Category Archives: Helpful Articles

6 Tips for a Successful Session, with Kristen McKay

pinterest-branding-horiz-(final)km

At the heart of it all, I am a mom. I am busy, always pulled in 100 different directions, am forever watching our budget, and my family is my world. When I became a professional photographer, I developed my business based on what I would look for when hiring a photographer and how an ideal session for my family would be run. Here are my tips for not only a successful session but creating a great customer experience.

kristen_mckay1

1. Create an Experience for Your Clients

From our first interaction via email or social media, to a hand-written thank you letter after a session, I want my clients to feel important, special, and that their session was customized to their unique family needs.

When clients reflect on their experience, I want it to feel personalized, well-organized and easy! After all, as family and child photographers, most of our interactions are with busy moms who are wanting beautiful keepsakes but don’t want the experience to feel like a second job.

kristen_mckay2

2. Make it EASY

Families are busy. I don’t want them to dread their session or any of the session “to-dos”. I use an online all-in-one management system that streamlines and simplifies the process both for my clients and myself. Payments, contracts, questionnaires are all handled in one place and online. I can’t tell you how many clients have thanked me for such a simple process.

kristen_mckay3

3. Communicate Expectations Prior to the Session

I would say 80% of your success will come from taking the time to communicate properly with your clients prior to your session. Provide a general outline of the process, give them ideas on styling, give them your contingent plan in case of weather or illness. Also, a lot of the general information can be gathered in a simple questionnaire. Ask questions like, Who will take part in the session? What are their ages? What are your ‘must have’ shots? What is your family’s style? What makes you laugh? What do you like to do together?

All of these questions help you to get to know the family, understand their needs and then help you formulate a plan for their session.

kristen_mckay4

4. Prepare a Gameplan

This doesn’t have to be formal. Once I get the questionnaire from the family and know ages, types of shots they want, etc. I prepare a mental gameplan for the session. I determine the location, depending on the time of day, I know general areas within the location to use, I plan props if necessary (like stools, benches, chairs, blankets), I determine the shot list (for example, if a family shot is most important, that is what we focus on first). Finally, but certainly not least, I think about the equipment I will need (lenses, lighting, etc.) and how I will use it.

kristen_mckay5

5. Be Yourself

It’s the day of the session and the family hired you because of your work, your style and because you’re you! You have prepared for the session, contracts and payments are all taken care of, you have the gameplan in your head. All you need to do is be you and do what you do best.

Welcome the family, briefly get acquainted, verbally review the general plan with the family and get to it! Have fun with it, shooting is the fun and creative part!

kristen_mckay6

6. Follow Up

After the session, I always send a thank you email within 24 hours. I thank them for their time, try to mention a memorable moment from our time together and lastly provide them a timeline on when to expect their gallery and where to look for it.

After the gallery is delivered, as part of my client experience, I like to send a hand-written note. I tell them how much I love their final gallery, that I can’t wait to work with them again and I also include a small gift as a thank you for their patronage.
A successful photography session is not just about producing great photography, it’s actually just one slice of the pie. Yes, your images and style will draw customers in, but the experience you create and the service you provide will produce referrals and repeat clients that will set your business apart and make you successful in the long-term!

 

Kristen McKay is a portrait and lifestyle photographer operating in the Highland, Milford, Commerce, and White Lake, Michigan areas. For more from Kristen, and for booking inquiries, please visit her website, and Like Kristen McKay Photography on Facebook.

Re-Branding to Fit Your Passion: An Interview with Heather Floyd of Floyd Family Photography

As an organization dedicated to passionate artists, we at NAPCP can certainly relate to the fluid aspects of art — including and especially photography. NAPCP member Heather Floyd, of Floyd Family Photography, decided last year that portrait photography was no longer primarily what she wanted to give her clientele. How do you re-brand without losing your mind and your client base? What made Heather decide she wanted to make the change to documentary photography and video? Read on to find out and be inspired!

NAPCP: We would love to know more about you and how you started your photography journey …
Heather Floyd:
My journey started long ago as I watched my mother take beautiful photos of me and my family growing up. With a borrowed enlarger and dark room, my mom developed her own film and we have many keepsake photo memories to remind us of those days. The days in which I was young, alive and free. I will never forget that time of my life and I wanted so badly to be able to give that to other people. I never thought I could actually make a true living at it so I did it as a job “on the side” for many years before deciding to quit my full time job as a veterinary technician. Many photography classes and a few life lessons later, I have decided that documentary photography is where my heart lies. And while photos are definitely a huge part of that, movies just seem to be that next awesome step in documented life. Nothing compares to little voices and the pitter patter of small feet as they run down the hallway. You can’t get that in photos. Your imagination has to come in someplace. With video, there is nothing left to the imagination other than what is not featured. Can you tell I love my job?

