Why I don't offer Mini-Sessions

Quite regularly people will ask me about pricing and then follow up with "Do you ever do mini-sessions?".  The answer is, no I do not.  I have in the past, but they simply don't work out.  Would you like to know why?  Stick around, I'll try to keep it brief.  

Mini-sessions tend to be themed sessions that last about 15-20 minutes at a reduced rate.  For photographers who typically spend 1-2 hours on each sessions this shorter timeframe is a huge selling point.  Well my friends, my typical sessions last anywhere from 20-45 minutes.  For kids and babies they stay around the shorter end of that spectrum.  So a mini-session for me would have to be like 5 or 10 minutes.  Ha! That is not enough time for my clients, whether they be kids or adults, to get comfortable in front of the camera.  

The second obvious reason - I don't do themed sessions.  I think they are adorable, but it doesn't fit my lifestyle form of photography.  (see my previous post "Top 5 Reasons Not to Hire Me") My brain doesn't work that way. Last September I thought I'd try a new kind of mini-session. I created a scene where people would still interact naturally with the theme, so I could stay true to my style of photography while offering the requested Fall mini-session.  There we were at a beautiful park full of trees. I had everything set up for the families to make s'mores and guess what happened - nobody wanted to make s'mores. It was a big old FAIL. ha! They just posed in the grass or near a tree the way you are "supposed" to do in a park mini-session.  The families didn't see it as a fail, of course, they were happy!  But I was completely bummed out.  

I DID manage to convince one or two brave souls to make s'mores!  YUMMMY!

If you consider yourself a professional shopper as I do, there are some places you don't pay full price...ever.  I never buy anything at full price at Hobby Lobby, Old Navy, or Kohls. I know for a fact that the items I want will be on sale soon.  Why would I pay full price if I know I can get a discount if I just wait a few weeks?!  This is the final reason I don't offer mini-sessions.  The boring old business side of things.  If people know they can wait until a certain time of year and pay half, or even less, of my regular prices why wouldn't they?  I would! I understand some folks still would pay full price to get the perfect date, weather, etc. for their family.  I just don't want to be the Hobby Lobby of photographers.  

My clients are spoiled.  I come to them, I shoot in their homes where they're comfortable, at a time that works for them.  I kind of like it that way.  :)

52 Week Challenge - Week 13 or 14 or….

I honestly lost track of which week in the challenge I'm supposed to be on.  I had missed a few, but I was ready to get back on track. It was the week of Mother's Day and I selected the theme - MOTHER.  I figured people would have fun with it and a lot of people would participate. It would be an 'easy' one.

Exactly two weeks ago, Mother's Day, I sat down to type this really clever blog about how a "mother" can look different to everyone.  I wrote the first two sentences about how the founder of Mother's Day never actually had children of her own and some other gibberish I can't remember.  

That's when I got the call that stopped me in the middle of my sentence.  The call that took my breath away. My aunt was calling to tell me that my Grandma Brenda had suffered a heart attack and was being taken via ambulance to the hospital. What I didn't know at that time is that she had already passed.  She was gone. The days that followed have been a blur, as I'm told they typically are. Family came, there was a very nice memorial luncheon, family left, and now here we are.  

The funeral home prepared a very nicely written summary about my Grandma. and how she was loved, a little stubborn, and didn't take "sh!t" from anyone.  But I can't shake this feeling that there are still a few things that people should know about this woman.  

1. Most importantly - at one time or many times - she acted as a "mother" to all of her grandchildren. I think we all lived with her and Grandpa at some point.  My sisters, mom, and I lived with them on two different occasions. No place was off limits in her house.  She let us play with her knick knacks, made valentine boxes with us, and gave us snacks after dinner.  The times we lived at her house are some of our fondest memories.  Each of carries a little trait or two that we picked up from our time with her too. I love that she lives on in little ways, in each of us.

My sisters and I with Grandma at a restaurant,when she came to visit us in Texas

My sisters and I with Grandma at a restaurant,when she came to visit us in Texas

One time we were burning leaves in the alley - you could do it back then - Grandma ran in the house and grabbed marshmallows for roasting. She loved that story and told me about it on Mother's Day.  That's my mom, sisters, and my cousin Travis.

