Featuring Joan Bateman-Cowan
This week’s featured photographer is Joan Bateman-Cowan of Gainsboro Photography Studio.
Where do you operate your business?
Medicine Hat, Alberta. I am also the house photographer for Couture Fashion Week in New York City.
Your Facebook page
Your Pinterest account
Your Instagram account
Your Twitter account
Nikon D3x and D3S
Nikkor 70-200 and 12-24
Processing Software (just provide the names of the one’s you use)
Adobe Photoshop CS6 and CC
Do you use any actions?
Too many to count!
Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use and plugins, etc.?
Athentech Imaging Perfectly Clear
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your ideal client is?
My studio has been in the Area since 1918 – I am the 3rd owner… so word of mouth is my main source. I do use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to market my specialty work, such as pinup parties and modeling courses.
I’d love to add any inspiring client stories you might have. Also, have you had any issues with clients that you would like to share and how you resolved them. That is always something that can hugely benefit the readers.
One of my favorite clients was teasing me after many photoshoots with her son. We finished her son’s graduation shoot. Laughing, she said, “You won’t be getting anymore of my money.” Well I answered, “We could do a boudoir shoot with you?!.” At 50 years young, she thought it to be totally out of the question. I found her comments odd considering she was a marathon runner. She had completed numerous prestigious races, the least being the Boston Marathon. A few days later, she called saying her daughter thought it was a great idea to book the session. It was a marvelous day and we shot on her acreage outside the city. Her husband was an antique car collector, so we incorporated hot rods. In the end, we designed a 36 page album. I charged her $3200.00 for the best ACI album and case. Originally she was going to give it to her husband for Christmas, but couldn’t wait. We were at a function with several couples when she and her hubby arrived. He began recounting the story of how these images had changed their marriage to everyone at the table. He told everyone they should hire me to do the same for them. He spent three hours looking at the album. A couple months later, she called to tell me she was going back to college. She claimed that the self esteem boost and confidence generated by doing the session was responsible for her decision to go back for her degree. It was inspirational to me that one side comment, made in jest, was the genesis for one woman to revive her entire marriage and life. It’s not about taking a picture, it’s about showing a person their dreams.
Do you have a “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do. Thanks.
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. Would you be willing to share with your readers what you charge for a session and what your range is for your products, like albums for instance?
My average sale is around $2500.00
Albums run approx $2000.00
My session fees are $249.00 or included in a package. I include a special PDF boudoir magazine package which I have shared above as well.
I provide a la carte and package pricing as well.
What products perform best in your studio?
Albums and wall art
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.
My studio is a large Victorian studio built to look like a home. It has a wrap around veranda and 1800 square feet of studio space inside. It also has around the same square footage in multiple developed scenes outside. I am a bit of a cluttered mess … I believe in having anything I need close at hand!
Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.
I would like to do more travel and expand to working on location for high end clientele and designers.
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
I am by appointment only. I find that if you allow for a constant stream of interruption, it benefits neither your clients feeling of exclusivity nor your ability to be creative.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?
I use a mixture of lighting outside, and inside my studio I have built in tracks of photogenic lighting. Outside I am a fan of multiple speedlights – Triton flash and Lumidyne flash systems. For headshots, I like the Peter Hurly light-setup systems, as I studied with him in NYC and in Vegas.
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 a background in hairstyling and makeup artistry as well as 15 years in psychiatric nursing, so I have a tendency to try to do it all myself, which I soon learned was just spreading me too thin.
I now collaborate with a local salon exclusively. Loyalty is very important to me. If you treat me as your number one photographer, I will treat you as my go-to artists.
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?
I have been in business 11 years altogether. I started photography as a tool while I worked as a psychiatric nurse with acute adult psychiatry in a hospital setting. I also had my own private practice in the community. I had a special interest in anorexic and bulimic issues. I developed a therapeutic technique that utilized photography to storyboard the inner emotions of my clients. I soon discovered that these same techniques are incredibly effective in creating an environment of confidence and self esteem in clients. This led me to purchase one of the most successful portrait photography studios in Canada.
