As many of you know, I’ve been involved in my local business community for over twenty years, and when people find out that I’ve started a photography business in addition to my day job, some of them think I’ve lost my mind! While I can certainly appreciate that sentiment, the reality is that my photography business fills up my tank, so to speak, and provides the fuel for my day job. Photography allows me to scratch an entrepreneurial itch I’ve had all of my adult life, as well as provide me with a creative outlet. Now, I’ve always said that I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I have decided there must be a little bit of creativity in my shutter finger because there’s more to photography than just having a good camera, despite what some folks may think. I always have to chuckle when people say things like “those are beautiful photos, you must have a great camera” or “I wish I could afford a camera like that, then I could take great photos too”… Of course, the snarky side of me wants to say something like “Yeah, I’ve heard you’re an incredible surgeon, you must have a great scalpel” or “you’re an incredible hair stylist, you must have great scissors”. But thinking better of it, I smile and say “thank you, I do have a great camera, but the operator has a little to do with it, too”, and then wink. The reality is that anyone can press a button, but that won’t guarantee the same results any more than someone having an expensive scalpel will make them a better surgeon.
The Difference Maker
With everything we do in life, we and our attitudes are the difference maker. John Maxwell wrote a book many years ago called “The Difference Maker”, and it is a great read for anyone who needs to gain a little perspective in their life. The gist of the book is that our attitudes determine whether our lives are good or bad, and reminds us that the ability to make that choice is ours and ours alone. No one can do it for us. My attitude about photography is that I LOVE it, and my goal is to make every session an enjoyable experience for all involved. Now, if you come in with a bad attitude and don’t want to be there, I might have a more difficult time, but I can almost guarantee that even with a bad attitude to start, you will walk away at the end with a “less bad” attitude!! Ha! How’s that for proper English?!?
I love what I do, and you can feel that from the moment we start to talk about your session, so you probably don’t want to book with me unless you want to have a good time and get some great pictures. If you want bad pictures and want to hate every minute of the experience, DON’T book a session with me. 😉 I concede that having a side business in addition to another full time career may be a little bit crazy, but photography is the thing that gives me energy and fuels my passion for life. If that’s crazy, serve me up another helping, please!
Until next time…be the difference maker in your own life…Change your Attitude, Change your Life!
The school year is winding down, and for you current Juniors, that means Senior Year is right around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about choosing your photographer and booking an appointment for your senior photos. Not sure who to book or what to look for? Senior photography is a once in a lifetime opportunity to document the culmination of your high school career and the start of your adult life. It’s a really important moment in your history, and you want to be sure that you choose the person and the experience that will best tell YOUR story. I’ve included a few tips below for finding and choosing the senior photographer that is right for you.
Tip #1 Meet the photographer in person
I meet all of my seniors in person. I want to know who you are, what you’re into, and find out information that will help me capture you in the most authentic way at this point in your life. I don’t just want to “take your picture” – I want to know who you are, and do my best to visually tell your story through the photographs we create together. If we don’t hit it off when we meet, I shouldn’t take your photos. The bottom line is…if you’re not comfortable with me, we won’t get the best photos for you, and we shouldn’t work together. This has never been an issue, but I would rather have you work with someone else if I’m not the right photographer for you.
Tip #2 Find someone who wants to collaborate with you and give you a senior experience
You’ve got ideas and visions for what you want your senior photography experience to look like, and I want to make sure that your vision is met. I’m not going to just drag you off to the most common hotspot and catch a few great shots. I want us to take our time and capture you doing the things you love in the places you love the most. Sure, I’ve got ideas and locations that I’m more than happy to share, but I will listen to you and find a way to make your vision a reality if at all possible. This is not about me, it’s about YOU!
Tip #3 Review their work
Take a look at their website and social media. Are they in touch with what’s going on in the lives of their seniors? Are they in touch with current trends and have resources to help you get the best experience possible? I do my best to work with people who will help my seniors look and feel their best for their photos. I work with local fashion boutiques to help you style your wardrobe for the session, as well as local hair and makeup artists to help you complete your best look for the photo session. I try to stay on top of current trends, and am happy to share and incorporate those ideas to help you have the best senior experience possible!
