Friday, September 30, 2011

Great News!

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

This has certainly been a busy week!  Months ago I signed up for an After Dark Education conference, and as the time drew near I became more and more excited.  Then Monday arrived and it was TIME!  Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am NOT a "big crowd" kinda girl... I'm great and fine one-on-one, but when I get into a crowd I have a bit (a large bit!) of social anxiety and seem to clam up.  Sadly, that is often misinterpreted - but the simple truth is I'm having a bit of an internal breakdown in group situations!  But I didn't let that stop me from what I really wanted to accomplish at this conference.  I packed my car with my gear and my clothes for a couple-of-day stay at the Hilton in Charlotte (even though it was barely 50 minutes from my home!) and away I went.  I was barely checked in when I ran into another photographer I had met in a class back in the Winter, and that made everything a little bit easier for me.  And from there the remainder of my time seemed to flow... in fact, before I knew it I was being booted out and sent back home with the wealth of knowledge and growth I had attained at this conference.  I met so many awesome fellow photographers - and grew so much in my business knowledge that it just didn't seem possible to have only spent 3 days of my life there.  

But as great and awesome as that part of my week was already - on Tuesday morning I checked email after I got up, and was beyond elated to receive an email from NAPCP - National Association of Professional Child Photographers that I had been reviewed and was invited to be a member of their great organization.  I could have screamed from the excitement!     (Ok - so maybe I did scream a little scream, but ONLY because at After Dark I believe the name reflects WHEN the most learning is going on... NO ONE sleeps until the sun starts coming up!!  Seriously!!!)     After I calmed down from my initial surprise and excitement, which probably resembled Christmas morning with a small child, I just felt honored and elated...and more than humbled than words can express to feel appreciated for the hard work I've put into my art and business as a Professional Photographer. 

This is only the first time you'll see me blog about my experiences this past week at After Dark... there is so much I took away from it that I want to share with you.  But right now I'm still reeling in it for a few more moments, processing each detail that I want to hold onto and ideas that I want to implement.  So stay close by!  You don't want to miss a thing.... I promise!!  --  And to the NAPCP... Thank you for the honor of being a part of your organization.  Thank you for recognizing my hard work and talent... I am thrilled and challenged. 

It has been a great week... and I hope you, my reader, will not only celebrate with me, but be challenged to reach for your dreams... we'll talk more about that soon.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Would you like to win a free Maternity Photo Session??

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

Drawing for a FREE Maternity Photo Session
(15% off of prints from session). 
This will be for all the local mama's-to-be
To enter, please email me at 
and tell me why you would like to have maternity photos done. 
Then on Oct 1st I will draw from all entries 
and notify the winner by email. 
So if you live in the Cleveland County, Gastonia or Charlotte area* & you are expecting a baby
ENTER soon!
or share this with your friends if they are expecting!
 I look forward to hearing from you!!

**winner of this photo session will also be offered 
15% off of a newborn session
*photo session can be on location or in-studio... on location must be within 30 miles of zip code 28021

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Weekend at The Mast Farm Inn - Part II....

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

You've seen how beautiful the area is around The Mast Farm Inn from yesterdays blog... and you've seen some photos of the gorgeous room that I got to stay in - The Joe Mast Room.  But let me tell you more about the evening.  When making the reservation I was asked if we planned to have dinner in the restaurant at the Inn "Simplicity at the Mast Farm Inn" and urged to make reservations before we arrived.  The best thing I can say is do not miss having dinner here at some point in your life!!  Of course, I would highly recommend that you also stay at the Inn for the evening, as that makes the entire experience complete... but even if you can't stay at the Inn, it is well worth your time (and a major treat in life) to have a meal in this restaurant.  There are two quaint dining rooms with only a few tables in each... so dinner is very intimate, and it's as if you are being served by a family member.  When we first arrived at The Mast Farm Inn earlier in the evening we were greeted by Courtney, who showed us to our room as well as around the Inn... and it was also Courtney who showed us to our table for dinner.  The dinner menu is a set menu, but you are given a personalized menu describing dinner for the evening that you may keep.  Our dinner started with a creamy cauliflower soup, an awesome salad that had a molasses glaze drizzled on it (I seriously wanted to lick the plate!), fig-stuffed chicken, sweet potato souffle and a zucchini casserole.  Then for desert there were several choices (at least one with chocolate), of which I chose peach cobbler (my fav) with homemade caramel-vanilla ice cream.  I was only able to eat maybe half of my food... but wouldn't have missed tasting all of it.  They also offer a very nice selection of wines and beers, with recommendations for what will best compliment dinner.  

