Natasha, of Highest Light Healing, and I got together this summer for new headshots for her healing work and her podcast! It's incredible how far headshots have come! Within 30 minutes, we captured summertime portraits in 2 outfits in her own backyard - no backdrop, pantsuit or cheesy pose necessary!
I offer these mini sessions with a finite amount of images delivered (8-10) but sometimes I can't help myself and end up sending more including environmental shots to set the scene.
Although I have my own photography style, when I work with brands I aim for what's best for their aesthetic. 1900 Inn on Montford wanted photos that showed off their guest rooms that weren't too dark, a problem they've had in the past. I love a moody image but I agree that we want the the rooms in the B&B to feel light, comfortable and welcoming. I made sure to keep the look as natural as possible while brightening up the space even if though was rainy on the shoot day - sometimes you have to fake the beautiful sunlight!
Another request was to make the colors robust. I was happy to make the colors pop for their liking! The greenery outdoors was beautiful in June when we shot and I definitely wanted to highlight that. Check out their gorgeous garden below!
The first image from this post is possibly my favorite of the collection, just a simple shot of their swinging bench on the front porch.
It epitomizes how I see a Bed & Breakfast and gives me all the feelings of booking a summer getaway in the mountains. Comfort, nature and sweet details like the wind chimes and planter. What draws you in to the B&B experience?
Summer in the mountains is one of the best times of year in Asheville. We're a little hippie town that loves shopping local and with intention. I connected with Elder & Co. years ago when the small business was run by a different owner. I love that I worked with Amber and now Ellie to create beautiful images to promote their candle lines.
With this new line, Ellie was inspired by weekly trips to the Farmer's Market. She created a line of candle with scents that take us to a sunny Saturday morning, totes in hand, shopping for fresh produce. Rhubarb, Honeybell, Tarragon (my favorite!) and Tomato scents. Hell yes!
Also inspired by Western North Carolina's farms, she teamed up with The Culinary Gardener to support his work during the COVID-19 crisis. How can we lift each other up? You never know when your own small business has the tools to do just that. I've been offering deep discounts this spring and into summer in hopes that we can stay afloat and eventually bounce back together.
We gathered to create these images a Evan's farm to tell the story of their creation and how Ellie was inspired.
Laid-back, not stiff
These are all branding words used to create the style in which I guided my clients, the session and edited the images. What an honor! I had such a nice time at this beautiful retreat tucked away in the Western North Carolina mountains. Bliss Farm & Retreat provides a nature oasis for groups to escape to - practice your yoga and meditation while surrounded by the beautiful outdoors and a sweet farm with chickens, goats and geese!
Kind words from the client:
"Working with Chelsea was a special treat for our whole team! The photoshoot was fun, communicating with Chelsea prior to the shoot was effortless and she was very thorough and detail oriented in making sure we were on the same page about the vision we had for the photos. The style and feel of the photos was exactly what we were looking for and so on brand. Chelsea is personable and professional both in her communication style and the delivery of photos. Thank you!" -Bliss Farm & Retreat team
Needing lifestyle images for your brand? Let's work together to create a plan and a fun photo session! This summer I'm working with small businesses while following the current county + state + nationwide recommendations to remain safe during COVID-19.
Email me or fill out my contact form to get a custom quote based on your photo ideas and needs!
Before the current season of Stay at Home orders and quarantine, I was working closely with Pillar Rooftop Bar for updated photos on a regularly basis for their social media.
I love ongoing photo sessions (instead of 1 big session) because it allows you to continue to evaluate your needs, keep up with seasonal offers and holiday promotions. They're also easier on time management for a busy business. Instead of setting up a full-day shoot, we set-up 1-2 hour shoots one or two times a month. They feel less intrusive on your business hours and employees.
Another big bonus of repeat sessions together? Discount, baby. I'm happy to offer a discount to all clients who book repeat sessions with me because in building that relationship, we grow stronger together!
For Pillar, they wanted to keep the aesthetic clean, bright and colorful to show off their ingredients and welcoming atmosphere. Spring cocktails are the perfect way to display their vivid menu!
I offer some work out of my home studio space but most of my sessions are on location. I supply lighting, props, surfaces/backdrops as needed based. The entire session is tailored to the client and their brand.
