BPP 131: Alison Winterroth - The Importance of Newborn Photography

Todays Guest is Alison Winterroth. A Tampa Florida newborn, maternity, and family photographer. She’s a self proclaimed Baby Whisperer who loves to photograph the newest and tiniest human to help preserve the hectic time of life having a child is. Today Im excited to talk to her about getting started working with newborns!

Become A Premium Member is access to more in-depth questions that help move you forward!

In This Episode You'll Learn:

  • The hardest aspect of photography for Alison to learn

  • What the job description of a newborn photographer is

  • Why Newborn photography is important

  • How to convey the power of newborn photography to potential clients

  • How Alison got her first clients and how it went

  • How to practice newborn Photography

  • Signs of an amateur newborn photographer

  • What gear you need for newborn photography

  • What lens to use for newborn photography

  • The importance of knowing how to light

  • Bad info thats commonly taught to new photographers

  • What Alison would do differently if she had to start all over again

Premium Members Also Learn:

  • How to attract new newborn clients when the opportunity to photograph them is so short

  • When to take newborn photography

  • How to start a newborn photography business

  • How to know when is the right time to open a studio

  • How to keep business coming after you have opened a studio

  • Alisons best tips for editing newborn skin in photos


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Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!

Full Episode Transcription:

Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.

Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginning, photography, podcasting, growing up, two of my least favorite foods were hamburgers in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now they're two of my favorite things. Give me a burger with some peanut butter on it and you just gained yourself a new friend. Okay, let's get into today's interview.

Intro: 00:19 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymond interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now, with you as always, husband, father, Home brewer, La Dodger Fan, an Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Hello and welcome back.

Raymond: 00:49 This episode of the beginner photography podcast. As always, I'm your host, Raymond Hatfield, Indianapolis wedding photographer. And I'm excited to be here today because my job as a wedding photographer doesn't. A I, like, I get asked sometimes from couples to like shoot a maternity photos or newborn photos. And sometimes I do them like it really depends on the couple and how well we fit together for their wedding. But in general, like I don't advertise for these things. In today it just, it should because I'm not like good at them. Right. And today I'm chatting with the Alison winter off a newborn photographer who, who just shares it all and got me really excited for a newborn and a maternity you photo. So if a, if you shoot two of those things, get excited for this interview and if you don't trust me when I say that you're going to learn something new.

Raymond: 01:40 So again, this is a been been quite a week for me. Several things happened. First of all, yesterday we got eight inches of snow, which is actually pretty late for this time of year for Indianapolis. I think I saw on the news that usually that the average for this time of year we should have 10 and a half inches of snow. And I, I'm not complaining that we weren't getting any snow, but there was something missing from like the winter experience since moving here to Indiana. You just kind of get used to the snow for this time of year. And it was, it was missing. And yesterday, it all came, all of it. So we got eight inches of snow yesterday we went out with the kids and we played for quite a while. It was that bad snow if you know anything about snow, which I don't, but I know, I know that there's different kinds of snow and one you can make a snowman with.

Raymond: 02:30 And the other one you can't. And this was definitely the kind of snow that you can't make a a, a snowman with. So we, we went outside and we, you know, threw around some stone. We, we had, we had a good time, so it was fun family time to to do that and play in the snow. But now I'm done with it. So if it just all wants to melt away, I would be more than happy about that. So that was definitely the high note of the week was, was yesterday playing in the snow with, with, with the family. But the low point of the week is that this week I actually lost two wedding bookings and I wanted to talk about this. This isn't usually something that I, you know, like, Hey, let's, you know, like, let's, let's share this information and not that like, I'm, I'm, I'm scared to share it, but I learned a valuable lesson from, from this.

Raymond: 03:17 So I lost two wedding bookings this week. And one of them was because they thought mirrorless cameras were a lower quality, like they produce lower quality than traditional DSLRs, which is is, is, is wrong. But, but two, I lost because of price. And this is something that you are gonna have to go through if you are a photographer of any kind who charges any sort of money, is that no matter the skill level of your photography, no matter the quality of your photography, there will always be people who don't. There's going to be some gap, right? There's always going to be some people where there's going to be a gap in the price. You're going to charge what you charge. And they are always gonna think it is incredibly expensive. And it doesn't even matter if, you know, if you've, if you've booked in, you know, my case a hundreds of weddings that you know, the couples were, we're more than happy to pay that price.

Raymond: 04:16 There will always be somebody who will think that it's too expensive. And what was really hard about this one is that we met over coffee and their wedding sounded wonderful. The couple was a blast to be around. I knew right away I was like, this is, this is a great couple. They're going to be so much fun to be around on their wedding day. Their wedding day is going to be a blast. They're making it like really personal for themselves. This is totally my kind of wedding. This is my kind of couple and I got this in the bag. We left super high note. They were super excited, really appreciated all the help that I gave. I gave recommendations on videographer and a DJ as well. They really appreciated it. And I had some information like in the form of blog posts that they said that they found extremely helpful for their wedding.

