[Photos pictured taken by the lovely and quite reasonable Cassie Herlocker. If you're in Southeast Kansas, hire her!]
After years of getting by on my own, I've had a few occasions lately where I've had to hire a professional photographer. It's been eye opening.
Everyone I take pictures for has been telling me for years, "You don't charge enough." And after doing a review of what other people are charging in this area, I'm afraid they're right.
I'm of two minds about that, though.
On the one hand, one of the reasons Sweet Husband doesn't do art fairs anymore is because he couldn't compete price-wise with people who were only making jewelry as a "hobby". When you're only trying to make back the cost of materials--nothing for overhead, nothing for your time--you can easily undersell your competitors. You also can easily put the people who are really trying to make it their job out of business.
I've done the math. For a photographer paying for advertising and contracts and equipment and studio space...not to mention all the regular costs of being self-employed (e.g. health insurance, continuing education)...not to mention all the time involved from very first meeting to final delivery of photos....it adds up scary fast.
And, while there are exceptions, for the most part the people that are charging more are taking absolutely gorgeous photos. Like, the kind that actually make me catch my breath a little.
On the other hand, with rare exceptions here and there, my clients are all my friends. I want them to have nice pictures of their babies and their weddings and what-have-you, and I don't want them to feel like they have to mortgage their houses to do it.
Also, I like taking photographs. It'll never be my full time career, but it makes me happy. If I ever got to the point where I was feeling burnt out about it, I'd start charging more or just quit. But I'm not there yet.
And, the reality is, I don't have a lot of the costs that a full-time photographer has. I can do my own legal work, and my Nice Father-In-Law/Accountant helps me figure out the taxes at the end of the year. My "advertisement" consists of once or twice a year Facebook shout-outs when I notice that the sunflowers are in bloom or start thinking about the holidays.
I do have to upgrade equipment now and then, and, of course, there's my time--but I feel like I'm covering those things. I'm happy with the hourly "rate" I've set for myself. I get a new lens about once a year, and have thus far been able to cover new cameras and computers as needed.
Like the empty-nesters selling wire-wrap jewelry just to "keep busy", I'm perfectly content. Except that I feel guilty that all of us "hobby" people are stealing food from the mouths of the full-time pros.
I was mulling this over with a friend at lunch a few weeks ago, though, and she said something that made me feel better. She added up what she spends on several photo sessions throughout the year. It was a respectable sum, but would really probably only pay for one session, if that, with someone more expensive. Her conclusion: "We just wouldn't ever get pictures taken. Or we'd only do it maybe once a year or so." In other words, it wasn't a choice between me or someone more expensive. It was a choice between me and no formal photos at all.
I may be self-justifying, but, like I said, it made me feel better--good, even.
What say you all? When was the last time you had family photos taken? Whatever price you paid (and that can fluctuate wildly based on geography, I understand) did you feel you got good value? Or do you avoid getting family photos taken because of cost?
The Kid: Mama, I want bubbles, please!
The Mama: Sorry, dude, we're out.
The Kid: But I need bubbles.
(Searching about, rummaging through the bottles in the shower, settling on the shampoo.)
The Mama: Here, this will make a few bubbles, at least.
[Pro-tip: Shampoo actually makes massive mounds of bubbles. Just in case you ever have a bubble emergency and need to know.]
This little guy (laying in the leaves looking cute, when last we did photos) has gotten bigger, but no less charming. The t-shirt his mama put him in is not false advertising; he's an awesome fellow.
The thing I *heart* about 1 1/2? There's no real posing them. You can encourage and suggest, but they're going to do what they want to do. But the thing is that pretty much whatever they do is darned adorable, so it's just a matter of keeping up.
Not that that was a small feat, mind you. Little dude knows exactly where he's going and it's straight to his mom's cup of Cheez-its!
It's not a secret, at least to you dear readers, that I like to photograph food. But, while I take pictures of my own food all the time, I hadn't gotten the opportunity to play with someone else's food until very recently.
I got hooked up with Maggie, of Magpie's Pastry, through a friend, and was so excited to photograph her gorgeous cupcakes and other goodies for her new website.
For reals, can you think of anything more exciting than an afternoon with cupcakes?
And her two adorable children were wonderful photo assistants, too. (She has three adorable children, but the baby wasn't big enough to hold a reflector!)
Anywho, go check out her new site, Magpie's Pastry, and--if you're local--try her out for an order of cupcakes.
And if you happen to need an affordable food photographer, drop me a line. This was too fun not to continue!
I got to play on the Mamalode Instagram feed on Monday. Not a hugely remarkable thing, but--in combo with the suddenly spring weather--the excuse to have my camera out all day made it feel like an unofficial holiday.
While I think we probably all need to put-down-the-gosh-darned-phone more, I love having such an always-ready tool to notice things. I like being able to save the best of those "noticings" and carry them around in my pocket. I know there are other ways to do those things--journaling, paper photos, or even just tucking beautiful images away in your mind--but my phone camera just makes it so darned easy.
