Elijah skates

This is a ‘for the heck of it’ post. Took my good buddy Elijah to the skate park in Springfield last week, and of course, had to pull out my camera. Wasn’t able to bring my flash into the park- which had me frustrated for a minute or two… but there was enough light left in the day to crank up my shutter speed and still capture some of the motion I was hoping for.

Helps to have an awesome subject who knows how his stuff… because, as I’ve often told him, I’d DIE if you got me on a board… :)

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S U M M E R

School starts this week… whoa.

Let’s back up.

for my family, summer was…

getting little hands dirty.

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Popsicles.
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Chasing fireflies.

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fireworks (‘the poopy puppy’ becomes the pinnacle when you have young children).

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vacation bible school (and reluctant posing in their matching shirts).
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lots of water.

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boredom.

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floppy hats.

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extra time with mom and dad.

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sunshine.

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fishing.

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and sheer, un(ADULT)erated joy. That’s what you get when you can just be a kid…

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Danica, 2016 senior

I talked for a long time with Danica & her parents about what type of session and locations would best fit this beautiful young lady. She knew she wanted something different for her session, as well as someWHERE different (she’s from Lamar but was up for a drive), so we met up in Bentonville early one morning before the heat hit full force and got a wonderful mix of urban & nature.

Hope you enjoy this set as much as I enjoyed taking them! :)

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NEWS // NEWS // NEWS

While, I kinda dropped off the face of the earth there for a little bit… ok, not really… but that’s certainly how it feels when you’re off for two weeks and are missing your phone for most of it.

The time off was planned, the phone absence wasn’t… I learned a great life lesson, which is never to underestimate the power of a kiddie ride at worlds of fun. The tiny semi I stuffed myself into (because my 4 year old daughter was 2 inches too short to ride anything on her own) may not LOOK like it’s going to go very fast. But that doesn’t mean it can’t suddenly lurch forward with incredible velocity, throwing your phone out of your hand and on to the tiny tiny track where it it will run over said phone 5 times before the ride is over…

But that’s not to complain. It was no FANCY vacation, but taking two weeks with my family- some of it away, some of it at home- was much needed and very good for me and mine. I read (like, a whole book), water parked, swam, fished, played board games, introduced my kids to Andy Griffith and ‘Star Trek:Next Generation’ and ate more greasy spoon breakfasts than I care to confess to.

Anyway. I’m back in business, literally and figuratively, with a new (old) phone in hand and plenty of work in front of me to catch up. The first thing to catch up on is letting you guys know what’s going on. So here’s a couple of announcements, especially for folks in the Joplin, MO area this week:

#1:: I HAVE A SHOW! 

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I’ve kept pretty quiet about it until now, but I have my first solo show in over 10 years (yep, since college), hanging RIGHT NOW at Joplin Ave Coffee Co in downtown Joplin. I’m so excited to be able to say that. A big, big thanks to Cleo’s framing, Cherry’s framing, and especially to Shaun Conroy from Spiva for helping me get everything matted and hung.

So yeah. Stop by and see it. I would post pictures, but then you wouldn’t have to go see it, would you? ;)

The show will hang for the entire month of August, so if you don’t make it in for the art walk, you’ve still got plenty of time to take look at it.

#2:: PHOTOBOOTH!

Tomorrow marks the second ‘1st thursday’ art walk this year, and I’ll be present at Spiva Center for the Arts with my photobooth. This months’ theme is ‘superhero’… an old favorite of everyone’s, with a prize this time going to the best original costume idea. Of course, we’ll have plenty of props on hand, as always…

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#3:: NOW BOOKING FALL SESSIONS!

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It’s crazy to think that school is almost here and I’m even mentioning anything about fall, but… well, it’s not too far away and it wouldn’t hurt to start thinking about it if you’ve considered booking a portrait session this fall. You can take a look my main site for more info about that.

That’s all for now… new shoots and announcements are rolling in soon, so keep an eye out!

-Mark

Urban Cycling Ventures

Commercial photography isn’t always the most exciting. (Did I tell you guys about shooting the truck stop bathroom recently?)

But sometimes it’s super fun… like when I was asked by a newly formed Joplin company to take some pictures of people posing with quirky bicycles.

The company is ‘Urban Cycling Ventures’, and their idea is simple; rent out custom bicycles for use in events or as awesome props.

After meeting with Becca (company owner) and talking over ideas and what kind of ‘look’ we wanted for these images, I decided to go for not just one general style for these photos, but two.

