Meet Custom Photo Prop’s Office Manager, Corinne Skeels

Corinne Skeel and Kerri Seibert have been blessed with an amazing friendship for over 20 years.   Kerri trusts Corinne completely so it only made sense that she would handle the day-to-day functions in the office.  Corinne is amazing at what she does, she’s thoughtful, thorough, respectable and keeps Custom Photo Props running  like a well oiled machine!   Being best friends allows Kerri and Corinne to be honest when it calls for it but keeping the atmosphere at the office fun and enjoyable.  They love what they do and they love working together!  When we sat down with Corinne to really get to know her, here is what she had to say:

How did you come to work for Custom Photo Props and how long have you been a member of the team?
I have been part of the Custom Photo Props team for 5 years now. I have known Kerri since we were in 6th grade together! I started out just doing random computer tasks from home when I was still living in Washington state which is where my husband was stationed at the time serving in the Army. These tasks came about because when Kerri and I were chatting she had told me how business was picking up so I told her if she needed help with anything to let me know as I was having trouble finding work in Washington at the time. She took me up on that offer and so my CPP days began! Then when we found out we were heading back to NY for good Kerri told me that she had a full-time position for me if I wanted it when I got here so naturally I took it and here we are! I mean who doesn’t want to work with their best friend!

What did you do prior to working with Custom Photo Props?
For the 3 years before starting with CPP I was a stay at home mom and Army wife raising my son who will be 14 this year! Where in the world has the time gone!! Before that I worked as the Financial Services Assistant at the University of Phoenix in Augusta GA. and then before that I was the secretary at the Eden Heights Assisted Living Facility in Eden, NY while attending Erie Community College for my associates degree.

What is the worst and best part of working with Custom Photo Props?
I can honestly say there is not any “worst part” of working at Custom Photo Props. The only thing that I could even really consider would be the random grouchy or rude customer but those are very few and far in between as we really do have the most amazing customers! The best part about working at Custom Photo Props would have to be the ladies I work with. We have a small but amazing group of girls that always go above and beyond to get things done and make sure our products are perfect for our customers. A close second for the best part would be getting back photos from customers using our products as it is always awesome to see the different and unique ways each person uses our products.

Do you dream about fur? No really, but what is your favorite prop that you sell? I do not dream about fur but I would have to say that our baby whisperer furs are definitely my favorites as they are so incredibly soft. If I had to choose one color it would be the Peekaboo Peach right now. It is beautiful!

Away from work…what do you love to do?
When I am not at work I enjoy spending time with my son Jacob and my husband Scott as well as our pets which include our dog Sasha, our cat Cinders, and our newest family member is a rabbit named Swirl. We used to have 6 cows as well, 3 mommas and 3 babies, that I absolutely loved but we unfortunately had to sell them. I hope to get more in the future though. I also enjoy going to the gym and taking the cardio kickboxing/boxing class they offer. It is a great workout and tons of fun!

QUICK…you only have 5 minutes to give someone the best advice ever…what would that be?
Live every day like it is your last, tomorrow is not promised. Work hard and be responsible and dependable but don’t work your life away. The quality time you spend and memories you make with your loved ones are far more important than the balance in your bank account and honestly you can’t take it with you! 🙂

 

Interview with Kelly Ross Photography

Kelly Ross has been working together with Custom Photo Props for quite a while now.  Her beautiful images help to show our products in use.   We love her creativity and the pure, simplicity of her images are stunning.  We are so thankful for her work and excited to share a little bit more about her studio.

For all you newborn photographers out there, we are sure you will be able to relate to a lot of what Kelly has to say.  Sometimes, in your day-to-day routine, it can probably feel that you are by yourself with the ups and downs of being a photographer.   What you can take away from our “photographer interview” series, is that you are not alone in your struggles.  We hope these interviews help to encourage you today, wherever you are in your photography journey.

www.Kelly Ross Photography.com

 

What made you decide you wanted to become a photographer and how long have you been in business?

I have been in business almost 8 yrs. I always loved taking photos since I was a child and was the selfproclaimed Family Historian. I was very blessed to be so lucky to make it my career.
What part of your photography are you most critical about?

Oh I don’t think I could pick just one area to be critical of. I love to be very particular about everything I do. Myrule of thumb is to get it as close to perfect before you take the shot.
Who is your biggest supporter?

Most importantly my family when I was growing up… and especially my dad who was a man of very fewencouraging words but bought me my very first real camera when I was about 15. His own quiet way ofsaying he approved. Who knew all these years later I would be doing what I dreamed of as a kid.
Biggest pet peeve in the photography industry?

Ohhhhh….. Why can’t we just all get along and help each other rather than some of the drama that goes on.

Biggest struggle as a studio owner?

The business side of things. I like to be the artist not the office responsibilities. Even though I have the most AMAZING Office Manager it’s still hard to juggle.
Favorite gear – camera, lighting, favorite newborn prop?

I shoot with a Nikon750… my go to lens is my 35mm and second fav is 24-70mm… unless I am outside and itsalways the 70-200mm… Favorite newborn prop…. I have so many wonderful vendors I work with. Hands down Custom Photo Props furs and knits are a staple in every session!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still doing what I am doing and loving every baby that walks through my door.
What does Photoshop mean to your work?

