Come meet Pixie!!!!

horse_york_fairLast week, Erynn took Pixie up to the Farm Fair with her 4H group. Pixie and Stormy went up together with PeeWee (check out his new site!) and Mack one of the lesson horses at Muddy Creek Meadows. It was PeeWee’s day, so we didn’t make a huge announcement about Pixie when it was his day… and besides, we really didn’t know how Pixie was going to behave. Pixie did AMAZING. If you don’t know anything about horses, you may not realize that horses have a flight instinct. If they are scared, they spook and/or run or rear, or buck, or just about anything. They can even bite. A good horse is worth its weight in gold. You may see people giving away free horses all the time. Usually it is because the horse is completely worthless to ride – not trained, dangerous, etc. It is imperitive that a horse be trained from the beginning and worked with and be used to everything. farm_fair_2I’ll be frank, I was scared to death to send Erynn on her way but I had to work. I knew she had her trainer and other girls from the barn with her, but it still scared me. I told her to text me all day until I could get there later on. First Time in the Horse Trailer Pixie had never been on a horse trailer before. Some horses really freak out at the idea of getting into a closed dark metal box, especially their first time. Can you believe she just hopped up after Stormy? She was fine when they reached their destination. pixie_york_fairFirst Time in a Strange Place Understand, this is the YORK FAIR! Rides, lights, other farm animals, crazy sounds, crazy smells, even a helicopter giving rides directly and very low overhead. Erynn simply led Pixie from the trailer to the Utz Building, no issues. First Time on Display Pixie stood quietly in the stall with Stormy holding her head outside letting everyone come and pet her and love on her. Little kids, wheelchairs, everyone reaching and putting their hands all over her. She simply enjoyed it.   I AM FLOORED! I had absolutely no idea that a foal could behave this way.     Sooooooo Pixie is coming back to the York Fair this Friday, September 12th – come meet her in person!!!!! As you can see, she looks WAY different than she did at birth… she’s a very tall girl and lightened up to her classic champagne color. Erynn will be putting on a small demo with Pixie at 5:30 pm. If you decide to come to the fair, remember, Pixie and Stormy are in the Utz building! stormy-pixie-fair

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What’s Going on? Pixie the Horse – that’s what!

I’ve been a bit tied up in my free time, creating the Pixie and Erynn Blog…. Check it out — an all new Facebook Page, Google Plus, YouTube Channel, and blog documenting everything from the very beginnings when we first decided to breed Stormy and we are working to bring it up to date so Erynn can continue sharing the training story….. click on the image or go to

Also, Pixie is going to be making an appearance tomorrow, September 5th, at the York Fair!  She’s also going to make another appearance on September 12th!  Come meet her!

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Support Group for photographers

I would like to open up for questions…. if any of you have a question you would like me to answer – personal, business, etc., please send me an email at and I would be happy to share.

I also want to open up a Facebook Group for photographers who are straddling or considering straddling the fence of photography business vs. day job or are considering moving into another career option – or are just clamoring to balance it all….  I would love to have a place we can let us be frustrated when we are frustrated with no judgements, but also support each other and help with ideas to get through this “trying” time with the industry.  This would be for all those realists out there that are not living in fantasy land;)



This was something that was asked of me recently….

How do you “do it all”?

  •  You have a husband
  • You have two teens
  • You run this photography business.
  • You have a bunch of animals to take care of.
  • You are in college going after two degrees.
  • You have a day job


How do you do it?

I’ve seen recently, some photographers selling “how to balance your work and life” type of seminars/workshops.  I’m not sure what they can tell you that you don’t already know deep down inside.

Here’s my personal advice.

1. Exit out of Facebook. 2. Make a list of everything you need to get done. 3. Do what is on that list. 4. Hug your kids. 5. Kiss your spouse. 6. Have dinner. 7. Relax. 8. Repeat this tomorrow.


But in all seriousness….

I’m just like you.  I’m barely hanging on half the time.  If you are interested in joining the group – please do (Right Here) !  If you just want to ask a question or two about ANYTHING – feel free to ask me either in the comment section or (my new email address to access me anywhere)… I’d love to answer on this blog in order to help us all get some really good information out there and not this fantasy world I see portrayed so often in this industry.


