My guest for this episode is Tracie Maglosky an award-winning portrait photographer, photography educator and mentor.
Tracie specializes in newborn and maternity photography and is not only an incredibly talented photographer, but also a brilliant entrepreneur.
Tracie is an Olympus Visionary, Profoto Legend of Light & Miller’s Speaker Team Member. She is a studio owner in Cincinnati, Ohio with a primary focus on portraiture.
Her creative concepts and vibrant style have earned her features in major publications such as Professional Photographer, Shutterbug, Rangefinder, Digital Photo Pro, Click and many more.
Tracie’s teaching style is described as entertaining, inspirational and informative. She has been honored to be a platform speaker at Imaging USA, a Master Class instructor at PhotoPlus Expo, a speaker at WPPI, ClickCon & ClickAway.
Coaching With Tracie:
Maternity and Newborn Photography Masterclass with Tracie Maglosky
Maternity and Newborn photography is a growing market even though photographers have been taking maternity and newborn shots for ages. My guest today an internationally renowned photographer who is specializing in these two categories, and she is going to share some great photography tips and some amazing business tips that can be used by photographers in all genres — Stay tuned!
You’re listening to the TOGCHAT Photography Podcast, the only podcast dedicated to the HOWS and WHYS behind creating consistently great photographs. Here’s your host, Joe Edelman.
This is The TOGCHAT Photography Podcast. I am your host Joe Edelman and my mission is to help photographers like you to develop a better understanding of the HOWS and WHYS behind great photography.
This week my photography thought… I am a little frustrated at the amount of discussion that I keep hearing about shooting film. I shot film — I learned on film, and I am glad that I did — but I see no point in shooting film with all the amazing digital technology we have. I mean not only is film a four-letter word — but I find it to be a very negative experience.
Next up is a TOGCHAT exclusive interview.
Joe: [00:01:36I have something very special for you this week. A chat with my good friend Tracie Maglosky. Many of you know that Tracie is a fellow Olympus Visionary photographer and a Profoto Legend of light. Hopefully you caught my video interview with Tracie when TOGCHAT was a weekly YouTube livestream. I have a link to it in the show notes. Tracie, along with her husband Tony operates a studio in Cincinnati, Ohio with a primary focus on portraiture. Her creative concepts and vibrant style have earned her features in major publications such as Professional Photographer, Shutterbug, Rangefinder, Digital Photo Pro, Click and many more.
Tracie’s teaching style is described as entertaining, inspirational and informative. She has presented at events like Imaging USA, PhotoPlus Expo, WPPI, ClickCon & ClickAway.
I asked Tracie to sit down with me again and talk about a growing part of her business — two categories of photography that I have very little experience with — Maternity and Newborn photography.
Folks, make yourselves comfortable — grab a notepad, a cup of coffee or a soda, and get ready for a masterclass in the business and techniques behind successful Maternity and newborn photography. Not only does Tracie share some brilliant business concepts and ideas, but she is also going to give you some great tips for shooting Maternity and Newborn images.
So let’s dig in….
Tracie Maglosky, thank you so much for joining me on another episode of TOGCHAT. How are you?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:03:24]
I’m doing good, how are you?
I’m really good, thank you. I am so used to seeing you a few times a year at tradeshows and events, I feel like I haven’t seen you forever.
Tracie Maglosky: [00:03:33]
I agree. It’s terrible that we haven’t been in person, but I’m, I’m ready to start seeing the world.
Tracie, I wanted to bring you back and talk to you about a subject that I don’t know a lot about, and I haven’t shot much of in my career and that is maternity and newborn photography. Of course, I follow you on social media and you have been cranking out the maternity and newborn sessions, big time which means you’re busy which is always good. I thought it would be great to begin our conversation talking about the business side of maternity and newborn because I know you are doing some interesting things with the way you market yourself and structure your session.
Traditionally if you photograph a pregnant woman for her maternity pictures, the hope would be that you will get her to return for the newborns but when we talked last, you explained to me that your goal is to get them back several times in the first year. You’re not just selling them the maternity session. What’s your approach?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:04:33]
The first thing is that, um, maybe from a business perspective, something that a lot of photographers may not think of is that I don’t sell my photography first. I first sell a consultation because we need to have a conversation so that people know that there is an ability to go beyond just that maternity shoot or even just a newborn session.
And those are the two things that most people are looking for. But what they don’t know is that they need at least that first year, because we have so many milestones that happen in the first year of a baby’s life. So, our approach is that we sit down, and we do a consultation. Now we do them on zoom, which is amazing because it saves so much time and energy and just the scheduling is so much easier.
And when we get onto our zoom calls with our potential clients, I showed them everything. I would show them in person. But the idea is instead of just booking that maternity and newborn session, which tend to be pretty close together, right? Because we do a maternity session between 28 and 32 weeks. So about eight weeks later, they’re having a baby.
