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Perspective

Since all of my kids are home with coughs and stuffy noses and I’m missing church this morning, I’m going to take y’all to church on my blog, okay?

Also, this is something I teach at every single one of my newborn workshops, so I’m tracking views and be looking for a bill in your email;)

Okay, serious face on. One of the biggest questions I get at workshops/emails/private message boards/when I meet people in real life is this: “How do you deal with people copying you” or “My BEST FRIEND just started photography too and lives down the street and charges $50 less than me, has this happened to you and what should I do?”

Many people do well with my usual answer of, “I focus on my business and my life. Dwelling on what others are doing isn’t going to get me anywhere, if anything it will mess with my creative chi and create bad vibes in my life.” This advice tends to reset many a photographer and is enough to remind them where to focus their energy.

Every so often, though, I come across someone who *REALLY* cannot let whatever photography related offense has happened to them and they. are. MAD. I’ll admit, I’ve been there. I was in a bad place with these same issues for over a year, I felt very wronged by a photographer and I’m leaving it at that. It consumed me, made me bitter and untrusting of new photographer acquaintances/friends and almost lost me some great relationships along the way. Thanks to rewiring my thinking and extreme patience that I didn’t deserve, I now view “photographer problems” much much differently.

There are a few different common scenarios I hear about the most, so I’ll focus on those.

First, the “Local Photographer Who I Don’t Know Copies Everything I Do” Scenario. This one is the most common, and yes of course it happens to me. Whether its the secret location you worked hard to find, the unique prop you handmade yourself, a pose you invented, whatEVER. It’s hard to see something you felt “yours” being “taken” by someone else. People always give the advice, “Take it as a compliment you’re being copied!”and it is about the last thing you want to hear in your indignant anger. So I’m not going to tell you that, because it doesn’t help when you’re in this mindset.

What I am going to tell you, I’m asking you to let it sink in. Mull it over for a little bit before you decide if it’s the right advice for you:

In 1998, I went to Chipoka, Malawi on a missions trip to build an orphanage for AIDS orphans and street children.

My eyes were opened to what real problems were. I forgot these experiences for a while, but one day a friend emailed me an image by another local photographer duplicating an exact set up of my own, alerting me to a “copy cat”. My initial response was anger. But then, for whatever reason, I imagined myself sitting across from one of the mothers I met in Africa. I saw her sitting there with her baby on her knee, her bare feet worn from walking daily to get clean water, she most likely has Malaria and her child most likely has a swollen belly from malnutrition. Then I saw me. With my healthy kids, my running water, full pantry, my studio (whose rent each month is more money than she will see in a lifetime), my thriving business. Then I heard my whiny voice, complaining to her about my “problems”. Really…MY problems. A photographer copying me. Poor Rachel.

Now let me pause here before those of you who love to hate me find fault in this. Maybe you’re thinking, “Well if that’s the case, then Rachel is saying no one can ever have a bad day based on this logic. You should probably stop crying about your son losing his two front teeth then compared to what others are going through. Be happy he’s heathy” or “Your poodle running away shouldn’t be sad because you could have AIDS” or whatever.

No. I’m not saying that. You are still allowed to be upset, angry, sad about things in life. But for me, photography related drama/problems, what works is seeing that scenario playing out in my head. I’ve been there, I’ve spoke with these women and children. I think they could understand being sad about your child growing up or losing a beloved pet. I don’t think I could complain in good conscience about another photographer replicating something I’ve done to someone who has so many other worries and problems in their lives, yet still considers themselves blessed.

For me, it puts it into perspective. What’s truly important in life.

Which brings us to the other scenario. When someone you care about, whether a relative, good client or friend opens up photography shop. Or if you’re a vendor, opens up a vendor shop. Not many in the business have NOT had this happen to them. You have a client, you shoot that client a few times, they see your fun job, and pretty soon that client is taking clients with their shiny new DSLR. Or if you’re a vendor, you have a photographer buy your products, they love your products but see them and decide, “Hey, I could save loads of money and make these myself.” and they figure it out and then open up shop.

It’s frustrating, I get it, I truly do. But guess what? I didn’t invent photography and you didn’t invent newborn pants.

I know, I know—it’s not as simple as inventing newborn pants, I get it. But take a step back. Look at that person you’re mad at. They are another human being walking this planet. Someone’s mom, someone’s daughter, someone’s sister. Someone who cries when they are sad, bleeds when they are cut, and has very real feelings.

Most of the time, these people aren’t “tromping” on you on purpose. They are making a business decision for THEM and their family, without realizing you are being affected. Choose to be happy for them. If this is a friend or family member or client you’re close with—choose to be happy. Be happy that they are able to provide for their family. Be happy that their new passion for photography or newborn props is now helping them afford a working car, getting out of debt, what have you. Work harder yourself to continue to grow your business, because if you are growing and honing your skills, no amount of friends turning photographer will kill your business. And meanwhile, instead of crying over them taking some of your clients–you can celebrate with them–truly with your entire heart.

If they are intentionally hurting you, try to humanize them in any way you can. Unless you plan on actually suing them (which again, good luck because you don’t own the copyright on photography or newborn pants), getting angry, talking about them to others, and holding on to that wrong and not moving on isn’t going to do you any favors. Move on, and don’t let it get you down. The best way to right a wrong that has been done to you by a stranger is sweet, sweet silence. Don’t let them get under your skin, have the satisfaction of ruffling your feathers and YOU truly focus on having a good life. It’s like eating chocolate after a close brush with a dementor — you’ll feel better;)

 

I’ve felt this blog post brewing for a few weeks now, so that’s my cue that hopefully someone will read this who needs to hear it. I’m begging you guys, let it go, be nice, love others and try to file the issues that plague this industry away in the petty box that they belong in.

