Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Consider this....

Have you ever had photos taken that you were just not pleased with...in fact, you thought they were horrible?  As a photographer, I could spend hours looking at the work of other photographers.  I love to see other styles of shooting, learn ideas, find what I like and what I don't like...my reasons of interest are endless.  It is reasonable to also assume that there are those who don't care for my style of photography, just as well as those who love it.  There is a lot of technique required in photography, but there is also a lot of personal style that a photographer brings to a shoot.  But there are some things that a photographer is at the mercy of the subject...and that's what I'm focusing on right now.

My daughter was given an appointment for her High School Senior photos several years ago, and against my better judgment, I let her spend the night with one of her friends the night before the photo shoot.  That shouldn't have mattered, but the appointment was for 8:30 am.  Now realistically, who would expect a teenager (or anyone!) to look their best at that time of morning?  Needless to say, the photos were horrible - and we didn't buy any of the extremely overpriced packages offered.  But how much of it was the photographers fault - and how much was the responsibility of the subject?

In this instance, the photographer really dropped the ball in several areas: Poses...they were ridiculous!  There were a couple of the usual portrait poses, but even they were a bit cheesy.  But then they had her standing straight with her arms straight above her head.  Personally, I probably would have said "um, no, we are NOT going to take a picture in that ridiculous way!" - but at 17, I might not have been that bold yet.  So, definitely, the poses are the responsibility of the photographer.  As a photographer, I might ask a subject to try a certain pose to see how it looks...and there are times that I think "nope - that didn't work for them" where it might work for someone else, or might just have been a bad idea altogether.  But I have to have the photographic sense to know that.

Next the photographer knows the time of day they are setting appointments - and needs to keep in mind that 8:30 am, beginning of summer, teenager....hmmm...might not be a good idea?  Maybe let's think about 10:30 at earliest?   I really like to do a lot of my photo shoots outdoors when possible.  There is just no better lighting than natural lighting - and there is no better backdrop than the endless options outdoors.  I know it's best not to try to do young children late in the evening when they are getting cranky and tired - or a newborn when it's time to eat (of course, I DO want to get them when it's naptime!)... but I have to think about all of these issues.  Also, being outdoors, I have to think about the direction of my light, and plan accordingly.  But as the one being photographed, you need to be open to communication and say "that's not the best time of day for us"..."that is naptime, dinnertime, etc." and give a time that works better for you.

But what about the responsibility of the person being photographed?  Surely they have some.  Of course they do!  These are your photos... so you want to look your best.  If you know that skirt or top doesn't look that great in the mirror, don't think the camera will change that.  If you are overweight, then love who you are - but don't get upset if you look overweight in your photos!  It's photography, and yes there is some help with some things in Photoshop -- but unless you want to be totally recreated in Photoshop, it can't make you 10 lbs lighter.  So take the time to look the way you want the camera to capture you... and give the photographer the most to work with.  And if you get a good photographer, I promise you that when you let them do their thing and get lost in their art, in the end you will see something you will love. 

Now my daughter is a Senior in college... we learned lots of lessons from her Senior photos in high school, so I will be doing these Senior pics myself! 

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blogspot @ http://beyondthephotographybydonnakay.blogspot.com ... a little better way to get to know more about me personally...

Monday, May 23, 2011

What is the picture worth?

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blogspot... a little better way to get to know more about me personally...


This weekend I went up to the mountains with the plan of visiting two different waterfalls to take pictures.  It was a beautiful day for the drive, and the Blue Ridge Parkway definitely had to be one of the most beautiful places anyone could possibly wish to be.  I was quickly reminded of how much I love taking nature and landscape photos.  There’s no one to complain about how they need a haircut, chose the wrong outfit...no bad moods, bad days, no schedules, etc.; no one has to approve the photos... just me and my camera and what my eye can see before me.  It was the perfect day.  Whenever I ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway it is hard not to stop at every scenic overview... and each overview seems like it has to be the most beautiful (at least until I pull over at the next one.)  I did meet my goal of getting to both of the falls - Looking Glass and Crabtree Falls.  Looking Glass Falls is right off the side of the road, and just a few miles off of the parkway.  It was rather crowded, and for me that seemed to take some of the beauty away.  Something so beautiful as these natural waterfalls somehow needs to be experienced in a quiet and peaceful way...just taking in the beauty.  As I would go to take a shot with my camera, it seemed almost more private than what I was viewing outside of my camera.  Magically, the camera would allow me to zoom in so as not to have the many other visitors in the photo.  There was a part of me that wanted to say “shhhhh....” to all of the people around, many of whom hadn’t really seemed to notice how beautiful this huge waterfall was right before them.  I imagine there are many people who never get to actually stand this close, so some kind of reverence seemed in order.  While it was not Niagara Falls, it was nonetheless beautiful and breathtaking...deserving of a quiet moment.  I was climbing on some rocks, trying to get a position that I could actually get a picture without all of the people who were jumping around in the ice cold water when I looked down and noticed this HUGE spider on the side of a log (the same log that I had to climb up to get on these rocks!)  It really changed the beauty of the moment for me - and brought me right into reality!  But not for long.  I did keep my eye on him...sure didn’t want him moving towards me...but I also took plenty of photos of that beautiful waterfall.  After that the drive was on towards Crabtree Falls -- maybe an hour and a half drive away or more on the beautiful parkway.  For me is was quite a bit more, as I stopped constantly at the scenic overviews either to just take a peek or to actually take a picture.  When I got to Crabtree Falls, the area was really deserted.  It was 5 pm, which didn’t seem late at all.  So off on the hike I headed.  Only a mile down to the falls...only there wasn’t mention of the fact that much of it was practically straight down.  About 30-40 minutes later, and several slips in the mud (as I also wondered if I had gotten off the path and ended up in the creek, which I hadn’t - it was just a muddy path!) and there I was in the most secluded place - with this huge beautiful waterfall in front of me.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Even though there was still plenty of daylight, it was dark in the woods there because it was so deep in the trees.  But that was ok.  It was worth it all.  I got the shots I went after.  And there is was peaceful and serene.

