all hallow's eve 2008

and one more for the road...

A classic, one of my all time favourites. Love it!

a little something to start your weekend!

Sing along - you know the words!!! (And check out tose groove top of the pops dancers... swank!)

pumpkin photography instructions

Here's your free tip for the day.


Everyone get your pumpkins out on your step or wherever. Put your camera on a tripod or a chair. If you have a dSLR, set your camera to Av and use the 2-second delay timer on your camera. If you have a point and shoot (P&S) find the little candle symbol and set your camera to that one, put it on a tripod or chair. Everyone disable your flash, then light up your pumpkins and take a picture for me! email them to me at h dot walls at shaw dot ca, or post them on your own blog and let me know how they turned out!

Happy Halloween!

Here's your free tip for the day.


Everyone get your pumpkins out on your step or wherever. Put your camera on a tripod or a chair. If you have a dSLR, set your camera to Av and use the 2-second delay timer on your camera. If you have a point and shoot (P&S) find the little candle symbol and set your camera to that one, put it on a tripod or chair. Everyone disable your flash, then light up your pumpkins and take a picture for me! email them to me at h dot walls at shaw dot ca, or post them on your own blog and let me know how they turned out!


(Our halloween pictures to follow...)

DLS workshop FAQs

How much do the workshops cost?
Workshops cost an average of $75 per 4-hour day.  The full series is $500, and there are savings for early registration.

How long are the workshops?
The workshops are from 2 - 4 hours in length.

Do I need a dSLR?
No.  You only need a camera with manually adjustable ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for teh technical workshops, and the creative workshops are suitable for any camera.  If you aren't sure if the model you're using has manual controls, leave a comment with your camera make and model and a reply email (I won't publish it) and I can let you know. 

Can I bring my kids?
Nursing infants up to about 6 months are welcome; however, the workshops are fairly involved and not suitable for children.

Where are the workshops held?
The workshops will be held at a variety of locations in and near Edmonton which are yet to be confirmed.  Confirmation will be sent out prior to the commencement of the workshops.

What will I know when I'm done with the workshops?
Technically you will know how to use the buttons, knobs, and dials on your camera to get the exposure you want; creatively you will have a whole bag of tricks on everything from lighting and composition to how to make grumpy kids smile, and then some.  You will also have an idea of how to get started as a business if you decide to pursue photography as a career.

Are the workshops tax-deductible?
No.  As these workshops are being offered privately and not through a registered educational program, I cannot issue tax receipts.

2009 DLW series dates announced

It's not about the camera.

Complete details for the 2009 Dirty Little Secrets Workshop Series is now available on the website

can of worms: Phil 101 ethics paper

I decided to research the specific laws regarding taking pictures of people in public spaces, and discovered that since the last time I had investigated the matter, a ruling I had thought still stood had been overturned in the Supreme Court of Canada. The case, originating from a resident in the Province of Quebec who successfully sued a freelance photographer for selling an image of her sitting on the steps of a public building, is the first time in Canadian history were a person's right to freedom of artistic expression in that context had ever been deemed an invasion of privacy. In 2004, the photographer and magazine were ordered jointly to pay damages in the amount of $2000.

Outside of criminal law, which covers things like voyeurism, trespassing, libelous and slanderous images, etc., under the Canadian Charter of Rights we are guaranteed freedom of expression and consequently the right to take pictures of whomever and whatever we choose in public places. We also have the right to privacy. Although it would be unreasonable to have a law barring people from taking pictures in public places and/or posting them on 'personal' sites, both Quebec and Saskatchewan have laws in place protecting an individual's right to their image when there is money exchanged for that image. It does not bar people from taking pictures for personal use, and makes provisions for a) things that are 'newsworthy' and b) celebrities and other public figures.

I have decided to do my position paper on the ethical responsibility of photographers in the Province of Alberta to obtain legal permission to sell images of identifiable people taken in public spaces. As it's a short paper, I'm limiting it to this particular very small section of the law, but obviously this opens the door to a whole pile of other questions. I'd like to pose a few questions and see how you guys feel about this particular law. If you want to get more familiar with Canadian Privacy Laws, this link is awesome.

Again, to keep the topic kind of reigned in, let's assume someone has taken identifiable pictures of you and your family at a parade without your knowledge. The questions for your consideration in this Can of Worms are:

Does it bother you that anyone can take your picture and post them on Facebook or their blog or anywhere they want? Why?
Does it make a difference if the person knows you or not? Why?
Does it make a difference to you if it's a 'good' picture vs a 'bad' picture of you? (be honest)
If a freelance photographer sold a 'good' picture of you to appear in advertising for the parade without your knowledge or consent would you be upset? Why?
Would it make a difference if the person was a friend or acquaintance? Why?

dates set for 2009 DLS photography workshop series!!!

