5 TIPS TO TURN YOUR DREAM INTO A BOMBSHELL BUSINESS

I will always be a dreamer. I will always have ideas, dreams, and hopes pouring out of me. One of the best parts about dreams is bringing those dreams to life. Taking those dreams and turning them into something tangible. It took me years to figure out how to turn my dreams into a tangible business, and I still have plenty to learn. But we can all start somewhere. We can pull our dreams down from the sky (preferably with a lasso ;) and start taking steps to turning them into bombshell business. 

DECIDE WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE ABOUT

Something that I really struggled with in my business and something that kept me from moving forward, was that I wasn't sure what I wanted to be about it and I wasn't sure what I wanted my business to be about. Because of this I found myself stuck. It's not that I wasn't trying... I was trying everything under the sun, haha! But I hadn't determined what I really wanted my business to be about.

I decided to pursue running my own business in 2013. I started by opening an Etsy shop and creating handmade zip bags. The following year I decided that was not the type of business I wanted, so I switched to something else. In 2015, we moved , twice, and I spent a majority of the year asking myself this question, "what do I want my business to be about?" I had to decide what type of business I wanted, what kind of product I wanted to offer, and what my strengths really were. 

LEVERAGE YOUR STRENGTHS OVER WEAKNESSES 

Deciding to leverage my strengths instead of trying to strengthen my weaknesses was a game changer for me. It's easy to look at someone else, look at their journey, look at how they are doing business, and try to take your weaknesses (my weaknesses) and turn them into strengths. But the best part of your business will be built on your strengths.

I thrive on consistency, even in my photography. Brand and styled stock photography leverages all of my strengths and helps me manage my weaknesses. As a portrait photographer, one has to think quickly, they have to be light on their feet, they have to take tough situations and make them into great situations. As a portrait photographer, managing all those things zapped my creativity. My weaknesses were highlighted and my strengths were diminished. 

As a brand and styled stock photographer I am able to really utilize my strengths. Do I still have weaknesses? Absolutely. But, because I was decided to build my business around my strengths, I could begin manage my weaknesses to work better in my business. 

FOCUS ON YOUR CUSTOMER, NOT YOUR COMPETITION

We're living in the social media world. Comparison is a struggle sometimes, right? Maybe a bit more then we would like? Comparison definiltey kept me from moving forward in my dreams and business. I spent far to much time watching other brands and business, and comparing my brand and business to theirs. I spent more time focusing on them instead of my customer. 

If you focus on your customer you're going to create better products and content. You're going to prioritize how you can help them and how you can serve them better. If we stay focused on our customer, the needs of our customer, and how we can serve them better, we'll start creating better and more, because we're no longer comparing and second guessing our business. 

LIMIT YOUR INFLUENCES 

There is a lot to learn on the internet. There are a lot of e-books, pdfs, webinars, and podcasts at our finger tips. None of these things are bad, I take advantage of them too. The tricky part comes when we try to ingest all of them. When we try to read every e-book and pdf. When we try to watch and listen to every webinar and podcast. These many influences can become a distraction, they can confuse us and keep us busier with other things that aren't our business. 

KEEP YOUR CONTENT INLINE WITH YOUR PRODUCTS 

Remember how I said I started my business journey in 2013? I started with one thing, went through a few other things and then finally ended up here. The one thing that remained constant in all the changes and discovery was my blog. The consistency of my blog was a plus. The downside was that it wasn't always inline with the products I was creating. I learned that it was important to keep my content inline with my products... It was important to create content that would serve my customers the same way my products serve them. 

What dreams and hopes are you wanting to turn into a bombshell business? What are some steps that you can take this week to turn your dream into something tangible? xoxo. Samantha


MY FAVORITE GEAR FOR STYLED STOCK 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 image, but with practice, a little ingenuity, and trusting yourself, you can make magical photos.

Today I'm sharing my favorite gear for styled stock 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 styled stock 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 when shooting Flatlay, but it's still great to have. I pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s because it's a crop sensor camera body. The Nikon D300s paired with the 35mm is very similar to the Nikon D700 paired with the 50mm. 

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. When shooting Flatlay and styled stock photos I rarely shoot with an aperture under 2.8, so needing a lens with a 1.4 aperture isn't really something I need right now. 

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 when shooting Flaylay or styled stock, or even lifestyle the 50mm is on point. 

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, they are incredibly convenient. Softboxes aren't necessary when shooting Flatlay or styled stock, but they are helpful when trying to fill out the light in a room. You want to always be shooting with natural light, but if your light is uneven then softboxes really help to insure your light is even all around. I often shoot with natural light as my main source of light and I'll set up my softboxes to bounce light off the ceiling to fill in the rest of the light in the room. 

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, haha! 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 when shooting Flaylay and styled stock.

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


7 TIPS FOR CREATING LIFESTYLE PHOTOS

Whether you're a lifestyle blogger or a small business owner, creating quality images to tell your story is important. I remember when I opened my first Etsy shop. Learning to create quality images was tough. But, I'm here to walk you through the steps to get you closer to quality images, bringing your business and blog to life. 

