Delightful Perception Photography started as a hobby, turned into a fundraising opportunity, which then turned into a small business focussed on family photography needs. However, as the years have past its really become an obsession (a good friend says I should use the word passion and she’s probably right) and a huge part of the Mercredi households way of life. Through the years I’ve realized that while I love photographing families and children, I also have an obsession/passion for helping small businesses and people in their professional capacities. I’ve always loved supporting small business, but I’ve realized I have also learned a bit about business over the years, and continue to every day. It turns out I REALLY love working with small businesses! So why does all of this matter? Well, I feel a bit silly when I’m quoting for a commercial or corporate job and signing off with my whimsical and silly Delightful Perception Photography. So to be more inclusive of the direction I’m going I felt it was important to change it. The new name, Life and Portraits, feels like my big girl photographer name. It’s important to me to push myself to always become better with my compositions, with my lighting capabilities, with the range of work I can produce, and the quality of work I’m producing. The new name gives me room to grow and the expectation of timeless work focussing on what’s important to you.
What photography means to me has also changed. It’s just honestly no longer about the cute outfits and setups. I look back at the photos I’ve done of my own children in those setups and I think “Why did I do that? Why am I blocking his face with those sunglasses? Why am I distracting from my subject so much? These photos aren’t about the subject, they’re about the photo.” I want photos that are about your children, not the tutu, not the likes on Facebook, not a cool photo technique. I want the photo to capture your relationship with your child. You want a photo to make you CRY…or LAUGH, but you want it to make you FEEL! Let yourself travel through time when you see it so it brings you right back to what life was like at that time. No gimmicks, pure, honest, beautiful, lifestyle or posed art to celebrate your life as it is now.
ExpectingIn a world of fast food, fast fashion, fast photography and plenty of instant answers are you taking the time to slow down and enjoy the journey? You’re probably documenting your life with your phone, because we are blessed to have amazing technology at our fingertips, but what are you doing with it once it’s documented? I know I stumble across my videos on Facebook memories or occasionally when I’m cleaning out old hard drives, which make for fun evenings of reminiscing. Our children change so much, so quickly though, that I feel I want daily reminders of who they used to be. I want reminders of who I used to be.
And so I started a photo wall and now am onto a second, and it’s changing my life. I slow down. I take the time each day to look at each photo, and each photo makes me feel something different than the others. It’s like having the opportunity to see my life flash before my eyes, without a terrible circumstance causing it haha. For me, it’s not about having a hundred images, its about having a handful of amazing images you’ll want to put on your wall so you can see them, enjoy them and relive them every single day.
As a photographer though, I see how this fast paced world we live in can make us forget or postpone things that improve our quality of life the most, and I myself have been plenty guilty of it! Don’t postpone spending time with family. Don’t postpone going on that hike, or that skate, or making that craft. Don’t postpone hanging your photos on your wall so you can enjoy your own story everyday.
Once we’re hanging photos again, really hanging them, as art not with a magnet on the fridge in a temporary way that will result in later filing it in a drawer, or worse throwing it out; then we start to see the value in investing in quality images. Suddenly those iPhone shots, while they are certainly priceless and meaningful, aren’t up to par as the only source of capturing the amazing life you have created. Suddenly hiring your neighbour because they bought a nice camera isn’t quite good enough to capture the most precious people in your life. Suddenly you realize your photos are more valuable than your daily coffee – I love coffee but even it can’t bring me the daily happiness of seeing my kids being sweet to each other posted on my real life wall each day.
Take the time to celebrate yourself. You have a short window and then it’s gone, and someday when you look back you regret not celebrating this point in your journey. Whether it’s a pregnancy, a new baby, a milestone, or a phase, live it and capture it so you can relive it once it’s gone.
Contact me if you’d like to have your life captured with love so you can enjoy it forever.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the value of photography. Thinking about what causes a photo to be valuable, who it’s for and what the purpose of the photo really is. I love taking a multitude of different types of photos so take a read with me about my interpretation of their importance and I’d REALLY love for you to share your opinions of the value for the photos you want in your life.
