Thursday, January 28, 2010

mini-sessions | "window box" portraits

well, if rebranding and growing my business while building a new website was not enough to do in the new year, we are also moving out of our lovely house (and my fantastic studio space.) *sad smiley for that* =(

but, before we move i want a chance to make use out of this great window cut-out i have in my studio. so i am having a day of mini-sessions. these will be approximately 10 minutes in length and will include a fully edited and touched up, professionally printed portrait. you choose the photo and place your order right on the spot. no muss, no fuss! this is a great way to get some quick, fun and affordable portraits without coming for a full one hour session. kids can sit, stand or even just peek through the window. (not really suitable for babies, sorry.)

"window box" mini-session event: saturday february 13th

session fee includes portrait
5x7 = $25
8x10/8x12 = $30
10x20 = $40
(ps - this is a savings of over 30% off of my regular portrait prices. and i will give you a further discount if you order multiple copies.)

call 0404240050 or email to book your session

(pps - if this mini-session idea is a success i will do another one in april for mother's day gifts!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

location sessions | a day at the beach

one of the things i really want to do more of this year are location sessions. parks, beaches, playgrounds, urban settings... and of course the beach. those of you who know me well, know i love the beach! my girls are such good sports, always willing to let me practice on them. and of course they are such beautiful subjects to photograph! we had fun this cloudy saturday morning at the beach. that is, until ella fell on the rocks and taylor banged her cheek and needed a band-aid on her knee. sometimes photographing your own children is the biggest challenge! =)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

making "executive decisions" is such a power trip!

family shots used to be the hardest part of my photography sessions. like, i really dreaded them. a lot. and then i would spend hours after the fact trying to fix up the photo make it look just perfect: 5 happy faces all looking directly at the camera without that fake smile look. gah! when you work with squirmy babies, tempermental toddlers, and self conscious adults it is pretty daunting to get that perfect, traditional, posed family photo. (big kudos to those of you who have mastered this. i bow at your feet.)

the thing is, every time i went to edit those family sessions i was drawn to the 'outtakes'; you know, those candid, relaxed, silly, sweet, real moments in between all the posing and 'cheese'ing. i spent all my time editing the traditional, posey ones i thought families wanted but what i really loved were the candid ones! so i started taking more of those. and showing families more of those. and i think a lot of people like those ones better too.

so i have made an executive decision. (and since i am the only one here, i get to do that.) no more traditional, posed, "smile-and-say-cheese" family photos for this girl. if that is the type of photo that you love, then i encourage you to find a photographer that will capture that beautifully. but for me, i am sticking to the 'outtakes' =)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

are you following your dream?

" a stay-at-home-mum with no business experience attempts to make a living off some passion and a dream."

that's what i wrote last time. it got me thinking about how my journey started over 2 years ago. with this photo, ella on her 3rd birthday:

of course, i had a play with these shots. with some funky borders and cute quotes and i put a bunch of favorites in a sweet little keepsake album. and my friends said "wow that is really cool, can you do that for me?" so i did. and then their friends said "wow, how much does she charge?" and then i had to decide. was i really going to go for it? i had a point-and-shoot camera, very little knowledge about the mechanics of taking photos and a really distinctive style of dressing up my photos that people liked.

but more important than that, i had this little thing, niggling inside of me. nudging and whispering. i am not sure where it came from or when it started, but i just felt like i was supposed to take pictures. but i was busy, being a mom and moving to the other side of the world and trying to make some friends, and i wasn't really listening to that whisper. i also ignored the whispers about not going back to work teaching and about trying to have my own business... because that is just crazy talk, right?

but when i took those shots of ella and people liked them it was like the whispers turned to shouts. go for it. try it. this is what you are supposed to do. was i hesitant? absolutely. nervous? of course. but when i gave myself permission to pursue those niggling feelings i also felt relief and excitement. and i was lucky because i had fantastic people in my life that told me to go for it - 3 girlfriends in particular have really supported me and encouraged me and passed my name on to everyone they know (thank you my sister/friends H, J & A, i really would never have done this if it weren't for you).

so my question to you is this - do you have a whisper/nudge deep inside of you? a feeling you can't explain and usually ignore that you were just meant to do something? do you need some inspiration or maybe some one fantastic to be your 'people'? (i can be your person, by the way.)

i have recently stumbled upon a couple of great blogs & writers who have some really fantastic things to say about doing what you love. go read these, right now:

his 2 manifestos have really given me the jolt of energy and inspriation that i have needed these last few weeks:

this is another great blog - i am going to read his ebook "the zero hour workweek" next

and finally, this blog is quirky and odd and fun and she talks about 'destuckification' and 'biggification' which is pretty cool

by the way this is ella, 2 years later, on her 5th birthday. i'm pretty proud of how far i have come and can't wait to see what i learn next =)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

i've decided! i would like to introduce....

