The power of friends

19 December 2010

Granted, this is supposed to be a photography blog so if you came here looking for photos just scroll down a little bit and there are thousands of images.   Sometimes I just like to talk.  This morning is one such time, and yesterday…   I have this idea about how we could all help each other out a little bit.  Wouldn’t you like to look smokin’ hot in your wedding photos AND have some extra cash flow to help pay for everything?  Would you prefer to escape the 9:00 to 5:00 and set your own hours working from home?  Ultimately, would you prefer to have the discretionary  time and the financial freedom to do what you want NOW instead of 30 years from now when you may or may not be able to retire?   You just think about that for a minute while I change the subject.

A little over 3 years ago Rick and I both quit our jobs on the same day.  Wait, it gets worse.  We were in a sickening amount of debt, had no other jobs lined up, and walked away from 10 years of portfolio work that was owned by another studio.   In other words, we were broke and empty handed; having nothing to show for the time we had already invested into our photography careers.  The only asset we had was the loyalty of our friends.  (you know who you are!)  We had a plan that, at best, could be called suicidally stupid.   If someone were to ask me if I thought that leveraging relationship equity was, in and of itself,  a good strategy for starting a business I would say emphatically, “NO”.    However, being well past the point of no return and with no safety net or plan B, success was the only option.   We built a 6 figure business in one year.  And for helping us pull this off I have to thank all of you: our clients, friends, colleagues and family members.  No success is achieved overnight, or independent of a support network.  What I didn’t realize going into it was that the loyalty and support of our friends was actually a far more valuable asset for successful business building than was having 6 months worth of savings in the bank.

As most of you are already aware I am putting the word on the street that my PiYo classes will be starting next month. (see previous post – Something New Is Coming To Dry Heat Photography) I intend for this to be not only a good side business for me but, most of all, a beneficial endeavor for those of you who choose to participate.  You know, the tools we need to do whatever we want are all around us.  They are right there in plain sight and all we have to do is pick them up and use them.   Most of us, myself included at times, have become so blinded by the routine and workload of our lives that we forget to look around at where we’re headed or to even consider if we’re going where we want to go or just trudging along the path we think we have to take.  Do you look and feel the way you want to look and feel, are you doing what you want to do?  Do the things that matter to you get set aside for the things you think you have to do?   Am I gonna get to the point sooner or later?  Yeah, now would be a good time.

So I have this vision and here it is.  There is a company called Beachbody.  You may or may not have heard of it but you have most likely seen an infomercial for some of their better known products like P90X or Turbo Jam.  They also sell nutritional products like Shakeology and the P90X Results and Recovery Formula.  I’ve been turning to Beachbody for my fitness products for years.  Only recently did it really sink in that Beachbody is an MLM corporation meaning that I could open my very own online Beachbody storefront and sell their products for a commission.  <light bulb!>  With my recent decision to add “fitness instructor” to my job title, becoming a Beachbody “Coach” seemed only natural.  I already use a ton of their products and now if I order them through my Coaching website I can save 25% and if other people order from me I make 25%.  Well, that seems like a good deal right? But hold on now, that’s only part of it.  I have a vision that is bigger than just me convincing you to buy Shakeology.  For all of you who are considering joining me on this fitness journey I say to you “think big, pay it forward” and by that I mean embrace the new lifestyle by getting fit and by signing up for your own Beachbody Coach account so that you will have access to the nutritional products that will help you along the way (at a substantial discount) and so that you too can use it as a means to make some extra cash.  You don’t have to be a fitness instructor to be a Beachbody Coach, you just have to believe in the products you use and share them with others.  If you discover that you have a burning desire to teach your own fitness classes then I can help get you going on that as well but I want to clarify that you don’t have to do that.  So this is the vision: #1 we all work together to get fit and to bring fitness to those around us.  #2 as an added bonus we all have the opportunity to start a home business that requires no inventory but that has the potential be hugely profitable.  All of us working together have the potential to be far more effective, and profitable, than any one of us working alone.

Be ready to tackle your New Year’s fitness resolutions.  Sign up to be a Beachbody Coach now, it’s free until December 31st!  If you have any questions or would like to talk to me personally about being a Beachbody Coach, taking PiYo Classes, or your wedding photography please feel to call or email using the Contact Form at the top of the page.  I look forward to hearing from you!

-DeAnna Dimmitt

Dry Heat Photography

One final thought -  I have photographed thousands of brides; all kinds of women from all walks of life.  There is one quality that is universally appealing and attractive on everyone and that shines through in the photographs more than anything else : confidence.

Is your Shot List killing your wedding?

19 September 2010

This is a delicate topic but one that I’ve been contemplating quite a bit over the summer.  I want to preface by saying that it is not my intention to upset or offend anyone but, as is often the case, I feel compelled to go wandering into potentially controversial and uncharted territory.  It’s in my nature I guess, I call it like I see it, and then I write about it on my blog and hope for the best.

So maybe the real question is why did you select the photographer you hired? Was it because you trusted them?  Was it because the quality of their work spoke to you?  Was it because you had faith in their ability to “see” and the technical know how to execute?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions then my next question is why in the world did you hire that person?!?! If you answered “yes” to all of the above then why do you feel the need to micro manage?

