Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Professional Hair and Makeup Artist

 

I HIGHLY and always recommend working with a professional makeup artist for our photo shoots for a number of reasons. I will list out my 5 most important reasons here! 

1. MAKEUP FOR STUDIO LIGHTS My team knows how I shoot. Meaning they know how I light, the color temperature that my lights put out, and the difference between studio strobe lighting and outdoor natural light. With the photography studio lights, a lot of light will make makeup look washed out, and sometimes not even there. In order to remedy this, they know they have to apply more but in a way that it doesn't look caked on. They will also look at the first images we take and adjust anything before we really start shooting. (Pic above.)

2. TIME SAVER!! Having professional hair and makeup saves me tons of time in post production! There have been times that I have spent hours trying to fix bad hair or makeup. Please help me out by leaving it to the professionals!

3. HIGHER QUALITY There are also times that I spend hours adding makeup to someone's face who did their own makeup and it was washed out by the lights. The problem with this is, not only does it waste time, the more you retouch skin the more you lose texture. Without texture, you look "too photoshopped" and the quality is just not as good. 

4. FLAT HAIR Sometimes people will want to save a little bit of money and just get makeup and not hair styling. Which seems like it would be ok, but no matter how good your hair looks in the mirror, for some reason on camera hair goes flat real fast! Using a professional hair stylist will ensure that your hair has volume in the mirror and on camera!

5. PROFESSIONAL LOOK In the end, once all the images have been selected and retouched we all want people to look at them and say, "WOW, that is an awesome picture!" (or something along those lines!) We want the lighting to look professional, the hair and makeup to be flawless, the outfit to fit perfectly, the colors to pop, and you to be a complete star! When everything is professionally done and looks perfect, you will also look like a true professional. These will be photos you can use for your portfolio, model comp cards, website, business cards, etc. and people will take you seriously! 

The TAKEAWAY:
If you plan on spending money on a professional photo shoot then save and budget for a professional makeup and hair artist as well. It really does take a team of people to make magic! I promise you will love the experience and photos that much more.

Why do I post pictures of the back of the camera?

There are a few reasons.

1) I like to show that with PROFESSIONAL hair and makeup editing is minimal. Hair and makeup for photoshoots is entirely different than everyday looks. Use a pro!

2) MY MAIN REASON. I like showing that most everything I capture is in camera. There are no after effects being added by editing software, Photoshop, filters, etc. The fog is actually there, the lighting is actually there, the color is actually there. I use Photoshop to enhance what is there.

I'm not saying that adding effects in post production is good or bad, wrong or right, it's just another technique of creating art. Every photographer/artist has their way of getting to the finished piece.

I will say however, that it has taken me YEARS to get to a point where I light and use effects in camera, and not rely on post production and Photoshop. This is just by practice, studying, and trial and error. Since I feel that I have developed my own lighting techniques and style, I like sharing the RAW images from the back of the camera to show the skills I have acquired over the years.

I would have never done this 5 years ago!

Friends: I encourage you to work with photographers who are masters of their craft, and when you look at the back of the camera you feel like it's already edited! You'll love the experience.

Photographers: I encourage you to challenge yourself and capture your vision in camera. Share the back of the camera. You'll love how much time you save, and how it forces you to really understand lighting.

- Audra 

I Am Not a Vending Machine

Oreos, cheese crackers, Snickers, Coke…Yes all of those delicious treats are only a few bucks away from your watering mouth. Put in the money, and out it comes (if it doesn’t get hung up) right into your hungry little hands. Instantly. 

You wanted it, you paid for it, you got it — in a matter of minutes. 

Vending machines and Amazon (Prime that is), are great for that instant NEED and soothing a desire quickly. It’s the world we live in, the gotta have it NOW age. 

I understand this feeling completely. Trust me, I have Amazon Prime and have no patience for anything that is going to be shipped to me in more than 2 weeks. I abandon ship and find whatever it is elsewhere. 

However, when it comes to photography, which in my case I consider an art, there is a much slower turnaround than most things. I take great pride in taking photos that I can then turn into a final image that is uniquely created for each and every person. None of my work is cookie cutter, and no one image looks the same. This is true art people! I sit in front of the computer with your images on my screen and retouch and edit it to the way I see it as a final piece.  

