When putting together a photo shoot for a novelist who writes mysteries, Crystal Tseng wanted to make sure her client got the perfect portrait.
Instead of doing just a standard headshot with boring backdrops, the owner of Crystal Tseng Photography stylized the shoot to make sure the image fit with the tone of her writing. She had the author avoid all bright colors and wear a dark color palette with her clothing choice. The dark background was also chosen as a way to convey the mysterious aspects of the writing. This attention to detail in all aspects of photography is all a part of Tseng’s new custom portrait studio that opened earlier this year in Ellicott City.
Tseng was first drawn to photography because she wanted to document her family through the birth of her children and traveling. She and her husband immigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 2007 to continue their education.
The idea for the business first came after a friend’s wedding where her daughter was the couple’s flower girl. Tseng brought her camera and captured some pictures which she later shared with the couple. When the newlyweds got their pictures back from the hired professional photographer, they were disappointed and felt Tseng took better photos of their nuptials. They encouraged her to start her own business.
As her children got older, she started to consider opening a photography business to bring in extra income and do a job she would enjoy. Tseng made a post on Facebook offering her photography services and has been busy ever since.
While the new studio provides traditional photography services, it also offers styling sessions to include professional makeup, hair styling and clothing selection. Tseng notes one of the first questions clients have after hiring her is “What should I (and others) wear?” Additionally, she has partnered with the website Style & Select to coordinate outfits for clients by having them fill out surveys to find the best looks for their photos.
Tseng also works to design the display of clients’ portrait series in their homes to ensure the photos fit seamlessly. Clients will send photos of where the images will be located to help to bring cohesion to the environment and to make sure the process runs smoothly.
“This helps us build trust between the studio and the client,” she said. “They are in good hands and they know they are very well taken care of from the very beginning. This helps them feel confident and allows them to be themselves and enjoy the photo shoot without worrying about anything else.”
She decided to have a formal studio so clients could feel safe and have privacy. Some photographers just meet people at a location, but Tseng wanted clients to feel comfortable in a designated photography space that includes a photo studio as well as an ordering room to look at photos. “They can enjoy every step of the creative process,” she said.
Tseng works hard to make sure people feel happy and confident during the entire process. “When the clients love their pictures so much and even tear up at their ordering appointment, it is a very powerful and touching moment,” she said. “(It) feels great to make people feel very happy and bring home a portrait that they are happy and proud to show their friends and family. …I feel my life is much more enriched because of this job.”
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