For Photographers

REST || A Letter To Photographers and Business Owners

7 days a week. 24 hours a day.

As an entrepreneur, it is easy to never really stop working. There are emails to be checked and sent, sessions to process, bills to pay, business planning to do, shoots to shoot... The list goes on and on. We thrive on "doing" and "going" and "moving forward" and "accomplishing" and "you fill in the blank." Yes, that was a lot of air quotes, but it's true. 

My me, my work is where I am. I am always thinking of the emails or social media messages I receive and need to respond to. Or the shoots that still need to be edited, or products that need to be processed. It's easy to never stop. 

BUT - we HAVE to take time to STOP.

I do not believe in the motto of working 24/7. Or pushing the grind until I am sick. I have done that. And let me just say, IT IS NOT HEALTHY. It doesn't make you a hero to push all nighter after all nighter and keep going going going "just because." Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. But ultimately I have learned that it is about time management, priorities, and placing boundaries to protect myself from living an unhealthy lifestyle of poor time management.

A friend once reminded me that no one on their death bed wishes they had worked harder or spent more time away from their family... And that hit me. 

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

As a business owner and entrepreneur it is hard to say "No" to clients or potential clients. We want to say YES all of the time (especially when you are first starting out) because you don't want to lose business. We live a life with NO boundaries and quickly learn that our time is being taken from us and we are spending the majority of our free time catching up or really, chasing it.

This coming September will be my 10th Anniversary. TEN years of running my own business. Ten years of learning, growing, and building. I have learned a LOT in how to run my own business over this last decade. Just saying that feels so surreal. But one of the BIGGEST things I have learned is that in order to remain "successful" at what I do, I HAVE to REST. I have to create and protect family time as well as personal time.

I am able to serve my clients better when my body and mind are healthy and when I have taken time for me. 

Want to be a successful business owner? Protect a day that is just yours. A day that you can rest from the everyday grind. A day that you do something 100% unrelated to what you to day in and day out. 

Make sure to rest. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

Happy Weekend!

Donut Worry About a Thing || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

Running a small business has its many challenges. Especially when you're a one-man-band doing it all. You wear many hats, from accountant to creative director to photographer, editor, sales person, and distributor. It's a lot. Some days you feel on your game while the next you feel like throwing in the towel and getting a (dare I say the dreaded phrase) "real job." 

If you are new to running a business there are SO many tools out there that can help you run your business smoothly. For example, the company 17 Hats helps eliminate a lot of the paper shuffling and centralize a lot of the administrative work into one app to assist with workflow.

If you are a photographer, ShootProof is my go to for clients purchasing and viewing once their gallery goes live. It has literally made that part of my life SO much smoother for both my clients and myself. I currently do not offer in-person sales due time restrictions in my calendar and also have clients who travel long distances to my studio, so ShootProof brings their images into their home for easy and smooth viewing as well as purchasing.

Image by Natalie Frank

Image by Natalie Frank

The one thing I highly recommend as a business owner is learning what your strengths are and outsourcing the areas you are weakest. Knowing this will make you THAT much stronger of a person and business. But this takes time. In the beginning it is daunting, but don't worry, it gets better. You may have to push through some all-nighters and spend countless hours working on projects to hit those deadlines. Some days may even feel like one step forward two steps back... But there is such a great reward when you keep persevering and pushing past those those hard days. No one every said owning your own business would be "easy." But it is oh so rewarding.

Newborn Session Behind the Scenes || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

If you are new to newborn photography, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the many moving parts. Or feel like a lot of time needs to be spent on one pose "perfecting" those little toes or getting the fingers "perfect." When I finally let go of "perfectionism" within newborn sessions is when I found freedom to create what I envisioned and finally relaxed. 

When I first started photographing babies almost 8 years ago, I would enter the session and think, "I'm going to do this pose, and this set up, and use that new prop, and use that wrap, and those headbands, and do this artistic thing here, and do this amazing pose there..." I had a laundry list of things I wanted to execute. Thus, setting myself up for feeling like a failure when my client arrived and the baby was having NONE of what I had planned. 

That's when the light went on. I was trying to conquer Mt Everest without a plan. Without first getting to know the little person I was getting ready to photograph. I talk about this in my newborn guide, The Art of Newborn Photography and how important it is to spend a little time at the beginning of the session learning what the baby likes and dislikes.

