Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

 

Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

 

Lesson Info

Website Critique: Margaret Albaugh

Margaret's next, and Sara has a question. Yes Sara? Just a question about the separating of things. I even wonder about, does it make sense to have children, babies, maternity, and mean, so, I mean not children, families. They're all family, or is it confusing when it's all in one gallery? No, I think you can do, this is, and this is my personal opinion, like, I'm probably gonna get, like, eight million people telling me that like I'm completely wrong, and I might be. I don't know; I just feel like as, for me, as a consumer, I know I get confused if there's a lot of different surfaces going on at the same time. So I think that if you have, if you, if it's all family, then just have, yeah some, if you do birth, and then, in home newborn sessions. I think you can have all that with, with family sessions, for sure, and the homepage just needs to feature the work you like making the most because that's gonna draw in the most business. I have the hiccups. Anyone else? Go ahead honey. ...

Have you ever had to tell a student that that's not their passion, that something else is their passion, that they may be drawn to it 'cause they like a certain genre of photography, but realistically that their passion is, like you said, portraiture or what have you? No, I don't ever tell anyone what their passion is or isn't, but this has been an interesting two years for me, in terms of my teaching because this has been one hell of a year, or hell of a two years for me, personally, and so, a lot of students they're, have been wonderful, but they're, they're wonder program has kinda lapsed over longer than a year, but it's interesting that this was the year this happened, or this like year and a half, because a couple of my students have, have found themselves emotionally in a place where they don't wanna shoot right now, and I think that's good because it means that I can help them when they get through the emotional, whatever they're going through with their camera, and so, I have told two of my students that we're gonna take a break, and that we're gonna pick it up when they're ready to pick up their camera because the last thing I wanna do is force them to shoot 'cause it's gonna make them have even a worse relationship with their camera. A lot of times it has nothing to do with the camera. It has to do with, it always has to do with what's going on with them, right? They still love photography, but they're questioning, maybe their direction. I have two students where we started out with docu fam, and we are totally going in a different direction, and that's great, like, that's the thing people, like, they feel guilty, like, I had my last student I just had a meeting with was like, I just said, "Are you happy doing this right now," and she just, like, like, burst into tears. I was like, "Alright, we're taking a break," but I think she also felt guilty to say, "I don't know if I wanna do in home sessions," like she was letting me down. I was like, "What, no, now I'm gonna help you, like, do the other thing." The last student I was with in the home, we spent the whole two days making these awesome, documentary portraits with lights in the studio of teenagers, because she thinks that's where she wants to go, and so, I helped her learn how to use lights, and I taught her how to emotionally guide teenagers in the studio, and she made these amazingly, brilliant photos, and she's like, "I finally feel like I know where I'm supposed to be," and it took us two years. I've been working with her for two years, and finally, Michelle and I feel like she's on the right track. So, my job is not to judge or make someone do something if they're not happy with it, like, as, as their mentor, my job is simply to help guide them to a place where they feel like they're emotionally and artistically free, right? Where they feel like they're good about making the work that they do. So, yeah, that's, that's what's happened. Not telling anyone that they're passion is wrong, just I'm good at recognizing when they're not happy making the photos that they're making, and so, then I help guide them to discover what is making them happy. Does that make sense? Okay. Alright Margaret. I already know a little bit about Margaret, (laughter) but I am gonna let her share with us where you live, are you doing this full time, that kinda thing? I live in Spokane, Washington. I'm not doing this full time, yet. I don't know, I don't know what the other questions were. (laughing) I have, I've had two kids. Yes. So my brain is like gone. Well, remember, she just moved, right? Two years ago. Yeah. Hadn't you just moved when I came and photographed? I had, so you photographed us in November, and we had moved there in September. That's what I thought. Yup. So, I've already photographed her amazing family. I love them to death. (laughter) So, what is your goal? What type of business do you want? Full time or do you wanna just have part time work? I think somewhere in between part time and full time. And, what do you have right now? I have nothing. Okay. I mean. (laughing) So ready, here's a question. Yeah. How on, answer the question honestly, how hard, how much energy are you really putting into getting work? I go through cycles. Okay. Where I get really motivated, and every hour that I'm not with my kids, I'll be doing SEO. I'll be getting images on social media, and I'll be meeting people and trying to. Okay. Build relationships, right? Okay. Right now I'm in a down cycle. Okay. So, I feel like I haven't been in my office in three weeks 'cause I've been like no. Yeah. I can't. When you feel like you're at a good up cycle, are you starting to get inquiries, feedback, building relationships, that kind of thing? No. Okay. So, let's look at your site (laughing) and we're gonna talk about that. Okay. Like how we can fix that, okay? Okay, so the, the first thing you have is this. Newsletter. Newsletter thing sign up for I don't, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Does