Marketing Communications Plan for a Photography Studio

Introduction

All types of companies require some sort of selling practice that will promote the company’s product or service and announce them to the potential group of customers. The Photography Studio business, which provides both products and services, is no exception. However, careful considerations must be made in order to successfully sell the product and all services provided to the right kind of customer.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a business process in which a company, whether it is a for-profit company or a non-for-profit organization, handles its interactions with its customers and crafts those interactions into lucrative ones, both for the organization itself and for its customers. In this process the companies build worth for their customers, and develop sturdy interactions with them that create profits for the company in the end. Marketing involves attracting new customers, developing those sturdy interactions with the customers, keeping them, and growing them. Marketing is not limited only to actual products sold; it is also applied to services.

The Photography Studio

The Photography Studio is a business that provides both a product and services, thus making it a bit more complicated than most businesses out there. The Photography Studio will be a brand new locally owned and operated business that provides local customers with products such as photography prints and photography equipment. The Photography Studio will also provide customers with photographic services such as studio photography, on location photography, photography editing and so forth.

Photo Studios and the Marketing Environment Forces

In every business and every type of company there are different outside elements that affect that company’s marketing department’s power to attract prospect clients, keep them, grow them and maintain a good relationship with them. All these elements and forces make what is called the marketing environment. In order to successfully maintain those customers and relationships, marketers must identify the elements that most affect their type of business and adapt their activities in order to prevail over such outside elements and challenges. The photography studio business is no exception to this rule, and they too have a marketing environment forces that affect their companies.

Competitors. Type the words “photo studio” into any search engine on the web and you will find more than 70,000,000 results, and probably more than 5 in your immediate local area. Almost all companies have to deal with competitors. You may think that companies only compete with lower prices, but this is not true. Companies must provide customers with a valuable product or service that gives customer a higher satisfaction than the competition. Nowadays more and more photographers are opening their own private small businesses, so larger companies must also compete for talent. Photo studios not only compete against each other, but also against increasing high quality of photo software that places professional editing capabilities at customers’ fingertips, sometimes even for free, and who can beat that price? Nowadays, the creation of new digital cameras with more automatic options and easier to use than ever, anyone can become a self-proclaimed professional photographer by just reading a manual, making for dozens of photographers who compete for wedding and senior photography customers everyday. Which brings us to our next challenge and marketing environment factor: technology.

Technological Environment. As new technology develops each year, products become obsolete, but also new products give way to new opportunities, new products and services, and opens up new markets. A long time ago starting a photography business would cost you $20,000 for only the initial equipment you needed, now anyone who can afford a $600 camera can have a shot at the photography business. Moreover, new developments in technology, such as new software capabilities and digital imaging enables customers to edit their own photos, scan them, copy them and reproduce them using at-home software and hardware such as printers. Printers nowadays can be connected to your point-and-shoot cameras and print all your photos at the touch of a button. These new technologies act also as competitors for photo studios, because the more customers can do themselves at home, the less they need the photo studio’s services. Not to mention that with the widespread use of the Internet images are easily copied and more and more people are involved in copyright infringement.

Economic Environment. You might think that economic trends affect all types of businesses, but some may be more affected than others. If the economy is good in general, then the customers will have a stronger buying power and higher spending patterns, and the opposite will be true for a bad economy. For example, if businesses are doing well they will probably have enough money to spend in advertising, which includes photography services. However, during a bad economy, the costs of advertising are usually the first to be cut back.

Target Market and Positioning of the Photo Studio

Once the Photography Studio has identified the segments it whishes to serve, it can analyze each of those segments’ appeal and select one or more market segments to serve. The Photography Studio business will have a market segmentation based on the geographical location to where the business will operate. It will also have a market segmentation based on social class, serving those customers who belong to the middle class, all the way to the upper uppers class. It will also have a market segmentation based on family life cycle, including young seniors at local high schools, singles who are engaged and about to be married, and married couples with children on the way or who already have children. Also, considering these are all special occasions, we can establish a target for behavioral variables such as special occasions like graduations, engagements, weddings, maternity, birth, holidays, and so forth.

