We took a day feild trip to Virgian City. It's way up, tucked in the south eastern hills about 25 miles outside of Reno. We drove up through a very cold fog bank on a day trip from Reno to investigate some eye candy. It was SO cold. I wish I had a couple of days there. RICH history and I just love that. The Cathedral was a huge suprise.
A new Look
I'm in the middle of changing template for my web site.....It is going to take a few days for me to figure out how to drive it. Wish me luck!
My article for PT Photographer or maybe not
My friend Carl started a forum for new photographers called PT photographer. Short for part time. I wrote my process for him. If he chooses not to use it, I posted it on mine.
My process to becoming a photographer.
I am still in process and am sure I will always be in the process of becoming a photographer. It began a few years ago when I left the Bidwell House, a bed and breakfast I managed with my husband and 5 children for 13 years. If you want my story before Bidwell, go to www.kimjamesphoto.com and feel free to read the bio or the bio at www.kimjamesfineart.com it has a bit more. We moved just next door from the Bidwell. I did not want to alter my life too much. Although, it needed a good tweak, next door facing Big Meadows and Last Chance was good enough.
I am a creative, but also, I have been told, a rare balance of left-right brain, I am not sure how rare it is. I am the CFO of my family and my husbands concrete business and my multi-media co. 1000 words productions. I have been a manager for 2 decades. My creativity had met it’s end through the Martha Stewart lifestyle we lived and the elegant English Garden Weddings we put on. The business there had reached it’s maximum potential for us and I do not do well in stagnant waters. I needed more and I defiantly needed different. I had been studying the watercolor media for 9 years at this point and I teach the elements of design and watercolor to elementary school children. I have a creative understanding of line, texture, color value and hue, shape, form and space and I teach it. I am in love with art of all forms. I began showing my watercolors in a few galleries, but I knew this would not be the road to financial well being and serving my creative side. I need both, I want both. I needed to find a way to make a good income, satisfy my creative needs and be able to still call all my own shots. 5 children take much of my attention. Also I live in a rural area. I didn’t want to move back to the city. I also understood a photo studio in Chester would not be profitable. I wanted to travel, the youngest is 9 now. So I spent a good couple of months preparing for the jump off of Half Dome. What to do? What to do? That was most of my thoughts for about 6 months….
Then one day I was looking up my old friend David Jay. A fashion photographer I worked with in SF while working at City, the modeling agency. I loved David’s work, his pictures were still vivid in my mind. This man knew beauty and could shoot it like Scavullo. Rare, in my book, for a straight male. His photographs were provocative, sensual and always clean. So there I was typing in David Jay and what came up was a wedding photographer, who is quite big and well known in the wedding photography industry, which I did not know at the time. I soaked in his entire site. Over and over I looked. Then I heard a whisper, ever so small, “You could do this?”.
Then it all made sense. My past seemed to be grooming me for that very moment. A convergence of all of my skills, abilities and talents. There was a reason I modeled in New York , Paris and San Francisco. There was a reason I edited stacks of slides for years. There was a reason I scouted and developed New Faces, models. There was a reason I made model cards and portfolios and worked with countless, super talented photographers and stylists all those years. There was a reason I studied psychology, leadership and business with a vengence. There was a reason I continued to cultivate my love of fashion and make-up. There was a reason I created weddings for over a decade at the Bidwell House. There was a reason I had and photographed all of those children.There was a reason I shot all of the subjects I painted first. All of my roads led to photography. No longer was it “what to do?“ . It became “have to do“. I had been photographing for years for my own pleasure, for my art, for my family and for the Inn. From that moment I jumped….free fall into…Make this happen.
Then I ventured into the deep and dirty waters of self assessment and appraisal. Granted, inspiration and excitement still isn’t a ticket to go 30,000.00 into the hole. I was, am, making a bet I could lose. The process to making a decision, to put all my energies into photography and putting aside my beloved paint brush for awhile, was arduous, really scary, full of self doubt, full of humility, morbid reflection and still is. My assessment , inventory of my business and creative self found I was already half way there to being a professional photographer. I went to my old friends and asked for their critic of my present work and what they knew of me. That was hard. I went to my toughest critics my husband,an ex fashion model, my oldest son, who loves to tell me I suck If I do. I went to people I knew in business and ran my potential business plan by them and always the questions was “Do you think I can do this?”. Then I would show them the top 4 web-sights. Do you think I have it to do this? Everyone said yes and yet I still wasn’t certain. I began to spend 6 hours a day studying the wedding photography industry. I am an outsider looking in. Detached and skeptical. I know I won’t make $$$ with a photo studio in tiny town. I have to go big or stay home.
