Portrait Session FAQs

January 24, 2020

Hudson Valley PhotographerPortrait Session FAQs

What does the session fee include?
The session fee covers your photoshoot, online gallery that will hold approx. 50 edited images. Most sessions end up with 75+ to be honest! If it’s a good photo, it’ll be in your gallery! You’ll be able to download high resolution digital files to print and archive. You’ll also receive one of your favorite photos printed as a 5×7 mounted on styrene (foam board for fine art prints that prevents bending and warping over time) with a little handmade wooden block stand to display.

Am I able to download the photos from the online gallery?
Yes, the downloads from the gallery are for you to archive, share online and print.

Do you recommend specific online print services?
Sure do! Artifact uprising is the bomb.com and Nations Photo Lab is pretty good too. Let it be known, there is a huge difference when ordering photo products directly through your photographer, as the images are completely and fully retouched to perfection and sized appropriately for the best outcome!! I am the bridge to high quality, life-lasting photo products!

Will the downloads print well?
I guarantee great quality up to size 8×10. So they’re perfect for cards and small prints! Be sure to save them in a folder and always access that folder to upload to an online print service so you know you’re using a high quality version. Do not try to print screen shots. I HIGHLY recommend ordering prints and wall art from me to guarantee the best quality. Printing larger than 8×10 requires resizing with professional image manipulation! If you’re planning on displaying large prints in your home, you’re gonna wanna make sure they’re as perfect as they can be! Especially since you’ll be seeing them everyday! 

How long is the gallery online for?
Three weeks after you receive the gallery in your email. So it’s best to download the images when you receive the email!! I remove images from my Lightroom catalog after this time to allow the program to operate efficiency. Too many photos slow it down and we can’t have that now can we.

What if I don’t want to purchase an end product?
You’re not obligated to! You will receive one 5×7 print of your favorite photo. Keep in mind, I keep your gallery online for three weeks, after that I do not hold onto your images.

Why do you charge tax? Are you an insured business?
I am a fully legal and insured LLC in New York State. I have to charge a sales tax of 8% for the services I provide to my clients… I’m not tryin to mess around with the IRS!

Do you offer payment plans? How do you accept payment? Contract?
Sure do! Let’s talk! I accept payments online through an invoice (this is also the process for payment plans), cash or check. The client is responsible for bank fees if their check fails to deposit. Deposits are easily & quickly accepted online, although the above payment types are fine too. Keep in mind, I cannot guarantee your shoot date until I receive a deposit! Your remaining balance is due in full on our scheduled shoot date. I required clients to read through and sign a contract for all portrait sessions.

Clients can mail check or money order to:
Sweet Melissa Photography
269 Stone School House Road
Bloomingburg, NY 12721
Apt. 1

What kind of photo products do you offer?
Only the best and what I personally love. I offer gorgeous heirloom lay flat photo albums, fine art prints in modern frames, canvas.

What is a lay flat photo album?
A lay flat photo album is a type of photo book where the photos are printed directly onto thick pages. The pages lay flat when open to create a panoramic effect for the best display. In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful, well-made type of photo album available. These albums are meant to last a lifetime, to be passed down from generation. I only order from professional print companies (that aren’t available to the average individual) so this isn’t Shutterfly.
FYI: I include a complimentary crystal USB flash drive for safe archival with the purchase of an album!!

Can I order more prints?
Sure thing, I offer fine art print bundles. They make great gifts around the holidays!! And the best part is they’re mailed directly to your door.

Where do you shoot?
I shoot in client’s homes, on location or in my studio. I’m located in Bloomingburg, NY.

How do I know if my home is a good place to shoot?
If you have light, neutral colored walls with windows that let in adequate natural light, chances are I can make it work. I will more than likely always shoot by a window so if you think your home is a bit cluttered and there just won’t be enough space, send me pictures with your phone and we can make that decision together. If you live in a basement apartment, have dark walls without windows, I will encourage you to come to the studio. My style is light and airy and it’s important to me be to be able to maintain it with every portrait session I shoot!

What is your studio like?
My studio is a small 400 square foot space on a quiet commercial & residential property in Bloomingburg, NY. It has light colored walls and floors with a minimalistic design. I have a twin size bed, small couch, and changing table. It is a shoe free studio so please remember to wear white socks!! The only downside is there isn’t a bathroom in the space but clients are more than welcome to use my apartment bathroom (within walking distance). There is also a restaurant 2 minutes down the road with a restroom. But here is a before photo so you can get a peek at my overall style:

Why should I consider your portrait studio?
Depending on the season, I also shoot outside on the property. If you’ve been following my work, and unbeknownst to you, about half of the portraits were taken outside on the property. It’s pretty quiet without a ton of traffic and has a beautiful view of the mountains. It’s honestly kind of perfect!

Do you shoot all natural light in your studio?
I use a combination of natural & artificial light to create a natural light look. Somedays are rainy and overcast so that’s where the strobe light comes in handy!! My goal is to create soft, consistent lighting.

Are there specific locations you prefer to shoot?
Yes! I travel throughout the Hudson Valley for portrait sessions but here are a few of my favorite locations:
Lake Minnewaska
Mohonk Mountain House
Warwick Valley Winery
Village of Montgomery, Goshen, Warwick & New Paltz
Local farm stands, parks and rail trails

What if it rains on our shoot day?
For on location portrait sessions, we book two dates, one being a rain date. If the weather is overcast, we will shoot. If there’s rain in the forecast, we will reschedule.

