Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's Just BUSINESS!!!

EXCELLENCE is our way of business. We will always assert excellence as well as the upmost professionalism in our conduct, our business, and our services. Even though we've been in business successfully for over 7 years, we are still growing, learning, & evolving. Believe it or not, things still happen that catch us off guard, take the wind out of our sail, or even some things that happen just to remind us to stay humble, yet hungry. We have to remember that Above All has a standard to uphold as well as a brand to protect, so there are some things that we aren't going to do just to get money. However, there are some pro photographers who will do anything, promise anything, freely photograph anything, and even attempt to defame (slander) another pro photographer's name or business just to get business (coins, if you will). If that's their way, cool: let them get their hustle on. But don't HATE on us because that's not the way we operate. We believe we have what's called, INTEGRITY. After all, we are ABOVE ALL. We believe that God sends us who He wants us to have as clients. It's our namesake - paraphrased from Eph. 3:20, "He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, ABOVE ALL anything we could ever ask for or think." We don't think that we are ABOVE ALL anyone in an arrogant sense, but our GOD is and He thinks we are to die for. We believe and have often said that the only competition we have is the photographers we were yesterday. Keep studying and growing!!! Our work speaks for itself, but every now and then we toot our on horn by saying & proving that WE ARE the BEST photographers in this area!!! TRUST!!! Even though we believe in building customer/client loyalty, we understand that consumers have choices. If they choose to go elsewhere, BRAVO!!! They can because it's their prerogative and could possibly be that client who may have came but wasn't sent - problem avoided, thank GOD!!! We've also had some clients come to us from other photographers - more blessings!!! Thank You JESUS!!! Either way, God gets the Glory!!! So, at the end of the day, for us, it's just BUSINESS!!! Don't take it personal!!! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Senior Expressions F.A.Q.

When should we get the ball rolling for my senior portraits and invitations?
As soon as possible. Remember, everything is scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Lots of my friends are coming to you.

Won’t my senior pictures look just like theirs?
Absolutely not! We treat you like the unique individual that you are, and photograph you that way. Every senior session is individually designed to create images that show not just what you look like, but who you are. For every high school senior, we create a unique set of images appropriate to them. Not just a duplicate of the last person in the door. Take a look at the Senior Expressions galleries on our client website,

How do you custom-design my Senior Expressions portrait session and my photographs?
Before we ever put you in front of a camera, we invest the time to get you know you as an individual. You’ll never be “just our next client.” Our senior portrait consultations take between thirty minutes to an hour and we do this before we even schedule your session. As we talk, we get to know each other pretty well. We get to know who you are, what you’re all about, what makes you tick, how you see yourself, where you want to go in life, your passions and your interests – all those things that make you the unique person that you are. You’ll also get to know us, so that when we start to work together, you’ll be way more comfortable than if you’d just met me at the beginning of the session.

During our consultations, we are learning your expressions, your body language, and your gestures. In other words, we are learning about your personality, constructing a concept, and getting ideas as to how make sure we capture the essence of you that will make your friends and family say “THEY’VE GOT YOU DOWN TO A SCIENCE” when they see your photographs.

Then, together, we take that information and develop an entire concept for your Senior Expressions portrait session. We custom design your individual session. We make decisions on what we’re going to do, where we’re going to do it, we even discuss ideas on what you are going wear. We’ll built our reputation on being trendsetters and therefore it’s our goal to make sure your unique and individual session will contribute to our reputation and expose you as a trendsetter as well.

Why do you do this? I see other websites where every photograph looks pretty much the same.
So, the way we look at it, our consultations and Senior Expressions concepts is another thing that sets us apart for the other photographers. We are very creative and love to use our imaginations to create the unique photographs that are never boring. We love the challenge of allowing each person to express who they really are in a way that’s appropriate for them. Your senior year is an important milestone in your life and you deserve a senior session that marks such an exciting time in your life.

If I come in for a Senior Expression consultation, am I committed to being photographed by you?
Not at all! The consultation is merely an opportunity for you to check us out and to see if we’re the right photographers for you. However, most of people who comes to consult with us end up scheduling an appointment, because they are excited about what we can do for them, but that decision is entirely up to you. If we are the right photographers for you, you’ll know it.

There are over 3,000 graduating seniors every year in our area. We will only photograph about 120 of them, by choice. We try to get you guys to book as early as possible to guarantee your spot with us. We try not to stretch ourselves to thin because we believe in quality over quantity. We want quality time with each one of our clients, so we do not run people through a production line.

We just appreciate you taking the time to learn about what we do, and giving us the opportunity to get to know you.

