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family vacation :: key lime cove resort & six flags great america

waterpark at Key Lime Cove

This wasn’t our first trip to Gurnee, Illinois.  The first took place four years ago and the boys have wanted to go back ever since!


Who am I kidding?  I wanted to go back for the candy counter at the Key Lime Cove Resort alone!  This time… it was right down the hall from our room.  Dangerous.  Very, very dangerous.  Oh and there’s a mini Starbucks on site.  Along with an arcade and several places to dine.

places to eat & drink

And drink.  🙂  What made this trip unique were the friends that decided to join us in the merriment.

friends on vacation

I absolutely love the tropical style of the resort. It is even reflected in the rooms:

chillinkey lime cove selfiesummer vacation

Below are a few more shots taken around the resort:

waterpark collageshooting galleryarcade collagemirror mirrorbathroom collage

The indoor waterpark at the resort has a several killer slides (including the “Toilet Bowl” which I seemed to get stuck in every time), a lazy river, and many other areas we never had a chance to explore. In addition to taking a day at the waterpark, we also purchased discounted tickets to Six Flags Great America through the resort when we booked our trip – which was the highlight for our boys.

six flags of america

[BTW, Tilly snapped the upper left corner ride and full carousel iPhone pics above.]  Key Lime even shuttles you back and forth to Six Flags at no extra cost!

Our friends had to head home before us so we spent our last full day just hanging out as a family at the Gurnee Mills Mall.

Gurnee Mills Mall

Which seemed to have grown substantially since our last visit!

It was a fun, fun trip we are sure to do again… perhaps with even more friends next time.  🙂

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a tropical vacation in the midwest

summer vacation

Just wanted to post a quick update to let you know I’m plugged back in after a quasi tropical vacation. [I’ll be sharing details over the course of the next several days.] If you haven’t yet had a chance to read some of my most recent posts, I want to call attention to a couple of important ones. First, I’ve had three inquiries about the discounted Everyday Sessions I will be following up on today. If you are interested in one of these introductory sessions, there are only a total of five (5) being offered (see detals HERE). You might also be interested in a second post I did related to this type of session format, click HERE to find a couple of links to photographer Tara Whitney’s breathtaking series of images.

I also shared a very detailed post regarding pricing I thought would be insightful to both clients and budding photographers. You will find that post HERE. (Too, I want to apologize for the Father’s Day audio that launches the second that page is opened. You can manually turn it off but I’ll see if I can go in and tweek it behind the scenes so you don’t have to take that extra step yourself.)

Keep your eyes peeled for the return of 5 Fun Things Friday later today!

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the balance between being “afforable” and “affording to be a photographer”

family snuggle

In this tight economy everyone is cutting corners, doing everything they can to save a dime.

And rightly so.

One of the things I struggle with most as a professional photographer is striking balance between remaining “affordable” while continuing to keep my business afloat. The heart of my business is the family; and with mouths to feed and bills to pay, I want my clients to have the very same thing I seek for my own – high quality at an affordable price.

Sorta like stealing design ideas from Pottery Barn then running to IKEA to make it happen. 🙂

I love what I do. Love interacting with clients. It brings my heart great satisfaction capturing life with my camera, so much so that if I could do it all for nothing, I would in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately, there are a number of expenses that come with operating a business.  That being the case, I thought it might be helpful to both clients and those looking to start a photography business to know exactly what goes into pricing out my sessions and packages.

Here’s what I take into consideration:

1. Insurance. Because I operate a business, my photography equipment is not covered under our homeowner’s policy. I pay an annual insurance premium for the equipment I own.  I often shoot on-location and have even had my van broken into during a session!

2. Professional Photography Association Membership Dues. I receive indemnification protection through my membership which protects me in case I am ever accused of negligence due to corrupted digital files, missing images, or client dissatisfaction.

3. Web hosting services. I pay an annual fee just to keep my website/blog up and running. This doesn’t include fees paid to claim my domain name, create the website or blog, logo design, etc.

4. Credit card fees. An essential service that costs up to 3.5% of per transaction.

5. Taxes. I’m required by law to pay both sales and income tax for money I draw in through my business.

6. Props, equipment, and rental fees. Ongoing expenses in this category include lenses, editing software upgrades, external storage, memory cards, and investing in a backup equipment.