The purpose of a posed, smiling, family picture is to capture loved ones together at regular points in their lives. Families change, people change and the photo freezes time. The body language tells more over the years than people may realize, like a little girl growing up knowing her mommy cuddled her so close, and in her arms is where she felt most safe. This is often the type of photo people as for to print for their mantle or walls. It’s a photo you can display next to a similar style photo taken the year before or a few years before to show how time has past.
However, my favourite things about the posed photos is the moments in between. When something truly genuine slips in like a kiss for a little sister who is biting her nails because she’s a bit shy in front of the camera. Don’t hide those young habits (that some of us never outgrow), it shouldn’t be about apparent perfection, you’re who these photos are for. It’s not about a Facebook share or a christmas card, it’s your life. It’s your children. Of course I’m not against a Facebook share! I do that ALL THE TIME, as my parents live in the southern USA and we don’t see them as often as we’d like. But thinking long term, I want our photos to be something my children can look at when they’re grown, proudly put on their walls to remind them of their relationship with me and of how much I love them. I want them to share photos with future generations. I want them to have flashbacks when they see the photos to being that little kid.
Hands down my favourite photos are the ones that show a connection between loved ones, especially mothers and their children. A connection that can’t be faked, or rehearsed, that you feel when you look at a photo even if you don’t know the people you’re looking at. The photos that can make you cry if they’re set to the right music.I value most the photos that make you feel. Whether it’s the feeling in the photo or flashing you back you to a memory of your own. I hope when you see a photo like this you remember when your children were young and ran to you in joy and sorrow because you were their answer to everything. I hope you have a photo that can take you back to that moment. A photo that gives you a flash back into what may now seem like a previous life so far removed.
This is the kind of photo I want to see everyday and hope moms have of themselves. The photo that shows you that you are an amazing mother. The photo that shows you that you did take the time to play and connect. We all get lost in the schedules and “supposed to’s” sometimes but so often we are too hard on ourselves, expecting an unrealistic perfection and more energy than even coffee could possibly provide. I want you to have the photo that shows you that you’re giving your children and awesome childhood. I want you to see how you look through their eyes.
I want to slow down and take the time to cuddle. I want to see on my walls, that I have made cuddling a priority. I want you to see on your walls how much your children love you so in the moments when things are hard you can see how important you are by looking around your house.
…and dads matter too….
…but lets face it, they always get to be the fun ones!
Don’t forget about some full family fun!
Of course there are also the photos to show the sibling relationship. In this case 2 sisters 2 years apart, who are sure to be close for life.
Each child’s individual personality needs to be captured because we all know they change so fast! The mannerisms and silliness disappear too quickly.
Lastly, as much as I treasure the images of children the most (I really do, there’s no comparison haha) I also believe it’s important for parents to have photos together, without their children. Why? Who does that? The answer is NOT ENOUGH COUPLES! You love each other! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that because you’re busy! I know you’re busy! But isn’t it amazing when you get 2 seconds together nice and close, where you can hear each others voices and really look at each other?
Even if there’s a little chaos behind the scenes?
Let your walls tell your story so you can enjoy your story everyday.
The last couple of years I have been trying to break into fine art graduation photography; but between the fire last year and having a spring baby this year it hasn’t really worked out. I’m determined that next year will be my “Third time’s the charm” year though! In preparation I did manage to get together with this sweet and stunning member of 2017’s graduating class from Westwood High School. Even though the weather prevented us from doing multiple dates to include a casual look, I think it’s important to incorporate the school as well as a more whimsical location, so we made sure to do that. The first few photos are taken within steps of the Westwood Entrance, while a nearby park was the second location.
I’m a strong believer that beautiful photos can be taken anywhere, and the light has a lot more to do with the beauty of a photo than the location. However trees never hurt! She was rocking the poses and fierce and powerful looks to celebrate her fierce and powerful self!
If you’re interested in finding out more about customized, luxury photographic experiences contact me!
