As most of you are aware I have 3 children of my own. As they are getting older I am finding the work/life balance is getting harder and harder to achieve, especially as my business grows. So, I do put some limits on my calendar….block off specific dates for family fun. I never want to miss out on making my own memories because I am capturing somebody else’s, you know?
So, today I decided to lay out my calendar for the rest of the year. I wanted to make sure I was aware of exactly how many sessions I could fit into my fall schedule without making myself miserable. Well, here I sit shocked at how limited my weekend session availability is. I HATE the thought of turning people away. I love what I do and I want to say yes to everyone who requests my services. Unfortunately, it is looking like that is going to be nearly impossible to do.
I am a Newborn Photographer……finally.
Here is a photo from the very first newborn I ever photographed for payment in 2011. I called myself a newborn photographer and he wasn’t even a newborn. (UGH!) He was two months old. I didn’t know any better. I hadn’t done my research. I labeled myself a newborn photographer and that was that. I had a nice camera and a history as a nanny and preschool teacher. I have had 3 newborns of my own! It had been a few years, but I could certainly handle photographing a 2 month old….you know, because I called myself a newborn photographer. It couldn’t be too hard, right? WRONG!!!
I was clearly NOT a newborn photographer yet. But, I didn’t get discouraged. Well, honestly, I probably didn’t think I was THAT bad at the time. So, I kept on going. And I added props. That is what a newborn photographer does, right?? This one was certainly better than my first attempt though I can tell you now that he did not have the orange complexion that is displayed below. And he truly WAS a newborn….less than a week old. I was TECHNICALLY a newborn photographer, right? I mean I was PHOTOGRAPHING a NEWBORN…..just not very well. Thankfully he was sleepy and mom and dad were patient….well, and he was adorable too <3
Then I started to get the hang of things. I bought a Canon 50mm/1.4….the preferred lens of all the big time newborn photographers that I followed. This HAD to be the missing element! This session would be THE ONE that sealed the deal…this would be the one that would make me a newborn photographer!! I had even done a little research on what it takes to be a newborn photographer….and this little guy was extra cooperative so that was a bonus. He was 12 days old. I really thought I had nailed it. One good session and I finally declared myself a good newborn photographer. I can now tell you looking back that this session was 100% luck because at this point I still had no skills. By this time I still wasn’t doing any editing beyond cropping and I wasn’t even shooting in manual mode. (UGH!) So, yes, this newborn session was pure luck. (Look at those LIPS!)
Fast forward to 2012 and I had learned (read: taught myself) to use Lightroom so I was able to do basic editing on my images. That was a huge step in the right direction though I still knew nothing about color correction 🙂 By this time I had fully mastered using manual mode when shooting so that made a big difference in what came out of my camera. Posing was getting easier and my babysitting and motherhood skills from all those years ago DID come in handy. I always tell all my customers that newborn photography is the makeup of 99% patience and 1% luck. That, of course, is a huge exaggeration, but it makes my point. In some sessions I spend as much time rocking and shushing a baby as I do taking pictures (note: I do not mind! This is the best part of being a newborn photographer) The other big step I made in 2012 was to open my own business. FamilyTales Photography was born. Up until this point I had been running my family and newborn stuff through a friend’s wedding photography business. It was time. I struggled to think of a name….I polled everyone I knew. I didn’t want to use my own name because no one EVER spells Jaime correctly (thanks, Mom and Dad)….finally I settled upon telling tales of the family 🙂
In 2013 I really got frustrated. I decided newborn photography was not for me. I was done. I actually said the words “I don’t want to shoot newborn sessions anymore. I am no newborn photographer.” So, in my world that means one thing….I get flooded with newborn photography inquiries. I loved photography and I loved babies, but they just didn’t mix well for me and my images didn’t look like all the other newborn photographer’s that I was seeing. I was discouraged. But, I had just purchased a Canon 7D and Canon 24-70/2.8 from a photographer friend and I wanted to use it, so I accepted every newborn session that came through my door. And then it happened….somewhere along the way I realized I was starting to improve….newborn photography was getting a bit easier for me. Maybe I WAS cut out to be a newborn photographer after all…..maybe.
In 2014 I found the gift that is YouTube. You can truly learn anything on YouTube and that is exactly what I did. I was still working at another job so I spent lunch hours watching YouTube videos on editing and posing. I upgraded my camera to a brand new Canon 6D (full frame!!) It was about this time that I started to see some consistency in my work. I still would not have said I specialized in newborns by any means, but I was certainly booking more and more of them. My biggest complaint at that point was that newborns required so much GEAR and I was going to clients’ houses because I had no place else to work. My posing bag alone filled up the back of my car…..and I drive a Honda Pilot! Posing bags, backdrops, props, buckets, baskets, basket fillers, wraps, lights and, of course, cameras. So. Much. Stuff. Pack it in and pack it back out….every single time.
