Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fail Again. Fail Better.

Since I've started my business' on Etsy I've gotten really good at failing.  I didn't mean that in "I'm a loser slash failure" sort of way.  I meant it in a "I don't give up when things don't work out quite the way I meant them" kind of way.  My life has become all about taking chances and sometimes succeeding and, more often than not, failing and then getting back up and trying again.  And trying again as many times as I need to in order to  succeed.  It's a lot of work and I'm not saying that I don't get frustrated or discouraged, because I do.  However, my desire to succeed is a driving force in my life - and failure is not an option. I know that successful people have their failures - but what sets them apart from others  is that they don't quit.

I'm always looking for ways to promote my shop.  I  just know that it's all about numbers - the more people who know I exist - the better chances of making sales - I know I have a customer base out there - we just haven't connected...yets.  Tonight I tried Tophatter for the first time.  Tophatter is an on-line, virtual auction house.  According to their website "Every day, buyers and sellers from all over the world gather for live auctions that are fun, fast, and feature fabulous items at exclusive prices."  So...I set up my account, I chose the lovely photograph of the tulip to auction off, I set a reserve price of $5.00, submitted it to an upcoming auction...and didn't get one bid and no one bought my photograph.  What I did get is exposure.  I got thirty views on Tophatter - so there are thirty more people who know about my shop tonight than knew about it a day ago.

So what are my plans?  I'm going to do it again.  I've submitted four more of my photos for other auctions.  What the hell...it didn't cost me anything but a little time...which I have plenty of.  And I refuse to be defeated - I will sell a photo if it kills me (and even if it's a loss).  That's just how I roll.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blog Feature Monday! Kayann Short of Stonebridge Works

Photo Courtesy of Stonebridge Works
This week the photographer I’m featuring is Kayann Short of Stonebridge Works – a collaborative of local artisans who farm, teach, write and create at Stonebridge Farm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Her shop features many hand-crafted items that are stunning and beautifully made, butit's her hand-made farm photography cards that have capture my attention. Kayann has an eye for capturing life around the farm in such an exquisite way - the light is soft and beautiful and the compositions are simple and elegant.   I can't help but think that she's found a little bit of heaven on earth. With Kayann's permission I'm sharing some my favorite images from her shop with you. If you want to learn more about this incredibly talented photographer please read on...

1. Tell me about your photography. Where do you find your inspiration?

What is your favorite subject to shoot? I love to shoot pictures on our farm, Stonebridge, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I like the iconic objects on the farm like our John Deere B tractor and our hundred-year-old barn, but I also love to shoot my flowers because their beauty astonishes me. I like to tell stories with my photography, both in the image itself and by putting them together in digital storytelling form. Some of my favorite farm images can be seen in my piece Stonebridge Farmgiving. I’d like to shoot more narrative photos and have been experimenting with that on trips to cities like Portland, OR, and Denver, CO. I guess I’m saying that I find inspiration just about everywhere I look.

2. Do you shoot film, digital or both?

I primarily shoot digital these days except when I’m focusing on black and white. Then I use my old 35mm camera because I like the look of the photos I get on black and white film, especially for portraits.

3. Who is your favorite photographer? It can be anyone - famous, obscure, on Etsy, a friend.

I love how Dorothea Lange took photographs in difficult and desperate situations but gave great dignity to her subjects, expressing their humanity in the midst of their pain. I also love Edward Weston’s work with still life. I recently saw exhibits of both these photographers and realized how much they’d influenced my work without my even knowing it.
Photo Courtesy of Stonebridge Works

4. Describe what would be the perfect day of shooting for you.

I’m really captivated by the right light so my perfect day would begin and end with soft light and some clouds in the sky to make colors more intense. Then I’d like a background that helps tell the story, maybe at the ocean or maybe a street fair. I am always careful about taking photos of people in identifiable ways so I try for angles that obscure faces. My perfect day would include finding some unpredictable shots or finding a strategy to show something familiar in an unfamiliar way.

5. What venues do you use to sell your photography?

I sell my photographs at an art gallery in our small town of Lyons, CO, and my photography cards on Etsy. I’m hoping to expand to prints soon.

If you want to learn more about Kayann and the Stonebridge Farm, please check out the following links:

Etsy shop:  Stonebridge Works
Blog:  Pearlmoonplenty
Online Portfolio:  Stonebridge Farm Album

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's all about the photographs!

