Tag Archives: family portrait photography

Use Events to Drive Business

I often hear photographers discussing (or complaining!) that they don’t have enough paying clients. My response is to ask what they are doing to generate more business. And generally the response is a blank stare which implies ‘isn’t my website and social media presence enough to have people knocking down the door?’ No, it’s not. People have lots of pressures on their time and money – and will only shoot with you if you give them a compelling reason to do it now. There are many ways to drive additional business. One way is to use events to drive business. Read on!

Australia Day

Special events drive sales of stock images

What do you mean events?

By events, I mean special occasions. Demand for a range of products and services picks up very predictably when these events occur. Let’s take an example. What do you think happens for sales of chocolates and roses every February? They boom just before Valentine’s Day! And they boom just before Valentine’s Day every year! It’s predictable.

How can you take advantage of that? Have you considered offering a couples shoot before Valentine’s Day? Or sell a gift voucher for the couple to shoot with you after Valentine’s Day? Do you get the idea? You use the event to create a reason for the shoot to happen now.

Want More Examples?

Regular readers of Beyond Here will know I shoot a lot of stock photography. Do events help sales of stock images? Yes! A resounding yes! Here in Australia there is a peak in sales of Australian themed images just before Australia Day at the end of January.

How do I capitalize on this? I shoot Australia Day themed images in October and November, and have them available in my stock portfolio by early December. That’s almost 2 months before Australia Day and ready for the increase in demand.

And there are lots more events during the year which drive similar spikes in demand. Think about Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and your national holidays. Could you use events to drive business? I’m sure you could. It just requires a little planning and a compelling reason for clients to have the shoot now.

How can family photographers take advantage of this?

Lots of photographers specialize in families and portraits. Here’s how I recommend you make the most of events.

Australia Day

Got a national holiday coming up. Can you use events to drive business?

Events Specific to Your Clients

Once you have a client base you can generate your own ‘events’ by focusing on key moments for your clients. What are some examples? Your clients anniversaries and birthdays are obvious places to start! If you have a gap in your shooting schedule, contact a client who has a birthday next month and offer them a special for a shoot plus prints in time for their birthday.

Even better is when you have remembered your clients children’s birthdays. Offering a tailored shoot on the kids birthdays will show your clients you care (and really listened!) and can offer something unique to them.

Events Which Apply to ‘the Market’

If you don’t have an existing client base to tap into, use events which have broad appeal.

How about special family packages:

  • for families right before school starts
  • during the school holidays
  • for kids birthdays
  • before Christmas

These are all straightforward ways to use events to drive business. If you are waiting for clients to contact you because you have a great website and post regularly to social media – you may be waiting a long time. Grab the initiative and use events to drive business.

6 Alternatives to Price Discounts for Family Photographers

I follow a range of family photographers and their portfolios via Facebook. Commonly I see many of them offering price discounts to encourage new clients to book now. Do you take this approach? I am going to offer you a different approach and will show you 6 alternatives to price discounts for family photographers.

But first, why might price discounts not be a good idea for your family photography business in the long run?


Continuous price discounting will attract very price sensitive clients. Is this the type of client you want?

As photographers, our skill and the quality of our work increases over time. Typically our costs go up over time as well, as we upgrade to new equipment, new computers, and costs for insurance and other necessities rise. So, unless we want to work a lot longer hours in future, our prices need to increase over time as well.

So why is price discounting not such a good strategy?

  • Price discounting focuses your clients on your prices and not on the quality of your work. I don’t know about you, but I want my clients to be excited about the quality of the work, how it will capture the moment of their child’s early steps, and how a large print might hang on the walls of their home for a lifetime. I don’t want them thinking about saving $50 off my usual rates. If the quality of the work is strong enough, the $50 will not matter.
  • If you are a habitual price discounter you can be sure that any clients that have paid your full rates will not be very happy. If your usual family portrait rates are $500, the client who paid $500 last week will not be very pleased when she sees the same package advertised on your facebook page this week for $350.
  • And further to that, any potential clients who follow your work will never book at your full rates as you are conditioning them to wait for your regular “Hey world! I’m on sale” posts on your facebook photography page. If you regularly discount, you are essentially cutting your rates. Is that what you want in the long term?

