**note: giveaway is now closed, winner is commentor #119 Melissa Griggs. Congratulations Melissa!
(Melissa, we will be contacting you via the email you used in your comment)
Thank you so much to everyone who asked questions and shared what you learned! We love hearing from you. Stay tuned for more great information, tutorials, and giveaways to come!
Millie Holloman is a wonderful photographer and dear friend of mine. We’ve been friends for almost 10 years! In 2006, we met at the anti-workshop with alt F and the Boutwells. She has been an amazing support to me over the years and always tells everyone how much she loves Kelly Moore Bag.
Of course, she’s one of the first people I thought of when we decided to begin spotlighting photographers and people who adore Kelly Moore Bag. Find out which bags are her favorites. She uses Kelly Moore Bag(s) for each aspect of her life and business. Make sure to check out this whole post because she’s giving away her famous Get It Together Kit AND I’m giving away a Kelly Moore Bag! (enter the give away by asking Millie a question or sharing one thing you learned in the comments section)
I’ve asked Millie some questions below:
how long have you been in business?
I started my business part-time in 1999 when I graduated high school. Shortly after college graduation in 2005, I devoted more time to my business and, along with a name change, things really took off!
in what ways have you and your business evolved over the years?
I started out just shooting film and it was just me. I did not start shooting digital until they started making more pro digital SLR cameras. It was the release of the Canon 10D that launched me into digital shooting in 2003. Now we still shoot a little medium format and 35mm film, but we mainly shoot digital.
My business has definitely been a process. I started out in 1999, working out of my bedroom in my parents home. A few years later I converted my parents’ finished room over the garage into a studio. After that, I purchased a house me and my team worked out of. Now, we are in a full studio in the heart of Downtown Wilmington. I also hired a studio manger in 2006 (best decision I ever made even though I thought I would never be able to afford it at the time).
A couple of years later, I added associates which really changed my business model. I’ve really grown by leaps and bounds as a photographer and a businesswoman and my plan is to just keep moving forward! I don’t ever want to stop learning! If you’re just starting out, don’t give up! I started my business in my bedroom and now, many years later with lots of hard work, I have a gorgeous studio!
you are well-known for your clean style, not just in your photography but also in the way you run your studio and business.
What are three steps to running your business smoothly?
Time management – Learning how to manage your studio/office time and your to do lists. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by too much that does not really matter in the end. Don’t busy your time checking in on what everyone else is doing in the industry. Avoiding the compulsion to checking email all day, tackling the big projects first, and prioritizing my projects are three ways I get a lot done everyday.
Delegating – As you grow, you have to get some things off your plate so that you can do the things you do well.
Staff you trust
– I know when I give my studio manger a project, it’s going to get done and done well. She cares about MHP and I trust her. I could not do it without my team. My studio manager is the best ever, she also happens to be my sister in-law, best friend, and one of our photographers, (she fills a LOT of roles in my life) and no, she isn’t for hire.
over the last couple of years you have fostered several children.
How have your life and business adapted to those big changes? What specific changes have you had to make as a mom and as a business owner?
My life has adapted in every way to the change of becoming a mom. Especially with the babies. Sometimes I’ve even had to do some baby wearing around the office with newborns that are not old enough for daycare yet. I first became a mom to 2 little ones with two hours notice. Whoa!
Also being a single mom is tough some days and means working from home to catch up after the kids go to bed or spending sick days calling into the office and chugging along on my laptop from home.
I’ve also had to outsource some things at home like hiring a cleaning lady. I’ve also hired for things around the office. I hire and train editors to help with the work load. Appointments for court hearings, visits, and meetings with social workers now have to be wiggled into my life schedule as well, so keeping my personal calendar synced up with my office calendar is vital.
I’ve really learned to manage my time better. Somehow I became far more efficient with my office hours than ever before once I had kids. Once 6pm rolls around not much gets done business-wise. I used to follow rabbit holes on the world wide web and get sidetracked by emails, now I have no choice but to focus and knock out my to-do list before the daycare pick-up time comes knocking.
When I am not falling asleep tucking a kid in, I find myself working a bit later at night to tie up loose ends I didn’t wrap up before I flew out the door to grab the kids.
Additionally, my priorities have shifted. My business is still very important to me and my source of income but these kids are so much more important! I take more time off now and I enjoy it. I look forward to weekends off with the kids and when I’m at work it’s more enjoyable because I’m so much more effective.
you are the creator of the fantastic Get It Together Kit
Will you share two of your ideas from it that you think would help a beginning photographer?
The Get It Together Kit
has all sorts of tips and tricks from a close-up look at our folder checklist (which we still use and love) to how we follow up on leads and our workflow!
Our folder checklist is a physical checklist that helps everyone in the office know exactly where our clients are in their process from becoming a client to receiving their order to sending images to magazines.
Bonus Tip: Make a list of your entire workflow, then create your own checklist.
We have a system for everything; we’ve created a sure fire system of following up on leads and for our workflow so that none of our clients ever falls through the cracks. We believe that if you do something more than once, there should be a system for it.
Bonus Tip: Pay attention to activities you do more than once and build a system for it into your workflow.
I also believe in brain dumps, my method for clearing my mind, setting goals for the business, creating effective to do lists, and finding ways to accomplish those important goals that aren’t urgent, but are extremely important for growing a business.
Bonus Tip: Write down everything you’re thinking about it, get it out of your brain on onto paper. You’ll be surprised at how much relief your brain feels. This is step one of the brain dump.
The Get It Together Kit
is a fabulous resource for new photographers and a FUN read because of the way it’s laid out.
Best of all, it’s currently only $50 to Kelly’s readers, so go get one
now. I only have a handful left and I don’t have plans to reprint them.
**Also, Millie is giving away one Get It Together Kit along with a Kelly Moore Bag today! Just ask Millie a question in the comments and you’ll be entered to win. The first 10-20 people to ask Millie a question will get a personal answer from Millie.
you run a business that includes associate photographers
what are the top two things you recommend to a photographer who is considering hiring an associate photographer?
Be ready for a lot of work. It’s awesome to have a team that can grow together and push one another to be better and constantly be learning but I also find it’s very time consuming. I’ve had to cut my shooting back a bit to allow for time to train and help out with the extra work load in the office.
Secondly, hire people that are the right fit for your business, photographers who emulate your style and work ethic. Look for people who aren’t looking to just grow a portfolio but are in it for the long haul and are team players.
Lastly, (I know you said two but I have a third piece of advice) be sure to choose an associate model that works for you. If that means your associates do the editing for the sessions and weddings they shoot, go that route.
For me, it’s important that our photographers have the freedom to create and not have the stress of owning or running a business, so they meet with clients and shoot. That means they don’t have to deal with the contracts, booking, editing and post workflow. This is what works for us but I realize it isn’t for everyone.
which Kelly Moore Bag is your favorite ?
is my favorite bag that I use daily as my work bag toting everything to and from the studio. I don’t know how I ever lived without it before Kelly designed it. My favorite shooting bag is the Kelly Boy bag!
which of the new Kelly Moore Bags are you most excited about?
I have my eye on The Jude but that one isn’t exactly new. I just really want it! The Pilot backpack
is also one I would love to have in my collection; a backpack for traveling would be great! That Collins bag is a beauty too! I want them all!
You’ll be automatically entered into the give away for a Kelly Moore Bag and a Get It Together Kit by asking Millie a question or sharing one thing you learned in the comments!