The Maraska Family in Jaffa

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A few months after I first met Keturah at a Diplomatic Spouses of Israel event I taught her photography, and we have been creative buddies ever since. Funnily enough, her younger son was taking photography class at school, so they were sharing one camera, and he almost took it to school that day! Side note: He has done some amazing work this year – it is really inspiring to see how our high schoolers capture the world around them!

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Keturah has been a great boy mom mentor to me as well as my creative adventurer friend. We have shared a few walkabouts and my favorite time was when she accompanied me on a recce to Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel before a client session. A recce is a term I learned from Lindy-Ann, as it is mostly used in the places where they speak the Queen’s English to describe a fact finding mission coming from the term reconnaissance.

 

We had so much fun finding the most picturesque nooks, crannies, graffiti, and doors in the old city and chatting over coffee. Jaffa is definitely one of my favorite locations to shoot and one of their family’s go to spots, so it was the perfect location choice when she decided to trust me with her family’s first photography session ever!

Location: Old City Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel

Date and time: May 9:00am

Weather: Bright & Sunny – cool in the shade of the buildings

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As this was their first professional family session, we talked about what she wanted from the session a bit beforehand and I was challenged by a comment she had made about not looking good in photos. It was my mission to prove her wrong!

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We had such a great time and we joked and laughed our way from graffiti wall to colored door. It was really fun for me to shoot “big boys” and get a glimpse of my future – a tall and skinny big brother and a cheeky little brother. When I say cheeky, I mean he was hiding his signature thumbs-up pose behind his parents backs in every photo! It was hilarious.

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The lesson learned for this session would be that a ladder would have been helpful to capture those tall boys and some overhead shots that I visualized – I couldn’t climb high enough. Short girl problems, right? As I mentioned earlier, there is such huge benefits to doing recces of new locations prior to the session. It can make all the difference to know where you want to lead your subjects and planning ahead will never fail to make you more confident.

 

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This session is special to me of course because of our friendship, but more than that, it was about trust. As a photographer, it is an honor when someone trusts you to let you into their lives, to capture their family, and to truly see them. We must never take that for granted, because trust is not freely given.

Here’s to trusting and to bringing out the best others!

Cheers,
kdg

PS –  Look for Keturah’s upcoming guest post on It’s a Colo{u}rful World, sharing her trip to Ein Hod Artist Village. She really is a fantastic and inspiring explorer, mom, wife, and friend!

Creativity Meets Business Class

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When my best friend Melissa and I met at Mary Washington College (UMW, now), she was not my biggest fan. Her first impressions of me are hysterical to us now. Fast forward a decade later she is the chair of the Technology Integration Department of one of the top 10 private schools in the state of Virginia, Flint Hill School. In addition to the amazing things she does in her department, which she shares on her blog (and will with us in the future), she is also teaching a high school business course. Guess who she asked to be one of her  student entrepreneur mentors? Obviously, she is now one of my biggest fans, ha!

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I used to be a Young Life leader, and I do have a huge heart for high school kids, but it has been a little while since those days, so I was a little hesitant. I made it clear that I am a photographer and creative first and a business woman second, but she insisted that her students could really benefit from my experiences and I might learn a thing of two from their insight as well. Challenge accepted.

I had my first video conference with three very considerate and clever young men a couple  of weeks ago. Having the kids at home, it felt like a slightly awkward interview at a nursery with my littles jumping in to say “Hi” to the “big boys”….and that, gentlemen, is what it looks like to be a momepreneur.

Going forward, I will be sharing the experience here on the blog and at the same time documenting the process of merging creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit into a successful business.

The following are the questions they asked me and my uninterrupted thoughts.

How did you create your business?

I started with a Facebook page in Nov 2013. In January 2014 my family moved to Kuwait and I had my first paid session in May. Most of my clients came to me by word of mouth, which has worked over the years, however I would like to develop a strategy in the future to engage more people, as well as transition with me from post to post. I would like to figure out a formula that can quickly establish me, the photographer, in each new market.

How did you fund your business?

I started out using my personal DSLR crop frame camera, Canon 60D and as I gained income I was able to purchase more, and in some cases better equipment, including a full frame camera, Canon 6D, and MacBook Pro, as well as props. On a rare occasion I will purchase items on credit and pay it off as as soon as possible. I try pretty hard not to purchase beyond my means. Dave Ramsey would be proud.

