In Focus Archives

From time to time, I'm going to be featuring either a photography business or a photography-related vendor (i.e. handmade props).  I love learning about and getting to know other photographers and people who create adorable props for photographers to use in their sessions, and after seeing this done with several other photographers, I thought, why not do it here?  It aids in establishing a network of businesses, gives us all something to learn from and aspire to, and lets others see our work and get it out there!  If you're featured, there will be some q&a's, some of your work, and sometimes even a contest!  In each current month, the "In Focus" featured business will be on my main page.  Because posts get archived, I'm going to put links to all the original posts here on this tab so that people can easily access each business' "In Focus" write-up.


My first In Focus featured business in April 2012 is Forever Memories Photography.  Below are some q&a's and some fabulous images that Jayme, the owner and operator, has taken.  Take a few minutes to get to know Jayme and her photography business - she has some great tips and advice! Check out her Facebook page as well!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

My name is Jayme Peters. I am the owner/operator of Forever Memories Photography, based in Iowa. I began the business 3 years ago and it took off almost as soon as it began! I consider my specialty lifestyle photography because I shoot just about every life event. I am married to an amazing man, William, who is the financial manager of my business as well. I also have several assistant photographers who work with me to ensure each and every session runs smoothly.  I have three gorgeous kids: Damian, 7 years; Isabell, 5 years and Samuel who is 3 years.

2. What made you want to become a photographer?

I have been taking photographs for as long as I can remember, but my passion became a reality for me in high school. I took photography classes and shot some photos for my school paper. Since then, I have gone from hobbyist to freelancer to business owner in just 10 years. History fascinates me, abandoned buildings break my heart, my grandmothers stories are some of the most treasured I have, and I’m pretty sure this is why my style is on the vintage side. My children are one the biggest inspirations to my work.

3. What is your favorite type of shoot and why?

Weddings…absolutely! I LOVE them and I am excited each season for them. I cherish each and every bride and groom I work with, love to learn about how they met and their own personal love story. There is just a unique mood during a wedding that you do not get with any other session. I think my favorite part of the wedding, is the look on the groom’s face the first time he sees his bride walking down the aisle or during the “reveal”. This is complete unstaged and completely sincere.

4. How has photography changed your life?

Well for one, it created an income. But aside from that, I get the privilege of doing work that I truly enjoy and I can set my own hours. Photography gives me more time with my husband and my beautiful children. I work on my own terms. I capture images that will be there even when the moment is no longer remembered. That is why custom photography is so important.

5. What are three tips you can offer a photographer just entering the field?

#1-When you have reached the point in your career where you can start charging, do not continue giving out free sessions unless of course it was part of a giveaway. Look at it from the clients perspective: “If I can get it for free, why would I ever pay?”
#2-Never compare your work to other photographer’s work. Doing this can actually bring you to the point of giving up, because you will never live up to what you think the standard is. Just remember, photography is an art form and it is very subjective. Practice…practice…practice.
#3-Network with other photographers to gain knowledge from those who have been at it longer and ask them to critique your work (i.e. lighting, posing techniques, editing, ect.).

6. What are your three favorite photo shoot props?

-boas for little girls
-newborn hats and headbands

7. What three words would you use to describe your business?

Lifestyle vintage inspired

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Welcome to May's In Focus! This month, I will be featuring Jenna Michelle Photography, based in Tucson, AZ. Below you can read all about Jenna's photography business, and get some tips and advice from her.  Be sure to visit her Facebook page here!

Let's begin with some q&a's:

1. Describe a little bit about your business and why you chose to be a photographer.

My photography business is all about offering the best to my clients and forming relationships with them.  I have a very flexible business/pricing model- I offer my clients many choices when choosing a photo session, with varying costs and number of images. I do not have any printing minimums currently, and I offer prints a la carte so that clients can order as little or as much as they'd like.  To me, it's all about providing the best images and experience to my clients, down to the little touches like personalized thank you notes.  I chose to be a photographer because I LOVE it.  A lot of the time, it's the first thing I think about when I wake up for the day.  I find myself Googling photography topics for hours at a time, from different poses to tips for shooting in manual to Photoshop tricks.  Up until a year ago, I was pursuing a career that I thought I SHOULD have, rather than what I LOVED to do or was passionate about.  It was my sister who told me to shoot for my dreams and become a photographer!  I still have a long way to go, but I have loved every minute of it.

2. What is your favorite type of shoot and why?

It's a tie.  My two favorite kinds of shoots are newborn shoots and senior shoots.  I LOVE newborns because of all of the options upon options you have for posing and shooting them.  Newborn sessions often satisfy my need to shop for something.  I have a HUGE addiction to props and spend hours or days searching for the perfect props for each individual newborn.  Newborn sessions are also the type of session that I tend to learn the most from.  I'm constantly learning more about composites, newborn poses, what items to bring to newborn sessions, etc.  I love how I am always getting better and always expanding my skills!  I also love senior shoots because of how easy they seem to flow for me.  When I meet a senior, we get acquainted and before I know it, their pictures come alive!  I almost feel as if I can't take credit for their photos...that the seniors do all of the work! =P  Being a senior in high school (or college) is such a milestone and as a photographer, a great opportunity to capture true personality in portraits.

