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Photography Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Marcela Macias Photography

When you should hire a professional photographer

When is the right time to hire a professional photographer (2)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a controversial article. I told you when NOT to hire a professional photographer.

For days after I wrote it, I received emails thanking me for it, from previously overwhelmed entrepreneurs who now felt they could relax and focus on what mattered.

Most of those emails also asked a question. I know when NOT to hire someone, they said. But how do I know when to do so?

Ah.  

The missing piece, of course.

The moment that tips the scale and lets us know that the time has come, and that a photo-shoot is,not only an investment but even a necessity.

When does it occur? And how can you know? 

Here’s my take on it.

I believe the right time is marked by certain business timelines. At some point, not upgrading your visuals risks stalling your growth.

Can you have a successful business without professional photos or professional web design? Absolutely. Can you grow indefinitely without them? I believe not.

In the years since I’ve worked as professional photographer, I’ve come across certain situations that make hiring a professional photographer a must do. These are the ones I’ve listed below, and they’re based both on my observations and on conversations I’ve had with my clients.

Here they are:

1. When your time is better spent doing something else.

When you’re just starting out, DIYing is normal, advisable even. With no money to spend, and uncertainty over whether your product or service will take off, it’s wise to fiddle with foam boards, spend nights on youtube watching white balance tutorials, and climb on the kitchen table to get the perfect shot. A selfie taken with your phone or the laptop’s camera will do, for now. We’ve all been there.

But, as your business grows, and you start making money, your time becomes more and more valuable. The two hours you spent shooting that perfect salad and the morning your spent trying to make your home-made organic eye-mask jar looking like an ad by Chanel suddenly are costing your business money.

How can it cost you money, you ask? 

Because the time you spend in your business either makes you money or costs you some. 

If you didn’t have to take photos and edit them in Photoshop, how many more products could you create? How many more clients could you book? How many more sales funnels could you write? How many more Facebook ads could you tweak? How many more guest posts could you pitch? How many more social media posts could you schedule? 

Spending one month photographing your cookbook may mean that you neglect blogging, or get to publishing time without a sales and promotion calendar. It may mean less coaching clients, or not launching that course you had in the back burner for years. It may mean less money, and it may mean less growth.

Spending a weekend  photographing and photo-shopping your products so they’re ready to be listed on Monday may mean no time with your family, and being over tired, and therefore less effective at work the rest of the week.

And that is the best case scenario, which assumes you can get the same results as a professional.

This was the case for my client Mayi Carles. She hired me because she realized that her money was better spent in activities that brought money in, the ones she couldn’t delegate, the ones that make her brand unmistakable. A couple of times a year, she emails her printable products and mails the physical ones for me to style and shoot on the other side of the world. While I style, shoot and edit, she creates, makes sure all parts of her business run like a well-oiled machine and takes time off.

Find out how much your hour of work costs. Find out which activities make you the most money, then do those as a priority and delegate the rest when you can.

2. When you’re losing opportunities

Let’s be honest here: Sub-par photos will only take you so far. Why? Because visuals affect trust. 

If you don’t believe me, read this real life story by Derek Halpern, where he explains why he spent $25,000 on web design and some amazing portrait photos. In that blog post, he talks about how he submitted an article for a major mainstream publication but, when they checked his website, they thought he was a scam.

You may say, well that’s just because they didn’t know who he was. If they had contacted him, or spent more time on his site they would have known that he wasn’t a scam.

And all that would be true.

But people make split seconds decisions.

And people on high powered places are extremely busy and under no circumstances want to risk their reputation with someone who may not be trustworthy. Over and over again, I receive emails from my clients telling me how better photos helped them land press coverage and other opportunities that were closed to them before.

So, if the time has come for you to play in the big leagues, if you want to get your products on magazines and your recipes on select publications, start thinking about upping your game with professional photos too.

Help people realize as soon as they land on your website that your business is as professional you say it is. Help doors open for you easily.

3. When your current photos- though maybe pretty- are not doing the trick

Great commercial photos are not simply great looking. They help you direct the viewer’s attention where you want to, paint the right picture about your products or services, establish an emotional connection with your audience, position your brand and, ultimately, help you sell more.

In order to do this, professional photographers, like me,  study elements of design, visual persuasion, composition rules and theory of color, among others. We know how much blur to add to the background, how to play with lights and shadows to send a different message, even the psychological effect different portrait poses have on the viewer.

This is the true power of professional photography.

So if your photos are not converting into sign ups and money- consider hiring someone who can: 1) pin point what’s not working and 2) Create images with the wow factor your work deserves, images that pull in the right customers effortlessly. Images that make people CRAVE your creations.

My clients tell me it’s worth the investment. And they’re not the only ones that believe so.

4- When you’re getting your business professionally branded.

When our businesses start, most of us DIY everything and, as a consequence, our websites and visual presence sometimes end up being a mismatch of different styles.