(wow. now i know why babies take 9 months to be born. parents need that much time to come up with a name! actually naming my photography business has been harder than naming my babies... hmmm. i am not sure what that says about me as a business owner or a parent, but whatever.)

so this is it, i have decided! i have a new name. thank you to my friends and family that have listened to me go back and forth about a zillion times and especially to those of you who have taken time to respond to my ideas and contribute ideas as well. you all rock and i am so grateful to have your support.

as of this moment, my photography and design business is now called:
smile. play. love.

i believe this name is a perfect reflection of me, what i do and why i do it. my new name inspires me and excites me and makes me happy. and it represents the 3 easy steps to turning your favorite photos into amazing memories....

step 1 - choose your favorite 'smile' (i.e. photo)
step 2 - i will have 'a play' - creating a customized design that captures your sentiments perfectly
step 3 - hang it, display it, give it as a gift - whatever you do with it, i promise you will love it!

thanks for joining me on this journey, as a stay-at-home-mum with no business experience attempts to make a living off some passion and a dream. good times =)

Friday, January 8, 2010

more great collage ideas

happy new year! as many of you know, 2010 is going to be a big year of growth and change for me and my photography business i have been putting all of my focus on that lately, but i didn't want to forget to share with you some of the amazing work i did before christmas, you know way back in 2009! perhaps some of these collages will inspire you - we can custom make something that will become a treasured work of art for your family, just as I know these ones have for these families. =)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

logos and names

yes, i am still trying to decide on my business name. after my previous post, the overwhelming vote was for keeping 'zoom' but i am still undecided. part of me thinks it is easier to keep it. part of me wants to start fresh with something new. the only problem is i am completely stumped when it comes to a fresh, new name that represents what i do! the other issue is choosing a name that will be free as a domain name. so for this, part of me that thinks i should just use my own name since it is easy and available. i have to decide soon though as i am ready to begin the relaunch!!

here are some ideas i have been playing around with for a logo. regardless of the name i choose there are 3 elements to a logo: font, colour and shape. a logo should look good in both colour and black and white, and it should be versatile so that it fits both long across a letterhead or in a small box such as a business card. i will also need to use my logo as a watermark on my photos - so i would like park of it to stand alone and it is helpful if it looks good as both dark on light, and the reverse light on dark.

do you need a new logo? here is my favorite 'logo design' blog:

let me know what you like and dislike about my ideas so far!! and thanks for joining me on this journey =)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

sweet twins and more favorites

i have been working like crazy these days - averaging 4 photo sessions a week and doing some really cool collages and cards for people on top of that. i am having a blast, as always! here are some recent favorites from some great sessions. thanks to these fabulous kids and their families =)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

what do i do?

so, as i have mentioned, i am in a period of transition. i have been thinking about my business brand and working on ideas for restructuring and growing. i could use your help with something.

i am working on defining and highlighting the 2 aspects to my business: photography + design.

the design portion of my business is what gives me my distinctive style; it is what makes me unique and i hope why people want to hire me. my style comes from my beginnings as a digital scrapbooker. i like to add funky borders, sweet fonts and beautiful quotes to my portraits, as well as children's names and ages. i like to create custom-made, personalized portraits, collages and cards that really evoke an emotional response in my clients.

here are some examples of what i do. so, why do it i do it?

sometimes i see a photo and i actually hear the lyrics of a favorite, sweet song in my head.

"with arms wide open. we'll show you love, we'll show you everything" ~ creed

"how long do you want to be loved? is forever enough, is forever enough?" ~ dixie chicks

"this love is like nothing i have ever known" ~ don henley

sometimes it is a quote or saying that i think of as soon as i see a photo, or sometimes even as i am taking the photos.

"your eyes are an ocean in which your dreams are reflected"

"to them, the name brother is is another name for love"

"you are more perfect than we could have hoped, more beautiful than we could have dreamed and more precious than we could have imagined. we love you more than we could have known"

i want to highlight a certain feeling associated with a special time in a family's life. these are moments that we never get back, yet want to remember always.

for me the combination of the photo + the design elements that i add create something more than a simple portrait. i want to help people preserve their cherished memories.

so that is why i do it. now i am trying to put into words exactly what it is i do. can you help? how do i describe my unique style? how do i describe the way i add the design elements to create unique portraits?

what words come to mind when you see what i do?
do any of the words here make you think - "aha! that's it!"?

