Category Archives: The Business

The Inevitable…and why I need more skinny jeans

The past week or so has been pretty exciting. Ever since I decided it was time to tell the world that I want to be a wedding photographer (did you hear, by the way?), it’s practically been spilling off my tongue to anyone who will listen. I’m amazed at the change in where I am now from where I was the day before I told my secret. Since the new year, I’ve joined three online networking groups for photographers. I’ve met six or seven new photographers in Austin and I’ve got a coffee date this week to meet another new friend. I’ve been offered the opportunity to shadow/second shoot for one (yes, I will be following up with you! We’ve got to make that happen!). I have an invitation to coffee with my own wedding photographer, Leah, who thankfully has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. I have business cards.

Yes, I’ve come a long way from the girl who two weeks ago spent night after night studying the sites of wedding photographers wishing that I could do what they do. I’m at the very beginning. I’ve got a long, long, way to go, but I’m on my way.

More proof? I’m headed to WPPI and Showit United next month in crazy Las Vegas, and I’ve learned some of the most valuable events and meet-ups aren’t on the calendar, but typically happen at a moments notice and if you’re not on Twitter or Facebook, you’re going to be out of the loop. Well hey, if I’m going to make the trek all the way to sin city and invest the time, I do not want to miss out. So I did the inevitable…I traded in my archaic, dusty but trusty old cell phone for one of these things.

Ashley Terry 2012

Not really by choice, mind you, but for the $0.99 deal AT&T was offering, I couldn’t pass it up. And I have to admit…it’s kind of neat. Don’t tell my husband I said that. This now makes a MacBook and two iPhones in our house. Are we hipster enough to own this many Apple products? I think I should go invest in a few more pair of skinny jeans, just to be safe.

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Random & Not So Random

In completely random news today, Marlin and I decided that Thursday nights are going to be our new date night, so this will be the last time I post on a Thursday night for a while. This means I have to get myself in gear and make it happen in the early mornings. Anyone know a good drill sergeant to keep me on track?

In not-so-random news today, look who’s got her very first set of photography business cards!

Ashley Terry 2012

I’m so excited I wanted to give one to the woman at the furniture store tonight…and to our waiter at Chili’s (thank you again for the gift card, White Family)! I put one aside to keep for sentimental value and I really want to frame another set, but, alas, they must go out into the world and help me meet some brides!

For anyone out there looking for business cards, I used Moo, which is a company I’ve never heard of, but they totally rocked my socks off. Your first 50 cards are free. They have beautiful templates to choose from or you can design your own (see cards above). You can choose to print on recycled paper (um, hello, I was sold right there). And to top it off, these babies weren’t due to arrive in my mailbox for another two weeks and they showed up today! For that, Moo now has my undying devotion. I have no time to waste, people!

So, who wants a business card? Don’t be surprised if you see them floating around all over town. I may just climb to the roof of the Austonian and  toss them out by the handful.

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Why you need to say it out loud.

A few days ago I proclaimed to the World Wide Web and the whole wide world that I want to be a wedding photographer. It sounded as crazy in my head as it does when I sit here typing it, and that’s precisely why I waited so long to admit it.

But the craziest things have started to happen. Out of the blue, I got the sweetest note of encouragement from a photographer that I adore on my blog. I’m getting congratulatory notes from photographers in the online forum I’m part of. I got connected with another group that’s meeting up this week for an industry web conference (I’m bringing the veggie tray, ’cause I’m cool like that). And I’m connecting with new photographers on Facebook and Twitter, starting conversations with people who have been where I am and are headed where I want to be.

Did you get that? I told the world my big, crazy, audacious, outrageous plan and it totally laughed at me welcomed me with open arms. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone out there is happy about my plans, but I won’t spend much time listening to them anyway.

What dreams do you have for 2012 (and beyond) that you’re afraid to say out loud? What happens may just surprise you.

