Thursday, March 31, 2011

Growing Baby Emma and Mean Photographers

Once there was a little girl named Emma.

She was totally leery of someone putting a big camera up in her face and snapping away.

Then she started playing.

The end.

*Kaish has recovered nicely from the incident this week. 
All is well in his fifth grade world. Thanks for caring and praying.

I was thinking tonight about something, and although I really never do this, I am coming back to this post and adding some additional information. I know you will be very excited since I always have so much wisdom to share. Word.

I remember when I first started getting into photography I was excited to see the pictures of a photographer on one of my friends blogs who lived in Clarks Summit, Pa.

I went to college in Clarks Summit and I basically thought it was one of the best places on the earth! So, imagine my DELIGHT to come across this photographer.

You know me, I left a lovely comment. I was nice : ) and chipper. 
 I told the girl that I LOVED her pictures, I LOVED Clarks Summit, I LOVED photography. 

Do you know what she did? 

She sent me a mean email back. She told me she didn't know who I was. She told me she thought I was competition. She told me she was erasing my comment.

I was truly hurt. 

Don't be like that. Really. Don't.

Be nice. Be kind. Learn from each other. Share. Help.

I never forgot that.

Oh, and since I am giving out valuable advice tonight...
I have been to a few blogs lately where it is obvious they are trying to sound like someone else when they post. 

Specifically, they are trying to sound like Jasmine Star or Kelle Hampton. STOP that this instant. Those girls are cool. But so are you. You are cooler than cool.

Be you and you will go far. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photographer Interview: Melinda Brookshire Photography

Do you know where I ‘met’ her?

Over at my beloved I Heart Faces.

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She said hi to every.single.entrant. during one of the first weeks.

I was so impressed.

And they weren’t just generic comments either.

Not little ‘nice’ or ‘cute’ comments.

They were heartfelt.

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And helpful.

I just had to know her.

So I clicked over to say hi and just like that-a friendship was born.

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I have watched in absolute amazement as Melinda began her business and excelled over the last 2 years.

Not everyone can do this.

Not everyone should do this.

Melinda did and she has excelled.

She is extraordinary!

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She is an open book. There has never been a question she wouldn’t answer for me!

When I had a wedding that stressed me out like no other…

Melinda was on the phone walking me through the drama.

We can all learn from Melinda.

We can learn about taking pictures, starting a business and most of all, we can learn about life.

   melinda 3  What did you major in at college? 

melinda 1

I finally settled on Journalism with a minor in Bible. I have always been drawn to the the creative outlets in life: dancing, ice skating, decorating, writing and photography - so much so that I had a hard time deciding on what to major in during college. melinda 2After toying with English education and creative writing, and deciding interior decorating required too much knowledge of math and history, I chose journalism as my major. It combined my love of writing, photography and travel.

melinda 7 And the Bible  was mostly because I attended a Christian college where I was already having to take Bible every semester -  so why not add a few more hours of it and call it a minor?

How many years were you married before you got pregnant?

melinda 8

Two, although my original plan was five. My husband obviously won that argument. 

Did you love being pregnant?

melinda 9

Um, yes and no. I could give you all the PC answer and say I loved the feeling of a little person growing inside me (which I did) but really, where’s the fun in that answer? : ) So keepin’ it real...I loved being able to eat whatever I wanted (I ADORE anything chocolate) whenever I wanted (um, yep, chocolate calls my name even around midnight) without really needing any type of excuse except for “Hey, I’m pregnant”.

melinda 10 But I hated giving up Pepsi. I hated morning sickness and being fat. And I loathed the headaches I had. However, with all of that said, I would still have another one if my husband would let me (yet another argument he will most likely win).

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Tell me about when you brought your baby home. Were you nervous? 

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I’m sure I should have been, but I wasn’t. I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I have three younger siblings that I saw my mom bring home; so having a child and bringing him home only seemed natural. But don’t get me wrong, I was still thrilled beyond belief and had to have photos of everything: from my son meeting my dog for the first time to us walking in through the front door.

