We said “Sleep in Peace” today to our Beloved Heidi. We’ll See you “over Rainbow Bridge”

Nothing is tougher to do that to have to make the decision about your beloved pets when “that time has come” where the pain and suffering is only going to get worse and you have to do what is best for them and not us.

Today was that day I knew was soon coming. You see, Heidi was 15 years old and had been with me since she was 6 weeks old. She was with me through some tough days and some great ones as well. Always one to jump at the chance with the words “do you want to go”, she loved her rides in the car. Long trips or short ones, it never seemed to matter much to her. She was such an easy hound to travel with. Just put her in the seat and she would lie down and ride until the time came to stop.

So many memories are with me today. She loved Debra. And when Debra came into my life 10 years ago, Heidi became “her dog”. Heidi loved Debra from the moment she first met her and was by her side constantly. Shower time? Heidi would be at the door waiting on her. Time for “couch time” and Heidi could care less where I was, it was always with Debra.

When she was just a pup, she was a bit “standoffish” and wasn’t one of these “cuddly pups”, but preferred her own bed and her own place to relax. But when she wanted your attention, she was fast to let you know it too. And the kisses were never ending. I would come home, she was in my lap and the affection and love kept coming. They know when you need that welcome home at the end of the day.

A few years back, I had some surgery. Heidi knew something wasn’t quite right and had to let me know as she was right there by my side. And she had to jump up, on the incision, to let me know she was concerned. Even Debra had a few days of recuperation and Heidi was always by her side too. They know. Don’t ask me how, but they do and their concern is just as real as it gets.

I remember the day she was in the very back of the property, near the fence, A storm came up fast as they tend to do in Florida, and the downpour started. You have never seen a dachshund’s ears flap so hard or fast as her short little legs bee-lined back to the safety of shelter. She hated the rain. One drop and it was inside for her.

And she was short-legged. Few dachshunds I have seen are as short as Heidi was. Her poor belly would literally drag the ground after she had her litter of pups. And she was a great mommy too. Her love for us translated to her little ones and she cared for them until it was time for weaning.

Today, the tears are real. No matter how much you know in your heart that you did the right thing, it still is a loss you have to grieve through. The silence of the house is tough. You already miss the patter of her toes on the tile floor. You look over at her empty bed and just can’t seem to find it within yourself to put it away just yet. Her toys and collar lay there and you know it’s a memory you have that you’re just not ready to let go. You hope that you are in a dream that will end soon. The little things you already know are going to hurt every time you do it, like going to check the mailbox and Heidi was right there with you.

You know that the pink bathrobe of Debra’s will never find Heidi curled up in it again. Nor will she climb up on the back of the sofa that was the same color as she was and not come when you call as you look for her for over an hour. She had to be laughing at us that day.

If you are losing your beloved family member with 4 legs instead of 2, don’t be afraid to cry. My tears have been endless today.  These are tears of memories and of the things I will miss dearly. It’s sadness and still, peace for Heidi. I wasn’t going to let her suffer needlessly until her actual passing came. She wasn’t going to get better this time. She has loved and lived her days as the spoiled and loving Heidi she was.

And with that, I must keep in mind these words that someday, she will once again be with me. Just as happy and ready to go as she always was……

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Today, the pawprints of my beloved Heidi are on my heart. Rest in peace my dear hound. I’ll truly miss you.

Wedding Planning- Why that $400 Wedding Photographer Could Be Costly

Your Wedding Day Should be Captured Professionally
Your Wedding Day Should be Captured Professionally

I get requests from couples almost daily wanting to know “how much do you charge” to photograph their wedding day. It’s the #1 question and I do understand why they are asking. In most cases, they are basically “price shopping” and want the best “deal” they can get. Invariably, when I give them a range of prices, they tell me “THAT’S too much. I can get someone to do it for $400!”.

Sure, it seems to “make sense” to save money, but did you know that it could be the most costly mistake you make? And the sad part is, you won’t know it until either a few weeks after your wedding or perhaps even a couple of years later! Continue reading “Wedding Planning- Why that $400 Wedding Photographer Could Be Costly”

A Brides Biggest Nightmare- “Cheap” Wedding Photography

As I speak with couples who are planning their wedding, I find that more and more are no longer interested in print products, albums, or any other form of viewing their photographs other than “digital files”. This could perhaps be the biggest mistake they make.

Basically, they want to take their files, with print rights, and go down to their local 1-hour Photo store and print their own photos, or order a photo book from an online book maker, or simply keep them for later viewing on their computers.

So let’s examine each method carefully and see if these are viable options or perhaps the biggest mistake you can avoid.

First, digital files are great. They take up whatever space that a DVD, CD or USB thumb drive offers and can be stored in a small area of your home. However, there are drawbacks you should consider before you settle for just digital files or using your 1-hour photo printers to preserve your wedding day memories.

