Archive for April, 2008

I love Chicago!

April 29, 2008

Two weekends ago was the first weekend that my husband was off since January. Such is the life of a CPA. So we decided to head out of town, very much on a whim! He came home from work Thursday night, we packed and hopped the train to Chicago (all within an hour, LOL!).

We spent Friday out and around Chicago. We went to Navy Pier, walked Michigan Ave, of course stopped by American Girl and got Mads a mini-Madeline, and checked out Millennium Park. Madeline absolutely loved Millennium Park, she even kissed the bean good-bye when we left.

So now I share some of our images from Chicago…… And yes, that is Matilda Jane she is wearing.  It’s the Betsy Knot Dress and the Allie Ruffles 😉

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Continuing with the series from the Professional Child Photographer blog, we look at why one might chose custom photography.

Custom Photography as something “special”

Custom photography is more of a luxury than your entry level cookie cutter chain experience. Custom photography truly is not for everyone, it requires a level of commitment, investment in time and money, forethought and planning on the part of the subject/client and requires a larger time commitment for the photographer as well.

Clients who enjoy taking a more active role in the creation of their families’ memories have the desire to have portrait art that is truly personalized. These more discerning clients have been known to budget and allot time for a custom photography session. Many clients opt for it to be a once a year special experience, some opt to have custom photography sessions done to record their child’s stages in life. Having said this, it is clear that custom photography is not in everyone’s budget, it is something that most families save for to splurge on from time to time to memorialize their children as they really are (not posed and primped in the cookie cutter studio setting).

There is a great deal of time involved in creating high end custom photography sessions for a client. The luxury of great service, better choices and a supberb end product. The result of all this are heirloom quality images. The time invested at the session is only a small portion of time involved in this process.

Custom photography has been likened to purchasing a fine vehicle. To get to point B from A let’s face it, even a bus ride would suffice. If you want to luxuriate in a finely appointed vehicle, customizing your own experience by listening to smooth jazz while sitting in a climate controlled setting adjusted purely for your comfort in a body hugging leather interior, perhaps that Lexus you so desire is your cup of tea. Custom photography is much the same cup of tea. It is the Lexus of the photography world. It is where the intangibles make the experience truly wonderful and the images themselves make the investment of money and time truly worthwhile.

Custom photography can be broken down into even more levels. There are on location, studio, mixed studio/on location, specialty location and destination type photographers. The beauty of custom photography is in the choices and in the luxury of thoses options. The customized service level you are sure to experience will be amazing. The knowledge that your final images are the result of someone caring about those moments so much that they take extra time ensuring that the artwork you receive is good enough to stand by with their name on it. That level of quality and commitment is all but lost in the age of “mass produced,” “mass marketed,” corporate “everyone is a number”. Custom photography is based on being unique to you. How great an experience would be, to be able to sit back and allow a photographer to do this highly custom work for images that you will most likely cherish for a lifetime?

Keep in mind more than anything that the Lexus will never appreciate in value the way your portraits will. The portrait art you become invested in from your custom photographer will no doubt increase in value and become more priceless as the years pass.

So what happens when you are a photographer (well and a teacher)? Well if you’re me, you don’t get to your own family’s images for awhile. At the end of February when I was on mid-winter break, my mom and I took Mads down to Florida to meet Mickey Mouse. Now I don’t want to sound like one of those bragging parents, but Madeline has had a thing for her US puzzle. And every time she placed Florida on the map she would say “Florida, Mickey Mouse, princesses and alligators live there. Can I goes to Florida?”. So on a last minute whim, we decided to take Mads to Florida to see Mickey Mouse, princesses and alligators, LOL!

When we got to Floridas (as Mads calls it), it was nice and sunny. By day 3 it was cold even for us Michiganders. That is why some images I’m sharing are in shorts and some are in coats, LOL! We started off the adventure at MGM by meeting Donald and Daisy….

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As you can see, she was TERRIFIED! However she had something going on w/ Chip and Dale. She absolutely loved them!

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After the chipmunks we ventured to Hollywood and Vine for some lunch where she met Jo-Jo, Goliath, June and Leo.

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On day 3 we visited the Magic Kingdom. On our way in we were stopped and given one of the Million Dreams. Madeline was given a private one on one princess meet and greet. Now let me say Mads wasn’t that into princesses when this happened. Sure she was one for Halloween. But overall she could take or leave the princesses.

Her princess meet and greet was with Cinderella. And can I tell you, since meeting Cinderella her world has become all about the princesses. We now have the Cinderella DVD, princess dress, doll, book, mirror, magic wand, etc. It’s amazing how quick the princesses can take over your life, LOL!

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That would be my Princess Madeline w/ Cinderella. (And yes, she’s yet again in Matilda Jane….I’m telling you, I’m addicted, LOL!).

After Cinderella it was time to meet Belle (who has also become a fixture in our house!).

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Now by our last day in Disney, Mads was a character pro! We booked a breakfast w/ Goofy and Friends before we caught our plane out. Minnie was the first to greet Mads but she was a FAST mover, so excuse the crappy photo, LOL!

