What do you consider when selecting your Senior Portrait Photographer? {Northern Virginia Senior Pictures}

When finding the right photographer there are lots of things to consider.  What makes the one you select different than any other?  Do you know the person?  Have you heard things about the person?  Did you meet the person first?

There are so many “faux”tographers now – which is not a compliment.  What is a “faux” tographer?  Well, it refers to someone who picked up a camera, or had a camera and “decided” they could start taking pictures for others for money because they had a nice camera and some people they knew said they “took great photos!”.  Well, mostly anyway.  You get the picture, pardon the pun.

Anyway, if you are ok with that kind of a photographer, great.  I won’t argue with you about why it’s dangerous…but I will encourage you to make sure you are getting what you think you are going to get at least…so it’s not a waste of time or money.

What I do want to do is tell you some things that make our studio different than others.  I encourage everyone interested to come over for a meet and greet…and studio tour.  Once here you can see some of these things in person.

In my years in business I’ve had a few objections and concerns raised that I wanted to address.  Some I could address early, some I had already considered, and others came about as I expanded.  But one promise I make to all my customers – I will always grow and evolve in this business and I will always put my clients needs first.

So here goes —

First, the business name is Patty Schuchman Photography.  I will not hide behind a name that doesn’t mean anything – pass or fail, succeed or not, I will wear the name publicly.  It’s me, and therefore, I work even harder to make it great.

As Patty Schuchman Photography – I basically do it ALL.  From scene design, equipment set up and selection, marketing, social media, answering the phone, taking the photos, processing the photos, packaging the photos, and sweeping the studio – I do it ALL.

Some of those things are more important than others – like taking and processing the photos.  Not all photographers or studios are processing their own images – some send their images out to online resources when your session is done to “polish” them off before you see them.  I can’t, and won’t.  I want my mark on everything.  I took the image, I know how it should look.

I shoot with only the top of the line equipment – and a back up of everything.  I never go without a second camera body ANYWHERE.  And backups of everything else too.  Some of you have been with me when a flash acts up, or a trigger.  What do I do?  I go to my bag and get another one.  No excuses why we can’t continue – that’s not YOUR problem, it’s mine.  And I make sure I don’t impact your time.

I make sure you have variety in your images – not the same photo over and over again.  And you can do it all in one place – we don’t have to drive all over Loudoun County or Northern Virginia to get them – unless of course you want to do that, which we can.  But I strive to never put a client in a dangerous place, and not make you hot and sweaty or take hours of your time finding the perfect field..only to take the photo and blow out the background anyway.  In the end, was it worth the journey???

I will make you look and FEEL great.  That’s part of it – we will find the perfect poses for YOU – and the perfect outfits in the perfect locations.  You bring the clothes, I have the variety to put you in those clothes in the right place.  It will be fun, and it will be easy for YOU.

I will NEVER put you in danger for the shot.  I won’t put you in any place that is illegal, and I will always take safety first.  I’ll put myself in a precarious position for the shot, but not a client.

(as a side note – I know fields of tall grass are big right now, but we’ve just mowed ours down as the tick season is worse than ever this year, and we can’t take those chances….so we’ll be for-going that image in favor of the photographers that might find it important – YOUR health is more important to us)

You can work with a “MUA” – or Make Up Artist if you want- we have some people we love and can recommend.  We don’t make it mandatory.  Photographers that do like them a lot because they call it an “experience” and say it makes you feel great.  In some cases, it’s overdone and makes you look like someone you aren’t, though.  We find parents want images of you as you are – and the model experience is fun, but not for all your senior portraits.  We like the natural look, and don’t mind if that means we spend more time on skin fixing in photoshop.  That’s our job, and we are happy to do it.  And the “MUA”s we work with know we like natural skin looks, so they work to make sure you still look like YOU.  (unless we are doing something total MODEL – then it’s a different type of session)

Our indoor studio is unlike ANY other in all of Northern Virginia.  You have to see it to believe it.  We packed it full of all the amenities you want and need for a great session.  We’re a bit of a drive, but we well worth the extra travel time.  And that is what all the clients say as they see the studio and then leave the studio at the end.

I do not have any order minimums.  I take a chance – and yes, that is how photographers think of it.  My time is valuable as I am only a single person in the business.  I try to maximize my hours as much as possible to make as much money as possible during the time slots I plan activities for, but I will NOT (as of now anyway) go to a minimum purchase for my sessions.  I think it’s off putting to tell someone you can have my time for $150, but you will then also have to guarantee me you will spend another $400 per hour, or more, for that time.  I’ll take the risk you may not want to spend what I value my hours at, and I’ll do it the old fashioned way – I’ll show you images you love, and let you decide how much you want to spend.

My business is 100% photography.  I am a full time professional – so that helps because I have the time to devote to these things.  I am torn between this business and my young children.  I have the freedom to spend all my time on this business and I’ve designed the business to work around my life too.  I mean – where else can I begin a blog post at 8 am in my pjs and know I have time to finish it while sipping my tea, and in between opening the door for the dogs to go in and out?  And I might, or might not, have a kitty cat walking over my keyboard as I type this too….(but that never happens when I edit, I promise LOL)

I’ve seen some “faux” tographers do some really crazy things.  Just saw something that made my head spin around just two days ago…two cars on the side of the road in a very busy intersection area …looked like a car accident as why else would two cars pull over in such a dangerous place?  Well, no…just a photographer in the weeds on the side of the road taking photos of some young girls.  I must be missing something, because I can’t imagine why THOSE weeds were so great that the personal safety of the people and the vehicles..theirs and OTHERS who had to drive past made that a good idea.

I could go on and on…but selecting your photographer has to involve trust.  Because you will spend time with them, and your time is valuable.  You have to trust you are making the right choice and that you will get the images you think you will get in the end.


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