Last month we announced our plans to move out of our in-home studio and into a larger space in downtown Swanton, Ohio. The former Pilliod Opera House, built in 1897, will be home to our new storefront and photography studio. The Opera House hosted a variety of activities in the early 1900s, such as piano recitals, social balls, duck-pin bowling, and basketball games (there's still a full court upstairs!). This building has also housed several businesses throughout the years, including a bank, A&P grocery store, and hardware store.
Here's what it looks like today. The windows and doorways have been boarded up for decades. We found the original 8 foot windows, and plan to reinstall them in the future to finally let in the natural light that the building has craved for so long. We want to restore as much of the building's original character as we can, so we've got a lot of renovation ahead of us.
We ripped out layers of flooring to expose the original wood floors, and removed the drop ceiling in the front room that was hiding a grand 14 foot high tin ceiling.
Our next steps include updating some of the electrical, painting the ceilings, and sanding the floors. Hopefully the next update will be much prettier!
I normally try to keep the blog photography-related and not personal, but today is PKD Awareness Day.
June 26, 2012, was just a normal Tuesday. I was working from home earlier that day, and in the late afternoon sent Chad a video of our 4 month old daughter Ainsley playing with a toy for the first time. He responded, and said he was just leaving work. Fifteen minutes later my phone rang from an unknown number. It was Chad, telling me he "flipped the car", and told me to come the accident site. On my way, I received another call telling me to go to the hospital instead. Naturally I was worried, but I had heard his voice so I assumed he wasn't severely injured.
Chad was hit on the passenger side of the Dodge Neon he was driving by another vehicle that ran a stop sign. The other car was traveling about 50 mph, and the impact spun the Neon and then flipped it over. Chad was able to climb out a back door himself, but lost consciousness for a short time after. At the hospital, CT scans revealed a concussion with traumatic brain injury, and then something else we weren't expecting - Chad had multiple cysts on his kidneys and liver that were hemorrhaging as a result of the impact. We were referred to a nephrologist who confirmed he has Polycystic Kidney Disease.
At the time, I knew nothing about PKD. What I've learned since then could fill a book, but here's some basic facts about the disease, from the PKD Foundation:
• Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is one of the most common, life-threatening genetic diseases affecting
thousands in America and millions worldwide.
• In autosomal dominant PKD (ADPKD), fluid-filled cysts develop and enlarge in both kidneys, eventually leading to kidney failure.
• PKD is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure.
• More than 50 percent of people with PKD will develop kidney failure by age 50.
• Once a person has kidney failure, dialysis or a transplant are the only options to treat the damage the disease has caused.
• It is a painful disease that impacts quality of life.
• The average size of a normal kidney is a human fist. Polycystic kidneys can get much larger, some getting as large as a football, and weighing up to 30 pounds each.
• Parents have a 50 percent chance of passing the disease to each of their children. Unlike some genetic diseases, it does not skip a generation. Because it is passed from generation to generation, PKD often affects many people in one family.
• Approximately 10 percent of the people diagnosed with PKD have no family history of the disease, with PKD developing as a spontaneous (new) mutation. Once they have it, they have a 50 percent chance of passing it on to each of their children.
• PKD equally affects people of all races, genders, nationalities, geographic locations and income levels.
• There is no treatment or cure for PKD.
The PKD Foundation is the only organization in the US solely dedicated to finding treatments and a cure for PKD to improve the lives of those it affects. Since its founding in 1982, the PKD Foundation has invested more than $32 million in research, clinical and scientific meetings, making it the second largest funder of PKD research after the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This has led to new discoveries about PKD, including identifying the genes responsible for PKD, which enables researchers to investigate possible treatments.
Unfortunately, kidney research is greatly underfunded compared to the cost of care. Investing in research is crucial to improve the cost-effectiveness of kidney care and clinical outcomes of the more than 20 million Americans with kidney disease.
WALK FOR PKD
The Walk for PKD is the Foundation's signature event to raise funds and awareness. Walks take place in more than 50 cities across the nation each year, including Toledo, Ohio. The event has raised nearly $22 million since 2000. This year the Toledo Walk for PKD is taking place on September 13 at Olander Park in Sylvania, Ohio.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
• Donate to the Walk for PKD. We are not able to participate in the walk this year, but a friend of ours whose 2 year old daughter has ARPKD will be walking, so we ask that you donate to her page here.
• If you shop at Kroger, enroll your card in Community Rewards and you can support the PKD Foundation with every purchase you make! Visit https://www.kroger.com/communityrewards, sign in and search for "PKD Foundation - Toledo Chapter".
• If you're on Facebook, follow the PKD - Toledo Chapter, Toledo Walk for PKD, or the PKD Foundation page to learn more about PKD and ways you can help.