And then I can share some of it with you all, so that's nice, too.
From top to bottom: 1. Last fall's seed pods still hanging on. 2. The day's egg haul. 3. A whole big conglomeration of the Kiddo. 4. My tangled mess of scarves. 5. A quote from my office wall. 6. Sweet Tori, my lap chicken.
Shameless plug: My instagram feed is mybitofearth, let's be friends there!
My friend and I carefully tramped out into an icy field last Sunday morning to capture her beautiful baby bump. I stumbled once trying to walk quickly in the cold, but luckily she was more sure-footed. And the results were worth the tiny injury to my pride.
She always has been gorgeous, but the little pregnant glow really puts her over the top, right?
It broke my heart to disappoint him, but thankfully his mama had come prepared with munchies for him and all of his adorable cousins, too.
The New Year's Day family was one of my favorite groups'o'regulars. They have the drill down at this point, although I don't think I've ever had to coax them to smile through such frigid cold before. Thankfully, they were good sports and I was quick!
[The Kid's Sunday morning watercolor art through the eyes of my SLR alone, and then through my Instax and then my SLR.]
I bought myself an instax camera as a post-holiday treat. On the one hand, it's a toy. On the other, it's very good training, particularly when it comes to composing shots well.
I have never been the least bit ashamed of using editing software to make my photos better--it's just one more tool. And I love that, with the invention of digital cameras, I can take 10 shots of the Kid running around and not feel wasteful when I only keep the best one.
But there's something to be said for really making yourself stop and think before you press the shutter button. About making each photo cost a little something (close to a buck a piece, actually). I don't know that it's better or worse, just different and interesting.
As an excuse to practice, I've been participating in Raincoast Creative Salon's #foliophoto alphabet project on Instagram. Pretty simple idea--starting with "A" each day we're all photographing something that starts with a different letter of the alphabet. It's made for some beautiful photos, so if you're a fan of such things I would encourage you to check out the hashtag. Happy Friday, friends!
Naps are being taken under profuse numbers of blankets.
A quick walk around the kiln on campus to see if I could photograph the ceramic heads in the snow. Alas, the heads have been spirited off to another home, but the rest of the snowy field was still full of pottery.
My tipsy paperwhites, growing out. Alcohol/dirt on the right, water/dirt on the left. The ones growing in pebbles are catching up now that I've turned them into the sunlight. All smell heavenly.
The ladies heated waterer keeps coming unpluged so it's lots of trips outside to check for not frozen water.
Wool socks, flannel pants--wish I could wear them everywhere.
November 24. Oh hey. There it is. Silly me. How could I have ever gotten in the Christmas mood before I pulled out the twinkle lights?
November 26. I'm a sherpa who gets paid in fingerpaintings. Luckily, I really love hand turkeys.
During the weekends of November and December, I can often be found ducking out to take family photos for my friends. This year, instead of photographing every one on seperate days, I decided to have one big ole' "Christmas Card Picture Day" and invite all the "regulars".
It was a long day, but a fun one. I had 12 families scheduled--at my friend Jen's event facility, the Little White Schoolhouse--in half hour increments. With a couple of backdrops and my Christmas play-list cued up on itunes, it was a very merry space for a photo shoot.
Notes to self for next year: Half an hour is perfect. No green icing on the sugar cookies. Hot cocoa and kids in dress clothes? Seriously, what were you thinking? Have them all pretend to drink from the Santa mugs. For reals.
;) Thanks to everyone who came out!
November 17. I had a lot of fun, but I could never be that "on" every day.
November 21. Sometimes you can't get to the real camera fast enough, but it was their first father-son home improvement project so--grainy as it is--it's a keeper.
November 22. Friday donut date! Such a nice bit of fun that we could all squeeze in together.
A few of the fun families I've had the honor of photographing lately....
Up top: As I was taking photos of these two, it occurred to me, "Isn't this about the time you got married last year?" In fact, it was the exact same day. They're making a tradition of doing photos on their anniversary each year. Talk about ideas I wish I'd had nine years ago!
In the middling area: One of my college roomies with her family and kids. All three of her children are darling, but I could have taken the baby home with me, he was such a sweetie-pea.
Down low: A Christmas gift from daughter (in the blue) to mom (in the red)--pictures of the entire family. All told, it was three good puppies, two pretty ladies, one tolerant boyfriend, and a very patient cat.
It all got me thinking that I really must do some pictures of Moe-moe soon. It's been far too long since the last time I tortured...er, um, photographed him.
November 12. Apparently not a single musical instrument in our house is in tune. We play on anyway.
November 13. I'm so tired of writing mad, but there's no end in sight. Good thing I stopped for coffee, at least.
November 15. As she walked us back to the cells, she said she knew a prisoner who said he had forgotten what tree trunks look like. I never feel so blessed as when I get home from there.