What To Expect When You're Expecting...Your Photography Session
It's easy to get overwhelmed with a photography session for your senior, your family, your kids....basically anything capturing a moment in your life you'd like to remember forever.
I'm here to make it a little easier for you....hopefully.
Every photographer and every process is different, so I'm here to walk you through my process so you know what to expect every step of the way.
Before Your Session
Once I have a date set for you, I will send you a link via email to complete your booking process. Your date is not secured in my calendar until you accept your quote, sign the contract and pay the retainer to hold your date. Sounds overwhelming, but I promise it's a few clicks and you're done! You have 48 hours to complete the process. After that I release your date in order to give everyone access to limited dates on my calendar, so please make sure to get it done.
You will get a confirmation of your booking once your retainer is paid and even better, you'll get a reminder a day or two before your session! I don't know about you, but I forget to write down way too many things, and reminders have saved my clients more than once in the past from missing their session. I definitely don't want you to miss your session!
Outfits. That's a popular question I get after booking is set. "What should we wear?"
My advice is to stay away from matchy-matchy outfits. Everyone in a white tee shirt and jeans, even though it's easy to put together isn't always the best. But the real explanation is harder. My biggest advice is the color wheel. Finding colors that are complimentary and will really bring your pictures to the next level revolve around the color wheel. If you're looking for a super easy explanation and ways to make the color wheel work for your outfits, check this article out. Just scrolling down the page will give you FIVE ways to use the color wheel to maximize your outfits. And odds are, you have something in your closet already that works in one of these five ways!
Ladies, I always advise COMFORT as well. If you're uncomfortable in your outfit, it will show. I do a variety of poses, including sitting and standing, so make sure this is an outfit that can move with you.
Another way I always advise people to go, neutral tones. You can never go wrong with neutrals. Want to add a little more pop to it? Pick a bolder color and use it as your accent color. Grab everyone in your group one accessory in that color. Teal? Dad in khaki shorts and a teal shirt. Mom with a teal necklace. Daughter with a teal wide brim hat....the possibilities to mix and match are endless.
Also, I have a small client closet for young ladies and moms-to-be! These are free to use for your session, just ask about what I have and I'm happy to send you some picture examples of the dresses in use!
Location: We will discuss location after retainers are paid and your questionnaire is filled out. I'm a little secretive about my favorite locations. I've discussed it previously in my blog, so I won't get into it again, but if you're interested in why I don't discuss them before the booking process is completed, you can read my reasons here.
Two days before your session, you will receive an invoice for the balance of your session. Your previous retainer will be taken off whichever Collection you choose, it's never an extra fee. Due to past incidents, I no longer edit any gallery images until the remainder of the Collection is paid in full. This includes sneak peeks. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.
During Your Session
Wherever we've agreed to meet, it's usually a little walk into my ideal shooting location. Make sure you have shoes you can walk in, even if it means bringing an extra pair and changing them out. But don't worry, I do try to keep locations semi-close to parking areas, so wherever we're going is usually within a half mile.
I'm looking for interaction with your family during your session. Snuggle the person next to you. Tickle Mom. Whisper your favorite breakfast cereal in her ear. Some of it sounds crazy but run with it. I'm going for the laugh at the end, the way he nuzzles into you, the giggling between mom and child. If standing and looking at the camera the whole session is your cup of tea, I'm not for you. Sometimes I will tell you to literally look anywhere BUT my camera. I ask you a lot of questions and talk about things in my life that are similar to yours. I love getting to know more about you while we're working and honestly, it loosens people up and they forget they're supposed to be awkward in front of my camera. Especially when I'm working with senior boys. They can be the most awkward in front of my camera and when I say things like "Don't you dare laugh at me," as I crawl up on a tree stump or picnic table to get eye level with them (I'm all of 5'0" tall), the first thing they do, obviously, is laugh at me.
Depending on how old your kids are, or what age level I'm working with, I can usually get what I need within about 45 minutes. Younger kids sometimes require more time, and that's fine! Don't apologize! Older kids that are great at standing still and following directions are less time. Regardless, I know when I've got everything I arrived intending to get and end the session making sure YOU'RE happy as well. If you have anything specific in mind, please let me know and I'm happy to try to work it in for you!
