Since I was a little girl I have struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Anxiety attacks. As fellow anxiety sufferers will know - at the heart of anxiety is a fear of losing control.
One photographer’s journey from landscape to documentary style people photography.
The end of adventure. That's what happened to us when our precious, beautiful, crying, sensitive and colicky baby was born. There was no more sleep, no more energy and certainly no more landscape photographs. Hardly any photographs at all actually.
When I was pregnant I started watching any and all video tutorials online about newborn photography, how to pose them, how to dress them, props you need and everything in between. I decided I was going to become the next most incredible newborn photographer there ever was!
Anna-Liisa Nixon is a Hollywood based photographer, who grew up in such diverse places as Moscow, Japan and New York City. She describes herself as someone who loves finding beauty in the ordinary, humor in the chaos, and love in the heartache, and she's guiding our next 10 day crash course, Dead Funny, finding humour and composition among the chaos. We were keen to know more about this talented lady, so asked her a few questions.
What are your earliest memories of creating art/making photography?
I distinctly remember being in preschool and loving drawing and painting and wanting to be an artist when I grew up. I continued painting pretty much up until I started having kids and one day I’ll get back to it.
Why do you make documentary images?
I make documentary images because I don’t know how to pose people. Just kidding! (But not really.) I truly believe that real life is much more interesting than anything you can plan or set up. I also have a really awful memory and I know how quickly life can change. I love the idea of documentary images as a tangible time capsule of each little phase of life, something that can trigger memories and remind us of what certain times really felt like.
We all have different strengths in the art & business of photography - what is yours?
I’d say that my strength is in getting kids to feel comfortable and be themselves with me. I have a calm and unassuming presence and I tend to speak to kids of all ages like they’re my equal, if that makes sense.
Can you tell us about the crash course you are teaching with Rock Paper Scissors starting this month?
My crash course is called Dead Funny: Finding Humour Among the Chaos. Over the 10 days, you'll learn about different types of humor and comedic tools and really get thinking about what you find funny so you can see it more easily when you’re shooting families. It’s also about training your brain to think ahead and anticipate funny moments before they happen. Finally, it’s about composing images to clearly show the viewer what is funny. The point of the course is to make stronger and more consistent funny images that can help your ideal clients—the ones who share similar senses of humor and perspectives in life—connect with you.
If you could take any other course in the Rock Paper Scissors Programme, which one would you choose, and why?
I would take Ash & Lia's workshop “Earn Some Damn Money” because I am struggling to make my business work!
What surprises people about you?
I think people are surprised to learn that I’m very shy. I can come off as cold or aloof when first meeting people, but I’m actually just awkward and shy.
What makes you laugh and how do you make others laugh?
I laugh at silly things like Stepbrothers and Sacha Baron Cohen movies, I love a good pun, and I appreciate slightly twisted and dark humor. I make people laugh with my witty comments and deadpan delivery. Register for my course and you’ll find out more!
Any party tricks we should know about?
Hmmm. I think I can probably eat my full body weight in cake. Does that count?
What would be your dream super power and why?
Without a doubt, I would want the ability to become invisible. I love watching people. I find people fascinating. I think I probably like watching people more than I like talking to them. I like seeing how other people navigate the most mundane parts of life. We all brush our teeth. But maybe you do it slightly differently than I do. That’s interesting to me. Or maybe we do it exactly the same weird way. That’s also interesting to me. So I would want to be invisible so that I could spy on people!
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) used to make me feel quite overwhelmed. But as the introvert that I am, with practically zero connections in my local area, I was determined to climb the Google ranks in order to get found by my ideal clients.
While there are a ton of things you can do to increase your SEO, there are also some practices we have that may hinder your Google search climb.
Let's take a look at 3 SEO No-nos so you can stay in the Google Game:
1. Do not keep changing your domain name
The longer your website domain's history is, the better – it’s kind of like building up your credit! Google wants to give priority to quality sites that have been up longer – the “new guy” will have to prove their worth by sticking around.
Changing your website domain also takes away the SEO juice from links out there that are directed towards your old website.
2. Do not link to your top level pages
Top level pages – pages that the top navigation menu has links to – should not be continuously linked to in your content. These are typically your home page, about page, contact page, portfolio etc. It is SO TEMPTING to add something along the lines of “Book your session here!” with a link to your contact page at the end of every blog post, but Google doesn’t like piling on links that people can already find at the top.
Instead, focus on linking back to relevant blog posts you’ve written previously that make sense with the subject matter you are writing about. For example I might blog a client Fresh 48 session, and add “Check out this article on what a documentary Fresh 48 session is” at the bottom of the blog post.
3. Do not write like a robot
Everything you write should sound natural to humans - don’t force a jumble of keywords into your first blog post paragraph.
Instead, think of what is relevant for the client to know, write your heart out, and then go back and evaluate if you can add some keywords in there in natural ways (and whole sentences). I like to hit the location as well as what type of session it is. You could have “Gaby's newborn session in San Jose” as the post title and start off your post with “Gaby’s parents wanted an infant session while she was still in a sleepy snuggly stage, so I headed over to their home one sunny San Jose morning”. Google has gotten good at making connections between synonyms, and will know that newborn and infant refer to the same thing.
That’s all I have for you today!
Join me and fellow documentary family photographers for the 4 week mentored workshop Play The Google Game starting October 4th, to kick some serious SEO butt!
San Jose based newborn and family photographer Jenna Christina will guide you through multiple steps that help you climb that Google search ladder so that you can get steady local traffic to your site – without paying for marketing. In the last week Seattle based family photographer Rachel Haynes will show you how keeping track of your analytics will help you really kick your google game into high gear.
Even as small businesses, us photographers need to have a brand identity in order to know how and where to market effectively, to be remembered and to create an experience for our clients.
