Primping & Policies

Primp and Prime for Your Shoot
Here are some quick tips to make your photos the best!

Get Ready for Your Shoot:

  • Family Portraits stand out when everyone is color coordinated.  I love it when families pick one color and each family member has an accent in that color, whether is is pants, a shirt, cardigan, necklace, dress, skirt, tie, etc.  This way the family looks cohesive without matching exactly. Bright colors also come out well on film.  Try to avoid neon colors, busy prints, stripes, or pale colors.  Make sure wardrobe colors compliment your skin tone.  Also avoid super trendy outfits.  Trends fade, but you want to love your photos forever.
  • For families with young children, bring a few things that are pretty and photograph well to keep the youngsters preoccupied.  Most family portraits with younger kids are best when the family is at play and interacting with each other rather than just posing!  If your children are in the 1-5 year old range, they generally will not sit still long enough or smile at the same time for a traditional family portrait.  However, this is a really fun time to get more action shots of the kids playing or doing something they love.  Using wagons, building blocks, tea parties, bubbles, balloons, or an easel with paints can all be fun ways to capture cute moments. If you have ideas, be sure to share ahead of time for a successful and playful portrait!  Bringing Grandma, Auntie, their favorite baby sitter or another family friend helps to keep the kids entertained and focused during the session and can help grab their attention from behind the camera.
  • Props are always welcome!  Talk to the photographer ahead of time about your ideas.  Bringing your own props will make your photo unique and special to you.
  • Do your research!  Look through this blog under the Family Gallery, or take a look at Pinterest for fun ideas and to figure out what you like and don't like.  Pinterest is great for concept ideas, but the location and light may not make all photos possible.  Sometimes we'll find something amazing on location, so it's good to come with ideas, but also be flexible to what we find when we are there.  Share your Pinterest board with the photographer ahead or time or print them and bring them to your consultation or session.  While exact replication of concepts or lighting can't always be done, brainstorming with the photographer before your session will allow you to get something you love!
  • Choose a clutter free location for your portraits in an area with full sun or full shade.  The Photographer is not responsible for existing backgrounds or lighting conditions at the location chosen by the Client which may negatively impact or restrict the photography coverage.  

Makeup and Hair:
  • Powder, Powder, Powder! (Ok maybe not caked on powder, but don't be afraid to bring it with you for touch ups.) Many people get nervous when being photographed and begin to shine a little too much (even models!) A little bit of powder on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin can even out skin tone and reduce shine to help you look your best in any light.  This goes for guys too!  Ell has a basic matte powder for guys that they can borrow, but matching your own skin ahead of time will be the best!
  • Do NOT use a mineral veil or sparkly bronzer.  While I love Bare Minerals, their white colored mineral veil looks great in person, but reflects white and can make you look pale or ghostly in the lens.  Mary Kay has a similar white powder veil that I would NOT use.  Likewise sparkle foundations, blushes or bronzers can sometimes catch the light and make you look shiny or get a starburst in the lens.
  • Concealer helps too, but if your package includes touch-up work on images, post-processing techniques can easily remove a few blemishes.
  • Avoid too much glittery or shimmery eyeshadows and blushes.  With photographic strobes, the camera can capture more shine off of glittery makeup than you can see in ambient light.  Matte or slightly shimmery eyeshadows are the best.  But go to town on shiny lip gloss.  A little shimmer can help plump up those lips.
  • Eyeliner can really help make your eyes pop!  Generally I suggest a mid to dark brown for portraits.  However, black eyeliner can look good if you're going glam for Senior portraits or modeling portfolios.  However, don't do too much more than you normally wear.  You want your portraits to reflect the best parts of you the way you are.
  • For classic portraits, keep the makeup and wardrobe toned down to accentuate your already good looks, not to make you look like someone else.  Remember the 80's?  Ya, you don't want to be embarrased in 10-20 years with what was in style today.
  • Hair - Style your hair in a timeless look, unless you are doing a character shoot.  Try not to use too much hair spray to avoid the slick greasy look that can come across on film.  If you dye or highlight you hair, make sure to get roots touched up.  While it's not always obvious looking in the mirror that highlights and color is grown out, it is very apparent on film.  For men, try to get your haircut about 1-2 weeks prior to the shoot.  This way it won't look like you just got hacked or that you're a bit shaggy, but like Goldi-locks, your hair is 'just right'.
  • Post-Production Editing - If you're especially self conscious about a certain flaw character attribute, let the photographer know and you can be positioned differently, or ask for post-processing to help mitigate any issue and build your confidence in the camera.  (You can ask about slimming, removing a freckle, blemish, lightening wrinkles etc.)


