Canfield Family - Chesapeake Arboretum

The Canfield Family at the Chesapeake Arboretum, May 2019

I met The Canfield Family at the Chesapeake Arboretum back in May.  I’ll preface this by saying I’ve known Wei for a while.  We run in the same circles and have a lot of mutual friends.  We worked on a charity event together and we attend many of the same functions.  So when she asked me to do family portraits for her I was really happy to do so. I really enjoyed meeting Burt and the kids, and LOVED taking their pictures!

If you follow me at all, you know I love working at the Chesapeake Arboretum.  It is such a diverse location to work in.  On the lot of the arboretum, there’s a barn and a gazebo along with open land, and lots of colorful flowers to work with.  If you add in all of the long trails back in the woods with arching tree coverage, bridges, and a lake you can have so many different backgrounds to your family pictures. Visit their Facebook page here! 

About Our Session

When I start my sessions, I like to work with the kids while their parents look on.  It gives me a chance to get them to open up to me a bit.  I will do some light posing and just get some test shots in.  While I’m doing that I’ll start asking about their interests, and what they do for fun. We tell jokes and I ask them to tell me silly stories, and they jump at the chance to tell me something embarrassing the other one has done. When one tells a story, the other is happy to return the favor!  It lightens the mood up a lot.  By the time I ask if they want to do some running around so I can take more pictures of them playing, they feel pretty comfortable in front of the camera.

The Canfield kids were so well behaved for me!  They loved dancing around and chasing each other, all the while letting me stop and direct them a bit!  They loved searching for the little salamanders and skinks underneath rocks and around the barns!  When I pulled Wei and Burt in for some pictures of their own, I found out they are celebrating 20 years of marriage! Such a big milestone for any couple.  They still look at each other madly in love! Congratulations friends <3 Here’s to the next 20!

Chesapeake Arboretum provides a vast array of scenery for family portraits.

The trees and the plants help create gorgeous layering effects. Coupled with the light of the late afternoon, we are able to capture priceless moments like this one.

The big red barn at the Chesapeake Arboretum

Among the flowers and the greenery at the arboretum, the barn is my favorite for family images.  Its bold red color along with the grain in the wood provide a lovely contrast to your images!

What to wear for your pictures

When it comes to choosing your outfits for the day of your session, simplicity is the word to remember.  Start with a base color, as you work in one or two accent colors to complement.  The guys opted for the simple white button down and jeans, and the ladies wore dusty pink and white to tie in together with the men.  By keeping clothing options simple, your attention is drawn more to people in the picture.  Wei did perfectly when she put her family together!

Are you looking for the perfect location for your family portraits?

Send me a message and we can discuss different options for your family session. You can view more work from the Chesapeake Arboretum here.  While it is a picturesque location, there are endless options in this area for your family!

Let's get planning!

Ordering Experience

New for Summer 2019 - The Client Ordering Experience!

Providing an ordering experience for my clients has been something I have wanted to do for a long time. I have been searching far and wide to give to you a way to visualize the images from your session. It’s important to me that my clients are able to see what pictures will look like in their homes.  I am thrilled to be writing this post right now. This is going to be so cool.

What is the Ordering Experience?

The Ordering Experience is not your average online photo ordering service.  Sure, you can download the images and then re-load them to your chosen online lab to order.  Launching our Online Ordering Experience is going to be your one stop shop for your prints after your session.

Why should I use the Ordering Experience?

Let’s face it.  If you purchase downloadable digital files from your family session, you have to go and upload those files to an online lab.  Which is just making more work for you! Not to mention, if you’re anything like me, you get overwhelmed the amount of choices you have.  How do I pick between different sizes if I don’t know what I’m going to do with it? Here’s an embarrassing confession for you.  For me, using an online ordering service is completely head spinning. I typically end up walking away and then I never get around to printing the pictures.  As a family photographer, there is nothing more mortifying then admitting that I have a hard time ordering pictures of my family.

How Does it Work?

Once you select images from your portrait session, engagement photos, or maternity images – you then drop your images to view them on a wall.  You have the ability to resize your images to your liking and choose how you want to order it and add it to the cart.  My favorite part of this is that you can use a picture of  rooms in your home to see what your images will look like in person!

That’s it!  It has been a long time in the making, but I’m super excited to be able to add this to your client experience!  To check availability for your next session, click here and get in touch! 

Chesapeake Arboretum gazebo family photography

Sturgeon Family - Chesapeake Arboretum

How the Sturgeon Family Rocked their Family Photography Session at the Chesapeake Arboretum!

