by Kay Eskridge
Texas School Instructor
If you have a passion for, or are thinking about, offering Maternity Sessions to your photography business, you have to remember the #1 most important thing . . . it’s all about “her.” Her comfort, her desires, and her connections. If you can tap into all three of these, you are well on your way to establishing a prosperous Maternity division to your business. Here are three easy steps to learn, follow, and get you started.
Let’s talk first about her comfort and the elements needed to make your studio (home office or retail location) a place where she feels she is being taken care of. The following are steps you need to consider:
Discuss her clothing comfort level in advance (fully, partially clothed or nude figure study) via a pre-portrait consultation. My preference is to do this in person so she has an opportunity to come to the studio before the session, eliminating anxiety the day of the session and stress from not being able to find our location.
l Have a robe available for her discretion (thick and warm for winter / satin and light for summer).
l Set air conditioning in advance of the session to a cool temperature and/or provide a room fan (she’s a human incubator and will always be warmer than normal body temperature).
l Stock clothing items ‘just in case’ she’s forgotten to bring something like tube tops, robes, satin/silk material for draping, loose fitting clothing like bathing suit cover ups, etc.
l Have plenty of fresh, cool water available.
l Have snacks to nibble on to settle an upset stomach or if her blood sugar drops.
l Have skin-sensitive or hypo-allergenic body lotion on hand.
l Be aware of her constantly changing and highly charged hormone levels (she’s going to feel and complain about being FAT so be sensitive to that and give her plenty of reassurance).
l Have powder to tone down a shiny face (mineral-based and in a few color options).
l Don’t spray room deodorizer or burn candles prior to the session as their sense of smell is extremely sensitive (if home based, do not cook food that has a lingering odor from the night before).
l Discuss posing and lighting techniques that will be most flattering to her growing figure prior to the session to reassure her that you have her utmost personal body challenges in mind.
Next, let’s talk about her desires and what items you can offer to help your sales averages grow. The most obvious would be images as “art” for the nursery. Black and white images are always a huge hit as well as a “Watch Me Grow” type option which would carry you into the Newborn and First Year baby plan and include images from the maternity session, newborn session and the first year of the baby’s life. It is a “growing” type of plan, so images would be selected after each session occurs guaranteeing more sessions than just the maternity. These images can be designed as a collage or multiple album options. Or, you could create a series of maternity images showing how the baby is growing, like a doctor would in terms of trimesters. The images could be designed in one collage or multiple framed images.
You could also sell her a Beautiful Belly Album that would include images from just the Maternity Session. As a follow up, you could offer a second book from the Newborn Session as well as sub sequential albums from later sessions – creating a library of the baby’s life. Now you have an opportunity to make them “Clients for Life” by introducing them to the many photographic opportunities you offer such as: My First Year, Birthdays Rock, When I Was One, Two, Three . . . , A Day in the Life, or whatever you call the specialty options you provide.
Creative and unique Birth Announcements are also an option for you as the images you’ve captured now become a work of art the family would want to share with loved ones and friends. We use White House Custom Colour for their press printed products and LOVE the options provided for options of style and shape. The bottom line is that you have to continue the relationship you’re forming with them by giving them reasons to spend their money with YOU!
The third tier of this plan is to tap into their connections and how you can reach other expectant mothers. You’ve made her happy and she’s hooked, so now it’s time to ask her to refer you. Many times we fail to do something as simple as this. ASK her for her referrals! Who is her ob-gyn, her pediatrician, her fertility specialist? Where did she shop for her maternity clothes? Where did she register for her baby shower? Do you see where this is going? Tap into the places pregnant women frequent and that is where you want to spend your time and focus with advertising dollars to make it pay off.
Ask for the name of the owner or manager of the stores she shares with you and then use a Letter of Introduction with her name on it so you have a Verified Connection method instead of a cold call. Follow up with a phone call to arrange a person-to-person meeting and then show them how this relationship will benefit both businesses. Talk to them about Partnership Marketing cards you can share as well as the option of displaying your work in their business. A Partnership Marketing Campaign is a win-win in today’s economy when everyone’s bottom line advertising dollar has become smaller and more guarded.
The final step is to ask your happy clients for referrals to their friends group. Using Facebook, Twitter and Blogs, you can post images that your happy moms will be able to brag about and send their friends directly to you. They are proud of the blessed life they are now experiencing and if you can give them a photographic reason to share, you’re setting yourself up for a gold mine of other expectant mothers.
The three steps are easy to remember: Her comfort, her desires, and her connections. Hit all three and you’ve reached the Tri-fecta of Maternity Photography and if you can implement them effectively, you are sure to move this portion of your photography business into a successful direction.
Kay Eskridge, CPP, M. Photog.,Cr., of Phoenix, Arizona, has earned a sterling reputation for high-quality lifestyle portraiture. Her focus on relationships, creative approach to portraiture, unique perspective on customer service, and a clear vision about business has provided her with much success doing what she loves. Kay is a member and Past President of the Arizona Professional Photographers Association and will be teaching a class at Texas School 2019.