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Featuring Claire Pearce

Featuring Claire Pearce

This week’s featured photographer is Claire Pearce of Claire Pearce in Los Angeles, CA

 
Where do you operate your business?

Los Angeles

Your Website

Your Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/unbuttonedphotography/

Your Instagram account

https://www.instagram.com/unbuttonedphotography/

Your Pinterest account

https://www.pinterest.com/unbuttonedphotography/

Your Twitter account

https://www.twitter.com/unbuttonedphoto/

Technical Specs:

 
Camera used

Canon 5D mark 2

Lens choices

Sigma 50mm art lens

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

Lightroom

Do you use any actions?

Yes

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

I use portraiture and Nik (silver FX and color FX)

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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 took Christa Meola’s online boudoir course very early on. One of the first things she does is have you get to know your client and who she is. In the beginning I wanted to be available for all clients and so had a wide variation of pricing. However when I joined AIBP I actually started qualifying clients more fully and increased my pricing. I target the luxury shoppers, not the bargain shoppers. I’ve learned to say no to them and only take clients who love my work and are willing to pay for it. I feel good about where my prices currently are. Marketing is something that I need to work more on. Right now I’m using social media, google ads, Facebook ads (when approved), Yelp, targeting past clients for referrals. In 2017 I want to partner with businesses more.

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. .

I send out 2 links. One when they contact me for info –
https://spark.adobe.com/page/0THUe/
and the other after they book –
https://spark.adobe.com/page/FOGH0/

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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 send out my pricing when people contact me and try and arrange a meeting. 9 times out of 10 I book clients when I meet them in person. I charge a $200 retainer which is non-refundable. They are allowed one reschedule with 7 days notice. I also always do a contract. I present them with my price via email, at the meeting and again at the in person sales session. I try and have them think about how they want to see the images or gift them. I never have clients who just want digitals. My products are shown in my price list, so they start to see them right away, they also see them at the initial meeting and again at the sales session. At the sales session, which I do in my home office on my desktop 21″ mac, I show an Animoto video first and then I open Lightroom where we go through the images together. I ask them to say ‘yes or no’ on each image. Most people have already decided which package they are getting, so we whittle down to that number. Most people go for my middle package which is $1595 and includes 25 images in a leather album (Millers) and a silk folio (boudoir album), an app and the 25 digitals on a USB thumb drive. They pay there and then. I have never done a 2nd viewing, I tell them this is when you choose the images and so have never had an issue with this. If they get indecisive I keep helping them make choices, so they are not overwhelmed. Once they have all their choices, I group everything together so they can see which images they have chosen. This helps to see if any are too similar. Then I design the album and send over a PDF for them to proof. Most people love right away and don’t make changes.

What products perform best in your studio? 

 Albums and folios

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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 work from home. There’s some things that I like and some that I don’t. I save money using my home, but have to clean and rearrange things very time that I do a shoot. I’m single with no kids, so it works. I use my bed for the bedroom scenes and I have backdrops in my smaller 2nd bedroom that I use. Hair and makeup happens in my living room. Most clients like it and say it feels like home. In the past I went to my clients homes and most of the time that worked. I just had less control of the space. Even though I would say it, people wouldn’t clean away the clutter.

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

I think about it, LA is very expensive and most loft type spaces are downtown which I don’t want to have my business at. If I found the right space near to where I live I would consider it.

Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?

 Somewhat. I only shoot in the mornings and keep it to one per day.

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

Just natural light. I have been shooting in my studio for a year now so I feel like I have fought my lighting struggles.

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 have 2 makeup artists that I use mostly and some backups, just in case. Being in LA its $150 for hair and makeup. The makeup has to be clean, I don’t want to be doing a bunch of retouching on their makeup. I always do a test with any new MUA and use referrals. They have to do good hair and makeup, be on time, be reliable and professional. Clients are often nervous, so we want to keep the conversations positive and upbeat.

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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 went to school for photography in 2008 and graduated in 2012 while working as a hairstylist, which I still do. I’m not yet at a place where I can quit doing hair and I’m not sure if I want to completely. So for now I do 2-3 days per week in the salon and photography the other days. I like variety and so it works for me. I don’t do hair on my shoots though as I want them to see me as the photographer.

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

 Yes, I went to Santa Monica College and got a certificate in photography. It took me 3.5 years part time. It was a great basis to start in the photography industry and would highly recommend it. We learnt film and digital, lighting, printing both in the darkroom and on a printer. The business of photography. 35mm, medium and large format. I feel that it gave me rounded knowledge of photography, so I could go into commercial or retail photography.

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

I always loved photography and dabbled in the past when it was just film. Coming into photography again in 2008 I had to learn digital as well.

What is your biggest struggle in this business?

 Probably marketing. It takes a lot of energy for me do after being in the salon. This is my biggest weakness. I struggle with consistency.

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.

 When I was in school I was asked constantly, what type of photography I would do. I always leaned towards photographing people and especially fashion. We had a nude assignment before I even knew what Boudoir was and saw the effect it had on the women. It gave them a boost of confidence and they saw themselves differently. I now mostly do boudoir and glamour, but have been hired to photograph dogs commercially. I have a side project where photograph dogs at the shelter, so have become good at photographing them.

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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?

 I would say-study. Study the technical side and the business of photography. Don’t be afraid to take a class.

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?

 Not yet but, I am planning one for next year.

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

I can see how women would feel more comfortable with a female photographer, however men can absolutely be boudoir photographers. Saying that they have to be careful of the words that they use to encourage to not sound sleazy. I also think that they absolutely need to have a female on set whether it’s the MUA or an assistant.

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

 Nope- I’m not at the stage yet where I’m super busy with photography and I’m good at knowing when I need to pull back and rest. We have the ability to determine how much we work, people forget that.

What do you love about the business?

 Seeing the transformation in my clients. They come in all nervous and leave feeling empowered.

What do you hate about the business?

 Marketing.

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

 PPA and WPPI. I like that PPA includes equipment insurance with their membership and has lot of support. I’ve also been a member of APA and ASMP, which are geared toward commercial photography.

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 rarely get model releases from clients so don’t compete often.

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SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:

 
Favorite food?   

 Indian food.

One guilty pleasure in life?

 Sleeping in.

What is your favorite piece of clothing? 

 Sweats

What’s one song on your playlist? 

 Justin Timberlake on Pandora for shooting

What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?

 Drama

Favorite shoes to wear?  

 Sam Edelman booties

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

 Top of Mount Everest, but without all the climbing.

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

 Have kids. I put off having a family to have a career.
 

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

 Helen Mirren-she seems to be so comfortable aging and doing it gracefully and still being sexy!

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

 Anxiety, it often stops me taking steps towards things that I want.

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

 Single
 
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?

Other photographers. Other peoples work using me to try new things.

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

Be yourself, don’t conform to what people want you be. Know that you create your own destiny and that you are always at choice.
Cathy Nance
Cathy Nance

Photographer and Owner of Cathy Nance Studios - Intimate Editorial Art

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