My name is Elena and I own a lifestyle, family, and newborn photography business right here in Seattle, which is great. I love being right here where Creative Live is. On top of that I also have a boutique school photography business and, like she mentioned, I co-founded Lady Boss Workshops with my dear friend and fellow Creative Live instructor, Sandra Cohen, and on top of that, I do a ton of in person and online photography education. So, what I'm telling you is I have a lot of time on my hands (laughs), but in all seriousness... So, I will never get up and teach and claim to be the master of anything, or claim to be an expert at anything. I don't really think, as creators, that that is a very good place for us to ever go in our minds. I think that we are all students and you should be open to learning and changing every day. So, I never will say that I'm the expert at anything or that what I'm saying is the only way to do something, but what I do claim is to do everything that I do ...
with passion and to do everything that I do with my whole heart. And that is what I am here to share with you guys today, is my sincere passion for lifestyle family photography. I am absolutely and totally head over heels in love with this genre. So, I've been at this for a while. I've been photographing families for about 10 years, and I photograph about 150 to 200 families a year. So, I've been at this a while and what I have learned how to do is to take any family, regardless of what they look like, regardless of the ages of their children or their family dynamics, and show them that they're beautiful. And so, I'm not... Notice I didn't say make them look beautiful. I really don't believe that it is my job as an artist, or our job as artists, to make anyone look beautiful. I think that it is our job to show them that they are already beautiful. And I don't work with models. I don't even style my families. They do all of that on their own, we're talkin' everyday people here, and I have systems and methods to turn families into art, essentially. And what is the most amazing compliment for me is when a mom, it's usually the moms that I'm communicating with, emails me after the session and she says, wow, I can't believe that's us. I can't believe you made us look like that. And what I always say, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, what I say is that's actually what you look like. This is actually who you are and it's because I was able to see this deep, human connection, this amazing dynamic that you have in your family, and turn that into something magical. And so, that's what we're here to talk about today is how I do that. I wanna teach you guys how to do this. Lifestyle family photography is very intimate. Time is our most precious and valuable currency, right? And so, these families are giving you their time, and even though I only am... I really am fast. I'm only with my families for about 45 minutes to an hour. I don't take that privilege lightly. I think that the fact that they chose me to spend their time with and to give me themselves to open up in front of me is a great privilege, and so it's very intimate. They're allowing you in. They're inviting you into their lives, but also, on the flip side, family photography for me is very personal. So, even though it's their family that I'm photographing, obviously, it's their love and connection, I am part of every photo I take. It is very much my artistic expression. I think that's why I'm still here 10 years later. A lot of people burn out in the family photography industry, and I think it's because they're not passionate about it. It isn't artistic for them, and for me, it is absolutely my artistic expression. So, what I hope is that at the end of our time today that you will feel inspired to look at family photography with a fresh pair of eyes, that you're gonna have a new perspective on how to go about family photography, but that you're also gonna have the skills that you need to, even if you've never photographed a family, to get out there and execute a session start to finish that's gonna result in a gallery that is full of images that, most importantly, mean something to you as an artist, but that also blow your clients' minds. So, we're talking about a lot today, and we broke it down into four different segments. So, in this first segment we're really just gonna be laying the foundation for lifestyle family photography. I'm gonna talk to you about all of the things that you kind of need to think about, considerations in getting started with this. So, we're gonna really lay the foundation, kind of get to the basics in the first segment. And then in the second segment we're gonna talk about how you provide that meaningful session experience so that you can bring this out, this emotion out of your families. It's a lot of pre-session prep for yourself and also for your client. So, we're gonna talk about that in segment two. And then segment three is gonna be super fun. We have a family coming in, which I'm really excited about, and you're gonna see and learn my actual session work flow. I basically do the exact same thing every session. I'm kind of like... It's just like clockwork, that's why it goes so fast and goes so easily. I really think that having a routine like that is really important. So, you're gonna learn my routine, but you're actually gonna see me executing it with the live family. And so, that'll be great because there might be little things that go wrong or kids might melt down, I don't know. Hopefully not, but we may have some real life stuff. So, that'll be really fun. And then at the end we're gonna wrap it all up with business, with culling and editing, with gallery delivery, and everything that I do to kind of wrap that session experience up so that my families become brand evangelists, which they do. I have families that have come eight, nine years in a row, sometimes twice a year. So, we're gonna talk about how I really wrap that session experience up so that you can do that