Everyone’s a Photographer These Days…

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Well at least it seems like it. I don’t know how many “photographers” there are in my surrounding area.

Fauxtographers.

When I put the word photographer in quotes I’m including the fauxtographer’s. There are quite a few definitions of the word fauxtographer. The best one I found is from Techopedia. Techopedia’s website defines it as fraudulent photography, where photographs are manipulated through Photoshop or manipulated by other means to change the information they convey. Fauxtography is often used to manipulate the viewer and promote a particular agenda.

Fauxtography is also occasionally used to refer to low-quality or humorous photographs taken by amateur photographers who have started photography businesses or blogs despite their limited experience and skill. In this sense, fauxtography is an Internet meme.

The first definition I don’t totally agree with because it says that photos are manipulated with Photoshop. I don’t know any photographers that don’t use Photoshop or another photo editor program to edit their images. Now the second definition I do agree with. I mean there is even a website dedicated to all of the fake photographers which is You are not a Photographer. It has some pretty comical photos. You have to wonder what these people are thinking! Do they really think the photo is good?! It just blows my mind.

Why Are There So Many “Photographers?

There are several reasons these days that everyone thinks they are photographers and turn it into a job. Technology is the biggest reasoning. You will read it in every blog post or article that it seems like as soon as someone gets a nice camera they can start charging people to take their photos. The gear you have does NOT make you a photographer! You can have the best, top of the line camera and lenses and still take horrible pictures. It does help to have good equipment but it sure doesn’t MAKE you a legit photographer. Another reason the rise of “photographers” has sky rocketed over the past few years is because every smartphone has a camera. Yes, sometimes you can take an awesome picture or two but still, you’re not a photography. And yep, phone photography is a thing. There are photographers that use only their phone for to do sessions in place of a DSLR camera. But again just because that new Iphone can take a good photo and you can edit it on 1 of the thousands of picture editing apps does not make you a photographer. FYI, some of those picture editing apps make the pictures look like crap.

Does it Bother Me? Well Yes…

I am not complaining about these people, don’t get me wrong. Yes, it drives me crazy that people can do the above, make a FB page, and become a photographer overnight. And yes it does bother me some. Why does it drive me crazy and bother me? Well typically these people are charging $15-$20 to do photos and “edit” the photos and hand them all over to the person they took pictures of. Who wouldn’t love to pay that amount and get EVERY photo taken! Well, the only people I can think of are those that don’t respect true photographers and the photographers behind the scenes work. It’s kind of like going to a hair stylist who ordered some scissors, combs, brushes, etc. off of Amazon and titled themselves as a hair stylist because they have the right equipment. Would you honestly go to them for your hair care? I highly doubt it. In the photography world of social media see these fauxtographers as hurting professional photographers business. I guess that can be true but then again a client who wants to pay $20 to get their pictures taken and are happy with being handed over all of the images aren’t my ideal client. I understand not everyone can afford professional photographers and that’s fine but that’s also why I offer payment plans. And I myself am not that expensive. Art is expensive, good art is really expensive. I know a lot of people would be surprised to hear that most people who are looking to have great photos of their family displayed in their home will spend between $500-$3,000 for photography products.

Educate Yourself. I Have.

From seeing these fauxtographers pictures I can only assume that they have not been to any photography workshops, taken any classes or e-courses, studied any aspect of photography, or have watched any of the many tutorials or e-course YouTube videos. This is another reason it bothers me that fauxtographers are getting business when I may not be. I have done tons of reading, studying, watching hours upon hours of videos on things from the basics to editing tutorial videos to ways to better my photography.  I spend so much time to better myself as a photographer and will work with you to get what you are envisioning in your photos so that I am giving your images 110%! I don’t cut corners and I don’t rush with my editing because I truly care about the work I am putting out there and what you are getting.

We All Had To Start Somewhere.

We all started somewhere and nobody starts out of the gate doing perfect work. I was there, I wasn’t great in the beginning. I’ve learned over time and I still am learning. And there are even times now that some sessions just don’t make the top of my list of favorites. There are lots of reason for this. The lighting may have been bad that day (amazingly enough sometimes Photoshop can’t even fix some of these cases), the client may be uncomfortable and that will definitely show in their images (even though I try to talk with them prior to their session and when we meet up for their session I’ll make small talk with them.). So if you are just starting just do some studying, watch some videos, ask to intern with a photographer you admire in your area or contact them to ask questions. I will warn you their are some photographers who are secretive about their craft but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

There is so much more I could say so I may do a follow up or a part 2 on this subject.

Below are a few photos from You are not a Photographer for you viewing pleasure, =). Would you really hire these people??

floating-headWhy is there a head in the sky…just why?!?!

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There is too much going on in this image. And her eyes!

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This is when you should NOT be using Photoshop. Again, too much going on and why?!

