Customer Service for photographers needs work

Customer Service for portrait photographers has been on my mind lately and it makes me really sad how much we as a group haven’t been serving our clients.

I lump myself in to this group because I was there in the beginning of the digital photography wave and am totally guilty of giving just digital files. Which equals horrific customer service. That is for sure my biggest pet peeve but we’ve been over that on a previous blog post. Check that out here for my feelings on the disc being all you might have in ten years. The disc is the worst offense because it puts all the work on busy moms and as a mom of two I know Moms do not have time to organize, backup, cull, print, deliver, frame and hang their portraits. 

Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC real kids studio portrait

We have to stop showing moms 1,000 and one images, she’ll get a headache

But this brings up more point where we photographers have been failing our amazing clients. Culling, don’t know what that is I’m sure it’s an industry word, sorry. Culling is basically looking at all the amazing images from your portrait session and picking the very best ones. I know I know moms want to see all the cutest ones and pick the best smiles, and they love laughing at all the crazy outtakes. But seriously we are here to save moms time, not give them 150 images to choose from on the reveal day. Science says too many choices lead to paralysis

Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC real kids studio portrait, customer service

We’ve all been there.

We go to the store for a birthday card and 20 minutes later we are still reading cards! What gives? Choice overload makes our brain work so hard it becomes more impossible to make a decision. So let’s all agree moms make ten thousand decisions a day for her kids. We need to give her the absolute best of the best for her family portrait wall options. This is just good customer service and should be a priority.

This is where to pre photoshoot consultation comes in handy!

Asking questions before ever picking up my camera makes this culling process so much easier. Knowing that mom wants a photograph to go over the fireplace or couch and that she is leaning towards one amazing image tells me she needs a horizontally oriented image and that I need everyone looking their best. This means I need to narrow down to the best of the best and not even shoot any vertical family portraits.

Asking moms if they loved posed images or prefer candid family interactions is another great question. If mom is looking for everyone to be smiling at the camera then those sweet tickle shots with Jimmy’s eyes closed tight are great for social media. But they are not going to be mom’s choice for the wall. So just take them out of the decisions for the fireplace wall. I’m not saying to delete those wonderful portraits. I’m just saying moms need us to do a better job of listening and making it easier to make these decisions. This should be an industry standard customer service practice from all of us.

Wall Art, Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC real kids studio portrait

When you tell the kids to scream! Snow Magic

When you tell the kids to scream! Snow Magic, Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC

When you tell the kids to scream inside of a portrait studio what do you think their first instinct is? 

Did you guess scream? Did you guess hesitation? In my boys case it was hesitation. I’ve also had kids turn and look at me or just smile like crazy. Smiling like crazy is always good but in this case we also actually wanted the screaming. It’s so funny when you expect one reaction and get a different one. Kids are the best aren’t they?

What do you get when you add a couple of over dressed boys and a little digital magic?

A whole lotta fun! We live in South Carolina so creating a snow filled winter wonderland is never a promise I can make with Mother Nature in charge. If we get snow it won’t be for a while yet, and it’s never guaranteed. 2016’s big snow was about an inch and really not deep enough for any sledding. My little guy has been talking about when it snows and when the snow comes for months! So I thought why not create a magical winter wonderland portrait of my boys. And guess what they loved it. What do you think? Would your little ones just love seeing themselves in a Winter Wonderland? I’m planning for ours go over the fireplace for the Holiday season and maybe use this as our Holiday card as well. 

When you tell the kids to scream! Snow Magic, Fort Mill, SC, Tega Cay, SC, Charlotte, NC

Would you like to create some Snow Magic for your kids? Contact me and we can have them screaming in no time! Seriously though let’s make some magic for your kids. 

-alicia

803-336-5125 or alicia@insleyphoto.com to grab your Snow Magic Appointment before the end of November!

Fort Mill Newborn | Sweetest Little Hunter

Fort Mill Newborn Baby Boy H, SC, Tega Cay, SC Charlotte,NC portraits

Fort Mill Newborn Baby Boy H

Baby H was dream to work with. His mom had been in not long before this newborn portrait session for her maternity portraits. You can check out a few of those here. Anyhoo, This little guy slept like angel for his newborn session. Don’t you just love his perfect little lips and his straight black hair.  You can see his Native American heritage already, he looks just like his momma. Capturing those tiny little details for the family when baby is so new is just the best.