All in all it was a beautiful day.  It was reaffirmed to me that North Carolina is the most beautiful place in the world, and the Blue Ridge Parkway is as magical to me now as it was when I was a child.  And all of the sore muscles today from climbing and hiking and (yes - a couple of slips, trips and slight falls) were so worth it.  And I’m pretty sure that even if does turn out that those plants I ended up in the middle of were poison ivy, I will still feel like it was a perfect day.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

If it takes competing, then count me out...

I've heard people say that a little healthy competition is good for you...but I just don't know about that...I guess it depends on what is seen as competition.  When it has come to all of the planning and setting up for my photography business,  part of my plan has been that God would grow the business in the right timing.  It has been my belief that all of this is part of His plan for my life - so if I really do believe that, then I don't need to run out and compete with other photographers...correct?  But just what does that mean?....  Yes - I will advertise my business...it would be silly to think that people will just know that I'm here and working as a photographer.  Yes - I will do my best at what I am good at...and I will know my limitations.  I have no need to be all things for all people.  So if I don't feel a job is right for me - that I can't offer the best for the client - then I will refer them elsewhere.  It would be my hope that someone else would do the same for me.  But No - I will not try to undercut someone else in order to take the work from them.  No - I will not misrepresent myself or my abilities to get a job.  No - I will not talk bad about someone else thinking that will help me get ahead.  If I started this journey in my life believing that it was where God was leading me -- then I will not go off on my own at this point and lose my integrity and self-respect.  My hope is that as I meet people during photo shoots, that I will provide more than just mere photos to them... but rather that they will also be able to see that I care about what I do - and also that I care about them.  And as they share their experience with their friends, family, co-workers, etc. - and they are pleased with the work I provide - my business will grow.  Honestly - with integrity, class and style.  And it will grow in the perfect time.

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blogspot... a little better way to get to know more about me personally...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Get to know me...

A while back I mentioned that occasionally I would share a photo from the past...and a little bit about that time.  My thought is that if you get to know me a little better - how photography has always played some role in my life - that you will understand my passion behind my drive.  
This is a photo of my daughter - she was 6 or 7 in this photo, and we were at the St Louis Zoo.  Great place - it's absolutely gorgeous. She is one of my bright lights in this world.  My daughter is the youngest of my kids, and even before she was born I had no doubt that she had a strong personality.  It was against all odds that she is even here...and not a day goes by (yes, even the tough ones!) that I give thanks for her.  I cannot imagine my life without her!  Sadly, though, she does not like having her picture taken.  Most of the photos I have of her in the last couple of years are either the ones taken by surprise, or her hand is somewhere in front of her face.  (I do understand that feeling - because I cannot stand to be on that side of the camera lens myself.)  But she is just so beautiful - and so photogenic. 

It is unreal how often I will sit upstairs where I keep the photo albums and go through - remembering each moment of when each photo was taken.  And that is what I want to for others when I am behind the lens.  It has never excited me to look at photographs that were taken in a studio setting - although I do know that at times they are necessary. But they don't tell a story.  They don't hold a moment or much of a memory.  I want to capture the moments that are full of memories.  The faces a baby makes...those sweet cries or tears.  Or capture the look between a mother and her child...the love in her eyes, and the adoration in that child's eyes.  Of a husband looking adoringly at his wife, as she is carrying their most precious possession - a child.  To catch children when they are playing - and their personalities showing in the photos taken... or an older couple who have shared so many years together, and still love to sit quietly with one another - so many memories of the years between them that show in their glances at one another.  Or the tears of a girl as she's leaving her home to begin that new chapter in her life as someone's wife...realizing it's harder than she thought to leave her Mom and Dad and all that is so comfortable and familiar to her, yet excited beyond words for the journey she has now begun.  My favorite photos of my kids are the ones where I was able to sneak up on them and snap the picture - catching them in a moment of mischief, or quietness, sleeping or even crying.  Those are the photos that have captured the moment... that hold part of the story.  And that is what I want to offer for those who bring me in as their photographer.   This is my passion....

