Feeling on top of the world

It's been a little while since I've posted on my blog, but I have been a bit busier than normal.  With summer now here, it has been an adjustment in our home for me trying to entertain two children that are both very active and playful =) However, I have some amazing news to share with everyone -- Creative Live just came out with a new initiative, in which they interview their students, highlight their accomplishments, and discuss how these students have been positively impacted. I have had a few interviews with their staff members, after which time they put together this super touching video and article that I am really proud about.  I was fortunate enough to be their Grand Prize winner in a competition last Fall, and I have been steadily growing my business since that time.  I am so honored and humbled to have had this experience, and to know that my voice was heard and broadcast far and wide is beyond exciting.  I have had such an outpouring of love and support that it's unreal.  I would love for you to read more about my mission, and the interview I gave here at Creative Live

Having children is not always easy, but it is always an adventure. They have taught me so much about life and why every moment is special. Right now, my oldest just woke from his nap and is cuddling against me while I finish typing this up-- and the only thing I can think about is how he won't be this little or sweet forever (well, I really DO hope he is always this sweet!)

I love these moments and wouldn't trade them for anything.

Bluebonnets with my favorite boys <3

No spring would be complete here in the Austin Texas area, without a frolic in the bluebonnets!  We found a luscious patch of bluebonnets behind a grocery store and decided to play outside in the late afternoon. I brought a wagon in case the kids wanted somewhere to sit, and it's probably a good thing that I did....

Bluebonnets-Austin-Georgetown-Texas-Spring-1

Hello!!!  How cute can one boy be?  The fun only multiplies when these adorable cuties get together in the Bluebonnets. This next set... oh my heart! <3  These boys are brothers, and I have known these two (plus the other sweet boy) since before they were born.

Bluebonnets-Austin-Georgetown-Texas-Spring-2
Bluebonnets-Austin-Georgetown-Texas-Spring-3

Although my two (in the wagon in that last picture) weren't sitting still for most of the time they were together, they still had a fabulous time with their friends as evidenced by the Radio Flyer trek.  I love being able to capture memories like this for my boys, their friends, and my mama friends too =) I can't wait until next year rolls around, because I have a feeling it will be another gorgeous year for flowers.


<3  Twyla

My Mentoring time with Julia Kelleher

Well, the time I was waiting for came and went in a flash! Like so many other aspects of my life, I felt like there weren't enough hours in the day. I know this could be sort of boring, so I would like to break this post into bite sized chunks about why meeting with a well known and loved professional really has changed my perception of what I do, and how our meeting was beneficial to me.

1. I got to see what a session was like for another photographer

This might seem strange to some (or maybe commonplace to others), but I have very little experience working with other family and newborn photographers. When I say very little, I mean ZERO real life, practical experience . Everything I have learned comes from hundreds (nay, thousands) of hours watching and reading both online and off. Creative Live has been my primary source of education and I'm so thankful to the talented individuals that have taken the time to share their knowledge through such an easily accessible resource, and that Creative Live even exists.  Physically being with Julia and watching that she has a very "normal" way of interacting with clients gave me a sense of belonging-- that as a photographer, I was not just one of a sea of many, but a collective PART of many. I felt like my struggles could easily have been hers at one point, and the that all photographers must have similar experiences to mine. I'm not sure why it never hit me before, but this really was almost an epiphany of understanding-- like an AHA moment of clarity and connection. I don't feel so alone anymore.

2. Tips and Tricks

A benefit of actually meeting with Julia was getting small tips and tricks to use in my own business.  Things I hadn't considered that ranged from the positioning of baby on a beanbag, to how the light falls on a scene, and everything in between.  

  • How to start doing market research
  • What to think about when evaluating your market
  • Ways to differentiate myself and be true to my ideas, visions, and inner artist
  • Which artists and business owners influence and inspire her
  • Things she likes to do to recharge 

There weren't any topics that weren't open to discussion, and she made it a priority to help me however she was able. I really appreciate that she was an open book and gave me direct, honest feedback about not only my work, but business practices that I am (now) in the process of refining.  I am now listening to Podcasts (PODCASTS) thanks to this lady (which is amazing, I might add), since I spend so much time in the car.  This is definitely one way to do more with my limited time, and I hadn't even considered it previously-- maybe this isn't mind blowing, but it is a very practical suggestion that I am thankful for.

 Feeling super cute, drinking bulletproof coffee. What a trip! Thanks for the picture!!

Feeling super cute, drinking bulletproof coffee. What a trip! Thanks for the picture!!