2009 DLS workshop series announcement!

Below you'll find dates for the workshops.  Registration commences November 1st, 2008 and will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Unless otherwise noted, a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 registrants is required for each workshop, with priority given to those signing up for the series over individual workshops. If you have taken the CRASH COURSE!!! and would like to sign up for the series, a partial credit will be applied to your registration total. 

Workshops are geared towards dSLR cameras, but are suitable for all cameras that have manually adjustable ISO, shutter speed, and aperture unless otherwise noted.

Please visit the webpage or email h dot walls at shaw dot ca for further details or to request a registration form.

January 11, 2009: it's not about the camera
February 8, 2009: in-camera metering, composition
March 8, 2009: technical critiquing & photoshop demonstration  
April 5, 2009: portraiture - making the connection
May 3, 2009: controlled lighting, wedding photography - A Suffolk House B&B
May 31, 2009: breaking the rules and planning for final project, the business end of things
June 14, 2009: FINAL PROJECT

Although the workshops are designed to be stand-alone, they are most beneficial taken as a series.  Visit the DLS webpage for detailed descriptions of each workshop day, as well as pricing and payment options.

candid calculations

Danica said...
I am currently taking a photography course to better learn my camera and in turn take much better pictures. I am trying to use my manual setting as much as possible but question my choices when I am trying to take quick, candid shots. When doing candid photography what settings (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) do you like and why?? I am trying to avoid using the "priority" settings available on my camera so I can better my skills and knowledge.

Before I can answer your question, I am going to make some assumptions, as asking someone what they 'usually' have their ISO, shutter, and aperture settings on is a weird question since it changes moment to moment. Most photographers will have a set of preferred settings (whether they shoot RAW or JPEG, prefer Av, Tv or manual, whether they prefer a 1-second review or a 3-second review, where they like their AF spot to be, etc.) but otherwise, it's a question of calculating the Law of Reciprocity to come up with the right combination of duration, film sensitivity, and light to create an 'exposure.'

First I am assuming we are talking about a digital camera and not film. Second, when you are wanting to take 'fast' pictures I am assuming you mean when people are in motion and you need to 'freeze' the action. I'm also assuming the use of available light, not strobe, flash, or any other light source. In priority setting, you would want to use your Tv to ensure your shutter speed was fast enough to 'freeze' the action. To do this manually you simply re-create Tv by setting your shutter speed to 1/125 sec or faster and adjusting your ISO and/or aperture accordingly. (You don't want anything lower than 1/60 sec for a shutter speed though as that's the longest most humans can stand still for and take a picture without getting camera shake.)

Of course in lower-lighting situations, upping your ISO means increased chance of grain, and opening up your aperture means you need to be spot-on with your focussing or your subject will have moved out of your DOF, at which point it becomes more a creative than a technical choice: would you rather have blur, grain, or I'm a big fan of a shallow aperture, pretty much always. And, as much as I'm really OK with grain, I'm even more OK with a little blur in my candids - I prefer blur to noise most of the time, especially for candid shots, because it's a 2-dimnesional medium and the only way of creating a sense of 'movement' or demonstrate the passage of time is to let a little blur happen.

My best suggestion is for you to go outside and 'play' - try a series of different settings. (Lucky for you, digital records all that data for you so you don't need a pen and paper handy like in the old days of film.) Kids on swings close to sunset would be perfect fodder for really exploring your camera settings as you'd have gradually decreasing light over a short period of time. The bottom line is, you'll only discover what your personal preferences are, and why, by experimenting and eventually discovering your own style.



going caffeine free

No more coffee.  
No more tea.  
No more chocolate.  
God hates me.

how do I pick a photographer?

If you're finding a replacement for a photographer who is unavailable for some reason, or this is your first time getting non-studio portraits done, it can be a little overwhelming deciding who to hire.  Your pictures are an investment, and you should shop as wisely for a photographer as you would a home.  This post will help you narrow the field down.

Step 1.) Decide what kind of pictures you want done.  If you are looking for family portraits, obviously hiring a wedding or boudoir specialist isn't your best bet.  You also want to carefully consider the photographer's artistic style - though most photographers have a little of everything thrown in there, most tend towards a specific style.  Review their portfolio of images - are they photoshop-perfect or more natural?  Are they funky colours and textures, or classic and simple?  Are they broody and stylized or are they bright and playful? Are they mostly candid or mostly posed?  Do they have work from a studio or do they shoot on location?  If you like minimal post-processing or a photographer who is into putting humourous cartoon thought-bubbles, make sure the one you hire isn't into creative post-processing or doesn't have a single image sporting a thought bubble, don't hire them because asking a photographer to change an image they've presented to you is no different than asking Picasso to change a painting.