Theft/Stealing Epidemic among Photographers – We have a right to Defend our Clients

I’d like to officially call out to all the public – please PLEASE hire legitimate photographers.  This isn’t a post to ask you to hire me – I’m simply saying look around, really look at who you are hiring.  Make sure that they are real businesses and are ethical.

Photographers:  Remember this the next time you feel sorry for a photographer who got caught in unethical behavior.  We have a right to DEFEND OUR CLIENTS.

The internet is a small world.   I was at work today, ready to go on my lunch break, when I received two messages simultaneously from two different photographers, alerting me to the fact that some of my images were being used by another photographer.   I sighed.  I knew this would be a fun-filled lunch break of battling yet again.
I clicked on the links to find several of my clients’ images were being used by someone claiming to be a photographer.  (It wasn’t limited to just me, she stole from a good number of photographers)  She stole the images off of my blog and cropped out or PhotoShopped out my watermark, and then added her own.  She also added her own editing on some, uploaded them to her Facebook FanPage, and then named the clients in the picture “The Wilds” for this one….

and “Zachary” for this one.  These are my clients, and these are not their names.

Here are the problems with stealing images from other photographers and using them to advertise your business.

You are falsely advertising to the public.  These are not images that you took so they are not reflective of your skill level most likely.  I get it, you don’t have a big portfolio.  I’ll tell you a little secret.  When I was first taking maternity clients 10 years ago, I hadn’t gotten a signed model release on anyone yet.  I had a potential client book me for a newborn shoot and wanted to know if I could do her maternity.  I could not use any of the images I had to show her, so I showed her images from another photographer who had my exact same skill level in another state.  I showed her these images with that photographers’ information attached, and I was CLEAR, TRUTHFUL, and stated, “I do not have a signed release for my current pregnancy images, but I can do images like this photographer does.”  I did not claim those images as my own, and she was well aware they were not my images as they were marked with the other photographers’ name.  This, in my opinion, is far more ethical than stealing.   What’s wrong with telling the TRUTH?  Where did the truth go in the days of the internet?  I’m a 6-foot blond model, right?

You are stealing.    If you take without permission.  You are stealing.  It is just that simple.  If you use an image to advertise, you must either own the copyright, or you must be paying WITH A CONTRACT a usage or licensing fee.  This is theft.

You can face legal action.   If you are using an image that does not belong to you and you do not own the copyright, you do not have a signed model release for a minor child or a contract with the original photographer.  This is absolutely positively a no-no.  You can have legal action brought against you not only by the photographer, but by the parents of the child in the picture.

THE EXCUSES  I have heard and seen every excuse in the book.  They delete the images and pretend to be a victim and say “I don’t know why I’m being picked on, I didn’t steal anything!” (many have no clue that the screen shots were already taken, deleting did not hide the evidence.   “The web designer did it” (and then never produce a name or contact for this web designer, and professional web designers know better!  So stop insulting the professional web designers!).  “I didn’t say it was my image.  I just posted it on my photography page.”  But usually they leave it there for others to THINK it is their picture – why would a random picture with no credit to a photographer be on a photography business page but to represent their portfolio of work.   “It was a placeholder”.  “My assistant did it” and there is no assistant or contact for an assistant or even evidence that an assistant exists.  Most photographers who steal don’t have enough images to share which is why they steal, so why would they need an assistant, because surely they can’t afford an assistant if they don’t already own a vast selection of client images to share publicly.

The most recent photographer to steal from me (and quite a few others) claimed that the images were being used as inspiration.  So is that why she made up names for my clients pretending that they were her clients?  That’s not about inspiration.  How about the fact that she took my name off of the images and put her own name on them – that is not about inspiration.  That is flat out claiming an image is hers by putting her name on it, so that her potential clients will think it is her picture.

This playing dumb is ridiculous.  We as a society are more educated and have more education at our fingertips than any previous generation.  Guess what?  Photographers didn’t get their images stolen nearly as much as they do today.  Now?  it is happening daily, probably hourly.   The public knows that stealing is wrong.   They know that stealing movies and music is wrong – this is similar to stealing photography except stealing pictures takes it a step further – when someone is using another artist’s work to advertise and acquire clients – false advertisement on top of theft.  There is NO EXCUSE.

