Ask a Photographer: Your questions, answered.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you already know that my husband and I got pictures taken a few weekends ago. We met up with Kalene, of Blue Muse Photography, and her husband Jason. We walked all over Old Town in Wichita, Kansas and had so much fun! At the end, Kalene was like, “I thought maybe we could climb to the top of this parking garage for some city-scape shots. Do you want to do that?” And I was all, “No, not really!” Truly, I was kind of whiny about it. But I trust her judgement and I know what she’s capable of so we went for it. I dragged my fat ass up those stairs and I’m so grateful because we captured my most favorite shot of the whole session. Here, take a look. Aren’t they all just gorgeous?! I feel like Kalene really saw us the way that we see ourselves and was able to capture that precisely.

(Above: Photos by Blue Muse Photography)

In preparation for our photos, I had so many questions that I was intimidated to ask for so many different reasons. I wondered what the perspective was like from Kalene. And as I talked to my friends, most of them all said something along the lines of “I’ve always wanted to get our family photos taken except I have questions…” I heard this so much that I knew I had to get to the bottom of this.

So, since every photographer runs their business differently based on so many factors, I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to give you the perspective of just one photographer from just one area of the United States where I live. So I interviewed three! Three different, incredible, photographers are here to answer your FAQ’s and give you a little perspective on what the situation looks like from the other side of the camera. Shall we get down to it? Cool.
Let me introduce you:

13048153_708470702885_7737718499960451999_oKalene Nisly
Blue Muse Photography
Hutchinson, Kansas
“My favorite part of my job is helping clients tell their stories in ways that help them to see new beauty in themselves and their lives that maybe they hadn’t noticed before.”


13401215_10154388137016162_767035524_nJamie Patterson
Hidden Exposure Photography
Richmond, Virginia (but she’ll travel all over)
“My favorite part of this whole photography thing is working with amazing people and telling their stories through images. Even my boudoir and glamour work because I can see how confidence, and strength blossom through each of those images.”

13384880_10103011776213291_763712066_nKasey Ivan
Kasey Ivan Photography
New Hope, Pennsylvania
“My name’s Kasey Ivan, and I’m originally from a small farm in rural Kansas. My favorite part of this job is the moment when I’m awestruck by an image I’ve created with a model or client– that “wow” image. Each time is such a wonderful rush, it’s like falling in love with an image or session. You want to talk about it and share it with everybody and take it home to meet your parents. Haha– it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”


Questions About Money/ Ownership:

How do I know how much this is going to cost? Are there going to be any surprise, hidden costs that I don’t know about?
Kasey: I currently list some basic price points on my website so that clients will have an idea of what to expect. I also address pricing within the first or second email of being contacted by a potential client. However, I know a number of other photographers who don’t list specific pricing at all. It would be possible to argue the merits of doing it either way.
I’m strongly against hidden costs and fees in any business. It’s dishonest, and to be frank, it’s a sure way to ruin both reputation and business. When shopping around, make sure that you understand what is included in the price. If a deal is too good to be true… it just might be.

Jamie: I have starting pricing listed on my site and also a contact form to ask any further questions. Some don’t have pricing listed and they hope is that the first contact starts a conversation to find if a client is the right fit. When you contact a photographer they should be upfront about any and all fees associated with your session, if they are not up front about it or refuse to answer questions, stay away from them because chances are they are not reputable.

What will I get with the quote that you gave me?
Jamie: For my sessions, the pricing includes the session, an online gallery of edited photos, and a file of those edited photos. Some of my packages include prints of images or a credit, which is a set amount put towards an order for either an album or prints.

Kalene: I’ve decided for now to give clients digital copies of their images with an option to also order prints through me. I used to only offer prints and really, as an artist, I prefer this because it ensures that you get the quality of product that I want for you. But as a busy mom and business owner, I’ve decided to also give clients the options to do their own ordering if that’s what they prefer.
So because of all of that, my pricing is very up front. You know that you’re getting a certain length session and an approximate number of final images.

Am I in possession of the digital rights? Am I allowed to print them at the lab of my choosing or do I need to do it through you?
Jamie: There is a difference between digital rights and printing rights. Digital rights are not something that I would give away, it would be like Steven Spielberg giving you the master copy of Indiana Jones for you to keep after you purchased a movie ticket. The artist keeps their work as it’s their creation. If you are interested in the digital rights there will be a fee associated, which would be akin to purchasing an original piece of art.
As far as print rights are concerned, you do have permission to print the images off at a print lab of your choosing. You may need a release form to print the images out at certain places so it’s best to ask for that from your photographer.
Another note on getting images printed, speak to your photographer about the best labs to use because while it may look like a good deal the finished product is not going to be that great. Certain labs, like a Wal-Mart or Target don’t process the images faithfully to how they are edited and the colors etc will not look like they do on your screen when you get the galleries from your photographer. If you are looking for specialty products, like canvases, etc. I would recommend you go directly through your photographer as they will have a stellar lab in mind who will give you the best possible product.

