Infants, Images & Ideas.

💡Imagine a place online where you could search for a photographer based on location, style, skill, and who they are as a human? 🙋🏽

Erin and I discuss just that: the frustration of email trawling based on price, and the understanding that there clearly just aren't any other options.

Jannah x


Full transcript:

Erin: You can tell that they've sent it out to like fifty other photographers, and they're just going to base their opinion on who's cheapest, and I'm never gonna be that person, so I just don't even worry about it. It's fine. Whatever.

Jannah: What if there was a way, and I'm just toying around with this idea because I am hearing this feedback a lot, where it's a place where you could search for a newborn photographer based on your area, and based on a person and their work? Because I don't think there's really anything out there other than Google, and you've got to keep clicking.

Erin: No.

Jannah: It's quite a hard process for the public to go through, do you think that that might…

Erin: It's really annoying

Jannah: Yeah.

Erin: I do think that that would be really beneficial, especially if it was well known, because I think a lot of people really struggle with... and especially if it was vetted, as in like, only professionals could go on there, only people that have a good reputation.

Jannah: Hey everyone, welcome to Yarning with Jannah. Today we've got Erin from Erin Elizabeth Photography, all the way from Perth. You probably know Erin, or you've heard of her, and I'm very excited to have her on the show, and we're gonna have a quick yarn about buying cars, and taking photos.

Erin: Hey, what's up?

Jannah: So, this is Yarning with Jannah, so it's a... Welcome to Yarning with Jannah.

Erin: Love it, love it.

Jannah: So, basically a chat show where I catch up with photographers or industry partners and we catch up and we have a yarn. Really, it's just a conversation.

Erin: Great!

Jannah: See what's happening, see if you've got anything new to tell me. And yeah we just spread the videos around the world.

Erin: Great, sounds good!

Jannah: So, I've been to a lot of events that you've been to.

Erin: Yes.

Jannah: Yes, a lot.

Erin: Lots of fun.

Jannah: And we do have lots of fun afterwards, but I've never actually had to the opportunity to sit in while you're speaking, and even get to know you or anything about you, and I'm sure there's a lot of people out there who also haven't had that opportunity. So, I thought I would take the opportunity for you to tell me about yourself. Tell me all about you, go.

Erin: Wow. Well, I'm American. Clearly, you can tell by my accent. And I came to Australia in 2004 as a backpacker, and then I got sucked in by my husband who is very handsome, and I have been here ever since. So, it's been almost fifteen years now, which is crazy, fourteen years. And I lived in Sydney for eight years, and then we moved to Perth in 2012. And I had both of my daughters in Sydney right before I left. So I have two girls, they are Delilah, aged 8, and Camille, aged 6. They are a handful. Now we live in Perth, very close to the beach. That was our prerequisite with moving to Perth, you gotta love close to the beach. So we're like 400 meters from the beach, which is ridiculously beautiful, and where I photograph all my beach sessions, so it's nice and convenient. I literally just go like 400 meters down the road to shoot, which is lovely. And for those who don't know, I shoot newborns and families, and maternity sessions. And then I also speak and teach all over the world. I'm obsessed with travel, so I'm always travelling somewhere, and teaching something, and doing whatever. Little chaotic this year, but yeah that's about it. I also have a puppy, and two cats, and six chickens.

Jannah: And a new car!

Erin: And a new car that I just bought like five minutes ago.

Jannah: No way. What got you into photography? When did you start?

Erin: I started back in 2007, and it actually was kind of a sad story. I was... I mean, I've always kind of been interested in photography, but I didn't know anything about it and I wasn't really... I didn't have a camera or anything. But then in 2007, I lost my first pregnancy at the end of my first trimester, and I has so devastated. I was so devastated, it was my first baby, and I needed something to do to get my mind off of it. And so we were going on a trip to The Great Barrier Reef, and I said to my husband, "I think I'm gonna try to learn about photography," because I needed something to literally focus on. So I borrowed my brother-in-law's Canon 10D, which was pretty nice at the time-- now, not so much. I went there with that, to The Great Barrier Reef, and then just practised. I read Understanding Exposure, I don't know if you've ever read that book. Back before the internet, that was the best way to learn, so I bought that book because someone recommended it to me, and it was really amazing. Then I practiced, and I remember being like "oh my god!" Y'know that first time you can do a wide aperture and you have the blurry background and you're like, "I'm a photographer!" That was me. It was kind of before newborn photography was a thing, so I was more of a family and babies photographer. And then it wasn't until after I had my first daughter in 2009 that I then got into newborn photography from there. I always wonder what would have happened if things had turned out differently.

Jannah: Yeah.

Erin: Everything happens for a reason I guess. It changed my whole life.

Jannah: What were you doing for work before that?