My first logo was a blue and grey pennant banner with french script font that I had created in PicMonkey following an online tutorial,. My website’s background was  light blue with white polka dots digital scrapbook paper I’d bought on etsy. My blog photos looked  all different, as I experimented with different backgrounds, textures and styles. One recipe was girly, pink and romantic, the next one dark and moody. There was no cohesive style anywhere.

Maybe you can relate?

DIY design and DIY photos are normal when we begin…but if you’re upgrading your design, you should upgrade your photos too, or your website and social media presence will still look scattered and unprofessional.

Great images convey everything your brand is about in seconds. Use their power. 

Does this mean that you need a massive photo shoot with hundreds of images? No, of course not.

I’m all for incremental upgrades and I believe that,when you’re first upgrading,15 personalized, stylish and versatile images are the perfect starting point. This is why my GROW package includes exactly this amount, together with video tutorials to make the most of your investment.

Start small, and build from there. As you reap the rewards of your new branded look, and your business grows, you can add more photos or update them later on.

5- When you want to enter a luxury market.

If you’re read my previous blog post, you’ll know I don’t recommend stressing about visuals when you’re just starting out.

But there’s a caveat to that, and it’s when you’re targeting a luxury market.

Luxury products and services require luxurious visuals. Period. 

Amateur images just won’t do in a market where everything is taking care of to a T.

True luxury is about refinement, craftsmanship and elegance.

As Vincent Bastien put it: “Luxury is the expression of a taste, of a creative identity; luxury makes the bold statement “this is what I am,” not “that depends”– which is what positioning implies. It is identity that gives a brand that particularly powerful feeling of uniqueness, timelessness, and the necessary authenticity that helps give an impression of permanence. Chanel has an identity, but not a positioning. Identity is not divisible, it is not negotiable– it simply is. Luxury is superlative, and not comparative. It prefers to be faithful to an identity rather than be always worrying about where it stands in relation to a competitor.”

Photos of luxury products should reflect this identity, this uniqueness, this timelessness. They should FEEL like your brand, and they should certainly feel luxurious. They should create dreams, not merely show your product or services’s qualities.

If the photos you take can’t achieve this, it’s time to hire a professional.

6- When there’s a disconnect between your photos and your written voice.

This is a big one, and one that I see very often.

Have you taken the time to think about the way you sound, and be intentional about it? All great writers are very consistent in the qualities in their voice, but sometimes they forget that their photos speak too, and that what they say should match their words.

Is your voice funny? strategic? warm? perceptive? sharp? genuine? elitist?

What idea of yourself does someone get when they read your words? What idea do they get when they see your photos?

Someone who understands this very well is Denise Duffield-Thomas. She is very clear that her brand is fun, chill and summery. This is why she doesn’t whine, and she doesn’t complain about winter. She wants people who land on her website or on social media to get a chillionaire vibe, and she makes sure she’s consistent about it.

My brand, for example, is not funny or shocking, though I know very well they are great for calling attention. My brand is loving, warm, magical…posting images that shock would be immediately perceived as out of character and erode trust with my audience.

Sometimes it’s easy to find stock images, or create some that fully represent what you stand for. Some others, not so much.

If you’re at a point in your career where your written voice is defined but can’t find photos that match your uniqueness, it’s time to get custom photos. 

 

7- When you want the experience of your brand to be different

Visuals affect how others experience your brand. They convey emotions better than anything else and pull, powerfully, the right persons towards our work-or repel it.

Ramit Sethi speaks about the importance of providing your customers with an intentional brand experience in this video, where he explains why he regrets not taking care about it earlier. Watch from the minute 17 onwards).

Ask yourself: how do you want your customers to feel when they see your photos? Do your current photos match that experience?

If they don’t, it may be time get custom photos, designed with that purpose in mind.

8. When you want to push a product.

 

Do you want to promote one of your products above all others, and really make it the best seller it’s meant to be? Make sure you have great photos of it.

Ask Mark Hayes put it ” Good pictures answer questions and lead to more traffic and more sales”, but sometimes a full overhaul of all your images is not realistic.

This is when I advised my clients to focus on one product they want to make a best seller. If you can’t photograph your whole collection, photograph first a new product you want to launch with a bang, or in the one that people are already responding to the most, so you can promote them heavily, and they can convert as you desire. Then, move backwards, and photograph the rest.

This is what my clients, Panamanian company Life Blends did last year. They were launching a new line of clean eating meals and knew they needed great photos to promote it, because ” we eat with our eyes”, as they put it. Since it was a new venture and they didn’t know if it was going to take off, they started with 3 recipes.

The launch was so successful that they ran out of food to sell on the first day and, that month, they broke a sales record. That’s when they hired me to photograph the rest of the meals. You can read the rest of the case study here.

If you want a product or service to reach its full potential, get professionally taken custom images of it. Don’t be afraid to start slow, just make sure you get started.

 

9. When you hate doing it

I’m going to get all woo here and talk about how the energy of what we do affects its outcome. If you’ve been ready for a while you know I’m a hippie and this shouldn’t surprise you.If you’re new: welcome, I sage my studio before a shoot and play a singing bowl. Nice to meet you. 

