Why I do What I do. Client #20

client20This morning I awoke to a wonderful post from a lovely young lady I recently photographed.

She just took part in a special shoot I offer from time to time. I’ve included a screenshot of her post so you can read it for yourself:

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It made me smile for all the obvious reasons. Knowing the session I did with someone helped them overcome some self-consciousness and get some wonderful photos showing them in all their natural beauty, I don’t retouch photos to death and work hard to give people photos they’ll love right from my camera.

Then something struck me about this particular model and her session.

She was in fact my 10th client that day.

You heard me right, my 10th client.

Not only was she my 10th client that day but she was my 20th client that weekend.

Some people might think “how can you possibly do that many shoots in that period of time and do a good job for each person?”



I love showing people themselves at their best.

I love making images with them where they see how beautiful they are in real life, not with photoshop editing.

I work hard to get my lighting the best I can and can’t even describe how it feels when I show them the back of the camera and hear them exclaim “that’s me???” Tiffany said that herself.

Granted at that point a huge amount of this is because of the work of Makeup and Hair artist Nicole Zedonek who has been right there with me in loving this because of how it positively impacts so many.

Do click on the photos to see them larger, Tiffany sure didn’t look nervous did she?

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The other things about Tiffany’s session that came to mind after seeing her post that made it extra special was how it was she came to shoot with us that day.

Tiffany came with two other great ladies, friends Natalia and Liz. Now Liz is a big big big part of this story. Liz did her first shoot with me, and her first shoot ever last year during a holiday special we offered. Liz herself was coming out of her shell, extremely nervous and encouraged by another model (and now friend) I’ve worked with Lottie Beau to do a shoot with us. Liz was so nervous she asked Lottie to be there with her as we shot. Liz did great that day and that session and photos did wonders for her own self esteem. Liz later took part in the sessions we had earlier this year at Old Sled Works (we shot 12 models that day).
So here’s where I have to publicly thank Liz Brown. When Liz saw we were offering our seamless special she immediately shared that with friends of hers. She wanted to share with them the uplifting experience she herself had with us. Liz Brown has one of the biggest hearts you’ll ever find though and she went one better. You see we do offer our clients a referral discount. $25 off a shoot for any new client that books with us. I’d rather give up that money to the people we shoot than give it to Google or Facebook in advertising costs. I’d rather give back to our very clients where these shoots are a luxury not a necessity. Liz shared this shoot, recommended it and us to people she knows and that resulted in 3 ladies booking sessions. That would mean for this $175 shoot, Liz would have gotten her repeat customer discount of $25 plus another $75 off… she could have done her session for just $75!!!  But that’s not what she did. Liz and that great big heart of hers donated her referral credits to the very people she encouraged to try this!  You can’t see it here but there is a halo over that ladys head. When we finished Liz was about to pay me her balance but I told her it was $25 less than what she thought it should have been. For such a generous act I just had to give her another discount. I just had to acknowledge her kind acts. THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY. This is uplifting for so many. Doing these budget shoots provides models a chance to give it a try and in Tiffany’s case do it with a group of friends at a great value. Lottie Beau was our assistant and pose coach that day as well and since she encouraged Liz in the first place over a year ago, it was super special she was on hand (she even raided her own car a few times for additional props).

Some might still wonder how so many shoots in that period of time could be worth it to the individual models.

Point of fact; of the 21 models shot 14 were brand new to working with us and 12 of those – over half shot that weekend, were encouraged to try it by someone else who themselves has taken part in one of our group specials.  All but one of those referrals was by a model who has worked with us more than once. What does that mean? They know how these sessions go. They know a lot of people pass through our studio in a day. They’ve experienced it themselves and they valued it.  Think of it this way, who goes to a bad restaurant, gets lousy food and poor service more than once and then says to a friend “you should eat there”? They endorse these shoots because they are a great mix of fun, support and terrific images.

Please click on the photo below. One image was our first client from the recent seamless special we ran, the other the 21st. (Yeah Tiffany wasn’t our last that weekend). Take a closer look. Can you see a difference in quality? Attention to detail?  Can you tell who was first and who was last?

