Loving Two “Babies” Equally?

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Here we are almost at another summer holidays already and another year zooming by! There’s been lots going on here even though you may have noticed fewer posts from me on Facebook of late. Read on and I will explain all!

As many of you know already, I now split my time wearing the two hats, so to speak. Romsey Fotografix being one, and my Zazzle Store – Fotografixgal Designs, t’other.

Now please don’t get me wrong. Just because I have found a new love in my Zazzle store, doesn’t mean I’m no longer “in love” with my photography and Romsey Fotografix. Nah, not at all, that’s still my baby. As we all know, when the second “baby” comes along, you love it just as much don’t you, if you’ll forgive the analogy!  I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to love two babies equally.

Of course, finding time to devote to each and give them both my all has meant a little compromising – but not at the expense of letting go of good customer service I hasten to add. So yes, I have cut back on my photoshoots, which means that I can still devote the time necessary for each photo session and the subsequent edit and correspondence, and thus maintain the standard of customer service you are used to from me and, of course, deserve.

My time is split about 50/50, with a little leeway naturally where needs be. Hence, I only do studio photoshoots now on Sunday mornings and outdoor location shoots on Saturday mornings. I edit the images from these as soon as possible afterwards so I can get your galleries out quickly without keeping anyone waiting.

Once I know everyone has their pictures to look at, I devote the rest of the week to designing for my Zazzle store. This really has become such a passion for me, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy it! Haha my friends and family know exactly how much as I do go on about it a lot!!!

(Goes without saying that I deal with enquiries and orders for Romsey Fotografix regardless of when I get them!)

A little about Zazzle if you’ve not heard of them before. They’re a huge print on demand website and they do all manner of goodies – as you can see from their website. And here’s their story. As a designer, artist or photographer, or indeed anyone who wishes to, you easily set up a Zazzle store, or several stores if you want to. I just have the one store for now Fotografixgal Designs, as that keeps me plenty busy enough!  I also set up a separate website especially for it to help showcase the items in my store.  

There’s quite a complex strategy involved in running a Zazzle store, it’s not just a question of designing and plonking it onto any old products if you want to progress and do well on there. When I first started on there about a year ago, I had no idea at all about best practices for it and it was frustrating not to be making many sales at the time. I took the step of investing in some fantastic training from Elke Clarke one of Zazzle’s top sellers. She was running an offer at the time and I can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent and am so pleased I decided to go for it. I would never have discovered it all on my own. It’s been onwards and upwards since putting into practice everything I learnt (and am still learning). And the training from Elke doesn’t just stop when you finish the course, so you’re not left high and dry. She has a private Facebook group and does regular live sessions so we can ask her anything we need to know. She also assesses our stores if we ask her to and tells us how we can improve and what we’re doing right and wrong which has been invaluable.

A year in, and I’m delighted to say my sales are really starting to take off which has been very encouraging. Ironically, my most popular items are wedding stationery, photo gifts and photo blocks – so the “sisters” Romsey Fotografix and Fotografixgal Designs do cross paths in some ways!  Oh and not forgetting inspirational/motivational quote products, I have loads in store, which I decided to do not only because I love this sort of thing myself, but I reckoned they would be popular as you see them in shops all over the place nowadays don’t you. And indeed they have become bestsellers for me – I’m always racking my brains so I can add new ones.

OK, heading back to the subject of Facebook posting. As I do fewer shoots now, I have less photos from current sessions to post on Facebook and am therefore not posting every day or two, as I did at one time. And I don’t want to bombard you with too many Fotografixgal Design related posts as I guess you didn’t follow me on Facebook to see those 😉!!  Maybe just the odd one or two if you don’t mind lol. In the main though I use my Instagram and Pinterest accounts to promote my Zazzle store. To be honest, Social Media takes such a lot of time to get it right. There’s quite a strategy involved if you want to keep your loyal following entertained. And unless you pay for your posts to be promoted, they invariably only get shown to a small handful of your followers so it can be very soul destroying taking into consideration the amount of time and effort put into creating them. I’m not knocking it, because it’s obviously very useful and brilliant for connecting with your audience. As long as you stay in control of it and not let it take over at the expense of other things.