Those two sessions tend to be the most expensive sessions that we offer because they require the most time and energy. And product, right? Because we have maternity gowns. We have newborn props, we need assistance. So, there’s a lot there. The final sessions though of the year require a bit less in terms of investment of both time and the materials that it takes to get it done.
So, with a package, the budgeting is much easier to do over the course of time. And honestly, Joe, from a business perspective, it’s a great way to have recurring revenue. And not be trying to always scare up money every month. So, the way our packages work is that we allow people to pay over the course of the year, and they make monthly payments, which allows us to have a very stable financial outlook too.
So you’re selling an all-inclusive deal, and they can pay it off over time so it’s not a big hit on the wallet. That’s a great idea. I want to be sure listeners caught what you said about consultations. The way I understand it — you are building relationships first. Talk to me about the importance of that concept and how much it impacts your profit margins?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:06:50]
I love this question because I think that everyone is selling photography. Everyone is selling newborn maternity photography. I’m selling my expertise. I am selling my professionalism. I am selling my knowledge. I am selling the education of what photography should look like. So when a client comes to me, I’m selling them comfort and knowing that they’re making an incredible decision financially and just for the legacy of the images of their family.
So the consultation is the most important session that we do because it sets the expectation that they know that I’m professional. They understand the experience that they’re buying into. And I’ll just be honest, where I think a lot of photographers fall down and why people struggle so much to build an actual business in photography is because they haven’t established themselves as the professional.
And as a person, who’s going to educate the client. And so people are like, I just don’t get it. People don’t understand why photography costs money. And that’s because we’re not telling them why it does. And so a consultation gives me a chance to establish myself as an authority on photography and not just on photography, but on newborn safety, on editing, on understanding all the things that people are thinking before they come in for a session overcoming all the objections about why photography costs money.
And it gives me a chance to give them the experience straight from the beginning, right out the gate. Cause, you know, like everyone, everyone calls me and says, how much is it? It’s like the first question. I just need a little session. How much does it cost? I could easily just throw out a random price, but no one knows why it costs that much.
Even if it’s a hundred bucks, it doesn’t matter if we have an established a hundred bucks of value, which by the way, it’s not a. So it’s important to set up the expectation that people understand. I’m asking you for your time, so that I can show you exactly what I’m offering you. And I think that there’s not enough of this sales process, that a lot of photographers are doing mainly because they’re afraid to do it because they feel like they don’t know how, but the truth is and until we repeat something over and over, we don’t know how. And so it’s accepting the failure too. I swear, we were just having a meeting about this. Because I chair the local PPA group of photographers, and photographers were saying I just feel like no one wants to buy from me. And I’m like, how many people have you presented your product to?
None. Okay. Then how do you know no one wants to buy from you? Right? So it’s like establishing this average. So you can begin to trust yourself and figure out am I doing it right? Do I need to tweak something? Because I know. And you all know because you’ve heard it before, but the truth is that I know it for my business because I’ve experienced it.
It’s almost never priced. It’s almost never the cost. It’s always that there are more questions, or we haven’t overcome the objection of why it’s the price that it is. It’s not that the client’s saying it’s too much. They’re saying I don’t understand why it is that price. The big thing with the consultation is that I established myself as an authority in this area.
And as a trusted professional, as a guide through this photography experience for something that a lot of people don’t know about because it’s their first baby, usually that we’re working with first baby, first time pregnancy. And it’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, I’m still trying to establish how to be a mom. I don’t even know how to change a onesy, let alone how to go through this newborn photography process.
This is why I love speaking with you, there is so much to unpack in that answer. You mentioned the word Product and talked about establishing what your product is. Tell me how you would describe your product? Is your product a photo session? Is it prints to hang on the wall? What is your product?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:10:58]
My whole product is the way that I frame my product as an experience. I know people will think I’m crazy, but as soon as we sell inches on a piece of paper, ink, those kinds of things. We commoditize something that has nothing to do with those things, what people need, and what they’re looking for is memories.
And we make those memories as much in the experience of the photography, as we do save the memories of these moments in their lives. So for me, my ideal client, I know exactly who she is. I know where she shops. I know what she does. And I know that when she comes to me, Do you seen something on my website or on Instagram, and she wants to feel like a goddess.
And I know because that’s exactly what they all say to me. And so it’s funny because they say, feel like a goddess. And it’s interesting that they don’t say look like a goddess because you would think that from imagery, that’s what they would want, but really what they want is to feel and look like a goddess.
And I know that. The point is that we’re selling an experience of photography, not just paper, ink, and best those things ensure they get those things, but it’s an aside. Totally.
