How to Stand Out in a Saturated Photography Market (video)

The photography industry has dramatically changed in the last two decades. Moms with great cameras and a clear understanding of what their consumer counterpart client wants has replaced a predominately male driven industry. The brick and mortar studios of yesterday are fewer and farther between as photographers choose to keep overhead costs low by presenting themselves as on-location photographers. And of course the days of film with photochemical processing have been largely replaced with huge digital memory cards and the latest and greatest Adobe software. 

With all of these changes...some which are good and some which are not, an influx of budding photographers has entered the marketplace. Today, you can hardly find a forum or article that doesn't touch on the sense of crowdedness which is making many photographers worry that there just isn't any room left for them. I want to address this concern. I can feel the fear in your words and see the concern written in your posts.

It's hard. It's not going to get easier. But, it is possible to find success!   

The bottom line is this...you will need to decide if you will be one who complains about the problem until your light eventually goes out or be one who does what they must do to stand up and stand out. If you're choosing the latter, I'm going to help you! (I'll explain how in just a bit!!)

Success is still very possible, I am seeing it every single day.  However, it will become less and less obtainable for those who are trying to just follow along with everybody else. As we continue to grow as an industry (and I don't believe we're even close to reaching our tipping point) those who try to mimic and mask will eventually fade away. Yes, they will be replaced with fresher photographers who are also mimicking and masking but that means that for one passionate dreamer they had to see themselves fail.  I'm not okay with that.  Success will be reserved more and more for those who innovate, create and do the excruciatingly hard work of finding their own voice.  

So now that you know it, what are you going to do? 

Pursue Big Dreams instead of Small Realities... I'm ready to stand out in the crowd with @Go4ProPhotos  <— CLICK to Tweet it out! 

Bold & Bright Photography Office Design

When Galicia shared her studio in our private Thriving Photographer group... I knew I had to share it here!

While Galicia's studio is obviously fabulous!! There is something that makes me love it even more! How spot on her studio is with her brand!

I asked Galacia to share some insights into her studio and her business... Be ready to be inspired!

Leah:  Will you tell us about the decision to have a studio space?

The decision to have a studio space with an office was a no brainer. My in home office was busting at the seams. I always met clients at Starbucks or at a local coffee shop. In addition, after becoming a "Thrive" member, I really felt like I needed to take my business "look and brand" to the next level.  Not to mention having the space, but bringing my clients to my studio and office to see what Photography by Galicia is all about, it just adds that professional feel to the experience that I offer.  I really feel like my studio space reflects who I am.  I owe a huge thank you to my husband, who is my number one fan and for letting me do what I LOVE.  And to Keri Meraz, my make up artist and friend, for helping me design a space that is AMAZING!

Leah:  What's your favorite part of your studio and why?

There are so many things that I love about my studio. I think I absolutely love love love the "CREATE" canvases hanging on the wall. It's the first thing I see when I walk into my office.  It reminds me that I am here to CREATE my client's ART.  Alright, I can't leave out the other stuff too, but if I had to chose in order... 1. CREATE canvases  2. My work-flow organizational wall  3. The letter G - for my name and  4. The red clock. :)

Leah:  Best investment you've made for your photography business?

The best investment I have ever made for my photography business is a hard one to answer. There are so many things I did that has helped me in one way or another. I am really blessed that all the things I have invested so far has been worth it ten times over. The first thing I invested in was the Crave Mentoring class. It helped me figure out my editing style. I also purchased and upgraded some of my gear.

But lastly I invested in Thrive.  Thrive has been amazing! I have met some amazing photographers and I am so proud to call them my friends. It has also helped me organize my business. It has given me confidence and at the same time created some huge goals that I want to accomplish as a photographer that I otherwise never thought I could. I admit it has been a lot of work, but I am seeing the rewards. For only being in business less than a year, I am blessed. Hard work pays off.

Leah: You know I love your brand, will you tell us a little about how you found the inspiration for it?

