Sunday, January 27, 2013

Business Issues (aka dear diary)

Owning a business is awesome yet is a pain too. I'm always working. ALWAYS!
I bought a camera before the end of the year, so that means I didn't profit last year (for tax purposes, that was the plan). I was really fine with that and was ready to profit this year and pay quarterly taxes and everything, but let me tell you my issues of this month.

1) My 50mm 1.4 lens broke. I didn't know it was broken but felt really really dumb when my camera wouldn't focus on a friend who needed pre-modeling pics to send in to an agency. I did it for free so didn't feel as bad, but was like "this has never happened before, I'm so sorry." I tried focusing it by hand but that didn't work. I had to back way up to get it to grab anything to focus on, and I was focusing on contrast and in different lights too, both against my white house then against my white fence. I tried switching between camera bodies too. I still thought it was just having a bad day so tried again at my office's photo shoot but it wasn't focusing on the doctors either. I finally asked a friend to look at it and he showed me that it was getting stuck when it tried to focus up closer than 4 feet. So I took it to the camera repair shop b/c OF COURSE it was 2 weeks out of warranty. I didn't drop or bang it and have no clue why it stopped working! The repair man said that IF he could fix it, it would be about $140 for the part. It's a $340 lens (before tax and shipping) so I will probably get it fixed along with the other lens that I did drop.

2) I'm extra busy. I took December off, sort of. I did pictures for my step-sister Julie and her family. I still haven't gone through all of those b/c I'm crazy busy this month!!
We got new wonderful missionaries before Christmas so I took their head shots. (Free of course.)

I took pre-modeling pics that can't be edited so I did those for free even though she wanted them rushed back then had me re-size each of them and asked if I could do a tiny bit of retouching on them. (free b/c I thought it would be no work at all.)

I had a real beach maternity session, a referral from a friend. That was great except instead of the mini session, we went way over so it was so hard to narrow down the pics they would want. I'm SO happy that I'm doing a shorter session option b/c now I really can only do 10-13 images and don't worry about doing freebies or extras. It's just the cream of the crop images and I don't have to spend as much time editing! I did try to get this family to upgrade b/c there were honestly a lot more wow shots, but that's fine b/c I'm busy any way. Click here for their blog post. (I just made a custom app for their top 12 images, I took the most risque one out. Click here for the custom app!)

I've been working really hard and a lot of hours as the go between for my boss and other companies who are helping see my ideas come to fruition. I'm happy and feel of worth, but it's so time consuming! Along with that, I did a shoot at my boss's office along with setting up a video shoot by my friend. I haven't gone through those b/c she hasn't paid for the session yet and paying clients get priority. Actually, I'll do one now.
Then, when I was almost to Isaac's gymnastics class, another photographer called me to tell me that a different photographer had stolen one of my images and claimed it as her own. I stuck my lawyers on her with a scary cease and desist letter and she took it down, but that took a lot of time and energy out of me. I blogged it here.

I did another paid shoot downtown, a fun session for a guy's e-portfolio. We had fun brainstorming ideas and he went with my ideas which included asking for him to bring along his friends! Again, my lens was not working close up so I had to back up but with the new camera, the files are huge so it's fine when I crop in. This client found me through a google search and chose me when I paid for his lead through Thumbtack. He said that I was more creative and got his jokes:)

I did a little mini session hoping just for one picture of my own boys to use as their Valentines.
(See, I never edit my own boys' pics here. I did NOT choose the above pic, but that's what they wore. This is from half way on our jog at Seminole Park. We took a little break and I had my camera in the stroller and attempted a different pic. It didn't work - on so many levels. Wanna hear my own CC? Awkward pose. No light in eyes. Under exposed (I can fix that though). All on same level when it'd be easy to do a triangle w/ 3 subjects!. Not real smiles or even real expressions. Awkward posture. Isaac's hair is too flat forward. Dylan's bad barber hair cut is showing (who cuts strait across?!) I chopped through Isaac's fingers at a knuckle, I heard I should never amputate something at a joint. Isaac's collar is messed up. But other than that, it's a good memory and therefore family blog worthy!

