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  • Welcome to my blog!

    This blog contains updated content about pretty much all the coming and goings of the studio. It also may contain some rants and raves depending on whether there is a full moon. Feel free to leave me a comment. You can also pass these images onto Facebook or Twitter if the spirit moves you!

Is there a difference?

 

It seems like every day, I encounter a new photographer in the area.  Sometimes they come and go before I even recognize they had a presence.  In their quest to take start their business, they usually offer everything and the kitchen sink for next to nothing in order to fill their portfolio up with images.  I remember when I first started, I would do shoots for free at first.  Then, slowly, started charging.  As I got more educated, more experienced and wiser with business sense, I realized that I had to treat this as a business and not as a fun hobby in order to make it.

The days of taking portraits and giving the clients a DVD of un-edited images, un-color corrected, un-retouched portraits are over. Why?  Because I believe that the work that hits the street that I call “Mine” should be nothing but the best.  Everything is finished.  From retouching to printing, the image is a prized possession that will last the test of time.

So, the question that always swirls around in my head is two part.  First, why do photographers or so called photographers under cut other photographers by giving out a ton of images on a DVD, or a download that have blinks, are not color corrected, bad lighting and in general look horrible after being in the business of photography for a few years?

And secondly, I often wonder does the client really know the difference between a properly lit image, a properly color corrected image or are they just price shopping?

As part of all my portrait sessions, I explain to the client that their session does not end after I click the shutter.  He/She is invited back to my studio where I will personally sit down with them and teach them what to look for in a great photograph.  Mind you, this is not done by putting images in an online gallery.  The next step is retouching and color correction with the chosen images.  This is huge.  Lets say that on the day of your session, you woke up with a blemish.  Why would you want to see that on your final image?  Was there lint on your clothing?  Does your skin color look normal?

And lastly, the print.  There is definitely something to be said for having that final image to display.  And yes, on archival paper to last for years and years.

So, while it seems like I am on a tangent about other photographers, I am not.  I just wish that everyone would do their research.  I guess it always boils down to that old saying… “You get what you pay for!”

 

When I was a junior in high school, my mother insisted I take typing.  She used to say “No matter what, you can always get a job typing!”  So, my first class was filled with much anticipation of learning how to master this weird looking machine.  Now mind you, the photo above looks nothing like what I started with.  My typewriter was a manual version.  Yep, the kind without electric.

As I took a seat in the third row back (I always sat in the same spot), a man entered the room who literally was close to 100 years old (or so I thought being the ripe old age of 16 I was.  He shuffled into the room with a pencil in his hand and pulled down the typewriter chart in the front of the room.  After taking role and scratching his grey hair several times with the eraser part of the pencil, he made everyone sit back in their seat and put their 8 fingers on the center row of keys.  Slowly, we all pecked at two keys at a time… “A,S…. A,S, A,S….S,D….S,D and so on and so forth.  By the third week, I was on to this party and knew I was well on my way to an A in this class.

In my senior year of high school, I moved onto the heavier stuff… Typing 2!.  It was there that the electric typewriter was introduced.  This was the big leagues and we were all timed and graded on how fast we could type.  I never understood why we had to type fast.  If it was correct, who cared how fast I could get it done! For one straight hour, nothing possibly could enter your mind because the screaming of 30 other electric typewriters working at Daytona speed drummed into my eardrum. It wasn’t until I went for my first office job interview that they put me in a room with an electric typewriter and timed me for 5 minutes of straight typing.

Learning to work a typewriter seemed to be quite an accomplishment.  If only learning to use a computer, a camera, a flash meter, Quick Books, fixing a printer jam, designing albums, uploading to labs, and on and on… would be as straight forward as Mr. Keller’s first semester typing class.

As I write this blog, it is 9:30 at night.  Most people are relaxing in front of the box watching their favorite shows.  Being in business for yourself is a constant dive into “how to” books, manuals, podcasts, networking and so on and so forth.  I wish it was as easy as just learning how to type.

Sometimes you just have to keep pushing forward and learning new things to keep your head above the crowd.  I do yearn for those younger years when the phone was attached to the wall, no one called after 9:00 p.m. and no one worked on the weekends.  But, we all must rise with the tide.  Hopefully, I won’t have to read any more manuals in 2017!

Stay well.

donna

P.S.  I made both my kids take “typing” in high school as well!  By then, they called it “keyboarding”.  No one finger typers in this family!

