Tell us a little about yourself/your business.
I started Sweet Little You Photography in 2011 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I specialize in newborns and maternity and teach newborn mentoring with my sister, Lindsey. I have won a couple awards in the photography contest at the Iowa State Fair. I have had a few magazine features too but nothing I can think of specifically :)
What are you most known for?
I think I'm most known for my froggy pose and for my dreamy edits.
How long have you been mentoring?
I've been mentoring since 2014.
What all is including in your mentoring and what kind of experience do your students receive?
Mentoring sessions include a demonstration of my full newborn posing workflow with extra emphasis on areas that my students would like to see improvement in. I allow them to take photos, and I will critique and help with their angles. I meet with my students before the mentoring session to discuss their weaknesses and if they have any poses they'd like extra help with. I also allow them to post images from the mentoring session to their social media pages and website. Students are also added to my private mentoring group on Facebook for continued education.
At what point did you go from seeing yourself as someone who enjoys taking photos as a hobby to seeing yourself as a photographer?
It was when my oldest son was about 2 years old. I worked full time as a graphic designer at the time, but I got tired of working for a corporation and decided to take the leap into photography full time.
What is your learning objective for your students?
It depends on the individual student, but I love to see improvement in posing and a more efficient session workflow. I absolutely love seeing the first photos my students take AFTER completing a mentoring session with me.
Do you offer in person or online mentoring or both?
I only offer in-person mentoring at this time.
Tell us about your gear and your one must-have lens.
I shoot with a Canon 5d Mark 3. If I had to choose just one must-have lens, it would be the Sigma 35 Art.
Who in the industry do you look up to and why?
I've always really admired the work of Kelley Ryden and Tracy Raver. I'm so inspired by their creative, innovative posing and use of props in a timeless, classy way.
What do you do when you feel unmotivated or uninspired?
I take a little break and spend some extra time with my kiddos or go on a road trip with my sister. Sometimes I'll do a just-for-fun project that's totally different from newborn photography like underwater photos.
What do you think is the most challenging part about being a photographer in today's industry, and what do you do to overcome those challenges?
Feeling like you have to compete with everyone. My best friends are literally all local photographers, and I love it. Building each other up and helping each other improve actually improves the market in your area and also your reputation. I see too many photographers getting jealous or trying to tear down their competitors. It doesn't work that way.
What is your personal measure of success as a photographer?
The fact that I keep improving. I look at my work from just a few months ago and see improvement. I never want to get stuck in my ways and stop growing.
What do you look for in your locations when seeking the "perfect" spot for your sessions?
I'm kind of partial to indoor sessions in my studio, but for outdoor sessions I like prairies with trees to the west and open sky to the east - in the evenings.
What do you believe is the best marketing tool for photographers to attract their ideal client?
Word of mouth has worked great for me. I think social media is super helpful for that.
If you could go back and give yourself advice from when you first started, what would you say?
Take a workshop. Haha! I am totally self-taught, and I hate how slow my growth was. Spending more money on education and less money on props in the beginning is the way to go.
What is your guilty pleasure? Beanitos. I can eat a bag of those in one sitting easily.
What do you like to listen to while you edit? Apparently my kids screaming at each other.
What always makes you laugh? Jimmy Fallon
What always makes you cry? Disney movies
Least favorite food? Key lime pie