Interest in starting Wedding Photography Business...

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Maithal, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. Maithal

    Maithal Cohort

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    Apr 23, 2011

    Hi Everyone!
    A teacher at work started a business a few years ago doing wedding photography on the side. I would love to do that. I'm a scrapbooker and love taking photos. However, I've never taken a photography class.

    I'm going to talk with her this coming week at work (we had this past week off for spring break).

    I don't want this to be a costly venture if I decide to do this. I know when you start a business it will cost, but I want it to be worth it.

    So, I'm not 100% sure I want to do this, but I want to look into it. I work part time and this would certainly suppliment pay and be fun too. I currently just have an Olympus Digital Camera. Nothing fancy, but I once took a photo of a friend at her wedding and it came out professional that Walmart thought it was professional and wouldn't let her develop it.

    This would be one of the photos I use to start the business. I already know someone (brother's friends, couple, who can do the website for me).

    Would you develop the pictures somewhere or yourself? I use Shutterfly/Walgreens. I love their quality?

    Any thoughts or anyone do something similar? What do you think? I'd probably have to start taking classes, right?
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I've never shopped for a wedding photographer (a friend was an amateur photographer and took our photos for us), but I sense that you will have to have a fairly extensive portfolio available to show potential clients. The portfolio wouldn't necessarily be solely wedding photos, but should showcase your photography talents. For most couples, their wedding photos are very important and they aren't going to make their decision lightly--they are going to want proof that you are they one they trust to capture the memories of their day.

    A quick Google search turns up lots of sites with advice--my sense is that taking classes is only the beginning.
     
  4. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    That would never fly in New York...but I guess it depends on where you live.

    Just having a website is not going to get you business...anyone could make a website in an hour. You get business from word of mouth and doing wedding expos. Most people hire a team of photographers, not just one, and you wouldn't use a point and shoot camera.

    Not trying to be a debbie downer, and again, I'm sure it depends on location...but I think this would be a large investment.
     
  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I hired my wedding photographer based on the recommendation of the catering hall director who had been in business for 20 years. For some photographers it takes years to build a good reputation. I agree that you're going to have to take classes and build a portfolio. You might want to start out small because photographing a wedding is a huge job. Also, one digital camera isn't going to cut it. You're going to need a lot of equiptment (multiple cameras, lighting paraphenalia, etc). Then again, you might get lucky and find a couple who is having a last minute backyard wedding and you could give them a really good deal. You never know!
     
  6. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Have you thought about taking senior pictures? If you are already working at a school, you have your prospective clients :) Senior pictures have gotten SOOOO expensive and IMHO, these are the types of pictures that parents want to have but are looking for a deal.

    Good luck
     
  7. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Apr 23, 2011

    The photographer I hired for my wedding had an assistant and they each had two cameras and multi lenses. The cameras will be a huge investment. They aren't cheap and the lenses are even more costly.
     
  8. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Apr 23, 2011

    A personal friend who had started her own photography business did our wedding photos and did a fine job, but it does require a significant investment in time, money, equipment and effort.

    Weddings are the most important event in the lives of the couple and they will want it done right the first time. That's why wedding photos cost so much. A college friend offered who was also an amateur photographer did a wedding for some friends when we were in school. He decided to use his new camera for the special event. Unfortunately, he wasn't familiar with some of the controls and all the pictures came out half-black.

    On the other hand, a high school buddy of mine started out doing wedding photos and videos as a side business with his wife. They now have their own, well-established business and even produce TV commercials for local businesses.

    To get started, you will have to depend on friends or acquaintances until your portfolio and business have been established. Doing the senior pics is a good way to get started and find out exactly how much work and money will be involved.
     
  9. husker_blitz

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    Apr 23, 2011

    Equipment will be the biggest cost. You really need a quality camera to do this. Your current one may work, but you'll need a host of lenses. Plus you'll also need slave lighting when you do portraits or set shots, even for outdoor to avoid shadows. You'll also want to make really sure you get the prints onto high quality paper. I'm not sure if Wal-Mart and Walgreens have the same stock.

