Category Archives: Storybook Sessions
Post borrowed from Sarah Q Photography:
The only sugar coating I like is on donuts. When it comes to money, I’d rather be told exactly what I can expect to pay for something and why that something is worth the amount of money being asked for it.
So to get right to the point, YES. My photography services and the products I sell are expensive.
Family portrait photography is my full time job and I’m damn good at what I do. Photographing children is not for the faint of heart. Crying babies, wild toddlers, fighting siblings, frustrated dads, exasperated moms. You have your hands full just trying to get everybody to the shoot in one clean, well-dressed piece. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting them all to look in the same direction, much less look happy while they’re doing it.
That’s my job.
I am a master at turning chaos into creativity.
I’m also a master at helping you decide just how to preserve and display your family’s chaos. Albums, wall art, framed portraits, canvas prints, cards – all of the printed products we grew up loving that seem to have gone extinct in this new social media driven world. Those are the products I want you to fill your home with.
“People are taking more pictures now than ever before. Billions of them. But there are no slides, no prints. Just data. Electronic dust. Years from now, when they dig us up, there won’t be any pictures to find. No record of who we were or how we lived.” – a quote from the film ‘Kodachrome.’
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
How many CDs, flash drives or Facebook galleries do you have full of photos that have never been printed? If you’re like most people, I’m guessing you have a lot. Printing photos is an overwhelming process. Choosing your favorites, knowing which images would look best framed and which would look best in an album, choosing a lab or an album printer, understanding how to crop and resize your photos. These are all things the average person struggles with.
Because these things are MY JOB. Not yours.
I know where to order gorgeous photo albums that your children, grand children and great grandchildren will cherish. I know which photos are perfect for canvas and which ones will look best in a custom glass print box by your bed. I also know how stressful all these decisions can be, which is why I will be there to walk you through the entire process, step by step, to make sure you end up with incredible photo products you would run through a burning house to save.
Let me help you.
I want you to have prints. I want you to have albums. I want you to have something you can hold and touch and feel. I want your walls and shelves filled with gorgeous photos that make you smile every time you walk into the room.
You deserve all those things and I can help you get them.
People justify expensive purchases all the time. The phone or computer you’re reading this on. The TV on your living room wall. That trip to Target that somehow added up to $400 even though you only went in for a candle. (Every. single. time.) The car in your driveway that you’ll own for less than 10 years. None of these things will be passed on to your children, much less your grandchildren’s children.
Yes, professional portraits are expensive. But they’re the only splurge you’ll keep forever. The only splurge that will get more valuable with every passing year. The only splurge that you’ll never, ever regret.
Let’s make something beautiful.
Around mid-2011, I got a text from this guy. It was all stiff and formal. Like “Hi Jennings. This is Dave’s friend, Ryan.” 😐 like that was it. But I was in this giggly silly mood that day, and my first thought was Hudson’s middle name is Ryan. This guy is named Ryan. So I texted him back, “Ryan! Let’s get married! That way my son’s middle name will match your first name! 😁👍🏻”
And then? Nothing. Bitter silence. One heartbeat later when I didn’t see the …typing…dot dot dot… thing, I wrote him off as a humorless tool and went about my business editing photos. I always thought my friend Sabrina’s husband, Dave, was a funny guy, but his friend was sure boring. Oh well. Also, I had no room for men who weren’t awesome in my world back then. I was 30 years old, still young and fun and full of good and bad ideas. The politician was texting me at the same time wanting to take me out again, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Then there was the old guy I couldn’t seem to get rid of. He made me laugh, so I put up with the rest of it. In any case, I wasn’t desperate for any boring losers with no sense of humor. So I forgot about Dave’s square friend. Ryan Squarepants missed out. Too bad for him.
