We produce high quality image art for all of our clients. If you're interested in working with us we are available for sessions on location throughout Chicagoland. We also offer Marmalade Location sessions in our home area in the SW Suburbs of Chicago.
We are often booked several weeks in advance especially during our peak seasons (spring, summer and fall). Session fees start at $195 for weekday sessions @ our Marmalade Locations or $295 for weekday sessions on location in Metro Chicagoland. Weekend sessions are available for an add'l $60.
Prints are a separate purchase and start at $45. Collection pricing starts at $795. Please call us: 815.603.8450 with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!
Since 2005 I have been in the business of creating tangible memories but the truth is that I have been a photographer "forever". I was about 6 when I first held my brother Matt's (heavy) Canon AE-1's viewfinder up to my face, I the heft of the camera heavy in my hands & the strap scratching the back of my neck. I remember seeing the world through that viewfinder rectangle for the very first time.
For a number of years I worked as an RN in the critical care setting and at some point I had a realization that while I loved the connection nursing allowed me to have with others, I wanted more to contribute beauty and love to their existence. Some of my favorite patient families would bring photos in for their loved ones - visual reminders that the patient lying in bed is a human being, struggling at the moment but in reality this person is a loving parent, a doting grandparent, a wonderful wife or husband, someone's best friend. Those photos personalized my experience with my patients. It is because of these experiences that I continue to grasp to UNDERSTAND the meaning of this life. My belief is that the meaning lies in the connection between us all, relationships, after all, are the only thing we leave on this earth with any real meaning.
In 2005 when I finally took the leap and started Marmalade Photography it was based upon a single vision: fun, beautiful and quality photos for Chicago area families and children that speak to who they are as a character in the plot of their lives and who they are in the connectedness of this life.
My ten years photographing people of varying ages is of benefit to you: I offer a full service photography experience and have the expertise to create art you will love for your home. I love to help clients design wall galleries, provide custom created beautiful albums and art pieces. I have even been commissioned to create images as large as 10 feet in length. High touch, high quality, there is no other way to do it.
While I do live, breathe & eat photography obviously I am not just Marmalade Photography. I am also a wife…a mom to Maddie & Lauren who inspire me every day in so many ways…I am a historian and a friend…a gardener (who can't keep indoor plants but I have a green thumb if it grows outside)…funny…fun loving…serious…in fact you & I may have a lot in common…I would love to get to know you through that rectangle & tell your families' story for you.
There’s a real problem in this industry of photography, something that most professional photographers of any real caliber have likely experienced. Image theft.
[learn_more caption=”The scenario most photographers are familiar with is:”] XYZ Photographer posts an image online for a client (perhaps a sneak peek, perhaps for a slideshow, perhaps on Facebook…the reason doesn’t matter). Posted image(s) then get picked up by another photographer, who may take a fancy to said image(s) for whatever reason (lack of skill, lack of knowledge, lack of confidence in ones’ own work, etc) and decides to exploit this other photographer’s work by including the image(s) in their own gallery on their website. Thus not only stealing another photographer’s property but also created a false brand of their own. Clients who see these beautiful images on someone elses’ site associate this work as being created by the photographer in question, never knowing the Photographer XYZ is the original creator. This scenario typically occurs because the offending photographer has no clue that the world of photography is a small world and that eventually their cheats, thievery and lies will catch up to them. This photographers gallery is also likely to be filled with other photographer’s images. Historically this seems to be the pattern anyway.[/learn_more]
Most photographers combat this by placing a watermark (usually a logo) somewhere on the image (see images below). Some photographers make it glaringly obvious, my personal preference is simply an identifier on the side or on the bottom that doesn’t detract from the image itself.
~OR ANOTHER EXAMPLE~
Many clients find it off putting that photographers watermark their images, I was told once, long ago (by an attorney friend) “You really shouldn’t put your logo on your images, no one will ever care to steal them.” a laughable statement from a photographer’s perspective because image theft is VERY real and VERY PROBLEMATIC in the photography industry. If I didn’t put a watermark/identifier on my images I think it would be simply sticking my head in the sand.
