Meet Laura Davis! She is the owner of Everyday Charming Image Boutique, and recently launched two more branches of her business - Charming Child and Charming in Love. Keep reading to find out her secrets to staying sane and running a successful business venture simultaneously!
Find her online at:
1. What do you enjoy the most about being a photographer?
I adore the lifestyle that photography has afforded me the last ten years. Granted there have been times to step back and allow it to float and times to lean in and push to the next level. Over all my business has afforded me the luxury to grow with it. I was only just a kid when I took the first step (with my dad's prompting) to sign a lease and open my doors as a portrait studio.
Now my business runs virtually as well as on location in Chicago, but for a few years I had the opportunity to physically be apart of a brick and mortar business community which was yet another enjoyable experience. Working in a seasonal industry you learn quickly to think outside the box. The 'outside the box' thinking I wish I'd done in my twenties is take some accounting classes!
2. How many photo shoots do you average a year?
This is a multi level question so stick with me a minute. My portrait company, Everyday Charming, averages 25 high school and established family sessions per year. By 'established family' I'm referring to families with children mostly over twelve years. I find at this stage families are wanting to capture life as it is before becoming empty nesters - or having quieter nests! We spend weeks planning for these sessions; perfecting clothing choices, measuring for future canvas in their homes and choosing the shoot location to compliment their homes' decor. Literally each element is planned before these sessions ever happen.
My younger sibling site, Charming Child, is the polar opposite. Specializing in children's lifestyle photography, Charming Child focuses on kids 0-12 years being their crazy cool selves. As you might image nothing is planned or contrived as we document their lives. This side of the Charming brand has only begun last August and so our sessions per year is undermined. My associate photographers shot at a break neck pace the last season, nearly 50 sessions. Since these are far less involved then Everyday Charming's sessions we can pop in and out of client's homes in less then 2 hours and offer a rate young parents can afford multiple times a year.
Our newest addition, Charming in Love, shows off our romantic side. We've only just launched this Valentines Day and are currently booking 2016 brides, it's wild how far in advance we must plan here but it keeps us on our toes we've projected 10 weddings in 2015. We specialize in sophisticated nuptials for the couple who adores classic glamor. Stay tuned.
3. How has outsourcing your photo editing has improved your business model?
It's always been very important to me to keep my business clear and concise in the services we offer. For years I've turned down photographing weddings because I knew the infrastructure was not in its perfect place. I had two specialties with Everyday Charming and my clients knew what they could expect in all areas. I began outsourcing my editing during a huge boom in business five years ago. I was over worked and worried if I held on to too many of the key pieces they would eventually come crashing down around me. I also worried about the national statistic stating photographers on average continue their profession ten years. Ding, ding, ding… I have no intention at quitting at five, ten or thirty! Was this a massive noise in the back of my head?
Absolutely! I knew I needed editing systems in place and so with a micromanagers attitude I contacted Joy. It took months to feel like I could loosen my grip on post production. I would meticulously scour her culled and retouched images to find not one overlooked. I'm embarrassed to think of the hours I've wasted repeating this task. But like handing your children off to the sitter for the first few times I held on. Nearly 5 years later relying on professional post processing is what keeps my businesses rolling each season. Before launching each branch of my brand I've worked hard to create a look and feel for post production that reflects its own place within my brand. It's become my secret to sanity sending off EVERY image after a session. Out of mind, out of sight. Like magic they reappear to be shared with our pleased clients.
4. Describe your favorite shoes in your closet:
I just realized while dashing off this last weekend to a photo shoot what kind of a relationship I have with my shoes. In the 3rd year of my business I had an entire wash basket full of broken, yet loved shoes, 20 some pairs. This career is hard on my foot's wardrobe. The basket boasted many heels snapped in half, rips in unlikely places and rubber soles peeling their way to freedom. I was sad. I saved every last one in hopes of creating a shoe sculpture one day that would remind me of the pain involved in building a business. My favorite pair right now are probably the Valentino flats I wore to my wedding in March, very lady-like flats with some snarky gold studs.
5. What is the biggest challenge in running your own photography business?
Time management is my biggest struggle. I'm a born perfectionist who never knows when to say good enough.
