Goal Setting 101

It’s been an interesting time since opening my studio. I’ve gone through some goals, nailed some, altered some, need to refocus on some. I’ve gotten too busy, I’ve had slow times, you know how it goes… But there’s one thing that keeps happening to me time and time again. And I believe the universe tries to point you to different paths, if you listen.

Last month, I attended Imaging USA in San Antonio. This is a HUGE conference where I was one of 11,000 photographers who signed up to get a week’s worth of education in shooting, business, networking, you name it. I met some AMAZING people. Some were just like me, some were astounding, some were a series of “aha moments” as I listened to them. Some of the information came from speakers and teachers in classes and some of the information came from conversations with new friends and conversations over meals or drinks or merely sitting side by side waiting on our next adventure. I bonded with people quickly, as we all had a common thread of learning about our craft. I made friends that I know will STAY friends for a long, long time. It was such a beautiful week. I was inspired, I was excited and I was simply HAPPY.

I came home and immediately met a few new photographers. One? Spent their time telling me how much THEY knew. Smirking at me with a pity face when I’d speak and they’d interrupt with “well, I’m sure that’s fine for YOU, but….” and so I listened to them. I listened to the condescending way they spoke.

I met some that speak only of the negative. “This photographer does this…or that…” and they judged. Sometimes judging someone who’d shot a job they’d have LOVED to shoot. They complained about their business. They complained about their customers.

Then I had a few that I didn’t know, that reached out to me saying, “can I come to your studio? Can you show me HOW you do what you do?” “Please help me.” I loved it. I welcomed them. I told them all I knew, I learned what they knew. I listened to what they said as they left my studio and there was a common theme. Which, when wrapped up as a nice gift along with the other people I’d listened to, was very eye opening.

It actually showed me something and taught me something. Be kind. Listen. Every person wants to be heard. Every person wants to feel like you value them. This is true with whomever you are taking a photograph and every person from whom you are learning and every person with whom you are conversing. It’s actually one of the best business models.

As I listened to Sue Bryce and Lindsay Adler and Gary Box and Tony Corbell speak. This was a lesson as the “learner”. They all made you feel heard. As I listened to the people who spoke from insecurity and not compassion, and I didn’t feel heard, I didn’t like it. I took away nothing. They people that came to me WANTING to be heard, we got much more accomplished when we heard each other. When a client comes to me, I have to HEAR THEM, or I miss capturing them as they truly wanted. Sometimes, they don’t know. They simply want to feel amazing. I hear that.

When my daughter came to me wanting maternity photos, this was the case. She isn’t a photographer, she just wanted a great experience. She wanted to feel “beautiful” in a sliver of time where she doesn’t feel that way daily. It’s no different than the rest of us, really. As she had hair and makeup done, as she had her shoot, her little girl watched her beautiful mommy feel AMAZING for a day. She wanted that, too. A bit of powder in the hair and makeup room, letting her stand in while her mommy changed clothes, had that baby girl feeling heard and amazing, too. Her little brother? Well, he wanted in on the action, too. He wanted to look STRONG. So, it was incorporated.

My takeaway from the past month? We all have something to offer. From wanting to feel strong, to wanting to feel pretty, to wanting to feel helpful or even just wanting to have someone say, “I get ya. Me, too…” There is the desire. So when I put this all together, I see this: We must all keep listening. We must all keep learning. We need to empower each other, because, in the end. It’s our biggest gift. As an artist, it’s not always my photograph. It’s the experience of getting the photograph. It’s that person, seeing themselves in a positive way, of having a print that reflects THAT and also, a beautiful memory of the photographic experience. Listen. Learn. NEVER get so wrapped up in “yourself” that the other person isn’t heard, because, well, then you’ve missed it.

On this note, I will share with you the experience of doing my daughter’s maternity session. Our experience, our laughter, our beautiful day that offered more memories from the day than merely just the photograph.

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Holidays and what I’ve learned…

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Oh…Holiday Time! It’s when we, as photographers, are amped up and super busy! I did have my studio last year, but was still completing renovations. I was still focused on making my space the creative space that I felt comfortable in to create art.

This year? WHOA! Suddenly, I had Santa come in for a day. I shot corporate parties, private parties, a Bar Mitzvah, I had families coming in, I was designing custom Christmas cards, I was creating canvases and wall art for gifts, for homes and for reminders of times. I created memories. I was living my bliss.

I have spent the last two weeks, among the last minute shopping, last minute decorating, and having the “down time” to play games with my family, have a “Meems Day” with my grandkids where we created ceramic gifts for their parents…just absorbing THIS side of my bliss. Down time is blissful, also. It’s been nice to reflect, learn, re-visit and set new goals.

