Tuesday, April 03, 2007

04/03/07: Lifestyle Baby Photography - Part 2 of 3

Lifestyle Baby Photography- Edition 2: Creating the Relationship
by Amber Holritz


Creating the Relationship

The key to creating beautiful and intimate Lifestyle images is Relationship. I place a high priority on my relationships with my Moms, and will go out of my way to extend these relationships in any way possible.

Initial Contact/Scheduling Calls
The first opportunity for relationship building comes at the initial contact. When your client, generally Mom, calls in to discuss setting up a portrait session, begin the conversation by creating a relationship. Be sure to find out the baby's name, and use it regularly throughout the conversation. Take the time to ask pertinent questions about the baby. There is nothing that will endear a mother to you faster than empowering her to talk about her baby! That is a mom's favorite pastime, and too often, she feels that people are not interested in hearing what she has to say! If you do not have children of your own, purchase a book, such as "What to Expect the First Year," and familiarize yourself with the developmental stages. When you are talking to Mom, you can better frame your questions to relate to what she is dealing with at this stage in her baby's life. Another huge point is in scheduling. When my moms call in to schedule sessions, I list off a few days in which I am wholly available. I then say, "I have these dates free, let's talk about what the best time of day for your baby is." This allows Mom the freedom to explain her child's schedule, or lack thereof, and allows us to come up with the time that will create the least amount of stress for both Mom and Baby. I also take the time to explain that I have kept the rest of my day free, and that we can explore the session with as much or as little time as is best for the two of them, and for her to feel free to take any breaks that her child needs. This helps her to see that I do not plan to follow my own agenda, but will be flexible for her so that she can meet her child's needs.

At the conclusion of the initial conversation, I have an arsenal of facts that will assist me in creating emotional and legitimate images! I can step inside the door and know that Mom and Baby spend their time in the nursery, eating and napping, in the playroom, playing in the toy gym, and in the kitchen, taking baths. I already know that when Dad and Baby bond in the den and in front of the TV. I know that Dad is a great help to Mom by always bringing her water when she is nursing, and I know that the family Dog always sits at Mom's feet and plays guard dog when she is in the rocker. Knowing these things prior to my arrival helps me see their importance, and allows me, the insider, the knowledge needed to effectively capture this part of their life!


First Session
I arrive at every newborn session with a gift in hand. This is a huge step for me, and generally creates an immediate bond. From that point forward, I am very "familiar" throughout the session. I volunteer to hold the baby, help with any needs the baby has (cleanup, diapers, ect), grab things for Mom when she needs them (water when nursing, baby wipes, blankets, ect), and constantly affirm Mom about her physical appearance as well as the baby's. I make sure to make mention of the things we discussed ("Oh look, she really does love her feet, doesn't she!?"), and this helps Mom see that I was truly interested in the information that she was giving me over the phone. I make a concerted effort to capture the nuances of the baby and the baby's relationships described to me during our conversation. At the end of the session, I never leave without thanking Dad for his time (if he is at the session) and giving Mom a hug.


Slideshow
The slideshow can be the high point of the relationship. After this first slideshow, you will officially have a friend for life, and this can be the basis of a huge future client base. I try to have the slideshow up the evening following the session. When choosing the images for the slideshow, I try to think of what Mom would most want to see, and I am sure to include those images with my own personal favorites. I pay very close attention to Mom's appearance in the images, and do not include any images in which she is not looking her very best! New Mom's are in a very insecure stage, and we need to do whatever we can to flatter them with our imagery! This will also make them love you!

Follow Up
I do my best to make contact with my client regularly after their session. I let them know when the images are up on Pictage, and then I contact them again when their hard proofs arrive. I try to make a quick "housecall" when their products arrive, and I do a little handholding throughout the ordering process. I let them know that I know just how busy they are, and that I want to do whatever I can to make this process easier for them.

The reason that relationships are so vital to this process is threefold.
1. Insider knowledge
2. Repeat Customer
3. Referrals.

If you have the inside knowledge to your clients life, their child, their relationship, ect, you will be able to effectively transfer that knowledge to your images. This will then create a bond with the client that will cause them to call you every time that they want images of their child. Every stage that the newborn goes through will become an important moment, and they will want it preserved by you.And they will tell everyone! Moms trust other Moms. Create a relationship with one key Mom, and then prepare for her friends. They will call!

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