family photos Suffolk, sleepy hole lake, family photography Suffolk, Suffolk family photographer

Family Photos in Suffolk

Family Photos in Suffolk, VA

I love my job.  Especially when it comes to all of the different people I get to meet and the new places I get to see.   I recently took Joanna’s family photos in Suffolk.  Joanna and I hit it off on the phone right away.  As soon as I heard her British accent, I have to admit, I got a bit homesick for England.  I may have only lived there for a few years, but it became home to us very quickly.  She and I talked for nearly an hour about where we lived, what we loved and missed, and living here.  Not to mention photography of course!  We straight away clicked on the importance of having pictures printed out and to be able to actually see them on the walls and in frames.  I could have chatted with her for hours!

Choosing A Location for your Family Photos

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When deciding on a location for your family portraits, take into consideration your own family style.  Does your family like the woods or the beach?  Would you prefer a field with blowing grasses, or perhaps the beautiful blue water of a nearby lake?  How would those locations fit into the style of how you decorate your home?  Joanna ended up choosing Sleepyhole Park for her family photos in Suffolk.  I had never been there before but it was an absolute stunning backdrop.  There was a long fishing pier overlooking the Nansemond River where I met them.  The sun was gorgeous as it came over the treeline and reflected down onto the water.  We were able to use the trees for some gorgeous dappled lighting as well. It is an ideal location for for family photos in Suffolk!

Digital Files are Great, But...

Why spend money on a photographer if all you will do is buy the digital files?  You see, a lot of people will post the pictures from their professional session on their social media accounts and never get around to printing them out! Then a month goes by, and they have since changed their profile picture a few times and those photos that they cherished for the week or two are starting to become just a memory.

They get that reminder, you know the one I’m talking about. The “On This Day” reminder.  They will put them as their profile picture for a few weeks only to change it again when the next thing comes along. We are all guilty of it!  Where would you be if you never printed out the pictures from your session?  Bigger picture, how would you know what your great grandparents looked like if all they owned were digital files?

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How do I choose the right photographer for my family photos?

Choosing a photographer for your family photos can be hard!  With all of the talented photographers out there to choose from, you also have to be sure that you don’t hire someone who claims to be a professional and turns out not to be.  Now a days when anyone and everyone has a camera, how are you to be sure you can trust who you are working with?

I advise anyone I talk to, whether or not I fit the description of the photographer they want to hire to ask if the company has a business license as well as how long they have been in business.  As a business owner, I frequently encounter people who have been burned by a so called photographer in the past.    I think my biggest piece of advise would be to look at their website, and have a phone conversation with anyone you are considering hiring.  Sometimes it’s easier to build trust in someone when you have an actual voice on the other end of the phone.     Don’t know what to ask about?  Well, don’t worry.  I’ll help you.

What kind of questions should I ask a photographer before hiring them?

I think it is really important to get to know a photographer before you hire one.  I want you to know what you are getting when you hire me.  The experience of hiring a family photographer should be one you enjoy.  I’ve put together a list of questions to help you narrow down your search when looking for someone to update your family photos.

  1.  How long have you been in business, and do you have a business license?
  2.  Do you treat your photography a business or is this something you do in your spare time?
  3. Do you have any testimonials from past clients?
  4. What is your process for a client?
  5. Is anything included in the session fee?
  6. What is the ordering session like?
  7. Do you offer digitals and prints?
  8. How long does it take to get my pictures back?
  9. What makes you different?

These are just generic questions, by no means do you have to stick to a script.  By the end of the phone call you should have a good feel of the way their business is run.

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Last but not least!

Beware the cheapie photographer.  The one that offers you 75 images for $50.  This should scream run to you.  You probably already know when someone is offering you a deal that’s too good to be true, it usually is.   I’ve written about this a time or two before.  You can read all about it here


The Anderson Family

Meet the Anderson Family

I met the Anderson family at Oak Grove Lake Park in the Greenbriar area of Chesapeake.  Oak Grove Lake is a gorgeous park around a lake with wooden decks placed around to look down into the water.  There are trails to bike, benches to relax, and a playground area for the littles to play on as well!  We got extremely lucky with a beautiful evening just before a storm started rolling in.   In the distance, the sun was setting behind the lake giving off a warm dappled lighting through the trees.   It is a perfect park for portraits, a morning run, or even just a evening stroll with the family.