So please forgive me if I don’t post as often. However, I’m always very grateful when you give me permission to post pictures from your session as this allows me to showcase my work for others to see and also give you a little sneak peek and to share with your FB friends.

Another decision I have not taken lightly is to introduce a small booking fee for my studio photoshoots from August 2019. This won’t apply to outdoor shoots. I’ll only be taking one or two studio shoots a week on a Sunday and will request and pay for the studio as and when someone contacts me to book. This session fee is to safeguard me against late cancellations and no shows and cover my costs. I know I have never charged a session fee before as I didn’t feel it necessary when I had my own studio and was doing loads of shoots in a week, therefore I wasn’t out of pocket in the event of no shows. However, now if someone doesn’t show up on the day, which does happen sometimes, I won’t be able to fill that slot at that short notice and may even have turned other clients away for it, it’s just to ensure I’m not out of pocket. The good news is I’ll refund you the booking fee when your order comes to £150 or more.

You may also have seen that we have now photographed our last wedding as the official photographers.  I was going to tell you all about that in this post however as it’s already quite lengthy (haha sorry that’s not like me at all 😉 ), I’ll do a separate post shortly about the reasons behind our Wedding Swansong.

I truly hope you understand my decision to veer in a slightly new direction wearing my two different, yet complementary, hats. I am a firm believer in doing what you love most in life, after all you only get one shot at it (excuse the photography related pun!!) Grab those opportunities as they arise!

You gotta be content and fulfilled in your work. I have found my very Happy Place.

As ever, thank you so much for your support. It means the world to both Lee and I and we look forward to taking your next set of pictures!

The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day 

anonymous quote (but oh so true!)

It’s Christmas!

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Christmas is just around the corner and 2019 is on its way!

Haha, just stating the obvious!

I hope 2018 has been a good year for you.  In some ways, it seems to have rushed by. To me, it feels like five minutes since last Christmas – but on the other hand, it seems like forever ago since I had the old studio at Basepoint – even though I only finished there at the end of March.  The mystery of time, eh?

The move was a massive decision for us at the time, but happily it’s worked out really well. Hive Studios feels like my second Sunday home now! To find such a great studio, so close by, was incredible luck.

It has also given me the flexibility of concentrating on my artistic pursuits, as well as my photography.  I enjoy both immensely; now I can split my time equally on each. Best of both worlds.

It has been really lovely to see so many familiar faces this year and welcome you to Hive Studios, as well as meeting lots of new faces of course!  Not forgetting the numerous shoots in the great outdoors during the summer months too! Great fun, and we were mostly lucky with the weather! I am so appreciative of your continued support. It means such a lot to me, thank you.

Lee and I have also photographed some beautiful weddings this year, come rain and come shine!

christmas keeping place

With my artist hat on, earlier in the year I started some courses spanning the whole year, which I mentioned in a previous post. I have managed to work my way through most of the lessons, and golly have learned so much! Not only to improve my drawing and design skills, but also learning lots of new tricks and techniques in Photoshop, which have helped speed up my editing processes for my photos too. It has been very inspiring.

The most amazing outcome of the art courses though was to set up stores on a couple of Print on Demand websites.  Firstly Red Bubble, and then, WOW, I discovered Zazzle.

I promise I won’t gush too much about Zazzle but I can honestly say it has transformed my life!  Best. Fun. Ever. I invested in a course from one of Zazzle’s topsellers, Elke Clarke, and through her I have learned the very best strategies for making it work. And I am over the moon that it is paying off 🙂 My store is still growing but after only a few months sales are already going well and I know with the techniques I have learned, and am still learning, it will get better and better as I add more goodies to it.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason. This time last year I had no inkling I would be leaving Basepoint (I would have shuddered at the thought!!) but fate stepped in with other ideas for me and I am actually very grateful it did.

I’m closing for the holiday this weekend. We have a wedding to photograph on Sunday; Christmas weddings are always especially magical! Then we have our eldest son’s birthday to celebrate on Christmas Eve, and a big family get together on Christmas Day, followed by a trip to Brighton on Boxing Day. Then a little R&R before reopening in January.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Al Fresco Anyone?

