Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Product Spotlight: Senior Folio / Salem, OR Photographer

I've never been a fan of those cheap card stock senior folios used to display senior portraits. You know the ones with the gold lining? But after multiple clients asked what folios I offered I realized I had to find a higher quality product to offer them, and I did. :)

Made locally in Gresham these sleek leather folios offer a minimalistic, clean, sophisticated case for your senior's portraits (or any subject for that matter). The photo slots are customizable and they even offer imprinting. Comes with a beautiful black box to safely store and carry your folio.

Prices range from $105-$205 depending on size and the amount of photographs you want and include photographs. Imprinting costs an additional $45 but adds a personal touch.

Call today if you're interested, for a limited time I'm offering a 15% discount to any customer who mentions this post when ordering their folio. Offer ends April 14th 2010.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Austynn's Sneak Peek / Salem OR Newborn Photographer

Last Friday I got to meet sweet little Austynn who's a five-week-old darling girl. Enjoy this preview to next week's full post!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What You Should Know Before Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

Today's personal wedding entry is focused on searching for your ideal vendor, comparing one vendor's pricing and products to another's, and making your final selection. The pressure to find your best vendor can be very intimidating, I know I spent countless hours researching a location that was cute but within our little budget. It took way more time than I imagined, but in the end I was happy to know I had truly found the best location at a very reasonable price.

Isn't it so cute?!

Before I get lay out this process I have to say something very important. Choosing a vendor is so much more than who offers the best price and who has the the flashiest website. You're choosing someone who will not only supply a product that sets a tone for your wedding, you're choosing someone who you can rely on to be professional, timely, relaxed friendly, and courteous to you and your family. As a photographer I insist that a bride and groom schedule a free wedding consultation to meet me in person and be able to discuss my pricing, products, and style. This is very important that they get to know me as a person and I get to know them, which allows me to know what products and services to direct them to. When you leave the consultation you should see they have shown all the traits you find essential.

The last thing you need is to deal with a stressed unorganized vendor with bad people skills the day of your wedding. I can't say enough how important it is to sit down and talk face to face with vendors before making your final selection. It's easy these days with technology and social media to conduct all your communications through email, but anyone can sound friendly through in type. : ) You have to take the time to meet them in person and see if you like them not just because they have a good price and offer a nice product, but because you feel comfortable with them as a person.

Based on my experience, there are four stages to finding your wedding vendors.

1. First you begin your search for vendors, but how? Start by asking friends and family for recommendations, and see if there are any wedding professional in your circle of friends. You'll be amazed at how willing people are to offer their advice. There's almost nothing better than a good or bad referral to direct you to the right vendor, or away from the wrong one. Search online from Google Maps, search google with keywords such as wedding florist, Salem OR, look to wedding websites like and Portland Style Unveiled, and visit bridal shows. Gather a list of a few vendors in each category of need by bookmarking their websites, saving clippings from magazines, etc. I personally created folders for each vendor; florist, invitation, ect, for easy reference.

2. Your Second step is to begin contacting businesses to check their availability and learn about their pricing, packages, and products. In my opinion this is the hardest part as it involves a lot of back and forth through email or phone, and a bazillion pricing sheets and contracts to decipher. As you start getting responses you'll be able to weed out those that simply aren't available and those that either aren't in your price range or don't offer products you are interested in. Or you may even get a bad vibe or not seen the level of customer service you expect through your initial communication. I've always had a high expectation for customer service and wouldn't settle for anyone that fell below that. After you've done your research and narrowed down your options to a few in each category, you're ready for step three.

3. The Third part is fun because you get to meet the wedding vendors and interview them. Yes, you should talk with your vendors face to face, and come prepared with good questions. Do a little research beforehand to be educated in good questions to ask. Bring a pad and paper. Here you really get to know the personality and professionalism of your vendors. Better to find out their personality at a coffee shop 6 months before than the day of your wedding when there's no turning back!

4. In most cases after meeting your potential vendors you will have a solid list of favorites to choose from. All that's left to do is make your final selection and make things official by contacting them and making your deposits and signing contracts. One last tip is to read through all the contracts and make sure you understand what you're signing!

Here is a list of my top recommendations for wedding vendors as a bride and a wedding professional myself:

Wedding Planner
Luxe Event Productions : ) Owner Misty is the sweetest gal you'll meet full of incredible ideas and practical advise.

