Custom portrait photography seems so expensive! Why?
This is probably my most frequently asked question! You know, it IS more expensive. Clearly, right? Having said that, I’d like to tell you why. When you hire me, you’re not just paying me to take photos of you. It takes many hours to prepare for a shoot – finding a location, travel time and then the actual shoot itself. Then comes managing the files – uploading, then sorting and sifting through hundreds (sometimes thousands, believe it or not) of photos from your shoot as well as backing them up. In addition, I like to custom edit each chosen photo to ensure the best post-processing of the individual files, which can often take hours. From uploading photos to my proofing website, preparing blog and Facebook posts and handling any print work or delivery, what goes on outside the actual session can be both fun and time-consuming.
Also, there’s equipment to consider. Oh dear, don’t get me started! Cameras, lenses, lighting, computers, editing software, props, etc. . . Unfortunately, these things are all very pricey and often have to be replaced or upgraded every few years as necessary. Then there are the workshops and training classes to better myself and stay current with my craft. Moreover, you have many of the legitimate expenses of running a business – bookkeeping, tax preparation, blog and website fees as well as the hiring of any assistants needed. It all adds up to be sure.
OK. You’ve heard all the practical reasons. But perhaps the most important thing is the truly unique way custom photography captures your family, the personalities of individuals and the moments you might not otherwise see in more budget-friendly photography. It is true there are photographers who would charge less and would get the job done. You could get your prints at your local pharmacy or discount store for a few cents and be on your way. But I am selling you so much more than a piece of paper! What I offer my clients is an experience that takes the time and effort to showcase you at your very best and highlighting those relationships that are dearest to you. The result is the culmination of everything I have ever learned and all the years I have spent putting that learning to good use. When you receive your photos, I want your jaw to drop and your heart to swell, knowing that you’ve invested in something priceless and beautiful.
Do you shoot weddings?
At this time, I do not. I remember thinking (when my children were very little) how much time I would have once they were old enough to go to school and do things for themselves. Today, I just have to laugh at my naïveté, because just the opposite is true. The older our girls get, the more they have going on! And the more they have going on, the busier we are as a family. I cannot get these years back, so it is really important that my weekends be spent with them instead of photographing weddings.
What should we wear for our portrait session?
This is probably the single most-often asked question every photographer gets. Let’s face it, the very idea of having to come up with clothing for each family member that looks nice and actually goes together can be a bit stressful! But let me help you relax by giving you a few do’s and don’ts that will help you make the most of your session.
Don’t assume you must go out and buy all new clothes. It is totally fine to work with what you have! Simple and comfortable styles work very well. If it’s something you feel comfortable in, you’re more likely to look comfortable. And the more comfortable you are, the better your photos will be!
Do stick to two or three main colors. A palette of complimentary colors works so much better than everyone dressing identically. A great way to approach this is starting with neutrals and then adding one or two accent colors. To illustrate this, here are a few examples from Pinterest (which is a great place to get ideas).
Do try to avoid “fussy” clothing. Ladies, we’ve all had that great blouse that’s constantly drifting and demanding to be adjusted. And that includes low-rise jeans. The last thing you want is to be constantly fixing straps or hoisting up your pants, am I right?
Do steer clear of wearing fluorescents, even if you’re one of the rare people who look great in them. Not only do they tend to distract the eye, they also can cause a pretty bad color cast onto skin and other people’s clothing. To illustrate, here is my youngest wearing bright orange. She is adorable, but that color cast is a mess! Do yourself a favor and just say no.
Do try to keep loud patterns and graphics to a minimum. Even if you are an expert at mixing and matching, simple is always best, and busy florals or stripes can distract the eye away from the face. The same is true for logos and wording – no bueno. 🙂
Do consider layering. Layers are not only more visually interesting in a photo, but they can have a slimming effect, which we all want when having our photos taken! Also consider adding a simple scarf or a necklace that adds an extra splash of color.
Do show up pressed and clean. This may seem like completely unnecessary advice, but today’s cameras are capable of showing the tiniest piece of lint or stray pet hair, so arriving (mostly) wrinkle and lint-free will really help. Don’t worry about the drool spot on little Johnny’s shirt or the couple of missed fuzzies on little Susie’s dress – I assure you it’ll be taken care of before you receive your photos.
Do remember: Spanx are your friend. (Yep, I went there!) In summer, ladies often want to wear light, cottony dresses, because they are so much cooler and look nice. But most of these dresses aren’t lined, making it harder to keep your look streamlined. A good pair of Spanx will keep you tucked in and create a smoother silhouette under that dress. Win-win!
