Posted on 24th October 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest
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Planning Your Event

When you organise an event you spend a lot of time and effort booking the date & venue.  You may hire a caterer, an entertainer, a disco or DJ.   You invite guests and hope they notice all the little things you’ve arranged; flowers on beautifully decorated tables or tiebacks on the chairs.



If your event is a party for pre-school aged children, you probably have toys or activities to keep them amused.


Your event may be to celebrate a wedding, christening, birthday or retirement.  You may be hosting a charity event to raise money or simply holding a Christmas disco!

No matter what the event you’ll want to remember it.  So book me as your photographer and you’ll receive stunning candid, documentary style photos to look back on.

What I do

I’m so discreet that unless people ask me to take their posed photos, most won’t even realise I’m there.


Capturing the little details and peoples reactions are my speciality.  You’ll receive photos of those guests laughing and having a good time, the children playing and having fun.  You’ll be able to feel the atmosphere through my pictures and relive the event time after time.

Access to Your Photos

As the event organiser and host, you receive all images included in the price for you to share with your family, friends or guests.  (For prices or a quote click the appropriate word.)     Alternatively I will photograph totally for free and offer photos for sale to the guests, parents and party goers to recoup my costs and you STILL receive all the images.






Posted on 15th October 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest, Behind The Scenes Blogs, Special Mini Shoots
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Christmas  !

Christmas seems to arrive earlier every year…  And I even found myself thinking about it in the August summer holidays !  I know…

Christmas Mini Shoots

Holding studio mini-shoots is a quick way for me to offer affordable themed photo shoots to lots of customers.   They are mini because they are short 20 minute sessions.  I am able to charge less as I choose the set up, props & backdrop and hold them on the same day, thus saving me time.

Easter and Christmas are popular times of year however I generally hold mini-shoots all year round for some reason or another

Christmas 2017

My Christmas minimagic, xmas magic, christmas magic-shoots for 2017 were in my studio but with a Winter Wonderland snowy woodland theme as you can see from these photos.

They were really popular but I found that any children not wrapped up warm, looked out of place sitting in ‘snow’.

snow, white, winter, winter wonderland, christmas mini, xmas mini   

Christmas 2018

Therefore this year I wanted to do an ‘indoor’ Christmas set up and based it around my favourite brown distressed backdrop  and my beautiful child’s Victorian chair.

distresed backdrop, photo backdrop, studio backdrop

It gave an old fashioned feel so I carried on adding wooden crates, boxes, suitcases and baskets that I have naturally acquired over the years.  I built a ‘room’ around the chair.   I bought a gold glass lantern and found some stunning wooden Christmas Trees.  The trees are made of curled birch and another pair of trees made from brown and gold feathers.   My miniature wooden sledge from last year perched at the back for my old teddy to sit upon.  That and a rustic shabby chic wooden ‘Christmas’ sign hanging from the crate in the background finished off the look.

I also have acquired a selection of dresses and smart trousers, waist coats and shirts for the children to borrow if they don’t already have Christmas outfits and I lend them  Santa hats and an array of hand crafted stockings to hold during the photos.

Models Wanted

Planning all this while the hot August sun was shining outside was rather weird.  But I needed to order my Christmas trees via the internet in advance and test out my Christmas Scene with some models before being able to start advertising the mini-shoot sessions.  So all in all I was glad I was organised and handed left it till the end of September or even longer.

xmas, christmas, xmas mini shoots, christmas mini shootsI was inundated with applicants as I put out an advert asking for models and picked 4 families

out of a hat who kindly acted as my guinea pigs ensuring the lighting worked with the set up

and I was able to decide which seats to use for siblings when the Victorian chair wasn’t big enough.

Then once home, I had a few weeks to decide on my editing style and how magical to make the pictures.




Christmas Wall Art – All year round ?

Taking themed photos can be tricky as I ideally create photo art for families to display all year round.  But you may be like me and forget to take your Christmas themed pictures down in January.   This year, one of the models mum’s told me she is going to turn her photos into Christmas Cards.  This is achieved by customers purchasing the digital JPEG file.  I thought was a fantastic idea and mention this to parents booking in case they choose this way to share the images with their family and friends.

A touch of Christmas Magic

I want the magic of Christmas to come across in my finished art work.   Therefore I have been taking photos of the children holding the empty lantern but setting the scene for them that I’ll be lighting the lantern in their photos.   We told the youngest children to look inside for fairies so I  was able to capture the wonder on their faces.

Also by asking; ” what’s inside the stocking? ” is another way I created awe and wonder.   xmas, christmas, xmas mini shoot, christmas mini shoot

Then with the help of Adobe Photoshop     I add light to the lantern, casting a warm glow

onto the children and for the stockings I add a blast of magical sparkles bursting out.






All in all it’s been a true pleasure taking and editing this years Christmas mini-shoot photos. I cannot wait to take the rest of the photo shoots and edit even more

families pictures over the next month!    To book yours, click here to get in touch

christmas, christmas 2018, mini shoots 2018, xmas mini shoots

What will Christmas 2019 hold?  ….   watch this space!


Posted on 19th April 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest, Photo Shoots Q&A, Q&As about Photo Shoots
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I am always trying to find ways to provide my customers with the range of photoshoots they want and for a price that is financially viable for my business but also affordable for you.

Therefore I have revamped my prices and created a ‘bump to baby’ package SAVING you lots of money for over a year’s worth of milestone sessions!

I will help record your incredible journey from carrying your child in a Maternity Photoshoot all the way to marking their 1st Birthday.


The Bump to Baby package starts with a special maternity photoshoot.  This is a 20 minute studio or outdoor photoshoot which is enough time to change into a variety of beautiful outfits.  I’ll capture a variety of poses and you’re welcome to bring along your partner and  / or children to join you in the photos.




Then once baby arrives, I’ll welcome you back to my studio when baby is between 3 and 10 days.     You and your partner can relax while I take precious photos of your new arrival.   We will get as many awake and sleepy photos in as many outfits and poses baby will allow us.  I dedicate up to 3 hours for your newborn shoot.




