Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

March Self Portrait : A Disaster of Camera and Coffee

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A post of self portraits? YES. Because you have no idea what it took to get these! A pink, beautiful, velvet couch may have suffered in it all and I feel I owe it to said couch to post these for you.

Ok, I'll back up, as you're probably wondering WHY I'm even post some self portraits... Remember way back to January when I said I was going to take a self portrait every month and blog about it? Well January was a success! And then February came and went without any portraits. (I was in Las Vegas and then got REALLY sick at the end of the month...) But we did have our portraits taken by the amazing Justin & Mary so those will have to count;) Suddenly that brings us to March and with the month already half over I knew I had to get back on the wagon fast or this challenge was just going to fall to the way side.

I decided it would be cute to take a picture of me in my studio journaling and drinking coffee. Do I drink coffee? YES. Do I journal? Not so much. So why I thought this was a good idea is BEYOND me. C'mon Debbie, let's keep it real, k? So as I was carefully balancing my journal and pen and cute blanket and trying maneuver with a FULL cup of coffee around the crap stuff on the floor, well you can probably guess what happened. The coffee spilled! Here is a before the coffee disaster picture. Clearly this was NOT working. Don't be fooled, sitting calmly on my pink couch looking cute with a cup a joe and not a care in the world, does not happen. Like ever.

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After said coffee disaster, a few choice words were said and then I tried to clean up. I knew the show had to go on and so I sat over the wet spot and continued on. WITHOUT COFFEE or JOURNAL. Just me and my silly self. (btw, I'm still lovin' the VSCO presets, especially for personal projects!)

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Trying to do self portraits is NOT easy, but I have to say I'm enjoying the challenge so much! (Minus the coffee mishaps.) I was giddy as I was uploading the images. Giddy because this series allows me to explore an artistic side that I don't pursue everyday. It gives me an excuse to get out from the desk and enjoy some time in front/behind the camera (didn't think it could be done did you!) If you're looking for a creative (and challenging) outlet, I would encourage you to start your own series! But remember: keep the coffee far away!

Re-Finding My Voice

I've always been shy if I'm out of my element. Put me in a room full of my friends, I'll talk your ear off and crack jokes at a mile a minute. Put in me a room full of strangers and I'm more likely to be cowering in the corner hoping that no one talks to me. It's a wonder that I have friends at all. I've worked hard over the years to stiffen my fear of rejection and new situations, but make no mistake, it's been hard work for me. When I got my first real job working as a news photographer I could hardly believe it. This was my DREAM job and here I was actually living it out! But I was still in college (I worked as an intern then was hired as part time staff) and felt incredibly inadequate working at a Pulitzer Prize winning paper. My co-workers were talented, experienced and good at what they did. And if there is one thing to succeed as a news photographer, it's experience. How could I possibly do well, let alone compete, in such a competitive and talented field?

My first assignment at the paper was to photograph damage of a flood. I brought my images back to my mentor/employer and I thought I might die. I did NOT want her to look at those images. Bluntly, my fears realized, she told me exactly what she thought and quickly. That was her job as an editor after all. Surely she would fire me on the spot I thought. But instead, she told me what worked, what didn't and then told me to go out again. Shoot more. In other words, go find my voice.

Despite my insecurity and lack of experience, my editor saw something in me. A shy, inexperienced photographer, who lacked confidence in herself and in her work but who had a passion and a desire to grow. Slowly, but surely, I worked hard. I challenged myself and I began to find my voice. I began to find confidence. Four years after my editor first hired me, she pulled me aside.

"I remember when you first came to us. You were this shy quite girl. And now here you are, winning awards, going after stories, confident."

I'll never forget that conversation. Because she was right. Being a news photographer gave me a confidence in myself that I had never experienced before. I had to talk to be people, I had to be forward, I had to encounter awkward and difficult situations. And the more I had to do that, the more sure I became of myself and of my work. I had found my voice.

But when I decided that I wanted to be a wedding photographer and small business owner, that all changed. Once again I felt like a fish out of water. Here I was drowning in a sea of other photographers. Photographers who were all talented, experienced, and good at what they did. How could I possibly do well, let alone compete in such a competitive and talented field? At times all I wanted to do was cower in the corner and hope that no one saw me.

