Today we take a peek into the studio of Erin Bell of Bell Portraits in Westport, CT.
In what kind of space is your studio located?
How long have you been there?
2 months- previously located in smaller space on the other side of the building for 3 years
What makes your studio special?
Oh gosh- everything- but it's my baby so perhaps I'm a bit biased. For one, our studio is on the main road in Westport, which is a sophisticated, beachy, and artsy town 50 miles from Manhattan. It really is such an ideal town to reach my clientele. What's even more special is even though the studio is on a main, high traffic road where our sign and big color window displays can be viewed- it is located inside a historic mill with all original floorboards and a gorgeous little pond behind the building. Sitting on my desk- I can see a little waterfall, swans, egrets, and even the occasional father and son out fishing. It's really such a tranquil place to work. I truly feel like I hit the location jackpot with the best of both worlds.
How has it helped your business?
My goal with the studio was to make it so beautiful that it encouraged clients from years past to return to me, my regular group of loyal clientele happy that they are part of the journey of a thriving studio, and new clients feel really secure that they picked a photographer who understands design, aesthetics, and details. I based the design of the studio off of my clients' homes and everything that I think represents the town of Westport. I love seeing Moms' expressions when they first come into the studio. My goal was to design it to appeal to a Mom's style- and yet still have that slight touch of playfulness that makes the statement 'we truly are the baby experts in the area'. All of my clients seem so content when they walk into the studio and I think it really helps them know that they chose the right studio to document their family's life. They see how much I invest back into my business and clients- and feel comfortable therefore investing in me.
Do you have any tips for opening a studio?
Build decorating into your budget. So often I see people with gorgeous spaces- but they don't leave enough budget left for decorating. Put some money aside to really make it beautiful and scour the internet's many interior design blogs to figure out what is in style. Since photography is all about having an 'eye', clients love a photographer on top of modern styles. Also- get every last dime's worth out of that rent you're paying and mention your studio as much as possible. In today's congested photography world- a studio really sets you apart. I never just say, "I'm a photographer." I always say, "I'm a photographer- my studio is located in Westport next to Shake Shack and across from Panera Bread in the Old Sasco Mill- do you know the area?" I believe that by letting clients and acquaintances know you have a studio you're saying, "I'm thriving, I'm making real money, and I'm here for the long haul".
What products do you sell the most?
I decided a long time ago that I wanted to focus on three products- our digital files with a keepsake box, our wall art that due to it's unique look is recognizable from home to home, and our album that we truly customize for each client. All of our clients end up purchasing one of our 8 collections that combine these three products in various quantities. Our most common sale is the collection that includes the digital files with keepsake box, a 20x24 framed piece of wall art, and our album.
Do you use Design Aglow products in your studio? If so, which product(s), and how have they helped your sales?
About 4 years ago I bought Design Aglow's product guide. Although I completely customized the whole thing to really fit our studio and include information about our sessions in addition to our products - having a base model to start with was really helpful. We have three versions of this guide- one for our signature sessions, one for our mini sessions, and one for our newborn sessions. Each book is an 8.5x11 full color 24 page book printed with CopyCraft (who DA also referred). Mailing this to each client upon booking not only gives them a bit of 'wow' factor about our studio- but ensures the ordering session will go smoothly since I've prepared them well.
Do you have a great space you would like to share with our community? We would love to hear from you and possibly peek into your world. Simply visit this link and we will guide you through the quick submission process.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.