Sunday, November 1, 2015

Interntional Packages: Customs Fraud PSA

Just a quick PSA.
It has recently been brought to my attention that, in an attempt to save their buyer from being charged customs fees, some vendors are marking "gift" on their custom forms, instead of "merchandise."
First off, simply marking it as a gift vs. merchandise will not automatically eliminate any fees owed by the buyer. It is dependent on the costs provided on the form, by the seller. These costs will be (or, should be) the price of each item that was purchased. The fees/taxes that will be owed, will vary by location. (Also, listing much lower prices than what was originally charged, is fraud.) Not only can falsely filling out the customs form result in penalties by law - it can delay the shipment of the package, result in the package being returned or lost, etc.

The vendors who are doing this may not even realize that it is absolutely illegal. They may not know this, but do it as a courtesy to their seller. They may not want to miss out on a sale - they probably don't want to lose a customer. However, even though doing this may seem like such a small thing - it is a small action that can have a huge consequence! It is punishable by law. It's illegal to falsify customs declarations or mark an item as a "gift" in order to avoid customs fees. It's mail/customs fraud. And it will be a risk that you won't want to take. It won't be worth it.

I myself have not been one to participate in illegal activities - and I am not about to start. If that means I lose a customer... well, that's just unfortunate. I would love for my customers to save as much money as they can- but it's business. It's legal. And I don't ever intend on running my business illegally. I don't charge my prices in hopes my customers will have to pay more. Not at all. Again, it's business. And my policies state that international customers are responsible for any and all customs fees that they will be charged.
I suggest, perhaps, sitting down and re-evaluating your CODB. Check on what your local taxes/duties/fees are. Make sure you're setting enough aside for your prop expenses.

So, in conclusion, I will not mark the customs form as "gift," if it's not a gift. If it's purchased merchandise, you can expect the form to be filled out as such. And I will not provide any other prices than the price they were purchased at. Just because other vendors are doing it, does not mean that it is ok. I am sorry if this rubs some people the wrong way. But I will run my business as legally as I know how to. This will be no exception. And it's unfortunate to lose customers over it. But I hope this helps those who may be doing this, and don't realize it is illegal (or do realize it is).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meet Laura Taylor - Laura Taylor Photography

Everyone, meet Laura Taylor, from Laura Taylor Photography. She's sweet, she's down-to-earth, and I feel honored to have been able to work with her.

        Introduction: Who is  Laura Taylor? 

I am a fulltime wife and mother, and part time photographer.  My passion is newborn photography, but I love all children and family photography and am really inspired by growing families and the things that make each family unique!

        How did you become  Laura Taylor Photography?

A passion for photography that was with me as a child grew into more after my first child was born.  I couldn’t get enough of her sweet features, and didn’t want to forget any smile, coo, or silly expression she made.  My husband bought me my first DSLR camera when my third baby was born nearly 4 years ago and I haven’t stopped learning and experimenting since!
I started portfolio building 3 years ago and quickly realized that my passion lays in newborn photography.  Those fleeting moments in a new baby’s life pass so quickly, and usually us moms are still in a blur during that time and can forget those days too easily!

        What else do you enjoy besides photography?

The beach!  I love being in the sun and especially with my family!  And camping, we take an annual week long camping trip every summer.
Pillow talk with my kids every night before bed.
        What’s the best part of your job?

Cuddling sweet newborn babies and watching the love in a new mom and dad’s eyes is so magical!

        If I weren’t a photographer, I would be…?

A nutritionist or naturopath.  I love learning about healthy natural lifestyle choices and find so much satisfaction in feeding my children healthy meals.  Don’t get me wrong though, I can also be found driving through McDonalds on an occasional busy day!  I am still human!

        Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Sending my last baby off to grade one and crying in a corner!  Just kidding.  Sort of.

        Who inspires you?

Keri Meyers, Laura Brett and Caralee Case.  All for different reasons!  But their different styles of newborn and children’s photography inspire me every day!

Not photography related, but my husband also inspires me.  He is the best support I could ask for.  He encourages me and is my #1 fan!  He is also a triathlete and inspires me every day to take the time out of my busy life as a mom and business owner to make sure I take care of myself too!

        Do you have any words of advice you can share with others who are just starting out in their own business adventure?

