A Summery Maternity Session by Sydney Tolifson Photography

This summer maternity session is so eye-catching!  I love the variety of poses Sydney takes of the expecting couple, and also how she incorporates landscape and movement in her images to add interest.  Great work, Sydney!

In Sydney's words:

"This session was so much fun, but I know this poor momma got her steps in for that day. We were all over the place! Taryn and her husband are welcoming their first baby girl in September. I really loved the tones and feel of this session! This momma has the perfect pregnancy glow we all hope for."

Gear:

Contax 645, Portra 400, The FIND Lab

See more of Sydney's work here:

website | facebook | instagram

Sweet Family Session by Leanne Vice Photography

Leanne's use of light and location pair so well with her subjects.  It's just beautiful!  And who doesn't love big smiling baby cheeks?!

Leanne says:

"This session is very special to me because baby Levi is my nephew! It is amazing seeing your sibling, especially your younger sibling, become a parent. Nina and Cody are so in love with that baby boy, it is just precious! (And yes, Cody IS a bodybuilder.)

This shoot was to celebrate Levi turning 6 months old and took place in south Florida, where they live. The light in this spot was incredible, and Levi was such a good boy for me!"

Gear Info:

Hasselblad H1 + 100mm 2.2

Portra 400

Photovision dev+scan

Leanne is a Nashville-area portrait photographer that specializes in babies and families. She is mom to 3 boys under four years old and loves Netflix documentaries and all things Rosemary Mint.

See more of Leanne's work here:

website | facebook | instagram

On Vacation

Hey friends!  We're taking a little time to enjoy summer while it's still here!  Keep on eye on Instagram and Facebook, as we a busy sharing beautiful film photos there.  And we'll see you back here on the blog soon!

xoxox,
The Little Bellows Team

Perfectionism is Ruining Your Business

Many people in creative fields can be perfectionists, especially photographers, florists, wedding planners and people who need to care about the details. I am constantly on the look for the perfect light and space, to put hair and clothing in their proper place, and to make sure it doesn’t look like a tree or a lamp post is coming out of my clients head. My attention to detail is has become my super power over the years. I don’t know why the X-Men franchise hasn’t brought on “Highly Aware of Every Detail Girl,” but, in my own life, I truly do feel like the Syndey Bristow of Wedding Photographers.

This super powerful attention to detail comes with it’s very own nemesis—a dark, evil, horrible case of perfectionism that has plagued me ever since I was first praised for being perfect.  We live in a society where it’s almost impossible for a woman not to be plagued and haunted with perfectionism. Every day we see perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect eye lashes, perfectly plumb lips, breast that are always pointing upwards. If we frequent instagram, we also see women always happy and sexy and hipster and sometimes baking cakes and their houses are all white and all perfect, and it doesn’t help.

Two years ago, I went on a mission eradicate perfectionism from my life and business, and the results were overwhelming in their success. Here are the top three ways that perfectionism was ruining my life and my business and what I did about it.

1.     Perfectionists Get Less Done—perfectionists just take longer to get things done. Time truly is money. Time is our most valuable commodity that we have. We can never get back all the wasted hours we spent on over editing our photos. Perfectionists take longer choosing websites designs, putting together marketing material, or debating on what to publish and how to publish blog posts. They doubt themselves at every turn and do not want to put anything out in the open that they do not deem as perfect. This is a vicious cycle because perfectionism does not exist. I now limit myself on the time I take to make decisions. I let my assistant blog for me even though I do not always like how she does this (she really is a saint to work for me). I make faster decisions on new websites, newsletter layouts, and just go with my very first inclination on most things even thought 80% of the time I know they could be better, but I also know they are good enough for now.  There are a million ways that I have implemented over the past two years that have cut my perfectionism by at least 75%. It feels lighter, business flows easier, and clients are actually happier.

