Settle In With Kelly Brown & Erin Elizabeth | Newborn Photographers

This week we have a double treat for you, and seeing as we are running the photo contest this week, we thought asking your fans to vote for a Soapbox Winner would be way too much for everyone so we’ve decided to give you an interview with 2 {two} very inspiring and amazingly talented Newborn Photographers Kelly Brown & Erin Elizabeth.!  Kelly is based in Brisbane Australia and is an amazing, award-winning photographer, also a truly inspiring business woman who you will absolutely fall in love with. Erin is a Sydney based portrait photographer specialising in newborn, baby, child, and family contemporary custom portraiture. Erin was voted as the runner-up 2011 AIPP NSW Family Photographer of the Year, and was awarded multiple national awards at the 2011 Canon AIPP Professional Photography Awards. Are you excited???? I am!!! Both have a great story to share so read on….. x

Amy: Welcome ladies to The SoapBox! We love to support small businesses across the world by giving them a free week of advertising on our blog as a featured article, but this week YOU are both our special celebrity guest stars! So Thank you so much for your time this week. We have quite a few of your fans on our site The NewBorn Posing Pod so to satisfy their hunger to know all about you both, tell us a little about yourself up until now?

Kelly: Hi Amy, Thanks for having me well, I’m Kelly Brown.  I started Little Pieces Photography just over 7 years ago after my first baby and haven’t looked back.  My home studio is in Brisbane, Australia where I live with my amazing husband (today is our 9th wedding anniversary) who has supported and encouraged me to do what I love, and our 3 beautiful children – a little girl who is 8 (going on 16) and 5-year-old boy-girl twins. After photographing weddings and family portraits for a few years I found out I was pregnant with twins.  They decided to make an early entrance into the world arriving 2mths premature.   I think it was sitting in the neonatal ward for the 7 weeks watching my babies that I realized that was what I wanted to photograph.  I loved the amazing work of Anne Geddes and had started to see so many beautiful images of newborns on Flickr.  I was inspired and up for the challenge!

Erin: I was raised in the USA (Go, Wisconsin!) and moved to Australia by myself on a whim when I was 22.  I had just graduated from a conservatory of music in the States (I am an opera singer) and wanted to find a new adventure.  I met and fell in love with my now-husband within a few months and have been here ever since!  I got my Masters in teaching music from Sydney University/Conservatorium in 2007 and was married that same year.  I started my love affair with photography in 2008 and dove into the photographic world head first while teaching music at an all-girls Catholic school.  I literally ate, slept, and breathed photography every second I wasn’t working.  I pick up things extremely quickly, and found that online forums were the best way for me to learn.  It wasn’t long before I was portfolio-building (which I did extensively before charging anything) and I officially started my business in early 2009.  I gave birth to my daughter Delilah in October of 2009, took a little business break for a few months while I adjusted to new motherhood, and then dove right back into it in 2010.  Things picked up very quickly and I am now almost busier than I can handle.  I was (and still am) on-location only, which is wrought with challenges, particularly in newborn photography.  I’m hoping to invest in a studio in the near future, which I believe will give me much more freedom to explore new roads (not to mention how heavenly consistent and reliable lighting would be!).  I am currently expecting daughter #2 (name is surprise!) in January of 2012.  We will be relocating to Western Australia shortly thereafter, so I’m looking forward to another little ‘business break / family time’ coming up soon.

Amy-Lee: Fantastic! Wow it’s always so interesting to me to see how people come to love and do photography! So tell me What are the best bits about running your own business?  & Do you also work for someone else as well as your current business?

Erin: I did work as a secondary school music teacher when I first started my business.  However after my daughter was born, I gave up teaching and focused all of my energy on my photography.  The best thing about running my own business is that I can work around my schedule as a mother.  I’m able to be there for my daughter when she needs me, and still have a successful business and working life.  It’s the best of both worlds.  In saying that, it’s also very challenging.   I often have to work odd hours (particularly for editing) and rarely get to put my feet up and relax!  Every nap time and ‘grandma babysitting time’ is spent working very hard.  I’m still searching for that perfect balance between work and family.  I think it’s one of those things that is a never-ending struggle for work-at-home mums in all fields of business.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Kelly: Definitely being my own boss, and being able to shape my business around my family so that they come first.  A few years ago I worked for another wedding photographer, which was great to learn and gain experience from.