Locations (close to Salem, Oregon)
Historic Deepwood Estates Very reasonably priced and simply stunning
Settlemier House Also very affordable and full of character
Green Villa Barn Unsurpassed setting. This was my top choice for location, it's just a little pricey for me.

Ashley Sturm Photography It may be silly to recommend myself but I really believe in the product and experience I provide.

Red Pearl Designs I can't recommend enough that you order your invitations through owner of RPD, Megan. With exceptional products and outstanding customer service you're to love RPD!

Bella Fleur Floral Design

Now that I've shared my recommendations, I want to know what YOURS are! Have you chosen any vendors you're particularly excited about? Do you have experiences you'd like to share, websites we simply HAVE TO go to, vendors we can't live without?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shabby-Chic Desk Makeover / Salem, OR Photographer

Does anyone else find thrift-store shopping therapeutic? You know, you hit up Value Village on your day off, pick through their shelves filled with dirty nick-nacks hoping to find the vintage camera you oogled on Anthropologie's website last night. Do you ever do a happy dance when you score a major find at a crazy low price, and tell all your friends at least 3 times? There's something so satisfying about the pursuit; like a treasure hunt. Just talking about this is making me want to hit up a nearby second-hand shop. But how could I share MY amazing find with you if I did?

It was about a year ago I found this little bed stand table (the only 'before' photo of it I could find) at Value Village right off 25th & Mission Street. It was $9 and I scooped it up after noticing it's rustic knobs and all the intricate detailing on the drawers. That was back when I had my 89 Volvo Wagon that could hold anything, it looked like this:

I finally got the motivation to give it a new paint finish which I feel has improved it's looks by leaps and bounds! Ryan and I sanded it down and gave it two coats of April Mist 450E-2 Behr paint. To complete the vintage look we roughed it up with sandpaper and carefully took razer blades to the edges.

Isn't it CUTE! Ryan and I love it. Partly because it cost us under $12, partly because of it's shabby-chic look we (or, I) adore, and mostly because it was home project where we've gotten our hands dirty. Things just mean so much more when you put a little sweat and labor into it. I've always looked forward to 'making a home' with my husband, it's so grand to see it all come together!

What does this have to do with photography? Nothing. But it has everything to do with ME, who's behind the camera. I like to share little pieces of who I am and inspire YOU to get creative, think outside the box, and hit up your local thrift store. Happy shopping, and be sure to share your best find and favorite place treasure hunt.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Home Interior / Salem OR Commercial Photographer

If I told you the owners of this house rescued a cat from Africa and brought it back, tamed it from being wild and that same once-wild cat was snuggling me while taking these shots, would you believe me? Well it's the truth, and these folks not only have 5, yes FIVE house cats, they own alpacas and harvest their fur. If I wasn't so gosh-darned scared of them I might have grabbed some photos but something about alpacas, llamas, and camels give me the heebie-jeebies.

My Grandma asked me to take a little trip with her to Corvallis to photograph a home she decorated for a client. Her business, Inside Views is an interior design company and she needed some updated shots to use in her portfolio. Don't let the fact that she's a grandma, (great-grandma actually) fool you. Her work is stunning and taste is flawless. I see a lot of myself in her and am thankful for all she's taught me. Her creativity, persistence, petite-ness, stamina, drive, and workaholic tendencies. Yes, I can be a bit of a workaholic. : /

Enough about me, let's check out these cool commercial photographs of this funky house!

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Need Your Vote / 2010 Best Of Mid Valley

Hi Fans! Today I've got a special request that involves YOU. Through April 6th votes are being cast for the 2010 Best of the Mid-Valley and it would just knock my socks off to be nominated! With no need for login votes are made simply and quickly, it took me 1 minute. You can vote once a day which means you could vote every day between now and then if you felt so inclined. Winners are announced May 2nd.

Here's How To Vote:

1. Click this link to head over to the Statesman Journal's website where votes are being cast.
2. Select the 'Professional Services' button.
3. Under Photographer, select 'Ashley Sturm Photography'.
4. Repeat as many times as you like, once a day. : )

It's a long shot being a new photographer compared to some who've been in business over 10 years, but why not try?! Thanks in advance for all who vote, I really appreciate your support!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Photography Tip: Image Workflow / Salem, OR Photographer

Nerds Be-Ware - You're going to LOVE this blog!

