I am sooooo excited to say I can now offer in-studio maternity portraits! This is HUGE because I’ve had mamas request to stay indoors for their shoot, or there have been times when we were rained out of our location, and, since babies come when they please, it’s not always possible to reschedule a maternity shoot before baby makes their grand entrance.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on figuring out how to still give beautiful portraits in-studio without having to ask clients to rent a separate space. And I think I’ve figured it out.
This mama had a very specific, yet simple, vision in mind for her shoot, and it worked perfectly in our space. Honestly, I was worried we wouldn’t have many good shots, but I ended up having a hard time deciding which images to edit for her reveal.
She didn’t want to look at the camera (personal preference of hers), but we still got a ton of great angles with different types of light setups to give her even more diversity in her gallery.
Above, is the simple beauty light setup, and below is her backlight set up.
The best part about in-studio maternity shoots? Mamas not having to be nervous about people watching as they shoot. This mama even got excited about doing a fine-art nude setup (not pictured), along with some drama-ish shots (below).
Then there’s the big question: But what if I REALLY want outdoor portraits?
No worries. I got you covered.
There’s a park not too far from our space, and it’s perfect for adding on a quick outdoor segment to your session.
I’ve tried offering portrait services a few different ways throughout my photography journey.
In the beginning, I just wanted to get people in front of my camera. At the time, all I really knew was how to make a proper exposure, and I just wanted to get as much practice as possible to build a portfolio, start “marketing”, yadda, yadda.
And I did.
And eventually, I felt good enough to charge (a whole other story for another day), and suddenly, I had a photography business. As most new photographers, my session fee included all the images from the session in some type of digital format (new business experiments and such) and I had products I tried to sell, but I had no clue what I was doing– it was just a hot mess.
TMP’s business experiments continued, testing what various industry leaders had to say about ISP (in-Person Sales), online sales, selling products, ditching digitals, only selling this, and only selling that…
Obviously, there is more than one way to run a photography business. But, naturally, I started to refine exactly how I wanted to run my business.
I didn’t want a high-volume studio; I wanted to have personal encounters with my clients. I wanted them to feel like they were coming to see an old friend when they booked their session.
I wanted clients to feel like they were models in a magazine shoot; stylized hair, makeup, and wardrobe were a must. I wanted clients to be able to just show up, play dress-up, and have an amazing photoshoot.
I wanted to sell beautiful products because ILOVE those products, and I can’t wait to buy a house and fill my walls up with portraits of our family. I felt if I could show other moms how beautiful these products were, they’d understand why they needed them. What mom doesn’t love seeing big adorable photos of their babies all over the place?
I wanted to do all of this while being a mom to my baby (now, babies). Which further validated my low-volume preference =]
I didn’t want to give a mediocre experience, I wanted to give my clients something they would always remember. And maybe, they can relive all the love and joy that went into making those portraits each time they walk past it, or look through their album, or open up the folio box. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll find stories to share as they look at the portraits with loved ones, eventually passing the stories down for generations.
I want it to be special. As special as the love they have for the people they created their images for.
Lately I’ve been getting the question, “What made you want to be a photographer?”
The simple version of the answer is: I just have a burning desire to capture beauty.
While the simple answer is very true, there’s a bit more to the story.
I’ve always been in love with photography. When I was 7 years old, my mom gave me a toy camera for Christmas. It was a clear pink plastic wind-up camera. She probably gifted me the toy camera because she had gotten tired of getting me the disposable cameras since I had spent that year filling them up and taking them to the drug store to get developed. How I loved that little toy camera. I would stalk my family and friends, waiting for the perfect moment to capture the perfect expression. I was fascinated by capturing people then, and still am now.
Starting in middle school, I became known by my friends and classmates to always have a camera on me. I couldn’t quite describe the burning desire to “freeze time,” as I would say, but it was there, and it was strong, and it never ceased.
I knew I wanted to be a photographer, but I thought the only way was to work for someone else.
In 2013 we were expecting our first child, and that burning desire became even stronger. Naturally, I wanted to record as much of our daughter’s milestones as I possibly could, but I also wanted to finally figure out how to become a photographer. So, I typed into the Google search engine “how to be a photographer.” Expecting to see articles explaining the process of being an intern at some magazine firm or newspaper, I was surprised to see pages and pages of blogs and articles explaining how to start a photography business.
Instantly, that burning desire turned into a full fire, and the rest is history.
There I was, sitting for hours in the dark at our kitchen table, realizing that I could not only make my dream of being a professional photographer come true, but I could start a business that would allow me the flexibility to be the mom I wanted to be. At the time, it sounded simple enough: write a business plan, set some prices, build a portfolio, and open the business. Boom, instant professional photographer.
Needless to say, it wasn’t that simple.
Once our daughter arrived, I could not wait to begin creating beautiful portraits of her and recording all her milestones with all of the amazingly adorable ideas I put into my portfolio plans. When she was 7 days old, I shot her newborn photos— well, I attempted to shoot her newborn photos.
During the “shoot,” I was so excited. I was swooning over the little headbands I bought from Burlington’s, so proud of how I matched them against the swirly fur fabric I found at Joann’s, and so in love with how precious my little one looked.
I imported the images to Lightroom, picked my favorites to edit, and completed my first set of newborn photos. Unfortunately, my excitement didn’t last much longer once I posted the images in a photography group I found on Facebook.
They ripped those pictures of my precious little girl apart (they were pretty bad though lol). I was crushed. I had failed my first newborn shoot. More importantly, I failed to get those beautiful portraits of my first-born that I had desperately wanted.
Actual photo from my first newborn shoot (my daughter)
As bad as they were, these are printed in our home!
