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As of 2pm on June 20th, 2014, we no longer own the cute little studio at 21 S Main with the turquoise walls and white chandelier. It was definitely a bittersweet day filled with lots of emotions. I was sad because we put so much work into that place to turn it in to the most perfect little studio/client meeting space for me. I felt happiness because we no longer have to put another ounce of work or money into that place…and I’m REALLY excited because selling it means so many positive things are going to happen for me, my family, and my business.

To fully understand why I’m feeling all these emotions…let’s take a stroll down memory lane. ;o)

In 2009 when I first started my business I met clients at Starbuck’s, I shot all sessions on location, and I did all my office work out of my home.  It was just me at that time…and that’s what worked.  Early in 2010 we started looking for a place for me to use as a meeting place for my clients. I was tired of meeting people in Starbuck’s where I had to speak over a latte/cappuccino/whatever that loud machine is they have there. :o)  We weren’t really looking for anything very large..or anything that needed a lot of work…but we ended up finding this place. It was over 5,000 square feet.  It had two apartments upstairs (my husband had always wanted to be a landlord) and there was tons of potential downstairs for not only a meeting space..but a studio space.  I fell in love. :o)  I looked past ALL the work that needed done, I looked past the fact that the building was built in 1920 and hadn’t had any updates since the 1970′s…I looked past the fact that we were probably going to have to fork out a lot of money to make it work for me. And…against our better judgement….we bought it. :o/  At the time the downstairs was rented out to a hair salon and the two upstairs apartments were both rented out to tenants..so we figured we’d just leave it that way for a while, make some money that we could use to pay it off quicker…and then maybe in 6-9 months…we’d start fixing up the downstairs. Well, things changed with the tenants…and we found ourselves ripping out 1970′s paneling before summertime. We ripped down the paneling, we tore down walls, ceilings, electrical work, etc. We completely gutted the downstairs of that building. Every extra dollar I made from my business went into new drywall, all new electrical, brand new laminate wood flooring, new ceiling, etc.  I spent more time shopping at Lowe’s than I did at my own home. :o)  At least…that’s what it felt like. :o)  But…after 15 months…and lots of money…I finally had the meeting place and studio that I had always wanted.

Sounds great, right? Not so much. Above all this newly remodeled work was two upstairs apartments…that hadn’t been touched since the 70′s. Which meant…leaky plumbing, leaky roof, etc. And…all those leaky items….caused leaks in my ceiling of my studio. I can’t even tell you how many times I would walk into the studio…and it would be flooded. Sometimes from a leaky pipe…and others because disrespectful tenants “forgot to turn off their bath water.” It was awful. All of a sudden all this hard work and money we had put into this place…was just going to waste. We found ourselves spending tons of unexpected money towards repairs and replacements. It was something that we just didn’t realize we would have to do.

In 2012 when we found out that we were going to be having a baby…we decided that there was no way we were going to have the extra time or the extra money to take care of this place.  It had turned into a money pit…and we were tired of throwing money into it…to just have a new problem the next week.  We knew it was time to make a really tough decision…but in all honesty…it really wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. I already did the majority of my office work at home…and really the only time I was at my studio was to meet with clients and to shoot the occasional indoor session. The majority of our sessions were still outdoors, on location and there wasn’t really a big need for me to have a studio. I was easily spending $700+ a month on utilities….but wasn’t using them. So…we realized that getting rid of this building was not only going to be a huge relief of stress off our backs but it was also going to save us a lot of money.

So…in 2013…after the arrival of our little guy, we decided to put it on the market. And…after almost a year on the market…I’m happy to say that in May 2014 we got an offer and accepted. :o) Over the past 45 days we’ve been slowly moving everything out of my studio and into a storage unit or to our home. It’s been bittersweet as I’ve taken down photos that I’ve shot over the years and to think of all the clients that have come into the studio… but…it’s amazing to stop and think all the positive things that are coming out of this.

We no longer have the stress of having to go down and repair something or pay to have something repaired.  We no longer will have to pay for electricity, gas, water, sewer, security system, internet, phone, insurance, at our home and the studio. Honestly..it was almost like owning two homes…and if you own a home….just add up all your bills…and double it. Yeah…not fun, huh? :o)

So…since announcing this on my facebook a few weeks ago and also writing about it on the Boudoir Chicks Blog and Newsletter I’ve had so many people ask me… “Are you quitting photography? Are you going out of business? Are you getting a new studio? etc.”

