This week’s Featured Photog is Stephanie with Dahlias and Daisies Designs!!
Q. Welcome, Stephanie! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Texas girl! Born and raised in the Dallas area. I have one very supportive husband and beautiful baby girl who will be 2 only July 4th! I should also mention our zoo, we have two Siberian Huskies, a Shih Tzu, and a cat. For the past 14 years I’ve been a web designer working in the Advertising Industry. I struck out on my own 3 years ago, leaving the agency life, and have loved every minute of it! I had intended the photography business to be more of a hobby and a side thing, but it has slowly taken over the most of my time so I split my time between the two as needed.
Q. How and when did you get into photography?
Taking pictures of my little one! Before Dahlia was born, I had a fun little hobby of cooking and taking pictures of the food (they weren’t that great really, but it was fun!). I’d go on vacations and spend half my time behind the camera… I think I spent 60% of our Italian honeymoon behind my camera shooting statues and churches! Once Dahlia was born I loved taking picture of her daily for a book I was doing that was to contain 1 picture a day of her first year. I made it to 7 months, haha! I was posting pictures of her on facebook and friends started asking me to take pictures of their babies and one thing led to another!
Q. How and when did you get into graphic design?
In college I was a Dance major at The University of Texas (Hook em!). We had studied this NY choreographer who was wheelchair bound and in order to get the choreography to his dancers he made 3d animations of each dance for them to learn from. One of my professors at UT was really into this and he would create dances on his computer and project the 3d dancers up onto the stage to dance with his live dancers (keep in mind that this is mid 90’s). He started offering this as a class and I was obsessed! I taught myself Photoshop so I could put my dancers in interesting scenes. After the class was over I continued to learn more about Photoshop and the rest was history!
Q. When do you decide to combine both photography and graphic design?
When I first started out portfolio building I thought it would be great to have a business that was centered around creating photo cards. So I do a photoshoot and you use the pictures on a card I design for whatever holiday was near. It was cute in theory but unrealistic because of the amount of time invested in making the card. Now I have a handful of cards people can use for birth announcements and birthday cards but it’s no longer my business focus.
Q. How long have you been in business and what do you specialize in?
I started portfolio building in Feb of 2011 with just babies and kids and didn’t start PBing with newborns for a few months later. I only did the portfolio building for a few months before things just took off naturally. So technically I’ve been in business for about a year.
I specialize in babies 1 and under. I could say Newborns, but I do love my 6 month olds and 1 year olds!
Q. Natural light v. studio light?
Natural light until about week ago! I made the jump over to studio for a few reasons. Being that my schedule was so busy running both businesses If I ever had to reschedule a shoot due to weather it would throw my entire week off. The room I was shooting in had amazing natural light, but it was just to small. My props were slowly taking over the room. So I moved into a larger, more professional looking room, but the natural light in there just isn’t the greatest. So studio lights it is!
Q. Tell us about your camera gear. Any gear on your wish list?
I’m shooting with a Canon 60D, but will be getting a Mark III in two weeks!! My favorite lens is in 50mm 1.4. I tend to use it for everything! I have a 100MM that I use for those sweet macro shots of my newborns… flaky toes, pouty lips… makes my heart melt! I also have a 24-70 2.8, but tend to use it the least. It comes in handy in my small studio when can’t move back as far as I need to for certain shots. I’m getting more comfortable with it outdoors.
As for the wish list, there’s nothing too specific. I would love to test drive about 5 different lenses right now and see how I like them. I have a friend who is a camera gear geek and has all sorts of gadgets and gizmos and they make my head spin!
Q. How would you describe your style of shooting; your style of editing?
For newborns: sweet, colorful, & cute. I love the sweet blanket shots, but sometimes it’s just fun to see baby in an Oscar the Grouch hat!
For babies and kids: fun, whimsical, & colorful! I’m all about color and it makes me very happy when potential clients make a comment about how they love how colorful my portfolio is.
Q. What’s your favorite subject to photograph?
That’s tough. When I have had a long string of newborns I start to miss babies and vice versa! I’ve become much more at ease with newborns because I know if they decide to get sassy with me I’ll just wrap them up in a pretty scarf and do shots like that. If a 1 year old throws a fit the session is over!
Q. What’s your favorite time of day to take photos?
Well I am NOT a morning person, at all. I used to wake up and do outdoor morning shoots at 7am but that was just miserable! I don’t do mornings now unless there’s a special circumstance. So now it really just depends on the location. I have this amazing little spot I use in the fall that is amazing at 3:30 because the sun is just right with the trees and give a beautiful glow. Other locations are usually shot between 6:30 and 8:30. I’d prefer 7:30 or so but since most of my clients are in bed by 7:30 it kinda puts a damper on that. I’ve thought about getting into the older kids a little more so I can get those golden hour shots, but I just love my babies too much!
Q. What’s your best marketing tool? Where do most of your clients come from?
Facebook! I get a ton of clients from tagging images on facebook. I did raise my prices this year and thought that might hurt word of mouth a little so I worked real hard on my blog and got it up high in the google rankings, so now it’s a mix of facebook and google. I’ve recently invested in sticky albums and that is starting to show a return too!
Q. What has been the best advice you have received on your photography journey?
Be open to the advice/opinions/constructive criticism of other photographers. They can really open your eyes up to things that you never considered or never saw. It helps you grow!
Q. What’s something you wish you knew when you first started out?
I didn’t realize it was such a competitive industry and it can get kinda ugly at times! I’m blessed that I have a few amazing local photographer friends who were my friends before I started that have been very supportive and helpful, but not everyone is like that! It’s quite different in the design industry.
Q. From what or whom do you draw your creative inspiration?
I LOVE to prop shop! Sometimes I don’t have much of an idea for a shoot but I go to the local antique store and find stuff that sparks my imagination! There’s a town about 1.5 hours away that the weekend before the first Monday of every month they open up miles of booths where vendors sell their junk, antiques, or goods. We’ve been taking a family trip down there for the last 4 months and have the best time. My husband is very creative so he’s great at pointing out stuff I miss!
Q. Any parting words of inspiration or tips for those starting out?
#1 – Take a workshop! Yes, they are expensive but it was hands down the best thing I did for myself and my business. I was stuck when it came to posing my newborns and this helped me over that hump. Not to mention the marketing and workflow information were just beyond valuable. It will be by far the best investment you make in your business.
#2 – Everyone says it, but it’s so true. Get all of your marketing ducks in a row before opening up for business. Once you open you’ll get so busy you will have no time for it and it will always be this nagging thing in the back of your head! TRUST ME!
Thank you so much, Stephanie, for taking the time to chat with us!!