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Behind the Scenes of Rachael Maxwell Photography

Monday, March 9, 2015
I thought it would be kind of fun to do a little "Behind the Scenes of Rachael Maxwell Photography" post so you could all get a peek at what I do and how my business runs. It's a little more complex than pointing a camera at people and handing people their photos.... OK, maybe a lot more complex. 

It all starts with a contact. I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours each day reading and answering emails, texts, Facebook messages, or phone calls. These messages include requests for information, session bookings, session reminders, and answering questions for clients. I chat about color schemes for outfits, the best location options, and last minute adjustments. I promise my clients a 24 hour reply time, but usually can respond in 12 hours or less. The joys of smart phones and a 24/7 business owner!




When I meet a client for our session, I've already put in a few hours of communication, prep work, travel time, and research. The gear is cleaned and charged and any applicable permits have been taken care of. Then it's time for fun! It's time to laugh and play, hug and smile, and just have a good time. I'm kind of known for ending a session with the comment, "pretty painless, eh?" My goal is for you to not only have photos that you love and cherish, but to have a genuinely good time getting those photos. I like to provide a mixture of posed and candid shots so that the photos tell a story of a family, individual, or event.



After our goodbyes, I head home for the rest of my work. Well, usually a cold soda and some food are required when I first get home, but then it's back to work! All the photos get loaded up on to my computer and immediately head for back up.


I use a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop for my editing. I know a lot of photographers prefer one or the other or have found ways to make one program work for all their steps, but even after 3 years of playing, this is still the best way for me. All the photos start in Lightroom for sorting & rating, also known as culling. This is where I go through all the photos I took and chose the best images. Usually this takes 2-3 trips to the computer. I narrow it down once, then walk away or sleep on it before coming back another time or two with fresh eyes to make sure I have the absolute best. Once I have the final batch, I do my rough edits while still in Lightroom.


Once the basic edits are completed, it's time to open up Photoshop for the fine-tuning. I prefer the tools and controls (especially the brushes) in Photoshop to those in Lightroom, so two programs it is. This is where the photos go from "great" to "awesome" to "amazing."

My editing style is fairly simple - I like images that are vibrant, light, and simple. I do very little in the "body correction" department -- I remove blemishes and boo-boos, clean up stray hairs, and smooth out skin when necessary, but I refuse to change weight or proportions... sorry.




My first public before and after! Original on the left, final product on the right. Nothing major, just some retouching and enhancing the image.

Editing usually takes about 2 weeks during regular operation, 3-4 weeks during busy season (September - early December). Then I get to deliver the final digital gallery to the client and help them turn their images into prints, canvas, and albums. I can't tell you how much I love fulfilling print and product orders. I love how everything comes to me and I get to ogle it first before delivering it to the happy customer. I'm not ashamed to admit there have been several albums and canvases that I have wanted to keep for myself!



But the job doesn't stop there. In between the fun of shooting and editing, there's the not so fun business side of everything :  Every quarter, I have to file and pay sales taxes for all the sessions and product orders I completed. Every year, I have to renew my business license and website domain/hosting. Every month, I pay for my business insurance and my gallery website. Every spring, I have to compile all my receipts and expenses and pay my wonderful tax man so that he can figure out my end-of-year taxes. There's also website maintenance and updates, session blogs, photo archival, and social media interactions and updates. When all is said and done, I work 30-50 hours a week depending on the time of year.

I'm often asked, "how do you do it all, especially with three little kids?" Well, there a couple things that help, the biggest being my awesome husband. A few nights a week, he comes home from work, takes the kids, puts the final touches on dinner, and puts the munchkins to bed so that I have some uninterrupted time to work before it gets too late and I go cross-eyed. During busy season, this process happens every day 6-7 days a week. I wouldn't be able to take on as much as I do if it weren't for his unconditional help. Other helps include the fact that all 3 of my kids nap at the same time, my beloved iPhone, and a black can of Full Throttle. Hey, I'm being honest!

Hopefully that gave you some fun insight in to all that happens behind the scenes here. It is a lot of work, time, money, and more time, but I love it and wouldn't change it for the world.

Getting in the Picture

Monday, January 26, 2015
I'll say it now, I'll say it tomorrow, I'll say it in 20 years -- your kids don't care how you look in pictures, they care that you're in the pictures with them. They won't see the extra weight, baggy eyes or roots peeking through, they'll see their totally awesome mom smiling and laughing with them as they grow.

I take comfort being behind the camera rather than in front -- I truly understand the feeling. The photos are below are from the one set of photos from 2014 where I really LOVE how I look....  and it's mostly because I was matron of honor for my best friend's wedding and had invested in a really good pair of Spanx, and spent $100 on a professional make up artist and another $80 to have my hair quaffed by a pro. Quite unfortunately, I don't think Spanx are comfortable enough for every day wear and I can't afford the professional help on a day-to-day basis. Dang practical budgeting.






The fact is that I don't look like that on a daily basis. Most days are spent in yoga pants or leggings. If I'm feeling gutsy, I'll squeeze into jeans for the day. My hair is on top of my head, I don't wear makeup, and I have cleverly found that my glasses hide my dark circles. I'm sneaky that way. Even when I dress up, I'm still covering -- what I perceive to be -- my flaws. 

