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BROOKE SNOW WANTS TO LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE BACKGROUND MUSIC PLAYS ALONG TO LIFE’S ADVENTURES, THE SMELL OF A NEW BABY CAN BE BOTTLED, AND MORNING NATURE WALKS HAPPEN EVERY MORNING. As a photographer, she’s been published in Where Women Create and Where Women Cook magazines, featured on the Huffington Post, The $100 Startup, and is a regular contributor to her local NBC lifestyle show Studio 5. A sought after instructor and speaker, when she’s not putting the magic into her next presentation, you can find her drooling over organic recipes, hiking with a mountain buggy carrying precious cargo, and hanging out in her Farm House with her fabulous little clan in Northern Utah. Her free course Living a Thriving Life is the perfect anecdote for those seeking balance in the midst of chaos. Discover how to create meaning in both your photos and your life at brookesnow.com.


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Last night after dinner, I glanced out the window at the empty lot across the street with gorgeous light peeking through the trees at the last hour of daylight.   I spontaneously announced that in the next five minutes we were having our family pictures taken and I grabbed my tri-pod and trekked across the street.  With the helpful multiple shot timer feature we got the following images.

I LOVE THEM.  So so much.

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Ten minutes later we were done.

After I finished editing the images last night, I turned to Ben and said,

“Shooting professionally for all those years was so worth all the experiences, just for this moment. To be able to take our own family pictures any time I want and have them look exactly like I envisioned.”

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I no longer shoot professionally for hire, but I am a Professional Photographer for my own family. I hold the same standard of excellence to both professions, but secretly believe that one is still more important than the other 😉

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Even if your intent is not to shoot professionally as a business model, learning all you can about photography can still serve you immensely.  Everything I learned about posing, lighting, interaction, emotion, storytelling, composition, technic, and beyond, I USE EVERY TIME I PHOTOGRAPH MY OWN LIFE AND FAMILY.

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All the practice, trial and error, tears, triumphs, money invested, equipment, education, and TIME are worth it when it can go back into serving those who are most important.

Or, you can save yourself thousands of hours and dollars in equipment and education and just hire a pro once a year too! ha ha. That would have been a much easier and cheaper route, now that I think of it, but I know the adventure was worth it.

biopic2 Brooke Snow is the Professional Photographer for her own family and an Abundant Life Practitioner. She loves chocolate covered almonds, carefree laughter, and going to the farmers market. She lives with her husband and adventurous son in Northern Utah.

 

 

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From artist Jeff Schaller:

Somebody once said about my paintings, “I could of done that.”

I replied, “But you didn’t and I did. Now you can’t because I did and that would be copying.”

I love this!

I know that “copying” or “imitation” can be a very touchy subject among artists and photographers.  I would be dishonest to never admit that I haven’t had my own moments of heated reaction to see another individual copy some aspect of my work or my business.  However, its also important to not forget where we came from, and to remember, that we ourselves aren’t always as unique as we think.

Is Imitation ALL bad?

My very first experience with a digital camera was shooting my sisters bridals with my mom’s SLR in 2006.  What did I do?  I copied the extraordinary local photographer and went to the exact locations he shot at.  I shot my sisters engagements where I had seen other photographers go.  I copied poses and locations.  It never occurred to me in the least that I was copying anyone.  I sincerely just thought that was what I was supposed to be doing to be successful because that’s what the other photographer had done.  That was what was “cool”, and looked great.

I continued to do this for another year!  I moved to a new city and shot at the locations that I saw other people shooting.  I shot in the style that I saw other people shooting, never thinking anything was wrong with that at all.  I didn’t know any better.  To me, I was trying to be “professional”.  I was trying to follow what I saw as their recipe for a successful picture and successful business.  If it worked for them, it should work for me.

Through time I have discovered that my favorite part of photography lies in the creative aspect.  Thinking of ideas on my own.  Thinking of my own locations, and poses and stories that I can tell with the camera.

To my utmost disappointment, I have found that even when I think I am being completely original, sometimes I am not…

I remember a year ago moving to a new town.  I discovered this amazing house in town with unique landscaping and goodies in the yard (like an old vintage school bus, vintage bike, vintage truck…all beautifully worked into the scheme of their yard.)  I knocked on the door and asked if I might have permission to shoot some bridals there.  This was their response, “Of course you can!  We get photographers coming here all the time!  They just love it and we’re glad people can enjoy it!”  I was still excited to shoot there, but somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t the first one to think of it.

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Again, a few months later I did a senior session, found a new spot of town and picked some locations that I have never used before.  I asked permission of an Italian Ice Cream shop to shoot in their window and got the same response, “Sure.  People do it all the time!”.  I had never seen any pictures shot there, thought it would be an original great idea, but others had beat me to it.

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Yet….

I still feel these images are completely my own.