(Above: Photos by Hidden Exposure Photography)

Questions About Style:

How do I know that our styles are going to mesh well?
Kalene: As professional photographers, we hope that you choose us because of our style. It’s what makes each photographer unique, what we bring to the table. Professionals work hard to develop their style so that they can provide consistent results for clients. It’s something that does take time and work and that’s one thing you can notice about beginning photographers is that they often offer a lot of photos, each edited 3 different ways. It can be overwhelming for clients when they get their final product. So make sure to spend some time looking over a photographer’s work both on social media and their website. I can only operate under the assumption that if you’re hiring me, it’s because you like my work so keep that in mind as you look. I have a passion for story telling and lifestyle images but occasionally I’ll have a client who is asking for a lot of props and formal poses. I try to be accommodating when I still feel like I can achieve what they’re looking for within my scope of skills and passion, but sometimes we get to a place where I just know that I’m not going to be able to provide them with the product they deserve and I refer them to other photographers. So it’s a good thing to talk about what you’re envisioning for your session before you get there. I have a brief questionnaire that folks can fill out on my website about the type of session they are looking for with some example images of those session types.

Jamie: Make it a point to check out social media and a photographer’s website, from there you should get a good idea on their style. If they are more dark and moody in their edits, if they are more bright and airy, if they use props, if they pose their clients, or just let the story unfold. Look through whole galleries of the type of session you want. Also see if you can meet up for coffee or Skype with your photographer of choice. This is a great opportunity to see if not just styles mesh but if personalities mesh as well. When it comes to the session day you personalities meshing will make for either a fantastic or frustrating session.

Kasey: A photographer’s portfolio and website should give every client a clear idea of the photographer’s eye and aesthetic. If these things aren’t coming through, that could be a potential red flag. Perhaps they have either an unremarkable and uninspiring style. Perhaps their work and style is inconsistent and undefined. Either possibility poses a danger for a client looking to invest money in this person’s talents and work. When looking at a photographer’s work, understand their style– the ways they light, the angles they shoot from, their signature shots, and any reoccurring themes or adjectives that continue to show up in their work. Photography is an art… and art is so often subjective. Find a photographer whose style both inspires and matches you.

 How much input am I allowed to give? What if I don’t know how to say what I’m looking for?
Jamie: I love collaborating with my clients on their sessions. I find that when we can work together it gives you, the client, a bit more ownership of the session and we both look forward to our time together that much more. During our consultation we’ll chat about like and dislikes, any insecurities etc and from there I tend to start collaboration board on Pinterest that gives ideas as far as color pallets for clothing, a certain mood we both want to come across, and even posing ideas. Once that board is started we both can add ideas onto it and it gives me a pretty good picture (pun intended) of what our day is going to look like.

Kasey: I like to hear about the types of images that inspire my clients. I also want planning their session to be something we’re both involved in together. Talk about photos you like in terms of color or contrast, lighting or feeling. Discuss what photos or sessions your photographer has done that really struck you as beautiful or special. Ask lots of questions. What inspires your photographer? What locations would work well for your shoot? What outfits should you plan to bring? The planning process should be a conversation of ideas between the client and photographer towards a shoot that both will look forward to.

Questions about modeling:
There are certain angles that I definitely don’t want to showcase, how do I know that you’re going to capture my best version of me?
Kasey: I think we all have those spots, blemishes, or body quirks that sometimes make us feel uneasy, especially when a camera comes out that could potentially accentuate them. If there are angles that you don’t like yourself to be photographed in, please share these with the photographer and have an honest conversation about why those angles make you feel uncomfortable or not your best. If you are self-conscious about a certain part of your body or angle, ask if you can show your photographer photos of yourself that you feel good about, and be open to having a conversation about why that is. It may make you feel vulnerable, but your photographer should be there to encourage, support, and guide you through the process.

Kalene: If you’re working with a professional photographer, it’s totally cool to discuss things like whatever you’re worried about or specific ways in which you just don’t love your body yet. I’ll be honest, I hate that I don’t have a super defined jaw and it’s the first thing I tend to notice in pictures about myself. Here’s the thing, I tend to think everyone I photograph is drop dead gorgeous. I just genuinely like my clients and because of that, I see them as beautiful people. I might honestly not know the specific things you’re insecure about because I might not see them at all. Trust me, you’re gorgeous. I don’t care who you are, when the light hits you a certain way, you take my breath away. Know that.