3. Having an outside professional's objective perspective for my plans

It was nice to have a well known and respected photographer review my website, the current market I'm in, and what my current processes are so that I can make tweaks and revisions. One of the most frustrating things I find about being a photographer is that I am so isolated-- I am blessed with a select few amazing photographer friends, but I don't have a great local network of others to rely on or rally with (no, this isn't a pity party, just the plain old truth).  I also am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband, but let's face it -- his idea of what is best for a photography business might not, in all actuality, be what is best for it. Together, Julia and I put together an actionable list of things I can update, change, and implement which was a breath of fresh air. I found it invaluable that she could take an objective look into what I am currently doing and ways that I can plan for my future growth. We never know what we don't know until someone points it out, and one thing I am going to try and work into my time table is joining Austin's PPA (Professional Photographer's of America) branch so I can start building that network that I am sorely lacking. 

4.  My future Growth as an Artist

It was pretty cool that, during my visit, there was a print competition going on (and we were able to tune in via the internet).  This gave me the opportunity to review the excellent work that others submitted for competition, and elements that are being looked at for each piece. Julia was able to give me a quick rundown of the mindset behind the judge scoring, explain what things the judges would be looking for, and how competing affects not only how you edit images, but how you shoot them to begin with. One thing I've been toying with is going after my CPP (certified professional photographer) status. It involves not only a comprehensive written exam, but a portfolio submission, and also that you continue to actively learn within the photography community.  Beyond this certification is the opportunity to obtain various degrees, which is where print competition comes in. This gives you the opportunity to expand your personal growth as an artist and also gain recognition for your work, which is something I am quite keen on for the future.  I am not sure I would have understood the relevance of print competition had I not been afforded the opportunity to meet with her, and I'm thankful for this unexpected exposure!  

There were many more moments of clarity during my brief visit to Bend Oregon (this place is amazing, btw) and I would consider writing them all down except that would make for a really boring and long blog post, and it would give away all my plans!  As much as I love transparency, I love to surprise and delight people more, so you will just have to hold your breath for the future of my business =)

All my love, and thanks for reading!

<3 Twyla

When babies love cake!! - Austin TX - First Birthday Cake Smash

Now that the holidays are over, school is back in session, and things are going back to normal (whatever that is), I am finding time to press on with the things I've been itching to do.  One of those things is talking about this adorable family and their sweet sweet little boy who happened to have his first birthday a few weeks ago!   I would love to share with you =)

 CAKE SMAAAAAASH! &nbsp;

CAKE SMAAAAAASH!  

As you can see, there is was NO shortage of adorable toddler for this session, hahaha!  Mom and I discussed her hopes and desires for these pictures-- she wanted them to match his birthday party theme, which was Winter "One"derland. I put on my crafty-jeans and pulled together this set up, and we created a lovely set of images for this family to remember and cherish. The best part was that , despite the freezing weather we were having in the Austin area, we were able to be toasty and warm in my little home studio =)  

Oh.  I would also like to show off the beautiful canvas that this family ordered for the occasion!  Isn't it the greatest keepsake?  I know I wish I had one made for when my littles turned one!
 

 This is an alcove in my own home which norrrrrrrrmally has something much bigger hanging in it. This is for illustration purposes only folks! hahaha

This is an alcove in my own home which norrrrrrrrmally has something much bigger hanging in it. This is for illustration purposes only folks! hahaha

Oh, and just in case you need more cute in your life (It is Monday morning, after all) then you MUST MUST MUST view their personal video on Youtube. Or view it in the current browser window. Whichever you prefer, but make sure you view it. =) It's available all the way up to 1080p (high definition) so for the best viewing experience, I would definitely head to YouTube and click on the HD button to make sure you're watching every pixel perfectly.  

xoxoxoxo

<3 Twyla

Nothing beats the feeling of Art

Your family as Art for your home.

There are very few things as satisfying as creating beautiful pictures for families here in the Austin Texas area.  However, growing up in the digital age has all but ruined a lot us and the appreciation for a finely printed photograph, so most of the time, our beautiful families end up on a silver disc, stuck in a drawer somewhere instead of displayed proudly on our walls.   I, however, am here to remedy that -- it's why I do what I do.

You may have seen this gorgeous family on my Facebook Page, or through my portfolio images.  They have trusted me over the last few years to capture the memories that are practically impossible to capture on their own (let's face it, besides a cell phone selfie, when was the last time you actually took a picture of *yourself*?)  When they told me they wanted an updated family picture, I was more than happy to take them to this gorgeous Fall location in Round Rock, where we caught some great images of this sweet family of four.  You can catch them all in the link to my video below. But I digress-- My whole purpose in posting this is to show how this.....