Since the photographer is generally booked for multiple shoots in one day, please be timely and show up to the designated location on time and ready to shoot.  This means that everyone is present, you are changed into the correct wardrobe, makeup and hair is done, and props, if any, are ready to go.  To be fair to subsequent customers, if you are late to your appointment, in most cases you will not be able to make up that time.  The appointment will still end at the same time.  If you are running late, stuck in traffic, or got lost, do not hesitate to call the photographer's cell phone to get directions or let them know that you are still coming.  For 1-2 hour appointments, reservations will not be kept if you are more than 15 minutes late without calling.  No shows are not refunded.

If the photographer is coming to your home, please provide a phone number where you can be reached to aid in directions if needed.  Please have the desired area for the shoot clean, uncluttered, well maintained or landscaped and ready to shoot.  In general, the photographer will show up 15 minutes early to look at the location and/or set up lighting.  If the photographer is late, you will be able to make up all lost time at no charge.

Payment Options, Cancellation and Re-Scheduling Policy**:
While we do try to be as flexible as possible, we must also run a business and must be able to make a living to be able to continue to offer great service to our customers.  When a client books a session, we honor that commitment and hold that date specially for them.  We turn away all other bookings for that time, even if an alternative booking would be more profitable.  We love our clients and show that to them by putting them first.  When clients do not honor their session date commitments with us, it hurts our business.  In photography, our time and skill is our product, so as we honor and respect your time, we ask that you do the same for us.  In this "Land of Manana," we have put these policies in place to continue to run an efficient and organized business to allow us to continue to serve you for many years to come. 

Payment Options:
Unless a contract is signed that states other terms or conditions, the following is held as standard policy for Ell Photography. For such contracts, the below policy will still hold true for any items not covered in the contract. By booking a shoot with Ell Photography, you agree to these terms.

For bookings at or under $500, fee must be paid in full to book the shoot date.  For non-wedding, non-travel bookings over $500, Client has the option to (1) Pay full amount at booking in which only 25% is non-refundable or (2) pay a 25% non-refundable retainer (of total including add-ons and tax) to hold the date, and must pay the remaining 75% at least 48 hours before the shoot.  If a check, money order, or other payment arrangements have not been received and cleared for the balance for the session, the credit card on file from the reservation may be processed for the balance at the 48 hour deadline. After 48 hours prior to session, the date and time are confirmed and full amount is due and non-refundable; if payment received or charged to card on file does not go through, the full amount plus any late payment, insufficient funds, or credit fees is still due regardless if session is cancelled or not.

For weddings and bookings including travel, Client must pay a non-refundable, non-transferable 25% retainer fee of total cost plus all travel costs (or estimated travel costs) to be able to hold the date and must pay the remaining balance at least one month (30 days) prior to the event date.  No date is reserved until the required retainer of payment in full is received.  In the event Client fails to remit payment as specified, the Photographer and shall have the right to either charge the balance to the card on file or to immediately terminate the Agreement with no further obligation, retain any monies already paid, and not attend the event or surrender images. 

Weekend and Holidays: Weekend and Holiday bookings are available, but are usually reserved for weddings, events and larger sessions.  If a weekend appointment is available, there is a non-refundable $50 weekend/holiday surcharge that must be paid at the time of booking to secure that spot.

