Here I am now

I've always been the person that knew what I wanted to be when I "grew up."  I remember when I was about 6 going around telling people I'm a future nurse and really feeling like that was a job title itself.  All throughout high school, I knew for sure that I wanted to be an English teacher.  When teachers asked, I could reply without hesitation.  I knew what I was going to college for.  When I was at the beginning of my college career, I was so positive that I was going to be a Psychologist.  Any kind.  Just a Psychologist.  And after I was more than mid-way through my college career, I decided that I was going to be a Social Worker.  I wanted to work with struggling families; families that were beyond dysfunctional.

Here I am now.  I am a photographer.  Not quite "professional" but definitely chasing it and giving it all I've got, with all that I have.  Forget teaching, counseling, or attempting to save the world.  I've decided that photography is right were I want to be.  For as long as that might be.  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 9:54 PM 0 Love Notes  

First business purchase

I told myself from day one that I would not make a business purchase with my own money; if I wanted a new camera, lens, strobe, bag, or whatever else, I would have to save the money that my business earned.  Well, after some time now (and shopping around and debating!), I have been able to purchase a new lens!  Last night, I purchased a Nikon 85mm 1.8 AF and a strobe diffuser!!  I am so excited because I thought that my awesome 50mm was a one-lens miracle; there was nothing that lens couldn't do.  Until I shot Errika's labor and delivery.  I was able to really know and admit that I could have used an 85mm.  Then I shot April's newborn session.  I realized I needed a 35mm.  It's just a really cool and legitimizing feeling that I know what I need.  Heck, about 4 months ago, I couldn't have even told you what any of those numbers meant or how they could benefit me.  Need me to explain (because I definitely can!)? ;)  I have a family session booked for next week, so hopefully I'll be able to pull out the newbie for it! ;) 

Next purchase on the list is the 35mm 1.8.  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 4:36 PM 0 Love Notes  

3 years

It seems that I cannot get enough of my friend's baby, April.  That little girl is so stinkin' cute, I don't know what to do with myself.  She will definitely be a heart-breaker. ;)  She is so perfect: no crying, no fussing, just alert and watching the world around her.  But she does have her cute little quirks, too; when her diaper is being changed, she always get the hiccups (and they last a while!) and she sneezes A LOT every morning just because.  But, I'm sure mommy and daddy wouldn't change a thing about her. :)

I keep asking Josh how long he thinks we will wait to start a family after being married. "Most likely 3 years."  What?  Maybe 3 months!  I cannot wait to have a family with him.  We have to have all 4 of our children (God willing) before I get too old and if he plans on waiting 3 years, I will be 26 at that time.  Eek.  I used to say that I wanted all 4 before turning 30 but now that time is passing, I see that is virtually impossible (unless we hit the double-twin jackpot!).  I just need my own baby or else Errika will get tired of me visiting her and April all the time. ;)  Errika keeps telling me that she's got her fingers crossed that we will have a baby like, tomorrow . . . sorry, sister, that ain't happenin'!

Posted byAshley C. at 3:49 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Circus act

I'm horrible at balancing.  Just horrible.  Remember the whole coupon-clipping thing?  Scrapbooking?  Weight Watcher attempts?  P90X?  Hmm . . . it kind of makes me sad but I finally discovered what happened.  I used to think I sucked at everything and I just gave up too quickly, but I really am just bad at balancing.  Ever since photography came into the picture, I feel like I've neglected everything else (including this blog!).  It seems that whatever else I am interested in gets my full attention.  Every ounce of it.  Kind of sucks because I would love to be able to clip coupons, commit to a 90-day workout, scrapbook, and still be able to photograph and post-process photos but I just don't roll like that. 

I wonder what will happen when I'm a stay-at-home mom, photgrapher, coupon-clipper (since groceries will be a necessity!), and trying to work off all the baby weight?  I'm going to look like some kind of circus act.  :/  Maybe this is one of those "practice makes perfect" kind of deals.

Posted byAshley C. at 7:50 AM 0 Love Notes  

Things you shouldn't read

Things you shouldn't read before going to bed:

"I absolutely love all of your photos and I have a huge question for you. I was wondering if you would be interested in photographing [our] wedding on November 27th. If you are I would LOVE that, let me know how much you would charge . . . "

Yeah, umm that definitely didn't catch me totally off guard (pure sarcasm).  But the problem with reading things like that before bed is that your mind immediately begins to think of the best and worst possibilities.  You don't get any sleep because instead you're thinking about the equipment you have, the equipment you need to purchase, why you can't be the only photographer shooting your first wedding, who will second-shoot, how much you are going to charge, what if it's too expensive, what if you're not charging enough for your time, how in the world are you going to edit 500+ photos, what if you don't even get a high number of quality shots?
 