Raymond: 05:06 So I, I, I guess I just assumed that I, that I had it in the bag by the end of the by the end of our meeting and there was no talk of, of price being an issue. Right. there was no inclination of that that it was more than that they wanted to spend. I had sent them my pricing sheet way before we actually met, so they knew what my prices were and they still decided to you know, to meet, didn't seem like a problem. And what was hard here was that, you know, obviously after we met they sent an email saying, hey, you know, we, we really enjoyed spending time with you. But it came down to you and one other photographer and we ultimately decided to go with the other photographer just because of the price.

Raymond: 05:49 And that was a hard pill to swallow. It was a really, really hard pill to swallow mean first because I really enjoyed the, I thought that we had a great time together and I knew that their wedding was going to be great and I really, really wanted that wedding for those two reasons, right? Because I want to have fun at my job. Right. You know, you show up, you meet a couple and they're a blast to be around you. You naturally want that. You want that. And to, because the objection didn't come up until after the, the meeting after I had sent the emails after, after the meeting. And that's what's hard because you know, if, if I was there at the time, right, we could have talked about it, I could perhaps explain more why the the value is there.

Raymond: 06:35 I could explain I could even make some changes, right? So sometimes a couple want, you know, they don't really want the album, but they really want engagement photos. I'm more than happy to swap those two things out if that's, if that's what they want, you know, and nothing like that came up for me to for me to solve for them. So that, that was really hard. That was really hard to deal with. And that's something that you are gonna have to deal with. Right. as a photographer, like I said, who does charging Ma, who does charge money? And I had to stick to my guns though because, and it wasn't an ego thing. It wasn't like, oh, well, you know, you guys don't value photography, so screw off, you know, it was nothing like that. There was none of that.

Raymond: 07:16 But I had to stick to my guns, you know, I decided not to give them a discount, even though that's, that was my first inclination. It was like, oh, you know, w, you know, if I knock off a few hundred bucks, then I bet I could book this wedding. But I had to stick to my guns. And again, it wasn't about ego. It was, it was because I know, I know my price and I know that there are couples more than willing to pay for it. Couples who are happy to pay for it because they, I, I properly communicated the value and it fits for them. Right. And I know that that price is, is competitive and profitable for me. And by lowering my price, all that I'd be doing is just taking money out of my family's pocket. Right. And that is something that I'm just not willing to do.

Raymond: 08:10 So I had, I had a rough day. Like I, I threw myself like a, like an eight hour pity party essentially. And then I just got over it. I just had to get back to work and do what I do. So that was, that was tough. That was tough this week. And I just want you to know that if you know your pricing, if you know that it works, if you know that it's what you need to be profitable, you can stick to your guns. And luckily this episode could not have come at a better time to remind myself of that. Which you are going to hear in this episode. It's a, it, it's a lesson that that you're going to take away and that you're really going to appreciate. So, so today I am interviewing Alison and winter off who is a newborn photographer in Florida and we cover so much in this episode.

Raymond: 09:00 Like I said, even if you're not a newborn or maternity photographer, you are going to get a lot of great information out of this interview. And as always I cut a section of this podcast out just for premium members and it's, it's, it's information that is more geared towards those who are either trying to start a business or make money with their photography, right? So the beginning of photography podcast is free. You get all the great information about theory, you know, why these photographers are doing what they're doing. But premium members get to hear more of the business side of things. And today premium members are going to hear how to attract new newborn clients when the opportunity to photograph them is so short. That is, that is really important right there, right? You're going to learn how to start a newborn photography business.

Raymond: 09:50 You're going to learn how to know when is the right time to open up a studio. That is a big one that I still, you know, wonder about today. When do you know is the right time to, to open up a studio? If that's what you want to do, you're gonna learn how to keep a, your business. You're gonna learn how to keep business coming in even after you have opened up that studio so that you know, it doesn't dry up. And then you have to close down. And you're also gonna hear Allison's best tips for editing newborn skin in photos, which is something that I struggle with and I see a lot of new photographers struggling with as well. So if you want to become a premium member in here, all of those great tips in this whole interview and whole other interviews, head over to beginner photography, podcast.com and click the link to join the premium membership button. It's at the top and you can learn more. So with that, let's go ahead and get into today's interview with Alison. Winter off, today's guest is Alison winter off a Tampa, Florida based self-proclaimed baby whisper. She's a newborn maternity and family photographer who

Raymond: 10:55 Loves to photograph the newest and tiniest humans to help preserve the hectic time of life that having a child is today. I'm super excited to talk to her about getting started working with newborns. Alison, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Alison W: 11:09 Hi Raymond. Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited to be here. Is going to be a lot of fun.

Raymond: 11:14 Yeah, I'm really excited. Like like I had just told you right before we started recording this, there's a lot of people in the beginning photography podcast, Facebook group who I, myself, I'm a wedding photographer. So I feel like a lot of times I ask questions that are framed around wedding photography. And a lot of times I get feedback from the group saying, I'm like, Hey, this was a great interview, but maybe you could mention these things or maybe you could bring on some more of these people. And as a, as a newborn and maternity photographer, I am so excited to have you on today. You're, you're very accomplished. Just looking at your website, looking at your Instagram, looking at all of your reviews online. It's clear that you, that you know what it is that you're doing. But before we get into all the meat and the potatoes of this interview, I always love to start with a with the beginning look of my gas and I wanna know how you got started in photography in the first place.

