Featuring Charlotte Wilson
This week’s featured photographer is the very talented southern belle, Charlotte Wilson of Envy U Photography, from Savannah, Georgia.
Where do you operate your business?
I operate out of my 2700 sqft home now. The bottom floor is very open, which provides me with all natural light to shoot the beautiful images that I create. I was operating out of a 3000 sqft studio (Studio 525C) but I have since simplified life and brought everything back under one roof. My house features 3 main rooms that I use to shoot in.
One of them, I have turned into a boudoir bedroom that features a huge mirror and white, clean, shabby-chic bedding. The other two are setup to give me different looks to shoot as well. And even though I have moved everything into my home, my clients love the fact that they can come into a warm and welcoming environment in which to be photographed.
Your Facebook page
Your Pinterest account
Your Instagram account
Your Twitter account
24-70mm, 100mm, 50 Art Lens
Processing Software (just provide the names of the one’s you use)
Lightroom and Photoshop
Do you use any actions?
Sometimes. It just depends on the look I am going for.
Do you retouch and if so can you give me a quick rundown on if you use and plugins, etc.?
I do retouch, but very little as I’m the photographer that loves getting it right in the camera on the first click vs having to do a lot of retouching to distort the images that I create. However, when I do need to retouch, I import all of my images into Lightroom, then I will tweak any that need it. I will then pull them over into Photoshop, where I use portraiture for skin softening if needed. I also use a little liquifying also when needed. After all this, I will then open them back into LR, which I then use for IPS (in person sales). This allows me the ease of narrowing them down for when my clients come back to choose there top picks. Simple yet efficient!
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your ideal client is?
I actually just market in the normal places, all social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, ext.) I also have my website and blog, which provide me with all the SEO one could need to drive traffic my way. And thanks to my web designer Ink by Envy, who has made sure it pulls the traffic I am looking for. Don’t get me wrong I do put out specials and promo codes once in a while to drive traffic as well. But what makes it worth everything is that I have my business setup so that anyone can afford me by providing payment plans if needed.
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.
Yes, I’ve had a few issues with clients and a few great stories.
One great story was about a woman who was military and her husband was military too. They didn’t get to see each other much, as he was stationed at one location and she was at another location, miles and miles apart. She contacted me because she wanted to do a session for him. She and I had such a blast during her session, laughing and carrying on. Well, she got her products and was over the top with excitement about her album. A few months passed and she called to book another session, but this time she wanted to do something totally out of the box. While in the midst of doing her session, she told me she was pregnant! We laughed and I said “I guess I cause pregnancy now too!” She wrote a great review online:
“I had an awesome experience with Ms. Charlotte Wilson during my Envy U photography shoot. It was an awesome experience not only through the great work she does, but also how friendly and easy she is to work with. I felt so comfortable and at ease.. I laughed and pretty much felt like I was at home. She is very talented and works hard to make sure she takes the perfect picture. If you are looking for someone to enhance your beauty.. Contact Charlotte, she is great!!” – Ms. A
Issues with past clients? Well, I’ve learned many lessons along the way.. NO DRUGS! If you have any alcohol, please make sure it’s minimal LOL! Also, make sure you have all of your contracts in order, even if all sales are FINAL! I’d rather not say anything bad about any past clients, even though I’d love to, because some of my stories might blow your mind! LOL. However, I do tell all of my clients “boudoir sessions are ADDICTING!!”
Do you have a “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do. Thanks.
I don’t at the moment but I am working on creating a “welcome” product for my clients when they come for their in-person consultation. It will be a book/magazine which showcases the style/look/and past clients’ experiences to our future clients. It will hopefully even include some good vendor discounts for when they go shopping for their perfect outfit for their shoot.
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?
After their shoot, we come together and choose the best date for them to come back for an in-person sale session. This is where they can pick any and all the images that they want for their products. This is also when I push their live, online gallery for them to order from as well. Once they pick out the images they want, we go over all of my products that I offer. These are keepsakes that will last forever and allow them to remember that beautiful day when they felt sexy again. My product range is from $400-1200. I carry products that fit everyone’s budgets.
If you have a PDF or a copy to your pricelist you don’t mind sharing, that would be great.
What products perform best in your studio?
I sell albums. I also offer upgrades to any packages with bigger albums, higher-end albums, or to add more images to an album.
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. As soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted by a set of french doors that are the entrance to my dinning room, which is set up as my office. It is a very clean set up which showcases some of my work. I also have areas for my MUAs to come in and prepare the clients for their shoots, as we do offer professional MUAs for each and every shoot. I do have three main rooms upstairs that I shoot in, but the bottom floor is an open floor plan that provides me with all the natural light one could want in order to create beautiful images for our clients as well. I also have the garage turned into an area for shooting. All in all, my house is 2700 sqft worth of shooting space that I use.