Downtown Asheville, early spring and just before the COVID-19 outbreak became severe. This is when Liz and I came together for headshots to support her new business Stay Gold.
Times have evolved since then to a staggering degree. I have this hint of nostalgia for how unaware I was at this time. I was unaware that I'd be looking at months of little to no work. I was unaware that small businesses everywhere would be shuttering and staff losing jobs. I was unaware we'd all be self-isolating and rationing toilet paper. Things have changed.
For all the small businesses out there, I stand with you! This is a difficult time with no easy resolution and definitely no quick answers. Take care of yourselves and loved ones. Seriously, don't forget to take care of yourself with nourishment, exercise, faux socializing and finding hope in the future.
There will be another side to this and I look forward to connecting then. I look forward to a hug, a handshake and taking your photo to support your dreams.
I recently had the pleasure of working with The 1899 Wright Inn to refresh their image gallery. It was important to the owners to show what the Inn looks like in person and to show how cozy it is! We kept the branding warm and inviting. And we showed off the beautiful charm of their space so guests can feel it through their website.
When working with interior designers, bed & breakfasts and any other interior photography work, it's important to me to show the space as you see it in person. For that reason, I avoid the crazy wide angle (commonly called fish eye) lenses because those are trying to fit the entire space into 1 image at the sacrifice of showing true proportions.
If you're a local Asheville B&B, I highly recommend scheduling landscaping work, a window cleaning and a photographer walk-thru prior to the photo session.
Sharing a few favorites below!
Miranda Wildman and I have been working together for many months now since she is one of my Seasonal Package clients. We get together 4x throughout the year for photos sessions that last up to 3 hours each. The best part of this package is you get to update your image collection with 4 different sessions so you constantly have photos to choose from for social media, marketing and your website!
For Miranda, we focused on portraits and highlighting the custom artwork that she sells. We chose a location based on ease, aesthetic and logistics. For this session, we landed at The Foundry in downtown Asheville, a new hotel full of charm.
We highlighted Miranda's paintings, the transfer of her work onto pillows for sale and many portraits! Miranda included 4 outfit changes. Variety is one of my favorite things to focus on in a session and I love that we fit so much in within 3 hours.
Miranda also had a one-of-a-kind mobile art piece that we included in the shoot. This piece isn't for sale but it speaks to Miranda's spirited, colorful and creative personality, see below! Personal touches such as this really connect you with your audience and give you a story to share.
Letting yourself have fun during a shoot is one of the best things you can do, the images show your vibe and excitement! Miranda and I discussed preparation several times before the shoot so she could just let it all go and have fun with the day actually arrived.
How could a session like this help you and your business?
How can photos like this help tell your story and share your brand?
I recently got photos taken with my husband for our 5 year wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful experience, our photographer is a good friend and it was worth every penny. That being said, I'm still a human, still a female in 2019 who thinks about how she looks in photos. And I realized a few things based on how I viewed the photo gallery.
I had a first reaction, a second reaction, a third reaction and I assume I’ll have a fresh point of view years from now when we look back on these. Spoiler alert, I'm very excited to keep looking back on these!
1. First look at the gallery: I did a precursory of the collection to find a few faves and I was simultaneously very aware of how I looked in a few non-fave photos ("my nose looks big there, my chin is 2 chins there, is that how I look when I laugh?"). And these thoughts are coming from me, a photographer!
2. Upon a second look, I loosened up a little and started looking at the entire photo. I enjoyed seeing Philip and I make each other laugh and play. I liked thinking about my sweet friend Amelia taking the photos and giving us fun directions. I remember being so happy I asked her to photograph us because the experience was laid back and fun, something I hope to provide to all of my clients.
3. And on my third look I loosened up even more and saw the beauty in every image. I saw why my talented photographer grabbed this image and how each of them stood alone as a special memory. Those memories are worth so much more than how I look in the photo. I envisioned myself in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years looking back on these and I smiled thinking I'll say "damn, I was a babe".
I'd like to wrap this up with a quick tip on picking your photographer.
Understand your photographer's approach. Some photographers aim for a natural and organic feel so they won't be photoshopping away every little thing (this is my approach and same for Amelia, who took these images of us) and some photographers specialize in a beauty transformation with hair, makeup, special lighting and a bit more retouching (a glam portrait session). Consider which is better for your use of the photos and what's important to you!