2.     Perfectionists Let “Rejection” Affect Their Behavior— How many of you get a client who doesn’t like something you created and you let it immediately affect your state of mind and being? You want to crawl into bed and you question why you ever decided to run your own business. Whether an inquiry decides to go with another photographer, a client doesn’t like their photos, or you have a bride that just refuses to follow communication norms and just harasses you.  These kinds of occurrences are going to happen any time you run a business, and it does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. One of my favorite quotes by Tony Robbins says, “Your biggest problem is that you think you shouldn’t have any.” Perfectionists think that if they do everything perfectly than all the results should lead to perfection. This is just not reality and can cause for a lot of heartache and questioning of “what did I do to attract this!!!”. To which I want to say, “baby, this is life!” The sooner you can detach your emotions from your perceived rejection—the sooner you can deal with the issues at hand like a badass and continue moving forward. I truthfully do not even use the word “rejection” in my business or when I am on Tinder. 

Taking a purely emotional response to problems is the number one reason why female-based businesses fail—they take the normal day-to-day problems and internalize it as simple meaning they are not good enough. If you constantly feel like you are failing, then your business is going to fail. I am a very empathic person and often take on the energy of those around me. When I get an angry email, I immediately feel that negativity and go into stress mode. It used to stay with me for weeks—like a dark hole in the pit of my stomach accompanied by feelings of helpless to change the situation. I have now recognized in myself that when I get a negative, sad, or upset email or phone call—my first reaction might be to mirror those feelings. Because I know this, I have set in place at least five rituals that I use to get me out of my state of suffering and put me back into a happy state of prosperity and productiveness. The rituals are too long to list here, but most of them include getting present, dealing with what is, not projecting into the future, and detaching from the emotions and looking at the facts. When we can look at the facts as they are (instead of creating a story around why they are what they are) then we can solve them. This is often a more masculine way of operating, but when I am running my business, I do tend to take on more of a masculine energy (if you haven’t delved into the wonderful world of masculine and feminine energy traits, I highly recommend it!). 

3.     Perfectionists Put Others Before Themselves—here is the root problem: Perfectionism is truly just a mask for shame.  We feel shame that we aren’t good enough, that we can’t do it all, and that we have flaws.  Most people who have struggled with perfectionism are really just struggling to find self-acceptance. We have subconsciously decided that to be worthy of love and significance we have to be perfect. Perfectionism is often tied to eating disorders (which I have had and still struggle with), with a desire to always appear happy and fine, with the inexplicable need to have straight As in school (and an A- usually meant weeks and weeks of consuming self hatred), and so many other red flags that are simply tied with us not loving ourselves enough. When we put everyone else before us it can mean staying up all hours of the day and night to email and edit, it means booking clients during the mornings when you really want to be taking a yoga class, it means making exceptions and casting aside the activities that would serve you best so that you can accommodate everyone around you. When you release this perfectionism—this need to please—when you release it, your business still succeeds, in fact, it thrives, because you are rested and happy and have done the things that you need to do to fill your cup instead of trying to fill everyone else's. This is the hardest one to grasp, but I recommend starting simple. One of the best things you can do is have a business or life coach, join a supportive mastermind, or find other levels of support from women who can see you clearly for who you are.  Avoid hanging out with critical, negative, and Debbie Downer type people.  Take time each morning to do things that put you in a positive, happy, and joyful frame of mind.

In conclusion, perfectionism is not some cute little personality trait we can live with, it is the vilest of villains and we need to f*cking murder it dead. The end.

Did you like this article? Make sure to follow me on Instagram for more business tips or schedule a free 30 minute coaching session to work through any blocks you may have towards your business. 

VENDORS: Dress: Leanne Marshall Ribbon: Poetry of Silk Bouquets: Ava Floral (www.avafloral.com)

 

A Chance Encounter

I just had the loveliest thing happen!  

I was outside working in my garden, and saw an older man, probably in his 70’s, walk slowly down the sidewalk in font of my house.  He had an old Nikon 35mm camera and as he walked, he would stop and just look through the lens every couple of steps.  I watched him do this for about five minutes before deciding to go talk to him.

I introduced myself, saying that I’d notice he shooting film, and that I shoot film as well. We talked about film stocks and old cameras, and then I asked him what he was photographing.  His response was great.   He said “nothing yet”!   