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There’s just something very special about spending time in the great outdoors on a glorious sunny day, whether it be a BBQ in the garden, a picnic in the park … or a photoshoot in a beautiful location.

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Having photos taken outside in the open is a sure fire way for everyone to feel chilled and relaxed – which of course makes for some great spontaneous images!

Speaking of which … I thought you might like to see some highlights from our visit on Sunday to  The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

family

Such a beautiful setting, and with a lovely family 😊 who I’ve known for several years now, having done numerous photoshoots in the studio with them since their children were babies. The girls were brilliant as usual, star models in fact, and even coming up with several ideas of their own for some of the shots – and good ones at that!

More play

Alfresco shoots may be at the mercy of the good ol’ British weather, but really are rather magical, especially when the sun shines! Lil’uns can more or less do their own thing and the natural shots come thick and fast!

At play

Great fun!

After all that walking around the arboretum – haha I understand we did around 7,000 steps (!!) – and ’twas a scorcher of a day, we all had a very welcome ice-cream in the café.

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What a great time we had ambling around in the sunshine.

It doesn’t feel a bit like work you know! 😉

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Here comes Summer!

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Isn’t it great occasionally to do something a little different from the norm?

This bank holiday weekend I set up a stylized shoot in the new studio. My main reasons for this being, a) to take some photos for my digital art projects using techniques I’ve been learning on the fabulous Photoshop Artistry and Awake courses ; and b) to create some studio images for my Shutterstock photo gallery (It’s still very much a work in progress with a very limited number of images at the moment. I’m working on it, but it’s a more involved process than I imagined.)

Anyway … back to Sunday’s shoot. My lovely model for the morning brought along loads of her own shoes, hats and bags, not to mention a fantastic mask, which is quite unique as she had very cleverly glued the feathers on herself. Perfect! As soon as I saw it inspiration sprang to mind in leaps and bounds!

Photo becomes art

We also incorporated several of the props already in the studio, the bright orange deck chairs featured rather a lot – love, love, love ‘em!!! That bright orange really pops against the white backdrop!

Deck chairs

Summer and sunshine was of course the theme for the session what with the deckchairs, sun hats and shades! I was able to create a super variety of images.

I got Lee in on the act to pose for a couple of shots! And, dare I say it, even yours truly – even though I’m much more at home t’other side of camera!!! Suitably disguised of course – and yes, I really did wear these stilettos! Not to walk in mind, I know my limitations!! 😉

We joined in too

And sticking with the beach theme …

Seaside to studio

Shoes anyone?  (Still working on the edit on most of the shoe pics!!)

Stepping out

I’m really pleased there’s a guitar in amongst the studio props! I’m sure this will prove popular with any “budding musicians” you may have in the family when you come in. Instruments always lend themselves nicely to some arty shots.  I’ve given these ones an impressionist feel!

Guitar

This session has really inspired me, as well as given me lots of images to play with. I am already planning the next creative shoots  based on other themes. The more you do, the more ideas seem to come flooding in!

Some you may think, “hey that’s pretty cool”, and others a resounding “blah!!”

Isn’t that just the thing with art and creativity: some things you put together work, and some things just don’t. In your own eyes at least. Whilst of course it’s an amazing feeling when the outcome of your creation makes you happy, it really doesn’t matter when it doesn’t. Experimenting and throwing caution to the wind is all part and parcel of the creative process. You don’t know until you try, and if it turns out to be a disaster chances are you will still have learned a lot, even if it’s what not to do next time. In your own opinion of course. You may find another person would absolutely love it!

That’s the funny thing about art.

I found one of the recent art projects for the Lifebook 2018 Art course I’m doing especially challenging and wasn’t at all happy with the end result. I uploaded to the private Facebook Group in any case as it’s always good to get constructive critique, but was astounded by the positive feedback – it gained more likes and loves and wows than any of the other artwork I had previously uploaded. Well I never – to think I nearly relegated it to the camera roll never to see the light of day!!