I have zero sympathy for those who do this.  Yes, the “internet lynch mob” goes out to shame them, and  I don’t really support mean behavior, but I do understand why it exists.  Photographers are sick of it.  The stealing has become completely overboard.  There is no consequence for this type of theft.  There is no photography license to be revoked.  Facebook won’t even take down a business page who is a proven thief.   Heck, I bet if a member of WPPI or PPA, they won’t even kick them out of the “club” – and in fact, several photographers who have been caught stealing, still speak at big professional events like nothing ever happened.    Maybe this public shaming is the consequence that needs to happen?  It seems extreme, sure….  but enough is enough.

You want to run with the big guys/gals?  Grow some thick skin.  This industry is cut throat; it truly is.  (So is the internet, imagine what your kids are going to go through).  Everyone is scrambling for a virtually nonexistent dream, and not many are going to attain that dream…. but in all things that you do.  OWN IT.    We have all done stupid things… me included.   If you are caught stealing.  Don’t dig yourself a hole.  Delete the images.  Apologize to the photographers you stole from and move on.  The more you try to make excuses, the deeper you dig.  Own your actions…. learn from your mistake, move on, and just don’t do it again.  

We as photographers have a right to DEFEND OUR CLIENTS.  Don’t you dare turn the victim table.

Of course, I will get reamed for being the “bad guy” while the other photographer plays “victim”….   *sigh*  This happens to most photographers who out thieves.    I’ve contacted many photographers for stealing my images privately to get them removed, but when I see blatant theft – as in, changing client names and pretending they are his/her clients?  No.  Just…NO.  The victim table cannot be turned.    I’ll tell you who the victims are –  I am the victim for not being paid for the use of my images and having my hard work completely disrespected in every way, but even MORE so…. my clients are the victims as they did not authorize another photographer to use the images of their children.  This to me is the biggest issue of all.  I can take the disrespect of my copyright, but I cannot sit back and let my clients have this happen to their children’s images.

We have a right to DEFEND OUR CLIENTS.

At any rate….. If you want to see how the images were used with fake stories about these clients with made up names, there is a link —– I always give credit to Corey from PhotoStealers (THE SAGA IS HERE) as she is dedicated to calling out the stealing in our industry, as she, like many of us, just want to see it stop.   It’s not going to stop if we quietly tell people to stop and not take a stand together.  




Quite the horse-filled weekend…..

Seems like we are trying to fit it all into the last few weeks of summer….

Erynn and I traveled to Penn State this weekend for Ag Progress Days.  She competed with her 4-H group last year in the Quiz Bowl and they did it again this year.  It tests knowledge of horses.  Do you know what country the Connemara pony is from?  Do you know what Acey Deucey means?   The fun part is, Erynn is just like her father, and stores all kinds of needless facts in her head – odd facts, so this is exactly the type of thing she excels with….. (I’m sure you know which one Erynn is by now? Can’t miss her hair….)

These girls make us so proud.  There were 9 teams in the competition, and they ended up with a second, only having lost by a couple of points that were all about who hit the buzzer the fastest.  Erynn says, “I’m too polite, I like to let the speaker finish the question before I buzz in….I don’t want to be rude or anything” ;)

So onto last night… last night was Cowboy Polo at Muddy Creek Meadows…. everyone gets a makeshift polo stick, and has a casual game of polo the night before the fun show….

Erynn scores!!!

Here’s something new you will hear about….. MCM has started this new thing - “Where in the World is PeeWee”.  PeeWee is a mini-donkey that wanders the property at Muddy Creek Meadows.  He could be anywhere at any time… here he is hanging out in the middle of the polo match!

Then there was today – the Fun Show……  Personally, I decided not to ride in it… this is the first time I sat back and did not ride.  Two years ago, I could hardly walk due to a back injury and I haven’t been riding as regularly as I should even though my back is soooo much better.  I practiced a little this week and wasn’t quite feeling it in my back, particularly, my upper back was hurting in a strange area, so I decided to be Erynn’s help and we had Pixie go with Stormy for a few games.  It was a lot of fun, and I will be back riding in this next year;)

Erynn was going to take it easy this year and yes, she doesn’t have a helmet on, and we realize that is not safe, so please no nasty-grams.  I understand the internet gets super nasty at times.   We already are well versed in safety, having had horses 8 years.  I won’t go into all of it.  All I can say is “We know.”  Erynn got a concussion months ago from walking next to her horse – yup, we got it.


