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Thursday, March 31, 2011

WINNER of the GIVEAWAY announced!

Happy April Fool's Day everyone!!!  

It's no joke though, Rachel Boer is our winner!!!!!!  Congratulations Rachel!  I'm so excited for you!


I will be posting more details on who could win the local winnings of a $100 print credit to our studio and the Sweet Treats cake pops!  If you are local and interested in winning these prizes, would you please comment below? 

Thanks,
Rachel King

Inspiration for a random Thursday

I would like to introduce you to the ever-so-talented and inspiring Amanda from Amanda Marie Photography!  I'm so thrilled she took the time to guest blog for us this week! She has an excellent post in store for you,  so without further delay - Give it up for AMANDA!!!


Inspiration for a random Thursday

Be inspired by your true inspirations.

First I would like to thank Rachel for the opportunity to be her Guest Blogger here. I love blogging and when I saw her offer to do so, I just had to jump on it.

I thought about so many topics to write about but everything just seemed to not be flowing out of me. If I have to force it, I don’t write about it.

I have been on a journey for inspiration these last few days. I plan to do a huge post on my blog about inspiration but I thought I while I was feeling inspired I should share it. My mother always told me to be nice and share. So here it is!

With the warm weather I am finding myself outside looking for things that make me happy. Whether it is just a scene, an item or just the feeling of the sun. I have also been photographing the things that inspire me. I love finding inspiration. Displaying inspiration is a great way to start you day. Imagine…Waking up and coming out to a wall of things you love. I strongly support tearing out magazine images or phrases that make you smile and putting them on display. Photograph anything that brings you joy. Even if it is just a random piece of trash laying just so on the ground.

I am inspired by the tones on other photos. Sun Flare is my biggest influence.  I love the curious awkwardness of children and silly faces. I love funky clothes and things that are just odd. Big glasses, antique anything, the color green and handwritten letters. I like torn out pages fraying ends of thread and beads. These are things that inspire me. Most people wouldn’t choose those things when asked “what inspires you?” I never would have either. Well, because those sound crazy. But they do inspire me. They inspire me to create or just to smile. They make me curious and want to learn. Get in touch with your inner muse! Even if it is odd. Even if you think people will laugh. They will, I can promise you that. People get uncomfortable around things they do not understand.

When I began photographing I tried to do the photographs that everyone else was doing. I hid the real types of photos I liked to do. As I slowly became more comfortable with myself as a photographer I started tapping into those inspirations I had kept hidden. It was only then that my business began to flourish and grow wild like. I finally was ME as a photographer. I was the funky, curious and daydreaming Photog I always knew was in there. My images took on a life of their own and my daydreams were being printed and hung in clients homes. It was an amazing feeling to take my true inspirations and use them like they were meant to be used. I could lie and say oh I am inspired by {insert blah blah here} But that just stopped working for me. I wanted purple tones, I wanted sun flare. Sunflare makes my entire day happy!

So GO be inspired by your true self! Become you!  Rip apart magazines, Dangle ribbons from your ceiling, paint an entire wall in your house Yellow. If its you then do it! I wanted to share a couple images of my recent inspirations. All of these were found around my house.

1. My bike and my basket. I feel free when I am riding it. I feel funky and I close my eyes and see sunflare around me. I imagine myself at the farmers market filling up my basket, I am wearing a sweet vintage sun hat and I have a fabulous sun dress on. 
 2. Magazine cut outs. I LOVE to cut out things I like. Whether is a style of clothing, a ton on a photo or just a piece of d├ęcor that I swoon over.

3. A vintage Strawberry Short bike I picked up for my daughter. She is not even close enough to being able to ride it. But something about the Banana seat makes me think of my childhood and being free. I love to feel free to create and free to play with my children as if I am a child too. Crawling on the ground and being free with them produces the best images.


 Feel free to stop by my blog anytime and see what is inspiring me on any given day. Or come by my Facebook and see what silly things I have been chatting about.

This Wishful Wednesday is brought to you by the "G" of R&G Photography.  What are you wishful for?  Google's auto-complete feature seems to indicate that there are a lot of people who wish they had duck feet.  I, for one, would go with eagle feet long before duck feet but that's not the point.  Discuss in the comments!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Priorities

This week I'm going to devote to "getting my priorities" in order.  I think it is SO important (especially when you own your own business) to remind yourself of what you're living for.... and I just wanted to share with you my top ten priorities.  These are what makes my life fulfilled and worth living.

