The Blog of The Letter B Photography » Los Angeles Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Baby, Child and Family Photographer

The Blog of The Letter B Photography bio picture
  • we spell trouble with a capital B.

    welcome to the blog of the letter b photography. we are johnny and jade brookbank. a husband and wife duo of old-fashioned weirdness based in los angeles, california. we shoot maternity, birth, newborns, babies, children, families, seniors and any other randomness that comes our way. this blog serves as a show-and-tell for all of our professional work, family goings-ons and any other wacky adventures we find ourselves in. so please….kick back, stalk around and hit us up if you have any questions.

    visit our website for more info about scheduling a session.

Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?

Snagged this from the fine folks over at Professional Child Photographer.

The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process. Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels. However, with flexibility comes a price. Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art.

We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print. Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted. Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.

The cost of TIME

Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session. Here is an example of a time break down:

* session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
* one hour travel time TO session
* 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
* 90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
* one hour travel time FROM session
* 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
* 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
* 2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
* 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
* 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
* 1 hour sorting through and checking order
* 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
* 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
* any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service. This is time dedicated only to ONE session. When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer. Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography. A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500. A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer.

Then come lab costs for specialty products. A good photographer knows the lab is integral to their success. Photography labs dedicated to the professional photographer often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for you, the discerning client.

Discussion other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details. There is of course much more: including costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS:

Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains. The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service. In February 2007 leased photography retail space by a rather well known discount department store that started in Arkansas closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation? The reason is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them. Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10). The whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments. Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.

Going to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for or the lovely captures of natural expressions. You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience. Keep this in mind when selecting a photographer.

REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:

Being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part. Their expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism. A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography. Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream? They often neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..

Being of sound reputation, a better professional photographer knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch. To create good work good equipment, reliable equipment, back up equipment is a necessity. The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. This is how reputations get built. Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories. The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

Thanks to all our amazing clients for always appreciating our work and valuing it as much as we do and more.

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monica - May 14, 2010 - 1:19 am

Well said! We are big fans :)

A Gaggle of Geese, A Horde of Hamsters and A Struedel of Strands | Los Angeles Children’s Photographer

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My best friend from high school is married and has two children. The kids’ names are Connor and Deidra and they are special to me for a few different reasons.

First off, Connor, the little fella, was in our wedding. Yes, he was in utero but this is just a very tiny, minute detail that I am willing to overlook. And all the fetus in the house say, “Hey!”

Secondly, they belong to (are the property of) my good friend who asked me to be their godparent. That means when I am around them I continually quote Bible verses and slap their wrists with rulers.

And finally, I was present when Deidra made her grand entrance into the world via the womb. It was simultaneously the most amazing, disgusting, horrifying, horror movie thing I’ve ever seen. A word to the wise: you should not sit down to watch a birth unless you yourself have previously accomplished this “crowning” achievement.

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While the man beast and I were cruising the countryside we stopped and crashed on Anna and (husband) Kenny’s couch / air mattress and managed to snag a few photos of The Dynamic Duo during our stay.

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I love this series. This is VERY Connor. I kept saying “KICK! KICK HIGHER! AGAIN! GREAT JOB! KICK AGAIN!” I love his little arms all aflail.

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My favorite shot from the day. I imagine Deidra’s inner monologue is playing something like, “Ohhhh, yo boots. Yo boots so biiiig” and Connor says, “What? These old things? Well….you know…size 2 1/2, so…..”

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Anna, thanks for letting us stay.
Kenny, thanks for letting John beat you at poker.
Connor, thanks for showing me your fossil collection.
Deidra, thanks for playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with us.

UNTIL NEXT TIME!!!……..

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The Highways and GoodByeWays of America: Part 2

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We wake up somewhere in Colorado. It’s a bright day but there is a chill in the air. The town we slept in is just as dead as the night before. The streetlights change, green, yellow, red but no one crosses. There are no cars, no people.

The car door slams and I poke my groggy head up to see what all the fuss is. Glaring in at me through the back window is a monster cyclops with a giant black android’s face. It clicks once, twice, three times and Clementine jumps up and stares out the window. Jade has her camera and Kaidance doesn’t care.

I go back to sleep while Jade drives through the rest of the Rockies. It’s like having a bed on wheels complete with engine and steering wheel and driver. “Oh, Chapman, take me to the Dakotas and make it snappy, beep-beep!”

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We pull over at a place called Knotty Pine. Was that the name of the town or just the name of the store? I can’t remember. There is a stack of logs out front under a sign that reads, “LOGS $5 A BUNDLE. SLIDE MONEY UNDER DOOR AFTER DARK”. We are no longer in or around anything LA. Inside I order a cappuccino and pay three something for it. The lady gives me black coffee with a squirt of what I imagine breast milk to taste like. I almost buy a shirt that lists the top ten reasons why a hand gun is better than a woman but decide not to.

