Featuring Judy Cormier
Your Twitter account
What most people want to know is how you market to your clients. Have you qualified who your is your ideal client?
My ideal client is a woman. Age is just a number. I find that any age needs what I do. It’s not a matter of it just being a luxury, so I do run Groupons regularly to make sure I hit a broader market. I keep them a little higher priced and offer only a couple of digital files so that there is hard cost to me. That market then allows me to expand based on the ladies coming in. I don’t like to pigeon hole what I do to a particular age, size or income bracket because to me, they are all potential clients.
I’d love to add into the article any inspiring client stories you might have. Also have you had any issues with clients that you would like to share how you resolved them. That is always something that can hugely benefit the readers.
I’ve had so many inspiring stories, but the one that always gets me the most is from women that have such low self worth. They come in and they bash everything about themselves. What is the most uplifting thing are the notes I receive afterwards about how the photos made them feel. How they realized they are beautiful and that they will never forget the experience. Ultimately we all want to think this is what we do, but hearing in words from a client makes it a reality.
I’ve definitely had my share of difficult clients. Again, too many stories to tell, but if there’s one piece of advice I can give it’s …. Finish it and move on. I no longer beat myself up over clients that I couldn’t please. The reality is that out of every 100 women you photograph there will always be a few that upset the apple cart. I reflect on the good ones and forget about the bad. Makes me a much happier and positive person, and better ready for the next client that walks in the door.
Do you have a “welcome” product you give the clients and can you share that if you do. Thanks.
I have several things that I send the client. An opening email with info, including my pricing PDF which I’ve provided here for you to download and view. I then have multiple emails with information on prepping, I use Pinterest to help clients mold ideas on their shoots. And I am in constant contact with them leading up to their big day. I think it’s better to provide clients everything in pieces over time before their session, because they then tend to read it and pay attention.
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.
Just a month ago I moved into a live/work arrangement, after having a separate studio for almost 5 years. It’s still a very separated space with the studio portion on a separate floor, but I’m enjoying being back in a live/work situation. It is definitely a preference for me as I always did that when I was primarily a wedding photographer.
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
Yes I work Tuesday-Saturday with all session starting at 11 a.m. I shoot a maximum of 3 sessions a week.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What’s your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting, if any?
I use both. I have styled sessions different for both so that I can sell additional sessions to clients. It’s a good way to keep them coming back.
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 two stylists that I work with that both do hair and makeup. They are awesome ladies that I’ve worked with for the last 3 years. I would be lost without them. Their rate is $175 for the first look, $125 for the second look, $350 if the client wants them there all day.
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?
It’ll be 17 years this coming January. Previous to this I was an Executive Vice-President, Communications for a large risk insurance company. I LOVE working for myself 🙂
Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?
I’m 100% self-taught with just a few night classes.
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?
It came later in life, although I have always done “creative” things like sew, draw, knit and take photos. I just never considered it a career until my late 30’s and I really needed to get out of the concrete jungle.
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
Everything is a struggle at different times. I’m single, so worrying that I have money for my retirement, having no benefits for extended medical/dental, things like that are always upper most in my mind. But I don’t dwell and I know these are all things that go into running your own business.
Taxes would be the one thing that I hate the most (doesn’t everyone), so I let someone else do those 🙂 Struggle gone!!!! LOL
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 shoot primarily boudoir now, but started as wedding photographer. So I still do a few weddings here and there. I also shoot some children’s portraits and I absolutely love photographing pets. I just don’t advertise that side of my business. If clients call, I shoot it and enjoy the change of pace, but my main business centers around portraits for women.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
There is no fast track to success. You have to be a good photographer, understand business and be great at customer service. Remember that everything you do and say reflects on you. YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS.
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?
No … I honestly have no interest in doing one. Of course, like most, I hate having my photograph taken, but essentially I just don’t feel the need. 🙂
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
It’s pretty ridiculous to me. I think anyone can learn to relate to a client and provide great service, male or female.
What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?
Yes, it happens typically January/February for me. I have considered closing my business. I just felt that I was working and getting nowhere. But I am still going strong and have made some changes that have had a positive impact on how things are progressing, so I’m still in the game and don’t imagine that will change for a while!! At least for now!!!
What do you love about the business?
I love seeing the photos. I still get excited to pop that card in the reader and pull up those images. I never tire of that. When I started I was film, and I remember getting the proofs back from the lab … it was the same feeling. It’s seeing what I could create with my camera that still excites me to this day. I don’t know that this will ever change.
What do you hate about the business?
I don’t know that there is anything I hate. I actually do enjoy the business side of things … okay I hate taxes, but other then that I enjoy all of the other aspects of my business. I did just over the last two years hire a designer for all of my printed materials, logo and website, because ultimately she was able to really pull it all together to create a brand. Sometimes the hardest thing is admitting that I can’t do it all!!!
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 a member if AIBP, WPPI, MPIO and SWPP. I think that there are tons of benefits to being a member, but you get out what you put in. Any organization is always going to be like that.
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 compete in many competitions. I have won numerous weekly contests with AIBP, one of my images made the Queensberry best of AIBP. I feel strongly that if you don’t compete you can’t improve. It’s a great way to understanding your own work more.
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
It’s not food, but I looooooove Diet Coke!!
One guilty pleasure in life?
BINGO … yep I’m a little old lady sitting at the bingo hall winning money. Yes I win all the time. I actually enjoy the fact that it’s a no brainer way to wind down and just sit and enjoy the company of my friends.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Yoga Pants … best invention ever
What’s one song on your playlist?
Take Your Time … I have the SOS version and Maximillion version
What’s your favorite movie genre? Example?
Sci-Fi … I’m a geek and nerd at heart.
Favorite shoes to wear?
I live in my Nikes
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I was actually just talking to friends this weekend about how much I want to go to Dubai
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be?
I’d have started in this crazy business earlier, but other then that, what came before taught me today, so it’s all good.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why?
Oh that’s a tough one. I think I’d like to photograph Queen Elizabeth. She’s such an amazing lady.
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related)
My weight. It’s a constant, never ending struggle.
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you?
No kids, unless you include my dog Gracie. I’m single and don’t regret it. I like kids as long as they go home with their parents!!! 🙂
Who inspires you the most in life? Work?
People in general inspire me. I find sometimes the kindness of strangers inspires me more then anything. It’s seem people overcome struggle and persevere that gives me hope.
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person’s direction in life, what would that be?
Don’t rush through life. When we are young, we want to get older, earn more money, be something more. You forget to be what you are at that moment. Enjoy and savor every day. Before you know it you’ll be going on 55 and wondering were the heck the time went (that would be me, by the way).