1. My Savior Jesus Christ, God, my heavenly Father - whatever you might call him.  When I lay my head down at night - I know that he is who got me through the day, week, month, year that I've had.  He's with me through my struggles and successes.

2. My husband.  He is my hero.  I thank God for putting such a patient and loving man in my life.  There is no one who could replace the joy he brings me.

3. My family & friends.  They coexist in category #3 for a reason - my family members are my friends and my friends are like my family.  I can count on them and I love them all. They probably have no idea what they mean to me - their encouragement is the force that keeps me going!

4. Myself. When I take care of myself, I know that I can be full of energy and have the strength to provide for the needs of others.

5. R&G Photography

6. My peers

7. My house

8. My lifelong education

9. My Audrey dog :)

10. My hairstylist... no one likes a bad hair day that lasts two months, right? ;) Just kidding.

I know there is a huge area I'm not covering - like my country, world peace, and so on, but this is just a dabble in what is important to me.   Does not mean that I care about nothing else, of course!

I hope you all have your priorities in line & I encourage you to make sure whatever is your top priority is treated like one. :)

Have a great week guys & gals.
Rachel
xo

Monday, March 28, 2011

Textures? What's that?

So if you're new in the photo world (or maybe if you're old... like you still like to pull out your old film camera and snap a few...) - You might not know a lot about textures and how to use them... and I'll be honest - this was me on Friday evening, but I ran across Jessica Drossin's Textures blog and I became intrigued.  Sure, I've heard about textures - but have I actually used one?  Nope.  So I took this opportunity to try it for free (and enter a sweet contest while I'm at it!)  If you haven't heard of Jessica & don't know much about textures, I recommend checking out her blog!  She's giving away her "Autumn Texture" for photogs to use & then post their finished image onto her facebook to be entered into her contest to win one of her texture sets (which are AWESOME!)  She also has a great tutorial for beginners - check it out by clicking here! 

Check out my attempt at using textures for the first time. I only used the texture she gave and used it the exact way she showed in the tutorial (just to keep it simple :)).  Check it out:

This is before:
This is after:

I love the warm tones it added... I am sure I could do a lot more to it, but here is a start!  I am afraid I'm going to have a new addition (other than my photo prop one)... TEXTURIZING! ;)

Hope you enjoyed!
Rachel
xo

Friday, March 25, 2011

Favorite Shop Friday!

Oooooooh it is SO hard to pick a favorite shop with ALL of those wonderful ones out there, but I think the first one I want to feature is Petite Fleurs by Bellasma!  I love their line of headbands!  I have ordered a few, but I'm addicted to stalking their Etsy & building up my online shopping cart!  If you haven't ordered anything from their shop - check it out!  Their turnaround time is great & the packaging it comes in is almost as cute as the product! :)


And in personal news - my hubby comes back home from his training week in WI!  Yay!  The Air Force can't have him this weekend - he is all mine! 

Thanks for reading,
Rachel
xo

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Manda Koolis of Mandolin Productions

