Sweet Braided Blueberry Pie

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The blueberry madness continues! I’ve been prepping on my baking game so come fall I’ll be all set to go! Have you started?? I’m not as quite caught up as I would like to be but soon I’ll be getting my butt into gear. For this week's treat tuesday, I started with this really simple sweet blueberry pie.

Sweet Braided Blueberry Pie

Prep time:  5 mins Cook time:  40 mins Total time:  45 mins

What You'll Need:

4 Cups Frozen Blueberries
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
4 Tbsp Flour
1 Cup of Sugar
2Tbsp Corn Starch
Pre-made pie crust


In a bowl pour in all ingredients for filling. Mix together and spread out evenly into your pie crust in pan. Bake in Oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and then it's done!

Sprinkle flour into a small area. Then take a pizza cutter and roll out small straight strips. Take the top of all three and press together and continue to braid until the whole circle is made!



Blueberry Lemon Loaf & Glaze Recipe

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The moment is finally here everyone, blueberry season! We wait all year long for these beautiful things! I know it's been crazy out here with the California heat but I since I love these little blue gems so much, I couldn't resist turning my oven on! This recipe is so super, super easy that even I didn’t mess up so even the worst baker can make this happen! Follow the recipe below and good luck!

Blueberry Lemon Loaf & Glaze

What You'll Need:

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)
1 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Lemon glaze
2 Tablespons butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Handful of blueberries crushed/minced


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You can use either loaf pan or cupcake pans
In a bowl whisk flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.
In another bowl mix melted butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
While slowly mixing add flour mixture and milk.
Rinse off blueberries if fresh, and toss in a small bowl with 1 tsp flour. Keeps the berries from falling to the bottom.
Add berries to the batter & mix
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.
Prepare glaze in a separate bowl, while letting the loaf to cool off before pouring the glaze on!



Inspirational Quotes to MOTIVATE you through ANY season.

Thursday, August 2, 2018


I decided to take a mini hiatus from blogging post miscarriage, because honestly, I thought I was done healing but I wasn't. I thought I could sweep how I felt under the rug, pop some Zoloft, stamp some bible scriptures on my wounds and be on my merry way to self improvement but that wasn't genuine.

I fell into a bit of a bitterness ditch. I started straying away from God, further then I ever have because I felt mostly betrayed by "His" people. As a result, we stopped going to church because I kept having anxiety attack after anxiety attack thinking about my miscarriage along with the lack of support we had from our "circles" and all of the idiot comments I had received as a result. I didn't know who I could trust anymore especially after getting the cold shoulder from so many people we had reached out to.

Then my husband and I started having a rift. We kept seeming to argue about the same things and I ultimately blamed Steven for the pain I was experiencing. I asked Him, "Do you even care about the babies that we lost? Do you not realize the pain that MY body endured and still deals with both physically and emotionally or are you just that stupid?"

I proceeded to then go on facebook like an upset highschooler, and let the "world" know how I felt, which in short was "mad as fuck". I was simply fed up with the front that most churches, the one I attended included, put up as if we are always there for eachother in need and singing hymns and holding hands when in reality, we play favorites and isolate others if they aren't doing what we think they should be which causes more of a rift in the church and community and doesn't help anyone. I was also hurt by some family on my side and my husband's side who shunned us out when we needed support the most and who didn't offer enough support when we truly needed it.

That's when my husband lovingly checked the shit out of me with the "you point the finger at everyone else for your problems but yourself. It's not that I don't agree with your sadness or your anger; what you're upset about is valid, but it's the energy you're putting out, in person and online. It's negative."

I'm so thankful that we have a relationship where we can be open and honest about our faults and each other's because He was simply correct. I had such a "fuck everyone" attitude brewing that I didn't even realize how much of a plank I had in my own eye snowballing down a hill, getting bigger and bigger, while trying to point out the spec in others.

So my husband and I had a talk and He asked me "can you pinpoint the main thing that's making you upset, and if so, what are you going to do about it to fix it?" I then realized that I was nothing more than lonely. I just lost a baby, the day after mother's day and here it is mid July and I'm still curled up under my blankets drinking tears for water, and I expected any other decent woman with a heart to already know that, but I never VOICED my continued pain to anyone; I just wallowed in it. I played victim and it only broke me apart more.