Just goes to show, eh? Which is why just doing your thing without worrying about what anyone will think is the way to go. Such freedom is quite exhilarating, and once that penny drops, and the pressure is off, ideas flow much better.

Here’s all the shots from Sunday’s photoshoot in a teeny collage! There are some duplications of course but still lots – you can see why they are taking me a while to edit!! You may need a magnifying glass to see them though!!

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“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

Oh so true!

 

When White is not All White

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White backdrops are great and still as popular as ever and why wouldn’t they be!

I like to do a very thorough edit on the white background in any images you buy. In case you ever wondered why the final edit can be somewhat fiddly and take longer than you might expect, here’s the answer in this short little video ….

Of course, some images are much quicker than others to process, the fluffy fur in this one make it one of the more fiddly to do. And as with most things you do in Photoshop there are several other ways to remove the marks, which I sometimes opt for, rather than always the eraser tool. No doubt other folk have their own ways of doing things too.

However, it’s well worth doing to give you the best possible quality for your images and ensure that the background will always be pure white.

And, fortunately, I find the process rather therapeutic … 🙂

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Celebrating a New Beginning

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“And suddenly you just know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” -Meister Eckhart

Yep, you could say it was quite a spontaneous decision to move out of my studio at Basepoint! At Christmas I had absolutely no inkling that by Easter my lovely studio space – my second home for the last 12 years – would be back to its bare shell, workshop roots.

The way we were

Sometimes things happen quite out of the blue to take you on a different path you hadn’t even considered until that point, don’t they? In my case, I knew it would happen one day of course. In quiet moments whilst sitting in the studio waiting for shoots I would often glance around at my set up and imagine when that day would come and what it would feel like.

Now I know. It just happened to be sooner than I expected!

I guess the clincher was an increase in costs this year which made us look at everything closely and decide whether to stay and increase my prices, which I really didn’t want to do, or find an alternative.

The solution, we discovered quite quickly, thanks to a brief Google search. Hive Studios. It immediately looked like the perfect answer.

After further research and a visit, we found Hive Studios to be very well-equipped. There’s also a changing area/makeup room and also a welcoming reception area. What had been a distinct possibility, soon became a no-brainer.

Hive Studios – looks great eh?

I can hire studio space there as and when I need it, as well as block book certain days. This arrangement suits me very well. As many of you I’m sure know, the vast majority of a photographer’s work is done at a desk, editing photos and processing orders – taking photos is but a small part of the overall process. In my case my desk is at home, which means my studio was empty a lot of the time. So paying for a studio premises on a full time basis, whilst a nice luxury, doesn’t actually make great financial sense.

I decided to take a block booking out at Hive Studios for Sunday mornings, which is my most popular day, and other days I can request as and when necessary. Hive Studios have kindly allowed me to take lots of my trusty props with me and keep at their studio, which was a real bonus! Some things you just can’t do without!!

I will be doing lots more outdoor lifestyle shoots too which I really enjoy!

With anything new comes changes of course and this link will tell you more the types of shoots I will be doing in the studio and outdoors, and also changes I have made to the booking system.

It’s been quite a full on couple of weeks sorting it all out! Last weekend, we hired a large van to empty the studio of all the furniture and props we were taking with us. The snow was a little inconvenient!! However, we got lots done.  We took a load of stuff to Hive Studios, and all the remaining furniture we offered to other business owners at Basepoint and to friends on Facebook, and luckily it was all snapped up very quickly.

This weekend we hired some Abbey Grab Bags so I could throw in the backdrop and floor panels as Lee dismantled them. It all came to bits more easily and quicker than we anticipated. Thank goodness.

Didn’t he do well?

It looks like Lee was doing all the work as these pictures might suggest!! I did do my fair share, honest guv, I wasn’t just snapping away on my phone at him working hard!! Although of course I had to take plenty of pics! Obviously I want some good memories of the place that has been so close to my heart all these years, eh!!!

Now, it’s all done and dusted! Feels mighty strange to see it in its guise of being a warehouse again.

