The Best Time to Get Your Online Dating Photos Taken, Is Right Now

married hands

At least a few times a year, clients who’ve booked me for a portrait session for online dating photos, paid their deposit and set a date, will call or email to ‘postpone’ right before their session. Of course you don’t want to get your picture taken if you’ve just had a root canal, or broken your leg, or had a horrible haircut. But those are rarely the type of excuses I hear.

Inevitably, the reasons they give are always the same. “I want to wait until I lose 10 more pounds.” “I want to wait until I can buy some nicer clothes.” “I want to wait until my skin looks better.” “I want to wait until my hair is longer.” And so on.

What every single one of those people is actually saying, is that they’re feeling very insecure and – now that putting themselves ‘out there’ is about to be a reality – they’re very afraid. I completely and totally understand and sympathise. The thing is though, in most cases, I never hear from them again.

Because for most of those people, there will never be a day when they believe they look attractive enough, or feel confident enough. They have a vision of perfection for themselves and they don’t think anyone will want them unless/until they reach that unrealistic vision.

We all have unreasonable expectations for ourselves and we all have areas of insecurity. It’s part of the experience of simply being human. But when we allow our fears and our lack of self-confidence to stop us from pursuing a happier life, we end up unhappy and lonely more often than not.

It takes a great deal of courage to try online dating. I’ve photographed hundreds of people for their online dating profiles and I admire each of them.

One of my favourite things about being a photographer, is when those clients who do follow through on their sessions, get in touch with me again, to tell me they met someone wonderful. I’ve photographed the weddings of clients who hired me originally for their dating profile photos. And I’ve even photographed family portraits a few years later, with their spouses and children.

To clarify, it’s not because of the photos I took of those clients – although photos are definitely a factor – that they met a partner through online dating. It’s because they were brave and they pushed through the insecurities that plague us all.

A part of that process, was getting some great photos taken of themselves, just as they are. If you want to change your life and take the chance of meeting someone who makes you happy, because they like you just as you are… The perfect, ‘best’ time to get your photos taken, is right now.

Tamea Burd is a Vancouver photographer who specializes in portraits, online dating profile photos, headshots, corporate and wedding photography. Her website: www.tameaburdphotography.com

3 Crucial Wedding Photography No-No’s

keep-calm-and-marry-on

You’ve no doubt been reading articles and speaking with people (including your photographer) about all of the things you need to or should do on the day of your wedding. But there are also some key things not to do

1: Don’t rush though the important things. This includes your posed photos of course, but it also includes dinner. Weddings rarely run exactly as scheduled and you may find that you’re a bit behind. If you’re concerned about your photography going past the time you originally booked for, don’t try to speed through your posed photos or your dinner. (Keep in mind that your guests have all been waiting patiently to eat for several hours.)

Yes, you will have to pay your photographer for the additional time, but it most likely will only be another 30 to 60 minutes. If you’re stressing about it, ask yourself what’s worth more… Rushing your photos and rushing your guests through dinner? Or paying a little extra to ensure that your photos are perfect and that everyone attending your wedding gets to enjoy being there and to enjoy the meal you provided?

2: Stylists, Event and/or Wedding Coordinators should not be present during your posed photos. It’s essential for you to ensure that your photographer to is able do their job as well as they can, without being impeded. For some perspective on this, imagine you’re at work and someone is looking over your shoulder the entire time, although it’s vital to your task that you be unsupervised. To make matters worse, they’re interrupting you, slowing you down, and offering their opinion of how you should do your job, even though they have very little idea of what it is that you do. Could you work like that – let alone do your best?

Onlookers who are not in the photos, are a serious impediment to your photographer being able work properly and as quickly as possible. For the people getting their pictures taken, having an audience makes it impossible to feel comfortable and not self-conscious. All of which will poorly affect the quality of your photos. Also, stylists and coordinators will often feel it’s their business to offer suggestions and advice to your photographer or to you, which is actually the opposite of helpful.