So I decided to be online less and mediate more. I'm currently on a meditation retreat that has been nothing short of amazing. The leaders here are kind and transparent. They cook all of our meals and teach us how to do it, as well as help us focus on healing while doing our meditation and yoga exercises. You have the choice to work out and do bible studies with those of your fellow religious beliefs if you so choose, and this morning during mediation hour, I came across three inspirational quotes that can motivate you through whatever season you are in. Right now my season is GROWTH and HEALING and you truly can't grow if you don't acknowledge that you need to change something either in your life, inside of you or both, and  you can't heal what you don't reveal.

This is an excerpt from a devotion I did this morning. We studied the book of Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, 3 men who refused to worship anything but God and as a result were thrown into a fiery furnace, but not burned! I couldn't help but thinking of how at times, we may not be thrown in a furnace per say but we definitely go through the fire of life and can carry around the stench of pain longer than when we should unless we choose to act. 


Everyone is walking their journeys, living their stories. IF we start to base our happiness off whether or not we have what others do we lose the gift of passion. We lose the thing that is given to each of us so uniquely and individually. You don’t know the true life trials someone on the other side of the squares goes through. You don’t know how much time and effort that person has made to make connections, networking and everything behind the scenes.


We can be inspired by others, attracted to their passions and creativity. Use that inspiration to fuel your passion, to fuel your own fire. You don’t HAVE to do things EXACTLY the same way as everyone else. Or even one person for that matter.


Lets concentrate on what WE need to do, and ways to keep us focused.

I’ve curated this list to start you on the right foot, 3 little quotes to serve as reminders that you are accountable to you, as is your success. Print these quotes, save them to your phone, or pin them to a board with others of your choice! Let them be your dibits in the road, the ones you drive over when you get too close to the lane beside you, reminding to stay focused and to stay in YOUR LANE.


To Our Angel Baby

Monday, June 11, 2018

Baby Houston,

It's been a month since your precious soul left my womb. Even though it wasn't confirmed until I went to the doctor 2 days later, I knew the moment it happened. Aside from the physical pain, my body simply felt different, like something was missing, with a subtle sadness like no other.

It's been hard for mommy. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't think about you. The first week afterwards was the toughest. Just seeing a baby or a kid was heart wrenching for me. It even came to a point where I needed time away from seeing your God-siblings and as a result of misunderstanding mommy's need for time to grieve, we lost having them in our lives as well. They would have loved you! They're so vibrant and animated as I imagined you would be.

I often dream of you and try to piece together what you may have looked like had you had lived. Since you were conceived in march, I imagine you would have been a december baby like your momma & grandfather, who would have loved you dearly. I wonder if you would have looked more like me or your father or both. I joke and tell your daddy that I think you were a boy because every time I dream of you, I am in the car with a baby in the back who I call by a male name that I desire to name my baby boy some day. You have my skin tone but I can't see your face ever in the dream. You have a big sister in the dream however, who is definitely your daddy's twin but talks a lot like your momma can at times! I used to cry waking up from that dream but now I can't wait to have it every single time I lay to sleep.

Life felt like a bad joke and depression hit your father and I like a heavy ass ton of bricks. Losing you has taught daddy and I who is truly in our corner of support and who is not so when God decides to give us your little brother or sister, we have a much tighter grip on who we allow into our circle of community. Losing you also taught mommy that forgiveness is necessary, and even though I spent most of this last month angry at God, angry at myself, and angry at the idiots who weren't there for mommy, so much anger and bitterness has dried up from mommy's heart. I have no energy left to be upset but can only focus on killing the BS in this world with kindness alone.

Your daddy & I decided that we wanted to honor your memories, especially after your sweet grandmother Lorraine potted a plant labeled "angel baby" next to one for our sweet dog Mercy we lost shortly after you. You would have loved her.

So here is our way of honoring you my sweet love. We decided to take pictures to express our sadness for losing you but to also show the joy we feel knowing you are in no pain. Daddy was the photographer and for the first time in a while I got to be on the other side of the camera. Strangely enough, you have given mommy a new confidence and taught me the lesson of how important it is to love on myself. Going shopping was interesting. I found this dress with flowers that I knew would be a perfect representation of you, precious and beautiful I loved how it was a little big on me because since losing you mommy has lost a lot of weight. When I tried the dress on in the fitting room I rubbed my flatter, no longer swollen belly and stared at my slimmer face in the mirror accepting the fact that my body is no longer housing you.

