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4 T UMAX     PL-II            V1.4 [6]

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So, if you’re one of the few dozen who has been visiting this site occasionally to see if there were any updates (spoiler… there weren’t), you might have stumbled back here to find that everything is a little off.  Different.  WRONG.

Yep, we switched hosts over the new year holiday, and ran into some technical difficulties in the process.  In short: Charo isn’t the webhostgenius she thought she was, and she’s furiously trying to get all our old content back up before anyone notices how badly she screwed the pooch.

(sidenote: writing about myself in the third person makes me feel good)

So, you know, hang tight and all that.  There may be some nasty bad links and missing content for a short while.  Once we get all of this site transfer stuff fixed, we’ll start working on some new content for you.  Who knows, we may even get back into this blogging business… it’s a lot of work, and the 2015 gave us both more than we could handle without trying to be bloggers at the same time, which is why we sort of fizzled out on the content.  We’re still working, we both still have too many jobs, but 2016 promises to be the year of simplifying, and if things go the way I want them to, we’ll be back in action with A Camera and a Dream before the summer months.

Hey, thanks for always being there, guys.

~charo

IMG_3381

When I was a kid I remember grown ups saying things like “I can’t believe the holidays are here!” and I was confused.  I mean, Christmas and New Years are on the same day every year, right?  Yet somehow these grown-ups were surprised every year when it “snuck up” on them.
This, my friends, is how I feel about Fall Foliage. For those of you not in an area of the country where the leaves do not change in a  spectacular way before the onset of winter you may not understand. But here in the Midwest, when this happens for portrait photographers it’s the biggest time of the year.

A day in the fall where it is 65 degrees and sunny with no wind for portrait photographers is the equivalent of that day that you finally hit your goal weight, on your birthday, on the same day the Packers win the Superbowl.

Unlike Christmas or New Years, we never know when that date is going to be.  The date dances somewhere between the first and third week of October, with some flirting with early November.  Mother nature dictates the when by mixing a special cocktail of rain, wind, plunging temperatures and hard frosts with some Indian summer days mixed in and serves it up hard when she damn well feels like it. And on some perfectly terrible years, she serves it not at all by blindsiding us with high winds and rain for a week straight stripping all the deciduous trees of their beauty leaving a wake of sobbing photographers with clients who will now send them emails that say things like “I know there are not many leaves on the trees anymore, but can you make it look like there are?”

Every year, I loathe and love fall because of this. Every single year I would find myself stressed out as shit as I tried to juggle my wedding and portrait schedule in the fall at the end of the season when I was at my highest burn out point.  Last year, I had enough.  And like everything else in my life and in my business I knew it was my own fault it had gotten that way and I began to implement changes.

Ask. Listen. Educate.

This phrase totally jumped out at me as I was reading Laura Siebert’s portrait e book series last week;  Step Inside, Get Real, Lighten Up.  Besides being chock full of amazing posing suggestions, games to play to get kids to help make great photos and some down and dirty technical information on shooting and post-processing she talks a lot about what she calls the social science of photography.  About conveying yourself as the expert with a quiet authority that gets people to listen.

BAM.

A few weeks ago I talked about how one turn of phrase completely changed the course of a senior portrait session (Update: The sales session was a $1700 sale.  Yesssssssssssssss) I sat down and made a list of all the things I hated about the fall season and began to brainstorm on changes.  That phrase made me realize that not only do I need to Ask, Listen and Educate my clients to find out what their needs are, I need to ask myself the same things.  What changes do I need to make this season?  After all, I can only afford so much Vodka to get through it.