That's a very important part, there.... I'm focusing on what I see as my flaws. I could look at the photos below and pick them apart until the cows come home. But I won't because, despite what I see, I also see photos that I love & cherish. They capture moments that are special to me - time with friends, moments with my family, hugs and kisses with my kids. Sure, the photos would look just fine without me in them. My friends would still be having fun, my baby would still be cuddled by someone, my boys would still be smiling and laughing for the camera. But what good does that do for telling a story, for telling MY story? I have plenty of scrapbook pages that have pictures of everyone else because I didn't hand the camera over to someone else. I stayed in my comfort zone behind the camera and captured everyone else's happiness. But I was there, I was happy, I had fun, too! 

I've been making an effort this past year to get in front of the camera, to let it go and enjoy the moment. To practice what I preach and act on the fact that I fully believe everyone is beautiful and everyone deserves to be in the photo. Hear that? Not only should you be in the photos, you DESERVE to be in the photos. You work hard for your family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your kids and friends and family love you for you. Share the moments with them! It's all about the baby steps - take a selfie with your son on your phone, grab a snapshot with your daughter at the park, hand the camera to a fellow tourist and pose in front of that national monument. Stand up and say "I was here! I lived this moment!" 

And know, that even as a professional, I understand where you're coming from. And trust that I mean it when I say you can let go at a photo shoot - be free, have fun, be you - and let me do the work. Let me worry about posing or your bangs in the wind or that scar on your chin. Leave your worries at the door, because 

I think you're beautiful.















California Spring Dates

Monday, January 19, 2015
Everyone give a big hooray for California spring dates!! I will be in the Bay Area & booking shoots from April 18-26th. It's the perfect time for Seniors, Mother's Day photos, and updated photos in the warmer weather.

I now offer three different packages to chose from so that you can find the package that best suits your needs for images and print options. Check out the options under the Investment tab.

There will be two blocks of mini sessions this trip:

Saturday, April 18th, there will be morning sessions (location TBD) and

Sunday, April 19th, there will be evening sessions at Vasona Park.

All sessions will be $125 and include a 20 minute session, at least 15 edited images in an online gallery & a custom designed mini accordion album. There will also be a discount if you wish to purchase additional albums from your mini session - these little books make amazing gifts and are perfect for Mother's & Father's Day!

All sessions are limited, so if you are interested in booking, please send me a message or an email to claim your place!


Spring Openings & Mini Sessions!

Happy 2015! Don't you just love the nice weather we've been having recently? This is one thing I love about Las Vegas -- we can wear t-shirts by February! Booking is now open for all spring & summer sessions. It's the perfect time for Seniors, Mother's Day photos, and updated photos in the warm weather. I also have some weekend openings for newborn sessions; the perfect way to celebrate your new little addition!

I now offer three different packages to chose from so that you can find the package that best suits your needs for images and print options. You can see all the options under the Investment tab.



I've also opened up the booking for this year's Spring Mini Sessions -- there will be two blocks of minis this year, both at great locations.

Saturday, March 14th, there will be morning sessions at Floyd Lamb Park.
Saturday, April 11th, there will be evening sessions at Peccole Ranch.

All sessions will be $125 and include a 20 minute session, at least 15 edited images in an online gallery & a custom designed mini accordion album. There will also be a discount if you wish to purchase additional mini albums from your mini session - these little books make amazing gifts and are perfect for Mother's & Father's Day!

Mini sessions are limited, so if you are interested in booking, please send me a message or an email to claim your place!

As always - you guys are what keep me going and your referrals are always appreciated. If you know someone who might be interested in booking a session, pass this information along!



Slade Newborn - Las Vegas, NV Photographer

This sweet little (well, 9 pounds little) guy made his appearance just after Thanksgiving and within a week, he was ready for his first official photo shoot! Daddy and my husband are friends and co-workers and even my boys have been excited for the arrival of their friend, "Baby Swade."

This little man was a complete stud and an angel for our shoot. He tried to make us think it was going to be hard work at the beginning, but with some white noise and well-practiced bouncing, I was able to convince him that I wasn't all that bad and he fell into a perfect balance of awake & sleepy smiles. 

Best part was that mom & dad got to go in the other room and take a break (maybe even a power nap!) while he and I worked on his solo shots! Make sure to scroll through to see all the perfect little rolls and features on this cutie! 




















Riley Turns Three - Las Vegas, NV Photographer

Oh my sweet Riley Roo. This kid keeps me on my toes. He is the cutest, funniest little boy, but don't let that smile & big blue eyes fool you... he can also be a tornado of chaos. He turned 3 in November and we took the chance to get some photos of him in the beautiful changing leaves. 


(In Las Vegas, we see "fall" about November, maybe December.)
He was quite the model for me and we cranked out our little shoot in about 10 minutes. It's amazing what you can get in a matter of minutes!







Pike Family MINI - Las Vegas, NV Photographer

So I was in heaven after one shoot with the Pike Family... and over the moon to get another chance for a quick mini session later in the season. Taylor & I have become best buds -- especially when we found out that our birthdays are only a day apart! We had a fun quick session in the leaves and perfect warm sunset & I really can't wait for more opportunities to work with them in the years to come!













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