    It will take some time to build a portfolio and I echo perhaps starting with senior photos since you have an 'in' for that line of work. Plus, a lot of kids provide their own props for those type of photos.

    If you start small and work your way up you'll probably be alright. Then you can build as you go. Sounds like a rewarding 'second' job.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 23, 2011

    Peter does part time work with a photo studio and has done a number of weddings.

    While most photography studios have gone digital, I understand that a lot still use medium format cameras, so it would mean an investment of some serious money.

    Even if you decided to go digital, you would need a camera with a number of different lenses and flashes that could accomodate a variety of situations-- one that could handle the low light of a church, another that would do the quick movements in a reception, and another that would do well for the panoramic type shots of a large bridal family or wedding party. Then you would need a back up for every single piece; the newlyweds don't want to hear that your lens or your flash malfunctioned.

    Another area of investment would be lighting. He has a whole light system, including the umbrella diffusers and all the stuff that goes with it... let's just say it rates as "not cheap." (And remember: he's just the freelancer they hire, it's not his business. The guy who owns the studio has an incredible array of equipment.)


    Then there's the periferal stuff-- the tripods and the monopods and the incredible array of camera bags for a variety of situations.

    He also had to buy a tux-- necessary for shooting weddings around here. There's the dry cleaning charge every time he shoots a wedding.

    Then there's all the knowledge... you have to know how to pose the hands and the toes and the chin. THAT'S what you're paying for when you hire a studio-- the know how that differentiates their pictures from those of the amateurs. Amateurs can take the occasional magnificent photos, but wedding photographers HAVE to get ALL the important shots right evry single time-- there are no "redos" for the important shots. And he hopefully does it while being unobtrusive.

    Peter doesn't handle the business end of it-- putting together the packages, deciding what comes with what, and when it's due and where it gets delivered and what it all costs, but that's another headache the studio owner deals with.

    Peter has also shot a number of weddings as a photojournalist-- he takes the candids while the other guy on the gets the standard shots. So, for example, Peter will get the mom with tears in her eyes as the bride and dad dance.

    That same studio has the contract on the yearbook pictures for a number of local public and private high schools-- that's how Peter started working with them. They also cover little league baseball and soccer leagues for a number of local towns.
     
  11. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    You can't just decide to be a wedding photographer. It is an art and science. You might just as easily decide to be a portrait artist.
     
  12. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    The number of new photography businesses in general in our small area in the past five years is amazing! I would have never thought there would be enough clients for them all, but apparently I was mistaken. My friend decided "one day" to be a photographer with zero experience and was on location at an extremely wealthy person's estate within a few weeks. And, to be honest, I was a little surprised because I wasn't blown away (sorry, friend!). I think Facebook does wonders...
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Maithal...this would be a case of look before you leap. It is going to take an investment in equipment, advertising and time building a reputation . You'd be in competition with professional photographers who have the equipment, experience and know how. One good photo at one wedding does not a business make. Follow your heart, but learn the craft before you invest too much time or money.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Invest first and foremost in the training. See if you can work part time with a local studio, maybe doing lights at weddings. Pay careful attention to the poses, to the way the photographers deal with the many people, to the standard shots, and so on.

    As with teaching, photography is equally large parts skill and education.
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Take some classes. If you decide that photography is a passion of yours, after you've gotten in some classes and practice, try to get an assistant job at a studio or even as a free assistant for the experience. If you decide that photography is not for you, at least your family photos will be very nice.
     
  16. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    Wedding photography is an extremely important part of any wedding. Most couples spend a lot of time finding the best photographer. This is a competitive market and would require your full time attention. Between meeting with clients, shooting photos, possible website attention, and editing photos which can be the most time consuming part... you will also be teaching? There are people who go to school for photography, get degrees in photography and aren't as successful as they hoped (or to support themselves). This seems like a big gamble and big investment.

    Like someone else said... think before you leap!
     