If you are pregnant in Fort McMurray you either know this sweet momma, or you should! Jessica runs Blossoming Bellies and Bosoms, which is an amazing store full of quality maternity and nursing clothing (as well as a few super cute baby items). Jessica kept me from wearing PJ’s all winter, instead dressing me in luxurious hoodies and wrap sweaters made in Canada! Then about half way through my pregnancy she became pregnant with her second child! We’ve had some chatty shopping sessions and photo sessions and she is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, so definitely check out her shop for a little sunshine in your day.
Jessica asked pretty early on if I would photograph her new baby, and of course I knew I would be honoured to. Her former family photographer had unfortunately lost her home in the fire and moved out of Fort McMurray, however Jessica and her husband really value beautiful photography, displaying it in their home and gorgeous albums, so I was honoured to be chosen to add to their life art.
Shortly before baby her boy was expected to arrive Jessica and her daughter came by to capture a few photos. One of the most impactful moments of my life was seeing my oldest daughter for the first time after delivering my son, so I absolutely love capturing moments in those treasured final days before a new baby joins the family.
Once sweet baby M arrived everyone was in love! He has such incredible and unique features, and I fawned over him the entire time I photographed him. Being my first newborn after having my own baby, he seemed so tiny and my own little one sure didn’t seem so little once I held her again afterwards! They grow too fast, so I’m so glad I was able to capture his teeny-tiny-ness before it starts to fade away <3 Enjoy!
And after the family had a chance to cuddle him for photos it was my turn! This sweet boy was a posing pro and showed off his cute pouty lip, gorgeous eyes, and spitfire tongue <3 Thank you for choosing me to capture this incredible time in your life and the beginning of baby M’s <3
If you’re interested in finding out more about customized, luxury photography experiences contact me!
The truth is I just didn’t know what to say. For a while I thought it would just come to me so I waited. I waited, and waited and nothing has come. I still don’t know what to say so instead I’m going to share a few photos instead. What I’ve been most inspired by through all of the devastation is the children. The children of Fort McMurray, the children of Alberta fro embracing them, and those from across Canada who have reached out to them. As they prepare to go back to school on Tuesday, for the first time since May 3 for some, I think it’s time we recognize and celebrate their resiliency.
Though this fire has taken so much from our community and loved ones, it has also given to us. It has strengthened bonds, clarified priorities, reinforced values, celebrated heroes, shown hearts, and it has also given my family the greatest gift possible; a new baby who will be joining us in February.
When I made the decision in the fall to focus my photography on children and families I joined the National Association of Professional Children’s Photographers so I could make sure I was always doing my best to improve. For a while I have known that I’d like to start entering professional competitions because you can pay to have the images critiqued by master photographers, which is an incredible opportunity to learn and improve. I had just missed the competition deadline when I registered for NAPCP so I started putting some of my favourite images as I shot them into a competition folder on my desktop this winter. I knew that I wanted to enter recent images, in order to receive critiques and tips on my latest work so they would be most beneficial.
Last week I had a dream that one of my images placed. I woke up and was a little bit sad that it was just a dream, but mostly I felt silly for thinking that one of my images would be capable of competing with the incredible work of other NAPCP members, many of which are my photography idols. I had entered the competition knowing that there was a possibility, but not getting my hopes up, mostly just excited to have feedback on how to improve my work.
I’ve been told that I have a very confident demeanour…like intimidating confidence even. Actually, the first time I realized I may come across too confident was during my teaching practicums when my mentor teacher told me he didn’t want to teach in front of me because he would disappoint me. I’ve had the blessing of being raised by parents who instilled confidence in me, but the artistic world is full of self doubt. Recently I attended the Canada Photo Convention in Vancouver, and realized it’s certainly not just me. In this room full of hundreds of awe-inspiring artists there was so much negative self-talk! We put our hearts into every image we create, so rejection doesn’t feel like it’s just an image being rejected, its a rejection of the artist and the artists worth. It’s all ridiculous really, and we all know it, but somehow the feelings persist.
