BIG Members Choice Awards | NJ Photographer & Branding Strategist

What a night! Last week BIG, a women's empowerment organization, hosted the BIG Members Choice Awards celebration. The party was set in NYC and honored members in nine different categories. Women in all industries from coaching, finance, fashion, design all gathered together to celebrate entrepreneurship and community. We got dressed up for the ultimate GNO to support each other's success and hard work. 

I have been a proud member of this group for over four years as both a member and a leader. I  was honored to be nominated for two awards : "Customer Service" for my business, mikifoto and "Better Together" for our Get Gorgeous photography event. The Get Gorgeous collaboration is an all-inclusive experience of beauty, styling and photography for women entrepreneurs who need a stand out headshot. The event is not only about photos and looking beautiful but also about  feeling confident about your business. We have serviced over 100 women in the last three years. 

What a great achievement to win the Better Together award with my partner, Kanani Briggs! We were thrilled to be recognized amongst our peers. And who wouldn't love a high heeled shoe award :)

Collaboration has been a huge part of my business. By combining my expertise with the talents of others, we were able to create an experience unlike anything else out there. Plus, it is so much more fun to partner with like-minded entrepreneurs. The ideas, the energy, the vision - all are inspiring. If you are in business, I encourage you to think about how you can collaborate for your brand. Partnerships can help you stand out from the crowded marketplace.

Kanani and I are already brainstorming our next creative idea! We will be sure to keep you posted on the upcoming collaboration launching this Fall 2016.

If you are interested in hearing about another upcoming collaboration of mine, I am hosting a #learnsocial workshop with two other social media mavens on June 8th in Berkeley Heights. We are sharing our social media recipe for success that you can immediately apply to your business. Think Facebook + Blogging + Instagram. Three hours of in person discussion and conversation. More details can be found HERE. 

 

 

 

 

Prepping for your Photo Shoot | NJ Business Photographer

Taken at our signature Get Gorgeous headshot event

Taken at our signature Get Gorgeous headshot event

We all get nervous before a photo shoot and want to look our best. This is our moment to SHINE! I have worked with hundreds of women and they all say the same thing, "I hate to have my picture taken." Here are a few things that I recommend you do before the photo session to help you feel confident and camera ready for your big day :

Treat yourself to a facial. Make an appointment 10 days before your shoot date. A facial will help clear up your skin and get that flawless glowing look. Plus, who doesn't like an hour of pampering! If you can't find the funds or time to go to the spa, try doing a face mask at home. I like this one from Tula. Also remember to continue to take care of your skin be removing makeup at the end of the day and hydrating it with creams/lotions. If you are local to Millburn, NJ, I recommend SKNLab in Chatham for facials and skin treatments.

Say goodbye to greys. Book your hair color appointment 10 day before your shoot. Touch up those roots but don't do anything else too drastic. Trust me, now is not the time to change your look. I recommend Dolce Viso in Millburn for all hair services. 

Lashes and Brows. Your eyelashes and eyebrows are essential to your facial expression. Consider lash extensions to give you a full, long lash look. Also find a brow expert who can wax, thread or tweeze your brows to a shape that fits your face. NJ locals, check out M Cresimbeni Beauty in Berkeley Heights. 

Smooth out your lips. Dry and chapped lips don't look good in photos. For the week before the shoot, put balm on your lips on a regular basis. My favorite lip conditioner set is from Beautycounter and is guaranteed to keep you kissably soft.

Whiten Teeth. You can find teeth whitening strips at your local pharmacy from Crest and Colgate. If you are truly self conscious, it may be worth asking your dentist for his help. 

Manicure Time. Take good care of your hands and get yourself a manicure a few days before the shoot. There is nothing worse then chipped colored nail polish. Choose a color that matches your style. My favorite nail salon in Essex County NJ is Avalon

Outfit Ready. Select clothing that fits you well and make you feel confident. Your style should make sense for your brand and work. Make sure to try everything on the day before to make sure the sizing is still right. Bring options of style, silhouette,  color and pattern.

Drink lots of water every day and get enough sleep.  Water and rest do miracles for your skin. Get plenty of it!

Photos taken from our Style & Focus photo event

Photos taken from our Style & Focus photo event

This advanced preparation can really help reduce the anxiety of picture day. You will not only arrive looking great, but also feeling great from all the attention and self care that you are giving yourself. Your photo will show this inner spark and confidence. Plus, you will have a much better photo experience. 

Did I miss something? Let me know if you have another tip or practice before a big photo shoot. I would love to hear it.

Sip Shop Socialize | NJ Business Strategist

Networking gets a bad wrap. Nobody enjoys entering a stale conference room with a pocket full of business cards and making dull conversation. Often you encounter pushy, salesy business owners who talk more then they listen. 

But there is so much power in networking and connecting. You can find support, clients, collaborations, offer help to others, make connections. If done right and in an open, safe space, networking can build businesses and create relationships. 

