Celebration of Smiles = Success!

On April 5th I was honored to take part in Celebration of Smiles. This event, organized by PPA Charities, the philanthropic arm of the Professional Photographers Association, brought photographers around the nation together to raise money for Operation Smile. Operation Smile is a fantastic organization that helps provide surgeries for children in developing countries that are born with cleft pallets and other facial deformities.

During Celebration of Smiles, we were able to raise $403 for Operation Smile. Every penny of these donations were matched by Dr Prost from Fletcher Heights Dental Care, bringing our total donations for the day to $806! I also donated 20% of the profits from all print sales, which raised an additional $277! Total raised by ChrisAnnPhotos, Fletcher Heights Dental Care, and my fabulous friends and clients = $1083!!!

Please meet the wonderful people who came out on April 5th to support the PPA Charities and Operation Smile (plus two families who opted not to have their images shared).

Beautiful Alyxandria.Alyx_Collage

Elliana, who has the longest lashes ever seen. Elli_Collage

Esme, who makes the most AMAZING faces and has one spunky personality!Esme_collage

Jack, the Wild Child, and his amazing mother, Margie. Jack_collage

Jaden, who lives in Crystal Cove, and his sister the “diva”, Emma. JadenEmma_Collage

Class of 2015, Jason. jason_Collage

Caleb and Jacob, two equally funny boys, and their mom Emily. McMenemy_collage

Branden and Alex, sons of Nancy, one of the amazing employees of Fletcher Heights Dental. Nancy_COS

Sisters Carli, Coley, and momma to be Julie. Schaan_Family

The Value of Prints

I have been drawn to photographs for as long as I can remember, and I have always surrounded myself with pictures. When you walk into my house you will see photographs everywhere, but these are among the first you will see when you walk in the door.

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(Super fancy photos courtesy of my phone so please excuse the quality)

I spent many summers with my grandparents when I was growing up, and their home was always filled with family portraits. In fact if I close my eyes I can clearly picture that infamous wall in their home that has my grandparents wedding photo, a gorgeous shot of my grandmother about the time she was in high school, portraits of my aunts and uncles as they grew up, surrounded by school portraits and snapshots of myself and my cousins at various stages of our lives. What makes that space even better is that below this wall there is a bookshelf filled with several albums of photos. As a child I would spend hours pouring over these portraits of my grandparents, mom, aunts, and uncles, watching them grow up while relaxing on the floor on my grandparent’s coarse carpet.

Several years ago I borrowed these photos from my grandparents home and made digital copies of many of these family portraits. These portraits were so central to my childhood I wanted a copy for myself. After I completed the project I was so happy that I was able to have these portraits that were so central to my childhood at my fingertips whenever I wanted. I wanted to share them with all my aunts and uncles – I knew they would love to have their own copy as much as I did – and have them available to show my own children one day. So I took all of these photographs, and do you know what I did with them?

Nothing.

Those photos sat on my hard drive for at least 2 years before any of them were printed. I mean, I did EVENTUALLY make several beautiful photo books for my aunts, uncles, mom, and grandparents, and, as you can see, printed several for my own wall at home, but for a long time I didn’t do much of anything. I didn’t even skim through them frequently – maybe just once or twice to share a couple pictures with family members.

So why, do you ask, did I let such important photographs just sit on my hard drive? Well, the point of this story is two fold. How many times have you gotten something you were so excited about, and had GRAND schemes to share and display, and then never accomplish those dreams? This isn’t because we don’t treasure or value what we have been given, but we are busy people. We say, “I will do that tomorrow,” and then tomorrow turns into next week, and then (and this is the one I am guilty of), next summer (because SURELY I will have time in the summer), and you get the idea. If we are lucky, as I was, we will prioritize and eventually accomplish those initial goals we set. Or other times we decide to just accomplish part of the original idea we had in mind – like instead of making photo books, we may just decide to print off a bunch of 4×6′s and shove them into an album, because that’s SOOO much faster than going through the whole book design process, right? So our original idea might not turn out like we envisioned but at least we did something.

Or other times we just forget all together and things never get printed, displayed, or shared.

The second is this – I would have never been able to do ANYTHING with those photographs had they not been printed on quality paper and protected behind either a frame or in an album. I was fortunate enough that my grandmother valued photography, and was an avid photographer herself. She not only invested in frames and albums to protect her images, but quality prints themselves. That’s it, plain and simple.

And when you look at my grandmother’s photography collection it is clear she believed in printing her photographs. Now I know that might seem like a silly comment – it’s not like digital photography was around when she did the majority of her shooting, so she didn’t have to worry about piling images up on her hard drive – but she didn’t HAVE to print all of her negatives. She didn’t have to print anything at all. My grandmother developed her negatives, examined them, and then printed what she wanted from there. And print she did. And as her granddaughter I am glad she did, because those memories, portraits, and artistic photographs she took are still here for me to enjoy. And not only that, but those prints transform the images from just negatives into art.

