September 5th, 2018
I decided what better way to kick off getting back in routine with blogging than starting with this post. The G&A. I’ve collected from emails and messages a bunch of questions I get asked all the time and combined it with all your Q’s via Instagram’s new Q&A feature.
I’ll probably do these 2-3 times a year as more Q’s come in. Let’s dive in, shall we?
What kind of white floor did you use in your new studio? It looks gorgeous!
We actually painted the existing floor white! It was a bamboo dark wood floor and I didn’t want to invest in ripping it out and putting in white floors. Eventually one day when I’m not using that space as a ‘studio’ we’ll get new floors then but that’s a long ways away! I’ll get more details from Ko on specific paint we used etc. and include that when we do the reveal post.
You have so much beautiful decor – what are you favourite places to shop?
Thank you! I love decor but it can get really expensive some of my budget friendly favourites are: Ikea Canada, Chapters / Indigo, Homesense, Canadian Tire, Michaels (especially for outdoors and Christmas decor!), Wayfair (online), Structube (we actually want to get some Sofa’s from them for our new place). I know I’m forgetting some but I like finding things that are inexpensive that I can swap out season to season.
Best place to buy frames from?
This may be the most asked Q I get. I’d say 80% of the frames in our home are from Michaels – they fit my prints perfectly. The rest are from Ikea (especially the square sizes) and I do have a few I had custom from a local framer. We are working on getting framing available on our shop.
I love your desk and shelving – how do you keep it so clean?
If you could only see it right now! Haha they are definitely not always clean especially my desk. It gets messy just like everyones does but I do usually tidy up every 2-3 days so I can function and focus better. My shelves once they are styled stay put – when I’m doing shootings things will get messy and everywhere and I usually have to put on music or a podcast and just commit to 30min of putting everything back in it’s place.
What colour are your kitchen cabinets?
We went back and forth so many times. I had another one I liked but Ko and my close peeps pushed my towards Athabasca by Benjamin moore and I’m SO happy they did! It’s the perfect blue not too vibrant – its subtle and I know we won’t get sick of it!
Where is your message board from you post in your photos?
Where are you nightstands from in your bedroom?
I think Ko had bought them from Lazy boy or Lowes when he first moved into the condo almost a decade ago! lol Two years ago when I was preggo with J I asked him to bring home a roller and white paint and I went to town giving them a little face lift. (I love painting lol)
Are you releasing any new print collection?
Yes! I had a few in the works which were put on hold once I got pregnant (I was really ill for the first two trimesters) now that I’m better I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off and already have shooting schedules laid out for the rest of this year / next year. I’m really excited about whats to come. In two weeks are are re-launching our print packs!
Do you still do photos for other people? (Personal Branding Etc.) or is your main focus your blog and print shop?
Yes I do but not booking anyone new at the moment! I will be opening up some spots in 2019 once bebe #2 arrives. I don’t think there will ever be a day where I don’t book personal branding clients and portrait clients – it’s something I’m deeply passionate about and what I love to do. I have an idea of how I’d like to re-frame the branding packages and looking forward to kicking that off once my schedule allows me to shoot again.
It was during out trip last September to Greece when one night after we put J to bed I wrote out on papers all my goals / projects for each of my businesses (Portraits / Personal Branding, The Shop, The Blog + other things I wanted to explore like starting a podcast). I laid them ALL out on the floor and the solution was really clear to me. If I was going to make motherhood + being a business owner work I had to take breaks and focus on different parts of my business at a time. Ko and I stayed up pretty late talking about this, it’s something he’s suggest I do many times and something I know I needed to do but was too stubborn to implement. Right now my main focus is my shop then blog.
Did you study a photography career or was it from practice?
I did not study photography – I went to the Toronto Film School and wanted to be a producer for the longest time. I worked in a few TV jobs around the city and was lucky to get one that allowed me to travel to film festivals around the world. It was during those trips where my love of photography took off and thats when I stated my blog to share all my photos. Slowly from there the Annawithlove Brand grew.
In the early days I would be watching Creative Live 24/7 buying as many courses as I could. Seriously guys, I would watch the videos till 2-3am and then go to work the next day! Then on weekends try to put what I learned into practice. If I wanted to learn how to do something I’d google until I found the answer and watch as many youtube videos as I could. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort you can learn anything you want (free) online. How amazing is that?!