Travel: Travel fees are included within Albuquerque for any outdoor shoot.  If the shoot location is outside the ABQ city limits or more than 15 miles from the studio, there is a travel fee of 55 cents/mile from the studio to the location and back to the studio.  The travel fees are non-refundable for cancellations and also due in full with the retainer at the time of booking.  For rescheduling, any refundable travel fees may be applied towards a new booking.  In general, airfare, shuttles, and permit fees are non-refundable; hotels may or may not be refundable; and unless a site visit or other mileage has already been incurred, mileage is usually refundable, at the discretion of the Photographer.  When rescheduling/repurchasing travel, any applicable refunded travel fees minus any change fees or additional fees will be applied towards the new booking.  Any non-refundable travel fees are the responsibility of the canceling party.

Weather Backup Locations:  For all outdoor sessions in New Mexico, unless otherwise stated in the invoice or contract, the backup weather location is in the Ell Photography Studio.  If the outdoor location is important to the Client and he/she wishes to reschedule for weather, they must contact the Photographer and speak with them at least 4 hours prior to the shoot and speak with them directly for approval.  If approval is granted, the session may be rescheduled for a $75 Weather Reschedule fee.

For commercial shoots, or sessions paid by the hour, the client will have the option of stopping the shoot at the original time paid for in advance, or to continue at the current hourly rate (not including bulk discounts) contingent on photographer, studio, location, and assistant availability. Any additional charges incurred will be billed via invoice.  No images will be edited or surrendered until the invoice has been paid in full.

See Cancellation and Rescheduling policies below. In general, unless the session is cancelled or the event of a no-show, the retainer fee shall be applied to the photography fee total.  See below for exceptions.

The client is responsible for securing payment over the phone, online through website or invoice, by registered mail, or by personal delivery where payment is given directly to Photographer.

Late Payments, Bounced Checks, and No Shows
Late payments, bounced checks, and credit denials or reversals will incur an additional $35 fee or fee of 10% of total booking, whichever is greater.  If the payment is not resolved within one week of due date, the account will incur 10% interest until it is paid in full. For Commercial Bookings, there is a $35 Late Payment Fee for each week the payment is late.  For weddings, please refer to your contract.

Rescheduling & Cancellations:
Cancellations and Reschedule Requests must be done by calling and speaking with the photographer directly.* See exceptions below. If a refund is granted, refunds will be credited back in the same way payment was made, unless refund period has passed to be able to refund via that payment method, then another method will be chosen at Photographer's discretion.  Rescheduling availability is determined and scheduled by the photographer, and if rescheduled within one year for the same package, will be scheduled at the same price as initially purchased unless expiration for a deal or special has run out.*

Sick Children: Please do not ever bring a child or adult with a fever, cough, or diarrhea to the studio for a session or viewing as we have newborns in the studio that are very susceptible to pathogens that may not seem as serious in older children or adults. RSV is just one example that shows up as a mild cold in an adult can kill a newborn.  I am very sorry, but if you have a sick child and show up to the studio, you will be forced to reschedule.

Mini-Sessions: The studio hosts several holiday mini-sessions and special events each year. These events run on a very minimal profit to keep costs low for families. The studio enhances the set budget with the pre-paid ticket sales for the slots. You are purchasing a ticket for a timeslot.  These mini-sessions are fully-non-refundable, however, you may give or sell your slot to another friend if you are not able to make it.  If you do this, please let the studio know, so we can keep an updated list of contact names to send our preparation information.
Timely cancellations and Reschedule Requests of 7 days or more in advance (30 days for weddings or bookings with travel) will be refunded, less the 25% non-refundable retainer and any non-refundable travel and weekend/holiday fees, or may be rescheduled once at no cost for the same package within one year*** provided the Photographer and any potential assistants or stylists are available for a new date. Each subsequent Timely Reschedule Request will require a reschedule fee to carry over the retainer to the new date. The first and second reschedule fee is $75 and doubles the 3rd time and each subsequent time the same session is rescheduled.