I think that is probably one of the best descriptions of both a product and the experience it delivers that I have ever heard. That is pure gold. I want to ask you about one more thing — in your description you mention the idea of establishing that you are the expert who will guide them through the process. I will admit that it is a pet peeve of mine that so many photographers now post blog articles and ads and social media posts telling people why they need to hire a professional photographer. Often times these are written rather aggressively and tell people what they should think and what they need and what they should find value in. In my experience — it is not wise to tell a customer how they should think or feel. I have a feeling that you go very much in a different direction while you establish yourself as an expert. Correct me if I am wrong.
Tracie Maglosky: [00:13:10]
No, I think you’re absolutely correct. I think that the value of photography doesn’t need to be explained once you are sitting in front of a person and you understand their fears and you cause like, listen, like I mentioned something in passing, but this is so true. I said, you know, most new moms are like worried about how to change a onesy.
I am dead serious about that. One of the greatest fears new moms have is that their babies are going to cry during a newborn. You know, that that is like a real fear. And it’s so interesting because of course they’re going to cry. And as soon as I normalize that and say, whenever we talk, or I send out information, it always says your baby’s going to cry during her newborn session.
And that’s totally normal. Your baby might poop on something that we’re using and that’s okay too. We’re used to it, making sure that we’re inside the mind of the person. Cause listen, like people don’t need to be berated about what they value in photography. Our job isn’t to tell them what they’re doing wrong.
Our job is to show them why it’s so valuable. Right? For example, I love to explain to people why I love doing newborn photography, because it is literally the passion that I have about it that I think displays the value of it. And the reason why I love doing newborn photography because I love to show a new mom or a new dad exactly what they look like. Loving this new baby. And they have no idea. They have no idea because it’s all brand new. So when they’re standing in front of me and I get to show them what they look like celebrating this new life and is the joy of my life. And listen, when I say that to people, to clients that I’m doing my consultations with, they get it, they understand the value.
It isn’t about the picture guys. And listen, if you think it’s about the picture, it’s okay. And you’ll be selling pictures for the rest of you. And you’ll make a little bit of money and that might make you happy, but if you make it about the person and you make it about what they get to experience in your present, you will make a lot of money and you will have a lot of fun doing it. But that’s the difference.
You just told me that you explain to potential clients that you are passionate about your work, but I have a hunch that when you’re explaining it to them, you don’t actually say the words “I’m passionate about it.” It sounds like you tell stories about the emotional connection you have to your subjects through your work. Am I right or wrong?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:15:40]
Absolutely. Like you don’t need to say it like exactly what you’re saying to Joe, like a new dad, a big burly dad with tattoos holding this little teeny baby and seeming like at any second, he’s just as delicate as the baby and could break because his heart is so stolen by this child.
That’s like, that’s pretty epic, you know, that’s, that’s amazing. And passion shows just by talking about what you, when you’re doing what you love. People know.
I think I should have probably left two hours for this interview — I have so many questions popping into my head. But going back to your packages, what are people walking away with in your packages and I’m assuming you also have opportunities to up-sell them as well?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:16:24]
My business model is, I give people everything that I think that they want. So the way our package works is that you get your newborn or your maternity session, and we have everything you need. We have the gowns, we have the crowns. We have literally everything that you need. My business model is a luxury experience. We, you don’t have to think about anything. I just want you to walk in and relax and let me do everything for most people that is like such a relief because they have no clue. So you get that maternity session, you get the newborn session again, we have everything that you need.
We don’t ask you to bring anything. The only thing we don’t provide is milk. And I will lovingly joke with my clients. If you’re bottle-fed, bring your own bottles. If you’re breastfed, bring your own boobs. Like, I literally say that to my clients because they get it. And for them where they are, that is a connection piece.
It’s like, I don’t care how you feed your baby. Just bring you, bring your own milk, but we provide diapers wipes. Then they get their sitter session when the baby begins to sit up because that’s another milestone. And then one, when baby’s pulling up on furnishings and starting to cruise, and then the final session is the one-year session.
But one thing that I also lovingly joke with my clients in their consultation is that every new mom thinks they’re going to do a baby book. And I tell them a story about me. I have three boys, I have three baby books and all of them are only partially filled. Because I just didn’t have time, I was being a mom.
So we do an album. So then you don’t have to think about, did I do my baby book? Everything is included in the album. All the sessions that we do together are included in a beautiful story of your baby’s first year. We also provide wall hanging. So in that package, you get three canvases. They fit perfectly above a sofa, because guess what we’ve realized over time that many of our clients had nothing on the walls. No pictures of their family. So we created something that’s easy. User-friendly you literally just put the nail in the wall and you hang the canvases up. And the final thing is the birth announcements that you would pay for at the hospital for pictures. That really aren’t that great, where you just had a baby and you don’t have your makeup done.
