It’s something I struggle with every day - how big can I build this business, without getting so big I can’t handle it... because I want to stay small and solo? Some days it feels like I’m walking that fine line of not being able to handle it all alone, and other days I surprise myself, being able to do something I never thought possible, all alone.
So when a school called me to see if my company did school photos, I kind of smirked at the email and just replied, sorry, we are not equipped. I lack blue tie dye or carnival backdrops and the time it would take to develop a system to do pre packaged orders was no where to be found. So I politely declined. But then they called back.
Due to it being a different type of year, and with the less than great experience they had last year from larger, well known school photography companies, they wanted something fresh, something different, something with a little better presentation. I decided to at least take a call. I took the call, and before I knew it I was scheduled for two campuses - around 300 kids total- and an email was sent out that LuvEd Photography would be this years school photographer. I didn’t think much of it...until that morning.
As I got dressed I started thinking... that’s a LOT of parents to please! That’s a LOT of faculty to impress. That’s a LOT of kids to remember and organize! And after I did it, I thought, that was actually a LOT of fun!
It was a fun experience and what I particularly loved - a challenge. A challenge to change the look of school photos - to “erikafy” it as I always say :)
When the photos went live I needed a break. I had been triple checking everything to make sure it was perfect and my eyeballs hurt. I turned off my phone for awhile, and when I went back to it, all I saw were orders pouring in, emails saying the nicest things to me about their kids’ natural smile. I started crying. I described the feeling to my friend as similar to training for a marathon. So much work, so much time, so much stress, and then you do it. I didn’t care about the orders, just that one parent thanking me for a natural smile. It was worth it.
We didn’t use backgrounds, but a fun area on the dock of the school that I went and planned out with a faculty member prior. And at another campus we used their garden. To limit waste, we did not pass out order forms, the school was sent a password protected link where parents could access their children’s photos - safely. Home room composites were made, so kids could remember their classmates and orders were placed a la carte. If you only wanted 2 prints, you only had to buy 2 prints. Every parent had 5 photos to choose from, and had the option to just purchase the digitals if they didn’t need prints. And yes, the school received a percentage of the profit.
So I might be crazy, but now that I have a system down, it’s official and on my website, LuvEd is on board for school photography! Schools under 300 students, unless we can work out multiple days, and I will limit the number I take per year because well... sometimes I need to sleep ..... and travel 😉.
At this point, I’ve been in the photography game for quite some time, and if I can remember one product being a constant, it’s the folio display. While I always thought they were a little old fashioned and well.. blah, I did a deep dive to find a modern take on of photography’s oldest displays….and here she is!
If you ask me, she’s a beauty! For the ones I designed, I went with a white base because I like things light and airy, but the actual folio cover can be any color…like truly… ANNNYYYY color. You can name the folio as you wish on the spine, and you can add another photo on the back in addition to the main photo on the front, if you wish. The covers are printed on a soft satin photo paper that is a slightly matte finish and so so soft and luxurious. When they arrived I won’t lie, I sat there kind of just petting them… so so soft!
The sizes are completely versatile. If you want to pop one into a basket to add to a gift they come in smaller sizes all the way up to an 8x10, so depending on where you will display them, we can make that size happen. My FAVORITE part, is while The Folio Display’s distant cousin usually one held a couple photos, we can add multiple, even a couple multiple photos in this. It still opens as a book with two sides, but more photos can be added. For my samples, I did only one photo on each side because again - I live for light and airy! The photo sides are printed on the same satin paper that spans across the cover which gives it that seamless look and that soft feel across the whole piece. The paper soaks up color for a gorgeous, saturated display of your favorites from your session. The inside spine is a black fabric, with almost a linen feel. It’s a muted surface so the focus stays on the images.
The Folio Display is a great Grandparent/Godparent gift, a great display for shelving to add a pop of color and personality, and what I love love love is it is a modern take on a classic!
Everyone that knows me, knows that one thing I love is giving gifts and wrapping them beautifully, which is why I ADORE this weeks print product. I'd like to introduce you to...the print box.
Basically, this is a gorgeous wooden box. The cover can be customized to have a photo, a series of photos, a quote. It is simple, yet gorgeous, and well constructed. The cover slides off to reveal a box of 4x6 prints.
