Q&A with Tamara Lackey Part 2


Children's Portrait Photography


Lesson Info

Q&A with Tamara Lackey Part 2

Starting today about business and we're going to talking about the building up a business and marketing and branding and pricing and all that sort of thing, but before we jump into that, I just wanted to do a little bit of an overview of everything we did yesterday. I know we had some questions about what happened yesterday, thie joy and I tweeted thiss morning join I were watching the re watch a little bit this morning and because we were talking through how everything had, like, nothing was where it was supposed to be, and we couldn't find this so we couldn't find that we're trying to show easy, simple lighting set up, and it was anything but andi, I actually got a compliment about how great it was that we showed how difficult it could be until you have your letting set up, and then how much better it looks afterwards, which was like, yeah, we planned that way did not plan that, but I'm glad it worked out that way because if you remember from the to which is yesterday, like, eight ye...

ars ago, um, when we were trying to get everything in place and set it up, and we were basically competing with e video lights and I was, you know, talking about the fact that if you want to get your lighting right, you have to either add light or subtract light to be able to kind of even everything out, but what we're finding is shooting with all the exterior video lights I'm trying to correct for that when you didn't have enough in place to correct for that ends up causing all kinds of issues that major one thing is the shadowing that was going on with a light being blocked by a light, but the other thing was the gray look, the gray look of the white seamus and I want my white seems to be white like that's kind of the point well, boy, I'm using a white seamless and I can adjust it I can make it great and make it dark to make it even beijing feeling if I want teo, but if what I'm going for is a white seamless, I wanted to look like it's a white seamless so what? We ended up discovering when we put everything in place and got all the westcott gear out and together and in place was what a dramatic difference that made when we looked at the stills later and it was a white seamless and we had catch lights, it was a clean break of your subject for the backdrop on everything looked pretty good, so the interesting thing to know is there's always a lot of chaos going on here on the set and especially we're doing that lighting set up it was like chaos times one hundred but while we were watching it back we were like, this is kind of instructional because it's a very physical representation of just how darn difficult it is to light well andi why? If you bring in the right gear you can do a great job and very simply do a great job so hopefully that explains some things in terms of the chaos um I know that we had some questions about yesterday that we're coming in. Um we can go to that and make sure we answer anything with lighting oh, just specifically to lighting or what? Yesterday. Okay, well, a lot of people had a question about style izing your clients they came in yesterday and the day before so nicole wanted to know how do you feel about all the different colors and patterns of people's outfits and do you try to do you try to tell them beforehand to wherever? Okay, so I think that's ah, great question. I definitely talked tio what we can do to make sure that we're capturing more of the child so what that means, though, is that sometimes certain children have a very distinct style clothing that's very them and some of that style of them is patterned or tied hide or striped or a tight eye with a tie or whatever the case may be if that's who they are then I don't want to say take that off and put a shirt that you would never wear just so my image comes out great like my image is going to come out great if it really represents this child I can certainly give suggestions about clothing that I know photographs better in general if there's not a distinct style that that child wants to bring in andi and if my sophie is still listening she has a very distinct style that I would not want to take away she loves barclays and scarfs and once octo look this color on one sock to look that color and you know she mixes matches hats and this and if she were to walk in the room and you see six or seven different colors going on and nothing really matching if I'm trying to a simple clean white seamless portrait it's looks like lewis is going to work but that's her so you would just to make it I work for her on dh she looked so beautiful in all those clothings what about families wearing so families you know the biggest thing I want about families that talk about how I want them group together and I want them to be to look like a one you know and what I mean by that is I want them to look like they all go together and I want to symbolize that that group is got one spirit in many respects and and that doesn't mean that they're all wearing the same clothing or it's matchy matchy but it's nice if you could do some sort of coordination so they're coordinating the certain way because if I have an image of eleven people say a very large family and everyone's wearing tones of maroons or purples or something in that family and one isolated in vigil was wearing green and they're all grouped together that's going to look like that person doesn't