This is why I don’t hire retouchers or farm out the work. I want every photo I take to grace MY screen, to open in MY Photoshop, and to end up looking the way I want it to and envision. For you. 

With this is mind here are a few things that I beg of you!

1) Please expect me to take more than 3 days to turn around your images. I am fast, but not superhuman. I have multiple shoots a week and editing/retouching stacks up. Give me at LEAST 2 weeks. Remember I have other clients.

2) Remember I have other clients. Yes I repeated this. And I can’t repeat it enough. As much as I would love to have only one, I would be broke and out of business!

3) Do not rush perfection! You chose me for a reason, hopefully the reason being you liked my work. My work is the product you are buying. In order for me to produce a finished product like the product you paid for and wanted, then you have to let me work. I want to give you the same quality of work that I sold you on. 

4) Don’t ask me for unedited pictures. I know that by giving you the photos unedited will save us all some time, and you will have your pictures sooner…but, giving you unedited photos puts me at risk of losing quality control which in turn effects my brand. I refuse to give you an unfinished product! You would never ask Christian Louboutin to give you pair of gorgeous black pumps and say “just leave off the red bottoms”. Retouching is my red bottoms — it is the finishing touch, my signature, what my work is known for, and part of my brand. 

5) Proofs! It takes time for me to upload your photos from my card to the computer, upload them to Lightroom software, do a quick edit to all of the photos, process the RAW files to JPGS, upload them to an online gallery, craft and send an email with the link to your photos. This takes a lot of time. The photos we take don’t magically appear online, unfortunately. Please remember that after our photo session has ended, the work does not end. I always try and be as quick and efficient as possible, so please have patience! My goal is to get them to you within 24 hours. (This is fast!) 

If you are looking for a vending machine photographer, there are JCPenny and Sears portrait studios for that. You could give them a try, my feelings will not be hurt! 

-Audra Oden 

 

Oh, You Want a Discount? Let me tell you what I can do for you!

Would you ever go into Kroger and at the checkout counter say "Gee, I think $150 is too much for my groceries. Do you think I could get a discount on the total? Perhaps half of that?" Most people? Probably not. I hope. Going forward the only way I am giving discounts is if I use my iPhone, and not edit your photos. Deal?

(Posted on my Facebook page today.)

It’s not often that I speak my mind on social media, however this morning I was so upset that social media seemed like the only outlet for me to rant a little and get it all out. Trust me, I tried self soothing first for fear of getting online and typing while mad. I’ve heard that you should never type angry, or act impulsively especially when trying to maintain a good reputation as a business. But I couldn’t help it. Onto Facebook I went with my clever little meme I created. (see above!) 

What was so upsetting was the fact that within a 2 hour period I was asked for a “cheaper option” by 3 different people. Though this is not uncommon for photographers or really any other business in the service industry, the fact that it happened so closely together was what got me going. And the biggest frustration is the pricing I was giving them was already a lowered rate because it is part of our photo tour in Dallas. (We like to offer lower rates for fitness shoots around competitions to give athletes on a budget the chance to shoot when they are at their peak condition.) 

Side Note: We will no longer be doing this. 

I will write later about my thoughts on why I will no longer be offering lowered rates, discounts, specials, or “deals”. But for now, know that there are no “cheaper options” here. I believe if you want cheap don’t expect good. And if you want good, don’t expect cheap. What a great start to another blog,  stay tuned. ;)

 

Top 3 Comments You Probably Shouldn’t Say to a Professional Photographer

1. When walking into the studio: “Wow, look at all this equipment! This is a legitimate studio!”

Would you walk into a dentist’s office to get a cavity filled and say, “Wow look at all of those dental tools, you are a legitimate dentist!” Probably not. I would hope that you were going to that particular dentist because you knew it was a legitimate and professional business!

2. After seeing a shot on the back of the camera: “Oh my God! You’ve got a really good camera!”

Even though their camera is probably a “really good camera”, the credit should be given to the photographer who knows how to use it!  A lot of learning, time, money, and experience has gone into becoming an expert on how to use their tools. The reason the back of the camera shot looks so good is because your photographer is good. If you see an unedited shot and it looks edited already, rest assured, they know what they are doing! 

