I'm not sure if people realize that when they work with a photographer, they're supporting several other small (and large) businesses at the same time. Often that goes way beyond the professional print lab the photographer works with. And I am so grateful to have found the following business partners for my curated set of physical products (and services) that I offer my clients. It took a lot of time (like, 4 years!). I tried almost everything that's available out there. And I was extremely selective, picky, and particular about the smallest details. Because this stuff, the stuff that ends up going home with my clients, is pretty damn important.
Every photograph I present to my clients is nested in a white gallery mat from Finao. These are pretty much the best mats money can buy. They keep photographs safe by allowing friends and family to hold and view the image without touching the actual print. In terms of longevity, they are also 100% rag, acid and lignin free, which means nothing will degrade the print in the long term. But aside from all that, photos just look better in a beautiful white mat! The presentation elevates the photograph, and I love being able to offer a product that can be displayed without any extra effort (seriously, you can just put one of these on your mantel and you're done!).
Cypress Fine Albums makes gorgeous albums and presentation boxes, mostly for wedding photographers. And I feel that family photos deserve something truly special, too! What really impressed me with their products is the attention to detail and the artistry of the process. The glues that a lot of companies use tend to smell, or their products will start coming apart in a couple of years.. but not these! I personally have a box from them to keep photographs for my boys safe and sound until they're old enough to receive it as a keepsake.
I love the warm linen texture of the fabric, the silky ribbon that effortlessly lifts the photos, and the magnetic closure which means the pretty bow will always stay that way. These presentation boxes are true heirlooms, to be passed down when time comes, and to be beautifully displayed like you would an album or a center piece in the home, in the meanwhile. Yes, they're expensive, but my clients deserve nothing less.. and I absolutely love seeing them on display when I visit my families (and yes, they're always on display!).
I have a problem with framing options professional photo labs offer (as in, they're not good enough). Even custom-framing, which is super expensive, isn't perfect. I refused to have frames on my product list for years because I couldn't find anything that really stood out.. that was different from what was available at Pottery Barn. I wanted frames that I could be excited about, and I wanted them to be perfect not just in the construction but also in design.
That's not an easy bill to fit. But when I found Saw & Mitre, I literally held my breath as I reviewed their heirloom frame collection images online. 8-ply mat. Shatter-resistant acrylic instead of glass (which, by the way, is pretty important if you have kids). Natural walnut frames that look like pieces of art themselves. Hand-crafted, with a fifty-year guarantee.. and made entirely in a Virginia workshop.
And the best part? You can replace the photograph inside. Yes, I realize that sounds completely insane coming from someone who is creating that photograph.. but think about it.. what if you have another child? What are you going to do with that giant wall portrait of the family that's no longer up to date? Or what if your baby grows into a tween and no longer wants that newborn photo of herself hanging on the wall? These frames are an investment that will be relevant and useful for decades.. which is exactly the way museums and galleries do things. And if it's good enough for a museum, well, that's exactly what I want as well!
My shopping bags, tissue paper, and print boxes are all from Design Aglow. It took a long time to find something that was really good in terms of quality and also fit my modern/clean style. There many other photography packaging companies that offer similar products (and I've tried them all), but nothing compares to Design Aglow print boxes! There's just something different about the way they feel when you hold them. They're solid and unyielding, and feel really luxurious for such a simple (and often overlooked) product.. which is probably because they're produced by a fancy French paper company. They're also made from recycled materials by a hydroelectric mill - so they're not totally killing the planet in the process. Best of all, they come in a gorgeous gray, which goes with just about anything!
I love working with small, one-person Etsy sellers for those all-important accessories that you can't get anywhere else. After getting a photo stand with polaroid-sized prints from Artifact Uprising (who, by the way, I recommend to my clients for consumer printing), I wanted to offer something similar for the photographs my clients take home. The problem is, finding a photo stand that is perfect for the 8x10" mats is nearly impossible. I contacted Oxendale Woodworking and asked them to create a custom stand (in solid walnut no less), just for me, which would perfectly display a matted photograph. We actually went back and forth a few times to make sure everything was perfect in terms of sizing ratios and the solid feel of the piece. It was an investment, but nothing beats having a completely custom product to include with my Collections.
Hair styling is a HUGE part of creating a polished-looking portrait. And all of my studio sessions include hair styling at Peggy's Hair Salon. I am so fortunate to have an amazing team of hair stylists right downstairs from my Studio space. Not only are they absolutely wonderful with children, but they also do magical things with hair. Pretty much everyone comments on what a big difference it makes.. and nothing makes me happier than seeing kids jump off that hair-salon chair with a big smile and tell me "My hair looks so pretty!". Yes, yes it does!
A New Canaan children's clothing store isn't exactly a "vendor". Ella & Henry, however, does one very important thing. My clients can go to to the store, get wardrobe styling for their kids on-site, and purchase outfits that photograph perfectly (and are also the style that works best for my sessions). The clothes are imported from Europe, top quality, and super comfortable for little kids and babies. I'm also so excited to photograph their Fall fashion show next month (September 10), which is going to be more fun than you can imagine.
And to show how much I appreciate working with Ella & Henry, I will be including a $100 gift card with every family session this year (session must include a fully-paid Session Fee), from September until the first of January! I want every one of my clients to get a little shopping spree at the store as a gift from me.. and I am so happy to support another wonderful local business at the same time!