What if my child is sick and I need to reschedule?
No problem! We will reschedule! Your deposit keeps you in my calendar. Rescheduled sessions must be completed within a year from the original shoot date.

Can I purchase RAW files?
Unfortunately no, I do not offer RAW files. If you’re choosing to work with me, you’re more than likely attracted to my style and I wouldn’t be maintaining my mission statement if I offered clients unfinished work. I put a great deal of time, love and effort into my images and it’s really important to me as a photographer that you receive the best possible final product.

Can my parents (grandparents) come to the portrait session?
YES! Absolutely. A portrait session is an opportunity to create loving memories to cherish for a lifetime and I can’t think of a better way to do that than gathering the people who mean the most to you.

Can I bring my dog to the portrait session?
YES! As long as your doggo is well-behaved, I’m all about it! But if you’re still working on training and you think it might cause everyone a bit of stress, you might want to think it through!  I recommend having a friend or family member to bring the dog in when needed and then bring the dog back home when we’re done to keep stress levels at a minimum.

Is there a time limit?
Heck no! My portrait sessions are meant to go at your family’s pace. Most portrait sessions take about an hour or two. If you’re thinking your vision might be an all day event, let’s talk!

What if my child doesn’t cooperate?
One thing you should know is I’ll never force a child to do anything they aren’t willing to do themselves. With that being said, if you know your toddler transforms into a monster when nap time is approaching, let’s plan the portrait session when they will be feeling their best! I have years of experience working with babies and children so I have a few tricks up my sleeve. I also come prepared with goldfish snacks, stickers and bubbles. From my experience, a child will usually come around eventually out of plain curiosity but especially when there is light hearted bribery and a fun activity involved. If you’re really concerned about this, let’s talk!!

What if I don’t like any of the photos?
LOL,  I’ve never had a client have this problem but I do want to add this question because I’m sure it’s on someone’s mind! If you’re not satisfied with the photos, I will happily offer you a reshoot! Because of my time and talent I put into my work, the session is nonrefundable.

What should we wear for the portrait session?
I personally love a combination of solid neutral colors and simple patterns. Neutral colors being white, tan, gray and earthy tones. I recommend avoiding bright colors, distracting patterns, text and logos of any kind. This means don’t let your husband wear his favorite under armor t-shirt or nike shirt that has a swoosh. Think about something a step up from your casual outfit, a little more timeless. Like a long floral flowy dress with ¾ length sleeves for mom, a charcoal gray button up with light blue jeans for dad, fitted pants & suspenders with a simple white shirt for baby boy and maybe a simple little white lace dress for baby girl. Brown chukka boots or boat shoes and flat sandals. Keep it simple and comfortable! And always, always reach out to me for help.

Can I bring multiple outfits to the portrait session?
Sure thing! Keep it limited to two because anymore than that can get a little complicated and your baby will appreciate being changed less.

Do you provide props?
I have a few neutral colored chairs, stools, boxes and baskets, but I don’t go crazy with themes & props. I actually use a small white couch and twin bed in my studio for posing and it works great! My goal is to keep the focus on you and your baby! I also have a selection of swaddles and blankets.

Can I bring props/ family heirlooms to the session?
Sure! But please check with me beforehand!!

When is a good time to shoot a maternity session? Newborn? Baby?
Maternity sessions are best scheduled sometime between 29 and 36 weeks. Newborns photograph best within the first 14 days from birth. As far as milestones, six months should be scheduled when your baby is sitting up successfully on their own, so if that’s closer to 7-9 months, that’s totally okay! For one year, it’s best to schedule portraits when your baby is standing up, but not quite running full speed yet, so if that happens to be closer to 14-18 months, again, totally okay! But like I said, whatever works best for you. I will photograph a baby anytime, any age, my goal is to capture memories and there are no rules for that. These are simply guidelines!

I don’t want to be in the photos… will you still photograph my baby?
Yes! Look, I understand motherhood comes with a ton of struggles. It’s not always a walk in the park. Do not beat yourself up if you’re just not comfortable with the idea. It’s OKAY! But I will still ask you to wear a neutral colored outfit like jeans and a white top. If your baby isn’t able to sit up yet on their own, I might need you to help pose them. Meaning your arms and your hands could be in the photos, but I will absolutely respect you not wanting to be in them. Keep in mind that with only one subject, the amount of photos you receive will be limited. There’s only so much variety I can create if there is no one else for your baby or child to connect with during the portrait session!

Do you offer professional hair and makeup?
Yes! I will send you contact info for makeup artists I highly recommend that incredible humans and have flexible scheduling.

Do you have a client closet?
I’m working on it!! I currently have a few maternity options and baby outfits from Zara.

Will you come to the hospital for a portrait session?
Yes! I call it a Fresh 48 session so I usually come the day after the baby arrives. Later morning to midday is when you’ll have the most natural light in the room!

Have more specific questions?
Feel free to reach out to me directly! Send me an email hello@sweetmelissaphoto.com or a DM on Instagram!


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