Archive for the ‘education’ Category
“The truth is no portrait of substance has people smiling. Look at the history of painting, Rembrandt, Titian, Goya, Velasquez, Sargent, Vermeer, DaVinci, etc., the subjects gaze to the viewer is neutral at best, neither inviting nor forbidding. It is there for the viewer to see and feel. Smiling is like much of American popular culture, superficial and misleading. It is part of our vernacular, but it should be expunged in photographs.”
– Rodney Smith
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WEST COAST (Portland, San Francisco, Orange County, Seattle)
EAST COAST and MIDWEST (Boston, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan)
Many of you know that I have spent the past couple of years finding my voice in the portrait world. I was a full time wedding photographer for five solid years, and enjoyed meeting talented and creative people from the Boston area (and reaching as far away as Bulgaria, England, Ireland, and Kenya for some incredible wedding commissions). For the record, I still consider international commissions and will photograph for good friends getting married, but I have shifted my daily focus to photographing families and creative individuals in an artful style.
I rented out a studio in Massachusetts last year and enjoyed having a place to shoot during the cold New England winter months — but I found that the consistency of the venue was leading to a routine type of photography that did not fire up my neurons and inspire my soul. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys putting different people into the same configuration year in and year out.
After some months away from the camera, I find I am better able to articulate my vision for photography. In a time when it is easier than ever for individuals to start a side business and try out their amateur skills on friends and family, we also see a proliferation of mall studios doing the “kid on a backdrop” thing. You can get your cute monthly portrait there, and it will please the grandparents and fill out the photo album. No arguments here.
What I argue for, and aim to provide, is the investment in a yearly or biannual family portrait session with an experienced photographer who can document your family in a way that is real and beautiful. Someone to make images that inspire you. A portrait session where you walk away with 2 images framed large and ready to pass down instead of a disc full of digital files that may never make it off your computer. And I don’t mean “inspiring” in the hackneyed sense, but creative photos that fire up your neurons — images you want to frame and display on your walls. The type of photography that makes you sigh and tear up, because you know the images will withstand the test of time and technology.
I’m still on the cusp of deciding whether to move toward only classic black and white image production (we currently offer this for our artist headshots and boudoir), but… I have to admit, the color of life remains a strong pull. I still have a few nuances to work out now that my husband and I have relocated to Portland, Oregon.
As my sabbatical draws to a close, I am looking forward to the final months of 2010 as a time to reflect on things that matter and enjoy time with loved ones.
I’ve always loved saguaro cactus (pronounced “suh-war-o”). They’re found only in the Sonoran Desert (s Arizona, se California, nw Mexico). According to the WHEREguestbook:
“The iconic plant starts out slowly, growing a mere inch or two in its first eight years, but eventually leaps skyward and, between 50 and 70 years, starts sprouting ‘arms’ — the things that look like they’re waving or saluting passerby.”
(x-posted at mergeweddings and decenturbanlifestyle)
Hey guys! I wanted to let you know that I have settled on a lower session fee rate for portrait sittings this year as I build up my studio and explore the kinds of portrait photography I enjoy the most. My session fee (the term for the fee that covers the photographer’s time, talent, and travel) was $X but I just dropped it to $X and $X (weekday/weekend). I have to raise print prices slightly to accommodate this change, but this leaves you with the decision of which images to invest in rather than paying more money up front.
After your session, it takes me about 2 weeks to process through the images and choose the artist select images. I typically shoot a lot during a session and then do a dramatic edit down before a final creative post-process to bring images to life. If you can believe it, the admin part takes up more time than I spend behind the camera! My busy traveling and shooting schedule means I have to block out time every work week just to sit down at the computer and process images.
After your images are ready for viewing, we will set a time for your in-person image ordering session. This is the time when I show you your final images and talk with you about the type of photos and products you would like to order to display in your home and share as gifts. (People find it helpful to have the in-person consult of the artist, as it can be overwhelming to choose between great images!)
The location for our photo shoot can be in your home, on-location in a unique environment, or in our studio space.
Right now I am accepting many types of portrait sessions.
- child birthdays
- high school seniors
- events (birthday parties, bat mitzvahs, etc.) priced individually
Outside Resource: Why does custom photography cost more?
There is a lot of misunderstanding about custom photography services offered by individuals. There are many reasons for the misunderstanding, but high on the list is the accessibility of camera technology for the masses, and the perception that “digital” means no cost.
My first question is… what are you seeking from family photography? Are you interested in a quick group photo that will appease the relatives and be consistent with the family photos you saw growing up? Do you want a cute or funny image for your annual holiday card? Do you want just a few photos, or a series of images in the location of your choice? Do you want a consistent look with a neutral background and even lighting, or a réportage (more candid) feel to the photos? Do you want to work with someone who will get to know you a bit, or someone who will do their job and take a few photos anonymously?
There is nothing wrong with those people who are only interested in getting a quick family photo where everyone looks ok. This has been the American family portrait tradition since the beginning of time (for the now-hilarious user-submitted results seen in retrospect, check out this website). For the quick and inexpensive portrait, mall studios excel. They have been doing this for years. There are senior portrait houses where you choose a timeslot according to their openings and then go out to sets for photos that are consistent with your peers who went to the same place. You can even do a “boudoir” shoot for a very low front-end cost via Glamour Shots (yes, they’re still around).
While it’s tempting to compare an individual photographer’s custom service with that you might get from a large company like a mall studio who does business based on volume, doing so would demonstrate complete misunderstanding about the type of service an individual photographer offers.
Custom portrait sessions are by nature higher cost to the consumer. You are paying a fee for the time and talent of the photographer, who has spent most of his or her life for years leading up to that point gaining the experience needed to wrangle children, provoke natural and flattering expressions, and give consistent quality of imagery. The photographer has worked his/her schedule around providing great customer service and personalized attention while often keeping a small profit margin in order to continue to be able to offer themselves as a working artist. Custom photographers regularly travel to your home or favorite place, and often have a home-based or local studio space as an alternate.
As a custom photographer, I seek to make images as a collaboration with my subjects. I want the photos to reflect your personality and the place you’re at in life. My desire is to offer a wide range of images that might be the best you have ever had in your life. I’m interested in photographing my clients at milestones (pregnancy, birth, birthdays, anniversaries) but also in the everyday moments that piece together their lives. While custom photography is definitely an investment, it is one you are unlikely to regret.
Outside Resource: Why does custom photography cost more?
quote: “In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) 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.”