After the wonderful dinner we decided to hang out in the front parlor.  It was a beautiful night, but honestly I was exhausted from a busy day of taking pictures and walking around Blowing Rock at the shops.  And the parlor was irresistible...large overstuffed leather chairs, a large comfy leather sofa (where I planted myself for the evening!)  It wasn't too long before we were joined in there by two other couples, who just so happened to also be from the Charlotte area - but none of us knew each other prior to this evening.  One couple had started a game of backgammon before dinner, so they were back to finish up their game.  The other couple was watching to learn how to play the game - and we watched to remind ourselves of just how to play the game too.  But more than that, we were three couples who were hanging out in this gorgeous old house on a Saturday night... laughing, getting to know each other, sharing our lives and making new friends.  During our drive home the next day my husband and I were talking about how great it was to be somewhere that there were no TV's - that we didn't have the computer to distract us - and we were forced to relax and just enjoy life.  Now let me share some of the evening with some photos.....

 Josh and Nicole were such a cute couple - they were at the Inn to celebrate their one-year anniversary!  I know it will be a 1st anniversary to always remember, sharing it with 2 other couples, playing backgammon (and even winning a game or two!) and laughing until it hurt!

Then there was John (who is married to Heather) - and he was a master of backgammon.  He was a very patient teacher, and his humor brought many laughs from us all.
I LOVED capturing the evening... seeing the excitement when there was a good roll (or many good rolls!).... and I may also have a much better understanding of the game myself now!

And then there was the great group shot with the four of them (no - I'm never in the pictures -- that's why I'm the photographer!!)  ....John, Heather, Josh & Nicole

So the next time you're trying to think of a romantic getaway weekend, if you are anywhere near the NC mountains, I would urge you to consider The Mast Farm InnYou will surely have no regrets, and you may even leave the weekend with some new friendships!  But you will surely be rested and feel welcome while you are in their care.

The fine print.....  
*These pictures and this blog are by no means advertisement for The Mast Farm Inn... in fact, I only hope that they will see this blog and these pictures and be pleased to learn of the wonderful experience we had staying in their Inn this past weekend. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Weekend at the Mast Farm Inn....

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

Far too seldom does a chance comes along for me to completely get away.  I'm very well aware that I am at the beach every time I turn around -- but along with me at the beach is my computer and a lot of work to be done.  My job follows me everywhere!  But this past weekend it was a get-away weekend like I haven't had in a long (and well overdue) time.  Up to the NC mountains - one of the most gorgeous places in the world.  If you've never been to the NC mountains, you cannot imagine what you are missing.  But if you do get a chance to go up there for a visit, I would really like to recommend a wonderful place to spend a weekend if you are looking to unwind, totally relax and possibly make a new friend or two.  It's a sweet B&B - The Mast Farm Inn in Banner Elk.  It's nestled in Valle Crucis, and it's as if you're a million miles away from the world when you're there.  Time kind of stands still - and if you're finding that impossible to believe, then just take a look at some of the photos....

These are a few views of the cute room that we stayed in... it is the Joe Mast room, and I would highly recommend requesting it.  It actually has a Queen-sized bed and a twin (I told my husband that was where husbands sleep when they snore! hehe!)  And the bathroom has an old claw-footed bathtub with a dressing room right outside with an old dressing table.  