It came down to 4 things. Yes, I know my handwriting is crap and YES that is an Orange Sharpie on a steno pad.  They are my favorite when I am brainstorming.photo

4 things needed to change.  Here’s what the changes are going to be:

Crammed Schedule+ Crap weather:  I sat down and looked at my calendar and picked the dates I am available from now until Mid November.  I picked a variety of dates and my favorite times of the day and locations  around the city to photograph at. Then I implemented an Online Scheduler for my clients.  I created an email blast to my clients with the link to the scheduler saying

Brown Deer Park click here for dates
Whitnall Park, click here for dates
South Shore Park, click here for dates
Doctors Park, click here for dates
For Sessions at your home or a different location, click here

When they schedule their session, it will inform them of the rain date.   Now you don’t have to use an online scheduler, but I’ve used this one for a while and my clients are used to it. They like the automatic reminders and so do I. But it just as easily could be done by calling your clients or emailing them to contact you directly to schedule.  Let’s circle back to the rain date thing, as this is new for me and I’m going to give it a try.  The rain dates are days I have blocked off on my calendar in case a session gets cancelled.  This year I am going to assign clients a rain date for every session.  If it doesn’t work for them that’s fine, I can let them know the other rain dates I have scheduled and they can choose one of them.    If I have a day where no rain dates are needed, I get a day off.

So right now I can look at my calendar and I know exactly what days I am going to be shooting now through November 14  (With an appeal to mother nature on this. Help a sister out, wont you big momma?)

Cheap Asses: No Mini Sessions.  I’m going to address mini sessions in an upcoming blog post.  There’s nothing wrong with minis, but at this peak time of year I decided that I am not offering them.  Why would I when I can book full sessions?

Sales Sessions Hard to Schedule:  This problem was a direct correlation to the fact that if I am shooting portraits in the evenings (when most people are available)meeting with prospective wedding clients and shooting weddings on the week ends, I was having a hell of a time finding time to schedule in person sales. My new schedule solves a lot of these problems by building in more time for sales sessions but I am taking it a step further and I’m going to take the leap and train someone to do my in person sales this year and see how it goes. Won’t lie, I am both terrified and totally LOVING the idea of handing my sales off to someone.  My friend and Numbers Nerd Guru Joy Vertz gave me a sneak peek into her new Photo Biz Recharge video series that talks about this in depth and got me excited to give up the part of my photography business that I don’t love, the sales process.  Photo Biz Recharge opens for reals on September 22, so go sign up to learn more.

This fall I’m taking charge of my schedule and my life, and getting my fall back.  I plan on being Sane, Happy and Profitable…and maybe stress eating a few less bags of Candy Corn because of it.   Nah.  I freaking love Candy Corn, who am I kidding?

What changes are YOU going to make?

~Kim

 

Puppy Poses 1

As I sit at my computer filling out the financial aid forms for my youngest son to go to UW Madison in the fall, my almost 14 year old dog wanders upstairs on shaky legs.  Her grizzled gray snout looks over at me, and I can see the lumps and bumps on the side of her ribcage, the fatty tumors that have popped up more and more in the last few years.  She had a scare a few months ago, and I paid more than I every thought I would to save her at this age.  She wags her little stumpy Springer Spaniel nub of a tail at me, and squats and pees on the carpet next to me.  She does it with no remorse  and without asking to go out as she has done since she was trained as a pup soon after we got her.  When she is done, she goes to lay in her dog bed near me.   I sit silently not reproaching her and go and get the carpet cleaner that’s been used almost daily lately.  Despite the noise, she sleeps through me cleaning up the mess.

Suddenly I know that by fall not only will I have an empty nest with no kids, I will have one less dog.   How did this go so fast?  How did my life go from lunchboxes and field trips and dog park runs and exhausting midnight to 3AM editing sessions (because that’s when the house was quiet) to grown men going off to college and the end days of my freckled-faced pup?

“You’ve gotten so big!   They really do grow up so fast, don’t they?”

Remember when grown ups said that when you were young and how eye-rolling  STUPID it was?

Turns out, they were right.  Now I have to use reading glasses more often than not, and I am constantly asking my son if he doesn’t need a light on to read his book in the living room.   At 47 I’m starting to seriously think about retirement because if those damn kids grew up THAT fast,  then I bet my AARP card and Depends are right around the corner.