3: Don’t disagree or be ungracious when your photographer tells you it’s time for a quick break. Assuming your photographer is a professional, they will know when it’s appropriate to take a few minutes, for their sake and for yours. You should expect and encourage them to take ten minutes every two hours or so.

Remember, they’re carrying a heavy bag of equipment and a heavy camera in their hands constantly, while having to be energetic and friendly with every single person at your wedding, all day long. Unlike almost any other job, your photographer doesn’t get to take a half hour for lunch or a few moments to themselves, or even visit the washroom whenever they need to. They’re working intensely and pretty much non-stop from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave.

In order to do their job properly and well, your photographer really needs to rest and recharge every once in a while. Pushing them to the point of exhaustion is not going to result in good photos or good feelings for anybody. When they tell you a break is needed, it’s because it’s necessary. Be gracious and don’t argue about it.

One final thing to think about: After your wedding is over, your photographer still has literally weeks of work to do, editing and retouching your pictures. They have to look at and work on hundreds – often thousands – of images of your face, over and over again. If your photographer had a difficult or unpleasant experience at your wedding or with you, it could negatively affect the amount of effort, time and care they’ll put into working on your photos.

Paying attention to these important ‘Don’ts’ on your wedding day, makes all the difference to the quality of your wedding photos, not just on the day of, but afterwards as well.

Tamea Burd is a Vancouver photographer who specializes in portraits, headshots, corporate and wedding photography.

How to Enjoy Having Your Photo Taken. Yes, Even You!

photona

Many people feel a genuine dread when the cameras come out, but having your picture taken is almost inevitable in life. Either at social functions, family get-togethers or business pictures at the office, eventually someone is going to take a photo of you.

A large percentage of my clients begin their photography session by saying “I hate having my photo taken”. They quickly follow with some disparaging remark about themselves. “I look awful in every picture.” “I’m not photogenic at all.” Not one of those statements is true…

The reason people (I’ve really loathed some bad shots taken of me too, believe me) think they look terrible in photographs, is because they think they look terrible in photographs. No, not a typo. Thinking you look unattractive, automatically affects your posture, your body language, your facial expression and the look in your eyes.

Of course there are times when your photo is taken at the exact wrong moment, when your mouth is half open, your eyes are in mid-blink and you’re doing something blurry and odd looking with your hands. But that has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with poor timing on the part of the photographer. They just snap a shot almost randomly and don’t think about what they’re doing.  We all have friends and family members who take really bad photos of people. That’s about their lack of skill, not about how we actually look.

Getting past your photo-phobia:

The first step: Remember that taking a good picture of someone, is a two-person effort. If you’ve got someone in your life who takes many unflattering shots of you, you can quite easily ‘train’ them to do a better job. Either ask them to count to three first, or simply ask them to wait until you’re ready. If they don’t, then turn away from the camera. You’re not obligated to let them take a bad photo of you!

The second step:  Re-think the way you physically react when you’re in front of a camera. If you hunch your body, tense your muscles and get a glazed, stiff look on your face, then of course you’re going to look awful. So make yourself relax. Breathe. Seriously, focus on taking deep, slow breaths. Your posture will instantly improve and your facial expression will be natural and calm.

The third step: Don’t think you have to smile, because you don’t. There is nothing worse than an obviously false, frozen smile. It makes most people look completely insincere at best and slightly insane at worst. That said, don’t hold a smile back either. Trust me, you have a beautiful smile. Everyone does. Everyone. Do you ever look at a photo of someone really smiling and think ‘They look hideous.’? Of course you don’t. And nobody will think that about you either.

The fourth step: If or when a professional photographer is taking your photo, trust them. We know what we’re doing. Help us. Help us to help you! Instead of feeling resentful and insecure, think about the fact that a huge part of our job, is to make you look good. We’re going to do our best to get the most flattering photos possible. When you trust us, we’re able to make you look wonderful.

The fifth, final, and most important step: Be in the moment, not in the photo. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it makes all the difference in the world. Stop thinking ‘my picture is being taken, my picture is being taken’, and instead think about where you are and who you’re with.

