Can I just say that I feel incredibly blessed this week with work! I get to laugh with all of you and your husbands on Tuesday, read sweet emails from you yesterday about your excitement for the Seattle CONFIDENCE Wkshp (we SOLD OUT by the end of the day!), and then feature an amazing mom today as I head to LA for a special Mom Event. I can’t think of better women to spend my time with, especially inspiring ones like Lora! She shared so much good info and honest experience in today’s interview, Lora even included an image from her first paid photo shoot (see below). Isn’t that great of her!
Your going to love this new Amazing Mom interview! With great excitement, I’d love for you to all meet Lora Ayers!
1. When did you start your business and what was the turning point of taking it from a hobby to a business of charging people and putting up a website?
Last June I received an email from a distant friend with a photography website link – I spent hours looking at her pictures. I’ve always enjoyed art and thought my husband/kids were all I needed to be happy, but now I was completely inspired to do more! My friend also gave me a list of other photographer’s blogs to check out. I found Me Ra’s blog and fell in love! I started with the very first blog post and read every single one of her posts. Based on a past Christmas wish list post from Me Ra’s blog, I decided to buy a used Canon 30D. I had no idea how to use the buttons and dials, so I took a starter class at a technical school. I was on my way!
Next I chose to purchase Me Ra’s Portrait 101 Kit, which is what gave me the know-how to transition a love for photography into a photography business.
Her Portrait 101 Kit is packed with all kinds of important information that you need to get your business up and running – including Me Ra’s story and how she got started. I was encouraged to start shooting at a price I was comfortable with and to begin blogging. All my camera had was a kit lens, so I rented an 85mm f1.8 lens and started calling some of my pregnant friends to do maternity/newborn photos. I posted some of the pictures on my blog and then sent an email out to friends and family to let them know about my newfound passion. The turning point for my business was after someone scheduled a paid session last October. She was very influential and sent EVERYONE to my blog to see her pictures because she loved them so much. This resulted in a stream of paid clients that keep booking me (mostly through word of mouth) today!
2. What inspires your photography?
It sounds so simple, but the first thing I think of is raw emotion. Whether it is a newly engaged couple,
a family with a new baby, or a dad’s joy (and sadness) while dancing with his daughter on her wedding day,
I want to capture all kinds of emotional moments that will transport people to that place/time/feeling.
3. What inspires you as a person, artist?
There has always been a part of me that loved to create, but most of all, I love having fun and making others happy.
I’m not sure how this fits in, but I have always been inspired by people who have gone through extreme circumstances and/or challenges, both physical and emotional, and have still been able to imagine and achieve their dreams.
I can’t separate my personal and artistic inspiration; maybe I’ll learn how to do that in an upcoming Me Ra blog post!
4. What made you decide to do photography as more than a hobby? What was your turning point?
I bought my first DSLR days after falling in love with photography. From the beginning, I had my heart set on starting a business. The biggest turning point was when I followed Me Ra’s advice in the Portrait 101 kit and started a blog. My friends and family did most of my marketing by sending complete strangers there to check out my work!
5. What are the classes/workshops/DVDs that you’ve watched to teach yourself photography? Were they helpful?
I have learned so much from Me Ra’s blog… seriously! From big decisions, like which camera to buy, to smaller tips and tricks; even how to do a family session and bark like a dog, which I do often. I haven’t had too many moms barking yet because usually they are in the photos or too shy, so it’s left to ME! “Ruff! Ruff!”
Those items have helped me tremendously, but when I couldn’t find something or needed a quick answer, Google was always there to lend a hand.
Another extremely helpful thing is when I met a good friend on Me Ra’s blog. Ali won a photo contest for the “wet dog” picture, so I emailed her and we’ve been friends ever since. She had started a photography business and was willing to share her experiences with me. I’ve called her for advice and encouragement several times and she has helped me to get where I am today. I appreciate her so much. (Hi Ali!)
6. What is one piece of marketing advice that you can give our newbies? (something that you did to get your name out there)
My best advice is to get a blog and/or Facebook presence, shoot something/anything, and post often. I just booked a wedding
with someone who saw my Facebook fan-page, and the coolest thing is that you can tag your clients and then all their friends will end up coming to your page and possibly become new fans. The best part is that most online marketing is FREE. Another piece of advice is to find a photographer who will let you tag along on one of their shoots or weddings to help (anyway you can – hold stuff, pose people, or maybe even second shoot). Doing this gave me so much confidence.
7. What was your first “paid” shoot like? How did you feel on the way, during and after?
My first paid – non-family/friend – shoot went pretty well. It was a family of four with two preschoolers.