fit and I don't want that so we do talk a little bit about that upfront like how that that's going to make a difference if we're in the same family? Certainly just general rules for clothing I like people to wear things that a little more timeless they don't date our photos and allow them to come in with a very current hip style or brand that within two years it's going to be like oh yeah, that was tiffany singing at the mall or whatever, you know I don't want it to be so datable or whatever it is you know uh so let's dio the beatles you know, beatles air like every decade right? Did you know that they the whole itunes thing like I saw hilarious turner about how the beatles aaron itunes now and like, who are these four guys from liverpool who just cleaned up on all these record sales suddenly but yeah, I mean, you don't want something that that is exactly that that dates to your times you are makes this image anything less than timeless. So that's why I like to stay away from logos or brands or things like that and then, but as to whether or not it has to be a solid colored clothing or bright patterns or this and that I actually love a lot of color and a lot of life, the image that we're using as the as the placeholder for this class now she's wearing pink and purple and black boots and a blue skirt and a purple and pink umbrella mints like tons of color and tons of going on and it works because it matches that lively, excited feel okay, and you're okay with that family and all of the I loved everything they were wearing yeah, I thought they did a great job kind of style izing how everybody look together thank you so tomorrow I have a question from a girly girl thirty six yesterday when we were talking about setting up a studio yes, and that question was what type of gallery or display of your work do you have in your studio so in my studio, we have a combination of a lot of products that I want to show and sow um, which is framed pieces? I don't have anything that showing that's not framed no excuse me, that's not true, but I do have a couple additional products that actually don't come with frames, so talk about that a second, but I don't have, like, floppy prints hanging out anywhere, um, if I'm going to show anything in relation to an unframed print it's going to be a canvas rap or it's going to be a standout on a standout mount of some sort of thing, but the everything I want to show the difference between how a print can look very finished behind, like the right kind of glass it if it makes sense that print the right size, matt, the frame, etcetera. So in in my studio, you walk through and you see combinations and several images that go really well together and you see just a big, bold print as it is and then there's canvas pieces, and andi didn't just kind of walk through and see the whole look and feel of everything, and I want to be able to sit down with a client and say, you know, I really see this as a very cool six siri's across on the machine, I mean and we get walking looking and, you know, just the presentation of that I think I've seen other set ups where people don't show a lot they're just kind of flicked things online or show this image or that image, and I think you can convey a lot by showing it that way, but the physical presence of it is a big deal cool, and we'll talk to that probably later as well as we as you meet with the family. Yes, sparkling eyes would like to know a few prefer paper fabric backgrounds in your studio and what are the pros and cons of both? Uh, I used both paper and fabric backgrounds. I mostly use seamless paper and I used to use kind of more of a draping cloth really initially, and then we just wash it every so often, but with the volume of shoots that we do is a studio that just becomes not an efficient way teo to keep up with it. So seamus papers great because you can I do hope into shoots to use as much as possible cut it, roll it, keep going on dso I like thie ease ability of that on dh what we do when we pull it and cut it is take the make sure we give big chunks of that to the kids that come through a studio and they laid down on that put your arms out your legs out we'll draw around you and it could be a lot of fun. It's it's, hard to watch all that paper be tossed up and thrown in the recycling bin s so there's a lot of things you could do later from arts and crafts perspective with the scene this paper that I like we do have however, droppings and fabrics that will clip and put up on dh shoot against but for me that's always with a good distance from the subject I'm not really a big fan of the a person right up against, like, a fabric background usually okay, maybe one more question. Yes. From yesterday, um kind of a simple one, but, um, somebody in the chat room had not seen you use a gold reflector. Um, what is your, uh when would you use the gold versus they white or the silver? So on day one, which was actually a pre pre tape shoot where we did out of bainbridge island, I did use a cold reflector on, and I didn't do that here. I don't normally use a gold reflector that often, but that was actually a great opportunity use one because it was we were shooting in a very cold environment, it was very rainy and the tones of the color of the light that we're working with the natural light was very cool, and by that I mean temperature in terms of kelvin temperature, and I want to combat that by warming it up. So the gold reflector was actually perfect