  17. Dynamite Boys

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    I love photography and dabble in it on the side. I have taken senior pictures of several of my friends children. For me, that's as far as I will think about going until I am much more confident. I think about all the details of a wedding and it makes my head spin! Senior pictures are fun - the clients are excited about trying new poses and you can take them over if you mess up. To me a wedding would cause so much stress that I'm not into it - I have a friend who is AMAZING! Anyway - I'd start by dabbling in baby and senior photos - build a portfolio and reputation and then start looking into weddings. Another thought is - if you can find a professional photographer who is looking for a backup photographer you can always start there!
     
  18. mshdb2002

    mshdb2002 Rookie

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    I too love photography and it is a huge hobby of mine. I have taken pictures of famiy members and their special moments..until 4 years ago I had never done a wedding. Since then I have only done 2 wedding one was for a friend of my dh and the other was for my cousin. Both weddings went off without a hitch and both couples were extremely pleased with my photos and encouraged me to start a business. I was asked yesterday by my aunt to do the photos for her stepsons wedding in September, but I had to turn it down as it is the week before my brother/sil's baby is due and I don't want to be that far from home if she should go into labor :)

    That being said, wedding photography is a VERY stressful, as you want to make sure you get all of the photos the couple wants as well as the photos they didn't think of. It is way to stressful for me to consider doing it as a supplemental income....to me the stress takes the fun out of my hobby!

    Good LUCK with what ever you decide!
     
  19. GoehringTeaches

    GoehringTeaches Comrade

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    My good friend does photography and just recently started a business. She will NOT do weddings though. She said brides are too demanding. She much prefers to photograph children!
     
  20. Kindergarten31

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    I echo what everyone else has said. We had some close family friends who were wedding photographers for 30 years. The amount of equipment they had was unbelieveable and that is part of the reason their photos were so spectacular. He had so many cameras, lights of all kinds, rugs and dropcloths, backdrops. He developed his own photos. He had a huge portfolio of all the different kinds of wedding poses and you could chose all the ones you wanted. I think if someone wanted a wedding photographer with one camera who develops the pictures at Walgreens, they could just have a friend do it. No offense meant.
     
  21. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Perhaps you could intern as an assistant with a photographer?
     
  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Another thing to consider is the amount of time it takes to edit photos, create albums, etc. A friend of mine is a wedding photographer, and for each wedding he does, he spends another 40 hours editing, etc. This doesn't include several pre-wedding consultations, etc. Could be possible if you do one per month?

    Yeah, there have been some pretty sobering posts here, which are good thoughts to consider - expense, time, etc. I like the ideas people have posted about "trying it" in some small form and seeing what it involves, and whether you like it. Asking to shadow someone you know for a particular wedding may be helpful. Even internships are usually reserved for people who have gone through school, or otherwise been educated and offer something of value to the photographer training the intern.

    In short, it could be awesome, but be ready for the long road :).
     
  23. MuggleBug

    MuggleBug Companion

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    If you just want to get your feet wet, you can just advertise for some amateur photography. My DH took photos for one of his friend's wedding. It was a tiny wedding and they didn't care to spend $$ on photography. DH took about 300 pictures and edited them in Photoshop. His friend paid him $75. He's also taken photos for things like local dog shows, etc. It's obviously not a business venture with him, but rather a nice way to practice photography and make a little extra spending money until he decides (if he does) to pursue it further.
     
  24. webmistress

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    I have studied photography seriously for a few years, collaborate with a bunch of successful professionals, and worked as a 2nd shooter for a wedding photographer. Many here have brought up good points. Wedding photog is not for the faint of heart and not something you do without a lot of education, training, money, talent, and equipment. Quality equipment will be in the tens of thousands. Photography is not as easy as it looks.

    I take a few concepts such as Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO speed and study those months at a time. I'm proud that I can shoot in Manual mode where I control Aperture and shutter speed. I still know nothing about metering, Active D lighting, White balance, how to focus my camera and so on. Yet people say they would pay for my photos. But I know that there are a million things I have to learn.
    In order to learn, you have to take the camera out of Auto mode.

    Printing is also difficult for me because you need to understand how to print high quality photos in large sizes which will show errors you may not see on your computer screen.