TMI Public Service Announcement: You know who else was right?  Doctors.  Do your Kegels, ladies.  Just trust me on this one.

This isn’t meant to be depressing. My dog has had a long life and has been well loved, and that’s the best gift we can give to an animal.  My boys are smart and handsome and independent and will go on to do great things with their lives.  And if I pee a little when I sneeze now, my friends still love me.

In examining the last 18 years that seemingly has gone by in minutes, the same holds true with my business.  If I had listened, had really listened to the “grown ups” when it came to my business, I would have done a lot of things sooner.  I talked about my great tax debacle here so let’s start with that:

Taxes:  The minute you start taking pay for your photography services is the minute that you need to start considering that some of that money does not belong to you. While this will vary by your state, country, etc, you need to get it right sooner rather than later.  Pay someone who knows what they are doing to tell you what you should be doing. Set up a  separate account and get into the habit of automatically funneling money into that account so that when the taxman cometh you have money set aside for it.

An Accountant: Seriously, just get one.  I know your husband usually does the taxes, but unless he is a CPA convince him  not to. For less than $500/year you can get a good one and the benefits and write offs you are probably missing are worth it.

Roth IRA: I cringe when I think how late I started mine.  Part of it was that I got divorced, and I had counted on the retirement fund of my now ex husband. So yeah, I’m gonna say it… some things just don’t last forever and it wouldn’t hurt to have something of your own in case.  You  need to talk to a licensed tax adviser to find out the ramifications for you and your business.

HSA: Sometimes it feels to me that my head will explode if I have to tackle one.more.thing. that I don’t understand like something that is so outside my comfort zone like insurance and health care.  It boggles me like a 9th grade calculus exam.  But after I started my HSA (Health Savings Account) I was boggled that it was that easy.  Basically a health savings account is a place where you put money to pay medical expenses and that money is not taxed.  It didn’t seem to me that it would make a big difference, but I was shocked last year at how much it did save me with co-pays and medical expenses, glasses prescriptions and prescription drugs. There are some limitations to some, so you have to read over what is included and not included.  But it’s as easy as a checkbook and debit card that you use to pay expenses.  And there are also certain write-offs on it you can take as a business owner, ask your accountant about that.

Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University:  This is a bit of a weird plug.  (And no, it’s not an affiliate link but one can dream) I took this class a few years ago and it changed the way I looked at money and how I ran my business. Not being a numbers nerd by nature, I have to be hit over the head to understand.  It took me years to understand that some of that money was not mine for taxes, and apparently another few years to understand that just because I had 5K in my checking account didn’t mean I could go for a week in Key West.  I will warn you that it is a Christian-based class, but the church-y parts didn’t really bother me as someone who is non-practicing.  The classes are inexpensive (around $100 per couple) offered at many different places (usually churches) and consist of watching Dave Ramsey’s videos (and he’s a funny, dynamic speaker) and then breakout groups.  While I don’t abide by every principal he teaches, the simplicity of it is amazing once you apply it to your life.  And right now my Key West envelope has over $800 in it!

Stop Being a Gear Whore: Just stop.  Stop buying lenses and lighting that a commercial studio would not invest in and more bags and bigger and better bodies. Make do with what you have unless what you have is so dismal that you cannot make photos.  And if you can’t, borrow or rent.   As time has gone on I’ve found myself using less and less and being a happier photographer.  Dave Ramsey says I can’t have that 5D Mark III until spring of next year and numbers don’t lie.  For now, what I have will work.
What have you learned over the years?  What do you wish you had done differently? Leave them in the comments, we’d love to learn from you.