Can turn into this....

 Beautiful 30x40 canvas and mini 8x10 canvases - custom designed for their home interior. This ain't yo momma's 11x14!

Beautiful 30x40 canvas and mini 8x10 canvases - custom designed for their home interior. This ain't yo momma's 11x14!

As you can see, this large Wall Canvas is going to make QUITE an impact in their family home.  Who wouldn't be instantly happy when that's the first thing you see when you get home every day? =)

What have you printed lately?

Studio Makeover Update - Nearing the end of Week 1

Just thought I would share a bit of an update about how things are going down in this neck of the woods.  This week has been a frenzy of messages, conversations, and rehashing. I have been working through Julia's course again, and trying to refine the answers from my "home work" assignments, and adjust additional policies.

I have been also in touch with clients and have three sessions scheduled for next week (which should be a little crazy considering my husband will not be home).  I have been considering a drop in playcare center for the boys because, let's face it -- sometimes, the hubby and I would simply just like an evening to ourselves. The youngest is nearing two, and I really would like a last minute option to use should we ever need it for the future. I have not considered that into my business costs, but is one of the notes I made for myself so that I can remember and consider it.

Running a business and being a mommy can be difficult =P

I also started a new book this week called Playing Big, and I got it through Amazon on Audible. The great thing is that I have been able to listen to it while driving my oldest around to his therapy appointments and back. I am learning a lot about that inner voice inside of you that says hurtful things to you as a means of protection.  Everyone has one, and it says different things to different people.  This week, my own inner voice said, "Maybe they made a mistake choosing you for that prize.  There's no way you can do all the things you really want  -- you can't even make time to finish that Pinterest board of inspiration you started!!"
Well, the only thing I have to say to that voice is that even a flood starts as one drop of water.  I think as long as I hold to my convictions, and keep chipping away through all my blocks and imperfections, I will emerge with my dreams, beautifully carved out and ready to show everyone.

Maybe I need a little bit of Survivor on repeat : Eye of the Tiger!!!

<3  Twyla

Studio Makeover Update - File management and organization

So having gone through Julia Kelleher's bootcamp on Creative Live, I completed a lot of the homework, but of course with family obligations, I didn't complete all of it.  Today, I decided that the number one priority for the day would begetting digitally organized!! I -did- do the homework chart for the segment of the course that discussed how to organize files, but I had not implemented it.  I have a back up system that is not quite working the way it should be -- I use Crash Plan and for some reason, ever since I changed computers, it has not linked up properly or run reliably.
It has been daunting to think about, but as it is something I needed to eventually do, I am taking the time to set it straight so it will not be a problem when I really need it!  

When I import all my images from my camera, I typically just leave everything in a year - date format.  At this point, I am also going to change how I import so that my files will be sorted into Personal or Client work, and systemically organized based off of what status their files are in.

Moving all of my client files has proven very time consuming, but I know how much happier I am going to be once this is finalized. The next big step for me is going to be removing duplicate .jpg files (since I have my camera set to shoot a copy .jpg in addition to my native files), and getting rid of RAW files that were supposed to be tossed to begin with.   I may actually do this sporadically throughout the week, as I am waiting on other tasks.

It feels good to know that I am "cleaning house" because the mental clutter that accompanies knowing that I have things on a "to do" list that are not getting done truly weighs down on me.  I am working towards an exceptional year end, and streamlined new year!

WHAT I DID TODAY - DAY 1

  • Scouted several of the parks that I normally go to so I could assess the damage done by flooding. Two of my parks are still no-go, but two others are going to be just fine, thankfully!
  • Grabbed some pancakes with the little one and freaked out because I couldn't find my wallet
  • Got lunch together and headed off to take my oldest to his therapy sessions
  • Scouted two new parks in South Austin so I could have options there, and met with a client that I will be doing a session for next week. I got to meet her children; they seemed to take a liking to me and my youngest son =) Hopefully that works in my favor for our session and the children won't think of me as the strange lady with a camera!
  • Logged in late to Julia's final Periscope, where I was hoping to be able to say thank you for everything.
  • Kids bathed and bed -- started working on my file management and decided that blogging about my status would be a great way to not only keep myself accountable, but let others know how things are working out for me!

Ultimate Studio Makeover - Grand Prize Winner!!

Hello to anyone reading this! This is going to be long, but I truly hope you take the time to read it if you clicked on this post to begin with.  Part of this is a re-post from my original Facebook message, but there was so much I wanted to say that I didn't in my original posting.  I felt a huge pressure to express my gratitude immediately, but I didn't have the time to process what I really wanted to say. 