I hired the amazing and talented Lindsay Stoyan, who is local. She asked me what kind of person I was and I described myself as outgoing, bold and modern. And she hit it spot on. The flower is full of color and it's not traditional but spunky looking.

Leah: Favorite song-set when you're working?

My favorite song-set when I am working is Pandora pre-set radio stations. I love that I can input a song that I currently like and Pandora will play songs from that genre. My favorite is the Tongue Tied Radio Station. Try it! It's alternative, spunky and upbeat. Keeps me motivated!

Choosing a Photography Niche - How to Find Your Niche & why it can make you more succeful

When you start your business - at least for most of us - you just can't know where you'll end up. You might think you know but if you're anything like me, you find out that you were completely wrong.  I thought I was going to be an amazing newborn photographer or maybe a destination wedding photographer - today, I (happily) don't photograph either. 

Today we're talking about choosing a niche or a specialty. A lot of photographers believe that by specializing they will limit themselves, but the opposite is actually true. By trying to be everyone's photographer, you end up being no one's first choice. <---- CLICK TO TWEET IT OUT! 

Think of the best photographers in the world...Your favorite photographers. I'll bet they're not photographing everything that hits their inbox. Instead, they have chosen to master specific areas and in that mastery, they've found so much more.  Finding your niche is a process, it took me about a year and a half to discover what kind of photographer I really wanted to be.  Specializing can help you stand out! 

The reality is, when you choose to specialize, everything about you business gets easier! How about if I explain? This is my journey from being everyone's photographer to a select few's photographer.  Making the choice to specialize not only gave me more confidence as an artist, but it's also made me a lot more profitable!

5 Common Mistakes that Stop Growth for Photographers

Tell me if I'm wrong here...and I'm just gonna tell you right now, I'm not!  We got into this because it sounded fun, because we had a ton of passion and because it seemed like a great way to make extra money - that wouldn't be that hard.  

Whoa! What the heck we're we all thinking? Not hard? Not hard?? 

I've never worked harder, given more, deprived myself of more or sacrificed more hours of sleep before I started my photography business. Not even my newborns required this much. But really, how did I not see this coming?  Being an entrepreneur is hard....being an artist is hard....we're trying to be both! 

In the beginning I made every mistakeI kept making my business and my life so much harder than they needed to be. Until I learned... 

“Making the simple complicated, that’s commonplace. Making the complicated simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus  <-- CLICK TO TO TWEET IT OUT!

Today I'm sharing with you 5 common mistakes that stop growth and productivity for photographers, including me. When I finally learned to stop making these mistakes, was when I finally started turning the corner and building the business and life I'd been dreaming about (and it came with sleep!) 

I really hope I can help you to see that there are some fundamental changes you can make, none of which are complicated, but all of which can absolutely have a profound impact on how you feel and the level of success you achieve. 

Julie's Story (2 minute special surprise!)

May I introduce you to Julie?  

Julie is sharing her personal experience and outcomes with Thrive. She shared her happy dance video in our Thriver's only private Facebook group - it was never meant for you to see. But with her permission, you're getting the chance to peek inside Julie's business and see for yourself the real outcomes that being a Thrive Owner can manifest.

I'm so excited to share this 2-minute video!

Recap: The London Thrive Mastermind Retreat

Oh my gosh! I am so excited to finally get our Thrive Retreat London Recap up for you! Note to self – never, never, never forget to check that the house you’re renting for holiday for a month has internet! Ireland was amazing, but we were a little more unplugged than we were hoping for!

Okay. So there are dreams that you put out there, that you whisper to the universe, but at the time, you can’t possibly imagine could ever come true. This year has been one such whisper (traveling the world for a year) and having the opportunity to bring The Thrive Mastermind Retreat for Photographers to England was an over-the-top, pinch me because I can’t believe this is real moment.

