Where in the World is… your SSMP Bag?

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If you have been a client of SSMP in the last year, then you probably have received one of the cutest little totes around (If you didn’t, let me know and I will do my best to get one to you)! Summer is a great time to rest and recuperate and often adventuring happens both locally and across the globe.

I would love to see your photos of where you have taken your tote. And so, I am creating a photo competition. Send me a picture of your tote in a cool (or unique) location and it will be entered in a facebook competition in which you could win a really cool prize!

To enter: Send your photo to me on facebook or via email and your photo will be put into a facebook competition. The person with the most “votes” will win a prize.

Rising Tide Society . Tuesdays Together – St. Louis {3rd Birthday}

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There are few places I feel completely free to share those crazy business ideas. Few places I can really share my fears in business. My Tuesday Together group is the place to share these things. It is also the place in which we cheer each other on and the place that there are zero egos. No one is better or ‘further’ than the other. And this is exactly what “Community over Competition” looks like. I have mentioned my love for RTS so many times and to learn more you can see here, here and here.

With the incredible leadership of current and past leaders our group celebrated it’s 3rd Birthday and we had to throw a party!

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One of the areas we wanted to showcase was our different members doing their craft.

And we had to toast current and past leaders, but most importantly celebrate the dedicated members that attend each week and bring forth their fears, questions and successes.

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If you are reading this for the first time and are at all curious about this wonderful group, just ask! I promise you that this can change your business and how you network – if you let it! And we know how to have fun!

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We also had a bit of fun with some headshots! Thank you beautiful women for investing in my life and I hope that our group continues to grow in wisdom and joy.

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Calligraphy – Leah Strickman (Letters by Leah) and Emma Vonder Haar
Other fantastic Creatives: Brittnay Sarhage (Rudy’s Flower Truck), Abby Wilhelm (Simply Gracious Photography), Marcelle Calder (Marcelle Calder Art), Sydney Radetic (Filmmaker), and Sandra Grunzinger (Grunzinger Photo)

2018 Books {personal + business}

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I am officially done with grad school and so I want to dig in to a long list of incredible business and personal books. My past three years have been filled with not so fun accounting, marketing, and analytics books, however, I have made sure to fill my amazon cart with books that I think would be great for personal and professional growth. And I am so excited to dig into a few on my many trips this summer!

So here is my list of books for my post grad school indulgence:

  • The E – Myth Revisited – Because I have to throw in a few business books to keep my mind sharp!
  • The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners – I’ve realized that I need to change my mind on how I view food and Keto has been a great option. This book has easy recipes even for the worst of cooks!
  • A Simplified Life – To state that I’m atrocious at organization, might be an understatement. However, I’ve made a ton of strides to get better at it and am excited to dig deeper into this book.
  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up – Because of my issue above.
  • Miracle Morning – Long story short, I usually pick books that have titles that force me to become a better person and this one is no different. I love sleep and particularly sleeping in. This book is bound to push me to having productive mornings.
  • Univited – So here in lies some of my introvert showing. So often we feel left out or less than. This book sheds some light on the issue and I know it will grow me in big ways.
  • The 4 Hour Work Week – I’m all about working smarter and not harder. As my life will continue to get busier with life plans, I want to remain just as effective.
  • Make it Happen – Motivation is tricky when you are an entrepreneur and I try to surround myself with text that is uplifting and motivating.

I’d love to hear which books are on your list for summer reading! I’m lousy and picking out fiction books (I always lean toward practicality), so if you have some good suggestions, please leave them in the comments section!

Sarah Marie, MBA {Personal}

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I might have alluded to some of my clients that for the past 3 years I have been chipping away at a higher degree – an MBA (Masters of Business Administration).

Two weeks ago, I had the honor to walk across the stage and receive my degree. There is something so exciting about accomplishing a life goal – especially when it has been in the works for 3 years.

As my clients, I want to thank you for your patience. I strive to be timely and over deliver, but sometimes life gets in the way. So thank you so much for your understanding and kindness!

I am excited for what this degree means to Sweet Sarah Marie Photography. It has allowed me to institute stronger business practices and marketing plans. It has given me the confidence to wish new plans into the world, (like co-leading the St. Louis chapter of the Rising Tide Society and maybe one day teaching business classes!)

Thank you to a wonderful school – Missouri Baptist University – and also their communications team for taking incredible photos of this event!

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6 Winter Best Buys from Amazon {series}

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I’m fairly certain that Amazon prime has taken over my life at times. The convenience is overwhelmingly amazing, but sometimes I want someone to tell me that “wow this product is incredible” so this is me telling you the items that have rocked my winter.

CD organizer : I got rid of all of my dvd cases and pared down to this tiny guy. I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it looks on my shelf and how much space I got back. Mind you, I don’t usually put on a movie this days, so I can’t speak to those who would get into this organizer often.