Stay Sane, Happy and Profitable,
Kim

P.S. Here’s some great management tools for your buisness that you might want to check out:  Modern Tog’s Easy Client and Money Manager, Joy Vertz’s How to Price Photos Video Series,  The Free Book Find the Right Price for your Business and Zack Prez’s Business Planning Cookbook (available for $20 off only a few more days!  Ends May 20)

 

 

 

Expert Vs Novice Two Way Road Sign Skills Experience Expertise

Last summer on one of those hot nights where all you can think about is ice cream I walked into one of those fancy ice cream places.. You know the ones, they have the rhyme-y names and the super cute logo with a cone that dances around on two legs?  Yeah, one of those.  And when I went in, I was assaulted by 10 different flavors of soft serve ice cream and a wall of  cookie and candy related bits that made me dizzy.  The options…were endless and overwhelming. Looking at the board overhead I tried to decipher what I should be doing.   The store was crowded with parents with their little kids and the line was long,  so I tried to make my decision quickly but I was paralyzed by making the WRONG decision.  Chastising myself for being such a loser, I asked the teenaged worker “What would you suggest?”  She stared at me for a second and said “I dunno, put one of those flavors in your cup and then you know, just add the toppings that you want”

I left with a cup of vanilla with M&M’s sprinkled on top.   I don’t even really like M&M’s, but it seemed like a safe choice.

The next time I went in a few days ago and a different worker noticing my reticence came over and asked if they could help.  I said yes, and she said ” Really quick, first answer that comes to mind, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”  Quickly I answered “Coffee”. This ice cream goddess then made me a fantastic concoction of coffee ice cream, crushed Heath bars, pecans and caramel syrup.

It was everything that I didn’t even know I wanted.

 

I used to do something similar to my clients.  After their wedding, I’d send them a gallery of 600+ images and say ” Hey, pick 75 of your favorites and let me know what they are and I’ll make you a delicious album!”   I’d shoot a portrait session and proof it online and tell my client to pick all their favorites and buy buy buy!

Armed with overwhelming choices of photos, they chose the safe choices.  They let everyone they knew weigh in on what they “should have” and “had to have”, and ultimately chose those.  I was designing albums with some of the most boring photos of the day and I hated the design, but yannowwhatcouldIdo?  I was making my clients HAPPY.   I wasn’t selling wall portraits because an 8×10 was big enough for them.

And then came the day that a client posted a review about me that said that she loved her photos and working with me but that I took over a year  to get her album to  her.  The fact was, it took her nearly 7 months to choose the photos, and another 3 months to approve the first design, another 2 months to approve the second, and another 3 months while she dithered about paying for extra spreads and upgrades on the cover.   But online, it looked like it was my fault. It wasn’t my fault!!

Or was it?

When I  contacted the client to clear things up she said “I loved everything about working with you except the album process”.

Wow.

I realized that by giving clients that much control, I was doing them a disservice.  I’ve designed hundreds of wedding albums in my career, they’ve only even every seen a handful of wedding albums in person.   So I took away (most) of the control.   Here’s the steps for albums in my studio now

  • From the very first point of contact, I sell myself as the expert in the design process.  I talk about the albums, but in really general terms.  Remember that they are likely seeing other photographers and by the time you get around to album design time it can be a year or more in the future. If they ask specifics I always answer them but I let them know that I will be guiding them through the process and will make sure that they get an heirloom that they are going to love passing down to their children. I talk more about the feeling of their album than the process.
  • During the wedding as I am shooting I plant the seed for how certain scenes are going to look great in their wedding album.  “These sunset photos are going to look killer as a panoramic page in your album”. (You can do the same thing during portrait sessions “This series of all three kids tickling each other would make a fantastic wall grouping to remember how silly they were at this age”)
  • After the wedding, they come in to view their photos in a slideshow format and I mock up a few pages of their wedding album with some key impact images.  Seeing their photos displayed on a page always makes them gasp because it’s everything they didn’t even know they wanted.
  • I send them home with a link to their photos online that includes a special folder called “Photographers Favorites”. I tell them “If I were making a sample album to show people your wedding, just like the ones you see here in the studio, these would be the photos I would choose to show the story of your wedding day photographically.  You are welcome to go in and take out as many photos as you like and replace them with your favorites. I’ll make a design that I am sure you will love, but if you want to swap any of the photos out, that’s not a problem”

Since I started doing this 4 key things have happened

1.  80% of the photos I chose are used.

