Family First: Creating Space for Life and Family in her Photography Business with Shalonda Chaddock
If you’re anything like me, your first subjects were your own children. But eventually, those squishy babies become stone-faced teens, and it becomes more and more difficult to capture moments in your everyday family life. So how do you stay inspired as your children (and your clients) grow up?
In this episode, I’m chatting with family photographer Shalonda Chaddock of Chubby Cheek Photography about embracing change and growth in your family and business.
Shalonda is sharing what it’s been like for her to go from chasing her toddler around to taxiing teens, and how that shift has changed her business. She’s explaining the concept behind her Happy Place Sessions and why she’s shifted away from styled shoots. Plus, we’re talking about finding the balance between capturing memories and living in the moment.
What’s in this episode:
- Where Shalonda is on her business journey and what she most loves to capture [2:45]
- Dealing with burnout and staying creative when as your kids grow up [5:29]
- How to balance capturing the moment with experiencing the moment [11:58]
- Reconnecting with your “happy place” and rediscovering your passion [14:44]
- Finding new ways to involve your kids in your passions as they grow [16:17]
- How Shalonda shifted from styled sessions to her new Happy Place Sessions [17:45]
- How to set your pricing without underselling yourself [22:36]
- Communicating pricing and expectations with prospective clients [26:10]
- Why blogging is so important for attracting and converting your dream clients [28:40]
- Shalonda’s best piece of business advice [35:24]
- Embracing change and flow in your business [37:27]
If you want to find inspiration in the in-between moments and make a change in your business to embrace more time with your family, tune into this episode.
Meet Shalonda Chaddock
Shalonda Chaddock is the face behind the camera of Chubby Cheek Photography. She is a nationally published child+ family photographer, based out of Houston Texas, where she is drowning in a mountain of volleyball laundry and a lip-gloss rainbow from her two tween daughters. Her shooting style focuses on the magic of the right now because she knows from personal experience that nothing can stop your babies from growing up, but photographs can freeze the in between moments so that you never forget. She whole heartedly believes in laughing so hard that you can’t breathe and that queso cures all.
She has been invited to speak at Family & Child photography conferences from Texas to Italy and everything in between including PPA’s Imaging Main Stage.
Connect with Shalonda
Did you love hearing from Shalonda about how she built her photography business around her family? Check out another episode from Erin Elizabeth Hoskins
[00:00:00] Shalonda Chaddock: I don’t want to miss anything. I’m definitely the mom that, I’m a mom first and a photographer second, and if I’m missing something as a mom, then I’m not going to be a very good photographer because I’m going to be angry, resentful, like, why am I here and not there? So I don’t miss things. So that’s been huge for us is don’t miss anything. And then also saying no to like maybe big opportunities that maybe interfere with things for them because I’m going to be there for them always. So I don’t know. That’s helped. That’s helped with burnout I think is learning that it’s okay to say no to big opportunities, that other opportunities will still happen..
[00:00:38] Lisa DiGeso: Welcome to the Art and Soul Show, where we dove into heart opening chats on photography, business, life and that messy in between. I’m your host, Lisa DiGeso, a mom, a photographer and entrepreneur, and I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because, let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the Art and Soul Show.
[00:01:22] Lisa DiGeso: Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show. Today, I’m chatting with my friend Charlotte Chaddock. She’s the face behind the camera of Chubby Cheek Photography. She’s a nationally published child and family photographer based out of Houston, Texas, where she is drowning in a mountain of volleyball, laundry and lip gloss rainbow from her two twin daughters. Her shooting style focuses on the magic of the right now because she knows from personal experience that nothing can stop your babies from growing up, but photographs can freeze in between moments so you never forget. She wholeheartedly believes in laughing so hard that you can’t breathe and that queso cures all. We have that in common. I have known Shalonda for nearly six years now and adore her whimsical style. And honestly, she’s just hilarious. So without further ado, here is Shalonda.
[00:02:11] Shalonda Chaddock: Welcome. Hey. Hey, listen.
[00:02:15] Lisa DiGeso: So tell us who you are and what you’re passionate about.
[00:02:17] Shalonda Chaddock: Well, it’s been a long time since we’ve done this together. I feel like I feel like it was yesterday.
[00:02:23] Lisa DiGeso: I know it was yesterday, I think.
[00:02:25] Shalonda Chaddock: I feel like it was yesterday. I could go back and watch that old video because that one was recorded. Thankfully, today is not that one was recorded. But gosh, I feel like it was yesterday, but also not.
[00:02:35] Lisa DiGeso: I think 2003 was yesterday.
[00:02:37] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh, my gosh. Me too. I had just graduated from college the year before. That would be crazy. Oh, man. Okay, well. I’ve been doing this for a really long time. Obviously, like you, we’ve been doing this for what feels like forever and only a moment all at the same time. So I have two daughters. They’ve grown up with my business. They’re a huge part of my business. I started my business because of them. I have a great husband, obviously. Yeah, I’m based out of Houston. I have done anything and everything over the last 14 years of doing this. So yeah, now I pretty much focus on capturing families because like, like you said and I totally believe it goes by so fast, no matter how much you appreciate it, no matter how much you relish in the moment, it still goes by in the blink of an eye. So I’m super passionate about capturing families with all ages of kids and then, of course, helping photographers. I am a psych major turned engineer, turned salesperson, turned photographer. So I feel like all of my past life poured into photography and running my own business so nicely. So now I teach and speak and all of the things, but I’m still shooting. I still shoot, too. I still shoot every weekend in the trenches like everybody else. So I’ve never given that up.