 

crystal miel - i like your dementor reference. and everything else you said. but mostly the dementor reference. yup. ;)

Kristi Dully - I submitted my email so you can invoice me. :) I live by these practices and have found them both healing and rewarding. However, it is easy to forget them from time to time when your feelings have not been considered. This blog is a great reminder for those that currently try to do this and for those that never thought about it in this way and struggled to understand and put their feelings into perspective. As always, thank you for your transparency and love. Have a blessed day!

Melissa - I started in 2010 and never called myself a photographer until I felt it was right…it’s now my 4th year and I’m ready to go full time and I’ve always had this mindset…sometimes I get caught up but what you said is 1,000% correct and REfreshing to read from such an established photography biz owner! Bless you!

Rachel - Thank you I needed to read this TODAY!

Heidi - 100% pure honestly. I was doing a random internet search for newborn props/poses and somehow ran into your website. Started looking around and jumped on your blog to see if you had any current sales and low and behold I see this post. You have no idea how much this blog has touched me. I have had some crazy negative drama directed to me and my business this last week by another local photographer and as try as I may all weekend to forget and forgive, I still had bitter feelings towards this person. My first instinct was anger and to publicly call them out on their lies, but sanity ensued before I actually hit the “post” button. I took the day off today in hopes to refocus and “let it go”. Thank you for taking the time to write this, it was meant for me. You have lightened my heart.

Jessica Klaus - Definitely needed to hear this. I think we have all been there OR will be there. Very well written and really calls us to step back and reevaluate our lives and goals.

Sacha Mullen - Well said! Love your attitude!
Have you ever seen this video? – First World Problems. I laughed my ass off the first time I saw it! Thought you might like it. :-)

Sacha Mullen - Umm… I guess it would help if I posted the link.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN2WzQzxuoA

dear aspiring newborn photography vendors

I hope this blog post is read with the understanding that I want to help those of you who are in the newborn photography vendor business. I receive an average of ten emails per week from hopeful vendors wanting to send me their products for free in return for the exposure they’ll gain by my sharing the images on my fan page. The women who are writing these emails are creative, talented individuals and I wish I could accept every single one of them as a new vendor and help them have more sales and (as many are mothers) help them provide for their families by working from home on projects that bring them joy.

So, this blog has been brewing in my brain for a while now. Some of the advice may be hard for you vendors to swallow. Some of it may be offensive to photographers who may choose to style their sessions differently from me. Please keep in mind that my word isn’t the Bible of newborn photography, just my opinion.

Alright, here we go….

 

1. Start with high quality materials

Just like in the photography world, we have to take out loans/save up for the best equipment, the best studios, the best props and therefore we show a quality of work that draws a clientele that can recognize talent mixed with skill. In the same way, if you are buying yarn from Wal-Mart and beads from Hobby Lobby, your newborn hats and headbands aren’t going to have the quality or uniqueness that comes from vendors who purchase yarn from fiber artists and locally crafted beads or materials from vintage finds. How to tell if you’re yarn is cheap: IT’S SHINY.

Along with high quality materials, the method of creating is super important. Knitting over crocheting is preferred by the majority of photographers. From what I understand, it’s more difficult to knit? Right? So more people crochet. There are (as with all of these tips) exceptions to this rule. High quality fibers with tight/intricate crocheting can be gorgeous. I own some bonnets like these!

Beautiful knit hat made from quality yarn from Tanya’s Tangles:

 

2. Size of hat or headband

A few years ago, chunky was IN. Big thick chunky beanies were all the rage. Now, the majority of photographers prefer hats that are snug fitting and either have stretch or are thinner knit material that fit well! You can have a pattern and follow it as much as you want, but if you aren’t testing it out on a variety of newborns to ensure it generally will fit a newborn head, and are using images on your shop page showing a baby wearing one of your hats with gaps on the side of baby’s head or strings everywhere, it’s going to deter a photographer from using your products! A perfect fitting newborn hat will be flush against baby’s cheeks like this one pictured below from Adorable Props:

(also notice how tightly knit the high quality yarn is!)

 

3. Tie-backs

Now, I realize I’m alone on this one, for the most part, but I really detest headbands with big dangly tie-backs. I much prefer headbands with a bit of stretchy elastic at the back…SO MUCH EASIER for photographers to get on a sleeping baby then having to tie some tickly strings around the head of a sleeping/posed baby. Love stretchy headbands like this one from Bitty Beads:

 

4. DETAILS. We are photographing these props so close up, that attention to detail is so very important. It’s also so important to understand how to work different textures together without making accessories look messy. Vintage or well made delicate lace, tiny dried flowers, and individually crafted fabric flowers help support the organic feelings that come from photographing these tiny fresh babies. Think that if you are going to use non-organic materials like in the image above, keep it SIMPLE. Shiny stones and metals can make an image feel heavy and garish, which is not what you think of with babies. Think DAINTY. When working with organic materials, there is a little wiggle room for size and textures, as seen in this tieback from My Darling Emma:

 

4. Take note of the photographer you are reaching out to:

I 99% of the time have my babies going to the right side of the frame. It’s partly due to the way my studio is set up, and partly due to preference on my part. So many times I have a hat sent to me that has the embellishment on the side that would be facing down and hidden, and I’ll forget until it’s time to put the hat or headband on, and when I realize it’s on the wrong side, I’m forced to either start over posing wise, or grab a different accessory.

