Becoming a FULL SERVICE studio….

I had a thought…..

I’ve been working with a past client on a project. Her daughter is turning 10, and she wants to make a slide show to play at her birthday party… of her professional photo shoots through the years. I was privileged to have photographed Mom’s maternity session, newborn, and several more birthdays until they moved cross-country and found another photographer to take over.

I have everything backed up since I started my business… so no worries there, but since it’s my busy season, I asked Mom if she could just send me her purchased digitals so I could upload them into my program for the slideshow. There was a pause. Mom then admits she doesn’t know where all the discs were (since moving cross country and all…… and that she never really DID anything with all these years worth of pictures!) Then it hit me… how many clients did I have that never really DID anything with their pictures? SHARING THEM ON FACEBOOK DOES NOT COUNT. Children love looking through albums. They love seeing photos of themselves hung on the walls. They love photo Christmas ornaments. They love comparing pictures of themselves as they grow. (We always go by teeth… no teeth, baby teeth, missing teeth, braces, big-kid teeth….) It’s SO EASY to put it off… ordering products with your images… plus, it’s intimidating! Have you ever designed a photo album with design software online? It takes HOURS. And the options are overwhelming. But guess what, this is what I do for a living. Let me help.

I have NO interest in IPS (in person sales) however, I would love to help you turn your digitals into PRODUCTS for your home. Canvases, albums, framed prints, folio boxes, slideshows etc….. I don’t even mind helping you design product with other photographers work. Although I can’t edit another artists work, if you have printing rights, I can still help you! Why spend hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars on beautiful images for them to sit in a drawer, or only have them on Facebook?

Mom… please. Let me help you get your shit together.

4 Responses to “Becoming a FULL SERVICE studio….”

  1. Golden Goose Mid Star Donna Milano Shop

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4 + = five

The SENIOR experience

At the very end of summer vacation, I woke up in the middle of the night with an amazing idea. (or ridiculous….. TBD). I have a Grow With Me package that highlights a baby’s FIRST year… so why not have a package that highlights your senior’s LAST year!? Yearbook photos, sports, key club, National Honor’s Society, Prom, Graduation… all the events to document your child’s last year of high school, before they set out on their own. At the end of the year, you have the option to purchase an album, or a folio box of your images. I’m excited about this…

Because I have 4 jobs already… I will only be able to photograph NO MORE than 5 seniors for this plan. So book early. Put this on your calendar, STAT. I look forward to getting to know your kid.

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eight − 5 =

Something my Mom didn’t even know….!

Facebook is great for like a million different things… I can share my pets with the world, I can tell ya’ll what I’m cooking for dinner, I can brag on my kids, I can share my potty humor memes… but the one thing that completely SUCKS is how they treat small business owners. I can assume, as with anything, it’s all about the dolla-bills. They want you to pay to boost your post, or pay for an ad, or some other total bullshit reason. You literally have to PAY Facebook for people to see your stuff. That being said, there are things YOU can do to help us out.

Of course you have the option to just scroll on by… and I won’t judge you for doing that. And LIKING my work is swell and all, but it doesn’t help it get seen in other people’s news feeds. See, Facebook has algorithms that are finicky af. My images will only show up in news feeds if engagement is good. Likes don’t count… and neither do emojis! WHAT A CRUEL JOKE that is! And I just learned that ‘good engagement’ is more than 5 words. WTF Facebook, this is asking a lot of my friends… but see, it’s worth it for you and I’ll tell you why. The more you comment, and share, the more it makes me WANT to post and share. When I post an image that I absolutely LOVE and it gets ZERO comments, it really doesn’t motivate me to post more. The dance photo posted above took a TON of editing (see before and after)… and special Noiseware as the lighting conditions were pretty non-ideal… and CRICKETS. It took me crying to my Mom to get a pity-comment from her. (Just kidding mom, you literally share EVERYTHING I post and I know you are my biggest fan… but no offence, you are NOT my ideal client. HHAHAHA Love you. Keep sharing.)

Another thing that helps is TAGGING people ON the picture. (Grandparents, aunts, uncles etc…..) this does NOT mean adding their name in the comments. That does NOTHING except tell that ONE person to come have a look. What you need to do is 1. click on the picture 2. click on the TAG icon 3. Start typing names. If you want to tag a business, you need to start with the @ first, then the business name. By doing this, it will show up in their news feed where all THEIR friends and family will see it. The more people that see our work/products the more successful we will be! And guess what… it doesn’t cost you ANYTHING except a few moments of your time.

