Archive for Portrait Photography
The UK professional photography podcast. This week we have something a little different! I went to see contemporary family portrait photographer Kels Noades who has quit her teaching job and is now taking her photography business full time.
Kels Noades - KJ Photographic
Kels has worked professionally as a photographer for over 13 years, doing work for publications such as Elle, Marie-Claire, Touch, The Express Newspaper, The British Journal of Photography, City Life, Baby Surrey, Hampshire & London Magazines and Surrey Life among others.
Starting off predominantly in Fashion photography Kels has now moved on to family portraiture in her purpose built studio in New Malden. She still manages to make time for photographing celebrity golf events, raising two children and even organising a baby fair!
Although these may seem like silly obvious examples, they do bring up a good point. Who are you targeting in your photography business and senior market?
Knowing your customers and your market is important. And realizing that not everyone is your customer is even more important. Some people do not value photography and some people just may not value your photography. So how much time should you invest (or waste) trying to convince the wrong (fit for your business) people what you and your work are worth?
The first step is to understand that people pay for what is important to them. “Too expensive” doesn’t necessary mean that they don’t have an adequate amount of funds to exchange for a good or service. It may just mean they don’t see the value of what you are selling or what your business provides. And it can also mean that they don’t see the value or place any value on photography.
As an example, there is a chain soup/salad/sandwich store that opened up in our town a few years ago. It costs us nearly 20 bucks to eat there. This place is “too expensive” for me. Why? Because I don’t value what they have to offer. Not because I can’t afford it. At this place you stand in line to give your order and sit down. Then you get back up when they call out your name to get your order. Then you get back up each time to fill up your drink (and to get napkins, etc.) Finally, after you are finished, you have to clean up your own table and put the bowls, plates, silverware, and trash away. Now I will gladly pay triple the amount (of what we would pay at this place) at our favorite restaurant because I see the value in eating there. Read More→
As a professional are you more knowledgable of your “perceived” competition than you are of your customers and your own business? If that is the case then why are you shocked when your “perceived” customers go to your competition?
The photography business and senior business has gotten extremely competitive. I am grateful for being in a competitive business in the past. My wife and I spent ten years in pharmaceutical sales before becoming a full time photography studio. There is no doubt that you need to know your competitors (the real ones) and what you can offer that they don’t. But use your limited resources (e.g. time) to explore creativity, learn business, and promote yourself instead of obsessing over any competition.
As an entrepreneur and a small business owner there is nothing more important than the success and happiness of your customers. Everything else plays a role but nothing else is more important to the lifeline of your business than the exchange of a customers’ hard earned money for your services. That is how your business keeps it’s door open. If that fails then so do you.
Focus your efforts where they need to be focused. Read More→
“How’s business?” is a frequent question we get asked. You probably get asked this too. But are you ever the one asking the question. I encourage other photographers to look outside of their industry to examine other businesses. This is a valuable resource that should be utilized.
There is a restaurant here in our city that my wife and I frequently attend. And when I say frequently I mean 2-3 times a week…for the last 8 years. If you follow my twitter feed (@johndpyle) you can probably guess the place I am talking about. In fact my parents went Friday night and we went Saturday night to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Now I do love their food. It is superb and prepared perfectly. But that is not the main reason we go. There are a few other places to eat that have decent food in town. They are also the one of the most, if not THE most expensive place to eat in town. So we don’t go there to save money. We go there because of the experience. The staff always recognizes us and greets us by name upon arriving. The bartenders know my wife’s favorite glass of wine and have it poured before we even sit down. The staff is always pleasant, excited to see us, and appear to go out of their way no matter what. In fact the owner comes over to personally greet us every time we visit. The food is always perfect and they always go above and beyond. Now I am not narcissistic enough to think that we are the only ones they treat like this. And I know this because there is a 30-90 minute wait on weekends to eat so other people must feel this way too. But we are made to feel like we are special and that we are the most important costumers they have. They know, understand, and implement flawless customer service and an unmatched experience. Read More→
We just returned from our 2011 senior portrait conference (spa) in Palm Springs California. We had our 3rd model winner in a row from across the country and she won the Top Model award! We are so proud of Kristen!
There were some great images out at spa but this year I “observed” a lot more than I have in the past. We followed Kristen and her mom around on day #3 of spa where she has session with other photographers to see them work and teach.
One of the things that spa celebrates is the best of the best in high school senior photography. And the best of the best senior photographers are all there. A consistent theme that I saw with these photographers was the “connection” they made with the subject, the speed at which they connected with them, and the ease in which they did so. This, of course, translated to a an incredible experience for all the seniors chosen to attend, the photographers, and allowed for some gorgeous images to be created. Read More→
I’m a husband, a father to an 18 month old daughter, and a high school senior photographer who makes a living by bringing a camera around 17 year old girls. I am also sensitive (maybe hypersensitive) to the appropriateness of the images I create AND the images we release online.