Tip #4 What is the experience like?
I am forever talking about the importance of the experience, and it is because I believe it is such a big part of how I can provide value to you. I want you to have an experience that will provide an awesome memory for you every time you remember it. I don’t want to just show up, take a few pretty pictures, and send you on your way. I want your session to be a fun moment in your life that you will remember fondly for years to come.
Tip #5 What physical evidence will you have to remember the session?
In my opinion, there are two very critical components to any photography experience – the actual experience of the session itself, and the physical items you have to trigger the memories after the fact and for years to come. I strongly believe that you should have a great time during the session itself, but I also believe it is super important that you take home albums and wall displays so you have something tangible to look back on and remember this important and special moment in your life.
I am not what is referred to in the photography industry as a “shoot and burn” photographer. I won’t just take your photos and then hand them off to you on a flash drive…you know what happens with those photos? More often than not, they never get printed and enjoyed. I’ve talked to so many people who have photos on drives that they’ve never printed because they don’t know what to do with them, where to go, how to get the best prints, etc, or they just don’t “get around to it”. This is why you come to someone like me, who has the resources and knowledge to do it for you. In some cases, those drives get lost and the photographer can’t be found, and those precious memories are lost forever. How sad is that? You and your memories are so much more important to me than that! I am a full service boutique photography studio, which means you don’t need to do any of the work, and I will deliver beautiful artwork to you that is ready to be hung on your walls or placed on your coffee table. And that’s where it should be – not on a flash drive somewhere that no one will ever see.
What if your great great grandmother’s photo had been hidden on some flash drive – would you ever have seen a photo of her, and realized that you had her nose, or felt a connection to her? Physical photos give us a feeling that can’t be replicated, therefore I feel it is extremely important to preserve that tradition. Some will say the shoot and burn method is less expensive, and that may be true in dollars and cents, but what are your precious memories really worth? Isn’t it worth it to have physical, tangible albums and wall displays that will last a lifetime? If you lose that flash drive, how much would you be willing to pay to get those photos back? My friends, photography is not a commodity. Look for the person that will provide you the best experience, value, and physical products to display your artwork and hold your memories for future generations. You will never regret it!
If the experience I provide to my senior clients is appealing to you, please connect with me. Let’s sit down, have a conversation, and see if we are a fit. I LOVE what I do, and nothing makes me happier than being the one to help you tell YOUR story through photography! I’ll be waiting for your call. 😉
This past week has been a week of reflection and of looking ahead for me.
I did a photo shoot with my girls from the Class of 2017 Senior Model Team AND I did the initial photo sessions with the guys and gals that will be with me for the next year on the Class of 2018 Senior Model Team. We often hear people talk about “young people these days”… and generally it’s not in the most positive light, but I am here to tell you that there are a lot of great young people out there, many of whom I have had the opportunity to connect with through my Senior Model program.
Looking Back to Senior Model Team 2017
If it hadn’t been for two girls who were instrumental in helping me launch the Class of 2017 Senior Model Team, there wouldn’t be anything to talk about for the Class of 2018. Hanna and Jaelyn, thank you for helping me find the talented young women I’ve had the pleasure to photograph and get to know over the past year! I appreciate your help more than you know.
The Class of 2017 is winding down their senior year, and will soon graduate and head off to college in the fall. They are a group of beautiful, talented, and genuinely nice young women, and I can’t wait to follow their future adventures. Thank you for allowing me into your lives, ladies, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you and your families!