The company will be located in a part of town where higher income families live and work, therefore targeting a specific geographical location as well as social class, which can be considered micromarketing and local marketing. The company will use a differentiated or segmented marketing in which it will create different offers for each of the family life cycles it will target. This will be the most profitable option for the company, because it will target clients located in a good neighborhood or area, clients who can afford professional photography services and clients who need photographic services to capture the special moments in their family life cycle, or special occasions.

There are plenty of photography studios out there, how can the Photography Studio business differentiate itself from other competitors? The Studio would remain competitive in regards to pricing, but would offer additional or better services. The studio would offer additional services like in-house hair, makeup and wardrobe consultations for portrait shots; the ability to immediately select and view all the shots taken and decide which ones to print and purchase; on location photography, in different locations other than the studio; the ability to view and share your portraits and experience through the company’s website; the ability to schedule, view, edit, print, share and store all your photographs on your mobile device with a unique application provided by the company; and finally extra photographic services for all photographic needs such as photo shoots, editing, special effects, restoring, printing photos, greeting cards, canvas, framing, enlargements, photo books, calendars, mugs, mouse pads, photo DVDs and videos, passport photos, and much more.

The Photography Studio positioning strategy would be a “More for More” strategy. The Studio would offer much, much more services than any other competitor out there, but it would have to charge more also for all the extra services. The Studio would offer the best quality products and the largest range of products for extra, but the prices would not exceed the customer’s capability to afford them.

The Photography Studio’s position statement would be as follows: For your busy family planning for the most important events of your lives and when you need to capture these special moments to keep and share forever, our Photo Studio is a one-stop photography solution spot for all your photographic needs where you can look your best, pick the best shots, be captured everywhere and anywhere, share the shots with anyone and take them with you wherever you go.

Photography Studios: Shopping Product with Great Product Features

The photography studio business falls under the Shopping Products category. People usually purchase photographic services less frequently than other products, like convenience products. When people purchase photographic services, they will usually compare prices, quality, speed, and style. People who consider purchasing photographic services will usually investigate and compare all the characteristics of each business to select the best one for them.

The marketing considerations that need to be made for the Photography Studio, based on its classification under Shopping Products are very simple. If prospect clients are out there comparing and contrasting all the Photo Studios in the area to select the best one, then the Photo Studio must provide deals and offers that appeal to those customers comparing each business. Marketers of photography services have to provide strong offers and deals in selected outlets, not just everywhere, but where it matters.

The most important decisions to be made in developing a Photography Studio Business compared to other competitors will be in the areas of Product and Service Attributes. More specifically, the Photography Studio would concentrate in providing exceptional Product Features. The best way to compete with other businesses is to be the first of those businesses to offer a new feature. The Photography Studio in question will offer plenty of new, improved and added features to all photographic services that it will make them the first choice for prospect clients.

The Photo Studio and the Pricing Dilemma

There are three main areas that will affect the pricing strategy of the Photo Studio’s products and services. These main areas are the customer’s perception of the value, the product cost and other internal and external considerations. The customer’s perception of the value of the products and services that the Photo Studio offers is what will determine the highest prices that the Photo Studio could charge for such products and services. This means that whatever amount the customers perceives as too much for the product or service that they are receiving then that is the amount art the very top that the Photo Studio should charge below of, otherwise, the customers will not purchase the service.  The product cost is all the combined expenses that the Photo Studio needs to spend in order to provide a product or service. The Photo Studio should not charge below this amount. For example, if the photo studio hires a photographer to take pictures at a high school graduation, and then all the images are printed and provided to the class on a CD, then the Photo Studio must calculate the amount they are spending on the photographer’s services, the printing cost and the cost of the CD, and they should charge the high-school more than this amount.