Some photos you'll see of me in the street. After losing you I wanted to take my own life several times. Mommy was tired, dealing with post partum with no baby to hold in her arms and felt so low. I blamed myself over and over for your death, saying it was my fault and started saying to myself  "If I can just get hit by a car" as a means to end my life but thankfully I didn't. Your daddy and I have such an amazing relationship that when I mentioned casually in conversation that I wished I was no longer here, he grabbed your grandparents and they did everything in their power to let me know I was still needed here on this earth. I still have a long ways to go, but thankfully I'm able to type this letter because of them.

We used a withering eucalyptus bouquet to represent you leaving us but as you'll see, i'm holding them with a smile. I wore baby's breath in my hair because as you took your last one in my belly, you took your next one in heaven. You'll also see that mommy got a little emotional thinking about you but they were happy tears. You'll also see the silly faces mommy makes because I'm one huge goofball a majority of the time, and you can thank your father for those laughs :). What you won't see is the necklace mommy will be sporting that says "mommy to an angel" in memory of you and your sibling. As we miss you, I am grateful for the short time we had you. You have made our hearts softer and both of us so much stronger. These pictures are for you. We love you my sweet baby.

Til we meet in heaven.

- Love mommy

What I Didn’t Know About Miscarriage … Until I Had One.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Welcome to Karla Lorraine! I'm so glad you've stopped by! Make sure you never miss a post by subscribing via email. This post may contain affiliate links as we are under new sponsorship! we'll be sure to update and share our disclosure policy effective asap. 

I knew a few people who had experienced one or more miscarriages, but most of them never talked about it. I honestly didn’t know much about miscarriage — until I had one. 

We were scheduled to leave for Costa Rica when I found out I was miscarrying two days prior. My husband and I had no idea I was even losing our baby, let alone pregnant because I had felt fine!  It took us by surprise and we were extremely sad, but I think that since I was only 4 weeks at the time and we simply had no idea we had a bun in the oven, our minds went into a limbo state of shock. 

Once we got back from Costa Rica, and I had a pretty speedy physical recovery. We have always wanted to be parents and it hurt that we had just lost our first child together, but we were hopeful that once things settled for us we'd try again. Two months after being back, I started having serious health issues. I was being diagnosed with a potential stomach disease, acid reflux, costrocondritus, etc. It was insane. I went to the ER more than I went to work, and I was becoming exhausted. The entire time I panicked and wondered if I could in fact be pregnant. But every single test, both urine and blood via CVS and the doctors office were coming out negative! 

Towards the end of April, I needed a CT scan done because I was having some pretty bad abdominal and rib soreness, along with severe chest pains and nausea that wouldn't let up. My doctor wanted to rule out any other diseases since pregnancy wasn't coming up positive. I had to fast for two hours and drink nothing but water, and get injected with this blue liquid that makes you feel cold and then extremely hot internally. Once I went home from that test I felt off, my nausea became worse and my acid reflux wouldn't let me swallow food without having to drink something with it.

For the next couple of weeks I started learning to accept the pain I was in and when I started shift my focus on other things, it seemed as though the pain was subsiding. But once the weekend of mother's day came, I felt insanely sick. I started popping in dayquils and rubbing myself in thieves because I thought I was getting a cold. I took a nap that Saturday and remember waking up with such a huge appetite and in such a cold sweat that I had to sit in front of the AC for almost an hour and stuffed my face with the only thing my stomach would let me eat; crackers. 

Then that Monday, i woke up with cramps from hell. I went to the restroom and saw blood but wasn't sure if it was my period or if something else was wrong so I rushed myself to the doctor. He then confirmed that I was in fact miscarrying yet again, this time being almost 8 weeks. 

I was devastated. I felt like I had murdered our baby yet again. How could I be so stupid to assume I was pregnant this whole time and never be able to confirm I was until it was too late?

The pain was more severe this time as well. Because I was still so early in my pregnancy this time, I was still able to pass the fetus on my own, which I did that following thursday. But emotionally I was different and I was angry. 

There are so many things I didn’t realize, and I know there are others out there who have never experienced such a loss. I want people to have a better understanding of what happens and how the woman feels. I want it to be OK for me to talk about my experience, to be open about the heartbreak and the physical toll this miscarriage caused. Be warned — this post is real and raw and totally honest.