Alison W: 12:05 So I have kind of a long story. I am kind of a different story. So I started I started my business in 2012. However, I started I was taking photographs. I used to make jewelry. And so the way that I learned photography was I was taking product photos of my jewelry. And so I was started on Etsy. Like Etsy was just this little tiny nothing and nobody knew about it. And then eventually I had children and I fell in love with photographing their faces and their reactions and just how just an amazing time of life that can be the way that I really started my business. So I transferred my skills over to photographing my children and really fell in love with that. But in 2011, my husband changed jobs and absolutely despised every moment of his new job.

Alison W: 13:02 And he would go to work before the children woke up and he would go to s come back before after they had already gone to bed. And it was like he just, it was just grueling and he was miserable. And so we just looked at each other one day and I was running a different business that we own and he, you know, he just said, I can't do this anymore. I have to do something different. And so I said, well, I've always wanted to start a photography business. And so he took over the other business and I started my portrait business, but I knew from the very beginning that it had to succeed because we had to feed our family. And so it was never a side business or a joke. It was always really serious, not serious, but you know, just, it was

Raymond: 13:50 With the intention of making an income. Yeah.

Alison W: 13:53 Yep. And so we, I went from zero to 60. It was like, you know, I, I knew the photography end, but I didn't know anything about, you know, on, on, you know, starting at a website and doing things online. And I just had to hit the ground running and figure it out. So that's how I got started. And pretty quickly, I knew that I wanted to specialize in newborn, in maternity. I just really loved that phase of life and young, really young families. That just speaks to me.

Raymond: 14:18 Was it because you had had a new children at that point that you felt compelled to photograph him?

Alison W: 14:24 Probably that probably is a big part of it. However, now my children are older and I still really love that young stage in life. I have an eight and a six year old, which isn't that old, but you know, they're out of that really cute, same silly thing. Yeah. but I still really love that newborn and maternity age. I haven't grown out of it yet. So maybe, maybe when my kids are seniors I'll get into senior photography or something.

Raymond: 14:51 Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Alison W: 14:51 Follow, follow the market for sure. Yeah. I want to know though, when you first got started started a shooting products for your, your jewelry based business. Was there anything I want to know what the hardest part about the photography side of it was for you to, to learn or understand? So I think back when I first got started, there wasn't so much online. So you couldn't just, you know, you can just go onto youtube and, you know, I, I can really remember the day when I figured out what the exposure triangle kind of meant and like I didn't have to shoot everything at 1.8. Like if I, you know, stopped down a little bit that, you know, to, to eight or three five, then I would actually get everything in focus, which was just totally new or I wouldn't have 50 out of focus images for like one really sharp image. So I think just not like having a lot of questions and not really having a good resource to find those answers out. And now it's like, there's just so much out there. It's amazing, you know, how to, how to get started like that. But yeah, I think just really understanding aperture and exposure and how those things connect with, you know, making a really sharp good image and how and when to use them, you know, selectively.

Raymond: 16:18 Right. Do you remember how it was that you came to to understand the exposure triangle? And you said that you, you know, there wasn't much internet searching going on using like a course or a book or anything in particular?

Alison W: 16:29 No, it was, I had my camera out. I can literally remember I had my dining room table and I was taking pictures of this ring and I, I had, I, it was like, I really loved the setup and I had done it a couple of times and every time just the images were not sharp or there were a lot of out-of-focus ones that I just wasn't getting. It was, you know, miss focusing. And so I just sat, I was like, okay, I've got to figure this out. So I just sat down at my table and I just would take a picture, write down my settings and then do that several times and then go take that card, go put it on my computer and look and see, okay, this doesn't work. This setting doesn't work. One eight isn't going to work. And you know, just then going back and trying the next settings until I really figured out and I just felt very comfortable. Okay, this is what I need to do to make a good in focus and sharp image. And so it was just like time over and over and over again. So it really, excuse me, it wasn't really a book or you know, anything in particular, it was just practice. Practice.

Raymond: 17:31 Yeah, it was practice. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I think that gets lost a lot of times. Honestly, when you talk to photographers like new photographers, there's this, there's this desire that it just like, Oh, if I watch this one course or read this one quote or something, like, I'll totally understand photography and a, it's, you know, I'm, I'm glad to know that I wasn't the only who struggled trying to, you know, pick up these things and and, and if anybody's listening you make, you're obviously not alone, you're obviously not alone.

Alison W: 17:56 And, you know, I still struggle. I've always been very relying on natural light. And the last two years I decided that I needed to be able to photograph in any conditions. And so I made it my goal to learn studio lights. And I started with a constant light, but when I moved to strobes, it was like, I thought, Oh yeah, I'm just going to guy, I've taken some classes, I'm just going to go out and take these absolutely gorgeous images. And then you're like, this is not so pretty. You know, I have to had to practice at this again. Yeah. It's, you know, it's a weird feeling, but you know, it's good. It's good to do that.