So…I want to take this time in my blog..to tell you the answers to that. First of all… HECK NO we are not quitting or going out of business.  2014 has been our most successful year yet. There is absolutely NO WAY we are going anywhere. We are simply going back to the basics. We will meet our clients at Coffee Shops, just like we did in the beginning. We will go back to doing ALL our sessions on locations…like we pretty much always have anyways. And…we will continue to do all our office work/post processing at our home…like we ALWAYS have since day one.  As for a new studio…we will see. We haven’t really decided on that yet. Since we’ve been so busy with the studio over the past five years…we’ve sort of neglected our home. There are home improvement jobs we’d like to do. We’re having a brand new garage built in August….and maybe even build onto our home for additional space. Or…maybe we’ll buy some property and build a new house…and I’ll have an in home studio. Or…maybe I’ll find a smaller space to rent in downtown Terre Haute. Who knows! The sky is the limit! Right now we are in the middle of our wedding season…and I’m trying to concentrate on continuing to make my clients happy…and to be a good mom and wife. :o)

I do want to make sure to take some time in the post to Thank You…my clients. If it wasn’t for you…I would have never even had the studio..so thank you. Thank you to those of you who came to my open house, to those of you who had photo shoots at the studio or met me at my studio. Thank You! :o) Thank you for supporting me and my business from day one. It means the world to me.

So for now…we’ll go back to meeting clients at coffee shops. We’ll go back to shooting all our sessions on locations…and we’ll go back to the basics of what made this business successful from day one. I’ll spend more time being able to shoot and edit…instead of fixing leaky pipes and dealing with an old building.

And..most importantly…as a mom and wife I’ll go back to spending even more time with my two guys…and being happier. :o)  Enjoy some photos from before, during, and after our renovation. :o) – MC

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This was the front of the studio when we purchased it.

 

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This was standing at the front door..looking back. Oh my…I forgot how bad it was.

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This was standing in the back…looking towards the front window. It had awful 1970′s paneling.

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Oh..this was the awful floor. It had YEARS of hairspray, hair, cigarette smoke…and who knows what else on it. You can see where the stylist had a rubber mat…and no matter how hard we scrubbed we could not get that floor clean.

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After the paneling came down, we started to put up new walls!

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Drywall going up!

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Dry wall is up! Paint is on the walls! And..now it’s time for a new drop ceiling!

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My name on the front door! I remember this day…it was so exciting!

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New Floor going in!

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That new floor just really transformed it! And..boy was I glad that dirty old floor was covered up!

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As soon as the trim was on…I started moving stuff in! I was so excited!

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This was the finished product. :o)

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I loved our “fireplace.” :o) .

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This was our gallery wall that displayed 6 20×30 images from weddings and engagements…and 1 20×20 image with our logo in the center.

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We used this vintage dresser to store our wedding and engagement sample albums in…and we used the old window to display holiday cards, save the dates, and photos depending on the season.

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Brent and Kathleen (and Belle!) // When it came time to start thinking about locations for their engagement session they knew exactly where they wanted to go. Brent has some of his cow’s on a family friends property out in the country just south of Terre Haute…so they knew that was the perfect spot. So…on a rather warm spring evening, we headed out to the cow pastures! :o) Enjoy some of my favorites!!

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LOVE the one below!!

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And..of course Belle had to have a close up! :o)

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B+K :: I’ll see you guys in September!! I can’t wait!! – MC

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Michael and Kristen // Palestine, Illinois
This is the third time that Michael and Kristen have been on our blog. The first time was for their Engagement Session and the last time you saw them was for their 2013 Summer Wedding. The engagement session and wedding were both on their family farm…so when Kristen emailed me letting me know they were expecting their first baby…we knew that the perfect place to do their maternity photos was on the farm! Now…I don’t know if I have told you guys just how much Michael HATES to have his photo taken. We are talking…like he HATES his photo taken. Like..I’m pretty sure he’d rather have teeth pulled or be punched in the junk…than to have his photos taken. Seriously.  However, I will say that each time I show up to photograph them…as much as he hates it…he sucks it up and puts up with me and Kristen’s crazy ideas. :o) Luckily for him….there will be a new guy in the family for us to photograph…and we won’t really care about photographing Michael as much. :o) Enjoy some of my favorites from their session!

