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August 2016

Teddy Bear Portraits Photographer Profile: Neil Stewart

By | Daycare and Preschool Photography, Portrait Photography, Professional Photographers | No Comments

photographer-profile-neil-stewartWorking with children comes naturally to Neil Stewart who has been capturing smiles with Teddy Bear Portraits for the past eight years. Neil began his career in children’s photography in Northern California before moving to Texas. He quickly realized that he had found his calling in working with small children.

Neil credits Teddy Bear Portraits for fostering such an innovative working environment. “What sets us apart from the competition is our training and our people. We have people in this company who have been here 10, 20, even 30 years. It’s the people in our company. There is a fierce sense of loyalty at Teddy Bear Portraits.”

For Neil, acting silly and capturing genuine personalities come naturally because he loves what he does. He is a true testament to the quality of excellent photographers that work with Teddy Bear Portraits. At the end of portrait day, parents are thrilled to see such priceless portraits that truly capture their child’s personality. More importantly, the children are thrilled to have spent their morning with their favorite goofy photographer.

On portrait day, “I try to get EVERY kid to smile, I try to be a court Jester, to be fun and act like a fool.” Neil continues.

“I am not afraid to look or to feel silly. I think a lot of the kids really appreciate it. I think that it is critical for them to see me as a genuine person. To keep them motivated I play with them, talk to them, and joke around with them. There is no real formula to it. Not everything works for each kid. I am just trying to have a good time with them. I am capturing their laughter, smiles, and personality in the pictures.”

Neil Stewart. Teddy Bear Portraits photographer.

Year after year, Neil’s favorite part about working with Teddy Bear Portraits are the reactions he gets from the children he photographs. He cherishes every hug and every small bond that he develops with each child and describes it as an, “Overwhelmingly positive experience.”

“I remember a lot from preschool so I am hoping that someday, somebody my age who may not remember my face or my name will look at their portrait and remember the crazy guy that took it.”

Neil enjoys watching the children he photographs in preschool grow. “The kids that tell me that pictures are not as fun now that they are in elementary school- that makes me feel pretty good.”

Neil is excited to continue growing with Nationwide Studios and Teddy Bear Portraits. “The whole company has always been very supportive. They help you to learn and grow. Teddy Bear has been good to me, and I hope to keep shooting for them until I am the weird old guy!”

Neil continues, “You can’t do what we do here at Teddy Bear Portraits without opening your mind and your heart. To get every kid to smile, that is the foundation of our company. It is the core of what we do. It is the people who care for the kids who love the kids.”

Being a seasoned Teddy Bear photographer, Neil has nailed portrait day down to a science. His special rapport with the children has helped him refine the ways he gets each child to open up and engage with him. Sometimes he acts silly and jumps around all day trying to coax the brightest smiles out of the shyest children. It’s part of his commitment and enthusiasm of being a Teddy Bear Portraits photographer.

Want to grow your career in preschool and daycare photography?

If you’re a professional photographer who loves to work with young children, visit the Teddy Bear Portraits careers page to find a position in your area. We’ll be looking for your application soon!

How to Become a Preschool Portrait Photographer

By | Daycare and Preschool Photography, Portrait Photography, Professional Photographers | No Comments

Within the portrait photography field, there is the growing niche of preschool and daycare portrait photography. As we candidly document each moment of our lives, the value of professional portraits to capture a specific moment in time has increased exponentially.

Early childhood is filled with brief and special moments that parents want to capture for a lifetime. If you are a professional photographer interested in helping capture those moments in preschool and daycare, here’s what you need to know.

First, what is preschool and daycare photography?

What distinguishes preschool and daycare photography is more than the age of your subjects.
Like portrait photography, preschool and daycare photography relies on natural-looking, professional lighting, backdrops that don’t distract, and working with your subject to find the most flattering poses.

As with any portrait photography, your photos must bring out your subject’s personality. But in preschool and daycare photography, you not only want to capture a child’s personality, but also the vulnerability and innocence of childhood.

Your subjects may range in age from 6 years old to 6 months old. Working with children so young has unique challenges.

Often you’ll work with children in a preschool or daycare setting, so a mobile studio and an appreciation for working in new locations weekly or even daily are key.

Learning to communicate effectively with young children is critical. You need patience and understanding. Knowing how to calm a nervous or crying child is a skill you can learn.

Be organized and efficient.

Technical skills, such as recreating natural lighting indoors and choosing the right aperture, help create phenomenal photos. But good photos aren’t enough in this competitive field.

Your soft skills—remaining organized, communicating effectively, and being reliable—can not only set you apart from others, but may also generate repeat business.

In preschool and daycare centers, you’ll work with school directors, principals, teachers, teaching assistants, parents, and grandparents—all of whom will have different wants and needs.

Establish guidelines, schedules, and expectations for both you and the client. Even the best laid plans can change, so keep your clients informed as soon as a change occurs.

Consider sharing Google Docs and calendars with your clients. It’s a great way to make updates on the go in an open and transparent way. Also, invest in software or applications that make invoicing clients easy for you and simple for them.

Figure out your process and workflow.

Start slow. Allot more time for a photo session than you think you’ll need. From there, perfect your process. Keep in mind that time spent photographing is only the beginning.

Following each session, you need to set aside enough time to properly process each photo. In the beginning, you might spend 3 hours processing for every hour photographing. Over time, that ratio may change.

After a few sessions, you should feel confident in your workflow. With a firm process in place, you’ll know how much time to estimate per project.

Learn to love working with children.

Parents want to see photos of happy, smiling children. But what do you do if a child isn’t having fun?

Here’s a tip: preschoolers love knock, knock jokes. They may not get them. They may not be able to deliver them, but they love them nonetheless.

Jokes are an easy way in which to engage a child and encourage him or her to open up and relax. Come prepared with a few jokes to lighten a child’s mood and evoke a smile.

You can find kid-appropriate knock, knock jokes at these websites:

Don’t be afraid to be creative.

You became a professional photographer because you have a talent, a superpower, if you will. You capture personalities and make them shine. You can make time stand still.

Even with these talents, the steady stream of adorable faces may seem overwhelming. But each child is an opportunity for you to be creative.

Take the time to pose each child in way that emphasizes his or her best features. Be mindful of shooting them in the best light and at the best angle. For more personal photos, take them at the child’s eye level.

Parents will see the difference and will be much more likely to purchase your work if you make their child shine.

Have a process for following up each session.

Your work doesn’t end at the conclusion of the shoot. Each school director, teacher, principal, and family member is a potential return customer.

Send thank you notes to the school directors and staff and include thank you notes in each photo package purchased by parents. It may seem old school, but the power of gratitude is astounding. Make your notes professional and personal.

A few months after your shoot, follow up with a special offer. Keep those carefully cultivated lines of communication open.

Want to grow your career in preschool and daycare photography?

If you’re a professional photographer who loves to work with young children, visit the Teddy Bear Portraits careers page to find a position in your area. We’ll be looking for your application soon!