Growing My Boudoir Business…

Back in 2007 I launched my wedding photography business. In 2008 I moved in to my first studio in the Heights and launched boudoir sessions as well.

By 2010, I began to accept my superpower. I love, love, love doing boudoir sessions for women because I can help them see themselves as I see them – AMAZING. I can help them grow their confidence and rediscover their beauty. I can help them see something far deeper than the beauty that magazines are always trying to convince us of – so very much more.

Most women opt to do a boudoir session with me involving lots of pretty frilly lace lingerie – but some women don’t want boudoir photographs. They just want incredible photographs that they can give to a loved one, share on Facebook, whatever the case may be — and I’ve always given every client that option. They can wear whatever they want!

For years, I’ve run both a wedding photography business and a boudoir business. They overlap a little bit, but not much. Very few of my wedding clients have booked me for boudoir sessions; a few more of my boudoir clients have booked me for their weddings. It has always worked because weddings are mostly on the weekends and my boudoir sessions are during the week. But focusing my marketing energies on one takes me away from the other one. I can’t do as much for either one as I would like.

I’ve struggled with feeling divided for the past 6 months or so.

This past week after shooting a wedding, it hit me. I love weddings! I love the families coming together to celebrate, the traditions, the unique touches that make it their own, the dancing, the music, the cake. But even as much as I love and adore them, it still is not at that magical level as my Hot Mama Boudoir work and my women’s portrait sessions.

Life is short. I want it to be magical. There is nothing quite like that moment when my client sees herself the way that I see her – the way that the rest of the world sees her. It has taken me a few years to reach this point, but my boudoir business is so busy it is time to cut back on the number of weddings I take. From here on out, I’ll gladly accept weddings of past clients, along with their friends & family — and mine of course too! Beyond that, I’ll consider others based on my availability. Brittany & I have such a great system down already for weddings, we won’t skip a beat.

If I want my boudoir & portrait work to have the reach that I can see it having, I have come to terms with accepting that I can’t do it all. If I focus all of my energy in one direction instead of two? Hang on tight, it is going to be awesome!

I’m going to start sharing more of the contemporary women’s portraiture work (a more accurate name for my work – with or without lingerie involved) that I’ve done over the past few years on my Christine Tremoulet site. Meanwhile, the Hot Mama Boudoir site will live on as I merge the brands together. I’m working those logistics out. And if you have any suggestions you want to share on how to do that, I’m open to hearing them!

2012 is going to KICK ASS. I can’t WAIT to share this with you! Want to do a session with me? I’m going on TOUR!!! Las Vegas, Paris, London, Boston, New York, New Orleans, Tampa, San Francisco, Napa, and more! Check out the dates and meet up with me for your photo shoot!

And because every post is better with a photo, here is one from Kayla’s photo shoot that we did – a perfect example of my Contemporary Women’s Portraiture sessions!

By George, I Think I’ve Got It!

I’ve realized that part of why I don’t blog is my overwhelming need to compartmentalize what I blog. But then how? What? What goes where? What do I want to do with it all? Ugh!!! From there, I just go circling down the drain.

I used to post anything and everything here. That is why BigPinkCookie has such a crazy diverse history. Then things like Twitter & Facebook came along. Now if I find a funny joke or a cute photo, I post it there – not here. Which to be honest bugs the crap out of me. I have no archive of it personally then – when it is gone, it is just gone. Although in the case of my Twitter stream, I guess the Library of Congress has an archive of it. Which seems bizarre. It also reminds me that I still need to share my photos from Washington DC. But anyways…

Here is the plan:

  • BigPinkCookie – Write about life. Random things. Whatever I want. The joys of living in the Heights. Places I love to go here in Houston. Things I find amusing. Personal photo things. The day to day. Goal is to get back to writing here 5 days a week. Give me time to get warmed up…
  • Christine Tremoulet – Houston & Destination Wedding photography. Pretty much just wedding related posts, whether my photos or tips on wedding planning as it pertains to photography. Update 2-3 times a week, since I have a HUGE catalog of photos I’ve never shared.
  • Hot Mama Boudoir – using my super powers to help moms rediscover their beauty. Update as possible, since I only post what my clients say I can, and some clients ask that I post nothing online. Also post things related to women, beauty, and how mass media distorts our view and the battle to recover that. Update as often as possible.
  • Delightful Bicycle – why yes, I do want to blog about cycling, specifically cycling on a cruiser. The Slow Bike Movement. It isn’t about the speed, it is about the journey. Houston isn’t recognized for the cycling potential it has, and this is my little way to combat it. Or to write about my bike that I love & adore. Either way, it is going to be awesome. Planning multiple updates each week as the site gets going. Oh, and we’re going to have a biker gang. Yes, yes we are.
  • Business of Awesome – I’ve written about business topics here before, but they don’t make sense here. When it doesn’t make sense, I don’t do it. But I have a TON of info I’m happy to share, considering that I’ve owned a business in one form or another since 1999, and they’ve all been successful, including selling my dot com related one. I’ve been told that makes me a dot com success story, since that was every other dot com person’s dream. Whoo hoo! My dream? Helping creatives learn how to be better business people. It isn’t easy. We battle a lot with putting a pricetag on our work, and so many other things. So while it is a dream still right now, I can sense it coming to the surface. It is time…

This was actually the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. I realized that having a place for everything and everything in its place makes me happy. I’ll do a weekly update post here about what is going on everywhere else. And all will have a way to get here, because I like giving people a chance to know the real me.

