We’ve just had our 10th birthday. Now that all the birthday celebrations have died down, I thought I’d take a little time to reflect on the past 10 years and everything we have achieved on our journey towards the photography studio we run today.
PhotoBaby often gets mistaken for a franchise, which I suppose, is a complement. Clients call up asking for the Lancaster branch, but Lancaster is the only branch of our photography studio! We are 100% independent and local! PhotoBaby all started with a love of photography and my bump portrait, which my husband helped me create in our bedroom on Lancaster’s Lune Street.
I was pregnant with my son, and it was utterly wonderful and terrifying at the same time. My first baby, Chloe had been still born, and I was so scared that I might lose this baby too. I knew I would want to record every precious moment. His tiny toes, his giggles, all his first Milestones. I was bursting with love and I was all too aware of how fleeting life is.
And then it dawned on me that I could develop my love of photography and provide this service for other new parents too. PhotoBaby was born! Actually it was Eleanor Postlethwaite Creative Photography in the beginning, but my business advisor thought this was too much of a mouth full and I think he was right.
My son Ethan arrived safe and sound and I set to work. I had a camera and portable backdrop, a computer and a lot of willing friends to practice on. My maternity leave was spent learning how to shoot professionally, and all the while wrestling with the guilt that I should be spending more of this time with my son.
Then it was time to go back to work. I went part time, and juggled teaching art with being a Mum and getting my business off the ground.
Dipping my Toe in
Then my Mum died and I found out I was pregnant again. My Dad saw how hard I was working and agreed to let me use the studio space on his property as a photography studio. Freya was born and now I had two children under two. My weekends were spent shooting in the studio while my babies’ Great Aunties (the Graunties!) looked after them downstairs at my Dad’s.
It was a beautiful space to work in but it came with restrictions. I wasn’t allowed to put up any signage and it was in the middle of nowhere. I was running a secret photography studio!
At the time I found most of my clients through fairs and networking. Very often I was dragging clients from Lancaster. With time to get lost, it was a good hour of driving for them. To ease this a bit, I started offering the viewing presentation of their photographs at my house.
Taking the Plunge
I decided it was now or never to take the business full time. With two growing children it would only get harder to take the risk. So I took the plunge!
I also needed help. My front room was getting very busy with clients coming and going, so I took on Becky as an apprentice photographer. Little by little the business crept into the rest of the house. We had our fingers in lots of pies, we were running baby shows, helping to start the charity Tigerlily Trust, and shooting a charity calendar to help with fundraising for it.
We needed more space! So we moved to the photography studio in town and suddenly I was playing a whole new game. I had huge overheads and it was terrifying! I begged, borrowed and skill swapped to get us off the ground. Becky and I painted most of the place ourselves, the floors were laid in return for a wedding album, the viewing room was set up for a photo shoot. I was determined not to start off in debt.
Now we had all this space to play with and it was a game changer. We had ideas coming out of our ears, but suddenly not as many clients were spending with me. Their expectations had changed now I had this new studio presence, and I needed to adjust my service to match.
There is nothing like a bit of pressure to help you get things done. I spent every spare minute learning about customer service and how other studios ran their businesses. I thought hard about what I was doing and why.
- Baby photography is an act of love, a celebration and a welcome into the world.
- I want everything about a visit to PhotoBaby to reflect this, not just the photography!
Upping my Game
I got my friends to come along as mystery shoppers and then we’d speak candidly about the experience. I visualised what I wanted the perfect experience to be and I started making lists for every aspect of the studio; How to greet a client, what photos to take in a shoot, how to take them, even what topics of conversation to use to break the ice; Everything I was doing naturally, but my growing team needed to be shown.
I drilled everything down and got us focused, along the way I entered us in a few awards. It was a great way to keep us moving forward and analyse everything we were doing. Among them we’ve won EVA small business, and highly commended for EVA customer service. At some point I will enter again, and I know we’ll smash the customer service next time.
Over the years my clients have kept on coming back to me, bringing their little ones multiple times to record their special milestones – bump, newborn, learning to sit at six months, first birthday, learning to walk at 18 months. And then we’ve done it all again with the new siblings and I get to see how they have grown and the little people they are becoming. It is wonderful!
Everything about PhotoBaby is carefully thought out and has been chosen, or put in place to reflect how special this moment in your family’s life is. Life is fleeting and fragile so we have to cherish and celebrate it. Birth and parenthood are amazing achievements and I have made sure that every bit of our service reflects this. We source only the very best products, our props are all unique and hand made (often by me) and every photo shoot is tailored to the individual. Our house style is timeless and classic because we want you to get as much pleasure from your portraits when you are 80 as you will today.
The latest addition to our photography studio is the technology. We’ve invested in some fantastic viewing software that is very user friendly and makes choosing portraits so pleasurable and easy. And to ensure everyone experiences a wonderfully seamless and unique experience, no matter how busy we get, we’ve installed another very clever software. At the touch of a button we can see exactly where each client is on their photography experience and what needs to happen next on their special journey.
Now I am 10
It feels great to be 10. I’ve enjoyed looking back and thinking about how far we have actually come, and I am very excited about what the future holds. Life is good, I’ve found a great balance between work and family life and we make the most of every day. I’ve just been accepted to start an MA in photography and can’t wait to use this to push our photography to new levels. I have very big plans for the studio, so watch this space and hopefully see you soon!