Let’s dive in an Instagram Live Q&A – Ask Me Anything I did all about birth photography. If you have questions about birth photography–how to get started, how to fill your Model Call, how to become a confident birth photographer–we’re answering questions in this Instagram Live. And what’s really cool is you have an opportunity to hop on live with me any Tuesday at 3 PM CST, whether you want to come on video live or ask your questions there in the chat, it’s a really good opportunity for us to connect and I would love to see you there.
Let’s go ahead and dive into this episode!
Hey everybody. My name is Tavia. I am a birth and newborn photographer in Oklahoma City. And here at The Beauty in Birth, I train birth photographers to get certified and specialize in birth photography, so that they can go full-time doing something they love.
I am going live every Tuesday in April at 3 PM CST for about 30 minutes to answer any and all questions about birth photography. So I have some questions that have already been submitted. But I think we should have time to get to live questions as well.
Let’s go ahead and jump in!
Scheduling Non-Birth Sessions while On-Call Time
Q: I’m only able to do a couple of births a year because of my current family life season. Is there a best way to schedule other things like family sessions during on-call time?
A: Yes, absolutely!
- Address it in your contract and let your clients know!
Scheduling other things when you are on-call, it’s really important that you are communicating not only with your birth clients, but also with your portrait clients. So we actually have a line in our contract where we talk about this with our portrait clients that if I’m on-call and I have to reschedule their portrait session because I have to go to a birth, then they will be credited in some way. So we’ll give them a $50 gift certificate to the studio or we give them a free print or some things to compensate them for the inconvenience of having to reschedule their session.
Most of our portrait clients are also birth clients, and so they understand that’s just the way it goes. But some of our portrait-only clients, we just explain a little above and beyond what will happen if we happen to go to a birth while they’re having their portrait session or if we have to reschedule last minute because of that. So address it in your contract, address it when you’re chatting.
- Check your client’s labor history
Another thing to think about is your client’s labor history. So, if I’m looking at my calendar, let’s say in October, and I know I have a bunch of family sessions, but I also know that I have, let’s say, a mom due October 15th and I got a really detailed labor history from her—like I always do with all of our birth clients at the consultation. So I have a mom due on October 15th, but I know that she usually goes early, so I’m going to plan on her maybe having her baby like the 1st week in October, so I’m going to plan my family sessions in the 2nd half of October.
Is that fool proof? Of course not. She could have her baby late. Nothing is guaranteed in birth, right? But I will get that labor history just so that I understand maybe what’s likely to happen or is she planning an induction or does she see if she has scheduled C-section–those kinds of things? And then I will try to plan my portrait sessions around it if I can. Hopefully that helps, Kayla. If you’re here and you have any follow-up questions, let me know.
If you guys have not listened to my episode I just recorded with Lacey Barratt on the podcast, it is a must-listen. We’re talking about Clubhouse. But we’re also talking all about her business, how she became a birth photographer. She also retired her husband with birth photography, which I didn’t even know until recently. So that’s a really cool episode. If you have a dream to retire yourself or your spouse from a nine to five, especially with birth photography, Lacey and I were talking about that on the episodes. If you haven’t heard that episode yet, I highly, highly recommend it.
And if you just jumped in and you have a question, click that question mark or request to come on live, and I am happy to answer your question.
Recommended Material to Learn About Photography
Q: Do you have any recommended reading material for beginners to learn your camera, lighting, etc.?
A: So, of course I have to say we have a program called The Beauty in Birth Photography that walks you through everything–how to shoot in manual, all about lighting, using your flash, how to use available light in the birth, how to edit your photos, how to be a great storyteller, how to behave at the birth–we go into all of those basics in The Beauty in Birth Photography Course. So of course, I just have to throw that out there, but I’m still going to answer Alexandria’s question.
- Understanding Exposure
As far as reading material, there’s a book called Understanding Exposure that has been really popular ever since 2008, 2009 when I was first learning photography. So I would recommend checking out that book. If you’re looking for a book to teach you how to shoot in manual and how to understand the basics of photography, I know that sometimes your manual can be difficult to understand—meaning the actual manual that came with your book—but if you go into it with the understanding of like, “I’m going to try to learn my aperture, I’m going to try and learn shutter speed, and I’m going to try to learn ISO. I want to learn those basics about the Exposure Triangle,” and go into your manual with that intention, that will help you out a lot. Cause if you’re just reading your manual, it can be kind of overwhelming. It’s just like reading a manual to put a refrigerator together. It’s kind of a lot. But if you know that you’re going in with the intention of learning the Exposure Triangle that will give you some points.
