Category Archives: Your Q&A

Print Company Comparison

I am a professional print lab enthusiast, and the results from this comparison even surprised ME! I’ve been selling digital files for about two years now, and every time I sell a DVD, I get asked where is the best consumer place to order prints from. My answer has always been, however I decided it was time to put our local print companies to the test to see if any could compare to the online option. As you will see below, no one really measures up to Mpix. What did surprise me were the wide, WIDE range of color casts (does anyone like a green baby??), and how horrid Costco prints are! There, I said it! Yes, I know they are cheaper. Yes, I know they might be faster than ordering from me, your caring, loveable photographer. But you know what they say about fast, cheap and good? You’re not going to find all three at the same time!

{Keep in mind that all of these are pictures of the prints I received, so while I tried to keep all of the colors as true to life as possible, there was some quality loss that is unavoidable.}

Something I want to touch on for a moment is why the DVD costs $500 on its own and only $250 when you purchase a collection of prints. Yes, I can do math, and I understand that with my smallest collection and the DVD, your bill is only $400. Why do I do that? It’s always my goal to get fabulous, high-quality, properly colored prints in your hot little hands. From every session. I always want you to have a baseline for what is “good” so that when your prints come back green (or orange, or super dark, as you will see further down) you will know that you DESERVE better. You didn’t spend all of the time and money on your custom portrait session to go home and either let a DVD sit in your desk drawer OR spend more of your hard earned money on prints only to have them turn out green, orange or way too light or dark. Spending a little more time and money, or choosing the best of the best consumer lab is going to help ensure you enjoy looking at your family’s memories for years to come.

So, why is my recommendation Mpix? Overall, Target printed things very orange and with more contrast than I like, plus they only offer glossy paper. Costco printed dark, muddy colors with a lot of extra green. Walmart printed very orange also, and WAY oversaturated the colors. See the orange baby above? No bueno. I LOVE my print lab, they do a spot on job every single time, but if you can’t have them, Mpix is the place to order from. You can do everything online, they have low shipping costs, and deliver the prints right to your mailbox. You don’t even have to get out of your PJs for great prints!

And just so you know it applies to all types of portraits, a few more comparisons for your viewing amusement.

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Your Q & A {why mini sessions?}

I’ve started a bi-weekly post dedicated to answering all of your questions! Today’s question  is: Why are mini sessions priced differently than regular sessions?

Mini sessions are priced a little lower than regular sessions for several reason:

1. Mini sessions are much shorter than regular sessions, and you get a small # of images. This does not mean you get any less service, however we do not have as much leeway for fussy little ones, a baby that needs a snack, etc. compared to a full session.

2. These are grouped back-to-back, offering me the chance to squueze in 3-4 sessions an hour and maximize my time in order to give you the best price possible.

3. Lastly, I wanted to create an option for someone who is wanting to try out my photography before committing to a full session, or for my regular clients who want a few updated pictures in-between their normal yearly sessions.

E-mail Mandi  |  Facebook Mandi  |  Easter Mini Session Info

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Your Q & A {my start in photography}

I’ve started a bi-weekly post dedicated to answering all of your questions! Today’s question  is: Why did you start doing photography?

{Meet the Murphy Family. One of my favorite Celebrating Adoption families to date, and one that totally “gets” lifestyle photography. There is never a dull moment with them, and I ADORE them for it!}

Today’s question came from a dear friend and client of mine, Lauren. My journey to being a photographer started a long time ago. If you know me well, you know I have no musical talent. No artistic (drawing, painting, etc) talent. I love colors, I love design, but when I was a pre-teen and teenager I would have told you I had NO artistic talent. Around 15 or so I started taking pictures, usually on trips or during family gatherings, and my Grandma got me into scrapbooking. At my high school you have to take 2 fine art credits, so my senior year of high school I saved all summer, bought a SLR film camera, and accidentally fell into the world of photography. We would have assignments and I found myself really drawn to photographing people, as opposed to things. I immediately moved photographing baseball (both of my brothers played), little kids, pretty much anyone who would hold still long enough for me to take their picture. After only a few months I was hooked on photography, and my second semester senior year I actually took two periods of photography. In the darkroom, I would put on some music, and just let go, tweaking each picture until I loved them (although I am a digital photog convert, the darkroom is still a place that holds my heart.)

Fast forward a bit, I was doing a few weddings or senior portraits here and there, but was focused on other things in life like college, working as a nanny, etc. During my junior year of college I moved to Seattle, and that summer Kris and I were married. At this point I was pursuing a degree in Children, Youth and Family Ministries, and I felt like all of the time I spent serving at church was because it was assigned in a class, not necessarily because I wanted to be there. I have a heart of service, and really needed that outlet of giving back to others. I found Celebrating Adoption on a photography forum I belonged to, and started doing free sessions for families who had recently adopted. I had always held to the notion that I didn’t ever want photography to become work, but the more I did these sessions, and the more the families asked me to come back and photograph them again, or their children’s birthdays, the more I felt like I could handle the business side and still focus on the photography, the part I love. Fast forward 4 and a half years, and here I am.