I can Sit Up Now: 

Once baby can sit unaided (approx. 8 months) I’ll photograph this fabulous stage, really capturing their personality.    This is a 30 minute Studio /outdoor (or at your home) session to ensure your baby is not getting bored or unsettled.



Cake Smash:

The final photoshoot in the Bump to Baby package is a Cake Smash shoot to mark their First Birthday.

This is a very popular photo session where your birthday child gets to tuck in to their very own custom made birthday cake by a local baker ‘You & Me Cakes’.

The session usually takes place at your home and lasts 1.5 hours.     We start with a ‘formal’ Family Photoshoot to include mum, dad and siblings if you want, or just baby in smart party clothes.     Then once you get baby changed into their ‘cake smash’ outfit, I’ll set up the scene with balloons, bunting and other props.    I’ll provide everything including a choice of outfits – but you can of course dress baby in whatever you like.

How and When do I order photos? 

I will edit your images after each stage of the Bump to Baby package and provide you with a password protected gallery on my website.  In your gallery you can choose which image package to purchase.  Click here for details on image packages.  You can choose a variety of photo gift items, photo prints, canvases and digital Jpeg Download files.

When do I need to pay? 

The £150 is payable at the beginning of your Bump to Baby journey.   I take a £30 booking fee when you first book and the remainder is due by the date of your Maternity shoot.  Once this payment has all been received there is nothing to pay until you view your images and decide what to spend your £50 image voucher on.   I have split the £50 voucher across the x4 photoshoots so you receive money off each session.    I’ll pencil you in for all four photoshoots in my diary throughout the year, adjusting the final dates & times nearer the time.

How do I book? 

Click here to get in touch and I’ll discuss the details of each part of the package and how I will customise the shoots around you and your needs.


Data Protection

Posted on 13th March 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest, Terms and Conditions
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What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Date Protection Regulations.    Data Protection regulations haven’t changed since 1998 which was before the age of ‘social media’ so before facebook and even smart phones.

What do I have to do?

All customers that want to see how the new regulations have changed, read this blog and complete this form:  https://form.jotformeu.com/michellereesphotography/gdpr-agreement

How do the new regulations affect me?

Think about how often you are filling in forms on line as companies ask for your email address, mobile phone numbers etc.   Some go even further and ask for your health conditions (if you got to a beauty room or receive a spa treatment for example).   How about companies that have records of your bank details or your date of birth?

All these details you are providing, or personal data, is given to all these thousands of companies and the regulations are changing in May 2018 to protect our rights to how companies store your data & for how long.  Part of the GDPR also ensures companies clearly ask you to choose who contacts you and how, for example by email, social media or phone.

Be in control!

GDPR is all about giving you more control on how your personal data is used. You’ll have greater visibility and control over the personal data different companies hold about you. This is great news for customers as us as the GDPR means you can have greater confidence that information about you is accurate, up-to-date and properly stored and used.

Another good part of the GDPR is that customers get to change their mind about data you have supplied and can ask for a companies records to be changed at any time. So should your circumstances change and you need your data removed from certain companies, GDPR enables you to request this easily.

Opt In:

You will be asked if you want to Opt In to all the websites you usually get newsletters or online adverts from.  The difference with my company is that I only contact my customers with information relating to their photoshoot and order.  I will send emails containing Print Release and Vouchers and will keep my customers up to date on any offers I truly feel will benefit and be of interest to them.   There won’t be any ‘spam’ as I hate receiving spam myself.  At any point a customer chooses they want to stop receiving any emails from me, I will act on their request.

Using this website, & Privacy Information You Need to Read

Please scroll to the bottom of this blog to find information specific to my website that is hosted by a company called ImageFile.  I have put the text in bright blue text for you for ease of reference. 

Photos are Data too!

Did you know that photos that include an identifiable person is also classed as ‘data’.   Companies taking photos of you or your children that then use those images commercially i.e. to advertise their business need to ensure they comply with GDPR changes too.

As a photography company, I need to show potential customers examples of my work so they understand my quality and style.   These images form part of my portfolios that I display on my website and blogs as well as on social media such as Facebook & Instagram.  I am therefore required by law to ensure I also comply with the new GDPR regulations.


GDPR also means that your data is stored more safely.   Companies holding personal data have to have the right processes in place to protect it.  Those putting customer data at risk will face hefty penalties.  Thus photography companies have to ensure your photos are saved and stored safely or deleted completely from their records.

What do I do with your Data?


I take photos using a digital camera which saves your images on a memory card (SD or CF).   The images then get uploaded onto my laptop (to which I am the only person with access).    Once the images are uploaded, I keep them on the memory card until the photos have been fully edited.  This is as a back-up in case my laptop fails during editing so the images aren’t lost.

Once the customer has placed their order, the memory cards are formatted (images deleted).    The images WILL be stored on my laptop and I keep these for a minimum of 6 months in case customers come back and want to order more copies.  After 6 months (and at any time before this if the customer requests), these images will be deleted from my laptop.  This stage deletes all digital copies of the images.

Personal Data:

I take orders from customers via an email or social media message, or by telephone.   The details customers provide in those messages is stored on each platform for a minimum of 1 year in case I need to get in touch with the customer about their order.   I will remove the messages and information before 1 year at the request of a customer.

Where a customer places an order via my website, they are entering such data as name, email address, postal address and phone number.  This information is kept on the Image File Website (see blue text below) but can be removed earlier at the request of a customer.

Future Communication:

Where a customer has agreed to receive emails from me relating to future deals, discounts, offers and relevant information to their photoshoot experience, I will keep a list of their name and email address on my laptop to enable me to send the emails.   This information can be removed earlier at the request of a customer.

What next?

For customers placing orders on this website, you need to read the ‘blue’ writing below.   You will also need to confirm you have read my GDPR blog when placing an order with me by clicking on the link above your gallery.

If you have any questions please click here to get in touch.


