Avery James Photography

Avery James Photography

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zenka Nails Giveaway Winner!

Uhmmm...yea...so I kinda said that this giveaway was over on November 6...and here it is Dec. 16.  Yea...let's just say that the holiday photo season completely took over my life.  I've been going nonstop for a month and a half and I'm just now FINALLY able to start catching up on everything else outside of work.  And there's a lot to catch up on, including this giveaway.

So without further adieu, think of this as an awesome Christmas gift from Zenka Nails and myself!

The winner of the amazing Spa Pedicure with Zenka Nails is....

::drum roll::

Lucky comment number 6!!

And that comment belongs to:

I'll be contacting you shortly to claim your prize!!!

Thank you to everyone who entered!  Be sure to check out my review and their information on this awesome company here: Zenka Nails Review

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011!

I hope everyone is having a fantabulous Halloween and that you got to do some fun stuff with the kiddies or your friends or fam or whomever this weekend! :)  I went to 2 different Halloween parties (adult parties) dressed as a firefighter.  Gotta love our heroes. ;)  I also painted pumpkins with my son (waaaay easier and more fun, in my opinion, than carving them!). :) :)

Here's a few pics to share - a few of my son, our pumpkins, and his Halloween costume, and then the rest of a few other Halloween cuties that I met up with! :)  I don't have any pics of me dressed up...I think there's a couple floating around out there, but I haven't seen them yet. :) :)

What did you and/or your kid(s) dress up as for Halloween this year???

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Giveaway and Review for Zenka Nails - Manhattan Beach

I'm so honored to have been given this fabulous opportunity with Zenka Nails at Trilogy Spa in Manhattan Beach, CA.  My awesome friend, Jasmine, works there and contacted me to generously offer a Spa Indulgence Pedicure in exchange for a review on my blog.  And as we were saying our goodbye's, she said that I could also give away the same amazing package to a lucky blog reader!!  Trust me - you WANT this.  Promise.  :)

First the review, then the giveaway details!

Oh, and please pardon all the pictures of my piggies!  They aren't the prettiest things around by any means, but I couldn't do a review on a pedicure without having pics of my toes and the process to go along with it! :) :)

Zenka Nails at Trilogy Spa is located at 451 Manhattan Beach Blvd. in the Metlox Plaza in Manhattan Beach, CA. just up the street from the pier.  Right next to the super chic Shade Hotel and alongside tons of other cute boutiques and restaurants. (Contact: 310.374.3600)

Upon entering the Trilogy Spa, you're greeted by the very welcoming lobby and front desk ladies (there might be men too, but I didn't see any on my visit).  I was then whisked away into the nail spa area which was a very cozy room with 2 cushy seats side by side with a small table in between, a curtained area with a manicure table to the side, a television with headphones, magazines, and relaxing music playing in the background.  Very much like a spa atmosphere versus the typical large nail salon with 20+ seats, tons of chatter, and background noise.  This is a great spot to come with a girlfriend to relax and catch up on gossip, or to just come and relax by yourself.

I was also told that there's a rooftop area for nails - sounds heavenly, but I didn't get a chance to see it on this visit. :)

I was then introduced to my AMAZING nail tech, Valery.  She was super sweet and made me feel relaxed and confident in her work.  She's been doing nails for 5 years now and has worked with several celebrity clients as well.  Prior to nails she was a masseuse which translates into - she gives great foot and reflexology massages in her pedis!  :) :)

She started off by soaking my feet in a warm, foamy fizzy bath of rock salt.
Next she worked at removing my nail polish....which happened to be many, very heavy coats of glittery polish.  Not easy to take off, but she was a trooper and kept at the stubborn polish. :)

Next she cut and filed my toenails making them all pretty and straight :)

Next up was a hibiscus and tiger lily sugar scrub treatment.  I love sugar scrubs personally because they exfoliate and all that good stuff, but aren't as harsh as a salt scrub...I have very dry skin so the salt isn't always the best thing for me.

