Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm looking for a few good clients...

Ok so I HAVE a few good clients already- many, many GREAT clients actually, and I love your loyalty! This post is a follow up to what I learned from my chain studio experience. I learned (all over again) why I love what I do, and what separates D'Marie Photography from "those guys".

I love that my studio is private, and that your appointment time is your time. You never have to worry about waiting when you arrive, and you never have to worry about being pushed out. This is especially helpful for sessions with little ones, because their attention span is short! If you had to waste precious minutes waiting around, they might be all done before it even started. I keep 2 hours between appointments so you never feel rushed.

I love that you can make your session custom, if you want to. Clients often IM or message me on Facebook, email or call to discuss their session. Clothes, backdrops, props, ideas, whatever! The more I know about what you're looking for, the more I can tailor it to fit. And if you don't know what you want, that's ok too. I love a client who trusts my creative instinct!

I love that my backdrops don't have wrinkles. Seriously, I do, lol. Go back & look at portraits you've had done at some of the chains... there's usually a 'wrinkled bedsheet' looking backdrop. I use the highest quality muslin canvas backdrops, which are custom painted by actual artists who sign the back of each one. And I use gorgeous seamless paper for a sleek modern look and fun colors. I have (6) canvas and (10) colors of paper now, and I'm constantly adding more.

I love that every one of your images is enhanced and perfected. There's no magical software that just improves your images, this is a process I do by hand for each & every photo. Yes there is software involved, but it's still a process. One that took me many years of studying to learn, and I'm always looking for more techniques to take things to the next level. I read an article on a photography forum a week or so ago that laid out what goes in to each session. Consultations, studio preparation, downloading & backing up images, enhancements, loading galleries, answering questions, placing orders.... I easily spend 10-15 hours making every session perfect!

I love that my clients understand there is a difference in the experience and quality of what they receive in my studio. I know times are tough financially, and sometimes if you have rock-solid nerves you can get in & out of a chain with a few OK prints, and not spend all that much. I get that, and I'll never compete with that. Did you know that for most chains that are attached to stores, their portrait studio is a "loss leader"? That means it's a product they KNOW won't make them much money (or actually be a loss) but it gets you in the door hopefully to spend money on other things. I don't have t-shirts and laundry soap for sale, so that's not a game I can play. But I am very upfront with my pricing, and you know that for just a little bit more you can get beautiful portraits, enjoy the experience, and build a friendship along the way.

So I'm looking for a few (more) good clients, and if you're new to reading my blog or following my work, I hope you'll come along for the ride! I have exciting things lined up for 2010. Look for the announcement with full details to be posted here soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My experience at a chain studio...

I want to tell you a story about my experience at a local chain studio a week or so ago. Not from a photographer's perspective, but from a mom's perspective. I'm always telling my client's how the experience at my studio is so significantly more enjoyable, custom, exclusive, (not to mention produces high quality PROFESSIONAL images that they cannot achieve).

But I had never actually been through the process at another studio... so a friend and I took along our willing little models and off we went.

The studio opened at 9am, and we had a 9:20 appointment. When I called to book I called a local number, but was greeted by "what city & state please". National call center, hmm, already I'm not thrilled.

We arrive just a minute or two ahead of schedule, and shortly after are greeted and told that they'll be with us soon. It's a nice waiting area with modern couches and a lego table that they boys enjoy.

There are 2 studio rooms where they take the photos, and you can see them from the waiting area. You can also HEAR them... lots of high pitched hooting & hollering trying to get some little one to look at the camera.

10 minutes or so later it's our turn, and the photographer tries to make "friends" with the kids. They're not excited. Ben is leery of men anyways, and my friend's little guy is 2. He just wants to run around, haha. And the way the facility is laid out is very distracting. You can see everything from any spot you stand, and it just keeps grabbing his attention.

A wrinkled white sheet is draped and we're told to place the kids in a specific spot. We struggle to get them sitting and smiling, and mr. photographer will not take a shot unless they are on that exact mark, doing as he requested. This is going to be a long day.

It might not have been overly successful, but I will say that the photographer tried hard to get the kids to smile. After 30 minutes of frustration, we were finally done and I couldn't have been happier. THEN COMES THE SALES PITCH. High-pressure sales pitch. Think: timeshare sales. We're brought to a table outside of the studio rooms, and it has a nice big plasma screen. Before I even know what's happening there are 3 images up and I need to pick my favorite of them, in about 5 seconds. Next set of 3, same thing - process is repeated until we have narrowed down the images to about 15. WAIT, I ONLY GOT TO SEE THOSE IMAGES FOR A FEW SECONDS!! Too bad, they're gone now and you only get to look at the 'favorites'.

Keep in mind that after 30 minutes of wrangling the kids for photos, they are all done. Hungry, tired, bored, and not wanting to sit. But we don't have an option... you see your ONLY CHANCE TO PURCHASE IS RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT. THAT'S IT. THEY DELETE THE IMAGES AFTER YOU LEAVE.

He started with a $300 package and worked his high-pressure sales tactics to try to persuade us. No. Take something away and it's $250. We keep playing this game, and he keeps pressuring us "it's only $100 for each of you!". Ugh, I don't need this guilt!