Anyway, Pixie did two games with Stormy and Erynn.  The first one, keyhole, Pixie was more interested in the loudspeaker and spectators and grass than running.  The second one, the barrel race, she picked it up by the third barrel and followed Stormy, and ended with a cute little kick.  See video HERE.

Then back on No Brakes – doing what No Brakes loves best….

So much for Erynn “taking it easy”…. she hopped off of him while he was still moving to crawl through some straw bales, and then climbed on him while he was still moving….. yeah…. that’s how she made it over the finish line…. and scored a 1st with that run….


Anyway, it was a super fun week, and I’m looking forward myself to get back with regular riding and get myself back in riding shape as well as getting my horse, Pippi, back in shape.   Pixie has lightened up a lot since I last shared pictures – classic champagnes do that:)– I have some great current pictures I will share here shortly… stay tuned!


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The incident that changed my course…

Back when the industry was amazing.

As you may know if you follow this, I went back to college.  As I started to see this photography industry slipping, I went back to what I started in 1994, accounting (and I may venture into testing for actuarial services – we will see… I love analytical risk management type of things – people complain that I’m always analyzing the photography industry – it comes natural to me, so why not do something that is natural?).  Don’t ask me why my brain likes art and math/analytical both… it seems kind of strange since they are from two totally different ends of the spectrum, but I never claimed to be normal, right?


LIFE CHANGES AND THAT’S OKAY:   I won’t lie to you or sweep what’s going on under the rug.  I’m not going to tell you that I decided to put aside a thriving business to start business coaching or I was missing my family so much, I’m giving up this amazing house and hugely successful business to move back in with my parents, and I’m not going to tell you that I decided to pack my family up and go on an adventure, and GoFundMe so that maybe, possibly, Oprah will pick it up…… (I’ve seen these and similar excuses photographers are giving for “closing” their businesses – and we are all expected to believe this…..).

Nope.  I don’t hand out that BS.  No one leaves a thriving business especially in this economy, unless they legitimately sell the business, and no one wants a washed up photography business anymore – because…. I’m just going to say it – there is no value in a photography brand as in, being able to sell it to another owner.  There is no guaranteed client base that one can sell.  Why so many photographers cannot be honest is beyond me.  If we are  honest, we can all commiserate.  If we lie and put up a bunch of lies to make ourselves feel better, everyone loses. (Disclaimer:  Not saying there aren’t still photographers doing well, I’m saying that no one wants to admit if things aren’t going well especially if they are selling a “dream” to other photographers).

I want to talk about what exactly happened in May that changed my course.  It’s no secret, I was frustrated with the backstabbing part among photographers, and I was struggling with less clients and clients that were not placing orders within the time frame in our contract.   I knew what it would take to keep going.  It would take marketing a lot.  It would take hustling and becoming “the bad guy” collector of outstanding orders.  The constant market market market, conflict conflict conflict.  Honestly, I started my photography business all those years ago because I was an artist, and I knew my work would speak for itself.  I knew that if someone wanted my work, they would see it, and know they wanted it, and purchase a session.  I did not get into this industry to hustle.  There is nothing wrong with marketing and hardcore sales, and if you have a passion for what you do and you like it, that’s great.  That is not me.   And you can forget in person sales – I did that before.  It’s not conducive to the Baltimore/DC/NoVa lifestyles – I would have to hire a bouncer to insure orders were placed and paid on the spot.

DID YOU GIVE UP?  Absolutely not.  I still have those that seek my work out.  That, my friends, is the highest compliment an artist can ever receive – the discerning individual that actually seeks art out and is not satisfied with anything but.   My work speaks for itself, and it won’t speak to everyone but those who it does speak to, value it, and I value them.

IT’S ABOUT FULFILLMENT:   I’ve always needed fulfillment.  If I was not fulfilled in a certain area of my life, I needed to make changes.  While working on this accounting degree, I thought I would put some resumes out to get a feel of the workforce.  Let’s face it, I hadn’t been in the “work force” since 1996.  I’ve owned my own businesses since then for the flexibility alone.  I worked hard.  It was never “Barbie got a camera” like many situations out there, but an actual honest-to-God profitable business run as a business, not a hobby.