I remember when I first dreamed of having a Thrive Mastermind Retreat. I remember opening registration for the very first one (it was in Florida) with a mixture of emotions… partly terrified but mostly exhilarated. This Thrive Mastermind Retreat was number SEVEN, but it was the first one outside of the United States, so once again, I found myself with that mixture of emotions… partly terrified but mostly exhilarated. When the day finally arrived and these amazing women would soon be knocking on the door, all I could feel was giddiness!

But let’s start with the house! It was incredible! Every retreat is hosted in an absolutely stunning venue, but this one takes the cake!  These retreats are about growth, and well, I believe growth feels better when you’re being pampered and made to feel like a queen! I’ll show you more behind the scenes of the house and the accommodations in a minute, but first I want to share Night One. We always start by letting everyone get settled, and then we all come together to fill our bellies with delicious foods and get to know each other. I always feel like I’m holding in a secret because at this early moment, everyone is a little shy and a little uncertain, but I know that before their heads hit their pillows on this first night, they will have made fast friends. Friends that all become cherished gifts for years to come after we all say goodbye at the end of the retreat.

But let’s start with the house! It was incredible! Every retreat is hosted in an absolutely stunning venue, but this one takes the cake!  These retreats are about growth, and well, I believe growth feels better when you’re being pampered and made to feel like a queen! I’ll show you more behind the scenes of the house and the accommodations in a minute, but first I want to share Night One.

We always start by letting everyone get settled, and then we all come together to fill our bellies with delicious foods and get to know each other. I always feel like I’m holding in a secret because at this early moment, everyone is a little shy and a little uncertain, but I know that before their heads hit their pillows on this first night, they will have made fast friends. Friends that all become cherished gifts for years to come after we all say goodbye at the end of the retreat.

For Night One, everyone received a gorgeous hand calligraphied name tag by Heather at Design Roots. Her prints, note pads, and calligraphy supplies are fabulous!  Heather doesn’t stop spoiling our attendees here. They also receive a gorgeous print from her and a second name card for our celebration dinner.

For Night One, everyone received a gorgeous hand calligraphied name tag by Heather at Design Roots. Her prints, note pads, and calligraphy supplies are fabulous!  Heather doesn’t stop spoiling our attendees here. They also receive a gorgeous print from her and a second name card for our celebration dinner.

Now it’s time for our first training session! I love this night as I get to tell my own personal story and journey with way more detail than I would online. We set the foundation for their growth strategy and just get empowered and excited for everything that’s about to come.

Now it’s time for our first training session! I love this night as I get to tell my own personal story and journey with way more detail than I would online. We set the foundation for their growth strategy and just get empowered and excited for everything that’s about to come.

It’s always a really good idea to leave extra room in your suitcase when you come to a Thrive Mastermind, because I’m going to fill it with gifts and surprises that I have planned throughout the retreat! Our first gift came complete with a notepad from Clean Mama (our favorite blog for simplified home care and cleaning tips!), an adorable camera USB keychain from Photo Flash Drive, ‘Make it Happen’ pencils to keep note taking motivational by Wangs Wonderful World,  and a couple other fun gifts from me including a gold dipped pencil pouch to keep these first gifts all tucked away safe.

It’s always a really good idea to leave extra room in your suitcase when you come to a Thrive Mastermind, because I’m going to fill it with gifts and surprises that I have planned throughout the retreat!

Our first gift came complete with a notepad from Clean Mama (our favorite blog for simplified home care and cleaning tips!), an adorable camera USB keychain from Photo Flash Drive, ‘Make it Happen’ pencils to keep note taking motivational by Wangs Wonderful World,  and a couple other fun gifts from me including a gold dipped pencil pouch to keep these first gifts all tucked away safe.

Of course we can’t forget our signature Thrive Mastermind Workbooks printed by the ever fabulous Pro Digital Photos! Every time I open the box to see our newest Mastermind Design (we change it for every retreat)… I’m over the moon with the print color and quality!