Besides the kids fussing and crying, now the studios are working with the next families and the hooting & hollering resumes. Directly next to where we're trying to concentrate & make a decision on what to purchase. My friend's little guy goes running away, and she goes after him. The photographer-turned-salesman STOPS and says I CAN'T CONTINUE UNTIL SHE COMES BACK. We asked him to speed it up, clearly our children won't make it any longer, and neither will our nerves. His answer.... no, I'm just going to finish going through this.

The waiting area is filling up now with another 3 or 4 families, another 2 in sales presentations, and a few more in the studios. Hectic to say the least.

Oh, and can we talk about the images for a minute.... they're not good. Not AWFUL, but not good. They're definitely nothing I would ever show a client. And yet, as we're sitting there we're both feeling GUILTY. This photographer is sitting in front of us, and we have to keep saying to him over & over again "no, I'm not spending my money on those images you just took". That's an uncomfortable situation to be in!!

We finally make our meager selection (this is just an experiment after all, and the images are nothing I'd put on my wall) and I'm going to assume they are paid by commission because he quickly (and with annoyance) dismissed us to the cashier.

Whoa.... just thinking back to that day makes me feel anxious all over again. The end result was a mediocre image and lots of frustration. Definitely nothing I would ever do again. And now I see why new clients tell me that often (I went to such & such and it was a nightmare, never again!!!!).

There is a positive side to my experience, and it's that I learned some valuable lessons on how I operate my own business. Look for Part 2 of this blog post tomorrow - "I'm looking for a few good clients...."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sibling Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Family Photographer

This is the busiest time of year for child & family portraits! I met this family earlier this year for little guy's 1 year portraits & cake smash (so much fun!!) and they're another department store convert, yay!

Having an older sibling along with any kids in the 1-3 range is always good, and this big brother was especially helpful. He was so aware of the camera & ready all the time so I could get the shot when the little guy was ready.

Mom and I spent a lot of emails earlier in the week discussing what she wanted from the session - minimal props (and whether she could bring along a family heirloom sleigh - yes!), black background, and specifically a request for a nice face close up. She even sent me some sample photos she liked that she found online! Awesome!

I didn't realize I got this shot when it was happening, but it's my absolute favorite from the day:

Big brother missed his school portait this year so we grabbed a few also:

Another cute one together - wait maybe this one is my favorite, haha:

And just to bring a smile to your day here's a funny one:

Great to see you guys again, and I'm looking forward to their outdoor session next spring. Can we just skip winter and do it now?? :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sibling Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Family Photographer

This adorable little family is related to another one of my clients, and had previously tried a session at a department store. Needless to say it was frustrating, and their relative pursuaded them to give me a try. I love department store converts, lol!

A perfect example of how super cute outfits can influence a shot.... this is one of my favorites of the three of them together (which was not an easy feat!!). If you're a facebook fan you saw this same shot posted there, but edited in a different way.

I always like to get some individual shots too. Big brother wasn't giving up smiles easily, but I love how he can't contain the smile in his eyes!

Little brother is at a great age for photos, where he doesn't run away and digs my silly humor. Adorable!

Little sister was none too happy with me but we got a few shots before the tears arrived!

I couldn't resist a brothers shot in those matching hats... could it be any cuter???

Thanks for giving me a try, and I hope you enjoy the preview!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Junior Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Portraits

Today I had a session with a beautiful girl whose family I've known since I was a little girl. Somehow she's a teenager now (and I'm old, lol). Working very hard to accomplish her goal of graduating high school early, she's tackling Junior & Senior year at the same time! So these were the practice run for next summer's full-blown senior portrait session :-)

Seriously, every frame... GORGEOUS. Her mom asked about glamour processing that they saw on a friend's portraits, so I'm showing this first image in a traditional edit, and glamour edit. The difference is subtle (especialy on a face without any blemishes!) but it just makes the skin glow a little!



A few of my other favorites...

Mom wanted a few shots of them together. I took some traditional ones, but for the last few shots I asked for a little creative license. I wanted mom a bit out of focus in the background for a cool looking-thru-time effect. See where she gets her good looks?? UM HELLO, THIS IS FIERCE!

It was fun girls, hope you enjoy the preview & I'll let you know as soon as the gallery is ready!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Looking ahead to 2010

Wow, I can't believe we're only about 6 weeks away from the end of the year. It hardly seems possible! This year I learned a lot... motherhood is not only the most profound thing I've done on a personal level, but it has helped me grow in a big way professionally too. NOW I GET IT, MOMS.

I learned the studio waiting room needed to be more child-friendly, with less clutter and more toys (which are cleaned obsessively!).

I learned what kids can do at what ages, and how that translates into capturing great images.

I learned that from the time kids are walking until about 4, the session will be hectic, but we'll still get the shots.

I learned that outdoor sessions can be a great option for busy little ones because they can run around and have fun.

I learned that sometimes it's useful to put the camera on a tripod and use the remote trigger.

I learned that some props work well, some don't work at all, and there are some I still need to get.

I learned more techniques to enhance your photos.