Since one of the target audiences for the company is, well, other photographers…I wanted Becca to be able to have images with more than one lighting method & type of location used, so that different photogs might easily imagine these bicycles as props in their own sessions.
Round 1 began with Keona and Gabe, our ‘engaged couple’ and just one of those couples that are, yes, incredibly cute together. The feel was the carefree, natural light, sun-haze look of golden hour, out on the nature trail…

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we moved on to the pennyfarthing, with the lovely young Madeline…

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It took a little bit of work to get up there…and a stepladder…

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behind the scenes… Sterling is the guy making these bikes run and doing all the transporting… what a guy!

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They were pretty funny, too, so that made for a super fun time and some ridiculous shots…

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switched to some OCF (off camera flash) lighting for that different look I was talking about earlier…

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If you are in the southwest MO area, love these bicycles, and are interested in renting them for your own engagement, wedding, event, or photography session… look up urban cycling ventures on facebook to rent these beauties!

Derek & Grace… married

This was a very special wedding for me. Derek is a friend of mine who has, in the past year, become a close one. I’ve known few men with as much integrity as this one, both in work and in life. Derek also happens to be an amazing filmmaker… you can take a look at his latest stunning documentary, here. And he is now married to a very lovely lady… miss Grace is a woman who lives up to her name well.

I have two favorite things about this wedding.

First, this is the only wedding I’ve ever shot in which the ‘first kiss’ as a married couple, was in fact the couple’s first kiss, at all.

They’d never kissed before this moment, out of an amazing quest for purity that they’ve worked hard on together.

I don’t think most folks… myself included… can scarcely imagine making that commitment. Yet I’ll forever be inspired by it.
My second favorite thing about this wedding, is that they totally had a brinner reception.

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If you don’t know what brinner is… oh my. You may not have truly lived.

Brinner is breakfast… for dinner. It’s pretty fantastic. And this wedding also is unique in that I’ve never seen breakfast as the reception food. Mmmmmmmm.

Without further ado, here’s the full day…

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these three fellas co-own Amplify Gym together. If you have kids interested in gymnastics, you should check it out.

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Grace’s dad MADE all the benches used at the wedding. I’m always kind of blown away by people that just make stuff with their bare hands. It’s a whole different kind of creativity than my own.

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The wedding venue was very planned but worked out extremely well. The first choice had been rained out (too muddy), so the couple was able to secure the not-yet-opened ‘Amadeus Ranch‘. It wasn’t 100% finished, but it was still beautiful. Can’t wait to shoot more wedding here in the future.

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this is my friend Austin, down in the crowed.

Sometimes, he’s real creepy. But I like him anyway, and this picture makes me laugh.

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this is my good friend Colby… he is, in fact, one of my very first friends in Joplin. This is not the most flattering picture to introduce him, but it made me laugh and is dedicated to everyone who ever tried to quickly duck out of a picture I was taking and still ended up in the picture, but with a really awkward ‘I’m trying to get out of the way’ stance.

Knowing Colby, I’m pretty sure this will make him laugh.

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 *GOOFY BREAK*

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I love that these two ran/skipped back to the reception. I promise I didn’t tell them to (If I had, I would’ve told them to run where there weren’t cars in the background, but then that kinda would’ve taken the awesome spontaneity out of it…)

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I think Colby was asking if it was time to sign the marriage license…

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first dance!

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Sonya & Sabin :: May 29, 2015

Sometimes, people look at my wedding photos and say ‘that’s GOOD.’

And in cases like this, I genuinely cannot take the credit. What’s so GOOD… what makes some photos have the impact that they do… is the genuine emotion that’s there when I happen to be snapping away. Without genuine love behind the eyes of my wedding day subjects, the photos would be nothing. Sonya and Sabin had that, in abundance.

They were SO in love, that you could say love completely conquered the dark spirits that threatened to overshadow the day… a day filled with tornado warnings (one dangerous storm was literally headed straight at us), flash flooding, a veil that was accidentally thrown away (and thankfully recovered) and nonstop torrential downpour, at what was originally intended to be an outdoor venue.

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A lot of brides would have completely freaked out, mascara streaming down their cheeks all day… well THAT sure would’ve put a crimp in the photo taking of the day. ;) But not Sonya. Sure, she was stressed, but she didn’t let it mess with her cheerful spirit, and you could see, the moment these two locked eyes that day, literally nothing else mattered.

As it should be.

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may photobooth: a story by siblings improv + 9art

This third thursday (the day that Joplin hosts an art walk every month, as of a few years now), I got to do probably the most innovative thing I’ve done yet with the photobooth.

It’s all about collaboration… this time with the one and only SIBLINGS IMPROV, a local improv group started by some folks I know that wanted the art of comedy & and collaboration to thrive in our little city.

