Celebrating 14 Years – Newborn Photographer Macarthur
WELCOME!! Today’s post is all about being in business. Being a newborn photographer in Camden and Macarthur for 14 years to be exact! Not an easy feat! It is an exciting time and I can’t wait to see what the next 14 years will bring, but for now, it is time to celebrate and reflect on the past 14 years of being your professional portrait photographer.
Next month (November) I will be celebrating 14 years in business, it took me a while to realise the achievement that this is, but now it is sinking in and I am looking into what it is that has given me the platform to do what I do best for 14 years. As a newborn photographer in Camden and Macarthur I have always flown solo, I prefer it that way, having someone book my clients, or speak to my clients for me will mean outsourcing one of the most important things in my business being my client relationship.
I think this is key to my longevity, treating my clients like family and adding to that my passion for what I do and the message I am promoting.
While being a small business can be very challenging at times, and also a lot of work… I love what I have to offer families and I know in 15- 20 the families I photograph will be able to further see the true value of our ventures. This is what I live for, this is what keeps me going despite the difficulties that come along.
Ultimately, I believe I have a few gifts that contribute to my way of doing business. I can see light easily, I can visualise concepts that don’t yet exist, I can see people really quickly and easily and make a connection with them, giving them the freedom and comfort to let their true selves be seen. Only then can I take a photo that is more than a likeness, take a photo that is soul soaked and brimming with life and love.
Creating meaningful portraits that make us light up just simply doesn’t feel like work at all to me, its an honour to work for the beautiful clients who put their faith in me to document their family and create something lasting and special. Being able to document a family, their bond and connection, pulling out the beautiful and good stuff from the routine of daily life looking after little ones is something I am grateful to be able to share.
I focus on the good, the people who speak my language, love, value and appreciate what I do for them and invite them into the Dragonfly Family where I can look after them even more.
I often get requests from TAFE and Uni students to complete a series of questions for their assessments, I always make sure I take the time to answer the best I can, I answer questions about how I run my business, what products are popular, why I shoot where I do… but the last question is usually the one that means the most. They ask for my best advice for someone starting out in their photographic career. This is my response: Be sure to follow your own creative heart. See what achieving photographers are doing to inspire and set the bar for the level of skill and creativity to reach then stop looking outside and only look within. Give yourself a chance to see what you have inside of you. You could be the next Max Dupain – who knows what gifts you hold inside, the most important thing is you quieten yourself every now and then and listen, let it out, experiment, fail, find what calls you, what lights you up and master it. Pursue it with everything you have. There are people out there wishing someone with your skill and creativity would be brave enough to let it out. In a world where so many regurgitate other peoples work, authenticity is becoming rare. Go find what makes you, you. Learn all the rules and then break them all. And be sure to enjoy the process.
I have seen the industry change in ways I never expected… its been adjustment after adjustment to overcome hurdles and keep my head above water all while raising my own young family. I have reluctantly shifted across from film to digital (even though we thought digital would never take over ;)) I’ve discarded most of my darkroom techniques and mastered the various software applications I needed to know in order to move forward. I’ve constantly upgraded and rolled with the punches as digital cameras attempted to achieve the same level of quality film could produce. I’ve seen my industry become slowly undervalued and unappreciated with a flood of people buying digital cameras and charging other people for them to take photos without any skill, experience or even a registration of business name let alone public liability insurance. I have also seen this turn around with people being burnt, being completely disappointed with photos taken of their precious newborn in the early days. I have tried to recover this for them and do my best to correct their mistake in not choosing a specialised professional. I have seen businesses come and go, I have thought about shutting up shop and starting a new online photographic venture taking macros of nature. I have redirected a thousand times. I have built a solid reputation and brand awareness that brings people to my little town of Camden from anywhere from 2 to 4 hours away, I have earned awards on a state, national and international level. I have been published in Australia and overseas. I have committed myself to upskilling every year, I have photographed over 100 families each year. I have discovered that photographing families is in my blood, it is my calling and what I am supposed to do while here on earth. For someone like me, who has worked so hard, and come so far, put everything I have into my work, coming out the other side of the digital camera/phone explosion and having families once again seek the quality and skill a highly trained professional can provide helps me keep the faith and take my business to the next level.
October marks the month I no longer offer online viewing of client portfolios. I know this is convenient and seemingly easier for clients, especially those with newborns but it has become apparent that clients need my help all the way through the entire process.
I give advice and assistance regarding clothing, location, the best time to start for the best light, I walk them through our session, and so it only makes sense I walk clients through the hardest part of choosing what to do next with their photos. This way I can be sure my clients are completely aware of all print and display options and have chosen what is best for them.
I always say to my clients; if you are happy, I am happy 🙂
Placing client photos online also opens up the risk of photo theft, some clients unfortunately think it is ok to screen shot watermarked photos and place them on their social media accounts.
My studio has recently received a substantial upgrade which now allows me to give my clients a private portfolio viewing and a cinematic experience. I have so many display and print options in my studio ready for clients to see, touch and feel so they know exactly what they will be receiving at the end of the experience. I have my work framed on my studio walls – large and small. I have boxed canvases, wood prints, albums or every kind, portrait boxes and lots of little treasures as well.
I have been able to provide this service for a handful of clients and the response has been great! I have also been able to first hand see the thought process for my clients as they see their portraits and consider their options… this has given me a great insight and I have structured a process that makes choosing fun, simple and easy. Having my knowledge and experience during the final stage of your portrait experience is invaluable.
All session fees now include a Portfolio Presentation and Ordering appointment, my session fee hasn’t changed, my pricing hasn’t changed at all, its just an added level of service I would like to provide.
I have further plans to take my business and my work to the next level. This years up-skilling was business related and has really opened my eyes to a whole new way of doing business. My up-skilling for 2020 will be photography related, I can’t wait, up-skilling photographically feeds my soul and creative heart. I am looking forward to bringing you a new level of creativity, technique and skill.
I have to say a quick thank you to each and every one of the 1200 to 1400 families I have photographed in the past 14 years, I think I will leave the celebrations for next year as 15 years rolls in. Its hard to believe the newborns I once photographed are now in high school. As a parent of a teen myself I know just how incredibly special those pregnancy, newborn and early year photographs are. That time has passed for me, my babies are creating a little space and making their own way in the world, but I know I can go back to that time via photographs whenever I wish to go… and so can they.
October is small business month, please support your local small business, whether you are looking for a newborn photographer in Camden or someone to fix your fence… we work to put food on the table and get the kids to their soccer games. We often go on a limb as being a small business can be shaky ground. Support your local small business whenever you can. Small Business Month.
Contact Karen here to start planning your own newborn portrait session.
Newborn Photographer Macarthur