Behind the Studio: Anna Dobrenski Photography
Anna Dobrenski has built a successful business by capturing the true beauty of her clients and focusing on the everyday moments that are important to a family. She offers a unique design service that brings those digital moments to life, so that they can be enjoyed for years to come. Read on to learn about how Anna helps her clients turn their photos into physical works of art and how you can too.
Like me, my clients enjoy unplugging to reconnect with their family whenever they can, and are the type to laugh easily and share of themselves willingly. I love that my sessions provide them with the space to do just that, while I photograph the beauty of their family that goes beyond skin-deep. My passion is to capture not just what you look like but what it feels like to be in your company.
That’s the good stuff and it’s at the heart of why I’m a photographer.
Tell us a little bit about Anna Dobrenski Photography and the services you offer.
Anna Dobrenski Photography is a San Francisco Bay Area lifestyle portrait photography studio for modern families. The studio is owned and operated solely by me. My specialty is creating photographic art of my clients’ family memories.
In this digital age of photography, many beautiful moments don’t make their way to print and instead live on our phones or computer hard drive. Do you find that many of your clients are actually interested in having physical prints of their photographs, but they just need that extra push and expertise to help them move in that direction? What’s your process for helping them choose their favorite moments to print and how to display them?
I strongly believe that in this digital age of photography we need to take pause and enjoy the images created. Each day we see hundreds of images on social media and they are fleeting. Precious images get lost in a sea of files on a computer or on a disc in a drawer. While I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, and use technology to support my business, I feel it’s important to have tangible products to showcase our images. Most of my clients typically purchase one large wall portrait, wall gallery or a signature album that will make an impacting statement in their home.
Most of my clients are referred to me by past happy clients. Sometimes they see my art at a friend’s house and want to decorate their home with beautiful images of their family. I work one-on-one with my clients to provide my expertise from start to finish. Beginning with a pre-session consultation where I go to my client’s home and help them identify potential wall art spaces. Together we design and plan the session location, wardrobe and direction of the session to match the style and decor of their home. I meet the client at their home again for the Session Premiere where they view their images for the first time. I bring a large screen and projector along with their gallery of images on my iPad. I use iPhoto and the Portfolio app to share images larger than life. Once the client has identified the images they love, we look at the images using templates overlaid on their walls with the Preveal app. They can see what their art will look like on their walls before committing to purchase. I walk my clients through each step of the process to ensure they are thrilled with their selections.
How do you best promote your studio and the services that you offer? What marketing strategies work for you? Is there an approach to marketing that you have now that you wished you would have had earlier in your career? What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in terms of marketing your business and making a unique name for yourself in this industry?
I promote my studio primarily through word of mouth referrals. I find there’s nothing quite like a friend raving about how happy they were with a service or product. I recently started a newsletter that goes out twice a year and I have a studio Welcome magazine that provides information about my studio. I partner with a few choice philanthropic organizations to donate in-kind services for their fundraising events which gives me exposure to my target client.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the importance of brand consistency. You are your brand. Everything from packaging, presentation and website to the way you treat your clients is representative of your brand. I’ve found if you do what you say you’re going to do, and stay true to who you are, people will trust you and your brand. If you follow every trend or look too much at other photographers, you will lose your vision and get misguided. If you trust your gut and follow your heart doors will open for you. Plus, if you have fun while doing it all the better!
What are some key elements of your workspace/studio that help you be proactive, efficient and stay balanced?
I have a home based studio and shoot only on location. I love being available when my children get home from school. It’s a juggle to stay balanced. I try to wear one hat at a time, photographer or mom, not both. Sometimes working from home creates blurred lines between work and home but overall it’s great! I have a kitchen timer that helps me tackle my project list in small tasks. It’s been a life saver!
You mention that you try to unplug to connect with your family and friends as much as possible. How do you juggle being a professional photographer and the need to be plugged in and available as a business owner as well as devoting time to your family and personal life? Do you have a schedule that you adhere to make sure this happens? What is your action plan for unplugging?
My children are 7 and 9 and are definitely more entertaining than any electronic device. We enjoy hanging out in our backyard listening to music and talking. I adore spending time with friends over dinner and wine or hiking while catching up. There was a time where I was somewhat addicted to my iPhone. I now am more aware of when I am too attached to my electronic devices. I’ve set some boundaries that help me stay in check. Being a solopreneur means I need to be available for my clients since there’s no one else as my backup. I try to answer emails and phone calls during business hours. If an inquiry comes in over the weekend I try to respond on Monday. I also limit my client portrait commissions to 30 per year, so I am not overwhelmed with communications and editing which tie me to my desk.
You’ve ordered a lot of Art Pads from Pinhole Pro. What do you use these products for and what’s your feedback been on them? Would you recommend them to other photographer’s?
I love surprising my clients with gifts when I deliver their products to their home. It’s a small way of showing them I appreciate them. Pinhole Pro products have been my go to source for gifts. The notepads, magnetic notepads and art pads are my favorites. I typically order art pads for children with their photo and name on the front. They are surprised and delighted to see themselves on the cover! I would highly recommend these products to other photographers. The quality, price point and delivery time are excellent!
Hi, I’m ANNA, photographer and mom to two awesome and adventurous children. I offer a personalized photography experience that is playful, stress-free and captures the essence of your family.
I was born in Nashville, lived in New York City and moved to San Francisco before settling in Portola Valley. Each place I have lived says a little about me: I love nature, culture, fashion, music, travel, good food, and wine. Whether on country roads, bustling sidewalks or crooked streets, I’m the kind of girl to find and appreciate the best and special in every person and place. My photography is a lot like me in those ways. I love to bring a modern, light-filled aesthetic and lively spirit to my sessions and I’m inspired every day by the unique love, joy and connections of families just like yours.