Your Personal Data:
What we need
This website will be what is known as the “Controller” of the personal data you provide to us, which may include name, address, email and so on.
Why we need it
Your data is collected primarily for fulfilment of your orders and relaying of messages you send through this website.
What we do with it
Your data provided to this website is relayed to the website owner, and is archived by the website service provider Theimagefile.com. The service provider data archive exists primarily in Ireland with backups in the United States.
How long we keep it
Your online order data is stored for a number of years as required by tax law. Some aspects of your online order data can be anonymised at your request and to the extent allowable by law. Your other non-order data (i.e. marketing or messaging data) can be deleted or anonymised at your request, as per requirements of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You may also unsubscribe from marketing communications at any time.
What are your rights?
If at any point you believe the information we process on you is incorrect, you may request to see this information and even have it corrected or deleted. If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your personal data, you can contact our Data Protection Officer who will investigate the matter. Unless otherwise stated in this document, the managing director of this website acts as the EU Data Protection Officer (DPO) and can be reached from the contact page of this website.
If you are not satisfied with our response or believe we are processing your personal data not in accordance with the law you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
What are cookies?
Cookies are small pieces of data, stored in text files, that are stored on your computer or other device when websites are loaded in a browser. They are widely used to “remember” you and your preferences, either for a single visit (through a “session cookie”) or for multiple repeat visits (using a “persistent cookie”). They ensure a consistent and efficient experience for visitors, and perform essential functions such as allowing users to register and remain logged in. Cookies may be set by the site that you are visiting (known as “first party cookies”), or by other websites who serve up content on that site (“third party cookies”).
Cookies on this website
This website uses cookies for a variety of different purposes. These include those that are “strictly necessary” for technical reasons; those that enable a personalized experience for visitors and registered users; and those that interact with selected third party networks. Some of these cookies may be set when a page is loaded, or when a visitor takes a particular action, such as clicking a “like” button. Below is a description of each category of cookies that are in use, along with specific examples.
Strictly Necessary
These are the cookies that are essential for websites to perform their basic functions. These include those required to allow registered users to authenticate and perform account related functions, as well as to save the contents of virtual “carts” on sites that have an e-commerce functionality:
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Controlling cookies
Visitors may wish to restrict the use of cookies, or completely prevent them from being set. Most browsers provide for ways to control cookie behaviour such as the length of time they are stored – either through built-in functionality or by utilizing third party plugins.
To find out more on how to manage and delete cookies, visit aboutcookies.org. For more details on advertising cookies, and how to manage them, visit youronlinechoices.eu (EU based) or aboutads.info (US based).
It’s important to note that restricting or disabling the use of cookies can limit the functionality of sites, or prevent them from working correctly at all.
Web beacons and other tracking technologies
Both websites and HTML e-mails may also contain other tracking technologies such as “web beacons”. These are typically small transparent images that provide us with statistics, for similar purposes as cookies. They are often used in conjunction with cookies, though they are not stored on your computer in the same way. As a result, if you disable cookies, the web beacons may still load, but their functionality will be restricted.

Can you Photoshop me?

Posted on 9th March 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest, Uncategorized
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* Disclaimer:   I’m not promoting or suggesting Photoshop   is the only digital image editing programme – I am simply using the colloquial use of the terms ‘photoshop’ and ‘photoshopping’ to mean manipulating an image.


“…Hi, I would love to book a photo session but can you Photoshop me please?…”

Mirror Mirror On The Wall….

Approaching my mid-40’s I’m at that stage in life where the grey hairs are slowly winning the fight to dominate my head; my ‘laughter lines’ stick around whether I’m laughing or not and I find it harder and harder to disguise a late night!    Walking past the bathroom mirror can give me a fright first thing in the morning and I’m not sure even ‘Photoshop’ could help!

Would I take a early morning selfie and post it on social media with NO FILTERS ?   probably not to be honest!    Had mobile phone cameras and the ability to instantly share images with the world been prevalent in my youth, would I have taken & shared an early morning selfie at any age?   Now there’s a question!

Back in the Day…

Without sounding too ancient, me and my generation used 36 exposure films in our completely non-digital cameras and had no editing facilities!  GASP!  But we were all in the same boat and took as many photos as children do these days.  We just didn’t have high resolution, multi-million pixel quality images that could be displayed on a large computer screen for maximum scrutiny.   Yes the photos could be enlarged by a high street camera shop but we were happy with the unedited  – probably a bit out of focus – result.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and the word ‘Photoshop’ is part of our every day vocabulary!   Even if we don’t use the editing tool ourselves, we understand it means to digital edit and manipulate an image on a computer.

Can you Photoshop Me?

To be honest I am generally only asked this question by ladies of my own age and older. To be even MORE honest, if it was ME sitting in front of the camera, that question would pop into my mind too.   As we get older we appreciate that wrinkles and ‘life lines’ will sneak up on us. But as we see them every time we look into the mirror, it’s fair to say most of us think back to a time when our skin was perfectly smooth and wish we still radiated youth!  So why not say, can you photoshop me, to the photographer?   And it’s not just for a smooth face.  How about losing a few inches here and adding a few inches there?  I was born with shorter legs than I’d like and could quite happily take some inches off my waist and add them to my leg length!!!

Is ‘Photoshop’ Good or Bad?

I think there’s a time and place for photoshopping in image.  An ideal example of how I use Photoshop can be found in this blog link

Creating Art:

If a photography company advertises an artistic style shoot which is based on their portfolio containing heavily photoshopped images, then its pretty obvious (I’d hope) that the images are created as a piece of art.  That the photographer practically paints onto the original image.  That the subject is therefore edited in an artistic way and the end photo is not meant to represent them in a realistic manner.

Non-Art Photoshoots:

When a customer comes for a ‘normal’ shoot and says,  Can you photoshop me, I make a considered reply.  Mostly they’re laughing when they say it so I let the request go unanswered.   I have had customers make serious requests however.   I therefore say yes but explain I will always ensure the end result is an honest representation.  If they are referring to wrinkles, lines or creases on their face (let’s call them facial lines from here on in), AND those lines are age related, I WILL  spend some time editing them to make them less prominent.   Why not just delete them?   A customer may wish the lines would vanish but to take this request literally, this would create an odd looking photo.