- Enroll in Photography Courses like The Beauty in Birth Photography Course and join Coaching Calls to learn from other professional birth photographers
And also Alexandria, I know that you’re a student inside The Beauty in Birth Photography and what I want to say to everybody is how important it is to get feedback on your work. So we have coaching calls inside of that group where people can submit their photos and I will critique them. And we’ll just talk about like, “Hey, this looks a little cool to me. Do you know how to color correct your photos? And here’s how I do it. This looks like you missed focus a little bit. Do you know how to use your focal points so that you’re catching focus every time? If not, let’s talk about it.”
So it’s really important to get feedback and have like a mentor or a peer, somebody who’s further along than you that can help you digest everything and really learn how to use your camera and all those different things. It just fast tracks everything instead of you having user error, right? You can be like, “Okay, this one time this happened, how can I fix it?” Right? So, Alexandria, if you haven’t had a chance to hop in on one of those calls, I would love to help you.
Best Way to Target Your ICA
Q: What’s the best way to target my ideal client?
A: I love talking marketing, y’all! I love talking marketing.
- Know your Ideal Client
So the first thing to figure out when you’re trying to target your ideal client is who is your ideal client and more so than just like somebody who wants birth photography, right? Like really getting detailed and understanding who she is. Does anybody in the chat have a name for their ideal client? I’m just curious because we talked about this with Lindsay Janey on the podcast a while back and we also talked about it on Clubhouse. But I was saying that my ideal client’s name is Jennifer and I had like a really specific ideal client profile around her. And that something that I teach inside Marketing School For Birth Photographers is how to get really specific on your ideal client.
When you have a really, really clear picture of who your ideal client is, and not only her name, but also just things about her and about her life–when you have a really clear picture of who that person is, it’s so much easier to figure out how to find her because you know so much about her. When you know what she does for fun, where she hangs out on the weekend, and what her work life looks like–does she work? Is she a stay-at-home mom? All those kinds of things starts to help you figure out like, “Okay, well, where’s she going to find a birth photographer? Where is she searching for a birth photographer?” So Tabitha, if you haven’t done an exercise like that or you haven’t done one in a while, that’s something I definitely recommend as like a step one.
- Strategically position yourself in places your ICA is hanging out
The premise of Marketing School For Birth Photographers is literally–I was getting recognized in my local community as a birth photographer and I heard over and over, “Oh, you’re Tavia. I see you everywhere.” And I kept hearing that. I kept hearing, “I see you everywhere.” And I thought, “I’m not really everywhere,” but I realized that I was strategically where my ideal client was hanging out. And so it was when I realized, “Oh, okay. So, my ideal client could find me on Google. So I want my SEO and my website to be really good. My ideal client could find me on social media. So I want to make sure that I’m present on the social media platforms that my ideal client is already hanging out on.”
- Client Referrals
Client referrals is huge, getting your past clients to refer to you. People hang out with people that are similar to them. So if your past client hired you for birth photography, chances are, they’re hanging out with people who also want birth photography. So how are you intentionally getting those referrals from them?
- Vendor Networking
Vendor networking and working with midwives, doulas, chiropractors, pre-natal massage therapists, 3d, 4d ultrasound technicians–all of these people that could potentially be serving your ideal client, how can you build connections with them?
And so it was when people kept saying, “Oh, I see you everywhere” that I was like, “Oh, I’m just actually…these really strategic places that my ideal client is already hanging out, so it seems like I’m everywhere.” So Tabitha, hopefully that gives you like a good jumping off point and sort of ideas and places to start when it comes to finding your ideal client, because she’s out there, she is out there. You just have to make sure that you’re speaking to her and that you’re showing her value in the way that she receives it.
So I know a lot of times it’s like, “Okay, well, how do I figure out my ideal client profile if I’ve never worked with my ideal client or I don’t even have any past clients,” right? There is a little guessing, like you do kind of have to make stuff up. And a lot of times what happens is she’s kind of like you. And so then it becomes even easier to figure out where to find her, because if she’s similar to you, then you know you’re going to be able to find her, right? Does that make sense? Hopefully that helps, Tabitha.