I did a mini shoot for Corrie's kids to get one picture of the 3 of them and one of Malia to use for their Valentines too. (Free but not when you think about it, she watches my kids way more hours than I watch hers and my kids don't nap for as long or even at all sometimes.)

I took pictures for a friend for his fiance's 30th birthday dinner a couple of days ago. He rented out a big room at Cafe Ponte. I did this for free too b/c he gave me a nice lens a couple of years ago in exchange for me taking pics of his graduation party. Guess what, I no-showed. I thought it was the next weekend and when I checked my calendar to see exactly what time and to finalize details I was devastated to see that it was the day before. I owe him big time, so this was a good way to finally pay my debt to him. It was easy too, I knew my limitations with my lens by then the room was HUGE, and I just gave him both of my camera cards so that he could edit them how he wanted. He's a photographer too, but of awesome HD landscapes. He knew that I don't take indoor photos but was happy to not have to be the one with the camera for once. Maybe I'll add a pic from that later, but he has my camera cards still. I was supposed to have a tea party maternity session yesterday but the baby needed to be monitored so the mommy cancelled. I was sad of course b/c I was so excited for out tea party theme. It was going to be so perfect. But I was a tiny bit relieved b/c I am backed up and the downtown session asked me to get him his pics sooner b/c his e-portfolio is due in a couple of days. (He had been fine with my original time frame of two weeks before.)
I also planned my boss's 40th birthday GNO party and took some cheapo iphone pics that I haven't emailed out to the guests yet.

And I gave a talk in church which took some of my late night editing hours away from me. I'll blog that later. I'm also fighting off a cold, but I expected that, I've been up late almost every night! And now, late means after 4am. It used to mean around 2am. I do go to bed when the red "PM" indicator dot on my alarm clock is still on once or twice/week. That little dot is a treat:)

3) My new camera's pictures are too big for my photoshop CS3! This is my normal work flow. This is HUGE if you're a new photog! My secrets: Shoot in RAW + jpg. Upload to a dated folder in my ffp 2013 folder. Open in Adobe Bridge. Sort by file name. Slideshow through all of the images as a quick once over. Give 1 star to the rejects, both RAW and JPG. Give 3 stars to the maybe ones (usually the JPG file only) or funny ones that are not up to ffp standard (so they don't get lost/forgotten). Give 4 stars to the RAW possibilities. Give 5 stars to the RAW ones I LOVE and want to edit right then and there. Sort by rating. Delete all 1 stars. Edit 5 stars or go to bed and work on it in two days. Go through the 4 stars and delete some stars and just keep the best ones starred. (The majority of my pics get no stars.) Click on whatever pic I'm ready to edit and do the basic stuff in Adobe Camera Raw then it imports it into Adobe Photoshop where I spend at least an hour per pic usually. After I'm done editing all of the pics I chose, I sort by date modified. I move those into a "processed" folder. And if I'm not too tired, I upload them to a gallery and/or blog them. As I go, I sometimes sneak some to my ffp facebok page and see if the client will comment. Oddly, not all do.

Anyway, so now that the files are too big, I can't see the RAW thumbnails in Bridge. I can't open them in Camera Raw or in Photoshop! I re-uploaded Camera Raw to the right plug in folder only to then find out that I need to upgrade my photoshop. I haven't had this one that long! Why is it so expensive?! It's more than my camera I just saved for. I know that I could use lightroom for the initial stuff, but that's not part of my workflow!! I do have lightroom and tried messing with it and read the Scott Kelby book but then got frustrated b/c it's not speeding me up now at all. So I deleted most of my new RAW images. They're huge anyway. I CAN edit jpgs and many photogs do, but I'm not liking these images as much as I like my old camera's images.

4) I wore out and stretched out the rubber ring around the top roller thingy on my wireless mouse. But it works w/o it so I'm okay. It's just one more hurdle.

