June is here and it’s time to introduce you to our new CMpro of the Month, the awesome Alicia Gould! Alicia is an amazing photographer who specializes in babies and families and she’s also a great businesswoman. Keep your eyes peeled on your inboxes because we’ll be sending out registration notification (if you don’t receive our newsletter you can sign up here) next Tuesday June 5th to Alicia’s incredible new breakout session, From Inquiry to Sale, designed to help you run your businesses electronically!
june cmpro of the month | alicia gould
Where did your interest in photography begin?
I can’t trace it back to a specific moment, but I have always had such a fascination with photographs in general. I loved looking at family pictures and scrapbooking. I had a film camera growing up and loved the excitement of getting it developed.
What was it that made you decide you wanted to have a career in photography?
Probably the awesome money I thought photographers made :) I jumped into the business part way too soon. I have so many lessons learned. I didn’t really realize that my love for the camera and running a business were two completely different things. It’s definitely ok if you just want to enjoy the camera and your friends. But be very careful not to undercut the market. It’s very lonely in business if you don’t make some friends!
Owning your own business is hard. Is there one piece of advice that you would offer to those who are considering their own photography business?
I mention the last sentence above because of this one. Get some really good photography friends. Clickin Moms is a great place for this and even better if you find a local one. BUT, guess what? No one is going to want to be your friend if you are undercutting them. Do your research, this is a very expensive business to run if you want to make a good profit. Be honest with yourself and others, nobody wants to feel like they are being copied also. But I cannot tell you enough how valuable it is for my business and my sanity to have very close photographer friends I can trust and bounce things off, not to mention meet for drinks!
Approximately how much time do you spend on each client including session, emailing, correspondence, editing, etc.?
I will go into a lot of detail about interacting with potential clients and also my entire workflow in the break out session. Every client is different and the amount of attention they need or want before, during and after the session is going to vary. As a rule of thumb I try not to be overbearing. You can usually get a feel from how the very first e-mail is worded how to handle each client. It’s important to note I do almost everything online, booking and ordering, etc. Before the session: 30-60 minutes from the initial inquiry through the a pre-session consult (online chat, phone or skype). Sessions usually last 60-90 minutes, except newborn sessions, those typically last 2-4 hours for me! About 1-3 hours to edit and prep their galley, another hour to put together samples, then at least another hour dedicated to ordering and product revisions.
Is there any advice you could offer on how to balance a photography business while having a family?
When you first start out you are so eager and never want to say no, but a few things: 1. you will ruin your marriage and other important relationships. If together, you set boundaries, and then you go and break those boundaries… I can’t think of an easier way to show someone they don’t matter. 2. you will start to miss important moments in you children’s lives. If you start to book every single free moment you have, you are taking away from something else, namely your family. It is so important to set boundaries and stick to them. Make sure Saturday or Sunday is completely dedicated to your family and friends. 3. saying no can make you desirable! Word gets around that you book quickly and book in advance, and that mom that really wanted to hire you but waited until the last minute probably told her friends how upset she was so then they looked you up. So decide for each month how many sessions you will take, how many hours you will be physically gone from the house and decide TOGETHER!
Your newborn work is gorgeous. What tricks do you have up your sleeve to get those sweet bundles of joy to actually sleep while you photograph?
Oh man, a LOT of patience. Just this weekend I was at a newborn + 2 year old big brother session that lasted 3 hours 45 minutes. I was physically sore when I got out of bed the next day! To me, going through the images, it was worth it. I never give up :) It’s really important to give your clients some guidance before the session to make things run smoothly. If they know how the session is going to flow, they will be more comfortable and better prepared. Make sure they know about the proper temperature for the home, when to feed, etc.
Do you have any advice for when a newborn refuses to sleep?
There is usually a reason why a baby won’t sleep, it takes patience to run through the list of things. Sometimes though, mom is having trouble nursing etc. That is one area I don’t push and you just go with it. If this is unusual behavior for the baby, I may offer to come back, but usually that is not the case. It’s really important to let your clients know what you expect from them at the session also. They want it to be successful and are usually dying to know what they can do to help, use this to your advantage! You’ll get to see all of the information I give to clients before their session during the break out.
The expressions from the children in your kids’ gallery are very real and genuine. How do you get children to interact with you and give such great expressions?
I am laughing right now because I truly make a fool of myself. There is nothing too beneath me and I will do whatever it takes to get a child to laugh. I am a master tickler and play a mean game of hide and seek from behind the camera. I’ll also admit to some bribing. Having children of my own definitely gives me an advantage.
Have you ever had a child simply refuse to cooperate? If so, how did you turn that session around to get the beautiful images that you’re known for?
Of course! I will say that almost every family I meet thinks their child was the worst and it always makes me smile because it is never the case. But, when a family says that I know that I will blow them away with their proofs because they are already worried. That said… I am very fortunate that I have only had one session where the little boy wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. I barely got anything of him alone, but I got this family image which is one of my favorites:
What makes a photograph a keeper for you?
That is really hard to articulate! I love when an image captures any sort of emotion or a moment. I love capturing the ‘it’ face… you know that face your 2 year old makes that is so him that you will sincerely miss as he grows older.
Do you have any long term goals/dreams you would be willing to share with us?
Well tangible ones, my eye is on the 5dmkiii and 135L for 2012. On a more serious note, my goal is to always have my clients to return to me, which has been happening frequently. That makes me so happy and grateful. It’s so amazing to watch them grow, become older siblings, etc.
What’s new for Alicia Gould Photography this year?
Video! If a session lends itself to it, I’m trying to incorporate video + stills as a product. It’s a lot more work, but the outcome is pure emotion.
Thank you for sharing with us Alicia! Head on over to Alicia’s website, blog, and facebook to see more of her gorgeous work. Do you have a question for Alicia? You can ask her in her “Ask the Pros” thread on the CMforums.