Trying to navigate the world of custom photography can be challenging but I believe that you’ll find it worthwhile to participate in a creative session, where you have fun with a photographer who knows how to capture your family (and make you look amazing) and then leave your session with beautiful artwork for your home! All it takes is a little bit of knowledge and planning before you book and that’s what I have here to help. In my first post of this series I talked about what custom photography is and how I ended up not only as a photographer but a client. Now I’m going to take you through some steps that should help you find the right fit for your family.
but do we need pictures?
Well, hopefully if you’re reading this, you think that you need pictures but if you’re on the fence, here are my thoughts…
I recommend families get nice pictures (meaning something beyond your IPhone snapshot) of the kids once a year, especially when the kids are under 5 years old. That
is the time when they are growing and changing so fast that it’s good to have documentation of those changes not only for moms and dads to look back on but also for the kids to begin to develop a sense of self-history. Looking at photos from the past, anchors their place in their family. It also helps to see that who they are at this moment, isn’t exactly who they will be in a year’s time.
Beyond the kids, I recommend that families try to update their family portrait every 2 or 3 years. It’s so important for kids to have pictures with mom and with dad- to see those connections. Yes, no family is perfect, but families are comprised of many moments of love and happiness. Try to have those moments captured by a photographer and then display them in your home.
Custom Photography First step: Decide what you want
Prints, canvases, digitals, Oh My!
Photographers provide a lot of product options and there are always new things coming along. I thought this would make a good place to start so that as you’re looking for a photographer, you have an idea of what you want. This can help to narrow down your choices. Here are just a few of the basics to look for in your photography package.
Prints are the easiest product to include in your session and the easiest to keep and change out over time. Often you can choose gift prints (wallets, 4×6 up to 8×10) or large wall prints to be framed and displayed. Some photographers will even sell you large framed prints so you just have to put it up on the wall.
“But why should I buy their prints when I can get digital files and print at home or just order them at Walmart?”
Because your photographer has access to professional quality printers. Professional printers only work with professional photographers and base their business on providing beautiful prints with accurate color and brightness. Walmart is there to sell you cheap groceries. Walmart is offering convenience, not quality and if you’re going to invest in images of your family with a professional photographer, doesn’t it make sense to have the best looking prints you can get? That is what you get when your photographs are printed with a high quality printer. This is also why my clients all receive a 4 x 6 print with each digital file purchased. The 4×6 print lets you see the color quality of your image- the colors that I intend my prints to have.
Canvases are digital images printed on artists’ canvas and stretched around a frame in order to be hung on your wall. They come in a variety of sizes but start at 8×10. What I appreciate about canvases is that I don’t have to worry about a frame. They arrive ready to hang.
Canvases can have the image stretched around the frame or you can have a border applied so that you image is centered on the front of the canvas with a black or white border around the edge. Another option is to have your image “digitally stretched” that means they center the image on the front of the canvas and digitally extend the background so that it stretches around the frame without losing the main image. (That is my favorite option)
Again, like prints, it’s important to order canvases through your photographer so that you end up with a quality work of art that will stand up over time. There are many places that offer canvases but you’ll often end up with issues with fading or denting and other deterioration in the canvas.
There is something special about having images of your family, your children, in an album that you can sit and page through, an album that you can share with others over the years.
One of my prized possessions is a wedding album that I have from my parent’s wedding. It was the parent album that my grandmother kept and I received when she passed away. My parents divorced when I was little. I have no memories of my mom and dad together. This wedding album and those photos are a connection to the past that was before me but more importantly, it is a reassurance that they were happy together once.
Albums are a wonderful product but I will admit they are an expensive one. Did you know that most professionally
printed albums cost around $100 and that doesn’t include the additional cost for the cover and custom design? Why so expensive? Because you’re paying for quality materials, seamless binding, accurate color. You’re paying for an album that should last for generations.
I’ve ordered books from consumer printers online (Shutterfly, Snapfish) and I’ve ordered books from my professional printer. The quality doesn’t compare. My professional books are sharp, brilliant. My books from Shutterfly are washed out an pixelated. They are fine for my snapshots but again, if I’m investing in quality portraits, I want to show them with a quality product.
Most people recognize the value of having a custom photography session and I believe that drives the desire for people to walk away from their session with digital files. Today we live in this amazing age where we can print and re-print our photographs. We don’t have to live in fear of losing all of our photographs because we can make more. However, digital files can disappear too if they aren’t cared for and stored properly. USB drives can be corrupted. Hard drives can crash. Things can even get lost in the Cloud. There’s something about having a physical photograph to look at. There’s something permanent even in that printed page.
So yes, digital files are important but I highly recommend that you also purchase prints.