Growing My Boudoir Business…

Back in 2007 I launched my wedding photography business. In 2008 I moved in to my first studio in the Heights and launched boudoir sessions as well.

By 2010, I began to accept my superpower. I love, love, love doing boudoir sessions for women because I can help them see themselves as I see them – AMAZING. I can help them grow their confidence and rediscover their beauty. I can help them see something far deeper than the beauty that magazines are always trying to convince us of – so very much more.

Most women opt to do a boudoir session with me involving lots of pretty frilly lace lingerie – but some women don’t want boudoir photographs. They just want incredible photographs that they can give to a loved one, share on Facebook, whatever the case may be — and I’ve always given every client that option. They can wear whatever they want!

For years, I’ve run both a wedding photography business and a boudoir business. They overlap a little bit, but not much. Very few of my wedding clients have booked me for boudoir sessions; a few more of my boudoir clients have booked me for their weddings. It has always worked because weddings are mostly on the weekends and my boudoir sessions are during the week. But focusing my marketing energies on one takes me away from the other one. I can’t do as much for either one as I would like.

I’ve struggled with feeling divided for the past 6 months or so.

This past week after shooting a wedding, it hit me. I love weddings! I love the families coming together to celebrate, the traditions, the unique touches that make it their own, the dancing, the music, the cake. But even as much as I love and adore them, it still is not at that magical level as my Hot Mama Boudoir work and my women’s portrait sessions.

Life is short. I want it to be magical. There is nothing quite like that moment when my client sees herself the way that I see her – the way that the rest of the world sees her. It has taken me a few years to reach this point, but my boudoir business is so busy it is time to cut back on the number of weddings I take. From here on out, I’ll gladly accept weddings of past clients, along with their friends & family — and mine of course too! Beyond that, I’ll consider others based on my availability. Brittany & I have such a great system down already for weddings, we won’t skip a beat.

If I want my boudoir & portrait work to have the reach that I can see it having, I have come to terms with accepting that I can’t do it all. If I focus all of my energy in one direction instead of two? Hang on tight, it is going to be awesome!

I’m going to start sharing more of the contemporary women’s portraiture work (a more accurate name for my work – with or without lingerie involved) that I’ve done over the past few years on my Christine Tremoulet site. Meanwhile, the Hot Mama Boudoir site will live on as I merge the brands together. I’m working those logistics out. And if you have any suggestions you want to share on how to do that, I’m open to hearing them!

2012 is going to KICK ASS. I can’t WAIT to share this with you! Want to do a session with me? I’m going on TOUR!!! Las Vegas, Paris, London, Boston, New York, New Orleans, Tampa, San Francisco, Napa, and more! Check out the dates and meet up with me for your photo shoot!

And because every post is better with a photo, here is one from Kayla’s photo shoot that we did – a perfect example of my Contemporary Women’s Portraiture sessions!

Wish Upon a Wedding…

Two years ago, when I was helping a photography friend start their business, Shine Pics, I first learned about Wish Upon a Wedding and immediately volunteered to be a Wish Granter – before Houston even had a chapter! I was so thrilled to learn that there was a non-profit devoted to granting the wishes of a couple facing terminal illness or special circumstances that might not be able to have a wedding otherwise.

Last year I was contacted by the Houston chapter and asked if I would grant a wish for Alexis & Christian. I didn’t hesitate for a second to tell them yes – and I’m so glad I did! Alexis & Christian are just the most amazing people, and spending time with them together makes my heart sing. If you don’t know them already – you should. Make it happen.

Shortly after their wedding I learned that the Houston Chapter had board and committee openings. I applied to be the Marketing Chair, and after a review by the national & Houston boards, my application was accepted! I’m so honored to be giving back & helping to spread the word about this amazing, wonderful group!

Now we need YOUR help!!!

- Know a couple facing a terminal illness or a special circumstance? Learn more about how to apply to have your wish granted! This is a REALLY BIG ONE – we need to get the word out to help people! We need YOU!

- In the wedding industry and want to volunteer to be a Wish Granter? All the details for you are here. (DO IT! It is the most AMAZING experience to give back!)

- Interested in helping out with the board or being on a committee? The details you are looking for are here. We need you!

And last but not least? Come on out on Thursday, April 12, 2012, for the Second Annual Tacky Wedding Pub Crawl benefitting Wish Upon a Wedding! Open to *everyone* – dress in your tacky wedding finest (or not!) and join us as we go from pub to pub on White Oak in the Heights! Tickets are $10 until 2pm on Thursday afternoon, and $20 at the door – get yours here! Prizes, laughter, and good times are waiting for you!