Let me start off by saying I am NOT an expert by any means and that some may disagree with my thoughts. That being said, I firmly believe that you should take everything you read and learn with a grain of salt. :)
And begin...
One of the most important, and seemingly the most elusive, qualities of a great photography business is the branding. Now, I'm not just talking about your logo. I'm talking about the overall feel that someone gets as they are experiencing your on- and off-line presence. There's plenty of articles right now that talk about your brand extending past your print and web materials. They explain the personality that goes beyond what people see and how your clients perceive you in person. But what about how your potential clients view you before they even come into contact with you face to face? Is your web presence consistent? Is it a big conglomerate that not only confuses your viewer, but completely turns them off and sends them running? Wouldn't you rather have a combination of tools that instills confidence that you have your act together?
Many photographers defend their pricing by saying that their photography is custom art. If that's the case, prove it! If you're paying attention to the little details, your audience is going to see that. You'll start turning away those who want everything for nothing and start attracting the folks that value you and your talent for what it really is without ever having to say a single word.
So, how do you get started? Find yourself. This isn't as hard as it seems. Ask yourself, "Who am I as a photographer?" Write it down. Start looking at the things that you want to portray. Start looking at other things that inspire you and ask yourself what it is about those things that you love so much.
When I was searching for the way to identify myself, the first three words that came to mind were simple, fun and natural. I wanted something that was going to be elegant when it came to my logo, so I wasn't sure how I was going to combine all these things to make one solid element that was the essence of myself until I realized that my brand can say the things that my logo doesn't.
Here's where you have to figure out what you want your logo to say and what you want your brand to say. Did you know there's a difference? Your logo is your focal point, your springboard. It has to stand alone. In that sense, you have to decide how you want your logo to speak for you. Everything else that complements your logo is your brand.
If you've taken the time to look at my logo, you'll see that it isn't super easy to read (which is usually a huge no-no!). You can't just glance at it and move on. You have to stop and really look. There's a reason for that. I don't want clients that are just skimming my work. I want someone who is detail-oriented enough that they're paying attention. They're willing to take that extra moment to appreciate things. This is why my logo's aim is to say elegant and natural. The fonts take care of elegant (mandolin productions) and simple (photography + design). The color I chose for the mark is muted because I'm not flashy or loud as a person - my goal is to quietly command attention. I chose a flower for the mark (which is widely popular, but in a world of millions, what are you gonna do?) to add the natural element to everything else.
Now, you start thinking about how you want your brand to fill in the gaps. My logo took on elegant and natural, right? So my brand has to take on fun and simple. It can't compete with my logo. Instead, it has to compliment it. When I think simple, I also think modern. When I think modern, I think rounded edges and clean backgrounds. Thus the diamond pattern and the rounded rectangle shapes used on my website and blog. I use that pattern to because I feel like it represents fun and simple to me.
When you have something that you can use across the board throughout your business materials, whether it's your CD label or your website, that's when you give your business the OOMPH that sets you apart from the competition.
With the efforts of my logo and brand working together, I've got all my bases covered. I got elegant. I got fun. I got simple. I got natural. Combined, I got ME. Which, in the end of it all, is the most basic and most important aspect of branding yourself.
When you team up with a designer, make sure they have your interests at heart. Make sure they're asking YOU what you want out of your business tools. There are some amazing, talented artists out there that can help you create the trademark presence you need to set yourself apart from all the cookie cutter photogs that won't last. When you separate yourself from the norm, you can take pride in the custom experience that you're able to offer.

I'm Manda Koolis, owner of Mandolin Productions. I'm a photographer and graphic design artist based out of where ever the Air Force stations us. :)


Thank you SO much for guest blogging for us Manda!
Check out Manda's facebook, click here!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wishful Wednesday

Wednesday is probably going to be one of my favorite days to blog.. because I looove wishful thinking :)  I'm totally a dreamer and have crazy ideas that I love to see play out.

Some goals we've set for our business:
Successfully run in-person sales (which we've started)
Make products available for clients to see either with samples or a product guide.  (ex: cards, books, albums, gallery wraps)
Put a sign up in our yard for our business (so people KNOW they're in the right place when they come for their session :))
Present referral cards to current clients to gain new business and also give them an incentive to come in and check us out!  We'd like to make small cards that say something like "We had a great experience at R&G Photography - and you could too!  Take this card in & get $25 worth of free prints!"  This will be for the new clients, and I'm thinking it would be nice to treat the clients who refer people to us with something as well - but I'm still working on the details of what that might be.
And for personal goals:
Manage money and build up an emergency fund
Does every woman have a weight loss goal?... well I guess I'm just normal, haha! ;)  A few weeks ago I started doing a bible study called Made to Crave.  It's a biblical based weight loss program.  I'm enjoying it.  I also really want to get into the habit of exercising - Trying Zumba classes, Zumba for the Wii, work out videos, and just plain walking on gorgeous days! :)
and finally - BLOG MORE!  :) Well, here's a good start!

Take care everyone,
Rachel
xo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tools for Photogs!