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Goofy was next to our table, and made himself comfortable in my seat! We forgot to ask him to do the hotdog dance though!

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And finally the Chip stopped by to swoon Madeline again. She just loved those dang chipmunks, LOL!

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So that’s a quick overview of Madeline’s trip to Disney. She was at the perfect age. #1 she was FREE because she was still 2, LOL! #2 she soaked in EVERYTHING and loved every minute of it. #3 at this age the princesses are still very real! Honestly I can’t wait to get back again. But I’m trying to remember she is only 3 and we have lots of time at Disney left :)

Continuing with the blog series from the Professional Child Photographer blog, an interesting view on the costs associated with Custom Photography.  I know I’ve been bluntly asked if it costs me $55 for an 8×10.  Here’s some insight into why custom photography cost what it does.

Digital technology is brilliant.  The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and amazing amounts of control for the photographer, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur.  With flexibility comes a price though.  Camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into all of this.

Even though you pay $1.99 for a print at your local drugstore and paying for film is pretty much a thing of the past (although you still pay for memory)  you may be wondering why you may pay upwards of $40, 50, 70, 90 for a custom photography print. Some photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at the local drug store?”


The answer is multifaceted and has a lot to do with the time, aforementioned equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer, expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

TIME of the CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHER:

Approaching it from a time standpoint, for instance let’s imagine if you will that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love and that is traveling an hour to your on location session.  Time break down:

  • session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
  • one hour travel time TO session
  • 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
  • 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
  • one hour travel time FROM session
  • 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
  • 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
  • 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
  • 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
  • 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
  • 1 hour sorting through and checking order
  • 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
  • 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
  • any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

As you can see, average client time for a session ranges from just under 13 hours to 19 hours dependent on the photographer’s level of service.  This is time dedicated only to your session.  When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.

COSTS of the CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHER:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer.  Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography.  A good lens for portrait photography can run up $900 to $2500.  A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.

Then come lab costs for specialty products.  A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success.  Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer  often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip the intricate details.  There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

APPLES to ORANGES:

Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $25 for an 8×10 or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains.  The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service.  According to several articles at the time, did you know that in February 2007 a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation?  The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them.  Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10).  The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait studios in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments.  Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the true “loss leader”.

Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions.  You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience.  Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.

REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:

Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part.  Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism.  A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography.  Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream?  They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..

Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch.  To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity.  The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability.  This is how reputations get built.  Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories.  The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

Hats, Hats, Hats

April 9, 2008

I posted about the La Folie Knits’ hat sale.  But it seems us photogs managed to crash the site and clear their inventory, FAST!  I did however get the hats I ordered.  I got the chance today to exploit Miss R again.  The perk of having a friend with an infant, you’ve got an instant baby model.  Miss R is just about 3.5 months old now.  And we caught these great photos on the kitchen table thanks to a Bumbo.  Boy I need one of those!

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I love newborns. They are so tiny and fresh. They are also unpredictable, LOL! I recently got the chance to photograph N. N was like MANY of the newborns I photograph. He decided to stay awake for several hours, LOL! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….newborns will always do the opposite of what the parent wants. For those that want awake shots, they will sleep and vice versa.

N was nice though…he did give us a few moments of sleep which allowed me to capture some beautiful images. N’s nursery was stunning! And when I saw this dresser and wall hanging, I knew I needed a photo there! I also tried a bit different processing on this image, because the dresser screamed vintage/shabby chic!

N, I can’t wait to see you again in a few months, and photograph your spunky (and cute) big sister S.

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My Mads in Matilda Jane

April 6, 2008

Are you sick of me singing the praises of Matilda Jane yet? With the warm weather we had this weekend, I was able to get Mads outside and take some photos of some of my new goodies. I believe Mads has 3 dress, 2 shirts, a skirt, 2 pants, a pair of leggings and a pair of “shorts” from the new line, and no, I’m not done yet, LOL! In fact my husband said last night (as we were doing this shoot) that Mads looks so fabu (yes, he used the word fabu….I rub off on people) that she should ONLY wear MJ. I informed him that is quite possible, and we nearly own the entire Spring line (LOL!). Um, Denise are you reading this? Not only a photographer but a complete MJ addict here! (and willing to shoot for your next catalog, hint…hint).

Without further ado….Mads in her MJ….Oh and for my photography friends, these were shot with the Canon 50mm 1.2L lens. Oh boy do I want this lens. Maybe if I stopped buying Matilda Jane clothes, I could afford it :)

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About 7 months ago I did Miss L’s newborn images. She was one of the quick newborn sessions. All business, some sleep, some awake, and I was done in 45 minutes. I love coming back and seeing how much my clients change.

Miss L was nothing but smiles the entire session! She was such a ham and a cutie! I absolutely loved her pink outfit and hat. And it matched my pink petti perfectly!

I couldn’t narrow down to just one image to show! So here’s 3 I fell in love with :)