I edit lightly in Lightroom, and then pull them into Photoshop for some tweaks to clean up the skin.
What has helped you succeed in the ever-changing newborn industry?

My constant need to always be improving my skills and taking every step I can to make that happen. I have awonderful network of photographers in my area and we meet and host meetings and learning once a month.Having these connections just keeps me growing!
What is the most important thing when you shop for newborn products and props for your studio?

Quality and speed of delivery! And, of course that they are affordable.
Your ordering process – do you have your clients come into your studio for a presentation or do you do everything online?

I enjoy letting the clients view their galleries online from the comfort of their own home. We all know thathaving a new baby is time-consuming and asking moms to come back out feels like it would be addingstress to them. I did do in person sales a few years ago and it always seemed a struggle for them to come backto the studio. I want to make it as comfortable of an experience for them as possible.

To see more of Kelly’s work, check out a few of her sites:

website

Facebook

 

www.Kelly Ross Photography.com

 

www.Kelly Ross Photography.com

 

www.Kelly Ross Photography.com

Meet Custom Photo Props owner, Kerri Seibert!

Following along with our interview series, we thought you might enjoy getting to know the faces behind Custom Photo Props.  This group of incredible ladies behind the doors of Custom Photo Props are dedicated, creative, strong and inspiring!

Today I want you to introduce the driving force behind this amazing company, Kerri Seibert.

At the age of 16, Kerri was given the opportunity to work for, and eventually manage, a restaurant in her hometown in New York. Even at a young age, she was continually filled with ideas on how to change the business and make it grow into something better. She would agree that out of all of the positions she has held during her career, this is the one job she had enjoyed the most because she was in charge. The skills she developed at this job would teach her more than she ever realized; it prepared her for opening and growing her own company.

When Kerri is approached to share her company story, she usually responds with a pretty simple one. Kerri and her husband had a precious baby girl and were having newborn photos taken. She searched the internet for newborn photo props but nothing fit the bill; she wanted props that nobody else had and wanted to put her own personal touch on it. Loving crafts, Kerri set out to make her own. Elizabeth Pellette of Elizabeth Pellette Photography located in Springville, New York arrived at the newborn shoot and loved what she saw. After a lot of encouragement from loved ones, Custom Photo Props was born in 2007.

Custom Photo Props has gone from a one person, one product company to staffing six employees and working out of a 7,000 sq. foot building.  Not only are they dedicated to growing the company but giving back to their community and various organizations throughout the world!  At the heart of the company is this:

 
TRUE COMMITMENT BEGINS WITH GIVING BACK

When Custom Photo Props decided that their company was going to be “The Faux Fur Company” they knew that they had to bring awareness to the harming of innocent animals for their pelt. Those animals live in brutal conditions and are faced a very excruciating death due to the fact that there is a need for their pelt. Whether it’s fur or feathers they needed to protect God’s creatures!

In their eyes, they knew that there were plenty of other products on the market that can easily replicate genuine fur; there is no reason for using a natural product. Through the use of their website, social media, and monetary donations, they became dedicated to informing the community about the slaughter of these beautiful animals for their fur.

 
COMMUNITY MATTERS

Among bringing social awareness to the abuse of wild animals and domestic pets, Custom Photo Props also gives back in other ways. The company helps support various programs by donating their time or finances throughout the year. Each faux fur purchased from Custom Photo Props helps drive them closer to their goal: helping animals.

Custom Photo Props regularly donates product and resources to various organizations such as Non-Profit Organizations, Boys and Girls Club of America, St. Columban’s Retirement Home, Salvation Army, ASPCA, Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as several Animal Rescue Groups.

 

We wanted to find out what drives Kerri in her own words…and here is what she shared with us:

Did you start with a business plan?

Absolutely not! This was hobby that turned into a small business. After we realized that this company could become something much bigger than we envisioned we did formulate a business plan that we update regularly.

What’s kept you going for the past 7 years?

Work, work, and a lot of dedication. The early stages of a business is tough and if you don’t have the tenacity you won’t make it. Plain and simple. Business has a lot of highs and lows and you need to be fully engaged to deal with those. I hear so many friends or family members who say, I want to start a business or how did you get so lucky? It’s not luck, it’s hard work, non-stop. When your friends want you to hang out or it’s your nephew’s first birthday and you have orders to fill, you have to put the business first–always. If all works out, you will pave a clear path to success and when you want to take time off of work to go on vacation you will have the ability to do that.

 
What tips do you have for those who want to start a business?

You have to have a solid and clear idea of what you want to do. Something that you will LOVE doing day in and day out. Research the market and see if there is a need for your product or service. Research some more and look into anything that might remotely come up because you need to be prepared for those moments. I have a friend who started a business and didn’t fully research every aspect of the business. He purchased expensive equipment without knowing where he is going to run these machines. He finally found a shop that he can work out of but now he is stuck with a very costly commercial electric bill that he wasn’t prepared for. This has now completely changed his profit margins and the amount of time he is putting into making and delivering a product.

