Portrait photography common questions and answers

Where and when for the session?

I like to schedule the appointment about an hour before sunset if possible. I usually do the session at the Myrtle Beach or Huntington Beach State Parks (See Q&A Section Below), and I have park passes to get in two cars without the park fees. If you prefer another location, such as at your beach house or a location away from the beach, we can do them there as well. There is no set time limit for an evening session. Usually, it takes about an hour or sometimes more for large groups. There are also no limits on family groupings, poses, or candid shots.

Myrtle Beach State Park vs Huntington State Park for photography?

I can come to your location if you prefer, but these are my usual spots if you don’t have a preference. Both of these state parks are located on the beach. Some of the pictures you see in my gallery from years past are from Myrtle Beach State Park. It is conveniently located near the south end of Myrtle Beach near the airport. They have a nice area with old oak trees, a pier, and a nice beach area. However, because of recent hurricanes, the dunes are very damaged at the Myrtle Beach park, and they have roped them off to protect them. Also, in the summer, the Myrtle Beach park is very crowded, which makes taking pictures there more difficult.

For these reasons, I have switched my usual beach picture location to Huntington Beach State Park. If it’s not too far of a drive for a client, I think this is a much better location. Huntington is located at the south end of Murrells Inlet before Pawleys Island. They have an area with the Atalaya Castle, palm trees, nice dunes, and a beautiful, much less crowded beach area. The only thing missing from Huntington is a pier. If you want to check out my typical routine at this park, I made a recent blog post here.

So just let me know what you prefer. If pier pictures are very important to you or if you are staying at the north end of the Grand Strand, and you don’t mind dealing with little more crowds, then Myrtle Beach State Park might be best. If you want a more relaxed location with the castle and better dunes, then I recommend Huntington. Of course, if you don’t want beach pictures at all, there are other locations such as the Conway Riverwalk and Caledonia that are great.

What is the deposit for the photo session?

I request a $200 deposit which is deducted from your total to hold the date. This can be paid by CashApp, Venmo, Check, or Credit Card. If using a credit card, fees of 2.9% will be added. If you choose to tag a Venmo transaction as a “good or service”, or select the protection checkbox, a 1.9% fee will be added that they charge me. You can give me the final payment when it’s convenient at the session or send it sometime after. If because of rain we have to cancel the session and we can’t reschedule, I will fully refund the deposit. This deposit is refundable up to 3 months from the session date, after that, I can’t refund the deposit unless rain prevents us from doing the session and we can’t reschedule.

What is your satisfaction guarantee policy? What about my hair blowing in the wind?

Please do have reasonable expectations at the beach and realize that there can be a lot of wind and various lighting conditions. I like the more natural, candid outdoor look myself, and I think I do a great job working with available conditions. However, I always work with a satisfaction-guaranteed policy. I never want someone unhappy with my work, so I would be happy to work out any situation where you are not completely happy, even with a full refund. Please, though, don’t expect studio-perfect lighting and perfect hair in the pictures.

If you are extremely concerned about the look of your hair, I would highly recommend Huntington Beach State Park, where there are more areas to get out of the wind. That has a beach but also the castle area and trees area that is more sheltered. Or a completely off-the-beach location like the Conway River Walk or Caledonia Golf Club. The beach can be very windy. I try to keep the wind blowing your hair back, so it’s not in your face, and many people don’t mind the hair having a windblown look. However, I know some clients really like their hair not to be blown in the wind at all. I just never know what conditions we will have at the beach. So a location with a lot of trees can be preferable to give us options in that case.

What is the price of prints if we choose to order them through the online client gallery?

Prints can be easily ordered through your client gallery using your photo credit and by credit card (Of course, you can download and get prints made anywhere you like as well). These are all printed at one of the best photo labs with lots of different mounting and paper-type options. I try to keep the cost of the prints reasonable. Visit my print store for a full list of prices.

If you choose to order them through me, I also check for issues that wouldn’t be caught at a normal photo printer. For example, issues with cropping to certain print sizes, canvas wrapping issues, and other things. Of course, the quality of your delivered prints should look great printed anywhere you like.

What are Digital Copies and can I print from them?

The digital copies you receive as part of a package will include the majority of the pictures from your session in high resolution. These are suitable for large prints or whatever you would like to do with them. Many times, I’m taking multiple shots of the same pose, so I will pick the best couple from the series. There could also be a picture that just doesn’t turn out, and those won’t be included. All the images provided you will have been color corrected, adjusted, and look very nice. If needed, you can select a few that you would like specific touch-ups. For example, removing people from a background, face touch-ups, etc., even if you are only getting the digital copies. See the Photoshop touch-ups section below for more details.

You are allowed to print as many images from the digital files as you like. There are no watermarks on the pictures. I will also send you a link for a copyright release that you can print out. This is required at some locations such as Wal-Mart.

How long do I have to purchase my images, how long will they be stored?

I store a photo session for a minimum of 1 year. Although I still have backups from 15 years ago and plan to keep them indefinitely. If you wish to have copies of images forever in the future, you do need to make sure you have downloaded your digital copies and make your own backups. Of course, I’ve had many clients come back to me years later, and I’m always happy to provide copies again of the pictures. I just don’t guarantee it after one year.

What should we wear to a beach session?