After Your Session
Once I get home from a session, I always pop my camera card right into my computer and start downloading your images. Before I have even left your session, I have probably already decided which picture I'm in love with. Once the images are loaded, I do an edit on my favorite and share it on my Facebook and Instagram pages as a sneak peek. Yes. Sneak peeks are given the same day your session was. Sometimes that's not until 9:00 or 10:00 pm, depending on how much chaos my own children have created in my house while I was gone, but always same day. The very rare instance to this is weddings when I've been working 12 hours on my feet and get home late. Those are done next day.
Additional sneak peeks follow, usually an additional 2-3 over the next several days. Once completed, no more than two weeks, you will receive a link via email of your gallery. You are free to share this gallery with friends and family and use it to proof which images you'd like.
Each image has a number associated with it in the gallery. Depending on which Collection you chose, you can now let me know which number you'd like to fill each part of your Collection. For example: 2-8x10's- #14 & 26. You are free to use as many images as you'd like to fill each part of your order. If you get 8-4x6's, please do not feel like you have to order 8 prints of the exact same thing. If you WANT to, that's fine! But don't feel like you HAVE to. My goal is to get as many images from your gallery into your hands. If you work it right, you may be able to get almost every image in print or digital form. You have two weeks from the time your gallery is activated to get your print order in. Due to a high volume of work, I need to get galleries on my page and ordered in a timely fashion, otherwise it creates a huge backlog on my end. Galleries that are not ordered from and expire after two weeks incur a $25 reactivation fee as it's more time out of my day to get it back up and open for you. I do try to avoid having to charge this fee and you always get a reminder the day before your gallery is set to expire.
Digital downloads, once chosen, will always be loaded into a separate gallery. This gallery will be password protected to protect your downloads from unauthorized people having them. You are free to download them as many times as you want. Please just remember where you are downloading them to for easy access afterwards. Download galleries are only active for one month, so please download them in a timely manner to make sure you have them before your gallery expires.
Once your prints are ordered, I place the order to my lab as soon as I'm possibly able. Please understand that my lab is set up to not only be professional, but to get your prints to you quickly. Therefore, once your order is placed at my lab, I am unable to make changes to it. They tell me I have a half hour to make changes, but I have tried previously to make changes as quick as 10 minutes post order, and they have already started the printing process on my order. So please double check all your image numbers and print sizes before you submit them to me.
And that's it. That's the beginning, middle and end of how my sessions work. Did I miss something you had a question on? Please feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll try to get to it in a future post. Or email me directly at [email protected].
I look forward to seeing you out on the beaches and in the fields!
I have been noticing so many wedding couples having trouble finding vendors and venues post Covid. I had a bride book me almost a year ago already, her wedding is in 2022. She booked me in 2020 when quarantines were starting to ease ever so slightly, because she knew brides that had their wedding dates canceled because of Covid, were likely shifting back a year. Making 2021 and 2022 likely circus events trying to get your preferred vendors and venues booked. I put together a guide for wedding couples that will help keep you organized and making sure everything gets done without getting overwhelmed. If you are going for popular dates, such as 10/10/2020 or 05/05/05 (I know, I'm dating myself) make sure you book those even further in advance EVERYONE thinks it'll be cool to have those for anniversary dates, so everything books that much faster.
12-24 months before the wedding
Find your venue can be the trickiest part. Post-Covid, I have noticed venues booking really far in advance as newly married brides try to book venues, while brides that got their dates canceled try to reschedule everything. This is making for crazy backlog, and of course, the most sought after sites are going quick. So make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get the spot of your dreams booked! If you can be flexible with your date, you'll probably be more likely to get space. Also, weddings on Friday, or even Sunday's, sometimes incur lower prices because there's less desirability for those days.
This is also a great time to start thinking about how many guests you'll be able to have with your budget, and what kind of theme or vibe you'd like your day to have.
