Memory keeping, and why it's important

One of the main reasons I started my business is because I loved growing up and looking through albums and photographs of my parents and learning all about their lives before me, while I was little and even now. It’s something I still even like doing.

This is something known as memory keeping. It’s the physical products from your session or event to share with someone later on. This could include framed photos, albums, canvases, metal prints, and so many other things.I wanted to explain why this practice is so important.

It’s a hard copy.

It is something you can physically hold. I know that it may seem like it’s taking up space, but you are doing the exact same thing on social media. The only difference is that these photos will reappear more often than the ones you post on the internet. You can fill your home with these. They can hang on your walls, coffee tables, bookshelves and much more.

You can pass this along to generations to come.

Have you ever gone through your grandparents photos, or maybe even your great-grandparents? It’s crazy to see how much has changed or even being able to see them as they were at our age. I even love seeing photos of my grandmother, who I have never got the chance to meet. It’s crazy to see the similarities I have with different parts of my family. With my nephew, I hope to get to do this with him. I want to show him all the photos of his aunts and his mom growing up.

It is a part of your history.

This is your story. The photos, the videos, the posts you write, are all about you. They are what makes you, you. These are things that would make your book or your movie. It documents a time in your life. It brings back memories and even shares your history with others. My boyfriend loves showing me my embarrassing photos that my parents have in my house, but he says “It’s you though".”

It’s so important to keep up this practice so many people can have the same experience that I have had and that I hope you have too. It’s the one thing I am really excited about to have. When I started my business I knew that I wanted to make sure that people would get the chance to do this.

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Step by step, how I got this shot

I love having the chance to show off some of my creative photographs. When I am, I always get asked how I “got that shot.” Today, I wanted to take a more creative photo and explain to you step by step how I got this shot. If you want to see how I made the shot the way it looks now, besides the idea planning and direction (so in Lightroom), watch the video to see the rest!

 
 
  1. I knew I wanted to use these string lights I had and I wanted something to do with bokeh lighting (large out of focus circles where the lights are). So I tried it with my cousin, Sam. I knew in order to make the lights pop, it needed to be REALLY dark around us. So it was Christmas Eve and it got dark pretty quickly in the day and it was a new moon that night meaning it would be DARK. So we went into my backyard at my parents house to use for the backdrop.

  2. I positioned the lights to wrap around her so I could get a specific focal point. So in order to do this, I made her stick out one of her arms so when I kept focus on her face, the lights on the arm closest to me would end up being blurry (intentionally).

  3. The way I laid the lights made her face light up as well. I put some in her hair next to her ear as well as wrapped more around her other arm. The arm that wasn’t close to me I had her move it to be close enough to her face to give her more light but far enough to not be in the frame.

  4. Since we were in the dark, I had to keep the camera VERY still in order to keep her face (mainly the eyes) in focus. Once I took a few shots in the same place, I did move to multiple angles, but this one I liked the most and was most in focus.

  5. So once I had my composed in camera photo, I went through the editing process. If you would like to see how this process goes, feel free to watch the video below.

So, overall, what I do when composing a photograph is noticing the lighting around me, location, time of day, what is going to be in and out of the frame, focal points, and angles to name a few. Since I have been doing this all my life, I can pick these points out very quickly during a session. It took many years of practice and I still am constantly finding new things to look out for with each and every photo. Now you can see how I go from a vision in my head to what you see in the end.

My exact client process

Have you ever wanted to book a session with a photographer and just felt completely lost on what was going on? I really hope not. But, I wanted to go ahead and tell you what my processes were so you could follow along and also learn what I am doing behind the scenes.

First, I receive your inquiry.

This is where you tell me that you saw something you liked and may be interested in hiring me. As soon as I get this message, I get to work. I send you a welcome email with information regarding going forward from that point. I will send a few more emails including information with my pricing (I like to be super upfront about them because I want you to be able to make a good decision), as well as a questionnaire to get the ball rolling.

Now, you fill out the questionnaire.

I have you do this so that way when we are in the consultation (the next step) I am not going to ask you a lot of these questions. I can do my research and try to make the consultation more about the details instead of “What are we doing the photos for?”

I want to get to know you and make sure I am a good fit for you. I send you all of these things before I even meet with you so that way if you can’t hire me for any reason (i.e. cost, style, not the services I offer) then we don’t waste anyone’s time. I certainly don’t want you to come see me and then realize that you can’t afford me, etc. I am very transparent and these steps will really help with that.

I also want to have you fill out this questionnaire before hand so that I can get a good idea of what you want and I can present you with ideas during your session. I look at inspiration from different photographers, my own work, as well as Pinterest.

Consultation time.

This is the time I get to know you, and vice versa. I want to make sure I am the perfect fit for you before you even hire me. I offer these either over the phone or in person. I understand that people have busy lives to live and can’t always meet in person. We can talk about anything you want to know about me and I will get to know you so that way I know what it is that I am going to capture during the session. It can also give me great ideas when planning your session. For example, I could have a high school senior that they are going to Indiana University in the fall. I will tell this person that we can totally showcase that in the session and I will make it a priority to get photos with him/her in that gear. It also gives you the time to learn about me, and ask me how my process goes.

Crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s.

So at the end of the consultation I will ask you if you would like to hire me. If yes, we will then go ahead and come up with a location, date, and time. Once we have all that information, I will create a contract for you to sign which will include the retainer payment attached to it. The retainer is to secure your spot. It will be due midway before your session with the final payment due before the session date. The contract must be signed before I can continue with booking your session. It’s not just to protect me, but it is especially meant to protect you, the client.

