Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours!

That is right for almost a month now it has been figuratively pouring keeping me so busy and worn out my posts as you may have noticed have been rather sporadic. Then yesterday what we thought was going to be a typical summer rain quickly changed. When the family left to go out to dinner it was raining but not too bad and after checking the weather report our area was not under any flash flood warnings so we didn't think too much about it. That is until we headed home and everywhere we turned it looked like this.

Thankfully my Son in law decided to take the back road into the housing tract as it usually doesn't flood as easy as the front route. The entire road was covered with about a foot and a half to two feet of water. We slowly made our way through, thankfully we were in a SUV, although a few regular cars made it through in front of us. 
By the time we got over to our street smaller we were met by a fire truck and police car turning cars around. They let us past once my son in law explained that the driveway just beyond their blockade was our destination. This photo was taken about a half hour later. The police had left and the water had gone down a little but it was still raining and too deep for lower vehicles to pass. This car had tried but soon turned around.
Most of the evening the only ones making it without stalling were trucks and SUV's. It seemed like the whole neighborhood came out to party. There were people standing in the water at the edge of the street warning cars and cheering on those that tried to make it through the deep water. Some made it and others didn't. When a car would stall out the cheering squad quickly snapped into action and pushed the car out of the road and to safety. By the end of the evening there were quite a few stalled vehicles in the parking lot. This morning they were all gone so I do hope they were able to get them started and didn't have to have them toed home.
Now that the storm has passed and the month is coming to a close I am hopeful that life will clear up a bit. How are things in your neck of the woods? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Oh to be little again

After six days and 28 newborn photography sessions I almost wonder if accepting a position with a newborn photography company was the wisest decision. Click here to learn why I would do such a crazy thing. The kid in me almost wishes I was little again so I could play away the rest of the summer.  At least I was able to get in a little time with the grandchildren. 

The summer is winding down and the weather here in Norfolk has cooled down considerably. With two weeks left till school is back in session I am hoping for lots of chances to enjoy the rest of summer. This last week we took a few short walks, and even went to the park.

But best of all they got to play in the pool while I relaxed and watched.

Thankfully my position with the newborn photography will only be a few days a week from now on and I can get back to focusing on family and Artistix Network business. 

For a little virtual travel stop over at Unknown Mami's for:
Unknown Mami

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Hobbyist to Professional

Taking my art from hobby to professional is probably one of the biggest challenges I have faced. After years of creating composite artwork for others at little or no charge one might think the transition would be easy. Let me tell you it is anything but easy. However I still believe it is well worth the challenge.

When developing Artistix Network LLC, there were a lot of decisions to make including the following very important decisions.

1. Our Mission statement: Our mission is to enable clients to preserve their cherished memories for future generations with high quality professional artwork that captures their style and emotions.
Which means:
A) We will not limit the photo's used to create a memory composite to photo's we take for the client or limit the number of photos that can be included in the artwork.
B) We will not use quick labs or only offer digital files and recommend the client print them at a quick lab.
C) We always consult with the client and allow them a wide range of design options.
D) We will make every effort to keep the cost of our services affordable to the general public.

2. The company will not incur any outside debt and will operate entirely on funds generated by sales or contributed by the founders.
    (This may not have been the wisest decision toward the success of the company as it has limited the company to a shoe string marketing budget primarily made up of word of mouth marketing.)

Deciding what services we wanted to provide and how we wanted to provide those services was probably the easiest part. Although, even that took may hours of planing. Add to that months of research on marketing, organizational, product and web development. Followed by months of putting everything into action and the whole process took almost two years before we even opened for business. Needless to say it is easy to get bogged down with all the 'business' aspects and loose sight of 'The Mission', you know that little reason why you ever decided to go professional in the first place.

Throughout the process there have been many times while working with marketing and business development professionals we were advised to do the following:
    1. Double our charges so that we were more in line with other photographic design agencies.
        Benefit: Increasing profit margin and potential of corporate clients with deep pockets.
        Disadvantage: Complete deviation from our mission.
    2. Limit the number of options available to clients.
        Benefit: Increasing profits by decreasing design time.
        Disadvantage: Hindering the clients ability to have created a piece that expresses their style and emotions.
    3. Limit the clients to using only photos we took.
        Benefit: Increasing profit by charging both for photography and design.
        Disadvantage: Hindering the client from having created a memory art piece that captures the moments they personally photograph.
    4. Limiting the number of photos included in each art piece.
        Benefit: Reducing production time thereby increasing profit margin.
        Disadvantage: Hindering the clients ability to have created a piece that expresses their style and emotions.
    5. Market to businesses and those within upper income brackets.
        Benefit: Increased profits
        Disadvantage: In direct opposition to our mission to provide professional corporate style design services to the average person.
    6. Market the digital design file as an affordable substitute to printed format, taking advantage of the clients desire for both connivence and savings.               
        Benefit: Increase sales
        Disadvantage: Potential to be in opposition to our mission to provide high quality artwork that will last for generations.

 We did decide to offer the option to purchase the digital file with full print release. But decided that when doing so we make sure our clients understand that quick lab prints deteriorate in as little as 15 years as compared to a life span of 75 to 100 years for a chemically processed photograph. We also let them know that they can contact us in the future to have their design sent to print at the professional lab we use for only slightly more than a quick lab will charge for the same size prints. In this way we are able to offer the savings and convenience while still remaining true to our mission.