Looking Ahead to Senior Model Team 2018
The Class of 2018 Senior Model Team is packed with a diverse group of guys and gals that I am so excited to get to know better. We’ve got athletes, writers, dancers, musicians, artists…I cannot wait to see the types of creative shoots we’ll be able to put together over the next year! Most of the girls and guys were in the studio recently for their initial photos, and it was such an awesome buzz of energy and positivity. We had fabulous fashions for them to model (Thank you Jennifer at Fashion Affection Boutique and Maya at Modern Man), and makeup artists to give the girls that polished look (Thank you Corrie and Casey from Moxy Hair Studio). At one point during the week, I looked up and saw moms and daughters hanging out in my studio and having a great time, and thought “this is it, this is what my vision is all about!”. I always talk about the experience, and seeing everyone in my studio getting ready, having a great time, and waiting for their turn behind the camera…it was the experience I had envisioned for the model team, and it was fun to see it become a reality.
Stay tuned to the blog and my social media accounts to see the Class of 2018 Senior Model Team introductions and to follow our journey over the next year. You can follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/debmitzelphotography or on Instagram at @dmitzphoto. You can also subscribe to my VIP list to receive exclusive access to future specials, tips, and other behind the scenes goodies. Sign up form is on the right side of the blog. And, of course, there’s always www.debmitzelphotography.com, where you can see more of my work, link to my blog and social media accounts, and find information about booking your own photography session.
Until next time…make it a great week! And check out the photos below from the “College Shoot” with my 2017 Senior Model Team.
Have you ever talked to a friend who was so bummed out because they had just lost or broken their cell phone? Were you there when they realized that the majority of their recent pictures were on that phone? Were you also there when they realized that they didn’t have it backed up, and those photos were lost forever? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not a fun moment. The pain of lost photos is definitely a downside of today’s technology!
Connection to the Past
When it comes to photography today, so many of our precious memories are living on a little card inside our phones, and since most people aren’t backing them up, they can be lost in the blink of an eye. I’ve heard from more than one parent in the past few years who lost a large chunk of their photos when their phone died or they switched carriers, lost it, or some other scenario. To me this is just tragic. Photos have always been an important part of my life’s story. They are how I was able to connect with grandparents that were gone before I was born, how I was able to see my parent’s relationship as they were dating and newly married, how I’ve relived many moments from my own childhood, and that is the kind of experience I want for absolutely everyone. In my mind, it is something that truly cannot be taken lightly – you can’t get those moments back once they’re lost forever.
A Present for the Future
That, my friends, is why I’m so extremely passionate about you taking home wall art and albums of the photos we create during your session with me. If I just hand you a digital USB device and no physical photos, the odds of them ever getting printed and put in albums or hung on your wall are slim to none, and that is a darn shame! Not to mention the fact that by the time someone realizes the true value of them (one or two generations down the road), the technology will no longer be able to “read’ those photos and they will be lost forever. That doesn’t happen with prints. Yes, they may fade and dull over time (but even that has improved greatly with technology), but they are still physically present, and future generations can hold those photos in their hands and feel a connection to someone they may never have had the opportunity to know. That is so precious and cannot be emphasized enough.
I think our society has come to a point with cameras in everyone’s hands that photography has become a bit devalued, but for those of you who still cherish the importance of it, and want to have that lasting legacy, I am here for you. I am not that photographer who will spend two hours with you and then just dump all the files on a flash drive for you and send you on your way. No, I care too much about you and your legacy to do that. I realize you’re busy and have a million other things to do, so I am going to be the one who ensures that you have physical prints that will last for generations to come. Have you ever paid attention to the photos in the obituary section of the newspaper? This may seem a bit morbid, but I promise there is a point… Have you noticed those photos where it is obvious that the deceased’s photo was cropped out of a snapshot with other people in it? Isn’t it sad that there wasn’t even one great picture of them solo that could have been used? Or, how about the ones where the deceased had lived a long life and died at 95, but the photo is of them at 25 years old? Perhaps their family had a reason for including the old photo, but in many cases, the reason is that the deceased hadn’t had a professional photo taken of themselves for 70 years! As one who values the printed photograph, this saddens me. The moral of the story? Do yourself and your family a favor and make sure you take and print photos of your family throughout your lifetime, whether you do it with a professional photographer or not.
Since I’m already on my soapbox!