I realized, in my “busy” that I’d not gotten my CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) which expires this year. Yep. I’d taken and passed the rigorous exam. I’d not shot and submitted the images necessary. Oops. I’d bought software to make my reveal and ordering appointments much more professional and easy…I’d not even downloaded it, much less learned it and implemented it. I had studio management software that I’d bought, which sat in some abyss with the ordering software. Who had time?! I WAS MAKING MEMORIES FOR PEOPLE! I neglected getting contracts and communicating as effectively as I should with the people who were trusting me to capture their memories. Oh, they were happy, but it could have been so much BETTER and MORE!

I believe, wholeheartedly, any creative, any business owner, any person with goals hits these little times of reflection and growth. While I am SO HAPPY with the memories people have…I cannot WAIT to hit this year of “BETTER”. I can’t wait to step up, do more, do better, do a fuller, more complete version of what this year had. I can’t wait until this time next year, when I say, “Whoa. I did it. And I learned THIS…and will grow in THIS WAY in 2018!” Goals are incredible. Vision is astounding. It’s scary and exciting and I’m SO READY! So…

For all of you in the same space as I am as we wind down 2016…. Let us all pat ourselves on the back for the achievements! While we do that, let us be honest with what we “could have done” better…DO BETTER…and then push for even more change! My vision board is sadly a bit similar to last year, due to the CPP…but there were so many things that WERE achieved that I’d not even envisioned! So HERE’S TO 2017! Here’s to growth, lessons, experience and change!

I, for one, cannot WAIT!

 

 

First months with a studio!

Ha…haven’t written in months. WOW did getting a studio take over my life! LOL!

So, Oct. 1, 2015 I picked up the keys. The landlord met me with keys and a solemn, “um, they left a few things…” I was bouncing. I was buzzing with excitement. I exclaimed, “I don’t care! I’ll get it!!!!” as I charged into the completely empty space that was to be my blank slate that would house my creativity!

Yeah. That was the dream, wasn’t it? Did I mention that my space was once a police station and a city hall? There wasn’t a creative vibe to be had. I opened my front door and saw cubicles. Yep. A big “shooting space” full of cubicles. They’d left them for me. I saw trash. Everywhere. Not bagged up trash, but trash simply thrown on the floor. Finished with that water bottle? Throw it down.

THAT’S OKAY! IT’S MY SPACE!!!! Yep, that was my attitude! I started gathering trash. I made a 4 foot square pile of trash to be taken out. I started washing walls with mint oil to rid the space of weird energy and a general “Barney Fife’s office” vibe. I vacuumed toenail clippings in one office. clickety clickety…ever heard toenail clippings through a vacuum cleaner? Yeah, I hadn’t either. I found a bullet…bigger than my hand…I found rolling papers and meth testing kits and general trash. It took EIGHTEEN DAYS to get things clean enough to be able to have the carpets cleaned.

My teenage son came to see it and his response? “It looks like it should smell like a cigarette.” His girlfriend’s response was similar. She said it had “bad energy”. I immediately ordered sage. I washed the walls again. I got to painting. I painted away the dark paneling and made it feel like MY SPACE…

Funny part? I got the keys on Oct 1st. On Oct 4, my phone rang…and it was someone needing an album cover shoot. His album was to be released 6 days later. I had to decline. There was no way in the midst of this mess, I could shoot that! The artist said, “oh. Well, then, I’ll push back the date. You have to be the photographer!” WOW…. So, days later… in all the weird energy and barney fifedome….we shot an album cover. It turned out beautifully. What a way to start the studio off with fun and creativity!!! Since then, there’s been Save the Date cards remaking the “This is 40” movie poster…so yes, I’ve even shot the studio toilet…ha… there’s been families, babies, newborns, children high school seniors, football players…the energy is so beautiful and creative…it’s clean. It’s all going to be perfect. I feel it now! I’m going to share the “before” photos of the studio…mostly to make you laugh…I will share more “after” shots throughout the journey!

Ohhhhh, it’s been a while!

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And it’s been crazy!

However; I’m updating because I said that I was going to share the journey. I haven’t. I’ve been figuring out which road this journey would be best suited to use. It’s been fun and tricky and scary and exciting.

And now that I’ve shared all the adjectives of the journey. Let me say that those are the EXACT adjectives to describe how I feel right at this very moment. I’m getting a studio.

Tomorrow.

Yep. I pick up the keys tomorrow. It’s my last day with no studio. Let me back up and fill ya in. So…I’d been looking ALL OVER THE PLACE for a studio. I’d talked to builders, I’d talked to people an hour away from my home…I’d looked, I’d searched, I had people tell me crazy prices, I had one guy who wanted me to meet his parents, I had good prices but across the street from another photographer, I had sharing offers, I thought I’d seen it all. I’d looked East and West and South.