This is why have chosen to change the direction of my business and focus on prints, wall art, albums, and other pieces of art. Because not only do you deserve to have someone help you display and share those memories you hired a professional to create for you, but you deserve to have them printed on the highest quality, professional materials, ensuring they will last for generations to come.

ChrisAnn Photos 2014 Investment Announcement

Value of Photography

Over this past year many of you have helped me build my portfolio and benefited from heavily discounted pricing. I thank you all very much for helping my business grow and being a part of my portfolio, professional presence, and, in the case of many of you, my life beyond what you may see on this public page.

Moving forward into the New Year my pricing will (again) change. With each session you are receiving a unique experience with fine art images. No two sessions are alike, and in order for me to move forward with my business I need to change not only what I charge, but my whole pricing structure. My goal is to price my work fairly, so that way many people can enjoy my portraiture services, but also to ensure that my work is given the value it deserves.

I have updated my website to include session details and investment information. My session fee will no longer be all-inclusive; I will instead be moving towards providing print packages. I am passionate about providing you prints of your work, because your images deserve to be displayed with the highest quality professional prints. Let me say that again: your photos deserve to be displayed (not on a hard drive) with high quality, professional prints. Too many times over this year I ran into people telling me they haven’t had the time to print their photos, or they have just been carrying around their disk of images waiting to get them printed. Your professional images deserve to be put on the wall of your home, displayed in an album, or made into a small keepsake you can carry with you.

Moreover, this Christmas I got several cards in the mail from people who used my portrait for their Christmas card. I was astounded how different the image looked in the printed card versus on my screen. I even pulled several images up on my computer because I thought I had done something wrong when I edited them – the colors on the print were so… wrong! But then I realized; the printed images were not professional prints. The prints you order from a big box store, versus a quality, professional, archival print are night and day. Over the course of the year I am going to dedicate a few blog posts to point out these differences, because professional prints are an investment worth taking.

I know there are MANY portrait photographers out there, and many who are “cheap” in price. I cannot speak as to how they set their prices, as I have learned this is a very complex task (and something which I am sure I am still going to continue to refine with business experience). The only thing I can do is price myself in a way that works for my business, and trust that you will make the choice to use the portrait photographer that is right for you and your family. I know budget is one of the factors that play a role in deciding your photographer, but so are personality, experience, and the photographer’s portfolio and aesthetic. I have come to know many of you this past year and value your role in my life and helping me pursue my dream, and I hope you can continue to play a role in my personal and professional life as well.

After I finish a portrait session, I write to many of you to thank you for choosing me to take your professional portraits. In this correspondence, I always welcome your feedback, both on the things you enjoy about my work and the areas you feel are in need of improvement. This will never change, and I hope to continue to receive your honest feedback.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns do not hesitate to email me: chrisannphotos@gmail.com.

The 2013 Review and Thank You!

2013 has been an amazing year for me, for so many reasons it is difficult for me to sum them up in just one blog post. So instead of covering a lot of topics briefly, instead I want to focus on just one area of my life that has really been a revolutionary change for me in the past year: my photography business. Chris & Jenny

It all began with these two people, on this day last year. My friends Chris and Jenny were engaged in November of 2012 and wanted me to take their engagement portraits. I had a *little* experience with portraits (and I mean a little), but I was happy to do it for them as a gift. We ventured out to a little farm around South Mountain on New Years Eve and had a great time taking photos and playing around. I edited their portraits, prayed they liked them (they did! Woot-Woot!), and really didn’t think anything would come of it.

But around February I started getting an itch. I really enjoyed taking Chris & Jenny’s portrait. Moreover, I have a degree in photography (from the University of Arizona! Woot-Woot again!) and it was the first time in a long time I felt like I was actually using my knowledge and doing something I loved. So I gently started advertising to people I knew that I would be happy to take some portraits for them for trade or a small charge. Then everything just snowballed from there, and it wasn’t long before I found that I needed to educate myself not just on new photography techniques, but how to run a business and start pricing myself to be sustainable (more on that in 2014).

This one simple act of taking engagement portraits for my friends, has really opened up a whole new world for me. I have learned so much technically, professionally, and personally – more than I have in years – and it feels really good to have a professional and personal vision. And (not to sound cliched here, but. . .) I couldn’t have done it without all of you. This has been one heck of a ride and I can not thank you all enough for supporting me as I grow my small business. There is more change and growth to come in 2014, and I really hope to see you all again and continue the journey in the New Year.

2013_bestofCHEERS!! And THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

365 Grateful: Day 365

I am so grateful I completed this project. Some days it was so easy to be grateful. I have been blessed over this past year with laughter, family, love, new & existing friendships, and to rediscover my passion for photography. I can’t even express how grateful I am for my friends, family, and those who have helped support my business and my passion. But some days it was not so easy to be grateful, and I have learned those are the days when it is MOST important to find some gratitude. Because at the end of the day, I was given an opportunity to live another day, take another breath, feel the sun on my skin, and be with those I love the most. I have learned to practice gratitude consistently, on the good days and the bad, because I always have a reason to be grateful.

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