Here’s the thing: If you hate taking photos for your business, and you hate editing and you hate the sub-par results you get, that energy of annoyance and frustration will permeate your images. This “deliberately introduces resistance into your experience” in the words of Abraham Hicks.

Either you find a way to start liking it, or you should delegate it to someone who adores shooting, editing and overall working on your photos, so that the energy of joy populates every part of your work.

If you’re in one of the above situations and would like to start upgrading your business images, here’s what I advise that you do:

1)Get a great portrait and a few lifestyle shots, so you have a wonderful photo of yourself to send to publications for guest posting, and with press releases. I am a big fan of  behind the scenes shots, that show your process and give people an insider’s pass into how you work.

2) Photograph your best sellers, or the products you most want to promote first. For example, if you’re launching a new line of earrings, make those photos your priority so they sell like hotcakes. If you provide services or info products, you could commission photos for a new course first, then move to making the rest of website and online presence stunning.

3) Photograph the rest of your collection so everything ties together.

Have you taken photos for your business before? How did the experience go? Tell me in the comments below! I’m listening.

PINK M

Want photos that look like you- and no one else?

Click here to book a call so we can discuss your needs 

When you should NOT hire a professional photographer

When you shouldn't hire blog and pinterest

I have a confession to make: I’m a woman of many strong opinions,  though I may not seem like one at first sight. And one of the things I have a, perhaps controversial, opinion on, is the right timing for entrepreneurs to hire a professional photographer like me.

I very often read blog posts, or hear podcasts where design and photography professionals advise their readers to invest in their brand identity and custom photography from the get go, with sentences like “Once you choose a style, you’re stuck with it forever” , “People won’t think you’re professional if you don’t look professional” “Choose well from the beginning because it’s very hard to change later” and “If you want to stop trading hours for dollars, you need to look pro“. And it makes me sad, because I see that words like these cause paralysis and fear in many women, and stop them from building the businesses they’re meant to build.

Here’s the thing: I’m not in the business of taking money from people at all costs.

I’m in the business of helping, with my work, those who are ready, willing, and excited to work with me, so we can create photos that are a mirror to their soul and the greatness of their business.

I know that when I work with the right people, at the right time, results come easily. And that’s what I want for every shoot, for every client, for every business I have to honor to work for: the best results possible.

In order for brand photos to shield the best results, some things need to be in place before the shoot. \When they’re not, photos are an expense instead of an investment. Building a business is like building a house: each piece is important, but not everything is fundamental from the very first day. Just like you wouldn’t put a couch in a house without roof, I’d advise you to think about professional photography after the following things are well in place.

My goal with this blog post is to help you focus on the things that will help you grow your business consistently. To help you gain peace of mind, and put aside photos from your mind and your to do list without fear or guilt, if it’s not the right time…knowing that when it is, you’ll have a much faster return on investment.

Ready? Here they are:

When you shouldn’t hire a professional photographer

 

  1. When you don’t know how your business helps others

If life was a Hollywood movie, we would all be born with the clarity to know exactly who we are, and a strong knowledge of our Life Purpose, which we would of course easily fulfill doing a job that we love.

But life is not a Hollywood movie and, sometimes, we start in business with a very general idea of what we want to do, with no clear business differentiation. We swim in a red, bloody ocean, like the book Blue Ocean Strategy explains.

This was my case: When I started working as a professional photographer, I had no clue what I was bringing to the table for people to choose me. Photos? Yes, ok, but so did 1000 other photographers and most people with a DSLR or good quality smartphone!

It took me 2 years, tons of listening to my clients,  and a lot of personal work to realize that my “secret sauce” was an ability to unveil, in a loving, gentle and intuitive way, that which makes my client’s work connect to their ideal clients and translate in into concrete objects and beautiful visuals. I have a knack for understanding which objects will evoque which emotions and who reacts in which way to different aesthetics. The psychology of commercial photos and advertising fascinates me and I have an innate understanding of them, probably due to my diverse background and how much I’ve traveled and lived in different cultures.

I didn’t know this was even remotely valuable when I began, it took time.

The reason this matters is because what I photograph is what makes you and your products or services special.

In order for your photos to become effective marketing instruments and selling machines you need to be clear about who you are as a business, what you stand for, what makes your products or services different from those of the competition, what problem you solve, why you do what you do, and why your customers or clients should care. You need to know your positioning.

Do you provide peace of mind and a sense of safety by advising your clients the best dates to do business according to Chinese Astrology? Do your products allow your customers to share precious moments around a breakfast table, without the hassle of spending hours in the kitchen? Do your recipes help women look and feel young, beautiful and vibrant without having to eat cardboard tasting foods for weeks in a row? Do your planners help entrepreneurs avoid procrastination, while having fun?

How about how you do it? How do your personality, values and beliefs affect what you do? Do you provide a safe haven for people to open up about their fears? Do you guide your clients with a firm hand? Do you inspire transformation, like a modern day Gandalf?