it pop up right away? I mean, I know what it does. (laughing) Does it pop up right away or does it take a minute to pop up? I have it set to pop up after ten seconds or after you scroll. That's right. Okay. And does it pop up every time they go to a new page or? I think it's just the homepage. Yeah, it's just the homepage. But, one thing you could have, it says no thanks, but you should have something that's verbiage, I think that just says, don't show me again, just so they know that it's not gonna keep, because if they feel like it keeps coming up every time they go back to the homepage, they're gonna eventually just bail on your site. That's why. Okay. So, I think make it clear, like don't show again, just so they know that it's not gonna bother them, right, versus the, that's that language thing versus no thanks. Okay, so what's the first thing I'm gonna tell you? I don't know. (laughing) No video, I don't know. Well. So many things. I think this scrolling across the screen. Yeah. I think, I honestly think people should just have. One image? One image that cycles through, whether you tap on it or it cycles, I really think the easier it is for the viewer, the better. Okay. Because we are a lazy species, so I think, and, I mean, all ages could be on there. I just think it's better to just have one and have it cycled through, rather than scrolling or, you know. At least you have the arrows, so they know, but some might even not see the arrows, and they're gonna be like, "Oh, three pictures," right, and it's not taking up the majority of your page, which I think that should be the feature. That's the main star. We need to celebrate it, your photos. So, we have, yes, another video. Now, wait, oh she cut it off. The video though, is it, the video is about your work. Yeah. So, that needs to go inside. Either session info or just, I would. Okay. I would just say life session information or however, whatever you wanna call it. You should have a menu where they just, on the menu, they just touch it, and it goes right to there, to the video, okay, to the page with the video by itself. Yeah, it's just a promo video. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's what I'm saying. Okay. The promo, but it's about the work that you do, right? So, it should just, it should be featured on its own page. My feeling, my worry is if it's on the home, here's my other worry, if it's on the homepage, people are gonna get, especially low, people are gonna get distracted and leave the homepage, and they might not know to go back there. At least if it has its own dedicated page, I think it's gonna have more chance of being seen. Okay Even if you put it under the session info, and like, so, session info, the video comes up and underneath, there's some information about it. Does that make sense? Okay. I think you should just feature the photos. This is, this is the docu sessions, and this is where I think we need to fix this, okay, so. Documentary sessions, info on the bottom, that, right there, needs to be replaced with a video. Oh, the pictures do? Okay. And the pictures need to be under a menu you don't have or an option in your menu, which is portfolio. So, I, I think everyone should have something that says either gallery or portfolio on your menu. I think that's hurting you. Okay. And I don't think you should rely on your blog to be a gallery. It should be an addition to your gallery that you have on your page. I just know, even for me, like, if I, if there's no gallery, and I'm checking out a student's page, I don't wanna have to scroll through all these sessions. I just wanna see, like, some of your best when I'm looking at it, and I know as a consumer, they're gonna feel the same way. Does that make sense? Okay. So, yeah, you need to make a gallery, and then have, and then have documentary sessions under there with a, with a portfolio of your documentary sessions. Alright. Okay. Is that too many pages to have? No. Okay. Somebody else has said, like, don't have too many pages because it's too much to navigate through. Well, it would be too much. So, I was trying to. If it was home, portfolio, session info meet Marg, and contact. I mean, that's not very much stuff, yeah, at all. So, this is when we scroll down. This is just a quote, right? What am I gonna tell you? Too much words. (laughing) Too many words. Too, words can't. No. (laughing) Especially 'cause like, a majority of the information of what it is, is in the promo video, right, so, of you working. So, or make another promo video specifically about these sessions, if you want, but, yeah, I just afraid people are not gonna read this, and you're not featuring these photos. They each, you need to have their own little celebration, okay? People need to embrace them. Even this photo, we really can't appreciate because there's, like, words on top of their faces, right? More words. Yeah, more words. (laughter) Are you, do you feel apprehensive to share your photos? Or put yourself out there. Yeah I do. Why? I doubt them. Okay. Yeah. So, you're afraid other people are gonna judge you and doubt you? Yeah, or they're just not. Or not hire you. Good enough. Or they're not good enough. Yeah. Well, the worst thing that's gonna happen is you're not gonna get any business, guess so if that's not already happening. And I'm already here. Right, so (laughing), the best that can happen, (laughing) is you can share more photos and potentially get more work. Yeah. Right? That makes sense, right? Okay. So, I love your meet Marg page. This is where I don't mind the, the pressing through. Okay. I think it's fine. 