    Photography is very difficult and like someone mentioned it's an art and science. You really need to understand math, distance, how light travels, types of lenses, etc.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Agreed. Aside from our cars and our home, the most expensive thing we (technically anyway) own is all that photography equipment. If the house were ever robbed, forget the electronics or my jewelry box, the thing to grab would be the cameras and lenses and flashes and stuff.

    As to the technical side of things, Peter has spent years learning how to balance all those variables. He goes to Nikon school in NYC almost every year to learn more about his craft. He can talk incessently about apeture and ambient lighting and a million other variables that must allign in order to get the pictures he wants. He's like a sponge; he'll talk to everyone and anyone he sees with a decent camera (So we've lost a bit of time every time we've gone to Disney as he chats with the Photopass photographers.) And I'm on a first name basis with a number of people at the camera store he uses; they call whenever something comes in they think he'll be interested in.

    "Not for the faint of heart" was a good way to put it.
     
  26. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    It's sad that digital photography has allowed the general public to forget all of these things to a degree. While digital does make some things easier, you still need to be a good photographer.

    I will say that getting decent shots for personal use is a lot easier, because I snap 10 pictures of the same thing, and one of them is bound to turn out okay :). One thing I've learned is that if the lighting conditions are right and you can get as close as you want, it's a lot easier. As soon as the light isn't ideal, a TON of information starts to come into play.

    I guess I'm saying I'm grateful for my DSLR because I've taken some pretty awesome photos, and even done a photo shoot for a family that turned out pretty good, but I know enough to know how much I really don't know, which is quite a lot :).
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The problem with weddings, though, is that they frequently take place in churches and temples-- not typically very well lit. Neither are reception halls.

    And that lots of celebrants (not to mention the happy couple) have an issue with a photographer being "as close as they want."
     
  28. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    My MIL dabbles in photography, and is actually very good at it. I know for a fact that her digital Hasselblad (sp?) was in the range of $5,000--and it was used and damaged when she bought it. She has done weddings before, and yikes...they are stressful, pressure filled situations that I would personally want no part of as an amateur.

    I would suggest starting out with less must-have situations. Take pictures of a friend's children. Your aunt's family pictures. Maybe some action shots at a school function (if you have permission of course). Build your way up.

    I have a friend who has her own photography business, and is so good at it. Start googling websites and getting ideas. Here is her website, and her blog. She posts a lot of pics on her blog.

    Oh, and I think Ms. Jasztal dabbles in photography also, from what I see on Facebook.
     
  29. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Very good points. That and that the fact that there are no redo opportunities!
     
  30. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Amateurs such as myself whine about how expensive it is just to do as a hobby. My camera costs $700, but I've been longing for a lens that costs more than the camera, plus an external flash which would be a few hundred. My equipment is basic/for beginners and would not qualify to be used at a wedding or many other events unless I'm just shooting for fun--which is all I want to do. I've realized I'm not cut out for writing contracts, meeting with clients, posing people, etc

    I want to take more classes and go to workshops, but that costs money too. Hopefully I'll be able to do such soon. It takes many years of studying to get a good grip on things. As well as many years of taking bad looking photos. :D

    "Not for the faint of heart"...yeah, I say that because after working as 2nd shooter at weddings, and I'm sure your husband has stories, but the wedding party is stressed, nervous, and sometimes just downright mean. Then comes the drinking/alcohol. Lots of fussy kids etc. Your personality has to be strong and you have to remain in control of the wedding no matter what. I'd never attempt to be a lead wedding photog, but I do hope Maithal doesnt feel discouraged.
     
  31. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    The bolded part is exactly how I feel. And that is so true about the general public. It's like teaching..everyone was once a student so they think teaching is easy. Everyone has a camera and has taken nice photos so in general people think photography is easy.

    Lighting is definitely the hardest thing for me to grasp, and it's of course what really makes the photo. I remember someone stating that he read books on lighting for years before he felt comfortable with it. I've recently been able to pay more attention to the lighting in my house and sunlight coming through the windows so I can take non-flash photos of my baby and make the photos look soft and natural, and not have the hard flash.
    One step at a time:D
     
  32. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    And don't forget about 'bridezillas':eek:hmy:
     
  33. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    It's quite an undertaking, but can be done of course. I took a photography class in college & I really liked it...to do as a hobby! I remember it was when that store called Fedco was still in business & my parents got me this $600 Canon camera & all the other supplies (I don't know if digital cameras were even out back then). Wow, that was in the mid to late 90s!

