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Chic Critique is THE elite magazine, community, & resource for women who love photography (yes, we’re biased!)
Our mission: critique | confidence | community
Get your CHIC on with our Celebrity Photographers who inspire, teach, and critique to help increase confidence and improve your images!


Guest Contributor | Spanki Mills

Have you ever wanted to quit?  Spanki Mills, our Celebrity Photographer who will be doing a  LIVE CRITIQUE on September 26th at 1 p.m. Central, felt just like that!  See how she handled it and let us know what you think!



I quit.

No.  Really.  I quit.

How many times have you felt completely buried by your photography business and just threw your hands up and screamed “I QUIT!”  only to realize you still have to get that client gallery edited and you have 3 sessions booked next week…so you QUIT…next week, and by next week you really mean after you edit those sessions, have your client order sessions, package their orders, and deliver them with a smile.  Have you been there?  Yep.  You are not alone.

Guess what?  I did quit.  I let it go.  This summer (summers are very slow in Texas because of the heat) I decided to box up my computer, literally I put it in the box,  I uninstalled my business emails from my phone, and I walked away.  I have been in a little bit of a rut.  Not because I don’t love what I do, but because every day I realize how much older my kids are getting and how fast life is passing by, and I do not want to have regret.  I do not want to give up what I love…and when I say that we all immediately think “what I love” is my photography business… but it hit me sometime last year as much I I LOVE my business what I TRULY love is my family, and I have been putting them on the back burner so I could grow and nourish my business.  So in not wanting to give up “what I love” I was really giving up what I love.

I began to think about giving it all up and that left me with a huge pit in my stomach and a hole in my heart.  I couldn’t bare to walk away from what I have poured so much of my heart and soul into, but this feeling of tug of war with my business on one end and my family on the other was becoming so strong I felt like I wasn’t really being present in either.  Giving 50% to my business and 50% to my family made me feel like I was failing 100% at BOTH.

As we prepared for a move across Texas, I sent an email to all my past clients and put an automated email response on any new incoming emails.  I even hung a “out for the summer” banner on my Facebook business page…GASP!   Yes, I stopped interacting the 5 times a day like Facebook wants me to.  I stopped playing the game and I walked away from the “numbers”.  I just decided if I can grow from NOTHING in the beginning what will stop me from growing from an established base later… heck it even might motivate me to push harder!

…and that it did.  I have had a solid THREE months with no computer, no editing, no culling, no client emails, no scheduling, no NOTHING.  Just my family.  ALL. SUMMER. LONG.  My kids are getting older and our times spent together is further and fewer between.  If I am not competing with sporting events, it is friends (because somewhere along the way, I have lost the cool status to FRIENDS…whaaaat is that about?) so as they naturally distance themselves as they grow, I knew it was now or possibly never.

I will say there were times that I felt like I needed to grab a brown paper sack to breathe into and count backwards.  But what could I do?  My computer was in a BOX and I couldn’t access my emails.  Eventually I got used to it.  Over the past three months, while playing, laughing, and loving with my family,  I have had the freedom to think and create and dream all over again.   I feel refreshed.  I feel ready to hit it hard.  I feel like my mommy relationship has been nurtured,  and I am ready to pour myself into my business again.

I am not saying this is the answer for everyone, but what I ams saying is…IT IS OKAY to take care of YOU and what you feel is important.  If you let go of that eventually you will lose that luster you once had in your business and you will hurt.  That hurt will cloud your mind and block your creativity.  Allow yourself to take a break.  Do not worry what others will say, or what others may think.  For all I know the entire world (okay so I like to kid myself and pretend the entire world even knows who I am let alone cares what I am doing) thinks I really did quit.  But my clients know what I did, my potential clients see it, and if they feel I was worth waiting for then they will.  If not, I will work to get more clients when I start back up… and that is what I did.  I was forced to step out of my comfort zone of complacency and get back that HUSTLE.  That same hustle I had when I was starting but with established eyes, knowing where to focus my energy,  having a defined client to market to, and having a mind full of creative ideas.  I am BACK and ready to give it what I knew I had all along… it was just hidden under a pile of paper on my desk!