What a great time of year to explore the beauty of the Chesapeake Arboretum!  If you’re looking for the best place to go for your family photography session in Chesapeake, look no further!  I couldn’t get enough of those sun flares, radiant flowers and all the shades of green a photographer (and a gardener) could ask for! I definitely do not have a green thumb at home, which is one of the reasons why I love working at the arboretum! There is a lot of versatility on the grounds for different backgrounds,  making sessions we have here all the more enjoyable. 🌱

I was just born this cute!” - Ellie Sturgeon 🌸 This girl seriously knows what she is doing when the camera is turned her way.  She loves posing and it shows!

Let me just tell you: the Sturgeons showed up knowing exactly how to not only make me smile, but everyone around them too! Between Ellie declaring confidently she has always been the cutest, to the boys showing off their theatrical skills and then the whole family joining in to sing ‘So long, Farewell,’ from The Sound of Music, I was in photography heaven! The kids got along so well and clearly have so much love for one another, and it shows in every photo I took.

The giggles, the jokes, the silliness, including the “Sturgeon scatter” all lead up to fun, natural moments I could freeze in time for this family. Moments that they can cherish forever.


Oh my gosh, would you just look at these two!  Thirteen years of marriage and still in love. 💑 The way the Sturgeons gaze into each other’s eyes or whisper sweet nothings to one another… it’s priceless! These light-hearted moments, walking through the Chesapeake Arboretum, and learning more about this Navy family is one of the reasons I love what I do! Some families are just intuitive in front of the lens of a camera, and this family is one of them!  📷

I want you to enjoy your time with me; I want to help capture moments and memories, not just faces in time. It’s important for me to help you relax and feel as natural as possible, because those make the best results.

The Arboretum was an amazing setting for the children to explore. Grant and Nolan climbed trees, while Ellie came across a small garden snake! 🐍 These sessions should be fun, and I, as your photographer, value the time we have together, making a split-second of joy a piece of art you can cherish forever.

Learn more about the Chesapeake Arboretum by visiting their Facebook Page here! 

I encourage my clients to come dressed in what shows their personalities, as individuals or as a family, but at the same time it’s essential to be comfortable! Cathy Sturgeon did a idealistic job of dressing to impress for this day outdoors! The colors were simple and contrasting with the greenery, the clothes were seasonally appropriate (super important that no one was sweating through their shirts!) but there is one thing I would like to note as we move into the hotter days.

If you read nothing else in this post, read this!

There is one last thing I want to touch on as spring is quickly turning into summer, and it’s super important.   Keep in mind the mosquitoes and the gnats are coming out in full force towards the end of each day.  When the sun is setting and its radiance is at its peak, so are those pesky bugs.  As you plan and prepare for your session, I highly suggest bringing 🦟 Bug spray as well as sunscreen and water for those hotter evenings! 🌞

Our spring/summer calendar is filling up really quickly!  If you're interested in booking a family photography session in Chesapeake or the surrounding areas,  visit the contact page by clicking here and let's get started! 

Mothers Day

Mother's Day Gift Ideas 2019

Hampton Roads, Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach, Mothers Day 2019 Photography

10 Unique Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Moms in the Hampton Roads Area

Mother’s Day is right around the corner!  I have put together some fantastic Mother’s Day gift ideas for those last minute shoppers.  We’ve polled a lot of mom’s about what they think would be their idea of the perfect gift, taking the hard work out of it for you! Here are the top ten things that Moms in Chesapeake have requested as Mother’s Day Gifts in 2019.

#10  Time with My Kids

I work evenings and weekends, and I just want some quality one on one time with my kids. I want a day where I can spend with each one doing their favorite thing. It’s hard to feel involved in their lives as a mom working the hours I do.  With my work schedule, I miss them, and they miss me!

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#9 An Instapot and a Case of Wine 😂

Insta-pots are all the rage now.  I love a good kitchen gadget, but I am admittedly always behind the curve when it comes to the new “it” thing. However, I have bought into the hype and have gotten an Instapot for my family.  Uhhh, can I say that this gadget has CHANGED THE WAY I DO DINNER!  If your family doesn’t have one, it would be a great gift.  Especially if the mom in your life wants to cut back on all of the residual tasks that come from making dinners! (Like the dishes…)

Now for the wine, that should be self-explanatory!

