Monday, August 3, 2020

Why You Should Hire a Professional Photographer for ANY Startup / New Business, Big or Small

If you're reading this, you're probably looking for ways to grow and solidify your new business.
And I'm here to help.

Today I want to talk with you guys about the power of photography & social media for your business.

How many times have you heard someone say, "That restaurant is so cute, I saw it on insta!"?
I've heard it time and time again. And I've found myself searching for new photoshoot location,  coffee shops, restaurants, etc., and checking their socials immediately after. Instagram has been the deciding factor on where I choose to take my $$ on numerous occasions. Think about it - you hear about a new coffee shop, and how good their drinks are, and how cute the ambiance is. You check them out on Instagram - and you've fallen in love. You're already texting your girlfriends and planning a girl's day, with a stop to said Cafe on the intinerary.

Starting a new business with solid photography & social media can seriously boost your sales. It can hype up your grand opening & keep the hype going long after.

There are seriously some brands that have solely built their business through the power of social media. 

Let's talk about them.

Black Tap NYC - In 2016, Black Tap created the "crazy shake." Before this, they were a one location small business restaurant in Soho. The power of their marketing and photography when developing this new product took them LITERALLY worldwide. Don't believe me? Click here. Do believe me? Still click here, because you have to see this. Black Tap has since been featured on E! News, Food Network, People Magazine, FORBES!!! Buzzfeed, New York Times, and literally, hundreds more. They now have locations in DOWNTOWN DISNEY ANAHEIM, Las Vegas, 35th Street NYC, Midtown NYC, Soho, Singapore, Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

All because of marketing and photography. 

I can't stress the importance of these things for your business enough. If you aren't going to invest in photography, invest in a decent camera, and acquire some basic photography skills yourself. It can literally take your business to the NEXT level. If you have no idea what you're doing on Instagram, I wrote a blog about it. Click here

In addition, for a limited time, I'm going to be offering 25% off brand photography & social media consultation sessions. To take advantage of this, just shoot me an email (rajottephoto@gmail.com) & mention this blog!

Whether it's a side hustle, full time gig, or a side hustle you want to become a full time gig - I can't wait to see your businesses grow!


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Instagram Tips For Small Businesses & Creators

Hey guys! Long time no blog. Life has been crazy busy lately, and I kinda love it.

I've decided to get back in to it, and I've been getting questions from local businesses & other creators lately, so I figured I'd write a blog about it!

This isn't what I usually write about, but I want to start sharing some practical photography and business advice with you guys!

First things first: The Instagram Feed.

Your instagram feed is super important for growth. It doesn't need to be perfect, but if it's all over the place, and doesn't make sense, users are less likely to follow you. When a new user comes to your page, you want it to POP.

There are a few ways you can keep your feed looking cohesive and high quality. 

My #1 tip for this is investing in a good camera OR a good iPhone. 

Obviously if you're a photographer, you should already have a good camera, and an iPhone isn't going to cut it. But if your a baker, florist, etc, and iPhone could be just fine. For these types of businesses, you just need something that will produce a good quality image.

Once you've got some high quality photos to work with - find an editing style. 

There's a few ways you can do this. My favourite way is my Lightroom preset. You can find mine here! Basically, you want to have consistent tones in your photos. This is way more visually pleasing when you go to someone's page. There's thousands of Lightroom presets on Etsy, all different styles, and super cheap! When you purchase, you'll receive a link to download the preset, it's usually an image. There will be instructions in the email on how to use it, so I'll leave that to whoever you purchase from. And of course, if you purchase from me, feel free to shoot me a message with any questions.

Another way to do this is VSCO! if you search "VSCO themes" in Pinterest, you'll come up with a TON of different presets you can use. These ones are all free! I created a board with some of my favorites!  These work a little differently - they tell you how to create the edit. Basically, you go through each setting in the photo on VSCO and alter it the way the theme you choose tells you. After that, you can select the photo, click "copy edits" and apply it to as many photos as you want! 

After you've got that down - get yourself a feed planning app. My favourite right now is the Plann app.

The goal here is to break up your content - what I mean by 
that, is to make sure that what you're posting flows. If you post two photos of the same thing in a row, it doesn't always look the best. When you break up your content, it looks better on your feed. You can see some below examples to get an idea! The first image has 2 sunset photos in a row, 2 quotes in a row, etc. The second spaces similar photos out nicely.