Sounds good, but you must be expensive, right?
It is important to remember that you are getting for what you pay. Capturing the photograph is only the beginning. The other half the creative work is done afterwards and honestly, others cannot do what Above All Expressions can nor do they have the skills that we have.

You can definitely find cheaper alternatives if you want save a few dollars. But by saving a few dollars, are you willing to risk getting portraits that leave you less than excited? We don’t believe you would because no one wants to feel like they've wasted money.

We believe that we, Above All Expressions Photography and Designs, are the best at what we do. We are trendsetters and we want you to express yourself as a trendsetter too. You are young, fly, and unique. So, you need a pro photographer who understands how to capture the essence of you.

However, everyone with a camera is a photographer these day. But owning a camera doesn't mean that you understand the most flattering ways to photograph the human face, nor does it mean that you understand the subtleties or working with light. It doesn't mean that you understand the psychology of getting people to feel relaxed and looking natural in front of the camera, and it doesn't mean that you know how to give someone an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. We are experienced and know how to do all of those things.

What can I expect to spend on my senior pictures?
Our prices start at $125. We offer 45 minute, 90 minute, 2 ½ hour and 4 hour sessions – as well as one we call “My Senior Year Life” for which the senior is photographed throughout the year. Session fees range from $50 to $125. Regardless of whether you select the 45-minute session or the 4 hour session, you’ll still get the same consultation, the same individual approach, the same custom session, and great photographs. It’s just with the longer sessions you’ll get more variety, more locations, more poses, more outfits to choose from. Last year, including our longer sessions, our typical customer spent somewhere between $350 and $800, and it’s pretty easy to get everything you need in that range.

What kind of Packages do you offer? 
We offer six different packages, ranging from $125 to $530. But, we know that our packages do not fit everyone. So, we allow you to custom design your own combinations, and order exactly what you need or want.

How many clothing changes will I get?
There are set number of clothing changes for each package or sessions. Remember, you are renting us for a block of time, and we create beautiful photographs during that period of time. So, there are some practical limitations for clothing changes based on that time.

How many poses do you take?
Again, there is no set number. However, we try to limit the number to no more than 20 to 30 shots per outfit. But, it’s whatever we can accomplish given the length of time you've chosen, and how we've designed your session. Just to be honest, most of our clients have a difficult time narrowing down their choices because there are so many.

Can I split a session?
Absolutely! We get this request a lot. Half with curly hair or half with straight. Save an hour for our beach trip, and do the rest here in the area. Maybe part the summer before senior year and part with the fall colors, or even the spring look next year. To split a session, you’ll normally need the 2 ½ hours or 4 hours session, although there’s been a few times where we've split a 90 minute.

Road Trip or Beach Trip? How does that work?
Several times a year, we schedule a full day or even a full weekend at the beach or in H-town. We meet you there, and photograph you on the beach or in H-town, typically for an hour. We've found a couple of fantastic beaches and locations that offers just about everything. Usually, the road or beach trip is part of a split session. If you’re interested, just let us know at your consultation.

This all sounds great, but what if I’m still not sure?
Meet with us for a consultation. You’re under no obligation whatsoever, and the decision is entirely yours. We’ll show you what we do and how we do it, we’ll talk about the possibilities for your session, and we’ll go through the various session options, and pricing. Then you can go home and talk it over. If you decide to schedule a session, you can just give us call  and we will shoot you an invoice to pay your session fee.

Ok, I’m interested. What do I do now?
Just call us at 409-749.4534 and schedule your consultation. They take about thirty minutes to an hour. You've got nothing to lose, and as we've said before, there’s no obligation, and no pressure – just a friendly conversation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If it don't make MONEY, then it don't make SENSE!!!

OWN Fall Sneak Peek: Sweetie Pie's

Today is "Talk About It" Tuesday at Above All Photography | Above All Expressions. Today's topic: "If it don't make MONEY, then it don't make SENSE!!!" Oftentimes, as business owners, if people know you personally or have developed some kind of rapport with you, it may be easy for them to assume that you are doing them favor. In other words, it may be easy for them to assume that the services you are providing for them is FREE OF CHARGE. When this happens, you've at some point offered a service for them free of charge, agreed to provide a service for them in exchange for EXPOSURE (they're going to tell everybody about you), or they may be family or friends. Whatever the case may be, you, as the business owner, need to establish that you are in business. You are in business to make money. If it were not so, you would not have gone into business, and you would have stayed doing the exact thing voluntarily. Young photographers and other business owners often ask us how have we managed to stay in business for all this time (it will be 7 years on 12/5/2012) and our answer is simple. We treat our business like a business not a hobby. We are also asked how we stay as "Sought After Photographers" with the increased number of new photographers in general and with new photographers appearing on social media everyday? We are asked if we are concerned about the increased competition? Our answers are simple: (1) We don't tell all of our secrets and that's how we stay sought after. (2) New photographers on social media can sometimes be inspirational because we all have different styles. (3) Although we are mindful of the increase competition, we don't focus on it at all. We stay focused on our business and our brand. In the famous words of Ms. Robbie, "If it don't make MONEY, then it don't make SENSE!!!"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10 Things We Often Hear as Pro Photographers