Raymond: 18:27 Yeah. And it's exciting. Something new is always exciting. That's why I always, I was envy that, that bet stage for beginners of like everything. Like everyday there's something new is that they get to learn and eventually, as you know, and like you, you start to get to this point to where it kinda just becomes all about repetition. But then when you find something new like studio strobes, it's like, Whoa, here's this passion again.

Alison W: 18:48 Yeah, absolutely. I remember when I when I started photographing people because that was so different, I found that forum clickin moms. Have you heard of that before? Yeah. So I would pick a topic that I really wanted to learn about and because when I was doing jewelry, I wasn't really editing. It was very simple, clean editing. I wasn't putting, you know, I think everyone starts with a lot of filters once they start, you know, a lot of actions and things. So I remember just picking one topic and just looking at every forum post I could find on that subject. And then just like spending the week learning about nothing but how to edit in Photoshop or, you know, and just really get familiar with it. So, yeah, I mean it is, it's a lot of fun I think to do that. I like, I like research. I like the hunt

Raymond: 19:40 That's really smart and systematic way about going to learn photography. That's, that's awesome. That's awesome. Switching gears now, I want to go back to Canada now where you are today, right? As a newborn photographer, I want, I, it always fascinates me to hear other photographers. I want to hear in your own words, what do you think the main goal of a newborn photographer is? [inaudible]

Alison W: 20:04 I think the main goal of a newborn photographer is to capture what that baby looks like when they are two weeks old or three weeks old or one week old. Exactly. Their facial expressions, their stretches, the way they hold their hands, the way that their skin looked like I and, and the way that their family reacts to their arrival. Cause it's different for everybody. Some people are natural and some people are really nervous and you know, and you can kind of tell just in, in meeting them. But I think a lot of newborn photographers get caught up in making the perfect newborn Embridge. I mean, I think a lot of photographers in general get caught up in making the perfect image. But I think especially with newborns and children that it's, it's more about making an image that they can look back in 30 years and be like, I remember when you yawned that way and you used to crinkle your nose up. You know? That's, that's my goal. And the way that I approach every newborn session is whatever that child does. If they keep their hands, you know, up there, you know, up in their face then, then that's okay with me because that's beautiful too. You know, it doesn't have to be perfect for it to be compelling and timeless, you know, and, and be an heirloom for people. So that's, that's the way I really approach it is, is natural.

Raymond: 21:35 I'm wondering because I have just like you, I've got two kids of my own and we have a, a two year old, our daughter's two and literally just like within this past month, I've, I've started seeing in her that she's no longer a baby. You know what I mean? And it's, it's, it's, it's, it's emotional. It's like, wow, man. Like I miss like when you did this one thing or, yeah. Or now that it's Christmas, like last year, even though she was one years old, like she would hum jingle bells. Yeah. And now that she's two, she's like full on singing it, you know, it's sad to think about or I guess not sad, but it's like, it's very nostalgic. How do you communicate the importance of those miss moments or missed not opportunities but like the, the how do you communicate the things will be missed and, and, and the importance of photography.

Alison W: 22:26 Yeah, so that's a good question because I think that not everyone gets that and they may not get it. Like you may not get it when it's happening, but you get it later. Just like the jingle bells, you know, humming jingle bells. I try and convey that to every person that contacts me that I'm going to photograph their baby the way that they are. Not in the vision that maybe another newborn photographer may have. My goal is to capture them, you know, and so I really try, I try and show that on my website. I try and talk about it on my website as well, that my goal is to capture those moments. Not, not just the beautiful moments, but the crying faces or the, you know, the peeling skin and those things that we're going to take a perfect image that's perfect for the baby.

Alison W: 23:23 Not Perfect, you know, necessarily technically. I'm not exactly a documentary photographer, but I'm kind of a mix between, you know, lifestyle, lifestyle and a little pose, but very dent, gentle. But I really try and be very clear and the, and, and to be honest, that means that there are some people that don't come to me because of that. And I'm actually okay that because the last thing I want is to do this session then I think is fantastic. And have the parents say, well, you didn't, you know, w what about, you know, Mar, it's not perfect. I wanted this pose or I wanted something, you know, and I don't want them to be unhappy with their images. So if that's something that they really want, then then they go, you know, they can go to somebody else and that's okay with me.

Raymond: 24:08 Yeah. Yeah. That's it. I think a lot of new photographers are going to get a lot out of that statement that you just made because there is this feeling in the beginning that you have to be everything to everybody. Yeah. And as, as you're proving right now, that just not the case. You know, you don't have to be the, the, I know I'm going to, is it an and and Getty

Alison W: 24:29 Yeah. And getting, yeah,

Raymond: 24:32 I obviously like what she creates is incredible. Yeah, absolutely. If that's what you love, right. You know, a lot of people just want maybe a photographer just in the home or something and if you specialize in something at a it a, it, it'll pay off, it will pay off. So now that we're kind of talking about clients and what clients want, did you find a I want to know how you went about your first paid client, right? Like how, how did, how did they find you? How did how did you book them? Were you nervous and how, how did it turn out?