#8 A Gift Card to a DIY Workshop

A big hit these days is the do it yourself workshops.  We have several in the area that are so much fun to go to.  You can make homemade wooden signs, or trays, wreaths, bags, you name it!  We have one here in Chesapeake, and another in Norfolk that I highly recommend!  Plus gift cards are easy for those of you who seem to like to wait until the last minute to buy a gift!  😂😂😂

#7 A Professional Organizer or a Deep House Clean

Firstly, I’m not saying you need to hire Marie Kondo to organize your entire life.  However, most mom’s will agree that when her house is a disaster she has less time to spend with her kids and her family because she feels like she has to get things cleaned up.  Mom’s are busy people!  We have jobs and chores, and the laundry needs to be done, as well as the dishes.  Oh, man! I forgot to take food out of the freezer for dinner tonight! (thankfully I have my new Instapot! 😉) That all being said, most mom’s constantly feel like they are running just to keep up with life.  Personally, it can be difficult for me to sit down to play a game with the kids when I know I have a list of things that need to get done.

Get mom the gift of a professional organizer to come help sort out your home, or buy her the gift of having someone come do a deep clean of the house ever other week.  It will be a GAME CHANGER for your home.

Less clutter = less chaos = less stress = more time with my family. 💙


#6 Memberships

Ok – I am NOT TELLING YOU to go and buy your wife a gym membership.  Whatever you do – DO NOT DO THAT unless specifically requested! 😂😂. Maybe she would like a membership to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, or a membership to a Wine/Coffee/Beer of the month club.  The possibilities are endless, and you will keep mom smiling all year long.

#5 ME!  (Just kidding...but seriously)

Now I am going to go right ahead with a shameless plug here. PHOTOGRAPHS PEOPLE!!! Hire me to take new family pictures to give to your mom!  Ten years from now she will look at them still hanging up on the walls and be grateful for the lining memories of her family as well as your lives together! I’m also giving a free print for those who book their session before Mother’s Day

Check Availability

Did I mention I also teach a Beginners Photography Course??

#4 Plants *(So much better than flowers)

Megan says  “I love working in my yard and receiving a variety of plants that my kids and spouse picked out is super sweet. Then as I plant and tend the plants for years to come I get to remember who picked it out for me and additionally my kids have the fun memory of watching something grow they gave to me. Bonus points for a cute handmade sign or stone to put by the plant commemorating the year it was given.”

#3 A Night Alone in a Hotel

Hey, I don’t judge.  In fact, I’m liking the way this mom thinks! Christy says hands down “Overnight at a hotel! No baby monitor, sleeping in, brunch, peeing in peace…’s nice to have 24 hours to recharge.” 


Can I add in a completely clean house when I get home too??

#2 Give the Gift of a Break!

My favorite thing would be a break from all of the unpleasant mom jobs…a day of no cleaning (but others clean so it’s not waiting for me the next day), no dealing with fighting kids or screaming babies, no cooking meals but having yummy, nutritious food made by someone else, etc

And the Number One Mother's Day Gift Idea is...(drumroll please!!)

The number one response from mom’s in the Hampton Roads area for Mother’s Day gift ideas would be a day at the spa.  Where I can leave all of my daily stresses behind me, relax  and be pampered.  There are so many great spas in the area, here are just a few!

In Norfolk:

In VA Beach place is pretty amazing)

In Chesapeake

Discovering History in an 80 Year Old Camera

My own personal photographic treasure hunt

In my mom's home office, there has been a really old camera sitting on her bookshelf since I can remember. No one ever touched it. I don't remember a time where it has ever moved. When we moved back to the states this past summer, we stayed with my parents for a week or so. I have no idea what i was doing but one morning it caught my eye. When I ask my mom if I could have it (cheeky, I know) and she told me it was dad's. So, off to look for dad I go!

Now he's in his usual spot and when I asked him he immediately said no. My balloon may have been a little deflated but it really wasn't a huge let down. Especially when my mother told me that it belonged to my dad's father. It made a lot more sense. We don't have a lot of pictures of him hanging around the house. He passed away when my father was really young, so it's not someone we really heard much about growing up. But I found it cool that for all these years we had kept a little piece of him, in the form of a camera sitting on the shelf. My dad gave me that camera right before we left for our new home.

Fast forward a few months and I was skyping with my fabulous friend Andy, who owns Andy Dane Photography, back in England. We were chatting about old cameras and I pulled my little Kodak off the shelf to show him. I want to treat the leather and fix the bellows on it so it will close again. As I was turning it for the camera, I said to him "I don't even know how to open this thing", and right then, found the slide release and the back popped open and oh my WHAT!? There's film in there!!! and immediately close it back as fast as I could. Right then and there I started my hunt for a studio with a darkroom in it.