The only real challenge that I face is not being downtown, as I have lost two clients recently just because I wasn’t located in downtown Savannah. That does hurt, but you learn to move forward. Other than that, just finding the right pieces to use for the space I have that will hopefully give my clients something to look forward to, and be able to use in other areas as well.
What works really well for me is having all the natural light in this house that just makes my images pop off my camera. I do have studio lights but I don’t need to use them most of the time. I definitely prefer this over when I needed to use them constantly in my previous 3000 sqft studio last year. The fact that I know how to pose my clients in a way that shows off their best features works really well for me too. They are always shocked when they see their images, which makes them relax and they end up wanting to book another session. Most of my clients have already come back to me for another shoot after their first one.
Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.
Of course everyone that owns a business is looking to grow or change from their space in the future. Inevitably, the process of dreaming and hard work will make that happen.
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
No, I open and close from my first session of the day to my last session of the day.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?
Natural light is what I use in the current studio, unless I want moody images, in which I pull out my strobes (Alien Bees 800).
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 normally pay $75-$90 for hair & make up. Most of my packages have an either/or option. You can also add it on to any packages as extras.
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?
I have been doing photography since 2005. I started out doing photography after I lost my daughter in 2001. I use photography as an outlet. It helps me deal with her loss.
Did you go to school for photography or are you self taught?
Self-taught (not an easy thing either, because sometimes you eat, breath and sleep photography). Having a passion for something is hard because it will consume your life! The photography world is a lonely world. Most of your time is spent learning, editing, etc., but very little time shooting.
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?
I’ve always played around with the camera, but never pursued it until later in life.
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
My Biggest Struggle? LOL .. I would say believing in myself. I’m very hard on myself (aren’t most, LOL). I’m also really critical of myself. My issue is, how can you give someone confidence, if you don’t have it? Right? I have confidence, just not as much as I wish I had.
Finding great team players to work with starts to take a tole on you. Being single and a Photographer can tend to be a lonely world.
I work from home now, so I don’t have to really leave if i don’t want to, LOL, and it can be a bit isolating at times. So, as a photographer, it seems as if the world has shrunk. But I make all of my clients very happy, so at the present time that’s all that really matters.
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 only shoot boudoir. I enjoy helping a woman come out of her shell and to help her see what others see in her.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
The BEST advice I can give you: STUDY! Find a mentor; spend money on yourself! Such as: workshops, and not just any of the cheesy ones, but some REAL photographers. Find a mentor that knows the ropes and is able to guide you. Some photographers are catty, so keep pushing doors until you find one that will guide you in the right direction.
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 haven’t done one as of yet, but I am working or planning to in the future. I just want to find a boudoir photographer that will showcase who I am and my style.
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
I think women feel more comfortable in front of another woman, because most of the time I hear that the husband’s first question after they open the album and look at the first photo is “Who shot this?!” The couple will laugh and she will say “A female photographer, she’s great!” and then he seems to relax and really look at the album, cheesing from ear to ear!
What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?
Oh Lord yes! I hate my work most days! But I understand (so I’ve been told) it’s a process that photographers go through. I thank God for allowing me to get to where I am … and for the few close photographer friends I have.
What do you love about the business?
Being able to be flexible, working for myself, and giving to others.
What do you hate about the business?
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
I am a member of PPA
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?
Yes I do and I have won 4 awards now.
“Today’s Choice Awards”
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
It’s a southern thing, but Oxtails & Cornbread!
One guilty pleasure in life?
Guilty pleasures… Hmmm. I have to ask myself if I really have one. Perhaps teaching models. I enjoy watching them grow & learn to pursue their dreams.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Leggings 😀 I must own 100 pairs, LOL.
What’s one song on your playlist?
I don’t really have one. I just listen to the iheart pop station.
What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?
Favorite shoes to wear?
What are you currently reading?
Nothing LOL. I don’t read, unless it’s something to do with photography.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Salt Flats to do a shoot!
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
I would have taken many different roads, that’s for sure.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
Hmmm…no one. I’m simple, LOL. Just an artsy country girl, that’s it. I enjoy creating things beyond what others expect from me. I don’t color in the lines very much, LOL.
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
Being single!! Finding someone that understands what I do and why I work so hard at pushing my business. Or, trying to focus on business, when I’d rather just be shooting!
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
Divorced, I have one son that’s my world! He’s my right hand & sometimes my left one too! I’d be lost without him!
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
I guess I would say myself. I inspire myself to keep pushing forward and not giving up on life. Things have been rather hard for me, with the death of my daughter in 2001. Yet even after the fact, I’ve never given up. I’ve always continued moving forward.
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you CAN’T! If you try hard enough you can! You can do lots of things with your life! I’m proof that anyone can do anything that they set their mind to!