So, the most amazing thing just happened to me!! You won't even believe it, because I sure didn't. I was chosen out of hundreds of other very deserving and passionate people to be the recipient of an amazing prize that will help my studio grow in unimaginable ways. 
I am humbled, and so elated... 
I am overwhelmed with emotion, yet calm in the knowledge that I CAN do this... 
I am confident in my abilities, and just so thankful for this opportunity.
I look forward to being able to serve others and give without limitations. I have been working towards that day, and now that day will be here so much sooner! Thank you to everyone who has supported me and will support me in the coming months as I reach for the stars. Building dreams is a process, and I look forward to sharing my journey with you!

Thank you to CreativeLive and the wonderful people that had to do the crazy job of deciding who will win. This is not a gift to be taken lightly, and I promise I will not disappoint.
And a most sincere thank you to Julia at Jewel Images for sharing her passion and life with everyone. You have inspired me since the first moment I tuned into Creative Live. You will never know how you've changed my life-- even more so now. You are such an open book, and so very easy to relate to, and you have already pushed me beyond innumerable boundaries.

I would be remiss if I didn't also thank the sponsors of this give away that have given so generously-- seriously, how amazing are these companies?? 
White House Custom Color will be giving a lab credit of $1500 for me to use for studio products so I can create some amazing work to showcase to my clients.
Julia at Jewel Images, and Time Exposure are gifting me an amazing opportunity to mentor under Julia for a day so I can learn from one of the best in the industry!! 
Additionally, Time Exposure will be giving me a lease for an entire year of their amazing software called Proselect Pro which will help me showcase my client's galleries beautifully and intuitively. This is also important as a time management tool, because we ALL need more time.  Speaking of time, I can't imagine how much time I am going to save thanks to the fact that Julia will also be giving me access to her studio-in-a-box collection which includes templates, informational resources for me to be able to use to better serve my clients, and guides that I can use to help me streamline my workflow and efficiency.
Asuka Book is the maker of some of the beautiful Albums that Julia offers, and they have agreed to not only give $600 credit to their lab, but an additional $400 cash to use towards the studio!  I have always wanted to have and hold one of their beautiful albums, and this is going to be one of the first things I order!
Studio Cloud is a studio management software company that has donated a six month lease of their software, and $500 cash for use towards my business!  I have dabbled with the free version in the past, and I can't wait to make use of it's full functionality thanks to their generous donation.
The two things I have truly struggled with since deciding to start my journey are mastering social media, and my personal brand.  If I told you to think of a well known soft drink, or athletic shoe company, and I gave you one word or idea as a hint of who I wanted you to think of, you would likely be able to know exactly who I was talking about with no additional information.  That means that company has a successful brand.  I will be transforming my site and highlighting my purpose gradually over the next several weeks, until I can be confident in how I appear when dealing with the digital world. A solid brand would be nothing if I didn't have the capability of sharing it with everyone, and to this end, I really thank Sarah Daily Media and Jane Johnson Brand Styling & Design for donating their services to this amazing package.  Last but not least, CreativeLive ((My favorite website and learning resource EVER)) has kindly decided to gift Julia's classes in their ENTIRETY for me to learn and grow.  How amazing is that??

The next chapter of my life is going to be hectic-- I can already tell. It will be uncomfortable, because growth always is.  But sometimes when you feel you just can't stretch any more, and you just can't reach any further... you surpass anything you dreamed of.

Speaking of dreams... I had a dream the night before I submitted my video. I had been trying to work on it and put it together, and the perfectionist in my struggled so hard to get my message out.  I went to sleep, and in my dreams I was declared the first runner up for the prize.  I woke up and I knew that if I never submitted an entry, I could never BE a runner up. 
Life is like that. You can never fail if you never try, but you can never succeed either. I want to be purposeful... and to live an intentional life. I can't do much, just sitting behind a computer wishing that things were different for me or for anyone else. 

There is one last anecdote I would like to share with you before I call it a night.  In high school, I was voted "Most Likely to Take Over the World".  As funny as I found it at the time, it also stuck with me, in the back of my mind. I had never really considered how I could touch the world, let alone take it over.   Finding another purpose in life has been a scary thing to process... admitting it out loud for thousands of people was terrifying. It's a bit like ripping a band-aid off -- the "pain" is intense! But, I know that I am ready to take one step at a time towards my goal, and gladly welcome the help that has already been so willingly offered.

I plan to keep a journal of my ongoing challenges, struggles, and accomplishments. And even if nobody else will read it, I will have something I can be proud of and remember fondly as I struggle to make my dreams a reality.  Thank you for taking the time to read this.