Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for visiting my FAQ page! The majority of this post is for my clients and potential clients. But, towards the end, it becomes a photographer FAQ page, in case you're a photographer and you have questions too. :)
1. Why are you a photographer?
I took intro photography courses as electives when I was going to school for graphic design and I liked everything except for the darkroom lol. Photoshop classes were also part of my graphic design courses, as digital photography was creeping up on all of us rapidly and I loved everything Photoshop could do! Fast forward about 5 years and I picked up a camera to photograph my daughter as a baby, then it progressed from there and I was photographing friends and family's children, too. After photographing children and families for just a little while, I realized how much I enjoyed telling my clients' stories and capturing moments for them to cherish! That is what makes my job super important to me. I'm not just a mom with a camera and Photoshop knowledge anymore. It's much, much, much more than that now!
2. I never like the way I look in photos. What can you do to make me like my photos?
- You're probably wrong and you're gorgeous!
- Posing. I have learned a lot about posing, since I started my photography journey in 2013 (2012, if you count my practice year). I've learned what looks best, through personal experience and I've taken courses about posing, so I have some tricks up my sleeve!
- Lighting. One of the reasons I like to use the fading sun as my light source is because bright light and the position of the sun in bright light can be harsh looking on the skin. This is why you can find me asking my clients to give their kiddos a late nap, so we can shoot late in the day!
- Photoshop. I always soften dark shadows under the eyes and on the face, using Photoshop. Sometimes, my clients will ask me up front, to do certain things for them, like remove blemishes, remove bra straps that are showing and make some "adjustments" here and there. I will do those things, but it is beyond my style to make drastic changes and completely change a person's appearance.
- If a photo is unflattering, I simply don't include it in the gallery. It's digital, not film, right? :)
3. What should we wear?
Firstly, you should know that I don't think clothing is as important as you'd think, so if you're stressing about it, stop! If you want advice in the back of your mind to calm your nerves, here is a blog post, which includes, tips, tricks and suggestions for flattery, being comfortable and more.
4. My husband/young kids/wife/insert person here, doesn't like taking pictures. How can you make the best of this for us?
First of all, you should know that 9 times out of 10, the male in the family came to the session against his will (lol). When my portrait sessions are over, I usually hear the husband/boyfriend/fiancé say, or I'm told they say something along the lines of, "wow, that went by faster than I thought", or "wow, that was easier than I thought".
As for the kiddos, I try my best to make it fun for them. For them, this should be looked at as time with their family, playing outdoors, a chance to be silly and a chance to snuggle with parents, or siblings. I don't push children to smile. I try to make it easy for them to warm up to me. If they're not willing to smile, I'll dive right into the lifestyle shots, let them play and warm up to the camera, then try for the posed images. My goal is to make this time with me fun! If all else fails though, I can typically try using Photoshop to make things work and try and get at least one "perfect smiling shot". But, I need two photos with the same lighting, body positioning and camera angle to be the same, or close to the same to make that happen. Also, let's be real, not every photo of a child will be of them smiling and looking at the camera, but that's real life and it also happens to be the style my clients come to me for!
5. My child has special needs. Should I be nervous about our session?
I've been asked this twice and while it's definitely not required that you tell me information that gets shared with a doctor, it is helpful information and I will not share it! I would love to spend more than the normal allotted shooting time with your child, so he or she can hopefully trust me, a stranger to take their photograph. There wouldn't be an extra charge for more shooting time. But, if you think you would need more time than a mini session allows, know that I'd like to try and put your family at the very beginning of my mini session marathon day (I'd ask you to come earlier than what the marathon schedule says), or I'd schedule you at the very end of the mini session marathon day, so your family can stay later, if needed.
I have a lot of first hand experience with a special needs child because my little brother, Drew was special needs. Although, he passed away when I was in my teens, I grew up with him and I helped take care of him (I was about 6 years older than him). We have a collage of images of him on our wall. None of them show him smiling and looking at the camera like the rest of us are, but that was his real life. His "smile" was his little hand over his mouth and that's what is captured in most of the images in that collage. I know the goal for a lot of parents is to have a photo of their children and family all smiling and looking at the camera. I will try to get that shot, but I will also get a lot of the in between, real life shots.
Also, see number 4 of this post, if you skipped it. :)
6. What is the difference between your seasonal mini sessions and your full session collections?
7. How can I find out about your Seasonal Mini Sessions?
I send out emails to my past clients and anyone that's asked to be on my email list. A VIP list, if you will. Then, I post the information to the mini session info page and sometimes to social media too. If you'd like to be on my email list, just send me an email, asking me to be added because most of my seasonal sessions start booking earlier than you might think!
8. I just want a few pictures. Why don't you offer that?
I compare wanting "just a few pictures" to going to Target for just milk; You never leave with just milk! You see all of the things in the dollar section, then realize you also want that throw pillow, the jeans on the back wall look cute and so on.