And if I'm being totally honest, there are times, lots of times, that I still feel this way. I am learning that I have to re-find my voice. Because I thought that when I moved from being a news photographer to wedding photographer that, that confidence, security and self assured-ness would translate over. And while some of it has, there is a BIG part that I still have yet to re-discover.

What I've realized is that finding your voice doesn't happen over night. It's a gut wrenching, long, process. But that's ok. There is beauty in that and lessons to be learned along the way. I'm still on my way to finding that voice as a wedding photographer. I see glimpses here and there of the photographer I'm becoming, but I know that there is still much to be discovered. Take the risks, feel the pain, enjoy the journey of finding your own voice, your own way. Because once you discover it, it is beautiful.

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Screen shot 2012-03-08 at 9.58.32 AM

Silent Observers, Are You Out There?

Last fall I during an engagement session with one of my favorite couples, a curious conversation came up. She asked me if I ever felt like no one read my blog. And in blunt honesty I stated that yes, there are times where I feel like I am writing to the wind. Then to my surprise she said, "We'll I read your blog every day. In fact, every day my co-workers and I gather around a computer to read, 'The Blog'. Your blog." I nearly stopped dead in my tracks. What an amazing compliment and something that was completely unexpected. That is the reason why I blog five days a week, every week. I blog for people like my amazing client and her co-workers.

Long after that conversation I kept thinking about what she said. If she is reading the blog, how many others out there are just like her: silent observers.

If you find that you fall in that category, I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!:) I desire your feedback, your comments, your likes. I want to know what you like, what you want to read, what you want to see. I want to know what makes you want to comment, what draws your attention and what makes you smile.

I never want any person reading this blog to be afraid to leave their thoughts, ideas and comments here. I want you to feel free to share and voice yourself here. I intend this to be a place of discussion and openness. I want what I share to edify your life and to be worthy of your time.

So if you're a silent observer, I hope you'll occasionally say hi. And if this post as struck a cord in you, I hope you'll leave a comment below with your thoughts!

This is Carlene Cockburn from the new series GCB spying on her neighbor. (Check it out, if you haven't! A little bit of hilarity and ridiculous-ness always brightens up my week:)) And it made me think, how many of you are like this? Silent observers. With Chanel jumpsuits. :-P

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Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 4.51.37 PM

Featured: Elizabeth Anne Designs and Borrowed & Bleu

 

Recently I was talking with another industry peer about having your work featured on blogs. We chatted about blogs and how exciting it can be to see some of your favorite images on some of your favorite blogs. But even more important, we chatted about how excited we feel for each of our couples! They work so hard on planning each detail of their day. From the small to the big, these details are a labor of love for each of our couples. To see their hard work recognized and praised can be such a fantastic feeling to a bride. And to know that I've captured their labor of love, their wedding, in a way that truly describes each element of their day, is such a rewarding feeling as a photographer.

Recently several of my couple's weddings have been featured and I am really excited to share them with you here. You've probably already seen their wedding, but check out the features too! It's fun to see how another person sees that wedding differently. To all my couples who have been featured, congratulations! I'm so happy to see your hard work is continuing to bring joy to people well beyond the wedding day!

I was SO excited to see Debs & Alex's beautiful vineyard wedding featured on Elizabeth Anne Designs recently. Mod Cloth bridesmaids dresses, beautiful hydrangea bouquets and a ton of DIY reception details, it's a wedding not to be missed! You can check out the feature here.

Recently Abby and Devin's flower filled engagement session at the Arnold Arboretum was featured on Borrowed & Bleu. You can check out the feature, here.

John and Carisa's beautiful country club wedding was featured on DK Floral. You can check out the feature here and the original feature on Elizabeth Anne Designs, here.

Finally the amazing floral designs of K. Lilly Floral Design were featured on Blue Jeans or Black Tie, but albeit, not recently! You can view the feature here.

Happy Second Birthday Blog!

 

Blog, you are two years old today. Two years old. How time really does fly.

I began writing here two years ago with a small dream tucked away deep in my heart. A dream that I desperately wanted to see happen, but was afraid to speak into reality. And yet despite my lack of confidence and faith this blog and business has grown continually, into something completely beyond what I could have imagined.

I dreamed of owning my own business and becoming a full time wedding photographer but, I never truly believed that it could happen. And yet. And yet here I am running a small business. Wow.

