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Brian and Monika rock our socks off – talk about your dream clients!

[as my bro Z would say, “No, really.  Let’s talk about it!”]

Everything about their wedding was absolutely BEAUTIFUL.   The weather, the decor, the couple, everything! We were  honored that Brian and Monika trusted us completely and let us do our thing.   The Hermitage Museum was a gorgeous venue for an outdoor wedding;  we could have stayed there all day.  It was a 100 year old house with great landscaping and gardens to shoot against.   Later, we also loved the contrast of going from the classical gardens of the Hermitage to the sleek, modern architecture of the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach for their reception.    Seriously, wedding photographer heaven.

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How cute are these two?

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They were so fun and let us take a good hour for their portraits:

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With all three of us shooting, we got a ridiculous amount of images we liked, so instead of our usual 5 photo post, we  made a mini-slideshow.  I will shut up now and let you bask in Brian & Monika’s magnificence:

They sent us this lovely email post-wedding:

Hey Guys,

We just wanted to extend a HUGE thanks for all your hard work in helping to make our special day that much more special. You guys have WOWed us from your timeliness, professionalism, friendliness and the shear awesomeness of your collective talents. Basically, you guys rock on all accounts.

Everyone has been thoroughly impressed with you and we thought you should know. We’ll definitely recommend you to anyone and everyone [and actually we’ve already been pushing you for a friend’s spring wedding :)].

So thanks again for everything that you do, and we look forward to working with you moving forward.

Awesome couple, awesome wedding.   We love our job!

– Cies

I shot this session about a month ago, but I’m catching up on posting blogs….

You may remember Tiffany from an earlier blog post showcasing her Malaya-styled maternity session.   Her baby Saiphera Marie is part of our Baby Steps portrait plan where we photograph your baby from the newborn stage through age one.   Fun fact:  at every newborn session, since we photograph the entire family, we give the mama a little pampering too.  Mom’s get their makeup done by Rina and it’s totally on the house.  We know how it is just having a baby and although, yes, parenthood is so amazing, you also have to deal with being perpetually fatigued and stained with various baby fluids.   Not to mention the anxiety wondering if and/or when your pre-baby body will make it’s triumphant return and how that translates in photos.   DCPG’s got your back, mamas – we’ll help you feel good and look good!

Jaison, Tiffany + Baby Saiphy

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Love the matching expressions, plus how her tiny hand is clutching his finger:

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Motherhood suits Tiffany well:

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Jaison wanted to do one of those shots where you hold the baby in just your hands, but being that Saiphy was almost a month old at this point, we settled for this.  Still cute!  She’s so photogenic:

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Tummy time!  Check her sweet faux-hawk:

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Jaison is a local musician (an awesome singer/keyboardist/songwriter) and when Saiphy was being fussy he picked up my daughters $10 keyboard and serenaded her with a song he wrote for her.  She was calmed almost instantly – it was amazing.   I wish I took audio of him singing, it had a really catchy melody.   She seems like she’s listening intently:

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Like father, like daughter:

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Adorable polka dot theme:

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By the way, happy 4th birthday to my nephew (Rina’s son) Tonio!!!  He is so cute it’s just ridiculous:

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– Cies

We just signed up with a sweet new service that allows you to book your own appointments online!  You can book everything – photo sessions, consultations, purchasing appointments.  You even have the option to pre-pay online via PayPal for your session!

Book Online Now

[Regular blog posts are below]

It’s a small world in Virginia Beach, even smaller between the Filipino community, and Facebook makes it almost microscopic, so needless to say, we’ve been really blessed as far as referrals go. A lot of times, the prospective clients that come to us know more than 4 of our former clients.  Joyce happened to be a fan on our Facebook page as well as a good friend of the Cabatit’s (and about 30 other mutual friends).

I scheduled their session at 9:30am thinking that mornings were optimal for little kids, plus it wouldn’t be too warm, but man, was I wrong! It was HOT.   The kind of heat that multiplies all the indigineous city smells (in this case:  garbage, hobo urine, and seawater).   In typical Tidewater fashion, two days later, the weather was a gorgeous 75 degrees.  Sigh.

Nonetheless, Joyce, Ian and their son Ethan showed up looking fab!  I am loving all these hip, well-dressed families, for real! I heart the purple accents with grey color palette:

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Says Ethan –  “Ethan tired!”  Aww.

