Dave has accepted a position at the St. Cloud Times! He has been working for Lifetouch Photography since we moved back to Minnesota. I’ve still been working with Protene and ANTG through Wilson Group Companies, as well as with the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers. This fall, I accepted a contract with Arizona Sports Turf. For them, I have been designing and editing their email newsletters, with the possibility of branching out into their website and at some point, flysheets and techsheets. The last couple of months have gone quickly, with Dave working long hours while I have been conducting research for ANTG’s newest endeavor which will take an enormous amount of time, information gathering, communication and collaboration. I have also been preparing a few Protene materials for the Golf Industry Trade Show in San Diego.
We will be moving this next week, as we are closing tomorrow. This is an exciting time for us! It will be our first home that has not been a rental. In addition to working on these projects, looking for a house, and now attempting to pack up our essentials that we’ve had unpacked, I will be in Virginia again from the 11 through the 14th for business. I also have an opportunity for a new client, whom I will be meeting while I’m in Virginia for my WGC business.
Money is tight, and will be even more so with the purchase of a home, so I’ve not been able to do much advertising. However, I have designed a back window view-through, and once the weather warms, I intend to get it installed on my car. Perhaps I’ll even be able to afford a few advertisements in the paper. We’ll see!
This week, I traveled to Virginia to meet with Wilson Group Companies. We are working on pushing one of their product lines into the retail market (they currently operate as commercial for landscape, sports turf, and golf course). The meetings consisted of an initial business plan, design, and structuring ideas as we work to focus on the target audience, decide on their main driving force behind the product, packaging, and delivery method. This is a very exciting process not only for them, but for myself. It will be a highly interactive online business front with a specific focus, and the packaging and design must be reflective of their purpose. I’ll be working closely with Jim Thomas of Key Web out of Chesterfield, Virginia to implement the design ideas and branding identity within the website.
We are hoping to have the initial planning stages completed at the end of this month, and begin pushing the process into motion as the Fall season progresses. I can’t wait to start working on the initial design mock-ups!
While I was out there, we also discussed more designs for technical sheets, a brochure redesign, and label format conversions so that they can edit their labels on-site. It has been a busy week! We’ve also gotten our new business cards with the new logo and design format, and we are both very excited about them. They look fantastic! We had them printed through moo.com. I urge you to check out their site, they do wonderful work.
Sarah and I have been busy working on several projects since getting re-established in St. Paul. Most of my time has been spent trying to figure out how to make Brakkenwood more profitable. To that end I sought opportunities to work for other established photographers in the Twin Cities. However, during my search I found an opening at Lifetouch Church Directories for a photogrpaher/sales associate. I didn’t know much about Lifetouch before I found the position and after a phone interview with my potential boss I learned a job with LCD would be a good chance to polish those skills I would need as an independent photographer. Long story short, I got the job and this week will start shadowing a field crew on-assignment.
As mentioned in a previous post, Sarah and I upgraded to Adobe CS 6 and added Lightroom 4 to the bundle. After the install I found a workshop for Lightroom at the Mpls Photo Center. The two-day class was shorter than I would have liked, but our instructor went over most of the awesome features Lightroom has to offer. If anything the program will help me organize my images. Lightroom allows me to easily modify metadata on multiple pictures at once making it easier to search files my keyword. In addition nearly all of the ‘retouch’ functions needed to clean-up photographs are included in Lighroom so I’ll rarely have to use Photoshop again!
Sarah has been hard at work developing some products for Protene. She’s also put the finishing touches on a new website for the MN Lamb and Wool Producers Association. There have been a number of distractions though. Since we’re living so close to our parent’s homes we have travelled to visit them several times over the past few weeks. I’ve been scouting each of their properties for some landscape picture potential, but have yet to have inspiration strike. Once I get some good photos I’ll include them in the blog.
This week I notified my current employer of my plans to leave the East Coast. I’ve a few supervisors and I was concerned they would be upset with my decision to move-on. Thankfully they were very supportive, though it wasn’t clear on what action I should take towards distributing my current responsibilities. There are several colleagues I consider prime candidates for middle management, yet I don’t know if my employer plans to promote a single individual or just have random folks fill-in until a new hire can be found. For now I’ll simply assume they will re-distribute the burden until they find someone else to take over.
I figure our move date is near enough now I can begin to apply for some contract work in the Minneapolis area. Through various web resources I found a few gigs that appeal to my experience. N2 publishing is looking for photographers and field reporters to add content to their community newsletters and magazines. Their promotional video sells them as a community strengthening publication; an effort I would be happy to support. I was exited to see an opening at Wilson Leather for a product photographer. A temp-job, but a perfect way to get more experience in commercial photography. Based on the description I’m quite confident I would be able to handle their workload with other Brakkenwood endeavours. Similarly, Gladson was also looking for a product photographer. They seem more of a nationally spread company, but like Wilson I could likely keep them as a client while pursuing other work. It’s only been a few days, but hopefully I’ll hear back from someone soon.
Our apartment is a disaster! Only about a month to go before the move and we’ve started packing. I made a point to keep many of the premier boxes from our last move, but I’ve been collecting as many empty boxes as I can get my hands on. Never understood why anyone would purchase boxes when you can use recycled ones from commercial retailers. They don’t call them ‘big box’ stores for nothing! After shelves are stocked there are always huge piles of boxes they typically toss out. Regardless, all our rooms have boxes lines up along the wall with packed goods. I’d say at least a quarter of everything we own is ready to move.
Sarah had a meeting with Protene VIPs on Friday. They are one of our first solid customers and we were concerned they would be put-off by us leaving Virginia. Thankfully we live in an age where technology surpasses the problems created by distance. Remote meeting software allows us to share computer desktops with clients and quality webcams grant face-to-face meetings regardless of where we’re based. Not only was Protene eager to continue our business relationship, but Sarah got several more projects to keep her busy these next few weeks!
Sarah has done an outstanding job remodeling the Brakkenwood website. After committing to pursue freelance work full-time, she’s been pumping out all kinds of new designs.
I continue to work for my current employer in Richmond, VA, but am already eagerly awaiting our move to the Midwest. In preparation, I’ve decided to enroll in the American Society of Media Photographers. Seems the Twin Cities ASMP chapter is having a meet-and-greet BBQ around the same time we move. It will be a good opportunity to network with some local professionals and get a better handle on the market. I’m not yet considered an independent photographer so I’ve signed up for the ‘Associate’ grade membership. That should grant me access to much of the business resources that will really help as we settle-in.
The beginning of 2012 brought an evolution for what was once Brakkenwood Photography. We restructured our business and became Brakkenwood Studios, transforming into a small design and photography studio. Sarah, the graphic designer of our team, had decided in mid-2011 to become a freelance designer. She gained a client which would end up keeping her very busy – even as the year turned over! After some serious consideration, Dave and Sarah chose to join forces and offer their services as a single, unified business under the new name. Our client eventually turned into multiple clients – although owned by the same businessman. So pleased were they with our work, that they brought us work through all of the other businesses that they owned.
Designs have been created from mere logos, and blossomed into business identities, marking ideas, website design and content management, as well as advertisements – both in print and on the web! We continue to work with Wilson Group Companies (and through them Protene, ANTG Research and Development, and ANCOS), Prairie Designs, several individuals, and will begin work with the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association this spring.
We are very excited to welcome you to our new website, which now houses samples of both our design, and our photographic portfolio images!