So how do we attract new clients now, and fill the gap in our shooting schedule, without constant price discounts?

Here are ‘6 alternatives to price discounts for family photographers’.

1. Add Value. Instead of offering price discounts, make offers which add more value for your client. If your basic package is $500 offer a ‘Summer Special’ which includes a large canvas print valued at $150 for a package price of $575. The idea here is to present a ‘value offer’ not a ‘cheap offer’.

2. Solve a Client Problem. This is one which can be adjusted for any “hard to buy a present for” family member. For example, “What do you buy your partner for his birthday? He has everything right? Surprise him with a photo of you. Booking available from now until the end of the month”.

3. Build a High Value Package. Building a high value package works in a similar way to the ‘add value’ alternative. But here we add lots of extra things to the package. Let’s show you an example – “Looking for presents for the entire extended family? And would like prints to decorate your own home too? Complete you family portrait shoot before 15 June and receive a 36 x 24 inch canvas, two 12 x 18 inch prints, five 8 x10 inch prints, and a USB of your images, all for $695”


Here are 6 different ideas for promoting your business without positioning yourself as cheap

4. Guarantee turnaround times. Most people have busy lives and often leave things to the last minute. This alternative recognizes that and helps make your client’s lives easier. “It’s not too late for the perfect personalized Christmas present! Complete your family portrait session before 30 November, and receive your prints and images by 18 December. Book now!” Note, that in this alternative there is no mention of price. It is all about recognizing people are busy and solving their Christmas present challenges. (I have found that clients who like you to solve the problem this year, will also like you to solve the problem again next year. They are time sensitive, not price sensitive.)

5. Make tailored offers to previous clients. Your previous clients are a fantastic source of future business. You have a relationship with them and they like your work. This makes them ideal to approach for tailored offers. Here is a sample email “Hi (existing client), I was looking back over my work from last year and realised that it is nearly a year since I did your family portraits. I wonder if you would like to make a record of your family’s images a year later? I currently have a gap in my shooting schedule on (XX date). Would you like to book an anniversary shoot?”

6. Discount only for your special clients. And the final alternative is for those people who just can’t resist offering a price discount. If you feel you really must do this – don’t broadcast it to the world. Don’t create the impression that you are a cheap photographer who is always offering discounts. Keep your clients focused on quality. So what do we do?

Go to your ‘special’ clients or repeat clients who you know will respond to the offer. A sample email might look like “Hi Amanda, I’ve got a booking time available next Wednesday morning at 10am. I know it is short notice, but wondered if you would like to bring the kids and do a 60 minute shoot? My normal price is $500, but for you as a loyal client I’d be happy to take 20% off this.”

Continually offering price discounts will lead you down a path of attracting clients who focus on price. There is another way. Thanks for reading 6 alternatives to price discounts for family photographers. I hope it has given your some tools to escape the trap of constant price discounting. If you would like to receive updates from Beyond Here, please add your email address in the sign up area on this page.


Newborn Photography Props

Today’s post on Beyond Here is from Julie and Victor at Propjar.

Propjar is all about props. They supply photography props for newborn, maternity, family and portrait photo shoots. Based in Melbourne, Australia they ship their products worldwide. For shipping within Australia – all shipping is currently free. And for international addresses, shipping is currently free for all orders over $50. Check out the Propjar website for more details. Read on for more about newborn photography props.

Silk extravaganza for newborn photography!

Newborn Photography

Propjar daffodil silk swirl being used as a basket stuffer. Image copyright Kelly Gladwin.

The current trend in newborn photography is creating organic images, whether it’s in gorgeous neutral tones or with splashes of bold color.

A lot of the products used to create these images are very hard to clean, and some, in particular synthetic products, can be very harsh on baby’s skin.

Natural silk is the solution!

