Jan 31, 2011

Feature :: High-end Photographer or Low-end Photographer

By Malea Ellet and Serena Martineau ~Of My Affection Photography

The art behind Of My Affection photography is simple. It is just the two of us, and we have an unyielding passion to capture the story of modern day romance. Although our business is still in its infancy, we have already had the chance to encounter and document some of the most splendid love stories. Individually we both ran our own successful photography businesses for years and then one day we began to play with the idea of collaborating our talents to create and offer something unique to these couples who were vowing their lives to one another.

One of our biggest strengths is that we capture two different angles throughout the wedding day. For example, one of us will document the elegant bride ascending the aisle while the other is capturing the lovestruck face of the groom, as he sees his soon to be wife coming towards him. There are so many moments on a wedding day that should be captured from more than one angle, to truly depict the emotion of the moment.

Something we have found to be quite wonderful is that we truly fall in love with all of our couples. The reason we think this is possible is because they have welcomed us into such a special and intimate time in their lives. Each session prior to the wedding enables a comfort level and a bond that we reach with each couple, so when the day of their nuptials finally arrives, we are there not as the hired help, but as two photographers and friends who care dearly for them. At the end of the journey our greatest hope is that our clients walk away feeling that they not only received the best documentation of their wedding experience, but they also walked away with a wonderful experience with us.

One of the most common questions we are asked from other photographers is how we are able to charge enough to cover both of our time and talents. The best answer we have is that we've really evaluated our worth as artists not just as photographers. We, meaning all photographers, are offering our talents. We are offering them one of a kind pieces of art.

The fact is, our consumers cannot go to any store and buy anything identical to what we offer. We are offering our own individual vision and style of whatever we specialize in as an artist. The question is, are you a bargain photographer who includes unlimited shooting coverage, all high resolution files, hours of editing for the price of $100 dollars or less? This may sound great to the client but unfortunately for you, they won't be hiring you for your talent but instead, they will be hiring you for your marked down pricing. Photographers like this can not be considered "high end" photographers, so does that make them "low end" photographers? If so, what category would you as an artist and photographer want to be in? Why disservice yourself and your time? A valued photographer is one who charges what they truly feel is worth their time and talents. Take into consideration the time you spend conversing with your clients prior to their session up until the end of the project. This is your time that you should charge for.

Remember to calculate your cost for not only the worth of your unique talent, but also your expenses that come with running a business. The cost of gas to and from location, the cost for products and marketing, the cost for studio rent, the cost to maintain equipment, business insurance, etc... all of these things need to be part of determining what the value is, for what you offer. In our experience, the clients who are looking only for a bargain are not the clients who appreciate quality art. The clients who sincerely value your work and feel you are validated in your pricing, are the clients who will continue to come back over and over again, as well as refer you to many people they know. If you charge what your worth, you can afford to give each client the time and experience they are paying for, and more! They will respect you for it and they will cherish even more, their heirlooms and the artwork they have invested in.

Never forget that you are an artist first, and not just a photographer.

"For Posterity's Sake"~ A Family Heirloom Project

While staying at my parents house before the holidays, I was upstairs editing a photo session on my laptop when I heard my mother's excited squeal from the guestroom/office, downstairs.  "Cindy come quick!  Oh, my goodness!  You have to come see this!", she hollered.  I couldn't  make it down the second flight of stairs quick enough.  I had to see what she was so excited about! 

