2015: New Year, New Amanda C. Blake Photography

2014 was a fantastic year for me and my business.

I was so very fortunate to get to participate in a wonderful workshop right after Thanksgiving. I got to meet some wonderful colleagues and build even stronger relationships with photographers I already knew. The Beauty and The Brains workshop put on by Rachel May and Tyler Corvin taught me so much about starting my own business, marketing, and branding. I highly recommend it to any photographer in the area looking to boost their business! Here is a link to the site, keep an eye for it. I’m sure they will hold another soon!

2015 has been fantastic to me so far. I have booked a few weddings for the year! One is even in NC. I am especially looking forward to that one, as the Outer Banks have always been a special place for me.

I have also undertaken a little re-branding, as you see from my new logo and watermarks!

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To help myself continue making this my best year yet, I am making a list of goals for myself and my business:

1. Always have a project.

I hope to always be working on something that not only benefits my business, but makes me happy. IMG_0125

2. Build strong vendor relationships.

Number 1 and 2 go hand in hand here. I hope for my projects to include reaching out to other local vendors to build our own businesses and give each other a hand! The wedding business is crazy and it’s good to have friends!

3. Give back.

I hope to do a few projects this year that not only give back, but create new opportunities. My charity work will not just include my photography work, but some of my other interests as well!

I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store. So now I ask you, what are your goals for the year? How are you going to make this your best year yet?!

Much love,

Amanda

Saying Goodbye.

This will be a pretty short post, because I honestly don’t feel like talking about it that much but I do want to share my photographs.

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Gracie’s bench.

Gracie is getting very old and we think she has some sort of cancer. My mom will be taking her to the vet next week to see what they say, but they will probably put her to sleep. She meows all the time (in pain we think), isn’t eating well and whatever she does eat she throws up. IMG_0031

She’s always been my favorite cat. She is crazy, to be blunt. She is always wanting to be pet, never turns down attention, and she can be very annoying. But that’s what I love about her. To me she is the perfect cat and I will always have a place in my heart for her.

Rest in peace sweet Grace-face.

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The Value of Print Images in the iPhone World

Even as a child, I loved to look at photographs. Growing up, some of my favorite memories took place sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room with photo albums spread around me. Even better was when my mom and I would go to pick up the prints from the roll of film we dropped off the week before. Back in those days (goodness I sound old) we took our film to Walmart and they would send it off to a print lab to be developed. Once in a while, we would do the 1-hour option, but that was more expensive so that was a treat and only if we knew the pictures were going to come out good. Mom would always get doubles made so we could give some away to the grandparents if we wanted to, but most of the time we wound up keeping both copies. After a while, Mom stopped putting them in albums at all, so now we have boxes full of envelopes full of photos.

Me and my brother James in a hurricane in North Carolina.
Me and my brother James in a hurricane in North Carolina.
Little Amanda and Mac
Little Amanda and Mac

I still love digging them out and picking out some favorites. Just about every Christmas I do this, which prompted me to make this post. Looking through these pictures makes me so happy, but the feeling is bittersweet. We don’t have any prints from recent times. From the time my parents moved in to the house we live in now up until about 5 years ago, we had a constant stream of printed photos. Not everyday, but rather every Christmas, birthday, and new pet was well documented and stored forever in these envelopes in the cabinet.

Today, we take photos on our phones. (And in my mom’s case, her little digital camera) The average smart phone user keeps their phone for 2 years. The ones we take on digital cameras get uploaded and then stay on the computer for years. Then what happens to those photos? iPhone users are lucky enough to have access to the cloud, but even then that storage is limited. We rarely print out photos anymore. Instead, we post them to social media outlets to show them off. We post our private, intimate moments online for so many people to see. Perhaps we enjoy the attention and ‘likes’ our photos receive. (I am guilty of this too. We all are.) So many people I went to high school with are getting married now. 1 out of 10 hire a professional photographer. Some of the photos I see online make me cringe. Yes, I understand that some people are just as happy letting their wedding be documented by cell phones and point and shoots, but those photos are posted to Facebook and that’s it. They don’t see the value in printing a wedding album. How will they access those photos years from now? What if Facebook doesn’t exist in 20 years?

I’m not saying online sharing is a bad thing, I post online at least once a day, but I still hope to see more interest in physical printed images. I print many of the photos I take of my family and friends. The walls in my apartment feature 4 or 5 collage frames of 4×6 photos that I change out every once in a while. In my opinion, printing photos today is easier than ever! Now, we can pick and choose which images we want to print, we can print 18 of the same image, blow it up huge, make wallets, whatever we want, all at the pharmacy if we want!

For pictures off my cell phone and such, I don’t mind getting them printed at an instant machine. Honestly, if they are low quality, it isn’t going to matter so you might as well not worry about dropping the big bucks on them. DON’T use Walmart’s machines! A few years back, they tried to save some money (for what, I don’t know) and came up with their own photo printers instead of using the Kodak ones. CVS, Walgreen’s, and most other instant machines however still use Kodak paper and printers. These are great for cell phone pictures and just causal shots on a digital camera.