CC-Spanki-Mills Spanki Mills | Facebook

LIVE CRITIQUE on September 26th at 1 p.m. Central.September 26th 2014 @ 1 pm Central

(11 am Pacific, noon Mountain, 2 Eastern)

In this 90 minute LIVE Critique, Spanki will give feedback on YOUR image!

Can’t watch the LIVE event? No worries. A downloadable video recording is available for pre-purchase (below) & will be sent to you 48 hours after the live event.

Live Event: FREE for Chic members! >>REGISTER HERE!<<





Abbey Kyhl

Meet Chic Critique’s Celebrity Photographer, Spanki Mills. Spanki didn’t find photography, photography found her. She has been featured on several photography blogs such as Inside The Locker, The Maternal Lens, Rock The Shot, and Go{4} Pro. Her work was also published in a few magazines. One of her newest endeavors is becoming a rep for the amazing clothing line Zozobugbaby. This past year, Spanki has added “teacher” to her resume by offering mentoring sessions online, in person and for some of the photography forums out there. This road has not always been easy, so she has made it her goal to help other photographers find their potential and help them become a success story.

Want to know what Spanki thinks of your photos?  

Join her for a LIVE CRITIQUE on September 26th at 1 p.m. Central.


What camera do you use? Favorite lens?
Canon 5D Mark II and 50mm 1.4

What has been the most helpful critique you ever got on an image?
The one thing I used to do was frame my image in the camera. I’d crop the shot just like I wanted it in my viewfinder, then the client would want to order the image in a size that cropping constrictions wouldn’t allow… so now I always step back and know I can crop in later, allowing myself freedom in ordering.

Why do you think honest critique on your images is important?
Honest critique is helpful in so many ways, for me I tend to get stuck in a rut and miss seeing something…even the littlest of things, that can turn my image from average to stunning!

What 3 words would you use to describe your style?
Fun. Vibrant. Youthful.

Where do you pull your inspiration from?
Videos, magazine ads, and locations.

What is one specific way that you balance work and family?
I have a hard time with time management, but have decided if anything is going to be pushed back for the other, it will be work over family. I would rather stress a deadline when they are at school than miss out on something they have going on for work. My number one JOB is my family!

Best biz/photo advice?
Value yourself, your time, and your sanity. When starting out, price yourself a little more than you “think you are worth” because soon enough you will realize how much you are putting into it and want to raise your prices…this way they are already there!

What have you learned the hard way?
How to say NO. I had a senior in my home at midnight custom designing her graduation announcement and she ordered 25 and it hit me. I gave myself, my time, and my family away to make people happy. It is not worth it!

How does your business deal with the rise in photographers. What have you done to standout and compete?
First and foremost, I try NOT to pay attention to what others are doing…it psyches me out. I am perfectly happy in my own little world. I try to stay engaged with my clients and keep myself motivated so I give the best I have.

Where have most of your 2011 clients come from (besides WOM)?
I have worked hard to network this year with people who are in the direct circle of my “target clients”. So I’d have to say a boutique and two interior decorators got my foot in the door and word of mouth has taken over from there.

What has been the best workshop or convention you’ve attended so far?
WPPI was not as much a “learning” experience, even though I did learn. It was the BEST motivation I have had. On top of also meeting people and networking with others.

What is your most popular product?
Canvas prints are still a favorite, but I sell a TON of metal prints to my seniors!


September 26th 2014 @ 1 pm Central

(11 am Pacific, noon Mountain, 2 Eastern)

In this 90 minute LIVE Critique, Spanki will give feedback on YOUR image!

Can’t watch the LIVE event? No worries. A downloadable video recording is available for pre-purchase (below) & will be sent to you 48 hours after the live event.

Live Event: FREE for Chic members! >>REGISTER HERE!<<





Guest Contributor | Leslie Vega



Leslie Vega is a seasoned brand designer for photographers and wedding professionals. She founded Leslie Vega Design in 2008 and has been creating breathtaking brands for clients across the globe ever since. From logos to stationery and beautiful web presences, her passion exudes in her work and in her client experience. View her work at www.leslievegadesign.com
Leslie Vega Design, LLC |  Twitter | Facebook | Blog