Photographers Who Inspire | Aly Marie Photography

Week three of our Summer Series brings us out to the Midwest, featuring an insightful interview with Aly Chipman from Aly Marie Photography.  When it comes to newborn posing there are few who surpass Aly’s expertise and commitment to the art.  Please welcome Aly to the IMB Photographers Who Inspire series.

 

Who or what was your original inspiration when you started your business? Who inspires you now?

I found my passion for photography right after my son was born in November of 2009. I was determined to find a way to capture him in the moment and cherish these precious times! He has inspired me in every way! I fell in LOVE with photographing newborns right after I photographed my first bundle of joy! I began digging deeper into the art of newborn posing, exploring how to pose babies so perfectly and keep them safe at the same time!  Who inspires me now….? Is it okay to say EVERY pregnant mother I walk by? :-)  This has been an exciting and amazing journey so far! I feel very fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to capture God’s little miracles!

What was the hardest part of starting your own business? What do you wish you would have known?

Building a portfolio was fairly easy because everyone wants free pictures!! lol… BUT, when I became ready to venture into actually building a business, it became harder! Structuring myself and doing constant math trying to figure out what to charge… This was a constant headache and struggle!

I finally found a book called “Easy As Pie.” I HIGHLY recommend this to ANY photographer just getting started… Or even a photographer who feels the same way I did about pricing! It helped out a lot and it was a quick and easy read! I’m not a reader, but I very much enjoyed this book and it helped me!

You specialize in maternity and newborn session. Have you always shot newborns? What has been your biggest challenge in capturing beautiful newborn images?

I very much enjoy lifestyle photography, however my bread and butter lies with expectant mothers and newborns! The only thing that I have yet to conquer is a wedding and at this point in my career, I don’t plan on taking any part of weddings! :)

I wouldn’t say that capturing a newborn image is challenging… It requires A LOT of patience, knowledge and skill to pose ANY newborn baby! Yes, some newborn babies sleep better than others, therefore the session is shorter and I may leave the session with more images… A baby who doesn’t sleep, or a baby who is easily disturbed requires just as much patience as a baby who sleeps during the entire session! I never rush thru a session! I usually wrap the baby who doesn’t sleep and improvise with my posing! Baby usually falls asleep eventually at some point during the session, and this is when I move to other poses.

My favorite time to shoot a newborn session is between day 7 and 9. This is just enough time for the parents to get home and for the baby to become comfortable with his/her surroundings! I have found that if baby comes for his/her session too early, you may come across small hurdles. For example, baby still may be learning to nurse or baby boy may still be irritable from his circumcision.

Your style differs from many photographers because you’re not a natural light photographer. What are some of the main differences in being a studio light photographer?

Once upon a time, I was a natural light photographer! I still very much LOVE natural light and I still play with natural light when shooting a maternity session… for example, when I pose an expectant mother in front of a window (like shown in the above picture). However, 99% of my newborn sessions are photographed with studio lighting.
I would say that the biggest difference for me is consistency in my lighting. With studio lighting, I always have the same light, whereas with natural light, one day it might be sunny and the next day it might be cloudy. I don’t have to worry about the sun deciding to peak in and out… This results in changing settings within your camera frequently. Which isn’t a HUGE deal, but I feel like my images look more consistent when using studio lighting!

What was your original gear and when did you start upgrading your equipment?

My first camera was a Nikon D40 purchased in April 2010. This didn’t last long as I transitioned to a Nikon D90 in June 2010 and I also purchased the 50mm 1.8 lens. Less than a year later, I found myself upgrading to the Nikon D700! This was a scary jump, however I can’t be more thrilled with the upgrade! My husband made constant jokes that I would be upgrading again soon, as I crossed another year mark in May, however I can honestly say that I am very pleased with my D700 and don’t anticipate upgrading any time soon!

When shooting newborns, I use my 50mm 1.8 lens. I typically keep my aperture at about f/2.2-f/2.8. I also use my macro lens!
I use an AlienBees B400, a CyberSync Transmitter and Receiver, and a the 86″ PLM Umbrella System. I ALWAYS do a custom white balance prior to starting every newborn session and I do a new custom white balance when switching colors or transitioning to a new prop setup.

As a studio light photographer, how does your equipment differ from a natural light photographer? What equipment could you NOT live without?

A natural light photographer would only need a window, opposed to the lighting equipment. The placement of the lighting equipment serves as my “window.”
Some people have trouble noticing the difference between natural light and studio lighting.

