"Can I just get a USB of the pictures? The other person I talked to will give me a USB for $50!". We hear things like this all the time, and it's so understandable if you don't know photography. After all, one camera is basically the same as another, and if you know someone who got the same one I have on Black Friday, why couldn't they just take your daughter's picture? It makes so much sense, logically. Same camera, same subject, same picture! Right?
Not exactly. The way I hear it put in seminars and classes I go to is that clients pay for my "talent", and I hate how that sounds! It sounds like you're paying for the huge privilege of being in the same room as me *eye roll*. In reality, "talent" is a lot more than that. Talent does include natural proclivity, or more commonly, an "eye" for photography. Some have it, some don't. But I wouldn't expect my clients to pay for just my "eye". No way! Here's what talent means to me:
It means the passion that I've had since high school, the passion that made me leave a six-figure job as a travel nurse to start a brand new career with two kids, an old house that needed remodeling, and zero guarantee that I'd be successful. Talent is the determination to never settle, never just find my niche and stay the course, to always keep pushing myself and learning from others. I go on at least 3-4 educational trips per year, and am constantly buying new online classes, software, and tools to help me do my job the best I absolutely can.
Another aspect of the photography "talent" equation comes after the session is over (aka post-production). So the "shoot and share" or previously "shoot and burn" photographers maybe color-correct the images, and delete the obvious blinks. That's the easy stuff. Here's what JDP does after that!
For Ella's parachute dress image, you can see a lot has changed! This is the kind of work I do if a client knows they're getting a large canvas, or somehow featuring one image. All of this stunning detail would be lost on an 8x10 print! I worked for over six hours on this image alone! I played with the colors, textures, light, and dropped in a new sky, and tweaked a lot of other things to get the picture exactly how I imagined it!
For a stand-out image like this, I go all out! This is where that "eye" comes in! A lot of times, I can "see" a finished picture before I take it. I know the exact setup, lighting, pose, and everything I'm going to do in post-production before I even click the shutter. If you've ever had a session with me, you've surely noticed me tweak tiny, tiny things to the point of perfectionism! That's because I'm just re-creating what I've already seen.
All of this comes together to make photographic art. Portrait photographers can be wary about classifying themselves as "artists", after all, we're just taking a picture of someone! The same thing you have albums full of, for free! Hopefully, though, I've explained a little bit about what goes into the images we create at JDP. The "talent", the "eye", all of the post-production that makes up each individual image we create! Of course, once you choose which of those images you'd like to purchase, then we work with only the best craftsmen to put together the absolute best products for you. Are there cheaper options out there? Sure there are, but they'll start to fall apart in a few years, and I couldn't bear to do that to my clients.
For Mackenzie's Fresh Custom shoot, she wanted an Old-Hollywood vintage look. Although her image has a more subtle transformation, it still took two hours to edit! This transformation was all about lighting and color. Obviously the finished image is in black and white, but it's not as easy as just turning "off" the color! Taking out certain pigments in certain ratios will lead to different highlights, shadows, and tones, so getting an image just right requires a lot of tweaking and experimentation! For this image I channeled the work of George Hurrell, the best known photographer in 1940's Hollywood. He was an expert on pin lighting that focused on a star's face and led to the glamorous, glowing look of vintage photographs. I loved recreating the Old-Hollywood look for Mackenzie's session!
Finally, for Madison's Ice Queen images, I wanted the final product to look bright, white, and mythical. To do this I blew out the image to make it brighter without losing too much of the contrast, and then tweaked the color and light to create the ethereal look I was wanting. Of course, having fantastic models as muses makes my job easier!
So even with the same camera, Lightroom and Photoshop software, and vendors available to any other photographer, I really believe at JDP that I create artwork for you. I pore over the details (even the correct spelling of "pore" in this phrase in this blog!), make sure candles are lit and water is cold for your appointments. I spend hours and hours on one image that I hope will hang proudly in your living room. I miss softball games and dinners at home to travel so I can learn even one new technique to make your image better. If I ever say that part of my price list includes "talent" or "time", please know that all of this is what's included. Not ego, arrogance, or pride, just passion, time, and a bit of an eye. All used to create the very best for every single client who comes through the studio door. If you've been a client, I hope you've experienced this. If you're thinking about being a client, expect this professionalism and perfectionism with every image you see. Let me use all of that "talent" to create something magical for you!