They're just pictures!" Why should I invest in professional portraits?
You spent nine months growing a tiny human and all you want to do is get some pictures of him. So you ask some friends who they recommend, you may even go on Facebook for suggestions. Ultimately, you go on Google and do a search for "baby photos" in your area. You find yourself overwhelmed by the choices. There are so many. And well, they all look like good pictures to me. How do I choose? Well maybe I should just take them myself and save some money...because it's so expensive and really...they're just pictures?
Wait!! Put down your iphone!
Let me give you some insight.
Your baby will only be a baby for a year. One year! 365 days of sweet baby joy. All those coos and babbles will soon make way for toddler-hood and you'll ask yourself where did the time go? Better yet...I miss that sweet face. Where did his baby rolls go? Oh...I remember when he used to fit into my arms, just like this. You feel yourself longing to go back in time, before the sleepless nights of feedings, changing diapers, and making bottles at 2am.
You'll look back and realize you only have your memories. But will you? If you're anything like me, you're memory will fail you. With my crazy life, I can hardly remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, much less the sweet expression my son made when he was 2 years old.
Instead, you could be turning the pages of his baby album. Page after page is his tiny face, remembering just how perfect he fit into your arms, that smile he made in his dreams...it's there captured forever.
Custom photography is not for the faint of heart. It's a luxury that not everyone chooses to invest in. But for those that do, it's an investment that pays off year after year when you can look back at those pictures and remind yourself, that the teenager that is asking for the car keys, once was your baby boy.
Can we afford them?
Remember that curved, 65" ultra HD smart TV you just couldn't wait to get? The moment you get it...you realize now is obsolete. What about that beautiful handbag you couldn't wait to buy? Or those designer shoes? (Can anyone say Christian Loubatians) Even that coffee you hold in your hand? Can any of that replace how you feel every time you see your baby boys face on his wall? What about how it makes him feel? Does he think he's important and valued?
Often times I get asked why are pictures so expensive? You're just pushing a button.
I've been a photographer for awhile. My camera and I have some history. I started it in college in the days before digital cameras, when I actually had to use film and process in a dark room. I actually had the chance to use a digital camera (when they were brand new) and I opted to keep my trusty film camera. But I came into the digital world with the birth of my second son, whom we were blessed with thanks to modern medicine and a little thing we call IVF. I was pretty sure he'd be my last baby. I mean, at age 34, I was now wading in the "advanced maternal age" pool along with other moms who were feeling older before our time. So I wanted to capture every.single.moment. I bought a camera. What I thought was a fancy, professional camera. I threw that sucker in auto and away I went. Now my pictures were good. I mean...really good. Right? Well it's funny now how I laugh at them. Not because of the handsome subject, but at the bad lighting and the awkward angle.
It's amazing how four years of learning can do to improve photography. I actually understand my camera, and the settings, lighting and composition, white balance and....the list goes on. Once my images got good, I finally understood what it takes to be a real photographer and it's more than just a fancy camera. It's an expensive lens, it's being able to adjust to different lighting conditions quickly and working with tiny subjects.
It take money to run a business.
I took my photography skills and I turned it into a business. A real legitimate business, and that business has to make money. There is overhead including rent for a studio space, utilities, business insurance, taxes, equipment, props, legal fees, marketing, advertising, and continuing education. The list goes on.
Safety. Safety. Safety. Your tiny baby, fresh out of the womb will be in the hands of someone who knows a thing or two about babies. Actually, not just a baby...but a newborn. There are many things to consider when handling newborns. Like, how to tell how flexible they will be? There are some cute poses you'll see on Pinterest and Facebook of babies in baskets and hanging swings, wrapping like a potato or curled up in your arms. But not all newborns can comfortably be in some of those poses or props. I see a lot of photographers try to pose a baby in what we call the "froggy" pose. You know the adorable pose where you're 7 day old newborn looks like she is holding her own head in her hands, with her legs by her elbows? My parents think it's such a cute pose, but do you realize that it's a composite? It's two photos merged together. All too often, photographers put a baby at risk by attempting poses that take skill and, often times, two people to accomplish. It takes knowledge and awareness to hold a baby and assess what they can and can't do. Then there are vaccines to consider. Has the photographer had their flu and pertussis vaccine? Are they clean? Do they keep hand sanitizer handy and use it often? What are their policies for when someone is sick? As a newborn photographer, we're seeing newborns as young as five days old. They haven't had all their vaccines and can be at risk for multiple illnesses including RSV. Being aware of those things and making it a priority is just another reason to consider a professional photographer who is knowledgable in newborns.
