How to choose a location for your session in 4 easy steps!

A common concern I come across, especially from new clients is where to have their session done. A few quick questions will help you to find the best place for you. 

1. The very first thing you need to ask yourself when booking your session, is why you are booking your session. Are you booking because there is a special mini session price? Are you booking to document an event like a first birthday, wedding or family reunion? Are you booking your session because you'd like some updated family pictures? Once you know WHY you are booking your session, you need to decide 

 

2. What do you want to get out of the session? If you are booking for an event like a wedding, or birthday party, a charity event, business head shots, or real estate listing, then this answer is fairly obvious, you want to document the event. However, there are still things to consider. Do you want the entire event captured, or just a portion? Do you want a rigid pose list captured, or do you want a more candid approach, or something in the middle. For portrait sessions that are more flexible, like family, newborn, children, engagement sessions, are you hoping to get a more natural or creative feel to your pictures? Is it more important that you have everyone looking and smiling at the camera, or capturing your children's personalities while they play at the beach? Once you know what is important to get out of the session, you can ask yourself

3. What season do you want to have your session done?

Each season has it's best qualities and an ideal location for that time of year. 

Winter is great for lifestyle sessions at winter carnivals, Christmas tree farms, studio sessions, and cosy home or chalet sessions

Spring is ideal for apple blossom orchards, tulip fields, parks, any type of sunset session involving children (because the sun still sets earlier than summer for children's bedtimes), botanical gardens, parks and fields

Summer is perfect for beach sessions, long weekend family get-together lifestyle sessions, cottage sessions, dock sessions, ice cream sessions, watermelon sessions, parks, barns, botanical gardens, marinas, camp grounds, sun set sessions, forests, vineyards, camps, water-parks, and really any outdoor venue you can think of

 

Fall is absolutely perfect for parks, forests, Thanksgiving lifestyle sessions, back to school sessions, farms and fields and even tree farms if you want to get a head start on your Christmas pictures! 

Once you have your season chosen, you need to ask yourself

4. What location best represents you and your family. My hope is that your pictures are not going to sit on your computer, but that they will be printed and enjoyed every time you walk by them in your home or office. When your pictures are hung, what location are you going to enjoy seeing all year round?  Where you are going to be able to enjoy having your session done? Does your family live for the cottage? Then it's worth the travel fee to have your session done there. Does your family enjoy hiking? Let's make the trek to the woods. Your family are minimalists? Then let's do a crisp white backdrop in studio. Figure out what makes you happy and have your session done where you can re-live it every time you walk by it. 

 

If you've answered all these questions, and have an idea in mind but are still unsure as to where the best location to execute your session is, always ask. I am happy to give direction, and offer suggestions! 

P.S. If you happen across a great location, or hidden gem, I would LOVE to hear about it! I am always scouting for new locations, and if you are the one to tip me off to a new place, there may be a bonus in it for you! 

Why does my session cost so much?

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Why does my session cost so much?

The number one complaint I hear about photography (in regards to all photography sessions) is "It's so EXPENSIVE!" 

I hear it in the form of a question "why is photography so expensive?" and I hear it as a statement "I have high expectations at your prices!" and I hear it as a joke "at these prices I better look like ____(Insert movie star's name here)__" and I even hear it as a passive-aggressive phrase "wow, must be nice to make so much money in 20 minutes!"

And I get it.. it IS expensive. But a lot of things are expensive and we still purchase them because we find value in them. I'm going to break down the actual cost of your session so you can see the value in your session and understand WHY it costs so much. 

