Sept 15th 2010 marked the sale of my first online print, thus the first virtual dollar my business has made. So One year later things are still going very strong for Cizek Photography.
This was a “get to know you” questionairre which was posted in the photography group I am a member of called An American Photographer in Germany. I thought it would be fun to post this on my blog so that my fans and customers can learn a little bit more about me and and can see how much my business has grown in the past year. I hope you enjoy! It took me a while to answer all these questions :)
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
Stuttgart Germany. I have lived here about a year and a half
Where were you before Germany and where do you call home?
fayette-nam, NC before that Charlotte, NC. Seattle, WA. Tucson, AZ. Charleston, SC home is lexington, SC
What is your website address / Facebook page?
What did you do before photography ?
What didnt I do? sandwich artist, bartender, car salesman, advertising sales, alarm sales, substitute teacher
Did you start off doing photography, then gave up and why ?
I have always had a camera since I was old enough to hold one ;) I use to work for the boat, bike, and RV trader doing photography for them when I was in College and before that I took photography and photoshop in high school
Why did you want to be a photographer ?
I would see these amazing works of art in the magazines, and hanging in galleries and would think to myself WoW How does one acheive such perfection?? I have always had that creative spark and enjoyed taking photos but it was actually my friends and family that told me that my pictures were great and that pushed me to do this. I have always loved photography but never realized I could do something that I loved so much as an actual profession. My hubby bought me my first DSLR about 2 1/2 years ago and it wasnt until I started figuring out my camera that I realized I was in control of my work and my art. My love for photographyhas grown tremendously since then and I am looking forward to what this career path will bring for my future.
How have you progressed over the years ?
I have progressed in many ways, I have always liked taking pictures and I had thoughts and ideas about what I wanted to acheive and how I wanted my photo to look but because I didnt know how to use my camera properly I was never able to achieve what I had in mind. I have been teaching myself everything for the most part with online photography tutorials and websites like digital photography school, creative live etc. I have been lucky enough to follow some great photographers and have had one on one time with them. The best part is being part of these photography groups and forums. I have really met some great people who actually love helping and truly want to see you be successful. I am slowly creating my own style and I hope that my personality is starting to show in my work. A year and a half ago I didnt even know what an aperture was so I feel I have come a long way in a short amount of time.
Is being a photographer your dream job ?
I would have to say YES 100% YES!! Pretty much every job I have ever had I have dreaded waking up in the morning.. “another boring day at work making money but doing something I really dont enjoy doing… but I have to do it to pay the bills” I was just never really satisfied and the jobs were never fulfilling to me. This job is so fulfilling! I get to do what I love to do! I get to play dress up and do hair and makeup and get creative! I get to be my own boss! make my own schedule! Sleep in!! Its a mobile job that I can take anywhere (which is perfect for a military spouse) AND The best part is I get to make people really really happy! I get to see smiles for miles! I have met so many amazing people along the way and I am just really excited for what my future has in store :)
Have you been successful ?
I actually think that I have been pretty successful so far. I went from shooting friends for free to booking 3-5 shoots a week just on referrals from clients and friends in the community. Without all of the awesome referrals I dont think my business would be where it is today. I have only been up and running for a year now since sept 15th 2010 and I am super busy and loving every second of it. I feel my work has improved since day one and I hope that my clients feel the same way and that they will keep referring me.
What photography do you specialize in (Or your favorite thing to shoot) ?
My favorite thing to shoots is landscape and architectural photographs but until someone can get me a job with the National Geographic I will continue to shoot Portraits. I love portrait photography dont get me wrong, there is just something special about being out with your camera in the middle of some strange foreign country or town and capturing that feeling, mood, and emotion that you were feeling at that exact point in time. I specialize in family, and portraits of children and babies but I am working on my modeling portfolio right now trying to build that up as well.
Who is/are other photographers you admire ?
Kimberly Krauk from Zoom photography. Her work is amazing and I love her digital art as well. One day I will be as good as her. Please add her page on fb and tell her I sent you its
What were you charging when you first started ?
When I first started I was doing free portfolio buiding shoots or taking donations. Once I felt more comforable with what I was doing I charged $50 for the session and a CD of images, then I charged $75
What are you charging now ?
Now I have several different packages that I offer so depending on what type of package you would like it varies. My session fee is now $125, then you have to pay either $25 (20 images) or $50 (40-50 images) with a minimum print purchase of $50 to get the CD. I also offer Belly to Baby packages and some other packages as well.