Of course we can’t forget our signature Thrive Mastermind Workbooks printed by the ever fabulous Pro Digital Photos! Every time I open the box to see our newest Mastermind Design (we change it for every retreat)… I’m over the moon with the print color and quality!

Okay! I promised to show more of the house! It was amazing! I’m pretty sure I already said that… but just look at it! I could say it 10 more times and still not do it justice. I think this may be my favorite house we’ve ever stayed in, and that’s really saying something because our New Orleans plantation house was amazing!!

You better believe we were out on the deck in the hot tub every night, and the pool got plenty of love too!

There were never-ending spots to curl up and relax in, or go and explore. This side sitting area has now become my next backyard goal (that fireplace!!), and that’s despite loving our own last backyard makeover.

For one of our meals, I brought the girls to possibly the coolest location ever for a lunch… a long boat on the canal!

The Thrive Business program is based on what I call the experience business model. I believe in creating an incredible experience for our clients while building a business that works for the life you are dreaming of (instead of having a business that seems to be at odds with the personal life you want). We focus on creating such an incredible experience that comparison and competition fade away, clients can’t help but gush, and creatives are able to build an incredibly successful and profitable business! All because they have set themselves up as the premiere experience.

So of course… with experience being the cornerstone of my business philosophy – we work to surprise and delight our Thrive Mastermind attendees every step of the way! And we could never pamper and shower our amazing attendees with gifts as we do without the amazing contributions of incredible businesses and fellow entrepreneurs!

Here’s just some of the amazing that was sent to our attendees! Divina Cosmetics – This is an Etsy shop, how cool is that!? Monica (the owner) creates small-batch organic natural cosmetics and skin care products out of England!

How adorable are these tees (did you see the very top image on this post? Swoon!), and how amazing does Leah Remillét International team member, Ashley look in the ‘Get it Girl’ tee by Aleah Shop?!? Ash and I had laughed hysterically in between shots as we played models in these adorable tees with the retreat house as our backdrop before all our attendees arrived. 

There are so many gifts – I am so lucky to work with so many amazing businesses and creatives!
Girl Boss Tee – Aleah Shop
Dream Big Pencil – Wangs Wonderful World
Tangerine Lip Balm – Little Flower Soap Co.
Not All Who Wander Print – Design Roots
Black 5×7 Frame – Organic Bloom Frames (photographers – they are a must check out!)
Thrive Retreat Workbook – Printed by Pro Digital Photos
Facial Mist – Divina Cosmetics
*The rest are special surprises from me.

Okay… Let’s talk about food again!

This time with our London retreat experience, we enjoyed one of our dinners in and one out. Our dinner in was definitely my favorite! We even roasted marshmallows over candles to share a very American treat (s’mores) with everyone! And how gorgeous are the name tags that Design Roots sent for us?!?

Then there is our model afternoon! We bring in different models and have an opportunity to shoot together, learning from each other, and building new contact for blogs, social media, and portfolios.

Then there is our model afternoon! We bring in different models and have an opportunity to shoot together, learning from each other, and building new contact for blogs, social media, and portfolios.

The teaching continues throughout our 4 days together. We cover marketing, sales, organization and workflow, and so much more.  And since food is my happy place (yes we are back to food again), there is no shortage of delicious snacks, meals, and treats (this is not the place to come on a diet!).

How much fun are these utensils from Jamboree Party Box? They can’t help but make lunch more fun! Did I mention that the utensils are dipped in gold glitter!

Working with these women who made the trip from Denmark, Germany, the U.S. and all over England and  brought their love for photography and their ambition to thrive in their businesses will always be one of the magical moments in my highlight reel when I look back at the history of Leah Remillét International.

I know I say it all the time, but I love what I do!

I don’t even have words to express how grateful I am. I know exactly how lucky I am to do what I do. I know exactly how magical it feels, and I am grateful every single day for the opportunity I have been given to change the lives of creative women all over the globe.

