Business Tips with Hillary Lachman of Stills By Hill Photography

As a second generation photographer, Hillary Lachman, owner of Stills by Hill Photography, knows how to capitalize on techniques and businesses practices that work. In this interview with Pinhole Pro, Hilary shares her tips for where to buy props and what not to include on your next printed brochure.

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Why did you choose to focus on maternity, newborn, child and family photography?  What is it about those genres that engages you?

As a 2nd generation documenter, it’s in my blood. I was raised with my mom being a videographer and known in town as the one to call to document your families events. Though I don’t do weddings, I specialize in children and family because I got started once my oldest niece (just turned 16) was born and I got a camera. I just love photographing the growth of families and found that to be where my work is best.
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How do you choose a location for your shoots?  Take us through your process from start to finish.

Usually I find locations that seem perfect for sessions and take families there. A lot of my sessions are in client’s homes so that is my favorite. When a client has a suggestion for a shoot, I always go check it out first. Usually I take my daughter to practice there and scout out some beautiful spots.

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How closely do you work with your clients on a shot list before the actual shoot day?  Do you usually take the reins or is it more of a collaborative effort?

No shot list for my sessions. For larger family groups, I do ask them what specific groupings they request but most of everything just is a flow for me of group together, kids separate, parents alone, parents with each child then group together again. It just goes naturally for me. When a client tries to change things up it does throw off my flow and I don’t enjoy that too much.

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Where do you find your best props?  What suggestions do you have for other photographers looking to build their props inventory?

I only really use props for my in-studio themed sessions like Halloween and Valentines day. Etsy, Homegoods, tj maxx, garage sales, flea markets. Backdrops I like Lemondrop.

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You’ve been in business since 2007. In your opinion, how has the industry changed in that time?  Have you had to change any of your approaches to how you do business to adjust?  If so, what?

There definitely has been some adjustments. When I started, I handed over the cd of files with sessions. Then I took them away and just offered products which was fine for some time, but eventually people wanted to purchase files. Files now are available for purchase and as I find more and more clients purchasing them, I adjust how things flow in my business. I notice editing styles shifting, huge influx of new mom-togs (then them closing their doors realizing they are not understanding how to run a business) and just needs of people changing.

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What’s a lesson that you learned early on in your career that you still actively adhere to today?  What’s the most recent lesson that you learned?  Feel free to elaborate on a personal experience if you’d like.

One thing I learned was not to print up lots of brochures or anything with your pricing on them as it shifts all the time. I also learned how to market to clients that not everyone is your ideal client–stop running your business as if you are the client. Also, don’t listen to the news where they say no one is spending money. I do learn from every session pretty much… my policies change often because of situations that pop up that I learn from.

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You’ve ordered a lot of magnets from Pinhole Pro.  What’s your feedback been on these products?  Would you suggest these products to other photographer’s to include in their client packages or as client gifts?

I love the magnets. I use them as client thank you gifts. I do them as marketing pieces. I give them to some clients as thank you gifts. I have also done the notepads and love those!

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PPro-14-09-HilaryLachman_BioPicI’m Hillary. I launched Stills by Hill Photography in 2007 and absolutely love what I do.  Today I focus on maternity, newborns, children & families. I love providing portraits for families that they will eventually hand down generation to generation.

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