[learn_more caption=”The Watermark Debate Rages On”] I have discussed this with some of my wedding photographer colleagues and understand their desire to NOT watermark and in a way I see their point (I still disagree because, well why not?! 🙂 ), wedding and event photographers are typically paid a hefty fee, upfront, for their services. Portrait photographers, such as myself, earn their livelihood on speculation. We don’t know what kind of sale a session can bring. It can be miniscule, barely covering our cost of running our business or the sales can be considerable, helping to clothe and feed our families. Usually the latter occurs, thankfully. Wedding photographers care about image theft but it affects their bottom line differently…[/learn_more]
Now I usually reserve rants of this nature for private photography related groups or one on one conversations with friends. In this case I think I’m justified in voicing my frustration and anger, here, on my blog. It’s my work I’m protecting and talking about, it’s well within my rights. Not only because it happened to me (it’s actually happened countless times – from innocent kids playing stupid games on the Brazilian social network Orkut with my (&other photogs) images to Flickr re-edits of my work (don’t ask…), to other photographers (really “fauxtographers” as much as I hate that word) who have taken my work, deleted my watermark and called it their own. This list of transgressions is pretty extensive and if I stop to think about it: very depressing). No not because it finally happened but because this most recent occurrence has hit me in the gut. I feel violated and saddened. That a supposedly trustworthy photographer would do something so flagrant as steal my work but to also try to sell images of mine as their own!
You read that right. This Chicago area photographer was entrusted with some of my images as a FAVOR to a good client of mine. He/she was granted usage for a slideshow he/she was creating for my clients two years ago. Every image had a copyrighted statement in the metadata portion of the image(s), screenshot of that actual metadata statement is below:
As you can see I explicitly allowed permission for usage ONLY for the event slideshow.
I happened to be on this photographers’ site on Thursday and meandered through the Mitzvah gallery. Moment of truth: I fully admit that my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see what they created for our mutual client two years ago for the reception portion of the Bar Mitzvah that I wasn’t covering (to my credit it took me two years to be curious!). On the site there are separate galleries, I clicked on my clients name and discovered a whole ton of images in a short slideshow leading into the gallery. Admittedly most images here were the photographers in question, however the image LEADING into that very slideshow looked VERY familiar to me, ridiculously familiar to me…to the point of my taking a screen capture of this image to be sure that it was indeed what I suspected, image theft. I looked into every detail, the piece of lint on the right shoulder of the jacket, the crooked way the tie ever so slightly was knotted to the right, the expression, the catchlights in the Bar Mitzvah boys’ eyes. ALL of it matched up.
Intrigued I dug deeper, found several more images of mine littered throughout the gallery subset (there were various sections to this gallery). Two years ago I sent off >90 images to this photographer and they took that opportunity of displaying a good deal of them ON THEIR PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE, WITH THEIR LOGO ON THEM and surrounded said images by digital frame edits that were placed on there after the images left my hands. In short: this photog claimed my images as their own, put their logo and handiwork on them and put them on their site.
Rewind back two years ago to the day I sent those images off to them: I rushed through production edits (soft proofing them), so that my client and her family could enjoy the formal images from the day before. Fast forward two years and this photog is laying claim to my work. Digging even deeper into their portfolio for the event in question, I discovered that he/she was not only laying claim to my workmanship but he was ALSO SELLING MY IMAGES PIECE MEAL TO ANY TAKERS, yes you read that right.
My images were alongside this other photogs own, all for sale with various size options posted next to them.
I was seeing red, how could I not be seeing every shade of red possible? HOW DARE THEY!?! I trusted this photog with my client’s images! Hell my CLIENT trusted them as well! My client essentially laid her reputation (with me) on the line for them. And they did this?! SELLING MY IMAGES. What in the world!?!
Up until this point in the game I had thought I’ve seen everything in the dirty underbelly of the business of photography. Admittedly it’s a side clients never should see and outsiders would never ever expect. The irony that I’m laying this out here for the world to see, to judge and to critique. That irony is NOT lost on me. Most honest photogs will admit that there’s a lot of ugliness in this industry, it’s not only extremely competitive but in our current economy it’s gotten cut throat. To boot every one has access of some sort to a dSLR and that, in part, is making this industry competitive beyond words. These factors have made some of the players stoop very very low to downright playing dirty. I thought I’d heard and seen it all, funny though, until now I had yet to hear about this particular scenario. Here I was smack dab in the middle of this melodrama…honestly this is something out of an image creators nightmare.