Headband from MilkMoney:

 

5. Don’t expect images right away.

This is geared towards those of you are are either…

a) just starting out. At this point in the game, you can’t call the shots and the photographer you are hoping to work with may already have a stack of things they’ve either bought or had sent to them that they are needing/wanting to photograph. They may not have a newborn anytime soon, or they may have all boys. Or the parents may not like your accessory. Or the parents may not want the picture posted. Or the accessory might not fit the baby due to the baby having a very small or large head. There are so many reasons why hats/headbands may not be photographed right away.

b) sending a photographer something without asking first. For all of the reasons stated above, but adding that a photographer may not like what you send. It’s hard to hear, but so many vendors don’t pay attention to the photographers they are sending their products to. Instead they create headbands/hats in the color/styles that they prefer without noticing that this photographer has never photographed a mustard yellow piece of fabric ever, or black and purple together, etc.

Headband from Cattura Imagery

 

6. If a photographer has purchased hats/headbands from you, and you want to use one of their images to post on your page, make sure you ASK first. And if they agree, I strongly suggest sending them a “thank you” goodie as they just essentially PAID you for you to advertise with their image.

One of my favorite colors, yellow! Bonnet from Lil Luxe

 

7. DON’T COPY.

This is the quickest way to get blacklisted in this industry. There is nothing most photographers hate more than being ripped off themselves, so if I have a vendor I love email me to let me know that another vendor has blatantly copied their exact headband styling, I’ll put that new vendor on my “DO NOT USE” list. This industry is supposed to be full of people who are continually creating unique pieces of art. Whether it’s us photographers or you vendors. This advice goes for both sides: If you are constantly trying to model your look exactly after another, you will never break off as a big name yourself. A creation by one of my favorite very unique vendors, Mo Jackson:

 

Another unique creation by another favorite vendor – the giant fluffy goodness nest from Pure Knits:

 

Above all, don’t give up. The majority of well known photographers and vendors didn’t pop up overnight. We’ve been working our tails of for years, honing our crafts and figuring out trends and styles that work for this profession. We ALL start somewhere!

 

Melissa - Very well put blog, and I agree with you. Thank you for posting this

Melissa Aldrich - Well stated!
I think the only other thing to add would be to also approach photographers who are not well known but are producing beautiful imagery. If you’re starting out and a photographer is hitting her stride with images, then you’re likely a great match to promote each other.
I’m sort of in the middle stage of business building and I’ve been at this for a few long years. I have a real heart for helping others succeed in business because I know how hard it is. I actually search Etsy for brand new shops who display my style but have no professional photographs and offer to help them launch. No one has ever taken me up one it and that’s sort of sad to me. Maybe I’m going about it wrong; I can admit my own fault ;-) But at the same time, I really want to invest in two or three vendors and help them grow, but those opportunities seem limited to just well known photographers or photographers who personally know the vendor.

Rachel Vanoven - Good point Melissa! I should have included that! I actually do the same thing as well, look on Etsy for new but talented and tasteful shops!!

Christin - On the other side, those of us just starting out with newborns have to buy thousands of dollars in handmade, beautiful props so that our portfolio has variety and stands out from others and it can REALLY add up in cost at the time where we are making little to no income. I was offering to photograph the prop and then send it back, I didn’t even want to keep it! Just use it for a session and then give them the pics to use. All of the vendors are already working with the big names (and sending them freebies) and I can’t say that I blame them, but it’s very hard for us “freshies” to not feel discouraged when our favorite vendors use the same 4 or 5 people to showcase all of their things and don’t give us a chance to be up there. On top of that, in the beginning, my style was COMPLETELY different (think crocheted animal hats and minkee backdrops. yeah!) and I have a huge pile of things I will never use again and I am happy to send for free to someone who has that style to help them get started without spending $3,000 in props.

I see your point entirely Rachel and I totally agree (I get vendors messaging me but their style is nothing near mine so I pass) that is needs to be a good match for it to work out, but there is another part to this and that’s the vendors might want to give us little guys the chance since we are the ones ultimately paying for their goods, each $45 hat at a time :)

Laura A. - You’re really inspiring, Rach. Thank you for posting this!

Ashley Durham - I’m not a newbie ‘tog so I don’t use all the cute props, but this is so spot on! The other thing that a lot of vendors will do – prop makers and the like – is to go on Facebook pages and say “Hi I love your work please like my page” with a link to their page … It’s SO RUDE! :(

Karen Mackie - Don’t spam our business pages on Facebook! There’s nothing that annoys me more about a vendor when they post an ad for themselves with links etc… On my Facebook page. Instant deletion and blacklist!

