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 ittybiz.com 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 =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

christmas cards | one last reminder

ok, ok! after this, i promise to stop reminding you about christmas cards. maybe. i just love christmas so much, i can't help myself.

here are a few more ideas for christmas cards. as you can see there are different options for colours and patterns - you can make your card look really christmasy (is that a word?) or you can make it look like a funky portrait to display all year long. so many choices... don't worry i can help you choose! =)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sneak peek | babies

this little guy was an absolute gem to photograph; he was relaxed and content and he sure liked the bean bag! j & c, thanks for letting me share in your joy and your love for your sweet little boy! =)

a time for change

this is what occupies my mind right now, day and night. making changes to my business. my head is swimming with information from my research into pricing, marketing and branding. when i close my eyes i think about logos and websites. i dream of change.

when i started this business, it was truly an experiment. i didn't start out as a photographer, i started out as a digital scrapbooker! that grew to an interest in photography. and that grew to friends of friends asking "how much does she charge?" turns out that i absolutely love photography, i still love designing portraits, collages and cards, and i also really love doing this as a home business. but it is time to make some changes. it is time to grow this business from a hobby into a career.

i will still be offering the same friendly, relaxed service and amazing, affordable products that my customers have come to expect. but i need to make some changes to my business that reflect those quality services and products. what changes are we talking about here?
- i will be makes some changes to my pricing, the structure of my sessions and the products i offer
- i need a new website - desperately!
- i am considering changing my logo and possibly my name

it is all very exciting, and yes, a little overwhelming.

do you have a home business? what do you sell? have you done the website design, logo design, marketing etc. all by yourself or have you hired professional services? do you have favorite blogs/websites/books that have helped you along the way? what are they? i would love to hear about your experiences and the sites you follow when you need advice.

here are a couple of favorite sites of mine. if you have or are thinking of starting your own small business these blogs are 'must-visit':

please share your experiences and favorites in the comments section. and if you know of anyone in the business of web design, logo design, small business advice... let me know! =)