Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meet {and Greet} Vicki Taufer

Meet {and greet}
Vicki Taufer from V Gallery located in Morton, IL.
V gallery is one of the top portrait studios in the county.
Vicki runs V Gallery with her husband, Jed {whose blog post are the best around…seriously…good stuff!}
There work is described as timeless, elegant and eclectic without being traditional or uptight.

Tell me what it's like to work with your husband?
My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years. We have worked together for the past five years. Working with a spouse can definitely have its moments. There are both good and bad days, but we have found the key to our success is having very defined roles at the studio so that we don't end up micro-managing each other :) We each bring different strengths to business so it only makes sense that we have different roles at the studio.

How did you meet?
Even though we grew up in the same small town, we attended different high schools. We had a few mutual friends and started dating my senior year of high school after Jed invited me and a couple of my friends to a party he was having at his house.

Tell us about how you got started in this business..
I grew up in an artistic family and always loved taking photographs. I treated it like a hobby and actually graduated from college to teach special education. Jed and I were newly married and I started taking images of friends and their kids and developing them in a darkroom in the basement of my parents' house. About ten years ago we decided to start our business in the basement of our first home. After two years, we moved into a 2,000 square foot renovated space in the old bowling alley that went out of business. We rented for five years and bought the building two years ago. Our current space is 7,000 square feet, including HAVEN, the educational center we created for photographers.

Tell us about your studio? {Which I’m totally envious of!}
We did the majority of the building and construction work ourselves. The overall goal when we created our studio was to have a high-end boutique that people would know was a place of quality work that was worth the investment they were making. I tried to make all the spaces different and full of textures and colors so I could shoot throughout the entire building. Besides lighting with my Larson Soffboxes, I have north facing windows in my camera room that I love to use. We have a production room for the digital artists as well as a room dedicated to projected sales using ProSelect.

Do you think having a studio has helped your business grow?
Absolutely, but it isn't a necessity. I would caution people who fall into the dangerous mindset of needing a studio to be successful. One does not necessarily equal the other. I think it is important to get consulting from an accountant and business mentor before making the decision to owning a studio. It is also important to look at yourself as an artist. If the majority of your photography takes place on-location, it may not make sense to own a studio.

Any drawbacks to owning your own studio?
Owning a studio is like having two homes. Even though I love it, there is always something that needs attention or fixed as well as the obvious overhead.

What inspires you as a photographer?
I love to look at catalogs and magazines to find new ideas for poses and backgrounds. Taking a break with vacations and travel also gives me a fresh perspective with my photography.

Any books that inspired you {or helped you} in your business?
The first business book I read was The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber. Currently, I am reading Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders.

Best marketing idea?
I think the best thing a photographer can do is get their work out in the community by displaying their images in the places where their prospective clients shop, eat and play.

Why do you think your business is so successful?
I think V Gallery did a great job early on in creating a boutique studio with a solid identity and brand. Our work is recognizable and valued in the community. We also work long hours for many years!

What’s your weakness in this business?
Definitely managing employees and staying on task when there seems to be a million things to do.

Do you twitter? Facebook?
We do use twitter and Facebook, but I know we are not using it to its fullest capacity. This wasn't something I easily embraced as I don't really even like carrying a cell phone or using email. I would rather be outside socializing with people face-to-face rather than social networking online. I do recognize its business value, though, so we are doing more with it.

Savvy indulgence?
I love getting a morning coffee at Eli's, our local coffee house.

Ideal getaway?
A relaxing week on the beach with no responsibilities.

Favorite thing in your closet?
My jeans and flip flops

Current reading material?
Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders
favorite drink? cocktail?
A good Pinot noir

Do you blog stalk?
Once in awhile I will find myself surfing the net and reading blogs and checking out websites, but for the most part I would rather go on a walk with my dogs, ride my bike, or grill out with friends before spending hours on the internet.

Do you have any children?
Not yet, but we have been in the process of adopting 1-2 children from Nepal over the last year.

What are you doing on a typical Sunday afternoon?
After going to church in the morning, I love to be lazy. We either ride our Vespa out to Jed's parent's lake and swim around or take a nap.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
Before starting our business I actually took the U.S. postal exam to be a mail carrier. Right now I have a lot of interests outside of photography. I would love to be an interior decorator or own a juice bar and Pilates studio.

Tell us about your proudest moment as a photographer~
The entire year of 2006 was pretty awesome. I started speaking internationally and won numerous photography awards. I won the WPPI Grand award, the highest scoring print at Orvieto Fotografia in Italy, and I had 4 high scoring prints at our state competition. I also earned my Masters, Craftsman, and Certification from the Professional Photographers of America that year too.

This week Vicki shares with us images of her 7000 square foot studio...her packaging from BellaGrafica...her amazing Dog portraits...and V Gallery Haven~their new website for photographers full of educational products and workflow solutions.

Tomorrow we will announce the Friday giveaway...

and guess where it's from...V Gallery Haven!



  1. Vicki & Jed are the best... true leaders in our industry. We are so privileged to have them. What a gift! I wholeheartedly endorse what they're offering the community and absolutely believe they are one of the best in the county (and country... and the planet too).