by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2009
The winning image - a Christmas present from little Charlie's grandparents to his mother, had minimum post production work - and now the toddler's mum, Kelly, gets to hang an award-winning image on her dining room wall.
Charlie's step-grandmother Michelle Colbert tells ImageMaker: "Capturing that special moment is a true photographic skill and Laura demonstrated that she has it."
"It's never easy trying to photograph toddlers. Charlie's granddad is a serious amateur photographer himself and has probably taken hundreds of shots of Charlie since he was born - but he admits he hasn't been able to take one picture of this sort of quality."
Things do go wrong at studio shoots of course. But when they do you have to know how to deal with them.
vReveals Laura. "It's vital that photographers have good interpersonal skills. And when the customer arrives at the studio you automatically analyse the way they look, their body language and their personality, in order to best determine how to handle the shoot. Sometimes they are nervous. A photo-shoot can be a very big deal to some people.
I ask them about their favourite style of photographs. I ask if the pictures are for them. And when people book with us we always confirm everything in the post and send a brochure jam-packed with hints and tips for the session; what to wear, what to expect etc.
On the day of the shoot we relax them with a cup of coffee and show them to the changing rooms. When you are shooting children you need to act fast because they get bored quickly."
Laura adds: "I guess at that point the selling starts - but we don't call it selling, we call it 'advising'. Of course we want them to buy large images - we make the point that these pictures will still be around on the walls years later when the children leave home."
Laura draws inspiration from magazines and television advertisements but despite all the recent photo-plaudits, she still thrives on the marketing side of the business as much as she does the studio shoots.
She says: "Competitions always inspire me to try and do better. Naturally I have been enormously influenced by my mother's style: posed, static, well-lit, well composed pictures where every aspect of the image has been comprehensively thought about. But I love the marketing side of studio life too.
Studio shoots can be really stressful. The sessions are still on your mind when you go home at night - and even on your day off. Customers are now far more educated about photography than they used to be - and that's not a bad thing, but it can add to the stress levels."
Now Laura's ambition is to follow in her mother's footsteps. She wants a Fellowship.
She concludes: "I am focused on gaining a Fellowship with the SWPP. I think Phil and Juliet Jones are honest, down to earth and determined people and they have created brilliant levels of buzz about the SWPP. The next step is ASWPP - but FSWPP is definitely my ultimate goal."
Laura Johnson at Eileen Mason Photography: www.eileenmason.co.uk
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