Ashley Terry 2012

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January Goals

Yesterday I wrote the rent check for our apartment and oh my goodness, do you realize it’s actually 2012? January is here, 2011 is gone, and time keeps flying by so it’s time to get busy on the goals! A few days ago I posted about sharing my professional goals, so I want to do that each month for 2012. Partly to keep myself accountable (hold me accountable, Internet!), but also to share my journey and hopefully to learn from any of you who are kind enough to leave some feedback on my crazy aspirations.

Ready? Here we go!

1. I’ll write a rough draft of the first six devotional topics for the book I’m writing this year (i.e.those crazy aspirations)

2. Get my first wedding on the calendar!

This is a big one, y’all. I don’t know who they are yet, but I have a feeling my first wedding couple will be friends I’ll be forever grateful for. We’ve all got to start somewhere, right? I can’t wait to meet you, whoever you are!

3. Build out a basic outline for the magazine (yes, magazine!) I’m planning.

Maybe I should rename this post from “January Goals” to “My Crazy Aspirations.” This will include ideas for a title (I’ve been racking my brain on this for months, but the right thing just hasn’t come to me yet), basic concept and reader profile, and a decision on the publication platform I’ll be using (I’m thinking we’ll start with digital editions to begin with).

So there it is! Now you know how truly crazy I am, and I have an idea of how challenging 2012 will be. I couldn’t be more excited!

Ashley Terry 2012

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Here it is. No turning back.

I’ve donned my favorite lounge pants, poured a glass of Riesling, and I’m ready to spend a quiet night at home with the dogs and my hubby. I can’t think of a better way to finish out the year, and oh what a year it has been. Twelve months ago I had a brand new camera, no idea what I was doing, and one really big blurry picture in my head of what I wanted for my life.

This year I’ve reminded myself of my pre-teen self, when I was quite obviously head-over-heels in Crushville for that blonde-headed boy in class. I’d spend the afternoons daydreaming about the day when he’d ask me to be his girlfriend, all the while completely denying even knowing his name when my friends would ask me if I liked him.

“You think I like who?!…Are you crazy? I’m not even sure I know who that is. Why would I like him? You have no idea what you’re talking about…Please.”

I felt that way this year. Any time anyone would ask me about photography, I’d try to play it off (key word is try) like I was too cool for school.

Me, a photographer? No, no, I just play around here and there a little. It’s nothing, really. I actually have no idea what I’m doing.

As cool as I tried to be, I’m pretty sure I’m just as transparent as I was back in grade school. In the words of Jasmine Star, I was knocking on photography’s door, and even flirting a little, but that was it. I didn’t really want anyone to catch on. Because then I’d be vulnerable.

For months now, I’ve been thinking about my goals for the new year and what I want my life to look like in 2012. It’s time for me to put a stake in the ground, because that’s the only way I’m going to get anywhere. So, you’ll hear it first.

2012 is going to be about building my business, Ashley Terry Creative. Starting from the ground, bootstrappin’ it like the best of ’em, and earning my place in the industry. Writing & wedding photography. Yes, I said wedding photography. No, I’m not overlooking the obvious, crazy as it may seem. I’ve never really shot a wedding. So I must start somewhere.

To all my family and friends, here it is: I want to be a wedding photographer. Typing that sentence almost throws me into a panic attack, but it also feels so exciting! So if you know anyone who’s getting engaged or married or might be getting engaged or married, or wants to pretend they’re engaged or getting married, and has no budget, I’m asking you to please send them to my site to get to know me a little. Because I have photography skills but I need to get experience with a wedding, I’m offering to provide full coverage for one wedding, completely free. Yes, free.

If you’re a wedding photographer in need of a second shooter, assistant, or someone to bring you cold water and fan you while you work, I’m your girl. I’d be thrilled to talk to you about any possible opportunities to work with you. It would be an honor.

So there it is. No going back. No debating over what I want to do or where I want to go, it’s out there. 2012, watch out. Here I come!

So even though you can’t see me, I’m raising my glass of Riesling. Here’s to you, to all of your triumphs and challenges in 2011, and to a very happy, very safe, very BLESSED new year. Cheers, my friends! Let’s do this!