It didn't take me too much time to discover a photography studio that had a darkroom. It is a bit of a drive from me, but I figure this is well worth it! I went to PRINT Wednesday and met with owners John and Kyoto. It's a charming shop in a part of Newport News called Hilton Village, a historic village modeled after a British village (so right up my aisle). John and I spent the better part of 4 hours in the darkroom with the film that has been in my Kodak SIX-16 camera for who knows how long.
We spent some time trying to get the film out of the camera, in the pitch black, as some how part of it got caught up in the bellows (the accordion). Then trying to find a spool that the film would fit on, trying to figure out the appropriate developing time and so on and so forth and we came out with this.

Are you freaking out right now? Because I sure am! Very clearly plain as day you can make out a shirt and bowtie. and there is a man. We have a man! Looking a little more closer there looks to be a set of stairs or a building! I am completely nerding out. Could this be a picture of my grandfather that my family has never seen?? Looking closer at the film, we can see on a separate shot there is another face, and a hand on another, and where the film is a bit torn, we make out a picket fence, a building and what looks to be a nun! (Who may just be my 82 year old cousin!)

Now admittedly I get easily excited. So when John and I put the negatives under the light to expose the film onto paper my little excite-o-meter skyrocketed! The fact that this film - this picture - is possibly 50, 60 maybe even 70 years old is incredible. Add on that I ACTUALLY OPENED the back of the camera with the film still in it blows my mind.

We focus of the picture of the young boy. When we develop the first shot, I was moved, almost to a point of tears when the picture appears on the paper. We tried a few more times to get a better shot. We did a little split toning with high and low contrast lenses, and we adjusted our exposure time a bit. In the end, we came out with a beautiful image of a young man who bears a similar resemblance to a young Elvis. It could be my grandfather - or maybe one of his brothers, but I really don't know. I could have spent several more hours just playing around with the images, but the day is getting long and I need to get back to my home. I thank John and get my things together to make the trip back across the tunnel. Before I pull out of the lot, I send I picture to my dad to ask him about it!

I can't contain my excitement. So I call right away and Dad gets the picture while Im on the phone with him, and I ask him - who is that? Is that your dad? Or his brothers? *Remember, I don't have a lot of visual images of my grandfather so I don't have the best visual of what he looks like. Dad laughs and says you know what that is??? Thats not my dad, that Jackie Garry - he lived above us. Enter confusion..."Why would you have a picture of the boy who lived above you - in a tux?" To which he replied - "He took Ann to her prom!" Ann is his sister, my aunt.

So now I know who this mystery man is. It's not my grandfather, which is somewhat disappointing...but he is somebody's grandfather, and maybe with some help we unite this picture with his family. I'm sure that will be a long road, but it will be worth having a go at it!

This week I plan to go to Norfolk to a studio that scans negatives from film and is able to get more detail of the images from the scan. I am hoping to see if I can get a picture of the woman, as well as the nun! I will post an update as soon as it happens!

I couldn't be more grateful to John and Kyoto at Print for allowing me to intrude on their shop and spend their afternoon on this little adventure with me. Did I tell you that he has film that works with my camera! I have to seal a light leak, but I'm excited to use it and see if and how well it works! I am excited to visit Print again in the future! If you are into film photography - they have workshops fairly often and are so helpful!

If you didn't see my original posting about my camera have a quick read here! Take a quick second to like my page to follow along on the adventure!

Extended Family Portraits in Chesapeake - The Brown Family

Extended Family Portraits in Chesapeake

I feel so privileged in my line of work.  Every family i have to pleasure of meeting and working with is completely different.   I have to say that I love what I do.   A few weeks back I got to meet the Brown family.  This family is really special to me,  we have Amber, and Travis, their beautiful boys Grady and Garrett, and Bailey the superpup, we also had Travis’ parents Donna & Mike join in on the session. I had quite a bit of fun watching them interact.  It’s evident that Grady & Garrett are surrounded with a lot of love. Grady is so sweet…he even helped me take pictures of his mom & dad.  Garret is an angel and his eyes just melt your heart! However, I will say that the award has got to go that gorgeous pup Bailey.  I don’t know that I have seen such a well behaved dog.  He  was so patient throughout the morning,  especially when being ridden like a horse by both boys!  I think he even enjoyed it.