How long did it take you to figure out your photographic style?
I would say about 2 years. With every photoshoot I did, every collection I launched for the shop, I would naturally get closer and closer to my “style” – it wasn’t a conscious thing though – the opposite very unconscious. It wasn’t until I took a step back to create my website that I realized the common threads and use of colours I would naturally be drawn to. I don’t like to put myself in a box so I do like to experiment still and find new ways to do things. I get bored fast when things are too the same for too long. I think it’s really important to always have creative work and passion projects on the side. Lately I’ve been loving doing more creative family photos. Always have something that will keep you moving forward.
What equipment do you use? Camera / Tripod Recommendations
Canon MK III
50mm 1.2 Lens
24-70mm 2.8 (favourite and one that usually stays on my camera)
I love my ONA camera bags as well. Funny fact: Ko and I have nicknames for all my gear lol started when we were traveling and I kept asking him to hand me lenses and had to explain which was what lol he loves naming everything now.
I also recently purchased the new Sony A7rII and loving it as a secondary camera.
Re: Tripods – guys you know I hate tripods and haven’t found one I *love* yet so visit your local camera store and play around with whatever feels most comfortable for you – when I find one I love I will definitely share it.
How do you like your new Sony?
I’m a bit obsessed. I love that it’s lighter and smaller than my canon making it a LOT easier to carry around especially when creating content for the blog + social media. I’m still learning it (coming from Canon my entire life its an adjustment). I know I’ll always use my MK for larger projects for the shop / client work but I love the Sony and would highly recommend it.
Best beginner camera?
This is a hard question for me to answer because I’m not the most tech savvy photographer. My philosophy has always been the best camera you can use is the one you have. I can only speak to my first camera that I learned on which was the Canon Rebel (t4i I believe) – the entire Rebel series is a great place to start – I loved learning on it and I had the kit lens.
Affordable resources for photographers?
Creative Live + YouTube – go binge watch and put into practice what you’re learning 🙂
How did you get so great at photography?
First – thank you so much! The answer: practice practice and more practice! That’s the secret (truthfully) – theres no quick way to learn. With every shoot I did I got better and a little better I learned something new – how to trouble shoot another lighting problem and how to work around and go to plan B when my initial ideas weren’t working on the fly. Nothing trumps hours put into your craft.
Any tips for beginners?
This is a good Q! And one I could talk for an hour on. The biggest piece of advice I would say is to collaborate as much as possible! Work for free strategically (my first year in my photography business I think I need equal paid shoots to free shoots) to build my folio and build my network of people. Find your tribe and stick by them, support them and grow together! When you do reach out to collaborate make it about what you can offer the other person vs. what you want to take from them. If your intentions are about helping it will always come back to you 10 fold!
What is my favourite part about photography?
How it can transport you back to a time and place. As I write this I’m looking at my gallery wall of travel photos in my office. I love staring out into these photographs and feeling at ease. I love looking back at old family photos and feeling transported back to a beautiful memory. The photographs I take of my family are my most treasured possessions. Photography is a gift, that’s what I love most about it.
Social Media / Blogging
How do you balance being a mommy and a business owner? We’re family planning right now.
I feel like I’m still working on this everyday and tweaking non-stop. I don’t think that will ever change or that I’ll ever feel like I have a good handle on the mystical “balance”. I’ve learned the most through making mistakes. Some weeks I didn’t work enough – things fell through because I didn’t reply in time and I learned okay lets not do that again. Other times I worked too much and missed J and felt so frustrated and off – I would look at Ko and say I can’t do that again. I know that if I have a long work day than that night my phone is off and I’m with my family, the next morning even if I have a ‘work’ day I’ll stretch out my morning with J more to enjoy him. That’s the only way I feel ‘balanced’ but it does feel like there’s never enough time in a day and in this season of growing our family some business and work goals will just be reached a little slower – and thats okay!