Turn me into a model!

If the customer asks me to make their body smaller, I would do this by posing them in flattering ways while taking their photo.  There are poses and positions that make men & woman appear bigger or smaller.  Simple techniques can ensure a person is photographed in the most flattering way.   If, however, someone is especially insecure and after viewing their images still feels additional editing could be done, I can make suitable & sensible edits.   But, as with the ‘facial line’ edits, it would be irresponsible of me to totally change someone’s appearance.   It is my personal choice, therefore to say that I won’t turn them into a model if they actually mean changing their body shop out of recognition.

Non-Permanent Blemishes or Marks:

Obviously there are times I will be asked to remove bruises, cuts, plasters, holes or marks on clothes etc from images.  These I have no problems whatsoever in removing.

So that covers WHAT I will not edit.  How about WHO will I not edit?

For any reason other than asking me to remove non-permanent blemishes, if a child or teenager said can you photoshop me, I’d be very frank and say no!  That’s my personal opinion and they’d have to do a lot of persuading to get me to change my mind.

I am a freelance photographer & also have a studio and offer a large variety of shoots as you can see from my website.  I also regularly work for two different photography companies.  One is a pre-school & nursery photographers and the other specialises in taking photos at Dance Schools.  At the Dance school photoshoots I’d say that sadly 99% of the 14-17yr old girls say they HATE their own picture but LOVE the ones of their mates.  They use very strong language and I do try to take it with a pinch of salt.  I always tell them they look beautiful in their photo and the friends with them always agree.  It therefore seems an automatic response to not like the way you look, as if you can’t admit you ‘look okay’.

School Education

This is the age group I’m most worried about when it comes to the ability to edit or manipulate their image.   There are so many editing apps on phones these days that can change someone’s appearance and different filters to make them look ‘perfect’ in their photos.   There are makeup tutorials on how to change the shape of your face.

My eldest son recently brought home a piece of work he created in school Art lessons.  It was a computer ‘edited’ selfie where they were creating abstract art.   They had fun swirling their chins, creating horns from their hair and making wiggly eyebrows etc…   This shows children of the capabilities computer editing programmes like Photoshop have to change an image like a face so easily.  I wonder if they were able to make the leap from editing their faces to seeing how similar edits were made to celebrities in magazines?

Role Models

Growing up over the last 40 years I’ve seen the change in acceptance over super skinny ‘size zero’ models and the call for more curvy models to be used in advertising.   It’s a very slow shift in acceptance, however, as ‘celebrities’ are still being changed for magazines and adverts to what I consider to be extreme.    But are we 100% sure todays teenagers KNOW these images aren’t real?  I’m sure they know make-up artists & hair stylists make celebrities look their best but how aware are our children of magazine images being ‘photoshopped’?  I found this on youtube… see what I mean? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NsHgAmtk00

Do we need to educate them on how we are being shown false versions of these people?   Do we need to explain that even actors, singers & models who are considered to be naturally attractive and have enviable body shapes are being edited to look even smoother and thinner?   Yes I think we do!

A bit of Homework!

When working at home, my own children see me editing images. But being boys (average age 12 yrs), they aren’t interested in how facial lines can be smoothed or bodies can be edited to become thinner.   My youngest is so far from body awareness we have to remind him to use a brush in the mornings!  My eldest is of the age where haircuts and stylish clothes are becoming important.  When I recently got him in front of the camera, this was his favourite photo – none of the smiley ones!  BUT importantly he did not say, mum can you photoshop me !!!  It may be a boy thing and had girls, our conversations would probably be different but I would be devastated if I was asked that question.  What do you think we can do about this ‘need’ to be photoshopped?

headshot, head shot, model, studio, studio image, photographer, photo, chelmsford photography, essex photographer,


How much does a photoshoot cost?

Posted on 20th February 2018 by Michelle under Articles of Interest, Photo Shoots Q&A, Q&As about Photo Shoots

How much does a photoshoot cost?

The question:  ” How much does a photoshoot cost ? ”  is usually one of the first things asked by a potential customer.  Despite being a bit tricky to answer, as there are so many variables, I have attempted to explain my personal thoughts and reasons behind my prices.

When you need to book an electrician or plumber, you shop around for 2 or 3 quotes and the rule of thumb is not to book the cheapest as you unfortunately get what you pay for – I went with the cheapest once and now live with a leaky shower! –  true story

Is the photography business the same?   Surely it’s easy to be a photographer as it’s just clicking a button – so the photography industry should be cheap – shouldn’t it?   Why do I need to get 2 or 3 quotes?  How different can they all be?

When I started out taking photos as a teenager, really getting into it in my twenties,  I took photos for my own pleasure.  Back in those days there were no digital cameras (yep, I’m over 40yrs).    You had to wait in line at the local camera shop, biting your nails in anticipation to pick up your photos,  usually flicking through them before even leaving the shop     How many were completely black, out of focus or had heads chopped off?   Yep, the ‘good old days’ when photography was in a way a bit more carefree and fun.   You sort of expected them to be a bit rubbish because you didn’t have much control using what I call a ‘back pocket’ camera.  And although you didn’t waste your photos (as you only had 36 exposures on a film), you couldn’t see the images as you took them, therefore you couldn’t ‘learn from your mistakes’ as easily.   As a non-professional photographer 20yrs ago, you focused (no pun intended) on the people or scenery, not the quality & ability of yourself as the photographer

When you needed a ‘proper’ photo taken 20yrs ago, you went to a photography studio and let the experts ensure the focus, subject & lighting were all spot on ‘in camera’ i.e. no post-production editing and photo-shopping out people or objects

So what’s different now?

Just like always, an experienced photographer who has learnt the craft over years & years can ensure your photos are in focus and lit correctly.  Why then are the prices between photographers so varied?

