Here We Grow Again
Baby and child portraits are the bread and butter for many portrait studios, but are they right for you? This work requires a certain personality, a HIGH level of patience and a good understanding of the marketplace, among other things. To gain some insider insights, we talked to two well-established child portrait artists—Kimberly Wylie, M.Photog., of Dallas, TX, and Laura Winslow of Gilbert, AZ—about what it takes to rise above the fray.
What's your advice to photographers interested in getting into baby and child portraiture?
Kimberly Wylie: When a customer talks about you and your new business, what two words would you want them to use to describe you? Take those words and build your business around them. For example, if you want to be a "fun" and "whimsical" studio, then make sure your mission statement, product line, marketing, and everything else that is "you" speak to those two words.
Laura Winslow: Though it sounds trite, make sure that you are comfortable with children. If you don't have children of your own, spend some time around kids. Understand that things will get silly, things will never really go as planned, and things might be chaotic. You need to be comfortable dealing with different situations.
What sort of expectations do parents have for these types of portraits, and this type of portrait experience?
Wylie: Expectations vary based on the identity that you've created for your studio. A customer visiting a studio with a whimsical persona versus a classic persona is going to have different expectations. However, as a general rule, parents want to feel comfortable and safe, and they want to be able to trust in your professionalism. They want imagery that reflects how they see their children. Overall, they want to have a fun and stress-free experience.
Winslow: Parents are almost always nervous about how their children will act. This is normal. It's part of my job to reassure the parents and communicate my confidence that I will get wonderful shots.
What are your clients looking for in their baby and child portraits? Do they prioritize expression, image quality, posing?
Wylie: All of the above! If I capture the perfect expression but my image quality is horrible or my posing is super unflattering, it is going to be harder for my customer to invest. We need to master all of these aspects of an image.
Winslow: My clients are looking for vibrant, fresh and modern images that are unique but still have the ability to encapsulate that stage of their child's life. They expect the highest image quality and a session full of life. And here's a helpful hint: If your portfolio is representative of what you capture in a typical session, then your clients will be much more in tune with what to expect.
What products have been most successful with your baby and child portrait customers?
Wylie: We focus on wall art and gorgeous albums. I really like the new WHCC Image Blocks.
Winslow: My customers love the Image Boxes from MpixPro. I include a 5x7 print of each of the images in their gallery, which serves as a treasured keepsake. Canvases are also very popular.
What kind of personality do you need to be successful working with babies and children?
Wylie: A fun and patient personality is important. You have to be willing to wait for the shot and to have fun doing it. Some days are tough, and then some days you will feel like you are flying. The great news is the kids naturally make this a fun and ever-changing job. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.
Winslow: You must be able to work quickly on your feet, you must have the ability to roll with the punches, and you must have a silly sense of humor!
So…what do you think? Is this specialty for you?
ALL IMAGES © LAURA WINSLOW PHOTOGRAPHY