Lately, I have been hearing photographers vent to each other about other so called ‘‘photographers” who charge 50$ per session and give all the retouched digital negatives. First off, let’s all agree that charging 50$ for your creative services is just not sustainable and simply sad.  Charging so low is really putting a damper on Photography industry which leads to burn outs and failed businesses. If you’re charging for you services charge what you’re worth. However if you are donating your talent free of charge, do it for the cause or with intention. But don’t charge 50$ just don’t :(

Photography is a luxury service. It entails full spectrum experience, creativity and hardwork. Just like if you would go to Buy expensive Prada purse, you don’t question why they’re charging what they’re charging, you just buy it because it’s simply amazing, it’s a status and a luxury brand. Photography is the same way, luxury service is that you don’t necessarily need those photographs, but maybe you really want these services because you see gorgeous portraits a photographer creates and the experience that is given to you makes you say wow!

I want to create that wow, the meaningful moment, take an extra yard for my clients. I don’t want to just snap a photo or two. This is not what I am, It doesn’t bring me any joy. I wouldn’t be doing this just for the money, but if I take my precious time away from my family to create memories for other individuals, I want to make sure I am properly compensated for it.

Truly, anyone can snap a picture, just ask uncle bob who has a camera or your friend with an iphone. But when it comes to running a Photography business there are many variables involved. I have realized that myself as a new business owner. Some of these costs made me cringe, and scared..I had to make some financial adjustments to make better future decisions. Ive realized that 2018 was a learning curve for me. I had to properly calculate my costs, my time, take away a portion for taxes, investments, cost of goods, insurance, education and other tedious stuff that it takes to sustain as a business. Recently during my educatinon classes I heard this great analogy by amazing and equally hard working wedding photographer  Scott Robert Lim, who said: “In order to grow your business you gotta Feed the Beast. If you under nourish that Beast, it will die. So you have to nourish it, feed it, in order for it to grow”. Meaning you have to financially make it sustainable. Therefore it brings to the notion, that you simply cannot sustain that beast for charging 50$ Or 100$ for your sessions. I can see two things happening here: you will burn out and start hating photography or you will run out of business pretty quickly.

Anyhow, When a photographer sells a photograph he doesn’t sell paper, the paper is always free. True photographer is selling experience, his talent, expertise, time that it takes to create amazing artwork, he is selling creativity and the value to their client. The moment that moment was captured it becomes priceless and will last generations. I believe that great photographers are like historians, they are providing invaluable service to their clients. Photographers who strive to artfully capture those moments, emotions for their clients create value. At home, I already a little beast whom I love and nurture everyday and I want my second baby (in this case photography business) to be nourished as well. So, if you want to become a sustainable business and excellent photographer fuel that passion, get out there and photograph, stop making excuses! The only thing that is stopping you is YOU! And most importantly  don’t  forget to FEED THE BEAST.

Oksana Skolnaja
How to prepare for your engagement portrait session

Congratulations! Now let’s get this thing started and prep for your engagement session. Here are 8 tips to help you prep: 

Grassy fields in Hope Alaska were so photogenic for Letitia’s and Paul’s engagement session

Grassy fields in Hope Alaska were so photogenic for Letitia’s and Paul’s engagement session

1. Get your hair and make up done! This could be your trial for the wedding day. Pamper yourself and feel pretty! The photographer will make sure to capture your beauty🌷

1. Dress appropriately. Choose dressier clothes. Bring a few different outfits. Pick colors that would complement each other. Please, don’t make it too matchy. It looks better if you coordinate the colors. Best colors that photograph are pastels, solid colors with not too many busy patterns or large logos. Depending on your engagement theme you can experiment with bright vibrant and playful colors. 

3. BRING BUG SPRAY! you will thank me later..During summer season the bugs can get really bad…especially at the time we photograph: before sunset, early morning or in general - grassy area, forests, beach…Last year I spend a lot of time photoshopping bug bites off my clients skin and buzzing bugs of the photographs in general. It’s nice to keep them away from your experience. Speaking of great experience. Bring Bear spray, you never know where your adventurous engagement session will take us. It’s best to be safe than sorry.

4. During winter times bring cozy cute warm layers and accessories. Also a hot beverage of your choice. It gets chilly out there. With that in mind, please dress accordingly. No need to wear a summer dress in winter. Think of your best looking outdoors gear with fun winter accessories.

5. Accessorize! bring jewelry, scarfs, hats, bowties, shoes - something that is unique You as a couple. Maybe, a hand me down accessory from grandma when she was getting married, or a unique tie.

6. Also, don’t forget photo props. Think What makes your relationship special and how you can incorporate that in your portrait session. maybe you have something to photograph that is meaningful and special to your relationship?  Something that would describe  you as a couple and reflect your personality: creative color smoke, sparklers, champagne, picnic date props etc. How about something active that you both enjoy doing!

7. Please, be on time. It is important to meet on time with your photographer, as we are trying to get the best light of the day for you. We want to make the most of our time photographing.

8. Last but not least: HAVE FUN! you got your awesome outfits on, your hair and make up looks beautiful! now enjoy each other, relax, be yourselves and play, celebrate your love and friendship. Trust the process and I will capture those most romantic moments for you!

Letitia and Paul got engaged last summer, 2018! they have a wedding on 2020. what an awesome year to elope.

Letitia and Paul got engaged last summer, 2018! they have a wedding on 2020. what an awesome year to elope.

Here is a video summary of how to prepare for your engagement session

Oksana Skolnaja
Five simple tips to prepare for a family portrait session

As we live in Alaska, it is tough at times to prepare properly for family portrait session. We have so many variables to keep in mind. Here are five tips that may help you to prepare best:

  1. DON’T MATCH - COORDINATE COLORS. Meaning, try to coordinate colors and not dress all green or yellow. Pastels, neutral colors of bright and vibrant colors. Keep it simple: solid colors photograph well. Avoid anything with big logos, graphics or busy patterns.

Mother daughter bond. Crista and Ayla.

Mother daughter bond. Crista and Ayla.

2. DRESS COMFORTABLY. It’s Alaska! we have mud, and mosquitoes, it also is breezy and rainy at times. Make sure you have comfortable shoes with you just in case we will take a hike to our location destination.

3. WEAR ACCESSORIES. If you know me already, I love incorporating different accessories into portrait sessions. It is a great way to show more character and make it more fun. Also, perfect for children’s photography, - show off your children’s fun style that’s fitted and comfortable.


4. MAKE UP AND HAIR. Always wear clean hair. For the ladies I recommend wearing some powder to reduce shine in photographs also your favorite lipstick or lipgloss. Most importantly, I want you to feel beautiful and comfortable. For men - clean shaven or well groomed beard is fine.

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY, HAVE FUN and SHOW UP ON TIME. it is important not to be late to your portrait session, as for us photographers we schedule to catch the best light of the day and location for your session. We want you to be relaxed, to have fun, enjoy and trust the process of being photographed.