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The rumors are true…

The rumors are true…

Rumor #1: It’s true! Our  IN-CAMERA Workshops are coming back for the Spring! Save the date: May 3rd, 4th and 5th! (yes, this is a date change since we first announced)  This is the chance to come to our home in Nashville, TN, and you can choose to spend up to...
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Rumor #1:

It’s true! Our  IN-CAMERA Workshops are coming back for the Spring!

Save the date: May 3rd, 4th and 5th! (yes, this is a date change since we first announced)

 This is the chance to come to our home in Nashville, TN, and you can choose to spend up to three days with us shooting, lighting, and getting your business on :) These are some of the most fun times we have with photographers – hanging out, eating together, learning, and of course, shooting together!

 Rumor #2

We will be offering an awesome early bird special for those of you on our newsletter list because YOU are important to us!

 

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Rumor #3

It’s true, the workshops will sell out fast!

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Last fall these workshop SOLD OUT in less than 24 hours to our newsletter list, so if you know you want to be there, then be prepared as we will launch registration NEXT WEEK!

Get ready. We can’t wait!

 

PS. Yes, there will be payment plans available!

Does “Diffusion” Actually Soften Light?

Does “Diffusion” Actually Soften Light?

“Soft light is a thing of beauty in photography – finding it is the real trick.” -Zach Gray There is some information in the photography world that says diffusion can make your flash images look better by “softening” the light. Today we...
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“Soft light is a thing of beauty in photography – finding it is the real trick.”

-Zach Gray

There is some information in the photography world that says diffusion can make your flash images look better by “softening” the light. Today we are going to explore this and see if it is true or false.

When we first starting shooting, the first thing we bought was a Canon 580ex speedlight so we could light our subjects at dark receptions. The issue with that light was if we pointed it directly at our subject, or even moved it off-camera and pointed it at our subject, we would get lots of contrast and “hard” lighting on our subjects. Hard lighting is caused by having a small light source and the result is having “specular highlights” or bright spots right next to dark spots that create lots of contrast.

Light - Hard Light

You can see when you use a small light source like the one used above, that you get a very defined line from highlight to shadow, and the skin can look worse than it really is. There are some hot spots on the right side of the frame and you can see that “specularity” we mention earlier.  This lighting is not right or wrong, but it definitely is not forgiving when not used just right.

Does Diffusion Really Solve this Problem and make light softer? 

hard light

Early on, we got sold on this idea that if you added “diffusion” (or something that evened out the light coming from our flash), we could then get soft light. The myth here is that there is only a partial truth in that. The diffusion itself does not actually create soft light. Diffusion only evens out the light.  It’s the size of the light-source (it getting bigger and bigger) that actually does the softening.

Some diffusers do make your light slightly bigger (takes the light source from 1.5″x3″ and making it 4″ inches in diameter, for example), however, this will not make much difference at all in the softness of light.

Defining Soft Light: 

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  (Light from flash image above was softened with a 24×32 soft box at 3 feet away)

Soft light (light that appears to “wrap” around your subject) has a painted-on effect and diffused shadows. Soft light is created when you have a large light source in comparison to your subject. Light is NOT softened when you shoot a small light through diffusion, but rather when the you use a large even light source. Soft light looks great on anyone and we love shooting our clients in this type of light (whether it’s created by a strobe or natural light outside).

The problem with the way lighting modifiers like the Speedlight ones above are sold, is that they tell you that they “diffuse” light, and because you added this diffusion, the light is now “soft.” But the truth is, they only even out the TINY light source you are using, and while that does make the light softer by making it slightly larger (and more even), it does not make the light soft enough for a light-wrapping portrait (or much else). If you shoot mouse photography, then that might be a great way to get soft light on your subject, but for people, you need a light source with a little more size to get truly soft light.

If you want light that wraps around your subject, then you need a light the same size as whatever you are shooting. Once you have that larger light source, if you move that light back from your subject a few feet, the light gets harsher (because it gets smaller in comparison to your subject), and then needs to get even larger!