Session time!

Here is the fun part. The session. I will show up, snap the photos and give you an approximate date that I will have the photos ready for you. I do this the day of to make sure I don’t have anything else super crazy going on around that same time.

The behind the scenes magic.

This is where I do my work. I go through and pick out all the photos I plan on editing. This is where I take out anything that may not be in focus, someone is blinking, someone moved while I snapped the photo, or anything else that wouldn’t work. It’s not that I don’t want to show you every photo I took, but you would have taken those out to begin with so let me do that work for you. Then I go through and make any touch ups needed (lighting, composition, etc.).

Once I have done all of that I prepare 3 types of photos for you. One folder includes the high resolution photos for printing. Second, is the smaller version for online purposes. Third, has my watermark on it. You will get access to the third one. The first two are for me to use on social media, my website and to get your photos printed.

You’ll receive the gallery!

Typically I try to get a blog post sneak peek for you before I send the gallery. I typically do that the day before. Once I send the gallery, you can look through ALL of them. Pick and choose your favorites. You can even send that same link to anyone you think may want to purchase some as well. This is when I will send you information regarding ordering prints.

Order and receive.

Once you order your prints and pay the invoice I can get my lab started on it. I have my lab send everything to me first. I want to make sure you receive these pieces in tip top condition. Plus, some items take longer than others and I want you to get the WHOLE package all at once. (Also, if you decide to have these items shipped to you, it will cost you less to just put it all in once package). I’ll let you know when everything has arrived and I will get it to you as soon as possible.

Last, but not least.

The last step is to fill out a survey. It’s mainly so I can see how I did and how I can better my business. I want to make sure that if you didn’t think I did something right or if there was a way I could do it better, I would LOVE to hear your suggestions. I don’t know what it’s like getting any of this stuff from myself so I need to hear it. Tell me all.

I hope this post gives you better insight into how I run my business. I would love to hear any suggestions from you as well. Feel free to comment below anything you can think of.

How I scout unique locations for sessions

Every time I get a potential client, I send them a questionnaire regarding what they would like from their session. One of the questions that I ask if they have any particular places they find special or would like me to check out. I do this to try to get some information about them and see what they like. However, most people just say, “no I trust you” which means I have to come up with something special for them.

Challenge accepted.

I wanted to take you through my exact process on how I scout for unique locations for sessions.

First step

Get a city/town location. I at least want to get this from the couples so that way no one is traveling too far. I also can see which cities are around that I have already been to or know I will be heading to in the near future. If I have already been to some of these places, I can choose to either use some locations I have already used or try and find new places.

Step two

Whether I have been there or not, I try to go before hand and scout out some locations. I want to make sure I know exactly where I want to shoot the day of the session. I will take photos of different places I think will work. I will even try to bring someone along with me so they can pose for me in these locations so I can test out the lighting and if each place will actually work.

While I am searching for these locations, I try to find places that include neutral backgrounds, and even have texture. I even look for layers, and try to find natural things as well. Some examples would be in a park surrounded by nature, brick walls, or even something that stands out but isn’t distracting like a colored door.

The key is to find something that won’t take away from the subject (the clients). You want them to enhance the photo and could even use them for props. You just don’t want them to be the center focus of the photograph.

If I can’t get there before hand, I will try and do some research. I use Instagram and Pinterest to help me out with this. I use the geotags and just search locations throughout that city/town. I look for articles relating to places to photograph. I have actually done this for my sisters session as we HAD to get these photos done on a certain day because of time constraints for holiday cards and we were all busy the other days. It was going to rain that day. I had to come up with something that we could do indoors. My roommate found this article with the Indy Star on top Instagramable places in Indy. We ended up using the Indianapolis Public Library and it worked perfectly because of all the windows that were in it. Lighting was perfect.

Three

Once I have come up with some places, I will let the client know that I have come up with some ideas and will let them know if they are all in close proximity or if we may be doing some walking or driving. I will tell them where to meet and I will do my best to find a spot with free parking or the lowest cost parking. Depending on the session type will depend on how many of the locations we will get to. I end up finding way more than I need so that way if we go through a few quickly, I can have more up my sleeve if need be.

All it takes is a little planning and exploring and I can easily come up with great places for every session.

Week of Chocolate - A photo collage

These past two years I have been asked to take photographs for the Week of Chocolate. This is a fundraising week (or two) for Life Designs here in Bloomington. Life Designs provides services and supports people with disabilities by supporting them with community living, education, employment, support services, and housing. They are a comprehensive resource for people with disabilities and their families in south central Indiana. They offer services for every stage of life. They aim to facilitate active citizenship, fulfilling relationships, and rewarding employment through inclusive communities that foster dignity and respect.

The Week of Chocolate has many events throughout the month of February to raise money for this program. There is a gallery viewing, a fashion show, a pampering event as well as their main event, Art of Chocolate. Last year, I was on a mission to help my community and Life Designs took a chance on me and let me photograph their events. I must have done a good job because they asked me back again this year. I volunteer my services to help give back to this company. I even help by setting up a photo booth during the Art of Chocolate and each photo booth session cost gets donated to Life Designs.

I wanted to share some highlights from these past few weeks. Thank you again Life Designs for all that you do!