We recently sat down with child and family photographer Amanda from Amanda Walton Photography to chat with her about her process, how she uses Design Aglow products in her business, and what her best advice for new photographers would be.
Read our Q&A below!
When did your photography journey start?
My love of photography started with a neon pink camera my parents gave me when I was 5; they did medical photography in their private practice, so they'd make me small rolls of film & develop them in their darkroom. I studied photography in college in the early 2000s when film was still king & Photoshop wasn't a household name (I loved the idea of having a job that didn't involve being on a computer, haha!). After graduation, I worked for a local portrait studio where I learned studio lighting as well as digital photography. After 5 years of working for someone else, I was ready to do what I saw my parents do —start a business & work for myself. My business celebrated it's 10 year anniversary last October!
You work with primarily children and toddlers. Can you describe a bit of your process?
Working with toddlers and children can seem daunting, but they’re actually my favorite to photograph. Kids just want to have fun and have their voices heard, so I like to make the portraits session feel like a playdate.
I’m often sitting or laying on the ground with them while photographing and I’m always making funny noises, singing silly songs or asking them ridiculous questions to get a laugh. When the child I’m photographing tells me they want me to come over to play with them again, I know I’ve done my job well!
We love seeing you incorporate Design Aglow products in your business. Which products do you use the most and what has the response been?
Design Aglow has been awesome for my business! I started out using the marketing templates for my newsletters which really helped my new business look established – I still use elements of those templates today!
I stock up on Design Aglow print boxes and gift bags every year. Not only are they earth-friendly which is incredibly important to both me and my Pacific Northwest clients, but they’re also well made, durable, plus they look and feel very luxe! My clients and I are obsessed with Laurelhurst frames in Barn Grey. They’re timeless and go well with almost every décor style; they’re the frames I always recommend first when I’m designing a wall gallery for a client.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job been?
I’m working with a local hospital this year to photograph infants who haven’t been able to go home due to their medical conditions and that’s been both the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my career. Emotionally it’s hard to see little ones hooked up to machines & to know they haven’t left the hospital since birth.
From a technical standpoint, there are sometimes wires and tubes the children are connected to that need to be worked around, plus the lighting isn’t always ideal especially if the babies can’t be moved far from their beds. I was super nervous the first time I went into a patient’s room to photograph.
I was so afraid I would start crying or wouldn’t know the right things to say to the parents or how to interact with the kids, but I quickly learned that children are the same whether they’re in a hospital or in their home – they just want to have fun and play!
Getting hugs from the parents and hearing how excited they are to have photos of their family fills my heart with so much happiness! I’m grateful to have the opportunity to give back to my community in this way!
Do you have any tips for aspiring newborn/baby/maternity photographers?
So many tips for aspiring family photographers are concentrated on the art or technical parts of photography, but the best advice I can give is to be business savvy! Most people go into photography because they love the art, but the business and administration side of things is just as important!
Find a great CPA that can help you understand what you’ll need to keep track of throughout the year for taxes. Keep good records and make sure you’re following up and communicating with your clients—the Design Aglow Big Picture Planner is a great tool to help with this! Learn how to calculate your cost of goods so that you don’t start out undercharging for your services and lose money.
Find a supportive group of other creatives, like The Printmaker Coalition Community or your local Rising Tide Society, so you can talk with other small business owners and share ideas. Find a mentor...or two! Experienced professionals can offer incredible insights that help to shape your business into a long-lasting venture!
Amanda Vandermeer is a child and family photographer based near Seattle, WA. She specializes in creating beautiful printed products and modern wall galleries for her clients.