This is a list of ten things we often hear as professional photographers that merely highlights the less attractive side of being a professional photographer. As a professional photographer, you will face some situations where a person may attempt to violate your rights as a professional photographer, so you should know your rights. There is also the possibility that you have heard some of these quotes before or you will most likely hear them in the not so distant future at some point during your career as a pro photographer.

(1) “You’re not allowed to take photos here…”
Here is where you need to know your rights as a professional photographer. We don’t tend to take photos where we’re not supposed to, so the last thing you want to hear from a bystander is that you can’t. If you’re on public property, you can take photos of both public and private property in the United States of America. As long as you are standing on a public property, you can take a photo of most (not all) things, and there’s nothing that the owners of the private property can do.

This goes for taking photos of people too. Whether they are members of the public or persons of the law, the actual capturing of the photograph is perfectly legal. What you then decide to do with these photos will have different implications. So, in that aspect, be mindful of how you use the photographs.

(2) “Hey, take my photo!”
Truth be told, there are two problems with this request: (1) It means we are going to have to either delete the photo, or share it with the person that’s in the photo. (2) It means that we usually have to stop what we’re doing and focus on something else.

(3) “Can you send me that?”
Remember the cost associated with creating a photograph. If you’re a professional photographer, then you should not be afraid to ask for money. If someone really wants a photograph that you’ve captured, then they will accept whatever you’re charging and won’t be offended (some even expect it), so don’t be afraid to ask. Selling a photo is a great way to stay in business.

(4) “I’ve got an idea for a photo…”
No one likes to be told how to do their job. Point blank period. But, we do play around with and welcome concept ideas.

(5) “Can I have all the reject photos too please?”
There are reasons why certain photos don’t make the cut. It could be a simple as they were not good enough, or they were duplicates of what we had already taken. The portfolio of our work is only as strong as the weakest photo, so we do not include deleted photos. If we did, we would be bringing down the overall quality of our work by sharing them with you. Trust the photographer when they say that you do not want those photos, because the ones you do get will be much better.

(6) “I hate having my photo taken.”
If you’re at event where there’s a photographer, there’s a good chance your photo is going to be taken. You can try to avoid the camera, but it much simpler just to go up to the photographer and ask them not to photograph you. Chances are, you are going to end up in a few photographs anyway, but your request will be duly noted.  If a client says that they want everyone one at the event at the event captured at some point, then that’s what they’re going to get.

(7) “You must have a great camera.”
Sure, in addition to skill, creativity, and training. You’ve never heard anyone tell a restaurant that serves exquisite food that you guys must really have a great stove. More often than not, the people tend to complement the chef. It is the chef (or the cook) whose talent is recognized. Why can the same be true for professional photographers? I’m just asking.

(8) “Can you Photoshop that?”
For whatever reason or another, people seem to think that photographers can work magic with Photoshop. Anyone who actually uses Photoshop knows it’s not as easy. Truth be told, it is nothing more than just extra work for us especially when we were getting it right in the camera in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, one or two small thing isn’t a problem, but when it’s multiple things, and on every photo, then it starts to cross the line between photographer and retoucher. Extensive retouching requires additional cost.  

(9) “Do you mind bringing your camera?”
”Do you mind bringing or are you going to bring your camera?” is usually and essentially codeword from someone who wants a professional photographer, but don’t want to pay for one. Most of the time we don’t mind bringing our cameras, but there are times where we want to be able to relax and not have to pay attention to what we are doing.

(10) “When are these going to be on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?”
“Are you going to post these to Facebook?” “When are they going to be on Instagram?” “Can I get a ‘Sneak Peek’ on Twitter?” People tend to ask this because everyone wants to see their photos while they are still relevant. Although, we do share our photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on our business Fan pages, we often share watermarked images with a link to drive traffic back to our website where there is a possibility that someone will purchase the image. The social networks do not keep us in business, our clients do.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


On any given day, you can walk into the Botanical Gardens (Tyrell Park) of Beaumont, Texas and spot dozen of photography enthusiasts everywhere. With the onset of digital photography, you can find anyone to pose as a photographer and they can use just about any camera. Their selection may include a DSLR, a point and shoot, or even a camera phone. Trust, if something is going down, you better believe that a camera is there in one form or another to document the moment. With that being said, these questions presented themselves to me:

If anyone can be a pro photographer these days, what makes me, Above All Expressions, so different?
Here is my answer: Photography for us is about capturing all of the human aspects and values of life. We are visual storytellers who love to have fun. We capture all of the playful, funny, emotional, romantic, magical, unexpectant,and precious moments of how we live. We capture life. God has blessed us with a unique gift and the creative talent to make time stand still for a brief moment to answer who, what, when, where, why, and how of life. God has given us, as photographers, the ability to see things as He sees them and He has given us the opportunity to capture and share those moments that take place in all of our lives.

