Photographers who are Downsizing….

Photographers who are downsizing – let’s talk!  This is part of our regular blog plan….

If you have not followed this blog, a little summary:  I began as a newborn photographer approximately 12 years ago.  In a little tiny voice,  you may hear me say, “Those were the good ‘ol days….”  Yes, yes, the years when I was the original well-seen newborn photographer in the Baltimore and surrounding areas.  Clients would drive or travel from up to six states away to be photographed.   No kidding, crazy crazy time…. Now there are about 10,000 newborn photographers in the area…..

Don’t live in the past – yeah yeah yeah…. just because you miss the good ol’ days doesn’t mean you live in the past.  My business and life have evolved, and I love every minute of the “new life”….  and I enjoy when I photograph clients more than ever.

I had three beautiful studios in the past…..
The first was in the Monkton Hotel building right along the NCR trail… I had 1,800 square feet on the top floor.

This was the studio where we did the first of many nationally recognized Similac Infant Formula ad campaigns.  What a whirlwind that was of excitement and accomplishment – from casting to working with up to 8 newborn babies in a day – think working with twins is tough?   Yeah… no… 8 newborns and art directors watching over your shoulder with every move you make – now that is some pressure!

Anyone remember those drop dead gorgeous wood floors?  They were original 100+ year old floors.  They photographed beautifully.  When I moved from studio to studio, I had to make sure I had similar wood boards that were portable.  I ended up making almost identical wood flooring that photographs nearly exact, and I bring them by request on location to client homes currently.

I don’t like to go overboard with the floors nowadays, though, as they became quite a trend for a while  in the newborn industry – every photographer had to make their own set or purchase the vinyl copies from vendors who cashed in on the popularity of wood floors…. but nothing beat those original and authentic hard wood warped and beaten up floors.

 

The second studio of mine was also in Monkton – in fact, right down the street from the first one.  Moving day was pretty funny.  We packed things up, and moved them, seconds away.

We set up in the Miller House, which is owned by the same man who owns and operates Millstone Ciders which locals may be becoming familiar with.  I rented the building right next to this Mill.

Even though this building was very tiny, I loved decorating it.  I love buildings with character.  It turned out wonderful; however, it also turned out to be very difficult to heat as there was no insulation in the walls – another pre- Civil War building, you think I would have learned my lesson on dealing with old construction! 😉

 

With the third studio, I decided it was time for some newer construction.   It was beautiful from the shooting area to the office, play room/dressing room, bathroom, kitchen nook, and prop room, and worked out well from newborns, families, to  large commercial shoots.  We did many commercial shoots as well as photography workshops in this studio.

You would think that leaving these studios would have left me heartbroken.  I will be brutally honest – When I let them go, I was happy – content to move on to a new portion of my life/business.  Commercial photography was no longer flowing as well as it once was.  I was ready and willing to photograph clients on location.

I embraced the best parts of going back on location —

  • Newborns are so much better in their homes. By time clients showed up at my studio with their newborns, the newborns had slept a good hour in the car and were wide awake, making for more difficult sessions.   Now showing up at the client houses, the newborns are better and so are the siblings because we are not disturbing their routines.
  • Being in clients’ homes, I now get a chance to get to know them, their decor, their style, and create images that complement.

So what do you do with all the stuff when you make a huge business change like this?  First, I set as much as I could up in my home. I have a devoted shooting room – it is where I originally began my career; however, I am determined to downsize and keep only what I need.

I have a few things I will be selling in the upcoming weeks.   I was able to accomplish basic downsizing for newborn props/blankets this weekend.  I’d say it went pretty well – these are the keepers.

I asked myself – how many blankets do I really need?  I only use certain colors (unless clients want their own blankets used).   And for my own taste, neutral goes with everything – why would a client want a bright orange blanket if nothing in their home is bright orange, or if they move in the future, maybe it will no longer match their decor?  That color is quite a commitment  – a commitment I would personally never make as as home decor enthusiast who likes to change things up a bit from time to time 😉

It was time to let things go.  I have a box of fluff in there still, filled to the brim, and some wraps and hats in the other box, again, only used by request – My clients seek me out for my specific style, and I feel I must stay true to that in what I decide to keep.

Storage.

Storage.

Storage.

 

I am lucky that storage isn’t a huge concern in my home – I mean, sure, you can never have enough storage, but I would love to downsize my house in the future, so I’m practicing downsizing and storage solutions now – There are so many options for storage, but I had so many wood boards for sets that I have held onto.  I had twelve 8-foot boards and twelve 6-foot boards – I only need to keep five 6-foot boards for my new business model.  Do you know what you can do with these left over boards?  Make shelves with them!!!

 

In all of this, I did have to question myself  – How many props do I really need?  Props do not have meaning to my clients 90% of the time. My work is about the subject – the baby – it is not about decorating them with a million props.  I decided to keep basics – basics for a little bit of pop, but the imagery is wrapped around baby only (or baby with parents, baby with siblings, etc.) because that is the type of imagery that will be cherished for a lifetime.  If props are used, I want them to be props that the clients have – something that has meaning to them or their lifestyle.

So in the upcoming weeks/months,  you will see these types of posts from me a lot – the “After Studio” photographer… what comes after…. and I’d like to show the ideas I came up with to utilize the leftover stuff 🙂

About Jodie Otte

Maryland Newborn Photographer and Child Portrait Artist, Jodie Holstein-Otte, specializes in unique photography of newborn babies, kids, and families. She works on location in Harford, Howard, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other areas throughout Maryland. She uses both both natural lighting and soft studio lighting techniques.