Happiness is!

Such a funny thing. When I started my photo journey, my son was in elementary school and I was shooting his sports. It grew into team photos, prom photos, etc and I was happy. The more I learned, the more diverse my world of photography grew. What my world was at the time was babies and kids. I have several kids (3 living, one has passed away)…I have three grandkids…I’ve had foster kids (and still think of them every single day) and almost ALL of my friends have kids. I even home schooled my kids. My world? WAS. KIDS.

I opened the studio knowing I’d be shooting newborns and babies and kids. This? I do. I’ve done so many littles and I still love seeing their families post on social media and I get to see those squishy newborns blossom into little people. I love it. (Not that they AREN’T people…not what I meant….don’t get all semanticsy with me now)…

However; now? I love shooting WOMEN. I really do. I love talking people through their shoots. I love seeing them feel BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely am beyond in love with showing a gorgeous woman who WE see when we look at her. It’s become my absolute love.

When I sit back and look at my business, it’s hilarious to me (in a good way) how a folio box that will contain memories of a gorgeous woman is as exciting to me now as a newborn prop was then.

Growing. I guess we all do it, huh?

So watch this. It’s a video that actually shows more what I do now, the hair, the makeup, the glamour…and includes the kids…and previews the babies. GAH. I love my job.

 

Watch a Behind the Scenes Video!

No more POPSICLE-ING!

WHAT? Yep. Popsicle-ing, which really should be popsicling. What’s that? Well, after “yay you rule” week and dumping straight into the “we hate you because you rule” week…

I froze. I didn’t even realize it. I jumped into sales and marketing videos, I read sales and marketing and lighting and photography and self help books…I decided to completely reinvent myself since my normal me wasn’t really working.

Yeah.

My normal me was fine. I need to maybe not feed into the weirdness and strange energy of everyone around me. I over educated myself (which is okay…I’m all about education) but I was doing it so subconsciously avoid either failing or succeeding. I realized I’ve actually been doing this for a while. If I don’t “fail” then I’m good, and if I don’t REALLY succeed, I’m still good! Nobody can be mad or jealous…

I was a popsicle.  You know the kind. Just sugar and water frozen with maybe some coloring? They’re good. They’re not offensive to anyone. They’re just frozen nothing. They’ll never be dippin’ dots, because they’re just gonna stay sugar water, nothing revolutionary there! They aren’t going to be yogurt or have fresh fruit or be something actually HEALTHY and good…. But by the same token, they aren’t “DIET” popsicles which will CLAIM to have no sugar, yet hide the fact that means it’s all chemicals and water, which is deceitful and bad. I wasn’t that. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing amazing. Nothing bad. Just non offensive frozen sugar water.

I. Will. Be. Damned.

What I did wake up to this week is that I’ve been doing that for a while. My CPP? I passed the exam but let the time expire on image submission. So I sort of did it, but didn’t achieve it so I’m above nobody. When something bad or great happens? I really don’t speak of it. I stay in the neutral zone. My week of immense reboot….taught me that I don’t need to change myself, I need to GET BACK TO MYSELF! Popsicles suck. They’re great until you need something real. I’m pretty sure in the bible it even says, “man cannot live on sugar water alone.” Or maybe not. I don’t know. Maybe in the Koran? The Dhammapada? Surely somewhere. Because it’s true.

So today. This day. This monday. I woke up at 6:30. I didn’t read and sink into videos and books like I’ve been doing. I went to the YMCA to join it. yep. I need to get out. Get moving. Get the blood flowing and the energy back UP! I did it. This sounds teeny, but I live in a little town. The YMCA is over half an hour from me….but, I did it. Their system was down, which means I brought the paperwork home, and it’s all good to go back tomorrow. I was planning on that anyhow. There will be yoga or pilates or zumba or something fun, so I’ll be there anyhow.

I created some gift vouchers. I will be taking these to the Chamber to have them included in each “new resident” package for our town. My studio isn’t even IN the same town as the chamber and I don’t even CARE! haha! It’s one town away, so I’m READY TO SHOOT!!!!! Marketing!!!!! I’m DOING IT!!!!! I also signed up for a luncheon. I am typically “too shy” to do these things. PFFFFFFFT. Shy be DAMNED. Shy was my friend that kept me from outshining anyone. She’s great, she’s loyal, but I need more friends now other than Shy.

I’ve edited. I’ve also input pricing into some new software that I’ve literally had since last year. Do you see how much I’ve put off in the name of popsicling? I’ve not marketed, I’ve not CREATED my own path. I’ve sat drinking beers with Shy (she’s a popsicle, too) while people told me I was amazing….or that I kinda sucked because I was amazing. The universe kept on sending people to me. Maybe to remind me of what I could do?

SO TODAY. It’s a new time. I know all the numbers I need. I know the editing I need. I know what I need to do to learn and create and yes, be AMAZING. I’m gonna be Dippin’ Dot, helado, fresh fruit, probiotic, vegan, badass, gluten free, whole meal in a damned popsicle kind of popsicle.