I was very nervous while driving to meet them at their house, and I followed them to different locations that THEY had picked out. The first one happened to be on a golf course, so we had to hurry because golfers were waiting on us! Can you imagine?! It is my first paid shoot and there are golfers rushing me… AAAH! It got better toward the end when everyone (myself included) started to relax and have fun. I loved capturing them rolling around in the fall leaves and playing together. Afterwards, I kept stopping the car to review the photos, because I couldn’t relax until I knew there were some good shots in there. The clients looked at their photos later that week and loved them! As their positive comments poured in, so did the self-assurance that I had been missing.
8. What is the best and toughest part about doing this while being a mom and wife at the same time?
The best part is working at home during the week and being available whenever my family needs me. When it’s time for a shoot on the weekends, I take off and it’s “Daddy Duty.” I love getting out of the house and being creative, and my husband and kids have that special time together, so it works out great!
The toughest part is that I have to choose between things I love. When I’m on my computer editing, I’m thinking of my two year-old bored in the next room. I feel the drive to be better and learn more, but finding the time ‘to become’ means that something else suffers (usually housework – maid, anyone?!). My life’s dream of being a wife/mother now has to blend with my passion for photography.
9. What is one piece of advice you’d give to newbies?
Sorry, I couldn’t pick… I have 2 pieces of advice:
#1 – Shoot A LOT! When I first started shooting friends and family I made so many mistakes, but I learned so much. Every time I gave it a go, I would learn something new.
#2 – Connect with people who share your passion. I can’t say enough about how much it has helped me to make ‘photog’ friends, and most of them are out of state. With the Internet and cell phones, it’s possible to connect with anyone.
I just wanted to add that I am a woman who has dealt with a fear of rejection all my life. I usually made up for it by being extremely bubbly, or others may say “the life of the party”. I never had enough confidence to pursue a career whole heartedly for fear of failing. Whenever I thought of possibilities for my future, my past failures and my fear of rejection were there to stop me. I thought that by being the best mother I could be that I had reached my potential, I never allowed myself to think any further than that. When I look back at how photography came into my life, and how I had a dream and went after it without hesitation, I am really amazed and proud of myself. Finally I let go and pursued something that I wanted so badly, and I didn’t let my “junk” get in the way.
Lora sent me the last paragraph of her interview a couple days later than the rest. When I read it, I was so inspired. Lora, it took so much courage to share your own struggles with rejection, but you have no idea how many people will be blessed by that last paragraph of raw honesty. Thank you so much for not only the last paragraph, but ALL your wonderful thoughts and beautiful images. I still can’t get over you and Ali meeting through the comments on this blog. I LOVE hearing those kinds of stories! And I’m so glad the blog has been a source of inspiration for you. It means the world to hear that. Thank you for all your time and sharing your passion with such an open heart!
Lora has never been to a CONFIDENCE Workshop, but I was thrilled when I heard how much our Portrait 101 Kit helped her business. In honor of Lora’s great interview, Brian and I thought it’d be fun to offer our readers a 20% discount today on our Portrait 101 Kit. We’ve had so many people tell us this 101 Kit made their day! To take advantage of it, CLICK HERE , and when you check out enter the Coupon Code AMAZINGMOM. Enjoy!
To see more of Lora’s beautiful work, click LORA’S WEBSITE!
To order your own copy of our Award Winning DVDs, see below!
I also invite you to ask Lora your questions in the comments. I know she would love to hear your thoughts!
Much love from my office 35K ft in the air, Me Ra
p.s. Check out the last three Amazing Mom features? If so, check them out here!
1. Interview w/ Leslie Webber from Indianapolis, Indiana!
2. Interview w/ Michelle Riddle from Santa Cruz, CA!
3. Interview w/Tracie Stier-Johnson from Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
A new one to come next week!
p.s.s. AND, would you like to be featured on our blog too?
If you have attended our workshop, purchased one of our five 101 Kits , or watched our DVDs, and feel like your life has taken a new and wonderful turn for the better, then please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will send you directions on how to be featured. We can’t promise to feature everyone, but I want to do this type of blog post more and more. Hundreds of people have sent us the most amazing emails regarding our workshops and DVDs impacting their life, their before and after photos, their revived passion; I would love for all of you to hear those stories!
The SEATTLE CONFIDENCE Workshop SOLD OUT last night! Wow, that was lightning fast! But we still have a few spots left in the Minneapolis CONFIDENCE Workshop! The Minneapolis seats are the only spots left for a 2009 CONFIDENCE Workshop. To grab one, CLICK HERE !
Want to learn more about Framing, Composition, Blurry Backgrounds and Lighting? Check out our Award Winning DVDs, Refuse to Say Cheese and Beyond the Green Box (They are BACK IN STOCK!! Yeah!!), or discover our popular 101 Kits for starting or expanding a business in photography, click on the titles of your choice!