So many times I hear, “I only get 8 edited images for that price? That price seems high. Each additional image costs more? Why can’t I keep them all? Seems like a lot of money.”

Before I was a photographer, I would have been asking the same questions. But now that I’m a photographer, I can answer them and tell you that the average amount of work that goes into making great images usually exceeds the asking price.

Pre-Photo Session: I spend lots of time searching Pinterest and setting up boards that are specific to your family. There are traditional poses that I want to get for you, but the trends are always changing and I like to try for new poses as well. For Christmas, props need to be bought and a location needs to be rented. For the fall, I need to scout out a cool foliage-filled location, pick out the thorny/prickly/itchy things on the path and make sure it’s fun/safe to photograph your family there.

For all sessions, Lighting needs to be tested, batteries and cords need to be tested and camera settings need to be adjusted for the environment.

Faces: Making a great family photo sometimes means that I need to tweak a few things. Occasionally teeth need to be whitened, eye and forehead wrinkles need to be smoothed, age-spots need to be zapped along with acne and a previous snack might need to be removed from your face or teeth. The make-up one person is wearing may need to be balanced with two children pale as porcelain.

In many cases, I may have a perfect family photo where everyone is looking at me, smiling their best genuine smiles and one person or dog is giving me stink-eye or looking in the opposite direction. In those cases, I search through other photos where the lighting is the same so I can make a head swap. From there, I need to blend the new head with the photo so it doesn’t look like a cut-out and, on some occasions, fix the lighting as the sun may not be exactly the same on the new head.

Clothing: I know you clean and iron your beautifully coordinated outfits, but sometimes things happen and I need to fix a few things. For those with babies, I need to zap the drooly/pukey/gooky stuff that might come out of them and land on your clothes. For those who have driven a substantial distance, your shirt might be wrinkled and you may have “knees” in your jeans from sitting so long. Those need to be smoothed. Some of you flannel-wearing families like to up the game for me and challenge my wrinkle-smoothing skills. I do my best, but sometimes you end up with some wrinkles because I can’t spend hours on a piece of plaid. I just can’t!

Limbs: kid’s limbs are kinda unpredictable and can fling out at any given moment. I might have to find another picture with limbs that are under control to cut, paste and blend into the picture.

Background: The sun is constantly moving and I can’t schedule every family for that perfect shot where the sun is directly behind them dramatically beaming through the trees. Sometimes I have to “make” the sun. shhh! I love doing it but it’s a long process. Sometimes the gorgeous foliage looks more vibrant in real life than in the image and those specific tree limbs need to isolated, saturated and blended. Un-noticed tree branches way behind you may look closer in the digital image making you look like you have a branch coming out of your bum. Funny to see but not so great to mount above your fireplace.

Unedited Pictures: Having unedited images posted on social media is equivalent to distributing a year-end summary with small addition mistakes. No one likes to have their “B” game advertised.

Newborns: My favorite photoshoots are of babies! These session seem to take the longest due to baby needing to be fed, changed and hugged, but it gives us time to oogle over how cute your little nugget is. I set up 2-3 scenes before you arrive so that there is no extra waiting time and try to be as helpful to mama, who is still recovering from childbirth. Lots of Photoshop love and attention goes into the skin tone to smooth dry skin or balance any redness and dribble/spit-up stains.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t keep doing this job if I didn’t LOVE doing it!

I love meeting the families; I love the challenge of getting genuine smiles; I love capturing real personalities; I really LOVE what I can do in Photoshop; and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE capturing moments you could never capture on a cell phone.

READ: What to Expect at a Niki Jamieson Photography Photo Shoot

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