I realized earlier this year, there was nothing holding me back from going back to the workforce.  My kids are now teens.  Why not put a few resumes out?  I got an almost immediate call back for an administrative position.  I went to the interview.  The company seemed nice, but I knew deep down inside that wasn’t the job for me, and the person who interviewed knew it too.  Fast forward to that moment at the end of THIS POST, that week, I received a phone call.  That company called me back as the accounting position opened up.   She said things happen for a reason, and absolutely, that has always been my motto – trust your gut, trust your intuition.  I dove right into the position, head first.

It’s very different being back in the workforce.  I’m enjoying it.  Weekends are for photography.  Monday through Friday, I get up, grab a coffee, head out the door with my husband, and we carpool to work.  Our places of employment are within 10  minutes of each other.

Some perks (I guess you can tell I love lists):

  • Romance haha;)– Carpooling allows Dean and I to have great conversation, morning and evening, although he may say it is me doing all the talking…..  We occasionally stop for an after work drink and just hang out as a couple, enjoying each other’s company.  There is nothing like having alone time with your spouse that is just so necessary to keep a relationship strong.  Our companies are from a similar industry, so we actually connect on a work level as well.
  • My hours aren’t bad – I get out of work a little after 4 p.m……We get family time in the evenings and weekends.  I’m still working on structuring the weekends and delegating a few things out (like editing, more on that later).
  • A feeling of being a contributing member of society.  This job gives me focus, gives me some challenges, and lets me feel like I have accomplished something every day.  Whether it be from processing a stack of invoices to creating a data spreadsheet with intricate formulas or just keeping my desk and workflow organized, I leave work feeling that I finished something.
  • I shower every day, get dressed, and look presentable.  I know that sounds absurd, but every photographer knows those days of just deciding not to shower because you have editing to do, and then feeling skanky come mid afternoon.  I hated every single time I talked myself into not getting “ready” for the day.    It’s the little things;)
  • My back is thanking me.  I don’t have to spend my days bent over or carrying heavy equipment running around.  You may be aware that I have a terrible back injury that was a ticking time bomb for surgery.
  • A steady paycheck (something that just about no business owner can guarantee).
  • You can be paid and not be at work.  Imagine that!  When is the last time we photographers had paid vacations (and work vacations don’t count!)?
  • Benefits.  401K anyone?  It’s not too early to think about your retirement.  It will be here before you know it.  Those little toddlers running around your feet?  You will blink, and they will be graduating high school, and if you are middle class or higher, and your child does not get 5.0s (yes, it’s no longer 4.0s), you are going to be in for a rude awakening with college costs.
  • Structure…. Since starting this job, I have managed to lose 22 pounds.  Yes, you read that right.  There are a few other contributing factors, but having a daily structure has definitely been the foundation for this weight loss.  I will share more on that in a later post.
  • Socializing.  I genuinely like the people I work with.  They are a lot of fun.  The personalities are all different, but those moments of breaking out in laughter over something as simple as a Monty Python reference of “I’m not dead yet!”  You don’t realize what you are missing spending hours in front of a computer editing photos or typing medical records (as I did in my last career).
  • Leaving work at work.  It’s such a small thing, but it is so different for me not to bring work home with me and stress about it constantly.
  • Family coordination.  We have started to pay our teens to help us with extensive family chores such as dishes, laundry, and grass cutting ( you have to understand, we have a few acres, that is quite the task).  This has allowed our teens to also feel an accomplishment with a monetary reward and created some more independence and self reliance.  Our teens are actually communicating and helping each other more than they did when I was home and did everything or communicated between them (an introvert household understands this concept well, I am sure ;)).
  • Re-awakening of my soul.  Sounds corny, but now that I don’t have to rely on photography as my primary source of income, my creative side has re-emerged.  I LIKE photographing again.  I was so burnt out.  Now I enjoy my moments with the newborns, and I absolutely love shooting nature and everyday again….

I know working outside of the house is not for everyone.  I get that.  Personally, I thrive on structure, challenges, and subsequent accomplishment.  This is my life now.  I’m just as surprised as you probably are that I’m liking it quite a bit;)

I don’t plan to ever quit photography completely.  I’m always going to have a foot in the door with it.  I do enjoy working with clients and photographing babies and such, but the industry is what it is.  It is no longer the thriving $400,000-in-yearly-revenue  businesses.  It’s just not, but I have learned in the past three months to find the blessings and happiness and strive for the fulfillment instead of sitting back and constantly complaining.  I do still like to poke fun at the industry (which those who do not understand my humor, want to shout it’s negativity *sigh*), and I always will be a little sarcastic when it comes to it, but I encourage everyone to find their happiness and fulfillment wherever that may be.