And finally, here I am in 2015. I am a newborn photographer. I quit my “other job” last June. I upgraded my camera (again) to a Canon 5D Mark iii (who ever thought I would own one of THOSE??) and bought new lenses. And yesterday I bought 4 Alien Bee lights (they are pink and purple!!) along with lots of gels and other accessories. I have taken webinar after webinar and purchased more photography and editing tutorials than I ever thought possible. I signed on with an amazing photographer in Harrisburg who taught me advanced Photoshop techniques and studio lighting. And, the biggest change I have made is that I opened a studio….and I loaded it with newborn props! I have booked more newborn sessions this year so far than I have done in all my years of photography. I am getting more creative with my set-ups and I am truly enjoying being a newborn photographer the way that I really thought I was going to way back in 2011. Now I know….newborn photography is a science.
Along the way I have learned a few things about newborn photography:
– I will never know it all. Learning photography in general, but especially newborn photography, is a never ending process.
– I am not perfect. Not every picture is perfect. Not every set-up works. Not every baby sleeps. And that is all just fine.
– It is ok if my images don’t look like everyone else’s….why would I want them to?
– Success is in the details. Straightening out those little tiny fingers 13 times before they stay that way may seem like insanity to my client’s parents, but to me it is the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph.
– It’s all about patience. Building a business takes more patience than I ever thought I had and so does newborn photography. But truthfully, I wouldn’t change a thing about either
– I am newborn photographer. Not because I declared myself so, but because I worked hard. Because I did research. Because I practiced. Because I didn’t give up. And because I have the portfolio to prove it 🙂
FamilyTales Photography : A Marietta Photography Studio
When I started my photography journey I was newly divorced and living in a townhouse with my three children. I had always been good at photography, but I was most definitely a hobbyist. Then I realized I needed to make a living. I needed to support my children, but I also didn’t want to give up the privilege of staying home with my young children. So, I started shadowing Stephanie Byers of Digital Party Pros when she photographed weddings. I really never thought I would EVER find people who would want me to photography their big day and I SURELY didn’t think they would pay me money to do so. But, as the years went by I got more and more confident and more comfortable in my new role as a DPP wedding photographer. We worked a lot in the Williamsport area because that is where DPP was based. But it wasn’t long before we started booking weddings in Lancaster, PA.
It wasn’t long before I decided to try my hand at some family photography. After all, I photographed my children’s every move so it seemed like a natural transition to adding family photography to my resume. And I LOVED working with families. I still do. There is just something about capturing the interactions between mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters. It is all so intimate. And no two families look the same.
All of my work was on location because, as I said, I was living in a townhouse and I had no space in my home for a studio nor did I have the money in my budget to rent one. A studio for me has always been nothing more than a dream.
In 2012 I purchased a home for my children in Marietta, PA. That in itself was an amazing thing. I went from a stay-at-home-mom with no credit and no job to a self-employed photographer who owned a home! I truly couldn’t believe it for months afterward. I kept thinking someone was going to realize they made a mistake and take back my home.
In this new home was a large sunroom. I had a vision for this beautiful space. It was going to be a…..well, a sunroom. A place to relax. An electronics-free zone. And for two years it was a storage room. Anything I didn’t have a home for got plopped in the sunroom. I couldn’t make a decision on furniture for the space so I ignored it. What a waste. (The picture below was taken before the previous owners moved out….THEY were decisive about furniture!)
In 2012 I also went into business for myself. As much consideration I decided to open my own photography business. FamilyTales Photography was born. In 2014 I started seeing a business mentor named Jerry. And soon after I started visiting with him HE found a use for my sunroom…..as a studio. The goal was to have it completely set-up and ready to go by September of 2014. Instead of setting up a studio I hung a new ceiling throughout my home. Then I painted my house…..the WHOLE house. Then I ran out of things to paint or fix. And Jerry kept pushing me. So, on March 1st, 2015 I opened a Marietta photography studio in my home. The sunroom was the perfect location for my studio. I can work without leaving my home. It has a private entrance and SO much natural light. It is MY photography studio. It isn’t perfect. There is a lot of organization that needs to happen, but it is mine. Mine. I own a home! And in that home is MY Marietta photography studio!! How crazy is that? Pretty crazy. But everything in my life seems to be falling into place….it’s funny how that happens <3