The whole package…

What are the best words to hear?

“We would like to book you to photograph our baby girl when she’s born. We have looked at all your photos and completely fallen in love with your newborn images.”

Yes, that’s an incredibly gratifying thing to hear. They’ve chosen me because of my images, which is just how it should be. OK, I imagine that if I told them it would involve committing to a minimum spend of a thousand pounds, they’d backtrack quickly…but of course that’s not going to happen because I don’t charge anything like that.

However, it’s not just the images which they’ve based their decision on. I’ve been recommended by another customer who had a great experience with me a few weeks ago and can only say lovely things about it all. I took great care of this particular couple (as I do with all!) who visited with their baby boy and they’re buzzing. I posted a preview image on Facebook to show them just what we achieved, and mum is just thrilled. She’s doing my marketing for me. I just have to sit back and let her spread the word.

So, the date is set. How do I want these people to feel when they come to the studio with their precious newborn baby girl? I want them to feel relaxed, and I know they will. The studio is meant to be a home-away-from-home, it is not an overwhelming sterile space which panics you into thinking you’re going have to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds. I’m a mum who just happens to be a photographer, and I know exactly what it’s like to sit on that sofa, a little shell shocked after giving birth to your first baby, hideously sleep deprived and out of your depth. My empathy with the client is spot on. I completely get it. All I want to do is take baby into my capable hands and capture some naturally beautiful photographs which you couldn’t achieve yourself. The images will all be thoughtfully and meticulously constructed but they’re simple. I’m not going to give you heart palpitations by dangling baby precariously from a rustic branch I just foraged for in the woods. Baby doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do, and it’s all safe and sound. You’ll feel totally comfortable with it all.

What’s my USP? Without sounding big-headed, it’s me. You only have to look at the reviews on my professional Facebook page to see this. Customers are saying “Charlotte made me feel totally at ease”, “She always made sure that I was ok with her handling Evie and putting her into poses”, “your handling and positioning of Lucy showed skill and experience”, “there was no time pressure or stress” and “she made everything so easy and relaxed”. This, in addition to beautiful images, is what my customers are paying for.

So when someone enquired last week pushing me to “do a deal” on the USB of images because a larger, busier studio in the local area (which shall remain nameless) had offered it to her for half the price, I had to reluctantly drop the lead. This company is not me and I have to protect my product. Will the photographer working for this company tell mum and dad not to worry if they’re running late, will they be accommodating if mum and dad have had a nightmare of a morning and nothing went as planned? I do! Will the photographer keep checking his watch because he has another client lined up afterwards? I certainly don’t, as there is nothing in the diary except you. Will there be pressure selling at the viewing, and will the final images have that same graceful and delicate edge to them? Will the photographer expertly rock baby to sleep and tell mum and dad to have a break? Will the parents leave the studio feeling relieved and revived….?

I’d like to think I provide mum and dad with the whole package and that, in the process, I become a friend, especially to mum, who brings her baby back, time and time again.