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blogspot... a little better way to get to know more about me personally...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vision vs. Reality

Everyone has times in their lives that they really just can't see reality in front of them.  I'm definitely not any different.  Whether it is by nature or nurture, I am actually very much a realist.  No, I'm not a rude person - in fact, being a true Southerner I know very well how to keep my mouth shut at times (but I am a Southern woman, so I also have a lot of passion, and have the times where some wish I would shut my mouth!)  But I have also learned that there are times that it's not doing anyone a favor, and possibly even ruder TO keep my mouth shut.  Ok...so I'm rambling a bit.  What's on my mind is an experience I've had in the last week that has really gotten me thinking about many different aspects in my photographers world.  And leaving out all details to keep this blog from becoming a novel, the bottom line is that a client wasn't happy -- NOT because the photography wasn't good - but rather because it did not fulfill their vision. This is where my issue begins.  As a photographer, especially doing a commercial shoot, my job is to photograph what is set before me.  To capture images that will portray a place in the best possible way in order to promote or sell the business, product, etc.  My job is to show up on time - with the necessary and adequate equipment, and to take the time necessary to capture the essence of the business at hand.  I need my technical knowledge along with my creativity in order to take the best photos possible.  But still, I am working with reality in this setting.  The vision should start long before I arrive... in the set-up of the business, in the outfit and makeup of the owner (both personally on themselves for their role in the photo shoot, as well as how they make their place of business show.)  It is unrealistic to think that you have a business that is realistically one thing, but a vision that is something else (and in this case, it is a very nice business...I was very drawn to it, and had every intention to return as a shopper).  A very savvy shop will already have lighting in place, products displayed in a very chic way... not expect that a photographer can come in and make magic happen.  As well, the portrait shots would be well thought out and the subject would arrive for the photo shoot well made-up and in the clothing they thought would represent the look they were hoping to have captured for their business.  Sometimes there is a time for a little reality check... obviously this day was one of them.

I believe in wasting no experience - good or bad.  I don't ignore the bad things in my life because they were painful, embarrassing, or whatever...I learn from them.  All experiences have potential to teach us something.  This one is no different.  I have come out of it with a lot of lessons as a photographer and a person - and one of the first is that I have to make my boundaries a little more clear.  I'm amazed what God has given me the ability to do with my camera - to capture a shot that makes someone want to just keep looking at the photo.  And I find no vanity in that - only a sense of thankfulness.  There have been times that someone has felt there could have been no good shots come out of a photo shoot, and knowing how tough the shoot was (especially at times with a fussy baby, or very busy child) I maybe had the same thoughts run through my own head.  Yet, when I upload the photos and sit down to see what the reality is, I'm never disappointed to see that the time was well spent - and there are numerous great photos to work with.  But it would be unrealistic to ask a photographer to take a photo of an apple and make it look like an banana - not if it is the apple they are wanting to sell.

I'm filing this experience away in my mind under the "less desirable" section...it's not one of the horrible or painful ones, but definitely not one that I want to repeat any time soon.  And there it will join other days that had similar lessons - and I have no doubt others in the future will be placed here as well.  But for now, I will enjoy this day and take the lessons learned to make it the best possible.  

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blogspot... a little better way to get to know more about me personally...

Monday, May 16, 2011

This is why I'm in love with the L series lenses for Canon...

You know if you've read my blogs at all before that I am passionate about my love for my children and family...that I am loyal to my friends...that I stand by my beliefs.  You also know that I love photography, and feel that passion (along with a good eye) go a long way in making a great photographer.  There have been times that I've had another photographer ask why I would want to pay the higher price for an L-lens for my Canon camera (my newest lens is the 50mm f/1.2 - which is probably my favorite overall)... well, today is my "off" day with lots of different repairmen coming by to take care of things.  Seems last week was my "break down" week, with things falling apart in my house.  Anyway... While waiting in between some of the appointments scheduled so that hopefully everything can get back to normal, I wanted to check on how my daylilies were coming along with blooming... so of course the first thing I grab is my camera.  And normally I would have gone on our with my 50mm, or possibly put my 24-70 on for this purpose -- but today I decided to use my less-often-used 100mm f/2.8 L because it is a macro lens.  (all of these lenses are L-series, but the 100mm is also a specific macro lens) And wow - I loved what I could see immediately when I uploaded the photos I took.  The L-lens just seems to capture the most vibrant colors.  I always shoot in RAW format - it allows me the most control with editing.  But even in that format, the images straight out of the camera are gorgeous.  I'm going to share a few - and you make your own opinion.  And share with me what you think -- or your own experiences.  And remember, these images are all SOOC (straight out of camera)

Mmmmm....so I'm looking forward to Monday?!

This weekend has flown by - but also was SO much work!  I hate that I've neglected this blog page - and hope you have had a great weekend!  I didn't get out a whole lot with my camera - just not much time, what with moving, no ac on my first floor, cable guy coming to repair cable AGAIN, and keeping a 13 months most of the weekend.  Needless to say, I'm exhausted!  Tomorrow morning I wake up early to greet the ac repairman - YAY!  And the washer repairman (my washer's not really broken, it just needs an attitude adjustment!)

But I thought that I'd share a few photos with you from the weekend - of my sweet Bailey.  I'll write more tomorrow - and catch up on what's been going on a bit more.

Have a great night!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yay to Friday!

This has been one of those "glad it's almost over" kind of weeks.  It has come from all sides - and all week long.  To top it off, the ac in my house is definitely not cool.  And the soonest the repairman can come out is Monday morning.  So I'm praying for a cold front to come through any time!  (Snow right now would be awesome!)  But so far, it's just looking like I'll be spending more time upstairs (usually the warmer part of my house - but that ac is going fine, although a bit overworked right now!) or finding reasons to get out of the house.  Later on I may share a little more about my rough week - but for now, I'm gathering my lessons learned from tough experiences, and applying them to growing into a stronger woman! 