This blog, this business, would not, could not, exist without your love. Without your support. Without your encouragement. I write here for me, to document my life and the lives of my couples. And I share that with you. But what continues to amaze me is what you share back with me. The love you show for my couples and the support you have shown this business and blog just overwhelms me. Because of you I can live out my dream. I can live the life I love. I can share life with you, dear readers.

So Happy Birthday Blog!

What would a birthday blog post be without a little celebration? And we did just that yesterday in our little kitchen.

And not to be out done, Jasmine had to get in on the birthday celebration!

The Bookworm Club: Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz

 

"I'd encourage everyone to dream big, lay your foundations well, absorb information like a sponge, and not be afraid to defy conventional wisdom. Just because it hasn't been done before doesn't mean you shouldn't try." -- Howard Schultz, Pour Your Heart Into It

I've reviewed several business books here on the blog. They have all been great and I've gleaned much information from within the pages of these reads. Recently, I read a book that has completely changed the way that I see my business and how I relate to customers: Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz. That guy that "created" Starbucks.

I opened the first page of this book more as a Starbucks fan than anything. I thought it would be fun to learn about how Starbucks came to be and how Howard created this extrodinary THING called Starbucks. But after the first chapter, I found myself underlining every other line. There was SO much information that I could glean, SO much information that I could apply directly to my business.

The book is a history of Starbucks up until 1997 or so. And it does read like a memoir of sorts of Starbucks and Schultz. But beyond just history Schultz infuses this book with antedotes and thoughts about what he believes helped Starbucks grow into what it is. Schultz shares with his readers what he believes are the cornerstones of small successfull businesses and entrepeneroers. I was hooked on his every word.

If you are a small business owner, a brand creator or just starting out I highly recommend getting this book and spending a week looking at the life of Starbucks. Are there principals that you can apply to your business, your work ethic, your brand? I guarantee there are. This is one book that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Here are just some of my favorite and thought provoking quotes that I underlined through out the book!

"Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone. The best reward is to get there surrounded by winners. The more winners you can bring with you - whether they're employees, customers, shareholders, or readers - the more gratifying the victory." -- I think that many photographers are really good at this idea. We love sharing with each other, teaching and learning from each other. We love being on this journey together. But can we go further? Can we apply this even more broadly to our businesses and relationship with our peers? What would our businesses and relationships look like if we did?

"First every company must stand for something. Starbucks stood for not only good coffee, but specifically for dark-roasted flavor profile that the founders were passionate about. That's what differntiated it and made it authentic." -- I want an authentic and relevant business. I want a business that stands for something, that means something, that adds value. This quote jumped off the page, grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me around. My business MUST stand for something but not just anything. Something that is authentic to who I am. How can my business add to the world and just not myself?

"It's one thing to dream, but when the moment is right you've got to be willing to leave what's familiar and go out to find your own sound." -- This is exactly what happened when I left my newspaper job and something I recently shared.

"Whatever your culture, your values, your guiding principles, you have to take steps to inoculate them in the organization early in its life so that they can guide every decision, every hire, every strategic objective you set. Whever you are the CEO or a lower level employee, the single most important thing you can do at work each day is coummunicate your values to others." -- I could, no NEED to do this better. My convictions and guiding principles need to play a bigger role in all aspects of my business. Do you?

"We had a mission, to  educate customers everywhere about fine coffee. We had a vision, to create an atmosphere in our stores that drew people in and gave them a sense of wonder and romance in the midst of their harried lives. We had an idealisitc dream, that our company could be far more than the paradigm definded by corporate America in the past." -- What is your mission? What is your vision? What is your dream? Answer these questions specifically. You'll draw a clear picture of why you are in business, of what you want your business to look like and WHO your business is for.

There are SO many other quotes that I could pull from this book but I'll stop there and encourage you to go out and purchase a copy for yourself. Find yourself lost in the dream and the story of Starbucks. Find the points that you can take away and begin to implement them in to your business now. Who knew that a story about coffee beans could so radically change the way that I and many others think about their business. Mhmm coffee...

 

One lucky reader will win a copy of Pour Your Heart Into It. Just leave a comment below with your favorite Starbucks drink! The winner will be announced tomorrow! Good luck and happy reading!