I have collections tiered for small, medium and large sessions and they correspond with the amount of people that will be in the photographs. This is because if a large, extended family is all dressed up and in one place together, they're going to want different combinations of family photos because why wouldn't they?
9. Do you have props?
Yes, but read on! I usually bring a quilt to sit on and I even have a few pieces of furniture I drag out for mini sessions lol. I also have a letterboard, vintage suitcases, some letters and some numbers. Aside from a quilt/blanket, since it's usually a given that I'll bring one of those, all you have to do is ask for any other prop I may have! I am always open to you bringing your own. *BUT, you should know that anytime I bring props, unless it's something large, a good majority of your images are more about YOU, instead of the props. The quilts are more to have somewhere for you to sit... You are going to be the focal point!
10. How long does it take you to edit?
My contract says up to 2 weeks, but that's usually not the case. It's usually closer to a week, unless I'm super swamped with editing, or my daughter isn't in school. I have a whole blog post about my editing process, which includes things like head swaps, airbrushing and Photoshop magic, the type of editing that's included in the collection cost, all of which can be found by clicking here.
11. What about rain?
I schedule most of my sessions at an outdoor location. I love the natural light and I love how the kiddos are genuinely happier at an outdoor location, without light stands and backdrops. BUT, I can't control the weather! I will work with my clients to either shoot a little earlier in the day, or figure out a rain date, if it's needed. Whether it's a weekend, or a weeknight, we'll figure it out! If it's a super cloudy day, I will still shoot, especially since clouds can look GORGEOUS close to sunset!
12. Do you shoot weddings?
I've only photographed 2 small wedding ceremonies, but weddings, or most events in general are 100% not my thing, so I decline those inquiries. -I have strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Once I figured out that I have a passion for family, high school senior, milestone, lifestyle and headshot portraits, I decided that that was a lot and to stick with what I love! Thank you for asking though!
13. How do I book a session?
That's easy! It starts with an email, since emails can be sent at any hour (I tend to be awake at weird times, like 4:30am, to start my editing workday without distractions). Then, my clients/potential clients can respond when it's convenient for them. Win-win. We correspond about general questions, dates, locations, pricing and more, then when everything is sorted out, I will send an online contract and retainer request. You will be penciled in for up to one week, then after the contract is signed and the retainer is paid, you're considered booked!
Please note: Sometimes there are other potential clients asking about openings and the spot on my calendar that you picked could be the only one left for the season. If an online contract/retainer isn't completed within one week from receiving, the date and time you were hoping for may not be available to you anymore. If something happened just communicate with me within the week, send me a quick email to let me know you didn't lose interest before the link expires!
14. My family will be in town for [major holiday], will you photograph us while they're in town?
While I understand why you're asking, HBP is closed on all family oriented holidays to, well, spend time with my family! Any major holiday where family gatherings are involved, like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, etc, I will be with my family and they expect me to be with them, especially my young daughter. I hope you understand!
15. What's an online gallery?
It's your own private link, where you can view and download images to your computer and buy professional prints, if you choose. When I'm finished editing your images, I'll send the link to your gallery, via email. It's private/password protected and you can forward to your friends and family if you want!
Please note: Your gallery should be downloaded to your laptop or desktop within 3 months! My online gallery viewer has a set amount of online storage, therefore I delete all older online galleries to make room for newer online galleries. You have 3 months to download your images as many times as you need before the gallery expires, which should be plenty of time! If you miss your 3 month window, I can login on my end and re-activate the online gallery. If you miss your 6 month window and the images have been deleted online, I can upload them again when I'm at my computer, BUT I added that part about being at my computer because recently, I was out of town when a client asked me to re-upload their gallery and I hated that she had to wait for me to get back to get her images!
16. Why is it okay to order directly from the HBP gallery on my phone, but not from another print shop on my phone?
When you download your image gallery to your phone, the images are going to be web-sized. When you send those web-sized images to a print shop or pharmacy, they're going to be blurry. When you order through your HBP gallery, the photos you downloaded to your phone aren't going straight to print. Instead, the info goes directly to me and I fulfill the order through a professional print lab myself. in other words, I get the notification that shows which images you want and what sizes you want, etc., then I will order what you selected in an ordering screen and the prints sent to the print lab will come directly from my computer, where the images were originally saved.
I will also add, that when I order your selected prints through my professional photo lab, I will make sure your arms and heads are not chopped off all weird when ordering different print sizes! When you're ordering through an online print shop, or pharmacy, it's on you to make sure your heads and hands aren't chopped off and that you're sending high resolution images. In case you missed it, if you download your gallery to your phone, or tablet, your images will be WEB QUALITY and you do not want to send those to an online print shop or drug store. That print shop or pharmacy may not care to alert you about the low resolution images and you might not know until after you've paid for and received your prints! Please download your images to your desktop or laptop for high resolution, printable images, I can't stress this enough!