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I LOVE the photo below!  Just a little less than a year ago Michael and Kristen were standing in this exact spot in their wedding gown and suit…getting ready to get married. :o)

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M + K :: Can’t wait to meet Baby Walker!!! :o) I hope he has a head of hair like his daddy! ;o) – MC

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Brandon and Megan // Washington, Indiana
When shot Brandon and Megan’s Engagement Session on a really cold and windy day…and then their wedding day was rather warm and sunny. :o) Well…really sunny because there was not ONE single cloud in the sky all day. :o) But…no matter the weather..this couple was always laughing and having fun and up for anything. On the wedding day when we were shooting the bride and groom formals Megan literally asked “Can I lay in the grass?” I’m like… WHAT?? A bride in a wedding dressed just asked to lay in the grass??? DAY. MADE. :o) Seriously though…the entire wedding day was so much fun. The bridal party was fun and outgoing….their family was so happy to be sharing the day with them. And…Megan and Brandon had a smile on their face the entire day. I think the only thing that could have made them (or at least Brandon) happier..is if they somehow could have fit in going to a Nascar race the same day. haha Enjoy some of my favorites from their day!

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LOVED her shoes!

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It’s hard to see on the blog…but Brandon totally has tears in his eyes! :o)

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Father/Daughter dance gets me every time! :o)

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Reception Venue:: Martin County Community Building
Hairstylist:: Brooke Auberry
Bride’s Dress:: David’s Bridal
Menswear:: Bambini’s
DJ:: DJ Todd Landis

To view more photos from this wedding, VIEW THE ONLINE SLIDESHOW.
To order prints form this wedding, VISIT THE ONLINE GALLERY.

B+M : Thanks for being so laid back and up for anything! I had a blast working with you two!! I am so happy that you two are (finally) married! ;o) – MC

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We’ve been doing bridal shows since 2010 and have had a lot of different booth looks and have learned a LOT over the past five years. Below is 9 different photos from some of our booths over the years. While I was rounding these all up I did some counting and we have did over 15 bridal shows in 5 years. Oh my goodness. I must be crazy. :o) If you’ve ever set up a booth a bridal show..you know just the planning and organizing is very exhausting. Then you have to set it up and take it all down..and then the actual show itself… Gosh! They are hard work! :o)

Enjoy looking at some photos from our booths over the past five years…under each photo I’ll tell you which show it was, a little about our booth, and things that we learned along the way. :o)

January 2010 ::  This was located at St. Mary of the Woods and was the premier bridal show in Terre Haute at this time.  At this point in my career we had just started shooting weddings 6 months prior and we had only shot four weddings total (two of them we were second shooters for) and just a handful of engagement sessions.  Honestly, I look back now and think “whoa..you were way in over your head!”  :o)  I ended up booking quite a few weddings from this show.  I went from having just 2 or 3 weddings booked for 2010 to having over 10 booked in the next few weeks.  It was a very successful show and I learned a lot over those two days.  I ended up doing four more bridal shows that year and continued to book weddings for 2010 and 2011.
Booth Information : To build our wall we used PVC piping that we purchased at Lowe’s…I think it cost me less than $20.  I purchased the fabric on clearance from JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby (I can’t remember), and the chairs and tables were from IKEA.  I definitely think my booth was the most welcoming that year…and we had SO MANY compliments from brides and others walking by telling me I had the best booth at the show.  Ha!  I definitely doubt that..BUT it made me feel good.

PROS : It matched my branding VERY well.  It was very welcoming and looked great!  And…it looked different from what everyone else was doing.  My goal that year was to stand out…and I definitely think I did that!

CONS : The PVC piping was NOT sturdy at all.  They had another booth set up behind us and the people kept bumping into it and it was very close to falling over multiple times.  The fabric was SUPER wrinkly and even though we had a steamer…we still could not get out all of the wrinkles.  While the chairs/table set up looked nice…no one wanted to come in and sit down.  If they wanted to look at any albums they had to bend down (which people did not really like doing) and I think they felt like they were in peoples way if they came in and sat down.  A lot of people just passed on by…. :o(  So…we ditched this design after this one show.

