Friday, July 30, 2010

Cute Couple!

Before I show you the sneak peek of Krystina and Dillan, I feel it necessary to re-apologize to Dillan for shutting his finger in the door. He is obviously a trooper, seeing as how the photos don't show any pain. :P  And thanks to Krystina for convincing him that having photos taken really is painless. :D

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Storms.............

We're having a lot of them here in Southern Illinois this year! They're haven't been many of the severe variety, which we are thankful for, but they all seem to have a knack for the same thing....knocking out the power! Even if it's only out for a few seconds, it still results in...blinking clocks!!!! We have a lot of clocks in this house, and fortunately only one of them is inconvenienced by this.  All the rest are backed up by batteries.  The one that can't be back up, however, happens to be the one on my stove.  The one that can't be ignored. The one that HAS to be set before you can use the oven.  My husband and I spend alot of time standing at the stove, resetting that clock.  I guess it could be worse...we could have to reset them ALL every time. :P

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Custom Photographers VS Chain Studios

       There seems to be a lot of questions anymore about the difference between hiring a custom photographer (such as myself) or going to a chain studio (such as Sears, Olan Mills, Walmart,etc). I figured that maybe blogging about it would clear up some of the questions that any of my followers may have.

       Let’s first cover what you get when you choose a chain studio.  Most chain studios have no pre requisites for their photographers.  They will take whoever comes first and “train” them.  The problem is that a chain studio’s training consist of showing them which auto modes to use on the camera and how to switch between backdrops.   Your portraits are generally taken with a consumer grade, variable aperture lens.   All of the lighting remains the same through the whole session, and you must pay for additional backdrops or poses.  Then, after they are done shooting your session, they upload them to a screen, with no processing, and let you pick.  Some of the higher end chains will do a batch process on all of your photos and make you wait a couple of weeks for proofs. 

        Let’s not forget to talk about the chain studio’s biggest attraction: the print prices.  I know how fantastic that deal that you got in the mail is.  Trust me, I really do understand.  I know that getting all the photos they promise for that small amount of money is amazing.  But let’s look a little closer shall we?  If you notice the fine print it usually says “on the first pose only.” I myself fell for that little trick when my first child was born.  The first pose ended up being an out of focus shot of my baby sliding out of a wicker basket.  That is the only pose that qualified for the “special.” The other poses I had to pay their normal price for, and let me tell you that when you really delve deep the chain studios actually cost you more.  They hide behind their package specials, and “pay per sheet” specials.  When you really look at their print prices, you are paying them more for substandard work than you would pay a custom photographer for professional portraits.  They know that you adore your children, and that any photo of them is beautiful in your eyes. They also know that you will pay for it.  That is why, before you know what has happened, you have spent $400.00 without blinking an eye.  Seeing as how the amount of time they have invested in you is only the time it took to shoot your photos and upload them  they are making a huge profit.  And your little one was so adorable in that lacy dress or bib overalls that you don’t even notice that orange tint to their skin, or the fact that you can see the railing of the backdrop stand in the photo. 

         Now let’s talk about custom photographers.  I certainly cannot speak for all of my colleagues, so I will just tell you how my normal workflow goes.  When I get an inquiry about a session, I try to respond the same day.  There is a consultation with the client, either in person or by email/phone, about  what they are looking for in their portraits and what kind of location they would like.  Almost all of my work is shot on location, indoors or out, to suit the client’s needs.  This forces me to really know my stuff since I face many different lighting situations; not just the same lighting for every session. 
         After the consultation and booking of the session, it’s time to plan out what I will need and get it all set and ready to go.  On the day of the session I load all of my camera equipment, along with any backdrops, stands, and props that I may need, and drive to meet my client.  We spend as much time as needed to get the desired shots, moving from area to area, maybe changing clothes, and even setting up a backdrop outdoors to get both outdoor and studio shots.  The whole session is shot by me, with my camera and professional lenses, in manual mode.  This way I control the look of your photos instead of the camera.  When the session is over, I load all of my stuff back up and head home.  At this point, the client is done with the session. I, however, am just beginning. 

         Post processing is what can really make or break a photo. I shoot in RAW, so even though I am all digital, I literally have to develop the photos the same way a film photographer would in a darkroom.  The difference is that I do it on a computer instead of with paper and chemicals.  After I have loaded all of the images on the computer, I go through and do the “developing.”  Then I open them in my processing program and I enhance them. There is a big difference between processing a photo and editing a photo.  Processing is simply enhancing all the great qualities that you got right in camera.  Editing is changing the photo, making it different, fixing problems.  But I digress, that is a subject for another blog.  I personally process each and every photo for the session.  When they are ready to be proofed, I usually pack up my calibrated laptop and meet with my client to proof their photos. I do this so the client sees the photos at the colors and sharpness they are meant to be seen.  Their home computer may not be calibrated, and they would not be seeing what I see. Of course I still offer online proofing if it is necessary.  After the client has seen their proofs in person, I upload them to the online gallery so that they may show them off, and let anyone else who wants to order get a look. 
        After all that….I am still not done!! I help the clients decide on what they want if they need it, maybe even going to their home to check their wall space and show samples.  Then, when they order, I load and specify every item to my lab, receive and inspect each item from the lab, package the order, and finally deliver the final product. 
        So as you can see I have a lot more time invested in the process of getting that photo on your wall than your local chain studio.  I also have more invested in relevant equipment, and most of all, knowledge.  I went through way more to learn how to produce the work that I do than a one day workshop at a studio. More than that, I continue to learn all the time.  The changing environments that I shoot in make sure that I am constantly learning. 
        Now to be fair, I understand that not everyone can afford a custom photographer, and that is why chain studios have their place.  I myself have used them in the past, and I’m sure we all have photos of ourselves when we were younger that were taken when chain studios first began.  This blog was inspired simply by the lack of information that is out there on the difference between the two options.   I hope it cleared up some of the questions, and for the next blog I will try to have a topic that has photos. It is after all..a photography blog. ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cutest Kids Contest!!!!

It has arrived!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See my Facebook Note for all the details!!/note.php?note_id=140100712678412

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's been awhile!!!

It has been quite a long while since I ran a special!! So, in honor of my faithful and deserving clients who allow me to be a part of their lives, I think it's time to run another one! 

For the next two weeks, previous clients qualify for the client appreciation special!! If you have previously had your photos done by me, and need more photos taken, this is for you!  If you book your session in the next two weeks, (they don't have to be shot in that time frame, just scheduled), then you receive 30% off the session fee and a free sheet of wallets with your order!!

Email me for more details or to book a session!