As you can see by the above list, being committed to ones mission is not always the easiest or the most profitable. Which can result in the temptation to take the easy way and change your mission.

Of course that means that growing the business has been a very slow process. Taking almost two years before we actually started to break even.  Now in our third year although we are starting to make a profit it is still not what one would call profitable. Some might say we should give in to the all mighty dollar and make the changes to our mission statement and business strategy.

To me family memories are just too important, even if they aren't my families memories. So for me there is no option but to remain committed to our mission. Even if it means taking a second job while the business grows slowly. So far my partners agree with me, so instead of changing our mission we chose to keep our mission and add a gift division of the company that offers fun non-memory art gifts through a convenient online quick lab. In addition we continue to look for creative ways to market the business and other services that might fit in with our mission.

So what do you think, should a company change its' mission to compete with other companies that provide the same service but don't share the same mission? Have you gone from hobbyist to professional? If so what was your biggest challenge?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inspirational Art: Life

Even though we may not enjoy every experience they all add to who we are and what we become.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Baby Doll Portraits

On a quite Sunday in Norfolk, I was wanting to practice infant portraiture but not having an infant to practice with I did the next best thing. I asked Sissy if she would like to do a portrait session with her favorite baby doll. Unfortunately as a mother this idea never occurred to me. It would have been so cute to have photos like this of my daughters with their favorite baby dolls. 

Unfortunately her favorite baby is not a very flexible baby doll so it limited the poses we were able to get but we did get one of the baby's feet.
This was a very fun way to practice taking mother and infant portraits. It made Sissy feel very special and was fun watching her pick out just the right outfit and cuddle with her baby doll. 

I am linking up a day late with Unknown Mami for Sunday in My City, so please pop over and visit some of the other cities participating or link up and have some fun.
Unknown Mami

Monday, August 6, 2012

Inspirational Art: Savor the Flavor

I came across this quote and it seemed so appropriate with this photo. Especially since life has a way of changing up the flavor rather quickly.
Linking up with:
Quotography at {My}Perspective

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I have driven past the Forest Lawn Cemetery many times since moving to Norfolk but have never ventured inside. This month I am practicing my black and white photography, and decided the cemetery would be the perfect place to capturing images that were not dependent upon vivid color for their richness. Wandering this beautiful resting place I could not help but think about the individuals and their families. What life was like for them, if these beautiful markers were all that was left to say they had lived, loved, cried and must certainly have been missed. I certainly hope that is not the case.
This monument is dedicated to the some 240+ foreign sailors who died at sea and were buried here during the early 1900's. I had to wonder if the families of each sailor had known that this is where their loved one was laid to rest.
All throughout there are many beautiful mausoleums like this one. Intricately carved markers and statues adorn the last resting places of the very young and the very old and every age in between. All set in a lovely garden of lush green grass and the shade of beautiful trees and shrubbery. As you can see I almost forgot I was there to practice my black and white photography.

Of course I saw many angels big and small, but this one just called out to me that it needed no color to touch the soul.
Your Sunday Best Submission
The heavens must have known I was looking for a shot that would capture the beauty and turmoil one surely feels when their loved one is laid to rest in such a peaceful garden. When I looked up and saw the emotion I was looking for.  I hope that I have captured that in this last black and white photo.
Being in this setting and seeing all the markers of lives lost I couldn't help but wonder if we put to much thought into our day to day lives and not enough into our legacy?

Today I am linking up with:

Unknown Mami

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Fun

What is summer without a picnic? Yesterday was my Son-in-laws Navy unit's command picnic. We got there just as people were arriving. We enjoyed our lunch and my Son-in-law introduced me to some of the people he works with. Then we headed off to check out the games. There were games for both the kids and the adults. Having Sissy and Bubba along we stayed with the kid activities.
The adults were spread out, playing; volleyball, horseshoes, basketball, tug-of-war among other games.
 The Navy's fire department was on hand for both safety and fun.
The rides on the little fire engine train was Bubba's favorite, while the horseback ridding was Sissy's. After they got their rides we headed over to the inflatables.
 There were three or four inflatables that looked like tons of fun. However, Sissy and Bubba were more interested in the snow cone's, cotton candy and face painting.

Although it was a beautiful day with a nice breeze blowing the temperature was still very hot so we called it a day and headed back to the comfort of the air conditioner.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What Was I Thinking?

Have you ever seen an artist creation and thought what on earth were they thinking?  As an artist I generally come up with an idea and try to convey that idea in my artwork. When creating something whether it is a photograph, composite photographic art, painting or cartoon I like the viewer to be able to see or feel the meaning behind the work without having to be told. 
Last night Sissy came running into the office, came to a sudden stop beside my desk and exclaimed " Frogie demands Justice!" I have no idea what she was talking about but I couldn't help but laugh. Okay, it may not make any sense but I could picture a silly looking angry frog demanding justice. 
So I set about drawing an angry frog, and I was having so much fun I just kept changing the facial expressions. I have no idea what I was thinking I would use these frogs for, but hey I drew them anyway.  Today I showed them to Sissy and she named them Emie & Nick Frogie.

Other than to create a cartoon with the angry frog in the center I have no idea what if anything I will do with the others. Have you ever made something that you really had no idea what you were going to do with it once you were done?