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Mama time:

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We saved the awesome new dancing fountains for last hoping it would cheer him up and I’d get a smile or two.   He really liked them, but he was so fascinated that he just stood and stared at it, not moving:

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These photos were taken seconds apart.  Note the barely changed expression:

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Little E, lookin’ sharp!

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Being that I wasn’t able to get E to crack a smile even once, Joyce and I agreed to attempt this one more time when the weather was nicer.   I’m determined to get some happy looking pics of this cutie pie, so stay tuned for part 2 sometime in the coming weeks!

– Cies

I have been dying to blog about this particular session but per usual got caught up in the craziness of home life, work life and all its various overlaps.   Anyone who follows us on Facebook has mos def already seen these photos and heard the story, but here goes for our lovely blog followers…

A few months prior, I did a Malaya shoot of super nice, aspiring photographer Pam.    So pretty!

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She really dug our style, so she asked to book family portraits for herself, her boyfriend Chris and their 6 year old daughter Paris.   Due to Chris’ insane travel/work schedule, it took another 3 or 4 months before we were able to coordinate a shoot day.

The day of their shoot rolls around and I wake up late, due to a gig the night before (I play bass/sing for a local band called the Astropop 3) and see that I missed eleventy billion phone calls from Pam and Chris.    I panicked, assuming an emergency came up, but when I finally got in touch with Chris, he told me he had a BIG surprise planned that he wanted us to capture.  And so, through a few more sneaky phone calls,  we devised a loose plan which included a series of signals and semi-code phrases to use when the time/place was right.

Muhahahaha….

Btw, huge style points to all of them!  They were a perfect example of coordinated yet fashionable outfits that didn’t need to resort to that whole white shirts and khaki pants standard.   I honestly don’t know how Chris wore a sweater vest with a long-sleeved shirt in that heat, but it worked out well!

Such a beautiful family.  They were so fun to shoot too; willing to try anything and not taking themselves too seriously:

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Here’s their satire of those uber-serious family portraits.  Little Paris is a pro, she went w/ the flow of whatever her parents were doing and pulled it off perfectly.  She was a total sweetheart too:

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They wanted a fair amount of real moments and ended up buying this next photo as a huge canvas wrap.   I heart their choice because it’s definitely reflective of how they are as a family and it’s an unusual (in a good way) pick for an enlargement.  It’s pretty sweet having clients who think out of the box…or frame, as it is.  Oh and I believe what led to Paris’ laugh in this photo was her dad asking, “Hey, remember that time you farted on your mom’s neck?” Classic.

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This was the last location on our photoshoot, so it was time for the “big show”.    Chris gave us the signal and we responded in affirmative with our code phrase, “We’re going to change our lenses” –  we actually did change lenses, to buy a little bit of time and get everyone in place.   Meanwhile, Chris nervously chainsmoked cigarettes while Pam and Paris were completely oblivious.   Finally, we got all of them into position and stood there awkwardly for a moment (I honestly wanted to yell, “Do it now!!” but thankfully, refrained) and then, to Pam’s complete and utter shock…

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I remember her being so caught off guard, she asked him, “Why are you doing this here?” not realizing that we were all totally in on it the whole time and it was set up.   She hugged me twice afterward.  And look how cute and stoked Paris is for her parents…this photo was so precious, they chose it as the cover to their engagement album:

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So CONGRATULATIONS to Pam and Chris on their engagement and big ups to Chris for having the foresight to do it during a photoshoot.  Not many people get their proposal caught on camera, let alone professionally, so I thought this was a pretty awesome way to put a ring on it.     Here they are, freshly engaged:

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We were super excited for them to see their photos, so there’s a quickly edited slideshow up I did the day of, if you’d like to see more:  http://photos.dc-pg.com/cabatit/

Speaking of engagements/weddings, my partners are leaving today for Las Vegas.  Lester and his BFF Allen are both getting married later this fall (not to each other, although I’m sure its crossed their minds…kidding!), so they’re having a joint 5-day bachelor extravaganza with Mendell and the rest of their homies.  Someone’s gotta stay put and run this joint, so I’ll be here doing shoots and answering emails as always – send me a message 🙂

– Cies

Jasmin and Rina have been good friends since they were kids; I have some fond memories of those two that I cannot post on here because they’d probably kill me (haha).  Anyway, we are shooting Pat + Jasmin’s wedding in October and if their e-session was any indication, we’re going to have a ridiculously good time on their wedding day.  I think we spent most of the time laughing so hard we were crying – Jasmin told me the next day her cheeks hurt from laughing so much.    That’s why I love photographing people I know; there’s a built in comfort level that makes everything easier.

