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Timing the Sessions
It's important to note that "birth" photography doesn't usually mean documenting the actual birth, but instead providing a series of portraits at the hospital or birthing location shortly after the birth. (Many hospitals do not even allow photographers in the delivery room, so be careful about what you promise clients.) Often, photographers try to time these sessions within a few hours of the birth, or perhaps the next day. This differs from the timing of a newborn session, which typically occurs a week to two weeks postpartum.
Packaging the Sessions for Return Visits
The birth sessions fit well into ongoing packages, with display options including collages and albums that can be added to as the child grows. They also serve as another key bonding element to help a photographer establish a stronger relationship with the clients. You can plug such birth sessions into a program that might also include a maternity session, a standard newborn session, and baby portrait sessions at regular intervals.
That's how PPA member Pete Wright, M.Photog.Cr., of PW Photography in Richmond, VA, uses birth sessions: to deepen his relationship with his clients and to add another element to their growing collection of imagery. Pete created a structure that incentivizes clients to return regularly during the maternity period and baby's first year. The ultimate product is an album, and parts of the process include a maternity session, a hospital visit/birth session, a newborn session seven to 10 days later, another early baby session about six weeks after that, and then follow-on baby sessions at six, nine and 12 months.
"The key is that we try to get two or three sessions in, as well as the preview appointments, before the baby hits eight weeks old. That's the honeymoon phase with a new baby when parents are crazy in love with him/her to the point where they'll spend a lot more," says Wright. "We wanted to offer a different option with some incentives to come back in. It makes our customers more proactive about coming back so they can finish their book."
Wright says that his system (which includes birth photography) "trains clients to keep returning at key points in their family's growth, and that process may continue long after they're finished with the baby book. Some keep returning for years as their children grow!"
Is birth photography for you? Do you approach it differently? Share below!
ALL IMAGES Â© PW PHOTOGRAPHY
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IMAGE Â© JOHNSTONE STUDIOS
When it comes to holiday promotions, response is often contingent upon getting clients in the spirit well in advance of the holidays. Key to generating holiday enthusiasm in, say, July is good imagery. After all, you are running a photography business, and the images should ultimately speak for themselves.
The first thing you should consider is the color scheme. Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, of Forester Photography in Madison, WV, says that she's experimented with different color combinations, but nothing sells quite like red and green. "When I'm putting together my card designs to show clients, I experiment with different colors, but I always have a red and green option," she says.
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Image Â©Forester Photography
Building awareness of your destination photography services comes down to good communication, both online and word of mouth. "The best thing I did to build my business was to network. Most of my inquiries come from referrals," notes Kenny Kim, an internationally traveled destination wedding photographer. He even invests in staying a few extra days at the various locations so he can network and cultivate relationships with the locals.
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So how do today's leading wedding photographers accomplish this feat, both during engagement sessions and on the wedding day?
Get to Know Them & Their Story--PPA member Anna Pociask of Alabama starts the process by getting to know her clients and their story. "I don't make it about me; I turn things around and make it about them," she says. "I ask them lots of questions. How did you meet? When did you start dating? What is your proposal story? What do you enjoy doing together? It all begins from discovering their story."
Use Their Natural Emotions--Pociask stresses the importance of an engagement session as a way of deepening her relationship with the clients and extending her coverage of their personal love story. She tries to turn the sessions into a fun date during which the couple can relax, let loose and have fun. "They're engaged, so there is already a lot of chemistry going on," she says. "I try to tap into that chemistry and encourage them to show their passion for each other. I like them to get close. I want them to feel like it's real."
Once she feels like the clients have broken through the initial stiffness that often accompanies a photo session, Pociask offers a little direction to optimize the images. She will place them in certain scenes with good lighting and a good background, and then encourage them to act naturally. "Usually they will start laughing and being cute together," she notes.
Break the Ice If Needed--If they're self-conscious or have trouble embracing the moment, Pociask uses her own outgoing personality to put them at ease. "I'm a people person, and I love to make my clients feel special and beautiful," she says. "If things are a little dry, I keep plunging in, just being my fun-loving self and doing whatever I can to bring out their personalities. And I don't stop until I break the ice."
Pociask has found that these techniques work both for an engagement session and for the portrait segment of a wedding. At a wedding, time is more of an issue and settings may be more limited, but the general principle of tapping into a couple's natural emotion holds true.
"So much of this process is finding ways to bring the love story out of the couple," says Pociask. "That means encouraging them to exhibit the love they already have for each other. If you can do that effectively, then the love story often unfolds in front of you."
ALL IMAGES Â© ANNA POCIASK PHOTOGRAPHY
Start from home. You don't need a large commercial studio to be taken seriously as a professional photographer; your home may offer everything you need. What's more, overwhelming data from the PPA Financial Benchmark Surveys shows that home-based studios enjoy a financial advantage over studios located in retail studio spaces due to lower overhead.
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