Amy-Lee: I totally agree with you both! After talking to a few WAHP’s I get the feeling that most people are figuring out the important things in life is not just bringing in the dollar but HOW we do it as well! It feels like a working luxury, meaning you still work your butt off but you get the luxury of seeing your babies first steps and all of that good stuff. What was it that inspired you to create your business, is this your passion? I guess what I’m asking is if it is your passion and how did it develop for you?

Kelly: Being able to capture my family as it grows is really important to me, and I wanted to be able to do the same for other families. Yes, definitely, my mother always taught me to listen to my heart and follow my passion for as long as I live.   And it is so rewarding being able to share what I love doing with others. I have always loved photography, my grandfather has been my biggest inspiration – he gave me my first photography book when I took a photography class in high school.  He is so fascinated by the digital cameras we have today.  When I finished school I had to get a job to pay the bills – so I worked in hospitality, retail and as a personal assistant.  I then met my husband, we got married, had our first baby (2003) and for the first time I wasn’t working which was really quite hard to adjust to.  I started taking lots of photos of our new baby and my husband encouraged me to attend a photography class at my local TAFE college which went for 12weeks, and then after 6mths of practicing on friends and family I started to get a few paid jobs and it just grew from there.  In 2009 I completed my Diploma of photography and joined the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers.

Erin: Of course!  I wouldn’t work as hard as I do if I wasn’t extremely passionate about what I was doing.  I was fairly young when I started learning more about photography (by ‘young’, I mean 26).  It was always something that I’d been meaning to learn more about, and finally I just decided to do it.  I had no idea how much I would fall in love, and I’m so glad that I gave myself the opportunity to discover that side of myself.

Amy-Lee: Awesome I love to see people doing what makes their heart go faster! Is there anything you’d change or like to change about the way you run your business or how you started out?

Erin: Not really.  I had been on enough online forums while I was learning to know that you should never go into business until you are absolutely ready.  I think I did around 30 or 40 portfolio-building sessions (this was after I’d already done skill-building) before I started charging.  Fortunately, this was during the time when I was so obsessed with improving and learning that I didn’t mind working for free!  I still look back on some of my first paid sessions and cringe about the fact that I was charging for that level of work, but at least I know that they were technically good images.  If I could give new photographers one piece of advice more important than anything else, it would be to WAIT to go into business.  There is no rush.  Take time to develop your skills, your individual style, and your photographic voice.  Being in business is much less glamorous than it looks…I spend very little of my time actually standing behind a camera, and much more sitting behind a computer or a giant stack of paperwork!

Kelly: My business is always evolving, I’ve made mistakes along the way but have learnt from them and if I was to change anything I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I absolutely love what I do and I’m so excited to see what the future holds. I think the experiences of my previous working life have been a huge part in how I run my business today.

Amy-Lee: Thanks Ladies good points and advice! Now for Names!  Everyone struggles with the idea of naming something.  How did you come up or decide on the name of your business?

Kelly: One of my favorite sayings is “It’s the little things that make life so big.” So ‘Little Pieces’ comes from being able to capture little pieces of life. Amy-Lee : That’s gorgeous Kelly I love that! Erin?

Erin: Well I wasn’t sold on my married name, and my maiden name was even worse (no offence, Dad)…neither had the same ring to them as my first and middle name.  So that’s what I decided to go with.  I thought about having a more specialised name, but since an artist is always growing and changing, I couldn’t be sure that the subjects I was interested in when choosing my name would be the same subjects I was interested in five years down the road.  For example, if I chose ‘Cute Little Baby Bums Photography’, I couldn’t very well go into weddings, now could I?  I wanted a name that would allow me to take my business in any direction, so Erin Elizabeth Photography it was.    

Amy-Lee: Awesome I had to do the same thing… {sorry to my Dad too & Hubby…lol} So How did you both come to learn about Newborn safety for photography sessions?

Erin: Again, this is down to my online forums.  I would chat with my favourite newborn photographers to find out how they were able to achieve their results while maintaining baby’s safety.  I am very aware of baby’s safety throughout each of my sessions, and never EVER put baby in a situation in which there is a remote possibility that they would be harmed.  They are never left alone where someone can’t reach them, even if they are sleepily snuggled in the middle of a bean bag.  I always use composite shots for more difficult poses, and never put baby in any kind of container/basket/etc that could possible break, fall, or hurt baby in any way.  I believe safety should be the #1 priority of every newborn photographer.Kelly: Newborn safety has always been first and foremost to me, maybe because my own babies were so small.  And I will never forget the day I got a phone call from my sister at the hospital to find out that my two-year old niece had pulled her two-week old brother off the change table onto the floor and he had a fractured skull. Things like that definitely change the way you think.

