For Photographers Archive

Four things I learned at the Creative at Heart Conference that I’m changing immediately!

Last weekend I boarded a plane from Tampa to Denver to join a lineup of crazy talented creative industry leaders to speak on Finding Your Niche at the Creative at Heart Conference.  Any good conference will fill your head with knowledge but this one never fails to fill my heart as well.  I left with a notebook full of notes that needed to be processed and prioritized but four things stuck out to me that I knew that I would need to change immediately…

I taught about finding your niche at the  creative business conference.

(image credit @creativeatheartconference)

I though you might just be interested in hearing those four things. Am I right?

    1. Heather Crabtree, creator of Savvy Business Owners community, talked about workflow and the six biggest workflow mistakes we tend to make (I was guilty of more then one!) but the one that stuck out to me the most was Mistake #6 which was when you don’t end a project well.  You deliver the service, collect the invoice and it’s “so long!” This should be when we take the time to celebrate with our client, send a thank you, and here’s the big one…ask for feedback and get a testimonial!  This has implications for both the Stockshop and my commercial work but it’s something that needs to change NOW! Thanks Heather!

    2. Wedding photography couple Amy and Jordan Demos showed us how great businesses tell great stories.  I absolutely STINK at storytelling guys! I am just more of a facts kind of girl.  Save the flowery language, I’ll pass. BUT Jordan and Amy were so right in that the best brands create and foster an emotional connection between themselves and their clients and they do it through storytelling.  The big takeaway for me?  It’s not as hard as you (or I) think to be a storyteller.  Jordan and Amy’s advice is to simply try to drop them into a moment of the story instead of stating the facts.  I tried this recently on my personal Instagram feed and have already seen better engagement!  It’s hard for me but I’m trying to stretch my creative writing muscles and give it a try! You can too!
    3. Katelyn James (Sigh, I’m just going to go ahead and call her America’s Sweetheart because seriously, if you have ever met her in person she truly is!) helped us to understand the micro changes that can be made within our businesses that have macro results.  One of my lightbulb moments came toward the end of her talk when she was talking about the power of a simple thank you note.  Some of you may have been Stockshop fans long enough to remember that when I first opened the SC Stockshop back in 2013 I used to send hand written thank you notes at the end of each month to ALL of my customers!  I was able to do that for almost my whole first year of business but eventually there were too many orders monthly for us to keep up with and I had to resort to a more generic “thank you” in the download e-mail. Whomp Whomp. In passing, Katelyn mentioned that people who sell online digital products should find a way to send a personalized digital thank you card to online purchasers after a sale.  LIGHTBULB.  I have really missed the personal touch that the thank you note use to give me with my clients and I am already working on finding a way that I can send a custom personalized thank you card to every single person who makes a purchase in the shop starting soon!

    4. Finally, one of my favorite speakers every year is Natalie Franke, wedding photographer and co-founder of the Rising Tide Society.  A long time ago (ahm.) I was a psychology major in college and so her talk on “The Brain Behind The Business,” the role that neuroscience plays in purchasing behavior and business, just fascinates me! She talked about how the most successful brands find a way to engage all of their clients senses with their client experience. She gave us a fun assignment to try to engage all of the senses to describe our brand! I thought I would give it a try for the Stockshop brand.  I’m sort of embarrassed to even share this here but as an exercise of humility (haha!) here is my attempt:


“You carefully slip into your very first designer dress. The scent of orange blossom, citrus and gardenia fills the room as spritz your favorite scent onto your wrist and take in a deep breath.  When you arrive later that evening a gentleman in a black tie hands you a glass of champagne and motions you down the hallway.  One more deep breath and you enter the room to the sound of applause as all eyes turn toward you.  In that moment you feel like you CAN do this and you DO belong here. Thats what it feels like to dress your brand in SC Stockshop styled stock photography.”

So how did I do? (insert blushing face)  How would YOU engage all of the senses to describe your brand? What does your brand look like? Feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Sound like?

There were so many more takeaways from the Creative at Heart Conference in Denver but these are ones that I am working on right away and I think that they could be helpful for you as well!  Make sure that you check out the Creative at Heart website to find out when and where their next conference will be!