I did get outside to grab a few pictures of the new blooms... it's the most exciting part of Spring for me!  I love the bright colors of new blooms - and how perfect they look.  I guess it's kind of like my excitement whenever I get to do photos of a newborn baby... they are just so perfect!

Have a great afternoon!!! 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Loving this catch-up day....

Are you ever so busy you just don't know how you will accomplish even a fraction of what you know you need to do?  That is how my entire week has been up until today.  Somehow I have managed to keep up pretty much - but I am enjoying today being a day to just catch up on things around my house.  Of course, my list of things that have to be done is still here with me - but I am getting to them as I can. 

I went outside earlier to check the mail and was thrilled to see that my Daylilies are about to bloom any day.  I will anxiously get up in the morning for the next week and go outside to see if I can catch them first thing in the morning.  They are always so beautiful, fresh and such a reminder that Spring is well on and Summer is right around the corner.  The colors are so beautiful this Spring, and the first purple flower has bloomed on the plant near my lightpost in the front yard.  The allergies of Spring might just about knock me out, but at least it's beautiful all around.  The thing I have missed seeing the most though are the baby ducks.  Seems there just aren't many around this year! 

Here are a couple of photos from my walk to the mailbox.  The Daylilies are right there - kind of teasing that they will open any day. 

It has been a very busy week, with several photo shoots.  The tougher part of the week has been in moving my youngest child out of her apartment at college back home for the Summer.  But she decided at short notice that she actually was just going to move out of the apartment altogether and live in the sorority house for Fall Semester, since she graduates in May anyway.  So it has been a scramble to arrange for help, trailers for towing, storage, etc.  It's always something, huh?

I hope your week has been going well - and check back often.  I will write more later - but for now, I've got to get back to my list!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What makes success?

Going into business is tougher than I thought.  And it's probably harder for me than even some people, because I am so particular about so many things.  I want everything done just right - every "t" crossed and "i" dotted.  No rules broken.  But that has taken many, many hours of many days...and more money than I care to think about most days!  Now I am reaching that plateau, where the craziness starts to calm down, and it's time to actually get to work in the business.  I want so much for my photography business to be successful, but tonight I found myself wondering exactly what that needs to mean for me.  For many people, success can be defined by the amount of money they make...and as a photographer, I guess that would be one way to define success.  Or in this line of work, it could be by how booked up your schedule stays.  So I definitely have a lot to work towards... but in some ways I already feel that I have succeeded at much in this field.

This is the wrong blog page for me to get into all of the specifics of what pushed me to really pursue my dream of being a photographer at this point in my life... but what I will share is that I DID pursue my dreams at this point in my life.  I DID decide that this is what I wanted, what I am good at, and I was willing (and am willing) to pay the price, to put in the work necessary, to make this all work out.  That is a success.  Often, when someone has seen some of my work, they seem happy and pleased with what they see... whether it is a personal photo of them or someone they love, or just a photo in general that I've taken.  That really doesn't matter.  I feel that I have succeeded because I have brought a smile - some feeling - to someone through a photo I captured of a moment.

With my kids, I've always told them that success cannot be measured by any amount of money or fame or popularity.  Success had to be feeling happy inside yourself that you were doing something that made a difference; that you were doing what you were good at and doing your best at it.  Even that people who make lots of money aren't necessarily successful if they are miserable in their life.  So - by that definition I am there -- I am successful.  Because at the end of my day, I am happy with what I am doing.  I love being behind my lens...working to capture that moment.  I don't worry about how much or how little money it makes right now (although I won't lie - I do hope that improves!) or that my schedule isn't slammed busy right now.  I am taking it slowly - doing it the right way - not feeling that I have to run anyone else down to make it, but rather trusting that God will lead me in the right direction and in His timing, I will enjoy true success.  For now, I am happy with each days successes.  It is enough for me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Another option....

Just to alert those who follow me (or randomly end up reading) on this blog, I have also started another blog page that will be my outlet for more personal blogs...kids, family, life in general.  It is "Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay." I will keep it "open" for right now, but will soon close it to "followers" only...But I invite you to check it out!

Hope you are having a great day!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What makes a day special?

By now I'm sure you know today is Mother's Day.  Hopefully the special Moms in your life were reminded in some way of how special they are to you - and if you are a Mom, I hope you know how special your role in life is to so many people.  You are irreplaceable and special. 

Do you ever wonder what is it that makes a day special?  Is it the people that are around - or the activities of the day?  Does a particular date actually make the day special or is it really much more than that?  I wonder if Thanksgiving would still feel special if nothing was different about it from any other day.  Somehow I think it is the family and friends, the food that we eat too much of, and the parade and football game that make it feel so special to us. 

With today being Mother's Day, ideally I would have loved having all three of my kids with me for the day.  When they are all together there is so much laughter much of the time.  But it didn't turn out that way.  As they are living their grown-up lives, it also means that I have to adjust to not always being the center of their universe.  And this is okay for me, because I want my kids to be independent and happy and have their own lives.  I did get to have some contact with each one of them... and my daughter has been with me for the entire day.  The best part of my day, though was spending it with my Mom on one side of me at lunch, and my daughter on the other.  Even though there were some other very special people missing from the equation, I was thankful for the moment. 

To celebrate Mother's Day for myself, I made sure to take a photo of my Mom today.  She looked so happy while just the 3 of us (she, Chelsea and I) were sitting at Starbucks drinking out coffees, talking and laughing.  It was a great time to have my camera right there with me (surprise!) 