Khristine - This is an excellent article. Thank you for sharing this. As a newer vendor, I would love to know what is the proper way of going about contacting a photographer and asking them to work with you? I myself make all of my props by hand and it gets very frustrating at times to see excellent photographers using mass-produced, wholesale headbands/props and not even give me the time of day or bother looking at what I make. I would love some feedback from the ladies that have already commented. I love to grow professionally and I try to learn as much as I can from those who’ve been doing this a lot longer :)

Mary Macomber - Ohhhhhhh Rachel!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK Yooooou!!! This post is perfect. Took the words right out of my mouth!! xo

anonymous - No offense but some of those seasoned prop vendors use “cheap” yarn. Its not really cheap but in your context its cheap because you can buy it at hobby lobby or michaels. Its the roving. I have seen Devoted Knits and Prop Me Up use it. This is simply put, your opinion. Before you blast all the little guys just know that this sort of negativity is not character building and it does make this industry more like a popularity contest rather than about fitting the customers needs.

anonymous - I also agree with the person above. I find most photographers to be quite snobby when it comes to other WAHM’s who are also just trying to make a living. My target is not strictly photographers, it is mother’s too. Sometimes some type of acknowledgement from photographers (who we admire), is appreciated. ALL photographers started somewhere, and your photos back then, most likely did not look as good as they do now. So cut some of us vendors some slack too. I think this blog post a little ridiculous, and totally unnecessary. You don’t see vendors bashing photographers, about the type of camera they use, their style, etc. We should ALL be supportive of one another, no matter how big of a business or how small… sorry you have lost me as a fan on your page. I used to admire you, until I read this post.

Mr. Right - Wait, I’m confused as to why you posted you hate tiebacks on #3 then post a picture of a tieback on #4? lol

Adriana - Thank you Rachel, very well written with a great advice for all of us vendors. I just opened my shop 1month ago, so I am very very new in this business. Information like this is very much appreciated..thanks again , adriana

anonymous - I agree that its a little harsh, and I am a photographer. I also am a knitter, so I can look at yarn and tell you what kind it is almost. Ive seen it 1000 times, a big name vendor is using walmart yarn and charging 40$ for a hat that took 30 min to make. Just like big name photographers shooting in JPEG and then actioning their photos to death and charging 1000s of dollars…its all in how you present the final product. You can turn walmart yarn into beautiful things girl. Dont knock it. That being said, I once respected your art, but now, knowing you’re one of those snobbish photographers who looks down their nose at folks who dont do things the way you think they should… Ill take my respect and give it to someone who deserves it.

Prop Vendor - Your photos are beautiful. Your message however, not so much. I understand that you might think that you know and own the market. However, this article is just your opinion. For instance………

Your #1 Tip. NOT TRUE!! One of the cheapest yarns that can be bought is Red Heart and it is not in least shiny.

Point #2 – Really? Photographers are preferring tighter fitting hats? Again, all your opinion. Did you know that yarn, whether it is crochet or knit, will only stretch so far. So if I am making a tight fitting hat for a 7 pound baby, it is not going to fit a 10 pound baby. I personally know a lot of photographers who are not going to be too happy if their hat isn’t fitting a wide range of babies. Hmmm, a mom seen a photo on the photographer’s website and wants her baby photographed in that hat or prop as well. Well sorry mom, your baby is just too big, it is made for a smaller baby. I don’t see that scenario going too well.

Point #4 Details- Shiny, sparkly, metal. Hmm, I think what I am seeing a lot of right now is lots of tiaras on little ladies. I guess those photographers are wrong?

Point #4 – Your shop is set up one way. A different photographer is set up the other way. Turn it so the garnishment is on the other side. Not a big deal.

Point #5 – We understand that yes, photos can not always be given back right away. However, do you know that the longer you take, that is sales that aren’t coming our way? I would say 97% of my business comes from the products that I have professional photos of. So how about some mutual respect both ways. If you have too many props waiting to be photographed, how about saying no to someone who wants to send you some. There are plenty of other photographers who are willing and wanting to photograph our props. And they are just as good at photography.

Point #6 – I would never ask for a photographer to let me use a photo that they paid full price for the prop. If you have a problem with it, SAY NO when asked for the photo. It is rude to expect a free product. If you can’t stand up for yourself and say no then it is your own loss. Don’t blame it on the prop maker.

Point #7 – Don’t copy? Every photo you have used in this post, I have seen other photographers do countless times. There are only so many ways to pose a baby or person, just as there are only so many hat and prop ideas. A lot of the time, we get requests for a prop that a parent has already seen. I am guessing your probably do as well for a certain pose?

This article was totally not necessary. You come off as a know it all and I would hate for any new prop maker to see this and think that it is the truth. If you have a problem with prop makers, just say no to photographing their products. You don’t need to belittle us. We definitely know which photographers to stay away from because of their attitudes and I am afraid to say you are about to make that list for a lot of us.

For those prop makers that are reading this, go with your gut! If you think you are doing a good job and creating great props, keep going! Just because one photographer won’t photograph or buy your products, doesn’t mean that there aren’t others who wouldn’t jump at the chance to. For as many great prop makers out there, there are just as many great photographers.

anonymous - wait. we don’t want tiebacks with dangly ties (photo 3) then the very next photo is a dangly tieback…and in use?????? darling emma, how does this make you feel???????? ROFL

Patricia - I’ve only started selling my props recently, it took me a long time to gain the confidence to do so. I asked a photographer if I could send her a few items of my best work and today she shared this blog post. I’m open to constructive criticism but I feel gutted by this information – Rachel seems so admired as a photographer and it seems she speaks for many.

