It’s that time again and we’re very happy to have Stephanie Deveau of Inky-Dinky Do as the first spotlight for our second year. Stephanie has been an active member of the forum and know you all have a chance to ask questions, learn, and share with her here. Let’s give a big welcome to Stephanie!
Tell us about yourself.
Well let’s see… I’m a 20 year professional photographer, a wife, a mother and an insomniac. I love sunflower seeds, chocolate and making photography not just fun, but profitable. I’ve had everything from a big commercial front to small home studios. Each has its own merits, but the common thread- they all have to make money.
I picked up photography in college and was fortunate enough to work with several great Masters of Photography during college in the US and in England. I interned at The Photographer’s Gallery in London and with some excellent commercial photographers. I loved the business side of the art world. I was the photo editor for the college paper, dabbled in the fine art world and ran the darkroom at school. After graduating with a degree in International Affairs & Commerce and taking the foreign service exam, passing it and making the parents proud…. I declared I was getting married and not going accept my post. So following my husband I moved to the metropolis of Bakersfield. You can imagine the increasing joy as my parents find out that I’m now going to be an artist. So after being a total disappointment to the family I kind of had to make sure that the whole “be a photographer” thing worked out. Which for me meant making solid business decisions. So with a strong background in both photography & business and an overly optimistic view of the world I went forth.I later ditched the ex-husband, expanded the studio and took up speaking a little when I could to allow me a chance to give back to the profession that I love. I’ve been blessed with clients that have been with me for 15 years and we are going on second generations now. We have several exclusive contracts for displays and of course my favorite is the contracts with the two largest and best hospitals in our area. I love taking a project that others have tried and can’t do it, and then doing it better than they imagined.I love to mix things up so I enjoy making our own sets, which has led us to the our latest adventure the inky-dinky-do Drops!
Describe a typical day.
Hmm… it isn’t as exciting as you might think… but here is what is going on here Tuesday for example:
4:30 am – ready to take the kid to soccer conditioning
5:00 am drop the kid off at soccer conditioning
5:30 am feed the animals (studio has a bunny and fish)
6:00- 7:30 get ready for the day
7:30am pick up the kid
8:00 am make sure shoot room is set up for first session
8:30 am – 10:30 Newborn session
11:00 – 1:00 Newborn session #2
1:30- 2:00 lunch
2:30- 5:30 Post Newborn session
6:00 pm make dinner
7:30-9:30 clean, return emails.
That is pretty typical. Now Tues, Wed & Thursday that is how it goes. Monday and Friday I typically will only take 1 session if at all and do retouching, production, framing, accounting, marketing etc.
Tell us your most memorable photoshoot.
That is hard… I would say to this day it might be a Family that we did. The Father was dying of brain cancer at 38. They had a 2 year old son and we documented a day. The joys, the quite moments all of it. This was back in the days of film. I will always remember the Father saying that he needed me to record what it felt like for this child to be with his Father. The gravity of knowing that this child would know his Father thru the images I had to capture stuck with me. When we later selected the images it was the most intense preview session. The Mom wanting to make a shrine and me actually pulling her back a little and going for balance. Not only photos of DJ and his Dad, but those with his Mom so that this little kid had a sense of not only what was gone, but what was still with him. The Father died a few months later. I know the Mom and son moved away, but I will always remember them.
What are your favorite subjects to photograph? And how would you describe your style?
That is hard. I love newborns, then I will be bored and do a Rendezvous session, then a tween, then a wedding couple.. I like just about everything but landscapes. I think my style though is fairly consistent. I don’t know what you would call it, but clients always know when they see a print that it is one of ours!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I studied a lot of fine art in college and do love 19th century European art. I have found inspiration from paintings to something random like the colors in a fishbowl one day. I think if we look around we can find inspiration anywhere. It is best to not look for the obvious sometimes.
What’s your favorite image?
Depends on the day!
If you could buy anything for your studio, what would it be and why?
A machine to clone myself! I never have enough time so an extra me would be groovy!
What are the biggest personal or professional challenges you face? Anything you’d do differently?
I’ve faced a lot of challenges over the years. A lot of people know I’ve had an uphill battle medically most of my life and I think that has kind of made me a fighter. I don’t tend to back away from a challenge, I tend to attack it. Everyone will have challenges, it is what you make of them. I don’t know that I would change anything. If I did I might be a lazier person and take too many things forgranted. I just try to always keep to the path I set, do it honestly and with integrity and push forward.
Well, be an organizer and planner we do have the 5 year marketing and business plan, the 10 year plan and the 15 year retirement plan… but what I really want to do… Don’t laugh… what I really want to do, is to spend more time with my family, get in better shape and learn to cook a lot better! (Yes, I understand the contradiction of the get in shape and cook more thing!) Of course I hope that inky-dinky-do Drops will be a success and that my clients will still love me in another 5 years!
Advice for other photographers?
Learn your craft and how to be successful in business. I am a big believer in either enjoying photography as a hobby. (which there is NO shame in- shoot what you want, when you want, and how you want for fun). Or be in photography as a profession, in which case, you need to treat it like any job. A decent salary, benefits, retirement, profit… all of it.