Semi-Timely Cancellations or Reschedule Requests of less than 7 days but more than 48 hours prior to the session time may reschedule one time with a $75 reschedule fee, if the session has never been rescheduled before.  This the same as a Weather Reschedule Fee, but also applies if a child or participant is ill, work travel, or any other reason.  In the event that the Client contacts the Photographer to reschedule the session, event, or other booking within the timely or semi-timely cancellation window or Photographer is not able to rebook the session or event date with a timely or semi-timely reschedule request, Client forfeits the retainer and any non-refundable travel and weekend/holiday fees, but owes nothing else. If a balance payment was made early, anything paid beyond the non-refundable retainer and other non-refundable fees will be refunded, if possible in the same manner as it was paid, otherwise by the discretion of the Photographer.

Late reschedule requests or cancellations less than 48 hours (not including weekend or holiday hours) in advance will not be refunded.  Client will still owe the full amount due for the session 48 hours (not including weekend or holiday hours) prior to the session time, but may receive any portion of the session of booked value over the sum of $500 ($550 for newborn and cake smash sessions) plus non-refundable travel, reschedule, or weekend fees plus tax  as a credit towards a new session within one year.  This allows any Client who has purchased enlargements, add-ons or anything beyond the basic Creative Packages to be able to apply those items to a new session and must be used within one year.  The equivalent of the base Creative Session cost will be paid to the Photographer for the reserved time, preparation, and lost business costs.  A new non-refundable retainer is required to book the new date, and any credit defined above will be applied to the balance due.  Non-refundable travel and weekend/holiday fees must be paid again at the time of reschedule to book another out of area on-location shoot or a session on a weekend or holiday. The other alternative is that if the weather has turned for the worst  at the last minute and Client does not want to use the indoor backup location, or a child or participant is sick, Client may use the Weather Reschedule Fee to pick a new available day at the photographer's discretion, but a new specific date and time must be picked and booked before the session start time.  See Weather Backup Locations Section. Non-refundable travel and weekend/holiday fees must be paid again at the time of reschedule to book another out of area on-location shoot or a session on a weekend or holiday.

Late Reschedule requests and cancellations made within less than 2 hours of the session time are considered a No-Show and will not be refunded.  At this point, preparation, loading, and/or travel for the session has already begun and it may be difficult to contact the photographer.  No Shows still owe the full amount of the session 48 hours prior to the session date.  True No-Shows may receive the same credit defined above in "Late reschedule requests or cancellations less than 48 hours," but must use the credit by the end of the calendar year.  A new non-refundable retainer is required to book the new date, any applicable credit will be applied to the balance due.   The new date must be booked at the time the late reschedule request is made.  True no-shows have 2 business days to contact the studio to choose a new reschedule date and pay a new non-refundable retainer to redeem the applicable credit for the new date.  

Credit Vouchers: Credits given as a bonus or incentive must be used with the packages with which they were given as defined.  Referral credits may be kept on file for 1 year. Referral credits are "earned" and usable once the referred client has had a successful session.  Reschedule Credits are good for 1 year from original sessions date or until the end of the year as defined above.  Credits may only be redeemed by the person who earned them.  Please remind Photographer to look for any credits on file at booking or ordering. They can not be used retroactively for purchases.

Package Selection, Upgrading, and Downgrading: When booking a package or any add-ons to a package, bundle discounts may apply, but you are committed to that purchase. The studio plans around each session including what add-ons have been added to meet minimum order requirements, editing time planning, and booking enough, but not too many sessions, so that products can be delivered in a timely manner. Knowing what you want to get out of a session also helps the photographer pose for specific aspect ratios, and format needed and use light and style that matches with the medium being printed on.  A 25% non-refundable retainer of full package price is due at time of booking. This reserves time and skill to complete and process your package and in some cases purchase raw materials and allows Digital "In-Home" Design mock-ups and in-person, email, phone, and text planning consultations to be free and available to all clients who want it.  If you want to upgrade, you must do so 2 days prior to your session to receive any potential bundle discounts and follow applicable payment schedules. If you wish to downgrade packages, the original 25% non-refundable retainer is still non-refundable, but the balance will be equal to 75% of your new package, reducing the balance due.  Please only book packages and add-ons that you are sure you want. A discount can be enticing, but we want to make sure your package is perfect for you before you purchase.