Take a family photoshoot for example – You can book someone who will take ‘all photos on a CD for £50’ or someone who will charge £50 just to take them and the actual photos cost extra.   So what’s the correct price?   Is it worth going for the cheaper person – surely getting all your photos on a cd for £50 is good value?  How can the more expensive photographers justify charging 100’s and occasionally 1000’s of pounds?

With the age of digital cameras & the ability to take literally loads of photos until you ‘get it right’ is easy (as long as you have a large enough memory card in your camera!)  Plus, like all technology, electrical equipment get cheaper year by year and when it was only professionals who could buy a ‘proper camera, now you can pop along to your local catalogue store and pick up a pretty good camera for a few hundred pounds.   Plus cameras on mobile phones are getting more & more sophisticated, not alone the editing apps you can install to add your favourite filter etc.

So what effect has this had on professional photographers?

It IS more affordable for more people and has meant an increase in photography businesses being set up over the last 10 yrs.  More businesses = more competition: This isn’t a problem, as the more competition ensures everyone is upping their game to be the best. Thus, quality increases.   The customers, however, have a big job on their hands to find the right photographer for them – hopefully they don’t just look at the price, but look at the quality of photos, style of the end product, personality of the photographer, the photographers experience and flexibility to provide the service the customer requires etc.

There is a general idea that taking photos is easy & that this should mean it’s cheaper than it used to be.  How true is this?

Camera’s are designed to be easy to use – have lots of different functions to choose from and the ability for the photographer to use the ‘auto’ setting or be totally in control of every single click (by using the 100% manual settings).    It’s not necessarily ‘easier’ nowadays, as even the most experienced photographer who has the ‘best camera’ will be learning new skills every day.

But should the industry be cheap?  It takes a split second to take photo so why does it cost so much?

When someone starts out in the business and gets their first booking, its very hard for them to answer, how much does a photoshoot cost?   They want to make ‘some’ money but want to be affordable enough to get booked in the first place.   I myself was in this exact scenario when I started out.  My customers got what they paid for but were always aware of my experience & booked me based on my growing portfolio.   The moment I could afford training and better equipment, paid for professional insurance and other business expenses, I increased the cost of my photography.  (click here for my current prices)

What costs does a photographer face once they’ve bought their camera?

Taking photos is the ‘exciting’ bit, if you like…  What happens after the photos are taken?   Creating the final image is the next stage and, depending on the photographers personal unique style of photography, can take a few minutes per image to a few hours  – yes I said a few hours PER image !    Learning how to use editing programmes is a skill in itself and hours need to be spent to learn this art – which in turn costs money.

(click here to read my recent blog about what it takes to create an image)

Other aspects to the photographers business includes equipment.

Props Anonymous!

Those photographers who take studio photos with lighting and coloured backdrops have the expense of purchasing the right equipment for the job.  Studio’s also need props:  chairs or stools for models to sit on;  specialised items such as newborn baby outfits, maternity dresses to lend clients;  themed items for holiday mini-shoots (at Easter or Christmas).   To ensure not all photoshoots look the same as the previous customer, studio’s can accumulate a lot of props!

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Weddings aren’t in a studio but are really expensive – I hear you cry

wedding, couple, photo, bouquet, flowers, bridesmaid, white, veil, satin, husband, wife, diamonds, engagement, ring, church, chapel, registry, ceremony, reception, meal, guests, best man,Weddings are thought of as being ‘expensive’ but this is mostly down to time. The actual wedding day is generally 8 to 9 hours long, not including travelling time and at least 3 hours of editing for every hour of photography – yep a weeks worth just editing!   For a couple ordering a photo book album, this can take a further 3 or 4 hours to create. Multiply this by the photographers hourly rate and you can see how much they need to charge to make it a viable business venture.

Hidden Costs of a business

With any business there are lots of ‘hidden costs’ – paper work, admin, book work, tax forms, client records, banking, advertising, marketing….   Keeping proper records is essential for anyone charging money as they must register with the Inland Revenue who need to know what money they receive & spend.   Buying proper insurance is an essential business cost to protect both the customer and the photographer, as is insurance for your equipment plus regular servicing & maintenance costs.  Continuous training  –  whether the photographer is topping up their existing knowledge or learning a new skill,  a days training course will cost between £200 & £800.

Typical costs of a studio photographer:

Camera £2000,   Lenses £2000,    Lights £800 each,    Backdrops £90 each,    Tripod stands for lights and backdrops  £250,    Insurance  £35 per month,    Running a basic website  £25 per month and renting the space could be hundreds of pounds per month unless you are mobile!  (disclaimer: these are rough prices in 2018 to give a very general idea)

So how have I priced my own business?

My main aim when calculating prices is to earn more than minimum wage.   To be honest I would expect that’s everyone’s aim as we all have food to put on the table and bills to pay.  Anyone who has set up a photography business may be in a fantastic industry and love their job BUT it is still a business.  It is still their method of income.    Therefore its a pretty obvious calculation to ensure that the money I receive at the end of a photo shoot (divided by the hours I worked less my costs) pays me a decent wage.

So, how much does a photoshoot cost?

When I calculate this, apart from taking into account all of my business expenses as listed previously, I also have to take into account the ‘style’ of photoshoot.  As mentioned above a ‘cake-smash’ includes lots of items I have to pay for in advance compared to a simpler shoot such as a ‘headshot’ session where I can reduce the cost as I’m not spending money up front.


Why am I telling you all this?

how much does a photoshoot cost?, newborn, baby, asleep, sleep, neutral, cream, white, bunny, I get worried when I see the “£50 for everything” adverts – I’m not so bothered about the person’s wages as it’s up to them if they end up out of pocket, but hope they have insurance and are suitably trained –  when photographing newborns for example, professional training is essential as posing a brand new baby can be dangerous.


So when you next ask, how much does a photoshoot cost, I hope you are able to envisage the hidden business costs, take into account the photographers skills and training, appreciate the hours and hours of editing your images by hand and put value into the art your photographer is creating for you.    Definitely get 2 or 3 quotes, ensuring you know exactly what is/is not included (so you can make an informed comparison) and trust the average cost – don’t always go for the lowest price and if the highest price is really high, don’t be afraid to ask why.