Do take care of any hair appointments a couple of weeks before your photo session. This will give everything a chance to relax and look its very best by the time you get in front of the camera! It’s also a good idea to bring a comb or brush with you to the shoot in case of wind or flyaway hairs. I’ll try to keep an eye out for them when I’m shooting, just in case.
Do remember your nails! Believe it or not, nails are important. Guys, look at your nails. If you see dirt or grease underneath, take a minute to scrub them clean. Ladies, chipped nails WILL show up in camera. I’ve been asked several times AFTER a session to remove old nail polish in Photoshop. Instead of depending on software, it’s much easier to prevent in the first place! Besides, it’s a great excuse to get yourself a manicure. 🙂
How many clothes should I bring?
You may bring as many as you like! In fact, I encourage clients to bring more than one change of clothing. While certainly not necessary, having a change of clothes brings added variety to your finished photos. And that’s always a good thing! I frequently bring along a cart to carry extra clothing as well as a changing tent. Incidentally, the cart sometimes doubles as child “entertainment”.
What times are you available?
I try to be as flexible as possible. Your life is busy, so I try to accommodate you as much as I can! Having said that, there are a few things you should know. I’m going to give you the number-one-most-important factor in getting the best portraits – it’s TIME OF DAY. The right time of the day has the power to completely transform light in a way that softens skin, removes harsh shadows from under the eyes and nose and adds richness to your shooting environment. I can shoot at any time of day, but I prefer to photograph my clients under early morning light or just before and during sunset. The difference is striking – they don’t call them golden hours for nothing! Obviously those hours fluctuate through the different seasons until sunrise and sunset are not always the most convenient times to have appointments. When I book a client, we’ll discuss your options based on the time of year and your schedule. For most families, Saturday afternoons/evenings provide the best times for all the members of the family to be available. If you would rather be scheduled for a weekday, let me know!
Do you do mini sessions?
No, I do not. I have found that the best photos of people tend to happen after they’ve warmed up a bit, especially children. After about 20-30 minutes, people tend to open up and relax more. Those tend to be my clients’ favorites as well! Also, providing photos that are unique to you and your family is really important, especially with so much shared online today.
Do you have a studio?
At this time, I only do on-location photo shoots. Having a studio would be an incredible luxury, especially in colder times of the year. But not having a studio means not having as many overhead costs. Plus, I really enjoy the light outdoors and find that shooting in lots of different places keeps things exciting and more creative. Bonus!
Will you pick a location or do you need us to pick one?
When you first book your session, I like to spend a few minutes on the phone with you to find out more about what you’d like your photos to look like. Whether you’d like something natural or with more of an urban feel, I am happy to suggest locations that will work best. Since light is the most important factor in choosing where to have your photos made, I try to make sure we go to places that will have amazing light in addition to interesting scenery. If you have a special location in mind, I always try to find a way to work that into our session together.
What happens if I need to cancel my session?
A $100 deposit will be collected upon booking your session – this will secure your date and also be subtracted from the total due on the day of your session. And to avoid any unnecessary cancellations, I will work with you to make sure the date you choose works for all parties involved. But as we all know, life happens, and you can’t always predict the weather or illness or other emergencies. No problem – we can reschedule. To keep your deposit, you may reschedule your session once more within the next six months.
Once my photo shoot is done, how long will it take to receive my photos?
My goal is for you to have your photos finished and delivered within 7-10 days. For more extensive shoots involving many people, you should allow about two weeks. The work I do after taking the pictures is more extensive than the photo shoot itself and is not something that should be rushed. Part of custom photography is the careful treatment of each image, ensuring it is the best it can be. Good things come to those who wait – but don’t worry – you won’t be waiting long!
What kind of things do you edit?
To me, there is a special kind of magic that happens when editing a photo. It’s where you get to exercise your creativity and really bring your photos to life. For me, that includes making sure the color, texture and composition of each photo is right. YOU are the focus of each shot. Anything that might distract from that, be it a person walking through a shot in the distance, an awkward strand of hair across the face or pepper in your teeth, will be removed. Just like that! As for you? I want you to look as if you were caught on your best day, with your best skin, looking like you’ve had your best night’s sleep in a long while. So please don’t worry that your child bumped their head and is now sporting a huge bruise – it’ll be gone! Don’t worry about that blemish on your nose that makes you feel like Rudolph. I promise – it’ll be our little secret. Your trust is very important, and I work hard to earn it.
Once I get my photos, then what?
Once you have received your digital files, you may print or post as often as you like! Cool huh? But because your photos are copyrighted work belonging to yours truly, they may not be re-edited in any way. It’s a big digital world out there, and as we all know, once it’s out there, it’s forever. Copyright is kinda complicated, but ensuring my work retains its quality helps me to protect my online brand and reputation.