Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to meet Charlie Kaufman who has an honorary Fellowship of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP). Charlie is the CEO of the Click Connection Corporation, a far-reaching organization that encompasses The Click Group which is the world’s largest group of marketed portrait studios, Click Ed School of Photography and Click Props, amongst a wide range of other services. He’s also an accomplished photographer with a very successful business portfolio, so we were amazed that he had time to stop and chat to us, but we’re very glad he did. Here’s our very brief chat where he gave us some great tips on how to move into the world of new-born photography.
PortraitPro: Could you tell us what photographers need to consider when deciding to take up new-born photography?
Charlie Kaufman: Very easy, the first thing they need is training. At the Click Ed School of Photography, we have some of the UK’s top new-born baby photographers, such as Tracy Willis, Sarah Wilkes and Elli Cassidy who come in and give lovely training days to aspiring photographers.
Even very skilled photographers, perhaps from other genres of photography, who are new into new-born, need to know how to safely pose new-born babies. That’s something we’re very strong on. That’s one of the main reasons that we don’t sell any of our photographic props online.
Backgrounds we do, [sell on line] props we don’t, because from a moral point of view we like to show people how to use a hammock, rather than just sell it to anybody over the internet. We like them to see the colors, feel the fur, see the textures, which I feel you lose over the internet. Maybe that’s a downfall for our sales, but it makes us feel good that we’re training people on everything that they buy from us.
PortraitPro: Say someone has come to one of your courses and they’ve had their training and they’ve decided that they’re ready to begin shooting, what would be the kinds of props they’d be starting off with?
Charlie Kaufman: The trench bowls, which we always stock seven varieties of, are technically the easiest props to use. Hammocks, and slings are usually a lot more complex and you don’t always succeed every session in getting the shot you want. With the trench bowls, all you need is a sleeping baby, which mum can obviously assist with, and a bit of patience. Trench bowls and a 5ft square vinyl floor, can change an environment in seconds. In fact, we started a year ago, to do a little collection called the ‘Click Collection’ which gives photographers the opportunity of buying a 5ft square floor, one of our trench bowls, a mini fur to line the bowl, plus three cheesecloths and the whole package is only £160. Its easy to make that back on the first sale.
PortraitPro: That’s a great idea! A photographer could also add Smart Photo Editor or PortraitPro photo editing software to that price, and it still wouldn’t break the bank.
PortraitPro: What should new-born photographers be thinking about, to set themselves apart from the growing market of new-born photography?
Charlie Kaufman: I think what they need to do is keep their work varied. Never just to repeat the same things time and time again. I also think that, however exciting new-born art photography is, they mustn’t just rely on our props. Sometimes minimalistic, basic shots; fathers’ bare hands, arms, just gives something that is timeless. They also need to keep their props varied, not just because we want to sell more, but to stop things from wearing out. Keep buying new things, new garnishes, new little headbands and hats, just to keep each shoot different.
PortraitPro: Could you also tell us a bit about the backdrops and things you do that aren’t specific to new-born photography?
Charlie Kaufman: The background range here is huge. We have people who make cakes buying them, we have jewelers buying them to put in their windows, the British Army have used some of our flag backgrounds for officers’ mess shots; glamour photographers, fashion, every type of photography genre, dancers, ballet. In fact as you’re interviewing me, I’m watching people walking past our stand here, holding our backgrounds. They come in 3 sizes, 5ft X 5ft, perfect for babies and children, 5ft X 8ft three quarter length and the maxi size which is 7ft X 9.5ft easily big enough for family portraiture. We have over 200 varieties and we’re adding to that every quarter with another 20+ styles.