By her own admission, Emily Carter Mitchell was just a girl with a camera who loved to go shoot.
"I got my new DSLR about six years ago, and I was trying to find out what was going to be my passion," she said. "It took a couple years to start down the road I'm on now, which is nature and wildlife photography."
Emily's journey of self-discovery took her down the path of creating a photography blog, Bella Remy Photography. "Short of putting my photos on my computer or maybe on Facebook, I wanted to have a platform where I could share your experiences. That's where the idea of starting a blog came from. It gave me a creative way to share my work when I'm out exploring."
Along the way, Emily's blog has opened many doors — to get published, create a Meetup, and lead workshops. Oh yeah, it helped her find who she was as an artist.
Listen to her story on the podcast
Where’d you get that name
My horse’s name is Remy Martin. Bella in Spanish is pretty. Pretty Remy. When I started the blog it was supposed to be about horseback riding and hiking, and it’s evolved over the years into what it is today.
After about three years, I asked my followers if I should change the title since the focus had changed. They said no, I love the title you gave it. The blog is actually called Hoofbeats and Footprints.
I thought I was going to be talking about trekking and hiking on the trails around here. I wanted to have a travel writing type of blog that would lead me into doing travel writing for magazines. Over time, I realized I don’t like writing that much.
How the feedback helps
Because of the blog, I’ve made connections all throughout the world that’s really pretty fascinating.
One of my good friends in Australia started an online magazine written by women photographers. I have been a written contributor to that magazine since the beginning. five issues now.
My audience helped me formed my direction as well. I like historical sites. I would go to these historical sites in our area and show my adventures. They would only say, "yeah that’s nice." Then I’d show a picture of a kitten, and they’d go, “Oh my God. That’s fantastic!"
The blog helped me find myself as an artist based on the feedback I was receiving from the readers
It helped me see clearer where my passion really lies.
How you get noticed?
Part of the blogging world is you have to give to receive. You find other people’s blogs and make comments and likes. That’s how you start getting noticed. When you are a beginning blogger and you want exposure, that’s the effort that you have to put in to get noticed.
Find topics of people you want to follow. I look up blogs on nature and can follow the newsfeed.
I have 9,000 followers now.
Once in a while when you are a beginner, and you have a really good article, you might get Fresh Pressed.
You are highlighted by WordPress and that drives a lot of traffic to your blog. I had a couple articles that were Fresh Pressed.
One thing I learned to do is when I am posting something on a specific topic, I need to have the title show what I am talking about. When people are doing a Google search, I'll come up on the top of the list. Best example, I have a post The Visitor’s Guide to Conowingo Damn Bald Eagles. It is the number one post on my blog with about 50-100 hits a day. In the winter time, it gets hit several hundred times a day. If you search Visitor’s Guide and Conowingo Damn, my post will come right up on the top of the list.
In a lot of other areas I have visited like Maine, Great Falls Park or C&O Park, publishers have gone in looking for images, and they’ll put in the title of the location that they’re trying to findThat’s how they locate my blog post because of the title. They find my images, contact me through the blog, and ask if they can purchase my picture.
It’s not often that I’m showing older work. Most of the work that I’m showing is pretty current. Sometimes I will go in the archives or show my father’s photos if I’m in a void.
If you don’t post frequently, readers don’t find you
On her workflow
I’ll shoot for an hour during the day. I’ll work on my pictures for about 45 minutes. I’ll do my social media posting. I will put in an hour and a half to two hours at the most in a day.
When I get home, I upload my images immediately. I’ll go to specific scenes that I know will have the best photos based on what I remember from the shoot. Then those are the ones that I show. I just try to keep up with it because if I don’t it is too hard to catch up.
You don’t need to post a ton of pictures. People’s attention span is short. You don’t need more than six pictures. Sometimes you can just post one. That will take you 10 minutes. If you are busy, you can plan ahead and write posts to be scheduled at a specific date and time. If I’m traveling, and I’m going to be disconnected for a little bit, I schedule my posts. I have them run at least every other day just so that people see something.
On being published
I have these posts, and publishers are looking for things that aren’t on stock agencies. Publishers are tired of stock. They want something unique that no one else has. They look on Flickr and blog posts, and they do find me.
Not many people have a photo of the space window in the National Cathedral. I took my telephoto lens, so I can get it.
There was a religious magazine that wanted a photo of mine, and they paid $200. It wasn’t even in focus. I told them, let me go take a better one. They said ’nope, we need it now.'
Baltimore Magazine published my photo a month ago.
I’ve been on the cover of two books — one is a children’s book with 3,000 printed and another was a mystery book based in Annapolis. I’ve been in a couple of apps... one in Australia, one in Maryland.
On finding her photos for a publisher
One of the challenges I face “where’s that picture?"
My file name uses an abbreviation code for the location where I shot the photo and the date I took it. If the publisher gives me the file name, I know where to look for it.
I started getting into bird photography. Then I decided to start a Meetup called Feathered Friends. That got me on the radar for teaching. Now I teach bird photography workshops.
How I have improved overall
Because I started the blog, it encouraged me to go out and shoot. I now had a place to express myself and get feedback from people who actually like my work. That positive reinforcement makes me want to go out and do more.
That repetition going out and practice, you have to go out and get better.