2. My album up-sells (more spreads, upgrades to covers, etc) have increased $300 per album since 2012.

3.  70% of my clients approve the album with no changes at all. The others have minor swapping of photos that take me minutes to do.

4. My clients have their albums in their hands in as little as 2 months after the wedding.  A few dilly-dally a bit more, but I also now have a clause in my contract that says if they don’t choose the photos within a year of the wedding I choose for them and send the album to fulfill the terms of the contract.

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes, it’s even MORE BETTER.
Stay SANE, make your clients HAPPY and be more PROFITABLE.

~Kim

sunbath chairs on cruise liner

I heard a great phrase today:  “Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”.

From Wiktionary “(idiomatic) To do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem.”

More about that in a bit.

Recently I met with a couple who is looking for a photographer for their summer 2014 wedding.

(Side note:  WTH is with the 2014 clients?  I’ve never had bookings this late EVER in my career.)

 

Engaged just a month, they were planning the wedding quickly, but that’s not super unusual.   As we chatted about their wedding photography, I noted that they used a lot of industry jargon in describing what they wanted.  So I asked if they had done a lot of research on photographers.

 

The bride lit up and said “Yes! We started out with a list of 80 that we contacted.  Of the 80, 60 were available.  But only 30 were in our budget range, so that’s who we are meeting with”

I blinked.

And I thought to myself, no…no, she’s saying it wrong.   “You’re considering 30, or you are meeting with 30?”   She and Groomie exchanged a “Oh I know I am so silly, but OMG you are so adorable” look and she confirmed “Meeting with 30. Photography is VERY important to us”
I wish with all my heart I had some hidden camera video of my face when she said this to me.   All I can recall for sure is thinking “Keep your eyebrows down and don’t let your mouth hang open”.   In that moment, I knew that this was not going to work out.  I’ve had some consultations that went bad, like the douchecanoe client, but this couple was NICE.  They really though they were doing their due diligence. They cheerfully admitted that they were seeing 5-7 photographers PER WEEK and planned on making their decision by the end of the month.

 

So I asked.  I asked why they were spending the equivalent of one work week interviewing photographers.  They looked perplexed and the bride said “Well, like I said, photography is VERY important to us.  We are meeting with people because we understand that pricing is very different and we want to make sure we are getting the best bang for our buck ”

I nodded.  ” Can you tell me specifically what about the photos on the website that spoke to you?” She asked me to clarify. I pointed out that of those 30 photographers I was sure that they had very different styles and some photographs on their sites must have appealed to her more than others.

 

She shrugged and said “Well sure, some of the websites were nicer and easier to get around. But as far as if any photos stood out?  Well, I like the ones where the light is behind people. You do that, right?”

And then, I wept for my industry.

 

Photography is not the most important thing to this couple.  What is important is getting photos at the price point that they desire. To them this is no different than shopping for a car.  The features may be different, but the end result to them is the same.  They pay monies, they get photos.

This is going to happen more and more as professional photography becomes more “mainstream” to people.  The art of photography is not the mystery it once was.

 

“Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”. 
You know what I’m talking about.  Revamping your website every three months because the last three months of inquiries were dismal.  Adding albums to your middle packages because maybe THAT will get them to buy.  We’re not sure if the ship is sinking, but dammit, these chairs are gonna look GREAT if we go down!

Are you rearranging deck chairs?
Full steam ahead?
Or jumping ship?

 

*This blog post is sourced from a popular email-only content sent to subscribers a few months ago*

Vintage Beer Tin Sign

It’s been a busy week end here in Brew City, AKA Milwaukee Wisconsin, Charo and her husband came to visit.  We needed to go over our business plan for the blog and it seemed like a good idea to go over things in person before busy season hits for both of us.