 

They grow so fast!

I often hear from moms how fast they grow. It’s crazy by the time I get clients products in and delivered to them baby has already started to look different. Some times it’s that they look older and don’t have the peach fuzz they are born with anymore. Occasionally that new baby hair falls out and comes back a different color or texture. And some times it is hard to describe but man does it happen fast. 

Don’t delay schedule before baby arrives

That is why I always encourage my clients to call me while they are still pregnant. Once baby is here you get busy with friends and family coming to visit and doctors appointments etc. You don’t want to look at your sweet baby and wish you could go back in time to capture those first few weeks. It’s better to plan ahead than to wait and see. No one ever regrets having portraits made of their infant. You will only regret not having done them. 

If you live in or nearby Fort Mill and are expecting a newborn contact me and let’s chat about your portrait needs.

-alicia

Why I could kick myself for selling digitals, Print is better!

framed cd on the wall no one wants this fort Mill sc photography

Why I could kick myself for selling just digitals!

Back when I started out on my own in 2004 digital was still kind of new. Everyone assumed digital was archival. I mean we could back it up and make unlimited copies. Archival is a term often used by photographers meaning a print or film can last in the archives. For reference those color prints your parents got at the department store when you were kids should last at least 50 years if properly stored and cared for. The newer papers and printing processes used today are guaranteed a bit longer. Most about 100 years if properly stored. That digital file I started out selling on CD back in 2004 is a big old question mark ? Because there are so many factors.

First off that CD we used to give digital files on is lasting 8-10 years. If it was written on with Sharpie or printed on with an adhesive label more like 5 years. Why so short? Well as it turns out the ink from that sharpie actually eats away at the CD material. Ok so I’m human I screwed up. Now we use USB drives. Well those things just keep changing. eHow says a usb drive may last ten years depending on how many times it is used. So really not much better than the CD was. Crap.

So the moral of my intro here is Print, Print, Print is better.

The only thing we know will last at least until your baby is an adult is a print. The best part about prints they can be copied. They are the only guarantee. But hey as a new mom on a limited budget I know you might be thinking well I just need it to last until I get back to work or we can save to print them later. But let me just tell you about my slap in the face wake up call I got this year. 

framed cd on the wall no one wants this
Is this what you want for your memories?

The slap in the face!

Now she didn’t mean to do it and I totally thanked her for my wake up call. But here is what went down. I went to visit my friend who shall remain nameless. She lives 4 hours from me and has several kids that I have been photographing for ten years. I even photographed her maternity session before her first was born. But we haven’t lived in the same town since college. So visits have just gotten more and more chaotic the more kiddos we had. But my latest visit I came alone with just my gear for updated family and kid portraits of course. And after the kiddos went to bed we were sitting in her new living room talking. And she lamented to me “I’ve just been so busy I haven’t hung up any photographs of the kids in this place!” So I said “Well I’m here to help where are your frames (I’m thinking they are still in a box) let’s hang some up!”

And she said here comes the slap in the face part! “oh they are all on CD or flash drive. I’ve never printed any of the photographs you’ve given me.”

Wait What?!?! I wanted to die right there on her couch. But instead I had an epiphany. I’ve been photographing friends and clients alike for years and just giving them digital files. I thought I was helping my friends by gifting them the files and letting them print what they wanted. And my clients I thought I was giving them what they wanted, what they had been asking for. Boy was I wrong. 

No one wants to come for a portrait session and leave with homework. Especially homework they don’t have time to do!

My clients newborn clients or worse, those who are expecting a baby and thinking about the millions of things they need to do to get ready. They don’t need or want digital files to do-it-yourself print as homework. They just end up tucked away in a drawer or maybe even downloaded to a computer that may or may not work in a year or two. What new moms really want is a beautifully framed print of baby hung on their nursery wall. Or a framed canvas collection of baby’s first year decorating the stairwell in their home. Let’s get real what new mom do you know that has time to order a print online, wait for it to arrive, take it to the local frame shop, along with baby and  baby’s older brother who refuses to ride in the cart, get it framed, come back in a week to pick it up and then wait some more for dad to have time to hang it, once she has finally decided where it should hang?