20151018-MVI_7817-1

NAPCP: You’re moving your business into documentary video and photography. What is it that draws you to that niche? What prompted the change in your brand?
Heather Floyd:
This last year, as I mentioned, I changed my views as to what I wanted to give my clients. Portraits are still a part of my business but a large part of what I offer is documentary photography. I want people to have the memories that I was left with as a child. Those spontaneous, silly, funny moments that, without photos, would possible be forgotten. Learning about the documentary vision that video can have, I was naturally drawn to the story telling aspect of it. It seems to be next step in today’s world of documentary photography and I am in love.

20151018-MVI_7838-1

NAPCP: Describe your ideal session.
Heather Floyd:
My ideal session would include anything that warms the heart of the family I am photographing. I truly want to capture the  moments that make them special an unique and I can only do that after I get to know them a little bit. In person consultations or lengthy phone conversations can sometimes be the best way to meet people. I can talk for hours when it comes to other people’s lives and what makes them thrive and strive. Listening to personal stories is my favorite thing to do.

20151018-MVI_7840-2

NAPCP: Why is video important in this industry? What is your favorite camera/lens for shooting video?
Heather Floyd:
I believe that video is the “next best thing” when it comes to documentary storytelling. It really is the next best thing to a still photo. While a still photo can show you a lot of emotion, the video can tell you the emotion. It really is a different feeling. I think it is important for this area of the industry to grow so that we can more creative ideas spun from this and possibly merge into something else in the future. Who knows what technology will bring forth? But for now- all I have to shoot video is my typical every day camera – my canon 6D. Zoom lenses don’t typically work as well or as easily for video in my opinion than prime lenses, but everyone has their own style when it comes to what gear to use. Are there better cameras out there? Sure. There is new technology coming out all the time. But does it matter? No. The important thing is that you are documenting life.

20151018-MVI_7850-1

NAPCP: There is very real richness and texture to your work. How did you decide to embrace life’s ‘beautiful messes’ as your style?
Heather Floyd:
While I am my biggest critic, I think that is the best thing I have heard about my work. “Life’s beautiful messes” is what life is all about. Nobody is perfect and nobody can claim to be. If we don’t remember life’s imperfections, then we have nothing to strive for, nothing to laugh at and nothing worth remembering. And, who wants “perfect” anyway?

20151018-MVI_7910-1

NAPCP: What advice do you have for others who want to change the direction or nature of their photography business?
Heather Floyd:
I think my best advice for someone that wants to change the way they do their business is that you just have to do it. If you have a passion for something, it will show in your work. People will see the difference in how you showcase it and they will want to be a part of it. It’s not just about showing people what you want to shoot, it’s also about showing people why it’s important to you and why it should be important to them. You succeed in that and you all become winners.

 

A big thank you to Heather for taking the time to speak with us about video in photography, and being brave in business changes! For more from Heather, visit her website, and Like Floyd Family Photography on Facebook.

 

Editor’s Note: The images throughout this post are stills captured from Heather’s lovely video. Thanks to her for allowing us to share them as well!

NAPCP Retreat: Live Portfolio Review

portfolio review

Today we have a special treat for you — a video of the Live Portfolio Review, hosted by Dan Brouillette, and 2014 Photographer of the Year Jennifer Kapala,  from the NAPCP Retreat.

This video has wonderful tips for submitting your images in the January 2016 International Image Competition (open now!, and ending February 18th). Submit your most striking work now; we encourage you not to wait until the last minute.

Log in to NAPCP’s member-exclusive Video Resources page with your NAPCP credentials to view this fantastic resource!

6 Ways to Prepare for a Newborn Session

pinterest-branding-horiz-(final)nb

Hi! I’m Natalie Balen-Cinelli, owner and operator of Lolabean Photography. I’m in my 5th year as a full-time newborn photographer and, like many of you, I discovered my love of photographing newborns and children when my oldest daughter was born. I quickly became obsessed with documenting her every move. Fast forward two years, and I took the leap to build my own business, leaving behind a successful career in brand management, and I’ve never looked back. I love the completely unaffected nature of newborns and children and I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than the bond between parents and their new little loves.

Here are a few tips on how I prepare for a newborn session, during the week leading up to the session, and right up to the night before:

Natalie Balen-1

Natalie Balen-3

The Week before a Session:

Touch Base with the Client: I’ll usually ask the client to add me to their welcome email, or to designate a close friend or family member to give me the big news – this way, I can pencil in a few options for a session date and give new parents a minute to catch their breath before contacting me. Once I connect with the client we discuss what type of images are important to them, any inspiration they’ve seen and would like to try, and a review of wardrobe options.

Natalie Balen-4

Newborn Prep Sheet: I’ll email the client a brief document with tips for getting the most out of the session, including how to best prepare baby the morning of the session, as well as big sisters and brothers (especially big brothers and sisters!).

Natalie Balen-5

Natalie Balen-6

Get Inspired: I have a flow of poses that I always keep in mind when shooting a newborn session, but I also try to gain new inspiration by searching online resources (mainly Pinterest and Instagram). Inspiration can come from various sources – art, interior design, fashion – whatever moves me to double tap! I try to find at least one new pose or set up for each session to add to my shot list so I can keep my images as fresh as possible.