There on her computer screen flashed a faded, in color, movie reel of my grandparent's "life on the farm" in the 1950's.  The moving clips were vintage and grainy, and fabulous!  There on a wooden swing sat my grandmother, swaying back and forth blowing a bubble with her gum!  She was in the prime of her life, smiling, and happy.  My heart skipped a beat.  As I took in her beauty, I realized that I had never seen her like this before.  Grandma died from cancer when I was eight years old.  All of the memories I had were later in her life, when she was older or sick.  That night I saw her for the first time, as a stylish, vivacious woman, full of life!
My Grandparents: Jack & Anabelle Reber
Mom didn't know what she would find when she put the disk into her computer, but a treasury of memories came flooding in as she realized that most of the family in these home movies had long since passed away.  As we watched for a few minutes I caught a glimpse of my mother as a child, standing on the front porch of my grandparents old farm house waving goodbye, while my aunt and uncle (still kids) clung to my Grandma's apron.  Mom was probably about 7 or 8 years old!  These movie clips were priceless. 
The best part was watching my loved ones interact with each other.  They weren't dressed up like movie stars or wearing fancy clothing.  They were simply being themselves, doing every day things like plowing, gardening, picnicing and spending time together.  These everyday happenings from the 50's seemed rather spectacular to a city girl in 2010.  I felt, for a moment, that I had stepped back in time.  I missed them terribly.  But my mind began to reel, as I thought about what I should do with my childhood memories.
As I've grown older, life as I knew it as a kid has changed in many different ways.  Most of the things in my past are long gone, but there are a few things that are still around.  The next few days of my visit were spent photographing some of the everyday things that haven't changed.  This Family Heirloom Project is a collection of images from my childhood home that bring back many memories for me, including my parents, the objects around their house, and the little things they do that make them unique.

Memories of Dad 
Every night before bed, Dad emptied out his pockets--keys, watch, wallet, chapstick, and change. This is where we'd come if we wanted some quarteres to buy candy.  The only thing missing here is his old green bottle of Campo-Phenique. 
Every morning Dad gets up early to haul in the wood and make a fire that
warms the old house.  Notice his tongue sticking out a little?  He always does
this when he's working hard.  I will get a better picture of his "tongue thing" if it
kills me!  :)
This is where Dad could be found almost every night, and especially on Saturdays... in his "Radio Room" aka his man cave.  Even though he didn't like us messing around with his things, we used to love playing in here.  He always had some very interesting things to find, such as sodering irons, wire, electrical stuff, and indian artifacts to name a few. 

Dad cannot turn his hands farther than this. Apparently he's missing one of the digits in his writsts. You should see him at any cash register when they give him change. He has to turn his whole arm and body over to collect the coins so they don't slip through.  Just one of the unique things I love about him :)  Two of my sisters have inherited this same feature.
Dad's old Ham Radio call sign. 

Memories of Mom 
This is the phone in my parents bedroom. It is over 30 years old and it still works!  Notice the wall-paper?  It has a velvety texture, and has been in their room since they built this home in 1974.   

This is Mom's pantry. The grandkids sometimes call it "Grandma's Store". She's always got at least 3 of everything in here.  This is also where she grinds wheat for homemade bread (she makes the best).  The day I took this picture she was grinding wheat to make waffles for the grandkids. 

This is my grandmother's cookie jar that Mom inherited after grandma passed away. I LOVE it! Mom truly believes in this saying, and I really think that's one of the reasons my Dad loves her so much...she's always cookin' up something yummy to eat.

Mom, searching for her recipe.
These couches have been in their living room for lots of years.  Instead of getting new ones Mom had them reupholstered.  She said they were too comfortable to get rid of.  This is where she takes her afternoon nap every day.
The old lamp was a wedding gift from Mom's high school girl friends, and this too
has been re-done several times. 

This project will probably take me a few months to complete, but when I am done, I hope these images will have the same effect on my grandchildren, as the old movies had on me.  I also hope this will inspire you to capture the unique things of some of the important people in your life, while they are still here.

Street Photography

by Amy Leavitt

I'm fascinated by street photography. There are no rules. It's an unknown adventure.
The great street photographers can find truth or beauty in places where we never thought they could exist. It's unplanned, it's unpredictable. Nothing could happen. Anything could happen. Garry Winogrand explained it this way, "Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts."
Leon Levinstein, an unsung hero of New York street photography, has created some of the most powerful images of New York - without sentimentality or structure. He said if you ask someone to take their picture, the picture's ruined.

Walker Evans hid his camera in his coat and took photos through a buttonhole.

Lartigue started his astonishing collection of photos at the age of 7.

When I visited New York this past summer, I got caught up in street photography and it became an obsession while we were walking to and fro. I literally shot from the hip. I kept my camera on my shoulder and shot away. I don't equate these with the masters listed above. But just for fun, some of my more interesting shots:

I've had the urge lately to go out and photograph Las Vegas. Like Ken Lamug. I want to capture it the way many photographers have captured New York. Anyone up for it?