(This is mostly a personal blog about my experience in hiring a photographer for our Sun Valley couples session with a few photos I took peppered in towards the bottom. This is what your experience should be like when you hire a photographer.)
I am a firm believer that photography is an investment that is worth the money. But here’s where I get hypocritical… I’ve kind of sat back and watched as a lot of people in my life posted beautiful photos of themselves and their families, and I’ve taken some really beautiful photos of other people, but I’ve never actually hired a professional photographer to take photos of me.
Why? Well, for all of the same reasons that I tell my clients to ignore on a daily basis.
-I don’t like having my picture taken
-I’m not comfortable in front of a camera
-I have gained some weight
-I don’t know what to wear
-I’m awkward as hell and I’m worried it’ll come across in photos
blah blah blah
But the reality is, my insecurities are significantly less important than the memories that I am making with the person I love. I have a lot of reasons to celebrate us, and that is worth the risk of being a little uncomfortable for a short period of time.
After all of the craziness of this year (and if you know me personally, you know what I’m talking about), I decided that I wanted to have some photos taken with my partner when we went to his home state for the holidays. We’ve been together for six years and we didn’t have any nice photos together, just selfies and boomerangs, and I wanted to do something fun and nice just for us.
I started my hunt for a photographer, which inevitably led me to my favorite Facebook group for photographers, and that is where I found Sadie (SS Photography & Design). I reached out to her and asked about her pricing for her couples adventure sessions, and unfortunately it was a pretty big stretch for me. Initially I was going to go with her smallest package, but after some thinking and rearranging some finances, I realized that I could make it work to have a really awesome experience and not just pretty pictures that I could slap on Facebook to make everybody else jealous (that’s just a bonus. 😂) She was flexible with our ridiculously tight schedule, we picked a date, and I paid her retainer so we could get to planning the good stuff. She sent me her styling guide and we got to work.
I gave her a little information about what I had envisioned for our session, and not only did she not let me down, but she absolutely blew me away. I was bombarding her with emails asking for outfit help, going back and forth on where I wanted to do our photos (not just the exact area, but the city 😂), different ideas I had and things I liked, and I had no real direction at all, I just knew that I wanted winter wonderland with the mountains. I was basically kinda sorta nightmare client, as us photographers often are. And one who was coming from across the country and knew nothing about the area, while she was planning to travel from 3 hours away in Boise for our session.
Anyways, she was an absolute gem throughout this entire planning process, which started October 25 and our session took place on December 20. Naturally (because it’s 2020, ya know?) we ended up having to change our plan at the last minute. The weather in Stanley was unpredictable and the likelihood of there being problems getting to the original location, as well as the fact that there were several feet of snow and single digit temperatures, meant having to go to Plan B. I love the cold and snow but damn even I have my limits.
She came to town a day early, scouted several locations, sent me pictures during her scouting process, and found exactly what I didn’t even know I wanted. We started off at Chris’s parents’ house taking photos with his dad’s 1971 Ford Bronco that has been in the family for decades. Chris helped his dad restore it when he was growing up so it’s got a special place in his heart… and me, well, I just really love Broncos, so it was a no brainer. Then we headed off for some other top secret locations that I won’t be disclosing.
Her husband Ryan and pup Millie came along which meant that I had to convince her to let me take some photos of them too. Ideally I’ll eventually be spending more time in Idaho and I’d love to take on some work there, so it was a fun chance to shoot in the snow for the first time ever.
After our session (like… 6 hours tops…) Sadie emailed me a link to my sneak peek gallery, which was amazing because the day we took our photos was actually our 6 year first date anniversary, so getting to have some photos on that day was really special. We won’t have our final gallery for a little while longer, but I would be satisfied with my experience even if the sneak peeks she sent me were all the photos we got. She captured our personalities so well and made us comfortable enough to be the extremely weird people that we are.
I guess the point of this is, I’ve always seen the value of photography but now I understand it in a whole different way. When you hire a photographer, it’s not meant to be this awkward tedious task that leaves you feeling stressed out and nervous. It should be fun, and your photographer should be there to make the process smooth and comfortable for you. Additionally, I think that hiring a photographer was a good learning experience for me, too. It was fun to take guidance from Sadie using a lot of the same prompts that I use during my couples sessions and it was a really eye opening experience getting to be on the other end. And let’s be real… There are a lot of things I don’t like about my appearance in some of these photos – my neck/double chin, my very wrecked skin from PMSing and a day of travel, the way my hair gets poofy and loses curl in any slight bit of moisture – but the photos capture our essence very well, and they’re in a beautiful location, and we’re genuinely happy. So that trumps looking like a model. Plus, unless you’re a model, you’re probably not a model, so let’s have some realistic photos to look back on in 25 years. There’s no reason to put off having photos done of YOU the way you are right now.
So, just know that when I tell you “I know planning a session can be stressful” and “I know these poses sound RIDICULOUS but just trust me,” I actually do know how you feel. 😏 And I’ll be here for the 11:00 pm emails during your too-many-glasses-of-wine internet shopping spree while you’re looking for outfits for you and your stubborn partner who only owns t-shirts. I can only hope my clients leave my sessions feeling as happy as I left our session with Sadie. I may or may not already be planning another session with her in the summer so we can go to our original location.
Send me a message so we can get started planning the session of your dreams!