Michael and Zoe are the parents to an adorable little one year old Hunter.  I cannot tell you how incredibly happy this little boy is.  Once you have met him, you are able to see that he has so much love surrounding him.  He has an adoring gaze when looking up at his parents.  He is attentive and curious about his surroundings as so many other one year olds are.  However, there is something extraordinarily special with him.  His smile is one that is completely infectious, bringing smiles to everyone that passed.   Hunter especially loved to see the turtles swimming in the lake and pointing out the dogs running along on the trails.   They’ve just moved here from Texas and love spending time outdoors making the Chesapeake area perfect for their family.

Interested in booking your family portraits at Oak Grove Lake Park?

Meredith Hodge Photography, LLC, is a natural light photography service in the Chesapeake area. I love using the bold and vibrant colors of nature as the backdrop for my family sessions.   Oak Grove Lake Park will make a fantastic location if you are interested in updating your family pictures.   However, if you have a favorite park or beach location you would like to use for your family session get in touch!  You can book your family’s session by clicking here!


Camera, photographer, chesapeake family photographer, cheap photographer

So you want a cheap photographer...

Before going with a "cheap" photographer take a minute to read this!

I see it all the time, people are in search of a cheap photographer.

Now, I’ll be the first to say I’m cheap. In terms of how I spend my money.  I’m always looking for the best deal when it comes to spending money.  Did you ever hear the term, “You get what you pay for?” how about the one “Buy cheap, buy twice”? Before I started my own business, I never understood why a photographer charges so much money.

It’s taken me a few years to really understand it fully. Not why a photographer charges so much.  Why it’s hard for any small business to remain in business. It’s extremely difficult to build profitable business, AND pay a living wage. Most small business owners I know work job to job, just chipping away at the money they spent in trying to get their business off the ground! While I have a good grip on my finances, I still try to be relatively inexpensive and provide a quality service to my clients. It hurts me to see so many cheap photographers out there offering their services for so much less than they are worth.  

How much actually goes into running a business? Why should someone spend anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars on services when you can get someone to do it cheaper.  This is close to my heart.  I work hard for my business.  I want my friends and clients to understand the amount of work that is put in.  It is important that people to know what they are getting when they work with me.  So I would just like to explain the difference between a legitimate photographer and a cheap one.  

 

The “I take good pictures and I can make a little money on the side photographer”  AKA The “Cheap” photographer 

About Them: This person takes some good photos and figures they can pay for their camera by charging to take photos for friends. They’ve got a decent camera and the idea of making some money is really enticing. They don’t need to charge a lot since all they want is some extra cash.

Why they are great for you: Well hello, cheap photos! Photographers in this stage of their business are either charging cheaply to build up their portfolio or it’s a way to earn extra pocket money. 

Why this may not be great for you:  Photographers that fall into this category typically don’t know what they don’t know.  The money appeal is greater than actually being educated about their endeavor.  It’s unlikely do not have a business license, and are not paying taxes, insurance, etc. You may even end up paying for photos that, well…aren’t very good.  Their editing style is inconsistent.  Or worse – over edited!  They haven’t invested the time it takes in learning how to get the shot right in camera.

Why this may not be great for them: New photographers will end up spending so much time trying to learn how to run a business as they go, make mistakes along the way.  When you consider all the time put into one single client, they’re losing money on sessions with all of the expenses they should be paying out.  They are NOT earning a paycheck.  This photographers business model will have them out of business (and potentially thousands of dollars in the hole) within 2 years.  

cheap photographer

I'm going to shoot straight with you here.  Please do not use a service that cannot provide a business license or Tax ID number.  There are affordable legitimate business owners out there.  People operating their business without the proper licenses are operating illegally.  You pay your taxes, they should pay theirs too. Licensed professionals are supporting YOUR community with what they pay in taxes. That money goes to pay for first responders as well as funds public schools and parks.  The more the unlicensed traders are supported, the less money that goes back into our community.