High school senior photographs are one of my main stays of business.  The conclusion of 12 years of schooling is a big deal.  A whole new chapter is beginning for the student as well as the parent.  Although everyone at their home school gets an opportunity to be photographed by their school photographer, why would you as a parent ever want to take the time and have additional photographs taken of your son or daughter?  Well, lets just say in reality, that stiffly posed photograph in a cap and gown that 400 students have worn that day really doesn’t capture the true soul of your graduating child.  Is that snap taken by the school photographer memorable?  Hmmmm… maybe.  Though, is it really who they are?  That’s where my job and my passion come in.

Meet Emma.  I had photographed Emma’s sister a few years ago so I kinda knew what Emma’s family wanted.  However, if this was a cold call, my questions would be more about Emma herself, her personality, what she likes and dislikes.  In this case, I knew that Emma loved the outdoors and that was where her parents felt Emma would shine.

Once we establish a place, then I walk through with Emma and her mom what kind of clothes to bring.  I strongly suggest bringing 3 total looks.  Two of them should be slightly dressy and one should casual.

There are two times a day I love to do outdoor photographs.  Early morning and then again about an hour before sunset.  This is obviously because the light is so beautiful at this time.

I always start out with the dressy look.  It can be a sun dress, a party dress or just a regular fun dress.  This is because I know that in the beginning of the session, the client’s makeup is fresh and hair is perfect.  Sometimes when it is humid out, by the end of the session we are all a sweat mess.

I always love to have the subject look away in the beginning.  They are always very nervous as we start out.  This nervousness lasts about ten minutes or so.  As you can see by her body language in the next two shots, she started to open up and feel comfy.

I am a strong believer of just looking deeply into the camera.  Yes, we all know she has a beautiful smile, but I believe in looking into her soul.    The next photograph was taken when she changed into her casual clothing.  I had her sit down and photographed her through some foliage.  You can see the foliage in the front of the lens.  Notice that her body language is more relaxed.  This was about 30 minutes into the session.

The very last series of photographs I shot were on the deck near the water (see above).  I saw the sunlight highlighting her hair and could not pass it up.  This is one of my favorites.  My super favorite though is the one of her looking away (see up).

Every high school senior session is different.  As a photographer, I pride myself on listening.  It takes ears as well as eyes to capture one’s soul.  Knowing what the client likes is one step closer to creating amazing portraits that will be treasured for years to come.

Joy!

donna

Dear Friends…
The past week has been filled with so much grief and tragedy as a result of  result of Hurricane Harvey hitting the Houston area as well as the New Orleans coast.  According to the Daily Mail, the devastation has reached $35 billion dollars.  Yes… Billion.
Compassion and thoughtfulness is the name of the game.  How can we help?  How can any of us help?  The answer is to donate.
This Sunday and Monday, Labor Day weekend, anyone who books an outdoor portrait session will have 50% of their portrait session fee donated to the American Red Cross.   Of your session fee of $125.00, half $62.50 will be donated to the American Red Cross for Harvey victims.
“But wait… there’s more….” 
Any wall portrait purchase will receive an additional 8 x 12 custom print on metal!  These new unique images have been the talk of the town and would make a wonderful holiday present or stand alone statement on an easel.  This is a $275 value in my studio!
 
All portrait sessions must be paid in full at booking.  I will be photographing sessions at two Bucks County Parks duringSunday and Monday.  
 
Call the studio asap to get your time allotted.    Be a part of Harvey’s help.  It is a win win for everyone this way!
Thank you.  
Donna Lere

As we approach the end of summer, all of our thoughts are geared to squeezing the last possible ounce of outdoor fun in before school starts.  Yes, even though I have no kids in school anymore, I always feel that the beginning of the school season marks the beginning of fall and my crazy busy season.  It is September that everyone returns to their normal workflow and daily routines are back in place.  It is this time that my phone starts getting hot with inquiries regarding holidays, business portraits and couture sessions.  Summer for me consists of family portraits and high school senior sessions.  My fall consists of pretty much everything on steroids!

I try to send out gentle reminders right around this time every year for everyone to try and get the mojo going in mid August.  Schedule that new headshot now so you have it when you hit the ground running in September.  Schedule that fall family portrait now to secure the best date that fits into your schedule and mine!  Sadly, the summer is in fact coming to and end and we all must plan for the fall.

I know, it’s painful to think of colder weather coming.  But for me, by the time August 20th hits, I have had it with. hot sweaty weather, gardening, weeds, outdoor sultry portraits and in general, living inside when it is 95 degrees out side.  On my day off this week, I cut down all the summer flowers and popped them right out for garbage day.  My husband knows this is normal for me, so when he pulls in at the end of the day and sees the garden totally clean again, he knows that I am now back in super woman work mode.

So are YOU ready with your fall business plan?  I am!  Lets create great images!

Donna

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