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Friday, February 26, 2010


Today's Q&A will be coming from a question I get over and over from clients. And it's this:

Why does custom photography cost so much?
This question comes in various forms ("I love your work, but I can't really afford your prices, can you cut me a deal?" or "Why do you charge that much when I can go to (insert chain store here) and get it for so much cheaper?" or "My neighbor just got a nice camera and will do my whole session and give me the entire CD for $50, why can't you do that?"). Yes, these are all questions I've been asked, and on more than one occasion.

I realize we live in a land of DIY'ers, bargain hunters, and a lot of SAHMs that want to earn a little on the side. I recognize this completely. I like a bargain as much as the next guy. But I also understand that I can't do everything myself (I'm terrible at painting the walls in my house, making beautiful birthday cakes, or fixing my own car, for instance), so I enlist the help of or hire people that will do a better job than I ever could. I recognize the value that comes in this.

I believe that the people asking these questions are simply uneducated in custom photography, and don't fully realize (maybe because they do have a neighbor with a nice camera willing to do their pictures for $50) that running a legitimate business is costly. It takes both time and money. Here is a very low-level overview of just a few of my expenses:
-Cameras ($2500 or more each)
-Good lenses ($1300 or more each)
-Lighting equipment (in the thousands already)
-Education, workshops, seminars
-Business licenses, etc.
-Editing software, including new updates when I update my equipment (in the hundreds to thousands)
-Professional memberships in organizations such as PPA and WPPI
-Wear and tear on my vehicle
-Time away from MY four beautiful children and my spouse, and my home, and all that comes with that.

And the list goes on. The time is not simply when I show up and when I finish shooting. It takes me time to prepare for a session, time to get there and back, time to edit and prepare a gallery, time to process your orders, submit them to my professional lab, and prepare them once I receive them. It take me time to deliver them as well.

But I do it because I love it, AND because I want to be successful. And I can't be successful if I don't take my business seriously. And I have to expect my clients to take it seriously as well. I know custom photography is an investment, but that investment gives you so much more than simply an employee-for-hire that has learned to push a button. This gives me a big opportunity to give you good customer service, to cater the session to your wants and desires, to offer you a piece of my heart in the way that I see you and the way that I see the world. My time is YOUR time and I work very hard to give you images that you'll be pleased with.

There is some excellent reading out there on this subject, if you are really interested in learning more. You can read more about custom photography here, here and here.

I hope this sheds a little light on why I charge what I do. I charge much less in Utah than I'd be able to charge in other states, because that's how the market is here. But I charge what I do because there are people that value what I do and are willing to make the investment. I am so grateful for the wonderful clients I have had, the return clients make me feel absolutely amazing because I know they appreciate what I give them. The referrals warm my heart to no end.

I know that there are some people that appreciate custom photography, but simply cannot afford it. I offer a couple of sales a year, so watch for those! Mini sessions are a great opportunity to take advantage of custom photography for a reasonable price. You can also earn a complimentary mini session with portrait parties.

Thanks for sending your questions in! Next week we're talking about sunflare, so be sure to come back! And if you are interested in having me answer any questions you have, please feel free to email me at joannataylorphotography at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Amber and Jim| Utah Wedding Photographer

Everyone has a story. Each one of us. And Amber and Jim have a beautiful, personal story that brought tears to my eyes when she told it to me. All I can say is that sometimes it takes a long time for us to find our soul mates. The one person that can make us better people. The person that can love us in healthy ways; give us hope and butterflies and help us define all the good parts of who we are. That long time doesn't have to be in years; it can be in life experiences. A lot of good and bad ones that make us SEE, truly see, when we finally meet him/her. We know. And it's up to us to grab that goodness, in spite of fear, and make the most of our lives. And that's exactly what Amber and Jim decided to do when they got married.

It was a gorgeous fall day. Amber looked amazing (no surprise, did you see her bridals?)

She was adorably excited to sneak a peek at her man as he arrived.

And the guests were seated and it was time to change their lives.

And then he saw her, and he turned his head back and whispered, "Wow..." to himself.

And something a little vintage-y from me:

If you are interested in having me shoot your wedding, contact me now. My dates are filling up quickly for the year!

Salt Lake City Wedding Photography

Monday, February 22, 2010


I've had a rash of different emotions lately. This tends to happen when I have a lot going on, and right now I do. It's the little things (every day life with 4 kids, running from one thing to the next, what seems to be a constant round of illness with one that passes to the next, and so on), and the potential of some big things going on in my life.

I'm not immune from stress, or even an occasional day of depression. I've been thinking a lot the last few days about two important people in my life that have moved on. First, my brother and second, my brother-in-law (and dear friend). Both committed suicide. Today I happened to hear a song that I have associated with my brother-in-law from the time he passed away, almost six years ago. It seemed that I heard this song everywhere when he died and it's always, for whatever reason, made me feel like he was near. You can listen to it here. (click on play)

And I thought it was a funny coincidence that he'd been on my mind lately.

But then I got a phone call from one of my brothers, telling me to get on FB to look at something. And on his profile, I saw the video that our other brother (I have three) put together of my little brother, Jacob, who passed away seven years ago in June.

Every time I watch this video I laugh and I cry, because this is who Jacob was. And I'm so grateful I have this to remember him. To remember who he was and the beauty he saw in life.

I don't begrudge my brothers for their choices. I can't even pretend to understand where they were emotionally to do this. I know some people call suicide selfish, but in my mind it's so much more complicated than that. But this post is not about that hot-button issue. My hope that what you take from this post is this:

It's too easy to be immune to the things happening in our lives.
It's too easy to give up because something is challenging or hard.
It's too easy to close off.
But don't.
Don't be immune to life.
Feel it with all of you.
Realize that you are important. You are incredible. What you feel matters.
And feel it with all of your heart.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Go ahead, call me a loser. I deserve it. I never got around to doing Q&A last week. I know! And I'm sorry, m'kay?

