Senior and Family Portraits that are all about you!

Eric Brown Photography - Creating memories one click at a time!

My name is Eric Brown and I live in Great Falls, MT. I thrive on unique and edgy on-location photography that is not your run-of-the-mill pictures. This is not your department store studio. I will create one-of-a-kind portraits that will last a lifetime!

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Is Your Senior Worth It?

One of the things I am finding in the photography business, is that there are many people who are “price-orientated.”  They only want the cheapest they can get, without having to spend much.

Unfortunately, when it comes to portraits, and specifically senior portraits, there ought to more value placed on what you’re getting.  The question one has to ask themself is, “Are my kids’ senior portraits worth nothing to me, so that I am unwilling to invest in them?”  Senior portraits ought to be worth a lot to parents.  They represent the last bit of their childhood.  After graduation, they’re all grown up.  Is the memory that parents want of their kid’s childhood to be some slightly out-of-focus snapshot taken in the back yard?  Or do parents want a piece of art, a collection of images that will be for the next several years displayed prominently in their living room?  Are not kids worth an investment, especially concerning the memories of their last year in high school?

In my senior year, many years ago, I was faced with that same choice.  I, being the “good” kid, the one concerned about my parents’ finances, went with the cheapest “photographer” I could find.  To this day, I don’t even remember his name.  The thing I do remember is that the experience flat out sucked!  He had no clue what he was doing, didn’t know how to pose me, or what shots to take.  He had me decide everything!  And then, when I received my pictures, they sucked even worse!  I am not one to live with regrets, but I have one, it is that I choose the cheapest route, instead of investing in something that should have been worth much much more!

To this day I do not have one of my senior pictures.  My parents were even greatly disappointed in the experience and results!  They made a decision that for my 2 younger brothers, they were not going to skimp on their senior pictures.

With that experience in mind, I offer much more than senior pictures.  I want to create memories that will last a lifetime for you and your family!  I want to give you an experience like nothing else!  I want you to be not just excited, but thrilled beyond measure with the experience of “getting” your senior pictures done.  I want to make some art that will be displayed in your home prominently for years to come.  So that every time you look at it, you will fondly remember your child’s youth; something that will be much more than just nostalgic for you!

I work very hard to research shooting locations, styles, and every thing that goes into making the session personal and extraordinary.  I offer unique images that you will not get anywhere else.  Think of how excited your senior will be when his/her images are vastly different than all the rest of their classmates!  Most every kid wants to be famous.  I try to make them feel that way with the experience they will get from me!

The experience you will get with me is personalized.  It is not a one-size-fits-all deal.  I will listen to you and to your wants and needs.  I will help you to see that your child’s senior pictures are much more than just some snapshots in the back yard.  I will take the time to create something for you and your family that will be a worthy investment into your high school senior.  After all, isn’t your senior worth it?

Thinking hurts…at least for me!

And that is what I’ve been doing for the past few months.  Thinking…and thinking…and…well you get the picture.

I have made no qualms about it before.  I am a pastor, husband, and father.  Not necessarily in that order.  I came to Sheridan over 4 years ago to pastor a church.  But I’ve learned, sometimes we have to expand beyond what we are.  I love photography; there is no doubt about that.  It runs a close second to pastoring the church.

So I spent this past summer contemplating whether I wanted to pursue photography in any way.  Do I want it to be a second job?  A second career?  Or not mess with it at all?  I did nothing in regards to it at all this summer.  No new blog posts.  No Facebook updates.  No portrait sessions.  Nothing.

I’ve come to the conclusion despite all that, that I do want to pursue photography. Why not?  The Apostle Paul was a tent maker.  He did what he could to meet his needs.  God provides us opportunities to have jobs and earn money.  Why can’t I be both a pastor and a photographer?

It is after much prayer and…thinking…that I have decided to pursue photography with all that I can.  It will be exhausting.  I will not take away from pastoring in any way.  I will just have to do both to the best of my ability.  I believe with God’s help, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!

