Girl On Fire and Why I Don’t Sell a CD of Images

I call her that, because she is.  First of all, she is going to college on a softball scholarship.  That much dedication to anything always impresses me.  Add to that her personality, and throw in the fact that she’s gorgeous…..and SO mature, wow.  This was definitely a favorite session of mine..I had a great time.  10

And so, since I had a great time, because I usually do, the session just doesn’t seem like work.  It seems more like fun.  Even when I’m shooting a session in the snow, or rain, or tramping through weeds, it’s all fun and even exciting for me.  So I consider myself lucky, to do a job I love.


So, I do love most things about my job, but I figured now is as good a time as any to explain a little about the business side of things.  (not so fun)  I’ve heard many times people saying how they can get a 5×7 at Wal- Mart for $1.  I agree..it’s true.  Or they say, “I just want a cd of images”  …..which I don’t sell.   So those of you who wonder about all that….here’s a little bit of info.


The work I do is fun, but the bottom line is:  It’s Still Work.  And while I would love to do it for free, I haven’t won the lottery so I have to make a living.  When you come to me for portraits, you come to me because you want gorgeous photography, and that is what I intend to give you…every….single…..time.   To give you that gorgeous photography…….here is a little about what is involved……


I spend approximately 10 hours on each client.  I spend time on the phone with them, planning their session.  We talk about what they should wear, what they can bring.  I plan my outdoor shoots for a certain time of day, and I always follow up with clients a few days before the shoot to narrow that time down or adjust it if necessary.  Then, shooting day involves one to three hours of time.


But it doesn’t end there, I then spend up to 8 hours editing your proofs.  Yes, and I’m not talking crazy mad photoshopping, I’m talking the basic time it takes to cull photos, open each file, adjust contrast, color, exposure, smooth skin and a few other tweaks.  Going as fast I can, just for basic edits…….minimum five minutes per image.  (and that’s one reason I don’t do weddings….I really, REALLY have no desire to do that to 1,000 images at a time)


So, for each client, lets say I spend 10 hours, and want to pay myself $20 an hour (which is very small considering then I pay social security and employment taxes out of that, plus no benefits)  That comes to $200.  So now you’re thinking, wow, she’s making $200 per client, she should just give me the CD of images for that.


But, the paying myself a measly wage is just about 1/4 of the real expenses.  You want the best photography, and to offer the best that I can, I am constantly paying for education in my craft.  My computer is an expensive one, it has to be, my software costs me hundreds of dollars each year.  Cameras get a certain number of clicks before they die, it costs me $20 just to turn my camera on for a shoot.


Have you priced studio lights lately?  Thousands of dollars…..then there is building rent and utilities.  So…………I could go on and on, but the quick rundown is:  You aren’t just getting a 5×7 piece of paper when you buy a 5×7 from me.  All of the above (and more) goes into making that image you love which just happens to be on a 5×7 (or whatever) piece of paper.


And so……..This is why I charge what I charge.  I’m not cheating you when I charge you more than Wal Mart does for a piece of paper.  Because you’re not getting a piece of paper.  I charge what I charge so I can stay in business doing what I love, creating images like this.


And sometimes, the best ones, are the fun ones…….like this…..


And now you know….when you order pictures from me…….you are paying $27 for the education, backgrounds, props, rent, utilities, cameras, lighting, taxes (etc,)  that goes into the artwork that goes onto a 5×7………but I’ll throw in the paper for free…… 😉


Girl Power……we believe!!!!

So…..many of you know that I bought a little house to turn into a studio.  I still do mostly on location outdoor photography……but I did need a place to shoot babies, and  little sessions….and I guess I forgot how much I used to enjoy studio shooting, because it’s been fun.  Anyway……I prepped a room to shoot in….and a little reception area…but I needed a dressing room…and a spot for clients to fix hair…makeup….or just look at themselves in a mirror.  The tiny bathroom just wasn’t going to cut it.  And I have literally almost no budget for this type of thing….so I went to Lowes to wander around and come up with ideas.   So I thought…….I’ll buy a vanity light fixture and wire it with a lamp wiring kit so I can plug it into the wall since I have no wiring in my walls….and that is something I haven’t yet attempted.   So…….I did it………..I bought a light fixture…..and a wiring kit…..studio-1 copyweb

And trust me……I definitely used the instructions on this one…..

studio-2 copyweb

okay so the light kit wired to my plug wire……… studio-4 copyweb

And then after everything reassembled…….I plugged it in.  It works!!! studio-6 copyweb

Then off to the studio………I hung a mirror I already had, and bought a shelf and some brackets……paired with a $10 stool from Goodwill……..so for about $55……..a makeup area for my clients….yay!studio-14 copyweb

And while we are at the studio you might as well see where the magic happens…..lol…. studio-17 copyweb

and this is the reception area…….remember that chandelier that I bought and refurbished?  There it hangs….front and center….I love it.studio-19 copyweb

And that wall……….with the pictures…….I did the drywall…..yes I’m bragging…… studio-20 copyweb

On your way out……..this is your view…….

studio-18 copyweb

I wanted my girls to help me…….because I want them to know that……………

studio-10 copyweb

With the right bling…………studio-8 copyweb

A girl can do anything!   Girl Power……………..this is for you Brooklyn…..we Believe!

studio-7 copyweb


Before and After

So, I’ve never done this on here…but I thought I’d let you in on a peek of some before and after  photos.  Most people don’t know that with digital cameras, the photo’s aren’t meant to come out of the camera ready to print.  Even if the color and exposure is completely accurate in camera, adjustments in contrast and sharpening need to be made.  That being said, I usually have to color correct my pictures, and I usually tweak the exposure, then comes the contrast and sharpening.  Often I crop….and all that just to start a picture.   After that…..if there are blemishes….stray hairs……those have to be fixed.

