Thursday, March 7, 2013

Never Gamble on your Wedding Photographs

It was my birthday when Neil proposed. He hadn't planned an elaborate event with a brass band or skywriting, "Will you marry me?" But he did have his heart set on asking me on my birthday. The problem was, I had other plans that did not include him. I got a chance to go on vacation with my family so I was miles away. Not to be deterred or delayed, Neil gave me a call. This was before the advent of cell phones so I was on a land line sitting in my sister's living room when he "popped the question." In my mind, there were serious things to discuss before I could answer that question and we certainly couldn't do it long distance and with my family listening in. So I made him agonize for three days until we could be together. The discussion didn't last long.

We married young, at the age of 21 (well he was 21 and I was just short of it). We didn’t know much about planning a wedding but we launched into the process of wedding planning with gusto. Money was tight and we looked carefully at every expenditure. I loved to sew so I decided to make my wedding dress and the shirt that Neil wore (this was 1975 and it was a bit of a “hippie wedding”). The cake was made by a friend (spice cake with maple frosting, yum!) We even scheduled Neil and a friend (who'd both worked in restaurants to get through college) to "chef" the rehearsal dinner at my parent's house.

The one place that we did not consider scrimping was the photography. We chose Silverton photographer, Bill Hanson, a previous president of the Professional Photographers of Oregon (PPO), as our photographer. His images of our Important Day were beautiful. He was a true professional from start to finish.
Just two years later, Neil and I were starting our own photography studio in Monmouth. At the urging of fellow photographer Clarence Palmer, we joined the PPO ourselves. 
We studied our craft and made sure that every image was perfect, or at least as close as we could get. And we learned … FAST! We listened to every bride and groom. What was important to them? As time went on, the wedding photography style and emphasis changed. Our style became more photo journalistic.We added interesting angles and perspectives, details of dresses and flowers, and guests having fun to the posed photographs that were once the mainstay. But we never lost sight of what was important: the people, the story, and the emotions of the day.

Often, people would come up to us and tell us about their own experience with a wedding photographer that was not so happy. There was the bride who told her photographer that the photograph of her father walking her down the aisle was very important to her. After the wedding, she was told that all of the ceremony photographs were “lost” and all they had was one badly exposed photograph from the back of the church. No photograph of her with her father on that special day. He passed away four years later. 

There was the bride that came into the studio a year after the wedding with her dress in tow for a studio portrait because the photographer that had been hired never took a photograph that showed the entire dress. For so many of us, that dress represents so much of what we've dreamed about for years! What was that photographer thinking?

We've seen and heard so many examples of bad lighting, photographs of the backs of heads, "important" photographs never taken, blurry photographs, even photographers that dropped out of sight after the wedding without delivering what had been promised. Sometimes couples brought the bad photographs in to show us. “Is there something you can do with this?” It has broken my heart, time and again. There are some things that you just can’t recreate. It needs to be done right the first time.

Don’t think that digital photography has made these problems disappear. We still hear stories of missing photographs – flash cards can be erased or simply lost, files can be corrupted, hard drives can crash. We hear even more stories of blurry photographs and bad lighting than we used to, as many new photographers just assume the camera will perfectly focus and expose every image by itself and never check what they're getting. In fact, in the digital age, more people think that their friend just starting out in photography will be “good enough”, as if just a camera being there was the only thing that mattered. 

These stories are incentive for Neil and I to give 110% to every wedding that we photograph. It is the fire in our belly. We photograph from every angle and find the story, the people, and the heart in every moment of the day. Mechanical devices have no concept of "story" whatever, but we do! We have learned to find beauty on 100 degree days and find fantastic light at high noon on a cloudless day in the middle of the summer. Of course we back up everything and we back up the back-ups so nothing is ever lost. And we keep our promises. How could we do any less?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Children's Contest 2013- Bigger and Better!

A beauty contest? Really? in 2013? First a little history:

This is the 35th year for the contest. It all began in 1979 with 9 contestants and we called it the "Baby Beautiful Contest". The contestants weren't all babies and personality and expression were always more important than beauty, but we just liked the alliteration of "Baby Beautiful" so we stuck with it for a long time. The problem was, the name said that it was for babies and we were including children as old as 12! The name also said that it was a beauty contest when personality, expression, and a great story were what really counted. Now we include siblings, parents, and even great grandparents and because story telling is an important piece, art takes precedence over beauty. Sometimes the face doesn't even show.  

One of the winners was from the first year of the contest was in the studio recently with his new baby boy (how cool is that!) He is an awesome Daddy:

"Anyone could father a child, but a real man chooses to be a dad.” --J. Sterling

Why do we do this?
We do this to support Operation Backpack. Last year over $2,200 was raised to purchase school supplies for needy school children through entry fees, votes for People's Choice, and 10% from every order. That is a lot of school supplies!

We also love photographing children. Every child is unique and bursting with possibilities. These images tell the children that they are loved, that they are important, it is a small window into the person that they are becoming. It is important that they have beautiful professional photographs as part of their legacy.... a keepsake for the future and something meaningful for their families now.
New this year:
  • You have a choice of two sessions: the Basic Session with one background for $35. There is no limit on the number of poses or number of family members included.The Signature Session is 2-3 backgrounds for $59 and can even include a combination of studio and outdoor. Both sessions include one entry in the contest.
  • A free Facebook image is included with your entry in the contest!
  • More Winners: We have added Best Traditional Portrait and Best Story Telling Portrait in addition to the Grand Prize which is the People's Choice Award. People's Choice is given to the portrait that earns the most "votes" or donations to Operation Backpack. The Best Traditional Portrait will be chosen based on expression by an independent panel of judges. The Best Story Telling Portrait will be chosen based on the story told by the image. Props and creativity are encouraged.
  • Over $1,000 in Prizes! We will keep you updated as the prize list grows. Keep your eye on the Haugen's Galleri Facebook page.
  • Awesome packages. You are going to love some of the new products we have this year!  Packages start at $199.
  • The Easter Petting Zoo will be part of the contest this year. Schedule your time on Saturday, March 16 and have photographs taken with live animals: bunnies, lambs, and even a miniature horse.

How does the contest work?
1. Schedule your portrait session before April 13 by calling the studio - (503)838-5416 or email us today .

2. Schedule a consultation. If you have not been in to the studio before, we find it really helpful to meet with you to plan the session to make sure that your images are truly memorable. We will talk about clothing, backgrounds and possible props.

3. Arrive at the studio a few minutes early for your session with clothing (and props?) in hand. Don't stress. You will have time to dress your children (or undress them) and fuss with their hair. Let us worry about everything else! Get directions from Corvallis or Salem.

4. Schedule a selection appointment for a week after the session. This is very important. Without this appointment, you will not be eligible for the contest. This is when you will select an image to be entered in the contest and any images you want to purchase for yourself.

5. Voting. The Grand Prize is the  People's Choice award for the portrait that earns the most "votes". The votes are actually donations to Operation Backpack. Stuffing the ballot box is encouraged! The more donations, the more children are helped.

6. Awards Ceremony. This will take place sometime in early May. The time and place TBA.

Call before April 13 ~  503-838-5416