After rinsing the scrub off, Valery then proceeded on to the next treatment which was a detoxing seaweed wrap.  This detoxes your skin of impurities and opens up the pores.  She rubbed the mixture over my feet and then wrapped them up like little babies in warm towels. :)

She let the seaweed wrap soak in for a bit and we talked about another service that she does.  As far as she knows, last she checked she's the only one in the South Bay that offers the following service:

Minx Nails

They're basically little foil-like nail coverings with various designs.  They don't chip like polish or anything like that and on the toes they can last for 8+ weeks...depends on the wearer and how much you put your feet through. ;)  You can also get then on your fingernails.

Here's a couple of examples:

And here's an example of how they look on the toes:

Because it's not a polish, you can really achieve that metallic look which is super cool.  I'm all about the shine myself.  And I love all the fun designs you can get!

It's a difficult process to do and nail techs must be trained and certified in doing this process, so it can get a little pricey - but totally worth it if you want something unique that isn't really offered in the area right now!  (Price list link below)

OK - back to my pedi.  After the seaweed wrap soaked in a bit, Valery took the towels off and rubbed all the green mixture off.  She then moved on to the best part of the whole experience - the foot and leg massage!  She used this plumeria and hibiscus lotion that smelled sooooo good - a nice, light, fruity/floral mixture.  And as I noted earlier, she has that professional massage background, so she definitely knows what she's doing.

And so...the massage was so relaxing that I completely forgot to take a picture, lol.  So no visuals on this one, haha.  But just picture me sitting there in complete bliss and relaxation. :)

:) :)

After that it was time to put on the polish.  I requested french tips, my favorite!  She polished away and sculpted those tips.  She's very quick and precise.  Great lines and technique.

I even got the fancy fan treatment to help it dry a bit. :)

And here is the lovely final product!
Please don't mind that ugly cut on my left big toe - Apparently I forget how to walk sometimes and I stepped on my own toe last week with my heel.....very hard....it still hurts. :(

I love them!  And I felt super happy and relaxed when I left.  And of course being right down the street from the beach amongst all the beachy shops just added to the experience when I left. :) :)

Oh - and before I forget, if you get a nail treatment with Zenka Nails, you can add on usage of the Trilogy Spa amenities for $25 (regularly $45)!  A great way to relax before/after your manis and pedis!


OK - now on to the FUN part!!


I encourage you to enter this giveaway, and do as many of the entries as you can because this is a fabulous package to win!

One lucky Avery James Photography reader will win the same Spa Indulgence Pedicure package that I did from Zenka Nails at Trilogy Spa.  Zenka Nails at Trilogy Spa is located in Manhattan Beach, CA. so you'll need to be local in order to claim this prize.

You must do the Mandatory entry below in order to be eligible for any of the Extra Entries.

Remember to leave your email address in each entry so I know how to reach you if you win!


What part of the spa package described in my post above do you think will be your favorite?


(Do any or all of the following, leaving a separate comment for each entry letting me know which task you completed)
  • Share this post on your Facebook (Copy and paste the following text and link (or you can make your own text up): Free Spa Indulgence Pedicure being given away for Zenka Nails in Manhattan Beach on Avery James Photography's blog! http://averyjamesphotography.blogspot.com/2011/10/giveaway-and-review-for-zenka-nails.html  ) - worth 2 entries, leave 2 separate comments
    • You can post to Facebook once a day and get 2 entries each time (remember to leave 2 separate comments each time)
  • "Like" Avery James Photography on Facebook (here) (Leave Facebook name - must be from personal page, not a fan page)
  • "Like" my personal travel agent company page (specializing in Disney vacations!), Ever After Vacations, on Facebook (here) (Leave Facebook name - must be from personal page, not a fan page)
  • "Like" Zenka Nails on Facebook (here)
  • Follow Zenka Nails on Twitter - @ZENKASTYLE (leave Twitter ID)
  • Follow Avery James Photography on Google Friend Connect
  • "Like" my friend's t-shirt company iNMAAKOi on Facebook and tell them @Avery James Photography sent you!
  • Follow @AveryJamesPhoto on Twitter (leave twitter ID)
This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Time on November 6, 2011.  The winner will be selected by random draw and will have 48 hours to respond to my notification email before another winner is selected.