But these are not the only areas that the Photo Studio should consider when setting prices. The Studio should also consider external factors like competitor’s prices for example. Because clients may chose the competition over the Photo Studio, if their prices are set too high, and the competition is offering the same service and quality. The Photo Studio should also consider their previously decided target market and positioning.  Since the target market for this Photo Studio was higher income families, then the prices could be higher than the competitor’s. Since the positioning for this Photo Studio was a “More for More” strategy, then the prices would definitely be higher than the competition.

This particular Photo Studio is targeted to higher income families; therefore it makes sense to use a pricing method that would be on the higher end of the pricing curves. This Photo Studio will use the value-base pricing method to set prices for the products and services that they offer. Price setting will begin by understanding the prospect customers’ needs and value perceptions, what are they paying and what are they receiving from competitors. A price then is set that matches the customer’s perceived value. Then costs that can be incurred must be determined and finally the products that will deliver the value at the target price must be designed.

More specifically the Photo Studio in question will use the value-added pricing method. Since the positioning is one of “More-for-More”, then the Photo Studio will create value-added features to the products and services it offers to differentiate it from the competitors and sustain the higher prices.

Distribution Channels

In a Photo Studio that offers a one-stop for all photographic needs, then the customer should feel no need for other intermediaries in the process of receiving their products and services from the Photo Studio. Therefore, this company will sell directly to the consumer.

Since the Photo Studio will implement a direct marketing channel, there will only be two members in the channel, the Photo Studio and the final consumer. This could be considered exclusive distribution, because only the Photo Studio, and perhaps any franchise owners and other locations of the store would have the right to distribute the company’s products and services. The Photo Studio will employ their own sales representatives, their own photographers in studio and on location, they will be prepared with all equipment necessary to manage, print and edit all images for the customers. Therefore, there will be no need for any other intermediary or member of the channel.

The channel organization of the direct marketing channel is pretty simple, because it only involves the Photo Studio and the final customer. However, the Photo Studio could engage in several other channel organizations. A good example would be to create a horizontal marketing system with companies that provide yearbook creations to local high schools. In such channel organization, the Photo Studio could join forces with a local printing company who provides such services and be the main photography studio to provide photography services to high schools that need to take pictures to include in their yearbooks.

Another option could be to partake in a multichannel distribution system in which the Photo Studio can create or develop more marketing channels to reach other customer segments. For example, the company could create on marketing channel for all high school potential customers, another marketing channel for all wedding customers, and yet another channel for maternity and birth customers. This will enable the company to further specify the different options, offers and services that they can provide for each customer segment.

The Marketing Communications Mix of the Photo Studio

After analyzing the marketing environment forces that impact the Photo Studio, positioning the company, selecting the target market, identifying the type of product and service that the company is providing, pricing those products and services, and selecting a proper distribution channel, the last step, and probably the most important one would be to select the proper marketing communications mix to persuade customers and inform them about the Photo Studio.

Overview. There are more than plenty promotion tools for the Photo Studio to take advantage of and use to persuade and inform customer about the products and services that it offers. These tools include advertising, sales promotions, personal selling, public relations and direct marketing. The Photo Studio will not engage in mass marketing, but rather develop a focused marketing program to better create a stronger relationship with its customers. But using so many tools to create a more customized marketing strategy can pose some difficulties and the Photo Studio should always keep a clear and consistent message throughout all the tools, in order to have a successful integrated marketing communications mix.

Promotion Mix Strategy. The Photo Studio will focus a large portion of its marketing efforts in advertising, even though it can be very expensive. The Photo Studio will also offer a large amount of sales promotions. However, the Photo Studio will focus less on direct marketing, personal selling and public relations. The Photo Studio will use a pull strategy, because it will focus mainly in advertising and consumer promotions to attract customers.

The Message. The message that will be informed to the Photo Studio’s target market across all the promotional tools chosen will be a clear and consistent message. This Photo Studio is for high-income customers that have busy lives and want to look their best; therefore the studio’s message should reflect this benefit. The message will be a clear and simple statement as follows:

“Busy? Let us take the picture. We’ll make you look good”.

