How to start a child photography business – Insights by Amy Cyphers
Many women are inspired to learn photography after the birth of their first child. Amy Cyphers shares her insights on how she started a successful child photography studio.
How I got started
Many women are inspired to learn photography after the birth of their first child. My story isn’t so very different. In 2006 after the birth of my first baby, Charlotte Faith, I knew I had to capture those precious toes and chubby cheeks properly so I learned everything I could about photography. I attended photography conferences, took online classes, and devoured my camera manuals from front to back. I was obsessed, and slowly improving. I eventually started taking clients and doing evening photoshoots to supplement our income and to be able to afford the next lens.
I look back on those days, nearly 11 years ago, and wonder if I would have hired me. My images were well exposed, but um, cheesy. I talked many clients into wearing matching white, black or navy shirts because I thought it looked great in a grouping. Now I think it looks like a photographed a bunch of catering companies! But they bought the images which helped me to continue to grow.
After 11 years of clients, two more beautiful babies, and maybe a million more shutter clicks, I find myself in a very different place than those early days. My style has changed and evolved. My kids have always inspired me with their imaginations. Even the mundane daily things are important for me to capture as a part of our story. I practice daily by photographing and filming our lives. We live in the country surrounded by trees, a big garden, chickens, and goats. We all enjoy nature, so naturally it’s my most used backdrop, especially in the warm evening light.
Being creative is who I am, and watching the evening light and the masterpiece of the sky each evening burst into a beautiful Kansas sunset always lights my soul on fire. My camera is just an extension of my body most evenings as I race to capture the last bit of light, which is my absolute favorite bit of light.
Expand your portfolio
The business side is very different too. I teamed up with another photographer, Kim Bear a few years ago, and together we own “The Wild Child Photography”, inspired by our kids (of course!). We mainly photograph families and kids, and have evolved to add short films to our list of specialties. We’ve found in the last few years that we both enjoy teaching as well, and we’ve had some wonderful opportunities to not only teach photography and video locally to mom’s wanting to learn how to use their cameras, as well as online.
Choose the right gear to fit your needs
Recently, after testing a couple of mirrorless Sony cameras and ZEISS lenses Kim and I have decided switched brands! This is HUGE for photographers that have been loyal to a camera and lens system for nearly 12 years. Selling and changing gear is a pain, but it’s made a huge difference for me personally and our business.
As we move our business to include more video capture, we’ve always needed some sort of stabilization rig to get usable footage. Before switching platforms, Kim and I always packed a tripod, monopod, gimbal, and halo to our client shoots. No one likes super shaky footage, and I love long lenses so it’s necessary to be as stable as possible to get usable footage. I’ll also mention I really hate hauling a tripod anywhere, and I feel like it’s a creative bubble burster trying to get set up and torn down quickly during a moment you really want to capture. Sure, shooting a wider lens helps eliminate camera shake, but it’s just not our personal preference, especially outdoors.
The first time I shot the ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 I was just planning on taking some photographs of my 11 year old (remember that tiny baby that inspired me!) for her birthday pictures. We went out to our field to “play” in the evening light. After getting some images I loved, I decided to switch to video and see what I could get, not expecting to really get usable footage when hand-holding a 135mm. To my amazement, not only was the footage beautiful and super sharp straight out of camera, it was very usable even though I hadn’t lugged around my tripod! The built in stabilization of my new Sony A9, coupled with the optical image stabilization of the ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 was a match made in heaven for me. I truly can’t get over that I can take usable and beautiful video without hauling my clunky tripod out to the field. I also was able to shoot at a low ISO the entire time, even as the sun was setting, and had perfectly sharp images. What a game changer! To say I am excited is a huge understatement!
For client sessions, I’m sure Kim and I will still bring a monopod with a quick release along for some of our video shoots, but I’m no longer worried about shaky footage like I used to be. The sharpness and stability of the ZEISS lenses makes shooting a lot more fun and I feel more creative too without clunky stabilization! Optical image stabilization featured in the Batis 1.8/85 and Batis 2.8/135 gives you clear, steady images in poor light conditions. Combined with the camera’s own OIS, it provides you the benefits of both systems. In addition, this feature also allows for perfect images without digital noise, as the ISO values do not have to be increased to compensate for poor light conditions.