Common Questions

The Session

Do I have to be in the pictures? Can’t you photograph my dog/cat by himself?

We certainly pride ourselves in capturing the curiosity, quirkiness and humanity of our non-human companions, but David's real claim to fame is portraying relationships among family members – human or otherwise.

So, no, you don’t have to be (linked to album with no people) in the pictures, but why not? (linked to album of people with their pets) You don't have to choose. David typically does both, and any other combination you dream up. It doesn't cost any more, and remember, you’re free to select whichever images you love, and leave the rest behind.

What should I wear?

We recommend attire that makes you feel confident, comfortable and that expresses who you are! Solid colors work best, but avoid both BLACK and WHITE. Jeans, layers and textured clothing (denim, waffle weave, corduroy, linen) will add warmth to your photos. If you have questions, just call us. You might also like to bring several options and make the final decision here.

Please avoid shirts featuring logos, graphics or bold patterns. Pay attention to your shoes (and your children's shoes) as your feet will almost certainly appear in some of the final images. Your big snow boots or giant basketball sneakers, for example, might detract from the overall mood of the images.

How much time should I budget for my Sutton Studios experience?

We are not only warm, we’re efficient! Though your sitting should last from 30-60 minutes, we'd like you to budget about 90 minutes with us on the day of your portrait sitting, a little more if you're coming with a large group. That's enough time for us to make our magic, and not so much that the more exciting species among us (ok, kids too) will become bored.

What will I need to pay?

When you schedule your appointment, you will pay us a nonrefundable $50 deposit to reserve your session time. On the day of your portrait sitting, you'll just pay the balance of your sitting fee.

We'll help you put your print order together during your second visit to our studio – the big day when you get to view your proofs. This occurs about a week after your sitting (and must happen within thirty days).  (link to How long until I can see my proofs, and how do I select the photos I want to purchase?)

My dog is aggressive. Will there be other dogs there?

Don’t worry, your dog is safe. We schedule portrait sittings with plenty of just-in-case time in between, so that animals who don’t know each other aren't being introduced in our space.

We therefore ask that you arrive on time rather than early, for your appointment. Please do make us aware of any behavioral or aggression issues your animal may have so we can be sensitive to those concerns, and keep both your dog and our photographer safe.

My dog is nervous.
My dog is afraid of flash.
My dog won’t sit still.
My dog isn’t trained.
Is that a problem?

Few (if any) of our clients’ companion animals are professionally trained. David has 20+ years of experience and he’s worked with more than 10,000 dogs and cats (and there were even several special encounters with an alligator named Bubba.) For a recent philanthropic event, he photographed 89 of man’s best friends in one day!

These dogs and cats have taught David effective techniques for working with a wide spectrum of animal personalities. Right behind liver treats, David's most important tool is his legendary patience. Though saintly is not the first adjective he'd use to describe himself, the most common feedback we receive after a session is "David has the patience of a saint." We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried!

Some dogs fear new places or new people, some are convinced that any trip outside the house is inevitably delivering them to a needle-wielding veterinarian, and some may be unhinged by the car ride that brought them.
David initially meets with your family (both human and non human members) in our reception area before beginning the photo session. He’ll greet your dog/s/cat/s and talk with you to create a reassuring atmosphere for all. Once everybody is acquainted, he will walk you into the camera room. In the camera room, your pets will be given ample time to inspect the room and reassure themselves about the darker corners before we ask them to begin to work.

Should I get my dog groomed?

Grooming is a personal decision – you know how your dog will look her best – but please bathe your dog a day or two before your sitting. If you plan on having her groomed, we recommend setting the grooming appointment for a day or two before the sitting. A grooming and a portrait session on the same day can be a lot of stress for your dog, and we want her to be relaxed and very much herself for the photos.

A word about nails: Your groomer will probably want to trim your dog's nails for you, but we'd prefer they didn't. Those freshly trimmed nails can be pretty rough, and they're hard on our hand-painted backdrop and, at times, on our photographer.

How will you get my child to smile for the photos?

We live in a world where we have everything available on-demand: Chinese take-out, Netflix, shined shoes, groceries. What we sometimes fail to realize, however, is that most children cannot smile on demand. Even if they do, it will seldom be the kind of smile you want to display on your wall. In order to capture and highlight joy, there must actually be ... joy. That’s what David will work on with your child.

While it may be challenging for you to sit in the wings and refrain from shouting "Say Cheese!" we'd be remiss if we didn't inform you that Sutton Studios is a cheese-free zone. David has been directing photo shoots for over 20 years and has a way with both children and animals. (link to the“never work with kids or animals” blog.) He adores them, and they feel it. He’s even mastered the art of making funky noises to conjure the reactions he seeks. They may smile. They may not. Relax. We think you'll like your pictures  (link to families album) either way. No cheddar required.

After the Session

Can I purchase high-res files and print them myself?

Here’s the thing: our brand is rooted in a cultivated, definitive look, which we strive diligently to preserve. Each David Sutton original “out in the world” is our ambassador. David inspects and approves (or rejects and we go back to work) Every. Single. Print. Our process results in the consistency and incredible quality that our clients trust and expect.

So, can you purchase high-res files and print them yourself? Nope, but for good reason. We send each of our clients home with not only a smile and a homemade liver treat, but also fine-art-quality prints ready for display.
We deliver extraordinary customer service including listening to and embracing our clients’ visions for the art they imagine, leaving nothing to chance. We employ personalized retouching services and our clients benefit from our exclusive relationship with our perfectionist lab that adheres to exacting processing standards and processes your final prints on the finest materials available in the medium. Oh, and we’re control freaks.