Alison W: 25:07 Okay. So I can, I remember the first paid client. And so first I started just portfolio building. I'm from the town that I have my business in, so I have, there's a lot of family and friends that still live around here. So it was fairly easy for me to get started. I know for some people when they, you know, they maybe are in a different city where they know no one and I feel like that's a challenge in and of itself to get, get that start of it. So it was easy for me to get started portfolio building. But I remember the first client that found me from just Google search and I just remember thinking, oh my gosh, I've arrived. This is amazing. Because I mean you think you make a website and you, you take good photographs that they're just going to show up.

Alison W: 25:53 And that's not necessarily the case. And it's really discouraging, you know, because you think, okay, now that they found me, then they're going to book me and this is going to be great. But that doesn't always happen either. It's like it's a process. But so it was a family and they actually booked a maternity and a newborn session and I gave them a fantastic deal. So, I mean, I was in the beginning. Yeah. But I remember I, I did their maternity session at a place that was really far from my house and like I didn't charge extra for it and then they wanted their newborn session in their home and it was a really dark space and it was a dark rainy day and they wanted to do it when the husband was home from work. So it was late in the afternoon. And I just remember making all these concessions and I just remember thinking, okay, this is a lesson learned.

Alison W: 26:46 It's time. You know, I'm the expert. It's my job to tell them what I can and can't do. And you know, am I going to make beautiful images at five o'clock on a Wednesday when it's a cloudy day and we're getting start, you know, we have to go outside to get enough light. You know, it's like I kind of I learned that I need to be a little more assertive, but so of course everyone makes mistakes and it's, that's awesome cause that means you're learning. Cause then then I was like, okay, I'm not gonna do that again. And then yeah, every session after that I kind of directed things a little bit better. But yeah, that Google search and then they contacted me and I just thought, wow, this is it. I've made it. And then you think the clients are just going to come in and you know, it takes a, it takes a long time. I think it was probably two and a half years before I finally thought, whoo, okay, I'm, I'm comfortable. And that was me doing this full time. You know, this is not for someone, you know, someone who is doing another job or you know, trying to do other things and it's not going to be, you know, it could take any longer than that.

Raymond: 27:48 Yeah. Yeah. I'm interested. How did the clients feel about their session? Like when you deliver the photos,

Alison W: 27:56 They were happy with them. Because like I said, I, I really bent over backwards to make them, you know, I did the best that I could and those situations, and I can just remember feeling that like cold sweat you get when you know you're not. The outdoor session was fine, but the indoor one and they, like I said, they were very happy with it. But it was, I knew that I could do better if I had directed things a little bit better. So

Raymond: 28:24 Now if they weren't happy with it, if they came back and said like, you know what, actually these aren't what we were expecting. Yeah. What, what would you do? What would you have done in that case?

Alison W: 28:34 I would retake the pictures. You know, I think it's my responsibility. You know, they don't know that they were my first clients. Of course, I would never have told them that. And it's my responsibility to make sure that they're in the environment that is made for a successful session. So if I didn't make success successful, excuse me images, then that, that's my responsibility to make it happen. So even if it was not my fault, you know, in terms of like the light was bad or the location wasn't great, it was my responsibility to have directed to make sure that we were in the right location at the right time of day. So if they had come back to me, I would have said, okay, I will be happy to take those again, but we're going to do it on, on more of my terms, you know, and then, and then just make sure that we weren't doing another session again now if it was totally unreasonable.

Alison W: 29:33 You know, and I, I think everyone's had unreasonable clients in the past. I have refunded people you, it doesn't ha like maybe once every funded someone. But you know, you, you do what it takes to make someone happy and as much as you know, as much as you possibly can and, and there's clients that you're just not a fit with. Which is why I try and filter them out at the beginning so that we know ahead of time. There's lots of clients I haven't taken on because I just know it's not gonna work out well. But, but yeah, I would've, I would've taken them again or, or refunded them if they really wanted it, you know, and taking that as a lesson as well.

Raymond: 30:14 Right, right. Yeah. It's a very important lesson. Yes. Very hard lesson, very hard lesson. A lot of photographers, myself included, have, have been in that exact same situation. And I always love hearing from other photographers what they would do because I remember in the beginning, I honestly probably ego would've got in the way and I would've been like, what? You don't like these photos? Like these are beautiful. What do you like, do you not see the perfect like grain structure or something like that, you know? And then I would have taken it personally. But now obviously coming to the understanding that photography is, it's not a product, it's 100% of service. Yeah. So it doesn't matter if, if if, if the product isn't technically perfect or the service has to be perfect and giving them that second session is a, is a very small price to pay. So when you delivered that first session, I'm sure that at the time you were like, these photos rock, like these are great photos, but looking back like most of us, we probably look in kind of cringe. Right. So, so now looking back and seeing the work of, of others, what would you say is the sign of an amateur newborn photographer?

Alison W: 31:26 That's a good question. I would say that editing is a really, really big part of that. I think that you can take a good image. It may not be technically perfect, but you know, you can still take a good image, but if you edit it incorrectly or heavy handed plea then that is probably the most obvious sign of someone. And that's speaking from absolute experience where my images were very heavy handed in the beginning.

Raymond: 32:02 Oh, trust me, I got plenty of questions about editing later on. So I'm glad to hear that. That, that we're about to start. Yeah, on the right track for sure.