I hope this has been a great day for you - and I hope there have been things in your day to make it special!

Oh - and here is something a little special for you.  I stopped on the way to meet my Mom for lunch - there is a gorgeous field of flowers on the side of the highway, and I had to pull over and take a photo.  Hope it makes you smile!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms...being a mother is about so much more than giving birth or adopting, it is sacrifice...it is being there for all the good & bad in a child's life...teaching, guiding & when necessary, disciplining them. Being a mother is self-sacrifice - at times lots of it. It is loving another little life so much your heart aches. If this is you...I wish a special Happy Mother's Day to you as well!!
The photos above are my biggest celebrations on Mother's Day.  The first photo is of my kids...they have the biggest part of my heart!  Being a Mom is sometimes very painful and disappointing...but when it is rewarding, it is worth all the other costs.  The other photo is my Mom...and she has taught me to be the Mom I am. 
Have a Happy Mother's Day...if you are a Mom, relish in the role that God has given you.  It is an awesome honor to be a Mother! 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

An afternoon out with my camera...

I love taking photos of people...there is nothing more fun than a photo shoot with a newborn, a mom-to-be, one or many children, or a family...photographing people is so pleasing!  But at the same time, I also have grown to really enjoy commercial photography much more than I ever thought possible.  Getting those interesting shots that makes someone want to see more - or the shots that kind of define what the business is all about.  But there are those days when I love being out - just me and my camera - and to kind of get lost in my thoughts and sometimes even dream a little.  Today was an absolutely beautiful day, and for a long time I sat out in my backyard taking photos of the birds that were flying back and forth from trees to the bird feeder...and later on it was driving around, stopping here and there to get photos just because it was beautiful at the place where I happened to be.  I'll share a few of those with you tonight... and I hope you have a great night!

If you would like to see more, please go to either my Photography by DonnaKay facebook page (where I have put several of the bird photos from earlier today as well!) or to my website at www.photographybydonnakay.com

You get out of it what you put into it....

Good morning!  It is such a beautiful Saturday morning - and a very special weekend.  I want to wish all of the other mothers a very happy and blessed Mother's Day!  Your role on this earth is very important, and even though there are many times that you probably feel very unappreciated, unrecognized, etc. you are irreplaceable and special.  Motherhood is definitely one of those roles that often comes with self-sacrifice - but it is worth every little pain, disappointment or moment of loneliness and exhaustion.  Enjoy tomorrow, as it is a day in our honor!  Ok...moving on....

As you read my blogs you will get to know me a little bit better, and you will find that I am a huge believer in self-sacrifice, personal responsibility, consequences, honesty, etc.  I firmly believe that you get out of life what you put into it... and sometimes the proof seems a bit sluggish or delayed, but it will come.  This blog is actually designed to help me share as I go through the daily stuff of getting my photography business up and going... something I've been warned could take a few years!  If that is the case, then it is good I didn't try to do this in my 20's when I was a much less patient person.

I am actually a very shy personality in many ways.  Social situations can almost paralyze me sometimes!  I've been told along the way after someone has finally gotten to know me that their initial thoughts about me were that I had to be a snob because I was so quiet... but once they got to know me they realized there is not a snobby bone in my body!  I often think about that when I am in a situation where I am closed up in my shell (probably fighting so my panic attack doesn't show to the crowd that surrounds me!)  But if you get me in a smaller group - say just a couple of people - and give me the chance to find some comfort and safety there, I will come out of my shell. Yet, I am still a work in progress when it comes to feeling comfortable with lots of people I don't know... and the past many months have brought both some wonderful people into my life along with some disappointment and hurt feelings. Continually I look at it all as part of the process to making my dreams come true... and I know it will all be worth it.

As I've worked these last many months to get this business officially up and going, I've had opportunities to meet many other people in the same situation as I am with this business... some may be a little bit ahead of me, and some may even be right where I am or a couple of steps behind.  Of those people, I am so happy to say that many of them have been supportive, helpful and very kind.  It is awesome when someone who is NOT a photographer sees my photos and compliments them or offers vigorous support for my pursuits - that is a lot of what drives me in my determination to continue striving for my dream.  But it is another place altogether when another photographer offers his or her compliments or encourages me to do more with my talent - because in the real world, we would be seen as "competitors."  This brings me to something I am NOT - and that is competitive.  If a situation comes up where there is competition, I will back off and let the other person have it.  It's not a lack of self-confidence - it is just that I don't feel I need to compete with someone else.  Maybe I am naive, but I truly believe that if I am the right photographer for a job, then I will get the job.  If someone sees my work, and they like my style... they meet me and they like my personality to work with them to get what they are after for their photography needs... then it will work out.  If it's about bidding against another photographer, or having to go in and sell myself over someone else, I can only give the facts - which is my work and my personality.  I hope that my honesty, my loyalty and determination matter... my years of life-experience make a difference... but more than anything, I hope that my talent will be what sells me as the photographer that someone would choose. 

I am putting everything into my work as a photographer.  And I know a lot about sacrifice.  My feelings the past few months have been sacrificed many times.  But I am learning from those situations... hoping to develop a thicker skin.  I also take each hurtful situation... each disappointment or let-down and allow it to help me grow - both as a person and as a photographer.  No matter what seems to be going on around me, though, nothing lessens my love and passion for my photography.  And that is what continues to drive me in my pursuit.  That is when I am thankful for the patience I have developed over many years... because that is what will give me the endurance to stick it out. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Makes me who I am....