And, since I’m already on my soapbox about printing photos, how about one more topic? For those of you that whine and complain every time you’re asked to be in a photo, please do your family and friends a favor and knock it off! You may not personally care about the photo, but trust me, you have current and future loved ones who do. So next time you are tempted to complain when asked to sit for a photo, remember that you are only hurting those that love you, because we both know it’s not hurting you. Ok, rant over, but I find it so frustrating when people (usually guys) make such a fuss about having their photo taken, when in reality it is one of the best gifts they can give to their family. So relax and smile, guys! Your future grandchildren will thank you! 🙂
…for most high schools, and it’s one of those high school experiences that I think everyone should have. Getting dressed up, going out to dinner, and dancing the night away with your best friends…nothing says high school experience quite like it!
About a week ago, I had the opportunity to actually attend the Brainerd High School Prom, something I hadn’t done since my own, many moons ago! It was fun seeing all of the young people dressed up in their finest at the Grand March, and then watching them drop their purses and kick off their heels as they arrived at The NP Event Center to dance the night away. I was struck by the fact that even though so many things have changed since my time in high school, some things, like prom, are still very much the same. Yes, the preparation is a little more extravagant (getting your hair and makeup done? that wasn’t even a consideration in my time), and the clothes and meals are fancier and more expensive, but the fun of dancing and singing to your favorite songs with all of your closest friends is still the same. It’s a timeless tradition that doesn’t go out of style. As you know, for me, experience is a huge deal, and prom is one of those experiences that you will remember the rest of your life. Can you guess what else was similar to my high school days? The music! I heard at least three songs that were played during my own high school days..and you know what else? The kids knew every word by heart! Kinda makes this old 80’s girl proud. 🙂
The Pre-Prom Party
I spent time with a couple of my 2017 Senior Models and their friends before they headed off to Grand March. This fun loving group all traveled together in a RV driven by one of the parents – what a fun experience!
I recently attended a photography retreat and conference in Arizona. Not a bad place to be in March when you’re a Senior Photographer from Minnesota! The retreat organizers were on a mission to provide hands on opportunities to shoot and actually use our camera gear, as well as a variety of more traditional classroom training. I strongly believe that we should always be learning and trying to better ourselves, so deciding to attend this retreat didn’t take much arm twisting! I truly believe that if you get to the point where you think you know everything about something, it’s probably time to hang it up.
Never stop learning
I have so many things to learn about photography, and honestly, that’s a big part of what I love about it – there’s always a challenge around the next corner. From posing to lighting, and editing to album making, there is always something new to learn and be challenged with. I connected with a huge variety of other photographers at the retreat. Some specialized in portraits, such as senior photography, others in landscapes, architecture, products, etc. Some had been doing photography for years, others has just gotten started. The really incredible thing was that we were all willing to work with each other and help each other out. From group shooting challenges to stretching ourselves in the studio and on location, there were so many ways to learn and take ourselves outside of our comfort zones. It really was an amazing few days.
The Portfolio Review – can you say intimidating?
While at the Retreat, I took the opportunity to have my portfolio reviewed, which can be a really scary proposition. Having another photographer review and critique your best work can be mind-rattling, but I welcomed the opportunity to learn and grow from those whose work I admire. The reviews were very positive, but one suggestion was to step outside of the safe zone and get a little edgy with my photos, which I fully intend to do. As I’ve mentioned many times, much of my focus is on providing an experience, and I also want to give you photos and options you may not find elsewhere. I will always make sure you get those “safe photos” to hang on the wall, but I also think we should mix it up with some edgy sports portraiture or high fashion model style looks. You know those looks and poses you post when you’re taking your selfies? I want you to let loose so we can capture some of that “real you” during your senior session, too. And you just never know, those may be the photos you end up hanging on the wall after all. 😉
What fills you up?
If you’re a senior or are about to be, the idea that you should never stop learning may seem daunting, and you may be thinking that you’re just ready to be done with school and learning for a while. That may be, but this is a different type of learning – learning that will serve you well for the rest of your life, and give you energy when you need it the most. Find something that fuels your passion and learn everything you can about it, whether it is something you will use to pay the bills or not. In life, there are things that fill you up, and things that deplete you. Filling yourself up by learning something you’re passionate about is the best way to be your BEST YOU in everything you do.