If you want to see more behind the scenes from a totally different perspective, check out Emma’s of Studio Bambino recap that she wrote on her blog.

Jess's Success Story

This is our next installment of The HER WAY Series, featuring the very different but each wildly successful for her personal goals, photography businesses of incredible women.

Installment 1 was Katie's story (a military wife of 2 babies who replaced her full-time teaching salary with her part-time photography dream biz). Installment 2 shared Brooke's story (a full-time studio owner who went from frazzled to expanding yet balanced)

Today, I'm sharing our 3rd Success Story, this time featuring Jess Newman. A single mom who took a huge leap, leaving her corporate job and building a thriving photography business that is supporting her family, bringing in $10K a month AND the best part... Jess gets to be involved in her kid's schools, meet them for lunch and be the mom she dreamed of being.

Brooke's Success Story

Welcome to the third installment of 'She did it HER way' If you missed Katie's story - it's amazing!

Today, I'm excited to share Brooke's story with you. Brooke was already doing great things in her photography business including reaching that big 6-figure mark. What she didn't have was balance. Brooke was running in all directions at all times. Feeling exhausted, guilty and overwhelmed - she needed a solution. Enter - The Thriving Photographer™.

The thing about Thrive though is that it has the strategies, and all the steps you need, but you have to be the one to drop them into your business. Brooke started doing just that... This is her story. (Oh and spoiler alert - everything, including her already remarkable revenue went WAY UP!)

Katie's Success Story

 

For me, there is a difference between success and thriving. Success is something people see from the outside. Maybe it's a great title, a large home, a fun car. Success is the outward appearance of achievement. Thriving, on the other hand, is more so an inward feeling. It is accomplishing goals for the lifestyle you want and feeling good about life through the process.

That's why Thrive was named, 'The Thriving Photographer.' To me thriving means that YOU set the terms for your success. If it had been called 'the successful photographer', someone else might be setting the terms for you and that's not why any of us take on starting our own business.

One of my favorite things about my Thrivers (as I affectionately refer to our members) is that their goals and dreams are as different as their photography styles and specialties.

Today I want to introduce you to Katie of Kathryn Lee Photography. Katie is a military spouse, with a toddler and a baby. Her dream was to stay home and make her passion for photography, a part-time business. Could she do it? Could her little business really make a contribution to her family? Here's her story...

Photography Welcome Packet

featuring thrivers

Who doesn't love to feel welcome? Whether it's as a guest at someone's home or walking into a business that is truly grateful to have you - it just feels good! The truth of it is, feeling welcomed - makes us feel wanted and isn't that one of the most precious and sought after feelings we humans have?

It was with this idea in mind that I created a Welcome Packet for my clients from the very beginning stages of my photography career and why I've coached, taught and encouraged other photographers to do the same. The members of my business training program, The Thriving Photographer™  have some pretty amazing welcome packets, so to inspire you, we will be showcasing different welcome packets on the blog! To begin, we're thrilled to be showcasing Idie of  Idie Atenico Photography.

There of course are so many possibilities on how to share the information we need to convey to help our clients prepare for their upcoming sessions, but my very favorite comes in the mail! Oh how I love to get packages myself! In fact, with my current office-makeover project, I've been receiving packages daily and there is something magical when an item comes beautifully presented - it offers validity to my purchase!

Just after a client has booked their portrait session, they are looking for that same validity that they've made a good choice. When a beautifuly crafted welcome packets arrives only days later it offers a sweet confirmation with a hint of anticipation for what other surprises are in store!  Sending something in the mail is my favorite way to welcome new relationships, I do it with new friendships and with new clients! It feels great to feel welcomed wanted!

In additional to the wonderful emotional connection that the Welcome Packet offers, it also conveys information we share over the phone prior and during bookings that can be forgotten. Welcome packets not only give a great impression of your professionalism and style, it also educates your clients with what they will need to have a successful session.

