How I Built a Successful Motherhood Photography Business | TKP Education
I am Kristin Wood - owner of Kristin Wood Photography, a newborn and family portrait studio in Connecticut. I’m so honored to be able to share my journey in the photography industry with you today.
From lawyer to stay at home mom to photographer - it’s been quite a journey. And while it’s not one that I could have predicted, it’s a similar story that I’ve heard from many other motherhood photographers - realizing the importance of documenting the fleeting moments with our children and wanting that for other moms too.
I took my first photography class back in 2011. At that time I had no intentions of being a photographer - I was working as an attorney and just needed a creative outlet. Fast forward a few years, we welcomed our first child, and like many new moms, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of my tiny little newborn. Before I knew it, that creative outlet became so much more, and I spent the next few years photographing my children and close friends just soaking up all of the photography education I could.
In the spring of 2017, we moved to Connecticut, and I officially started Kristin Wood Photography. I spent the next 2 years “hitting the pavement” so to speak, doing anything and everything to get my name out in the community. I photographed communions, fundraisers, headshots for service organizations, volunteered for community events…you name it, I did it. All the while in the background, I was working hard to establish myself as a newborn photographer.
I started out renting an empty room at the local YWCA on a session by session basis. I would haul all of my stuff to the space and set up a faux studio. I did that for a few months, slowly gaining more traction with newborn photography. At some point that year my marketing efforts paid off and “Kristin Wood Photography” became well known in our area. Seeing people recommending me to others gave me the confidence to really invest in my business and take it to new heights.
In early 2019, I was ready for my own studio. Commercial space is extremely expensive in our area so we converted our basement into a studio space. It wasn’t ideal, and I had to learn studio lighting to make it happen, but I believe where there is a will, there is a way. Though it was a risk and not perfect, that decision led to significant growth and opportunities.
Over the next year I photographed well over 100 full sessions and hosted mini session events including Santa and Motherhood sessions. In analyzing the business and planning for growth, I came to realize that the clients who were most satisfied with their portrait experience and raved about my business were the clients who had spent the most time with me and were taking advantage of all the optional services I was offering. I knew it was time to make the shift to a full service business.
As photographers, we can feel pulled in so many different directions and business models, and it can be a little overwhelming. Since starting my business I waffled back and forth over what structure I wanted. The all inclusive model had worked well the first couple of years as I got my feet wet, but I always knew I wanted to do IPS eventually. At the beginning of 2020 I signed up for Brittany Elise Photography’s Leveraging to Luxury mastermind and switched my business model to in person sales. With the switch to IPS, despite a 3 month shut down due to the pandemic, 2020 proved to be my most profitable year since founding my business.
My business is now focused on serving busy moms who truly want a luxury service where all the details are taken care of for them. It is a “high touch” business where I invest a lot of time with each of my clients. We start with a phone consultation for booking, in person styling at the studio, professional hair and makeup for the session, an in person ordering appointment, and installation of their framing to conclude their experience. I walk away from each client knowing that I truly provided a beautiful experience preserving their memories. I offer a very limited product line, albums and custom framing, curated to fit well with my brand. Custom framing has really resonated with my clients, and I’ve installed over 130 frames at my clients’ homes in the past 9 months since converting to IPS.
In person sales has allowed my business to reach new financial goals I never dreamed possible for a photographer. It has also taught me so much about what clients are looking for in their portraits - what images they love, what images they don’t really care about, how they want to look in their portraits, etc. It has made me more efficient in my shooting, culling and editing as I’ve learned the value of delivering only the very best images to your clients. It also helped shift my mindset from “photographer” to “business-owner.” I now see myself as more of an entrepreneur than artist, and for the first time since I left my legal career, I am proud to tell people what I do now.
This year I have continued to see growth and hit big milestones. My calendar was fully booked for my goal annual number of sessions by the beginning of February 2021. I hired an amazing virtual assistant through Harbor Creative Co. which has been vital to being able to serve my clients well and maintain the high volume of sessions. After 2 years of running my studio out of my basement, I signed a lease for a 1400 sq. ft commercial space where I have all the space and dreamy natural light I had been missing. So many huge goals checked off the list.
Lastly, I can’t leave out the MOST important part of my journey - being able to be a working Mom AND be present for my children. I have the freedom to set my schedule around my kids. My children are 8 and 5, so I am able to get most of my work done during the school hours and only work 2 weekends a month. It is a great balance for our family, and I am SO grateful to have a business that brings so much joy, financial support for our family AND allows me to be home with my kids. It’s truly my DREAM job and I am so so thankful that I followed my heart and took the leap of faith to start this business.