No mom I know has time for that.

Ain’t nobody with little kids got time for that. And putting together a photo album online, nobody has time for that ever. I’m changing my ways as of right now. No more diy, homework feeling digital only packages from me. Photography studios provide a service, right? For Insley that means planning, creating and printing your beautiful artwork of your family. And installation of your artwork is always included! This is why Print is better!

framed baby portrait sitting up boy black and white, print is better!
Or does this help you remember when he learned to sit up on his own?

Are you ready for a different photography experience? One where we do it all for you? Are you tired of leaving your memories in a drawer? Ready for archival prints? Are you ready for a better way? Get in touch today. 

-alicia

Dreamy Maternity Portraits in Studio

dreamy maternity in studio flowing cream dress

 

Dreamy Maternity

Momma E came in to model this cream dress for our studio look book. The dress photographed like a dream. Momma E wore it well. Don’t you all think she looks amazing? I love how it shows off her baby bump but is not too revealing. Leave her some love in the comments on these dreamy maternity portraits!

Some moms to be don’t want to show a lot of skin and this is a great way to celebrate your pregnancy without feeling exposed. Adding on a wrap or shawl could give you even more coverage if desired. This dress would also make a great post delivery momma and baby portrait.

Hopefully we can try it out when this little guy arrives this summer. Your family can’t wait to meet you little one! I look forward to meeting you when you visit the studio for your newborn portrait session. Thanks again Momma E for coming in and modeling my dresses I really appreciate it.

-alicia 

 


Baby N one year old plus cake smash sort of

Nina 1 year old plus cake smash sort of

Oh my goodness we had such a good time during Ms N’s One Year session plus cake smash sort of. She is just such a cutie that I can’t hardly stand it. Those sweet curls and that big old smile. I couldn’t get over how much she had grown since her 9 month session. You just can’t be sad with Ms N in the house! 

But you know when you get so excited about a plan for your little ones and then they have other plans? Oh yes all the moms know what I’m talking about! I was so looking forward to our cake smash at the end of her one year session. As it turns out Ms N is not a fan of cake. Who could have guessed? She wanted absolutely nothing to do with that pretty pink squishy frosting. And the cake she wasn’t even a bit curious about tasting that either. Even when we got her big sister in on the fun, nothing! She just wanted to go play with her cousins and the toys. And so we got big old crocodile tears, which I think are just part of the first year right. And super adorable, but not exactly what we had envisioned in our minds for her cake smash portrait session. Rolling with the whims of your littles is part of my job and when the littles are this cute, man I love this job. What’s your favorite from this session those sweet smiles or those sad yet adorable crocodile tears?

-alicia

Nina 3 months

Nina 3 months

Sweet Little Nina seems like you were born just yesterday. You are still a tiny little thing at 3 months old. Your older siblings and cousins will always be there too take care of you and they will teach you to be a strong little bird. You are now smiling and laughing and watching your big sister like she is the most amazing thing in the world. I look forward to watching you grow and mature in front of my very eyes. Being your aunt is a privilege I hold most dear. Next time we meet in the studio you will be sitting up and taking in the world from a whole new perspective. The world is your oyster sweet miss Nina and I cannot wait to see what new tricks you have in store for our next milestone portrait session.

-alicia

Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos of your kids – Charlotte, NC Kid Portraits

ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids

Everyone wants cute Halloween photos of their children. But lets be real, parents are busy and on Halloween kids are even busier. If they aren’t running away from the costume they picked out and insisted you buy, Or bouncing off the walls with anticipation Or crying because the dress is itchy Or the dragon costume is too hot – I unfortunately can’t do anything about the costume debacle and in truth my toddler will probably go as himself this year (he refused to be Spiderman for our first photo shoot attempt.) But what I can do is offer you a few quick tips to take better Halloween photos of your kids this year.

ten tips for better halloween photos of your kids, Charlotte, NC child photographer
Refused to wear his Spiderman costume but is still precious.