Due to our insane hurricane season, it’s been raining pretty much 75% of the summer, so we decided to shoot indoors  at Chesapeake’s Aloft hotel.   Since Mendell does graphic design/marketing for Aloft’s owner compay, the staff hooked us up with a room to use while we were there and the bartender on duty was super accomodating; letting me go behind the bar for some shots and even making drinks for them as props.

We did this Malaya-style, with Rina doing Jasmin’s makeup and both of them having 2 outfit changes.  Both of them have great style (love the grey/orange palettes!) and were willing to do pretty much everything we asked, even the silly stuff, so all in all, a great shoot.  Can’t wait for their wedding!

Cute:
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Jasmin, being cute in the 1st pic then gettin the drop on Pat in the 2nd pic , “LOOK AT MEEEEE!!!!”

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Relaxing in the courtyard:

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And finally, a quiet and beautiful moment:

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After we wrapped their session, they invited us (and all our kids + spouses) over for pizza, wings and UFC fights on TV.  Great end to a great shoot!

– Cies

Olivia is the latest inductee into our Baby Steps plan.  I’ve known her mom, Tina, since our high school days slinging fast food Italian for $4.25 (!!!) an hour.    Tina was worried she was too late to get into the portrait plan because Olivia was closer to 4 months, but we’re totally flexible – if your baby is over 3 months (or even later), you can still get the same $250 pricing.  It’s basically a way to get 4 consecutive shoots for a really, really good price.

I’m a little bit biased when I say Olivia is one of the prettiest babies I’ve ever seen because she reminds me a LOT of our daughter when she was that age.     I love getting to photograph all these babies because it brings back memories, plus it’s a perfect excuse to just play with and hold babies all the time.   DCPG loves kids, so we have a great job for sure.

We did mostly solo pics of her in various outfits, but her parents were soo cute with her that I decided to get some shots of them interacting too.

Cuteness on the floor of her nursery:

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Look at this face!!! So precious:

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Tina and Jason absolutely adore her.  They were so sweet to watch:
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We finally wore her out:

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– Cies

I had started writing a similar article/rant about this very subject, but then I stumbled on this post which very perfectly summed it up.    Yes, there are many photographers who charge so much less than DCPG or other mid to high-end custom photographers, but price is just part of the consideration.    Please, please, please, read on:

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The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art.

We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

The cost of TIME

Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session.

Here is an example of a time break down:

  • session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
  • one hour travel time TO session
  • 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
  • 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
  • one hour travel time FROM session
  • 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
  • 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
  • 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
  • 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
  • 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
  • 1 hour sorting through and checking order
  • 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
  • 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
  • any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.

The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.

Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success. Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details. There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS:

Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. In February 2007 leased photography retail space by a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.

Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.

REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:

Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part. Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..

Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity. The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

content is inspired by discussions with other photographers, my own personal experiences and outline based on an article by San Diego Photographers Caught On Film Photography

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Couldn’t have said it better myself! I hope this helps you guys understand our industry…

Quick post and then we’ll be pretty quiet for the rest of the week settling some home/family stuff!

Mendell and I had the pleasure of running our photobooth at Anna and Darius’ wedding reception at the Virginia Beach Resort & Conference Center.   There wasn’t a lot of room, so we set up in the entryway and I’m pretty sure the waitstaff was totally hating us because the photobooth mobs were constantly in their path to the kitchen haha.   I liked our spot though, as we found a cool blue wall w/ polka dots that made a nice backdrop (and saved us from having to set ours up!)

Per usual, we had a lot of fun! The photobooth is always a huge hit at wedding receptions and we get to talk and interact with everyone – as opposed to shooting the event where we’d have to stay unseen and out of the way.  It’s a nice change of pace, really.  Anna’s brother Leo surprised them by buying our photobooth service for them and they and their guests loved it.    Congrats you two and call us when the bebe is born! 🙂

For more photobooth pics from this wedding, visit DCPG’s facebook page: 

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=110081&id=26389196050

Leo, his lovely gf Kechelle and the happy bride and groom (+1 in the belly!):

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