by Karen Rubin Published
Setting the Groundwork for a Successful Children's Photography Business
By Karen Rubin, M.Photog. Cr., CPP
A few days ago, I was having a casual conversation with a new acquaintance and the topic of my work came up. I explained that I was a photographer. "What kind of a photographer?" the man asked. When I replied that I was a photographer of children, his eyebrows flew up and he said "Oh, a photographer who knows how to make money!"
It appears that my long held secret has been let out of the bag. When I began photographing children twenty years ago, I couldn't find anyone in the Denver area to be my role model. All children were being photographed by discount chains, or old fashioned photography studios with dusty props and backgrounds. Since that time, the children's market has changed dramatically.
Nearly every week now I am asked to advise someone who is interested in starting a children's photography business. In addition, I frequently hear from wedding and commercial photographers who are tired of struggling. They have switched to photographing children and families. Why? Simply put, it is because the hours and the money are great.
I have chosen to be a low volume studio photographer, averaging between 150 and 250 sessions per year. It is a niche that I am comfortable in - it's a niche that I love. However, this information can be used for a studio with many more sessions than our studio. On the spreads are a few tips that have helped me along the way.
These simple business strategies have worked well for me over the years. Although there is obviously much more involved in starting a business, these concepts will provide a solid foundation to any photography business.
TIP 1. Clients are not going to pay you money for something that they think that they can do themselves.
In 1984, my first decision was whether to photograph with a medium format or 35mm film camera. I chose a medium format camera because I wanted to create wall portraits that my clients couldn't make themselves. Today, I am photographing with a Canon 1Ds digital camera. Why? The same principle applies - my clients can't make beautiful enlargements of images from their 3-mega pixel cameras themselves. The tools have changed, but the philosophy still applies.
TIP 2. It is important to look at what other photographers in your area are doing, and then do something different-something that sets you apart from everyone.
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