Dear Media, How to Not to Cite Photos…

I caused a kerfuffle on Twitter about an hour ago. Over photographs that weren’t my own. I’m posting about it here not to point a finger of blame (note the apology at the end of this), but more so to discuss what happened and how photographer’s works should be credited. On to the story…

As I was eating lunch, I was really excited to spot a post from the Houston Press about the top 10 romantic restaurants in Houston. I love to check out new restaurants with Mike, especially since he is such a foodie at heart. (Ok, I may be a little bit too, even though I’m a selective eater.) As I browsed the article, I was a little shocked to see photos credited to FACEBOOK.

Facebook, as you probably already know, is not a photographer. I am a photographer. While these photos were not mine, if they had been? I would have been pissed. And since I’m a photographer, I was feeling a little indignant for all the other photographers out there. Because even YOU, professional photographer or not, iPhone or fancy SLR camera, own the copyright to your images the second your finger comes off of the trigger. And just because you post them to Facebook, that doesn’t mean Facebook should be credited as the source. You are the source. Not Facebook. EVER.

I respect the Houston Press. I like to read articles by the Houston Press, especially the food-related articles in Eating Our Words. So I was just stunned that they would ever credit Facebook.

And? I told them so.

Then I saw that they had a slideshow of other romantic restaurants in Houston. I opened the link on my iPhone this time with hesitation. I went through 4 photos credited to Facebook before I finally came to one with a person credited for the photo. Stunned all over again, and this time fuming because I know they should know better, I tweeted about it again.


Click to view larger. Screen capture of the Houston Press – “Love is in the Air – Houston’s Most Romantic Restaurants. Copyright the Houston Press and the respective owners of the images, whoever they may be. Posted without permission for educational purposes only.

I was horrified at the response I received to my tweet.

Floored, I tell you, floored.

Before I go any further, let me add in here I am NOT A LAWYER and I don’t work for any Criminal Attorney either. So seek out proper legal counsel if you need it regarding this matter. I am not a lawyer. Clear? Ok. Moving on…

Also, these photos were not my photos, and I’m not some lawsuit happy photographer claiming I’m going to sue the Houston Press. If you are a photographer and you find yourself in that situation, get a lawyer. Personally? I’d ask quietly first for them to fix the source. Then, if online, file a DMCA. Lawsuits are a last resort! This time, this topic though? I wasn’t so quiet, because I was mad for all of us.

Dear media, if you use a photographer’s work without citing them as the source and the photographer choses to do so, they can sue you for it. (I am the type of person who normally plays nice, but not everyone is.) Especially in this case, where the images are not licensed to you to use, were taken from Facebook, may or may not have been licensed to the venue and may or may not have had terms attached to that license, and where you are making a profit off of the website displaying the images. A photographer could sue you for even more damages if they have registered them with the Copyright Office. Claiming that it is all that the restaurants gave you is LAZY JOURNALISM. Research the source, ask them who they came from so they can be properly cited, and cover your ass! Because when I sue you, and we go to court, “I dunno – they gave them to us that way” isn’t going to be acceptable.

Media & journalist that work for the media? You of ALL PEOPLE should know better.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. There are even other publications in Houston that have a far, far worse track record. Matter of fact, publications all over are doing this.

This even goes beyond the media. It goes to all of us. If you post a photo online that someone else took, cite the source. Exactly who took it. Exactly where you found it. If you don’t know, find out. On your blog, on Pinterest, on Facebook – wherever. Credit the photographer.

Copyright law has a lot of gray areas. I’m kind of in love with copyright law, quite a champion of it actually, and yet I release most of my personal photos and work under a Creative Commons license. But that is a topic for another day. The main point? Know how the work is licensed before you use it!

Photographs, and other works of art, are licensed for a reason. For example, for my wedding clients they receive a DVD of images *for personal use*. I then give vendors a DVD of images of their venues, flowers, whatever the case may be and I license that for commercial use, with credit to Christine Tremoulet, and a link to my site online when applicable.

I need to be credited though. Not Facebook. EVER.

Facebook is not a source. Pinterest is not a source. Twitter is not a source. Flickr is not a source. Your favorite style blog is not a source. The person who took the photo -or- the copyright holder? THEY are the source.

If we don’t all stand up and demand that this sort of activity be stopped, well … it isn’t going to end well for us, the photographers left holding the camera and not much more. Even you, the amateur photographer. You own those photos. (I’ll save the discussion for who has a stake in your copyright when you upload to social media sites for another day.)

The final irony? Journalists are upset & losing their jobs because they are being replaced by social media sources instead. Yet here is media using social media as a source for photographs instead of hiring a photographer to go out and get the shots or licensing them properly. Seems pretty circular to me. And somehow? Just sad.

PLEASE NOTE: Katharine Shilcutt of Eating Our Words & the Houston Press did apologize for this incident and is diligently working to clean up the sources. I still respect the Houston Press because of that, probably more than ever before. This post is not meant as an attack on the Houston Press – just as a wake up call to all journalists to please cite us as sources just like they would want to be cited, to respect our copyrights, and to play nice. The Houston Press was just the latest media outlet to do this that I’ve come across recently, and the one that finally moved me to write about it.

