Blogging & Business

THE ONE WHERE I TELL YOU ALL MY SECRETS + A FREE E-BOOK

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I started my college career knowing one thing, I would not become a teacher. I vividly remember standing in line at college orientation, it was that pivotal moment where you choose your major and without having any real plan… only the list of things I didn’t want to do spinning in my head, I looked over at the teacher line almost in defiance. It was a common thing to do in our town, become a teacher. But me, I would become an event planner… or a Public Relations Associate (whatever that means… though that is what my degree is in.) Or I would become a full time photographer, a dream not yet realized. There I was standing in the undeclared line, I had two years to decide, and I bunch of generals to take anyways. A degree in Communications ended up being the route I took. Honestly it just made sense to go in that direction, it was the thing that came naturally to me and Public Relations just seemed logical.


 

Learn from the experience of 9 different creative professionals. Grab your FREE E-Book and embrace your dream this year!

 

FLOUNDERING

I was on my way to earning a college degree, because well… that’s what you were supposed to do when I graduated high school. And I loved all my communication classes. I actually loved everything about them. I learned magazine layout while working on my college’s magazine, I spent time in our radio booth, I studied how different website’s communicate to their audience, and I took my first photography class. That photography class was my hook. That photography class inspired me to chase a dream. I spent my last year of college taking pictures of anyone that would step in front of my camera. I did my first photo sessions on film. I assisted at my first wedding.

During that first year out of college I lived in Florida and my first entrepreneur venture was unfolding. I was taking pictures, I was blogging about every picture I took, I was trying to figure out how to build a business, I was trying to create a client base, and all without progress. I was floundering. I was working full time as an office manager and trying to build a business on the side without having any real know how. What was I really doing? What was I going to do? This didn’t seem like a good plan… I wasn’t going anywhere. Then I thought, “well, maybe I’ll get my master’s and become a teacher…”

Not very long after that I moved back home and before diving in to a master’s degree I decided I would test the waters. I wasn’t wiling to sink anymore money into student loans without knowing if being a teacher was what I really wanted. So, I found a job as a paraprofessional (or teacher’s aid, or class room aid, whatever you want to call it.) I spent a little over a year working in a class room. Seeing all the ins-and-outs, the students, the teachers, the politics and a found out what I needed to know. I did not want to be a teacher.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Next thing you know I’m married, living in California and still unsure of what I want to be when I grow up. So I did what anyone would do, I found a job. For clarity and to make this long story not so long, I quit that job after 8 months. It wasn’t a good fit and I was dealing with anxiety (something I had never experienced before), so I decided to do something different. I didn’t know anyone and driving in LA wasn’t for me, so I knew I didn’t want to pursue portrait photography. Who would I take pictures of? And I would probably have an anxiety attach just driving to locations anyways. I had seen a few people selling handmade items on Etsy, so I decided I would give that a try. I handmade zip pouches and wallets. I was half way good at it, but overtime I learned that wasn’t for me either. Time to try something else… I moved on the creating digital goods; calendars, worksheets… I wasn’t very good at that.

At about that time we were moving again… that’s what we do… we move. But this move was a little different. Tyler had accepted a contract position for the next 5 months. We didn’t know what would be happening at the end of those 5 months, so I was kind of in limbo. I was out ideas for what to sell on Etsy. I was blogging, but without any real niche. After 5 months Tyler was offered a full time job, it was time to find a place to live and I decided it was time to find a job.


 

PRACTICAL STEPS FROM 9 different creative professionals. Grab your FREE E-Book and embrace your dream this year!

 

DREAMING AGAIN

I hadn’t given up on any of my dreams… I had always dreamed of having a small business, but we had student loans to payoff. I needed consistent income so we could plow through the mountains of student debt we had. (If you’re reading this, do not take out student loans. There are so many others ways to do it.) So I went to work and started to dream again about what kind of business I would pursue. I tried to blog consistently, it was fun and it kept me moving forward trying different things. For a hot second I considered portrait photography again, but I just didn’t feel that was my strength. Because I was blogging consistently I was getting half way good at product photographing and that’s when it hit me. I would be a product and stock photographer.

I took my first client in 2016 and I slowly started to grow a little business. In 2017 I launched a new shop full of stock images and in 2018 I launched my stock photo library. I was reading book after book trying to learn about business, I was listening to podcasts, I was watching webinars, I was trying to do what everyone successful was doing. I was producing new photos every month. I was trying new things creativity, pushing myself to succeed. If the business was going to work it had to be profitable. It had to match my current income. I had to keep going.

WHEN IT’S TIME TO TAKE A BREAK

But, the business wasn’t profitable. Now, I’m going to lay it all out there… and I’ve buried the lead, so get ready. I’m closing the shop and the member library (if you’ve made it this far, bravo!) To be honest, I could keep going with it, I could keep trying, because I believe the business could be profitable, but I’ve come to a place of burn-out and I’ve come to a place where I’m not in love with it… It’s not fun. And if I keep going, there is a far greater chance that I’ll really resent it. I also plan to retire the Elah Tree brand. I’m not giving up, I’m not throwing in the towel… it’s just time to take a break and it’s time to dream a new dream. It’s time to start fresh. It’s time to rebrand.

