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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!

3 Ways to Improve Your Images…that might annoy you

by Kelli France | Editor-in-Chief

Ever get frustrated with your photography? You’re not alone. I think we all have days where we feel like our work is CLOSE but not quite there yet. So how do you get better? How do you improve your images to be to where you want them to be?

3 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR IMAGES:

1. Get Professional Feedback Improve your images by having a professional analyze & critique them. I’m currently taking a 4-Week Critique myself and loving it. Try a 4-Week Critique from one of our amazing Celebrities. You are never too advanced/good to learn from others.

2. Analyze & Act Study images of your own or other photographer’s images that you love and see what common thread they have. Analyze what it is that you love about your favorite images. Do you love moody portraits? Do you swoon over styled sessions? Are you fanatic for film? Find common elements in your favorite photos and try to incorporate those elements in your own photography.

3. Practice..a Lot! I know that it might annoy you when someone tells you that “hard work” is the answer but that’s really what it takes to get better at anything. Every time I get frustrated with my images, the words of Ira Glass echo in my ears: “The most important possible thing you can do, is do a lot of work.” Watch his video below to get inspired to work hard.

P.S. I am at the Chic Retreat in Seattle right now! Follow the fun on Instagram @kellifrance & #chiccritiqueretreat xoxo, Kelli France

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MONICA DAY | CHIC OF THE WEEK

Congrats Monica Day of Monica Day Photography!

Your image is so stunning that we had to feature you as the Chic of the Week.

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With the tack sharp focus, the contrast of colors, and the gorgeous models with their dramatic makeup, this photo just pops and  without sharing it in a CHIC of the Week post.

Congrats again to Monica Day of Monica Day Photography!  You’ve been awarded a gift certificate from one of our vendors for being selected as Chic of the Week!

Which photo of your own would you like to see featured on the site?

If you upload your favorite photos to the forum, we just might feature yours next.

 

A little bit about Monica:

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I have been a photographer for most of my life but I went in to business in 2006. I love this field so much and I truly love seeing the faces of my clients and models when they see themselves at their best. I am a military spouse so I move a lot. I have been fortunate to be able to experience some amazing places and cherish every bit of that. 

My business is all about making people feel good and enjoy their experience with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Stats:

These girls were actually my roomies at WPPI. They are the Lavish Design House girls. We took some time and ventured out onto the Las Vegas Strip for a shoot for their new website. These ladies had me and 2 other photographers there all shooting for fun!! I’m making a video as well. 

I shot these with a Nikon D700. Here are the settings:
f/2.5, 1/400, ISO 100

I shot these around 2 or 3. There was a ton of sunlight but I’m not afraid of that. I do my initial tweaks in Lightroom and then additional tweaks and sharpening in Photoshop.

 

What critique from Chic Critique Forum did you find helpful after sharing this image?

I didn’t get any critique on this image. That’s okay though. I love the encouragement from the group!!

 

Don’t forget to upload your favorite photos to the forum, we just might feature yours next.

 

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SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES | TEACHING TUESDAY

Guest Contributor | Amanda Coker of Dash Photography
 
We are kicking off a month long series on Senior Photography at Chic Critique.  We are so excited to feature some amazing photographers and give you all the tools you need to grow your senior business!
 
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If you are an aspiring photographer, one of the most daunting aspects of business is often marketing.  Does social media work? How do I get people talking about my business?  Are business cards even necessary these days?  There are so many questions that linger around the topic. If you photograph high school seniors, it can be even more intimidating.  Maybe it’s just me, but I’m finding at 27, my “hip” days are slipping away.   As cool as I’d like to hope I still am, my ability to relate to a 17 year old takes a bit more work.  So how do we get a rising senior counting down the days to their Senior Session?  We get their friends raving!  Who better to have on your side than…seniors?!

The most productive way I’ve found to do this is through a Senior Model Rep Program, but it can also be a time absorbing, profit-eating monster if done incorrectly.  How do I know?  I spent a couple years being the poster child for unproductive Rep Programs.   After failing quite miserably, I decided to make some changes.  I researched (what could quite possibly fall into the category of “stalked”) several accomplished photographers who are experienced in senior photography.  I pulled together several different ideas to create a program tailored to Dash.  This year is still technically an experimental year, but honestly, every year is.  Fortunately, it’s already proving to be more successful than the last, but isn’t that what we hope for every year?

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The biggest mistake I made was believing high school girls were falling out of their chairs with anticipation to tell all their friends about my business simply because I gave them a few great images.  Sure, they “oo’d and ah’d” at first, and even gave me a shout out or two on their social media profiles, then…crickets.  We weren’t even to the end of summer!  WHAT?! Not only did I give them a free session complete with professional make up and food, but I stocked their “Selfie Sunday” and “Transformation Tuesday” albums for a solid 6 months.  Work with me people! That’s when I started to connect some dots.  All of the stuff I gave was great for the moment, but that’s where it ended for them.  The only incentive I offered for pushing bookings my way was a product discount.  Um, hello!  The senior doesn’t even pay for the products!  They don’t care!  After the experience was over for them, their motivation to spread the word was also.  I had to figure out how to keep the excitement alive throughout the year.