  • A family reunion? Think about how much you love (at least some of) the people around you.
  • A wedding? Think about how happy you are for the married couple. If that doesn’t work, think about how happy you are to get free food and beverages.
  • On a trip? Don’t think ‘This is me posing in front of the Eiffel Tower’. Do think ‘I’m in Paris! Right this moment, I’m in Paris!’

In all my years of being a photographer, not once have I taken a terrible photo of someone who is in the moment, relaxed, breathing and smiling naturally. We look good when we feel good. It’s a cliche because it’s true.

Tamea Burd is a Vancouver photographer who specializes in portraits, headshots, corporate and wedding photography.

5 Tips for Your Family Portrait Photography Session

Tamea Burd is a professional photographer based in Vancouver, BC. She specializes in family portraits, portraits, headshots, corporate headshots and wedding photography. Her website: Tamea Burd Photography

When you’ve hired a professional photographer to take family portraits, it’s important that everyone has a good time and enjoys the experience of having their photos taken. The happier everyone feels, the better your photos will be.

Here are five simple things you can do to make sure your family portrait session is a really good one…

1 - Communicate beforehand. Sounds obvious, but it isn’t always something people remember to do before a photo session. Because your photos are going to be shared with everyone in your family, its a good idea to be really clear on exactly what everyone’s requests, requirements and expectations will be.

2 –  Make a list in advance, of all the different combinations of photos you’d like to have. (For example: Grandparents with grandkids, cousins together, siblings together, etc.) Especially for bigger families, this is a must. Be sure to have the list with you at your session.

3 -  Do a little bit of co-ordination about clothing choices before-hand.  Unless you want to, nobody has to match, but you generally don’t want just one or two people wearing really bright colors if everyone else is in more muted tones or if everyone else is wearing black or white.

So it’s best that either everyone wears bright colors, or nobody does. Also, everyone should avoid clothing with really bold patterns or logos, as those really distract from everyone else in the photo.

4 -  If your portrait session is at a location away from your home, be sure to bring some supplies.  Water or juice to drink, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, hand-wipes, and any makeup or hairstyling tools you might need.

5 –  When planning your location, always be sure to have a back-up choice in case of weather. Many family portrait sessions take place to commemorate a special occasion or a reunion. Which means that rescheduling isn’t always an option. So just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate, always have an indoor choice as well as an outdoor one.

One final bit of advice… Have fun! Truly, getting your family all together for pictures is a happy event. There’s really no need to stress or feel uncomfortable about it, just relax, trust your photographer, enjoy yourselves and your pictures will turn out beautifully.

Why you’ll never see a Facebook ‘Like’ button or a Google +1 button on my website…

Anyone who maintains (or even owns) a business website, knows that having social media buttons on their home page, is an increasingly important factor in page ranking and search engine results.

Meaning that the more Facebook ‘likes’ and Google +1 clicks your website has, the more likely it is to show up on the first few pages of search results. Which is crucial to the survival of most businesses these days.

I get that, believe me. And I realize that choosing not to have either of those options on my website, is having a fairly negative effect on my website’s search engine rankings. But crucial thought it may be, I still won’t add those damn buttons and never will. Call me old fashioned, I firmly believe that benefiting myself at the expense of others is very, very wrong.

How does a simple thing like a social media button equate to a complete breakdown of ethics, basic human decency and respect for our fellow humans?

Here’s how…

As has been clearly and repeatedly documented, visiting any website that has a Facebook ‘Like’ button, automatically sends your browsing activity information TO Facebook. Yep, even if you didn’t click their disingenuous little button. Simply visiting a page that has it on there, instantly violates your privacy. Nope, you don’t even need to be signed in to Facebook at the time.

That seemingly innocuous little button, all blue and white and friendly looking, with the happy little ‘thumbs up’ logo, is in fact, a total bastard.

As is the brightly colored, peppy looking Google +1 button. For the very same reasons.