'Cause it's about you. Yeah, it's just a lot of words Margaret. (laughter) More words, same, now does this make sense when I talked about the pricing? About leaving the pricing on the page? And that is a lot of different pricing. Yeah. Right there. So, I think, because you offer so many sessions, I would just say for pricing, you know, I would just say contact me for more pricing details, or not even have the pricing information at all, like that section on there, because we have beauty of every day life, full day session, glimpse of the life, story telling session, birth sessions, lifestyle sessions, family films, weddings, births, a la carte. Like, that's a lot of information. So, I think just contact me for your. Okay. Your birth, your family photography, or wedding needs and leave it at that. This is a great moment. I think this needs to be in black and white. There is a series when I think of them black and white one. Yeah, I think that one black and white. This is also a great moment with mom and baby. Also, this is a black and white moment. The color's not adding anything to the story. So, it can be in black and white. (laughing) That one's great in color. That one's fine. I want this to work, but it's not working because you weren't able to put yourself. This is not your fault. This is probably a logistical thing with structure and where, like, where you can physically get your body and so you couldn't get your body really where it needed to go if you were gonna make a wide peaking in voyeur photo of dad and little one going potty. I need to be further away. So, if that happens in the field, and you're like, "I just can't get there," then you need to pick something else, if you can, that's the next best interesting thing, and choose a different composition that you can get to to make a photo of that. So, we can't, we can't voyeur it, right? We, I don't think you can. I'm feeling like we can't get far enough back, but I could be wrong. The, if you can't, then the other option is let's just get close, and focus in on the fact that they're face to face, right, and you can even have, like, her little legs and hands, and we just shoot from the pot, like right below her hands up, and just shoot that, and don't worry about trying to voyeur it. Okay. Does that make sense? Okay. I think there's too much in this photo, and it's just obstructing everything, right? Yeah. That's what I'm seeing; is that Clint in that? No, it's a, it was a friend. That's Eleanor. Black and white. Not on the front page. Not on the homepage, but inside your portfolio. That's really sweet. Black and white. Black and white is good. That one's good. So, this one, to me is an almost. What would I have rather you done? Gotten closer. Yup. Just fill the frame with that. Get super close. I wanna see squishy, squishy face, like this close to me, as the viewer. Do you do the, you do lifestyle sessions, too, right? Yeah. And you enjoy them? I think I appreciate them. Yeah. So, And I totally why a family would want them, so. Yeah, and you, and this, I'm guessing, is more from a documentary portrait session, yes? Yeah. Yeah. So, if, if you like the documentary portrait sessions, which I do so that's why I have a section on my site, because they're easy. They're like, an hour, and like, I make great photos, and the clients are happy, and I can be home for dinner. So, these, these are the photos I suggest posting, rather than the real formal posed with the docu portrait sessions. Still show the ones that are a little bit more structured, right, but that still have these great moments. I would just wanna see that really tight and filling in the frame. This one, you don't need. There's nothing, like, super interesting happening, although, I'm gonna guess, was it that they were kind of, all three boys. Yeah. Were mirroring each other? Yeah, the dad was doing it. Yeah. And then them. I think, you know what would be a better way, to have shot this from above. They're making a triangle, so you could've put one boy on either corner, and then dad's hand and stick in the middle of the bottom frame, and it would have emphasized the fact that, and hopefully we would have seen both boys with sticks, and then it would have emphasized they all had sticks, and they were drawing. Do you see that now? Wedding or engagement? They just randomly wanted a couples session. I think you need to separate, like, the couple photos, engagements, and weddings, from your family site. Okay. Or, have a landing page that has weddings and then families. Okay. And separate 'em. Okay. Because if you want these clients, they're not gonna find you on your site right now 'cause it's so family heavy. Does that make sense? I think this one's fun. I wish that the reaction and moment was a little bit stronger. I might try this black and white. Okay. But honestly, I love this one so much more. Yeah. Isn't that one nice? It's really sweet. You have good photos. We just need to rework, really for you, it's your site, how it is set up. Okay. We wanna, we wanna set it up better for you, for your clients to find the right pictures. I want you, you have really nice photos, so I want you to celebrate that by giving them each a feature. Does that make sense? Mmhmm. Yeah, that's it. Okay. And just rearrange. Okay. How you feel? Meh. (laughing) You should feel good. I do. Your photos are good. Yeah, it's just a little bit of work. It's not that much work to rearrange it a little bit, and I, I think you're gonna get more inquiries. I'll talk to privately later today about some of the other stuff, with ideas to get you. Okay. Going in your market, okay?

Class Description

Building a successful family portrait business takes more than capturing a good image. Not only do you need the tools to create family memories that your clients will love, but you also have to know how to set up a business that will make money and keep your clients and their referrals coming back. Award-winning photographer and international educator Kirsten Lewis returns to CreativeLive to teach all of this and more in the third class in her series on family storytelling photography.

In this class Kirsten will cover:

  • The psychology of photographing families and how to really “see” your subjects
  • How she collaborates with families and other creative professionals
  • How to stay present in the moment to capture authentic and timeless images
  • How to set up your business for success and sales

Kirsten will pull back the curtain to show you the nuts and bolts of her business and how she continues to be successful in this unique area of family photography.