 
Who is your ideal customer?

Our main customer base is primarily female newborn photographers who have their own photography business. They keep the baby’s comfort in mind as well as focusing on simple props that will not outdate the photo in five to seven years.

What would you say your strengths and weakness are?

I am my own worst critic. I have a lot to be thankful for and have achieved a lot during the past seven years but I am not one to ever settle. I never think that what we have accomplished is enough. Three years ago I had a revenue goal and I told myself that would be the day I knew we were successful in operating and growing a business. Once we hit that goal I doubled it and feel that I’ll always be do that. At what point will it truly be success?

My strength is that I am very determined to succeed and won’t give up. You have to keep trying and trying no matter how difficult it will become. You do this until you have exhausted all resources and find that your time is better spent elsewhere. We recently had to call kibosh on one of our sales channels that we have had for the past seven years. It was hard to let go but it’s going to lead to something great down the road.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?

Thankfully I haven’t made too many mistakes in business that I didn’t recover from. Hiring the right people is always key to a happy workplace. Unrelated to employees, I’d say that I now know who to trust and who not to trust. Never give your secret sauce to those who will jump at a chance to bottle it up for themselves.

 
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I will continue to grow Custom Photo Props into a profitable and sellable company. Hopefully, we will still have the same incredible girls working for us during this journey.

 

We hoped you enjoyed getting to know Kerri a little bit better – check out the website and Facebook page for products and specials!  Also take the time to sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the website home page to keep yourself in the loop on specials and new product announcements!

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Exposure: Interview Series

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Happy Happy Friday!! Hope you all had a wonderful week have exciting plans for the weekend 🙂  Today for our Exposure Interview we’re happy to introduce Kelly Ross, a trusted colleague of ours. You can find some of her work on our own website as product photos. Scroll on down to learn more about her and her business!
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
I am Kelly Ross of Kelly Ross Photography. I am located in Agawam, MA and a second studio in Simsbury, CT
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?
I have a 900 sq foot studio in Agawam, MA and a 1000 sq ft studio in Simsbury, CT
3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
My specialty is Newborns I love everything about capturing those first photos of new little ones.
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
I shoot with a Nikon D700…. I upgraded in the past to a D800 and even tried out a D4… I still went back to my D700!!!
5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
My go to Lens is the Sigma Art series lens 35 mm 1.4 … I use it for all in studio sessions. My go to for outside sessions is my Nikkon 70-200 VR2 2.8
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?
This is a hard one for me. I ADORE natural light… my last studio space had 30 ft ceilings and a wall of 14 ft windows… the natural light is like no other (as long as you have a good day- overcast days can be killer) switching over to my new Agawam, MA studio I had to go to studio light- I use a Einstein with a 86″ PLM…. it is a nice replacement for natural light and very consistent… has made editing more consistent. In my CT studio I am able to do both studio and natural!!!
7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
I always had a camera in my hand. I interned for a wedding photographer in college after taking some photography courses and always felt it was something I wanted to do. When I had my 3rd child in 2008 she became my every day subject and friends starting asking me to take photos of their kids. I took some classes to brush up on the new age of digital and by 2009 I started my business. Back then there were no posing workshops and for prop shopping you had to be super creative as Etsy didn’t exist. Finding shops like custom photo props has been amazing for my business!!!!  I have since taken many workshops as I am always trying to perfect my skills. And I even offering mentoring to many photographers starting out.
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
To pick just one photographer who inspires me would be impossible. My original passion for babies comes from Anne Geddes…. and I do like to credit my drive of being a motivate mama from Ana Brandt of Taopan. When I started you couldn’t even google newborn photography and find anything other than Anne or little video clips of Ana shooting maternity or babies in her home studio. I thought if she can make that space work so can I. I later became friends with her and consider her an amazing mentor!!! I also consider Sabine Brandt (no relation to Ana lol) from Living Dreams Photography Workshop to be life changing with my newborn posing.
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?
My favorite part of any newborn session is when Mom or dad hand their precious week out little baby to me and almost every single mom says- he/she hates being naked and I hope you can get some shots. I love to then have them sit back and watch me work as I not only get some shots but 40-50 final images of their sweet baby in poses they never dreamed their baby would do!!!
10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?
The biggest thing I struggle with is the business side of things in a over saturated market. Staying true to what I think my value is and offering the best I can even though sometimes parents are just looking at cost. My advice is to stay strong when starting out and never under value your time just because the person next door is giving it away. Take a business course- Heidi Hopes business workshop changed my world and helped me look at this from the technical side- the side we would rather think doesn’t exist. But to stay successful you have to make sure you are doing things the best way!
11)   Do you have any unconventional tips or tricks for getting your little clients to cooperate during a shoot?
When working with newborns everything I do is pretty typical in terms of making sure moms and dads are prepped ahead of time to have the most successful session. If they follow my directions its almost always a win!!!
12)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?
I would like to focus more on newborns only and be able to hire in a couple associate photographers to take over the children’s sessions!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                www.kellyrossphotography.com
Thanks Kelly!!
www.Kelly Ross Photography.com www.Kelly Ross Photography.com