12 months out
Vendors book out so far in advance. Run, don't walk. As soon as you have your venue booked, start inquiring with the vendors you've been eyeing to make sure you get your dates reserved. If you're going for a popular date (like 10/10/2020 was crazy popular) make sure you are nailing down your vendor before the 12 month mark, because those dates get booked QUICK! Vendors include your caterer (if this doesn't come included with your venue), photographer, videographer, DJ or band, and more and more, I am seeing make up artists and hair stylists being booked this far out. Get a feel for your vendors. Sit down with them. These people will be capturing or setting the mood for your whole day and you want to know you're a good fit! Ask questions, make sure you get contracts and even ask your photographer if they include an engagement session with a booked wedding. Many, like myself, do. It helps us get to know you before the big day and it also gives you a chance to see if their delivered product meets your expectations.
10-11 months out
Make sure you call a few bridal shops and see if an appointment needs to be made. Say yes to the dress by 9 months out to make sure you have enough time for alterations and time for that dress to be shipped to your boutique!
Now that you have your photographer booked, this is a great time to start getting to know them! Get those engagement pictures booked so you have some cute pictures for your Save the Dates! You'll likely be able to find a vendor that can theme your Save the Dates to match your invitations.
When choosing invitations, don't forget that odd sizes usually increase postage requirements. Not a big deal if you're inviting your 20 closest friends, maybe, but it really starts to add up when you have 150 guests!
9 months out
Start looking for someone to alter your wedding dress, unless your boutique offers this service. They may! Just ask!
8 months out
Talk with your florist about your budget and the vibe you're going for. Many will be able to suggest tips and tricks to keeping your bouquets in price range by using blooms in season! Keep this in mind when thinking of your floral arrangements. Remember working with a florist includes you, your bridesmaids, flowers for the ceremony, and usually, flowers for your tables as well. There are many other options than fresh flowers as well. Look into silk or wood flowers that will last forever and may be cheaper in the long run, especially if you have your heart set on blooms that are not in season for your wedding.
7 months out
Maybe you're getting chairs for an outdoor ceremony. Maybe you're securing a giant tent for your outdoor vows. Even linens. Some venues include a caterer, but no linens. Make sure you're aware of what your particular package contains at the venue so you're well prepared the day of. If you want a photo booth for your reception, now is probably a great time to start looking at that as well!
If you're getting married in a church, or on a cliff side, make sure you start looking to book the person who will pronounce you man and wife. Again, if you're choosing a very popular date, you may need to look to do this a little sooner than 7 months out.
6 months out
It's starting to get real! Your big day is only 6 months away!
DIY can take a bit of time. And let's be honest, between your full time job and this wedding planning, you're going to need all the time you can get! Have a night where you invite your bridal party over and get everyone involved. Four hands are better than two!
If you're not sure if you'll need transportation for your guests, think about the ceremony or reception venues, and what their parking areas look like. Will your guests have to park a couple streets over? May be a good idea for you to get a shuttle, especially in hotter months, so guests are still fresh when they get to your venue.
4 months out
3 months out
2 months out
I meet with my brides several times before the day of the wedding. I want to get a feel for what your hopes are for the day, what little pieces you may forget to tell me the day of, the family member you'll just die if you don't get a picture with....tell me (or YOUR photographer) ALL of that! When the day is gone, all you'll have left is the photos and videos, so make sure you keep these people up to date on all the changes or special pieces of your day.
1 month out
The week of your wedding
Yay! It's the week of your wedding! This is time for all the fine details.
Night before your wedding
HAPPY WEDDING DAY
Finally, enjoy your day and make sure to stop and take in the moments. The day will be over so quickly and you'll want to remember this day you've been planning for over a year!
I said a blog post was coming this week on what to expect for your sessions, but in order to write that post correctly, I'm going to take a little more time to do it.
This week I'm going to focus on pictures, and why it's so important to print your pictures.