Things I Learned About Miscarriage After Having One

1. It’s a Process

I always assumed when a woman had a miscarriage it meant she started bleeding a lot, went to the hospital, found out she lost the baby, and that was it. I thought it was physcially all over within one day. Perhaps that is the case for some, but for me and for most everyone else I’ve talked to, it’s a process. Your body has to expel everything inside your uterus. This could take longer for those who are farther along in their pregnancy. This means a lot of bleeding and a lot of cramping. For some, their bodies can’t physically do it on their own. Some people have to take medicine that makes them bleed and cramp even worse. Others have to have a surgical procedure called a D&C. Some even experience labor. Each person’s experience is different, but just know if your friend just had a miscarriage most likely she is having a miscarriage and the process isn’t even over. Most women experience bleeding for at least a week.

2. Desire to Shower

You may think that bleeding and cramping is normal for a woman because she’s used to having a period every month. Please understand that this is not a period. I was surprised at how much I desperately wanted to shower sometimes. There was one day in particular where we were stuck at the hospital for much longer than we planned and all I wanted to do was shower. I was crying and telling Steven, “I just want to shower. Please let me shower.” It wasn’t because I wanted to look pretty or have my hair done. It was because I had been bleeding so much and that blood, to me, was my baby. That blood was the life I wouldn’t get to care for. I desperately wanted to shower to wash away the blood that was a constant reminder that I would not have someone calling me “mommy.”

3. Vaginal Ultrasounds

My idea of an ultrasound was what I had seen on TV and in movies my whole life. The nurse moves a wand around your belly while your husband holds your hand. You hear the heartbeat and see a little spec on a screen and everything is beautiful and magical and perfect. You cry in gratefulness of the miracle you can actually see and hear. This was not my experience at all. I had two ultrasounds with the wand on my belly, but neither one showed anything and it wasn’t because of the miscarriage. It was because my uterus is tilted, which is actually very common. This makes it very hard to see anything. Because of that I had four different vaginal ultrasounds. If you thought a pap smear was bad, sorry but this is worse. It is uncomfortable and even painful sometimes when they are moving that giant wand around inside you. These ultrasounds caused me to bleed and cramp even more than normal. You definitely don’t see any of that on TV!

4. Ultrasound Techs

No one told me during my first ultrasound that the technician is actually not allowed to tell me anything or give me any results. Having a silent ultrasound tech left me in tears. If the doctor or radiologist is the one doing the ultrasound, they can tell you what’s going on and what they are seeing. But if you have an ultrasound technician, they are legally not allowed to tell you about anything. It makes the whole thing very nerve-wrecking and scary. Please know if your ultrasound tech doesn’t say anything it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong.

5. Heightened Awareness of Pregnancy

One awful part of having a miscarriage is that you still have to keep going to the OBGYN for follow-ups until your HCG levels are completely down. This means sitting in a waiting room full of women with growing bellies while yours remains flat. I’ve never noticed so many pregnant women and newborn babies as I have since losing my babies. It can be hard to be around those who have what you lost, especially while you are still experiencing the miscarriage. We went to a Strawberry festival with my parents as we do every year, and when we walked by the kids section of fun and activities I broke down in tears. Personally, I’m just trying to steer clear of those triggers until I have time to process and grieve more. I know that it will get better with time.

6. Fear of Pregnancy

I’ve always thought of getting pregnant as such a joyful moment. Sharing the news, making plans, buying maternity clothes — it all sounds so wonderful. After losing my first baby, I feel like I’ve also lost the joy of pregnancy. I know that the next time I get pregnant, it will be a time of fear. I will be haunted by my loss and all the possibilities of what could happen. The excitement will still be there, I’m sure, but it will never be the same. I imagine it will feel like a race to hit week 20 — when your chances of miscarriage drastically decrease. My next pregnancy will definitely be a time of leaning on God and trying to trust Him.

7. Waiting to Share

I didn’t fully understand why people waited until week 12 to share their wonderful news. I understand much better now. The reason I would wait now is because if I did lose the baby, I would be able to share the news in my own time. It would hurt me so much to have just shared the good news with our families right before the miscarriage and have to turn around and immediately tell everyone the bad news. Do you realize how difficult it is to say out loud that you lost your baby? It makes it real. And the last thing you want is for it to be real. By waiting to share the good news, you are saving yourself the possibility of having to share the bad news before you’re ready.