7.  Mileage. As an on-location photographer, I drive to a number of different locations in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.

8.  My time prepping, shooting, and processing the session.

9.  Postage and packaging. This includes boxes, mailers, flash drives, labels, etc.

10.  Zenfolio. I pay an annual fee to use this account as backup storage for images as well as a tool for clients needing immediate access to high-resolution files.

11.  Advertising. This includes promotional mailings, business cards, and product samples.

These expenses not only allow me to remain in business, but amount to thousands of dollars a year!  My vendor markup is almost nil at 10% or less; what you see is close to what you get when receiving professionally printed products. That is intentional on my part because I want my clients to have access to the highest quality photo products for the lowest prices possible.

Pricing is a big deal, I know this by the high number of hits received on my pricing page each week! I hope this sheds some light into the anatomy of session pricing and packages. If you have any further questions, let me know.

dawn - June 19, 2012 - 9:05 am

great post, Tina. It’s very wise of you to share this with your clients. If the art was valued a bit more, I might still be forging ahead:-)

Tina - June 22, 2012 - 8:55 pm

You raise such a good point, Dawn.

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happy father’s day

first-time father

I wanted to share something that touched my heart while on the road the other day.  It made me think especially of those of you missing your fathers today.  My heart goes out to you.

The above “video” is really just an audio link to a radio program that aired dozens of personal “thank you” messages to fathers around the world; it had my crying all over the place!

To all of the dads out there… thank you.

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images that reflect the heart of your family | tina vega photography

My favorite images of young children are the real ones that capture the heart of WHO they are at any given age. Being the mother of a soon-to-be 13- and 16-year old, I know firsthand how quickly these phases and moments pass.

changing table

And how much they are missed!

Part of enjoying everyday life is not letting ONE SECOND slip by unnoticed.  What if you struggle simply spotting these moments?  Perhaps you see them all of the time but capturing life while you are living it seems virtually impossible.  If you are looking for images that reflect the heart of your family, schedule an Everyday Family Session.

What is an Everyday Family Session? An Everyday Family Session centers around an activity that engages the entire family.  Some ideas include:

– a Saturday morning pancake-making ritual
– hanging out at the zoo
– going to a parade
– having a Wii marathon
– bath time for infants or small children
– flying a kite or hanging out at the beach
– a typical Saturday, whatever that means for your family
– a picnic and hike at a nearby park
– baking cookies
– a trip to the Farmer’s Market
– family day at the waterpark
– hanging out in and around your home
– camping out in the backyard
– biking around the lake with a stop for ice cream

While I may still orchestrate a few shots, most of my time will be spent observing and capturing natural moments as they unfold.

You make memories, I capture them.

Tina - June 16, 2012 - 2:26 pm

As an FYI, beginning tomorrow I will be devoting the week to my family and “unplugging” from work until next Friday. If you’d like one of the spots, just leave a message by phone or email and I’ll hold them on a first-come, first-served basis! BTW, I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts ahead of time so while it may look like I am working, I am indeed not. 🙂

Leslie Schiltgen - June 18, 2012 - 10:14 pm

Hey Tina do you have any of the Everyday sessions left for discount in August? Would love to schedule one.

Tina - June 22, 2012 - 9:01 am

Hi Leslie – I’ve been on vacation the last several days but will check to see what I have open and let you know!

Tina - June 22, 2012 - 12:20 pm

FYI – I’ll be in the St. Cloud area later this summer if anyone in the area is interested!

Jennifer Freund - June 27, 2012 - 11:12 am

Would you be able to do an “everyday session” on July 29th? We are celebrating Clara’s first b-day. Just having immediate family over. Hoping its nice so we can have it in the backyard. The girls have so many Aunts & Uncles. It would be nice to have pics taken that aren’t staged that I might actually be in for once.

Tina - June 27, 2012 - 11:47 am

I am open that day and would love to capture Clara’s special day. I’ll send you a note on FB…

Tina - June 27, 2012 - 12:35 pm

Down to only TWO remaining spots – both in August. If interested, let me know!

Tina - July 2, 2012 - 10:45 am

…down to only ONE spot left in August!

Tina - July 16, 2012 - 3:14 pm

While I am still scheduling Everyday Sessions, all of the discounted spots have been taken!

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