Educate Potential and Existing Clients about Birth Photography
Q: How do you address a mom that says she isn’t comfortable in front of a camera and wants a calm birthing atmosphere. Therefore, doesn’t want a photographer.
A: That is a great question, Denise. So that tells me that she thinks that having a birth photographer is going to be disruptive. So she might not really understand what birth photography is. So I think this is actually a really great opportunity for you to educate her on what birth photography actually is. Chances are, she’s not ever worked with a birth photographer before. She’s probably only worked with portrait photographers or maybe her wedding photographer. And she’s imagining those situations in birth.
Imagine a portrait photographer telling you where to stand and to smile and to lift your chin up and turn it this way and all this stuff–she might be thinking those things in a birth situation. So there’s a really cool opportunity here for you to educate this person and just let her know like, “Hey, you know, this is nothing like portrait photography. I am just documenting your birth as a fly on the wall. Most clients don’t even realize that I’m there. I try to stay unseen and unheard so that I’m just capturing things as they happen. And you might not even realize that they happen or remember that they happened, but I’m there to document them.” So I think just reassuring her that you’re a fly on the wall and that your intention is not to be disruptive or to pose her, you’re just capturing things as they happen, might ease her concerns a little bit.
And hey, you guys are always like, “What do I blog about?” That is a great thing to blog about to ease those concerns that somebody might have before they even reach out to hire you, right? So that would be a really, really good piece of content to go live on Instagram about, to go live on Facebook, to create a blog post, to send out an e-mail to your list, all about what birth photography is and what it isn’t and how it’s different than portraits.
And that was one of the things that I wanted to say, not everybody is right for birth photography. I do think that there are people who just–they’re not a good fit for birth photography and that’s totally fine, but once you educate her on what it actually isn’t, then she can make an educated decision based on knowing the facts to decide for herself, if it’s something she wants or something that she doesn’t. But I think that it’s really powerful for us to be able to educate people on that because they don’t get a second chance. They don’t get to do this again, right? And so it’s really, really helpful if we can step in and educate them on that. So hopefully that helps, Denise. I hope that gives you a starting point. I’m going to hop into the Q&A.
Next Steps After the Model Call
Q: How do you keep inquiries coming in after your model calls?
A: We teach a Model Call system inside The Beauty in Birth Photography and Marketing School For Birth Photographers that walks you through a launch system to get your first five birth photography clients. And so after that, Tabitha for you particularly, I would look at your discounted price, what you discounted. So let’s say you did 80% off. Then you could bump it up to 70% off or 60% off. And just let people know like, “Hey, the next three people who book are going to get x percent off because I’m still building my portfolio, I’m still building my experience,” right? And you don’t have to necessarily do the whole full Model Call system, but you can still have your prices discounted because you’re still learning.
If you feel comfortable going ahead and going full price, like maybe you’ve been a photographer before, you’re comfortable shooting a manual, you’ve got some stuff for your portfolio now, and you’re like, “I just want to go for it.” That’s when I would go back to what we were talking about earlier and targeting your ideal client and how can you be intentionally “everywhere,” right? How can you be “everywhere” to your ideal client with those things that we talked about earlier? So, Tabitha, if you have questions about that, tag me in the Facebook group, I’m happy to help. If you want to come on live and chat about it, I’m happy to do that as well, but hopefully that gives you a starting point.
Addressing Budget Concerns
Q: How do you deal with the “Let me chat with my husband” or “Oh, it’s out of my budget right now?”
A: So I never want to force anybody, right? I’m not gonna try to twist their arm or do any weird tactics that are going to force them into something that they’re uncomfortable doing. So I try to address this before we even get on the consultation, because that’s normally when you hear, “Let me chat with my husband” or “This is out of the budget right now,” right? And so what that tells me is they didn’t know what the pricing was before they hopped on a call with you.
So let me back up a little bit and share our inquiry process. So, basically what we do is once somebody inquires, we try to get them on a consultation as quickly as possible.
We have starting prices on our website, so they know kind of a ballpark idea of what our pricing is, so that we don’t get somebody that has a $400 budget, you know, on a call with us. But if they’re okay with those starting prices, then we hop on a call and we really drill in the value of birth photography. We tell them like, “Hey, we’re on-call for you. Just like your doula would be on-call for you. Your doctor’s on-call for you. We are on-call–and I say we because it’s me and Stephanie–we’re on call for you 24/7 until you have your baby. And so what is that worth to you to have a photographer who’s willing to drop everything that they’re doing and come to you and also know that day or night they’re going to be there for you?
