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


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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

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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!


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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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!


The Haag Family - Outdoor Family Portraits

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Outdoor Family Session and Christmas Pictures

I’ve been chatting with Kerra about updating her family photo for a while now, and we were finally able to link up schedules.   We recently met up at Oxhey Woods in Northwood for a quick run around the park. Being that they are from the Seattle area, they are big fans of the Seattle Seahawks.  Kerra and Alex had such a fun idea, having photographs of their family in their  favorite team’s gear.  I was really excited to see them all decked out.  When I saw them I thought “that is a great way to coordinate family outfits” – provided you all support the same team!  It’s not something my family can get away with. My husband a Dallas Cowboys fan while my boys and I are NY Giants fans (The kids know what’s good for them). I would never let Josh wear that awful jersey in our family photo, LOL!

Since it is the end of November, the temperatures are dropping fairly quickly and today was no exception. It was extremely cold out, and the girls were really feeling it.  Especially Iris.  Her nose was red and her little fingers were like icicles! Our walk was not as long as we wanted it to be, however, we did manage to get some really lovely group portraits.    When we made it back to the beginning of the park, they came back to mine for some Christmas photos of the girls in the studio.  I do like working in the studio, but I love working outdoors. I love the special interaction of a family when they can run around and play in a more natural setting.

Adele and Iris loved being in the studio.  They felt like they were little models and I really saw their personalities open up once we were indoors.  Their dresses made them look like little princesses.  While Freya wasn’t as interested, Adele and Iris were posing and looking at the camera like they knew what they were doing.  Every little girl I have ever met loves to dress up like a princess.    I love how happy it makes them, and I love capturing that moment for them.   I wholeheartedly enjoy making those dreams come true.  Even if they are only a princess for the day, that photograph will make the memory last them a lifetime.

If you’re interested in seeing some more of my outdoor work, please click here.  You can also check me out on Facebook by clicking here!