16. How long do you keep galleries backed up on your computer?
In short, my contract states that I will retain the edited images on my computer for one year. The online gallery links expire after 3 months and the images get deleted online after six months to make room for new galleries. I can upload them again if something happens on your end and you need another download link within the year. *I do save everything beyond a year, but anything can happen, so back up your files, too!! Don't just download them to your desktop or laptop... Also back them up in another way!
The long version: I. Save. Everything. Every day, my computer backs up onto an external hard drive, so all current galleries are saved in two places- on my computer and on an external hard drive. Every January, I shuffle galleries from past years around to save space on my computer and external hard drives: Let's say it's January of 2021. All edited galleries from 2020 stay on my computer for six months to a year, their folder also gets pulled to a designated spot on my external hard drive and I make a disc copy of them and the disc goes into a drawer. In January of 2020, I did this with 2019's galleries, so then I compressed both the 2019 folder on my computer and the folder on my external hard drive to save room. I still have the discs I made from that year as well. It might be overkill, but I do this every year.
**While I do keep old galleries, I encourage all clients to download their images in a timely manner AND back them up somehow, in case something were to happen on my end. If your computer crashes and you didn't back up your gallery, I can expand a folder on an external hard drive I have in a drawer, or pull from my backed up discs. But, again, things could happen, so download your gallery and back it up! I know, I sound like a broken record, but in the end, photographs are very important.
18. Are there perks to being an HBP client?
- If you get professional prints through your HBP gallery, I will add in extra prints at no extra cost! For instance, you order 5, 8x10's, you'll most likely also get 5 of the same photos as 4x6. If you order 5, 4x6's in color, you'll most likely also get their matching black and whites in the same size. This has always been an unspoken "rule" of mine, but here it is in writing or the world to see lol.
- All past clients get past client pricing! That's right, if you booked a session in 2019 and booked another session this year, I will go back to look at your contract to see what you paid in 2019, so you pay that price instead of my current rate! I even do this with mini sessions. The only thing I don't honor with the discount pricing are the complimentary albums you get with the ultimate collection.
- All past clients get on my email list and will have first dibs on upcoming mini sessions! I send about a handful of emails a year for early booking of all of my seasonal mini sessions before I officially announce them on my website. I have different lists, sorted by past client pricing and the pricing will be noted to the recipients.
- Woke up with a rash on your arm the day of your session? No problem, I'll Photoshop it completely out for you! In every final picture? Yes! I'm the photographer who utilizes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Bridge in every way you didn't even know you wanted me to lol. Please read this if you have a second, it'll open in a separate tab: https://www.hollybutlerphotography.com/single-post/has-your-photographer-taken-the-time-to-truly-learn-photoshop
1. What camera do you use?
I currently a have Nikon d750 and another d750, for backup. When I first went to a full frame camera, I chose the d700 and I've loved this particular line from Nikon. I may or may not switch to mirrorless, but I'm going to stick with what's been working for now!
2. What lens do you use?
I have always been a prime lens girl. I adore my 50mm 1.4 nikon lens and it lives on my camera body. I love the sharpness of my Nikon 85mm 1.8, but I don't use the 85 like I use it like I use the 50, since I have to stand so far away from my clients! I also have a 35mm 1.4 Sigma Art, but I only use it if I'm in a tight space and I have to use it. That lens tends to distort subjects sometimes and it's extra work in Photoshop to correct the distortion.
I also have a 35-70mm 2.8 Nikon lens, along with a cheap ($40!) 80-200mm 4.5-5.6 Nikon lens... I even used the cheap one to p!! I don't use either of these for portraits, especially the 80-200 because it's not good in low light situations. I think I just got them because they were different focal lengths to have at a low price! :)
3. Do you use Photoshop actions?
Yes, but I make my own Photoshop actions, to make editing go faster and so my style is consistent. I have some of my actions for sale (overlays too), in my photographer shop!
4. Do you mentor?
I have given a one-on-one mini course on, "how to use your DSLR". It was by request through a mutual friend and it went well! However, I move things along really fast during portrait sessions and I don't consider myself a great teacher lol. Unless it's in the form of an edited video, where I can cut out my long, drawn out, sidetracked stories that eventually lead up to learning lol lol lol!! I have a few free tutorials on my YouTube channel, for Photoshop users that need to learn how to do specific things, like change the color of a shirt, or make a photo look snowy. My YouTube channel link is here.
That's all I can think of for now, but I'll add to this if anything else come up!
Thanks for looking!
This blog post was written in 2018. It was updated in 2023 when it was copied to the current HBP website.