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Marissa is shown on the left. She was our first client, but she actually couldn’t make the weekend dates so she asked if she could do this special on the Friday before it started. It just so happens it was her birthday too. She came and got dolled up, we got some great photos and she later went out with family to celebrate her birthday looking fabulous.  To the right is Liz and her salon partner Michael. They were our last shoot of this special and were a blast. Michael hadn’t planned on shooting with Liz but as soon as I learned they were stylists I said “we should pull out my vintage hairdryer” which at that point was elsewhere in the studio buried under a number of other items. I pulled it out, dusted it off and away we went.

Click the image, study the detail and the lighting, these photos are edited but BARELY edited, mostly I cleaned up marks on the paper itself. The subjects are nearly untouched. You’ll notice a lot of detail, faces that aren’t un-recognizable from over-processing.

A person might think such a shoot is a cattle call, I think from now on I may brand them our “Group Hug” sessions.



Some might think shooting so many models in a weekend is just about making money.

Well, the average shoot fee paid during these sessions was $151.  One of them was free to a model. Each model got full makeup and hair, at least 45 minutes of shooting time and SD card with EVERY SINGLE IMAGE shot IMMEDIATELY upon finishing the session. 6 edits of THEIR CHOICE not mine. Availability of prints, books, posters, greeting cards at NO ADDITIONAL COST over the lab prices. All as advertised. We schedule the sessions so ideally most models only encounter others before and after them in the studio and perhaps those models friends, we don’t say no to bringing your cheerleading team or having them around as you shoot.

Not counting material expenses (backdrop material that was beaten to death, a $100 flash tube that finally had enough, SD cards that each model gets when we finish) I will end up making less than $19 an hour once everything is said and done.  Right now all around my house are billboards for the local Wal Mart warehouse hiring at $16.75 an hour and they could provide me more steady work than I see with photography. Now if I add in expenses… I can show you a less than minimum wage amount. So if anyone thinks this is about the money – please show me where that is.

I also saw something posted by another model who took part in our seamless special, sorry I mean our most recent Group Hug. Dawn’s first shoot with us was a private one on one session that had me completely setting up a wholly unique and never before or since used collection of furniture and props in the studio to several of our themed sessions with multiple bookings per day. The way she describes what it means to her, getting all her images touches on something I never fully considered but am thrilled at what it’s meant to her and the power in it:

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I’ve done a few of these now and probably just as many private sessions. Each has it’s place. I shoot on location. I shoot with full custom sets and I shoot with classic colored paper backgrounds. You have the option to choose what works best for you.

I’ve also loved the times where after private sessions I’m able to grab something to eat with the models. My local Chinese restaurant has seen me through their door with more pretty ladies all done up that I wonder what they might think. A model visiting from Florida last year got a road trip to Knoebel’s Grove where we spent a few hours tackling their roller coasters. Others have gotten tours of some of the antique and thrift shops near my studio. Some out of state clients have also benefitted by my hosting them (and their travel companions) overnight saving them lodging fees at hotels and of course the time we get to make a field trip or get to know each other over breakfast.

In addition to all these choices there is something else we do in my studio that strikes most people as extraordinary. We actually endorse them shooting with other photographers. Variety is good. Each artist, be that photographer or stylist, has a different signature. We certainly try to offer a lot of variety and options in what we do, but we know models will want other looks in their portfolios. We not only endorse this but will mention studios by name. Nicole herself organized a road trip to Ohio recently to work with a photographer with a distinct style. I am opening my studio up to a traveling photographer from Texas in October and when they confirmed the date… we promoted it amongst models who’ve worked with us.   I appreciate our repeat business but don’t get upset when they work with others. In less than two weeks of this post we are having a group gathering at Knoebels Grove where we invited everyone to attend, models, photographers, everyone.

The numbers here need to be updated, but I will close this post with the graphic below and a big thank you to those who share our vision and have worked with us.

Not Just The money