Be sure to check out the entire website for some laughs! Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment your thoughts.

FAQ for Weddings

These are some frequently asked questions that clients will ask me. I put together some of the questions and answered them. If there is a question that I didn’t answer please feel free to ask me. I may just get enough to do a part 2 of this.

Do you offer engagement sessions? Yes. Depending on which wedding package you purchase will determine the cost.

Do you come to the rehearsal? I typically do not but if you would feel better with me coming to the rehearsal all you have to do is ask and as long as I don’t have any other prior engagements I will be there.

How do you describe your shooting style? Are you laid back or aggressive? My shooting style is getting the posed pictures, the small details, raw emotions, and candid photos. I am definitely laid back. I try to be just another person at the wedding but the one with camera capturing all the moments. I’m not uptight and I like to connect with the bride, groom, and bridal party so that we all feel comfortable with each other. I honestly like to connect with the bride the most because she has all the details in her mind and I come to her the most when I have questions. There are times that getting everyone to listen is difficult (there are even times when the bridal party has been drinking and it is even more difficult) and I try not to be rude about anything but in the nicest way possible I will slightly raise my voice and say what I am needing from everyone. An example would be if I need the whole bridal party in a certain spot for a group photo and they are talking with guests. I will say something like, “okay if you’re in the wedding I need you at x spot, we are a on schedule.” Most of the time I don’t have to say anything because either the bride, groom, a member of the bridal party, or family member will yell these things for me. Which I feel a lot better having them do it. =)

How many images can I expect from my wedding? Between 400-600 images.

Do you work from a shot list? I do not have a shot list. I have the traditional poses memorized along with the popular shots such as the ring shots and dress shots, etc.

What if my wedding is not local? Depending on how far it is I will be more than happy to be your photographer. If you live in town and your wedding is an hour away you will get charged for 30 miles because I cover anything 30 miles from my home and then I charge travel fees. Now if you are talking destination weddings that is something we would have to talk about.

What do you wear to weddings? I usually wear a long dress to weddings. Sometimes I will wear leggings or dress pants.

How long will it take to get my images? This really all depends on how many other weddings and sessions I have to edit. To be safe I say it can take up to 3 months. I like to take my time going through all of the images and looking at every one of them. I also like to take my time editing, color correcting, and retouching them because I am picky and I want you to have the best pictures possible. I work on albums in the order they were booked. If your wedding was in June and a family session was in May, the family will receive their images first. I do go back and forth editing so I don’t get burnt out on one session or wedding. I do always try to look through my sessions and pick out some of my favorites and edit them first so that I can put up a sneak peek.

Do you allow others to take photos while you are? This is a touchy subject to be honest. I can not force people to not take pictures while I am taking them but do remember that if you do not let your guests know in some way (such as in the invitation) that you hired a photographer to take pictures then I can not help if some of the pictures do not turn out because there is someone who stepped out in front of me to get a picture. If I am taking a group shot and then guests want to get a picture that is fine, but if we are on a schedule and we have to wait on 15 people to get a picture when what really matters is if I got the shot then that time adds up. I do suggest to brides to put that there is a photographer going to be at the wedding and reception and that they can just enjoy the day in a funny yet informative way on the invites or on a sign that guests can not miss when they arrive at the venue. (You can see some ideas on my Pinterest)

When do you eat? I may snack at lunch because typically the bridesmaids will have lunch brought in and I will snack then. I eat dinner when the bride, groom, and bridal party does. When they get in line I get in line right behind them. I have actually gotten looks that scream, “what do you think you’re doing”. Well what I’m doing is eating and getting that over with so that as soon as the bride and groom are done eating I can continue with the pictures because then is when they sometimes interact with their guests. I’m not going to stand there and photograph the bride and groom eating. Yes I will snap some pictures of them and the bridal party eating but I just get a few pictures and I’m not in their face.

How much does an additional hour cost? An additional hour costs $50.

Can I request certain images to be photographed? Absolutely! This is your day! On the questionnaire I send every couple there is a question asking for your must take shots and if there are any special shots you want taken. I also recommend you make a board on Pinterest if you have it of images you like so I can get a feel for your style.

Is an album included? It is not included in my pricing but you are more than welcome to purchase one through me.

Do you have any recommendations for hair or makeup artists? Yes, I have several hair and makeup artists that I work with that I can give you their information.

Can we keep every image you take including the out-takes? The simple answer is no. I will explain. I want the best of my work out there. So if there is a picture where the camera did something weird or someone was in the way, there is no reason for you to have that picture. I select the best ones to give you.

What is a copyright release and do you allow it?
A copyright release is the copyright from the photographer to the client. At the moment of transfer the copyright no longer belongs to the Photographer, he/she no longer owns the photograph. In fact, in these cases the photographer can technically never use the photographs without permission of client. And no, I absolutely do NOT EVER do a copyright release.