Silk is super soft and squishy, and gives a gorgeous natural, organic feel to images. Not only is it very gentle on baby’s delicate soft skin, but it always amuses us how parents just can’t get enough of touching the silk and exclaiming with ooooh’s and aaaaah’s.  And because these little clouds of softness can be gently hand washed after each photo shoot, you’ll be able to use them many times over. As a newborn photographer, you will know just how much cleaning is involved after a newborn shoot. To have a product that cannot be cleaned properly can become a real headache.

Newborn photography

Propjar snow silk swirl being used as a wrap. Image copyright BeccyRose Photography.

We highlighted in our maternity photography props post that building a bond and rapport with your mum-to-be client, and understanding what she’s comfortable with, was critical for building a relationship that can lead to follow up business, such as newborn photo shoots.

The same applies to the parents of your newborn client. Making sure baby is comfortable and safe with whichever props you choose to use to capture this special moment, will help you in building this bond and trust with the family.

Newborn photography

Image copyright Jamie Lee Photography

If you’re able to do this, you’ll be remembered when it comes time for baby’s one year old birthday cake smash, toddler portraits, family portraits and any other photo sessions the family may want.

Image copyright Emily Clare Photography

Image copyright Emily Clare Photography

If we can leave you with one tip, it’s that in business, it’s far easier and cheaper to sell to existing clients who are also fans you’ve connected with, than it is to find new clients. That’s why connecting with your fans / clients is so important to building a thriving and sustainable business.

At Propjar we’ve created a range of silk props available in 22 colors.

Our super soft silk swirls can be used as a wrap, layer, or basket stuffer.

Combine the nest with layers such as the Propjar stretch wrap. Image copyright Jamie Lee Photography.

Combine the nest with layers such as the Propjar stretch wrap. Image copyright Jamie Lee Photography.

The versatility of the Propjar silk nest allows has proven to be a real hit with photographers and their clients. These nests come with a removable cover, with extra covers available to purchase, so that you can change the color of your nest to suit your theme.

Look at those gorgeous eyes! Propjar silk swaddle sack being used with a silk nest. Image copyright Siobhan Wolff Photography.

Look at those gorgeous eyes! Propjar silk swaddle sack being used with a silk nest. Image copyright Siobhan Wolff Photography.

Because this soft nest ring makes it easy to pose both newborns and older babies, you’re able to give parents who may have left their newborn photo shoot a bit late to still get wonderful memories of baby. The posing options are endless. Use it as is on an old wooden floor with character, or perhaps a posing faux fur. Or anything else your creativity allows.

Thank you Julie and Victor at Propjar for this post for Beyond Here. Newborn photography props can assist in creating outstanding images. If you are looking for a great source of those props, please visit the Propjar website.

Shooting at Eye Level

Want to add more interest to your wildlife, nature, or children’s shots? Shooting at eye level will do it. The alternative is to shoot down on to your subject. While that downward view is the one we see most often with our eye, shooting at your subjects eye level is almost always the more interesting shot. This technique works particularly well with wildlife, children, and flowers. It can take time and effort to get down to your subjects level but it will be worth it for the unique angles and improved shots.

Here are 3 examples.

Duck on lake

Shooting at eye level here meant lying on the ground

In this image of a duck paddling across a lake it was tricky to get down to the duck’s eye level. To make this shot I lay face down on the ground to get a “duck’s eye” view. People walking past would have thought I looked a little strange (!) but I achieved a series of interesting wildlife images – all taken from a duck’s eye point of view. It was a calm day and the reflection was a bonus.

In example two, a child on his father’s shoulder, it was much easier to shoot at eye level. For this shot, the father was holding the son on his shoulder trying to calm him down. Rather than being ‘down time’ in our family portrait session, it was a great opportunity to shoot an eye level portrait of the child. And briefly he stared directly at me. Nice one.