First things first, I am looking for a motivated high school student who still needs his/her senior pictures done to be my representative at their school.  You will earn free things and money for referring other students to me for their senior pictures.  You will get a free mini-session to get some pictures for your referral cards.  You will then have a full session at a later date of your choice to get any pictures you want done.  This can be earned free with just 3 referrals!  It all depends on you as to how much you earn!  You will receive 50 referral cards to pass out to your friends.  If they bring that card to me and get their senior pictures done, that counts for you and earns you money!

It won’t be too hard; your pictures should sell themselves.  Call or email me for more info if you are, or know someone who is, interested!  Don’t wait, time is running out!

Want Some Portrait Stuff?

Who doesn’t like free stuff?  Anyone?

Well, I’m giving away some things this month.  To enter, you just have to (1) go to my new Panther Photography Facebook page and click “Like”, and (2) send me an email with your name, address, phone number, and email address.  That’s it.  The drawing will be held on Friday, May 27th.  I will be using a random number generator to determine the winner.  That’s about as fair as I can get!

What about the prizes?

1st Prize will be a free Gravelly Portrait Session with yours truly! ($250 value)

The Gravelly Session includes an initial consultation to discuss ideas and locations,
3-4 hours of shooting time, unlimited total outfits, advanced retouching, the in-person purchasing consultation with 35-50 images to select from, one (1) image sent to your high school for the yearbook, and five (5) low resolution images for your Facebook profile. As many different locations as we can get to will be permitted with this session.

2nd Prize will be a free 11×14 fine art canvas ($200 value)

The downside is, you have to have a photo shoot with me.  But I’ll throw in a free mini-session to get a good picture for that canvas that will look stunning on that wall in your house.

3rd Prize is a free 8×8 in press printed photo book ($140 value)

Again, the downside is, you have to have a photo shoot with me.  And since a photo book starts out with 20 slides, you’ll have to book at least a Rubies photo session with me.  But still, a free high quality photo book thrown in!  Not too bad of a deal!

Don’t forget!  To enter, you just have to (1) go to my new Panther Photography Facebook page and click “Like”, and (2) send me an email with your name, address, phone number, and email address. My email address is: eric(at)pantherphotosonline(dot)com.  Of course, supply the necessary punctuation (@ and . ) to the address.  Don’t spell it out like I did!

Hurry, you only have a little over a week to enter!  Don’t wait, do it right now!  Quit reading this post, and go register.  How come you’re still reading?  Why haven’t you entered this drawing yet?  Well, come on!  What are you waiting for?

Annie – Senior 2011

I’m finally getting around to updating this a bit, with some not-so-new images.  These are from Annie‘s session last September.  But since I started this blog late last year, these were never shown here.  Annie is a very sweet cheerful gal!  She is a member of FCCLA (Family Career Community Leaders of America) and is the captain of the cheerleading squad.

We had a good time on her shoot, using several different locations in this beautiful valley in which we live.  The scenic backgrounds here are gorgeous!  We were very blessed to have a beautiful sunset as well.  I hope you enjoy these images!

We’re going to Disneyland!

I love how in commercials, the “reporter” will ask, “You just won the Superbowl.  What are you going to do?”  And the reply inevitably comes, “I’m going to Disneyland/World!”

My family and I just returned for a once-in-a-lifetime kind of vacation to Disneyland.  We have been promising the kids since Daijha, my oldest, was pretty young.  My youngest is now 7 years old, so she was old enough to go and remember the trip.  We also have an exchange student from Brazil living with us this year, so what an opportunity for him!

We all had a blast, of course!  Even the youngest went on all the roller-coasters and rides.  The funny thing is, I learned something about me as a photographer there.  While I try to be creative with portraits, I am a terrible vacation photographer!  LOL  I learned that one of the most difficult things was to just take a snapshot for the sake of having a memory of our vacation!  Snapshots are not a bad thing when on vacation.  But I was challenged because for some reason, I feel that every shot has to be that breath-taking, jaw-dropping kind of shot.  However, when on vacation, that does not have to be the case.  Or does it?

A snapshot of the kids in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle

On this one, I was playing around with slower shutter speeds while riding on a merry-go-round.  I like how it came out!