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Eric (pictured above), Drew, and the other folks at improv meet every Tuesday night to teach, learn, hone their craft and develop camaraderie with other local improvers (and would-be improvers). Our local paper even wrote up a little article about it…

Who better, to help me host a photobooth devoted solely to story, to an unpredictable tale, told by the very folks to who populate my photographic storytelling stage each month here in downtown Joplin?

The initial idea was simple… find a way to collaborate with Siblings. These folks of course RAN with the idea, helping set up a framework for a story that would run the course of the night.

I had to be careful. I knew if I said the word ‘improv’ that folks might be weary and think things like ‘oh I can’t do improv’…. which is the very reason I announced this photobooth as having a ‘surprise’ theme.

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Once we knew were doing this thing, we set up a plan. Here’s what it was:

Each photo got one line of the ongoing epic poem, written on the spot, by the member of Siblings that was present for their half hour ‘shift’. The Siblings member furthermore stepped in and helped direct each group, telling the story through the use of those present and the weird, random props we assembled to assist us.

Here is that story.

Does it make sense?

Absolutely not.

Does it matter?

Nope.

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It’s fun. It was on-the-spot. It was new. THAT’S what matters.

Have fun…

PHOTOBOOTH STORY (2015)

Ian went to catch a fish
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to please his parents, was his only wish

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his friends met him at the bayou

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two dames asked “can we sit by you?”

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along came two heroes to save the day

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because Dr. Seuss and the Hulk came out to play

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A dog and his master came by to see

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how funny a different a different kind of catch can be

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pick cashew apples, Truman did

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defended with rackets, against the squid

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[FAST FORWARD TO… chapter 3]

The hulk had decided to fish

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Against his evil nemesis…

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4 long haired girls screamed Action! And the fishing was on!

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As the large crowd, eagerly looked on

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The Hulk had a bite, but it was just some ninja turtles

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Hulk and his love, Helmet Momma, also caught the scary Levi fish

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Once the Levi fish is caught, he makes a delicious dish

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The evil lamp head captured Helmet Momma- but Hulk won the day!

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Hulk soon brought princess and lizard boy D to join his hero way

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CHAPTER 40

After Ian’s death, a mother/daughter team determined to fight crime

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The Ratzsimuff gang could wreak ferocious havoc on a dime

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Mother & daughter fought the gang with bravery, and honor, and weird looks..

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To the lair the Ratzsimuffs plot and scheme, how they’ll make the public scream!

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Daddy Man, Wonder Mom, Titus Boy, and Judah Boy

Break onto the scene!

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With the bearded beauties TO STEAL ICE CREAM!

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They threw the babies to the cops, then quickly ran away

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The Dogwoods witnessed all of it, like the most insane of plays!

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Alien Alex descended from the stars

to eat some lovely bars

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the new members of the Ratszimuff gang

gather together to hang

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Helmet Dad ang gang are stepping on their turf

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the clowns are NOT happy, threatening to break out the nerf!

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The town broke out in all out war!

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But Ryan spoke up.

“Hey girl. No more.”

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The gangs made friends at last!
They pulled together and had a blast!

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CHAPTER 73

The alien- Brainhead- attempts abduction

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but underestimates the humans’  skills at dancing, fanny packs, and deduction

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Brainheads’ alien crew tried to act sneaky, but were loud because their car was leaky

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The noisy engine caught the attention of the Crusaders

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So they SMASHED the aliens like momma’s mashed potatoes!41

FIN

thoughts on the trend + my kids

So I’ve been busy for sure, but not the super glamorous/exciting kind of photography that you really put in a blog post. I photographed two factories and, wait for it, a truck stop… yes, when I tweeted the other day that I was literally editing photos of a truck stop bathroom, I wasn’t joking.

Not to complain, in the least. I always enjoy photographing something new, no matter how unexciting it may appear at first. It’s an invigorating challenge to me take a subject like… a truck stop bathroom… and figure out how to make it interesting to look at. How to still make the viewer feel something when they’re seeing that image.

In this case, ‘Man. I want to use THAT bathroom.’

Since I haven’t posted in awhile and I’m pretty sure no-one is going to be enthralled to view my truck stop photos (even if it IS a very nice truck stop), I’m going to my default… pictures of my children. Because they’re cute, and we all know it. But here’s a little more thought on these photos, first…

I’ve been playing with some new editing techniques. I’m the guy that’s remained stubborn and steered clear of the whole VSCO trend up to this point. If you don’t know what that is… it’s the set of presets that make every photo look like it’s from 1965 even though it’s 2015. It’s the photographic equivalent of replacing all your furniture with mid-century-modern. [I hate to admit it, but I LOVE midcentury modern].