3. When seeing the car packed for an on location shoot: “Look at all that stuff! You’re serious!”

Professional photographers should have a lot of equipment! Lights, stands, softboxes, backgrounds, etc. You should expect to see this in their studios. When packing up all of this equipment to shoot on location, the car most likely will be packed to the brim. The photographer never knows what they might need. And yes they’re serious! This is their career, they have to be serious. It is a business not a hobby. 

Don’t worry if you have said any of these things to a professional photographer! We forgive you! Although very entertaining, just keep this in mind for next time! :)

-AUDRA ODEN

Interview in 7 Hues Magazine! All about me...

I met photographer and digital artist Will Mydell (@madsdeisgnz) on Instagram! We started following each other about a year ago and we like to support each other as artists, and it's always nice to have someone to vent to about slow follower gains! 

Will started 7 Hues Magazine around the same time I started Forward Movement Mag. We both have this insane drive to create art and get other creatives involved, and he did just that by creating his publication; a magazine dedicated to beauty, art, photography, and fashion. 

This month (July) he published a Fitness Issue. When I saw his post on Instagram for Fitness Photography Submissions, I was like "done!" I sent him over some work I did with Suite2a as a fashion/fitness project with a model we shot in Dallas. The photos were published in the issue, and he also included a 6 page feature of just ME! (Which I was extremely honored and thankful for!) Below are just a few of the pages, and I'm adding the interview in as well, in case you want to get to know more about me! 

To see  more about 7 Hues Magazine visit http://7huesmag.com

Image by STP Images 

Image by STP Images 

 

Hi Audra, nice of you to join us...

Thank you for having me! 

 

What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?

I currently have Kygo radio playing, and editing photos. So my state of mind is pensive. I like to totally zone out when I’m retouching. This is my time to think and reflect on my work, my goals, my thoughts, and even come up with poetry! haha 

What sort of photography do you specialize in?

I specialize in fitness photography for personal and commercial use. I also shoot editorial and still life from time to time for the Houstonia Magazine. 

What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing what you do for a living? Or is it something you do on the side?

This is it! Photography is my full time career and has always been. I got my BFA in Ad Design and Minor in Photography, and decided to pursue photography. I attended photography school and when I graduated landed my first photography job at a commercial photography studio shooting products. 

How long have you been a photographer?

That was in 2006, so 10 years?

How would you describe your style?

Hmmm, great question. I find that it’s always difficult to talk about my own work! However, I would describe my style as colorful, vibrant, creative, stylized imagery with a touch of fantasy. 

What's in your camera bag? What type of camera do you shoot with?

My camera bag is a huge backpack that weighs about 30 pounds haha! I have a Nikon D800, a 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 50mm and an 85mm in the bag. As well as batteries, 6 Pocket Wizards, battery chargers, CF cards, gaffers tape, lens cleaning stuff, and my lens filters. 

What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?

My ND filters. 

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

I use my 85mm 1.4A LOT. It’s probably my favorite because it’s a prime lens and when I hit the focus it’s tack sharp. The bokeh is pretty dang awesome if I’m shooting at 1.4. 

What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?

Oh GOSH. Too much? I never know exactly how I’m going to light something until I see the space, the subjects, and the “feel” it. So I tend to over pack! Typically I will bring 6 Alien Bee lights, 1 White Lightning, about 7 stands including 2 C-stands, several soft boxes, an octobox, a few different lighting reflectors and modifiers, gels, vagabond battery packs, extension cords, sand bags, and a fog machine! And then I have a huge blue IKEA bag that has a bunch of other stuff, like grids, tape, spray bottle, oil for the skin, and miscellaneous things. 

Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, or reflectors and natural light during a shoot?

99% of the time I use strobes. I love natural light but don’t ever get what I envision in my head doing it. I actually feel I'm not that great at it! So I light everything! I like to create images you wouldn’t normally see in real life with lighting and color. I like what I call “messy lighting”, for example things like lens flare, light spilling on the subject, light shooting in from the outer frame, color balls of light etc. I set up my lights with a purpose, however if these things happen I let them. I think lens flare and the way light reacts in that moment is almost like the imperfections in a piece of wood. That is what distinguishes it as an original and not something that can be copied or recreated. 