By this point, with my vision clouded in every shade of red, I’m acting purely on impulse. I immediately pull up this photogs’ contact info and proceed to call their phone number. I didn’t even stop to think – I just did it.
Why call? Why not cool my jets?
Well I’ve been in the game long enough and I know that cowering or hiding only allows the goofy stuff to proliferate, people get away with all sorts of crazy nonsense. Hell it’s been two years, I highly doubt Bigshot Photographer thought that they’d ever be caught. I know if I was them I would be sitting pretty self assured that there would be no getting caught. That was a misstep on their part. The web has made the world a very teeeny tiiiiny place. Things eventually do catch up to you. While that crazy karma bus might only come through once in awhile, when it finally does it sometimes rushes through like a speeding bullet.
[learn_more caption=”Telling it like it is, the pros and not-so-much-cons:”] I’ve realized that when you the ugly truth on the line and tell people how it really is people don’t mess with you. Why? Because they don’t want to be called out on their b.s.. Let’s face it: if we know we’re going to get away with something we do it. I saw a funny clip by Louis C.K. on his HBO special “Oh My God” the other day. Per Louis C.K.: People don’t NOT commit murder because it’s the “right thing to do”, they don’t commit murder because there are LAWS against it. If you haven’t caught up to Louis C.K. yet you really need to. Not saying murder is ok, I hold a different belief system than Louis but he’s still funny and has a point. People (often) don’t do bad stuff because if they get caught they get in trouble. Anyway enough with this aside I’m going to totally meander off topic so let’s get back to it but not before I explore the cons quickly.
The cons: you don’t make friends when you do this. There’s a definite line in the sand. Along with a small amount of respect is this line of disdain. You take a risk when you pick up that phone and tell someone: hey I caught you being a thief. I guess in this case I didn’t pause long enough to weigh the pros and cons – I’m pretty sure I did the right thing…[/learn_more]
THE PHONE CALL
I immediately called because what was done was VERY wrong. Wrong,unethical,shitty…whatever terminology you want to assign to this, it’s applicable. I’ve seen the gamut of what happens in the underbelly of photography. I’ve heard the excuses, the name calling, the dragging stuff through the mud – all of it. So instead of tiptoeing around the issue I went straight to the source. Get ‘er done, as they say.
So I picked up the phone before I could talk myself out of it (and I promise I won’t go into too much detail here) the short of it is that when confronted they did listen, especially when I threw around the terms relating to FEDERAL COPYRIGHT LAWS and PUNISHABLE BY THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW. But then the excuse making happened. ALWAYS with the excuse making:
“I didn’t do it, someone else did it” excuse. Seriously! I could’ve written the script on that one.
Then when confronted with trying to sell my images as their own, I was told: “If it’s any consolation, no one bought them anyway…”
Let me repeat that, my images were stolen AND attempts were being made to resell them as this other photographers and all this person could say to me was: “If it’s any consolation, no one bought them anyway…”
That coupled with the “I didn’t do it, the guy running the slideshow did it and probably didn’t know these weren’t our images” excuse. There’s a script in this industry that when a perp gets caught excuse making is the first thing they go for: “someone else did it, my web designer did it, my assistant did it…” and on and on. Excuse making, we often see this in this industry when someone is caught with their pants around their ankles doing a deed they shouldn’t be doing, coupled with bad attitude. The attitude, the disregard for wrong doing, the lack of apology: none of it looks good on ANYone especially with someone caught red handed. At the very least it can’t be healthy for the soul.
Right? I mean – really people!?!? This is stuff our mama taught us!
You know I’ll be fully honest (why stop now, right?) I’m not fully comfortable with keeping this post up on my blog but at the same time I know that it’s high time that pros like myself who do our best to produce unique, beautiful and quality work speak up against the cheap, the lackluster, the liars, the cheats, the thieves! I know that at this moment I’m exhausted of all this ugly tomfoolery and I’ve spent >3 hours typing this, editing this, adding that, re-reading this to stop now. It’s out there. This rant belongs to the world.