    I wish you the best if you go through with it.
     
  34. MissWull

    MissWull Cohort

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    When I interned for a photography studio, before graduating, the owner of the studio used to do wedding photography but she said she got out of it because brides were just too much. They expect perfection and nothing else. They were very picky about everything...and it just got to be too stressful. So you would have to be willing to put up with the attitude/personality of the bride and I would assume whoever is paying for the photos...along with dishing out the money for the business, and basically a lot of self-promoting..although that aspect seems to be easier these days.

    Good Luck!
     
  35. bros

    bros Phenom

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    You'd want a DSLR camera and a photo printer w/ photo paper, using services like Walmart and other photo developers is usually not as good.
     
  36. Vince

    Vince Rookie

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    This is SO true.

    Yup, and everyone with a nice camera thinks they are a photographer.

    There is SO much more to it than that.

    I guess I am the opposite of some of you. I am a trained photographer who has lost business in this recession and now I am a substitute teacher to supplement my income.

    The weddings I was doing were the low to middle range ones, $999-$2000 and that market has all but dried up. There are so many "photographers" out there these days that will do a wedding for $500, that the people who were willing to pay $2000 are now wondering why?

    That $500 guy or gal will shoot for 10 hours, give all images on a DVD and the client thinks they are getting a great deal. It isn't until they get the photos back that they MIGHT understand the difference. There will be 2 shots out of 10 that are really good, and they figure, oh, I guess these didn't "turn out."

    That photographer has no relationships with professional labs, no wholesale access to albums, no insurance, on equipment and liability. What if someone trips over your camera bag or tripod? Do you have insurance to pay for their injuries?

    Photographing weddings is NOT an easy job and not something to be taken lightly. I have a degree in communications with an emphasis on photography and I interned with two different wedding photographers before shooting alone. I have at least $15,000 invested in my equipment and since going digital, I have upgraded my cameras 3 times.

    I could go on and on about this, but suffice to say, people like you are what is killing the professional photography business. My friends who are doing well are the ones charging $6,000-10,000 for wedding photography. That level of client still understands that you get what you pay for and are willing to pay it. And like I said, the clients who want to spend less see the $500 guy and figure, hey, why not?

    I'm just curious why photography? Why not plumbing? Why not carpet laying? Why not masonry work? Is it because you think photography is easy?

    THINK AGAIN
     
  37. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm always somewhat bemused by randomly resurrected threads....:whistle:
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    How funny-- couldn't the same be said of teaching as a supplemental career??

    As a number of us have mentioned in this thread, professional photography is a whole lot more complicated than getting a camera and pointing it.

    While I'm certainly not a photographer, my husband works 4 or 5 weddings a year with a local studio. (Yep, he supplements his teaching salary. By working with a PROFESSIONAL studio.) That number has decreased because of the economy; people simply are not spending as much on photography as they used to.

    I agree that you most often get what you pay for. It's not about the one lucky shot that any amateur lucks into on occasion, it's about having the knowledge and the experience to consistently produce quality results-- THAT'S what you're paying for (or taking a chance with by not paying for it.)

    But I don't think a couple of people wanting to take a shot at a supplemental career in photography is the downfall of the professional photography business.
     
  39. Speechy

    Speechy Comrade

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    Nov 9, 2011

    Seriously? :dizzy:

    The OP expressed an interest in photography and possibly starting her own business. Yeah, she obviously hasn't thought the entire thing through or planned out every single detail but that's because... it's an idea.

    Sorry, but your post leads me to think you are a tad bitter because your business didn't work out. That doesn't mean the OP's won't either. And it certainly doesn't mean she thinks it is easy.
     
  40. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I doubt that the OP started such a business anyway...
     
  41. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Nov 9, 2011

    No she hasn't. She's still teaching kindergarten. :)
     

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