Photographer, Me Ra Koh said on her blog about this very issue: “It’s the same with photography. I would bet that every composition has been done. What makes the image unique is our subjects and the spirit of who they are. Yes, we grow in our ability to understand light, or post process our color tones, etc. But these things are all peripheral to the ability to capture the spirit of our subject.
Copy those you respect and admire until you find your own eye, your own voice. I believe wholeheartedly that we all have our own specific eye. But here’s the thing: the journey to find our own eye–our own voice– is not an overnight journey. It requires courage and faith to believe in what we can’t yet see in ourselves, support from those around you and humility to start with others’ ideas until we see value in our own ideas.

I think that is exactly what happened to me.  I had to start with others ideas.  I had to take the journey of working through imitation, until I had the creative ability to work with inspiration.  There’s no way I would have started with my own ideas from the very beginning.

Finding inspiration

After learning how to master my own camera (an absolute must…LEARN HOW TO SHOOT MANUAL!!!! LEARN HOW TO USE LIGHT!), after gaining experience, and becoming comfortable with myself as a photographer… then I began to discover who I really was.  Only then did I begin to discover my own unique creative self.

I no longer go out and try to recreate an image I’ve seen.  Instead, I use images I like as a spring board for other ideas of my own to create something unique for myself.  I take inspiration from all things in the world around me.  A line of poetry can spark thoughts, as can colors, locations, magazines, feelings or emotions, literature, etc.  And still, I’m likely not completely original in what I do.  Someone in the world somewhere may have already done something similar, but I can have the quiet confidence of my work being my own.

Want a creative project?  Want to learn how to make your images your own?  Want to stimulate those creative juices inside?

About a year ago I gave myself the challenge to never shoot in the same location twice.  As such, I also challenged myself to discover all these locations on my own.  I still try to follow that, and can’t even begin to tell you what thats done for my creativity.  Honestly, its hard sometimes.  Its much easier to take  each client to the standard place and shoot.  Having to come up with somewhere new every time requires more work 🙂  But it also makes the session unique, and for me, it keeps things fun and fresh.  Each session has its own excitement to me because I get so excited to come home and see how the new spot turned out!

How do you find inspiration? What do you think is the proper place for imitation?

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Call me Nancy Drew.  I’ve wanted to do some sleuthing for quite some time, but today finally presented the perfect opportunity.

We took a small family outing this afternoon to run a few errands and we ended up at a very well known “Discount Department Store”.  Not my favorite place in the world, but as I stood waiting at the cash register, I beheld the typical portrait studio directly ahead inside the store.

Excusing myself, I donned the character of the new mother inquiring about prices for a session.

Here’s a few interesting facts I learned:

*The typical session at this studio is 1 hour long.  Broken down, this means 30 minutes in front of the camera, and 30 minutes at the sales table.

*The session typically captures a minimum of 7 poses.  Seven.  Did you get that?

*Would you like to purchase the CD of your images? The CD with SEVEN poses? 🙂  Sold separately, that will cost you $200.  And none of these images are edited.  (for some reason the sales clerk pushed this as a perk… “you get all the deleted images and the keepers completely untouched!“)

*But of course, the CD is cheaper if purchased in a print package.  The print packages range from $200-$300 (including the CD) and do not include enlargements bigger than a 10×13. Oh yes… and remember you’re dealing with SEVEN poses!

*Don’t be fooled by the “$4.99 for over 30 Portraits!” gimmick.  This ploy is 30 mini prints of the same image over and over.  They’re banking on the fact that you likely want more than one pose of your darling child.  This is where they’re hoping to snag you, because realistically, they don’t even make enough money to pay their sales clerks hourly wage if everyone were to only opt for this incentive.

And how about that huge enlargement you want to hang above the mantle?  That 20×24 will cost you $200.

Now…

The irony of all of this lies in the plethora of  “custom photography” photographers we see emerging all over the place.  If you have a nice camera and want to start a small side business doing portraits, go for it.  I’m all for it.  I believe that even experienced amateurs who understand their camera and how to use light, can get some great shots and most often get BETTER images than the factory discount department store studios like I described above.

Here’s a few reasons I think the custom photographers images are better :

-The custom photographer usually spends more than 30 minutes (which I often find is roughly the amount of time some subjects need to actually start to warm up and begin to be comfortable).

-the custom photographer usually utilizes unique, fun, and creative locations that add an element of interest to the images over generic studio backdrops.

-The custom photographer typically gets much more than SEVEN poses or even outfits and locations.  🙂

-The custom photographer typically edits their images and spends additional custom time in post production insuring the images are up to par.

-The custom photographer usually carries out a longer relationship with the client being highly concerned about customer service and customization.  They will spend time before, during, and after the session in one on one communication with the client.

If custom photographers put so much more time and effort into their work, usually create a much better product, offer much more in prints and products, then why…. WHY… why… would they charge LESS than the discount department store?

If you’re a starting professional, who charges under $200 for “the whole package deal including session and CD”, I hope this will encourage you to raise your price 🙂  You’re worth it.  In fact, you’re likely worth a whole lot more!

If you’re a consumer searching for a photographer, I hope you will see the value in investing more in a custom photographer… and if you want to read a fabulous article about WHY custom photography does cost more?  READ THIS.  It’s fantastic.