My friend, Joy Chang, a stylist with J. Hilburn and I decided to create a networking event that we wanted to attend. We wanted it to feel like a party where you could have fun, socialize and connect over drinks and light bites. We wanted it to be in a venue that was beautiful and inspiring. We wanted to create a community for women that woulee encourage them to confidently share their work and their lives.

So we created the Sip Shop Socialize event and hosted it last week at Millburn's boutique, Bungalow (one of our favorite shops). It was a night to meet creative, passionate and interesting women in a fun environment while shopping. Over 40 women attended from all over the Northern New Jersey area including interior designers, coaches, jewelry stylists, stay at home Moms, candle makers and more.  We even raised over $250 for Mission of Hope Haiti.

The night was a H U G E success! But how could it not be when you combine wine and shopping? More then that, strong connections were made and a community of strong women was formed. Keep an eye  out for the next one in the Fall 2016.

Style & Focus Event | NJ Business Photographer

Photos with punch. Photos with personality. Photos that get you noticed.

These are all our goals at the Style & Focus photography event. I work with a team of experts in styling, fashion, hair and makeup to help women in business feel and look beautiful. We want them to feel confident and empowered to represent their brands. We want them to leave the event with photos that can work for their websites, newsletters, LinkedIn, blogs, Instagram and more.

How does it all work? What goes down at this event? It's a unique and personal photo experience. Prior to the event, you will receive a questionnaire from our stylist asking about your size and style preferences. Then when you arrive the day of the session, we have a professional stylist who will do both your hair and makeup. Next, you meet with our wardrobe stylist who will show you the dresses from the shop (Dressed by Lori) that she preselected for your shoot. You will try on a few things and select your favorite two outfits (no obligation to buy). Then it's time for your photo shoot where you and I will do some photo magic out on the streets of Millburn. You are pampered and taken care of by a team of women who care about you and your business.

After the shoot, I send you an online gallery of 15+ images to view and you can then select your favorite three images for your biz and personal pleasure. And voila....that is the Style & Focus photography experience. 

Danielle, one of our recent clients, shares : "Thank you mikifoto, Dressed by Lori, and the entire design team at the Style and Focus session! I am so pleased with my photos. Thank you for an amazing experience and a beautiful day spent with inspiring women. Can I come back?? I want to do it again!"

We are super proud of this customized photography event and the creative collaboration among all these talented women. Our Dream Team includes :

Stylist : Simply Chic Styling

Boutique : Dressed by Lori

Makeup : Lucy Chambers Makeup | Kanani Briggs - Arbonne

Hair : Stephanie Alysia

This event happens only twice a year during Spring and Fall. Our next one will be in October 2016. If you are interested in getting on our email list for announcements of this event, contact me HERE.

Celebrate Mom | NJ Family Photographer

Happy Mother's Day to my fellow mamas! I hope Sunday brings you some quiet time to take a breath, have some peace of mind, reflect on the moment and be surrounded by the people you love most. We are often running on empty taking care of kids, work, home, hubbies plus meals, carpooling, homework, laundry, etc. Everyone else's needs are put before our own. 

Today is our day! Honor the moms, grandmothers, aunts, friends in your life that support you. Call - snail mail - text - FB message - hug - high five - connect with the Moms in your life. Don't forget them.

Replenish and refuel and revel in our one special day. Let your kiddos spoil you with cards and gifts. Take an extra long shower. Don't cook if you don't want to. Curl up with a book. We deserve it.

Three things that I hope to do on Mothers day :

1) Eat a delicious meal that someone else has prepared.

2) Snuggle up on the coach with my boys and watch a movie without anyone fighting or whining. 

3) Have some alone time to read a book uninterrupted for one hour.

What's on your wish list? 

While you are out and about with your fam-jam, remember to pull out your cameras and take a photo that includes you. It's important and your children will cherish it. Enjoy and cheers to you!

If I could turn back time | NJ Family Photographer

Shah Family captured in a mikifoto mini session

Shah Family captured in a mikifoto mini session

Family life is B-U-S-Y. We have work, school, homework, sports, house, errands, chores, friends....The list is so long and it goes on repeat every day and into the weekends. Sometimes it feels like we are in cruise control just going from one activity to the next. 

Recently, I am finding it so important to stop and breathe. Take a minute to see the people around you. Make a connection with them. Savor the moment. I know it sounds cliche. But today's world is like groundhogs day but worse. Time is moving at warp speed. When you finally catch your breath, you look around and your kiddos are now a head taller, losing the baby fat and turning into young adults. 

Photography can help us slow time. It allows us to not only remember those milestone moments but also the daily adventures. I encourage to use your fancy phones and cameras to capture the beauty of your everyday. Not just your children but your routines, your surroundings, your world. Because the most amazing thing is to scroll through your phone to put the pieces of your life together through images. And if you are even more ambitious, print out your memories so you can actually hold them in your hands and relive those moments. 

Photography is powerful. It shares our stories. It reveals our personalities. It reminds us of the details of our lives. It celebrates our connection. It gives us a sense of belonging. Who know one click could do all that! 