[00:03:59] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. So I think I’ve been following and chatting with you since 2015 and I really am. I’m so excited to catch up. So what is going on with your world? Like, what are you really pumped and excited about right now?
[00:04:10] Shalonda Chaddock: Summer I knew. I knew the answer somewhere. I just think that no, actually, as far as my life, I’m excited for summer, as far as my business I actually took almost will not like calendar year, but I’ve taken the year off from speaking because the last couple of years I’ve been speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking everywhere all over on the Internet with COVID and everything. So all over the Internet and then all over the world and all over the United States. And I kind of got tired of writing speeches. My brain was tapped out. Yeah. So I’ve just been taking a year off speaking and took a lot of my classes that I’ve taught in all a lot of my speeches and kind of put them together in a big mastermind. So I launched my first mastermind class, I don’t know, like eight months ago and I’ve run it twice. We have a retreat in like three weeks with the girls that did it. So that’s kind of what I’m excited about right now because I’m shooting, I’m enjoying my kids life, enjoying taking them to all of their sporting events. That’s why my voice sounds like this is. Like eight weeks for screaming at the volleyball tour.
[00:05:22] Lisa DiGeso: Well, that’s a good year to take off from speaking then.
[00:05:24] Shalonda Chaddock: It was good. I needed a little bit of a break. I love it. I need a bit of a break. I just had my brain was tapped out.
[00:05:29] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, I love that because I think a lot of the time we force ourselves to push through that, like, I guess that I have. And that’s actually one of my questions because. I have experienced burnout many times and it was like a two year period. I really didn’t even want to pick up my camera because I was just overloaded and burnt out. And I know that you’ve gone through periods of that, too. So can you share maybe your thoughts and your experiences as your own children get older, too, and maybe how that all affects your work?
[00:05:58] Shalonda Chaddock: Okay. So okay. So I think often, I know that, oh, gosh. Okay, so I’m, I’m going to try to think through this logically because you know, me, I go off on tangents and then we’re talking about like, you know, mixing drinks or something and we’re supposed to be talking about that. So I’m going to try to stay on. I’m going to try to think through this logically. Like I think I agree with you, burnout that just follows you, period. I don’t I don’t think there’s a true solution. I mean, I used to say, like back before, you know, you used to say, oh, do your personal projects and do this and do that. And that’s all great and that’s wonderful. But what I think kind of ties in with burnout or maybe pulling you through it is the transitions that you go through just with your kids. Like your son is older too. So, you know, I think at the beginning it’s easy. You don’t get burned out, right, because you have a toddler to chase around. You’re learning how to use your camera there, your inspiration there. The reason that you probably picked up a camera in the first place. So when their babies, their squishy little toddlers and they’re just cute and funny and you don’t have to ask them to do anything and they do it and then your business, is that right? That’s the majority of your client base typically follows the ages of your kids. I think. So like the majority of your client base finds you because you’re posting these squishy baby pictures and you’re in mom groups that all have squishy babies and you’re at Mother’s Day out and things like that that all have squishy babies and it’s easy and fun. Well, then I think our kids get older and we transition to like the middle years, like, well, that’s what I call it, like the not quite teens. I don’t even want to say tweens yet because I kind of feel like that in itself is a whole nother realm of life. But yeah, so I got in the 8 to 10 range I think was a huge transition for me where I was really burning out from doing the things that I did, all the things that were expected of me and the types of families that were expected of me. But then I felt this pull towards my kids’ age. They were like middle years. And I think social media is really hard because it doesn’t love that age group. And so as a photographer, it can be real easy to say, well, I’m going to put my own camera away, or which continues to dig into the burnout, because then I feel like you’re only working, you’re not doing anything for enjoyment anymore, then you’re only working. And it’s hard because it’s like, well, how much of your kids do you even share at that age? And, you know, it’s just a whole realm of crazy. I think it’s hard when your kids get to that age point. I actually pushed through that age when I partnered with a local boutique that does like clothing for kids, for teens, tweens, middle years kids. Because I felt like I was steering away from my business because my kids were that age. Does that make sense?
[00:08:46] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah.
[00:08:46] Shalonda Chaddock: So anyway, I partnered with this boutique and we did this like whole middle years. Like, love yourself, pour into these teen tween young 8 to 11 girls. We did this whole, like, photoshoot idea for them and it was amazing and wonderful and probably helped me more than it even helped them. But because I think that’s the age that like my kids just got social media, but most kids have social media at that age. And so like if you are shooting families that have kids like that, they’re aware of that stuff, you know what I mean? Like they’re aware of the negative stuff, like the lower likes and the lower like that stuff that sounded kind of bad. I hope that doesn’t sound sad.