What I love love love the most is that when you order the individual box, you can order ANY number of prints. Which means using this as a gift is PERFECTO for grandmas, godparents, etc. You can get the box as a gift and then add photos to it as add on gifts in coming years as your child grows. The box is a 4x6 size, so even casual phone photos you print elsewhere can fit into the box, you aren't obligated to order through Luved. But if you do.... the physical prints are lovely. They can be printed on a felt feeling paper that give this gorgeous matte, soft finish with or without a white border OR they can be printed on regular photo paper. The quality is stunning. With the first set of prints, the company even gives you the perfect little sized tissue & twine for pretty wrapping!
These can also be used across other types of sessions as well, not just babies and kids. Having products that can be used across multiple styles and vibes is so important to me. ex... It would be a great parents gift for after a wedding :)
Great quality, stunning delivery, thoughtful. Sounds like a perfect gift to me!
Canvas wraps are pretty, but let me introduce you to the print wrap. IT. IS. LUXURIOUS, in my opinion. It is the same concept; your art is one piece - no fuss, no hassle, ready to hang out of the box…BUT…
First… the paper these are printed on is a high quality photographic paper, with color tones and contrast controlled by yours truly, which means skin tones look pretty and nothing is over contrasted. The deep matte sheen on these things is like butter. So smooth, so beautiful. The image prints crisp and the finish elevates it. No more details lost in the criss cross of the canvas. (These also do have a high gloss option, but most people know me + high gloss vivids aren’t friends…BUT the option is there if you wish)
Second… the options for size are pretty fancy. In my sample prints I did one 16x20 which is pretty standard if you like to keep things traditional… but have you ever had one of those weird, kind of thinner walls, but you needed something to fill it?! (This is usually when I run to Hobby Lobby and buy a narrow quote box) Check out the lovely bride and groom shot I printed in a 10x20 size below... fills those weird walls with something worth a stare! Sizes come in 8x8, 8x10, 8x12, 10x10, 12x12, 11x14, 10x20, 16x16, 16x20 and 16x24.
Third….Hanging these puppies is as easy as one nail. AND…if you’ve exhausted your nail budget for the walls, command strips will hold these just fine! They are mounted on a block in the back which have holes cut out for super easy hanging. The block also makes these pop out from the wall a bit, which I love even more because they not only pop a bit, but you can also easily dust around the wall art.
Finally… They’re unique. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s having a tangible heirloom that feels nice, looks nice, and is a gorgeous display of your photographic investment that isn’t also in everyone else’s home. And did I mention how crisp they look?!
They can be created with new photos, old photos (as long as you have print release), and restored antique photos..and are a welcome to guest to any and most gallery walls. Every time I open a box of these I am in awe of their loveliness, I am so excited to have these as a part of my new product line!
The past couple weeks have been a little crazy...well...more like a lot crazy.
As life got back to some semblance of normal as things “opened”, I started to work again. Navigating how to run my business despite all the concerns of Covid was a bit of a hurdle but I figured it out. And as most, I started revisiting the dentist, the doctor, and everything that had been put off for months.
At one of those appointments I learned I would most likely have to have surgery again, for a long battled issue I’ve dealt with for the past ten years. I had gone through this surgery not even two years ago. I was so frustrated, but was starting to look at my schedule to plan ahead for another month off at some point in the future to take care of it. As that week went on, I very unexpectedly got worse and worse and headed back to the doctor where I would be told I had to have surgery the following week.
I had literally JUST in the car got done planning an extended family session where people were flying in from New York. Another gal who I have practically photographed every life moment for since her wedding had me on standby so I could hopefully be there to capture her bringing her baby home from the hospital, and she was due next week! I had JUST mulled over various shirt colors that matched with camo for an upcoming session with a SO excited mama, and one of my very special little clients was about to turn 4.5! While this wasn’t totally the end of the world, it’s my world, and it’s the world of moms and families who want to capture very specific moments in time. And as a people pleaser, I wanted to throw up.
What I’ve learned through all this happening in this way, is that so many people who frequent my services are the kindest, most loyal and understanding friends. As I feverishly reached out to everyone I would have to reschedule, everyone was willing to put off their moments and wait for me to be back to 100%. Unless it was a case with people only being in town for certain days, not one person accepted a referral for another photographer.
Life works in weird ways, and while these past couple weeks have been frustrating, emotional, and downright hard, I have felt so loved from my family, my friends, my clients. I never once felt alone, or felt like I let anyone down.
Positive news came from the doctor yesterday, and while I’m still stuck on the couch for a few more days, I see the end of this in sight, and am grateful for the way it worked out. In hindsight, this ended up being the perfect time. THANK YOU to everyone who so graciously understood that life happens, and knows that this isn’t just a job for me. It’s my world, and I can’t wait to be back!
