This week's featured photographer is Alicia Nelson of Ambient Art Photography in Fresno, California
Where do you operate your business?
2787 W Bullard Ave. #104, Fresno, California
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The lens I use the most is Canon 24-70
Processing Software (just provide the names of the one's you use)
Lightroom and Photoshop
Do you use any actions?
Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use any plugins, etc?
I retouch and always use Nik Color Efex Pro 4
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?
We shoot weddings as well, so most of my clients are the brides we photograph throughout the year. Twice a year we participate in bridal shows and we also advertise through local businesses. Aside from brides, I also photograph a lot of women 30 - 50+. These women are often referred by friends.
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'll email you the PDFs I send to potential clients.
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
After their photography session, I retouch 25-30 of their best images. When the images are ready, we schedule an in person sales appointment with a slide show and printed proof sheets.
What products perform best in your studio?
My clients really like Millers Signature Books and 8X10 prints in 11X14 mats. They also receive the matching digital file of any image they purchase.
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.
We have an 1100 square foot studio and an 800 sq foot hair salon. Our ceilings aren't very high so we are limited in that way. However, the overall shooting area works well for what we do. I absolutely love that I have a proper hair salon since I'm a licensed cosmetologist as well and I still take hair clients two days a week. The two businesses work so well together. The style is light and bright. I love being there. It is definitely my home away from home!
Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.
I would love a huge studio dressing room. If we ever move, higher ceilings would be a major bonus. If we can find a gorgeous building as well.... that would be dreamy!
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
I actually keep a pretty flexible schedule and return client texts almost any time of day. Boudoir photography is more of a secondary income so it hasn't absorbed too much of my life yet.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What's your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any.
I don't have much natural light coming in through the windows so I use all studio lights. Most of my sessions take place in the evening anyway.
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 usually do the hair and makeup for my sessions.
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?
My husband started the photography business 6 years ago. I started second shooting weddings with him and shooting portraits about 5 years ago. I've been a licensed hair stylist since 2000 and I'm not ready to give up my first love yet, so both careers continue to have a place in my life.
Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?
My husband taught me most of what I know. We are also huge fans of Creative Live. We have watched hours upon hours of classes on there. Over the years we have attended WPPI as well as a five day workshop with Jerry Ghionis. This summer we look forward to a workshop in Florence Italy with JB Sallee. It's going to be epic!
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?
This career was a complete surprise to me. To be honest, when I was younger, I didn't think I could develop the skill set needed to do photography. I never would have imagined boudoir photography would be a part of my life.
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
I really stink at social media marketing. This year, I'm going to work much harder at that part of the business.
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 love all kinds of photography. Weddings, babies, families, portraits.....I enjoy it all, but my all time favorite is boudoir. I love how empowering this genre is and the transformations are so rewarding.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
Get in lots and lots of practice. Practice on all your family and friends so you don't fumble with your equipment or poses with a paying client.
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 had one friend photograph me and I have done a few self portrait sessions. We should all have the experience of being on the other side of the camera!
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
I personally wouldn't be comfortable with my husband shooting boudoir photography, but I do know many male photographers who are incredibly talented at it. So this is obviously a personal choice.
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 experienced burn-out yet.
What do you love about the business?
The endless creativity and knowing there is always something new and exciting to learn.
What do you hate about the business?
Book keeping and cleaning the studio.
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
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 just started competing last year. It has taken a long time for me to build up enough confidence to put myself out there for critique.
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
One guilty pleasure in life?
Our nightly ritual of TV with a glass of wine before going to bed.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Jeans. I wear them almost every day of the week.
What's one song on your playlist?
Lenka "Everything's Okay"
What's your favorite movie genre? Example?
I love war movies. "Hacksaw Ridge" was incredible!
Favorite shoes to wear?
Boots in the winter and sandals in the summer.
What are you currently reading?
Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
I would be more careful about who I work with.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
I don't really get excited over celebrities so I don't know.
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
Keeping my house organized.
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
I'm married and we have three kids. We have a pretty predictable weekly schedule which helps a lot. Sometimes I get really overwhelmed though and I have to remember that my life is so full it's impossible to be perfect at everything. I'm learning to grant myself grace when I drop the ball and give myself a pat on the back with small victories.
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
I have to say I love Sue Bryce. I have learned so much from her. She has so much wisdom to offer for life and business.
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person's direction in life, what would that be
Don't live in fear. Be bold and brave. You are capable of far more than you realize.