8. It’s Common

As I was experiencing miscarriage in the hospitals, the doctors and nurses kept telling us how common it is. I knew it was common, but I didn’t realize how common. Since sharing the news of losing our baby, so many people have opened up with me about their own miscarriages. Even people in my own family have shared that they too have had one or more miscarriages — and I had no idea. I don’t understand why this is something that many people don’t talk about. Why suffer in silence all alone? There are so many women and couples who have been through this. Does that make it any easier? Definitely not. Do not tell a woman how common it is as a way to ease her pain. However, knowing others who have been where you are does help. You know you are not alone and can have others to talk to who truly understand.

9. Smile

Do not blame yourself as it isn't your fault. Smile knowing that you'll see your angel baby again. I just cry in Steven's arms, probably at least once a day and sometimes he'll cry in mine. But we both know these experiences were for a reason and when it's our time, we'll not only be able to hold each other, but our baby Houston as well.


How I Quit My Job to be a Full-time Photographer

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I know its been a minute since I've updated last. My health seemed to be taking a turn for the worst and I took the last month to meditate and focus on that as to which I have a few updates. I quit my day job as a administrative assistant/health educator, and decided to pursue photography full time. The even more exciting part to that is that my new business partner just so happens to be my husband. We both thought it'd be great to not only do life together but work as well, with me being the lead photographer and advertiser of our company and him handling all second shooter jobs and the data logistics. We officially launched on April 10th. You can follow our new photography site here: & stay updated with us via instagram at

In light of this new business venture, I thought I'd share 10 tips I followed that helped me quit my day job to pursue my passion full time. Please keep in mind that not everything in this post may be what’s right for you. One of the biggest lessons I continually have to face in being self-employed is figuring out what works for me and what I want versus what works for other successful self-employed artists whom I look to for inspiration. I don’t doubt that I have a wicked ton in common with y’all, but we may not value the same things, or live the same lifestyle. For example, Steven and I don't have a “Going Dutch” relationship, especially since being married for the last 5 months. Whatever the other person makes money wise belongs to both of us. This works for us. Whether or not you share in the same kinds of ideals is going to determine whether or not this ridiculously long post will be of any help to you.

1: Support Groups

— I’m going to go ahead and admit something here… I’m a pessimist. When I set out to quit my job I continually treated it as “an experiment.” I said to myself, I’m going to shoot for the stars, but I don’t want to fool myself on how long or hard it will be to get there. And then I made a “That’s what she said” joke because, let’s get real, I’m also a Michael Scott fan.

Steven, on the other hand, really is my biggest cheerleader. He tells me all the time that I’m never going to go back to a day job. He doesn’t say, “I don’t think…” or “You probably won’t…” He just says “You won’t.” This provides a huge and necessary balance for me, one that I realize I’m lucky to have. Whether or not I had the confidence and drive to go it alone, I TRULY BELIEVE THAT A GREAT DEAL OF MY SUCCESS IS OWED TO THOSE WHO HAVE SUPPORTED AND ENCOURAGED ME ALONG THE WAY.

But a good support system doesn’t always have to come from your spouse/partner or close family/friends. The people in my life totally rock, but sadly, not everyone is blessed with people who encourage them to follow their dreams. I recently joined up with a very small (but growing) community of photographers on Flickr. It’s our place to share thoughts, questions and get to know each other in a “snark-free zone.” Anyone can join, but it’s invite-only for discretion’s sake. We’ve just slapped together our first print exchange, and I can’t wait to see what other collaborations are on the horizon.

So there you have it: support groups. They’re not just for alcoholics! Find out who your biggest cheerleader is and listen to every word they say! And on the flip side of that, if there’s a Negative Nancy or two in your life, cut them out immediately. They’re doing you no good. Haters gonna hate; the rest of us are more than eager to cheer you on!

2: Be Money Smart

With the exception of a brief stint in junior college (Helloooo, my first financial aid check!) I have always applied this to my life, but it’s even more imperative now that I’m self-employed. Being frivolous with money just isn’t an option anymore. That’s not to say I don’t have fun, or go out to eat, or indulge in a $9 cocktail now-and-then, but I absolutely do not live beyond my means, I do not own any credit cards and I have never lived paycheck-to-paycheck. I’VE ALWAYS SAID THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE DISPOSABLE INCOME DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT MUST BE DISPOSED. Tuck it away and SAVE! You’re gonna need it.

If you’re bad with money, consider tracking your income and expenses. There are many programs and services to help you do this. I’m an uber geek and do it manually with Excel spreadsheets. I MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE A GENEROUS ESTIMATE OF WHAT I WILL BE PAYING IN TAXES so that I don’t fool myself into thinking I have more money than I really do. Accounting for taxes is one of the many pitfalls of being self-employed. To this day I still have friends who think I’m a millionaire because wedding photography is so expensive, but the sad truth is after it’s all said and done, the money we freelancers take home from a job is much less than you might think.