I have worked for the past 4 years as the house photographer for “Couture Fashion Week,” in New York City. These events are hosted at the iconic Waldorf Astoria, New Yorker and Crowne Plaza hotels.
I also have the role of Creative Art Director for Spotlight Magazine. This allowed me to create an extensive portfolio of celebrity work and journalistic endeavors.
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
Creatives who don’t charge for their time and devalue the industry, not having enough time to edit, and difficulty giving up the creative process to outside people.
Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre? If you’re exclusive 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 am, what I like to call, a non-niche photographer – If you pay me I will create. I love all forms of photography, but my talents lie in connections . I was a psych nurse because I love illuminating the inner being and in photography I can do that in so many ways. Boudoir is all about self confidence and making the client realize their inner beauty. I love helping clients feel empowered, giddy, comedic, sexy, sweet, demure, shy, and powerful – all depending on what they need to express. It’s a very individualized process.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
If you do this for a living – Charge for it. If you don’t think your experienced enough to charge, then at least figure out what your time is worth to you, and charge that by the hour. You do yourself, your reputation, and your profession no favors by giving it away. Contract deals are still payment, but free is a devaluation of your talents and the industry.
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?
When I was younger I modeled lingerie. I found it to be a very scary and cold process. I know how important it is to make it a connecting process rather than stiff and impersonal.
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
That’s up to the client – If they are comfortable then that is what matters. Clients need to vet their togs and togs need to vet their ideal clients too.
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 bounce off my husband who is my lifeline. I also have learned to say “I can’t – I’m booked.” If I book a session I book time for editing it. Just because your camera is not in your hand, that doesn’t mean your not booked. Don’t get into the habit of staying up until 4 AM to edit – You need your own time too.
What do you love about the business?
The feedback that you get from a job well done, the satisfaction that your work makes people feel good about themselves – empowered even. I love it when i see a person repost an image a year or so later on Facebook. It makes me feel like what we created together is enduring.
What do you hate about the business?
Not enough time, pressured seasons, and photographers who take jobs that they are not prepared for. That makes the clients scared to work with another photographer again, and taints the respect people have for photographers in the community.
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
Area coordinator for NILMDTS
CAPS ( Canadian Assoc. of Public Speakers)
Sponsored speaker for ACI (American Color Imaging)
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 recently had 2 images go in the loan collection with the PPA. It felt good, but I really find it time consuming. I would rather compete for my clients by marketing in my spare time, rather than competitions I think. Albeit, I’m sure I will compete more in the future, so I guess I’m kind of on the fence on that one, ha ha.
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
Carbs, red wine, and coffee.
One guilty pleasure in life?
Carbs, red wine, and coffee.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
What’s one song on your playlist?
It’s All About the Bass by Megan Trainer
What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?
Always with Richard Dreyfus, John Anderson, and Holly Hunter
Favorite shoes to wear?
What are you currently reading?
The King James Bible every chance I get … I need it to straighten out my perspective.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Rome – the romantic scenery, the culture, and the food … Paradise! Alternatively, the Galapagos!!
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
My children’s youth…I would take way more photos of them being them and less of what they were doing.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
Well we do that a lot as I am the art director for Spotlight Magazine and my husband is the editor and journalist. We have interviewed a lot of cool people, most of the cast of The Walking Dead, including Darren Reese and Herschel/Scott A Wilson, Peter Dinklage and Lena Heady from Game of Thrones, Dr Phil, Deepak Chopra, Cher, Gwen Stefani. However, I guess if I could pick anyone, it would probably be the Queen of England and Donald Trump. I think they are fascinating.
The confidence factor is always super sexy to me.
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
Second guessing myself.
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
Widowed, remarried, with 2 fabulous grown children. My son is married with a degree in ministry and works as a youth pastor in Canada, and my daughter is a musical-theater-degreed Broadway singer and actor in NYC.
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
God and his Creations
But on a earthly level – Annie Leibovitz and Miss Aniela.
And my children … And my husband!
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be?
Connect with your spiritual side, ask questions, and be determine to find answers.