2014-06-18_0005  2014-06-18_0004

Here are all the details of Idie's Welcome Packet...

Every packets includes:

  • An information card about Idie
  • Reminder card
  • Information card about Session Premiere (an experience sales process taught in The Thriving Photographer™)
  • A wall art card
  • Magnet with quote
  • Welcome letter
I love how each elements of her packet is fun with contrasting yet cohesive color combos and fonts; her designer was the one and only Laura Kathryn - http://www.laura-kathryn.com (who designed Leah Remillet & Thrive's branding!).

Idie's materials were printed through Miller's Lab - http://www.millerslab.com and the folder was ordered from Design Aglow - http://www.designaglowshop.com

Verbiage for the Welcome Letter, Session Premiere and some templates come from http://thethrivingphotographer.com

I hope this feature has inspired you, more are on the way! But until then, I hope you'll put this tool into practice - it beautifully puts everyone on the same page so that each party knows what to expect, which will in turn make both your session and sales appointments run smoother.

FEATURED:   IdieAtencio.com    //    Salt Lake City, UT   //   Idie on Facebook

 

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Luxe Photography Packaging Ideas

LR Packaging by Jane Johnson_Gold glitter

I love dreaming up and playing with packaging - l-o-v-e i-t-! As I child my mom taught me to take pride in wrapping a present. To crease the edges and fold the paper in just so and of course, how to create a beautiful bow. This skill came in handy at one of my very fist jobs for Bernard Callebaut Chocolates. One of my favorite tasks was to make the gift baskets, I would place each item with so much care and add just the perfect pieces to create interest, color and layers, then I would choose which tissue and ribbons I felt would finish each basket best, when I wasn't scheduled to work they would save the bow making for me. I can remember how good it felt at 15 years old to know that I was the bow maker for the shop. My love for packing is not something I plan to ever outgrow. 

I am an absolute sucker [read: sure I'll pay double cause it's pretty] for beautiful packaging. When I receive something that's been thoughtfully packaged, I melt. I knew I wasn't alone in my love affair for beautiful packaging so when I built my own business, I took great care and (with much excitement) worked hard to build beautiful touch points through welcome packets, treat bags, swag gifts and packaging. I wanted my clients to experience opening a beautiful package over and over again as they worked with me.  And that's just what I set out to do. But there was one problem, while sometimes I did have the time to hand cut tissue and create custom pieces, I knew it wasn't the best use of my time and as I got busier, I had to find ways to streamline my workflow. 


Over the last couple years I've been searching for just such a packaging line that would be beautiful, but make my life simpler too! And then my amazing friend Jane Johnson launched her own line of Luxe Packaging with H-BPhoto and my conundrum was finally solved! Her gorgeous boxes that I swear she must have designed just for me come in gold, jaded (a gorgeous emerald) and tuxedo and the best part? They come with the tissue paper pre folded into the boxes! So no more cutting and folding to size for me. I just grab a box, lay my prints into the pre filled tissue and I'm 1/2 way done. 

Being one that can't decide until I actually have my hands on it…I of course, had to see all 3 of the Luxe Line box options so that I could decide which one to use (I still haven't decided so I'm hoping you'll help me!) I had so much fun styling and branding these beautiful boxes for Leah Remillét Photography. I have giant jars, boxes and trays in my office that are filled with tissue and ribbons and stickers and stationary and everything came out when it was time to play! 

Here's what I've come up with. You'll find my full source list below and I'd love to hear which one is your favorite?! Leave a comment with your vote! 

LR Packaging by Jane Johnson_Gold
LR Packaging by JJ_Black, White and Gold Packaging
LR Packaging by JJ_Green Packaging
SOURCE LIST
*If you don't see something sourced and you want to know where I found it, just leave a comment and I'll let you know! 
 