Another prop maker - Hi Rachel. You are certainly entitled to your opinions. And everyone has different taste and style. As a prop maker I appreciate your thoughts on props as I am often wondering what photogs want. I myself don’t like the look of crochet, that’s why I only knit props. I wanted to comment on prop pricing. As far as yarn goes, there is some nice quality acrylic yarn that is not shiny at all. And it has the advantage of being machine washable. The problem with nice wool or alpaca is that it’s quite pricey. Many photographers would not recognize the different yarns just from an image and balk at paying the higher price those props would demand. It’s also true some big name vendors use acrylics or joann yarn and charge an arm and a leg. So many of us starting out are reluctant to invest in a lot of pricey yarns. Not they are not a pleasure to work with. Also wanted to mention those nice, tight fitting, fine gauge knits are worked on needles the size of spaghetti, sometimes smaller, and therefore take more time. So why not make a hat out of joann roving with needles the size of pencils that would take maybe an hour to make and charge forty dollars? It works for some vendors.
All this being said, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good to know.

propvendor2 - I do not agree with some of your comments. As I think you should add that if you do not want “us” to use “cheap” yarn perhaps you are actually willing to pay for an item to be knit with expensive yarn. Or to pay at all! I am tired of photographers begging for props. I receive emails asking for free props almost daily. Why is your time worth more than mine?? I do offer a thank you discount for any photos I am tagged in but I see no need to give away my time!

Heather - Rachel, I think this is a great article. As you stated before you even started, this is all in your opinion. I am just starting out in photographer…I mostly do wedding right now until I gain the finances to invest in some studio equipment. I follow you on FB and IG and I am now inspired to do newborn photography! This article is a great starting point for someone who admires your work. Each photographer has his/her own style, but we all have to start somewhere.

For those who are confused with the preference in the stretchy headbands and then the use of a tie-back in the following photo…Miss Emma is wide awake, which could have been the influence behind the use of the tie-back. It could also be that Rachel adores that particular piece with all of its detail, and it just happened to be a tie-back.

I think it’s fantastic that every prop maker is putting themselves out there and trying to make a living….but Rachel is also trying to make a living. Again, we all have to start somewhere, and from there we all figure out our style/preferences. You all need to keep up all your hard work…photographers and prop makers alike.

anonymous - Rachel, I have followed you for many years. This latest post I find saddening. You may not want it to seem snotty and snooty, but that is how I read it, and how I am afraid it comes off. some points:

1. You say to use organic materials dainty, something a small baby would look ” right ” in..but didn’t you take a photograph or an infant on a motorcycle ? How much more can you say ” this thing does not really belong with a new born ” than chrome, gasoline, metal and road dirt ?

2. The tie backs photo was a fail…

3. Don’t copy…have you ever had an original thought in your life ? I have seen many copies of your poses all over the internet.

4. when you first started out I believe you had a lot of parental help with loans. Many ppl do not have the same luxury. Keep this in mind.

Mean really is not in style, Rachel

Lindsay - Wow…just wow! I am not saying that you don’t have valid points, but you clearly don’t understand fiber arts since it’s not what you do. You may be able to appreciate a beautiful piece, but unless you know ALL of your fibers and ALL of the techniques, then I would say that you are a bit off the mark on what makes a quality fiber and what technique is easier or not! SHINY does not always mean it’s cheap. There are MANY quality fibers with sheen. MANY!! And as for which is easier, knit or crochet, that too depends. I do both, so yes, I have an educated opinion. And whether a piece is knit or crocheted makes no difference to it’s quality. Thankfully, I would never ask you to photograph my work [you're to uppity for my taste]! And double thankful that I can photograph it myself.

Prop Maker - Patricia – Please don’t let this article get you down. This is not what the normal photographer is wanting. There are so many great photographers who are going to be willing to photograph your items. Please don’t get discouraged.

This is exactly why this article should not have been written. You are going to discourage people from trying to follow their dreams. Instead of encouraging people, you are making them feel bad.

As some of my favorite quotes go:

“Girls compete with each other, real women empower one another.” Why would you not want to empower every woman who is trying to start out on their own. I know I sure would.

“The things you are passionate about aren’t random, they are your calling.”
You obviously found your calling. Why try and discourage others from following theirs?

Shame on you. I can’t make you take this post down but I really wish you would have the compassion to do it.

Fiber Artist That Cannot Knit - I can tell you were trying to “help” by writing this, but to me, someone who doesn’t even KNOW you or your work, I despise this. You sound like someone on a high horse frowning down on someone who uses yarn from Hobby Lobby. REALLY???? Ive seen PLENTY of nice yarns there, and NOT cheap yarn for that matter. I have seen PLENTY of photographers buy fabric for backdrops from Joanns. Why does that matter????? Just because you snub your nose at a store doesn’t make it less of a quality place to shop for materials. As someone stated before, a lot of prop makers also cater to parents, grandparents, etc. Im not even going to rant about your “Do Not Copy” because you don’t deserve my respective thoughts on that one. Maybe instead of schooling prop vendors on what they should be using or making, maybe you need to take a trip to the store and look around you. Im a so annoyed with this right now mostly because I cannot tell you how many times I have had a photographer want or even worse EXPECT a FREE product from me. I cannot tell you how many times Ive been asked to trade for images. I cannot tell you how many times I have worked my rear off for a “big” photographer only to NEVER see a picture in return. Thats money wasted, even worse its time away from my kiddos wasted. I cannot tell you how many times I have had one try to get a price cut from me, or ask me to try using a less expensive yarn/material to lower the cost. PLEASE. Im sure you only wanted to write this because of you are annoyed by all the “little people who make crap” bugging your inbox daily. I suggest you step off the high horse and do some self reflecting for a bit.

