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Featuring Cayan Benjamin

Featuring Cayan Benjamin

This week’s featured photographer is Cayan Benjamin of Cayan Ashley Photography in Milwaukee, WI

 

Where do you operate your business?

 

Technical Specs:

 
Camera used

Canon 6D

Lens choices

85mm 1.8.

Processing Software (just provide the names of the one’s you use)

Lightroom mostly!

Do you use any actions?

LXC from Tribe Archipelago.

Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use any plugins, etc?

light retouching, but mostly just exposure.

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CLIENTS:

 
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients.  Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?  

I use Instagram and word of mouth marketing the most! I’ve qualified my ideal client through Molly Marie’s web marketing course and Denise Birdsong’s Shoot for Emotion web course.

I’d love to add into the article any inspiring client stories you might have.  Also have you had any issues with clients that you would like to share how you resolved them.  That is always something that can hugely benefit the readers.

My favorite model-turned-client is a plus size babe. She runs a body positive website and IG account that’s fairly popular and totally promotes body positivity for all women! She is unabashedly confident and doesn’t apologize for who she is. She’s a take-no-shit babe and I’m just so lucky to have found her! She’s my muse and really pushes my work.

Do you have a physical or digital “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do. You can give me a link or email. Thanks.

Not yet, but I’m super excited to get a Spark page going to send out!

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SALES:

 
This is probably one of the most important things that the readers want to know.  How do you sell to your clients?  Can you provide info on your sales process and your pricing.  I’d like to be able to provide numbers on what you charge for a session and what your range is for your products, like albums for instance, but if you don’t feel comfortable sharing to much, just give me what fits your comfort level 

I do in-person sales with my clients, and my average client spends between $1,200-$1,500. I haven’t sold many of my top packages though, so I’m looking to revamp my packages (I just bought Natalie Kita’s pricing book, ayo!)

What products perform best in your studio? 

I love large metal prints, so I sell a lot of those since my studio is full of them! I also sell heirloom boxes with 5×7 session prints to almost every woman who comes in. I really want people to have my art on their walls, and on their coffee tables.

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STUDIO:

 
Best describe your workspace.  Do you have a studio or work from home?  How large is your space?  What are the challenges with it?  What works really well for you?  Can you please include a photo or two of it, if possible.

I shoot 99% of my sessions outdoors, as I don’t have a studio space. I do a lot of my work at the local coffee shop, but I also have a desk set up in my home that I spend a lot of time at as well!

Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.

I’m in the market for an indoor space since I’m located in Wisconsin, so that’s on my to do list! I would love my own space in the near future.

Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?

I keep strict communication hours (I only answer emails/messages/texts during office hours) but since I also work full time and go to school full time, my shoot times vary a lot.

Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any.

I mostly shoot natural light outdoors, but I’ve been experimenting with my ring light a lot recently. I love playing around with it, and strive to do more shooting with continuous lighting in the future!

Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio?  If so, can you give me a run down of what the rate is you pay them and how you feel about the importance of that relationship.  If you don’t use them, is there a reason?

 I use 2 different (amazing!) women for hair and makeup for my clients. My sister is a licensed esthetician and offers a variety of skincare, makeup, and waxing services. The second is a friend who is a self-taught makeup artist/blogger/guru. They charge between $75-$100 for their services, and the client pays them directly. These relationships are extremely important to me, and I treat them as such!

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BUSINESS IN GENERAL:

 

How long have you been in business?  What were you doing before you started your photo business?

I’ve been a legal portrait business for 3 years, but have been photographing the world since I was 10 years old. My older brother built his own darkroom in our basement and used to develop his own negatives and prints, and I would follow him around like a little puppy! My parents saw my interest in photography and gave my first film SLR shortly after. Along with my business, I’ve been in the service industry for 15 years.

Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?

I took photography classes in high school and college, but my official schooling is business and marketing.

Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?

I’ve always had a passion for photography!

What is your biggest struggle in this business?

 My biggest struggle is nailing down my pricing sweet spot. This is my main focus right now and what I’ve been working on for the last few weeks!

Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre?  If you’re excusive, and/or recently went exclusive can you give the readers some insight into why you did.  If you’ve only ever done boudoir, again we’d love to hear why.

I sell myself as a women’s portrait artist, so I shoot a mix of beauty and boudoir. I love working with women, and the beauty and boudoir shoots allow me to really relate to and get to know my clients and models. I don’t shoot newborns or families, mostly because I don’t like working with children. I’ve been branching off into couples shoots, and hope to expand that in the future!

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ADVICE:

 
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?

 Never stop learning! There are so many free resources out there that you can utilize to expand your knowledge and tool belt. Also, this community is truly invaluable. I’ve learned more here at AIBP than I have anywhere else, so I would definitely push them to get involved in photographer communities and AIBP!

Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself, if you are a female (sorry guys 🙂 ? Do you think it’s something that is important for female boudoir photographers to do?

I have not but its on my bucket list!

How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?  

I think it’s great when men want to shoot boudoir! I can definitely see a difference in my style vs. a man’s style, and I really try to push my boundaries with new shoots to expand my opportunities.

What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?

I haven’t really experienced burn-out quite yet, but when I’m stuck in a rut, I schedule a fun shoot with my favorite model and we drink some champagne and experiment with new things! Having someone who’s up for anything keeps it fun for me!

What do you love about the business?

I love that I get to pour my creative self into my art and people appreciate and love it! Showing women how beautiful they are, and letting them see themselves in a new way for the first time is better than anything.

What do you hate about the business?

The only thing I can think of right now is the oversaturation of this business. I hate to see people who come to me because they’ve had a shoot with a different artist that wasn’t up to their expectations or standards.

Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI?  What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?

No.

Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it?  AIBP runs contests regularly.  Do you participate?  If not, is there a reason you don’t?

I love the contests that AIPB runs! I participate in the daily choice contests, the marketing contest, cover photo contest, and occasionally the weekly image contest. I also just received my first Choo Choo in the LooksLikeFilm group which was a HUGE goal of mine!

 

SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:

 
Favorite food?   

Wine

One guilty pleasure in life?

 Netflix for life!

What is your favorite piece of clothing? 

Black Rockstar skinnies from Old Navy

What’s one song on your playlist? 

Alina Baraz – Make You Feel

What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?

 Horror – I love the classics: The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th

Favorite shoes to wear?  

 Ankle boots – they dress up any outfit!

What are you currently reading? 

 I just got Sophia Amorusa’s Nasty Galaxy because I love her style, and I’m also in the middle of the George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series (Game of Thrones).

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?   

 Canadian Rockies! I’m going on my dream trip this summer for 3 weeks – Banff, Jasper, Glacier, and then back down through Vancouver and Seattle (my second home!) I can’t freaken wait!

If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?

I’m not sure about this one, I strive to have no regrets!
 

If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?

 Right now, I’m dying to shoot Emily Ratajkowski! She literally oozes sexuality and makes no apologies for it.

What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)

 Time management! I’m a fulltime returning student, I manage a bar/restaurant, and I’m growing my portrait business. I’ve been delegating as much as possible, and really micromanaging my time by writing down my schedule to the minute. It’s tedious, but it’s been helping.

Are you married, single, have kids, husband?  Is life a juggling act for you?

 I’m not married, but I do have an amazing boyfriend who is extremely understanding of my busy schedule and compliments my lifestyle which is so important to me.
 
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?

My family supports and loves my work, which is invaluable to me! They push me every day and are my accountability. I also have a model who has become my close friend. Her and I work so well together, and she pushes me to try new things and expand my style and work. (You can follow her on IG @spookyfatbabe – she’s a plus size bodypos GODDESS).

 
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be

Do what makes you happy! Be present, and cherish time with the people you love.

Jen Swedhin
Jen Swedhin

Jen Swedhin is a natural light and studio photographer in Denver, CO. Jen specializes in intimate portraiture for men, and is one of the only photographers in the industry to focus on this niche. Jen is also the owner of Jen Gets Shit Done, a retouching, web design and mentoring service for boudoir photographers.

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