for that. If I had been shooting outside in the morning, it was very yellowy sunshine and the color balance was a lot more warm or especially in the evening where it gets so warm that we're talking about going oranges sort of light um then I have been a color reflector would have been too much would've been tungsten e looking on, and so I would have wanted to avoid it in that case. Great. All right, any other questions from you guys about yesterday or lighting or anything like that? I just want to say that the fact that you can hold a reflector and take picture at the same time, it's really awesome, because when I was trying to do that, I just I found that, like, the reflector wasn't hitting the right spot, and I'm like trying to balance it, and it was very difficult. Well, the other thing to consider when you're working with reflectors as they come in all different sizes, so if you find that one like the one we're using a straight was ysl. Big old one and that's great when you're bouncing light back to a bunch of people, but you might want to invest in a smaller one that's, easier to kind of finesse if you're going to be shooting as well. Okay, so good. So we're gonna move on to business, okay, who wants to get down to business? Everybody on. Okay, so there was so much that we could talk about when it comes to business, and what I want to dio is start with a general overview of what is involved with the business of photography like that, general. So we're going to start their, um I would love to go around the room, have each one of you say, just off hand, one of the things that you think is most critical tto learn about business, like what you think is the one thing you'd most want to know about business starting with you, allison henry goodness, um, my biggest thing, I think, is balancing it all, like just trying to figure out that we've talked about a bunch of times this teasers, but today, really talking about, like, the life and business balance? Um, also, I've been looking into studio spaces and things like that, and, you know, like when you really need to hire somebody and really need the extra help I feel like I just don't have time for everything dad I don't have time to even be a mom with five kids much less have a business five kids I need five years five years everybody like tracking that I have five kids noticed but it's a good it's you know, people like the shocking on then they also don't you know they go oh, she has kids okay that's why she's slacking on business you know do you feel the client's give a little bit break when you kinda remind him of that no no no no that's not right don't okay, but it's okay because they're paying for the service and so I need teo you know? So anyway gotcha. Okay, check I've got the same thing with the life work balance I'd find myself running back to the computer constantly and missing out on the family time or staying up until three and um and then having to still wake up early and have no sleep, huh? Uh and the other thing is what? How many images you give back to clients, huh? Fight back said yesterday quite a few cause I always thought I give too many can put the parents in the situation that it's overwhelming and they don't know which images to pick out of the whole bunch, right? So I'd like to know about that about marrying that. Okay. Yeah, and I want to take a look like out of, say, a hundred photos or three hundred photos, which one was if my selection? Yeah, I chose them. I also want to do a little shout out to sarah. She came here from dubai and came along with her son who got very sick. Her little baby son on dh he's been to a hospital, right? Yeah, he went to the doctor and go antibiotics. Yeah, much better, but we saw him. He looked the epitome of sick with like, his eyes going as nose going and he's prying eyes says lips out and you got a quick fate case of food poisoning while you're here. Welcome to america first first I had models just in case, but I don't need it. Yeah, like so she was trapped in the mic with a little sick back justin pace on day one with her son terribly sick and oh, my gosh, yeah, so that's a lot. So congratulations on making it here and staying here. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, two, I have two big questions. And one I think the internet will appreciate because I'm the only one here that lives in a cold climate so figured that out, huh? Yeah, interesting on and so I think that I might have a different problem and they would have is the fact that I am hopping busy in the summer and in the fall, but in the winter, how do you like? Because I don't I don't really like shooting studio, I'm on location photographer how do you how do you keep busy and convince people that they should still do photography in the winter? Yes, when it's like thirty below and a snow storm and like, how do you keep your business viable all year round? Yeah, well, it's thirty below, often in north carolina, so I couldn't I couldn't really know that, so I just like that's what that's I think is my biggest one of my biggest challenges. Yeah, um and my other question would be for me, it's really important that I keep my photography for the world because I want to make sure that every family, depending on their, uh, depending on their income and whatnot, is able to have good family photos kind of still want to make a living out of it. You and I would like to be able to afford a good family photos too, right? So all right, how