Now we will play a little game. For every 5 comments on my Senior Company picture, I will post another picture. (This game could go oooooooooon as I took 687 photos last weekend.) The first 5 people to comment ‘five words’ on the Senior Company picture will also get a free magnet from a shoot that you had with me. (if I have not photographed you directly, you can gift the magnet to a friend, or save it for a future shoot). When you support your small business owning friends, everybody wins! Don’t ask them for discounts on shampoo, leggings, jewelry, personal training, supplements or photo shoots… instead, support your friends by paying full price, tipping them, sharing your experience and doing your part to help them continue to pay their bills and feed their kids. Do you think Walmart does a ‘Happy Dance’ when it sells a pair of leggings or a bottle of shampoo? They don’t. They don’t give a fuck about you like I do. I give all the fucks.

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− seven = 1

Education, fun toys and photo bombers.

I am an old dog, and I wanted to learn a new trick. I am a hands on learner, so when I heard about an OCF (off camera flash) workshop was coming to Boston, I jumped on it. It also fell on my daughter’s birthday weekend, so I brought her with me. (she has learned in one year what took me 26 years to accomplish!). We had an amazing time. Actually, funny story here…. I had about a million questions for Tim, the guy that runs the workshops, and also a FB friend (because he posts more controversial shit than me and my mom combined!) I’m sure I was annoying as hell… but after I got all my questions answered I knew Cadey and I were ON BOARD to attend. It was about 24 hours later that I realized I never actually SIGNED UP and PAID for the workshop. Only me… I will never get my shit together. Thankfully there were 2 seats left… and also thankful I didn’t crash the workshop, only to be called out that I never registered and paid. But crisis averted, we were legal attendees. This was Cadey’s first workshop, my forth.

All I wanted to learn was HSS OCF (high speed sync, off camera flash) because I am a chronic WIDE OPEN shooter. Like, I need a support group. I cannot take my aperture off f/2. Ever. I low-key hate my 70-200 because it’s a 2.8. (JUST KIDDING, I LOVE YOU 200mm!) Judge Judy would HATE my style, just sayin’. (P.S. Fuck you Judge Judy. It took my $3,100 camera and $2,100 lens to make my pictures to look this shitty, so deal with it). But if you shoot wide open, you need to get your shutter over the sync speed. Hence HIGH SPEED SYNC. My new best friend.

The Friday after the workshop Cadey and I had a prom photo shoot where we could test out our new things. I was instantly IN LOVE. Like, the pictures looked edited before they even left the camera. The skin was flawless… the light was perfection. In post, all I had to do was edit acne and bump the contrast a smidge. That’s it. DONE. Without OCF it would take me much longer to get the skin to look even, plus fight with the sun, clouds, shadows etc… this was SO SIMPLE. Why did I wait so long to learn!?

Yesterday was my second shoot with my new flash. A dancer, Lilly, celebrating her 15th year with The Dance Studio. (The owner gifts each girl at her 15th consecutive year dancing with a shoot from me! WONDERFUL for both of us!) Same experience. My images looked edited straight out of the camera. We had SO MUCH fun because her Dad brought his Golden Retriever with him and he wanted to be a part of the shoot. Anyone that knows me knows that I simply CANNOT say no to dogs. So we made it happen. I am 100% certain this picture will be on display SOMEWHERE so that Lilly will be able to show her own little dancers someday. This was not a picture that will sit in a drawer.

That being said…. the workshop, lodging, food and my new toys were almost $2,500… so when you ask us if we can lower our price it hurts our hearts incredibly. Our prices reflect our TALENT, TIME and TOYS… and not your budget or inability to see our worth.

2 Responses to “Education, fun toys and photo bombers.”

  1. Annie Gill-Cooney

    Please show us the pic with Lilly and the Goldie?

  2. Annie Gill-Cooney

    Please show us the pic with Lilly and the Goldie?

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× 6 = six

School/Sports/Dance… awful pictures make the best memories.

I photographed my daughter’s dance school this past weekend (ages 1-7 this weekend, big kids in June) and I got dozens of compliments. So why am I focusing on the one NOT nice thing someone said and letting it bother me so much? It got me thinking….

In the 70’s and 80’s I was barely photographed as a child. Why? NO ONE HAD CAMERAS! So the few pictures we had were CHERISHED. They still are. I have ONE picture of me in my Mommy’s belly… and when it’s gone, it’s gone. No digital, no negative. Yet just last week I took like 37 pictures of my Golden Retriever cuddling his kitty to get just the right angle for Instagram. My how times have changed.

When my daughter was little, she would make the most ridiculous face for her school photos. She’s a cute kid, I promise you, but you would NEVER know that by her school photo. It got so bad I stopped purchasing anything except the class photo. But now, a decade later, we look at those pictures and laugh and laugh… because that’s just WHO SHE WAS for that moment in time. She thought she was giving the photographer her BEST smile, and that’s hysterical.