The “Professional” photographer:

About them:  A professional photographer is one that charges in line with what it costs to run a business.  Not just any business, THEIR business.  They have done the math and knows the cost of running their company down to the penny.  How much it costs to provide clients with prints, the packaging of prints, and shipping costs.  Contracts are drawn up by lawyers to protect both their business and clients. The business is licensed in the city and state to operate as well as pays both federal and state taxes.  Professionals in any industry continuously train and hone their craft.  Some hire out website design and maintenance. There pay membership dues to professional organizations, own professional equipment, insurance, professional editing software, the list goes on and on.  After all of the overhead it costs to run a business, they still need to earn a living wage.

Why they are good for you:  These people ARE professional.  You are provided with a premium service as well as premium products.  Your photographer has done extensive research on quality of the professional print labs available.  (They won’t be getting your prints from Walgreens, or Costco.  I’ll save that post for another day.) Professionals have had an extensive amount of training and have a consistent style across all their photos.  They are skilled at editing. More importantly, they know what shots they want and how to get them right in the camera.  

Why they may not be good for you: They aren’t going to offer $50 mini-sessions.  If they do mini-sessions, it’s once a year and going to cost at least 150-200. That’s an industry standard for the LOW end.  That’s because this is what it actually costs if not more to run a mini session.  Many state run parks or privately owned places charge fees for permits. For example, Norfolk Botanical Gardens charges $150 for two hours.  Just to use the gardens for a session.  Design and set up and the props costs money.  Not to mention time spent marketing, and communicating with clients, as well as their time and expertise. They want to provide you with a quality experience.  They want you to get your moneys worth.  In order to do so they need to charge appropriately.   

Why hire a professional photographer

Don't ruin the memory of your special day by not knowing the value of your photographer.  Do your research.  Know their experience. Get what you pay for.

Meredith Hodge Photography Chesapeake Family Photographer, Chesapeake Maternity Photographer

Meredith Hodge Photography, LLC.  is an outdoor photography business fully licensed to operate and do business in the State of Virginia.  Currently based in Chesapeake, we serve the Hampton Roads Area to include Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Suffolk and of course – Chesapeake! Please inquire about booking a session by clicking here

Are you new to the photography business?  Don’t make the same mistakes I made.  Sign up here for my mailing list and get free access to tricks and tools (and mistakes already learned from!!)

 

 

 

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apple orchard chesapeake family photography

Hello Chesapeake!

Hi there!  Thank you so much for your interest in my project!   My name is Meredith and I am a family photographer new to the Chesapeake area.  I love working outdoors and using the colors of nature as the setting for creating stunning natural light images.

We have just relocated from London but I am no stranger to Virginia.  I grew up in Northern Virginia, and spent the majority of my life here.  I am really looking forward to getting to know the Chesapeake area and all it has to offer.
This is where you come in! 

I am opening up 5 slots for a personal project I am calling “Getting to know Chesapeake”. Throughout the month of August I really want to dig in and get to know as much of the area as I can!  I am in search of 5 families that enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, that are willing to spend a little time to share their favorite family place with me.   As a thank you, I will give your family 5 digital images that you can use however you would like!

Now of course you have probably thought "what's the catch?"  Well, there are always terms and conditions but I promise, they are not completely outrageous.

  • Families will be chosen at photographers discretion.  A total of 5 families will be chosen for this personal project.
  • Families should live within a 5 mile radius of Chesapeake.  However, favorite locations are not subject to the radius.
  • A maximum of 5 digital images will be gifted to the chosen families.  If additional images are provided, they will be available for purchase.
  • Families must give their consent to have images posted on Meredith Hodge Photography, LLc. website and any/all social media accounts
  • Professional photographers or those desiring to become professional photographers in the Chesapeake area are not eligible.
  • Other terms and conditions provided here.