Rosie and Family

Happy Hump Day everyone! :)  Wednesday already...where does the week go??  :)

Any fun plans for anyone out there this upcoming weekend?  It's almost Halloween!!  Then the onslaught of holiday fun starts, crazyyyyy...the year is coming to a close already.

As for myself, I'm doing Halloween costume mini-sessions this Saturday for the kiddies (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123889467718115) and a beach shoot on Sunday.  Other than that, just some fun time with my little one and my love. :)  Should be a great weekend!

Speaking of beach shoots, below are some pictures from a shoot I did about a month ago with 2 adorable twins and their big brother.  They all had birthdays right around the same time so they wanted a picture for the party invitation and for the cake topper.  They went with this first one of all 3 of them.  I photographed the birthday party as well so I'll try and post those pictures next! :)

I must admit though, I have sooooo much respect for parents of twins or greater multiples...it's not easy to take care of 1 toddler let alone 2 of them at the exact same age (or to photograph them!)...plus older/younger siblings on top of that.  I tip my hat to the hard work that you do. :) :)

Have a great week everyone! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with little 'ol me :)

A friend of mine is doing a project in her Small Business Management class and asked me if she could do the project on me and my business.  Of course I said "yes!"  What an honor. :) :)

She sent me some interview questions the other day and I responded to them yesterday...in my usual fashion they became very wordy answers, but it was really nice to be forced to sit down and think about my responses and really put into text how I feel about various things.

Halfway through the novel I ended up writing her, I realized that there might actually be some interesting info in here that others might either get a little inspiration from or just be interested in reading in order to learn a little bit more about me and my business.  So I decided I was going to post my answers here for all to see. :)

Once she finishes with her project, I'll also post that here to share with everyone! :)

Happy reading. :)


1. Why did you start your own business?
    A few different reasons.  Ever since I was a very young child, I have always been finding ways to make extra money before I was old enough to get a payroll type job.  I sold anything I could get my hands on or could figure out how to make on my own.  I think the entrepreneurial spirit has just always been embedded in me.  
    Once I was old enough for a job, I realized that I really didn’t like having a boss for the most part, I didn’t like being on someone else’s schedule, and I really didn’t like working my butt off to make someone else money.  I also loved the thought of working from the comfort of my own home and being able to walk away from my desk whenever I felt like it.
    The real drive to push even harder for my own business came once I had children though.  I knew that I did not want my children growing up in a daycare or with a babysitter.  I wanted to be involved with their school and classroom once they started.  I wanted to be able to take vacations with them and not have to worry about whether I could get the time off from work.  I wanted to be able to take a day or two off to take care of them if they were sick without feeling guilty for abandoning anyone at work with deadlines, etc.
    And lastly, I wanted a future that I could be really proud of.  To be able to provide for myself and my family by the work of my two hands and my own brain power.  To be able to introduce myself as a successful business owner.  There’s definitely a sense of pride in having your own business.

    2. Did you create a business plan? If so , where did you go for advice regarding business development? 

    I did not create a business plan per say.  I’m really not the most organized, Type A personality...so a written business plan just wasn’t my style, nor would it have really helped me personally.  I suppose if I needed investors or anything like that then I would have needed one though.
    With that said, I did create somewhat of a business strategy in my head.  My brain never stopped thinking of ideas, processes, long-term goals, short-term goals, etc.  I was constantly planning things and changing plans and figuring out better ways to do things.  I feel like I need that flexibility to change things as circumstances change or as results don’t come through the way they’re expected.  I don’t know how much I would be tied down by a written business plan if I had one that I tried to stick to.

