Happy Friday JSP readers! Thanks for tuning in to yet another post in my “Ask Me Anything Friday” series. Today’s question is something I don’t get often but have gotten a few times in the past so I thought it was worth answering. Many people are familiar with photoshop or are graphic designers. Sometimes, they ask, “Can I edit the photos you deliver on your final disc?”

I definitely understand that as a creative, we have the desire to make things beautiful in our eyes they way we see it, however, when you hire me as your photographer, you’re hiring me for my photographic interpretation of your wedding day, which includes how I choose to edit my art. So while I do not allow my images to be edited, I am certainly open to clients emailing me their edits to look over to see if I’m ok with having my name attached to the image. Again, going back to the post about culling images,  I don’t want people to look at work that has been edited by someone else and misconstrue my talents, style, and photographic voice. I am an artist, and as such, I would hope that other artists would understand that just like them, I don’t want someone changing my vision for the art that I’ve created. This could not only misconstrue to others what my work really looks like, but it could also reflect poorly on my company.

Until next Friday, I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

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blue ridge, blue ridge mountains, jen shannon photography, rail yard, train yard, downtown blue ridgeOk everyone. Here’s the big blog post about what I did for my husband and I’s anniversary. I’ll try to keep it as short as possible but so much detail went into it, that I’m not sure how long this will end up, so here goes…

I found that for year 7, the gift theme is copper. We don’t always do the themes but this year, I guess I was feeling a bit creative. So I decided to plan a big scavenger hunt and trip to the mountains. He had no idea about the scavenger hunt, so it was really awesome. So, I collected 7 pennies.

  1. 1984: The year I was born
  2. 1985: The year he was born
  3. 2005: The year we got engaged
  4. 2006: The year we got married
  5. 2011: The year we found out we were expecting Carly
  6. 2012: The year Carly was born
  7. 2013: The year our marriage turned 7 years old

So, 7 pennies, each from an important year, were collected. After that, I went to Target and found one of their spiral notebook scrapbook things. It’s cool. It comes with a double sided pen where one is a felt tip marker/pen and the other is a glue stick. I filled out the whole thing with various things from our past, all of which I will go into below. I also bought a polaroid 300 camera so he could take pictures along the way. Basically, the whole point was for him to help us create a 7 year anniversary scrapbook. So, here goes.

  1. He had taken a half day at work last Thursday and had Friday-Sunday off. He thought we would be preparing to go out of town to the mountains on Friday so he took a half day Thursday to prepare. Instead, he came home from work to find Carly and I gone and a package at the door. When he opened the package, there was the scrapbook and what I call a “man purse” that included all of the tools he needed to complete the hunt to find me. It included double sided tape, the polaroid, photo corners, etc. When he opened the notebook, it was basically a surprise that gave him a clue which would lead him to some pennies and eventually lead him to my location with the 7th penny. So, the first clue, written in the scrapbook led him to my bed side. All of the clues were written in poem form. At my bed side, he found the first two pennies (the years of our births) taped to a note about the pennies. With it, he’d find clue #2 and some instagram pictures that went along with the clues. For example, the first one talked about the beach and how we live near it but never go, so when he found clue #2, he found a couple of instagram pictures from a beach trip we took. Each clue and instagram photos were put in an envelope I made out of scrapbook paper that had copper foil in the design. With clue #2, he also got a box of CheezIts, the pepper jack flavor because they are his favorite and I knew he’d be hungry having not yet eaten lunch.
  2. Clue #2 lead to my closet where he found clue #3 in my Northface snow boots from when we lived up north. He found the 2005 penny.
  3. Clue #3 lead to a scrapbook that I made for our 6 month dating anniversary YEEEEAAARRRRSSSS ago. In the spiral scrapbook, which was his guide/manual to the scavenger hunt, I put some interactive things in there like matching some of our firsts to the date they happened. The 6 month dating anniversary scrapbook had all of those in there so once he found it, he was able to use it to match the dates (which he didn’t do correctly but that’s ok! lol!) It is there he also found the 2006 penny.
  4. Clue #4 was awesome. It basically told him he had to call a certain phone number to get clue #5. Clue #5 was my best friend’s phone number in which I gave her a script so when he called, she had to pick up, read the script, and then hang up on him. It was hilarious! And awesome!
  5. Clue #5 had the 2011 penny and some cash in it which told him to go to Publix to get me some roses. Before he left, he had to pack up some CheezIts and grab some cokes I had chilled in the fridge to bring to the dock. That morning, before I took Carly to my dad’s house, I stopped by Colby’s car at work and put clue #6 in the seat pocket behind the driver seat and put a few things in his trunk. I’ll get to that in the next one.
  6. So after he went to Publix and got me flowers, he had to check the spiral scrapbook again to find clue #6, which was behind the seat of his car in the pocket. This directed him to go to the park where I was but to not go to the dock just yet where I was waiting. When he got to the park, he had to go to the trunk where he’d find a bag with scissors, water, and a vase to trim the flowers and put them in a vase to bring to me. He also found our beach blanket to sit on because I knew the dock would be hot. He found the 2012 penny along with clue #6.
  7. Finally, he found me at the dock where I read him a sweet letter I had written to him and gave him the 7th penny, the 2013 penny. We hugged for a long time and then went through the scrapbook together. He told me all about his hunt, showing me the polaroids he took during it, etc. It was awesome. Because a storm came, we had to leave, but we went back home and looked through our 6 month dating anniversary scrapbook. It was so fun to see us way back then. I had also put a mason jar in the bag in the trunk that had a bunch of post it papers that I’ve been keeping over the past year of funny stories or things that I thought were cute about Colby that we got to go through on the dock.