As a team and volume photographer I don’t have time to take 37 pictures of your child to get THE best expression. That’s not how it works. I do, however, give 110% in the 30 seconds I have to get the best that I can to create a memory for you. So instead of being unhappy with your photo, or worse, your child, let’s start a new tradition…. when you sit your dancer in your lap and look at your dance pictures of years past say this… “oh, sweetie, this was the year you would NOT smile….”… or “this was the year you had the giggles and wouldn’t stand still….” or “look at your first leaping picture and how much you’ve improved over the years!” Pictures don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful…

And I will leave you with this… DISPLAY THESE PHOTOS! In an album, in a memory box, on your walls… let these precious photos remind you and your child how far they’ve come as a dancer…. Your child doesn’t see photos on Facebook, they see photos displayed in their home.

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6 × nine =

What the eff is the Curly Girl Method?

Honestly, I am still figuring this out! But after watching about a million tutorials on YouTube, I think I am getting the hang of my unruly hair!

For the last 46 years I always thought my hair was coarse, frizzy and had a mind of it’s own. Which is why you see me in a pony-tail 99% of the time. And when NOT in a pony-tail, it would take me forever to blow dry it, which made it even MORE frizzy and out of control, which would then give me no choice but to flat iron it. It took forever, it was a pain in the ass, and it still looked like shit. hence, pony-tail.

Until my friend Jenn shoved The Curly Girl method down my throat. She doesn’t shut up about it so I thought I would give it a try. Let me tell you… holy. shit.

So as it turns out, I have wavy hair… which now, looking back, makes way more sense. So instead of an endless cycle of expensive hair products trying to TAME my hot mess… I use LESS products that work with my hair, not against it. No heat… and no naughty chemicals.

I have to say at first I was overwhelmed, to say the least. The list of what NOT to use is a mile long… and finding the right stuff in Orange is a chore. I am far too lazy to be reading labels. I ordered some of the supplies I needed online, found some at Walmart, and one thing at Sally’s. I think it will take some trial and error to figure out what my hair actually likes, and like anything there is a transition period of your hair freaking out as it figures out it’s new ‘normal’… but I am loving the results! Now I just need a curly-girl haircut…

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8 + three =

Going out of business……?

That’s what I heard the other day from someone on the street when Castle Rock was boarding up my building, getting ready for production next week. They made my studio look abandoned from the outside, but little did they know it helps me out by keeping my shooting area dark on the inside. SCORE!

This time of year I don’t shoot that often in my studio. Probably 95% of my shoots are done on location… but clients be warned, we might have to shoot around Castle Rock’s schedule for the next month! There might be a little more traffic than usual… but WHO CARES!? Our town is on tv…. so leave 5 minutes earlier than usual and enjoy our 15 minutes of fame…

p.s. Did any of ya’ll fill out the form to be an extra? I did… Here is the link:

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− two = 1

It’s Official! Castle Rock is in da house!

I just got off the phone with Castle Rock… they are heading to my studio to set up shop. This will be the second season that they are using my studio as a greenroom… it’s right on Main Street, has a bathroom, a kitchen, and comfy seating. So, you know what that means… Pennywise’s butt has been on my sofa. (I also still have his sunglasses, but that’s a story for another time).

When they were here for season one, my studio was the Castle Rock Bookstore. It looked pretty bad-ass, considering you could BARELY make it out while watching the actual show. But guess what? I got to keep the awning. Thankssssss Castle R ock!

I was actually an extra for season one. I was a dog-walker. I had to convince FIVE dogs, that have never met, to act like they had their shit together. I knew the dogs, they just didn’t know each other. I had my Cosmo Kramer, who would NOT leave my side for the next 14 hours. Then I had my friend’s husky that was shockingly well behaved.. then Dozer the bulldog that could give 2 shits about his potential claim to fame, then a MinPin that wanted to meet the entire cast and lastly, my neighbor’s Aussie, that acted like none of the Castle Rock rules applied to her. It was a beautiful day in August… probably in the high 80’s… and the scene was supposedly happening in the Fall. I was in jeans, boots, a wool sweater and a down vest… managing 5 dogs. Can you say SWAMPASS. The gig was supposed to be 2 hours tops… but because of all the local morons that kept interrupting, we were there 14 hours! Did any of you see me walking 5 dogs down the streets of Castle Rock? Of course you didn’t. The scene was cut from the episode. I’m not bitter, but Cosmo is. At least Rose from ‘2 1/2 Men’ said my dog was cute… that made Cos feel famous af.

I’m excited to find out what my studio will be this time around… maybe they will give it a fresh coat of paint and fix the siding? Then again, they picked Orange, MA because it’s a dump. A girl can wish…..

Stay tuned!

2 Responses to “It’s Official! Castle Rock is in da house!”

  1. Castle Rock Official Online

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking
    about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative
    to read?