Exposure : Interview Series

exposure
It’s Thursday, so that means the weekend is almost here! Who else is excited to go outside and enjoy some nice weather and eat some BBQ for Memorial Day??   Today with our Exposure Interview, I’d like you to meet Buena Farrell. I think we can all relate to her answer for number 10, and I know I’ll definitely be looking up that class!
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
Buena Farrell of Buena Farrell Photography in Ellsworth WI.
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?
 I just moved into the most amazing building in my town.   It’s a 119 year old brick building with the original hardwood floors and tons of character.  Located on the Main St of my town.  It was a bank at one point and still have the 2 vault doors.  🙂   I also shoot on location during the nicer months of the year which are really limited to May- Sept 😉
3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
My primary focus is children and newborns.   Newborns are definitely my favorite though and if I could shoot them exclusively I would be in heaven.
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
I shoot with a Nikon D700.  When I first started I was shooting Canon and my best friend was shooting Nikon so I decided to switch so we could share lenses.  🙂
5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
 I always shoot with my 50mm 1.4 in studio and my 85mm 1.8 for outdoor sessions.   I started using a macro lens for my newborn session and I’m using a 60mm 2.8.  I have tried using the 24-70mm which is a beautiful lens but I’m a prime girl and I just couldn’t get use to shooting with a zoom lens.
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?
 When I first started I was strictly natural light just because I couldn’t afford a light set up and I didn’t have any where to put it since I was shooting in my living room.  I have since switched to studio lights for when I’m shooting in my studio and obviously natural light when I’m outside.  My studio does have a good amount of beautiful natural light but I still prefer the studio lights especially on those gloomy days or if I’m shooting in the evening.
7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
 I just did. 🙂   LOTS and LOTS of reading and researching and screwing up and then figuring it out.   I didn’t have any training on becoming a photographer but I have attended a few workshops to help me take my photography to the next step.
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
When I first started in photography I was in awe of Kelley Ryden and Tracey Raver.  They have so many amazing set ups.   My favorite newborn photograph would have to be Sabine from Living Dreams Photography.  I actually met her a few years ago at Kelley & Tracey’s workshop and it has been wonderful to watch her become this amazing photographer.  I love everything about her work!
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?
When I’m shooting newborns I just love everything about them.  Their tiny little part, the way they smell and I love cuddling with them too.  When I’m shooting children I love just trying to make them laugh and have fun at the session.   Play silly games, sing songs and just have fun and be goofy.
10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?
 I’ve struggled with the business side of things.  Every year I tell myself I’m going to be more organized but that doesn’t happen.   I took Rachel Benke’s online workshop and I’d say that was so helpful.  I actually wish I would have taken it when I first started and not 4 years into my business.
11)   Do you have any unconventional tips or tricks for getting your little clients to cooperate during a shoot?
 Chuck the chicken.  🙂  He’s a squeaky dog toy but man the kids love him.
12)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?
Oh gosh this is tough!   I’d love to see myself focus more on newborn and babies.  I’m hoping that I can become a better business women and be more organized.
Thanks Buena!!
customphotoprops.com
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Exposure : Interview Series

exposure
Welcome back to our blog, everybody! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Traci from Pink Toenails Photography. She has some incredibly wonderful things to say about valuing your own talents and your time. Read on to find out more.
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
My name is Traci and I own Pink Toenails photography based out of Eau Claire, WI
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?
 I photograph outdoors in the non-winter months, on-location and have a small in home studio for newborns.
3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
 I mainly photograph newborns through the toddler age.  I also photograph births and maternity.
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
 I used to use a crop sensor 60d, that’s a canon. 🙂  I made the switch to a canon 5d markIII.  I needed a camera that was great in every lighting situation…especially low light.  When photographing births, this camera is a MUST as sometimes you are photographing at an ISO of 12,000.  This helps so you can still deliver your clients beautiful photos of their once in a lifetime event.
5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
 I currently use a 50 1.8, but will be upgrading that to a 50 1.4.  There are a lot of lenses I would love to have, but the cost of them is a little more than I can currently afford.  One of those would be a 35mm and another the 100mm macro.
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?
 I use both.  I love both.  Sometimes you need to use studio light.  When I photograph newborns I use natural light and enhance that with studio because the light coming in is never enough ( small window).  I do prefer natural light and love photographing outdoors because of this.
7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
 I bought a point and shoot camera about 6 years ago and loved taking pictures.  I then got a job at CPI studios…otherwise known as sears.  I began loving it, especially that toddler age. I started my own business about 3 years ago, while working a full time job in the medical field.  I now only photograph…and stay home with my children of course!
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
 I look up to quite a few photographers.  I love Stephanie Cotta and her style for newborn, children, and family.  Like many others, my children inspire me.  I currently have a daughter, birthday is coming up and she will be 6, who loves to help me come up with ideas.  She often comes with to sessions as she wants to be a photographer and artist.  I have 2 boys as well, ages 1 and 3, who inspire me to love that toddler age even more…no matter how “curious” they may be.
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?
I love getting smiles from my little clients.  I sometimes have to work hard, but I have never had a session without at least 1 smile or smirk….newborns included.
10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?
My current struggle is working in an extremely tiny space.  My indoor lighting is a challenge because of this.  I really have enough room for a beanbag and 1 light, I use a reflector, but it stays against a wall providing a little extra light.
When I started, I did not know what I wanted to specialize in.  I did a little of everything and did not value my time.  After my third, and final, child I realized my time and skill was important and I needed to charge appropriately for that.
My biggest thing for people coming into this industry is to start off valuing yourself and your time.  Do not undercharge or give super cheap sessions because as you grow as a business, people will still want those prices and you will be considered a cheap photographer.  Something some clients do not understand is they are not just paying for that hour or 2 of your time, but they are paying for: your set up, clean up, use of your props, use of your camera equipment, use of your time for the session and editing, and use of your continuous learning/expertise.
11)   Do you have any unconventional tips or tricks for getting your little clients to cooperate during a shoot?
To get my little clients to give me a more natural smile, I go back to my voice training days and have them say words that give a natural/relaxing smile.  examples:  “ice” “me” “peace”.  try them, I guarantee there will be no forced smile with any of these words.
When I photograph outdoors, I will often go shoeless.  Why?  because I choose areas where I hike up my pants and will hop in the stream with kids.  splashing is always fun!
12)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?
I would love to do more teaching to other photographers.  I currently teach a class on photographing your toddlers.  I would love to take this to other towns/states and continue doing these workshops.
                                                                                                                                                                                www.pinktoenailsphotography.com
Thanks Traci!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                BK2A9886
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Exposure: Interview Series

