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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

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…

We had a triple header on Sunday, with myself shooting newborn Adriana and recent grad Audrianna in VB and the boys shooting the Wrights off in Oceanview.   I’ll have the Wright family pics up in a later post when I get some edits from the guys!

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but there were lots of similarities between my two shoots:  their similar names,  the milestone portrait session, they were both beautiful girls and both shoots were gifts from family members (brothers, to be exact).    My homie Gary bought the Baby Steps Plan for his brother and Audrianna’s brother paid for her Malaya session as well.    Portraiture is a GREAT gift – especially for important moments like a new baby or celebrating your first steps into adulthood…priceless.

Btw, take note people,  this is a really good example of coordinating outfits without matching.  Cute color palette and good lookin’ fam!

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Baby Adriana was only 10 days old and slept pretty much through her entire shoot.  When we did get her to open her eyes, I was so glad because she had pretty blue/green eyes:

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Proud papa:

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A few hours after Adriana’s shoot, it was Audrianna’s turn.   I never met her nor really knew anything abut her until the day she showed up; her brother booked the shoot and I only spoke to her via text message (kids these days!) but right when she walked in, Rina and I knew it would be a great shoot.   She was a photographer’s dream – super duper nice and also drop dead gorgeous.   We decided to stay close by and just wander around Town Center.   We avoided the fountain area and instead explored the Westin,  the Sandler Center courtyard and the small “park” across the street.

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Her boyfriend tagged along which I give him mad props for…Malaya shoots are extemely long and boring for the people who aren’t the subject but he hung in there.  When we finished up her shoot, I grabbed a couple of shots of them together:

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Upcoming posts:  Hiecee’s Malaya & family shoot (ask about that discount for both shoots!), the Wright fam, and the Kunda boys.  Oh and if you haven’t, please check out our new mini page featuring recent Phototbooth jobs plus tons of information about booking our Photobooth services at your next event.

– Cies

Rina and I attempted to throw our first Malaya Girls Night In – a  boudoir party where, for a nominal fee, a bunch of girls would get together at a chic local hotel, hang out, eat/drink and each have a boudoir-inspired mini-photoshoot.   There was a lot of interest and several girls RSVP’d and told us how excited they were but as the day grew closer, they started to get nervous and chicken out.  By the time the day of the party rolled around, we only had one girl actually show up.  Nevertheless, we still had a blast – lots of wine, good conversation and a gorgeous subject to work with.  Being the only one that showed, Michelle had our undivided attention so we ended up doing 4 total looks.   She requested us not to post the lingerie shots (although, she looked AMAZING), but here are a couple of our faves for the night:

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Thanks to Michelle for a great night – you were beautiful and we must do this again before you leave for Rome!!

– Cies

I’m running an 8K in a few hours, but of course my workaholic self is here posting blogs.   Today,  I photographed my homie Melbo’s girlfriend, Brittany.   She’s super cute without makeup, so I knew once we got her dolled up in a Malaya session, she would look amazing.   I only had time to edit two of them so far, but I was extremely happy with this shoot.   It was gross and hot outside and I accidentally exposed her to poison ivy (sorry, Brittany!), but we all had a great time and I really love how the photos came out.

She looks gorgeous and I heart the vibrant colors:

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Casual headshot..she’s so cute:

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I actually am shooting AGAIN this afternoon, so these blog posts will keep on keepin on! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Senior sessions are also new to DCPG, but I’m finding that they are a lot of fun!  Seniors are that magical combo of being old enough to take direction without comment, but young enough to be super excited about having their photo taken – there’s always such great energy in senior sessions.   A month or so ago, we did Tana’s senior portraits under the Malaya division – so we did her hair and makeup and she got several outfits ranging from casual to her crazy bright prom dress (btw, any graduates/rising senior girls…I highly, highly recommend including your prom dress in your session!)  We were pressed for time because she had to attend a family dinner, but we were able to knock out 3 outfits and slight makeup/hair changes in an hour.   Thanks Rina!!

Tana ordered a bunch of prints and requested to have them before her graduation party this weekend.  They came in late last night from the lab and she has been literally dying to see theem, but I can’t deliver until later on tonight due to a shoot I have all day today (I’m literally typing this while today’s client is getting her hair and makeup done haha).

So in the meantime, I will share some of them online.    Since she had such vibrant colors in her hair and clothes, put against the nice greenery of the park, I decided to get them printed on metallic photo paper.   The prints look AMAZING.  Both black/white and color really “pop” on metallic – if you’ve never seen it, ask me about a sample!

She has great eyes…and love the red highlights!

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This photo still makes me laugh.   Her sister would sneak into the background while I was taking pictures, and Tana actually ordered this one as wallet size.    Like I said in my previous post, it’s about the moment as much as the subject:

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I had her stand by this Japanese maple just because I liked it, but it worked out really well w/ both her dress and hair color.   Magic!

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Her prom dress is seriously that color in real life.   It’s awesome.

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Tiffany is one of our first clients in our brand new Baby Steps portrait sessions program.    She is 7 1/2 months along, so it was the perfect time to shoot her complimentary maternity portraits, which is the first of five total sessions that come with the package (more details after the photos).    It was the first session I’ve photographed since we ceased using our rental studio, so at first I was a little apprehensive in not having as much space and equipment around.   To my surprise, it was much more convenient shooting at home and now I’m not so sad about losing the studio.

I’ve actually known Tiffany since middle school and although we really weren’t that closely acquainted, I always knew her to be very sweet and kind.  In recent years, she worked at the same place as my sister Rina (as do 90% of my first Malaya clients), so when it came time to do her maternity portraits, she contacted DCPG.   We were very sad to hear that about a week prior, her mother passed away.  Despite the sudden and tragic circumstances,  Tiffany was strong and did so beautifully at her maternity session – a true testament to her spirit.  We are looking forward to finding ways to honor Tiffany’s mother in the future portrait sessions w/ her granddaughter.

In classic Malaya fashion, we did a few clothed outfits and then went into boudoir-style maternity portraits.    I tend to favor semi-nudes or tight clothing to show off the bump – pregnant women are beautiful and yes, they can be sultry!  Here’s a clothed one w/ our signature Malaya backdrop:

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Hot mama:

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Stilettos and a smile, baby:

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This next shot was Rina and Tiffany’s idea – here’s Tiffany unwrapping the best present ever:

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Baby Steps is our brand new portrait plan that covers your baby’s entire first year in a series of portrait sessions:

DCPG Baby Steps – $250.00 one-time payment

Complimentary Maternity Session (if you book us ahead of time!)
Newborn Session
3 months old Session
6 months old Session
One year old Session
5″ x 7″  Brag Book with 2 photos from each session
— OR —
24″ x 9″ Wall Collage featuring 1 photo from the newborn, 3 mos, 6 mos and 1 year session

We’re really excited to finally offer a baby plan – contact us today to book your first session!

We’ve been uber-busy with shoots lately and Mendell did a GREAT family shoot the same day as Tiffany’s maternity portraits (the joys of having 2 other partners!), so stay tuned for another blog post.

– Ciesther