 This is another photo from my "past" -- it is my daughter (she's my baby - and she's 20-yrs-old now).  Tomorrow she is taking her MCAT - and she has been preparing in some way or another for years for this moment.  In my heart I know she is ready for this step - but I still continue to pray for her to sleep well tonight and to feel rested and peaceful in the morning with the energy and stamina that she will need to get through the demands of this test. 

My daughter has been one of my biggest supporters as I've pursued my journey into this new photography business.  She will give me her honest opinion, which is something I've always been able to count on from her when it comes to anything in my life.  I've even been so fortunate to have her go with me on a baby photo shoot as my helper - and she ended up having the time of her life.  Of course, when we got in the car afterwards she said "I had no idea you worked so hard being a photographer!"  But I look at who she is and realize she has in some way or another challenged me her entire life.  Many people who get to know us will see quickly the similarities in our personalities (not to mention that she looks so much like I did at her age!), and I can quickly say that I would go through every difficult thing I've ever experienced if it took that to make her who she is today.  I believe she is the very best of me. 

Who challenges you in your life?  We should all have that "someone" who pushes us to be the best we can be!  I would love to hear from you!

Since my internet has been down and my blogging is behind, I'll share a little more "personal"....

This is a photo of my 3 kids...obviously from years ago.  They are all pretty close in age - so it was always so much fun and and there was so much energy going on in our home!  Today is my oldest child's birthday - he is 24-yrs-old, and I know it sounds cliche, but I just don't know where the time has gone!  It seems like yesterday that I was looking at him and holding him for the first time, and not a single one of those wonderful memories has begun to fade and seem like the past.  I love this photo - even as small kids, they were used to me having a camera around all the time.  The difference was that at that age they would actually pose for me!  Now it's me begging and usually getting a photo with a hand in front of my lens.

My internet has been down, and they were here all morning working on it and have it back up and better than ever!  So I'll leave this as just a small blog for now - and I'll write more later!  I hope you are having an awesome Friday - and that you remember Mother's Day this weekend!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Get to know me...

 It has occurred to me that I share so much information about myself now... maybe I should share a little more about the rest of my world.  So what I will do is periodically include a photo (or maybe 2 or 3, we'll see) from the past and tell you something about each photo.  So this is the first photo I will share.

This is my middle son, and this is his favorite photo of himself.  (Kind of funny to some people because you can't even see his face.  But it has also always been a very favorite of mine.)  When he was a senior in high school and it was time to work on his Senior Page for his yearbook, this was the photo he wanted in the middle of the page, with everything else worked around it.  In this photo I am at the beach with my three children and my brother and sister-in-law (at that time they were just dating, though).  It was a weekend in May and we were at the Myrtle Beach for the weekend - and we were camping in a tent!  Can you imagine the fun? Three kids ages 5 and under in a tent?  My daughter was about 17 months old and she kept trying to run off to the bath-house.  It was terribly frustrating.  This photo was taken with whatever little 35 mm film camera I had at the time - but it was a quiet moment in the early morning, and he was so sweet!  This child was the only one of my kids who sucked his thumb - and it was about a year later before I realized that he only sucked his thumb when he was holding this Mickey Mouse.  So Mickey Mouse had to move into my room then, and Tyler only had visitation. 

I would love to hear your comments...and if you don't want to write them here, you can always send me an email at donnakay@photographybydonnakay.com.  Another photo will be shared soon!

Thanks for reading!

Don't you always appreciate something more that has come with a price?

This morning I woke up way too early to have gone to bed last night way too late.  But I was satisfied when I finally closed my eyes that I had accomplished my goal and gotten my "pricing & policies" and "services offered" sections finished on my website.  The process of setting prices has been no fun, and definitely the most exhausting part of growing this photography business.  No question about it, I would have been happy just doing photo shoots for free for the rest of my days...but I think my career would have been very short because someone has to generate money to support the business!  Over the weeks and months of toiling over this subject leading up to finally settling on it yesterday I have heard many opinions, studied many other photographers price lists, cried, and prayed for guidance in all of it... and in the end the question that would be in my heart and mind has been, "Don't you always appreciate something more that has come with a price?"

Now I know I've said this before, but anyone who knows me also knows that I often think too much...I'm a ponderer, you could say.  Yet I can't help but to think of all the things in my life that mean the most to me and the price that is cost to obtain (or sustain) them.  And maybe at times that cost is not a monetary thing at all.  But for blogging-sake, I'm considering them all.  At times the cost might be my own self-sacrifice...as I have found is the price many times in relationships - whether it is a friendship, being a parent or marriage.  There are also those times when I would much rather take out a loan to pay the cost for something rather than have to suffer the way it's necessary in the situation.  I know when I was giving birth to my daughter I suddenly changed my mind about natural childbirth being such an awesome idea...it suddenly struck me that I didn't have the pain tolerance I remembered having with my other two children, and I wanted an epidural (even though I was terrified of how they administered them.)  Turned out, I was a little too late (actually the anaesthesiologist was a little too slow in finally getting to my room!) so I had to pay that price -- but oh, was it worth it!  Just about 20 minutes later the light of my life was in my arms, and the world has never looked the same.  Now, I don't think I could love her more because I couldn't get an epidural, that's definitely not the point of any of this.  But there was a cost. (Remember me mentioning that I can ramble sometimes....well, here is an example!)