Shooting at eye level will add interest to children’s portraits

Example 3 are tulips. Rather than shooting down from above flowers, try getting down very low and using the sky as your background. It eliminates a muddy, dirty background and replaces it with a blue plain background which highlights the color of the flowers. It isn’t strictly ‘shooting at eye level’ but it is a very different angle than shooting down from above. It can be challenging to shoot flowers differently – but getting down very low is a great place to start.


Shooting flowers from a very low angle can create unique images

Shooting at eye level often produces outstanding images. Keep this in mind next time you are shooting wildlife, children or flowers.




Why Photographers Should Keep Great Client Records

This month I have been working with a photographer who is running a successful family portrait business. She has been busy booking and shooting local family portraits very consistently for 18 months. It’s a good news story. She is enjoying creating images for local families and is running a healthy business. Right now she faces a slow down in her bookings, and has asked me to help. It has reminded me again why photographers should keep great client records.

To help her, together we have been working through each aspect of her business reviewing what is working, and what is not. Overall it is a very positive picture. She has been busy for 18 months and has a large group of happy clients.

Thinking About Clients

Thinking about clients? Good record keeping will helps generate new work from past clients.

In our discussion, her first question was ‘I’ve never had a slowdown in bookings before – how do I generate more clients?’ My response was – maybe you don’t need new clients. Maybe you just need to contact your old clients to see if you can help them again.

As an example, one of her first clients had a 4 year old and a new born child. It was the arrival of the baby that prompted the family to have the first portrait shoot. My suggestion was that she re-contact this client. The family’s 4 year old will be just over 5 now and is likely to be starting school – what a great time to do another family portrait session. And then we realized – the photographer hadn’t kept contact details for each client. She didn’t have a way to easily contact the family to explore a second shoot.

So that leads us to, why photographers should keep great client records. I have summarized it into 5 key reasons:

(1) Past clients should be future clients. If a client is happy with your service once, they are more likely to be your client again – but you need to have kept their contact details and relevant information. Only a small percentage of past clients will spontaneously contact you years after the original shoot. Collect relevant client information, so you can use it in future.

(2) Times change, but the photographer doesn’t need to. In family photography there is natural change as children grow up. If you have a client with a new born baby, it won’t be long until there are toddler pictures to shoot, birthday parties, and then shots as the child starts school. This progression continues through primary school and into high school. If you do it really well, you may end up shooting their high school graduation images, on to their wedding, and their own children. Think of your client as a relationship you will nurture, not as a one time ‘job’.

Baby in hat

In family photography, there is a natural on going demand for images as the child grows

(3) Clients will send you referrals – make it easy for them. All photographers find that happy clients send them referrals. This is easier for clients if you have kept in touch with them. I sure don’t want a client I worked with saying ‘we’re really happy with the images, but I can’t remember the name of the photographer’. Keeping good records helps you stay in touch. And staying in touch makes it easy for clients to send you referrals.

(4) Past clients are a great source of ‘short notice’ bookings. If you have an opening in your schedule for a shoot next week, past clients offer great potential to fill that gap. Here is the main part of an email I sent to a past client 4 weeks ago “Hi R, I hope you and P are going well. I have had a client cancel their session next Sunday, so I wondered if you would like to do a mini family shoot before the kids go back to school? My normal price is $XXX but as you are my existing client I can offer it to you for $YYY. If you are interested, we can do it in the park near your home. What do you think?” If you have kept your clients email and mobile phone details this is a fast, effective way to fill your calendar.

(5) Happy clients will write testimonials. Social media has made it very easy for word to spread quickly. As photographers offering a service to our clients we need to make the most of this. Keeping good client records makes it easy to ask for testimonials and feedback, which helps to generate more clients.

The photographer who asked for my help now has a system for recording client details and a plan for how and when to contact them. She came to me with a short term business problem, and now has a plan for long term success. I hope this has been helpful to you too, and that you understand why photographers should keep great client records.


Tips for Your First Photography Job

Recently I wrote several posts for first time wedding photographers. You can find those posts here:

This week I have been fielding questions from photographers about to shoot their first paid job. However, they are are not shooting a wedding, but are about to shoot a family portrait. For those readers here are some tips for your first photography job.