PropVendorD - I want to call you out on BS in EVERY single post. #1 not all cheap yarn is shiny & not all expensive yarn is non-shiny. #2 you say you want hats that fit well, but that bonnet in the first pic does NOT fit that baby. You can see how it’s angled away from her right ear. #3 you detest tiebacks, but there’s a tieback in the 4th pic. #4 some people LIKE shiny, colorful props… and there are lots of photographers that do VERY well (like Katie Mathews) with work like that. #5 (which you marked as a 2nd #4, so way to be all smart ass, but not know how to count)… #6 (5) is actually a good point & some people make ugly stuff… but if you don’t like what people have to offer, just politely say no. #7 (6)… if I sent you a FREE hat & you let me use the pic, I should NOT have to send you another FREE item to say “thank you”. We traded. The deal is done. Thankyouverymuch. #8 (7) How do you know that YOUR vendor isn’t the copy cat & you just put the REAL original vendor on your “do not use” list? In this world of yarn & fabric, there is NOTHING original anymore, and it would do you kindly to be more supportive of other WAHMs out there, instead of putting them all on blast like this. If you want to use the same 5-6 prop vendors & snub the rest, this entire blog post could have just said, “I have a few vendors I prefer to use, and I’m not accepting prop-for-photo trades at this time.” No need to be such a snob! Jesus.

Kalynne - Hey “way to be all smart ass, but not know how to count” vendor: In her post about sending a goodie as a thank you, she doesn’t say if you send a free prop and they let you use an image for advertising send something to thank them. She said if you buy it full price from their shop, and the vendor asks for the image and you say yes, that’s when you send a thank you. Let’s just reuse one of your ugly comments (since nothing is original anymore): “way to be all snarky, but not know how to read”.

Nina - I don’t know Rachel….I’ve been a long time follower. I’ve purchased your eworkshops, I’ve followed your on various social media sites and for some time you have rubbed me the wrong way. You come across as pompous and arrogant as if everyone “aspires” to be just like you, professionally and personally. It gets annoying…real quick (Seriously….enough with the selfies). After reading this post I just feel like enough is enough. There are so many great photographers out there who are so incredibly nice and generous ….so many talented vendors out there who are starting somewhere. I just think it’s time I part ways and give my time and attention to photographers who deserve it. Good luck with everything.

Anonymous - I know you have worked hard to get where you are and that is an amazing accomplishment. You have many that look up to you and with that is responsibility, fair or unfair. While I have opinions on this of course, I would just say that words can be powerful. They are your opinions yes, but since you do have such a following, I would read over them a few times before posting. I think you do amazing work, but when you’re a role model, anything you do and say is weighted differently. Just my 2 cents.

Lisa S - Rachel, I have followed you as well over the years and at first I thought you seemed sweet and kind, but now I have changed my mind. I have to agree with the above poster . Enough with the selfies. & taking photos of your sick child ? Outrageous. Put down the camera and for gosh sakes take care of your kid ! It offended me when you find out your daughter has possible pneumonia and the next frame is talking what a great dad Nick is. Really ? How come you both are not taking your child home and calling it a day. You act like you are a self made wahm. You have been given a lot of help over the years , including your own father handing your husband his job. Can you not give a hand up to others like your family has done for you and your husband ? It makes me sick to see some of the garbage you type out..enough already.

Anonymous - Seriously? I too, have followed you for years and admired your work. As a vendor, I find this post incredibly pompous, not to mention, inaccurate. You do this a lot lately, post some obnoxious, self-righteous rant, all the while claiming that you’re “just trying to help”. Please. I see through that shocked, deer in the headlights look. Clearly, you do not know much about fibers, or the difference between knit and crochet, but yet you want to educate us, the vendors? Do you know how many photogs have contacted me asking for free stuff? How many times I have sent (requested!) stuff out, only to not get photos in return? How many times I’ve been disappointed in the photos that I did get? (GASP, yes, it does happen.) I could go on, but my point is this, I realize there could be many factors as to why I didn’t get what was promised AND I am not a professional photog, so who am I to tell them how to do their job? I learn from experience, and I have established wonderful working relationships with a select few photogs, and they are the ones I choose to send my items to. I just quietly (and politley!) decline other requests (and ignore those who go on to berate me for it). Never in a million years would I write up a blog post directed to all up and coming photogs, telling them how to go about running their business. Nor, would I speak on behalf of most, or the majority of other vendors. Seems to me, that like me, you choose to work with a select few vendors, which is fine, but then leave it at that and just politely decline other requests. This is completely uncalled for. I know, I know, you’re just trying to help. *Rolls eyes.*

Fran - Rachel,
I don’t know you personally, but have followed you for what seems like forever now, on facebook and Instagram. While I don’t have much to say about this blog because I am not a vendor, but I do know that these personal attacks on you and your family are ridiculous. I have followed yor work because you inspire me to be better, in not only photography but as a mother. The people who say you take too many selfies and don’t care for your children obviously have way tooooo much time on their hands and just want to bring you down. I think your Instagram alone shows how much you love your husband and children, and that’s what I love about following you! You show that you aren’t just a famous photographer, you’re a mom. Who cares if you post a picture of a sick Josie then right after post a picture about how amazing your husband is? Who says you chose Instagram over taking care of a sick child? I wouldn’t let any of these people get ypu down, as they don’t even know you. They just want to hurt you. Again, I don’t know you personally, but I absolutely adore you and even more so now! Just know that you inspire people everyday! :)

Karen - Why do you feel it is alright to dictate to someone, when it is free? It sounds like you feel like you are so above reproach. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if someone told you how to pose a newborn.

danielle - so, you’re going to slam rachel for enjoying instagram and documenting each day of her kids’ lives – the good and the bad – that she should be using that time to do non-media things only, while ya’ll use your time to trash her for it? woah! dream big. golf clap. ya’ll are either stay at home moms using your time as you see fit, single peeps using your time as you see fit, or working peeps doing it on your bosses hour. get a life.