[00:09:28] Lisa DiGeso: But anyway, it’s really true. Yeah.
[00:09:31] Shalonda Chaddock: So we poured into these girls and it was incredible. And I’ve seen this phenomenon in the photography industry that a lot of people are realizing that their kids are growing up, their clients are growing up. My clients have been with me for 14 years, most of them. So they were squishy toddlers, but they became teens and tweens and middle years around the same ages as my own girls. So I had to learn how to shoot that. So I’m seeing this phenomenon of photographers that are seeing that their clients are growing up and staying with them. So that’s pushing. So I think doing things outside of your comfort zone is going to push you out of a burnout. And then I think the final point that I was trying to make about transitioning with your kids, because I went to a whole big circle like I told you I wasn’t going to, is managing their schedules. I think that’s where probably you and I are both that right now with your son and hockey and my girls and travel volleyball. It’s about managing their schedules. And I think I’ve had the hardest time coming to terms with managing their schedules because I don’t want to miss anything. I’m definitely the mom that I don’t like. I’m a mom first and a photographer second, and if I’m missing something as a mom, then I’m not going to be a very good photographer because I’m going to be angry, resentful, like, why am I here and not? Air. So I don’t miss things. So that’s been huge for us is don’t miss anything. And then also saying no to like maybe big opportunities that maybe interfere with things for them because I’m going to be there for them always. So I don’t know. That’s helped. That’s helped with burnout, I think is learning that it’s okay to say no to big opportunities, that other opportunities will still happen. Does that make sense?
[00:11:00] Lisa DiGeso: I love that because I started as a maternity and a newborn photographer and that was my first love. And like I picked up my camera twelve years ago because my son was born and that was my first love. And then as he got older, those were the genres that I started to include more of because I was comfortable at that age. And then he hit the middle years and he did not want me to photograph him. Yeah. And I had to respect that. And so for me, I’m kind of coming out on the other side of grief. Like it’s been probably four years of grief like and feeling almost resentful, a little bit angry that I am showing up and doing this for my clients, but yet I’m not able to have this for myself.
[00:11:39] Shalonda Chaddock: And I think that’s why we really latched on to this idea of the middle years. And I have like so many posts about it. Blog posts for my clients like to educate them on why you need pictures during that time. Because I think it’s I mean, I know, like you said, your son was like.
[00:11:56] Lisa DiGeso: He’s just like, no, no, no. He’s like, no, I’m good.
[00:11:58] Shalonda Chaddock: I think that’s also because he, like my girls, had to have had a camera in their faces since they were little. And also, like I said, their peers, whether your kids have social media or not, like mine didn’t, their peers did, and their peers were finding me so that I had to be aware of as well. So maybe that was part of his like, no, I’m good. But it’s also about educating other moms. Like, yeah, it’s not always about sharing it, but it’s about capturing it. Yeah. So I think that like I have multiple blog posts about that because you know, our clients don’t always, they’re not, they’re not always on the same path as us. They don’t have the same mindset as us, as photographers. Right? They know what’s important, but they don’t really know why it’s important. So it’s like constantly reminding them. I. I’m in your shoes, too. And this is why capturing this age is great. So maybe it’s just more even if it’s just on your phone. No.
[00:12:52] Lisa DiGeso: Least I don’t care. That’s what he lets me do. He lets us see. So who cares? But the beauty of this is I have I am mad ass awesome on my phone now.
[00:13:01] Shalonda Chaddock: Like I think photography would do one thing seriously.
[00:13:06] Lisa DiGeso: I am so good on my phone now. Yeah. And only because I’ve had to be because as soon as he sees that big camera like the moments passed and he’s done. Yeah, but if I can sneak that shot just with my, my phone.
[00:13:17] Shalonda Chaddock: And like, well, I’m going to send you my presets. Seriously, I have some mobile presets. They will hook you up. You just wait.
[00:13:23] Lisa DiGeso: Yes please. And we will put those. We will.
[00:13:27] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh, my God. You’re going to love them. You don’t even have to do that. I am just sending them to you because you’re going to love them. They’re so. easy. They’re so easy to use. I love it.
[00:13:34] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. Thank you, friend.
[00:13:36] Shalonda Chaddock: That’s why I made them. Because my kids, I was constantly like, here’s the thing I need to remind you. I will remind you of this. And I will, because it took a lot for me to understand this. At the beginning of our careers, it was about capturing their moments. And as they’ve gotten older, it’s about being a part of the moment with them. And so that doesn’t mean having your camera, that just means it’s here, you know, like it’s a memory. It’s yeah, it’s a core memory for us. And there’s no pictures. But that’s because social media has trained us to think that we need to have pictures. Yes, we need them. Yeah, but it’s also important to have the memories, you know. So you’re there. You’re there with him. You’re in the moment with him.
[00:14:19] Lisa DiGeso: So video, you know what’s funny is video. And I was so funny because I was saying to my husband, I was like, I was mad. One day I was like, why don’t we have more videos of than when he was a baby? And when he’s little, he’s like, babe, because it wasn’t, they didn’t have it on phones yet, didn’t have that.