The Job

Congratulations on reaching a milestone! Your first paid photography job.

Tip #1 – Focus on Happy Customers. As you get started in paid photography it is easy to obsess about the money you will bring in from this first job. If you find yourself saying ‘this is fantastic, I’m getting paid $500 to shoot family portraits’ you might be falling for this trap. Believe me, this is the wrong area to focus. If you are going to make a living from this – having happy customers is far more important than the amount of money you will get paid from one job. Charge what is fair, and do everything possible to make sure you have a happy client. Happy clients come back again and again, and will refer you to their friends.

Tip #2 – Get a Contract. This point will turn a few people off! But, you need a contract with your client. This will cover what services are being provided for what compensation. Importantly, your contract also needs to cover issues around copyright, use of images, and model releases. If you are a member of your national photographic body they will have sample contracts.

Tip #3 – Know Your Equipment Well. Nothing will turn a paying client off more than if you are trying to work out how to use your equipment while shooting images for them. Shooting in light conditions you are familiar with will limit this risk. If you are used to shooting outdoor, shoot the family portraits in a park. If you primarily do studio work, organize for the shoot to be in a studio. Don’t do a studio shoot if you are not familiar with studio lighting techniques.

Tip #4 – Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Finances. If you are shooting a paid job, the client expects to pay. Make it easy for them – talk about what they need to pay by when, and how they can pay you. It is much better to have this discussion early in your relationship with the client than to leave it.

Tip #5 – Ask for Payment in Advance. I ask for payment in advance for weddings and family portraits and have never had a client balk at this. Again, I make it clear and easy for the client and it is covered in my contract. If the client would like some flexibility in payment terms I am happy to help – but I know I will do a better job if I’m not thinking ‘I wonder if these people are going to pay me?’

Tip #6 – Think About Presentation. The photo shoot is only one element of the client experience. When you are starting out, it is easy to think only about the shoot. You should also consider how will you present the images to your client. Will you take them through a slideshow in their own home? Will you just send them a USB in the mail? The approach you choose makes an impact on your clients experience. Consider the type of experience you want them to have.

Tip #7 – Carry Backups. It is very risky not to have back ups with you on a paid shoot. That includes spare camera body, lens, memory cards, batteries, and flashes. If you are starting out you may not own back ups of all of these. If that’s the case, ask a friend and borrow their gear.

I hope these tips for your first photography job have been useful. If you have any questions, please comment on this post. I will be happy to try and answer them. And if you have lots of questions I’ll write another post on this topic. Thanks for reading this post. Good luck for your first photography job.


Focus on generating a happy customer not maximising the financial return from your first job.

Making This Image

I had a canvas print of this image on my studio wall before it went to the client. It drew lots of questions about how it was created. How did I make her hair go like that? How do you get a pure white background? Is that shape real? And lots more. Below I have outlined the steps in making this image.

Portrait Photography

Unique portraits like this one don’t need to be complex or very time consuming

Step 1 – Plaits. This young lady has very, very long hair. She is tall and it goes all the way down her back. Step 1 was to get her mum to plait it. I didn’t see this part, but it must have taken some time for such long hair!

Step 2 – Studio set up. This shot was taken in studio, against a white background. I have written an earlier post about how to get a pure white background. If you don’t have a studio backdrop you can achieve the same effect with a white wall or nearly white wall. I had two lights with small soft boxes on them positioned on left and right at 45 degrees to the subject. You can see the catch-lights from those in her eyes.

Step 3 – Shaping the hair. In this image, I was aiming for a fun / quirky image. To shape her hair – we improvised! We unwound a wire coat hangar and threaded it through the middle of her plait. That made it possible to create a range of different shapes from her plait. The coat hangar protruded out of her hair. In this image it protruded to the left, where her mother was holding it.

Step 4 – Removing the visible part of the coat hangar. In each of this small series of images, part of the coat hangar was visible. It stuck out from her hair, and out of frame where her mum was holding it. To remove the coat hangar wire from the image required less than 5 minutes in post production, using the stamp tool to replace the wire with pure white from the background.