Now before everyone gets all up in arms saying “but how do I make sure my photographer knows what photos are important to me?” Let me say that by all means, please make it clear who the key players are and what friends and family members you want to be included. This is not a discussion about family portraits. What I’m talking about is giving an artist a list of fabricated moments and expecting them to produce an organic product as if these items on a list, e.g., “mom fixing bride’s veil” and “bride pinning boutonniere on her father” somehow, in and of themselves, have meaning.  The truth is what gives meaning to these moments is the event itself and the spontaneity with which these little bits of magic occur.  You can’t fabricate life and you can’t fabricate love, which is what I assume you hired a photographer to capture for you, so why then would you attempt to quantify both with a list?  All of our lives are an ongoing process, your wedding is a process and your photographer is there both to facilitate and observe, to see and to react, to have their finger on the pulse of the moment – the real moment, not the one on the list.

Do you see where this is going?  Let’s just say that, hypothetically, you’ve given your photographer an impossibly long list of contrived “special moments”, how do you expect them to prioritize? Should they spend the whole day creating the shots on the list or should they spend the whole day paying attention to what is actually occurring?  Do you want your photos to reflect the real wedding or the staged wedding?  Most importantly, do you want to spend the day having a real wedding or a staged wedding?  Spending the day performing items on a list just so the photographer can get shots that were appropriate in 1974 is probably not what you had in mind right?  Right?

So what to do then? How do you effectively convey your priorities to your photographer without stifling their ability to do the job you hired them to do?  Well first of all, you refer back to the questions in the 2nd paragraph and you hire that person.  Once you’ve commissioned the photographer whom you feel is the most qualified, you have meetings and conversations with them, you get to know them and allow yourself to be known by them.  Whoa! Sounds scary right? But it’s not, really.  Think about it, who would understand you better, an intuitive friend or a stranger with a list?  Lastly, you plan the day around your photographic priorities.   If you want more getting ready photos then plan the time for it, if you want lots and lots of posed family photos then plan it that way, if photos of you and the groom together are the most important thing then plan with the photographer to make this aspect a key point in the day.  There’s no right or wrong set of priorities.  It IS your wedding after all and it should be how you want it to be but just be sure that your actions reflect your intentions.   If you want the organic and real deal then have faith in the process and the magic moments will happen of their own accord.

-DeAnna Dimmitt

Dry Heat Photography

Why it’s important, a true story.

6 September 2010

I’ve been photographing weddings a long time; eleven years to be exact.  Given that I’m currently 34, eleven years is a considerable time frame.  Photography is the only career I’ve ever pursued.  It’s all I know how to do.  I’ve spent ample time observing the observations of others.  People ask me things like “how can you stand to shoot weddings?” and it’s not a well hidden secret that some think brides are caught up in the vanity of aesthetics or that photographers are more interested in showboating their chops than in capturing anything “real”.   Yeah yeah, I know, all of it.

For years I would work like a machine, executing each shot of each event with precision and clarity.  Also like a machine I was calm, cool, and collected, always.  Sharing in my client’s emotions was not allowed.  I was there to work, not to have feelings.  Furthermore, I frequently suspected that the emotions being displayed by others were more theatrical than sincere.   This was not entirely a bad thing but I think being emotionally detached from the event showed in my otherwise spot on work.  In addition, I was not really committed to continuing down the path of photographing weddings.  Then one day about 5 or 6 years ago I was photographing a small wedding at a beautiful resort and something different happened.   I’ll come back to that.

So often life changing events sneak up on us and we don’t see them coming.  We don’t know that we may be enjoying the last moments of normality, peace, contentedness or a loved one’s presence.  We don’t always know that this time may be the last time.  The event horizon doesn’t always have warning signs.  We aren’t aware of the value in a moment until it’s over.

I was photographing a wedding.  The bride’s dad was terminally ill.  No one actually said that but it didn’t need saying.  He could barely walk and his breathing was laborious.  I shot all the photos that involved her dad in the lobby of the hotel because he could not walk outside.  Everything else about the wedding was normal; beautiful bride, great location, all was as it should be.  During the reception they had all the normal events; toast, cake cutting, first dance but during the father/daughter dance something happened that changed all of us who were there.  The bride was dancing with her father, I forget the song but it doesn’t matter.  The bride starts to cry, which is typical and then she starts to really cry, not typical.  I’m watching and shooting and she is weeping, clinging to her father.  I look around and see other people in the room having the same reaction and it hits me; she is saying goodbye to him.  She sees that this is the moment, the moment we all say we wish we had after it’s too late.  She sees it and she knows it and she’s having it right then, right in front of me.   As the song continues the bride’s mom comes up and joins them followed by the rest of the family.  All of them weeping, all of them embracing each other.  Now even a machine like me can’t hide the fact that I’m getting caught up in the moment and I too am getting emotional.   All of a sudden I realize why I’m there.   Maybe they (and I) didn’t foresee it when they came in to sign a contract and put down a deposit but they were entrusting me to record this moment for them.   So, tears running down my face or not, this was no time to drop the ball, to look away or to grab for a kleenex.  A family was saying goodbye to their father and husband and I was there to record it for them.  I must have shot 200 photos in about 3 minutes.  It seemed like eternity.   We were all there together, aware of what was unfolding, and seeing this time as the last of it’s kind.  I think those photos were probably the last ones they had of themselves all together and before the past became the future.  We were all there, in the present.

I don’t want to mention names or locations as this story is obviously very personal but I would like to thank this family for giving me a reason to see real value in what I do and for helping me to embrace wedding photography as a life long passion.

-DeAnna Dimmitt

Dry Heat Photography

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