And of course, it seemed like a good idea that there should be beer when we were done working.  Because, you know, beer.  So in between us doing our very first pricing review together  (here and also here because The Google crashed in the middle. It wasn’t the Rum Chata’s fault) we hit up a few local distillery and brewery tours.  We have a lot of history in this cold city I live in, it’s one of the perks of living in an old industrial city.  It’s also ridiculously cheap to drink here in comparison to the beach town Charo lives in so there was that.

Instead of the predictable large scale Miller Brewing tour we decided to concentrate on the smaller guys in town and it was  really fun for me to see the history behind some of these places. Seeing the actual line from the scene from Laverne and Shirley at Lakefront Brewery, sitting on the chairs from the late 1800’s  from the old beer hall at Pabst Brewery and tasting some of the most damn fine gin and vodka in the world from Great Lakes Distillery.  The tours were a chance for the people who run the craft places to tell us why they are passionate about what they do.  We heard lots of stories of someone having some Yeast and a Dream…people who took a chance on making a living what they loved the most.

Sound familiar? It was inspirational.  Motivational.  But it didn’t REALLY tell us what kind of nitty gritty it takes to open and maintain the day-to-day operations of that kind of business and the challenges they face in their industry.  It wasn’t supposed to, it was supposed to entertain while we quaffed some delicious beverages, and it did.

But what if we went on that tour every week?  Would we learn how to open a Brewery?  No.

There are lots of blogs you can read that will give you inspirational and motivational advice on photography.  We decided in the course of the week end  that we are  not going to be one of those blogs.  Why? Because that shit is easy.  In fact it’s so easy we challenged ourselves to do nothing but talk in inspirational cliches for one entire hour.

“This meal is delicious. It’s nice to be able to appreciate the finer things in life”
“I appreciate having a good meal with good friends.  You make new friends you keep the old, one is silver the other is gold”
“Sometimes you have to just go for it”
“You are so right.  There is no can’t in American”
“Sometimes you have to think outside the box!”
“We’re so happy to have had you here. We’ll be sorry when you are gone!
“We hate to see it end, but home is where the heart is!”
“Visiting here has been like a dream”
“A dream is a wish the heart makes”

This went on…the entire..week end.

That’s the kind of blog we don’t want to be.  I’ve been to too many seminars where I walked out realizing that the speaker talked a lot and said NOTHING.  I looked at my notes and the few I had scribbled were not worth the ink on the paper. For us, this also carries in to the products that we affiliate in the photography market.  Because if we are going to say something is worth buying we have to be able to say “Seen it, would buy it myself, would make me some monies if I implemented this stuff”.

While affiliate sales provide us with some cash to keep the blog going, at the heart of this we really do it because we are passionate and feel blessed by this industry.

Kidding!  We do this because we know that a lot of you feel like we do, that this industry is changing so fast that we want some real world advice on how to make it.  How to keep our jobs and stay Sane, Happy and Profitable at photography.

With that, we’d love to hear from you dear reader.  What would you like to see on this blog?

Do you like the pricing reviews?

Want more meaty how-to stuff?

Want more photos of my bunny?

Leave some comments below, won’t you?  We like to know that it’s not just our moms reading this.

~Kim

P.S.  Tomorrow at midnight Mountain time the killer Salesographer Deal ends.  The email that goes into more detail on what you get is here.  And if you are too lazy to read that then let me do some MATHS…$74 will get you a $50 Pro DPI gift certificate and a killer series on how to jack up your portrait sales NOW.

P.P.S.  We’ve pimped this class out before and for good reason. It’s one of the most popular pricing series out there, Joy Vertz’s Pricing For Profit.  It’s a much more intensive  3 week course that will walk you through your entire price list  to make sure you are profitable start to finish.  If you’ve got some major work to do, this is where you want to start.  Watch the informational videos here.