exposure
Hi all!
I’m excited to introduce you all to Talia Kite today! She’s got a lot of great things to say and the story about how she became a photographer is beautiful – seems like it really was meant to be. ❤ Scroll on down to read more about Blissful Impressions.
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
My name is Talia Kite, my business is Blissful Impressions and I am located in Denver, Colorado!
 
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?
I have a natural light newborn studio that is about 200 sq feet.  This studio is mainly for newborns and I will also go to homes for lifestyle newborn sessions. Most other family sessions, engagements and weddings are held in parks, the foothills or mountains.
 
3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
I love focusing on newborn sessions, it’s a very different shoot then most others.  There is such a trust factor you are building with the parents and creating a relationship as you are holding their most precious gift and creating beautiful, everlasting images for them.  Typically with my newborns I capture them throughout the year at their 6 month and 1 year and get to capture those milestones in their first year!
 
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
My current camera is a Nikon D800, I use this with a variety of lenses to capture wide angle and macro detail shots.  I chose Nikon because when you accidentally get into a film photography course in high school, you use what is given to you!  I didn’t know too much about the various types when I started out, although as I begin to gather more lenses and really get to know the cameras I was using, I decided to commit.  As I traveled through college I stayed with 35mm and medium format for a large portion of my courses and then switched to digital before graduation.  I feel there is such an importance on understanding film photography, the development process and presentation that goes into every digital image as well. When picking a digital camera it is vital to understand how it is different than the other well known brands.  While I chose to stick with Nikon it wasn’t out of just having the lenses and familiarity, it was a choice and one that I will continue to move forward with as I see fit for my business. 

5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
My all time favorite lens is a Macro 60mm f/2.8.  It creates the most beautiful bokeh {blur behind the subject} and has a crisp, warm addition to the photos that I have not found in other lenses. While it’s perfect for those obvious close up details of newborns or wedding rings, it truly makes the photo with portraits as well. 
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?
I think these two are so different and it is truly an art to master either one.  I am completely natural light, unless I am shooting a wedding reception, for obvious reasons, I add a flash.  I have a lot of respect for those that make studio lighting look like natural light, but for me I just use the sun.  My studio is on the 4th floor and faces South and in Colorado we get sun most days so I don’t have to worry too much about dark days {of course it is sleeting and dark as I sit and write this}. When it comes to outdoor sessions I book them 2 hours before sunset, and use that gorgeous orange glow from the sun to add another factor into my images, that I don’t think you can get from artificial lighting.  I love natural light and I always strive to be better at this craft, as no two shoots are the same!
 
