic expectations of what to expect from their marketing and many give up on their plans before it even has a chance to work!  If this sounds a little familiar, here’s some advice to help you take control of your marketing.
    Beginning no later than 8 weeks before the start of your campaign, ask yourself these 8 questions –

    What’s the goal of your campaign?  What do you want to accomplish? Is it to Generate sessions?  Generate awareness?
    Are you targeting new clients or existing clients?  Both?
    What’s your budget? 
    What the potential?  How many names? How well known you are and how strong is the competition?
    Which medias will you use?  Direct mail, Social Media, Community Displays, Networking with other businesses, referrals, e-mail blasts, etc.
    Timing (fish when the fish are biting)
    Frequency (budget)  How many time do people need to be exposed to your message before they take action?
    The overall big picture – Budget for year round.

    Helpful hint -  If you tend to struggle with the content of your message, ask yourself – what problem am I trying to solve for my customer?  In some cases, they don’t even KNOW they have a problem!  You have to remind them

    Also – how are you unique?  What do you do as a photographer that’s different from your competition?  It can be in the style of photography you offer.  The experience of what you do.  The flexibility you have in your schedule.  The incentives you provide.  How great you’ll make everyone look.  The education of a true professional who has studied how to make people look their best indoors or out.  You have to motivate people with creative information.  Touch their heart.  Don’t just slam away at the products they’ll get for a discounted price.  Oh sure, there needs to be incentives but look at the car companies.  Pay attention to their ads.  They don’t just tell you that they have an engine, 4 wheels and safety belts when trying to sell you a car right?  Nope.  They help you IMAGINE what it’s like to drive that car.  How would it make you feel?  How would it make you look?  How would your friends feel about you? 

    So, substitute that creative thinking with the kind of photography you provide.  Help them imagine what it’s like to own the best portraits they’ve ever had?  To hang those in the living room to be a conversation piece when friends and family come over.  You get the joy of seeing those every day and your room looks like it had an incredible makeover.  How would their friends feel about them after seeing them?  How impressed they would be! 

    Once you have completed this exercise, you can begin implementing your strategy.  And to think it just starts with a little planning.  If you’d like your own studio planning guide, drop me an e-mail at Markw@marathonpress.net/. I’ll send you a free PDF that contains some great information as well as a 12-month marketing calendar that you can fill out and help you get started today.

    mark weber  M.Photog, Cr, M.Artist, CPP | director, consulting services
    P: 800 / 228.0629 | F: 402 / 371.9382 | www.MarathonPress.com
blog.MarathonPress.com | facebook.com/MarathonPress

  • May 11, 2015 6:10 PM | Nichole Manner (Administrator)

    I would consider myself mostly a natural light photographer and I say that because that is what I mostly do, but I also prefer its look. What is important about that though is the fact that if I decide to use off-camera flash or do some studio work, I could. The reason I say this is because understanding lighting (natural or artificial) is so important, after all…isn’t photography as an art…painting with light? We can’t do much without it. I’ll share a few tips (in no particular order) that I think are really important when it comes to lighting.

    1. Understand the exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed, & Aperture) and learn how to use a light meter.
    This is the basic of basic…you have to understand this. When I first started out I was told to put my camera on Manual Mode and not to move it from there. This forced me to understand how the exposure triangle worked. I still don’t move it from there honestly; although now I think it’s more of a control thing. And I say learn how to use a light meter because it just makes life easier. Sometimes relying on the in-camera meter just doesn’t hack it.

    2. Observe good and bad light.
    Even when you’re not photographing something/someone…observe the light around you and assess it. This will train your eye and help you while on a photo shoot, especially while on location. You will be able to spot great light quickly, which makes transitions faster and easier. I started doing this early in my career and I found so many great locations to shoot just because I was constantly looking at the light that was created. I kept track of the time of day, and where I was…now of course there are apps for this, but it really is helpful.

    3. Don’t be afraid to shoot into the sun for some beautiful backlighting.
    Backlighting is one of my favorites! Sometimes when we start out we keep looking for shady spots for a nice diffused light but shooting into the sun can create a different feel to your shot. And even though sun-flares aren’t technically correct, they are really popular, they can create mood, and in my experience, clients tend to love these shots the most!

    4. Practice and get comfortable with artificial lighting.
    Like I said above, I love natural lighting, but when you learn how to use studio lights or speedlights in your work, you gain sooo many more opportunities. You can create any lighting situation you want. If you live in an area that winter really hinders or slows your business you can give yourself more opportunities with knowing how to use lights. It’s not something to be afraid of…trust me, we all go through this transition, but it’s just something you have to practice with and get comfortable with.

    5. Practice altering existing light.
    There are so many lighting modifiers out there. You have your standard reflectors to countless things you can attach to your camera/flash etc. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t need the most expensive, newest gadgets on the market. We all have an endless list of gadgets we want but truthfully, we don’t always need them. One of my favorite photographers that I follow uses those $15 clamp-on, work lamps that you often find on someone’s workbench. He creates some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen. My point is that you can just practice modifying existing or artificial light with things around you. Just imagine all the light scenarios you can create after a quick trip to the hardware store!

    A blurb about me:

    My name is Heather Brouillette, photographer/owner of hay.LO Photography based out of Woodbridge, Virginia, serving Northern Virginia and DC areas. I am mostly self-taught, but did graduate from the Art Institute with an Associate’s in Photography. I began photographing professionally while living in San Diego, CA. and my passion for the art just sprouted from there. I specialize in high school seniors and stylized sessions. I have a blast doing them; they are so much fun and the sessions are just so full of energy! I really enjoy bringing the seniors out of their shell and just having a blast. I love finding locations that have vibrant colors, and gorgeous light. I mostly use natural, available light but often times will use some off-camera flash for a more dramatic look. I’ve been told my style is more artistic and fashion oriented than the typical senior portraits and I LOVE that! I want to be able to create something for each client that is not only memorable and unique but also something that will be visible and relevant for years to come.

    Website: www.haylophoto.com
    FB: www.facebook.com/haylophoto

  • May 11, 2015 5:49 PM | Nichole Manner (Administrator)

    Where is the time going?!?! It seems this year is FLYING by! Since the success of FC/KC, the Board of Directors has been busy working on some exciting learning opportunities to soon come down the pike, first of which is our nearest FotoChaos Studio Experience! This will be held June 28, 2015, at Studio 7 in Fulton, Missouri. Big Thanks to Lydia Schuster for offering up her studio for our event!!!

    June's Studio Experience will feature Carl Neitzert (wedding safari), Abbie Rudolph (business), and myself, Nichole Manner (retouching). To add something fun for the folks coming in the night before..we plan on meeting for dinner and a night shoot with a couple models. Downtown Fulton is a very quaint, cozy little town with cobblestone streets and also is home to the Winston Churchill Museum..where you can enjoy a GORGEOUS chapel and a portion of the Berlin Wall. Registration is FREE for members, but you must hold your spot with a $50 fee (to be refunded at event).

    You can register for the FC Studio Experience via the link on the homepage.

    MORE NEWS!!! One of our FC Family members, Mark Weber, of Marathon Press, informed us that MOPPA members can take advantage of a discounted registration for the Ann Monteith workshop in Nebraska City, NE June 8-9 at the Lied Lodge. Simply use the code MOPPA15 to receive your discount.

    Stay tuned for a guest blog post from Heather Brouillette!!

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