If you've worked with me, you know almost all of my Collections include prints. I print only at the best quality professional labs to ensure your images are printed on the highest quality paper with the highest quality ink so that these images will be able to last for generations in your family. Just like the picture everyone has of grandma, or even great grandma! You are ensuring future generations have something tangible of your legacy in the family. Time is fleeting. I lost both of my parents before I was 30, and every single picture I find of them today, I swear, is like a treasure. I love going through their friends photo albums, because I know, an image of them will sneak up somewhere and it will make my heart sing.
A picture of my mom with her brother. Both gone now.
This sits on my desk now and makes me smile every time I see it.
Technology is always changing. Depending on how long you've been with me, I started out by giving digital images on CD's. I shudder to think how many of those digital images are completely obsolete at this point and gone. With my newest laptop upgrade (thanks to my amazing husband at Christmas!), I no longer even have the ability to make CD's on my computer. And with my weddings and events, I give a custom USB drive with images. But even USB ports are disappearing on computers as technology marches ever forward to be smaller, sleeker and more efficient. Leaving me to wonder if I should continue to offer these, or just do downloads online like I do for regular galleries.
An image from my CD days.
Computers also crash, or need to be updated. I can't tell you how many pictures I've lost over the years with losing phones (or destroying them), and computers needing to be upgraded. Thankfully, I have a storage system for all client images, but I am not as careful with my own images (though recently, I've started to make sure those are safe as well). I have been contacted by several clients in the past that hope to God I still have their images as they've had some sort of major computer malfunction, all their pictures gone. And I do!
And look, photography isn't cheap. I understand that coming to me is a bit of money. I do hope people understand that me taking your pictures isn't just showing up to click a button. It's hours before a session communicating. It's hours before your session planning. It's hours before your session making sure my equipment is in order, lenses are cleaned, memory cards are formatted, batteries are charged. All in multiples. This equipment is also incredibly expensive and there are multiples I take to every session, in case, God forbid, a failure happens, I can be ready to go with the next battery/card/lens/camera body. Then there's the time after your session I spend. It's 20-30 minutes just getting your session loaded into the computer and then culling (the act of going through the images where your eyes are closed, your body positioning is off, my camera missed focus for some reason....)through the session takes time, and then every individual picture in your gallery is taken in to photoshop and edited to it's full capacity to give you a beautiful final image.
After all that work, after all that money, wouldn't you want to SEE your pictures? Downloading them to your computer, you'll likely leave them there, maybe sharing them to social media. After that, you'll see them once a year as they show up in your "memories". It's hard to really enjoy them that way. Print them! Put them on the wall! Remember how funny it was when I told your kids to whisper a secret into each other's ears, and one thought the other said fart and they broke down into hysterics (that's happened). Remember how little your kids were in the moment. Remember your senior as she (or he) finishes up their high school years and how excited and full of hope they were as they took on life and had nothing but the future ahead of them. It goes fast. People tell you it goes fast, but you never really believe it. Until you realize your "baby" can start taking drivers ed classes in less than a year and you SWEAR she was teething last week. (I'm fine, we're fine, it's all gonna be fine)
The "fart" image.
Print your pictures. And not at Walmart where they're trying to beat prices by giving you inferior products. Print through me. Or ask me where to print! I'm happy to give you some cost effective places that I know won't ruin the quality of my work or the lasting quality of your print. Your kids, and your kids kids, will thank you.
*In a future post, I will be showing the comparison of printing at Walmart, or CVS, compared to a professional lab!
If you've ever asked me about a location, you know I'm a little touchy about giving you a direct answer, unless you've already booked with me. Why?
First, is overcrowding. Two years ago, I did mini sessions in a park. There was fifteen photographers at this park. I counted. Even with photoshop helping me remove extra people out of a background, working around that many people (don't forget to add in all the photographer's clients!) out of images becomes a headache! If you are with me and have younger kids, all those people can be distracting to them as well, making it harder to keep their focus on what we're doing.
Sadly, people don't always have the most respect for their surroundings as well. My daughter was assisting me one day at a popular location. We watched another photographer do a cake smash with the cutest little boy ever. There must've been 8-10 adults with this cutie, all getting shots with the birthday boy. When they left, my daughter and I oohed and aahed over him as he passed us, with his little hat and suspenders.