Today, you can’t find an Apple I-Mac or a Toshiba laptop that offers an optical drive as standard equipment. Getting your photos on DVD is going to soon be obsolete since few computer makers are offering drives capable of burning or viewing DVD’s or CD’s. Then you have the USB drives. Few (or none) of your Apple tablets have USB ports and a few of the lower end I-Macs don’t have them either. Everything has become “Cloud based” for storage. Microsoft, Adobe, and a few other software companies are almost totally cloud based for access to their products. And, if technology continues to progress, even your USB drive or the “cloud” will be obsolete as well.

Now, you COULD store them on your hard drive, but even that isn’t totally preserving your wedding photos. Drives break and crash. Photos and other files get lost or corrupt and many a person has discovered all too late what happens when you have to buy a new computer to replace that broken one or to upgrade to the latest and faster machine.

Now, let’s say you take your digital files down to your local Walmart and print your own photos. Let’s look at what they offer for their $2 8×10 or their $.29 4×6. There are 2 ways to “print” your photos. The one you are probably most familiar with is what comes out of your inkjet printer. They use “photo” paper- which really isn’t true photo paper, but a treated paper that drys the ink really fast- and you get an image that may or may not look ok. Some, if not most, of your 1-hour labs use a similar method to produce your prints. It’s cheap, fast, and subject to the same issues all ink based photos offer. They have a VERY short “shelf life” and will only last about 1-5 years before they start to face, discolor, or become pretty much useless. Even the BEST inks and paper combinations will only last you 6-7 years at the very best. Add to it, any moisture or water completely renders the photograph useless.

So what do Professional level labs that your photographer is selling for $50 or more offer? A whole lot more than you realize.

Pro level labs only deal with professional photographers. Their methods of producing prints does NOT involve inks or pigments, but instead use real light sensitive photographic paper that is “developed” through a chemical process. They are usually coated to protect from UV light deterioration, and have a shelf life of 100 years or more. The paper is much heavier, is not subject to moisture damage, ink deterioration, and unless you set fire to them, are always there. Pretty much, these prints are made the way prints were done during the “old days” of film and paper. I know I have prints I made 30 years ago with film and paper and there is no loss of quality or fading or any other “color changes” from the first day they were made. These are truly archival photographs and will last you until your children are ready to get married and have your grand children. Even though “digital files” are great, none of the “alternative” methods of photographic preservation is better than the “old school” method of photographic prints using Professional labs.

Let me also add that Walmart doesn’t have a clue what my prints are supposed to look like, NOR do they really care. They almost always color correct my images, can produce inferior results, and you will come back to me with complaints that my photos have something wrong with them. The fact is, my photos are perfectly fine and with my Professional Labs, I can guarantee the exact photograph I see on my screen when I edit them- colors, effects, resolution, and any other factor that influences image quality- will be produced exactly when you purchase from me.

The same holds true with Professionally produced album products. Basically there are 2 ways to produce albums or photobooks. You can get “press printed” products really “cheap” and you get really CHEAP books. Again, these are ink based books and can and do fade and discolor over time. Your true Professional photographer will use their Professional level book binders and album binders that use photographic paper and NOT “press printed” pages for your photographs and will last you forever. The bindings and covers are not going to fall apart in 10 years either.

Over the years, I have seen so many so called “experts” give couples the advise that “professional photographers are ripping you off” by charging as much as we have to charge in order to “make a living”. Perhaps you can’t understand that $50 8×10 print price when you can get one at Walmart for $2 or less. The fact is, these “experts” are being paid a salary to tell you how to do things rather than actually DOING the thing and making a living at it that they are telling you to do! Would you listen to an “expert” tell you how to drive a Mercedes Benz if they were driving a 1986 Ford Escort?

So let’s examine the “real” income of that so called “cheapo” photographer and WHY they aren’t going to be photographing weddings for very long.

Let’s say you find a “photographer” who offers to do your wedding for $400, provides you with digital images, and print rights and sends you on your merry way! The rest is totally up to you as to prints, albums, etc. First of all, this “photographer” is NOT going to be around in 2-3 years simply because they are going to soon discover that they are making around $3 per hour for their time. Let me explain.

At any wedding I photograph, I can pretty well figure that I take between 100-150 photos per hour. A 5 hour wedding means I have 500-700 photos from which I must edit and compile into your image files. Yes, I reject a LOT of them-upwards of 1/3 of them- which will leave me with a solid 350-400 images from which to work. Rejected photos could be due to any number of issues like exposure off, people blink, distractions in the background or something else that just isn’t making it a good photograph. But because I have multiple images, I have a LOT to make a great visual story of your wedding day.