I'm curious to know how many photographers or aspiring photographers read my blog. For anyone who's tech savvy, into digital photography, or is simply interested in what happens in between me taking a photograph and you receiving a print, read on! Today's entry is about my work-flow. Does it make me a nerd that I'm excited to share what I feel is an efficient, smart work-flow? It seems to work well and save on time, despite my sloooow laptop. I'm hoping to upgrade to the 21 or 72 inch iMac sometime this year....oh what delight!

I would love to be a source of information to others and share some tips I've learned along the way. I'm so thankful for all I've learned and hope to share some advice to make someone else's process easier.

OK, here's my process from capture to final backup. I've included plenty of screenshots for those of you who are visual like me. : )

1. Import RAW images into Lightroom, checking the following menu options:

a. File Handling: Copy photos to a new location and add to catalog.
b. Copy to: (Here's the filing system I use): External Hard-drive/Ashley Sturm Photography/Images/Work-Portraits/2010/03-19 Client Name, Shoot Type. (This really keeps everything nice and organized!).
c. Organize: Into one folder.
d. Backup: I do one backup to my 1TB external hard-drive, using the same filing system as above. The other backup is on my CF card for a few days.
e. File Name: leave as original.
f. Information to apply: Under Keywords I input relevant keywords.

2. In Library mode do culling (The act of culling; The process of selecting for acceptance or removal). Choose collection to show clients using the filter options by staring with "1". Select 10-20 for BLOG and Facebook and mark red. Delete remaining from disk.

3. Color Correct all images stared "1", sync develop settings as possible. After color correct is complete, 'select all', and hit Apple+S, or on the menu, Metedata, Save metedata to file. This saves an XMP alongside the RAW file. Based on my research an XMP is a small file that retains all your Lightroom adjustments alongside your RAW file, referred to as a sidecar file.

4. Export Files For Client Gallery. I've been using Zenfolio, and found a plugin called Jeffrey Friendl's 'Export to Zenfolio' Plugin. It exports web-formatted JPGs and uploads them to a new gallery folder which I create, all in one step. It takes a while but you can just walk away from your computer or do something else in the meantime. Easy.

a. I create a gallery name that lands on the Home Page, and select to sort gallery by date taken.

I have to make a side note. Any export settings I use often, say exporting for blog, for editing, for zenfolio, for print, ect I save. I do this by making all my export selections and clicking Add under the Presets section on the left of the Export menu. Saves lots of time!

5. Edit Favorites in Photoshop for Blog, Website, and Facebook. I select all my red marked images and use my custom Photoshop preset to export:

a. Export To: Same folder as original photo.
b. Check Add to This Catalog & Stack with Original. This will automatically add the file to your catalog and place it right next to the original RAW file.
c. I keep the file name the same.
d. File Setting: 100% quality JPG, AdobeRGB (1998).
e. I don't check anything else. Make sure it's all full resolution.

6. Open files in Photoshop, edit (I use Jesh De Rox Colorshift actions which I love!) After I'm done I flatten, save as JPG, and close. When you jump back over to Lightroom you'll see all your adjustments from Photoshop.

7. Export for web using my preset for Blog or Website.

8. Make all adjustments and preparations for print order.

9. Final backup to external hard-drive and DVD. I use Toast as my burning software. It's easy to use with a thorough set of menu options.

And that completes my digital workflow! Now comes the best part, share what your favorite editing tricks are, what you learned, or how I could improve my process. I love your feedback and hope this can be like a forum of inspiration, information, and daily doses of happiness.

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy some sun, and I'll see ya bright and early Monday!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ashley Sturm Photography Joins Luxe's NW 7 Photographers

Hey Family & Friends! I've now been selected to join the ranks of Luxe Event Productions Exclusive NW-7, a group of the Northwest's top Seven Wedding Photographers! I had the pleasure of connecting with Misty, Luxe's owner after noticing and commenting on her blog which features real weddings, DIY tips, local vendors and event ideas. We started emailing and within short order were sharing ideas, talking about MY wedding, and arranging coffee outings to scheme about networking our businesses. I'm so glad we did! Not only is she helping me plan my wedding, she's got me guest blogging every other Friday to share my wedding planning experiences. In fact, tomorrow I will be posting about finding your vendors, be sure to stop by her blog!

