Hi Kristen! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
My business is run from my studio in Melbourne, Australia where I specialize in baby and wedding photography. I was a lawyer in my previous career but after having a baby ten years ago, I became enamored with the idea of documenting every moment that I could once she was born. I never sought out to be a photographer – photography found me, and in some ways, it was serendipitous. I still pinch myself every single day that I get to call this a job and get paid to spend the most memorable times of strangers lives with them. There is enormous trust in that.
You photograph newborns, maternity, and weddings. Why these three? What makes you passionate about these genres and how do they fulfill you creatively?
For babies, it’s because it’s how I started - my journey evolved from my own passion in photography, and it’s the reason I still continue with my own personal project of my children every single year. And although many people first think that babies and weddings don’t mix, I actually completely disagree. I am photographing two of the most emotionally charged events in people's lives - getting married, and having a baby. And both of those days are filled with such purpose and joy and they marry (no pun intended ;) hand in hand so well. It’s also such a pleasure to be able to photograph a client’s wedding day to then see them a few years later as their family grows.
Your style is...
Evolving. Always. Just as it should be.
What do you recommend for a family going in for their first ever newborn photoshoot? How should they prepare? What should they not do?
Unlike many photographers, I actually don’t provide my clients with a prep guide for newborns. As a parent, I remember back to those first early days where even getting dressed was a feat unto itself, and for this reason, as long as the clients show up, this is enough for me. I don’t want to put any extra pressure on them to prepare particularly as babies aren’t “in” on this plan, and if things don’t go the way I’ve suggested, I don’t want to give them any reason to be any more stressed than than may already feel. So, my focus instead is on simply having them arrive to the studio happy, safe and sound. The rest we can work out as we go along.
Where do you find inspiration? How do you make each photo shoot unique to each family/baby?
As cliché as this sounds, it's the same answer I always give: it's my babies that inspire me. Each and every single baby that comes to visit me has their own story to be told, and their beautiful parents take part in that storytelling journey also. They are truly the champions of their own children and will often tell you everything that you need to be inspired by that baby without even realising it. There is so much greatness to be found in the honesty of those moments.
Babies can be tricky to photography, after all, you can’t give them direction! What are your top 3 tips for photographing babies and children?
Step outside of your comfort zone: learn through mistakes and experiment
Connection: this is a key component in photographing little ones. If they do not trust you, it will show.
Perspective: use perspective in your image for drama and contrast. Get down on their level.
What’s your workflow like? Take us through your whole process from start to finish.
I use Studio Ninja to manage all of my workflow tasks - it’s been an absolute lifesaver to streamline all of my to-do tasks and workflows. After a shoot I download all images, cull in Lightroom and soft proof my images for the ordering appointment. These are the same images the client sees. After we know which images they’ve ordered, those images get sent to my editor for final polish and ordering. My office assistant then puts all of my products together and packages everything beautifully.
As a successful photographer, you must be selling products. Tell us how you prep your clients for an investment in your products. What are your bestsellers for newborns and families?
From the outset when clients first book I ask them to start thinking about what they want to do with their images - I make suggestions as to what products are the most popular with clients, and allow them time from the very beginning to have this thought process. It means, come ordering time, they aren’t only just starting to think about what they want and get overwhelmed with decisions. My most popular collection has a beautiful album, a wall print, some smaller gift prints and a handful of digital files - a little bit of everything :)
What advice do you have for photographers who are new to the baby market? How should they go about finding clients?
Find your grit - don’t expect the work to just come to you, without having to put yourself outside your comfort zone. That goes for any business really - put yourself out there, ask questions - the worst they can say is no, which is the same result as if you didn’t ask… but they could also say yes.
Kristen Cook is one of Australia's premier newborn and baby photographers. She is drawn to the honest beauty of babies - their fragility, infinite possibilities and power of worth. Her strength lies in her love of connection to the honest, the pure, the exploration of tenderness, and the simple beauty and authenticity that comes from human connection. Her ability to create art with her little subjects inspires as she plays with light, mood and texture to bring her feelings to life.
Letting your clients know you’re worth it, and setting early expectations for a fantastic experience.
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