Don’t be afraid to dive in with all your heart.  I would never be where I am now without countless late nights and constantly experimenting and practicing! 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meet: Kelsey from Photos by Kelsey, LLC

•This week's featured photographer is Kelsey, from Photos by Kelsey, LLC. I've had the pleasure of working with Kelsey, and she's such a sweet person. Her work is clean and refreshing.
Thank you for taking a little time out to answer some questions, and letting us get to know you a little better, Kelsey.
You can see Kelsey's work here:

-Introduction: Who is Kelsey Haffner?
I am a wife to my amazing husband, Kris, of 4 years. We were high school sweet hearts and now have a 21 month old son, Logan, as well as an 8 year old German Shepherd named Otto.
-How did you become Photos by Kelsey, LLC?
I had a fairly short journey to becoming Photos by Kelsey. I began as a landscape photography hobbyist, that was quickly converted into a portraiture through peer pressure from my family. Once I began my business in 2012, I quickly realized that I had a special interest and passion for newborn photography.

-What else do you enjoy besides photography?
I enjoy spending time with my family, including bike rides, playing sports, and having BBQs.

-What's the best part of your job?
One of the best parts of my job is getting to be a part of so many special moments, from engagements and weddings to a newborn's first images.

-Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I hope to continue to have a growing and successful photography business.

-Who inspires you?
Kelly Brown, newborn photographer inspires me to challenge my newborn photography skills. Her work is so clean and beautiful, I just love it.

-Do you have any words of advice you can share with others who are just starting out in their own business adventure?
My advice to others is to continue to strive for the things you want. Don't forget to take a step back and evaluate yourself and your situation. This has always helped me lead to success in my business.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meet: Kristy of A Thousand Words Photography

I have had the pleasure of getting to work with Kristy a bit, and am looking forward to working with her more in the future. She's a sweetheart, and just a down-to-earth person. Everyone welcome, Kristy Polenske! (: 

My name is Kristy Polenske and I am the owner of "A Thousand Words" Photography, located in Rapids City IL. If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be a professional photographer I probably would have laughed. However, if someone would have told me back in high school that I would be a professional photographer, I would have believed you and may very well had went to school for it! I always had a true appreciation for artwork and photography. Whenever I would see a beautiful photograph, I would tell myself, "I want to take a photo like that!"

    I have been in business for only two years now but in those two years I have come a long way! I gave birth to my son in April of 2010 and it became apparent (in the hundreds of photos I took of him) that I had a knack for angles, positioning and creativity. I had friends and friends of friends asking me to take their photos for them also. As a stay at home Mom I decided it could be something to get me away for a little while and make a little extra money. I fell in love with the whole concept and with all the positive feedback from clients. It made me want to work even harder at doing even better for the next session! I liked my work, but it wasn't was I was envisioning and I knew I could do better. I spent the next year and a half cramming my brain and my schedule with hands on courses and online classes and read more information on the Internet and in books than I have since I graduated high school more than 10 years ago! My clientele has more than tripled and I just made the transition from a natural light photographer only, to include studio photography in my very own studio I just opened in February!! I have been SO blessed in the past couple years that I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for me!!

    The best part about my job is that I decide how much time I put into it and how much time I take from my family! My family is VERY important me. Sometimes I feel a little guilty at all the studying I have been doing and the time involved in building the studio and creating sets, that I feel like I may be missing out a little on my kids. Especially my 8 month old baby girl who is growing way too fast right before my eyes!!

I am also the kind of person who loves to have her plate full. If I get asked to help with something I can't say no. If I see a project I think might be fun, I jump right in. If there is something I have my heart set on, I find a way to make it happen! I sometimes miss the days of getting to leave the house to go to a job that only requires me to think about it while I'm there. My creative brain never shuts off when I leave a session. Everyone knows being a stay at home Mom you have cleaning, cooking, laundry, bathing, play and learning time, party planning ect ect. On top of all those duties and "to do" lists on my brain, I add the constant creative thinking about what kind of sets and poses would be fun, searching the Internet and the soul sucking site you all know as Pinterest for ideas, and building new sets or making new props. Once you add in my hobbies of scrap booking, riding my motorcycle, boating, fishing, taking family trips, sewing, and working outside..........well, I am never bored and I am NEVER without something to do!!!! If I wasn't a photographer........well, one can only imagine what else I could have signed myself up for, LOL.