Image by Arlene Chambers

For example, is the baby easy going? Does he/she let me mold them and move their arms and legs without flailing? Does he like his tummy? Does she like to lay on her back? All of these elements are important to know and recognize when photographing a newborn. It is also important learn your OWN techniques, tricks, and things that you are comfortable doing during a newborn session.

Image by Arlene Chambers

Image by Arlene Chambers

There are poses I will NOT do because I am not comfortable with them or because I know they are not good for the baby. It is okay to also say NO to a suggested pose that a client presents. While yes, we all want to please our client and give them what they have asked, it is also important to know your comfort level and also what you're capable of doing. For me, complicated composites don't scare me. I enjoy them. HOWEVER, if I know it will not work or that I am not comfortable with a suggested pose, I am ready to say no. Because why? I know my limitations.

Image by Arlene Chambers

Incorporating parents and siblings is a must for me. In fact, if parents are on the fence on whether or not they want to be in photographs, I will always strongly encourage it. They images don't have to go on the wall and they don't even have to purchase the image. But 99.9% of the time, they thank me for encouraging them to participate in the shoot. It's always about "glamour" but about the connection and itty-bitty little baby resting in mommy and daddy's arms.

Image by Arlene Chambers

Image by Arlene Chambers

Here are a couple quick tips I recommend doing before your next newborn session:

1.) Plan and prepare, but ALWAYS have a backup plan. If baby doesn't like all of the props you've prepared that would have them on their tummy, make sure you have setups prepped and ready to go for something different.

2.) Go slow, don't feel rushed, and have SIMPLE poses prepared. Don't feel tempted or pressured to conquer to Mt Everest in your first newborn sessions. Have simple beautiful poses ready to go. If that means having lots of wraps ready, swaddling baby and doing beautiful poses where baby is in layers, do that.

3.) Don't forget the details! Filling a gallery doesn't mean have 20 different set-ups and props. It means planning and prepping and knowing what you need to get. For example, I love incorporating macro shots of baby's little details from their toes to the details of their lips and little fingers. If baby has a ton of hair, photograph the details. All of these images create an incredible wall collage for your client later and also adds images to their gallery.

I could keep going on all of the little simple tricks that I have learned over the years to create easy and smooth newborn sessions. For more information on my newborn mentoring opportunities, click here. Until then, happy shooting!

Image by Arlene Chambers

Work for a Cause || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

I loved this quote.

It is easy in life to want "applause" for the things we do. I know for me, after I have worked hard to clean the house or do extensive yard work, or (FILL IN THE BLANK) there are times it would be nice to have a personal "applauser." You know, someone standing next to me applauding me, telling me what a great job I had done. But in reality, we all know that doesn't happen.

In my opinion, this happens within artistic work as well, and with the wrong people. Often we are looking for applause from social media sites saying, "LOOK AT MEEEE!!! AREN'T I AWESOME?! Now like my _______ darn it!" We've all been guilty of doing it too. Whether it's with business or not.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

Within the photography industry, our #1 person we should be looking to please is our client. The person who is paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to have you capture an incredible moment of their life. If it becomes a job where all we're hoping for is a huge applause at the end of the day and not focusing on the cause, then I feel we've lost focus.

We've all been there. We've all done it, which is why I loved this simple reminder to live selflessly.  

Community Over Competition || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

I love teaching other photographers. There is so much joy in helping someone, collaborating with someone, or just building them up and giving them encouragement. When it comes to running your own business, we need these people in our lives. And because we need these people, I have chosen to also be one.

It is easy to tell an industry what it "needs" to look like. Or that people "need" to be kind, stop competing, and work together. It's another thing to live it.

When I first started out in this industry over 10 years ago, it was hard. I'll be honest. I am very much self taught. I studied a lot. Joined professional photography forums to learn all that I could. And read a LOT of book. A lot of my so called "successes" are from learning experiences. Looking back at sessions and saying, "I would do this different next time."

I have tried to live my entire journey as a photographer open handed. If asked a question on how to do something, I would answer honestly. If a photographer emailed because they were struggling, I would encourage and help them as much as I knew I could.

When I chose to begin teaching newborn workshops I also chose to not include a radius in which those around in my area could not learn. I.e. I chose to teach those even living within my same target market. Why? Because ultimately it doesn't matter. People shop, they choose photographers based on style, personality, word of mouth etc. So to be "worried" that someone could take "my" client (as if I own people within a certain radius of me) is straight up ridiculous.