So today I was wrangling 3 kindergarteners and my 3 year old as they raced through the obstacle course that is my living room when my phone vibrated. I had a message from one of my idol photographers Dana Pugh (Former NAPCP Photographer of the Year, and also a winner today) congratulating me on my performance in the NAPCP competition. I had no idea what she was talking about an my first instinct was that she must have me confused with someone else, but instantly began to cry anyways; that’s a perfectly natural reaction right? So I snuck away from the kids before they were able to notice the tears and red face. I raced to the website to check out the gallery and not only had one of my photos received merit, but another had placed 1st. My phone lit up with messages from another idol photographer Jennifer Kapala (NAPCP Photographer of the Year) as I managed to text my husband and message my mom. I stumbled through contacting the families from my two images (I don’t enter model images, only images from actual sessions) and post the announcement to Facebook.
The funny thing is that my clients are so supportive and encouraging that despite my shock, they mostly reacted something like “Oh cool, this doesn’t surprise us at all.” As thankful as I am to receive this incredible recognition for these images, I’m infinitely more thankful for all of you who encourage and support me every day. So thank you so much, for allowing me to do what I love, letting me into your lives, and cheering me on <3
But just in case, nobody pinch me!
Oh also a big shout out to Alberta Photographers! Whoop whoop! Alberta consistently has photographers winning and placing in international competitions, and really fosters an amazing artistic community atmosphere.
Photographing Angela is a bit like photographing a celebrity because she’s stunningly beautiful and a Mary Kay superstar! Even if you don’t think you know her, you probably have seen her around driving her Mary Kay pink Cadillac. Some super exciting news in Angela’s life right now though is that she and her husband are expecting a baby girl any day now. That means this handsome Lego Master Builder is going to be a big brother!
I think the first thing baby girl is going to learn is that she has a big brother who loves her, and nobody is going to mess with her because he has muscles!
As much as he loves being kicked by his sister right now that probably won’t last once her feet get a little more range. Angela already appears to be loving the relationship her children are building, and I know she is going to continue to be so proud of her big boy as she watches him embrace being a brother. I absolutely loved the expressions and emotions both of them showed during this session.
I’m so glad we had a chance to take a few photos of Angela and her son before they add another sweet child to their family. I remember in the weeks leading up to my due date with my second child really cherishing the time I had with my oldest before she was no longer an only child. Once the next baby comes along there are so many emotions, so much pride, so much thankfulness, but I also felt like my big baby had grown immensely in the short hours I was away from her to deliver.
Before I had my second child I had a very wise loved one tell me some advice, and while usually I really take advice with a grain of salt I’m going o share because it really rang true for me.
Take a mental image and make a mental note to really remember that last hug and kiss with your first born before you go to deliver your second, because it will be the last time you see them that little. You will be blown away by how incredible your big kid is, how much he has learned but also how grown up he is. After you hold your new baby and then see your big kid suddenly you will flash through all of the things your he has learned and been through since he was that tiny baby in his first minutes of life. It is one of the most emotional realizations I have ever been through, and although bittersweet it is so, so joyous.
Also, be nice to the nurses, they know too much.
Congratulations on what is soon to be a family of 4!
Anyone who knows my son knows he loves cars. He is specifically obsessed with hot wheels. When we go grocery shopping he refers to Save on Foods as “The hot wheels store” because he knows that there’s a selection of them near the checkout. I’m a bit of a sucker, so we’ve made it a tradition that every time we go grocery shopping he’s able to pick 1 hot wheels car as long as he’s on his best behaviour in the store. Lately his favourite place to play with these cars is in the living room window frame, which works out perfectly for me because there’s plenty of beautiful light for most of the day, no matter what the weather is like. Today I took advantage of his playtime to have my own as well, take some shots to truly capture this stage in his life, and play a little race car.
The Survival of the Professional Family Photography Business
It’s time I be honest with myself, and in doing so I’ve decided I’m going to be honest with all of you. This is VERY hard so I ask if you are going to take the time to read this, to please read all of it so there isn’t partial information being spread about. I originally wasn’t planning to post this publicly, but after sending it to my clients last week and receiving incredible support and encouragement I want to put it out there not only for prospective clients, but for inspiration for photographers to be honest with themselves.