Step 2.) Decide your budget.  I suggest being at least a bit suspicious if they don't list any prices - what are they hiding?  Expect to pay more for established photographers with extensive portfolios and several years of experience, but be cautious of basing your investment solely on price: more expensive doesn't always mean better.  There are often very talented photographers who are early on in their careers and looking to build their portfolios whose prices will be substantially lower than more experienced or established photographers.  You may want to take a risk on an up-and-comer.  Buyer beware - as they are exploring their style, homing their skills, and experimenting with different processing techniques, you may get a mixed bag.  And a word to the wise - expect their prices to go up very quickly as they gain experience and build a clientele!

Something to note:  If the photographer you want is totally out of your price range, don't be afraid to contact them anyways - often if you give them a dollar amount they are able to tell you if there's anything they can provide for that price, or suggest other photographers they know or work with who they feel would be a good option for you. If they outright snub you, chances are you didn't want to work with them anyways.

Step 3.) Get some reviews or feedback about the photographer you are considering.  No photographer ever puts bad reviews of their work on display, so testimonials on websites aren't always the best place to start - talk to former clients if you can.  If you don't know anyone the photographer has already dealt with, blogs not only show the photographer's most current work but often reveal a bit about the photographer's personality as well as their service.  Check for things like turnaround time - are summer weddings popping up as the snow flies and fall leaf pictures being appearing as the trees are budding?  If so, expect a lengthy wait for your pictures.  Check for repeat offenders - if a photographer has regulars and/or repeat customers, it's usually a good sign.  If they are new photographers this may mean nothing, but if they've been around for a couple of years and no one's coming back, there's probably a reason.

Step 4.) Spend some time talking to the photographer before deciding to hire them.  Whether you do this over the phone or via email, the photographer should be friendly, helpful, and open.  You should feel almost immediately comfortable with the person - when you click you will have fun at your session AND get some pictures to boot.  However, if there are inexplicably long lapses in communication, curt unfriendly responses, or you just don't feel comfortable 'chatting' with the person, it's unlikely you are well suited for one another, and this will show up in your pictures.  Especially when you are considering making a large investment such as wedding pictures or large canvas prints of your family, you want to make sure you aren't wasting your time and money, so suggest a meeting.

Step 5.) Go get your pictures done!

Hopefully this gives you a bit of help in choosing a photographer.  If you'd like a more in-depth look at what most customers are unhappy with in a photographer, you may want to read this.  But if you're ready to start shopping (and because we conveniently have a list of our associates handy) we suggest you check out these photographers.  Happy hunting!

a little autumn glory, anyone?

I took pictures of Big M for the first time when she was just 3 months old.  Now, some two and a half years later, I was asked to do some fall pictures of Big M with her year-old baby sister Little M.  These two girls have the most amazing blue eyes you'll ever see, and Mom has shed an amazing 50 lbs (watch for some glam photos in the next few months!) since the last time I did photos with them.  AND, I managed to get several pictures of Papa W. without him blinking - score!!!  Thanks for being persistent, Mom - I would have regretted not having the opportunity to catch up and to see Big M and Little M again.

(Papa W - yer lil Mama looks HAWT!)

feet and couches

It was back in May when we last saw this family.  Mom was kinda sorta REALLY preggers.   Well, that bebe is out, and looking as beautiful as her big sister.  By the time bebe C. arrived I was knee-deep in wedding season and unable to squeeze them in.  I had a (very - like the day before) last-minute opening and was able to cross this family off my unofficial 'waiting list.'  I'm glad I did - there's always an adventure to be had when visiting these guys!  Thanks for lettin me squish the new baby, play with M's feetsies, and put your sassy couch in pictures!

(Since we missed a newborn session we took a few extra shots of bebe C.)

Miss M was more than happy to pose after we took the obligatory shots of her Care Bear.

This shot reminds me of 50s studio portraits - LOVE IT!!!

This couch shot made the entire session worth it...  I can't stop smiling every time I look at it!  ~smirk~

grown-up fun

It's rare I work with a group of only adults, so this family (Mom, Dad, plus 2 daughters, 1 son, and all their spouses) was a treat to hang out with.  We wandered around Wagner Bog (thanks for the tip, Brayden's Mommy!) and enjoyed a beautiful late-autumn stroll through the leaves.  Thanks for a great day, ladies and gentleman!

sneaky pics - what's the law?

I had a personal incident arise this week and thought I'd re-post a little info on the legalities of strangers taking your picture in public places.

First off, there is NO LAW preventing you from being photographed in a public space or at a public event by anyone. When you hire a photographer, there is usually some kind of binding contract regarding the legal end of things, but if you're walking down the street, going to a festival, playing at the beach or swimming pool, or playing at the park with your kids, if someone came along with their camera and started taking pictures of you with or without your knowledge, without your consent, you really have no legal recourse. Obviously if they were harrassing you, you would be entitled to contact the authorities to have the person removed, and if the person were photographing you in a changeroom or washroom that would be a whole other story, but for the most part, if you're out in public, you're game.