What editing software do you prefer to use?

I start off with Lightroom to get the adjustments I need in RAW. And then I do everything else in Photoshop. 

What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?

My Wacom!!! I don’t know how I would live without it. 

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

EXTREMELY. I don’t rely on Photoshop to fix mistakes, I generally pay attention to detail and the best image possible in camera. However, for my style I need Photoshop to enhance everything. As I mentioned before I want to create something you wouldn’t normally see in real life, and a touch of fantasy. I add color to enhance what I’ve shot, and also play around with color overlays to make it pop even more. I also modify the body so that curves and lines are perfect. I want people to have an image that reflects how they look when they are feeling their absolute best. I am a perfectionist and want the entire image to be perfect, but not too overly done. 

Are you a Mac or Pc lover?

What’s a PC?

Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes set on?

Haha! Don’t we all? I pretend shop all the time on B&H. I think the last time I did that, I put the Nikon D5 in the cart. I want and need a few more strobes. I wouldn’t mind having a few of the Profoto D1 Air Monolights! ($1,600 a piece!)

Can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow?

After a shoot I download all the RAW images onto my hard drive. Then move them into Lightroom. In Lightroom I adjust things like color, clarity, shadows, highlights, and exposure. Again I try and get everything right in camera, so that I’ll I’m doing is boosting what is already there. FromI make small low res JPGS for clients to put in a proof gallery. And I can’t help but star my own favorites and save them in a “My Faves” folder so I can use them later. After the client has picked which images they want, I go back into Lightroom and export those as high res JPGS. Those are the images I will move to PS and edit. After I finished with the client’s images I put them into Dropbox and send them the link. I save all RAW files, proof files, and final JPGS on my hard drive just in case! 

What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such great imagery?

I obsess!! I am always looking for inspiration, whether it’s from another photographer, artist, or just out in the world! I look at how color exists in real life and try and mimic that only better! For instance I love how the yellow lines on a grey road compliment each other so well. I remember shooting something with these colors after noticing that. The way traffic red and green lights look at night, or the red taillights of a car at night, give me inspiration to use my colored gels. I just try and “notice” everything, and STUDY people and work that are greater than mine. 

Why fitness Photography?

All my life I have been an athlete. Fitness is a huge part of my own daily life. I love the dedication, the strength, the mind state, the power, and the intensity that other athletes and competitors have. I love that people come to me after they have worked extremely hard at something and give me the opportunity to create something for them that captures that. 

How do you get paid to do what you want to do with your photography? Is fitness photography a profitable gig, or is it something you love doing?

Working in a commercial studio I got paid a regular salary. However, as I worked a full time job I used to shoot fitness photography on the weekends. I didn’t start out getting paid! I didn’t have anything to show for it, and people didn’t want to pay. It’s the struggle you always hear, and I’m sure you know all too well. So I shot my friends and family to build a fitness portfolio. From there I started charging. My problem was I never felt I was good enough to charge that much, so I definitely didn’t make a profit at first! It wasn’t until I left my corporate job and started my own business that I knew I HAD to start charging more. It’s hard. I hate asking for money, but learned I had to. I still have a problem with it, but I have to remember that I have 10 years experience, about 40k invested into my business in equipment, software, computers, etc. and I’m a pretty decent photographer! ;) It is very profitable now, but did take a long time. 

What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?

The money doesn’t necessarily motivate me, it does help, but definitely isn’t the reason I do what I do. I would say it’s more emotional. As I mentioned I love the fitness space and it truly is a passion of mine. I really enjoy meeting other like minded people, and learning about their fitness journeys. I get to meet a ton of people that I would never meet otherwise and most of them are pretty amazing! It really does give me great joy to be able to work with people and give them something that is not only an awesome image of them, but also a piece of me. 

Every Photographer develops their own shooting stategy in their own unique way, be that interning, apprenticing, assisting, graduate school, on the job training, etc. How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of your lens onto your memory card in just the way yoou want it?