Now that you've got your content down - let's talk posting & algorithm.
When you post your photo, you want to use all of Instagram's features. Include your location!
Use hashtags! You CAN use up to 30, but I don't recommend it. The more you use, the more spammy you look to Instagram. This can cause them to shadow ban your image. This means that no one searching those hashtags will see your image. I recommend using 5-7 relevant hashtags - 2 larger ones with 1-2 million posts, and the rest smaller ones with 50-500k. This way you are using some popular ones, and some smaller ones where your content won't get lost in a sea of other posts.

ALWAYS change up your hashtags. Keep a list of 30 hashtags you'll use on a regular basis, and keep track of which ones you used last. I wouldn't recommend using the same ones in the same week even. Instagram flags repeated hashtags as spammy behaviour, and could be why you aren't getting seen.

Another important thing is to make sure you aren't using banned hashtags. I included an example of what Instagram might show you if you search a banned hashtag. Some of these are permanently banned, because they encourage behaviour against IG's guidelines, (pornographic content, but you could have guessed not to use tags related to that.) and some get temporarily banned when someone uses it on an image that is against there guidelines. I just recommend searching the ones you plan on using before you post.

Another way you might get yourself shadow banned is following to unfollow. Just don't do it. Instagram has no tolerance for 3rd party apps that allow you to do this anymore, and you could lose your account permanently. And they WILL shadow ban you if they don't permanently ban you. In addition, don't do any spammy behaviours such as liking thousands of images an hour, etc. Engage authentically with the community, but don't go overboard. I recommend no more than 20-30 likes an hour and 5-10 comments per hour.

Once you've posted, engage with your followers. Go through your feed, like images, comment, etc. Reply to ALL the comments you receive, and the faster you reply the better. The first hour your image is live determines how many people Instagram is going to show your image too. AND, they count your replies as engagement, so it only helps you!

The most important thing to remember about Instagram, is that they encourage community. They want to see you supporting others. A great way to keep your engagement up is by regularly being supportive of others. I LOVE to share local businesses! Not only because they regularly engage with me, but because it means so much to them. Share them in your stories, tag them, comment on their posts, etc. If you aren't on Instagram to build a community, then you shouldn't be on Instagram.

That's all for today guys. Hope you guys learned something new! And of course I'm always here to answer any questions you have.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Don't Tell Me That He's Finished Yet

Time flies by so quickly. Especially as an adult, we're all so busy and waiting on the weekend. It's so easy to forget that we aren't living for this 9-5, busy life. We aren't living for our goals and our desires. Not for that promotion, finishing school, buying that house. But when you're working every day towards a goal, it's SO easy to forget: this is not my purpose.

Sure, these things are wonderful. God actually desires that we would have a good life. He wants us to work hard and always honor him in everything we do. But in working towards these goals, we often allow them to define us. And when things don't go as planned..it can feel like the whole world crashed down on you. Despite everything the bible says, it can feel like God got tired of you and walked straight out of your life. Like it's you against the world.

I recently came to a realization that I will be stuck in a very difficult living situation for a significant amount of time. Despite my best efforts, (or bEcAuse I livE in nEw yOrk #screwyoucostofliving)
it just isn't feasible for me to be out on my own. I was in way over my head. Everything felt forced, in my own strength, impossible. I've never felt more deflated.

So I wallowed, got angry with God, and basically decided I was on my own. If you've ever felt that way, you know how quickly your emotions can spiral out of control.

I actually started to be angry with the people around me, for no apparent reason. I would find myself annoyed at the thought of certain people. Picking them apart in my head when they weren't around, and they had no idea I was even upset. Over STUPID things. I was basically a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode on someone. I created a scenario in my head where it was literally me against the world.

I can't tell you that I had this divine realization and all of my hurt and anger was lifted like a weight off my shoulders. I can tell you that I have made the daily decision to to the following.

1. Change my attitude towards other.
When I find myself angry with someone, I think of 5 times they made me smile. Or qualities I love in them. Just positive things. This doesn't mean ignore toxic behaviour, if that friendship truly isn't right for you, but if you find yourself picking someone apart for no apparent reason, that's when you need to do the opposite.

2. Thank God for the way he WILL make.
Thing's didn't work out as planned. God said no. Or not now. Whatever the situation is, know that if you are living out the life God intended for you, there is no way that you will be stuck in the same place forever. Slow progress is progress, and when the time has come, he will take you where HE desires to take you. Despite it not being your original plan, it will be GOOD.
"So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so you will become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. " James 1:4-23 MSG

3. Trusttrusttrusttrusttrust
No matter how hard it gets. Trust him with your life. STOP worrying about where you'll be 10 years from now. Start focusing on being the best version of yourself today. Be a good steward of what you've been given, even if you didn't want it. Plan, yes, but know where to draw the line between being responsible and obsessing. You can have your 50 year plan all you want. You can spend every second making sure that your life is carefully thought out. And if tomorrow doesn't come for you, you  wasted every second planning instead of living.