Ten tips to take better Halloween Photos

  1. Camera setting tips: raise your ISO in low light, settings between 400-1600 are your best bet. Above 1600 you are going to get a lot of noise in your images. Some cameras are better than others at higher ISO’s but to be very safe stay at or below 1600. Shutter speed is a big one with kids. The rule of thumb is to never photograph anything without a tripod below 1/60 of a second. For me, in practice, if you are photographing a toddler don’t go below 1/125 of a second. Two year olds are fast and they are never still. Quick side lesson: the smaller the number, 1/125 in this case, the faster the shutter opens and closes and the more it freezes the action.
  2. The easiest way to get great Halloween costume photos of your kids is to take them before dark. I know that probably won’t work for a lot of parents or kids. But like @it’s always autumn suggests. Do a dry run before Halloween. This even gives you a chance to make sure everything fits and works for the door-to-door trick or treating. Plus it is a great way to get awesome Halloween photos without competing with trick or treating.
  3. Take a lot of close ups. Find your focus. By that I mean find the subject of your images and cut out the clutter. Grab those cute expressions all in furry cat ears or vampire makeup and crop out the background noise.
  4. Don’t forget to take some images without the mask on. There is nothing worse than looking back at family photos and thinking I’m not really sure who this little spiderman is.

    ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids, Rock Hill, SC Spider-man, Kid portrait
    finally got this kid in costume
  5. Avoid on camera flash if you can. If you are taking photos indoors or hanging out at a Halloween party this tip is especially for you. Yes I know your camera came with a flash, and you are asking yourself aren’t I suppose to use the tools I’m given. Yes and sometimes on camera flash is the only choice you have.

    ten tips to better halloween photos of your kids, Spider-man, Ironman, Fort Mill Child Photographer
    bounce flash at dust

    But for those of you inside turn off that flash or manipulate it. The easiest manipulation for on camera flash is to bounce it off of a white surface. The ceiling or a white 3×5 card and tape are both easy cheap options. In the cases where you are outside and the only way to get the image is with flash soften, diffuse, or scatter the light so you can avoid the red eyes, glasses glare and harsh shadows like in this photo above. Softening the light can be just as easy and cheap as using a Kleenex and a rubber band to soften the flash. Or you can get something more fancy like this on amazon for under $10.

  1. Use available light when ever possible. By this I mean move those kiddos under a streetlight, or a porch light, photograph them looking into candles or playing with glow sticks. This adds interest to your Halloween images and avoids the dreaded flash.
  2. On that same note don’t forget about your flashlights. 95% of the time ghoul lighting is not what you want in snapshots of your children. But at Halloween dressed as actual monsters ghoul lighting is fun and fitting.

    ten tips for better halloween photos of your kids, Ironman, Ghoul lighting, Kid Portraits Rock Hill, SC
    Ghoul lighting with a flashlight on Ironman
  3. Carved pumpkin tip. If you are taking photos and want to see that light from inside your pumpkin shine through this tip is for you. First add more light. Most times for a carved Halloween pumpkin one candle is typical, but for photos add a couple more. Or consider a battery-operated light. I’m thinking led will be my best bet and I tried it here. ten tips for better halloween photos of your kidsUse backlighting when possible. For example a dim porch light or side window light will help if it is totally dark outside. An even better idea is to take them at dusk. If you can do this before or after the big night, that way you can get the good light without missing something else photo worthy. The idea behind photographing your pumpkins at dusk is that the outline and orange color will still show. And the beautiful light of dusk won’t over power the candlelight. (Which flash will do).
  1. More of a reminder than a tip but don’t forget to check your camera batteries. Nothing like grabbing your camera on the way out the door and realizing it won’t turn on or you don’t have the right size battery in the house.
  2. Last tip take tons of photographs. Don’t be afraid to try different angles, different perspectives even having the kids turn away from the camera can make for a fun and interesting image. It’s a holiday for kids so have fun with it. The beauty of digital is that we can delete all the bad frames. woohoo!!

Tell me what did you think of my ten tips to take better Halloween Photos? Let me know in the comments below

-Happy Halloween Alicia