One time we were burning leaves in the alley - you could do it back then - Grandma ran in the house and grabbed marshmallows for roasting. She loved that story and told me about it on Mother's Day.  That's my mom, sisters, and my cousin Travis.

That's Grandpa! He's the coolest.  Oh and that's me in the fake rabbit fur coat and Joe Dirt haircut.  (thanks for that, mom) 

That's Grandpa! He's the coolest.  Oh and that's me in the fake rabbit fur coat and Joe Dirt haircut.  (thanks for that, mom) 

2.  She loved to have cereal for dinner. I guess that's pretty common. But she ate some other odd things too.  She would eat toast or crackers soaked in warm milk.  GROSS! She would eat fried Suit? I think that's what it's called?  It's like chilled fat that's breaded…yuck! Ha! But she didn't care what I thought, she loved it!  And I loved that about her.

3. She was funny! She had an odd sense of humor at times, and maybe not everyone understood her 'jokes'. But it didn't matter because once she started laughing you had no choice but to join in.  She would get so "tickled", as she would call it, about something and she couldn't stop from laughing.  

This is totally a "tickled" Grandma! :) Oh that's her brother Pete on the left and Grandpa again on the right.

This is totally a "tickled" Grandma! :) Oh that's her brother Pete on the left and Grandpa again on the right.

4. She was thoughtful. She made sure that if you were ever a guest at Christmas, that you had a gift to open.  It didn't matter if we decided to drag you along at the last minute; she always had something ready.  It wasn't an extravagant gift.  Usually a candle or box of chocolates or something like that. But she was thoughtful.

5.  She worried about everybody.  My freshman year (and only year) of college she would give me rolls of quarters to do my laundry. She and Grandpa both would always ask me if I had "pocket money", which they defined as ten or twenty dollars in your wallet, just in case. And, if I didn't, she'd make sure I did when I left. She wanted all of us to have dependable cars to drive, a little money in the bank, and a better life than she had.  She stewed over minor disagreements with her kids and grandkids.  One time she didn't talk to my aunt for 3 days over some silly difference of opinion and it made her physically ill. She loved deeply, was very sensitive, and worried about everybody. 

6. She rarely talked about emotions and that's because of the way she was raised.  She wanted the best for everyone, but sometimes she would say things that seemed or felt cruel.  She never meant to be hurtful. I know in my heart she didn't.  I believe her intentions were always good even if she didn't express them the right way.  She just cared and had opinions about things.  Like ALOT of opinions. Ha! I believe that's one of the traits I got from her. :)

She was also a total REBEL! :)

She was also a total REBEL! :)

7. She loved to read! She told me once that she had to teach herself how to read.  That she learned a little in school but they didn't really care much how well girls learned back in those days.  So after she left school, she taught herself.  She was proud of that and loved books as a result.  She would read 4 or 5 books in a week sometimes.  Every now and then I would give her one of my books to read and wait for her reviews.  Mostly she would say they were kind of "odd" or "weird" but sometimes she liked them. I love that we shared that.

8. She had cancer 3 times in the last 8 years and beat cancer 3 times.  They took most of her colon and intestines, part of her spine, and repaired her heart once.  She was a fighter! 

9. She loved to take vacations. No matter how little money she and Grandpa had, as their kids (our parents) were growing up, she made sure they took a vacation. She also told me not long ago, that I should be sure to take vacations with my girlfriends. She said, "You don't have to spend a lot of money. Drive somewhere."  I was assured that we would make funny memories. She loved vacations with her best friend, Dee and...she loved Dee. Although I don't think she ever said that. She said if you find friends like that you have to hang on to them for life, because real friends are hard to come by.  She's right about that. 

That's Grandma in the middle and Dee on her right.  Out on one of their many adventures

That's Grandma in the middle and Dee on her right.  Out on one of their many adventures

She looks pretty happy on that rock! This is maybe one of my favorite pictures of her. 

She looks pretty happy on that rock! This is maybe one of my favorite pictures of her. 

10. She liked traditions. We went to the same one or two craft shows with my aunt Mick, Mom, and my sister Kerry, nearly every year for the past 10 years or so.  We spent every Christmas Eve at her house my whole life, except only a handful due to weather or other unavoidable circumstances. After she got sick,  she and I would attend the same craft boutique and do her Christmas shopping the first weekend of December. Those things are going to be hard to do without her.  