Photoshop or Lightroom? Or both? How long does it take you to get your proofs to your clients? How does studio lighting affect the editing process?

I use both Photoshop and Lightroom in my post processing. My average turn around time is roughly 2 weeks from the date of the session to show my client a gallery.

How do you break the ice in the beginning of a session?

When my client arrives, I usually start by asking a few basic questions:
1. How are you feeling? How are you doing?
2. How is baby doing?
3. Don’t you just LOVE being parents?
Then I talk about my son some! This seems to help a lot!

How many photos do you typically take in a full session? How many do you edit, and do you ever show your un-edits to clients?

My typically newborn session yields around 200 or so images and then I edit roughly 25-30 images. These are the images I put in a gallery and then I schedule an appointment for my client to view their images in person. This also gives them the opportunity to see all of my products in person.
As of lately, I have considered switching to ALL digital and going online ordering but at this time, all newborn clients also have in person ordering sessions approximately 2 weeks after their baby has been photographed.
I do not show a client my un-edits. I actually purge images I choose not to edit so it’s not an option to go back and look at un-edits.

Do you have an assistant or a famliy member?

At this time, I do not have an assistant. In the future, I will be hiring out my editing.

With the demand for digital images on the rise, do you offer them as part of your packages for your clients?

All of my package options are digital. This is the most commonly asked question when I receive an inquiry! I have no problem offering digital files to my client, as this is what I also want when I schedule my yearly family session.

Can you share a story of a difficult shoot and how you handled it?

I have had a couple difficult sessions. A difficult newborn session usually means the baby wants to stay awake during most of the session. When this happens, I do a lot of wrapped shots until baby falls asleep! There has only been one time where I had to reschedule a newborn session for the next day! He was a completely different baby the next day! I find it very true that newborns can have “off” days just like adults!
when I have a tougher baby, it’s also a good opportunity to put my macro lens to use! Sometimes baby will appear to be sleeping soundly, but this isn’t always the case when you go to transition to the next pose! The image below is an example of this! You would never guess he wasn’t in a deep sleep in this image!!

How do you handle family and close friends who want to hire you? Do you offer any discounts?

I have a few family and friends who consistently use me as their photographer! I do offer a small discount or in some cases, I do a partial trade… For example, with my hair stylist! :) This is something many photographers struggle with! Offering FREE pictures to friends and family…
I recently seen another photographer post an ECard on facebook! It said “I will shoot your next project for free, if you agree to pay all my bills next month!” I think this is very well said! This is our livelihood and even photographers have bills to pay, overhead costs and a family to provide for! :)

What is one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?

I have a Golden Doodle named Brody who often poses for me when I am bored at home! I usually get the “not again” look… but he’s been posing for me since he was 12 weeks old so he is used to it by now!

Name one person you would love to photograph.

I don’t have one person who I would LOVE to photograph… BUT… I am IN LOVE with one photographer and her gorgeous photography! Once my family is complete, I hope to fly Meg Borders with Meg Borders Photography to me so she can capture my family!!

My family + evening sunlight session + Meg Borders would make one GORGEOUS canvas on my wall!!

What is on your “Bucket List”?

I would LOVE to go to Europe with my family!
I want to go scuba diving!
Would love to visit Iceland!
And of course, be Kansas City’s most sought after newborn photographer!

Aside from this wonderful IMB interview, what has been your proudest moment in your business?

One of my images was nominated “Best Newborn Photographer” for July 2012. That was a proud moment for me! Pretty cool!
Another proud moment was when I moved into my studio!

Name two photographers you would like to see IMB interview.

Tiera Faith Photography! She would be a good one to interview on juggling time management! She has a little girl and is about to have twin boys. The way she runs her business will soon change due to becoming a family of 5, instead of a family of 3!

Brooke G Photography! She also just had a baby! She may be a good one to interview because she lives in a really small town!! She could help out other small town photographers!

They are both newborn photographers!

 


I am a wife to a wonderful supportive husband and a mother to an amazing energetic little boy! My husband and I own a construction company and we also own Aly Marie Photography!

I have always had a passion for children and went to school for Early Childhood Education. My biggest passion lies in newborn posing! I fell in love with capturing newborns soon after I photographed my first bundle of joy!

This has been a monumental time in my life and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the enormous amount of encouragement from family and friends. I have not only found something that I am sincere about, but I am continuing to meet amazing families and developing relationships with people along the way. Most importantly, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to create memories for more families to come!

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