    3. Did you do any market research prior to starting your company? Do you do market research now?

    I did a little market research prior to starting, but not a ton.  I didn’t really know exactly, specifically what I wanted to do at first, and with my line of work, it was more important at the moment to perfect what I was doing before I worried too much about what everyone else was doing.  I really focused in the beginning on taking as many photos as I could of everything and everyone.
    Once I started getting a little work under my belt and a portfolio halfway put together, then I started doing a lot more research into the industry.  I started looking at hundreds of photographer’s portfolios to get a better idea of the quality level I needed to strive to be at.  Ideas as to different promotions, different prop ideas, different locations, poses, styles, etc.  I soaked up everything I saw and then tried to figure out how to take all that knowledge to make it my own.
    I also did a lot of research on industry standard pricing and package options.  It was a little more difficult with this because a lot of photogs do not post their pricing directly on their website.  And there is also such a huge range when it comes to pricing – all based on experience level, quality, location, and clientele.  In general the prices were VERY high for a lot of custom, family photographers (which is what I had at this point set out to do), but their quality was also very high and they had worked themselves in with a clientele that could afford these prices without blinking an eye.  This type of clientele is not the majority of America though, and I wanted to come in lower with a larger pool of clientele to work with.

    4. How did you identify/evaluate the opportunity to no longer work the average 9 to 5 but to work for yourself instead? 

    The opportunity pretty much presented itself to me.  My work load with the photography was getting extremely busy.  I was working a full time job, practically a full time photography job, plus I had a family at home to take care of and give my attention to.  Just as things were becoming overwhelmingly stressful and too much for me to handle, I found out that my boss was moving to another state.  That past year I had been working so hard with the photography, but was scared to make that jump into doing it full time for financial reasons.  I felt like I had needed someone to basically push me into the deep end so that I could sink or swim.  When my boss announced he was moving, therefore leaving me without a job, I realized and believed in my heart that this was that push I had been waiting for.  From that point on, I started preparing for the life of a full-time photographer, and when my job officially ended, I jumped off that deep end ledge and have been swimming ever since. :)

    5.How do you handle the potential risks and the possibility of failure? 

    I have to be honest, much of the way I handle all of the risks is through my religious faith.  I know that’s not the most business-minded answer, but it’s the honest truth.  I’m aware that at any day everything could go under and I would have to start over or go back to working in the corporate world.  It’s a real fear that is always under the surface, but that fear is also what motivates me to work harder, find new ideas, better my work, and network more.  When things get really overwhelming and uncertain, I literally sit myself down and pray about it, I ask for help, and I accept the fact that my future is always uncertain and that I will need to find a way to provide for myself and my family no matter what the outcome.  
    I think the key to handling risks and the possibility of failure, is to accept that it’s possible, but to also know that if you’re confident in what you are doing, and if you want it bad enough and can work hard enough at it to prove it, then anything is possible.  You need to reinvent yourself sometimes to keep up with the changes around you.  You can’t be so stuck in your ways that you think there’s only one way to do something.  You need to constantly be looking around you to see where the consumer tide is headed and then point your sail in that direction and follow the wind.

    6. Have you ever failed in a venture? 

    MANY times!!  I honestly couldn’t even count them all.  Although I don’t know if I would say that I “failed” at them...more just “admitted defeat” and realized that either it just wasn’t meant for me, or that I could already see that it wasn’t going to work out long term and wasn’t worth the time/money investment in it.  Prior to the photography business, I usually had at least 1-2 different business ideas going on in my life at a time.  When I decided to drop one idea, I was already thinking about the next idea.  I’ve done the mainstream businesses like being an Avon representative and a Notary Public...then I’ve also had smaller ideas that I tried to start on my own – photo editing, website building, jewelry making, catering/bartending services, talent management, blogging, candy/soda sales, babysitting, travel agent, etc.  You name it and I’ve probably either attempted it or thought through the idea pretty thoroughly before I decided not to do it.
    I’m not afraid of failing, I’m more afraid of running out of new ideas.