This business of mine, that I love so much, was not sustainable in its past state. I entered the world of professional photography in a pretty typical way, through love of photography and children. The problem with entering the business world this way, is that I had no idea what I was doing when it came to business. I’d venture to say most early years photographers, artists and artisans are also about as clueless as I was.
Social media has a way of creating a false sense of success, so we may see someone who is busy and think they’re successful; then developing photographers find someone like this and somewhat replicate their business model. We all try different things as time progresses, because we know that it’s not working but most photographers never make it much past 3 years before they throw in the towel. The reason for this is that we are replicating a model that has zero chance of success, because it’s not based on math (and you all know I LOVE math so how could I insult it so much!!! Ack!).
So what brought on this sudden epiphany? Well it’s not sudden, I’ve been consciously burying it for a while, but I’m just finishing my first ever business related class (an incredible course with the amazingly talented, award winning, internationally recognized photographer Dana Pugh). I enrolled in the class because I knew I needed to be honest with myself, and this was a way of forcing that to happen. The experience has opened my eyes obviously (and made them red and swollen), but I realize I’m not the only one in this situation. So I write this to you because I want you to understand why I’m making the changes I’m making and not feel I am trying to take-advantage. It’s not about competition, and it’s not about greed, it’s about making a justifiable income and no longer running a business like a charity. But I also wanted to share because there is a lack of respect and appreciation for fair wages in photography and I want to help people develop an understanding that I didn’t even have last week. Many people (myself included) have scoffed at photographers charging higher rates, but the truth is they were being real, and we were trying to be popular.
The legitimate photographer (reporting their income) in North America is estimated to make an average annual income of around $15,000 per year (prior to tax deductions). I am right around that mark myself. We have become an industry of undercutting; but I can’t allow my husband to subsidize your photos any longer. I feel my clients are quite smart and fair in understanding that though you see me for 2-6 hours for your sessions; I spend roughly 5 hours preparing for your session, and 5-7 times as long editing as shooting, plus of course time spent learning to be better for you. There are obvious costs to photography; like equipment, licences, props, prints, products, child-care and photographic education, but also more hidden costs like website fees, gallery fees, association fees, equipment maintenance fees, bookkeeping/accounting fees, advertising fees, and time spent establishing all of the services related to these fees. So no, the money you paid me is unfortunately not all staying in my pocket. Believe me, I’m not implying photography is the only industry with hidden fees; almost all business have significant overhead, and this letter is to make us think about what goes into getting everything we often take for granted in our lives.
I am somewhat of an advocate again sweat shops, I refuse to buy knock-offs, I look at tags and avoid Made in _____, for areas with well known worker abuses, I buy locally or at least Canadian grown foods when possible; yet I am running my own business in a similar fashion to one of those businesses I refuse to support. I’m working for faaaar below minimum wage, and I won’t do it anymore because my family deserves better than me valuing spare change over time with them. I have set a goal of being able to make an annual income of $50,000 when I start photographing full time in 2017. If I’m unable to achieve this income Delightful Perception Photography will cease operations.
We Canadians are natural bargain hunters. However, I know many of you truly value your photography and hope you will continue choosing your photographer though their portfolio and not their price list alone, because I wish for all of you to have amazing photos of your family to share, celebrate and look back on. That said, if you find a great photographer for a great ‘deal’ know that you’ll likely be finding a new photographer every few years. I have so loved growing with your families, and am in tears whenever I think about losing the gift of seeing them regularly, but I have to make this change so I can have a CHANCE of success in business, because there is NO chance for this business without this change.
The one favour that I will ask, is that if you are going to talk about artist and artisan pricing you please help me stop the vocally devaluing of people around us. We need to pay our local artists and artisans for their high quality work but most of all we need to stop telling them they’re not worth more than big businesses pay desperate people overseas.