Ashley Terry 2011

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Just a little thank you

I remember when I first found Jasmine Star‘s blog, and started reading about her adventures in becoming a cultural phenomenon (well, technically a wedding photographer). I was hooked immediately for lots of reasons, but what I still can’t get over is how much she shares. Like seriously, forget business school and just start on page one of her original blog and work your way through. The highs, the lows, the mistakes and successes, the lessons and the tips. It’s all there.

This philosophy of sharing seems to come so naturally to her, but for me it was completely new. I’d never seen anyone approach business the way I thought of business. Normally it’s all cut throat and secrets under lock and key and sharing anything with people who could potentially be competitors is considered to be the kiss of death. All the reasons I never wanted to go into business, because for me it is personal and I don’t like making enemies.

This week I’ve been floating on cloud nine, because two different days I woke up to comments on my blog from two of my favorite photographers, Mary Marantz (of Justin & Mary) and Katelyn James. For some reason, they just decided to take a minute and say hi. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Um, Ashley, you’re just a gal with a nice camera and some crazy aspirations…why on earth would either of those industry giants bother even knowing your name?” To which I would respond, “Yea, that’s precisely what I’ve been thinking all week.”

These two ladies really have no idea how much their little comments have meant to me. All it took was a few seconds and a couple of extra keystrokes (and somehow coming across my page, which I’m still not sure how that happened), but what they’ve done is so much more. They’ve inspired me. They’ve encouraged me. They didn’t try to intimidate me or tell me to go back to my day job or treat me like a fool for hoping that one day I could possibly be in their shoes. Nope. They just showed a little love, and you know what? It didn’t cost them any customers, not one sale or any market share. But it did get them both another lifelong fan.

To Jasmine, Katelyn & Mary, thank you for raising the bar on the industry and for using your experiences and your success to encourage others. If only we could all do business this way.

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Clutter challenge day 2: the schedule

Last week I started off the clutter challenge with the list; setting aside the time every day to download the mental clutter you’ve been carrying so that you get a chance to clear your mind. Today’s challenge is about what to do once you have that list.

I like to go through the lists after I’ve been doing it for a few days and make a note of all the recurring items that come up routinely in my life. For instance: exercising, cleaning the house, putting aside time for my family, doing the things that I like to do, setting aside time to work on the business. These things are constantly on my mind; I always feel like I should be doing more of it, and basically they’re items that aren’t just a one-time deal, like booking that vacation. This helps me answer the question, “what do I need to be making time for in my life?” Because honey, let me just tell you now that no matter how genuine our intentions or interest, these days if we don’t schedule it on the iPhone reminder, it’s just never going to happen, am I right?

Now I know this next statement may sound a little…well, crazy to many of you, but for some of us it’s completely necessary. I block out a schedule for my life. Yes, a schedule for my life.

Before you start freaking out thinking I’m trying to take all the spontaneity out of our earthly adventures, let me just assure you that I’m not. Even though spontaneity and I are not always the best of friends, I do realize that it has its place and it’s importance in order to make life worth living. But just like that clutter list, if we never set aside the time to focus on whatever it is we’re trying to do in this world, something else will always come up and distract you, and then ten years have gone by and you’re left wondering whatever happened to all those big ideas of yours.

I actually block out my entire week, Monday to Sunday, and schedule out when I’m going to be doing what so that I’m forced to think about how much time I’m spending in certain areas and what needs my attention most. I make thirty minute blocks for every hour of my day and I fill every block with what should be a typical week. Now I don’t do this for every week; I have one calendar that shows how I spend my Mondays, my Tuesdays, my Wednesdays, etc., and I follow that every week, keeping flexibility so that I’m not a total robot and I can actually live my life. For example, every weekday I get up and I put in time on the business, whatever I may be doing for that day. Then I get ready for work, make my commute, work and come home. When I get home, I’m usually cleaning, paying bills or exercising somehow, just depending on what day of the week it is. Now let me be clear; even though I’ve got this scheduled so that I make sure it happens, if my girlfriend calls me up on a Tuesday afternoon and wants to meet for dinner, of course I let myself do that. But if I don’t have any plans, I typically stick to the schedule.

