Yesterday was a busy busy day, in fact most of my days are pretty busy lately. I’m almost booked solid until December! Don’t get me wrong, this is fantastic and I couldn’t be happier about it, but it leaves little time for editing and personal life. Yesterday I photographed a wedding, it was so beautiful with such vivid colors, fun decorations, a very unique guest book, and two fantastic people who became man and wife. When I got home I couldn’t wait to put my feet up, kiss my son, and relax in bed. My husband and I decided to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and let me tell you, I am in love! Every now and then there’s a movie that just sits in your soul and speaks to you. For me, this movie did that. Maybe because it was able to combine two of my favorite loves- words and photography, maybe it was the actors, maybe it was the humor, maybe it was the soundtrack..who knows?!? But I can say that when I saw the Nikon reference and the 85mm 1.4 scribbled on a piece of paper I shot up in bed with a huge grin on my face. My husband thought I was crazy and just laughed at my silliness. I myself am a Nikon girl, always have been (except for my very very first DSLR camera which was a Vivitar) and I always will be. The 85mm 1.4 is an amazing lens, very fast and very crisp. It yields beautiful bokeh and allows you to stand a good distance away from your subject so you’re not as much in the face as the 50mm or 35mm. I love it! I’ve rented it a time or two and am saving my pennies for one of my very own. I am a prime lens girl, I prefer to move around during my sessions and feel lazy when I use a zoom. Anyway, back to the movie. There’s a scene where Walter and Sean are sitting in the mountains and stalking a snow leopard and Sean has his gear set up. In the movie he’s one of the very last photographers to use film, as it’s a dying profession. I took a look at his gear and got green with envy, and realized I miss film so much. When I first started photography I was in high school, it was about 15 or so years ago and I borrowed my Uncle Mikey’s DSLR camera for the class. I had no idea what I was doing, I had no idea what I was getting into either. I needed an elective and I had always enjoyed taking photos so I figured why not. Mr. Moxey was my photo teacher as well as my prior field hockey coach. I will forever be grateful to that man, he taught me how to hold a camera, how to not shoot in auto, and how to find my way around a dark room. He gave me something that I had never had before- he gave me a skill. I remember getting passes to go hang out in his room and the room that connected to his- Mr. Ruben’s. I spent so many days there just killing time in the dark room or developing my negatives. I remember when I left for college I took my Vivitar camera with me. When I came home from college at Christmas I had mentioned the mass amount of time I was spending taking photos with my then boyfriend (let’s just say we skipped a lot of class to explore Cincy and Northern Kentucky) and I told him I wanted to upgrade. I don’t know how he did it on his own, but I opened my gifts and in it was a Nikon N65. I was so excited! It was just a basic film camera with a kit lens, but it was a huge step up from what I was shooting with at the time. I had a few things going for me, I knew how to pick out film, I knew how to shoot in manual mode (I have NEVER shot in auto, sometimes A or S but never auto, which is a lot more than I can say for some photographers who shoot auto and charge for it. Cringe!) and I could get that triangle perfect, and I knew how to develop my own negatives and prints. I knew nothing about lenses, I used a pop up flash for fill, I didn’t know how to bounce light, and I knew nothing about digital photography that was starting to pop up, and I didn’t care one bit. Some of my stuff was pretty good, some of it still makes me cringe.
When I moved to Monroe, Louisiana I found it harder and harder to keep up with my hobby. I enrolled in photography classes at ULM but my professor was absent so much (he was ill at the time) that I hardly ever developed my own prints. He actually encouraged us to go to labs and get them done. I wasn’t satisfied with the quality the local labs were giving me, and I was even less happy that chemicals and supplies were so hard to find in that town. So I did what I never thought I’d do, I gave it up. I put my camera and my gear into my closet and I walked away from it. I had made so many mistakes my first two years of college that I wanted to start over and be anyone but the person that I had become. It had lost appeal to me, the fun was gone and the drive wasn’t there. It wasn’t until my husband and I moved to Alabama and he encouraged me to pick it up again. I dabbled in it but I had little to no time for it. I was teaching full time and grading papers like crazy, and it just seemed like every person with a DSLR considered themselves a photographer (and in some aspects it still does, but then again we all start somewhere) and I didn’t want to be lumped into that.
