Today I was fortunate enough to photograph the second baby in this adorable family. They came to me 2 1/2 years ago, when I was just starting my photography business and I am honored that they chose me to capture their second newborn too! Meet Isaac and his big sister Alana:
I want to take this opportunity to share a little bit of advice to others who want to start a photography business, and specifically those interested in newborn portraiture.
Here are a few from baby Alana, in September 2009
And a couple of baby Isaac today, April 2012
Here is my (humble) advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a newborn photography business:
Take your Time: In the beginning, I focused on learning the basics of how to shoot in manual mode with my camera, how to focus, expose, and post process carefully and cleanly. It takes some people a few months to learn those things, it takes others a few years. There are so many websites and forums out there with tutorials and step-by-step directions on everything from aperture to photoshop. Learn a little at a time and continue to grow!
Don't get in over Your Head: I started my business with a few basic tools and props. I did not spend more than I made - and I was not making much. I had a couple blankets, a boppy pillow, and a few hats. I didn't even attempt anything with complicated backdrops and setups (no hanging babies or baskets and props!) for a long time. Nailing posing is tough - I'm still learning with every session - and learning what works takes time. No need to start with the most complicated shots. Your facebook fans will wait!
Value your Time: Charge your clients and raise your prices every few months in the beginning. I raised my prices every time I felt that my work had grown. Your clients will grow with you if they see your work increasing in value. But if you don't value yourself, no one will. Time is money. Calculate how many hours you spend each session and divide your fee by that many hours. That will give you just a small idea of how much you're working for. Is it 5 bucks an hour - is that worth it to you? You must learn how to run a business - if you love photography and just want to do it for friends and family, do it for free and don't even start a website, Facebook page, etc. Be a hobbiest and continue to love it! Running a business is a lot of work and you need to be willing to put in tons of time and effort to be legal and do it right. If that doesn't sound like something you want, don't start a business at all! If that sounds like something you want, learn about how to appropriately price your work so that you are compensated for your time and talent.
Practice, Practice, Practice: And when you think you've got it, practice some more! Pick one thing every time you shoot to focus on. It might be exposure, it might be tack sharp focus, it might be a particular pose. But when you focus on one thing rather than everything all at once, the small victories pile up and before you know it, you're well on your way to producing awesome newborn shots!