This week's featured photographer is Alyson Lewis of Fearless Boudoir in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
SALES: The goss on how to sell, sales process and pricing
I do same day image selection and product ordering. I show culled SOOCs to the clients and only edit what they are buying for products. I don't edit or create a draft album design until I am paid in full.
My session fee is $180 and my albums start at $749.
I only sell albums, digitals and ready-to-hang framed bedroom wall art. I sell albums the most. I hardly ever sell just digital images, and they are only available for purchase with my two of my albums, for an additional investment.
I have a commercial studio space that is 180m²(861ft²) that is the top floor of an old historical building in my town. It has a children's playroom (for my children when they come to the studio with me), a reception, a sales room, a kitchen / storage room and two separate studio spaces. It has a lot of natural light. I love it! My studio space includes a makeup and hair station.
Any upcoming changes?
I plan to add a custom wardrobe space and I'm constantly on the hunt for new furniture pieces. I have a range of different colours of satin sheets and also different bedspread sets.
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
Yes, my hours are 9am - 5pm. I don't work Mondays or Fridays.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What's your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?
I use a combination of natural light, studio lights and a ring flash.
Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio?
I have a makeup artist I use exclusively, and I pay her $100 for hair and makeup. I adore her and we have a wonderful relationship. I have also completed the Napoleon Makeup Academy's Certificate in Bridal, Fashion and Glamour Makeup and am currently practicing and honing my makeup skills (makeup is much like photography - you can't just pick up a brush set and be good at it straight away), so I want a good year of skill building before I will move forward with doing my own clients. My makeup artist mentors me, and I have big shoes to fill!
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
This is my fourth year in business. I was working in the private sector before this, in management roles.
Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?
I am 100% self-taught.
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?
I am one of those poster-children for how not to start a photography business, and had a rude shock! But I got my ass into gear fairly quickly and am still here four years later! I actually had a psychic reading when my second child was a few weeks old and she told me I would have my own business (had zero desire to have my own business) and be working with beauty (I was thinking she meant beauty services like nails, or hair, or beauty therapy, and I have zero interest in that stuff), and boy did I laugh and laugh and laugh. Jokes on me, because she ended up being right!
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
My biggest struggle is going through my to-do list of all the things I see need doing but never seem to have time to do.
The progression of your career?
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
Respect yourself and embrace the word 'No'.
Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself ? Do you think it's something that is important for female boudoir photographers to do?
I haven't done a boudoir session at all! I certainly will once I lose this baby weight! Not sure who I will see yet though! I don't feel that not having one has held me back as a boudoir specialist, but I do think it will probably help me to understand how my clients feel.
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
I don't think gender matters. Each individual can judge for themselves who they seek out.
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 have a fairly strict working ethic when it comes to shooting and editing and because I'm only editing what my clients buy, I'm not overwhelmed with images to edit, or wasting my time editing images that are going to just sit on my hard drive serving no purpose.
What do you love about the business?
I love changing someone's perception of their body image.
What do you hate about the business?
I hate the competitiveness, and not feeling like you can trust people, because some photographers have their own short-sighted agenda.
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
I'm an AIPP Accredited Professional Photographer, and I love being a member. I believe it strengthens my accountability for my clients.
I absolutely LOVE being a member of AIBP. I find it so inspirational and supportive.
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 enter the AIPP Queensland State Awards. I entered last year for the first time and won two Silver awards. I am only just entering the next ones now and have no idea how I will go! I have no expectations, and believe that critique makes you a better photographer.
I do enter the AIBP contests, I love seeing the range of images entered by the other entrants. I love being inspired and seeing what other boudoir photographers are producing. I have won two weekly contests and two of my images have been selected as Daily Choices.
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
One guilty pleasure in life?
Ru Paul's Drag Race.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
I love my cargo pants.
What's one song on your playlist?
What's your favorite movie genre? Example?
REALLY funny chick flicks. I could watch The Other Woman on repeat.
Favorite shoes to wear?
My Converse All Stars.
What are you currently reading?
At the moment it's whatever book my 4 year old wants me to read him to bed.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
My favourite place in the world is Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island. But I'm a big fan of Hanoi in Vietnam too, and my home country, The Philippines.
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
I would homebirth all of my children, not just the last one.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
I would photograph Dita Von Teese, because she's just a serious raunchpot. Woman knows how to jiggle her wobble.
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
Thinking that my husband is my favourite kitchen appliance.
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
I'm married, with three boys. Xavier is 10, Anderson is 4 and Preston is three months. My husband is my best friend and my biggest supporter, and without him, my business wouldn't be possible. He's like the silent partner, always supporting me in the background.
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
My children inspire me the most - my life didn't really start until I had children, and they inspire me to be the best human being I can be, every day.
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 your life for anyone else but yourself.
Thanx Alyson, inspiring! Loved all your answers.