And then trust your photographer. You may not LOVE every single image delivered but if you trust them and their perspective, you'll see there's more to that image than what first appears.
Still hesitant? I've got some tips on the ol "but I'm so awkward" battle cry in this blog post!
“I want to look good in my wedding/engagement/professional pics but I’m so awkward!!”
"We’ve never had our photos professionally taken."
"We don't like having our photos taken but we want to make the most of the experience."
This is what I hear before almost every single shoot. You're in good company!
1. Take comfort in the fact that I swiftly delete any photos where I think either of you don’t look great. I don't require you to look like a supermodel but I also never want you to cringe looking at an image of yourself! My goal is to shoot and edit in a flattering manner, always.
That being said, how I see you will be different than how you see you, how your mom sees you or how your new spouse sees you. We all have different points of view and I think that’s such a gift.
If I see a profesh image of myself (I walk you through my actual reactions to my anniversary pics here) and I’m not thrilled with it but I know my photog would never have sent me an image where he or she thinks I look bad, it means that they see something positive where I see something negative. It means that there is beauty in flaws. It means that if I walk out of my house with a bad hair day, I’m likely the only one to notice. It means that when I feel a lil frumpy, others don’t care. We are our own worst critics, wouldn’t it be nice if we gave ourselves more grace and ignored the flyaway or the extra 5lbs of Thanksgiving weight? Wouldn’t it be nice if we looked at a photo of ourselves and saw the joy our the smile instead of the size of our arm?
2. Part of my job is to guide you as needed (when the light is bad, we switch angles / when my angle is unflattering, I adjust my viewpoint). I will guide you! Listen to the guidance because there are likely at least 3-5 reasons the photographer is giving that instruction.
3. What about when guidance isn’t an option? I'll also capture candid moments and special details where guidance would ruin the magic. So I still shoot shoot shoot and if I find later the shot isn’t salvageable, I’ll delete it. If the photo needs tweaking then I manage that in my editing process. I cannot treat a wedding day like a photo shoot, it just doesn't work that way! And that's why we get so many beautiful candid images. So guidance is great but realness is too - I'll adjust accordingly!
4. I have yet to meet a couple who hasn’t claimed to be awkward, uncomfortable, nervous or downright unexcited about getting their pics taken. Seriously, none! So if you like the images you see that I share on my website, please know that they all felt the same way you do. You’re in good company because I’ve worked with some really fun, sweet and often introverted couples who feel nervous and we always make it work.
5. I’m shooting for you! I'm not taking photos to fill a quota, to improve my Instagram or to practice my skills. I'm taking photos to fulfill your photo needs and I’m thinking of you the entire time. So share how you’re feeling, tell me what could help and let me know if you only want photos of your left side 😉
We got this, don't stress.
A little late to posting this cuteness but now it's time to share!
MOTHER Magazine and the East Fork family invited me along for an afternoon of matching PJs, art on the porch and a stroll in the neighborhood. Connie gave an inspiring (an overused adjective but still applicable) interview for all the parents out there doing the hard work.
In Asheville, we’re fortunate to live in a caring community, one whose members trend toward being proactive citizens. Ashevillians care about the well-being of their environment and fellow citizens, and make an effort to support locally owned businesses and causes.
As a local business owner, I don’t take this culture of caring for granted, and neither should you. Being an engaged, responsible small business owner is just part of the job. In order to create relevant and meaningful relationships with our customers, we as business owners must show our community that we care, just like they do. Here are a few fulfilling ways to put your values into action...
1. Choose causes aligned with your values or company mission. Let’s pretend that you're a graphic designer who consumes a fair amount of printed paper products. Maybe you align with Dogwood Alliance and become more environmentally friendly!
You may need to tap into your personal journey to find the perfect cause. For example, if you’re a clothes designer who started your own company because you could never fit into commonly offered sizes, you might support organizations that boost confidence and self esteem in young ladies.
2. Go out on the front lines for your cause. There are many ways, beyond monetarily, to show up for your chosen cause. Donate time, skills, and energy. Most, if not all, of the nonprofit organizations in Western North Carolina are in need of volunteers to fulfill their missions and to offer critical services. Volunteering comes in many forms. You might walk dogs or clean kennels for a local animal rescue group. Perhaps you can become a coach or mentor with the local YWCA’s youth programs, work in the gardens at Green Opportunities, or clean the French Broad with RiverLink.