Speaking as a photographer, I tend not to take pictures of people without their permission but sometimes it happens. Typically, it's because you were in the background of my shot - I go to take a picture of my daughter on the slide and yup - you might be in the background chowing down on a burger or picking your nose. I've also taken pictures of the crowd during parades and festivals. And, if I wanted to, I could sell those pictures back to the festival owners, who could then blow it up to a billboard and there would be nothing anyone could do about it.

Part of the reason there is no law preventing people from taking pictures in public is because you're out in public. Whatever you're wearing, whatever expression there might be on your face, whatever you happen to be doing, people are seeing it. A camera is merely recording you as you are, and therefore, if you've gone out in public you've made an unconscious agreement to 'be seen' so a still or even a movie of you is merely a record of what happened. If your facial expression is unflattering, if you're wearing bad clothes, if you're having a bad hair day doesnt' make a picture more or less lawful. They're ALL lawful. But the number one reason there is no law is frankly because it would be impossible to enforce it. Can you imagine taking your kids to the park and having to get a model release from everyone else there (or their parents) in case you got one of their kids in your shot? Can you imagine a news reporter having to go and get permission from 10,000 people at a football game?

So, no law exists against photographing people in public spaces because it's simply not a) logical or b) enforceable.

NOW. Speaking as a Mom, and a woman who personally HATES having her picture taken at any time in any place, there's a big part of me that thinks this really sucks. The butt shots I've been taking are probably a great example of an unflattering picture I'm OK posting, because you'd be hard-pressed to identify the owner, so anonymity is present. (Frankly, if you don't want people taking pictures of the crack of your butt, wear pants that fit... but I digress...) In the case of taking unflattering pictures of people, well - this would be bad business for me since I am a portrait photographer, and who would hire me if I wasn't able to make a person look and feel as beautiful as possible in their photos?

In all honesty as much as I enjoy street shooting I do feel a bit weird taking pictures of people without them knowing, and in the bigger scheme getting verbal or written permission is always the safer route whether you're going to sell the pics to a newspaper, blogging them, or making personal prints to put in your own album.

To you, the general pubic, rest assured that the truly creepy photographers out there are far and few between in relation to those of us who approach shooting in public spaces with some degree of artistic integrity and genuine respect for humankind.

Now you all know.


whatcha gonna be?

Wil's dressing up as something gory, and Kaelan will likely follow suit.  Mads is going as Miley Sirens (we haven't corrected her on the Cyrus thing ~smirk~) and Serejane has decided she wants to be a fairy mermaid (we also haven't bothered to explain to her the inherent conflict between wings and fins...)  I'm doing something with the rollerskates, though I'm not quite sure if it'll be more cheerleader or roller derby, and Bill, well - you'll have to ask him.

What are you and yours dressing up as?

a visit to the pumpkin patch 2008

Disclaimer: There's not a single pumpkin in all these photos...  and there aren't very many because I was having too much fun to be the photographer ~smirk~

For what it's worth, Prairie Garden's pumpkin patch is all that and THEN some, and will definitely be added as an annual outing for this family.  There was a pumpkin canon (like a big potato gun for gourds) blasting vegetables at a palette pirate ship, a hay bale maze, a kids' corn maze, and a grown-ups and big kids' corn maze, 2 playgrounds, games, pumpkin decorating bale jumping, stuff your own scarecrow, facepainting, food kiosks (a little pricey but quite yummy), a petting zoo, a haunted house where the staff freak the daylights out of your 12 year olds but leave your 4 year olds with dry pants, free tractor rides and, of course, a place to buy pumpkins!  We were treated to some really great live music, the staff are all dressed in full Halloween regalia, and all in all we really wished we had more time to enjoy this fantastic spot!  There's still time to catch their month-long Haunted Pumpkin Festival - next weekend (October 25th and 26th) is your last chance, so if you have some time go check it out - you won't be disappointed!!!

Hope hates her guts - file under 'tmi'

Alright - I'm tired of typing this out on emails, so I'm just going to post this here and paste a link from now on. My GI issues, in a nutshell:

3 years ago, started having intermittent debilitating pain in my upper right abdomen;
2 months later I decide I think my gall bladder is causing me pain, and I went to the Dr. (shh - I know) to get referred to surgeon;
6 months of horrible nasty disgusting painful icky testing, several trips to various specialists, fire surgeon, find new surgeon, several more trips to several more specialists with the new surgeon finally culminate with me getting emergency surgery after blacking out in the ER one night - turns out I had sand and pebbles not rocks in my gall bladder, which was why it was tough to see anything on the u/s and why my attacks appeared 'random';
come home from getting surgery only to discover they've left a stone in the duct, and have to go back for what would prove the most painful procedure of them all;
start having bouts of stomach cramping and diarrhea which seems to alleviate when I avoid animal fats and caffeine;
start having random bouts of stomach cramping and diarrhea which seems to have no rhyme or reason in relation to the foods I'm eating...

