I usually feel that discussing the business end of my work with my clients is a little like pulling aside the curtain and seeing the wizard is just a regular person. The day to day operation of Stephanie McFarland Photography is rooted deeply in love and a tremendous admiration of my tiny subjects and their new families. I truly enjoy every moment that I spend with my families and I left a lucrative career to chase my dream, so if I didn’t absolutely love what I do, I would not be in the business of capturing these moments. However, businesses must be profitable, and while I think we all know and understand that, most of the time clients are not interested in that fact… and I am not, either when I am the consumer, so I try to keep those types of discussions behind the scene where they belong.
Having said that, I also think there is a time and place to be transparent in your business decisions and any time my business model changes significantly I think it deserves an explanation. When I began this business in 2010 I was a mom with five young children, the baby being just two years old, the oldest only ten. I chose the option that allowed me to deliver images to my clients in the easiest way while I tested the waters of this new venture, which was digital files on a USB. My business model was “volume” vs “custom art”. As my children grew, so did my business and I was able to commit more time to delivering what I felt was the best service to my clients, which was product sales. Every one of my sessions included products because I believe that your baby *is* a work of art and should be displayed, not hidden on a hard drive. Product sales is time consuming, so I was able to take fewer sessions, which means my sessions needed to be at a higher value. This method of doing business worked beautifully for my business, and my clients were thrilled to have collections of fine art pieces in their home.
2014 brought big changes for my family, and again with my business. After years of wishing for another baby, we welcomed our sixth kiddo into our arms, followed in 2015 by a seventh and in 2017 by an eighth and 2018 by a ninth. We are prayerfully considering who may join us in 2019 and so, after five years of a volume based business model with images being delivered via digital download, I have to slow back down to fewer sessions, which again means a higher investment value.
I understand the consumer side of business. Price increases are a bummer. As consumers, we aren’t terribly interested in the “why” because our bottom line is important, especially when raising families of our own. Of course my large family is no one’s burden to bear, but the nature of small businesses is that they are intertwined with the family behind them. I’ve seen many long and drawn out, flowery explanations given for why prices increase in other small businesses and have decided to spare my very smart clients half truths that make it seem that I am not concerned with profit because no successful business operates in a deficit. You all know that, and I do, too. So here is what that means for SMP in 2019…
- A return to product sales. All sessions will include a base product (canvas, archival prints, album)
- All milestone collections will be photographed with the purpose of display, and will coordinate to tell the story of your child’s growth
- A return to simple, classic, clean and neutral images with very limited color usage and props. The goal is for these images to last forever. Timeless.
- Each session will include ten digital files. You will choose them from the unedited images and only those ten will be fully edited. You will have the option of purchasing more, but the session will be aimed at ten core images with strong emotional impact. We will discuss in advance of your session which images are most important to you (baby, details, family) so that your session is tailored to your wishes on how we tell YOUR story.
- Newborn sessions will be $495 (this is less than my sessions were prior to 2014, so may need some adjusting but for the time being, I feel comfortable here), milestone collections will be $1200 total (newborn, six months/sitting and twelve months)
- Family sessions outside of newborns will take place only in the fall, outdoors, over four set weeks, no exceptions.
- In addition to moving away from volume, I will also be limiting my calendar to just three newborns per month.
I have expressed what that means for me: more time for my growing family. What does it mean for my clients? Because while I am sharing more of the “behind the curtain” than I usually do, I operate my business separate from my family and would not make changes that did not positively impact my families. It means:
- less turn around time on editing. Images will be delivered within one week of final selection by client (depending on product selection, delivery of products may take slightly longer)
- sessions tailored to your wishes
- less time in studio, important to mommy’s with healing bodies and families who are sleep deprived
- beautiful tangible art pieces to enjoy every day without you needing to make time to order them separately
- timeless pieces celebrating the magic of your child’s first year. We know how swiftly it passes.
I am excited about a 2019 where I can hopefully strike a balance between this work that I adore, and that I am very good at, and my family that deserves to see more of my face. I am looking forward to growing with you this year, and every year. Thanks for being such a vital piece of MY story while allowing me to tell yours through my lens. Without my business, this little girl would still be an orphan so sometimes it’s really beautiful and powerful when business and personal lives collide.