Advertisement. Advertisement was chosen as the main promotional tool for the Photo Studio because it will allow the company to reach all potential customers in the local area by being exposed to them in many several ways. It will also help the Photo Studio to become locally known and the message widely spread. The Photo Studio will use advertising in the forms of local TV ads, to constantly inform the locals about the studio. Listings in local yellow pages would allow for potential customers looking for photographic services to find us. Flyers and brochures in local schools would serve for seniors to consider the company for their senior studio shots. Local events magazines that advertise wedding locations will also advertise the Photo Studio as the place to go for your wedding photography needs.

Sales Promotion. Sales promotions will be offers to potential customers so that they are enticed to book a photo shoot and buy prints from the Photo Studio as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the deals being offered. This promotional tool will be used because it will entice and attract customers. Deals such as referring a friend could be offered to seniors at the local high school so more customers from the same high school would choose our Photo Studio over the others because they can receive a discount by referring their friends. Discounts can also be offered to couples that are engaged and taking their engagement pictures and sign a contract to also book the Photo Studio for their wedding pictures. Discounts can also be offered to customers who print their photos at the Photo Studio and offering discounts with more quantities of prints provided.

Direct Marketing. The Photo Studio chose direct marketing, because once it has a database of all past and prospect customers, the company will be able to send customized and immediate messages to those clients. For example, the Photo Studio can choose only a portion of the database, those interested or who previously purchased engagement photo shots, and offer 10% discount on wedding photography. This will be conveniently done by the Photo Studio by using a computer based database that would classify customers by their different interest, age group and such, in order to send specific mass e-mails and newsletters to those customers who would most likely be interested in the offers the studio is presenting. The best part is that it would pose no major expenses by the company to create such marketing promotions.

Conclusion

If the Photo Studio is prepared, it creates and follows a good marketing communications plan, then most likely the studio will be successful in attracting, keeping and growing the customers and clients it provides services too. However, the Photo Studio should always pay attention to the changes in the environment forces affecting the marketing strategy in order to adapt it to those changes and continue to have a good marketing communications plan.

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The Four P’s of Freelance Photography

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Photography has been around since 1839, more than one hundred and fifty years ago. Ever since, people have used cameras to photograph a variety of subjects and keep the photographs as a memento or even as evidence. Technology has advanced ever since the Kodak Company introduced the first consumer camera in the late 1800s. Nowadays even the most inexperienced photographer can take an incredible photo with the use of a digital camera. However, some people and firms have the need to hire a professional photographer to capture the memorable moments of a specific event, firm, product or incident.

The services that a photographer provides include, but are not limited to photographing weddings, birthday parties, company events, company products, company facilities, incriminating evidence, model portfolios, developing news around the community and so forth. A photographer can be hired on a one-time basis or to cover a recurring event. Every photographer must consider their marketing environment, and create a good marketing plan in order to have a successful business as a freelance photographer.

Leica M4 with Summicron 50mm f/2 and gogles fo...

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Product and Services of a Freelance Photographer

Freelance photographers can offer their services as a product, but they can also offer the images themselves as an end product, which can be considered a consumer good. Photographers can sell their services for an hourly fee, meaning they can charge the customers a previously discussed amount of dollars for every hour that they provide photographic services. This can include the amount of time spent actually taking pictures at a particular event, but it can also include the amount of time spent digitally editing and enhancing the images once the event is over. Moreover, the photographer can charge a separate fee for the amount of photos – the product it self – that the customer wishes to receive, and he can charge different fees for the manner in which the customer whishes to receive the images, whether it is digitally or a printed copy of each individual image.