It does not need a long tedious studio session and hours in post production to make interesting images. This one took about 20 minutes from beginning to end (after her hair was plaited!!) I hope this was helpful to you, and that you understand the process for making this image. Do you have a story to tell about making unique portraits?

Manly Urban

Today we have a guest post from Renate Hechter from Pure Dynamics Photography in Sydney, Australia. Earlier this year Renate launched a new twist on family portraits – a concept called Manly Urban. In this post, she explains Manly Urban.

Thank you again Craig for giving me the opportunity to post on Beyond Here.

I have the privilege of living near one of the most beautiful areas in the world.  I do not think anyone that has been to Sydney and more to the point, Manly, would disagree with me.  One is surrounded by beautiful expanses of blue ocean, with the heads in the background on one side and Manly beach on the other side.  If you have ever been on the Manly ferry, you would agree that it one of the most iconic and picturesque methods of public transport.  All in all, to be able to have this view, day in – day out, is not only a blessing, but a calling to a photographer.


Manly Urban. Family portraits with famous Manly backgrounds. Copyright Renate Hechter.

For any photographer, it is important to create a service that is new and different to new and existing clients.  I have come up with the ManlyUrban idea, as people not only love to get some photographs of the area they live in, but it also provide a beautiful and modern back-drop for some stunning and different photographs. Manly also has a huge expat community, so it is a great keep-safe of your “home away from home”.

As you walk around and through Manly, you will realise it is a treasure-chest of scenic and urban areas. Here are some of my favourite areas.

  1.  Manly Ferry/Heads (in the background)
Family portrait

Manly Urban. Families in context. Copyright Renate Hechter.

The Manly Ferry is a tradition.  Since 1855 it is a “must do” for visitors.  It is the way Manly locals commute to Sydney. It operates 7 days a week, day and night.  It is one of the most picturesque and relaxing commutes in the world.  What a wonderful way to include this as a backdrop for a photograph.  The same is to be said for the famous Sydney Heads, which is the 2 kilometer-wide entrance to Sydney Harbour. People from all over the world will recognize it and these are some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks.

  1.  Manly Corso

Manly, Sydney, Australia. Copyright Renate Hechter

The Corso is a busy and bustling place.  It provides direct access from the Manly Ferry Wharf to Manly beach.  It is also the main shopping area of Manly.  You get locals, tourists, buskers, mum and babies, school children, toddlers in the playground, retirees, surfers, skateboarders and many more all mixed together and wandering about.  Being photographed in the Corso takes some courage, as soon a crowd of people will gather to see what you are up to.  (My urban ballerina kept her cool in the Corso, even though she was surrounded by holiday-makers).

  1.  Murals

Murals make vibrant backgrounds. Copyright Renate Hechter.

There are a number of murals in different alley-ways in Manly that provide fabulous backdrops for urban photography.  Note, Manly Urban are not just for children.  My friend, Liz, is a local business owner and a Manly local.  As an artist (www.muktiart.com.au) she loved the opportunity to have a photograph taken in her beloved Manly in an area where the photograph could double as a piece of art.

When you visit Sydney again, make sure you get your Manly fix. You may even see me shooting Manly Urban in different locations! Please STOP and say HI!

Photographing Babies

Recently on Beyond Here we had guest contributor Renate Hechter of Pure Dynamics Photography in Sydney, Australia contribute a post titled Newborn Photography Some Easy But Essential Tips. Coinciding with that, I had the opportunity to photograph a 6 week old baby. Photographing babies is always special, but this was more special as I had photographed the parents wedding in 2012. Here is an outline of how the shoot went, and some insights and tips for photographing babies.

Baby Photography

Work to baby’s needs. If baby wants to stay in mum’s arms, let him or her.

Preparation. We organised the shoot to be in the morning to fit in with baby’s normal routine. We discussed clothing before the shoot, and the parents brought several changes of clothes for baby and for themselves. We concentrated on solid colours which would look good in colour or black and white. We avoided patterns.