What is a copyright? A copyright means that I own the photo as soon as I take the picture. It gives me exclusive rights to decide how it is displayed and distributed. I am the only one that can make any alterations to the photo. So when you take my photo and put a filter on it that is illegal. I shot the image and edited it so it is my work and I want my name associated with the image exactly how I created it and not with some filter.

What is a print release and do you allow it?
It allows the client to print the images (though I cannot guarantee results if you use a consumer photo lab such as CVS, Walgreens, etc) for personal use (such as display in your home, scrapbooking, etc) and even share online in places such as Facebook. A print release does NOT allow you to edit the picture in anyway (this includes cropping), selling of the image, entering the image in a contest without the permission from the photographer. It is very important to me that my work does not get altered as it is my work, just like painting a picture or a song. Yes, I do allow a print release but this does not give you the right to alter the images in ANY way.

 

Right and Wrong Clients

Amazingly enough there is a right and wrong client for every photographer. And I have found that out many times but just didn’t know that is what you would call it. You see I don’t wake up everyday and think I’m a great photographer, usually my thoughts are can my son get himself to school on his own today? But really, there are so many days where I feel like I’m not good enough. Any photographer who doesn’t feel that way every now and then I would have to say is on a high horse. But if they don’t feel that way more power to them. I run a business, I make money from this business, I use the money for things I need. It’s just like any of your other 9-5 jobs but it’s a lot more work because once you’re done shooting you are so far from done it’s not even funny(I hate that saying, makes no sense). I know I’ve said this before but not only does leaving your home to shoot the client take time away from your family and social life but the sitting at your computer and looking over every picture, choosing the best ones, correcting the lighting, fixing things, and further editing really takes away from your family and social life. So it’s not a one and done thing. What I’m getting at is the right client for you will admire and like(hopefully love) your work, hire you, pay the price, purchase the prints and/or products and that’s it. The wrong client will make the excuses I can’t pay that right now, this and this and this isn’t working, I don’t have the time. Here’s the thing, most photographers have their pricing on their website or somewhere and it takes a few clicks to find that. If you can not commit to those prices please move on and don’t waste the time of the photographer and all the work there is beforehand(yes, there is even work before the shoot) just to have an excuse. I understand money is tight but if it is then don’t inquire about a session unless you can commit at that time or in the near future.And please don’t try to get a discount. Many photographers run specials but you can’t always bet on those specials so don’t wait. I feel like the right client will book a session and even take advantage of whatever special you are having. A photographer could eventually see the trend of clients swarming them only when specials occur and potentially stop doing specials all together because they feel like they are just being “used” when there is a discount price. Again, I understand the money issue but talk to your photographer about a payment plan, most will do those for you. Don’t just tell the photographer some excuse because then you don’t seem like the right kind of client and surprisingly photographers do communicate with each other. These trends could also make a photographer turn down a client, and yes it’s happened. I don’t intend any of this to sound rude but photographers aren’t in this business for the fun of it. I mean it is very fun but they also do it to make money.

2018 Senior Rep Program (uncensored)

I shoot many different types of sessions and seniors is definitely one of my favorite sessions to shoot. Now as if photography is not already competitive enough Senior Rep Programs seem to be very competitive. I had earlier in the month put out my Senior Rep program and had made some changes from the last years program. I’m here to be honest so I had quite a few applicants and all was ready to go then I had a few girls back out. There was one that decided to go with another photographer even. There are days when I feel like I’m not good enough as a photographer and question if I should keep running my photography business but this incident really threw me for a loop and honestly hurt my feelings and I was a little depressed about it. I know that what a Senior receives is a big thing in deciding which photographer they want to work with and I know that the incentives that are given in return for the number of referrals is also a big factor. I have done my research and I found that some photographers offer money or gift cards. I personally can not offer that. I am not financially stable enough and also not a big enough photography company where I can pay senior for referrals. I mean this is still a business and I have to make money from it.