Grandma being funny and "cool" at the Durham Holiday exhibit. 

Grandma being funny and "cool" at the Durham Holiday exhibit. 

 

I hate that cancer took away some of her pep the last 8 years.  I hate that it caused her daily pain and fatigue and made it hard for her to do things she used to love. I hate that she's gone and my Grandpa has to move on without her.  But I love that she lived for 82 years.   I love that she had my grandpa to share 57 of those years with. And I love that we all were blessed to have her for the time we did. And... I know she's still here with us, watching over us, laughing with us. 

She and Grandpa - 25th Wedding Anniversary

She and Grandpa - 25th Wedding Anniversary

Love you too, Grandma...

Love you too, Grandma...

Why you shouldn't hire me

About a year ago I posted a blog on the nine or so reasons a person would NOT want to hire me. I wanted to repost it because it was one of my faves.  Well don't you know when I redesigned my site I lost that post…all of it.  It's never to be seen again.  Just floating out in the cyber worlds.  Sad really.  I should think about writing these things down.  Do you ever write things on paper anymore? I'm a real pen and paper kinda gal so I can't believe I don't keep a backup of any sort?! 

Anyway, I digress.  I've decided my clever post about hiring and not hiring me needed an update anyway.  So I'll start from scratch with only 5 reasons this time. 

Top 5 Reasons NOT to Hire Me

1.  You love themed sessions with lemonade stands or live animals that don't really belong to your family.  I don't use pretty backdrops or do themed sessions. It's not that I don't like them. I do actually. I'm envious of the people that are able to do those sessions well. I've tried them in the past, and it wasn't pretty; but not because I don't know how to take a good themed photo.  You see it's simply because my heart isn't in it.  And unfortunately when your heart isn't in whatever it is you're doing, it's blaringly obvious in your work.  It's flat and uninspired and kind of just sad really. My passion, my love,  and my inspiration lies in the "day to day."  The moments in time we take for granted.  The places you live, things your family does for fun, and the blanket your son won't sleep without.  Going into each session without a concrete plan puts a song in my heart!  So if that type of thing gives you incurable anxiety OR you really want those adorable  Valentine themed pictures of your child in a wagon with hearts hanging everywhere - you probably shouldn't hire me. 

 

2.  You found a picture on Pinterest you love and want me to do the same thing.  I'm sorry, but I won't recreate the exact picture you've pinned on Pinterest. And in my opinion nobody should. I might be slightly silly but I do take my profession seriously.  Copying another persons photograph is the equivalent of tracing another artists drawing and passing it off as your original work.  I'm not saying I don't gather inspiration from Pinterest and other places.  I certainly do! But they are inspiration.  Sources to spark NEW ideas.  If you find a picture you love on Pinterest, let's talk about why you love it.  And I promise I will create a picture that gives you the same feeling or reaction without being a carbon copy.   But...if you find a picture and want someone to replicate it entirely - don't hire me....please.  You'll be disappointed and that's not good for either of us. 

3. I don't have a studio.  See number 1 above ^^.  All those same reasons apply. The truth is, there are times I'd love to have a studio and it would make my life easier.  People would come to me.  I could book more clients each day.  I could save gas money. People think having a studio makes you a "legit" business so it would help me appear more credible. Some people are a little nervous to have me in their homes so they don't bother booking me at all. So maybe I SHOULD get a studio!!?? Yes yes great idea. But in order to do my work in the candid style I am committed to, I'd need a very LARGE building.  And that my friends costs a lot of money. ALOT!  And guess who has to pay for it???  My clients do.  I consider myself fairly priced. If I have a $2500 lease payment every month, utilities, etc. my session fees have to increase to cover those costs.  And at this point I'm just not comfortable with that.

 

4. You really love photos where everyone is posed nicely while looking and smiling at the camera. I can appreciate why anyone would want that.  I really can.  Several people I know want that from their portrait experience. By now you probably have a solid understanding of my passion for capturing real life.  So tell me - if I were to walk into your home tonight just after dinner, would I find your family dressed to the nines, sitting perfectly on the couch, looking directly at me, and smiling from ear to ear???  If I do I will probably turn and  run out the front door screaming  because that my friends would be CREEPY! Haha! Listen I'm not saying your traditionally posed family pictures are creepy.  I'm just saying they aren't real and they aren't me. There are a number of great photographers in our state that can get that for you.  I'm just not one of them. So...you guessed it - if this is what you want you won't want to hire me. 