There is fresh filtered water set out on the bedside table -- and to my delight, there were homemade cookies!  They were so yummy!

And did I mention the cute "working" fireplace?  The room was so comfy... but notice there is no TV!!  How awesome is that??!  Really - it's so relaxing to NOT have to turn on the TV.  When we got to the room there was an old-timey radio playing - and it was playing a CD of old radio talk shows.  

So after settling in I wanted to take a walk around the grounds to explore (of course, with my camera to capture as much of the beauty around as possible!)

Honestly there was not a direction to turn that would leave you disappointed... it was one of the most relaxing places I've ever visited... and I've only told you about the first couple of hours!   Let me show you around just a little bit more...

Along the grounds there are lots of little cute houses... come to find out they are also guest houses!  Look how adorable these are!!

And walking around in the back is a pond... every step you take just leads to another place of relaxation....

Are you at least a little bit intrigued by this place?  I can't wait to share more with you tomorrow... dinner at the restaurant there was incredible!  But that is only part of what's to come... so I hope you'll come back to hear about the rest of my stay at The Mast Farm Inn.

Be sure to read Part II!

**All of my images are copyright © Photography by DonnaKay and ARE NOT to be copied, cropped, downloaded or used in any way without my express written permission. You may share links to these photos (please advise me, though) but images should not to be altered or cropped in any way. Also, give credit to Photography by DonnaKay for the photo. Please RESPECTFULLY INCLUDE MY LOGO/copyright in ALL images.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Original work available....

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

Have you checked out the "Original Images by DonnaKay" gallery that is new in my Online Store?  It has been an exciting venture to start offering some of my original images to sell for clients to hang in their homes or businesses.  For me each picture I sell holds a part of my heart, as so much passion goes into every picture I take.  Sometimes when I'm placing an order I will order an extra Standout - most of the time I want to hang it in my own home, and there are times that I want to give one as a special gift.  But I am offering these three for sale, at a special price, to whoever would want them.  These are 12 X 18 in size, which is one of my favorite things about a standout - I can keep the size I want without having to worry about how difficult it would be to frame them.  And if you don't know about the Standouts - they have quickly become one of my favorite.  They are very lightweight, and come ready to hang on the wall.  They are 3/4 inch thick, and the edges are black so they will compliment most any home or office.  They are treated with a Lustre finish, which provides a UV coating to keep them beautiful for years to come.  (of course, the sun is extreme and strong, so there is no guarantee if placed in direct sunlight that they won't fade within time... but that should be considered with anything in direct sunlight!)

My normal price on this size Standout (with a clients photo - not one of my own images) is $125 each (plus shipping, if needed) - but I am offering each of these for $89 (each Standout), which is a phenomenal price!  I only have one of each to offer at this price!  (The watermark that is shown in these examples is NOT what is on the photo - they will actually be hand-signed.  But I NEVER put my photos on a blog or facebook with a watermark for added security.) 

If you have interest in any of these pieces, please send me an email at -- or go to my website (link is above) and click on the "contact me" tab and leave a message there.  

Also, visit the Online Store soon at my website - and look through the Original Images by DonnaKay.  I will be adding more work to the Gallery, so check back often.  
Thanks!!  Have a GREAT day!!

 "Sunrise after the Storm"

 "O, Those Clouds"

 "Sunset Brings Promise"

Friday, September 9, 2011

What I want my friends to know....

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blog @ ... 
a way to get to know a little more about me personally...
Don't you just hate those awkward moments when you run into someone at the grocery store and think "Oh, no... I just had the carpets cleaned and I forgot they have a carpet cleaning business and I didn't use them!  But I did have this coupon to another place and their price fit into the budget I had to get this done... I hope they don't know!"... and then you are either avoiding your friend or feeling very weird around them!  I know exactly how that feels, because that has been me before -- and no doubt sometime down the road it will be me again.  I am a Photographer.  I specialize in Lifestyle Photography, and do lots of newborns, babies, children, family sessions, portraits, etc.  But there are a few things I want my friends to know....