And you’re not like, you know, you’re not like really together. So we do the birth announcement as well. And then finally, our business bottle offers digital files on a USB drive for our clients to archive their images. So if they have them for years to come, so that’s how we do it. We provide everything so that you don’t have to think of anything.
Does the client also get printing rights to the digital files, or do they need to come back to you for prints?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:18:55]
They still need to come back to us for printing.
I’m curious, just as an aside and I promise I’ll never tell your clients, out of all of those various sessions in the first year or so of the child’s life, which is the most challenging for you?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:19:09]
The one that I don’t do anymore. And it’s a great question. Yeah, because you know many photographers have these packages, and one of them is the three months session. So there was this trend where everyone did maternity newborn three months, six months, nine months and 12 months.
So it was everything. The three-month session is really challenging because the baby has no neck control. And most of the time the parents don’t want to be in the images just yet. So it became a thing where it was like, I was always shooting overhead or trying to find creative ways to set the baby up.
And, you know, because I own my own business and I make decisions as a business owner. I just decided it just didn’t fit. It just wasn’t worth the time investment and the frustration. And I just took it out of the package and guess what? Nobody cared because nobody knew because I’m the professional and I’m the one that’s telling them what they want.
If there’s something you don’t like either outsource it or stop doing it, stop torturing yourself. Like you don’t have to do a three-month session. It’s not really a milestone. They’re not sitting up. They’re not doing anything. So I just took it out. Great question.
That is great advice. You make it sound so simple. I know you have just created a light bulb moment for a lot of people. It really is great advice for any aspect of photography and business.
We could say that you have built a well oiled machine in terms of your system, for introducing yourself to clients and bringing them on board, setting up a subscription plan and shooting the various sessions. How are you finding most of your clients? Are you at a point where it’s a lot of word of mouth? Are you still marketing aggressively on social media? Are there any other avenues that you’re using for marketing?
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Tracie Maglosky: [00:20:54]
Best piece of advice I could ever give is never stop marketing, never, ever, ever, because you will see an immediate decrease. Like here we get word of mouth clients, but we also have our images. That do gender reveals and, you know, ultrasonography and hospitals and, and OB GYN offices. And I advertise on social media. And the reason is that it’s not just about what you need today, but it’s about a pipeline, right? So we always want to have more people coming in through.
I can always tell people I don’t, I can’t take them or I can just make more money, but either way, you know, it’s like, I always tell people, you can’t take them. They’re never, ever, ever stop marketing yourself.
At this point, what percentage of your business is maternity and newborns?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:21:50]
Oh gosh. Um, 90%, maybe more.
So you’re not doing as many weddings as you used to?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:22:03]
I made a decision that it wasn’t what I enjoy. And where I find my greatest creativity and the greatest joy is doing maternity and newborn. I decided that’s where I was going. I just made the decision and did it.
Let’s talk about props. I know that you use a lot of props, which means that you have to deal with the overhead of buying props or making props? I am curious, let’s say you buy a new basket to put a bay in — how many times are you able to use it before you are feeling like “been there done that” or do you have other creative tricks to be able to make it look different or re-purpose it. How do you manage that?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:22:33]
Yeah, that is a really good question because here’s the thing, the best newborn pictures, in my opinion, don’t have any of that crap in them.
Tracie Maglosky: [00:22:41]
Yeah. So for me, the best newborn pictures are skin on skin with mom and dad. And here’s why I can put a baby in a basket. I can put a baby on the beanbag on a blanket and the baby’s still adorable. So cute. These poses are awesome. I love the picture, but until they are in their parent’s hands, we really have no idea how big or small they are.
And so those images where we’re seeing clearly displayed the size of this little sweetie, it’s you really can tell. So for me, the skin on skin images are the ones I prefer. And honestly, like even the beanbag shots, the Nakey baby shots are the best ones. I mean, They’re the messy ones, right? Babies have bathroom breaks whenever they please, if we don’t get to decide, but I would say for the prop thing, it’s like, look, here’s the thing.
If you’re a newborn photographer, you all, everything you see in every store you think, can I fit a baby in there? That’s always what we’re thinking, you know, and resisting the urge to like over prop is really difficult, but I have found myself like using things for a season of time and then I’ll have a studio sale, sell my stuff that I’ve used for a long time, and then just kind of re up, we also have like seasonal things, right? So those get stored and brought back out around the holidays or spring or whatever. So it’s part of it. But also make sure you know your cost of doing business and what you’re investing.
So you’re not buying, like I’ll see people selling, you know, birthdays shoot for $199, and they went crazy on props and did a whole. It’s like guys, that’s not sustainable.
How do you deal with the Mom’s that come in with a set of Instagram or Pinterest pictures and say this is what I want my photos to look like?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:24:33]
You know, I feel really lucky because I do remember earlier in my business, I would have a lot of people showing Pinterest. Like these are my ideas for my images. Right. It’s interesting now, because I feel like things are changed a bit for me in that. Now people are sending me my pictures as ideas, which is so awesome.