Getting really focused on ONE goal and trying to silence all the other shiny things you feel you “should” be doing has also helped. Right now I keep reminding myself to focus on my long term goal vs. short term gain – its hard sometimes! I do have a BP coming about my work schedule from when J was born to now b/c its been so highly requested. I’m sure once bebe girl arrives we are going to have to re-work and re-learn all over again what works best for us. I will say PLAN for help. I was so stubborn when J was first born and was scared and shy to ask for help. I learned quickly that wasn’t going to cut it so have things in place to help you if you can. Cleaning help, cooking help, help form friends and family etc.
How do you get sponsored products / deals? Do they contact you or you contact them?
I get contacted by the brands PR team or the PR team who represents them. I’ll be honest I turn down and say no a lot more than I say yes to at this point. They will approach me about the deal, the product and then we go back and forth on the creative etc. I only like partnering with brands I’m already using and loving and spending my own money on usually for years – brands that are a natural good fit to my brand (ie: Canadian Tire, Command Brand, Indigo etc.). I haven’t yet reached out to a brand to get a sponsorship with them though I know this this happens – I do believe in making things happen for yourself so if you want to work with a brand I would recommend reaching out and see how you can collaborate together! I have reached out to brands for collaborating but this is usually trade for product not monetary compensation. I did fall into this ‘influencer’ (I really don’t like that word and feel uncomfortable using it haha) world bit by accident since I always had my other businesses – I’m so grateful to the brands that do want to partner and they have always been so wonderful at letting me be as creative as want. I like using my sponsored posts as a way to give value or be creative to make something interesting for my audience to see.
What do you do with all the free items you get?
A few things, I’ll keep some that I know I want to try or already use or want to test/review for the blog. Then, whatever is left I will give to friends and family. If the packaging is secure and closed for sanitary reasons then I will donate or keep for giveaways for all of you guys. I like to test out the products I get sent and will usually talk about them after I’ve tried them and liked them.
How much time do you spend creating Instagram content?
As of lately not nearly as much as I used to. I like to have themed work days. I’ll have an idea for something to shoot for Instagram and then schedule it when it makes sense. The shoot itself us usually 20-30min and then editing sometimes takes longer when its a creative photo. A photo of my desk will be 20 min take it edit it and done. Each photo is different! In a perfect world I like to be about a week ahead. I’ll shoot this week stuff for next week and leave 1-2 spots for in the moment posts. My feed is pretty curated – I love IG stories for being more on the fly giving and raw and unfiltered look into life.
Are you still doing the Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free diet while preggo? How is it working out?
I really really wish I was but I’m not. As soon as I got pregnant and the nausea kicked in around week 5 all I wanted was carbs (pasta, bread, cheese). I can’t wait to go back to it but will likely be after the bebe arrives b/c I still get queasy and sick sometimes and I’m running to the bread. If it wasn’t for the pregnancy sickness I would still be on it b/c I realized how much it helped me with my breathing and overall health. I went on a gluten dairy free diet after seeing a nutritionist – my body was producing a lot of phlegm and it got so bad that my throat was all cut and I could barely swallow or speak so I knew something had to be done. There were SO many other amazing benefits from getting on this diet – I’ll address it once I’m back on because it was really life changing.
Why did you wait so long to colour your hair? (lol)
When I was little my mom never let me (I’m so thankful she did this!) throughout my teenage years I just loved my hair color, in the summer I had natural hi-lights that would come out and I just never bothered with it. I get two hair cuts a year – very low maintenance the thought of having to go every few months to upkeep coloured hair never was appealing for me (I really don’t like sitting for long periods of time, I even hated mani’s and pedi’s until I realized I could listen to a good podcast while getting it done!). I recently got some bayalage done form my long time friend Manny – we’ve known each other since we were 14 maybe even younger (follow him: @manoloextendo) he’s the only one I would trust to do my hair and he also knows how low maintenance I like to keep my hair.
What part of Greece are both your parents from?
My mom is from the North (Kavala) and my father is from the south (Sparti) but they were actually both born in Toronto!
What’s your favourite Greek food?
How can I pick just one? I love “pastichio” which is kind of like lasagna I guess?
What’s your favourite skincare brand?
My skin is super sensitive so I’m picky when it comes to skincare brands. My favourite are:
Dermalogica, Kiehls, Darphin, SK-II (the toner and masks are worth every penny), TULA
Any more Q’s? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below and I’ll keep them on file for when I do another round up like this! Hope you guys enjoyed that.
XO – Anna