When business owners, artists, writers, photographers, etc. choose to put a Facebook ‘Like’ button or a Google +1 button on our websites, we’re complicit in giving away the privacy of every single person who views our web pages. Those cute little buttons allow those not-so-cute little companies to track each person who visits our site. Even if the person doesn’t have Facebook or Google+ accounts.

When you go to a website that has those buttons in place, sneaky little tracking cookies invisibly start working in your browser. Those cookies are essentially spying on your internet activity, by telling ‘Big Cyber Twin Brothers’ about pretty much every website and web page you visit, your physical location at the time, what kind of computer you’re using, what web-browser you use, how long you were on each page of each website and even what links you clicked on each site.

All of this is done in most cases, without your knowledge or consent.

You might be thinking ‘I don’t have anything to hide about my internet habits, so why should I care?’ Here’s why…

Because privacy of all kinds is a basic and essential human right. It’s been valued and respected in all cultures since the dawn of human-kind. Yet millions of us are throwing it away every time we use the internet.

If we were being followed closely by a shady stranger every time we left the house, and we saw that stranger taking our photo and writing notes about the places we went, the movies we watched, the books we read, the friends we visited and the things we bought, we’d call the police, right?

How much more violated would we feel, if we found out that the notes and photos the stranger took of us, were being sold to corporations who were using that information to A: barrage us with ‘personalized’ advertising and B: occasionally use our likeness to sell their products to our friends and acquaintances?

All without our permission, our awareness, or any compensation whatsoever for the use of our personal information or the photos of our adorable little faces.

If that were happening in ‘real-life’, the shady stranger following us, would be arrested on sight. Most likely after getting the ass-kicking they would rightfully deserve. Then they’d be sued six ways to Sunday for all of the laws they’d broken and for the ‘emotional distress’ they’d caused by stalking and spying on us.

Yet here we are, blithely giving Facebook and Google the rights to do the same things that an actual person would be arrested, beaten up, sued and jailed for doing. How messed up is that?

As a business owner, I do have to use Google and Facebook to some degree. I have a Facebook page for my business and I make sure my website is up-to-date with Google’s SEO standards. I grudgingly accept this as inevitable fact. But with that understanding, I also do my best to minimize their intrusion in every possible way.

Instead of having their candy-coated poisonous little buttons on my site, I simply have an html link in my code, that directs you to my Facebook page. No cookies, no tracking, no heinous violations of your privacy simply to improve the visibility of my business.

Sure, it’s not the most savvy or progressive way to generate business for myself, but as I still do have the choice, I choose not to let Facebook and Google turn me into a colluding asshole drone in their world domination agenda.

That, my friends, is why you’ll never see a ‘Like’ button or ‘+1′ button on my website.

Tamea Burd is a Vancouver photographer who specializes in portraits, headshots, corporate and wedding photography.

Professional Photography: Cheap or Good. You Can’t Have Both.

It never fails to astound me when people inquiring about professional photography (wedding photography in particular), are shocked that the rate is much more than they’d expected. It’s not as though the cost to hire a professional photographer has suddenly skyrocketed. It’s not an inexpensive service, it never has been. Pretty much since the invention of the camera, professional photographers have had to charge a within a certain range in order to operate our business.

This pricing is to cover the costs of our equipment, our experience, our time and our operating costs, as well as the days and weeks of work involved in editing and processing the images we deliver to our clients. As with any specialized profession (particularly one that’s expensive to run and maintain) minimum wage is not an option.

Even after years of being in this business, I’m still astounded that so many people don’t realize what I assume is a commonly known fact. Professional photography isn’t cheap. It never has been. The fact is, most people don’t realize that, strange as it seems to me.  When I’m looking online to hire any kind of service provider or even just shopping online, the first thing I check is the price. Doesn’t everybody? And I – as most professional photographers do – list my starting prices on my website, on a very easy to find page called ‘pricing’.