But here’s what it means. At least here’s how I interpret the meaning. The meaning is I’m like showing people so much of what my ideal client is that they’re finding me, and they know exactly what they want and it happens to be exactly what I did. But it’s also because I’m unwavering. Like I’m not going to do a bunch of pictures that I don’t really care for and put them up on social media.
So to answer your question, there are people who come and ask me to do specific things. Will I do them, or do they usually end up liking the pictures that we chose to do that? Weren’t the Pinterest pictures. Yeah, but I don’t go crazy buying props where people just because they think that they want this picture with this specific prop. I don’t do that.
Okay, I want to switch gears and talk about actually shooting these images. So let’s start with maternity shots. I’ve seen you present many times, so I know some of the tips, especially about creating triangles with the arms, and when it’s appropriate and not appropriate, to have hands on a woman’s belly. So for someone who is about to do their first set of maternity photos what are some tips that you would recommend they follow?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:26:06]
Don’t shoot from a low angle. Most pregnant women already feel like they’re bigger than they’ve ever been. So avoiding a low angle is probably pretty smart because then, you know, you get that low angle.
You’re going to end up making things look even wider. Don’t use a wide angle lens. I mean like okay. And shoot close up. I should say. Okay. Right. You’re not going to use a really wide angle lens and get super close to a mom and make them look good. And another thing is in maternity, there’s only like 10 poses that really are maternity specific. Just learn them because they’re super simple to learn and then definitely to do it. This is across the board every single time. If you are photographing a maternity image, have the mom bend the leg, that’s closest to the camera because it just outlines the belly so nicely.
And in this day and age it’s like, gosh, just bend that leg. It looks so much better. And then I definitely another to do is when hands are on the belly, just close the thumps. Cause if not, you’re going to later be like, why do we have to start on mom’s belly? So just like, just put the thumbs down, like, that’s it just put the thumbs down.
And another thing is like my last piece of advice, never Chimp in front of a pregnant woman, because she will automatically consider that the reason why you’re chimping is because she doesn’t look good in the pictures, because again, women are carrying more weight than they’ve ever carried when they’re pregnant, and they feel super insecure about that generally. And so just don’t be a chimper.
Tell me a little bit about how you put a subject at ease. I know your maternity shots can range anywhere from long gowns with flowing material to fine art nudes. What steps do you take to put your subject at ease and reassure them? And for male photographers, what kinds of things is a guy going to be able to say, or definitely not say to help put the woman at ease.
Tracie Maglosky: [00:28:13]
This such a good question and it goes all the way back to the start because the consultation is your cornerstone of the relationship between you and the client. When you have a solid consultation, let listen, my consultations, take me 30 to 45 minutes. We’re not playing. Like during that time I’m establishing my rapport is not just a photographer, but a person as a mom, someone who’s been pregnant.
If I’m a dude, I’m establishing myself as a person who can be trusted in a photography experience because there are many male photographers who do newborn sessions and maternity sessions who do beautiful. And so that rapport is so important. So it goes back to that consultation, which we should just start calling the cornerstone of your relationship with every person that you photograph.
If you’re a portrait photographer, because that consultation is a promise, it’s a promise that you can trust me. It’s a promise that I know what I’m doing. It’s a promise that your experience is going to be amazing. It wasn’t like I’m telling people that they’re going to have a luxury experience. I’m telling people that they’re going to enjoy them.
I am telling them that it’s worth every dime. I’m telling them how smart they are. We’re purchasing from it. Now the session is just me proving it. So going back, it’s just already establishing rapport. And then during the session, I do show images. I feel really great about showing the back of the camera.
And so for me, that’s something that I love to do actually. Yeah. But I will tell you that another thing I don’t do is I don’t show them like. In a large format, aside from the back of the camera, I don’t show them unfinished images. That’s like my weird thing that I’m like people judge themselves. So like I finished the images, they don’t choose the images.
I choose the images. I expect them to do none of that.
When you are planning the shoot with your subjects, how do you determine if the shot will be a fine art nude or glamorous gown or a more casual shot?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:30:17]
Yeah, it’s a great question. I almost never have anyone call me for casual pictures and more because I’ve started to only show what I want to do, which is these like, you know, goddess style glamour, like you said, fine art nudes. I’m really into the fine art nude photography for maternity right now. The shape of a pregnant body to me is just so beautiful and it just so deserves to be celebrated. So to answer the question, I think when we’re on the consultation, again, going back to the consultation, when we’re on the consultation, I asked direct questions, which images of ours did you see that attracted you to our business? Where did you find us? What did you love? And usually that begins to show me what they’re looking for and I will ask directly. Before I asked someone to come into the studio and get naked. I asked, you know, how do you feel about your belly?
