Session Report – “Montgomery” Family

I had a recent session with a family who will be referred to as the Montgomery family. (For now, for things I publish on this website, I am using pseudonyms for the privacy of my clients, although in the future I might just use real names). Their boy “Isaiah” is nearly 1 year old and they valued photography enough to pay for quality photos ๐Ÿ˜€ Some samples from their session, and various blog-quality ramblings afterwards.

Close up of "Isaiah"

The Montgomery Family

"Isaiah" with his dad

Close-up of "Isaiah"

"Isaiah" with his mom, Sherwin Lee Photography

I’m very grateful to this family because they were the first to book me when I went official back in May. And I suppose I will let you in on some top-secret information in that they were my first clients paying in the form of a check, so you Montgomery’s are special people! (Family Z was the first session I ever officially did but the payment was in a different form) I didn’t feel quite as jittery with this session as I did when I did Family Z’s session about a month ago, perhaps because the initial jitters all got out around then as well. I think also because having been in Family Z’s house before, they have at least had professional studio photos done several times before, so I was a bit nervous of looking like a complete amateur.

Although I thought there would be less volume of pictures from this session (3 subjects) compared to Family Z (6 subjects), the totals were about the same. Thinking on it further, it’s probably because one of the Montgomery’s was stoic 1 year old who was not receptive to smiling.

On that topic, toddlers present a unique photographic challenge. When they’re babies, they can’t really do much except just be. You hold them, you “pose” them as much as you can. When they’re older children, maybe 3 and up, they’re somewhat old enough to obey instructions…sometimes. And because their comprehensive abilities are greater, it’s usually easier to get them to smile, whether by acting silly, funny noises, inside jokes, or whatnot. But a toddler has usually discovered independent movement and wants to do what he/she wants to do. All that said though, Isaiah did a great job and we got about 1.5 hours of photography out of him before we all decided to conclude. And we even got a few smiles out of him towards the latter half.

More About Me

It occurred to me that maybe I should write some more to tell you about me.

Biographical info
My name is Sherwin Lee. I was born in Florida in 1983, as an FSU fan. I grew up on the Atlantic coast of Florida, casually ignoring shuttle and rocket launches (after a while they get old) and yearning to see snow, mountains, and clear mountain streams. I lived there until I moved to Atlanta to attend college. I met my wife during my college years, got married in 2006, replicated my mother’s X chromosome in 2009 (i.e. had a baby girl, blogonym Pearl), and then replicated my very own Y chromosome in 2012 (i.e. had a baby boy, blogonym Optimus). I do have a non-photography day job, which I am grateful for, but enjoy photography much more than my day job. And that’s why you’re here looking at this website.

Photography history
My photography history? I can’t claim that I’ve been taking pictures for 40 years. Part of that would be because I haven’t existed for 40 years yet. I started getting into snapshot photography around Y2K (thank goodness we all survived!), when I convinced my parents to get a Canon Powershot S20. I used the megapixels out of that thing, documenting all sorts of things. I remember thinking it was so cool that I could see the photos right away and that we didn’t need to pay for film processing.

Fast forward to 2009 when my sister-in-law took some nice DSLR photos of Pearl at 2 months old. My dad saw the pictures and instantly said that we needed to get a camera of similar quality, and if we couldn’t afford it, he’d subsidize.

I’m a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get, no-nonsense kind of person. Things are the way they are. I place high value on honesty. When someone asks me how I’m doing, I don’t automatically say “Fine thanks and you?” ย I like to give a truthful answer. Maybe I’m not doing fine. Maybe I am doing fine and I don’t really care about how you’re doing ๐Ÿ˜‰ While this may make me seem like a cold individual, when I say something like “Good to see you,” it means I really do mean it. Now doesn’t that make you happy or bring me closer to being a bubbly happy human being? ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not one to use flowery language unless I really mean it. I’m also one to shy away from using trite or overused concepts. Probably 9 out of 10 photographer’s websites out there use the term “passion”, “passionate”, or “vision” at least 4.7 times on their About page, and perhaps about the same number of those photographer’s sites are pretty humorless. I also notice that photographers like to call their price page “Investment.” That is, if they even list their prices (acceptable for certain categories of photographer not to list, but portrait photographers ought to)

Nah. Not me. I call it Prices, and they’re listed quite plainly. If I had a page called “Investments” then I’d be telling you about stocks, mutual funds, and other bad investment advice such as telling you to invest in human-managed mutual funds (that one’s free, further bad tips will cost you $5)

Me, I’m a real person, I like to laugh, and I like to make people laugh. As for photography, I get enjoyment from it, simple as that. I enjoy capturing memories for myself and others. I like for pictures to tell stories, but not all pictures have to tell stories. Sometimes a picture is just a picture, you know?

So there you have it. That’s me, summarized on a short webpage. Book me for a session and let’s see what memories and moments in time we can capture. (that’s about as cheesy talk as you will get from me)

I’m Really Not That Outrageous (price-wise, anyways)

…outrageous in other ways, perhaps. But photography prices? If anything, I’m outrageously inexpensive for paid photography and an affront to the art. But we all start off on the ground floor and make our way up.

You might look at some of these prices and be tempted to think โ€œWow thatโ€™s insane! I wish I made $70 an hour!โ€ While it may appear that Iโ€™m making off with easy cash, there are several things to consider.

I don’t get to keep all that money. I pay taxes on my earnings.

Recurring business expenses
You don’t just set up a business and only pay fees one time. There are recurring yearly costs of doing business. Let’s be honest, people go into business to make money; therefore, I need to recoup and exceed the costs of doing business in order for this venture to be worth it.

My family likes me
Photography is a side business for me that usually takes place on evenings weekends; this requires me to spend time away from family during times that are usually family time. Because of this, I factor travel time when calculating my effective hourly rate.
I have priced my photography at a rate that my wife and I deem acceptable to exchange family time for a monetary amount. We basically asked ourselves โ€œHow much does Sherwin need to be paid in order for us to be okay with him not being around for a few hours?โ€ Now, in some households, the wife would gladly pay you, the client, to take the husband/father away for a few hours; but fortunately for me, my wife and kids like to have me around ๐Ÿ™‚

Editing process
The process is not over for me as soon as I leave. After arriving at home, the photo editing process begins. Depending on the type of session, there will be hundreds or possible even thousands of photos to sort through, and perhaps just as many to edit. After all, you’d rather receive images rather than just 0’s and 1’s, presumably.

Business reinvestment
Most (All of it, so far) of the money I make from photography does not go into the tropical getaway fund (I prefer mountains to beaches anyways). After accounting for taxes, my earnings are usually spent acquiring more photography equipment to provide the best possible photos and services to future clients (and hopefully you as a repeat client!). All objects in this world are prone to failure at some point, and photography equipment is no exception, therefore some of the money goes into buying backup equipment. After all, you wouldn’t like it much if my memory card went bad 5 minutes into the session and I didn’t have any spares around.

Seriously, if you think I’m expensive, then you really need to look at other pro photographers’ prices. Go to Google and look up “professional photographers in (city or county where you live). Allow me to make an honest statement here: if you think that $70 (or whatever I’m charging these days) for a photo session is too expensive, then you’re probably fine just having someone take photos of you on your smart phone. And that’s perfectly fine. We all value different things.