Image of a sleeping baby wrapped with a grey blanket - Featuring Katie Van Buren rebranding shift from weddings to portraits

Featuring Katie Van Buren

When Katie Van Buren of Van Buren Photography started her career as a wedding photographer 20 years ago, she was younger than most of the brides she photographed.

“I connected with them at the time because of where I was in my own life and my business reflected that.”

For years, Katie says her business was made up of 85% weddings and 15% portraits, but things changed as Katie’s clients started their own families. “Eventually, I was getting more portrait work than wedding shoots.” I was in the middle of asking Katie how she so seamlessly turned (rebranded) her wedding clients into portrait clients when she started laughing. She blurted out, “Oh how funny!” Then went on to explain that while we were talking she got an email from a recent wedding client. “It says, ‘Hope you’re doing well! We just had a baby and wanted to get some pictures done.’” The answer to my question was all too clear.

Portrait of a newborn baby chuckling in sleep - Featuring rebranding from weddings to portraits

Good Marketing, Social Media, and The Occasional Email Blast

Katie credits good marketing, social media, and the occasional email blast for her steady stream of portrait clients. “It’s important to make sure your clients know what you do outside of weddings.”

The 20-year photography veteran says it’s never too early to pitch your studio work. “When you’re doing their engagement session, you can talk about the other types of photography that you do so they have an awareness of it.” Katie says you don’t have to wait for your couples to have kids to book them for portraits. “If your wedding clients know you do family portraits, they might not have a baby yet, but maybe they have a family reunion coming up or a gathering around the holidays”

At Van Buren Photography, it’s all about what Katie calls “Your Life Cycle.”

“If they come in and you do a maternity session, there’s an opportunity for a newborn session and milestones, like their six months or one year.” Katie says being consistent and following up to get those future bookings is key in the offseason. “Babies are born year-round. So they hit their milestones year-round, which gives you more business throughout the year.” Katie also recommends branching out into other areas of photography. “Corporate portraits are great for your off-season. It’s during the week, during business hours, and people need them done at any time of the year.”

A close-up shot of a mother embracing holding her baby

The Fine Art of Rebranding Your Photography Business

Katie’s wedding-client-to-studio conversion tactics have proven so successful that she is actually in the middle of a complete rebranding to focus solely on portraiture. “It’s been a five-year plan to move away from weddings, so we’ve made the decision, as of this year, to push further ahead with our portrait brand.”

Several years ago, Katie divided her portrait and wedding brands online, creating different websites and portfolios for each. It was a strategic and important distinction that she discovered by trial and error. “A bride is looking for a wedding photographer. She isn’t interested in baby pictures. She wants to see brides and venues.” But Katie says the opposite is true for portrait clients. “A new mom coming in for a newborn shoot doesn’t want to see wedding pictures or brides. She only wants to see newborns and hear what her experience is going to be like with a newborn shoot.”

Portrait of a sleeping newborn baby with a white-flowered tiara and a white-colored soft toy

Settling Down But Not Slowing Down | Van Buren Photography

For a while, Katie tried to manage both brands, but eventually, her baby fever got the best of her. The Denver, Colorado-based photographer knew it was time to give up weddings and rebrand when she found herself bypassing photos of couples and heading straight to portraits at photography conventions. “It’s like an internal shift that happened, and all of a sudden, I was gravitating toward images of newborn babies, maternity shoots, and families.”

Katie followed her heart toward portraits and was able to adjust her business to suit her changing lifestyle. “It’s interesting that the evolution of my business has gone down this path because now I can relate to my former wedding clients who have transitioned to having families.”

When her kids started getting older and more active in sports and weekend activities, Katie was drawn to the flexibility of studio work. “I love that I can do a portrait session on Saturday morning at 9 am and then be done and have the entire weekend off, where a wedding takes up an entire Saturday and then I’m exhausted on Sunday.”

After 20 years of shooting weddings, Katie says she’s thrilled to be doing something that is lighting her fire again. “It feels pretty invigorating to want to grow and be creative with my newborn studio.” Katie hopes the next 20 years of her photography career will be just as rewarding as the last, especially now that working weekends is optional.

Three young girls walking hand-in-hand through the woods

Part of Our SDE Customer Base

Here at ShootDotEdit, we’re proud to call Katie Van Buren part of our SDE Customer Base. Over her 20-year career as a photography professional, she has captured some truly breathtaking images in both weddings and newborn photography sessions. Every editing job we receive from Van Buren Photography reminds us of why we got into the photo editing business in the first place.

“We used to have the Roll Over Plan with ShootDotEdit, but I think it was about three years ago when we switched to the Unlimited Plan and that was a game-changer for us.”

Katie Van Buren of Van Buren Photography

Rebranding might not be everyone’s calling, but it could shape the course of your photography career. For more insight into Van Buren Photography, check out Van Buren’s website or follow them on Instagram @vanburen_photography, especially if you’re a new mom in the Denver, Colorado area. You won’t be disappointed!

Portrait of a young boy wearing a brown check shirt

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