I love teaching. And if I can help a fellow entrepreneur be even that more successful, confident, ready, and inspired to keep growing that craft, then I have done my job. Not to mention, it is absolutely humbling when I am approached by a fellow photographer within my field to coach them in an area they want to grow.

Pacific Northwest Newborn Mentor

I had the awesome opportunity to work with Arlene Chambers for a 1:1 Newborn Mentoring session. She is both gorgeous on the inside and outside and is a talented professional photographer who shoots all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Being a professional photographer is tough. Owning and running your own business is even harder. Supporting each other, building one another up and helping each other grow is what it is all about. That, to me, is what it's all about.

Goodbye November || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

December will be here in less than 12 hours. For many in the world, it is already here. But for us in the Pacific Northwest, we still have a bit of time.

I'm not sure about you, but this time of year can feel like I am being pulled in a hundred of different ways. So this year I am working hard to make time for quiet moments. Moments where I am able to spend time working on things that I really love, like business planning. 

In 4 weeks people will begin sharing their New Year's Resolutions or writing down goals they want to accomplish. (Side note: It is a proven fact that those who write down their goals are more apt to accomplish them). For me, I like to use this time to look back on the year and ask myself how it has gone. What do I want to change? How do I want to improve my business? How do I want to make the experience my are client's having with me that much better?

The Thanksgiving holiday gave me 4 much needed hours in the car to relax and read. When I am at home I feel like I need to be "doing." Much of my business takes place at my home office, along with many other things... So it is difficult for me to just sit and focus on things that I would like to do.

Entrepreneur Magazine || Shared on my personal IG account

Entrepreneur Magazine || Shared on my personal IG account

This recent trip provided me with the opportunity to open one of my favorite business magazines and sit and read, highlight and underline. It gave me time to think, reflect, and plan. Being a business owner is hard, but oh so rewarding. 

So as we say goodbye to November and enter another month full of hustle and bustle, carve out time to pause, reflect, build, and plan. I need it and so do you. 

Insecurity More Dreams... || Pacific Northwest Portrait & Wedding Photographer

There you are. Standing in front of a dream that feels like Mt. Everest. You've often daydreamed of what it would be like to conquer the fear of trying, yet have never brought yourself to actually do it... So you just stand there, looking, dreaming, yet never pursuing.

When I first began pursuing photography as a career 10 years ago, I had MANY people tell me "good luck" in a cynical way, almost waiting for me to fail. Not only had I had NO experience running my own business, I was entering a field that was, in many ways, flooded.

How would I compete? How would I stick out? Would anyone actually TRUST me to photograph them? Could I made this a successful business?

But instead of allowing those questions to scare me, they fueled me. Instead of letting those around me create opposition, I ran harder and focused on what the task was. I pushed the insecurities aside and decided that trying was better than standing still. Failing was better than never trying.

Free Download by Inspiration DE

Free Download by Inspiration DE

It is easy to let insecurities kill dreams. God knows there are enough critics out there who will tell you "you will never get there..." But the biggest voice to overcome is your own.

So what big mountain are you standing in front of? What large dream are you hoping for?

If I can give one piece of advice, it would be this: DREAM BIG and kick those insecurities to the curb. It's better to fail at trying then to have never tried at all.

You've got this. Now GO!

1:1 Newborn Workshop Recap || Pacific Northwest Newborn Photography

7 hours, 3 newborns, 2 photographers, 1:1 mentoring.

I absolutely LOVE having the opportunity to meet and teach fellow photographers. When you're first starting out in this industry, it can feel daunting. There are many voices, opinions, and opportunities to learn. And when a fellow photographer asks me to help them along in their journey, I feel completely and truly honored.

Yesterday, I had the lovely opportunity to teach Lindsay, a fellow photographer who resides in the greater Portland, OR area. All three babies were incredible and did such a wonderful job modeling for us. 

Special thanks to the three families who participated! I could have snuggled all of them all day long!!

Here's a little sneak peek from our day together!

Pacific Northwest Newborn Photography by Michelle Newell
1:1 Newborn Photography Mentoring by Michelle Newell
Seattle Newborn Photography by Michelle Newell
Pacific Northwest Newborn Photography by Michelle Newell
Seattle 1:1 Newborn Photography Workshop by Michelle Newell
Newborn Photography Workshop by Michelle Newell
Michelle Newell Photography Newborn Workshop
Pacific Northwest Newborn Photography by Michelle Newell

all images copyright protected and the property of michelle newell photography
please do not copy || save || alter images from blog