3. What’s in your camera bag, and what is your favorite lens to use and why?

  • First off, my camera bag is a Lowepro Flipside 300.  I’m in love with it.  It’s a backpack and it’s waterproof. 
  •  My camera, of course.  I have a Sony SLT-A55.  I know…Sony…I’m an oddball, but I love the translucent mirror and the 10 fps!
  • Three lenses- 50mm f/1.8, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, and 55-200mm f/4-5.6.  All of my lenses have Quantaray UV Filters on them.  My favorite is definitely the 50mm f/1.8.  I LOVE the depth of field that this lens creates!  It has DRASTICALLY improved my portraits and allowed me to create some effects that I couldn’t create in camera before.  It’s amazing how such a small investment improved my photos so much.  I am hoping to upgrade to a 50mm f/1.4 soon!
  • A basic lens hood for strong glares.  I also have a polarizing filter to help with glare.
  • My external flash- Sony HVL-F43AM
  • My tripod attaches to the front of my backpack.  It’s a Manfrotto 190XPROB with the 324RC2 Joystick Head (I’m SO glad I decided to invest a bit more for the joystick head; it moves all three dimensions with one button).
  • 2 memory cards- both 32 GB, Class 10. 
  • 2 camera batteries and my battery charger (it’s very small and I carry it around just in case).
  • Extra AA batteries- my flash EATS THESE BATTERIES UP.
  • My camera companion.  It’s a cute little pig that ties on my camera and sits on top of my lens.  It has bells attached to it and I use it for my baby shoots!
  • My camera manual- you NEVER know when you will have a camera malfunction and need some assistance.
  • A hefty stack of business cards!  I never miss an opportunity for marketing =) 
4. What are your top three pieces of advice for new photographers?

New photographers- never be afraid of or look down on offering free sessions.  Free sessions allow you to build your skills comfortably, knowing that there isn't a lot of pressure from a paying client.  Free sessions also allowed you to build your portfolio freely, getting the types of shots YOU want to showcase on your website.  Offering free sessions during down times also allows you to keep activity on your page and try out some of your themed or creative ideas.  Another piece of advice- you have to spend money to make money.  I know it's hard to spend a lot of money at once, but when you're thinking about starting a photography business, put a good chunk of change aside and invest in some important items- solid starting equipment, branding (logo, business cards- things that clients can recognize your business from!), or props if you are doing that kind of photography.  Lastly- NETWORK WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS.  We are not each others' competition; we are each others' support network, we learn from each other, and we share our passions with one another.  Find other photographers in your area and go on photo walks with them; search for photographers on Facebook, look at their work, and leave them some encouraging feedback; become a part of a photography group (I recently started one) so that you have someone to go to with questions or a place to bounce ideas.  A friendly work environment is the best place you can be; it's where you can thrive the most in your own work!

5. Describe your lifestyle photography style in just three words.

Fun, candid, and bright.

6. What’s the most difficult aspect of being a photographer, for you, and how do you work around it?

I would say that I actually have two struggles as a photographer currently.  One, comparing my work to others' and two, managing my time well.  I have QUITE a few photographers that I admire and look up to.  I can spend hours on their sites sometimes.  A lot of the time I find myself wondering why I visit their sites, what purpose does it serve for me, or why am I really there?  I have to remind myself sometimes that each photographer has their own style.  Although I can learn a lot from others', I have my own style and I am on my own learning curve.  I am unique.  It's all about checking myself with that.  As far as time management goes... I've been improving my workflow and system for keeping track of everything...I've consulted other photographers in this area!  I'm also enrolled in an eWorkshop (with one of my favorite photographers!) to help me out with business and budgeting.

7. When you were getting the ball rolling for your business, was there a certain thing or two that really helped get things going and if so, what was it (or what were they)?

Offering free sessions.  I know that it is hard to suck up the cost of free sessions (between time, props, gas, and other expenses), but TRUST ME, it's worth it.  One, free sessions bring in new people.  Those new people bring in other new PAYING people.  Two, it gives you experience.  The only way to improve is by practicing hands on.  You don't wanna charge (full price) until you have experience and you are at that professional level.  This can take time and many free sessions.  Three, it keeps your Facebook or blog active.  My clients tag themselves, friends, and family members in images and before I know it TONS of people have seen my image.  The other thing that really helped me was deciding on branding/marketing items.  Getting a logo made was really important for getting my name out there.  Why?  I put it on EVERYTHING.  It's on my Facebook, my soon-to-be website, my blog, my business cards, my thank you cards, the watermarks on my images, the packaging I deliver prints in, etc.  The more your clients see your name and well-presented materials, the more they see how much you value your business/work and the more they will remember you when it comes time to hire a photographer.

8. What’s your favorite time of year in terms of doing photography shoots, and why?

I've never thought about my favorite time of year for pictures... my first instinct would be to say late fall.  This is when everyone is taking family portraits and preparing holiday cards.  I LOVE turning clients photos into products (birth announcements, invitations, canvases, albums, etc.) and offering unique holiday cards to all of my clients.  Fall is also when the weather is a little bit more reasonable here in Arizona.  I can spend more time with my clients and it's more relaxed than the scortching summer months!

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