Which leads us to where we are now, which is, there's no apparent pattern (that we can discern yet) to what is causing my GI issues. Before it was fairly easily controlled with ensuring my fibre intake was sufficient to soak up the fats and bile pooled in my intestines that were making my system go all wonky. It's no longer that easy - it doesn't seem to matter what I do or do not eat whether I'll be spending a day worshipping the porcelain goddess or not. The last couple of months have been particularly difficult, with GI attacks 3-4 times a week. I've missed work on several occasions from it, and for the first time had to reschedule clients recently to accommodate the fact I couldn't be more than 20 feet from a washroom. It's frankly a very crappy situation, pun entirely intended.

So. Now' y'all knows why I hates me guts.

For what it's worth, I *have* seen a Dr. about this. I am currently doing what's called an "elimination diet" where I start with a basic diet of 3-4 items that I *know* or *believe* will not upset my stomach, for 4 days at a time, and gradually add in other foods until we can discern if it's in fact a reaction to a food or foods, or something really fun and special like IBS. Someone recently told me that for her (she has an almost carbon copy experience to mine) they discovered it was nuts and spices.

So, if I already know that I can't eat animal fats (cheese, meat, butter, chocolate, etc.) and I lose spices and nuts to boot, I'm going to really REALLY hate my guts.


I was tagged by Carol (and sort of by Christine)

Here are the rules: Link to the person who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Write six random things about yourself. Tag six people at the end of your post. Let each person know he or she has been tagged. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

**Random Facts About Me**

~ I'm on George Michael's fan mail.

~I sometimes stare at people's mouths when they talk, especially if they have really bad teeth.

~There's an empty box on my table from the kettle we bought to replace the one my eldest son accidentally set on fire this spring.

~ I kinda like the smell of horse and cow poop.

~ My toenails are painted metallic lilac.

~ Our fish's name is Jerry.

I will tag 6 random blogs I find on the internet.

A nice family blog, recently touched by cancer - get your prayer hands ready.

A fun blog with some wicked scrapbooking layouts! (Perhaps we'll have to induct her to the DLS family...)

A quirky blog that features cucumber noses on snowmen, and has a cupstacking video bar! (Seriously!)

Crafty people kinda scare me - I've never had the patience or skill to tackle projects like the ones on this blog

This one is special for Cathy. Peeking into the lives of large families is always fun, especially if the Mom rides a Harley and posts pics from her shopping trips... her blog is called: 8 kids' mom: show no fear. Lurve it!

giving a little back

I'd be remiss if I didn't stop every once in a while to acknowledge the gifts I have in my life.  Maybe it's the phase of the moon, maybe it's the fact I'm wearing pink today, maybe I'm just feeling flaky, but Cathy's post about being thankful prompted me to take a moment to hand out kudos to the people who touch my life.

First and foremost, my innermost circle of family and longtime friends, who support me unconditionally, forgive me my absences, put up with me when I'm around but not present, and welcome me with open arms when I come up for air.

My beloved family of clients, whose continued support and patronage have enabled me to feed this passion without totally alienating complete strangers or freaking out the neighbours with my ever-present camera.

The DLS workshop alumni, who inspire and uplift me on a constant basis with the dedication, integrity, sincerity, talent, and devotion they show in their work.

My extended circle of new photography friends, who have impressed me with their willingness to share their wisdom (and occasionally pawn off super-sweet props at discounted prices) and expertise.

My blog buddies, whose postings amuse, enlighten, enrage, and update me with the goings-on in their blessed lives that I'd miss if they didn't spell it out for me.

My contractor, for making it possible for me to deal with my GI issues without having to hurl myself down a flight of stairs in darkness to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

My supervisor and boss, for letting me be myself even when that means I come to the office dressed as a pirate, and not holding it against me for being the weirdest kid on the block.

I'm sure I've forgotten a few people, but my flakiness has worn off now that I realize the time and all the work I need to do in preparation for Billy's Birthday Bash tomorrow...

I'm SO mad at my photographer!

Something from a client's perspective for a change!

I've scooped up a few clients over the years based on nothing more than the fact they were dissatisfied or disappointed with the services offered by or that they had already received from another photographer. Sometimes it's Walmart or a dept store chain, sometimes it's another boutique photographer, sometimes it's from a larger professional studio. Regardless, the typical kinds of complaints I've heard are:

The prices aren't fair
The services went down
I hated my pictures
The photographer didn't deliver
The photographer wasn't very friendly or accomodating

So I thought I'd address these issues and try to find some middle ground.

The prices aren't fair:
This usually accompanies the photographer raising their prices, or appears when a photographer seems to be charging more than people with the same or greater experience and/or better quality photographs. I'll tackle both.

