Here I've put together some of the most common questions that my clients have when booking - I hope you find it helpful! As always, if there's anything I can help with, just Get In Touch. Claire ~ Chinchilla
Where are you based?
I'm based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and work in my specially selected locations in the beautiful countryside of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. My clients come from all over - locally, London areas, the South East and further afield.
My sessions are bespoke and arranged for small family units, so I don't shoot weddings or events, even if they are outside. However, I am able to offer sessions with you wearing your wedding dress at some point after your wedding, or engagement sessions for you and your partner.
Your package price includes your session (roughly 1 hour but we sometimes go over to 1.5 hours), use of props & outfits (if you would like to use them), colour editing and basic retouching, an online proof gallery which remains open for 1 week for you to choose your images, and a set number of digital images (and prints & products for larger packages). It also covers administration and postage & packaging. See Pricing & Packages for details of exactly what's included with each package.
The booking fee is 50% of your chosen package fee, this is payable when booking to secure your session. The remaining 50% for your package is due on session day. Booking fees are non-refundable.
Can i change to a bigger package after my session?
Yes! You'll just pay the difference between the package you booked with and the package that you want to upgrade to. There will be a link to the Client Shop included in your proof gallery, where you can upgrade your package or purchase additional prints, products, giftware & other items. The Client Shop is password protected for clients only - just use your proof gallery password.
why does my session have to start so late in the day?
During Spring, Summer & Autumn the daytime light can be harsh and unforgiving. We shoot around the 'golden hour' for the best light and the most beautiful results - the golden hour is the hour before sunset, although we usually start 2 hours before sunset, to ensure enough time to complete your session before nightfall. In Winter, the sun is lower in the sky and we are able to shoot during the day. See Session Start Times for a guide to when sessions usually start each month.
What happens if it rains on my session day?
We'll move your session if it's raining, usually to the next day or a few days or a week later, depending on when we are both able to reschedule it for.
I'd prefer to have a sunny session - what happens if it's cloudy on my session day?
Cloudy days are ideal for photography, and often produce better results than sunny day sessions, so don't worry about cloud at all. If your location shows open sky, a sunset sky will need to be added in post, even if it's sunny. Reason being, it's impossible to correctly expose for my subjects, and the sky at the same time (secret - every sky in my work has been added in post!)
What is the best time of year for my session?
Ooo, I love them all. It really depends what sort of look or feel you're going for. Many of my clients choose a different time of year for each session, so that they have a rainbow of colours for their growing memories. Have a look at The Season Guide, which shows examples of images taken during each month of the year.
What should we all wear?
The most important thing is that you feel comfortable, and I recommend avoiding very bright or busy colours & patterns. It's also important that yours and your family's clothes sit nicely together. Have a look at the Dressing & Styling Guide.
When will I know the exact location for my session?
Often I won't be able to tell you the exact location for your session until a day or so before your session. This is because the countryside changes so quickly, and I'll have to have a drive around to see what's happening at my various locations close to your session date. But rest assured, your session will be local to the Hertfordshire / Bedfordshire area.
How can you guarantee that a certain flower or colours will be in bloom for my session?
The short answer is - I can't. The most reliable blooms are bluebells (late April- early May), and Lavender (July) - these can be booked with confidence. Rosebay Willowherb (fireweed), a beautiful pink flowering plant which flowers in July is also pretty reliable, but is at the mercy of being cut down by councils etc. Other blooms such as poppies, wildflowers and rapeseed are quite random, or depend on there being public rights of way through fields - they are sometimes available for spring/summer sessions, and sometimes not. Autumn colours are also reliable in late October through November, with deep rich browns in December. Outside of bluebells, lavender and Autumn, your session will make the most of what's available in the countryside at the time.
Can I bring my dog?
Absolutely! Dogs and other pets are welcome to join any session - please let me know so that I can prepare accordingly. There's lots of images of families with their dogs in the Pets And Their People Gallery.
I'm a single parent. Can I bring a friend or relative to help out during my session?
Yes! A trusted friend or relative is very useful for single parent families, as they can assist with gaining smiles from the children and helping to keep everyone in the right place. They can also help you feel more at ease and relaxed for your session, which is just what we want! Just let me know who you plan on bringing along.
Do you have experience working with children with autism or learning difficulties?
Yes, lots! Please don't worry at all and feel free to let me know any special considerations that can help our session go as smoothly as possible.
I'm hard of hearing - do I need to bring a translator to my session?
Not at all! I have experience working with clients who are hard of hearing. All correspondence can be via email, text or whatsapp, and during our session I am able to guide you with gestures, and a pen and paper if necessary. Having said that, if you prefer to have someone with you to translate, by all means bring them along.
What if my children play up during my session?
It happens more often than you'd think! Kids will be kids, and a few tears or a tantrum by no means signals disaster for your session. You will probably be surprised by the results, even if your session didn't go as perfectly as you hoped it would.
My child has a bump / scratch / rash, should I reschedule?
No, generally there's no need to reschedule - I'm able to retouch or fix most issues. To be on the safe side, send me a quick photo of the issue so that I can assess. You can send me a photo via email (email@example.com), the Chinchilla facebook page, or via text or WhatsApp (07722743428).
My child is unhappy without his/her dummy. Can you edit it out?
No, dummies can't be edited out. If your child is heavily dependant on a dummy, please wait to book your session in future when they are able to happily go without it. (Dummies are no problem for newborns however, we simply remove it when Baby has fallen asleep).
WHAT KIND OF EDITING IS INCLUDED WITH MY PACKAGE PRICE?