A NEW DREAM

At the end of last year I decided that this year would be a year that I step back and refresh. Tyler and I have something we’re working on together, but we’re not in any hurry and the Elah Tree brand will probably be around for the next few months as I plan to blog throughout this transition. I wish I could tell you more about what’s next, but that’s for another post… plus, I like keeping you in suspense. 😉


 

PRACTICAL STEPS FROM 9 different creative professionals. Grab your FREE E-Book and embrace your dream this year!

 

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR EARLY FOR YOUR DREAM

So, why did I tell you all of that before telling you about this E-Book? Because I wanted you know that it’s truly never too early or late for your dream. It’s never too late to change direction. It’s never too early to get started. It’s completely okay to try different things and not have things workout. It’s okay to to start one thing, figure out it’s not for you, and try something else. I’ve tried so many different things and changed directions so many times, but I’m always willing to keep going. I’m always ready to embrace a new dream.

I’ve come together with 8 other amazing women and we’re all sharing our journeys with you. Practical steps to help you get started and things that really made a difference for each of us. We’re here to inspire and lift you up, so grab your copy and embrace your journey this year!

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Learn from the experience of 9 different creative professionals. Grab your FREE E-Book and embrace your dream this year!

 

ITS NEVER TOO LATE TO START LIVING YOUR DREAM

MY FAVORITE GEAR FOR PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the biggest struggles I faced when I first began my photography journey was wondering whether or not the gear I was using was good enough. I wondered what the pros were using? How were they creating such magical pictures? ... And how could I do the same? One thing I want to encourage you in is believing in yourself and not in your gear. Your gear is simply the tools you use to create your images, but with practice, a little ingenuity, and trusting yourself, you can make magical photos.

Today I'm sharing my favorite gear for product photography and I'm also going to share a few tips and tricks for alternatives. 

Cameras

Nikon D700 : The Nikon D700 has been retired, but here is it's counterpart. The Nikon D700 is ideal for me when shooting products because it's full frame, allowing me to get more into frame. I often pair the D700 with the 50mm. If you're shooting with a crop sensor camera body and you're struggling to get everything in frame, the 35mm would be great to pair with it. 

Nikon D300s : The Nikon D300s is also retired, but we love this camera because it has video. We don't do a lot of video right now, but it’s one of our favorite camera’s to use on the go. I pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s because it allows us to get a lot in frame.

Alternatives : Nearly all the DSLR's that are released these days are phenomenal. Learn your camera, read your camera manual and really learn lighting, and you'll be making magical photos in no time. 

Lenses

Nikkor 35mm : As I mentioned above, I often pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s. This is a solid shooting lens with a 1.8 aperture, great taking product photos with beautiful blurry backdrops.

Nikkor 50mm : The 50mm is what I pair with the Nikon D700. For my personal preferences I don't like to pair anything under the 50mm with the D700 because it's a bit to wide. If you were shooting something like landscapes or cityscapes, wide angle lenses are ideal, but I think the 50mm is perfect for products and lifestyle.

Alternatives: In photography, lenses really do make all the difference. I would recommend investing in your lenses before you do anything else. The 50mm and the 35mm are both great jumping off points. If you are shooting with the stock lens that came with your camera don't be discouraged. I would encourage you to (1) practice shooting outside where you don't have to fight the light. Fighting light is often the biggest struggle. (2) Learn what your lens and camera are capable of by shooting at different apertures. 

Extras

Softboxes : I haven't always shot with softboxes, but I do really love them because they are incredibly convenient. Softboxes aren't necessary when shooting products or lifestle, but they are helpful when trying to fill out the light in a room. I prefer to shoot with natural light, but if your light is uneven then softboxes really help.

Alternatives: Amazon has a variety of softboxes to choose from ranging in price. If your industrious and enjoy DIYs you can find a variety of DIY softboxes online too. 

Manfrotto Tripod : This tripod is not specific to Flatlay, as an ideal Flatlay tripod would have a horizontal harm like this one. But this particular tripod has been working great for me, so I love it. I have had this tripod for years and since it is working for me, I have never felt the need to get something different. This one works well because it has a ball head which allows me to turn the camera face down. 

Light Reflector Set : My light reflector is maybe one of my favorite and most used photography accessory. I have used it in different situations to reflect light, but I also use it to diffuse light. Diffusing light is what I use it for most these days, as I need soft even light.

Alternatives: There are a variety of items that you can use as an alternative to diffuse and reflect light. White foam core boards are perfect for reflecting light and if you need to diffuse and soften light a white sheet does the job.  