1. ShowIt  -  My web design tool..  I barely dip into what all ShowIt does (but you can check out our site to see a sample at www.rngphotos.com)- The ShowIt team is amazing!  We pay $39 a month for this service, along with the domain name and hosting - so it's a bit pricey, but our "store front" is mostly online - so how could we afford NOT to have a rockin site?  Jasmine Star also uses ShowIt & her site lured me into this program!  Worth every cent.  It's easy to use, upload, update, and play with!

2. Shootsac - My lens' best friend and my stylish way of sporting my gear!  This interchangeable lens bag is similar to a Miche purse.. you can change the cover to match any event or outfit!  The covers also double as a lens cloth so you can quickly and easily clean your lens as you pull it out of the Shootsac.  One of my favorite covers is the CLASSIC! BAROQUE!  Classy and matches my branding.

3. Ottoman - This little guy I got from Target and I use it as storage for my newborn props and as a prop itself.  I find myself using this in a LOT of my family, children, and newborn shoots! 

4. Moo cards - Moo.com is such an excellent source of marketing for photographers.  I love their slogan - "portfolio in your pocket" because it truly is!  Each card features a different photo on the back side of your business cards!  Want to try Moo cards for free?  Just go to their website & order 15 totally FREE!  You will be impressed, I promise! 

5. WPPI Las Vegas - This event is a "must" for all professional photographers.  This past Feb. was our first year and I was thrilled with everything I learned.  There were over 300 vendors and 75 wonderful speakers!  I couldn't wait to implement so many important things into our business - like in-person sales.  It makes such a difference for your clients.  They get to go through the images WITH you and see all the hard work on a big screen.  I love seeing my clients reactions! 

6. GPS - Ever get lost trying to find your Bride's venue?  I haven't ;) With my Garmin GPS I can type in the address & go carefree... knowing that it will get me there!  I always keep my GPS with me, just in case.

7. SmugMug Pro - After our in person sales with our clients, we post a viewing gallery online using SmugMug.  I love the simplicity of it and my clients love being able to share their photos with ease!

8. Facebook - It's a no brainer.  I get more inquires on Facebook than anywhere else.  Sure, I still use the telephone, email, etc... but Facebook is a business' friend.  If you don't have one.. you probably don't know what a blog even is.... so you're probably not reading this! ;) But seriously - utilize your free marketing tools, like Facebook!

9. Noisy crazy and colorful toys - For children photography, of course!  When I did my first children shoot indoors I was scrambling for ways to get the kids attention... I soon realized I needed some TOYS!  Kids want to have FUN, not sit quietly and say cheese!  :) Make their session enjoyable and give them something to look at behind the camera or even find some photogenic toys for them to play with during the shoot. Pixiekids toys is a great vendor for photogenic toys!

10. Your smile - I'm the queen of corny, (I know!) so laugh all you want - but it is a TOOL.  Use it!  :) If a client loves you as much as they do your work, it's a double done deal!  I have lots of great clients who have become friends and of course I have lots of great friends who are clients.  I'm 100% positive I didn't get those clients and friends from frowning ;)  Love yourself and give the world a smile!

Thanks for reading,
Rachel
xo

Monday, March 21, 2011

Edit Me Monday

This first image is straight out of camera (SOOC).  I used a Nikon D700 with a 50 mm 1.4 lens (both from Roberts Imaging in IN - I looove their store and they have wonderful customer service.  I get my items shipped to me in Southern IL within TWO days typically, too.)
The second image is after my tonal and color correction edits in Lightroom (LR).  I shoot in raw, but after they are color corrected I convert them to .JPG images & this is what the client would see at their viewing session. Here we changed the contrast, vignetted the edges a bit, and changed the exposure slightly. 


This last image has already been converted to .JPG in LR, so then I will pull it open in Photoshop (PS) and make additional (and often time consuming) edits.  For this photo we brightened the eyes, airbrushed the face with a low opacity, and made additional contrast adjustments.

The last image is what I have sent to my professional printing lab - I don't have my work printed on Wal-Mart or Walgreens paper for a reason.. They serve me well for food, supplies, and my pharmaceutical needs, but I leave my printing to the printing pros!  Their high quality printers showcase my work on outstanding paper, canvases, cards, etc.. I am proud to hand my clients their piece of photographic memory :)

I hope you enjoyed our first Edit Me Monday post!  Feel free to share photos with me that you've edited as well or maybe one you would like suggestions for edits on!