Why Are Professional Photographers So Expensive?

This is a question even I have been asked in the short time that I have been in business.  People always wonder why professional photographers are so expensive.  I mean, after all, don’t they just “take” a picture?  Everyone today has a camera of some kind, even it is their cell phone.  So photography is just pushing the shutter button, right?

I came across this article last week that is on this very topic.  It is written by a photographer in San Diego named Shawn Richter.  Shawn owns Caught On Film Photography.  Please understand, I did not write this article.  It is as well written as an article on this subject can be.  I emailed Shawn last week and asked permission to post his article on my blog.  Graciously, he gave me permission.  In his email reply to me, he wrote, “Thanks for the email, please be my guest, go ahead and use the article.  We can only hope to educate people one by one.”   Here is his article in its entirety:

“Why are Professional Photographers so expensive?
This article has been very well received by the photography community, and is published in the December 2009 edition of Professional Photographer Magazine.

In this digital age where everyone has cameras, scanners, and home “photo printers,” we hear this all the time: How do professional (or personal) photographers charge $X for an 8×10 when they cost just $1.50 at the drugstore? Simply put, the customer is not just paying for the actual photograph; they’re paying for time and expertise.

The average one-hour portrait session

First, let’s look at the actual work involved:

  • Travel to the session
  • Setup, preparation, talking to the client, etc.
  • Shoot the photos
  • Travel from the session
  • Load images onto a computer
  • Back up the files on an external drive
  • 2 – 4 hours of Adobe® Photoshop® time, including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, and backing up edited photographs. Proof photos are also ordered.
  • 2 – 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment, and ship.
  • Possibly meet clients at the studio to review photos and place order. Meeting and travel time average 2 hours.

You can see how a one-hour session easily turns into an eight-hour day or more from start to finish. So when you see a personal photographer charging a $200 session fee for a one-hour photo shoot, the client is NOT paying them $200 per hour.

The eight-hour wedding

A wedding photographer typically meets with the bride and groom several times before and after the wedding. And it’s not uncommon to end up with 1,000 – 2,000 photos, much more than a portrait session. Many photographers spend 40-60 hours working on one eight-hour wedding if you look at the time that is truly involved. Again, when a wedding photographer charges $4,000 for eight hours of coverage, clients are NOT paying them $500 an hour!

(Don’t forget that the photographer runs the wedding day to some extent. A comfortable, confident wedding photographer can make a wedding day go more smoothly.)

The expertise and cost of doing business

Shooting professional photography is a skill acquired through years of experience. Even though a DSLR now costs under $1,000, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.

Most personal photographers take years to go from buying their first camera to making money with photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera, there is a mountain of other equipment and software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website, etc. And don’t forget backdrops, props, rent, utilities, insurance, etc!

In addition to the financial investment, photographers actually have to have people skills to make subjects comfortable in front of the camera. Posing people to look their best is a skill by itself. You could argue that posing is a more important skill than actually knowing how to use the camera. A poorly exposed photo can be saved, but a badly posed photo cannot.

The chain store photo studio

Chain stores do have their place. For a very cheap price you can run in, shoot some quick photos, and be done with it. But you get what you pay for.

Consider the time and effort that a personal photographer puts into photographs, compared to a chain store. Store sessions last just a few minutes, while a personal photographer takes the time to get to know the people, makes them comfortable, makes them laugh. If a baby is crying at a chain store, they often don’t have the time (or the patience) to wait because everyone is in a hurry.

The truth is that many chain store studios lose money. In fact, Wal-Mart closed 500 of their portrait studios in 2007 because of the financial drain. What the chain stores bank on is a client coming in for quick, cheap photos…and while there, spending $200 on other items. They are there to get you in the door.

The real deal

Professional, personal photographers are just that—professionals. No different than a mechanic, dentist, doctor, or electrician. But a personal photographer often becomes a friend, someone who documents a family for generations with professional, personal photographs of cherished memories.