5. You believe that credible photographers should be very serious "all business" people who come prepared with a shot and pose list. **sigh** I used to try really hard to be like everyone else.  But, in the wise words of Popeye the Sailor Man, "I ams what I ams."  I love what I do and I like to have fun. I'll often laugh at the wrong times and encourage mischievous behavior from the people I work with, no matter their age. I get a serious kick out of kids and the things they say or do.  And even when I know I shouldn't smile or giggle at something they say I just can't help myself.  I tell jokes that only I think are funny, make silly noises with my mouth while I'm thinking, and often try new things on the fly. If any or all of these things make you uncomfortable you probably shouldn't hire me. 

If any of these things sound like you, I'm not criticizing.  In fact if you contact me I can refer you to some very skilled photographers who can deliver exactly what you're looking for.  I'm simply saying you won't be happy with me. If you've read this and still think you're interested, call me! I'd love to work with you. I will show up with a slightly shaky plan and a smile on my face! 

 

52 Week Photo Challenge - Week 6

Real Life Super Heroes. That was the #candidchallenge theme for this week.  At first a seemingly impossible theme for me.  But throughout the week heroes started to show up every day. The Physical Therapist who's been pushing me, helping me and high-fiving every accomplishment. My teenage niece, Alex who always dances to her own song and is proof that asperger's syndrome can look different in everyone.  My sister, Kerry, who closed up her daycare business so she could find personal happiness in a new adventure.  My other teenage niece Bay, who always steps up to help and do the right thing even when she'd rather be doing something else.   And the list just keeps on growing.  

It wasn't until last night when I was sitting at a table at the Metro Omaha Women's Business Center Annual fundraising gala, that it all clicked for me.  All of these superheroes throughout the week,  have something in common.  They're women.  They are fabulous , and unique, and not afraid to live boldly!  I met even more wonder women last night.  Kacie, my small business banker, invited me to the event.  She's working full time, planning a wedding, going to grad school, networking and volunteering in her spare her time. I met Brigette who is a mental health practitioner that uses innovative therapies to help children at her Council Bluffs practice. Larissa is a Server and Certified Trainer and also happens to be Kacie's MOH. 

All of these women and so many others in a room...lifting each other up, supporting one another, and celebrating! Here's to all the women out there blazing their own paths! YOU are my Real Life Superheroes! 

See, we are even wearing masks like REAL superheroes do!

See, we are even wearing masks like REAL superheroes do!

52 Week Photo Challenge - Week 5

This week's randomly drawn theme was - DOGS. I'm pretty proud to be completing the #candidchallenge before the very last day and happy that Dogs is the theme.  In fact, I couldn't be happier! If you know me, you know how much I love my Lola. And my Lola loves….well…she loves her babies. That's what we call her toys. She has a whole basket full of squeaker stuffed animals as a matter of fact. But there is one, very special baby, that gets most of her love.

This beaten down bear has been around for over a year. He's survived snowstorms, a turn in the washing machine and dryer (if you ask me he could use a few more turns!), a couple puncture wounds to the chest, and numerous nights outside when he was accidentally left behind.  Here's a little closeup for you.

I don't know why this guy is the lucky one she has chosen to toss around, roll on top of, and fetch over and over again. 

Mr. Bear getting squished joyfully beneath her during an afternoon roll

Mr. Bear getting squished joyfully beneath her during an afternoon roll

Some day this bear is going to have to go on a "vacation" and never come back.  And when he does, she'll have plenty of others to play with.  But for now, I'll just keep throwing him across the room so she can proudly retrieve him; squeaking him over and over with glee.  

Lola's basket of toys. 

Lola's basket of toys. 


New Year New Look

I think I change the look of my website every year….in fact I'm sure I do.  But I find that as I grow and evolve as a photographer I get a clearer vision of how I want my site to function and look.  And this year I think I've finally figured it out.  As long as I say what I mean.  Show what I love. And share everything honestly - I will be candid.  I will be me.  And so will the website!  Thank you for continuing to support me as I work to turn my dream of being a successful photographer into a reality! Without loyal clients and friends I couldn't do it.  So thank you, and I hope you like my little makeover.