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January 2011 :: This show was the same show above that was located at St. Marys just one year later.  By this time we had shot around 18-20 weddings, 25+ engagement sessions, and had shot our first destination wedding in Florida.  We ditched the crappy PVC piping and upgraded to a fancy backdrop system.  We also got rid of that awful wrinkly fabric and used three chevron curtains that we purchased from Etsy.  And…we had a fancy new sign that really showed off our work.  I really liked this booth set up.  Oh, and we also used a TV to display a slideshow of some of our favorite weddings/engagement sessions that we had shot.

PROS : The chevron curtain got a LOT of compliments…this was when the chevron pattern had just started getting popular.  This was SUPER easy to set up and take down…and was SO much easier than hauling in chairs and tables like the year before.

CONS : People seemed to like to look at albums and actual canvas gallery wraps…things they can touch, instead of the TV.  The TV was heavy…and a pain to have to carry in…and then when people didn’t really seem to watch it..it was a waste of time.

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FALL 2011 ::  The WVBS had a fall bridal show at The Ohio Building in the fall and we decided we wanted it to be a little bit more “rustic.”  The burlap/rustic/pennant look was really starting to get popular…so we wanted brides to be drawn into our booth not only because they loved our work and was interested in hiring us for their wedding…but we wanted to draw them in because of the look of our booth.  We also wanted it to show the type of clients we wanted to work with…and I love me some burlap weddings. :o)  We also brought back the slideshow…but we chose to do it on the laptop so it was much easier to carry in and out.

PROS : I had LOTS of compliments on my booth..and again was told by multiple people I had the best looking booth there.  *blush* :o)

CONS : There really wasn’t any cons to this booth….i’d say the only one I could think of is that vine that we used at the top of the booth was really messy and it “shed” a lot….so it made a mess around our booth and in our car.  But..that was really it.

See more photos from this set up on its very on blog post here!

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Winter 2012 :: This was at St. Marys in January of 2012.  This was the first year that I upgraded to a double booth.  In the past couple of years I always just did a single booth, but their tables aren’t normal size tables..so I always felt like I was trying to squeeze everything on it. So, I decided to make the additional investment and purchase the double booth upgrade.  I’m so glad I did!  Not only did I have lots of table room for my albums and the TV…I had LOTS of wall space to hang photos on.  Again, I was told by multiple people that our booth was the best looking one there and the most eye catching.  I remember one girl telling me that she already had her photographer booked…but that she had to come over just to look at this booth! :o)

Booth Information :: We built this booth by using five closet doors we purchased from Lowe’s.  I can’t remember the exact dimensions of the doors..but it was not the largest ones they have..it was the smaller ones.  We purchased those so that it would be lighter and easier to carry.  All together this measured around 9 foot long.  We painted them the same color as the walls at our studio and my husband used some brackets on the tops of them to attach them to eachother so it would all stay together and look like a wall.  We also bought some brackets so that we could make legs to put on each end..but we didn’t end up having to use them because where our booth was, we were able to just prop it up against the wall and use our table to keep it from falling forward.

PROS :: A definite pro was that this stood out.  It caught peoples eye and really got their attention.  It was almost like bringing my studio…to the show. :o)  The extra room was definitely a plus.  I never had to have people lined up to get to my booth…there was plenty of room for 6-8 people to be in front of my booth, watching the slideshow, and looking at albums.

CONS ::  Set up took a little while.  We were used to set up taking like 20 minutes to put up a backdrop stand….this took a lot longer.  We had to borrow a truck to haul the doors up there, carry them in, put them together, and then set up the table.

See more photos from this booth set up on it’s very own blog post here!

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SPRING 2012 :: (iphone pic, sorry!) This was the Tribune Star show at Rose Hulman.  This was actually the last year that we attended this show.  The first two years (2010 and 2011) we had some pretty good leads from that show..but during the 2012 show they had a really low turnout (most likely because it was the same day as the colts playing in the Super Bowl) and after that show…we decided to no longer do their show again.
Booth Information :: We basically did the exact same set up from the January show I posted above.  We only used 3 doors instead of 5 since our booth was smaller and we replaced the TV with the laptop.  This was the first time we did the “door wall” for a one day bridal show…and after that we decided we would only do the door set up on two day shows.  Setting up and taking down the doors all in a 6 hour period…was not fun.