At first it was really hard! By nature I’m quiet, and have always been shy. I’m an extreme introvert, so speaking to people has always been difficult. So getting people to connect with the camera and directing them was very challenging for me when I first started. What helped me the most, is when I took a job at a boudoir studio (something I had never shot before) and was forced to interact with about 5-6 clients a day. The studio had me shoot back to back which was exhausting, but it really did force me to get over my shyness! I had to provide excellent customer service and an experience, as well as great photos. I soon left that job just because it was so taxing, but I learned my strengths of interacting with people which I use now. I learned that it’s okay to be more reserved and introverted, you just have to apply your strengths like listening, and understanding the client. I think with this comes trust, and with trust I get people to move the way I want, naturally and comfortably. 

Photography has a long and fascinating history. Most photographers happily admit which of their predecessors inflenced them and their work. How about you...Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photography, and career path?

I studied all the greats in photography school and of course was influenced by them. But the people who have helped me develop my style are the more modern and current photographers. I studied David laChapelle for his creativity and color. I have always loved Maya Guez. Recently I have been looking at the work of Jake Hicks because of his use of gels. I also draw inspiration from other fitness photographers like Christopher Bailey, Eva Simon, James Patrick, Jason Falasco, and Brett Seeley. And of course I love the inspiration I get from your work! 

Different photographers have different end goals for their work. The most successful ones are those who can consistently get their work to say what it is they want, even if they cannot articulate what that is or how that happens. What is it exactly you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

I want to create the best version of someone. If they are coming to me for photographs, it means they are in a good place mentally, emotionally, and physically. I want to capture moment and time in their life for them so they may have it to look back on a remember what that felt like. To accompany this feeling, I want the image to make people say “wow”. I feel like I get my photographs to say this by using lots of color, and other special effects, as well as the expression, the pose, the mood, the lighting and the overall intensity. 

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?

I shot Victor Espinoza last year out at the Del Mar Race Track in California. It was the most memorable not only because he’s a celebrity athlete but because it was so hectic! We had only about 20 minutes to get several shots of him before his race. My assistant and I set everything up in advance to be ready for him. Just as we were finishing the last shots, the horses started coming out to get ready for the race, and we had to get everything out immediately. I have never shot so fast in my life! 

Do you have an assistant? If so why?

If I can have one I will! If it’s on location or a big production then yes I always have one. However my studio work is just me and the client. 

Where would be your dream destination assignment?

Dubai. 

What do you think of the photography industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?

Sometimes I become very frustrated with the photography industry, just because there are so many people that don’t understand the value. I also get frustrated with photographers that don’t understand the industry and by doing so don’t help the general public get any closer to understanding that value! I have to remember that instead of getting frustrated that I need help educate people and clients what it is they are paying for, why it costs what it does, and the difference between a professional and an non-professioanal photographer. 

Any websites or blogs you visit often?

www.theproexposure.com www.photoshelter.com www.creativelive.com 

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why?

James Patrick. He started out as someone I was inspired by just on Instagram. However I had the opportunity to meet and work with him recently and he has been a friend and mentor to me ever since. 

Name one way you market your photography?

Instagram

How important is an awesome website for your business?

It’s important to have a clean and well functioning site. Your website is a reflection of your brand.

Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?

Rory Mcilroy or the Rock!

What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?

Run the other way! No, I would say if it’s something you have a talent and passion for, then go for it! Don’t expect to get rich. There is money to be made, however it’s a constant hustle. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, work long hours, market like crazy, research, and never stop learning about the business and how to get better. The best way to learn other than school, is by assisting and working with advanced photographers. Ask questions! You’ll often find that other photographers are willing to help and share their knowledge, because most likely they had someone share it with them. 

If you could be invisible for one day with your camera, what or who would you shoot?

I would be a total creeper and hang out at a ballet studio and shoot dancers. I wouldn’t use strobes or lights and maybe use film. 

What talent would you love to have most?

I wish I was good at public speaking! I would love to be able to speak and educate people about photography. But I turn into a sweaty mess! haha

Anything you're still learning?

