F.A.Q.

Newborn Photographer MNI am a Twin Cities newborn photographer, with a studio in Plymouth, Minnesota. I have built my studio as part of my home, in a quiet cul-de-sac with plenty of parking in my driveway just steps from the door. You'll find easy access to shops and restaurants less than a mile away if you'd like to step out for lunch during your baby's session. It may be your first opportunity for a moment alone since the baby was born :) Since I am in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, my photography clients primarily come from Plymouth, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Medina, Maple Grove, Golden Valley, Rogers, St. Louis Park, Edina, and Eden Prairie.
As a print photographer, I offer a full-service experience to my clients, which includes physical products. I believe if you invest in professional photography, you deserve professional products.  Unless otherwise specified (for example, a special mini-session), digital files are not included as part of your session fee, but they are available for purchase.
I am delighted to use a Sony alpha a7ii.  It is a mirrorless camera, which makes it smaller and less visually intimidating to children, as well as quieter, since there is no mirror "kachunking" up and down with every shot (no scary noises to wake up sleeping newborns!).  My a7ii is also full-frame, which means the sensor is much larger than those consumer cameras and can take in way more information. That lets me take amazing photos even in very low lighting! However, I do use a Jinbei professional studio light, with a soft ball modifier that creates a soft, consistent light - that means no flashes in your little one's eyes.
Wayzata Newborn Photo SessionMy specialty is a posed newborn photo session. This means I have special posing and lighting equipment to help me achieve a stylized look. During your session, I will carefully help your baby into certain poses while maintaining the highest safety standards. Some photos will be on props, such as baskets and crates, some will be on the posing bag, and some will feature you holding your baby in front of a backdrop. I have created my studio to produce this type of newborn portrait, so there is no need for you to clean or prepare your home in any way before the shoot. I know you have more important things to do :)
I created all of the photos on the home page and Portfolio sections of my website. However, part of my business is creating beautiful things with photos people already have in their possession.  They send me the photos, and I design the albums and slideshows.  Therefore, there are some other photographers featured in the A La Carte Design section of the site (you can see their names at the top of the page when you open each portfolio item). There are also images in my Packages section that feature other photographers on the sample products.
For local photography clients, I personally hand-deliver your products, so I am available to give advice and assistance when hanging wall art.  For other clients, I usually ship via USPS Priority Mail, which takes 2-3 days to arrive.
If you have submitted your photos to me for an album or slideshow design, I will never share your product publicly without your permission. If you are a photography client, I do retain the copyright on all images that I create as well as the right to share them on my website. However, if this is an issue for you and you would prefer to keep your images private, please discuss this with me prior to booking and we will work something out. If you have shared your contact information with me, including signing up for my email newsletter, I will never sell or share that information with a third party. I will only use that information to contact you about your order and inform you about promotions. If you pay for your session or product directly via my secure site, your financial information remains private (even from me - everything is handled through my secure payment gateway provider).

A photo book is similar to a scrapbook and a photo album, because it is a way to display photos and tell the story of an experience. However, a traditional photo album begins as a blank book, with sticky pages or clear plastic pockets for separately printed photos to be inserted later. A photo book is printed all at once -- photos are incorporated as part of the page design, and everything is printed on single sheets of paper that are then bound together into an album. Think of it like publishing a very limited run of books about your life!

For a more detailed comparison, read my blog post. To see some examples of photo books, see my Showcase..

I offer four primary sizes of albums:

 
Custom album design 6x6"

6x6" - My custom children's books are 6 inches square, perfect for toddler hands! This size is also great for slipping a "brag book" into your purse.

Custom album design 8x8"

8x8" - This is the base size for my regular family and wedding albums. Plenty of room for photos, but doesn't feel quite "grand" enough for some special occasions.

Custom album design 10x10

10x10" - This is my preferred size for family albums - slightly more real estate than that 8x8" option, but not as visually overwhelming as the 12x12".

Custom album design 12x12

12x12" - The big kahuna, great for big life events, such as baby books and wedding albums. This size feels like a keepsake the moment you lay eyes on it.

There are other options, including rectangular 8x10 and 8x12 albums if you prefer a landscape album to a square one.  Just let me know what you have in mind!

Standard pages 37mmMy regular albums have a page thickness of about .37mm, which is less than the thickness of  an American penny.  This is noticably thicker than you normally see with press-printed books, such as Shutterfly or Blurb.  It's the thickness of two photos back-to-back, since my printers use real photographic paper.

  Custom flush mount album design

My flush-mount albums have extra-thick pages of about 1.45mm, which is almost the same thickness as a penny.  These are extremely sturdy pages with an inflexible cardboard core.

I offer three primary types of covers on my albums:

Custom Family Photo Album

PhotoCover

PhotoCover

This is a hard cover book with your photos printed directly onto the cover, like a hardback you might see in a store.