I always ask that question. It sounds silly, but I’m like, if someone says, well, I like my belly, but I have stretch marks. And I’m like, do you want to keep the stretch marks? Or do you want them taken out so that they feel like, oh, I can take my, I can show my belly and be okay with it. But then I ask them, are you interested in doing, I’ll just say, are you interested in the shot?
I don’t call them nudes because the people have a whole thing about nudes. I say, are you interested in the skin shot? And many people will just say yes or no, not really. And I never push it if someone says no, but generally about 90% of the people say, oh yeah, I love those. And so then I know that I’m going to be able to explore some of that artistic side.
If they say they’re interested in gowns, I just start going through like our Instagram or my lab site and saying, which counts do you love? And that generally gets the conversation open to what we’re going to be doing.
Tracy, you do some incredible things with lighting. Do you have a go-to lighting setup for your maternity shots?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:32:07]
Yeah, like one by six strip boxes with soft grids, get them it’s the easiest and best way to etch out a pregnant body and light. And so if you’re trying to get that edge lighting, it’s, it’s literally the best, most beautiful softest way to get that edge. And grid, grid, grid, grid, grids. Just grids.
Remembering that maternity in general is a very soft thing. So there’s a good way to do soft images. And then there’s a good way to create a dichotomy there with like harsh. And creating that softness too. But in general, I would say definitely edge lighting.
Back-lighting that kind of stuff is really good to bring out the shape of the body.
Let’s take that same question, switch gears and apply it to newborns, especially that first newborn shoot where the child is not really moving around, what are some of your priorities when you’re setting your light?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:33:09]
Bring the light from above eye level down, just like you would, if you were shooting a portrait. But with newborns, generally, they’re laying down. So it’s a little bit different of an angle, but just making sure that you’re getting that. And then also like camera angle, making sure you’re not shooting up the baby’s nose, you know, that you’re still like, you know, kind of getting that nice.
We want that light to fall across the face and show all those beautiful features. And generally newborn’s eyes are closed, so we’re not really worried too much about catch lights and stuff like that. So we’re looking for the detail in the face.
Are there any special tricks that you use when it comes to scheduling newborn shoots? Do you purposely schedule a time when the baby will nap?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:33:46]
This is such a good question. If you’re a parent and you have ever had small children, you know that there is a time of day that I like to call the witching hour and the witching hour is that one time. And it’s different for everyone. There’s one time of day when the baby just consistently cries and it’s probably like their exercise routine for their lungs or something like that.
But it’s usually in the evening. And I know it sounds crazy, but it’s usually sometime in the evening after five o’clock, a baby will go through a spell where they just cry. And it’s long exercise because of that. We only schedule newborn sessions in the morning. So 10:00 AM is always our newborn session time. Every single time we do a newborn session.
You mentioned camera angles and posing. I’m assuming with a newborn the posing really depends on the props, I know frequently you swaddle babies and wrap them, but as they get a little bit older, and they’re crawling and more mobile. How do you like to set up so that you’re, making it as simple and as functional as possible for you and the kid?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:34:48]
Huge kill zone, right? You need to call it kills zone, but that’s exactly how I view it. It’s like I use a huge umbrella with a big one. So that, you know, because you’ve got a baby crawling back and forth or whatever, and in terms of camera angle, it’s like, I’m on the floor too. That’s just the way it is, you know, we’ve got baby on the floor and I’m on the floor and I have a big light so that I have a space that actually makes sense while the baby’s moving around.
You mentioned one big light. Are you adding rims or hair lights?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:35:23]
I usually do have rims as I’m just a weirdo. So I usually do have my, either one by three strips or my one by six.
It’s usually just one by threes on either side in the back, coming forward to just to separate the baby from the background a little bit, depending on the background.
What are your go-to lenses, for maternity and newborns?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:35:42]
45. I just love, love, love the 45mm which is a 90mm full frame equivalent. I do love the 40mm to 150mm for when I’m working with moving babies.
Cause other, you know, I’m on the floor and these old knees, aren’t what they used to be. So getting up and down and running around is like more difficult. So with a fixed focal length lens, it’s more difficult to do that. If I’m working with a baby and I want to get close up and pull back, I will use the 40mm to 150mm a lot. I love that lens.
Aside from the newborn session, where you mentioned you like to get skin on skin, do you try to involve parents or siblings in the subsequent sessions?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:36:22]
Yeah, so we invite our families to be a part of the sessions that they would like to do within the timeframe that has a lot of, it’s an important question, because one of the things that I do in the consultation, again, as a trusted professional is I tell them the truth and the truth is.
Children who see themselves in pictures with family members, specifically parents and siblings feel like they’re a part of something, and they grow up with more confidence in themselves. So one of the objectives of our studio is to get the family in pictures together as much as we possibly can. So yes, they do.