Photography is the thing that fills me up, so attending this retreat was a great way for me to expand my knowledge and use what I’ve learned to do my best work for you. 🙂
You know I’m always looking for ways to make the senior experience with my studio even more fun than it already is. I want you to have a ton of fun and an experience where you can create memories that will last a lifetime! As I mentioned a while back, I am now offering the incredible opportunity to enter the Seniors Ignite National Model Competition as part of the Deb Mitzel Photography senior experience. The national winners will participate in the Palm Springs Collective in January 2018.
What is The Palm Springs Collective?
A trip to Palm Springs California in the middle of winter, and
the opportunity to Model in a full blown fashion shoot,
have your Hair, Makeup and Clothing styled by professionals,
be featured in a national magazine, and
receive incredible photos and memories to take home with you.
If you enter the competition and are one of the national winners, you’ll have this amazing opportunity, referred to as “The Palm Springs Collective”. I’m heading to Palm Springs in January, so it would be great to have you with me!
Don’t get hung up on the word “model”
So, before you start thinking, “I’m not model material” or “I don’t have a shot”, please don’t get hung up on the word model…yes, there will be hair, makeup, and trendy fashions at the photoshoot, but the competition is not all about physical appearance. The Seniors Ignite team is looking for young people who have compelling and interesting stories to share with others, and they want to tell your story through photography, too, just as I do. We’ll work together on your entry submission, and if all goes well and you’re a national winner, we’ll jet off to sunny Palm Springs in January, right in the middle of winter in Minnesota! Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Take a look at this video produced by Katherine Mendieta at a recent California photoshoot with another group of winning seniors. Look at all the fun they’re having! If you’re looking for a senior experience unlike any other, click here, and we’ll make sure your senior year is the best year yet!
I’ve talked before about the great experience I had with my senior photographer. I grew up in a small town, so I had known him all my life, and he was only a few years older than me. I have written about the fact that I never really felt like I could smile. I don’t remember specific anxiety about it, but I distinctly remember being pleasantly surprised when my proofs came back and I was happy with them and how my smile looked. I am a child of the 80’s (yes I’m old), and at that point the majority of senior pictures were in a studio in front of some lame bookcase backdrop, and most of them looked the same. My experience, however, was significantly different. Jay (that was my photographer’s name) did some of those indoor studio shots, too, but the backdrops were better, and then we went to several different outdoor locations to shoot as well. I think I had four or five different outfits, and he made the entire experience comfortable and enjoyable. It obviously must have been, because 30 plus years later (yep, I said I was old), I am still talking about it. In fact, I enjoyed working with him so much that he was also our wedding photographer when my husband and I got married. That positive and personal experience with Jay is what drives my passion for developing a relationship with my clients and providing the best senior experience possible.
I understand that most of us are a bit insecure about having our photos taken, so isn’t it nice to know that you’ve got someone on the other side of the camera who wants to get to know who you really are, and will do everything in their power to present you in the best light, in the way that everyone else sees you? Not necessarily in the critical way you see yourself? Man, speaking of that…the other day I went on a shopping trip because I was in desperate need of some new clothes. So, off I went, determined to find something new to make me feel good and spunky again. Well, that whole idea went south as soon as I stepped into the dressing room at the department store. When was the last time you stood in front of the mirror in the harsh light of the department store dressing room half clothed? Well, I did it the other day, and I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t a pleasant experience! Now I work out regularly and try to watch what I eat, but man, it was still a “come to Jesus” moment for me. Fortunately, I don’t live my life half clothed under the harsh lights of a department store dressing room, but if I did, I would need someone alongside me to peel me off the ceiling from that scary experience! That, my friends, is what I try to do for you as your photographer! I think we all view ourselves as half clothed under those harsh lights, and we need someone to come along who sees the real us, and can show us what we really look like under soft natural light with all our clothes on…let me tell you, it’s a very different, and much more pleasant experience!