The cover is "wraparound", meaning it can be one single really wide photo if you like, going from front to back.  Or your covers can be a collage of your favorite photos from inside the book.  Almost anything is possible!

You can include text on the front or back covers, and even on the spine. This is the option included in base album prices.  

Custom-Wedding-Album-Design-Jessica-and-Daniel-2

Genuine Leather

Genuine Leather

All-natural elegantly distressed leather gives your album a luxury feel.

Leather albums cannot have text on the spine or back cover.  They can, however, have elegant inscriptions on the front cover.

You can get your leather album in black, brown, gray, or red.  

Custom photo book album design by Life Remembered

Imitation Leather

Imitation Leather

This is a great compromise - the look of leather without the cost or animal-based source!

As with leather albums, imitation leather albums cannot feature text on the spine or back cover.  They can also have front cover inscriptions.  

Imitation leather colors include:

Custom album design by Life Remembered

Imitation Leather Color Options

 

There are other options if you are interested, such as fabric die-cut or acrylic covers.  Just reach out and let me know what you have in mind!

When you order an imitation or genuine leather cover on your album, you have the option of inscribing the cover.  There are two areas on the front cover that may be inscribed: the center, and the bottom right corner. If you choose a generic phrase, the inscription can be in a serif font. All custom text (for example, "Sarah and John, 2016"), will be either Century Gothic or Trajan Pro font.

Custom album design

Inscription Types:

Custom album design

Gold inscription

Custom album design

Silver inscription

Custom album design

Debossing (no leaf)


Example of book-style binding

"Book-style" or "Magazine-style" pages are just that - they are bound like books and have a "gutter".  If you leave them open on a table, you will see the pages curve up and then down into the spine in the middle.  The inside edges of your pages are "swallowed" in the gutter, so you need to keep that in mind when editing. Each page is an individual entity.  This style is common in lower-level DIY photobook companies, like Shutterfly or Snapfish.

Example of layflat binding

"Layflat" pages do not have such a gutter (or it is extremely narrow).  With the printing company I currently use, each two-page spread is actually printed on a single piece of photographic paper.  In a 12x12" album, that's a photograph two feet wide!  This allows for much more creative flexibility when doing layouts.  You can have extremely striking photos spread across the middle, giving them as much room as they need.  There is still a slight crease in the gutter, so I avoid placing people's faces across the exact middle.

Layflat pages are usually thicker than usual as well, which lends a premium feel.  They are thus less prone to bending and creasing.  In fact, my one-year-old has been using and abusing her layflat alphabet book for five months, and it still looks brand new!  Flush-mount albums, a higher-end variant, have pages mounted on stiff backing so they do not bend at all.

Yes! The guidelines I provide are for the average number of photos per page, which usually averages to about four in an 8x8 album. If you would like more photos per page, that is easily done. Unless your photos require a lot of additional editing, there is no extra charge for fitting more photos in the book. If you don't want to crowd your layouts but still want more photos included, you can easily purchase additional pages for the book (prices vary depending on book size and package). Montages can definitely incorporate more photos for an additional fee - just let me know and we'll work out a package.

Most people's experience with slideshows is limited to projects created using office software, such as Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation program.  This is not what I do!

The next level of up from PowerPoint is usually video editing software, like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.  These are certainly an improvement, but I prefer using professional software that is dedicated to slideshow production.

I choose from hundreds of slide styles and transitions to create visual movement for still images. I never realized a slideshow could tell such a dynamic story before I found this software. People who have only seen basic PowerPoint shows are often shocked at what is possible. I really encourage you to check out examples of my work.

Yes! Slideshows can be composed of both still photos and short video clips. Ideal clip length is about 10 seconds. Be sure to leave a 2-second buffer at the beginning and end of your clip to allow for a smooth transition.
  • Horizontal/landscape videos look best. If you are using a phone, try to hold it horizontally instead of vertically.
  • When you press Record, wait 2-3 seconds before speaking, and let the camera run for 2-3 seconds after you are done before you hit Stop.
  • If possible, stand facing a window with natural light. If not, make sure you have plenty of lamps facing you (not behind you).
  • Remember to turn off anything that makes background noise, such as space heaters and fans.
  • Less is more: the ideal clip length is just 7-10 seconds of talking!
I thought very carefully about this question, because I would love nothing more than to use whatever music file you send me in your video. However, this is actually illegal. Buying a song on CD or iTunes does not actually provide a license to use it in a commercial project. I cannot legally use that music and sell the results to you. If you see vendors or photographers offering this elsewhere, they are almost certainly breaking the law (licenses for this purpose are in the tens of thousands of dollars, if you can get them at all). Beyond the legalities of it, I wouldn't want to use someone else's creation without their permission. I would hate it if someone excerpted my work and sold it! I want to run this business in such a way that I never have to be ashamed to describe it to my daughter, so I've decided not to violate copyright, even though it may cost me clients. For more information on this issue, read this article or this one.