Speaker 6: 32:12 Hey, Raymond here, and have you ever noticed that once something is for photographers, it's instantly 10 times more expensive. A white sheet, $10 a white photography backdrop, $100 doesn't that make you mad? I mean, that's exactly the kind of Malarkey that I'm trying to get rid of with our podcast premium membership. Each month you're going to get an hour of additional podcast interview that is cut from the free version that you are listening to right now. And you will also get monthly photography tutorials guaranteed to take the guesswork out of growing your skills and improving your photography. Now how much is all of this great monthly photography content you ask? Well, sure, I could charge $1,000 a month. I could do that, but I'm not, I'm not even going to charge $800 a month or even $699 the price of a one day workshop. No, it is all available to you for just $10 but right. And if you sign up, you will also get some great downloads, like all of my light room presets, my wedding contract, that you can use a model at least that you can also use any way that you see fit. And my popular ebook beyond the photography basics, that's a $55 value right there. All for just $10. So to become a premium member, head over to beginner photography, podcast.com and click the link on the homepage today. Now let's get back to the rest of today's interview.

Raymond: 33:43 He'd be a lot of it when it comes to photography though is like, has there ever been anything that you, that you thought that like, oh, I have to have this, I absolutely have to have this, and then you got it and you never touched it again.

Alison W: 33:55 Yeah. I do that with I do that a lot with gear and I'm sure that a lot of photographers do that. I think when I first started like whenever I first start something, I have this habit of getting really excited about it and buying all the gear and I like to buy all the best gear because I mean, if it's going to break in a month, what's the point of, you know, that's wasted money. So I might as well buy something that's pretty good. So I mean not maybe not the best year, but so I would say studio lights. I think it's really important to have good studio lights, however, you don't need four studio lights when you've never done it before, which is exactly what I went out and dead and bought four really expensive and then all of the modifiers before you even know.

Alison W: 34:41 And right now I used to, you know, and it's like, it wasn't a waste of money, but it was definitely, I could have saved that money a little bit and waited till I need it. I think like, it's important. And one thing I am trying to do is as I grow is to grow out of something, you know? So by one light, learn how to use it, learn what you can do with it before you go out and buy the next one or the next one. You know? And then that way you kind of know, it's the same thing with cameras. You don't need to buy the best camera. I just learned the one you have until you know, until you're, until you know everything, until you know the limitations of that camera and then you buy the next one because otherwise, you know you're not, it's not a waste of money, but it's kind of is if you don't, if you don't know what you're doing. But yeah. But yeah, lots of, lots of stuff. I do that at probably, you know, little things all the time.

Raymond: 35:37 Yeah, well it's easy with a little things. It's easy with little things. And

Alison W: 35:41 I would say one here, sorry, go ahead.

Raymond: 35:44 No, no, no, go ahead.

Alison W: 35:45 One thing is I always, I buy, I don't buy a lot of actions, but I would say two times a year, two or three times a year I'll buy actions and I always use them and I think, oh, this is nice. And then I immediately go back to what I was doing before. Like my own style. Yeah. So I think once you have something that you love and speaks to you, I, it's, it's OK to, you know, I guess buy those things, but with the idea that, you know, don't, don't, not that actions are bad. I think actions are great for helping you figure out your style and, but if you, but you don't need to buy every action, it's not gonna make you a better photographer. It's not gonna make you a better editor, you know, you only do so much. So, you know, I would say that's probably the one thing that I've done the most of, where every time I buy it, I try it on three pictures and I'm like, what am I doing this again?

Raymond: 36:40 That's hilarious. That's definitely going to be one of the memorable quotes from this episode for sure, is that the actions aren't going to change your photography. And so I, I think I want to know like talking there about gear, we talked about the gear that we don't need. Yeah. Now I want to know if you had to do how much gear do you actually need to, to get started photographing newborns? And obviously I know that safety here is an important issue. Is there anything also that's not photography related that that you would suggest investing in?

Alison W: 37:15 Yeah. so I would say that in the beginning, a good in person newborn workshop is kind of invaluable, even if it's not. Like I remember when I first started, I took a newborn class from a newer photographer who was very established, very well established and beautiful work, absolutely gorgeous work. But I knew from the beginning, I knew when I booked the workshop that her style was not what I wanted to do, what did not speak to me. But I wanted to learn the finer points of working with babies. How she sued them. You know, those kinds of things that it's hard. You don't, you certainly don't want to make a mistake on a newborn that comes to you. You want to be pretty, pretty comfortable around them to start with. So that was really important to kind of, I think like one good in person workshop and, and I say in person, cause I know a lot of them are online now and that's fine.

Alison W: 38:17 But I think that there's something to be said for just seeing somebody in person and really, you know, getting around a baby that, you know, they don't always sleep right away. They don't always settle down. Some of them, you know, start all really easily and, and figuring out how to work with those little issues so you don't freak out the first time it happens to you is really, really important. I, I don't think you need much gear. I pretty much shoot my entire newborn sessions with just, I have a Nikon d eight 50, which is which I love that camera, but you don't need, I mean there's lots that it does that I don't need for a newborn session. I would say a prime lens is really nice. I personally love, I have a sigma 35 millimeter one of the art series that I have used since I started that I still use at every single newborn session.