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We arrive in Denver with three hours to kill before we need to be in Fort Collins so decide to visit the old haunts. The above photo with Clementeezy is taken at the park where I proposed to Jade before Clem was even a sparkle in her mother’s droopy depressed eyes. Clemenstein has always wanted to be a rocket pilot so it was nice to be able to openly mock her by placing her on a child’s toy and rocking it back and forth with my foot.

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Clementine hates photos but is small enough to overpower and bend to your will. Kaidance is a snob. She stays in the background by the zebra because it too is from motherland Africa.

After the picture I kneel down next to Big Dog and say, “Sorry, Kaidance. It’s just plastic. See – plastic.” I knock on the zebra a couple times and reduce her to tears.

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When we lived in Denver, Colfax St. (Ave?) was the part of town to STAY AWAY FROM. It was where people bought drugs and young girls disappeared into dark alleys and bad men lived. Jade’s house was a mere two blocks off it, across the street from an elementary school and neighboring an abortion clinic. Some things are just too strange to make up.

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I chose the more clinical, asbestos drenched dormitories to stay in. Second floor, last window on the left. Many wonderful and horrible things happened in that room, mostly horrible.

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We arrive in Fort Collins and enjoy a nice game of bowling with out friends Jimmy and Malori. Have you ever noticed that all bowling alleys are different but sort of the same? They all seem to be trapped in some sort of 1970s time warp. Where can I buy the carpet they get? I’d love to put it in my bedroom.

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Hungry for snacks, Clementine tries stealing milk from the baby’s lips. I would scold her and tell her to stop if it wasn’t so adorable.

But seriously, you should probably rinse out the baby’s mouth.

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Malori, Onyx, John. I don’t grow a “beard” for any kind of fashion statement. It is compensation for my male pattern baldness. It is me putting my foot down and saying, “Enough is enough!” I am uncontrollably jealous of the baby’s long, luscious locks. I want them.

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After leaving Fort Collins the Big Dog sleeps in the car. We’ve reached the prairies and it all looks the same. She tires of watching the scenery.

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Passing through a small town in Nebraska Jade shouts, “Stop! Stop! Turn around! Stop the car! Turn here! Turn right!” and I’m wondering if I’ve just ran over a family of bunnies or if she saw someone selling Chinese Finger Traps.

We pull around the block and she points, says, “Look. A building. Go get the dogs to sit up there”. I comply because she IS the boss.

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We drive on into Sioux City, Iowa. Kaidance is a noble beast. Majestic. Grand.

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We stay the night in Sioux City at our friend’s Anna and Kenny’s place. This is their three year old daughter Deidre. She’s having watermelon and coffee.

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Then finally, the next day we blow into Destination: South Dakota and take a picture to prove it. Great Faces, Great Places.

Well…..great faces, right-o, Mr. Ed?

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Jade’s grandma has a golf cart at her place that I like to ride around on. I pull it into the driveway and do cookies or donuts or whatever you call them and I slam on the brakes and the gas and I bend the wheel and when I go inside Jade’s mom tells me that I’m lucky Grandma didn’t see me because she would be upset.

Well, well, well. Don’t old people just always have something to complain about?

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The farm or The Farm is located on a remote desert road about fifteen minutes outside of town. It’s easy to get lost, not because of the complex nature of the scenery but because of the lack therof. It all starts to look the same. Directions sound something like this: go through town. Take a right at the second stopsign. Go over the big hill, you’ll go down into a ditch. Take a right at the purple mailbox. There’s flowers painted on it. You’ll pass a pile of haybails about a mile up. Watch out for cows and dogs. We’re on the left.

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We go exploring in one of the fields on my birthday with the dogs and discover some marijuana. Well, not marijuana per se, but HEMP nonetheless. I guess Jade’s great uncle grew the stuff during the war for rope and whatnot. That’s what Jade’s mom says.

Right.

I don’t know how she explains all the poppy seeds and coca plants.

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We approach a cornfield and disappear into it. A person could die in here.

Actually that’s not true, they’re only a mile by a mile long / wide. Only an idiot could die in here.

Chances of my survival: sources point to no.

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Later that night my parents come to town and we all go bowling again. I LOVE bowling. I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT!

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Afterwards we go to a Mexican restaurant called Casa Del Rey or Casa El Ray or something. I don’t know. I only speak English and bits of Canadian. When the waitress brings out my birthday dessert and my family begins singing to me I point to the staring tables around us and make them sing along. It makes them all very uncomfortable.

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What’s next? Where do we go next? Mitchell? Montana? Death Valley? Stay tuned!
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Jen Berry - October 18, 2009 - 5:16 pm

not sure which i like better. the commentary or the photos. what an awesome trip. steve and i need to do this when he gets better. i love the 2 dogs (almost) at the red barn