Yes, I will continue to teach photographers my skills that I have worked hard perfecting over the years – lighting, composition, you name it – in books (located HERE) and will be sharing more on this blog in the future.  I will teach what I know… I will not try to to tell you how to keep a thriving successful hundreds-of-thousands-in-revenue-pouring-in-business in this shaky industry because the odds of you getting there realistically, are nearly impossible.  That’s reality.


Edited to add.  Photographers never cease to amaze me.  It was just said that I sounded bitter because I wrote this post.  Amazing to me…. because I personally am very excited and happy about the future – but that’s being bitter?  Go figure.  That’s news to me.  I reread this post, and hmmm… romance, re-awakening of my soul, losing 22 pounds, liking the people I work with, etc…. aren’t those positives?  Haha…. oh well.  Damned if I do, and damned if I don’t – that’s just the internet anymore.  I guess it is better to say “oh, my business has been doing so amazing that I decided instead of taking clients anymore, I’m going to give back to photographers and teach you all how to make hundreds of thousands and follow your passion, for the simple and easy installments of $900 per month!”  That sounds MUCH better.

The purpose of this post was to help others.  There are so many that think their businesses are failing and it is all their fault and they keep pushing and pushing thinking it’s something they can change.  They are not failing, the industry is failing.  Why can’t we all get along and be honest about our feelings and experiences without facing nastiness – just because some of us do want to talk honestly, that makes us vulnerable, and there is always someone out there who sees someone being vulnerable, and wants to take a stab.


J. Otte Photography originals – back in the day.




Newborn Photography | Baltimore Maryland


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State of the Photography Industry

I see so many photographers (especially those who are new as in the past five years), tell me I am negative and horrible for trying to ‘squash their dreams’…. then I am told that I can’t “live in the past” and that I must “evolve” if I want to be a success.

Sweetheart, I lived success as a photographer with the hundreds of thousands in revenue pouring into my studio (if you need figures, between 2009-2011, my business was bringing in between $300,000 and $400,000 in revenue PER YEAR – and I have the lovely back taxes to prove it – which is no fun, and I’m still struggling to deal with).  I know what it was like very well, but what you struggle with is called REALITY.

What I’m going to discuss is basic business and economics.  Don’t believe me?  Please, I beg of you, take some business and economics classes.  It will open your eyes.  For me, my common sense and observations already told me these things, but taking actual college classes (not workshops done by stay-at-home moms or failed business owners) for business gave me the words to use to describe what is going on.

What you have here is a basic business cycle.  This can be applied to an individual business, but for these purposes, I am applying it to an entire industry.

The middle gray line that you see is the growth trend line.  Typically, an industry will continuously grow upward.    There are typically peaks and troughs.  When the line is going down, we call that “recession”, when the line goes up, we call that “recovery”.  These are very NORMAL contractions and expansion (so when someone is trying to get you to pay for their marketing or business workshop, you will probably not see these very important facts addressed, or they are quickly sugar coated and swept to the side cause this is all about you following your passion, not about these pesky business facts.)

Around 2008 (give or take for different areas of the country and/or world – some areas have not caught up – in fact, if you notice, many photographers in the US are now touring other areas of the world because they are finding pockets of photographers willing to pay to learn from them since this trend hasn’t hit them), we were at the peak.  Right now in 2014, we are rock bottom (or, we are hoping this is rock bottom, but we may be still going down).   We should see recovery, right?  Recovery should happen again and we should get above that growth trend line and make it to another peak, right?

WRONG.  Personally, I do not believe we are capable of peaking that high again.  I personally don’t even think we are going to make it up to that trend line again.  I think the next peak is going to be much lower (as illustrated where the red arrow is).  Why is this?