~embelish, adorn, decorate, enhance, trim
~accessory, garnish, ornament, decoration, frills, flourish
~highlight, preserve, articulate, convey, commemorate, engrave

in a phrase, how would you describe what i do?
here are some ideas i am playing with for a tagline. any ideas?

~a play on ordinary vs extraordinary:
eg 'turn ordinary photos into extraordinary memories'
~or maybe something along lines of 'highlight the moments of your life'
(but that isn't quite right - too cheesy)
~i am also thinking of the word 'bling' or a similar word that is kind of playful and fun
can you think of one?

please add your comments below. it truly helps me to get some outside ideas. and honestly, the thesaurus function on my computer could use a break. =)

Monday, November 23, 2009

a few recent favorites

i am in the midst of a pre-christmas photography rush that is keeping me so busy! i am having a blast and meeting some fabulous families. here are a few favorites from some of my recent sessions. thanks to all of these kids and their families for spending a little time with me, and helping to make my job so enjoyable =)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

sneak peek | baby girl

i recently posted some gorgeous belly shots that i took for a lovely couple and last weekend i had the great pleasure of photographing their baby girl when she was just 15 days old. so small and sweet and precious! she did not want to sleep at all (note to all new parents: never talk about what a good sleeper your baby is because they love to make you look like a liar!), so we didn't get those squishy sleepy newborn shots. but she still let us take a lot of fantastic photos and her mum and dad worked hard to keep her happy and content for me. thank you so much to k & m for sharing sweet little c with me for a couple of hours - i enjoyed my cuddle and i hope you enjoy your photos =)

"she will fill our lives with sunshine and our hearts with love"

Friday, November 13, 2009

what's in a name?

as i have mentioned, i am in the midst of working on my business brand and structure. since i am going to build a new website anyways, i am thinking about changing my logo and possibly even my name.

this is what i was just reading over at about business names:

"Hate it like, embarrassed to say it out loud? Or just sick of it? If the former, change it. If the latter, think about how branded the name already is. If it’s very stuck in people’s memory then tough shit, you gotta keep it. Coke doesn’t just up and change over to Muhtar’s Tasty Fizz because Muhtar is bored.

If nobody knows or cares your business name because they just know you by your name, then by all means, cross the floor and change ‘er up. Also, do some poking around to find out if they like the existing name as in, they think you’d be retarded to change it, or if they like it as in, yeah, it’s pretty cool but they’re not quivering with joy."

so i think i fall into the catagory where most people here in australia know me as "that canadian girl who does the photos, you know... karen." and my friends and family know me as "you know that photography thing karen is doing. she makes cool christmas cards". in other words, i don't think the name 'ZOOMdesigns' has really registered with anyone. which is kinda pathetic actually. so now is the time to decide if it stays or if it goes, before i build this business any further. i don't hate the name, but i am not sure if it is right for me either.

there are really 2 aspects to my business: photography + design. we came up with the name ZOOMdesigns because we thought it was catchy and it represented both aspects (zoom as in camera zoom, get it?) and because most photographers use their name for their business but the name 'gunton' doesn't exactly role off the tongue (sorry jimbo). my new website is going to focus on those 2 aspects of photography + design and i want my name to do so as well.

so this is the part where i am doing the 'poking around'. we can call it market research, if that will make you participate. and i really really want you to participate. if you are reading this you are either one of my clients, a potential client, or a friend/family member whose opinion i respect and who i am trying to encourage to order my fabulous custom made christmas cards. your opinion matters so please help me out!

what do YOU think of my business name:

a. keep the name 'ZOOMdesigns'. it rocks!!

b. keep the zoom part because it rocks, but make it 'zoom photography + design'

c. use your name: eg. 'kg photography + design' or 'kareng photography + design' or 'karen gunton photography + design'

d. both 'zoom' and your name are totally lame - you need to come up with something better!

e. some other opinion which i am very happy for you to vocalize in the comments. bring it on, i want your complete honesty!

(ps - i am not going to worry about the logo until i have decided on the name. maybe we can have another poll when i get to that stage!)

if you are reading on my blog site there is a poll on the right. if you are reading on facebook i will link to the poll so it is easy to find. or you can just comment below. thanks for participating =)