Photographers must constantly be aware of their competitive environment, when deciding what products to offer. They might have to consider the factor of change when conceiving and developing the list of products and services they provide. Everyday there is a brand new technology, especially when it comes to digital cameras. Photographers may have to constantly be upgrading their equipment in order to provide higher quality, and higher resolution images to their customers and keep up with the competition. They might also have to consider changing the existing products to meet consumers’ needs and keep pace with competitors. If other photographers offer higher quality images or better packages, including both digital and hard copies or makeup and wardrobe assistance, the photographer may have implement product differentiation to change or expand the products and services he offers or promote a particular feature or image to make his products and services differ enough from other competitors and to attract customers. For example, a photographer may include an extra copy of the digital images in case the customer looses their first copy, or have them displayed on the photographer’s business website before printing the hard copies so that the customer can choose which ones they wish to print.

The Pricing of Freelance Photography

After a freelance photographer decides what kind of services and products he wishes to provide for customers, he has to decide the amount of money he wants to charge customers for those products and services. As we discussed before, photographic services have been around for a long period of time, freelance photographers have to consider that they are pricing an existing service and product. When making the pricing decision, photographers will have three choices; pricing above market prices, pricing below market prices or pricing near or at existing market prices. A photographer who is new in the freelance photography business may decide to price above the market prices to cover the initial cost of equipment such as cameras, flashes and computers, marketing and so forth. An already established photographer, who already owns all the equipment necessary, and is a well know photographer with great references, may wish to price near or even below market prices to have a competitive advantage between other photographers.

Photographers can be creative when pricing their products and services. They can combine both into packages and offer extra features for free with little or no cost to the photographer. For example, a photographer may offer a CD including all the images to the customer, but he may charge a fee for the CD. A better offer could be providing the customer with temporary access to a website location on the Internet to retrieve the images for free.

Whichever price the photographer sets his services and products to, he must make sure that he will make a profit, but also that customers will be willing to pay those prices for the products and services he offers. His products must meet the clients’ requirements, needs and wants.

The compact disc

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The Placement/Distribution of Freelance Photographic Services and Products

Freelance Photographers deal with little distribution problems. Most of the services and products they provide have no intermediaries, because customers hire the photographer and their services directly. Therefore, the freelance photographic services uses mostly the first channel of distribution, direct distribution, which goes from the producer – the photographer – to the end users – the client or customer –. Photographers however, do use physical distribution to deliver the end products (or images) to their customers. If the customers wish to have digital images only, the photographer may use high-speed digital transmission, such as e-mail or website downloads. If the customers decide they wish to have hard copies of their images, the photographer can personally deliver the images or send them by mail. Distribution can also be used as a marketing strategy. Photographers can offer fast distribution via high-speed digital transmission as one of the features of their products and services, to have an advantage over the competition.

The Promotion of Freelance Photographic Services and Products

Promotion is the most important component of the marketing mix; and it is the most visible as well. This is advantageous to photographers because their products are all about visual communication; in fact, their products help other firms sell their products by providing a visual representation of them.

When making decisions regarding the best way to promote their products and services, photographers must be aware of whom they want their target audience to be. If a photographer does not possess experience with wedding photography for example, then they may not want to advertise their services to that particular audience.

Photographers must use all elements of the promotional mix to attract the biggest amount of potential customers, because a freelance photographer has to compete with bigger more established companies offering photographic services. Photographers should advertise their services and products in the media, through networking, offering sales promotions and creating publicity for themselves.

One advertising avenue that photographers should consider, due to the nature of their products, is the digital media avenue. Advertising themselves through e-mails, e-mail campaigns and newsletters, websites, newspaper ads, magazines, and direct mail. There is a growing opportunity in advertising inside social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, photographers should take advantage and post their ads in such sites.

Are You Ready?

In conclusion, whether you are an experienced photographer or you are just starting in the business of freelance photography, you must remember to clearly identify all the products and services you wish to offer to potential customers. You must then price your products and services to create an advantage over the competition, but remembering you must make a profit as well. You should decide in which ways you would distribute your products to your customers. And finally you should advertise you self, your products and your services in a way that makes you stand out and differentiate between your competitors.