We capture your reactions: what makes you happy, what makes you laugh, what makes you anxious, what makes you excited, and what makes you love. We, then, extend this concept to create a photograph which is purely from your point of view. It is all about you, your emotions, and your ideas. We capture the true essence of you, your personality, your milestones, and all the special moments of your lives. We visually tell your story from the moments you create. We visually initiate a conversation with every viewer of our work. But the conversation is not about us, it about you, our client. It’s a story about your life at a specific moment of time. Each photograph visually expresses something BIG that has, that is happening, or is going to happen. We capture you in the midst of your destiny. Each photograph is a connection to the reality of a brief moment of something meaningful. Each photograph creates a time period in history that causes one to reminiscence.

What makes us stand out from other photographers?
The answer is simple. IT’S OUR GIFT and what an awesome gift it is, might I add!!! Photography is my passion. I believe God gives me the perception, interpretation, and execution to make a photograph by telling me where to stand, what to see, and when to click the shutter. Our creativity, our uniqueness, our quality, the  value of products and our professionalism sets us apart as well.

What makes you a professional photographer? Is it just the beautiful pictures you take?
Actually, what makes me a professional photographer is our true ability to do what camera’s can’t do…take your realistic ideas and produce creative images that incorporate the essence of your moment that gives the photograph a unique value. Although anyone can be a photographer, not everyone has knowledge about photography. This is what separates us from amateurs. The newest photography enthusiast may have some understanding about shutter speeds, apertures, composition, and timing, but they do not know how to use those aspects and to what extent to use them. This is where experience becomes a determining factor in your choice when choosing a photographer. Being a professional photographer does not mean that we just have the most advanced technology or the best equipment, but it does mean that we have the knowledge and understanding to utilize the expansiveness of such gear in different photographic arenas that gives us our competitive edge and our earned identity as professional photographers.   

A Faith Note from Above All Expressions

Above All Faith-Note J
Have you ever just followed the inkling of God? Have you ever just placed all of your trust in Him and did something totally against the reasoning of what man said you should do or would do if they were in your shoes? Well, that’s exactly what I did two years ago, when I quit my teaching job to open my photography business full-time and pursue all that God had purposed in my life. Long story short, all of my life I had always strived to please others by doing what they thought I should do, doing what they thought was best for me, or by doing what they thought was right. However, I have learned from experience that just because something is good doesn’t mean it is God’s plan for your life.

My passion was never teaching at-risk students even though I was good at it. There were too many limitations there. Trust me, I tried to stay anyway. But God said “No.” God closed that door and directed me straight into my destiny. When I chose just to believe God, and to be obedient to Him, God ignited my true passion and enlarged my territory. Then, plenty of obstacles came. Anytime God places a dream in your heart and you start pursuing it, you can rest assure that critics will criticizes, haters will hate, and naysayers will show up. However, I didn’t get distracted. I chose to focus on God and follow all that He had placed in my heart.

I stepped out on faith and God has favored me and is helping me every step of the way. The Word tells us not to despise humble (small) beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin (Zech. 4:10). This is not a side hustle nor has it ever been a hustle at all for me. If that was the case, I would have never walked away from a teaching job paying me over $40,000 per year to pursue photography as a career. The truth is I BELIEVE GOD. God said leave and I left. God said He gives me power in my own hand to get wealth, so I started my own full-time photography business. God said He would never leave me or forsake me, so I believe that God is faithful to strengthen me to do the work, faithful to send new and recurring clients, faithful to send workers if I need them, faithful to help me overcome any setbacks from the enemy, faithful to encourage me by His Spirit and His Word, faithful to provide all of my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, and faithful to lead me to victory as long as I do my part. I BELIEVE GOD!!!   God is able to do exceedingly abundantly ABOVE ALL we could every ask or think according to the power that worketh in us (Eph. 3:20)!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!!! {Client Appreciation}

Hello Clients, here is your chance to get all of the images from any of the sessions you have had with us for the low price of $65.00. The Photo CD will include all images from your session with a limited copyright release for unlimited prints and personal use. This includes all sessions and of course all of the sports images. This is for a limited time only, so contact us soon to take advantage of this sale. Happy 4th of July!!!