Indianapolis photographer talks about family photo studio
Who we talked to
Sonja Clark, owner
Bella Vita Images
As a former Indianapolis Public Schools elementary schoolteacher, Sonja Clark says she's always had a clear picture of what she wanted to do. "I love working with kids," she says. Two years ago, after the birth of her third child, Clark says she wanted to develop a new career in portrait photography. "It was always a hobby for me," Clark says. "But my children inspired me to make it my career."
What should parents look for in a family photographer?
"They should start by looking at the photographer's website and seeing if they like the style of photography they use. After that, parents should call the photographer to see if they have a rapport with them. Communication is always very important when hiring a photographer. The client should feel comfortable telling the photographer exactly what they want the end product to be. A good family photographer is about making your children feel comfortable so they can be natural and they get truly genuine portraits. It's also important that the photographer communicates to the parents exactly what's happening during the production so it's clear what both the photographer's and parents' roles are."
What's your photography style?
"My photos are more candid and natural, rather than posed. I have simple lighting and backdrops here at my studio. I do some outdoors with natural lighting or I can go to people's homes on request, depending on the location."
How should families dress for their photo shoot?
"First and foremost, it should reflect their personality and they should feel comfortable with what they're wearing. For the most part, anything goes. There are no strict rules for what to wear anymore, but I think colors and patterns depend on the environment and season. For example, if they're outdoor pictures in the fall, warm colors and textures are beautiful. For bright backgrounds or a shoot in the studio with a white background, bright colors and patterns are fun. That's where communication is important — I'll have a conversation with my clients to make sure there's no difference between what the client is imagining and what the photographer has to work with."
What kinds of portrait packages do you offer?
"I structure my packages based on how much clients want to spend, which is generally between $250 and $1,200. Sessions last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. For my clients, there's no preset package they have to buy, but I do offer incentives based on how much they want to spend. If they spend a certain amount, they get items for free. For instance, at the $1,200 level, they get a CD with all the high-resolution images and unlimited copyrights. For other packages, clients can view their proofs online. I send all my photographs to a professional printer and I touch up every image before it's printed to make sure it looks its best."