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How much should quality photography cost?

You find a photographer you like… no, adore! Their work is on point and captures exactly what you want in photos: the emotions, the feel. Their work tells a story, the story you want to remember. Then you ask the dreaded question: what do you charge?

A lot has changed in photography over the last 10 years. With entry-level DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras easily accessible at any Wal Mart or Target, the playing field was saturated with many folks who claimed to be photographers but lacked the basic knowledge of photography.

Quality photography isn’t cheap, and as the adage goes, you get what you pay for. You could go to a chain where the photos are posed, plastic-feeling and pay $19.95 for what’s essentially a point-and-shoot shot from a higher end camera that chances are, the fauxtographer doesn’t even really know how to operate on any setting other than “auto.” But when it comes to capturing a story – a real life moment or a candid capture – that’s something you just can’t find in a chain.

There is a lot that goes into quality photography, and the price point reflects a lot more than just shoot time. Not only are you paying for the photographer’s time and talent, you’re paying for the time it takes to process those photos. A camera is only “one tool in the toolbox.” Equipment used in the making of quality photography, like Photoshop or Lightroom editing programs, computers, cameras, lenses and even web hosting costs and mileage driving to and from a shoot are factored into the bottom line. And then there is schooling. A good photographer will know the difference between bokeh and bouquet, and knows their camera inside and out. And I will tell you, we do a lot more than just stand in one place!  I work up a sweat during shoots because I like to find multiple angles to shoot from; I’ve even been known to bring ladders to a shoot, and during one event, I logged over 5,000 steps on my Fitbit alone!

There are certainly good “amateur” or beginner photographers out there. Whether you use one depends on how much value you put on the shot. If you value getting that “first look” photo of your daughter as she walks down the isle, you’ll pay more for the security of knowing the photographer you hire is capable of capturing that.

Some things to look for when hiring a photographer:

  • Do they have a portfolio? A reputable photographer will have a portfolio that illustrated diversity, composition and an ability to “think on their toes.”
  • Does their work make you feel the moment?
  • Do they use quality gear? Although today’s point-and-shoot cameras are more advanced than, say, 10 years ago, a point-and-shoot is still a point-and-shoot. No one should call themselves a “professional” photographer with a cheap camera.
  • Do others speak highly of their work? In the age of social media (and blogs!), comments, feedback and testimonials are everywhere. Do your research.

The average beginner photographer will charge next to nothing. A professional – someone who has years of knowledge and experience under their belt – can charge $125-150 an hour for a basic portrait session.

We all must consider our pocket books when purchasing anything. But consider your time as well and how much it is worth. You’re not only investing in memories, you’re taking a couple hours out of your day to attend a photo session. Make that time count with a quality photographer. You owe it to yourself and your memories to ensure that these are not left to chance.



Creative Ways of Shooting Large Families

Creative Ways of Shooting Large Families

Well, I had another large family to shoot. If you’re a portrait photographer, families make up a good portion of business. I love working with families because the camera captures their individual personalities and makes them shine through. Recently, I had a shoot with a large family who had come together for the July 4th holiday from opposite ends of the country. They convened in northeast Ohio and wanted a shoot with everyone: siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. With two young boys, it was a challenge, but I like the finished product!


During a shoot, clients often ask me, “What do you want me to do?” My usual response is to be natural. If you pose clients in a way that feels awkward to them, it’s going to come through in the photo. The shot above was taken practically candidly. The family was gathered in the field we were shooting in, and the pose looked natural. And I love how each of their personalities shone through.

Some other portraits that I am particularly fond of from this shoot are here:


Memorial Day in Marquette, Michigan: Bikinis on Ice

Memorial Day in Marquette, Michigan: Bikinis on Ice

Lake Superior is the coldest, biggest and cleanest of the Great Lakes. At its deepest point, it is over 1,300 feet. Some parts of the Big Lake never get above 55 degrees fahrenheit. The Midwest has emerged from one of the coldest winters on record. Indeed, for a large part of the winter, it was colder in parts of the Midwest than in Alaska. Unfortunately, the black flies and mosquitoes have also emerged from the harsh winter hungrily! I have been fortunate to be able to spend quite a bit of time on the shores of Lake Superior. The last time I was at the lake, in March, snowmobiles buzzed across its edges and it was covered in ice as far as the eye could see. I spent Memorial Day in Marquette, Michigan along the shores of Lake Superior and had the opportunity to shoot some dramatic photos of this land that I love so much. Here are just a few of the shots from a wonderful weekend.