HOWEVER, for your professional photos, I would highly suggest ordering from your photographer if they offer prints. I cannot stress this enough. If they don’t provide prints, a lot of photographers at least know a good lab that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use. The quality is enormously better than those instant or one hour machines. These images will truly be ones you will love and cherish for generations.

This topic also allows me to speak again on why should hire a professional in the first place. In short: QUALITY. You get what you pay for. That rule applies to anything. Say you buy a car for $200. It’s shiny, looks new, so you think you got a great deal. You drive a mile down the road and it breaks down. This is the same thing that happens when hiring a photographer. If you pay $200 for wedding coverage, odds are your images aren’t going to be as beautiful or of as high quality as a $1200 or $1500 photographer. (average wedding coverage costs vary depending on location. This is the low end for Charlottesville, VA.)

It is my love of seeing prints that leads me to a change in 2015. Starting now, I will be offering the option of prints to my clients. Nothing makes me sadder than receiving a message from a client saying their pictures came out bad. Nine times out of ten, it is because they got them printed at Walmart. The files I deliver are high quality. They are sometimes too high in resolution to print clearly as a 4×6. This makes my heart ache. I will say, if you do choose to get them printed there, and they don’t come out how you like, you are not obligated to pay for them. It is not your fault, it is theirs.

To wrap up, printing your family photos, professional or just for fun, is very important in this digital age. Your electronics won’t be around forever. You certainly aren’t going to have the same phone you have now when you are 80. How are you going to show your favorite photos from 2014 to your kids or grandkids? I guess you can scroll way down on your Facebook timeline. Or you can dig out those old prints and have some laughs and celebrate the good times with your loved ones.

Me and Mac again. This is one of my favorite photos as me as a child.  I had no idea this photo even existed until last year. I fell in love with the candid nature of it and am so happy to have come across it in my mom's old photo envelopes.
Me and Mac again. This is one of my favorite photos as me as a child.
I had no idea this photo even existed until last year. I fell in love with the candid nature of it and am so happy to have come across it in my mom’s old photo envelopes.

Christmas Sessions

I’ve been having a blast with my Christmas Minis this year! I have worked with so many cuties and their parents. Here’s just a few of my favorites. If you’d like to get in on this Christmas action, sessions are only $50 for 30 minutes and 10 images.

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Sophie’s family is precious.
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Sophie just started wearing shoes the day before this session. She wasn’t quite used to them yet!

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Heather's kiddos are so cute! We had to let them run around playing tag to wear them out before we could start.  Every session is an adventure, that's for sure.
Heather’s kiddos are so cute! We had to let them run around playing tag to wear them out before we could start.
Every session is an adventure, that’s for sure.
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Dylan and Annabelle. I love the little chair mom had for us to use this session. It’s perfect. I need one for myself!

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COMING IN 2015!

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful workshop (Beauty and the Brains Workshop with Rachel May Photography and C. Tyler Corvin Studio). I learned so much about how to run and sustain a photography business.

So that’s what brings me to this announcement! Amanda C. Blake Photography is getting a makeover!

All new colors, logo (preview on the blog now!), pricing guides, and most excitingly PRINTS! I want to offer prints to my clients. Nothing is worse than going to have your photos printed and they come out blurry or low quality because of using an instant photo printer. The thought makes me cringe!! I placed a test order this morning with a photo lab I would like to use and I can’t wait to see how they come out.

I ordered an 8x10 of this sweet moment and I can't wait to see it.  I haven't personally seen a lot of my work in print because I normally leave the printing up to the client, so this is very exciting for me!
I ordered an 8×10 of this sweet moment and I can’t wait to see it.
I haven’t personally seen a lot of my work in print because I normally leave the printing up to the client, so this is very exciting for me!

Because of my shift to a product and service (hybrid) sales model, I will be bringing these examples along to shoots so my clients can see how their prints will look when they order from me.

AND I am excited to order a canvas to use as an example product for my brides!!

After sessions now, images will be delivered in a private online gallery clients can use to download and share with friends!

One more thing!! I will have a new website by January thanks to my sweet boyfriend and all his technological smarts. I can’t wait and I hope you are looking forward to these new changes too!

My new design for my pricing information!
My new design for my pricing information!

A spontaneous session.

Yesterday morning was my last day of pet sitting (phew, I’m tired. And I still have to move this weekend) so I was using their big computer to work on my website when I got a message on my Facebook page asking about pictures.

It was from the lovely Patricia asking if I had availability for pictures in the next couple days. I responded and we set up a shoot for last night at their gorgeous home, a restored 1850’s farmhouse. We were blessed with beautiful lighting and nice weather out in Ivy.

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Spence and Patricia are looking to adopt a baby. They are making a little booklet to give out to agencies so they can be picked as adoptive parents! The competition is tough so their pictures need to stand out in the crowd. I did my best to use the beautiful light and their gorgeous property to their advantage.

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I wish this couple the best and I look forward to photographing their family in the future!