Since I decided to jump out of the boat of "excited hobbyist photographer with talent" to a serious photographer wanting to learn my camera and equipment better and know how to use them at their full capacity, it has cost me time and money.  Often it has even cost me a bit of humility in hearing, accepting and applying constructive criticism or getting my feelings hurt because of some jealousy, pettiness or seeing that everyone isn't so kind after all!  But without all of that I would never have gotten to the place of believing that this dream could come true.  It was the encouragement of other photographers pointing out the talent that they were seeing in my work - telling me not to let it go to waste or be hidden away - that pushed me to finally go for it!  And I am so grateful. But oh the price it has cost to move on to the next step in this journey...it would take a novel, not just a blog, to be able to explain it all (hmmmm....now there's a thought!)  Beyond the obvious expenses of education, equipment, insurance, software, props, and on and on.... there has been the cost of many hours of sleep loss as I have had to make sure that everything is done just right.  From my blog yesterday you would know that settling on the pricing has just about taken the wind out of me, but there is also a relief in having it done and out there to be accepted or rejected.  And now the cost is to sell myself and my talent.  To convince someone that I am worth every penny and then some that they will pay to have me as their photographer.  Don't we all want to think we are worth the cost?  When I get a message from a friend (most of my clients turn into my friends! What a true reward!) telling me that the photos I took for them are priceless... wow, it is worth every bit of the cost I've put already into this business.  So I will trust that by giving every bit of myself in my talent, time and attention to my clients to help them capture those special moments in their lives will be what makes them walk away happy with what it cost to have chosen me as their photographer. 

I hope you have a very blessed day.  It is certainly gorgeous out there today - and I'm planning on getting out and enjoying it as much as possible!  Thanks for reading - and for sharing!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pricing...oh such stress!

If you've read any of my blogs so far then you know I am most passionate about my faith, my photography, and my family and friends - wow, especially those kids of mine!  I try to live out my faith for others to see, rather than smack someone in the head with it - although there are times when that boldness is necessary.  My photography is in everyone's face - literally!  There is no way to count how many times I've heard my daughter say "get that camera out of my face!"  And my friends and family - well, I try to make sure that no one leaves my presence without knowing they mean a lot to me - always, ALWAYS saying "I love you" before hanging up... and my heart still melts when my kids still tell me "I love you, Mama" even when they are sitting in the middle of friends, work, or with my son in the Navy, if he is standing in the middle of the hangar with the other guys!  I have learned after losing my Grandmother in a car accident years ago, that you just never know when your life will end... Ok.... so how does this have to do with pricing?!

Well, I've been working on pricing for a long time - having nothing published, and always practically hyperventilating when I have to deal with that part of doing a photography shoot.  But it's time.  My passion for photography and officially starting a business requires that there is pricing - and I've done much research and lots of figuring.  I want to be fair in my pricing, and there is always room for some negotiation in certain circumstances or to make the decision to give a photo shoot as a gift for whatever reason.  I read another photographers blog about pricing - and how much it also stressed her.  Some people blast you if you are too high - and some people think you can't be too good or too serious if you are too low.  The one thing I knew going into this business was that it was all about passion - and not about ever getting rich doing it.  But it does have to pay for itself at some point.  So when you are looking at a photographers prices, consider the work they have and still do put into their skill... the classes and seminars (that never stops - because updates and new techniques never stop!), the travel (I'm an on-site photographer, so I'm traveling to my subjects), the time of the photographer - not only in the photo shoot, but also in the editing.  Don't forget the equipment and software and other things they are paying that you probably never would have thought about (licensing, insurance, etc)... because I can tell you (as can my tax lady!) that none of it is cheap.  <And here is another instance that I will say, if you are reading this and you personally know me, you know I go for the best - I want to offer the best to my clients. I know when capturing those moments with a baby, or a maternity shoot, or any special occasion - they are once-in-a-lifetime moments.  It needs to be done right, because there are no do-overs.>  Hopefully the stress of setting my prices will ease soon - and I appreciate the support of those who realize the quality of the professional service they are buying.  And I leave this with a thought.... think of the most precious photo that you have, whether it's of one of your kids, a parent, your better-half, someone from the past, or even a pet... How much is it worth to you?

Ok - now to my other job... laundry!  Ugh - and then a dentist appointment, which is my least favorite place in the world (although, I adore my dentist...just in case he reads this blog at some point!)  Have a GREAT day! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Doesn't is all start and end with one thing?