I know this may sound totally rigid to some of you, but just like the clutter list, I would urge you to try it. Not only do you set aside time to do what you need to do and what you want to be doing, but you also get to see the big picture of how you’re spending your time, otherwise known as your priorities, and that in itself can work some wonders. So just try it for a week and see if you feel like you’re more in control of your life, because when that happens, baby, there’s no stopping you.

And if you’ve been trying the clutter list, let me know how it’s going! I know it’s difficult to set aside the time every day, but it’s like a diet. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day; just start back up with it the next.

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Clutter challenge day 1: the list

I’ve got the day off from work today because we’re celebrating Marlin’s birthday and taking an afternoon road trip to the little town of Lockhart, about an hour or so outside of Austin. So I decided to get up a little early while the house is still quiet and start on my first clutter challenge…the list.

I should take a moment here to tell you that even though I’d love to take credit for this idea, I’m just the messenger of something that’s worked for me. This concept first came to me from the uber-talented and always inspiring get-it-done girl, Lara Casey. Be sure to check her out; if you’ve got big goals to accomplish, Lara will teach you how to make it happen.

Sometimes I shudder to think where I would be without the invention of the Post-It (thank you, Romy & Michelle!). Because I always have so many thoughts racing through my head, I’m completely lost if I don’t write things down to be reminded of them later. At work I have a daily notebook to keep up with tasks and notes about the day, along with two separate to-do lists, reminders on my Outlook calendar, and post-its on my computer screen. In my car I keep a notebook for thoughts that come to me while driving (don’t worry, I only write when I’m stopped) and my purse…well, my purse is basically the land of lost post-its. I’m always swimming in them. For me, if it doesn’t get written down, it’s probably going to disappear, or come back to haunt me later.

So the first day’s challenge is the clutter list. There’s something really therapeutic about sitting with a hot cup of coffee, giving yourself twenty minutes of peace and quiet, and writing down every little thing that comes to your mind. I really like to tie this in to my quiet time with God in the mornings, because more often than not the clutter that’s on my mind are things I need to talk to Him about anyway. When I say write it down, I mean every thing, big or small. Give yourself twenty uninterrupted minutes (Moms, I know this may sound impossible for you, but I promise it will be worth it if you can make it happen). Keep the pen and paper by your side, and write down every little thought that comes to you: birthdays coming up, gifts you need to buy, chores you’ve been putting off, goals you’ve been meaning to set, family members you’re worried about, vacation plans that need to be booked, major life decisions that are weighing on you, books you’ve heard about and want to read, I mean every little thing. This is essentially a download of everything that’s weighing on you, because when you get it down on paper, you’ve given it meaning and you can then address it, and you no longer have to worry about remembering it.

Once you’ve got everything down, take a deep breath. Wow. Most of the time we have no idea of all the weight we’re carrying around at any given time. Some days your clutter list may be half a page; other days you could be writing a short novel. But once you’ve written it down, you’re no longer ignoring it, and that’s the first step.

I know twenty minutes can be a major time commitment these days, but I strongly urge you to set this time aside first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed, that way you can begin your day with a clear mind and also get a good night’s sleep. Try this, just for a week, and see how you feel. Then come back and tell me about it. Does this work for you?

Happy writing!

Ashley Terry 2011

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Clear the clutter!

I’m writing this a little later in the night than usual; I really should be going to bed already but I can’t get this out of my head so I’ve got to share it with you before I can start counting sheep. Tonight, I’m challenging you to join me in my mission to clear the clutter!

I won’t say I’m officially obsessive, but I’ll admit to you that I’m the kind of girl who has to make sure the stapler and the tape dispenser on my desk at work are at just the right angle next to my computer monitor before I can leave my office for the day. As painful as it is to share that with you, it’s true. If laundry is left sitting on top of the dresser in my bedroom (as opposed to being tucked away neatly inside it), I don’t sleep as well at night. And if there’s a mess in the kitchen, I actually have to clean the whole thing before I can continue working in there, even though I’ll just be making another mess with whatever I’m making. Before you ask why I’m crazy enough to admit all of this to you, dear readers, let me make my point: I cannot work when I’m surrounded by clutter. It overwhelms me and paralyzes my thoughts, and I’m completely unable to focus on anything else until it’s cleared, organized, and neatly arranged.