Until next time…
P.S…and if you’re going shopping, be sure to bring a friend along for moral support!
If you’ve ever talked to me about my photography or spent much time on my website, you know that providing an “experience” is very important to me. I know the idea of providing an experience has become a bit of a catch phrase in the marketing world – don’t we all like doing business with people we know, like and trust? Sure we do – it makes perfect sense, and I guess to me, that’s just common sense! With regard to my photography business, my goal is to take experience a little further. Photography is such a personal thing – it’s just me and my camera with you, in what, for most people is a pretty vulnerable position. Some people like having their picture taken, but most are a bit self conscious. I completely understand that and don’t take those fears and concerns lightly. I want to make you feel at home in front of my camera, and know that I will do everything in my power to have you feeling comfortable during the process so you walk away feeling confident and excited to see the images that I’ve captured.
I want your session to be reflection of you, so we’ll put a plan together to make that happen before I ever pick up the camera. We’ll do this during your pre-session consultation. This is when we’ll meet in my studio to get to know each other a bit and plan out your session. I am specifically referring to my process with seniors here, but other than business headshots, I prefer to meet with all clients ahead of time for a consultation. I like to know what your goals are for the session, what you’re planning to do with the photos, who you are, what you’re into, what your concerns are, what you’re excited about. I want to tell your story through images, and capture you in a way that is authentic and true to the person you are at this moment in time. If I don’t have the opportunity to meet you until a few minutes before your session, we’ll still capture some great images, but they may not really tell the story of who you are, and I want you to look back at your photos when you’re my age (which is pretty old!), and remember fondly where we went, what we did, and some funny story that happened along the way. That is the authentic experience I want for you!
When it comes to senior photos, or any photos for that matter, deciding what to wear can often be an extremely frustrating process. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could work with someone to give you honest advice and help you find the outfits that look great and help you feel “like you”? I’ve been working with Jennifer and her team at Fashion Affection Boutique in Baxter for the past year with my senior model team, and they have done a fantastic job finding clothes to match the style and personality of each model. We will be working together again this year for my model program, and Jennifer has graciously agreed to provide some wardrobe guidance to those of you who might need it when planning your sessions. If this is something you’d be interested in, just let me know when we schedule your session, and we’ll arrange a time for you to stop by Fashion Affection and get the help you need. Having clothing that makes you feel good and looks good on you is so important! Thanks to Jennifer and her team at Fashion Affection for helping us make your senior experience just a little bit better!
I recently did a photo shoot with the ladies of FAB. They are one fun loving bunch of ladies, and I promise they’ll take great care of you when you visit their store!
It’s that time of year again when I’m busy making plans for the upcoming senior season and thinking of all the things I want to do to provide an incredible experience for my senior models, as well as all of the seniors who come to me for their portrait experience. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…I want my seniors to walk away with an experience they will remember fondly every time they look at their photos, whether 6 months, 6 years, or 6 decades from now! That’s a pretty lofty goal, but I’ve always set high standards, and I’m not going to start doing things halfway now, that’s just who I am.
This year my seniors will have the opportunity to enter a national senior model competition. If they are chosen as one of the winners, they’ll win a trip to a warm, sunny destination in January, where they will participate in a fashion shoot for a magazine, as well as have the experience of a lifetime. I am so thrilled to be able to provide this amazing opportunity for my seniors this year! More details will be coming soon, but you can be sure it will be an incredible opportunity for the winners. Now, I know that everyone who enters will not win the big prize, but we’re going to have some fun and creative shoots locally, too, so if you’re an upcoming senior, this is something you’ll definitely want to be a part of. This is all part of that senior experience I want you to have – all you have to do is let me know what you’re into and what your vision is, and I’ll do my best to help you make it a reality!
To give you an idea of what’s involved in this national senior model competition, check out this incredible video produced by Katherine Mendieta that showcases the winning seniors at their model shoot in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. Talk about an experience! I am continually looking for ways to raise the bar for my seniors, and am really excited about this opportunity! Stay tuned to the blog and social media for all the details!