Inflation: Prices go up. That's the reality of it, everywhere, period. Fuel, clothing, food, and photography alike will see inflation. With shutterbugs it's not usually in relation to gas prices, but to experience. Often the photographer who is just starting out will start out low and creep their prices up gradually, which often leads to unhappiness in former clients who are unwilling or unable to spend the extra money, especially if there's a drastic jump. Reasonably speaking, if you are in good with a great photographer who is just starting out, be prepared to spend more money as they become more successful. And even when you can't afford them any longer, at least be happy that they are experiencing enough success to demand a higher price for the services you've come to appreciate over the years. However, this isn't always the case:

Incongruent prices: Let's use an example of a t-shirt. A t-shirt's a pretty basic thing to buy, and yet you can buy them for anywhere from $2 to $200, depending where you shop. Prices don't necessarily reflect the quality of materials or workmanship, and are oftentimes abitrarily expensive because you are paying for the name, not the product. Let's assume $25 is a fair price to spend on a good quality t-shirt with decent workmanship and fairly nice materials. If you are accustomed to buying that particular $25 t-shirt, any deviation from it will make you question why it's so cheap or so expensive. A $2 t-shirt might be on sale (score!) or might just be crappy materials and shoddy sewing. If certain people put their name in the tag of that exact same crappy t-shirt, there are folks out there who will trip over themselves to pay $20 or $200 or more for it, just so they can say they own a "brand-X" t-shirt. Alternately, there are often times when a t-shirt increases in price for valid reasons, such as a locally made hand-sewn organic cotton t-shirt that doesn't enjoy the benefit of bulk production pricing breaks, in which case you are paying extra money to support local producers and cover the actual expense of more costly materials, so paying $50 for that t-shirt is probably perfectly reasonable. And of course, every now and again, you're going to find that great $2 t-shirt (score!) but at that price, they won't last forever.

At the end of the day, any wise consumer does some comparison shopping. If you have a budget of $50 for t-shirts, it's up to you how you are going to spend those dollars. You can buy 25 crappy t-shirts, two decent t-shirts, one higher-end t-shirt, or hold out and save up for a glitzy t-shirt, and none of those options is wrong or better than the other - it just depends on what your needs are and what you want to accomplish with the end product which might be something to throw in the Christmas cards, or something to impress the Joneses.

So, too, is the case with photography. There are quick cheap trips to department store studios, there are independent upstart photographers who are charging less while they build up their portfolio, there are fantastic photographers with loads of creativity, talent, and skill to offer who charge a fair but slightly higher price, and there are those photographers whose prices seem utterly insane yet people are willing to pay. So my advice is, when you're out shopping for a photographer, think of them as t-shirts and you'll be OK.

The services went down

Often if a photographer isn't wanting to raise their prices, what they will do is decrease the services or package inclusions. Each image a photographer has to take, scan through, process, proof, and print takes time, and time is money. Usually they will include fewer proofs or prints with their packages as a way of increasing their available time and ability to make a greater income. Photographers just starting out often go above and beyond the call of duty - it helps them build their portfolio so that they can eventually raise their prices. But again, just because you found a $2 t-shirt (score!) doesn't mean it's going to last forever, and when the services go down you'll need to do some comparison shopping and decide if you're willing to grow with that photographer or look for one that fits within your budget.

I hated my pictures

There's never been any accounting for taste. What one person sees as a beautiful picture another person may hate. When you hire your photographer, you need to make sure you investigate their portfolio as fully as possible and make sure that their style meshes well with your personal taste. If you want someone who is great at casual candid shots, don't hire a posey photographer, if you prefer funky trendy finishes, dont' hire someone who doesn't use photoshop. If you decide to hire someone who is just starting out, you have to accept the risks that come with being a guinea pig - you may love or hate the finished product, but you were well-warned, and cannot fault the photographer nor are you justified in asking for a refund, reprints, retints, refinishes, or retakes.

As a photographer learns and grows, their style or approach will often evolve. Often this is a pleasant process which adds value and variety for you, the client. It does happen though that whatever new-fangled Photoshop trick your family portraits have been subjected to or the photographer's newfound love for shooting with only a fish-eye lens isn't going to fit within your likes, and it's OK to just say no. Buyer beware - it's important to keep track of your photpgrapher's current work to see what they're up to lately!

Let's talk t-shirts again. If you bought a t-shirt online in a certain style, fabric, and colour, and got something completely different and unrelated, you are entitled to a refund or replacement because you did not get what you paid for. If the company were completely unwilling to accomodate, then I think it's time to shop for another t-shirt, and if it was me, I'd probably complain loudly to anyone who'd listen about the company that screwed me over.

The photographer didn't deliver

There's usually some sort of verbal or written contract when a photographer is hired. When a photographer raises their prices or reduces what's included in their packages after that contract has been entered into, they cannot apply it retroactively. Also, it is the photographer's responsibility to inform cleints if there is going to be any delay in the delivery of their proofs or prints, either up front, or when the delay becomes evident. Reasonably speaking, a family package should have proofs to the client within 3-4 weeks, and a wedding within 6 weeks. Prints require about an additional 10 business days from the time the clients choose them. Anything outside these parameters is unreasonable, and ideally would result in the photographer offering a discount to the price of the overall package or a discounted session for a future date or something of the sort. Anything less than that is simply disrespectful to the client.

