HAVRE DE GRACE, MARYLAND -

You simply cannot succeed in business - or really, life itself - without help. It sounds like an easy answer, but it isn't always obvious.

In the age of digital media, many businesses and artists rely on Facebook and social media for their marketing. And for good reason. There are more than 1 billion people on Facebook alone, and with the advent of target marketing, the chances of finding your ideal client on social media are pretty high.

But only if you can pay for it.

More and more, social media marketing is fit for those with a marketing budget who can pay for advertisements. With less and less organic reach possible for business pages, those of us with little marketing money are, basically, S.O.L.

Though I do not plan to abandon social media, I do plan to focus my 2018 marketing attention on in-person interactions. Art and craft shows, local groups, and client referrals are my business' bread and butter, especially because consumers are more likely to work with those they know and trust. 

Connecting with and supporting other small local businesses and artists is also hugely beneficial, not just for my marketing, but theirs as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed working so closely with Providence Center, Inc. the last two years and, more recently, with Smile Partners of Havre de Grace.

Smile Partners has operated a dental practice in Bel Air for decades, but only recently opened a new office in Havre de Grace. Dr. Lory Richter, a dentist at both locations, is a dear friend of mine from college and asked me last year if I could contribute some art of the local area to the new space.

Landscape photography, specifically seascapes, is a passion of mine, so I always jump at the chance to create wall art of beautiful scenes. After Lory showed me around Havre de Grace and gave me some idea what the office staff was looking for, I got to work.

My first session took place during sunrise on Mother's Day 2017, accompanied by my husband and daughter. We set up the tripod on the grassy area adjacent to the dental practice itself, which is strategically located on the Susquehanna River waterfront. The idea was to capture the same view that patients would see looking out the window in the waiting room of the dental practice. It was a chilly, but otherwise gorgeous morning and produced 5 stellar images that I knew would look stunning on canvas. 

My second session took place during sunset at the Susquehanna Lock House Museum in June 2017, though the setting sun produced little artistic excitement. But once the sun was gone and the nearly full moon rose, I was back in business.

Pointing my camera northwest overlooking the Susquehanna River, the lights along the US-40 and I-95 highways, as well as the bridges themselves, provided a nice point-of-interest for the scene, especially the light reflections in the water. I captured several 30-second long exposures of the river until I was satisfied with the smooth appearance of the moving water. 

Once both sessions were culled and edited, Smile Partners chose their top five favorites. From there we created a social media campaign that asked followers of both businesses to vote for their favorite image, the winner of which would be printed and hung in the office. In addition, one lucky voter would win a $25 Amazon gift card and free print of their chosen image courtesy of Smile Partners and Jamie-Leigh Bissett, LLC.

The response was huge with thousands of views; dozens of "Likes" and nearly 100 votes on Facebook alone. The votes were tallied, the winning image chosen, and as of January 10, 2018, a 24x36 canvas gallery wrap of "Havre Sunrise" is now decorating the waiting room wall at Smile Partners of Havre de Grace.

In addition to the winning canvas, four other canvas gallery wraps are now on display and for sale at Smile Partners including my all-time best sellers, "OPACY" and "Smile With The Rising Sun." For pricing and purchasing information about the 24x36 and 20x30 landscape fine art prints, email me at JLB@offbeatphotographer.com.

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