  1. Never feel obligated to use me because we are friends.   I truly don't want someone to feel they have to avoid me because they used someone else to take their family portraits, or called another photographer to do their maternity session.   You get the idea, right?  Simply, we all have our own style, and photography is a LOT about style.  But a photo session and prints are also an investment.  It is not cheap to have a photography session done and then to purchase prints - so you need to feel the best about who you choose to do the job, to get the "look" you want from the session, and work in the price range you feel is best for your budget.   
  2. I do offer a discount most of the time to my friends, but please remember this is still my business...  It is a lot of pressure on anyone when they do business with a friend.  My husband is a physician, and has some patients who are also friends.  Needless to say, there has been the occasion where someone thought because they were friends that they didn't have to worry about ever paying.  Thankfully this has not been the usual case, because it is a very awkward position for my husband!  But there are still insurance guidelines, staff and overhead to be paid, etc.  For me I am a sole proprietorship photography business.  And with that comes a lot of monthly bills from business insurance, website charges, dues, equipment payments, supplies, etc.  It does add up!  I LOVE what I do... being a photographer is like a dream come true (wait... it IS a dream come true!)  But part of that dream neglected to include how much it costs to run this business.  I love, love, LOVE to offer my friends a discount, but I still have to cover my costs.  Please love me anyway.... and also keep that in mind when I still have to charge you.  I will always try to throw in a little extra, take pictures of your kids here and there for fun and make sure you get them, etc.
  3. I appreciate your support, love and encouragement.   As I've mentioned, starting my photography business is a dream come true.  And I've had so much support, love and encouragement from my friends.  YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO ME and I can't imagine being on this journey without you by my side.
 That being said, I do hope to be the photographer for many of my friends newborn children/grandchildren; I do hope one day to be the photographer for a friends grown child as they are marching down that aisle on that special Wedding on and so on.  But I don't want anyone to ever feel our friendship makes them indebted to use me.  I will be just as happy visiting that newborn child/grandchild... or sitting in the crowd at the wedding crying as they say their "I do's"..... Thank you for being my friend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Things Going on in the Store!!! Check it out!!

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

We are so excited to have been awarded #1 Photography Studio in Cleveland County!  
We hope you'll help celebrate!
Call and make an appointment for your Photo Session soon!
Here is a screenshot to show you what the homepage of the new Store at Photography by DonnaKay looks like.  It has been a lot of work to get it up and running, and it is constantly changing - so drop by often!
Have you visited the new 
Photography by DonnaKay Online Store?
It's a great place where you can learn more about the Session choices, product options,look at the images from your photo session as well as pick exactly what prints you would like.You can chose a canvas gallery wrap, pick out whether you would like to buy prints one by one or purchase one of the package choices for a great price.  And if you have someone to purchase a gift for, there is always the Gift Certificate, which is a perfect gift  for
someone who wants to have a photo session done or wants to purchase a few more prints from a Session they have either scheduled or have just finished up with.  And keep an eye on the Store, as it continues to grow and more and more is offered to keep clients happy, coming back often and referring their friends! -- so go take a look!!  Click on the link above!!

 The PERFECT gift for showers, birthdays (especially 1st birthdays!), 
new parents and MANY other occasions!!

Special for September: 
Schedule your High School Senior portrait session and receive a $50 credit toward your Print order. 

Please contact me with any questions!

(Session fee must be paid in full to hold an appointment time.  As long as Session is booked during September you have until October 31st to have photo session scheduled)
REMEMBER that you can earn a $20 REFERRAL CREDIT for every person you refer that schedules a Regular Session*
Referral Credits can only be used towards Regular Session fees (no limit - so you can even earn enough credits to cover your entire Session fee!)
*Session fee must be paid before Referral Credit is awarded - sorry, Mini-Sessions don't count towards referral credits
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

New to the Store: 
You can now purchase Original Prints from  
Photography by DonnaKay 
...available in your choice of Print or Canvas Gallery Wrap. 
Check out the new Option "Images by DonnaKay" on the Menu.  And if there is something you've seen in one of the Photo Galleries on the main website that you would be interested in purchasing, send me a message.   