Let’s jump back to marketing for a quick question, something that I’ve seen you do on social media and I would like to hear your thought process — you frequently post behind the scenes video clips when you are in the studio with newborns. Sometimes they are clips of the baby in a prop or of you wrapping the baby or holding the baby. How does that fit into your marketing mix? Are you doing it just to keep up with the need to post regularly or do you find it actually provides a specific value to you?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:37:29]
Yeah, I actually, that’s such a great question. I recently put up a post with a baby sleeping on a beanbag and a client who ended up booking with me, wrote me and said, I don’t know why I thought they would be crying the whole time.
But it’s interesting how people don’t really know. Like we just assume that because we know something people know. And another thing is like, so I’m sneaky about reviews too, at the end of the session, every single time. I’m like, so I’m going to get the baby dress lawn, getting the baby dress. I just texted you a link to our Google. Can you leave a review?
Tracie, that’s brilliant!
Tracie Maglosky: [00:38:01]
So I get the baby dressed and mom leaves me a beautiful review because the time that client is most excited about their session is right after that. It’s not even when you deliver the pictures, it’s right after the experience, because remember that’s what I sold them is the experience, not the picture.
So mom goes online, and she leaves me a review. Almost every review after a newborn session is about how patient and sweet I was. Is there a baby? And so, yeah, so those images are super important because mom is thinking, how will they treat my baby? So, yeah, I think those are really.
I have to say asking for a review at that moment is absolutely brilliant. So if I can ask you to share part of your journey, how hard was it for you at first to get to a point where you asked for reviews? Every new photographer that I speak with who is at the tipping point of beginning to make money seems to struggle with this, and they will say that they don’t feel comfortable asking or that they don’t know how to ask. You must have experienced this — how did you get past it?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:39:08]
Listen there’s business and then there’s drama one or the other. Right. And so if you’re saying, I am afraid to ask for reviews, that’s just drama. It’s drama, because the only way your business can get better is first, if you know what people are thinking of the experience and yeah, it sucks to get a bad review, but it sucks worse to not know that someone didn’t have a great experience and how to fix.
Because then you just end up in the same spot over and over again. And next year you wake up and you’re still not asking for reviews and you still don’t know what you could do better. The trick here is just developing a thick enough skin to be able to take advice and ask people truly, how can we make it better?
And if your objective is, I really want to add more value to this experience, what I’m learning is that the more value I pack into the experience, the more I can raise the level of expense. The more people don’t even have to think about hiring. It’s a no-brainer like, duh, of course we’re hiring.
But it takes the thick skin to say, really? I want to know what you’re thinking. What did you, what did you think of the experience? And I’ve gotten some reviews that weren’t the most pleasant reviews. Believe me in the course of time. I don’t think I have any right now, but early in my business, I did get reviews that were like, they gave me like four stars, and I was like, oh my God, the world is ending.
They gave me four stars. And just getting over it and making it mean, oh, I have room for improvement instead of making it mean, oh, I suck. And I need to like, quit. How does Google track? We all know, right? Like Google tracks, reviews, group, Google tracks, website, things like that. So when I ask them to do a Google review, it’s very specific, but listen, I also reward them.
I’m like, if you leave me a Google review, I’m going to give you a free print. And I did. Because our review is as good as a lead for me. And so a review is as money in the bank. It really is. And so it’s getting over at yourself a little bit. Like I have another thing that I’m getting ready to try. Don’t want to, I’ll tell you, and then other people can steal it.
It’s okay. I’m thinking about trying a confession closet in the studio and asking the parents to go into the confession closet and just press play. And leave me a video review. Because I think that’d be really powerful too, to share on my Instagram or whatever. And right now I have not done that, but I think it’d be really cool to do a video review where they just go in and press record and just say like, we just, we just got done with our session and only God, it was so cute, and we loved it. It was so fun. The studio was so beautiful, everything was perfect. And I think that is a great way.
That’s a great idea. The world evolves, marketing evolves, and video is proving to be very, very powerful. A video makes the review more real and believable. When we think of Amazon reviews, everybody knows so many of them are bogus and you have to read between the lines to determine if the product is any good. A pearl person speaking on camera is much more believable. So Tracie, there are two questions that I missed. I read an article a couple of weeks ago that was debating, as we seem to love to do these days but it was debating over the ethics of retouching images of newborns. There of course was one side who was anti-retouching and then the other side that was saying but newborns don’t always have the greatest skin — what’s your take on that?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:42:30]
Well, I will debunk that right away. Like if a baby poops on the beam, While you’re shooting. You want to leave it? And here’s the other thing is like the amazing and miraculous thing about newborn is its almost a moment by moment.
Literally. Second by second, they change. It’s absolutely true. It’s like from the time you have your baby and you get home from having your baby, your baby is different. When we are going through a transition, usually around the time that a newborn comes in for a newborn session. And this is just absolutely true.