On the bright side, I can still edit jpgs. I love that I have something to offer to re-pay Corrie. I've been having friends over and have gone to other friends' houses for play dates. I don't have this cold as bad as Isaac, Tyler, or Steven (who has the ultimate legit Man cold and still has to go to work tomorrow b/c it's his first day in his new position, oh yea, he got promoted!!) But I'm thinking about opening up a credit card just for ffp. I have to fix at least one of my 50mm lenses. I seriously need another lens (but it's over $2,000). It's really going to get to me that I can't use the RAW files so I'll have to upgrade to the next Photoshop. And I'll need to buy another mouse. But my clients love me and are booking early and are understanding that they have to pay more and I'm learning how to say no and am referring people to other local photographers.

So this was either an informative post or so boring and confusing. But I needed to document this I think!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"play at home mom"

Kids love structure. Kids love to learn. Moms love well behaved smart kids. But it takes some work! One of my new year's resolutions is to plan more for my kids, that includes both at home activities and fun with their friends. I've done pretty well, I visited my friends and have had friends over. And I am attempting to have the kids and myself clean up after our specific toys/messes/activities. 

So I didn't plan anything specific last Friday, but knew that I'd have all 6 kids over since there was no school. I planned on staying off of my computer and wanted to be engaged with the kids the whole day. They started playing together in the living room. Isaac went in time out twice before Corrie left when she was dropping her 3 off. I don't remember why, but sometimes the kids exclude one or more of each other. And they sometimes don't want the babies to mess up their set ups. Corrie suggested that I separate the kids so it's just two on two on two. I figured I'd keep that as a back up plan. These kids are stuck to one another for life and maybe forever, so they need to get along. Plus, they need to get along with others too. One thing about growing up being home schooled, I really didn't get it why people asked me what grade I was in or how old I was. Who cares? We can all be friends. We hung out with our neighbor guy at the end of the street, the younger kids next door, and the even younger kids to our other side. Of course some activities are better suited for certain age groups, but playing with superheroes and cars is an all age kind of activity. Anyway, I had them clean up while we listened to some Pandora dance song then I asked them to all go to the table. I pulled the extra strong Poppin magnets off of the fridge and got another stack out of my craft box. Then, they couldn't believe it, but I got them an entire box of big nails! They first promised they'd put them ALL away after keeping them on the table only. I found a box of screws and gave them to them under the same condition. I didn't give them out evenly. I let them figure it out. That's another thing I've been saying lately. If one kid whines, I ask them if they can figure it out or if they need me to intervene. They have chosen both. Also, when one kid claims it's his turn for something, I ask the same question and if they want me to intervene, then I tell the needy kid that the other kid is a great sharer and that I'm sure that he'll share once he's done with it. Instead of me putting a time limit on the turn, sometimes they'll ask me to time it or they'll hand it over, or they won't. But at least they're learning how to figure out their own problems and not needing a mommy all the time. (Of course I intervene before requested when it's important.)

So here's Tyler, yes I even let the babies play with nails and screws and choking hazard-sized magnets. Luckily neither Tyler nor Ivy are big into putting everything into their mouths. I know I shouldn't jinx it, but some kids put everything in their mouths. These two might try it and I can never assume they won't, but with supervision, why not let these kids have fun! 
Last year, Isaac and I did Joy School with 3 other kids. I'd have play areas and stations pre-set up. We'd learn new songs, bake bread or granola, go on nature walks, etc. I'm going to get those lesson plans back out. It's just that his other friends now go to preschool or Kindergarten now so there's nobody else who stays home who wants to do the co-op with me now.
 This kept these kids occupied for at least an hour.
 So proud.
 Can you tell I was practicing with my new camera? (AND the focus is broken. It's going to cost like $150 to get it fixed, but the lense was way over $300, so I guess I'm going to pay it. It looks like another no-profit year for FFP.)