[00:14:32] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah. It’s like, Oh, looks good then it wasn’t just stuff we were about to hear. It was that it wasn’t available.
[00:14:44] Lisa DiGeso: And I just laughed. I was like, Oh, okay, yeah, this is where we’re at. This is. funny. Yeah, it’s so funny. It’s so funny how, you know, it’s so interconnected. Like, for me, like, I’ve kind of come out the other side, like with the pandemic and everything. And I’ve actually taken a sabbatical from my business. I’m shutting things down for, I guess, July 1st onwards and restructuring, figuring out what I love to shoot and like just rebranding, just trying to figure out what Lisa loves again. So it’s interesting because my first love really was maternity and newborn, and I think that’s where I’m going to go back and specialize again.
[00:15:17] Shalonda Chaddock: Really?
[00:15:18] Lisa DiGeso: I do. I think that’s like kind of what I want to do.
[00:15:21] Shalonda Chaddock: I can see that.
[00:15:22] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, yeah. It’s my job and that’s my happy place. So I’ll see because and find out kid, which is like rambling and I’m like, maybe I just like want to do that for me.
[00:15:31] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah. So I can see that. But I started as newborn and now I will never go back to newborn. So now it’s just families.
[00:15:39] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. I love that.
[00:15:41] Shalonda Chaddock: But that’s a luxury about doing this for so long. Like you’re like, we’ve been able to do it all. And now we’re back to the point of like, if I’m saying if I’m leaving my family, I better be fulfilling myself artistically or I’m not leaving them.
[00:15:56] Lisa DiGeso: 100%. If it doesn’t fill my heart, I’m out. Yeah.
[00:15:59] Shalonda Chaddock: Now that’s something that just comes with time, though. I think that’s hard for new photographers to understand.
[00:16:03] Lisa DiGeso: I think so too. And also like at the beginning too, it’s like if someone wants to offer you money, you’re like, yeah.
[00:16:08] Shalonda Chaddock: You’re like, Yeah.
[00:16:08] Lisa DiGeso: I do awesome. Right, right. And it’s interesting. Just to grow that muscle of discernment does bring me joy. Is it worth it?
[00:16:16] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah, I love it.
[00:16:17] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, so do you. Do you do many personal projects now? Because when I’m too busy, that’s the first thing I let go of and then I get really sad. Yeah. How are you? Like, you just –
[00:16:26] Shalonda Chaddock: Nope. I’m not. I’m not. And I’m not even sad about it.
[00:16:30] Lisa DiGeso: Nice. I love that.
[00:16:31] Shalonda Chaddock: I’m not even sad about it because like I said, it’s more I mean, I have so many. I mean, if, you know, if you ever look at my Instagram, you know, I write obscene, obnoxiously long captions.
[00:16:40] Lisa DiGeso: I know. And I love it. I love that.
[00:16:42] Shalonda Chaddock: I know it’s obnoxious, but I have a lot to say apparently. But I think like I just wrote one not that long ago. I wrote a ton, but they’re always about that. About how my business started. Like I picked up a camera because of my kids, right? Like I learned how to. I had a baby on a two under eight, you know, two under two. So I had one in my lap and one at my feet. And I was learning Photoshop and learning how to write, I mean, how to write code to make a website because all these fancy templates weren’t around and you know, all that stuff I was learning all of it, learning tricky lighting with my squishy baby and all those things. And now my kids, maybe I’m not doing personal projects for them, but now they’re sitting right next to me culling with me or watching me edit or doing behind the scenes for me. Like my business started because of them and now it’s run with them. Like now they’re working with me with it.
[00:17:36] Lisa DiGeso: So yeah, I love that. That’s so also I love oh.
[00:17:40] Shalonda Chaddock: I guess Chubby Cheek Photography is my personal project.
[00:17:43] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. So I first fell in love with your work, with your theme and styled sessions. Do you find you’re still doing many of those and have you progressed and find yourself moving into a different direction? Because I also noticed your Happy Place Sessions and I think that’s totally brilliant. I love it.
[00:18:02] Shalonda Chaddock: So I still do some style sessions. I don’t think they’re as in-demand as they were. The unique ones are not maybe as in-demand as they were. I still do them and I just did one last week so I couldn’t say that I don’t do any of them, but I am very selective on the ones that I take. I want to make sure that again, I’m excited about it and then I’ll take it. I’ve had a lot of really good ones lately, so that’s helped. But the majority of the inquiries that I get are family.
[00:18:32] Lisa DiGeso: So tell me a little bit about the Happy Place sessions, because I really do think those are brilliant.