Rachel King
rachel@rngphotos.com
xo

Looking for the GIVEAWAY? CLICK HERE! 

Welcome new followers & fans!

Good evening everyone!
I am SO excited that our GIVEAWAY for R&G Photography has launched with so much success! 
I wanted to let you know it will end March 31st at 11:59 p.m. CST time!
We are letting this run for a while so you have plenty of time to still enter!  I had no idea the fans I had - you guys ROCK!  I wasn't sure what to expect having my first giveaway, but this has been so wonderful.  Some new shops have opened and already had great success - Congrats to Lovelies by Miss Whitney for making her FIRST sale on Etsy!  Our giveaway has inspired a few others to become active facebook, etsy, and paypal members :)  My Little Lady Loves just opened her business last week and she has had quite the uproar, too!!  Way to go!

Please keep showing the love - I'm eating it up!  My husband is away with the military this week, so it's wonderful having facebook and the blog to connect with people while it's just me and my Audy (my pitt bull lovely pooch :))

If you haven't put your entries in for our giveaway, no worries - here is a link:  GIVEAWAY!

The plan is to be more a more interesting blogger ;) So if you have ideas for what I could talk about that would interest you - please comment and let me know!

Here are a few ideas for different days of the week:
Edit Me Monday - We will show you some before and after photo edits and how we achieved them with Lightroom and Photoshop!
Top Ten Tuesday -We'll pick a topic and then give a list of the "top ten"
Wishful Wednesday - We'll talk about aspirations for our business and personal goals we've set
Thursday - Possibly have a guest blogger :)
Favorite Shop Friday - We will share where we find some of our favorite photo props and how you can purchase them for yourself!


Goodnight all,
Rachel King
www.rngphotos.com
xo

Sunday, March 20, 2011

GIVEAWAY for R&G Photography


Good day everyone! Our business page for R&G Photography on facebook reached 500 fans on Friday and we are SO excited!  We are launching our very first giveaway with a great list of vendors!  Take a look at what everyone is donating and see the bottom for details on how to enter!

You can start posting your comments on my blog and entering NOW!  Please remember to post your email along with your comment so I can contact you if you win!

Trendy Tikes - A tie of your choice

Petite Fleurs by Bellasma - $25 to their shop

The Blueberry Hill - A pink and white bunny hat
H-B Packaging - $50 off any order coupon code
Lovelies by Miss Whitney - A dog hanky (not shown), an owl broach, a flower ring and a hair clip

Everyday Keepsakes - $50 to their shop


Stellar Stitches - Petal Bonnet


Gradybug Designs - $25 to their shop


My little lady loves - Headband

Blossom Tops - Their best seller headband 
Ella Bella Boutique - Hat with attachable bows

With Eager Hands - Crocheted bag

Maurices - Calendar and Coupons

A Little Loopy - A crochet hat

Dress Up Chest - 2 headbands

Sweet Treats - 12 cake pops


R&G Photography - $100 print credit


 
You can have up to 7 entries!  Please leave ONE comment on THIS blog posting (with your email so I can contact you!!!) for each step you complete.  The comment on my blog is your ticket to win!
1. Become a fan of R&G Photography on Facebook (if you're not already a fan) - Click "like" on my page: www.facebook.com/rngphotos
Then come back and comment on my blog and tell me that you "liked" us or that you were already a fan!  This step is mandatory.

2. Become a fan of ALL of the other 16 vendors by clicking the links below and then clicking "Like" on their pages!   (Just click your web browser's back button to return my blog.)

Take your time and leave some love on the vendors pages and let them know that R&G Photography sent you!  Then leave one comment below (in my blog) saying that you "liked" all the vendors! 
*Remember that you can get comment blocked if you go too fast.  You have several days to enter so take your time folks!  We've made it easy for you by putting the links for all the vendors together below...


FACEBOOK LINK: 
3. Post about this giveaway on your personal or business Facebook Page.  Make sure you tag my page when you do so! 

For example - make your FB status say "Come check out the giveaway R&G Photography is hosting."  Start typing @R&G Photography on your wall post, a drop box will appear, select R&G Photography and it will appear as a link - that means we're tagged!).
   