The photographer wasn't very friendly or accomodating

You'd be surprised how often this is the sole reason a person leaves one photographer for another. Sometimes personalities don't mesh, and that's OK, but some of the horror stories I've heard give me the hives - snide comments made to or about rambunctious children, feeling rushed or like their session was an inconvenience to the photographer, the photographer just not being very kind.. and, I've even had a complaint that the photographer was flirting too much with the spouse. Any successful person in any profession knows that there's an art to getting people to do business with you. Whether the ultimate goal is getting you to buy a $200 t-shirt or be comfortable in front of the camera, 99% of your success rests on your personality - patience, creativity, understanding, humour, and propriety all add up to whether or not you're going to be successful. For $2 a t-shirt, you might be wiling to put up with shoddy customer service -you get what you apy for, after all - but no one's going to fork out $200 for it. If you've managed to hire a photographer who makes google eyes at your spouse, keeps looking at the clock, and asks if your kids took their Ritalin this morning, then you need to find another photographer.

The important part at the end of all this is if you aren't happy with your photographer, you need to get the right information to the right people.

1.) Tell the photographer. Beyond not paying for them anymore, be honest about why you aren't hiring them again. Some photographers will be offended or arrogant and write you off, but many will take your feedback to heart and reevaluate their business practices. If you're one of those wishy-washy types like me who can't just say it straight, here are some diplomatic ways of firing your photographer.

Instead of saying you can't afford them, try, "The new prices have outgrown my annual photography budget."

Instead of saying you think they're overpriced, try, "I've done some comparisons and I've found a better value for my photography dollar."

Instead of saying you hate your pictures, try, "I think the creative direction your photography is taking doesn't suit my tastes."

If, however, you are firing your photographer for non-delivery of services or for being an unlikable person, you need to come right out and give specifics. Try, "You did not deliver what I paid for, in the timeframe we agreed to, therefore I will be looking for someone else to provide our photography services." Or, "I found the way you spoke to my children condescending, and men have died for less than checking out the cleavage of another man's wife."

2.) Let the photographer know you are going to tell your friends and family. In this business word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool at our disposal. If the photographer is unwilling to help resolve whatever issue is at hand, this may be a way to impress upon them that you are quite seriously unhappy and have no desire to see them succeed. Make a client happy, and they will tell all their friends. Make a client unhappy, and they will tell all their friends, and their friends' friends, and their friends' friends' friends. And unlike those unwritten rules about not talking about exes with new partners, unhappy clients tell their future photographers ALL about their past photographers...

3.) If the photographer did something truly heinous you may want to consider reporting them to the Better Business Bureau or calling one of the TV consumer hotlines to do an expose on them before someone else gets unwittingly sucked into paying a person who should have their camera taken away.

I hope this gives some sound advice to you, the client, and I hope you find a great photographer who is a perfect match! For those of you who have had a negative experience, I promise, there's one out ther for you!

Prince George fall 2008

So, here's the pics from our trip to Prince George over Thanksgiving.  The plan was to go there to celebrate my Gramma's 100th birthday.  She passed away in June of this year, but we decided to gather up the troops in honour of her birthday anyways.  Please visit the album online to read the captions - good stuff all around!  Hope you enjoy!


wear some PINK! (if I can, ANYONE can...)

I am helping out a friend! I hope you can too! And guess what! It is really easy to do, and you probably have a tonne of pink in your closet!

I know I will be putting my
pink t-shirt (yes, I *do* own one) on the 17th of October, and also my 2 girls have lots of pink! You could do this too!! I hope you say YES!


Here is the message:

Hi Everyone,

My name is Heidi Joshua and I am putting together the worlds easiest event. You don't need to show up or donate anything. All you do is wear PINK on Friday, October 17th to promote Breast Cancer Awareness. Simple as that. I have even started an event page on Facebook called THINK PINK FRIDAY. So, please dig through your closet of yours and wear some pink! Cancer knows no boudaries....wear pink. I started this day last year and I will continue. This yearly NON-ATTENDANCE required event that will happen on the third Friday of October. I am also working on a collage. So please send me a picture of you and who ever else you tell about it! What I want is a GLOBAL event and not just a local one. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I trust that you will get out there and THINK PINK FRIDAY and show the world your pink side!