[00:18:38] Shalonda Chaddock: Okay, so I started doing Happy Place sessions like eight years ago and it was kind of a transition from my styled kid sessions to like a little bit more of an event or not event like a game based type of lifestyle session. So I guess from a photographer’s perspective, it’s kind of like a cross between a lifestyle session, but also like a classic family session, just like a place that’s unique to your family. So they were a little bit styled at the beginning because they were at people’s houses or whatever, and then they just kind of transitioned and now it’s a true happy place session. I’ve done them at the Houston Zoo. I’ve done them in people’s lake houses. On their boats. In their homes. Playing board games like whatever. They’re cooking breakfast Sunday morning. Like it is a lifestyle session, but it is a little bit like it’s not completely raw, you know what I mean? Like we definitely take some time to do a little bit more like smiley stuff, but they’re fun because a lot of times I’ll add video to those. So that’s why I originally started doing them eight years ago, was to try to add that video as more of a day in the life. And then a whole day was just too long to be with someone’s family. So we kind of cut it down and it just became a Happy Place Session. So those are super popular just because they’re unique to each family, you know, kind of like All About Me Sessions where with my kid, my kids, I’m not reproducing this for someone else. Like whatever this styled shoot, whatever this location or setup or whatever is, it’s unique to just your moment and your family.
[00:20:13] Lisa DiGeso: So there are a lot of things my family would be like at our favorite pasta restaurant. We have gone there every special occasion for the last 20 years. 20 plus years.
[00:20:26] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh, my gosh.
[00:20:27] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, that’s special.
[00:20:29] Shalonda Chaddock: How fun is that?
[00:20:31] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. So that’s what I would do.
[00:20:33] Shalonda Chaddock: This but the sky’s the limit with them. So that’s what’s so cool about them is it makes the client think outside the box too. And I think when the client invests like that, like they invest some brain power into the session, they’re not just like, I’m just going to show up and shoot. Then it’s a lot more exciting to them. And then it becomes more of like an actual event and a memory again, a core memory that then they’re more willing, like the goal of those. The goal of all sessions I sell an album for with every family session, but the goal is to create an album that has this whole set of, you know, this whole like series of moments that’s playing games or whatever their favorite thing is. So yeah, they’re so fun and they’re easy. Like, they’re easy from my perspective. And the client, like I said, has invested because they’re like the kids, no matter how old they are, the dad, no matter what kind of what he thinks of family pictures, always loves them.
[00:21:28] Lisa DiGeso: I love that so I honestly haven’t. I haven’t had a sparkle for family sessions for years. And it’s like, I think part of it is because I take my life, I’m not challenged. I’m not taking my clients, especially to locations. Dads are like not wanting to be there. They’ve had to fight on the way to the session and I’m over it by the time that they get there too. Yeah. So there’s been no sparkle for me but this is what I was like.
[00:21:52] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah.
[00:21:54] Lisa DiGeso: I really love this idea. So me, I’m not going to offer them that. I’ve got some friends you’re going to love. Go play.
[00:22:01] Shalonda Chaddock: And it’s crazy because it’s a challenge because one client, they chose their boat, not the lake house. They live in their boat. Okay, so like I had to coordinate to get another boat. So, like, I’m shooting, like, across boats, like kayaking. I’m clumsy. That was a risky little game to play, but you know what I mean? Like. And like the clients that did this zoo. Yeah, like, I had to figure out how am I going to shoot in this crazy light in the middle of the Houston Zoo? Like, so, yeah, it’s fun. It’s a challenge. It’s exciting.
[00:22:30] Lisa DiGeso: I love that.
[00:22:31] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah, I like I can’t wait for you, you better tell me what you do. Brilliant. So I can see it.
[00:22:35] Lisa DiGeso: Well, I’ll share it with you. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about pricing actually. Now, can you share the pricing structure because you did mention that you include albums. How does that work for your clients?
[00:22:44] Shalonda Chaddock: Okay, girl. So pricing is like a whole show, Lisa, okay, come on. Now, you probably have had a lot of shows on price. Pricing is like a whole show.
[00:22:51] Lisa DiGeso: Like we do.
[00:22:52] Shalonda Chaddock: Want to be here for the next 24 hours? So, okay. So yes. So after 14 years, I’ve done a really good job of developing a pricing model, a pricing structure that’s like, yeah, financially, you know, I’m financially secure in it. But also I don’t do in-person sales with my clients. Like I’m a salesperson by heart, but I don’t do in-person sales with my clients. So my pricing structure is just so unique. I mean, so simple and easy, easy for the clients, easy for me. But yes, I include albums and digitals because you have to include what people want. People want the digitals. They know that, right? They’ve been trained to think that that’s what they want. Whether they do anything with them or not, they think that that’s what they want. So I do include that. But then also the product, which is stuff that they need. And that’s what I always say is both I went to packages, both of my packages include what you want and what you need. And I think that’s super important. I think my three biggest tips for pricing though, like just in general pricing, regardless of what your pricing structure is, is always going to be understanding your cost of doing business first. Like that’s number one. I think that’s something that we jump before we look. And so as is what happens when –
[00:24:01] Lisa DiGeso: It’s a head in the sand kind of thing.
