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Archive for March, 2015

Cindy Baxter: Selling the Story

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

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Cindy Baxter knows that childhood is fleeting. Capturing the perfect image of those wonder years is what she loves and she does it in a beautiful and unique way. She constructs theatrical settings complete with costumes, props and often animals that transport a child into their own story, creating a work of art that is timeless.

POUNDS: How did you become a photographer?
CINDY: When I was in the 7th grade I got a hold of my parents 110 camera and I loved it! I took pictures of everything. I cost them a small fortune back then in film processing! In high school I became the head photographer of the yearbook and I was hooked. I started my own studio out of my apartment when I was 19 and at 25 opened my first commercial storefront.

POUNDS: You have created quite a niche with your Storybook Sessions. How did this evolve?
CINDY: I was inspired to do theme-based portraiture by Lisa Jane. Although, the fairytale sessions like fairies and angels didn’t do well in my area so I developed a line of theme portraiture that were more “real to life” themes like the duck pond, country kids, baseball and football themes. I wanted to create works of art for my clients that included their children. I also base what kind of set I do on whether it is what I call, “WALL WORTHY”, in other words I only design a set that I believe my client would want a wall portrait of it. So you don’t see me doing things like candy shops or lemonade stands…I create themes that look like art pieces.

POUNDS: What is the best part of your job?
CINDY: Creating beautiful timeless images for my clients and the appreciation that they have for me is what I love best about what I do. Knowing that for generations people will be enjoying the portraits that I create just makes me happy!

POUNDS: Your Storybook Sessions are quite the production. Do you have a big warehouse of props or do you encourage people to bring their own items?
CINDY: I don’t have a big warehouse…lol! Just a huge studio! I do have tons of props, backgrounds and clothing. For most of my theme sessions I supply clothing up to size 8, although, for the themes that require normal clothing such as my “Winter Wonderland” theme, we just coach our clients on clothing ideas.

POUNDS: Speaking to the production end, you’ve successfully combined sets, props, animals and kids. Do you have a preproduction day where you dress the set? Tell us a little bit about your process.
CINDY: I normally build my sets the evening before the sessions begin. I have done most of my sets multiple times, so on average, it only takes me about an hour to build a set. The pond, my most complicated set, takes about 3 hours to set up.

When creating a new set it takes a few months to gather my thoughts on exactly what I want, search for the right background or have one designed, find props, foliage and other set elements. I then do a model call and photograph the set. This helps me decide on the poses and situations that I am going to photograph during the session to tell the story. It is important to not just photograph your subjects looking at the camera smiling for these theme sets. Creating real life scenarios and photographing children doing real life things in that situation is what makes theme sets true art for my clients’ walls.

POUNDS: How long does a typical photo Storybook session take?
CINDY: We normally schedule an hour for each session.

POUNDS: How do you keep everyone’s attention?
CINDY: I’ve been photographing children for 31 years so I have a ton of experience! I normally just start out talking to the children and asking questions that I know will make them smile naturally. I have a magic duck that I can flip in the air using one hand that I have them blow on. That’s my number one trick! It gets all of the children’s attention. Bubbles of course and a tickle stick (multi colored duster) work well.

POUNDS: Do you have a favorite theme session?
CINDY: My favorite session is my Duck Pond, I’ve been photographing it for 21 years, every spring. I just love how the children interact with the ducks and how natural the images look.

POUNDS: What inspires you?
CINDY: Most of my inspiration for my sets comes from child artists. In general, I’m inspired to be a photographer by all the beautiful people, children and adults that I see every day. Nothing is more important to me than capturing the heart and soul of my subjects and recording their life in a photograph that they will cherish forever.

POUNDS: How has Pounds factored in helping your business?
CINDY: The team at Pounds is the BEST!! My images always come back perfect. The product selection is helpful in giving me a variety of ways to please my clients!

POUNDS: You are great about posting to Facebook. What marketing advice would you give to fellow photographers?
CINDY: I’m good about Facebook but not as good as I need to be. It’s important to try to touch your clients every day in some way through social media. But more importantly, the Golden Rule is what I have always lived by. I treat my client the way I want to be treated. I never argue with a client and if they have any concern with any of their portraits I will fix it immediately! No hassles or questions asked. I don’t care if it is something I don’t even think it is an issue. I reprint and smile!

POUNDS: Where would you like to be in 10 years?
CINDY: I will be photographing for as long as I can stand and see…but in 10 years I will be semi-retired with a winter home in a warm climate!

You can learn more about Cindy Baxter and her studio at cindybaxterstudios.com.