But I’ve been a grumpy old man and wanted to not do what everyone else is doing and said I’d NEVER use one of those damn presets. Until…

I received some advice from a trusted and very talented colleague who’s far and away in the next phase of photographic success. His advice pertained to some of my images appearing ‘too digital’. Very interesting.

After looking back through the particular project I’d showed him, I realized he was absolutely right. I’d worked hard with the lighting and setting to create a mood, but there was still something missing. Too crisp. Too perfect. Too digital.

So… I did some research. I broke down and downloaded some presets. I slapped some of them on photos and yep, sure enough…. they looked beautiful. In a sense.

A very very trendy sort of sense. As in, ‘oh. THESE are the presets that every photographer who has entered the photographerforce in the past 5 years is using.’

Love/hate relationship there. I never want to be stale. I always want to be changing, growing, learning, experimenting. But let that thinking carry too far, and you become one who is simply swept away with every new trend. (selective color, anyone?)

It reminds me of a line from a C.S. Lewis book… ‘the greatest triumph of all [for those who might work to stop us, from doing our best] is to elevate this horror of the same old thing [emphasis mine] into a philosophy.’ In other words, if we’re TOO scared of becoming stagnant in our work, we actually become obsessed with staying ahead of the curve and go from being trendsetters to being trend chasers.

I heard it best in a recent Tim Ferriss podcast: ‘when you try to chase what’s cool, you’re already too late.’

That’s always my question. How do I be ‘modern’ and ‘now’ with my work? How do I do that… but walk away with images that might still be considered timeless and original when I look at them again in 20 years?

I don’t have an easy answer. I think it has something to do with never compromising your original voice. [and if you’re a new artist and haven’t found that voice yet, read THIS BOOK].

So the question shouldn’t be ‘is this effect cool?’ it should be ‘is this effect something that helps my images say what I need them to say?’ Keep the question the same. But yes, playLEARNplay, keep learning new techniques, figure out what others have done well, just so long as you know how to then make it your own.

That’s probably enough philosophizing for now…

So here’s the first batch of experimentation. The one where I’m just using photos of my kids, and yes, these photo edits look film like and dreamy and, probably overdone and SUPER trendy. But I’m working through the experimenting to find a new look that’s all mine again… that’s what it’s all about, right?

Stay tuned.

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this little lady loves getting her hands dirty…

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this is what happens when I try to take a ‘serious’ photo of my son with his soccer medal [because, on principal, I stubbornly refuse to pay for the team photographer’s photos when I do this for a living and can take my own…]

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Hey you guys…. mini sessions!!!!

mini sessions- june

Once… maybe twice… every year, 9art busts out the mini sessions. They are mini pieces of awesome.

Why? Well, let’s be blunt. They’re cheaper. Not an event that you have to work quite so hard at saving for. But you still get some really great pictures out of the deal.

Here’s the breakdown, Joplin:

My main thing… what I REALLY get excited about… are full sessions. a ‘full’ session means one in which we figure out some unique, and possibly crazy concepts and locations to base a shoot around. We take our time, we plan out where, and what is going on in that shoot and it’s very personal to you and it’s very artistic in nature.

It’s the kind of shoot that may not happen every year… and when it does happen, we talk about bigger purchases, like session books and wall portraits… keepsakes for life and for the lives beyond your own, with specialized images to keep in your family for decades to come.
Full sessions might result in shots like this,
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or this-
adara's bookbrush- concept fairytale image from southwest mo commercial photographer 9art photography

A mini session, on the other hand, is short and sweet. We stick to one location… something simple… and we focus on a 10-15 minute time slot. That time is just focused on your kiddo, not the whole family, and rather than talking about the higher end of products, we keep it simple.

Here’s a couple of shots from mini sessions last year…

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We have two easy options for packages. They are as follows:

#1:  mini session w/ prints: $100

  • sitting fee included                                                                                                                                                                              
  • one 8 x 10
  • one 5 x 7
  • two 4 x 6    

#2: mini session w/ digital images: $150

  • sitting fee included
  • 5 high res digital images included

And of course, you can add on any other products you like, ‘a la carte’.

Interested? Just drop me a line… mr9schwander@gmail.com.

The times are, June 12th from 3-6pm, & June 13th from 10:30am to 1pm. Since I’d love to do these sessions in a more natural setting, we will be at the mercy of the weather, so stay tuned for backup dates if it gets rainy.

Can’t make one of those times? Get ahold of me and I’ll see if we can’t find another time that week that will work for you.

Spread the word!

-Mark