The IPS Series: How to get your clients to love their artwork as much as you do

We’re starting a new series on the blog for photographers all about focusing on giving your clients gorgeous heirloom products that they are going to LOVE. 

IPS series for photographers by Nicole Starr Photography

You’ve seen the endless discussions and debates in online groups of photographers debating the two most popular business models in the industry— an all-inclusive model with the digital images included in the session fee, or a product-focused model where clients can choose their prints and albums through you and it’s often done as in-person sales (IPS).

I’ve seen photographers have tremendous success with both models, and it really is all about which one fires you up, which one you can get behind 100%, and which one makes you feel like you are providing the very best experience possible to your clients.

Personally, I’ve been using the IPS model for 5 years and it works wonderfully in my business.  I love getting together with my clients for their gallery reveal appointment after the session, playing their video slideshow, and watching them fall in love with the images we created together.  I love to see them get so excited as they choose their favorite images and decide where to enjoy those portraits in their homes.  I absolutely adore their reactions when they unwrap their packages and exclaim that it is so much more beautiful in person than they imagined, carefully turning the pages of their new linen album or unveiling their gorgeous new wall art.  

IPS series for photographers by Nicole Starr Photography

They come back for their next session, and before we’ve taken a single photo they are already talking about the album that they want to create or the new canvas they want to hang in their living room.  They realize that their portraits bring them so much joy where they can see them every day, and they don’t want to have them get lost on a hard drive somewhere where they will never see them or never get around to printing them.  They value the products and they value the service that comes along with it.  That is why I do what I do.

Whichever model you offer to your clients, you have to love what you sell.  If you love digitals, sell them!  If you love tangible keepsakes that you can see and feel, go with that!  That’s what it is all about.  If you love it and you are passionate about it, they will love it, too.

Me?  I looooooooove albums.  Some of my favorite memories growing up were sitting behind the sofa and poring through boxes of photographs and countless photo albums with my sister.  Now as an adult, I love being able to look through my grandparents’ albums that are many decades old, turning the pages that so many hands have turned and enjoying the stories that unfold on the pages.  So when I start talking about albums with my clients, they get excited right along with me and it makes them love these albums for their families, too.

IPS series for photographers by Nicole Starr Photography

I offer a few different types of albums to our clients.  These are the exact same albums that I print for my own family, so I really do stand behind their quality and beauty.  There is the fine art album, a beautiful linen album with ultra thick pages printed on photo paper with two different finishes on the pages.  The storybook album is a smaller album with press paper pages.  And finally, for a fun little gift I have added on the mini accordion albums that many families love sharing with grandparents.  

When I share our sample albums with the families that I work with, they get so excited to see the quality of these keepsake books and they immediately start imagining their photographs on the pages of the album.  We talk about sitting on the couch with their little ones, turning the pages and telling them their favorite family stories about when they were little.  These are not meant to be tucked away in a drawer somewhere, but to be enjoyed and to become a part of their daily life.

One of my favorite client stories recently was about Baby Blake.  She came to me for a newborn session, and returned for her first birthday session.  Her mom and dad told me that she was obsessed with babies, and that she loved looking at pictures of babies.  They had an album from her newborn session, and every morning she wanted to look through the book at all of the babies on the pages — she didn’t realize that every single photo was of Baby Blake!  This became her favorite book, and it’s going to become a memory that she has forever as she gets older and continues looking through the pages of her baby album.

IPS series for photographers by Nicole Starr Photography

I could say that I am so lucky that the families I work with value these products just as much as I do, but honestly, I don’t believe it’s luck.  I talk about our keepsakes all the time.  They are displayed prominently on my website, there are a ton of blog posts with product features, and I share these product photos all over my social media pages.  During the initial inquiry stage and during our first phone call, we start talking about which products will be the best fit for their family and get them dreaming about the new gallery wall they are going to create or the album that they will share with their children now and pass down to them 20 years from now.  They are excited to have tangible keepsakes before they even book their session.  I really do believe that when you are passionate about the experience you offer to your clients, you are going to get the type of clients that value the same things you do in their portrait experience. 

Stay tuned for our next post all about choosing products that complement your brand that your clients will love!

Cake Smash Series: 70+ Theme Ideas for your Next Cake Smash Session

Your baby's first birthday is coming up, and it's time to party!  What better way to celebrate than with a portrait session?  Personally, cake smashes are my FAVORITE! 

We've come up with a list of the most popular (and also some of the most unique!) ideas for first birthday sessions and cake smashes.  We hope that you'll be inspired to plan a one-of-a-kind cake smash for your baby's first birthday!

Cake Smash Themes, Nicole Starr Photography

Classic themes:

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Tea party
Dr. Seuss
Rubber Duckies
Sock Monkeys
Rainbow colors
Shabby Chic


Teddy bears
Farm animals
Woodland animals
Ocean animals
Zoo animals
Bumble bees

Seasonal cake smash theme ideas, Nicole Starr Photography


Winter wonderland
At the beach
Surf’s up
Cherry blossoms
Spring garden
Falling leaves
New Years Eve

Cake Smash Themes with Children's Books, Nicole Starr Photography

Classic Children’s Books:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Guess How Much I Love You
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Oh the Places You’ll Go
The Little Prince
Peter Rabbit/Beatrix Potter books
Where the Wild Things Are
Make Way for Ducklings
Blueberries for Sal
Goodnight Moon
Harry Potter
Winnie the Pooh
Peter Pan
Alice in Wonderland

Cake Smash Alternatives, Nicole Starr Photography

Food alternatives:

Spaghetti & meatballs
Pumpkin pie
Seasonal fruit (strawberries, blueberries)
Apples/apple pie for fall
Ice cream
Cookies & milk

You've got the perfect theme -- now what do you decorate with?  I provide all of the decor for my cake smash sessions at the studio.  Here are some of my favorite items I like to keep on hand to make our sessions a little more whimsical, creative, and fun!

Decor ideas:

Paper bunting in many shapes
Tulle balls
Tissue paper puffs
Twinkle lights
Patio lights
Cotton clouds
Hanging flowers
Ribbon streamers
Flower garlands
Eucalyptus garlands
Fake flowers to hang from the ceiling
Mason jars
Beaded curtains

Don't forget to check out the other posts in our Cake Smash Series!