Not north. I live north. I live FAR north. I’m close to Dallas(ish) but far enough that people’s eyes widen when I tell them where I live. I get “ohhhhhh wowwww…….” so looking FURTHER north didn’t even seem reasonable. The only time *I* go further north is to go to Oklahoma (which is closer to me than Dallas) or to pick up my grandkids to take them to gymnastics….See where I’m going here?

Yep…every time it was gymnastics day, I’d pass this little town, one town north, and pass a great little spot….that was for rent. A couple of weeks ago, I got done a bit early from a shoot, so I drove by again to get the number. I pulled in, and called. The guy answered and said he was there so I could come look! I explained to him what I wanted. What I NEEDED. He kept shaking his head “no” as I looked in awe at what could be MY space. He finally said “Kid, this isn’t it. I’ve got a space you’ll like better…can you follow me and I’ll show you?” Sure.

So he takes me to Main street in this little town…to the City Hall and the Police Station. (I’m not kidding.) He says they’re moving out at the end of the month. Rent is cheap. It’d be all mine. We looked around (awkwardly. don’t ever try and look around a police station and city hall and think it’s going to be easy…it’s NOT).

Fast forward….I’ve signed a lease, I’ve gotten a business bank account, I’ve gotten a DBA…I’ve gotten so I can take credit cards, I have a certificate of occupancy and inspections scheduled and have paid deposits and fees and “stuff” that I didn’t even know I’d have to pay! LOL! All to lead up to tomorrow. My own place. MY STUDIO. A new town. New faces. New team colors. I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff and seeing what happens.

Yep…fun and tricky and scary and exciting. I’ll keep you posted. And I’ll keep posting. There will be no shortage of before and after photos. From law to art. This space has a whole personality change a comin’…..

Inspiration is a funny thing…

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about inspiration. Knowing that I am on the threshold of a lot of changes, I examine things…a lot. I read everything I can get my hands on from actual literature, to biographies, to marketing material to business books. I read magazines, blogs, books…anything. I’m at a strange point in my life where I am more a sponge than when I was two years old.

My youngest kiddo is going to be a senior in high school. I have one more year to home school him. My grandkids (that I keep during the day) are growing quickly also. The oldest heads off to kindergarten this year. I won’t have her all day. The youngest? I’ll have him, unless he goes to an actual preschool this year. To every thing, there is a season.

I’m at a time in my life now where my inspiration can’t only come from my children. Oh, they still inspire me. I have one that tours with a rock band and lives his life on his own terms. THAT is inspiring. I have one that loves the corporate world and is diving head first into being an amazing business woman while raising her two adorable babies. THAT is inspiring. I have the teen who boldly walks from being my baby to being independent. He saved and just bought his first car. He teaches drum lessons to kids and almost daily makes a comment or discovery about “his kids.” His passion for music and drumming. His goals that he’s set, yet he’s a bit in the dark about what his future holds since he’s never walked a journey like that quite yet… THAT is inspiring.

I find myself looking forward to Sundays. It’s quiet in the mornings. I turn on “Super Soul Sunday” on the Oprah Network each week. I have found that listening to her interviews of just flat INSPIRING people, well, it inspires me. From the spiritual to the curious to the motivating. I am at my most creative when having their interviews start my day. My husband laughs at me. My kids make fun of my Sunday routine. I laugh, too. I know it sounds funny! I watch them all work towards their goals and can’t really get where they get their guts and inspiration. For some, it comes from within. It’s a natural desire. Sometimes I think it’s to prove some people wrong. Meh, we probably all have a bit of this, yes? But externally? What inspires YOU?

I really want to hear this…since mine seems to be all over the board. I’m inspired by art, photography, success, skepticism…I want to be THE BEST. I take classes. I attend workshops. I want to learn something DAILY that adds to my bliss…which means, I surround myself with inspiration. I’m never the “smartest person in the room” so I can learn. Sometimes, I pride myself on this. Sometimes, I think I should give myself a break. Sometimes I do take a break…and then that uneasy feeling of desire creeps back in. I want to learn. I want to excel. I want to be THE BEST.

It’s odd. I don’t remember this desire from my youth…. so I wonder… Is it who I have decided to surround myself with now? Is it the fact that I’m finally old enough to really focus on myself? Is it that I’ve finally found my bliss and this desire goes hand in hand with that?

So I’m curious. How do YOU gain inspiration? I’m really interested… Let me know!RobinThompson_Crichton

Ahhhhh….the drama of the STUDIO….

The young ones all over the kitchen...