You can almost always find a list of photography prices on a photographer’s website. If it’s not on a page called ‘pricing’, it will be on a page called ‘rates’, ‘services’, or ‘investment’. In fact, if a photographer doesn’t list their rates on their website, I personally recommend not wasting your time contacting them. Why hire someone who’s cagey about their prices? Instead, keep looking at other photographers who are more open and upfront about the cost.

As it’s easy and simple to find this information, why are so many photography clients taken completely aback?  Apparently a lot of people don’t bother to look at the pricing information available to them, they don’t comparison shop, they’ve done no research and they’ve already arbitrarily placed an unrealistically low value on this service before they begin making inquiries.

Here’s the thing. A conscientious photographer will always give a detailed response to an inquiry. Whether it’s on the phone or by email, the average inquiry takes at least twenty minutes to reply to. And the issue of price rarely comes up at the beginning. It’s not something we generally start off with, because there are several things we need to know before we can give you an accurate quote.

Maybe twenty minutes doesn’t seem like that much time, but when we’re responding to several inquiries a day, or a week, it adds up. So when we’ve given our time and energy to you (for free) to answer your questions, to get your details and to describe our services, it’s incredibly frustrating and irritating to be told ‘Oh, that’s much more than I expected’ when we do tell you our rates. If you have no idea what something costs, it’s going to save you time and effort in the long run if you simply take five or ten minutes to check the prices PRIOR to contacting professional service providers with your questions.

Here are two simple ways to save yourself some effort, time and sticker-shock:

1- Do some research before-hand. If you’re getting married, before you contact wedding photographers, take the time to educate yourself about what to expect. Ask married friends what they paid. Read wedding blogs, wedding magazines, wedding boards… If you do, you’ll quickly realize that a wedding photography budget of less than $1000 is wildly unrealistic, as is expecting to hire a photographer for two hours or less.

If you’re hiring a portrait, headshot or corporate photographer, take the time to comparison shop online. Check at least four or five local photographer’s websites and take note of the starting prices. They’ll generally all be within the same range and no, it’s not going to be as cheap as Sears Portrait Studio.

2- Always check the ‘rates’ or ‘services’ or ‘investment’ page BEFORE contacting a professional photographer. This will prevent you from wasting your time (and the photographer’s) if their rates are too far out of your price range.

If you find that all of the good photographers are ‘too expensive’, then you need to realize that you’re underestimating what professional photography is worth, and you’ll have to readjust your assessment of its value.

Finally, here is a breakdown of what it costs to hire a professional photographer…

As with most things, photography prices do vary. There are basically three tiers:

Tier one - The ridiculously low prices of hobby or amateur photographers: If someone is charging less than $200 to $300 per hour, or under $1000 for wedding photography, they are NOT a professional photographer. No grey area here, it’s that black and white.

I’ve written before about the many, many reasons why hiring an amateur or hobbyist photographer is almost inevitably a choice you will regret. It should be obvious that hiring a bargain basement photographer, will result in very poor quality equipment, poor quality services and poor quality images. When you hire the cheapest photographer you can find, you’re wasting your money instead of investing it.

Tier two - The average price of professional photographers in most major cities across North America: For portraits, headshots and corporate photography, rates range between $300 and $400 per hour. If your corporate photographer charges per person, average rates are between $100 and $175 per.

For professional wedding photography, the average starting range is between $1500 and $2000. That’s for four hours or less. For an eight hour wedding day, you’re looking at between $3000 and $4000. Remember, you aren’t just paying for the day your photographer shoots your wedding, you’re paying for the up to 60 hours they’ll be working on your images, not to mention all of the time they spent in communicating with you prior to your wedding.

Tier three – The high end prices of status photographers: These are the very well established professional photographers who are almost celebrities within their field or their local area. They can and do charge double and triple the price.

This is because there will always be people who want to pay a squillion dollars to wear designer labels. Those same people happily pay exorbitant prices to hire a status photographer. Starting prices these photographers charge for weddings are usually at least $8000. Portrait and headshot sessions are usually at least $800.

So there you have it. When it comes to professional photography, you can have cheap, or you can have good. You can’t have both.