Do not go on a witch hunt of the Houston Press. We are cool.

Repeating the disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am a photographer. If you are seeking legal counsel, hire a lawyer to help you out with these murky issues. I highly recommend Katie Sunstrom in Texas, and Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik in Florida, who are lawyers. But I am not. I did however take Katie’s photo on that site, which she has permission to use for commercial use.

Run Your Business However you Damn Well Please…

Let me start this off with admitting that I’m a picky eater. There are a lot of things in this world that I won’t eat. Most of it is texture issues – if I don’t like how it looks or feels, I’m not going to eat it. Sorry. I’ve dealt with this my entire life.

Meanwhile, I married a man who loves to cook fabulous, delicious food and who also happens to love French Cuisine, which isn’t exactly my favorite. He happily tries new food most of the time, and his list of foods he won’t eat is rather short. Everyone has different tastes.

Yesterday on Twitter, I discovered a firestorm of fury over the fact that Ricky, the owner of Hubcap Grill, said that he won’t be serving a vegan/vegetarian option on his menu, and no Turkey burgers either.

“It’s official. I will NOT be doing any veggie/vegan or turkey on 19th st. Sorry folks, it’s not Hubcap style” (link)

The vegans & vegetarians were up in ARMS over this. Ricky was getting direct messages full of hate over it. He was called pretentious. The vocal ones were filling up the Twitter stream over it. It was amazing to watch. Not just from the perspective of an armchair spectator to all the drama, but from the viewpoint of being a small business owner myself. (It also made me want some Hubcap Grill Sliders, but I’m honestly not being biased here.)

I GET IT. The vegan/vegetarian crowd want to be heard. They don’t want to eat beef. They want food that they like, that fits their lifestyle choice, that they feel is the most healthy for them. See above – picky eater – I sometimes just want to have choices that I like.

When I want those items, I pick a restaurant that serves them. I don’t insist that other restaurants should modify their menus to cater to my desires.

Ricky, as a small business owner, had to make a choice. Could he be an “everything” and please everyone? Or could he be a specialist and rock out what he does best? What he loves to serve? What he feels fits the style of his business? He drew a line and he stood his ground. I support him 110% on that choice. Matter of fact, it makes me a more loyal customer because I know exactly what I will get when I go there, his specialty, not something he felt was an inferior product.

Also, he doesn’t have to dedicate part of his grill space to being meat free, purely vegan/vegetarian friendly. I’m assuming this last part, because I would think if I was a vegan/vegetarian I wouldn’t want my food cooked right next to that juicy beef burger. It makes sense from a financial perspective as a business owner.

How does all of this relate to me? I’m a boudoir photographer that specializes in working with Moms. That is my superpower. If someone comes to me and asks me to photograph their 4 year old child, I’m probably going to say NO rather quickly. That isn’t what I do. That isn’t where I work. I don’t feel that I could give them a quality product that they would be happy with. I also don’t shoot boudoir sessions with big studio lights and lot of backdrops. Again, not my thing. Others specialize in that – I don’t. (It is ok to be a generalist if that fits you best. But overall, specializing & working your strengths is where it is at for most people.)

Does that mean I’ll lose customers if I say no to what I don’t want to do? Of course. Big freakin’ deal! I can’t possibly cater to everyone. If I did, my work wouldn’t have the same power that it does. I wouldn’t have time to do what I’m most passionate about and what I’m best at doing. It is my choice as a business owner. Ricky had people say publicly on Twitter yesterday that he had lost them as customers forever because he wasn’t going to bend and change his product lineup.

Are you SERIOUS???

If you choose to run your business however you damn well please, selling the products you want to sell, the customers you do have will love you for what you do. They will sing your praises far & wide and bring you even more customers. Plain & simple.

Some restaurants carry a bit of everything. Most of them are the chain restaurants that you find in the suburbs in Houston that everyone seems happy to complain about (but still always have a 30-45 minute wait on a Saturday night). They are called out for being bland and just mediocre most of the time. Moving from the suburbs to the Heights makes this attitude even more obvious to me right now.

I just find the whole thing fascinating. We tear down the chain restaurants for trying to be everything to everyone, and now we’re attacking the small local businesses too for not being everything to everyone as well?

Know your strengths. Stand out. Don’t be bland. Don’t cater to everyone just to chase the dollar. Do what you love. Support your local businesses. And if they don’t sell what you want to buy, move on. It is all about the loooooooooove.

And if you want a veggie burger, go somewhere that sells them. Personally, I like some yummy sliders, so you’ll find me at the new Hubcap Grill in the Heights when it opens. I’m not a picky eater when it comes to those tasty morsels!