Forget-Me-Nots - growing in my garden
With all the promoting I've been doing for my shop Dragonfly Photography, it's real easy to lose sight why I started this little adventure - my love of photography.  Somehow, carving out time to go out and take photographs takes a back seat to the day job (that pays the bills), my activities of daily living (aka:  housework, yard work, cooking dinner, sleep and paying attention to the cats), maintaining relationships with friends and family (Facebook can only take you so far).  I have mentioned my other shop, Dancing Monkey Jewelry, which has been sorely neglected, along with it's blog, The Dancing Monkey Jewelry Chronicles.  My husband thinks I have too many irons in the fire, and I'm inclined to agree with him but I don't want to give up any momentum I've gained by stopping now.  And then I've been toying around with the idea of starting a life-style portrait business.  Why am I doing this?  I want to start living my dream life - the one that currently exists in my mind.  

Cherry Blossoms - from the cherry tree in my front yard
I've been laid off three times in the last three years - I'm now in a secure position and have no fear of being laid off - the job is demanding and the hours are long. Factor in a substantial pay cut and there are days where the stress meter is through the roof.  I would love to make enough money through my photography and jewelry  to quit the day job in Seattle (and get rid of the 3 hour daily round trip commute), and get a part-time job in Tacoma that has benefits.  It's a work/life balance thing - and it's not as easy as it sounds to achieve.  

I'm hoping that I'll be able to get back out in the field and take some photographs soon.  Right now I'm preparing for a visit by family, a baby shower, and a fundraiser in August where I'll be selling both my jewelry and photography, and I'll be shooting my first Wedding in September. So with that I'm going to sign off for now and accomplish some things off line.  Wish me luck.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blog Feature Monday! Susan Hughes of King Happy Creations

Needing a little inspiration for my blog I decided to fall back on one my favorite things to do - feature other artists that sell on Etsy. Being that this is a photography blog I decided to feature artists who share a love of mine:  Photography!  My first photographer is Susan Hughes (no relation) of King Happy Creations. Susan is an incredibly talented photographer who creates lovely, vibrant nature images that I can't stop looking at - they are absolutely stunning.  Susan has allowed me to share a couple of her favorite images with you - but you really should mosey on over to her store to check out the rest.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed. 
Susan  Hughes - King Happy Creations
Do you want to know more about this talented photographer? Well…read on:

1. Tell me about your photography. Where do you find your inspiration? What is your favorite subject to shoot?

My inspiration is in the quiet moments provided by nature. I love the smell, feel, and bright colours found in the garden, woods, and sea. I love getting close to something others may have passed by, like a new blossom, a strawberry ripe for the picking, or a butterfly taking a breather on a leaf. I do dabble in portraits from time to time, but I find myself drawn to photographing nature more than anything else.

2. Do you shoot film, digital or both?

Professionally I shoot digital, and for fun I love to play with film. If I had my own space for film processing, I'm sure I would do it much, much more!

3. Who is your favorite photographer? It can be anyone - famous, obscure, on Etsy, a friend.
Susan Hughes - King Happy Creation

My favorite photographer. Hmm. That is a toughie. I think I'm going to have to go totally typical and say Richard Avedon. His ability to create art out of a moment is uncanny, and he essentially created a new genre, permanently changing the way fashion is shot.

4. Describe what would be the perfect day of shooting for you.
My perfect day of shooting would begin shortly after sunrise in a nearby woods. I would spend the morning frolicking around shooting this and that until the harsh noon light caught up with me. I'd then eat a picnic lunch with a friend and spend the afternoon posing and playing with my Nikon. Then we'd drive out to the beach, and I would capture the sunset dipping down behind the California coast with the camera in my right hand and a glass of wine in the other. Wow. Now that I see that all written out, I need to make it happen.

5. What venues do you use to sell your photography?

My primary venue at this time is Etsy - I've just re-opened my shop and getting it up and running is quite time consuming! However I have sold my work in street fairs and craft shows, and plan on pursuing getting exhibited and involved in my local art community later this year!

