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How I Work, What I Charge

I like my subjects to wear clothes (and to bring toys, skis, books, tennis racquets, musical instruments, and particularly pets -- dogs , cats, ferrets, rats, ducks, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters--) that are typical of where they are in their lives. I love color, texture, details: Sneakers, tee shirts, hanging out clothes, rings, bracelets. It is the surface of my subjects, how they look and how they appear, what is quirky and imperfect about them, that attracts and charms me. For me, the key words are "apparently" and "irregular."

I try to make my studio a comfort zone where my sitters can relax with themselves and with me. I do not try to probe or illuminate their souls. My subjects are people who accept themselves. They realize that the camera can be both healing and celebratory. They stand in front of my camera and let themselves be, just as they are. They embrace their uneven features and the cowlick that won't stay down--even the few extra pounds. The Japanese have a word for this pose of total naturalness, total self-acceptance and total attention--"Sonomama."

As my work on this camera has evolved, I have come to realize that my portraits are about affection and survival. How people feel about their friends, their pets, their families, the people they share (and survive) their lives with, the friends for when they are taking their portrait. I feel honored to have met so many special people and to be able to share an occasion as intimate as a portrait session with them. I am touched by the love my subjects have for each other.

My fee for a framed portrait of a family is $10,000 in my Cambridge studio plus Massachusetts sales tax of 6.25%, with a nonrefundable deposit of $1,500. It is also possible to have portraits taken in New York City; the cost is $15,000 plus 8.875% sales tax.

I make two exposures and the client chooses one of them. My custom UV filter plexiglass frames, are designed to preserve and present my work to my specifications.

My portraits are made with the Polaroid 20x24 camera. There are six of these cameras in the world. The image is 23"x36" and is in wonderful Polaroid color. It is vertical. My studio is at 955 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, between Harvard Square and Central Square. My framing studio, where clients pick up their framed portraits, is at 607 Franklin Street, two blocks from 955 Mass. Ave. The phone number is 617-876-6416 at both Mass Ave. and Franklin St. I make appointments during the week and all day Saturday ...and Sunday after 1:00 p.m.

If you see a picture of yourself on this page, and you do not want it to be here, contact Elsa immediately.