When I ran the women’s fashion division of City, I was enthralled with Ellen Von Unworths work. My dream was to one day be such creative. So I went back to my fashion roots. I stopped looking at local photographers. I went to American Photo and looked up their top 10 wedding photographers in the world. And like Anthony Robins says “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find the best in their field and take notes.” So I began my own curriculum of study. I studied all 10, I still do and I found more that I like even better. I looked global rather than local. Without the net I wouldn’t even have considered this to be a game I could play in. I fell in love with David Beckstead’s work and his business model. He had more similarities I could identify with . He lives in rural area, artist, bookes destination weddings only. If I wanted to stay in Chester I would need to follow his business model and through a great stroke of luck I am co-hosting one of his coveted and always sold out workshops this October. www.shootwithbeackstead.com . But, what else I discovered in the top 10 was 7 were on the west coast. Some had moved to fashion editoial and fine art blended with a photojournalism style. Instead of just the over saturated photojournalism. I knew from years of studying art my own style was imperitive.
I LOVE FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY. I LOVE CLOTHES. I LOVE MAKE-UP. I had spent years on the set. I knew I needed to bring what I love to my game. I was a model scout for 10 years. I am known to pull my talent out of in and out burger and the local grocery. I don’t need to find models, I remembered I made models. I can do it again and at this point everyone I have shot on my site for fashion and beauty I havr found, I did their hair and make up and I dressed them. I started to really FEEL I could do this.
After going through all the wedding photographers and getting my finger on the pulse of a very saturated and redundant industry I went back to the fashion greats, www.jedroot.com handles the worlds best fashion photographers stylist makeup artists, as well as www.artandcommerce.com . I started looking outside the wedding industry for what I could bring back inside through my own fashion translation. The wedding sites are really looking A Lot A Like. Hence why I took on such an odd template for my site. There were some innovators in the wedding industry I found on Grace Ormond’s sight www.weddingstylemagazine.com . Apparently if she likes your work you are made. I like her taste.
My evaluation, certain fashion will always be classic and so will weddings. Besides the technical aspects of digital photography I read Vogue, Elle and Allure,it‘s all about make-up. I study them. I have a link to French Vogue online and Italian vogue. I practice make up on my subjects and my daughters. I do model tests once a week. If had 5,000.00 I could take Greg Gorman’s digital workshop over in Mendocino, but I don’t, I spent it on my camera. So I will study his pictures and practice setting up studio lighting like he does with my own subjects and styling.
I have much to learn in the ever changing digital photography industry. I spent 1000.00 on the New York Institute of photography pro program. Their teaching material is from the 70s and 80s ooops. It would be fine for film but technology is moving at breakneck speed. They do have a digital CD they send out, but I feel that money could have had a bigger bang some where else. I wish I could afford the time and leave form home to go to Brooks. I take workshops. I thought a certificate from NYIP would legitimize me to my clients and to some it might but, my pictures, my guarantee and my insurances are what really legitimize me. The internet is educating me every moment . I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop cs3. I read trade magazines and I do not stop shooting. I shoot lighting in studio and I spent 3000 on various lights. Pleased with them all still learning. The best money I spent was on Big folio for my web-site and their site optimization. WOW. I came to the conclusion based on my history that photography is for me. Can I handle a business? Yes. Do I know enough about photography to take pictures that will please my clients? Yes. Do I know how to see my subjects? Yes. The light? Yes. Am I disciplined enough to learn the aspects of digital photography new cameras, lighting, computers, web-site design, blogs, programs, raw, Photoshop, Lightroom,? Yes but I’ll struggle. Can I do hair make-up and styling? Yes. Can I see bone structure and the best most attractive angles on people? Yes. Do I know when someone is really bringing It for the camera or dogging it? Absolutely. Do I have the money to buy the gear all the pros have that are in the game. No. Brick wall.