If you do your session between seven and 10 days, which is about where we do them, the baby is beginning to do its first shed of the skin that they had in the womb. Why would we leave shedding skin on a baby? If it’s not permanent? Now I’m all about if a baby has a birth mark, leave it alone. It’s permanent.
But there’s no reason why we should leave baby acne or, you know, or shedding skin, unless the parents requested fine have what you want. But the thing is that it’s, it’s just so silly what a silly debate. It’s so dumb. It’s like, if I break out before my wedding, do I want my wedding pictures to have acne? No, I don’t. And it’s the same with this. I just think it’s a way to like, get out of doing work. Right?
I am totally with you on that one. The other question I wanted to be sure to ask — for your maternity sessions — I am assuming you are working with a makeup artist and hair stylist for those sessions?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:44:03]
So it’s up to the client. They don’t have to, if they don’t want to, but they can, if they choose to. And we do have that available for people, if they decide they want it. So it’s totally up to them.
I know you’re getting ready to ramp up a coaching program and full disclosure, because I have said this publicly before, generally I am not a fan of photography coaching programs because the coaches don’t really have a split resume to back up what they are teaching, but I know you and even just having listened to you for the past 50 minutes, you are, the real deal. This is hard-earned experience that you are putting to use with your business every day and then sharing with your students.
So tell me about your program? And folks, I have all of Tracie’s links, her website — social profiles and the photography coaching program in the show notes — so please be sure to check them out. But Tracie — tell me about your photography coaching program?
Tracie Maglosky: [00:44:55]
So my program is based around changing your thinking about your business. It sounds crazy, but I swear 90% of the reason why photographers don’t make it, it’s just because they think they can’t. And as you can tell, I’m very passionate about the business side, about marketing, about learning, how to become the person that you always wanted to be in your business.
But there are thoughts that you have about yourself that holds you back. So my whole entire focus of my coaching, is teaching photographers who are overwhelmed in their businesses, how to come into a brilliant space where they feel like they can manage everything because what I’m learning as I’ve traveled around and Joe, you know this cause you do it too.
When I listened to photographers, talk about what their struggles are, there’s so much to do. I don’t know how to wear all these hats and do all this stuff. So what I’m doing is helping photographers and learn how to manage their time effectively. And do all the things that they promise for their clients and deliver those things with confidence.
Now, it sounds crazy, but I swear to you, it is absolutely possible to run a brilliant business and also have balance in your life and be a parent and a spouse, and actually have time for yourself. So that is my passion is actually teaching photographers, how to make money like real money. You know, I’ve seen all the things and you’ve seen them to make $10 million at a wedding.
I’m talking about a sustainable business that brings in monthly reoccurring revenue by doing all the boring crap that everyone wants to avoid. That is what actually builds a business and to teach you how to love it. That’s what my photography coaching program involves.
That’s outstanding and I wish you the best of luck with that Tracie. I am confident that you are going to make an impact on people. Well Tracie thank you so much for your time. This was awesome. I learned a ton of stuff today and that is a big part of why I love doing this podcast.
I really appreciate how open you have been and how willing you are to share knowledge.So thank you so much.
Tracie Maglosky: [00:47:10]
Yeah, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Ah, it’s been my pleasure and I can’t wait to see out on the road again — hopefully, sooner than later,
Tracie Maglosky: [00:47:17]
If you’re listening to TOGCHAT on iTunes or any other platform that allows reviews, please leave a few positive notes to help other photographers find out about the show. Remember photography is not a competition. It is a passion to be shared.
WOW — I honestly think that is the most in depth information I have ever had a guest share in a 50-minute interview. And folks, please don’t lose sight of the fact that most of that brilliant marketing information that Tracie shared can also be used by portrait photographers, senior portrait photographers, even wedding photographers. And I will tell you that I know quite a few wedding photographers who begin the subscription process with the engagement photos and carry it through the wedding, first anniversary, first child and so on.
Let’s face it — nobody picks up a camera because they are interested in marketing but hopefully you learned from Tracie that you only have to shoot what you want to shoot and then your challenge is — simplify the process by investing in relationships so that your customers will feel a connection to you and keep coming back for more.
It is also important that you caught that one statement Tracie made — that marketing never stops. I assure you from my own experience. If you slow down — your business will slow down.
Please be sure to check out Tracie’s work and her coaching program — all the links are in the show notes.
Be sure to visit my website www.JoeEdelman.com, where you will find my portfolio, over 300 articles and tutorials to help you improve your photography as well as a directory of modeling agencies and makeup artists from all 50 of the United States. You will also find some great advice for models as well as the photographers that photograph them and the website serves as home base for all of my TOGCHAT podcast episodes as well as The LAST FRAME LIVE.
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