He went on tell me about why he still shoots film.  “When I shoot film, I think about each frame I’m making.  I look through the camera and analyze what I’m seeing.  The colors.  The textures. The light. I then ask myself if what I’m seeing is really what I want a photo of.  Most of the time it’s not.  But the slowness of the process lets me be in the moment, fully.  It’s my meditation.”

I thought it was beautiful and summed up why I shoot film too.  I love the slowness.  I love to think about my film stock and how it will effect the colors and the light. It’s fun.  And relaxing.

My new friend has inspired me.  I’m going to turn off my computer.  Load my camera.  And just go for a walk to see what I can find.  Maybe I won’t find anything.  Maybe I won’t shoot a single frame.  But maybe I will.  

Today this will be my meditation.  To just be in the world, be slow, and really see it.

Sandra Coan, film photography Little Bellows

South Carolina Maternity Session with Leanne Haskins Photography

I can't stop looking at Leanne's stunning images!  Her use of backlight, choosing the fuji film stock for the skin tones and pop of red, her sister's outfit choice and the hat.  The HAT.  I also love her posing choices and variety of shots, and last, her creativity with focus points are just gorgeous.  

In Leanne's words:

"This maternity session is especially close to my heart as this gorgeous mother is my younger sister.  We were in South Carolina visiting family for Thanksgiving.  They live just outside of Greenville in the foothills providing us with the perfect backdrop for the session.  I live on the coast so it was great to get away from the typical beach scene of sand, waves, and shear dresses and into the rolling green hills with a cable-knit dress and floppy wool hat.  I hope you enjoy these images as much as I do!"

  • Camera: 35mm Canon Elan 7E SLR, 85mm 1.2L, 135mm 2L lenses
  • Film: Fuji400H 35mm film
  • Lab:  Richard Photo Lab

Thank you for sharing your work with us, Leanne!

See more of Leanne's work here:

website | facebook | instagram

 

 

Top 5 Film 365

I'm continually drawn to your beautiful summertime 365 photos; even more so because it's raining in Seattle today!  I've added camera and film specs, so be sure to add those to your hashtags if you'd like me to share them.  Portra 400 was a favorite this round!  Keep tagging your images #lbfilm365 for a chance to be featured!

  angelicachang_  using Portra 400 with her Contax 645

angelicachang_ using Portra 400 with her Contax 645

  pinkyyoshimoto  on Portra 400

pinkyyoshimoto on Portra 400

  gwennmcgill  on Ektar with her Nikons

gwennmcgill on Ektar with her Nikons

  laurennygard   using Portra 400 with her Mamiya AFD

laurennygard  using Portra 400 with her Mamiya AFD

  littlekauaigirl  on Agfa Vista with her Nikon F100

littlekauaigirl on Agfa Vista with her Nikon F100

A Night at Kiddie Park by Maria Manco Photography

When looking at Maria's photos, I could smell the popcorn and elephant ears, hear the delightful screams of kids enjoying all the rides and feel the warm setting sun on my face.  Add in the bonus of these awesome summertime colors captured on film!  I love your documentary work, Maria.

In Maria's words:

"This wasn't a planned shoot - just my own kids as we spent an evening at kiddie park.  Kiddie park is a magical place for kids aged 6 and under.  It's small (about 9 rides and mini golf) and all the rides are for pint sized people.  I have many of my own childhood memories here and its awesome to get to take my kids."

  •   Camera: Canon EOS3 and sigma 35mm art lens
  •   Film:Fuji 400h rated at 200 and then pushed +1
  •   Lab: The FIND lab

You can see more of Maria's work here:

website | facebook | instagram

Summertime got you Frazzled? Here are my Top 5 Outsourcing Vendors!

My kids don't do camp.  So when summer comes around it takes a bit of an adjustment period for all of us to get our ducks in order.  We have lazy mornings, mid-day swim lessons and pool time, late lunches, and afternoon errands or play dates.  Which leaves me in a pinch.  I still have work to do.  But I have some great tricks.  Maybe you already know about these, or maybe they're new for you too.  I hope they can help you streamline your to-do list and regain some precious time back for summer.