When we moved to Memphis I discovered a local Art College that offered photography classes as continuing education, which meant that I wouldn’t have to enroll full time and could learn digital photography. I was blown away by everything that went into it. There are so many setting on professional digital camera, and photoshop is another beast that is hard to conquer. I had to learn how to edit these photos, use actions, and all sorts of stuff. But I did learn about external flash, bouncing light, strobes, continuous lighting, and composition. It’s a hard field to break into, but I love every second of it. I love meeting new people and giving them memories to cherish.
I took my old N65 out of it’s bag tonight and looked at it. The batteries are long dead and there’s a roll of film still stuck in it that’s half used. It’s probably of my old basset Bubba and will bring me to tears when I get it developed it. I think I am going to stop by the store and buy some batteries for it tomorrow. It’s time that I set some time aside for myself and get back to basics. One day I will have my own darkroom, maybe one day I’ll even try to teach a film class. Who knows. All I know is that I’m on my way back to where I started and couldn’t be happier about it.
(forgive the photo, it’s an iPhone original :P)
Last month I traveled to Byhalia, MS to spend the day photographing Madison and Max’s wedding. They got married at the Robert Rainey Jr. Memorial Arena at 6pm. The arena was decorated with sweet mason jars, light pink roses, and sweet trees with white lights hung on them. The guests received little jars of M&M’s as wedding favors. When the day started I was incredibly nervous because here in Fayette County it stormed all day. Trees were down through out Memphis and power was out across the mid-south. Amazingly the rain held out in Byhalia until after the post-ceremony photos were taken and the reception started. The photos Madison and I discussed were very soft in style and had a very country feel. I took apart a pallet board and painted it with “Just Married” for them to use in photos. It was a beautiful wedding and I had such a good time meeting their family and friends. Congrats on your wedding and I wish you many years of wedded bliss. Posted are some previews from the wedding, enjoy!
The Holidays are quickly approaching, and every year I am asked to photograph families for their annual family cards. I love doing this because mini sessions are the perfect thing for holiday shoots. They allow you to be goofy and think outside of the box. They’re great for families with small children or with husbands that aren’t very thrilled about standing in front of the camera because they’re only 30 minutes long. They’re a blink and you’ll miss it type of session but you would be very amazed at what I can do in 30 minutes. The first location will be very rustic- it’s a private and personal location that I use for my outdoor shoots. It has everything you could want for an outdoor location- dirt roads, open fields, tall grass, and trees. I bring my wingback chair, wooden stool, santa hat (complete with bah humbug!), JOY letters, etc. These will be held on the weekend of October 25th and 26th.
The second location that I decided to go with this year is Main Street downtown. I chose this because it gives us the option for the urban feel, yet it is still personal and cute because we will be doing these sessions early so there won’t be a ton of foot traffic around. I’m very excited for these!! Fee is due at time of booking, first come first serve, standard contract applies. As always please message me with any questions!
*All digital session photos can be purchased for an additional fee
Choosing a photographer for your session can be kind of tricky. If you live in an area like I do, it may seem like photographers are a dime a dozen. There’s a dozen or so advertisements on Facebook promoting sessions (guilty!) to try and draw potential clients, so how exactly do you choose who is right for you? Just because someone has 1,000 Facebook likes that doesn’t mean they are professional or even know what they are doing. Marketing is marketing, and we pay services to put our name out there. A good photographer will have the work to show you and back up those likes!
When choosing a photographer there’s a couple of factors that play into this scenario. First of all budget- how much do you have/are willing to spend? I know that a lot of families are on budgets these days and the economy is still in recovery mode, but you shouldn’t skimp out on photos and go directly for the cheapest photographer or one who gives the most discounts. Yes, some great photographers are sometimes just starting out, or are way underpriced for their area. But sometimes you get exactly what you pay for, so be wary of that. If a photographer charges $45 a session and pushes bookings you may just get photos worth $45. You should look at family photos like you would like at any other purchase- if it’s something that means a lot to you and something that you absolutely want done then set a goal. Start saving for it, just like you would a new pair of shoes, or a car, or a new television. Photographs are an investment and you should be satisfied with your purchase. Did your friends/family members use a great photographer but maybe got them through a promo that was running at a more affordable rate? Check with the photographer and see if they will run another one within the next year. If not, start saving so that you can book with them! A lot of photographers offer payment plans, I know that I do. It’s easier for my clients to do this because it splits their fees into smaller portions. However, they do not get previews or products until the balance is paid in full as stated in my contract.