Erin: I was, believe it or not, random fact about me, I am an opera singer. So I had done my undergraduate degree in a conservatorium in the States for Operatic Performance, and then I did my master's degree at Sydney Conservatorium for Teaching Music, and then I was a music teacher... I had my own studio where I taught voice lessons out of my house, as well. Then I also taught music in school, in an all girls Catholic school for two years. And then during that time... But actually I got into photography around the time that I started actually teaching, because that was 2007. And when I had Delilah, my first daughter, I gave up the teaching and just stuck with the photography.

Jannah: Wow. And was it a big jump? Did you need to have a buffer in place... or was it just a jump?

Erin: Well I just did it as a jump because I sort of combined it with maternity leave.

Jannah: Yeah.

Erin: So I left on maternity leave, and I was getting paid for maternity leave, and then I did photography while I was doing maternity leave, and then I just decided I don't want to got back to teaching. And saying that, I was lucky in that at the time my husband's income covered our mortgage and most of our bills, so I could afford to do it. If it was nowadays, where we have a much higher cost of living, for the way that we live, I probably wouldn't be able to do it that easily, so I would have to do more of the gradual sort of thing.

Jannah: Yeah.

Erin: But because I had a baby, I wasn't going to be working full time anyway. So I just kind of started off one or two days a week, and then as she got older I increased until... And then I had another baby. And I think when she was around three or four, the second one, was when I went full time and then I was full time from then on.

Jannah: And so from there, it went up. Excellent. So you're like an international sensation now.

Erin: Wow, thank you.

Jannah: Obviously, you are. Do you... I mean, you're still shooting, aren't you?

Erin: Yes. So, that's where I'm different from a lot-- well, I shouldn't say a lot-- there are speakers that don't really shoot anymore, but then they teach and all their income is their teaching. I am not that. I have a full time portrait business at home, I have my normal clients, and I actually outsource all of my teaching and workshop stuff. In that, I actually do the teaching of course, but all the other admin work, all of the taking payments, the posting, the advertising, the speaking to attendees, the organizing the conferences, everything is done by an assistant of mine. And all I literally do is show up and teach on the day. And then, on an everyday basis, I am actually doing my normal client work. Because I feel like it's important to be able to teach how to run a business because I'm doing it on my own, as opposed to just teaching how to theoretically run a business, if that makes sense.

Jannah: Absolutely makes sense. I do the same. I outsource the majority of my work, and I'm still shooting full time every single week. And that's what makes me feel good, as well. That's where my heart is.

Erin: I agree, I agree. I like my clients, I like my work with my clients. So I've shot... I think I shoot five sessions this week. Today is the only day I don't have a session, so I'm running around buying cars and whatnot.

Jannah: As you do. So tell me... do you advertise still to get clients, or do people just come to you?

Erin: I do, okay so what have I done... I tried out some things. The one thing I pay for is SEO. So I have an SEO company that helps me to get a better Google when people are searching for me. Because I get a lot of my work from Google, or from referrals. I tried Google Adwords for a while, but I didn't really feel like it was doing that much for me, so I pulled it because it was expensive. I know it sometimes works for other people, but for me I was just like, "I don't really notice that much of a difference." So, that would be the only thing I tried out. As far as Facebook and social media, I only boost or advertise for teaching type stuff, never for my client work. So, I do however... This is the first year that I won't be doing the PBC Expo, y'know the Pregnancy, Baby, and Children's Expo. I've done that every year for the last five years. But this year I decided to dedicate that money towards an SEO company instead.

Jannah: Excellent.

Erin: So like the Expo was great, when I first started here I did markets and stuff like that, when I first started. Now I've got a client base enough that I'm getting regular work and it's fine, but I don't discount any sort of marketing opportunity that I can do.

Jannah: Yeah. Do you still get knock backs?

Erin: Oh yeah, I'm always shocked when I get like, you mean like people saying "no?"

Jannah: Yeah

Erin: Yeah, I would say like 90% of people that contact me say no.

Jannah: Wow! That's huge!

Erin: I'm expensive, so they'll email, and what I do is just send them off the information, and I forget they exist. And I never think about them again, until they contact me and say, "oh yeah, we're interested in booking." And then I'll chat to them, but most of the people... Like especially... I got an email today that was something like, "how much cost for baby photos?" And that was it. And I was like, "do I even respond?" because they're definitely not gonna book me. And I know that if they lead with the, "how much is this?" That they're not going to book me. It's the people that lead with, "wow we really love your photos, we love your style. Are you available this day, blah blah blah." Those are the people that are going to book me, so I would pursue them more.

Jannah: Yeah, I hear that a lot.

Erin: I don't care at all if people say no. I'm like, "fine, whatever, got to somebody cheaper. I don't have to deal with you." I get with just the best 10% of the people that come and are willing to pay more for good service and beautiful photos.

Jannah: Yeah, and quality. I do hear that a lot actually in both the newborn industry and the wedding industry as well, is the trolling of emails, and I think people just going, "price, price, price, what's your price, what's your availability?" Yeah.