A family group needs to look unified for a good group portrait. The style and color of clothing need to coordinate. For example, you don’t want colors and textures on the clothes that really clash with each other. A popular look at the beach is a white or black T-Shirt and Khaki Pants or Blue Jeans. I’ve also had families wear different color shirts and even different patterns, and I think it gives a nice variety to the pictures. For example, with a large group portrait, it can be fun for each family unit in the group to wear a different color. I’ve found that if the family thinks the clothes look good together, then they will turn out nice for the pictures. Look through my photo galleries and see what you like!

If you tend to sweat when it’s hot and humid, which most of us do, you might want to consider a white shirt or wearing an undershirt to avoid water spots in the pictures.

Make sure to think about what the wind is going to do to an outfit! For example, a thin dress might end up blowing tight against or between your legs. If a dress is too short, it might be difficult to take pictures sitting by the dunes or dipping in front of the ocean for engagement pictures. I’ve noticed that women’s blouses can have lace or an area at the top that blows up in the wind and onto the neck. Try not to have anything on the clothes that will blow around too much or look bad on a windy day.

What can be requested for Photoshop image touch-ups?

Sometimes Photoshop is thought of as something magic, that anything can be changed in a picture. Some of the tools in the latest Photoshop are pretty magical, but there are some limitations. All the images you will get have been adjusted in software called Lightroom, this allows me to adjust color and exposure and get the image looking really nice. That is all a lot of pictures need before printing. If they do need specific editing such as removing people from the background, then I have to go into Photoshop.

The important thing to keep in mind, when something is removed from an image, there is nothing behind it. For example, if your hair is removed from in front of your eye, if I just remove the hair it’s like taking scissors and cutting something out of the picture. Anything that is under an area removed has to be recreated. What I have to do in Photoshop is clone, or copy one part of an image to another to recreate the missing area. If the hair is going across your forehead that is pretty easy, I just copy from right next to the hair and cover it up. If a small bit of hair is even going across an eye, I can carefully clone from other parts of the eye and cover it up. However, keeping this in mind, if a large section of the face is covered by hair it may be impossible to recreate what is underneath in a realistic way. The same is true for anything you want to be moved or removed from an image, anything under that spot has to be recreated so I have to use a similar spot to clone from. Please keep in mind the difficulty in doing this when making requests.

Also, I can take two images and combine them by moving heads, eyes, or mouths from one and copying it into another. Please realize though, this can only be done if the poses are almost the same. I normally take 3 or 4 shots of each pose, so faces in two of these can be combined so you can’t even tell, but not if the poses change significantly and people move too much.

What is the turnaround time on a picture order?

The printing service I use has a fast turnaround time, I’ve never had it take more than a few days for a client to receive an order made through their online gallery. If you require specific touch-ups on the pictures it can take a little longer, I can’t guarantee a time but usually a couple of weeks, during my really busy times of the year when I have many orders it can take longer.

Why do you suggest beach photography close to sunset?

Unlike in a studio, in nature, you have to use whatever light you can find, in addition to some added flash. On the beach, shade is something that is very hard to find. In direct overhead sunlight, shadows on the face can be very harsh, for example, there will be shadows under your eyes and nose. If you have ever seen a typical beach snapshot, you will see faces that look unattractive and eyes that are closed or squinting. This is why it’s really best to avoid the times of the day when the sun is overhead.

Later in the day, very close to sunset, the light becomes much softer and easier to deal with. I do have tricks that can help reduce the effect of harsh sunlight like good positioning and using fill flash. For larger family groups, the light becomes even more difficult to manage. Of course, if we really need to do a session earlier in the day I can, but you will get the best results close to sunset. Sometimes clients will think I’m planning the session too late but I’m always thinking about the best time for a certain group size with sunset time that day.

Why do I have to pay sales tax even if I only get digital pictures?

If you live in the state of SC I have to collect sales tax on your purchases just like if you were to buy something in a physical store. If you live outside of SC and I am shipping your items out of state you are responsible for paying sales tax on your purchases to your own state and I don’t collect this from you.

In most states like SC, photography service is considered part of the “fabrication process”. The product you are receiving could be a physical album, a few prints, or it could be a DVD with digital copies of the pictures. Even digital copies on a flash drive etc. of pictures are considered a product, eventually, you will print or share them, and all the work that goes into that product is taxable as well. For example, if you buy a widget at a store, you can’t separate the labor that went into that widget from the cost of the widget itself. In the same way, I can’t separate the labor of the photography service from the digital or physical copies because it all goes into producing the final product.

You may find a photographer that doesn’t charge sales tax or that separates costs. However, if they are audited, they could be driven out of business altogether with the cost of back taxes. I make sure I do everything correctly by collecting proper SC sales tax and having business licenses.

What business licenses do you have and why is this important?

Especially for a wedding, it is important that your vendors have proper business licenses. At Myrtle Beach city-owned locations, they will check the license status of all your vendors and they will not allow the wedding to be held if any vendors lack a license. I keep a general Horry County license as well as for North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach. I’m also a licensed retail business with SC. I even have my business name now as a registered trademark. I would recommend always making sure your vendors have proper business licenses before booking. I don’t update the images below every year, I can provide up-to-date copies on request.

South Carolina Retail Business License
South Carolina Retail Business License
City of Myrtle Beach Business License
City of Myrtle Beach Business License
City of North Myrtle Beach Business License
City of North Myrtle Beach Business License
Horry County Business License
Horry County Business License
Registered Service Mark
Registered Service Mark