Integrity.  It is what I want to wake up with - and always go to bed with.  It is easy to lose and hard to regain - and worth more than any price that I can imagine.  And integrity is probably what will keep me from getting some photography jobs - but hopefully it is also what will help me to get others.  My hope and desire is to be a flourishing and successful photographer - and have it all built on my integrity and talent.  It doesn't take long to look around and see that many people think their integrity is something that doesn't matter when they are making business decisions, or trying to get the best grade or get ahead at something.  But for me, I can't imagine that it isn't even more important to remember at those time!  Raising three children into their adulthood takes you through many life lessons involving integrity - and teaching them exactly what it means.  It can be from something as small as lying when there's a phone call for someone..."sorry, they are not here" when they are standing right in front of you... to not making it very clear that being trustworthy and kind is the only way to be.  So this comes around to my decision to start my photography business at 45... and the many times that I am faced with choices involving integrity.  Whether it comes down to actually losing a friendship (or something that I might have thought was a friendship!) because you have the integrity to stand up for yourself - or choosing not to run over others who are in the same profession to try to get ahead.  For me, that is never worth it.  So I have promised myself that I will be honest in what I do... that I will do the very best job I am capable of doing for someone.  And if I am approached about a job that I don't feel I can do the best for the client - I will be honest with them about it, and steer them in a direction if I know of a good direction they should go.  I am following all of the rules - from not putting copyrighted music on my website (which, I got something much more awesome anyway!) to making sure the business side of my photography business follows all of the laws.  How can I look at one of the photos I've taken of a sweet innocent new baby and feel any kind of joy in helping to capture that moment if I know at the same time that I lost my integrity in the process somehow?  It's all comes down to choices - and this, I believe, is the right one. 

Moments defined by a photo or a song....

For me life could probably be a musical. I've always been a bit dramatic, I guess. I always felt like the big fights with boyfriends were somehow romantic - and somehow would think "oh, this moment reminds me of this song..." Of course, I did mature out of that, but I still very often will be in a situation in my life and think "oh, this song would define this moment." Crazy, huh? Funny thing is, my daughter is also like that! We could give a list of songs that would perfectly sum up what's going on around the moment anytime. For me, photography is that way too. Looking at photos I've taken - especially the ones from when my kids were very young or when my Grandmother was still alive. I will look at the photo and remember what I was feeling when I took the picture, or what was going on in life at the time. And isn't that one of the reasons we love photography? It captures the moment - preserves it so it will never be forgotten. I love photography - and I hope that the work I do will always make then people who see it feel something. I want to make them smile, laugh or even cry - just never forget the moment.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vote in the poll!

If you are reading my blog, it would be great to get some feedback from you.  I would LOVE it if you would give your vote on my blogspot page.  It will help me know which direction to head - or continue in!! 

Thanks -- and I hope you've had a great weekend!!

Quiet in the house...

Yesterday was so busy that I barely had time to sit down...in fact, I think it was late (very late) last night before I did finally start to unwind!  Today has been busy in a different way... maybe a somewhat sadder way.  My middle child packed up his stuff (well, most of it used to be mine - but to get him ready to move into his first home-of-his-own I got some new furniture in order to be able to hand some down to him) and moved over 2 hours from home.  I'm finding it is always tough when the kids go.  There aren't many things I have ever wanted as much as I always wanted to be a Mom... now having the kids grown is just not part of the plan I had in my mind.  Not sure what I thought - maybe that they stayed babies or small kids forever?!  Anyway... today he returned home with his buddy who had gone with him yesterday to unpack the truck -- he had a few more things to pick up, and he also needed to get his car and take it back with him.  His job there starts tomorrow.  After packing up some of the food & supplies from our kitchen for him to take back with him, the last thing he asked for was a haircut.  Except for my first son getting a couple of haircuts as a tiny boy, I have always cut both my sons hair.  It wasn't until my oldest went into the Navy that he started having anyone else cut his hair - and now I guess we'll see if this son finds someone else to cut his as well.  Now he is gone - on his drive to his new adventure in life.  I'm sure it's a little bit worse than that feeling on the first day of school - where you are not sure if you are going to cry or throw up!  And I am also feeling some of that.  I'm excited for him - he's on a journey and he has so many great experiences ahead of him.  But I'm also a bit sad and heartbroken that he's not going to be here tomorrow.  He's always been the child of mine that I could count on to hug me constantly - to notice when I got a haircut - to push me out of the way of a bee and take the stings himself.  I hope this journey leads him to much happiness... and that it always brings him home to his Mom very often. 

One of the things I did give him in the past few months is my "old" camera -- a Canon 20D that was my first DSLR.  I made sure he had a couple of nice camera bags and some lens options as well.  Part of me hopes that as he settles into his new life and he finds those days where he has extra time to fill, that he will pick up this camera and start shooting and maybe find he has the love for photography that I have.  When the camera was still mine, it was often around his neck - as he has always loved to take pictures.  So I do hope that continues.  I guess we'll see.

Now on to start cleaning the house now that all of the extra furniture, boxes and just stuff have been moved out.  I've already had it planned to turn his room into a photo studio - got everything ready to go in there!  I'm pretty sure my camera will help me deal with whatever life throws at me - and this is not going to be any different!

A long day...

Have you ever been so tired that you can't rest? That is where I am right now. It has been so busy since I returned from vacation, and today was non-stop. And throughout then day I would think "if I could just sit still I would fall asleep" and here I am with a quiet house and the chance to sleep and I'm awake! My mind is telling me I should get up and do some things around the house - maybe get caught up on some ironing. But my body is telling me not to dare move - I am past the point of exhaustion.

I've been reflecting on some of the lessons I've had to learn lately: disappointments and feeling disrespected, letting go and allowing a child to take those steps into independence, balancing time to accomplish as much as possible within a short amount of time - just to name a few. I'm like anyone else - I don't like any kind of suffering on my own part. But I have cme to appreciate lessons and the growth thatmcmes from surviving them. I pray they will make me wiser and compassionate; that I will become a more passionate person for the people and thngs that are important to me. I've even learned to find a way to be thankful for these lessons - believing that it was because of some good old lesson learning that imset out in this journey. So I guess that would be considered a success story!