I AM GOING TO BE SPECTACULAR. No more freaking sugar water. I’m coming for the whole freaking produce section and we’re gonna revolutionize that damned snack.

And, no. I don’t have a photo of a popsicle. I googled. They were all dirty, and not in the “dropped in the mud” kind of dirty…ya know? So, this blog, is popsicle-less, maybe in homage to no more popsicling! So….here’s a groovy cantaloupe instead…DIG IT!RobinThompson_Crichton

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!

 

 

You are beautiful.

It’s been interesting for me here recently. I normally shoot kids and babies, families and high school kids..but I’ve had a run of just women, recently. Women. Ladies. Females are interesting. I’m sure I’ve been bringing this female energy to me. I’ve been learning everything I can from Sue Bryce, who I admire greatly. She’s a photographer that mostly shoots, well, women. I’ve been studying posing and lighting and all that stuff we keep trying to perfect as photographers…

But. It’s interesting. I’ll book a session for a gorgeous lady…and immediately, I hear, “I don’t photograph well. I’ve never taken a good photo.” Interestingly enough, I’ll ask them, “What is it that you don’t like?” A woman can pinpoint it every time. My nose. My chin. My neck. My arms. My smile. My eyes. Whatever it is, they KNOW it. Now, me? Looking at them? I’m always baffled. Whatever the insecurity is, actually, usually isn’t there! I find that I do the exact same thing to myself. WHY DO WE DO THIS!? I don’t know. I do know, that watching them, I’ve become more compassionate with myself. Hey, I’m 46! Of course my face doesn’t look 22 anymore! I’m not a big girl at all. I’m 5’4…I weigh 125 pounds. I hear a lot “ohhh…if I was skinny like you…” and it’s funny to me because TO ME, well, I’m built like a 12 year old Sponge Bob Square Pants. I don’t have gorgeous curves and a rockin’ booty. So, I look at them. I blink. I got nothin’. Funny. We want what we don’t have…what we used to have…what someone else has. This is insanity! Confidence. That’s beautiful. I found a video that says it perfectly. Embrace yourself. Love yourself. You can’t have everything you want…and there’s someone on the other side wanting what YOU have. Embrace it. Love yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Get those photos taken. FEEEEEEL beautiful. I’ve loved the past couple of weeks. Shooting these women, finding their little targets of insecurity, showing them their photos, and watching them light up. Why do they light up? Because they finally SEE…they’re beautiful. Exist in photos. Really… and smile… Because, well, YOU…YOU are BEAUTIFUL!

It’s my birthday!!!

And…it’s how I begin my new year. I know, I know…everyone else does it on January 1. I don’t. I go by my own years. My own timeline. My own little way.

This year, it worked out really well. An incredibly “trying” January loomed over my family. One full of challenges, stress, unknown…you name it, it was there. Funny how the universe works, it seemed to all pack into one week in the month. Six days. So from the middle of December, there was worry and stress over things we couldn’t control. Things that were simply gonna “happen.” We made it through. Some things didn’t end up happening at all. Some were postponed. Some, well, we were victorious over them, so the worry wasn’t even worth it. Isn’t that how it usually is?

What did I learn…that is the important thing here. You can’t control everything. You simply cannot. That, I learned. I also learned, well, the worry and over-thinking doesn’t help it. Action helps. Somethings, you just have to meditate through. Stay centered, even when it’s hard to find your center. I learned that worrying over things you cannot control takes time and action away from the things you CAN control. I made that mistake. I invested my energy into worrying, thinking, stressing…and the uncontrollable things, they worked out. None of my stress helped it.

Had I centered, breathed, and trusted…it would have been the same. Had I simply put that energy into the POSITIVE things, I’d be ahead.

My new year? I’m breathing through the things I cannot control. We still have a transplant looming over us. This? This is positive. It will bring health to my husband. THAT is beautiful. I can’t control any part of it. He can’t control any part of it. What we CAN control? Attitude. Positivity. So we shall. My studio? My business? I can control learning, getting better, focusing, marketing, educating. That’s me. So my new year is my year of YES, as Shonda Rhimes has said (and quite eloquently written about). I will say yes to the ACTION. Yes to the moving forward. Yes to the attitude and positivity. This is my year. I actually FEEL it. I know there will be hurdles. I will breathe through them and act on what I can act on. YES.

THIS. This is my year of YES. (Thank you, Shonda…) And it spirals up from here…

As a little reminder of “it’s all how you look at it…” is this photo. This is me in Bangkok. We were at a Temple where you got a little bird in a little cage. You released your little bird who flew around the GIANT Buddha…and he brought you good luck. My bird? Wouldn’t leave me. I’d release him, he’d come back to me. He stayed with me as I walked around. He stayed with me through a tuk-tuk ride to another Temple. He stayed with me throughout. The ladies at the Temple were completely STRESSED. They wanted to take my bird and give me another to release so I’d have good luck. I saw my little friend as the BEST luck! It’s how you view it… And on that note… I will go ACT…on my wonderful new year! Peace, love and positive vibes to you all…Thailandbird

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!