About Meredith Hodge

I’m a happily married Navy wife as well as the mother of 2 incredible boys.  I play tennis, sing karaoke and feel like I have been blessed with an amazing life.  Photography has always spoken to me, and I have always been one with a camera.  I got started in photography while I was in college, where I loved to develop my own film to see how an image would turn out.  While living in Florida my husband came home with a really nice camera.  I enjoyed tinkering around with it and figuring it out but put it in storage when we moved to London thinking we would only be there for a year.  Three months in and I couldn’t stand it! I needed to have my camera back in my hands and so I bought one, and I never looked back.

Recently I have been offering beginners courses teaching momtographers like me how to use their cameras.  I have been published in local magazines, and have been truly honored to have several of my landscape images in Vogue!  If you have more interest in my beginners course click here!

To nominate your family, fill out your information below! 

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We're Moving!

Chesapeake photographer, family photography Norfolk

In just a few short weeks, we will be moving from London all the way to Oahu, Hawaii!

It is with a bittersweet heart to have to say that in just over 3 weeks we are literally moving  to the opposite end of the world. Oahu, a small island that is a part of the larger Hawaiian Island chain in the Pacific, will be our next little piece of paradise.  The excitement of moving to the Hawaiian islands does not come without a bit of a heavy heart though.

We absolutely love living here in the UK. Our family has had so many experiences and made so many wonderful memories here. It will be a very sad day for us when the time comes to say goodbye to what has been such a welcoming home. While living here, we have had the privilege of meeting extraordinary people from countries all over the world. Our family has visited places that many will never get to see, and we have been truly humbled by it all. We are grateful for the lifelong friendships we have made and will consider ourselves beyond lucky to cross paths with some of these people again.

It’s not just our friends we are leaving behind.

Meredith Hodge Photography has come such a long way in the past few years.  I truly hope that it continues to grow into the creative brand that I dream for it to be.   It is a difficult task to have to pick up your business and move it to the other side of town.  Can you imagine moving to a different hemisphere?  As far as the business is concerned,  I will be shutting down the London operation on May 30 until we are settled again in paradise. We will have one further London family session on June 3rd.  You can get more information by getting in touch with us here.

Our growth and success would not be without the support from our clients, our vendors, and our partners.  A sincere thank you goes to each and everyone that we have worked with over the last three years. All that you have  done to help support the business has been instrumental in our past and future success.  People like Heidi Hayward, Rachel Tenant, Nina Mace, Gary Hill, Lisa McCormick, Alex Ingram, Claire Kempster, Andy Smith-Dane, and countless others.  I have been so fortunate to have been surrounded some of the the best in country and I will always be grateful for the relationships made with you all. If you are ever in Hawaii please look us up! We will always make time for our friends!  So it is with deep regret that we have to say goodbye, but hopefully, it is only just for now.

 

With lots of love,

Meredith

Do you live on Oahu? I would love your input!

We are a family that loves new adventures.  Of course we are looking forward to the obvious, visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona.  Driving up to the north shore, to watch the surfers, as well as experiencing Honolulu for the first time and discovering the city.  We are super excited to learn about the culture and the history of the island.  If you live on the island of Oahu, leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.   What are some of your family’s favorite places to go.  What about the history of the island, are there certain customs that we should know before we get there?  Things we may not know about??   Things to see and do?  Do you have a favorite place to grab a bite to eat?  Or a great kids playgroup? I am a sponge looking to soak up all the information of the island that I can.   I am looking for anything, even if it’s not photography related!  Subscribe by clicking here for a special offer for those that help us get to know our new home!


family photograph ideas, family photography, springtime pictures

The Dalo Family

A Springtime Photography Session

As a family photographer, I consider it my job to get to know the families that I work with on a personal level.  I try to treat my clients as friends because it is important to have trust in any type of relationship, whether business or pleasure.  I felt so fortunate to meet the Dalo family, because  I absolutely LOVE them.  When I first talked to Meghan, I knew she was someone that I was going to love working with.  We met at one of my favorite locations to shoot family photos in Chorleywood.  While it was a little chilly out, we were so lucky to have the sun shining down on us.  As we initially had to postpone their session because the rain was just too much so we were very happy to see the sun that morning.

