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Wow, you guys. We’re more than halfway through January. Of 2020. How are we not still in 2019 right now?! I don’t know how the days flying by continues to shock me every year, but for some reason, it still does.

I’m not going to lie—2019 was one hell of a year. While there was a lot of bad in it, I can’t deny that it encouraged some forced growth. Some of it was “growth” I hoped I wouldn’t have to make, but regardless, I suppose any growth from tough times is still a silver lining.

In an effort to have a little start-of-year fun (I mean, any time in January still counts as the start of the year, right? Right? I’m going to pretend you’re all agreeing with me here), I figured I would answer some questions you’ve asked about me and my business! Some of these are commonly-asked questions I’ve gotten over the years, and some are from my Instagram story a couple months back—thank you if you contributed to that, by the way! If you’re ready to get into it, then keep on scrolling…

Q: I know you just launched; so are you a brand new photographer?

A: Even though Lace + Fern just launched, I’ve actually been doing this for over a decade! Whoa, right? Just like any photographer (or artist in general), my tastes, styles, and business model have shifted and grown over the last 12 years. If you’ve worked with me before, you’ll probably notice that everything is different—well, except for me; I’m still here, hopefully that’s a good thing. I’ll try to condense this as much as possible: Shortly after I got married in 2016, I had the strong urge to revamp everything I was doing. I decided to take an indefinite hiatus so I could learn what it was that I wanted and how to achieve it. With that came a name change, a portfolio change, pricing/offerings change, website change… no joke, everything changed! So in that sense, I took the scary step of starting over from the ground up. Truthfully? I couldn’t be happier. Stagnation sucks.

Q: You’ve been planning to relaunch for YEARS! Why did it take so long?

A: Believe me, I know! It drove me crazy, too. Unless you run your own business, there’s no way to know what goes into getting everything ready to launch. What a client physically sees (taking photos and collecting payments) is just the tip of the iceberg! I could go on and on about all that behind-the-scenes stuff, but honestly, it’s a total snooze-fest if you’re not interested in it! If I had to narrow it down, there have been two main hindrances. Number one: Korey and I have built just about everything ourselves. From physical things (like renovating our office suite and building furniture for it) to digital things (like building the website, cohesive graphic design, price sheets, accounting work, and researching various subscriptions), we’re the minds behind all of it! In fact, the only things we haven’t built ourselves are the physical photo products (and we’re happy to leave that in the hands of our trusted specialists!) Number two: CONTRACTS! Oh my good lord, the contracts. Since photography work is incredibly custom, emotionally valuable, and can’t be returned or resold to someone else, bulletproof contracts are a must for both the protection of both our clients and ourselves! I’m a pretty laidback person, but when it comes to things like contracts, I’m an absolute perfectionist and like to consider every possibility (you’d truly be amazed and disgusted by some of the horror stories that have happened to other photographers). Drafting up contracts isn’t my favorite thing, but it’s possibly the most important! There’s one thing you can be certain of, though—this delay actually benefits you, my existing and new clients, because I didn’t want to sacrifice your client experience just to get money flowing a little sooner.

Q: What age did you start taking photos, and what age were you doing it professionally?

That’s a tough one, only because I don’t remember how old I was when I first picked up a camera! Story of every photographer’s life, right? According to the end-leaf of a book I illustrated for a 4th grade assignment, I had already decided I wanted a career as a photographer. I had parents that both loved to take photos; I grew up using film cameras on a regular basis, from cheap disposables to SLRs (I even photographed a wedding in 2009 using my mom’s Minolta film camera that’s probably older than I am). I’d say I started actively working toward the “photographer” goal in 2006, the start of my senior year, when a few friends asked me to take their senior photos. My first semester of college in 2007, my mom gifted me my first dSLR, and the rest is pretty much history. Generally, I say the year my business started professionally was 2008, which is the first year I started booking clients I didn’t previously know and the first year I booked a wedding.

Q: What made you decide to take the plunge and make this your full-time career?

A: This is actually my second go-around doing this full-time! I was full-time for one year (2013-2014) right after I’d graduated with my degree. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done enough business-related research and was pricing myself wildly below a livable wage, so I took on other jobs with regular paychecks to supplement what I was making. To make a long story short, I let my “side” jobs take over my time and mental energy, and they sadly started being my “main” jobs. That’s the overarching reason why my photography relaunch suffered for years. I finally left my job as an admin professional after 4 years in May, and that’s when Korey and I decided that it was time to attempt photography full-time again! It’s been a humbling experience for a lot of reasons—I could probably make a full blog post on it!