The Real Solution for Creating Soft Light Portraits: 

The real way to solve the problem of using difficult to work with harsh light that comes out of a bare-bulb speedlight or strobe, is to simply increase the size of that light as much as we practically can. If you take a speedlight (that is about 2×3 inches in terms of the size of the light), and make it 2.5 x 3.5 inches by adding a “diffuser” like the ones shown above, then you will barely even notice the difference in the quality of light coming out. But if you can increase the size (and evenness) of that light by 10, 15 or 20 times, then you can start taking ultra-soft lit portraits that require less guess-work and look stunningly beautiful!

For a real world example, watch the video below from our IN-CAMERA: Natural Light Photography System video workshop to see exactly what we mean.

 

 

2 great light modifiers that change harsh light into soft light that we recommend are:

For Speedlights – Westcott Rapid Box 26 inch (this will make your speedlight look AMAZING with even, large light for great portraits! Click HERE to see a live demo of this modifier).

For Strobes – Westcott 24×32 Soft Box (this is one we have used for years and is the one used in the video above, and in MOST of our flash images you have seen over the years. As mentioned, the rule of thumb when lighting a subject with soft light is the light source should technically be the size of the subject being lit. However, as a portrait or even wedding photographer, it can be difficult and very cumbersome to lug around a huge softbox. This softbox here gives us a great balance between beautiful, soft light and ease of use).

Hope that helps! Now go off and take some beautiful soft lit shots of your clients!

3 Key Tips for Building Social Media Engagement

3 Key Tips for Building Social Media Engagement

“The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.” -Jay Baer   Social media is a great supplementary tool for your marketing plan in your business. It should never be the first place you look to build your brand, as you should...
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“The goal of social media is to turn customers into a volunteer marketing army.”

-Jay Baer

 spreading-the-word-socially-1 (1)

Social media is a great supplementary tool for your marketing plan in your business. It should never be the first place you look to build your brand, as you should always focus on building personal relationships first. Even though social media marketing is not THE most important part of your business, it does have an integral role, and today we want to share 3 key tips to get people engage with your more!

 

Key #1 – Talk about things that are interesting

Screenshot 2015-01-15 12.20.06

 

(This Instagram got more attention because my, Zach, audience, photographers, like the unique use of lighting and posing, and reacted strongly to it… not to mention the adorable kid in the shot ;)

Realize that unless you are a celebrity, that no one really cares what you ate for breakfast, and definitely don’t want to see a picture of it on Twitter. Think about your audience and WHO you are trying to speak to, and then create content that THEY care about. (Click to Tweet this out!)

Examples: 

If you are a wedding photographer, then you can use Facebook to create a private group just for your brides where they can all connect, talk about their recent weddings and planning, and you can give ideas to them as well because you have a ton of experience with weddings. They will have the things Seth Godin talks about in his book Tribes (a tribe is a community with something in common, a way to talk to each other, and a way to talk with you). Having a place where your tribe can engage with each other is powerful and keeps you top of mind with your clients! You could also then use Instagram to re-enforce the community and post images from their weddings, using a hashtag that you create just for your clients, and continue to energize the base.

(Side note: Many of us can focus too hard on finding new clients, when what we might need to do is focus on our base – on the clients we have already won over, and give them a reason to go out and sell us to their friends).

Key #2 – Share helpful  content

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 (The content here is helpful, and that is why engagement was high on this image)

Another area to use social media is to help others with useful information. That can be anything from giving simple information out that someone is asking for, giving something away, or even curating(pointing to other people’s) content that helps your audience get what they want.

Examples: 

If you’re a newborn photographer who connects socially with your moms on Facebook (or your blog), then write and share content about tips for new moms, be engaged with the personal issues they are dealing with like their kids not sleeping or eating well, and use your platform as a resource to help them be better parents. Some of the top blogs and social media platforms out there are doing this as a niche. They just create relevant HELPFUL content that gets their audience from where they are to where they want to go.

If your goal is to connect with wedding planners on Twitter, then re-Tweet their content (they care about being heard and seen and that is helpful), Tweet out links to planning blogs and other planning content that is relevant and helpful to them, and engage with them personally by commenting back on things that matter to them.

 

Key 3 – Talk about things that are funny

 (This image was ironic and funny, and that is why the engagement was higher than my, Jody, usual Instagram posts).