Another Prop Vendor - Is the photographer not getting any exposure when the vendor posts a professional photo on their business page???? Why is it necessary to send them something for free just because they paid full price for the item in the photograph? It’s really a win-win for both the photographer and vendor as both gain more exposure. If you want something for free, you should ask for it, not expect it.

Amy B - Eh….who cares. Prop vendors i guess. Way to get the clicks Rachel. LOL.

Henriette - 7. DON’T COPY. So why you support vendors who totally copied and stole ideas from lil’ owl knitts?

Anon - I understand having your own opinion about Rachel’s blog post. She posted her opinion so you should be able to post your opinion ABOUT THE POST. When I start attacking her family and the way she handles her personal life, that’s just wrong. We aren’t 14. You’re just making yourself look insecure. So what if she posts selfies. That’s her prerogative. Get over it or stop following her.

Angelica - Rachel, I LOVE this post. Couldn’t agree with you more. The thinner, less busy props tend to resonate better with my style, too. Unfortunately it took me a few years (and too much $$) spent on the opposite type of props before I realized why I was unhappy with the over all look of my images. It just wasn’t me. You are such an inspiration to me and I love following all of your posts. You give me hope that I can be a great mom as well as a great photographer. I’m sorry these guys are reacting so negatively to this. There are approximately 764 billion more people who are 100% pro-Rach… Don’t let these goobers get you down. Do werk, gurl. ;-)

Sindy - I’ve been a long time follower of your work. I’m neither a prop vendor not a professional photographer, just a photo enthusiast! I can’t agree or disagree with most of the comments on here as I don’t know what it goes into making and selling such props. But I do have to disagree with not using material from certain stores. It’s not fair to tell people that they will be looked down upon for using less expensive materials. Obviously they’re using them for a reason, they can’t afford the fancy stuff. Who says they can’t produce gorgeous products out of it?
On the other hand, all those people attacking Rachel for posting too many selfies and telling her to take care of her sick daughter… are you actually serious?!! It’s HER life and her business. She can do whatever she wants as long as she’s not hurting anyone. She didn’t come knocking on your door asking you to follow her fan page or blog. You do not know what kind of a mother she is. Leave and her family alone.
Peace :)

LMac - “Some of the advice may be hard for you vendors to swallow. Some of it may be offensive to photographers who may choose to style their sessions differently from me. Please keep in mind that my word isn’t the Bible of newborn photography, just my opinion.”

Apparently none of you with the nasty comments didn’t read this sentence. Its her opinion and she’s entitled to it. Stop acting like a bunch of 14 year olds!! I don’t know Rachel and neither do any of you, but I do have manners and I would never hide behind my computer and say such nasty demeaning things to a person I’ve never even met before! GROW UP!

Trae - Thanks for taking the time to write this article and share your opinions. I know articles like this are controversial and are meant to be helpful. It seems as though it hit a nerve with some of your readers, sadly. I just wanted to say thanks for being willing to share your thoughts and encourage aspiring vendors. (even if they don’t see it that way) I received some really hard words when I started out — and I chose to use them to make me BETTER!! And here I am— I have been knitting newborn props for 4 years and selling them for 3. (and pretty good at it too)

The vendor world is cut throat and difficult (just like the photography end can be) I appreciate you calling out to us to create new and unique items. That’s what keeps this industry fresh and new.
xoxox

Christie - Wow—I think everyone got on the bandwagon to slam Rachel over this post. Isn’t the false bravery we feel and use to be rude to others over the anonymous web disgusting? I hate reading slamming comments anywhere. How ugly to be a wahm trying to make a living for your family and spending time slamming another wahm for how SHE spends her time all the while you are making Rachel feel like crap. Don’t like her post? Suddenly after years of following her she’s no longer worthy of your anonymity in her life?? Sorry, but then just stop following her–she’ll be non the wiser and you wouldn’t have said horrible things to make her feel bad. And to attack her husband and how he got his job—-really?? How absolutely sophomoric! BTW, I don’t always agree with Rachel or ‘like’ her IG updates…but I would never slam her over it just as I wouldn’t want anyone to do it to me. It’s very basic guys—the Golden Rule!

vendor - one thing to remember Rachel, you really don’t know about materials used and their cost if you aren’t out there finding them and making them. you have an opinion yes, but that’s all it is. we can’t tell you what equipment you should be using. and you are the one turning out the beautiful images with whatever you are using, I’m suspecting that you could produce something gorgeous even on cheaper equipment than someone else with less talent could on THE nicest camera out there. when someone has talent they have talent and they can turn almost anything into art. with that said, I scour and hunt for the most amazing vintage lace and materials at yard sales, goodwill, antique shops, grandma’s attics. that’s where you find the bargains and the unique products. I have also used lovely wool yarn from Walmart. that is NOT shiny, that is super soft and is 100% wool. you made good points….little confused on your tiebacks comment, but other than that, I think you’re a little unexperienced on the materials department.

vendorABC - As a vendor I did not find this bad in any way. It is helpful and gives a lot of tips….the only people who are getting defensive over this are probably ones who buy supplies based on lowest price versus quality ( I am a firm believer you get what you pay for), cant get their sizing right, dont care to put extra time into details and are reaching out to the wrong photographers to showcase their work…

This is helpful, as a vendor its nice to know qualities that are looked for. If you dont like what is posted here then clearly Rachel is not the photographer for you, your styles clear are not a match and guess what?! that is OK, that is nothing to be angry about…there are thousands of photographers to reach out to…

As for the photographers- clearly you follow her work, at least majority of you commenting here. Therefore, in a sense, you like her style. So to get all angry and down right mean over this is hypocritical!!!! Its her opinion and I am sure many agree to disagree but if you follow someone and then bash them then maybe you should not follow….