Now, you could very well be reading this and thinking, “Aw, sweet Amanda. That’s common sense.”  Looking back, it’s so obvious to me that my course of action was way off.  Yes, appealing to Mom is important.  It gets her talking to her friends, and let’s be honest, they foot the bill.  BUT, 90% of my senior bookings happen after Mom tells me that Susie won’t quit bugging her about wanting her Senior Portrait experience with Dash.  No really, I had a dad call me, and say he was tired of hearing his daughter talk about my photos she had found through Instagram.  (Thank you over zealous teenager!)  Since that’s the case, my marketing strategy should be aimed at seniors 90% of the time.  So, how do I do that?

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Previously, I provided all the benefits for the girls right up front.  They didn’t even have to work for it.  There was zero incentive for them to push bookings my way.  So after thinking about it, and listening to a Leah Remillet podcast (shout out to Leah!) I decided on some incentives that were specifically for my seniors.  Numero uno: cold, hard cash.  Yes, I pay my Reps. What senior doesn’t want extra spending money for a Saturday at the mall, or a concert they’ve been dying to go to?  It’s a no brainer.  Each time a Rep brings me a booking, they get $25.  I simply added it in with my costs per session before I determined session and collection values.  For the girls, I’m basically offering them the easiest side job ever.  I also incorporated a few different incentives they could work towards.  After so many bookings, they can earn a mini session with their best friend, their own senior session, and what’s commonly referred to as “Prom Paparazzi”.  That brings me to my next point.

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The whole purpose of a Senior Model Rep program is to spotlight the very best aspects of your photography, as well as creating a buzz about the experience your business gives.  Therefore, I want the shoot I do with the Reps to be the perfect depiction of my style and my brand.  I’m not giving my Reps a free senior session.  I’m giving them the opportunity to be a part of a professionally styled shoot, with hair and make up, along with the other Reps.  I know what they’re wearing, where it’s going to be, and what my inspiration is.  That way, I’m not just hoping the shoot will work for my brand.  I’m sure of it.  It’s important to be very intentional with your Rep program to ensure you get the best results possible.

Another crucial way of being intentional is to make sure you are recruiting girls that understand what you’re asking of them.  The last thing you want is a Rep who isn’t involved in any social activities or has zero motivation.  You want outgoing, connected, and confident ladies!  I do work on my end connecting with people at local high schools who can give me recommendations or sending out general “model calls”, but no matter what, I send every girl that shows interest in being a Rep to my website which has an easily accessible application.   I ask questions that give me a good idea if she is a good fit.   This is a very important step in your process.

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It’s also extremely important to keep the buzz going throughout the year.  Use social media to your advantage, and let your Reps do the work!  Sure, you can push posts on your Facebook Page until you’re blue in the face, but you only reach so many people.  Let’s be honest, how many 16-17 year olds are you friends with on Facebook?   I guarantee your Reps are friends with way more!  So what can you offer them to keep them talking online?  Find creative, cost effective incentives for different forms of advertising such as Twitter shout outs, Instagram tags, and Facebook posts.  Maybe each shout out earns a point, and after so many points they earn a gift card to their favorite store.  Remember to offer rewards that are relevant to them.

Next, arm your Reps with attention grabbing products they can share.  If you are creating stunning images during your Rep Shoot (which, that is the goal), your Models will be thrilled to show them off.  We all know 90% of girls that age jump at the opportunity to show off a good selfie.  Create professional, brand inspired products for them to do so.  That can be done with Rep Cards, post cards they can send their friends, or Facebook banner photos for their profiles.  Be sure to include your business info on the products, and watch your notoriety spread.   You are a creative person!  Don’t let it stop when you put your camera down.  Use it in your marketing.

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Lastly, have fun being their friend!  These are high school students who are young, excited, and have the world ahead of them!  Feed off their excitement, and really work to build a friendship with your Reps.  The more they see you care about them, the more credibility you will gain with them.  Keep in touch with their lives throughout your program.  Ask them how their summers going and how college plans are going.  Be genuine, and your return will go far beyond bookings!

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amanda-coker-dash-photography-1.jpg Amanda Coker of Dash Photography is a freelance wedding and senior photographer based out of Atlanta, GA. She specializes in giving high school seniors a unique and personalized photography experience to kick off their senior year, as well as capturing the story of a bride and groom’s wedding day as to allow them to relive that life-changing event year after year. Follow her adventures and recent work on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, and follow her Blog.

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