Mario Bedescu Face Spray : I saw this face spray on some list that had amazon items that people are crazy about. And after buying and trying it, I’m joining the crazy train. It is so refreshing and I use it after my shower and before bed. It can also be used as a makeup setting spray, but I’m not that fancy.

Frother : While I know nothing about frothing, I love this little guy for making my evening dessert. I decided to try a keto diet in December and the one thing you can’t have is sugar. So each night I mix up a sugar-free jello and heavy cream dessert and it could not happen without this little frother.

Humidifier : I don’t own this specific one, but I have kept a humidifier going this winter and boy do I notice a difference. This one is cute and perfect for small spaces.

-Dry Shampoo : This is a game changer! I’ve never really used dry shampoo because I couldn’t find one I loved. But this one smells so amazing. Like I want to use it everyday on my hair just because it smells good.

Floral Floor Length Dress : Want to wear socially acceptable pajamas to work? This dress is perfect if you have that mentality. I’ve received a ton of compliments on it. Which I was a little leery about as I’m typically a black and grey clothes wearer. But if you want to spruce up your winter/spring wardrobe and be complimented, grab this dress.

What did you buy recently that you are loving?

Spring Travel Dates {business}

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One of the goals I had for my 30th year was to travel. I want to see 3 new cities this year and this spring I will have the honor to get 2 of the 3 done!

While I travel, I love the opportunity to connect with locals and photograph their family/couple sessions. it is thrilling to find the cool photo spots in new locations.

If you have family in Chicago, Michigan (specifically near Kalamazoo or Gaylord), Indianapolis or South Padre Island, let them know I will be in the area as I would love to connect with them.

One of the best parts of these sessions is that they are discounted… up to $75 off a session!

Also… if you love these locations and have suggestions on places for me to visit – food or fun – let me know by leaving your tips in the comments!

Most popular posts from 2017 {recap}

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Hello Lovelies!

I always enjoy seeing which posts you click on the most. Here is a list of last years most loved blog posts:

  1. Top St. Louis Photo Locations
  2. Birth, Bravery, and Giveaway
  3. 30 & Fabulous Cake Smash
  4. Big News for 2017
  5. Ben & Chelsie – Christmas Proposal
  6. Rising Tide Society – Co leader
  7. Laura & Jared . Engaged
  8. Creve Coeur Camera Photopalooza
  9. Celebrating Sister
  10. Siddens Twins . Newborn

I am so thankful that many of these top posts are personal posts. It makes me want to tear up and exclaim, “They like me, they really like me.” So thank you for investing in my life and helping me celebrate other families in their lives.

Why Do Business Owners need a headshot? {business}

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Creative Entrepreneurs often feel like they are hustling alone. Day in and out, writing emails and sending invoices. Yes, there is time to hone your craft, but it seems like most of the time spent is on the business side of their small business and not the creative side.

As a small business myself, I get you, friend. And I want to hustle along side of you.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a friend of mine, Libby. I met Libby in college and as our lives changed after college we both started small businesses. Myself, with Sweet Sarah Marie Photography and Libby with Confections by Libby. The incredible desserts that are coming out of her kitchen are spectacular. I was so excited to collaborate with her multiple times and provide some of her desserts for my clients. (If you have tried some of Libby’s desserts, show her some love in the comments!)

I wanted to encourage her and spend some time with this rad lady so I suggested a lifestyle shoot that would help gain some stock photos for her business. And boy, was I blessed.

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Being able to be creative with a fellow creative was so natural. Both of us trusted each others expertise and bounced ideas along with desires off of each other.

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Libby shared a few words with me about our experience:

“Working with Sarah helped open my eyes to what branding and professional photography could really do for my small business. I initially communicated to Sarah the basic visual identity of my business from my perspective, and she took that concept and perfectly captured it in her photography.”

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One of the best times, I believe, to book a session is right before you are about to do a big push. This push could be for a new service, new product, or new presentation that you are now offering. Libby was prepping for her Valentines day push where she created these delectable cupcake bouquets. She so graciously sent this home with me, and friends, if you order this – I promise you that you will put a smile on your face or a loved ones face.

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I mentioned that the bouncing ideas off of each other was so beneficial for the both of us, and when I mentioned getting a bit messy, Libby was immediately on board. Doesn’t she look so adorable with a bit of flour on her beautiful face. I’m sure this is exactly how she looks when she is in the middle of an all day baking session.

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After the session, Libby had some time to reflect and these are some of the kind words she said:

” The photos that Sarah took give me another way to share my brand with others in a clear and beautiful way. I would strongly urge any small business owner to consider investing in lifestyle headshots and product photos with a photographer like Sarah. Having professional photography to share with potential clients not only communicates that you take your business seriously, it shows others the attention to detail that you put into your craft. Thanks Sarah!”