Hud’s middle name really is Ryan, though. I can’t tell you why I wanted him to have that name. I just liked it, and I liked the way it sounded with Hudson. Before I adopted him, and before he was born, I was discussing his name with his birthmother and told her I wanted it to be Hudson Ryan. She liked the Hudson part, but said she always liked the name Ryder. I wanted to let her make that decision and give him his middle name, but I am just not a mom to a Ryder. I insisted on Ryan, and she didn’t mind. I still think that’s a classy, smart-sounding name. It doesn’t really go with Hudson’s personality, but the boy has a good name at least. He was a year and a half old and had recently been abandoned by my first husband, who had some sort of mental breakdown before Hudson was even a year old. I was thinking of all that stuff during the short text exchange with Ryan. Although I wasn’t serious about the boring guy in San Diego, I was thinking how nice it is when a child is named after their father, and their father is a good dad. My kids didn’t have a dad, which is so weird considering how much trouble it was for my ex to adopt them and become their dad in the first place – but enough about Voldemort, this story is about Ryan and Hudson.
Anyway, three days later, my phone totally blew up with text after text after text. All from Ryan Squarepants, of all people. Turns out he texted me on the way up a mountain in San Diego where he and Dave were going to camp. He asked for my number and texted hello right before losing cell service for the duration of the camping trip. He got my funny marriage proposal text and realized quite a few texts later that his responses weren’t going through. So while I was writing him off as the lamest dude on the planet cuz he couldn’t take a joke, he was trying to joke and talk right back. His responses were really funny, actually, when I finally got them three (years) days later. They started in the middle of a 3-day-old conversation all chatty and full of lol’s and stuff. Normal. The dude was normal. Then his texts became one-sided on his end and he texted that I probably wasn’t getting these messages. Then he started worrying about that (as he should have because he was already dead to me by then) and finally he set off on a five-mile hike to the top of a mountain peak somewhere around San Diego to see if he could get cell service to send the messages. He said it was a nice hike, but no luck on service. None of the messages came through until they drove back down the mountain to civilization and cell service. As another fellow camping lover, it was easy to forgive Ryan for his silent treatment. By the time I was done reading all of his messages, I changed my mind about him completely. He wasn’t boring. He WAS funny, and charming, and smart and nice. I liked him after all. A lot, as it turned out.
To make a long story short, he asked me out. We met at Disneyland and had the best first date ever. He moved for me, he proposed, we got married and he adopted the kids. Now, no kidding, Hudson is named after his dad, who he didn’t even meet until he was almost two years old. Now, all I need is some film clips to go with some photos of Ryan and Hudson together. They look alike, too, which is super weird. No one would ever guess our kids are adopted by looking, or that Ryan is actually the most recent addition to our family. But life is strange and wonderful like that, isn’t it?
I have many a story about my funny little family. This is just one of them. I want to help you tell your family story. One day, it will make the very best memories for yourself and your family. You need a Storybook Session, just to remind you what your family was like at this time in your lives. You think you have all this time, but here we are 6 years later, and I honestly don’t have that many good pictures of Hudson and Ryan. But this sequence….takes my breath away. It was shot by the fabulously talented Toki Lee in Pasadena in 2014. Hudson was 4 and Gracie was 8. Their adoption became official the following year, but Ryan was the kids’ father from the day they met. He was always meant to be the one. This photo sequence is printed on a beautiful canvas in Hudson’s room where he can see it every day and know how loved he is.
Do you have an interesting or entertaining story about your family? If so, we would love to hear it. Introducing new monthly storybook session giveaways for the family with the best story that we can feature on the blog or website. Text 805-490-1180 for more details. Win a free storybook session with me and a pro videographer and keep the slideshow! Giveaway also includes a huge spending credit for anything we offer!
So I looked at my last blog post just not and saw that it was in May. May…June…it’s July…..that’s pretty good for me! I blogged just a couple of months ago! And then I saw that it said 2017 next to the month. WHAT?! I HAVEN’T BLOGGED IN OVER A YEAR!?!?? I’M THE WORST!!! All I can say for myself is….Facebook. I live there, in iphone land, while I pretend to parent Gracie and Hudson in real life.
It’s summer, so the kids are home from school and for the first time, I didn’t put them in any kind of summer camp. They just wanted to stay home like little slugs. Gracie, at 12, is really into making art. She draws, paints, sews and sculpts all day, every day. She lives in an online art community of kids who draw things for each other and send them online. It’s awesome. I can’t discourage such a thing. Even her friends from school are artists. She has a couple of little girl friends who come over and hole up in her room with her to make art. The only time I ever see them is when they make animated videos and need to film each other somewhere outside of Gracie’s bedroom. Really, I can’t complain. As long as I leave her alone to work on her art, she’s a happy girl. She never bothers me to take her places or buy her things. She just hopes I don’t drag her away from her nest to go on a Jeep adventure. She’s sick of my adventures. The kids are kind of Jeep’d out. Not me. My Jeep addiction is going strong.