The best way to think of your session is as an iceberg. You can see some of the iceberg on the surface of the water (the actual time spent photographing your session) but you don't see the much larger portion below the water. Let's go below the surface and I'll show you what you don't see during your session: 

Before your session: 

Did you know that I do a lot of work before your session? Here are some of the things I do to make sure it runs smoothly:

  • Maintain contact with clients to make sure I know what their style is, what type of session they want, what location to choose, be available to answer client questions like what to wear, when the best time of day is, change our session times according to their schedules or life events coming up. There is A LOT of time spent communicating with clients to ensure I know what they want and make sure they are prepared. This is actually one of my favourite parts of my job, I am a lifestyle photographer, and the more communication there is between myself and the client, the more genuine and representative of the clients character and style the session will be. 
  • Research locations. This consists of networking with people, online searches, and scouting an area. Sometimes it means multiple scouting trips to measure how the light changes and how traffic flow changes, which I do in person. 

  • Creating contracts and model releases. I need to make sure you are covered, and know what to expect, and I need to make sure I am covered if there are changes. I don't like this part, but it's necessary and takes time.
  • Arrange child care. Guess what, those adorable little girls I use for all my marketing material and advertisements? They're mine, and they are still too young to stay home alone, so if our session is outside my husband's business hours, I have to find childcare for them or bring them along. Trust me, it's much better for all of us if I don't bring them along. 
  • Prepare props. I want all my sessions to be unique and representative of the client. That means I am constantly buying new props and backdrops, and my recycled props and backdrops get worn out and need repair or replacement. Finding the right props takes time, energy and money to scout out, shop for, and compile for a session. 
  • Equipment. Buying and maintaining my equipment is costly. This is one of those times you get what you pay for. Cheap equipment yields grainy, blurry and pixelated images. Cheap memory cards don't keep up with the camera speed to catch those gone in a flash moments you get with children, and they don't maintain quality images. Memory cards often need replacing, even quality ones. Different lenses are needed for different sessions, and the quality is very important. Photographing in a dark house or after hours? You need a flash and studio lighting, softboxes and reflectors. You also need gear to lug all your gear, and maintain your gear and clean your gear. If you are going to have all that expensive gear, it needs to be insured as well. Oh and don't put cheap batteries in your expensive gear. They won't last long enough, be strong enough and you can't trust them not to leak when the gear heats up.
  • Sometimes I even need to figure out how to be granted permission to even be at a certain location. That takes time to communicate and I often have to pay some kind of fee (anything from a free session for location owners, advertisements, social media tagging, or a monetary fee).

On the day of your session my costs include: 

  • Travel to and from the location
  • Parking
  • Time shooting the session (I frequently run over session times, especially when photographing children)
  • Wear and tear on my equipment, props and clothing (I am constantly getting holes in the knees of my pants from getting down on children's level to photograph them)
  • Treats to give as bribes to children
  • Child care costs for my own children during the session (which includes the child care provider's minimum, not necessarily just the time spent shooting the session)

And then AFTER the session, the real work begins. My costs here include:

  • Time spent culling and editing the session (depending on the session, this can take hours)
  • More equipment. Computers, calibrators, card readers, external hard drives to back up on, and colour calibrated print quality printers or fees to send to a quality printer all add up.
  • Subscription fees for Lightroom and Photoshop editing software are collected monthly

And finally there are the on-going costs just to keep up a business:

  • Insurance
  • Workshops and classes
  • Studio rental fees
  • Marketing costs
  • Website maintenance
  • Business cards
  • Location scouting
  • Networking group fees
  • Test shoots
  • Portfolio building test sessions

As you can see, there is a lot more that goes into your session than just 20 minutes of photographing. It's a real business with real costs and real value. 

This business is my passion, and I do try to reduce rates often with sales and mini sessions to make sure there is an affordable option for everyone, but it is important that you know why your session costs what it does and where the value is. My hope is that once you see your final images and know what has gone into making them, you'll see the value you are getting for your money. 

 

Jenn

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to the blog!

Welcome to my blog! I know, I know, it's taken long enough right? Well they say good things are worth waiting for, so hopefully I won't disappoint you. 

My hope with this blog, is to give you even more information about how to prepare for your sessions, what happens after your sessions and to share some examples from recent sessions as well.

I hope you'll enjoy following along! 

Jenn