The Placement of Things: Black & White

April is all about refueling and finding creative inspiration here in the SC office.  I’ve taken the month off from commercial work to refuel after a very busy first quarter and am focusing my efforts on building up the collection of styled stock photography in the shop and creating “white space” (pun intended) in my work days to get out of the office and seek creative inspiration.  This afternoon you could find me sitting in a sunny corner of Barnes and Noble with a Caramel Honey latte in my hands flipping through art, food, fashion and decor magazines looking for visual inspiration. One image in particular stuck with me. It was an unlikely subject…vintage brooms and dustpans actually, but I have not been able to get it out of my head since.

That is the power of beautiful styling and product photography. It’s not the subject but what you do with the subject that makes for a memorable image.

At the end of the day I was reminded that what continues to be the most inspiring thing to me is to be working with my hands styling and shooting.  So, I shoot a little mini series that I will share here little by little that I am calling “The Placement of Things.”  It’s nothing fancy but just a challenge for myself to style with the everyday things around my office.  Fun right? More to come friends.

Shay Cochrane_Prop Styling_Product Styling_Flat Layblog


The struggle is real for the summertime small business mom.
2013 Shay Cochrane

Image by Shay Cochrane 

I’ve had and overheard a lot of conversations with other small-business-owner women lately about the summertime struggle for work life balance and their hopes vs the reality of their summertime work situation.  It sounds something like this…

“I wish I were able to take some time off this summer but it’s just not possible.”

“I was planning to take a month off but now that doesn’t look like its going to happen.”

“Financially we just can’t swing it. Maybe next summer.”

“I just can’t.”

That sucks. (Pardon my french) But that really stinks.

It stinks because as small business owners we work really hard with the goal of having have the kind of FREEDOM that would allow us to do “crazy” things like take extra time off during the summer to travel or snuggle with our kids more. Thats generally a large reason why we started working for ourselves in the first place right? But then a few things happen that rob that freedom:

  1. We don’t plan
  2. We operate out of fear  
  3. We box ourselves in.

I’m not hear to guilt you. Trust me.  The struggle is very real for me too.  It escalates when we actually love what we do and find it hard to turn away exciting projects that may not be a “best yes” (Thanks Lysa Turkhuerst!) for us during this summer season with kids home from school . Today, I want to bring those enslaving thoughts into the light so that we can feel the freedom to say yes to the things that owning your own business should allow us to do! Are you with me!?

So before it is too late, here are 3 tips for owning your business over the summer before it owns you.

1) You must make a decisive decision about what you want the summer to look like and then create a plan to make that happen.  Your client inquiries will not magically cease.  Your to do list will not go on vacation.  Your need for summer income should not to take you by surprise.  If you want any time off this summer you need to put it on your calendar and say a bold “no!” to ANYTHING that comes your way during that timeframe.

Interviews? Sorry.  Blog features that require prep work? Can’t. One-off small projects for a return client? Only if it can wait another month!  The truth is we don’t like to say “no” and often times that is driven by fear.  More on that in a minute.

As it relates to income, I am like you in that I need my income to continue even during my time off this summer. I have an assistant to pay, operating expenses and bills just like you. The truth is we have all year to plan for this.  Paying yourself a set salary all year that allows for a build up of funds in your account specifically helps you to offset “lean” months of work allowing you to continue to get paid while sipping Mai Tai’s with your toes in the warm sand.

Bottom line?

Time off is not going to happen to you.  You have to make it happen.

2) Don’t let fear win. Have you ever thought any of the following?

“If I say no they might not give me another chance.”

“What if they are not willing to wait and I lose the business?”

“What if I seem unprofessional for taking vacation or saying no?”

“If I take time away will people forget about me?”

“If I don’t keep up my online presence my business will lose momentum.”

Can you smell that? It’s fear. And fear will own you and your business if you let it.  Operating out of fear of loss is never a good decision making position. If you feel the fear gaining a grip on you and your business you have to choose to step back and refuse to listen to it.

3) You are not stuck.  Many of us box ourselves into situations because we have told ourselves that we “have to” do something. Our mind is set and we do not allow ourselves to follow the train of thought through for an alternate reality.  “I just cannot afford to take time off.” – Maybe, but have you considered cutting your lifestyle down temporarily to afford yourself a breather and more time with loved ones?  “I already said yes to clients.”  – Professionalism is SO very important and we must be women of our word BUT sometimes you have to put your family or personal heath first even if it means disappointing a client. Sometimes you have to make the tough decision to disappoint a client or potential client in order to say a much needed “yes” to your marriage or family.  You are not doing yourself or your client any favors when you are doing work that isn’t your best because your head is in too many different places.