do you is there a balance for that? How do you yes, how do you make that work? Yeah I want to answer your first question now because I don't know how normally that would come up in the rest of our conversation, which is about the ridiculously cold weather climate is aye, the first thing that comes to my mind, especially if you feel like you're not that interested in studio shooting, would be getting really good about shooting clients, homes. Andi I loved doing that, but I find a lot of clients aren't interested in that, like I usually have to talk people in, like I have three clients that would have just booked in the last week that I had to talk into, like, you know, really your home will be great, like, it doesn't matter that you have a mess in your kitchen. I don't care. You have to shoot in your kitchen, right whatever way. Consume your bath. We could shoot your back. I love you, it's, but it's really hard to convince people because I do a lot of like, uh, like family shoots right at all to convince someone with three kids that their house is great to do a photo in even though it might be a mess. I would honestly, you know, if I heard that it's a if I were to hear that his resistance and I knew that was something I was wanted to dio I was interested in doing and I knew was vital to my business to be able to go year round, I would make my intention to package that presentation about shooting in your home as inviting as possible that would be something I would sit down, I would say how can I make this possum? And for you, I would suggest doing a little video creating little video of how fun it could be work in someone's home and go ahead and put that out there like the resistance is someone says my house, the mess so in your video you walk in someone like my half the mass and you maybe do shots of like dishes in the sink and stuff on the floor and a wet towel here and mom like god, don't make me do this too don't make me clean up to and then you show what you make of it and how that's like so irrelevant to what you're here for and you're not judging them. You don't care of their houses clean because you're not going to bother shooting the whole house you're using various locations to get your stuff done and most of it's not in the frame and do kind of quirky sort of fun video in anybody that's going to drawn to your style of shooting and your energy is also going to think that's fun and it's gonna eliminate all that stress and worry that's a really good. Okay, thank goodness you're here. Cheese. Good, good. Good. Okay, yeah. That was somewhat the same issue in divide, but it's far too hot to go outside and get the pictures outside. He's gotta be indoors. The exact reverse. Okay. That's really helpful. Good. I'm so glad. All right, so we're done. That was day three. Thank you. Thank you. So I understand that it takes money to make money. Been hearing that for a long time. And I think it's really easy do in photography you can spend so much money on just like, why? Just walking out the door with equipment and lights and all that? Yeah, um, tamara, can you tell me about mean establishing and maintaining a low overhead? Yes, we're gonna talk about that a lot because I'm a huge believer that it doesn't matter how much revenue you have come in if you're not managing your expenses like and everything that you're pricing and selling should be in relation to what it's costing you and start to talk very much about that. My biggest question is about price points and how that relates to going after actually making a decent living doing this. Um, I'm kind of on the opposite side of the spectrum what nicky had shared in the sense that if I'm gonna do this, I want to make a good living off of it. I think she went way. Yeah, every family needs to be able to afford it, but like, I want to find those fifty tio two hundred families in my area and potentially long term elsewhere who are willing to drop thousands of dollars on a shoot, how do you target that market? I'm not talking to you, have they think he's like, let me just clarify that I wanted to get them. I would develop a promo card that says, we you dropped thousands of dollars on me that's all sense, if you will then called, yeah, it's got your website with a picture of you go like this, but seriously, it's, seriously, we're gonna talk about that from yeah, different strategy to go after that specific niche market and the way you market the way you brand in the way that you talked that yes, definitely, absolutely, because and I can say from experience, I grew up in a family where we never did one professional portrait ever anybody our family that I know I do think we did I think we got the school pictures you know but you know I'm not one professional session ever so it's not something that I grew up with like that was normal which is why I can still think like god photo sessions were kind of a weird thing here's my money captured my likeness you know? So I think if you start with that mindset that mindset doesn't value photography's art that mind said I was like why would I spend all that money? I have a camera so what you need to do is get in the mindset of like how can I perfect example or anybody else who grew up without that being kind of a day thing how can you speak to them in a way that makes them stop and say oh, I get it okay, yeah I'll pay for that because that matters to me and so that's a lot of we're gonna talk about in terms of just branding and