I have seen so many posts that are pure evil!!! To turn a post about props into telling someone how to raise their children deserves a slap in the face!! It comes off as pure jealousy! Congratulations on proving that under the veil of your anonymity.

Melissa Donaldson - Love love love your work Rachel! This is great, thank you so much for writing this! your so inspiring!

Sarah - LOVE love your work as well Rachel … The personal attacks on hear sicken me. Rachel has taken time to write up a list of ‘how to’ for vendors to get there work photographraphed by her and you attack her and her family for it. We dont need to agree with ppl in order to respect them xoxo

Erica - I agree with the points you are trying to make, but I agree with others that your tone is very condescending. Your advice is also wrong in that prop vendors can do very well making shiny knit, glitzy, humongous flowery props. There are a lot of photographers (and parents) who love the look of giant headbands and crocheted hats. I am like you, though, and that’s not my style. I am a photographer, not a vendor, but I do make almost all my own props. But I am on many prop selling boards and the vendors who sell that stuff you are talking about do very well. Vendors do not need to cater to your specific style to be successful. As for crocheting vs. knitting, I know how to do both. I find knitting to be a lot easier. It’s harder to mess up. However, crocheting is much much faster and I think that’s why that stuff is cheaper. You can bang out a newborn hat in about 30 minutes, but when I knit one it takes about 2-3 hours. Since I learned how to knit, I stopped crochet completely because like you, I don’t like the look of it. It looks bulky and distracting to me. You make good points, but just remember that there are tons of vendors who do the exact opposite of what you say and still do very, very well.

Marge - I really appreciate this post, I have been making some props for my daughter (who has been to one of your workshops) and she has also been very helpful with suggestions. I do love making the props but I am struggling to get a wider audience, maybe the goods are not to peoples liking? So I have refined my designs and hopefully made them more appealing, just need a few more customers now! Any takers??
p.s. Rachel liked one of my pics on IG! I was so excited! Lol!

Jen - One thing you should know about the difference between crochet and knit is that all knits can be made on a machine in China. Crochet cannot be reproduced with a machine. Crochet can be just as fine as knitting…chunky is just a different style of crocheting. There are many more textured and intricate stitches with crocheting but knitting produces much of the same stitch. True a lot of beginners take up crocheting but once crochet and knit both reach an advanced level they both look awesome, so please don’t compare beginner crochet to advanced knitting.

I am another person who does not appreciate your post and finds it condescending to vendors, like you are the master of this industry and vendors are working for you? What is disappointing to me though is that you are commenting on things that you are obviously not very educated on…like the use of fibers and techniques. Further, you do it in a way of saying that this is how all photogs think but it is really just your own personal opinion and preference…and is incredibly uninformed. Women should empower other women and when we don’t, especially to other mothers trying to stay home with children and support themselves, then it gets really sad. I would hate for any vendors to get discouraged with this very bleak and opinionated post.

Savanna - I understand that your trying to help and you have some annoyances that sounds like you needed off your chest about vendors..but like a lot have said..this can come off pretty condescending.
Im a new vendor and all I could have afforded at first was “cheap” yarn from Joannes. I started doing this to help my husband but not leave my 9 month old daughter in the care of someone else. I had always wanted to try photo props and thankfully a local AMAZING photographer asked me to make her some mohair bonnets. Which I crocheted. Which takes me about an hour and a half each newborn sized bonnet. So, I do want to encourage you that crochet can look beautiful, delicate, and timeless. There are just more difficult stitches that you have to learn in order to get those looks. Idk who you are, personally, but it sounds like your pretty known which would be understandable from your photos here. They are beautiful. :)
I actually typed in “what do people think of newborn props” and this is what came up. Lol.
Anyways, I do want to encourage vendors that she may have some truth to what she is saying even if majority of it is wrong. She may have made some mistakes in her blog but we should give her the benefit of the doubt. I know, personally, I probably wouldn’t have become a vendor after reading this two months ago, lol. But I have received a lot of love and encouragement from well known vendors and photographers.
I ASKED them for feedback. ;)

If you are someone who is just starting out as a vendor don’t let this discourage you. If you like the style that she is against, that’s ok because there are photographers who will like it. Some photographers like tiebacks (I make them :) ).
If you want that delicate, knit look when you crochet..I encourage you to start watching youtube videos of lace stitches.
You can say no to photographers if they want you to send a free product. I have, so far, been a little put off by photogs wanting free products in return of pictures. For example, I will lose $20 on my mohair bonnet that I sell and a hour and a half sending my product to a photog who wants a free product.
I simply cannot afford the money or time to do that. I can’t. So, when a vendor denies you, photogs, don’t take it personally..it’s most likely because the vendor can’t afford it.
I now use higher quality yarn because I can somewhat afford it but I can’t afford to give free products away yet.
I give discounts now.

Anyways, I don’t condone the bashing of Rachel’s personal life at all. I don’t agree with some of what she said but I think we as vendors and photographers can all learn from some of it.

Rachel, I encourage you to put yourself in our shoes. We have annoyances, too, but, I try my hardest to just shrug it off and let it go.

We should all be in this together. We all love the same thing! Babies, families, photography, art, and handmade props. :)

<3