Hudson is 8 now. He was diagnosed with ADHD. We tried changing his diet, using nutritional supplements and this light/sound therapy before resorting to medication. I was hesitant to give him any kind of prescription medications due to the fact that he was born addicted to opiates when I adopted him. He has a genetic history of drug addiction, so I didn’t want to put him on any controlled substances. When Hudson was a newborn, I held him every day in the NICU while his tiny body went through drug withdrawals. The doctors kept him very sedated so he wouldn’t suffer, but it was still a terrible time for me. I’ll never forget the way he would stiffen up, jerk and sneeze a lot when he was so tiny. He had a feeding tube the first few days because he wouldn’t eat. By the third day, he took a bottle from me and ripped his own feeding tube out, though, and showed the doctors he was healthy and strong. He was such a good baby. For the first month, he was so sleepy from the anti-withdrawal medications, I didn’t even know what his cry sounded like. He barely woke up enough to fuss over a dirty diaper or hunger. The rest of the time, I just held him or wore him in a sling, and he slept. Since then, he hasn’t had any developmental delays at all. He has done well in school, except for his hyperactive tendencies. To make a long story short, after trying several holistic approaches to treat his ADHD, I finally just asked our family doctor for medication. He prescribed low-dose Vyvanse and since then, Hudson has excelled in school and at home. He’s a pleasure to be around. He’s smart. He can read! Really well! He’s a changed boy. So….in spite of my hesitation to medicate a boy once addicted to controlled substances, doing so has been wonderful for Hudson. I’m just glad we don’t have a lot of the struggles with him that we used to.
He likes playing games – any kind of game – and he’s really good at most of them. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve played his first game of Monopoly, trying to go easy on him, only to have him make huge, bold moves and proceed to quickly beat all of us. He is so good at Connect 4, he teases his opponents saying things like “don’t let me win just yet….” and then his opponent is dumbfounded and has no idea where to go next. And damn if Hudson doesn’t do exactly what he says he’s going to do. Every time. He’ll be like “I’m gonna roll a 3 and a 4, take the pirate gold, and head back to my port.” And then he’ll do it. I don’t know if there’s some career in gaming, but if there is, Hudson will find it.
JPP is doing really well this year! With a lighter workload, I’ve been able to put more time and energy into each session. I filmed a commercial for my business earlier this year with the talented Jackie Palmer Films. She managed to capture everything about me and what I do in just over a minute-long film. Check it out here: commercial film JPP 2018.
Making the commercial inspired me to offer integrated film and photography sessions, which I’ve named Storybook Sessions. Now they are my absolute favorite sessions. It’s more work for me to make a slideshow incorporating film and the final images, but the results are so worth it. These slideshows will be cherished by my clients for the rest of their lives. I can see each one of them watching it ten years from now, saying how glad they are they had it done. In fact, I want it done for my family. Emily is a photographer now, and she’s really, really good. She’s helped me film my storybook sessions, and I’ve also hired a videographer a few times. They basically film my clients while I’m posing and photographing them. Later, the final images are worked into the film clips, which are slowed down and set to music. The emotional impact is intense. Every one of them makes me choke up with tears, and laugh, and smile. Imagine how the parents in the films must feel! I need Emily to help me do my own family’s storybook session. In the meantime, here’s one I made for the Lloyd family. This is one of my first ever Storybook Sessions. Judging by the parents reaction to the photos, I’d say it was a huge success! JPP Storybook Session
I’m trying to offer discounted Storybook Sessions to my former clients so they can try it. Even if it’s something you only do once, I think every family should do it. The memories we make last a lifetime. The only regret you’ll have is not doing it more often. It’s so worth the effort. If you’d like more info on our $250 for $500 summer storybook session, call Dani at 805-490-1180. 🙂
Here’s a whole bunch of recent sessions I’ve done!