In my Elements and Lightroom workshops over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that more and more of my students are neither professional photographers nor hobbyists. They own retail businesses and want to improve their photos in order to market their products better.

One student made children’s clothes and wanted her Etsy listings to look professionally photographed. Another sold jewelry.  Most recently, Carissa of The Gilded Thimble learned Lightroom in order to streamline her routine for marketing her wedding dress alterations company.

I visited with Carissa to learn more about this trend. Below, you’ll learn why using Lightroom is so important to her business.

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Gown is from Church Street Bridal

Tell us about your business. How important is photography to your career? 

I am a professional seamstress who specializes in bridal gown alterations. My business is called The Gilded Thimble. My demographic is young and online.  The internet is largely visual and informative, so I have to impress my clientele on both levels.  That’s what makes photography so crucial to my business. 

Doing my own photography has saved me thousands of dollars. It would be cost prohibitive to have a pro photographer follow me around to accumulate this much content and advertising material.

My website has really helped to set me apart.  I often have brides travel from out of state for my services, and that wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for them getting a strong sense of what I do from my website.  The before and after photos that fill my galleries are real confidence boosters for my clientele.  It saves me lots of time, because I don’t have to spend any time selling myself to potential clients during the initial consultation. They have their heart set on working with us before they walk through the door.   

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Gown is from Church Street Bridal


My blog is also very photo rich. So much so that there are a couple of wedding photographers who feel threatened by it’s quality! (Although it’s not perfect or pro level, I have to publish very quickly and keep moving.) My defense to those photogs is that what I do has to be *seen* to be appreciated and when you consider my wedding day services, I do contribute to the beauty of the entire day.

The blog has been a huge boost for my business because I usually get brides’ photos up within 48 hours of the event.  The families share the blog post on the social media of their choice and it’s like free viral advertising for me.  I often get many spin-off jobs from the weddings that I work.  They also increase the number of weddings I get to travel to, which is fun.

My blog stats can hold their own with many wedding bloggers and it’s all for promoting my business. You can imagine that with taking before/after photos everyday, working weddings on weekends, and shooting bridal portraits at the end of many of our alteration sessions, I accumulate many many pictures.  Enter Lightroom.  Lightroom was the next phase in putting on my big girl shoes with my website.  Lest I would die under an avalanche of photos, I needed a way to work through many photos quickly, and had to adopt a good cataloging system as well.
  

How did you learn to take photos?

My Father was a professional artist and photographer, so I gained some skills through nature and nurture. I was the Photography Editor of my yearbook staff in High School.  That was invaluable experience for me!  That was the good ole days of film, and not many people were given access to relatively endless rolls of film and developing. Like many mothers, I went through another phase of photography fixation when my children were born.

I didn’t really pursue photography deeply until I began my journey with my website.  I found a new creative outlet. To better myself, I study free online tutorials, browse blogs, take a specialized class online every now and then, but I also take private classes with photographers as well.  My approach to that has been very a la carte.  When I see one particular trait of a photog that I would like to improve upon, (lighting for example) I ask the photog for a private lesson on that one aspect. And I never ask for that for free!

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Gown is from Church Street Bridal

What’s your opinion on the value of LR to someone who isn’t a professional photographer?

Anyone who has to manage or edit a large number of images can benefit from Lightroom.  The value of Lightroom can be gauged by the value of your time.  Obviously my money mostly comes from sewing, so anything that frees me up to sew keeps the money wheels greased.  And that, as you know, is what business is all about!  

I’m so glad I took the Lightroom Class with Texas Chicks! Erin is very comprehensive, but she also takes her time in her explanation of things.  The videos were remarkably thorough and I love that you get to download and keep them.  It’s one of those things that I will always keep for a resource.  There are so many things to learn about Lightroom and many details. I can’t wait to “veg out” on a snow day and watch them all over again.  I know I’ll learn something new every time.  And for you fraidy cats out there- I hadn’t taken an online course, for maybe five years, so I was a little scared that I would get lost in it all.  But, it’s actually very easy to find your way around the platform that she uses.  Thank you, Erin!

Thank YOU, Carissa! I appreciate your kind words! Did she convince any of you that it’s time to incorporate Lightroom into your business? You can download a 30 day free trial at Lightroom. And register for my workshop here to get the most out of it.