7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
I learned photography by accidentally getting into a photo 1 course.  I originally signed up for Interior Design {a big fan of TLC, Trading Spaces at the time}, and photo 1 was my back up.  Luckily my older sisters had taken the course so we had some equipment.  My dad has always been big into photography and my Grandpa was a WWII photographer who went on to start his own photography business.  It was one of those things that was meant to be, but was not obvious.
I always had trouble learning in school, classes did not come easily to me and I wasn’t a natural at anything it seemed, so I didn’t think too much about this course either.  I knew I always loved art, but this was a whole new realm.  I went out and took my first roll of film for the class, I was getting ready to go develop it and the film got stuck, we fiddled to open the camera and everything got exposed and ruined!  Naturally you are a tad bummed, but I went out again and went for round 2.  I came back to the dark room, developed some photos, entered a contest and won on my first image.  I had no idea I was good at this, of course you don’t need outside influence to tell you, but it doesn’t hurt. From then on I barely left the dark room.  I took so many photo courses I ended up in studio classes that I was the only student and made up my own assignments, assignments that teachers loved that they took to use in their own classes.  I realized I had found my calling.  When I applied for college I decided photojournalism was the way to go, as I had no idea what else you do with a love for photography.  I wanted a state school and decided to move forward with my photojournalism major, mind you, I had absolutely no idea what this would entail.  Once I realized there was no art, in my mind, as to what I was doing I took a harder focus on photography itself.  I put all of my efforts into my art courses, decided to double major in art education and photography and go on to start a photography business, 2 years out of college.  I haven’t looked back, and when I think back on how things could have turned out, I realize this is exactly what was meant to be.  All the struggles in school, the confusion, the only clear thing to me was when I held my camera and was creating, I felt calm, and nervous and comfortable and at ease and excited, and those feelings travel with me today before every session.
 
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
There are so many people that are inspirational.  In our internet day and age it is far too easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work put out there.  There is a quote I read “Comparison, is the death of happiness” and it very much holds true to a profession like photography.  Sometimes we have too much access and it is easy to get down on ourselves.  With that being said, I try to look up to photographers that I know personally, are friends with, have worked with or taken workshops from.  This is mainly because I know I can confide in them if I am looking for inspiration or encouragement.  We all go through rough patches and to have someone that you look up to and respect tell you that, times like these happen and if you don’t keep moving forward, we will just get stuck.  I am grateful to have a community of photographers I have surrounded myself with to be inspired and educated by continuously.
 
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?
My favorite part of a photo session is when I get into my groove.  I love to prepare as much as I can, think of poses for engagement sessions, different wrap and headband options for newborns, little jokes I can use on kids for family sessions.  The best part of it all is when everyone is feeling very comfortable and reminded that this is supposed to be fun, not stressful.  I love the feeling of everything being completed as well, knowing I got all the images anyone could possibly want and that it has come full circle.  Editing can be stressful when there is a lot to do, but it is definitely a favorite part of mine! I love completion, Knowing I started and finished something, that I created with my clients is a beautiful feeling.

10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?
The hardest part of being a photographer, professionally is creating a business.  We all have specialties that we want to share, and the idea of getting your camera, taking the photos, editing, delivering and repeating is very nice, but not the truth of the business.  How do you get those clients, how do you keep those clients, how do you get those clients to refer you to their friends and family?  There is so much that goes into running any business, and one that is so personal you have to make sure you are connecting with your clients on a deep level.  I am a very shy person to begin with, so getting out of my comfort zone was definitely a struggle!  My tip for someone starting out is, if you are uncomfortable you are doing something right.  Make sure to try out those things that you don’t know if they will work or not, they may not, but you don’t have to question it. Another huge struggle was being from Chicago, starting my business in St. Louis and moving to Denver to start over after 2 years of building a client base.  Find 50-100 people that are your ideal client, focus in on them and find out what makes them want to refer you, don’t go out looking for just anyone, find the ones that want to find you.  You are not everyone’s photography and not everyone is your client.
 
11)   Do you have any unconventional tips or tricks for getting your little clients to cooperate during a shoot?
When it comes to newborns, I send my clients a preparation pamphlet.  They know to keep baby up all morning, bring them in for a long feeding and with a warm room, white noise and a full belly, things typically move smoothly.  Pacifiers, while aren’t always parents favorites, work really well for newborn sessions.  If there are older siblings I highly suggest bringing them at the beginning or end of the session, it’s far too difficult to sit for 3 hours in warm room, while all the attention is on the new little one.
During family sessions I like to distract the kids as much as possible, playing high five and hide and go seek, make them feel like there is no camera involved, just play.  I also am more than happy to let them take some photos with my camera, one smile equals one photo they get to take.  And if all else fails, asking parents to tickle is a good option too!
 
12)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?
In the next 5 years I want my company to be a lifestyle for myself and my family.  I want to have more strict hours with myself, when I shoot, when I edit, when I spend time away from the business.  I hope to have a couple little ones of our own that we get to have family photos taken with and that I get to have a lifestyle with them while having a business I can uphold and continually be proud of.  I would like all of my business to be referral based and always let my clients know that they are number one, and I am forever grateful for their support and encouragement.

