I wasn’t formally trained in photography, so much of what I learned about producing quality digital prints through a printing lab was through my own trial and error. Things that I thought looked great on screen would come back with printing issues that were linked to my processing. My style of processing is very light and colorful and can be tricky when translating into print. When I first went into business I would struggle with areas of my photos being blown out or looking over saturated when I received them back in print from the lab. I became so frustrated because I couldn’t see those blown out areas on my screen. I finally called my lab and they were SO helpful. They showed me how to use my info pallet to look for appropriate output levels and some tricks for using clipping masks to identify areas of over saturation. Now I don’t edit a single image without checking that it will be perfect for print. My taste might want something brighter or more full of contrast aesthetically, but in the end, it is the quality of the product that the client receives that is most important. That critiquing has saved me so much time and money!
Whimsical. Colorful. Soft.
I think we are surrounded by the beautiful imagery of others from facebook, to flickr, to pinterest, to google. My eyes are always open for inspiration from unusual sources to try to keep things fresh. I would say my cake smash sets are often the most fun to plan. I meet with all clients for a pre-session consultation to get a feel for their style and what they envision for the session. Often they will bring in wardrobe ideas, party decorations, pictures of their nursery, even favorite toys and books. From there I start brainstorming how I can create something unique for their set. Everything from browsing clothing catalogs, to scouring pinterest, to walking up and down the aisles at the craft store helps to shape our sets. Eventually something will just “pop” into my head and we’ll run with it. All of that visual inspiration gets me excited, but when it is time to shoot and everything is set up, I try to forget all about what I’ve seen. I try to connect with the client and let the session unfold, capturing the beauty where I see it. I think if you are focusing a session on re-creating an image or idea, you aren’t putting enough of your attention on being present with your subject and the work will fall flat… it will be missing that “wow” factor. I really make an effort to let my subject be my greatest inspiration during the session.
The first few years of building the business I had no balance at all. I worked 24/7 for very little money. My husband and I looked at each other and said “There is no way we can do this forever. We have to either change the business, or find a new career.” One of the first things we did was start building a team around us. The same could be done through outsourcing, but I really like having a team to collaborate with at the studio. We established regular studio hours from Monday-Friday 9-5 and we stick to those hours. On Friday afternoon we lock the doors and don’t look back. Of course owning a business means you never fully leave it behind, but we make a real effort to leave work at work and focus on our family during our time away from the studio. I usually don’t even bring my camera home! GASP!
I know this is going to sound cliche , but I think so many successful photographers say it because it remains a truth at the core of creative professions. Be yourself! Feeling not good enough or uninspired is a very natural part of the creative process, heck I feel it all the time! But comparing yourself to others, or worse, trying to recreate something someone else is doing well, will only dig you in to a deeper hole. True inspiration comes from within. What makes your heart skip a beat? What brings tears to your eyes? If you align your photography with that inward inspiration, rather than focusing on outward sources, you will see success so much sooner!
I have learned that a photography business is 90% business. My passion is for photography, not number crunching, but I learned that if I want a long term career doing what I love, and for Shaun and I to be able to support our family with that career, we have to treat it like a business first and foremost. That means charging what we’re worth and being diligent with business plans and practices.
When I began photographing newborns and babies in my area I had very little competition. Now, it seems a new baby photographer opens up shop every day. I used to become disheartened when I saw my ideas, sets, words, even clients being taken by people undercutting my prices. After some time, I made a promise to myself to focus my attention on the positives rather than the negatives of being in the public eye. Now I let the competition inspire me to keep our sets fresh and top the last thing we did. We also began focusing more attention on providing the absolute best costumer service and experience we could, knowing that thrilling our clients would keep them coming back and referring us to others.
Outside of referrals we get most of our clients through google and internet searches. When asking why they chose us they always respond “the quality of the work on your website.”
We have fortunately been very busy since I launched Heidi Hope Photography and it has prevented me from attending many workshops. The best mentoring experience I have had so far was through Sarah Petty photography. We signed up for her coaching program when we committed to placing more attention on our business in an attempt to restore balance in our life. Having her personal advice on how to take our business to the next level has really helped us to tweak our business plan and make this the career and LIFE we dreamed of.
Canvases, custom cards, and digital images remain the most popular images we sell.
Want Heidi to critique your images? Sign up for Heidi’s 4-week Critique HERE
Want to see more of Heidi’s amazing work? Check out her website www.heidihope.com