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Those 4 walls have sure seen a lot of emotions within them throughout those years – happy, smiling faces; contagious giggles; tears of joy; squeals of laughter; screams of excitement; baby cries and chuckles; toddler tantrums; family get togethers; surprises; hilarious party shoots, etc., etc..  Capturing so many of your special moments here has been such a joy … seeing your offspring grow from babies to teens, and from children to adults, has always been a particular highlight.

Each time I’ve gone in over in the last few weeks, since knowing I’d be moving, different memories have sprung to mind. Golly, so many brilliant times!

Of course, I won’t be leaving behind all these memories, they’ll stick with me forever! And I look forward to creating many more for you! It may be a sad goodbye to Basepoint, but it’s also a very enthusiastic hallo to Hive Studios and to lots of photo sessions in the great outdoors too!

It all dismantled quicker than expected – not this quick though!

As I come to the end of this chapter in my Romsey Fotografix story, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Basepoint over the years who have made it such a lovely place to be. A very special thank you to Kate, Sam and Neil from the Romsey Basepoint Office, who are always on hand to help whenever we pop by, with their cheery smiles, and organising various social and business events during the year to make it special for the licencees. I shall miss you all.

And, of course, a huge thank you to every one of you who has ever stepped foot into 45 Basepoint, and for being so supportive over the years. It means such a lot to me. I look forward to welcoming you to Hive Studios or meeting you for a photoshoot in the New Forest, in your garden, or even on the beach!

My biggest thank you of all is to Lee, who has worked so hard, making my dreams come true, and without whom none of this would have been possible. Thanks, lovely hubby.

And here’s an outtake of me attempting to lock the door for the last time at 45. Clumsy me, if only I’d remembered to take the key out of my pocket first!! Haha 🙂

 

 

Celebrate Endings – For they Precede New Beginnings

– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

 

A Higgledly-Piggledy Month …

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Wow, can’t believe the summer holidays are all done for another year!

Hope you’ve had a great time while the kids have been off and lovely holidays if you’ve been away.

August was a somewhat higgledly-piggledly month for us, what with the house move being a week later than expected (which threw our holiday plans right out of kilter); having no broadband for a few weeks (who knew how much you miss it!); sorting out the new abode, which involved several trips to Ikea for some storage necessities (wardrobes anyone?), plus one or two (ahem, maybe 3!) deliveries from ao.com.

So, there’s been loads to sort out, as is generally the case when you move of course, and been keeping Lee busy with all the flat-pack building!!

Just wanted to say thank you so much for all of your orders which have been coming in thick and fast since I got back to work last week. And also to say thanks for waiting so patiently during all of our moving upheaval and time off. I’m on the case, but it’s taking me a little longer than usual to process everything due to such an overwhelming number coming in at once. I’m not complaining of course, just loathe want to keep you waiting longer than necessary for your prints and images. The good news is that I’m starting to get on top of everything now it’s a week in, having enlisted help from my brilliant editing company with the final clean-up edit that I like to carry out on all images ordered.  So you should be receiving everything very soon, if indeed you haven’t already.

I must say, we are absolutely LOVING our new abode, it’s all coming together very nicely indeed and the traumas of the moving process have now been religated to the memory banks, thank goodness! It’s a very spacious flat, just minutes from the studio, so a perfect location, and several of you are my “nearly neighbours” which is lovely!

We didn’t get a “proper” holiday as such, but managed to squeeze in a couple of days out, including a lovely day out at the Great Dorset Steam Fair a couple of weeks ago, in amongst all the bedlam, which was very welcome – and fantastic weather! If you’ve never been, it’s well worth a visit when it’s on again next year. Something there for everyone!

Just a little advance notice, we’re also taking a week off 15-22 October so we can have some time away and chillax without the worries of moving taking over our break!

For now though, it’s back to normality, I’ve been really enjoying all your latest shoots and getting back in the studio, as well as several on location. Lots of variety and loving every minute!

Oh, and as I’m writing, Just a little shameless reminder … I do get booked up this time of year, especially at weekends, so if you are thinking in terms of photos for Christmas pressies, please book your slot as soon as you can!

Did someone say Christmas! Ouch, sorry 😉