I’m so over this whole COVID thing; I’m sure you are too. I’m over the conflicting information, the endless arguments of wear a mask – don’t wear a mask. Fourth of July canceled – how do you cancel the Fourth of July?! I’m over not being able to work with very many clients . . . or any. Don’t get me wrong – I want everyone to be safe and I’m totally down with following the guidelines and have been. I just mean I’m ready to work – it makes me sad and sometimes scared about income – or lack thereof. But as the bank commercial says, “There’s a crack in everything for a reason . . how else can the light get in.”
We are in a time of change and change is never comfortable. But for things to change – so so much needs to change – we must endure these pain points.
Last September I quit my full time gig to work on this business. I had just enough money to get me through one year. I basically took the last three months of 2019 off. I did several sessions and worked part-time at the law firm I just quit, but I also just existed. I was recovering from many years of grief-inducing events that I never really sat down and let myself feel and get through.
When I quit my “career” of 31 years to do this full time, I thought to myself, in an attempt to help me be brave with the leap, if I didn’t make a dime in 2020, I would be fine. I had enough in savings to get by. UH, I DIDN’T MEAN FOR IT TO HAPPEN!
Enter 2020 – It started off okay – things were looking positive and definitely moving in the right direction. Seeds were being planted, I had a coach helping me out and my community was growing . . .
Shortly before the “lock-down,” I decided to take over a studio space. “Well as usual, I have great timing!” I could have backed out of it. I could have said, “No, bad timing.” “I’ll just play it safe.” But at 56 I’m sick of waiting for this to happen! It’s now or never. I’ve waited and worked on this business for way too many years to even say. It IS time (whoa, I just heard Rafiki in my head).
Fortunately, I know several other photographers that I look to as mentors that started and/or sustained their businesses during some of the worst times in recent economic history and are thriving still today.
When this all happened, I was actually excited – giddy in fact. Prior to, I felt like I wasn’t getting any headway on building the structure of my business. I didn’t have my systems in place; my pricing firm; products I want to sell; etc. Then this happened and I felt like the world was literally put on pause for me to catch up. I was ecstatic! It truly felt like a gift.
Have I caught up? Well, for the most part, yes. It’s been fun putting together my studio and my office/client lounge. I have all the printables I need designed and printed. I have created and printed magazines. I have completely revamped my website; produced videos. Designed and ordered product samples. Put together mock-ups so you can see how your photographs can look in your home. I know how much I’m charging and why. But money is going in the wrong direction – well at least only in one direction.
Each day is a different emotion. For the most part, I’m tootling along working on the business – nothing is ever completely done and ready to go in a business. Kind of like when to have a child – you’re never really ready. It’s rarely the perfect time. When I start thinking about designing special sessions – the when, what and where – I feel like “what’s the point?!” It’s hard to plan a party when you don’t know when it’s going to be.
It’s sad and discouraging. Will my business make it through this pandemic? What does our future look like? I don’t want to end up saying, “Well that was a huge waste of money and nothing to show for it.” Will I be the success story that I believe I can be? And God forbid what if I or my kids get sick?! Sometimes, frankly, I’m really depressed.
So, I just continue to put one foot in front of the other as if I’m going in the right direction. I guess that’s all we can do. That’s what faith is, right?
I am open for business and generally photograph out on location more than at the studio anyway, but the studio is safe and clean. And reveal sessions can be done remotely. We have options. I’m anxious for everyone to see and experience my studio, but I’m more anxious to just be out there creating and bringing people joy.
Here are some of the photos I’ve been able to do during this pandemic . . .
One of the most common questions people have when preparing for their photo session is what to wear and what to bring. You want everyone in the photos to look their best, but you also want all the details in the photos to tie together so it looks cohesive and not overly matching. These simple tips will give you a better idea on how you can style your own outfits, accessories, and props so that everything meshes, but still pays tribute to who you are as a family.
Styling Your Photo Session
- Coordinate Colors
Most families tend to match their outfits by pattern or color but for the best results, you’ll want to skip putting everyone in matching clothes and colors and instead coordinate their outfits to play off one another. Let one of the family members secretly be the star of the photo shoot. Dress them in a patterned outfit that consists of at least three colors. Keep the rest of the family’s outfits simple with pops of color that coordinate with the star of the show’s outfit. And don’t forget to take the shoes into consideration as well.
Think about adding hats, scarves sweaters, vests, jackets or even flowers to hold or put in the hair. Consider accessorizing your kids in layers, textures and offer something for everyone to interact with. You don’t want the accessories to overwhelm the photo, but they can be a great way to offer a lot of variety throughout your session. Think of things that can be easily taken off or put back on.
It can be easier to work with children especially if they have something to play around with or hold for some of the images. Think about adding in some props that are meaningful to you and your family, maybe a favorite stuffed animal, family quilt or heirloom or even the family pet can be a great addition to your photo session. When choosing props ensure that they fit in well with the photo session and coordinate with the colors in your outfits – no bright pink bottles of bubbles with an earth-tone outfit. Nature’s decor like flowers, apples, or pumpkins are also a few great ideas for props.