Large Family Photo Shoot (Tips & Ideas)

One of the most difficult photo shoots are the ones where you have a large group of people, like a large family photo shoot.   As the photographer, not only do you have to be assertive and control everyone involved, but you also have to make sure everyone looks great in one single shot.   Unless you plan to spend hours in Photoshop and select everyone’s perfect shot and compile it into one.
The first time I had to take a large family photo shoot, I was a bit nervous at first, but I realized the best way to deal with that was to have fun.   Have fun with the family.   I had to take a photo shoot of a family of 6 adults and 3 kids, for a total of 9 people.   Adults are easy, but mixing in the children into the large family photos it’s a bit tricky.   You have to get them to look at you, all of them, at the same time.   The adults will try to help you when it comes to making the children look at the camera and smile, but by doing that THEY will end up being the ones not looking at the camera.  It is tougher with younger children, but if I could do it, so can you!

So here are a couple of tips and ideas for your own family photo shoot, whether you are the photographer or the family.

Color Coordinated Clothing

Color Coordinated Clothing

Clothing

The most important tip I always give my photography clients before I photograph them is to color coordinate their outfits.   The second tip, is don’t dress in white! Having a color-coordinated family looks cute, and also makes everyone in the photo look like they belong together, as a cohesive family unit.   But you don’t have to look boring or too similar.   You can create a cohesive look by deciding a color scheme first.   You can base your color scheme on the seasons, the location of the photo shoot, the family’s favorite sports team, fashion trends, or even a family inside joke.   Usually casual styles are better, and jeans are a favorite so everyone is comfortable.   However, you can always go more formal for some Holiday photos or studio shots that will probably end up on your Family Holiday Greeting Cards.   Just make sure you all follow the same style, whether it is casual or formal.   You don’t all have to wear jeans and a green shirt.   If your color scheme is green and blue, then girls can wear green skirts and a blue shirt, and guys can wear jeans and a green shirt.   Also play with layers, a sweater over a shirt, a scarf, etc.   Matching everyone’s outfit doesn’t mean the same shirt and pants for everyone, but the same colors over all, in different pieces of clothing.   Different shades of the same color are good too.   For these large groups it’s good to stay away from too much patterns.   It is best to select pieces that are solid colors and that don’t have distinctive words, like the brand’s logo on them.   Remember that your shoes will show in some pictures, so make sure they match your outfit!

Different Levels

Different Levels

Posing

Great family photos usually feel like everyone in the picture loves each other and are happy.   But we all know that is usually not the case in real life.   Setting up the family in a pose to create the “Perfect Family” photo might be difficult.   Different heights, age, hair color, couples, kids, and clothing can help you decide how to place each person in the picture.   The tallest people behind the shortest people, the kids in the middle, the oldest in the middle, each couple on a different area.   All of these are good possibilities, but a bit overdone.   Think outside the box, group people in two’s or three’s and compose the larger group with those smaller groups, and even separate each group in a different level, one group behind another, or on a step above or sitting down below.   However, make sure to “angle” everyone, meaning don’t line everyone up one next to another with their shoulders touching each other’s.   Make sure they stand at an angle so their shoulders overlap instead.   Also, make sure they don’t tilt their heads towards the person next to them; people tend to do that when taking pictures.   You can also split the group up and take a moment to take some shots of each individual section of the family, like only the kids, or only the grandparents, or only the couples.   Also remember to take Candid photos.   While the family is repositioning, moving to another location, taking a break, keep taking pictures and catch them when they are not looking.

Beware of Funny Faces :)

Beware of Funny Faces 🙂

Taking the photos

Make sure you adjust all your camera settings before you begin shooting.   If you are not sure about a certain pose, or background, test it with the adults first, and then include the kids when you are ready, so they don’t get restless while you are taking the shots.   Make sure all the subjects are lit in the same manner, so that you don’t have some people in the shade and others in the sun.   Focus on the person in the middle, or right next to it.   Make sure you continue shooting even if everyone is moving or changing places, you might miss out on something fun.   However, make sure you continue to check your photos after you move on to a different pose or location, and check to make sure no one blinked or made funny faces.

Keep Shooting, Even When No One Is Posing!