People love things that lighten their day, and sharing things that are funny is the 3rd thing we recommend talking about on social media (and we recommend NOT talking about much else). The goal here is to get them to engage with you and your social media accounts, and when you do that, you are on their mind, and when you are on their mind, they recommend you for gigs.

Examples: 

If you are connecting with brides on Instagram, then follow a few funny Instagram users who talk about newly-wed bliss, and then re-gram them to your audience.

If you use Facebook to engage with your senior girls, then re-post funny content that is interesting to their age group.

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The goal of social media in your marketing is not just to create a Twitter and Facebook page and start making noise. It’s about being intention. The goal should be to reach your ideal audience with funny, helpful, and interesting content that keeps them focused on your brand.

Make sure to follow us on our Instagrams & Facebook!

@ZachGray

@JodyGray

@ItstheGrayFamily (this is where we keep our family updates)

Facebook.com/ZachandJody

 

Top Survival Tips for Mom-tographers | Part II of the Mom Series

Top Survival Tips for Mom-tographers | Part II of the Mom Series

In my previous post, I (Jody) shared the adjustment we went through adding our son Jaxon to our family and about my struggle with how business fit in with my new responsibilities as a mom. For today’s blog I want to share with you practical tips that not only...
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In my previous post, I (Jody) shared the adjustment we went through adding our son Jaxon to our family and about my struggle with how business fit in with my new responsibilities as a mom.

For today’s blog I want to share with you practical tips that not only myself, but other moms in the industry have put in place to avoid meltdowns and going crazy. :) I know and respect these women and hope you enjoy learning from the diverse group we have below.

Without any further ado, I first introduce to you…

Leeann Marie
of
Leeann Marie Collective

What you need to know about Leeann:
We first met Leeann when we were a part of a tour back in 2012 and she was a fellow speaker.  She was sharing on studio workflow management and how to get organized and become efficient so you can spend more time doing what you love. Her efficiency blew me away, and when I found out she was having a kid I was SUPER curious to know how she was going to make the adjustments to having a child in her life.

Leeann is sweet and totally fun and generous and has recently started Baby Plus Business – a resource and community to help other moms who walk the fine line of being a mom and business owner. Make sure to follow her and you’ll soon get more information! (Heads up, if you’re going to WPPI, make sure to read below where you can see and learn from her!).

(image by AnnLouisePhotography.com)

How long have you been in business:
6 years

How long have you been a mom:
9 months to my daughter, Joy

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
I no longer have large dedicated chunks of time to focus on business. I have to work in smaller time periods of time. I also don’t get to work out as much and that makes me sad.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Choose each day to focus your “non-baby” time in a very specific manner. Some days I choose “CLEANING”, other days I choose “EMAILS AND ALBUMS”. If you can break up your days to be more dedicated, you can knock things off of your to-do list easier.

#2. Work quickly & efficiently when you have small periods of time. I keep different lists in my iPhone. One is “Groceries”. One is “Business”. One is “Personal”. If you keep lists and categorize them, each day you’ll know exactly all of the random things you need to knock out!

#3. Try and still maintain family time. It’s easy to work in the evening when the kids are asleep, but don’t forget about how important marriage and relaxation are to your overall family health.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Remember that tomorrow is a new day! Be thankful for each day – good or bad. You love your family, and you love your business and you are blessed to have both!

The best place for people to follow you:
Instagram: @LeeannMarieG & @BabyplusBusiness

See Leeann in Vegas!
Are you going to WPPI??  If so, you will want to attend her masterclass, “Balancing Baby and Business.”
Wednesday, March 4 from 8am-10am
Sign up for Leeann’s class HERE.

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Evin Krehbiel
of
Evin Photography

View More: http://zachplusjody.pass.us/evinphotography

(image by Jody Gray)

 What you need to know about Evin:
Evin and I go way back. And when I say, “Way back” I mean, I knew Evin before Zach and Jody Gray were ever ZachandJody.com. Evin was actually one of those gracious photographers who let us take her out and she opened her business to us and gave us advice and insight on how to start and run a wedding photography business. Over the years, Evin has become a dear friend of mine (she even shot our birth photos!) and it has been really cool to see how she has adjusted her business around each new precious addition she has added to her family. This lady is a gem and if you ever have the chance to hang out with her, you will be uplifted and encouraged.