Gift Certificates: Gift Certificates may be broken up and used towards any type of session available.  Gift Certificates may also be gifted to friends or family of the voucher owner.   Gift Certificates are void if sold or traded.  Gift Certificates have no intrinsic cash value and may only be applied toward merchandise or services purchased from Photographer. The client must keep the signed and dated Gift Certificates to be able to use it in the future. They are not kept on file at the studio and cannot be replaced if lost.  Gift Certificates are valid for 5 years or as long as the state of New Mexico requires.

Boudoir Rescheduling:
Since the setup, scheduling stylists and subsequent clients, and  preparation for Boudoirs, especially Boudoir Group Days, is much more complicated, any rescheduled Boudoir date requires a $75 reschedule fee the first time it is rescheduled and may only be rescheduled once.  Once the session has been rescheduled once, the entire session Production Fees (for time, sets, and digital images) become non-refundable, but any investment for books or enlargements will be issued as a credit for a future session that must be used within a year. If rescheduling, a new date must be chosen at the time of rescheduling.  This fee is in addition to any other rules and fees in the Reschedule and Cancellation Policy above and the Boudoir Rescheduling rules supersedes any conflicting rules above.

Newborn Session Exceptions:
If the baby has not arrived yet or if there were complications delaying the trip home from the hospital, rescheduling can be done with no additional costs if you let the photographer know the day before by contacting the photographer directly.  Availability, however, cannot be guaranteed.  Generally, newborn shoots are done ages 3 days to 3 weeks, so if the baby has not arrived yet 3 days prior to the photoshoot, let the photographer know for best options at rescheduling.  For cancellations, the same rules apply.  In the unfortunate event of a stillbirth or severe medical complications, cancellations can be fully refunded in the form of a credit voucher to rebook the same or a different type of shoot within one year.

Liability: If Photographer or her agent is unable to perform any or all of the duties herein for any reason, including but not limited to, fire, transportation problems, acts of God, accident, illness, or technical problems, and if she cannot provide another competent professional, all money received by Photographer, minus expenses, will be returned to Client, and Photographer shall have no further liability with respect to this agreement. This limitation of liability also applies to any loss/damage of photographs or failure to deliver photographs for any reason. Liability for a partial loss of photographs shall be pro-rated based on the percentage of total. The sole remedy for any actions or claims shall be limited to refund whose total amount cannot exceed the total monies paid by Client under this Agreement during the time preceding the date on which such liability arises.

Right of Privacy: Ell Photography reserves the right to use any and all images and all likenesses from sessions in online, social media, and print marketing, for educational purposes, and in any other way.  If you do not want your images used this way, please let the Photographer know at the time of booking.  There are options for Private Sessions.

Viewing and Ordering Appointments:
For each session, the Client will come in for one viewing and ordering appointment to view a culled subset of good images, and select favorite images to fulfill their package products and add additional products. Viewings usually take between 1 hour and 1.5 hours, but wedding viewing can take up to 3 hours.  If a client has a hard time deciding between images and making final selections, they can opt for a longer viewing session for a very reasonable price, just to cover the extra time for the appointment (please contact photographer for details). Since all work is custom and various stages of editing commence after the viewing appointment, ALL ORDERS ARE FINAL and NON-REFUNDABLE.  For design products such as stationary and guest books, you will receive a proof to double check spelling and design before the final order is submitted.

* Exceptions may be made for overnight hospitalizations with a doctor's note or deaths in the immediate family at the discretion of the photographer.
** Subject to Change.
*** Boudoir Sessions do have a reschedule fee the first time - See Boudoir Rescheduling section for differences in policies