A Very Late Blog Entry: Scott & Helena’s Wedding

I know this is about 3 months overdue, but if I’m being honest (which I always strive to be) I forgot that I had this blog! I’ve mainly been keeping everyone up to date via my Facebook page and simply have been neglecting my wordpress. But here we are! Scott and Helena’s wedding was on April 21, 2014. Helena contacted me online and asked me if I could do her a favor. Her wedding photography was being done by a family member (Nick Paulos, he is a great photographer, but more about him later) and she thought he would need some help. I happily agreed, having been wanting to get into wedding photography, and seized the chance!

I met the bridal party at the rehearsal the day before the wedding after being in touch with Helena through email for a couple months leading up to the big day. She knew I had never shot a wedding before and was in agreement to let me play around and learn the ropes. To be brief, I was a little terrified. Thankfully, I was in the ever-so-capable hands of Nick. Nick Paulos is a model and headshot photographer that just moved to the area from LA. I’ll admit that I was a little intimidated to be working with such a pro, but he eased my mind and was really excited to take me under his wing, so to speak. He didn’t normally shoot weddings, so we were both figuring it out together and all in all we got a lot of great shots!

The day was long. Very very long, but very very much worth it. I started the day by meeting up with Nick and helping him load all his lighting equipment and Pelican boxes into the truck to make the short drive from his house to Keswick Vineyards. It could not have a been a more beautiful day. It was sunny, not a drop of humidity in the air, and a light breeze, perfect! Once we got to the vineyard, we went over and met with Helena and started shooting the bridal party getting ready for the day.
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After a little while, I snuck over to the pool room where the groomsmen were getting ready. They were getting bored, so they dressed way earlier than the ladies and were killing time by playing pool and darts. Poor things, I felt bad for them. The girls were definitely girls and took a couple hours to get themselves wedding-ified. The groom and his groomsmen looked quite handsome, don’t you think?

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I took some time to photograph a couple details of the flowers while Helena was getting ready to get into her dress.

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Everything about this wedding was gorgeous. Beautiful people, lovely couple, stunning venue. It was like photographing something for a magazine. I loved every minute of the day. But now it’s time for the dress. This may just be my favorite shot from the day. It took a little tugging and rearranging to get the dress just right, but once they finally got it over her (still somehow, that is beyond me) perfect hair, her face just lit up! Everyone is the room was glowing and I was so thankful to be there to catch that moment. (Especially since Nick left me alone to do the rest of the getting ready shots…)

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The time had come. The big moment was here. Nick and I scrambled and gathered up all out stuff so we could head outside and catch the bridal party as they filed in to start the ceremony. It was quite a short walk over and we almost missed the start. I was lugging all sorts of stuff, but somehow we managed to get there and get ready. At that point my feet were already killing me and that’s when I learned my first of many lessons that day. Wear comforatable everything. The ceremony was over in the blink of an eye, but we got all the right shots.

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The stress was over! Or so I thought. Now it was time for the bridal portraits. Nick and I had some trouble setting up the lighting and getting power to everything, but we managed to squeeze it all in before the cocktail hour was over. I was mainly moving lighting around, so I didn’t get to shoot a lot at this point, but I did snag this one. Everything about this shot encompasses the day, the gorgeous weather, the rustic charm of the small little wedding, the class of the group, and the fun of the day.

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Dinner time! I took the time to finish up some detail shots before the meal.

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Like I said before. It was ALL so beautiful.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing with guests and shooting some of the reception. Nick let me have his camera so I had fun with the guests the rest of the night. Shooting with his Mark II made me want to make the switch to Canon. All in all, a wonderful day, and one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I learned so much and am so thankful to both Helena and Nick. I feel very prepared for my weddings this October and am counting down the days!

 

Thanks for reading! Talk soon! I’m off to shoot a couple for some adoption pictures! More on that later.

 

Work work work.

I’ve been terribly busy lately. And I mean that in the best way possible.

If you’ve been following my Facebook page you’ll see that I got a new camera! (Finally I know.) I’d been shooting with that D3000 and I had maxed out all the potential it had so it was time for something new. I got a Canon 7D.

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It’s beautiful and complicated and wonderful. I am so in love. Now I just need some sessions to break it in! I have two weddings coming up in October so I’d like some practice family sessions before then.

I am thinking of holding another contest for a free session. That seems to be a good way to spread the word and gather interest in my work. It’s also great because it gives me a pressure free environment to work since I’m not charging for it.

I’m also working on a new website. I am using smugmug to build one and then get hosting for it. I have 8 days to make up my mind if I want to use them to host the domain. It’s pretty easy to use, so I will probably go with them. If anyone has any suggestions, don’t be shy!

I’ve also updated my etsy and I’m going to start selling prints on there again.

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On top of all this, I’m moving this weekend and I’ve been pet sitting and working all week. I don’t know if I’ll make it. If y’all don’t hear from me in a while, call the law. Thanks. 😛

Anna and Colton- Valentine’s Session

I hope everyone had a good weekend. My semester has been very busy so far. Business has been picking up and I am finding myself scheduling events as well as sessions. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing Anna and Colton again. They are as cute as ever!

Colton is really walking now, and he is curious:

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Anna is so sweet. She is kissing her frog and waiting for him to turn into her prince!

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These kids are so great to work with and I look forward to working with them again! (:

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