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Love,
DCPG

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

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]

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…

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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Mendell and I spent a better part of tonight with Erin, Kevin and their 4 month old twin girls, Katie and Abbey.  I’ve been wanting to test drive our lifestyle portraiture, so the Corrie’s graciously agreed to let us invade their household for an evening and photograph a little slice of their lives.   It was really fun – we basically just followed them around on their nightly routine (playtime, feeding, bath, bedtime) and documented.   Ocassionally we’d move lights or furniture around and give very light direction, but mostly, we just sat back and observed.

I really enjoyed doing this and I think it’s great especially for parents with babies.  These days go by so fast and it’s a blessing to have tangible memories of what it was like during the beginning.    It’s not just about recording what everyone looks like; it’s the subtle but important everyday things.   It’s the way a new parent looks at their baby – so proud, so fascinated and so completely in love.  It’s the smile that the baby only gives to their parents.  It’s the tenderness, the bond, the silly songs, the fleeting moments you can’t repeat.   My daughter is going to kindergarten in the fall and if not for our millions of photos, I’d never remember exactly what happened or what our life was like back when she was still a baby.   Being that Kevin and Erin have twins, they definitely don’t have the luxury of one parent taking photos…hard to do when your hands are literally full!

Anyway, here are a few shots.  Thanks again to Kevin and Erin for feeding us dinner and letting us into your home!

Here’s Katie and Abbey staring up at Mendell, who is holding a ginormos reflector over their heads:

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What’s funny about the next photo is that although it looks very dramatic, Erin and I were discussing how you feel like you dropped the ball when someone else cuts your kid’s nails before you remember to.   hahaha.

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I think this is Katie?

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Bath time with daddy:

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Bedtime with mommy:

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The other babies:

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We will be photographing them again as a more official family portrait session later this month.   I’m definitely looking forward to it!

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In an effort to blog more frequently, we are going to start posting articles other than recent jobs.   We have worked with some amazing people in our industry and I just want to take the time to highlight one of them.

Human Story Films is based out of Richmond, VA and they have an amazing storytelling sensibility to their films; weaving in wedding highlights with interviews from the couple and their loved ones.     This seamless blending of footage and narrative creates a very engaging, personal and heartfelt wedding day story.

Bill Gaff, Human Story’s chief filmmaker, along with his crew shot Winston and Hazel’s wedding with us back in August and he recently sent us a copy of their wedding DVD.  We watched it and were blown away by the style and quality.   I actually watched it twice haha – definitely a rarity with me and wedding videos.

He was nice enough to add these  kind words to us:

“It was a pleasure working with you guys.  [It’s] clear that you put as much energy into making it a nice experience as you do into the artistic part. Both are outstanding.”

Bill was voted one of the 25 Hottest and Most Influential Event Videographers in the World by the readers of EventDV Magazine and also had a wedding (and really nice write-up) featured on the chic bride site, StyleMePretty.com

If you’re looking for something unique, something truly historical and personal for your wedding day, give Human Story a call.  You won’t be disappointed.

– Cies

Quick post today! First of all, I’m happy to say that we now are able to take credit cards! If you want to pay via the internet, you still have to use PayPal (or Collages.net if you have a site up), but now you can pay for sitting fees and more w/ a credit card in person or over the phone.  Yay!

Now onto the good stuff….we’ve been shooting a lot more families and kids lately and I just wanted to share some recent pics before we go out of town for a few days!  We try to do something different for each family; we like to tailor the setting and the shots based on the clients personality and needs.   Enjoy!

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Have a great weekend and see you in June!

– Cies

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

First off, happy mother’s day to all the mama’s out there.  Hope you enjoyed your day!

Apologies for the lack of recent posts – we’ve been busy! In a good way, of course, but I’m sorry we don’t update the blog as often.   So what’s up w/ DCPG (or “the Peeg” as my sister likes to call it)?  Well, in sad news, we closed down our rental studio temporarily.  We really loved having it, however, it wasn’t quite fiscally responsible to keep it at the moment.  But I have a goal to reopen in another location by the end of the year, so definitely stay tuned for that.   On the plus side, the weather has been staying clear and warm enough to shoot outside , so we haven’t been lacking in sessions. I’ll definitely start posting recent work on here again, but keep tabs on our Facebook page – it has ALL our most recent work.  Become a fan if you haven’t already 🙂

Internally, we have a very welcome change coming up.  My sister Carrie will be moving to Virginia Beach and also joining DCPG as our new Office Manager.  I’m still in the process of training her, but you’ll talk to her via email or telephone very soon if you contact us and I’ll probably have her updating our Facebook and blog as well.   Since I picked up shooting portraits, I haven’t had much time and, frankly, desire to keep up on the back end office work, so I am super relieved to be handing it over to someone that I trust and is way more fastidious (in a good way) and organized than I!

Now on to the good stuff —

**NEW** Mother’s Day Makeover Special!

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re offering a summer-long portrait special (because you should honor the mom in your life more than once a year):

$200
Family, Solo or Maternity
1 hour On-location portrait session
Hair & makeup included for Mama
All Portrait Products 25% Off
Choice of:
5×7 Photobook w/ images from your session
–OR–
11×14 Canvas Wrap Portrait

Email us for rules and restrictions.  This special will expire on August 31, 2009.

Also…..Lower Wall Print Prices!!

We have decided to significantly lower our wall print prices.  Starting today, regular prints 11×14 and larger are now much more affordable.  Here are some popular sizes:

11×14 $65 (old price $100)
16×20 $150 (old price $250)
20×20 $180 (old price $300)
20×24 $215 (old price $325)

Please note we can make regular prints and canvas wraps in almost every size, including odd and panoramic sizes – just let us know and we’ll quote you!  If you have photos currently hosted on Collages.net, you should see the price changes immediately.  If your site has expired, but you are interested in purchasing a wall print, send me a message!

Weekend sunset sessions in May are pretty much booked up, so if you’re looking into a June shoot, it’s best to book now! Earlier sessions (between 9:30 and 2pm) are also available for both weekdays and weekends.   Also, DCPG will be “off” from May 27th to June 1st for Memorial Day weekend.

I will end this post with some of  DCPG’s favorite mom photos:
Audrey & Jaden
My mom 🙂
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Avigail & Sophia

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Susie & Anna
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Pon & Alexandra
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Happy Mother’s Day!!
– Cies & DCPG