Alison W: 39:11 And if I want to get, you know, it allows you to focus really close. So like I, it doesn't take macro images. I do use a macro lens, but you, before I had one, I could get up really close on baby and it would almost simulate a macro lens on it as well. So I didn't have to buy, you know, a whole bunch of lenses and I just sort of bought them as I could afford them. But yeah, I would say a you know a prime lens or you know, if you're, if you're a zoom person, that's okay. I would say the 24 70 is probably a good lens. I've personally never shot newborns with it, but I, I know that some newborn photographers do. And it's nice to have, you know, the versatility of zoom in and zoom out, kind of.

Raymond: 39:51 Yeah. What do you think about like like lighting. Do you think that a newborn photographers need to go all in a with flash work or is natural light more than enough?

Alison W: 40:00 Yeah, I think natural light is more than enough, especially when you're just working with one baby on a bean bag. You don't need, you know, you're not stopping down to three, five and you know, so you could be at two, eight or you know, even one eight if you, if you liked that look, so it's okay to not have a ton of light. Does that make sense? Like, yeah. You don't, you know, you're not lighting 10 people in a group and you need, you know, you need to have everyone in focus. You just need the eyes and focus on a, on a baby. And so, yeah, I think a window, but I would say that you want to make sure the light is filtered so you don't want a window that has direct light. You want a window that has nice soft light.

Alison W: 40:42 So I would avoid I would avoid west-facing if you're shooting in the afternoon because you have that sun coming in and east facing in the morning. So if you really, the best light is always on the north in the south. And yeah, a little bit of, I use like a sheer fabric and if I was going to someone's home, I would just use a painter's tape and tape it up around the window or even clip it if they had if they had like a, a curtain, you know, then I could clip it down. Yeah. And that would allow me to get enough light. Excuse me, filter the light enough. You don't want really harsh shadows. I mean, excuse me, harsh lights on baby's face. You do want some shadowing. So generally I'm placing baby like parallel to the window. But yeah, I don't think you need a lot. I personally don't use strobes on newborns. I've kind of thought about it cause I feel like the clean, the light is very clean and it's somewhat easier to control. But I don't know that I love flashing with a newborn yet. I haven't quite gotten that at lots of people do it. I just haven't gotten comfortable with that yet, so.

Raymond: 41:52 Right. Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. And we've talked about your, your your your skill, right? Everything that you've learned over the years. If you had to start over again today, right? Like today, your husband's like, Hey, you know what? I hate this job. I don't want to do it anymore. And you said, I want to start a photography business. W is there something that you would do differently today to get to where you are? Faster?

Alison W: 42:26 I would say that

Alison W: 42:33 If you knew, if you know who you are and what you want to not fuss around with doing any other kind of photography I think it's okay to like, you know, I mean every, you want to test things a little bit, but you know, I think I was pretty good at this, but I think I could have done better at just, you know, I'm only gonna do newborns and maternity and, and young families and don't, don't mess around with the extended families or the, you know, the reunions or the, I've never shot a wedding and I never, I never will that, that takes a very special kind of person and I am not that kind of person. I don't handle stress well.

Raymond: 43:12 Stress this cake everyday you show up this case. What's special about that?

Alison W: 43:17 That yeah, cake would be nice, but yeah, I'm not good at that. [inaudible] I wasn't even good at my own wedding when I, when I had it, let alone follow geographic. That's hilarious.

Raymond: 43:31 So figure out what it is that you love and then just don't [inaudible]

Alison W: 43:34 Yeah. Don't fuss around with anything else because the sooner that you make a niche for yourself, the sooner you're going to attract the kind of clients that you want. And if you're not showing people that niche or you're showing things that you don't love, then it's going to take longer to get to that point. So of course, sooner you can decide what you want. And it's not to say it can't change, it's just that, you know, you have to, you need to know what you want. So,

Raymond: 43:59 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Is there any like rules or information that you hear being taught to a new photographers that you think is just like bad information?

Alison W: 44:14 I would say that I have seen some things about whether you're all inclusive or if you sell prints and products afterwards, that sometimes it makes me cringe a bit. I think that as long as you're a sustainable business, I don't care if you're, you know, as long as you're pricing yourself so that you don't go out of business in a year, that I don't care what you do. You know, that I think that sometimes it bothers me the way that I personally m a session fee and then they purchase products and their digital files and whatever afterwards. And I love that I would, I don't want to be all inclusive, but I think sometimes the way that those two groups fight, it's not necessarily something that they're teaching wrong, but the people that believe you should only sell products believe that the people that aren't selling products are the worst and the people that aren't selling products. And then the people that are selling products are the worst. And it's just like, as long as you have a sustainable business, like I'm okay, you know, you know, just price yourself so that you can stay in business and that's all that matters. So I would say that that's like the one thing that maybe bothers me is that there's such conflict between the two and everyone thinks that they're the right one. So [inaudible]

Raymond: 45:37 That's great. That's that, that, that's great advice. And obviously, I mean that's why there's a, what are they say? That's why there's Ford Dodge and Chevy. Like it doesn't, yeah, you can make your own decision if you want to. I love it. Well, I was in, is, is there anything that I didn't ask you about today that you want to make sure that the just the listener knows before we wrap this up?