Maybe we need to help clients look at it this way: A pair of scissors costs $1.50 at the drugstore. Still, most people will gladly pay a lot more to hire a professional hair dresser to cut their hair.

The added attention and quality that a personal photographer gives is worth every penny.

Conclusion

We hope that those who have taken the time to read this page will have a better understanding of why professional photographs, created by a Personal Photographer are so expensive.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Shawn, Pamela and Gavin Richter – cofphoto@aol.com

Our website – Caught on Film Photography

Our photography fourm – Learning Digital Photography Together”

 

I hope this helped to answer any questions you may have as to why professional photographers charge so much.  There is much more to photography than “taking” a picture, or several pictures.  A chimpanzee can take pictures.  But it takes countless hours of training, studying, and learning, not to mention a good chunk of change for quality equipment.  Keep in mind, an expensive camera a photographer does not make.  That is, just because someone has a big expensive camera does not mean that they have spent hundreds of hours learning and studying the craft.  Photography is not just taking pictures; it is a specialized career field!

Check out MCP Actions!

I just wanted to take a little bit of time to share a great photographic resource I’ve come across.  I shared a couple of months ago some things that Jodi has on her blog.  She has many different resources, including some great free actions for Photoshop.  I use her Facebook actions and High Definition sharpening actions all the time.  Her new Fusion set looks pretty good.  I’ve had the chance to try the Mini-Fusion set that she gave away.  She offers many actions that, from what I’ve seen, do some wonderful things.  If you’re not familiar with actions, they are a group of steps to accomplish a certain action in Photoshop that ultimately save a lot of time.  Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use Jodi’s actions.  But you do have to have Photoshop CS* or Elements.

Not only does she offer some great Photoshop actions, she posts many fabulous tutorials and articles to help the photographer of any level!  Many of the posts on the MCP Actions blog are written by many talented guest bloggers.  I wanted to highlight my favorite series from her blog thus far.  It would be hard to pick a favorite.  Not too long ago, she had a post on shooting the moon that was very helpful.  But my favorite has to be the 2-part series on Night Photography that was written by Tricia Krefetz.  Tricia owns the Click. Capture. Create. Photography in Boca Raton, FL.  You can follow Tricia on Facebook or check out her website.

Tricia’s 2-part article on night photography was very helpful to me, as that has been a challenging area for me for some time.  I encourage you to read her posts as well.  Read Part 1 and Part 2 to get a bunch of great info and help on shooting at night!

If I were you, and if you have any interest in photography at all, go to Jodi’s MCP Actions blog.  Stop by her Facebook page as well, as she will keep you up to date with all the happenings at MCP Actions.  Let me know if you find her resources and blog posts as wondrously helpful as I do!

Want Free Senior Pics?

SENIOR REPRESENTATIVES NEEDED!!!

What is a senior representative?

You will simply represent me at your school. You will help me market Panther Photography to your peers and getting them to book me for their senior pictures!

What am I looking for in a senior representative?

I am looking for seniors who are fun, outgoing, involved, adventurous, creative…you need to be up for anything! I need seniors willing to try out new poses, new locations, and bring their individual style and flair to a photo shoot! I want seniors who are willing to be supermodels for a day and have fun! I need seniors who are willing to go out of their way to promote my business and be excited about their pictures!

What do you get out of it?

FREEBIES!!!!

Well…..sort of. You have to earn the rewards as payment for a job well done. Basically, the more kids that book with me, the more goodies you get.

How does it work?

You need to apply to be a senior representative. Once you are chosen we get together in April or May for your portrait session. That session is all about you and what you want to accomplish with your senior pictures. Creativity is a must! At this time you will be responsible for a $75 session fee which is earned back with three referrals and will be applied to your print order. Why a fee? Well, history has taught me that kids need a little incentive to get out there and get the referrals. And, well, if you don’t, I still need to be compensated for my time. Being a senior representative is much like a job. You do your job, I pay you.

After your session we will work together to choose the best to put in your 4×6 brag book. Then, you get your brag book and a set of personalized referral cards to hand out to your peers. You need to show them the pictures in your book and convince them to book their senior portraits with me.