Tell me when you first discovered your love for taking pictures?

melinda 13

Honestly, I don’t know that there was a specific “AHA!!” moment for me. Growing up I traveled a lot - vacations with my family, ice skating competitions, etc - and I loved documenting every minute of every trip or milestone in my life. But when I truly starting loving the “art” of photography was during college when I spent a semester abroad in Europe and then again during a spring break in Hawaii with my family - like I said, I LOVE to travel!!

What made you decide to get a better camera?

melinda 14

It wasn’t really a decision I made. My husband brought a DSLR home for me one day out of the blue. I owned several SLR cameras and a couple of point-and-shoot digital cameras. I LOVED my SLRs and was constantly shooting with them but my husband thought we really needed a DSLR before we had our first kid (like most guys, he’s a gadget man), so I guess he kind of fanned the flame, so to speak.

Do your boys think your camera is cool?

melinda 15

LOL - they love to take photos (they each have their own camera) but not so much be in them. When they see me pull out my camera, I swear they run in the other direction.

What made you decide to start a business?

melinda 16

Again, this was not really a decision I made per say. In July of 2009, I had some acquaintances ask me to shoot their wedding. I immediately told them "no" - this was an important event that should be captured by someone who truly knows what they are doing. They continued to ask and I continued to say no. Two weeks before their wedding, they had still not hired a professional. To make a long story short, I eventually agreed - with their understanding that if I messed up (which was a HUGE "if"), I couldn't be held accountable because "I told them so".

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Luckily, I did not mess up and when I posted some of their pics to my Facebook page, I started receiving e-mails and phone calls on a daily basis with regards to my photography. And thus, Melinda Brookshire Photography literally fell into my lap. I had dreamed of one day going professional, but never in million years would I have imagined it happening this soon or in this fashion. I am thrilled that it did but I know I still have a long way to go!   

What was your first month shooting professionally like?

melinda 18

Nerve racking, stressful, a blur. Because of how it all fell in my lap, I wasn’t prepared at all to have an actual business; so not only was I shooting but I was trying to get all of the “business” details worked out as well.

How do you spend your average day?

melinda 19 depends on what time of the year it is, I guess. August through December (wrapping up weddings, editing high school senior sessions, and of course family sessions that want Christmas cards/gifts) and during March and April (last minute senior sessions) it feels like I am on the computer from 9 am till all hours of the night -  with the exceptions, of course, of taking a break to pick up my kids from school or Nana’s and then photoshoots in the evenings .

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The rest of the year, I really try to devote to my family so I schedule less. In fact, I have decided to take the year of 2011 off from photographing weddings so that I can spend more time with my boys. My youngest is heading off to Pre-K this coming fall and for some reason that is just hitting me kind of hard. I mean, just think, you only have your kiddos with you for 18 summers and then they are off to college. Time just flies by so quickly and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Do you have a goal of how many shoots you would like to do each week?

melinda 1

When I first started, I thought four sessions a month would be perfect. Now, I really try not to schedule more than three or four a week. Saying “no” is really difficult.

Have you had your creativity give out on you yet?

melinda 3

Absolutely. Especially during the fall months when I am shooting family after family and senior after senior.

Was it hard to decide where to get pictures printed?

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Definitely! I sent off the same prints to several different labs before I finally decided on “the right one” for my work.mel 1

Looking back on your first year of being a professional, how would you advise someone that is just starting out? What do you wish someone would have told you?

melinda 5

I’m not even sure how to answer this one. I don’t want to discourage anyone from chasing after their dreams, but at the same time I don’t want to make it sound like a walk in the park either. So my advice: be organized, be proud of your work, and be firm whether it be with your pricing and/or with your time.

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There will be those clients who can be pushy and inconsiderate when it comes to your time. So, turn off the ringer on your business phone/cell phone after a certain time of the day. Just because you may do business out of your home does not mean your business has to take over your home life. Remember it’s okay to “just say no”.