That is the minimum package and that is with a military discount. The other packages go up from there. My print packages start at $100
What do you find is the hardest technical thing about photography ?
Lighting! definately lighting. I need some serious one on one time with the lighting experts… any takers :)
What do you find is the easiest ?
actually working with people. I have found that I am a pretty good people person and I tend to make my customers feel at ease by acting like a jack a** and being silly so that they wont feel awkward or uncomfortable.
What’s your least/most favourite thing about photography ?
I love editing! Its one of my favorite things to do but my least favorite thing to do is fix a minor problem that I should have fixed in camera, on every single image. It takes time away from me actually doing some creative editing on my photos and instead I am working on silly white balance adjustments or fixing the exposure values.
My favorite thing is taking photographs!! I know that sounds silly but there is something really awesome about going on a shoot and seeing that person right in front of your eyes. YOu know what they look like then, but for some reason you are like a kid in candy store when you get home. You cant wait to take that memory card out and open it up just to see what you produced. It is just an amazing feeling and I think I will continue to get excited about it after every single shoot.
Are you Nikon/Canon/Etc.. and why, and, if you’ve switched brands in the past, why so?
I have always been a canon girl. I dont know why, it just feels right. I just feel like its way more user friendly than nikon’s. I have seen some amazing shots with Nikons but its like greek to me so I will stick with my Canon for now
Where did you learn about photography ?
I took photography in high school. Way back in the day where we actually had to develop our own film in the darkroom. That makes me feel old! But before that when I was in middle school I always had a camera in hand. I was way too into making collages of people and had at least 10 of those giant poster sized boards with photos hanging in my room. I think I was a little obsessed
Do you think you have your own style of photography, if so, what is it about your photos that stand out ?
I think finding your own style is one of the hardest things to do. I dont even think I can say that I have 100% figured out what my style is yet. I tend to go for more natural lifestyle work when I am dong portraits. I like to capture people being people.. I am not so much into the pose here and smile. I like to use unique editing on my photos so that they are original and more artistic then what they look like straight out of the camera. I want them to convey emotion and draw you in so that it makes you want to see more of my work ;)
What do you think makes a good photographer ?
A good all around person, good personality, good business sense, POSITIVE attitude above all!! Go getter! and someone that loves what they do and it shows! They produce great work and they are always interested in continuing their education.
What was your worst client experience ?
Honestly, I dont want to jinx it but I have had pretty good luck with clients so far. The only thing that I will say was that when I was first starting out I had a few clients that had photos taken by me but decided to go and get more professional photos taken. I tried not to take it to heart because I knew I was still new at my job and maybe they just weren’t happy with the results, but they all told me they loved the photos so I just had to go with what they said. My sweet husband tried to convince me that people just like having pictures done. He said that I shouldn’t take it personally because it was a social event for them. I tried to let it roll off my back but at first I was a little offended.
What was your best client experience ?
I would have to say it was actually a free shoot that I did because I wanted to learn how to do newborn photography. It was a friend of mine with the sweetest cutest baby boy who was absolutely perfect for our shoot. He slept the entire time and let me pose him in all sorts of crazy positions and I got some amazing portfolio worthy pictures. Love you Ziggy!
What goes through your head right before you snap a picture ?
framed? check. focus? check. this is going to be awesome :)
How do you handle family/friends asking for discounts (If applicable) ?
Most of them I did from the get go when I was portfolio building but I havent really run into that problem very much. My friends actually insisted on paying me what I normally charge.
How do you think that you can improve ?
I think continued education is a huge part of photography. keeping up with the newest and most current trends etc. I think I can improve by getting quicker at adjusting my settings on the spot. I shoot in manual most of the time but sometimes i get in situations where the lighting is weird or Im chasing a kid and I cant change my settings on the fly. I would like to be more comfortable and confident and to learn more about studio lighting and posing
Do you think you’ll be doing photography for the rest of your working life (if applicable)?
Until I cant see anymore or my fingers cant push the shutter button!
If you had to pick one photo to look at for the rest of your life, what would it be ?
A photograph of my sweet sweet Berkeley dog. His face will never get old to me
What is your best photo ?
I think this quote pretty much sums this one up
Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. – Imogen Cunningham
What do you think you need help with ?
lighting and posing techniques for studio shooting. I have been doing mostly outdoor natural light photography but here in Germany we have lovely winters so I need to feel more comfortable with the studio set up.
Thanks for reading ;)