Onto those Q&A's:

How do you get consistent exposure? It seems like I'm always underexposing my images. Let me let you in on a little secret: I used to consistently underexpose my images by 1/3 a stop, and I still do sometimes. But this question, though it seems simple, can actually have a very detailed answer. Today I'm going to give you the Reader's Digest version (who here actually reads Reader's Digest, because I'm telling you, it rocks...especially the joke section. My MIL who lives with me gets it, and I steal it sometimes...shhh). Okay, so first of all, if you are new to photography a very easy way to start understanding how to expose your images is to turn your camera on auto. Yes, I said auto. Take a picture. What were the settings? Is the image exposed properly? If so, that's a good place to start. If not, that's also a good place to start. Assuming you understand what I mean by good exposure (no blown highlights or shadows so deep they've lost detail), you can now put your camera in manual, choose the settings that you were shown in auto, and tweak them from there to achieve better exposure.
Now, another good place to start (and often the way I begin my exposure) is by throwing that camera into manual, and looking into the viewfinder. I use Canon, so I'm familiar with that, but my Pentax was very similar, and I'm assuming most low-mid level DSLRs are the same. When you look into the viewfinder turn your little eye around and around until you see something that looks like this:

or like this:

You see the line in the middle? That's usually where you want to be. You see how on each of these there is one side that reads negative and one that reads positive? Well, by changing your dials around, you'll be changing your exposure to overexpose or underexpose from center. Generally lining your cursor up at the mid point gives you a reasonable exposure; however, this does not always give you a perfect exposure. This can even change if you change your metering options change (if you want more info on metering how to and options, let me know). Some cameras consistently underexpose when exposing to the center line, WHICH MEANS, it's up to YOU to change the exposure (overexpose) to get the perfect exposure.
Now, every lighting scenario is different. I shoot my exposure differently depending on if I'm in full sun, shade, a dark alley, a field of grass, overcast skies, or with external lighting equipment. This part of the subject delves much deeper, but one book I always recommend is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.

Okay, that's all I've got time for today, folks, but keep those questions coming! I'm getting a great list of questions going and I hope to put up a few each week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


May is (almost) completely booked. I may let one more person take a spot. A few spots left in June and July. If you were engaged over Valentine's Day, sign up now! I have an INCREDIBLE prize for the next couple to put down their retainer (and some consolations prizes too)! And don't forget to refer your friends, because you'll get a prize too! Contact me for details!

And because a post is always better with a picture, here's a sneak peek of the beautiful wedding I'll be posting very soon....

Utah Weddings

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wedding Accessories

Two posts in one day? Yes. I can't help myself. I think I'm in love! Will one of you please purchase this little beauty and wear it at your wedding? Find it on etsy here! (I did not take this picture)

And if you know anyone that got engaged over Valentine's weekend, send them my way! I have a special gift for both of you if they sign a wedding contract.

Baby K | Utah Newborn Photographer

Remember this adorable family? Well, they had their sweet little babe and I was lucky to photograph her in the new studio. She was a perfect angel for me, and newborns are one of my all-time favorite subjects to photograph.

I also got to try out some new hats from a friend that is another local photographer, but also crochets. She made some dang cute stuff. Photogs out there, if you are interested, check out her etsy shop here! She has all sorts of goodies! And moms, check her out too...her stuff is adorable!

Utah Newborn Photography

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't forget!

Tomorrow is Q&A Friday, so don't forget to send me your questions!

And because I always like a post better with a picture, here's a sneak peek of a recent session.

Utah Newborn Photographer

Monday, February 8, 2010


I woke up very early this morning. It was 4:30 and I thought I heard one of the kids calling out "Dad....Dad" over and over again. When I realized it wasn't one of my kids, I also noticed there was this clicking. In fact several small clicks followed by a "whaaa". I figured it must be a bird right outside my window. While excited that it meant spring really is around the corner, I was very annoyed, because by now I couldn't get to sleep. I don't fall asleep easily and if I'm woken, I don't fall back asleep easily. Exasperation!!! Well, I finally fell back to sleep and woke for the daily grind around 7. After getting my oldest off to school, showered, and breakfast ready for the rest, I ran to my computer to load the images off of my camera from the newborn session I had this weekend. It was then that I realized my computer was the bird, and my hard-drive was dying; a slow and painful(ly loud) death. Sigh....Needless to say I won't be able to check my email during the day. I will have access in the evening when I can mooch off of my husband's work laptop, but until then, if you need me, please be patient with my response. I'm going to try and get my computer fixed in the next day or two. I will also be available by phone. 801.414.8720.

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Getting married this spring?

Book Joanna Taylor Photography now. May is almost completely booked! I'm really looking forward to all the weddings this year!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On today's playlist

I'm cleaning the house this morning and this is on my playlist. Enjoy!

(Random fact: I've always to learn how to play the cello.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Campbell Family | Utah Family Photographer

I had the special honor of participating in some auctions last year to raise money for some really important causes.

The Campbell family won one of the auctions, and I couldn't have been happier. They were such a fabulous family to work with, and I got along with them instantly, just like they were old friends. Their two beautiful children won a place in my heart right away, and I bet you can see just how endearing they are, can't you? The family was so easy to photograph on this gorgeous fall day...doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Thanks you guys, for donating to such a wonderful cause. I know you helped to support a family in great need of it. The obstacles facing them were huge, but as you know, it was completely worth it. I'm certain that they felt your love in so many ways.

Utah Family Photography