Gold Packaging: 
Gold Boxes & Tissue by HB Photo & Jane Johnson
Black Sparkle 3/8" Ribbon from Amazon
Branded Seal Stamp by B2O with LR Icon and Gold Wax 
Round Sticker from Moo with LR Icon 

Black & White Packaging:
Tuxedo Boxes & Tissue by HB Photo & Jane Johnson
Gold Glitter 5/8" Ribbon from Amazon
Black & White Washi Tape - Check out Paper Mart's collection 

Gold Glittery Heart Sticker form Paper-Source

Green, Black & White Packaging: 
Jaded Boxes & Tissue by HB Photo & Jane Johnson
Black & White Stripe 1.5" Ribbon from Amazon
Gold Glittery Heart Sticker form Paper-Source

*My fabulous Logo & Brand was Designed by the Amazing Laura Kathryn Creative


And I found this super cute video for Jane Johnson's packaging line that's filled with fun inspiration…

Amanda Holloway on Building a High-End Senior Brand

I am so excited to share with you, my interview with you  Amanda Holloway! We are talking all about how she built a high-end Senior brand and business and she's giving us a tour of her amazing studio! You do NOT want to miss this one!

But first, if you'll indulge me, I'll tell you the story of how we met. We were at WPPI - actually, Kelli France and I were walking through the trade show floor and saw Amanda speaking for ProDPI. We'd never met, but through mutual friends found out we both wanted to be introduced to one another (hmm, this is sounding weirdly like an engagement story!).  Kelli and I stopped to listen to Amanda speak and all of a sudden she looks up, spots us and stops her whole presentation and says, "Hi Leah! Hi Kelli!" It was everything I could do not to shout, 'Amanda Holloway just said hi to me!" Well, after she finished her presentation the three of us went to lunch to get properly acquainted. That lunch turned into a big ol' cry fest but we'll tell you about that in the video!


In this episode, guest Amanda Holloway shares on:

  • How she built her luxe senior photography brand.
  • How she's identified and attracted her dream senior clients.
  • Styling clients to get that look (Plus the FREE What to Wear guide is below!!!)
  • Amanda gives us a tour of her AMAZING STUDIO!!

It's going to be an awesome Video Friday!

Header2Amanda Holloway and Leah Remillet What to Wear Guide Free Download

Getting Better Expression in Your Photography

When I first started my journey as a photographer...  I was new.  Well that's not obvious is it?!  But I was also new  in the sense of what I saw when I was culling through images at the end of each session.  I was looking for the exposure to be right, their eyes not to be shut and, well, my clients not to be blurry.  If I had those, I was doing pretty good!

As time passed, my photography evolved - more than anything else, experience was teaching me the lessons that I had been trying to learn in theory for way to long.  Theory is just that, theory until it's tested... it's true in science, it's true in those crime shows I watch and it's true in photography. More and more I began to understand lighting and posing and framing.  With each new session under my belt, I gained a better understanding of how to bring it all together.

But the final element of my photography was recognizing and capturing expression. I'm not alone on this.  For many, it seems that the last piece to fall into place is expression.

Today, I consider expression to be the most important element in any photograph that I capture (with the understanding that it's exposed and lit properly).  I'm constantly looking for how to bring out more expression and more personality from my clients.

 

I believe that expression trumps it all...

Trumps Posing.

Trumps Background.

Trumps Props.

Trumps Wardrobe.

Trumps Location.

... They all come second to expression. Every time an image really grabs me, it's because I can feel the emotion. Test the theory... the next time you're blog hopping over to one of  your favorite photographer's sites, really pay attention to the expression.

If you can't feel the emotion, then the photograph is missing its heart beat.

Emotion doesn't have to be all smiles either. It can be sadness, contemplation, frustration, anger, silliness, sadness, joy and a million other feelings in-between.  But emotion must be there.

If you're wondering what you can do to bring your photgoraphy up a notch, go through your portfolio and judge it based only by expression.

Remove all the images that don't quite have "it" and replace them with your best work that really captures the heart beat of your clients!

 

What do you think? Does expression play that large of a roll?

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