So I encourage you to snap away but most importantly try to take a family photo every year. You don't need to always hire a professional photographer. Ask a neighbor or a friend. Take a selfie. But take it. Slow down life through pictures. No one has ever regretted taking too many photos. These moments are fleeting and fast. 

One last tip to help you document your family story. If it's too tough to find the time in your daily busy schedules to book a photographer, try scheduling a session while you are on vacation. This is what I do every year. The Internet can help you find a photographer or check out flytographer. They specialize in finding local photographers while you are on vacay. I already have mine booked for Milan, Italy this summer. It's worth it. I promise. Happy clicking!

#learnsocial workshop| NJ Social Media Expert

Collaboration.

Workshop.

Social Media.

Lady Bosses (+ one Guy Boss).

All of my favorite things swirled into one fun event.....

Welcome to the Learn Social. Get Savvy. Find Success workshop. Last week, I partnered with marketing mavens - Betty Galvan and Rupa Kale - to teach a seminar on how to use social media to boost your brand online. This was our first collab and it was a huge success! It felt ahhhhmazing to work with these creative, smart women to deliver valuable content on blogging, Facebook and Instagram. These are the tools that we have used to grow our very own brands. 

10 small business owners attended with businesses in the fashion, fitness, health, wellness industries. Some were just launching and others have been in business for years. The mix of experience and expertises made for a lively, engaged discussion. 

Rupa, Betty and I shared our strategies for storytelling, ideal client profiling and content creation. The attendees learned the do's and don'ts of popular social media platforms while seeing concrete examples of other businesses doing it right. It was three hours of packed learning with tailored advice for each of the attendees own personal brands. 

Ipshita Gosh of Aangan Academy shared, "So glad I went to this workshop...your pillars for content writing is thought-provoking and pretty comprehensive. Now I have something to guide me as I start (fingers-crossed) to blog! You gals left us wanting more.

Rita Desnoyers-Garcia of Becoming Awake commented, "I learned a lot, made some wonderful connections and have nugget to digest for the months and years to come." 

This feedback made us so happy! Personally, I love this new role as mentor - teacher - advisor for entrepreneurs. I am excited to do more of these workshops in the future. We even have our next one planned for June 8th. If you would are ready to share your story online and up level your business, join us. We would LOVE to have you. 

New Instagram Algorithm - NJ Business Photographer

Have you heard the news? Instagram has announced a new algorithm of how posts are seen in our feeds. Whereas before posts would be revealed  in reverse chronological order, now Instagram is deciding what to show us based on the viewer's interests and relationships with the posters. Instagram is reordering our feeds to show us "moments we believe you will care about the most".

Everyone is up in arms about this and what it means for connecting with our audience. Will our images get lost? Will we lose engagement? Why does Instagram think they can decide what we want to see? There are a lot of unknowns but the one thing for sure is : Instagram is a business and can decide what they want to do with their platform. They made this decision because feeds were starting to get crowded making it tougher for people to keep up with the content they wanted to see.  

So now what do we do? I think the best way to cope with social media changes is to find strategies to continue engagement with your audience. What can we do on our end to still maintain our connections? Here are a few ideas that I plan to implement in my Instagram strategy:

  1. CONTENT. Continue to create and share meaningful, valuable content to your tribe. Keep taking beautiful photos. Keep offering useful tips and advice. Keep inspiring others with quotes and behind the scenes sneak peaks to your process. Keep sharing relevant information that builds connections with your peeps.
  2. HASHTAGS. The order of the feed may be changing but as of now, hashtags still have the power to categorize and search for posts. Make sure you are including hashtags in your captions so that your customer can find you. These hashtags need to be relevant to your target and your industry. 
  3. ENGAGEMENT. Keep being social. Comment. Like. Share. Tag. Ask Questions. Post challenges. Create contests. Keep encouraging a dialogue on Instagram and you will build a community.
  4. CALL TO ACTION. Ask your followers to connect with you through the "turn on post notifications" feature. This way they won't miss a single post. You may need to show them how to do this with a graphic like I did. Just click the three dots in the top right and when the drop down comes up, click "Turn on Post Notifications". 

5. EMAIL LIST. Use the one clickable link on your Instagram bio wisely. Ask your audience to opt into your newsletter sign up through that link. This way you can capture their email and continue your relationship with them outside of Instagram. 

This big news has taught me one big lesson. Instagram is a business and they can do whatever they want with their platform. We have seen this with Facebook and Twitter. As a business owner, I only have real control over the platforms that I own - my website, my blog and my email list. I need to continue to keep them relevant, updated and top of mind. 

I hope this blog post helps you navigate the recent changes. If you want to learn more social media strategies to build your business, join us for an upcoming workshop in New Jersey : Get Savvy. Learn Social. Find Success. I am collaborating with two other social media mavens to present 3 hours of hands on, valuable content on building your business through social media. You can find more details HERE. We would love to have you. In the meantime, find me on Insta!