"Bikinis on Ice"

What a juxtaposition seeing people lying on the beach in bikinis with giant ice bergs floating along the lake.

Beach fog rock low res

Two kayakers low res

Two kayakers exploring the ice bergs

two guys on the beach low res

Presque Isle Sunset low res

As the sun began to set (at nearly 10 p.m.), one of my best friends, Sharon, and I watched the sunset in awe as the colors emerged from the sky, changing from yellow to pink to purple. People celebrated Memorial Day on the ledge overlooking Lake Superior at Presque Isle Park when suddenly a swiftly-moving storm system blew across Lake Superior. Storm low res

The temperature dropped at least 10 degrees and the party-goers on the ledge shouted out in awe at the drastic storm front and temperature change.

Lake Superior is so dramatic.

As Sharon and I began the trek back to her farm in Rumley, Michigan, we spotted another dramatic scene unfolding in Marquette. The Michipicoten, a nearly 700 foot long ship, was docking at an ore dock in Marquette. I didn’t have my tripod, so I wasn’t sure what quality of shots I could get of the big ship. But the scene was too amazing not to try. She pushed the ice bergs along the water eerily and a low fog began rising from the drastic different in temperature between the water and the air. My efforts were rewarded, regardless of the lack of tripod. I could not help but think of the Edmund Fitzgerald; indeed, the Michipicoten resembles the famous Fitzgerald, who sunk in the icy waters of Lake Superior off the coast of Whitefish Point on November 10, 1975, killing all 29 of her crew members.

Michipicoten low res

Thanks to the Curtice Family for having me on such a spectacular weekend!

Any of these images can be purchased on my Etsy site.

Easter Photo Session with Live Bunnies

I recently had a photo session with some adorable kiddos and special small animals as guests. Last year, I incorporated peeps into a spring photo session. That post is

This year, I decided to add a different sort of animal in the mix, one more appropriate to Easter. I have friends who are active in 4-H and have bunnies, Holland Lop Ears, and they were happy to loan them to me for a few days, just in time for my shoot with Cameron and Ali Hughes!

Cameron was quite the ham during our shoot, but Ali, who was teething, was less than thrilled. 😦

Ali cry bunnies low res

Cameron bunnies low res

Cameron mastered the art of funny faces too.

Cameron & Ali bunny chair low res

Thanks to the Hughes family for trusting me to capture Easter memories!

Bridge low res

Creative poses for larger families, Part 2

You may remember the Wise family. Jen and her husband, Jon have a large, blended family with lots of kiddos and lots of action! When I initially did a shoot with them, I admit I was a little daunted by trying to think of ways to gracefully incorporate all of them in the frame in a way that looked natural and fun.

Luckily for me, they are a super fun family who is willing to do just about anything I ask!

The Wise family lives on a farm in a very rural area near where I live. I wanted to include parts of their rural farm in our shoot while capturing the essence of this large family. Here are some shots that came out that day.


The family recently brought a puppy into the family. If you look closely, you can see him in the photo below.



My favorite from this shoot: all the kids together in a group hug 🙂

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-sum-summertime! Fun Family Photo Ideas for Summer

I am grateful to have a handful of loyal customers. I have been shooting one little family since before their son, Noah, even made his way into this world.

Having loyal customers like Bianca and Zach has enabled me to really get to know them and their son, Noah, well and develop a friendship with their entire family. I was delighted and humbled to receive a recent invitation to Noah’s first birthday party in the mail with my images all over the invitation.

Since Noah was a newborn, we have always done indoor shoots. Last Thursday, the weather in northeast Ohio was mild and cool – almost fall-like – which is very unusual for July! I took advantage of it with arranging our first outdoor shoot with Bianca, Zach and little Noah. These are some of my favorite!




Creative poses for larger families

According to a 2000 U.S. census, the average number of children in families is 2. Apparently the Wise family did not fill out that census. With a blended family of five children, they are a bustling crew full of giggles.

Jen came to me with some ideas for how to squeeze everyone into the frame, and I had some ideas of my own. We blended the two and came up with some fun photo poses for larger families.

Taking advantage of the beautiful and unseasonably warm day in March, Jen’s friend, Julie – who also has a fairly large family – scheduled her family session after the Wise family session. These are some of my favorite captures from that session.

Family blanket low res

Driveway family frame low res

hands low res

And my favorite, favorite…from a country family who owns horses, chickens, turkeys, and is active in 4-H…I offer this.

Boots low res with script