I don’t deny that I haven’t been perfect myself. I don’t know anyone who gets their stuff together the first go around and I respect those that pick themselves up after making a mistake and persevering. I 100% get that we’re all a work in progress. I myself am only about 1/4 of the way of getting it right but let’s face it! This is basic stuff. If you’re going to sell an image make sure it belongs to you first (be it your work or someones’ work that you’ve purchased rights to)!! It is basic kindergarten 101.
>>>> Would I have been mad even if I was given an “I’m sorry” “I did wrong” any glimmer of an apology? Probably. But I would also be much more forgiving and less incensed. And I wouldn’t have spent my time for the past few hours writing this post! It’s now o’dark thirty for those keeping track of the time.
THE CALL TO BEING REAL
There is a saying: “better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Let’s be honest, it really is a total crap quote when you’re the one on the short end of that stick! But there is a lesson in that saying if you take the time to pay attention: asking for forgiveness is an act of humility. Humility forces you to learn the lesson! Insulting and blaming and excuse making…that’s not humility. That’s deflection so that mirror that’s turned on you doesn’t reveal the beast within. That’s not growth and it sure as hell isn’t a great way to run a business. I’m glad this person isn’t part of my social circle, I’d be watching my back! Life’s too short for that mess…
I’ll add that I find it interesting that this person in question has dozens of images with celebrities, politicians (high profile people) shown publicly. I’m not saying this is what they’re doing but that this is just my opinion of all that’s wrong with the world around us. It’s like many of us possess this altar to the illusion of success. Theillusion of accomplishment. WHEN DID LIFE BECOME A PR STUNT???? What happened to perfecting your craft (in whatever field you choose)? How about hard work, that whole “nose to the grindstone” thing? What happened to being fair to other people?! These days people worry less about the integrity of their actions and more on the superficial: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO MY IMAGE? HOW CAN I SPIN THIS PR MACHINE??
We are not our IMAGE. We are much more complicated and we are much more human than that. But the focus on the superficial: who I’m seen with, what I drive, where I shop. Those are what define people in this day & age MORE than the quality of ourselves as human beings. How many photography blogs speak to the new photographer and outline what designer wear they’re donning to shoot weddings. I mean this is a symptom of a much grander problem.
And a damn shame.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
I also find it interesting that a lot of my and this photogs’ mutual friends on a popular social network are respected leaders in this industry. FASCINATING. It begs the question: have we gotten to the point that reality tv and celebrity shenanigans (and the allure of fame) have made us more concerned about IMAGE and the ILLUSION of having skill more important than actually having skill (or integrity for that matter)? I fear that answer, I really really do. I’m not saying the work on the site was awful, some of it was decent but WHY steal another photographer’s work to prop up your own when you have plenty of work of your own to go around?
…and I’m not alone, for I am not the only one fed up with the status quo in this industry. I’ve worked hard, I’ve hustled! And I know for a fact that many of us are fed up. It really is time we (the hardworking hustlers not the hustling fakers) stop allowing the image thieves, the undercutting non professionals, the lackluster producers who claim they’re well seasoned working pros polluting our industry with their not-so-truthful-ways, all those with questionable tactics or lack of actual client experience teaching those who don’t know any better. This is a rant about image theft but it goes so far beyond that. It goes into owning it, whatever “it” is. Not faking life, not faking photography. Owning where you are and setting your feet on the path that leads you to a full life, a life filled with truth and honor. To hell with all these questionable tactics!! The direction we’re headed is cut throat, soul sucking vampirism!
I’m tired of clients getting ripped off by supposed professionals
I’m tired of the allure of cheap services taking precedence over skill, talent, knowledge, top of the line equipment and beautiful, heirloom end quality photographic products
I’m tired of other photographers (many who are new and don’t know any better) and clients getting ripped off by “pros” in my industry.
All these things overshadow those of us with skill, business sense, business integrity and know how. It affects the world!
It’s heartbreaking to watch such an amazing profession eat itself alive. I wonder if less of us stood silent, for obvious fear of potential PR backlash to our brands or retribution, and more of us spoke up if we’d be where we are today: fighting to keep an industry alive that seems hell bent on devouring itself.