My daughter helped me finish up my sessions and then as we were cleaning up, we noticed the other photographer had left EVERYTHING from her session as trash on the ground where they had been working. Streamers, confetti, even the plastic container the cake had come in had just been left on the ground.
Many local parks and public areas are starting to implement permit fees for photographers. Reasons like this is why. Leaving your trash and not respecting the area ruins it for everyone. If I shoot at 5 different locations with 5 different permit fees....I have to be able to pick up that cost somewhere. So my prices need to go up, or clients need to pay the permit fee up front. OR, they need to choose another location. It's a lose/lose/lose for my clients.
I didn't have to say a word to my daughter. When we were done cleaning up our area, we quietly went over and started cleaning up their area. There were trash cans on site, so there was literally no excuse for not cleaning up. Especially when you had so many adults that each could've grabbed just one thing and dropped it in the can you had to walk by on your way out anyway.
My "secret" spots...no one is there. Few know about the location. That cuts down on the overcrowding and the litter. It creates a more unique session for you because not every person in town has that same shot.
I also sometimes ask you to do things during your session that may seem odd. Or feel weird. TRUST ME! I'm going for something here! But now, when I ask you to do that weird thing, "kiss with your teeth!", you can do so without a park full of people watching you and your loved one try to figure out what I could possibly mean by kiss with your teeth. It's just you, your loved one, myself and possibly a horse (a horse literally showed up at my last session!).
Lastly, I've had people ask me for locations, I talk with them about the locations and then they ghost me and go with another photographer, using my location. Look, you can work with whomever you love as a photographer. If my style doesn't fit you, THAT'S OKAY! If my price is too high for you, THAT'S OKAY! I take no offense. I do take offense when you sneakily get information out of me to pass it along to someone else. I have spent time looking for these locations and hours out of my day and away from my kids to make sure these spots are perfect for what I need when I need it. I have also, sadly, had photographers try to send people my way, just to pretend to inquire about a session, ask about locations and then pass the info back to them. Unfortunately, more reasons for me to not discuss locations until your booking process is completed. If a photographer finds the location on their own, more power to them! I have no problem sharing the space. I do not work for anyone other than myself though. I put in the time. I put in the effort. Feel free to get out and explore the great outdoors on your own.
How do I find my locations? Sometimes I literally stumble upon them. God did not gift me with an internal compass. My mother once got lost on her own street once. For real. Her sister-in-law was taking her home, turned down her street and my mother argued with her from the second she turned down her street until the moment they pulled into her driveway that she was NOT on the correct street. Another time, my Dad had friends over for a card game and sent her to go grab some pizza for them to munch on. The pizza place was two streets away. We loved in Pawtucket, RI at the time. Two hours later, she called the house and told my father she needed help because somehow she had ended up in Fall River, MA. Of course, she didn't know that's where she was and it was a guessing game as my father asked her to describe her surroundings until he figured out where she had ended up. "Barbara, how did you end up in Fall River?! The pizza place is two streets over on the corner!" "I followed the guy in front of me," she replied. "He had RI plates and seemed to know where he was going." He did! It just wasn't the same place YOU were going!
I seem to have inherited that poor sense of direction. Though, thankfully, not to that degree. And since driving around lost with her on back roads in the late 80's and early 90's, there's been the invention of GPS. Someone must've known I was going to need it. I sometimes get turned around, but I always know where I'm somewhere I'm NOT supposed to be. Haha! So sometimes, I stumble upon locations by just being in the wrong place at the right time. This is an example of one of those locations:
I was looking for another spot entirely, went one street over too far and found this lovely quiet beach that it seems no one knows about except the people on that street. And no, it's not residents only, but it may as well be. The most people I have ever seen at this location is 2. And when that tide goes out, there's frequently seals that sun themselves on the rocks just off the beach. It is so lovely and so quiet.