I wanted to write this blog post a few weeks ago because I kept having thoughts pop into my head as I was designing my program so the rest of this blog may be some rambling but I’m also going to describe my program and add on some reasoning or other stuff with it. So I offer a session that is 2-3 hours, to be honest I don’t keep track of time and if I don’t have another session following the one I’m working on I usually go over especially if the subject I am shooting is rocking their session. But once I feel like I have what I want and a large number of images I usually call it good. For this session I am charging $75 which is half off the regular price. I have started a new thing this year that with sessions you must buy prints through me but for senior reps I am giving the senior 5 digital images for them to upload to their computer and put on a CD or USB drive. So there is another thing I am saving you money on is not having you pay more for prints. Of course their are special photo items that can still be purchased through me. There are some photographers that only allow a certain number of outfits but I allow unlimited outfits because let’s face it us women have a hard time deciding, lol. Another big plus in my eyes is that if your immediate family needs family pictures done for example they will get 20% off the session. That is my way of thanking the guardian(s) for allowing their senior to be a part of my photography business and help me in getting my business out there and supporting me. Something completely new that I am doing is I am going to find someone to video portions of the shoot so they will be featured in a “behind the scenes” type video. Depending on the number of referrals each senior gets they will be able to get their hair and makeup done discounted or free. I will also have that part videoed too. The Senior with the most referrals will get a 2-3 hour Best Friends Pamper/Shoot day. I will have someone come and do their nails, hair, and makeup completely free. I will be photographing this just as they would as I do with weddings. I’ll also have this part videoed. In all honesty as I said I’ve never done the video thing so hopefully it will work out. The image I have in my head for it is awesome! For the Best Friends shoot they will have unlimited outfits and we will go to several different locations. I usually have an idea of the locations and they are always close to home.

If possible I would also like to have everyone agree on a date and do a trip to one of the waterfalls in Indiana and do some individual and group shots. But this is just an idea. And I may think of more fun ideas and extra incentives along the way.

I have a secret FB group for those that have been chosen to keep everyone updated and on track. I think this helps versus having to msg or email each senior rep and guardian. The reps can always throw ideas out there and post examples of images that they think would be fun.

All I really ask is that the cost is paid, of course and that each Senior Rep uses only me and represents/advertises for me. I mean if they are promoting another photographer along w/ me that doesn’t really help me when I’m giving them a discounted session. I see it as a give and take experience.

I definitely didn’t cover everything but I think that this all is a pretty good deal, affordable, and fun. It may not be the top of the line Senior Rep Program but I try my best and hope that those who are or will be Senior Reps for me enjoy their shoots w/ me and come back as repeat customers.

So in ending this blog thank you to those who have been accepted and will be working w/ me. And anyone who is interested in becoming a Senior Rep for Kirsten Ray Photography will fill out an application. Also, if you know anyone that is a junior and would be a great fit for this please send them my way. If they become a Senior Rep for me I will give you 20% off a session or print order as my way of saying thank you!

Kirsten Ray

Your prices are what?!?!

Just the other day I had someone message me about how much a family session was. I told her my price and her response was, “Wow, that’s expensive”. I really did not know what to say, I was rather offended. This inquiry was not the first time I had heard the response of prices being, “too expensive”. I used to think that photography prices were outrageous too until I saw the break down for myself on paper and REALLY understood once I second shot several weddings. And I was just the second shooter! Now that I have started my photography business it is all crystal clear and I want others to understand the reasoning also. I just simply want to show you a few different break downs and then you can develop your own opinion about the pricing, not just mine but other photographers that you may think charge “too much”. First I want to talk about some other things other than just the pricing for myself that should be taken into consideration. Most sessions are typically done on weekends, that is the only time I see my husband because of our work schedules (I have another job). So right there I am missing out on time spent with family and friends. I do not get paid for holidays or overtime. I don’t get paid vacation days. Being a self-employed photographer does not provide insurance. It’s just me; I take care of every aspect alone, the advertising, setting up bookings, following up, editing, etc. Does it sound like I am complaining? It may sound that way but in NO WAY am I! I love it, I love making people happy and giving them memories they can cherish forever. I give it 110% to do my best! My prices are A LOT lower than these photographers that I am going to post links to on why photography costs so much but it’s still the same concept. I felt it was best to direct you to some much more experienced photographers because I cannot, because of experience and also I don’t want to undermine any other photographers, or miss anything by explaining it myself.

Here are a few great links:
http://www.mhariscott.com/it-costs-what-the-pricing-breakdown/

http://www.professionalchildphotographer.com/information/what-is-custom-photography/why-does-custom-photography-cost-more/

http://www.stephanielynnphotos.com/blog/?page_id=8

And the most simple explanation in my opinion:

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Photography in a Small Town

One of the bad things about a small community and the photography business is that there are so many photographers. Some photographers feel like they have to compete with each other because of living in a small town. Also, the town I’m living in, I’m not from so there are some photographers that are related to half of the town and therefore they’ve got a good client base. I am not from here so I don’t have family that I know will be using me for photos. I’m in a few photography groups on Facebook and a lot of photographers talk about how they have monthly meetings with areas photographers to chat, bounce ideas off each other, and collaborate. I would love to be able to do that with local photographers but I know it wouldn’t work. I’m not trying to compete with any of them, while it is a business yes there is a form of it already there but I have not once tried to “one up” another photographer. I see it as photographers are like chain stores. They both sell the same thing but the prices may be different, advertising is different, sales are different, and may offer a little more or a little less than the other. I guess all of this will never really change, it’s just unfortunate that somethings have to be the way they are.