I talk about being a full service photographer but what does that mean for you? Why full service photography? Why should you care? Why don’t I just hand over a disc, USB or download of 100+ digital images for you to do what you want with? I believe that just handing over all of the digital images is a huge disservice to my clients. Here are a few reasons behind that belief:
– too many stories of lost digital images that were never printed (“File not found” – GASP! *Cue panic and likely tears*)
– too many stories of prints just collecting dust – just sitting, waiting to be framed or figuring out where to hang them for years or even decades.
– too many stories of people never making time to decide on what pictures they want printed or what sizes, etc.
– too many stories of people printing at consumer labs and getting back prints that were not even close to the correct color or contrast or cropping off important parts
– too many self proclaimed professional photographers not understanding cropping and aspect ratio – if they don’t understand it, I’m sure the average client doesn’t either.
– too many stories of sub-par printing that faded, discolored or deteriorated after only a few years and canvases that fell apart and fell right off the walls
– too many stories of people mishandling their products and ruining them just because they didn’t know any better
Fun fact: I have been in business for over 11 years. I utilize only professional labs to print and produce my products. These companies that I have hand picked each have their own calibration specs and I cannot just send the same file to each and expect them all to look as I intended. It depends on their calibration and the medium it is being printed on. I adjust each image for the specific lab, medium and size – from the retouching to the color, contrast and sharpness, not to mention file size and cropping.
Here are two examples of how the integrity of the image would suffer if printed at an aspect ratio (think print size) that didn’t suit it:
Poor kids… their feet would be cut off. We definitely don’t want that. This is what would happen if you tried to print this image as an 8×10 or 16×20. It just is not a suitable size for this image. Instead, I would advise that you go with a size that doesn’t crop as much or crops none at all.
This stunning mother-to-be just barely fits into the frame without important parts of this maternity photo being cut off. Guess what will happen once you put this into a frame? The frame will overlap parts of the print and they’ll be cut off. Give her some room to breathe!
If it is something that really matters to you, it should have a lot more thought put into it – from clothing, style and colors, to sizing to the medium on which it is printed, where it will be displayed and how it should be displayed. It should also be meticulously retouched and prepared specifically for the size and medium it is being printed and the lab which is printing it. The one size fits all approach is definitely not recommended. I not only want you to have an amazing experience during your session, I want to make the entire process from beginning to end easier for you as well. I want to help you make the right choices for your lifestyle, tastes and goals. I want to help you ensure that these portraits won’t get ruined because you didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to (fill in the blank). I want to learn more about you and what you want from your session so that we can work together to create a custom session that will best suit you.
If you’re like most people, you probably have trouble deciding on which images of your precious child(ren) you want to display. Let’s be honest, too many choices and too much time to decide lead to decision paralysis – not doing anything at all or settling for something that you’ll later regret just to check it off your list. Trust me, I too am guilty of this with my own family snapshots, however, when we have professional images taken I go through the same process I take you through so it gets done and I love it. Just simply tape a standard piece of paper to your wall(s) (no need to even take down existing art) and we can see what it looks like to scale on your walls and play around with different sizes and layouts.
I even did this for a client to include not only a few years’ worth of my images that she’d already purchased the prints of, but also images that were taken before we met. This was the initial layout, however, I hand picked frames and mats in a few coordinating colors and styles based on what she was looking for (and got their approval on them) rather than going with all black frames. This image is taken from the software I use to create these mock-ups.
Another wall design where the client intends to move what is currently on the wall – we can just go right over the top of that:
When you have professional guidance and can see similar images side by side it makes it so much easier to decide which you like best. It also helps when you are only shown the very best images to choose from and don’t have to weed through 15 images that you can’t tell the difference between or the half blinks, etc. I also make sure that as I’m going through the images, I am zooming WAY in to be sure that the focus points are absolutely spot on (which is why I take multiples of each) and weed out any that aren’t (unless it’s just *that* great of a moment and the focus is at least passable) so you don’t fall in love with a photograph that isn’t going to look good once printed.
I also include FULL retouching on every purchased image. For this particular image, not only did I remove mom and dad (who were there to make sure that baby was safe and big brother didn’t accidentally harm her), I also did a composite of the sweetest kiss from big brother and one where baby sister was not making the ‘eeew, he kissed me!’ face. 😉 This was on top of my normal retouching as well as ensuring that the softness and coloring of the image matched that of the ones that they had from when big brother was the newborn. The client did was not charged for this – it’s included. While it isn’t ALWAYS possible, I do my best to make sure that even if I have to mash up two (or three or four) different images of siblings or families, you will get one that you absolutely love. Of course, the goal is for me to get that image without having to put images together, we all know how tough it is to especially get multiple little ones doing what you want at the same time.
When it comes time to decide HOW you’ll display your portraits, there is often so much indecision that we just go with what we’re familiar with – 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10. These will likely get lost in the shuffle, not really looked at and certainly are too small to look great on your wall. You also want to be sure that these images that you’ve spent good money on don’t discolor, fade or deteriorate in 5, 20 or 75 years from now. I use only professional labs, researched tirelessly and ordered many samples (many that didn’t even make the cut) to make sure that I’m offering the best heirloom quality products and I’m educating my clients on how they should be taken care of.
While in my contract it states that I only hold images for one year, the truth is that I just don’t safeguard them to the same extent. I keep multiple hard drives with cloud backup service and just in the past year have been able to provide a wedding couple with their images from 10 years ago and reprinted a damaged print from a newborn session 7 years ago. That’s just one advantage of hiring a true professional photographer and one who has been through the trials and tribulations of owning a small business and managed to claw through and even flourish past the 1 year, 3 year and 10 year marks. This isn’t a hobby or side job, it isn’t an afterthought. It isn’t something I don’t have real time to devote to or don’t care about. This business is me and I am my business. My business is built on my beliefs and values first and foremost – relationships; helping people; making sure that as our memories fade, we have beautiful reminders to help us remember; heirlooms that are passed down throughout generations.