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(image by KristineNeeley.com)

How long have you been in business:
9 years, full time – 6 years. The day I found out I was pregnant was the last day of my day job!

How long have you been a mom:
6 years to my son Cohen (6), daughter Kinzie (3.5), and son Leyton (1.5)

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
It was hard at first trying to balance my “mom brain” and my “work brain”. My biggest adjustment was learning how to separate the two. When they intersect is when I lose patience and become overwhelmed.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Have a very organized online calendar (iCal) shared with your spouse. My husband also works for himself (real estate). We share a calendar and have different categories color-coded (kids are orange, work is purple, spouse is green, blue is personal, etc.). Having a shared calendar helps keep things from overlapping.

#2. Get a studio coordinator. It’s our job to run a business that serves our clients. In order to serve them, my business has to be able to respond quickly. As a mom, I knew I wasn’t always available as much as I wanted to be during work hours so I realized I needed help. My studio coordinator helps with inquiries, wedding albums, disc of images, image back up, getting vendors images, etc. So helpful!

#3. Take advantage of a great management software system (I use ShootQ). This helps keep my tasks and products organized so everyone is on the same page.

#4. Hire a house cleaner. To some, this may seem like a frivolous expense, but believe me, it’s not. Someone comes to our home every other week (it’s less than $100/2 weeks) and it is 100% worth it for my sanity, my marriage and for my family. When I’m done with work, it’s one less thing I have to do and now I’m able to be with my kids and my husband. Shoot an extra photo session here and there to cover the cost! You get a clean home and the photo session is another opportunity to market your business.

#5. I don’t list my phone number on my website, facebook or email. When clients do call me I’m usually in the car with kids or they are in the room being their rambunctious selves. I say in my voicemail, “The best way to reach me is by email or text, so we can keep track of it and get back to you quickly.” That way I can serve my clients in the best way.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Just because no other friend you know has successfully balanced being a mom and a business owner, doesn’t mean you can’t. When I had my third son, Leyton, I was thinking to myself, “I don’t have any other friends who have 3 kids and not just work but own their own business, maybe it can’t be done.” The Lord firmly spoke to me saying, “I have given this to you, it can be done, and I ‘m going to show you how to do it. I have you in this for a reason. I have a purpose and a plan.” You can do it!

The best place for people to follow you:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/EvinPhotography
INSTAGRAM: @EvinPhotography

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 Ashley Poisella
of
Ashley Therese Photography

AshleyBioPhoto

What you need to know about Ashley:
I cannot even remember how long we have known Ashely and her fabulous, supportive husband Chris. We have known them for quite a few years and they even brought us out to NYC to host our workshops out there. These two are so genuine, it has been a joy to see Ashley’s business take off and how she has become a voice of authority and continues to give back to the photo community. We were so thrilled when we heard that they were adding to their family, and I value Ashley’s heart and insight, which is why she is sharing with you here!

mommy ashley

(image by AliciaSturdy.com)

How long have you been in business:
4 years

How long have you been a mom:
10 months to my son, Greyson

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
Time management! My days are filled to the brim with a fluctuating baby schedule and work demands, and figuring out a new routine has been a huge change and challenge.

A few months ago someone said I was “Supermom” when I told them I was a full time stay at home mom and a full time business owner. But the truth is I don’t want to be Super Mom. I don’t want to be the kind of super mom that strives for perfection and doing it all, but nothing with intention. I don’t want to be a Super Mom because I have way too many things juggling in the air and I am barely getting by with keeping things going. I don’t want to glorify “busy.”