You will also be required to have one of your senior images as your Facebook or MySpace avatar until December of your senior year.  One FREE unwatermarked image will be given to you to use.

You will be asked to not represent another studio during your time as a senior representative for Panther Photography. You will also be expected to not seek additional senior portraits at another studio. Basically, Panther Photography will be the only supplier of your senior pictures.

I also will help you to keep up with any promotions I am running and expect you to inform your peers any way you can to take advantage of them.

I also use your images on my marketing materials, Facebook, and website.

We will do your session when it’s convenient for you. When you’re ready to order, we will meet to see the proofs of your session and place your order. I’ll total up the referrals and you can choose your gifts at the end of your senior year.

That’s it!  Easy, right?

So, how about those freebies?

Well…..each referral earns you $25 print credit OR 16 wallets. Remember, at 3 paid referrals you earn a FREE Budget Portrait Package! Or, you can choose a gift if you’re not interested in print credit!

And the gifts….well…they will be awesome!

I’m offering tons of stuff, including gift cards to some really cool places!  I’ll have more details and more choices on this later.  Some other possibilities may include tanning and massage packages, electronics, and more!  I’ll let you pick where you want to get your gift card so you can pick your favorite store.

Your choices…..

  1. Bullet1 referral: You get to keep your brag book!
  2. Bullet2 referrals: FREE 2nd Facebook Image
  3. Bullet3 referrals: FREE Budget Package or $25 cash/Visa gift card!
  4. Bullet4 referrals: FREE DVD movie of all senior images!
  5. Bullet5 referrals: $35 cash/Visa gift card!
  6. Bullet6 referrals: FREE Mill Creek Package or $50 cash/Visa gift card!
  7. Bullet7 referrals: FREE 25 Graduation Announcement Cards
  8. Bullet8 referrals: $75 cash/Visa gift card!
  9. Bullet9 referrals: FREE 50 Graduation Announcement Cards
  10. Bullet10 referrals: $100 cash/Visa gift card!
  11. Bullet$50 cash/Visa gift card for each referral after 10!
  12. Bullet15 referrals: Free iPad 16GB WIFI or iPod Touch 16 GB!

Get your class to book me for prom and get credit for 2 referrals!

Refer a model to me from a non-covered school and get credit for 2 more referrals.

*  This program is used with permission from rfp Studio (http://rfpstudio.com/information/).  Referrals are other seniors you send to me who order their senior portraits through me.  They must not only take their pics with me, but have place a paid-in-full order.  Just handing out your cards do not constitute a referral.

District Basketball Tournament

Here are some random shots from last week’s district tournament.  Unfortunately, the Sheridan girls lost out in their first two games, but they certainly played well.  The Sheridan boys finished fourth in the conference and have moved on to the divisional tournament this week.  Twin Bridges did well; the boys finishing second and the girls finishing third.  Ennis also performed quite well.  The boys got third place and the girls got second place.  The Harrison girls won first place, but I didn’t get any pics of them.  Enjoy!  I may add more at a later date.

 

Download Free PS Action From MCP!

MCP Actions is a great resource to get some very awesome actions for Photoshop!  MCP is run by Jodi Friedman.  If you want to improve your photos and processing workflow, MCP Actions is the place to go!

I’ve downloaded a number of their actions and have found them to be absolutely wonderful!  There are two that I use all the time: her Facebook actions and her High Definition Sharpening.  Other actions I have and use are: Touch of Light, Touch of Darkness, and the one I just downloaded, Mini-Fusion.

You can download the Mini-Fusion action from MCP now for free!  It is a small preview of their upcoming Fusion action set that is due to be released in March.  Here is a little bit about Mini-Fusion from the MCP blog:

“With just one click, you can inject new life into your photos and enjoy stunning color conversions. Optional tints and exposure fix layers let you customize your images to get the look you want. Download this action in one of two ways: from the MCP Facebook Page (“Exclusive” button under the profile image) or from our website.”

If you use Photoshop and want some valuable resources to help improve your post processing, then MCP Actions is the way to go!

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