Then, the weather warmed up so I had the kids put on real clothes. That's another area where I let them decide what to wear. I care sometimes, but not often. Isaac caught a lizard. Malia was so excited b/c she knew that they would be easier to catch on a cooler morning b/c they're cold blooded. 
 She's the self-proclaimed leader of the pack. Some follow.
 I love that all 6 kids were so interested in the poor lizard.
 Tyler even held him for a bit. No pictures of course, thank goodness this camera is on a leash around my neck so I can drop it to save lizards.
Here's my lovely view from my kitchen window. 
Then it was nap time. Noah, the babies, and I took a little nap. Noah and the babies took a longer nap. I set up the Valentine's station for the kids since my mom was sending a package to my brother soon. It's Valentine's Day and his birthday coming up. I set out stuff and let them at it while I slept. They made awesome cards! They even found our stash of hidden Halloween candy and made special trap doors in the cards with candy for their uncle. They didn't eat any themselves b/c they waited to ask me. What good kids! And yes I believe them. I wish I took pictures of the sweet cards. Malia made a card for her Mamaw too.

Once the Crews left, it was time for homework. 
I had Isaac work on a random workbook that we have. He worked on adding and subtracting. 
We used Tyler's bristle blocks for items to count. 
 I helped a little with this, but he got the idea.
 Then a week later, there was NO order in the house. (And no pictures to prove it, my hands were full.) I invited a bunch of moms over, some had kids, some didn't, some had their kids plus extras. Some I had never met before! The last time I had people over, I wanted everybody to just be outside, but that didn't happen. So I didn't expect that this time. I want my house to be a fun house for my kids and their friends so that they'll want to be home so I can keep an eye on them. I figure I should start now. Plus it's crazy getting out with all of them, so to see my awesome friends, I have them come to me:) Let me count how many people came. Me + 4, Kim + 1, Jefra + 2, Rachel + 4 (2 friends), Chelsea + 2 or 3, Bridget + 1, Dori + 1, Liz + 1, Jodi + 3, Nancy + 3, Elisabeth + 1, Yvonne + 1 (It was her birthday!!), Jessica + 1, and my visiting teacher, Robin + 1 = 40 or 41 people over!! I made frog eye salad and had some M&Ms then most others brought food too although I didn't want anybody to feel obligated at ALL. Dori even made a quiche from scratch from the eggs from her chickens! She's such a good cook always with fresh ingredients.

Anyway, I had these pictures already but saw something on the "Play At Home Mom"'s Facebook page that reminded me of this. And I still need to do more planning and rule making.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brave. 6 kids at a park.

Rachel and Kimberly invited me. I didn't know if I would go or not, but Corrie had taken the kids to the park by herself the day before, so I figured I could do it with my friends there. These kids are so good. I love that they have one another.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Hey Mom, it's raining!"

"Do we have to go in now?"
 Just now on the Today Show, there was a segment on how to entertain kids indoors this winter b/c the weather is so bad. HA! We're outside almost all day and every evening now. Even the rain isn't cold.

Friday, January 4, 2013

NYE, welcome 2013!

 On New Year's Eve, I had all 6 kids over. Luiz and Barbie came over for a while in the morning. Luiz gave all 6 kids presents! Awesome! He's a good uncle to his real nephews/nieces and a good one to our kids too. Noah asked if he could go in the pool. It was a warm day so I said yes. I didn't think he'd really do it. But once he got his swimsuit on, I knew he would. He did his usual happy dance first, then jumped right in. Luiz was more worried about the kids than I was. Like he moved Ivy out of the way of one of the kids' swinging/dangling feet by the swing set.
 Noah went back in though.

 And so did Malia.
After nap time, we had "kid midnight" and watched the ball drop (youTube from last year) at 9:30pm with my kids at my mom's house. She gets youTube on her big TB. They watched "Hook" and I was able to put Tyler to bed there. He slept through the night and Dylan and Isaac slept on the couch bed. 
I met up with "The New Fegers" after they had gone to Bone Fish Grill for dinner. I got dressed up for the occassion. Darren dressed down since we weren't going out and he was planning on a sleep over. We all put  hats on and had a fun dance party. Andre spun me 'til we both fell over!
And lit Andre's Christmas tree on fire.

Barbie cooked, as usual. Yummy!

Happy New Year!!