If it’s the middle of the night, they’re there. If your labor is 30 hours, we’re going to be there. And so really explaining to them, everything that’s involved with being on-call, as well as whatever your packages include, and helping them think long-term about “what is this worth to me?” What is it worth to have an on-call photographer who’s willing to drop everything and come take these photos of a moment that I’m never going to get back and never be able to experience again and showing them the photos and showing them a slide show and sharing testimonials from clients that have worked with you that have also maybe struggled with the price question before and, you know, “Oh, Jennifer kind of had the same thing here.” Show her testimonial. “We did a payment plan so that she could afford it. And she’s so thankful that she did because…,” right? So hopefully that helps you, seedof.lovebirth. I don’t know if you’re still here, but hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to deal with the budget objection.
Q: I made a photo book of my birth for my midwife as a thank you. Now I want to deliver it to her. What should I say to get me on her radar as a birth photographer?
A: Great question, Amber. So obviously you already have a relationship with this midwife, right? So that relationship is there. It’s just a matter of letting her know that you’re taking birth clients and that you’re ready to start booking.
And even just being as forward as saying like, “Hey, do you have any clients,”–Amber, I’m not sure if you’re doing a Model Call right now or if you have in the past, but just number one, letting her know that you’re even booking clients right now. Because I know it hasn’t been too long since you had a baby. So just like, “Hey so-and-so, thank you so much for what you did for me at my birth. I made this for you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Just want to let you know that I am getting my feet wet in birth photography and I am looking to book June clients or July clients,” or, you know, give her a specific timeframe. “Do you know anyone who might be interested in birth photography,” and maybe give her some rack cards or something specific that you can hand to her for her to pass on to those clients.
And also make sure and let her know like, “Hey, I’m happy to pass along images that I get of you at these births for you to use on your website or social media,” to let her know like kind of what’s in it for her. So hopefully that gives you some good ideas, Amber. If you have any other questions, I know that you’re in The Beauty in Birth Photography Certification as well, tag me in there and I’m happy to help. Hopefully, that gave you a good starting point.
How to Stand Out Over Experienced Competitors
Q: Emilia said there are a lot of birth photographers in my area who are already established. How do I stand out?
A: Great question. Okay. So Amelia, my question to you would be, what is it about you that’s different? And I know that can be a tough question because it’s hard for us to see that in ourselves, but I would ask you, what is it about you that’s different because obviously experience is something that you don’t have necessarily up on your competition, right? So are you willing to do things that your competition isn’t willing to do? Are you willing to offer things that your competition isn’t willing to offer? Is your price something that your competition isn’t willing to offer? Who is your ideal client and how can you really specifically reach that person? And I mean, get really specific, like are they going to give birth at home? Are they a VBAC? Are they, epidural hospital? Are they repeat C-section? Can you get so specific with your ideal client and with your messaging and with your social media, that that person just doesn’t even care about the competition because they feel so connected to you. So I don’t think that all potential moms are necessarily looking for the most experienced. They’re looking for someone they feel comfortable with. They’re looking for someone they connect with and that they also happen to love their photos.
And so I would ask yourself some of those questions to figure out who is my ideal client and how can I specifically stand out to them even if I don’t have as much experience as my competition. How can I connect with them on a personal level, in a way that maybe my competition couldn’t? Because there is something unique about you, there is something special about you that’s going to make you stand out because not everybody’s looking for the most experienced. So hopefully that helps and offer something, Amelia.
Addressing Birth Photography Session Mistakes
Q: If you make a mistake with images or something goes wrong, how do you address that with clients?
A: Great question. I would love more specifics because this question is a little bit vague. If you make a mistake with images or something goes wrong with the client–number one, honesty. Integrity is one of my core values at my company. It’s so important for me and my team to be in integrity and do what we say and be honest. And I think that the worst thing that you could do is try to kind of fibbit a little bit and cover it up. So I think first of all, be honest.
I’m trying to think of an example of, um, when something like this happened to me…oh! I shared this with my students and I’m going to share it with you now. And it’s horribly embarrassing, so please don’t judge me, but maybe you can understand and have been there too. There was a time, I think it was probably 2016, 2017. I had a mom hired me, photographed her birth. Everything was lovely. Delivered her gallery. And she was like, “Oh my gosh, the photos are so beautiful. Thank you so much. When is the video going to be ready?”