Below are my top 5 outsourcing go-tos in the summer so I can still get my job done, stay sane, and have time for my kids:

1.  Part-time nanny or sitter.  Yep, I outsource my mommy responsibilities sometimes.  I schedule out my sessions and office hours into blocks of 2-4 hours, then hire (or this year it is plead) my nephew to come hang out with the kids (which he always does willingly, btw).  I don't feel guilty with them lounging around doing screen time while I try to catch up on blog posts.  They instead get some good cousin time in and I can efficiently get work done, then put it away.  Win/win.

2.  I use Later.com to schedule and post my instagram feeds.  It has been a life saver.  I have two (and soon three) accounts I manage:  one for my film 365, one for my business kimhildebrandphoto, and another one (its still a secret but you'll be the first to know)!  I used to email myself images, save them on my phone, then post them sporadically (aka when I remembered), and it was usually precluded by an "oh, shit, it's 7pm and I didn't post anything today!".  Well, Later.com changed all of that.  On this site, I can upload all images I want to use on all feeds into one big bucket.  I can then link all my accounts and schedule each post for each account at my ideal times.  Later.com even has a preview pane so I can do a quick check and make sure my feed looks well laid out and, ahem, beautiful.  How cool is that!  And the best thing?  They have an app, so i just hop on my phone, open IG to make sure I'm using the right account, then open the Later app and post the photo scheduled.  It even imports the caption I wrote.  The cavèat is, the free version allows me to use 30 posts (for all accounts).  So this means I still have to do some emailing of images.  But at this point I don't want to pay, and it is still so worth it!

3.  Bookkeeper.  I hired a bookkeeper early last year, actually, because I discovered I truly hate this part of my job.  So this isn't just a summer thing for me but it could be for you.  I send her my monthly checking and credit card statements securely through Quickbooks online, and she codes all transactions and reconciles all statements so I can a) get a quick snapshot of how my business is faring this month and b) have all my ducks in a row to pay quarterly taxes.  

4.  Editing.  Yep, you probably already guessed this one, but shooting film has been the single best thing I've done to free up my time.  No. More. Editing.  I've been keeping track of my time spent per session this year and compared it to how much time I was spending with digital, and the difference is staggering.  I used to spend at LEAST 10-15 hours per session (including email planning, shooting, downloading, culling, editing, uploading a gallery, sales, packaging, shipment, sneak peeks, blog post).  This year especially, now that I have my own Color PAC with Richard Photo Lab, my editing is virtually nonexistent save for the occasional head-swap and minor tweaks.  My time per session is now 3-4 hours max.  MAX.  I can shoot a session and not think about it for 5-7 days, then spend a couple hours doing the rest of the work until my clients see their images.

5.  Last, I now outsource any crazy technical computer stuff to Freelancer.com.  This company is amazing.  They find highly skilled freelancers to bid on whatever work you need done, from coding, migrating a website, SEO, designing a logo, and the list goes on and on.  I wasn't happy with my website but wanted to stick with Wordpress, so I hired someone to back up my website, install a new theme (while my old site still worked), and migrate my new website over while transferring and backing up all data.  It was only $100 and it took two weeks.  Most of that time was me designing the new site, though.  It took him 1 hour to make it live.  $100 for peace of mind is worth it to me!  I will definitely use them again.

A Road Trip Through Utah by Divya Pande Photography

Nothing says summer time like a good old fashion road trip!  And these stunning images by Divya Pande Photography make me want to pack up my car and head straight to Utah!  Wow!!

Here's what Divya has to say:

These images were shot on a summer road trip through the stunning national parks of Utah. I loved using film and Fuji 400H to capture the parks in a soft and pretty way. I don't know what I was expecting, but the parks completely exceeded all my expectation!