I learned that I love bouncing ideas off my new photographer friend (DAILY).

And I learned that there are some changes I want to make for next year!

(That was a really long ramble, so if you're still reading, THANKS, lol. And now for the interesting part that you might actually care about...)

I'll be announcing the first 2010 change (well this is actually an ADDITION) as a sneak peek on the D'Marie Photography Facebook fan page ONLY on Black Friday, November 27th. ARE YOU A FAN YET? Find the icon right here on the blog and become a fan today!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Family Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Family Photographer

This is my 2nd family with triplets!! And my hat goes off to them because I can only imagine how much work that is! With the kids being under 3, it was a very busy session. The only other time they've attempted a family photo was about 2 years ago, at Sears, and mom said it was a disaster. Sadly not a surprise, I hear this A LOT from new clients. The big chains rush you in and rush you out and it's exasperating for everyone.

It may not be any easier for me to capture the shot with kids this age, but at least the EXPERIENCE is much easier :-)

This is my favorite family shot from the day, with the little guy in the middle even smiling! YAY!!

What you should know about this shot is, when I first saw it I was SO BUMMED because it was almost perfect. Except mom's eyes were closed! Lesson for my clients: I'm very determined at every session to get the perfect family photo, at least one worthy of your wall, even if it takes a little photoshop work to swap out a head, lol. Here's the original shot:

The kids didn't sit for long up on the trunk, and the reason I was so excited that little guy in the blue shirt was smiling in the shot above, was because he was not happy with me for the rest of the session. Case in point, haha:

Kids at this age only give you 15-20 minutes of attention before they are just DONE. Every client thinks it's their kids, and they apologize, but honestly it's every kid from 1-4. It's totally normal! So we gave the kids a break to play with the super cool microwave toy in the meeting room and took a few shots of mom & dad. They haven't had any pics taken since their wedding!!

I hope you enjoy the preview, and it was great to work with you!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

6 Month Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Baby & Child Photographer

Another one of my favorite families was back for portraits this weekend! We've worked together for their wedding, maternity, family, newborn, and now 6 month portraits! The great thing about building a relationship is you get a truly custom session each time. I think about backgrounds and props we've used before and what we can do different next time to keep it fresh. And we can chat on Facebook about session and clothes ideas, which is always fun. :-) I love a well planned out session, it makes such a difference!!

Mom brought tons of fun stuff for this cutie's session. Outfits and HATS (yay!).

A few of my favorites...

Haha, hysterical!

Hope you enjoy the preview so far, talk to you soon!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

1-1/2 Year Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Child Photographer

A familiar face to any blog reader, this little guy's family had some portraits done a few weeks ago on a gorgeous fall day. Now it was his turn to shine for his studio mini-session!

Now you know that kids, especially boys, that are 1-3 years old do NOT sit still!
Sit on this stool.... no, climb on this stool! lol

(How do you like the wood floor?? I think it's a great addition to the studio and I LOVE it with the black backdrop. So lushy and gorgeous!!)

We've worked together lots of times now, so this time mom came prepared with a laptop & movie. He just SAT THERE and watched, it was amazing!! And right on cue, he laughed at the funny parts. Adorable!

Hey lady, stop making animal noises, you're interrupting my movie!

We moved him to the big trunk, which he loved.

An outfit change and unfortunately the laptop battery died, so we just got a few more quick shots!

It was a total sucess, and we didn't even break a sweat! I might reconsider the puppet and get a laptop, lol.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Which puppet should I get?

I really need to add a puppet to the studio for getting kids attention while I'm shooting so I started shopping around and I'm so torn on which one! There are sooo many different kinds. People, animals, cute monsters....

So I'm counting on you to vote for your favorite! Pole is located on the right side of the screen!! Pole will close SATURDAY AT MIDNIGHT so vote soon!!!!

Here are the pics to help you choose:








Thursday, November 5, 2009

1 Year Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Child Photographer

About 2 weeks before Ben's big arrival into the world, a friend of my mom, who I've known forever, asked if she could bring her daughter-in-law and new grand baby over for some photos. I was officially on maternity leave but that's the advantage of knowing the photographer, you can sneak in anyways :-)

That beautiful little girl was back today because somehow she turned ONE yesterday! Her mommy & I have become good friends and we get together often. It's so awesome to watch her learning new stuff, and giving me a preview of what's to come with Ben.

A few of my favorites from today:

This was a shot from her first session (at 9 weeks old) that her mommy loved and ordered in a canvas (canvas pieces are amazing, make sure you check them out at your next session):

And she requested to recreate it today, I love it:

We ended the session on a high note with her totally cracking up at something on this chair:

It was fun girls, see you soon!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Family Portraits | Rochester, NY Modern Family Photographer

My friend Chelse and I exchanged quick family portrait session for each other a few days ago! We always joke how we're like the house painter whose house is a disaster... we take all of your great photos, but our own fall by the wayside. So we were glad to sneak in a few at least!

A few of my favorites from their session... if you're a friend on Facebook you've already seen some of these. And if you're not a friend on Facebook- find me! Search Denyse Clark.

Stepping out of my regular work, I'm off to do a corporate group shot downtown!! New post tomorrow!