Located in Los Angeles, California US
Tell us about yourself. What do you love doing in your spare time? What inspired you to newborn photography and do you photograph other genre’s in your business?
I live in Los Angeles with my husband, 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son. I grew up on a small island off the coast of Cape Cod (Nantucket), but have called Los Angeles my home since 2001. I photograph both newborns and families. When I had my own children I skipped the newborn photographs because I (mistakenly) thought that newborn portraits had to mean lots of props and complicated posing. I also heard the same from a lot of my family clients who came to me with older babies. I started photographing newborns because I wanted to provide my clients with the type of newborn photographs I would want of my own babies!
How would you describe your photography style? What inspires your work?
Words I use to describe my newborn work are simple, natural and minimalist. I think the absence of all the extras (props, outfits, etc) let’s my subjects come through a little louder. Newborns are perfect and awe-inspiring on their own and my job is to capture that. Each of my portraits has 3 main components: light (usually side-light), composition (I LOVE negative space to capture teeny tiny these babies are) and posing (natural and curly). I also like to bring in connection with parents’ hands and of course the detail shots. As a mother I know that no matter how many hours you spend staring at your newborn the memories do fade. I want my clients to be able to look back on these images and bring back all those memories of the first couple weeks.
Who has inspried you and how did you first come across their work?
Nowadays there are lots of talented newborn photographers creating more natural newborn portraits. I’ve been inspired by so many of them and most of them I’ve found on Instagram. In no particular order…
Lindsay Erickson (Tails and Wings)
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a newborn photography business?
I think when you’re handling newborns the very first thing you need to check off the list is safety. Taking a photographer-specific newborn course is imperative. Speak with a pediatrician about what vaccines you should have (for example, where I live a MMR booster was recommended this year because of recent measles outbreaks).
What camera do you use? What are your favourite lenses and what’s typically in your camera bag?
I shoot with Nikion primes. I primarily use my 35mm for newborn only shots, 50mm for the family shots (if I have the space I’ll use my beloved 85mm) and a Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED for my macro/detail shots.
What is your favorite place to hold sessions and why? Where do you photograph most of your sessions? (in studio? on location?)
I have a studio space in my home, but photograph most of my sessions in client’s homes. I find that my clients really appreciate not having to pack up and leave their home. It makes for a much more relaxing experience for them. I always work with an assistant for my in-home sessions.
What (if any) photography training, mentoring or workshops have you taken?
I studied photography in high school, college and post-college with a few classes at Otis College of Art and Design. I have been shooting consistently since my teenage years (starting with film and the shifting to digital). When I began doing more posed newborn work (as opposed to the lifestyle newborn and infant sessions I was doing prior to that) I found courses on Creative Live and Click Photo School really helpful. I’ve done a lot of online workshops through those two sites and have pulled little bits and pieces from various ones to fine-tune my workflow. At some point I would love to do some in-person workshops, but I just haven’t had the time yet!
Tell us about starting your business, and what played a key role in developing a profitable income.
Like so many photographers I started my business while also parenting full-time! It was a big learning curve and I was relentless with my research. I remember nursing my baby and reading photography business blogs at the same time. I studied photography in high school and college and never stopped shooting, so I didn’t need a lot of education when it came to technical aspects of photography. I did, however need a lot of help learning how to run a business! I switched to IPS (in-person sales) very early in my career and I think that has a lot to do with my success and sustainability.
Growing pains: tell us about some of your challenges you have faced in your business, and how you overcame them.
Starting your own business – especially a profitable one! – is not easy. I think I ran into the same challenges in the beginning that lots of photographers do. The biggest mistake I made when I started was underpricing myself. We all know that creating portraits is so much more than what you do on the day of your session. It can be tempting to look around at what others are charging and copy them (or, worse, try to undercut their pricing). The best thing I did for my business (other than switching to IPS) was to properly price myself. In order to do that I really had to look at my business and account for ALL my expenses and ALL the time I devoted to a session. Even after raising my prices I was feeling overwhelmed and burnt out by the editing and retouching. While creating photographs is second nature to me, the editing and retouching was not and it was a painfully slow process. I spent a lot of unnecessary time learning photoshop and still wasn’t very good at retouching. Once I outsourced my editing and retouching I was much happier. It also allowed me to level up my customer service because I had much more time to look after each client!
What should clients expect when working with you?
My approach to photography is very customized and high-touch. I want to help my clients get the images that they really want (they’ll be living with them for the next 50 years, not me!) and make sure they have a tangible way to enjoy them. Every one of my newborn sessions starts with a phone consultation so that I can walk my clients through the process and ask some questions to make sure I’m delivering the images they are most excited about. For clients planning to purchase artwork I do an in-home consultation prior to the session and bring samples of all the gorgeous products they can choose from. For my newborn clients especially I make sure that the session is not a source of stress. That means I provide help with wardrobe and detailed prep information before the session. During my in-home sessions I work with an assistant so that parents can relax for most of the time I’m there. It can be a nice break for them! Here is the information I provide on my site for what to expect:
The Comforts of Home
The days after baby is born are like no other. We know what those days (and nights) feel like, and we want to help you stay in your “baby bubble” as long as possible. That’s why we bring our complete newborn set-up to you. We’ll photograph your baby in the comfort of your own home so that you can concentrate on what’s important – taking care of baby and yourself.
Your session is thoughtfully planned and designed to be an enjoyable and stress-free experience. In fact, our clients usually tell us that the session was a lovely break for them!
We give you all the help you need to prepare yourself and baby for our time together and ensure beautiful images.
We follow your baby’s lead when posing and make her safety and comfort our top priorities. We follow baby’s rhythm and never impose a time-limit on your session.
We believe wholeheartedly in the power of print and the treasure of a family heirloom and provide a carefully curated line of exceptional artwork for your home.
Our offerings include heirloom albums, framed fine art prints, fine art canvases, matted print collections and birth announcements.
We also offer inclusive digital sessions.
Please inquire for full product & pricing details.
Peace of Mind
Your baby’s comfort and safety are our first priority. We follow your baby’s lead when posing and make sure that your newborn is always in a safe and comfortable position.
Ariel is up to date on all vaccines, including Tdap (Whooping Cough), Flu & MMR.
Ariel is a member of the NAPCP, PPA, and is certified in Newborn Safety with the APNPI.
Ariel Cannon Photography is a fully licensed and insured business.