Next you need to find a photographer within your target price range that fits your style. Are you looking for a themed session, do you want a family photo session, do you need newborns? Some photographers only do one type of thing so you need to figure out what it is you are looking for and narrow your search field. Are you looking for bold colors, or perhaps a muted and toned down look? Find photographers in your area that have online portfolios and devote an evening to looking through them. If you find someone who has amazing photos but maybe their editing style isn’t quite what you are looking for then you should email them and ask questions. I also can’t stress enough about pre-session consultations. Do you get one? Is your photographer going to go over the fine details of what to expect from them with you? A good photographer will do these things and answer any questions you may have. I personally do not post all of my client photos online, and offer more in my regular portfolio. Some families are strict about posting photos on the internet and do not want their families showcased online, so even if it seems the photographer has a small client base this may not always be the case.
What kind of products do they offer? Are you looking for a photographer who offers prints but the one in your price range only offers digital files? Then you may be out of luck and have to find someone else. This also goes the other way, a lot of photographers will only offer DVD’s of the session (and by this I mean 15-20 edited photos is usually the standard amount) and not prints or other products such as canvas wraps, standouts, albums, etc. This is also something to ask a potential photographer if you don’t see this information on their site. A lot of us can do more than we offer on our sites, we just have basic standard prices for the most popular products ordered. I offer more sizes and different products and go over all of this with my clients in their pre and post session consultations.
Are you looking for a wedding photographer but you are on a strict budget? Ask around, just because a photographer doesn’t charge $2,000 for a wedding doesn’t mean that they won’t give you fantastic results. Some clients don’t need a wedding photographer for 10 hours or maybe their wedding doesn’t even cost as much as photographers listed on page 1 of Google web results. I have a base package for weddings that runs around $1500 for a 6-8 hour day with a DVD and print products for my client. I also taylor make wedding packages for clients that may only need me for a few hours, only want a dvd, or may have a very small bridal party/wedding venue size. A lot goes into pricing weddings, if it’s indoor there are usually lighting restrictions where you probably can’t use flash, so a special lens will be needed for this and a better preforming camera will need to be used. Are we going to be restricted as to where we can shoot from? A lot of indoor venues only allow photographers in one certain area during the ceremony so again, a special lens to get close up shots will be needed.
You also need to find out if your photographer has a business license, makes you sign a contract, is insured, etc. Ask for references if you need to. Don’t be discouraged by our prices, they may seem high but there is more that goes into your session than clicking a button. I shoot on manual mode, not auto, so I know my camera inside and out. I shoot with professional gear- very expensive camera bodies and lenses. I charge by how much time it takes me to edit photos, computer software, backup drives, the upkeep of my gear, the cost of new gear, insurance, taxes, business license renewal, product costs, business cards, gas to and from a session and mileage on my vehicle, advertising, owning my own web domain, website fees, etc. I’m sure you get the idea now. We run a business and we have to be successful at our business, especially if this is our only income.
Also, be very clear with your photographer on what you are looking for. Don’t book a session and afterwards ask for unedited or RAW photos and state that you’d rather edit them yourself. Most photographers WILL NOT do this as it is not correct evidence of our work. If this is something that you are looking for you need to be very clear about this before you even book a session. Every photograph is a business card, and it only takes one bad one to turn potential clients away. Also, once we click that button we own that photo, it is copyrighted to us. That goes for every photo ever taken by anyone, so unless you get permission to edit afterwards you could be facing a lawsuit.
I hope this information has helped in your quest to find the perfect photographer for you!
Earlier this summer I booked a senior session with Mollie and she was very specific about her wants. She wanted something rustic, something with water, dirt roads, and possibly a barn. She didn’t want her senior photos to look like everyone else’s so I tried my hardest to incorporate everything she was looking for. I have a specific location for my rustic shoots that is about as rustic as you can get. I searched high and low for a nice creek that we could shoot in only to find a sandy area of the Wolf River. The riverbed actually turned out to be a great location for us. I was a little nervous venturing into the water as a lot can go wrong. Earlier that day it had rained a bit, the weather had hit this cool patch where our days were topping out at 80 degrees, and the water was cold cold cold. My husband has ruined me when it comes to bodies of water in the south. We don’t have the snakes up north that are found down here, so every chance he gets he tells me horror stories of people he has “known” who have gotten bitten by poisonous snakes. He wonders why I won’t jump in rivers or go out in bayous. Luckily there were no snakes and I think Mollie’s shoot turned out pretty fantastic. Here are a couple of photos from her session. I had such a blast working with her, she is such a sweet girl and reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. Good luck this year Mollie!