    In 5 years I hope to be the photographer that almost everyone you talk to, in a 40 mile radius of me, has heard of or been to!! You hear a lot of professionals complain about the market being "saturated" with photographers. I don't let that bother me. If I'm doing what Im supposed to be doing, I won't have to worry about what others are doing or charging. I love to teach people new things that I know how to do and I can totally see me offering mentoring in photography and photoshop. There were a lot of photographers that help me out and answered a lot of (probably dumb) questions from me, and I believe in paying it forward! If you are just starting out and want to be a successful professional.....NEVER STOP LEARNING! You will never know too much about photography, or your camera, or the digital world of photoshoping! I know professionals who have been in business for 10+ years and still go to workshops and seminars. You can never stop learning! I got about 463,298 new wrinkles on my brain in this past year alone and I still have much more I want to learn! Its my dream and goal to travel somewhere for a pristine workshop in some remarkable location out of state, sigh....someday!

Thank you soooo much to Lee Crochet for choosing little ol' me for your featured photographer!! And an even bigger thank you for all your beautiful work you put into your amazing props!! I can't wait to combine our creativity again this week!!

Sincerely Yours,
A Thousand Words Photography by Kristy Polenske

Monday, January 28, 2013

Let's Get to Know: VanessaAnn Photography

Vanessa is such a great person. Her and I have been in contact for almost a year now. We've both been there for each other with photography-related questions. She's super sweet and so helpful. I'm glad she had time to answer these questions - I'm glad to introduce to you all, Vanessa, of VanessaAnn Photography. Her work is just as lovely as she is. And if you're not already a fan, you should be! (:

Introduction: Who is Vanessa?
First and foremost, I am a person who loves God and strives to live my life in a way that is pleasing to Him. I am a wife and mother of three; two of which are teenagers and can add some interesting dynamics to life. Those of you with teenagers, you know where I am coming from. My family is my biggest blessing in life; without them, I wouldn't be who I am. Aside from those few things, I am an outgoing person with a bubbly personality who loves meeting new people! I have a competitive nature and strive to do my best in all I do. With that being said, I can honestly relate to those in the photography field who say that they are their worst critic; I am truly my biggest and worst critic. Most who know me would say I am not a simple person. I don't really ask for reasons why they think that but, I could guess that part of it is because I am a redhead….it is in our nature to be complicated!

• How did you become VanessaAnn Photography? It was November of 2011 that I decided to embark on one of my biggest dreams; becoming a photographer. I have always had a camera in hand or nearby since my oldest was born (now 17). I could never get enough of capturing moments that would start to document her life and those beautiful and sometimes what she would say are "not so beautiful", images of her. Soon after, I had my son and some years following, my second daughter came along. It has been the three of them that have inspired me to start my own business. My husband has had a big part in this as well; he has been my biggest cheerleader but, it is my children who have given me the eye and the sensitivity that one would need to look through a lens and capture such precious moments in the lives of others.

• What else do you enjoy besides photography?
I absolutely love to play volleyball and I am very excited that my youngest has taken up a love for the sport!! I enjoy shopping, decorating my home, and listening to music! I enjoy going on walks and/or hikes and having my camera in tow. It is nice to look through a lens from time to time and expand on what my creative eye can see. On those cold fall/winter days, I love to cuddle up with a blanket, get cozy and read a good book. I don't get a lot of time to do this so, when I do I really enjoy it. When it comes down to it, hanging out with family and friends are some of the most enjoyable moments; after all, memories are being created!! Simply put…I just love to have fun

Monday, January 14, 2013

Let's Get to Know Austin Pike Photography!

I would like to introduce to you Austin Pike, of Austin Pike Photography. Her work is lovely, and so is she. It was fun reading her responses and getting to know the woman behind the camera. Would love to work with you someday, Austin. (:
Let's get to know Austin Pike, of Austin Pike Photography:

  •  Introduction: Who is Austin? 
Who is Austin…. I was born and raised in Alabama. We still live in the small town where I was raised and wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a wife, a mother, and child of God. I have been married to wonderful husband for over 4 years. We have a beautiful 3 year old daughter named Adalyn. She is  the center of our world. Diet Dr. Pepper is my morning coffee. I love country music, animated movies, pedicures, sweet and flip flops. I have been told that I have a thick southern accent, but hey, I from Alabama what do you expect? My favorite color is pink. I am addicted to pintrest. And last but NOT least Photography is my passion!

  • How did you become Austin Pike Photography?