Never done this before? No problem. It pretty much looks like this:

  1. You send me your photos using a super-simple website.
  2. We chat about what might look good.
  3. I send you a draft, you ask for changes, I make changes. Rinse and repeat as desired.
  4. An amazing album or slideshow appears on your doorstep.

That’s it! You can even skip steps 2 and 3 if you like.

After you place your order, I will send you clear instructions for sending me your photos and video clips. I use a very simple, user-friendly website for this. All you need to do is enter your email address, my email address, and select the files on your computer. Done!
I would love to! Additional copies of the same book or video are available at a considerable discount. Books usually range from $50-200, depending on the type, and additional DVDs and Blurays are just $25 each.
I do require that your content be digital when you send it to me.  I recommend finding a local company to scan your photos - scanning the entire collection yourself is a very large undertaking, and I'd caution you to really think about whether you have the time. If you are looking to purchase a scanner, I recommend the Flip-Pal. I have been using my Flip-Pal for several years, and I have been extremely happy with it.

What is a Flip-Pal?

The Flip-Pal is a handheld scanner, perfect for scanning photos on the go, whether you're in your basement or in Grandma's living room. It's small, fast, and easy to use - a great way to turn TV-on-the-Couch time into Finally-Get-This-Done time!

Disclosure:

I am a Flip-Pal "ambassador", which means I am an affiliate and will earn a small compensation if you purchase a Flip-pal through my link. However, I am an affiliate because I respect the product, not vice versa. I genuinely think this is the best solution in many cases, whether you buy through my link or not, and I will be honest about its shortcomings.

What's so great about the Flip-Pal?

  • It is extremely light and easy to carry, and fits into small bags and purses.
  • Very easy to use, even if you are not "techie". Just put the photo in and press the big green button!
  • Scans at either 300 DPI or 600 DPI - more than enough for most uses.
  • You can use it without a computer, again making it easier to scan on the go. No wrestling with a laptop - just sit and chat with Grandma while you quietly process photos using only the scanner and memory card.
  • You can scan through glass, meaning you don't have to remove fragile photos from old frames or albums. You can even scan small objects or fabric.
  • Although it's best suited for 4x6 pictures, you can scan larger items in sections and the software automatically "stiches" everything together when you load the photos onto your computer.
  • It's entirely battery-operated, so you don't need to worry about sitting near an electrical outlet.
  • It's safe for old documents. In fact, it's the only scanner permitted in the National Archives because it does not risk damaging originals.
  • It's very reasonably priced (I recommend the bundle with the carrying case, which is $175 as of January 2015).

Be honest - what is less great about it?

  • It's sort of annoying if you have a lot of large-format images to scan, like 8x10 photos or documents.
  • It only uses batteries, so you should have a set of rechargeables (or a very techie husband who can hack a power cord for it!).
  • It does not automatically crop photos, so anything smaller than 4x6 ends up with white bars around it that need manual cropping. In my personal experience, this has been the biggest weakness.

Who should buy one?

Anyone who wants to easily scan 4x6 photos in relative comfort and who doesn't want to spend very much money is a great candidate for a Flip-Pal.

Who is NOT a great candidate?

Anyone who wants a lot of technical control over scan settings, or who needs to scan a ton of larger photos, should probably keep shopping.

Convinced?

Flip-Pal If you have decided to purchase a Flip-Pal, that's great! Please let me know, because I would love to get your opinions about it. I only want to continue recommending the brand if people are finding them useful. Please click on the graphic to visit the Flip-Pal site.
If you have submitted your photos to me for an album or slideshow design, I will never share your product publicly without your permission. If you are a photography client, I do retain the copyright on all images that I create as well as the right to share them on my website. However, if this is an issue for you and you would prefer to keep your images private, please discuss this with me prior to booking and we will work something out. If you have shared your contact information with me, including signing up for my email newsletter, I will never sell or share that information with a third party. I will only use that information to contact you about your order and inform you about promotions. If you pay for your session or product directly via my secure site, your financial information remains private (even from me - everything is handled through my secure payment gateway provider).
I know this is an important investment, and I want you to be completely happy with it!  That's why I offer up to 10 rounds of revisions on my custom projects (templated children's books, such as the alphabet book, include 2).  This is much more than enough for most clients (3 is the average number of revisions). If this limit is a concern for you, we can discuss special circumstances. I used to offer unlimited revisions - until the client who requested more than 100 drafts of her album!
It's very possible!  I don't keep all files from my projects, but I do keep some.  If you are featured in the Showcase, your chances are much higher!  Please reach out and I'll see what I can do.
Because all of my work is custom, I do not offer refunds. However, if your final product does not match the proof we have agreed on (meaning there was an error in production), I will happily replace the item free of charge. If you have paid a retainer for an item you can no longer use (for example, an album for a wedding that is cancelled), you can use that credit toward a different item that I offer.
You can! But like many tasks we hire specialists for, there is a trade-off. I have been designing albums for years, and have developed an eye for photographic storytelling. This means I create from scratch, rather than forcing your photos into pre-made templates. I am extremely familiar with the software of this industry, and its quirks. I have also researched various publishers and I deliver quality photo-printed albums, not press-printed books. But most of all? I love to do it. You probably don't, or you would have done it already. Let me take this off your plate and turn your years of photos into a finished album.
The ability to take gorgeous photos and the ability to layout those photos to tell a story in a book are two very different skillsets. Yet many people hire the same person to perform both tasks, even for important events like weddings. I have spoken to many photographers off the record, and not one has ever said they enjoy putting together albums. It is often considered a "necessary evil" -- just part of the job. Their passion is photography, not graphic design, but they do it so their clients will see the photos in print. When you hire me, you are hiring someone passionate about design. For more details, see my blog post.
SimpleEleganceApril