Thanks Talia!
Newborn, Family + Wedding photography

www.blissfulimpressions.com

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Exposure : Interview Series

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Hello again, everybody!  Thanks so much for keeping up with Exposure : Interview Series. We absolutely love getting to know more about our customers and sharing their work with the rest of you.  🙂
That being said, today I’d like to introduce you to Belinda Schenk-Sol. Keep reading to learn more about her and her business- I especially enjoy her vision for the future of her company!
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
My name Is Belinda Schenk-Sol, and I am owner and photographer of Belinda Sol Photography.
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?
I currently am renting my own studio space where I do most of my work but also offer on location and outdoor sessions.
3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
My primary focus and what I enjoy putting most of my time into is newborn photography. I find it my passion to be able to calm and sooth a baby and be able to pose them and show off their natural beauty for their parents to hold on to as sweet memories for years to come.
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
I am a very simple gal and enjoy shooting with my Canon EOS 600D. This camera has always felt the most natural to me and I have thought about upgrading but I just cant seem to leave this old friend behind! =)
5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
My favorite lens to use has got to be the 50mm. I have a variety of other lenses but this seems to always be my “go to” lens for most everything.
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?
I only shoot with natural light. I have dabbled a little into studio lighting in the past and just find it something I don’t feel is the right feel for me. I love being able to be moved by gorgeous light whether it may be a beautiful golden evening outdoors or a stunningly lit afternoon in my studio. I don’t think there is a better way by natural light or studio lighting, I feel that whatever you feel most inspired with and comfortable with is the best choice for you, and for me it is natural light.
7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
I am completely self taught. I have always enjoyed photography since I was a little girl, and one day I just bought my first big girl camera and decided to play around with it and research as much as I could to learn everything possible to constantly improve my skills and knowledge about all aspects of photography. I feel it is constantly evolving and adapting and something I will always be amazed with, constantly growing and learning everything I can.
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
My 3 boys and my husband inspire me every day, constantly giving me encouragement and support in everything I do. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. As far as a photographer that inspires me I would have to say Ana Brandt. I have always looked up to her for inspiration with her newborn photography. She is simply amazing.
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?

I enjoy every moment of my newborn sessions. From the moment we book to the first time I get to hold that precious little baby in my arms. To have the complete trust of these new mommies in me with their new loves. I find it so peaceful to be able to have these tiny babies fall asleep in my arms and for me to be able to witness such perfect natural beauty is almost unbelievable to me that this is my job!
10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?
My toughest struggle has to be that I am my own worst critic. I am constantly following so many photographers and prop companies and photography equipment sites, it can get a little overwhelming to feel like im not as good as this person or as amazing as that photographer. But in the end I am me, and no one else can be me. This is my passion and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
 I would suggest to someone starting out to be confident in their own vision and style. Never stop trying to learn and be a better photographer for what moves you but don’t let it overwhelm you. Everyone, even the best out there, was a beginner at some point and it is a great goal to have to always try to achieve the best you can be.
11)   Do you have any unconventional tips or tricks for getting your little clients to cooperate during a shoot?
I don’t really have any tips that aren’t out there already. I typically just have my studio pretty warm, and use a white noise sound off of an app on my phone. I am extremely patient when it comes to my newbies and children so maybe just stay calm, take all safety precautions necessary and be confident in yourself.
12)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?
In 5 years I see my company growing into a larger studio. I would love to have learned even more by then to be able to offer internships and classes to be able to share with other people wanting to learn the art of newborn photography. I hope to continue to move forward and be the go to photographer for babies in my little town in South Texas =) I don’t ask for much, just to continue to have the support of my wonderful family and amazing clients I have had the opportunity to work with =)

I absolutely LOVE every single product I have ordered from Custom Photo Props. Not only the products are amazing but the customer service was absolutely the best. Everyone was always so very kind and was quick to respond to any questions I have ever had.

Thanks, Belinda!!
Apollo Blue Faux Flokati                                                                  Hay Curly Sheep Fuax Fur
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Exposure: Interview Series

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Hi Everybody! Today I’d like to introduce Gina from Plume Designs Photography. Keep reading to see what she has to say about being a newborn photographer!  We love what she has to say about Custom Photo Props 🙂
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
Hi, my name is Gina and I am a portrait/newborn photographer and stationary designer based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?
While I dream of having my own studio one day, I currently market myself as an on location photographer. I find that my clients, newborn parents especially,  really enjoy that I bring everything to them. It gives them the ability to enjoy the experience in the comfort of their home.
3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
My business is based on photography for “life’s special moments.” With that said, my clients range from newborns, children, families, maternity etc. If there is a reason to celebrate an exciting life moment, I am honored to be trusted to help capture that moment in time so my clients can cherish it for a lifetime.
 Newborns however, is where my passion for photography drives me most. To capture such raw innocence, just days after entering the world, it is truly magical. That little baby will never be that tiny, sleepy, soft and purely angelic EVER again. I love giving my clients the opportunity to revel in those chubby cheeks and tiny fingers and toes, forever.
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
I am currently shooting with the Canon 6D and I LOVE it! I love shooting Canon and I love shooting full frame. Because I am mainly a natural light photographer, I appreciate its ability to capture great photographs in low light conditions. I will always be a Canon fan.
5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
I enjoy using my 50mm f/1.8 for that creamy bokeh. Who doesn’t love bokeh right? I also enjoy my 24-100mm f/4L for families and events. You can definitely tell the difference in glass with the L series.
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?
I personally, am partial to natural light photography because it is what I have spent years practicing and perfecting. Studio lighting, is a whole other art in it of itself. It requires an entire different set of knowledge and skill to perfect.
I don’t believe one to be better than other rather, just a matter of taste and personal style.
7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
I began my photography training in high school where I spent a lot of my lunches in the dark room. My high school photography teacher Mrs. Tomlin encouraged me to develop my skills and awarded me with several after-school opportunities outside of her class which really validated my skill and gave me the confidence to pursue it. Shooting several fashion shows along side professionals when you are seventeen is kind of a confidence booster!
I continued some formal education in college but once you know how to use the camera, school doesn’t really cut it anymore. I learned everything about portrait photography by constantly studying the techniques of others, reading anything I can get my hands on online and taking workshops.
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
I am constantly inspired by current trends in the store. I don’t shop like a normal person by any means. When I am at a store, I am always aware of what colors, styles, textiles, and design elements are trending. I also cannot shop without seeing certain bowls or baskets and automatically thinking to myself “Ouhhh I want to put a baby in THAT!” It certainly gives my friends a laugh.
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?
My favorite part during a session is when I give my client a peek at the back of my camera and they swoon over the image right then and there. It not only motivates me, but most importantly it motivates the client and gives them the confidence to relax a little knowing they are doing amazing in front of the camera.
10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?
I struggle most in this career with my confidence. I am victim of a perfectionist mindset and a highly trained eye which results in me constantly picking a apart my work after each session. However, it is that moment when my client first sees their gallery and is overwhelmed with joy that I am reminded I am great at what I do. I know I’m not the best photographer in the world and don’t want to be – because that is the driving force that propels me to get better every day.
11)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?
In five years, I would love to have my own design and photography studio. As a stationary designer and photographer, I want to give my clients the whole package. I want to not only provide them with timeless photographs but also the stationary to put those images on so they can share that joy with their loved ones.
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I have purchased several of my props from Custom Photo Props and I love their quality and customer service. They are always a pleasure to order from and I know my newborns are will most assuredly look adorable on/in them. Their props are professional grade and in return it helps give me professional results.
Thanks, Gina!!