Anyway, so that was the scavenger hunt. Then Friday we left for the Blue Ridge mountains where we spent Friday-Sunday in a beautiful log cabin, exploring the mountains, playing endless air hockey (which I am the undefeated champion of all time of, by the way) and enjoying reminiscing of our rich history together. Of course, the trip was not long enough, but it was nice to get away, even for a few days. We took the scrapbook to Blue Ridge with us to finish it together. It was awesome.

Colby, I love you so much. I love “us.” We have such a long, rich history together and I’m so glad that God’s plan was for us to live life together. You’re my companion, my best friend, my champion (except at air hockey), my everything. I can’t imagine life without you and I know you feel the same way.  Here’s to 70 more years of love, companionship, friendship, and sweetness. I love you!

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I know, I know. I’ve been really terrible at keeping up with my blog. Hopefully, by now, you’ve had a chance to like my facebook page so you can at least keep up with my more recent adventures that I haven’t really had a chance to blog about recently. This past spring has been rather slow with weddings but boy, my fall is busy like crazy. What’s even crazier is just how fast I’m booking for 2014. I usually get most of my bookings towards the end of the year for the following year but apparently 2014 brides are really on top of their photographer planning game! I’m so excited to be working with some really amazing people next year and I’m really looking forward to the busy fall time!

In the mean time, I’ve been a terrible blogger, but an excellent housewife, seamstress, mama, chef, etc. The list goes on. My husband, Colby, and I just celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. Normally I have something amazing to write that touches his heart but this year, I was too busy actually planning his gift to write a sweet blog post. I’ll write more on his adventure soon, but part of our celebration took us to the Blue Ridge mountains. It was definitely not long enough but amazing to be out in the middle of nowhere for some quiet time. More on that soon too. For now, I leave you with two amazingly beautiful pictures from our time there. You could see every star in the sky at night. This panoramic was taken from the view of our master suite in the cabin. Happy Monday.

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jen shannon photographer, jacksonville wedding photographer, jacksonville wedding photographers, jacksonville wedding photographyThis is probably a question most wedding vendors receive. “Do you ever discount your rates?” Sometimes, people just can’t believe that we charge what we charge for photography. I’ve heard acquaintances who don’t know I’m a photographer or what I charge say things to me like, “They wanted $x,xxx! That’s just insane!” or “Can you believe they wanted more than $100 for an engagement session?”

Of course, on the inside, I die a little… just a little. haha! J/k! Honestly though, this is something that a lot of people struggle to understand. I believe people have come to expect photographers to charge so little because so many people go out and buy a camera then call themselves a pro. They charge very little for their services because they want to make a quick buck and wind up bringing true professionals, who do this to feed their families, a bad reputation. So, without going into a penny by penny break down, here is some great information in understand the costs of being a professional wedding photographer.

First and foremost is time. While you think you may be paying someone hundreds of dollars an hour for an extra hour on your wedding day, you have to remember that a photographers job isn’t just on your wedding day. It’s not just after your wedding day either. It starts from the very first email you receive. People should be fairly compensated for the work that they do. This includes emails, blogging, research, development, marketing, social networking, social media marketing, shooting, editing, burning discs, uploading galleries, fielding vendor requests, working with coordinators, etc.

Most professional photographers have the below expenses in addition to their time.

  • Gear! We need to be able to replace old gear, repair gear, or buy new gear to keep up with today’s technology to meet the expectations of our clients. Gear is certainly not cheap. Did you know that the standard professional camera body that photographers use typically costs around $2,400? Sometimes more? That doesn’t even include a lens! Did you know lenses cost $2,000 per lens? Yes, there are cheaper lenses, but some of the lenses required for low light situations cost $2,000+ dollars each.
  • Insurance: We are required, at least in Florida, to carry liability insurance of $1M/$3M. We also carry insurance to insure our gear should it get damaged or stolen on the job. Insurance typically covers issues with gear related to an accident while on the job, not just that gear gets old and decides to croak.
  • Website: The costs of a website vary, but nonetheless, the costs are still there.
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Materials: This includes packaging for welcome packets, the items that go into welcome packets, packaging for discs, online gallery fees, discs, printing, stickers, mailing labels, shipping boxes, pens, stationery, etc.
  • Taxes
  • Travel
  • Continued education: This one is incredibly important. Some people don’t think the cost of continued education is worth it but consider how fast technology changes and how quickly a clients’ expectations change with it. If you don’t know your gear, don’t know your lighting, don’t have a mature artistic eye, you’re less likely to exceed your goals for your business.
  • Software: Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, Photomechanic, these programs are not cheap!
  • Electronics: Aside from gear, most of us need computers, printers, a mouse, a keyboard, card readers, external hard drives for backing up photos, a phone, a cell phone plan with data, sometimes an iPad or something similar to show slideshows at client meetings, etc.

As you can see, these things are very expensive and just to ensure all of these things are covered, we have to charge what we charge. Not only are you paying for these things, but as with any job, you’re paying for your photographers qualifications; that includes their experience, their education, who they’ve worked with, the quality of their work, the experience overall with the photographers company, etc.

I hope this helps to give you some better insight as to why true professional photographers charge so much for their work. With that said, no, I do not discount my work. Regardless of what day of the week it is happening, what season of the year, etc. The same amount of work goes into each wedding regardless of those circumstances. While I don’t offer discounts, I do offer flexible payment plans to help you afford the photography you want for your wedding. The payment plans are all done through me. There’s no credit card, there’s no fee, no application, etc; just me understanding that sometimes people don’t have the money right away and need some help to pay everyone at the same time. Happy Friday!

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