Child portraiture photographer Sheri Geoffreys, of Corona del Mar, California, is driven by a passion and ability to capture images that come naturally to her, as an intuitive artist and as a mother. Natural looks and fluid compositions define her work. And a high-energy, come-to-you business model keeps her in high demand.
Creating Defining Moments
Inspired by the clean lines of Herb Ritts and influenced by her friend and mentor Dean Collins, Geoffreys sets her standards high. "My instructors said I'd have to be passionate about my work to have great images come through," she says. "For me, the reality of child portraiture is being able to make a connection, and knowing when to click the shutter for that defining moment."
Geoffreys' business model reflects her busy lifestyle as a parent, and acknowledges that her clients are busy, as well. "I refuse to let my photography get in the way of anyone's busy day," she says. "As a result, I offer to photograph children in my home studio, or I'll go to their home. After the portrait session, clients just preview the images from home on a password-protected Internet gallery I host from my website."
Convinced that people will do business with people they like, Geoffreys explains, "It's not necessarily how you do business, but who you are as an individual. The more people I can share my passion with, the more they're likely to use my services." To that end, she networks, stays involved in her community, and keeps her images in front of people.
"My presentation approach is distinctive in my area, which really helps bring in new clients. I give clients a photo book, using one of those wonderful, new color-cover offerings such as those at www.photoworks.com. The final product—a bound book of my best images—makes a very impressive presentation."
She also adds a distinctive flair to her proofs by displaying them with Showit Web software. Says Geoffreys, "Viewing a child's portraits while music plays can be very moving for parents. That emotional response means a happy customer. With Showit, parents can share the experience with others, which further spreads my images, my name, and contact info."
To further enhance portrait presentation, Geoffreys works with a well-established framer, who is also an experienced salesperson. The framer will go to a client's home with frame samples, measure the walls, and help select final print sizes. When he returns with the framed prints, he hangs them for the family. This in-home service is a primary factor in her flourishing referral business.
Direct marketing is another aspect of her marketing strategy. Geoffreys carefully selects and purchases mailing lists of families who recently had children. She contacts them via direct mail at least four times to help her distinctive photography style and branding "stick."
Keeping It Simple
Geoffreys' studio-based photography, which contributes about 40 percent to her body of work, is a model of simplicity. "The simpler the setup the better it works," she says. "One large softbox to the side at 45 degrees, and another above as a hairlight, and that's it—not even reflectors. Comfortable with the camera settings, I can go with the shoot and focus on the subject."
Window light and full shade are her favorite lighting conditions, as they let her focus on her subject, instead of on the technical. As for interacting with her young subjects, Geoffreys gets "the best expressions when I just leave the subjects alone and let them do their thing. I know when I've gotten 'the one.' I don't even have to look at the back of the camera," she says. "I'll just keep shooting until I know I have a great portfolio of images to show the client."
Geoffreys maintains that a successful photography business is one that stays abreast of the latest product offerings and technology trends.
"Look for new ways to do things and to streamline your business," she says. "Be open to everything that can help you or set you apart. Websites with flash, frequent Web updates, strong marketing, delivering products quickly with an eye for presentation. . . these things can help you create a distinctive image of yourself and your business. It's how you present your work to your clients that takes you to a higher level."
For more Geoffreys images, Visit www.sherigeoffreys.com