Mum, you need to get in the photos too!

Posted on 24th January 2018 by Michelle under Special Mini Shoots
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Mum !  If I have one message for 2018, it is that mum you need to get in the photos too!

Take a look through the photos on your phone.  If you are like me, you have probably got plenty of photos of your children but how many of them are you in?    (And I don’t mean funny mum selfies!)   Children physically change faster than grownups, so we tend to take more photos of them to capture the differences but I bet you have changed over the years too – whether it’s something as simple as a different hair cut or hair colour or maybe you have started wearing glasses.

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Need a special occasion mum? Then choose Mothers Day!

It’s not that far away but still time to book a hair appointment should you wish and to find the perfect outfit for you and your children.   Be 100% selfish for a change and make this all about YOU by getting glammed up and letting your hair down!  If you think YOUR mum deserves a treat, then mention the photoshoot and say to your mum, you need to get in the photos too!   How lovely it will be to have a professional photo of the two of you together!   (Check out my other blog about what to wear to a photoshoot:  https://michellereesphotography.proimageblogs.com/colours-wear-photoshoot/

So grab your children, (or your mum),  pop along to my studio and enjoy a fun photoshoot having lots of cuddles with those closest to you!

Food for Thought?

I have teamed up with a local baker, You and me Cakes, who will be creating the most beautiful and delicious cupcakes for each of you to receive as an extra special treat on the day!   (You can even let me know of may particular dietary requirements as I’ll be ordering the custom made cupcakes well in advance).

What the studio shoot includes:

Book a 20 minute appointment at a convenient time either on Friday 9th March or Saturday 10th March.

Once you are home you can log onto my website, view your photos in a password protected gallery and choose which photos you want from the shoot.

You automatically receive x1 10×8″ prints or a Digital JPEG download image FREE as part of the photoshoot with the option to choose more.

I’m offering appointments on x2 days, but only have time for x7 appointments each day so don’t miss out.

So message me today to get booked in – I need a booking fee of £29 paid in advance then all you need to do is work out what you’re all going to wear! 07855949615 http://www.michellereesphotography.com/get-in-touch



Creating A Family Photo in 20 minutes!

Posted on 18th January 2018 by Michelle under Behind The Scenes Blogs
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A Visit from Down-Under

I had the pleasure of meeting a brother and sister over Christmas. The brother lives in Australia and brought his family over to the UK for a family visit. While here, they thought it was a perfect opportunity to get a photo of all their children together for a “cousin’s” reunion photo which would also create an ideal surprise present for their mum’s up and coming 70th Birthday.  Read on to learn how I went about creating a family photo.

Preparations – colours and styles

In preparation for creating a family photo, it is important to be organised.  Before the shoot I suggested all the cousins wear outfits that would complement each other in colour and style and on arrival at the studio, we discussed the colour and style of backdrop.  (I have written a blog specifically about choosing what to wear during a photo shoot – click here to read more)

I have a large variety of backdrops to create different themes and styles of photographs and choosing the right one is as important as deciding what to wear and how to pose. Deciding where the photos will be displayed in the customers house can help with this decision as home décor is generally either based on browns or greys. Having a plain painted wall can enable a patterned backdrop to be used in the photos and vice versa. I can create themed images using backdrops of brick walls, library shelves, blossom trees, a sunny day or snowy woods or neutral plain backdrops in a variety of single colours.  (to see some of these backdrops in use, click here to head to my portfolio screen)

Once both families had arrived at my studio, we discussed all the options and decided a neutral backdrop would suit all of theirs and their parents houses and chose one that complimented the children’s.


Due to the age range of the cousins, the youngest being approx. 2yrs and the eldest 13yrs, I chose to get the oldest children in position first before adding the youngest. This is a sensible way when creating a family photo to position a group of children as the younger your models, the more likely they are to crawl or walk off! You can also make the older ones feel responsible and grown-up by explaining they are being helpful by staying in position. Lastly, depending on the ages of the children involved, you may choose to put a younger toddler on the lap of an older child.

Photo Time!

Our youngest model was feeling a bit under the weather and being in a strange country and in unfamiliar surroundings, he was reluctant to sit with his older UK cousins who he’d only met a few weeks previous and even his sister couldn’t persuade him to join her for some photos. Us grown-ups had our work cut out creating the family photo, each trying little tricks and ways to get him enthusiastic and involved but he just wanted mummy cuddles. Would we have to cancel the shoot? The brother and his family were heading back to Oz in 2 days’ time… It was now or never!   

Mummy ‘Bear’ to the Rescue!

So long as you have a suitably coloured blanket to hide or disguise the parent; a great method to get a cautious child in front of the camera is to have the parent in the photo too! I obviously would never proceed if a child became distressed but having a trusted grown-up they can sit on and be cuddled by (albeit from under the blanket) 9 times out of 10 has the desired result!

In the end it was my suggestion of mummy ‘turning into a cuddly teddy bear’ and thus being in the photo under a blanket, that finally worked and successfully got him in the photos!


Once I got underway taking photos, we got some great laughing and smiley shots of all the children, especially when daddy started singing a popular Aussie cartoon theme both his little ones decided was hilarious! But when creating a family photo and indeed with any group shot, there are always a selection of funny out-takes where one or more of the models are making a ‘funny’ face that won’t make the final photo. I never delete an image though until sitting at my editing screen because even the funny photos may be useful for stitching together several images to create the final one.

How Many Images Does it take to Create the Final Photo?

No this isn’t the ‘lightbulb’ joke ! 
This particular photo session lasted just 20 minutes and my aim was to create at least one family reunion photo. We did, however, change the position of the children a couple of times and out of the photos I took on the day, I narrowed them down to the best images of each family member and managed to create x2 final images, one of which is displayed below. The method I used was to find the best overall photo of the entire group of children, even if one or two of them were maybe looking the wrong way or had their eyes shut. The biggest difficulty I had was when the youngest model, whilst sitting on his mum’s legs, had the perfect facial expression but was sitting slightly out of position or was in the best position but wasn’t smiling.