Amy-Lee: Thank you for that info, that would be shocking! I hope your nephew was OK in the end?  I think with photography becoming so popular with wahp’s we really have to start to be very careful about newborn safety training, One thing I know  A LOT of new photographers struggle to do is price their time and talent correctly and enough to keep the market of photography a worthwhile career, How did you come about pricing your work?

Kelly: Pricing is something I get asked about a lot.  I had to ask myself – after all the years of training and the time I put in, how much am I worth a day?  How much would I like to earn a day?  Not how much do I think a client wants to pay.  I’m currently working on a new pricing structure for 2012 and I’m excited about the new packages I will be offering. Erin: Because I had spent so much time portfolio building, I started out charging professional rates.  I honestly believe this is the best way to go.  If you aren’t ready to charge professional rates (NOT $50 for a CD of images) then I don’t believe you are ready to be charging anything at all.  Not only does it attract clientele that do not appreciate your work, but it also tarnishes the photography industry as a whole, particularly when very talented photographers are under charging by a substantial amount.  As for my particular pricing, I started out offering prints only, since I wanted to be able to control the quality of my prints.  I soon found out that people today want their digital files.  Switching to digital collections was the single best business decision I have made thus far.  I offer 5×7 reference prints for each digital image purchased, so that my clients know what their prints should look like if they decide to print elsewhere.  I charge $150 for a session fee, and my digital collections range from $375 for five images to $1195 for all 20-30 images.  I have been due for a substantial price raise for quite a while now, and plan on doing so prior to my relocation next year.  I will need to find a new market anyway, so I figured I may as well kill two birds with one stone.Amy-Lee: Thank you Ladies! Erin, I’ve never thought about charging for digital prints instead of getting the prints done myself! I’ll be picking your brain about this on Thursday night’s convo! Kelly & Erin Can you tell us a little bit about your workshops?

Erin: I love teaching workshops.  As a former teacher with a Master’s degree in teaching, I find it combines my two loves (photography and teaching) more than anything else.  Unfortunately, due to the impending birth of baby #2 and my subsequent relocation, I likely won’t be doing any more workshops until the second half of 2012.  But if anyone reading is interested in more information, please feel free to send me an email to be put on my contact list for future workshops.  The last four sold out so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to advertise on my Facebook page!  It is an honour to be able to teach such lovely and talented photographers as those I’ve had the pleasure to meet so far.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future brings 🙂Kelly: My newborn posing classes are held in my home studio in Brisbane and I have one coming up in Sydney on the 26th of this month and one in Melbourne on the 11th February 2012.  They go for 8 hours and during the class we work with two babies covering the following:

•    how to create the perfect environment for your session
•    safe baby handling
•    soothing and how to keep your baby nice and sleepy during their session
•    using natural light
•    creating easy effective set ups with props and a bean bag
•    we will also go over camera technique and equipment
•    and at the end of the day post processing.

My classes are accredited with the AIPP and offer 25 CPD points and full AIPP members receive a 10% discount. More information can be found on my blog Amy-Lee: All I can say thank you, thank you, thank you so much for both of your time and I have thoroughly enjoyed both of your stories this has been fantastic and I can’t wait to have you guys on our Facebook page for Thursday nights one on one convo….with a twist 1 on 2 this week so excited to see what all of our fans reaction is for you guys… And thank you to our readers for reading and Liking their pages and I recommend getting yourself to one of these workshops or BOTH! You can’t have too much info in this business. Check out the gorgeous works of these two wonderful women in photography!

Did you Enjoy the gorgeous Images from Little Pieces Photography by Kelly Brown? Omg so Yummy!

What about Some more beautiful images from Erin Elizabeth…..Ohh all of these images melt me like chocolate…

3 thoughts on “Settle In With Kelly Brown & Erin Elizabeth | Newborn Photographers

  1. I love reading about how newborn photographers started out. As a newbie to newborn photography it is reassuring that some of the best in the industry started out in other careers and swapped over to newborn photography with such wonderful success. It reassures me that the hours spent practicing and researching such a beautiful craft can certainly pay off!

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