The energy and essence of all this needs to be present in a photo for it to work at its maximum potential. The more you your photos look, the more they’ll attract the right people.

And this brings me to the next point…

 2.  When you’re not sure who you want as a customer.

Sometimes, when we’re starting out, we want to help everyone. We think for as long and someone (anyone!) pays for our services or products we’ll be fine, because our only focus is to get some money coming in the door.

The problem is that, when it comes to aesthetics, different people often are attracted to very divergent things. Said in other words: there isn’t a single idea of beauty and different images evoque different emotions in different people. And the last thing you want is for your brand photos to generate the wrong feeling in your customers.

Let me give you an example about this: When I was a teenager growing up in Argentina, a horror house from the US came to town. You know the ones, those that consist of a dark alley where you walk and every now and then a hand comes out of the curtains to touch you, a skeleton appears hanging in front of you, etc. This particular house of horrors was using a scare tactic that, apparently, terrified Americans: they hanged dead cattle (fake I presume), with dripping blood. Assuming Argentinian society was similar, they used the same stunts…until they heard a woman say to her husband  when the dead cattle was revealed: “Oh honey, this makes me hungry. Let’s have barbecue after this“. Epic fail. They closed for a few days, completely re did their scare stunts and opened again.

This is also the reason we’re starting to talk about flexible branding. Take a look at these findings:

“In fact, there’s never been a one-size-fits-all consumer. Back in the 1970s, the demographic survey company Claritas (since bought by Nielsen) identified 40 different lifestyle segments — corresponding to ethnicity, age, wealth, urbanization, housing styles and family structures — within the U.S. population alone. And today, that number has ballooned to 66.” 

and

” For online shoppers, customization matters. A 2015 joint study produced by Magnetic and Retail TouchPoints revealed that more than 50 percent of Internet users preferred websites that catered to their interests, age, location and taste” 

In order to make sure that my photos appeal to the right customers, I always walk my clients through a process of finding a muse  and distilling the qualities that make that person ideal for their business . I also research their current customer base and the one they’re trying to reach, to understand their taste and aesthetics, so we can create photos that they’ll love to like, share, pin…and that will make them want to buy.

In order to do this, you first need to be clear about who you want, and who you don’t want in your customer seats. This step really is unavoidable, and will make your whole business much more successful.

 3. When you’ve never made a sale before

If you have a clear idea of where you want to take your business, and who you want to help, but you’ve never made a sale, your idea is not yet validated and I’d advise you to wait until it is to invest in custom photos.

Let me explain: Many times we want to help people who 1) don’t want to be helped ( Yes, I know they they neeeeed it, but if they don’t want to, you can’t make them) or 2) want to be helped but are either unwilling or unable to pay. These are not the right clients, because a business needs sales to survive, and happy customers, willing to delegate, implement, and commit, in order to thrive. This is what Ramit Sethi calls ” the willingness and ability to pay test” and, if you target those who don’t pass the test, your business risks not being sustainable.

This is a mistake I personally made in the first year of business. I created a new website, took photos and promoted to a consumer base that did not value custom photos unless they were extremely cheap. Consequently, the only way to get clients was to lower down my prices to unsustainable levels. The problem is, that someone who doesn’t value the work you do, will not be a great client even at super low prices: you’ll need to convince that investing any money at all is worth the cost, they’ll likely to complain more and the minute they can pay more(because their business grows), they’ll go elsewhere. I even had a client hire another photographer to shoot the rest of her collection  with the styling I had designed for her!

It took me a year (and enrolling in Ramit’s zero to launch) to learn this lesson, and to understand that targeting that customer base was simply not worth the effort. That I was better off targeting those who already wanted custom photos, understood how they could help them, were happy to pay for them and wanted me as a member of their team. These were the clients that keep coming back for more work and recommended me everywhere.

For this reason, I invite you to first validate your idea, and once you know for certain which clients help your business thrive and want more of them, come back for custom photos. Then we’ll make sure they’re not only gorgeous, but also hyper targeted to attract them.

4. When you’re going through a major business re-defining moment

You have a business that works, you have clients, you made sales…but you’re going through a bit of a crisis and are not sure whether what you wanted for your business is what you’re meant to continue doing. You feel an inkling of a doubt and are wondering whether it’s resistance because you’re ready to up-level, or a major sign from the Universe, telling you to pause and ponder whether this is the right direction for you.

In these cases, it’s very common to focus on a change in aesthetics. It’s like going to the hairdresser to radically change color and cut and buy new clothes when you want to change the rest of your life…but just as a life doesn’t change until we make the hard decisions, neither do we find clarity in our business or a renewed sense of direction by simply having better photos.

Or as my friend Marbel Canseco said to me once : ” You can’t brand yourself out of confusion. “

If you are unsure about what you want to do in your business, focus on that first. If you’re not sure whether your current clients are the right ones, solve that problem first. Those things need to be clear before we can take photos that will shield you the great results you deserve.

5. When your business finances can’t afford it.

I’ll go against the grain in this issue too, and tell you that if your business can’t afford to pay for your custom photos, if you need to go into debt to pay for them, it may not be the right moment to invest.