Natalie Balen-7

The Night Before/Day of the Session:

Make sure all wraps and blankets are neatly folded and organized for the day. Since I travel to clients’ homes with my mobile set up, ensuring all items are clean, packed, and nothing has been left behind is constantly top of mind.

Natalie Balen-8

Natalie Balen-9

Message the client to let them know how excited I am to meet them and their new little love tomorrow; confirm time and address.

Natalie Balen-10

Mentally Prepare: I try to keep in my mind that although this is what I do every day, the birth of a little one is the single most important event in their lives and I have the privilege of the capturing this memory for them. Remembering this helps me in some small way create a little of those nervous butterflies and reminds me to keep pushing, keep creating, and most of all to keep aiming higher and higher.

Natalie Balen-11

 

As a natural light photographer, Natalie Balen-Cinelli loves working with neutrals and soft pops of color. Whether shooting indoors or out, she strives to make each session as unique as the family she’s photographing. Natalie gets giddy about her clients taking a first look at their photos, and she hopes they love them as much as she does.

For more from Natalie, and for booking inquiries, visit Natalie’s web page, Like Lolabean Photography on Facebook, and follow Natalie on Instagram and Pinterest.

Tips from the Pros: What to Wear in Your Holiday Card Photos: Pinhole Press + NAPCP

We recently asked NAPCP members to share their best holiday card outfit advice. Here’s what they had to say!

Houk_2014-24(1)

Molly Garg, of Molly Garg Photography: Try on your outfits at least one week prior to your session. I encourage my clients to try everything on and send me a quick picture. If we have time, we may make adjustments and swap out a few pieces. Trying items on not only ensures that everyone’s outfits are sized appropriately, but also gets little ones excited about their upcoming photo session. Taking this extra step has allowed clients to make adjustments on ill-fitting attire, and prevented a few wardrobe malfunctions.

Be comfortable! I tell clients, “Above all else, be yourselves!” If a little boy never wears bow ties, and you decide he will wear one the day of the session, he will likely be pulling at it the entire time. And that cute beret for your little girl? If she’s not used to wearing it, she won’t want to the day of your session either. My advice is simple: wear your normal attire, a bit elevated.

Kate Lemmon, of Kate L Photography: Layer it up! Layers create visual interest and keep you warm and cozy while you’re outside playing in the leaves or snow. Think tights, cardigans, blazers, and scarves.

Choose two main hues you love, and develop your color scheme around them. Use the brightest color – also known as the accent color – sparingly.

Don’t forget accessories! Pieces like burlap suspenders or a flowery headband for the kids will take your ensemble to the next level of cute.

 

Read the rest of our photographers’ tips, here (and get some fabulous photo inspiration, as well).

For purchasable outfits for the whole family, be sure to visit our What to Wear: … Family Photo Sessions post!

And for even more ways to make your holiday card perfect, visit our free digital magazine, created in partnership with Pinhole Press, The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Cards!

img find a photographer
in your area
img

We are so delighted that you are here. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers is an association whose mission is to promote and support the artistry and integrity of professional child photographers. To accomplish this mission, NAPCP provides the most comprehensive resources for its members, bringing together a community of passionate artists committed to growth in their skills, their artistry, and their businesses.

NAPCP.com (formally pronounced "NAP-C-P") is a place where professional child photographers can come and connect, learn, teach, aspire and grow. It is also a valuable resource for parents who are looking for a professional child photographer in their area, and want to be inspired and educated about our specialized industry.

img award winning photos click here to view
img most recent issue
NAPCPInspiredCoverAugustBlog
img vendors we love
img helpful articles napcp resources
  • pinterest-branding-horiz-(final)springcard
    New in the Store: Spring Marketing Postcard Pack!

    Introducing our Spring Marketing Postcard Pack! We have partnered with our friends at Artifact Uprising so that you can use these templates to make unique, customized, and memorable marketing pieces to remind your clients to book for spring and summer! The set includes 8 unique postcard designs perfect for engaging your returning clients. The designs […]

  • portfolio review
    NAPCP Retreat: Live Portfolio Review

    Today we have a special treat for you — a video of the Live Portfolio Review, hosted by Dan Brouillette, and 2014 Photographer of the Year Jennifer Kapala,  from the NAPCP Retreat. This video has wonderful tips for submitting your images in the January 2016 International Image Competition (open now!, and ending February 18th). Submit […]

  • pinterest-branding-horiz-(final)nb
    6 Ways to Prepare for a Newborn Session

    Hi! I’m Natalie Balen-Cinelli, owner and operator of Lolabean Photography. I’m in my 5th year as a full-time newborn photographer and, like many of you, I discovered my love of photographing newborns and children when my oldest daughter was born. I quickly became obsessed with documenting her every move. Fast forward two years, and I […]

  • IMG8874(web)
    Holiday Wine Label Printable!

    Looking for a last minute DIY gift? In need of a holiday party favor? Download our Holiday Wine Label printables below! We have created two festive designs that are easy to print, peel and stick! After downloading, make sure to purchase the correct corresponding Avery templates that we used here! We chose bottles with smaller labels […]

Categories