3. Make your partnership visible.
Talk it up on your website, shout about it on social media, start a fundraiser or donations-drive, have a money box on your checkout counter or option to donate during checkout, and put a sticker in your window! Let your customers know what you care about and what you’re doing about it! You’ll give them a reason to ask why and get involved. Promoting your support and community partnership surely benefits your cause. A secondary but super positive effect of your philanthropy is the trust and admiration you will cultivate in your customers.
Most business owners and consumers in Asheville think beyond bottom lines and profit margins. It’s common practice and has come to be expected for local businesses to invest in their community in meaningful ways. While helping others is a deeply fulfilling and leads to personal betterment, it’s also a critical way to showcase your company’s values and commitments.
So, go spread the love and find a cause to promote. You’ll be glad you did.
Since you're hanging out on this blog, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you love small businesses, you want to shop local and you enjoy supporting entrepreneurs + artists. Me too, friend!
I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's not always an easy option to do so. Pricing may be higher, supplies may be limited, custom orders may take a moment longer. Small businesses are multifaceted powerhouses in a small package with, yes, some limitations compared to Wal-Mart.
So how can you show love when you're not ready to click "Confirm" on that online shopping cart?
Leave a review for any place you've shopped or any service you've received in the recent past. Maybe you splurged on a tarot reading session this summer and you know you won’t be able to get another session for a while. For now, leave them a review on Facebook, Google or spread the word on Instagram about them. Word-of-mouth is everything. I just left a review for my dentist because the service was so great!
Maybe you can’t afford to buy that $300 dress a local artist handmade but maybe your best friend can + when she’s looking for a new outfit, you can send her to that maker. Friends love referrals, it takes away all that time Googling things, you're giving them a shortcut - yessss.
Follow + engage!
Just because you’re not a current customer doesn’t mean that you haven’t been or that you won’t be in the future. Encouragement and support can fuel someone to keep working, keep improving and keep providing their best work. Your support goes a long way to a small business owner.
If you inquire with someone about their services and you find that they’re simply out of your price range or the scheduling won't work, don’t be afraid to let them know that. I’m not saying that they owe you a discount or that they'll be able to open their schedule but all feedback is helpful to small business owners. Maybe they'll let you know that a sale is coming up, maybe they'll let you know about a local discount or maybe they'll collect that feedback and realize a pattern they can fix. If done with care and good intention, all feedback is useful, don't be shy!
Cheers to buying, browsing, reviewing and supporting small businesses no matter what!
Ever journey through the interwebs in search of something specific, only to land on a company’s website with images of awkwardly posed models who are very clearly not the employees of said company? Perhaps you’ve come across a perfectly captured high five between (fake) colleagues or hell, even a bemused professional carrying a handful of balloons and a briefcase, enjoying the breeze.
Of course, not all generic stock images are as bewildering as the ones above.
In fact, most are bland.
Entrepreneurs and business owners who choose to use generic stock photography in their online marketing are playing a game of “what fits best,” rather than acting intentionally and strategically to form relationships with their intended audiences. It’s hard to evoke curiosity or loyalty in potential customers using cold and corny images that are likely replicated all over the internet. So, what’s the answer?
Custom stock photography. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?
Why Are Brands Using “Custom Stock Photography”?
Custom stock photography tends to have the opposite effect of generic stock photography. Brand-specific, custom stock photos differentiate businesses from their competitors. When used consistently, custom stock photos will convey a brand’s personality and values, enhancing a brand’s ability to genuinely connect with their customers. Custom stock images bring clarity to a company’s expertise, services, and the intended customer experience.
Capturing Images with Intention
A typical custom stock photography shoot may include environmental shots (your office or workspace), product shots, and shots of the company's team engaging with others, serving clients, and generally doing the things they do best.
Let’s dive into the benefits of custom stock photography, using my lovely client Caroline Sanney as an example.
Using her own home office as the setting of this shoot, Caroline conveyed competence, organization, and expertise without saying a word. She has the necessary tools for the job, a functional pragmatism, and a clean aesthetic. The information conveyed in these images builds a relationship with her potential clients before she’s even approached by them.