How was your first couple years. Did you make enough money to support yourself?

My first few years were indeed better than I had anticipated, however my business was established as a secondary income for the family, not as the primary financial support to it. That said, my goal evolved from purchasing equipment to adding income to our family.  Although I do believe one can never have enough accessories 😛

How big is your business and have you ever thought of expanding?

DG is solely me, except for when I hire assistants for sessions, and of course when my husband helps me with my taxes and decision making, he is the best CFO/COO ever (and that’s not because he just says yes to everything)! I can’t forget to mention that my husband’s best friend is my awesome attroney, when I need some legal advice. (love you Is!)

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Behind the scenes with Jillian Bellamy assisting

DGRCP is a collaboration with another creative entrepreneur and photographer, Lindy-Ann. Together we have written a photography pocket guide and photoshop guide, started this blog, and we have plans and big dreams for other collaborations. We hope to grow our businesses as well as our community of photographers and creatives.

Why Tel Aviv?

With my husband’s job we move to different posts every 2-3 years. Tel Aviv is our second family tour, after two years in Kuwait.

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Did your military family upbringing help you in creating your business?

Yes. I think it has influenced my perspective on moving my business to new markets every 2-3 years. Rather than seeing it as “restarting” I think of it as “starting fresh” – an opportunity for new experiences, fresh settings, and lovely new clients. In addition to that mindset, Lindy-Ann and I have built a wonderful online Facebook community that keeps me connected to the photogs and creatives we have taught and met along the way.

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I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what ideas and inspiration come from working with these fantastic students. If nothing else, it’s causing me to look at my business from a different perspective.

Sign up to follow along for more creative entrepreneur posts and heaps of colo{u}rful fun!

Cheers,
kdg

Capturing the Cunhas

View More: http://dgdesignsphotography.pass.us/cunha-family

When I reflect on my experience photographing Lindy-Ann and her monkeys, I feel privileged to be their photographer and a part of their family. I was a bit intimidated going into our first session, but Lindy-Ann’s confidence in my skills calmed and encouraged me. To be honest, I still call her for a dose of encouragement and truth weekly! I am so thankful to have her in my life.

We had two very different photography sessions together before I left Kuwait and it is so fun to see how much can change in a year, especially with kids.

{Cunha Family Session 1}

Location: Al-Corniche Club, Kuwait City

Date and time: November, 2014. 8:30am

Weather: Bright & Sunny

Although this was one of my earlier sessions, I am still very proud of these images. Capturing the love in their interactions was a thrill. One of my most favorite shots of the whole session is when her three little monkeys are laughing at their dad behind me, they couldn’t help but glow with pure joy.

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Since I had the gift a knowledgeable client, I took advantage of it and debriefed with Lindy-Ann after our session. We shared our thoughts from the experience on both sides of the camera and it has helped me be a better photographer. It takes a lot to trust and be vulnerable with someone, but if you find the right client I suggest getting their feedback, it will help you grow.

One of the main things we both learned was that to capture bubbles you need a good deal of contrast in background. A bright beach morning with kids in white made our bubbles hard to see. The next time you are hoping to photograph a delightful little bubble scene, be sure there is enough contrast or color on location and your shutter speed is high enough to balance stopping motion and allowing in the right amount of light in.

{Cunha Family Session 1}

Location: Scientific Center Boardwalk, Kuwait City

Date and time: November, 2015. 8:30am

Weather: Sunny & Windy

For our second session we had a rocky start, because our location of choice, Al Shaheed Park in downtown Kuwait, was sadly closed on Friday mornings and we hadn’t checked before we met there. Standing outside the gate we came up with a Plan B and moved our shoot to the Marina Crescent. This threw ALL of us a off a bit. I was unable to use my plan for the shoot and a chunk of our time was lost. All that said, we had a fantastic time and it was a completely different feel from our first session.

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The lesson here was to always double check your location’s opening hours as well as restrictions, as some parks and monuments have photography restrictions, including Al Shaheed. Another important note is you should always do a recce, or reconnaissance, tour before meeting your client there, so you know what you are working with.

Each session brings it’s own unique circumstances and situations no matter how many times you have used a location, prop, or pose. The important thing to remember is to approach each one with an open heart, because you never know when a client will become a lifelong friend, or in our case partner.

Cheers,

kdg