Do you ever have a shoot and think..."Oh no! I hope I got some good pictures?" or do you always feel pretty confident?

melinda 7

Honestly? - I leave every shoot hoping and praying that I got some good shots; but there are definitely those sessions where I really think to myself, “That was a disaster. I can’t believe I just charged them for that!” I think that train of thought can be attributed to the whole attitude of feeling like my creativity has gone out like you asked a few questions ago.

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Luckily, when I get home and go through the photos though, I am always pleasantly surprised.

What is something you dream of shooting?

melinda 8

As I stated earlier, when I was in college, I lived for a semester in Europe. I traveled to 22 countries during that time and fell in love with each and everyone of them. I would love to go back to every single one of those countries and photograph my time there all over again. The photos would be for me only. Not something to make money off of, but rather something to cherish and display within my own home. And now that I have a family, including them in those photos would make it all the more special and meaningful.

Do you hand out business cards?

melinda 10

Yes. Whether it be in my purse or my camera bag, I always keep my business cards on hand and when people ask, I hand them a card. I’m not overly pushy with them, but I do want to have something to hand them if they want to look at my work and/or contact me for a session.

Do you have a referral program?

melinda 11

 Not really, which is truly a shame because I really do appreciate all of my clients who have referred me. I have been thinking about it for a year but have never really gotten around to putting one together. Shame on me!!

What is your favorite picture of your boys?melinda 2


Last Christmas, I took a photo of my boys writing their letters to Santa at my coffee table. It is by far my very favorite of them and I have a 20x30 print on display in my home.melinda 18

Your husband?

melinda 13

This one is harder because my hubby HATES to be photographed - mainly because I make him shave, get his hair cut, and dress nice before he gets his picture taken : ) So with that said, my favorite picture of him is not really of him, but rather his shoes next to my youngest shoes.

melinda 14 I took it out in our backyard years ago (before I became a “professional”) for a Father’s Day gift. I attached a card that read something along the lines of “having some hard shoes to fill” and signed it from my son. It was a huge hit and my hubby and I cherish that photo to this day!

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   What are you jammin’ to right now Melinda?

mel 3

My favorite song changes on a day to day basis depending on what mood I'm in.

I LOVE music so I can listen to anything from Frank Sinatra and Lady Gaga (that's really embarrassing to admit that) to Vampire Weekend and The Weepies. For close to 13 years, my husband has tried to convert me to country and although I like some of Brad Paisley's stuff and quite a bit put out by the Zac Brown Band, the full conversion has yet to take place (I'm pretty sure that after 13 years of trying, the hubby should give up - it just ain't gonna happen).

Do the boys make you laugh everyday? Can you tell us any funny stories?

mel 4

Good grief! Where do I start? My boys are a riot and keep my days from being anything but boring and/or ordinary. The other day my 6 year old told me he was really 32. I was about to question him on it when he continued to say "Yeah, I've just been wearing a costume a long time." He also believes sopapillas are made out of soap and pee.

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My youngest (3 yrs old) is just non-stop entertainment. I'm not really certain he's my child.

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He eats everything, runs through the house naked singing Jesus Loves Me and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, he fake burps (and then inevitably laughs - isn't that stage supposed to come much later in life?), and he is constantly saying how he has 6 girlfriends (again, I thought this would be down the road some).

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You always seem so busy! mel 6What is it about your photography that people love?

melinda 12

Good question! I ask myself that on a daily basis. When people call/email and say that they love my photography they usually say it is because they saw their friends’ photos on Facebook and I was able to really capture their true personalities.

melinda 17

To me, that is the best compliment - EVER!! I want to give people photos that they can cherish for years and years to come: something timeless, something that captures their true essence, and something that they (and let’s face it - I) can be truly proud of.

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Melinda’s personal blog: Bloggin’ it from the Burbs

Melinda Brookshire Photography

Melinda Brookshire Photography on Facebook! (Become a fan)


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You love her, don’t you?

I knew you would.