also I think that's relative to if you're just starting out in the business I mean where do you enter and do you advise entering at a lower price point working, working, working and then go in and I'm not saying you jump in straight at the high high end yeah there's definitely strategy involved with where you enter and where your goal is to get to and what's your thoughts on that. My thoughts initially the advice I received but when I first started out was to make sure I only raise my prices once a year and no more because it be confusing to my client said to be confusing to my system in terms of high tracked pricing. And I think I raised my prices twelve times my first year because we really quickly I started seeing how much work was going into this and how much of what I was making in terms of like the time reward effort was not even on the charts here was not equating and but I had to start from a place certainly where I wanted there to be some value of my work on dh. I wanted to have a session fee of some sort so that we could start out. I think my first session fees were like seventy five dollars and a hundred dollars, seventy five dollars in the studio, a hundred dollars in location. And that changed within six weeks. I think when I started saying, oh, my god, people are actually paying on dh then and then it just kept kind of going up until it reached a point for me that my session fee for me does not represent what kind of sales I'm gonna do at the end of the year? My my session fee is more about like I want it to be high enough that people recognize there's a value here I want them to understand that this is a non refundable retainer retainer on services so whether if you get sick or scheduling comes up or this and that, um ok, well, we'll do it again another time but it's not like oh, never mind we're done as you were talking yesterday about the buy in from your clients, I thought about that because if a person is willing to write a check or swipe a card for a significant amount of money, yeah, they're going to have so much more buying to making this work and you know if the baby gets cranky or whatnot, ok let's let's wait fifteen minutes versus let's call it a round yes, and I'm also of the mindset that I don't ever want my clients to feel pressured you know that? And so they tell me they're not not sure this is the right day or someone I immediately see okay let's let's put the counters to its next because even though you may have waited six or nine months to get this shoot, I'm not going to make you wait again that's ridiculous so every shoot I have scheduled out part of why my schedules the way it is and part of why I have a wait wait time like that is that when that person is scheduled there's a couple times around there for whether sickness you know, scheduling airs whatever I don't ever want them to feel like I'm like, you know, like, I want to build a connection in a friendship in a relationship again, there's nothing I want that's adversarial from my clients and everyone's kind of different this way I definitely have people, you know, great, you know, business minded people say I put it out there, I tell him that's that and that's there's, nothing else but that, um that would never be my style because it's not my personality and I wouldn't receive that well, so I certainly wanna wouldn't wantto put that message out, okay, I have two questions, but they kind of go together, okay? Um my I am petrified of failure by the failure. Yes, I'm a perfectionist and I just quit my job so like I'm ready to go, I need to move. So if anyone on the internet has a good place to move to you let me know and you're looking for man tweeted to me, not yet wait, what if you know any good one e but so I just quit my job and I want to make this work okay and this is what I've wanted for my whole life and like it has to work this is my passion I couldn't fail a little bit but it needs it needs to work okay so how do you be successful in a bad economy and go into a business starting a business when people are so hesitant to spend money as well is also like with sales like I wish that I could just go out shoot give everything away free and be like yeah, this is great do you really wish that kind of I mean I wish that I could give like if somebody can't afford something I wish I could give it to them like and I feel like I don't want to be pushy in sales yeah yeah yeah and I don't really know howto get clients to buy more without being pushy yeah I definitely think it's a fine line that is such a nauseating feeling with like and you also here's your new you know yeah, I get that but the idea of I want to go out and and and that might absolutely be your nature and what's true for you but I wonder to stadium like I want to go out and shoot for free and just give it to everybody at the root of that do you feel like that's a value on your work and its appreciation of your efforts, and it makes you feel like I'm doing this, this and this, I'm pouring my heart and soul have so much passion in this and it's there's a there's, something in place where I can see, you know, actual tactical value to it, like I'm paying my studio off, and I'm paying for this equipment, and I'm doing things I'm I love and it's allowing me to support myself to do it, maura and longer and better and my toughest critic, so I don't, but still you want to pay your rent? Well, yeah, but when I look at me, I'm like, okay, I really like this shot, but