[00:24:01] Shalonda Chaddock: Because what happens when you start, you know, you’re a mom, you take pictures of your baby, all of a sudden people want you to take pictures. Like you said, people are offering you money and then it’s like, okay, yeah, sure, whatever. You know, we do all of that before we actually start to think about our businesses. So I think knowing. Cross doing business is important because if you don’t have a studio, your cost of doing business is still probably higher than you would expect. Right? So know that that’s always going to be step number one. I think tip number two is going to be just as you can be too expensive, you can also be too cheap for people. I started school as a psych major, so I approach all pricing and marketing from a psychology, from a neuropsychology perspective. So just as much as you can be too expensive, you can also be too cheap. And a lot of times what happens is people are like, you may be a really good photographer, but if you’re not charging enough, then people aren’t going to hire you because they’re going to think there’s something wrong. Like, what’s wrong? Like, what’s the catch? Right. So that’s tip number two. I think tip number three is the best and most important tip. And that’s to know and understand that you are not selling to someone who does not want what you have to offer. Like we approach photography as okay, here’s a good analogy. When I, when I’m trying to explain that because you’re I know that sounds confusing, but if someone’s finding you, if they’re inquiring for a session from you, that is because they want a family session. We are not like plumbers or electricians. Right where oh my gosh, my sink is stopped up or my toilet overflowed and I need to go on Google and find a plumber. There isn’t a need like that for people to come look for us. People are looking for us because they want family pictures. They know that they need them. They maybe don’t know why they need them, but they know that they need them. And so you’re not selling to someone who doesn’t already need what you have, who doesn’t want what you’re offering. So I think that’s kind of an important thing to remind ourselves, is that everyone who’s inquiring with us needs and wants what we’re offering.
[00:26:04] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, they’re already there. They’re already there.
[00:26:07] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah. I’m sorry. I interrupted.
[00:26:10] Lisa DiGeso: No, that’s so good. I love that. I love that. So when your clients are inquiring, are you, like, sharing with them? Like, is it like they’re like a session fee and then everything else? Is that or is like. This is like the price and this is the price.
[00:26:23] Shalonda Chaddock: So I do have a session fee and then I have collections just because I’ve tried every way up and down around, I’ve tried it all, I’ve done it all. And for my client base and the way that I get to cater to my clients, that’s the best way to do it. So I need that initial investment upfront, right? Because I have to look at everything with my right brain. Every investment is a right brain and a left brain at best like it’s happening. Both sides of the brain need to be involved. So I need the initial financial investment from them upfront in order for them to be committed. And then the rest of it comes once they’re emotionally committed. Does that make sense? So then I get the emotional connection. Once we do this, all this stuff, all the pre-work before the session, the day of the session obviously has crazy emotional investment from them because we have a freaking blast at every family session because we just play games the whole time I I’ve really transitioned my daily photography from being very much a button pusher. What I feel like I was for a long time because I was so worried about just getting this, this and this, the shot, the shot, this shot to then transitioning to this game based play. I spoke at PPA last year about teaching people, teaching other chakras, how to play games at your sessions and how fun I get the whole thing like letting them be in the moment and just capture the moment. Like I get that too and that can be done. But I shoot real people. Like, I don’t know, I shoot normal clients that they don’t. They’re like Ricky Bobby. They don’t know what to do with their hands. They don’t know where to look. So like, if you don’t tell them what to do, if you don’t help them, right? They want you to tell them what to do. But I don’t want to tell them what to do because I want it to be authentic to them. So rather than say, okay, put your hand here, put your face here, smile here, look that way. Then it’s more like we’re going to play this game called hug word and we’re going to come up with this word. And every time I say this word I am going to the biggest family sandwich and blah, blah, blah. And like, it’s all these different games that are just, here’s how you do the game. So I’m giving them instructions. But then the reaction or the result of the game is still authentic to their family and still producing real fun pictures. And then the dad wants to come back next year. Yeah. And then the dad, when mom says this is how much the collection cost is like, heck yeah, totally worth it. Let’s go. Like, bring it.
[00:28:40] Lisa DiGeso: So I love that. I love that. So marketing is such a question we get especially just from starting out photographers. So what marketing tips do you have to attract your ideal clients that want to have fun?
[00:28:54] Shalonda Chaddock: Okay, so you’re going to laugh at this because you are going to write this. It’s going to resonate with you so much because your Facebook is getting hacked. So blogging is my number one tip. Like if you’re not blogging, I think you just had a podcast on SEO and I need to listen to that one because I love SEO, this and that go hand in hand. I’m not a SEO expert, however. I am a blogging lover, a blog lover. So I’ve been blogging since I started, like from the very beginning.
[00:29:25] Lisa DiGeso: Forever. From the very beginning. I still go and find your blogs. Yeah, I will go read them.
[00:29:29] Shalonda Chaddock: I love it. So I’ve been blogging for forever and it’s transitioning. Right back then it was more about just blogging. Like I would write my life story. Now it’s become more about educating my clients. Like I said, blog posts on why capturing your kids during the middle years is so important. Education on what to do with your best. My favorite secret places to eat in Galveston with your family when you’re on vacation or like those things. So blogging is definitely the key to marketing for me at not only educating your clients, but educating people that aren’t your clients yet. That’s going to help, you know, giving people, helping people before they’re even connected to you, I think is huge. And like you said, if, God forbid, something happens to Instagram, Facebook, Social, any of your socials, you have no control over those. So if something does happen to those, what are you going to do? How are your clients going to find you? How are your clients going to connect to you? So that’s why and it’s not like you can then start a blog when that happens, because then how are you going to get those people? You’re starting over. So start blogging from day one. That’s huge for me. You do such a huge blogger because I don’t want to be a slave to social media.