My biggest problem is that most of the clutter in my life is mental clutter, which is by far the worst offender. It continuously piles on throughout the day, never goes away and demands to be paid attention to at the worst possible times. For years I’ve been in the habit of falling asleep to the background noise of the television; if the room is completely silent, my mind will just race for hours with things I need to remember, birthdays that are coming up, bills that need to be paid, that dentist appointment that needs to be confirmed, the new book I’ve been meaning to read, that trip that I’ve still got to plan, the presentation I’m planning for work, the friend I keep forgetting to call back…you get the idea. Other days I find myself turning off the radio on my morning drive to work because I’m surrounded with so much mental noise, I can’t possibly add a background of commercials or depressing news. Now I’m no doctor, but I’m just guessing that this can’t be healthy. I’m also guessing that if you’re still reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s called clutter because it’s getting in the way and not doing anyone any good.

So I’m inviting (or shall I say, daring) you to join me in clearing the mental clutter that’s keeping us from being our most powerful selves. I’ll be sharing specific challenges to work through over the coming weeks as well as reports from the field, to let you know how it’s working out.

Are you with me? Good, now I can go get some sleep!

Ashley Terry 2011

 

 

 

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Lessons in being your own boss

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about being a business owner. As I’m really in the development stage of my venture, I’m learning every single day what it means and what it takes to be responsible for building something from the ground up. If I’m wanting to sound like I have it all together and that I’m an expert, I’d tell you that it’s just day by day, getting things done, never taking “no” for an answer, and just doing it. If I’m being completely open and honest, I’ll tell you that most days I’m completely overwhelmed, and I secretly think that this is how we all feel, no matter what anyone is telling you.

I’ve also learned that being your own boss, being “the” boss, is not just for people who want to start a business; it’s up to each of us to be our own boss, regardless of whose name is on the paycheck.

Not to sound like a corporate robot here, but whatever it is you do, you are the number one ambassador for your name brand. Shakespeare told us that a rose is still a rose, no matter what you call it. But let’s be honest; names are powerful and “carnations” just doesn’t have the same romantic ring to it that “a dozen red roses” does. –I’ll throw in bonus points here for anyone who knows which episode of Sex and the City I’m referencing.– Roses have a reputation that they’ve built over time, a very distinct feeling of sentiment that appears whenever we hear the word. No offense against carnations, but well, they’ve simply failed to establish themselves as the flower for every occasion. Whoever we decide to be in life, our names stand for something, so we better start figuring out what we want that to be and taking the charge in making it happen. Whether you run a home, teach in a classroom or slave over a computer in a cubicle all day, your surroundings are your storefront and the people you’re working for are your most important customers.What do people think of when they hear your name?

Isn’t that an interesting thought there? That even if you report to someone else (don’t we all in some way or another?), you can be in charge of your business (not to mention your life)? Granted, we may not always have control over the specific work we’re doing, but you can decide to be the CEO of your brand and ensure that your “customer” always gets your very best. There’s a discernible change that happens, a lifting of the head and an extra spring in the step when we realize that even if we’re not at the top of the ladder, we can choose to be the one calling the shots. When you think of your work as though you’re running a business and your bosses or your company are your customers, you start to feel a new sense of pride and you realize that you’re willing to reach a little bit further for excellence.You’ve turned the tables and given yourself the responsibility, and that changes everything.

This has really pushed me to start looking at interactions from a new standpoint, and I’m challenging you to try this way of thinking for the next week. Just see what happens when you put yourself in the leadership position, instead of just always assuming that someone else is in charge.

It’s your life, your legacy, and your name. How will you choose to present it to the world?

Photo by Keli Lawrence, 2011

 

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