Every mom in business looks for ways to improve her photography. Whether you have a blog, an etsy shop, or a foodie business, high-quality photography can truly set your brand apart. Photos that highlight your work can mean more sales of your dress designs or children's toys. Even a consulting business can benefit from gorgeous photos that set the website apart and allow the entrepreneur's personality to shine through. Today on the podcast, photographer Ariel Holcomb teaches you how to improve your photography and price your products.
Ariel Holcomb is a newborn, infant, and family photographer who has also added military homecomings and weddings to her repertoire. Her focus in each photo is on using natural light to create beautiful effects.
As a military spouse, it became difficult for Ariel to have a successful teaching career with multiple re-locations, and thus her photography business was born. Her husband Matt bought her a camera as a gift, and she taught herself everything she possibly could about photography.
Ariel began doing photography sessions for fun and practice, but then people started asking her to take their photos. She grew from charging a small amount per session to being a professional photographer. Ariel shares some great tips for those of us who may be amateur photographers on how to get great pictures. She also dishes on starting a business from scratch after a move.
(The secret's out! Ariel is the talented photographer behind all of the beautiful outdoor photos in our Etsy shop, The Amateur Naturalist.)
Tips for the novice photographer:
- Read the WHOLE manual. Learn how to shoot in manual mode with your DSLR camera. It’s a long process but just get out and practice. “Photography is not like riding a bike, it won’t just click one day. You have to research and practice.”
- Scott Kelby books – He explains everything in a simple, concise way, and his books helped her to understand the basics of photography and light
- Join facebook groups such as The Darkroom. They have a weekly theme and contest. This helps you to improve your skills and see the perspectives of different photographers.
- Expose yourself to different things to keep yourself inspired. “The day I stop trying will be the day that my photography is no longer art at all.”
- 1.5-2 hrs after sunrise and before sunset are the best times to shoot with natural light. The light is soft, warm and beautiful at these times.
- Back-lit photos (i.e. the light source is behind the subject) can really improve the look of your photos. Move your subjects around and try different angles to get the best effect.
- You can shoot anything in natural light if it’s in the shade, even on a bright sunny day.
- Wear a white shirt as the photographer because you’re a giant reflector for whatever you’re shooting. Your shirt reflects light into their face and brightens things up.
Tips on how to grow your business after a move:
- Everywhere Ariel has moved, she has known a few people ahead of time within the small community of the Marine Corps. Find someone you know and begin to get the word out about your business and what you have to offer
- Ariel looked around for local photographers and got in touch with a really great photographer in Beaufort. She wanted to learn from him and work with him, and he hired her to help with different photo shoots. He has also put her in touch with other people who ultimately hired her for photography gigs.
- Get out in the community and get involved. Ariel is a part of the Photography Club of Beaufort. Find local photo clubs and events for photographers.
How she manages her business and motherhood:
- Ariel has a list of babysitters on call that she can turn to when she has a photo session to shoot.
- One morning a week Finn goes to an in-home daycare, and she uses that time to work like crazy on editing photos, ordering supplies, and work correspondence.
How her income helps her family:
- Everything she earns from her photography (minus business and babysitting expenses) goes toward their second adoption, so it’s a blessing for her to be able support and impact her family in such an important way.
Funny and Adorable Mom moments:
- Ariel took millions of photographs when she first met Finn in the hospital. “It was ridiculous,” she said, “They were so sick of me in the NICU with my camera!”
- Finn loves to say Hi to everyone he meets when they are out and about, so a trip to the grocery store can take 3 hours as he chats everyone up!
Advice on Pricing:
- “Every moment that I’m putting into these photographs is time and if I’m going to have a business, then I need to be compensated for it.”
- Ariel considers how much she is charging per image and asks herself, “Is it a good deal, is it TOO good of a deal? It is too expensive?”
- Ariel has general guidelines for her pricing, but adjusts them depending upon the circumstances of each job, such as number of locations, outfit changes, or number of photos desired.
- “As a photographer or one-person business you have the freedom to change your prices with each session or customer as appropriate.”
- Ariel tries to compare herself to other photographers in the area and price herself accordingly based on her skill level.
- “Don’t offer your product for free as a promotional strategy. When you offer your service for free, it makes it seem like it doesn’t have value. Your product does have value, so you don't want to just give it away.”
Business Tools and Resources:
- A lot of photographers are starting to use their iPhones and Instagram (iphoneography) people are getting really great photos just with their iPhones.
- Ariel uses Instagram to post her photos, but not for editing.
- Scott Kelby’s books – Grab a hardcover book to sit by you while you figure out Photoshop and Lightroom.
- Lightroom – Ariel uses it for organization. She sorts through photos to decide which ones to work with and does basic editing.
- Photoshop – Ariel uses Photoshop for higher-level editing.
- Ariel uses Facebook the most. She puts the photos up on her photography page and invites people to tag themselves. Their friends and family then see the photos. After she puts up a session that a lot of people see and like, she almost always gets inquiries from other people about scheduling a session.
Did you learn any new tips and tricks to improve your photography? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!
~ Sarah and Beth Anne