From there, let’s say I spend 15-20 minutes doing editing per photograph. This includes correcting exposure to perfection, color correction for proper skin tones, adding enhancements to make the colors rich and full and sharpening the images for great prints. Perhaps I have to take the photos into Photoshop to remove a distraction or edit a blemish from a brides skin. All of that is done to every photograph. 400 photos times 15 minutes average. That is a total time of 100 hours of editing time. Now, since I shoot in what is knows as “camera RAW”, each of those files must be first converted to jpeg format, have the proper color space embedded for the Pro labs to reproduce the images correctly without color correction, and then store those files on disk. I also have to upload those to my website which takes roughly 5-8 hours depending on the number of images. So assuming I don’t have to “babysit” the upload process, that adds another 2-3 hours of time to the workflow. So just in time alone to photograph your wedding, do the editing, and uploading to the website, that is roughly 105-110 hours of work I have actually done to your wedding images. Now take those hours and divide that into the $400 you paid that “cheap” photographer- he is making LESS than $4 per hour. Let me ask you- would YOU work at your job for less than $4 per hour? So why should I have to? And how long before your “cheapo” photographer figures out that he/she is making literally nothing for their photography?

Now, from that $400, I have to pay for my website hosting, the cost of a DVD, insurance, taxes, cameras, SD cards, software, computers, additional hard drives for archiving and back up of your images, online backup of your images, gas for the car, the car insurance, car payment, other lighting equipment I use to photograph your wedding, the salary of an assistant the day of your wedding, and any repair costs or replacement costs associated with having a viable, Professional photography business. IF I offer you prints for $2 apiece, like your “Walmarts” do, and that is my cost of those prints, I have actually spent more to get you prints than I would make selling them at their price. Unless I price my prints at a rate that keeps my doors open and my business viable, pretty soon, I will be like the REST of the “cheapo” photographers you are thinking about hiring- OUT OF BUSINESS FAST. Or sooner.

As Professional photographers, we are NOT out to “rip you off”, but to provide you something you can’t get from the “cheapo” photographers. We offer an experience that is fantastic from start to finish with products that we know will exceed your expectations and provide you the lifetime of memories we promise to provide. You have your family to feed, provide a home for, and to offer the nice things in life you want to have. Shouldn’t I have the same desires and ability to provide MY family the same things? Sure, many of us would LOVE to provide you great wedding photographs and would do it “free” simply because we love what we are able to create for other people. But reality sets in and soon enough, we MUST charge enough to pay the overhead and expenses of keeping our business viable and to provide for OUR family and income needs. I don’t think there are very many of you who would get up in the morning and head off to your job and tell your employer you are now working for “free” since you love doing what you do.

So what is the “bottom line” here? First, don’t mistakenly believe that you having your digital files is the all encompassing solution for your wedding photography. Technology changes and the day will come where you aren’t going to have photographs you can view. Don’t think because you have “print rights” and will get prints from Walmart is the solution either. Chances are, you won’t have much to see in 5-10 years. Nor will that $59 photobook be around for your grand kids to see before their wedding day.

But most of all, please don’t think that we are trying to “rip you off” by asking for $2500-3000 to photograph your wedding and provide you with images you will love and with products that will last you forever. We are no different than you are and want to provide for our families with a decent income that can provide the same things in life you desire. But more important, we really WANT you to come back to us over the years as your family grows, your kids graduate, and your grand kids start coming. And if we aren’t “there” because we just couldn’t make it doing “cheapo” photography, we won’t be around should you need access to your images in 5-10 years due to an unfortunate accident. But perhaps the “thing” we want to do more than anything is to see you really enjoy and cherish the photographs we have made for you and to see them displayed proudly for you and your family to value as keepsakes forever.

Hire a professional and budget accordingly. I have never had a couple tell me how much they regretted doing so, but I sure have had a ton of people tell me how bad their photographs are that went the “cheapo photography” route!

 

Portable A/C Power- A DIY Vagabond II Build Around $100

Last week I promised I would not only tell you about a new DIY project to compliment my Fovitec StudioPro 400W/S monolight kit, and their StudioPro Softboxes, but how you could possibly keep the costs around $100. My homemade “Vagabond II” unit turned out quite nice and works 100% as I imagined. So if portable A/C power is something you have considered, but found the costs prohibitive, perhaps this can get you going at less that half the costs of buying from a named brand retailer.

As a wedding and portrait photographer, many times I have found myself in situations where I really wish I had the capability of studio strobes on location when there was no source of 110v power. Speedlights were just not enough and that smaller softbox just wasn’t really soft and a large enough light source to fully illuminate your subjects(s). You just needed that really large light source and a really powerful light to get the job done. Continue reading “Portable A/C Power- A DIY Vagabond II Build Around $100”