The Neon Sign. {Minneapolis Children’s Photographer}

Sometimes we are given messages from the Big Guy In The Sky. Sometimes we have to strain to hear the whispering message. Some messages we are still waiting for (like whether or not we should go for child number three – although last week I had my 1 1/2-year old nephew for the week and I think I have my answer – but that’s another post). And sometimes the message is blaring in our faces. It is that big tacky neon sign outside our motel window, keeping us up at night (can’t you just hear the buzzing as you read this – or is that just me?). Early in my career I got one of those neon messages that changed the direction of my business.

When I first decided that I wanted to do photography professionally, my plan was to take awesome photos and hand over a disk of images to my clients for them to do what they would like with them.

A month after I purchased my first digital SLR, I gave a CD of images from Christmas to one of my sister-in-laws. I printed out a few for myself, they looked great. Then one day I was at my mother-in-law’s house and I saw a terrible picture. It looked kind of like one that I had taken but it was orange and dark and blurry. My mother-in-law said that my sister-in-law had printed out a few of my images from Christmas at Costco and had given them out to our family. So there were my images, with my name on them, in the hands of people I love…and they looked terrible!

And I saw so clearly how much I love photography and think of my images as my babies and how I want them to be the best they can be.

I saw what a difference a professional printshop (and Photoshop) made on my images. That neon sign said that I needed creative control from start to finish. I knew that I wanted to be more than a photography chop-shop. I wanted to give my clients full service. I wanted to spend quality time with my clients and not try to squeeze as many sessions in a week as I could. I wanted to make sure that all images bearing my name were as good as they could be. I saw clearly the direction I wanted to go and never looked back.

I can’t show you the print quality until you come to my office, but I thought it might be fun (and a little nerve-wracking on my end) to share some before/after Photoshop images with you!

Although a good image needs to be well-composed and exposed with great lighting and expressions right out of the camera, every image needs a little tweak before I share them with my clients. Some tweaks are so minor that no one would ever notice but me. And some images just cry to be played with a bit more like two recent images below.

I liked this image. Beautiful Dani. The pose. The lighting. The blues. The wind in her hair. But straight out of the camera it deserved a little something. A little special Photoshop effort…


This is now one of my favorite images! So warm and soothing and I cannot take my eyes off of hers.


Again, right out of the camera this had potential. These two were so full of affection and they were having a great moment (on a cute bridge)…


But this Photoshop technique made this image even more special! This is also one of my new favorites!


I hope you enjoyed seeing a little behind-the-scenes and saw how I came to run my business the way I do. It was really guided by the love of photography and commitment to quality (that sounds like such a warm and cozy corporate moral phrase!).

This may be the first time I have publicly shown my straight-out-of-the-camera shots (I hope you still like me!). I am feeling a little naked at the moment but I know I will get over it. Maybe I should have paid attention to the flashing buzzing sign in my window now that says I should keep some things to myself! What fun would that be?

  • July 4, 2009 - 8:22 am

    Maggie - It’s so helpful to see the difference. I think you made the right choice. Let this be a lesson to always follow our gut (intuition). Thanks for sharing.

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