Erin: And you can tell that they've sent it out to like fifty other photographers. And they're just going to base their opinion on who's cheapest, and I'm never gonna be that person, so I just don't even worry about it. It's fine. Whatever.

Jannah: What if there was a way, and I'm just toying around with this idea because I am hearing this feedback a lot, where it's a place where you could search for a newborn photographer based on your area, and based on a person and their work? Because I don't think there's really anything out there other than Google, and you've got to keep clicking.

Erin: No.

Jannah: It's quite a hard process for the public to go through, do you think that that might…

Erin: It's really annoying.

Jannah: Yeah.

Erin: I do think that that would be really beneficial, especially if it was well known, because I think a lot of people really struggle with... And especially if it was vetted, as in like, only professionals could go on there, only people who have a good reputation. Or like that it could be reviewed or something like that, because a lot of people really struggle to find a photographer. They don't know what they're looking for, they don't know who the best is, they don't know if it's worth the extra price, and they're just confused.

Jannah: Confused, yeah. It’s difficult. Do you know what stage, within someone's pregnancy or after they're pregnant or after they've had a baby, at what stage do they contact you?

Erin: I would say that it varies a lot, but most of the people that end up booking in are at the beginning of their third trimester, so they're starting to think about it. Some people book in really far in advance, like some people are like, "I just peed on a stick yesterday, and now I want to book in!" And I'm like okay. But most of the time I would say second, third trimester, somewhere in there.

Jannah: Excellent, beautiful. And are there sometimes people that you do connect with, and you do get on really well, and sometimes the price is just too high for them?

Erin: Yeah, I get that a lot. I get people saying "oh, we just love your work so much but it's too high. We just can't afford the price." And so what I tell those people are "I totally understand, I'm not in everyone's budget. I do wish you the best of luck and I really hope that you come back someday for a session." And I have had people that have done that. That they've said it's too expensive for newborn photos, and they save their pennies and come back for a one year family session with me, because they really care about those things. And the other thing that I do for people is I often mention multiple times I do offer payment plans. So if you're interested in a payment plan, that's something that I can work out. And I do them prior to the session, or after the session up 'til four months after. So they can do weekly, fortnightly, or monthly payments.

Jannah: Excellent, cool.

Erin: So I have a lot of people take me up on that, and I increased my orders and bookings because people are like, "oh cool, we can do it, even though we don't have two grand in our pocket right now."

Jannah: Yeah, excellent. Have you heard of Album Registry?

Erin: I have heard of Album Registry, yes.

Jannah: So we work with a lot of newborn photographers who create these registries, and all their friends and family pitch in as a baby shower present.

Erin: Yeah.

Jannah: Or for like birthdays, and Christmases, and that sort of stuff.

Erin: Yeah, 'cause I do have people ask me about that. They're like, "oh do you do baby shower things" every now and then. It's a great gift, because a lot of the time if it's a second or third baby, they already have all the stuff. And what are they gonna get there? People really wanna contribute something that's gonna be special and it’s a good idea.

Jannah: Good idea, yeah. I'll have to send you through some details.

Erin: You will.

Jannah: Excellent. Thank you so much for coming on to Yarning with Jannah, what are you up to this year?

Erin: What am I not up to? I'm all over the place. So I'm going to... Next week... I just, I've already been in Europe, twice, this year. And the USA, and the Caribbean. All since January, and it is now March first. Crazy. And then next week I go teach in Switzerland, two in Paris, then I go speak at a conference in Barcelona. Then I teach in London, then fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina and I'm doing a conference there. And then I'm flying to Quito, Ecuador and I'm meeting my husband there and we're going on two weeks to the Galapagos and the Amazon.

Jannah: Woo!

Erin: Excited about it, I know. So I guess my only holiday-ish one... besides the USA and Caribbean, that was a holiday. So now, I get to do a holiday with my husband, but it's a lot of work before then.

Jannah: Yeah! That's a lot of travel. How do you stay on top of your game?

Erin: I edit on my long hauls, because I fly Etiad, and they have power source and internet, and I just sit there for 14 hours and edit the whole time. And if I'm in my hotel at night, that's what I do, I edit. Because if it's wasted time away from my family, I may as well be working.

Jannah: Yeah.

Erin: And I just work the whole time that I'm overseas. And then I come home and I'm so freaking tired, and I just sleep for about three days, and then I'm good after that. And I'm pretty much immune to jet lag now, like I just don't... My body's like, "okay, we're sleeping now? Cool." I just have like no jet lag anywhere I go, I don't think stay long enough most of the time.

Jannah: Oh, that's awesome. Thank you so much for catching up.

Erin: Yeah, no worries. Great to talk to you, and I'll look forward to hearing more about Album Registry. Thanks.

Jannah: Awesome! Alright, see ya later.

Erin: Okay bye-bye. Have a good day. Goodbye.

Jannah: Bye.

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