    7. What have you experienced that was a major event or issue? 

    Thankfully I haven’t had to experience anything overly horrible or extreme...yet.  I think the most difficult issues I’ve had to deal with, mainly when I was still working full time at my previous job and trying to juggle the photography and my family on top of that, is when things got REALLY busy around the holiday photo season 2 years ago.  My rates were very low because I was still starting out and playing around with pricing, but because they were so low I had a LOT of clients coming to me for holiday photos.  I also was giving a lot in my packages which was resulting in a lot of post-processing work...hours and hours of work per client.  If all of the work had been spread out over 6 months or so, that would have been fine – but since they were holiday photos, everything was being condensed into a 2 month period with many people waiting till the last minute to do photos and then needing an immediate turnaround.  Needless to say I was bombarded practically overnight with photo shoots, post-processing, client delivery, and lots of difficult to meet deadlines....plus still had to be to work at 7:30am, get off at 4:30pm, commute 30 minutes, pick up my son from daycare, have dinner, then spend a couple hours working on photography before going to bed, then waking up and doing it all over again.  All of this resulted in having really long turnaround times for each client, causing them to get upset and causing me to be stressed out, plus not spending as much time on the pictures as I would like to be able to in order to produce better quality work.  All around not a great time for me.

    8. What is your definition of an entrepreneur? 

    Someone who has vision, drive, and a hard-working personality that can actually take the steps needed to make their dreams reality.  It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s a whole other realm to have the motivation and dedication to do everything that needs to be done in order to make it possible.  You need to be able to take very calculated risks...throwing one’s time and money around at every opportunity that presents itself does not make an entrepreneur, it makes for a foolish man.  Not every idea is made for every person.  You need to find something that fits YOU and your personality.  You need a product that’s going to sell itself.  You need a plan that is feasible and will not leave you in debt for decades with absolutely no return.  And you need a backup plan in case it doesn’t work out.  
    An entrepreneur, to me, is someone who can visualize a business, service, or product from the ground up and can see its future vividly.  Someone who wants it bad enough that they’re gonna give 110% to making it work, but that’s also smart enough to walk away, cutting losses, when they know it’s not the right thing for them.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Natalie C.

    How adorable are these little girls???   It must be a wonderful thing to be able to grow up with siblings all close in age.  I wouldn't know as I was an only child for 10 years before I had little sisters...totally different dynamic.  But I would have loved to have a best friend growing up that slept in the bottom bunk and ate cereal with me every morning...oh and of course someone to fight with day in and day out, lol. :)  I think growing up an only child for so long, and then having younger sisters to take care of through my teenage years, taught me to be pretty darn responsible though.  I grew up pretty quickly.  I suppose that is a plus that I can take from my own situation.

    How many of you have siblings?  How many of you are only children?  Close in age or far apart?  Thoughts??

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    DaVita Village Service Days - Inglewood Rogers Park Community Center

    Still playing catch up from some past photo shoots!  I am absolutely determined to get caught up and get everything blogged within the next week or so. :) :)

    Today's post is from an awesome event I was commissioned to shoot for DaVita. Along with being a great company, they also try to involve their employees (teammates as they call them) in various community service events that volunteers within the company help to set up and coordinate.

    This most recent event for their Southern California corporate office was to refurbish the Inglewood Rogers Park Community Center.  Such a fun and active project and I am so honored to have been a part of it through my camera. :)  In addition, they also surprised some local children with backpacks filled with school supplies.

    My favorite part of the day was talking to one of the young girls who has been coming to this community center since she was a small child, and she just was so amazed at all the work being done, how nice everything looked, and how all these people could take the time out of their busy days to come and do this for them.  Things like that moment with this girl is what makes my heart fill with joy.  :) <3

    Here's a bit of what I captured of this great service that the DaVita teammates did.

    Oh - but first is a newspaper article in the Inglewood Today newspaper on the event, featuring my photos! :)  (pg 6 - Sep 8, 2011):