This week I had the privilege of interviewing Jessica Grieves, of Bubblegum Tree Photography, and the author/designer of the new Photographer’s Kickstart program. And as a BONUS – we also have a contest where you can win the Kickstart Training Module. Scroll to the end of the interview for contest details and your chance to win. If you have ever dreamed of teaching photography, now is your chance to make an impact and money at the same time.
Jessica, tell us about your photography studio? How long in business? What type of photography?
- I started my photography business just about four years ago when I was pregnant for my second child. I had not gone back to work after the birth of my son and was looking for something creative I could do stay active. I specialize in newborn and preschool age casual outdoor photography although I will occasionally pick up an engagement session or band photo just to mix things up. About three years ago I also added in teaching beginner’s photography classes which has been great fun! I am currently working mainly on-location although I do share a loft space downtown with some other businesses for times I need to meet with clients or need a starting point for urban photo shoots.
What was the moment you knew you were meant to be a photographer?
- I never really had an “ah-ha” moment where suddenly I knew. After the birth of my son photography was so much more important to me and like everything I do, I did it 110%. I went to workshops and classes and studied online so that I could improve my technique and my technical know-how. I started out really just wanting to take better pictures of my own family and stumbled into a photography business. There are few things I can think of that are as important as having photographs of your family – both portraits and candid – that can be reflected upon as time marches on.
How did you get started teaching photography classes to moms?
- A few years ago I was asked to be a guest speaker at a mother’s share group in my area to talk about taking better pictures of your own children. For that talk I developed my “10 Tips for Photographing Your Kids” which worked out to be about a one hour talk. Perfect for a mom’s group. After I gave that talk to a couple of other moms groups, I started getting email requests to offer a more detailed class that went over how to use their cameras too. Given the explosion in DSLRs and that the price to attain one keeps going down, more and more moms have these “fancy” camera and use them essentially like a point and shoot. I met with a few moms that were interested in learning more about how to use their camera as a focus group to find out what they really wanted to know, and built a class around that.
- I make between $250-$800 for every three hour class I teach – and the best part is that now that my materials are created, I spend almost no time outside of the class doing prep work which means my hourly rate for a class runs from $60-$200/hr depending on the number of participants in a class and including travel time. Figure out your hourly rate for a portrait session and for most of us, this is a GREAT add-on income (I usually consider $45/hr my “take home” from a portrait session so I love the classes because it works out to a higher hourly rate in most cases).
How long have you been teaching and how has the class changed?
- Back before I was a photographer, I actually traveled the country teaching a programming class and then started working internally for another company teaching their staff how to use new software we were implementing so the teaching part comes naturally to me. I’ve been teaching this beginner’s photography class in some form for the last 3 years. I’ve updated the slides over time as I see areas where I get a lot of questions or that are topics that are harder to understand. I also recently added in some more advanced topics for those moms that are maybe a little ahead of the pack.
What is the Photographer’s Kick Start: Training module?
- Over time I had a number of photographers contact me to ask me questions about my training materials and formula for pricing my classes. When it got to a the point where I had multiple photographers asking me in the same week, I knew there was a need for a product to help get them started in creating their own training program. To be honest, I think the biggest hurdle in creating a beginner’s photography class is putting together the class materials. I know I spent considerable time coming up with an outline and building a presentation. It is much easier to customize something to use for yourself, than to start from scratch. There was a huge trend in photographer’s offering classes to moms as a way to generate extra revenue – especially during those months where portrait sessions are light. January was a HUGE month for me for photography classes because it seemed everyone got a new camera for Christmas. So I went back and took a hard look at my training materials, and from there built a full product that photographers could purchase to use as a foundation to offer photography classes.
Who is the Photographer’s Kick Start: Training module designed for?
- The package is designed for photographers who want to start teaching photography classes to moms in their market. The materials include a 55+ slide Powerpoint (and Keynote) presentation with detailed speaker notes covering tips for photographing your children, the elements of exposure, the basic camera modes, and lenses in addition to the advanced material covering shooting in Av mode, manual mode, and changing your focus point (the three areas I am most frequently asked to cover when I teach advanced classes). In addition, all the PSD files for the slide background and all the diagrams are included so you can customize them to match your branding. And there are additional materials to help you with pricing, marketing, and customizing the materials for different audiences. The materials can be completely used as they come but I recommend that you personalize them with your own family photos to make it easier for you to talk about the photos.
What is the price of the Photographer’s Kick Start: Training module?
- The retail price for the materials is $299 and includes a one year listing in our online photographer’s directory at iwanttoshootmykids. The directory is already sending potential customers to photographers offering classes. However, readers of the MCP Actions site can use the discount code “mcpactions50” to save $50 off the retail price. You should be able to make back the purchase price with your first class.
And now for your chance to win! CONTEST DETAILS!!!
To enter: Add your comment to this interview post (not on Facebook) and let us know why you might want to teach basic photography skills to new camera users in your area. The winner will be picked at random on Sunday. If you decide to buy now, and you win, your purchase price will be refunded!