One of the things that I enjoy the most about being a family photographer is seeing how a family interacts with each other.  This is especially true with this family.  You can see how much love there is between all of them.  They all have individual and collective bonds with each other that made my heart swell to see.  You can see that Megan and Jimmy have the “fun factor” that Josh and I talk about so often.  They are a couple that really enjoy having a good time together!

I posted a video below of some of my favorite images from the session.  I am new to the whole  video creating thing, so I would really appreciate any feedback you have!

We are moving!

Meredith Hodge Photography is moving!  Sadly I will be packing up my family and my camera and moving to Kailua, Hawaii.  I am so excited about our new adventure.  At the same time,  I am so sad to be leaving such a wonderful place and even greater people behind!

I will be shutting the doors to the shop at the end of May, with the exception of a few preplanned sessions.  Click here to book your session before I leave!


Tower of London Family photography

The London Sessions

The London Sessions

London family photos phonebox photography

Last weekend I held the London Sessions.  It was one of those days where everything worked like clockwork.  We must have had the sunniest day London has seen all year. If you live in London, you never know when its going to rain but you can almost always count on rain in the forecast.  It had been raining all week leading up to Saturday, and I while I had planned for the possibility of rain, I was praying deeply for sun!  Saturday came and and the loud chirping of the birds were calling me to get up and look out the window.  It was a great start to the day seeing how bright and sunny it was. London was good to us that day.

Two heads are better than one.

I had arranged early on to have my assistant Liam to work with me.  Having him there to shoot with me was two fold. It’s good way for him to have some practice with a DSLR and I tend to operate better when shadowed.   He is great for when I am trying out a new idea.   He is always honest and always asks question that I hadn’t already thought of.    Together, we were was able to develop a plan for the day.  Doing this with him, really brought him into the fold.  He went into it with an idea of the shots to get and the time we had to get them in.  As well as being able to keep me focused. We were working with an extremely tight schedule that day.  I may or may not be one that can throw caution to the wind and go off into new ideas I want to try and angles I want to get.  Having him as a second shooter there kept my focus driven.

It always helps to have fun families to work with

I love the families that I get to work with.  I like to have an easy going – free spirited feel to my work.  Family portraits shouldn’t have to be stressful.  Now, I may have been a bit stressed – trying to make sure I got the shots I wanted. Today was different, having multiple families scheduled back to back.  Thankfully, the families we had today all have that “fun” factor about them, which made everything run so smoothly!  Happy families make me happy too!

Liam and I had a great day of shooting together.  I think we both had some really good learning experiences too! We are so thankful for everyone that has taken part and helped make the day such a memorable one for us. Below you will find just a few of our favorite shots from the day.  Hope you enjoy them!

 

We are moving soon!!! Last call for family sessions!

With such an overwhelming response to the London session, I have decided to open one more date before we move to Oahu, Hawaii! Keep an eye out on our facebook page for more info!   If you’re interested in booking a session before we leave, head over to the pricing and booking page to reserve your date now! Available dates are going fast!


teen photos northwood, herts, harrow, hillingdon, uxbridge, london, uk, family photographer

Liam

Liam2.jpg

My Little Liam is no Longer My Little Guy

Kids grow faster than we like to admit. Ive always said that parenting is reliving your childhood through your parents eyes. I have watched this boy discover the world around him in awe. He has done and experienced more cultures and countries than most will in a lifetime. He is gentle and kind, heartfelt and warm. He has always had an infectious personality with a loving heart. He looks out for the little guy and stands up for what he believes in. He has more courage than he knows. He has more courage than I think I have ever had. While he is becoming a young man more and more every day, I still look at him like he is my little best friend, flying kites, riding bikes and watching our favorite Disney movies all curled up on the couch.

Enjoy your children. Be grateful that you are the one that gets to watch them grow from little tiny babies to little people. Take pictures of them and get those pictures printed out. Hang them on your walls and stop to look at them once in a while. Your photographs are the window to your past.

