How many times have you heard, you get what you pay for.. How many times has that been true?? Don’t worry, I’m not going to rant..
I’m going to take you back to my first newborn shoot.. Yes, that’s right.. You’re going to be taking a walk down memory lane with me…
My first newborn session was in September 2010 (as in, not my own baby, and shooting the session for free.) I was shooting with a Pentax k5 and a 50-135mm 2.8 lens. In auto. In my downstairs living room. With all FIVE of my props I owned. I was excited. I had this beautiful little red head baby, who was almost a month old. I went to work. A few hours later I had some shots I was thrilled with. Mom was thrilled. We were both happy.
I pulled them up in Lightroom, and had no idea how to fix all the color casts. I ended up “covering” them up with some Lightroom presets. In the end, mama still has memories of her baby girl at her tiniest and a memory is a memory.
Shortly after, I began getting phone calls for newborn sessions. Typically booking them around a month old. I was shooting in my dining room, with a very minimal selection of blankets and hats to choose from. At this point, I decided that I needed to charge for my time. I had no idea where to even begin. I posted a price online that I thought I was worth (which wasn’t much. I think the whole session was 150.00.) I had a few sessions here and there, ran a few contests on Facebook, and crossed my fingers. Business slowly started picking up. I was getting more practice, and figuring things out. Before I knew it, I was having to to turn people away because I was so booked up.
My hubby and I decided that being in the dining room was a HUGE inconvenience and we needed to do something different. I was no where near moving to a commercial location, but we DID have a shop in our back yard that we never did anything with. A few months later, we made the decision that it was time. By March of 2011 (and thousands of dollars later) the shop, was now my very own space. It was great, but I still had to pay for move, and I needed insurance for one. To cover these expenses, I had to raise my prices again.
May 2011 (One of my first shoots in the new studio)
By Summer of 2011 things were blossoming. My business was growing, and I was getting better at what I loved. I was starting to fine tune my skills, and figure out my style. Again, I was turning people away because I was booked full. I decided it was time for a price increase again. I hated doing this, but with upgrading to a new camera (which meant getting insurance to cover that,) adding more variety to my props (which I always kept fresh, and sometimes ordered items for a specific shoot,) things were adding up. fast. Once again, business slowed, but that was ok. I was still booking, but at a more comfortable rate. I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore. I continued to chug along, making small changes here and there. (I promise the beginning will tie into the end.)
Fast forward to spring of 2012… Business was great. I felt great, but I wanted my “home” back. I wanted my privacy back. It was time to find another space. Something that scared the hell out of me. I knew this was a HUGE step in my business. I had been eyeing a building for the past two years thinking, “that would be a cool space, IF it had enough light.” I finally decided to stop one day.. Ok, it was more like pulling a “fast and the furious” move in my big suburban. I’m pretty sure I may have “drifted” into the parking lot.I peeked through the windows, and immediately knew THIS was my space. I also knew moving to this space would mean, AGAIN, more expense. More insurance, legal forms, more furniture, more stuff to hold all my stuff. It was overwhelming. The moment I signed that contract, meant i was responsible for paying that rent every month, no matter what.. I wanted to run the other way but knew deep down this was the best thing for my business, and my home. I was finally separating my personal life, from my business life.
When I moved in, I was oblivious to all the new taxes and expenses that would come up. Again, time to restructure my pricing. (I swear, it’s a never ending process, and once you think you have it perfected, something else comes up.)
Once again, business slowed, but I kept my fingers crossed, said a little prayer, and kept chugging along.
I loved my new space. I loved my new light (even though I had to relearn everything I had grown comfortable with in my old studio.) My shooting space was huge, and I had so much room to move around in. While learning the light, and getting comfortable with the “newness” that surrounded me, I worked hard on perfecting the details in each shoot. (I’m always striving to be better than I was yesterday.) I’m constantly feeling the need to grow and change.
Fast forward again.. (Or we would be here all day.)January, when Piper was born, I was so excited to get her in the studio. I got there, and filtered through all my stuff.. All my stuff i THOUGHT I would love on her.. I was going to simple things on her. I began to realize, I was having an identity crises.(Yes, we ALL go through it.) I didn’t know who I was, or who/what I wanted to be. Having Piper made me realize that what I was, wasn’t who I wanted to be. Does that make sense? (I promise, I’m getting to the point.)
My two favorite images from Piper’s newborn session
So here I am, five months later, hormones chilled out, realizing that I am already ME. I have a style, even if I can’t quite pinpoint what that style is. Yes, I did end up getting rid of a bunch of stuff, but I restocked with stuff that is still me.. Just in a simpler version. I’m at a turning point in my career, where I am moving towards more timeless.. Less trendy, all with that Stephanie Krupicka flare. I still love my pops of color with my neutrals, and I will always be a sucker for props. I have always tried to keep baby the focus of the image, which I think I have done a good job at. I’m just growing, and molding into what I really want my work to look like.
ALMOST four years later, I finally have the confidence to say, “I am a newborn Photographer.” Will I ever stop growing and changing? Probably not, but I look back to my very first shoot and feel lucky to have made it this far. From doing shoots not knowing what I was doing, or how to REALLY use my camera, to now. Knowing how to use my camera, and how to use light to make ART. How to pose those babies so they are comfortable, happy, and relaxed.
As my business grew, so did my experience level. As I get got bigger, so did my expenses.. In the end, be YOU. Charge what you are worth, but be honest with yourself. Be honest and up front with your clients. If you are still portfolio building, TELL them. You do get what you pay for. No matter what it is. If you go to a five star restaurant, you expect a five star meal. If you go to McDonald’s, you expect a cheeseburger. There will always be photographers in everyone’s budget, and in the end, a memory of your child is priceless, no matter who does it, but always remember, this is a time you will never get back. If you are a photographer, be honest and up front. If you are a mommy, choose wisely. we all start somewhere, and yes, i will be honest and say that I do tend to forget that, BUT, we all grow over time. Don’t try to be anyone else. Don’t imitate others. Let go of competition. Once you get past the point of caring about what everyone else is doing, especially local, you will find yourself flourishing. I don’t care what others are doing. I focus on my business, and my clients, and THAT is part of what makes me, ME.
Hope you enjoyed my honest little ramble.
That’s all for now. Enjoy your little ones!