Monday, September 9, 2019

Chin Up

Someone wrote this to me on Tumblr, probably 8 years ago...

"Have you ever just stopped and looked at the weather? There's something about the weather that's just so real. You can't change it by wishing it away. If it's dark and cold, there's nothing you can do about it. But one day, it will be sunny. You can't control when the sun will come out, but it will. After years of believing I'd forever live in the dark, it's no longer raining. And one day, it will stop raining for you too. Chin up." 

I'd love to credit whoever that was, but their account was deactivated years ago. Tumblr is for old people now. (I'm old people.)

While I was being nostalgic and browsing through my old Tumblr account, I came across that message again. And I read it over and over again. It's crazy how after all these years God will bring me back to my old blog to show me something and speak to me. I'm shocked I even remembered the password.

Lately I've been incredibly frustrated with my situation. I have so many passions and dreams and ideas. And it seems like the all go to waste because I have no resources or time. Heck, I don't even know if anyone actually takes the time to reads these things.

So I get so frustrated, literally oozing with creativity and desire to have some sort of outlet, when I feel like it's all going to waste. Why, I ask God, did you even make me this way, if I'm going to spend most of my time at a desk answering phones? And then I spend hours scrolling through instagram staring at people who I believe are living my dream life. I don't even have to tell you that everyone has their own struggles and most of them aren't posting their struggles, because by now you know that. But sometimes I still find myself falling into that trap.

"You can't control when the sun will come out, but it will."

I don't  know what that means for me. I don't know if the sun coming out is having a career in something I'm absolutely in love with and passionate about. I don't know if it's peace with the life God has given me and better time management resources to still be able to do the things I love. I've learned that perspective has the power to lift a huge weight off of you. Lately I've been putting into perspective everything I've been blessed with. I might not love my job, but I have a job. It pays my bills. I can save money. It might not be the highest paying, but it leaves me with some money to do things I want to do. I don't love living in an apartment..heck, I miss my old house. If you don't already know, it was foreclosed. But..I have a room, a bed, and my parent's don't put all the pressure on me to pay rent. I have parents who are able to help me. As hard as things can seem sometimes, when you take the time to realise that you actually have a lot to be thankful for, you can shift your entire mental state.

I don't know when your sun will come out. But I do know what Jesus said.

"...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." 
John 10:10

Things don't always go our way. I can promise you if I had every thing I have ever prayed for, I'd be cringing, and also begging for God to take it away. As humans, what we think we want is not actually what is good for us. But I know one thing. That we have a someone watching over us, who knows the very best for us, and while being told no may sting in the moment, he has one goal for us: abundant life. He is making and molding you to one day be the perfect creation he intended you to be with every hardship you endure.
And so, no matter how dark thing may seem right now, God knows your life from start to finish, and he is doing everything he needs to so that you can living abundantly. Your current situation is not a mistake or you missing your calling, it's a stepping stone to where God is taking you. Find the lesson.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

If This Is What It Feels Like To Be Born Again, I'll Be Born Again

When I close my eyes, I can still feel everything. The entire day was a fog, I was in so much pain, it seemed like the day dragged on forever, yet looking back it feels like time has just flown by. 

I can't stress this enough. When it feels like you can't keep going, KEEP GOING. If I had given up at any point, I wouldn't be able to experience all that God has blessed me with. When you look at the person I am today, if you hadn't known the old me, you would probably be shocked to hear this. I've been told it's hard to believe that I was ever any different than I am now.

A year ago I was completely hopeless. 
I was crushed, joyless, in complete desperation and searching for a God that I was told could ease my pain, yet I found it so hard to believe he would do it for me. 

I remember the whole journey thinking, if God loves me, why won't he just do it now? Why do I have to experience this? I so badly wanted to fast forward to the part of my life where everything was "good."

But that's the problem. Things are never just "good." There is always pain. I'm experiencing it now, even at this point in my life where I'm so full of joy and gratefulness. Things are still hard.
When you realise that pain and joy can co-exist is when the desperation and constant crisis end.

"And it's okay to grieve, a life that could not be," -JJ Heller, Braver Still

It is a slow process. When you turn over your life, your past, your pain, to Jesus, it is almost never an overnight change. But just like wine, all good things take time. Don't be fooled into thinking that your suffering is in vain.