At the end of the day, I want to be an AWESOME mom, the BEST mom to Greyson I can be. I want to be a GREAT business owner and photographer, but not at the sacrifice of my family or to the level of service to my clients. I want to be present and intentional in whatever I am doing. It has definitely been a big adjustment to find a new normal and daily balance by managing my time more wisely.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Ask for Help | This one was a game changer for me. I thought I could or should be Super Mom – that I could be both a full time stay at home mom and be a full time business owner working from home at the same time. I would work when Greyson napped and put my work aside and just soaked in every second of being with him when he was awake. I would have dinner on the table when my husband got home from work and the house would always be tidy. You know, like June Clever. I would find the perfect balance. Needless to say, I quickly found that on my own, this was impossible. Greyson didn’t and doesn’t sleep for more then an hour at a time which barely gives me time to make a dent in my email inbox let alone actually check things off my to do list. I wanted to do it all but just couldn’t. I felt like I was being pulled 20 different directions in which I couldn’t give 100% to any. So I asked for help. We hired a babysitter to watch Greyson at the house so I can be in my office with the door shut a few mornings a week with no distractions. And boy what a difference it has made. I have been so much more productive when in my office and can truly enjoy down time with Greyson, not think about all I have on my To Do list. It has freed up my schedule more and has provided a new routine that helps me do all I need to. Now I can truly enjoy watching Greyson play with his toes for an extra hour without the distraction of thinking about ALL I have do get done or constantly multi tasking. It has allowed me to be more intentional and present. If you need help, ask for it. It’s not an admission of not being a good mom or being inadequate. It’s recognizing that you are one person and can’t do it all. Whether its asking your in laws to watch the kids for a few hours or asking your husband to pick up something for dinner so you don’t have to cook, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

#2. Outsource More | For me this meant outsourcing more of my business tasks that I didn’t need (or want) to have my hand in (initial editing, album designs, etc). It also meant getting help with some of the household chores I was juggling. Every few weeks Peapod delivers some basic groceries like laundry detergent and paper towels. In addition, we also have someone come clean our house every few weeks. Outsourcing and hiring services has freed me up to focus on running my business more efficiently and spending more quality time with my son. It has allowed me to focus on doing the things I want to do.

#3. Find a New Routine | Finding a new routine has been crucial for me. It’s important for me to go into each day with a general game plan to optimize my time. From waking up an hour before Greyson wakes up each morning to answer emails, to going to the grocery store in conjunction with nap time, to scheduling client calls when Chris gets home from work and can watch the baby. Having set blocks of time to solely focus on working on the photography business (like when babysitter is at the house) to having designated play time with Greyson and to attend play groups has been so helpful. That being said, not every day is going to go as planned. There may be a nap skipped, a babysitter cancellation, a meeting moved, and messy diapers that require a mid day bath.  So I shift things around and adapt to make sure I am still getting things accomplished and spending quality time with Greyson.

#4. Think Proactively | For my business, for my son, for the day. Learning to constantly think proactively helps me optimize my time and be more prepared for the curveballs each day has in store. Simple things from remembering to pack an extra change of clothes for Greyson so I don’t have to drive all the way home if he has an accident to giving myself a little bit of extra time on a project that I think could take me longer then planned because I have a super busy week. Staying two steps ahead of the game when possible has been key as a mom and a business owner.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Know that you are beautiful, strong, and courageous. You are running a business which is beyond challenging. And you are taking care and nurturing a little life which is one of the hardest roles in the world. But you can do it and do it well. You are more amazing then you know and should be proud of yourself! Be patient with yourself as you figure this “mom and business owner” thing out. Make time for pedicures, take walks and continue to take care of yourself. Oh, and did I say be patient with yourself?

Being a mom is THE most important job you will ever have.Being a mom is THE most important job you will ever have. Yes, it needs to be said twice. Because I know when Greyson was first born I needed to remind myself of that. I was so used to my business being my baby, it was a hard shift trying to figure out a new balance and daily priorities. But at the end of the day, Greyson comes first. He will always come first. No accomplishment, shoot, or money will ever be more important or bring me more joy than that little boy. As life picks up pace and you are juggling all that is on your plate, don’t forget what’s truly important. Be an intentional mom who also happens to be a rockstar business owner. And I encourage you to never forget how special and what a blessing your role as “mom” really is.

The best place for people to follow you:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/AshleyTheresePhotography
INSTAGRAM: @ashlytherese

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Julia Woods
of
Jeffrey & Julia Woods

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What you need to know about Julia:
If there’s anyone I aspire to be like when I grow up, it’s this woman here :) Not only has she KILLED it in business (believe me, she’s brilliant) and has run an extremely profitable studio (while raising four kids), but she has a heart of gold. Her love for the Lord is inspiring, and any time she opens her mouth to share her wisdom about business, family, marriage –  I’m all ears… and you should be too :)

J&J 2014 wedding photo

How long have you been in business:
20 years. Began in the Spring of 1994.

