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Newborn photography was where it all began for me, and since then, I have photographed over 500 precious babies. For many years, I was known as the newborn photographer in my area. And then the digital era came, and suddenly anyone could call herself a photographer. As professionals, we all know how frustrating this can be. To the untrained eye, these photos were “good enough” and a heck of a lot cheaper than mine. To continue in this industry and make a living for myself, it became increasingly important to get creative with my marketing and educate my clients.
Word-of-mouth marketing is essential. Moms talk. By establishing your brand in the community—through your network, personality and quality of work—you will hear the phone ringing consistently. This applies to all aspects of your business. Here’s how I market newborns at my studio.
We have displays in the local hospital, OB/GYN offices, chiropractor offices and pediatrician offices, as well as the local mall. How do we manage that? We asked. What’s the worst they can say? But they didn’t say no. Why? Because of the relationships and reputation I have built.
Through these displays, clients come to me because they see me everywhere. How did I get everywhere? I know my clients. I know who my ideal client is. I know where he/she works. I know where he/she likes to go. You need to know what type of client you want, and market specifically to her. For newborn clients, go to hospitals; for high school seniors, go to malls; for families, go to pediatric offices. You would be silly not to display your work in every place you can.
At the mall, we have a large wall between Macy’s and the movie theater. I have a variety of images displayed on this wall. My monthly cost for this is $600. This is the only display I pay for.
Instagram and Facebook are our best friends in social media. We are constantly documenting behind the scenes at our studio. We document me holding the baby, me posing, the baby, and anything else we feel helps tell the story of our day with a newborn client—or any client, for that matter. We immediately upload to Instagram and use hashtags (#andersonphotographs, #newbornphotography, #washingtoncounty, #maryland, #marylandphotographeroftheyear).
These are just a small sampling of ideas. Make sure you are including the city, county and state. You never know who is searching under those hashtags. Our Instagram is set up to go directly to my personal Facebook page and Twitter. This alleviates having to duplicate posts over and over. We then copy and paste the same upload to the business page. We want everyone to know what we are doing in the moment. It shows that we truly are a full-service, full-time studio.
Client communication is key. You need to educate your clients from the moment the phone rings. Explain the session time, what they need to bring and what they should expect to spend.
When a client inquires about a newborn session, we always say:
“We schedule a three-hour time slot. It doesn’t always take that long, but we want to ensure we have plenty of time to capture all the images needed. We need the baby ‘milk drunk.’ That means when you arrive at the studio, you will begin feeding the baby. We want that baby asleep—passed out—because this allows us to move the newborn as needed. Bring extra diapers and formula if baby is bottle-feeding. Bring a blanket and any sentimental items you want your baby photographed with, along with a pacifier (even if baby doesn’t take a pacifier). Sometimes that pacie is all we need to get baby into a deep sleep. We will provide the rest.”
If Mom and Dad want to be photographed, have them bring a solid black shirt, or I will put Mom in a strapless gown and Dad can be shirtless.
I want newborns under the age of two weeks; at this age, they are still moldable, meaning I can squish them into curled positions and they will stay asleep. I can move their hands and neck to exactly where I want them. I have photographed newborns up to eight weeks of age—still doable, it just takes a bit more time and patience.
We do all in-person sales at our studio using ProSelect to maximize our sales and truly provide a personalized service. Sales sessions are best held within one week of the portrait session. We want to capitalize on the emotional connection of the images. Once a client enters our studio for a session, I cover these points.
- How did you hear about our studio?
- What are your plans for these images? Where do you want to place them in your home?
- Whatever your budget is, I want to spend it wisely.
- Anyone who needs to be involved with financial decisions needs to be at the order session.
- You will be making your purchasing decisions on the day of your sales session.
See the video for further explanation of what I communicate to our clients, along with a quick tour of our sales room.
Although I don’t use a ton of props in our studio (I like the focus to be on the newborn), I do see value in having them. Having these items in our studio allows our clients to pick and choose their favorites based on the décor of their home. We have mesh and knitted wraps, furs, hats, headbands, bowls and baskets, beanbags, pearls, flowers, etc.
For newborns, I prefer to use 100 percent natural light. This is the only session in which I try to stay away from off-camera flash. Natural light provides a soft and beautiful light that just wraps around the baby. When needed, I use a reflector and/or SweetLight’s constant lights. I love SweetLight’s lighting system, which is daylight-balanced and acts like a huge window for me, providing beautiful light in any condition.
My camera gear:
These lenses allow me to capture incredible images from the front, overhead and all the detail shots I want.
-Portable heater to keep the room warm
-Small hand towels that I put under the furs, which allows me to lift the baby up a bit
-Posing blocks to tuck under the newborn, allowing me to further sculpt the pose
-I love using gloves with newborns because they keep my hands warm
-A noise machine on the waterfall setting keeps a consistent sound throughout the studio; this allows me to communicate with Mom/Dad, staff, etc., while keeping the baby sound asleep
-I use a Sirius Satellite system to play music in the background; typically set to the “Coffee House” channel
-Silverlake brand backdrops, floors and baseboards provide the right look for the background
-Hand sanitizer (which we use constantly)
Newborn photography can be extremely rewarding. Be patient, create a relaxing environment, use the proper tools and techniques, and you too can be known as the Baby Whisperer.