Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick is a family photographer with nestingNYC and photography coach for parents with Photosanity. She is on a mission to help parents more fully experience the precious fleeting moments of their children's lives through photography. She teaches The Photosanity Workshop, a twelve week online photography workshop for parents, and also offers custom one-on-one coaching and NYC area family portrait sessions. Alethea is also mom to two boys, Liam, aged 3.5, and Jack, 9 months. Follow Alethea on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Do You Struggle To Get Your Potential Clients To Understand And Appreciate The Value Of What You Do?
If so, you are not alone.
I hear from a lot of professional family photographers who struggle with this. How can we communicate the value of beautiful portrait artwork that retains meaning over a lifetime in this age of “Groupon” shoot-and-burn photographers who are giving away their sessions complete with a disc of high resolution images for under $100?!
How My Experience As A Mom Lead Me To Figure It Out
I struggled with this same issue when I first started my family photography business.
At the same time, I was a new mom who not only fell in love with her first baby, but fell in love with photographing him.
However, as a mom, I quickly became overwhelmed by how many photos I was taking and how little time I had to do anything with them.
I also noticed, as I started to talk to and work with more and more parents, how so many of them loved photographing their kids too, but were frustrated with the results. I could see how some simple strategies and tips that even the most sleep-deprived parent could learn would make a huge difference.
So, I set out to figure out a) what parents needed to know to take better photos of their kids and b) how on earth could we as parents get control over all the thousands of photos that we were now taking so that they were organized and out in the world to be shared and enjoyed rather than gathering dust on a hard drive?!!!
I also had a hunch that, just as I myself gained an increasing appreciation for the value of professional photography the more I got into photography myself, so too would my workshop participants.
And thus The Photosanity Workshop [affiliate] was born, where I teach parents how to take better photos, and organize, edit and share too.
The Surprising Result Of The Workshop
I'll be honest – my dad thought I was crazy, teaching people how to take better photos, and I still get questions from photographers about whether I'm worried that in teaching parents my “secrets” I will lose them as potential clients.
I'm not worried at all.
In fact, the opposite has been true. Last year my photo sessions sold out to local workshop participants and referrals before I even got the chance to offer them to the rest of my e-mail list, let alone the public. Some of my workshop participant turned portrait clients have kids in elementary school and had never hired a professional photographer before. Through my workshop, they gained an increased appreciation for the value of photography and were willing to invest. And even if they were starting to take great photos of their kids, they still needed a professional photographer to take photos that included them, with their families.
After all, even professional photographers need other professional photographers to photograph them! I make sure my family is photographed at least twice a year by a professional photographer – this is something that has only become more important to me over time, not less.
My Primary Mission … And The Happy Secondary Result
Now I'm not saying that everyone who takes my workshop becomes a portrait client – far from it. Professional photography is not for everyone, especially the highly customized services that I offer, and that is totally ok.
My primary mission with Photosanity is to help parents get more enjoyment out of photographing their kids – this is completely rewarding and fulfilling to me in and of itself and I love doing it. In fact, as much as I believe in the value of professional photography, I feel like I can have an even greater impact on someone's life if they work with me through my workshop or one-on-one coaching.
I have no expectation that my workshop participants become portrait clients. However, I am always happy when they do – they are GREAT clients, and I'm actually hesitant now to take on clients who haven't taken my workshop, just because I know there will be more education involved up front.
Don't Alienate Your Clients – Make Your Passion Accessible So They Fall In Love With Photography Too
I think as professional photographers, it's very easy for us to try and set ourselves apart from the rest of the crowd who don't know what they're doing, and to try to create value around what we do by making it seem unattainable and inaccessible … but that's a really great way to further alienate your potential clients.
Instead, in my workshop, I draw very heavily from my own experiences not as a professional photographer but as a mom photographing my own kids. I talk about how much the experience of photographing my own kids means to me – how it has transformed me as both a photographer and as a mom.
I talk about how I more fully experience the precious fleeting moments of my children's lives through photography, and how photography can change the way you see and feel so that even if you don't have your camera with you, and you don't take a photo, your senses, emotions and memories are heightened.
I talk about how my photos are an expression of my love for my kids and for everything that I love about my life and that they are a love letter of sorts. I explain that when my kids look back at my photos of them, I want them to see just how much they are cherished and just how important the moments we have together are.
I believe that ANY parent can learn to take amazing photos of their kids that have incredible emotional power and that capture natural moments that would otherwise fade into a blur and be lost forever.
And I do advocate that workshop participants include regular professional family photo sessions as part of their plan for documenting their family's life, along side their own photos, but this is a really small part of the workshop, more of a postscript actually.
I teach parents to take better photos and organize, edit and share too, but what I really teach them is how the experience of photographing their kids can change their experience as a parent.
Because of this approach, my workshop participants fall in love with photography, and in doing so, gain an increased appreciation for its value.
How Can You Apply This To Your Business?
I encourage every professional photographer to share your own personal experiences with photography so your passion for what you do is infectious. Inspire and empower your clients and potential clients to fall in love with photography by taking their own photos, and they will need and want you more than ever before.
And if you don't have time to create an entire twelve week online workshop for parents (believe me, it's a lot of work!) I would love to have you tell your family portrait clients and potential clients as well as all your non-photographer parent friends about The Photosanity Workshop.
In fact, I'm giving a FREE live online workshop for parents called Quickstart your Photosanity [affiliate link] this coming Tuesday September 18th at 9pm EDT. I'll be giving participants tips and strategies they can use right away (including some of my best material yet!) as well as offering a preview to The Photosanity Workshop, and signups for the paid workshop will open right after the call.
I'm offering a generous cash commission per referred sale so if you're interested in becoming a Photosanity Affiliate, you can find out more and sign up here.