I know it’s a common saying, especially in the coaching business, that “you need to invest in order to make money” and that “you have to invest as much money as you expect to make” and this is correct…to a point.I believe that it’s great to invest and upgrade progressively and, that unless we continue investing in order to grow, our businesses risk stalling. But I also believe that the stress of debt hanging over your head might be overwhelming, and when we’re in a state of overwhelm and fear, we rarely make the decisions our business needs to move forward.

I also believe this is related to point 3 above, business validation.

This doesn’t mean that photos may not be a considerable investment for you at the right time,  but it does mean that I consider it advisable to make sure your business is already profitable, so that they can help it become more so.

Take custom photos when you have the funds, so you can move full steam ahead with your plans, and feel the effects of the upgrade sooner.

What to do instead

 

If you’ve been through the list and checked some marks, here’s what to do:

  1.  Celebrate. Now you can stop paying attention to those fear-mongering articles!
  2.  Focus on your message and your mission. Go through the list of things you need to know about yourself and your business in point 1 and find your blue ocean.
  3.  Focus on getting your first client, and then more, and then more. Validate your idea. Make adjustments as needed. Ask your clients why they chose you, then re-adjust your blue ocean.
  4. Focus on helping your clients to the maximum level possible, and analyze who you work best with, who  you love helping and what they have in common. Make notes. Implement changes.

When all the above is clear, you’ll know the time has come to get custom photos.

Your business will ask for them to keep growing. And this time, you’ll be fully ready to make the most of them.

It won’t feel scary, it will feel like the coronation of your effort. And it will be wonderful.

PINK M

Want photos that look like you- and no one else?

Click here to book a call so we can discuss your needs 

How to make your visual content engaging: the strategy of empathy

visual-content-engaging-marcela-macias-photography-cyprus-visual-strategy

 

One of the biggest misunderstandings about visuals and marketing that I see very often is the belief that high resolution photos will instantly equate more engaged fans, higher sales and a perception of professionalism that will allow us to charge higher rates.

Let me give it to you straight right now: It’s just not that simple. 

If it was, with so many sites where you can get good quality photos for free or for a minimum price, everyone would have a cult following and a thriving business.

We would all get a drag and drop theme for our website, find a free high quality image to use as Header, or purchase one, and bibiddy babiddy boop, we would have hoards of followers waiting for us to produce our first product, which we would, of course,sell out in 5 minutes maximum.

If it was only a matter of pixels and dpi, everyone with a DSLR camera… or even an iphone, would be rich and famous.

And we all know that it doesn’t work like that.

So what works, you may be asking yourself?

What is the magic trick that will make your visual content engaging, helping you generate the all mighty tribe of 1000 true fans and followers that will, in turn, purchase everything you release?

What makes a photo effective when it comes to marketing, and what makes it just another one of the pile that we never even notice?

How can you use visual content in an engaging, effective and strategic way?

That, my friends, is what I set out to discover last year, as I mentioned in this previous blog post, and what I want to talk to you about today.

I’ve said before that I wholeheartedly believe that the key to effective marketing and effective visuals is caring for everyone that comes into contact with our businesses.

Truly, deeply caring about them, even if they don’t buy, even if they just read our social media posts and don’t sign up to be a member of our communities. Caring for the work we do, and caring about the effect it has in our followers and customers.

What does this have to do with visuals? 

Everything.

Visual content is a form of communication. We either use it as a way to scream from the top of our lungs how awesome we are (even if no one listens) or we use it to start conversations, to connect, to tell stories.

Visuals, when used right, are a conversation starter.

When it comes to words, we all know that in order to start meaningful conversations, and communicate effectively we need to listen, to observe, and to be aware of other people’s feelings. Visuals are no different.

Let me explain. Some people believe that their visuals are supposed to be about them: what they like or don’t, what their life looks like, their aspirations and dreams. Others believe visuals are supposed to be all about their customers, regardless of what they like or don’t like, and regardless of whether what they post fits their personality or not. Both positions have some truth in them, but both forget something important.

If your visuals don’t appeal to your customers, they won’t connect and they won’t buy. If your visuals have nothing of you in them, they will sound off and fake and sooner or later, you’ll lose face.

Successful visual content lies at the intersection of who you are and what your customers like and need from you. 

YOU

Your visuals need to have your personality, reinforce your positioning and contain elements that your followers already identify with you, in order to anchor these in their mind. They need to look like you in order to be authentic.

This is why, when I start working with someone, I read all the copy from their website and their blog posts. This is why I their social media, paying special attention to the posts that get more engagement and how they are already connecting to their customers. This is why I ask my clients to take a series of branding personality tests and to fill a questionnaire I’ve especially designed for them.

The props I choose in a photo are directly aimed at generating an instant connection in the mind of my client’s customers that makes them recognize her photos and anchors the right elements of her personality and her brand in their mind.