[00:30:39] Lisa DiGeso: No, me neither. You know what? The hack was really interesting and really enlightening on where the cracks are.
[00:30:45] Shalonda Chaddock: Yeah.
[00:30:46] Lisa DiGeso: And just even to, like, just going through everything and just like, where were we vulnerable and where do we need to be focusing more energy? Right. And what was crazy? So my website, actually, my milk and honey photography website got hacked in the beginning of December.
[00:31:01] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh, my gosh.
[00:31:02] Lisa DiGeso: So I still don’t have it back and all my likes. And I wasn’t ever really a blogger, but and also I haven’t really updated it since about 2018.
[00:31:09] Shalonda Chaddock: That’s probably why.
[00:31:12] Lisa DiGeso: Pretty much. And like, I’m pretty sure, like my, my password was like, like five easy letters. Like, I did it to myself. Right. Yeah. So now I’m like, okay, well, I’m going to restart. Like, what do I want this to look like? Right. I’m like, okay, that’s like, this is just.
[00:31:30] Shalonda Chaddock: And for you because you were already in a weird phase, you were already in a weird headspace, and then that happened. So it almost kind of forced you to say “redo”. Like, okay.
[00:31:39] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, it is. It’s like a do over. I’m like, I’m currently on Bookable because I’ve got no lead form and no one knows my email address, just like it was like I was timing perfectly with my sabbatical. So I’m like, I love out. No one can see my pricing either.
[00:31:53] Shalonda Chaddock: So there we go. I mean, look at that, right?
[00:32:03] Lisa DiGeso: Lemonade, baby lemonade.
[00:32:05] Shalonda Chaddock: I’m sure it was stressful, but.
[00:32:07] Lisa DiGeso: You know what? Oddly enough, I felt relieved, which was a weird feeling. And I was like, okay, something’s telling me that this wasn’t right for me. And I was. I kind of felt like a hamster wheel, and I didn’t know how to get off. So there you go.
[00:32:21] Shalonda Chaddock: You got a free ticket? I mean, a plus.
[00:32:22] Lisa DiGeso: Plus, yeah, I got my ticket. So press pause and reset.
[00:32:27] Shalonda Chaddock: How excited for you? I want to watch. I want to watch this. I want to watch this go down, man.
[00:32:31] Lisa DiGeso: It’s really fun to be fun. So what has been your most memorable session and why?
[00:32:38] Shalonda Chaddock: Lisa That’s like asking me what is my favorite salsa? And I live in Texas, so you can’t even ask that question. Like that’s not accessible. That’s unacceptable. Question I really.
[00:32:48] Lisa DiGeso: I had chips and salsa for breakfast.
[00:32:51] Shalonda Chaddock: Me too! I totally did too. I’m not even like I would tell my husband to text you. I told you.
[00:32:55] Lisa DiGeso: I’m like, I have the worst garlic breath.
[00:33:01] Shalonda Chaddock: Cause we had leftovers from yesterday.
[00:33:05] Lisa DiGeso: I was like, Oh, but you’re coming. Yeah. I’m like, You come in to work with me.
[00:33:11] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh, my gosh. Okay, so I can’t answer that, next question. I don’t have an answer. I love it like that. Every session. It’s something, you know.
[00:33:21] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. Are you ready for Lightning Round?
[00:33:23] Shalonda Chaddock: Yes. Do it. Okay.
[00:33:25] Lisa DiGeso: Coffee or tea?
[00:33:26] Shalonda Chaddock: Both. Sweet tea. Lots of creamer in my coffee. Love it.
[00:33:30] Lisa DiGeso: Most luxurious vacation you’ve ever been on.
[00:33:33] Shalonda Chaddock: Two weeks in Italy. I was thinking I was speaking at a conference and it was incredible. My kids went with me too, it was amazing.
[00:33:41] Lisa DiGeso: What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
[00:33:43] Shalonda Chaddock: This is going to age me. Saved By The Bell.
[00:33:45] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, me too. So good. So the last thing you did for yourself as an indulgence.
[00:33:52] Shalonda Chaddock: This is not a great answer, but I had to really think about this. It’s travel volleyball season, so sleeping past 5 a.m..
[00:33:59] Lisa DiGeso: Oh my gosh.
[00:34:01] Shalonda Chaddock: That’s my life, girl.
[00:34:03] Lisa DiGeso: So morning person or night owl.
[00:34:05] Shalonda Chaddock: Morning. Morning. Definitely. Morning.
[00:34:08] Lisa DiGeso: What did you want to be when you grew up?
[00:34:10] Shalonda Chaddock: A wedding planner or wedding dress designer? And I cannot draw. So I don’t know why I thought that I was going to be able to be a wedding. Just. I just liked weddings. I’m not a wedding photographer.