The young ones all over the kitchen…

So, I’ve explained that I’m on a journey here. I’m on a heck of a journey. The universe sort of burped, snuffled and laughed once I made my intentions clear. I decided to OWN this photography thing. I mean, OWN it. I would school and workshop and dive into every aspect of all of it and know everything I can know. I decided this about 7 years ago.

I went to school. I took digital and film and attended workshops. I got pregnant after my (then) youngest was 12. Shock. OK, I can still own this career and home school and have a baby. GO! Well, sadly, my sweet surprise baby was stillborn. Fortunately, we had a birth photographer there. (my first clue into how priceless a photo can be). Take a year off to grieve, recuperate, etc. Then, back to it. After that, my husband went into kidney failure. Hospitals, dialysis three days a week and now on a transplant list. ONE MONTH after his kidneys failed… we got two foster babies. They were 6 months and a year and a half. We had them for a year and BOY did I learn some time management through that year. Husband gone most of the time, keeping my grand-babies who were almost 2 and 4, the foster babies who were 6 mo and almost two (ended up with a 1 1/2 yr old, two 2 year olds and a 5 year old) so four kids 4 and under, and a home schooled 16 year old. WHEW. I’d get up at 4:30am to edit my shoots just so I could still cling to MY thing.

Now? Well, I’m down to three kids during the day. They’re getting older and easier. The teen drives and has his own car, husband is still waiting on a kidney..things are calming for me bit by bit. Now it’s time for a studio. I’ve gone through at least five different options. One I held on to for MONTHS while the landlord gave me the runaround. I was heart broken when it wasn’t happening as I’d envisioned it. I couldn’t figure why the universe wasn’t working WITH me.

Today? I met with a builder. No more land lords to-be, runaround, hoping, stressing over space, driving around looking…nope. I’m building. I hope. Today was the first day where I laid it out and said what I needed/wanted/hoped for. The builder is getting the quote together. I’m crossing my fingers and eyes and toes and everything else. I actually could have my own studio. I actually could have it SOON.

My own space to shoot the images for my CPP image submission… to do my newborn shoots… to never have to cancel due to weather because I don’t have a REAL studio. I can see so clearly the shoots, the clients coming in to view their images, the classes I’ll hold… I have big plans for this space. When I say big plans… I have a diverse set of plans. I want to make art. Do alternative processes. Do amazing shoots. Learn more about lighting than I can imagine. OMG. I’m going to have MY OWN STUDIO SPACE!!!!!!!! So please, blogville…everyone in blogville, start crossing things for luck. For lots of luck. I’ve done babies in every form and even fought sickness and kidneys alongside my husband…I’m still here. Kids are getting big. I feel positive that a kidney’s gonna come….and art is about to happen. IN. MY. STUDIO.

SQUEEEEEEEAL!!!!!

Why would I do that?

In my journey to own my studio, rock photography in general and achieve something great…I’ve discovered it’s the fun side roads that can make this journey more fun and more enjoyable and more diverse.

I’ve taken classes in digital photography, photoshop, lightroom, film photography, color theory, studio management, posing, lighting, portraiture, and now an entire class in alternative processes. Yep. I want to own a portrait studio and I am absolutely loving the idea of learning more processes. Will it help my portraits by learning these chemicals, by creating funky art and by spending weeks and weeks NOT shooting with a DSLR, but rather…a Holga? Why waste the time? Why not focus on only studio knowledge?

Well, I’ll tell you. YES. My personal belief is that it will make me a MUCH better portrait photographer. WHY? Because I live in a small town where I could throw a rock and probably hit 20 mom-tographers. Yep…the mom with a rebel that charges $20 for a CD of images. I swear, they’re born and bred here in my town. And ya know what? I started off as one also. (although I’ve said that and had people shocked that I’d claim that. They swear I never was…) No hating on them. I was that mom taking pictures of my kid on the baseball and football fields…taking “portraits” of friends’ kids for their senior photos, baby pictures. I thought I was AMAZING. I believed what people said. Then I decided to learn. First think that I learned was that I was NOT amazing. I couldn’t take the camera off “auto”. For real. I didn’t know how. So about a decade ago, armed with YEARS of “shooting” but not learning…I decided to own this gig.

I’ve done some alternative processes. I’ve shot with a Holga. I actually own several of them. I’ve done cyanotypes, vandykes, and gum prints…But to really focus in and make more art? To notice completely different aspects of prints and composition and light and shadow… to expand my mind in more creative ways? THIS. This is one of the things that will set me apart from the average person with a camera. THIS. I can play in chemicals and make art. I can shoot and edit and digitally enhance and develop film and do alternative processes and create art in all of these ways. I’m so excited about this. I cannot wait to get down and dirty in art. ha!

In 30 years I completely see myself as this little groovy woman…making art…maybe running naked in my personal forest somewhere and talking to the butterflies. Yep.