Maria's having trouble posting, so I said I would do it for her. Let's hope this works...
I thought it was about time I introduced myself, rather than being a lurker! Firstly, thanks so much about the lovely comments about my photos and website.
Quick few words about me - mum to Isabelle, 5, have been a photographer for just over 4 years now. I set up my business after taking my daughter to Portrait Studio in Debenhams, and having a rather rubbish experience.
The studio staff and the photographer were quite rude and it was very much a "production line" attitude, where they couldn't wait to take some snaps and get rid of me. It wasn't cheap either. When I came back for my viewing it was a case of buying one picture for a silly amount, or getting about 15 - for a price that was high, but it made sense as it was a good deal ( what on earth would you do with that many pictures?). But anyway, I looked at my pictures on the wall for about a month,and basically I just really did not like them. They were not properly in focus, they had ugly shadows and the frames were fairly grim too, with no proper glass, just plastic. I also didn't relate them to anything happy either, as i really did not enjoy the session. They came down off the wall, and I decided I can do better , especially as photography was already a hobby anyway.
The rest, as they say is history. I am quite an obsessive person, and pretty much self taught. The last 4 years have been extremely hard work, and basically blood sweat and tears, but I achieved a lot, including getting properly qualified and winning the UK Portrait Photographer of the Year at the British Photography Awards. My aim was always to provide a service that I would have wanted when I went to get photographed that day with Izzy. As new mum I wanted someone with empathy and who knew what they were doing with children, as well as someone who gave a damn about what the actual end result will be like! I realize my prices are not for everyone, but the quality of product and service is next to none. I never book more than 2 sessions in a day, which means that there is no limit on the session times, and it's not unknown that a newborn session goes on for a good couple of hours! I work from home, I have a purpose built studio with lots of natural light. The studio is baby friendly, with toys , nappies, a changing station and toys. I don't mind if your baby wees, poos or is sick - that's normally part of the session! I don't rush anyone, and I don't sell to anyone. My attitude is very much that if you come to me you obviously want some pictures, and if you love them, you will buy them.
I have heard such bad reports about hard sell, and I am really opposed to that , it's just not my style. More than anything I actually really care - I want you to enjoy the session, to love your pictures, and to recommend me. I don't advertise, and pretty much 100% of my customers have come from referrals, so it is very important to me that you are happy. I have loyalty scheme, where if you refer someone to me and they have an actual session and place an order , you get a complimentary 10" by 8" print. This applies to non customers too. I had one lady that I kept getting referrals from and i hadn't even met her, and my the time she came for her session I already owed her six 10 by 8 prints!
Anyway, I digress. The hardest thing about being self employed and having your own business is making people aware of your existence. I stumbled across this forum and thought it would be great to put post up and advertise what I do. But I didn't want to do that unless I did something for Louise in return, and hence the banner and the session I did with Felix. I wanted Louise to come to the studio , meet with her so she could confirm that I am genuine. You can access Louise's gallery on this site www.mariamurray.co.uk/onlinestore
. To enter Felix's gallery please just enter the password which is "baby". The gallery contains the images I took at his session and are typical for what i would take at that age.
For younger or older children please check out my blog www.mariamurray.typepad.com
. The right hand side has the different categories, for example if you wanted to see some newborn images, or even some of my little munchkin, Izzy Bizzy. Please feel free to make comments, I would love to make the blog more interactive. I will be sorting out a link from my blog to this forum soon, so hopefully some of my existing customers will join on here!
So here I am, and this leads me onto the next point. I know some of you are thinking "yes great nice pics, but not in my price range", and this is feedback I do get quite often. However because of the time spent in each session, and the work that goes into the shoot (editing, burning a slideshow, putting it all online , the actual session time - so about 5 hours in total), I have no choice but to charge what I do. I am about 30% cheaper than Venture, and can offer pretty much anything they can.
However, I will be doing a limited number of "Taster Sessions" ( probably just 2 this year) and wanted to make you aware of those, as they may be of interest. I am possibly looking to do one of those in the Southend or Basildon area, if there is enough interest.
The details are
*set session time of 15 minutes ( rather than the usual unlimited)
*approximately 12 proofs to choose from ( rather than 30-40).
*Limited to 3 children in any one picture, no adults ( the portable background wouldn't accommodate any more)
*all the pictures from the day would be posted in the same gallery within 48 hours from the session ( normally you get your own gallery)
COST: t Â£99 for four 10" by 8" prints (in folders), rather than the usual Â£195.
To reserve the slot the cost would be Â£25 , fully redeemable against the Â£99 but non refundable if you don't show on the day.
I would be looking to hire a hall for the day, but only if there is enough interest....I would need a recommendation for a hall if anyone has one! Also, would like to know if a weekday or weekend would be best.
I will be doing the other taster Session in the Romford Area, more likely than not in Gidea Park. I already have about 15 ladies who want to do this one, and the max I can do in one day is 20 so please let me know if you are local and would prefer that.
And in case anyone is wondering, your pictures would be just as nice as if you came for the full session! I am not cutting out any quality. But i wanted to think of a way to make this accessible for more people and the only way to cut the cost of the pictures was to cut the amount of time i would spend on the whole process in the first place. I suppose the only disadvantage is if your little one doesn't want to cooperate on the day, we won't have time to do what i usually do i.e have a play with them and give them time to get to know me etc. . But I am pretty good with little ones, and don't tend to get to many issue, although my singing scares them sometimes ( yes i would do anything to get you a great image lol !)
Anyway, if you have done so well and actually got to the end of this post, then any feedback, comments, positive or negative would be welcome and appreciated!
Take care Maria
p.s. although I specialise in babies & maternity, I also do older children, families, weddings, pets and anything else you can think of ( within reason lol)
I will be posting this in the chat section too, as per Louise's suggestion - thanks weezypops!