Friday, January 10, 2014

Photography review: Life on Paper by Bri Mason

Since being pregnant with Lily, I've gone through a lot of photographers for various different reasons: price, personality, pictures, I've won some sessions and never continued with them, etc. It took me awhile to finally find and settle on Carrie Adams of Carrie Ann Adams Photography. But, I recently won a contest through Metro Detroit Mommy's Facebook for a photoshoot with Life on Paper by Bri Mason. I love working with Carrie but I also love free photoshoots so I couldn't turn it down! Unfortunately, I couldn't have been more disappointed in our session.

The day started with us driving an hour to a beautiful park in Farmington Hills called Heritage Gardens. It was a gorgeous fall day; the sun was shining and the trees were full of color. The girls were dressed adorably, as would be expected if you know me. My excitement was through the roof. We had a hard time locating Bri because her last shoot was running a little late - which was no big deal. She barely took the time to say hi before shuffling us to our first photo spot. She posed us, quickly taking a couple photos and moving to the next pose. We moved between a few different spots. Again, she quickly posed us and took a few pictures saying if she needed to she would "take it to the clouds". At this point, I was getting a little concerned about the quality of pictures but I had seen her pictures on Facebook and reminded myself that she did a good job and not to worry. During this time I had mentioned to Bri Mason that I had 2 poses in mind: one of us flipping the girls that I had seen on Pinterest and the other was with the girls holding paintings that my friend Lyndsay of Cordial Punch Press had made. I even explained that, since I know a 1 and an almost 4 year old are hard to work with that I didn't expect the best picture and was just hoping to get something. Nevertheless, my request was met with a sigh and an eye roll. After rushing through a couple more poses including the one of the girls I requested we finished up with the picture of us holding the girls and flipping them over. During this time someone called (her husband or her father, I forget which) and she proceeded to take the pictures while on the phone.

Our whole experience lasted around 20 minutes, 30 if I want to be extremely generous. I don't remember her ever calling us by name, just "mom" or "dad" and "girls"/"honey"/etc. At the end, when I asked her when we'd get out pictures she explained that it was her busy season so it would be 4-6 weeks before they would be done. But, she promised that previews would be up on Facebook that night or in the following days. I explained to her (as I did in our email correspondence) that Lily's birthday was coming up and asked her to include a singular picture of her in the preview so that I would have something to hand out at her party. She said that wouldn't be a problem and she'd even email me Lily's photo so that I could print it out in high quality.

I left the park feeling quite disheartened. I wasn't happy that while I was promised a full session, we got what can only be considered a mini session. I wasn't happy that we drove 2 hours round trip for that mini session. I wasn't happy that everything felt rushed. That she never took the time to commit our names to even short term memory. That may not mean much to some people, but it did to me. I wasn't happy that everything seemed so rushed. I wasn't happy that there were so many beautiful places to take pictures and we missed a lot of them. If I had thought to bring my own camera, we would've stayed so that I could've at least gotten pictures of the girls. There were so many opportunities and while I don't expect to visit each of them, I believe if we had gotten our full session we could've done at least a couple. I've worked with photographers so I was more understanding of the wait time to get the pictures. However, I did note that I got married in the fall and it only took about 6 weeks to get my proofs back.

In any case, I went home and anxiously awaited my fears to be dissolved with the beautiful pictures that she took. A day went by and no previews. Two days. A week. Four weeks later, just a few days before Lily's birthday party, I emailed her reminding her about wanting to have a picture for Lily's party. She did respond quickly with the picture and a release to have them printed. All the while, she's booking session upon session every weekend. Two weeks or so later (6 weeks after our initial photo shoot), she was booking sessions for the following weekend. Someone asked about her turn around time and she said 1 week. I commented that it was surprising because we had been waiting for 6 weeks. She deleted my comment and sent me an email (that I viewed to be passive aggressive but things translate differently when written) that ultimately informed me that I had 1 person in front of me. Two days later I finally got the link to our photo gallery.

Ultimately, pictures are nice. Frame-able but not noteworthy. I do feel that had she taken the extra time that it would take to get good ones then I would be happier. Or, if she had taken the extra time and it didn't work, I would not be writing this blog. I take pictures of the girls. I know how hard it can be to get good pictures of them. I know if you take too many, they lose interest. They're not models and I don't expect them to be or pictures of them to be model quality. But, I also know that you can get good pictures of them if you take the time and don't just assume you're going to be able to switch heads for every picture.

Overall, I had a very bad experience with Life on Paper by Bri Mason. I don't know if this is how she always is. She may have only acted like this because we won the photo shoot or because she realized we lived so far away and probably wouldn't pay for another session with her. But, that to me is no excuse for the lack of professionalism I experienced in my short time with her. On top of that, I truly feel that her actions reflected that she's only interested in quantity (read: money) instead of quality.

I could not and would not in good conscious recommend Life on Paper by Bri Mason to anyone. In fact, I would urge people to look elsewhere when considering a photographer.