Divya Pande Photography, Little Bellows
Divya Pande Photography, Little Bellows
Divya Pande Photography, Little Bellows
Divya Pande Photography, Little Bellows
Divya Pande Photography, Little Bellows

See more of Divya's work.
Website | Facebook | Instagam

 

Sisterly Love by Erin Scabuzzo of Hello Pinecone

Erin of Hello Pinecone (love it!) amazed me with this set!  I love the bare feet, airstream, animals, and details captured here.  It makes me want to run out and find someone to photograph in the countryside, or at least make the leap and get our own chicken coop.  I think sometimes it can be awkward capturing teen girls together, but Erin has done it beautifully!

In Erin's words:

"It was shot where I live in the mountains of Topanga Canyon, CA and the two teenage sisters (15 and 18) that are also best friends. These images were shot around their home (the older sisters room is the airstream!!)  where we were surrounded by their large amount of rescued animals."
 

Gear: Canon eos 3 // HP5 & Fiji 400h

Lab:  FIND Lab

See more of Erin's work here:

website | Facebook | Instagram

I am a hack

Ever feel like that? Like you have no business doing what you are doing because you don’t know what that even is? Like maybe you have been taking yourself too seriously and then all the sudden it's like someone slapped you in the face so hard you came out of a daze. And in doing so you realized, "Holy shit. I’m a hack." 

I think we all might be hacks. Like we pull pieces of things we might know about this or that and make them work for us. In our own businesses. But is that right? Should we really be hacks at this profession that really is important? A profession that's more than a bunch of moms with nice cameras? Who do in fact WORK a full time job even though you might see them during the day at the pool with their kids?

This profession isn’t actually a job. It’s a commitment. Even more than a commitment. It’s saying every day that making photographs of families, kids, weddings, women, men, children, newborns, people, culture, whatever, is important and they should be seen by the world or maybe only by a small family of 4. But no matter what the subject or genre or style, photographs are important. They are someone’s history. An entire family's history. How can I be a hack at something that is so important?

Perhaps I’m going through what is fairly normal. The “every 18 month business crisis” that is so common with photographers and creatives. We question everything, especially our own ability, frequently. And for what? What comes of that? Are we too hard on ourselves? Or is it actually a sign that we have things to improve on. That maybe it’s ok we feel like hacks because it’s leading us to really look at what we are doing. How we are doing it. Who we are doing it for. 

I don’t know any of the answers. And I very probably shouldn’t even publish this. I don’t tend to get publicly vulnerable about my own business. I’m more of a “put on a good face and pretend everything is AMAZING” kind of gal. But sometimes, that’s simply not what comes naturally. Sometimes I need to feel all the things and then either laugh at myself next week for being ridiculous, or DO SOMETHING to make it different. 

I think, this time, I’m going to DO SOMETHING. 

I am not a hack. 

 
Meghan Boyer Photography
 

Family Session by Lea Ciceraro of Love Me Simply Photography

I'm a huge fan of Lea's work, so I was excited when I saw her submission come in.  I love how Portra 400's punchy colors enhanced the pops of color throughout this set, from the bright boots, and the reds in the tractor and chickens.  And I really want a baby goat.  Another farmhouse scene for the win!

In Lea's words:

"I photographed this sweet family about a month ago. They live in the same little North Carolina town as I do, and have the most adorable farmhouse and homestead that they have been restoring and enjoying for the last year or so. Three boys including a set of twins, chickens, dogs, goats, and the occasional frog or turtle caught in their pond. :) I showed up shortly after sunrise to enjoy that nice warm light before the heat of the day took over. Everyone was so laid back and relaxed, and we just had a blast exploring each and every nook of their homestead! My family sessions typically only last about an hour, but this one easily hit the 2-hour mark, and I think I could have stayed even longer just soaking it all in and taking even more photos! There was just so much love and positive energy... and what's not to love about photographing chickens and goats with film!?"

Gear:  Nikon F100 camera, Nikkor 50mm/f1.4 lens, Kodak Portra 400, in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Film processed and scanned by theFINDlab.