Choosing a photo shoot location might seem like a big deal but it really doesn’t have to be difficult. A location usually drives some of the other decisions you will need to make about your shoot so it’s important to choose the right place. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide on a location:
- What kind of theme do I want? If a particular building or natural backdrop would work well with your theme, look around your area for spots that meet your requirements. If you don’t know what kind of backdrop you want, take an afternoon drive around your city for inspiration. It’s easy to overlook beautiful spots that are practically in your backyard. Ask family, friends or your photographer for ideas too.
- Are you allowed to take pictures there? Make sure that you can legally take pictures at the location that you have in mind. If it’s not public property or available to the public you will need to get permission first.
For example, this is an adorable English cottage facade, it is located at a venue that charges $300 an hour to photograph there. Is the venue worth it? My answer is yes, of course!
A great number of sought-out venues require a fee and many others need permits purchased ahead of time – so make sure you do the homework.
- Is it accessible? Consider that not all outdoor locations may be available all year round or you might not be able to get to them at all. Your safety is also an important aspect to think about before you decide on a location. Taking pictures on a mountain ledge may look neat but it’s best not to put yourself in harm’s way.
- How do you get to your location? Will it be easy to walk to the session location and if not, are you able to change your clothing and touch up your hair and makeup before the shoot? You should also find out whether there is a restroom that’s close enough in case you need it.
- Will the photo session be in a public place? If the location you have chosen has a lot of foot traffic, you need to ask yourself whether you are comfortable being photographed in front of others or if they will get in the way. You might want to rethink your choice in location.
Make sure that your location doesn’t become a distraction and that there is shelter nearby if you need it. Your location tells a story so it’s worthwhile to choose a meaningful spot.
We ALL do it, well unless you are the kind of person I dream of being – completely organized and everything in its place. We put off printing our photographs. We always have tomorrow – right? We are just too busy to sit down and really spend quality time on the computer figuring it all out and then going to the framer or creating an album online – it’s so daunting and time-consuming. That’s where your professional photographer (me) can be of great service.
My service and price includes printed photographs AND digital files. I can also provide various types of wall art, including acrylic, metal, professionally framed prints, canvas, and/or custom albums!
Back when I was a shoot and burn photographer, I would photograph my client, edit their images and then upload the photographs to a site where they could download them to their computer. I have had clients (not many but enough to know there are probably more) contact me and ask me to either send them the link to their photos again or inquire as to where their photos went – several years later! Wait – what? You paid a professional photographer to take your photos or record your wedding and they are still floating in cyberspace?! Yes, I could have given a disc or flash drive, but that could just as easily get lost. THIS is one of the biggest reasons I am no longer a shoot and burn photographer. I value my work and photographs too much to not print and share them. Putting your photos online for you to download sounds super convenient, but I’m not serving you – my client – by doing this.
My service includes the printed photographs mounted and matted and placed in a gorgeous folio box you will want to show off, or even framed if you like. Or you can have them printed in a beautiful keepsake album. You will have something to put on your coffee table and share with guests or just look at from time to time – and pass down through the generations. Do you still get your digital files – YES! But all the other work has been done for you.
I am a boutique business and boutiques are all about personalized service to their clients. I don’t just take photos and then leave you to sit in the dark after work trying to figure out how to download 1,000 photographs from your wedding or spending half a day searching for that little flash drive or disc you put in a “safe place.”
When you see prices and packages of professional photographers like me, you probably step back and say, “But all we want are the digital files.” “It’s so easy – you just take the pictures and upload them right?” “Why do you charge so much and why can’t I just get a disc?” Because I care about you, my level of service and your photographs. There is a lot that goes into those photographs:
- You get a free consultation right off the bat – whether you hire me or not. We discuss what your end-game is – do you want large wall portraits, gifts, album(s) . . . etc. – what you are looking for in the style of your photographs – locations, etc.
- Before the session, I am visualizing, creating a shoot list, possibly buying props – you are on my mind a lot.
- The photo session: We have a great time, different poses, play, and connect. We are done when we are done – if we want to hang out and wait for the sun to nearly set – we do that – simply to obtain the best photographs that you are dreaming of.
- I don’t think I need to mention all the education, workshops, years of practice, and expensive equipment I have.
- Then culling and editing. This takes much longer than your session did I guarantee you. I sit with your images, I toss those that are duplicative or not perfect and then I create. I retouch, head swap in family photos if someone blinked or looks better in another photo, sometimes I add textures and special tones, and I analyze how I want each and every separate photograph to look. I put great effort into making sure every photograph is ready for printing and hanging.
- Reveal session. We get together and you get to see at least 30 photographs all retouched, printed, mounted and matted ready to take home. AND you get the digital files for every image you purchase! Win-win!
Wouldn’t it be a shame to only put your images online after all the work and love that went into them?
These are my sons. As you can imagine . . . getting this done was like pulling teeth. I had to trick the younger one and beg – well force – the older one.
Both of my boys graduated from their respective schools which was pretty cool – both the Class of 2017 (middle school and high school)
As always we ended up having a great time and got some fun images! I know when they’re an old fart like me, they will really cherish these images! And YES – I did print them!!!! #PRINTYOURPHOTOS
I had the pleasure of heading south again (San Diego) to take this young man’s senior portraits. Working with Jake was great – as with most of my clients (minus my own son) – he was easy going and willing to do anything!
I’m happy to add him to the group of great young men I have photographed this past year!