Each of your chosen images is lovingly hand-edited; first processed from its Raw file, before skin touch-up, colour cast removal, natural teeth whitening, detail enhancement, natural eye enhancement, shadow & highlight correction, removal of any background or foreground distractions, sunset sky editing (if the sky is visible in images) and beautiful, natural colour enhancements. Glowing vintage lamps or magic wands are also included.
No, unedited images and RAW files are not for sale at any time.
How do you make the hot air balloon fly?
This is all done in post-processing, by layering and blending multiple images and creating a composite to give the illusion of levitation - see 1st Birthday & Cake Smash for examples, or check Pricing & Package for pricing for this kind of work.
Additional Family Members / Extended Family Sessions
Can I include extra family members in my session, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc?
Pre-Covid, extended family sessions were not an issue. However, in these new times, only 2 adults are currently permitted per session. This should be yourself and your partner, or if you're free & single like me, feel free to bring along a trusted friend or relative.
You can book your newborn session any time from your 12 week scan. If possible, please book well in advance of Baby's arrival - I don't always have availability short notice.
How old should baby be for their newborn session?
Around 1 week old is best, 2 weeks is acceptable. After this, tiny babies lose their sleepiness and suppleness that is necessary for a newborn session. But fear not, if you have missed the newborn window, you can still have a session with your tiny little one - it's just important to adjust your expectations that the older Baby is, the less likely we are to be able to get sleeping photos, dress Baby in my newborn outfits, pose Baby, or use certain props. After the Newborn phase, the next best window for baby photography is at 6-7 months old, when Baby is able to sit up by themselves. This is an adorable age, followed by 1 year for 1st birthday or cake smash photos.
Why are newborn sessions only available for due-dates between April and September?
Due to the nature of outdoor work, newborn sessions are only available during the warmer part of the year, that's mid April to mid September. You can still have a session with your new baby in the cooler parts of the year, but this will be a family session (with baby well wrapped up in a snow suit or blankets, as if you would for a winter walk in the woods), so not strictly a newborn session.
What if Baby doesn't arrive in time for my newborn session?
No problem at all! The tiny babies have their own agenda. For newborn sessions, your session date is just a provisional date - let me know when Baby arrives and we'll move your session accordingly.
Baby has a rash or marks from delivery - should I reschedule my session?
Generally, no need to reschedule. Most newborns have some kind of marks or rashes, and these can be corrected in post. If there's anything that you're concerned about, send me a photo before your session so that I can assess. You can send me a photo via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Chinchilla facebook page, or via text or WhatsApp (07722743428).
Baby is a few months old, can i still book a newborn session?
A few months isn't an ideal age for photos, because Baby is out of the newborn phase, but not yet able to sit up for photos either. It can certainly be done, but for the best results, I recommend the newborn phase (1-2 weeks old), then the 'sitter' stage when Baby can sit unaided (6-7 months old), and first birthday sessions around 1 year old. Having said that, you can have a session for Baby at any age, it just won't be a newborn session unless Baby is less than a few weeks old and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.
Can I have a session if I've just had a C-section?
Yes, however please let me know if this is the case - I can bring a folding chair for you to sit on while I work and arrange a location that involves very little walking. If you have had a C-section or anything else that might make things difficult for you, it's important that you bring a partner or a trusted friend or relative to your session.
Can I breastfeed during my session?
Yes of course, you can breastfeed during any session, newborn or otherwise. Some women like to have photographs taken of this beautiful act - see the Breastfeeding gallery. Just let me know if you'd like me to take a few photographs.
For health & safety reasons, I ask the client to provide the cake. I'll bring balloons to match! A cake stand can be provided.
Cake smashes are an optional part of birthday sessions.
Are the helium-filled balloons included?
There are fees for sessions using helium balloons, to cover the additional cost of the helium, time taken to inflate and string balloons, and additional time taken to shoot and/or edit a composite image (such as making the hot air balloon appear as if it is flying). Helium balloons are optional, and there is no fee for just one balloon.
Wooden numbers, bunting, cake stands and other props are included in your package price.
Are birthday sessions only for One-Year-Olds?
Not at all! One is certainly the most popular age, but I have had birthday sessions for two and beyond, you can even have a birthday session as an adult!
When should I book my child's birthday session for?
If you will be needing the digital files of your chosen images from your session before your Little One's birthday, I recommend booking for around 11 months old. If you don't need the images in time for their birthday, any time around 1 year is fine.
Will I own the copyright to the images from my session?
Copyright of images, as per the law, remains with myself, the photographer. My clients are granted unlimited print & reproduction permission for personal use, for any digital images that they purchase, or that they chose to be included in their package.
Do I have a say in how the images from my session might be used in future?
Please let me know if anyone is sick, we'll reschedule your session.
Can I reschedule my session for other reasons?
If you are not able to attend your session due to some unforeseen event or emergency, we'll reschedule your session. However, repeatedly requesting to reschedule your session will result in the loss of your booking fee. Not turning up for your session without any advance communication from you will also result in the loss of your booking fee.
Will my booking fee be refunded if I cancel my session?
No - booking fees (or full fees, for mini-sessions) are non-refundable - always reschedule your session where possible.
What happens if I'm late to my session?
Sessions are scheduled at just the right time to get both the best light, and allow enough time for us to complete your session before dusk. Arriving late eats into this time and leaves us with less time for your session - we will do the best with the time that we have. If you think you might be late, please let me know. If you are over 30 minutes late and you have not contacted me to let me know, this will cancel the session and the booking fee will be taken as damages.