See More of Lea's work here:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Clichés

This week I read an article on Upworthy about clichés. I found so many of them to apply to my approach to my business I wanted to share a few of my favorite ones with you here. 

STRUGGLE IS GOOD

Anytime you are stuck in a corner and you have to fight your way out, you see what you are really made of. You are forced to think of a new way to do what you may have always done. We grow, our businesses grow. 

DON'T COMPLAIN

It' so hard. I know. But why spend our energy and focus on the negative. Breathe deep, and allow yourself 1 minute to say out loud whatever it is you want to complain about, and then don't allow it to have any more of your energy. Move on. It's most likely not worth it.

DON'T CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK

Man this one is maybe the most important in our industry. We are so often worried about what others think about our work because it's so personal. It's our art, our everything sometimes. But think about why you do it. Do you do it for other people? Or do you do it because there is something inside you that has to photograph? That has to make art? Forget everyone else. Be proud and keep growing.

DON'T JUDGE

This is directly related to the previous cliché. If you don't want others to be negative about you or your work, you should never pass judgement on to them. Not just because it's their art they are protecting too, but because you never ever know what someone else is going through. We are all human, and your judgements will bring negativity right back to you. 

NEVER LOOK BACK FOR TOO LONG

Only ever look at your old work to see how far you've come or to see your past mistakes should you need to be reminded of them once again. Looking at old work you are no longer proud of can make you feel good about your progress, but if looked at for too long, you may begin to question if you were ever any good to begin with. (I'm speaking from my own experience here!) 

newborn photograper maryland © Meghan Boyer Photography

There are 20 others in the original article I highly recommend you read. But these 5 are ones you can work on starting today. I know I'm going to.

SEO: What It Is And Why You Need To Understand It

I see posts all the time, almost daily, in FB groups asking about SEO. How do I get my SEO better? My SEO dropped how do I fix it quickly? I switched sites and now no one is finding me on google! Here's a breakdown of what SEO actually is, and why it's essential.

So. What is SEO. I'll completely admit right now that up until 2 years ago, I didn't REALLY understand what the heck it was. I know it meant Search Engine Optimization, but those were just words to me, I didn't really get it and I've had my website running for nearly 7 years.

SEO is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

Simple right? 

So now that we know what the heck it literally means, how do we actually use SEO on our sites? First look at your main site description. The meta description should be 150-160 characters long. That's the amount of space google gives you before the ... at the end of the blurb. You want to use keywords in this section as well as your location. Be brief and specific.

 
 

Next check out your page title. Your main site title should be under 70 characters. That's how much space google and other search engines give you for the main title of your page.  You'll want the most important keywords here along with the name of your business.

Google Analytics

Every website needs google analytics. It's an amazing tool that does everything for you. It tracks your clicks, your referrals, your traffic on your site, how long someone stays on your site and what pages they visit, the keywords that people use to find you, and your rank in a google serach for those keywords. There is so much more too. How familiar are you with your own google analytics?

If you don't have an analytics code for your site, do that right now. First thing. Go here and set that up. THEN go to your website and input it so google can start working for you today. It's easy to find where it goes. Look under your settings and analytics or SEO and you'll find it. 

Without some SEO work, your site will not be seen as much as you want it to. And if people can't find you, they aren't going to hire you. It's not always the most fun thing to learn, but it's essential. 

With so many photographers out there, you have to work a little harder on the behind the scenes stuff. Everyone's work is beautiful, and sometimes it can be hard to set yourself apart with just work alone. You have to be busy on the back end to make sure your work is seen before others. Get out there and get in front of more potential clients. 

This will be a regular topic going forward, with tips and things to do to get your site's SEO working for you. In addition, I have a PDF coming that will be much more thorough in explaining the steps you can take for your SEO. Check out the details here and enjoy the pre-sale price. It's set to be released mid-July!

HOMEWORK

Before the next SEO post in a few weeks, your homework is to make sure you have google analytics set up on your website. I'm willing to bet you do, so go in and check it, read through the numbers and start to gain an understanding of what those charts really mean. Don't be overwhelmed. Just look at it. It's just the beginning.