as well. Alright. Before we go any further, I just need to tell you a little bit more about me, just as a human, because I want you... Mostly women, we've got one guy in here, but many of us probably have a lot in common and chances are we picked up the camera for the same reason. There's my three reasons right there. They are my inspiration for photography, but to be honest, I actually rarely photograph them anymore and that's just because I'm not a documentary photographer. That's not where my passion lies, but I am absolutely and unapologetically a mom with a camera, and I own it. I think that it is amazing and I'm proud that because my son, when he was born, inspired me to... He just lit this fire in me to be a creator, to be... To do something with this energy that I had, to capture him in an authentic way and I think it's pretty cool that from there I was able to build a business that now also provides a lifestyle for my family that my previous career never would've been able to provide. So, I used to be a registered nurse and I sort of slowly transitioned out of that into becoming a photographer, and I like to mention that because I remember how it felt when I had this really solid career and benefits and it just seemed... I worked so hard, I went to college for it, I was paying off student loans for it, and I'm like, but why do I have this desire to be a photographer? Who do you think you are, Elena? You're not an artist, you're not a photographer, you've never been to school for this. You're gonna leave your steady career for, to be a photographer? Lots of self doubt, and I overcame it, thank goodness, because I now know a happiness that I probably never would've known if I'd listened to that voice behind me. So, if that's where you are, if I can do it, you can do it. Okay. So, I want to start with some of the challenges that I faced because, again, I think that chances are we're... Probably a lot of us are facing some of the same challenges, and I still battle with a lot of these every day. So, like I said, just a mom with a camera. I was just at a really big photography conference this past week, and you... A lot of it, I know, is just my own self-doubt, but you're walking through and these people are like, oh, I'm a fashion photographer, I work in all of these big things, I do high end luxury weddings, like what do you do? Family photographer, lifestyle family photographer. I feel like they're like (groans) and I want to say, well, I don't know how much money you're making, but I'm actually making really good money doing this and I did it all by myself and I taught myself. So, you have to really get past that. Mom with a camera is actually a very powerful thing because a mom... Don't mess with a mom. (laughing) We're motivated, right? We know what we're doing. If we mean business, we mean business. So, but it's still something that I definitely deal with. I still deal with it after 10 years. Okay. You're not a real artist. So, family photography, again, I feel like, in our industry doesn't have a place of feeling artistic, of being artistic. A lot of people go into family photography and feel like they have to fit a mold, a standard, and do that old style family photo, and I used to do that too. So, when I first started family photography was kinda sucking the passion outta me because I was trying to do that stiff, boring, old portrait that just wasn't working for me. I didn't feel like an artist, and luckily, I have a really good friend who talked to... She was like, you are an artist. What you're doing is art, what you're doing is important, and that helped me to start... Just simply calling myself an an artist changed everything for me. So, I want you, if that's the only you learn today, know that you're an artist, okay? No matter what it is that you're doing. My area is too saturated. Okay, so this is what you do when you first become a photographer, especially when you're like, okay, I think I'm gonna do this. I think I wanna be a mom, a photographer who photographs families. Then you start gettin' on the internet and you're going like this and you're like, oh no. Oh no, there's like five billion and they're all amazing, right? And then... So, then you just go down that spiral of doubt. And it's true, this is a really intimidating thing when you're first starting out, but one thing that I know to be true is that there is plenty of business for all of us. My best friends in the industry and I are competition, live 20 blocks from me, we're going after the same clients and we both have thriving businesses, Sandra Cohen in particular. So, it doesn't matter. Don't worry about this. Let that just (exhales sharply). Let that go roll right off your back. So, this is a big one: nobody will be interested in my unique approach to family photography. So, when I first started, like I said a little while ago, I was doing that traditional type of photograph and it was really boring, it was sucking the passion out from me, and I had a portfolio review and one of the things that the woman said that was reviewing my portfolio was your personal work is raw and moody and interesting and your commissioned work is really boring. So, I was like (groans), geeze. No, it's not, but it was. She was absolutely right, and it's because I was trying to please someone else other than myself because I thought that that was what I had to do to be in business. And as soon as I realized that I could go full force with just what I wanted to do, my style of family photography, that's actually when my business exploded. But it's hard, self-doubt is real. I don't even know where to start (laughs). So, that's where... This is where I come in, right? You know you wanna be a photographer, you don't know why, you have this passion burning inside of you, you know you wanna make this a business, you think family photography is for you and you don't know where to start. There is so much, so much to learn, right? So, this is where I come in. I'm gonna help you, we're gonna break it down.