I’m always learning!! Main thing right now is how to network, market myself, and more so the business side. 

Something you're saving up for?

Perhaps that D5? Or my trip to Dubai? haha I’m a saver, so I’m always saving. When I do decide to spend it it will be on travel, photography equipment, or nikes. haha

Photographer Frustrations & Hurt Feelings

A few months ago someone contacted me and asked about my availability and pricing because they wanted to shoot with me right before or after their show. For me this a common inquiry. No problem. I checked my calendar and offered a few dates and times and sent them my rates. They told me that they would like to book so we set it up. 

Days later I received a message from them telling me that they wouldn’t be able to afford the shoot at this time that it would be better to reschedule in another month after their next show. I offered some dates and times during the week so they would only have to pay weekday rates. They weren’t able to do a weekday so I offered to shoot on the weekend keeping the weekday rates because I knew the pricing was high for them already from previous messages. 

I was able to squeeze them in the schedule before another shoot I had. 

A few weeks later I received a message from them saying they didn’t think they would be able to afford the shoot after all. Instead of just saying “Ok”, I offered to shoot a half session, cutting the price, time, and edits in half. The person was gracious and said yes. 

Last week I got another message from them saying that they didn’t think they would be able to pay it and the shoot would probably have to wait. Again, instead of just saying “Ok”, I asked if they would be able to pay half up front and then half later. I would just hold the pictures until the full payment was made. They were gracious and said yes. 

2 days ago, they messaged me to see if we were still on for the shoot. 

I gave them the address, and other details and we were ready to go.

Yesterday, they asked me how many edits they would get because another photographer had offered to give them 10 images for the same price. I told them 6 edits, because we were cutting the session in half. 

Later in the day they told me they had decided to go with the other photographer, and that they were sorry they had to cancel on me. 

I made that sentence bold because it is just that. Bold. 

I was beside myself.

As I’ve said before in a previous post, I always try to work with people. Especially if they have worked so hard to get to where they are, and want to shoot while they are at their best but don’t have the money. I understand and will do whatever I can do to help. That is just how I am. 

After all was said and done, where the conversation left me, was with my feelings hurt. I wasn’t upset that I lost a paying job (or half paying job), or that I wound’t get to shoot. I wasn’t even upset that they would be working with another photographer. I was upset that all my effort and kindness had gone unnoticed. That the value they were getting was huge, and they failed to see that. 

However I know I can’t expect everyone to see it, and I’ll just have to let this one go. For other people I have helped in this way, they have all been very grateful and I appreciate it! Thank you.

-AUDRA ODEN

Blood, Sweat, and Marathon Shooting - What Most People Don't Think About

I just returned from Dallas as part of the tour my business Suite2a is currently doing. We started in Austin, and are conducting fitness productions for aspiring fitness models, models, and just anyone who wants a fitness shoot! We hit each city for 3 to 4 days and basically cram as many shoots as we can within those days.  This is marathon shooting; not for the weak, pregnant, or elderly! 

 

The Setup:

To start off, I have to gather up my entire studio and pack the car to the brim, to travel 4 hours to Dallas. When we arrive to the gym I unpack all of my equipment and set up. I have A LOT of equipment, and a lot of it is on the heavier side. Most people don’t realize the amount of ‘stuff’ that a professional photographer brings with them to an on location shoot. You never want to get somewhere and not have that one thing that would have made the shot! I even rent an extra camera body and lens just in case mine decides to keel over. The set up and break down of equipment is the un-fun part, and no one understands that except photographers. It alone is a lot of work. 

 

The Sweat:

The two gyms we used in Austin and Dallas didn’t have air conditioning. We are in Texas, and it’s summer. Enough said. 

Working from 7am in the morning to 10pm at night is a long time inside a 90 degree warehouse gym. By the end of the day I am the definition of a “hot mess”. I cringe at the behind the scenes photos and videos, but there is nothing I can do. I am working…and it’s hard labor. I move my equipment all over the gym for each different “look” and I am constantly moving. Up and down, on the floor, on top of things, on my back, on my stomach, fix the model, back up, sit down…you get the idea. I give it my all for each and every person. 