Attention high school juniors (and parents)! We know that summer is the first thing on your mind right now, but it's also time to start considering your senior pictures. You're thinking - but it's only May, I've got months to get this done, right? True, but while fall is gorgeous for photography, its also a very popular time for senior sessions (and all sessions for that matter) so spaces book up quickly. We are booking 2015 senior photography sessions as early as June, and all throughout the summer. Not sure what goes on in a senior session? Here's a few FAQs:
How long is my session?
A typical senior session is 2 hours, to allow time for any traveling or outfit changes, which add variety to your photos. However, we do offer 1 hour sessions, and the option to add more camera time by the half hour as well.
Can we go to different places?
Yes! The two hour sessions offered in the senior packages include studio photography plus up to 3 additional locations. These are limited to the time frame and also must be within 25 miles of the studio or a travel fee applies. Minors under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times during the shoot.
How many outfits can I bring?
There's no limit on wardrobe changes, but we recommend limiting yourself to 3-4 outfits - you don't want to spend half your session time changing clothes! As a general guide, bring something dressy, something casual, and something that reflects your interests. Don't be afraid to accessorize with items such as hats, scarves and jewelry. Make sure you're comfortable!
How many poses will I get?
We don't have a set limit on "poses". We will take a large variety of posed shots, both close-up and full-length, and incorporate some lifestyle sets too. A two hour senior session typically yields 40-80 edited images, or 20-40 images for a one hour session.
Will you fix my acne or blemishes?
Yes, retouching is done at no extra cost.
What about my yearbook photo?
Every school is different regarding the yearbook. Some schools have a photographer come in and every senior is required to use them for their yearbook image. Other schools will allow you to submit a photo, but have guidelines (neutral backdrop, head & shoulders only, no hands, etc), while some schools only require a headshot, regardless of the pose or background.
Typically your school will send home information about the yearbook in the beginning of your senior year, which of course is too late for many seniors who had summer photos. To be prepared, we always take a studio headshot on a neutral backdrop in your most formal outfit. We have had a 100% acceptance rate with yearbook guidelines at multiple schools. If your school is more flexible, you'll still have a variety of other poses to choose from (and grandma will love that formal headshot on her wall anyways)!
How much does it cost?
We offer two portrait packages for seniors, or the option to build your own (starting as low as $50). The packages both include a two hour session with multiple locations, a print collection, a 5x5 proof book of edited images, mini cards, and a Facebook timeline cover design.
How soon after the shoot will my pictures be ready, and how do I order them?
Processing usually takes 2-3 weeks. The edited images will be available to view in a password-protected online gallery. You can order your prints directly from the gallery, or we are happy to offer in studio proofing as well. Prints and other products can be ordered a la carte if you need more than what your package offers.
I'm ready to schedule my session, what's the next step?
Get in touch with us to schedule your senior session or to get more information!
We wanted to take a minute to show our appreciation for all the mothers we've worked with the past few years. Whether it's family pictures, maternity, or just the kids, your love and effort shows in everything you do - before, during and after the session. We couldn't do it without you! Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and moms-to-be!
It's not easy finding time to capture all the stages of baby's first year, even for a photographer. After our daughter Ainsley was born in February of 2012, we aimed to do the traditional newborn, 3-6-9-12 month photos.. but starting off, she was almost 2 weeks old before we squeezed in the newborn shoot. We were first time parents, I was recovering from a c-section, Chad went back to work after the first week, and we were only sleeping in 90 minute increments... so sleeping and parenting were our top priorities at the time.
Any photographer will tell you that newborn sessions can make you sweat. Not only is the room extra toasty, but we work hard making those sweet, sleepy, smushy baby poses. My baby refused to sleep or smush, so we ended up with lots of wide awake shots and flailing limbs. My advice to you - get that newborn session scheduled ASAP, when they're less than 7-10 days old (the earlier, the better). Also, if I could do it over again, I would have hired another professional, so I could have sat back and relaxed (somewhat).
Every summer we have family pictures taken, using local photographers (we switch it up for variety). For her 6 month session we went to Brian at B&D Photography in Lyons (actually she was almost 7 months old, because she was sick with a double ear infection earlier that month). It was a fun change of pace to watch her ham it up from the sidelines, instead of from behind the camera.
Ainsley turned 9 months in November, but we strayed from "tradition" - photographing at 8 months (October) and 10 months (Christmas) worked better for us. It was more important to get the shots we wanted; and we recommend that to everyone. Schedule those "first year" sessions around what works best for YOU. If your child is sick at that 9 month mark, wait till they're back to their normal self. Plan sessions around the seasons, or milestones like sitting up, crawling, standing, etc.
Special thanks to the professionals that have worked with us the past few years: Amy Carroll Photography for photographing our wedding and first family pictures; B&D Photography for capturing Ainsley at 6 months, and [coll.neu] photography for last year's family photos.
