(Fair warning, this post is going to deviate from professional and dive right into the personal for once. If you are okay with that merging of things, and a very looong blog post, please feel free to read on!)
Hey guys. Long time, no chat! You may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet over here on the blog and on the business page for a little while now. Behind the scenes, we have been working to edit up the weddings and sessions we have waiting in the queue, and juggling some of our own things personally. And, of course, raising two cute little girls … and growing a new baby boy. 🙂 All in a day’s work, right?!
Wow, are we thankful for the year that was 2014. We moved! That had been a long time coming – and it really feels good to have that behind us. After the chaos that comes with selling a home, we purchased a new one in Rockford (just north of Grand Rapids), and it has been hands down the best decision we have ever made for our family.
Technically speaking, this was our very first full wedding season of our careers. As you can imagine, that does not come without growing pains – there were many, and lots of lessons learned on our end about business, how important policies are to protect you and us, family, balance, and caring for ourselves in the midst of it all. Many of you know this, but many of you do not: you see, the work does not end when we finish shooting your session or your wedding day. Oh no, my friends! 🙂 In fact, the work has just begun. For us, it is a tedious and meticulous process to cull through hundreds (and hundreds!) of images to select the very best ones from your day, process them in the way that you have come to expect from HCP (this is not a quick task – it is a multi-step process), upload high-resolution files to your gallery, and deliver them to you.
I know a lot of photographers would disagree with me, but as involved as it is, the post processing portion is one of my favorite parts of the job. It is so neat to take an image and breathe life into it through the editing software we use. To us, it is worth the time spent to lend extra dimension and color and detail to your photos. Those are the ones that will be adorning the walls of your homes, after all, or displayed in your albums or coffee table books for sharing with your friends and families for years to come. It is worth it to us to spend the time making them as beautiful as we possibly can.
Of course, there are commitments to other clients, as well, as we do lots of portraiture at HCP, too. While we are churning weddings out as quickly as we can, we are also working on and delivering sessions for newborn clients, families, children, seniors, Boudoir (my favorite!) … etc. It is the way we keep the wheels of our (very small) business running. I say “we,” because Joe is a huge component of the wedding portion of HCP. But beyond that day of shooting, it’s actually a one-woman show on the business side of life – editing, answering emails, managing the calendar, meeting with clients, handling paperwork, maintaining gear. All that good stuff! 🙂
And as I mentioned, we are raising two little girls in the midst of it. You guys, these kiddos are so cool! Always, always, always, they have been my favorite and most important “job.” My oldest daughter is in school now, and my youngest daughter is home with me for one more year before she heads off to Pre-K. It’s really crazy to think we are about to send her off to school for … basically the rest of her formative years, minus summers and holiday breaks. Anyway, while I am working the nights away? You guessed it: Joe puts on his cape and plays SuperDad to two cute and very high-energy little girls – reading books, giving baths, wiping noses (and other things!), 😉 often handling dinner and household maintenance. I’m telling you guys – he is incredible. I could not juggle everything without him. No way, José.
I don’t know what has been up with this year, but it seems like we had SO. MUCH. SICKNESS. running through our house from the end of summer up until now. Has anyone else’s family experienced that?! Nasty colds that just linger…and linger…and linger (primarily for Joe and our girls – which of course resulted in missed days of school for them/work for me). On my end, you can chalk the sickness up to good old pregnancy hormones – not always a walk in the park, but oh-so-worth it when we finally get to meet this little guy! In addition, my weakened preggo immune system earned me a sweet case of adult chicken pox for a few weeks during Thanksgiving (I wouldn’t wish those on my least favorite person on Earth) … and then we spent 3 days back and forth from the hospital with preterm labor concerns at 27 weeks gestation (things seem to be stable at present time, but are being watched closely by our doctors) … and then I went and broke my foot! I can’t make this stuff up, you guys; I fell down two tiny little steps in my garage. And honestly, it was more like one step and a small ledge. Pretty silly, no? The last 4 weeks have been kind of unreal, but we’re in a place where we are just kind of laughing at the sudden bad luck and timing. I mean, what else can you do, right?! We’re all (mostly) healthy now, this baby is still safe and sound in my tummy where he should be, and crutches in pregnancy are no fun, but hey – they are temporary.
