Inspiring Views from the Bright SideSM
An Interview with Sara Kalish
Founder and Executive Director
Sara Kalish Photography | Hoboken, NJ
1. What are the goods/services offered by your primary business?
I specialize in natural light newborn and family photography.
2. What did you launch in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the pandemic, I was one of the first in my field to figure out a way of offering virtual newborn shoots to new parents! So many families had their hearts set on documenting such a special time and seeing as the kind of posed newborn photos I specialize in are extremely time-sensitive (must be done within the first 5-14 days after birth), it wasn't as if I could just ask the parents to wait a few months. There was a challenge in figuring out how I could offer something that so specifically relied on me being able to physically maneuver and pose the babies in person. But, I created a unique, safe method and have now helped close to 70 families. By the time this is published, the number could be higher 🙂
3. What steps did you take to develop and promote your new initiative?
I started with a friend in Texas and asked her to be my first model. I walked her through an in-home setup and experimented with a few poses I felt were safe and relatively easy to describe via video chat. Experimenting with my first few clients, I streamlined my process into a series of pre-shoot text messages and phone calls including all prep information and this lead up to a FaceTime (or other video chat) call the day of our session where I could walk them through everything from setup to posing to shooting (mostly with cell phone cameras!). Afterward, they send me the final images and I decide on the ones to edit.
4. What or who inspired you to undertake this effort?
Though in the bigger picture newborn photos aren't the most important thing to have - more of a luxury of course - so many parents had their heart set on capturing this time. The babies are only so tiny for a brief time. I felt awful that because of the pandemic, so many would have to give up on the images they'd been hoping for. I truly didn't think it would be possible to get them anywhere close to what I've been able to help them achieve over the past three months. It has been incredible and so rewarding knowing how much this means to them.
5. What results have you seen so far from this initiative?
What started out by me offering 1-2 baby poses has evolved into me now being able to offer some family shots as well in certain situations. I'm constantly pushing myself to offer more variety. One of the coolest results of developing a virtual photoshoot process is that I can now reach families ALL OVER THE WORLD. I had my first overseas client in the U.K., so I'm not really worldwide (yet!), but I've been able to work with families in California, Colorado, Texas, Chicago, South Carolina, and Florida, just to name a few.
6. How do you define success for your project?
I initially set out to accomplish 20 virtual shoots. Once I passed the 50 mark, I felt like I had accomplished something pretty big. I have decided to continue offering this service even once the restrictions from the pandemic end. I already see it as a success, but of course, more press about it wouldn't hurt. Another cool result is that I helped contribute over $1000 to a group called FLAG Hoboken - Hoboken's local First Line Responders Group - by donating a portion of proceeds to them directly.
7. What are the biggest challenges for you to meet your goal?
I would like to continue finding new safe ways to offer variety in what I can offer parents virtually. But the goal that I initially set out to accomplish has been reached. I developed this unique method and have had a steady flow of clients because of it.
8. How long do you anticipate continuing this effort?
The virtual sessions will now always be offered going forward!
9. What have you learned by undertaking this project?
I've learned that most of the time, when there's something I think I can't do, it's usually more the case that I'm scared (or too lazy) to try.
10. How can others learn more about your COVID-19 response efforts?
Know anyone expecting? Literally, anyone - anywhere. Have them reach out at least a month before their due date, so I can get them info on my virtual sessions and book them! I always try to accommodate last-minute requests if parents reach out once the baby is already here, but again, the sessions are extremely time-sensitive, so to make sure I can find them a spot, it's helpful if they reach out before baby arrives. Direct them to my website or Instagram for more info and examples!