Keep Shooting, Even When No One Is Posing!

More Tips

Always check the weather!!!
– You might need some shade for the children while they wait, so bring an umbrella.
– Bring a toy or something that usually catches the kids’ attention, so you can get them to look at the camera.
– Ask your clients to think of different poses that they would like and to practice them. Also, if they have a sample of something they want, they should give it to you. Like if they want a particular pose they’ve seen somewhere else, or if they want a particular toy or thing in the picture.
– Let your clients know that if you keep shooting pics when they are not really posing, not to be caught off-guard, sometimes the best pics are the ones where they are not posing.

Unexpected Angles & Poses

Unexpected Angles & Poses

*Special thank you to the beautiful Hunt Family for allowing me to share their large family photo-shoot with the world 🙂

Maternity Photo-Shoot Tips and Ideas

As a photographer, having a maternity photo-shoot set up of a client can be a great opportunity to take some creative and fun pictures for your own portfolio.   However, much like some other types of photo-shoots, it can be difficult to deal with a client who is pregnant and about to give birth.   I have had the pleasure to photograph pregnant friends and even the most intimate and precious moment of the actual birth.

As the photographer, you must always keep in mind the safety and comfortableness of your subject, the mommy to be and her baby.   It might be a great opportunity for you to get some amazing pregnancy shots for your portfolio, but you must always keep your client’s needs in mind.   Here are some great tips for both the mommy to be and the photographer, as well as some cool photo ideas.

Bump

Bump

Preparations For the Mommy

– The Spa Treatment: Mommies need to be relaxed and worriless the day of their photo-shoot. Having their photos taken, may bring up emotions of how much weight they have gained, and feel like they don’t look their best. Mommies also have a hard time reaching lower parts of their bodies, because of the shape of their bellies, so they couldn’t be able to paint their own toenails, for example.   A good idea is to have a full day spa treatment the day before or a couple of hours before the photo-shoot.   That way the mommy to be can have her hair done, manicure and pedicure, everything waxed, and even professional makeup.   By the time the camera turns on, the mommy-to-be won’t have to worry or feel self-conscious about her nails, hair or makeup.
– Moisturize: Mommies should prepare their skin for the photo-shoot by moisturizing with lotion the most troublesome areas like knuckles, elbows and knees.
– Skin Marks: The day of the photo-shoot, mommies should refrain from wearing any tight clothing or underwear that would have elastic bands that could leave marks on the skin.   This includes socks, because they will leave marks.
– Tannin: Some mommies have the luck to have gorgeous sun-kissed skin.   For those who feel self-conscious about their skin being too pale, there is an option.   Of course I am not recommending that you sunbathe all day before the photo-shoot.   You are pregnant! And the most important thing is the safety of your baby.   However, you can consult your doctor on the safety of spray-tans.   I have read that home spray tans have been ruled completely safe for pregnancy, but I would still research and ask your doctor.   You can also make sure you read the product’s label before you use it to be sure.   There are also some other at-home tanning products, which seem less harmful, which include some tanning wipes.   It is also a good idea not to try a new product the day of the photo-shoot, just in case it doesn’t work just right.   Ask your doctor, and make sure to try it a couple of weeks before the photo-shoot.
– Daddy: If the daddy will be included in the photo-shoot, lets remind him to shave and prep as well.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Props