If you’ve made it this far thank you. If not, I completely understand. Now it’s time to get back to my regularly scheduled inner peace. Maybe do some face yoga. Yeah, that’s a thing. Maybe it’ll get rid of my frown lines that I developed in the last 12 hours…
I met A and her parents this past fall for a beautiful (sort of chilly) fall session. I enjoyed meeting her and her beautiful parents. Here is a retroactive peek at their session one of the gorgeous McHenry forest preserves. Thank you to A’s gorgeous parents for having me out to photograph their stunning family.
Our mini session experience is a GREAT way to commission Marmalade Photography for a session without the commitment of a full session. Perhaps you are in between sessions, looking for a new photographer, looking to have a “taste” of the Marmalade custom photography experience…whatever your need our Spring Mini Sessions are tailored with you in mind!!
To book your beautiful Marmalade Spring Mini Session please click the link to our booking system or click the image above .
While camera phone images are NEVER a substitute for beautiful professional photography taken by a pro photographer who cares about the entire process from beginning to end, let’s face it, there’s no way you can carry me with you everywhere you go! There is an old saying that the best camera is the camera that you have with you at that moment. Photographers everywhere understand that camera ends up being that camera that is attached to your phone since our phones go with us practically everywhere. The trick is getting to know your camera phone and learning some quick & easy tips to take better photos, you may achieve images that are the envy of all your friends!
1. KEEP YOUR CAMERA LENS CLEAN
This is a simple rule. Simply use a soft cloth (nothing abrasive!) to wipe off your camera lens from time to time, it can be the difference between blurry, gross looking images and clear and beautiful images.
2. GET CLOSE
If you are photographing something that has a lot of detail or texture getting close is a good rule to follow:
This image was photographed with the iPhone 4 at a store in beautiful Seaside, Florida. I chose to crop the image square with the cropping tool software on the camera.
Also getting in close helps keep the focus on the subject and not the distracting background elements.
3. USE YOUR CAMERA’S BUILT IN FOCUSING CAPABILITIES
Newer cameras are equipped with automatic focusing abilities but to optimize your photos it’s best to know HOW to focus properly (if your camera allows you to do so)
4. KEEP THE CAMERA STEADY
To reduce blurriness in your photos a simple trick is to keep your camera steady. Doing so is easy: simply put it on a steady surface while you’re photographing, lean your phone or hand on a ledge, wall, tree, pole…I know that sometimes that’s not possible. Another way quick & easy way is to use one hand for focusing and snapping while grabbing the wrist of that hand with your other hand. It will definitely steady the camera and that means happy, not-so-blurry photos.
5. WHEN PHOTOGRAPHING MORE THAN ONE PERSON: BEWARE THE GIANT HEAD
This goes for selfies when you’re photographing someone with yourself or when you’re using the camera on the back of the phone. Subjects closer to the camera appear larger (sometimes WAY larger) than they are in reality. If you run into this you can use a blur tool in most editing apps to make the image seems less GIANT HEAD like.
The photo above was edited to make Thumper’s head much less prominent and GIANT HEAD like.
6. BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR SHOOTING ANGLES!
Photography is always fun! It should also be interesting to the viewer. When you shoot from an angle other than the standard “I’m standing in front of you, smile while I snap your pic” angle it creates a more dynamic image. Dynamic = good.
Shoot from slightly above or totally above or from below or from a dog’s eye view
7. MOST OF ALL: BE CREATIVE
Using all the tips above helps you create nice photos. Being creative is a whole different ballgame and requires practice!
Creativity spurs you onward to continue looking for interesting things. Creativity is a journey where there is no end destination. The goal of true creativity is to never have it end, right?
Creativity is great for your self esteem and in the arts (in this case photography) there is never too much creativity. To be creative means to be unique! WE ARE ALL UNIQUE, creativity is simply the expression of that innate uniqueness.
and lastly to achieve your vision:
8. DON’T BE AFRAID TO EDIT YOUR PHOTOS
COMING UP SOON: tips for create better self portraits with your phone’s camera. Come back soon for this next camera phone tutorial installment.