Yesterday, we chatted about flaylay and I'm excited because today we're talking about stylized lifestyle images. Both of these photography styles are perfect for highlighting your blog, business, and products. 

PLAN AHEAD

Planning is maybe my number one tip to save you time and maybe even a headache, haha! ;) When you've decide you're going to do a photo session, instead of jumping in head first, make a plan before you begin. I have started many sessions without a plan and many times I struggled all the way through. I didn't have a vision for what I wanted to create, I didn't have props picked out, and because of that I was left uninspired and discouraged. Before you get started make a plan and decide what you want to shoot, what your vision is, and how to want to execute it. Stay tuned next week... I'll be breaking down my process for preparing for product and brand photo sessions. 

USE NATURAL LIGHT

Using natural light is fundamental when creating dynamite images for your business and blog. Can you use flash and soft boxes? Absolutely. But, natural light will give you a more dynamic outcome. Find a window or a sliding door where lots of light is coming in, this will be your main source of light. If you're like me, you can take advantages of using soft boxes to help fill out the light in the room, but natural light is going to make all the difference in your photos. 

DEFUSE DIRECT LIGHT 

Now that you've determined your plan and set things up with your natural light, evaluate what kind of light is coming through your window. Is it an overcast day and the light is indirect? Is the sun out and the light is direct and warm? If you are working with direct light and it's casting shadows you want to defuse your light. A super easy and cheap way to defuse light is to grab a white sheet or a white sheer curtain and drape it in front of your window. 

CREATE DEPTH

Creating depth in your photos is another one of those things that we will do a lot for you photos. The tricky thing about creating depth is creating layers within your photos that really work. You want to create layers that work off of each other, highlighting your subject, and you always want to avoid tangents. 

UTILIZE NEGATIVE SPACE 

Negative space is ideal when creating images for your business or blog as it provides space for you to add text. With negative space you can announce upcoming sales, say thank you to your customers, or add inspiring quotes. 

MAKE IT LIVED IN

A photo that is lived in makes it more personal and tells more of a story. In the photo below, the tea canister is left open, adding life to the photo. In each of the make-up photos the make-up is open, as if it is in use. Utilize the props in your photos indicating that they are in use. If you're working with products, show the products in use. 

EDIT

Editing is going to make all the the difference in your photos. You are probably going to fall into one of two categories. One, you are shooting in JPEG. Two you are shooting in RAW. If you are shooting in JPEG, the camera is going to finish the photo for you. This means the camera will make it's own decisions about how your photo should look and compress it. With JPEG, it seals up all the information and bakes it... like a cake, ha! Once the cake is baked you can't make to many more changes to it. With a RAW images the camera gives you the file unfinished... unbaked. This allows you to really develop the image. 

Want to learn more about styling images for you blog and business? Sign up below for first access to our Brand Photography e-course! Plus, FREE stock photos! 

That does if for today, friends! How is your photography and business journey coming along? What are things that would help your business along? xoxo. Samantha


4 WAYS TO STYLE FLATLAY

Flatlay is by far my favorite photography style. With Flaylay you can create any type of story you desire; from desk inspired photos, to cooking, travel, style, beauty, and many more. Flaylay offers controlled versatility. With Flatlay you can style a variety of different type of photos with ease. The beauty of flatlay is the option to restyle as much as you need. When I prepare for a styled stock photo shoots, my first few styled photos aren't my last. My styling comes together as I warm up within my shoot. There are a variety of ways to style flatlays, so let's get started. 

THE DESK SET

Desk inspired flatlay are really fun! I always get started by including a keyboard as the main subject. This gives me an object to style around. For this particular flatlay I chose a color theme, pink and gold. I choose a variety of props and style them a few times to determine which looks best. It's important to always make the photo look lived in; this is why you often see items in use, like paperclips lying on the desk or unraveled ribbon. 

PERSONAL TOUCH

Adding hands to a flatlay can really bring your photos to life. Your hands or anybody's hands help to draw the audience in and direct the eye. Hands make the photo feel more lived in and helps the audience connect with the business or blogger. The key with adding hands to flaylay is utilizing a tripod and timer so your actually get your hands in the photo. 

Want to learn more about styling flaylay and product photography? Sign up below for updates on our upcoming e-course! 

LIFESTYLE 

I think lifestyle is maybe the quintessential flaylay. With lifestyle you can style any object and theme you like. For the photo above I styled a beauty theme flatlay. I kept it simple, by only including a few items, but I added interest and framing by adding flowers in two of the corners. 

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WHITE SPACE WITH TEXT

Styling a photo to include what space is another great flatlay. This type of flatlay is perfect for hero images of your blog posts, creating Pinterest images, or making announcements on Instagram. When styling props for this type of flaylay you want to focus on styling the edges of your photo. A simple way to do this is to add an item to the middle of your photo and then style your items around that. Once your styling is complete you then remove the middle item and have what space left to add text. 

What are your favorite types of flatlays to style? Are you in need of styled stock photos for you business or blog? Sign up below! xoxo. Samantha