As for why I am drawn to photographing people, particularly families, I think it stems from having such a great family myself, and wanting to help others capture those important relationships and memories. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, and as much as we think in the moment we will remember things, life is full. It’s busy. I feel like what I do is create a little time capsule for each family, each senior, each newborn that they can look back upon in a few weeks or many years, and remember how things were. I also think that it is important, especially as women, that we get the chance to see ourselves as others see us. We spend so much time caring for those around us, and often not giving ourselves the credit we are due. There is profound power and grace is seeing yourself captured in this wonderful moment giggling with your child, or surrounded by those you love, and who love you back. I don’t believe that photography is just for those who have it all together, and for when things are perfect. Personally, I think that photography should capture the everyday, the routine and the special. It’s why I love the tagline real. life. captivating. I want my photography to be real, and I want it to show life how it is today, and I want the end result to be captivating. But I also believe that real life is captivating, and so often we overlook the simple joys in our hurry.

{And because I do practice what I preach, a lovey shot from my own family session this past fall, done by the always sweet and funny Mary Collier}

Do you have a question about what kinds of sessions I offer, what to wear for sessions or about the products I carry? Visit the Facebook page and leave your question! If it gets chosen for a blog feature, you will win a free print from your next session!

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Your Q&A

I’ve started a bi-weekly Monday post dedicated to answering all of your questions! Today’s question  is: When is best to schedule a newborn session?

This is hands-down one of the questions I get asked most. The answer is a two parter. The best time to call or e-mail to get on my calendar is before your little one arrives. I know first hand just how hectic life is with a new baby, and the last thing you want to do while sleep-deprived is have to find and book a newborn photographer. Give yourself a break, and call me in your second or third trimester. We will get the paperwork done and I will add your due date to my schedule. When your baby arrives, have someone give me a call or e-mail and we will set up your appointment, I will resend the tips and tricks for a successful session, and then your hard work is done! I always leave flexibility in my schedule for newborns, so even if your little one has arrived, don’t hesitate to give me a call!

Now, onto the real question, which is when in the baby’s first few weeks is best to schedule your session. My personal preference is for your session to happen when baby is 5-12 days old. There are many reasons I have settled on this window of time, including ease of getting baby full and sleepy. I have done newborn sessions before day 5, and after day 12, and most of the time we’ve worked it out and gotten fantastic pictures. That said, I don’t like to chance it, when possible.

*now, a note for all of those newbies who spend some extra time in the hospital. That date range is a best case scenario, and if you spend a few extra weeks (or months!) getting big and healthy enough to come home, I still want you to come visit me! The adorable sweetie above was almost 4 weeks old for her pictures, and with a little extra heat, patience and food, she slept perfectly. Nothing is ever a guarantee, but we always try our best!*

Do you have a question about what kinds of sessions I offer, what to wear for sessions or about the products I carry? Visit the Facebook page and leave your question! If it gets chosen for a blog feature, you will win a free print from your next session!

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Your Q&A

I’ve started a bi-weekly Monday post dedicated to answering all of your questions! Today’s question comes from my dear client Jen, who wants to know: What kind of outfit is best for a 6 month old girl photoshoot?

There are many ways to go for this, and it really depends on a few things: where is the session taking place, what do you want the overall feel of the session to be, and is there anything particular about your baby’s personality that you want to showcase?

Meet Cadence:

Her mom Hannah did a fantastic job of finding great outfits for her 6 month session! I adore the tutu/pettiromper combo, but the sweet pink dress worked well also! These outfits are great examples of outfits that work well both outdoors and in the studio and show off Miss Cadence’s girly personality! They are also a bit more dressy than the images below.

Meet Mason and Madelynne:

This sweet image is one of my favorites, ever. For a studio session, I really really dig doing partially clothed baby portraits. There is something so precious and simple about this picture, and let’s face it… you can’t always get away with being this nekkid and cute!

I love the juxtaposition between these two images! Here Miss Madelynne is showing how easy it is to get two different looks in one session! These were done outdoors, but could easily be recreated inside. These images fit Madelynne and her family well! They are less dressy and formal, which is exactly the look her mama was going for!

At the end of the day, it is most important that your little one will be 1) comfortable and 2) that the overall look is as dressy, fun, formal or casual as you desire. Want fun and casual? Bring a fun diaper cover ( is my go-to resource for these) or colorful outfit. Want to show off your little princess’s fancy side? Break out the tutus and pettirompers (both of which I have a great selection of).

A huge thank you to Jennifer for submitting this question on my Facebook page! As a thank you for helping me out, Jennifer will receive a free print from her next session! Do you have a question about what kinds of sessions I offer, what to wear for sessions or about the products I carry? Visit the Facebook page and leave your question! If it gets chosen for a blog feature, you will also win a free print from your next session!

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