Great photography comes from more then just the gear we use. It comes from practice, patience, study, and hard work. What are some of your favorite photography accessories? What are some of your favorite photography hacks? xoxo. Samantha


5 WAYS TO USE STOCK PHOTOS TO REDUCE STRESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

5 WAYS TO UE STOCK PHOTOS TO REDUCE STRESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The holidays are upon us… tomorrow is November 1 and before we know it, it will be Thanksgiving! Our calendars will soon fill up with holiday gatherings, travel, family traditions, and baking Christmas goodies. This is one of my favorite times of year, but I also know it can be a stressful time of year. Each year, Tyler and I, travel for the holidays, so it’s important for me to do a lot of prep work for this space. I spend a lot of time looking at my calendar, planning content ahead of time, and making sure I don’t go overboard.

Styled stock photos is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress this holiday season. It’s the perfect way to take a little something off your plate and look amazing great doing it!

1 | CREATE EYE CATCHING HOLIDAY PROMOTIONS

The holidays are a perfect time to promote your shop and plan your holiday sales! With Christmas styled stock photos you can create eye catching holiday graphics to promote your shop, highlight a special sale, or offer something extra special this holiday season! Now is the perfect time to give back to your holiday shoppers. Can you offer a little something extra for purchases over $100? Get creative and have fun!

2 | CREATE HOLIDAY CHEER ON INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK

Social media can be demanding and with all the holiday gatherings that take place this holiday season, social media can sometimes take a back seat. But it doesn’t have to. You can use styled stock photos to plan your social media posts ahead of time. My favorite app to use for Instagram is Later. I can upload photos, write the captions and pick the perfect time for the post to go live. You don’t have to do this for every post, but when you know you’re going to be busy and on the fly, you can ease the busy burden.

3 | CREATE BEAUTIFUL PRODUCT MOCKUPS

Do you have a beautiful product that you would love to promote this holiday season? Stock photos are an ideal option. You can easily mockup your products with stock photos and they can have all the Christmas feels without you having to plan hours and hours of photo shoots and editing.

 

NEED STOCK PHOTOS FOR MORE THEN JUST THE HOLIDAYS? DOWN 15 FREE STOCK PHOTOS BELOW.

 

4 | DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE WITH PINTEREST-WORTHY CONTENT

Are you creating amazing holiday content for your blog? Stock photos are perfect for creating Pinterest images to drive traffic to your holiday content! Sharing “5 Tips For An Amazing Holiday Gathering?” Use styled stock photos to create the perfect hero image.

5 | CREATE STUNNING EMAIL CAMPAIGNS

Ready to wow your customers? Create stunning email campaigns with your beautiful sales graphics! Your customers won’t know you’re having a sale unless you let them know. Building your email list and sending out stunning email campaigns will help drive traffic to your site and get your product in front of my customers!

Reduce stress this holiday season, create amazing content, and have time for celebrating with your favorite people! xoxo. Samantha

5 PODCASTS FOR LIFE & BUSINESS

5 PODCASTS FOR LIFE & BUSINESS

Listening to podcasts is new to me. This is the first year that I started to really listening to podcasts on a consistent bases. I started with The Goal Digger Podcast, then moved onto Building a Story Brand, then stumbled unto This Sounds Fun, then added Business Boutique and the minute I hear about another possibly good podcast, I add it to my list.

Here's how I feel about podcasts, find the ones that YOU really love. I've listened to podcasts that weren't my favorite so I don't listen to them. And then I find podcasts that I really love and that's what I'm sharing today. 4 of my favorite podcasts and 1 that I'm about to test out because I need it, haha! I also really love podcasts that are more conversational, funny, and that teach me stuff, versus typical business-speak podcasts... if that makes sense. I kind of check out if a podcast immediately starts out with Instagram strategy. We all need Instagram strategy, but, you know, give it to me in a funny hilarious way. So, here we go...

Business Boutique with Christy Wright: This is my go-to podcast most days. Honesty, I just really like Christy Wright. I think she's funny. I think she genuinely wants to help women grow their businesses and she provides actionable steps to help you grow your business right now. Every day steps to get you one step closer to your dream. 

Building A Story Brand with Donald Miller: I started listening to Building a Story Brand after I read Donald's book. His book helped me understand my brand's message. I'm still in the process of flushing out that message, but Donald's guidance has been fundamental and I love his podcast. Lots of business advice at your fingertips in a conversational way. 

That Sounds Fun with Annie F Downs: I follow Annie on Instagram and listen to her podcast simply for fun. She's funny, she loves Jesus, and she makes you feel like you could BFFs. 

Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield: Amy's podcast is on my must-listen list. My marketing game always needs help. I am on the struggle bus when it comes to marketing and I definitely need marketing made easy in my life, haha! 

Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis: I just started listening to Rachel Hollis and following her on Instagram. I appreciate how honest she is and I think she's funny. I actually heard about her through Christy's podcast. I basically hear about all other podcasts through Christy's podcasts, haha! I also just added her new book, Girl, Wash Your Face to my must-read list. 

If I was to sum up my favorite type of podcasts they would probably be funny or they would be with people who like to crack jokes and laugh, even if they are simply cracking jokes for themselves. I feel like that's what I do, I'm just cracking jokes to make myself laugh, even if no one else thinks they're funny! Tell me your favorite type of podcasts to listen to and who your favorites are! Share below! xoxo. Samantha