  • Technology.   While it used to be only the professionals had nice DSLR cameras, now anyone can buy one from Best Buy.  When my daughter was first doing horse shows, I would be the only one around with an SLR camera.  Now?  I just went to one a few weeks ago, and nearly every single rider either had their own DSLR, or a parent or friend had a DSLR.  Let’s face it, outside light at a horse show?  It’s a no brainer – anyone can shoot nicely out there.
  • Social Media.  Everyone has photos all over social media.  Photos are no longer a luxury, but a commodity.  The sheer number of photos popping up in your newsfeed, should be a clear indication of that.    A few Instagram filters, and the image doesn’t look so bad….
  • McDonalds Mentality.  Why should anyone wait to share images to all their  friends when they can just pull out their cell phone, which they have with them all the time and shoot.  In fact, I-phone images are looking pretty decent and getting better and better.
  • Oversaturation.  Everyone is a photographer.   Again, let’s face it – everyone has the technology at their fingertips, why pay a photographer?  Sure, some photographers are artists, but these artists tend to price themselves as such (I know I do), so naturally, if someone can get “good enough for cheap” from their friend or relative, or even from their own camera, why pay for an artist except every once in a while, if that is something they truly value, to capture something amazing….  but the opportunity for a photographer to find one of these clients, well, the “pool” is getting smaller.

But my business is doing better than ever!  Is it?  Good for you!  The problem is, you may not know what you missed.  Not to mention, one photographer’s happy place may be making $30,000/year while another photographer may have been used to $100,000/year because they live in a more expensive area and have a higher need of money to support their family.   It still blows my mind that there are photographers in the Baltimore/DC/VA area who are happy making $10,000/year with their photography businesses.

So this begs the question – are you willing to wait out in this trough with everyone else?  Are you willing to wait it out until it gets to the next peak?  I’m not sure that I’m willing to wait it out when that next peak isn’t going to line up with peaks from the past.

There’s one more concern.  I don’t want to sound all “sky is falling”, but with these technological advances, etc., photographers may become obsolete in the future (as we see newspaper photographers are no longer needed, does that not clue you in to what could be?).  Look what happened to the music industry – you don’t even have to purchase music anymore if you don’t want to (not saying that is legal to pirate, but…… technology….)  Where did medical transcriptionists go?  There are industries and products that become obsolete due to technology.  Keep that somewhere in the back of your mind as we move forward in the next 10 years.

But I’m an artist.  Yes, I’m sure you are.  Think about how many people are happy to find a cool looking picture at Ikea to hang in their living room that matches their furniture.  How many people really go out and seek out a one-of-a-kind decorative image (as an original, done by an actual artist, not copied and printed in mass) to hang with their furniture anymore?  The majority are happy with a print that 50,000 other people can purchase at Ikea too.  The pool gets smaller and smaller.

I do encourage you – if you are an artist, keep doing what you are doing.  Be an artist, create beautiful things, and price yourself as an artist, not as a photographer.  Feel your worth.  When all is said and done, you can still lean back and say “I valued myself.  I’m an artist, and I know I am worth it and I’m not going to let anyone (including myself) devalue my talent.”


1 comment

Be offended. Why “free for photo credit” does not benefit the photographer.


Never… okay, maybe I shouldn’t say never, but 99.9 percent of the time, do not give your work away for print credit.  Let’s talk about this for a second.

I receive countless requests for images every week.  Here’s one that just came to me yesterday.


“Hi Jodie, I hope this note finds you well! I work for an Outer Banks vacation rental company and am currently designing our 2015 rental brochure. One of the articles we are writing is about taking a day trip to Ocracoke Island. When doing a search for Ocracoke Island online, I stumbled across your photos — they are just stunning! Would you be willing to let us use some of your Ocracoke photos for our article? We’d be happy to give you photo credit, website links, etc. Thanks so much.”


Question #1  How would this transaction benefit me?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself.  Let’s see.  People who are looking for real estate in the Outer Banks would see my images and find them lovely.  Are they so spectacular that someone is going to go “Wow!  I MUST know who this photographer is!!!”  So they take their pen out, write it down, and promise to look it up later online.  Come home, forget about dinner, forget about the kids, work, etc., and then they state, “I MUST go see this photographer’s website!  And more importantly, I will then drive out of state to go book a photo session with her or fly her here.”

REALLY?  You really think they will do that?  Of course they won’t.  If this sparks them to get a photographer, they will simply find one right in their backyard.

Well then I can have bragging rights – I can tell everyone I am a published photographer.   Who the heck cares?   Do you really think people sought out my work when they saw it in US Weekly, Parents Magazine, InStyle, and People Magazine with Similac Infant Formula?  Of course not.  They didn’t seek me out because I had images in People.  No… instead, they ripped the pages out and took them to their local photographer and asked their photographer to “Do these baby poses!!!”   That’s why you get PAID for commercial photography.