Sometimes a client leads me to a location. Do you have a beautiful spot you love spending time in, hiking in, playing in? Let me know! We don't have to use just MY spots. Sometimes YOUR spots are way better than anything I had!
Some days I flat out go out with the intention of finding locations. I drive around and stop anywhere that looks beautiful and not prohibited. As you know, I'm not afraid to hike in a ways. In fact, my prep guides for sessions should include making sure you have a decent set of shoes for walking in, because rarely are any of my spots right on the road. Sorry!
So that's the reason I keep my spots on the "secret" side. I'm trying to keep your images unique and I'm trying to avoid dealing with the people that are going to inevitably create permit fees at more popular locations. That keeps your cost lower.
Happy May the Fourth!
I am now officially back open for business!! Woot woot!!
What does this mean for your session?
-I will be wearing a mask while in close quarters with you, such as greeting you, and coming in closer for direction. For the most part, I will be shooting with a longer lens to maintain social distance and hopefully get the mask off and not scare little ones.
-All payments have always been taken digitally, so that will continue.
-If you do not feel well, please, please, please stay home. I am not currently implementing any fees for rescheduling at this time. But please don't abuse that as well. Don't leave me sitting at your session for a half hour before you let me know you're not coming.
-I will only be working with groups of 5 at most. I will not be taking extended family sessions at this time. Please leave your Great Aunt Bertha at home. I love her, but I'll see her when it's safe to do so.
-Please keep your session to members of your household ONLY!
-If your session is a single individual, if this person is older than 12, I ask that a parent or guardian stay in their car during their session. I am a mother as well, and I promise I treat every child that comes to me like my own. I care about their well being and safety. If the child is under 12, I ask that only ONE parent or guardian accompany them during their session. Another parent is of course, welcome to come, but please stay in your car.
-I love lifestyle sessions, but I am not doing those at this time. Please watch my page for the announcement of when I bring these back.
-I am not taking newborns at this time. I do not feel I can safely social distance from them, and with brand new immune systems, I do not want to put them at risk. I hope this is not for very long, and again, watch my page, hopefully I will be bringing back newborns shortly.
-I will have hand sanitizer on location I will be using frequently. You are welcome to as well.
If you have any questions about any of this, or concerns I am always available to talk to you. If you would like me to put ADDITIONAL policies in place for your session specifically, just ask! And please do not feel pressured. If you are not comfortable doing a session, don't do it. I take no offense, and again, no penalties will be charged. We are all just doing our best to get through this and I understand.
In other news, I have been busy during my downtime. I have purchased new editing software which I hope will make things faster and more efficient....you know, once I install it and figure it out. ;)
I have also purchased some smoke bombs!! Fun! These would be so fun for upcoming senior sessions! Or maternities. Or engagements!! Want one for your session? Just give me a heads up before the day of your session and I'll bring them along!
I also started, probably my favorite thing, a client closet for my maternity sessions. Gowns are gorgeous and a jersey material. They are super stretchy and fit sizes 4-16!! If you would like to book a maternity session and want to borrow one of the dresses, let me know and we'll discuss options! Of course, dealing with the current issues, ALL dresses will be used once per day and properly laundered in between sessions on a sanitize setting.
I was set up for 2020 to be my best year yet and I am hoping to still make the best of it. I know we have a lot of amazing ahead still. Looking forward to seeing you all!
If you have pre-paid a session, please feel free to contact me and start setting up dates. If you had a session canceled with no reschedule date due to uncertainty, contact me. We can start rebooking those dates. And of course, if you have plans this summer for a session at all, contact me ASAP to get booked because my summer dates are going to start going quickly due to rescheduling.
And lastly, THANK YOU!!! I watched photographers go under as all their sessions canceled and demanded refunds, leaving their businesses with no money to continue operating. I had not one person cancel on me. I offered dates to reschedule and people happily took them and thanked me for not canceling all together. People pre-paid for sessions. People put down deposits on stuff they hadn't even decided on yet. For that reason, my business was able to continue and even grow to help make the experiences better when we return. I am so, so, so thankful for each and every one of you. Your support has meant the world to me.