This is why I use cubes to spell the current year when shooting Mayi Carles printable planners, because I know one of the key elements of her video backgrounds are cubes with her name, and that her followers associate cubes with her.

2016-CON-CUBOSwebbis

This is why I make sure that the colors, backgrounds and style of my client’s photos match what people already know and love about them.

And your visuals need to consider your clients as well, so they can connect to you on a deeper level. And this is a matter of observation, empathy and care.

If you want people to engage with your visuals, make sure you’re creating them with your clients in mind.

Here are a few ideas on how to do this:

  1. Always post what is authentic to you. Drop the fear of not “looking premium” or “professional enough”. You are who you are and who you are is enough. Be proud of what you have to give and the story that brought you where you are. You don’t need macarons on a golden desk if you’d rather eat a chocolate chip cookie on a beach-side wooden tablen with your toes in the sand and a mason jar with lemonade and a paper straw in your right hand
  2. Take an interest in those who follow you. Visit their profiles, engage with them from the heart. Engage first, from a place of true interest, honesty and caring.
  3. Observe and listen actively: what do they like? What do they share? What do they connect more to? What photos drive more engagement? What photos drive more sales? What aspects of your personality and your brand resonate more with your customers? What do you share with them in terms of likes, values, dreams and aspirations?m (hint: I observe reality on instagram and facebook and aspiration on pinterest. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t and that’s very interesting).
  4. When something works, do more of it. For example, the pen that you see in the photo of Mayi’s printables above, that looks like Gru‘s spaceship with polka dots, is always a hit. Whenever Mayi posts a photo with the pen in it, she gets comments about it. The reason I originally chose it was that 1) Mayi was pregnant and I wanted a more child like fun prop in her photos (before we had been using one with Florentine design because Mayi studied art in Florence). 2) The shape looked like a rocket, and we were introducing it for a launch 3)  Its polka dots colors are present in Mayi’s printables. When it became a hit, we continued using it and now it’s a prop I only use for her photos because it has become part of her brand. (side note: I totally took it from Zoe’s pencil case but let’s keep it between you and me, ok?  😉
  5. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Remember why you’re doing this, who you help and how. Remember that people have different tastes and there’s not a single definition of beauty. Consider the emotional impact what you post can have in your ideal customers.

One example about this: I was once working to define the styling of a client who had been using, until hiring me, very luxurious looking stock photos. I asked her how those photos had been doing and she mentioned that not well at all. She was puzzled. The photos were gorgeous but they were getting 1/3 of the engagement than her more ” real” ones. And she couldn’t figure out why.

Here’s the thing: For some people, luxury is enticing and they like to browse aspirational sites to day dream of how they will one day live, when they have that kind of money. For others, though, luxury is a trigger that reminds them how far away from that they are, and instead of provoking enthusiasm, it depresses them.

You need to be aware about this differences in perception when planning your content, if you want your visuals to help you grow your business. You need to know who your ideal clients are, what they’re going through and what they need from you to craft visuals that help you grow your business.

And the only way to do this is by testing, observing, listening and caring.

Now let me know in the comments below: how do you plan your visuals? What type of visuals get more engagement from your audience?

 

Who you are matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The strategy of being you

 

who-you-are-matters-branding-visual-strategyinstagram

 

Every time I’m meeting with a new prospective client, or doing a consultation, I ask the same first question after the initial meet and greet.

My question always leaves my clients speechless for a while, regardless of how many years they have been in business. Some of them stutter, some lower their eyes, and many become visibly uncomfortable.

The question I ask is not irreverent, inappropriate or adult rated. What I ask is, simply:

 What makes your work special?

Why should people hire you?

I don’t ask this question to be mean. I don’t ask this question to make my clients uncomfortable.

I ask this question because the reason my photographs sell is that I photograph what makes my clients and their products unique… and I can only photograph it, if they know what that is. 

I ask this question because I know it’s hard, and I know they need to explore the answer in a safe place.

And I ask this question because I can see the light in them and the higher purpose of what they do as soon as we meet, but I know that they need to discover it, own it and embrace it by themselves if they are to fully step into their power.

Why is this such a difficult question?

I started exploring this question when my children were diagnosed with special needs. I’d always believed that we all come here with a special song inside of us (As Wayne Dyer used to say), and that my role as a mother was to help my children find theirs.

I could define my children by what they found hard to do, or I could allow them to define themselves by that which they excel at, by that which they feel called to do, by that which makes their heart sing. I could raise my children to believe that they lacked something, or I could raise them to believe that their resilience, the love in their hearts and the talents they were born with, were more than enough.

We could have focused on their needs, but we chose to focus on that which makes them special.

 And as beautiful as this may sound, I would be a huge hypocrite if I didn’t tell you too, that it wasn’t easy. Not because I couldn’t see the light inside my own children, because that was the easy part. That’s pretty much a gene that gets inserted into us when we become mothers.

No, the difficult thing was setting the example, because I had no idea what made me or my work, special. 