Good. Glad we’ve got that sorted out now. On to other bigger things! YAY!!!

LessAccounting and Getting Straight with my Money…

Confession: I hate bookkeeping. I’m sure I’m not the only photographer that feels this way. I’ve been keeping track of the essential stuff relating to taxes & sales tax, and loosely using LessAccounting to track everything since 2009 along with ShootQ, but I haven’t really BONDED with my business finances, if you know what I mean. My books were sort of a mess.

Matter of fact, I have had a really bad tendency to think to myself, “Hey, look at that! I’ve got $1000 right now – I can go buy (insert non-essential item here) right now! I’m rich!” only to discover a week later that uh, no, I wasn’t rich, and now I’ve got 3 different things to pay and no money left to do it with.

This is NOT a good way to run a business. So over the past few weeks, and thanks to guidance by the wonderful Christyna Lewis of BEE Ventures, I’ve been getting over this head-in-sand syndrome and really getting intimate with my money.

It was hard at first, but now I feel SO much better! It is powerful to be in charge of your financial situation! I’ll share more about what I’ve been doing, but to start with, if you don’t have an accounting system in place to really track everything you have going in and out of your business, go right now and sign up for LessAccounting. I’ll share more of what I’m doing with it over the next few weeks so you can get real with your money too!

(Don’t own a business? Get hooked up with Mint – great for personal finances! Plus it is FREE!)

My Beloved iPad…

As a destination wedding & boudoir photographer, I had a justification for an iPad as soon as they were announced because I knew it would be a great way to constantly carry my portfolio around, but I didn’t pre-order one. Even as a die-hard gadget junkie, I wanted to get my hands on one first before I did it. Then Clint and others started talking on Twitter about how wonderful they were.

Before I knew it, I was up at the Apple store testing them out. True, they don’t have Flash. Whatever, Flash is so 2004 anyways – unless you’re a photographer. Oh wait, I am. But my blog is the first page you hit when you visit my wedding & lifestyle photography site and my boudoir site, and the Flash portfolio is tucked away inside. (I want my site to be as iPhone & iPad friendly as possible! Plus the search engines *love* it!) Of course, the iPad had only been out for a week or so, so the Apple store didn’t have any in stock. I added myself to the wait list for a 64gb iPad, and picked it up on April 22nd.

I opted to go with the WiFi version. I didn’t want to pay $130 extra for the 3G version, plus monthly fees for 3G access, and I already have a Sprint Overdrive with 4G access that I can link up to. Most of the time I have WiFi access anyways.

I’ve had it for three weeks now, and it is fabulous! It does actually fill a gap in my computer lineup for me.

- The battery lasts for 9-10 hours. My MacBookPro lasts maybe 1 hour, if I’m lucky.
- The Photo app is a GREAT way for a photographer to show off their portfolio. Or for a parent to show off photos of their kids.
- It is small and light weight. I can put it in a large purse or small bag. Easy to always have with me.
- The apps that have come up so far for the iPad are pretty fabulous. (I’ll be sharing my thoughts about them!)
- Being self-employed means I’m on my computer all the time. It is nice to put it away when I want to catch up on my RSS feeds, read Twitter, and play on Facebook.
- In the end, I opted for the 64gb so I’d have lots of space for photos and for music, videos & movies when I travel.

When I’m in the car on a road trip, my iPhone is still my go-to device. I tried out the iPad, but the larger surface just wasn’t good in the bright sunlight – I struggled to see the screen. I’ve never had that problem with my iPhone, or my Kindle for that matter.

Have an iPad? Thinking about getting one? What apps do you have & love? Which ones are you looking forward to getting?

Bring Your Clients Sunshine…

The Arctic Circle in the middle of winter gets no sun. So on Day 31 of no sun, Tropicana (the orange juice people) brought them the sun. Check it out. You can’t help but smile when you watch this video because of people’s reactions.

The video made me stop and think about what I can do as a wedding vendor. Tropicana took the time to think about their client’s needs. 31 Days, no sunlight. They need some sun to brighten their lives – even if it is an artificial sun. So they took the needs and addressed them. It made them heros. Do you think that if you lived there and you were walking through the grocery store and saw Tropicana orange juice, you would probably pick it up over another brand? (I’m assuming it would cost a lot – I’m sure it isn’t cheap to buy orange juice in the Arctic Circle.) How about those of us that don’t live somewhere so remote? Will hearing this story make you give Tropicana a try the next time you’re at the grocery store? Simply because they did something cool?

The other interesting thing to notice in this ad is that you don’t see the product at all until the very end, and you see them passing orange juice out to happy people – you assume for free – as they enjoy their sun for a moment. The visual lasts for a second or two, and you’re feeling really great when you see it. Then you see the Tropicana logo, which has thankfully returned to their original logo after last year’s controversy. The whole thing is barely about the product itself. They aren’t selling you on it being yummy orange juice, how delicious it is, the nutrition value. They are just showing you that they went out and did something cool for this small town without sunlight for 31 days.

It is a soft sale. It is warm and fuzzy. It quiets the lizard brain.

Now think about your clients — what are their needs? What is that one problem they might have right now that you can address, even if it isn’t in the realm of what you normally do? How can you, as a wedding vendor, bring your clients sunshine and those pure joyous smiles to their faces? How can you reach out and make the experience of working with you full of joy? What can you do that isn’t selling them on the product, but rather on the experience of working with YOU. Something that makes YOU unique?

Standing out in the crowd is key. There is only one YOU and no one else can duplicate that. Give a unique experience, and you’ll be the buzz for a long time.