The Bookworm Club: Lovemarks, The Future Beyond Brands

A few weeks ago someone said to me that I should start a Book Club. I chuckled a little and kind of brushed the statement away. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I already am doing a book club. Sort of. You see, this Bookworm series has been my version of a book club. A place where I can share with you the latest books that I am reading, get feedback and  receive recommendations on books I should read. This series has been one of my favorite things to write about this past year. So I thought a change in name would be appropriate to better represent what I hope this series can become. Welcome, The Bookworm Club. To kick things off, I thought I'd share my reaction to reading Lovemarks, The Future Beyond Brands by Kevin Roberts. Last night I finished the book and was so proud of myself that I posted a picture on Facebook late last night. Immediately I started getting questions if the book was good and worth the read. Let me just say this. If you are a business owner: YOU MUST OWN THIS BOOK. I'm sure many of you have heard other people raving about this book too. This first time I heard about it was at Justin and Mary's WPPI talk in 2010. But like most of you I held off on purchasing the book, and it wasn't until this summer that I found the time to dive in.

The book managed to live up to it's hype, filling every page with information, graphics and images to the point of brain overload. Kevin tackles SO many different areas of business that having a notebook and a pen handy while you read is necessary. Kevin also dives into the mind of the consumer and gives your practical tips at the end of each chapter of how to apply all that you just read. A great tool for me, as at the end of each chapter I found myself completely inspired but also completely overwhelmed.

The are several things that were huge take aways for me. First, thinking and responding like a customer can better help me understand and serve those customers. Giving them a great experience is not just about presentation, but also in the way that you interact and work through problems together with a client. And while presentation is important, the relationship that you've built with that customer or client is going to be what keeps them coming back later.

“Look through the eyes of the shopper. The closer you get to her experience, the richer and smarter your responses.” Lovemarks, Kevin Roberts.

Become a shopper to your own business. What areas work, what areas need tweaking? Are you excelling in giving your customer and clients the best possible experience, from presentation to communication to your responses? If not, pick one area and start small. Make the adjusts that need to be made to give your clients the best.

Ahh, but that brings us to my second take away. Taking risks. Giving clients an exceptional experience takes an element of risk. Maybe it means changing the way you've done things for years. Maybe it means implementing something you've never done before. Same is safe, same is known. Change is risky. Change is unknown. If I were being completely honest, I hate change and so the thought of taking risks, risks with outcomes unknown, is petrifying. But this quote below I think sums up WHY we must push ourselves, to risk for the benefit of our businesses, our clients and for ourselves!

“Go to the edge. Everyone at the center thinks the same way. That’s why they ended up there in the first place. The edge is unsettled and risky. Perfect to shake up conventions and formulas and come up with new ideas.” Lovemarks, Kevin Robert

Lovemarks, offers a huge amount of inspiration and thought provoking information about how to develop your business into the kind of businesses that are loved. Respected. Impactful. I think we all want our businesses to look like that. Let's make it happen.

 

 

**One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Lovemarks all for their own. To enter to win, just leave a comment below. The winner will be announced on Friday. Happy reading everyone!**

The Bookworm Club: How To Become A Rainmaker by Jeffrey Fox

  I think I first heard about this book from Justin & Mary. And if I didn't, well, I think that they would definitely enjoy this read;) I read it on our way to Napa this past spring. I needed inspiration, I needed encouragement, I needed a swift kick in the rear end. Enter How To Become A Rainmaker by Jeffrey Fox.

This book is a no nonsense look at how to develop strong and real relationships in your business life that leads to growth and success. While it is a quick and easy read, the topics discussed in this book are huge and can have an amazing impact on your business. At 50 chapters the books reads like a list of rules of "getting and keeping customers and clients." The inside jacket of the book reads "Rainmakers are not born. They are made." It takes work and determination to create a successful business and it's often the little things that we overlook that can make the biggest impact on that success. What are you doing to make it rain in your business? What little things are you doing to go the extra mile in your business relationships?

As always, I'll share my top five take away points from the book. I highly recommend that you grab a copy for yourself. Tackle one chapter and start implementing those ideas into your business today.