6. Your favorite item in your makeup bag?
This is hard… I'm a product junky. The there are three items that have stayed with me for years now… my Nars lipstick in Damage, Nars Sheer Glow foundation in Punjab and Laura Mercier highlighting powder in Startdust. Stardust isn't produced any longer so if you see me in a lady fight its probably over this shimmery little dust.
7. What accomplishment as a photographer are you most proud of?
I'm most amazed by the fact that I can shape my own destiny through my career as a photographer. There's a world of opportunity for small business living here in the States. It took living and traveling abroad to realize just how great this opportunity is. You only have to reach out for it and then be willing to repeat daily to continue making it a reality. I can't really claim any of this accomplishment on my own. I'm blessed to have a loyal and supportive team behind me encouraging my next steps.
Narrowing down those photos while culling can be difficult - and when you have an emotional attachment to them because of the family connection you witness while photographing them, it's even more challenging! It's hard to do, but I've found these 4 ways to do it successfully.
1 - Go With Your Gut.
I go through each photo shoot more than once as I'm culling, but the first time I am "going with my gut." I eliminate each and every photo that my gut is telling me I shouldn't keep. (If there is a photo that you just absolutely regret cutting, don't worry you can always go back and find it on your hard drive later!) More times than not, I realize I don't even miss the photos I initially eliminated. Your initial quick judgements are valuable (there are even studies on this! :)
2- Go With the Best of the Best
Once the initial photos are gone, I focus on those interactions between family members. Those smiles and laughs are valuable moments frozen in time for your clients! I know I am preaching to the choir there, though! :) However, they don't need EVERY single photo in a series that shows that wonderful interaction. I'm going to give it to you straight - you need to pick the BEST of the best and eliminate the rest. If you have 15 photos of a family smiling at one another on the same park bench, you've got to narrow it down to at least 3 photos, and if there are not noticeable differences between those 3 photos, you've got to narrow it down to 1. I know it's hard! But you can do it!
3- Go For Variety
I strive for variety. If your family session has 10 landscape portraits in which everyone has their "model" pose going on, in 10 different locations around town, narrow that down to the best 3-5.
4 - Go for the Important Things
Does the family have a special tree on their property that is meaningful to them? Save those photos and eliminate the ones around the swimming pool if it's not as important to them.
Bottom line is: You can do this! If you want to take the emotional aspect out all together, you can always outsource your culling & editing. An outside set of eyes will not be as emotionally attached to the photos, but they will recognize meaningful interaction when they see it. As an Editor, I am always looking for the laughter and smiles that make your sessions meaningful!
My desk & office space is very important to me. I want to make sure it’s warm, inviting, and a place that I actually enjoy being. I am more inspired that way! I have several things that make my office space just the perfect place for creating.
When we first saw this home, I was thrilled with the dormer ceilings in this space! I could envision my office here - and it had a window which was a must-have. (Something about having the window open when it rains, you know!) Note on those dormer ceilings - they are COOL for sure.. but you do have to watch bumping your head!
My husband and I envisioned and crafted my desk. I LOVE it! Its so special having a custom piece, and it’s EXACTLY what I wanted! We made it out of pallet boards.
I love the farmhouse feel to it. It’s rustic, but practical as well! Baskets fit inside the cubby spaces for "drawers." Baskets from Hobby Lobby
This cute little lamp belonged to Aaron's grandmother - it now sits proudly on my desk. It's amazing how something several years old matches my style to a T!
My inspiration board is filled with favorite photos and quotes. I painted the stripes by taping it off. Those glasses are a lifesaver at times - they're my Gunnar anti-glare specs.
Another feature that I just love was a result of another brainstorm session with my husband. I needed some way to block out the light in my office area (if I’m editing during the day it can really get bright in there!) And I needed a place I could make notes and keep track of project workflow. Because of the dormer ceiling, there isn't much wall space, so no place to hang a chalkboard. We solved this problem by making CHALKBOARD SHUTTERS. (We thought we were pretty genius!)
A girl's gotta have her storage! I use this cube shelving that I bought ages ago.
Joy Danielle business cards. Thanks Moo.com! The "You Were Made to Smile" print was a gift from my friend Naomi Wilcox at Nomi Photography! (www.nomiphotography.com)
Thank you for taking a peek at my office space! (Marlie loves it here too!)
Joy Phillips has been providing a personalized, custom, post production experience for photographers for several years. She loves to give her clients beautiful photos.. and their lives back!