In the final image, I actually chose the basic photos to work from that didn’t have our youngest model in at all.

I have therefore chosen to share all the images used to create this final photograph:


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Final Image

Can you see all the little details in the various images I used like jigsaw pieces?

So, that is ‘How I Created A Family Reunion Photo in 20 minutes!’… well almost 20 minutes, plus a good few hours editing!

To book your family shoot, contact Michelle by clicking here

Colours to Wear for your Photoshoot

Posted on 23rd October 2017 by Michelle under Q&As about Photo Shoots

Choosing which colours to wear for your photoshoot can turn a snap shot into a professional family portrait.

There is no point in having a perfectly posed photo with everyone looking and smiling at the camera if the colour of your clothes clash!    We want everyone to notice YOU in the photos, so in a way, you actually want to take the attention away from what you’re wearing!  So deciding in advance which colours to wear for your photoshoot (or which style of clothing) will turn your images from lovely to outstanding!


The next time you pick up a magazine featuring a ‘celebrity at home’ style shoot where the famous mum is holding her baby and being cuddled by her husband in and around the stunning rooms in their mansion, check out what they’re wearing.   They could be wearing jeans but I can guarantee the colours of their tops will either be the same or similar & complimentary colours.

To be honest if you pick the right patterns & colours, people won’t even notice what you’re wearing.

And this is a good thing as you’re having your photos taken to capture you and your beautiful family.  You’re not booking a family photo shoot with me to show off your wardrobe choices!   However, pick colours or patterns that clash with each other or dress one of you in shorts and another in a suit or evening dress and the clothes will be the first thing you and other people will notice.   I love photography for making time stand still for you by capturing your faces and it’s your faces I want everyone to notice straight away!

So, where do you start?

First are you booking an indoor studio shoot where the temperature won’t be an issue or an outdoor shoot where it could be baking in the summer or freezing in winter?  (for details on which photo shoot to book click here)

Lets start with a studio shoot where you have the largest choice of clothing as you’re not weather dependent.   Decide what look you’re going for – a fun casual family shoot where you can all be relaxed in jeans and t-shirts  / shirts or maybe you fancy all dressing up in your smart gear.   As long as the whole family are in the same style, that’s the first step.    The colours don’t have to be the same as each other.  Yes of course you can all wear white tops in various styles,  or how about all in blue tops but a variety of shades from baby blue to navy?    What time of year is it?  In spring and summer you may wish to go for bright colours or more rustic browns and oranges if it is Autumn.

Okay so you’ve decided on your style and colours for everyone.  But is everyone comfortable?

That last thing anyone wants is a photo taken of them in an outfit that no longer fits or they’ve been asked to wear against their will (insert ‘teenagers’ here… I have my own so know how important clothing choices are).   As a photographer I want to spend the shoot capturing the relationship between you all, the hugging, the laughing, the tender holding hands and smiles at each other…  If someone is pre-occupied by their outfit, they won’t be comfortable during the photos.

Do you want a themed photo shoot?   Is it coming up to Christmas?     Do you all want to come in your bright knitted Christmas jumpers and pop on Christmas hats?   Do you want to ‘photo booth’ fun shoot where you all put on funny hats, wigs and glasses?   How about re-creating a retro 1970’s or 1980’s  photo and come in old fashioned clothes?   The studio time is yours and a small amount of preparation can have a massive impact on your day.



Choosing what colours to wear for your photoshoot outdoors: 

This is exactly the same unless its really cold… not may families all happen to have warm coats that happen to match each in style and colour.  Therefore if you will be chilly, think about ditching the coats and putting on lots of cosy jumpers.   Add snuggly hats and scarves to the mix and suddenly you have the opportunity to compliment each others outfits.  I have a large variety of woolly hats you can borrow in autumnal colours.

Colour wheels – you probably learnt about these in Art lessons at school or if you have a passion for interior design you may have used one to match carpet colours to your furniture.   colour wheel, photo, colours to wear for your photoshoot, what colours to wear, chelmsford photographer, essex photographer, The wheel helps pick shades of the same colour and complimentary shades which are positioned opposite each other in the circle.  It shows the warmer colours on one side and cooler colours on the opposite side. You can also pick a colour, example orange, and see that its neighbours of yellow and red are similar enough to go together too.   I always say that black or white go with all colours as would dark grey.


Alternatively check out these colour palettes which show you how a brighter colour can have a impact on neutral colours:


What about patterns?

When thinking about what colours to wear for your photoshoot, you may all have red tops but some are spotty, some are striped and some are floral.  When I take and edit my photos I do it with the intention of the photos being in colour.           

However, if a customer lets me know in advance that they are after black and white portraits, then all this talk of colour can go out of the window and patterns become important.

Patterns in black and white images take the place of colours but adding variety.



The final point I would like to make about what colours to wear for your photoshoot is that if in doubt, chat to me in advance of your shoot or bring a change of outfit with you on the day.   This guide is to help you with advance preparation so you consider everyone’s outfits.   If it starts to get stressful, however, then keep it simple.



Booking Maternity and Newborn Photoshoots

Posted on 22nd October 2017 by Michelle under Q&As about Photo Shoots
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Booking maternity and newborn photoshoots can create questions about what to expect.  Here I aim to provide you with a quick insight.

For maternity and newborn shoots, join me in the comfort of my studio you will have use of my beautiful outfits, whether they be stunning maternity gowns or teeny tiny newborn bonnets or knitted outfits.

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When booking Maternity and Newborn Photoshoots, be aware that photographers who offer newborn photography should always have been trained. You can rest assured that I have undertaken training with one of the country’s top newborn trainers to ensure your baby is comfortable and safe.  This enables me to capture stunning photos while they are in this newborn stage of their new lives.