For me photoshop isn’t about making someone look different than reality, it’s about bringing out the best in the photo.  So for your viewing pleasure, some before’s and afters…………



This is before…..it was shady and so the lighting was cool……..

And here is the after, increased contrast and warmed up…….

Another before…….a little bit of a pullback, you can see my giant reflector……

And after….the giant reflector cropped out and everything else tweaked….









Posts, seniors

September Senior Special

Okay, I jumped the gun a little on announcing this, just to give everyone a chance before the dates fill up.  Yep, you’re reading it right, no session fee for studio sessions for seniors in September.  Here are the details:

Your session must be in the studio, and in September.

You WILL have to pay a $50 retainer to hold your spot…..this is to make sure everyone has a chance for a session.  It’s not fair to anyone if my book fills up and I have to turn people away, and then someone doesn’t show up for their session.

When you order your photos, your $50 is credited to the amount.  If you don’t like any of your pictures and don’t want to order any….you get your $50 back. (But THAT’S not gonna happen cause I know you’re gonna love em   😉 )

Simple!  So call or email me soon…once my dates fill up….that’s it!   740-314-7976  or email :  selinaphillipsphotography@yahoo.com


Happy Birthday Sydney

My earliest memory is from before I was two.  I was in my mother’s arms and she was carrying me outside to our car parked in front of our house.  the street was lined with trees so the sun cast dapples of light on everything.  I took everything in, the trees, cars, houses and my mothers hair tickling my cheek.  Across the street I saw a woman come out of her house to get into her car.  She opened the auto door and looked up at us.  My mother waved and smiled at her but without acknowledging we were there, she got into her car and drove away.    I immediately felt a tightness in my belly and a wave of protectiveness overtook me; I thought of my mother.  What was she thinking?  Were her feelings hurt?  Did that woman dislike us?  Why would she ignore us?  I scrutinized her face looking for some sort of indication, but it revealed nothing.  She caught me looking at her, kissed me, and put me in the car.  That was the end of the moment for her, but it was a beginning of something for me.  It was the first time I remember wanting to be a warrior for my mother.

Fast forward a few years and I am outside in the yard on a sunny day, playing with my brothers, sister and father.  As is often the case, we are squealing for him to throw us into the air.  “My turn, my turn, my turn” is all he hears.   We  lie on the grass on our backs and our father grabs us by the ankles and pick us up, swinging us upside down.  He swings us back through his legs, then forward, back and forth building up momentum until finally with the last swing up he lets go, and up into the air we fly, with butterflies in our stomachs as the ground moves away.  When it is my turn, I can never get high enough, and although the moment lasts just a second, it seems much longer.  A moment of fearlessness, of knowing I can do anything, and of complete trust in my father’s ability to catch me.  Never once do I worry I will fall.

I tell this story to go along with my daughter’s birthday pictures, as a reminder of some of the childhood moments that shaped me.  The moments of worry and fearlessness, because at some time when I wasn’t paying close attention, my worries overtook my fearlessness, and it stayed hidden for many years.  Fearlessness has found me again and I am happy to have her back.

So my birthday wish for my little girl is this:  “Sydney, may your fearlessness always keep your worries at bay, and you can fly.”

Happy 10th birthday, I love you




Working on the studio……

So , many of you know that although I’ve been primarily an on location photographer, I’ve been talking about opening a studio.  I still hope to do most of my shoots outside, because I love the creative possibilities and the endless amount of backdrops, the lighting challenges, but I have wanted to have a place where I can meet with clients, so they can see large prints hanging on a wall, touch albums and other products.  This will also give me a space to shoot newborns and babies…..I’m very excited.   So, here is what my kids and I have been doing………

Here are my girls, painting my sign…..

I think the blue fingernail polish helps with the creativity……..

And….the finished sign…..soon to be hanging in front of the studio……….

This is the front room where I will meet with clients and they can place orders….the wall was covered in pine paneling and the doorway had been enclosed years ago….

I enlisted the help of my kids….two of my sons hauling the pine paneling out to the truck……

My girls cleaning up a little……

Back home with a truck full of wood, my crew……….

And, I thought the whole work-day was going to cost me just a bag of twizzlers for my kids……however, now I am out a truck window…….sheesh…..and it was the last piece of wood, little man got a little too excited and threw it into the truck.  Ah well……..we had a good day.


Triplets plus one…….

Umm…….six year old triplets and a 7 year old brother…….I have to admit I was nervous about how this would turn out….but these kids were a hoot!  I loved every minute….and I think they liked the balloons ……;-)


Gorgeous girl, gorgeous light

I’ve been enjoying summer vacation, and not blogging.  But eventually everyone has to go back to work, right?  I thought you might like these pictures of this gorgeous girl.