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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

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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! 

Over the 4th of July my husband, son, and I went on a road trip up the east coast to visit family. I haven’t seem some of my dad’s side of the family in close to 9 years so we figured it was time to catch up. My cousins and I have all had children who needed to meet, and I wanted to show off my son to my mom’s side of the family in PA as well. So we loaded up our truck and took a road trip family vacation. One of the things I miss the most about living in the northeast is the views. You’re always surrounded by mountains and valleys, the views are amazing, and some of them most significant things in our nation’s history happened in my “backyard.” My husband is a huge civil war freak, and when I say huge I mean he can wow you with historical knowledge of places you have lived your entire life and he’s never seen. He once met a friend of his at Gettysburg and took him on a tour of the battlefield- and it was my husband’s first time there. Needless to say his friend was a little freaked out. So in true typical King fashion we stopped at as many historical sites as possible so that my husband could breathe it all in. Maybe it’s because of the handful of field trips I took as a kid, maybe it’s because history bores me (yes, I know, you can save your finger shaking…..it’s just not for me) but when my son started freaking out in Stonewall Jackson’s home in Lexington, VA I wasn’t all that sad to leave my husband alone and explore the little town for a bit. I was kind of bummed that we missed the hot air balloon festival by one day, even more bummed that it was raining and we didn’t have an umbrella, and seriously hungry. So as we walked around Lexington we happened upon two fantastic little shops that I would highly recommend to anyone if you’re ever in the area. The first is a little bakery called Sweet Treats Bakery. Ah-mazing. I have  a chocolate mocha mousse cake that was absolutely to die for and Justin had a piece of pecan pie. (Note- when in the north the correct way to say this word is PEE-CAN) The owner was so sweet and when he found out we were tourists stopping for a quick snack before hitting VMI (just another place that absolutely leaves my husband in awe) he brought over about 10 pamphlets filled with fun things to do around the area. I can honestly say that if I lived in Lexington this place would be a frequent stop of mine! You can find them here at http://www.sweettreatsbakery.net

The second place that Brody and I found on our walkabout was Lexington Coffee Roasters. I’ve never been in a coffee bar where they have tastings free to you enjoy. Bonus: in the back of the shop is a cheese bar with cheese tastings! The owner let us sample 3 different coffees in these neat little coffee mug/shot glass type of cup and explained to use the roasting process for each. Justin and I are both coffee nuts so this was pure heaven for us. Justin is kind of a spoiled coffee snob as he works with a guy who orders green coffee beans from around the world and roasts his own coffee. He won’t drink anything except this coffee because it doesn’t give him heartburn, like ever. I was amazed when he bought a bag of coffee to take home with us! Lexington Coffee Roasters ship around the US for a fee of $6.00 and you can find them here at http://www.lexingtoncoffee.com

Once we got to our destinations we had a blast catching up with family, eating wonderful food, swimming in the lake, and playing with sparklers. One the way home we took a detour through Skyline Drive in Front Royal, VA (we lived in Front Royal for about a year when we were first married) and even saw a bear! I was so excited but unfortunately couldn’t get a clear picture of him since I was hanging out of the truck as Justin drove by screaming about the bear. I tried though, and will post a very blurry picture for you to enjoy! I mean really, how many times can you say that you’ve seen a bear!?!

All in all it was a very long but very good trip. It reminds me of how much I miss the food, the culture, the views, and my friends and family. I hope everyone’s 4th was as wonderful as mine!!!

 

The past few months I have had a lot of the same conversations with my clients regarding what to wear, how to do their hair, and what types of products to use, etc. I’ve happily advised which bracelets/necklaces/earrings/shoes to mix and match with outfit changes, what colors wouldn’t work with different locations, and seen more hair flips for volume than I can count. I’m beyond flattered that my clients trust my judgement and ask for my advice and guidance on these things, so I wanted to make a quick post on why these things matter and what I recommend.