I understand my clients

because I was in their shoes a while ago

I was 100% aware of that which I was not good at, and I grew up ashamed of not being excellent at everything. For years, I felt undeserving of success, because I was not perfect. And I grew up thinking that being proud of what I did well, was bragging.

Perhaps you can relate?

I want you to know what makes you special

I want you to step into your own power.

This is why I’d like to share with you a resource I’ve only shared with my clients until now, and that is part of series of explorations that we do when we start working together.

It’s a short test called Stand-Out. I found out about it through B-school and, when I read the results, I felt I had found a radiography to my soul. I was amazed at how it reflected the things that people had always praised me about-and that I had discarded because I was used to not thinking of myself as worthy of praise.

The link I’m sharing with you goes to LeanIn, because there there’s a code to take the test for free.

In the next few blog posts, we’ll explore how to bring personality to your photos, and how to use your photos as a tool to connect on a deeper level to your audience. But, in order to use the techniques I’ll share with you to their highest potential, you need to first know what’s your secret sauce.

So go ahead, take the test, and then come back and share your results in the comments.

Let’s celebrate, together,  our talents, and our greatness.

If you found this post useful, please share it! Let’s build a World where everybody’s talents can shine!

 

New beginnings

CONSTANT BEAUTIFUL CHANGE

 

18 months ago, my life changed, and this blog changed as a result of that.  18 months ago I moved from being a hobby blogger, documenting parts of my mothering journey with Luka and Zoe into the world of professional photography.

What once was a hobby, done in stolen hours for 4 years, became my work. Where I once was my only boss, I had clients.

I was catapulted into this new reality by a combination of luck, heap tons of passion and a mad will to transform our lives. And I began this journey at a very chaotic and confusing parenting time, when we had to pull out Luka and Zoe from school and start homeschooling them due to the stress caused by lack of integration and provision for their special needs in the previous institution.

My work was more than a way to make money during those months: It was my lifeline. My connection to creativity, service and beauty, yes. But also my connection to who I am, besides a mother.  When I look at the photos I took during those months, I see them as a symbol of rebirth.

My work changed and our lives changed with it.

It was sudden. It was exhausting at times. And it was beautiful.

I learned about myself, my relationship with money*, my emotional barriers to success and how to smash them*, how to shoot for conversions, how to understand my clients needs and provide for them, how to price my services* , how NOT to price my services. I made mistakes, I did things right. I grew. I changed.

Blogging about the same things I had been blogging seemed artificial- my life did not revolve anymore around crafts and parties and recipes for my kids. And because I don’t do fake and I didn’t know what new direction to take, I stopped blogging altogether. I went into a thinking cave while I reflected on what to do, but because time for reflection was scarce…months passed by, and then a year, and then more.

And then, I won a scholarship for B-school

When B-school opened for enrollment, back in February, I knew I had to apply for a scholarship. I felt in my heart that it was the right program for me, and it was exactly the right time to apply. Oh boy, it was.

During 8 weeks, I had the opportunity to completely rethink what I was doing and where I wanted to go with my business. To develop a long term vision, to analyze what was working and what not. What I had done right and loved doing. What was driving me crazy and had to let go of. What would help me build, not only a business I could love, but a life I could adore. 

And now it’s time to starting putting all that into action

So without further ado, let me walk you through some changes that are starting now.

NEW CONSULTING SERVICES

Up until now, working with me was only possible for those who could afford,  and were willing to invest in custom photography.

But there are times when you need direction about your visual presence. You need someone to ask questions about what type of photos suit your business objectives, what you should consider when planning your photography, or even how to make the most of your camera.  Courses and google only go so far.

So I am now offering 45 minute clarity sessions with me, where you can ask me anything about photography and visual content. Go ahead, pick my brain!

COMPLIMENTARY BONUSES TO MY PHOTOGRAPHIC SERVICES

Us, entrepreneurs and freelancers, are bombarded with information and in charge of a million things on a daily basis. We don’t just need to delegate some tasks: we also need strategy and clarity as to the next steps.

This is why, when you hire me as your photographer, I place great care in helping you define your visual voice, and developing a strategy for your photos to connect with your ideal customers and convert them into fans and revenue. And that’s not all. I also provide you with assistance and guidance on how to use the photos so that you can make the most of your investment. Heart-infused creativity + nerdy strategy + soulful inspiration: that’s what it’s all it about.

Craving more details? Go here.

A NEW ABOUT PAGE

Wanna get to know the girl behind the lens? Now you can get a glimpse at who I am, without reading a whole lot of blog posts.

Go here to read about what I believe in, what I love, and a few other curious things about me, myself and I.

It’s ok to be curious.

QUESTIONS GET ANSWERS

I have compiled a list of the most common questions I get about my services, my gear, my journey.

Wanna know what camera I use, whether you can pay with credit card and if consulting with me can help your business? Go here.

 

 

 

REVIEWED LEGAL TERMS

I am a lawyer who believes in “ayurvedic law”, a term I coined to mean law that prevents conflicts. In Spanish we say “reglas claras conservan la amistad” : clear rules maintain our friendship.