 

The Blood:

With a camera in hand and eye through the view finder I am not at all aware of my surroundings. I am focused on the model, the lighting, and the composition. If I feel the need for a high angle I end up balanced on top of a leg press machine. If I need to move forward I do so without knowing there is a weight plate tree in front of me. Which is exactly what happened this past weekend. I gashed the top of my knee open and blood started running down my leg. But I didn't know. 

My business partner, Antoinette saw and came dabbing it up with a paper towel as I continued to shoot. Now that’s a good business partner!

 

Other:

A few other things the general public doesn’t think about when it comes to back to back sessions is there is rarely time for a break. So eating, peeing, sitting, and drinking water are minimal. I pack my food in a cooler and try to eat in between people but it’s hard. 

Checking text messages and phone calls is difficult, if I’m shooting I’m not answering. 

After the last session is over we don’t just get in our car and leave. The sets have to be broken down, equipment put away, gym cleaned up, and then we can go. And it doesn’t stop there. I like to take all the images I got from the day and upload them to keep them safe. The last thing I would want to happen is lose a card full of someone’s pictures! 

So bed time doesn’t come early. 

This past weekend I think I got 4 hours of sleep each night, and woke up each day to do it all over again. 

It’s tough! It’s exhausting physically and mentally. I swear by day 4 my mouth would open to speak and nothing would come out. I felt like I was in a dream, dizzy, light headed, just out of it. I was able to finish up and pack the car, but it was challenging! 

Once we are safely back in Houston, it doesn’t stop. I now have thousands of images to sort through, proof galleries to send out, and emails to send thanking everyone. Another photographer would agree that he or she is never fully compensated for the amount of effort, labor, sweat, blood, tears, and work they put in to their business and photoshoots. For me, when people are grateful for the experience and are ecstatic about their photos, it's all worth it. :)

 

-AUDRA ODEN

 

 

 

 

 

My Email is Broken!!

I have days were I swear my G-mail account is broken. I tell my business partner and she tends to ignore me when I’m being ridiculous, but to me it’s not ridiculous! 

The last few weeks I sent out about 40 emails to potential commercial clients, magazine editors, contributors for my online publication, and a few business emails. Every time I would refresh my browser there would be no response from any of the people I was excitedly anticipating. Some times I would look and there would be not one single new email! From ANYONE, not even junk or spam! 

The only reasonable explanation was that my email was broken! And of course I would cry out through the office, “My email is broken!”. 

Today, after weeks of nothing, was a great day. I woke up to 2 emails from magazine editors who loved the work I sent, a new commercial client who we have been wanting to work with, contributors to my magazine who were eager to help out, and 3 people who wanted to book a shoot. Later in the day I received other responses from people I was expecting, and we got a call from another potential commercial client. At the end of the day I had booked all 3 of the people who inquired, filling my calendar for the month of June. 

Needless to say my G-mail account was working today! 

These lulls really make me anxious, but it’s important for me to remember to have faith and be patient. I know I am putting in the work and effort so I need to trust that something great will eventually come about.

-Audra Oden

Budgeting for Photography as a Fitness Competitor

I was talking to a bikini competitor at our photo session, and she told me that she always budgets for a photoshoot around her competitions. To her it was important enough to set aside money so that when it came down to it she wasn’t broke and out of luck for any kind of quality shoot. If you haven’t noticed, competing is an expensive sport! I know that following my own meal plan, food alone costs my husband and me $250 a week! This is not to mention the money spent on supplements, protein, nutrition plans, workout plans, and for others; posing coaches, show fees, suit costs, etc.! So I understand that photoshoots are a luxury

Being sensitive to this, I try and keep my pricing reasonable. Yet I still get the “I can’t afford that right now.” I hate to turn people away especially when they have been working so hard, but there is a point where I would just be working for free. Considering all the time I take to prepare for a shoot, the actual shoot, the post production work, my equipment and bills, I can’t lower my pricing.

Perhaps instead of altering my prices, more people should alter their mindset about photography! Speaking with this competitor, made me think that more people should take her approach and view photography as another cost associated with competing.  