I am part of various online forums where I converse with other photographers from around the world. This allows me to submit my work for constructive criticism, go to them for any problems I may be having and ask for a solution, share my work, learn their tips and tricks, and vice versa. With the warm weather in full swing we are getting an influx of weddings, bridals, cake smash, senior, and family sessions (yay!) and so many of our clients want to stay far away from the muted colors of fall and winter and celebrate the change of seasons and the warmth with bright and flashy colors. Depending on how this is done it can be a wonderful thing, or a terrible thing. I am all for pops of color here or there, I love bright colors on little kids, a flash of color on adults, maybe some standout jewelry or even a head scarf to accessorize with. I love bold statement pieces and I absolutely applaud people who take chances with fashion and are able to express their personal style. I have a hard time pulling off bold colors, they just don’t look right one me and never have, so you will rarely ever see me wear anything neon or extremely bright. Even my bathing suits are standard blue/black/tan/white, possibly a yellow. If you are shooting at an outdoor location a lot of this can work and look amazing in pictures. However, if you are shooting at an indoor studio or having an indoor/in home session please be careful. One of the discussions I just saw posted was for some help on a newborn shoot. The backdrop was a beautiful pink, the little girl was wrapped in a pink swaddle, and the dad wore a super bright red shirt. The problem was the shirt directly contrasted with the background, and the color of the shirt cast onto his skin and his daughter’s. So in post she is struggling with muting the color of the shirt only and removing the cast. I’m very familiar with this problem and have had to deal with it a few times as well. If you’re wearing a neon shirt and there is a reflector used, or anything that could cast the color onto skin, it will absolutely show on your skin. And while you may not notice it most photographers do. I’ve had to remove green tints from children, reflections from blankets onto babies, and mute overpowering colors. My advice is to ask the photographer what he/she suggests based on your location and time of day. Make sure to check out Pinterest pages that belong to different photographers. A lot of us will have a board pertaining to color schemes for photo shoots. Pin away!! It also never hurts to snap a cell phone picture and send it to your photog prior to the shoot and ask for some input! Remember, you are choosing your photographer based on their portfolio and style, so asking their opinion will be more helpful than hurtful!!

And now onto the next…

…hair hair everywhere! Earlier this year I posted from a senior session that I did with Maddie Webb. Absolutely stunning girl with great style. Maddie had the “problem” that a lot of women face- flat hair. She had these amazing curls and waves in her long blonde hair but struggled to keep the volume up to her standard. Unless you have a team of stylists maintaining your mane I’m guessing that you may have this problem too. A few years ago I got turned onto this blog that I found floating around Pinterest. It’s called “The Small Things” blog. The girl who runs it is a hairdresser and she has absolutely amazing hair. She has the asymmetrical bob and it falls just below her shoulders. Her hair always has crazy volume!! She always take pictures of her styles and posts them with how to’s so that her followers can try her flawless style. It was there that I found this hair product called AQUAGE Uplifting foam. oh.my.word….amazing!!! Not only will this foam breathe some serious life into your tresses but it doubles as a hairspray (at least it does for me). I don’t normally use any product in my hair for everyday around the house use. I’m chasing around after my 1 yr old or sitting at my computer editing photos, so my hair is pretty boring and up in a ponytail. But on the days where I have errands/meeting friends/want to look like a human for my husband I put some of this product in. (Please note- I am in no way affiliated with this company, they are not sponsoring this post at all, I simply love the product) I section my hair off and spray it directly to my roots, rub it in all over my scalp, and dry my hair upside down. The upside down part is the key because this is where you will get the lift you’re looking for. Once it’s dry I either straight iron it or curl and and I’m done. I don’t use any hairspray because I don’t need it, but you may as everyone’s hair is different. I buy mine from amazon.com because it’s easier for that way. When you have a 1 yr old the process of getting him in/out of the car to run into a store for 30 seconds is less than appealing, so this way it’s delivered right to my door!

Another product that I am in love with is Kerastase Lotion Densitive GL. One of the stylists at my salon (Daniel Shay of Memphis) told me to try it. Up until last week I had pretty long hair and loved to curl it almost every day. I absolutely hated the process of curling it because my hair is so so thick that it takes literally 30 minutes for me to section it out and go through the whole process. I know you’re probably wondering why I am using a thickening treatment for thin hair if my hair is already super super thick. I use it as a substitute for hairspray. When my hair is wet I will spray that all over my hair, brush it out and blow dry it, and then I will curl it. I may use a teeny tiny bit of hairspray on top of it, but usually not. This stuff holds like no other. I can sleep with it in and wake up the next day with curls still in tact! I absolutely love it. It’s a little expensive and runs around $40 depending on where you get it, but I love mine and think it’s worth the investment. For family photos I will usually be using one of these two products to keep my hair the way that I want it.

 

I hope this short blog has been helpful and that you’ll pin it or share it!