Hi Kelly! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
My name is Kelly Brown and I am the photographer behind Little Pieces Photography. I established Little Pieces in 2004, when I had my first child. I progressed from taking happy snaps of my family, to studying to sharpen my photography skills and am now a portrait photographer who specialises in maternity, newborn and baby photography. I also run The Baby Summit, which has just wrapped its fourth conference for maternity, birth, newborn, baby and family photographers.
I live in Brisbane, Australia, and this year I realised a huge dream when I moved my studio out of my home and into a beautiful, custom-built space.
What made you want to pursue newborn/baby photography? Why are you passionate about this genre of photography?
It can be challenging to photograph newborn babies, but these challenges are what makes the process so rewarding! For every session, I want to create a series of timeless photographs that will be cherished by the family for many years to come, and I particularly love watching how a return client’s family grows and changes through the years.
What do you recommend for a family going in for their first ever newborn photo shoot? How should they prepare? What should they not do?
The key here is to communicate with your photographer. It is normal to have questions about what to wear to your session, and what to expect (length of session, number of photos, etc), but if you ask your photographer about the process, they will be able to guide you in the right direction. My clients are advised to wear cool, comfortable clothing, as my studio is heated for the baby’s comfort. I ask my clients to avoid wearing patterns and loud colours, and stick to neutral colours. Beyond this, a portrait session is usually a great chance for parents to relax on the studio’s couch while their baby sleeps through the session.
Where do you find inspiration? How do you make each photo shoot unique to each family/baby?
I find inspiration in found objects, sculpture, flowers and everything around me! I usually begin with a concept for my more details shoots, but the end result can often evolve beyond what I originally expected.
For client portraits, I don’t have any plans before I begin a newborn session. When the family arrive, I ask them about their favourite colours, and about their home décor, so I can guide them in some options for setups for their baby. As every baby is different, I work within the baby’s comfort zone, and I listen to what the baby is telling me about what poses and setups they are and aren’t comfortable in.
What are your top 3 tips for photographing babies and children?
What’s your workflow like? Take us through your whole process from start to finish. What products do you use to help ensure your workflow goes smoothly?
I have custom built forms and systems to suit my studio’s needs to collect client information. I have a calendar on the wall to keep track of upcoming portraits, and each shoot has a dedicated job form with a list of tasks required for that job.
After the session, I use the 3-2-1 method of backing up, which means I make 3 copies of the files, on 2 different media types (two on different hard drives, one in the cloud), and one copy offsite. This has helped immensely when that horrible sinking feeling arises on the rare occasion that I find a corrupt file!
As a successful photographer, you must be selling products. Tell us how you prep senior clients for an investment in your products. What are your bestsellers for your clients?
I believe that, as professional photographers, we owe it to our clients to provide them with professional products. Some clients come to us asking to have just digital files, but I find this is usually because they are unsure about what products they need. With a brief conversation and seeing the range of products, most clients decide that physical product is the better choice, and they then come to the portrait session with an idea of where they might hang a canvas, or display an album. Most of my clients order a print box with beautifully printed fine art photographs, presented in mats, and finished in a sturdy box emblazoned with my logo, though canvas prints are also consistently popular.
You’re not just a photographer! You also host workshops and provide other resources to fellow photographers. Was becoming an educator something you always wanted to do?
When I was learning to photograph babies, there weren’t any resources available to help me to improve, so I experienced a lot of trial and error. By sharing my knowledge with others, I can save someone else from making some of the mistakes I made, and can also help to teach safe working practices.
What advice do you have for photographers who are new to the baby market? How should they go about finding clients?
Photographing babies and families is such a rewarding experience, and I am so thankful to be able to have been able to create such an incredible career. It can take lots of practice, persistence and patience to get to where you want to be, and this is especially true when learning to photograph babies. Learn from every source you can get your hands on: workshops, networking, videos, conferences and more! And don’t be afraid of a little hard work. ;)
As you become more confident with your work, start seeking clients in your everyday life. You may find them at your local coffee shop, through your doctor’s surgery, and living in your neighbourhood. Put yourself out into the world, produce beautiful photographs, provide amazing value to your clients, and you will have a steady flow of future customers.
Anything else to add?
During a session, I take the time to get everything perfectly set up before I pick up my camera. This means ensuring my blankets and backdrops are wrinkle-free, the light and camera angle are perfect, and all details down to the baby’s fingers are in the perfect position. If you get the tiny details right in camera, it will make your time in post-production so much smoother!
Kelly Brown is a portrait photographer and educator from Brisbane, Australia, and a Double Master with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). She started her business, Little Pieces Photography, in 2005, and specialises in newborn and baby portraiture. She has diplomas in both Business and Photography and has been teaching newborn posing and business classes around the world since 2010.
In 2017 Kelly was awarded WPPI Newborn Photographer of the Year, Pet Photographer of the Year and the Excellence Award for the highest scoring images. Also in 2017, Kelly is opening a brand new photography studio and continues to educate photographers around the world.
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