Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ring in the new year | Sparta, MO JHawk Photography 2013

As I reflect on my business I cannot help but smile and giggle like a little school girl.  A few years ago, owning my own studio was merely a dream.  Like so many, I have had lots of dreams that stayed in the perpetual land of La La due to a lack of one key element or another.  All of the elements were aligned for this dream, and now, the studio has been open for over one & a half years!!

This past year has been a bit of a roller coaster as I decided to remodel the studio to be more upscale to match the vision I had in mind but was not quite able to achieve when I first received the keys to the new space.  Have you ever gotten that feeling that something wasn't quite right, then after searching and searching you finally find that thing that makes it all come together?  For me, it was my vision for a more cohesive space.  However, I am always changing so I'm sure my vision will continue to change as I grow!  (I'm sure my husband loves that last statement because that usually requires his help.)

Shutting down the studio during the remodel proved to be more daunting than I had first imagined but in the end it gave me pause to reflect on several areas of my business and the ability to work on them before reopening the doors to better serve my clients.

Along with the remodel, I upgraded some of my equipment.  I now have 2 backup cameras, new strobe lighting (this is especially good for those little ones), backup lighting, new backdrops, and much more. 

Education has also been put on the forefront.  I was one of those 'mom with a camera' photographers that popped up overnight.  The thing that sets me apart from the rest is my need to learn and improve!  I have been investing in seminars, conferences, books, tutorials, and online seminars.  I don't just have a camera.  I have gear, backups in case of failure, and I know how to use all of it properly.  I have studied the proper techniques needed to excel in this industry.  There is always room for improvement, which is why I have several blocks of time throughout 2013 allocated to education.  I don't want to just be a 'mom with a camera,' I want to be your photographer!

One aspect of the business I have personally struggled with is whether to offer a disc.  I feel that I am doing an injustice to my clients by not providing a better experience.  Although I have been providing print packages, JHawk Photography is now a full service boutique studio.  I do not do quickie shoots and hand over files on a disc; referred to as a shoot and burner in my industry.  I want your experience to be much more than standing in front of my camera then waiting for a little disc that will more than likely sit in a desk drawer never to be seen again unless shuffling through the drawer for something other than the disc!  I want to provide a relaxing and fun story starting from the moment of initial contact, whether it be by phone, email, or in person.  I want to see your expression when viewing your images for the first time and help you choose the right images for your favorite products offered.  I want to hand ready-to-hang or gift products to you, see your excitement when you see them in print, then see how you have proudly displayed your memories!  I cannot do that by handing over a measly disc that may or may not see the light of day again.

With the new changes, I have also changed up some of my product offering.  I have reduced the clutter and have narrowed down the most popular products from 2012.  I have created a new perks bonus so clients can earn FREE products!!  I am venturing out to work with like-minded businesses, offering some great giveaways for referrals, Last Moments was created for non-profit (more information to be announced soon), and a new yearly scholarship prize to be awarded to the highest achieving referring senior.

Some really great changes came from the remodel.  In a nutshell, it was important for me to take a step back to evaluate my business structure and implement whatever is necessary to achieve success.  I am in this for the long haul.  Where many of those 'moms with a camera' are only offering a service to make some extra money, I will be here 20 years down the road if you have a house fire and need replacement images for those that were lost.  I will be here because I have a passion for photography not just a camera.  I will be here because I truly enjoy meeting each and every client, making your ideas come to life, and helping you create a story to go along with your memories!

I hope your new year is filled with blessings, happiness, and love.  HAPPY 2013!!!!!