What is your DWF Username? Cheryl Jon

What is your Full Name? Cheryl Jones

What is your business Location? Seattle, WA

What is your website URL? http://www.boudoirphotographyseattle.com

What’s your facebook page URL? http://facebook.com/belleboudoir

How many years have you been in business? 6 years.  2012 will be my 7th year – and despite what they say about a 7 year itch I still wake up each morning inspired by what I do and the possibilities of the future.

Was there life before photography or has this been a lifelong passion for you? I grew up in a very art-centric household.  My father was an avid collector, and immersed me in art shows from a very young age.  In college I studied classical art, spending a portion of my college days in Florence and Paris studying Renaissance and Impressionism.  One day I picked up a camera to explore a new artistic medium – and I was hooked.

How did you become a professional photographer? The cliché of being a poor starving artist may be a badge of honor, but it can’t buy you new photography equipment!  I began shooting professionally as a way to purchase equipment and pay for travel while exploring the photographic medium.  While  shooting weddings, I was asked to shoot some boudoir portraits for brides. This where I had found my place in the photography world!   I find that I am inspired by the process of capturing images that open women’s eyes to the beautiful and unique individuals they are.

What’s been your biggest business challenge? How have you faced that challenge? Honestly – accounting and money management was my biggest challenge.  Though initially hesitant that I would, I have come to truly enjoy most business processes like executing marketing campaigns, writing business plans, and planning budgets. Accounting, with it’s tax filing deadlines and data entry, was a perpetual drain on my soul.  Now, after years of running a photography business full-time, I can tell you that money may not buy you happiness – but paying an accountant does get you one step closer.

What’s the most effective way you’ve found to market your studio? I could answer by simply mentioning a particular advertising medium that works well right now (such as Facebook advertising) but the truth is that marketing is an evolving process and each year my most effective campaign is usually different then the previous one. Especially with Internet marketing — things change very quickly each year! What can be said though is that the most successful marketing for my studio is that which spreads our message in at least 3 places.  People rarely take action when they first hear about you, but if we can get the Belle Boudoir brand in front of their eyes (or ears) at least 3 times in as many places, we have a good customer conversion rate. For example, I participate in a wedding show each year and I have an unbelieveable amount of women who look at my logo and say “I’ve heard of you guys!”

If we needed a photographer today why would we book you? What makes you unique? I approach boudoir sessions with the intent to not only capture sexy images, but capture each woman’s loveable quirks and personality too. I have a calming nature to make the session relaxing while also keeping the session light and fun.

What is the one item used in your shooting or editing workflow you can’t live without? What makes it indispensible? Lightroom for sure!  Like the photographers of the past who used film and performed their magic in the back of a darkroom, I feel that my “digital darkroom” (Lightroom) is important to the overall experience I provide to clients.  I don’t like to outsource my post production, and with the number of sessions we do it’s important to have a tool that truly makes the process efficient.

What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer? First, and foremost, decide what path you want to take as a photographer.  Do you want to be a photographer for an established studio, or a full-time business owner? If the later, write a business plan.  Take some business classes at your local college.  Hire someone for a mentoring session.   Photography is a service oriented business, which means we’re not selling a product, we’re selling an experience.  Formulate what experience you want to sell to potential clients and document it in a business plan.  Lastly, learn to budget.  If you want to own a successful, sustainable photography business that yields dividends year after year you must plan yearly budgets and execute purchasing decisions without the emotional attachment that we as consumers in a very consumer-oriented society often make.  The gist of my advice is that if you want to run a photography business you should be, in this order, an (1) excellent customer service rep, (2) have good business sense/practices, and (3) a photographer.

What has the DWF done for your business? For me, the greatest feature of DWF is the ability to search its forums.  I often search for products, album companies, vendors, etc.  Many great solutions in my studio are the direct result of a DWF search.

How do you use the DWF? DWF is a replacement for the watercooler at a conventional workplace.  Gossip, critiques, helpful advice, and the occassional reality check.  I find I mostly use it as a targeted search, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading some of the extended threads of constructive (and sometimes destructive) critiques.

Optional, but come on, be a sport: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? Have you ever noticed that super heroes cultivate super villians?  I think I’d be afraid to have a superpower for the complimentary evil I’d bring into the world as a result…

You can find critiques, helpful advice and information on products, services and vendors and an occasional reality check on the DWF too! Try a free trial on us: http://bit.ly/tuoDPx.


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