I think if I had and I don't know, maybe I'm alone in this, but I feel like if I had all the money in the world, which I do not, but if I felt like I had all the money in the world, I would still want to feel like I'm conducting some I'm doing work I love I'm pouring my heart and soul into it, there's nothing. I feel like I'm skimping on yeah and there's a value received in that which in our mom and our society, the currency, is the okay job well done you know and there's the appreciation the thanks and all that sort of other thing but I like the fact that there's a value transit station there and I actually personally feel good about paying for things that I value like I feel like yes I want to pay for that because this is really helping me you know I totally agree with that yeah like I say like I really want every family like I hate the idea of like a mom and dad they have a brand new baby and only being able to afford to photos of their baby like and having to put like the fact that like we can't afford any more than this we're already stretching ourselves to have this so to me I have a really hard time with that yeah but at the same time I'm not free because then there's like it's like you're and maybe that here take everything that I have in life just taken you know what I mean? I think that was more like what I was trying to say that without it it would just feel like garbage I don't know why but I wouldn't think a girl because what I've done with my parts package which I need to totally redo I thought starting up okay I'm gonna have my set price for the shoot today which includes two free images. Additionally, each image is so much more all of the photos for so much I don't have, like a package where it's like a five foot by six it's an eight by ten and a canvas, right? I just say each photos this much for the actual on a disk, right? All your photos, they find people here in the think we'll get all of my photos are by that so it's, sort of a way that I guarantee everyone buys all the images. But I know it's a wrong way of doing it it's hard, but it's the same with me like my packages, I don't have I don't sell anything out card I other than campuses, I really convinced people to buy campuses other than that, like my package is five hundred fifty dollars plus gs t and you get all your images on it on the desk like all the like you're twenty to thirty images that I have edited in the letter, my like shots and that's what you get so five hundred dollars, fifty five fifteen what was your session? D that's that's? That is everything. Everything. How much time would you say is your average probably started? That is eight hours I would say, between started finish. Yeah like the market response probably email responses here in there I wouldn't say like my wouldn't really include building my website and that kind of stuff under there I know I should but like my actual time in editing talk to lie in for the prince no ordering the princess I just give him the disk and they do oh that's right that's right yeah right yeah, so that it takes and for me because I have kids tio it's almost like that really sure I'm not making more money on it but at the time of the ordering and being able to get out of my house and go and have a session with the more they go over their prints and not having a child care for that and all that stuff ok is like okay, that might be worth it for me when you get when you take out take out business whatsoever and dollars in revenue when you sell that product when people say yes wanted by every dvd or city of seven fifty what's your feeling are you like sweet that's awesome likes I'm like yeah I'm her fifty dollars for eight hours work that's all oh okay. All right, well let's talk about that morning second and the reason I asked you that is gonna have talk to people before when they have on their pricing list then they sell it like they only got the dvd I didn't know your price. No, I'm like well, okay, baby, I don't need money, I'm so rolling butt and honestly, we're going to go over all this sort of stuff. But, um, at the end of the day, like, how do you feel like we're talking about money and getting paid and it's a level of appreciation or reward, but like there's, this this is thing in society that money is evil and money's not evil, it's, totally dimensions and it's not that it's the intention behind it are the things that people might do that is, is not true to them because they want it. That's the part that gets really tricky and weird and quirky and disturbing. It's not money, you know. And just because I don't want to come off like cold hearted with my earlier beats, good that's not good, you did it's like, did you have to make an income doing this to support a family and all that? So how about you make I want those clients to okay, I don't have a job, remember?

Class Description

Celebrated children's photographer Tamara Lackey leads a special worldwide workshop on the magic, art, and business of child portrait photography. Take a live, front-row seat with Tamara as she works with a wide range of kids. You'll watch as she works to put them at ease, gets them laughing, and coaxes out their natural personality for fun poses and great family portraits. More importantly, you'll be part of an ongoing weekend conversation with fellow photographers around the world about how to grow your own successful portrait photography business, while balancing personal and professional lives.