Actually showing Caroline immersed in her work and smiling warmly creates a genuine first impression; rather than randomly styled models pretending to have the best business meeting of their lives, she offers her own face, furthering the notion that she is a real professional and that she can back up the claims she makes about the services she offers. Her personality shines through in her decor and the way she carries herself. It’s clear that she's calm, intelligent, and careful in her work - keywords to describe her brand.
Ultimately, investing in custom stock photography is about harnessing the power of intentional imagery and cashing in on your authenticity. It’s about being crystal clear in your communications to customers and future clients.
And, it’s about standing out and being memorable in a sea of cheesy handshakes.
Let’s start by throwing away the trigger phrases "finding balance" and "we can have it all."
Perhaps you can do these things, but honestly, that needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis. When it comes to your self-employed hustle in Asheville, the same answer does not hold true for everyone. That being said, I would love to share some of my experience and tips with you on how to make your small business your full-time livelihood (if you want that!) and stay sane as a creative, maker, or artist in a town that we all love ...but that certainly has its own unique set of challenges.
1. Protect yourself from the “working 24/7” burnout.
I put my phone away after dinner 90% of the time to allow my brain to clear. Since my phone connects me to Instagram, Facebook, and email, the lines are blurred between work and play/relaxation.
Accepting that Instagram (for example) is equal parts work and play for me, I decide to stay away from it altogether when I need a work break, because the boundary is too blurry (because, for instance, I could be scrolling for fun and then get 2 DMs about potential sessions).
Personally, I’ve tried to accept only 2 shoots per week. As a self-employed photographer, I have found that understanding my working capacity affects everything else in my life in a positive way. It also gives me structure and familiarity.
By giving myself this work rhythm, I know there are days every week when I can focus on admin tasks or editing or having a full day off. It’s when I overcommit myself and agree to 3, 4 or 5 shoots in a week that everything else starts to fall behind, and I feel really overwhelmed. What boundaries can you create that will have a positive domino effect elsewhere?
3. Earning money, supporting yourself and feeling secure financially is important.
Don’t be ashamed of that, and don’t force yourself to let go of part time work before you or your business is ready. Release yourself from judgment about working on your art OR having a side gig. Both are important, and both are fueling your future. Accept the situation you’re in, and embrace it for all it is. I worked a second job up until 2 years ago, and I firmly believe it’s the only reason I got to where I am today.
4. Being discerning and knowing your bandwidth.
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to say no to some things in order to say yes to others. Are you talented and wanted, but refuse to turn down offers for fear of missing out or disappointing? In saying yes too much, do you overextend or sabotage yourself? If this sounds like you, my best recommendation is to read Essentialism by Greg McKeown - a recent fave business-yet-lifestyle book.
Here’s an example of mitigating your self-employed hustle: There’s a high expectation for you to make homemade cookies for your daughter‘s elementary school bake sale, and you would love to do it. It sounds fun and you wish you had a free afternoon to really enjoy that activity... but the only afternoon you have available this week really needed to be devoted to your work on a commissioned piece of art. So, maybe you decide to focus on the commissioned work, because you have a deadline and someone is paying you. Then, you can buy premade cookies from Whole Foods, Short Street, or Ingles. It’s about making that decision and letting yourself be OK with whatever decision you make.
5. Know your rhythms.
I know a few people who light up right around 9 PM and start having all kinds of inspirational ideas and energy to really work on their side gig/art/whatever. Some of us feel that jolt in the morning. Understand how your rhythms and natural energy works, then do your best to build around that. Of course, that’s not always possible and we have to be flexible, so that we can tend to other responsibilities as professionals, parents, or community members. Simply start by observing your natural tendencies and trying to make yourself available to them.
There’s no secret to becoming a self-employed hustler, but giving yourself the routines and habits to induce creative productivity will go a long way. And once you’re productive, it’ll show up in your experience. You’ll build a portfolio and/or track record of success. Then, with a little focused effort in self care and setting boundaries, you’ll build a sustainable foundation and hopefully, you’ll avoid the dreaded “burn out,” too. Eventually, you will find yourself in a place where you are doing the thing that is so close to your heart, and getting paid to do it, with only yourself as your boss. And that, my friends, is fulfillment.