REFINED Co on the cover of REAL SIMPLE

It started just like any other day. Work, answering emails, shuffling my 12-year-old around to meet up with friends and then a random mention in a Facebook Group threw the day into an exciting little whirlwind.

A fellow photographer friend posted a quick snap of a magazine cover in a Facebook group and asked “Marta Locklear, is this yours?😍” There I was looking at one of my images on the cover of REAL SIMPLE magazine! “What the heck?” I thought. I had no idea about this and had, my friend, not recognize my image on the cover of the magazine at Target, I probably never would have never known. I anxiously picked up my son from his activity and rushed over to Barnes and Noble to see it for myself. And there she was, posturing beautifully on an end cap display in all her minimalist glory.

REFINED Co on the Cover of REAL SIMPLE Magazine
Simple four set image of flowers

The image was part of a simple 4 image set I did on a whim one day in my home office with some quirky Trader Joe’s flowers I picked up.

What does this all have to do with REFINED Co? REFINED was born because of my stock photography rejects and declines. 

I applied to Stocksy United in 2014 and was accepted and promoted as one of their film photographers. They were one of the only stock companies embracing film and acknowledging the allure of it. For a couple of years, that is all I submitted and they did really well with sales. Then in 2016 things started to shift, my sales began to drop and I was experiencing a lot of declines on my submissions (you have to submit your images to Stocksy and they decide if they are right for the collection or not). I finally inquired about the dramatic change in my content and they said they are getting a lot of kickbacks from buyers because of the imperfect nature of the film images. Too soft, too grainy, etc. What worked before was no longer working and I was directed to shoot more digital or narrow the f-stops on my film and that would push me out of my style. I was desperate to keep my film style, and the portfolio of presets I had (I had them all) wasn’t giving me the look I needed without a ton of extra work. So I started to make my own. Over time tweaking adjusting, tweaking some more, until I had something that was nearly 1 click and blended so well with my film photography. It turned out so good and in true entrepreneur spirit, I decided to offer it for sale as a little side hustle to my friends and colleagues in mid-2017.

Marta Locklear Stocksy Profile

When it all comes full circle.

The image on the cover of Real Simple magazine is a digital image, edited with the original REFINED I preset collection. It came full circle. What loomed as declines and rejections, birthed the most successful business I have ever built and landed me the cover of Real Simple magazine…edited with the very product my company was born from. REFINED went from a little side hustle to REFINED Co, a full-time business for me with employees and a wonderful community.

The Lesson.

Allow yourself the freedom to pivot.

Freedom to evolve over time because you never know where your path leads and will end up.

Interested in Stock Photography? Check out our Getting Started with Stock Photography e-book!