 

 

 

 

 

armgina

Dear Adobe,

Can you please add in an “I have body issues” filter?  You know, the one that takes away back fat, double chins, big asses and armginas on my clients?  For that I will happily pay your cloud fee for LIFE.

Love and kisses,

Kim

(Armgina.  No photo credit by the request of the maker)

armgina

It’s happening more and more lately.  I walk into the getting ready area with the bride and she squints at her reflection in the mirror and says to me ” I hate my arms.  But you can Photoshop them, right?”

FFS.  If you hate your arms why for the love of all that is holy DID YOU GET A STRAPLESS DRESS?  Seriously, don’t these girls have ONE good girlfriend that is going to tell it to them straight about that dress at the Bridal Salon? Or better yet, a gay man?

It’s not just limited to the brides, either. Moms ask to have double chins removed.  Parents ask to have children’s shirts changed from blue to red in the family photos. Everyone knows that with Photoshop, anything can happen.

My standard response has always been a smile and a nonchalant “Oh sure.  Anything can be altered for a fee”.

Lately there’s been some discussion on forums about what is our role as photographers to make sure the client is “okay” with their appearance? Do we have to be stylists, wardrobe assistants, hairdressers as well as photographers?

My contract spells out what I do and do not include as standard retouching, but when we are dealing with peoples fragile egos (and in my case often a bride, which is a double whammy) then I think some extra communication is the key.

A few years ago I had a very buxom very pretty bride. Her dress was  one of those ill-fitting $99 David’s Bridal numbers (strapless, of course) and she was spilling out all over. I’m talking back bacon, side bacon and major boobage. There must have been a dozen nip slip photos I had to delete.  I knew she was self-conscious about her appearance and during the formal photos I used every trick I knew to make her look fantastic.  However, what I could not control were the un-posed spontaneous moments.  At one point I did something I would normally never do, I signaled to her to “sit up straight” at the head table because she was slouching making matters SO MUCH WORSE.

A few days after the wedding she called me in tears.  She had seen photos from friends and family and she was horrified.  She wanted my assurance that I could “Photoshop” her so that none of my photos would look like that.  I assured her I’d do my best.  During the edit, I was frustrated.  Do I delete all these really great interaction moments because of her wardrobe malfunction?  I ended up doing a very tight edit and telling her that anything that she put in her album I would retouch to her hearts content, but anything else, she would have to pay for.   She was thrilled when she picked up her album, but told me she would delete the rest of the photos if it were up to her, but her husband wouldn’t let her.

That still bothers me.  I know it’s not my shit, but it bothers me that she doesn’t treasure those photos.

Now when I deliver the proofs, this is now included. It’s talked about in the initial consultation and again, it’s in my contract… but a gentle reminder never hurt anyone.

Standard Retouching
(Included only in prints ordered through the studio or album prints. Your proofs are balanced for color and tone and cropped for the most pleasing outcome)

Smoothing of skin, whitening of teeth/eyes, under eye circles, flyaway hairs, glasses glare, removal of distracting elements such as exit signs, etc.  Complementary head swaps for group photos.  I do not as a rule remove anything that is not temporary on your body. For example, if you have a mole or birthmark or tattoo, that will remain unless you instruct me otherwise.  Blemishes and other skin imperfections are removed.

Deluxe Retouching
Altering of body including but not limited to:  Tan lines, Double chins, underarm or back excess skin, tummy rolls, love handles, braces removal, slimming of any body part.  These are quoted on a per image basis.

I do my best to catch things on the day. I look for necklaces askew, I check pocket squares, make sure the groomsmen are buttoned up correctly and I physically remove those blessed hair bands off the bridesmaids wrists.   I ask people with transition lenses if they want to take off their glasses for outdoor photos so they don’t  look like a bug.   I have no issues telling a bridesmaid her bra is showing or tucking a stray hair into a bobby pin.

The less I have to deal with after the fact for retouching the better, but if you don’t smile at all during your wedding day, Bridey…I cannot make you look less bitchy.