Memorial Day 2018 - I spent the day in bed, hopeless.

Memorial Day 2019 - I spent the day surrounded by friends and family, grateful.

If I had never experienced the pain I had, I could never see how beautiful life truly is. 
I would not be the person I am today.
And I'm thankful every moment I suffered, because it was an opportunity to cling to the Lord.
And today, I choose joy. Knowing that I will still suffer, and this life will always be flawed.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light In The Darkness

That is who you are.

For me, Spring comes with busyness. From Easter to weddings, the weather really makes it the perfect season for any celebration. This season for me is filled with birthdays, Easter celebrations, weddings, SO many birthdays..all wonderful things. Things that should make my heart feel so full of joy. And they do.

But for a moment, I caught myself being annoyed at this. I was annoyed that I didn't know when the next time I'd actually have a weekend off. I was annoyed at my busyness.

The girl who used to LONG to be included in these types of celebrations was IRRITATED that she was being included in so many. When I say I didn't have much before I surrendered my life to Jesus, I'm not just saying it. I didn't have many friends, I wasn't included in anything that wasn't my immediate family, I would have never been invited to any church family celebrations because I wouldn't even make eye contact with them. I spent too many nights wondering what was wrong with me. Trying to figure out why it seemed like all my peers were so busy celebrating life while I was living the same boring day to day life.

God changed all of the that. He drew my blood family closer to me, he gave me new family through the church, incredible friends. I was living a completely different life, I was included, I felt like I was apart of a family. I joke now that I have like 5 moms and dads and 3 new sisters, cause literally, I do.

When I thought God couldn't bless me any more than he already had, he gave me David.

So in that moment when I caught my self being irritated that I was being INCLUDED and WELCOMED in too many joyful events, it was sobering to remember that the old me would have been overcome with joy to be included in just one.

Today I'm thankful for this extremely busy season, because 20 years from now, I won't remember how tired I may have felt, but I will remember the beautiful memories this season held. Looking back on Spring 2019, one day it will be marked with great joy that I will long to relive for just a moment. And so, I'm making it my mission to cherish every moment, no matter how nonstop it feels, and just enjoy all of these things that I've been blessed with.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

It's Your Breathe, In Our Lungs

This weekend was incredible. It started with a trip to Brooklyn Teen Challenge Friday night for coffeehouse, where a lot of my closest friends met the Lord years ago. It was amazing and bittersweet to be there and think about the people they were when they walked in for the first time. You wouldn't even recognise the people they are today. They were made completely new. As I sat with their kids while they led worship, I couldn't help but be so in awe of God and what he did for them. Not only would those adorable little humans not exist if it wasn't for the restoration God did in their lives, but they wouldn't be the people they are today without him. They've blessed my life so much and I could never thank him enough. It's so encouraging to know that he delivered them from suicide, depression, self harm, addiction, and so much more. Things I struggled with once myself. And to see them now..It just gives you so much hope.

We had an amazing time and the road trip there and back was so much fun. We got delicious pizza from Emily's, fought with a glass bottle of coke for like an hour because we didn't have a bottle opener and I'm SO stubborn, (God's still working on that, haha.) I woke up a few times on the way home to them singing ridiculous songs, and had a great time just being with them. I could cry when I think about how much God blessed me with these people.

Saturday I spent with two great friends at the Roosevelt Field Mall, and we really had an amazing time exploring (its literally giant, we definitely got lost a few times) and I had the best chai tea latte I've ever had recommended by a friend at Sip This in Valley Stream.

Times like this when things are just amazing it truly makes me appreciate God's presence in my life not only in the highs, but in the lows. Some people tend to forget about him when things are going well but for me..all I can think is how different it used to be and how grateful I am that I even have friends to experience life with. I used to have nothing. I'm pretty blessed.

It's Sunday, and the day has started beautifully. I woke up to birds chirping and the weather is amazing. Sunday's are my favourite. I wake up early and have hours to spend with the Lord before church. My drive to get coffee this morning alone was so sweet. Even as I write this my heart feels swollen with gratitude for how blessed I really am. And to think there was ever a time I wanted to die..

I truly pray that if you're struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts today, that God opens your eyes the way he did mine. There's so much to be grateful for.

In a few minutes I leave to pick up my best friend and take her to church with me, so we can worship our Savior together. It doesn't get much better than that.

"Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
Ecclesiastes 9:9-11 MSG

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