I have always had an interest in photography and anything that would allow me to express my creative
side. About 6 years ago a friend of mine started a photography business and I worked under her. I began taking classes, attending workshops, doing a lot of reading/research, watching videos and doing a LOT of practicing to apply everything I was learning. I worked for her for 3 years until we both had babies and decided to focus on being moms. I took a couple of years off from doing it “professionally” but continued to take classes, and take pictures for friends. Then one day one of my best friends told me that I should open up a business, so I did! I am so glad I did. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  •  What else do you enjoy besides photography?

I LOVE spending time with my little family, and my friends. I also enjoy reading (when I have time)

  • What’s the best part of your job?

 I love capturing the most natural and precious moments God has given to us. One of the reasons I love photography so much is because I enjoy making others happy by capturing these special moments. So, I think the best part is knowing that I make others happy.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years my 3 year old will be 8! Wow that is hard to believe. She will be in school and hopefully by then we will have another baby and my business will be thriving.
  • Who inspires you?  
That is easy, everyone. I love to look at other photographers work to be inspired. I think my favorite newborn photographer would have to be Kimberly G Photography. I have never met her but I do love her work, it is very creative.

  • Do you have any words of advice you can share with others who are just starting out in their own business adventure? 
For anyone just starting out I would say take in as much as you can. Attend any workshops you can, read all the time, practice all the time, take your camera everywhere you go and if you know a photographer or have one that you admire contact them! Ask to shadow them. Knowledge is everything and there is always something you can learn. Take every opportunity to learn as much as you can. Knowledge is everything.  

Thank you so much, Austin, for taking the time to answer these questions for us. I look forward to seeing more of you work in the future!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meet Kristen of: Kristen Walters Photography

I have had the pleasure of working with Kristen. She is super sweet and very talented. She's one of my all time favorite newborn photographers and I'm so grateful to have been able to have the chance to work with her!
I'm very excited to introduce her to you all. You're going to love her work as much as I do!

Introduction: Who is Kristen? 
      I was born in Mississippi but raised here in Masssachusetts where I now reside.  I am a 37 year old mom of 3 amazing little boys! I’ve been married to my southern gentleman husband for 17 years.
This adorable lil baby sporting one of Lee Crochet's Morgan Cloches. <3
How did you become Kristen Walters Photography?
      Very gradually! I started taking pictures of my little boys & family and friends. One day about 5 years ago my artist Father-in-law was looking at my photos & told me I really had “the eye” & a gift. My husband bought me my first “nice” camera & I proceeded to practice A LOT on friends & my kids and went to workshops & seminars. I began doing family and senior graduate  sessions outside & in people’s homes.  I did my first newborn session almost 3 years ago in a clients house and I was hooked. I love the sweet little newborns!  I was able to find a great small  studio space to rent with a photographer friend around 2 years ago and last year took the space on my own. Ever since then business has flourished & I am still humbled & overwhelmed at where I am now.

 Love this pose. And the colors are perfect together!
                                     This lil cutie is wearing one of Lee Crochet's Merwin Caps


 What else do you enjoy besides photography?
      I enjoy spending time with my 3 wonderful boys more than words!!! I try to soak up every possible moment of them because I see every day how quick they grow ! I am also an active member of my church & love being involved in areas of service there. 
What’s the best part of your job?
      Cuddling the newbies J and when you look over &  the mom is in tears because she is so in awe… amazing!

Simple, yet so sweet. <3
                                              Lee Crochet's Autumn Button Patch Beanie
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
      Gulp, my first son will hopefully be in college, hopefully still enjoying my wonderful family & still taking photos of cuddly newborns! Hope to eventually shoot newborn sessions exclusively!  Would love to someday get a bigger studio space as well.

                                                    Such fun colors! This adorable lil baby is
                                                     sportin' one of Lee Crochet's Caleb Caps

Who inspires you?
     I love Rachel Vanoven’s beautiful photos, Julie Paisley, Katie Matthews… there are some incredible newborn photographers out there!  

                                     Adorable shots, as always! Love all the color combos 
                                                  Kristen chooses! The throws shown are
                                                  Lee Crochet's Chunky Newborn Throws
Do you have any words of advice you can share with others who are just starting out in their own business adventure?
      Take your time & soak up as much experience as you can! Don’t go into it to make tons of money, do it because you love it & your work will show it!  Take pics of famiy & friends and practice , practice!  I am still learning new things everyday!

Thank you so very much Kristen, for taking the time to answer this questionairre for me. I have loved getting to know you and enjoy working with you! <3