"Simple Elegance" albums emphasize the photography itself, letting the photos speak for themselves. Page backgrounds are solid colors, usually white or black. It is common to see a single photo spread across an entire page, with smaller photos on the other half of the spread. While I still do not use templates, there is a generally consistent feel to the layouts. Captions are rare.  

"Storyteller" albums have more visual details added to the photos. I incorporate patterned backgrounds, borders, frames, and "embellishments" (small illustrations). This style resembles a traditional scrapbooking aesthetic, but is less elaborate. Each Storyteller album has a very different feel than the next.

What kind of albums are best suited for Simple Elegance?

Photos from professional photographers generally look best in Simple Elegance albums, especially wedding photos. The images tend to have a similar visual feel, so they are cohesive. They have a higher resolution, so single photos can spread comfortably across a page. And they usually tell their own "story", of a special day or time in family's life.

Can I still upgrade to leather covers or a flush-mount album with Simple Elegance?

Yes! The two lines refer only to the design process, and they can be produced with all the same features.

Is there a price difference?

Simple Elegance albums have a lower price point than Storyteller albums, because I am able to be more efficient in my design process and don't need to purchase additional graphic materials. Extra albums (parent copies, for example) have no price difference.

Where can I see examples? StorytellerExample

An excellent comparison can be found in the Bellatrix albums. "Waiting for Bellatrix" is the story of my pregnancy with her, and it is classic Storyteller. Observe all the patterned digital "papers" and shapes I used, plus the journaling. EleganceExample

Contrast this to my "Shamblins 2014" album. It picks up approximately where Bella's maternity book left off, but it is a clear example of Simple Elegance. White backgrounds, no shapes, no patterns, very little text.

Either style will leave you with a beautiful album you can treasure for years to come. Please contact me if you're not sure which style is right for you!

Example of book-style binding

"Book-style" or "Magazine-style" pages are just that - they are bound like books and have a "gutter".  If you leave them open on a table, you will see the pages curve up and then down into the spine in the middle.  The inside edges of your pages are "swallowed" in the gutter, so you need to keep that in mind when editing. Each page is an individual entity.  This style is common in lower-level DIY photobook companies, like Shutterfly or Snapfish.

Example of layflat binding

"Layflat" pages do not have such a gutter (or it is extremely narrow).  With the printing company I currently use, each two-page spread is actually printed on a single piece of photographic paper.  In a 12x12" album, that's a photograph two feet wide!  This allows for much more creative flexibility when doing layouts.  You can have extremely striking photos spread across the middle, giving them as much room as they need.  There is still a slight crease in the gutter, so I avoid placing people's faces across the exact middle.

Layflat pages are usually thicker than usual as well, which lends a premium feel.  They are thus less prone to bending and creasing.  In fact, my one-year-old has been using and abusing her layflat alphabet book for five months, and it still looks brand new!  Flush-mount albums, a higher-end variant, have pages mounted on stiff backing so they do not bend at all.

Many photo book companies (like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Blurb) offer "press printed" books. But while the colors in a photo printed book appear sharp and smooth, press-printed books can sometimes appear grainy. Why? Press printing is a halftone process -- it uses lots of tiny dots of ink close together to give the appearance of smooth transitions. This is very difficult to do well, however, hence the grain you sometimes see. True photo printing uses a chemical process of exposure on photographic paper, which allows it to more accurately represent all the various tones and gradations in your photos. For more details and examples, see my blog post here.
For local photography clients, I personally hand-deliver your products, so I am available to give advice and assistance when hanging wall art.  For other clients, I usually ship via USPS Priority Mail, which takes 2-3 days to arrive.