[00:34:20] Lisa DiGeso: I was a wedding planner. Yes.
[00:34:25] Shalonda Chaddock: You’re living my dreams.
[00:34:26] Lisa DiGeso: I’m now a photographer and I don’t do weddings. I was also a makeup artist. All right.
[00:34:30] Shalonda Chaddock: I can see that. I can see that I clearly was not a makeup artist with my chapstick in the mascara and God gave me two girls. And I don’t know why, because I don’t know how to French braid and I don’t know how to put makeup on.
[00:34:42] Lisa DiGeso: I love it.
[00:34:42] Shalonda Chaddock: Sorry. This is not a good lightning round. Go.
[00:34:45] Lisa DiGeso: Go to karaoke jam.
[00:34:47] Shalonda Chaddock: Warren G. Regulators. I know. I know, right? I know. You thought I was going to give you a country song, didn’t you?
[00:34:54] Lisa DiGeso: I did.
[00:34:55] Shalonda Chaddock: I do like country.
[00:34:56] Lisa DiGeso: But what makes your soul light up.
[00:34:59] Shalonda Chaddock: Any time with my core four, my little family.
[00:35:03] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, I love that.
[00:35:05] Shalonda Chaddock: Time is moving fast. So any time with them doing nothing, doing nothing, watching TV, playing board games, to play a lot of word games, we do poker contests and we like to dress up. So like we have poker tournaments on our weekends that we’re home and like, everyone dresses up as a different character. Yeah, love, they’re pretty intense too.
[00:35:24] Lisa DiGeso: What has been the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
[00:35:29] Shalonda Chaddock: Okay. That I’ve ever been given to me? Okay. Always say yes to your family. Always say yes to time for your family. I think, like I said, that one was a little hard when really, really big opportunities came around. I mean, it wasn’t hard, you know what I mean? Like it was just like, Oh, I feel like I should be doing this, but I know I shouldn’t. Yeah, so I didn’t. And something better or not, maybe not better, but something else came around later. So I’m always saying yes to my family and no to my business hat.
[00:35:58] Lisa DiGeso: What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
[00:36:01] Shalonda Chaddock: Book your own family pictures every year. Book your own family pictures every year. Because I think not only does it allow us to practice what we preach for our clients, constantly telling them they need pictures, any pictures, any pictures. So we’re giving them those, you know, we’re getting that for ourselves. But also, I think it shows you like where you’re succeeding and maybe where you’re falling short in your own business. When you see the process as a client, as opposed to just walking through the process as a photographer all the time. So going walking that process as a client I think is super important. So we do family pictures every year.
[00:36:36] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. It’s great. So where can I listeners learn more from you?
[00:36:42] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh. So my Chubby Cheek Photography website all my obnoxiously long Instagram captions.
[00:36:48] Lisa DiGeso: They’re great.
[00:36:49] Shalonda Chaddock: My obnoxiously long Instagram. No, I actually do, I give a lot of tips and tricks in my reels and in my captions, but I have a shop that’s connected for my website, so just go to ChubbyCheekPhotography.com and make sure you say Chubby Cheek and it’s not plural, or you may find yourself at a site that might be blocked at your business.
[00:37:08] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, I know.
[00:37:10] Shalonda Chaddock: Horrible business name choice 14 years ago, boutique photography dot com. And then there’s a shop button at the top. So super easy to find. Cool stuff to learn.
[00:37:19] Lisa DiGeso: Love that. So I love to end my interviews with this last question and it’s what are you currently curious about or artistically curious about?
[00:37:27] Shalonda Chaddock: That’s a tough question to end. What am I curious about? I don’t know. I think right now I’m just kind of in that moment of like, when will I be ready to move on from this? Like, it’s been a long time. I still love it now, but my kids are older and I’m older and I feel like, does that mean like that? I’m like, not supposed to be doing this anymore. I mean, I still love it. So I guess I should say I think I’m there. I’m just in that like, what’s going to be next for me? Yeah. My kids are only three and four years away from Abby’s a freshman and Camden’s in eighth grade, so they’re not that far away from leaving. And so it’s like, am I still going to do this later? Or, you know, am I going to.
[00:38:08] Lisa DiGeso: Like what’s next?
[00:38:09] Shalonda Chaddock: Move away? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll transition to do a different type of photography. You know, I’ve been doing commercial stuff, so maybe I’ll transition into that or maybe I’ll just put it away all together. Who knows?
[00:38:18] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. I love it.
[00:38:19] Shalonda Chaddock: I didn’t really an answer, but it’s what I’m curious about.
[00:38:25] Lisa DiGeso: Well, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s just been such a treat chatting with you.
[00:38:30] Shalonda Chaddock: Oh, I love you, lady. You’re so great.
[00:38:35] Lisa DiGeso: All my friends. I loved this conversation so much, and I love how Shalanda has incorporated, including her family, into her business, too. And what I really love the most was we were able to talk so candidly about our own phases of motherhood really affect our businesses, too. I am sending you so much of my light and my love today and every single day, and we’ll see you next time.
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