And I was like, “Ohhh, my gosh.” And so I went and looked at her invoice really quickly. Sure enough. She had purchased a package that had video and photos and I straight up forgot to take the video. And I was mortified. I was so embarrassed and I quickly…like my mind, this is embarrassing to admit, but my mind automatically went to like, “How can I make this right without looking dumb? How can I make this right without looking like I messed up,” which is a hundred percent what happened? I just straight up messed up. And so I shifted my thoughts. I was like, “No. Integrity. Honesty is the most important thing, even when it’s hard, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it’s awkward.” And so I just had to go to her with my tail between my legs and say, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t shoot video at your birth.” And I gave her all the free things.
I gave her…her newborn session was free. I gave her a free album. I gave her all this stuff and just apologize profusely because that’s all I could do. There was nothing I could do in that moment to change anything. But I will tell you one of the most important things happened as a result of that, and that is I pay so close attention to what people order in their packages now. I keep very good records because I never want that to happen again.
So I think first off is honesty with the client, over-compensating as much as you possibly can, like acknowledging I just messed up. I made a mistake and there’s nothing I can do about it. We can’t go back. I’m so, so sorry. And then how can you make it up to them and then learning from that mistake so that you never do it again. So hopefully that offers something. And thanks for letting me be vulnerable and share like one of the worst mistakes my career, but hopefully you can learn from it so that you don’t have to make that mistake to learn from it.
One more question. I shot my first birth in all JPEG format, low res images, look okay digitally, but they likely won’t print well. Okay. I got you.
Honestly, cause that was the mistake that you made. Your mistake is not as bad as mine. I went like big time with the mistake. So shooting in JPEG doesn’t automatically mean they’re low res. Obviously they’re not going to be as huge as raw files, but if you shot in a small JPEG—because there’s different sizes, depending on your camera, you can shoot in—then that will affect the print quality. So I think everything I said still applies to this apologizing to the client. But honestly they probably won’t notice as much as you’ll notice as the photographer, right? But I still would acknowledge it. I still would make up for it however you can and figure out how can I learn from this, so I don’t make this mistake again. So hopefully that helps.
Questions to Ask During Consultation
Q: What kind of questions do you ask during a consult to ensure the client is doing most of the talking?
A: I think just really open-ended questions of just like “What made you want birth photography?” And you guys I’m a talker. I just actually had like six interviews on Monday for a new position in my company as an Executive Assistant. And I talk so much. I was like, “Oh my gosh, Tavia shut up.” Like, sometimes you just need to be quiet. It’s still a lesson that I’m learning. And so even when there’s like a pause, continuing to kind of wait and hear what else they have to say, because sometimes they say it and then there’s kind of some quiet and then they might think of something else.
And so what kind of questions do I ask…PS. The Instagram Live I did last week is on Instagram TV. You can go back and watch it. I talked to all about consultations and how we lay out our consultations to book 90% of the people we consult with. So definitely go back and listen to that.
But just to give you a recap: Hey, I’m trying to find a connection point with this person. I’m trying to first figure out, like, what do we have in common? Like I’ve had a VBAC, I’ve had a home birth, I have two boys and a girl–like all these details about myself and I’m trying to pull out stuff like that from them, so I can find a connection point.
So, “Tell me about yourself, how many babies do you have? What are you hoping for this birth?” Get them talking about themselves and their family and chances are, you’ll start to find those connection points. I always love to ask, “How did you hear about birth photography?” And “what made you want birth photography?” Cause when I can hear for my clients what made them want birth photography, it helps me in my marketing. So it’s a little bit sneaky, but it helps me understand their mind as well as how I can reach more people like them if I know what made them come to me for birth photography, if that makes sense.
Okay, awesome. So I’m going to be on Facebook Live tomorrow, chatting about gear and what I bring to a birth and what you should be bringing to a birth. And I’m going to be taking like gear specific questions. So make sure and come hang out tomorrow at 1 o’clock CST on Facebook and I will be back here next week on Instagram Live, same time to answer your questions. So thanks for being here. I hope this was helpful and I will see you guys hopefully tomorrow on Facebook and next week on Instagram Live. Talk soon, guys. Bye.