Odds are that most of the props needed for the maternity shots, the mommy-to-be already has.   Ask her to bring them to the photo-shoot, but if you think you will have more maternity shots in the feature, it would be a good idea to invest in some of these props.   For example, you can get baby blocks to spell out “baby”, “boy”, “girl”, or even the name of the baby.   Get a measuring tape, preferably pink for girl, and blue for boy.   Get the mommy to bring some baby booties or shoes.   Get a large picture frame, just the frame with nothing on the inside, either gold, black or silver would do.   Get a mirror.   Ask the parents to bring something special they have purchased or inherited for the baby, like a special toy that means something to them, they favorite sports team logo, a blanket, etc.   Buy the mommy-to-be’s favorite flowers.   Solid colored blankets are good to have, especially plush ones, so the mommy can sit on and not have to get her outfit dirty.   Outfits that they have already bought for the baby, the sonogram picture of the baby, a scale, blue or pink ribbons, and a label that reads “Do not open until___” (Baby’s due date).   Of course the mommy to be can bring her hubby, her other children, and even her pets to the photo-shoot.
Always think of the mommy’s comfort, and remember pregnant woman can be bothered by the weather.   Be prepared and bring an umbrella if the shoot is outdoors to shield her from the sun.   A little hand-held fan can go a long way.   If the weather is cold, then bring a sweater or two.   Paper towels would be needed if it is hot outside to wipe off any sweat and fix makeup, extra makeup would be good, too.   Mommies also get hungry most of the time, so cold drinks and healthy snacks are good to keep handy, and keep her in a good mood.   An iPod with some relaxing music can put our mommy-to-be in a relaxed mood.   It is also a good idea to have the mommy-to-be search the internet for maternity pictures and have her send you the ones that she likes.   Then on the day of the photo-shoot print them out and bring them with you for inspiration.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Clothing

For outdoor photo-shoots is best to stay away from WHITE outfits.   Suggest that the mommy-to-be wear clean and ironed outfits that are mostly solid colors, and nothing that is too big on her.   The idea is to accentuate the belly; so buttoned shirts are good, because buttons can be opened if she wishes to take photos of her bare belly.   Tops that completely reveal the belly are good too, so something that would be like a cardigan covering only the breasts and arms could be a good option.   Wraps and scarves can be used as a top without covering the belly as well.   If the hubby, siblings and other family members will be joining the mommy in the photo-shoot, their clothes should be color coordinated as well.   Something like a solid top (blue, black, green, etc.), and jeans or khakis is always a good combination.   Long shirts and dresses that wrap the belly are a good option for mommies who don’t wish to bear too much skin.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Location, Location, Location

Maternity photo-shoots could be very private in the client’s home.   The privacy can allow for the mommy-to-be to feel more comfortable showing off her baby bump.   Pictures can be taken inside the baby’s room, in front of a well-lit window, a solid color wall or even in bed.   In this case, is good to have the client prep the house so that everything is in order and the baby’s room is ready and clean.   Taking it outside can be fun too.   A park, a botanical garden, or the beaches are great places to start.   Local historical buildings and areas are a good too.   Be sure to discuss this with the client and decide on locations before you head out.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Common Shots

Some mommies like the cliché, more traditional pictures; you know the ones everyone gets. Like the silhouetted belly, the hand-hearts over the belly, the baby blocks spelling the name or gender of the baby, the due date tag with the ribbon, the ribbon by itself, the measuring tape, the daddy kissing the belly, the daddy listening to the belly, the sonogram picture, the baby outfit on top of the belly, the booties on top of the belly.   Even though, you as a photographer wish to be different, you shouldn’t limit your clients by telling them to stay away from cliché shots.   If your client wants the common and overused shots, then provide them.   Afterwards, you can suggest some more unusual shots for them and for your portfolio.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

Unusual Shots

To spice things up in a maternity photo-shoot, you can’t just read a list of unusual shots on the Internet, because that would mean that those photos have already been done, and most likely other people are reading those lists too.   Go with your instinct and take photos of anything that seems interesting and different.   Try zooming in and not using your flash, try different views, your view, mommy’s view, dad’s view, the pet’s view, anything you can think of.   It may not work, but you may end up with something amazing.   You just have to take a chance.   You can try to modify some of the already common ideas.   Like instead of using baby blocks to spell the baby’s name or gender, you can write it on the sand and then position mommy and daddy’s feet on top.   You can play with silhouettes and shadows, reflections on the mirror or the water, change the focus, take the shot from outside or inside an odd spot, like from a window looking in or out.

Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity Photo Shoot

***Special Thanks to Jennifer for allowing me to share images of her pregnancy on this post 🙂

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