You may think that just any camera can take a picture. Honestly, I'd tell you yes. If you're a skill photographer, you can use any camera and create a beautiful image. Someone will ask me, "what kind of camera do you have? Your pictures are great." Well the fact of the matter, it does make a huge difference the type of equipment you use. I started off three years ago with a Nikon D5100 with a 18-55 f4.5 kit lens my awesome husband bought me after our son was born. I had no idea about cameras and thought I had done my research. But once I started looking into buying one, did I realize how expensive they are. Holy cow! He spent $600 for my little fancy kit and off I went, snapping away 1,000s of pictures. After awhile though, I began to notice how limited my camera was. Some of my pictures were grainy, some didn't have that soft, blurry background I saw in some of my favorite photographers photos. So I did some more research and upgraded to a Nikon D7000. I thought for sure, I was in the big leagues. I even had enough for a lens. My little nifty 50mm 1.8 lens. It turned out to be a great lens that pushed my photography to new places. I started noticing a difference in my images. I was happy, for awhile. Then, I got serious. Really, serious. I wanted to be taken seriously, I knew that in order for me to excel in my business, I needed what the professionals had. A full frame, put-my-big-girl-pants-on camera. This time, I learned, getting a professional level camera meant I was only buying the camera body. The price...ouch. Talk about an eye opener. Then came the lenses. The beautiful glass that photographers love to drool over. It didn't take long for the bottom dollar to add up quickly. However, I was able to capture the type of images I had only dreamed of. Mind you, that was just the tip of the equipment iceberg. You know about icebergs, right? Where you see a tiny fraction of it above the water, when in reality its massive below. Well that is how it is in photography. Most people only see that camera...when actually it's the camera body plus the lens (or lenses), the batteries, the SD cards, the flashes, the bag to carry it all in, the filters, the expo discs, the tripods, the lights, the light modifiers, the reflectors, the backdrop stands...whew...is your head spinning yet?
Then there is time. Time keeps marching on and the one thing we can never get back. It takes time to run a business. When people see me "just pushing a button", what they don't see if the countless hours before and after their session. From start to finish, I invest sometimes 20-30 hours per client. So much that goes on behind the scenes. My clients get to show up for an hour or two for their session, but I've already spent 2-3 prior to that talking to them and getting to know and understand their needs. I've taken notes, and prepared documents. I've made sure that my camera is ready, batteries are fully charged, memory cards are prepared, props are packed and ready to go and that's just leading up to the session. I've got to travel to the location, spend an hour and half chatting and snapping pictures and then going home often exhausted and sweaty. Then downloading and sorting the images and the countless hours editing and finalizing each image to make them look beautiful. Afterwards its preparing the reveal session and creating a slideshow and designing products that will truly showcase your family. I still have to prepare your files to be sent to the printer and follow up with you to make sure how the family is doing and let them know their heirloom album will arrive in a week. Finally I get to deliver that beautiful custom album that will be treasured forever.
Time invested in you.
But that's not all. Because now that we've spent so much time together, I consider you a friend and I want to check up on the kids and find out how they're doing and see how much they've grown. I'm invested in you and your family, like you invested in me.
You see, those pictures of your baby you've just invested in are not just pictures. They're a story, a legacy to tell. Why not invest in something that will last for generations. Imagine this, sitting with you granddaughter and looking through her mother's baby album and telling her how much she looks like her mommy. It's a moment in time only a picture could hold.