I want you to have photos of your children hanging in your home. I want them to evoke the memories of their younger days. I want you to remember them as they were. So have a look at the website. If you like what you see, get in touch! Let’s make some beautiful images together! X

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Charlotte's Second Birthday

Sweet Charlotte's Second Birthday

This sweet little cookie, Charlotte, celebrated her second birthday.  Two is probably one of my favorite ages as a parent because you really start to see a personality come through.  This is the age where kids really begin to exercise their “free will”. They begin to do what they want to do, and not necessarily what we as parents want them to.  This is what I love about what I do.  I want them to run around I want them to show me who they really are! Charlotte is just that type of child.  She is really coming into her own personality, and loved having us chase her around. We would follow her into the field and she would laugh and run away from us.  She wanted us to play chase with her, as one does, and we were very happy to oblige.

A Free Child is a Happy Child!

When I am working with a child, they need to be able to move about freely.  I prefer sessions in parks where we can give a little extra space where children can run around and we are not corralling them into a small confined area.  Charlotte has an enormous park near her house and it was the perfect setting for her birthday photos!  As she was able to roam around freely,  she was happy.  At the end of the day,  that’s what we want as parents (and photographers too!), happy kids!  I tell my parents before a session not to stress about having their kids sit still and smile.  Kids feed off of Mom and Dads energy, so if any of us are stressed out, it is very likely that they will be stressed out!  Giving the kids a bit of freedom is a key in sincere smiles.

 

 Let them discover their surroundings

Children are inquisitive by nature.  They want to look at the one little bug crawling on the ground.  I love it when they pick the tiniest little flower or pick up a stick and try to draw on the ground with it.  Kids are so creative and when we allow them to do their own thing, we get a glimpse into their learning process.  If we are lucky they share what they learn with us! You wouldn’t know it, but Charlotte loved playing in the dirt and we even found a feather to play with for a bit.

 

Book Your Child's Birthday Session!

If your child has a birthday coming up, a birthday session is a great way to mark their milestone.  You can book your session by clicking here! 


Another Successful Beginners Course

Another Successful Beginners Course!

Last week we had another successful Introduction to Photography Beginners course!  This month’s we were at The Waters Edge in Ruislip. We held the course, had lunch and planned on practicing with a few little models around the Ruislip Lido.  We had an intimate group this month, which I tend to think is a better experience overall.  In the smaller groups, there is more attention to detail and the attendees can have a more personalized event.  I enjoy seeing how one question will spark another and another, until it becomes more of a conversation. When people are engaged in the conversation, asking questions as they come up, the information is understood.

The main reason I love these smaller groups is that I understand how easy it is to feel lost in bigger groups.   It’s easy to not ask the questions out of fear that you may look silly for not knowing. I understand what it is like to be that person.  I know that feeling of not wanting to ask a question out of fear that people will judge you.  In these smaller groups, I try to explain fully so that you have answers to all of your questions.  It is extremely important to me that anyone taking this course understands the fundamentals of photography by the end of the day.

However hard I try though, things don't always go as planned.

I am a planner by nature.  I like to know how things operate and I like to have a plan laid out from beginning to end.  However, there are things that are completely out of my control!  Mother Nature likes to remind me of that from time to time.  I was keeping an eye on the hourly weather report and the radar in the days leading up to course. (I wasn’t kidding, I really like to plan for everything) She teased me throughout the morning.  The forecast called for rain late in the afternoon.   I thought that we would be able to get through the day and dodge the rain but as we were finishing up the course the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down.  I’m not just talking about a little British sprinkle.  I’m talking a massive downpour that you wait for it to slow down before running though a parking lot to get to your car.

So what did we do?

Well, we couldn’t very well go outside with the way the weather was acting up.  So we all made a plan to get together on another day to have some one on one time where we could make real time adjustments and really dig in to everything we went over during the course.  We had a great time walking around the park and learning how to adjust your settings in real time.

 

I have one more one on one coming up this weekend and I cant wait to post those pictures as well!  I hope you enjoy these!