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!

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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.

SUMMER UPDATE!

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Just to keep you posted on what’s been going on at Romsey Fotografix (and beyond) lately – and notice of our upcoming holidays!!

Hope you’re enjoying the summer and heatwave!  We’ve been making the most of it with lots of shoots outside, which, as I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned before, are great fun for all concerned!  There’s something very calming about being in the great outdoors surrounded by nature in its glory, basking in the shade of woodland trees on a glorious sunny day, with dapples of sunlight seeping through the leaves. Makes for some great natural and carefree shots!

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It’s been several months since I left my old studio, and happy to report that working out of Hive Studios is going very well indeed, and very pleased to have made the jump 😊 It’s been lovely to have welcomed lots of you there already and I’m already starting to book up my Sunday slots there in the lead up to Christmas, so please let me know if you’d like to reserve a slot before they all go!

Things have been very busy of late, not only with the studio and outdoor shoots, but we’ve also been out and about photographing local goings on, for ourselves and some for stock images.

We had an incredible evening back in June in The Terrace Pavilion in The Houses of Parliament, no less, taking photos for my friend, Lynn, at an evening event there for her wonderful charity Their Future Today It was a bit surreal being there to be honest, had to keep pinching ourselves and remind ourselves where we were!

We were up bright and early (4.45am!) a few weekends ago to get ourselves down to Hurst Castle in time to photograph the yachts in the round island boat race. It was a beautiful morning, albeit a bit of a trek with all the equipment along the pebbles, but worth it to sit on the shore and watch the boats go by in the lovely morning sun, with a little picnic to keep us going! We did cheat though and take the ferry back, which was very pleasant in itself! It wasn’t just the race we photographed as you can see!

Then of course our annual trek to the Winchester Hat Fair which is always a great day out with photo opportunities right, left and centre. A very enjoyable and colorful day for sure. I added a few to my stock photos on Shutterstock  (which is still a work in progress by the way, I’m adding new images as time permits!)

We’ve managed a couple of trips to Marwell as we love taking pictures there and making the most of our membership.

As well as the photography,  I have three online art and digital art courses on the go and am learning lots.  I’ve been working on some Fairytale characters, this one is Snow White and the Wicked Queen, a lesson I did from the fabulous Ever After Course by the very talented Tamara Laporte at Willowing Arts  I’m a little behind with all my coursework, as of course my photography takes priority, and these paintings take quite a while to do, but hope to catch up on some more of the lessons during my holiday. I will have my Ipad and IPencil to hand for sure 🙂

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And great excitement!!!!!! I’ve recently opened a Zazzle Store where I can sell my art and designs on a myriad of items! I’m adding new goodies to it almost daily, as time allows! Best. Fun. Ever!!

Amongst other things, I’ve been preparing a BACK TO SCHOOL range of lunchboxes etc  (good timing eh 😉 ) as well as a new Collection of items for LITTLE MISSES and LITTLE MISTERS including clothing and party invites etc. They’re not showing up in my marketplace yet as it takes several days for them to appear, but hopefully will be there soon.  And according to Zazzle, it’s time to start uploading  products for Christmas – a little task for after our holiday I think!

Of course it’s still a work in progress as I’m only a month or so in, I have nearly 600 products in my store so far and some of them take a little while to show up in the store front. I’ve also taken a training course to learn all being part of the Zazzle Marketplace, which is slightly more complex than I expected.  It’s not just a question of uploading a design onto one of their T shirts or mugs or any of the other thousands of items they sell (take a look it’s amazing!), and hoping for the best – there’s a lot more to it! The great thing is everything can be personalised, which is brilliant if you’re looking for a special gift or maybe some personalised items for a sports club you may belong to (badges anyone?) or whatever! Lots of choice across the whole of the Zazzle site with some amazing designs and art from thousands of artists from all over the world.  Haha, shameless plug there!!

And now – it’s time for a holiday! We have a couple of separate holidays coming up … we close from Thursday 9th August until the 20th  and then again between 14 and 23rd September.  Looking forward to a bit of a breather!

Happy holidays to you all as well!