June Member Spotlight: Deb Schwedhelm!

June Member Spotlight: Deb Schwedhelm!

In the spotlight this month, photographer Deb Schwedhelm gives us a peak inside her busy life as she juggles photography, motherhood, and a successful series of workshops. Based out of Tampa, Florida, Deb continues to challenge traditional portrait photography while illustrating the importance of staying true to your own personal vision. She will also be sharing her insights during the “Finding Your Style” presentation at this year’s NAPCP retreat in Vail.
Who or what inspires you and your work? How?
I really can’t say that there’s one thing that most inspires me. I feel like I’m inspired by so much and it changes all the time….every day. I’m inspired by…
– my children
– a location I come across
– words I read
– a painting
– a photograph
– living life
– and all the everyday beauty that surrounds me

    During times I’m really inspired, I feel a stronger push to just be and create. It’s a longing…a pulling, to get out there, photograph and make magic happen.

    How do you maintain a work/life balance while juggling photography, teaching workshops, and motherhood?
    Juggling and balancing mother, wife, client work, personal time, business, creative growth, etc…it’s one of my biggest challenges. It’s often the topic of discussion between my photographer friends and I. All I can say is that I do my best and some days, weeks, months go better than others.
    I am constantly trying to set business hours — specific times where I’m on the computer working. But I can’t say it’s really worked or I’ve done a very good job with it. It’s an area I’m always striving to improve. When at my computer, I sit with a framed print right next to me that says “TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER AND GO OUTSIDE”.
    What is the best advice you have received regarding photography?
    I think the best advice I received was when I first launched my business and was told to price myself where I thought I’d be in a year and offer discounts. So I priced myself and then offered a 40% portfolio building discount, then a 25% holiday discount, then a 10% summer discount and finally full price. It gave me a solid starting point and in my mind, it made sense.
    Also, shortly after starting photography, I attended a Cheryl Jacobs-Nicolai workshop and she pushed me to just keep doing what I was doing and not worry about fitting in or what other photographers think. Following my own journey…my own path and not worrying about anyone else was so liberating. That was huge for me.

    What advice can you give to those starting out?
    Be true to yourself throughout your photography journey. Don’t get caught up in the cliques and what everyone else is doing and showing. Work hard and be patient!! Be inspired but do your own thing. And once you’re in business, know your cost-of-goods and price yourself appropriately. If you don’t have a solid business foundation, it’s easy to get caught up in the client / business work and not have time for continued creative exploration and growth.
    What is one business lesson you wish you learned a long time ago?
    I wish I learned to delegate or outsource earlier. We wear so many hats — photographer, small business owner, marketing executive, secretary, bookkeeper, accountant, graphic designer, stylist, etc. It’s not realistic to do it all and do each task well. I now outsource my bookkeeping and accounting and wish I made the decision to do that long ago. If you find that you just can’t do it all, find those things that are right for you (and your business) to outsource. I promise, you won’t regret it and always remember that your time is worth it.

    What are some of your favorite product offerings and biggest sellers?
    Digital files on CD are definitely my biggest seller. Some photographers don’t want to release their digital files but I feel it’s important to offer digital files, as we live in a digital age. If a client purchases a CD, they get an 11×14 print as a thank you gift. I want to be sure that they have an amazing print on their wall.
    I also love offering high-end giclee prints – prints that are handcrafted and printed on museum-quality hahnemuhle photo rag paper. They’re really something special!!
    Your style is so unique and defined by the detail and thought that goes into every shot. Can you tell us how you make it all work?
    I really try to stay true to myself, when I shoot and edit. I feel that true artistry is something that comes from within and cannot be taught. I wish I had some special secret to share, but I don’t. I just worked hard and shot as much as I possibly could and my style naturally evolved. I simply do what I love and absolutely love what I do!!
    I guess my best advice would be to be authentic and look at what you truly love. I think that’s when your photography goes to the next level and becomes “art”. Be honest with yourself — with what you shoot, how you edit, what you share. Dig deep. Play. Explore. Infuse yourself in your work. Infuse yourself into the technique you’ve already mastered.

    Tell us a little about the Wallflower Friends workshops you offer with fellow photographer and friend, Leah Zawadzki?
    Leah and I had talked for years about doing a workshop together and had always said when the time is right, it will happen. And it did! And we love it! We wish we could offer more Retreats but we’re both mothers of three and coordinating our schedules (and the time away) is challenging.
    We really want those attending the Walllfower Friends Retreat to have a unique, open, honest experience of sharing, learning growing and exploration. And of course, we love that so many special friendships have resulted from our retreats.

    We are so excited to have you and Leah join us as featured speakers at this year’s NAPCP Retreat 2011: Vail! What will you be sharing with us?
    We’re so excited too and we thank you for this awesome opportunity to share with others. At the Retreat, the main topics we’ll be discussing are finding your style, being yourself, inspiration and creativity. These are topics we’re so passionate about and can’t wait to share with all those attending the NAPCP Retreat.
    To see more from the lovely Deb Schwedhelm, visit her site here, and her blog here!

    Alice Park
    [email protected]

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