Extended family portraits with dogs chesapeake va
pictures of dads with kids

Planning a Session

I always talk with my clients about the purpose of a shoot — are these for holiday pictures or to celebrate a special moment (maternity, engagement, etc.)?   Or are you looking  just to capture the beauty of this stage of your children’s life before it passes?  Knowing that Amber & Travis were looking for family portraits with Travis’ parents that would double as holiday photos allowed me to be intentional in arranging groupings, choosing the specific backdrop, and composing the images.  I like to plan ahead – to understand what your needs are, and how you want your images to looks.  

The perfect location will make all the difference!

Amber and I decided on a morning shoot  out at Great Bridge Lock Park in Chesapeake. It’s always exciting to find a good location for outdoor portraits that’s right in everyone’s backyard! There is a footbridge that walks out to an overlook of the marsh that provided a unique backdrop, and we walked through the woods to add some variety. Both boys had tons of fun with sticks, rocks, and all the other good things that come with a fall photo shoot.  

Interestingly enough, having grandparents join in for an extended family portrait session is so enlightening to me.  It’s like looking through a window to see how parenting transcends from generation to generation. Now, I honestly believe that parenting is a learned experience. No one really knows how to parent when they have their first child. Everything you do as a parent comes naturally from what you experience in your own childhood. When I went through the images of their session it was clear that Mike and Donna are so proud of their family.

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Interested in booking an extended family session?  Or looking to send updated pictures to the Grandparents?

Have I mentioned how much I love fall shoots? I typically focus my sessions when the sun is low in the sky.  Whether that is early in the morning or later in the day,  fall gives us a lot of the benefits of natural lighting without needing to keep small kids awake until 9pm. We do still have a bit of autumn foliage around, but my slots are filling up quickly! Check out my availability here!

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Maternity Photos at First Landing State Park

Maternity Photos at First Landing State Park,  Virginia Beach

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman expecting her first child.  Or even her second. Or third.  I love the glow of a pregnant woman, her skin, her smile, her eyes…You can see the life breathing into her by just thinking of the little one growing inside of her.

I met Tiana by complete chance.  We both use the remarkably talented Leslie Dina Hylton as our hair stylist.  Tiana and Leslie spoke of having maternity pictures done and looking into newborn photos.    I told her that I wasn’t a newborn photographer,  but I would give her few tips on what to look for for hiring one.

We chatted for a while, and I gave her my card.  I offered help in looking for one that would be suitable to handle her baby if she wanted or even some tips on flattering poses if she wanted.  A little time went by and she ended up calling on me to take her maternity photos.   As soon as we talked I was so excited to work with her.  I had a vision.

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First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach is such a unique location for your maternity photos. On the east coast, there are few places to enjoy the sunset dip into the waters along the horizon.  It’s a beautiful spot where you can just make out the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the water.  It can be a very popular spot for families beaching as well as for photographers around sunset.


Tiana is such a beautiful woman to me, and a dream in a blue maternity gown.  I instantly knew what I wanted the end result of her session to look like!  Which, as a photographer is so key to working with a client.  I hope you love the photos from this session as much as I do.  I am so proud to say that one of the photos from our session together has been featured in Vogue Italia.  With such a beautiful location and a dazzling mother-to-be, it’s no wonder. More on that in a future post!

maternity sillouette taken at sunset in Virginia Beach

In order for your maternity session to be as successful as Tiana's, here are a few tips to keep in mind!

  • Talk to your photographer about what their vision for your images are. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for and see if their creative vision fits along yours.  These are pictures documenting your pregnancy and you want to be confident in how they turn out!
  • Ask your photographer if they provide dresses or if you need to yourself.  If you choose your own, go for solid colors and stay away from anything with stripes on it!
  • Schedule your session for sometime around 30-32 weeks.   After the 32-34 week mark, you really start to FEEL heavy and your baby starts doubling in size.  You want to feel beautiful, and I know it’s hard to feel so when you are carrying around a little person inside of you.  So by planning ahead you get images that show off that gorgeous round bump, and your beautiful figure, BEFORE baby starts doubling in size!
  • Drink lots of water the night before and of course during your session.  Especially if you are outdoors.  You should be doing this anyways, but hydrating the day before will help with your skin tone.
  • Wear a neutral strapless undergarments to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.  Nuff said.

Hope you found these to be useful to you.  If you want to know more about booking a maternity session fill out the form below and I would be glad to help you plan yours out!

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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

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