Jamie: During our consultation or e-mailing back and forth I like to get to know you; find out about your story and what makes you.. you. I feel like included in that is an honest conversation about how you feel about yourself. I take all that into consideration when we do meet for your session and make sure that you are comfortable. I try to study how bodies move and pose and incorporate that into the poses I have you do. More often than not, I will walk you through why a certain pose works and why others don’t so you can be aware. My motto is, “Every body deserves a great portrait,” and so I want to know as much as I can to make sure you look marvelous.

My smile feels so fake and forced—I’m afraid that I’ll feel completely awkward. Do you have any tricks for dealing with that?
Kasey: Be silly– have fun! This is good advice for photographers as well as clients. Go in with the intention not to look like a supermodel, but to have a great time. Our best smiles are the ones that come naturally, and they seldom exist without a genuine emotion behind them. Come to your shoot listening to music that makes you feel good. Laugh and enjoy your time with your photographer and don’t worry about what the images are looking like– that’s what you’ve paid the person behind the camera to worry about. Instead you should focus on dancing, or playing around, or tickling your loved one, or piggyback rides, or cartwheels, or ice cream… or… well you get the idea.

Jamie: Genuine smiles for me come from genuine laughs and genuine interactions. Our sessions are not going to be filled with, “1..2.. 3.. Say Cheese!” moments. Instead it’ll be more like a conversation, more a back and forth where we both start to laugh and in those times those are the images that are captured. If you are posing with your partner, chances are I will put you in a pose where they can get you to relax and laugh. That’s the story I want to share, that’s the You that needs to be shown off.

Kalene: Because I love documentary style photography so much, my passion is trying to capture the real you. I want the pictures to look like how it felt to be in that moment. I want to tell that story for you. So we aren’t going to do a lot of posing at your session. We are more or less going to hang out. I might give some direction and then I’m going to just chit chat and let you interact with me and your family and capture those moments as they unfold. If you’re somebody who thinks that sounds super stressful and you know that you would much rather have a lot of direction, make sure to look for a photographer whose work looks much more posed. It’s totally cool to like a different style than I do!

(Above: Photos by Kasey Ivan Photography)

 Is there anything that you’ve been dying to tell clients? Now’s your chance!
Jamie: This one goes out to the ladies! I do a lot of work with boudoir and glamor and I love working with women of all shapes and sizes. Every time we work together my goal is to show you how wonderful you are, how beautiful you are, and how you deserve to be seen. When we do these sessions it’s as much about empowering you as it is just a day to play in hair and make-up. Don’t wait to get your photo taken. Don’t wait until you are the perfect size before you allow someone into your life to document these special moments. We live in a world where we have the beauty of instant technology on our phones and it’s so easy to just snap a quick selfie. Having someone else take your photo allows you to see yourself in a different light. So make it a point to invest in photos and make sure you get them printed out.

Kalene: I feel like I already said my piece about how gorgeous everyone is and that’s totally what I want most people to know. I can’t say it enough. Besides that probably just that you get what you pay for. True professionals work really hard at personal development and delivering the best final product that they can.

Kasey: Be open to different. Don’t do what everybody else is doing just because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Some of the best art comes from breaking the rules and breaking outside of the box. When it comes to photography, find a photographer who wants to make your session special and unique. My favorite clients are always the ones who say, “We’d like to try something a little different.”

So, what I’m hearing over and over again are three main themes:
1. Do your research. Internet stalk your photographer crush a little bit before sending that initial email.
2. Feel comfortable at all times. If, during any part of the process, you’re not feeling comfortable, speak up! That’s the only way to get the very best results.
3. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! Don’t feel embarrassed to ask a question or get clarification–I can’t imagine that you have a question that has never been asked before. Try not to consider that a dare. 😉

Thanks again to Kalene, Jamie, and Kasey!

If you’re interested in working with any of these artists, you can search for them on Facebook, and their website information is listed up at the top of the interview!

Do you have any questions or thoughts that weren’t covered in these interviews? Truth be told, there was so much more brilliant information contained in these interviews that I just had to, sadly, cut down.


2 thoughts on “Ask a Photographer: Your questions, answered.

  1. I loved this post! It is so intimidating to approach a photographer especially one you’ve been following / social media stalking for a while. On the one hand, they are the pro and they do things their way for a reason. On the other hand you might have certain things in mind that you want from the e d result. I think if you can find a photographer that is a kind hearted person you can do both. If you work with someone very set in their ways, of trying to fit you in a certain mold to build your portfolio, that seems kind of one sided. Would love to work with any of the photographers in this post (and have worked with Kasey in the past!)

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