    • admin

      What video? What are you even talking about?

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× 7 = fifty six

Easter/Spring Sessions for 2019

It’s SPRING! My third favorite season is finally upon us! I was very excited this year to have four families join us as ‘returning clients’ from our Holiday Magic Sessions last December! (Actually, most of these kids I knew when they were in their mama’s bellies!) One of my favorite things of all time is the “loyal client”… watching kids grow and change is quite amazing! The babies I have photographed in the beginning are now legal adults. Okay, okay, I’m getting off track and it’s making me cry ugly tears.. real ugly.

I think the second blessing of the weekend was NO RAIN. And on River Rat weekend? Is this unheard of? Like, in the HISTORY of River Rat Weekends, how many were there with no rain? We need to Google this… because boy did we get lucky! Friday evening into Saturday morning it POURED… then the rain stopped and it was 70 degrees. Just like that. It was gorgeous all weekend.

Our first client was a 6 year old GQ model. He was charming and funny and did everything we told him to do. A photographer’s DREAM. We may have gone a little overboard with him… we couldn’t help it. Our second client was my ‘Grow with Me’ from last year, so I got to photograph this little fart not only in his mama’s belly, but also when he was 3 months, 6, 9 and 12 months old! He has a love/hate relationship with me. This time he would ONLY smile when a car drove by. And we were in the middle of nowhere. So that was fun. The third client of the weekend were two little blond sisters that love each other AND their photographer! They are silly and giggly and squirmy, but they take direction really well, even if that means I am slowly burning 2,000 calories in the process. Their pictures are ALWAYS on point. Last, but not least, were old friends from my kids’ preschool. Only they aren’t in preschool anymore… I watched the oldest drive away from the shoot herself and I almost started crying. She was JUST three…. where does the time gooooooooooooooo?

Now that this blog is done, I can go make these guys their galleries… I’m sure they are just as excited to see them as I am to make them.

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9 − three =

My Journey

What am I doing with my life? I have no idea. Where are my pants.

HA! That was my test sentence when a dear friend took the time to help me figure out this whole BLOG thing. I’m a disaster when it comes to this kinda stuff…

I am entering into my 26th year in the photography business. I can barely wrap my brain around this number. I don’t feel old enough.

I look back on the last 16 years specifically… and I don’t know how I managed. Single Mom, 2 babies under 2, day job, side hustle, and wanting to spend as much time with my kids as humanly possible. I would only take photo shoots during nap time or after bed time, and I would only edit when my kids were sleeping. I never got enough sleep, but I LOVED what I was doing, which kept me going. When my kids were a little older I was able to take shoots when my parents would watch them for a few hours. Standing in my field, helping them find grasshoppers. Before I knew it they were both in school full time. I missed having babies, but this was a blessing for my business! Somewhere along the line I blinked and now both my babies are in high school and my son will be driving alone in 2 weeks. I no longer have to pull all-nighters editing. Now I edit when my son is at sports practice and my daughter is at dance class. This allows me to be available to them when they are home. Cooking meals together, watching Criminal Minds together, laughing together. In 4 years I’ll be able to edit whenever I want because I will no longer have babies living at home.

The advice that I give new photographers just starting out: charge enough to make this business worth it for you. My time away from my children is so precious. What is it worth for you to be away from them. How much are you taking home after taxes, equipment (my camera was $3,099 and my favorite lens was $2,000 alone!) your Photoshop subscription, your web page, insurance… are you paying yourself for the hours you spend editing? What is left for you when all this is paid for? Trust me, if you are losing money you will burn out fast. And if you are profiting, your passion will continue to grow. And most important, take care of yourself.

I don’t know if I could have sustained this whole ‘self-employed’ journey of mine without the help of my parents. Whether it be ass-up in the field looking for bugs, or sitting on the sofa with me letting me cry-out my daily frustrations… they are the people that make this all worth while.

My people.

4 Responses to “My Journey”

  1. Molly Baxter

    Perfectly said Kirsten! I could not have done it without my parents either and I miss them so! I too, worked around my son’s schedule, I often did not charge enough, and looking back, I wish I had! You are a fantastic photographer, you have such a gift for using the light…. keep on clicking! Your awesome!

    • admin

      Thank you SO MUCH for your friendship over the years, as a fellow Tog. Community over competition is the best! <3<3

  2. Janice Kuebler

    What a inspirational story!
    How wonderful that you and your wonderful parents are so special to each other.
    That relationship makes for wonderful Mom’s and dads.
    How lucky your teenage children are to have a sweet Mom like you.
    You definitely are passing it forward to your children.
    Quality time is a gift.

    • admin

      Thank you! We come from a long time of amazing people. Quite blessed at how amazing my children are… smart, funny, kind… <3<3

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