How to Balance Your Left and Right Brain…and Get it Together! by Millie Holloman

The 80/20 rule will change your business and your life. You don’t have to be an economist to be a believer. In the early 1900s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80 percent of income in Italy was received by 20 percent of the Italian population. The rule simply states that, for many events, 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.

The 80/20 rule applies to many things; for example, 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your clients and 20 percent of the population has 80 percent of the wealth.

The rule also applies to professional photographers. Only 20 percent of our business involves shooting photographs; the other 80 percent is spent running our business. Email, editing, bridal shows, sales calls, client care, bookkeeping, and marketing are just some of the tasks that can start to overwhelm us.

Since photographers are creative, we’d usually …

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The Story Behind Millie Holloman’s “Shoots & Ladders” Sessions by Millie Holloman

It’s happened to all of us.

You log in to Facebook and there is a status update from friends (who were once clients) saying they’ve added to their family with the arrival of a new child. To your surprise and sadness, they are posting photos of their little one taken by a large retail chain. Washed backdrops and cheesy props don’t match the quality of their wedding photos.

What’s a couple to do when the cost of living is significantly increased by the arrival of a new mouth to feed, future plans for college, and don’t forget diapers! Grandma & Grandpa aren’t footing the bill for the rest of their lives; they gave up that luxury at the altar.

Children grow fast, so it would be difficult to pay our usual session fee each few months to capture their constantly-changing expressions and sweet stages of life. To my amazement, I discovered many of …

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Brain Dump- Clearing the Clutter to Think Clearer by Millie Holloman

Years ago I found myself sitting at a conference listening to the speakers who had amazing ideas and instead of soaking up these great ideas, I was thinking about every small tasks I had to accomplish immediately when I got home. I was listening to their big business ideas, I was taking notes but somehow it wasn’t all getting through, it wasn’t sticking. The things they were saying had my gears turning, but my brain couldn’t organize these ideas quickly enough to formulate an execution plan. I was instead, creating more mess for my brain to filter. It was feeling like it needed a really long vacation not 100 more “to do’s” rolling around.

On the plane home I decided to try something. I took out a pen and paper and began writing down everything I was thinking. Everything from “do laundry” to “book a trip to Tahiti” I made the list. No matter how big, no matter how small I wrote it down. If it was a 5 year goal or the next thing I needed to take action on. I wrote throughout the entire 3 hour flight, my pen never left the paper until the wheels on that plane hit the ground. When I walked off that plane I was like a new woman. I no longer had to keep repeating the same information over and over to keep it front and center of my brain. It was on paper and I felt organized like I had a new lease on life. I called it a “brain dump.”

Sure this is simple. But let’s be honest, how often do you really allow yourself to free write everything you think? To sit down in a quiet room and let the ideas flow? It’s liberating!

I know what you’re thinking… “now I’ve got a mess to deal with, how will all of this ever get done?” That’s the beauty of it… with a little organization, this simple and sometimes sloppy method can have you feeling better in no time. Just keep reading!

Once you’ve done your “brain dump,” take a new sheet of paper and square off 4 sections. Label each one accordingly.


Take your “brain dump” list and choose a category to place each item. The things that need to be done right away will become your daily to do list. The things 3 months out will eventually rotate into your to do’s. Those things 1-5 years out can take a back seat and they’ll be there whenever you decide to move them up the list. Now you’ve got a plan for right now, a place to start! A 90 day plan (3 months) and even a one-five year goal sheet! You’ll also feel organization with more time and room to think on what’s important to do now, and more time to execute!

Now I find myself clearing my brain on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. Each time I just pull out the previous record and organize it again! Just knowing it’s all written down and that I’ll refer back to it often makes me feel 100 times better.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead, give it a try for yourself.

Written by Millie Holloman

Millie Holloman is a photographer based in Wilmington, NC. She travels all over the world photographing weddings, families, kids and grads. She specializes in a more candid approach to my photographs and most enjoys capturing people in a comfortable environment being themselves.

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Battle the Burn by Millie Holloman

Professional Photography Books - photographed by Millie Holloman

It’s that time of year. You’ve shot weddings all season long, you’re knee-deep in edits, and you’re exhausted. After all you’ve been through, haven’t you earned just one session where you take the easy way out? Bringing your clients to that same tried and true location, walking them through the poses that have worked before, and trying not to look at your watch too often. But that’s not fun–for you or your client. It really doesn’t take much to access fresh ideas, new inspiration, and great locations. Here’s what I do to battle the burnout:

Rip It Out: My staff and I keep a series of loose leaf binders filled with plastic sleeves in my studio. There’s one for engagement and family session ideas, one for weddings, one for female portraits, and one for male portraits. I subscribe to a lot of magazines–everything from W to JPG Magazine. When we read the magazines, we rip out images that inspire us, looking for funky outfits, cool hairstyles, fun accessories, and interesting composition. They are filed in the appropropriate binder, and then I look through them periodically to give me a creative boost. We also love to look through photography books for inspiration, of course we aren’t ripping out pages here, but the concept is the same!

Mix it Up: Because our studio is in a beach town, many of my clients request shoots at the beach. The sand, water and sun are beautiful, but even such a gorgeous location can become stale. What to do? I challenge myself to think outside of the box, location-wise. Some of my best sessions have been in the craziest places: a grocery store, a warehouse, a junkyard, a library, an airport–even a cigar shop’s walk-in humidor! In addition to choosing a new location, try new techniques. For the photograph below I had to take two shots with two different exposures. In the first image I exposed for the couple and in the second the sign, I then did a little photoshop work to merge the two giving me a unique image that was fun to create!

Make it Personal: One of the most refreshing ways to get my creative juices flowing, is to take on a personal, pro bono project that gives me artistic freedom and a meaningful reward. I never knew either of my grandfathers; by the time I was two years old, they had both passed away. Not having the opportunity to personally experience that special grandfather-granddaughter bond, I decided to explore it through my work. I sponsored a contest on my blog offering a free shoot for a special granddad/granddaughter duo, and had an amazing experience shooting a grandfather who is teaching his granddaughter how to ride and show horses. Other pro bono projects include chronicling a woman fighting aplastic anemia and photographing a girl living with progeria, a rare fatal disease that causes young children to age at seven times their normal rate. Meeting such incredible people, getting a glimpse into their lives, and using my skill to capture their bravery and beauty, changes my perspective and brings new depth to my work and my spirit.

Dig a Little Deeper: We all spend a little time getting to know our clients, but if you dig a little deeper than “How did you meet?” and “Where are getting married?”, your clients could be the key to unlocking a new door to inspiration. I recently booked an engagement session for a couple that lives in the country. He’s a chef and she works at his restaurant. They love all things vintage, including her engagement ring and his classic T-bird. But the inspiration came when I asked them to tell me about their families. I learned that the bride’s father is a pig farmer, and she grew up on a pig farm. Now there was a location that I’d never shot in before! Next thing you know, I was traipsing through mud on the pig farm, photographing the happy couple holding a precocious baby pig.

So, the next time you’ve got the burnout blues, try these quick and easy ways to find new sources of inspiration. They work for me!

Millie Holloman is a photographer based in Wilmington, NC. She travels all over the world photographing weddings, families, kids and grads. She specializes in a more candid approach to my photographs and most enjoys capturing people in a comfortable environment being themselves.

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