I value your trust and your privacy and I request the same from you. So I have updated this site’s legal terms and conditions my privacy policy and added a very important disclaimer on affiliate links.

Please read them, so our relationship can grow on firm basis and with clear understandings.

 A REVAMPED SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

I took the time to really evaluate which social media outlets resonate with me, and where it would be easier and more fun for us to hang out together. I think about social media as an extension of my business, as the informal place where we get to meet and greet. Being a photographer and a very visual person, I chose instagram and pinterest as my main hangouts. And just when I thought that was going to be it, periscope arrived and it’s so much fun!

So here’s how it’ll work: follow me on instagram for a daily chit-chat. Follow me on pinterest for inspiration (extra bonus if you write me an email to marcela@marcelamacias.com and tell me what you need, so I can curate content for you). Follow me on periscope  at @celebr_girl for backstage passes to my studio, and quick tips on visual strategy.

Where do you hangout?

INSTAGRAM

PINTEREST

PERISCOPE

AND THERE’S MORE TO COME!

I told you B-school had created a revolution in my business! I’m working non-stop on some very cool new projects that I can’t wait to share with you. Projects that I’ve designed to ease your way into the Christmas season so that your business can make the most of it-and you can still bake cookies and sip some eggnog with the family.

So, if you are not a part of my community, make sure to hop on it now on the box below to be the first to know about what’s coming!

Now tell me, what have you been up?

____________

* Affiliate links (two of them lead to free opt-in material). Don’t like to click on affiliate links? Click here for a non affiliate alternative. Click here to learn about my affiliate link policy.

Celebrating Life is Messy Kitchen

COVER-LIMKI can’t even begin to explain how I feel today. If you could peek inside my heart, all you would see is sheer joy.

Today, Life is Messy Kitchen comes out into the World for all of you to see and enjoy. For all of you to cook with and play in the kitchen. Your kitchen: the real, beautifully messy place where you cook for your families. The place where you will make these recipes your own, cooking with your kids, your husband, your mum, your friends…your loved ones.

Life is Messy Kitchen is the first cookbook I photographed. The first job I had as a professional photographer. The first job in which I got to collaborate with an amazing team of professionals who put their heart and soul into bringing this book to life and making it not just a cookbook, but a work of art.

PicMonkey Collage4

 Life is Messy Kitchen is a work of love, and a tribute to messy lives, to things that don’t go according to plan, to tough moments and getting through to the other side. It’s a tribute to friendship and professionalism. A tribute to getting things done to the very best of our ability, no matter what. A tribute to getting back in our feet when life knocks us down, and a powerful statement about the huge power of dreams.

Life is Messy Kitchen is a work of art, because it has over 100 of Mayi Carles amazingly cute, melt-your-heart- funny illustrations, over 200 photographs taken by yours truly, and because it was designed and art directed by the sheer genius of Marbel Canseco who transformed it into a book you will most definitely want in your coffee table, into a book your kids will love, into a book that is bound to inspire you and that you will treasure for years to come.

This book is pure eye-candy and it makes my heart beat faster just knowing that I got to be a part of it.

PicMonkey Collage5

And Life is Messy Kitchen is an amazing cookbook. I should know, because I made each and every one of the 115 recipes it contains-many of them several times. The recipes, my friends are nutritious, beautiful and, most of all,delicious. As in seriously delicious. And they work. 

Because you know those books full of pretty photos but with recipes that are just impossible to make? The ones with  cakes that  flop, with cupcakes taste like cardboard and the ones where you can never get anything to look as in its pages? This is NOT one of those books.

Each of the Life is Messy Kitchen recipes was made in my family kitchen, styled in a way you may style them at home, without tricks that  would make them pretty but inedible, and photographed exclusively with natural light.

What you see is what you get.

And what you get is wonderful. I promise.

PicMonkey Collage6

The book comes in 3 versions :the digital pack, which includes the full pdf and an interactive guide, the print book (to be shipped in March), and the big bundle, which includes the digital pack, the print edition and an adorable coloring book that was Zoe’s delight when I was photographing it and even comes with bonus printable  cards and gift tags.

zoe coloring tea rexbis

 

zoe coloring tea rex_4bis

AND! AND! AND!  All versions include also super cute printable menu planners, grocery lists and recipe cardsillustrated and designed by Mayi herself, and access to a community of messy kitchen owners and recipe lovers, just like you and me :)

So, my dear friend, come celebrate with me!

-Visit http://www.lifeismessykitchen.com/, check the book’s preview (wiii) , tell me what you think (fingers crossed that you’ll like it)!

– Tell me your messy kitchen stories in the comments below!

– Follow the hashtag #lifeismessykitchen on twitter and instagram not to miss any of the launch party activities-it’s going to be fun, and there are going to be prizes!

– Promise me that you’ll join us for the Life is Messy Kitchen live call (subscribe below to be notified about the exact date and time!)

– If  you would like to see the “making of” of this book-well at least how the book was photographed- keep your eyes open because I’ll tell you all about it in my next post!

Have a beautiful Tuesday!

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