I have one question for you, does your life exist to serve your business or does your business exist to serve your life?

Ten years from now won’t look back and wish that you had taken one more client that summer or stayed more consistent with your blogging.  Chances are good, however, that you would regret not having been present for this season of life.

You are the boss, Boss Lady. Its time to act like it. If you are already feeling trapped by what the next few months hold then now is your chance to put your foot down.

I’m cheering for you.



*This content was originally sent out in our June SC Insider newsletter.  With these monthly newsletters my heart is to help small business owners to not only do business beautifully through free monthly styled stock images but also to flourish in their marriages, families and “real” life!  If you could use someone in your corner cheering you on in life and business you can join the newsletter here.

Creating a concept: Product Styling and Photography

I knew this image was going to be a favorite of mine the moment I started styling it.  There are client projects in commercial product styling where you have a very clearly defined image concept and then there are projects that, for a variety of reasons, have an end goal but no other creative restrictions.  Often times, when shooting on location for a client I am simply pulling from available props and items the client has on hand and creating as I go – styling on the fly you might say.  I LOVE the challenge of projects like that and really feed creatively off of the client’s product and props that are found last minute on location.  Do you guys remember the “White Room Challenge” on HGTV’s Design Star? I kind of think about it like that – my very own White Room Challenge!

For this particular image I was shooting on location in Miami for Adrienne Bosh in anticipation of the launch of her new website, store and event space Sparkle and Shine Darling.  One of the goals during this day long shoot was to create  7 images that would communicate the various themes that customers will be able to pick for events hosted in the amazing SASD event space.  One of those themes is her “Garden Tea Party.”  Adrienne wanted these specific images to be a small teaser of what your experience will with each party theme without the images being simply a typical themed table setting.  I LOVED this idea!


For our primary props I knew that we would need to incorporate some of the gorgeous patterned tea cups, pots and saucers that she has in her store collection as well as featuring the gorgeous Sloan Fine Tea (whose packaging is to die for!) that will actually be available in the Sparkle and Shine Darling boutique and cafe.  Adrienne had gorgeous fresh peonies, ranunculus and roses on hand and ready for styling (and you know I LOVE to incorporate fresh florals any chance I get!) so I was in styling heaven.


For our secondary props we pulled this fabulous soft pink vintage perfume atomizer as well as PINK sugar cubes and hearts!  Its doesn’t get any more Darling than pink sugar cubes!  But when you think about a garden party you don’t think modern, sterile, white do you? No, you think about a lush garden with green grass, blossoming trees and mossy stepping stones!  I have worked with moss before and knew that it would lend a gorgeous color and texture and complete the garden tea party story but the problem was that we had nothing of the sort on hand – the only risk in styling and shooting on the fly.



Fortunately for me, Adrienne has the most gorgeous fresh floral arrangements created each week and placed around her home.  Sitting in the living room was a beautiful, lush, tropical green arrangement that had the most perfect mossy greens arranged in. What are the odds!? PERFECTION. It’s never fun to ask a client if you can disassemble something in their home for the sake of “getting the shot” but Adrienne was sweet enough to let me pull whatever I needed to complete the vision.  To me, the moss is what makes this image. It brings in that crucial earthy element while maintaining a clean aesthetic.


Creating an image concept, whether on the fly or through hours of inspiration gathering, is one of my favorite parts of the job and when it works, you feel it instantly.  I knew this was going to be a favorite image of mine the moment I starting styling it. It makes me want to take off my shoes and sit on tree swing with a cup of tea in hand while my bare feet brush over the soft green grass.  A good image begs you to crawl inside and live in it and for me this image does exactly that!




In the shop: summer fruit styled stock

It has been so dreary here in Florida this week. I don’t know about you, but we have been feeling the winter blues. To cure this, we have added a whole new collection of gorgeous fruit images to the SC Stockshop to get you dreaming of summer! Bring some warmth to your shop announcements, homepage banner images, social media headers, custom website buttons, and more with these peach and strawberry styled stock images.

SCstockshopPeaches1blog SCstockshopPeaches2blog

2013 Shay Cochrane
Which one will you choose: strawberries or peaches? They are only in the shop for a limited time so hurry and grab yours today!

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