We make it easy for you to capture all those milestones with The First Year package. The package is purchased upfront and good for 5 photography sessions, a $250 print/product credit, and a "freebie" (Facebook timeline cover design). The description mentions the traditional timing for sessions, but it's really up to you. For example, you could swap the 3 month for a maternity session, or any way you choose, as long as the sessions all involve the same child and take place before his or her 1st birthday (if possible).
As always, we're willing to customize a package for you - just ask!
On February 21st, our daughter Ainsley turned two. I know it's cliché, but it's hard to believe she's two already - it really has flown by for us. Her photo session was short and sweet, because, well, she's two.
We had a much smaller birthday party than her first; just Ainsley's grandparents, great-grandparents, and aunts & uncles, rather than the whole extended families. And this year, she got to pick the theme - Bubble Guppies, which is currently her favorite thing to watch (although Monsters, Inc is coming in at a close second). She sat on my lap at the computer every time I was working on the invitation, naming the characters over and over, and she wanted to open all the plates, napkins and decorations as soon as we bought them.
Ainsley's excitement was contagious; we were all ready for the party by the time the big day rolled around. It was awesome to see how much more she could understand and participate this year, compared to last year.
As expected, Ainsley loved opening presents, but her absolute favorite part was when we all sang "Happy Birthday" to her. Her whole face lit up; she was ecstatic. She blew out her candles one at a time, then dug into her cake.
Thanks to all of our family for making Ainsley's birthday so special!
CTJohnson Photography is available to photograph any of your special events! Contact us for pricing and details.
Last weekend we participated in our first vendor show, the Lyons Fall Bazaar. There was a pretty good turnout for it being a first time event, and it was nice to meet other local vendors. We even got a head start on some Christmas shopping.
We held a drawing and gave away a $50 and a $25 gift certificate. Congrats to our winners - Melissa Hudik of Delta, OH ($50) and Kathy Johnston of Wauseon, OH ($25).
Gift certificates are also available to purchase for the holidays (or anytime!) and can be used towards any of our services or products.
Thanks to everyone who stopped out on Saturday to support local vendors!
Those of you who have been following us for the past few years have likely noticed some differences in 2013, so here's a look into what brought on those changes...
In February of 2012, Chad & I were blessed with our daughter Ainsley, and many aspects of our lives changed dramatically, including our photography business. During my pregnancy, we had decided that 2011 would be our last season at Oakshade Raceway. We both hold full time jobs on top of doing photography, and with a newborn, we simply could not devote every Saturday night to the track. Working as the track photographer helped with start up costs and got our name out there, but after two years we were ready to head in a different direction.
After a brief maternity leave, and with a new focus on families, kids and weddings, 2012 started off with a bang. We had 5 weddings on the books for the second half of the year, and 3 of them were within 3 weeks of each other. Shooting a wedding is a fun and exhausting 10+ hour day, but the real work is culling and editing afterwards. I’ll easily spend 40 hours editing a wedding to perfection. Needless to say, by the beginning of November, things were pretty crazy.
Now, I’m in no way complaining about being too busy - I love doing this, and my goal is to be a full-time photographer someday (and I can’t get there without customers, of course). But at that particular point in time, with a 40 hour work week, brand new baby, lots of wedding photography, and life in general, I was pretty stressed. I love photography, and I was concerned that too much stress would make me NOT love it anymore. So at the end of the year, we decided to do some refocusing in 2013.
First, we decided to take a step back and rebuild our business image. This meant a new website, business cards, a logo tweek, and branding. When we were approached by Oakshade (less than 3 weeks before the first race) we still had to “officially” start our business, get a website going, vendor’s license, etc. Everything came together rather quickly, and our “look” had a lot to do with our subject, which was dirt track racing. With our transition to portraiture and weddings, an image overhaul was in order. Plus, I love graphic design and took several courses in college, so it was fun too.
Out with the old....
... and in with the NEW
We decided to take a wedding hiatus in 2013, and really focus on our wedding marketing for 2014. We’ve got new packages with lots of options, including a “build your own” custom collection. A lot of research and thought went into our new prices and packages; we wanted to be reasonably priced and comparable to other professionals in the area while providing customizable options. Also, I’m really excited about the wedding welcome packets I’ve been working on, so you will see a blog post about them when I’m done.
We’ve been offering more specials, events and products this year - for example, we had a Senior Rep contest in the spring, and offered Fall Mini Sessions in October. Holiday Mini Sessions are in the works, and we will have a booth at the Lyons Fall Bazaar in November.
We are excited to see what this year of change and development brings us! Past customers, we greatly appreciate your business over the past 3.5 years, and we are looking forward to meeting new faces as well!
Feel free to leave comments and suggestions!