PROS :: Same as above.  Eye catching, conversation starter….etc. LOVE it!

CONS :: Having to take down and haul away the doors.  And at this show we didn’t have a wall to prop it up against..so we had to use the leg stands on it.

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Fall 2012 :: This was the WVBS Fall Bridal Show and it was located at the Holiday Inn.  We decided to merge our “rustic” burlap booth with our cute “studio” booth.  We set the table up pretty much the same.  The chevron lamps, the laptop, etc. and we even hung the photos the same..but instead of the door wall, we used the backdrop stand with burlap curtains.  I thought it turned out great!

PROS :: Fit our brand, looked great, easy to set up and take down, etc.

CONS :: The only con to this was we used clear plastic wreath hangers to hold the photos…and we taped ribbon on the back of the photos..the ribbon stretched and it was hard to get all 3 of the photos to be even.  This is something that we struggle with everytime we have this set up…and I am hoping to have it resolved by this fall.

(Fun Fact : I was about 4.5 months pregnant with Emmitt in this photo.)

*photo by Connie Dawson

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WINTER 2013 ::  This was our fourth year doing the Bridal Show at St. Marys.  We ended up not doing the double booth again because they increased the prices and it was going to be an additional $500 for it.  I really wanted to do the double booth and had planned on it, but when I heard the price increase I decided that $500 could go to something different and more effective.  When we attended the show in January 2013 we actually already had 21 weddings booked for 2013…so really we were advertising for 2014.  While we did run into some 2014 brides..the majority of the brides that came by our booth was 2013…so while we did get a lot of great leads for 2014…we had to turn down a LOT of brides. :o/

PROS :: Same as above!  Everyone complimented our booth and said it looked great! :o)

CONS :: Loading and unloading the doors.

(Fun Fact :: I was 8 months pregnant in this photo!)

*photo by Connie Dawson

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FALL 2013 :: (iphone pic, sorry!)  This was our booth last fall at the WVBS show at Idle Creek.  Really the only thing different in this photo from the one above is all the albums.  We ordered all new sample albums from our album company with updated weddings. :o)  But..the booth set up and design stayed the same.

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Winter 2014 :: (sorry, iphone pic!) This is the same set up that we had at St. Marys the previous year.  The only difference was we had all new albums to show off with updated weddings.  We were also in the same boat this year as last…at this point we already had 17 weddings for 2014 (and we were only taking 20 total) so we turned down a lot of brides. :o(  You gotta book early! :o)

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Well..that’s it!  That’s the history of our Bridal Show Booth over the past five years!  We are looking forward to the upcoming bridal show this fall and especially the bridal show next January at St. Marys!  Since we sold our studio and no longer have the turquoise walls, we decided we are going to give the door wall a fresh coat of paint and mix it up a little!  So be sure to keep an eye out for our new bridal show booth design!

Have any questions about our set up or what works/didn’t work at a bridal show?  Feel free to post a comment below and I’ll do the best to answer your questions!

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Matt and Taylor // Sullivan, Indiana :: When you grow up and live in a small town (or a small county) you pretty much know everyone.  Even if you don’t really “know” them…you know them. :o)  That’s how I “know” Matt and Taylor.  I knew of Taylor because her younger sister Delaney was my senior rep back in 2010.  And…I knew of Matt because his older sister was a few years younger than me in school…and his mom is Nancy Woodard….who makes AMAZING wedding cakes! :o)  So, when I got an email from Taylor letting me know that she had recently got engaged and they wanted to hire me as their wedding photographer…I was SUPER EXCITED!  Enjoy a few of my favorites from their session.

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Matt HATES having his photo taken..but I thought he was a pro…and you definitely can’t tell how much he hates it in any of the photos. :o)

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I think the two below on the lake are my favorites!!

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LOVE her ring!! Matt did an excellent job picking it out!

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M + T :: I had a great job hanging out with you two!! I can’t wait for the big day!!! See you in August! – MC

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