How To Become A Rainmaker by Jeffery Fox:

  • "Always answer the question why should the customer do business with us?" -- It's a HARD question to answer and I immediately felt convicted that I haven't spent nearly as much time on this question as I should. Mostly because it's a hard. It requires a deep look at yourself and your business, which can often times be painful or discouraging. But the end result of such a task will reap benefits far beyond what you can imagine.
  • "Earthquakes don't count." -- Rainmakers work hard. They don't make excuses for why a project wasn't accomplished or a goal wasn't met. Like I said, swift kick in the rear end. Fox doesn't sugar coat anything and that is exactly what I needed to hear. How many times do I say there are not enough hours in the day but yet find enough time to spend onFacebook? Exactly. Rainmakers don't make excuses, they run and work hard to see tasks and goals accomplished. There are no excuses to living your dream.
  • "Treat everyone you meet as a potential client." Rainmakers are polite and courteous to everyone. Everyone is a potential client. Whether waiting in line at the post office or stuck in traffic on the highway they treat everyone with respect. Oh, how it easy it is for my red headed hot tempered ways get the best of me (especially in traffic, at rush hour). But I do see that as a Rainmaker, I need to realize that potential clients are everywhere. My reputation as a business owner and as a brand depends on how I treat others, even when I'm in a bad mood (and I think no one is watching).
  • "Always be on high receive" -- I think one tendency we might have as experts (photographers) is that we like to tell people what we know. We like to share our knowledge with our clients. But Fox states that we have to be careful to also listen to our clients, to hear what they are saying, to take an active role as listener in each of our conversations with our clients. "Your job is to listen to your customers, to ask interesting questions." "Rainmakers focus on the customers. Rainmakers give individual attention. To the Rainmaker the customer is king and the sales call is an invitation to the king's court." -- Exactly.
  • "Here's my card." -- I have to admit that I am not one who is extremely comfortable with the idea of talking about myself. Writing the bio page to my website was one of the hardest things I have had to do. Because really, who likes a person who likes to talk about themselves? When it comes time to hand out business cards I can often find myself shrinking away, as if handing out a business card is some how bragging on myself. Dumb I know, but in all honesty, it's hard to promote your business when your business is focused on you! So this chapter was an encouragement to me. Don't be afraid to hand out your business card. Give them away freely all the time. As Fox says, "Business cards are to get and keep customers." Duh, I know.

I cannot recommend this book enough. This will be a book that sits on my desk for daily inspiration. And because I want YOU to be able to experience a dose of daily inspiration, I am giving away one copy of the book to a lucky reader. Just comment below with your favorite piece of advice that someone has shared with you. I'll announce the winner on the blog tomorrow. Happy Reading!

The Bookworm Club: Who Moved My Cheese & It's Not How Good You Are But How Good You Want To Be

It's doubleheader day for Bookworm! I lumped these two particular books together because they are VERY quick reads with easy topics to digest. I look at them as more of bite sized inspiration, little nuggets to tuck away into your memory.

Both of these books have been recommended to me. I LOVE when people recommend me a good book!

I found both of these books at the used book store. A quick wash of the cover and they were as good as new, ready for me to mark up and enjoy! And enjoy I did!

I would highly recommend both of these reads to anyone, not just creatives and business owners. They encompass life lessons that apply far beyond your business.

Because both of these books are so short and quick I thought I'd give a five bullet point review on each; my top five take away points.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson -- A book about two lab mice and two miniature humans. It's an analogy about the way we look at change and how we handle it. It's a fascinating description of the various reactions people have to change in their life. You may view yourself differently after reading this book, I did.

  • Change is hard but inevitable
  • While change can hurt, not changing can be more painful.
  • Learning to move with change and to expand your thinking will not only help grow your business but you'll grow too!
  • There may be people in your life who don't want to move with change. While painful, sometimes the best thing you can do for them and yourself is to set the example and change.
  • Same is simple. Same is safe. Change is difficult. Change is hard. BUT the other side of change brings joy, peace, and can often times be better than the same you are living today.

It's Not How Good You Are But How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden -- A book of quick and easy stories that focus on the varied success of businesses, people and brands around the world. It's a book of advice and tidbits to help you overcome yourself, your doubts, your fears. As Paul states, "Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have."

  • "Do not covet your ideas. Give everything away that you know and more will come back to you"
  • "Do not seek praise, seek criticism."
  • "So how good to you want to be? Quite good, good, very good, the best in the field, the best in the world?"
  • "Talent helps, but it won't take you as far as ambition."
  • "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

 

Currently I am reading Love is The Killer App by Tim Sanders. (I'll fully review when I'm done reading) In his book he writes that people who change the world, read and SHARE what they are reading. I could not agree more with this statement. I love being able to pass on books that have changed or shaped the way I see the world. SO I will be giving away one copy of either Who Moved My Cheese or It's Not How Good You Are It's How Good You Want To Be to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner at random tomorrow! Happy reading!