From my experience, money seems to be the number one reason people either 1) don't shoot at all or 2) shoot with an amateur for free or next to nothing. And where does either one of those things get you? (I'll be kind and not answer that.) If you are serious about your brand, your image, your fitness career, it's extremely important to shoot with a professional. That'll get you somewhere better!

Sponsors, modeling agencies and/or magazine editors look for quality and professional images. If you don't invest in yourself, then why should anyone think you are serious? 

You don't have to sell your car or take out a small loan, it's just as simple as budgeting. Research the photographer (professional!) that you want to work with, find out their pricing, and plan a few months out. Every other week set aside money, skip a tanning appointment, skip a massage, put down the $100 nikes that you don't need...and there you go, you can pay your photographer! 

In the long run it will be worth every penny. 

-AUDRA ODEN

Photographers helping Photographers

STP Images

STP Images

Today I assisted a fellow Houston photographer Todd Parker with STP Images at his studio downtown shooting 5 people from a local law firm. He recently shot some amazing head shots of me (one pictured above) and we decided as a trade I would help him out with future shoots. This was a future shoot! 

As difficult as it is to break away from my own work I feel like it's important to help out, network, and connect with other photographers when you can. You never know what you might learn, who you might meet, or where it might lead you. He and I shoot totally different genres of photography, as well as entirely different styles. He specializes in natural light and corporate/business head shots, and I usually use strobes and stick to fitness. I find it so interesting to see how another photographer works, how he or she sets up their lighting, and the client interaction. Everyone has their own technique and what's incredible is that no single technique is right or wrong!  

I encourage every photographer to make friends with other photographers! Motivate, inspire, and support each other. We are not enemies. Often times I think that photographers feel like they must fight one another for clients and work. We need each other just as much as we need clients. We all have something unique to offer, and can all easily coexist. So be kind and open to working with one another, you never know what could come of it. 

-AUDRA ODEN

 

Small Business Life - The Hustle & The Struggle

My friend Brandon text me yesterday to see if I wanted to play golf. That is probably the 8th time he has asked within the past few months and I have had to decline every time. I can't even believe he continues to ask me after so many "no's" but I do appreciate it. He's not the only one I find myself saying no to. I've come to a point in my career where "the hustle" has become my number one priority, and finding time to allocate to friends and family is difficult. 

After starting a creative studio with my business partner, I'm no longer just feeding myself. There are 2 of us in this household now! If I struggle, she struggles, we struggle. As a new business finding clients is always the most difficult. This is where "the hustle" comes in. We've finally picked up momentum and don't want to let that go.

In an ideal world clients would see our work and call us instantaneously begging us to work with them. Take it a step further, if we're talking ideal worlds, and they would be clients like Nike and Under Armour wanting to spend a good chunk of change on a campaign. But that is definitely not the case. 

So between the hustling and running a full-time business and still keeping on top of work with my fitness clients and other freelance work, there is hardly any time left for anything else. Not because I don't want there to be, just because there aren't enough hours in a day! I would say right now I work 80+ hours a week.  And to be honest my mind never shuts off about work, even in my dreams I am working! I wake up to ideas and a to-do list I created in dreamland!

I know that there will be a time where I can take a step back and discover a balance between work and life, even though right now it is extremely tough. I really do try to make efforts so I don't lose all my friends, and my family doesn't forget who I am. And my husband doesn't divorce me! Thank God he is 100% supportive. 

Am I guilty of working too much? Yes! But we are focused and determined and in this competitive industry we can't back down. I just pray that everyone will understand this. 

So Brandon, hang in there. One of these days I'll be on the golf course with you knowing that my business isn't going to crumble the moment I step away. Until then keep on grindin'. 

-AUDRA ODEN

Behind the Scenes at Big Tex Gym in Austin

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I wanted to share this behind the scenes photo and then the actual shot. It's crazy to see how the gym looks with ambient light and then see how the strobes make such a difference when you are using them as your light source. 

I have also used 2 colored gels. A red one on the background, and a green one pointed at the model. They are far enough away from her that it becomes a softer highlight. The main light is a beauty dish on my left side. The lens I am using is a 70-200mm lens on a Nikon D800. I am shooting at 2.8. 

-AUDRA ODEN