But then again, I guess all photographer once felt this way, right?

Posted byAshley C. at 7:45 AM 0 Love Notes  

Michael Scott, here

My best friend, Errika had her little one!  She had April Rayn on Friday at 5:59 p.m. and she weighed 8.9lbs and was 21.25in long with a full head of hair.  Just beautiful and perfect.  Errika made everything look so easy and smooth.  She was herself throughout the whole thing: smiling, laughing, and asking silly questions. 

Me?  Well, I guess you can call me Michael Scott (The Office) because that's exactly how I felt.  For those that don't know Michael, he's very intrusive; always has to be in the middle of someone else's intimate moments.  I know, Errika asked me to be there and I was privileged and beyond thrilled that she would ask something like that from me, but I really hope that she didn't see me as "in the way."  Haha before going, I was tempted to Google something like "labor and delivery photographer ettiquette," but figured that most photographer aren't best friends with the person in labor.  So, I told myself that I wouldn't speak unless spoken to, wait for cues to know it's okay to get certain shots, and not be in her husband's way whatsoever.  Only two of those actually happened!  I definitely talked, but wasn't running my mouth non-stop.  I cheered her on quietly, but kept it mild enough for her husband to say that he was running the show.  :)  The whole time, I acted as though my photography was second priority; If her husband stepped away or moved positions, I would jump in, take as many photos as I could, and when he came back, I moved immediately.  I know that he appreciated that because of course he'd rather be by her side, comforting her, holding her hand, and keeping the rag on her forehead cool. 

All that I have to say is that this girl is hawt!  She stayed hawt during her entire labor and delivery and made giving birth look like a piece of cake.  Her and her husband have this amazing, spoken-without-words kind of language and neither of them skipped a beat; they were there for each other in every way possible.  You can see their love for each other radiating from every thing they did and said to each other.  They are now a family of 3 and I am excited and eager to see what the future holds for them; plenty of happiness, laughter, and love, I'm sure.  Congratulations to your new family, mama!

Posted byAshley C. at 9:22 AM 0 Love Notes  

Labor and delivery opp

Within the next 24 hours, my best friend, Errika is going to have her baby! :)  I am excited for two reasons: 1) We are best friends and I've watched her belly grow the past 9 months, 2) She asked me to photograph the labor and delivery.  I am honored because I know that these will be very precious moments.  Her and her husband only have 2 more weeks before he goes back to Iraq to finish the last 6 months of his tour, so I am honored that she's even thinking about me while he's here haha!
People are probably thinking, "Ah, how could she let someone photograph that?!" or "She's letting you in the room?"  Let's make a few things clear . . . I'm not there to get those kinds of shots; I am there to capture the natural moments, the moments that are happening in between that they aren't paying attention to and can't necessarily enjoy; I'm there to capture the details that are missed and go unnoticed.  And not to mention, I'm there because she asked me to be and because we are best friends. :) 

So, here's to Errika and her husband's last night before becoming parents!  You guys will enjoy it and as I've said time and time before, you two make the most perfect team. ;)  I'll see you in the a.m. on the other side of the door! ;)

Posted byAshley C. at 5:02 PM 0 Love Notes  

Just a dream

I'm just going to go ahead and say it, I feel like this is too good to be true.  After being reassured by several people, I have to admit that creating a fan page on Facebook has been one of my best moves yet.  I've got nearly 130 fans . . . about one third of which I have never even seen. :)  Everyday, I get about 2 people inquiring about my prices and availability.  This is way bigger than I thought would happen so soon.  I am afraid to pinch myself because I feel like it may just be a dream. 
When people ask me if I got this job or that job, I can confidently stand and say that photography is my job now.  I am enjoying it and throwing myself out there and watching what happens.  I love my job.  I love everything about it: the shoots, the people, the struggling with poses, the post-processing, the marketing of my my brand.  Everything.  I thank God that I did not get those jobs.  If I had, I probably won't have even dabbled in photography.  I can't wait to see where I am next Spring/Summer!  :)  Watch out, world!