3: Number Crunch

This might seem like a no-brainer, but I spent a lot of time figuring out exactly what I need to survive. I gave myself leeway so I can still have fun, but tried to minimize unnecessary expenses. For months before I even put in my notice, I would make weekly lists of my expenses that were 100% necessary and decided I needed roughly $600/mo to live a tight but comfortable life. I made sure I had saved up at least enough money to cover my bases for 6 months, in case this “experiment” didn’t work out.

Obviously for a lot of people this is easier said than done, especially depending on what kind of city you live in. I come from a town where it’s nigh on impossible to get around without a car (I have more than one friend back home who has been egged or similarly harassed while on their bike!), and summers are so grueling they’re spent indoors watching TV and blasting the AC.

We are also on a mission to re-locate out of California hopefully within the next year which means cutting a lot out of our budget. For example, we don't pay for internet and we utilize one car primarily to save on maintenance fees and gas fees. We walk to all of our local grocery stores when necessary and even walk to the nearby mall when we have occasional movie dates. Thankfully at the moment we live less than 3 miles away from my husbands place of work so He can take the train there and back. Those are a few biggies right there that save us at least $200 a month. At least.

4: Cut Back

Instead of just outright quitting my job, I started reducing the amount of hours I was working so that I could hit the ground running once I was ready to put all my chips on the table. I went from full-time to part-time to the point where most of my coworkers weren't even sure if I still worked there anymore. I filled in the gaps with freelance jobs and waited until the energy spent on my day job was not worth the amount of money I was making.

It was hard to kiss that cushion goodbye. After all, aside from food and utilities, up until that point all the money I made from photography went straight into the bank. But I was positive that my time could be better spent, and it was because I had been consistently SAVING money that I felt safe enough to quit.

5: Network

As you might’ve already guessed, building friendships and networking will put you on the fast track to success. It is entirely possible to go it alone, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Paid advertising can only get you so far, but most people aren't going to overlook a beaming recommendation from a close friend or colleague.

Again, networking may seem like an obvious one, but I’m going to linger on it for a moment longer. I can't stress the importance enough of having like-minded friends who lead a creative life. Whether we just talk shop, or get more personal, it’s invaluable having friends who know where I’m coming from and understand the daily struggles of being an artist. We can swap stories, know-how and help each other out in a time of need. Need to borrow a flash? Need a second-shooter? Want to test-drive a lens before you buy it? I’m there for them, and vice versa. Extra points for those who live in the same city as me, because I gain a shooting buddy to boot!

One thing that truly humbled me was when my husband and I were getting married. Long story short I had a spat with the photographer who took our engagement photos and ended up not needing her for our big day. Fast forward to a couple months after being married, I reached out to her and apologized but also offered services to her as a second shooter. Thanks to her forgiving heart, she pulled me onto her team, and uses me tons for events and weddings.

You know how that old saying goes… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Well, I personally get over-the-moon with warm fuzzies anytime a referral lands in my inbox from a fellow talented colleague. There’s nothing I love more than getting the chance to bestow said warm fuzzies on another pal, too. So share the wealth — of warm fuzzies, that is.

6: Do stuff for free

Or don’t. I know there’s a lot of debate about this particular topic when it comes to emerging photography businesses, and this sort of doubles up with the Networking point, but I honestly believe that money isn’t everything and that sometimes, the most important thing you have to gain from working with someone isn’t how much they’re paying you.

Part of what being a photographer means to me, personally, is being a service to the people around me. I mean, let’s face it! I love taking pictures. Of course, paid sessions come first, after all, I have a business to maintain, but if someone throws an idea out at me and it sounds like fun? Chances are, I’ll say yes. After all, it's very likely that this person or someone they know might want to book a session in the future and if I never make that connection, i'll never get that referral.

Self-employment rides a lot on one’s ability to look far into the future. So break out your crystal ball and ask yourself, “Is this going to benefit me in the future? Could the exposure and networking I receive from this be equal to the money I might've spent on advertising?" Sometimes I like to throw in a “DOES THIS SOUND LIKE A BOATLOAD OF FUN?!” in for good measure. I like fun.

However! THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO LET PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU. There will always be people who will try to low-ball your livelihood, and that isn’t okay. As employee and owner of your business, it’s up to you to decide what’s worth it and what isn’t, and to be a good judge of character. YOU MAY NOT BOOK THAT PARTICULAR SESSION IF YOU REFUSE TO LOWER YOUR PRICE, BUT YOUR BUSINESS ISN’T GOING TO SURVIVE IN THE LONG RUN IF YOU ALWAYS BUCKLE TO FOLKS WHO DON’T VALUE WHAT YOU’RE WORTH, EITHER. Remember, it’s all about finding your ideal client. “Kim Smith-Miller was really easy to haggle with!” isn’t really the kind of reputation — or client — I’m after.

If you’re unsure, stick to doing favors for charities, local nonprofits or businesses/people that you personally would like to support.

7: Get your Business License 

This will require some homework on your state’s requirements (that’s where Steven enters the picture. I always like to joke that I’m going to buy him a plastic visor and oversized calculator), but AS SOON AS YOU BECOME LEGIT, YOU’LL BE ABLE TO WRITE-OFF EVERYTHING YOU BUY THAT BENEFITS YOUR BUSINESS. That includes new gear, advertising and travel fees, film (!) and so forth.

Once all the nitty gritty details were taken care of I set up business Paypal and checking accounts. This way, when it comes time to do taxes, it’s much easier to track where my money went and there aren’t any mix-ups with my personal debit card.

Depending on your state / living situation, you may even be able to write off a portion of your rent, too.

8: Use what you got

I drool as much as the next person over new gear, but I shot my very first wedding with Canon 1000D and a 50mm F/1.8 LENS and some of my favorite moments were captured that day. I continued to use that combo for another year, until I upgraded to a Canon 6D, and then I finally got legit at the beginning of 2017 and used that as an excuse to buy few more lenses.

I still don’t own a high-power zoom lens, but at this point I’ve become so accustomed to using what I’ve got that I don’t feel deprived or like I “need” them in order to accomplish a job. Would I love to own a 85mm f/1.2? Absolutely. But all in due time, and until then, I’m doing just fine.

The same goes for studio/office spaces. I would love to have a place where I could get out of the house, meet clients, or just edit photos somewhere that isn’t my couch. But it is such an unnecessary expense that would put me into such a tight spot and serve no more of a purpose than ooh-ing and ahh-ing my potential clients with what I have instead of what I do.

And, if you know me, you know that I’m not all that big on pretense. There’s nothing wrong with meeting clients at coffee shops, or editing photos from your couch. Just be sure to go for a walk every now and then. ;) Again, if a client doesn’t want to hire me based largely off the fact that I’m not covered in bling from head to toe, we probably weren’t a good fit to begin with.

9: Expand and Diversify

Expanding your services is a great way to keep business steady until you’re rich and famous enough to only do what you want. That’s not to say I take on clients or jobs that aren’t a good fit for me, but I try to think of what other areas of photography my skills or interests might work well in. Last year I took on a few food-and-drink gigs, and this summer I ended a 10-month run as a contributing photographer to FOODILY, all of which were pretty much born out of my obsession with taking photos of what I eat.

And then there’s your income which, in my humble opinion, if you’re self-employed it shouldn’t all be riding on one horse. The great thing about photography is that there are many different income generating avenues you can wander to maintain your business while building your brand.

10: Tools VS. Beacons

When I set out to become a full-time photographer, I didn’t have any dreams of becoming rich and famous. My love for this art runs deep, and I was tired of having to work a job I didn’t like in order to support myself and my passion. My time and money were spread thin. Now, my business serves to support me in my exploration of photography, and that’s all I ever really wanted in the first place. Having lavish amounts of money doesn't mean anything to me if I'm too focused on making bank instead of making photographs and being creative.

In short, I viewed money as a tool, not a beacon. I need money to pay my rent, eat and for my personal indulgence and education in photography. I don’t need money to be happy. As a result of this thinking, I’ve already accomplished my goal. Had I gone the other way, I don’t think there would be an end to the madness.

This is an area where you and I may not agree, and that’s okay. If your aim is to make pantloads of money, that’s great! Rock on. But I probably don’t have any helpful advice to give you. And if you made it all the way to the end here, only to realize that you were taking business advice from a stinkin’ hippy… Well, I’m sorry. :)

Once again, I want to wish each and every one of you a happy new year. I'm so incredibly thankful for everyone who has put their faith in me, my business and my art.

© Karla Lorraine