I am still working away at our last few weddings, and will not be booking anything more until at least late May of 2015. Consider that maternity leave, I suppose.
Hands down, the hardest thing about 2014 was the realization that due to pregnancy concerns and now an injury, I would be physically unable to shoot the very last wedding on our books for the year. We would NEVER DREAM of bailing on a commitment to a client. It is just not an option. We know how important a person’s wedding day is, and how important it is for clients be able to trust vendors to provide what they have agreed to provide. We have shot through sickness and injury, and we will do it again, because that is what you do when you have made a commitment, and it is just the job. To have to confront the fact that this time, things are different, that I would be putting this little person in danger if I chose to move forward and shoot this wedding, was pretty devastating. The sweet bride and groom have been extremely gracious and understanding about it all, despite a huge part of their day having to change last-minute, and for that, I am grateful. I would have totally understood if there had been tears and anger initially. Think about all that goes into planning a wedding. Lots of planning, lots of money, lots of stress – and last minute, your photographer calls you to say, “Sorry … I know we have been planning this for a year, but I won’t be there.” I can imagine the panic that would ignite for any normal person and instead, my amazing bride said to me, “I am so disappointed you cannot be there, but in the scheme of life, I understand that it is what you need to do for that baby.” Not even a split second of “how could you do this to me?” I can’t express how humbling it is to be on the receiving end of that kind of grace, my friends.
All these words, all this backstory, and is there a point? Absolutely.
Next year is going to look a little different for HCP. 2014 was awesome in many ways. But if we are being fully honest … it almost did me in. It was WORK. Not just with respect to HCP, but because of all the crazy (and mostly good!) changes we experienced this year, too. It was missing my family, and them missing me. It was sacrificing a lot of together time in lieu of computer time, meetings, sessions, and never being fully present even when we were together, because I knew I had clients relying on me for this thing or that thing, and I promised it to them. I don’t take my commitments lightly, and disappointing people (clients or family!), even if it is beyond my control, just. kills. me.
Beginning January 1, prices will be increasing. This means any bookings coming through on or after January 1 will be subject to new pricing, without exception. Here’s a brief breakdown:
- Sitting fee for standard portrait sessions (child, family, senior, headshots):
- Individual digital files:
- Collection of digital files:
- Print prices: beginning at
With that being said, we do offer gift cards, and you are welcome to purchase a session NOW, at our current rates, to use in 2015. Bear in mind that we are booking 6 months out at present time if you decide to go ahead and secure your session. There is almost zero wiggle room in that.
We have scaled back the number of weddings we will be shooting and are at capacity for 2015 already, so nothing will change there until it is time to look at rates for 2016.
I will not be shooting newborns in 2015. I do have a specific couple of skilled and talented friends in the industry to whom I am happy to refer you, though. Please don’t hesitate to ask!
Finally, it’s become apparent that I am no longer able to offer discounted sessions (nor the very occasional free session) for friends and family at this stage. I hate to say that, because it’s always been my pleasure to get to treat those closest to us as the calendar has allowed. (It is way easier to put those words in a blog post for all to see than to have to say that to the face of the person asking, so here it will be on record!) The truth is that if I could do every single thing in this business for free, whether it is for a friend or a stranger, I would – I really do love this job with all my heart, and of course, I love our friends and family with all my heart. We are just not in a place anymore in terms of time to be able to offer that. As I mentioned, I am about to send my second daughter off to school next year for pretty much the rest of her formative years, and it makes me realize that this time is so precious to me. Friends and family, I hope you will understand if you ever inquire about our rates and are directed to my website, where all our information is displayed!
Whew! Now that all that heavy stuff is out of the way, please enjoy the tiniest snippet of highlights from this year below. I can’t thank you guys enough for the support you’ve given to us across the last (almost) 4 years to help HCP grow into an actual, thriving, sustainable business as opposed to the dream it was a few short years ago. There is literally no way this could have been without you. In some ways, we are in this thing together, aren’t we?