I’ve been a professional child and family portrait photographer for six years now, five of those years doing in-person sales with an emphasis on product versus digital images. I’m a lower-volume “boutique” photographer, so I devote a lot of my time to meeting with clients, wardrobe and concept planning, and designing and ordering physical product.
I’m also the mother of twin 4-year-olds and an 8-year-old, so my days are spent juggling school pickups and drop-offs to still have time to make it to shoots and sales sessions. As a contributor to the stock agency Offset, I also try to photograph my children doing everyday activities during my downtime. Anything from hanging around the house doing art projects, to organized walks in the woods, to apple picking is fair game! Many stock artists shoot lifestyle for clients, but my professional images are more styled, posed and less “authentic” than my agency is looking for, so I’m pretty much only submitting images of my own children.
I have a studio that I share with another photographer, but at this time of year (Fall 2016), I’m mostly shooting on location outdoors because everyone wants fall foliage in their holiday cards.
Here’s What A Typical, Hectic Day Looks Like
6:55 a.m. Twins wake up and come cuddle in bed with me; it’s our morning ritual. My husband is traveling for work (as usual), so I’m solo parenting.
7:20 a.m. Send the girls to wake up their older brother and go downstairs to make breakfast in between checking emails and social media.
8:20 a.m. Put my son on the bus, put a show on for the twins, and take a shower and get myself ready for the day. Sometimes I can squeeze in a quick workout in my basement while listening to Entrepreneur podcasts on Stitcher. They always get me motivated to tackle my day!
9 a.m. The girls decide to play princess before school and look so cute I grab my camera. Originally, I had hoped they would be good for a stock submission, but realize now that they probably won’t take them because they’re in Disney “trade dress” even though there aren’t any visible logos. Not sure if the plush unicorn Sasha is playing with covers up the dress enough to make it a non-issue—maybe I’ll submit them and hope for the best.
9:45 a.m. Drop the twins off at preschool and head home to finally start my workday.
10 a.m. Answer client inquiries, including finalizing plans for a shoot that afternoon for a local store that will be selling high-end children’s clothing—my exact target market! I’ve offered to photograph the owners’ two daughters and their friend dressed in the designer clothes that she will be carrying in her shop so that she can put them up on the store walls. In return, she will give a voucher for a waved session fee with me to every person who books a party or purchases one of those dresses. Anyone who can spend $400 on a child’s dress is someone I want to work with, and likely they’re celebrating some milestone or event that needs to be photographed. These are also the exact style of images I want to do more of (girls dressed up like princesses!), as I’ve shot many images of my daughters that way, but so far they have been more for personal projects than clients.
11 a.m. Design album for client whose sales session was the previous night.
11:30 a.m. Email client a PDF of album for approval and upload gift print and wall art images to lab.
11:45 a.m. Post some images to Instagram from the Peter Pan-themed shoot I did of my kids in their Halloween costumes. I shot them in September before the weather turned cold, but decided to wait to post them closer to Halloween, which is coming up in a few days, so it’s now or never. Growing my Instagram following is a business goal I had set for myself this year, so I don’t want to miss the opportunity. I use a lot of strategic hashtags for some large Instagram accounts in hopes they will feature me. Two images in this series got featured, so I got a lot of nice feedback and a bunch of new followers and a few inquiries about mentoring.
12 p.m. Lunch and then a pit stop at Lowe’s to look for water-based polyurethane for our studio floors that we just repainted with white floor and porch paint. Our last two floor painting jobs only lasted about 6 minutes without scuffing, so we’re hoping a few coats of poly will do the trick!
1 p.m. Back to office to export high-res images to Dropbox to import into my proofing app for sales session scheduled at 8 p.m. Import images into app, and do some sample wall designs and pick out a song for the slideshow.
1:30 p.m. Skype audio call with the talented ladies from a new podcast called “Creatively Unscripted.” They have asked me to be their guest because both of them do all-inclusive digitals versus in-person sales. We talk about the rewards and challenges of both business models and how I got started down the path of in-person sales and creating in-person sales products I sell to other photographers. Photography can be such a lonely profession, so it’s always fun to connect with other photographers and talk shop.
2:30 p.m. Editing! I’m a few sessions behind, and one of my clients is due to give birth next week, so I want to try to get the images ready for the meeting before then. I also put the final touches on a stock submission of my kids picking apples from the prior weekend and submit them. There was a callout for autumn-themed images a few weeks ago, and I don’t want to miss the window. Plus, frequent submissions put your images at the top of search results, so I try to submit something every week, even if it’s a small batch.
4 p.m. Search for an empty memory card, check battery life and load the car with props for shoot in the woods with the store owner and her daughters and friend’s daughter.
4:45 p.m. Incredible shoot. Enthusiastic models, gorgeous couture clothes in a fairytale setting thanks to an unseasonably warm October day. I can’t wait to pull these images off my card.
5:45 p.m. Head straight from shoot to pick up my twins from daycare and my son from his aftercare program to start the dinner/bed ritual, all the while obsessively reviewing that evening’s images on the back of my camera.
7 p.m. Chicken nuggets dinner. When my husband is away I don’t bother making real-people food.
8 p.m. Get kids ready for bed and say hi to my mom as I’m walking out the door to my sales session. She’s helping me out by sitting because my husband is traveling.
8:30 p.m. Meet with client at Panera for sales session because the studio floors aren’t dry yet. (Bad planning on our part to renovate during busy season, but horribly scuffed floors will prevent me from shooting studio sessions in November through December, so it had to be done.) I have all my product samples in a bag and my iPad for proofing the images and doing wall designs. Not as ideal as meeting at my studio and plugging my iPad into a large TV for viewing, but the fireplace and unlimited coffee and pastries are a plus.
9:30 p.m. Client loved all the images and placed a nice order. I pack my samples and iPad up and hug her goodbye. I love getting to know my clients and capturing these special moments for them!
9:45 p.m. Home again. I check social media and upload the images the client ordered to my Facebook business page and email the client the link so she and her husband can tag themselves. I don’t post sneak peeks prior to the sales session, so this generates a lot of new eyeballs on my Facebook page.
10:15 p.m. Unwind with a glass of wine and TV on in the background while I pull images off my card from the day’s shoot. I do a preliminary cull in Photo Mechanic, then import my first-pass photos into Lightroom for further culling and edits. I want to start editing them immediately, but I have other client sessions that need to take priority, so I pick one favorite to work on and then finish editing another client whose sales session is coming up in two days.
11:30 p.m. Bed at last!
Ariana Falerni is an award-winning child and family portrait photographer based in Nyack, New York. Her images have appeared in numerous publications, including book covers, magazines, and in national ad campaigns and packaging for brands like Canon and Toys “R” Us. She’s also the creator of the Shoot & Sell and ProofShare apps for iPad, as well as the Photographer’s Wall Display Guides, which are all tools for photographers wishing to do in-person sales.