When Misty approached me about being part of Luxe's NW7 I was so excited and flattered to be included in this exclusive group of fabulous local wedding photographers. I hope you'll take a moment to stop by her blog and see my feature, it's pretty snazzy! Thank you all for your support and encouragement as I continue to grow and nurture my business!

Luxe Event Productions provides a care-free wedding planning experience sure to make each bride feel pampered, relaxed and in-the-know. Misty ability to work with any budget pulling from affordable resources such as Ebay, Craft Warehouse, Costco, amongst many others makes her advice and knowledge valuable to any bride with a budget to please. I've been so thankful to have her guidance and help as I navigate the ups and down of wedding planning. Her experience, personality, and love for her job makes me a firm believer in her business, Luxe Event Productions and I advise any Bride to visit her website and see what wonderful ways she can help YOU!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Save Up To 30% During Spring Print Sale / Salem, OR Photographer

Two week Print Sale starts today! Save up to 30% on your print order when placed by March 30, 2010. This is a great opportunity to place your order from last year's session or purchase additional prints for family, yourself, or to prepare for senior graduation announcements! See below for more details.

*Discount cannot be applied with any other coupons or promotions.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Megan & Ryan Ward / Couple Photography Salem, OR

How do you explain in a short blog entry the value of a friend, the impact a person has made on your life? When that person has been such a support, inspiration, and source of joy in your everyday life a cyberspace blurb seems small. But you know what, I LOVE Megan and and thank God everyday for making our paths cross. Laughter is effortless when I'm with her, it often gets out of hand, which causes some eye rolls from my Ryan and her Ryan. We work on business matters together, oh, did I mention her custom invitation business Red Pearl Designs? Well it's fabulous! Conversations range from iphone apps to how to file business taxes, loving our Ryan's to not always washing our hands after the bathroom (sorry Megan, I couldn't resist), and trusting God as we endeavor on similar paths of marriage, owning a business, and someday even having kids. We cherish the ability to be 100% ourselves together and relate on so many levels. Megan is a daily reminder of God's love and concern for me, not only to meet my needs, but to exceed what I could imagine is possible in a friendship.

Megan also has a closet full of ridiculously cute clothes, I'm kinda jealous. ; )

Today I'm posting some photographs I did of my dearest friend Megan and her husband Ryan on my birthday (what a treat!) last December. It was a chilly 34degrees, she wore the cutest dress in spite of her freezing legs, which look pretty hot, right? We even managed to get Ryan in a classy argyle sweater!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Georgia Newborn Shoot / Salem OR Newborn Photographer

Cuteness abounds once again as we are graced by another adorable newborn, Georgia. Daughter to a dear friend of mine Lily, Georgia was born January 30th, 2010 at 7:08 AM weighing 6 lbs 8 oz, 18 1/2 inches long, with plenty of dark brown hair. I just love a newborn with hair!

She put up quite the fight as soon as she caught on we were taking her pictures but we managed to convince her to go along in the end. Isn't she just precious?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Willamette Christian School Auction / Salem OR Photographer

This is a little shout out to Willamette Christian School who's doing an auction tomorrow as a fundraiser for their school. I'm so pumped to be a part of their auction and help raise money for this incredible establishment. I know quite a few kids who attend, inlcuding my nephew Isaiah, and taught Digital Photography to an awesome group of Middle Schoolers last Fall term.

The basket is valued at $525 so I'm praying this really brings in some serious cash to help WCS keep delivering their awesome teaching program! On top of this one-time donation I decided to pitch in 10% of portrait proceeds and 5% of wedding proceeds when the client mentions WCS from now until July 31, 2010.

I believe very strongly in the principle in tithing as it applies to my business. I never want to become greedy, hoarding all the money for myself. Rather, I believe through giving generously to good causes my business will be blessed and enriched. I see my ability in photography as a gifting from God and what better way to honor and thank Him than make a habit of generosity? I'd rather be known as a generous business than a profitable business any day! I hope to inspire both businesses and individuals to give of their time, talents, and treasures to make someone else's life better.

I took a few shots of the basket which turned out pretty cute, and will be sure to snatch more photos of the whole display tomorrow when I put it together. What do YOU think?

Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor

Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor
Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor

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