Although I’ve had moments where I wanted to quit, this wasn’t one of them. Instead, my failure pushed me to get it right. I knew I still had some things to learn before I was ready to be a professional photographer.
I took to Google, looking for any resources on photography basics. Google searches led to free blogs and articles, which led to YouTube gurus, and finally, I began investing in education. I spent every possible minute soaking up anything I could about the business and art of photography. Even in all the researching, studying, and practicing, I still didn’t quite understand why this was all so important to me.
What was it about photography that could drive me to go months without sleep in a quest to “get it right”?
Time went by, and I started working with my first paying clients. After we worked together, I would often hear things like, “Oh, I love these pictures, thank you!” and, that was nice and all, but I still felt like something was missing.
It wasn’t until I tried my hand at boudoir portraits that it finally clicked.
At my first boudoir event, I worked with four ladies. Each lady had all of these things they didn’t like about themselves, but I didn’t really understand what they didn’t like. They were all gorgeous to me, and whenever they would tell me their biggest insecurities about their bodies, I remember thinking, “What? Why don’t you like your [insert body part]?” Which was often followed by me thinking “I would KILL to have [insert body part] like yours!”
The responses I got from those ladies once they received their images literally brought tears to my eyes.
Every one of them told me that they couldn’t believe it was them in their portraits, that they never thought they could look that beautiful. One of the husbands of the ladies even sent an email to thank me because his wife was more confident than he had seen in a long time since she’d received her images.
When I look at a person, I see more than their face, more than their insecurities, I see a story. When I talk to that same person, I can see the story come to life before my eyes. I see beyond their physical features, I feel their energy; then their energy just radiates in front of me and I HAVE to capture it, I HAVE to tell their story so that they can see what I see. So they can see the beauty in their story, even when it may not be the picture perfect fairy tale they hoped for.
It may sound cliché, but everyone has a beauty about them.
Everyone: the mom preparing to bring a life into this world, the new baby gracing the earth with their innocence, the woman who just found out she’s ill, the child that would rather throw a tantrum than give a hug, the family that bickers about everything, the sisters who barely see each other, the young lady who’s about to become a wife, the grandmother who found out she’ll have a great granddaughter soon; the women who think they have 20 pounds to lose, the women who have 20 pounds they want to gain, and the women who just want to be loved for who they are.
We all have a story to be told, and we all have beauty to capture. I believe this with every fiber of my being, and THAT is why I wanted to open TeAirra Mitchell Photography.
2017 was a pretty good year for us: we had a new baby, I finally began working full-time as a photographer, and I was graced with a many humbling life-lessons, which I’m always grateful for.
One major thing that happened last year was the Revamp. I had planned on keeping everyone updated on the in’s and out’s of everything that was happening as it happened, but, I’m not going to lie, adjusting to full-time momtrepreneur was more than I anticipated. With that said, the Revamp brought many changes internally, that shouldn’t affect you all too much, and some changes that you won’t help but be able to notice.
Ultimately, the Revamp was the first step to turning TMP into a full-service Wedding and Portrait Studio. A larger studio space is in the works, but it was absolutely necessary to establish some new systems to make sure our clients have a portrait experience they’ll never forget.
Refined Booking System I’m excited to say that we have been booking more and more sessions (you may want to check out our FAQ about how early to book your sessions), which also meant we needed to revisit some things to create a system that allows us to take in more inquiries without them getting lost among the many other emails coming in.
Now, when you’re ready to book your portrait reservation, we have a new client portal system to keep track of all of the details of your session and portrait order. The best part, all you have to do is send the inquiry from our Inquiry Form and you’ll automatically be sent booking information and be added into our studio queue.
Custom Styling + Styling Guide In the past, clients often came to me saying that they didn’t know what to wear to their session, or how to do their hair and makeup, and since this was for their portraits, it could sometimes be stressful. To ensure you get the best experience when planning for your portraits, you will have a one-on-one style consult where we’ll talk about how you want to look in your portraits and go over every detail.
We will discuss everything from basic wardrobe, to hair and makeup, and even any insecurities you may have about your body so that I can plan on how to pose you. The goal for every session is to create beautiful pictures that you love with all of your heart, and the Custom Styling + Styling Guide allows you to truly design the perfect portrait session.
In-Person Reveal + Order Session Ok, so in the past, figuring out how to sell portrait products was tough for me, but there is something so powerful in holding a physical portrait. I cannot begin to describe the joy that wells up in my heart when I hold portraits of my own family. And if I’m truly being transparent, I get the feeling as I’m putting the final touches of my client’s orders. Seriously, printing your portraits is such an important part of your portrait process, and I want all of my clients to have gorgeous heirloom portraits that leave a legacy for their family’s future generations.
When your portraits are ready, clients are invited to return to see their images and choose their favorites to build their Portrait Order using our simple pricing menu. Being in-person allows whatever questions you have to be answered right then, taking out the hassle of sending emails back and forth, playing phone tag, and putting more time between you and your final product. We want you to get excited about designing your portrait display, and we’re here to help however we can.
New Service Remember how I said clients often were overwhelmed by hair and makeup? Well, now we will have (drumroll please!)….
HAIR AND MAKEUP STYLING WITH SESSION BOOKINGS!
Yes, friends! TMP now has a hair and makeup artist to help ease the stress of achieving that picture-perfect look for your portraits.
“Who is this artist?” you may ask, well, that is a blog saved for another day, so stay tuned for the big introduction.
Well, friends, that’s all I have for you this post. I’ll be back to share some stories from TMP and give more insight into who we are as a company, but for now I just want to say: thank you for reading.