December 3rd, 2009
I imagine the proposal went something like this: "Dearest Carrie, light of my life, I adore you. I want to start a family with you and grow old with you. Will you marry me — provided that you start your own children’s photography business?"
It was THAT obvious to everyone around her: Carrie should be shooting kids with her camera. Not galavanting around the world with the film industry, working on production and finance. Not frustrated as all get out because of some mishap on the set of ConAir or some lousy Elizabeth Hurley movie. She should be at home in Los Angeles, in the faces of small children with a trusty 35mm 1.4 lens, capturing their spirit and humor.
Carrie Cook started her business in 2002, and it has flourished in the years since then. She changed the name of her business to Urban Baby early in the game, and the modern/chic aesthetic that name conjures up accurately describe the vibe she brings to the photography industry.
Our interview focuses on what is necessary to make a business flourish. At seven years and counting, Carrie is one of the trailblazers of the child photography specialty in portraiture. She was a lifestyle photographer before anyone knew what that meant, and she was taking risks with her images of children long before most people knew child photography existed.
Working twenty to thirty hours a week, Carrie recommends making a schedule and sticking to it. She works from a home office, never having found the ‘perfect’ space for her business. While "time management is always a work in progress," Carrie refuses to let her love of photography overshadow her love of her children. Typical days involve a juggle of mothering and business, with trips to school and the park scheduled right beside portrait sessions and client correspondence. The Urban Baby founder says she used to think she could do everything herself, then gave in and hired a part-time nanny. She also keeps an assistant on the payroll during the busy months of September through December. Carrie also admits to adoring album design, and hearts Renaissance Albums most of all.
“Time management is always a work in progress.”
When it comes to branding a business, Carrie strongly encourages everyone to hire a designer. Her go-to talent is Kelley Lilien , who also owns Pink Dot Press . Carrie admits to being a sucker for the "modern meets organic" aesthetic, and Kelley delivers. Design comes up again when asked what serves as inspiration. Design Sponge , Simple Song , Oh Joy , Decor8 , and All Things Lovely make the list of her favorite design blogs, while Anna Wolf and Sally Mann offer inspiration of the photographic variety.
Carrie is quite candid about the path of her business, spilling details about its profitability, early investments, and marketing secrets. Listen to the full interview here or download the .mp3 here .