Alison W: 45:58 I think just maybe one thing I'm not, that you didn't ask me, but that I just would love to say is that there still times when I'm nervous and stressed and like in a session, but you'll never know it. And I think that it's it's, it's as a beginning photographer, I wish that I had known that everyone, every photographer goes through moments where they don't know what they're going to do and they are not sure how to proceed. And they're just flying by the seat of their pants. Like there's no photographer out there that does not have a moment where they're like, oh crap,

Raymond: 46:37 I don't know what to do.

Alison W: 46:39 Yeah. And I think as when I was beginning, you know, I didn't realize that even those best photographers, you know, they, that they're, that they're flying by the seat of their pants a little bit too. So there's, you know, you just figure it out. I think that the only way to figure it out as to, you know, to just go with it, you know? Yeah. So anyway I feel like that's something that I just wish I had realized sooner that that is never, you're never going to be completely comfortable. [inaudible]

Raymond: 47:10 I still show up before. Yeah, no, you're, you're 100% right. I still show up before every single wedding and I always show up early and I will just sit there in my car for like 10 minutes and I just have the worst butterflies. Well, what if, what if there is like no windows inside? What if there's no, this, what is it? What if this goes wrong, what if the, you know, the, the, the

Raymond: 47:30 Mother of the bride is like not a nice person and I just always put myself through these, you know, stupid exercises that th that mean nothing and you know, as, as I'm sure you can attest to, as time goes on, it gets less and less, but there's still, there's still something there. And I want to thank you for sharing that. That's, that's going to be a really powerful moment for a lot of listeners today to pick up on that. Before I let you go, Alison, can you please tell the listeners where they can find you online?

Alison W: 48:01 Okay. well I am Alison winter off on Instagram and my last name has double ours. It's Winter Ra. And I am on Facebook but I'm not too active on it. So really if you wanted to find me Instagram's a great place or my website, which is Alison winter off.com.

Raymond: 48:21 Perfect. Alison, again, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I had a blast talking to you and I'm excited to, to keep up with you. And all of you new adventures. And hopefully a tornado doesn't take you away today.

Alison W: 48:32 So far, so good. Thank you so much. I had a great time.

Raymond: 48:36 Hey, do me a do me a favor right now. If you're listening swipe up in whatever podcast player you're listening to or just click on the show notes and then there will be a link for you to go to the website to see the show notes and just check out some examples of Allison's newborn and maternity work. It's, it's beautiful and it's it's something that I think, you know, you could look at and, and, and really appreciate, you can see that it's timeless. You know, it's not something that is going to fall out of style in the future. It's something that it's, it's photography that I know is going to stand the test of time and she just is a really good example of that. And when it comes to newborn photography, that can be hard, you know? So swipe up, click the link, head over to the show notes and you can see some examples of Allison's work.

Raymond: 49:26 Alison, if you're listening right now, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, especially in the middle of, you know, a potential hurricane that is just insane to me. And your dedication is, is there. And again, thank you so much for coming on and sharing everything that you did. I really enjoyed our chat and I know that the listeners did as well. So right now I just want to take a quick second to read a, a iTunes review this week. Itunes reviews are something that really helped the podcast and I, I truly appreciate them. So this week's iTunes review comes from Monte two, four, three, one and Monte says, since I was in high school, I wanted to be a photographer, but everyone around me told me that I needed a real job. So for the past 40 years, I have been doing something that I have not enjoyed.

Raymond: 50:16 After watching many hours of your podcast in the last few days, I'm assuming on Youtube, I have decided to get into photography one way or the other. Thanks for the great podcast, Monte. Wow. I can tell you right now that that review is going to resonate with a lot of people because I was there, you know, I heard plenty of people telling me that either cinematography and photography was, you know, not a real job and that I should do something that was more quote unquote stable. And I'm so glad that that, you know, you put in that time and you realize that it was not what you wanted, it was not making you happy and now you are pursuing something that is making you happy through photography. And I am like elated that this podcast is helping you. I don't know if it helped you realize that, but that it's helping you that is helping push you in the direction that you want to go, that is going to make you happy.

Raymond: 51:13 So again, Monte, thank you so much for that five star review that that really does mean a whole lot to me. And if you're listening, you know, the, the price of this podcast is absolutely free. You know, if you're listening on iTunes right now, you listen to this absolutely free. And I'm so grateful for each and every review that we get here on the podcast. And if you haven't left a review, I just want to ask if you would consider it again, it really helps out the podcast and that's it. That's all that I can say. So thank you so much for everybody who does leave a review in iTunes or whatever podcast player you're listening to. So that is it for this week. Join me again next week when we tackle the the ever changing world of SEO and, and, and blogging and specifically why blogging. It doesn't have to be so hard and the mistakes that a lot of new photographers make when it comes to blogging. So until then, get out there, keep shooting, stay safe, focus on yourself and that's it. All right, I'll see you next time.

Intro: 52:12 I love you all. If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.