Q: Why the name “Lace + Fern”?

A: My previous iteration was Jill Elizabeth Photography, and I decided to change my name for a couple of reasons. The reason I tell people most often is that I just got sick of the redundancy of saying my own name over and over (which is true). Why does that matter? Plenty of photographers use their own names in their businesses. Honestly, I don’t know why; I love my name, but I guess using it as the identifier of my business just wasn’t for me. However, the biggest and most important reason is that I knew my style was changing, and I wanted a name that would reflect that style through just words, where people could start to visualize my work before they saw it. What do you think of when you see the words Lace + Fern? For me, I saw sunlit rays of light streaming through a lush forest glittering with dew drops; a place that combined elegance and a wild spirit. My goal is to craft an experience where my clients feel like the best version of themselves, where they can feel free, uninhibited, and happy!

Q: What is one thing you struggle with in your business?

A: Oh, this one is easy—the epic struggle of most artists: I can’t stand all of the boring (but wildly important) behind-the-scenes things that are required to run my business smoothly. Give me the artistic stuff all day, girl! Sessions? A total party! Editing? My fave! Design work? Give it here! But when it comes to contracts, budgets/accounting, and business analysis, I could tear my hair out. It’s something I’m continually working on getting better with!

Q: What photoshoots are your favorite?

A: My favorite photoshoots actually depend more on the people than the specific type of photoshoot. I have a couple “ideal” aspects I hope for: 1. Clients that are happy and willing to be themselves: my shooting style isn’t stiff or overly posed, so I love when clients are willing to laugh, loosen up, and be themselves, especially when things don’t go as planned. If you can still laugh after slipping in mud or getting caught in an unexpected rain storm, then we’re going to have a great session together! 2. Being on-board with style: I don’t expect every client to look like they’ve stepped out of Pinterest… but man, it definitely doesn’t hurt! Having a wardrobe that’s flattering and complements the location (and whoever you’re with) never hurts when it comes to elevating your session. This is another thing I’ll write a full blog post on at some point 3. Shooting in the right place at the right time of day: There’s nothing better than having a session in a beautiful location that’s then amplified by utilizing the best light. Every time of day has its benefits depending on the session and location; being on the same page about what will work best for a session is always a dream (even if it does mean waking up at 5am to catch the sunrise during fall in Alaska). If I can nail all of my checkboxes in one session, then it doesn’t matter what type it is.

Q: What advice to you have for new photographers just starting out?

A: Don’t undervalue yourself (seriously, your time and talent is valuable!); never stop educating and improving yourself; and above all, my god, be kind in your community! Hell, just be kind in general! If you want others to value you and your business, you won’t get it by being catty or trying to step on others. Oh, and shoot in RAW (and then save those RAW files)! Seriously, do it; you won’t regret it and you’ll be able to re-edit all of your favorite photos if and when you decide to revamp your entire portfolio! As a matter of fact, this is getting jotted down as a future blog post, too!

Q: You ever twerk to a Fiona Apple song? …I have.

A: Hahaha! I couldn’t resist including this one (thank you to the person who submitted this on Instagram… you know who you are!) What better way to end a blog post? I’m sad to say I’ve never twerked to a Fiona Apple song… but I mean, 2020 just started and I’m not dead yet!

via GIPHY

Alright, guys, that’s all I’ve got for this post! What other questions do you have for me? Is there anything you’d like me to elaborate on further? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll save it for my next Q&A post!

Hope your weekends are fabulous!

-Jill

COMMENTS

Question: how far will you travel for your work? Are you Anchorage/Wasilla area only? Will you consider out of state sessions? if so what would you require from the customer for out of state travel?

jill@laceandfern.com

Great question, and something I’ll add to my FAQ page!

Though I’m based in Anchorage, travel is included for a single session location as far north as Wasilla or as far south as Girdwood. Travel beyond that, whether in-state or out of state, requires a custom quote (depending on mileage or airfare required, if it’s something I have to stay one or more nights at a hotel, etc).

As of right now, I don’t currently offer travel out of the country but it’s something I plan to offer for the future!

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