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I would say to a new photographer...

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

I have been very blessed to have some wonderful instructors and mentors along the way in my photographer's journey.  And I'm no different than anyone else - I don't like to have someone criticize me -- no one likes criticism.  But if you want to really be the best you can at anything then criticism is sometimes necessary.  As a photographer it helps to have someone give critique, as it allows you to see things from another angle and it pushes you to grow to a higher level.  For someone considering a profession in the photography world - or someone who is even new to the field - here are a few of my thoughts and a little advice I would like to offer.   

1) A camera does not make someone a Professional Photographer.  It doesn't matter how big or small, expensive or inexpensive your camera is -- the camera is just a tool.  A photographer is much more than someone who pushes the button - but rather they are an artist who knows how to envision what the picture will look like and they shoot with that in mind.  That being said, don't ever think "if I could just get a better camera then my pictures would be so much better."  It's simply not true at all.  A good camera can help a lot - but without a good eye, an understanding of how the camera works and how to take a good picture, you will just be taking a more expensive camera.  So learn - take classes, attend seminars, ask questions, and most of all practice, practice, PRACTICE!!    NOTE: Please don't say this to a photographer "what kind of camera do you use? I love that picture - if I had a camera like that I could take pictures like that."  It is actually an insult.  It is SO much more than the camera.  And even knowing the settings ("what were your settings for ISO, f/stop, shutter speed when you took that shot?") when we captured a shot won't be a recipe to take a similar shot.  So much more comes into play: what time of day was it, lighting source & direction it was coming from, etc. are equally and often more important questions.

2) Critique is important!  We don't grow by just sitting back having our friends and family tell us how nice our pictures are... but having an experienced photographer critique your work (sometimes harshly!) will really push you to grow.  I always love and appreciate the kind words of my friends and family (so please keep saying nice things to me!)... but honestly it's when I get a compliment from a complete stranger, or from a fellow photographer that I get really the most excited.  I remember one time when I was going to be sitting before an accomplished photographer having my work critiqued... I seriously don't think I slept for a week beforehand, I was so nervous.  I was sure he would laugh at my work!  It was such a growing experience to hear him give his professional opinion about the work of the photographers in the room, and offer advice, critique and compliments on photo by photo.  I felt like I grew in my understanding and appreciation so much.  Don't be afraid to put your work in front of someone who has the experience, ability and talent to offer you critique - and be willing to take the good and the bad.  There is such a potential to grow from this experience.  

3) Don't get on Facebook (or other social networking) and upload every single picture that you take.  Nothing is more annoying than to see someone putting up these photo albums with several hundred pictures.  And you click through a few and it's almost as if you are watching a moving picture!  Go through your photos and choose the best representation and choose the top ones to show.  You want to peak someone's interest, not bore them.  Remember - if they get bored they will go to another page.  So do what you can to hold onto their interest on your page.

4) Learn from other photographers, follow them, admire them, gain new ideas from them.. all of those things are great.  But don't try to duplicate them.  Be yourself!  Find your vision and develop your own style.  And that is not only in their photography style, but also respect the hard work they've put into personalizing their own business and don't try to copy that.  If there's something you would like to borrow from to develop into something that would work for you, then ask permission (and respect if the answer is "No") before just copying (which is stealing).  EXCLUSION to even asking: the wording used for describing a photographer's business AND especially the "About Me" should NEVER be copied (or even asked about copying!)  The main message here is that you should want to sell yourself to your clients.  If you feel that you aren't good enough for a client to want YOU, then work on that, don't try to sell them something you are not!  In the end that never turns out well, and it keeps you from becoming all that you can be.

There are so many great photographers out there, and any artist wants to know their work is appreciated.  If you are a photographer, grow in who you are as an artist - and your clients will know exactly who they are getting when they hire you for their next session.