The session was held in my studio and in preparation I made sure we had:

  • the heater on, so the room was nice and warm
  • a place where the parents could put their bag
  • a chair where mum could feed baby
  • back drops in place and ready to go
  • lighting in place and ready to go
  • a bean bag handy which we could position baby on
  • 2 camera bodies with lenses on, to save on time changing lenses
Baby Photography

Converting images to black and white helps keep focus on baby and not on any minor imperfections

On the Day. When the clients arrived the baby was wide awake and looking very alert for a 6 week old! It must have been all the new sights and sounds and smells. However, despite all our best preparations baby was reasonably unsettled throughout the shoot. While he was fed several times and kept nice and warm, it was just one of those days where he had other things on his mind apart from being the ‘perfect model’. Not to worry! This is quite normal for really little babies and so it important to remain relaxed – and to keep mum and dad relaxed. In this case, mum and dad were well prepared and not in a hurry so we did have time, and enough cooperation from the model, to get them some ‘A’ grade images.

Shot Plan. I plan my shots and poses before the client arrives and make sure I have any equipment on hand. That is helpful for making the most of the time, but it is more important to remain flexible. If baby wants to stay in mum’s arms – let him or her. There will be time to do all the shots planned, they will just need to be done in an order and a time which baby is happy with.

The Results. Don’t worry – this story has a good end. Firstly, we all had a relaxed and enjoyable time. Baby wasn’t the perfect model, but we all had fun and we have finished with a number of ‘A’ grade images for the family. This was a good reminder to not get stressed if baby is not perfect. You will have a short window of opportunity when baby is settled to get those images you need. Be patient and be ready.

Baby photography

A hat or beanie helps make a baby’s head look normal and to keep warm

Insights. There were several things which went really well from this shoot that are worth taking as insights or tips. They were:

  • ask parents to bring several changes of clothes for baby and themselves. At this shoot, baby had a “call of nature” on his dad. Dad had a change of clothes, so we had no problems and a funny story to tell!
  • include several hats or beanies for baby. A baby’s head can look disproportionately large compared to its body. A hat will make it look in proportion
  • be flexible. This was essential in this session. We worked to baby’s routine and got a good outcome
  • relax. It helps the parents relax too. They need to have an enjoyable time as well as having nice images
  • it’s not about volume. You don’t need hundreds of great shots for very little ones. This shoot is capturing a moment in time, and a handful of good images will do that
  • convert images to black and white. Black and white is very effective in newborn photography. It helps to focus on the beautiful little parcel, and not on skin imperfections or colouring

Do you have a story to tell from photographing babies? Key lessons learnt? Tips for good outcomes?

This Is Why

Why do I shoot family portraits? It’s not for the money, or to win awards, or for fun. It’s because it matters. It’s important. This is why I shoot family portraits.

Below is the story of my most important portraits ever. I will take technically better images, but I will never take a more important series.

I had the good fortune to take portraits of this lady over a period of 18 months. They were impromptu sessions, and I took just a few images each time. They were not in ideal lighting conditions or with any particular preparation. There was no hair and make up done in advance. I had the camera, and she was ok with having her picture taken – briefly.

At the time of this image she was in her mid 70’s and undergoing treatment for cancer. That included several rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Cancer Patient

Cancer patient. My most important portrait series ever.

She lost her hair early in the chemotherapy treatment. The hair you see is a wig. After she lost her natural hair I didn’t ever see her without a wig or a hat to cover her head.

Sadly she has passed away, after an extended battle with cancer.

This image was used on the card sent to friends and family inviting them to come together to celebrate her life. Another of my images was used on the cover of the order of service. Another, with her husband of 48 years, was on the back cover. The same image was used on thank you cards sent to friends after the funeral.

The family have great memories of this lady – and a small series of portraits to pass down the generations. It matters. It’s important. This is why I shoot family portraits.

The lady in the picture passed away on 6 June 2014, two days short of her seventy sixth birthday.

She is my mum.

It matters. It’s important. This is why.