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Word of the Year {Personal + Business}

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There are lots of posts going around in which people are choosing their word for the year. This big picture philosophical concept is incredibly difficult for me to understand. See I’m a small detail practical person. I like making steps and sub steps to meet a goal. I prefer breaking things down and am immediately turned off when I hear people discussing lofty ideas and concepts. But I know I need to grow and expand my preferences. So I jumped on the train.

My 2018 word is : Flourish

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Originally, I was between the words flourish and bloom. So I looked both of the words up, and when I read flourish and specifically the part of “especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment” I knew that had to be the perfect word. I have made huge changes over the past year (see some of them in this post) with the concept of creating a favorable environment. I am so excited to embrace the word to “grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way”.  (BTW, the photo above I blew up and put on my living room wall- got to have those visual reminders!)

As I said above, I am a wildly practical person so here is a brief list on how I want to embrace the concept of flourishing:

Personally

  • Building deeper friendships – this is so essential as I am an introvert to the core.
  • Finishing my Masters – that’s right, friends, I will officially have my MBA in May!!!
  • Church Community – that introvert in me always pushes against me in making new friends but this past year has taught me that your community is what keeps you going.
  • Experiencing Life – this means creating a list of places I want to go and actually going, even if I have to do it alone.
  • Family time – I am a time person and I have loved growing closer to my family this past year and plan on doing more of it this year (hear that mom and dad- be expecting me over more weekends this summer!)
  • Organization – I am lousy at organizing things- I am an expert in organizing people and events- but things baffle me. So I am learning and plan on growing in this area.
  • Health – I’ve really taken my health for granted and over this past year have had a few health scares. This makes me realize that God has given me one body and I need to take better care of it.

In Business –

  • Blogging – Sharing stories visually is what I do, and I must get better and blogging regularly (at least two times a week).
  • Knowing the client – Honeybook (Client Management System) has been stellar for me this past year at organizing client documents, payment and communication. However, it also has the ability to send surveys so that I understand exactly what each client is looking for in their session. I plan on creating more so that I know more about the person/family before I go into the session.
  • Collaboration – There are so many cool businesses out there that I want to work with. If you are one of them, send me an email and lets create something spectacular!
  • Specialization – I’ve loved photographing a variety of types of sessions and events, but I am passionate about families and high school seniors. I still love newborns, couples, and weddings but feel much more in sweet spot with families and seniors.

2018 will be wildly exciting as I already have great plans in the works including seeing Hamilton (insert all of the heart eyes) and going to the RESET conference. Now I want to hear about your word! What word do you want to represent your year- tell me all about it in the comments below!

2017 Christmas Gift Guide for the Photographer in your life {photo tips}

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The mom-tog (or dad-tog):

-Photographer Assistant Onesie – $
This is the sweetest little onesie for your favorite little model and assistant.
– Easy and portable pop up studio $$
If you are looking into product photography a portable light box is incredibly helpful.
-Shutter Hugger $
Getting kids to look at the camera can be tricky, but these are a huge help and I often use the Dalmatian.
Artifact Uprising gift card $-$$$
This is perfect for the parent who loves a modern look and to print their photos!

The rugged photographer:

Cell phone Waterproof Dry Bag $
The worst thing is to ruin your phone due to water, I love this one because you can still use it through the bag.
-Fingerless Gloves $
Warm and cute is a hard combo to find, but these gloves are great for those winter outdoor adventures.
Bendable Tripod $
I literally just ordered this one for myself and am excited to possibly actualy be in some of my family photos this year! It is also great to get those selfies with incredible outdoor backgrounds.
Camera Rain Shell $$
This protective shell is great to throw in a backpack and takes up little space.
Drone $$$
This might be the bad mamma jamma of drones, even I think it is pretty.

The super girly photographer:

-Stay Focused Wall Print $
Beautiful and encouraging is the perfect combo for wall art.
-Cute Photography Slouchy T-shirt $-$$

I’m pretty sure I love all of these options. The funny and very true phrases are exactly how I feel most of the time.
Stunning Camera Strap $$
Love how a camera strap can become a beautiful accessory.
-House of Flynn Camera bag – $$$
I just got this for myself (see above) and I can’t wait to show you all how much I love it.

The shutter happy grandma:

Camera Cookie Cutters $
Now these are just super cute and great for making cookies with those grandkids.
– Modern Children Photography book – $
This is a great book on how to get modern and natural photos with kiddos! I deeply appreciate all of the practical advice.
-Camera Planter $$
I know I put this in the ‘Grandma’ section, but I love this planter.
-The Cutest Camera Bookends – $$
This is another product that is super cute and perfect for any camera lover.

Price Key:
$- less than $25
$$- $25-$100
$$$- Over $100