A few months ago a woman in passing (not a customer but a regular viewer of our website) made a statement to me and my wife that she would NEVER let her daughter take senior pictures in a swimsuit. Now that is fine with us. We don’t ask senior customers to take pictures in their swimsuits nor do we advertise swimsuit sessions for seniors. But she repeated this opinion several times throughout the conversation, and it felt more like an “insult” directed at us. And, yes, having a Masters in Psychology allows me to deduce that from the conversation.
It so happened to that the image she was looking at was from a professional modeling portfolio of a college freshman we had posted last summer. The model needed swimsuit images for her modeling portfolio that we created for her on location. The customer and her parents were thrilled with the images and released the images themselves on Facebook with our approval. Now I did explain this to the woman who brought up the swimsuit image and obvisouly didn’t read the blog post…but I doubt she cared to understand it.
Anyway living down in the South, on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, a lot of our seniors have grown up on the backwaters every weekend since they were little…skiing, tubing, jet skiing, riding boats and wave runners, grilling out, and laying out in the sun with their friends and families . They also live driving distance to the beach and the Gulf Coast of Florida. This was and is an important part of their summers, their childhood, their lives, and of course their last summer in high school. And some of our seniors AND their parents ask if their child can incorporate this into their senior experience sessions. Some have beautiful homes, pools, and boats up on the backwaters and in Florida where these are shot on location. Read More→
Photographing children can be challenging let alone getting them to sit still for the session. So for me as I’m sure many other portrait photographers, I keep the process simple. I use one large soft box with a strobe and I let the kids be kids. To me thats the true image most parents want unless they are trying to get model agency representation. When I have a child portrait session, I do my best to not have things around that would distract them and I also tidy up the cords and other miscellaneous gear to avoid accidents because we all know kids are adventurous. Its always good to know ahead of time exactly what the clients want as far as background and or location. Most of my clients so far just wanted either a white, dark gray or sometimes black background. That seems to be the standard so my advice is to keep a roll of each around and present them with options, they’ll appreciate that more. Once you know what type of image the client wants thats where my simple one light setup can come in handy. Read More→
This is the fifth in our series looking at essential tools for your photography business. We’re going to be looking at some of the essential tools you’ll need to acquire in at least the first year (if not the first month) of your business.
Other articles in this series –
Part 1 – Software and Online Presence
Part 2 – Financials
Part 3 – Wedding Photographers
Part 4 - Studio Portrait Photographers
Part 5 – Location Portrait Photographers
Location portrait photography surprisingly isn’t about shooting on amazing locations…… it does help having them…..but if you’re a portrait photographer then your main emphasis should always be your subject.
In the same breath, location portraiture isn’t about having an abundance of gear. We’ve all heard the term ‘All the gear no idea’ , this really rings true for many photographers who think they need the latest gadget or lens to produce good work.
The best work is sometimes about simplicity. If you’re new to the business or are looking to expand into location portraiture then simplicity is a good place to start.
When acquiring a Business Portraiture client it’s always best to know before hand how the client will use the image. Meaning if the client will be using his/her image for web posting or high quality publication it’s best to light for deeper shadows. This is more or less for men especially as deep shadows can indicate Strength and Intelligence (not that women are equally the same) but non the less you’ll see more Business Portariture for men photographed this way. Now I will say some women like that type of lighting scenario and will occassionally ask for it as in the following images
Now if the client is using the image for lets say newspaper paper pre-production or other venues where the image quality is lower, then you should aim to fill in the shadows. The last thing you want in that scenario is poor reproduction that will render darker areas without details. Even if the imagery will be used for general usage, fill in the shadows as a matter of course. Read More→
This is the forth in our series looking at essential tools for your photography business. We’re going to be looking at some of the essential tools you’ll need to acquire in at least the first year (if not the first month) of your business.
Other articles in this series –
Part 1 – Software and Online Presence
Part 2 – Financials
Part 3 – Wedding Photographers
Part 4 – Studio Portrait Photographers
We’re going to look at two recommended setups for portrait photographers with the first being a basic studio setup. Next week we’re going to be concentrating on location portrait photographers.
Depending on what you specialise in might change what set-up you have but really only in regards to the props you use. I’m going to concentrate on the things you’ll need for nice and simple family portraits……. that doesn’t mean a white background….. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again……. it’s not 2005 anymore!
The most basic (and yet extremely versatile) setup I can think of …..
- 2 lights and a large soft-box
- Grey paper background
- 4 stands (x2 for background x2 for lights)
- Coloured Gels