Come back and leave ONE comment on my blog telling me you posted on your FB page.
4. Purchase something from ANY of the participating vendors during the giveaway (now until the end of March).  Come back here, and leave ONE comment telling us what you bought and from which vendor!  (YOU CAN DO THIS UP TO THREE TIMES for a total of THREE additional entries! Buy three items from one shop or one item from three different ones! Make sure to leave a separate comment for each item you buy!)
5.  Follow our Blog!  Leave ONE comment telling me you are a follower!

 
If the winner of the contest isn't local - we will have TWO winners and the second will receive the
Sweet Treats and the photo credits to R&G Photography.  We will choose a winner randomly with random.org! 

Good luck!
Thank you,
Rachel King
Owner of R&G Photography
618.780.1549
www.rngphotos.com

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sweet Saturdays

Ah, it is such a beautiful Saturday!  I am loving the taste of Spring!  Monday it snows... and by the end of the week - 70s!  :) Crazy!

We're headed to a craft fair today... maybe we'll find a couple more last minute vendors for our celebration giveaway - Although the line up is PRETTY SWEET already! :) Over $400 worth of prizes... even I will be envious of the winner :)

We're going to open it up TOMORROW so keep your eye out for it!

Rachel
xo

Friday, March 18, 2011

Details coming soon!

We've reached 500 fans!!!!! Yay!
I'm contacting all of our vendors to finalize the details, but we are going to officially launch Sunday evening & the contest will run until the end of March!  Be sure to tell your friends & GOOD LUCK!

You don't want to miss this!  I am going to be jealous of the winner - I wish I could enter my own contest, ha! The prizes are SO awesome!

Thanks,
Rachel
xo

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

12 fans away from our giveaway....... :)

Hello, hello!
We have great news!  Our giveaway is SWIFTLY approaching... get a sneak peek at what you can win:

Jen Davis from The Blueberry Hill is donating a pink and white bunny hat
Gradybug Designs is donating a $25 gift certificate to their shop
Trendy Tikes cool kids clothes is donating a tie
Whitney Hays from Lovelies by Miss Whitney is donating a doggie hanky
Shelly from Petite Fleurs by Bellasma is donating a $25 gift certificate to her shop

AND MORE!  You'll have to check back with us to find out who else is giving away AWESOME stuff!


p.s. you can get a head start on entering by going to these vendors & clicking "Like" on their facebook page!  Feel free to leave some love... & make sure you tell them that R&G Photography sent you there!

xo Rachel King

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Open House

We had a successful open house for our up & coming business R&G Photography (www.rngphotos.com, www.facebook.com/rngphotos) with some of our friends.  We took some fun photos, talked about our business, gave away some free stuff, ate, and most importantly - caught up with each other!  All our lives are so busy... we have to have a big event to see each other!  :)  Here are a few photos from the event:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Baby Drew & my new green trunk!

I am very, very excited about these new photos from our studio R&G Photography!  We worked with the cutest little boy, Drew - and the pictures are only a morsel of his cuteness!  I wanted to share a few with you all!









Thanks for following :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's March already?

Oh goodness gracious!  Has it really been that long since I've blogged?! 

I'm sure you get this a lot, but it's SO hard to remember to blog.  Scout's honor - I will try harder!  :)

In the last few months (ok, ok it was almost a year ago when I blogged.... whoops!).. I have graduated, started my own ("Official") business R&G Photography, and got married to the love of my life!  I've also traveled to Vegas for WPPI 2011 (last week, which is why I'm inspired to blog again!) - this photography conference was one of the most educational, amazing, helpful things I've ever attended!  SO worth the investment if you are a professional photog!

We have started a lot of fun things for our business - one is The Birthday Club for past clients of ours!!  If you have a child between the ages of 2 -16, sign them up for our Birthday Club and they will get a FREE photo shoot the month of their birthday.  Just send an email to rasnow@gmx.com with the child's name, age, and birth date!

And if you're not already a client of ours - give me a call or shoot me an email!  We'd love to work with you!  Your kids can be part of the club!

(want to see our work? go to www.rngphotos.com or if you're more of a facebook addict like me ;) go to www.facebook.com/rngphotos)


Have a lovely week and I pinky promise to post again before next year... er, I mean week ;)