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Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Lesson 41 of 42

Who Inspires Me

Kirsten Lewis

Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

41. Who Inspires Me


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 12:53 2 What Makes a Picture Successful? 05:34 3 Technical Tips: ISO 15:37 4 Technical Tips: Aperture 12:00 5 Technical Tips: Shutter Speed 11:10 6 Technical Tips: Focus 13:07 7 Using Light to Tell a Story 07:49 8 Using Composition to Tell a Story 09:06

Lesson Info

Who Inspires Me

So, who inspires me? I get this question all the time. Well, first of all, my students inspire me. You inspire me. These are your photos. These are good photos. These are photos that make me wanna make better photos. Margaret, this photo made me really laugh hard. (laughing) Also, Linda's coming up made me laugh really hard, also. (students laughing) (chuckling) And, Marcy's. My daughter is my inspiration now. I've been photographing her since I brought her home. In the very beginning, it was just on my iPhone and I did not care. That's my dog Mingus. That's my first baby. I also found that I liked photographing her when things, when I felt like she was in pain. So, I photographed all the shots she got in the doctor's office and... She had hip dysplasia, so I photographed that process of getting her-- She was so little when she got her brace. She's a good subject. And I'm trying to photograph her as a photographer, not as a mom. You guys saw that one. Someone was like, "Uh, no seatbelt...

." I was like, "Sergeant Tina." I don't know. (students chuckling) I'm also inspired by her relationship with her father. They have a really fun relationship. And we're lucky we get to take her around the world. She's been to 13 different countries and she's a year and a half. But, I want to talk to you about something that's really important to me, and I appreciate Creative Live for supporting me with this. Some of my biggest inspirations for photography are female photographers. And, we live and work in an industry, and it doesn't-- You guys don't notice it that much, as much, because family photography is female dominated, which actually is also an issue for me because it's like, it's like there's this pressure that men can't shoot families and it's crazy, like-- I actually gave preferential treatment. I had no choice over your audience, but I did ask if any men applied to please let them in. And obviously, none applied. And that, I'm like trying to fight the cause that, like, more men should feel comfortable, you know, shooting families. But outside of this genre, women are really under represented in this industry. And, we deal with stuff like this all the time. And I'm not asking for anything more. I'm just asking for more equal representation. And in addition to that, photographers of color, people of color, women of color, are even less represented in this industry, and I'm talking about at conferences. I'm talking about, you know, at ambassador programs with camera companies. I'm talking about even workshops like-- It all started way back when and I realized this when I was in Europe in the museums. And I'm walking through with my daughter and it's all men painters. All of 'em. I, like, was trying to count. I would say to Greg, I was like, " There's like two women female painters in this entire museum." Like, you know that women were painting, but why weren't they represented. I don't understand. Like, they weren't celebrated. And then I thought about our family. So, my great grandfather by marriage, it's my step-dad's grandfather, is a really famous illustrator, C.E. Chambers. But you know who was better than him? His wife. Who taught him. But he got famous and we have hardly any of her canvases or her drawings because they weren't available. And so, I feel like this needs to be said loudly that these-- And I'm not saying-- Men are not bad. It's ingrained in us, in our society that there's an imbalance and I'm thinking with women being 50% of the consumers of camera products, then maybe we should have 50% more representation. And that includes photographers of color, as well. And so, I just wanna encourage everyone to seek out more inspiration from female photographers, from people of color. We need to be celebrating them, sharing their photos. We need to be suggesting them to the conferences. We need to make it heard by conference leaders that this is important to us. We want to see more balance. It's only fair. And to just be more conscious of it because I think it's not like they're being mean, or saying we're not gonna have women or we're not gonna have people of color. They're not even thinking about it. They're not making an active, like an active decision, right? And they need to because women need to feel like their voice is being heard, right? We're all making these pictures, so our voices should be heard. People of color's voices should be heard. They should feel like they are being represented. And so, I'm gonna share with you. Can't share with you their photos 'cause, you know, legal things right now, but Dorothy Lange, Mary Ellen Mark, Sally Mann, Amy Vitale, Julie Blackmon, Darcy Padilla, Niki Boon, Susan Stripling, Jenna Shouldice, Olivia Vale, Elizabeth Fladung, Jenny Jimenez, Sarah Naomi Lewkovitz, Rebecca Kiger, Anna Kuperburg, Adama Delphine, Yaga-- I love her work. Yagazie Emezi, Nina Robinson, Melissa Bunni Elian, Lorena Simpson, Adrienne Raquel, Those are just a few and I'm gonna make an effort to try and share as many as I can on my business page when I see a beautiful photographer and share them, and I'm actively telling conference leaders and workshop promoters and then people in the education about people that I think they're voices need to be heard more. And hopefully, even in the world of photo journalism, more female photographers will be celebrated and respected and shared and appreciated. But I think it's important, especially, I'm in a room of all women. We need to be represented more in this industry, and respected for what we do. We're not asking for more, in terms of balance, we're just asking for it to be equal.

Class Description

Building a successful family portrait business takes more than capturing a good image. Not only do you need the tools to create family memories that your clients will love, but you also have to know how to set up a business that will make money and keep your clients and their referrals coming back. Award-winning photographer and international educator Kirsten Lewis returns to CreativeLive to teach all of this and more in the third class in her series on family storytelling photography.

In this class Kirsten will cover:

  • The psychology of photographing families and how to really “see” your subjects
  • How she collaborates with families and other creative professionals
  • How to stay present in the moment to capture authentic and timeless images
  • How to set up your business for success and sales

Kirsten will pull back the curtain to show you the nuts and bolts of her business and how she continues to be successful in this unique area of family photography.



I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!