6. If you're as big a fan of Susan's work as I am, please check out her links:

Blog: www.kinghappyblog.wordpress.com/

If you know of any talented photographer that sells on Etsy that you think would a) benefit by being featured on a blog and b) would like to be featured on a blog, please let them know about my blog features.  I would love to make this an ongoing feature for my blog. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

I'm sitting here contemplating what I'm going to do today.  Will it be yardwork or will it be grabbing my camera and heading down to the waterfront and taking in the Freedom Fair?  What I do know is that I wish you all a safe and happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Welcome to the "Nifty 50's"!

Your's truly turned 50 years old yesterday.  I spent the day celebrating with too much food, just enough drink and most of my favorite people in the world (friends and family).  It was a good day.  To celebrate turning 50 I decided to have a 50% off sale in my shop on Etsy  - Dragonfly Photography.  I'm trying to make some big changes in my life - one of them being creating a successful lifestyle photography business in Tacoma, Washington and creating a vibrant and successful shop on Etsy - and what better time to start working on making the life  that currently only exists in your dreams are reality than your 50th birthday?  Now my sale is turning into a fundraiser of sorts.

Bruce and me enjoying a day at the beach in Westport, Washington
My loveable pooch, Bruce, who I've had since he was a young pup, had a couple of seizures on Saturday and we spent a good amount of time at an emergency animal hospital that night.  The prognosis is either mild epilepsy or a brain tumor.  He's doing fine now but he's not bouncing back like he should so we'll be going in for a follow up with our regular vet later on this week.  I'm hoping it's just mild epilepsy but I'm a realist and I'm sure it's more serious as all his symptoms are indicating a brain tumor as the emergency vet doctor cautioned me it could be.

I've decided to extend my birthday celebration sale until the end of the month - hoping that I will be able to raise some extra money to help with Bruce's vet bills.  Finances are tight and the added unexpected cost of Bruce's vet bills is a little stressful (ok - a lot stressful).  So I'm reaching out and asking for help.  It's really a win/win situation for me and you:  if you purchase a photograph from my shop, you get a lovely photograph (at 50% off) and I get a little help with the vet bills and perhaps a little more time with my dog.  If you can't help out with a purchase perhaps you could spread the word via your blog that would be great.  Thank you for any help you can provide. 

The coupon code for my promotion is "HappyBirthday".

Friday, April 27, 2012

Changes at Dragonfly Photography

Last weekend I had the honor of taking the engagment photographs of a very dear friend, Lizzie aand and her fiance, Angel.  I've known Lizzie (or Liz as she is called now) since she was a little girl, I've watched her daughters grow up to fine young women and I'm so happy that she is marrying a wonderful guy. 
With that news I'd like to introduce you to my new business "Dragonfly Lifestyle Photography".  We're not just about fine art and home decor photography anymore!!!  If you follow me on Facebook you'll know that I've been a little discouraged that with all the effort I'm putting into my shop the results have been a bit under whelming.   It's understandable - Etsy is a very big site and there's tons of competition and I'm starting from square one again.  It's my hope that having a local business will help to generate sales in my Etsy shop or even provide income outside of Etsy.

And the changes keep coming.  I've been investigating new venues to sell my photography and have chosen Fine Art America.  It's similiar yet different than Etsy so it will be interesting to see what results this web site yields.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm back and I hope you missed me...

I know I was gone a long time but now I'm back and I'm trying to pick-up where I left off.  The past 3 years have been very interesting and haven't been conducive to my blogging life.  However, I'm on the cusp of turning 50  years old and I want to start living that life that lives in my head - instead of it being a hope and a dream I want it to be a reality. I'm trying to balance the demands of my job as the assistant to the director/principal investigator for a cancer research at in a prominent university, my personal life (without alienating the affections of my husband, 2 cats and my dog) and this shop.  It's a lot of work - much more than I remember it being.

I've quietly started working and promoting my photography shop on Etsy - Dragonfly Photography.  I've added new items to store, spruced up the listings to optimize SEO searches (I'm not totally sure what that means - but it seems to be important), and I've spent an inordinate amount of time promoting my shop on Facebook, have created my wholesale sheet on Trunkt, and, I have a couple of blog features happening in April and May.  All this to drive traffic to my shop, in the hopes that all this work will generate some sales.

One thing I've noticed working on my store for the last month is how much I missed my on-line community and all the connections I made.  It feels good to be back.  Knowing that I'm not typing my heart out and not getting lost out there somewhere really makes me feel good.

It's good to be back and I hope you'll be here to keep me company.