But I got all the digital files from my wedding. . .

That's a horse of a different color. Wedding photographers use a different business model and customarily charge very high session fees up front, as part of a complete package that may include delivery of the digital image files (so clients can reproduce inexpensive, disposable copies for all the friends and relatives who want cake-face-smashing snapshots.)

By contrast, we charge a nominal sitting fee, which places the burden on David to create compelling, irresistible images.

You are never under any obligation to purchase prints. After you’ve reviewed your proofs and made your purchase, you can be confident that the artwork you're investing in has been handled by exacting professionals, every step of the way.

But I want to post the pictures on Facebook. How can I do that?

Easily! Once you have met with our Photo Design Experts and finalized your print order, we will place a selection of the selected images into an album on our studio's Facebook page (search: Sutton Studios Portraits). The image files are in .jpg format and bear handsome and discreet Sutton Studios logo.

These work great for all your social media and networking sites, while protecting David's copyright. You’re welcome to circulate these electronic images as you see fit.

How long until I can see my proofs, and how do I select the photos I want to purchase?

Immediately following your portrait session, we'll schedule your print ordering consultation. This consultation will occur about a week after your sitting (and must happen within thirty days.) During your ordering consultation, we'll help you put your final print plan together.

You’ll work closely with one of our Photo Design Experts who can talk you through your options (link to price list/video page) and help you achieve the artistry you’re hoping for, whether you intend to create a gallery in your living room or make a bold, artistic statement on your wall complemented by a dramatic album or book. Oh, and don't forget personalizing your office space and making gifts for your more deserving friends and family.

Please be sure to measure your walls before your consultation. Consider your proportion guidelines and limitations so you're prepared to order appropriate and complementary sized prints.

Do keep in mind that we keep proofs active for 30 days from the date of your sitting. If we haven't received your final ordering decision within the first 30 days, your printed proofs may no longer be available to see. So, spit spot. Chik chak. Beat feet.

I like them ALL! Can't I just buy the proofs?

Sorry. Every photograph we deliver to our clients must earn David’s approval, and our lab proofs simply don’t make the cut. Our work proofs are neither retouched nor fine-tuned to our exacting specifications. They also experience a great deal of handling, which undermines their stability and longevity.

They're GREAT as a jumping-off point to help determine your needs and plan your displays and albums, but they're not meant to last, and they do not leave the studio.

When will my finished prints be ready?

Your finished prints will be available within 6-8 weeks of placing your order. During the winter holiday season (November/December), however, we compress our production cycle to accommodate your holiday gift giving needs.

Do you offer framing?

We have close relationships with professional framers who have been impressing our clients for years, and we're happy to provide you with all their information. Fine art framing is a specialty, like photography, and we believe it's best left to the experts.

Do you offer custom greeting cards?

Why, yes, we do! You can order greeting cards with photos from your session through one of our affordable, web-based greeting card associates (currently and Pricing varies by product. We require a $50 per-image file prep and initial set-up fee; then you can order as many cards as you like directly from our online associates.

Will you be featuring my photographs in your promotional materials?

We’d love to; is that OK with you? On the day of your session, we will present you with a model release form. While you are absolutely not required to sign the release (we respect your privacy and will not ask questions about your decision) doing so allows us to use our favorite photographs in our exhibitions and promotional materials, as stock imagery, and in advertising. We exhibit in galleries and other performance-based spaces several times a year, and we look forward to inviting you to these exciting events.

My daughter's red hair is her best feature. Can I get one or two shots in color?

David's signature work is monochromatic. We painstakingly process the raw images and take them through an exacting multistep process with the ultimate goal of achieving the timeless black and white look for which David is famous.

That said, you may have a daughter with gorgeous auburn locks or a Weimaraner puppy with piercing blue eyes, and want to highlight and display these features. Although David's reputation has been built on black and white, we can indeed have a few of the images from your session re-rendered into color for you. Just ask. No hard feelings.


What if I have to reschedule?

We understand that some conflicts are simply unavoidable and we will try our best to work with your schedule. Should you need to move an appointment, we ask for one week’s notice prior to your scheduled day, so we can cater to all of our clients and their needs. A $50 fee will be applied for reschedules within 7 days of an appointment.

Can you come to my house instead?

Most of our portraits sittings take place in our studio where we have optimum control over lighting, background and environment (control freaks, remember?)

However, David can indeed come to you, if you prefer, (link to an on-location video)  and photograph your family in your home or the setting of your choice. Call us for details about our on-location fees.

I work all day. Can we do my session at night? On the weekend?

Appointments during standard business hours are most cost-effective for you, the client, but if an evening sitting or Saturday sitting is what you need, we’ll make the arrangements. We want to work with you, so we’ll do our best to plan your sitting within your scheduling constraints.


Do you do weddings and events?

Although David does not do event or wedding photography himself, our Production Manager, Daniela Cardili does, and we recommend her unequivocally. Dani has a photojournalist’s reflexes and a portratist’s eye, and she's well respected in the industry, all of which positions her as the ideal person to capture these momentous occasions.


Do you offer gift certificates?

We do indeed. We can work with you to design a sitting + print package that will fit both your budget and your gift giving needs. You can purchase your gift certificate over the phone or come in and make the arrangements in person. Call us and we'll talk you through it.