Why Book?
Even after a few weeks you will notice differences in both your baby bump and once little one is here.  In fact once baby arrives you won’t believe the speed in which they grow and change.  You will be so relieved you booked your photoshoot to record these precious memories and make time stand still!  To book or ask questions, get in touch with Michelle today!   Full price information can be found by clicking here

Maternity Shoot:
You have a choice of different colour themes and outfits to show off your beautiful baby bump.  The session is short so you won’t be standing for too long but there is still plenty of time for a change of outfits and styles of poses.  You can even include your partner or other children.  

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Newborn Photo shoot Styles:
The newborn shoots is booked for up to 3 hours.  Don’t worry, not all sessions will take this long.  If baby needs mummy cuddles, milk top-ups and nappy changes, it may take a little more time to get the photos.   During this time we will get as many photos as baby will allow.  I will use as many different coloured outfits, in as many different poses and  variety of props and colour themes as I can.  You can choose to shorten the baby posed photos by having parent/sibling & baby photos taken.  If you don’t have any other children and don’t want to be in the photos, then the time will be spent showcasing your new bundle in natural sleepy or awake poses on comfy props. 

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Do we need a contract?
Booking Maternity and Newborn Photoshoots with my company comes with the security of a personalised contract detailing the following:  Date of the booking, the booking fee due, the balance due, the terms and conditions and what is expected by both parties before, during and after the booking.   I will send this to you electronically for you to read and sign.  You can then bring the contract with you on the day of photo shoot or pop it in the post to me.  You may wish to sign ‘online’ by simply stating you agree electronically via message on email or facebook for example.

What Happens during the newborn shoot?
When you arrive for your newborn shoot, you and your partner can relax on my sofa while I take the photos.  Ideally baby will have been fed before you arrive at the studio.  Again, ideally, they will be awake on arrival and will be eager for a quick top-up of milk before falling asleep for the photos.  My aim is to get as many poses and outfit changes as possible within the timeframe.  I want to provide you with a beautiful portfolio of images to choose from and fill you and your relatives homes with.   Yes baby will talk to us about not wanting to be changed and may decide they need a nappy change and more milk and we will listen to them!  A happy baby equals gorgeous photos!  

What should my partner and I wear?
If you wish to be in the photos with your baby, I would suggest liaising with each other so you come in similar styles of clothes.  For example both in jeans, or both in smart outfits and complimentary colours.  Maybe neutral colours would be good then we can dress baby in a variety of colours and you can stay as you are.  Whether you would like to be in the photos or not, some of the photos will be of baby in their skin and as such the studio will be heated to create a comfortable environment for them.  This will mean it is hot for us and I suggest you wear layers so you also remain comfortable!   I will no doubt be in shorts and a vest top with a bottle of water to hand!

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What happens after the photoshoot?
Booking Maternity and Newborn Photoshoots with my company doesn’t stop after I’ve taken the photos.  In fact that is only half the job.   After the photoshoot I will professionally edit your photos by hand, one by one. This is a long delicate process and is the investment you are making when booking maternity and newborn photoshoots with me.   I will ensure you receive the absolute best images captured on the day and fully edited ready for you to view in the comfort of your own home.   Before you leave the photoshoot, I will give you a password card so you can access your private password-protected gallery on my website, located in the Client Area.   

When will I be able to see the photos?
To ensure each image is given my full attention during the editing stage, please allow at least 14 days for the photos to be uploaded onto my website for viewing.  I will contact you as soon as they are ready.  Don’t worry if you misplace your password card – simply contact me and I will remind you of your password. 

What style of photos prints or digital files can I receive my images in?
There are x3 photo image packages to choose from.  Each include a wide variety of print styles and sizes and a variety of photo products depending on your budget and how & where the images will be displayed.   You can view the image packages on my website at any point in time (click here).  This is the time to begin planning where the canvases will be hung around your house, which relatives will receive the keyrings and glitter filled photo blocks.  Plan how many prints you want for your desk at work and which friends and family living miles away will receive copies of the digital files via email or on social media. 

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What if I only want to purchase the digital files?
I sell your entire gallery electronically as digital JPEG files, no matter how many images it includes, for just £299.   The individual images can be purchased for £20 each.  Purchasing the digital version of your image means you can send photos to family and friends electronically via email or on a social media website.  You also have the option to print the images as many times as you wish – an unlimited number of times!   Depending on where you choose to get your digital files printed, I cannot, however, be held responsible if you are unhappy.  Sometimes prints will not represent the colour and clarity of the images displayed on my website as every printer has slight variances of colour and quality.  

Can I have the raw files?
Sometimes a customer may ask for the raw file.  This is the electronic ‘negative’ from the olden days when cameras used film.   The electronic negative is what is produced when I click the button on my camera and cannot be opened in a computer without purchasing a professional editing program.   This version of the image is then hand edited to my professional standard and artist creative style.   I do not sell the raw unedited file and even if pushed, I would not sell it for less than £2000 per image.   

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Who owns copyright after the images have been purchased? Copyright of an image immediately belongs to me as soon as I click the camera as I have created the image.   The copyright will always remain with me.  This is not something that can be purchased and even if pushed, I would not sell the copyright for less than £5000 per image. 

What will you do with the photos of my baby after I have bought them?
Storing photos takes up a lot of memory space and as such I cannot guarantee I will still have copies of your image for longer than 4 months.  I therefore recommend purchasing all the images you like as soon as possible before they are deleted.   With regards to whether I will use copies of the images for marketing purposes,  I will always ask for a signed authority from you as the legal parents/ guardians of your child before using an image.   All images I use on my websites and on social media for advertising purposes and to show potential customers examples of the work I produce, as I did for you, will be anonymous.   As such no names or reference to you or your family or even what town you live in will ever be disclosed.   If you agree for me to use an image on facebook for example and you choose to tag yourself in the photo, that will be 100% your decision, otherwise no-one would ever know who the newborn photo is of.  On social media sites I ensure I put my watermark right over the middle of the image.  

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 Thank you for reading and I cannot wait to meet you before and after your baby is born!  Book here: