I’VE DIVIDED THe questions INTO TWO SECTIONS

Four stages in the photo process, and general photo questions.

Click on any of the photos to jump to that section.

Looking for a specific theme? Click on the keyword.

 
 
 

process

Inquiry to booking

 
 
 
_E7A3258-1.jpg

What are your prices?

My starting portrait prices generally start around $500 and small elopements start around $2700, not including a flat rate travel fee if needed. That includes everything related to the shoot— digital files, shoot, etc. My prices only vary based on time and travel. (Printed products are a separate quote altogether, though.) Send me an email and I’ll let you know a custom quote!

Just a heads up, a portion is due upfront as the deposit, and then the rest is due a month before the shoot.

 

Do you ever offer discounts or run special deals?

I’m sorry to say, no, I don’t. Discounts mean one of two things — either I’m a big enough company for a sale not to impact me, or I’m overcharging when I’m not running a deal. Neither of those are true. In one sense, I wish I could give more discounts to friends, but I don’t love the idea of putting a price tag (or a discount percentage) on my relationship. My friends are priceless and we do our best to support each other in our respective artistic pursuits.

 

Can you recommend vendors, like HMUA etc for a shoot?

Absolutely! Don’t worry — I don’t recommend anyone for a commission fee. I also don’t recommend you to people because they promised to recommend me. I recommend the people doing the best work and treating their clients the very best (and who are a fit for YOU). If they happen to be my friends, that’s great.

 

Of course! Just send me an email. You can request specific galleries that are already online too. I wish I could post them all here, but then my site would never load.

 

How far in advance should I reach out?

For set dates like elopements, it’s probably good to reach out at least 6 months in advance, though I always encourage you to email however last minute just in case it works! I’m flexible and love a spontaneous plan. For other shoots, any timeline is fine. Generally, winter is slower & summer tends to be busier, but I’ll let you know right away when you reach out if I have your date available.

 

What’s the booking process like?

Reach out to me here through my contact form! We’ll likely quickly skype, and if my offerings are a good fit for what you would like and I have the date free, I will send you the logistics information, like the deposit, contract, intro PDF, etc. You can read much more about my process here.

 

I’m super busy right now. Can we just do the photo session?

I don’t want you to commit to something that would add stress to your life, so it’s important you know in advance that my offerings are designed for someone who has margin in their life to make this a transformative experience. If you’re looking for a touch-and-go process where you can get photos more quickly, I would love to recommend you to someone who has offerings that are a better fit. The way I shoot is built fundamentally on spending face-to-face time with you in advance. (However, if you are visiting NYC from out of town we can totally skype!)

 

I’m interested in a couple shoot, but my partner isn’t super interested. Thoughts?

Although I totally understand if one of you is the planner/coordinator in the relationship, in order to make deeply personal images, I work with couples who are equally interested and invested in the process of making memories together. I won’t be a great fit for you if only one of you is passionate about the value of art & image-making as a whole, and you’re dragging the other one along for the ride (haha).

 
 

process

Shoot preparation

 
 
 
_E7A8043-1.jpg

What should we wear?!

I have a few things I recommend, though it’s definitely up to you! Generally, I try to stick to these guidelines (and you’ll get a more detailed PDF after you book):

Emotional and physical comfort

Do you feel self-conscious or does it pinch? Ditch it! You will want to be 100% in the moment.

Neutrals

They’ll blend in better with natural moments, and they transcend time. Neons especially don’t photograph well.

Simplicity

No patterns, words, etc. They draw your eye away from what is happening in the photo! I know this is tough with kids, so I understand if they have a meltdown because they need to wear their favorite shirt. Totally ok.

Authenticity

Nothing you wear now can be perfectly timeless. Wear what represents you in THIS time in life. Something being dated in 20 years isn’t a bad thing in my book! Trends come and go, and they’re so fun to look back on. What I want to avoid is a moment 20 years from now where you regret dressing to please others, and not to express yourself.

Make it special

While this looks different for everyone, we all know wearing something special makes you walk with a little more spring in your step. Even if you’re not big on dressing up, think of something just a little elevated from your everyday style, or a piece that has deep personal meaning to you.

 

Should we match outfits?

You definitely don’t have to! I’d even suggest avoiding it because similar colors tend to become a blob in photos. If you stick to 1-3 colors next to each other on the color wheel, you’ll be fine! For example, maybe you choose all warm taupe - like neutrals, or all grey and black and white. If you’re still unsure, I’m more than happy to help you pick something out!

 

Should I deep clean the house before our in-home session?

No, please no! I want to photograph your everyday life. So if you truly steam clean your carpets every month, by all means do it—otherwise, follow your regular routine. I just have one request: think of all the places with windows since we’ll be shooting there. If you can just clear out any unnecessary cords, leftover Christmas decor, and things like that before I come, that would be helpful since they tend to be visually distracting. But please don’t stress about the dust! It’s totally fine.

 

Can you give us some ideas on where we could shoot?

For in-home shoots

So that we have the most time to shoot, I usually recommend we stick to your favorite neighborhood places. We’ll start in your home, and if the weather is nice, head outside to the park / a little cafe nearby.

For couples outside the home

Where do you spend the most time together? Have you had a special first date somewhere? If it’s inside a restaurant, do they have any good outdoor spaces? Is there a neighborhood with significance to you where we can shoot on the street?

For both types of shoots

I usually recommend having about 5-6 location ideas ready to discuss with me, and together we can settle on the best 2-3. I don’t recommend anything that requires hopping on a train if you’re trying to keep costs low, but I’m up for it if you are, and are willing to book a longer shoot! Also, as much as possible, I’d recommend you choose locations that aren’t overrun with tourists, or we’ll have to shoot at the crack of dawn to avoid them!

 

My kids hate photos. I’m not sure they’ll last…

Don’t stress — I have yet to meet a kid who loves them! (My 7 nieces and nephews would agree.) Depending on the age, we will spend time planning a timeline and map of spaces they’ll love to keep them distracted on what you are doing together, whether that’s baking cookies as a family, eating a meal, going to a playground, or taking a walk. And, I’m basically a 5 year-old inside, so I will befriend them in no time! (That said, I don’t shoot newborns since I am really more of an inner toddler, but I’d love to get photos of your family once the babies start to crawl/walk!)

 

Will you help us make a timeline for our shoot?

Of course! I’ve done it many times and would love to make sure we have enough time for all the photos. I can’t function as a complete planner since that is not my primary expertise (and happily refer you to month-of and day-of coordinators!), but I’m definitely your gal for any sort of photo planning needs.

 

How can we support you during the shoot?

The biggest thing you can do is trust me while I’m shooting and let me get into my art-making headspace! I try to set up everything I can ahead of time (i.e. location scouting) but then the day of, I have to go with the flow of the day. It’s an all-consuming process of needing to stay present while thinking one step ahead, both in how the sunlight changes and the way you are interacting with the camera. I cannot fully enter my best creative mindset if I’m sensing you’re unsure about what we are doing. That’s why I only work with those who truly believe in my work, not just with their words but with their heart.

 
 
 
 

process

The shoot

 
 
 
_E7A3344-1.jpg

What time of day do you shoot?

I’m sure you’ve heard of golden hour - that time before and after the sun rises & sets! Those times are the best. However, it’s good for me to get a good idea of where we are shooting first — if you’re on the top floor of your brownstone in a residential neighborhood, we’ll get those long sun rays a lot longer than on a first-floor apartment between skyscrapers.

 

Do you pose couples and families, or just let things naturally unfold?

I believe in a thoughtfully informed, intuitively-guided process that falls somewhere in the middle. I know every photographer these days says they capture unscripted moments, so I want to add a little more nuance. In order to capture your most natural, authentic self, we have to get past the nerves and weirdness that comes with being in front of a lens. That is why I don’t just let things happen without interference. However, you also have specific ways of relating to the world that I cannot capture without uninterrupted time. My approach is to create an environment of deep presence in the moment where you forget you’re being photographed, while guiding you into different physical and emotional spaces throughout the shoot—so you can make new memories you may not otherwise on an average Saturday.

(One important note: I don’t believe in leading you into unnatural moments just to get dramatic shots for my portfolio, which is where the getting-to-know-you part comes in. I have a few different ways to do that which change based on who I’m shooting, and together we can learn how to make it work.)

Don’t worry — I’m an extrovert and could talk to a dustpan (so there won’t be weird silences) and I absolutely respect any boundaries you have with me as well! We alternate between private moments where I can’t hear you talking at all, and conversation with everyone.

 

Can I give you a shot list?

For elopements/vow renewals:

We will typically cover all the unique photos you’d like way in advance so that I can get a sense of your vision, but it’s not as strict as a 4-page shot list. (After shooting a few already, I have a sense of the basics that need to be shot every time.) That said, I do check at select breaks throughout the day to make sure I’ve captured specific requests just as a backup. I shoot vow renewals & elopements because my photographic style lends itself much better to an intimate, free flowing event than a large production that would require a more detailed shot list.

For families/anniversaries/couples:

I would love to hear your favorite locations in the city, any special items in your family/household, a few specific things you love to do that you’d like captured, and the things that make you YOU. Beyond that, I don’t use detailed shot lists because they detract from the environment of organic, unscripted moments I try to create. It’s also nearly impossible to make truly custom work if we are all focused on shooting one specific frame after another.

 

Can you replicate photos from my Pinterest board?

No, unfortunately I do not. I want to respect the original creator’s work, and my clients hire me for my eye — not for my ability to copy someone else’s (I’d be a little expensive if that’s all I did, to be honest). If you’re a fellow creative and want to send me a more general mood board of the entire shoot, please feel more than free to do that! I love making them myself. And if you’re getting married, please show me all of your boards — I make an exception for that because I know it’s your big day and you may want specific angles of your dress, decor, etc. We spend time going through these ideas far in advance so that the day of I’m not directly copying them.

 

In what artistic or visual style do you shoot?

When I’m shooting (beyond the emotional/intuitive component) I look for my favorite visual elements I learned in art school: texture, movement, visual depth, leading / horizon lines, rhythm, engaging and thoughtful compositions, and the interaction between highlights and shadows. I am not typically a minimalist, ‘clean cut’ photographer and try to use all pieces of your surroundings to tell your story in an unreplicable way. I would describe my work using language that encompasses the soulful/intuitive and artistic/design components with equal weight. While I know there’s a movement in photography toward either very light/airy work or dark/moody work, I don’t fit perfectly in either camp, though I definitely tend toward more soulful, cinematic imagery. In the end, I want each image to encompass the tension and depth of nuanced human experiences. When you see my photographs, I want you to (sorry for the cliches) feel time stop just for a second, and completely grounded in the present moment and alive to the senses around you.  (And more grateful for your inner circle.) Then I know I’ve done my job.

 

Do you shoot any formal portraits at all, if you are a documentary photographer?

Yes of course! I always say we are getting a shot for Grandma. These photos are so often the ones passed to family members and printed. I know how important they are!

 
 
 
 

process

After your shoot

 
 
 
DSCF5171-1.jpg

Can you tell me a specific number of images I’ll get with the session?

This question is so hard to answer with precision. It completely depends on the shoot. Small moving children, for instance, may require almost nonstop shooting, even though many are duplicate in-between shots we don’t need later. However, since I do not have different packages that charge for digital files, you can rest assured you’ll get the most possible beautiful shots.

 

Do you retouch photographs?

I take a minimal retouching approach and generally shoot with non-permanent distractions out of the frame. When they are distracting, I will remove them. I already have to grapple with the myth of photographic truth, and unless I were a photographer creating obviously fantastical images, I steer clear of retouching for perfection at all times. (I don’t even love it for my fashion work.) I also don’t believe conventionally beautiful bodies have more value than those that aren’t, and so I will never make your photos look different than who you really are. I try to work with people who’ve put in significant work to love their own skin enough to want the real them (not a fake version who hasn’t been through the same fires).


Here’s a personal anecdote so you know I have some skin in the game. I tested this out when I hired one of my favorite photographers, Michelle Gardella, for a River Story. When I got the images back, I could hardly believe it was me!! I had followed her imagery for so long that it felt totally surreal. When I saw the red spots on my shoulders, and an acne scar on my nose, I recognized me — my full, embodied self with nothing to hide. I thought I would regret forgetting to cover those up, but the opposite was true. The physicality of each of those photographs is what I treasure most. Even though they were on a screen, I felt like I could reach and touch them. And I want that same experience for you.

 

Do you retouch photographs?

I take a minimal retouching approach and generally shoot with non-permanent distractions out of the frame. When they are distracting, I will remove them. I already have to grapple with the myth of photographic truth, and unless I were a photographer creating obviously fantastical images, I steer clear of retouching for perfection at all times. (I don’t even love it for my fashion work.) I also don’t believe conventionally beautiful bodies have more value than those that aren’t, and so I will never make your photos look different than who you really are. I try to work with people who’ve put in significant work to love their own skin enough to want the real them (not a fake version who hasn’t been through the same fires).


Here’s a personal anecdote so you know I have some skin in the game. I tested this out when I hired one of my favorite photographers, Michelle Gardella, for a River Story. When I got the images back, I could hardly believe it was me!! I had followed her imagery for so long that it felt totally surreal. When I saw the red spots on my shoulders, and an acne scar on my nose, I recognized me — my full, embodied self with nothing to hide. I thought I would regret forgetting to cover those up, but the opposite was true. The physicality of each of those photographs is what I treasure most. Even though they were on a screen, I felt like I could reach and touch them. And I want that same experience for you.

 

How do you describe your editing style?

When I edit, I try to keep it as true as possible to the natural environment in which we shot, but with a bit of warm nostalgia and deep shadows. I want the photos to represent how you felt as well as how it looked, while steering clear of both distracting over-saturation (I always watch for unnatural oranges and yellow-greens) and under-saturated trends.

 

Do you send black and white images and color images?

Yes I do! I try to send both options if I send a black and white image. However, it definitely is unique to the shoot. Some images just scream black and white only. Some work equally well in both. Some lack the variation of dark and light to work without color, so I just send the color image. However, if you need a specific print or image for any reason, feel free to reach out and I will send the version you need!

 

How quickly do I get images back?

All portraits take 1-1.5 weeks, with a few fun surprise sneak peeks, and weddings/elopements take 4-5 weeks (with sneak peeks). We can talk about albums after the images are delivered. They have their own timeline depending on what you order.  I don’t take rush orders (even for a higher price) because having around a week to edit is the sweet spot for me. It includes enough space away from the shoot to edit with fresh eyes, without losing the feeling of the day.

 

Once you deliver the images, can we get more or see the outtakes?

When I send a gallery, I spend time going through each photo individually and as a gallery, making sure there are no duplicates or weird in-between shots that could distract from the emotional journey of the shoot. Any images I didn’t send were either irrelevant to the shoot (like testing a new light situation), distracting in-between shots, or duplicates. They take away from the best shots of your time together, so I won’t send them after the gallery delivery. Think of it like a novel — if there was no book editor, you’d never get ‘lost’ in the storyline. I promise you aren’t missing anything! However, if you need a specific crop for a print, or something like that, send me a note detailing the specifics & we can work it out.

 

Do you have backups and RAW images of all of our files?

Yes, of course! I have backups of both the RAW and JPG images on a hard drive and an online cloud backup as well as extra JPG copies in the gallery I send you, which is where you order small prints. I don’t ever send you the RAW files directly, but I keep them in case we ever need to go back to the original to export as a .TIFF for a larger print.

 
 

general questions

About me

 

Note: because I quit posting Instagram stories, and generally am off social media, I have a dedicated page just to getting to know me behind the scenes that you can view here. These are just a few questions about how I shoot.

 
 
 
RJI Portraits FB - 09_black.jpg

What do you shoot with?

I shoot with used Canon - not because I’m a gear expert in any sense, but because I started at 17 with a little Rebel and it was easier to build from there since I was already familiar with the system. I also bring a very small Fujifilm with me (literally) everywhere I go. It’s important to me that I learn to see constantly in my everyday life.

 

How long have you been shooting?

I picked up a point-and-shoot Coolpix when I was about 12, and started shooting with my dad’s Rebel in middle school. When I was 17, I started RJ Imagery (with that same Rebel to be honest!) after shooting seniors so much that friends wanted to pay me (even despite resistance). It’s been full of pivots and ups and downs— if you’d like to read more, I have a page coming soon on the whole story.

 

Do you shoot with flashes, specifically OCF?

I don’t use on- or off-camera flash unless I’m in a dark reception space, although I definitely do for my fashion work (I can send you there if you’d like to see more). That’s why I am constantly moving to where the ‘good light’ is. I only ask you trust me when I ask you to move around during a shoot— the end images are so worth it if you work with the sun, and not against it.

 

Do you have insurance?

Yes, of course! I love the folks at TCP. I can provide proof for a venue/gear rental as well.

 

Where are you based out of? Do you travel?

I just moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and travel anywhere in the 5 boroughs that are reachable by the MTA. I’m half German and have spent a decent amount of my life in planes to visit family, so I’m more than happy to coordinate if you have out-of-state/country plans! While I jump at any chance to fly and would do so constantly if it were possible, I do believe first in supporting the local economy. I will always first try to connect you with vendors who are already living there, unless you already know me and want a friend to shoot you.

 

Do you shoot in your childhood home Wisconsin anymore?

Unfortunately, when I come back to visit, I spend 100% of my time catching up with family and friends and don’t take on paid shoots. If you’re interested in a separate trip back for your shoot, it works just like any other destination shoot where I factor in travel costs (except I subtract the cost of lodging).

 

Are you a person of faith, and does that influence your work?

Yes, I am! But you should know your shoot is about you and your vision above all. I value you no matter your experiences with faith, and I respect any degree to which you choose to disclose that with me.

I shoot because I want to give you the highest dignity possible, knowing each and every person carries the Divine image inside them. If it’s something that is uncomfortable for you for any reason, I respect that (enough to make sure you know in advance). If you’re interested to hear more of my faith journey, feel free to contact me. (Briefly: I grew up Evangelical but have somewhat landed in a more historic, liturgical expression of Christianity, holding faith and doubt with open hands)

 

Do you speak German?

Yes I do! I wasn’t born there, but my mom immigrated here when she was 23 after marrying my father, who was in the Navy. (It’s a wild story...remind me to tell it sometime!) She’s from an hour outside Hamburg, and I spent a lot of time in my grandparents’ farmhouse growing up. I have shot a few German couples visiting NYC for the weekend and would be happy to conduct as much of the business as possible in German if you’re in the same boat :)

 
 
 

general questions

Offerings

 
 
 
29822989-9daa-4eec-9cf8-fc7d8bfa3fbb.jpg

What are your core offerings?

I shoot these two kinds* of photography:

SOUL PORTRAITS

Unscripted, documentary family sessions, primarily in the home.

SOULMATES

Couples, whether that’s anniversaries, vow renewals, or elopements, both in-home and in their favorite locations.

*If I already know you or if we’re an exceptionally great fit, I’d love to talk about shooting your wedding or soulful individual portraits. However, if your wedding has a 50+ guest list, I will likely refer you to a photographer who’s a better fit.

 

What do you NOT shoot?

  1. Newborns alone, like staged photos with props

  2. Mini portrait sessions, esp. for holiday cards

  3. Large extended family portraiture, including family reunions

  4. Large weddings

  5. Seniors (I did earlier, but not anymore)

  6. Boudoir

  7. Maternity alone (it’s totally okay though if you’re pregnant at a family shoot!)

  8. Fashion and musicians / anything in the studio with OCF - I shoot that under a different brand. Inquire if you’d like and I’ll redirect you!

  9. Video work

  10. Headshots, either business or for performing artists

  11. Still life — anything without people

  12. Event (nonprofit banquets, birthday parties, baby showers, etc) photography

  13. Personal branding for other business owners

 

What do you want to shoot more of?

I’m working on building more ‘Golden Years’ shoots with people who’ve spent over a few decades together :) Please please send me all your grandparents/grandparent friends!

 

Why do you not shoot many weddings but love elopements or vow renewals?

After trying a bunch of different corners of the photo world, from senior sessions to nonprofit fundraising events, I realized that my specialty is not in any kind of event work, where you spend a lot of time managing logistics and people in extreme time crunches. At the end of the day, weddings may contain lots of portraits, but they are still events, not a lifestyle portrait session. The kind of slow, intuitive, soul-searching work I really want to make is virtually impossible within a traditional wedding timeline (though there are photographers who have found a way, and I admire them very much!). That’s why I love elopements, where there is enough time to focus on the love you share as a couple (and perhaps with a few of your best friends).

I also found I am way more passionate about the underrepresentation of everyday lived experiences than documenting a once-in-a-lifetime event, especially since so many people already do an amazing job of photographing that. At this point in history, I don’t want to perpetuate the prioritization of superficial romantic love in our media. Personally, I find a Tuesday in December in the life of a family 10 years in to be just as important as the day they started!

Finally, this is not to knock anyone who had a traditional wedding — this is for you if you’re unsatisfied with the wedding industry and are considering something different. I cannot reconcile why I shoot with the wedding industrial complex, especially with its materialism, empty tradition, classism, exclusionary practices, and image-consciousness, to name a few things. Even if done artfully, frugally and sustainably, I find the basic philosophy of the complex too difficult to redeem (props to you if you did). I prefer to celebrate tradition and ritual in the everyday milestones that are unique to you, whether that ends up being an intimate elopement or a dinner with friends. I do absolutely love the unique way weddings bring dear friends together, but the kinds of clients I work with generally try to keep the people they love close even after the wedding day in unconventional ways.

 

Do you shoot LGBTQ+ couples?

Yes, I definitely do! I am also happy to make sure you can connect to inclusive vendors in the area — I’m so, so sorry if you’ve had bad experiences with unclear vendor policies in the past and will do my best to prevent that. While I should be clear I don’t take on many weddings (of any kind), I’d love if you reached out, especially for an anniversary or milestone shoot. Any questions, please feel free to contact me and we will chat.