Heidi Joshua

PS Don't forget to tell your family, friends, co-workers, fellow facebookers. You can copy and paste this letter to make it easier!

no love for the photographer

Say hello to the beautiful T. family.  Sweet Baby T. was all smiles for Papa T. and more than happy to give up the cheer and sweetness for Mama T.  But there was no love whatsoever for the blasted photog (that would be me) who put her in leaves, laid her in grass, and tried to make her peek out of everything from trees to suitcases and sunflowers.  Luckily for Mr. & Mrs. T., the Wee One is simply beautiful, and looks like a perfect little china doll even when she's mad as a wet hen at the nasty photographer...

Into Mommy and...

Into Daddy and...

Into pine cones but...

Not into foliage...

Not into footography...

And definitely not into me.  ~sigh~  

(She's glaring at me. This was the last shot we took and I'm positive she's thinking, HA - I'm SO done with you... neiner...)

Go check out the whole album, and you'll note that the only time she is smiling is when she's not actually looking at me.  She's gorgeous, and I'm hurt.  Maybe I had bad breath...

a whole lotta love (and a whole lotta belly!)

Y&D just got married in August, a beautiful wedding that Heather of PixelPie and Amber of Amber Lee Photography shot. One of the things you'll notice the most if you ever have the pleasure of meeting this family is the generosity of their hearts, and the depth and breadth of their love.

One of Y's big complaints back in August was that she didn't look pregnant in most of her wedding pictures, just fat. (I disagree, but whatever...) Regardless, I think all of us will agree she certainly sports enough breadth in her belly now to match the love she shares with D and daughter A, especially since there are TWO little muffins baking in that there generous-looking oven. These pics were done at about 28 or 29 weeks; I'll try and sneak another picture as close to the due-date as possible so we can see her look like she's really really REALLY pregnant. Y, D, & A, I can hardly wait to meet the twins! Here's to an uneventful labour and babies who sleep through the night from the day they're born... (Dream on, hey?)

Y's Gramma passed away earlier this year. They had saved some of her amazing knitted baby sets. This is Y. showing off the sets she snagged for her babes.


When Mama K. asked for her annual pics this year, not only did we hit their wedding anniversary, but there was a 5th member of the family to celebrate. (Mom promised me the littlest K. was just as cute as the others and she didn't disappoint... but I digress...) Anyhoo. We weren't quite sure where to go, so I suggested we hit the Provincial Museum - one of my pet spots to shoot - to which I got the response, "That's where we got married!"

This was apparently the same spot they had a pose done for their wedding formals - bet this shot looks WAY different than the last one!

On her wedding finger now proudly rests her family ring, complete with the final (I think) addition of little J.  (Though, you guys do make pretty cute kids, so it'd be OK with me if you had another one...)  Congratulations, guys - you've done alright if I do say so myself!  See you next fall!

P.s. I will still deny it if you ever reveal my secret smile-getting technique... 

when it all comes crashing down

Open a separate window and listen to this. We all need a soundtrack to our lives.

Sometimes I sit and think. Too much. And it's no wonder the number one disease on the planet is depression. There's so much beauty around me, and I'm blessed to live with it, and amoungst it, and often capture it through my lens, and then every now and again there's so much ugliness I'm ready to throw in the towel and give up on all humanity. Have you read the news lately? Without even bothering to investigate headlines on an international or even national level, I can find the exact kind of vulgarity that makes me shake my head and wonder, What the hell is going on? right here in my so-called peaceful prairie backyard.

Beyond the unthinkable wars abroad being fought by husbands and brothers and sons and wives and sisters and daughters, beyond the untimely deaths of the rich and famous from you-name-the-disease, horrible things are happening in the homes of my friends - real live people, not just statistics in the newspapers, standing toe to toe with the tragic accidents, senseless shootings, bizarre kidnappings, and brutal murders splashed all over the local papers in the last few weeks.

People who take things, be it life, dignity or a DVD player, from other people, with no respect for their physical or emotional person, with utter disregard for their worth as a human being, leave the people, my friends, to wade through the aftermath and try to make sense of life, to try and internalize the grotesque reality without being consumed by it or destroyed by it, to find the will and strength to go on in spite of it all. Some of you are facing accidental drownings in your backyard, shootings next door, infidelities and betrayals by so-called friends and so-called lovers, and loved ones stricken with cancer and other unthinkable diseases - my heart aches for you.

We are blessed to know one another, and it is by our strength of character, optimism, integrity, and love that we will make it through to the other side. This, too, shall pass. To my friends near and far, met and unmet, old and new, I love you all.

some days

I don't understand what makes some people tick.

a little normalcy

After a grueling summer and early autumn, it was SUPER nice to be able to go and enjoy a party as a guest.  While Serejane did the typical I'm-at-a-birthday-party-I'll-find-you-when-I-need-to-pee-or-want-more-cake thing, I got to visit, hang out with a few really cute kids, catch up with some ladies I haven't seen in a while, and meet some lovely new ladies.  I shot for pure pleasure, and wanted to share a few with you.  Here's what I saw at the party:

A very happy birthday to Miss Jolie!  I'm so glad we got to come and visit you on your special day!