Consumers don’t care if you are published.  Let me ask  – what photographer ISN’T published today?  All they have to do is submit their images to online magazines for FREE, and they can say they are published.  Whoop-tee-do…..  It’s nothing special.   I’m nothing special, and you are nothing special.   That is reality.

So to answer the question as to how that “Print Credit” transaction would benefit me?   It won’t.  It has no benefit whatsoever.  And the company will then get free photos from another photographer.  Should I be jealous and snatch up this opportunity?  Why?  What would be the purpose.  Let someone else be known as the free photographer —– that ain’t me.

I don’t know about you but *I* can’t pay my bills on print credit.

Next time you go into the grocery store, ask the cashier if you can pay for it with all the print credits you have in magazines.  ;)

Question #2 — How will this transaction help the Real Estate Agency?

It will allow them not to have to spend any money on beautiful photography.   They will have a completed brochure that shows everyone how beautiful Ocracoke Island is and what wondrous scenery people will see when they visit.   My images would draw people to want to book a rental property for vacation next year.  Therefore, the rental agency will increase their bottom line with more houses filled.

“But maybe someone will see the images and ask who the photographer is and want to book me for a commercial shoot.”  Or…. if we go back into reality…. maybe they will just ask the real estate agency who will say, “Oh, she is great, she gave these images to us for free!  I’m sure you can get some free too, just in exchange for a little print credit….”

Never discount the value of great photography.  Humans are visual.  There is more power in a beautiful picture than words.  There is an instantaneous attraction that a person feels for a place that is visually represented in a beautiful way.  No amount of “You need to rent this property, it is beautiful down here!” will truly have the power that a beautiful image has.

Next time someone asks you for images in return for print credit.  Think about this.   They pay the designer of the brochure, and they pay for the brochure, and they pay themselves…… but they won’t pay for the beautiful images which is one of the most , if not THE powerful marketing tools they can have.

And consider being offended.  They value the person who designs the brochure.  They value the brochures.  They value themselves.  Yet, they don’t value you or your talent.


and since you will all ask how I responded.  Here it is….

“Hello, we absolutely love it down there and I’m glad you love the images.  They definitely can help book rental properties easily.
I do not give my work away for free.  I need to actually buy groceries for my family, pay a mortgage, and put gas in my car with the income I receive from my photography work.  Print credit does not pay for my bills, and it absolutely does not bring clients to me.
If you wish to purchase images for the brochure, please let me know.
Jodie Otte”


In your head…. in your head…..Zombie, zombie, zombie….

I’m learning now that I am back to blogging, I should just share when the spirit moves me… haha… instead of trying to do anything in chronological order or having any rhyme or reason.  I have so much more to share regarding the photography industry… but while I have a moment, and something interesting, I’m just going to share….

A friend of mine (from all the way back in high school!) on the other side of the U.S. asked if Erynn would be interested in helping her with a project… it involved zombies, so OF COURSE!  Anyway, here is some of what we did for fun tonight……

A little extreme, but this again, was about fun….. you know…. since we live up in the cornfields and we have no street lights…. we can think of what could possibly be living in the corn….  (Yes, I am aware that this is digitally over the top in every way – nothing wrong with a bit of fun here and there that is not supposed to look real….. but see all the way below….)


…..and a stop into the ice-cream shop for a milkshake, since she could only consume out of a straw….

I really wanted to find a deer carcass but… well…. that didn’t work out…. however…. this one is my personal favorite….

A quick note:  This image has been on reddit and imgur and I know a lot of people are making comments about HDR.  Some quick tips – don’t scream HDR unless you really know lighting, not everyone is using HDR software.  This particular image is pretty nice out of camera.  Two light sources were used here with a bounce of one behind her.  After I shot – didn’t need to shoot much, this is all Erynn….. I pulled the image into PhotoShop, did an S-curve for contrast, and then used a dodge and burn layer.  This is “old school” PhotoShop to create that look.   Yes, it’s a little over the top, but this is about fantasy, not about realism.  If you want realism, you can look at my portrait work and my casual work;)

Here’s an out of camera and edited.  As you can see, the biggest edit is just the dodge and burn.  Erynn has a LOT of texture on her.  She even has a gloss over the work to keep it looking wet and shiny instead of matte and dull.  Her hair adds to the magic of course.