How long have you been a mom:
21 years to my daughter Jaelyn 21 (who is now married!), son Josiah (18) and daughters Jozi (15) and Jenavieve (12).

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
We began the business when our oldest daughter was about 3 months old. It was kind of like having 2 babies at once. I personally choose to home school all of my children as well as have a photography business. The biggest adjustment I had to work through was recognizing that kids constantly change. I would figure out a plan that worked and then something would change and I would have to figure out a new plan. I finally found peace when I took each year one year at a time and decided what worked best for that year (3-6 months when I had a new baby). For many of the years with toddlers it worked to spend my mornings with my kids and help them with schooling and then when lunch was over, I would put them to bed or rest time depending on their age and then a babysitter would arrive about 2 hours later. That allowed me to work each day from about 12:30 – 6 p.m. but they only felt my absence I was busy from about 2:30 – 6 pm. As they got older, I had to have a nanny for the full day so I worked 3 days a week and took 2 off. It was just learning to adjust with them and their needs.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. As above - take each year and assess the age/needs of your child and then look at the possibilities for your business from there.

#2. Create a very planned work schedule. If not, it becomes too easy to get into emails or facebook and waste precious time because it is easier than figuring out what is most important to do. My weeks alternate from one week shooting to the next week planning/selling. (I wear one hat when I shoot and another when I sell – it saved me time and energy to not have to bounce back and forth in the same day. I also got to wear much cuter outfits on planning/selling weeks :) I liked that a lot!). I had administration time, marketing meetings, staff meetings, and so on marked as appointments on the schedule. I have to make time for those things or they just don’t happen. I work 3 full days a week and kept no less than half of one of those days for production – working on images, creating marketing materials, ect.

#3. Take a couple weeks to assess every job you do and how much time you invest in each one of those jobs. Then take that list and divide each role into $10 an hour jobs and $50 an hour jobs. Hire or resource out the $10 an hour jobs and you focus your time and energy on the $50 an hour jobs.

#4. I found my life to be much happier and productive when I started by deciding what I wanted my home life to look like and then I made my studio work around that. For example, I wanted a play day with my kids which I made Wednesday’s. I wanted one day a week to clean, plan my meals, get groceries, do laundry ect. which I made Monday’s. I wanted to cook 3 home cooked meals a week, so I worked at the studio Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. I would cook one meal on the Monday, Wednesday and the weekend, Then I had leftovers ready to heat up on Tuesday, Thursday & Friday after work. I wanted to enjoy the sunset with my husband in the evenings. So, if I needed to take later appointments that was only available 1 night a month except during the busy season, I offered 1 each week for that 3 month time frame. Clients work with my schedule and I am filled up as a person and don’t get burned out.

#5. Get the education you need to be able to charge what you need to charge to work the hours you want to work and make the money you need. Trust me it is possible. For example, it is possible to have an incredible salary working 20 hours a week. Learn what you need to learn to get where you desire to be.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
Time FLIES!!!! I know that isn’t anything you don’t know, but don’t think that your marriage and kids will be there tomorrow. Believe it or not your clients will be there tomorrow but your husband and kids may not. If your heart calls you to stop and read a book to one of your kids – do it! If you recognize you need to take a day and just be a mom – do it. Your kids grow up so fast and a marriage can become stale before you know it. It is never a bad decision to put your family first. You will all appreciate it later. Kids spell love – T.I.M.E

If that one is negative, here is another one. You were specifically chosen to be your children’s mother. You have what it takes to grow, nurture, and develop a world changer. There is nothing more important than who you are to your family! They are worth more than money, praise, or success. (Your kids may not pat you on the back each day – but one day you will know how much your sacrifice meant to them!). You don’t have to choose one or the other, you can have both, but if one has to be sacrificed – make sure it isn’t your family.

The best place for people to follow you:
TWITTER: @JefnJul

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 Jody Gray
of
Zach & Jody

Bio Image Jody Gray (2)

How long have you been in business:
Going on 9 years! (6.5 years full time)

How long have you been a mom:
14 months to our son, Jaxon.