If you were to walk into my home, every single thing has a meaning - some sort of story behind it. Even every house plant came from a piece of another houseplant from someone from my history. It’s borderline ridiculous. But if you pointed at anything, I could tell you the story.
When it comes to buying cars, it’s harder to buy something brand new that has a story attached, but the story that unfolds while in my possession is so special. It’s you!
I am leaving Monday morning to drive my car to Denver to give to my niece. She was born on the night of my senior prom and now I’m handing her the keys to my car. Yikes! It will be the last adventure in my Blue Fiat. Not really a huge deal, and I didn’t think much of it until yesterday when I was in my parents driveway scrubbing it clean for her.
The Blue Fiat has driven 125,000 miles, with 95% of those being for shoots, it is 5 years old. It has endured many, many, many flat tires - 3 of which were on days I was driving to weddings. It has gotten in one major accident which too was on the morning I had a shoot and a wedding, and the number of small accidents it has endured - the time a coyote ran out of nowhere into the street, the time I backed up into my brother’s Jeep, the time I was rushing home to edit and slipped on ice. But it also inside, has about a million tiny little scratches. And as I tried to buff them out I just started tearing up. So many times have I shoved a big red wagon, a vintage chair, 9,000 blankets, and the most random of things into the back of this car for props to use in photos. So many times I shoved up to 25 balloons into the back, and got so many laughs in the parking lots of Party City throughout Chicagoland. It has served as a way to know I’m “in the office” when I had my studio and was parked outside. It was a way to connect with clients when they would text me and say they saw me driving around. And the enormous number of times little kids giggled and asked “Is that your tiny car?” always made me smile. So many of you saw this little car as a representation of Luved Photography, even more so than my logo, as I saw it as more of my office than any studio could ever be. It was my safe space.
As life has changed for me so much recently, as I was cleaning up the car I reminisced on all the happy times I had in that car and all the sad ones. So many times I had bad moments because of what was going on behind the scenes in life. All the times I literally felt like my only solace was riding around in that car doing my work. But most of the happy moments I remembered, all had to do with you guys, my clients, my friends. That car always took me to a place of peace, a place where I could have fun and not worry about what was going on in life - it took me to all my sessions. Thank you, for being the story, the joy behind that piece of my life.
A new car has been purchased, another Fiat. This one has less room, as I try to force myself to stick to the type of photography I love - less props, more moments. There is no studio to park it in front of this time around, and not as many overly sized props to shove in it, but I just know that it will lead me through a new season of life, of my career, and some of life’s best moments - which I truly find in my work, in you!
PS - Follow my journey to Denver, on my insta story - @Iamluv_ed. I leave Monday!
Hello, hello, and ohh do I miss you all!
This weekend would have been the start of my wedding season, and instead of picking out what lenses to use, I'm picking out another set of jammies for the day. UGH! My heart literally aches for those who have had to cancel their special days. In addition to missing all those happy tears at weddings, I am so missing cuddling all your babies and giggling with your kids. The quiet in my home is just a bit too much.
I am cooped up with my pup, who is my little quarantine companion, and I basically only leave to pick up groceries and visit my parents. My days are spent working on a puzzle, reading, and working on projects that I have put on the back burner for years. New website, business cards, etc. It's really nice to have the time to get these things accomplished, and one of my 2020 goals was to live a more low key, slower life. 2020 really delivered. lol.
As our stay at home order was just extended today, I know many who are on my May calendar are probably going to reach out to reschedule. I am trying to be incredibly careful for the sake of loved ones and really, for everyone, so we can get back to normal life, so rescheduling is completely ok! With weather getting nicer outside, my process will be to interview everyone individually. If you are hoping to still have your session and we can both find a mutual way to feel comfortable doing it from a distance, we can of course discuss proceeding. For most though, we will reschedule and find a time when we can feel more comfortable. While yes, I can photograph from a distance, a lot of my methods are in a tight vicinity of your children, so it's best to play it safe for all.
For now, know that I miss you all so so much, send all your kiddos my love, and I hope sooner than later we'll all be saying "CHEESE & PICKLES!!"
PS - currently have binged on Unorthodox, Caliphate, (Sadly)Love is Blind, Derby Girls, Feel Good, and in the middle of A Handmaid's Tale. Iliza Schlesinger's comedy is pretty funny for background noise (Netflix). I get my daily dose of news from the podcast The Daily, from the New York Times. And I've read Buy Yourself the F***ing Lillies by Tara Schuster (LOVED) and Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo (Liked).
I also tried to make pancakes for the first time ever and they're pretty awful without milk. Hang in there friends!