Figuring out and developing your brand identity is a process that can take some time and cost some money. Eeek! And as busy photographers and business owners, that may seem like a luxury we can do without. But the truth is, without a brand, you don't have a business.
Nikki Sherouse-Smith is a Florida based photographer, mom to a teenager and a threenager, military spouse of 18 years, who has to up and move house every couple of years and start her family life and business in a new location each time. Nikki knows her stuff when it comes to organising her days and getting stuff done. So she was the natural choice to guide our first "Rock" course, "Get Your Sh*t Together".
Tania is one of those people that you just can't help liking. Not only is she downright beautiful with perfect poise, she is funny, kind, thoughtful and intelligent. As well as running her own production company, Tania is a Vogue contributor and is regularly featured on National Geographic's Your Shot.
YES, It's true! We are giving away
ONE FREE SEMESTER PASS!
The winner will have full access to all 4 ten day crash courses and all 8 four week workshops in the entire Semester from August 2017 until February 2018. With the Semester Pass, you will learn how to:
- get every aspect of your business in order from your branding, website, social media presence, google ranking, pricing, sales, customer service and business systems
- manage your time & balance your life
- face and work through your fears
- find your artistic voice and refine your portfolio
- find the funny moments in your work
- understand the role of journalism and truth in your storytelling
- explore and attract new areas of work including your local tourism market and birth photojournalism.
Bought separately, these courses are worth over €3400 and with the Semester Pass they are available at 50% off for just €1870. You'll get to keep all the written materials and videos to look at in your own time and refer to as and when you need. If you want to be a badass photographer in every aspect of your business and soon, then the Semester Pass is for you.
For your chance to win this prize, just enrol for any of the following workshops by Wednesday 9th August 2017:
or invest in a Semester Pass
Hip hip hooray! We are super excited to be kicking off the 2017 Fall/Winter Semester, with the following workshops, all starting in August 2017.
First up are these two 4 week mentored workshops. All seats are full participation and our Guides work closely with you to ensure that you grow and develop over the 4 weeks and that the workshops make a real difference to your life, your art and your business.
GET YOUR SH*T TOGETHER - starts 14th August, 2017
Before you set about growing and developing your art and your business, its critical to get good foundations for your life in place. Too often, we just work around the clock trying to achieve a never-ending to-do list. Its not sustainable and life is to be enjoyed.
Nikki & Lia will work on personally with all students on this 4 week mentored workshop to ensure that you have a strategy in place for achieving your goals, staying on track and not being side-lined by other people's agenda's and distractions.
By the end of the workshop, you will have the tools to be more organized and find more balance in your life and you will be armed with strategies that will help you run your day instead of letting it run you. You will know how to Get Sh*t Done.
Enrol for Get Your Sh*t Together here: https://www.dfpeducation.com/rock#/get-it-together/
FIND YOUR OWN VOICE - starts 14th August, 2017
As more and more photographers enter the genre of documentary family photographer, it is not enough to distinguish yourself purely on the basis that you work in a documentary approach. Others will be too. So you need to develop and hone your personal photographic voice.
Tania & Steffi will work closely with you over this 4 week mentored workshop, showing you where to find inspiration, how to hone in on what YOU are drawn to, and the role of experimentation and personal projects in finding your unique photographic voice. By the end of this course, you will have made strides towards that ultimate goal of people seeing your work and knowing immediately that it is yours before seeing your name.
Enrol here for Find Your Own Voice: https://www.dfpeducation.com/scissors#/find-your-voice/
INSTAGRAM FOR DOCUMENTARY FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHERS - starts 28th August 2017
Lindyn is a visual brand strategist, photographer and successful business owner. She knows her stuff when it comes to social media and specifically Instagram. In this 10 day crash course, she is going to get you to stop faffing about on Instagram and instead show you strategies for using it as an effective business tool to showcase your work, attract and book clients.
Enrol here for Instagram for DFP: https://www.dfpeducation.com/paper#/insta-for-dfp/
Pop the champagne corks, because we cut the virtual ribbon on our brand new resources library, where you can access all sorts of goodies: mini-e-books, guides, pdfs, templates and checklists that will help you in all aspects of your life, art and business.
Best of all the library (like all good libraries) is FREE!! Yes, free. And (in the words of the great Homer Simpson), it costs no money.
Over the coming months and years, we will add more and more resources to the library so that it becomes a go to resource for everyone from newbies to experienced pros in the DFP community.
Access the library here: https://www.dfpeducation.com/library-access-signup
Have fun & let us know in the comments, what you would love to see. Afterall, this is YOUR library.
Ash, Lia & the DFP Library Team
Welcome to the Rock Paper Scissors education platform, peer-to-peer education designed specifically for documentary family photographers BY documentary family photographers.
WHAT DOES PEER-TO-PEER EDUCATION MEAN?
Well, we're glad you asked ;)
The problem is that here is SO much to get your head around when running a photography business: technical, artistic, managing a business, marketing, client care, IT, SEO, google analytics, time management, processes, setting up a website, branding, writing your website content, blogging, using social media, the list is endless. And overwhelming. It is impossible to be an expert in every single aspect - no one is.
But what we realised on establishing the worldwide community of documentary family photographers, was that together, between us, there was a huge depth of knowledge, each person having certain areas of expertise that was their "thing".
What if, we thought, we could bring together that knowledge, under one platform, and TRULY enable photographers to succeed in their business.
What if those teaching weren't famous, but really did know their area of expertise? What if, we could support them to guide others, and help grow everyone's businesses?
And so Rock Paper Scissors was born.
And we are thrilled to present our schedule for the first semester running from August 2017 until January 2018.
Detailed information about all of the workshops and crash courses can be found here:
We hope you join us on this journey & are successful in your DFP businesses.
Ash & Lia