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.
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!