2014CmasCard0001b

(image by DavidMolnar.com)

The biggest adjustment you had adding “mom” to your title and responsibilities during the day:
Not being able to plan on non-interrupted, set working hours.

Top Efficiency Tips:
#1. Set designated hours/days to work and hire a nanny to love on your kid while you get ‘er done (when putting feelers out, set expectations that your nanny needs to be up for doing basic housework – folding laundry, cleaning dishes, etc.  It’s a lifesaver!).

#2. Figure out what you HAVE to do… and outsource or in-source the rest. (Do you need to be spending 25 minutes importing photos into a blog? Do you need to be the one Instagramming and Facebooking and tweeting each blog post that goes up? etc.). Whatever does not need your unique voice or thumbprint, you don’t need to be doing it. It’s worth it to hire someone for $10/hour to do that stuff for you so you can spend that time focusing on getting new clients in the door or BE A MOM!

#3. Set small, daily goals. Personally, I like to accomplish the world and get a TON of stuff done each day. Once I had a kid, I wasn’t able to do that as well (who am I kidding, even without a kid, I still didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to every day :).  Each day I write down the things I would like to get done and I put them in priority from most important to least important. I make sure they are bite-sized tasks. Instead of “Get all WPPI logistics taken care of,” and come the end of the day I feel like a failure because I didn’t get it all done, I list out the small individualized tasks “1. Book flights, 2. Book hotel, 3. Check DVD inventory, 4. Finalize presentation,” etc.

#4. Stop the comparison game.  It is so easy to see what everyone else is doing with their businesses and feel like we have to do the exact same thing. We have to book XX many portrait sessions. We have to have be charging tons and making a buttload just like the leading professionals are. We have to be offering X, Y, and Z to our clients. We have to be doing pre-consultations and post-consultations and five sales sessions, etc. etc… You get the point. We hold ourselves to the standard of others, and oftentimes for no reason.

Awhile back, Zach and I did a coaching session for a mom-tographer who wanted us to talk through our sales sessions and look over her pricing so she could book more clients and make more money. After taking her through the Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals exercise, as we often do with those we coach, she realized that she didn’t NEED to be doing all of that. She didn’t need the income (her hubby made enough) and the whole reason she had her photography was so she could simply have a creative outlet. She was pressuring herself to do all this stuff and make her business be this big thing just because that’s what she thought she was supposed to do because everyone else was doing it.  Granted, not all of you reading this have the luxury of not needing to bring in an income, but maybe a solution to help with your workload is my next tip..

#5. Simplify! Think of things that you can do to simplify and cut back on your workload. Maybe for a time, you just need to be a shoot and burn photographer (*Gasp* Did she just say that??). Maybe it’s good enough to upload a few images to facebook of each session to get some word-of-mouth marketing going, and you don’t have to spend 2 hours writing a blog post and prepping and importing images for it. Think of how you can simply the processes that you have to free up time and make the best use of what you do have.

If you could say one thing to other moms/business owners out there, what would you say?
It’s ok not to be superwoman. I wanted to go out and show everyone how being a mom and business woman could be done, all on my own. I couldn’t do it. And you know what? I’m ok with that :) I have realized there are more important things than trying to be superwoman, and it’s being mom to my sweet son….  (Also, a quick side note for all of you first time moms out there who are looking for some tips to help out with the transition of adding a baby to your life – Feel free to check out a post I did awhile back on the Top 10 Lifesavers for New Parents on my personal blog :).

The best place for people to follow you:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/ZachandJody
INSTAGRAM: @JodyGray
INSTAGRAM: @Itsthegrayfamily (this is where I post all of our kid happenings :)

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Being a mom and running your own business is NOT easy, to say the least. But know that you are not alone!  If you have learned tips along the way, leave them in the comments so we all can learn from each other. Also, don’t forget to follow the newly founded @BabyplusBusiness on Instagram to learn mom & business efficiency tips and to hear what’s next from this ever growing community.

PS. If there is another “mom” topic that you would like covered or have additional questions, also leave those in the comments and maybe there will be a Part III in the Mom series :)

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