The particular discount department store I entered today used to have their own name brand portrait studios.  This was a Loss Leader for the store.  This means they knew they would lose money on the studio by pricing the service so cheaply, but were willing to take the loss because it got people in the store who would therefore spend money on other things while they were there.  (Milk is a loss leader for grocery stores… ever wonder why its always located in the very back of the store?  You have to pass all the other products to get to it, and likely you’ll walk out of the store with more than milk.)

Always interesting to make some comparisons… though the factory studio portrait experience vs. custom photography isn’t necessarily comparing apples to apples, I hope it still provides a slight bit of perspective 🙂


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Lets talk habits!

Our lives are full of thousands of little habits:

Wake up: Push snooze twice, roll out of bed, take a shower, brush teeth…

Exercise: Go to the gym, take the same class, use the same machines…

Work: Drive the same way to get there, park in the same spot, work on the same reports…

Family: Dinner at the same time, Monday is pasta, Tuesday is rice, Feed the kids, clean the kitchen, read some books, watch a show…

Some habits seem so inconsequential, in fact, we hardly even notice them. (I brushed my teeth this morning….didn’t I? I don’t remember it, but it is so ingrained in me….)

Essentially we are like a camera with the settings in automatic. I am assuming most of you who come to this site know what I mean. (I’m not the camera professional, but I’ve picked up a few things from having a sister who is). This isn’t a bad thing. I mean, my camera works just fine in automatic and my life seems to be going almost decently with out messing too much with my own settings. Or is it?

Last night at a quarter to ten, I could have been found throwing my pen at the wall and yelling “AHHHHHHH” out of frustration. I have been working on this writing project for so long and it is going no where. I have seen dishes wash themselves faster.

So as not to wake my sleeping baby, I retrieved the pen and started scribbling in my journal about all of my frustrations. I wanted to wrangle this problem to the ground, tie its feet together, throw my hands up in the air, and listen to the crowd cheer.

Obviously, I needed to get off the horse to do this. I started looking at my life critically and with an honesty sieve so fine that what ended up in my mind were all these chunky habits that I had thought were just inconsequential: the blogs I read that used to be useful but are now ways that I let myself waste time; the people that I surround myself with and how certain things they do influence me and my work because they change they way I feel about myself; the habits of organization that do or do not exist pertaining to my goal….All of these things that I do absentmindedly as if I was shooting my life in automatic–just letting the presets have control.

The thought occurred to me as I asked myself a hard question, “Could I really be strong enough, focused enough, resolved enough, to completely edit these things out of my life?”

It would take mindfulness about my actions. It would take honestly about some of my daily habits and their actual results. If I could add more positive habits to my life and delete the negative, it would be like shooting my life in manual. I needed to change the BALANCE and let more light in. I needed to change my DEPTH OF FIELD so that my goal was the object of focus. Then, with those things in line I could have control of my final composition. I could even be artistic!

After resolving to be more mindful of the little things, I was surprised at how much closer I felt to my goal. It was a good indication, as if I knew all along that it was I who had set up some obstacles along the way and that it was I who needed to remove them.

It is empowering to have self control.

It is empowering to not leave things to chance.

It is empowering to discover what shooting your life in manual can mean.

biophotoLindsey Maughan is a mango enthusiast with a composite degree in modern and ballroom dance from BYU. She believes that when you read books you should take notes in the margins, that sandwiches taste better when cut on the diagonal, and that most mundane tasks can be improved upon with the right background music.

She lives with her tall, dark, and logical husband, and her almond eyed, airplane loving daughter in Hawaii. In April of this year they will welcome a second child, a boy, into the family. Both parents hope he will grow to love hiking, vacuuming, and Indian food.

Lindsey loves her jogging stroller, her ipod, good books, her journal, music, writing, dancing, cooking, yoga, and going on dates with her husband.


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Earlier this week, I saw storm clouds and had a family session scheduled.

I called and consulted with the family and due to black cloud concern, we postponed until later in the week.

It never did rain, but it sure looked threatening.

I sometimes forget that moments that seem less than ideal, sometimes challenging, maybe even threatening, are the very elements that can combine into something totally extraordinary. Getting out of our comfort zones can seem frightening (I love my comfort zone), but if we always walk a safe path we’ll always get predictable results.

When storm clouds hit a couple weeks ago during a fabulous mentoring session, I was hesitant of continuing plans for our shoot together. But given the completely un-reschedule-able-ness of the moment, we went through with it.

So glad we did.

And we did indeed get lucky.

 

 

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She grew up on a dirt road on the outskirts of town where her neighbors consisted of wild life…which of course made walking to the bus stop an adventure. She has been chased to school by a herd of 114 Elk, a skunk, charged by a Moose, and they once had a wild mink sneak into the living room. Sometimes life for her can be too exciting. She currently enjoys living in her suburb hundred year old house in a quiet neighborhood where so far the only “wild life” is the neighbors pygmy goats that keep escaping.


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