How I did it.
Back to what to do? Hate being here. I like having a direction. Ultimately I decided to take out a loan. I am 44 I don’t have 5 years to build a business and I am a girl who jumps in both feet. I didn’t have time to buy used and then buy better when I get a gig. I already built a site that I disassembled 1 month after because I knew it wasn’t good enough. I want to shoot high end weddings, they are beautiful,I needed some high end equipment and big coverage if something goes wrong. My loan wasn’t a business loan, you have to prove profitable at least 2 years in row before a bank will come in give $, and it wasn’t credit cards. I took out 30,000.00 spent 24,000.00 of it on studio lighting backdrops, canon cameras and lenses, computers, an Epson 4000,a printer, fax scanner, web-sites blog, Pictage,which I am still not too sure its working for me, insurances, bags, batteries, chargers, back-up programs and systems, I joined PPC Professional photographers of California and PPA,America, the local chamber,which I probably won‘t do again. I will rejoin PPA and go for WPPI next year and drop PPC. I bought my own font, Youch. The rest of the money is for an emergency and I have begun to take bookings which are paying for my monthly expenses. My basic monthly expenses are 350 for my loan, 100, pictage, 50.00 cell phone, 80 for my 3 web-sites, 50 for insurance,equipment, liability and 100 for misc. expenses. I have a 850 sg ft studio Ian built for me. We own it. My accountant gets to figure out that one this year. I don’t draw a penny and haven’t. My business is paying for itself at this point. But I went big on equipment and web site and small on everything else. I do not have all the equipment I need. I have a huge wedding at the CIA Greystone in St. Helen coming up in Feb. I rented $5000.00 worth of Canon gear for $480.00 to enhance the gear I have. When I have 5 weddings like that in a few months period I will consider buying the 5D and 85mm 1.8, but, for now I will rent. www.borrowlenses.com in San Mateo. In order to pay my bills at home, I wait tables and I teach watercolor to elementary school kids. I am running all the time to make this thing work. I get up early and go to bed late. I wish I could tell you that I am flying all over the planet shooting what I love, making a ton of money doing it, and it gives me the time I need and want to spend with my family. But, what happens next, I don’t know. It is a process I am in. I have heard so many times the journey is the goal. It is. All I wanted to was to understand Raw and I do now. I am grateful. Here is a list of the people on my favorites of my favorites. Just a few. www.mariotestino.com www.santedorazio.com www.gormanphotography.com www.davidjayphotography.com www.davidjay.com www.popphoto.com www.lexar.com www.cutframetv.com I love this site!! www.wedhooter.com Big folio's wedding blog.
They didn’t make the top 10 but could have. Some of the darlings of the moment, in the wedding industry, at least on the net, are Becker, Mike Colon , Jim Garner, Joe Photo, Dane Sanders, Jose Villa, David Jay, Gary Fong, major industry innovator, I bought his fong dong and his chrome dome. Don't laugh, I don't know how he came up with the names, but these things are cool. This wedding season will determine if I have to use my emergency funds for 2009. Before I took the jump, my husband and I both spent time considering the consequences if I lost my bet. We agreed we could live with the worst case scenario. We would have 20,000.00 in camera equipment to shoot soccer games of our children with.
Alice is my oldest son, Ryon's 83 year old Italian Noni. I have known Alice since I was 14. She was my favorite of my mother's friends. She would make me laugh and was always so uplifting to me. I always thought she was funny. She's still funny. She is full of fire. If you see a Red Jaguar going 80 south on 101 to the City, it's probably Alice. I enjoyed her sitting for me very much. I loved taking her portrait. I absolutely adore her.
I am hosting Shoot with Beckstead
I am honored and beyond excited to be hosting a David Beckstead
and Zack Arias of Onelight
workshop October 6th, 7th and 8th 2008 in Northern California.
David was named one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world by Popular Photography in 2007. David travels the planet doing his workshops. If you are interested in this workshop sign up fast they sell out in a few weeks. I hope to see you there.