Exposure: Interview Series

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TGIF!! Hope you have all had a busy and productive week like we did here at Custom Photo Props.
Today, I’m happy to introduce you all to Kassi from Little Willow Photography. She’s got some fantastic ideas for the future of her business- scroll down to read more.
1)      Who are you and where are you located?
Hello My name is Kassi Reuther and I am the owner of
Little Willow Photography located in Reno, Nevada, USA
2)      Do you have a home studio, rented space, or are you on location?

I have a studio in downtown Reno.
The majority of my sessions are done in studio, but I do offer an in home session for an additional fee.

3)      What subjects are your primary focus and which do you enjoy shooting the most?
Little Willow Photography specializes in maternity and newborn portraiture.   I enjoy photographing newborns the most but do follow the family throw the first year and beyond if they choose.
4)      There are so many different kinds of camera’s out there! What do you use and how did you decide on that particular one?
I use a Canon 5D Mark III.   To be honest I had already a lot of money invested in photography when I decided to create a business and upgrade my camera.  So I just stuck with the same brand.  As time has gone by I would love to convert to Nikon in the future when finances allow it.
5)      While we’re talking about equipment, what lens do you prefer to use and why?
I currently favor the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art.  I love this lens!  I enjoy the fact that it is so sharp, as well as the fact that I am still in arms length of any newborn or child that I am photographing.
6)      We hear a lot of debate on natural light vs. studio light, what are your thoughts on the subject?

I will be honest light is light, regardless of whether it is by the sun or man made.  When you have light you can create the same pieces of art.   I prefer to work with studio lighting as am not limited by the time of day or the posing preference of my little clients.

7)      How did you learn to be a photographer?
I have learned in various ways.  I took a few classes here in there while in college to give my academics diversity.  Once I graduated from college I just practiced and studio online images and material.  Then in January 2013, I decided it was time to take a newborn workshop with Meshelle Photography.  After that I have just been doing my normal practice and studying images that I feel are inspirational.  I have now decided to up my game with artificial light and mentor with Kirsten from Son Kissed Photography.
8)      What or who inspires you? Do you have a photographer you look up to?
I am inspired by so many photographers.  I think we all have our vary own still.  I love the macro and face images that Erin Elizabeth creates.  I love the simplicity and beautiful light of Son Kissed Photography.   There are just so many great things about so many great newborn photographers.
9)      When you’re doing a photoshoot or working an event, what is your favorite part?

I love working and modeling precious little newborns.  My joy comes from the parents expressions when they see their amazing pieces of art.

10)   What have you struggled with the most while having a career as a professional photographer? Any tips for somebody who is just starting out?

I struggle with the business aspect of being a professional photographer.   Running a business can be complicated at times and it defiantly takes more time then you would ever imagine starting out.

11)   Do you have any unconventional tips or tricks for getting your little clients to cooperate during a shoot?

I have all of my parents prep there babies for the hour or so before the session.  I feel that having my parents prep the babies really does help my workflow and timing of a session.

12)   Where would you like to see your company in the next five years?

I would like to expand my business to be a newborn experience, not only with my newborn work but a large amount of photographers all working together to provide a standard of quality in our community.   I would love to have a studio that has all the props and accessories that newborn photographers have that can be shared and rented for part time photographers.  I also would love to have a space for those part time photographers to safely photography newborn and baby clients.

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Thank you, Kassi!!