Posted byAshley C. at 7:30 AM 0 Love Notes  

The first game

As you know, I started a fan page on Facebook to get my name out there and let people see my work . . . kind of a "one-stop-shop."  I never would have thought that I would have 100 fans (and more!), so when I saw how fast it was growing in such a short time, I told myself that after I reach 100 fans, I would give away a free session and free prints.  BUT, of course, there are stipulations (or rules haha); for 7 days, fans will have the chance to get entered into a drawing (that I will have next Tuesday) by tagging LeilaniNicole Photography in their status.  They may also be entered again (and again!) for each day they tag LeilaniNicole Photography in their status.  So, each fan has the opportunity to be entered up to 7 times!  I figured this would be something cool to do because 1) I do not know all 100+ fans that I have, 2) people obviously like my work, 3) they are saving $$$!  This "game" helps to get my name out there to the friends of friends that I do not have or even know.  And a free mini-session and prints ain't too bad!  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 8:44 AM 0 Love Notes  

Photography pricing jitters

I've been debating about mentioning this, but after some thought, I figured that I wanted to and is something that people need to know about photography.

Last week, a woman asked me to photograph her 3 children for fall.  I told her of course! I would love to, but please be aware I am charging $50 for the 1-2 hour session which does not include any prints, rather a disc with about 5 photos on there.  She replied by telling me never mind because I was too expensive for her and her husband.  This was very discouraging, considering the same day, I decided that I was worth more than charging people $35 for a session. Not to mention, I was giving her my rights to 5 photos on a disc.
I am not writing this post because I want to bash the woman, but instead, I want people to see the amount of hard work that goes into a photo shoot.  For starters, I will almost always shoot for 2 hours (or a little more if I can).  I am not using the most expensive equipment on the market, but it did cost me a pretty penny and I am always investing.  Second, after the shoot, I am spending time choosing the best of the best of the photos that I shot . . . then processing them, which takes about 3-4 hours.  So, at the end of the day (or week!), I am spending nearly 6 hours on a client that is only paying me $50.  Sure, if (and only if!) the client orders prints, I will be making profit through that, but depending on how much they order, I could be making very little.  Now, aside from me making very little to nothing, I am also reducing my creativity and uniqueness to something that is not even worth $9/hour and that can easily be replaced by individuals standing behind a tripod at Sears with no passion for what they're doing (needless to say, the lack of personal touch). 

People can easily get all hyped on spending "a lot" of money on photos, but are easily willing to pay $70 for a pair of jeans that aren't going to last nearly as long.  I know that if someone really wants something, they are going to find a way to pay for it . . . including photographs.  I want to be something that is valued; I do not want to reduce my prices because someone says that I'm too expensive . . . one other individual has already told me that (when I was only charging $35) and I have an upcoming session with them. :)  My point is that people will pay for something they value.  The more they pay, the more they will value that "thing."  The less they pay, the less they will value your images or your talent.  I am not promising that my prices will stay at $50/session, in fact, I promise they will not.  The more experience I gain and the more in-demand I am, my prices will also increase . . . in other words, my value will also be increasing.  Oh, and please know that studio photography and lifestyle photography are two totally different things; it's like comparing the colors black and white.  So, please don't turn me down and head to Sears for a price list . . . that's an insult to me! ;)  At least let me refer you to another lifestyle photog.  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 10:16 AM 0 Love Notes  

I'm-always-right

Revenge Being proved right is sweet. 
A couple weeks ago, Josh's car caught on fire on his way home from work.  It's a long story.  BUT, he is okay and to fix his car, it only costed $8 (only under-hood damage).  While he was fixing his car, he was driving mine.  Since his commute is an hour and 15 minutes, I have been warning him that I either: 1) needed my tires realligned and changed; 2) needed air in my tires until he could reallign the tires.  Well, I was talking to him on his way to work yesterday and he said, "Oh shoot, I think I have a flat."  First thing that I thought was haha, told you so! Next thing he says is "Well, there goes your hub cap."  Dang it!  If he only had listened to me.  :)  He pulled over on the interstate to change the tire; no jack.  So, he called his dad to see what he should do (get it towed by their family friend, call my insurance [he's not covered under mine]).  He knew that if he had called my insurance, my 24 hour road-side assistance might be voided since a covered driver was not driving it.  Fortunately, his dad was able to leave work and bring him a jack BUT my spare was flat (go figure).  So, his dad let him borrow the vehicle, drop him back off at work, drop my tire off for service, come pick me up (and a jack!), go pick the tire up, drive back out to my vehicle, change my tire, and I just followed him home. 
Needless to say, both cars now have new tires and have been realligned.  :)   Oh, and this isn't the first time he's had to pay for his stubborn "I'm-always-right" attitude. 

Posted byAshley C. at 10:31 AM 0 Love Notes